Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014: Year of Recovery

I guess I have always been more of a forward look type of person than a reviewer, but I have to say that looking back on 2014 has been revelatory for me.

We started out the year experiencing one of the coldest I can remember.  Of course that is when my sister and brother-in-law were here to enclose our patio.  Chuck's words were, "It's so cold there are no degrees!"  Not the usual for Oklahoma winters, but it was a crazy weather year all over the world.  We got the room closed in and set up the aquaponics system. We spent several months playing with that system and trying to figure out the secrets to success.  Mostly it was an expensive learning experience, although not as costly as some or as it could have been.

I did a LOT of art and wrote a LOT of letters throughout the year.  I participated in National Letter Writing Month in April and gained a couple of new pen pals from that group, then later I joined a small group called the Secret Snail Mail Society.  There are about 14 women in that group, and there have been many weeks that had it not been for them I wouldn't have gotten any mail at all!  Between Swap-Bot, Instagram, SSMS, and my regular pen friends, I have kept the USPS hopping this year.  I sent out over 1,000 pieces of mail between January 1 and today, December 27.

My art journey has been so fun, beginning with my first gelli-printing session in January and ending with a number of wonderful art journals filled with friends' artwork.  I really pushed out of my comfort zone, have done things I never thought I would do, and enjoyed the process immensely. I don't seem to need to do it every day, but I really miss it if I don't get to do some art during a week.

I spent much of the year being in pain of one sort or another.  I even spent a few weeks during the year hobbling around with a cane, but in October things turned around for me and I am doing so much better I can hardly imagine the other state now.  I won't say I am 100%, but compared to the 40% I was most of the year, I'd say I'm up to about 75% now.

I felt good enough in November that I convinced Ornery to go to Florida, where we enjoyed several warm and sunny days enjoying the gulf coast and some shopping. That was a turning point for me, and ever since we have been back home, I have seen little improvements almost every day. It has really given me hope.

There were other events through the year that I should probably mention:

  • Ornery's mom was in an accident on Mother's Day and broke a rib, so she stayed 8 days with us while she recovered
  • We finished our first year as landlords and were really sad to see our first renters move out.  We are still looking for a new tenant, five months later.  
  • We listed our house for sale, then removed it from the market, but not before painting almost the entire interior. 
  • Since deciding to stay, we have really revamped a lot of our living space to be more accommodating to our lifestyle.
We are really excited about some of the goals and plans we have made for 2015.  I mean REALLY excited!  Even Ornery, who isn't much of an emotional guy, seems to be pretty stoked about them.  Stay tuned, because a lot of them will be revealed right here.  Some may be a bust, like our aquaponics experiment, but it seems all learning comes at some cost, so I guess that is to be expected.  Hopefully some of them will pan out. 

I don't plan to be as absent from blogging as I was this year.  Things change, ideas come and go and life seems always to be in flux, but we are committed to giving some of our goals a good chance to succeed. And for that to happen there are a lot of changes on the horizon. We are trying to keep the most important things going, and focusing on them, which means a lot of the less meaningful and productive things will no longer take up our time. My outgoing mail for 2015 will (hopefully) be less than 1/2 what it was this year.  My time in the studio will be budgeted, and I have added other things to my schedule so I won't let things fall through the cracks, such as writing, gardening and household chores.  I'm hoping to add a lot more photo content to this blog, and help with Ornery's new blog, which will be up and running in a couple of months. 

And, I'm finally going to write my first book next year. I think 2015 is going to be great!  

Monday, December 15, 2014

A (not so) Little Update

In snippets:

  • We took a nice little week long trip to Florida for some beach time before Thanksgiving.  The weather was perfect (75 degrees) until the last day.  We updated Ornery's wardrobe for work at the outlet mall, checked out AC Moore for some art supplies, and had a nice little visit with Ryan over lunch one day.  Mostly we sat on the patio and watched the water, birds, dolphins and the occasional person or group who refused to acknowledge it was no longer summer. I didn't cook the whole time, and got a few little projects caught up while we were in the condo. We both came back refreshed and relaxed.
  • When we came home we decided that we were just going to have to find a different venue for funding more rental properties and took the house off the market.  It took our Realtor a whole week to get it off the listing from the time we asked her to, and in the mean time, we got calls to show it. (figures!) Since it has been off the market, we have had several calls from eager agents who would be delighted to list it again for us!  
  • We have been moving back into the house, in new and fresh ways since the walls ARE still beige! There are a few pictures to be rehung, but I've got my Kitchen-Aid mixer back out on the counter, my cutting boards are back in easy reach, and the bathroom counter is happily cluttered with essential oils, muscle rub, lotion and the odd hair accouterments. :)
  • Ornery completely rearranged his man cave (woodshop in the garage) and created more room for his hobby, and a better organization scheme.  He built a new little cart/shelf for his small scraps, and put wheels on the other scrap bin. 
  • I repainted my little headboard/shelf, and we re-installed it and the shelf that Ornery had built for my studio last summer.  I completely reorganized everything and put things in easy reach or more usable states than they had been before. Such a wonderful room it is!  Everything is so handy now.
  • We rearranged the garden room and are excited about using it this spring and summer for starting seeds and an assortment of other garden related activities. It's not an aquaponics room, but it will still be very much related to gardening.  We put the seed starting rack back in there, and added two tables for work areas.  I think we'll hang a couple of plants near the window and a gardening related calendar on the wall--what little bit of wall isn't brick that is. There are two chairs out there and when we begin having nice days again we plan to drink coffee out on the patio, like we used to before we converted the patio to a room.  We can open doors and a window to make it feel like being outside, or just enjoy the view through the doors.
  • The former guest room is now the Loom Room, housing both of Elizabeth's tri-looms, and soon her new tapestry loom.  Since I'm pretty sure she shouldn't be having all the weaving and textile fun, I plan to build a simple frame loom and do a bit of tapestry weaving myself.  I will also be putting the sewing machine and fabric related crafting items in there.  TWO craft rooms!  What an amazing luxury!
  • We still have not found a renter for 507. :(  Five months of paying two house payments is beginning to take a toll on our budget. Hopefully it will happen soon.  Meanwhile we have been over there pretty frequently doing various projects and attempting to keep the leaves under control.  Wow, that neighborhood has a lot of huge trees!!
  • Health-wise, I have been feeling great, have had lots of energy, stamina and an upbeat positive attitude. SO much different from last year!  I haven't really lost any weight, but the inclusion of a couple new supplements has made a huge difference in managing my pain level!  I felt good enough to invite and entertain guests for dinner a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in ages! I have been cooking a lot more, and been more interested in life in general. My hermit tendencies have begun to fade and I have started actually looking forward to going out.  I can still stay home way longer than is probably healthy without remorse, but at least I am not avoiding life like I had been.
  • Thanksgiving was quiet, with just Ornery's mom, Ornery and me.  Mom brought over a bit of smoked turkey and some dressing, and I fixed sweet potatoes and ambrosia.  Both Ornery and Mom brought non-traditional pies to the feast, and no one went away hungry!  We worked a fun new puzzle and had a nice visit.  
  • Christmas plans aren't much more exciting. Elizabeth and Michael will join us, along with Mom and a single friend of the kids.  We are going very small on the gift giving, and for the meals that day we will have a "My Favorite Breakfast Food" brunch and then stew and biscuits for dinner/supper.  I'm sure there will be a puzzle. :)
  • Ornery isn't taking the last two weeks of the year off, although he does have some vacation available, but he has a long weekend around Christmas, and 1.5 days off for New Year, so there will be a bit of sawing and playing going on in the man cave, I am sure.
  • I signed up for an Art Journaling class online and have been enjoying it.  I haven't actually had any time to sit down and do the lessons, but I plan to as soon as Christmas is over and the mess from it is all cleaned up.  One thing about having our house on the market for 10 weeks, I got used to keeping things clean, and I don't think it is bothering either of us to keep it tidy now. 
  • We didn't send out Christmas cards this year, and the (very) few we receive will get a personal letter in return. I am still writing to several pen pals and doing swaps.  So far this year I have sent out 977 pieces of mail.  I don't know if I will hit 1000 by the end of the month or not, but that is a ton of mail!!
  • We are cooking up some fun stuff for 2015, and I do plan to blog more frequently.  Stay tuned for updates in that arena.
Here are a few pictures.
Sinrise in Ft Walton Beach

Our little Christmas tree

One of Elizabeth's latest shawls

This just came off the loom yesterday. It has five different yarns in it, one of which has tiny square beads wound in the yarn. It is beautiful in person.  I have listed several of her shawls in my etsy shop.  She began a new one for me today with purple and white. So pretty!  :)
If my current trend continues before the end of the year, this may be my last post for 2014, so I will wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Instagram Friends Traveling Journal comes home

My traveling art journal came home today!!  If you click on the links in the captions, it will take you to either the artist's instagram feed or their blog.

Front cover

Inside front cover

By Kim in Mississippi

By Darlene in Florida

By Sharon in Missouri

By Julie in Washington

By Debbie in England

By Rita in California

By Syda in California

Another by Debbie
By Karen in California

By Sarah in Tasmania, Australia
By Tess in Scotland
This was my fourth traveling journal, and I am awed at the talented women who give their time and talent. The next round begins in January.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Choices and Victories

Well, we are still at Zoe Cottage, having had the house on the market for 67 days and a total of 9 prospective buyers, six of which at our first open house. Actually, the small number of buyers is somewhat nice, as it means I am not having to figure out where to stash my project du jour, or race around like a crazy woman to clean things up.  We must prefer a slightly messy look, as that seems to be the norm. I'll have it all cleaned up by Saturday morning, though, as our agent is hosting another open house this weekend.

Meanwhile, we have listed 507 with a new property manager, but as far as I know we haven't even had a nibble on that--or else she is just not going to bother us unless they are serious, which is also nice.  We trotted over there three times for engineer reports and estimates on foundation repairs, and in the end decided we would just get the doors working and worry about the (very expensive) repairs another time. We also forked over a substantial part of this past year's rental earnings to a tree trimming company who did a fabulous job on the two massive oak trees in the back yard over there. All the dead wood and limbs that were likely to cause problems through a hard winter are now cleared out, and Ornery can rest easy about liability and so on. Theoretically, anyway.

Yesterday as I was washing dishes, I thought about my life, and how at every turn there are opportunities to choose happiness/joy or frustration/sorrow. I discussed with myself and the flatware about how happiness is a choice, or rather thousands of little choices every day.  Naturally I was challenged to remain happy by every technological device I own. :(  I am pretty sure there was some sort of universal conspiracy to make sure I had lots of opportunities to choose joy.  I can't say I was always successful!

I decided to join the other gazillion consumers and purchase Taylor Swift's new album. It's cheaper to buy the CD and get the free instant download mp3 than to just buy the digital music. ?? Anyway, I did that. And because my operating system is not supported by iTunes, I have to buy all my mp3s from Amazon, who does not seem to have a problem with it.  Then I spent the next two hours fighting with the "new and improved"  music downloader, a continually crashing Google Chrome browser, and a Firefox browser that would not update. 0_o 


Having failed at that venture, I decided to update the maps on Naggie, our Garmin Nuvi GPS.  I spent half an hour looking for the chord to plug it into the computer--good thing Ornery had something else that would work because I never did locate it. Then another two hours updating the software and maps. Unfortunately, there was not enough memory to load all the maps, and the map option it gave me was apparently not supported by my model... So I went to bed last night with music I couldn't play, an outdated browser and a now blank GPS, because of course it had to wipe everything clean!

Today I determined to be happy, doggone it! So, I fiddled around with my computer long enough and hit enough buttons to finally get my iTunes to accept my new Taylor Swift music, then called Garmin's customer support line and got my maps to load.  I ended up uninstalling Chrome, and while I did manage to update Firefox, I will send my computer back over to my son-in-law to see if he can administer CPR or whatever geeks do to resuscitate dead computers. Mine's not dead, but I really do prefer Chrome, and all my stuff syncs across the platforms when I use the same browser on all my devices. (check out that techno-vocab!! :)  I'm slowly catching on!)  I'm pretty sure there is a virus or something.

I think I may need some beach time. :)

Monday, October 13, 2014


Thought I'd check in and update what has been going on in our lives since I last posted.  Has it really been a month?? Wow. I have a lot to say, so this may be long...

 We listed our house on September 15th, spent the next three weeks trying to keep things all tidy and neat in case we had a call to show it, and Ornery working insane 3rd shift hours for one whole week.  After two weeks we had shown it twice.  The first guy said, "I would like it better if it had a gameroom upstairs." (There IS no upstairs!!) The second one said the Feng Shui was wrong because of the way the house faces the street or some such thing. Hmm. 

We asked the Realtor to host an open house, which she did this past weekend.  

We figured it must be the green walls turning people away as our price is right on target for the market, so Sunday October 5th we began operation beige walls.  Sunday Ornery painted the kitchen. Monday and Tuesday he worked on the dining room. Wednesday he painted the whole hall, working until 11:00 PM.  Thursday he finished off the two little alcoves outside the bedrooms. He took Friday off from the painting. Saturday morning we worked at getting things all cleaned up, then after the open house was over at 4:00, we started on the living room, which we finished about 10 minutes before she arrived for Sunday's open house.  

We were delighted to find that Lowe's Valspar Reserve paint (their top of the line) covered everything with one coat, even the cut-work, which as always required two rounds. Since the ceilings on most of the rooms we had to paint were 10 feet, there was a lot of ladder work!!  Fortunately he didn't have to paint the ceilings as they were already white from when we painted the walls green.  We figure the extra $10. per gallon for the better paint was worth it, considering it would have taken twice as much of the lesser grade paint to cover the walls. I doubt we'll ever buy anything else after how well that worked.

We had five people come through on Saturday, one on Sunday.  The response from all seemed positive, but no contract yet.  The main comment was about how clean and organized everything looked. The one on Sunday asked the Realtor, "Where is the television?" When she relayed that question to us, I replied we have never had a television and she said, "So you just don't know anything that is going on in the world??" As though the only way to learn the news was to watch TV!! Even if we had one we would not be news watchers.  Just sayin'.  

My response was that considering the slant one gets in the media, I am not so sure she is any more informed by watching it that we are by not. I was a little offended by her attitude. Oh, well.  I asked her if she would hold a Broker's Open House, and she said she would try to schedule one.  She will also see about getting new photos up on the internet sites so it represents the very blah beige walls we are now living with. If that doesn't work, I don't know what else we can do.  I don't think open houses in general work all that great to sell a house, at least that is what I have been told by previous Realtors. However, I have to say that having six people going through over the weekend was better than the two throughout the three weeks previous.

We still have the utility room to paint, and we hope to do that next weekend, or a bit during the week, but I am not in a hurry to tackle that as the pantry shelves are loaded and it will take a lot of work to paint them. 

So, besides painting and shuffling stuff to paint, we have also been spending a little time at 507, our rental property. Back at the first of August we noted that the doors at one end of the house were sticking, so Ornery has spent countless hours making a huge mess of one of the door frames, and still it is sticking. The other door is actually worse and as he studied the situation realized that the floor had heaved, or the wall had sunk or something.  So, we looked into having the company who did the piers before we purchased it in 2012 come look at it for warranty work.  We apparently failed to register the change of ownership with the company (to the tune of $500.00) within the first year, so it voided the warranty.  Okay! So, we are starting at ground zero again and they are scheduled to come out 10-15 to check it out and give us an estimate.  

Since any foundation work will alter the whole structure, we are going to have to do some repairs inside once the piers are put in.  Then, if we haven't sold this house yet, we will put 507 back on the market for lease. We don't really want to have to pay two house payments, sets of utilities, etc. if we can avoid it.  When we had this idea, I really thought we would sell fairly quickly, but it has not turned out that way.  So, we will move all the stuff we had started taking over there back here and when this house sells we will either store most of it and rent or find something quickly to buy. 

Meanwhile, Ornery has been given the green light at work to work as much overtime as he wants as they are buried in work. He actually has ten projects on his plate, and is juggling things rather proficiently.  The overtime is good for the budget, but hard to work so many hours there, then come home and paint or fix stuff here.  He is doing remarkably well, all things considered, but both of us are pretty tired; a situation not helped any by the barking dogs next door interrupting every bit of sleep we attempt.

It would be lying to say I am not discouraged by how slowly things are going.  I am not really all that patient once I decide to do something. I have missed many of the items from my studio I took over there, and between having stuff in two places and having crammed what is here into smaller spaces, working on my art has been rather frustrating. I don't think I will do that again.  And if we don't have a contract this week, next weekend I will be moving all my stuff back here and setting it back up so I can enjoy it. 

And I have been doing some art.  The traveling journals are still coming around, but I think I only have two left to work in before mine comes home.  I have done several washi tape crafts and sample swaps on Swap-bot, and have kept up with all my correspondence (+/- 30 pen pals now). So far in 2014 I have sent out just under 800 pieces of mail. That seems unbelievable!! The clerk at the post office knows me by name, and when I went in on Saturday to mail two journals he commented that he hadn't seen me in a while and that my mail wasn't as colorful as usual.  

I'll work on that. :)

I have a few other big projects in the works.  I just finished putting together a rather amazing package for the Creative Exchange, and am about 3/4 through with 20 Christmas ATC's for an Instagram swap.  I'm hosting a Christmas/Winter banner swap, and am still sending back and forth a "letter" journal, an ongoing project with two of my pen friends. We do art and write in it each time we receive it.  

Elizabeth wants to have a Halloween party, so I told her she could have it here since her place is too small.  That will probably be our last big gathering to host--that used to be my thing, but not so much anymore. 

Ornery and I have decided that Christmas this year will mostly be a non-event. We don't need any more stuff  to move, and paying two house payments and utilities for both is certainly adding a certain amount of concern for the budget. So, while we may do a little stocking stuffing, or maybe some eBooks, iTunes, or things that don't take up much space, that's the extent this year.  I think Elizabeth and Michael are on board with the idea, too, as they have had a rather expensive fall with huge vet bills and the likelihood of having to replace one of their vehicles. 

So, that's my latest news.  Today it is rainy and gray, another in a string of similar days over the last week, but the forecast is for some gorgeous fall days the rest of the week, and I'm happy about that!  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Neighborhood Living

Our new next door neighbors seem nice enough, but they have a seriously huge collection of STUFF! The backyard is home to a huge jungle gym (with VERY squeaky swings) a trampoline with one of those tall screens around it, and a soft side above ground swimming pool. Oh, and two little yappy dogs that stay outside all the time.  Did I mention they bark? All. The. Time.

So, today when I looked outside and saw them erecting a cheap metal shed, right next to our fence I might have gone a little crazy.  We have lived in this house for over three years, and every minute we have chafed at the neighborhood covenants which require approval by the architectural committee, and only a wooden outbuilding with composition shingles of the same architectural style as your home.  This must be submitted for approval and approved prior to building, at least five feet away from a fence.

I don't think I made them happy, but seriously? The house has two stories, five bedrooms, a game room, a two car garage and they need a shed??

In other news, we are almost ready to list this place for sale!!  We just have some work in the garage and outside, but the inside is as good as it's gonna get.  We painted the library, the guest room, the hall bath, one wall in the studio, the living room ceiling, covered over the verses on the hall wall, and painted one small wall by the kitchen/garage door.  We have de-cluttered, rearranged, thrown away, given away, and sold an immense amount of stuff.  Unfortunately, we still HAVE a lot of stuff!  But I'm sure it will all fit in the other house now.

We also cleaned.  Lordy, have we cleaned!  It took me hours to clean our bathroom, sorting through drawers and cabinets, scrubbing, finding homes for things we kept on the counters... then there was the kitchen, which now has a sparkling clean oven, microwave, dishwasher, sinks and cabinets, and counters. I have moved or hidden everything from the counters except the coffeemaker, the knife block and a basket on the bar. The dining room table, and in fact every surface in the house is clean. (But don't look in the closets!)

The Realtor was ready to list it Wednesday night, but we really needed this weekend to get everything done. We will still be working like fiends for a few days on the yard, but the place is looking really good, if I do say so myself! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Catching Up

The days fly by and I forget I even have a blog with so many things going on! So, here I am, checking in with my few faithful followers for an update.

Friday night, Ornery tackled the wall in my studio that we had left deep teal colored when we painted in there earlier this year. We still had some paint, which he used until it was gone, then we started Saturday off with a quick trip to Lowe's for another quart. That room was done by noon, and while I worked on putting that room back together, he decided to paint the guest room and hall bathroom, which were also deep teal. That took up the rest of the weekend, and is still a work in progress.

I had a professional carpet cleaner come Monday morning, and they cleaned all the carpet, ceramic tile and a wool rug. I spent that day working on pen pal letters in the garden room, which was the only dry floor in the whole house!

Yesterday I caught up on a bit of art, as I had received two art journals to work in.

Today I am going to hopefully get the house cleaned up, then work more on my pen pal letters. I'm pretty motivated to do more art, so it's hard to focus on mundane tasks like cleaning bathrooms when I'd rather be creating, but soon this phase will be over and normal life can resume.

Monday, September 1, 2014

More Check Marks!

We marked off a few more items on the list today. The garden room table has a lovely new cover on it, the hall wall is all green again, and the wall in the alcove by the kitchen/garage door is green again, too. The living room is rearranged, and Ornery is finishing up a repair of a bad three-way switch in the entry hall.

There is a bit more tidying up, and the studio and garage each have one wall to paint, but we are on target to be ready to list on the 15th.

Here is a little glimpse of the living room...

That's all I can show at the moment. There are still many piles and other non-photogenic areas and I'm embarrassed to post those!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Weekend

Well, we survived the garage sale. Every time we swear it's our last, but enough time passes that we forget the overwhelming amount of work and how disheartening it is to have people bargain down your prices to next to nothing.

We got rid (one way or another) of an incredible amount of stuff, and between the Craigslist sales and the garage sale we ended up with a tidy little sum. It might pay for the expenses of moving, which will be much less daunting with fewer heavy pieces of furniture.

Last weekend we painted the library, Monday night a guy from out of town came for the aquaponics system, and in exchange, is giving Ornery a lathe and some wood from his sawmill. Tuesday, Ornery mowed at 507. Wednesday night we finished planting and put down mulch in the front flower bed. Ornery took off Thursday and Friday and both those days were occupied with setting up and holding the garage sale.

Saturday we finished cleaning out the garden room and put down an area rug out there, then we began the very sad task of covering our lovely vermilion ceiling in the living room. That chore was finished by noon today. We used one coat of kilz, and two coats of the Valspar top of the line white paint.

Ornery also touched up trim various places, and we ran a bunch of errands. It has been over a month since we went grocery shopping for more than a few items, and it was getting desperate.

Next we have the words down the hall wall to cover, and a rather long list of additional tasks to complete before the 15th. Everything is taking twice as long as I thought it would. But we're getting there.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Working in and outside

We are moving right along with the redistribution of our excess belongings. Craigslist has sent a few shoppers our way, and the latest thing to leave the house was an entertainment armoire.  The gentlemen who bought it and came to pick it up had a bit of a mishap on the driveway, and it was not nearly as pristine as when it was standing in our living room.  :P   At any rate, it is gone now, and I am faced with a new dilemma, that of figuring out the most inviting way to arrange the remaining items in that room.

But that is for another day.  This morning we spent a few hours planting in the front flower bed. We will still have to work there more tomorrow morning, but it looks like it will really be pretty once it is finished. I had a number of perennials in pots on the back patio which we transplanted.  Whether they will make it or not, I don't know, but if they do, it's money I won't have to spend.  This afternoon we will start painting the library. We'd like to have that room done by the end of the weekend.

Ornery likes to "start in the upper left hand corner" and move out from there, so we decided that the library was that spot for now, and as good of a place as any to begin inside the house. We will also be painting one wall in the studio, doing touch up on the hall wall (sad to see my lovely scripture go away.) and the ceiling in the living room will go from stunning vermilion to plain ol' white. It will be hard to live with it that way after having it so vibrant but hopefully it will appeal to more people.  We will already be having a hard time overcoming our lack of granite countertops in the kitchen, and all the color on the walls.

There are other tasks to be done, of course, but one step at a time, and eventually it will all be done. I hope. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Whoa Nelly!

The biggest obstacle to selling our house to date has been getting the aquaponics garden sold and out the door. After having it listed for a week with no nibbles at all, we decided to just try to sell the fish without the whole system.

I listed them on craigslist this morning, and two hours later had a buyer. He came this afternoon and he and Ornery drained the tank enough to catch the wily little buggers. They were leaping and splashing and hiding behind things but in the end, they all made it into an ice chest and off to their new home.

I was in the process of texting my sister about it when I got a phone call from a buyer who plans to come tomorrow morning and buy the rest of the system! We also sold the fish tank this morning, so things are clipping right along.

The Realtor we are using employs an interior designer who goes into homes and tells you how to best stage it for quick and highest price sale. She comes Wednesday afternoon. We are hoping to have the garden room emptied out by then. We'll see if that happens. Ornery spent most of the morning shoveling dirt out of garden boxes, one whole box went to the new flower bed in front.

The boxes are cedar and were expensive to build, so Elizabeth and Michael will take two of them and we'll put the third one at 507 for an herb garden...which seems to be about all I am able to grow successfully. But before we can move them anywhere, they must be emptied! We're looking for any low spot in the yard, or in any flower bed that might benefit from an extra layer or ten of dirt. Then we have planting and mulching to do. It should be a curb grabber once we are done.

I made it through most of the stuff in my studio last week, and have a substantial pile of items ready for the garage sale. If shipping wasn't so expensive I'd send bits and pieces to all my friends. :-) I thought I would really be able to pare down my paper collection, but apparently my addiction runs deeper than I thought it did. It's not like I wouldn't have room for it, but I so rarely use it anymore, it seems crazy to move it all. Oh, well. Maybe next move... :-D

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Big Changes!

Wow, I don't even know where to start with this post, so I'll just dive right in.  We are selling our house and moving into ??

It makes us sound a little flaky, but while it will be a little uncomfortable, part of me is very excited. I won't go into all the thought process that led us to this pass, but at the moment, we are working hard to lighten our possessions by at least 1/3.  We sold our guest bedroom furniture and glass curio cabinet this weekend and have listed the big entertainment center and aquaponics system on Craigslist. There are many more postings and the dreaded garage sale on the horizon--projected date of September 6.

We have a goal of acquiring several more rental properties and for now we are thinking we may move into the one we have (it is still vacant) and buy two more houses with the equity we have in this one. We will have to check into the tax ramifications, and a few other details... It's all in the planning stages, and I feel like we are having to make rapid fire decisions, but otherwise the whole thing could take months to get underway. And we aren't getting any younger!

Meanwhile, the Instagram Friends Traveling Journal Round 2 (#igftj2) gets underway this week! So, I'll be dividing my time between all the chores around here and a break here and there for some art. And, of course, my letters.  I'll be replying to those, too. So, that's life around here. We'll see how good I am at juggling. It's been awhile since I have had a plate this full, but I'll support Ornery's dream any way I can. For now, that means saying goodbye to a lot of extra stuff.  I'm good with that. Streamlining my life can only be freeing, right?

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Weekend at 507

Last year Ornery and I purchased our first (of hopefully many) rental properties.  We took three LONG months working it over so it would be fit for habitation. Our first set of renters recently vacated, and we are back over there working on various little chores that needed to be done. Mostly we are wearing ourselves out! It's hot, and of course everything that needs to be done is outside. We can't seem to get our carcasses in gear and over there before 10:00 AM, and it has been up in the 90's all week.

Ornery has been yammering on about wanting to trim some dead branches, and one rather hefty live one from the massive oak trees in the back yard.  The first couple were easy, as he just climbed on the roof, and they were at waist level, easy to cut with his trusty electric chain saw, and off we went to the next ones. Which were NOT so easy. Somewhere along the way, the electric chain saw decided it was too good to be cutting such awful looking stuff, and quit. Without giving notice! We tried a brand new electric chainsaw, and for some reason, it wouldn't work either.  So, we returned that one and bought a gas powered dude with enough guts and not too much pride to do the job right.

Ornery climbed up the extended extension ladder and cut off the first section without incident.  It was the second section that caused him grief, when the weight of the part he cut off was no longer weighing down the branch he was leaning on, the branch lifted and left the top of the ladder without support.  Down the ladder went, and fortunately Ornery grabbed a branch from a different tree and rode it down to the ground where he landed on both feet, no broken or sprained bones, and chainsaw still in his hand. The tree didn't fare so well, as the branch split off on the downward pull. Oh, well, we'll just trim that branch when we are done.

Next was the last section of that huge branch, and I told Ornery I would sure feel better if he would strap the ladder to the tree, just in case... So, he did, and proceeded to cut the last section of that branch until it fell. It was still partially attached to the tree, but he figured he could go back and take care of that later.  Oh, by the way, that big branch landed on the rescue tree and obliterated one entire side leaving a rather homely, lopsided beast.  So, now the job increased in scope to the removal of that entire tree, but at least there were no injuries.

After he removed a few smaller twigs the movement and the weight finally tore the last of the branch from the trunk where it somehow managed to roll around to the back of the tree where the ladder was.  Had Ornery been on it, the force likely would have thrown him off.  He owes his guardian angels some big tips and has forthwith been banned from such exercises. We are too old for that kind of excitement!

The neighbor next door was delighted to clean up most of the fallen branches to take to his house for firewood, and he even bundled up most of the smaller branches and put them out for the trash men. In so many ways I wish he was our neighbor here at Zoe Cottage. What a nice guy.

Next, Ornery worked on the fence, replacing a broken post at the corner of the yard. We had to meet with the stump grinder at 2:00 and a new leasing management representative at the same time.  Both went well, the huge stump from last year's tree removal in the front is now shreds and dirt, spread neatly out over the front lawn. Elizabeth had dug out the last of the iris on Sunday, so the area was clear of all except some daylilies which I didn't mind losing. The yard mowing will be much easier now with the removal of the stump, and we shouldn't have so many saplings to contend with, either.

The stump grinder was a remote control beast, and way fun to watch. The owner/operator stood off to the side and drove it from the ground. It was great entertainment! :)

Ornery is off all this week, and we have a few more chores at 507 before we can enjoy some time just relaxing. Which we will definitely need after all the manual labor of the week!

(If you are interested in our journey as beginning landlords, what we did to the house, etc., you can follow this link and search for 507 to see posts I wrote last year. I am still in awe at what we accomplished.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tags and Postcards

I spent two glorious days last week with my gelliplate.

Then I used some of them in various projects.

 All these above are post cards except the second one which is a5x7 for a monthly art swap called Happy Art Swap (#haswap)

This one is a tag I made for someone on Instagram. My sweet daughter was feeling generous and ordered a few items from my Etsy favorites, just because. One of the items was the new Dina Wakely scribble birds stamp set. Another was the Tim Holtz layering stencil with splatters. I'm pleased with the projects so far, and I have a pretty hefty pile of prints to create with..

In the printing sessions I used file folders to clean my brayer and stencils and have had fun altering them as well. I am sending one off today in a mail art swap with a variety of little ephemera pieces, and I used three others to organize my mail and swap groups. As time goes by, I plan to add more things to the fronts, but at least I have a place to store my various swaps while in progress.

It feels great to be back making art (besides washi tape postcards)

Those are a tremendous amount of fun to make, and I am making a valiant effort to use up my washi tape samples by the end of summer. Several have already been sent out either naked with stamps on them, or as a little note in another mailing. Don't those fun strips of color just make you happy? :-)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wunderlist Saturday

I recently added a new app to my tablet and phone called Wunderlist. Ornery also added it and we have really used it a lot for keeping lists of errands, chores, shopping needs, etc.  Because we are both linked to all the various lists, we can both add or mark as complete. There are a few things I wish were different, but overall it has simplified our lives considerably.

Saturday morning during coffee time, we created a new list called Hours of operation. Then we decided what errands we needed to do and did online searches for the opening hours for each place we wanted to go. Then we planned our day accordingly. It was awesome!!

We made returns at Lowe's, had breakfast at Panera, drove out to a suburb to the south to pick up cottonseed hulls for mulch in our new flowerbed. Then we drove back into Tulsa and bought air filters at Locke Supply, and then made a return to Staples. Back to Broken Arrow to the post office and to make an appointment at Clary Sage Salon for a real haircut (as opposed to the weed whacker job I got a few weeks ago at supercuts) and finally to QuikTrip for gas. We had completed everything by 10:30, and were happily ensconced at home before the rest of the city had really started moving around.

We only lack one item on the list; to wash Big Red (the pickup) and we would have done that except for the cottonseed hulls in the back. That would not have been good!

The rest of the day I played with washi tape! I got this in the mail, addressed to me, from me!

I had set a goal to use up my samples by the end of summer and with the arrival of these orphaned samples, I knew I needed to get busy! I taped up a dozen or two envelopes and got a few cards condensed. I think I'm still on target unless another anonymous sender from Oregon sends more! :-) 

I got my hair cut later in the day, and am so far happy with it. Elizabeth and Michael came over to talk geekery with Ornery, and then took my computer home with them for Michael to fix. I sure don't get the motivation behind hackers and virus creators. Hopefully it will be the last issue for awhile. I may need to upgrade my OS as I'm still using Vista. At least my tablet seems to be more secure. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fish Fried

Our aquaponics experiment has been a rather daunting thing. We can't seem to get things to produce, and after a seemingly successful growth spurt, suddenly things droop or drop leaves, or turn brown or don't produce any fruit. Until recently, we had at least been successful in keeping all the fish alive, but even that has changed lately.

A few weeks ago one of the algae eaters decided to take a trip through the drain pipe, and when Ornery discovered him there, he tried to force him out, but ended up having to close the valve to keep him from going further into the works.  The poor thing lost his long tail, but otherwise seems to have escaped unscathed. That evening, one of the larger tilapia was floating on the surface of the tank dead. We have no idea why.

Then, last Tuesday (July 8) I went out to feed the fish and discovered an inch of water all over the floor of the garden room and water splashing over the top of the fish tank onto the floor.  Much work was required to clean up the mess, and Ornery couldn't figure out why the drain was backing up and not allowing the fish tank water to move through the system.  He decided he must need to make a bigger drain pipe, and off to Lowe's he went to gather supplies. 

After he got home, he took the whole thing apart and discovered that another tilapia had gotten adventurous, but he did not get by as easily as the algae eater did.  This one was dead. Nothing like taking out the whole system when you go!  Anyway, he ended up leaving the same drain pipe there, as it had been working fine before a swimmer went wild.  We really have no idea how they are getting in there as there is a cage type affair covering the opening. They must have some sort of super-powers we are unaware of... or something.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stranger than Fiction

I have always heard that true life is stranger than fiction, and I believe it is true!  Last week one day Ornery came home for lunch and when he pulled into the garage, a van pulled up into the drive right behind him. He didn't recognize the vehicle, or the blond woman who hopped out of the van as soon as he was out of his truck.

"Hi! I'm Linda!" from the perky woman as her children begin to pile out of the vehicle.

Ornery was a little dumbfounded, but being his usual sweet self, smiled and said, "Uh, Hi. I'm Dave." 

He had a very perplexed look on his face, but the woman was quite confident when she said, "Your wife is selling an Air Conditioner, and I am here to pick it up."


"I think you must have the wrong address. I am sure my wife is not selling an air conditioner."

"Oh!  They told me to follow the red pick up!"


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Traveling Letter Journal

I have two pen-friends who are both interested in art and pen-pal letters.  We all connected via swap-bot, although I had met Karen on Instagram. Over the last several months, we have done a variety of collaborations, and recently embarked on a new one.  Beth bought a small journal and we are each going to write in it, preferably with doodles and whimsical writing as well.  Here were my first couple of pages.

 This first one is doodles and paint. I used glaze gel pens by Sakura for the doodles, and Twinkling H2O watercolors for the fill-in.
And this is the finished spread.  I did one more page, but it is all writing, so I didn't post it. The journal will travel around to each of us, and we will get to read what the others wrote, then add a message to both of them. We still write regular letters as well, but this is a fun little adventure, especially with all the fancy lettering and doodles. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Playing with Alcohol Inks

A few posts back I mentioned that I needed to add one more page to my friend's art journal.  This is the page I did using alcohol inks and canned air on glossy paper.  I added some gel pen accents.

Here is a closer view in which you can see a bit more detail.  I just love this stuff!  The colors are so vibrant and rich.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Checkbook Covers for Mom

I don't know very many people who still carry a checkbook for everyday business. Ornery's mom is one of them, and she asked if I would make her a new one as the old one was wearing out.  So, here are the two I made for her.

How handy that both her first and last names begin with M. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mail, Mail and More Mail!

I have been getting more and more creative with my outgoing mail.  I love to write letters, almost as much as I love receiving them!  Below is a photo of a little booklet letter I made.  The cover picture is a color copy of a page from my first art journal back when I started painting with twinkling h2O watercolors.  I folded the booklet so each page is a little inset from the next, and then put washi tape on each edge so it shows all the styles when the booklet is closed.  I sewed the binding with some sparkly DMC floss, and I stamped some flowers on each of the pages with different shades of purple ink.  I glued the recipient's initial on the front cover (which unfortunately I had forgotten until after I had it all sealed inside the envelope!)

The envelopes below are all for the Secret Snail Mail Society I am a part of.  It is a very small group of women who are all interested in sharing mail and mail art. Various members issue challenges and members can participate if they want.  These envelopes are filled with 40 or more little pieces of ephemera from a scavenger hunt challenge.  Much cutting and sorting ensued!

After having two days of NO MAIL this week (I think the postal workers were slacking!) I decided to make a few envies.  This after I realized what a ridiculous amount of scrapbook paper I had sitting on a shelf gathering dust and mites. I think I made 39 envelopes, then I set about using up a bunch of the washi tape samples that seem to be multiplying.  I emptied 14? 17? cards that day.

Here is a sample of one of the envies after I decorated it up. :)

Here are a bunch of them that are ready to go out on Monday.  I am starting to run out of all those stamps I had collected back in the 1990's and early 2000's.  Other than Christmas stamps, I don't have any 37 or 34 cent stamps left.  Still lots of 32 and 33 cents, though.
Hopefully more mail will come in this week than came in last week. It was pretty pitiful!  My count for the year so far of outgoing pieces is 525 counting these that will go tomorrow.  How did that happen??

Once Upon A Time...

I blogged every day!  Do you believe that?  It is true!  My first year of blogging, I ate, talked, dreamed and lived my blog.  I searched all the time for things to take pictures of to make interesting reading.  I even changed a lot of my life around to accommodate my blog and my audience.  Pshaw.  No more of that nonsense!  These days I feel good if I get a post up a week, much less every day.

This is what I have been up to.  Instead of blogging.

This was Monday, I think. That had been the state of my table for weeks!  I would finish one project and before I even cleared everything away, I launched into the next.  It was quite a disaster area!  But, Monday afternoon, I got all caught up with my correspondence (see the next post) and I tackled the mess. 

 I moved the computer desk from the library into this little corner of the studio. Now that my wonderful son-in-law has set up wifi printing capabilities from my computer, I don't have to be right next to the beast in order to print!  I can come and go from the table to the computer, and it is wonderful! :)

 Then I moved the nightstand from the guest room and put it where the little vanity stool was (which is now in our bathroom under the vanity!) and set my sewing machine on it. Actually it is Elizabeth's machine, but she never uses it, and it is stored here... something about possession being 9/10ths of the law. :)

 I organized all sorts of things, except for all the mail in those baskets and bins. :-/  This picture was to show that cool little frame my sister brought to me when she was here in January.  I have had it hung for a few weeks now, but I don't think I ever posted a photo.

 This bookcase was in the corner where the desk is now.  Note the new-to-me typewriter sitting on top! :)  So fun!  I moved all my books and magazines to this shelf unit, and all my art and mail art journals, as well.  The bottom shelf still holds all my printed papers.

This is a view of command-central.  And, a MUCH cleaner table!  Since the photos were taken, I have cluttered things up a bit, but overall, I am keeping it clean. Er. :)