Thursday, December 04, 2014

Beauty, Inspiration and Family Heirlooms

I was taking a much needed break from all of the orders I have to paint and complete in time for the holiday season and I stumbled upon some beautiful artwork. As I surfed the web I discovered beautiful fine art paintings at a website called From landscape paintings to seascape paintings to oil paintings and portraits they have it all. I was inspired beyond words as many of the paintings made me feel as if I was actually alive and living within the scene. That's one of the best things about can take you back in time and to places you've never been.

As I sat in my living room and continued relaxing I looked around me and felt even more inspiration. My husband's grandmother, Alice Loedding, painted as a hobby and quite a few of her paintings were handed down to us over the years. Grandma Loedding painted so often that I believe most of my husband's extended family have a few pieces of her artwork as well. We have a few small watercolor paintings and a few beautifully framed oil paintings of flowers. My mother-in-law has some in her home as well. Yes, Alice Loedding was incredibly talented and her memory lives on through her paintings.

Of all the paintings we have I cherish one more than any of the others, it's my absolute favorite. The painting that I treasure most is a painting of a local landmark in our town's community park. We live across the street from Buhl Park, a place we frequent almost every day in an attempt to get some exercise for ourselves and our dog. We love our beautiful park and spend a lot of time there. Our children grew up playing on all of the different playgrounds and swimming in the park pool. We feel blessed to live so close and have the opportunity to visit this spot pretty much any time we'd like.

The subject of Alice's painting is the Lake Julia Bridge as she saw it back in's a photo of her painting:

The Lake Julia Bridge was recently renovated as it became very worn out over the years from so much use by the locals. While the renovation was much needed it did change the appearance of the bridge a bit. So Grandma Loedding's painting is even more treasured by me because it shows the bridge as it was many years ago. I look at her painting and the memories flood into my mind. I have tons of memories of my kids looking over the side down at the ducks and the swans swimming below us. We used to take them over there every few days and feed the ducks, swans and geese our old bread. I recall the many times we took them fishing and we held our poles off the side of the bridge. I remember so many times we just stood on the bridge and admired all of the beauty and nature that surrounded us. And my husband often shares a story of how his older brother, when he was a teenager, was fishing off the bridge and his eye glasses fell into the water below! Yes, we have many stories and happy memories to share. So you can see why this particular painting evokes such a sense of nostalgia for me.

This painting of Lake Julia Bridge by my grandmother-in-law will hang in our living room for years to come. Then someday in the future this family heirloom will be handed down to one of our children. I'm sure when they grow up they will treasure it as much as we do.

More fun and sharing to come...until then,

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Winter Wonderland Art

As the holiday season fast approaches I decided I should share some of my holiday and winter themed art pieces. A few of the items I am displaying here have been sold, but I will gladly recreate any design. They won't be exact, but they will be close to the original.

Here is one of my smaller winter themed pieces...this little
Winter Wonderland wood burning was burned and then painted.

Many of you may remember burning pieces of wood in art class at school. Or perhaps your parents bought you a wood burning kit when you were younger...I know I had one! This is the same type of tool. The only difference for me now is I played around with it long enough to find my own style. I like using the straight line bit, but I also figured out how to use some of the other bits. I like to add some shadowing to the wood burning designs I create so the flat tool bits help me add dimension to my pieces.

Here's a good example of one of my wood burnings that has lots of shadowing...

And finally...these are my favorites!! All of these Woodland Animal Wood Burnings have been sold but I will gladly recreate any one of them for you...

I hope you enjoyed these simple wood burned designs. I love creating them! More sharing to come soon...until then,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sharing My 'Sunshine' Art

Summer is here and the sunshine is fantastic! Sunny days have inspired me to share some of my artwork that features the warm beautiful sunshine art!

Here are a few of my creations that celebrate summer...

This first creation is actually a mixed media type of collage. I began by painting the sky in a bright blue as well as the water at the bottom of the painting. Next the house, sun, clouds, tree and flowers are all pieces of paper I cut from a worn out old geography book I bought at a local flea market. Once I arranged and adhered the papers in my inspired design I painted everything with acrylic paints. I chose to paint the house pink because when we vacation at the beach in North Carolina I see lots of houses painted in this vibrant color. These little pink houses always make me feel happy and summery! I have yet to add this painting to my website, but I hope to get to that soon. I also plan to offer prints of this design.

The next creation I am shaing is one of my's my 'Sailing at Sunrise' foot stool. I have this item displayed on my website as Beach or Cottage Décor since it is actually a piece of home décor. The top of this little stool is wood burned then painted with a wash of acrylic paint. I currently have it displayed for sale in a local gallery. I've gotten lots of positive feedback on this item at art festivals. There's a huge part of our local population that loves the beach so this design resonates with many. I also offer prints of the design--only the top of the footstool so if you like the artwork but would rather have something to hang on your wall you can do so with this little beauty!

And finally, I like to call this little painting 'Sundance' but my official name for it as it is displayed on my website is 'Purple Daisy Painting'. I painted this sweet 8"x8" darling a few years ago and had it displayed for sale in a local gallery. I am happy to report it was sold a few months ago. Although the original is gone I still have prints of this painting available on my website. Yay!

As I share a few pieces of my sunshine filled art the skies are gray and the rain is falling. But looking at these paintings helps me to be grateful that this is the sunshine season and the nasty, cold winter weather is long gone! I hope I've been able to spread a little sunshine into your day!

More fun to come...until then,

Friday, April 18, 2014

Buhl Farm Park - The Jewel of Our Valley

As many of you may know April is "Keep America Beautiful Month" which is a non-profit with a mission to build and sustain vibrant communities. Recently I was contacted by Tiffany Pham, the community manager of Dropcam, which is a cloud-based Wi-Fi video monitoring service which makes it easy to stay connected with places, people and pets, no matter where you are. Tiffany asked me if I'd be interested in participating in Dropcam's new campaign by sharing on my blog what I consider to be my little 'Slice of America'. She asked me to explain what it is that makes my neighborhood or town so special. I immediately responded with a resounding "Yes!" and I knew exactly what I wanted to share with my readers.

My family and I live in western PA about 70 miles north of Pittsburgh. There's a wonderful community park in our town that I, along with many others, consider to be the jewel of the Shenango Valley.
Buhl Farm Park is a 300 acre piece of land that was donated to our local community in the early part of the 20th century. Frank and Julia Buhl’s stated purpose for acquiring these lands was to create a park for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.

Back in 1996 my husband and I bought our house which sits directly across the street from this beautiful park. Our kids were babies when we moved here and we always felt so blessed living so close to the park. Here's a photo my husband took a number of years ago while walking in the park....

When our kids were very young we had a variety of play areas from which to choose on a daily basis. Over the years we spent as much time as we could taking advantage of this beautiful spot. Plus it's a great way to keep your kids active.

Now that our kids are practically adults we don't frequent the playgrounds anymore. But my daughter and I walk our dog almost every day. The outer perimeter of the park is about 2.5 to 3 miles long so we can get some serious exercise in as often as we choose and at any time of the day. Buhl Park has it's own police that drive around the park throughout the day and night so we never have to be concerned for our safety. We normally don't walk late at night, but in the summer it can get pretty hot and humid so it's nice to be able to walk after dark and not worry. Here's a photo we took a few years ago while walking in the evening...

For several summers we bought family swimming passes and were able to swim as often as the weather permitted at the park pool.

Buhl Park also offers summer recreation programs for kids grades 1 through 6 and, of course we made sure to sign our kids up for this wonderful program! The cost is minimal and it kept our kids occupied on those lazy summer days when there's not much to do.

There are so many more things to take in while visiting Buhl Park. The heart of the park holds a pretty little lake...Lake Julia, named after Mrs. Buhl...that is home to lots of ducks, geese and a couple of swans. Here's a cute picture my husband got a few years ago of the swan mommy with her babes...

We also spent many hours at the lake fishing with our kids over the years. My youngest son still spends time there fishing with his friends. Here is a picture of our little family fishing from about 10 years ago...

They have a beautiful performing arts center where, all summer long, they have free concerts a couple nights each week.

They recently built a sweet butterfly garden that sits along the paved fitness trail in the center of the park. And speaking of the fitness trail, a few years ago I decided to try jogging and I used the trail for my early morning runs. That form of exercise was short lived! But, hey, at least I tried! My plan now that the weather has improved is to go to the trail in the mornings in place of going to the gym. This time, however, I'll be walking not running!

Another unique feature of the park is a huge open field in one area that the locals call the 'Kite Field'. We call it the Kite Field for obvious's such a huge space and it's open with only a few small trees along the perimeter. Because of it's placement it's perfect for flying kites on a windy day. We took our kids there several times when they were younger to fly kites. Aside from kite flying many little league teams and soccer teams will use a small section of this field for practice because of it's large size and openness.

There are also tennis courts that you can use. You can take a walk through a beautiful flower garden that sits at the south end of the park. Many wedding parties, prom and homecoming dance attendees go to this beautiful flower garden to take group pictures.

And I have to mention a very important feature of this beautiful space...there is a golf course where you can golf for FREE! Yes, I said FREE! Buhl Farm Park has a 9 hole golf course and it's the only FREE golf course in the country! Thankfully my son is on the high school golf team and he can walk down the street to this beautifully maintained golf course and not have to pay a dime!

One other feature of the park that I have to share is the 'Casino'. No, this is not your typical casino where gambling takes place. From my research I learned that many years ago the word casino was defined as a building or large room used for meetings, entertainment, dancing, etc. I'm sure this is the definition of 'casino' when referring to this beautiful structure in Buhl Park. Here's a photo so you can see how gorgeous it is...

While the lower level of the Casino is used for park administration the upper level of the Casino can be rented for parties, meetings, weddings and more. The Casino was recently renovated a few years ago and, while it was always a beautiful building now it's absolutely stunning!

There are also a number of picnic shelters throughout the park that you can rent during the summer for picnics, parties, etc. Plus they have an indoor Activities Building that we've rented on a few occasions. My oldest son's high school graduation party was held are a couple photos we took prior to the party...

We have this same building reserved for our daughter's upcoming graduation party that will be taking place this summer. I'm sure we'll do the same for our youngest son when it's his turn.

I could continue on and on, but I'm sure you get the gist of our beautiful park. There are so many things to do no matter the season. Almost every time I'm in the park I try to remember to offer up a simple 'Thank you!' to the Buhl's for the generous gift they left for the people in our town! Here is one more photo that my husband took years ago of our daughter standing by the memorial statues of Frank and Julia Buhl...

I also have to add this wonderful tidbit of information that is more proof of how beautiful our little slice of America is. It just so happens that a few days after I posted my initial story about Buhl Park this was the headline in our local newspaper, "Family Friendly - Forbes Ranks Area 5th Best Place in U.S. to Raise a Family"! And the photo on the front page was that of a family walking in Buhl Park! As you can see my sentiments about the park are the same as many others in our area.

In closing I will say that no matter where life takes us I know that the memories we've made at Buhl Park will be tucked away in a special place of our hearts!

More sharing on the way...until then,

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Today's Yin is Yesterday's Yang

Yesterday we had an early day. Our morning schedules overlapped each other and everyone needed to be ready and out the door by 7:40. Sunday evening we put our heads together and figured out a shower schedule and decided who was getting in the shower and when.

Monday morning came and went perfectly. I dropped the kids off at school and as I was pulling back into the driveway my husband was pulling out and was headed to work. I thought to myself, "This morning went off without a peaceful. A great way to start the new week."

Today, however, was the exact opposite. GGRRRR!! I use my radio as my alarm clock. I didn't sleep well tossing and turning most of the night. I finally fell asleep and didn't wake up until 6:50. I am usually up by 5:45. I saw the clock and thought maybe I was dreaming so I jumped up and ran to the dining room to look at the clock out there. No really was 6:50. I couldn't figure out why my alarm didn't go off. After investigating I learned that the volume somehow got turned down so I never heard it. Regardless of that issue I woke the kids up and within minutes everyone was moving around. Yes, the chaos ensued.

When all was said and done everything worked out fine. Even though it was a rushed morning I dropped the kids off at school in plenty of time. But as I was driving home I had to laugh. It's so ironic how you can have such a smooth morning one day then 24 hours later you are running around and freaking out.

But isn't that life? Isn't that what happens all the time...even with things you don't even realize? As I was making the beds I contemplated the concept of yin and yang. Everyone has good days, everyone has bad days. You can't have light without the dark. You can't appreciate your health if you've never had sickness.

Over the past few years I've realized that bad days don't have to upset us or piss us off. I try to look at it this way--perhaps crappy, stressful days can be used to our advantage and can help us appreciate the good days.

As I get older and my kids reach adulthood I've learned to look at things through a balanced perspective...or at least I try to do so. I try to appreciate everyday, good or bad.

Contemplating my moments of yin and yang reminded me of a name sign I made a couple of years ago...

Yes, "Balance" (and, of course, the Holey Pokey)...that's what it's all about!

More fun to come...until then,

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ozeri Rev Digital Bathroom Scale

Every year in January I get my life back on track and I work hard at focusing on healthy eating and exercise. After taking the last few months off from working out at the gym I am more than ready to get back into my healthy routine. This year I am taking part in a weight loss challenge with a group of friends and it's nice knowing I'll actually have an accurate weight to report. You see, last fall I took part in a similar challenge and I had to use our old rickety scale that we purchased several years ago at an estate sale. While I am into antiques and I enjoy vintage items this scale was a bit too vintage! I constantly questioned if I was reporting my accurate weight each week.

Thankfully we recently got a new bathroom scale--the Ozeri Digital Bathroom Scale--and I absolutely love it! Our new scale is sturdy, sleek, beautifully designed and very modern. Yes, I have to add that last detail--modern!

Another detail about this scale that I like is the size. My husband and my sons are all pretty tall...6' and taller...and they have big feet...shoe sizes 11, 12 and 13. The platform of this scale is large and they can stand on it without having toes or heels hanging off the edges. A good advantage for taller folks who have a large frame and a wider stance.

This scale also has a daily alarm, but I don't think I'll be using that feature. In my opinion it's not a good idea to weigh yourself every day while trying to lose weight. Doing so is too discouraging since your weight can fluctuate greatly from day to day depending on a multitude of factors such as what you eat to the amount of fluids you intake to female hormones issues and so on. But some people may very well like that feature so I'm sure it would be an advantage for some people.

Overall, I'm very happy with our new scale. Aside from being very pretty it shows both a dial reading and a digital reading. This will be helpful for my weight loss challenge...since it's a competition between friends every little ounce will help get me closer to a win. Yay!

While it might sound crazy, I am actually excited to start this challenge so I can weigh myself on this new scale! Every little bit of motivation helps when you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, right?

More interesting things to share soon! Until then,

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ozeri 8" Textured Green Earth Pan

We recently got a small 8" fry pan manufactured by Ozeri. As we've only had it for about a month I will admit we haven't had tons of time or experience using it. But so far so good. My husband does most of the cooking in our family--lucky me--and he is very happy with it.

I've noticed my teenagers using it to cook their eggs and I've asked them their thoughts on it. They all agree that it's a very nice pan and it cooks their eggs quickly and easily with little need of spray oils.

I'm a very visual hands on person and I always pay attention to how things look and feel. This pan is very solid and heavier than most fry pans. And from an artist's point of view I also like the green color!

Even though my husband does most of the cooking, I do most of the cleaning! I will say that this pan is very easy to clean. I read a review on it where someone said they don't wash it with soap. I do simply because as a working mom I might not get to the dirty dishes as quickly as I'd like, so the pan may sit in the sink for a few hours before I can get to it. Plus I didn't realize you shouldn't use soap to clean it. Oh well, perhaps I missed something from one of the inserts in the box when I first opened it. But, on a positive note, I probably did miss some of the reading materials because I was so impressed with how nicely made the pan is.

So in my opinion this pan is top rated and I would definitely recommend it. Perhaps given a few more months I will come back and give a follow up review if anything happens to change my mind.

More fun on the way. Until then...

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