Friday, November 14, 2008

Upon Us

Things have seemed generally more festive lately...lots of giggling, amazing food, catching up with family & friends.
Despite the dark and dismal nightly news, it just seems like the folks around here have an extra twinkle in their eyes.
The holidays are upon us.
Time to give thanks and reflect on our blessings.
To hold our loved ones close, to watch children play, to snuggle up to our parents & grandparents and listen to old stories.

I absolutely adore this time of year and look so forward to the short pilgrimage to my aunt's huge old house - 3 floors of interesting rooms filled with fun, junky antiques. Every year she hosts an immense gathering of our close family (there are many of us). We gather around 5-6 tables end to end, with gorgeous homemade decorations & filled with food.

Each family member receives a special homemade gift made by the children of the family. My sister holds a special Thanksgiving prep craft session with the kids the day prior, where they carefully craft exquisite little tokens of love.

Now back to the food...aaahhh...the food is amazing. For such a large gathering we all contribute something. My aunt handles the turkey & main dishes, my mom & sis take care of the desserts and some sides and I get the relish tray.

I know what you are thinking...I got off easy, right? Dump some store-bought pickles and cranberry sauce in a dish and call it done? Well, as anyone who knows me well would say, I can't do "lowkey". It's just not in my DNA. So although its truly meant to almost be an afterthought accompaniment, I have been determined over the years to bring it to a new level of stature on the Thanksgiving table.

There have been experiments with pickling, olive medleys, chutneys and the like. Some were good, some were very, very bad. It got to be such an obsession that my hubby started calling me Chutney-Queen.

During this time of year, there is always a big pot of bubbling chutney on the stove.

And to serve all of these chutney labors-of-love?
First issue was the "tray". One tray didn't seem like enough for such a crowd, and I really wanted to do something creative, so I altered/decoupaged the rims of several ivory china trays with snippets of meaningful Thanksgiving phrases and words. They were sealed for protection and we carefully handwash them every season.
Now the serving pieces...those get a new treatment every year. I use them to not only serve the dish but to describe what it is they are eating. Sometimes I add tiny tags like "Spiced Pear & Apple Chutney", sometimes I've written directly on the handle and scrubbed it off later on.

If you've never had a relish tray at your Thanksgiving table, I really hope you try it. There is nothing more magical in the mouth then the combo of savory & sweet. Most recipes are quite simple and it also makes a great host/hostess gift during the holidays. Here are some of my favorites...I found both way back when on the Food network website.

Cranberry-Apple Chutney
Yield: 8-10 servings
1 (10-16oz) bag of fresh whole cranberries
2 crisp apples, peeled & cored, sliced 1" thk (I have used Macs or Granny Smith)
2 in piece of ginger, peeled & very finely grated
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Cook about 30 minutes - until softened, reduced and thickened.
Transfer to storage containers or pretty canning jars. Cool fully before serving. Can store up to 2 weeks refrigerated

Vidalia Onion & Granny Smith Chutney
Yield: 8 servings
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled & cored, small dice (should yield approx 6 cups)
2 Vidalia (or other sweet onion), medium dice (yield approx 3 cups)
2 cups golden raisins
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grnd white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Cook about 1-1 1/2 hrs - until most liquid evaporates.
Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
Transfer to storage containers or pretty canning jars. Cool fully before serving. Can store up to 2 weeks refrigerated

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Fall and it's so beautiful in our neck of the woods right now...pumpkins and gourds and cornstalks and falling leaves the color of jewels.

All of this natural beauty has been quite inspiring and our studios have been buzzing. We have some brand new designs that premiered at our last event and are now available on our website.

Super sweet & simple to make!
We include pre-cut wood pieces, book cover artwork and complete instructions. The possibilities are endless when adding your favorite small 3D collage elements. You supply the paint, paper, glue and creativity!

Secret Book
This kit is sized to fit 2.5" x 3.5" ATCs. Use this little book as a secret shadowbox, to store your fave ATCs or treasured trinkets, as a gift, etc. Please note: The contents of the secret book are not included. Example shown uses some of our photo cards, art paper and embellishments.

Mini Secret Book
Designed to hold your 1 1/2" x 1 3/4" mini ATCs, but don't stop there - use as a tiny shadowbox for assemblage, storage for treasured trinkets, as a gift, etc. Please note: The contents of the mini secret book are not included. Example shown uses some snippets from our art paper, silhouettes and embellishments.

Bench Kit
Our Mini Bench Kit is simply adorable! This kit includes pre-cut wood pieces and complete instructions to make one mini bench. You supply the paint, paper, fiber, glue and creativity! The bench can be painted, papered, stained, sanded and inked. Use as a decorative piece in your home or studio, give your art dolls & creations a place to sit a spell, incorporate into larger assemblages, etc. Please note: Example shown uses some of our art paper, fiber and embellishments.

SHADOWPLAY Silhouettes
We have taken some of our favorite silhouettes and laser-cut them from thick black cardstock. Use as-is for a classic look or paint with juicy colors! Sturdy yet easy to cut up - perfect as a stencil! Available in several styles.

Birds, Nests & Cages

Playing Dress Up

Swirly Bits & Scrolls

Kitty Cats & Doggies

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Harvest Treasure

21 Pies were made from scratch

We call these utility pies because we can freeze and use throughout the winter as hostess gifts, last minute party desserts and for special Sunday dinners.

The best part - each time one of us tastes or serves one of these throughout the season we are reminded of the wonderful time together.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Art Is...Amazing

WOW...what a wonderfully heart-warming and inspiring event. We had the pleasure to participate in Art Is You 2008 retreat in CT over Columbus Day weekend and it was just superb! We met some truly beautiful, sweet souls - we are so pleased to see old friends and meet new. Salli-anne & Ellen went above and beyond as usual! The artwork, workshops & special extras were awesome - we were surrounded by talent.

Sal, my hubby Scott and I

We met Terri Ventura of Dime Store Daze - we had a really great time together. Terri is sweet, honest & awe-inspiringly talented. All photos on this entry are thanks to Terri's camera as I forgot mine. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)
I am so happy we met such a wonderful, new friend - she had me giggling all weekend.

Terri, Scott and I

Terri made these wicked cool little notebooks - I was lucky enough to get one.

One of the workshops I taught - Can Can Dolls

I had such a lovely time with the ladies in all of my classes...

Terri (she's sooo darn talented!) took my Oh Baby! class and brought it to a new, exciting level incorporating some of her fabulous bits (you MUST check out her stuff - waaay cool!)

Pamela Huntington
has a gorgeous display as always - she is SUCH a sweetheart!

Me, Pam & Terri - it was a long day full of activities

We met Laura, who was kind enough to assist w/ Terri's booth. She is very talented & another new friend we had so much fun with...

Laura & Sal

- she is soooo great. I really enjoyed having her in my Oh Baby! class - she did an amazing piece. I was salivating at her table on vendor night - really fun and simply GORGEOUS work!!

Ellen & Sal
These ladies worked so hard to make sure this event was a success...they are the BEST!

Here's a peek at some of our displays...

I LOVE doing them - it's like one, giant piece of artwork to me. My hubby jokes that I can't stop "fussing" with them, but its a labor of love.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's Been Too Long...

It's been a very busy busy that I blinked and it was over.

But some exciting things have been going on in our Studios!
I am thrilled to share my newest article in
Somerset Memories - the Oct/Nov 2008 issue.

This project was so much fun and as always they did a beautiful layout.

The Art Is You workshops in Cromwell, CT are next weekend and we have been busy little bees preparing for my classes, creating one of a kind artwork, stocking up on some brand new products and gathering a huge collection of unique, funky found objects from our famous Junk Shoppe to offer exclusively for the attendees. If you can make it, they will be having a vendor faire on Sunday that is open to the public and should be just wonderful! I will be sure to share photos and feedback from the event.
For more info check out

Friday, August 29, 2008

Haunted Ancestors

I am honored to announce my Halloween article has been published in the latest Somerset Studio issue - Sep/Oct 08.
They did a beautiful job and I just love their publications.
Don't you just love Halloween?
Stay tuned for my "Paper Bag Tricks & Treats" art dolls coming soon in the Oct/Nov 08 issue of Somerset Memories!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Art Is You

Don't Miss Out on THE East Coast Art Event - Wonderful workshops, shopping and don't forget the flim-flam!

Featuring east coast artists with a few non east coast artists thrown in because of their extraordinary talents, fabulous sense of fun and their belief in this event. The aim of this event is for participating artists to come together to create, self nourish, replenish personal creative resources and to nurture not only individual souls but the souls of those around them. The days are filled with Workshops, Vendors, Exhibition, Challenge and many non scheduled opportunities to create. Whether creating something is part of your daily routine or indeed the closest to creating has been using a glue stick - there is something for everybody.

Classes Available

Project Peat Pot - Treat Cup, Luminaria, Art Doll

Using some paint and bits of paper & fiber, we will transform the humble peat pot into beautiful art! In this class, we will be making 3 mini projects - create an adorable treat cup, a translucent luminaria and a fabulous art doll. Be amazed at how quickly and easily you can create these charming pieces of art!

Recycled Can Art Doll

We will smash and shape empty tin cans to create a fabulous art doll – we will discuss and play with scale & proportion as we push the boundaries in this sculptural project. You will be shown how to give life to blank doll parts using paint, paper and fiber. Adorable accessories complete the look. Please note: examples show boy and girl versions…we will concentrate on completing one doll, however, you will be provided with enough supplies to do both. Who knew recycling could be so much fun?

Little Books
2 Little Altered Books – 2 ½” x 3 ½”, 2” x 2 ½”
The simplest book you’ll ever make – the small size is so much fun to work with! In this class we will walk through all the steps to make 2 little altered books. Working with all sorts of mixed-media like paint, paper, rubber stamps, fabric/fiber – you can customize into all sorts of themes – Needle/Notions Book, Mini ATCs Book, Tiny Photo Album, Tiny Journal, an Ornament, a necklace Pendant. These are absolutely adorable and the ideas are endless. Warning: These are addictive!

Do you collect bits of things? Are you attracted to shiny, rusty, glittery, vintage, chippy objects? What about bits of fluff or fiber? If someone else’s trash is your treasure, then you’ll love this project! Create a 3-dimensional sculpture that captures the essence of the ultimate recycler, the magpie.
For each person the magpie can represent a different thing…in this class you will create 3 birds which you will collage and alter. For my example, I wanted each bird to represent 3 things I personally value - ART, EARTH, LOVE. Each bird has “collected” found objects that capture these values.
You can then choose to connect them into one large sculpture (like the example) or keep them as separate smaller works of art. The beauty of this project is that you can create an individual bird in flight or a whole flock!

Oh Baby - Altered Baby Shoe Art Doll
We will create a whimsical art doll by altering a baby shoe. Using paint, paper and fiber an everyday shoe becomes a piece of art. Example utilizes a vintage baby image, but you can make your shoe into any type of doll - the possibilities are endless!
You will never look at old shoes the same way again…

This wonderful art event is filling up quickly - register today!

THE East Coast Art Retreat
10-13 OCTOBER 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

salvaged homes

I am in awe of the sumptuous details of these collected, abandoned nests.

The photos are simple and pure - they allow the viewer to take in all of the intricately structured homes made from salvaged materials.

absolutely breathtaking.

1. For the Birds, 2. Geospiza fuliginosa, 3. Anas acuta 023, 4. Carduelis hornemanni exilipes, 5. Sayornis phoebe, 6. eggs011, 7. Pycnonotus sinensis, 8. Petronia petronia 023, 9. Dendroica magnolia, 10. Hirundo rustica 00007, 11. Oriolus chinensis diffusis, 12. Larus occidentalis occidentalis, 13. nest with leaves and grapes 049714. Not available15. Not available16. Not available

Thursday, July 10, 2008

These Four Walls

"When we read a story, we inhabit it.
The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls.
What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story.
And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own."
~ John Berger ~

WOW...beautiful quote - I just love the written word because of its ability to transport the mind into such wonderful places. To imagine, to discover, to dream and to inhabit the place in our heart and soul.

This could inspire some interesting art pieces don't you think?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ellen Purtill-LeGare has surprised and delighted me by nominating my creative blogging journey - The White Farmhouse - for this award!
Thank you so much - you have positively made my day :)

Here are the Rules for Nominating a Blog:
1) Put the logo on your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on yours.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Some (I couldn't possibly name them all) of my favorites are:

1. Road Trip With Ruby
2. Freckled Farm
3. Pam Garrison
4. Heather Bailey
5. Inspire Company
6. JuJu Loves Polka Dots
7. Melissa McCobb Hubbell

Inspiring, heart-warming and witty - with some amazing eye-candy to boot!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

That Warm, Fuzzy Feeling

“And it's a hard, It's a hard, It's a hard, It's a hard, It's a hard rain gonna fall” - Bob Dylan

Today it's a hard rain...the outside world simply can not compete with the lure of working in my barn and studio.

I am looking over my auction treasures from the last week - some will make it to our online shoppe, others will be carefully displayed in our antiques market and the last little bits, that I just can't bear to part with, will join my other junkilicious goodies in my studio and home.

Aaaah - such a wonderful feeling - pouring over the old text, rubbing the vintage linens & lace between my fingers and admiring the patinas, chippy paint and tarnish. I've got that warm, fuzzy feeling as I daydream about the infinite possibilities...

Maybe it is the gentle drum, drum, drum of the rain on our barn's metal roof

or my ridiculously soft, white socks

or my favorite vintage Beastie Boys tee

or my cup of Earl Grey

or my sweet studio kitties watching silently as I work

I am content today.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Too Strong & Too Sweet

What was any art but a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself - life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.
- Willa Cather

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