Thursday, 31 January 2008


The old hotel in the 1800's,(above) and as it stands today,(below).
I took my dogs for a walk this evening. These sub freezing temperatures are so uncomfortable for man and beasts alike. The air was so cold, so hollow that even the slightest sound was crisp and audible. There was no competition to be heard from the usually resounding nearby waterfall as it was thick laid with ice. There is an old inn just at the bottom of my hill. It is from the 1800's and was bustling with patrons back in its day. Now it is silent. Empty. Dark. Weathered, creaking wooden floors and dangling tin ceiling tiles. There are all sorts of critters with squatters rights , nesting in the many vacant rooms and bats aloft both in & round about it. As we walked, one of the dogs began to growl, then bark. Both were staring at the back room of the inn, where the kitchen had once been. In wondering what it could be, I recalled my neighbor had phoned me earlier to say she heard coyote calling out to one another last night on her property. An erie feeling came over me and the thought of werewolves in London. No sooner had this thought entered my brain when one of the dogs hair stood on end, razor backed. I didn't give him time to finish his deep, gnarled growl. I yanked hard on their leashes and scurried up to the corner. Remembering I had my camera in my pocket, I paused and snapped a photo, hoping later it would reveal some clandestine figure that only the dogs could sense. Although no life forms turned out on the photo, it certainly had an unsettling feel abut it. What fun to have had a little *spark* of mystery. Not as fun perhaps, had my 2 furred protectors not been there.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008


I got this great crazy quilt patched tote from my friend Kelley over at JunqueyGal. She's just so talented. My challenge is to personalized it just a bit for the lucky girl it's going to. I opened
my boxes of vintage odds & ends in search of sweet little charms, buttons, brooches etc. to embellish. Seems I just can't toss tiny pieces of yesterday out so I keep storing them in boxes and tins. 
Hopefully I'll find just the right trinkets and doodads to finish it off. Sure hope my thumbs hold up.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Single digit nights

Single digit nights. Yuck. Hearty hunky food. Yum. 
Hunky food is  mixture of immigrant ingredients.  o ne of my favorites is a very quick, easy meal of smoked sausage & lemon pasta. Brown precooked,smoked sausage in olive oil and garlic. Set aside. Boil 1/2 pound of whole wheat penne , drain and toss with 1/4 cup Hellman's canola mayonnaise,( you know, the kind the immigrants brought over) 1.5 tsp. coarse cracked black pepper, 2 TBS. fresh squeezed lemon, 2 TBS sundried tomato bits, salt to taste. Mix sliced sausage into pasta mixture and place in bake safe dish. Place in  350 oven, covered for 20 mins. Lay out on platter and garnish with fresh zest.
I serve with extra fresh lemon slices on the side for those who like to control their own tang.   Kitty on the quilt courtesy of my little Fiddle, who waited patiently on the couch for sausage and pasta leftovers.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

~small space use~

My double hung sashes leave little room for anything. Old flat brushes (shoe shine, scrub, lint) are the perfect width and hold   multiple photos at different depths of field. Mine are at my kitchen window, where I often do dishes. Keep your eyes peeled when at the flea market or antiques store where they are generally a dollars cost.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Creatively blocked thumbs

There is a huge element of frustration for me with any form of artistic work. Several reasons; 1) I haven't taken the time to really focus or complete any project in, well, a couple of years. Your observation is correct Kelley. Those brushes, although years old haven't had much use at all in the past 3 years. Mostly for decorating handpainted furniture. 2) I can't seem to locate much of my supplies. Don't know if I lost them in the move or if they've been eaten by the beasts. Brushes, soldering tools, my dremmel, nail gun, jigsaw. Gone or packed away somewhere. 3). a wonderful little thing called de Quervain syndrome (also known as Radial styloid tenosynovitis). Ive been going to therapy 3 times a week with some improvement but now stirring up other hand and finger issues. Apparently, I got the De Quervain because of self inflicted thumb abuse secondary to compensating for other tendon issues in my hands. At any rate. Im back to practicing brush strokes and exercises I once considered "silly" when I apprenticed under a professional artist in Pittsburgh many years ago. Anne once told me that if you want to paint for living, don't get arthritis. She never said anything about the fancy Swiss de Quervain. There certainly wont be any fine details sketched or intricacies painted in the near future. I'll just keep on plugging away with the wrist braces, anti-inflamatories and therapy. I think I'll try working on a glittered and glued letters banner I've been wanting to make to hang in my archway. No more hitch hiking or thumb wrestling for me.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

starting over

I dusted off the old brushes and slapped them in some watercolors. I worked on color washing some pencil sketches. Painting is not at all like riding a bike unless your shoelace gets caught in the chain , causing you to fly over the handle bars and land on your chin. Yup. It was that painful. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Decorating with dolls

I know it sounds a bit childish or tacky but I adore it. Nothing is more delightful to me than bits and pieces of whimsy tucked in unexpected places.
I had collected some old dolls over the past several years from various flea markets and thrift stores. I was not a doll person and had no idea of why or what for them. They cost no more than a few dollars each so, I bought them.
After I had moved into the cottage a few years ago, I came across an unmarked box of dolls. I began placing them in nooks, in cupboards and on shelves. Not overdone but as small, sporadic *pops!* of enchantment.
The outcome was  surprising. I even placed one or two in the kitchen and, as odd as it sounds, they look simply charming. I had always been one to turn my nose up at adults displaying dolls. I guess what I didn't care for so much was the typical ways I had seen them displayed. Changing my way of seeing dolls and using my taste in placement created a much sought after look in whimsical cottage decor.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

favorite find

I picked this old bird cage up at a flea market a few years back. It is made of wood and wire and has fabulous patina. I purchased it with the intent of keeping birds but decided to keep it for display only. It sits atop my TV entertainment center,(aka old green jelly cupboard), where it is right at home and one of my favorite things. What are some of your favorite , old items?

Monday, 21 January 2008

Icy Cold Winter's Day

Here it is, an icy cold day. Just a faint showing of snow flakes, thin white and dancing. All the gray, dirty puddles were no more and beautiful ,shimmering ,crackled ice patches took their places. I went out to take some photos but only lasted five minutes, unable to endure the bitter cold. All was not lost as I as I returned inside to make a wonderful, hot meal of browned & roasted, stuffed chicken. I stayed snug inside with my old, well worn suede slippers and "Granny squares" wool afghan while making long overdue calls to friendsand family. I smile to myself at having mother nature nudge me to slow down and relax. How do you handle winters bitter cold?

Saturday, 19 January 2008

So very cold here and the thermometer

So very cold here and the thermometer intending to drop even further. It will be a night of stacked quilts and wool socks. The pantry is stocked with soup cans but I think I will head to the butchers tomorrow and buy a nice big soup bone for some barley soup. Biscuts from scratch with butter and to drink grape juice. mmmm. Ill spend the afternoon with my son,enjoying lunch and shopping a bit, then back home for some sewing. Looking forward to tomorrow and what good things it may hold.