Monday, August 24, 2015

Return Visit to the Adair Country Inn and Restaurant

Our house was so quiet after the kids all left.  I tend to get all sad and weepy at that point, so this year I booked a stay out of town to stave off the crazies.   We live near the ocean and decided that a trip to the mountains was just the change we needed,  and that meant staying at the Adair Country Inn located in Bethlehem, New Hampshire.    This was our second stay  - I blogged about the first here.  It's nice to explore new places, but it's also fun to return to favorite haunts.

Dorothy Adair Hogan

The house was a wedding gift (shh, don't tell the kids about this extravagant gifting!) to Dorothy Adair Hogan.   She and her husband were famous for entertaining high society - presidential hopefuls, actors, Supreme Court Justices - you know, your average dinner guest types!   The Adair remained Dorothy's residence until her death in 1991 and became an inn the following year.  

Mrs. Adair's hat collection decorates the upstairs landing and many of the rooms.  The landing library is pretty sweet, too.

The house is all that you'd expect from an old, well -loved and preserved estate.

The hosts, Barry and Kimberly Hunter are the perfect blend of friendly, helpful, funny and not intrusive.   We felt welcome from the minute we entered the door.

The restaurant at the Adair is outstanding.  We had dinner and breakfast there.  Dinner was superb - I had the most delicious mushroom ragout over crisp polenta squares and was too busy enjoying it to take pictures!   Breakfast is my favorite, though, because of these:

Early morning coffee on the deck is the perfect spot to enjoy the misty morning.

And the grounds - 400 acres of beautiful trails and gardens.

 I get to travel with the Most Interesting Man in the World.  He doesn't always sit in gardens,but when he does...

I'm not a fan of spiders, but I'm fascinated by their webs.  I caught this one decorated with all that morning mist.

The Captain, consulting the map of the grounds.  Silly me  - I thought we should just follow the big red arrow !

Love the little fern's shadow.

Crazy melt-down averted - mission accomplished.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Won a Piece of Toast !

I rarely ever win anything, but holy guacamole, I won this beautiful watercolor by the talented watercolor miniaturist, author and funny blog writer, Vivian Swift.   To celebrate finishing her new book , Gardens of Awe and Folly, (due out in March and available for pre-order on Amazon and probably other sites as well), Vivian held a lottery for this beauty.   Her husband , Top Cat, picked my winning number !!

Then one happy day this envelope arrived in my mailbox.

And inside, my lovely Toast.   "Toast" ?   What's up with that?   Ms Swift calls her miniatures Triscuits (there was a bit of nasty business with the folks at Nabisco over the name, but after some saber -rattling and general silliness on their part, all is settled).   Since my painting is bigger than a Triscuit, it is of course, a piece of toast.

Vivian's blog is a wonderful mixture of laugh-out-loud funny stories from her life and serious information about how she paints - what paints and brushes she uses, how to fix the occasional oops,  and drawing tutorials.  I actually drew a cat - a recognizable cat- from her tutorial and crowed about it here.   There's more - adventures with her cat family, thrifting, and the annual winter champagne-o-meter method for measuring snowfall.  If you haven't checked out her blog, you must!

Anyway, back to my painting, done for the garden book (but not used).  Lucky me.

Remember that all this detail is in a picture that measures 5 x 4 inches! Look at that brick walkway and all the detail in the grass.  Pretty sure she may have used masking fluid on the grass  - something I never heard of until she explained it in one of her posts.

See that great handwriting along the sides?  One of the wonderful thing about Vivian's books (and one that is time-consuming), is that she hand sets all the type in a font based on her handwriting.  This is from her book, Le Road Trip, gushed about in a previous post here.  Gorgeous detailed watercolors of various architectural elements AND handwritten font - swoon!

Even more impressive are the details in one of her tiny Triscuits - this one from a post about Marrakesh.

My toast is in a perfect spot above my dresser .

Thank you so much, Ms Vivian Swift - you're the best!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Miracle Journal Page

OK, so maybe this doesn't qualify as a miracle, but it is pretty darn close.   This is the third version of a page in my planner from June.  It started out with a great  idea - various bits of white and blue-green scraps,  and a bird from a napkin.   No picture, but trust me, it was a huge mess - random bits glued down that just did not work.   Brushed over some white paint to try to pull it together- still awful.

I could have just left it and moved on.  I've read all those inspiring words that every page isn't going to be fantastic, it's all a learning experience,  and just turn the page and forget it.  But I couldn't - it was just so hideous and it mocked me every time I opened my planner.

i saw this technique in Dian Wakely's book, Art Journal Courage for fixing what she calls "overwrought pages".  You draw a simple stem and leaves with black marker, right over all the goobery-ness.  Then paint around the stem and  leaves with white , then turquoise paint and voila, page rescued.  I did it - but remember all those random white bits and white paint ? I ended up with a stem of ghostly white leaves.  But I bet it would work well on more colorful pages, just not my mainly white one.

In a fit of pique, I tore off some under papers and glued them over all that mess.  Immediately things started looking up!  I sprayed on a bit of Dylusions ink and loved how some of the layers peeked through.  If I stopped right there, my page would be OK.

But I remembered this huge birdcage stamp from Inkadinkado.  Perfect !  Added some birds from the same set, a bit of text stamped in white, some text and circles.    Now this page has gone from the absolute worst to one of my favorites.   

The lesson in rescuing a god-awful mess?   Cover the dang thing and start all over.  Or, less eloquently:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Breaking News : A New Grand Baby

I've been in Austin for a few weeks for the arrival of this sweet baby James:

He is the little brother of William, who loves to hold him and shower him with drool kisses!

While James snoozed, William and I were busy.

Being silly

Driving fast

William is an early riser - like 5 a.m. early, so we got in some digger driving before the workmen arrived.

More early morning activity - painting, with careful color selection - "now I need blue".

Making muffins with the cutest helper .

And a shirt for 4th of July parade.

Dousing Grandpa with the water gun.

And taking my turn pushing the two cuties in their new stroller.  Austin heats up early, so we head out  early before it gets too hot.

James is a mellow little guy who loves to sleep on his people. Here he is  sleeping on his mom's legs - one of his favorite sleeping spots.

Sleeping on (and with) Grandpa is another favorite.

And of course, resting with his beautiful mom is his very favorite.

While I know it is the natural progression of things, seeing your daughter with her two babies is pretty amazing.  I am so fortunate that I got to spend time with them and welcome James to the family.   There were so many special moments, but having William call me, "Sweetie Pie" is at the top of the list!    

They live far away and do their best to help us stay connected - FaceTime, photo streams and lots of call - and tickets to visit.   Lord knows I've blabbed on and on  here several times about my struggle be more gracious about dealing with grown children living far away.   It takes effort on every one's part to stay connected and I'm happy that they work hard to include us in their lives.

The Austin family, with baby James' little head barely peaking out of his wrap.


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