Monday, December 15, 2014

Stubborn Stickler for Traditions

Last Friday night, the boys had their picture taken with Santa. I'm glad I'm a stickler for traditions, because if I wasn't, it may have been completely left out this year. 

I do admit I am struggling with the whole Christmas spirit this time around. It's not completely gone - it's just harder to find.

Part of the struggle is finding the the motivation for Christmas stuff to be taken out of boxes in storage and displayed. When we know we'll be moving again in less than a year, I have no desire to unpack it, pack it up again, then move it, unpack it, etc etc. 

But it's Christmas. It's important. 


Plus, we have our Birthday Tree tradition for Alexander too. We can't let a year go by without that. 

Therefore, I took out probably one-third of our Christmas stuff.  

The Nativity made it out first. 

There. That works.

Some friends said all my Nativity is missing now is a Tardis. I agree. But I don't have one. Sure, I was all over the place down in the valley today (two malls and other stops) where I'm sure I could have located a Tardis for the Nativity, but I wasn't thinking about it at the time. 

Besides, it's probably more than a decade that I've been waiting to be gifted a Jim Shore Nativity anyway (despite yearly hints). 

I guess I should bite the bullet and buy it myself.

And I love this Jim Shore angel piece:

I also received appreciation pictures from the customer that the Mad-hatter, Jack Skellington and Philosophy ornaments were made for. I love when I get pictures like these! It helps raise the spirits - especially if they're a little down. And they are. It's just the nature of being a moody artist. So I cherish these appreciation pictures!

Along with the pictures, she said, "Got the kids' ornaments for 2014. Usually I just let them pick something out at the store. This year I bought them from an artist friend's Etsy shop. They just got here today and the kids love them! Well two love them; the third one comes home on leave tomorrow. He'll see his then. Thanks Jill Henrichsen!"

Thanks Jackie! 

In the meantime as I continue to work on the Christmas spirit, the weather is helping. It's been cooler than it should be (well, in my book it means it's the way it should be!), and today the clouds blanketed the sky again. I love overcast weather. Some people call it "gloomy". I disagree. 

Until next time.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas, Costco and Chaos...

Yes, I know I said the next entry will contain pictures from our little groundbreaking. And I will do that. It just won't be in this post. 

Projects and a lot of Christmas orders on my plate have been kicking me in the keester. Hey, it's a good problem to have. I'm not complaining. I just wish there were more hours in a day, that's all. 

And I should be more disciplined  on making it to bed earlier. I really pay for it the next morning. 

This photo of these ornaments don't even begin to scratch the surface of how many different directions I've been going this week. But at least I have this visual aid. I do like how the Jack Skellington ornament turned out, however. I was a little worried about how I could put him on the ornament as per the request from the customer. I think it worked out nicely.

Meanwhile, running around town, taking kids to and from places have taken their toll this week too. Let's just say that a Costco in December in a Snowbird heavy area (Snowbirds/Winter Visitors definition: The lucky boneheads that don't have to brave the summers here like the rest of us...) is bad enough. Then add an almost 4 year old screaming "I want pizza!" at the top of his lungs in the bathroom while you're trying to pee and it just might drive one over the edge. And I didn't even include the account of what happened at the post office and print shop before the Costco adventure. 

 Let's just leave it at that. I don't want to re-live it again.

No, Alexander didn't get pizza. There was some leftover Kneaders French Toast in the car anyway (if anything is going to ensure the American obesity epidemic continues, it's that french, it is wonderful stuff...)

At least he fell asleep on the journey back home.  

Time to go bed. Not early enough as usual...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Doodles and Art Update

Sunday Doodle for December 7, 2014
The groundbreaking from yesterday went nice and it even stayed cloudy for the most part! 

I will post pictures in the next post. However, for now, an art update is required.

First, this week I completed a custom piece featuring the Orlando, Florida LDS Temple. I will have a similar piece without the customization that will be finished soon, so it can be available for prints.

Another piece that was completed and shipped off this week was a different kind of custom project. The customer is a junior in high school and wanted this created for her boyfriend. I really hope they both loved it.

There were aspects of this project that proved more challenging than I anticipated, but I think it turned out to be a success. However, I'm not too sure if this is something I want to do very often. Haha Let's just say some nooks and crannies of the ceramic piece along with the behavior of the materials created some interesting moments during this endeavor!

And today, I received this appreciation photo from another return customer! I love it when I receive pictures like this!
And below is a ceramic tile project Chris and I worked on together in anticipation that we would build this house and have such ceramic tile designs to adorn our mailbox and kitchen backsplash! 

This is the "Lazy H" tile design that we want to put on our future mailbox with the brick and other tile designs and address numbers. 

Doodle from October that was never posted.
And with that, it's time for another week and hopefully plenty more will be accomplished on the art front, Christmas preparation front and home building front!

Here's hoping!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

And THAT, my friends, is CLOSURE...

We closed on our construction loan. It has been a drawn out, tortuous and arduous process and I admit I lost faith for quite for awhile.

There are times you feel a certain way, but your energy level doesn't quite show it off. 

Thankfully, in these modern times, we have GIF images:

(Tom Hiddleson dancing...awesome even if we didn't close!)

My dancing is like the pug Hulk: "yeah, I'm happy...but tired...and stressed..."
Anyway, today
we want to have a little lunchtime ground breaking hoop-la at our land and then maybe lunch afterwards (probably at our church building, if we can break in...kidding...we would steal a key.... ;-) ;-) ).

I am hesitant to do this little gathering because if I didn't make it clear before, I've been exhausted by the whole thing and energy is gone (of the dog GIF above, see the Hulk pug...)

And then bring on the anxieties (remember Phillip? Yeah, he's back...). Combine the lack of energy with worrying that NO ONE will show up, and I don't want to be disappointed and feel like a total loser. It's just kind of the frame of mind I'm in after this ordeal.  

However, Chris is insisting we do this. Therefore, I'll have to risk feeling like the kid in junior high who is picked last for stuff and then the more popular kids groan that they're stuck with you in kickball, and have this this hoop-la anyway. 

Next updates. Busy week (with perfect seasonal weather)! A few print orders and four custom artworks in progress!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 Part II

Before I dive into the rest of Turkey Day, here are a few moments from the last couple of days:
If you're having a little argument with your husband about 2 finial balls at each end of the curtain rod, keep talking about "balls" over and over in creative sentence structures while your 14 year old daughter is sitting there (and just vegging on the computer and not helping anyway) until she finally yells out, "will you stop talking about balls!"

Embarrassing teenagers. I should put it on my official list of hobbies! 

...and earlier that day...

Chris took the kids to the park for lunch and stuff and he wouldn't give Alexander a cookie until he finished his sandwich. Chris reports that Alexander then elected to fall on the ground, and cry out, "You ruined my life, Daddy!"

Okay, back to Thanksgiving. I think Alexander was slightly under the weather, because this was him (left) during the 15 minute drive to the Turkey Day event. It wasn't even noon yet. He felt a little warm, but he wasn't running a temperature.  He did have a rough morning. While I did the Turkey Run, there was a bounce house and stuff for the kids. Chris reported that Alexander wasn't having the kind of fun we would expect an almost four-year old would have at a bounce house.

We had a good time socializing and being a part of a large family Turkey Day. I certainly miss it. And to carry the tradition of family driving each other crazy, I even borrowed Billie's phone for a few moments and took the liberty to post an embarrassing Facebook status for her. (I mean, you have to have fun where it's available, right?)

 I'm only admitting this on here to see if she even reads my blog. 

Anyway, getting back to Alexander not quite feeling like his usual self, we took a chance at going to the movies after we feasted and socialized. Usually making it through a movie with Alexander is impossible. We rarely bother. In fact, Thanksgiving 2012 I only saw the first part of Wreck-It Ralph before Alexander and I left for a car ride. 

However, we tried it again this year. We took the kids to see Penguins of Madagascar, and it actually worked out! 

Following the movie...
 Yeah, too bad it worked out only because our X-man wasn't feeling 100%. When we got home, his temperature was slighty elevated (not by much...just around 99 degrees). And the next day he was back to normal. Maybe that little bone was thrown our way just to make Thanksgiving that much more manageable. I do look forward to the day that we can all go to the movies as a family (and all healthy) and not wonder how much of it we'll get through. :-) 

On the QT...Please!
This next part has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but I, and thousands of other people would be extremely thankful if a QT (QuikTrip) was built up this way. An ideal location is  the junction of highways 60 and 74 in Morristown (about 7-8 miles southeast of Wickenburg), but no one would be complaining if a QT went up in the town of Wickenburg. Before we even moved here, I emailed the QT site and put in my opinion and suggested locations.  It didn't make sense why a QT wasn't here already.

After we moved here, it was even more apparent that a QT was long overdue. First of all, Wickenburg and Morristown has a plethora of pass-through traffic. People use this route between Phoenix and Las Vegas. And then the 74 junction off the 60 feeds more of that traffic from those coming to and from Interstate 17. And there are no gas stations on the 74 (Carefree Highway) between the 60 and Interstate 17. It's a beautiful drive though. No complaints about that.

And what makes a QT even more needed, is the ridiculous monopoly of Shell stations between Wickenburg and Surprise. There are three of them. And the two in Wickeneburg (or approaching Wickenburg) gouge the prices up the wazoo. Fifty cents more than 30 miles south in Surprise. Shell clearly takes advantage of the passerbys through town that do not realize if they stay on the 60 and head into Wickenburg, gas is cheaper (about 10-15 cents than the gouging Shell) at the Circle K. 

But the Circle K is cramped. It's a small parking lot and only two pumps.  If the pumps are occupied, there is no room to sit and wait for your turn. And it is a pain in the royal patootie to pull out of there back onto the road no matter what direction you're going. 

We are overdue for a QT. 

So why QT, Jill? Why not a Maverick?

I do like Maverick. But I haven't seen one this far south. I think Cottonwood is the furthest south I've seen one. But I can be wrong. I certainly have not gone on road trips just to scout out Mavericks. And I obviously haven't googled all their locations. 

So again, why QT? Well, there are a lot of reasons. First of all, QT has the nicest and cleanest bathrooms of any convenience store. Sorry, but it's important to me. And two, they're FAST at check-out. They don't mess around. Someone who prefers things done and fast (like me) loves that. Okay, that means I'm impatient. Well, QT caters to how impatient I am and it's awesome. 

Also, QT gas prices are very competitive with the lowest in the area as per their geographical location. A QT would definitely send a message to the Shell. 

Anyway, I figured that just emailing or submitting potential building site ideas to the QT website wasn't going to get their attention. 

Therefore, a couple of weeks ago, I sent them art:
And yes, I did draw the Shell logos as if they're flipping us off. That's exactly what those Shells are doing!
Yeah, I could have sent it to their Real Estate department in Phoenix. But I decided to send it to the main head honchos in Tulsa. 

I received this e-mail two days after I mailed my, um, request:

Good Morning,

I received your site submittal (artwork) in the mail today.  I appreciate you letting us know about the need for a QT in either Morristown or Wickenburg.  I’ve received hundreds of site submittals but this is the first that I would classify as a piece of art.  As a past resident of Peoria, I’m somewhat familiar with both Wickenburg and Morristown and I’ll be glad to ask our Director of Real Estate for the Phoenix area to see if there’s a location in either spot that would make a good location for QuikTrip.

I’ve decided not to send your artwork to our Phoenix folks. (I sent a scan of it instead.)  The wall of my office is covered with maps showing QT locations across the country.  Your artwork is now on my Phoenix map so it reminds me to discuss this with our Phoenix team the next time I’m in town.  (See attached photo)

I hope we can get a store closer to you in the near future.

Thanks, Jeff

Jeff Thoene
Vice-President of Real Estate 
QuikTrip Corporation

A Fortune 100 "Best Companies to Work For"

4705 South 129th East Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74134-7008

And here is a picture he sent of the map of the Phoenix area in his office with my artwork added! LOL!
I don't know if my strategy works to accomplish the objective to acquire a QuickTrip up this way, but I did get their attention. Hey, it's something, right? Sometimes one has to resort to unconventional and creative matters to make a point.

Oh, one more thing on the QT issue. On Thanksgiving, Billie and I were talking about the QT need in Morristown and/or Wickenburg and she reported to me that there is a QT in Thatcher. 


Okay, that's great for the Thatcher people. But there isn't nearly as much traffic going through the Safford and Thatcher area as there is in Morristown and Wickenburg. 

I was almost incensed to find out that Thatcher has one and we don't. Someone at the Phoenix QT Real Estate office is clearly missing something!  

Anyway, on that note, I'm a little freaked that it's December now. So much to do!  

Until next time.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 Part I

While everyone is out being obsessed with shopping and crowded parking lots before they can even make it through the maze of endless retail cookie cutter giants (parking lot stupidity alone is one of the top reasons I will not participate in the madness), I'm sitting here trying to not scream at my kids. 

Well, I didn't do very well at not screaming at them, but Chris is here too. Therefore, at least we can double team on Thing 1 and Thing 2 with the cleaning up and responsibilities. Later, he and I will venture out in the crazy Black Friday world. But not to shop. 

It's a date tonight! 

However, we hope to make it a date afternoon and night. We'll see how things go with accomplishing such a feat that will also ensure no offspring are murdered by another offspring or require therapy for the rest of their lives as a result of our absence.                                                                                                       Yesterday's Turkey Run went okay. My timer said I finished in 39:07. However, according to their records, it's listed as 38:56. Okay, I can go with that! I'd love to get below 38:00, but I'm content with those two times for yesterday. This was especially due to the fact that about 2/3 in, I started struggling but I managed to keep a jog. However, for having mostly treadmill training for the last 6 months, I did surprisingly well.  That Downtown Phoenix route was flat, so that was a plus. However, no clouds were in sight. Therefore, at first, the sun was rather intense. Thankfully, we ended up along tall buildings that shaded the evil orb for a good portion of the route. 
This guy (left) was in front of me for awhile during the run. It's blurry because I was running too. If a run didn't produce so much sweat, it would be fun to do this with the costuming. The best was all the cops laughing as he passed them standing at the roadblocks.

As for my own costuming, I don't like the snapshots that were taken of me this time around, so these are more favorable:

Front of the shirt
Back of the shirt

Anyway, we were meeting our friend Billie and her in-laws in North Phoenix for Thanksgiving, so I had to acquire a shower. A location of my gym is in Downtown Phoenix, but that's only for the Platinum members (say it out loud with a highbrow snotty tone...). It certainly wasn't for a basic bourgeoisie membership such as mine. However, I went there anyway, because I figured it had to be empty due to Thanksgiving. And sure enough, the guy at the front desk had no problem allowing me to use the facilities to get ready, despite my Commoner or Cottager status being way below the usual royalty. 
(Yes, I am Queen, but it's not recognized as far as my gym is know, red tape and technicalities...)

He even said I could work out if I wanted to. Considering I just ran three miles and turkey and gravy was on the brain, that part wasn't going to happen. But I thanked him anyway and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving (as the gym was only going to be open until early afternoon, so he probably wasn't going to be missing out).

But there are drawbacks in using a club that is reserved for only the Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses and other Nobility: The women's locker room was empty with the exception of myself, and oh man, it was certainly posh and fancy. Having a taste of the good life is dangerous! I was thinking, "Wow, I can certainly get used to this!" 

No, even if I could afford it, I'm happy sticking with my typical Peasantry membership. I just hope they allow me to use that location for the same reason next Thanksgiving as well! 

Next we headed to join a huge family event in which we were lovely adopted into this year. 

That'll be covered in Part II. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turkey Time, Art Update and Santa's Throne of Lies...

Sunday Doodle for 11/23 - Black is the drawing. Rest is part of the paper.
It's Turkey Week, and we're actually looking forward to this Thanksgiving this year because we have an event to attend. We're crashing a friend's family affair.

The last few years, we've flown solo for Thanksgiving, an it's been quite depressing. 

But not this year! Plus, that morning is the Turkey Run 5K. I admit I'm not as prepared for it because I haven't been able to run in the "real world" as much. It's been mostly treadmill since since Summer started.  I guess we'll see how it goes Thursday morning.

As for later that day, I just hope our crazy presence doesn't ruin any future Turkey Day invites.

On the art front, it's been busy. I think I have four or five projects going on in tandem. That's perfectly alright with me. As far as I'm concerned, that's the way it should be. 

Here are just a few:
Wedding gift - Congratulations Emily and Howard!
Coasters from the Lake of the Woods Preservation project

Another view of the wallet. I haven't listed this yet as an option on my shop. I need to do that!
Those are just a few of the current projects. (Come back for the address tile I also did last week...having trouble getting the image off my phone...)

I'm also offering a Black Friday discount for my shop. Plus, shopping at my Etsy shop is easy and doesn't have the crazy Black Friday crowds. You also don't have to get up at some satanic time in the morning and wait in line in order to buy some mass produced item. I know, I paint such a great argument! haha Hey, I love to shop. But not on Black Friday. Gross. I don't like how the gratitude and traditions of Thanksgiving are overshadowed by greed and commercialism. Yes, I sound like a hippie. I guess I am about this. I have no problem with that.
30% Code BLACKFRI...No minimum purchase necessary. It's good for anything that day!

And it's Ornament Season again! 

In the meantime, Christian and his brilliant but technical mind is at full-force!  This is a business letter assignment he just completed for his class. This is just another perfect example of how quick his brain is moving and how it thinks. As for us, his worn-out parents (and not just because of him, but him and the 4,735 others factors in life), we know it will pay off later, but for head hurts. 
I guess some of this explains how I've gone off my rocker. This letter is also additional evidence why his pregnancy was an utter nightmare. As I've said before, I was carrying some immortal species from a planet with a different level of intelligence.

Anyway, with this house-building bank madness, I've felt so out of control as we try to reach for the proverbial carrot. I guess that explains that if there is something that is more realistically in my grasp to control, I sink my teeth into it no matter how stupid it may seem. Case in point -  A couple of weeks ago, it involved something that appeared unimportant. But no, it wasn't definitely not unimportant. I guess I need to back up a bit to explain:

(DISCLAIMER: PG-13/Cable TV language)
Okay, maybe to the unknowing ear or bystander with the wrong impression of what's really the issue, this appears to be a  'First World Problem' rant. But no, it's about sticking to your PRINCIPLES because the 60s Christmas production of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is so revolting.


Around the time that Chris and I took our weekend 20th anniversary trip, I ordered Christmas stamps for our Holiday/Christmas/Winter cards. I did the old school mail order through the post office assigned to our current, but temporary, residence. I immediately received the stamp order, despite the old snail mail way of buying them. 
However, for the half-dozen or so different type of Christmas/holiday designs to choose from, I received NONE of the three choices I made. But that isn't the complaint or what this is about. I am flexible. No really - I am! 

Accompanied with the three different sets of Seasonal/Christmas stamps was a handwritten note that said, "I hope you like the substitutions." 

2 of the 3 substitutions were fine. But the third? They were stamps in commemoration of the 1960s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Anyone ever watch that and see just what kind of douche Santa is in that show? What does it teach kids? It teaches them that Santa condones bullying and doesn't appreciate what the elves do for him. He's also a jerk to his wife. And after dissing Rudolph for being "different", Santa only cares about him when Rudolph can finally be of some use to him.  
Anyway, a couple of days after receiving the stamps, I had to mail an order to a customer.  I went into the main post office (not the one the stamp order came from).
After the business of sending off package for the customer was finished and I paid for that postage, I then brought up my issue with having the Rudolph stamps in my possession. I had no intention of adding them to our Christmas cards, or using them at all.

(Keep in mind, this was all friendly and no heated exchanges were made, despite my passion for the issue at hand...)

ME: "...Now I have these stamps that I ordered from the Morristown office. They didn't have any of the choices I made and they sent three holiday-related substitutions. The substitutions are okay except for this." I presented the awful Rudolph stamps.
Post Office Guy: "What's wrong with those?"
ME: "What's wrong with those? Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer is a horrible show. Have you ever really seen it? Santa is such an ass, for starters."
Cowboy dude customer standing in the lobby: "You can put those on the cards for people you don't like."
ME: "I thought about that, but I have already trimmed down my list. Plus, it's the principle of the thing. I can't believe this show is considered a classic. It has horrible messages in it."
PO GUY, turning to colleague: "Do we do exchanges on stamps?"
Other PO GUY: "Not usually, but in her case, yes...."
ME: Do you have the wreaths (design)?
PO GUY (looking in his drawer): "We have Gingerbread houses."
ME: "That would be fine. Thanks."
Poor Wickenburg Post Office! When we build our stupid house (whenever the hell that is), that office is just right down the road! haha  
I'm sure the guy at the post office was thinking, "This is seriously a problem for her?" 
Yes. Yes it was.

And for anyone that believes my calling Santa those less than stellar names puts me on the "Naughty List", I respectfully disagree. There is no way the Santa in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer represents the true Santa.  You know, just like Buddy the Elf called out the fake Santa! Just like the beef and cheese Santa in Elf, the one in Rudolph also sits on a throne of lies. 

Until next time!