Friday, December 26, 2008

The Marie Antionette
Real Person Award

Wendy at sent me the sweetest email saying that because she loved my blog so much she had nominated myStoryART for The Marie Antoinette, Real Person, A Real Award. WOW! I am on a roll LOL... two awards in December! Thanks sooo much Wendy. I was very touched by your lovely email and the award.

Here are the rules for this award . . .

1. Please put the logo on your blog.

2. Place a link to the person from whom you received the award.

3. Nominate at least 7 or more blogs.

4. Put the links of those blogs on your blog.

5. Leave a message on their blogs to tell them.

My nominations are:

My art friend and stained glass whiz Mar

My other art friend and ultra talented group Mom at the Latest Trends, Cindy (if you haven't bought her book that she co-authored with three other very talented artists, you are really missing out! Use some of your Xmas money and run, not walk, to get it at Cindy's site)

My "Digital Art" at its finest and photoshop guru bud, Christy (check out her "Graphics This" link on her blog and just drool!)

Even though Norma Kooi does not have a blog, I love her work! Take a peek here to see some of the fantastic collages and altered art Norma does!

Another artist who does some fantastic art I enjoy is Teesha Moore. You can find her work here.

Congratulations ladies!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Tale for You - A Gift from Saint Nicholas

A Gift from Saint Nicholas as retold byS. E. Schlosser (adapted for telling by Sharon House)

Claas Schlaschenschlinger was a wealthy cobbler who lived on New Street in New Amsterdam (today... New York City). He was a contented bachelor who could afford eight - eight mind you! - pairs of breeches and he had a little side business selling geese. He cut quite a figure in New Amsterdam society.

Now Claas was happy being a bachelor until he met the fair Anitje! She was as pretty and fair as a picture, and Claas fell head over heels in love with her. He was not her only suitor, by any means. The local burgermeister (mayor) was also courting the fair Anitje. But, alas, the burgermeister was a stingy, hard man, and in the end, Anitje gave her heart and hand to Claas.

Now at first, Claas and Anitje were very happy and prosperous, raising geese and children. But the burgermeister was a vengeful sort of fellow, who began a series of "improvements" to the local neighborhood, charging highly for each one, until all their money was gone. The arrival of a blacksmith who repaired shoes with hob nails, so that the shoes lasted a year or more, left Claas, Anitje and their six children as poor as church mice.

One Christmas Eve found the Schlaschenschlinger family down to their last, cold meal of bread and cheese. Claas was wondering what he had left to sell, in order to feed his family. Suddenly he remembered a fine pipe that he had found in one of his stockings on a long ago Christmas morning in Holland. Now this was a fine pipe, too good for a mere cobbler. Claas knew even then that such a gift could only be from Saint Nicholas himself.

Claas leapt up and went to dig through an old chest until he found the pipe. As he unearthed it from under a pile of clothes, a draft of cold air came from the open front door. Claas scolded his children for playing with the door and went to close it. But there, standing in the doorway was a merry, round figure of a stranger.

"Thank you, thank you, I will come in out of the cold," said the man, stomping in the door and taking a seat by the poor excuse for a fire that blazed in the hearth.

The family gathered around the white bearded old fellow as he tried to warm himself. He scolded them roundly for not keeping the fire hot, and when Claas admitted that they had nothing left to burn, the old man broke his fine rosewood cane in two and threw it on the fire.

The cane blazed up merrily, heating the whole room. The fire was so hot that the hair of the cat was singed! The cat leaped away with a cry of indignation, making everyone laugh.

It was hard to be sober around this merry old man, who made sly jokes, told riddles, and sang songs. After sitting for half an hour with the family, the old man began rubbing his stomach and gazing wistfully at the cupboard.

"Might there be a bite to eat for an old man on this Christmas Eve?" he asked Anitje.

She blushed in shame and admitted there was nothing left in their cupboard.

"Nothing?" said he, "Then what about that fine goose right there?"

Anitje gasped, for suddenly the smell of a tenderly roasted goose filled the room. She ran to the cupboard, and there was a huge goose on a platter! She also found pies and cakes and bread and many other good things to eat and drink.

Her children shouted in delight, and the whole family feasted merrily, with the little white bearded old man seated at the head of the table.

As they ate, Claas showed the old man the pipe he meant to sell.

"Why that pipe is a lucky pipe," said the old man, examining it closely. "Smoked by John Calvin himself, if I am not mistaken. You should keep this pipe all your days and hand it down to your children."

Finally, the church bells tolled midnight, and the little old man cried: "Midnight! I must be off!"

Claas and Anitje begged him to stay and spend Christmas with them, but, he just smiled merrily at them and strode over to the chimney.

"A Merry Christmas to you all, and a Happy New Year!" he cried. And then he disappeared straight up the chimney!

The next morning, when Anitje was sweeping the fireplace, she found a huge bag full of silver, bearing the words "A Gift from Saint Nicholas".

Suddenly they heard a clamor of voices outside their house. When Claas and Anitje went to investigate, they discovered their wooden house was now made of brick!

Now, as you can imagine, at first the townsfolk thought they were in league with a wizard but when Claas told them the story and showed them the new possessions and riches left to them by the old man, they made him the town alderman.

The transformed "Dutch House" in New York City remained a landmark for many years following the death of Claas and Anitje.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Tale for You - The Three Purses

A Legend about the good Saint Nicholas by William S. Walsh (adapted for telling by Sharon House)

Now, when the good Saint Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, there were among his people three beautiful maidens, daughters of a nobleman. Their father was so poor that he could not afford to give them dowries. Now in those times and in that land, no maid could marry without a dowry so these three lovely young maidens could not wed the youths who loved them.

The poor nobleman. Things did not go well for him and finally he became so very poor that he no longer even had money with which to buy food or clothes for his daughters. He was overcome by shame and sorrow as his daughters wept continually for they were both cold and hungry.

One day, just before Christmas, Saint Nicholas heard of the sad state of this noble family. So that very night, when the maidens were asleep, and the father was watching, sorrowful and lonely, Saint Nicholas took a handful of gold, and, tying it in a purse, set off for the nobleman's house. Creeping quietly and silently up to the open window, he threw the purse into the chamber, so that it fell on the bed of the sleeping maidens.

The father picked up the purse. When he opened the pouch, he discovered the gold. He rejoiced greatly and awakened his daughters. He gave most of the gold to his eldest child for a dowry. The very next day she wed the young man whom she loved with all her heart.

A few days later Saint Nicholas filled another purse with gold, and, as before, went by night to the nobleman's house and tossed the purse through the open window. Thus the second daughter was enabled to marry the young man whom she loved.

Now, the nobleman felt very grateful to the unknown one who threw purses of gold into his room. He longed to know who his benefactor was so he could thank him. So the next night he watched beneath the open window. And when all was dark, lo! good Saint Nicholas came for the third time, carrying a silken purse filled with gold, and as he was about to throw it on the youngest maiden's bed, the nobleman caught him by his robe, and said:

"Oh good Saint Nicholas! why do you hide yourself thus?"

And he knelt down and kissed the saint's hands and feet. Now Saint Nicholas, overcome with confusion at having his good deed discovered, begged the nobleman to tell no man what had happened.

Thus the nobleman's third daughter was enabled to marry the young man whom she loved; and she and her father and her two sisters lived happily for the remainder of their lives.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa's on his way! Track his journey in 3D...

Christmas isn't just for kids! Every Christmas Eve I track Santa's journey around the earth with NORAD, the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the United States and Canada. Kids love this site but so do adults... and this year you can even track Santa on his journey with google earth. So for some fun for the kids and you... visit NORAD and perhaps even start a family tradition!

Happy Holidays...


A Tale for you - The Fairy Tulips...

Even though the English folktale, "The Fairy Tulips" is not a Christmas tale, it is a lovely story nonetheless. For me, it conjures up beautiful imagery as I hear or read it for it is a tale of love, caring and goodness... A tale we can all appreciate as our families gather together to celebrate this holiday season.

Each Christmas, I choose a tale to tell to my family as we gather together on Christmas Eve. It has become a wonderful tradition and everyone looks forward to "this year's story"! This year, I have chosen this story to be my Christmas Eve tale.

Perhaps you could start a similar tradition this year by choosing a favourite story from one of the stories you will find here in the next few days or another story that speaks to your heart and you would like to share with your loved ones.

Have a lovely Christmas everyone!

Check back on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and January 1, 2009 for more tales!


Once upon a time there was a good old woman who lived in a little house. She had in her garden a bed of beautiful striped tulips.

One night she was wakened by the sounds of sweet singing and of babies laughing. She looked out at the window. The sounds seemed to come from the tulip bed, but she could see nothing.

The next morning she walked among her flowers. But she could find no signs of any one having been there the night before.

On the following night she was again wakened by sweet singing and babies laughing. She rose and stole softly through her garden. The moon was shining brightly on the tulip bed, and the flowers were swaying to and fro. The old woman bent down and looked closely. What a beautiful sight she saw. Standing by each tulip, was a little Fairy mother crooning and rocking the flower like a cradle, while in each tulip cup lay a little Fairy baby laughing and playing.

The good old woman stole quietly back to her house. From that time on she never picked a tulip, nor did she allow her neighbors to touch the flowers.

The tulips grew daily brighter in color and larger in size, and they gave out a delicious perfume like that of roses. They began, too, to bloom all the year round. And every night the little Fairy mothers caressed their babies and rocked them to sleep in the flower cups.

The day came when the good old woman died. The tulip bed was torn up by folks who did not know about the Fairies. They planted parsley in the garden instead of the flowers. But the parsley withered and died and so did all the other plants in the garden. From that time on, nothing would grow in the garden.

But the good old woman's grave grew beautiful. The Fairies sang above it, and kept it green. And on the grave of the old woman and all around it there sprang up tulips, daffodils, and violets, and other lovely flowers of spring.

Happy Holidays,


Friday, December 19, 2008

A Christmas Tale for You - The Christmas Fairy of Strasburg


This is a German folktale by J. Stirling Coyne that I have adapted for telling...

ONCE, long ago, there lived near the ancient city of Strasburg, on the river Rhine, a young and handsome count. His name was Otto. As the years flew by he remained unwed, and never so much as cast a glance at the fair maidens of the country. For this reason people began to call him "Stone-Heart."

One Christmas eve, Count Otto ordered that a great hunt should take place in the forest surrounding his castle. He, his guests and his many retainers rode forth into the forest. The chase became more and more exciting. It led through thickets, and over pathless tracts of forest, until at length Count Otto found himself separated from his companions.

He rode on by himself until he came to a spring of clear, bubbling water, known to the people around as the "Fairy Well." Here Count Otto dismounted. He bent over the spring and began to wash his hands in the sparkling tide. To his wonder he found that though the weather was cold and frosty, the water was warm and delightfully caressing. He felt a glow of joy pass through his veins. He plunged his hands deeper into the water. All of a sudden, he fancied that his right hand was grasped by another, soft and small, which gently slipped from his finger the gold ring he always wore. And, lo! when he drew out his hand, the gold ring was gone.

Full of wonder at this mysterious event, the count mounted his horse and returned to his castle. He resolved that the very next day he would have the Fairy Well emptied by his servants.

He retired to his room. Throwing himself upon his couch, he tried to sleep but the strangeness of the adventure kept him restless and wakeful the whole night through.

Suddenly he heard the baying of the watch-hounds in the courtyard. Then he heard the creaking of the drawbridge, as though it were being lowered. Next came the patter of many small feet on the stone staircase. To his utter dismay, he heard the sound of light footsteps in the chamber adjoining his own.

Count Otto sprang from his couch at the ready. As he did, there sounded a strain of delicious music. He flung the door of his chamber open. Hurrying into the next room, he found himself in the midst of hundreds of Fairy beings, clad in gay and sparkling robes. They paid no heed to him, but began to dance, and laugh, and sing, to the sound of mysterious music.

In the center of the room stood a splendid Christmas Tree, the first ever seen in that country. Instead of toys and candles, the lighted boughs were filled with diamond stars, pearl necklaces, bracelets of gold with colored jewels, ornaments of rubies. sapphires and feathers, silken belts embroidered with Oriental pearls, and daggers mounted in gold and studded with the rarest gems. The whole tree swayed, sparkled, and glittered in the radiance of its many lights.

Count Otto stood speechless, gazing at all this wonder. Suddenly the Fairies stopped dancing and fell back, to make room for a lady of dazzling beauty who came slowly toward him.

She wore a golden crown of jewels on her raven-black tresses. Her hair flowed down upon a robe of rosy satin and creamy velvet. She stretched out two small, white hands to the count and addressed him in sweet, alluring tones: --

"Dear Count Otto," said she, "I come to return your Christmas visit. I am Ernestine, the Queen of the Fairies. I bring you something you lost in the Fairy Well."

And as she spoke, she drew from her bosom a golden casket, set with diamonds, and placed it in his hands. He opened it eagerly and found within his lost gold ring.

Carried away by the wonder of it all, and overcome by an irresistible impulse, the count pressed the Fairy Ernestine to his heart, while she, holding him by the hand, drew him into the magic mazes of the dance. The mysterious music floated through the room, and the rest of the Fairy company circled and whirled around the Fairy Queen and Count Otto. Gradually they dissolved into a mist of many colors, leaving the count and his beautiful guest alone.

Count Otto forgot about all his former coldness toward the maidens of the country. He fell on his knees before the Fairy and besought her to become his bride. At last she consented on the condition that he should never speak the word "death" in her presence.

The next day the wedding of Count Otto and Ernestine, Queen of the Fairies, was celebrated with great pomp and magnificence, and the two continued to live happily for many years.

Now it happened that the count and his Fairy wife were to hunt in the forest around the castle. The horses were saddled and bridled, and standing at the door, the company waited. The count paced the hall in great impatience waiting for the Fairy Ernestine to arrive. But she tarried long in her chamber. At length she appeared at the door of the hall, and the count addressed her in anger.

"You have kept us waiting so long," he cried, "that you would make a good messenger to send for Death!"

Scarcely had he spoken the forbidden and fatal word, when the Fairy, uttering a wild cry, vanished from his sight. In vain, Count Otto, overwhelmed with grief and remorse, searched the castle and the Fairy Well. He could find no trace of his beautiful, lost wife. Only the imprint of her delicate hand set in the stone arch above the castle gate.

Years passed by, and the Fairy Ernestine did not return. The count continued to grieve.
Every Christmas Eve he set up a lighted tree in the room where he had first met the Fairy, hoping in vain that she would return to him.

Time passed and the count died. The castle fell into ruins. But to this day may be seen above the massive gate, deeply sunken in the stone arch, the imprint of a small and delicate hand.

And such, say the good folk of Strasburg, was the origin of the Christmas Tree.

Happy Holidays,


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Story Time......

As Christmas nears, I've decided to share with you some of my favourite Christmas stories. Here's the first in a series of lovely stories for you to savour, enjoy and cheer you. It is my holiday gift to all of you and a gentle reminder to take a moment to count our blessings and find hope for the future in spite of all the topsy turvy we are living through in this world this holiday season...

BY HORACE E. SCUDDER (adapted by Sharon House for telling)

THERE was once an honest shoemaker who worked very hard. Still, he could not earn enough money to live on. At last, all he had in the world was gone except just leather enough to make one pair of shoes. He cut these out at night, and meant to rise early the next morning to make them up.

His heart was light in spite of his troubles. His conscience was clear. He was a good and kindly man. So he went quietly to bed, left all his cares to God, and fell asleep. In the morning he said his prayers, and sat down to work. He looked at his work table in surprise. For there, to his great wonder, stood the shoes, already made, upon the table.

The good man knew not what to say or think. He looked at the work. There was not one false stitch in the whole job. All was neat and true.

That same day a customer came in, and the shoes pleased him so well that he readily paid a price higher than usual for them. The shoemaker took the money and bought leather enough to make two pairs more. He cut out the work in the evening, and went to bed early. He wished to be up with the sun and get to work.

He was saved all trouble. When he got up in the morning, the work was already done. Pretty soon buyers came in, who paid him well for his goods. So he bought leather enough for four pairs more.

He cut out the work again overnight, and found it finished in the morning as before. So it went on for some time. What was got ready at night was always done by daybreak, and the good man soon was well-to-do.

One evening, at Christmas-time, he and his wife sat over the fire, chatting, and he said: "I should like to sit up and watch to-night, that we may see who it is that comes and does my work for me." So they left the light burning, and hid themselves behind a curtain to see what would happen.

As soon as it was midnight, there came two little Elves. They sat upon the shoemaker's bench, took up all the work that was cut out, and began to ply their little fingers. They stitched and rapped and tapped at such a rate that the shoemaker was amazed. He could not take his eyes off them for a moment.

On they went till the job was done. The shoes stood, ready for use, upon the table. This was long before daybreak. Then the little elves ran away as quick as lightning.

The next day the wife said to the shoemaker: "These little Elves have made us rich, and we ought to be thankful to them, and do them some good in return. I am vexed to see them run about as they do. They have nothing upon their backs to keep off the cold. I'll tell you what we must do. I will make each of them a shirt, and a coat and waistcoat, and a pair of pantaloons into the bargain. You can make each of them a little pair of shoes."

The good shoemaker liked the thought very well. One evening he and his wife had the clothes ready, and laid them on the table instead of the work they used to cut out. Then they went and hid behind the curtain to watch what the little Elves would do.

At midnight the Elves came in and were going to sit down at their work as usual. But when they saw the clothes lying there for them, they laughed and were in high glee. They dressed themselves in the twinkling of an eye, and danced and capered and sprang about as merry as could be, till at last they danced out of the door, and over the green.

The shoemaker saw them no more, but everything went well with him as long as he lived.

Happy Holidays,


Friday, December 12, 2008

Show and Tell time...

The last two weeks have been busy getting ready for Christmas... baking, shopping (ugh! I hate malls!), finishing up projects, wrapping gifts, putting up the tree... and getting some art time in.

There are loads of pictures to show you this week! I've been a busy bee...

Last week, Kim Parkinson held a workshop over on Latest Trends working with metal foil. Well, I have been waiting for what seems like forever, to do this workshop with her. Her project was a holiday card box but I decided to do a frame for one of my favourite photos of our granddaughter with Santa when she was just a few months old.

I had an old frame I didn't like and it was perfect for the project. I created the pattern on my computer and then got to town doing the metal work. Once the pattern was completed, I flipped it over, did some refining, flipped it back over, put Spackle on the back to give it body and let it dry overnight.

I had planned on painting it but when I did, I sure didn't like it! It wasn't my vision of what I wanted at all. I messed around with some more paint, even took some sandpaper to it and it looked even worse.

I was already tearing my hair out and about to kick myself in the derriere when ***bing*** I had an idea. I'd just make it look like old pewter. Well I didn't have a clue as to how that was going to happen, but in the end it did. I am pretty pleased with the results.

Here's a photo of the finished product, an 11 x 14 inch frame with that darling photo of our sweetie pie with Santa...

Well now I was right "into" doing metal. "More, more", said my muse! Never being one to deny my muse ANYTHING (chuckle), I whipped out some more metal and made two more pieces.

The first one is a pattern mold for printing on fabric using Shiva oil sticks. The second is a foam stamp I had. I coloured both of these with alcohol ink... what a pleasure it was to work with that stuff... thank you Tim Holtz!

So now what? Some nice metal pieces but what can I put them on? Oh, I know, I'll put them on a book cover. Hmmm... haven't got one that's big enough! Oh gosh, I guess I'll just have to take one of those old encyclopedia books and make a cover.

Out came the matte medium and old pattern tissue paper. Slap, swish, slop... nice texture! When it was dry, I brushed it with Lumiere (my favourite metallic acrylics) and here is the result..

Of course, I haven't got the pages for the book bound yet... that's going to have to wait until after Christmas now... but it's going to look pretty darn nice when it's finished!

Another project I started and got finished was a fairy jar! This is not normally something I would tackle but it was a gift for a swap friend who loves faeries. I couldn't find any instructions on how to do this so I just figured it out myself. Unfortunately because it is all white and silver it doesn't photograph all that well, but it turned out quite sweet. Even hubby liked it....and that's saying something .. don't ya think??

Here's a close up of the little angel inside. I made her wings out of a drawing that I scanned into the computer and then printed on a transparency.

Nope, not done yet... told you... I was a busy gal this week... I wasn't kidding!

Next project... a paper sculpture! And yes, you guessed right... one of those Reader's Digest Condensed Books is now a very elegant paper sculpture! This photo really doesn't do it justice... the paper is a wonderful vintage shade of ivory going into brown.

Terry Noell, the paper sculpture maven extraordinaire, really inspired me to take a crack at doing a sculpture after watching her photo show. It was fun... after awhile folding the paper becomes a very zen like activity! This sculpture reminds me of an Elizabethan collar... what does it look like to you?

When I was photographing the sculpture, I happened to look at it from above. I was fascinated by how it looked! Isn't this photo, taken from above, neat???

We're into the home stretch now... with the clear glass Christmas balls that had a date with some of my Lumiere paint, some perfect pearls, mica, glitter, "snow", spray adhesive and alcohol blending fluid.

Susan Chong, one of our art Mom's over at Art Techniques just had to go and make some of these just as I was about to clean up my art room! Of course, when I saw hers, I just had to have some too! She has some instructions on her blog if you just have to have some too! I didn't quite follow her "recipes" (remember, I am the one who never follows instructions) but I think they turned out nicely, don't you?

Here are a couple of close ups so you can see them in detail ...

So there you have it! Show and tell for this week... now I really do have to get busy and get my art room tidied up, stuff put away, floors washed, dust bunnies banished, shelves waxed and polished... you get the idea... all before my "out-laws" arrive for Christmas! That will take me at least a week considering the state it is in LOL

I doubt that I can stay away from creating more "stuff" in the next couple of weeks so tune in next week to see what I have been up to! I am sure to find a few little bits and bobs hiding underneath all the stuff on my art table as I am cleaning up that just beg to become a little project!

Thanks for stopping by... hope you enjoyed this week's show and tell. May it inspire you to make a mess in your art room too! Just be naughty... Santa will forgive you if your art room is not pristine!

Happy Arting,


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanks for the Award!

Diane, over at Good Mourning, Glory was a real sweetie... she chose me and mystoryART to receive the Kreativ Blogger award! She has a wicked sense of humour... a gal after my own heart.. so drop on over to pay her a visit and read about some of her escapades!

The rules of this award are pretty straightforward. I am to name 7 things that I love (gosh, only 7!) and pass the award along to 7 deserving bloggers (gosh, only 7... that's going to be tough) .

Seven Things I Love

  1. I love telling stories, reading stories, finding stories (would you have guessed???)
  2. I love making a big mess in my art room. The bigger the mess, the more creative my muse gets!
  3. I love hot apple pie and ice cream.
  4. I love figuring/trying out stuff out on my own. Instructions? What are those? Never read them. Screw up sometimes but the challenge is getting out of it!
  5. I love snuggling on the couch for an afternoon snooze with my little dog Shelby.
  6. I love the beach... anywhere... anytime (well I'll be honest...a cold, windy, rainy winter day at the beach doesn't exactly thrill me!)
  7. I love living in Victoria, B.C. with all its history, natural beauty, mountain views and beaches!

7 deserving bloggers I'd like to pass this reward on to. I enjoy visiting their sites and seeing what they are up to! Hope you do too!

  1. Arlene at Altered By Me
  2. Belinda Schneider
  3. Cyndi Lavin at LayersUponLayers
  4. Elizabeth at Altered Book Lover
  5. Margot Potter at the Impatient Crafter
  6. Michi at Michi Rhymes with Peachy
  7. Stephanie Loomis

Congratulations to these 7 creative ladies...

Thank again Diane. It is an honour and I am truly appreciative!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Memories ... Blog Giveaway Contest Winner

Thank you to everyone who left a holiday memory! What a delight to read... entries that tug at your heartstrings, tiny stories of delight, stories that just left me feeling warm and cozy. I wish I could send a surprise package to all of you!

So I know you are probably very curious to know what is in the package. It's a "grab bag" of ephemera, game pieces and other miscellaneous items to use in your art.

Vintage papers
  • 2 music sheets from from a 1922 school music program book
  • a cover from (what else (grin) a Reader's Digest Condensed Book (1968)
  • a bookplate from a RDCB book (1972) with a matching embossed sheet
  • 3 sheets of German text from a 1932 German novel
  • 1 sheet of Dutch text from a Kahil Gibran book
  • 3 sheets of French-English dictionary pages from a 1919 dictionary
  • sewing pattern tissue from the '60's

** 3 metal embossed squares (I cuddled with my "Bug" for you)
** a small vintage crochet doily from my collection of old doilies
** 2 vintage hankies from my collection
** a small bag of old buttons
** a small bag of puzzle pieces from a '60's puzzle
** a large domino to alter (I drilled it for you)
** 4 RummiKub tiles (drilled these for you too)
** a couple of tickets
** 2 small fabric pieces with vintage images
** an altered tag with "believe" on it
** a double microscope slide holder to alter
** Miscellaneous small stickers and 8 tiny queen of hearts playing card images
** a vintage image, bamboo tile pin that I made
** some pretty wired white ribbon with irresdesant polka dots

The beads and the little doll are not included in the package...I discovered they don't pack well in a large envelope... so I just added some more flatter "stuff" to the package after I took the photo.

And the winner of this holiday "play" package is OPHELIA! Congratulations! Please get in touch with me by Wednesday, Dec. 10, Ophelia so that I can get your package off to you.

Thanks again everyone for playing. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. The smell of evergreen throughout your house. Chocolate surprises in an Advent Calendar. Tasty little morsels of holiday cookies baking in the oven. And remember, when offered some "goodies" to sample by friends, family or colleagues... if someone else made it, it doesn't have any calories.(I wish!!!)

See ya'll again later on this week...


Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Memories ... Blog Giveaway Contest

Last Tuesday my blog hit a milestone with the 10,000th visitor since I started the blog at the end of August this year. Even though a couple of artists got in touch with me, thinking perhaps they had won the "Christmas Surprise" package I had planned for the 10,000th visitor, it turns out that the 10,000th visitor will remain a "mystery".

My "Holiday Surprise" goodie package still wants to brighten someone's day when they receive it in the mail, so here's what we are gonna do...

Leave a treasured holiday memory in the Comments section to this post! You have some time to think about it. This "holiday memory" contest will close on Saturday, December 6 (St. Nicholas Day). The names of those who have left a favourite memory will be put in a santa hat and the winner's name will be drawn. All you'll need to do is to check back starting Dec. 7 to see if you have won and get in touch with me. If I haven't heard from the winner within three days, another name will be drawn. So please remember to check back.

Here are some of my favourite memories to help get you into the spirit ...

It can be a Christmas memory from your childhood, perhaps a toy you received that you just loved. I still remember the doll I received when I was five. Oh, I just loved that doll to bits. We went on many adventures together over the course of a couple of years. It was a sad day when she finally fell apart from so much lovin' and had to go to doll heaven.

It can be a holiday memory from your teenage years. I met my first, really serious boyfriend at a New Year's Eve dance. It was THE enchanted evening that many a teenage female with raging hormones dreams about (na, you're not going to get the details LOL). You know, the day when Prince Charming finally arrives to sweep her off her feet! He did too... for about two years....wonder where he is now?

Perhaps it is a humourous memory of a family Holiday dinner... like the time my Dad asked my little brother to say grace before we "attacked" the turkey.

Bobby (as he was known then) said "Grace"!

That was it.

We waited and waited... nothing. "Aren't you going to say grace?, said Dad. "Gosh Daddy you said to say Grace so I did. Can I have some peas please!"

We all burst out in great gales of laughter. The look on his face told us he didn't have a clue as to why we were laughing so hard. Mom passed him the peas!

Wishing for snow on Christmas Eve and my wish came true! It was magic walking home from the skating rink that crisp, December evening... with my tongue stuck out to catch the snowflakes!

Seeing the Christmas lights in Paris for the first time... The Christmas market in Germany with it's wonderful smells and delicious goodies all waiting to be sampled... Baking Christmas cookies with my (at the time) two year old son.....there was more flour on us than in the cookies!

Enjoy your trip down memory lane!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

37+ Ideas for Recycling Reader's Digest Condensed Books

Last week, the "librarian" in our community complex got in touch with me to tell me that they had a number of old Reader's Digest Condensed Books and other hardbacks they were culling from the library in our community building.

Knowing that I am always on the lookout for books, she asked if I would be interested in them. She estimated that there were around 50 of them! All I had to do was take them away. "WOW", I thought, "What a find. Can't turn this offer down."

Later on that day, I went down to the community building to see just what kind of condition they were in. Even though some of them were 40 years plus old, most were all in pretty good condition. They had been taken care of by their owners over the years before they were donated.

I estimated that there were about 70 or 80 of them! But where would I put them all? And, what would hubby say when I came home with yet even more books? My first thought was to share them with other artists in my art groups. Then I remembered Canada Post's mail charges. They charge an arm and a leg to mail stuff and it just wouldn't be feasible. Scratch that idea!

I have to admit, my second thought was to hide them somewhere! LOL A secret stash! I figured that hubby might have a fit if he came in the door and saw a gazillion books lying around. But hubby and I don't keep secrets from each other (it's just another reason why we have such a successful marriage) so I made the decision to talk to him about it when he came home that evening. I figured out where I could put them... on a long shelf that leads down to our family room and my art "playroom".

Surprise, surprise. He agreed with me that they were a find, as long as I could come up with something I could do with them and actually use them (not just having them sit there doing nothing for the next ten years).

I told him about putting the "call" out to the art groups I belong to for ideas... Altered Books, Art Techniques, Art EZine Cafe and the Latest Trends and showed him the list of ideas I had compiled from the input of my fellow artists. "Okay", he said, "I'll help you bring them home."

When we started loading them into the trunk of our car, I realized that I had grossly underestimated just how many there actually were. In the end, we brought home 120 of them!

I couldn't get them all into one photo for you. It's pretty impressive when you actually see it. But to give you an idea of just how much book shelf space they took up.... that shelf is 10 feet wide and when we ran out of room we had to start double stacking them! Here's a photo of just some of them:

So, now what?

First, I know that there are some people who get very upset at the thought of altering books. Some books lovers think it is a sin! If you can't bear the thought of dissecting a book for its parts, then this blog post is not for you. If you have some books and would like to clear out some of your collection, I'd suggest giving them to a local nursing home or perhaps a "traveling" hospital library.

However, be that as it may, I can tell you that RDCB's are not suitable for altering as in "altered books". The spines are week, the paper is poor and not the best quality for altering. They just will not stand up to rigor of some art techniques when transforming them from a book that no one seems to want into something wonderful filled with gorgeous art.

Most public libraries do not keep Reader's Digest Condensed Books on their shelves. Many libraries will not even accept them as a donation. However those that do will often give them away "gratis" to patrons who want them.

A quick search of e-Bay revealed that although there are many of them listed for sale from anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 a book, there is a distinct lack of any bidding going on. Charity thrift stores in our area sell them in the same price range as E-bay and have racks of them that have been there for years.

Although they may look "good" on a shelf because of their colourful covers, both my book loving hubby and I agree... they may have some good stories in them, but they are not well made "quality" books.

We both believe they were originally made for the "masses" to encourage people to read and purchase the books at a price much lower than the original hardbacks of the featured stories in each edition. However, once read, they languish on book shelves for years and finally like many worn out paperbacks, they land on a garage sale table, get sent to the landfill or (hopefully) to a paper recycling plant.

I like to think that re-purposing these RDCB books is making lemonade out of lemons. We book artists "salvage" what we can that is still usable, infusing new life into the elements and present them, once again for people's enjoyment, in a different form.

There are many things you can do to recycle these "unwanted" hardback books into your art. Here are some "re-purposing" ideas the very talented artists in my art groups and I came up with...

1. Gut the book. Use the paper to make paper beads, as scrap paper to try out new art techniques or as scrap paper at your art table for cleaning your paint brushes (and making serendipity papers).
2. Cut the paper up to use as "text" backgrounds in collage for cards, collage or use as wrapping paper for small gifts.
3. Sew or tape the paper together to get big sheets. You can use the sheets on your art table as a cover up when painting, for a barbeque tablecloth or wrapping bigger gifts.
4. Salvage the illustrations in the book for future use in your artwork.
5. Cut out the book titles. They used some interesting fonts when typesetting the books.
6. Some of the earlier books have wonderful, coloured end papers made from quality paper. Salvage them!
7. Save the bookplates from the front of earlier editions of RD books to use in your art. Recycle them into "modern" bookplates with the addition of some art work. Check on the web to find out whether or not these bookplates are collectibles. Many bookplates are. If they are, I'd love to hear from you. I've been too busy writing this article to check this out myself!
8. Many of the later editions have colourful covers. Photograph them and use them to create background papers in a graphic program.
9. The "bookboard" on the covers is very strong and the colourful backgrounds on some RDCB's make great backdrops for collage.
10.On some of the older, padded covers from the 60's, the "chipboard" beneath the outer cover has a thin layer of foam glued to it. Although you can't take the foam off, you could re-use the padded chipboard for "mini quilt" creations or anything that you want a padded surface for.
11. Some of the RDBC books came encased in an outer cardboard case. You can leave these outer cases as is and alter them, give them a nice new look with a coat of paint, use the light cardboard and the coloured end papers for diecuts, embossing with a cuttlebug, etc.
12. Use the block of paper in the book to make a book sculpture. Check out this photo show from artist Terri Noell , one of the very talented artists in my group, for inspiration.
13. Remember those angels, snowmen and Santa Claus' from the 70's and 80's made with the RD magazine? Well they are back! Do a search on the Internet for how to directions.
14. Stack the books up, drill a hole through the center of the book piles, insert a hollow metal rod and make a "book" lamp. You can also glue the books together in a random fashion before drilling for a more interesting arrangement.
15. Stack the books, drill a hole for a dowel through the center and use for table legs. You can paint them or leave them as is.
16. Use the covers as a canvas for collage and art plaques to hang on the wall.
17. Cut a hole in the center of the book cover and use to frame a photograph or art piece.
18. Glue the pages of the book together. Hollow out to make a book "case" for your treasures, a sewing box, a jewelry case, a love letters box, a "book safe" for hiding keys, important stuff you want to keep from prying eyes!
19. Glue the pages together and make a "book shrine".
20. Glue the cover and the book pages together. Cut an opening in the book cover and cut a niche in the book pages (just like in tip 18) for a shallower "display" area.
21. Make a book display. Open the book up in the middle. Letting the book pages fall naturally, glue the pages together on the right side, repeat on the left side so that you have an open book. When dry, decorate the book. When you are finished you can lay a copy of a favourite poem on the open book. Makes a nice display for a wedding invitation, Golden anniversary memento, special photograph, etc...
22. Cut out same sized figures from the book pages and use them in an altered book for pop ups, families, etc.
23. Cut out the titles of books and mix together for a collage of letters.
24. Found some vegetable illustrations in your RDCB book? Cut them out and make a pop up garden.
25. Turn your RDCD book into a purse. This particular article is geared towards a steampunk costume accessory, but it could be used in lots of ways.
26. Heather, who works in a library with children and young folks, sent along the instructions for a handmade journal she made in a workshop with the younger, budding artists set

"... we ripped out the guts and then added in blank pages to fill it- voila handmade journals with 'professional' covers. One girl went home, printed off a whack of daytimer pages and made another (journal) to use as her school agenda. To bind the pages together. we used regular paper (misprints, scrap sheets ) cut in half, clamped the pages to keep the edges even and glued away, applying a muslin strip to the wet glue for added strength and hold, created endpapers and used those to add the new guts. As these were to be notebooks for random notes/jottings, the partially used/printed sheets didn't cause any problems. Finally the covers were embellished/personalised. These random papers/covers books make great glueboooks. of course these can be done with any hardcover, not just RDCB's"

27. Use the books in assemblages.
28. Pile them up, put a board on top and use it as a shelf.
29. Use the gutted book cover (with the spine still attached) as a birdhouse roof in an assemblage.
30. Use a cover to make a very large postcard. Wouldn't that make a great mail art postcard?
31. Make "book board" out of the paper. Just glue and layer a number of pages together!
32. Use as a tablet for gluing smaller items. When you are done, just rip out the used page. You can also use old phone books if you don't have a RDCD.
33. Make a stationery holder with a cover. Make the cover pretty, add a pocket to the front and back for paper and envelopes.
34. Some of the later books have dust covers printed on good quality glossy paper. The dust jackets feature the covers of the original books that appear in the condensed book and use some interesting fonts. They could be "salvaged" to use in your artwork.
35. Look at these marvelous book vases created by Laura Cahill. What a great idea!
36. Jim Rossenau makes the coolest bookcases and book shelves you have ever seen. I've been a fan of his since I first saw his website a year or so ago. Visit his site, This into That to take a look at his funky creations.
37. Read this article about Book Lovers at MIT who make furniture out of books!

There are a wealth of sites that you can visit on the web. When you have a few minutes, go on a search to discover some of them!

So there you have it... 37 plus ways for you and I to use those unwanted books!

Stay tuned... I am already working on my first paper sculpture! Terri inspired me to take a crack at it!

Thanks again to all the artists who sent me emails privately or posted their ideas and suggestions to our group.... Pam x 2, Heather, Gale, Elizabeth, Terri, Lisa, Maxine, Bonnie, Alicia, Mary, Lee, Cathy, Ellen, Theresa, Kathy, and Cindy. I hope I haven't missed anyone! If I have just know that your contribution was much appreciated!

Have a great week... A Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers. Wishing you great bargains on "Black Friday"!

Hopefully I will get to posting on Friday but can't promise. It's a very busy week this week... heating up for the Christmas party season already... have three invitations this week, two of them before Friday!


Friday, November 21, 2008

The Elves and Mrs. Santa

have been busy in my art room! The Christmas season is one of my favourite times of the year. I truly enjoy getting out my glues, paints, inks, ribbon, lace and sewing machine and making a big mess LOL at this time of the year for me!

These past couple of weeks have gone by in a blur. Mrs. Santa's workshop has been in full swing working overtime creating all sorts of goodies for the upcoming holidays.

Many of the "creations" I had set aside for the arts and craft fair last week ended up being sold before the craft fair began to friends and folks who check in with me to see what I have been up to lately! So it was back to the art table to make "more stuff"!

The cozy arts and craft fair I participated in was the first one I have done in years! The atmosphere was great, the room was filled to brimming with all manner of luscious goodies and the women who participated were hilarious to be with. We shared many a good laugh over the course of eight hours.

It was delightful and fun chatting with the shoppers who stopped by my table. How lovely it is to hear comments like "Oh, that is just gorgeous. How creative you are!" or "I just have to have that!" or "My goodness where do you get all of your ideas? I don't have a creative bone in my body. Your things are absolutely wonderful. " or "Oh look at that! Isn't it cute?"

Even though I do my "work" from a place of love and would do it regardless of what others think of it, there is something wonderfully gratifying and empowering to hear words of praise and appreciation from others. The proof of their words is definitely in the pudding when they purchase something that really speaks to them. That's the most gratifying and in a strange way, humbling part... knowing you have created something that they want to purchase as a gift to themselves or for someone special.

Do you participate in Christmas "art swaps"?

I do. They are a favourite Christmas activity for me. Last year, my time was fully consumed with tracking down long lost ancestors and putting the finishing touches on my family genealogy project. Writing the family stories, finishing the digital art work, putting all the pieces together and getting it published kept me busy well into the night for about seven months. Once that was accomplished I was off to San Francisco to spend ten days in early December with my favourite aunt.

She had no knowledge of the project (boy did all of our family members keep that secret well) so it was a complete surprise. I wanted to deliver her copy of the book, which I had dedicated to her, in person. It was very timely. The day that I arrived in S.F. she was diagnosed with cancer. I am certain to this day that the timing of my being there and the book being published was divine intervention. My lovely auntie died this past May. However she died in peace and the comforting knowledge that she finally knew her roots. It was something that she had wondered about (and sometimes agonized over) her whole life.

Needless to say, I didn't get to participate in any swaps last year. But I shall not be "swap deprived" this year!

Over at The Latest Trends yahoo art group, we currently have two swaps going. One is for Christmas charms and the other is for Christmas ornaments. I am also in a couple of "secret buddy" swaps but to tell you any more than that would be to give the secret away!

This week, I finally got to making some of my "stuff". Here's a photo of both the charms and a few of the ornaments for the Latest Trends swaps. I'd appreciate hearing what you think of them. Your comments are always appreciated!

With company coming for Christmas this year, I have also been sorting through all my projects stored in the guest bedroom! I must admit I was rather amazed at just how much I have done this year. My gosh I even found some things I had forgotten I created when I started pulling out the boxes.

A number of my online (and offline) friends have been pushing me (albeit gentle, but persistent nudges) towards opening up an "etsy" shop. Looking at all that I have accumulated over the past year, I am now seriously considering it. I am running out of space to put it all and next year is right around the corner.

So who better to ponder this question over with than those of you who visit my blog! If you have an etsy or other online shop and would be willing to share your expertise and experience with me about selling online, I'd love to hear from you. I am open to all suggestions and ideas. I'd like to hear both the pros and the cons. Click here for my email address to write to me privately.

Here are a few photos of some of "ma' favourite things" that I pulled out of the boxes and have been thinking might be suitable for an online shop...

Add some pizazz to the back of your bathroom or bedroom door! Store your bras, socks, pantyhose, tights, nightie or p, j's in style in a lace, pearls and satin Victorian Corset Bag! Oh la! la!

Fun and funky "Daytimer" game piece earrings There is a second set of earrings "The Numbers Game" that have numbers of them so you can "mix and match" with this set!

"Strategies 4 the Road" License plate key chain.

"Dare 2B You - Who You Are Counts"

The idea for these key chains originated in a personal development workshop series I wrote and conducted in my coaching practice called "Strategies 4 the Road". This is just one "plate" out of the series. Clients loved them especially because they got to pick the one that had the most meaning for them!

"Show me the money" T-shirt earrings made from a U.S. dollar bill.

You'll never be short a buck again with these on! They are... uhh... priceless!

For all those hockey fans in your life... a "Pond Hockey" T-shirt made from a $5.00 Canadian bill. Did you know that Wayne Gretzky, one of Canada's most beloved hockey players, learned to play hockey on a pond? Hubby is going to get one of these in his stocking this year!

Hope you have enjoyed this week's "picture show". I'd love your feedback on these projects and your opinion as to their suitability for an online store. Just email me your comments. Gracias! Vielen Dank! Merci! Dankjewel! Tack! Grazie! Arigatou! Tak! Kiitos! Thanks bunches!

Time to get back to my art table. See you all next week.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas is Coming...

This has been a busy week finishing up some of my Christmas projects for an upcoming arts and crafts show. Needless to say it hasn't left a lot of time for writing! It has been a bit of a struggle as my arthritis has been acting up again... the November rains have hit the "wet coast"... so I decided that instead of writing a piece that probably wouldn't get finished until tonight LOL, I would "show off" some of the things I have been working on.

A French Lavender Hanky Sachet

Here's just one of the sachets that I have made with some vintage and antique hankies and vintage jacquard brocade material that I have had for about 30 years (and was about 20 years old when I got it). I loved this material so much that I have never wanted to part with it until now. It was perfect for making the sachets. I have made 10 in total and they all have a secret pocket to store your hopes, wishes and dreams. I nearly fell over when I went to buy the lavender from a local supplier. The cost of culinary French lavender has risen to $40.00 a pound! But oh my gosh, the sachets turned out beautifully and smell absolutely wonderful...

Potpourri Christmas Jar

And speaking of potpourri... here's a Christmas jar filled with Christmas lights and cinnamon potpourri that I made. It has an antique doily on top. It looks wonderful when it is turned on and the smell is just delicious. The Christmas lights (35 in all) warm up the potpourri and permeates the air with the smell of Christmas!

Vintage Style Christmas Cards

Christmas isn't Christmas without making some cards. I love making Christmas cards... but this year I have limited myself to a baker's dozen otherwise I'd have enough for this Christmas and next. CHUCKLE.

Here's a delightful card made from a vintage Santa image. He sure is one cute Santa...LOL... Yesterday, on my way home from the bakery (I had gone to purchase some pie boxes for my Potpourri apple pies), I saw a sign near the farmer's market that read "Leave wine, not milk. Love Santa" Yo Santa... will do!

"Artisan" Glass Pendants

This is a photo of some glass pendants that I made from recycled tumbled glass. The photo just doesn't do them justice... they are absolutely gorgeous. I used a combination of fantasy film, Angelina fibres, Franklin Opals, embossing powders and glitter. I am just tickled with the way they turned out. It took awhile to do them... waiting for the glass to finish tumbling seemed to take forever! But once they were done... my heat gun, my "stuff" and I had a date... and here is the result

Next Tuesday is Remembrance Day in Canada. Instead of Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips, I hope to post a tribute to our war veterans... past and present. Without their sacrifice to our country, we would be living in a much different world.

There is something really wonderful about the days leading up to Remembrance Day. Everyone you see has a poppy pinned to their jacket, sweater or lapel.

Rain or shine, you'll find me at the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Sydney, B.C. to watch the military parade (including hubby's band) march to the cenotaph for the ceremony to honour our war dead. After the ceremony is over, hubby's band goes on an all day "pub crawl" playing a few sets in each pub! Thank heavens they have a military bus with a driver to transport them around. He should be in fine shape come 7 p.m. when I join him at their last stop LOL!

Have a great weekend... I'll be sending pleading messages to the rain Gods that the "pineapple express" (the rain that is coming from Hawaii and absolutely soaking us) doesn't last too long!


Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ghost of Victoria's Most Famous Architect - Francis Rattenbury

Happy Halloween!

If you enjoy tales of ghosts, eerie hauntings and strange sightings, an opportunity to experience one of Canada’s most haunted west coast cities… Victoria, B.C. …on Halloween has to be one of the best reasons to make your way to this island city on the last day of October in any given year.

There are dozens of spots in the downtown core and beyond that are said to be haunted. One of the more familiar stories is that of a tall, dashing, handsome chap with a moustache who lurks in the stairwells of the Empress Hotel.

A beautiful, grand hotel at the head of Victoria Harbour, this historic hotel opened in 1908. Designed by the architect Francis Rattenbury, many people are immediately smitten by their first glance of this hotel’s majestic, old world charm. Little do visitors to Victoria know that the ghost of B.C.’s most famous architect, whose life ended in scandal and tragedy, has been seen on numerous occasions, roaming the splendid wood staircases of the Empress Hotel.

Francis “Frank” Rattenbury arrived in Victoria in his early 20’s and set about creating a name for himself in Victoria Society. Shortly after the Legislative Building (one of Rathenbury’s first of many architectural triumphs that still stands on Victoria’s harbour) was opened in 1898, Frank married Florence Nunn.

The daughter of a retired British Indian Army officer turned prospector, many of Victoria’s young maidens gossiped behind closed doors at the time of their engagement wondering what this successful, handsome and most eligible of Victoria bachelors could possibly see in the very plain Florence. Nevertheless, Rathenbury did marry Florence in a June wedding and they went to live in a beautiful beachfront home in Oak Bay. They subsequently had two children, Frank and Mary.

Rathenbury’s professional success made him the darling of Victoria society. However, trouble was brewing behind closed doors in his Oak Bay home. On a personal basis, “Ratz” was often thought of by his peers as an “ill tempered” and “mean” man who was extremely frugal with his money. This side of his personality quickly reared its ugly head.

Florrie and Frank soon discovered that they were ill suited to each other. In the years following, they grew to dislike each other intensely. Despite this sad state of affairs, they continued to live together. Ratz, now drinking excessively, took up residence in separate quarters of their home. It is said that in later years he refused to even speak to his wife directly and only communicated with her through their daughter.

One evening in 1923, at a dinner in his honour at the Empress, Rattenbury, now in his mid 50’s met Alma Parkenham. Still in her early twenties, already once widowed and once divorced, Alma was a beautiful, accomplished pianist, composer and musician visiting Victoria from Vancouver to give a piano recital.

Frank was instantly smitten by this vibrant, daring, young (and for the times, loose) “flapper” woman who reportedly drank and smoked openly in public! Within days, the pair were embroiled in a publically open, torrid love affair much to the dismay of the elite in Victoria society.

The tongues of Victoria’s upper crust wagged furiously when Frank and Alma began appearing at social functions together, apparently oblivious to public opinion and with scant regard for Florence’s feelings and reputation. The titillating rumours circulating in town, about Alma in particular, were numerous, harsh and cruel.

Within a short period of time, Frank approached Florrie and asked for a divorce. Florrie refused. Frank, not about to give up his mistress, began entertaining Alma nightly at the family home in Oak Bay, no doubt hoping that Florrie would quickly change her mind. She did not.

Frank, now becoming desperate to be rid of Florrie, upped the stakes. He began to harangue her with decidedly cruel behaviour. He invited Alma for overnight stays at their home. Florrie was forced to listen to their squealing lovemaking accompanied by loud drinking and drug use.

When Rattenbury realized this was not getting him the desired result he sought, he decided to move out. His parting “gift” was to have the heat and lights turned off in their home. Tired, heartbroken and deeply embarrassed by the antics of her estranged husband, Florrie finally gave up. She agreed to his request for a divorce.

Frank and Alma married in 1925 as soon as the divorce was final. His reputation in ruins through the scandalous affair with Alma, he was publically shunned by his former clients and colleagues. With commissions no longer forthcoming, his finances suffered greatly.

The couple became social pariahs. They were no longer invited for dinners, parties or the theater. Shunned on the streets of Victoria by the social elite, people no longer spoke to either of them.

In 1929, they decided to move to Bournemouth, England for a fresh start. He and Alma, along with their infant son, left Victoria for good.

The move to England did not bring the hoped for betterment in their finances and social standing. Financially strapped, Frank’s relationship with Alma, who loved to spend money, began disintegrating. Bitter and despondent, he quickly turned into an impotent, alcoholic old man who sat hour after hour in a dimly lit room.

Alma, on the other hand, still young and enjoying some success as a composer and musician, craved excitement. With her usual carelessness, this 38 year old woman began an affair with George Percy Stoner, an 18 year old high school dropout Francis had hired as a chauffeur.

One night in 1935, while sitting in the drawing room in a drunken stupor, 67 year old Rattenbury was murdered from behind. Several blows to his head with a carpenter’s mallet quickly rendered him unconscious. He remained unconscious for a number of hours and then died in hospital. Alma and Stoner immediately came under suspicion. Murder charges against the two for the gruesome crime followed quickly.

The sensational trial, laced with all manner of titillating sex, drugs and tales of infidelity lasted five days. As a witness, Alma “described how, trying to bring her husband round, she first accidentally trod on his false teeth and then tried to put them back into his mouth so that he could speak to her. … Mrs. Rattenbury said when her lover got into bed that night and told her what he had done, "My first thought was to protect him." In the end, Alma was acquitted of the charges. Stoner, on the other hand was convicted and sentenced to death.

Was Alma distraught at the thought of losing her lover to the hangman? Had she committed the murder herself and was now riddled with guilt? With her reputation permanently destroyed and faced with the prospect of living the rest of her life in disgrace, was she consumed with guilt and shame? We shall never know. She committed suicide four days after the verdict. She stabbed herself repeatedly in the heart, fell into the River Avon and drowned. Her body was discovered within hours. There was no note. The headlines in the London newspapers were said to be the most dramatic and sensational since the sinking of the Titanic.

Meanwhile, the public was outraged at Stoner’s verdict. They blamed Alma for leading him astray and corrupting this young lad with “undue influence” and her sexual charm. A petition for clemency, signed by thousands, was presented to the courts and the Home Secretary agreed to commute Stoner’s sentence to life imprisonment. He served seven years for the murder of Francis Mawson Rattenbury.

And Frank… well I believe he still roams the staircases of the Empress in his long, black frock coat begging for forgiveness… hoping to redeem himself for his ghastly treatment of Florence, seeking to repair his tarnished reputation with the public and his peers, wishing he had never crossed paths with the likes of Alma!

Happy Haunting!


Copyright 2008 Sharon House. Please do not use for either oral or written presentation without written permission from the author.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips - juice boxes, elastic bands and gift bags

Today for your thrifty arting pleasure we have 41 tips for juice boxes, elastic bands and gift bags PLUS a terrific gift bag project with instructions.
Yesterday, I went back to do a count on how many art tips have been published since I started the blog. I thought I had made an adding mistake (math has never been my strong point ;) when I saw the number....267. I added it up again and sure enough it was correct. Of course this doesn't cover all of the tips that were submitted in the recycling contest, remembering that there were duplicate tips in most of the lists and there are still some to come. But anyway you look at it... that is one awesome number!

Thanks to Terry Howard, Martha B., Leslie, Donna Zamora, Susan Marie, Kelsey Jones Evans, Stephen du Toit, Moon Willow, Christine Bell, Pam Yee, Pam Crawford, Donna Hall, Elizabeth from Kansas, Alicia Edwards and some from yours truly for submitting these great tips!

Please take a moment to say thanks to them for their generosity when you visit their blogs or come across their name in the various art groups on the web.

Thanks too to all those folks who have written me an email about the tips, posted a thank you in one of the art groups, left a comment on the blog. I try to answer all the emails and comments, if I have an address, to personally thank those folks who have taken the time to write. I sincerely appreciate each and every one of you and am just tickled when I get an email from a blog viewer!

On to today's tips...

Save those small juice boxes and ....according to Donna Zamora, “wait until Thrifty Tuesday suggests a workable idea for them.” So Donna, here are 15 nifty ideas just for you! SMILE

  1. Make small shrines
  2. Create bodies for art dolls
  3. Add a chipboard roof to create a little house/birdhouse.
  4. Make shaker boxes. Cut the top off of one juice box. Cut an second juice box to make a lid for the first juice box. Fill the juice box with beans. Push the lid on top of the first juice box. Put tape around it to seal it and decorate the box.
  5. Use to line a niche box in an altered book
  6. Use an altered juice box on a belt as a rather unique embellishment.
  7. Cut off the top on three sides leaving one side for a hinge, rinse them and use for storage of small items.
  8. Use juice box straws as arms and legs on stick figures. The accordion part of the straw makes great joints.
  9. Save those small juice boxes and take them back to the recycling depot for money to buy some new art supplies. (Note: not all recycling depots accept juice boxes)
  10. Fill with plaster, then decorate as building blocks for children or to use in a shrine.
  11. Make a juice box purse or tote by cutting apart, punching holes and sewing, or crocheting them back together
  12. Cut off the top of a juice box on 3 sides add a latch and you have a little treasure keeper or gift box.
  13. Make a stackable mini storage unit from empty juice boxes
  14. Use as a backing for art work, book cover/pages
  15. Cut off the top, wash thoroughly, then decorate to use as favor holders for parties.

Save those elastic bands and ...

  1. Staple them into your art as a great embellishment.
  2. Use them to hold things in place as the glue dries.
  3. Use them to hold overstuffed notebooks closed.
  4. Use them to create a closure for note card booklets or handmade books.
  5. Cover them with a fabric tube and use as hair scrunchies that don’t pull your hair.
  6. Save those elastic bands and make a huge "stress" ball … slowly… one elastic band at a time!
  7. Save those elastic and rubber bands to bundle mat-board or cardboard pieces for a unique disposable stamp or applicator
  8. To create an interesting design…. wind one around a brayer, then run the brayer over ink pad or acrylic paint spread on a flat palette.
  9. Wrap elastic bands around a wooden block, randomly or in a design, to make your own unique rubber stamp.
  10. Save those elastic bands to bind a book.
  11. Wrap WAXED PAPER, FOIL, TP ROLLS with rubber bands or yarn to make printing tools.
  12. Save those elastic bands and use in collage. Alicia said: "I once saw an octopus made out of elastic bands. It was awesome."

Save those gift bags and

  1. Use for instant covers; the handles are great for closures, elements for theme pieces.
  2. Metallic gift bag (free) paper is wonderful to emboss or make bits into highlight elements like stars, crowns, birds etc
  3. Cut gift bags up for backgrounds on cards, collage, ATCs, art journals, covers and ABs.
  4. Sit on a shelf as pretty storage for bulky art items. Don't forget to attach a 'gift tag label' so you know what's inside.
  5. Cut them up to use as you would any paper stock.
  6. Save those gift bags, alter and keep them on hand for the next gift-giving event.
  7. Add your own embellishments and reuse them as gift bags. Re-art them for someone special.
  8. Tear them apart and use the pieces in paper mache for book covers. The color is great!
  9. Save those gift bags and stand a pot-plant inside
  10. Cut them up into flats and use them for wrapping smaller gifts
  11. Make paper beads
  12. Use the designs in collage, altered book or a pop up book.
  13. Save the cord handles to bind a book.

A Gift Bag Project and Instructions

Here’s an idea for gifts bags that I just love! You don’t want to miss this one….

Create a miniature scene in a gift bag. Imagine a little Christmas scene for someone special. What an awesome gift it would make!

Fay Zerbollo of St. Louis, MO makes absolutely fabulous “gift bag room boxes”. I got in touch with Fay last week and she graciously agreed to allow me to post a few of the photos of her gift bags to whet your appetite and tantalize your soul until you can make one of your very own .

To get a copy of Fay’s “how to” instructions click here.

Even if you aren't ready to take on another project right now, drop by Fay’s site to see all of her wonderful creations and get inspired. You’ll be glad you took the time to browse through her site. She is truly a master artist when it comes to assembling these wonderful gift bags.

Have a fun Halloween week... Time permitting, I will see you on Friday with a spooky story!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips - Old Business Cards and Plastic/Paper Grocery Bags

59 great recycling ideas submitted to the September 2008 Brainstorming Recycling Contest by Terry Howard, Martha B., Leslie, Donna Zamora, Susan Marie, Kelsey Jones Evans, Stephen du Toit, Moon Willow, Christine Bell, Pam Yee, Pam Crawford, Donna Hall, Alicia Edwards, Elizabeth and some from yours truly!

Save those old business cards and

  1. blend them together with other paper to make great handmade papers.
  2. Use calligraphy, stamps or tiny cut out word to make a quotation on an old business card and fill a business card holder for instant inspiration.
  3. Use an old business card to add a layer to a collage.
  4. Save those old business cards and alter them like an ATC.
  5. Save those old business cards and paint or glue pretty paper on them, add a name and you have a place card for a dinner party.
  6. Glue two together to make them thicker cut them into inchie size and make inchies.
  7. Save those old business cards and use the reverse side for sentiments on greeting cards.
  8. Wrap business cards in interesting cloth or paper scraps as 3-D embellishments
  9. Decorate with paint, beads, clip art, drawings and use as "found" art or bookmarks.
  10. Paint and cut out shapes with paper punches.
  11. Collage them as art pieces or alter them to become YOUR business card.
  12. Use old business cards like a squeegie when painting backgrounds, etc.
  13. Make a fan book out of old business cards.

Save those tags on new, store bought clothes and

  1. You have a ready made tag for your art, along with the hanger. Start by gessoing or adding a collage background, then proceed to decorate as you would any tag.
  2. Stencil or stamp them, the hanger thingy makes a great way to display small 4x6s, add to make depth, use in a collograph.
  3. Cut up the tags to make Inchies or other small items
  4. Add altered tags to books, pages or cards, gifts
  5. Alter and use as bookmarks or decoupage material in your art.
  6. Use the tags as a template for quilt designs or book inserts
  7. Paint unusual shapes as a base for your new embellishment designs
  8. Save those tags on new, store bought clothes and if they are pretty or have catchy phrases, cool looking fonts you can use them in any collage. If they are big enough you can use them as a base for ATC’s or Moo cards. Some tags are really pretty and need just the right picture or embellishment.
  9. Save those tags on new, store bought clothes and paint, collage, embellish to make ornaments.

Save those plastic shopping bags and

  1. iron them together to create a "fabric". Use at least two or three bags, iron between two craft sheets, allow to cool, and peel. You can sew on them, or just use them as the entire background. If you are in a swap, they are light as air to mail.
  2. Save those plastic shopping bags and mash into wet stuff for texture or dip a wadded one into paint and apply backgrounds.
  3. Cut plastic bags into strips and crochet/knit a shopping bag. Tape one side to your worktable top leaving one side open; handy to scoop trimmings, and other refuse into the bag.
  4. Using two plastic bags, insert one into the other. Tie off the top, trapping air inside, and use as a cushion for packing items to store or mail.
  5. Run an ATC-size chipboard (cut from a cereal box of course) through your Xyron sticker-maker, then wrinkle a piece of the bag and brayer it onto the sticky side of the chipboard. Paint, gesso, ink or use as is.
  6. Save those plastic shopping bags and use to make cool designs by cutting them flat and squishing them into wet paint. Lift when dry.
  7. Weave them into mats to protect a work surface or ease you bottom during those long work sessions or in the football stands during long games.
  8. Save those plastic shopping bags and melt them together with an iron into layered "cloth" to dress scarecrows
  9. Save those plastic shopping bags and make beads out of them. Cut into triangular long strips and wind around a bamboo skewer blast with a heat gun and there ya go!
  10. You can cut them into strips and knit or crochet them into tote bag, purses, or pool side slippers.
  11. Cut into strips braid and make a rug or kneeling pad for gardening.
  12. Save those plastic shopping bags and iron them together and sew them into your newly created art bags/grocery bag/etc as a liner.
  13. Save those plastic shopping bags and crinkle up to use with paint for great backgrounds.
  14. Split them apart and use to cover your work surface to keep it clean.

Save those brown paper grocery bags and

  1. Make mini-books.
  2. Create background papers. Crumple and place in a mixture of glue and water, then remove, wring out, and add bits of mica powder and paint while still wet. Hang to dry. When dry, swipe black or dark colored dye ink over the hills. Iron if you choose.
  3. If you are lucky enough to get brown paper bags with cool pictures on them, cut out the pictures and incorporate in an AB spread or art journal.
  4. Save those brown paper grocery bags and unfold them to make book covers, whole books or just a page or two.
  5. Make envelopes and home-made tags, good for ATCs.
  6. Cut into smaller sizes for Moo cards or inchies.
  7. Tear and collage onto background for ATCs Cut selected words to use on collage, altered books, cards.
  8. Cut brown paper bags into usable sizes and use as you would any paper stock
  9. Fill brown paper bags with a few inches of sand, insert candle, for a lovely outdoor lumineria for parties or holiday decor. Fold the tops down into a cuff to stabilize the top and punch/cut decorative holes if desired.
  10. Save those brown paper grocery bags and spray with Walnut ink. Gives a nice aged look.
  11. Use to protect work surfaces when painting/crafting.
  12. Use them for wrapping when mailing gifts, boxes, etc.
  13. Use them in brown paper mache to create covers for altered books.
  14. Use the paper from brown paper grocery bags for layered and distressed pieces - it's strong!
  15. Use as background paper. It is very versatile and can be painted, inked, chalked, embossed, glued etc.
  16. Brown paper bags make terrific homemade prim style wrapping paper tied up with twine.
  17. You can wet brown paper bags and mold it around items, let it dry and it holds the shape, much like paper mache’.
  18. Tear into pieces and incorporate into a design with other paper and fabric
  19. Make faux leather paper from brown paper bags. Spray it with Perfect Ink Refresher. Crumble it. Spread it out and go over with with an ink pad.
  20. Print on it for wrapping papers of all kinds.
  21. Crumple and spray paint it.
  22. Crumple and web it.
  23. Use brown paper bags as blotters, to cut templates and patterns. Use to cover books.

Happy Arting... see you on Halloween!

I will be in Vancouver this coming Friday and over the weekend watching hubby pound on his drum (he's a tenor drummer in a military pipe band... you know the guys that twirl the sticks GRIN) in the Salute to the Military at the B.C. Lions Football game. Ah he looks so cute in his kilt...and boy you should see him twirl those sticks! I wouldn't want to miss it LOL!