Sunday, December 19, 2010

Original Art from the ArtMix Guild on

Blue Dryad original watercolor drawing Framed and ready to hang

On, artisans can join a guild, a group of like-minded artisans. ArtMix Guild is a group of mixed media artists.

The above original watercolor art showcases the talent of Stacey Merrill, one of the members of ArtMix.  This beautiful art is available in Stacey's studio, ArtSnark, on

Stacey offers mixed media art, as well as watercolor art and other mediums.

Follow this link to visit her shop, and tell her "Linda said to say Hi!"

Today may be the last day to shop for Christmas....           Go for it!

Linda Harbin

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa's Sleigh Bells

This painting hangs in my bedroom and always brings back memories when I see it. My mom painted it when she was in her 70s and gave it to me. This painting is her memory of  the farm house and land that belonged to my grandparents in rural Iowa.  My parents and I lived in a small mobile home on the same farm.  I loved the farm animals, fishing in the small creek down the dirt road, picking wild strawberries, and all the other adventures that growing up on a farm can bring.

My favorite Christmas memory happened on this farm.  Our family always gathered at my grandparent's house for Christmas Eve when I was growing up in the early 1950s. Christmas was exciting, with my grandma cooking special food and lots of pies and decorating her house. It was one of the times when my aunts and uncles all came, bringing all my cousins. Everyone would stay over and we'd have fun on Christmas day going sledding.

One year an older cousin put on Grandpa's big boots and secretly went outside to make "Santa tracks" in the snow.  He walked in those big boots around my grandparent's house and out to the driveway. After he came back in, we gathered all the little cousins and took them outside to show them the Santa foot prints - to prove that Santa knew where Grandpa and Grandma's house was and he would surely come back that night to leave presents.

They were amazed. They stood there in their bulky snowsuits and snow boots staring at the big footprints. Then we told them to  look up in the sky to see if we could see Santa with his sleigh and reindeer.

I remember it was one of those very cold, still winter nights in Iowa.  As we all stood in the deep snow  looking up at the stars in the sky, suddenly we heard sleigh bells from far away!  The little cousins started screaming "I hear Santa! I hear him!!" while the rest of us looked at each other and wondered who had planned that little trick. The little ones were so thrilled and delighted!  We quickly agreed "Yes, those are Santa's sleigh bells!!"

None of us had planned anything. Later we talked about it and all we could ever figure out was that somewhere down the road or across the fields, another farm family decided to celebrate their Christmas eve by going outside and ringing their strap of sleigh bells. Their timing was perfect for our family! The only other explanation? Maybe it really was Santa...

What's your favorite Christmas memory?  I hope it makes you smile...

Linda Harbin

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Vintage Christmas Ornaments

I love vintage Christmas ornaments! I began collecting them over 30 years ago, when I ws browsing through a thrift store right after Thanksgiving and found a tiny thin box of twisted metal icicles. I immediately remembered that my grandparents hung these same little icicles on their Christmas tree years before. As I purchased them, I felt like I had found a true treasure!

That year I also purchased a new set of bubble lights for my tree. They were not exactly the same as the ones my grandparents had used on their tree, but they were pretty and bubbled and I loved them.

Since that time, I've collected many different styles of vintage Christmas ornaments. Many I've found in thrift stores in late November. I think people start sorting through their ornaments about this time and donate the older ones, not realizing that they may be valuable vintage ornaments. Often in a thrift store, I'll find a beautiful paper-thin vintage glass ornament in a plastic bag filled with modern day ornaments.

When I discovered eBay and other online venues, I purchased a few special ornaments, like one from Russiea and a few clip-on birds. I have a tall narrow tree that looks victorian that I decorate each year with my vintage ornaments, plus ones that I've handmade or painted.

Earlier this year, I responded to a reporter's query looking for a Florida resident who collected vintage ornaments. I unpacked my ornaments and took several photos to send him, and also wrote about my collecting tips and how to store vintage ornaments. One of my photos and most of my writing made the final edit for his article. You can find it online at:
At the top of the page click on "inside Scene" then choose "past issues" from the drop down menu. When the photos of the past covers come up, choose the November issue. Use the arrow on the right side of thecover to turn the pages through the issue until you see the vintage ornaments on the left and the article on the right. Click in the middle of these two pages to zoom in and see the photos close up and read the article. Most of the writing on the right side of the article is mine. The little brass tree and ornaments in my photo is on display all year long in my art studio. I love the photos from the other collectors too, especially the santas.

Below are more photos of some of my favorite vintage ornaments:

It's so easy to start your own collection of vintage Christmas goodies.  Out there somewhere, right where you live, a special vintage ornament or decoration is just waiting to be found!

Merry Christmas!
Linda Harbin

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

For those night time feathered friends!

I have the perfect solution for those birds who want to come to my back yard at night and have a late night snack - a lighted bird feeder!

I'm just teasing!  I looked out my window and my bird feeders were glowing like they were lighted inside. The evening sunset was shining directly on them and they were beautiful.  So I snapped this photo and wanted to share it with you!

I wonder what the birds were thinking when they saw this!  I have cardinals who come right at dusk and I'll bet they wondered about all the light.

And that's sand in the photo, not snow. This is Florida and yes, it's cold this week, but no snow. :o)

Click on the word "comments" below to read the comments left by those who have read and enjoyed this little story. Please feel free to leave your own comment too.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Handmade Holidays in our Family

Our family has always celebrated all things handmade. This is a tradition that my mother started. Growing up, for Christmas I always received a doll with handmade clothes from my mother. Later, as I got older, she made clothes as gifts for me too.

She drew her own patterns and  made turtle pillows, Raggedy Ann dolls and clown dolls for her grandchildren in Florida. One of these Raggedy Ann dolls still sits in my sister's kitchen in Orlando in a vintage highchair. Mom made fluffy comforters for all of us one Christmas. Our mom also made ceramic gifts like cookie jars and animals which we cherish now too. When she was 70 years old, my mom started painting and these were shared as gifts. I have two of her paintings hanging in my home today.  The snow scene above is her painting of the farm where we lived when I was in grade school.

I live in Florida now, a couple of hours from my sister, Shirley.  We continue to have handmade holidays. Our Thanksgiving table each year has a centerpiece of gold, green and brown silk flowers and leaves, one my sister and I made years ago.  Our cookies, cakes, pies and the special cranberry relish are all handmade by our family too.

Our family creates wonderful handmade gifts and decorations for Christmas. They all share their talents through scrapbooking, sewing, embroidery, wood carving, art and decorative painting. When I first moved to Florida and joined in the Christmas activities with my sister's family, I decided to give everyone a Christmas tree ornament each your - over 30 each Christmas. For many years I've painted round glass Christmas balls to give as gifts for our family. Each year I designed and painted a different glass ornament. I love seeing my handpainted ornaments with angels, birds, Santas and reindeers on the Christmas tree in my sister's home. Last year for the children, I made little plush teddy bears sitting on a wooden block as their ornament.  The grownups got Christmas fortune cookies too, with happy fortunes of course!

I've also given handpainted Christmas gifts like a big rock painted into a turtle and this rock painted into a basket full of puppies.

My brother-in-law, Charles, is a woodcarver and each year gives every adult in our family a beautiful handcarved Victorian Santa. My sister paints each one carefully with lovely colors.  Everyone in our family cherishes their Christmas Santas from Charles and Shirley. One year I received a handcarved cowgirl doing a country dance, one year my gift was a carousel horse and one year I received an American Indian bust.  Last year Charles also made each of the ladies in our family a beautiful musical jewelry box from maple, cherry or oak wood.

My niece, Susan, is a wonderful seamstress and also does beautiful machine embroidery. One year she gave me a unique denim shirt for Christmas - covered with westie dogs, in honor of my own little westie, Samson. The westies on my shirt are celebrating the Fourth of July and having a picnic! 

I can't share with you the gifts I'm making for this Christmas, as my family visits my blog here, but I promise to post photos after Christmas. Hint: dogs and more painted dogs. 

I believe that handmade gifts are truly gifts from the heart. Something that someone made just for you is far more special than a purchased gift because it's one of a kind and made with love. Why not share your love in a new way and try making something unique to give away this Christmas!

Wishing you a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!
Linda Harbin

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Make a Fast and Easy Spooky Ghost for your yard!

Yes, I know Halloween is in three days, but I guarantee you that this ghost is very easy to make and fast too!  And best of all, it will be a BIG one and sway in the wind in your yard....and you can see through it too, so it's really spooky!  It will take you longer to read this article than it will to make your first ghost!

Start with one panel of a white nylon or polyester sheer curtain.  You can use a full length panel or a shorter 54" one.

You will freehand draw your ghost on this panel with the top of the ghost and her two hands at the top where the rod pocket is located.  Do not include the hem in your design, as this will make the ghost too heavy to blow in the wind.

Below is a drawing of how to design your ghost.  This is not a pattern, just a drawing to show you the placement of the top of the head and hands at the top of the rod pocket.  You do not cut open the top rod pockets on the hands and head.  There is no right or wrong to any pattern you will still look spooky.   I had a wide panel that was 54" long, so I cut it in half and made two ghosts. 

The second photo above shows using one long panel. You can make the bottom wavy and narrow, like in this sketch.  Or you can leave it wide and wavy like the photo above or make a fringe on the bottom like in the photo below.  Just make sure you cut off the hem of the curtain.

After you cut out your ghost, draw and cut out the mouth and two eyes. You can make an open mouth or add teeth at the top or bottom if you want.  I used a black marker to draw around the mouth and eyes, although you don't have to do this.

You will need a 3/8 dowel or something similar, even a straight stick will work, to hang your ghost up. I painted my dowel black so it wouldn't show at night. 

Thread the dowel through one hand, then the head, then the other hand using the rod pocket or the top hem above the rod pocket. .  Attach a long cord, I used dark brown, to hang your ghost in your yard.  On one ghost I twisted the arm one time before putting it on the dowel...just for fun.

Total time to cut them out and paint around the mouth and eyes - less than an hour.  A flashlight in a coffee can pointed at your ghost will be spooky too! Have fun!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The secret to growing a beautiful Boston Fern!.

I've always marveled at those big, beautiful Boston Ferns that hang on the porches of homes every summer, making them look like a show home from Southern Living magazine.

I have never had good luck growing a Boston Fern.  Two years ago I saw some small Boston Ferns in 8" pots in my local Home Depot's plant area priced at only $8.00 each. So I came home with three of them.

At the time I was living in a three story house on the water in Homosassa, Florida with lots of ocean breezes mixed with a long summer rainy season. I wanted these ferns for my second story wrap-around deck, where  I would enjoy them through my many windows in the living room and dining room areas.

I decided to try some pots that hold water at the bottom and the plant draws the water from there as it is needed. I purchased three plastic pots from my local discount store that had this area on the bottom for water. I put the three ferns on my deck and monitored the water, making sure the area below the plant and dirt had water in it at all times.

As the Boston Ferns grew, I replanted them again into larger pots, using the same kind of pots. They grew beautifully all summer. When winter came, I moved one of them inside, behind two sliding glass doors that faced the east, so it would get good morning light. The other two were left outside all winter, only coming inside on cold nights. Florida had a very cold winter last year with below freezing many nights.

The inside fern continued to grow and flourish. When I moved to a different house in May of this year, I was worried about my inside fern as this house has no east windows for morning sunlight. So I put my big fern right inside my two sliding glass doors that face the west, where it now gets the afternoon sunshine and light.

This inside fern seems happy here and continues to grow and get thicker. Yes, a few leaves do fall from the underneath side close to the pot, but that is normal. I continue to keep it watered from the bottom, and fertilize it once every two or three months.  The two other ferns are outside on my front porch facing the east and doing well, but much smaller than this inside fern.

These two photos were taken yesterday. The first photo shows the fern in the afternoon sunlight.  The other photo was taken facing the west showing the sliding glass doors with the afternoon sun coming in.

I hope I have encouraged you to try growing a Boston Fern! Good luck and don't give up!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Secret of the Witches!

Yes, it's almost time for decorating and celebrating that spooky Halloween holiday. I've gathered my Halloween art and will be listing it in both Etsy and ArtFire under MidwestieLady.

I love witches! This mixed media art shares the witches secret. The words read:

The week before Halloween, they gather to launder their slips."

And the witches secret? Underneath all those black dark dresses and clothes, they wear bright colors and patterns in their slips!

I was inspired to create this piece after I brought home several sample books of drapery fabrics. Suddenly I could see all the bright fabrics as slips under the witches' dark drab dresses! I painted the two witches and their big pot of sudsy water, the background trees and the two little cats. I then created the trees, clotheslines and the slips - hanging them from the trees with little clothespins.

I hope you enjoy my Halloween art!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm listing new items in my new ArtFire Studio!

Come to visit Midwestie Lady Art Studio at:

My ArtFire studio officially opened on October 1, 2010. I listed my first art on October 4th. Yes, I know it says that the studio has been around since 2009, but that's because I reserved the name "MidwestieLady" back in 2009, knowing I would open a studio there some day.

I listed my bicycle art first, followed by my altered bottle "Lady in Lace." In order to be scanned by Google, I had to rewrite my titles and descriptions for these listings, which was an interesting process. I did enjoy the rewriting and editing though.

I'm still learning my studio tools and setup. Hopefully I'll figure out how to add sections, so I can list more art. I have several new pieces of art to add soon too.

Come and visit me!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What does Excellent Customer Service look like?

This week was Christmas for me! Over the years, I've read lots of articles and blogs about customer service. I've included many of the ideas in my own shop, craft shows and other venues. This week, I received a package in the mail that was the perfect example of EXCELLENT customer service.

I ordered fibers, decorative yarns, from a seller on Etsy. I want to include some colorful fibers in my mixed media art and as accents in my packages and on my journals I'm making. I spent quite a bit of time on Etsy looking at all the different types and colors of fibers and finally chose a seller that offered a variety of fibers.

After a couple of emails where I explained what I was looking for and she explained what she had, I ordered 2 yards each of 10 different colors/types, and let her choose for me.

I received a brown Kraft envelope and when I opened it, this is when my Christmas in September began. This is what I saw first:

My package was a clear cello envelope wrapped and tied with ivory tulle tied in the center with a pink silk ribbon. Two lovely tags were attached to the center, a vintage image of a little girl and a stamped "Thank you."

As I untied the tulle and ribbon, I found my next surprise - a stack of three beautiful gifts tags in separate cello envelopes. Two tags were chip board and one was a Kraft paper tag with bunnies and glitter. What beautiful freebies!

Then I discovered that each separate color and type of fiber was wrapped on a single, scented Kraft tag and enlcosed in a separate, sealed cello bag:

I carefully unwrapped each fiber package so I could hang up the fibers to let them straighten out. I don't think that ironing them is an option and I also love the look of them hanging in my art studio. Then I realized that I now had a collection of stained, scented Kraft tags that the fibers were wrapped on - tags that I could use for gifts or giveaways. Some of the tags I received were stamped with designs and colors, others were plain, but all were unique and beautiful!

As I unwrapped this package of fibers, it did feel like a Christmas gift. I felt like the seller really cared about choosing my fibers and delivering them to me in a personal way. I sent her a message thanking her for the beautiful fibers and the amazing packages, and asked her permission to share my experience here on MidwestieLady. She agreed, saying:

"Yes, yes, please ---you may ----Blessings to you! I love to sell on Etsy. So my heart and soul goes into all that I do. Thank you so much.
If it inspires or helps, yes ... by all means... I would be honored for sure.
hugs and stay in touch!
Jezelle -very happy!"

Jezelle does put her heart and soul into her shop, MonarchLineage, and I'm sure that every purchase from her is handled just like mine was!

Here they are - my purchase of colorful fibers, including some freebie fiber too!

Thank you, Jezelle, for giving me Christmas in September!

I received a message from Jezelle today, thanking me for posting this article about her, and telling me that she is moving to Maine and will have to temporarily close her shop. So if you stop by to see her shop, it's closed for a bit, but she will open it after she gets settled in Maine. Jezelle, I hope your move goes smoothly!

Linda Harbin

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A new Group Offer from ArtFire

Recently I've explored the internet checking out different sites that I might use to sell my art. One site I looked at was ArtFire. They don't charge a seller for listings and take no percent out of your sales. I signed up for a studio there a while back, but have never listed any items there. But I plan to now.

THIS WEEK I received an email from ArtFire about a Group Offer. Imagine a Pro Account there with all the features for $5.95 per month-with no costs to list items and no final sale costs!

Here are the details posted on ArtFire:

"We've been keeping a very special promotion tightly under wraps for the last week. Some of you may have been given a few hints or a heads up from the ArtFire Maven team, who we want to thank profusely for helping us ‘focus group’ many parts of this deal and who were on hand when we needed help testing. A big thanks to our Mavens, we couldn’t have pulled this off without you.

ArtFire will be exiting beta very shortly and to celebrate we’re offering, for a limited time only, the chance for up to 50,000 members to lock-in a Pro account for $5.95/month. The initial deal does have a few conditions; mainly that we need a minimum of 20,000 people to opt in at the $5.95 rate before we can give anyone this incredible rate. We want to be very clear, by opting in you are not getting a $5.95/month Pro account right away. Your information is securely stored and will not be charged unless the deal is on. If we don’t meet the minimum threshold, nobody gets a $5.95 account, your credit card isn’t charged, and your existing account and any associated subscriptions will not be affected."

I've spent quite a bit of time on ArtFire this week, checking out this Group Offer, reading in the forums, looking at what is selling there, and comparing the costs of having an Etsy shop with an ArtFire studio. Sellers there don't renew, so I wouldn't have costs of renewing daily like in my Etsy shop.

Stay tuned...I'll be setting up my ArtFire studio in a few days, and learning the ropes over there.

Come on over and check it out:


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rain Bird Do Over

After posting the photo and article about my Rain Bird and his poem, I decided that the photo showed how plain the canvas was. So, I'm in the middle of a Do Over for the Rain Bird canvas. I'll be posting a new photo on Monday, showing rain clouds, a different color on the umbrella, new legs and the poem. Yes, I'm having fun with this! :o)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rain Bird sings "Rain Rain Go Away"

This little Rain Bird jumps into the summer rain with his umbrella and Wellington boots! He scampers in the summer flowers, singing and chirping.

Rain rain go away
Come again some other day
Little Birdy wants to play
Rain rain go away

History of "Rain rain go away" poem:
The origin of the lyrics to "Rain rain go away" are said to date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), one of the English Tudor monarchs. During this period of English history there was constant rivalry between Spain and England culminating in the launch of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The Spanish Armada consisted of many Spanish galleons and was sent to invade England. The Armada was led by Duke of Medina Sedonia and the the fleet numbered over 130 ships. The English fleet, under Admiral Lord Howard, totalled 34 small Navy vessels and 163 armed merchant ships. But the great Spanish Armada was defeated. Only 65 Spanish galleons and just 10,000 men returned to Spain. The attempt failed, not only because of the swift nature of the smaller English ships but also by the stormy weather which scattered the Armada fleet. Hence the origin of the "Rain rain go away" Nursery rhyme!

The original version of Rain Rain Go Away:

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!

My Rain Bird art is a combination of acrylics, paper sculpture and beads. Created on a gallery-wrapped canvas, this little bird is sure to brighten nursery walls.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Friendly Fox Squirrel

I have a new visitor in my yard - a Florida fox squirrel! I had never seen one until I moved to this house in the rural area of Citrus Springs in May and was amazed when I saw the first one. They are HUGE and have the longest, biggest tails! They are very wild and not very friendly, so when this one started coming to my yard to raid my bird feeders, I was very surprised.

I've been waiting patiently inside my dining room for over two weeks to take a photo of him but if I moved and he saw me, he jumped down and ran up the nearest pine tree to hide. I'm assuming my visitor is a "him" because of his size. At first he would eat from the tray of food I put on the ground especially for the squirrels. But lately he prefers to climb the shepard's hook and raid the feeders. Often he just sits up there, and looks around.

My other visitors are several little squirrels, babies of regular-sized squirrels, who come together to eat. But when Mr. Fox Squirrel arrives, they scatter and hide until he leaves. I don't blame them. He probably looks like a giant to them. Here he is leaving my feeders headed back to the wooded area behind my back yard.

In my research about Florida fox squirrels, I learned that Florida considers them "endangered" and they are only found in certain areas of Florida. I'm feeling very blessed to be able to see them regularly and watch their ways.

When I first moved into this house, a fox squirrel sat high up in one of the pine trees behind my yard and chattered at me one afternoon as I unloaded my car. Later that same week (move-in week) the same fox squirrel sat high up in a pine tree in my side yard and chattered at me. So I'm assuming that I now have been accepted as a squatter in "his yard" especially since I provide tasty treats daily.

Since I moved here I've seen several fox squirrels - in my neighbor's yard across the road and several times either crossing the road or in trees. The ones around here are various colors, tan or dark grey and usually have black on their faces. One I saw had a totally black head, and one had a black face mask like a racoon.

Well, the rain has stopped and I'm going to check my bird feeders...taking my camera too as I sneak up to the dining room windows....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Samson's Sleepover

One week ago, my little Westie, Samson, had his first sleepover. Samson is 10 years old, set in his ways and has some chronic illnesses, plus losing a bit of his eyesight. But he seems to be happy, loves going outside to check the yard for smells many times a day and taking naps.

Monday a week ago started off in a routine way. Samson was asleep in his cage; he loves his cage, sleeps there and takes his treats there to nibble on them. I left for what I thought would be a routine annual checkup at my cardiologist's office at 1 pm , and told Samson my usual line "Mommy's going to work and I'll be home later." He grew up hearing those words daily, so I still use them when I leave the house. Samson doesn't know I've retired.

After the routine EKG during my visit, things quickly began to move in another direction. They explained that I was to go to the hospital NOW and my admission papers were being prepared. Evidently I was in a major episode of atrial fibrillation, but was having no pain. Within a half an hour, I was at the hospital being settled into a room in the heart care area. All this was a first for me as I've been so blessed health-wise, with no experience with a surgery or hospital stay.

Since all of my my relatives live several hours away, I quickly called a friend of mine, Jesse, because I knew that Samson would be wanting to go out to potty soon. Jesse was my platform assistant and church board president/member when I was in ministry, and we have remained friends. He lives about an hour from me now, and we chat by phone often. He's looking for girlfriends and shopping for a new home; I'm looking for sales in my Etsy shop and new ideas for art. He still considers me his minister, as well as his friend.

When I reached Jesse by his cell phone, he replied "I'll be right there." I suggested that he bring his lap top so I could put my Etsy shop in vacation mode. I then gently suggested he bring some clothes so that he could stay over at my home and take care of Samson. There was a long silence on the phone, and I could almost hear him thinking "Samson?" but he softly said "ok" and "I'll call you back when I'm on the way."

See, Jesse is not a pet owner or a dog lover. I don't think he had dogs when he was growing up, and he's never mentioned owning one. I suggested to him recently that he watch "The Dog Whisperer" so he could learn about dogs, as most of the women that he will meet to date will have dogs. I know that he has learned a lot from watching "The Dog Whisperer" as he has asked a few questions about Samson in the last few months. I think that Jesse just thought that dogs do whatever their masters ask them to do. I think that Jesse likes animals and dogs, he just hasn't lived with one.

When Jesse came to my hospital room, I gave him my valuables and directions for feeding and caring for Samson. I also gave him all my passwords and other PC information that I've never written down, so he could check my Etsy shop for me. Jesse left for my home around 6 pm, promising to call me later in the evening, and I relaxed a bit.

My first call from the sleepover came around 8:30 pm. Jesse said "What do I do with Samson? He keeps asking to go outside." I explained that Samson loves going outside and will continue to ask to go outside as long as you continue to take him. I taught Samson when he was a puppy to ring a small bell on a cord from the front door knob when he needed to "go potty." He learned quickly and still does that. So Samson kept ringing the bell, and Jesse kept taking him outside, thinking it was a real need to potty. I explained to just feed Samson, and put him in his bed, and he'll take a nap.

The next call came within 45 minutes. "How do I get him to quit barking? I gave him more water and food." Samson barking?? Samson never barks. But I could hear this loud barking in the background as Jesse explained: "I moved his cage in near the sofa so he could see me while I watched TV and all he does is bark at me." I could just see Samson grinning to himself while he was barking, and thinking "all I have to do is bark, and this guy will give me anything I want."

While I explained to Jesse the concept of "NO" to be said in a forceful voice, Samson continued to bark. I explained to think of Samson as a two year old child wanting his own way, and Jesse seemed to understand. I could still hear the barking as Jesse hung up. There were no more calls that evening.

When Jesse came to the hospital the next morning, I learned more about their sleepover. Jesse said after trying to keep Samson happy and stop the barking, he was so tired that he went bed early, around 10 pm. I had suggested that he take Samson out right before he went to bed...but he didn't do that. So Samson decided in the middle of the night that it was time to go potty, and woke Jesse up with his barking. So they wandered around the yard in the dark, which I'm sure that Samson enjoyed immensely, and Jesse endured with his eyes half closed. Jesse was raised in the city, and is amazed that Samson and I wander into my yard at night with all those snakes, our resident black bear and the Florida panthers too. So I know that Jesse had at least one eye open for any night critters.

I told Jesse I was going to be released after lunch, so he returned my valuables and car keys and headed for home....for a nap, he said. Samson was also asleep when I got home that afternoon, and woke up and looked at me. I asked him how he liked his sleepover with Uncle Jesse. He just closed his eyes and went back to his nap. He's back to his usual happy, quiet self and has never barked since.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Melange Challenge - "Love Letters"

The latest Melange Team challenge is for the words "love letters." I created the mixed media collage below to celebrate everyone who has sent a love letter or waited anxiously for the mail to come, bringing a card or note from someone you love. My story for this piece is: they met when he visited her town on a vacation. He works across the country and travels for his work. He writes her love letters, which she treasures, as she dreams of a future marriage and a life together.

I combined pieces of printed paper and acrylic for the first layers. Some envelopes from my collection added postmarks from 1931 and 1941 from San Francisco, CA and Glen Ridge, New Jersey. I copied a vintage Valentine and the two photos of the couple. I stitched the photos to layers of fabric and added an embroidered accent to the lady's photo.

I create what I have named Inchy Art, art on one inch pieces of wood that I add to my art for emphasis and accents. The three inchy art pieces in the right bottom corner add another postmark from Ottumwa, Iowa in 1920 and the post office mark, both from an authentic envelope from my collection. I grew up in Iowa and have been to Ottumwa many times. The inchy art with "love" is a sketch from a sticker.

I covered the entire canvas with pink netting before adding the envelopes, photos and inchy art.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Florida Pink Sunrise

Early on the morning of February 10, 2010, as the light began to fill the lake below my home, I saw the first hint of pink. As I watched, more pink began to fill the sky and reflect in the clouds.

I immediately raced for my camera to take photos. The photo below shows the actual colors of this pink sunrise. I have not adjusted or manipulated this photo in any way.

This second photo is a closeup of the same view. Again, I have not adjusted the colors or manipulated this photo in any way.

I definitely will be painting this beautiful pink sunrise. This view was taken facing south, close to the Gulf in Citrus County, Florida.

(Please do not copy or download these photos. Thank you.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

And the ROBINS came....

I'm certain that spring is coming soon, because the birds are gathering here in central Florida to fly north. I've shared on our Melanage thread about the flock of robins who come daily to drink fresh water from my bird baths. I live on the Gulf coast, so most of our water here is salt water. The robins arrive mid-morning and fly around my yard helter-skelter, chirping and landing on the edges of my two bird baths. By early afternoon, I go out to refill both bird baths with fresh water for the afternoon crowd.

Here is a photo of my small bird bath as the robins arrived:

I took the photo above through my sliding glass doors, because the robins all fly away if they see me.

This photo below shows 13 robins drinking from my larger bird bath. I hid on my deck for half an hour waiting for them to come to drink, then slowly stood up and leaned over the deck to take this photo from above. They were so busy drinking that most of them didn't see me.

Yesterday I tried to take photos but one large robin appointed himself the scout of the flock. He sat right outside my sliding glass doors from my great room and any time I opened a door anywhere (I have five sets of doors that open onto a circle deck) this robin would scream and chirp a loud warning, and all the robins would fly away. He took his self-appointed job very seriously and even screamed and chirped when I tried to take a photo through the glass. I finally laughed at him, gave up, and postponed my photos until today. And today, he must be off playing scout elsewhere. My yard and deck were quiet today. :o)

**** I want to respond to a past comment made on my blog. My photos and blogs about wildlife in my yard are simply a single view on a single day. My single blog posts are not meant to include all the varied creatures, big and small, in Florida, or all the beautiful sea creatures I see swimming past my deck. Many creatures in our Florida nature are not found anywhere else in the world. ***

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Melange Altered Bottle Challenge

Our Melange Team is having an exciting altered bottle challenge due January 22nd. This challenge is open to everyone; you don't have to be a Melange Team member to join in the fun. Two wonderful prizes will be drawn from the names of all who enter their bottles/jars. Our team discussed this challenge last fall, so I have been saving all kinds of bottles and jars. I chose a pyramid shaped bottle with a round glass stopper because, to me, it looked like a lady in a full skirt. Lady in Lace was born!

I made an underskirt of plain cotton then wrapped lace around for the skirt. Pipe cleaners formed the arms, and lace strips made the bodice. I painted eyelashes and the mouth with glass enamel paints. I painted the small hat and attached two tiny flowers before using E6000 to glue it to her head. A tiny basket with miniature flowers completed my Lady in Lace. As you can see, another bottle is waiting in the background to become another lady!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Melange Challenge - Timeless

The latest Melange Team Challenge is for the word "timeless." My entry below honors a vintage wedding - where a bride and groom pledge their love for each other, each one trusting their love will last forever and be timeless. The vintage photo was printed on cotton fabric, then outlined in stiching. The Our Wedding Souvenir book was copied from the original book that belonged to my mother. The gallery wrapped canvas was based painted in green acrylic and overstamped with Staz-on ink and a scroll design. The two laces enclose the photo and provide a base for the wood inchy art with the lock and key, symbols of love.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Melange Challenge: Illuminating

Our latest Melange Team challenge is the word "illuminating." My art entry for this challenge is a small wood box with a print of a vintage photo of a woman reading and relaxing in a chair. I'm an avid reader myself and believe our books illuminate our minds and change our lives.

On the sides of the box, I added two quotes, one is lighthearted, the second is more thoughtful.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. Dr. Seuss"

"Books let us in to their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. William Hazlitt."

My box is base painted with blue and green acrylics and overstamped with StazOn inks. I colored the print of the woman with colored pencils and added lace as a border. The quotes were printed on my ink jet printer and gel medium was used as both a glue and sealer. A clear gloss spray varnish was the final coat.

This little box now sits on my sewing table, holding pins and reminding me to take time to relax and read.