I am glad you chose to visit! My blog is a compilation of the many hats I find myself wearing. On any given day I may be an encourager, an instructor, or just a lady who is venting. You, dear reader, will probably identify with my triumphs and my tribulations! These snapshots fit into my Life Scrapbook I have named A. McInnis Artworks. I hope you will find something worth your while.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Great Buys For a New Year's Eve!

The hubster and I had a rather fun adventure today. We traveled south to Hattiesburg and visited Trees 'n Trends and Hudson's Treasure Hunt...oh, boy, oh, boy. He's just not even in the same league with me when it comes to finding bargains. Let me expound.

Pictured above are 40 (yep, you read correctly) forty (!) nice size hot pink and purple candy canes. Total regular price=$40. My 95% off price=$4.00! Yep, that's a savings of $36! That is one flat dime each....oh, I LOVE a good deal. Pictured below the candy canes are 16 glittery mantel thingys. They sold for $5.00 each at Wal Mart. Regular price=$80...my 95% off price=$4 for ALL 16! That is a whopping savings of $76! The picture doesn't show the other three items very well, but there is a heavy square green glass soap dispenser with a rubbed oil bronze top for $1.99, a green box that opens up and will hold paperclips, etc. and a black ribbed memo paper holder with a top that can be personalized. My total price for the whole haul was $18.

I see a little extra bow or ornament added to these sparkly sayings and viola! A cute little happy! I also see a white tree with pink and purple candy canes all over in the future for somebody!!

Now, stage right. Will you please tell me who is the Bargain Finder in this family?! Look at what You Know Who bought for $20!!! Bahahahahhaha!

I thought I had found the best buy of the day....

UNTIL.....I walked into TnT. There was a huge bin of framed prints with a few, let's say, dings here and there. They were kind enough to mark them down to half price. The one I wanted was $50. A little pricey for such a beat up specimen, but I asked for the manager. I wanted to see how my newly acquired negotiating skills would work. He approached, "May I help you?"

"Yes, how much are these poor beat up pictures? This one is marked $50...is that the very best price?" I inquired. "They are so beat up that I'd like to move them out...how about $5?" WHAT DID HE SAY? $5? Is my hearing acting up again? I frantically searched for more while he was there..."What about this one and this?" "Any of them, $5, mam," he patiently pleaded.

OH, HAPPY DAY! One was marked $139.99 and the other two were originally $69.99! I got all 3 for $15. Of course, when I got to the car, Hubster's remark was, "Why would you pay $5 a piece for those beat up things? He should have given all of them to you for $5." Do you see what I mean? He has NO clue.

Anyway, I think it was a very profitable day and I can't wait to show you what I do with all my new little finds....BTW: I hope you all have a Happy New Year's Eve. I'll post tomorrow...Lord willing and if the creek don't rise...old southern saying.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm A Tiny Fish In the Sea of Blogdom

In the last few days I have been asked the same question by 4 or 5 people. It's begun to hurt my feelings...and everyone knows it isn't nice to hurt an old lady's feelings. Here is the question: "Why do you blog?" or worse, "Why do you like doing THAT?" (Dramatic sigh from me. Eyes look heavenward.) Here's my question: Do I even try to explain or do I just keep doing what I like?

Now, I began "blogging" in July of 2010. I know I don't have many followers, but they are loyal and even "check up on me" when I go more than 3 days without posting. I truly appreciate my followers! I have noticed several things since I entered this world...most bloggers in this sphere of home, decorating, re-purposing, etc. are young women. I am not. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water.

There is nothing more fun than working on a post and having somebody comment or sitting down and checking your "follower" count and realizing somebody joined you today! I KNOW it's not about the numbers but it IS about others who judge your writing and your posts as worthy of their time. When I see young women who have thousands of followers, I just think, "Wow!" They are the Big Players in this realm. I am a tiny fish in a huge sea! But even though I am swimming upstream, it's fun and I really like the people that I read about and converse with on a daily basis. There are so many talented, kind, interesting people out there and if you are reading this, you are one of them.

Thank you for stopping by and even commenting sometime. I do TRULY appreciate the gesture. Ok, so I answered my own question, I won't try to explain to those who don't understand, because unless you DO understand, well....you just wouldn't....huh?!

BTW: My goldfinches have returned!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

That's Music to my Ears!

I have been bitten by the Sheet Music bug...I began using old sheet music in some of my art a while back and never thought a thing about it...I just liked the look. I was recently asked to teach a mixed media method class to 17 ladies, and I decided to use sheet music as the background of my class sample. I went to the flea market and scored "big" on books of OLD sheet music!

This is the picture that I used as my sample. I wanted everyone to use the same pattern, but they could pick their own papers, colors and decorations. They all did quite well...although we needed about 4 hours for the class rather than the 2 I had designated. We used various papers (some handmade), old music sheets, acrylic paints, and pens to construct the 11x14 mixed media on canvas print.

I then declared that NEXT year's school library Christmas tree would feature sheet music in some form...that's when I started to explore the blogs for information. Was I stunned! I was "in the groove" and didn't even know it...music was featured everywhere! Well, that really gave me the itch to begin experimenting with what I saw. I tried to hold off until after Christmas...

#1 Granddaughter and I experimented with the wreath we saw on Miss Mustard Seed's blog first. It was like the monster that ate Chicago...it grew and grew! But I love the look and plan to keep it in my office year round. I believe this was also featured on the blog, Confessions of a Plate Addict. We double teamed it with Granddaughter rolling the cones and me glue gunning everything in sight! ( I sprang for a Sonic Blast after this task was completed!)

I wanted to try a smaller wreath, but #1 G said I could do it on my own. So I did and it's quite cute...about the size of a salad plate with another antique button in the center. I love the little fan look in the middle!

Then I remembered the two paper mache pyramids I bought for half price at Hobby Lobby...$5.99 for both! I pulled them out and decided to "do you know what"...again...cover them with old sheet music!

Next, I affixed some sheet music using Mod Podge. (aka: Nectar of the gods...ha.)

I didn't like the plain Jane look, so off to Hancock's Fabrics to find something with which to dress the edges of the pyraminds...1/4 inch black elastic that was on sale for 50 cents for 3 yards. It took 3 packs and I had a little left over. I covered each individual side..which means I had to attach the elastic 8 times and 4 for the bottom.Note: Do NOT stretch the elastic, just glue it down with Elmer's.

On the first pyramid (aka: Christmas tree), I haphazardly applied the music, on the second tree I "wised" up and cut each side in two large sections...worked much better and certainly was quicker.

I used Distressing Ink to give a little rustic flavor, but really didn't need to as the sheets were so old on their own.

I attached a snowflake that was a leftover tree topper on sale for 50 cents. It was brass and I "rusted" it. I also attached a burlap bow on top...I am still thinking about adding rusty bells attached with twine to the bow.

Tip: When working with sheets of music, the older music is extremely fragile and crumbles easily. I began with 1930's music and quickly found that for me it was easier to work with 1950's and 1960's sheets especially if there is much folding or manipulation of the sheets.

I love the look and must say that burlap has been my BFF for as long as I can remember. Teamed with the antique music, burlap presents a really nice contrast. I remember once a lady gently scolded me for using burlap in a tablescape...I laughed to myself...little did she know that it would become one of today's hottest decorating accessories!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thrift Store Find & Putting My Magazines on a Diet

Very fun day...not particularly productive...but fun nonetheless. First I was determined to go to a few thrift stores today. I have read about them non-stop for the last few days on everybody's blog...so I decided to go back to some of my old haunts to see what they had. I did NOT find but one thing that whispered my name.

Look at her, poor little thing. She is tin with a black shade and oh, so in need of a day at the "spa". (I must admit something here, I am a lover of all things primitive, but when I decorate in that direction, my house becomes extremely cluttered...I have tried to go more contemporary in the last few years, but whenever I see something like a yelloware bowl, a dough bowl, a little tin lamp...my heart flitter flutters.)

Anyhoo, I brought her home, cleaned her up and re-did the shade. I used an old children's nursery rhyme book (1936 and in bad condition) and some really old sheet music to cover the shade using, ta-da, Mod Podge. I like using Matte finish for a project like this. Then I tied a twine and checked ribbon around her neck, finished the bow off with a square mother of pearl button, and I think she looks mighty fine.

I put her in my kitchen since I had been looking for a tiny lamp for under the counter. She may reside there or I may move her around until a suitable abode is found.

Next, I did some weight reduction...not on my person, but on my magazine collection. Every six months I take all my magazines, go through them thoroughly and tear out every page that appeals to me...this is no small task as you can see the very large stack of magazines with which I was faced.

Notice the magazines on the right. I actually had around 6 more that I couldn't part with, so they were spared the scalpel. But now check out the left side. Yep, that's the sum total of pages that I kept! I then took those pages and divided them into six or seven stacks. These stacks will be filed in my file folders: Christmas, Tablescaping, Gardening, Crafts, Interesting Articles, Decorating, and Patterns. At the end of the year, I go through the files and unceremoniously dump any articles that don't appeal to me anymore. That keeps the folders under size control.

Unfortunately I LOVE magazines. Those companies will never have to worry about me reading them online rather than perusing the real McCoy. I re-read them many times...and I always find things I missed the first or second go round. Read with a magnifying glass close by. You will be amazed at what you see with its aid.

Hope you are having a productive time after Christmas. I love this time of the year because I do a pretty good "clean out" of the house. I am working on several other projects that will be ready for a reveal shortly.... Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowbabies and After Christmas Chatter

A little "after Christmas" whining is due. I really need a separate formal dining room. Now, in the greater scheme of life, no dining room is not really a big problem, but in my smaller scheme of life, it limits me greatly. Alas, it is what it is and that's all that it is. Frequently changing the scheme seems to be the only way I can use the dishes and accessories I've collected over the years. And I DO love dishes! (Once, in my former home, one of the cabinets literally pulled away from the wall because of the heavy load it bore! Oops...)

My sister tortures me about my love of all things "dish" but never daunted, I press on. Always on the look out for a few pieces to add to my collection. For this winter (January - February) I was thinking about pulling out the Green pieces and replacing it with Blue Willow. Emptying the china cabinet will be a job, but I'm just thinking here. I rid myself of most of my white ironstone (yikes!) now I know that was a mistake...the mistake was not in acquiring the green, but getting rid of the white. Maybe a few well placed pieces of some new white would coexist with the green!

I also want to pull out my little Snow Babies...my mom and I both collected them and I'd like to do a display and maybe a tablescape using them for January at least. Below is the beginning of what could become a pretty wintry table...maybe later. Right now, it's just CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN!

That was yesterday morning...this is now...before I even finished un-decorating the house, I was "fluttering" as my husband calls it...moving things about in the china cabinet. I replaced the green with white. I used my brown transferware as a backup. I have some pieces of ironstone left and a little milkglass...after working for almost 2 hours, I realized...I didn't like the look. I LOVE the look in everyone else's cabinet...why not mine?

After pondering, I realized that I have too much exposed wood in the kitchen and dining area...so white looks well, really white. Back to the green and the brown transferware. Then I started pulling out the Snow Babies...much better effect...why? They are cream rather than white.
See below? White votives vs. cream Baby. Hmmm?

In addition to taking down the decorations that would fill 12 boxes, I made the Epsom salt candles (see above and below) as featured on Megan's "Polish the Stars" blog and tried covering candles with tissue paper as per "Confessions of a Plate Addict."

Went to Wal Mart for after- Christmas looking and found all their pillar candles on half price. I got nice fat ivory scented ones for $1.25. The tall skinny tapers are priced at 25 cents.I also picked up "mercury glass" silver acorns for $1.00 each...can't wait to use them next year.

Notice, I used a "snowflake-like" tissue that darkened the ivory candle some and then added the Epsom salt and Mod Podge around the top. I added different effects to each candle. Below, is the result of the tissue paper cover...I used dark green plaid, I like the effect.

And do you see my faux pas? Three metals combined + candles and lamps...my point was the candles and Snowbabies anyway! I'll get that changed pronto.

Another of my treasured possessions is the little black stool from my mother in law's house. On it I set a Mississippi Choctaw Indian basket, filled it with the same green berries I used on the hutch and plopped a feathered nest filled with golden eggs.

I kept seeing pretty glittered letters on everybody's stockings this season...guess why? They were $1 each at Wal Mart...now 50 cents! I love a good deal. Several pricey stores had them displayed. Just attach to the top corner of the stocking and let it dangle...cute if you don't have names already on the stockings.

BTW: I am participating in Metamorphosis Monday, please check out the party. There is a button on the right side! Click there! Enough chatter. I am armed with Windex and Pledge. I am going to dust every surface in this house before 8 A.M. Happy Monday all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Handwork For Wintry Days and Evenings

Peaceful night, all is well and the big day is coming to a close. Our Christmas day was quiet, and my brain is working overtime, as it usually does. I thought I might switch gears for tonight and start planning a few quick projects for what's left of my vacation. If you have a minute and are not too tired, grab a cup of tea or coffee and take a look with me.

Felt, beads and embroidery floss...the dynamic trio! I love designing strange little things and combining these three items to "flesh out" the design. I enjoy bringing something calm and beautiful out of chaos. Pin cushions, puzzle balls and other creations just make me smile. Pictured above are my attempts at puzzle balls. I needed to use up some of my beads and felt.

I made these puzzle balls in three sizes. As you can tell Crazy Quilt stitches influence me greatly.

I have collected pin cushions for years...just like to look at them and imagine the lady who used them before me. I have a wonderful collection of framed vintage crazy quilt pieces, and no matter how long I have them, I still love the tiny delicate stitches. I felted and embroidered the pin cushions below.

I also enjoy quick crochet projects. I'm not too much into following directions, I just make up as I go. My bird's nests are crocheted using eyelash and multicolored yarns...I like to attach feathers and pretty eggs. I use them year round. Once I made tons of them and sold them at a Christmas bazaar. I attached a label explaining the old wives' tale that to find a nest in your Christmas tree brought good fortune for the next year. I couldn't make them fast enough!

Above you will see a dark nest and below a lighter version. They take about 10 minutes to crochet. Adding feathers and eggs adds another 5 minutes! Cute spring gifts.

These copper nests catch the tree lights just perfectly. They are some of my favorites to use during the holidays. If you enjoy these type "crafts" check out The House in the Roses blog. I am participating in "Show Off Your Cottage Monday." See button on the upper right to attend!

After a busy holiday season, it will be great to have a cup of coffee, a fire in the fireplace and stitch up some of the quick and easy projects. Hope you picked up some ideas for the long cold winter days ahead! BTW: I have added a number of very interesting blogs to my blog list. Hope you can visit them and enjoy!
Also, I have marked Humorous Posts with an *. Just click on the archive month and by the title's of posts that I consider humorous there will be the *!

"For With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible"

Do you have a moment? Or is there "no room in the inn" for such today? Please, know that my feeble attempts at this will never do THE story justice, but for today, I'd like to re-introduce you to the characters intimately involved with The Birth of Christ, the beginning on earth of our Salvation.

Meet Mary & descriptive words & phrases...virgin, espoused (engaged), troubled by Gabriel's message, highly favored, shall conceive, bring forth a son, call His name Jesus, the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, "be it unto me according to thy word", my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior." Brought forth her first-born son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, "And Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."

Meet Joseph & descriptive words & phrases...a just man, minded to put her away privately, told to not fear to take Mary as his wife, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden, took Mary as his wife, went up from Galilee to the city of David, Bethlehem, he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered, called His name Jesus, brought Jesus to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, offered a pair of turtledoves as a sacrifice, marveled at words of Simeon, obeyed angel and took Mary and Jesus and fled by night to Egypt.

Meet the shepherds & descriptive words & phrases...abiding in the fields, watching their sheep, visited and told news of Jesus' birth by a heavenly host of angels, very much afraid, went to Bethlehem to see this thing which had come to pass, told others what they had seen, glorified and praised God.

Meet the Wisemen & descriptive words & phrases...from the east, looking for Jesus, followed His star in the east and came to worship Him, rejoiced with exceedingly great joy, presented Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh, warned of God in a dream NOT to return to Herod, departed and returned to their own country.

Meet the angels & descriptive words & phrases...Gabriel (who stands in the presence of God and was sent), appeared first to Zacharias, the husband of Elisabeth and father of John the Baptist, next appeared to Mary to announce her good tidings, appeared to Joseph and assured him, appeared singly and then enmass to shepherds in the field and announced Jesus' birth, told Joseph to take Mary & Jesus to Egypt and to stay until he told him to come back.

Meet Jesus & descriptive words & phrases...child of the Holy Spirit, first-born son, His name is Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins, Immanuel, God with us, King of the Jews, Governor that shall rule my people, Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him, young child, great, the Son of the Highest, Lord God shall give to Him the throne of his father, David, shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, of His kingdom there shall be no end, Son of God.

I know there are others, but for this post, I singled out these because of one connecting thread....ALL THE ABOVE OBEYED THE COMMANDS OF GOD.

"For with God nothing shall be impossible."

Heartfelt wishes for a joyous Christmas from my house to yours.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Triple Threat

Ok, I am going to state it plainly... I am coming right out and saying it ... here goes ... I love eggnog AND fruitcake AND Christmas sweaters! There can I make it any plainer? How can you not also love these things?

I am sooooo worn out with the "fashion police" dictating what apparel I should love and what I should not. I have been highly insulted this season by all these so-called Tacky Christmas Sweater parties. What in the world are these people thinking? Do they have any idea how many people in this country love dressing for the holidays in sparkly sweaters with reindeer and Santa Claus emblazoned on them? What's it to those who have an aversion to such style? I say, turn and look the other way... it's just for a few weeks out of the 52 ... let the holly jolly folks alone!

And eggnog and fruitcake! Now those are two of the most maligned things on the face of the planet. I really don't care for the overall taste of nutmeg, but once a year eggnog is just a balm to soothe a shopping exhausted soul. I stalk the milk aisle in December until I spy the green labels, and then I vault over to the display and snatch up the first container of eggnog for the season. My grandson and I LOVE the stuff...nothing like a Little Debbie Donut Stick and a glass of cold creamy eggnog to start off the day.

Once a male co-worker gifted us with a fruitcake for Christmas. I politely placed it in my bookbag and forgot about it until I had to pick up the bookbag to go home that afternoon. I almost had to have shoulder realignment. That day, when I got home I was (as usual) starving and so I unwrapped the cake and searched for a knife with which to cut it. When I turned back toward the cake the most delightful aroma arose ... I'm a teetotaler so I can't identify the different smells of alcohol, but I knew there was something different about this one. Anyway by the time the hubster came home, I acknowledged that it was the most delicious fruitcake I'd ever tasted. He passed on the enticement. I know all the jokes about using it for a doorstop and such, but an alcohol free fruitcake and eggnog are the season's most delightful coupling to me.

My point to this diatribe is if you don't like something, you don't need to try to convince the world not to like it. What have Christmas sweaters, eggnog and fruitcake ever done to you? I love all three and will gladly stand up for them. There, I've said it....think of me as you will.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Can You Imagine?

I wrote this piece for a Woman's December Daily Devotion Guide at my church a number of years ago...even though dated, it's still timely for today's hurry up world.

No Room In the Inn

No beautifully appointed birthing suite was present and certainly no candlelight celebration dinner was enjoyed like many modern couples experience! The only candles that might have been used were those used by Joseph to aid in the delivery of a tiny Baby Boy.

No excited grandparents and friends waited expectantly outside a sterile glass enclosure. No trumpets sounded and no headlines proclaimed the royal birth. Only animals gently lowing in the hay strewn area and surprised shepherds on a hillside even knew. What an unsophisticated beginning! And yet, that sweet, simple entry profoundly changed our world and its inhabitants forever.

Jesus...That Name still stirs hearts some two thousand years later. Of whom can that be said except our Lord?

Thanks be to God...Who Is and Was and IS TO COME!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Vignettes

Just enjoying photographing little vignettes inside and out. Wreath in front of old black tray with "rescued" moss green ribbon....wire green basket filled with cedar and gold matte ornaments. The electricity company had just trimmed the cedars and pines across the road when I drove in from work...so I made a beeline over there and collected the fallen branches...great thrifty greenery for the season!

During the spring and summer, this rusty Baker's rack holds my gardening items and a few green plants and birds' nests.

I found the plaque at Hobby Lobby on the 80% off rack. I refinished it and added the scrapbook paper background. I used the Cricut machine to cut a set of flourishes and then cut them apart to compose the Christmas tree. Added sparkles and the word Peace and it looks just right with my carnival glass vase!

Even the garden tub ledge gets the "holiday" treatment with the addition of a coppery mesh bow. My family of Peter's Pottery frogs reside here year round and like the company of the McCarty pottery pinched vase.

Counter top vignette adds color and texture to the kitchen area. I love the glass and iron tray and use it in various ways year round. It contains items neatly but is light enough to be unobtrusive.

Arthur Court tiny cake plate is topped with a Southern Living At Home glass topper.

I found this $17.00 wreath in the Alley Cat section of the Monroe, LA. Paul Michael's store for $4!! I bought two! Love the color and the tinsel look. I added $ Tree ornaments, mesh bow and an old gingerbread man ornament and viola....sweet little wreath above my sink.

Every year my mother thread counted everyone of us a new ornament for Christmas...it was always dated and had our initials on it. Many were tiny stockings and sometimes we received little mittens. I gathered our stockings together and placed them in an old blue bowl. I love seeing them and remembering my sweet, kind mom.