Sunday, January 30, 2011

Joybird's Studio: Fairy Toy Box

You might have gathered from this project that I have decoupaged an item or two. While I wouldn’t say my portfolio is huge it is lovingly done. And I have settled into a groove as to how I like to work, what style I like (crackle vs rubbed distressed finish, etc.) My very first decoupage project-a Maxfield Parrish inspired dresser with a different hand painted and decoupaged scene on each drawer-was my most ambitious.  I’d love to do more pieces like that. But time, lack of a place to work, and frankly the lack of my own home have left me doing special pieces for friends, like the wedding gift.

In the last month or so, three sweet toddlers who call me Auntie (or Täti depending on the language) turned 2. Since I didn’t have a blog when they were born I thought I’d take this opportunity to show off their baby gifts. I’m not always able to give such extravagant gifts but circumstances and finances provided both the need and means to do something very special for these kids.

Today’s gift was made for my sweet Tea (pronounced TAY-uh), who calls me Joy Täti. Love that!!! 

Tea and Miro
I wanted to decoupage some sort of furniture and I didn’t want to spend a mint on the actual piece. I went to Michael's and found an unfinished pine chest for about $50. I have to say it was not a paragon of fine craftsmanship. But it was reasonable as wooden toy boxes go.   Knowing I would be putting a lot of time and effort into this project I wanted a solid foundation. So I spent a few days sanding, filling with wood putty and sanding again until the edges lined up seamlessly. I also removed the hinges and glued some wood trim to the edges of the lid to secure the top. The hinges are a choke hazard. I mean it’s kind of a long shot that it would actually hurt them, but I wasn’t willing to take any chances. The big scary sticker on the box saying "Not for use with children. Choking Hazard." helped to convince me.

Then I painted the chest with two coats of a grayish-beige latex paint.

After waxing the edges that would normally experiencing wear and tear with an undyed wax candle, I followed the brown up with two coats of my favorite shade of white.

Gently sanding the edges where I rubbed the wax leads to a gently distressed effect that I simply adore.  Seriously when I have my own nest almost all of my furniture will look like this.  It's such a homey, but subtle effect.

I’d already cut out the pictures I wanted to decoupage. In this case I used a small Becky Kelly desk calendar. With clear forethought and careful planning, I laid out the pictures in a grid and took pictures of each side so I would see how I wanted it to look before gluing.


That doesn’t sound quite like me?

Way too patient, you say.

Yeah, well, it’s partially true. I did lay out grids and take pictures of them, but only after I had glued all of the pictures carefully to the lid, backwards! And I couldn’t just flip the lid around because the front had a round lip and the back was flat. Yeah, that was a crappy happy moment. I pried them up, cut new pics out of an extra calendar and instituted my intelligent grid/picture plan.

After I had the sides just so, I glued each picture down with decoupage medium from Michael's. Frankly, I was kind of unimpressed with this product. I’ve found a mix of 1 part White Elmer’s glue to 3 parts water works better.

Then I clear coated the entire chest with Varathane. To give a silky finish I lightly sanded with very fine sandpaper.

Then I clear coated the entire chest with Varathane and lightly sanded with very fine sandpaper.

Then I clear coated …ah, well, you get the idea. I clear coated and sanded the decoupaged surfaces 20 times to ensure a smooth finish that could stand up to the wear and tear of little hands.

In fact this box is currently sporting Toy Story stickers courtesy of Tea’s big (4 yr old) brother, Miro. It's Buzz Lightyear’s Space Station. And I am certain that the stickers will come off leaving her fairy toy chest as good as new.

I love the final result and you know what is so funny? When I first heard that my friend was expecting a daughter I thought about making her a quilt. Then I remembered that I don’t sew and I do tend to bite off way more than I can chew the first time around. So no quilt. But in the end this toy box has a quilted quality to it.  All that was left was to fill it with goodies, tie the ribbon and give it away.

thanks for joining me for show and tell,
Blog Med Sig 4

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Want Best

I’m in the middle of the end and waiting
Quietly resting,
Trying to do the good I see in front of me each day,
Occupying yet fighting preoccupation.
There is one door at the end
He said.
One door held open for you by My unmovable hand.
Yet the only sign I can read over the door is exit
Or is it entrance?
Time ticks away unrelentingly.
Ten feet is a longer distance than I realized.
Eyes on me,
Sweet hands knocking on doors,
Doors I didn’t asked to be opened,
Doors I don’t want.
But am I wrong?
Calling faith what is in fact fear?
Rest what is in fact sloth?
Do their eyes see clearly the deception of my heart?
I ask
Holding my breath
Struggling to submit in the pause
Do you want them?
My door is for you.
Mine, you will want.

Blog Med Sig 4
Celebrating the rough beauty of truth with Emily

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Music of my Childhood

One of the things I learned in my acting classes (I'm an actor, did you know?  I have a shiny BA and all to prove it.)  Anyway, one of the things I learned in acting classes was how your senses-smells, the quality of light, a song-can trigger memories.  This came to my mind one afternoon as I was cooking. We were watching the BBC series about a country vet, All Creatures Great and Small.  I was ruminating (how's that for a bovine inspired word) on the theme song and how comforting it is to me.

All Creatures was one of my mom's favorite series when I was small.  Somehow this quiet, warm pastoral drama epitomizes my mom to me.  As does I Love Lucy. 

This was one of my Grandma Arlene's favorite shows and so it was one of my Mom's.  I am absolutely positive that I saw every episode filmed while I was growing up, more than once.  My mom used to be able to tell you in the first ten seconds which episode was airing. 

Now I don't want to leave my Dad out of this reminiscing.  There is an old tv show that brings him to my mind everytime.  

The Rockford Files, do you remember this show?  I wish I had a clip that combined the ringing phone and answering machine with the theme song.  I think I could pick Rockford's phone ring out of a line up.  I loved this wise cracking detective although he was on too late for me to watch him often.  But I remember hearing the theme song drift out of the living room where my parents' were trying to enjoy some down time.   Jim Rockford's dry humor makes me think of my own dad, the Bull Gator.  And I think I still have a crush on James Garner. 

What about you?  Do have any songs that bring back bright memories of your early days?
Blog Med Sig 4

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Big Fat Big Sur Road Trip: H2O part 2

So it’s time for another installment in my Big Fat Big Sur Road Trip. This time I will try for limited interruptions but we’ll see. You know I kinda love to talk. And I have a feeling that despite my best intentions I may ramble on my merry way. Well on with the show…

Most of these photos were taken on the way home. Since I wasn’t on a schedule I pulled over to take pictures whenever I took the notion. This means I pulled over about every five minutes. Seriously I added a good three hours to my drive home. But wasn’t it worth it? The coast absolutely glowed in the morning sunlight.

The fog hovering around the edges

caressing the rocks,

drew me in and I didn’t have a choice, I just had to stop and gape. Look at those verdant hills. For California that’s incredibly lush.

At one point I once again risked life and limb bug bites by hiking through a wooded knoll to get this shot.

I know, very whiney brave, but sometimes you have to stand at the edge of the cliff to get the best shot. It’s the only way to see the kelp.

Great kelp, no otters though. Bummer. I believe the kelp beds are one of the reasons the otters love this part of the coast. Perhaps I would know that more definitively if I’d been less comatose at the Monterey Aquarium. Ah well, c’est la vie: back to the pretty pictures.

I love the plants in the foreground.

And look at the colors on this hill, the pinks and purples of the wildflowers/feathery fronds.

Hey aren’t you proud of my self-control. I haven’t even once gushed about the gorgeous water.

But my discipline only lasts for so long.

Water, water, water, look at that bee-yoo-tiful water.

Ahhhh, I feel my soul expanding just looking at the picture, can you even imagine how awe-inspiring the sight is in person. You are lucky I didn’t walk home taking pictures the whole way. But of course I had the Bull Gator’s pretty little car so I wouldn’t actually walk. Although, look, the road is awfully pretty. See how it weaves along the water.

And do you notice the bridge in the distance, so graceful with its lithe curves?

And speaking of roads have you ever seen anything like this? There are parts of the road where this highway turns into a one way street. Does that happen in your neighborhood, or even your state?  It looks like a regular traffic light, but you are actually taking turns using the road.

Oh and look at these boats tucked away into a cove just secured by ropes. I almost expect Frankie and Annette to show up and grab a sloop to go clam digging.

Now these two pictures are in here because I can’t choose between them. I like the details in one and the overall view of the other. So I chose my favorite option in these circumstances and included both.

As I drove farther south the cliffs melt away but I can still catch a glimpse of old California.

At one point the way runs so close to the sea that waves regularly come crashing over the highway. You have to time your way across the valley to avoid being drenched (at least if the top is down.)

I hit Santa Barbara and Carpenteria around sunset. My first boyfriend lived in Carp and I’ve enjoyed many a sunset up there.

I believe they have some of the loveliest sunfalls in the world. That water is the veritable definition of turquoise.

If you look closely you can even see the Channel Islands in the distance.

Now as this episode of my Big Fat Big Sur Road Trip winds down

I just have to celebrate the very reason I took this magnificent journey in the first place.

Have a splendid and hopefully sun drenched weekend,
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Creativity - MUST READ

I just read a post that wrecked me and infused me with life at the same time.  Do you know Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience?  She often wrecks me with the poetry of her words and the Life in them.  But this post, wow, I had to share it with you.  Whether you consider yourself to be an artist or not, in fact especially if the answer is not, read her post on creativity.  It's a great springboard for my weekend and hopefully yours as well. 

Love ya more than my luggage (which has all sorts of fun compartments and is a pretty shade of periwinkle to boot),
Blog Med Sig 4

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Random Panera Weirdness

I just had to share with you this conversation I had at Panera. Priceless.

Me: Is your Thai Chopped Chicken Salad hot?

Panera Employee: No, it is a salad.

Me: Let's try this again.  Is your Thai Chopped Chicken Salad spicy?

Blog Med Sig 4

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Special Delivery

Don't ya love getting packages?  I do. I used to love getting mail but now that it's primarily junk mail and bills, well the thrill is not exactly gone but it is highly diminished.  Boxes, however, are still exciting. And I got a doozy last week. (Does anyone still say doozy besides me? I wanna know.)

Isn't it pretty?  It came from Etsy.  I love boxes from Etsy (and Amazon, but that's a different post) because the contents are packaged with such care and flair.  Check out those ribbons. And instead of invoices you get thank you notes.  I love shopping someplace where it is so clear that you are buying someones hard work and creativity and they are proud to sell it to you.  I think it hearkens back to an earlier time, when craftsmanship was valued and the road between the creator and the buyer was so much shorter.

Curious yet?

This box is from one of my favorite bloggers, Becky at Farmgirl Paints.  Isn't her label cute?  Becky is an artist with her own very unique style.  Ever since she attended Brave Girl Camp (I wanna go) she's been experimenting with mixed media and I love it.  So without further ado...

Songs of Deliverance.  Isn't it beautiful?  I first saw it on Farmgirl Paints' store a few months ago and instantly wanted it.  Just look are those details; the snow even sparkles.  But money is very tight and though I thought it was touching and the colors make my heart sing I just couldn't justify the purchase. 

Then a few weeks ago I popped over to Becky's store to check out her new cuffs and this painting caught my eye again.  This time I was completely taken with the words and I felt this nudge to buy it.  It felt like the Holy Spirit to me but my mortal enemies FearDoubtGuilt spoke up and reminded me of my bills other such urgent concerns and told me that I had no business being so foolish and irresponsible. 

Then I noticed the song playing in the background.  I had left Farmgirl Paints open in another tab and what came wafting out was You Are My Hiding Place by Selah.  Simple lyrics which gently repeat.

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You
I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord
I will trust in You

And my eyes began to mist over at His quiet challenge.  Will I trust Him?  Truthfully, I agree that irresponsible spending is not Godly nor wise and I'm not going to argue that it is.   But in this time of my life my trust in God , not financial responsiblity, is far more often the topic of quiet time conversations. 

So it took me a few hours to fight this little battle.  I'd like to say God spoke and I cooperated and that was that.  But it was a bit more of a struggle.  My final decision was this, the bills for January 2011 will get paid one way or another and will very quickly fade from my memory.  But if I ignore this quiet dare to trust Him and this painting is sold to someone else I will remember that disappointment the rest of my life.  Not as a momentous life decision that haunts me, but as missing small opportunity to trust the One who loves me most, to allow Him to give me to this thing of beauty to sing to me on my very own wall. 

So the package arrived and I'm glad. 

Still singing,
Blog Med Sig 4

P.S. I've put a button linking to updates about Joanne (The Simple Wife) on my side bar.  And my cousin's son is out of the hospital but he and the whole family are battling the flu which is a tough when they are trying to stabilize his blood sugar.   Thanks for praying with me. 

The pictures are mine and the art is copyrighted by © Farmgirl Paints. Please do not reproduce without emailing me first.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Psalm for Joanne

Have any of you heard of Joanne, the blogger behind The Simple Wife? She's just a few years older than me with two kids. A couple of days ago her daughter found her in the basement having a seizure on her treadmill. She'd suffered a major stroke.

I wasn't a Simple Wife reader but we both belong to an online community lovingly referred to as Siestaville. They alerted me to her plight and called me to prayer. As I began praying for Joanne I wanted updates so I visited her blog, but in reading it I began to know her. It's amazing how much of ourselves we can share in these online journals: what snapshots of our lives we give. Joanne and I love the same books. She's wise and this is not her first battle. She has waged some wars on battlefields to which I haven't yet been called. Joanne's also funny and open. I think we could be friends. Her husband and family are praying Psalm 46 for her and I've joined them. I've personalized the Psalm as a prayer for her healing. You are welcome to pray it with me. And hop over to The Simple Wife for updates and to get to know this very cool woman.
God is Joanne's refuge and strength,
Her very present help in trouble.
Therefore she will not fear,
Even though parts of her skullcap be removed,
And though it seems that she is fighting for her life
Though the hospital monitors beep and her doctors be troubled,
Though her body shake with her brain swelling.
Just Breathe.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad this woman of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
Joanne awaken, the brain damage removed;
He uttered His voice, the blood clot melted.
The LORD of hosts is with Joanne;
The God of Jacob is her refuge.
Just Breathe
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has done astonishing things on this earth.
He brings peace where there is anguish;
Fear, He silences, He arrests anxiety;
Despair, He sets ablaze with the light of His love.
We are still, and know that you are God;
You will be exalted in Joanne’s life,
You will be exalted in the blogosphere!
The LORD of hosts is with Joanne;
The God of Jacob is her safe place.
Just Breathe.
Blog Med Sig 4
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