Sunday, December 28, 2014

Think about your life - Pippin


Ok so, that is the END of the play, not the beginning but with one in high school and one in college it was the chorus that stuck in my head when I dragged um, chose my family to accompany me to the revival of "Pippin" as my (rather) big Christmas gift this year. They really are in their glory days, after all.  When they are not ebing tortured by teenaged angst of course!

Amusingly a whole lot of folks on Facebook reminded me that our High school drama department did "Pippin" while I was there.  Frighteningly I did not actually remember this (although I remember all my friends in "The Sound of Music" ) so I guess that is why I know ALL the words to ALL the songs over thirty years later!

waiting for the curtain to go up at the National

Seeing the amazingly cast and staged show did provoke a lot of dialogue after the play about heros and anti-heros and how in real life sometimes the heroic thing is just showing up everyday. And how in real life death is not reversible, although miracles happenand people live and death is never the end. And how eating right and regular work-outs might get you on The Right Track (another Pippin song) to having arms like 63 year old Lucie Arnaz!
Lucie Arnaz as Berthe aka Granny in "Pippin"

My muse for the 2015. Lucie sang, dance, swung from a circus ring and looked fabulous the entire time!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.

my snappy home mantel for 2014
My favorite Stifel cousin Terry M was blindsided by a terrible headache and was looking for relief from her symptoms.  She decided to query her Facebook friends where upon reviewing her symptoms her friends informed her that her pain didn't sound like a migraine and suggested she go to the hospital.  Long story short, Terry was successfully operated on for a brain aneurysm and after 7 days, miracle of miracles, was released Christmas Eve. The normal CCU stay is 10 to 14 days after a surgery like this.

Scenic Connecticut snow traveling to Stifel family reunion
She is weak in body but strong in spirit and buoyant in gratitude for still being on the earth.
Best Christmas present ever.  Peace, health and happiness are my wish for you- today and always.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book and Art Supply Give Away! - Lesley Riley's TAP

 Toot my own horn time!One of my favorite TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) projects got featured in Lesley Riley's new book.  Creative Image Transfer features a wide range of projects sure to spark your imagination on how to use this versatile product.
For those that aren't familiar with TAP it is a polmer sheet that can be printed,  drawn or painted on and then transferred to almost any surface.  From metal to fabric to chalk & clay paint, it makes a lovely transparent layer to add to your art work.

"Fiona" here ( and instructions on how to make her ) was featured in the book and (I say proudly!) on the intro page too! I blew up an old 60's newspaper fashion ad and used TAP to make a pixelated transfer of the outline of Fiona. On "Copper Fantasy"  I transferred and vintage image of a bird onto copper.  I love how you can see the glow of the metal coming through!

To celebrate the book launch Lesley is giving away copies of the book AND packages of TAP.  The Giveaway dates are  August 6-10. To find out more check out Lesley's blog.YOu can sneak over there right NOW And let me know if you win!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

FIELD TRIP! McKay's Used Books

 As summer reaches it's zenith, I have grown tired of listening to my son cursing his computer battling not so ancient virtual, digital foes.  Yeah, yeah, I know he is interacting with his friends, and yes, yes, they are problem solving and creating brave new worlds.  But screen time makes the teenagers in my house slack jawed and belligerent. A fascinating contrast and it was time to break the spell.
 So I dragged both of my charming offspring to McKay's Books in Manassas. I love this place.  It's not fancy but it is as big as a Target store and filled with aisles after aisle of blessed books.  I picked up a stack of creativity and art books (plus 3 PD James mystery hardbacks for 3 bucks apiece). I gave them $30 apiece to spend and they both walked out with a stack of books 2 feet tall.

And when we got home? My son headed straight to the hammock with his paper treasures, disregarding the siren call of the screen.  Makes me happy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Birthday to me!

 The only advantage to working on one's birthday is that (if you are lucky) the house is reasonable clean.
 Dinner (and the world's best chocolate cake) are on the table and
all hyped up on sugar everyone in the family is game to show me some teeth along with the birthday love! xo

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

c'est fini

 Thought you would enjoy seeing the boys complete!
 Even more fun?  You can slide a favorite photo into the threads that are holding the photo down and make yourself or a loved one the centerpiece of the collage!
cool, eh?

Monday, April 21, 2014

works in progress - take 87

 Last Friday the lovely Lolita and I got together for side by side work along (if her name sounds familiar Lolita's previous session was the one I had to scratch because I flipped off the porch and mangled my foot.)
 We had fun, talked a lot as we went along (normal!) about styles, personal sticking points and procrastinations.
 On this lovely Easter Monday, my mission is to finish some of the 15 half done things I have (see previous post).
 start some more and get some laundry done!  We had 18 at table for supper yesterday.
 Blessings indeed.
handsome fellows that deserve to be showcased, don't you think?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Putting yourself in position

The good thing about my studio?  I have a beautiful dedicated space to make art. With more "found" collage materials than I will EVER use in my lifetime.

The bad news? It's on a separate floor so it's easy not to get "down there"and actually work on the many half done projects I have cooking.  I have had a rough week/month to the point that multiple friends have chastised me and asked me if I have actually MADE anything this month.  Answer no?
Tried an old trick today.  Set the timer. Half an hour on email, half an hour on work, half an hour on art. Repeat cycle.  Actually got some work done, 3 loads of laundry and an hour of "arting" in when I got a call from an out of town friend asking if I was free for lunch.
Because I wasn't over booked (for a change!) we got to sit outside and Judy treated me to a crab cake sandwich sitting on the new outside patio at Dogwood Tavern. A welcome respite.
Even better, tomorrow is my make up class from a couple weeks ago when I cancelled after falling down my steps, so get to play tomorrow too!  Wish me luck actually loading my truck...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Best Recommendation

I was standing behind the shop counter yesterday checking my email AND texting a customer when a client walked in the door.  After a hearty greeting and an inquiry as to whether they needed my assistance I went back to my communication after laughing at the fact I looked like one of my teenagers (except that I didn't have earphones in!).

It really is sort of astounding today how many ways of communicating there are.  When I open the shop in the morning, I turn on the open sign, tie balloons to the sandwich board, and prop open the front door.   I ALSO check my email, answering machine, and social media feeds.

On the outgoing front, we send newsletters, make phone calls on land lines and mobile phones, send emails.
The shop also networks with community organizations, contributes to worthy causes, and sponsors student art shows.  We pray for press coverage to reach people we are not connected to spread the word so we can stay in business!

Did you know Stifel and Capra also has a Pinterest Page, Facebook Page, Website, and Twitter feed and an Etsy site?  Although all of these methods are fun and creative and introduce us to amazing people guess which one of these has the highest retention rate the experts say?  Still, hands down?  Recommendation of a friend.

Sometimes the old fashioned things are the best-

Thank you.

Friday, March 28, 2014


When I was a team leader in my past life (as a corporate recruiter) I would occasionally have to sit down with a colleague and help them focus.  "What's the problem?" I'd ask? "Oh my gosh, I have a million phone calls to return, 2 million things to set up, I'm not sure which of my candidates is going to get an offer, so and so is mad at me, and I feel like my head is going to explode." she said.
"So, what's the problem?" say I.  Deafening silence and incredulous look from said colleague.

I reminded them if you feel like you are skiing down the mountain with no poles, it's probably because you are about to take a big leap forward. 

Today I am 
Tagging and inventorying 162 items I took out of a house on a house call
Trying to make plans to actually watch the NCAA tourney
Putting a second coat of finish on a table top
Needing a better way to organize our Client Wish List
Working the numbers for a corporate art deal
Being sad for me & happy for her that Cathy is retiring from her jewelry business
Still cleaning up after the Food & Beverage Show for Bob's Best
Regretting NOT working on my art +sigh+
Sneaking breaks to read Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point"
Trying to book consignors
Needing to thank Anna for painting that table
Wondering if it is going to snow again
Wondering if I need to go back to the doctor after falling down the stairs
Stacking up bills to pay
Not calling my mother back
Not cleaning the shop
Trying to slog through my email
Dragging the laundry downstairs wondering why it is not cleaning itself
Wishing I could repave the parking lot (the winter has been brutal!)
Excited that I have leads to call for Bob
Wondering what are in those bins in the shop basement
Wondering what are in those bins in my studio
Wishing I was rearranging the furniture
Loving that I am never bored

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Changing Hats

 Yesterday I took off my gallery owner/consignment shop manager/occasional artist hat and put on my supportive spouse hat.  I tied on an apron and went to be the "Booth Babe" or in my case the "Stifel who can stick to the point and not tell just tell stories" with Bob at the 2014 Virgnia Food and Beverage Expo.
 We were pretty happy with our booth set-up.  And with the smell of Bob's famous Pork BBQ and Apple Pie filling the air (happily we were next to people who were not cooking!), we were very popular in the "smellavison" category as well! .

 Folks were really intrigued by all of the applications Bob's Best has.  Everything from meat to veggies to dips to dessert was covered and covered well.
 The Easy as Pie mix was a big winner because no one had seen a product like it before!  What was surprising to us was the fact that we wasn't just retailers that were interested in it but caterers and institutions too. Easy -as-Pie coming to a school near you?  We even had a query from a gentleman that wanted to know how fast we could drop ship him 500 pies.  When I explained that we were only selling the pie MIX ans not the pie, he was visibly disappointed.
Maybe something to look into... Time to go write my follow-up letters.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Survivor Guilt

I remember when my friend Anna told us she was starting a blog and the group of church ladies I was with was like "O that Anna, is this like when you tried out for America's Funniest Housewife?"  We barely knew what a blog was.  Anna riffed on family life incognito until she outed by the horror of a parent's worse nightmare.  Outliving your child.

I don't see Anna as often as I'd like to because I am a self employed working artist/wife/mom/shopkeeper/house cleaner/laundress.  Lame excuses.

My boy and Jack were the same age & in the same Sunday school class. Anna and I would meet for lunch and commiserate about our quirky, passionate, intelligent , funny sons and wonder why didn't we get them together more often.

Yesterday would have been Jack's 15th birthday.  I am honored Anna still takes my calls.
We need to get together more often.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Small Details

Some times small changes make a big difference. I found these graceful figurines but I wasn't thrilled with the paint job on them. (If you are I apologize in advance for what is about to happen.)

 It took 2 coats of CeCe Caldwell's Simply White paint and a coat of brush on satin finish but I think that they look more elegant now.
 What do you think?
I am been busy getting ready for yet ANOTHER first for the New Year.  I and 2 other CeCe retailers are exhibiting and demoing the paint at the Expo Center in Chantilly this weekend.  Oh and tonight we are having out Client Appreciation evening!  I gotta work on my pacing!

Friday, January 3, 2014

What a difference a day makes

Now that my husband and I are both full time retailers the concept of "family vacation" over the Christmas holidays is not the stereotypical traveling  over the river and through the woods to relatives for holiday feasts.  After I take a couple of days to clean and glean the shop of holiday detritus, we head out as a family of 4 to the beach.  The place that soothes ALL of out souls. 
We chill out, do some POWER PICKING for the shop and generally relax, eat out and check out all of the groovy Delawarean Christmas Light Spectaculars.  I try to work on my New Year's Resolutions.  Well, not so much resolutions, but plots & plans  long term for the for the business, family and personal goals.   
Of course it might have been smart to have checked the weather before we headed for home yesterday.  We had furniture strapped to the top of our SUV so we had to hustle to attempt to get ahead of the storm that was sweeping down the coast.

I love the fresh start of the New Year and a stunning blanket of snow seems to fit in with that fresh beginning.
For 2014 
I Resolve
to fix what is broken
express my emotions more freely
eat more salad
to regain my sense of the ridiculous.
How about you?