Month: August 2010

All the Things I Love

Yesterday was a day filled with all the things I love: playing in the garden with my daughter, a walk around the neighborhood, cooking, sewing, a glass of wine, and a nice dinner with my family.

On the outside it really doesn’t seem like anything extraordinary, but to me, it’s days like these that make me look down on my life and smile.

Garden eggplant, basil and tomatoes

This was my harvest for the day. Dinner? Eggplant Parmesan!

Overgrown garden

It seems things are growing right before my eyes. Everyday both the garden and my daughter are bigger than the day before.

Child getting into cabinets

Monet loves to "help" in the kitchen. While she occupied herself by playing in the drawers and cabinets, I made homemade tomato sauce.

Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe:

  • First, remove the skins from a large bowl full of tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to cook the tomatoes in a pot full of boiling water for 1-2 minute and then immediately submerge them in ice water. The skins should come right off.  Next you need to quarter the tomatoes, remove the seeds, and let them drain in a colander for about 15 minutes, pushing the juices out every few minutes.
  • Start cooking the skinned and pitted tomatoes in a big pot.
  • Meanwhile, in a fry pan, cook up one large onion, four cloves of garlic, olive oil, and 1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (the kind packed in olive oil). Cook until onions are translucent.
  • Add salt, pepper, a little cayenne, a spoonful of sugar, and 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar to the fry pan. Cook for one more minute.
  • Add the onion mixture to the pot full of tomatoes and stew for 1-3 hours, until the sauce is to your desired thickness.
  • Add freshly chopped basil and Parmesan cheese before you serve over noodles.

Last night I used this sauce, along with the eggplants from my garden, to make  Martha Stewart’s Baked-Eggplant Parmesan. So good!

And then the three of us, my hubby, Monet and I, enjoyed a nice dinner together.

Because people, smiles and laughter, more than anything else, is truly what makes a house a home, I hope you enjoyed this weeks “moment”…

om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.”  -Elbert Hubbard

t.v. image with vinyl letters

Design Divas Vinyl Lettering and Wall Art on Etsy

Do you remember my homework assignment —set some goals and organize a plan. Well I’ve been thinking a lot about that these past few days, while chasing my daughter around the house, and I’ve come to the realization that it’s easy to “set goals”.  People are always talking about their goals.  But if you aren’t setting “S.M.A.R.T. goals“, if you aren’t breaking bigger goals into smaller steps, if you aren’t taking your goals seriously and checking in on a regular basis, well then, why set goals at all?

In the past, as a teacher on the first day of school, I would always set “S.M.A.R.T. goals” with my students each year after reading “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss.  A S.M.A.R.T. goal” is this:

S = Specific – Don’t just decide vaguely what it is you’re going to do.  Rather, be specific and include the who, what, when, and where.

M = Measurable – If you can’t measure a goal, how do you know when you’ve reached it?  Vague words like “good” and “awesome” are examples of words I had to teach my students to stay away from.  Rather, I encouraged them to use a measurable number.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to be a good math student this year” a student should say, “I will have a math score of 92% or higher at the end of the quarter”.  See the difference?

A = Attainable or Achievable – An important step  to consider when trying to achieve your goals is all the smaller steps and benchmarks that your larger goal breaks down into.  By breaking your goals down into smaller goals, you can slowly step towards the bigger goal, as well as track your progress along the way.

Check out this great resource, a “goal planner sheet” to help you track your progress along the way to achieving your goals.

R = Realistic – Personally I like to add “Plus a Little Risky” to this one.  It’s important to to set yourself up for success, yet at the same time challenge yourself beyond what you think you can do.  “Realistically” I can’t make $100,000 this year considering I’m the primary care taker for a child who only takes a 90 minute nap on a good day.  Yet at the same time, if I don’t set goals that are a little risky, I might never be challenged to stretch myself.  Be careful to find balance between the “realistic” and the “risky”.

T = Timed – And lastly, make sure you clarify when you will reach your goals, otherwise you might never reach them.

Today’s assignment, sit down and think about one thing you hope to accomplish in the future.

Do you think that it’s important to share your goals with others as a means of accountability.  I do!  And that’s why I’ll be sharing a few of my goals with you next week.

Won’t you share one of your S.M.A.R.T. goals with me?

Note:  Tara Gentile from Scoutie Girl just launched a FREE 8 part mini e-course on creating action out of inspiration – moving you past procrastination & into accomplishment.  Guess what her first lesson was on?  That’s right –goals!

Back to School

“Back to school” seems to be all the buzz these days.  Back-to-school sales fill our stores, kids have backpacks filled to the brim with new back-to-school supplies, and moms talk half excited and half sad about how their kids are going back to school.

red apple

"Red Delicious" Fine Art Photograph by Erin Reynolds Photography on Etsy

“Back to school” has a little different meaning for us here at The Artists’ House. Since I quit my day job as a teacher last spring, in order to take care of my one-year-old daughter Monet and pursue other more creative ambitions,

for the first time since I can remember, I am not going back to school.

First as a student, and then as a teacher, the first day of school has been part of my yearly routine since I was three.  And while I’m not going back to school, my husband still is, and I suppose this is still a significant change for me.  Over the summer months, Josh and I shared child-care responsibilities for our daughter Monet.  When we weren’t traveling as a family, often Josh would watch Monet in the mornings giving me time to sew in my studio.  He also was a significant helper when it came to daily chores like watering the garden, getting groceries, cooking, and laundry.  But now that Josh is back to teaching, my responsibilities have increased significantly,

yet my ambitions have not calmed one bit.

Right this moment I sit in bed, typing with one hand, as I hold my precious, sleeping Monet (who woke prematurely) and I wonder how I’m going to manage it all.

Today’s assignment, set some goals and organize a plan.

What are your goals for this upcoming school year?

Now get back to class, teacher’s orders.

The Ingredients for Success

I can’t get sewing out of my head.  I feel like a teenager in love, always thinking about sewing, obsessing about it really.  Wait, is this a diary entry or a blog post?

love, heart, girl

"Complete" by Shira Sela

In all honesty, and putting all silliness aside, I am absolutely smitten and in love with me job.  I had my first big show this past weekend and I did quite well.  Besides getting a few big sales, I now have two stores interested in my work, one carrying my patterns, and one my finished quilts.  Along with that, I might even have a great connection to a big name gallery in our area.  And all of this buzz has just been fuel to my fire, my passion, my obsession.  Last night I was dreaming about quilts, my ideas taking form, and when I woke this morning, I jumped right into sketching.

All of this obsessing and passion has really got me thinking about the ingredients for success.  While I’m currently in love with my job, if I can’t eventually turn it into something that does well for me and my family, well, I might need to find a second job.

And then I heard this podcast and was convinced: Radio Lab Podcast: Secrets of Success

Here’s a short description:  Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t like Gifted and Talented Education Programs. And he doesn’t believe that innate ability can fully explain superstar hockey players or billionaire software giants. In this podcast, we listen in on a conversation between Robert and Malcolm recorded at the 92nd St Y. Robert asks Malcolm if he’s a “genius denier,” and Malcolm asks Robert if he’s uncomfortable with the power of love, as they duke it out over questions of luck, talent, passion, and success.”

Ingredients for Success

  • 1 cup talent
  • 4 cups time
  • 10 cups determination, passion, and love
  • pinch of good luck

What do you think the ingredients for success are?

A Quilt Full of Memories

Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on the floor of my studio pining the last row of my most recent quilt.  My husband and daughter had just gotten home, and while I was “locked” in my studio I heard Monet call for me, “Mommy!?”, asking if I was home.  I wanted to finish what I had just started so I continued to pin and let my husband continue to watch after her.  Something about the quilt I was making just seemed to draw me in and I couldn’t let it go.  I found that as I examined the quilt, each room on the quilt caused memories to surface in my mind.

machine applique quilt with reading chair and lamp

The suitcase reminded me of the two years Josh and I lived apart, trying to make our long distance relationship work before we got married.  The tub and stack of books beside the arm chair reminded me of our nightly routine with Monet, first giving her a bath and then reading her books before rocking her to bed.  Each glance another memory; I remembered pacing my house with the pain of contractions before we took off for the hospital, and I remembered all the times I walked in our front door to the sweet aroma of my husband’s cooking.  And so as I looked at the quilt blocks, with tears in my eyes, and contemplated the memories that were sparked, I came to the realization that rooms hold memories.

machine applique quilt retro home

My husband has often caught me standing in a doorway, looking into a room and admiring it.  And while part of me is admiring the design of the room, or how great a room looks once it’s all cleaned up and put away, the other part of me is thinking about the person that room belongs to, or something that might have just recently happened in that space.

Looking back, when I first started creating this quilt, I wasn’t sure why it seemed so compelling to me.  My hands just took over and created these rooms.

In hind sight, I now see it was my hands building something my heart was saying.

So, if you look at this quilt and only see empty rooms, well, I challenge you to look again, to look deeper.  Are you sure there isn’t a precious family memory hidden there?

The Top Guns of Blogging

I’m pleased to announce, a guest post from my husband, the sweet and funny, Joshua Flicker.

top gunWhen my wife was introduced to the “blogoshpere,” it immediately sucked her in.  She became a new person both literally and figuratively.  Now she isn’t just Angela, she has also become The Artists’ House, the name of her blog. She daily gets texts, tweets, liked, and friended by people who, like her, have online alter egos.  They have bodiless avatars sustained by, and living off of, the boundless energy of the Internet.  I’m not sure, but she may be approaching the point where more people have come to know her online persona rather than those flesh and blood people who have met her face to face.

At first I didn’t really understand this new world of hers, but just yesterday it totally clicked for me.  Angela was telling me all about what she had heard/read about from Soul Mamma, Dooce, Scoutie Girl, A la Mode Stuff, Design Mom, Molly’s Muses, etc. etc. etc.  “You sound like one of the pilots in the movie Top Gun.” The words came out of my mouth and I instantly knew that I had unlocked the confusing secret of blogging’s overpowering allure to women of the digital age.

Blogging is to women what Top Gun is to men.

The aforementioned blog names are the equivalent of the handles used by the Navy’s greatest fighter pilots.   To my wife, Scoutie Girl and Dooce are held in the same high esteem that Maverick, Goose, and Iceman are to me.  Seeing how Viper was taken down with a sidewinder and then buzzing the tower in celebration, is as equally stimulating to me as reading a new post on felting techniques and the indie craft movement is to my wife.  This new world is finally making sense.

The only thing I am still confused about is what the equivalent of playing sand volleyball shirtless and in blue jeans is in the world of the woman blogger.

– Josh Flicker

We Have a Winner

Congratulations Eleise, from One Artsy Mama, you’re our lucky winner!

Daily Monet

NOTE:  Giveaway ends at noon today.  Follow this link, leave a comment, and you could win!

Because people, smiles, and laughter, more than anything else, is truly what makes a house a home, here is this weeks “moment”…

“{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.” -SouleMama

om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

A “Here’s What I’ve Been Making” Giveaway

machine applique - home sweet home - suitcase and front doormachine applique - retro chair and lamp and books

machine applique - retro couch - living roommachine applique - retro tv

machine applique - bathroom with polka dots and blue tilemachine applique - retro kitchen - retro fridge

The above images are scans of machine applique blocks I’ve made.  Eventually they will be featured in a retro quilt I’m currently making.  These images are available as giclee prints in my etsy shop.  They can also be purchases as greeting cards.  I’m so excited to finish this quilt!

Along with the above images, I’m also finishing two other quilts.  Here is the first…

And here is the second…

Machine applique felt butterfly quilt

machine applique quilt with felt butterfliesbutterfly quilted quiltmachine applique quilt with felt butterflies - pink and black

Don’t you love how the quilted butterflies look?

felt applique pillowpatchwork pillowfelt applique pillow

This quilt comes with matching pillows (made from the leftover scraps from making the quilt top).  Both of these quilts will be available in my etsy shop soon, once I finish binding them by hand.

As I prepare for an upcoming art show called Craft Lake City, I’m looking to finalize all these pieces, plus more.  Cards need to be printed and stuffed in their nice plastic covers, prints need to be printed and labeled, prices need to be set, patterns need to be finalized, and applique patches need to be made.

I’m still trying to make some decisions and would love to hear from you.

And so I’m hosting a giveaway today.

One winner will win a $20 gift certificate to my etsy shop.

How do you win?

You can enter to win in one of FIVE different ways, or increase your chances of winning by doing all five of the submission choices below.

But, please note that you must enter in a separate comment for each entry submission.

1. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of my work as I prepare for my upcoming show –offer suggestions, tell me your favorite, ask questions, be critical, give praise, etc.  What would you buy if you walked into my booth?

2. “Like Me” on facebook.

3. Make an announcement about this giveaway on your own blog, Facebook page, or Twitter about us. Then post your comment below with the link to the announcement.

4. Join my mailing list.

5.  “Heart” my etsy shop

The giveaway closes on Friday, August 6th at noon (mountain time). The winner will be contacted by email.

Good luck and thanks for the help!

Spare Moments

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rough Uncut Diamond Ring by Artifactum Design

Most days, my ambitions are impossible to ignore.  They control me, and responding to them is not a question, rather it is like a child crying, it can not be ignored.  Every spare moment I find, I feel must be used well!

I follow these ambitions, and utilize these spare moments, along with being a mother and a wife.  And because my life is made up of multiple layers, and my family is most important to me, sometimes my other roles take precedence. Mentally this can be difficult for me some days, and if we go back to the crying baby analogy, truly it is like a baby is crying, and to help her I first must run through an obstacle course full of absurd hurtles, only to fall through a trap door, finding myself back at the beginning.  Some days are like this and in those days I feel disheartened.

Other days, days like yesterday, I feel like a master juggler.  I’m able to skillfully and swiftly manage all of my daily duties, using every spare moment and never letting a ball drop.  I love these days because I get a perfect taste of all the things that are important to me, and at the end of the day there is something to show for: a nice dinner with my family, a finished sewing project, and quality time spent with my darling daughter.

And so this morning, I sit in my office, and before I get to work I wonder, will I be able to juggle it all today?!  Will I use my spare moments well?

(Note:  I’m currently preparing for a big art show, and as a result time is limited.  So today, I dug this post up from my archives, edited it some, and shared it with you again.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Won’t you please leave a comment.)