Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas To All

More evenings spent getting in the Holiday mood this last weekend.
We experienced a few more light festivals.
We took in the Oregon Zoo Lights - a festival I haven't attended
for over 20 years as.
My, my, my - that little light festival has certainly grown up!
We treated ourselves to dinner out one night and dessert on another.
We listened to beautiful choirs and attended a Christmas concert.
Santa's helper (disguised as my husband) wrapped presents while I completed some last minute orders.
We sat on the couch in front of our tree and watched Christmas movies.
I think I am officially "in the mood".
I wish I could have felt that way about 2 weeks ago -
Then I wouldn't be feeling like I have to go without sleep over the next few days
while I try to finish everything up -
but I will take what I can get at this point.
I will trust that everything will work out just as it always does.
I don't know that there will be another post before the holiday . . .so just in case -
may you all be blessed with peace and happiness.
May you all feel the spirit of the season, whatever your beliefs are.
May we all remember to carry the feeling of love and generosity on into the new year.
May you be surrounded with people that you love.
Merry Christmas . . .

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Lights of the Season

Now that the Holiday shows are complete, it's time to engage in some Christmas magic of my own.
This truly is my favorite time of year.
I just can't get enough.
I'm not talking about the chaos - I could do without that for sure.
But the lights, the music, the cold walks outside, the wonderful yearly activities . . .the MAGIC!
It really does feel like magic to me.

Last night we attended the Grotto Festival of Lights.

I remember the first year I attended this festival. My oldest daughter was 4 and my son was 2.
My husband was working at a job that required crazy hours into the night.
I wanted to do fun things, but found myself sitting at home feeling sorry for myself.
Afterall - I couldn't do these events by myself. I had small children.

And then, I realized - that attitude was going to lead to a very dull existance. So I packed myself and the kids up and we headed out for some magic.

The Grottw features all kinds of lights decorating the property, choirs perform every hour, a petting area and a spirit of Christmas that can't be explained.

Our youngest daughter now gets to sing in the HS choir and they performed last night. The performances are in a large Catholic chapel with stone floors and walls, high ceilings and some of the best accoustics around.
Every year, I look for the angels that seem to be singing with the choirs.

As we strolled throughout the grounds, I was reminded again of the meaning of the season.
It felt good.
It felt magical.
It felt peaceful.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where Has Laurie Gone?

Has anyone seen Laurie? She is tall, short dark hair, dark eyes, generally a happy person. . .She seems to have gone missing.

With the craziness of the last month, some things had to be neglected and this blog was certainly one of them. We have been crazy busy in the studio, at home, and with work and family. Sleep has become a "if there is time" part of the day. More than one mini-breakdown has occured. It has not been a pretty sight.

But we have successfully completed the Holiday shows, made our way through Thanksgiving, and are well on our way to Christmas and the New Year. My number 1 man and I have spent many, many hours talking about our needs, wants and goals. We have come up with plans and new directions to pursue. I am happy with the progress that we are making.

So here is a quick run-down . . .

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family.
Our day started with our family tradition of turkey bowling.
Now I know that for most people, that implies a muddy game of football. But neither my husband or myself have any patience for the game. We neither watch or play football. Instead, we went bowling . . .
We started this tradition several years ago when we found ourselves alone on Thanksgiving day. All of the extended family had gone out of town. Once the turkey was cooking, my children looking sad and destitute.
So we did what any loving parent would do. . .
We loaded them in the car and headed for the nearest bowling alley.
We were one of 2 or 3 other families rolling our balls down the lanes.
And the tradition has stuck for nearly about 10 years now. And it has grown to include at least 2 other families. We laugh at our pathetic skills (I only bowl once a year!), we do our best to distract each other, and we peruse the sale ads in order to plot out our shopping for the next day. A good time . . .
Even the youngest got in on the act . . .

Later in the day, we joined together with extended family and gathered around the table for our Thanksgiving feast.

Next on the calendar was our trip to Seattle for the Phinney Winterfest. This is one of our favorite shows.
The sale is well attended, fantastic artists attend, and we get to blend our time with a visit to Seattle, Washington. Although most of the time is spent working, we did manage to enjoy a few new restaurants.
Our favorite was a little cafe called Chocolati.
We stumbled onto this little jewel after a wonderful dinner up the street. Having seen Chooclati on our way to the restaurant, we made it a point to "save room for dessert"!

We ordered a plate of 4 truffles and delicately cut them in half. A small taste for each of us. They were chocolate covered cashews, peanut butter and chocolate, mocha and my favorite . . .a cinnamon chocolate truffle. Heaven!

To compliment our truffles, we indulged in a European style hot cocoa spiced with cayenne pepper.
Oh my!!!!
We watched the barista spoon ladels of thick dark semi-sweet chocolate into the bottom of the cup. Then he poured steamed milk in and topped it with ample whipped cream.
Truly one of the richest things I have ever tasted.
The first sip was sweet and chocolatey . . .then at the last moment a hit of heat from the cayenne lit up the back of the tongue.
A perfect combination.
But oh so rich - we ordered only one small cup to share and had a hard time finishing it.
Highly recommended

After Seattle, we headed to Salem for the Salem Holiday Market.
This was the first year we participated in this event but it definitely won't be our last.
Salem was very welcoming of our designs.

The rest of our season will be spent filling custom orders.
And enjoying the Christmas season.
We will see lights, and wrap presents and spend time with family.
Now it is on to the next project . . .

Monday, November 1, 2010

Studio Goings-On. . .

Life in my studio has been crazy busy! I have a long list of custom pieces I have been working on and was able to complete a few of them this weekend. These were FUN! Both were so unique for me - the first . . .

Lazy Susans. . .

Now granted - Lazy Susans are not a new item for me. In fact this one is similar to designs I have done
before. And it is a standard lazy susan. But this one . . .

 is different. Although you can't tell by the photo, this one is over 2 1/2 times larger than the standard piece.
It was like painting on a large canvas.
So enjoyable!
So fulfilling!!
The customer had recently bought a new table and chairs set and this was included.
This thing weighs about 25 pounds and is solid.
What fun it was!

This next project was truly unique.
The customer did a great job visualizing what could be . . .
After buying a new home, she has been working on remodeling her kitchen. She has found that she doesn't have a place for a garbage can.
And we all know how attractive garbage cans are.
Through some thrift shopping, she found a tall wooden box.
My guess is this was originally used as a potatoe bin or something like that.
It's sturdy and solid.
But it was . . .shall we say . . .ugly!

I don't think it is so ugly now. . .

I would love to have this sitting out in my kitchen.

On a sadder note . . .

this past weekend we said goodbye to a member of our family.
Murphy was our 14 1/2 year old Golden Retriever.
He lived a wonderful, full life and filled our home with unconditional love, loyalty, and laughs.
These last years, as he has aged, he body began to let him down.
His spirit was still that of a puppy -
but his was aging.
We made the difficult decision that it was time.
It truly was a very difficult decision and one that every member of our family weighed in on.
I remember bringing him home as a 15 pound puppy - golden and covered in a his fluffy puppy fur.
His first night in our home I held him and rocked him like a baby.
I slept on the couch, my hand rubbing his tummy in his box, so that he could adjust from being away from his mommy.
He was one of the most loyal animals I have known.
He seemed to think of our children as his own and didn't care where he was, as long as he was with one of us.
He will be missed.
And he will forever remain in my heart.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Sneak Preview . . .

So - here are some examples of some of the treats I will be showing to the managers of the various Made in Oregon Stores.
I also am looking forward to a few items making their way north to the Tacoma area. (More details on that later). 
And some of these can be found in Corvallis at Botticelli's .
Hope you enjoy the show . . .

Lazy Susans . . .

magnets . . .

8 x 8 plaques . . .

9 x 9 mirrors . . .

Long and short boards (these are the short boards - approximately 4 1/2" x 18". Long boards are 24" long). . .

Nothing like a little color to brighten the day.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some "Me" Time

We traveled to Sisters, Oregon for our Harvest Festival - is it any wonder why I love this part of Oregon?  Every time I travel over there I am filled with a desire to relocate.
The sky is expansive,
the mountains are magnificent,
the high desert landscape seems to go on forever,
and some of the most beautiful sunsets are seen on a regulat basis.
I wonder if the people who live there come to take it for granted?

Our sale was all right - Sisters experienced some rather odd weather - but we enjoyed talking to those the braved the elements. And it was still a lovely "mini" vacation.

After returning from Sisters - I traveled to the Oregon Coast.
Is it any wonder that I love where I live? From my home, I can be in entirely different landscapes in a manner of 2 1/2 hours. From desert to ocean.
This trip was about rest and relaxation.
Recharging my batteries.
Bonding with my mother.
Just the two of us -
enjoying a delightful escape and some of the most beautiful weather I have experienced at the Coast in a long time.
The Oregon Coast has plenty of sun - but it is usually accompanied by strong, cold winds -
but if you are lucky enough to be there during an Indian Summer . . .ahhhh.
Those are the days that I live for . . .

And this little seagull was enjoying the evening at the beach as much as we were.
He decided he needed to go get some firewood and s'more supplies for a little evening fun!

Now it is back to reality. Yesterday I experienced a bit of "reentry shock" as I returned to my day job and the day extended into the 8:30 pm hour.

The rest of my week-long escape was spent at home catching up with friends.
Long telephone conversations
Long lunches
Long sessions of laughter
And a few long naps and time spent with my journal.
I spent time on my deck, soaking up the warm sun.

We celebrated milestones -

(he even blew these out with one quick breath!)

And the last night of my week off - we prepared for the upcoming busy-ness with a roaring fire in our backyard.
The night air was clear and cold.
The fire was warm and glowing.
Watching the coals and the flames is rather hypnotic.

Stay tuned - we are preparing our prototypes to take into Made In Oregon. If all goes well, product will be available throughout the state by the Holidays.

Enjoy these last beautiful days of fall. At least in my part of the world, I am sure the rains will be here before we know it and I will be longing for the sunshine again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

I feel like I have dropped off the face of the planet over the last few weeks - and if you judge my existance by this blog, that assumption would be correct.
I have been buried in the studio over the last few weeks working on all sorts of exciting things. And of course, real life exists too.
There have been birthday dinners, family events, homework help, my day job and of course life necessities like chores, grocery shopping, sleep . . .
But as of today, I am beginning to emerge and only slightly worse for the wear. So what exactly has been dominating my time? 
Well - thank you for asking!

We are gearing up for our fall and winter holiday sales. We don't have a lot - but they are heavy hitters for us. The summer kind of wiped us out, so we really are trying to rebuild our inventory. And because we don't do anything the easy way - we have been working on redesigning a few of our best sellers - the plaques and mirrors. In the past, we have relied on an outside source to purchase the raw product and then we have created the magic. But now we are creating our own from raw wood and only have to rely on ourselves. I like that much better - and I am much happier with the end result!

We are heading to Sisters, Oregon this weekend to take part in the Sisters Harvest Festival. This is a big show that takes over the town of Sisters. Wonderful art and music and food - great fun.
Unfortunately, the weather report is not looking good - so if you are so inclined a few prayers and positive thoughts our direction would be most appreciated!
 This is our last outdoor sale of the year. Last the skies were clear and beautiful cool. I am hoping that the rain stays away just for a few more days - but if not, we are Oregonians and I learned years ago, we don't melt!

We have wonderful news - we have just placed our items in a new store - Boticelli's Functional Gifts in Corvallis. We delivered a nice supply of bright and whimsical mirrors and plaque this week. If you are in the Corvallis area - check it out.
We are also working on an order for Made In Oregon stores. We should have items in about 5 of their stores throughout the state by the Holidays.
And we are talking with a few more stores in Washington and Oregon that we will be settling up with and making deliveries of products by mid-November.  Alot of information, I know -

In real life . . .
I feel sad and melancholy as I watch the days rapidly shortening and I know that summer is officially over.
But I do love the golden days of fall - the way the light seems to glow and glisten off the trees, the crisp feel of the air and the cool temperatures at night.
 But I dread the gray of winter.
So instead - I will focus on the warmth and coziness of the long nights spent with friends, family and extended family around the table . . .

 cozying up for a lazy afternoon nap . . .
And remembering - that summer will be back again,
 so in the meantime -
 I will try to do my best to reflect those days by carrying the sunshine with me where ever I go.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's finished!!!!
The big project is completed. As you can see - it is an entertainment center. The doors on the top cover 3 shelves, the doors on the botton cover 2 shelves. The television fits in the black opening. The cabinet was custom made for my clients and it fits snugly in a corner.
It stands over 7 feet high.
I am so happy with the finished product - pictures do not begin to do it justice.
I know this was a commissioned piece . . but do you think they would notice if I never gave it back to them?  I really like it :)

In other news - we have a new location to display some of our wonderful designs . . .
Lillian's is a new natural food store in downtown Gresham. Be sure and check it out if you are in the area. We have pieces for sale that are perfect for gifts.
And they kind of add a nice little bling to the walls - don't you think?