Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Resolutions and 2011 Highlights!

My New Year's Resolutions:

1. Schedule my day like an office workday. From 9-5 Mon -Fri no FB or personal phone calls/texts (outside of lunch, like a real workplace). Just concentrate on drawing/painting/the shop and treat it like the work it has happily become.

2. Back to the budget. When I worked at the bank I stuck to a budget pretty easily because it was my job and my job did not pay well. Last month Ryan and I decided to start saving for a house like the big kids do, and we worked out a simple budget. Being a dork I cannot WAIT to start calculating progress. A lot of folks hate budgeting, but it's like working out: People resist until they see the results, and then they're all about it.

3. Nurture my inner little old lady. Tea. Biscuits. Frocks. Solving mysteries. I love these things now, and I'm not going to wait any longer to make them a part of my daily routine. Life is too short, and I'm going to do things like "Put on lipstick to improve a bad mood" and "Keep emergency candy in purse" now, while I am around to enjoy them.

I am going to solve so many mysteries in 2012.

4. Less Jeans. Every time a lady friend says to me, "I feel so fat/frumpy/bloated" they're usually saying it from inside a pair of jeans. The feminist in me says there's nothing wrong with wearing trousers. However, as I get older the realist in me tells her to cool it, and wonders why we think we're going to feel sexy dressed like 19th century gold miners.

No, for real.

I can never find a pair that fit right. Do you know how many hours of my life have been spent screaming in a dressing room? They're always crazy long or way too tight. If I find a pair that aren't too tight, they're shaped like a box. I actually love my body shape, and dresses and skirts were made to flatter our wide hips and tapered legs, not punish them. That's one gender role where we won, a dress is WAY easier than pants with their zippers and buckles and seams that ride high and hard! Heck, most dresses are just tee shirts with a belt. And yet here I am, day after day, in jeans. I am tired of having the silhouette of a gingerbread man. No more.

Here are some highlights from 2011!

Ryan and I got married!

Preston and Kaela got married!

Christine and Will had this
wonderful little lady, Lila!
Tim and Sara got engaged!
Puck came to live with us!
After several months of landing 2-4th place,
we won first place at Trivia!
I started my own small business!

Happy New Year everyone! May 2012 treat you well!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gnome Paper doll sketches

Here are some of the pencil/penned sketches of my Gnome paper dolls.

The whole Gnome family

Mama and Papa Gnome

Gnomes are supposed to have one set of twins as offspring.
These two should look a lot better with paint, they're a little flat at the moment.

He has one slightly wonky eye that I'm kinda in love with.
(I love wonky/lazy/weird eyes on old people if you couldn't tell from
Grandma Hawker in Swan Eaters).

A draft of their 'every day' clothing set.

This is the first sketch I did, it got scrapped and I did the sketches above
instead. There's nothing really wrong with it, except that I hate it.

As you can seen my original sketch was kinda dull and lifeless, and their limbs were entirely too stocky. I'm a huge fan of the Wil Huygen/Rien Poortvliet gnomes, (I assume everyone who loves gnomes is) and I like the look of their design of spindly limbs for quick, light movement. The heavy limbs in the first drawing made them appear more like dwarves. I'm a lot happier with the second attempt.

My biggest design challenge on these was Papa's beard. I love a Gnome with a long, fuzzy, crazy beard (DON'T WE ALL, LADIES?) however, if he had a very long beard changing his shirts/coats/tops would pose a problem. If I left a blank V space for the beard the tops would slide off too easily. And if I painted the beard into the fashions, it would leave a line across it where the clothing layer began and the doll ended. Mama's hair will be this way, but the lines will be much thinner and not, oh I don't know, in the middle of her face.

And so I opted to give Papa short, full whiskers. I think this will make him easier to play with.

I can't wait to create their clothes. I'm going to try and stick to a traditional Scandinavian folk feel. Lots of little embroidered flowers and embellishments, wool looking fabrics, warm layers. And I may create a few pointed hats for special occasions, like parties, harvest celebrations, weddings, etc.

Let me know what you think!

Noah's Ark Sketch is ready for paint!

I realized I haven't shared the completed Noah's Ark sketch yet, so here it is!

Noah's Ark, completed sketch.

A yawning alligator beside a rhino and a rat.

I've never drawn a sloth before, I really loved sketching
this mellow little guy. He seems cool.

A hen and two pigs in a porthole.

A narwhal greets a pangolin over two otters.

I will still have to explain why narwhals keep popping up, I will soon! In the meantime, I hope the work on this over the course of the week. I'll share my progress.

The harmony of the season! Diet coke and ham!

We've spent the last few days relaxing after Christmas, and it's been really nice. Ryan has this week off, so we've just been taking it easy. Enjoying new books and toys, living off leftovers and diet pop. It's the peace and harmony of the season, plus green bean casserole. Having Ryan home is really the best part of the holiday for me, even if he won't quit directing his new remote control helicopter to hover over my shoulder and follow me around the apartment.

Christmas morning was lovely, we couldn't have asked for a nicer newlywed yuletide. Many thanks to our wonderful family and friends, and for each other.

Christmas Eve, the stockings were laid on the coffee table with care....

...In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.


Pretty packages!

Christmas morning picture in pjs.

Ryan was so excited to finally get this poster.
(He put it on our wedding registry earlier this year).

When Ryan and I were first dating, we were often on the phone or instant messenger until 3 or 4 in the morning. One night as we were saying goodbye late once again, Ryan apologized for keeping me up and I told him, "Don't be silly. There's a Dr. Seuss quote about this kind of thing, when you find someone you're really crazy about you don't sleep anyway." Ryan said that sounded right, and googled it, and came back with the exact quote. The quote itself blamed being in love, which at the time, neither of us had admitted to yet, but we both agreed after reading it verbatim that it was perfect. And that's how we told each other we were in love, even though we waited to actually say the words until a few weeks later when we were together in one spot again. So knowing that story, you'll understand why I was so thrilled that Ryan had this sign made in Oregon for me this Christmas.

Our favorite Dr. Seuss quote.

Ryan modeling the chamois Mom got him....

And the Cthulhu Christmas sweater our friend Stephen got him!


That's Uncle Deadly! (Outside our fairy door).
He's a Muppet.
Puck's first Christmas!

Elvis lounging Christmas night.

We got the cats a skunk and a bird toy that make chirping sounds.
They were a big hit!

Here's looking at you, Skunk!

My new Animal Muppet figurine visits the Nativity.

I'll explain the story behind that Narwhal soon. My Facebook and Twitter pals know what's behind that, but I haven't mentioned it on the blog yet. It's worth its own post.

Uncle Deadly and his ghost friends join the Wise Men!
I've got to get back to my plate (that pile of ham isn't going to eat itself!) However, in the downtime of holiday relaxation I have been sketching some Gnome paper dolls and I hope to share them shortly. I plan on painting the Noah's Ark sketch as well sometime this week!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Twelve: Merry Christmas!

Christmas morning has arrived, and hopefully Santa has been good to you!

Whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus, good will toward man, or merely the peace and love of the season, I hope you have a wonderful day today. The feeling of Christmas, that magic that you can go to bed and wake up with a new day of wonders to discover, is a beautiful thing. In many ways it's a celebration of the potential of each day to be the greatest yet and the potential of us to be our greatest selves. The shepherds in the fields, Ebenezer Scrooge, and George Bailey all found in Christmas day a certain peace, a redemption, and an appreciation for the life around us. As a Christian, I am delighted today that Christ was born, and as a human I am delighted that you were born, that I was born, and I hope we can be friends and be kind to each other always.

Merry Christmas!

Myself and Santa, 1986

Ryan and I, Christmas 2010

Elvis enjoying a climb on presents, 2010

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Eleven: Advent Calendars!

I know in my heart I am not going to want to blog on Christmas Eve and Christmas, and so I'm going to write days eleven and twelve today, on day ten, and post them later! Let's all keep my terrible secret!

Today is the Eleventh day of Christmas! (wink) And since we're so close to the big day, I'm going to devote this post to advent calendars.

Advent calendars are a fun way to count down the days until Christmas. Typically 24 little doors, pouches, drawers, or pockets are assembled each with a surprise inside. For myself, I love the advent calendars with little pictures behind doors. I don't like the ones with chocolates. The chocolate is never very good, and I always have the sinking suspicion the store just kept setting it out year after year and now it's a few Christmases old. And so each year I've had the chocolate calendars, every day the surprise has been "disappointment".

With my birthday so close to December, my Mom and I have a tradition where she gives me an advent calendar with my presents. This year she gave Ryan and I each one. We've been enjoying 'Bible phrases' and 'Woodland creatures' the past 23 days, with no hope of the two complimenting each other anytime soon.

Me: "Mine is: 'And there were...shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8'."
Ryan: "Mine is a squirrel ice skating."

I love Mom's and mine tradition, but I often find myself pouring over the Do-It-Yourself advent calendars, dreaming of the day when I have my own little ones and I can teach them that the worst advent calendars are the chocolate ones. Inevitably I decide, what the heck, I can do this! And so every year I tell myself this is it: The year I will finally make my own advent calendar!

This was not the year.

However, if I was going to make an advent calendar, I think I would make the one I found this year over at MSQ's Frugal Living. I like it because each pocket contains a fun activity to try. Instead of little presents, the idea is to create Christmas memories, such as "make a Christmas treat for a friend" or "build a snowman."

It also looks very easy to make and low stress.

A sharpie is involved, already a DIY I can handle.

I love the look of these tags.

I'm a real sucker for a brown paper and twine look.

Click HERE to check out the tutorial and make your own!

Another lovely DIY advent calendar can be found over at Design Sponge.

I got as far as "How would I hang it on the wall...?"

It's absolutely beautiful, but like a lot of the Design Sponge projects (no offense to them) just looking at it makes me want to take a break. Design Sponge has so many gorgeous ideas, but the steps usually involve the kind of attention to detail Joan Collins would demand of her craft projects.

Who has the time to make that many stars?

Is that a sewing machine?

Oh, no way---

Look at how tight those corners have to be on the needle!
I might as well just drive myself to the hospital for stitches right now.

Whether they be doors, pockets, pouches, or perfect paper stars, check them twice today! There's only one more sleep till Christmas! (wink)