Friday, June 29, 2012

The Kerouac Table

This is table number 4 and I actually remembered to snap some photos before, during, and after. 
Here's the table I found at a local thrift store a few months back:

Step One:  Paint it black.

Step Two: glue the background papers.

Step Three: stamp until your fingers feel numb.

Step Four: cut out stamped words and arrange them, and then you're ready for Step Five: glue the words.  Step Six: apply a coat or two of polyeurethane or a sealant, and you're done. Looks like this:

I like the simplicity of the white tones of the vintage dictionary pages against the black.  And I love this quote from On The Road.  Good thing I love it, because that's a lot of stamping!

This table is traveling with me this weekend to beautiful Winterset, Iowa for the Winterset Art Festival this weekend.  It runs all day Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.  This will also be our first family camping trip.  Should be interesting.  FYI, I am not a camper.  I have camped exactly once in my life, many years ago.  No, we're not camping in a tent, but rather in the camper that has been adorning our property since it's (unauthorized) purchase several months ago.  There's a good possibility this may be my last camping trip as well.  We'll see how it goes. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Reading: Pride & Prejudice and beyond

I could easily spend my entire summer sitting on the patio reading.  And it would make me totally happy. 

One of my new year's resolutions was to read more books.  I'm happy to say I'm doing a great job sticking with this resolution! (Note: this year I was clever enough to set resolutions I would enjoy and have no problem following through with.  This makes me feel very proud of myself because I will be able to say I reached my goals.) 

I've read a good variety of books:  a few biographies of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Jennifer Weiner's Best Friends Forever, several of Philippa Gregory's historical novels (love!), the Fifty Shades trilogy (aka the "Mommy Porn;" yes, I admit it!) and a lot of John Jakes: I re-read the North and South trilogy and then read the 8-volume Kent Family Chronicles (loved this series).  But my favorite reads this year have to be the sequels and variations of Pride & Prejudice. 

At first, I was a bit dubious about reading any attempt to imitate and/or continue what I consider to be the best book ever.  As an English major, I am a diehard Jane Austen fan.  My favorite college course a Jane Austen seminar, in which we read all six of her novels and then I got to write a nice long paper about her work.  Yes, that's my idea of fun.  I read P & P on a yearly basis.  I knew there were some sequels and variations out there, but I'd never bothered to check any of them out because I thought they probably weren't worth reading.  During one of my trips to my local Half Price Books, I came upon a few and decided to take a look. 

The first one I picked up was not for me.  It was a variation involving a love affair between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley.  I knew I couldn't muster up the suspension of disbelief necessary to read that story.  But the next one I found was more to my liking: Linda Berdoll's Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife.  It's a little bit naughty, shall we say--but don't we all want to know what happens after Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy say "I do"?  And don't we all envision their marriage as a passionate one?  I think we do.  I think the fact that this book dares to delve into the passion between Elizabeth and Darcy that Ms. Austen hints at but never  reveals is what makes it so fun.  For those of us who have dreamed of finding our own Mr. Darcy, these sequels are a bit like seeing our own fantasies in print.

One thing that all of the sequels and variations have in common is that Mr. Darcy is the man of our dreams.  He is the ultimate romantic hero: his love for Elizabeth is unfailing.  He is strong, smart, and brave, and of course, he's a handsome devil too: a fine figure of a man.  He is everything we have always dreamed of.  None of the books I've read so far have attempted to deviate from the Darcy of our dreams, that is, the Darcy that Miss Austen created over 200 years ago who has so captured the imagination of many generations that writers are still writing about him.  Darcy and Elizabeth are the ideal couple, are they not?  She is pretty and smart, independent and spunky.  He is handsome, rich, and passionate. 

So, if you're like me, and you enjoy living in Miss Austen's world, here are some titles you might enjoy (in no particular order):

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife
Darcy & Elizabeth
The Darcys: The Ruling Passion
This trilogy is by Linda Berdoll. 

Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride by Helen Halstead

The Darcys of Pemberley by Shannon Winslow

Charlotte: Pride & Prejudice Continues  by Karen Aminadra.  This is a sequel, but focuses on the character of Charlotte Lucas following her marriage to the unforgettable and ridiculous Mr. Collins.

Caroline Bingley: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice  by Jennifer Becton (this author has written another title that is on my list to read, entitled Charlotte Collins, not to be confused with the above title).

His Good Opinion: A Mr. Darcy Novel by Nancy Kelley.  This is a re-telling or variation rather than a sequel and I loved it.  Absolutely loved it. 

The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins.  This is the first of a 10-volume series.  I have only read this title so far.  Not my favorite, but enjoyable. 

There are numerous sequels & variations available--and every time I finish one, my Kindle helpfully recommends several more titles for my enjoyment.  Or I find more at the library.  The list is seemingly endless, but that's okay with me.  I like living in my little fantasy world with Mr. Darcy. 

Happy reading. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DIY Recycled Chair

Five years ago this summer, I was out jogging one morning and discovered four chairs sitting on the curb, just about a mile or so away from my house. (Coincidentally, it turns out that these chairs were discarded by my friend Lisa of Abba's Hand Mosaics; I curbed her trash before we ever met.) Obviously I couldn't carry four chairs, so I finished my jog and then drove back in the hubby's monster truck to see if the chairs were still there.  They were.  Just waiting for me, which I took as a sign that they were meant to come home with me.  Which, naturally, did not make the hubby too happy.  My first attempt at repainting one of them was not so successful.  One chair wasn't in such good shape so it ended up in the trash, I think.  A couple sat around in the garage and eventually met the same end. 
But one chair remained.  This is what I did with it.  A few coats of paint to make it pretty.  The chenille pom-pom fabric is a remnant of an old bedspread that belonged to my grandma; I've had it for years and wasn't sure what to do with it, but of course I couldn't throw it away (I still have a good-sized piece left).  As far as recovering the seat, I didn't follow any instructions, I just got out my handy staple gun (love that thing!) and went to work.  I think it turned out all right.  There's another chair waiting for me at my mom's just begging for a makeover.  Stay tuned. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Carroll & Kerouac

Here's what I've been working on this week:
8 x 10 collage on canvas
8 x 8 collage on art board

7 x 14 collage on canvas
7 x 14 collage on canvas.
This one is my favorite.  Because it just might be the story of my life! 
Like a lot of my collages, these are literary quotes.  By two brilliant writers.  Who could both write in circles.  And yet by doing so, capture the truth in a way that nobody else has ever done. 

The biggest challenge in making these?  Getting the gel medium off my hands afterwards!  Where's my Grandma Price and her bar of Lava soap when I need her! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

June Calendar

Yesterday I found a little window of time to put together a calendar page for June.  Another totally unplanned, random collection of tidbits, but I'm happy with it.  The background paper is one I've had for a few years and I love it.  This was actually my last sheet of it, but I squelched my tendency to hoard and cut into it.  The yellow file folder scrap is just that: a scrap that was in a pile leftover from making journal pockets.  The "play. laugh. grow." is from a tv commercial (Play Skool, perhaps?) and I know I've used it before on scrapbook layouts.  I think it's perfect for kid-related layouts.  The polka-dot tape is either Tim Holtz or 7 Gypsies, and the velveteen leaves were purchased from Speckled Egg a few years back; I stuck it on there for a bit of texture.  Cut, stick, and hang it on the wall.  Done.  What I love most about this is the photos.  I am blessed with a photogenic child.  The photo on the left was snapped by me and the one on the right was taken by our good friend Ruth during our recent visit to Eldora.  She had her photos printed and then sent me some in the mail--a wonderful surprise.  I love getting real mail. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer Manifesto

Just discovered this idea on Elise's blog, which I love reading regularly:  The idea is from Ali Edwards (, another of my creative role models.  It's simple and easy, and for me, the point is to get back to the basics about what makes summer the best time of the year.  It's always been my favorite season. 
So here's mine:

1. Play outside.  A lot.
This shouldn't be a problem!  Jacob loves to play outside.  And so do I!
2. Go swimming as much as possible.
I'm hoping to start teaching the little guy how to swim a bit this year.  We'll see how that goes. 
3. Picnics!
4. Road trips.
Jacob and I have taken two road trips in the last three weeks, and fortunately he is a good traveller.  I'm looking forward to exploring more places around Iowa with him this summer.  Seeing things through his eyes makes it new and exciting.
5. Enjoy time with friends & family.
We are looking forward to a visit from my brother and nephews next month.  Jacob can't wait for his big cousins to get here.  And there's also a class reunion looming, which will be a nice opportunity to catch up with old friends.  Which is something I want to do more often. 
6. See a concert at the state fair. 
It's been a while. 
7. Family bike rides.
Daddy needs a little encouragement.  We'll work on it. 

So, pretty simple.  Really just a reminder to have fun and enjoy the summer.  Because that's what it's all about, anyway.  Summer always goes by so fast, and I want to savor every minute of it.  Hope you do the same.  Enjoy your summer.