Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Collars for Greyhounds Rock!

Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg is the non-profit that friends and I have that raises money for canine cancer research and support.  GRF has a booth at the Fredericksburg Pet Expo this weekend, and our inventory of martingale collars was looking rather skimpy.  I took some time on Monday to go through my stock of donated designer fabric samples and start the process of turning some of them into collars.

Maggie was helping.

I worked at the sewing machine for a while in the afternoon on Tuesday and Wednesday, and this is some of the result of my effort ... I made twenty-five new collars (only 21 of them were finished when I laid them out and took this photo.)

These collars are one and a half inches wide and they are adjustable from twelve to eighteen inches around.  They are ideal for medium-sized dogs ... my greyhounds had a whole wardrobe of them, and 45-pound Ruby wears one whenever we are out.  We sell these for $20 each, and every penny of the purchase price is donated to Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg.  (Do you see one you like and can't make it to the Expo in person?  We take PayPal, and shipping is only $3 ... hint, hint.)

With this out of the way, I'm free to work outside in the garden today.  Nothing makes me much happier.  (I will show you what I'm working on soon.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Breakfast Time

Winnie says, "Here, Dorothy, I'll help you finish your breakfast."

Winnie had licked her own dish clean, and Dorothy probably felt that she had no choice but to share or leave when Winnie trotted across the kitchen and helped herself Dorothy's cat food.  I try to time feeding so that all of the animals finish eating at about the same time and this won't happen, but Dorothy must have been eating slower than usual that morning.  When I saw this, I scooped Winnie up to let Dorothy eat in peace (after snapping a picture, of course.)

It's a beautiful Sunday morning here in Hartwood.  Last week we had hot, humid days, and now it's crisp and cool and now the weather feels like fall ... bring it on, because fall is probably my favorite time of year! 

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Making Doors into Windows

I bought this set of antique double doors forever ago, intending to use them as the new front doors on The Shack.  They needed to be scraped and refinished (no big deal), and there was some considerable repair to be done on the bottom of one of the doors (where it was rotted and had been hacked back together with plywood and metal mending plates.)

A few years later, during which time I did nothing to these doors, I came across even BETTER doors (which I will show you some other time), so these doors languished and were ignored.  One day, as I moved them to yet ANOTHER storage spot, I had a brainstorm.  These would be awesome if I cut off the bottom panels to use them as WINDOWS!

I've been working on doing just that this week.

First they had to be scraped and sanded, with two coats of oil-based polyurethane applied to the sides that will be on the interior of the building.

Next, mark and cut off the bottom panel ... 

What once was a damaged door is now a really cool window!

Here is what it looks like with one of them propped in place, high on the north wall.

Later today, I will load up the frames and drop them off at the glass shop.

Finishing this was the final piece of the puzzle of salvaged materials for the renovation of this wall of The Shack.  I hope to get to the actual construction very soon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hey, Connie, Where Have You Been?

Been going places and working on stuff.

Here is a sampling of what's been going on ...

1.  We spent a day with friends at the Virginia Scottish Games.

National Anthem to officially open the games.

Tossing the caber.

There was a Wounded Warrior competition.

Listened to music from Rathskelter, one of my new favorite bands.

2.  Went to the NASCAR race in Richmond with my oldest daughter.  She manages an auto shop, and one of her vendors gave her race tickets, pit passes, and corporate hospitality admission.  We had so much fun!

The crowd on Pit Road before the race.

We were two of Federated's 1500 guests and were treated to food and drink and door prizes and (best of all) air conditioning!

Pre-race activities included a parachutist with the American flag.

After the sun set, the sky was beautiful.

I love NASCAR!

3.  I have begun the next stage of work on the renovation of our building that we call The Shack.  The first thing will be to rework the north wall.  (Need to catch up on this project, click HERE.)

One more coat of varnish on this window and I will be finished restoring the two picture windows that I bought at Lucketts in May.

I have had these doors forever.  The bottom of one of them is damaged beyond saving, and I am hoping to cut them off and turn them into clerestory windows.

Scraping and sanding and varnish have brought out so much of the character in the wood of these old doors.

4.  I have a plumber and two helpers here today replacing our water main.  We have had two leaks in the line within the past eighteen months, and we feel that it's prudent to go ahead and spend the $$ to put in a new line.  

They had to dig a big hole in the basement to expose where the line enters the house.

Jack-hammered the concrete pad and began digging the trench for the new line by hand.

Progress at the end of Day One.

Day Two (today) will go faster because the backhoe is digging in open ground and is making good progress so far.

Now you know what's been going on around here.  What sort of things are you working on?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Coming Along Nicely

My husband was able to carve out a little bit of time over the course of the past couple of afternoons to work on his painting of Daniel and me.  Progress is rapid and dramatic with the underpainting at this stage of the process.  There is still a LOT left to do, but you can sort of see where he's going with it.

The painting on the shelf is a portrait of my brother's granddaughter.  My husband says that he thinks that it's about 80% finished.

As a reminder, this is the photo that he is working from for my portrait ...

a Photoshop composite of three different photos to get an image of Daniel and me sitting on a deck in the rose garden.

I am very excited to see such progress, and I love it SO much!

(Click HERE if you missed the post about how he and I put together the final inspiration image.)

Monday, September 1, 2014


Before Alice and Dorothy, we have never had cats who enjoy and seek out the company of other cats.  Their partners of choice are each other ... this isn't a surprise since they are littermates, and they have never been apart.  I have also seen one or the other of them cuddle up with Maggie, and Maggie tends to put up with it, but she doesn't like it at all.

This is a not-so-great photo of a scene from earlier this morning ...

Dorothy was washing Alice's face.  A few minutes later, Alice was washing Dorothy's ears (no photo of this).  Sometimes this type of situation ends with a biting, hissing wrestling match.  This morning, they finished their baths and are now sleeping side by side.  

Hard to comprehend that it has been four years since we brought these little striped balls of fur here to their forever home.  Adopting sister kitties is one of the best things that we have ever done!  

(The original post about their arrival 2010 is HERE.)

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Glimpse Into the Artist's Imagination

My husband started a new painting this week.  It's one that he has been mentally working on for some time now ... trying to put together a pleasing composition and make the overall painting into an accurate representation of the subject.  

It started with a photo that I have shown you before ... one of my favorites ... an image of a special moment between Daniel and me in 2011, which we knew had the potential to be a wonderful portrait.

While the subject and the mood of this photo is perfect, the background is not.  We have brainstormed different things that we could replace it with ... never finding anything that felt right.  Inspiration struck while we were at Biltmore two weeks ago, as we were admiring John Singer Sargent's portrait of Frederick Law Olmstead.  (truth be told, we were standing there trying to scheme a way to get the enormous painting off the wall and leave with it without being arrested.)

A portrait of the man surrounded by the garden of his creation ... perhaps we could do that with the painting of me.  (Let me say, up front, that my husband is a master of editing things with Photoshop, and he did lots of that to get to our final image.)

With this inspiration in mind, we got to work.  I searched through my photos to find one that would provide the look we wanted.  I found this one, of 'Alexandre Girault' spilling over the Rambler Fence, but the composition was going the wrong direction.

No problem ... it was a simple matter for him to flip the photo and make the bulk of the rose fill the empty spot in the upper right part of the composition.

now it's pointing the correct direction

The cement slab that I was sitting on in the original photo is too white and very distracting ... but, what could we replace it with?  How about some decking to go along with the weathered fence?

photo of the steps of our pavilion.

With all the pieces of this puzzle in place, and quite a bit of time spent with Photoshop cutting and pasting and adjusting colors and saturation and levels of the various components, the final inspiration image for the painting looks like this:

My husband was eager to get started on the painting right away, and he sketched everything onto the canvas the other day ...

... and he started the underpainting last night.

Even at this stage, I can see that this will most certainly be a very special portrait that captures so many of my favorite things in one fictitious-but-very-representative image.  I have a perfect spot already picked out to for it to hang it's finished ... it's gonna be a while till I can do that, tho.

(want to see more of my husband's art?  Go to his web site.)

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