Thursday, November 24, 2016

Being Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving, a day set aside to take stock of all the good things I tend to take for granted. Family, community, home, health, country, pets, books, love, laughter, and so much more. I have so much to be grateful for.

It’s funny how even bad things can turn out to be blessings, like that broken leg in March that gave me lots of couch time to write one of the two stories that led to a writing contract in September.  I’m thankful for good medical care and a devoted husband who picked up all the slack while I was laid up. I’m thankful to the people who shared their knowledge and experience to help me become a better writer. And I’m thankful for the support of my friends and family. My cup overflows.

What were your special blessings this year?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Visit to the Corvette Museum

Can a car be a work of art? I vote yes. I’m not really a car person, but even I can appreciate the sinuous curves of a Chevy Corvette. I should say Corvettes, because in the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, we got to see Corvettes of all vintages, and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite.

Seeing these amazing cars, many displayed in historical dioramas, makes me wish I could climb into Roy Orbison’s '67 Vette and roar off to explore Route 66.

The Corvette factory is here, too, and in the entryway to the museum, brand new Corvettes sat behind velvet ropes, awaiting their proud parents to come and claim them.

The museum also contains an unintentional display of a natural disaster. In February of 2014, the cave under part of the museum collapsed, creating a huge sinkhole that dropped eight Corvettes thirty feet into the earth. Fortunately, the museum was closed at the time, and no one was injured. The cars have been pulled out, but as you can see, they were severely damaged. A tape marks the outline of the sinkhole, and they’ve left a window in the floor so visitors can see just how far they fell.


To top off our nostalgic tour, we enjoyed burgers and fries at the adjacent classic diner. It was a fun outing. If you ever find yourself in Bowling Green, I’d highly recommend it.

One warning: a trip to the Corvette Museum can be expensive. Not the entry fee, that's only ten dollars. No, the expensive part is that after seeing all those gorgeous sports cars, my husband is itching for a 1977 model of his own. And judging by the vintage Corvette dealer just a block away, he’s not the first to catch Corvette fever. 

What do you think? Can you see yourself in one of these beauties?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Christmas Gourds: How To

Two years ago, a garden experiment resulted in an overabundance of gourds. I've been trying to find ways to use them ever since. These are small gourds, about four or five inches tall, so they're not really big enough for birdhouses. I've been dying, painting, and woodburning them, and even adding polymer clay. Results have been, shall we say, mixed. I'm not much of an artist, but I've been having fun.

My latest project turned out fairly well. It involves making gourds into Christmas tree ornaments, for indoor or outdoor trees. It's a fairly simple project. If you'd like to try your hand at gourd-craft, here's how I did it.

You'll need a gourd, a pencil, a small paintbrush, and paint. Also a woodburner, a jump-ring, jewelry glue, and spray-on clearcoat, all optional.

1. Clean the gourd well, scrubbing with a stiff brush or steel wool. You'll need to remove the natural waxy coating so the paint will stick. As they cure, gourds get this ugly black stuff that looks awful, but most of it scrubs away. If it leaves a few stains, that's okay. It adds character. Now let it dry.

2. Mark your design with a pencil. I freehanded this one, but there are lots of poinsettia clipart designs on the internet. 
3. Use a woodburner and go over all the lines. Add veins to the leaves and petals. My woodburner cost around twelve dollars. This step is entirely optional, but I like the way it looks.

4. Paint. Because I wanted the woodburned lines to show through, I thinned the acrylic paint with water to create sort of a transparent wash. If you decided to skip the woodburning, you'll want to use paint at full strength so it's opaque. If you use the opaque method, let the paint dry and then paint veins onto the leaves and dots in the center.
Here I used ivy green for the leaves, and red for the flower, and yellow-green for the center.


5. Glue a jump-ring on top so you can hang it on the tree. Jewelry Goop works well, and you can get the rings cheap in the bead department of the craft store. I tried screwing a tiny screw-eye in, but the stem end of a gourd is surprisingly hard. The glued-on ring works well. Or you could just glue a ribbon to the top.

6. Let dry, and spray with a gloss clear-coat if desired. I recommend it. It protects the paint, darkens the gourd to a nice leathery finish, and makes the whole thing shine. 

7. Thread a ribbon through the jump-ring, and there you have it: a Christmas gourd ornament. 

Are you working on any crafts for the holidays?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Spirit of Giving

Here's a chance to do good and have fun. A group of wonderful writers have joined together to produce this collection of fourteen holiday novellas, and the proceeds go to to diabetes research. 

I've got my copy.

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