Saturday, April 20, 2013

Focusing On Life 52 Weeks~ Week 16 ~ Take A Walk

This is the view through the front door
from the inside of what used to be our children's playhouse 
 turned garden shed.
I designed and decorated this old door to look like stained glass
using the lead lining in the tube and stained glass paints back in 1991.

You see, for the prompt this week we were told to take a walk.
So I did.
Down Memory Lane.

I did not realize at the time how difficult this walk would prove to be.
This past week we began the monumental task of cleaning out and tearing down this old shed.
As much as we hated to do it, the floor had rotted out after it had settled lower onto the ground and some of the trim boards and roofing and siding had bad areas too so we decided to order a new one to replace it.

But during the course of this week my emotions went the way of the demolition.

Upside down and inside out.
And I soon realized,
Nothing would ever replace it.

The year was 1991
the shed was original to our house
dirt floor ,open door, typical old outdoor tool shed.
We had covered the failing wood shingled roof with tin prior to this
and after building a larger outdoor storage barn/studio  the year before,
decided to convert this into a playhouse for our daughter
who had just turned 7. 
 Our son who was 2 at the time, would later get a fort of his own, complete with trap door.

We had salvaged the door from a renovation we had done on a rental house and cut it to size.

Ready for occupancy except for the front steps.
We planted some camellias in bright pink
and even added some pink gingerbread trim to match the wraparound porch on our house.

Inside, I painted the floor with porch floor paint and stenciled designs around the perimeter.
My husband built 2 bunks onto which we placed air mattresses and even a handmade quilt.
We hung a closet rod to hold all the dress up outfits.
There were storage drawers and boxes to hold items like play food and dishes,
dolls and clothes, art and craft supplies.
No this was no ordinary playhouse, it was a dream house.

There was a ladder to a full carpeted loft above for even more play area.
There were sleepovers out here, more plays and pageants than I can count with neighborhood kids, food was cooked in the play kitchen, babies were fed and bathed and put to sleep and imaginations were nurtured.

With the exception of the first 4 photos taken this week,
the rest have been culled from photo albums and scanned .
It was the process of looking through those albums
seeing all these pictures
finding myself way down memory lane
 that a flood of emotions came over me
taking me back
making me realize the significance of losing the playhouse.

I found myself wanting to go back to these days,
even if just for a little while
duck my head and enter
sit to a tea party with my hostess
most likely dressed in a gown, play makeup and all,
and just soak it all up.
Enjoy every moment without feeling like there was something else I should be doing,
places I needed to go, errands to run, work to do, half distracted
the way most mother's feel at that time in their lives.

Since that is not possible,
I will have to content myself with these photos
and all the wonderful memories
have a good cry
and start over with my grandchildren.
Tea anyone?

I would also like to thank everyone for their comments last week, I have been unable to respond yet and visit everyone's posts but I will work on catching up over the next 2 weeks as I will be away again next week at Art and Soul.
Now you can take a walk, over to The Studio Sublime to see all the other great posts.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Focusing OnLife 52 Weeks~ Week 15~ Aged Beauty

It was a beautiful sunny warm morning
All of the vendors were busy spreading their wares
on tables and blankets and even the dew kissed ground.
The hunters and gatherers, wide eyed with anticipation
already scanning the vista, the aisles of treasures
just awaiting their moment of discovery.
Excitement was in the air along with the smell of
fresh donuts, kettle corn and breakfast fare.

A small crowd had gathered in front of one vendors table
always a good sign, drawing others in
something wonderful must be here, so much interest.
As I glanced quickly so as not to miss out
she called to me, so loudly I could hear no other call
"May I see that brass pin?" I found myself saying
reaching past the other hunters who were suddenly quiet.
"I'll take it"

 Burying my treasure in my bag until later
I walked away, giddy over what I had found
But it wasn't until much later, this week in fact
with the aid of my macro lens
that I came to appreciate her true aged beauty.
The intricate handwork which went into her creation
what I once thought was just silver filigree in the background
showcasing vintage rhinestones and pearls,
turned out to be a labyrinth of seed beads
in mother of pearl and silver lined crystal.

Behind every aged beauty lies a story
a past history
a mystery to unfold
I will wonder about hers.

To enjoy some more aged beauty head on over to The Studio Sublime.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Focusing On Life~Week 14~Up Close

 Looking at any object up close transforms it into an unidentifiable landscape,
a scary terrain seemingly from another planet
complete with hidden caves and stalagtites

 It can even sometimes take on human characteristics
like these hands and fingers which seem to reach up out of the ground to grasp an object

You can see well defined patterns and rows of shapes that would otherwise go unnoticed

And textures not visible to the naked eye

You begin to wonder,
what am I looking at?

Then suddenly it all makes sense.

Head on over to The Studio Sublime to get up close and personal this week.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Focusing On Life 52 Weeks~ Week 13~ Have Faith

My faith runs deep and strong
It sustains me in uncertain times
Calms my fears
Quiets the noise in my head
Directs me in the ways I should go.

I have faith in a power greater than myself
One who holds the master plan that I am not privy to
I realize that each of us has to walk our own path in this life
Find our own way
Deal with the pitfalls and obstacles and detours
Inherently ours alone.

That for as much as we would like to spare someone
the experience of what we perceive to be mistakes and bad decisions
and the subsequent growing pains sure to follow
we must let them go
 and  hold onto the faith that we are all right where we should be
when we should be there
learning exactly what it is we need to learn
every step of the way.

Join the rest of the faithful at The Studio Sublime

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Focusing On Life 52 weeks~ Week 12~ Observe The Curve

Much like a roadmap,
a sewing pattern is a guide,
full of twists and turns and curves,
stop signs and markers and directions
taking you on a journey.
A little confusing at the start perhaps,
even overwhelming at times
but if you trust in the process,
and in the mapmaker's skills,
have a little faith,
you will end up right where you need to be.
This past weekend, I was lucky to attend The Sewing and Quilt Expo in Lakeland with my Mom.
I have been inspired to do a little more sewing ever since going to the ACC show in Baltimore a few weeks ago with my friend Bette.
At that show I fell in love with several handmade garments, gorgeous tunics and jackets that were unfortunatley WAY out of my price range.
When I saw the sewing expo advertized I jumped on the chance to go and I was not disappointed, as a matter of fact, I wish I had found out about it sooner as they offered many classes over the course of 4 days,  a good number of them in garment construction.
I may try to get to the one in Baltimore when it comes there and pick up a few classes  if I can get away.
I was able to pick up several designer patterns and some wonderful fabrics that I don't usually see in the average fabric shop.
I opened one of the patterns and immediately saw the answer to this week's prompt.
I have also wanted to use the posterization affect on a photo and the graphic nature of this photo lent itself perfectly to that.
Observe the rest of the curves over at The Sudio Sublime.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Focusing On Life 52 Weeks~ Week 11~ The Possibilities Are Endless

"Each morning we are born again.
What we do today is what matters most"
Buddha's Little Instruction Book
 When pondering this weeks prompt,
The possiblilities are endless,
I thought, had I been home I might take a picture of a new block of clay,
or perhaps my stash of beads or art supplies, all affording endless possibilities
of creation.
But then I thought a little deeper, and took a picture this morning of the sunrise and then this evening of the sunset, the hours between, the possibilities are endless as to what we make of them.

How many do we foolishly waste on unimportant things,
always taking for granted there will be another one right behind it?

I hope to be ever mindful that I have been given this day,
 this hour,
this minute, only.
Go explore all the other possibilities at the Studio Sublime

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Weeks~ Week 10 ~ All Wrapped Up

Wrapped up and trapped in their own skins
kraft paper camellias

Frozen in time
Never to realize their full potential

Yearning to open and bask in the warmth of the sun

To show their true colors

Alas only to find they are
a faded memory of what will never be

Youth and beauty lost.

This week's prompt was all wrapped up and while this initially conjured many other ideas,
when I saw my camellia bush, which stands a stately 10 or so feet tall by my front door,
covered in buds that never had the chance to open due to the freezing weather, I knew I had my subject.

Since this is a photography challenge, this week instead of shooting several photos, I chose to stick with one and experiment with some post processing to see what I could evoke.

The last photo is the photo I used in it's as shot, straight from the camera condition.
This shows me that when you take the time to frame the photo right when shooting, you will have a good strong dynamic image to work with which is then open to many opportunities to explore in post processing with very little effort.

Now grab a cuppa, wrap up in something warm and cozy and head on over to The Studio Sublime and visit all the other talented photographers on this journey with me.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Weeks~ Week 9~ Knock Knock

A door opened and I went through it. ~Temple Grandin

Sally's prompt for us this week-

"Let's open some doors to see what awaits us on the other side.
Is it a door that holds opportunity?
A door that holds a story?
Is it a door you have been hesitating to open?
Is a gate to a new life?
A door to a new adventure?
Is it a door that holds a memory?
Is it the perfect door for a simple picture?
You have arrived at the door for a reason, open it up and step in!"

I knew it was only a dream
and yet I found myself wanting,
no,  needing 
to step over the threshhold
walk through the archway
see what awaited on the other side

Now I find myself thinking
 Was it really a dream?
Or have I been awake the whole time?
The vision is etched in my memory

Last Sunday, as I was on my way to Baltimore to the ACC show,
I passed what looks like an old cemetary with one wall still standing of a chapel perhaps?
As soon as I saw that doorway, I knew it was the one.

It was raining still at the time so I stopped on my way back home and grabbed a few shots which I then played with in post processing.
Step inside The Studio Sublime to see what everyone else captured this week

Friday, February 22, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Photos ~ Week 8 ~ Monochromatic

 Monochromatic  ~  consisting of one color

Sally's prompt for us this week
Monochromatic photos tell a story, evoke emotion and uncovers the soul with the simple contrast of one color. Monochromatic photos enable the viewer to see a deeper meaning behind what may be concealed by multiple colors.
This week look deeper through the lens to the story your photo captures and then process it to one color! Or be daring and shoot in B&W (monochrome).

 Faded photos.
Edges bent and even torn.
 Lying in a pile of memories
 tucked away in some long forgotten musty cardboard box.

Old friends.
Family gatherings.
 Momentous occasions.
Snippets of a life captured on film
 to be revisited time and again over the years.

 Heartwarming thoughts of times together.
  People and places once visited.
Stories told.
Dreams and secrets shared.
And food.
Hugs and laughter exchanged.

 Old times that take on a dreamlike quality
Living in our memory and our hearts
Forever revived with a simple photograph.

original photo before processing for monochromatic

This past week I had the opportunity to visit with my dear friend Carol and her hubby as they were in the process of cleaning out their other home to be sold.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch together followed by conversation and laughter back at her home by the fireplace all nice and toasty.
Before leaving, I spotted this amazing old school desk that Carol had used to create on and would not be making the trip to their townhouse.
The next day Carol contacted me to come and get the desk, knowing it was going to a good home where it would be loved and appreciated.
I wonder how many papers were corrected on this desk,
lessons planned, books and reports piled,
 how many gifts to teacher placed there in the morning,
a shiny apple perhaps, a flower from someones garden?
Then all the artwork and jewelry that Carol created sitting at this same desk.
Letters written, books and papers piled.
Now handed down to me to carry on the tradition.
Thank you sweet friend.
Be sure to visit The Studio Sublime for more monochromatic memories.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Photos - Week 7 ~ The Beauty of Flowers

 The Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sally's prompt for us this week was~
"A single flower with it's beauty has the ability to lift our spirits and bring a sense of happiness to our souls. The sheer sight of flowers can evoke feelings of excitement, positivity and enhance our well being.
This week take a moment to bring a little happiness to your soul and enhance your well being.
Take a moment to enjoy the beauty of flowers."

 I took these shots right before we left Florida to come home. They are of the purple passion flower vine that we planted along the fence behind our house about 10 months ago.
The vine has spanned the width of our property in that time  and you can tell by the tightness of the tendrils, it is a serious climber!
The blooms remind me of some underwater sea creature, as if it could just swim right away into that deep blue sky there.

I want you to know that these are not post processed in any way other than applying a frame to them and this first one is slightly cropped. The colors are that vivid.

 The outermost petals remind me a little of an upside down water lily.

Seeing as how we are having a very cold rain right now which is supposed to turn to sleet and snow as the day and night wear on, the sight of these flowers and that beautiful blue sky really do brighten my day today!

Go enjoy a walk through the virtual garden at The Studio Sublime and see what everyone has picked this week!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Photos - Week 6 ~ Feel The Love

Well, believe it or not it is already week 6 of Sally Russick's challenge to Focus on Life 52 weeks in photos and for this week Sally told us-

"Since love is in the air in February,
this week keep your heart open, breath in the air and feel the love, then capture it in a photo.
Feel the love that the universe is trying to show us everyday!"

 Ray and I left our place in Florida Tuesday morning and traveled straight through to get to these hugs and smiles impatiently awaiting us! Our daughter invited us to stop over to their house for dinner on our way home knowing we would be exhausted from the 13 1/2 hour trip , and she was right.
But as soon as we arrived at the door, we could hear our names being called " NANNY, POP-POP" and we were greeted with the best running and jumping hugs and kisses to revive us!
Thankfully, I had my little point and shoot in my purse and grabbed these shots.

This is just the best! It made leaving the 80* temps and sunshine to come home to the 30*'s and dreary gray a lot more bearable!

When we got to our house, as soon as we opened the porch door we were greeted again with lots of love!

Our cat Lunabelle is 11 1/2 yrs old so she stayed home in the care of our son while we were away and she has barely left our side since getting home.
In this shot she was sitting on the arm of my husband's chair but she wouldn't let my hand leave her, as I rubbed her neck she leaned further and further following my hand.

I got to feel the love a lot this week, in the pictures above but also in the goodbye hugs from my loving parents when we left Florida and then with our son and family and friends as we celebrated his 24th birthday with margaritas, mexican food and lots of chatter and laughter at a local restaurant and then back at his new place. 

I would like to end this post with a wish for the safety and well being of all of those in the path of this winter storm Nemo. We were fortunate to just receive several inches of rain and lots of wind and cold temps but I know those to the north of us have received much worse.
I hope you are all warm and safe and feeling the love!

Head on over and maybe even decide to join in the challenge, the year is young, at The Studio Sublime and feel the love!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Focus On Life 52 Photos - Week 5 ~ Capture A Heart

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for all of their heartfelt comments over the first 4 weeks of these prompts. I am diligently working my way through all of the posts that I have missed and commenting on each one as I think that is one of the best parts of being in a hop like this, getting to  know everyone on a deeper level, taking the time to really connect ( remember my word for the year?) I find there is so much more to be gained by doing so than simply fullfilling my prompt for the week.
I have also begun to respond to comments left here on this blog in the comment section as there are quite a few that come through as noreply comment @ blogger so you can read my responses right here instead of individual emails.

Now on to week 5, can it really be 5 weeks already???

 Sally's prompt for week 5 in her own words-

"Have you ever taken a moment to notice all the hearts that come into your life everyday? From candy hearts, patterns on clothes, a paper heart you make yourself or heart shaped spirals made from the ornate rod iron fencing that you may or may not have ever noticed on your walk around the neighborhood, hearts are hidding everywhere. This week pay attention to your surroundings, think outside the box and capture a heart! "

It is strawberry season in Florida where we are still visiting and something I love to do is make strawberry jam when they are at their peak of freshness.
Part of my word for the year to reconnect is to reconnect with ALL  things I love and canning is one of them and something I had gotten away from save for a few batches of jam here or there each year.

As I was hulling the strawberries for a batch this week, I pulled back the green leaves and was getting ready to cut when the sight of this heart stopped me in my tracks!
 So this is my found heart for this week.

You can click here to go see how everyone else captured a heart this week!

A lot of people who have never made homemade jam shy away thinking it is a lot of work but it is really very simple and very gratifying.
I personally use Sure Jell and Certo in my recipes and before the holidays discovered that if you go to
and type sure jell or certo in the search box, no less than 179 recipes pop up.
Chocolate Raspberry Spread,   Wine Jelly,   Strawberry Pineapple,    Pineapple Jam, & Cherry Almond  all of which have gotten rave reviews.

 It doesn't take a lot of fancy equipment and supplies to make jam.
Start with firm fresh fruit when possible. For strawberries, wash and hull and drain in a colander. 
I use a blender but depending how fine you like the fruit in your jam, you can even just crush the fruit by hand. I like mine smooth with tiny bits of fruit, not large pieces.
Measure fruit and sugar, for this recipe it takes 5 cups of pureed fruit and 7 cups of sugar. I also made the lower sugar version which takes 6 cups of fruit and 4 cups of sugar.

 Dump the fruit in the stock pot, add a tablespoon of butter to reduce foaming, dump one box of sure jell in, stir and put on medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to boil which only takes a couple of minutes.
 When it hits a boil, dump all the sugar in and stir rapidly to prevent scorching and continue to stir until it reaches a full rolling boil again. Stir for one full minute and then remove from heat.
Now what I haven't shown you here is that I have washed my jelly jars and placed them in a pan in the oven on 200* to stay hot until i am ready to fill them.  I also have a small pot of water on the stove  which when it came to a boil I turned the burner off and put the jar lids and bands in to sit until ready to use. I also have my pressure canner pot ( just because it is the largest one I have here, but you can even use another stock pot) filled with water on a simmer until ready on the back burner.
And since it is a rather quick process at this point, i don't have a photo of the funnel and filling the jars, but you just take your jars out of the oven and using the funnel, one by one fill the jars with the hot jam to within an 1/8" of the top, place a flat lid and a band on each jar, hand tighten and place in the water bath in your large pot.  Make sure the water is covering the tops of the jars by an inch or 2.
 Bring water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, ( no lid) then remove jars and let cool on the counter.
As they cool you will hear the satisfying "POP" of the lids as they vacuum seal down.
The process is pretty much the same for each jam recipe, any variances will be in the ingredients.
It may seem complicated but the whole process only takes about a 1/2 hour start to finish ( once the fruit is hulled) I actually prefer to make several batches, even different ones once I have everything out and going. While the batch is in the water bath I clean up and gather the ingredients for the next batch and start over.
It is a great activity to do with kids as it goes quickly and they have something very tangible to enjoy at the end and feel a great sense of accomplishment.
 Shown L-R, strawberry pineapple,  regular strawberry and low sugar strawberry. You can tell the low sugar version is much more fruit dense and less sugar.
 This however is the full sugar version :) on a piece of sourdough toast
But the sweetest thing of all was being able to spend the time with my Mom in the kitchen, working together we made 6 batches in 4 hours.
Love you Mom.

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