Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Saltbox & Farm Animal Primitive Softball Bowl Fillers Finished!

Well, I  finished the farm animal and primitive saltbox house themed softballs today.  My only regret was not having any coordinating potpourri to sprinkle around them for the photos.  Okay make that two regrets... Could have done with a little more natural light for less light bulb glare! ;)     

The softball fillers are so versatile with the paintings and prim sayings.   I fell in love with this recycling concept and knew I would enjoy creating them.   They are never tiresome in an arrangement.   And if you have a kid like mine, each day will find them rearranged in a different combination!  I won't even get into the story of when that son of mine continually switched around my laundry and cleaning supplies every night for a week.  I was beginning to think that someone was telling me from the great beyond to get off my behind and get my house in order! LOL  Do you suppose hubby paid him to do it? ;)

It was a pretty productive day today.  I managed to get these finished and some Americana ones started.  Then, something possessed me to do some cleaning of my basement shelves.  I will definitely have to do some listing on my selling blog in the next few weeks.  My goal is to downsize dramatically this year!  As this post is being typed, I am listening to the pattering of rain on our back door.  Must be the promise of Spring around the corner that has me in the cleaning out mode! ;)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award :)

I would like to thank Kim from The Barn Hollow .  She is a very talented individual that has bestowed upon me the Versatile Blogger award.  This award promotes bloggers to share 7 facts about themselves that our friends may not already know.  I think that it is a fun idea.  So... Let me see... What are seven things that my blogging friend's may not know about me?  Hmmm.

1.  I was raised in a family of 5 daughters in a house with only one bathroom! LOL  My honored title is Daughter number 4 and at any given time will answer to any of the other girl's names! ;) 

2.  As you already know, I am a huge fan of children's literature, but you may not know that I am an ardent admirer of the life and works of Beatrix Potter.  Every book that I could find about her life, graces my book shelf along with a few collectibles.  In my movie collection, I have Renee Zellweger's "Miss Potter".  Although many parts of the movie were unnecessarily inaccurate, it was still very inspiring and enchanting. :)


3.  At one time, I was a regular art contributor to RAGS Magazine (a periodical for Raggedy Ann and Andy collectors).    After a while, my art was honored to be displayed on a few covers, and the piece below was used for placemats at their annual festival in Arcola, Illinois.

At the final festival in Arcola, I was chosen to do the art for the Festival t shirts and limited prints of my work were made and given to attendees to the annual brunch.  It was a great honor and made for a touching farewell to a wonderful festival.

4.  I love to learn new things!  If I hear of some historical happening, stumble on a new or old form of cooking / craft,  or am in need of a new appliance or gadget for my home... (pretty much any topic!), I will research it to death until I have learned everything about the subject.  It can drive me crazy sometimes, and I'm sure my family, too! ;)    

5.  When working in my little art studio area, my portable DVD player can always be found running.  I find music way to distracting (although I love it dearly) while working on my art.  And my hubby and son will roll their eyes and adamantly testify that I watch the same movies OVER AND OVER AND OVER!  ;)     

6.  I love to laugh!  There were a few years of my life that I let other people's opinions  lower my level of self worth and wrap me doubt and negativity.  Those feelings ended with a nasty bout of the hives, which unfortunately were misdiagnosed and  lasted for the first half of the year 2000...  What a way to welcome in the Millennium...  Aaagh!  But I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I learned that in life you have to take care of yourself and surround yourself with good, honest and loving people.   Although there are plenty of situations in a life that call on our serious side, I believe that life is fleeting, the world is truly awesome and that God intends us to embrace the wonders of life and enjoy the moments...  I love to joke around with friends and family and will forever be a work in progress! :)

7.  I am very noncompetitive and can be shy in regards to promoting my art.  It is actually a big flaw in my character and has resulted in many missed opportunities which is something that I am working to correct.  On the other hand, I do don't see fellow artists as competition  and love to admire, marvel and promote their work.  This opens the opportunity for me to share some of my favorite artists... And by artists, I mean from the drawing, painting and fiber art world, to the culinary arts, to the interior decorating fields, and those that are gifted with the ability to write on a multitude of topics. 

This year, I am going to be doing some reviews  on those wonderful people that keep me riveted to their blogs and  work.    If you click on my profile, you will see that I follow 292 wonderful people and groups in blogland.  They are all amazingly gifted individuals that share their knowledge and works of art.  I gladly bestow this award on all of them and look forward to promoting their talents on my blog this year. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Painted Primitive Softball Bowl Fillers WIP

Not what you were expecting? ;)  I've been laying out sketches for the gourd/bed spring combos and will be getting at those soon.  But since the majority of my designs are Halloween and Christmas inspired, I decided to break from the holidays for this week and work on some primitive bowl fillers.  Here are a few worn out softballs that got to meet my paintbrush today.    (They photographed a little brighter than they actually are.)  Once they get their grungy prim stain, they will be nice and dark...   But first, I need to add some primitive saltbox houses and sayings to the opposite sides.  I love recycling, and these worn softballs are a great surface.  With four open spaces for art or lettering, they create the opportunity to be arranged in so many combinations. 

I really enjoyed working on these today and will post some pics of them finished before listing them for sale.   It will be nice to add some non seasonal pieces to my handcrafted work.   Potential art themes keep bouncing through my head as I work on them.   An Americana grouping will be featured next, followed by some Terrye French inspired designs,  and maybe some seasonal ones, too! ;) 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Winnie the Pooh Vintage Cross Stitch Quilt Finished!

I am so glad to post that the stitching on Winnie the Pooh is finished!  Yay!! :) 

This quilt has been such a joy to work on.  That silly old bear will bring a smile to my face every time.   I have been an admirer and collector of children's literature all of my life.  The Pooh character may have evolved from the more simplistic sketches found in A.A. Milne's original book, but he is just as endearing as ever. :)  It was fun to mix the colors up a bit, and I'm not going to complain about the larger areas of colors.  They were a nice change from constantly switching threads.  The big thrill is always in the black outlining.  It gives definition to the composition and brings all that work to life.  Such a huge payoff in one small step! ;) 

Pooh was the first of my stamped cross stitch quilts to be mounted on my standing quilt hoop.  Most of my life is spent slouching over ceramics, paintings, graphite art, and now piecing quilts with the sewing machine.  I made a decision to put together my quilting stand , so I would be forced to sit up straight and stitch.... Easier said than done. ;)  Every 10 minutes, my back would need a break!  It definitely will help me to improve my posture.  

Winnie the Pooh is one of my few over sized vintage quilt kits.  I have a few old ABC quilts from the early 70's that I will be attempting in the future, and they will require a lot more embroidery skills. Yikes!  But for the next quilt, I will go back to the bunnies on the blocks that I had originally misplaced.  There were some drastic color changes going on with that quilt.  Hopefully, I did not subconsciously misplace it on purpose, and it will come together smoothly! ;)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe for Valentine's Day

Last night my son came home with two of these LARGE sugar cookies.  A friend of his that is still in high school bought him two for Valentine's Day.  Side Story... Our small local school sells balloons, flowers, cookies, and lollipops  for Valentine's Day.  All items are $3.00 down to 50 cents.  It is a fun time for the kids, affordable for the parents and teachers to gift their students, and they are hand delivered to their home rooms.  The big seller is the 50 cent lip pops, and these $1.00 cookies that are made by our very own home ec classes and volunteers.   We are a small school, but the numbers of these cookies ordered are staggering!  Anyways... My son came home with these cookies, and my hubby started to circle in.  He loves sugar cookies.  Well, needless to say the kid was not in a sharing mood, so hubby did not get one. :(

Before he left for work, my hubby gifted me a large box of chocolates  for Valentine's Day.  I have the day off from work, so the list on my studio wall was waiting for me.  After completing a few projects, I remembered that there was sour cream in the fridge (something that I normally do not stock) and the key ingredient in my soft sugar cookie recipe.  In honor of the day, my schedule was cleared for the afternoon, and I whipped up hubby some soft sugar cookies for Valentine's Day.  They aren't as fancy as the kid's cookies ;) , but they will still be a big hit for after dinner. :)

Here is the recipe if you would like to give them a whirl:

Soft Sugar Cookies

1/2 c.     Butter (softened not melted)
2            Eggs
1 c.        Sugar
1 t.         Vanilla Extract
3 2/3 c.   Flour
1 t.         Baking Powder
1/2 t.      Baking Soda
1/2 t.      Salt (optional)
1/2 c.     Sour Cream

Mix butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sour cream.  Mix until blended and dough is in a ball form.  Add more flour if dough is too loose.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight for best results.  On a floured board, roll out dough to 1/4 " thick.  Place on cookie sheet.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Bake 4-6 minutes.  (Springs back to the touch.)  Remove cookies to a wire rack for cooling.

The dough for this recipe is very sticky when mixed.  That is why they suggest refrigerating.  The chilly temps firm up the dough for handling and makes the surface require less flour in the rolling out process.  This step makes for a softer cookie.  If you want, use only a small amount of dough at a time and keep the rest waiting in the fridge.

These cookies are great for any occasion and come highly recommended by my family! ;)

Happy Valentine's Day! :) 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Recipe for Double Hot Chocolate & French Vanilla Hot Chocolate Mix

With this little cold snap that we are having in Illinois right now, I finally had the chance to put these recipes to use.   No complaining here about our mild winter,  but I am a chocoholic and our above average highs kept me from longing for my favorite winter time drink.  Unfortunately, it had me hunting for chocolate in bar form. :(  After drinking a glass of this double hot chocolate, I am happy... at least  for a few days! ;)  And since my hubby does NOT share my love of  doubly chocolate goodness, I adapted a vanilla hot chocolate recipe that even makes him smile. :)  Are you ready for some recipes?  Here we go...

Double Hot Chocolate Powdered Mix

7 1/2 c.     Nestle Quick  (I actually prefer the IGA Shurfine "no name" brand)
2 3/4 c.     Carnation Creamy Chocolate Coffee Creamer **
2 c.           Powdered Sugar
6 c.           Powdered Milk

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.   Add three tablespoons (depending on your taste) to 8 oz. of  hot water.  Some of you may want to add less or more depending on personal preference.  If you are like me, throw some marshmallows on top and give it a little blast in the microwave! :)

** The original recipe that I received called for any type of plain coffee creamer.  The kids really liked it, but they flipped over the difference in taste with the Carnation Creamy Chocolate.   The plain creamer gives the drink  a mellower chocolate taste but is very good and cheaper to purchase.  The Carnation creamers due go on sale quite often.  I haven't found a "no name" chocolate creamer in my area grocery store, but maybe there are some in other locations.  Plus, if you check out Carnation's website, they list coupons throughout the year! :)

French Vanilla Hot Chocolate

3 1/2 c.      Nestle Quick (or a "no name" brand)
2 (8oz)       Carnation French Vanilla Nondairy Powdered Creamer (or a "no name" brand)
2 3/4 c.      Nondairy Powdered Creamer (can use French Vanilla for stronger taste)
4c.             Confectioner's Sugar
10 1/2 c.    Powdered Milk
1/2 t.          Salt

Combine all ingredients.  Add 3 heaping T of mix to 8 oz. of water.

I know this is a huge recipe, but this is how the original recipe proportions were before I altered it.  Most of the time, I quarter the recipe and use all French Vanilla creamer (which can be found in a "no name" brand at my IGA).  Not sure what the salt does.  I have left it out, and hubby hasn't missed it! ;)

If you haven't tried making your own Hot Chocolate Mix,  I highly recommend it.  There are plenty of terrific recipes out on the web, and it can really stretch your hard earned dollar.  Plus, it really looks cool in an oversized ball jar! ;) 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Vintage Fence Post & Barn Board Birdhouse

My son has been creating birdhouses out of old barn boards for the last couple of years and mounts them on old porch turnings or fence posts.  This house was built with a cool old knotty weathered fence post.   He also added door handles, old keys, and an old rusty hand sickle for embellishments, along with a grapevine wrap.   Usually the welcome sign on the front is hand painted, but this one is burned into the wood.  On one of his birdhouse creations, he snitched some gourds that I passed on cleaning for my art and created a cross bar with little gourd birdhouses.   Each one is unique from the shape of the houses themselves to the assortment of rusty hand tools.   A few of these barn board creations have graced the front windows at the antique shop that I work at.  The sun comes from the south in that window but does not bother them, and they lend a nice rustic charm to the antiques.   This one was created as a donation for our local school raffle that my son donates to every year. :)

My son has an arsenal of old worn out tools from sales, along with keys, hinges, and knobs.  He also has earned  a reputation  around town for taking cast outs.  So... local renovations usually bring old doors, porch turnings, and wainscot his way for the hauling... or anything else that strikes his fancy.  Of course, it is a win - win situation when homeowners are worried about filling a dumpster! ;) 

I can remember back before Farmer boy was a teenager, he use to take a lawn mower and trailer to haul items. (Now he just uses a bigger tractor and trailer! LOL)  The local bank was taking down the brick building that housed their first location.  I cannot tell you how many bricks and odd items made their way to our backyard!  My hubby and I went for a walk while this demolition was going on that summer, and there was our son going under the yellow tape for another load.  My hubby informed him of trespassing and safety issues.  It  was right at that time when the leader of the demolition team came out of the building and informed my hubby that our boy had his permission to enter the area...  We should have known that kid had all of his bases covered! LOL