I thought I had mentioned on this blog, at least once, about my mother's beautiful quilts. Now I cannot seem to find a post to link to. Some day I will figure out how to really use the features on this blog! Until then, I will share with you my Mom's most recent quilt:
Here is a closer look at her details. She sews the pieces together on her sewing machine, but does all the quilting by hand.
Look at how perfect her stitching is?! Did I mention my Mom is 88?
Here are two more quilts she did a few years ago, which are also hanging in her living room.
The details. The background is a solid black, but I enhanced the photo so the stitching would show up, which altered the black a bit.
The close up of this one came out terrible, so I just have the full view.
When I was home visiting her last weekend, she showed me a new wall hanging she is making for her front door. It's about half the size of this last one and is a "welcome" quilt. I'll take pics of her progress when I am there again in a few weeks. I hope I can still remember what a needle is used for, let alone produce a quilt, when I am her age!
Do you know I have now been in business for myself for sixteen years? I just realized that at the start of this year. I don’t often give that much thought. The years just seem to fly by. Of course, business-wise, there are one or two years I’d rather forget! I did learn very early on, the importance of networking and having a good support system in place to brainstorm ideas, troubleshoot difficulties and share information. Over the years I have belonged to a wide variety of groups: women’s business groups, Chamber of Commerce, decorative painters groups, networking groups, design groups, artists groups, etc.
I have also been part of an online Stencilers Group for probably a good ten years now. This group formed as a subgroup of a much larger online group when several of us became disenchanted with the politics of the larger group. This Stencilers Group has about twenty active members now, from all over the country. The group has evolved from avid, professional stencilers (back in the day), to a group of women who share what’s going on more in our personal lives than our work lives. I’ve met some of the members at conventions and other’s I have never met. Whether we have met or not, this wonderful group has stayed so connected throughout the years that we all know each other very well. Some members have retired, others have moved on to other types of work. Although the focus has shifted to our personal lives more than our working lives, this group remains a great resource when I’m seeking input about a work project or situation.
Now, with the presence of Facebook, I have another network of decorative painters I am “friends” with, although not friends like my Stencilers Group. This Facebook network of like minded business friends, provides me with feedback when needed, but mostly they inspire me with postings of their recent works and enlighten me with news about products, workshops and resources.
On a local level, I am a half-hearted member of a Design Salon group, which I vow to be more active with this year, and a founding member of a small group of decorative painters who try to meet every few months to share new techniques and information.
I’ve been thinking a lot about all of these groups lately because when you do not get up and go into an office each day for work, you really do need to cultivate a work family. And, unlike going into an office environment each day and interacting with the same group of people, when you work from your home, you have the advantage of choosing which members will belong to your work family. Recently, my good friend and fellow decorative painter, Chris Smith, lost her husband very unexpectedly. I reached out to our local group of decorative painters to inform them of this tragic loss and they all responded with such kind words and support for Chris. At the wake and funeral both, I saw several past and present decorative painters and designers, all who have worked with Chris over the years, there to offer support and comfort. When I read Chris’s facebook page, I saw post after post from all her fb “friends”, the same decorative painters we both interact with from all over the country, expressing their kind words of sympathy and collectively, as an extended work family, giving her a virtual hug. I’ve always known the importance of having a work family, but recently saw first hand, just how valuable this family truly can be.
Last week I had to say good by to my kitty of 18 + years, Tommi. She is the cat on the right (who's head is cut off in this pic!) Her brother, Peanut (left) died in March of '09. It is always sad to have to bring your pet in to be euthanized. I had hoped she would just die peacefully in her sleep. Unfortunately she took a turn for the worse last Monday and I could not watch her suffer. It's so strange to wake up and not have her at my bedroom door or to come home and not see her waiting for me to come in. I can't even remember not having a cat to come home to. I got these two cats when Sarah was young, about 7. I have to say, when Tommi was lying on the vet's table, she reminded me of child's well loved, stuffed animal. Her fur was matted and worn and she was thin, like a teddy bear who has lost some of it's stuffing. Indeed, this was one very loved cat.
I am always several years behind in technology when it comes to my cell phone. I have enjoyed a bare bones, very basic mobile phone lifestyle for several years now. I typically acquire a cell phone when my daughter upgrades hers and I take the cast off. The one I had been using, up until yesterday, was one Sarah had when she was in college... so maybe 5 or 6 years ago?
It has served me well. As you can see, it still sports an antenna, which was starting to be a source of embarrassment, even to me.
It has no camera and although I do think it was capable of some sort of internet connection, I never had that service plan or desire to use such a feature.
It was sturdy. I dropped it many, many times.
It didn't seem to mind a little paint and cleaned up fairly well, when I did clean it, that is.
I probably would have endured the strange looks I received whenever I pulled out this dinosaur of a phone, a little bit longer, but the battery was no longer holding a charge for very long and the reception was very crackly. Also, it was a bit time consuming to try to text.
My fear of adjusting to a new cell phone, trying to understand what features I really need and will use, and my desire to keep the monthly cost close to what I currently pay, all had me quite stressed about phone shopping. I did a little research online. Then, armed with my cell phone technology savvy daughter, I headed off to The Mall.
We narrowed it down to a Droid phone with Verizon or an iPhone with AT&T. It was a tough choice, but in the end I went with the iPhone because I feel most comfortable with Apple products. I've always been a Mac girl. As a matter of fact, I was in the Apple Store on this very same visit because I spilled a little coffee on my laptop over the weekend and my track pad was no longer functioning. A few minutes at the Genius Bar and it was up and running like nothing had happened. (Luckily, it was a little spill, not my entire cup!) The Droid phones were so foreign to me. I felt it would take me months to be able to figure it all out, and quite frankly, I just don't have the desire to spend that kind of quality time with a cell phone. When I saw the same familiar icons on the iPhone that are on my laptop, I felt at home. There's never any hard sell at the Apple Store. They thoroughly explain everything and give you the honest pros and cons.
Here I am with my new iPhone. I did not get the latest iPhone 4. That would be too radical for me (and way over my cell phone budget)! I got the 3GS. I need to ease into this. The 3 GS has more than enough bells and whistles for me. Besides the obvious learning curve to learn how to use all the features, I am nervous about the fact the screen is glass. I may have to rethink taking it up on the ladder/scaffolding with me. I already dropped it once, just in my house! I bought the screen protector and will get a hard case, but that glass is still exposed. Maybe I can learn to be a little more careful with this cell phone. Btw, I took this photo to the left with the camera on my laptop. See? There's hope for me yet with some of this technology! In the meantime, for those of you who do regularly call me on my cell, please be patient. If I don't respond within a day or so, best to call my land line or email until I have this figured out. :-)
A big thanks to Sarah for all her patience. It was a comfort to have someone along who could speak the language! I only saw her roll her eyes a few times during this phone shopping experience.
Before I begin my post about the completion of the Jungle Mural, I must tell you how proud I am of my daughter and her friend, Tanya for taking on the challenge of the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk held this past Fri-Sunday, here in Boston. They walked twenty miles each day, beginning their walk very early Friday morning in the pouring... and I mean pouring, rain! I met up with them on Saturday and Sunday to take a few photos and cheer them on. Over 1500 walkers participated in this event, each of them raising a minimum of $2300. Both Sarah and Tanya surpassed their $2300 goal, calling on friends, family, and co-workers to support the cause. Great job girls!!! (Tanya on left, Sarah on right) Love their temp tattoos!
The Jungle Mural is now done. Here you can see the full view, give or take a few inches. Now the problem with thinking I am truly finished with this mural will be left to see if I can actually stay out of this room while I proceed onto the next 3 projects in this same house! I already overstayed my welcome in this room by 1 day, fussing around.
I did have this ugly butterfly in the mural. As soon as I did it, I hated it. I tried to adjust it, but it just got worse, as you can see. So, I painted it out..
...and replaced it with these two, softer, prettier butterflies.
These photos show you a closer look at some of the elements in the mural:
Now I am moving on to what I call the Stenciled Collage Room. :-)
I had to say good bye to Peanut, a cat I have had for almost 17 years. He had been failing in health the past year, going from a robust 22 lbs. down to a skeletal 10 lbs. With a host of health issues, I knew his time here was limited. I was hoping he would just die in his sleep at home, but by Friday evening I could see he was struggling to breathe and that I would have to bring him in to the vets to be euthanized. Peanut, even during his best years, was absolutely petrified of the vets. I felt the short trip in would probably kill him... and it did. He was so traumatized and his heart so weak that he died within one minute of being put on the vets table. :-( He had a long, full life and I am grateful for all the years we had with him.
Oooh... it was VERY nice to spend a 3 day weekend visiting with my Mom, out in the Berkshires where I grew up. I go here about 1 wkend each month, but usually it is rushed, with me driving out on a Saturday and returning on Sunday. Every once in a while, I can take a few extra days off, spend more time with my Mom and enjoy the area. Last week, my best friend, who was my next door neighbor growing up, contacted me through my website. My friend moved away when when we were in 5th grade, but we were inseparable until then! She moved to northern VT w/her family and we lost contact. What a nice surprise to now hear from her. She is currently residing in Boise, Idaho. My family has only found memories of this family and everyone was eager to hear about them. One of my 2 brothers was also home visiting for Easter weekend, so we got to reminiscing about what an idyllic childhood we really had. We roamed our neighborhood freely; our parents never worried about our safety. No one locked their doors, day or night. When we wanted to play baseball, we just rounded up our friends in the neighborhood and set up our bases in someone's backyard. We did not have organized teams/leagues/uniforms, umps, etc. We played until our mother's called to us for dinner... and I don't mean on our cell phones! Our Mom's just opened the back door and yelled out. My friend's Mom had a big bell attached to the side of the house that she would ring to summon her kids home. When I was growing up, we had a huge field behind our house with cows grazing. We tested the electric barbed wire fence with a blade of grass to see if it was on or off. We patted the cows, tormented the bulls, and rode on the top of the hay bails when they were being picked up and put in the truck during bailing season. Now there is a road in my field and a housing development. Gone are the cows. Everyone locks their doors, day and night. While the simplicity and innocence of that time is gone, the area still remains quite beautiful, nestled at the foot of Mt. Greylock. The town is quiet and far removed from the hustle and bustle of Boston. It's always a nice respite for me and I inevitably return relaxed, rejuvenated and grateful that I have this peaceful home away from home with which to escape.
I will be leaving early this Friday morning to spend Easter weekend out in the Berkshires with my family. For those of you who celebrate Easter, have a Happy Easter!
Monday I will be back at the Big House Job finishing up the last of this first round of rooms. Wednesday, I will be returning to the house where I recently did the Tuscan finish w/grapes in their kitchen. I will be using some Modellos on their dining room and music room ceilings and will post some pics from that. Wait until you see the beautiful shade of blue the homeowners have painted the walls in each of these rooms! I'll have to get the name and # of this color, because it is just a beautiful shade of blue.
My family is arriving later today and I am busy prepping for my annual Christmas Eve dinner. I'll be back a day or two after Christmas to post a few pics from the dining room I did last Friday and to talk about some upcoming projects.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a few days to relax!