Thursday, July 21, 2011

Block Printing

We're in the wallows of summer and I have to say that it's probably the best summer I've had in quite awhile. I cut down from 5 days to 4 days at my job, and I can't tell you how much it's improved my general mood. Don't get me wrong, I do love my job, but I also enjoy having 3 days to scatter the other things that bring me happiness. By the way, this shirt makes me smile and I get compliments on it every time I wear it. Just in case you wanted to know that. $10 Target Halloween score last fall!

Anyway, after ditching my studio for over half a year, I finally found the pull to bring me back. I generally reserve making art for the winter, as Wisconsin winters are quite long (but fun if you can get outside and enjoy it) but I've been feeling the groove lately, so off I went.
This is an older design, but it was still fun to be printing again. I like the rush of printmaking; I think it's one of the most beautiful forms of art, and although I generally only dabble in small designs, it still does the trick for me. I often think about doing more "art" with printmaking, like actual images with multiple colors, but I don't think it's quite right for me. I'll leave that to the people who are already great at it. ;)
I also found a few minutes to sit down and draw a few new designs. Admittedly, this has always been the hardest part for me. But then I found a super secret magic trick. Markers. Why didn't I ever think of that? I mean, it only makes sense. Why draw with pencils or pens that only provide the thinnest of lines when you can play on the same field as the finished blocks, with big, thick, bold lines? 

Anyway. The photo above were my first pattern drawings in like...2 or 3 years. They'll get better. For now I'm testing the waters I suppose. I do like the circle one on the bottom, though. It's probably going to be the next design I carve. It will be about 2.5" wide and I'll use it for coat racks and mixed media. Hoping to carve and print over the next week. We'll see.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wisconsin River

Joe and I returned home from a beautiful trip on the Wisconsin River this afternoon. Everything about it was perfect. Here are a few photos from our 48 hour adventure.

This is the island we stopped at for lunch. The Wisconsin River is a wide and sandy stretch, dappled with islands big and small. It eventually feeds into the Mississippi River.

The canoe we paddled is a Nova Craft Pal, which I borrowed from work. I'm lucky enough to have a job that offers incentives like this; it's pretty cool to have free access to boats. I'm hoping to buy a solo canoe soon, though.
After paddling for a couple hours, we decided to find an island to rest on for the remainder of the night. The one we found was pretty cool. We were hidden from all 2 of the people who passed us...we pretty much had the river to ourselves.

Camping has become so much more enjoyable since we started buying good gear. We have an MSR Mutha Hubba HP tent, a Sierra Designs Diamond Spring 15 and a Thermarest NeoAir.
The sun finally sank into the horizon and we were able to enjoy a fire while listening to the ripples of the river nearby. I was beat and felt pretty jacked up, so I only lasted until about 10 PM or so. Or maybe it was like 9:30...

Now it's morning, which is my favorite time of day, especially when camping. Time to make coffee and oatmeal! I have an MSR WindPro stove and MSR Quick 2 System, which make this task a breeze.
Once we were packed, we snapped a quick photo and got back on the river. The sun was shining and it was supposed to get hot, so we headed out to find our next site. It was Friday and I thought it may be harder to find an island later in the evening, so getting out early was nice.

After paddling for a bit, we found our next island by about 2:00. We had a huge beach to ourselves, which was perfect for playing frisbee. By now the sky was becoming overcast with slate blues and pewter greys, which is my favorite.
It started to rain around 8:00. I'm a big fan of rainy weather because it stimulates the senses of sound, touch, smell and sight. I wish more people could appreciate rainy days. Rain coats help a LOT. Anyway, on went the rain fly and we built a fire. You can see another fire on a neighboring island, too.
We enjoyed our fire in the rain for an hour or so and eventually retired to the tent for the evening. Next on my purchase list is a tarp so we can extend our time in the rain and sun and wind.
We didn't take any photos the next day other than this one. My camera batteries were dying and I didn't feel like changing them and I was out of space on my memory card, as usual. But now we were home from our quick adventure and already planning our next one.
Once we were unpacked, I took a shower and a 3 hour long nap. Then we headed out to the Old Feed Mill to celebrate 8 years of being together. It was a great few days. Today is supposed to be in the mid 90s and I have a garden to water, so I better get going. Oh, and it's National Ice Cream Day, so I have to go to town and buy some. Ice cream is one of those things that I have recently allowed back into my life, along with peanut butter and ketchup. Oh man. Anyway, back to ice cream- our favorite non-local brand is Breyer's. What's yours?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DIY Fire Pit

Photo post! So as you may know, I've been working on the fire pit on and off for quite some time now. Before that was the major garden overhaul. The main reason behind all the work on the fire pit (lately) was because I had an article to write for Houzz, and I needed a finished fire pit before I could submit it. It was published today, so I have officially decided that the rest of the summer will be for hanging out and having fun. Not that I don't consider house projects to be fulfilling and fun. I mean, that's why I do them. But I need to be camping and canoeing and just hanging out.

Last summer was a wash between being sick for so long and the other various sad and bad things that happened and as a result, I don't even remember it being summer last year. So I think it's time that I stop going going going on house stuff and just hang out for a bit. I'm banning myself from feeling like I NEEEEED to finish things for at least a week. I know, that's kind of short...maybe I'll try for 2 weeks. We're going to kick it off with a trip down the Wisconsin River for a few days. Photos to come. For now, here are a few fire pit shots from beginning to end. Check out the full story here. *PS: I am absolutely elated and in super high spirits after reading all the lovely feedback over at Houzz. Thank you SO much, Houzz readers! :) :) :)

Saturday, July 09, 2011


Over the last couple of days, I spent a large portion of my time working on the area that surrounds our fire pit. I bought these flowers to put somewhere in that general vicinity about a week and a half ago and still haven't planted them. All because I haven't decided where to put them yet. I need to just pick a spot and move on already. I mean really, if I end up hating it, I can just move them.

Yesterday I transplanted a lot of flowers and laid more mulch and did some other little things here and there. It will be a much welcomed feeling when I'm finally happy, or at least content, with that area but we'll see when that happens. Looking at this photo that I snapped today does make me happy and helps me to remember that I need to appreciate all that I've done rather than dwell on what I feel like I still "need" to do.

Sometime this afternoon I opened my mailbox and found the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living resting inside and it made me cringe a little. I think I should probably void this publication from my life because I'm pretty sure it only fuels my struggles with perfectionism. I wish so badly that there was a switch I could turn off and just be fine with things rather than spending countless hours trying to get to the point where I'm okay with something. That would be the coolest thing ever. Or maybe the second coolest thing ever. But either way, I'd love it.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

House Paint

In my last post, I mentioned that Joe and I did a bunch of fun things over the weekend. I don't know how much fun most people consider painting the outside of their house to be, but it definitely increased my mood, and that's coming from somebody who doesn't even like to paint.

We made the jaunt out to Home Depot on Sunday morning to look for paint. Joe yanked a small piece of siding off the back of the house for comparison sake. The idea wasn't to change the color of the house, but to make the painted wooden area off the front of the house match the siding on the rest of the house. The wood was always a little bit more lavender-blue while the rest was more of a sky blue with slightly green undertones. When Joe pulled the siding off, we realized that the reason it was different wasn't because of a bad color match, which was always the assumption I had, but because the siding had actually been painted at one time, and the wood was not. The wood was still the color of the original siding! Oy...
So anyway, while I was at Home Depot, I started grabbing swatches to try to get somewhat close to the siding color. I just wanted to paint the entire front up to the corners where the difference wouldn't be noticeable. First I picked up Martha Stewart paint swatches...of course...but didn't find anything close. Then I went through some Glidden, but nothing still. Another brand was next, and I found one that would work if it had to...and then off to the wall of Behr swatches, where I found an *exact* match. So basically, I found the same color that they used when they painted. The color is called "Harmonious".

So far we've only gotten one coat on, and haven't even touched the siding yet. We plan to do the back as well. A lot of the siding is faded and it drives me nuts! We spent a couple hours scrubbing the exterior and that alone made it look 5 times better, but paint is still necessary. More front of house photos to come. I'm sloowwllllly trucking away at the adhesive left on the cement of the deck, which is a project I started last summer. I think I'm about 90% finished, which means that I only have like 2 hours to go! Yay. ;)

Monday, July 04, 2011

HEMNES Bookcase

Hey friends! I hope you are all enjoying your holiday weekend! Joe and I have been lucky enough to get 3 days off together, which is quite a rarity 'round these parts. We've been kicking ass on the house project list and it confirms that I do indeed have to find a weekend-less work schedule at some point in my life if I want to continue to have fun AND get house stuff done.

We kicked the weekend off with a super fast trip to MN to visit a friend and go to a baseball game. Of course, we can't make a trip to the Twin Cities without a stop at IKEA. I had a long list of things that I'd been saving for, but then I made a $200 mistake a couple weeks ago and there went over half of my budget. Ah well, such is life. But we did come home with one item from IKEA...
A HEMNES bookcase, in grey brown. I must say that I'm really super excited about it. And contrary to the popular "IKEA is such a pain in the ass to assemble!" nonsense I always hear, it was actually quite easy. It probably took about an hour, which included the various interruptions from the cats (side note: Clem is about to find a new home outside if he doesn't stop being such a dick head.)


Pay no attention to the lack of shelf styling thus far- I just kind of threw the books and decorations on half ass-edly and stepped back to breath a sigh of relief- there are no more book piles in every corner of the house! I have been trying not to collect books since we didn't have anywhere to put them, so we don't really have very many, but now we can start the gathering process. Yay!

We did a whole bunch of other stuff this weekend, although you'll have to wait a bit for the stories as we're preparing for some friends who will be arriving shortly. Joe's smoking pork shoulder on the gill and I just made potato salad- yum! Hope you all had a great wknd!