Thursday, January 29, 2015

Food, Flowers, and More

I've had the strangest thing happen in the last week--an orchid I've had in full bloom for nearly three months had some new buds open. Mind you these buds just appeared, much to my surprise. The orchid, given to me by our neighbor Terri, seems to like the spot on the trunk in the sunroom. For most of the year I have blinds pulled full time because the sun is so intense, in spite of the heavy duty new windows. Because it has been consistently chilly, I've had one of them open to warm up the room--perhaps that has something to do with it?
Incidentally, she re-gifted the orchid, claiming that she would kill it, however, in my experience if you just leave an orchid be, aside from perhaps a weekly watering, they are impossible to kill. Of course, being a vendor next to an orchid vendor for seven years probably taught me a thing or two, like, ignore them! One I bought from Jim and Kathy is in bloom outside.
It's a pretty little thing that is not nearly as long lasting as the one above. For Christmas I gave Bruce a little box of maple syrup samples in darling little bottles. There really is not nearly enough syrup in one of the bottles to use for pancakes, but they sure are cute. Too cute to throw away. I cut a few flowers from a garden plant to make something cheery.
Guess what? I discovered a very good use for the Night Vision setting I talked about in my last post. It turns out very contrasty black and whites in decent light!
Now that's exciting news. So, you see there is another orchid, gracing the kitchen on top of the microwave, given to me for Thanksgiving, from Pat and Ruth. It pretty much looks the same as the day they gave it to me. And now you know why people buy orchids--the blooms last forever!

In more super good news, David, the upholstery guy, delivered the chair already!!
Baxter is even happier than I am because this is his nighttime bed. He is not permitted in our bed, however, we will be watching Max tomorrow night, and he's impossible to keep off our bed. Anyway, the first night the chair was gone, Baxter did not know what to do with himself, so he whined, waking Bruce up several times. You would think we had a child again.....

As to the food promised in my title, here's the muffin made with the grated apple. The lovely Tiffany cup is from Dave and Michelle.
Pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon on the top--oh my!

Speaking of gifts from Dave and Michelle, more than a year ago they gave us a very generous gift card to The Ravenous Pig, a highly rated restaurant in Winter Park. Well, we did not use all of the allotted funds, and because we've not tried the owners other restaurant, we decided to use it there one day. Well, Tuesday morning, being optimistic about his work load, Bruce suggested we go to Cask and Larder for dinner. Sure honey. Except, he is just busy as a beaver, and time got away from him. I asked if he wanted me to cook, because I'm always up for cooking, however, he said no, let's go somewhere nearby. Rejecting all of his suggestions, I finally agreed when he asked about Le Coq au Vin, just up the street. As in, we could walk there. One of the very best restaurants in town, within walking distance of our home, and you know how many times we've been there? TWICE, including Tuesday night. The food was scrumptious! This is a stack of fried green tomatoes with crab layered in between.
The little chopped bits are mango. My French onion soup was to die for!
We may not be able to make a habit of it because it is not inexpensive, but surely we can do better than once every nine years or so! My fault entirely. :)

In an effort to clear off my work table, I finished the dress with the retro fabric,
and I began playing with stamps. Stamp collecting is obviously not the hobby it once was, and partly that may because they are no longer engraved. This article from the Washington Post explains why that is so. Because Bruce's collection stopped around the time that stamps were changing, he has quite a few engraved ones that are really remarkable in their artistry, and what you can learn about history. I spent some time this morning learning who, Gallatin, whose face graced a stamp worth 1 1/4 cent, was. To say that he made important contributions to our nation's history is an understatement. Then too, I love to mix the past and present.
Sitting in the sunroom to take advantage of the warm afternoon sunlight, I began covering a little thrift store vase with stamps, choosing ones that were not only pretty, but held some meaning to our lives. Texas--yes! Apprenticeship program--yes! Winston Churchill--affirmative, and the list goes on. My plan is to cover the bottom of a tray with them, but I wanted to see how it would work out in a small scale. I like it.
Gosh, this post looks like a home tour...

Have you noticed the days getting longer, or should I say the evenings? Wonderful for us, and even more wonderful for our loved ones in the UK who've had to withstand daylight ending by 4:30 in the afternoon. Hooray for the coming of spring, at least in Florida.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Comings and Goings

I've been a little pre-occupied of late, and you'll never guess why.

Well, maybe you will if you use your imagination. Home improvement projects! Surprise, surprise.

That said, I have managed to take a few photographs, including this one of Bruce at his desk. I used a setting on the camera called Night Vision, which is anyone's guess what it's intended us is. I know it didn't work worth a darn outside; the pictures I took of the starry night sky were rubbish!
I do love how he is reflected in both the window, and the artwork glass. There are lots of settings on the camera I never use, but I probably should. The engineers who dream these things up are way smarter than I am, so there must be some worthwhile use.

We've had a mixed bag in the weather department. One night the wind was blowing so hard it woke us up. Not to mention the rain coming in through the open window above our bed. That day dawned gray and gloomy, although using the "dawn" setting on the camera, it looks more blue than gray.
One of the projects I've been working on is new paint color for the door. I know, I know, it's only been six months since I painted it electric blue, but the truth is, what looked good on a garden bench, does not look so good on three doors. Still pondering where I go from here.

Then too, I'm having some reupholstering done. Years and years have passed since last I had the chair in our bedroom done, so that is one thing. My friends at Something Different gave me the name of a new upholsterer who is super good and speedy. Moonlight Hospitality Services if you are in need of such work. You may recall that when I've had chairs done in the past,  I've waited a month, to six weeks, however, that is not going to be the case this time. He picked the chair up on Saturday afternoon, and I got a text showing the nearly completed chair on Monday afternoon! So, I've been out looking for fabric multiple times, sometimes with Cheryle in tow, another time with Bruce. It is a good thing gas is incredibly inexpensive right now as I've been from one side of the city to the other at least twice. Can any of us believe this sign?
I wanted to make sure I included this somewhere in my blog, as you and I both know, there will be a time come when this will be just a distant, albeit good, memory! Sorry for the steering wheel in the picture--took it while I was at a stoplight!

Most recently, as in yesterday, I finally found some fabric I think will look good on the sofas which are having a much needed refresh. I'm guessing it was 15 or so years ago that we ordered two sofas from Scan Design. While I was at work they were delivered, and I couldn't wait to get home to see them. Except, seeing them in person, I was not in the least excited. Don't get me wrong, they have been very comfortable, which is really paramount, however, I've never like the color one bit. And now I'm finally having them changed.
I toyed with getting some orange fabric, however, I reigned myself in, getting something more neutral. We shall see...

The market was beautiful on Sunday with gobs of folks, and happily for me, buyers. Going over his spreadsheet, which includes years of sales, B told me it was in the top five! He's been so busy with the actual construction of his project starting last week, that he's had little time to make new frames, however, after selling four of them on Sunday, he managed to find some.
When people ask me if I'll take less, my answer is no--there is too much work involved in making the frames, not to mention about three painting steps.

One reason the day was so great is the weather was cold, but sunny. With the sides up to block the wind, and a portable heater, I was just perfect.
Early on, after I took the photo above, I walked to the restroom, and the shadow from this tree captivated me.
Have you ever grated an apple for a recipe? I hadn't until yesterday morning when I was making some apple muffins. It worked beautifully.
I'm sad to say that there have been no painted bunting sightings around here, however, the cardinals continue to be plentiful. Momma doesn't get the attention she deserves...
This is where she perches while waiting for Papa to eat. I'm confidant there are several pairs, one of the males is thinner than the other. Here's the little fattie....so red and beautiful!
Another beautiful, chilly day today--time to do a little more coming and going.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Google Search

The other day I did a Google search of my name, plus photography. Did it ever turn up some surprises, including, but not limited to, that one of my pieces may be purchased from WalMart, of all things.

Ebay--check.

Wayfair--check.

AllPosters--check. (multiple foreign versions too!)

Art.com--check.

Overstock.com--check.

Amazon--check.

Wonder how that happened? Wonder no more. In a word--SunDance.

Here's how it works...I send them images, maybe something like this:
Depending on whether they think they have a market for it, they either print it, market it, or shelve it for later use. They know their audience, many times choosing things I would probably never be able to sell myself. Or, maybe I'm wrong, maybe they are a better judge of what the public wants? The photo I linked to above, on the Wayfair website, is one I took on my way to Groveland while looking for black bamboo to plant in our yard. I never did get the bamboo, however, I did get the shot over Lake Minnehaha in Clermont!

One of the reasons SunDance likes me is because I keep shooting, which makes us a perfect fit for one another.
So, now you may be wondering more about how things appear on various websites, and in stores. I'll tell you what I know. Not too unlike me, SunDance sets up a booth at trade shows! There are big ones on either side of the country, New York and Los Angeles, or so I think, where buyers peruse the booths set up by art publishers, looking for the next big thing. SunDance has 80 artists now, so what I think they do is print something showing their work, as well as have more to show on an iPad. I'm pretty sure that is where they met the Hobby Lobby folks. Then too, they establish relationships with clients such as the folks at Kirklands who have purchased two different images of mine.

About two weeks ago, I got an email from Sarah, one of the owners of SunDance, who you may recall handed me that amazing check back in September.  She told me that a client was purchasing an image, (at one of the trade shows), and they wondered if I could "brighten up" my bio because they include that with the image. I did my best, however, when you are completely self taught, there really isn't all that much to say!

There is both a wall art division, and what they call licensing, which is when artwork is purchased for products. Just yesterday I got my monthly check, and under the licensing portion, I saw sales for a trunk. Don't know who, or where, that went, but I do find it interesting. Generally the licensing images are sold to manufacturers of things like shower curtains, apparently trunks, lamps and the like. Once SunDance gets paid, I get paid--10%.

More often than not, what they sell, and what I sell, are not one and the same, however, they have had success with the VW van that I shot in this very location, during my morning bike ride a few days after Christmas two years ago.
I've never seen that van again, although I'd like to. Speaking of vans, Friday morning, I drove through a neighborhood that I'd ignored forever. Much to my surprise I came across two vans on adjacent streets. I LOVE how the van matches the house!
Although I knocked on the red door above, and the green one below,
no one was home, either place. I wanted to get permission to shoot a little closer. Both of them are fun, but I think I'm most partial to the red one. :)

I came across this neighborhood on my way home from RT-Art, my longtime printers.  If you've been reading for very long you know that R stands for Roger, and T for Trish. These days Roger doesn't spend much time with the business, whereas Trish has taken on a bigger role since they moved into their new space.
Which, btw, they are filling up at an alarming rate. Roger is a master at storage solutions.
That bubble wrap is really something isn't it? The printer below is a new one. When I began with Roger, they counted about 15 artists who used them regularly. Well, these days, get this--they have nearly 800 artists on their books!!! Talk about growing a business! The couple sitting across the desk from Trish are new folks looking for a printer. They need look no further as RT-Art is the best!

Now you know how I make money from my photography. Any more questions?

Pretty soon this blog may need to change it's name to something like Skywatch, as, lately, I seem to be posting a lot that would fit that title nicely. I love how after a mostly gray day, the sun may finally come out just before sunset and the sky turns a lovely shade of navy blue. Looking out my east facing front door, the sky gets all dramatic.
The magnolias are blooming!! The morning sky is a much paler shade of blue.
As you can imagine, one of the reasons that I love having SunDance on my team is that I don't have to do much myself, other than provide the image. What is not to like about that? Don't get me wrong, I'm not really the lazy type, however, it is 43 degrees right now, and it is Sunday, so time to bundle up, and get out there to my own booth and see what the day brings.

That Google search--wow--never in my wildest imaginings could I have seen anything like this coming when Bruce convinced me that I could do something with my photography......

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Blog

Just yesterday, while talking to Nancy, she made a reference to "the blog." Not Camera Crazy, not your blog, but "the blog." I've found that she is not the only one who calls it that, which I find very amusing--as if it has taken on a life of it's own. Perhaps that is true? 

By the time this is published, the number of page views will most likely exceed 100,000 which is quite a milestone for me. Of course, it has taken nearly eight years to get there, but, really, who's counting? Well, Google is, that is who.
For most of the years I've been writing, I was not aware of this feature, but now that I am, I can't get enough of it. Not so much the numbers, but what posts people click on years after the fact. I'll read the titles, under posts, in the above screen shot, and wonder to myself, "what was that post about?" Then, if I have time, I'll go back and see what, say, "A Dying Mall and Katy Perry too!" was all about. I have to admit, it is a fun way to keep track of one's life.

I suppose it is the images that people are searching for, using the tags I put on the bottom of each post. Matt taught me how to do that. Thus, the map shows you where people are from who come across my blog. The truth is, Matt taught me how to do most of what I know about blogging. He, I'm pretty confidant, probably never imagined I would keep going for so long. Sometimes, neither can I, however, writing was always my first passion, and now that I've found a platform, I can't really imagine not doing it.

Count me a happy girl--a roasting pan I purchased at Marshalls did not fit my oven, so that part was not great, however, returning it the store on Colonial, I found my favorite TEA!
I adore this tea, so much so, I once purchased a huge quantity from Amazon, however, it took so long to use it, the freshness diminished. Generally I do purchase this at TJMaxx, or Marshalls, one and the same company btw, but for months and months now, there were no boxes on the shelves. I've tried other tea, but none compare to my taste buds. The good news is, they not only had this box of 40, but another one with 80 bags!! This morning my "cuppa" was more to my liking.

The fellow at the clock repair store is going to think I'm plum crazy, or vice-versa! Once again, I went back with not only my beautiful wall clock that had stopped working, but this cute clock on my dresser.
Matt gave me this clock, I don't know how many years ago, and I love it. The sweeping second hand, the tilt of the frame, and the Roman Numerals. Except, every now and again, it starts buzzing very loudly. This is a new phenomenon, and one that might not be easily tolerated, except, every now and again, it decides to begin buzzing during the dead of night, as in, when we are sound asleep. Quite loud, the sound never fails to wake us up. His advice for the buzzing? Beat on it. Turns out it would cost $125 to repair, at the least, which is more than the clock is worth. As to the wall clock? You may recall that the last time I went there he pointed out that the battery was inserted incorrectly. Well, duh? I can fix that. Except, that fix did not last. I put in a fresh battery, but within the month, it stopped again. He took one look at it, saying there is corrosion, just wipe it off. Okay, I can do that. The verdict? It still is not working. Maybe tens years of service is enough? Haven't decided yet. The beating I gave the little clock seems to have done the trick for the moment.

I've got a bit of a dilemma that I'm looking for input. Rarely does a Sunday pass when a potential customer asks me if I have anything to go with a print, or canvas, I'm displaying. Below is the latest example.
This one was taken during our overnight stay in Daytona Beach to celebrate our 40th anniversary! Okay, so I say to the fellow, I'll look through my photos and see what I might have to coordinate with this image. And, that's what I do, spending an hour or two going through the multitudes. I put a web album together, and send it on its way. And then, nothing. Not a word. Eventually, after four or so days, I send an email stating that it is okay if nothing suits them, however, confirmation of receipt of the album would be appreciated. Several days pass before a response comes that they have decided to look elsewhere. The last part is fine, the first part not so much. Isn't it just plain common courtesy to respond to someone's effort? Is there another way to deal with this as in "Sorry, I've nothing to coordinate"? Any ideas?

Oh those cabinets, the treasures they hold! During last week's clean out, I came across this photo of myself, and Peggy Batchelor, the sister of Nancy's first husband, and father of our nieces, Laura and Sara.
I have no clue why I have an 8x10 print of the two of us, but I'm glad that I do. When we moved to Melbourne, following the 10th grade, I went to Melbourne High School, more commonly known as Mel Hi, a name I thought was atrocious. Big city girl that I was. Or snob, one of the two. Anyway, while there I made about one friend--Peggy. Gosh I liked her so much. Upon graduation I left Melbourne as quick as I could to return to Orlando and Bruce and never looked back.
Through the miracle of facebook, she found me, becoming a pretty regular reader of this space.

The blog---thank you dear readers.
Gail

Monday, January 19, 2015

It Was a Good Day for Cleaning Gutters

Saturday. A lovely day! What began as a chilly morning evolved into a warm one as the day wore on. Both Bruce and I started our outdoor chores wearing sweatshirts, however, by the time we finished, we were down to short sleeves and shorts. And I complain about our weather? Shame on me.

It is a well established fact that winter sunsets are the best. Why this is so, I don't know, but unless the day is gray and gloomy, most nights we get a very nice show. Looking down our street toward the lake.
Last week when we were sorting through Bruce's stamp collection we came across two newspaper clippings which are very entertaining...cascading male manes! When was the last you heard that phrase?


Here's another one:
You can just barely see the date on the second one--1972, a year in which Mr. Peck still was sporting some pretty long locks. Because one of these is from, what I think is a Tampa newspaper, we are presuming that his Mom must have sent these from when they lived in Clearwater, no doubt, hoping to get her son to cut his hair!! With the ongoing beard craze, I suspect there are some Moms out there so wishing their sons would trim those crazy long beards. As to how long the current craze will continue, is anyone's guess, however, one thing we do know is that it will eventually be a thing of the past. (please note the reference to Afros in clipping #2!)

Eventually Bruce cut his hair, but not without some grumbling. :)

What would a post on Camera Crazy be without a bird photo?
I'm pretty confidant this is a mockingbird who stayed in the tree for quite some time. Notice the little buds? Well, here's what that tree looks like today:
Gray sky? Blue sky? You know which one is my favorite!

The market was nice on Sunday, albeit a little chilly. So many folks came to see, and be seen.
It was super nice to be busy, rather than sitting reading a book. When my tent was empty, which, thankfully, was not too often, I worked on the Sunday newspaper crossword puzzle, a good way to pass the time. Talk about busy--all of our food vendors ran out of food! Nice for them. 
People of all ages were out enjoying a lovely weekend day. 

Oops, here comes more birds!! This time the little finches have returned.
As have the blooming Tabebuia trees!
This is not my tree, but any day now, I'll have this to enjoy in our yard. 

When I've not been cleaning gutters, scrubbing the fascia boards with bleach, or selling photography, I've been doing a little sewing. 
I laid out the pattern pieces on some of my sweet estate sale fabric, however,  it took me several days before I could actually cut it. Once cut, it would be a done deal. Making sure the fabric works with a pattern is part of the process. Eventually I went for it...
It is nearly done, aside from the armholes. The sunny yellow band on the bottom makes me happy. I have very few yellow clothes, and I don't really know why. Perhaps they don't make them?

Speaking of bright colors, Maureen called the other day to tell me the name of that spectacular orange vine I showed in this post. Mexican flame vine is what she said, and I've no reason to doubt her as she knows her plants!

We've had a very nice hiatus from Bruce traveling so much, however, that is all changing this week as he'll be gone for three days. Super cold there too, or at least it is to this wimp. He never complains, saying the travel part is the easiest part of his job. That tells you something doesn't it?


Friday, January 16, 2015

Basking in the Sunshine!

As you are well aware, I've been bemoaning the weather on a nearly daily basis. Getting sick of it are you? Especially nervy when I live in Florida!

Sorry friends, but I will undoubtedly keep it up. All week long it is has been gloomy. While eating breakfast in the sunroom, which, we've already established has been sorely lacking in sun, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of...
by golly, the beginnings of a blue sky!!! The good news is that it kept getting better and better until, at this very moment, there is not a cloud anywhere to be found. Oh happy day!!

On another good news front, I spent my gift card at WS. It wasn't easy because I have nearly everything a home cook could want, but I managed to do it.
I've yet to try the fancy new rolling pin, but what I have used is the Le Creuset loaf pan. Because I was dying to do so, as in immediately, I went hunting for a recipe using the blueberries I had in the fridge. Well, did I ever find a good one, that I halved.
When it came out of the oven, I knew we had a winner. You know why I thought so? I could see blueberries, that is why. If you've ever baked with blueberries, you will understand the previous, if not, I'll fill you in. Generally blueberries sink to the bottom. I've read countless tricks on how to prevent that, from freezing the blueberries first, to coating them with flour. WELL, in this recipe, and I don't know if that is why they did not, but, you cut the butter into the flour, as if you were making a pie crust. After doing so, you mix the wet ingredients, including the blueberries, dump them into the dry, and quickly mix with a wooden spoon. In my case, I used one of the new ones. As an aside, it was not that I did not have my fair share of wooden spoons, however, they were not nearly as sturdy, so they have found their way into the trash bin.

After an overnight cooling, we could not wait to try it. Do you see what I see in the photo below?
Taking it to Bruce, I was like..."honey, doesn't that look like a little face?" Anyway, scrumptious and easy.

Before the bread went into the oven, I made a Chili Relleno casserole using par boiled Poblano Peppers.
You mix up some eggs, flour, a few spices and pour it over, bake for only about 15 minutes, and then top with MORE cheese. Super good and quick.

Saturday, we went looking for a table to replace this one.
The table is nice enough, however, it is not really our style. We used it because, after receiving it from Bruce's Mom's estate, it seemed like the right thing to do. Now we are ready to move on. Except, all of our usual haunts for something more mid-century had nothing in stock. Before heading home we stopped and had lunch at a new place, or at least it is new to us.
I'm unclear how they came up with the name, "The Porch", because really there is not a porch to be found, but so be it. Talking to Bev yesterday, she mentioned that it is wildly popular and hard to get a table; I guess we got lucky. One thing we had, and I still can't believe how much I liked it, was a dish with brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Sporting some clever name, one, I of course can't remember, it was delicious!

This afternoon, now that the sun is shining, I need to go look at this scene again on my bike. The day I took it was foggy, gloomy, and gross. This time of year, these orange blooms can be found all over the place, although this house has maybe more than its fair share?
Pretty impressive, isn't it?

Before we leave the subject of food, last night, when Bruce got home from Virginia we had lunch for dinner. Grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup from the can. While we were eating, I asked him if he could imagine that there are whole restaurants devoted to grilled cheese? He could hardly believe that was true until I got out the trusty iPad for a Google search, finding multiple entries. Amazing isn't it?

Did I ever show you the project I worked on using some of my estate sale fabrics?
Well, I can't seem to find a photo of the finished quilt, but I combined these strips with white, finishing the edges of the quilt with the tiny green and white polka dot fabric. The back was white with tiny green polka dots. The occasion? Nadia, Tom's best friend has a new baby, Rose. I actually finished it up in time for them to transport back to England in their luggage, which is always a blessing as postage astronomical! If you are surprised that I can't find the photo--don't be. With a library like mine, anything is possible.

Digging through my fabrics I've been very interested to learn about the mills that made them back in the day. One fabric is from Klopman Mills, which was acquired by Burlington after WWII. I don't know if they were still using their name on the fabrics, but I have about 3 yards of Klopman fabric.
Here is an ad, run in 1964, advertising Klopman fabric, so maybe that means they did. My piece, although undated, seems to be from a similar time frame as another one she bought in Georgia in 1968. Not only are the fabrics themselves interesting, but the stories that go with them are equally so. Oh my!

Enough desk time for me.....out to bask in some of this rare sunshine!!

You Just Never Know