Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Plan is Backfiring

The past month or so, my goal had been to get up earlier in the morning.  The days seem to pass by so fast and I feel like I can never get enough done in a day, so I thought I needed to get up earlier so I can accomplish more.   I've never been a morning person.  As a nurse I mainly worked second shift, staying up late and sleeping in.  Since I've been a stay at home mom, I've slowly felt a shift and mornings aren't as painful as they used to be.   My usual waking time is right around 7am, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later and I go to bed right around 10pm. 

My quite time has always been after the kids go to bed.  I love this time!  It's when no one is  talking to me constantly, or demanding things from me, no one to follow me every single moment of the day.  It's when I can have a full thought without being interrupted!  This is when  I usually work on my artwork.  Many times though I find that I'm so darn tired at the end of the day that I either have to force myself  to paint or I just can't do it at all.

For this reason I decided I need to start getting up earlier.  I wanted some nice quiet time in the morning.  Relax a bit before the morning rush starts.  The first week of doing this was kind of hard, it didn't feel quite right.  I really dislike an alarm, so before going to bed I would have to tell myself I was going to wake up early and guess what?  It started to happen.  Now I've been waking up between 5 and 6 am, usually around 5:30.  There have been a few days where I "slept in" until 6:30!  To be honest, it has been wonderful.  I can accomplish so much in that quiet little space of time.  I usually start with my morning coffee, check e-mails and blogs and then start working on things that I normally don't have time for during the day.   If I have a painting in progress, I'll work on that.  Sometimes I just feel like reading, while other days I've cleaned out cabinets and bins, baked muffins or bread, sewn patches on pants or like yesterday I sewed this mama mouse and baby! (Amelia played with these little guys for hours!)   For me it feels like my time, extra time to do what I want. 


Unfortunately as my waking time has slowly shifted to an earlier time, so has our little light sleeping 4 year old, Amelia!  Argh!  I tiptoe down the stairs in the morning, but somehow her little ears and body sense that I'm up and usually within minutes she is also up.   She has always been our early riser, but usually 6:30-7am.  This past week I don't think she's slept past 6am.


My plan has backfired.  I'm not getting my morning peace now, my alone time and she is also getting an hour and a half to 2 hours less sleep!  I'm not sure what to do about it.  Today I stayed in bed a little longer so she could sleep.  I got up at 5:45 and within minutes she was up.  I guess I'll just have to go with it and enjoy it.  Amelia is a morning person and she almost always wakes up with a smile on her face and she also plays by herself very well, but I'm definitely missing my morning peace and quiet though.    She is busy talking to me right now as I'm trying to finish up this blog post!

I was hoping to quickly write this blog post this morning and work on this painting pictured below, but things have went slower this morning with her little voice chattering in my ear for the past hour!  Oh well, what can I do?  I'm definitely not going to try to get up even earlier!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Almost scrapped!

This piece was not easy.  I knew I wanted to paint a nuthatch, but I was really unsure of the direction I wanted to take it.  It initially started on wood with a collage background.  Soon after I started applying paint, I knew I didn't like the direction it was going and started a new nuthatch on watercolor paper.   Again, I didn't know what I wanted to do with it.

I love how nuthatches walk/hop up and down trees, many times upside down!  I wanted my nuthatch to have that upside down position that I usually see them in.  This little guy started out as a white breasted nuthatch but became the red breasted because I wanted more color! 


I'm not sure why I was drawn to pink, green and orange as the main colors.  I think this started to feel problematic with the bird.  It just didn't seem to match.  I decided to make his little belly much more orange than what it appears in real life.  I thought, why does he have to look exact?  I have a tendency want to make things look exactly as they are.  I've noticed Fischer has this too.  If I'm painting something that doesn't look the same in real life, he'll quickly point out "mom, that's not what it looks like".

I was so close to cutting up the picture and just using the parts I liked, or starting over.  I decided to keep working at it and see if I couldn't make it work somehow.  And guess what?  I think I like it now.  I know I'm not going to throw it away or cut it up,  I have to say,  I'm happy with it.

I think what made this painting kind of hard for me is that I'm going to be donating it for a silent auction  for the Holiday Faire at the Waldorf school here in town.   For one, I wanted it to be a gender neutral subject, I thought a bird would be great.  Unfortunately there might be too much pink in it though to make it very neutral now.   I'm just worried that no one will like it.  I definitely have to matte it for the auction, and I'm thinking I might frame it as well.  We will see, maybe I'll end up painting something else:)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And it just appeared!

This might seem like a silly blog post but I just had to share this little story.  When we lived in McCall Idaho, there was a little shop (it's closed now)  where they would sew just about anything you could imagine out of fleece.  Fleece hats, blankets, jackets, pajamas, and even dog bed covers if you wanted.  (we asked them for that one!)  One of the first winters there, I bought a gray neck gaiter.  Nothing fancy, but very warm.  I wore it for all my winter activities.  It became a necessity for snowboarding and skiing.  I loved it.  One fall probably 5 or 6 years ago, my husband took it with him when he went elk hunting.  After that trip, I never saw it again.  We searched through everything and everywhere we could but figured it was lost in the Idaho wilderness.    I remember searching for it several winters in a row while in Idaho, just hoping I might find it  and I've even searched for it here in Wisconsin.    No luck. 

Yesterday we had our first snow of the season.  Our kitchen has a small little closet I use for my coats and bags.  I've been going into that closet several times a day  for the last 3 years.  Yesterday I reached for my bag and saw lying on the bottom of the closet something gray.  When I picked  it up,  it was  my neck gaitor from McCall Idaho!


I have no idea where it came from!     I'm in that closet all the time, everyday!   I wear all the same jackets that I've worn for years, even the same jackets I had in Idaho.  All the jackets and bags I have in there have been used many, many times over the years.  My husband doesn't keep any of his things in there.  How crazy is that!  All of these years I've searched and searched and of course gave up searching, we even moved and purged  and out of nowhere it just appears!  My husband asked me if I believed if things could "just" appear.  I said no I don't think things just materialize out of thin air!   But really how bizarre  that  it did just appear in a place that I use all the time  AND on our first snow day of the season?  The timing couldn't have been any more perfect!   I love it! 


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Chickadee Greeting

The bold little chickadee made it onto another Christmas painting of mine.  Chickadees and cardinals are 2 birds that I really associate with winter here in Wisconsin.  This recent one of mine was done on watercolor paper with a coffee wash over the top.  For some reason I decided to do the stripes on the side by hand without drawing them straight with a ruler first.  I'm not sure if I like the look of it, it's not as clean looking.  The little bird and tree branch were done with recycled tea bags and a little bit of coffee filters ripped and glued onto the paper.  Watercolor, acrylic and some homemade walnut ink were used in the stripes. 

chickadee flickr

Here's my chickadee I did last year,

little chickadee

and here's the one from the year before.  (at least I think it's a chickadee, his beak is rather large!)  It's interesting to see the difference in the birds from year to year and the style I chose to use.  I didn't look at these other chickadees until I started writing this post.  They are all collages, but they definitely look different from each other.  I'm not sure which one is my favorite, there are parts I like about all of them.     Hmmm, the last 2 have a lot more orange on them,  maybe they are male? 

winter friend

Yesterday I saw a little nuthatch on our tree.    I think it is time to paint a nuthatch!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peace, Love and Joy

Don't you think we need a little more peace, love and joy throughout the year?  Not just around the holidays.

peace love and joy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


We were able to squeeze in some apple cider making the weekend before we left on vacation.  This is our second year of doing this.  I'm hoping to make this a yearly tradition.  What a treat it was to be able to pull out local, organic cider from our freezer all year long! I'm sure it saved us money.  We are very fortunate to have friends that have a cider press and let us reap the benefits!

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Our day started with  26 bushels of apples.  I guess the more variety you have, the better tasting the cider will be.

Picnik collage

For some crazy reason the apple orchard our friend went to, Turkey Ridge Organic Orchard, sold him the apples for only $1.50 a bushel!  and they picked them for him too!  As if that wasn't enough, they gave him all the bottles and caps for free!  You get about 2 1/2 gallons of cider per bushel.  It doesn't get any cheaper than that!  Wow!


The whole process is quite easy.  Thanks to our friends  who had everything all set up when we got there made it all go even faster.  From start to finish, which included clean up, took us about 4 hours.



Into the apple hopper they went. You just throw them in stems and all.  The apples were so beautiful.  Out of 26 bushels I think we probably threw out 6 rotten apples!   


It used to be a hand cranked hopper, but luckily a small little motor makes the job a lot easier and quicker.


  After crushing the apples, the mash goes into the cider press where the hard work of pressing begins.  (you may notice I'm not in any of the pressing pictures!)

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It came out to being close to 2 bushels that would fit in the press at a time.

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After being pressed, the apple juice was mixed up in a 35 gallon garbage can (of course clean), where it was then strained and put into bottles.


From 26 bushels of apples, we ended up with 62 1/2 gallons of cider!  We took home 25 gallons to put in our freezer.  With a 1/2 of pig, 1/4 cow, lots of strawberries and veggies from our garden and 25 gallons of cider,  there is barely any room left in our freezer.  What a great feeling to have it filled with all local goodness!


Here's a few extra pics I just had to share from our cider day.



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What a lovely fall day for cider(ing).
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