Saturday, May 19, 2018

A very full holiday season…

All the wayyyyy back in November, I wrote a post (in my head) about all my preparations for Thanksgiving…. now that the train has traveled all the way down the tracks to May, I think it is high time I posted something here.  In the interest of wanting this to sort of be as much of a journal as a blog, I am going to fill in with some posts about what has gone on since.

Chair BottomNovember started out with me trying a new project.  I am not much of a decorator, but I love TRYING to do things myself.  I have a set of antique cherry Chippendale dining room chairs that were given to me, along with a dining table, when we moved into our current house thirteen years ago.  The fabric on them, while a lovely color and not terribly worn, was stained in several places where I could not get20171116_101100 the stains out.  They were desperately in need of new fabric. I knew this would require disassembling the chair bottoms and completely redoing even the spring coils on the underside of the chairs, as they had slid out of place.  In case you’ve never seen this, the above pic is what it looks like underneath a spring coiled dining room chair seat.

All of the fabric underneath the springs had dry-rotted, so it was no longer supporting the weight of a person, and badly needed to be replaced.  This required removing the old – which had been tightly stapled together and then nailed to the chairs with about 40 gazillion nails – and adding the new.  Removing the old was quite the task, and adding the new took nearly every bit of strength this old woman had.  After crawling around on the floor, pulling, then stapling, then pulling, then stapling, and repeating that until all strips were tightly 20171116_101044criss-crossed underneath and the springs firmly in place, it was time to put the padding over the top and to staple the fabric on. 

I purchased a lovely damask fabric in golds and greens which I had kept for about 6 months with no “round tuits.” After cutting the fabric to fit the chair, I took staple gun in hand and went at it with just about all the strength I could muster.  Once I had the fabric securely on, I then stapled a layer of dark cover fabric on the underside to cover the unfinished places.  Lastly, I glued on the trim.  And the above photo is the result.

I absolutely love the fabric on these chairs;
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I really enjoyed doing this myself, but I have to admit that I really overdid it trying to get this done in two days and injured my back in the process. They were, however, all ready for Thanksgiving which I held at my home for both sides of the family, including my brother- and sister-in-law and their family.



Of course, I got busy and forgot to get photos once the guests arrived.  But, at least I remember how I decorated the tables.  I was lucky enough to find these lovely cloth napkins in fall colors from Christmas Tree Shoppes four for $2!  What a steal.  The tablecloth was $3.  So, for under $10 I had cloth napkins for everyone. Not only did I feel like my house looked so lovely, but the fellowship was just wonderful…  so much so that I am still looking back fondly on the day and being thankful! 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

My latest commissioned works

These are a few of my most recent commissioned pieces.

Antebellum Historical Home

This is a historical home in a rural area not too far from our city.  It is an antebellum home that I was asked to draw as a gift for the owner by his daughter.  I absolutely love the architecture and character of this home, with the gingerbread detailing around the porch and long windows across the front. I love doing historical homes, especially ones that I know have been around hundreds of years.

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And here it is (below) hung in the home of the happy new owner. 


Lovely Brick Architecture

This was a commission as a gift for my client’s parents.  I love the architecture of this home.  Drawing all those bricks can be a little tedious, but I really do enjoy it.  I know that it would drive some artists crazy, but it’s the architectural details that I just love about these pieces.



For One of My Bridesmaids

One of my sweet friends from college, who was a bridesmaid in our wedding 30 years ago, wanted to surprise her husband with a drawing of the house they have lived and raised their three girls in for close to 20 years.  What a joy to do that for her.



It’s such a privilege to get to be a part of these types of gift giving and surprises in honor of special events in people’s lives.  I am so thankful the Lord has allowed me to do something I love doing so much.. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ireland: Carrickfergus Castle and All the Schools!

So it’s been a while, but I wanted to continue sharing this wonderful trip that I took with my daughter… so many happy experiences to look back on for us. 

If you want to see all Ireland posts or start at the beginning, click the image:

One interesting part of our trip was that while the moms stayed together in one house, the girls stayed in several groups in different homes, and most days two or three of them performed at one venue, while at the same time two or three performed at others.  This meant, we (moms) were not able to see all of the performances (yes, I wanted to split myself in two, so I could be everywhere at once!). 

All the Schools

We did, however, get a good taste for what the school system in Northern Ireland is like, as we visited 10 different schools during our two and a half week trip.  The schools are small and so lovely with what seemed like such loving staff at each one. We were able to take tea and visit a bit with staff at each school we went to.



I loved the bits of artwork on the grounds of the little day school above for playing games.  Such fun and creativity!


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We loved getting to see our girls interact with the students and staff in each school, and of course the artist in me was taken with all the children’s artwork we saw at each place! Since ballet is not a “thing” there, the children were always fascinated by the dancing.  In every place we went the children were very well-behaved and attentive.



The photo above shows the girls relaxing before a performance at a Catholic school, which (since we were a group of Protestants) we were thrilled to be asked into.  It was an amazing thing to witness, in this Northern Ireland town very close to the border and in which “The Troubles” (if you are not familiar with what that is you can read more by clicking here) had caused such turmoil for so long. 


What a blessing that in nearly every school our girls were allowed to work with the children to teach them some of the ballet basics. It was a wonderful experience for them because they were allowed to communicate their testimonies and to take different leadership roles in the various ministry opportunities they had.

They were in different schools each weekday morning of our trip, and immediately afterward we were all whisked away in our minibus to view different historical and cultural locations throughout Northern Ireland.  I must say, there were some incredible sights to see!!

Carrickfergus Castle

On our second day in Northern Ireland, after the girls had performed in the schools, we were taken to an amazingly intact ancient medieval castle, Carrickfergus. You can see the beautiful exterior in the photo below.

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Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman Irish castle which sits on the north shore of Belfast Lough in County Antrim.  It is an ancient, enduring fortress, giving credence to its name Fergus, which means “strong man.”






There is a lovely view of the town (note steeple and rooftops above) and an amazing view of Belfast Lough (below) from over the sides of the top of the castle, and it’s clear why this would have been a prime location for a fortress where they could see and disarm any enemy ships coming into the harbor.


And lest you think shamrocks are not really all over Ireland, you can see below that they even grow in the cracks of ancient castle walls!!


From the immages below, you can see how the castle developed through the years,, with the inner “Keep” built first and then the battlements and fortress built around it later.

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This (below) was the lowest level of the castle where foods were kept cold and things necessary for the running of the castle were stored. 


The second level of the Keep (below) was where the kitchen servants worked and dined.


On the next level you would find the banquet hall, with beautiful tapestries and plenty of room for the castle’s inhabitants to take meals together.

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Apparently, salt was a prized possession in medieval times, as this golden bowl, called the Nef, was set on the center of the table and filled with salt as a demonstration of wealth.


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The top level of the Keep was my very favorite… exactly what you would imagine a medieval castle to be like.

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The room, as shown in the photo below, was massive.  The windows let in some light, but it was still very dark even in the middle of the day. Thank goodness for flash cameras and Photoshop!

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Life-size Snakes & Ladders game… a beautifully woven rug!


And life-size CHESS BOARD… the king came up about mid-thigh on me.


And below is the chainmail worn under a suit of armor, both the head and the garment.  There were also chainmail gloves to be worn under the gauntlets.


Here is the view from the top…


I learned so much on our visit and had to pinch myself that I was standing amidst history nearly a thousand years old.  It was just amazing! I hope you have enjoyed the tour and my trip down memory lane.