Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Saturday, September 29, 2012


The past few weeks' blog posts have been a bit thin, and I do apologize.  I did consider doing one on my home-away-from-home, a.k.a. the Boise Airport yesterday, as I got bumped off of one stand-by flight after another, for one unusual reason after another.  However, since I don't carry a laptop, there wasn't any way I could share with you the photos of my nest in a big sectional sofa in the lounge, or the myriad brightly colored kitchens that surrounded me with "almost-food" of every possible variety.  It woulda just sounded whiny, anyway.  Thus, September goes out with a bit of a whimper here on the blog.  I'll try to get back on track in October.  There are lots of nice jobs on my calendar, and lots of my own pretty projects to fill my "free" time too, so plenty to photo and write about here.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I'll catch you Monday night.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mamacita!

I'm taking a week's vacation to spend some time with my folks, and in fact we're celebrating my mama's birthday today.  So far on this trip, I've attended a Salt Lick Art Auction, where the used salt licks are auctioned for big bucks to support research on Parkinson's Disease, eaten fabulous food at my cousin's restaurant, made and canned pear sauce and pear nectar, and I am supposed to be picking raspberries right now, but like any kid, I've of course snuck back in, and am fooling around on the computer.  :)  I'll tell you all about it Friday morning.  For now, if you wanna know where I get my goofball sense of humor, cooking skills, and d-i-y fearlessness, meet my folks:

Inspiration: Ramon and Carolyn Lara 
 (click here)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

After what must be one of the longest drum rolls in Minnesota history...


I present you with:

365 Being,
Savoring a Life of Abundance, Joy and Beauty

"Three sixty-five Being" is a quarterly bookazine published by myself and Cathy Isles.  I could write more here, but we explain it all on the website  365being.com (designed by the insanely talented Shannon Barnes, featured on this blog sometime very soon).  Pop on over there, where you can read all about it, and how to get your copy of our premier "sampler" issue, a thinner version of the overflowing bookazines to come.

I am so incredibly grateful to Cat for tending to all the business of this.  She is deferring all the credit for the beauty of this first issue to me, but half the credit is hers.  Yes, I did much of the layout and a lot of the writing, but without her to run the business part of things this would still be one of those delicious ideas I daydream about in the shower.  Thanks to her, I'm too busy living the dream these days to run my water bill up that way.

I'm also incredibly grateful to all of you who read this blog.  Your comments and emails gave me the confidence to pursue this writing thing, so you're a big part of this adventure too.  The journey thus far has been slow and steady, but now comes the commitment to publish not just one book, but four. 

Every year. 

Starting NOW! 

(talk about acceleration)

Grab your hats, Dearhearts!  We're off!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Back to the drawing board...

Good old fashioned tech support.

Well, it's 11:00 p.m., and after an evening of wrestling with reducing photo files for pdf downloads, I'm just standing here at the computer, getting ready to type this blog post.  Standing?  Yup.  All this blogging, on top of all the writing, editing, designing and general business of the new Bookazine (which I think will finally debut this Friday), has been killing my ankle.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I have one ankle that, when forced to sit still at this computer for long stretches, gets puffy and tender.  All day up and down ladders, no problem, but 45 minutes on my butt, and the beastly little joint is screaming.  All day yesterday, up and down the stairs with large chunks of heavy furniture, and my ankle is quite happy...even if my back isn't.

There's been a good bit of press about the health risks of spending too much time sitting down all day at work.  Beyond the pain in the ankle and the flattening of my butt, apparently I'm supposed to be concerned that it's bad for my heart.  I don't think they are referring to the lack of love transpiring between myself and this cranky old computer, either.  Scientists say even office workers need to work standing up, and they've invented fancy new ergonomically correct desks and lifts, just for that purpose.  Of course, I had my own slightly more economical solution, and no, nothing cobbled from salvaged bedposts and upside down end tables, either, for a change.

I've been using my antique drafting table in the art studio just as a flat work surface, at standard height.  Not only was it not being used for its tilting or adjustable height features, it was eating up a lot of real estate, since nothing could be stored below it.  But it was too lovely a thing to let go of, so I made it work.  Until I needed my computer keyboard at waist height.  Of course, moving one table started a sort-of domino effect, and thus began the semi-annual upstairs/downstairs/way downstairs (thank God I don't store furniture in the attic!) rotation of large and unwieldy objects.

Aside from a slightly tender back, I now have a waist high drafting table in my office, holding computer, keyboard and phone rather than t-square and triangles.  I have a displaced chaise lounge blocking the hallway, awaiting it's place in a corner of the dance studio, which is currently occupied by a pretty but non-functional antique settee that I can't bear to part with.  I have a new work surface in the art studio twice the size of the drafting table, supported by a pair of bookshelves, and with room for even more storage.  And best of all, as I stand here typing, I have one very happy little ankle, giving me no trouble at all.  I'm sure my heart is safer, too, since I'm in love with the new arrangement.

Good thing it's all mostly back in place, 'cause I have a whole buncha projects and samples to be doing on the new and bigger art table, and though the Friday debut of 365 Being cannot be absolutely guaranteed, one thing is certain:  Time to get back to the drawing board, and start putting together the second issue!  :)))

Check back Friday, when HOPEFULLY we'll be launching!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A lovely Scottish dish...

Last Saturday, to celebrate completion of the first issue of 365 Being, and my first day off since I don't know when, I went to the Renaissance Festival.  I had especially wanted to go for this particular weekend, because it was Highland Games weekend, complete with kilt competition.  Being a Lewis descendant, I take my kilt inspecting duties seriously.  While an adorable tow-headed toddler in Royal Stewart stole the show, several others made a fair showing for themselves, these two among them...
Who won the vote by applause?  Modern cool or the whole nine yards?  Funny enough,the lovely laddie on the left won a t-shirt for third place, but top honors went to a woman in traditional dress who danced, and a ten year old boy in black watch.  Take heed advertisers, your public is not as dumb as you think.  Of course, we see who's picture I got. 
Most of the week has been taken up with trips back and forth to the printer, or to Cat's computer to fix minor flaws with the bookazine.  We also planned most of the winter issue, and I can't wait to get started on that.  Starting is always fun.  Can't say I'm as excited about the finishing part that follows, but I'm sure it will be easier than this first issue...right?

I do actually still decorate homes for a living, despite not showing an awful lot of that on here, lately.  I even spent much of today working on small studio projects and samples for upcoming jobs, but nothing nearly so photogenic as tartans, so I'll not even bore you with snapshots.  If you're going to eat dessert first, why spoil the decadence by following up with dinner?

Monday, September 10, 2012

My grandma knew what she was doing.

I'm kind of an old-fashioned gal.  Not in a fussy, prim or prude sense.  Certainly not in a women belong at home ironing their husbands' hankies sense.  But in a sensible, practical, creative, hand-made life sense.  These days it's referred to as being green, eco-aware, or crunchy (as in granola).  In my grandmother's day, it was called thrifty, wise, and just how things are done.  Here are some of my favorite old-fashioned things:

Kitchen essentials at Belle Ami. 
Cloth napkins.  Always, but especially nice if you are serving rotisserie chicken without forks.  On laundry day, I have to check my van for the ones that went out the door wrapped around my usual peanut butter and honey sandwich, eaten on the fly.  Cat, my partner in the bookazine, loves to fold them, so I try to leave this for her to do, when we meet at my house.  Nice of me, huh?

Pocket door tracks do double duty around here!
Hanging my laundry to dry.  Always.  Best thing to happen to my gas bill was for the dryer belt to break when my money was tied up and not available for calling in the repair service.  No outside line?  Me neither, since a neighboring business creates too much grain dust.  If the basement is smelling too damp to hang things on lines down there, I put everything on hangers and hang those in the track of my pocket doors, before I go to bed.  If I didn't have pocket doors, I'd put dowel rods in a few less-used doorways.  It takes a few minutes more, but I figure it balances out to about $20/hour, with the savings I pocket.

Vintage charm:  1940's wall paper still lines the cupboard behind 60's and 70's glass cocktail plates.
China or glass plates and real silver for parties.  Never disposable anything.  Glass cocktail plates can be picked up for a song at yard sales, and just a little more at thrift stores.  They look great in any season, and paired with mismatched vintage silver from the same sources, they're far more charming, not to mention sturdy, than paper plates and plastic forks.  If you like tea cups and flowers, collect mismatched china instead.  Or, if you don't mind having only one cupboard for food, collect both...in quantity.  Yes, Papa, I do believe food does taste better on a color-coordinated plate.

Not only does it house napkins, rolling pin and floral arranging supplies, this multi-purpose dresser holds a tray to catch keys and pocket clutter, keeping them off of the table.
Dressers in every room.  Antique and vintage ones, made from real wood.  Need a place to store those cloth napkins?  A shallow dresser in the walkway leading to the kitchen holds 'em.  Someplace to put croquet mallets and badminton rackets and the extra dog dishes?  Stow them in a brightly painted dresser on the porch.  Office supplies?  Board games?  Art materials?  More art materials?  The other art materials?  You get the idea.  The only place I don't use one?  My bedroom.  I built custom shelving in the closet that works better for clothes.

Fairly-fast food.  Homemade soup can happen in little more than thirty minutes.
 Homemade soup.  Tonight's started with a surplus of tomatoes and zucchini, simmered with some miso, onion, garlic, bell pepper, olives, butter beans, diced potato, and all the slightly limp celery from accidentally turning the fridge too cold.  A handful of basil, and the left-over pasta sauce, and it's Italian veggie soup.  Next week, pork and sweet potato.  Fast, easy, and sooooo good.

Sure, being an old-fashioned gal sometimes takes a little more time and effort, but I think it's a trade-off.  I don't spend my time rushing to the store to buy convenience items.  I don't need to shave minutes from my schedule by eating packaged food so that I can race to the gym right after picking up a prescription for digestive aids.  I'm not working extra hours to pay for utilities to fuel my conveniences, or for furniture that will fall apart before it's paid off.  Such old fashioned ideas might not be right for everyone, but the charm factor they add to Belle Ami is appreciated by the friends who gravitate here, and I know most of them are making similar changes to their own lifestyles. 

Eco-chic.  Gran was ahead of her time.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Well, alrighty then...

It's Friday morning, and as I was logging on to check all things online, I realized something.  Yesterday was Thursday.

I blog on Thursdays.  Have done every Thursday for a couple of years. 

Except last night.


Apparently after a solid month of computer work - editing, proofing, and fixing magazine pages - on top of my regularly scheduled wall work, I am in need of a few days off.  My soul knows it, even if my brain is chattering away, organizing, planning, designing, listing, re-listing, re-listing, re-listing, re-listing...

Apparently, my soul knows where the override switch is.

I'll be back Monday, splashin' happy on something.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Crazy Good

Way back in March, my friend Cat Isles and I decided to turn a series of books that we were shopping to publishers into a self-published magazine, instead.  It seemed a good idea at the time.  Many months, and many, many, many hours of writing and design later (not to mention all of Cat's additional work on the business end of things), the idea seems...
insane? Nope.  Well, okay, that depends on perspective.
grandiose? So?
impossible? Hardly
unwise? See grandiose.
too big? too hard? too expensive? too...

much fun for words!!!
 (and kinda exhausting, but in a good way)

I promised you a preview tonight, and I'm doing my best to keep my word, but there's a small glitch with that.  I can't load a newer graphics program onto my old computer, so I've done all the final design on Cat's.  I do save everything to a handy little gadget that I'm fairly certain is called a flash drive (yes, this from the person in charge of graphic design [insert sheepish smiley face here]), but the gadget is not in my pocket.  I know, because I just ran down and pulled my jeans back out of the washer in mid-cycle, and it's definitely not there.

This means my auxiliary brain is stuck to Cat's computer.  My actual brain seems to have been left there, too.  No matter.  It will all be there in the morning, when I go back to do a final proof.  Nope, didn't quite get it out on the blue moon as hoped (sigh).  I do have most of the photos on my computer, however, so here's a shot of the cover in progress:

365 Being cover in the raw.  Can't wait to show you the final lettered version!

The original plan was to use a watercolor-tinted pen and ink drawing, and I had nearly finished that when I realized it really didn't coordinate with how the inside of the bookazine had come together.  I needed the heron to be painted more in the style of my murals.  Frighteningly, I actually considered painting it as a mural, just for this shot. 

Yes, two weeks past our target date for completion, and a week before our self-imposed absolute deadline for delivering to the printer, and I was planning to spend a night painting a mural.  This is what deadline pressure does to my artist brain.  Turns me into a raving perfectionistic lunatic.  Fortunately, my inner 3-year-old kicked up a fuss at the thought of losing a full night of sleep, so sanity prevailed, and I got out a nice piece of poster board.

It's been a minefield around Belle Ami lately!  Shooting many of the backgrounds for the pages involved creating temporary collages atop sample boards, laid on the floor in the best lit locations.  In my home, those are the doorways between rooms.  of course, I didn't want to move anything until I tested the photos with the words.  Obviously, no pets or kids in this house!

As a bookazine, 365 Being doesn't look like a regular magazine.  Aside from the lack of advertising, there's also a lack of white pages.  You see, each issue will be done in a style inspired by the artists featured within.  This time, we kept it simple, and used my art (our other featured artists in this issue are British filmmakers, so it was a little hard to use their style), and in case you don't know this about me (you're new here, huh?), I don't paint white walls.  The page backgrounds are all shot from my samples, or from actual walls I've done, layered up with bits and trinkets to illustrate the stories.  I'm kinda waiting to hear if the printers up the price when they see how much ink they're going to be using!

Our website should go live any day, and as soon as it does, single issues and subscriptions will be available.   As a lover of real books, of course I think it is worth buying the print version, but it will be available in PDF as well.  So, just how nuts are we?  Buy the bookazine and find out! ;)

You can actually contact Cat or myself to purchase a regular subscription now, if you plan to pay by check.  We do have a special offer for early birds, especially because we know our earliest birds will be our loyal friends and readers.  Thank you all so much for your encouragement, and special thanks to one of our heroes, artist and author Maureen Carlson, who called dibs on the first subscription months ago.  We may be crazy, but we're also blessed, and we know it.

You can contact me, as always, about this or any decorating and painting questions, in the comments below, or by email at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.