Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Look Back at Christmas 2016 in Photos


The Nativity 

Nativity in a Star given to us by a dear friend

One of four banners...Noel, Merry Christmas, Joy to the World and Peace to All.

Vintage style glass ornament

A Santa that has been in my husband's family for over 100 years!

The true meaning of Christmas...a Savior for the world.

Czechoslovakian glass bead garland with gold, red and white glass ornaments.

A glass Pinecone and glittery Snowflake...a little blurry...every tree should have some!

A pretty glass bird.


Come right in...

and stay awhile...

Our nativity set inscribed with Bible verses...

The tree and mantle...I never plan it but there is always a theme of Joy in my house
at Christmas...

The whole scene...please ignore the messy coffee table/trunk...thank you...

In the breakfast room looking out to the porch...kept it very simple here...JOY shows up again!

Well that pretty well sums up our Christmas decorations for 2016.  The dining room was very similar to last year which you can see here but without the tree.  I didn't really decorate the rest of the house. We were planning to be out of town this week so we kept things very simple this year. 

Hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!



Friday, November 4, 2016

Thanksgiving into Christmas Picks

I'm getting excited about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the kick-off to the Advent season and except for Christmas, my favorite holiday.  Maybe I get excited about Thanksgiving because it is very often the first real sign of fall in our neck of the woods or maybe it's just the food. Ha! Anyway, here in northwest Georgia, we might have some cool nights and a few cool days before the end of November but we very often have a continuation of summer warmth well into November. That's the way it is this year. We are still in the high 70s and  mid-80s during the day with 50s at night. So around this area, November is when it gets cozy and fall-like and heart strings start pulling and you know it is time to gather together.

I will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year for a few family members and anyone else that might be alone and wants to hang out with our crew.  I have already done my fall decorating but will do some tweaking before the big feast to tone down the autumn brightness and move into the neutral zone. I usually decorate Thanksgiving with mostly neutrals such as pinecones, natural foliage from shrubs and white pumpkins because I like to have our Christmas trees up for Thanksgiving. I like to save the bright red touches until after.

Here are some of my Thanksgiving and Christmas picks I found while recently browsing in my favorite places. Some would lend themselves very well to the transition between the two holidays. Click on the photos for direct links to the items...website in the comments. 
Cushion Cover, Christmas Pillows, Christmas Pillow Covers, Couch Pillows, Throw Covers, Sofa Pillows, Made in USA, Burlap Pillows, #EHD0139

https://www.etsy.com/listing/255567246/christmas-pillow-vintage-burlap-pillow?ref=shop_home_active_17First up are these pillow covers from Elliott-Heath Designs  shop on Etsy,  which is one of my favorite go-to places for great pillow covers for any occasion or season.  These would work for fall or Christmas but perfect for that transitioning period.


These tarts from Dreams Factory look like the perfect finishing touch to a Thanksgiving feast. The recipe seems easy enough for a fairly experienced cook. There is that beautiful brown butter crust (I love brown butter) and the chocolate ganache and voila!  Diana also tells you where to find the lovely tartlet pans and ramekins she used for her dreamy tartlets. I bet these would be worthy of a repeat performance on Christmas Day!

Photo: Lucy Akins

These oh so beautifully painted sugar cookies are from Craftberry Bush.  Her recipe is actually found on eHow.  Sugar cookies are my husband's favorites but for some reason mine just never turn out. Not sure why.  I am so in love with these, it would surely be worth another try. These are so beautiful, it might be difficult to eat them! For Christmas, I see Christmas trees, holly, pine cones and a wreath!

burlap wreath

A wreath is good for any time of the year. This fun DIY paper wreath would be perfect for Thanksgiving! It would transition well into Christmas simply by removing the "Give Thanks" banner and adding an appropriate Christmas message.  DIY instructions available at Paper Source 


Is this not the yummiest, coziest bedroom corner, ever?  This one is from Love Grows Wild and is part of the Simple Farmhouse Christmas tour.  I just had to include this one here because it is perfect for the neutral Thanksgiving to neutral Christmas transition. You should visit her page and see the rest of the room which is just as lovely. While you are at it, you should do the whole tour. I have truly been inspired on this tour.


Signs are perfect for transition decor...This one from Between You and Me Signs on Etsy would be perfect.


Then there is the food...dessert anyone?  Isn't this pie the greatest?  Instructions for making this yummy pumpkin pie design are at Kudos Kitchen by Renee.  This is a must try just for the cuteness of it all!

That's all I have right now. Happy November!



Sunday, October 2, 2016

Just a Little Chalk Art and a Wee Fairy

It is finally cooler here in Georgia, so I have been trying to get the house more into the season. I decided to fill the seasonal 24x36 chalkboard frame with a few pumpkins and a favorite quote.

These photos are not the greatest. I took some early in the day with my phone camera. The others I took with my Pentax but it was after dark so they are dark as well. I'm still fighting the gold wall which always makes photographs difficult.

On a different note and from a different day, is a painting of a wee fairy. Moutain Laurel Spring Snow Fairy was a commissioned work for a very special person and her little daughter, "Tater." I hear that when "Tater" saw it, she said, "Mommy, she looks like us all mixed together." That is what I was going for so I'm glad it worked out.

Hope you are having a great fall, y'all!

Have a blessed day.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Falling Free - Official Trailer

Finally! Blogger, Shannan Martin's book about her journey from living her dream life to living God's purpose for her life is in print! I have laughed and cried with Shannan as she has shared her joy and despair during the process of falling free from the life she always wanted. I cannot wait to read the full story...available now in all of your favorite book places.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Days 13-17 Five-Minute Painting Self-Challenge and a Tomato Sandwich

The daily five minute paintings have continued. Unfortunately, time has not allowed me to get them posted here or on Facebook. I think this will be the last of the self-challenge posts as a few other projects need my attention. The photos are once again less than excellent quality  (phone camera.)

First up is "Fringe Lily."  This little lily is really tiny and grows low to the ground.  Isn't it a strange little flower?  Strange but very charming in person. The time here was 6 minutes...fringe takes time.

Next up is "Palmy Beach."  An afternoon of drawing flowers and palm trees inspired this painting.  This was a true five-minute effort. I like this piece. Something about it makes me happy. Probably the beach theme. It gave me inspiration for a future graphic version using Illustrator. I'll let you know how that goes.

Back to the fruit for this next one. "Apple" was about seven minutes. I had to do several layers and I could have cut it off at five but knew it would be much better with just a bit more work. I like its simplicity.

Next is another piece of fruit which we more often think of as a veggie. The lovely "Tomato."  This was a real rush job. The leaves appear to be an afterthought and it is true that I didn't plan properly for them. For all of its flaws, it is still good enough to make me want a tomato sandwich--a wonderful and delicious Southern delicacy. Recipe below.

Last and my favorite is "Blue Angel."  This has inspired a larger version on canvas which is one of the projects that needs my attention. Total time for this was 4 minutes. I wanted to spend longer but I'm glad that I stopped when I did. I might have ruined it.

Well, that's all of the paintings. Now for the tomato sandwich or more properly called "mater" sandwich in Georgia.
1. Start with the freshest, softest, white loaf bread you can find. 
2. Slice the biggest, juiciest, freshest, locally grown tomato available. 
3. Smear your favorite mayonnaise thickly on one slice of the bread.
Note: Mayonnaise is a Southern staple and each family has its own favorite brand. I will leave it up to you to decide the best for you because I do not want to start a feud.
4. Add the tomato slices. 
Note: Juice may spread into the mayo and down the edges of the bread in this step. This is perfectly okay and actually highly desirable.
5. Add salt and pepper and the other slice of bread.
6. Slightly press the sandwich with your hand -- not too hard, just enough to hold it all together so you can get it to your mouth without the tomato sliding out.
7. Eat with caution. You need to hold the sandwich over a plate, paper towel or even the sink or countertop as you eat it because it is likely that the juice will run down your chin and onto whatever is below. 
Mmmmmm....so very good...like a little piece of heaven in your mouth.  

Next time I will share my Uptown Tomato Sandwich which is healthier and very good but just not the same at all.

This made me hungry. I'm going to make a run to the local produce stand and get some tomatoes. Have a great day.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Days 10-12 Five-Minute Painting Self-Challenge

My last five-minute painting post was on Friday.  It is now Tuesday.  Yes, the painting is still going on and no, there have been no posts since Friday.  Just a little bit busy and a little bit lazy.  Trying to get back on track. I did skip Sunday because it is a day of rest at my house and that usually but not always excludes painting.

My Saturday painting is "Butternut Squash." Not a bad effort for the seven minutes that was spent on this one.

Yesterday, the subject was a "White Daisy."  Portraying white flowers with watercolor means leaving the white unpainted. Normally, when doing a white flower against a background, the outline of the flower would be drawn lightly in pencil, then covered with masking fluid to protect it while painting the background and then the mask would be removed and the flowers completed.  In a five-minute painting, it didn't seem worth the bother of using masking fluid since it is time-consuming and the whole idea is to paint something quickly every day.  So, I winged it by using gray to define some of the daisy petals and then using the blue of the background to outline others. It was mostly successful with only one really bad area in the upper right part of the daisy where the background color is too dark and pooled a bit at the edge of the petals and the petals are a bit misshapen. Not a perfect daisy but I'm not going for perfect here, which is a good thing because the photo is also less than perfect (oops!)

"Yellow Daisies" were the subject today and this is one where I didn't have an image in front of me to assist. Purely out of the imagination which resulted in a drooping daisy and some blunt ended petals.
This one also took the longest at 12 minutes. There is some variety of shape for interest and I like the leaves. Other than that, not too much to say about this one. Daisies have rarely been a good subject for me.  I do like the way the photo came out on this one because it looks like a vintage page due to both the bad lighting and using my phone camera. (Too lazy busy to get my good camera and tripod.)

My thought at the moment is to continue with these little paintings until the end of the month and re-evaluate this project at that time. Hopefully, I will be motivated to do a real painting at that time. We shall see.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you have a great week.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Day Nine - Five-Minute Painting Self-Challenge

Had fun working out with our new home gym today and am feeling pretty good.  I might not be able to walk tomorrow but tried not to overdo.  We shall see.

Today's painting is of another favorite fruit. It's summer and in the summer is there anything better than a perfectly ripe, juicy delicious nectarine? They are one of my very favorites. I thought long and hard about the title for this and came up with "Nectarine."  Pretty sad nothing original occurred to me but it's five o'clock, it has been a busy day, still more work to do and this nectarine has made me hungry...so, nectarine, it is!

I limited this one to ten minutes. There was a good bit of  drying time required in between layers and that is included in the time. I can still see some additional work that is needed but stopped anyway. Continuing to exercise restraint as hard as it may be. 

Hope you have a great evening.  I just might go treat myself to the last juicy nectarine.  Yum!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Day Eight - 5 Minute Painting - Self Challenge

I suppose this is actually day nine but since I did not post a painting on day eight, I am counting today as day eight.  Day eight was spent assembling a home gym. My husband, stepson and I all lost a good two pounds each from the assembly alone. We are very hopeful with the results we might obtain from actually using it! Ha!

The subject of today's painting is of one of my very favorite fruits. The lovely pear.  I am rather pleased with this effort. I titled it "Pear in a Pear Tree." I kept it simple and didn't overwork it and stopped when my time was up. There are imperfections but I find that they are not bothering me nearly as much as they once did, so I believe this exercise is working. Hope you like it.

Hope to post day nine tomorrow.  In the meantime, I hope that happiness and joy find you today.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Day Seven - 5-Minute Painting Self-Challenge

Moved into the world of food today with my painting challenge. This five-minute radish was quick and easy. Will be out and about some today so perhaps inspiration from a different direction will present itself.

Have a great Tuesday!


Monday, July 11, 2016

Finally, A Gallery Wall

I wrote this post a month or so ago and just did not get it posted. One reason is the photos just aren't that great. They are a combo of  DSLR camera and phone camera--I'm a little lazy these days and it is so easy to grab the phone instead of the Pentax. Anyway, I wanted to take a little break in Five-Minute Paintings to bring you my gallery wall. Please forgive the photo quality.

We have had a few gallery walls in various homes over the years, We didn't call them gallery walls. We called them "arrangements" but a rose by any other name is...well, you know.  I had been planning one for our current great room for awhile  A few weeks ago, I started pulling all of my collected pieces out of the guest/linen/junk/soon-to-be-a-guest-room-again room and searched the rest of the house for other pieces, while I rearranged furniture, and finished painting a vintage bench.
Please excuse the dog's toy peeking into this photo and the contents of the TV console. Ha!  It was empty because we haven't had it long and I have not yet decided what to put in it. I grabbed some of our vintage Native American baskets and pottery, a Gullah seagrass basket, ceramic bowl that I used for Easter and a bouquet of wheat which was part of an arrangement from my mother's funeral. I will rethink the contents later but enough about that.
I had no preconceived notion about how large the gallery wall it would be.  I began laying out pieces on the great room floor in earnest. My husband observed and made helpful suggestions as I continued to bring in pieces and rearrange them, go back for more, go to the basement to dig out a frame, go to the office/studio to frame a piece, rearrange more, and on and on. I finally had all of the artwork and photographs assembled in the GR and began to place them.  Finally, I located the piece for the far right, top, corner and everything seemed to fall into place. It finally had the right mix of frames, colors, and sizes to balance everything out and within a couple of minutes, we had the final design seen above.
My main concern then became how to get it on the wall. I know some make a paper plan to use for placing hangers. That method has never seemed to work well for me. I'm more of a by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person when it comes to hanging photos and art.  Anyway,  I started with the bottom left corner and then the next vertical row, filled in above and then moved to the next pieces on the bottom row, and added the pieces above and so on. I did use my phone camera to capture the arrangement on the floor so that we could estimate the spacing as we went. John used a level to make sure we were on track and I eyeballed everything and just went for it. The only thing difficult was the top row because the top row is about 9 feet up, but between the two of us we got it done.

I'm not quite sure yet what I am going to place over the bench.  I might extend the gallery wall or put something separate and large there. These are three of my favorite pillows. The two "love"  pillows (Corinthians 13) are from Dear Lillie and the quilted sunflower pillow was made by my friend Laura of Laura Jane's Flowers and Gifts. I painted the bench with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in Layla's Mint. The bench is made from an antique bed. I've had it for years. I should have painted it years ago. I'm sure I'll figure out something for that big bare spot above it soon.
All of the pieces hold meaning for us as a couple. Some pieces are old and some new. In a later post I'll go through all the items and explain what they are and why we love them.

We had fun putting it together and I am really liking the way it looks.

Gracefully yours,


Day Six - Five Minute Painting Self Challenge

I am not sure how long this challenge will go on. I guess it will last until the urge to paint something serious or time-consuming strikes me.  For now, this seems to continue to be just what I need. Simple "forced" creativity each day with a little bit of design work on the side, some days. 

Today's painting, "Pink Ranunculus" started with a doodle of some ranunculus (or is ranunculi the plural?)   Anyway,  it started with a doodle in ink and evolved to a very quick and simple painting of pink flowers with some greenery in a blue vase. Probably more of a 3-minute painting, after the doodle was done. But I do like it. It made me smile and it is far from perfect and rather a good composition and is a glimpse of what such an arrangement might leave in your mind's eye. Nicely representational and not overdone.  A keeper. Perhaps I'll find a quote later and add it using Illustrator. We will see. For now, it is done.

Have a lovely Monday. Go outside, do something creative, help someone or sit quietly and reflect. Whatever you do, be intentional with your time.  Time is the one thing we can never get back.



Sunday, July 10, 2016

Day Five - Five Minute Painting Self-Challenge

My plan was to paint a rabbit but I ended up not painting a rabbit.  I was flipping through my Quotation Journal yesterday afternoon, where I write down favorite Bible scripture verses and quotations. I try to write them in a decorative fashion and add little drawings or doodles on some of them. It is sort of messy now but when I began it, it was much neater. This is an early page.

 Anyway, there is a quote "Success lies upstream. You can't drift there," that caught my eye and I had drawn a couple of fish on the page and they inspired me to paint a fish.

So, here you have my Day Five - Five Minute Painting "Caught Upstream." He's a bit messy but for the most part I am happy with him. I like the colors, the movement of the fish, the water and the line.

This fellow might have been trying to go upstream to have a bite to eat. Unfortunately, the bite was the bait of a fly fisherman.  On a positive note, perhaps he was the one that got away that day!

Hope you had a peacefully, graceful Sunday.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Day Four Five Minute Self-Challenge Painting - Butterflies

Always wondering what to paint next, a niece helped me out by suggesting a butterfly.  Butterflies probably sound easy to paint. Four wings and a body in the middle.  Right?  Well, they are not easy for me.  I'm pretty sure I had never painted one before these.  Butterflies are definitely beautiful and a favorite to watch, but for some reason, I am more of a dragonfly person when it comes to photographs and paintings. Perhaps because so many people do paint and photograph butterflies as I quickly found when turning to Google Images for inspiration and technical assistance. It was more than a bit overwhelming to see all of the different wing shapes, wing sizes, and colors.  I did several sketches of wing shapes and sets and then prepared to paint. The "research" time was not included in the total time of each painting.

I ended up with three butterflies. To be completely honest, there was a fourth but it was so hideous I couldn't bring myself to photograph it.  I am not completely thrilled with any of them but they were the best I could do in the time I gave myself.  The last two efforts took about eight minutes instead of five.

Here's the first one. There was no paint drying time involved in this and I stayed within the five minutes limit for this one. Not too bad in retrospect but the perfectionist beast would not stop here. Couldn't I do better? So, I tried another.

This is the second effort and first step before the paint dried.  There was a great desire to go back and blend the paint better on this one after it dried but I sucked it up and let it stand.

The one below is after adding the body and wing veins. I used black ink for this step to produce the final 8-minute version.  This one also left me desiring a better butterfly. So, try again.

Note: Actually, this one has kind of grown on me. It reminds me a bit of a fairy with giant wings. It makes me smile a bit even though it simultaneously makes me a little crazy because there are so many things wrong with it. Ha!  See, that perfectionist beast is dying...albeit a slow death!

My third effort is probably my favorite. The color values are better and I used a wet-on-wet technique which I believe worked better with this subject. Butterflies are graceful and this technique seems to lend itself to graceful movement better than the other two.  I also mixed the paint for the body instead of using a tube color (first effort) or ink (second effort) and I like the color and the way it flows nicely with the wing color. In retrospect, my thought is that this first step should have been the final step. Hindsight is helpful only for future planning.

Here is the final effort in which I added the veins with ink. It is not horrible but drawing lines in a hurry is not a good idea, as I should have learned from my second effort but I am sometimes slow to apply what I have already learned. Thomas Edison has nothing on me. 

So, there you have them. Two eight-minute paintings and one five-minute painting. I learned a few things and perhaps you learned something also. If so, let me know. What I learned:

1. Sometimes your first try is, in actuality, not good enough. That doesn't mean that you are a perfectionist it only means that you know that you are capable of doing better. So, go ahead and do better, if time permits. The time issue is a very real issue in learning to overcome perfectionism. Of what use is "perfect", if you have missed your deadline?

2. Sometimes, you have done your best and should stop before you ruin it. Leave it for awhile and come back to it with fresh eyes.  I already knew this from past mistakes but it seems to continue to be an issue, so I included it here.  It just occurred to me that it might work to take a quick phone photo, print it out on plain paper and try to test your idea on the printout. If you don't love it, forget it!

3. Plan better before you put paint to paper. Have a clear vision of what it is you want to paint and how the end result should look.  Obviously, I did not have a clear vision or I would not have painted three very different butterflies. I would have painted three versions of the same butterfly.

4. Getting the color value is always important--even in a five-minute quick study painting. My favorite was the one that had the best color value.

Maybe dragonflies next or perhaps rabbits. Yes, I think a rabbit would be fun! I had a family of three plus a squirrel under the pear tree today. They are fun to watch. I will get started on a rabbit right away!  See how inspired I am!

By the way, these were painted yesterday.  I paint and the next day I post. Just so you know how that works. Not that it is really important. Anyway...until tomorrow.