Sunday, July 24, 2016

Montpelier Mansion in Maryland



Earlier this month, I set out with four of my kids on a 15 day, 2500 mile road trip to Maryland and New Jersey. So this is the start of my photo series of the more picturesque moments! (I'm sparing you the "teen selfies in van" in this post. Maybe later.)

Montpelier Mansion is located on 70 acres in Laurel, Maryland. It is what remains of a 9,000 acre plantation established by the Snowden family in the 1780's. My father has often mentioned it as an interesting place to visit, so I asked him to take me and my youngest daughter Melody on a Sunday afternoon. We love historical architecture and gardens!

Enjoy!






























Stay tuned! More to come! I've got pics of Cunningham Falls, the Jersey shore, Brookside Gardens, Savage Mill, and around our family home and garden.

Other historical residence photo posts:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My New Blue Art


I've been a little extra artsy lately, and thought I'd share some of my recent work and how I made it. Blue. Lots of blue.

Glazed ceramic platter


For Mother's Day, several of my daughters gave me a gift card to All Fired Up, a local pottery painting studio. I went last week and took my youngest daughter along; she painted a hedgehog. We picked them up yesterday and I was quite pleased with the result! I chose words from my Vision & Values board that encourage me to be my best. 

Method: I mixed two shades of light blue for the base color and painted the whole platter. I added the words with a teal paint pen. I highlighted the fluted border with a medium blue shade, and added in little pictures along the edges. The studio fired it. My total cost for the platter, materials, studio time, and firing was about $40.




This is before firing. The colors get much more vibrant!



I use it on my bedside table to hold my phone and eyeglasses at night.


Seashore picture board


I saw something like this in a store - minus the shells - and realized I had already purchased sectioned boards at a craft store and could make them myself. My 10 year old daughter made one, too. We used shells from a recent trip to St. Augustine Beach.



Method: I alternated blue and green for each section. I also added in a little coral paint for a streaky, weathered effect. I glued the shells and miniature clothes pins on with tacky glue.



The picture boards are hanging in our seaside themed school room.



Tie dye t-shirt


I made this shirt for my oldest son, but my youngest son thought it was an extra and gave it to a friend at school who had admired his red t-shirt that you can see in the background. So I'm buying more white shirts and doing another batch. My middle son is going to make another for himself, too. You can see more tie dye work (from last year) here: Tie Dye Radiance

Method: I pleated the white shirt horizontally (narrower at the bottom), then rolled the resulting pleated strip into a coil and put on the rubber bands. This is what it looked like after I applied the dye with a squeeze bottle.



Distressed ceramic cross



Method: I bought an uncoated ceramic cross at Michael's. I started experimenting by dripping blue dye (from my t-shirts project) onto the cross. It absorbed quickly, leaving a mottled texture that I really liked. I made another batch of dye to complete it. The only problem is that I put so much dye on that it saturated the ceramic. The dye sank in, but as each layer dried, white smudgy powder appeared on the top. I tried sanding it down, but the white stuff kept appearing as it kept drying. I left it overnight and sanded some more, and then it stayed blue. The sanding also gave it the vintage distressed look that I was trying to achieve.


I traced the "Abide in Him" words from a metal ornament. Then I went over the pencil marks with black ink and filled it in with blue permanent marker. Then I added a little cross-hatching to the letters. The cross had originally come with a twine hanger but I replaced it with white raffia cord. I gave it to our (former) youth pastor and his wife as a present on his last day. We'll miss them!



Seven gifts board


This project has its own post over at my This Mom Grows Up blog. It's a bedside reminder to take care of the gifts I've been given in life.

Method: I bought the blue board (with rods on it already) at Target. I painted mason jar wooden tags with acrylic paint and did the words and symbols with permanent markers. I tied them on with blue lace.

There you go! Five blue art projects!

Having fun,

Virginia Knowles



Sunday, May 15, 2016

All in a Mother's Day



Mother's Day....

For many of us who have lost their mothers, lost a pregnancy, experienced mothering regrets/inadequacies, or had less than ideal Mother's Days in the past, this can be a tough day of the year. It's all of the above for me, and though I'm usually a cheerful mama, I found myself getting a little depressed and anxious as the day approached.

And then I went and had a marvelous day anyway.

The plan was for my youngest five kids (ages 10-19) to make breakfast for me, and then my five adult daughters would take me out to lunch. 

However, my ten year old, Melody, got up way before everyone and brought me a scrumptious homemade breakfast in bed: pancakes, eggs, and sliced strawberries. It's just as well since some of the others were up late babysitting or had to leave for work early.



She also gave me some of her recent art work! So pretty and cute!





I enjoyed sitting in church with several of my children. My fourth daughter, Joanna, who usually goes to another church, showed up with a beautiful surprise - an engagement ring! 



Her fiance David, an engineer who lives on the east coast of Florida, is a kind and loving man. They're getting married next May, and I couldn't be more thrilled!

After church, Jo and I met the rest of the girls at Briarpatch, a restaurant on Park Avenue in Winter Park where they also took me for my 50th birthday. She got to show off the gorgeous ring to her other sisters at our outdoor cafe table. I gave Mary and Julia their Mother's Day presents, and then opened ones they all gave me: a gift card to a pottery painting shop (yes!), lotion, and a mug.


Mary and Joanna

We all love to laugh. Such sweet girls, and they all adore each other and help each other out.


Rachel and Lydia

Rachel, Lydia, Mary, me, Joanna, and Julia

Spinach, goat cheese, and bacon omelet
with cottage fries and an herbed biscuit

Mary is a mother of four
and a part-time PR writer
Julia is a mother of two
and a part-time receptionist

Rachel is a PCU nurse at Florida Hospital

Joanna is a bride-to-be,
a full time grad student majoring in family therapy,
a part-time assistant in a research library,
and a very-part-time Disney photographer



Lydia is a ceramics major at UF
and works at two local restaurants this summer

My necklace is a watch locket inscribed with the initials OEW. It belonged to my mother's mother's mother, Olive Elizabeth Wrislar, over a hundred years ago, so I thought it was the most fitting thing to wear for Mother's Day!

And here we all are! Yeah, I'm the matronly one in the middle.






Julia had to leave near the end of lunch since her baby girl needed her. The rest of us decided to window shop since it's the ritzy area of town! I am not really a clothes person, so I was bored for the few minutes we looked in the first shop. But I perked up at the next one. I like witty chalkboards. 


I peeked in the store, a funky boutique, and told my daughters, "I'm not going in for their clothes. I'm going for the word art!" I love inspirational sayings. This is bliss.




The store is Forema. It's my new happy place on Park Avenue, along with Ten Thousand Villages. 


Um, we stayed well over an hour, and it's a pretty small store. There was just so much to like! And most of us bought at least one thing. 

Joanna offered to get me one of the word art pieces as an extra Mother's Day present. I chose a HAPPY sign. Of course.








  


The design elements in the store are astounding. Lots of vintage, funky, happy, and pretty all rolled into one. These belts are displayed on a vintage suitcase with an antique book tucked into the pocket.




The other cool thing is that Lydia started chatting with the clerk (the one in the hat behind the counter) and the clerk's boyfriend (the guy at the right), and found they had a lot in common with their tastes in art and music. All of the employees were so friendly and helpful.




Such an elegant updo!

After we left Forema, we peeked in the windows at the bridal dress shop across the street. Way out of our budget, but it's fun to look!



What a lovely afternoon with my girls!

I got home and took a nap for a little while, and then it was time for my four teens to go to youth group. While we waited for them, Melody and I went to Subway and shared a foot long for dinner.



What a lovely end to my Mother's Day 2016!

And now...


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