Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Garage Sale SUCCESS!

What kind of scrapbooker am I?  I had my record BEST garage sale on Saturday and sold $1000 worth of art supplies and various junk and didn't take ONE photo.  All of it was art and craft related.  I put the add on Craigslist and included my phone number.  I got a lot of calls from people about the sale in advance.  People were very respectful and didn't come early.  I was happy to donate the leftovers to the Hall Closet and get it out of my garage.  It feels really great to have all those things gone.  Now I am looking at how I can get rid of even more and have another huge sale in November or December.

Some of you know I have been struggling with a frozen shoulder for most of the year.  I just found out that there is a significant tear in my rotator cuff, and I will probably need surgery.  OK... that will happen after the first of the year.  I can't be limited in my mobility before the holidays.  I need to be able to do all my holiday baking and crafting.  I am selling in 2 boutiques this year in November.  At least they are letting me see the doctor I want, the same one who did my nephew and sister-in-law's surgeries.  I will be glad to get the mobility back in my shoulder.

Check out this adorable little Breezy Bug I photographed in my front yard this morning... Invasive pests, they're here and they're hungry...  Anyone heard those adds on the radio by the California agriculture department?  They crack me up.  Like them, Breezy never met a plant she didn't like... and enjoys picking flowers and pods and some of the last tomatoes. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Letting Go....

It seems as if everyone I know is in a state of loss.... Jobs, homes, income, lifestlyle, pets, family members, mobility, cognative function, health... With so many people losing so many things, doesn't it seem logical that we would want to HOLD ON to the things we can?  Hmmmm... Why can't we lose the things we want to lose, like weight, gray hair, bad memories, painful and ackward situations.  It would be so much easier if those things just disappeared. 

My mom and stepdad and my 2 year old niece have been living with us.  Having a two year old around all the time takes me back to that person I used to be when my kids were two.  I remember now how harassed I was when the boys were little.  How hard it was with them so close in age, and how I couldn't wait for them to outgrow another difficult phase.  Now they are both taller than me, and I look at them and wonder where the time went.  In 6 years Kayleigh will be off to college.  We will be empty nesters...

No one WANTS to spend time with me any more except Kayleigh.  The boys are here, but usually in their room watching tv or on some technoligical gadgetry of some kind.  I REFUSE to get my kids cell phones.  Austin was the only senior to raise his hand in school when the teacher asked who didn't have a cell phone.  He said he felt like a big DER...  I say technology is turning us all into a bunch of unsociable idiots.  I spend maybe 5 hours a week on the computer.  I check email and once in a while post on my blog or facebook.  I suppose if I had one of those newfangled phones with internet and all the apps, I would be on line more often.  I am kind of thankful for my old jankey Nokia from 7 years ago.  I have dropped it a hundred times and it still keeps working.  But it also enables me to have a fairly technology free life.  When I get in the car with my kids, we TALK... What a concept.  We listen to Alice Radio in the morning sometimes, and laugh along to the crazy talk with Sara and Vinnie, but basically, it is great time for us to chat, about our lives, and things that we have going on.  No one is texting friends of searching on their ipod.  Family dinner nites are sacred in our house.  Tuesday and every other Sunday is family dinner nite.  All of us are here together around the table, eating, yelling, carrying on and just being a big ole loud blended family.  I like to call us a modern day Waltons.  We usually play a game after dinner, or watch a movie.  Video games and internet are banned on family nites, and on weeknights in general for homework purposes. We only have one working computer that barely limps along, so the kids are allowed to use it only for homework.  The boys tend to obsess on the games otherwise and spend a lot of time on x-box live and WOW if I don't monitor it. 

SO what does all this babble have to do with loss...  I guess as I look at it, I am seeing ways that I have lost... contact with my kids, and good friends.  People I see rarely because we are "too busy with our lives".  I have been cleaning out the studio and turning it from a crap collecting room to an actual studio.  The plan is to have art friends over for regular get togethers and make things from all the cool stuff I have collected.  I want to start collecting good memories with family and friends.  My family and friends mean more to me than stuff...  but in the face of so much loss over the years, I found myself collecting little things here and there, until I had a TON of things that filled my space, and life, but not my heart.  They say that clutter is emotional baggage...  I say it is more than that...  For us altered artists, it is also stifled creativity.  All these things we collect to one day use to make something cool and artsy.  I had a room full of that.  Now I am getting it to a place where I have a lot of supplies, but they are all organized, and put away in a way that I can use them to create, rather than collect them to maybe do something with one day...

Purging is hard for me.  But nonetheless, I take a truckload to the store every week of things I am getting rid of.  And adding another run every few weeks to the depot to get rid of the artsy stuff the closet can't use.  I get a sense of freedom, a big release every time I get rid of something.   And I am loving all the negative space in my house!  It is like a Flashdance moment "What a feeling!"  I am getting there, a little more every week.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Art Gallery Show

We had our show at the mARTinez Art Gallery on the 18th.  The turn out was great, and I was very pleased with the work that was done by the young men on the YOTP unit.  Please check out the Green Youth Project blog here to see the wonderful artwork these talented young men have created.  I am so proud of all of them, and their accomplishments, and very honored to be working with them. 

I get mixed feedback when I tell people what I do.  Things like "Why do you want to work with 'those' kind of kids?"   I say why not?  It takes a certain type of person, to have passion for teaching, passion for art and creativity, and you have to really love kids, especially troubled teen agers.  I can check yes to all the above.  I have had many tell me they think I have found my calling.  I don't know about that... but I do know, that in spite of having my time slot moved several times, and dealing with a lot of internal politics, I am NOT giving up on these kids or this program. 

I need space for a reuse center.  I want to provide a safe place for the kids to go "on the outs" as they call being outside of incarceration.  A place that will help boost their self esteem, where they can work and earn some money and where they can connect with other artists to mentor them through their transitions.  So many of these kids have nothing to go back to once they get out.  With a 60% recidivism rate, the odds of rehabilitation are not in their favor.  I think we need to spend more money on programs for these kids while they are still young and able to be rehabilitated, BEFORE they end up in prison.  Programs like the one I am putting together, that connect them with mentors and positive role models.  There is really nothing out there like it.  I have the dream, the vision, the business plan, now I just need some money and the space to house it.... 

If anyone reading this knows of a space in Contra Costa County we could use for a while to house a very worthwhile program, please let me know....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A funny email today

I get lots of jokes form my Uncle Bob, but I rarely forward them. Not because they aren't funny, but just because I hardly ever have time to read them. I store them in a jokes file and every once in a while when I need a laugh, they are there waiting for me. I clicked on this one for some reason, and laughed so hard I had to share it. I have been complaining to Pascual about ALL of these things.... Being the Insurance Man that he is, he tells me that they are going to have to write me off as a total loss, and maybe some mechanic will buy me cheap and part me out.

IF MY BODY WERE A CAR.... If my body were a car, this is the time I would be thinking about trading it in for a newer model. I've got bumps and dents and scratches in my finish, and my paint job is getting a little dull. But that's not the worst of it. My headlights are out of focus, and it's especially hard to see things up close.My traction is not as graceful as it once was. I slip and slide and skid and bump into things even in the best of weather. My whitewalls are stained with varicose veins. It takes me hours to reach my maximum speed. My fuel rate burns inefficiently. But here's the worst of it -- Almost every time I sneeze, cough or laugh, either my radiator leaks or my exhaust backfires. CASH FOR CLUNKERS..........I QUALIFY

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pizza Night

Homemade pizza last night, Kayleigh was the chef. We make it in a 2 1/2 pound loaf bread machine and it takes 1 hour till the dough is ready. If you don't have a bread machine, get one at a local thrift store or garage sale. We use ours all the time and make fabulous bread with it. It kneads and proofs the dough and gets it through the first rise, then you shape it, let it rise again and bake... very easy. Even I can do it, and I am not the bread baker Paskie is... I am the cookie, cake and pie lady.

Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons bread yeast

1 tablespoon flax seed (optional)

Place all ingredients in bread machine pan according to the above order exactly. (wet ingredients always go first) Program the machine for the pizza cycle, and press start.

When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, remove the bread pan from the machine and turn dough out on to lightly floured surface. Divide dough by cutting with a knife into desired number of portions. Roll out to desired thickness. Transfer to baking stone or cookie sheet, spread sauce, cheese and toppings. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until pizza is desired golden brown doneness.

1 batch makes 3 pizzas as pictured, 18 inches wide with thick crust. I double it and make 4 large pizzas with my extra large cookie trays. We often make mini pizzas when the kids have friends over.

My favorite gourmet version is ranch salad dressing for the sauce with roasted garlic mixed in, fresh sliced mozzarella cheese, diced chicken breast browned in garlic, crispy crumbled bacon, chopped green onion, diced fresh tomatoes from the garden. It is delicious and it disappears fast. Some make it with Alfredo sauce, we tried both and you don't really notice the difference.

Give it a try. It will only cost you the price of the ingredients, which I guarantee will be less than half the cost of one pizza, and your kids will love making it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Making Pizza

Mom and Teen came over for the weekend and I made Pizza with Adrianna and Breezy. I love the photos of them rolling out the dough. Breezie was really into it, and wanted to eat the dough and threw a fit when we took it away. I love spending time with the family. I forget what it's like to hve a 2 year old around... She is into everything. She calls me Auntie and Pascual is Tio or sometimes Tito, and she tells us over an over "I low-lu" which is Breezie language for I love you. It just melts your heart when she says it... Ahhh... almost makes me want more...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Youth Poetry

I am starting up a new blog here specifically for the youth art program. I wanted to share a poem that was an honorable mention in the Juvenile Hall Poetry Contest in April, for National Poetry Month. Please check out the new blog for updates and info on the project featuring some of the art and poetry created by at risk youth.

No More!

You smile at the edge of sight,
and I turn to see you. No More!
You whisper between words,
and I hush to hear you. No More!
without you I am in darkness,
and the sun hides beneath the world.
No More! Will I ever be held down,
or be a menace to society. No More!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day at Tilden Park

We spent yesterday at Tilden Park with my mom and stepdad Teen. We had a great time with a picnic, and then a tour of the Botanical Gardens and ending at the Merry Go Round. I have never been to Tilden Park. My mom hadn't been since she was a kid. It is a lovely regional park with lots of picnic sites, and activities for a fun family day. Located off Fish Ranch Road just before going through the Caldecott tunnel, it runs out over the hills between Berkeley, Oakland and Orinda. On the way in there are some vista points with fabulous views of the entire San Francisco Bay. There are some lakes, a steam train, the Brazilian Room which is rented out for weddings and parties, horseback riding, pony rides. I was amazed at all the things they have out there. Donald, our friend from the Hall Closet runs the Merry Go Round out there. They do it up special for Christmas, and a special haunted house spooktacular theme at Halloween. If you live in the area, give it a try. Spring was a nice time, everything is in bloom. Pascual was surprised that such a large forested area even existed on the border of Berkeley and Oakland. I thoroughly recommend taking a look at your local regional parks website, and go see what is available in your area to explore. You never know, you may discover a new favorite place that you've never seen before. Here are some photos from the day.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Traveling for treasures

As anyone who knows me is aware, I will travel FAR with a big empty car to find cool art junk. I stop at all yard sales and flea markets, and I am always on the lookout for something I can use in my art classes with the kids.

My brother is turning a small box truck into a motorhome, with a garage in the back for his son to haul his motorcycles. I am thinking... hmm... I would like one of those for myself... I could fill it with supplies, and take it around to all the art retreats around the country, sell stuff at the vendor nites, and have lots of space to store stuff, and a place to sleep at nite while traveling around. It is the new gypsy wagon. Can't you see it, with a cool painting on the sides that says the art gypsy... It gives me a lot of ideas...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Soul Collage

Pascual and I went to a Soul Collage workshop on Valentines day, and he was such a great sport... Helping me make collages and visiting with all the ladies. He did some really cool ones himself. You can learn about Soul Collage here. It is a process of making your own personal power or divination cards, to help you look at issues in your life. It is a very personal and spiritual process. I want to start doing them with the kids in Juvenile Hall. These are the first two cards I made on Valentines Day.

When you are done making them , you go around the room and everyone reads their own card in what is like a channeled space. Another person scribes what you say and reads it back to you. I found this lady Sandy the facilitator on meetups.com and she is wonderful. If you live in the Bay Area, I would recommend a trip to her workshop to make some cards, it was a wonderful experience. I took my mom on Saturday and we both had such a great time...

I liked the fountain image, but when I turned it upside down, it looked exactly like the image I picture when I meditate, of what source energy looks like pouring down over me. I found the planet images to represent universal energy, and this is what came out... "I am the one who is the universal source of energy. I am the one who brings all the posibilities of the universe into being. I draw from many existances throughout the universe. I am all that is."

I loved the pregnant belly image, and I love clocks, I collect a lot of clock imagery. I had chosen the background of a firey star galaxy photo because I loved the colors. I put them together, and then went looking for a earth photo and found this one was perfect. I made the card in less that 5 minutes, the energy and creation if it just flowed. This is what I channeled: "I am the one who creates a new time in the world. I am pregnant with the possibilities of a new way of BEING on this planet. It is time to nurture and give birth to new ideas, taking the time to love ad grow while treating the planet with reverence and respect. My time is NOW. "

These cards I made on my second workshop day with my mother. Mom LOVED it, and had a lot of great information to share with everyone. Of course, she ROCKED at the channeling... but then she is a pro...

"I am the one who is drowning under the weight of unnecessary burdens. I add to these burdens by continually taking on more. The universe sends me tasks and challenges in small manageable pieces, and yet I let them overwhelm me. I need to be like the ice cube, and learn to float on top of the emotions, to stop fighting the current and let my life flow."

"I am the one who takes time to nurture herself. I am the one who moves effortlessly in a pain free body. I am grounded and centered when I make time for myself."

I have been trying to get the boys in my class to see beyond the images they are selecting... to find something different in the images that could make them something else entirely. I showed them these collages, and they were inspired. The light bulbs were popping on all over the room, and now I think they are getting it on a whole new level.

I love this medium... Any other Soul Collagers out there?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

I had a sweet valentines day with my honey... I made a Paella and tapas for him, and homemade chocolate truffles. Of course I forgot to photograph them... He bought me lots of Chocolate... In Catalonia they celebrate a sweethearts day in April where the women buy the men books and the men buy the women a red rose... We usually attend a Catalan party celebrating this holiday in the city with our Spanish friends. Pascual is getting more accustomed to American traditions... He says ours are Hallmark holidays and Spanish holidays are religious... and the Spanish have many more holidays that we do. No wonder they are so relaxed over there, they get a long weekend every month just about.

Here is a photo of the heart box I got in the Diva Swap from Jeri. I LOVED everything in it... So many cool things, and some I have never seen before. She altered a chocloates box and filled it with all kinds of artful goodies. Thanks so much Jeri... it was PERFECT!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Art at the Alameda Antiques Show

Wow is all I can say... a beautiful day spent by the bay with my very oldest and dearest friend Kellie... we celebrated 30 years together as friends last year... We have been together longer than any of my husbands. She has been through it all with me over the years, marriage, divorce, childbirth, deaths in the family, sports, sleepovers, drunken teenagers... We live a 5 minute drive away, and yet are both so busy, we never see one another... We made a promise to make time to hang out and do crafty things together....

I was walking the show snapping away like a tourist, and she would hightail it away from me when I started snapping. I usually ask first when taking photos. but one lady kind of got mad, and asked me to ask first... I told her it was to post on my blog, so people could see all the awesome things at the show, and then she said OK and was really nice about it...

I was so inspired by all I saw out there today... If you need some ideas, or are feeling creatively stuck... take a stroll to a local art or antiques show... Just being around different stuff can be inspiring... I was looking everywhere for the german doll man... This guy has a friend that sends him dolls he digs up from an old doll factory in Germany... He had a ton of them last time I was out there... If anyone knows where I can get some of those dolls, please send me a link or email me with some contact info.... I bought some sari's for $5 each, and some little bottles for $1 each... and a photo of a WWII Japanese American Soldier in uniform at one of the camps... oh and a bag of jewelry for $10....

If you have any favorite flea markets and would like to share them with me, I am compiling a list, and will be posting a directory on my blog soon... so please email me with your tips for the best places to find cool vintage art junk... We will post it on the Art Junk Gypsy resource list... I will travel FAR for good art junk...

SO I am sharing some photos of all the COOL things I was inspired by at the show... I saw more and more vendors making things with old objects and turning them into art...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Green Youth Project Art

Here is some artwork the young men at Juvenile Hall have been working on in our classes on Tuesday nights. They will be finishing them tonight, and I will share more photos. The assignment was to use images of President Obama to create the artwork, and then to use words and journaling to describe their own Yes We Can message... changing it to a Yes I can... Some of them were hesitant, and started in with, "Well, he never went to juvenile hall, or jail..." and I asked them if they were going to let the circumstances and things that happened to get them incarcerated define who they will be for the rest of their lives... "Well, no..." they agreed... I asked them, "So what do you want to do when you graduate from Juvenile Hall University? What are your dreams? Talk about them in your books..." I am excited to see what they come up with, and was pleasantly surprised with the work they have done so far. When I asked what they liked about Obama, they said he was "real" They especially liked the photos of him with his family, and shooting hoops and pool.... they all agreed they hope he can "Keep it real" during the tough challenges ahead of him in his presidency.

Monday, January 19, 2009



UPDATE!!!! I have chosen all the winners, and I will be contacting them and announcing them tonight. I have had connectivity issues here at home, and hope to have them resolved today so I can make the big announcement. I will post the winners name under the photo of what they have won here on this post. Comments are now closed on this post. Thanks to all of you for visiting me, I will be making the rounds to all the bloggers who posted to mine here in the coming days. I love this event, and have met so many incredible people as a result.

2/17/08 Finally I am able to access internet and post the winners. Thanks to everyone for your patience. All winners have been contacted for addresses... I have posted the winners below each photo.

Vicki Priebe is the winner of the paper bag album...

Jennifer Bowen is the winner of the CD book

Ozylynda is the winner of the garland heart.

Kate Tracton is the winner of the heart ornament

and awtemnymf is the winner of the bottle fairy...
Congratulations to all of you!! Thnks so much for visiting and participating in this awesome event...
It is that time of year again! Last year I participated in the One World One Heart giveaway event. You can learn about it here. Surf a bunch of blogs, and get to know some fantastic people in the process. I will be giving away some prizes here on my blog for the giveaway. To enter for the drawing, just leave a comment on this post at the bottom. You will be automatically entered to win one of 5 prizes I will be giving away. The drawing will be held on February 12th and I will announce the winners on the 13th after 8am PST. Please be sure you post your contact info in your post so I can get hold of you when you win!
As many of you know, I am the "Art Junk Gypsy" I travel far and wide for good "art junk". With my friend "The Dumpster Diva" scrounging cool things to make art from garbage, we are creating the reuse center of our dreams... All of the things you will win are things that have been created with dumpster diverted materials. A bottle fairy made from an old Sake bottle, a heart ornament made from garland and old jewelry, and a little photo album made with CD's, scrap papers and old 1950's jewelry... A paper bag album, a glass heart decorated with metallic trims and an old earring.

My goal with this giveaway is to have people look at garbage in another way. We are on our way with the reuse center. Watch my blog for info about Trashopia... the reuse center located inside Facchini Salvage's new location on w. 4th street in Antioch. It will be a one stop recycle shop, for all your reuse and recycling needs. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, or are visiting, you gotta come see us... You will be AMAZED at all the beautiful things that can be created with garbage. If you are a reuse crafter, please post links to your favorite reuse centers and flea markets... and browse my blog to see the ones I have visited... Thanks so much for visiting, and joining in this awesome event....

Monday, January 12, 2009

Altered books altered lives

The class last night went well... I am not allowed to take a camera into the hall, so I will photograph some of their work later and post it here...

It started out with 8 volunteers. Some of the guys I had met at a christmas luncheon a few weeks ago. One boy was kicked out for bad behavior. He tested me from the get go. I knew if I didn't stand up to him and deal with it right away, I would have problems with the rest of them, and him for the next 6 weeks of class. After he was kicked out, I told the rest of them... "Look, I am here volunteering my own time, using my own money and supplies to create this program for you. I thought it would be fun to do art, and learn about something other than studying for your GED. I don't want to butt heads with anyone. I don't want anyone here who doesn't want to BE here... So if you don't want to be here, please excuse yourself, so the rest of us can get on with the class." They were all quiet, and one kid says "Uh, I am down with it, and I wanna be here for the whole 6 weeks... I can't wait to learn.." Now THAT is what I like to hear. One of the boys even came in early to help me set up the next week, and apologized for the other kid and said he hoped I wouldn't hold that other kids behavior against the rest of them, because they were all excited to be there...

There is incredible potential in these young men... kids who many consider the "throwaway" members of society... Some are poets, some are incredible artists, some are so good at speaking in the group, they could be politicians... I look forward to watching their growth as we move forward in the class... I am excited for the day I can get them to really create art, and not just collages with bottles of Patron Tequila and Kim Kardashian as the focal point... One step at a time... we will get there.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Holey Moley

How long has it been since I came here to post? I just blew the dust off of everything, and took a look around.. BOY is this place sadly neglected.

I am here briefly, to tell you about the adventures of the youth art program, reuse center and my work with the kids at juvenile hall.

Christmas was a hectic time. I helped make gift bags for the 400 residents of juvenile hall, the girls home and the boys ranch on top of all my mom duties, work as an elder care provider to an 87 year old woman with alzheimers, volunteer manager at the thrift store, carpool driver, craft boutique coordinator, fundraiser and all around general work horse for the art program.

I have met some of the kids there at the hall, and am learning my way around the building. The most touching thing, was watching a young man open his bag, getting a wallet and saying to the guy next to him "Man, a wallet... I ain't never had a wallet before." and even more touching, the reply of the boy next to him, softly saying "S$#%, I ain't never even had a Christmas Present before." You would have thought these kids were given gold... instead of Axe body wash and deodorant and socks and a few little candies. It takes so little to touch a persons life. Truly, I am humbled and I grow and learn every day working with these kids. They frustrate you, they humble you, they make you laugh and cry... but every day is a new surprise. I start my altered art journals class with them tonight. I can't wait to start showing some of the work here on my blog. Some of the art they create is incredible, and the poetry they write brings tears to your eyes.

I have been selling some vintage wallpaper on ebay to raise money for the program. It is going really well. Check out some of the auctions under ksimoni on ebay and see what pretty things we have for sale. Some of these papers are perfect for altered art but many of them have flowers... I keep a lot of them back for art projects. But as the therapist told me, "remember they're guys... they don't wanna do doilies and flowers..." So I hope I can keep it fresh and interesting enough that they will feel inspired and want to create some awesome work.

I move ahead into the new year refreshed, with a new purpose. Many of the old issuse that have plagued me are hanging on, but I just keep persevering. I know it will all be resolved, and I will come through this year gloriously triumphant... I am holding on to that thought... We just got word, through my friend and soon to be new partner RC aka the Dumpster Diva that we are getting the space for our center finally.... In a one stop recycling shop to be located in an old abandoned glass factory in Antioch.... YIPPEE!!! I will have full details Friday after I tour and photograph the place....

Happy New Year to all !