Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Twelve-Minute-Muse: A Creative Adventure

Several months ago my husband came in from his "seasonal" employment of lawn care and announced he had a new, fun idea for a creative outlet: a podcast. It would be a twelve-minute podcast, highlighting conversations with artists of many kinds--musicians, authors, graphic arts, and on it goes...he even had a title: the Twelve Minute Muse!


I, being always a very supportive and encouraging wife, assumed he had been out in the sun too long and handed him a glass of ice water while murmuring something like, "That's nice, honey."

Well, he did it! The cooler months allowed a break from the lawn care so that he had time to pursue this goal, and so every week for fourteen weeks now he has interviewed, edited, posted, linked, and generally spent SO MUCH ENERGY on this podcast. And it has grown. I am proud of him. Furthermore, it is INTERESTING. He's interviewed some wonderful people; we have learned some inspiring seemingly universal truths about creativity(one being that it CAN be WORK and that's okay!), and we have been motivated to pursue some other creative interests of our own as a family.

I would love if you would give a few minutes(generally about twelve, as the title suggests)to check out this new endeavor. He would be thrilled. Which makes me happier.

Here's an easy link to this week's interview(very interesting musical style and a GREAT love story!)with artist Josh Garrels.

Enjoy, and if you can, leave a comment about the Twelve Minute Muse...and it would be wonderful if you gave him a "Like" on Facebook too! Don't forget to check out past episodes as well!

Thanks, friends!
~april

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A January Morning

As I crawled back into bed at a quarter of six this morning and shivered up against the warm lump of my sleeping husband, I remembered many, many cold mornings growing up in the country. I spent week days –some early mornings if I couldn’t catch the bus at home, and nearly every day of Christmas break—with my grandparents who lived just up the road from us. Their house was a pier-and-beam construct from the late thirties, with no insulation under its oak hardwood floors and heated only with small gas heaters in the kitchen and living room and a fireplace in my pawpaw’s bedroom. It was COLD. To maintain the warmth in the heated rooms, the doors of other rooms were closed tightly and sometimes a towel stuffed underneath to avoid drafts. The main areas affected by this were the dining room—located between the kitchen and living room, and the black-and-white checkered floored hallway which separated the living room from the bathroom. That bathroom itself was very chilly, warmed only by a sunny window on the south side, and I remember slowly turning the old porcelain knobs—anticipating the blast of cold-- and closing the doors carefully and quickly behind me in the chill air. It was a methodical and shocking process to move from one oasis of warmth to another. There were times that the shut-off rooms were cold enough to see my breath in the darkness of early morning.
Old colander with Christmas village light behind it. STARS! 


But then there was the warmth. Is there anything warmer than a room with a fireplace and a huge sofa with a hand-tied crazy quilt to wrap up in near a bookshelf and a sunny window? The red linoleum floor in its bandana print radiated the heat of the fire back into the room as the clock above the mantel chimed the hour with a single DING and the pages of Reader’s Digest rustled in my hands…I read many books in that sunny spot by the window of that room. Dickens in “A Christmas Carol,”  "A Cricket in Times Square," the “Little House” books—snuggling in tighter as I read of Laura and Mary’s snow-drifted quilt under the rafters, thankful for the warmth surrounding me. I read stories of odd diseases(Reader’s Digest!) and strange events and enough comedy features to ensure a lifetime of corny humor…I puzzled over words I didn’t understand and moved on to the next article, content to read my meaning from the context only. I pondered the super colorful and usually abstract artwork on the back covers(these were issues from the 1960’s) and thought of my art lessons that would likely resume in the summer. A perfect warm orb of contentment surrounded me in those days.

The kitchen, of course, was never cold for long. Mawmaw would light the heater and then turn on all the gas burners –one to heat the kettle for the stove-brewed coffee and the other three for heat, and would preheat the oven to make the ever-present biscuits while I watched in awe as she seemed to snap her fingers  and fill the pan. She told me of times when the house was full of kids and she made 40 biscuits every morning before they headed out to work for the day. I couldn’t even think then what 40 biscuits would look like;  as she talked her fingers flew—pressing the Crisco into the super-white, freshly sifted flour, mixing in just enough cold whole milk to moisten and hold it together, patting the lump of dough into an egg-shape and pinching  the biscuits off, turning them in the oil in the pan and nestling them up against one another till the pan looked full to bursting , then tucking them into the blast of heat from the oven till they emerged brown and crunchy around the edges and soft in the middle where they touched and swelled together in rising.
While the oven worked its magic, the coffee was brewed in the aluminum drip pot on the stovetop, bacon was crisped in the frying pan and eggs were dropped in the hot fat till the edges browned and the yolks shone as yellow as the sun outside the window. Somewhere in the activity, grits were boiled and buttered, their whiteness stark against the  margarine melting into golden pools that seemed to mirror the eggs in their fried glory. 

The food went onto the warm plates and then to the green-formica-topped table where Pawpaw quickly prayed and  doused his eggs with a king’s ransom worth of pepper and was finished eating in five bites; a handful of multicolored pills downed with his glass of milk or juice, and he was gone to his man's day. Mawmaw took her time; one biscuit buttered and sopped into the liquid yolks, grits and bacon eaten and then another biscuit crumbled into the sweet-milk coffee left in her cup to be savored with a spoon while we talked about whatever little girls and their grandmothers talk about in the early morning—wondering how mom’s day at work was going, perhaps, or that particular day’s tasks? Maybe we talked about the cat or the cows or the latest wanderings of my imaginary friends. We would finish breakfast and she would clear the kitchen—soaking the dishes in the huge white sink and wiping the table and stovetop, likely  simultaneously starting something for lunch-- while I tried to help by washing the dishes and getting distracted with the lemon-scented soap bubbles, or by making the beds, wrestling with the sheets and quilts and flimsy bedspreads that unforgivingly showed every wrinkle I had unwittingly left in the undercovers. They had to be perfectly smooth so that only the wires from the electric blanket showed through, and then NO SITTING ON THE BED because of possible damage to those wires. I hated the electric blankets. They were part of the delicate web of warmth that was cast over the house in winter, though; each part crucial to the comfort level.
Their anniversary would have been January 8th. 

Remembering all that this morning, I was thankful for the extra quilt on the bed. For the warm body next to me and for wool socks. For the coffee pot that would click on automatically in a few more minutes, and for the memories that warm me just as much as the oven will when I finally go in to wake up the kitchen for the day.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Craft Studio Summer and Winter

After all the holiday busies slowed down and we actually were able to have some time at home, I knew it was time to FINALLY make the push to get the craft studio in organized order--both so I can work on new projects IN it(to this point it's been only a storage zone and things have still been overrunning the house when we need to craft or sew), and so I could take pictures to show YOU! These first few pictures were taken back in the summer--I didn't quite have everything in there yet, but the light was so pretty that day, and it looked pretty neat on the organizational level, so here's the (Louisiana!)summer's vs.winter's day contrast.


 The porch we closed in is almost 18 feet long and just over seven feet deep; obviously it makes for a long, skinny room. We tried to keep the "porch" and "old house" feel by closing it in with salvaged doors. Since the view from my bedroom windows now is into the studio, it's really nice that the glass keeps the backyard squirrel action visible and lets in quite a bit of light.

This corner hasn't changed  much since summer; it is designated as the paper crafts and beading side of the room. I would like to put a small rug down here in front of the white cubbies as a place to sit and work OR to help keep beads from bouncing if they're dropped. It would also cozy up the tea station which is in this corner(See the mushroom cookie jar? It's perfect for out here!).
 This end of the room is the sewing station. Since the summer I've moved things down a bit and added another bookshelf in the corner. More storage, though I love the versatility the pegboards provide, I also need shelf space  for patterns and books and tchotchkes!
 More details of sewing stuff. I had fun amassing the years of odd accumulations of stuff to use in this space. It's fun and quirky!
 My window seat has hinged storage underneath. I love sitting here and watching the birds almost right overhead in the trees.
 This little door--which admits a TON of light, ladybugs, and lizards-- leads to the newly-fenced and soon-to-be garden area! I am excited since this side yard is totally fenced with privacy panels--I dislike feeling "watched" when I'm gardening! C has already been drawing up shmancy plans for the space--she forgets we have NO budget for it at this point. 
The side yard--on a true Louisiana winter day. It was misty-moist and COLD(well, for us!) when this picture was taken a couple of weeks ago.
Here's a good picture of my sweet little picket fence Hubby has installed. It's so charming I almost wish it were in the front yard! :) Hopefully it will keep the marauding chickens out--I love them, but they do wreak havoc on blossoms and young veggies!

 Contrast of the light in winter when it's hazy from the summer picture above. :) I prefer this weather, by the way!
 This corner again; it has changed slightly as I have moved things around. I did get around to hanging a shadow box in that huge empty white space.
 It cheered it right up!
 And here is my sewing corner, revised. I added the tall brown shelf my daddy built for my books in college(it was sized perfectly for carting up and down dormitory stairs!). I also hung some more things and covered the worktable(a luan door bought just for the project--needs to be sealed because it sheds red dust). The vinyl tablecloth adds more color and will keep my fabrics from snagging or getting dusty on the wood.

Of course, I didn't show you the storage on either side of the window built-ins. Those are shelf units that hold all sorts of sewing things and patterns and books and gift wrap; I don't have those "prettied" yet, and I plan to put curtains over them to help hide the crowding, but they are FULL and work well. The studio is a blessing from my hubby--I'm so thankful and blessed that he makes my interests a priority.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my little space! 
Hugs,
~april

Having fun along with:



A New Birdie-Baby

"I'm perfectly happy right now."

"Tilney, three days is plenty of time to get excited!"(about Christmas! and helping unwrap gifts!)

These are words I heard in the car on our way home on Dec. 22nd after adding a new member to the family. 

Meet Darcy-Tilney-Bilbo-Bertie the bird...."Birdie" for everyday reference. 


It took months after we felt we were ready for a new cockatiel before we could FIND one. This little fella is super sweet.

J has a new buddy!

~april