Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: On The Other Side?

Is he the prisoner, or are you? This photo was taken of one of my brother's friends back in the early 90's grunge days. Teenagers are totally into posing for photos... when they don't have to smile that is!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Walk On The Sand Clears The Mind...

Yesterday was a really strange weather day... windy, cloudy, and very warm. It had to be over 60 degrees! Which, in a New Jersey winter is like a heatwave. So I took a walk down to the beach. It was so nice. And theraputic too! I was feeling a little under the weather (no pun intended!) and it was good to get out of the house and stretch the legs. And what a place to stretch them! I'm pretty lucky.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and I'm sending wishes for a Happy and Exciting New Year to all of you. May 2009 bring wonderful things!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Stop Fighting What Is

One of the things I'm learning in life is that if I'm in disagreement with how things are... I can create suffering in my life. And that's no fun! Everything is what it is... my job, my life, the economy, my car that needs the fuel injector cleaning and new filters, and so on. And the more I get mad at things and don't accept what is actually happening... the sadder I seem to be. So one of my new mantras is, "stop fighting what is!" And here I have illustrated that point with one very amusing "flea market family" photo I acquired for my collection... and then I added the "WHAT IS" in Photoshop.

Monday, December 22, 2008

We Got Some Snow...

Over the weekend, we got a little snow here on the coast of New Jersey. Not much really... less than an inch. But everything looked so pretty. It was nice. Rain on Sunday washed it all away. Until next time...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sticky-Back To The Rescue!

Okay, so this winter, I took my wool coat out of the closet, just hoping that none of the moths we usually get over the summer thought that it was a tasty treat. But, to my surprise, a kitty cat must have snuck into the closet and seen it as a scratching post! The back of the coat near the bottom had a giant nest of undone fibers, sticking out everywhere! Aw crap. And I just loved that coat!

So I hand wove all the fabric pieces back together and glued them in place with Liquid Stitch. But the glue kind of made the coat look like it was dirty. So then I tried to paint over it with acrylics, but just couldn't get the color right. Then it looked like I sat in something! Sigh.

So, I remembered we had a Sizzix die of a flower and thought—as a last resort—I'd try to cover up the area with flowers using Claudine Hellmuth's Sticky-Back Canvas, Studio Acrylic Paints and some vintage buttons. I'm so happy about how it turned out. Now I can go out in public again! Yay.
*Note: you'll eventually need to tack down the edges with Matte Gel Medium, as the fibers won't hold forever.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last Minute Gift Idea...

For all those women in your lives... mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmas, cousins, friends, teachers, bosses... who really need to learn to take time for themselves... who have been through a rough year... or a tragedy of loss... or just need a kick in the pants... This is one of my most favorite books:

Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Each chapter is a day of the year and is only 1-3 pages. For example, the first chapter is January 1. So as it teaches you day-by-day how to appreciate yourself, take time for yourself, notice the little things and such... it goes through all the seasons and has anecdotes and rituals perfect for those times of year.

A very good friend of mine gave me my copy after a very tough episode in my life and I'm telling you it changed the way I look at things. I think I'm going to re-read it again this year. Happy shopping!

©photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ode To My Favorite Treat...

Okay, so I don't usually buy ornaments for myself, because I've gotten so many over the years as gifts that I have enough to decorate two trees! But hey... it's a cupcake... I had to!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Portrait Of A Barber

This photo I took as part of my college courses. The assignment was simply to... take portraits. We had to shoot at least one roll of film and print our best photo. Well, I went around to all the people I knew and had them pose, but try and act natural. But this photo of a complete stranger... a real barber on his afternoon break... was my absolute favorite. I told him, "just pretend I'm not here." I think that worked! This photo captured more real emotion than any others I took.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Recession-Proof Holiday Shopping...

So I did things a little bit different this year when it came to holiday gift shopping...
I decided, since we're in the middle of this economic crisis, that I would shop for my presents in the wonderfully quaint towns I live so close to. I thoroughly enjoyed perusing the shops in Asbury Park, Spring Lake and Manasquan too. And do you know what? There was no pushing and shoving... every shop owner made sure to greet me and say thank you before I left (even if I didn't purchase anything!)... and every single place wrapped my purchase up and put it in a nice bag! The towns were filled with bands belting out Christmas tunes, carolers, trumpeteers, lots of Santas, and even a stilt-walking juggling nutcracker! I really enjoyed supporting these local businesses.
How is your Christmas different in this recession? Do tell...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Busy Weekend, But Good Kind Of Busy!

Whew! I really did a lot this weekend, but it was relaxing, fun and holiday-ish!
• Bought, set up, and decorated my Christmas tree
• Started and finished the majority of my Christmas gift shopping
• Took myself out to lunch at Pete & Elda's
• Decorated the house
• Vacuumed up lots of pine needles!
• Took a well-deserved bath
• Wrote out Christmas cards
• Cut my mom's hair
• Put away some stuff in the studio
• Played with the kitties, and
• Organized some photos
Now, I'm going to finish making dinner, watch the Survivor Gabon finale, and try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Craft Night At Ranger

Tonight some of the girls stayed late and worked on sample projects for Ranger's upcoming trade show for the Craft And Hobby Association. We played around with Melt Art products and Child Safe inks. Everyone did such a good job and we always have a fun time.

©photo by Bonnie Egenton

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bake It Or Buy It?

I have to say that I love sweets. But I'm not a very patient baker. So, typically, if I want something to satisfy... I'll go to the bakery and buy it. But sometimes I need a quick fix. And these sugar cookies are just too cute.... and tasty!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Flea Market Family

In much of my artwork I love to use vintage photos that I find at flea markets, antique shows, rummage sales, and the like. I try to buy them for 50 cents and I usually can find them for that price or pass them by if they are more expensive. I also tend to be drawn the photos of strange looking people, and they usually go for less. Funny. Cheap and interesting, not a bad deal. I call them my Flea Market Family.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nothing Is What It Seems...

Will she live happily ever after? You know, I'm beginning to think she will. In fact, I think she's living happily ever after right now! But enough about me...

I absolutely love this photo and purchased the original cabinet card for more than I usually spend because... this is a photo of a little boy! From what I could gather—and I've heard this more than once—in Victorian days, parents would dress up their boys to look like girls for the first couple of years. I've heard that the gypsies would steal little boys, but not girls. I've also heard that it was easier for changing diapers and such... but that wouldn't explain the really cute hairdo, now would it?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Holiday Time!

It's time to clean the house... and find the perfect tree... and decorate with festive lights... and start my holiday shopping... eat too much... drink a little more... and of course...

It's the perfect time to appreciate our families, friends, little critters, the roof over our heads, the money in the bank... and all the little things.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I don't want to work...

Tonight I was supposed to work on a freelance project... a logo design. But guess what? I didn't feel like it. My mom and some of her friends were going out to dinner at one of my favorite pizza places. So I chose fun. I had a wonderful meal and a good time. I deserve it.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ocean Grove Critique Group

Tonight I'm going to an art critique group right here in my hometown of Ocean Grove. The group gets together the first Wednesday of every month and there are all types of artists! Last time I brought some of my freeform collages... this time I'm going to bring my altered birdhouse purse that was featured in Haute Handbags. Should be fun!

©photos by Debbie Tlach

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Vintage Signs

Okay, so I absolutely love retro signage from the 50's. All those cool metal structures with their tacky colors and bright neon. I just can't get enough of them. This is one of my all time favorites, from a car wash in the Seattle area. It even rotates... Bonus!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Nesting...

This past week I was lucky enough to be on vacation. It usually works out that I have a couple of days left before the super busy season at work... and it's nice to have a full holiday week to relax and do fun stuff at home.

But much to my surprise, I did not want to have fun. I wanted to nest! I guess like a little birdie who's settling down for quite some time, I really wanted a clean home in which to while away the hours. I did manage to get some things accomplished in the beginning of the week... laundry, sorting stuff, cleaning, organizing. But after Thanksgiving I just relaxed and did lots of reading. I guess I just needed a break.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Re-Birth Of Me...

Recently, I have been doing a lot of soul searching and can actually say that I am finding myself. And as I discover new things (or old things) about me, I learn that there are things I want to improve about who I am and how I interact with this world.

Recently, I picked up a copy of Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I finished the book and am excited to begin on a journey to be the author of my own life... as scary as that might be for someone like me!

In the final chapter, where she sums up how this process might unfold, she cites a quote from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. In the story, two nursery toys are talking about becoming Real. This passage brought me to tears because... I get it!

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once, " said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy ThanksGiving Everyone!

Hope you all had a wonderfully thankful day filled with good food, family and friends! Today, I am thankful for:

• Being surrounded by family
• My health
• A good job that is also fun
• My two kitty cats
• Many friends
• My art studio, and my whole house for that matter!
• Time for creativity
• Being on vacation this week!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Me and Mom

Here's a photo of my mom and I when I was only a couple months old. My dad was an American in the army and was stationed in Munich, Germany. I was born there in the army hospital and my mom and I stayed until I was 9 months old. She liked to make matching outfits for us. Doesn't she look so mod!

Monday, November 24, 2008

All The Way From Belgium!

I'd like to thank the academy, and my mom for having me... oh wait, wrong award ceremony! I was pleasantly surprised today when my new friend Tanya Watts nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. I met Tanya when she made the trip all the way from Belgium (with a cast on her leg even!), to attend Ranger U. She is a wonderful spirit and a creative soul and we were instant friends! So here's the deal:

1. The winner can post the logo on their blog.
2. Put a link to the person who sent you the award.
3. Nominate 5 blogs for the award.

And the winners are...
Patti Behan who goes above and beyond to teach others the art of crafting because, as she so eloquently puts it, "sharing is caring!"
Tim Holtz, one of the most creative guys I know. He can dream up a project on the turn of a dime and always keeps it fresh!
Debbie Tlach whose muse actually blogs for her. Very interesting point of view of a fine artist and photographer.
Bonnie Egenton who makes it a point to really enjoy life, despite the everyday hustle and bustle we all deal with. And...
Suze Weinberg who is an inspiration to everyone with her shopping trips, crafty ideas and zest for life.

Thank you all!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ahhhhhh...Sweet Relief...

Over the weekend I took a bath in my very vintage claw-footed bathtub. During the fall and winter months, I love to fill the tub with hot water and open the window for a nice cool breeze. It's almost like bathing outside! This time, I actually stayed in so long the tops of my toes were wrinkled!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Scrapbooker's Creativity Kit...

This really cool book by talented artist Claudine Hellmuth, has a "guest layout" by yours truly. I was honored to be a part of this interesting publication that comes complete with a deck of inspiration cards and an 80-page book with samples from all types of designers. To get a sneak peek inside, visit Claudine's blog here! The book won't be out until January, but it's available for pre-order on Amazon.
© photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Little Pink Houses, For You And Me...

Now see... here's a chipboard house from Maya Road that I started and it knew exactly what it wanted to be. Maybe I'm a pink girl? Maybe I'm more inspired when it comes to pink? Hmmmmmm....

I do love this house, though. The top is removable and it comes with little windows and 6 tags that fit neatly inside. I've already worked on a couple of them... a few affirmations for the "House of Me."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Let's Hit The Bottle...




I really enjoy antiques of many kinds, but I have a soft spot (or should I say soft drink spot) for items with any kind of advertising on them... such as these vintage soda bottles.

I photographed them in black and white, hand colored them with dye inks and roughed up the surface with sandpaper to age them a bit. One of my all-time favorite techniques.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chips, Candies...

It seems like as soon as Halloween is over, and you made it without stealing too much candy from little children... that all of a sudden the cold weather kicks in... and all you want are chips and chocolate? Funny.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sometimes You Just Get Stuck...

Hey, maybe if I stare at this thing long enough it'll turn into something wonderful! That's what I've been saying about this little starry house I've been working on. Last June, I purchased a bunch of really cool house boxes from a local yard sale. I started to work on this one and just fizzled out. I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps I might be thinking about it too much and maybe the answer is to just... do what I know. Use some techniques and embellishments that I've used before on projects of this type... and stop trying so hard!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Campfire Girl...

Fall is really here. Cool air, brisk winds, leaves already turned the colors of fire drifting to the ground. I just love stepping outside to the scent of burning wood from a nearby neighbor's fireplace, most likely keeping them warm and toasty. It's one of my favorite olfactory pleasures, reminiscent of all my years being the fire-tender when camping. It's still my favorite task (and my favorite smell!). If I could change one thing about my current home, it would be to have a real fireplace. One day...
©photo by Debbie Tlach

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let It Snow...Man!

So, I kept my promise to myself and got busy this weekend having fun painting and working on all my snowman assemblages. I'm very happy with the way they turned out. They all have their own personalities, but I think my favorite is the one with the ladder to the moon. And I really love the Claudine Hellmuth Studio Paints, Brushes, Mediums, and Gesso that I used to create these cigar box scenes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Cabin On The Lake

A while back, my mom had gone to a funeral. At this funeral, she had spoken to one of the family members about having to "go through things". The woman mentioned that she had so many old photographs that she had to just throw many of them away. Mom said that was too bad as her daughter (me!) uses them in her artwork. Surprisingly, the woman mentioned that she did not "empty" the trash yet and could take them out and send them to me. And so she did. How very sweet.

As I was going through the photos, I kept noticing several that had this cabin on the lake pictured. It looked just like a cabin of a distant Uncle who I used to visit with my family when I was young. That cabin was in New York on one of the many lakes upstate. Last week, I had the opportunity to pass the photos on to a visiting relative and ask if it was my Uncle's cabin. And guess what? It was! Pretty cool.

photo courtesy of Ms. Bobbi Cidern

Monday, November 10, 2008

Still Finding Myself...

I can see myself out there... floating at the edge of the stratosphere... peeking out from behind my heart that has been bound... only temporarily... until I am found.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Feeling A Little Blue Today...

I'm feeling a little blue today. Maybe it's the weather... it's been cloudy and raining all week long here. Maybe it's because I'm so busy at work. Or maybe it's that I've had a lot of obligations this week... albeit fun ones, I just haven't had enough me time. Tomorrow I think I'll just stay home and paint some snowmen. Now that sounds like fun!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I've gone to PinkBerry Land..

Yea, I did it! I got a Blackberry... okay a Pinkberry! I really wasn't interested in getting a new phone, until they made the Blackberry in pink. It takes a little getting used to, but I really love a lot of the features: the calendar, memo pad, voice recorder, e-mail, internet, and so much more. And... it's PINK!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Skee Ball

As a child, I loved to go down to the boardwalk arcades and play Skee Ball. For this game of skill you'd throw a clunky wooden ball up a ramp and into a bullseye-style area of rimmed holes with different point values for the degree of difficulty. You typically got 9 tries for each token... enough to rack up some tickets and buy yourself a pencil eraser or a bird water whistle. Boy, things were much simpler then.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Weakness...

Ahhhh, yes... here they are. Two of the most adorable, sugary sweet cupcakes you'd ever lay your teeth on. Tenderly purchased from the Ocean Grove Bakery in town, these yummy delights are my every-once-in-awhile treat. Okay, so every two weeks. I cannot resist!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Veritable Snowman Factory...

In an effort to brush up on my mass production skills— and finish a few more snowman assemblages—I really went to town this weekend! I even made some awnings with the Claudine Hellmuth Studio Sticky-Back Canvas that I had left over. Bonus!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Everybody!

Okay, so here I am, a 70's Mod Girl with my pal and associate Debbie Dracula! It's always so much fun to come into the office and see what everybody looks like. Such as...
Debra the Zebra and Jackie as "Miss Diagnosed". Too much fun! We had a pizza luncheon with spooky music and lots of candy. Hope you all have a good one. Don't overdose on sugar!

© photos by Patti Behan

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Uh-Oh, Nothing's Defrosted!

What's for dinner? Nothing... because I neglected to take anything out of the freezer and I've had more than my share of pasta these days. So I had a coupon for Carmine's and I took myself out for a treat! Stay tuned for a trick tomorrow, as I blog from the office dressed up with friends!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Laundry Night...Yawn...

Yeah, sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Bills, garbage, dusting and some laundry. But hey... don't the lights, colors and darks make a nice palette? Art is everywhere!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Hoffbrauhaus, Munich, Germany

Okay, as a graphic designer, you just can't let an opportunity like this go without a few thought bubbles! It's just one of the many perks of working in Photoshop! But anyway... this is what the Hoffbrauhaus looks like in Munich, Germany, at about 1 a.m. when you get seated with a German rugby team! The guy on the left with the gauze on his forehead, had head-butted someone earlier in the day, gone to the hospital, and received stitches. And so where do you go after you've given yourself a mild concussion...

To the Hoffbrauhaus, of course!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm All Boxed In...

I so enjoyed creating my recent snowman cigar box assemblage, that I thought I'd recreate it in several colors of the Claudine Hellmuth Studio Paints! So, here we go... Wheeeeee.....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

And It's Not Even My Birthday!

So... on a lark (pun intended!), my good friend Suze Weinberg bought me this wonderful birdie wand, fashioned by the multi-talented Lisa Kettell (pictured here). Suze thought it had "Michelle" written all over it! I would have to agree! Thanks Suze!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Instinctually Cute!

video
My wonderful kitty cat, Juliet, does this funny thing with her food when she's done. Obviously an instinctual trait, left over from being a stray out in the woods of New Jersey. You see, she's "burying" her food so that no other animals will smell it and find her. But from a human perspective... it's pretty darn cute if you ask me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good For The Body, And The Brain...

Yesterday, I took myself out on a date. I figured I deserved it, and I'd like to make it a weekly tradition. I went for a 50-minute full body massage at Hand and Stone Spa. Oh so very relaxing! Then I took myself out for a nice dinner, perusing through and writing in my journal between courses. I had a marvelous time with myself. I think I'll take me out again next Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pick-A-Photo Tuesday: Never Ever The Same...

Ahhhh. Nature can teach us many lessons, can it not? Let's take the clouds for instance... Cumulus, Stratus, Cirrus, Nimbus... and many combinations of those named. Regardless of the type, name, or stratospheric circumstances... the clouds will never ever look the same... ever! Much like life. We can name those circumstances we think will take place... but do we really ever see the same thing over and over. It's just different somehow... this time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Winter Wonderland...




















Yay! My assemblage I started two weeks ago is finally finished. I'm telling you, it pays to leave your work-in-progress directly in your path while you are contemplating what to do with it. Saturday night it struck me... a snowman, yes! And then I added the tree for balance. I did not want to add too much because many components of this piece have texture... and I did not want to take away from that.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I've Got The Blues...




















Blue jeans that is! I made these funky altered pair over the weekend using Claudine Hellmuth's Studio Paints. The idea was nagging at me for quite some time and I just had to try it! I did a wash of paint in pink and then stamped the flourishes in white. I let that dry and then did another wash of pink over top to tone down the white. I'm very happy with the results!

© photo by Carol Bernard (mom!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Up And Down... Round And Round...

Some days are like a carousel ride... up and down, round and round, up and down, round and round... in a big circle. The same stuff with the same view and lots of highs and lows. But eventually the ride stops and you can get off. Or perhaps you'll get more tickets, get back in line, and ride it all over again? The choice is yours. Or should I say... mine! I'll be right back... I'm going to the ticket booth...