Thursday, April 11, 2019

Did I Mention Art...and Things?

It's funny how you see something creative and think, "Hell I can do that. It's easy."

Famous last words. Sometimes, not only is it not as easy as it appears, expenses can mount up without warning. And once you are addicted to that creative path, you keep wanting to try something new, and that is a dark rabbit hole you don't want to fall into.

About a month ago, I discovered acrylic pour painting. Omg, it so fun to get messy and still create pretty things.

Pour painting is pretty much just that. You pour paint onto a canvas. But you can't necessarly stop there. First, you have to have the right ingredients. Kinda like a cake, if you don't follow the recipe, your cake either won't turn out, or won't taste quite like it should, if the texture allows you to eat it. For pour painting, you need to add a flow medium to help the paint move across the canvas, and maybe a bit of distilled water (if you have hard water,) and the magic ingredient that makes the cells appear in your painting...liquid silicone. I use silicone oil I got at Lowe's but there are other silicones out there that will work. Some artists have even used RainX.

I'm not going to sit here and try to explain anything beyond what I already have. Below I've posted a good video from YouTube for beginners, but remember, not everything is written in stone. Note the individual in the video suggested yogurt cups cause they are wide. You can use squat plastic cups and some people use a baking rack, or you might have another idea. Basically it's to keep your canvas from sitting in the paint that runs off the side of your canvas.

Paints, I use the Apple Barrel from Walmart, but keep in mind, sometimes the white will crack as it dries if it's too thick. There are lots of paints to choose from, but make sure it's acrylic. I mentioned using a flow medium to help the paint move, and she uses watered down Elmers glue. I haven't tried that but I have heard not to use the school glue, use the Elmers All Purpose. Or go to Lowe's or any home improvement or paint center and get Floetrol. I'm picking up a gallon of it today or tomorrow.

Here's the video and if you have questions, you can email me, or find me on FB at Dona Fitzgerald Fellows or you can ask your questions in comments. There are also several FB groups for pour painting.

I am enjoying this so much. I'm balancing the painting with the junk journals I showed you in the last post. Since I showed you a journal, it's only fair I show you some of my art work. Please keep in mind I've just started.

The first one is a 12" by 14" stretched canvas.  The smaller one is a 4" ceramic tile. I don't have one of my pictures because it was one of my first pours and I wasn't that happy with it, but it was done on heavy duty watercolor paper and I am encorporating it into one of my journals. I think it's gonna be the cover. 

And of course, gardening season is upon us. My son went out last night and mowed everything and today he's trimming. After this spate of bad weather we have coming in, Steve and I will go set out the straw bales for this years garden. I also have some containers I'm going to plant, a couple of them with milkweed for the Monarchs. I hope they like them.

Ta Ta from the IrishCrazyLady

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Arts and Crafts and things, Oh My!

So, the girls in my family have always been crafty. I was probably 18 or 19 when I stepped into my first craft shop, and I was hooked. Mostly I did decoupage, but soon I expanded to needle work, and sewing and there was that one instance when I knocked the ends off a tomato box and built my mom a shelf for Christmas. Looking back, I'm  pretty sure it didn't hold much.

Not having to work allowed me more time to spend with my baby sister. She is officially a craft-a-holic. She introduced me to Altered Books. For the life of me I couldn't understand why someone would want to alter a perfectly good book by tearing pages out and pasting stuff in there. But, little  by little, I was hooked, once again.

Kelly and I would watch videos every morning while we had coffee. So I thought, okay, I might try this. I had tried painting but between not having a consistent place to work, and a bad case of the trembles, I let that go by the wayside and paid more attention to this altered book stuff. The one that set that aforementioned hook had a huge tree on the front, done in Steam Punk style. Unfortunately I could only find it in video format. But it's worth the watch.

And please, check out his other work on his YouTube channel. 

So, altered books turned into Junk Journals. Talk about creative license. And then we found a Junk Journal Challenge and it was game on! We had a month to create and finish a journal using nothing but what we had in our stash. That limited me somewhat because I hadn't been involved long enough to make a stash but I had started picking up things here and there. And, Kelly had been putting aside some stuff for me. There were three mini challenges relating to the junk journal through the month, but I finished. Still have a few empty pages in the back but I'm told I met the initial requirements, so I'm good. 

This is not only my first Junk Journal, it's my first video. Note to self, next time dress prior to doing the video. Steve was my camera man. 

Now, we have an April challenge which we are also working on, as well as an Altered Book I'm working on for a Christmas gift. 

A Junk Journal is built from scratch right down to the cover. Paper is folded and sewn into the spine. 
An Altered Book already has a cover and pages, but the crafter decorates it with bits and pieces of...well...junk. 

Enter Pour Painting. Yes, pour painting. Lots of different techniques with some amazing outcomes. I've done about 5. Three will probably be repoured because they are horrid first attempts. I have two I'll probably keep. I fought my way back into my sunny corner, have a table and chairs and still trying to arrange it so I have plenty of room. I have a drying rack for the paintings coming in this week. 

These are the two I'm far. Though I did notice some cracking in the paint on the ceramic tile. I may have to get a different kind of white paint. 

I work on my Junk Journals and Altered Books in the living room on the coffee table. I have a nice set up in  there though I could use more light.

May not sound like a lot, but it keeps me more active than I have been, and I'm excited. I can spend hours sitting in the living room crafting tags and pockets and what not for a Junk Journal. I spend less time pouring because I don't yet have a good space to store my paintings while they dry.That will change shortly. I think I've found peace. 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Catching Up

Wow, the last eighteen months has been...interesting as well as challenging.

In May of 2018, I was diagnosed with Stage 0 Breast Cancer. Two surgeries later, the cancer was gone. However, that is not the end of the story. I was late getting into the next part of the experience. I had to have radiation. Intially that was a grueling experience. There was no fear involved except for the pain I discovered I'd have to contend with during each treatment. The treatment itself was a piece of cake...the left shoulder loss of range of motion was not. In order to receive the radiation in the correct spot, my left arm had to be over my head at a convoluted angle. When I went in for the initial set up, they started by having me lay on  my tummy, arm up. I came off the table in tears, I couldn't breathe, and they moved to the next option; on my back, shoulders slightly elevated to facilitate better breathing, and my left arm up in a convoluted angle. We immediately decided I would take a pain pill an hour before each session. Those pain pills got me through the next 6 weeks, 5 days a week.

In the course of receiving radiation, I began to sun burn, then we went way past sunburn to excruciating pain, burning, and don't touch me. Normally breast radiation is done with boobs in the buff. I was their first guinea pig for a plastic bra to be worn during treatment to put that part of my anatomy in the correct position. Have you ever tried to wear plastic over a sunburn...with velcro fasteners? They provided me with a product called Aquafir to put on after every treatment and before bed, but I couldn't have it on during treatment. So morning showers. I think that is why I now have to force my self to get into a shower. When it became obvious the Aquafir was not going to work, they switched to Silvadene and added a petroleum gauze patch to cover the Silvadene to prevent bacterial infection as the the peeling continued. As the peeling stage began to ebb, they let me switch to Deluvian Miracle Aloe Cream. Trust me, it got used frequently.

Today, five months after I started radiation treatments, I still experience heat, occasional pain, radiation induced ridge of scar tissue under the skin and I still go through jars and jars of aloe.

Now, I may have provided way too much information for some folks, and if so, I apologize. Some how saying "I had Breast Cancer and now it's gone." wasn't enough. It's not that easy and it's not that painless. Ladies and gents, yes men get breast cancer as well, I can't stress enough that everyone should do self exams, and get mamograms as recommended by your physician. I got lucky (if you can call it that) and it was discovered early. My oncologist started me out on medication I was to take for the next 5 years at least. Due to the side effects, it lasted a month. And she was okay with that because with Stage 0 DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ), she wasn't concerned.  But I see her, and my radiation oncologist every 3 months, and submit to a mamogram every 6 months. If there are no reoccurences within 2 years, then I can say, I had Breast Cancer, but it's gone now. Will it come back? It could. I have a family history of cancer on  my mother's side. So, anything can happen. And now that I've had it once, both my oncology hematologist and my family practitioner are pushing me for several more test. They scare me. Having Breast Cancer did not scare me. I'm told I was probably the most upbeat patient they've ever had to work with. It's all about attitude and that you can choose.

So, in order to keep this blog isolated to my experience with Cancer, I'm ending it here. I'll be doing another one later today bringing you up to speed on all the new and exciting things I'm getting involved with. So, tata for now.

Stay Positive every day!

Beaver, Animal, Friendly, Waving, Hello

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My Lucky Day

First let me ask everyone to continue praying for the folks in Texas and Louisiana who are dealing with history making flooding.

I do not consider myself unfortunate. As I watch the news coverage of the horrors taking place in south Texas, I consider myself beyond fortunate. In hindsight, the day I was displaced was my lucky day. Though I know I didn't think so at the time. I do know as soon as I was out the door and headed to my car, my thoughts were running a marathon. To know severance was involved helped tremdously to calm my anxiety. 

While jumping through the hoops, there was stress, but nothing like I left on the other side of the doors as I left. I am so much calmer, I'm sleeping better, and while I may not be doing a lot day to day, I'm enjoying myself. I didn't have time to do that before. Always trying to stay a step ahead and wondering if I'd messed something up I didn't know about. Was I paranoid? To a degree, yes. I had a lot to lose if I got fired. But being displaced, while numbing, it was definately the better of the two storms. I'd almost describe this as the perfect storm. 

To all of you who exited by the same door, under the same cloud, you too are lucky. You've been given the opportunity to spend more time with family, move to new locations, pin down better positions with  more caring companies (for the most part.) Revel in the new experiences and the new you. Oh yes, the new you. The one who can think more clearly and more confidently make decisions affecting your life. We are the lucky ones. Our new journey has just begun and I for one plan on enjoying every minute of it. 

Now I'm Living the Dream!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life is Settling...

Life seems to be settling. I've been taking care of things I was unable to while I worked. Slowly building a routine.

One of my biggest challenges has always been to quit smoking. This morning, I started on Chantix. I've warned both the men in my life, Steve and my son to beware. I've heard so many things and I just don't want anyone blindsided. Wish me luck.

Got my eyes checked yesterday for new glasses. It appears both of the last two pair purchased were not done correctly. I've also got to watch my sugar more closely because it does affect my vision. I'll pick my new glasses up tomorrow morning. Steve picked them out. Lol, they are purple frames and I love how they fit. I just hope I can see better.

Now that the weather has cooled from those horrible 90 degree 100% humidity days, I've been able to get into the garden in the morning. For those who don't know, I garden in straw bales, and a couple of containers. At the beginning of last year, we threw a left over straw bale into a galvanized horse tank, conditioned and threw a few spuds in there to see what would happen. We harvested a few and thought we'd gotten all of them out. Of course you never get them all it seems like. They keep putting on.

Anyway, at the end of last year, we tossed in the used bales I'd gardened in, and sprinkled some nitrogen on top, watered it in, and planted potatoes. I've started harvesting. The vines are either dying back...or something is lunching on them. Dug up some huge red potatoes and a few smaller white skinned. But putting my hands and arms down into that now rich compost up to my elbows was heavenly. At the end of this year, I'll add more broken down composted bales, but this will probably be the last year I can add to the tank. Next year we'll move at least half the compost to the compost pit and let it build up again.

Harvested enough green beans to freeze for a stew, and one really nice cucumber I think is going to be lunch today.

Third project I'm working on, with the help of my son is my MeSpace. I'm carving out a corner of our workroom so I can set up there to write uninterupted and paint without having to put everything away at the end of the day. Great big windows on two sides and the table nestled in the corner. Can't wait until it's finished!

And, interspersed is the usual cooking, cleaning and laundry. Right now, it really feels like I'm living the dream....

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What's Important to You?

Good morning,

While we should be at peak Summer, here in SW Missouri the temps are struggling to reach the 80's during the day and hover in the high 50's to low 60's at night. This is perfect weather for me. My plants seem to be enjoying it as well.

A few years ago, a friend who owns a nursery in New York sent me some starts of this. We planted them in earth pots and they come inside every winter, and go back out in the spring. They love the cooler weather.

I've also got to work a bit more in my garden. This is my third year doing a straw bale garden and right now it's a jungle. Up until the cool weather came, it was too hot for me to get out there. And, hot enough that some of the blooms did not set fruit. Tomorrow morning my list includes going out to try and train up the melon vines and check for anything harvestable. Can't find my  pics from last years garden so next week I'll include a pic of the current jungle with an update on production.

Gardening, painting and writing were my three go to's when I went into retirement. for the next few weeks, the focus is really on writing. I have until the end of this month to submit entries to a contest our annual October writer's conference in Eureka Springs. It's taken quite some time to get my head into a writing frame of mine. These two blogs have helped a lot. To those of you that read my ramblings thank you.

My MeSpace is coming along. My son cut the top for the table but it still requires a bit of work. He has my shop vac right now so I can't vacuum downstairs until later. But, then again, later may be naptime.

Even though employment may be a requirement in your life, don't forget to set aside time for you, to do what you like to do. Feed your soul, your dreams, your fantasies. Don't lose who you are to the job rut, or family routine. You will be better for it and so with those in your circle, whether they be friends or family.

Take care,

And the best to all of you from a Irish crazy lady.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


As I'm sure those of you who follow my blog can see, consistency is not one of my strong points. In my defense, I'm new at this, and it began in the middle of great upheaval. Life is finally mellowing out to my expectations. Insurance in order, check. Deductions coming out as desired, check. Pain, anger and grief dissipated, check. I'm no longer the me I was for the last 18 years...I'm better.

Life throws us so many curves. The one thing that is constant is aging. We're told when we are young to start preparing for retirement now. Unfortunately, I didn't listen. My greatest struggle when my husband died, apart from dealing with the loss, was keeping my house. I have done that, with the help of my son, for nearly 20 years. For that I am very thankful.

About three years ago, I started laying out a seven year plan for retirement. Late, yes. Possible, also yes. At age 66, I would receive Social Security full time. I would have my 401K and company stock. I would continue to work until 70, socking away my income, and then retire. I have a bucket list. I began picking and choosing those things I wanted to spend my time doing when I hit the magic number. Gardening, writing, and learning to paint with watercolors.

At three years in, I was caught up in the Great Displacement. Most of you know what I'm talking about. Suddenly my seven year plan was gone.

But I find that is not such a bad thing. I'm typically a very crafty person. Once I had finances and insurance in order, I started dabbling with the items I had on my bucket list, dumping some of them out, rearranging others into the tentative bucket. I so thank my baby sister for her encouragement and kick me in the ass attitude.

I signed up for a painting class. I'd tried one picture without any real guidance before I started the class and it was eh. I didn't hang it on the wall. Then I went to a couple  of classes. The first painting is confusing, even to  me. I know what it's supposed to be, but not necessarily what it is.

The second was done around the fourth of July.

I rather like it. It was harder than i thought it would be, but I learned a lot of technique. I haven't been back to another class, but I'll go again. In a way, this certified my new independence. 

Guys have Man Caves, gals have She sheds. Well, I won't get a She Shed, but I'm creating my personal space where I can got to write, paint, read or journal without interruption. I purchased a new laptop specifically to work in this space. The table is put together, today it will be in place with the chairs under it. 

One of the things  my sister got me started on was journaling. Have never done much before, never had a diary that I can remember. But this is a step in getting more organized. I will never be as meticulous as she is, but I want to have a plan for most of each day. My goal is for Monday mornings to be blogging. Basically I've rambled on about everything but consistency. My plan is for this to be the beginning of consistency in my life, other than computer games with my coffee in the morning after dishes, and curling up in the recliner with Charlie in the afternoons until time to fix supper. 

He's our spoiled baby. But he loves his momma time in the afternoon...until Papa gets home then he only wants to be around me if I have food. But that's okay. He knows he's loved. 

Don't know he's going to feel about momma's personal space. It's down three steps and since he went blind in one eye, he won't go down by himself. So, I'll make sure one of the additions is a nice thick bed for him to lay in, a water bowl, a food dish and a couple of toys. 

Wish me luck on the consistency journey. It is going to be an up hill battle. 😅😅😅