30 November 2012

November Chronicle

November was a good month.  Full of gratitude which eased the effects of Mercury in retrograde in my life.  I've been listening to Marie Manuchehri and through her podcasts I was introduced to Christopher Renstrom's sight, Ruling Planets.  It's like a light bulb went on in my head.  I'm not completely convinced, but it sure explains a few things.  The reverse spin has taken it's toll and I'm ready to move into December.

It was a busy month and December promises to be double that.  As I'm starting to wrap up my year in preparation for 2013 I'm amazed at how much has been accomplished in 2012.  I once wished to live a full, happy life, and the other day I realized that I am here.  Ever a work in progress, but present. 

  • Since I love fall, this month was spent nesting.  Furniture rearranged, nature brought indoors, and a general turning in.
  • The time change hit me hard this year.  Maybe it's age.  I remember being young and wondering why older people blamed things on their age.  I am beginning to understand.  
  • Took my two favorite girls out to an open house at the lake.  They played in the sand and thought the day was a big adventure. 
  • Annie started her second level of training. She is progressing, and it's nice to see the training pay off.
  • Strangest thing happened.  I was in a meeting at work with a potential vendor and I was stung by a bee on my arm.  At the time it didn't bother me, but the next day it blew up to the size of a golf ball and itched horribly.  I can't remember the last time I was stung by anything.  
  • We took our friend's daughter on a road trip to Austin to visit a school is interested in attending.
  • We attended our annual neighborhood meeting.  I'm very thankful for community.  It's interesting to see others so passionate about where they live.
  • Grams and my good friend BR celebrated birthdays this month.
  • Our cat, Luna, suffered from an abscessed anal gland.  It was horrible and gross.  Because of this she has to wear a collar, and she had to travel with us during Thanksgiving.  She has been dubbed 'cone head.'
  • I was lucky enough to snag an afternoon with aforementioned friend BR.  She was off for Thanksgiving week and we were able to sit, undisturbed, and catch up.  I think I did most of the talking.  Thanks, BR!
  • Studio CB was spotlighted over here this month.  I enjoyed digging deeper into the scope of her work.  She is very talented.  
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving on Galveston Island in the gulf. 
  • I participated in Michelle's gratitude week and that inspired me to create a gratitude tree in my front yard.
  • My parents decided to come to TEXAS for Christmas.  First time ever to host them in my home for a holiday.  I'm thrilled. 
  • Annie was spayed this month, but we received some bad news about her hips.  She as mild to moderate hip dysplasia.  Treatment seems to be a gamble between the severity and her age.  Did you know dogs can get hip replacements?  Titanium hips...in a dog.  We have a long road ahead with this little one. 
  • With the coming of fall comes the best food.  I made the best pork loin with apples and shallots and cream gravy (recipe to come), almond bread, and butternut squash bread.  Not to mention all the roasted butternut squash.
  • Movies || Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Election || Obama

28 November 2012

Road Trip || Austin...Again

I just can't get enough of Austin.  This road trip will never get old.  I realized that this post looks very similar to this one.  Creature of habit, what can I say?  We did have a purpose this time.  A friend of ours has a senior in high school AND she loves Austin as much as we do.  So we took her down to check out St. Edwards University and hang out in the SoCo district. 

We stayed in the wonderfully quirky Austin Motel on South Congress.  It's an old motor inn.   Each room has a different motif.  Ours happened to have wallpaper showcasing a desert scene.  All of the furniture is vintage.  I loved it. It was clean and within walking distance to all of our favorite spots.  

We took photos all weekend long.  We possibly have a photojournalism major in our future.  SoCo boasts food truck vendors, vintage clothing, and artisan vendors.  We hit all of them.

Jo's is a corner coffee shop on SoCo that makes the best latte.  While the teen slept, we walked over to enjoy a latte and the morning paper. 

You can't go to Austin and not visit Uncommon Objects.  Even if you are not into antiques they carry the strangest things that are so much fun to look at.  I walked away with quite a few new objects.

My favorite street vendor, besides Black & Bluebird Studios is a couple that makes succulent gardens from children's toys.  I have no idea where the card is to even tell you who they are, but if I find it, I'll let you know. Genius!  

A new find on this trip is a store named Parts + Labour.  Their motto is All Texas All the Time.  They only sell merchandise from local artists, and Austin is full of very creative people.  I bought the most adorable onesies for the babies in my life.  

There is no telling when I'll be back.  I just know it won't be soon enough.  If it were possible, I would set up camp in Austin.  It's weird, I'm weird.  Seems like a perfect fit!  I suppose what draws me in is the originality.  Austin, in particular South Congress Ave, doesn't look like the rest of the world.  It's hard to find a chain store of any kind.  It's defines the term local business and I dig it.  

27 November 2012

Road Trip || Galveston Island

This year cc and I had a non-traditional holiday.  We left town and headed to the beach.  We stayed on the west end (the quiet side) of Galveston Island.  We shut ourselves in with books, comfort food, and old movies.  Most of our time was spent on the beach as you can tell from these photos.  The weather was too gorgeous to pass up. 

It was an interesting turn of events.  We booked at the last minute but we were still able to find a cottage steps from the crossover that allowed dogs.  While we planned on taking Annie, we did not expect to take Luna, our oldest cat.  Luna came down with an abscessed anal gland, I'll spare you the disgusting details, and therefore had to wear a collar and take medicine twice a day.  

I've never traveled with a cat.  She started in her crate, but when the crying became too much, we let her roam around the car.  Annie, who still thinks she is a lap dog, rode in cc's lap and Luna rode in mine and looked out the window most of the time.  A passing stranger would get quite a chuckle.

After a long car ride, we made it.  Annie loved the beach, and Luna was just fine perched next to a sunny window.

We did venture out to The Strand and walked around.  We found this fortune teller (similar to the movie Big) and decided to give Zoltar a try. Here is our fortune. 
Recently you've had to make some judgements as others may be judging you. A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.  A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth.  The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water.  Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches and thoughts...and the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are so far reaching.  The more we judge, the less we love.  Patience and thought will show you the right way.  
Wise words.  Very applicable to recent events in our life.  

We celebrated Small Business Saturday by dining at Gaido's.  It's a family owned and operated restaurant that is been in Galveston since 1911 and is still in the Gaido family.  

Other than a few brief adventures out in public we were on the beach: walking, watching dolphins play, mesmerized by the pelicans diving for fish, and falling asleep to the sounds of the surf.  It was rejuvenating...and I really didn't want to come back to the real world, but all good vacations must end so there can be another.  

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  

26 November 2012

Update || Gratitude Tree

Last week I created a gratitude tree in our front yard and asked neighbors and friends to stop by and hang a note of thanks from my tree.  Many came and left sweet notes of thanksgiving.

I am THANKFUL for living in a place that still values community.

I loved seeing all the notes fluttering in the wind with the leaves still hanging on.  Too bad we have to take them all down.  

21 November 2012

Gratitude Tree

I was so inspired by Michelle's gratitude project last week that I decided to do something in my own neighborhood.  We live on a very busy block and we have a lot of foot and car traffic that comes by our home.

I decided to transform an oak tree out front into a gratitude tree.  I made tags out of waterproof paper, cut string, and put all of it with instructions and markers into a tool box under the tree.  I'm asking everyone that feels blessed to leave a note of gratitude as they pass by. 

We already have several tags!  I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving week.  What are you thankful for?

19 November 2012

Artist Spotlight || Studio CB

Oh, do I have a treat for you.  I have the pleasure of spotlighting a fellow Squammie as part of the artist spotlight series.  One of the best experiences about Squam is meeting truly wonderful people you would not other wise meet.  Cathleen Bradley, known as CB, is a friend to one of my Squam cabin mates.  While we enjoyed a lot of laughs, and I purchased one of her amazing recycled pieces at the art fair, I didn't know the full scope of her work until I asked her to do the interview.  Her work and her mission are amazing and I can't wait for you to meet her.  Here is what was recently written about CB from her latest show.

image || Cathleen Bradley
Divergent thinking defines Cathleen E. Bradley’s mixed media art. It’s CB’s natural inclination to be curious, try new techniques and think of different ways to use objects.

“I love a creative challenge. My visual-kinesthetic approach to learning and expressing comes through loud and clear in this body of work. Each composition here holds two common threads: the physicality exerted in the process and the exploratory road-trip to visualize it. I layer, scrape, scratch, sand, tear, cut, burnish and rearrange ---all to give my thoughts imagery --- to give the stories in my mind tangible existence.

Painting came alive for me when I was introduced to a palette knife; a mode I could honestly relate to after years of manipulating clay, glass, fabric and wood. In my hands, discarded objects and vintage graphics and text get a second life as they take on new roles to play. Though my heart wonders about their origins, my mind twists their fate. Ultimately, my constructions and assemblages evoke feelings of familiar and mysterious histories.

Inspiration comes my way through listening to the news of the day or by coming in possession of a fabulous old implement that begs for a new life and provokes a quest. As the right side of my brain works over-time, I am continually drawn to combining mediums and trying new techniques. I often feel like I am just scratching the surface of a new way to express myself. “

CB’s work requests viewers to take a moment, look deeper and think twice. Do not just skim the surface; dive in.
Please welcome CB...

+ When you are not busy with art installations you teach art classes. What joy do you get out of teaching others art?

I completely enjoy encouraging creativity. I am all about divergent thinking ... stretching the right side of the brain, so to speak ... helping others to look at objects in a new way. No kit, just creative wit, is my m.o. in my home studio classroom. The notion repurposing is always present in my studio as well as my home. I also teach teens and tweens how to use tools ---such as hot glue guns, hand drills, pliers, irons, screwdrivers, etc. It is empowering; it builds self-confidence.

Also, my third grade teacher wanted to buy one of my art projects from me and also had me copy a poem (the first poem I ever wrote) on a large poster, which she then plastered on our classroom’s door. Those two acts made a dynamic impression on me, so now I am paying it forward. (Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, wherever you are.) 

images || Cathleen Bradley

+ In addition to teaching, you create and sell art. Tell us about what you create.

As a mixed-media artist, I am always working on various projects --in various mediums, simultaneously. (That might be the result of having ADD, which manifests in me as curiosity, creative energy and spontaneity. Good things for an artist!) Presently I construct assemblages made from salvaged implements, timber, leather and found objects. I also paint with acrylics, fuse plastic bags and sew. 

image || Cathleen Bradley

+ Your work includes materials that are recycled from all manner of places. Why do you love incorporating used materials in your art and where do you find your materials?

It’s almost as if vintage objects call out to me. Seriously, my pulse races and this strange excitement resonates within as I peruse through estate sales, flea markets, antique stores and old barns. I am probably best going alone as I hyper-focus and start visualizing. Patinas, vintage graphics and game pieces, hardware, jars of once- cherished ephemera catch my attention. I tend to visualize how objects might have been used and wonder about their origins. I have a respect for their history. It’s almost like the soul of an object gets resuscitated as a new use for it unfolds. Okay, I admit as a kid, I favored those old black and white cartoons where inanimate objects came to life and danced by the light of the moon. I do love old movies, jazz music, biographies, architecture and treasure hunts. Shake it all together and that’s my art.

image || Cathleen Bradley

+ Do you have a favorite piece? 

After a project is finished, it is my favorite until a new one takes its place ---- which can happen the next day or week.

+ How or where do you gather inspiration for a project? 

Inspiration comes from stories in the news (tsunami in Haiti), a salvaged object (diary found at a flea market), vintage illustrations (old Red Cross booklet), texts, photographs or personal experiences. In a painting, I might explore a new technique which lends itself to an emotional adventure, although most of my paintings are mixed media. 

image || Paige Gilbert Goldfarb

+ Is there a media you prefer to work with? 

It depends on what I am exploring at the moment. My circle of mediums keeps broadening and I don’t let go of one as I take on another. There is a connecting thread. Part of it is the physicality I put in to my work. I thrive on that, whether it be scrapping, sanding, chopping or tearing. Doodling with ink on paper, moves to sgraffito on clay, in paint or with thread in free-motion sewing. 

image || Cathleen Bradley

+ What has been your most interesting or challenging project? 

The challenges can be mental or physical. They can also keep me at bay for awhile. I don’t give up easily. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding that lemonade beyond the lemon. Last week it was a lampshade I had redesigned. After I fused a new cover and inverted it, I had to invent a way to fasten it to the harp. Hanging out in hardware store isles brings out the jigsaw puzzler in me. The blue timber lamp base, made from a century-old farming implement and rescued from a dilapidated barn snow pile, brought challenges, too. I wish I had a camera filming my grunting angst as I hulked over it, forcing its heavy rusted hardware free. I had to reach out for drill-press help and I learned that as wood ages, the grain tightens and it can even pull a 24” drill bit in the direction it wants. Gratefully, the lamp design I envisioned did not end up on the cutting room floor.

+ You followed your dreams started selling your art. Do you have a motto or advice for other artists just starting out? 

Take risks. Veer from plans. Keep learning.

+ What are you working on now? 

I want to go bigger with my 2D assemblage constructions. I would love to finish some tall lamps I have designed. I have a large gessoed and cradled MDF substrate calling my name every time I pass by. Do you notice a pattern here?

+ Do you have any other words of wisdom to offer?

”To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”—Thomas Edison


CB has plans for a website and online shop.  In the meantime, if you are not in her neighborhood, you can still purchase her pieces.  View the art to sell gallery and contact her for pricing and shipping information. 

contact - studioceb {at} comcast {dot} net

16 November 2012

Gratitude Party || Day 5

I'm participating in Michelle's gratitude party this week.  Will you join us?


I'm very thankful for our home.  My roots are digging in deep this fall.  Thankful that our home will be filled with my family this Christmas.  Home is definitely where my heart and soul can be found. 
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

15 November 2012

Gratitude Party || Day 4

I'm participating in Michelle's gratitude party this week.  Will you join us?


An important lesson to remember with gratitude is to pass it on, or pay it forward, or give it back. November's 4(for) green acres challenge is about volunteering. Many wonderful organizations need your help this time of year. Share your gratitude by donating your time, your home, or your dollars.
A wonderful resource to find a place that suits you is greatnonprofits.org.

I am very thankful for the YMCA. Pictured above is one of my favorite camp counselors, Caleb. I worked for the YMCA of Metro Dallas for 8+ years running outdoor education, summer camps, and after school programs. I hired Caleb while he was still in high school and he stayed with me through his college years. 

The YMCA raises money every year to send kiddos through programs that could not otherwise afford it. Caleb and I have worked with many of those children, and hopefully, impacted their lives for the better. I continue to volunteer for the YMCA as a board member for Collin County Adventure Camp. I am thankful for the opportunities I was given as a child and I'm passionate about exposing young minds to nature and community by helping in any way I am able. 
Thanks, Caleb, for reminding me how important our job was and still is as a volunteer.  My wish is that you are still out there passing it on.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

14 November 2012

Gratitude Party || Day 3

I'm participating in Michelle's gratitude party this week.  Will you join us?


Three elements that bring me gratitude for living in America.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

13 November 2012

Gratitude Party || Day 2

I'm participating in Michelle's gratitude party this week.  Will you join us?


I am incredibly thankful for my family.  They are supportive, caring, and love me just as I am.  These are a few of my favorite shots I captured this year of a few of them.  I see joy in all of them.  Joy to genuinely be together...as family.  

brother || sister
captain dad
grams' sister & husband || grams
cousin || grams
nephew || sister
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

12 November 2012

Gratitude Party || Day 1

I'm participating in Michelle's gratitude party this week.  Will you join us?


I am thankful for...

...my health
...the deep friendship with my sister
...the joy a new puppy can bring
...dancing in the living room
...delicious fall fare
...friends coming to visit
...the support of my family
...our upcoming mini beach vacation
...the comfort and safety of my home
...the sweet laughter of two little girls
...music that comes from the heart
...warm toes on cold mornings
...the air in my lungs on my morning runs
...sun salutations that remind me to be thankful
...walks in the fall that ground me
...pretty things that inspire my creativity
...my mom
...daylight savings time
...my camera that captures life
...the dancing flames in a fire
...most of all...my loving relationship with cc
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson