Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow on the Mountain

It snowed off and on all day Saturday at our mountain place.  We woke up to a very pretty sight on Sunday.  The sky was blue and air crystal clear. We could see snow on the distant ridge lines.

Our pond froze over and was covered with drifts of snow.
Ah, a boy and his dog.
Kasey romped around all over the mountain, and took her usual dip in the creek at the bottom at the end of her run.  She did not seem to mind the frigid water one bit.
We are now home, and on Baby Watch, waiting for our new granddaughter to make her appearance.  Maybe she will be the first baby of 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cold Mountain

After a lovely week of Christmas visits with family and friends, we returned to the mountains this morning for a long weekend.

There is some wintry weather predicted for this weekend, so Charlie, Kasey, and I took off on a Gator ride across the top of the mountain.
There was a small herd of deer grazing on this tree farm on the hillside.  You probably cannot see them in this photo.
I love the gnarly branches and twisted trees on the windy mountain tops.
The cold, barren winter landscape is a far cry from the riotous autumn hillsides of just a few weeks ago.
    I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help- Psalm 121

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Two New Framed Watercolors

I gave my husband, Charlie, two of my framed watercolor paintings for Christmas.

The first one reminds me of the New River in Ashe County, North Carolina.  We have gone "tubing" down that scenic river many times.

Mountain Creek, by Jeanne T. McBrayer, 2012

It was begun in a class with Tom Jones at Raleigh's Art of the Carolinas.  The object was to achieve the look of the sun splashing through the trees and reflecting on the water.
The other one was also begun in a Tom Jones class.  It represents a cabin in Yellowstone National Park.  The object was to represent the mist over in the mountains.

Mist in Yellowstone, by Jeanne T. McBrayer, 2012

We have never been to Yellowstone, but hope to travel there some day.
These two paintings have the same frame size and style, although the mats are different.  I think Charlie plans to hang them both in his office at work.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Griswold Family Christmas?

Greetings to you on this gray and gloomy day after Christmas here in the Carolinas.  We had a lovely day with son Dave and nine-months pregnant Emily here.  That night, Emily's mother and her fiance, and Emily's sister Kate came over for dinner.  We love our blended family!

My most surprising and wonderful gift was a tree skirt that Emily made, with her mother's help.  It has patchwork trees on a blue background and a field of snow.  The colors she chose reminds me of the Christmas tree farms near our mountain cabin.  The alternate wedges are red velveteen.

But wait!  Why am I showing it draped over a table on my front porch instead of lying in beauty at the base of our Christmas tree?
Because, while Kasey and I were sitting around in the living room, drinking coffee, playing mindless games on the computer, and avoiding any sort of housework, our Christmas tree TOOK A DIVE!
With a loud crash and a crunching of glass ornaments, our eight-foot tree took a tumble. 
I managed to heave it back upright and lean it against the corner of the room.  I started mopping up the water and vacuuming the broken ornaments and needles.
And then, WHAM!  It went over again.
This time it took out two pieces of the wooden window grills that I just replaced a couple months ago.
And there it sits until Dear Husband gets back home to help me deal with it.  I am thinking we will just take it down, since most of the ornaments are off anyway.
On the plus side, the lights did not short out and catch fire, or any other Griswold Family Christmas disasters.  I thought about crying as I crunched along on the broken glass, but then realized that I had been through some much sadder experiences in the past couple weeks.  This was not such a big deal.
Kind of funny in a Griswold sort of way!
Anyway, I love my tree skirt, love my daughter-in-law for making a patchwork sewing project, and will cherish my gift for many future Christmases to come.
If the tree stays up.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Peace Be With You

Worship of the Shepherds by Bronzino

Wishing you and yours the peace and joy of Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


My father, Peter C. Turner, passed away last Thursday.  He was 89.

I am so thankful that we just spent Thanksgiving traveling together to Florida to visit my brother Jeff's family.  It was a lovely time spent together.  Although my father's health had been declining, he was still able to enjoy the warm sunshine and all the attention from his grandchildren. 

When we were on the airplanes, Dad wore his "Flight of Honor" ball cap that was given to Veterans on a trip to visit the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.   We were always the last off the plane, and it warmed my heart that so many travellers paused on their way up the aisle to say "Thank you for your service, sir."

We were also very touched at the graveside service to find a military Honor Guard.  It was a rainy, misty, day in the North Carolina mountains at the little church graveyard in Banner Elk.  The bugler climbed up the hillside and played "Taps,"  and the sound echoed down the hill.

I was doing pretty well until Taps.  It is very hard to say goodbye to someone who has been such a huge part of my life.

Good-bye, Daddy.  Yours was a life well-lived.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sort of Quilty Gifts

Today was the annual Christmas brunch of the Whacky Ladies Quilt Bee.  We met at our usual restaurant, Brig's in Wake Forest, which has always offered us plenty of space for all our gift bags and show-and-tell (plus generous portions of delicious food.)

We actually only had one show-and-tell quilt this time, a red and white beauty by Caroline Ormond.  Unfortunately, my photo is out of focus.
(No, we were not drinking Bloody Marys or Mimosas!)

She made the blocks from Block-of-the-Month kits from Wish Upon a Quilt.  This one will be quilted by our bee member Donna Sontag of Whatever's Quilted.
We traditionally exchange small gifts for each person.  What a lovely selection of candy, ornaments, soap to take home!  Okay, this picture's upside down.  (No, I didn't come home and start drinking Bloody Mary's!)
Donna made these cool silvery quilted ornaments on her computerized longarm.

In addition to the small favors that we exchange, we each bring a larger gift to go to one person in the "Dirty Santa" exchange.  You know, you pick a number, then choose a gift.  The next person can either steal your gift, or choose one that's not opened yet.  This year no one stole any one's gift.  I guess we were all on our good behavior today.

I made a journal with a needle-felted cover and hand-painted pages.

Here is the back. (I swear the folks at Blogger must be doing handstands today.)
Here is the hand-dyed inside cover and some of the pages.
Here is when it is very handy to have a stash of painted papers lying around in your studio.  I just chose some that sort of coordinated with the rainbow colors of the cover.  They are sewn in by machine in three signatures.
The cover itself has silk fibers and ribbons needle felted to a piece of wool felt, then quilted on my sewing machine with a decorative stitch.  The lining is fused to the back.

For my small gifts, I made yet another round of watercolor ATC's.  This time it went much faster, because I fused the whole sheet of watercolor paper to the backing paper, and then cut out the ATC's. 
I don't think I showed the backs last time.  I made large color photocopy of a painting I did in the free Strathmore online class with Traci Bautista,
and sections of it became the colorful backs of the ATC's.
I also only went around the outside once with zigzag stitch, which makes a neater appearance on the backs especially.
Here are some of the ones I especially liked.

Since I collaged some printed words this time, I applied a coat of matte varnish to the front of each card.
Recently one of the members of my art quilt bee lost her husband.  Our bee each made an ATC to send her.  All together, they made quite a lovely showing of love and support.  I found another piece of painted, doodled paper in my stash and used it to wrap around the ATC's before mailing.
So, moral of the story, keep painting and doodling and you might find the perfect items in your stash the next time you need to make a gift.
Now I must get ready to have the whole family of kids and grand kids arrive for the weekend.
But first, I may just need to drink a Bloody Mary!






Monday, December 3, 2012

Anything Art Bee

Today we met at Ruth-Ellen's house for our annual December lunch meeting of the Anything Art Bee.  Ruth-Ellen made a delicious kugel, and once again led us in the making of potato latkes, in honor of the approaching Hannukah season.  Everyone else brought side dishes and desserts, for a deliciously decadent meal.

I decided to make some ATC's (Artist Trading Cards) to share.

All of these except one were made from an old piece of watercolor paper that I had painted with washes of pastel color.  I painted some flowers, trees or other designs, then cut the paper into the standard 2.5" x 3.5" ATC size.  I added some stamped text to the front, fused some photocopies of some of my artwork to the back, and stitched around the edges.
I also turned in two more pieces of fabric for our surface design challenge.  For this project, each participant started with a yard of palin white cotton fabric and sent it to the next person in the rotation.
When I got Roberta's fabric, it had been tea-dyed.  Roberta loves bright color, so I got out the Seatacolor transparent paints again and splashed some on to the wet fabric, allowing the colors to mix and blend.
Then it was looking kind of like an abstract garden, so I stamped some dragonflies and flowers with Tsukineko inks.
Here is a detail shot of Roberta's fabric.

When I got Peg's fabric, it was Round 3, and this is what it looked like.

Roberta had needle-felted some roving in a grid, and painted with Lumiere paints, which are very shiny.  Toni extended the lines of the grid on a diagonal with Inktense pencils.

This was looking way too linear for me, and there was a vast amount of white space left.  Once again I turned to the Setacolor paints and splashed some on.  I also put down some stencils to print while the paint was drying.

I just kept adding more paint, and fiddling around until I decided I had done enough. On to the next person to add more embellishment or design.

We had some good show and tell.  My favorite was this beautiful quilt that Peg made using a jelly roll, some additional fabric, and this fabulous border batik that finished the top beautifully.

We have a new group member named Marion, who is from Australia.  She made an Australian tree skirt featuring Santa in the sled pulled by " six white boomers,"  or kangaroos.  There is a song about it.
We often have a tutorial of some sort during our bee meetings.  Today Ruth-Ellen showed us how to light up our quilts with LED lights.  She had all the supplies we needed including conducting thread.  I decided I would learn by adding an LED light to a felt flower brooch.

It was pretty cool!  Now that I know how to do it, I might add lights to other projects.
I finally finished one of the watercolor paintings that I started in November at Art of the Carolinas in a class with Tom Jones. It is now off to the framers.  The scene reminds me very much of Ashe County, North Carolina, where we have our mountain cabin.
That gets me about caught up with what I've been doing.  Now I have to get serious about getting ready for Christmas.  Charlie and I started off the seasonal festivities by going to a Mannheim Steamroller concert at the DPAC Friday night.  It was just wonderful!  Our son from South Carolina is coming up with his family next weekend to celebrate Christmas.  Charlie got the lights up outside, a candle in each window, and the lights on the tree.  Now I need to get the ornaments on the tree and get all my other preparations ready.
Can't wait!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Back to Real Life

I can't believe my trip to Florida is over already.  And it's gotten so cold here!  Katy and I enjoyed trips to the beach, first with our niece Laura, and then with my brother Jeff.

Sanibel Island was my favorite.  We walked on the beach and looked for shells.  They were not hard to find.
The Gulf was extremely calm and serene.
We drove through the Ding Darling Nature Reserve on Sanibel.  The white pelicans were visiting.  I had only seen the more common brown ones on our North Carolina beaches.
Ft. Myers Beach was much more commercial, but very colorful.  I like the multicolored buildings.
We also really enjoyed sitting on my brother's back deck and watching the birds around the lake.  There were lots of ducks, but also a bald eagle.  Once we saw an otter as big as my dog.
My father tolerated the trip very well, and enjoyed being with us in the warmer climate of Florida.
For Thanksgiving, my brother grilled a turkey, and we all made side dishes and desserts.  It was a wonderful family holiday.  My niece has painted all the interior doors in the family home, and one of them is a Gratitude Tree. 
We all wrote what we are thankful for on a leaf, and taped it to the tree.
But I missed my husband and my dog, and am thankful that we are all together again!