Happy Birthday To Me

The Ultimate Espresso MachineNo, it’s not my birthday yet. It’s about two weeks away. Before we went to bed last night my husband said, “What if someone got you a birthday present that was so cool that you wish they had given it to you earlier, rather than make you wait for your birthday.” Suffice it to say, I gave him permission to give me his gift early and he told me he’d have it ready the next morning.

Sitting on the counter waiting for me today was the Gaggia Accademia espresso machine. I about peed my pants. This thing does everything but wipe the drool off your face when you’re standing there completely overcome by its awesomeness.

Gaggia Accademia coffeemaker

Can you even stand its awesomeness?!

To say that my little family likes coffee is a huge understatement. We’ve been through way too many machines over the years, looking for the perfect maker. I think the real problem is that my husband and I have both spent a considerable amount of time in Italy which caused us to be seriously disappointed in every cup we’ve had in America since then. Even my daughter who has traveled quite a bit can tell you that the best cappuccino she ever had was at a flea market in Paris. Totally spoiled, I know, but she really is a very nice girl, and if it makes you feel better, she is short, which I’m sure is payback for that perfect cappuccino when she was 13.

So here I sit, with a big stupid grin on my face, an empty cup beside me, trying to type with hands that are so jittery that my spellcheck feature has abandoned me, and all I can think about is that even in this day and age, it’s so important for girls to marry well. (thanks, Hon, you’re the best!)

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Mixed Media Collage

Terms of EndeermentTwo months ago I attended the Spellbound Event in Pasadena and it was the funnest thing I’ve done in a long time. Spellbound is an art retreat hosted by A Gilded Life and I’m definitely planning on going again this year. The collage above is from the first class I took at the retreat. The class was called “Terms of Endeerment” and was taught by Cathe Holden. I picked this class mostly because of the deer head. It’s awesome.

Rosette corsageCathe was a fantastic teacher and although there were a lot of layers in this project she broke it down and made it seem easy. Cathee has a book out called Rosette Art, so I guess you could call her a rosette expert.

I never did sports growing up so I don’t have any ribbons hanging on my wall or stuffed in boxes. I think this one’s prettier than all the hundreds my sister got for gymnastics. No, I’m not bitter, just lazy and prone to fainting spells when I sweat.

I loved how this piece came out, but when my daughter’s friend saw it in my studio, she really, really loved it. Now normally, I’m generous with my stuff, but like I said, I love how this piece came out, so it’s not leaving my studio anytime soon. I decided to make her something similar. It makes me look generous without having to give up any of my own stuff.

rosette art collageI made the background out of a foam core board that I plastered with a scrap of flocked wallpaper. (I love flocked wallpaper!) I made the rosette from a fabric covered button that I recovered with velvet. I got the pendant at the bottom from Michael’s, but the rest of it came from the stash drawers in my studio.

velvet rosette collageI think it’s a close enough reproduction to make her happy. It definitely says something for Cathe Holden’s ability to teach that I was able to duplicate it without her help two months later. Taking classes opens you up to to new ideas, tools and techniques, and I waited way too long to take one again. I’m so glad I got the chance to take this class, and in turn make something cool for a really deserving girl that could use a little frivolous beauty in her life. Everybody wins.

A Gilded Life – Spellbound Event


Welcome Dinner
The Spellbound Event hosted by A Gilded Life Studio was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. Forgive me for taking so long to post this, but the amount of photos I had to go through was a little overwhelming. I want to take you through the event, but I don’t want this to be a never ending post so I’ve made collages to keep the photos to a minimum length.

Pre-Event SoireeFor people that were able to get to the hotel one day early, they were treated to a Pre-Event Soiree at A Gilded Life studio in Santa Ana. A bus collected all of us for free and took us to a place where my kind of dreams are made of. They really should have handed out napkins at the door because the drool was seriously flowing.

The studio hosts classes and is also a retail shop for the most beautiful things you can imagine. They primed us with an amazing buffet, ridiculously beautiful desserts and of course champagne. Then they taught us a craft with a brand new embossing/cutting machine that’s yet to be on the market. Crafting AND Champagne?! I was giddy. So of course I went shopping.

A Gilded Life purchaseThis was my first night, so I really tried to reign it in because I knew there were going to be many other shopping events throughout the week. I bought this remnant of ruffled fabric that I plan to make a skirt with for Dianna. The two yards of lace are also for Dianna, but the lime green, velvet leaves are for me. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, but I just had to have them.

The French General StoreThe next day a local store called The French General hosted a free crafting/luncheon for those attendees who could drop by. I have loved French General products for years so to have a chance to craft in the store was so exciting. The store did not disappoint. They have an incredible assortment of fabric, beads, buttons, ribbon and paper ephemera. I ate my lunch, made a couple bracelets and scanned the store for what was going to have to go home with me.

French General NotionsMy restraint had started to weaken, obviously. So, so many pretty things.

We rushed back to the hotel with all our goodies and got ready for the Welcome Dinner in the ballroom of the Pasadena Langham Hotel.

Gift Tote bagThe first thing I noticed was that every chair had a really beautiful tote bag hanging on the back. We took our seats and tried to be grown ups and not the little kid inside who wanted to dump out the bags on the floor and check out all the candy. It took a couple glasses of wine to quiet that desperate impulse. I was able to keep a handle on it, which was difficult considering that this is what the inside looked like:

gift bag treasuresThe hosts and sponsors of this event were extremely generous with their products. There were so many cool new products in this bag that I think I’ve returned to  square one on my destashing efforts. But wait………there’s more……….

Spellbound embossing machineAfter dessert they surprised us by giving every single attendee a brand new, not on the market yet, Spellbound Artisan machine and a ton of dies and plates to go with it. I thought Oprah was going to come out and hand out car keys next. If you haven’t heard a room full of grown women squeal before, you’re definitely missing out. It absolutely made my heart race.

embossed bookThere are lots of embossing and die cutting machines on the market. This new machine’s advantage is that it can do both at the same time. The little book above is what we made the night before. We inked the plate before running the linen covered paper through the machine so not only was it embossed, it was stained in the low areas as well. So beautiful and so easy. It works on paper, fabric and leather. You have to get one.

When I got to my room with my new machine and bag full of awesome crap I totally dumped it all on my bed like a little girl and looked at every little treasure one at a time. It was awesome.

mixed media classesThe four classes I took over the next two days were amazing. I would love to show you all the finished products but I’m going to give a couple as gifts, so they have to remain a secret. The teachers were great and I learned so many new techniques that I’m still pumped up with ideas.

mercantile displayFriday night was the Dreamland Mercantile, and with a lot of help from my roommate I got my display set up with enough time to shop the other vendor tables.

Dreamland Mercantile vendorsThey had about 30 vendors, all real different, but all so beautiful. I sold enough to pay for my table and make a little profit. The feedback I got was very valuable so I’m definitely glad I did it.

Saturday night they hosted an Up All Night Craft Party that was a total blast. The vendors set up about six different craft stations with a different project at each of them. More free stuff!

They also provided late night munchies like sliders and mac n cheese, which was followed by an amazing display of desserts. I should have taken a picture but I was in a chocolate coma.

Craft party projectsThese are the things I made. They taught us how to make flowers with our new machines and we cut flowers out of a bunch of different fabrics and glued them all on an apron. It’s adorable. I made a mixed media tag book that’s so cute. I also stenciled a canvas bag to hold all my new stuff. The long necklace laying on top was the name tag every one wore. They made 150 of these, and each metal bezzle has our name floated in the resin inside. It’s stunning and actually one of my favorite things from the event.The Rose Bowl Flea MarketThe event was topped off with a Sunday morning trip to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. I had always wanted to go, and it was definitely worth the drive. They have a huge number of very good vendors with a vast array of antique and vintage finds. I loved the fabric stall at the top which specialized in vintage fabrics and trim. Very good prices and a large selection.

I have to say sorry to my good friend Jerry for not picking up the clown painting. I know it would go great over your bed, but I just didn’t have any more room in my car.

Rose Bowl purchasesThis is what came home with me. I’m going to use the vintage runners on my Thanksgiving tables this year and they’ll be so cute.

From there I drove home with a car full of treasures and a brain buzzing with ideas. The event was more than I could have dreamed of and I will definitely be returning next year. The generosity of the hosts and sponsors was overwhelming, but it was their attention to every detail that really pushed it over the top. It was obvious that they understood what makes a woman’s heart sing, and they were just so willing to make it happen.

A big Thank You to the women at A Gilded Life and the people at Spellbound. You gave me more than you’ll ever know.

Dreaming of an Art Retreat

Spellbinders EventOne year ago I saw an ad for this art retreat and I was dying to go. I’ve wanted to go to a mixed-media event for years, but they’ve always involved airfare and I just couldn’t justify it. This Spellbound Event was just two hours drive from my house, but since I didn’t have any extra cash, I didn’t go last year. I promised myself I would go this year so I set aside money ahead of time. I signed up for it the day registration opened in April and I’ve been counting the days ever since.

embellished bookThe retreat consists of a formal welcome dinner, followed by late night crafting, two days of classes, a mixed-media market, an up all night craft party and a field trip to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. I’ve died and gone to Heaven!

mixed media necklaceI’ve signed up for 5 classes, three of which I’ve posted photos of the finished products here. I picked classes that were either teaching techniques I’m not familiar with or products that I haven’t used.

embellished panelI didn’t want to post all five photos because you would be sobbing with jealousy. I’m sure by now you’re a little weepy and I’m sorry, but I just had to show you why I’m so excited. The group has also added a pre-event Soiree at A Gilded Life Studio, and a field trip to The French General in LA, both of which have been on my must-see list for years.

Because I wasn’t worked up enough, I decided at the last minute (no joke, like two weeks ago) to rent a table at their market and bring all my Salvaged Sanity products to sell. One of the major sponsors of the event is “Where Women Create” magazine, which is my all-time favorite magazine, and I would love to get my products in front of their editor who is attending the event. I think my stuff is right up her alley.

So the past few days I’ve been putting a table together and getting my stuff ready to sell. It would be nice to sell a few things, but more than anything I’m just trying to be seen.

Langham Hotel PasadenaThe retreat takes place at the Langham Hotel which looks stunning from the pictures. I’m going to be sharing a room with a woman I have only spoken to on the phone and through email. We actually have a lot in common and I’m really looking forward to meeting her.

So that’s what my life is revolving around this week. I leave November 6th which is just a few days away. I’ve practically got my table finished and I’m going to make a few more things to sell. The big challenge will be getting all of this into my Prius. Wish me luck!

All photography, except the hotel shot, are by I See the Moon photography.

Matilda’s Mouse Antique Show – Halloween 2013

Welcome to Matilda's MouseI am totally loving my daughter’s senior year. Every once in awhile she gets out of school at 11:19 am because she doesn’t have a 6th period class. Today that scheduled blessing was timed perfectly to coincide with Matilda’s Mouse monthly antique show………the Halloween Edition! Our favorite. (One sad note: Matilda, the dog who the show is named for, passed away last month. Make sure you sign the condolences book at the entrance)

Skeleton welcome crewLoved the welcome gate. The skeleton dude just gives you that warm fuzzy feeling.

Halloween barn entranceMatilda’s Mouse Antique Show takes place once a month in a barn on the Betty Crocker Estate in Valley Center (29200 Miller Road, Valley Center, CA 92082). It’s a three day event from Friday through Sunday. There’s a theme every month, and October is always Halloween. We love Halloween.

creepy portrait vignetteThe show has everything from crystal and china, to rusted primitives and architectural salvage. Definitely something for everybody.

3 guys and a coffinIt’s a antique home decor show…….with a twist. I wanted this coffin box bad but it’s not as fun without the three creepy dudes, and I just couldn’t swing the whole group. Their prices are very reasonable, but having just come off a big trip, I’m trying to keep the purse strings tight.
antique dress formI have a thing for crows and a couple of cool ones did make it home with me. This dress form is fantastic, even without the raven wings. The metal frame at the bottom is in perfect condition. She’d be so much fun to decorate for each season, don’t you think?

upside down furniture

The women that put this event together are so creative, and the layers are so deep. This vignette is hanging high in the rafters. You have to go slow to catch all their ingenuity.

wood carved birdcageThis highly detailed, carved wood birdcage is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never seen anything like it.

frightful frolicLove the witches legs. Great job with the chalkboards all around the place as well.

Halloween vignetteWe’re putting our Halloween porch together this weekend and we love going to Matilda’s to pick up a couple new things, but what we really fill up on is inspiration. How could we not?

witch vignetteIt’s an outstanding show and I can’t recommend it enough. Before the holiday season gets in full swing, take a quick Saturday drive out to Valley Center. It’s a great mother-daughter day out. I know this mother-daughter couple sure had a great time. What are you doing this weekend?

End of Days – West Texas Infinity

(This is the last post of a series that began September 27th)

Our last fun night was spent with our good friends in San Antonio. They had enough room that we were able to sleep indoors, which was nice. Then we started the long trek home.

west TexasIf you haven’t had the joy of driving through West Texas on the I-10, this is what you’re missing.

more West TexasYou’re also missing this. Those are two completely different pictures. I’m not kidding. It all looks like this. They should have mental health facilities at either end because it takes two days to drive to the border of Texas and it all looks like this. When you’re heading to California you get the added bonus of driving straight into the sunset with nothing between you and the sun. Awesome!

Arizona rocksAfter two days of that you’re thrilled to look at stuff like this in Arizona. This seems friggin’ majestic after all that desert.

The best views were actually on the inside of the RV:

sunbathingcan you find him?Percy has a questionPercy definitely kept us entertained.

The best part of any trip is always coming home……….

finally home

I’d like to take a minute to thank the rv pilot, my husband.

pilot and copilot(He’s a security buff and didn’t want me to let anyone think our home was vacant, so I had to keep the pilot’s identity a secret)

My husband kept us safe through rain, snow, humidity and mosquitoes, not to mention hours of mind-numbing desert. We didn’t have a single bad day on this trip, except for the bad fish night, but that wasn’t his fault. This was one of the most memorable trips we’ve been on and we couldn’t have done it without him.

Love you, Russ!

Day Seven – Dripping Springs, Texas

(This is the part of a series that began September 27th)

After we attended the Marburger Farm’s Antique Show on Tuesday we drove to our good friend’s home in Dripping Springs, Texas, which is West of Austin. We parked the RV in front of their horse stables and ambled down to their home for dinner, drinks and a lot of catching up. After we’d ate and drank our fill we dragged ourselves to our mobile home only to find out that now the generator wasn’t working. Whatever! Who needs electricity when you’re sleeping? We brushed our teeth and went to bed.

Thankfully our friends woke us up with fresh coffee and breakfast before we were awake enough to remember that we needed electricity to make coffee. Thank God! So again, the generator wasn’t needed. (As it turns out, the generator won’t turn on if you have less than a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle, so as soon as we filled up it was back to running smoothly)

Dianna and PattyAfter breakfast my friend Patty gave my daughter a lesson on her horse Beau. Dianna has joined an equestrian club at school and is volunteering at a rescue center, trading work hours for riding privileges. Patty is a fantastic teacher and she went over everything from grooming to tacking to basic riding. Dianna had a great time and learned a lot.

Percy is concernedPercy on the other hand was completely riveted. He has only seen one other horse and it was attached to a cart. It nearly made him poop his pants……..but he didn’t have pants. When Dianna got on Beau, he was beside himself. Again, he had no pants.

poor worn out puppyIt completely wore him out. I can understand. Watching her wore me out too.

My mother and I had horses when I was growing up, but she was a great rider with more bravery and determination than I’ve ever seen. She competed in Cross-Country Eventing shows against girls that were 40 years younger than her, and she won a fair share of ribbons. Kicking ass and taking names. What I remember most is her absolute exhilaration at the end of the jumping course. She was absolutely lit up on the inside.

my momMy mom got Dianna on horses as often as she could. I wish it had been more. Their time together was way too short. After my mom died, being around horses became really difficult for me, to say the least. My mom and I rode together nearly every day when I was in high school. Just the smell of horses makes me miss her.

trottingWhen Dianna got on Beau, I will admit, a few silent tears were shed on the side of the arena. This time it was because she looked just like my Mom on that horse. She’s so beautiful. It was pure joy to watch. Thanks, Patty. Thanks for a new memory.