Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!!

I hope your Christmas is the lovely and joyful time that each of you deserves!  I am so blessed with such wonderful readers and I can't thank you all enough!
By the way, this sweet postcard was posted on Facebook by the lovely Joanne Livingston of DesertMountainBears.  Isn't it WONDERFUL!!  Santa as a pied piper!  She posted all sorts of great vintage postcards and generously shared them.  Thank you, Joanne!!
Have a happy Christmas!!
Heaps of Hugs,

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Bear

Introducing Isadora!  I'm still frantically working on an order of 5 bears for Silly Bears in January, but I was able to squeeze in this sweetie for one of my little sweeties. 
Our girls haven't received one of my bears in years even though they know that they can always ask for one for Christmas.  Well, this Christmas they both requested one!  I guess it was time!  They love the bears they have, but they are each of my "older" style and not my current chubby, childlike bears.  Thankfully they gave me plenty of time to prepare.  Our eldest chose hers on the drive home from TBAI this past August--her favorite bear didn't sell during the show so she didn't waste any time claiming him! 
However, our youngest was looking for something else.  So this past fall, I pulled out all sorts of mohair and faux furs and let her rummage through them until she settled on this lovely off-white Tyber faux fur.  Then I pulled out patterns and she decided she wanted one of my bigger bears--I don't make really, really big bears, 16-inches tends to be my largest and Isadora measures a respectable 15 1/2".  Each step of the way, I had her make the choices and also made sure she knew that if the bear didn't turn out the way she hoped it wasn't a problem and I would make another one until she loved one of them.  Thankfully, Isadora (named after Isadora Duncan, the dancer, of course!) turned out just as she hoped!  
So....no big surprises for our girls this Christmas, but as we all know, finding "your" bear is a very individual and lovely thing.
Happy Christmas!
Heaps of Hugs,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In the Christmas Spirit

I think I'm feeling pretty ready for Christmas.  How about you?  I hope you are enjoying your holiday preparations whatever holiday you celebrate.
Heaps of Hugs,

Friday, December 14, 2012

Front Cover Surprise!

We survived "The Adventures of Rudolph" ballet last week.  There were times I wasn't sure we would, but in the end it turned out to be an absolutely wonderful week.  In a few days I should be just about recovered from it, too!
One of the biggest surprises was that Claire was on the cover of our local paper's "Weekend" section!
The woman who organized the cover was sweet enough to send us a JPEG of it so that we can print out a copy and have it framed for Claire (apparently there is no way to protect newsprint from disintegrating).  Her first time as a "cover girl," as her ballet instructor puts it! 
It's also particularly exciting because it's the first time Matt has ever had his own photos on the cover in the newspaper.  My parents, mother-in-law, and I went to local grocery store and bought up SIXTEEN copies to send to family around the states.  SIXTEEN copies!  I thought we were mad!  And then by the time we had distributed all the copies and everyone had left, there were only a few copies left here for us and Claire.  I guess 16 copies wasn't so mad after all!
It was a fun week, but an amazingly stressful week.  I'm rather glad that it's all over.  However, Claire did an amazingly beautiful job as Witch Winter Gray and received rave reviews from all of her instructors.
Well, at least we have 9 1/2 months to recover before it all starts up again!
Heaps of Hugs,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Puppies

Everyone wishes they would get a puppy for Christmas, don't they?  Well, I know I would!

This year, I'm happy to say, that I'll be able to grant that wish to my two sweet nieces.  Merry Christmas, Emmy and Anna!  I can't wait to find out what they name these 9-inch cuties.
Heaps of Hugs,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gingerbread Ahoy!

As some of you may remember, one of our holiday traditions is visiting the local Gingerbread Gallery.  And this year, as usual, we were not disappointed by either the artistry or the amazing aroma.
This year we were greeted by a tall mast ship.

A lovely mill.

The North Pole. 

And of course, gingerbread houses.

However does one choose a favorite!  There were SO many beautiful creations to see--I wish my camera's batteries hadn't pooped out right in the middle of our tour so I could have shown you some more.  But at least you get the idea AND I still got photos of my absolute favorites this year.
Anyhoo, it was a difficult choice, but the spaghetti "rope," fondant "sails," and jumping dolphins clinched the deal for me--the ship got my vote!

I think in the end my family was split. Two votes for the ship and two votes for the lovely green gingerbread house!  And, of course, after smelling all of these sweet creations we got hungry.  So we left with two BIG gingerbread men to split between the four of us and savor with our mid-afternoon tea (although we just skipped the tea yesterday and enjoyed the gingerbread!).
Heaps of Hugs,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my friends in the US and everywhere else!  I'm so thankful to have you in my life.

Heaps of Hugs,

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I received a call from England yesterday evening.  Quite an unusual occurance in this house!  And it was Susan from the Excellence in Bear Artistry competition again!  She called me last summer to let me know that Thaddeus had won a Judges Choice Award, and NOW she was calling me to let me know that the voting was in and Thaddeus had won the People's Choice in his category, too!  Unbelievable!  I'm still absolutely flabbergasted and amazed!

If you want to see all the category winners check out the Excellence in Bear Artistry website by clicking HERE.

Heaps of Hugs,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Advance Planning--Perhaps a Bit TOO Advance!

So, Thanksgiving is less than a week away and I'm wondering if any of you are as goofy as I am.
Unlike the woman above, I'm basically finished with my Christmas shopping--just a few little stocking stuffers left.  Yes, you read that right.  It's crazy!  I even have most of the gifts for the girls' teachers taken care of (!).  Right after Halloween I start making sure I have all my ducks in a row.  AND if I don't have most of my shopping done by Thanksgiving, I start getting really nervous.  Silliness! 
But there you have it--it's the way I am and have been for years.  When I'm out and about visiting arts and crafts shows during the summer, I pick up gifts for my mom and mother-in-law.  I have a little stash in my closet.  So earlier this week I rummaged through what I had and chose what they will get for Christmas leaving the remaining items for birthdays and Mother's Day.  I wish I could say that I have a stash for my dad as well, but, alas, no.  He's a tricky one!
So next weekend, right after Thanksgiving, Matt will tote the boxes of Christmas decorations out of storage and the girls and I will spend a day decorating (after a day of cleaning first!).  It's hard to believe, but Christmas is just about here!
Heaps of Hugs,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rudolph is on His Way!

Well, I know Christmas is coming because the ballet, "The Adventures of Rudolph," is less than a month away!  I know it sounds like a corny ballet (well, at least that is what I thought when I first heard about it!). However, it truly is a lovely, lovely production with a wonderful story. No wonder it's been loved by so many generations here.
Yesterday, Matt did a photo shoot with all of the elves, Christmas dolls, and the two Rudolphs and two Witches to publicize this much-beloved annual Central New York event (alas, the soldiers and reindeer couldn't take part this year for the photos).  Of course he did a great job, so I had to show you some photos of our "Witch."

At the ripe old age of 14, Claire was cast in the leading and most difficult role of the ballet, Witch Winter Gray!  It's a role that is coveted by the high school seniors and only the most advanced juniors--we were really shocked when Claire got the part as a freshman in high school.  Her instructor, Ms. Deborah Boughton, takes pride that people who see this ballet often think a professional company came in to do it when it really is just the students from her studio.  She has incredibly high standands for the girls.  So...congratulations, Claire!!
I can't wait to see her dance December 5th through 8th.
Heaps of Hugs,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Votes for Women!

Our eldest daughter turned 18 late this September.  When we asked whether she was going to register to vote in this election, her initial response was, "I'm not sure."  Boy, did I have to hold my tongue and keep myself from jumping out of my seat!  Thankfully, she decided on her own to register and is now excited to vote for the first time today.  I think the two of us are going together this afternoon when she returns from her college classes.

I'm always surprised by some women's lack of enthusiasm about voting.  It's something we take for granted today.  But we, as women, only got the vote in the U.S. in 1920 and our fore-mothers had to work hard and long for that victory.  So, I try to make sure I remind myself and my daughters how important that victory was.  Some may disagree with what I'm about to say, but I'm going to put myself out on a limb.  I think, and my husband agrees and helps to teach this to the girls, that the vote is of critical importance to women because we, as women, are still not treated equally to men.  Unfortunately, there is still a long, hard road to be travelled until we get there.  But I'm willing to travel it!

Happy Election Day!
Heaps of Hugs,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Creative Times

You may not have seen it, but I have been keeping creative lately as our Halloween pumpkin testifies!  I wish I could take credit for the idea for this teddy bear pumpkin.  However, our youngest and I found this idea on Pinterest and decided that we HAD to try it.  Thankfully, it turned out pretty cute!

I also helped our youngest with her Halloween costume.  Unfortunately, my in-house photographer (aka, my husband) left his amazing camera next to the door.  BUT he did have his iPod with him so we have some quasi-photos of Claire as "Winter."  Four of the girls from her dance class dressed as the seasons and they looked quite lovely.  "Fall" was actually dressed in a lovely green print dress, but the iPod just couldn't handle the light.

It was QUITE a scream when their dance instructor turned up as "Lurch" from the "Addams Family."  I SO wish the iPod could have captured his white face, the hand in his pocket, and his crazy teeth! 

I'm also about finished with a secret project that I'll be able to reveal in a little over a month--just have one final touch to figure out!

And lastly, our girls have both requested bears for Christmas this year.  Our oldest has chosen hers, but I'm just finishing up our youngest's.  It's turning out very cute and I'll share it with you soon.  I just have to make her headband and shoes.

I know you've seen a lot of photos of our youngest and hardly any of our oldest.  She does exist--honestly!  I've been promised some photos of Corinne after Christmas when her fall term is finished.  I guess being a second-year engineering student doesn't lend itself to a lot of interesting photos to share with you!

Take good care of  yourself!!
Heaps of Hugs,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Advantages of a Dad Photographer

As some of you know, my husband, Matt, is a mechanical engineer by day and an occasional free-lance dance photographer on the weekends.  Well, one of our youngest daughter's perks is her "payment" for helping Matt out at these photo shoots.   She helps Matt quite a bit setting up the backgrounds and the lights, being a general "go-fer," and helping to suggest poses.  So when we know the person who has "booked Matt's services," so to speak, her bonus is getting a few photos of herself when the other person is changing or getting ready.

Here are a few we squeezed in at Matt's most recent shoot.


She's doing quite well.  But I'm not a proud parent!  ;-)

Heaps of Hugs,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Bears in All Their Glory

Well, my last post was just a tease, wasn't it?  So today I'll show you what my "Fall-la-la-la-la" show bears actually looked like. 


I was very lucky and they were all adopted quickly.  I suppose that may have something to do with not having any bears available online for over a year and a half (!!). Well, for the sake of my collectors, hopefully that shouldn't happen again.  In fact, if all goes as planned, I'm hoping to join another "Bear Hugs 4 U" show in March.




I know you've already seen Oakley as my show preview bear, but this photo just turned out so much better and more accurate that I thought I would show you him again.  :-)
Heaps of Hugs,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sneaky Peeks!!

The "Fall-la-la-la-la" show is just days away now!
My show page is just about finished.

I have boxes, packing materials, and tape.

And all of these little guys are itching to find new homes. 

Although I think you may have seen this fellow, Oakley, above in his preview photo for the show!
If you're interested, you can see the show at www.bearhugs4u.com .  It opens at 10:00 am (Eastern Daylight time) on this Friday, October 12th and goes through Sunday, October 14th until 8:00 pm.  Until that time, the website has all of the preview photos from the 50 participating artists.
Heaps of Hugs,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Perhaps there's a Reason that it's Called Magic Tape!

This guy looks like a pretty happy fellow now, doesn't he?  However, in my opinion at least, it wasn't always the case.  A little magic was necessary first!
This is how he looked after he was pretty much "finished."  (Though I still have to wax his nose.)

As you can see, his fur is all higgledy-piggledy.  Yes, that is a technical term!  For those uninitiated with my technical terms, his fur is all over the place and his seams are quite visible.  Sometimes no matter how carefully you lay out your pattern, the fur on the cut pieces will go "this way and that."
Now I was told that he looked cute this way, but I personally prefer a more finished look.  Every bear maker has their preferences and I want my bears to look like their fur grows just like a real bear's fur does.

So with my arsenal of "magic tape" (also known as "Scotch Tape") and a brush, I set to work.  Yes, I use a dog's brush that I bought specifically for the purpose of brushing my bears.

First I dampen the fur and try not to get the backing too wet--we don't want the fabric to stretch funny.  After combing the fur in the direction I want, I then lay piece after piece of tape gently on the fur to hold it in place.

Here he is above with his head "done."  But, as you can see, his body still needs some work.  After more water, more brushing, and LOTS more tape, here's a photo of him below as he waits to dry.  I generally do this procedure in the evening and let the bear sit overnight, or stand as the case may be, until I take off all of the tape.

After removing wads and wads of tape (perhaps I should invest in 3M?) and a quick comb-out, this little bear looks much happier, in my opinion.

I've started doing this technique on almost all of my bears now because I really like the result.  I can't remember where I learned about this, but I have a hunch that it's from Nancy Tillberg.  
This works wonderfully with natural fibers such as mohair and alpaca, however I would guess that it wouldn't work so well with synthetic furs.  I've found though that the nap of synthetic fibers tend to be more "in line" with the grain of the backing rather than on a diagonal as are many mohairs.  Therefore, I haven't felt compelled to try this on one of my Tissavel bears yet.
I suppose I'd better go wax this fellow's nose now.  I always wait to do the waxing until after I'm finished with the water--water spots on noses aren't a happy thing.
Take good care of yourself!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall-la-la-la Online Bear Show!

Meet Oakley!!  He's one of the bears I'll have available in the upcoming "Fall-la-la-la" show by "Bear Hugs 4 U."
You can see the preview bears by all of the talented artists by clicking HERE or visiting www.bearhugs4u.com directly.  The show opens on Friday, October 12th at 10:00 am and closes on Sunday, October 14th at 8:00 pm (Eastern Time Zone).
See you there!!
Heaps of Hugs,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Welcome Bunny Lu!

Well, I have a new addition to my home, but it's not a baby, it's a new little Singer Featherweight machine.  I'd like to introduce you to Bunny Lu (at least that's what I'm calling her right now--for absolutely unknown reasons!).
She's a sweet little machine that is in lovely shape and runs like a dream.  She also came with a myriad of attachments including three that I've been looking for for quite a while--a buttonholer, a zigzag attachment, and a walking foot.
I tried out the buttonholer over the weekend and was excitedly showing my family how wonderful it came out.  I was absolutely thrilled to pieces!  Although I think they might have thought that I fell off of my rocker a bit.  Now I don't have to go searching in the depths of our daughters' playroom closet looking for their sewing machine (a nice little portable Janome) and its buttonhole attachment.  I thought I was going to be driven to distraction last week trying to make a buttonhole and not being able to find the darned attachment!  Well now I won't have that problem ever again!

I have been hoping to find a sister for my dear little Annie Mae machine, because sometimes she gets a little tired and "hot under the collar" after I've been sewing for a long time.  I wanted to be able to give her a much deserved rest at these times, but I still wanted to be able to get some work done with another machine.
Well, last week one of my friends commented on Facebook about the above photo of me with sweet Annie Mae and put me in touch with her neighbor who was needing to sell a Featherweight.  And the rest, as they say, is history!  Dear Bunny Lu was welcomed into our home with open arms!
Thanks, Linda!!!
Heaps of Hugs,

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Award Arrived and Now It's Time to Vote!

And such a lovely award it is!
Thaddeus looks pretty pleased with it too, don't you think?!

I must admit that I have been really impressed with how the Excellence in Bear Artistry Awards have been run.  It has been a wonderful experience from start to finish!
So now it's YOUR turn!  You can vote for your favorite bears to help decide the People's Choice Award in this excellent competition.  Go to the link by clicking HERE and check out all of the amazing creations!
Take good care of yourself!

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Wonderful Surprise!

I'm just thrilled to pieces that I won a "2012 Excellence in Bear Artistry Award" for Thaddeus!!
This is a very prestigious award as the winners are chosen by four amazing bear artists from around the world.

I'll be honest and say that I only entered one category because I didn't think I had much chance of winning.  However, what is new and interesting about this competition is that the artist receives a critique of each bear entered.  THAT is why I entered!  I wanted the critique.  But now I have won as well and will be soon receiving a gorgeous crystal trophy!  Unbelievable!!
Heaps of Hugs,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

TBAI Here I Come!

Well, I'm all packed up and ready to go, but I still have to wait 2 more hours until I can be on the road.  So it seemed the perfect time to play around in Photoshop with some of my bears heading to TBAI.

Here's Thaddeus with the cutout filter.

And Averill with the colored pencil filter applied.

And my preview table set-up with the embossed filter.  (I always take a photo of my set-up with the bears in place because it makes setting up so much easier on the day of the show.)

And lastly, another shot of my table set-up this time wrapped in  plastic wrap.

Soon the wrap will be removed and the show will begin!!
Heaps of Hugs,