Cookie Day

I did a whole lot of procrastinating, but these finally got done. I do love doing these, but I HATE mixing up all the batches of icing and getting them colored. It just really seems to take forever. When you are still feeling like crap, the thought of having to put in all that work just seems overwhelming.

We still had a blast. Again, I love the fact that both of my kids still love to do these every year. We got Hubby to jump in and decorate with us this year, too, which was even more fun.

Sadly, I STILL have two other things on my list of stuff I was supposed to bake for the holidays that hasn’t gotten done yet. I’m thinking they sound just as good being New Year’s treats.

Christmas Goodies Collection On Redbubble

I’ve been playing again. And having way too much fun with it.

I’ve designed a few new prints for Redbubble, this time with a Christmas goodies theme. There are 4 different background colors for the same pattern of Christmas trees, snowmen, santa and gingerbread men.

Part of the fun of these is that I also did the individual items so they can be mixed and matched or coordinated together.

Normally I stick mostly to the various products and rarely focus on the clothing options because the photos just don’t do as well on those. But with these designs, they all are mostly fun on EVERYTHING. I especially love the fact that you can do up a whole slightly cheesy, but still cute and fun outfit with the leggings.

And as always, there are masks!

So if you are looking for something a little different this holiday season, these might be just the thing you need. Or if you are looking for something different for gift ideas for others, check out all the other non-Christmasy items as well!

Oh, and Redbubble currently has a sale going on. Use the code DEALS2020 at check out to get 20% – 60% off your purchase.

Snowman On A Starry Winter Night: On Redbubble

I again didn’t have the energy to do much of anything yesterday, but I did feel up to playing a bit and this was the result. As with most of these, I have this up on Redbubble if anyone is interested.

I’m apparently ready for the holidays!

Snowman On A Starry Winter Night

Starry Winter Snowman Apron
Starry Winter Snowman Apron
Starry Winter Snowman Card
Starry Winter Snowman Card
Starry Winter Snowman Fitted Mask
Starry Winter Snowman Fitted Mask

Bring On The Nutcrackers!

My guys are coming up out of storage today along with all of my other outside decorations. It is a little early for me as we usually wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving, but I’m opting to take advantage of the nice weather today to work outside.

I’m standing firm that there are no indoor decorations yet, because I have my santa curtain tradition that is important to me and I really need that this year.

Doing this part now also gives us the chance to organize that under stair storage space for the contractors to be able to close it off when they come to work on my craft room.  Since they are supposed to start any day now, this really needs to get done.

Getting these out is making me want to work on another project, which I can’t yet. My cabinets are going to be my next project. But these were SO much fun to do! I’ve tossed around the idea of trying to do some much smaller than life sized versions, but what I want to do requires even more tools that I don’t currently have. And I’m SO not going to buy anything for like 10 years after my craft room is finished!

But… if anyone else out there is feeling extremely ambitious and wants instructions, feel free to steal or use as a guide for your own version… https://tjfox.net/2018/11/26/repost-giant-nutcrackers-how-to/.

 

Halloween Ghosts And Jack O’Lanterns on Redbubble

I have a couple of new designs done for Halloween masks out on my Redbubble shop. The only difference is that I liked these designs for more than just the masks, so there all kinds of fun goodies to choose from.

Like travel mugs and aprons.

As always, I’m game for design or image requests if you are looking for something in particular. Just drop me a note through my contact page!

Redbubble Halloween Masks

I have been toying with this idea almost since I set up my Redbubble store and I saw they did masks. I mean, come on! If you have to wear a face mask, especially around Halloween, you’ve GOT to have fun with it!

TJ Fox’s Halloween Masks on Redbubble

Skull Mask
Skull Mask

The skull mask came from the idea of doing the concept in face paint. That was my initial goal when I started working on it, but I ended up with something a little different, but still fun. I’m still considering a couple of designs based on different face paint concepts, but am trying to figure out how to pull them off.

Smirky Jack O' Lantern Mask
Smirky Jack O’ Lantern Mask

The jack O’ lantern faces were one of the first designs I planned to work on. This is one that I may still do up a couple of different concepts besides the two I have so far. They combine one of my favorite fall activities, pumpkin carving, with the fun of playing in Photoshop.

Goofy Jack O' Lantern Mask
Goofy Jack O’ Lantern Mask

And my deepest apologies to those that hate clowns. I just could not resist! Maybe since it isn’t a full face, it isn’t so bad?

Clown Mask
Clown Mask

As always, if there is a design you’d like me to work on, feel free to let me know! I’m always open to doing something custom.

Lemon Tree Progress

Remember all those lemon trees I sprouted last year?

Baby Lemon Trees
Baby Lemon Trees

I’m slowly but surely getting mini-trees out of them.

I am down to only 5 of the original 14 or so that sprouted. I had a couple of pots that the plants just refused to grow in and others that just never got healthy. Of those 5, only two have grown nice and tall and look really healthy. In the other group of three, two have still stayed small and one that has gotten taller, but the leaves look like they are struggling. The fact that I still have any at all is shocking, so I’m just giddy.

Today I transplanted them from the pots they were in (some were sharing a pot) into bigger ones to give them more room and to, hopefully, allow those that don’t look as good to get a little more breathing space.

I also just realized today that lemon trees apparently have thorns. I had no clue that was a thing.

The one that is really thriving the best (top image) is now about 10 inches tall. The other one that is also doing well is only a couple inches shorter. I may still lose the smaller ones, but I’m hoping the transplant today will help their chances. The fact I haven’t killed them yet is amazing!

Mask Up and Dance On: Redbubble Collection

My latest Redbubble addition is sort of a whole collection dedicated to dance called Mask Up and Dance On.

The main goal was mask design, but there are a lot of other product options for each design. I’m planning on adding other colors and maybe even another font or two, but this gave me a good starting point.

I loved doing these and learned that if I’m not careful, I’m going to have massive stack of masks because I really want one of every design!

TJ Fox On Redbubble: Photo/Art Prints And Fun Products

One of my most recent and ongoing projects has been setting up a Redbubble store. The goal was to have a place to offer prints of many of the photos I post here, but there are so many other cool things you can get from them as well.

This is ongoing because I still have a ton of photos to get modified and uploaded, but I’ve gotten a small start. You can now find prints and more in the TJ Fox Redbubble Store. I plan to get some art and design style pieces mixed in along with the photos as well (only a couple at the moment), but those are going to take just a bit longer.

So yes, you can get photo prints in all the typical shapes, sizes and formats: art prints, framed prints, canvas, cards, etc. But you can also get other fun stuff as well.

And these are just a tiny sampling. There are SO many more items.

Oh and masks! Did you see the fun masks?!

Funky Flowers On Green Mask
Funky Flowers On Green Mask

Even though I ended up with all the trials and mistakes on the masks I made for everyone else and I already have a good size stash, I know I’m going to still have to get a couple of these. I love the fact that I can wear my personality and my art in such a way.

I think that was part of my issue with Fine Art America when I tried them. While they offered a lot of fun stuff, there weren’t a lot of things I’d actually want myself. I’m not finding that an issue on Redbubble, which is probably unfortunate.

There are even puzzles!! And yes, I’m evil enough to make that repeating pattern from the mask above into a puzzle.

End of an Iris Puzzle
End of an Iris Puzzle

And if there is ever something I’ve posted here on my blog that you’d like to see in the store and isn’t, please feel free to send me a note and I’ll do what I can to get it out there for you. I do currently have a long list of images I intend to upload, but I’ll bump any requests to the top of my to do list.

I’d also be willing to discuss any custom art or art for a specific product if you like the idea of something but aren’t finding a design or image you love.

Please take a few minutes to go browse all the other awesomeness that’s in the shop. Feel free to brag about that awesomeness to others and share the link until someone yells at you for spamming (or not, don’t want you to get into trouble).

All the love that is spread is greatly appreciated!

NEOWISE And The Big Dipper

I honestly have no clue how well this image will show. If possible, click on it to make it bigger (or whatever to get it to fit in your screen as you need to see it all at once).

I created this image from a photo I took while I was doing comet watch. The night BG went out with me, she asked if it was possible to get the big dipper and the comet in the same shot because she wanted it for the background on her phone. While it was easy enough to frame them together, getting everything else right to get her what she was looking for really wasn’t easy at all.

Along with most of the typical difficulties I had in trying to get a clean shot of the comet, fuzziness and streaky stars and correct exposure with the urban light pollution,  I had to try and get ALL of the elements she wanted working together at the same time.

She really wanted to be able to clearly see both the comet and the big dipper, but she also wanted enough other stars to be seen, but not so many that you lost the big dipper.

It seemed like no matter how I processed it in photoshop, there was always at least one aspect that didn’t work. Too many stars. Not enough stars. A loss of the comet tail. A brightness fade from a corner of the shot because of ambient lighting on the horizon. I would get one aspect the way I really liked it and another one would be way off. I got her a version that worked okay, but she didn’t absolutely love. Still, it was close enough so I called it good.

Then I spent umpteen hours playing with learning how to photo stack, working on edits for MC’s senior pictures and learning how to fix a couple of issues (glare on glasses lenses is an absolute bear if it is bad enough or in the wrong spot). In the process, I figured a few things out that I thought might make a difference on BG’s photo.

So I dug in and played.

Multiple layers, hours and various techniques later, I have pretty much exactly what she asked for. It isn’t perfect by a long shot and is pretty much only really good for what BG wanted to use it as, but I’m exceptionally pleased with it.

The image is very much still a photo. All I really did was play with the kinds of techniques you might see in a darkroom for film/print processing. Mostly.

Now if I could just figure out how to make the stars and comet just a bit bigger and noticeable, It’d be near perfect for what I really wanted out of this one. As it is, I still managed to get damn close.

*In case you can’t click the first image…

NEOWISE & The Big Dipper
NEOWISE & The Big Dipper

New Neighbor

This is one not so brilliant, but phenomenally determined bird. They started building this nest above our garage earlier in the spring. Sadly, the location is horrible and catches the wind all the time. The nest got blown off at least 4 different times, but they were back within a day and building again.

It apparently stayed in place long enough the last time for them to be able to spend a lot of time in it. I’m certain that means we have eggs sitting in that nest now. So far, they’ve been exceptionally lucky that it hasn’t gotten blown of that narrow ledge again.

I’m sure a big part of that is that there is one sitting in there almost all the time, but if anyone comes anywhere near the nest or that corner of the house, it flies off, so I’m still a little surprised. I’m just hoping we don’t go out one day and see a bunch of shattered eggs on the driveway.

Mother Of All Invention

Since everything is so far from normal right now, my usual plan for Easter for my kids isn’t happening. For one, it really snuck up on me and I didn’t have time to get some of our traditional things. When Hubby did go for our grocery run, the candy section was absolutely wiped out. He managed to get a single bag of basic jelly beans because it is the one thing BG asked for (though we all much prefer the Starburst jelly beans, we aren’t complaining).

Not that the candy even matters to the kids. MC has even said over and over this last year that he just really doesn’t want any (for any event). It is more about having or doing something for them. They opted to still do their traditional scavenger hunt, which doesn’t require anything but time, so we will do that as it has always been their absolute favorite thing about the day.

When we talked about alternative options, I was trying to brainstorm something for them that they would enjoy. Dying eggs crossed my mind, but my kids have never been that into doing that and I didn’t want to use a bunch of eggs. Then I mentioned sugar cookies. They both jumped on the idea of doing egg shaped sugar cookies that they could decorate. Perfect!

Except… I didn’t have a cookie cutter. I tried to find something that I could still use and make it work, but didn’t have anything. I considered doing a card stock template and just cutting around it. I’d done it before and it worked, but it was a little bit of a pain. Then I remembered I had a bunch of copper plate in my stash of jewelry making supplies. I’ll make my own cookie cutter!!

Yeaaahhhh… easier said than done.

I don’t know why I was absolutely convinced that I’d used copper in a solder project in the past, but apparently I remembered incorrectly because my solder does NOT work with copper.

What should have been a relatively quick project took me forever to figure out that I couldn’t solder this before then needing to spend some time trying to figure out an alternative. I finally figured it out and it works, but because I attempted to fire and solder this, there is some fire scale that I didn’t want to spend any more time than I did buffing and polishing out.

So, it isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but I now have an egg shaped cookie cutter and I’ll be working with the kids on making sugar cookies later today.

It was a fun learning experience, though. I might try to make some other simple shapes in the future because it really wasn’t all that hard once I figured it out.

Anniversary Celebration – An Unexpected Turn – Last Day!

I started the Kindle ebook give away for An Unexpected Turn on the anniversary of the day I clicked publish. It ends on the day I celebrate another anniversary. 19 years and Hubby and I are still going strong.

It has been an interesting week to try and honor and celebrate both of these milestones, but I’m grateful for the chance to get to do so, even if it is low key. Today, I can say that I published a book and a year later it is still drawing interest and hitting new milestones I never even considered when I hit that publish button. Today, we are all healthy and I get to celebrate another year with an amazing human that helps to make life so much more fun and bright. I’m incredibly grateful for both of those things.

So, if you were considering it and haven’t yet, now is your last chance! As always, please feel free to share it with anyone you may think is interested.

To those of you that have already picked this up! Thank you.

 

 

Free Book Reminder – Through 3/31!

Just a little reminder that my book,  An Unexpected Turn, is free through the 31st in celebration of it’s one year anniversary! Even if this isn’t your type of book, please pass it along to someone you know that might be interested. As always, any reviews you feel like leaving are very, very much appreciated!

One Year Book Anniversary: An Unexpected Turn – Free Offering

One year ago, I clicked the publish button on my book, An Unexpected Turn. To celebrate, I’m offering up the Kindle version for free from 3/27 through 3/31.

Considering I never even planned to write a book in the first place, seeing that I’m celebrating the one year anniversary of it’s release, is kind of mind blowing. If you enjoy emotional stories about found families, feel free to grab this while it lasts. If that’s not your thing, then please pass it along to someone that might enjoy it as a way to help me celebrate this shocking milestone.

 

Blurb:

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

Daffodils And A Bear Hunt

I finally have some daffodils blooming. At the moment, I have three different ones, but I think I have a couple more that are trying to pop as well. This one looks to be the most traditional looking one so far. The other two are very different. I’ll try to get some photos later today of those if the sun would ever decide to come out.

There are all kinds of stories going around about various different neighborhoods, groups, or individuals doing things to help entertain their neighbors right now. One of the things that I’d seen was directed more towards little kids. They were calling it a bear hunt. Residents would put some sort of bear (stuffed or other) in a window where it could be seen from the outside. When the kids would go for a walk, they could hunt for the bears in the windows.

My neighborhood decided to do one as we have a lot of grade school age kids that live around here. I’m a huge bear fan and Hubby has gotten me a few really fun ones over the years, so I decided to share the one that would be most easily seen. My giant one. He kind of takes up the whole window (not that is is a huge window).

Bear Hunt - Bear In The Window
Bear Hunt – Bear In The Window

It was just a really simple thing to do and the little kids can have a fun activity that doesn’t require any interaction with other people. I thought it was cute and fun. Now I have a bear hanging out in my window waving at anyone that walks by.

I will say, it is a bit disturbing to see it up there at night. I guess older teenagers and adults can play along and find a way to give it a creepy feel as it looks a little deranged staring out at you in the dark.