Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let It Snow!

We woke up Saturday morning to a blanket of beautiful snow. The kids were amazed and immediately asked if they could go outside. Well that was 8 o'clock in the morning so I wasn't too thrilled about that. I managed to get them to eat breakfast and then by 9:30 we were out in the stillness of the first winter snowfall. It was so magical. 

Our creek is so beautiful (I know I'm using that word alot). I love how the snow collects on the tops of the river rocks. I've taken this picture every winter that we've lived here, and it always amazes me that this is where I live.

We have a steep, but short hill on the course that the kids love to sled down. The only problem, beside the fact that it's steep and after one trip up you're pooped, is that it is riddled with trees. The first time down a few years ago, no one but me was willing to navigate it. Now, my son who's 5, just told me he did it all by himself. "It was no problem, Mom." I guess I'm not surprised. He's a tough one. 

So after only 2 or 3 trips up that steep hill, Lia decided she wanted to go for a walk in the woods. It was so serene. No wind, no sound. Gorgeous. The kids found a little clearing where the branches hung down low and they thought it would be cool to just hang out for a second. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it did feel like a place where woodland creatures might take a rest.

I didn't know how long the snow would last or if it would be back for Christmas so I convinced the kids to help with a snowman. I had visions of funny scenes from Calvin and Hobbes but once I got to work it wore me out. I was lucky to get one "Frosty" out of this. The funny thing was it actually looked "hairy" because as I rolled him the snow took the last cuttings of the grass with it. Dominic didn't think that was very funny. "Who ever heard of a hairy snowman?" he said. {laugh}

I'm not sure if you can see, but that's Dominic in the background packing a snowball. He was so funny, not even trying to hide, but coming right for me very slowly with a devious grin on his face the whole time. 

This snow-filled weekend finally got it me in the spirit to finish our holiday cards. I made a stamp (of course) of a snowflake and used silver and sky blue ink to stamp a custom card for our friends and family. It was more work than I expected but it was worth it. I love my cards. Very simple...but I think that's our new year strategy. Keeping it simple and enjoying the little things. 

I hope all of you have a wonderful and safe holiday and I wish everyone a prosperous and healthy new year.
Tamra, Dan, Dominic and Lia

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fish Town

Forgive me followers, for it has been over a month since I last blogged. {hehe} I was going thru some pictures I took this year because I've been meaning to print and frame a few. I found the pics I took on our July 4th visit to Traverse City, Michigan where my in-laws live. 

My husband primarily takes all the pictures because he's really good at it, but you don't get to see him in any. So I thought I'd grab it in hopes I could get him in a few. Well forget about it. Through that lens I was drawn to all of these unique and wonderful collection of things. I don't think I even took one picture of my kids {I am now though}. One particular little harbor town called Fish Town, near the Sleeping Bear Dunes sparked something in me. 

The town is actually Leland, Michigan but it's nicknamed Fish Town because of its rich history of being a 145 year old fishing village. It's a small village but has these wonderful shops, perfect for a mother and daughter in law to escape while the men take care of the kids. Believe me, they have the easy part, because there is a great ice cream parlor and candy store there too.

It's funny how we take our pictures, upload them to our computer and then forget about them. We don't even put together photo albums anymore. Well at least I don't. I'm not a scrapbooker. I would rather do something digital and then have someone else print it or put it together. But I want to be more creative with these then just a typical photo album. 

So I thought about selling them as postcards or prints in Fish Town. I know I won't make a lot of money. But how cool to have your photos for sale in a gift shop. Even if one other person loved it and bought it I'd be happy.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wedding Picture

Ok, so I'm jumping ahead of my "Coming Soon" list because I needed a wedding present. Last minute Sally that I am, did not get my very good friend a wedding present for her wedding today. So I thought I'd jump in and see if I could whip her up a watercolor. Pretty ambitious, huh?  Yeah, I thought so too.

Being an Interior Designer and working for years with architects, it has been drilled into me to show my process. How I got to my end result. What was the meaning in it all. Well this isn't that deep and really neither was any of my design projects, but it is pretty cool to see how my original thought for something transformed. Here is a quick sketch of the form I wanted the watercolor to take.

A little more detail on the wing to see if I could figure out the feathers.  Now I'm taking ALOT of inspiration from one of my favorite blogs, Geninne's Art Blog. She does these wonderful watercolor birds and I am trying to imitate her process here but hopefully in my own way. I hate to have you go to her blog and compare hers to mine, because I am no where near her talent, but she just may inspire you to. Plus I need to give her props. She's good.
On to the finished product...

This is not a tracing (believe me, I wish I could have done that). I did this on a watercolor block that is glued on all four sides so it stays stretched when you apply the water. Once you're done you take an exacto knife and cut it apart. 

So I don't think it turned out too bad. I need alot of practice on the white acrylic detailing. That was all hand done with the smallest brush I had. I did discover my Rapidograph pens from school and will try to see if I can get those to work for a steadier line. Plus I need some refinement to my handwriting. Not happy with the lettering. 

Please go easy on the critique if you have any, this is seriously my second attempt at watercoloring, EVER. I think it turned out pretty good, but I guess I'll let the bride be the judge of that.

Congratulations Jon and Katie!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hand Carved Stamps

Okay, so I guess this blogging thing is harder to keep up with than I thought. It's been almost two weeks since my last post and believe me, I've thought about it every day. Finally I have a moment to myself and thought I'd share my first real creative experiment. These really are all experiments for me, because I haven't had an art class since college. Now these might not classify as art but more in the craft arena but there seems to sometimes be a blur where craft becomes art. Check out this blog where the writer posts about this very subject. It's very interesting and may just inspire you.

These were the first two stamps I made and they turned out pretty well. The great thing about stamps is that they are supposed to be somewhat rough. If you wanted them precise and clean then you might as well create something on Adobe Illustrator. I like these because they look, well, handmade.  I initially found out how to do these from one of my favorite blogs, Geninne's Art Blog. She has a hand carved stamp tutorial that is fantastic. She even has a video where she shows you how to carve and all the tools you need.

The greatest form of flattery is imitation, right? Well I thought the greatest way to learn is through imitation as well.  I took Geninne's video tutorial and tried my own feather. Mine is slightly different, but same concept. I was very excited with the results. The white on the black paper looks really good, don't you think? At this point, I'm thinking "Wow! I can do birthday cards, notes, etc.!" Not so fast. When do I have time for that? It's so much easier to buy it from Target, right? Well I'm going to try to change my ways and now that I know how to do this I'm definitely going to "experiment" more. 

Here I found a way to do stamps with a lot of different types of products other than stamps. I found this, of all places, in a Family Circle magazine. I ripped it out (covertly, of course) of one of the magazines at my doctor's office. But you can find it here online, no ripped pages. They all sorts of items, such as bubble wrap, candle sticks, lids or caps from bottles, and the weirdest...a ravioli cutter. Yeah, I got one of those, not. But I might go buy one just to make the cool stamp. 

I made this one for my neighbor when he brought me some acorn squash, eggplant and yellow squash. The acorn squash, which is usually green, is doubling for a pumpkin now. 

Okay, I got a little cutesy here but Lia liked it, and really, when you start to inspire your kids to make their own stamps then cutesy is okay. 

These are the things I used to make my stamps. You can also use plain white erasers like this one, or any of the Staedtler Mastercarve Artist Carving Blocks. They cut like butter with this Speedball linoleum cutter (Haha - I rhymed). And of course, the ink is Color Box stamp pads. 

I have purchased my products from either Dick Blick online or at my local Dick Blick store. If you don't have a store near you try Jo-Anne Fabrics. Don't go to Michael's. They are so much more expensive. 

Have fun and happy carving!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Alpaca Farm

Who doesn't love baby alpaca's? They're doe-eyed and soft and when our babysitter announced one had just been born a few days ago, we jumped at the chance to go see the little cutie (well I did, anyway, I don't think the kids knew what they were getting into). Dominic was the first in the pen and yelled "Hellooo Llamas!" Well I think that ticked them off. Nice first impression, kid.

I'm mean sweet is that face. You would not believe how soft their coat is either. She is only 2 days old and 21 pounds. Good Lord - that poor mama!

Meet the family. Women and babies in the front and the men looking ever so longingly behind the fence in the back.  A few of the ladies were "teasing" the boys which caused quite a stir between the competing males. Good thing they were separated. I didn't want to have to answer THAT question. {if you don't know what I mean by that well forget about it, this is a family channel, blog,!}

They were all quite welcoming though. It was a funny combination of caution and curiosity. They would come up to you real close. I mean real close, nose to nose close. But as soon as you made a move to pet them they shied away. 

I asked the owner of the farm why they wouldn't let you pet them, and it was based on instinct. The alpacas were/are hunted by dogs and of course they are attacked on their long necks and heads. So any touch on their neck or head causes them to back away. 

I just love their mop tops. Wait a minute, doesn't she look a little like Tina Turner in the 80's? {hehe}

The kids were mostly okay. Lia, being the oldest, was a lot more calm then her cousin Jayden and Dom. When the boys were dukeing it out behind the fence, twisting their necks around each other and trying to show their dominance, Dominic was yelling "Fight, Fight, Fight" like he was in school cheering on a fight on the playground. I wonder where they learn this so young? He's 4 for crying out loud!

Dominic getting a little neck nuzzle from his new girlfriend. With Jayden doing the lean back. 

This isn't a great picture by any means, but I wanted to show it because it does show Dominic's "softer" side. He is very good with animals and I will find him snuggling with Smokey, our cat, every once in a while. What a sweet face. This alpaca doesn't seem to mind either. 

What was really funny, about the hour or so we were there, the kids were more excited about the cats that were hanging around the barn then the alpacas, really. We took about 50 photos with about half of the alpacas and the other half cats. We have a cat at home people! I guess they were cute though...

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Farmer's Market

In our hometown, like a lot of others, we have a farmer's market on Saturdays.  I take the kids as often as I can so they can see where our seasonal vegetables come from. I would love to have a garden and sell what we grow at the market someday.  Another item for my list

I thought it would be a great idea for Lia to practice taking pictures while we were here. I explained a few things like context and color and groupings. I'm not sure she was really listening..."okay, okay mom, just give me the camera." But I was pleasantly surprised by her photos. Not bad for an 8 year old.

This is the first of what I'm sure will be a bumper crop of large pumpkins. We are all planning our designs now for our annual Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest. My brother Doug is the one to beat.

Sweet Dumpling pumpkins in a basket.

We can never leave without buying a bouquet of sunflowers. Really, never. These will be growing in my garden next year, I am positive about that.

Dominic is "in love" with watermelon. When he loves something he always says he wants to "marry it". I can see his wedding pictures now {laughing}.

Those are the biggest hot peppers I've seen. I would love to make some salsa with those. 

If you are interested in having your kids try photography, I found a great blog that talks about Kids + Cameras from daisy yellow. She is really fantastic and I will be using a lot of her great ideas on here with my kids, so keep an eye out for these wonderful projects. 

Happy Labor Day!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bug Camo

I was out taking pictures of this great Elderberry plant, next to my house earlier this month.  And as I was getting a close-up, I noticed one of the little green pods moving.  Can you see him? {Far right, center}

I had to look again because it blended in so well.  My next 10 pictures were of this little green bug making his way across the flower. Hooray for digital!

And then! I was picking these yellow flowers on Sunday and my hand touched this yellow spider and freaked me out!

I thought it had bit me, but I wasn't sure because it was so small. So Dan took a picture and we looked it up online to see if it was poisonous. I really didn't think it was. I wasn't feeling woozy. Other than from embarrassment from screaming like a girl, hehe. Lucky me it was a common Crab Spider typically found on Goldenrod flowers. They do bite, but it's not poisonous, thank goodness.

But how cool to find these two little gems using their built in camouflage. Check out this site and see how other animals use their camouflage for

Monday, August 31, 2009

Falling Buckeyes

We have buckeye trees down by the creek and now is the time they start falling. The kids love to see who can get the biggest buckeye. My 4 year old isn't satisfied with the ones on the ground so he asks us to pull the branches down where he can reach the big ones still in the trees...Although the biggest pods don't necessarily hold the biggest buckeyes.

Some pods have doubles, triples and even quadruple buckeye offerings. It's like they are trying to increase their chances of reseeding knowing little hands are stealing them away.

They are actually very pretty, with their wood grain varying from honey brown to mahogany. The ones that aren't ripe yet are a pale yellow or even white, my daughter's favorite.