Happy happily eating snow is everything. I don’t even need to write anything else. These photos just make me happy.
Happy happily eating snow is everything. I don’t even need to write anything else. These photos just make me happy.
I decided on January 1st to try and paint at least one painting a day this year. I’ve never lasted more than two weeks on a 365 project but I hope to make this one last! I think if I post a roundup of all seven here each week maybe that will help keep me accountable. I’m also posting them on Instagram each day here.
Here are all the “daily” paintings I made this week:
A mixed media painting with a quote:
“A Work of Art” (Sold)
A collaboration with Boo. She drew the chicken for me and I painted the designs onto the shape:
“Kaleidoscope Chicken” (Sold)
A floral watercolor:
An abstract landscape of the Smoky Mountains. Painting on reclaimed barn wood:
A floral watercolor with a layer of pen illustrated on top:
A watercolor and colored pencil rendition of Foshizzle as Frida Kahlo:
“Fo as Frida” (Sold)
An acrylic painting with vintage embroidery stitched on:
“Open the Window” (Sold)
Every few days I’ll be listing some of the paintings in my Etsy shop along with other work I’m working on simultaneously. I’m always complaining to myself that I can’t find time to paint but I’m determined this year. When I’m painting I’m at my happiest!
I also started this other project inspired by Hannah Claire Somerville…a stitch a day for an entire day. Instead of an embroidery stitch though I thought I’d add a button or a bead to this fabric and see what it looks like once it’s filled. Here’s what it looked like yesterday (since I haven’t added my button for the day yet).
It’s never too late to start a yearly project! You only have just one week to catch up with the stitching or button!
Happy my spirit animal…she’s my guide to happiness. I love this photo of her sniffing the air. She looks like she is channeling her ancient wolf ancestors.
She’s definitely moved into leader position in our little pack/flock/menagerie. We have to separate Max and Happy at mealtime or she’ll eat her food and then his. Here they are meandering around the yard yesterday, it was such a nice warm day!
She’s settled in so well. She still wakes up really, really early but we are working on that. She’ll use pee pads during the night but she still wants to eat breakfast at 4:30 or 5:00. I think it’s the fault of the rooster that lives at the post office nearby. Every time I wake up to Happy’s whining I can hear the rooster crowing! After she’s fed though I let her out from where she sleeps and she’ll wander back to our bedroom where I have Diesel’s old bed right next to my nightstand and she curls up there until I wake up.
She has a lot more pep in her step these days. I think she’s happy living here.
Look at her cute little shuffle in this video I took the other day…she gets so excited. There is sound so make sure you can hear it:
You can read more about Happy here!
I’ve been painting on driftwood recently…resulting in some trout and fly fishing art. This fall I moved a little desk into our living room and made a little painting nook for myself:
Since then I’ve gotten a lot more painting done because I can sit down here and there to work on various projects:
I’m not a fish person but I love the colors in the rainbow trout and so that’s been my muse for now:
This one is a pretty large piece:
Another piece with a vintage fishing lure on it:
This piece of driftwood had the ripples of the lake in it already:
I made this piece of wood into a tin full of flies:
I love how it turned out with the variety of colors:
This is a tiny piece of wood I could and I added some flies to it as well:
This piece of driftwood almost had the grain of a feather in it already so that’s what I painted:
Someone asked me if I could include a little note with her piece, with the story of where it came from. I loved that idea so I’ve just been included it with every single piece now:
Most of these have already been sold but I’m constantly adding things to my Etsy shop each day. My New Year’s resolution is to try and paint something every single day, no matter how big or small!
A quick note about driftwood: it takes a while to prepare the driftwood for painting. This is a really quick overview but basically I scrub each piece and then soak it for at least two days in a solution of bleach water to kill any bacteria, fungus or bugs that might be living in the wood. It bobs…so I usually have to use a cinderblock to hold it all under the surface of the water!
After I’m sure all the icky stuff has been removed I drain the wood and set it out to dry, categorized by size. Once it’s kind of dry I set it in our basement with the dehumidifier until all the moisture as been removed.
I usually prepare the surface of the painting with white or gray gesso so that it will keep the paint from separating over time. Driftwood is very porous and the pigment of the paint will separate from it’s binder over a long period of time. I also seal each piece with a polyurethane after it’s finished!
I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I don’t have a calendar. I forget a lot of things unless I’m reminded the day of…but this year I’m getting organized. I decided to get one of the Create 365 planners from Michaels and this is the one I chose:
I’ve already started filling in my January schedule…there isn’t much planned yet but that’s the way I like to keep it:
I love the inspiration quotes for each month.I love the spaces for notes and goals setting….even if there are some very lofty goals (like meal planning?!):
I think if I keep it on my desk and take time to plan out each month I’ll keep to it:
These are my favorite accessories…the skinny washi tape. I use them to block off days for holidays, spring break etc:
They are perfect for blocking off sections:
All the accessories to choose from are so cute…like these little post it notes that come in a tiny matchbook:
The reason I chose this happy planner is because of the expandable, disc-bound planner system. I can easily add or subtract sections and other fillers:
I also love the chunky dividers that help me go back and forth between months:
I’m excited to set some new goals for myself this year!
Whether it’s planning the family schedule, cleaning out your pantry or getting the kiddos ready to head back to school, Michaels has everything you need to help you get organized this year too. Michaels has a huge selection of planners as well as all of the accessories you need to personalize your own.
Looking for more organization inspiration? Make sure you visit Michaels’ blog, The Glue String, to see the rest of the Michaels Makers’ organization project ideas like the ones below!
Now that I’m obsessed with all things chicken I thought I’d share some of our cute chicken themed books we’ve collected!
We love the Lucy Chicken Books by Amanda Curless. I had the chance recently to review them and they are the cutest. I love that they are based off of a real chicken named Lucy. The illustrations are full of expression and cute for almost any age.
Lucy Chicken by Amanda Curless
Lucy Chicken has not laid an egg! What will Lucy Chicken do? Is she a chicken after all? What will she discover about herself?
Lucy Chicken the Onliest Chicken by Amanda Curless
Lucy Chicken is worried! She thought she was the only chicken! What will happen to Lucy Chicken?
I can’t remember how I came upon this cute little book by Nikki McClure. There are no words, just Nikki’s signature paper-cuts, and I fell in love with it:
It’s only 4.5″ tall. The note in the back is the best:
“The Great Chicken Escape is a true story, or as close to the truth as I could ascertain from the chickens themselves.”
The Great Chicken Escape by Nikki McClure
One day, the chickens snuck out the back door of the coop. Some of the more timid were caught, but a rogue group of the highest in the pecking order successfully eluded the nuns.The nuns decided that there was no real danger, only the possibility of a great chicken adventure. They let the chickens roam, enjoying the freedom of the forest.
And then there’s Once Upon a Flock…the book that made me realize that I needed chickens in my life:
Once Upon a Flock: My Life with Soulful Chickens by Lauren Scheuer
“This charming story of Lauren’s life with her quirky flock is filled with moments of humor and heartbreak. Enthusiastically immersing herself in the world of her flock, Lauren discovers that love, loss, passion, and resilience are not only parts of the human experience, but of the chicken experience as well. Throughout it all, Lauren documents the laughter and drama of her flock’s adventures with her own whimsical photos and illustrations. At once humorous, poignant, and informative, Once Upon a Flock is a feathered tale like no other.”
Other cute chicken books:
I’ll never get tired of this one.
Beloved illustrator J. P. Miller’s graphic, colorful farm animals seem to jump right off the page—but they aren’t jumping to help the Little Red Hen plant her wheat!
Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo
She longed for adventure. So she left her home and ventured out into the wide world. The pleasures and perils she met proved plentiful: marauding pirates on the majestic seas, a ferocious lion under the bright lights of the big top, a mysterious stranger in an exotic and bustling bazaar. Yet in the face of such daunting danger, our heroine . . . She was brave. She was fearless. She was feathered. She was a chicken. A not-so-chicken chicken.
The Minerva Louise Series by Janet Morgan Stoeke
For over twenty years, the inspired silliness of Janet Stoeke’s Minerva Louise series has captured imaginations and tickled funny bones. Now the book that introduced the feather-brained fowl is back and just as hilarious as ever. From the flowerpot Minerva uses as a comfy seat to the tricycle she mistakes for a tractor, the daffy details of this clever story are truly memorable.
My chicken collection is looking quite big all of the sudden. All the chickens have been mostly gifts from friends and family:
My mother got me this chicken crossing sign for Christmas…maybe it will keep my visually impaired chickens safe:
She also gave me this stuffed chicken from Douglas Toys which Boo swiftly confiscated:
A few other things I think are just too cute:
And how could I forget the “Hen Bag”?! Too much?
Any other chicken things you love?
“There is sunshine in my soul today”
…..that’s what I imagine Happy is thinking most of the time with her content little smile.
Instead of sending Christmas cards this year I decided to adopt Happy. I found this photo of the first time I met her:
We got her from the Richmond Animal League which rescues animals that are in danger of being euthanized in city and county pounds all over Virginia. If it weren’t for RAL our sweet Happy wouldn’t be here. And she’s so content and happy…she’s not ready to give up yet! I think she’s already settled into our family so perfectly. Even Max has accepted her:
I just love her quirky little expressions:
She’s always blinking her eyes and her little smile makes everyone melt:
The only time I haven’t seen her completely happy is traveling in the car. She doesn’t like riding in a crate all that much:
But when we got home from my sister’s house she jumped out of that crate and she ran right into the house. Her tail was wagging a million miles an hour and she ran all around checking all her favorite spots. I think that means she calls our house home now! She’s changed our lives in just a short time. I’ve set up a Facebook page for Happy just so I can keep sharing unlimited photos: Happy the Happiest Dog aka “The Happy” according to my niece.
I wanted to come up with a creative way to help pay for all of Happy’s ongoing vet visits and heart medications so I carved this new block for printing:
I love how it turned out and I think it captures her personality with that quote. Each print is printed to order and pre-framed. It’s available here in my Etsy shop if you are interested!
I don’t know if anything exhibits the raw joy of Christmas as much as this video. You would think that Boo had never received a gift before:
I love that she still enjoys her dolls so much. Her list for Christmas included the Native American doll Kaya and the sloth she opened above, and a bunch of doll accessories. She opened up all of her other gifts and I could see some disappointment in her face that Santa didn’t bring the Kaya doll. Then she found a package behind the couch. When she cried we all cried:
We spent Christmas at my sister’s house with my mother and my brother too. Her beautiful tree all ready for Christmas Eve:
Beside Boo’s grateful present opening my second favorite part of Christmas was my little niece Leighton meeting our new senior rescue Happy.
Leighton: I like this kitty cat.
Me: She kind of looks like a kitty cat doesn’t she, but Happy is a dog.
Leighton: She’s not a dog.
Me: She’s not? Then what is she?
Leighton: She’s a Happy.
And every time Leighton saw Happy she’d declare, “There’s the Happy.” I love that. Happy is like the Lorax, only a Happy.
Happy trying to make a permanent memory of her favorite tiny human:
We all ate Christmas Eve dinner at Carmel, a place my dad loved, and a place in all my childhood memories. My brother wasn’t feeling well and my sister-in-law had to work at the hospital all day but at least my two nephews were there:
Boo watching the golfers come in after we ate:
Leighton and my nephew Carter inspecting one of the many Christmas trees:
Christmas Eve candlelight service. This is probably my favorite Christmas photo…it reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting. My little nephew Cameron would have been the perfect Norman Rockwell model:
On Christmas morning we all opened up our gifts and my mother had a cake for Jesus, and my sister Perry. Jesus is always listed first:
The only thing I asked for was a metal detector and Brett surprised me with one (the Garrett Ace 200) with the help of my brother Swen. I thought it would be fun to have one to comb the lake bed with. We spent the day digging up my sister’s entire yard and when we found the metal end of an old garden hose we jumped for joy:
We finished up Christmas Day at my dad’s grave. We know he’s not there but we still wanted to visit:
Hope everyone had a joyful holiday, Christmas and Hanukkah! Now I just need a few days to recuperate…like Happy:
P.S. I started a Facebook page just for Happy the Happiest Dog photos….so I can post as many as I want!
It felt like I was driving through an apocalyptic scene yesterday as I made my first trip back to Gatlinburg since the fire. As I crossed the NC/TN line and began to descend down towards Gatlinburg everything began to turn white, the forest encrusted in frosty crystals. I could see Chimney Tops peeking out from behind it all:
As I drove past the Chimneys I found workers still clearing trees and debris within the park. Charred remains of trees everywhere and the first thing I noticed is that there was no brush, nothing on the forest floor except for scattered blackened tree trunks. The burn path went on for miles, scattered in some places, but still…for miles. It was unbelievable. I could see stone and brick chimneys on the ridges but they were no longer attached to anything. Chimneys surrounded by skeletons of what used to be houses.
I started my day out in Pigeon Forge at the disaster relief distribution center, a huge building filled with donations of every kind:
I was assigned to families as they came in and my job was to help them find clothing, groceries, toiletries and anything else they might need. Everyone’s story was different. One man had lost his job due to the fire and his family needed help with groceries. Another family had lost their home and they were finally able to find an interim place to live but they didn’t have anything to help them make that transition. I helped them find pillows, sheets, and blankets. Then towels and washcloths. It was so overwhelming, trying to figure out what a family might need, when they’ve lost everything. “Underwear?” I asked. “Yes, I didn’t think about that,” the man said sheepishly, and then that led to so many other things like undershirts, socks and long underwear. Next we went to medical because he needed blood strips for his diabetes and then we filled a cart with shampoo, soap, cleaning supplies and groceries. I only worked for four hours and it felt like twenty-four because of all of the emotion involved.
After my shift ended I stayed in Gatlinburg for the afternoon and walked some of the back streets that I’d been down before. It was so cold and there were snowflakes in the air. I just bundled up and had my huge coat hood pulled up and I kept to myself, just on a long walk, trying to be extra respectful of barriers and signs that had been posted to keep people out. The Riverhouse Motor Lodge:
And this was another house:
From a distance everything looked like ash and rubble:
But as I stepped closer, bent down to sift my fingers through some of the ash, I could start to see belongings. I could begin to piece together what had been there before. Like a workshop with a tool box:
I think this car haunted me the most, because there was so much that shocked me about it:
The glass pooling:
Underparts running in liquid form out from the bottom:
Nothing scares me more than fire and water. As I was kneeling down, looking at this car, a truck drove up. It was a friend of the family who once lived there. I was relieved to hear that everyone had gotten out okay. He told me how he’d been at the house early the day of the fire and they never saw a single flame, and then suddenly that night everything was engulfed. I think this is what no one will ever take for granted here again….how far and how quickly embers can travel in the air. Embers can fly, carried by the wind up to two miles. There was no warning.
At the end of the day, I was walking down the main strip in Gatlinburg, past the Aquarium, past the shops, and there were so many people out enjoying the wintery day. It was then that I realized I hadn’t eaten all day so I ducked into a restaurant to warm up. I sat by myself in a restaurant booth and watched the tourists pass. After taking my order, the waitress was cleaning up the booth in front of me when suddenly she burst into tears. I asked if she was okay and she nodded. Then she walked over to show me the bill from the couple who had just left…they had left her a $50 tip. She said something like, “I needed this today, to save Christmas.” Then I burst into tears, and hugged her. I immediately knew part of her story without her even saying another word.
I found this piece of paper in my pocket this morning….a reminder of one of the many families I was paired with yesterday at the distribution center:
The young woman spoke Spanish but there was a shortage of translators. The tiny slip of paper told me what I needed to get started: there were five in her family, four being children. I took her slowly through the center, aisle by aisle, and lifted up every single item and she would nod or shake her head. Every once in a while I got a smile from her. Towards the end of her visit I watched as she pressed her hand against the side of her stomach under the oversized sweatshirt she was wearing. “Baby?” I asked her and she nodded. “Coming soon?” I asked and in broken English she said, “January.” Even though we were really not supposed to give them more than a week’s worth of food I directed her back over to the baby section and we loaded up with some diapers and other items. I don’t really know what her full story was, or how she was affected by the fire, but I could tell she was in need. With a cart full of groceries and personal products she paused for a moment before asking, “Toys? Christmas?” I shook my head apologetically. She had come so early in the morning that there were no toys available yet. It was so busy and chaotic I feel like I didn’t have time to really think clearly. I should have found a way to follow up with her. I hope she’ll come back to the center in a few days and pick up some toys for her children.
It’s all so awful that it becomes overwhelming. I overheard one man telling someone that he was starting chemotherapy next week because he has cancer. As I watched him pick out a toothbrush to call his own again I almost had to leave the building for a moment. The people who are there every single day in this disaster are heroes. Smokies Strong. That’s the only way to describe them. I saw a lot of hard things yesterday but I also saw strength and compassion beyond words.
My friend Renae Winchester has been writing about her experience across the mountain as well, and why it means so much to her to help:
“My Father-in-Law was shaken, couldn’t remember his address. The dogs were still in the house, or so I had been told. His wife’s dogs. His wife whom we buried only a couple months ago. There was no warning, no evacuation notice, just a rap on the door, and an officer who grabbed him by the elbow and placed him in the back of the patrol car.
Flames were at the property line.
Flames were down the driveway.
Flames were on both sides of the main road.
Flames. Flames and wind that sounds like the ravenous demons from hell were walking the earth seeking whatever they could devour.” -from What #SmokiesStrong Really Means
I wish that there was more in the media about this fire and how many homes burned. Over 2,400 homes and business burned to the ground. 14 people dead. 175 injured. 20,000 acres scorched. And all from human hand.
I don’t know the best way to help but I know that Jeremy Cowart has launched a phenomenal photography project highlighting families affected and linking to their gofundme pages.
Close to my heart are all the animals that have also been affected. There are still a huge amount of unclaimed pets at the fairgrounds (Sevier County Humane Society) and there is a desperate need for volunteers there too. I hope to get there this week.
One of the biggest issues right now is affordable housing, you can visit Mountain Tough to find ways to help.
Another way to help….just go to Gatlinburg and eat in their restaurants and support the businesses. And please help keep Gatlinburg in the headlines!
Happy is looking better and better every single day. She has a huge appetite. Her incision has healed nicely from her recent surgery. She still has a lumpy tumor-filled tummy but we got the pathology results and they tested benign! Her poor belly is so big that I think she looks like an eggplant when she’s laying on her side sleeping, so I’m glad that nothing is spreading in there. Her heart medication seems to be making her cough a little better each day. Maybe one day she’ll sleep past 5am too but I’m not going worry about that.
I love that Happy just loves being a part of everything. Yesterday she watched Sienna and a friend play all day. Then she sat on the couch all morning as Sienna played with her dolls:
We’ve put out mats and rugs for Happy to traverse but every once in a while Happy’s hip seems to go out and there’s a dramatic fall. Last night I cut up a small pair of old gloves with the rubber grip on the palm and made these little grippy socks for Happy’s back feet. They fit just right and she hasn’t lost her balance once with them on. Here’s a cute little video off her showing them off…then she huffs at me:
I know I’ve neglected posting about the rest of the menagerie here at the House on Hospital Hill recently but everyone is doing great, especially Foshizzle:
If you have no idea who Happy is all of her posts are linked here! Thank you so much for reading!