Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We Made It!

This Wizard of Oz-themed wreath was made for me by my friend Laura Smith

It's been another year of posting about my friends and family, crafting, cooking, baking and whatever else I could think of here on The Little House Out Back. I don't really blog a lot of my daily life, but as with you, there have been ups and downs.

It's been another rough year for my husband, but we're hopeful we'll find something to ease his chronic pain. My daughters are working full-time and are generally healthy. I am thankful every day for the great human beings my kids have grown up to be. They're quite awesome. I have a loving relationship with my remaining siblings. There's nothing like reminiscing with them about our childhood, the family we miss, and what's going on in our lives today. To top off this year, I've been able to gather several times with life-long friends, both near and afar.

I'm very grateful for my life and those who are in it.

Although I don't get many comments, I do get emails and in-person feedback, so thank you for browsing my blog and for being so kind about the things I post.

From our home to yours, have a very merry Christmas, and may 2015 bring you much joy and all that you need. And then some.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cool story. Bear with me.

Photo by my best friend Lauri

My dad, which meant our family as well, was into ceramics ever since I could remember. When he retired from the Army, he opened a ceramic shop in a little oceanside town called Marina (next town over from Fort Ord, California). The shop sold finished ceramicware, greenware, bisque, paint, tools and also held classes.

If you knew us, you probably received one of these ceramic Christmas trees or we at least helped you make one.

My best friend Lauri sent this photo to me tonight, and I thought it was one we gave her. Nope, it’s her friend’s. Her friend doesn’t decorate anymore (but she loves decorating other people’s homes), so she brought it to Lauri’s to display in her new home.

Important tidbit.

Her friend was Lauri’s landlord for many years, and, coincidentally, grew up in the Monterey Bay area and moved to Vancouver, Washington, just as Lauri did. But they didn’t know one another back then, they met when Lauri moved to Vancouver.


She told Lauri, “When my mom retired she was bored and wanted something to do. So she went to this little ceramic shop in Marina and made the tree.”


That’s our shop she’s talking about!!! What a great coinkidink, eh?! Of all the people in the world for Lauri to meet when she moved to Vancouver and become friends with, it was someone from the same area, who shared her maiden name, btw, who had a mother who went to our little ceramic shop to make herself a Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Fort Ord Pool

  Photo by John Arthur

 Photo by John Arthur

My brother John stopped by the old Fort Ord (California) pool the other day and took these pictures.

I’m the youngest of 7, and we all swam in this pool for many years. It was one of our favorite places to be. The price was right, just show them our military ID card or recite my dad’s RA number and in we’d go.

My brother George, gone 2 years now, taught me to swim in this pool. Another brother took pleasure in dunking me until I cried, only to be rescued by yet another of my siblings. My sister Mary, gone 3 years, would let me piggy back her, wrapping my arms around her neck and kicking my feet behind us as if I was helping swim the length of the Olympic-sized pool. When we’d reach the deep end, I knew I could trust her not to leave me.

I remember how my sister Martha and I would walk home in the dark, wet hair and sometimes wet bathing suits underneath our clothes, still smelling of chlorine. Whenever we’d get to this certain part of the post that was extra dark and scary we’d pray out loud, “Our father, who art in Heaven…” and when we got to the part “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil” we’d start running and screaming until we reached the light.

When the pool water was on the cool side, my best friend (of over 45 years now) and I would leave the water to go play in the never-ending hot showers. When we warmed up we’d go jump back in the pool and then do it all over again.

I can still see, hear and smell the pool in my mind so clearly. Photos of the way it is now startle me. It’s like seeing an old friend get beat up and they can’t get up, can’t recover from the blows, so they just give in and give up.

But I won’t allow these recent images to steal the years of joy that was had inside that old building. And neither will the thousands of soldiers who flirted with their girlfriends and boyfriends, the husbands and wives with their children who splashed in its waters and sunned themselves in the warmth of the (sometimes) sunny patio. No amount of graffiti, paintball splats and carnage will ever erase the years of memories of my happy place, a place where our family will forever be complete.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Friends For Life

We've been friends for over 40 years. We're teenagers again when we all get together.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A little of this, a little of that

I was able to spend time with my sister and two of my brothers the last couple of weeks!
Do some cooking...


and some crafting.

Feeling productive.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Paper Dolls & Moleskine

My daughter picked up a 2011 Moleskine journal at Savers and gave it to me to use as an art journal. I absolutely love how it's coming along. It's taking a beating and still holding up very well. I prepared a few pages by gluing some of the pages together and applying gesso, gluing scrap cardstock and tissue paper to the pages, and whatever else I can think of. 

I probably won't photograph all of the pages because some are personal and others aren't so pretty. But this is one of my favorite pages I've done so far. I'm not sure if I'm finished with it yet. I'm thinking it needs some words on the left-hand side and maybe something more on the background.

I decoupaged a layer of birch wood printed tissue paper to the pages. It was pretty cool all by itself. I found the leaves for a buck at The Discovery Shop, a cancer thrift shop. I didn't know what I was going to use them for, but a few days later some of them ended up here.

I lightly colored the Julie Nutting dolls and their little dog, too. (See what I did there?) Picket Fence Distress Paint was smoodged about because I love playing with that stuff.
Sometimes I open my journal just to feel the pages, especially the decoupaged ones. Decoupaging with tissue paper is one of my favorite things to do lately. Try it!

Thursday, October 30, 2014


For a friend’s birthday. I worked into the wee hours of the morning last night, probably spent too much time on it, but it was for a special friend. The ladies, in a funny way, represent, from left to right, me, my daughters and our friend. My daughters are a lot younger than us, but I thought it was a fun stamp to use.

The group is cut out from a stamp and popped up. Their clothing and purses are fussy-cut and glued into place, which was the most time consuming. I used colored pencils on some of the details and highlighted things like their sunglasses, shoes and accessories with sparkly pens.

I found a stash of tourist maps of the Monterey Peninsula I had amongst my printed cardstock and used it for the background. I love it. We live in this area, so it helped make the card that much more personal.

I am in love with this line of stamps!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


 The many ways Molly enjoys pillows

And Winnie, too!

But Clover prefers Grandma's comfy rocking chair

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Molly Shall Wear Bows

We're hoping Molly will get used to wearing bows instead of chewing on them.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Gift of Time

This year I gifted my daughters with things I made instead of bought, beginning with what turned out to be a very rich chocolate cake. I also detailed Valerie's car (their Aunt Phylliss did Dawn's!) Actually, I cheated, I only did the inside (with a little bit of help from their dad), I ran it through the carwash for the outside. Hey, California is in the middle of a water shortage, okay? :-}

Bookmarks have become something all of us seem to have aquired. Here are two more Dawn and Valerie can add to their collection.
The numbers bookmark is for Valerie, she loves numbers and text. I dry embossed cream-colored cardstock, heat embossed the lettering with gold embossing powder and finished it by inking it with my favorite walnut colored ink pad by Tim Holtz.

  Dawn makes the prettiest tassels, so I'll leave that touch up to her.
The galaxy-themed one is for Dawn, she loves the night sky. It's painted with all sorts of colors of sparkly ink pens on canvas and backed with black cardstock. The planet was cut from a piece of gold shimmered card stock that had veins of white running through it. It actually looks like a copper penny!

Then I wrapped them up in cardstock which reflects their fondess for (Dawn) cameras/taking photos, and (Val) numbers and letters. I even dug up a brad with her favorite #7 on it!
The flowers are handcut from a combination of patterned paper and tissue paper using a nifty technique I found on YouTube by Shannon Green. It's addicting!
Their main presents were paintings I created. Dawn's has a galaxy theme and Valerie's is more of a mixed media piece.

I used canvas paper and a variety of inks and paints. I had intended for it to be darker, more starry-like, but after walking away from it for a few days and coming back to it, it grew on me.

When I was finished, I ran some black glitter tape along each edge and framed it in a simple black frame. I titled it "Out There." She actually likes it turned with the corner planet at the upper-right, but for some unknown reason when I rotate this photo it won't upload here in the new rotation. *sigh*

As I said, Valerie's is more mixed media because after I finished the painting I wasn't very happy with it. So I added the girl with the suitcase, the tiny dog, flowers, tree and created a shiny sun to beam down on it all. I titled it "Oh May I Go A Wondering," because she likes The Happy Wonderer song. We sing it using her name instead of what the song says.

After wrapping the paintings I topped them off with the tags I made. Valerie has a fondness for western themed things (who am I kidding, fine cowboys are her eye candy!), so I went with that.
I used a Julie Nutting paper doll stamp and fussy-cut her outfit from cardstock. Her skirt and bodice also has a layer of Tim Holtz's shimmer paper, a gift from my daughters. Glossy accents was applied to her boots and hat just to give them that extra pop. Oh! And I drew her face free-hand! For someone who doesn't know the first thing about drawing, I'm getting the hang of giving Julie Nutting's doll faces a bit of personality.
The balloons are shaker stickers from Michael's. And I have so many of these beautiful paper flowers not being used, I couldn't resist adding a few here. I think the orange, yellow and green adds a pretty touch, and the gold leaves makes it that much more special.

Dawn's tag was reminiscent of our trip to London, England, last year. She gave me several Julie Nutting tag tablets and this is by far my favorite print; it has the feel of an English garden. Dawn also gave me the pretty girl stamp, which reminds me both of photo of Dawn holding a little green suitcase and Audrey Hepburn.
Seeing Big Ben is my favorite thing from our trip, and probably the most iconic, so, of course it had to be featured in the background. The taxi is because we relied on and appreciated having access to this form of transportation. They saved our aching feet, I'm not even exaggerating. And the tiny little airplane is symbolic of the bravery of my daughters on their first flight, a very, very long one.
So my gift to my daughters was essentially of my time, something I have plenty of when it comes to them. They have the patience of a saint for this forgetful, bumbling old woman, and I can't even begin to list the things they do for me on a daily basis. I'm so very proud of the women Dawn and Valerie have become. Happy 31st, girls, it's only just begun!