Wednesday, January 28, 2015


One reason I have never been drawn to encaustics is that all the pieces I have seen in the mixed-media magazines have been rather pale and muted. And, in case you haven't noticed, I am not a pastel kind of gal. I am beginning to see, however, that it could have had more to do with the artists than with the medium.

Yesterday was Encaustic Play Day at muse Artsy Woman's fabulous studio, where we finally broke out the encaustic tool kit that Santa brought me, and did our best to figure out how to use it.

Outdoor Woman wins for Best Apron
In order to ensure that we began the day properly energized, Outdoor Woman brought these.

We felt so honored to have been invited into, and allowed to pretty much destroy, Artsy Woman's amazing studio, for that is a rare privilege indeed. This was our set up at the beginning of the day -- so neat and tidy.

That two-tiered square at the back is actually a palette. The encaustic paints are those sticks on the bottom right, and are made of beeswax, which is solid at room temperature. The palette has a heater underneath it, and you can put chunks of color in those tins, if you need to melt a good bit of one color, or you can just rub the stick directly on the palette itself, and blend and paint just as you would with any palette. You build your painting up with many thin layers of wax, fusing each one to the last with that red hair-dryer-like gizmo. You can also use it to move the paint around and make it do unusual things. And, you can even carve the wax, or embed ephemera between the layers. Endless possibilities!

Outdoor Woman, who has traveled the world several times over, did a collaged piece about travel, then attached another piece to that, on which she scribbled her bucket list of places yet to see.

Artsy Woman provided this blow torch, because she thought playing with fire sounded fun. She added some amber shellac to her piece, then torched it until it bubbled up. Then did it again. And again.

Spirit Woman created this beautiful piece, in some of my favorite colors. Love the piece of purple mesh embedded between the layers, which also bubbled up when torched!

Fiber Woman first did some carving with the set of dental-like tools that came in my kit...

and then she added (Surprise!) some fibers to her piece.

As if hosting us wasn't enough, Artsy Woman even had lunch catered for us!

I created two masterpieces myself -- one buffed to a satiny sheen, the other full of rich craggy texture, and neither one even close to pastel.

For, if there's one thing I learned yesterday, it's that encaustics can be anything but muted!

P.S. Thank you Dear Hubby, for gifting me with the impetus for this day of fun and adventure. And, oh, by the way. The Muses said they are all sending their hubbies over to go Christmas shopping with you next year!

Monday, January 26, 2015


I've been scrambling to complete one or two more art journal pages, based on projects from my Pam Carriker workbook. Chapter three explores the element of shape, and this first project involved using a couple of different stencils to create repetitive shapes in varying sizes to evoke a feeling of unity on the page.

That sideways pyramid shape has nothing to do with this page. Alas, it floated up from the page behind it, which has a diagonal pocket glued to it. DOH!

This next one is a work in progress. We are to create a collage using random shapes cut from everyday bits and bobs, or ephemera, found around the house or in our stash.

A Great Opportunity to Employ Those Used Security Envelopes

To finish it off, once everything is glued in place, I am to add color with media other than our usual acrylic paints.

I hope to finish this one up today, for tomorrow morning, bright and early, I will be hauling all of my new encaustic tools and supplies over to Artsy Woman's garage studio, and the Muses will spend the entire day playing with them -- fortified by chocolate, of course. Barring any accidents involving hot wax or toxic fumes, you should hear from me again in a day or two.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


The houses are so far apart in our neighborhood, that pretty much the only time I see any of my neighbors is when we drive past one another going in or out, or perhaps run into each other in town somewhere. A bit different from life in the burbs, or living on a company compound, huh? We do have a once-a-year meeting of our Home Owners' Association, but since it was slapped with a nasty lawsuit shortly after we moved in, which just recently got settled, those meetings have been anything but sociable. Last January the annual meeting fell on our daughter's birthday, so I went off to celebrate with Lex, and Hubby went off to represent us at the meeting. Guess who managed to get himself elected president while there? "Musta been talkin' when he shoulda been listenin'."

Though he has attended several meetings of the board throughout the year, yesterday was his first time to chair one for all the members. Believe it or not, it was actually quite pleasant, now that we no longer have that lawsuit hanging over our heads. To top it all off, Hubby took it upon himself to organize a little block party afterwards.

We weren't sure if anyone would show up, considering our history and the fact that it was snowing the day before. Fortunately, the weather gods favored us with sunshine and temps in the 60s!

Not only did we get a good turnout, they all stayed much longer than we expected.

Plus, it was a great way to get to know all the new people who have moved in recently.

And, just like that, it suddenly feels more like a neighbor-hood.

Hubby, you rock!

P.S. Guess what I discovered when we were at the Community Center for our meeting that morning?

Another Little Free Library!

Wimberley, you rock too!

Friday, January 23, 2015


We are keeping grandpuppy Guinness this weekend, and the visit did not get off to the best of starts.

Austin and Areeg had a convention to go to, and were planning to drop Guinness off on their way to San Antonio, sometime after dinner. Of course, Areeg had to drive in from Houston first, and never knows for sure when she will be able to get away from work/school. Around 8:00 PM Austin called to say she still hadn't made it in, so it was going to be very late before Guinness arrived here. He told us to go on to bed at our usual time, and that Guinness would be there waiting for us when we woke up.

Silly Boy. He should have known there was no way I would be able to sleep with them all out running amok on these rain-slicked roads and flooded low-water crossings! So I tossed and turned until 12:30, when I finally heard him coming in the front door. When I came out of the dark bedroom to greet them, it must have startled Guinness, for she began running in circles, barking her head off. She finally settled down when she realized who I was, and Austin said his goodbyes.

I had locked the door, settled Guinness on the sofa, and was headed back to bed, when I realized there was something stuck to the bottom of my foot, and it did not smell good! I hopped to the bathroom on one foot, flipped on the light, and discovered a good-sized dog turd hanging from the bottom of my big toe. I managed to dispose of it and get my foot cleaned up, gagging the whole time, then went back to see if there were more where that one came from. Sure enough, there were a couple more near where I'd stepped on the first. More gagging ensued. Finally I decided perhaps I should go back into the bedroom to grab my glasses, then turn some lights on. When I did so, I discovered a trail of little turds, scattered all over this carpet.

The only other time Guinness has done something like this, she had also been startled by a tall stranger coming towards her, which caused her to run in circles barking, spraying poop as she went. I suppose I have no one to blame but myself.

The dim light and busy carpet pattern made it rather difficult to locate all those little gems, and by the time I was finished (at least I hope I was), I was gagging loud enough to wake the dead! But not, apparently, my hubby.

Some things never change.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


When I asked Miss Areej for book recommendations, to help us prepare for our Sudanese journey, she also mentioned a Public Television series she had once seen, called Joanna Lumley's Nile. We tried to get it on Netflix but, 'though they had it listed, the availability date was "unknown." Boy, was I ever surprised when this showed up in the mail from Amazon yesterday. Thank you Hubby!

If, like me, you didn't recognize the name at first, Joanna was part of that infamous duo from the long-running hit series Absolutely Fabulous, and she will be part of this expedition down the entire 4,000 mile length of the mighty Nile, from mouth to source, traveling by fishing boat, ferry, cruise ship, plane, train, car, and Zapcat!

Best part of having our own copy is that it comes with this cool little Viewer's Guide, which includes some interesting articles about the Nile...

and about the guy who led the expedition.

Best of all, it has a map!

We will be going to Khartoum, right where the Blue Nile and White Nile come together, and which is pronounced like this.

So, in case you don't see me for the next few days, it's because I'll be off floating somewhere along the mighty Nile with my AbFab friend Joanna. Catcha later!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


My taste in books seems to be running all over the map these days. Just after the holidays I began the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, and didn't stop until I had finished all four books. I never seem to tire of a good YA dystopian series. This one is about how we "Rusties" just about demolish the earth, and what comes after.

From there I moved on to Habits of the House, by Fay Wheldon. Wheldon helped write the screenplay for the original Upstairs, Downstairs series, and actually spent part of her youth living in one of those British manor houses, as daughter of the housekeeper. If you are a Downton Abbey fan, this would be a great series to read during the off season, when you are jonesing for a fix!

Now I am diving into this book...

Season of Migration To The North, by Tayeb Salih -- the book that was selected by a panel of Arab writers and critics as the most important Arab novel of the twentieth century. It takes place in Sudan, but could just as well be about any country that has been under foreign rule, and now has to figure out how to stand on their own; or about any person who has left home, then returned, only to find that they no longer fit in either place, and are caught in between two worlds. I am rather glad that my library didn't have it, and I was forced to order my own copy from Amazon, for I was only a page or two into the introduction before I was running for my trusty hi-liter, wanting to underline phrases that were resonating with me!

What about you? Read anything good lately?

Sunday, January 18, 2015


When I first drove up to Full English in Austin, I admit to having some misgivings.

One thing I knew for sure -- it wasn't gonna be my mama's tea party!

But, then I remembered. Oh yeah! We're not in Dallas anymore. This is Austin!

Picture S. Congress funk, with Amy Winehouse waiting tables.

And yeah, maybe they didn't have a fancy in-house bakery with the best scones I'd ever eaten. But, all-in-all, the food was pret-ty darned good.

We had our choice of any beverage on the menu, including several specialty coffee drinks, three different chai lattes, iced teas and hot teas. We each chose to have our own pot of tea, with options from local purveyor Zhi Tea, as well as the more traditional Twinings. We couldn't even make it through most of that top tier of sweets, but they kindly offered us a container so Lex could take them home to enjoy with her hubby.

It was the kind of place where you could come every week just to hang out with friends over a good pot of tea, rather than a once-a-year kind of place where you can play the Grand Dame. It suited this birthday girl to a "tea", 'cause one thing is for certain...

she's an Austin kind of gal!

P.S. I should probably warn you though, don't go here if you can't abide the smell of bacon! In addition to the High Tea by appointment, they serve full English breakfasts all day long, including your choice of bangers or "the best bacon in the country", broiled tomatoes and even Heinz baked beans. Apparently that bacon is quite popular, as people all around us were eating it, plus they keep a freezer full out in the dining room, for customers to buy and take home.