Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Parade of Lights Layout for THE CUTTING CAFE

EDITED:  Good morning! I'm republishing a project from 2015! We're showing off a favorite project when we used a file from THE CUTTING CAFE that we loved! This year due to safety concerns the parade was cancelled and it turned into a stationary display. It also rained. Lots of people were really upset, so now my page is a happy memory in case we don't have a parade again!


One of my favorite print files that Regina creates over at THE CUTTING CAFE are her circle images. I have used quite a few and was excited when she recently released a few more. The Jingle All The Way one I used on my page can be found in Christmas Sucker Treat Cups and I repurposed it for my page.

I haven't purchased any Christmas paper in ages however I have some layouts to make of recent events, so it really helped make my page Christmassy! Not to mention that there is enough room to journal in the middle.

I love how the circle frames my photos! It was so simple to print out on a sheet of 12 by 12 paper!

Can you see that pretty little photo there at the corner showing the parade banner for Sister Cities? Lexi is in that club in school and really enjoyed the parade! It was her first parade and she passed out candy! Fun times!

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Round Peacock Table Project

The other day Lexi and I sold a table on Market Place that had been out there for a while. It wasn't one I created specifically to sell, but was something extra. So, now that we had more room....we had to go find our next item to work on! I passed over a three drawer piece that has a beautiful mirror (for now) and picked up this cute round table. 

It's pretty simple and also not huge, so it should be a nice piece for her to paint during the long break from college over the holidays. I even let her pick the paint. We decided to go a little fancy with this paint job. It will be distressed so won't be too bright. Her first steps will be to wipe the table down with deglosser that will take the shiny off the varnish so it's easy to paint. Then she will apply the chalk paint which is pretty forgiving. Later, I'll distress it and add a coat of matte clear coat.

I also might add this transfer by Prima. It's pretty simple to add. Works the best with a surface that isn't shiny, so the chalk board paint will work really well. We'll have to see how it looks all painted!

Anyhow, wish us luck! Our latest piece hasn't sold yet, but I had someone ask me to hold it until after Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Tiny Tools on Upcycled Peach Jars

The other day I was lurking around the Christmas stuff at our ReStore and happened across a bunch of baby tools. They were for a very small Christmas tree, but would work perfect for a cool gift.

Can you see the little drill, saw, and wrench sticking out? They look cute with the diamond plate paper leaves! I've got a couple of special guys in mind for these. I'll fill them with something yummy and perhaps give them away with a six pack of beer!

Here's another photo of them so you can also enjoy our icy, yet sunny day. The sun has been rare around these parts so I was excited to get a few photos of things before it either snowed or rained again!

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Christmas Chinese Take-Out Box for THE CUTTING CAFE

'Tis the season for happy little decorated boxes filled with cool things! Regina gifted us an assignment to use any of her Christmas files of which she has so many!!! I opted to use a file that can really be anything you dream it can be...the little Chinese take out box.

I really added a lot of pretty bling to match that paper! And check out that Yvonne Yam tassel! She also passed along that pretty pearl trim. The copper handle was all my own doing. I wanted something sturdy yet kinda rustic!

One of my favorite parts is that floppy snowflake! I found a bunch of them the other day and I wanted to use one right away! This little box is off to brighten someone's day. I haven't done a RAK in a VERY long time. I'll pass it along to the universe tomorrow when I'm off picking out a few treats for some dear family members!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

KONG: Skull Island layout from Hawaii

Nothing like a couple of extra days off to inspire you to wrap up a layout from this past spring. I had ONE MORE page to complete from our Hawaii trip and I had decided to wait until Halloween to scrap it for two reasons. The first was that I was nearly out of the paper packet I had used to scrap a lot of the photos and the second was, well a huge skull & bones scattered all over the ground.

Halloween is long past. In fact, we're even done now with fall here. We had an early snow fall and unlike how things normally work here...that snow is still on the ground. It does mean a cease fire on the outdoor work so the painting tasks that were not wrapped up are left for the next spring. This means more time in the scrap room! Hooray!

If you notice, I have a lot of strips & blocks of paper. I assure you that although they look like whole pieces, a lot were pieced together. I used a whole handful of paper scraps up! As I'm being really intentional about paper buying (it's the only product I have besides glitter that seems to multiply on it's own...why can't the T!M die cuts do that) this is a good thing!

I can imagine living & working on this ranch, that the view below never gets old. Those hills have been the backdrop of many a movie, including KONG:  Skull Island. In fact if you look really close on the right hand side around the middle, those big bones are sitting right out waiting for the movie cameras to roll. They are made of a very light weight plastic (it reminds me of the spray foam we use at work) and weather quite well.

Here's a photo I didn't use, but you can see the scale. I WISH they had let us in to see them closer and perhaps play with them! This was the very end of the tour and sadly the end of our trip in Hawaii. Seems so long ago that we were among the pretty flowers now that we have snow on the ground!

Happy Thursday! Hope your day is super productive!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Musings Over Stuffing

I'm making the stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. Since we are just rolls away from sitting down and my side involves adding hot water, butter, and some fork fluffing, I'm pretty sure I've got things under control. My Mom is at the stove where she's working on putting the two dozen rolls on a tray. I'm considering how it would be easiest to boil the water. The microwave which is above her head would be quickest....but also involves grabbing the glass measuring cup which is in the cupboard by her knee. I hear the oven creak open and as soon as she's moved, I've nabbed that space and more importantly, the stove.

It occurs to me as we dance around the kitchen in a ballet of food prep, that at work, our Habitat for Humanity Build Club is a lot like Thanksgiving dinner. My husband and Dad are watching from the sidelines, offering antidotes and unneeded advice while my Mom and I battle over who gets to use the saw. We both want to get our projects done. There is only one stove or one saw. We have to work together.

She had taken over from the start, even though it's my kitchen. I'm OK handing over the responsibility since she brought the turkey. It's hard though, because I know where all the things are she needs. I also know where the missing beaters are for the potatoes. They are in the camper and she doesn't want to wait while THE MAN ventures out to find them.

Why are they in the camper, he muses. Deviled eggs two camping trips ago, I mutter under my breath. He urges her to use the right beaters after he retrieves them and she gives him the eye ball. This happens weekly over at the Habitat House. Nobody has time to wait for the right (insert tool here) and sometimes the stain can gets opened with a chisel. That whole use the right tool for the right job motto does not apply when you are older than sixty. Nobody can tell you what to do, you've already done it the right way hundreds of times.

Besides, you can open a can of stain with a chisel. Or beat the potatoes with beaters for bread. It all works. In the end you have a delicious dinner or completed house. It's all pretty amazing when you think about it. Many hands coming together to create something brand new be it a house or a big family dinner. I'd venture to say each completed house is nearly miraculous. I'm nearly finishing the 5th that I've worked on and I'm still not sure how it will get all done. At work we mutter Build on Faith repeatedly although each time we say it it's just as scary as the first time.

The house will be done some day very soon and we'll be packing up our stuff and moving on to the next. This is very much like Turkey Day here. The leftovers are packed away in the fridge and it's time to move on to the next big event, Christmas. Time to get out the lights, tree and sparkly bits. The house we're moving on to doesn't have any lights, so it's time to get out the cage lights and get things lit!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Candy Bar Pocket Box Holders for THE CUTTING CAFE

What a sweet treat! I was very impressed on how easy these little boxes were to cut out and embellish! In fact, I made four in one go and then cut out those little deer to decorate them with! Love this file from THE CUTTING CAFE called the Pocket Box Template.

The one I used was deep enough to slide a "fat" candy bar into and I'm going to try using a "thin" candy bar with some little scrap treats for some friends! Just a few little lovely pearls, some leaves an acrylic rose and these are done!

I hope these got you inspired to make a few little goodies for your friends for the holidays! The other set I made are just done in every day paper so you can use them any time of year!

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Drill Baby Drill Layout with THE CUTTING CAFE

These two cuties demanded a pumpkin the other day. Not just any pumpkin but a BIG PUMPKIN. Their Dad tried his hardest to escape picking one up, but since he was making a hardware run next door to a store, he ended up getting them the nicest one he could find. It's likely the last pumpkin a Pratt kid will carve, so I decided to make a page about it.

It's a pretty simple page. The really great part was finding the perfect paper and then adding those premade die cut apples from THE APPLE TREAT BOX file over at THE CUTTING CAFE. See, this page will go right next door to another page I made using those apples

These two pages next to each other really make me smile! Love seeing Megan and Luke having some fall fun!

Happy Saturday to you! I'm off to work on some centerpieces for an upcoming party and the oldest is playing with chalk paint & a really old parlor table!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Sweet Time: Layout for THE CUTTING CAFE

Goodness gracious it was nice to spend some time in my craft room this past weekend! Took a little bit before I could get to the fun stuff. Not only am I enjoying a new printer, but my laptop recently died, so I have a new one of those too!

My original plan was to make apples for this page using my Silly & then print that circle graphic out on top of the shimmery apple. I tried three times and I didn't quite have the hang of the new printer as of yet to get that all accomplished. So I printed one on nice paper & cut it out.

The apples are from THE APPLE TREAT BOX file over at THE CUTTING CAFE. I made quite a few cut out of white paper once I got the Silly set up on the new machine. Then I inked them up with red & orange & sprayed them with a shimmer spray for the mottled water color look. The Be Thankful circle graphic is also from THE CUTTING CAFE and part of the So Thankful Circle Set.

Lately I've been making a lot of extras, which is nice for some cards or a layout later. In this case I have enough for five more cards that I'm going to share with friends at an event I'm going to. Love that cut out heart I added to the middle! So cool!

One more page done and dusted, one card, and five card kits! Not bad for a day where I spent a large chunk of it getting my technology all set up! Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Victorian Sugar Skull Piece: Artists Collaboration

About a month ago, I was seeding and sticky strawing our most recent Habitat for Humanity house lawn. It was pretty late in the season, but we're on a slope and I really wanted to cut down on the mud being tracked into the house. While raking, I found a little wad of metal & these really cool vintage items welded onto them. It had been rolled around by the equipment and probably dug out of the hill.

One of the house lots we built the house on was previously where a house that had burned down, so we've been finding bottles, glass pieces, and all kinds of fun things.

I ran my found vintage metal bits through the dishwasher and this is what they looked like after all the grime & mud came off. So pretty!

Really loved the patina on the biggest one, but it was hard to see so I repainted it a green patina color & added some peals for accent. Honestly everything on this project was pretty much from my stash or were found items. The only thing I bought were those little roses which are Tim Holtz, Idea-ology and were awesome to ink up with some alcohol inks. Took the color really well & made me happy!

This piece was made as part of an artist collaboration. It was supposed to be Halloweenie, but fought me all the way on that part. I settled for it being a transformation. When you dress up for Halloween, if you've really done it all the way you are someone completely different than who you started as. I see this piece as having done that very same thing. It was originally just "junk" rolling around a new house site and now it something very unique. Which, now that I'm thinking about it is just what our Habitat house is. It starts as a pile of lumber and through a lot of hard work on the part of volunteers transforms slowly into a dwelling that will change the life of the inhabitants & those who worked very hard on it. So cool!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A College Tour & Sideways Rain

We left at O Dark Thirty. For those of you unfamiliar with that time, it's early enough where you drive in the dark just long enough to be annoying, your head keeps telling you it's not the right time to even be up, and coffee really isn't cutting it. Good thing we did though, as we pretty much did the WHOLE COLLEGE TOUR. Like we saw all of it. ON THE BEST FREAKING DAY OF THE YEAR. Anyhow, I digress.

So, Lexi is looking at SUNY Schools (State University of NY). Since the beginning of time we have urged her to stay away from the private schools with their high tuition rates, keeping her loan costs low, and being smart about where she is applying. Of course it appears now that there are only two state colleges that actually have the field of study that she is interested in and one happens to be in the middle of Long Island which involves traveling through New York City. So, we went to visit the one college that has Astronomy and isn't in the middle of Long Island.

The forecast called for a 100% chance of rain and I believe the weather tried to exceed that prediction. I think the only time it stopped raining was when we were five minutes from home. The upside was that it wasn't snowing, although it might have kept one dryer. We came armed with umbrellas & boots. We got there just at 10 am, which was when the event started. Upon rounding the corner to the gym where all the tables were set up, a bunch of cheerful students wearing yellow t-shirts over their winter jackets started jumping up and down and yelling WELCOME TO SUNY NEW PALTZ!!!! Chipper little turds. I started crying, but lucky for me nobody could tell because hello freaking sideways rain. Right about then the umbrella went inside out for the first time of the day and I stopped crying and started laughing.

A little chit chat in the gym at various tables (Financial Aid, Transfer Student, Etc.) was followed by a tour of the Physics department. I swear it took twenty hellish minutes with rain rolling down my sleeve to get across campus to the most awesome building ever. I had taken to holding the one side of the umbrella down so it would stay right side out. Turns out they have a completely new science center, which was full of rocks in glass cases. Nobody would let me look at rocks. We had to go look at lasers and tables that floated on air. Ok, so the Physics department was super cool.

We then hit an astronomy show and then THE MAN made us eat lunch in five minutes because hello, we still had to tour campus in the sideways rain. Joined a group and toured everything. Due to the weather, students were strangely absent except for the cheerful yelling ones with the t-shirts over their coats. We found all the students at the dining hall and stepped past the buffet of pizza and extremely large waffles to emerge again in the sideways rain. Two more dorm tours later and I was pretty much done. The last one smelled like a combination of stale milk and rice krispies with a side of teen spirit and three girls who wouldn't look at us were in a room slightly bigger than my laundry room.

Sadly the tour didn't include a stop at the local brew pup to help erase dorm living from the brain. I'm slightly claustrophobic so the whole thing gave me the shudders. Turns out the other two in my party were also not excited. Right about then Lexi learned if she transferred too early, she'd have to give up her car. Dorm living is an essential part of college so she'll have to rally.

Well, the first tour is done and dusted. We have two more scheduled and then have decided to circle back around to come to some conclusions on next steps. I'd be extremely grateful if the next tour could have a little less weather. I don't think my umbrella can take much more.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Wine, Cheesecake, & Sugar Skulls: An Evening to Remember

It had been a long week. A long week of work type stuff in the evenings & not much fun. THE MAN was like you deserve a night out. Have fun & call me if you need a ride home. With that, the girls and I were off to Wine & Design on Market Street. See, we can bring WINE (or Angry Orchard if you are me) to our 'lil painting party. We also brought pizza and cheesecake and we were painting for about 3 1/2 hours, so plenty of time to have a little fun & chitchat with your friends.

While painting, Teri & Angel were wondering where I'd put my painting. I was HOPING it would inspire me to put up some of my seasonal decorations. I have all kinds of fun things to put out for fall like glass pumpkins & a sugar skull I made a while back.

The next morning, I added a few bits to my painting. Gems for the eyes and some real flowers to augment the painted on on rose. I also took out my paint pen to outline a few more things...what a fun evening and painting to remember it!

I enjoyed my new painting all last week as I was inspired enough to get out my fun fall stuff and decorate. I even redid the top of another cabinet. So pretty! Makes me smile every time I walk by.

So pretty with vintage silver, mercury glass pumpkin, and that chippy window frame!

One last glance at what I'll be looking at this week as I come & go. Makes me happy! This will be up until Thanksgiving until it's time to roll out all the vintage Christmas goodies! Happy Monday!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Blood, Sweat, and Candy Bars

The other day, Harrie was over at the Habitat House we're working on, doing the final stairs. I was helping because any day spent working on a fun project beats email and office work any day, besides I was pretty sure he needed a hand. Working with Harrie is fun. He's normally used to working alone so it takes him a couple of hours before he realizes he has another human to communicate with and starts using his words. I'm used to THE MAN using too many words when I'm his helper, so it's a nice change. Yesterday THE MAN used a few of those words laying on his back under the 4-Wheeler when I complained he had the good tape measure and I needed it. Since I don't have to share the scrapbook supplies, I can't imagine how he feels sharing the garage & tools. Poor guy.

Anyway, I've digressed.

So, I noticed Harrie was using his thumb nail to carve a groove in the laminate edging we were using to notate how big a piece we needed. Reminded me of how I measure paper when I scrap, so I was all over it. It also involved an iron and because I was too lazy to run around the house and find a sanding block, a rotary sander. At some point we needed some very little pieces made and I was carefully working on those in the bathroom. Our Electrician Mike was also working on the basement which involved turning off power to various things and most of the plugs I wanted to use weren't live, so was working in the bathroom, which is currently green sheet rock & a cement floor. Anyhow, I slipped with the sander and nicked my finger in two places, which immediately starting bleeding like a stuck pig.

Having watched many a dude who cuts themselves while working, I played it cool. I walked deliberately out the back door, up the hill, across the front porch and into the house where I found a paper towel and assessed the damage. Yup. It was a two band aide job. Harrie meanwhile had found his voice and was asking for me. Yelling down Harrie I'm bleeding I'll be right there, I quickly wrapped two band aides and headed back down to the basement the same way I came.

It's a pain in the ass working on stairs and you can't use them.

In retrospect, I was very glad that I couldn't use the stairs. Later I found the blood trail across the front deck & the blood splatter in the bathroom and thought wow, glad I didn't have to clean that out of freshly stained boards....Anyhow Harrie didn't ask what I had done and we spent the rest of the day on the stairs. At the very end of the day, we had a big chunk of the thick stair tread left over. I had assumed that Harrie had intended to use that as a shelf on the landing. I was incorrect. He said it was just left over. I looked at the board and thought, well let's try it. It looked like it might be too short. Randomly it was exactly the perfect size we needed and now we have a lovely little shelf right in the middle that looks like it was meant to be.

I'm telling everyone that Harrie planned it that way. ;-) I might even use the words "mad skills," "awesome carpenter," and "genus use of supplies."

Anyhow, the next day I spent hours on my knees filling in the nail holes with putty, cleaning the steps, adding more stain to any spots I missed when I first stained them & the nail holes. Then I cleared them. I haven't ever worked on stairs before ever. I have however played around with a lot of furniture pieces and I treated these the same way.

At some point in the afternoon, the homeowner came over to measure the windows for curtains. Her son was very interested in what I was doing so I gave him a brush and showed him how to methodically do the clear coat. Then I sent him upstairs to raid the candy bar stash in the fridge. He then went outside to search for any dropped nails or screws. I believe he has a collection. Friday's find was a two inch green deck screw with a star bit top. I recall as a kid when my stairs were built on the farm, so no doubt he'll remember this day.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

One for Me and One for You: THE CUTTING CAFE

The other day I cut that pumpkin out for use on a CUTTING CAFE project. I made a pillow box for Eddie and it seemed a shame to waste that huge sheet of orange so I decided to use it on a layout. The cutting file is from the Halloween Pillow Box set and if you are careful, you can use it like I did! I also used another cutting file to augment this page. I made those pumpkins to use on this layout. It's from the Pumpkin Trio Shaped Card Template and I made a lot. I knew I'd want more so I made sure to have left overs.

I really like how that pumpkin turned out with that pretty paper on the background! So pretty! Some of it is sparkly foil, but of course you lose that detail with a photo.

I had so much fun with the first page that I created a second page for Teri, who's littles are featured on my layout. Aren't they so cute!

I used up the last of those pumpkins I cut out from the Pumpkin Trio Shaped Card Template on the layout for Teri. So pretty! I had also cut out that pillow box from a sheet of paper that had that banner that says "good times together" on it, so used up more scraps! Pretty successful pulling all the scraps & extra cutting files together!

Loved using these files this way! Give it a try!

Happy Sunday!

Monday, October 15, 2018

My Dad's Eulogy for Grandma Skip

You never know where one of your scrapbooks might end up. I did this whole scrapbook ten years ago for my Grandma Skip's 80th Birthday. They held the party at St. Paul's Church, which is where I was this past weekend for her memorial service. My Aunt brought the book I made for Grandma to share. We miss Grandma Skip very much, but we had some great stories from my Father to enjoy. I'm sharing his words here with you today because they made me laugh and are also a snippet of time gone by. Some of the things he learned from his Mom were also things I learned from my Grandma. Certainly I too am also extremely creative. I also can iron, which was a lesson I had from her one day, as well as using a well chosen swearword to get your point across. ;-) 

Eulogy for Mom
By Bruce H. Mero

On behalf of my wife Gretchen, my sister Caryl and our collected kids and grandkids, I’d like to thank everyone gathered here today to say good-by to my mom, Joann Mero, a.k.a. Skip. I was surprised to learn that some of you had no idea of Skip’s given name, Joann. She has been known as Skip for all of her adult life. We do not know the source of “Skip”, though we suspect my Grandfather Curt Wagner hung it on her early in her life and it stuck.

She was a remarkable lady. Dementia took her away from us slowly, but she did not go easily. She fought the disease tooth and nail. Dementia stripped her of her ability to communicate and dis-inhibited her from social norms of behavior.  The last couple of years of her life were not hers. She was not the Skip we were accustomed to.

Mom was born to a mid-wife in a house in Oneida Castle in 1928. Her original birth certificate named her Joan, which Grandpa Curt quickly had amended to Joann. Grandpa and Grandma Wagner relocated to Sayles Street during Mom’s childhood and she grew up there. She graduated from Oneida High School where she caught the bug for painting which was a prominent theme in her life thereafter. I’ll talk more about that shortly. Grandpa Curt owned an airport on Lenox Ave and sold airplanes. Skip learned to fly. Both of her sisters Jeanne and Jane also took flying lessons. It was at that little airport that Mom met my Dad, a B-17 pilot recently returned from WWII.  They married in 1946.  Mom had two kids and we all lived in the Wagner family compound on Sayles Street, Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Joe and their older kids lived there also for a while. Mom worked at several jobs to support the family while Dad was getting a degree in Architecture from Syracuse University. I remember she told me that she worked at Richard’s Jewelry.  Later on she sold men’s clothes at Hodges. She also worked in a couple of photography studios, I can remember Eddie Monaco’s for one.

Dad and Mom built a house in Canastota, an Architect’s Dream House and we moved there in 1962.  Skip decorated that house with the latest in furniture and accessories. Herman Miller and Haywood-Wakefield were her favored brands. She was a fastidious housekeeper. Gretchen tells of one of her earliest visits to the house when Mom emptied and washed the ashtray each time a cigarette butt appeared.

Caryl and I were never officially granted permission to have pets, except for the occasional baby turtles and goldfish, Skip refused to have a pet’s mess in her house. During her childhood Grandpa and Grandma kept a goat, Lenna, and multiple dogs, but Skip was tough with us at her house.  We did manage to break her occasionally. She reluctantly relented when an adult long-haired cat showed up at the house in Canastota. Caryl named it Mokey, but it only lived with us for a short while. Its time with us was toast the day the cat dragged a dead rabbit onto to the top of Skip’s convertible Oldsmobile in the garage, where the cat dismembered the rabbit and ate it. The white canvas top on the Oldsmobile was a bloody mess, of course. The cat disappeared shortly thereafter. I think my Dad saw to that just to keep sanity in the house.

Against her protests, we were able to keep a pair of male white rats our Dad brought home from the office one afternoon. They were cute, she admitted but the cuteness faded a couple of weeks later when it was discovered that one of the two male rats apparently had undergone  a sex change and eight little pink babies appeared in the cardboard box they were housed in. Skip threw a fit after the rats multiplied, chewed thru the cage I’d made, escaped and infested the house…all 43 of them. The lady at the local pound hung up the phone when I called and asked permission to donate the re-captured rats to them. They went there anyways, Skip drove them there herself. We never did find three of the escapees.

The only critter I can remember that Mom ever brought home was a tiny baby gray squirrel she rescued from the street near downtown Oneida. It was tiny, no bigger than my thumb. Mom carried it home in her purse and nursed it with a toy baby bottle she borrowed from Caryl. The little guy (we assumed it was a male as none of us knew how to determine the sex of a baby gray squirrel) missed its mother, of course, and cried continually. Mom named it Crying Charlie. That squirrel lived with us for more than a year. We fed Charlie cat food left over from the previous resident. It lived mostly on the block wall in the house and exterior block walls during nice weather.  Charlie left us during a thunder storm in August his second year in residence.

Gretchen adopted a scruffy dog our fourth year at Syracuse. She named him George. Skip shared custody of George while Gretchen and I were in Venezuela for a semester. George lived with Skip at the Canastota house for four months. George was a city dog and country life was antithetical. Everything spooked him and he barked at noises and shadows continually, wearing off the paint on a window sill near the patio and keeping Mom constantly spooked. 

It was not a secret that Skippy had a lead foot on the gas petal and had multiple excessive speed “encounters” with the authorities over the years. I is little I wish to know of her interactions with city cops, local County Sheriffs or State Troopers, but I suspect they all might have been on first-name basis with my Mom.

Wintertime in the Canastota house was particularly an issue for Skippy. I do remember anxiously anticipating Mom’s return whenever she’d been out and the weather was nasty. She always drove big cars and at the time owned a huge red car- that same Oldsmobile convertible the cat had defiled. We knew she was on the way home a half-mile away when a red car turned the corner off Route 5 and sped up the Clockville Road at warp speed. Dad would warn me that she was on the way and we’d get our winter gear on. Grandpa’s old Willies Jeep sat in the driveway.  I’d meet Mom half-way up the driveway with the Jeep. Her red car was cross-ways in the driveway and she was steaming her way on foot thru the ice and snow toward the house, uttering unthinkables about the winter, the driveway and whatever else she perceived had spun her around. Dad and I would hook onto the car with a chain and with the Jeep get the car straight in the driveway and eventually tow it into the garage. She cooled off after a bit, but the scene would repeat itself numerous times until the ice melted off the driveway and she made it to the garage in one try.

She insisted that Caryl and I learn to iron our own clothes and that we keep our bedrooms spotless. Mom worked in a men’s clothing store and kept me in the latest of men’s fashions. When I was voted the best dressed boy in my high school senior class, Skip’s claimed the honor as her crowning achievement.

Skippy imparted her love of gardening to both Caryl and I and ultimately to Gretchen.
Mom’s marriage to my Dad was a rocky one. They eventually divorced in the early 1970s while Gretchen and I were in the Peace Corps and Caryl was newly married. By the time we returned to the States, the Canastota house had been sold and she’d moved to Wampsville with a friend.
The most important constant in my Mom’s life was her art. She attributed her initial interest in drawing to her High School art teacher, Janette Shortell. I took Ms. Shortell’s art class while in Jr. High in Oneida and the lady remembered my mom as her best student ever, a fact that gave me great pride. Mom was a hard act to follow.

Oil paint on canvass was Skip’s favorite media, but she also painted on leather, satin, metal, wood, burlap, motorcycle helmets, neckties and all sorts of other things not only with oils, but also watercolors, acrylics, ink, textile paints and house paints.

Skip kept a diary of the artwork she did. Every piece is chronicled in her tiny handwriting with dates, titles, media, the price charged and for whom each was painted. Her first entry in the diary was an oil painting commissioned by her mother. That was in 1948 and the sale price was 62 cents, the cost of a new canvass. One of the last entries in the diary is an oil painting of a Maine Lighthouse, sold to a friend for $400. I know there were later works, so I think that the diary I have is incomplete. It seems that she always had something she was working on, or multiple things, while oil paints were curing on something else she was doing. That being said, there are 367 items listed on the diary pages I have.There was a time when she put initials and pin striping on automobiles. Her diary lists work on 54 cars.

Mom developed severe arthritis in her hands. By the mid to late 70’s, she decided to get treatment for the condition by having the arthritic knuckles in her fingers on both hands replaced. Gretchen drove her to a specialist in Syracuse multiple times for the surgery and subsequent treatments. Often during her appointments she shared the Doctor’s waiting room with several basketball players from Syracuse University, something she found very exciting and always called me about. I can imagine 4’10” Skippy standing next to the 7’ plus big men from SU. The surgeon who replaced her knuckles recommended that she discontinue her painting, for fear that even the artificial joints would deteriorate. You can guess how far that suggestion went.

Skip was a founding member of the Mid-State Art Society and president of the group during the mid-1970s. She was a member of the Kirkland Art Society and the Penn Yan Art Society. She held several one-woman shows. Her work has been exhibited in many local businesses, banks, restaurants, the Cottage Lawn Historical Society and other venues too numerous to mention. An odd tribute to her work was the fact that a large oil painting of a tiger was stolen from an exhibit in the main hall at the Madison County Court House, in Wampsville. Someone took it off the wall and walked off with it, never to be recovered.

In addition to her exploits on canvass, Mom was also an expert house painter, exterior and interior. Her hands were small, so everything was done with a 2” or smaller brush. She called me once just after Gretchen and I moved in to our house and said that she’d purchased a gallon of house paint for us to paint the chimney my Dad and I had recently built. Since we had a thousand other things to do on that old house, I thanked her and told her that we’d get to that detail as soon as we could, possibly before winter. She was not satisfied with my response, I soon learned. I came home from work a few days later to find her on my roof, painting the chimney with her can of paint and, of course, a 2” paint brush.  

Mom eventually moved to an apartment on Cleveland Avenue, next door to Uncle Joe and Aunt Jean’s in Oneida. She worked in the Business Office at Oneida Hospital, when she retired, she volunteered in the hospital gift shop.  We recently found a pin awarded to her for 3500 volunteer hours at Oneida Hospital.

Her passion was still painting, but she was never indoors when the weather was nice. With the approval of her landlady, Barb, Skip immersed herself in her small garden there, then in Barb’s garden, then Uncle Joe’s yard and so on down the block. She got poison ivy while pulling weeds from Uncle Joe’s hedge along the sidewalk. She claimed the median in front of her apartment on Cleveland Ave as part of her garden and raked leaves and sticks, trimmed shrubs and wrote letters to the City of Oneida when she felt the median needed city attention. She was very unhappy to find dog poop there and wrote more letters to the city. (Truth-be- known, I am familiar with those letters because I was her ghost writer on multiple occasions). Then mayor of Oneida appointed her to a Tree Commission, because of her intense interest in “Green Issues” within the city, in spite of the fact she later admitted to me, couldn’t tell an Elm tree from a Maple tree. Unfortunately, the Tree Commission dissolved when the guy lost the next mayoral election. Her garden even extended to the grounds around this church. Mom spent hours weeding, trimming, planting and other garden tasks right here at St. Paul’s. I think she planted the crabapple tree to the rear of the main sign out front.

When the city repaved Cleveland Avenue, they left a dip in the blacktop at the end of her driveway which formed a large puddle whenever it rained. At times she became obsessed with that puddle. She sent more letters to the Mayor, then to the Oneida Daily Dispatch. Barb tells me that the pond at the end of the driveway is still there.

She made friends with the mailman. He was rewarded for putting her mail on the porch with cookies or a candy bar, daily. Before his expected arrival with her mail she would make sure the ice and snow were absolutely gone from the steps, using table salt from her salt shaker to finish the job. We brought her a big bag of rock salt and told her that it would be better than table salt, but it went unused. She did not want to track the rock salt onto the porch where she’d have to clean it up, so table salt was the solution.

Skip was not satisfied with just keeping her steps clear of ice and snow, she said it was so the mailman didn’t fall, but a few of her “elderly” neighbors were the recipient of her snow removal operations, as well. She would shovel the sidewalk adjacent to Uncle Joe’s place, sometimes down Seneca Street to Joe’s front steps, then in the opposite direction as far as Mr. Parker’s house, two or three doors from hers up the block. She made sure the front steps on each house were cleaned, for the mailman, of course, salt shaker in her pocket if needed. Her snow removal tool was a child’s toy shovel, plastic, about 10” x 12” with a ½” dowel for a handle. She would wear one out every winter; I know that because we found several in her cellar when we moved her from that apartment, each scraped several inches shorter than when new.  I should add that she was in her 80s when most of the shoveling occurred. More than once when we were with her at a restaurant or bank or somewhere downtown, strangers would recognize her and greet her as the “Lady who shovels Cleveland Avenue”.

I think that I have gone on long enough. I could tell stories of my Mom all morning.
We loved our Mom. She loved us. She loved and was tremendously proud of her three Grandkids and her six Great-grandkids. You guys need to know that. Grandma Skip was not herself once the disease took her. She loved and cherished all of her nieces and nephews and their kids. She just had difficulty at the end of her life expressing that love.

And to all of you here, she loved this church. She was baptized in the Lake Street St. Paul’s in February 1929. This church was an important part of her life for many, many years.
I want to thank you all again for coming here today to memorialize the life of a remarkable woman, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, great-aunt friend and parishioner… Skip Mero. I want to especially thank my Arnold sister cousins for helping out here today, especially Cousin Kimmy for her work on the photo show and my cousins Tarie, Susie and Annie for her help with the luncheon that will follow this ceremony and especially for their lovely notes of sympathy.
I will end with a phrase I learned a long time ago in Persian for this type of occasion…Joya Shoma Halee, in English ‘Mom, your place is empty.’ 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Happy 13th Birthday Eddie: Pillow Box (Bag) for THE CUTTING CAFE

Goodness the days are short! I had to sneak out quick to get a photo of my pillow box before the sun set! It's been raining every other day which isn't a good thing for paper & taking a photo so lucky me found a time when it wasn't. My nephew Eddie turned 13 just the other day and I made a pillow box "bag" to hold a bunch of birthday goodies.

So, I made a bag instead of the box by removing the cutting lines on the top that made it fold over. Then I punched two holes in it & tied it with twine!

The little pumpkin is part of the Halloween Pillow Box set over at THE CUTTING CAFE and instead of having it cut OUT of the box, I cut it separately and used it as a "tag" for my pillow bag. A few stamps & a sticker made it all personalized.

I should have taken a photo of this piece with something for scale, but it's as big as I could make it. I have some goodies to stuff inside with a gift card.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Inspired by Recycling

This past Sunday morning was a rainy one. I knew I had paint projects outside that needed doing, but the rain was going to allow me some time with some paint & hot glue. I was at a loss for a project though until I toasted a bagel & used up the cream cheese....

Made bagels for everyone else and finished another....The great part is that these little ovals are stackable! I can make another that matches for storing little things OR I can gift this one and make another! Pretty pumped on how that lace turned out on the side!

I used some embossed metal foil that I painted over with gesso, some pink shimmer spray, and modge podge glitter glue. So pretty. Love the texture!!!!

These prima flowers are so pretty! I really love the little seed bead centers! Extra pretty!

Happy Tuesday!