Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pssst, Singalong! "Happy Birthday to You..."

One of my original readers, TampaGranny, is celebrating her birthday today! Let's all gather 'round and sing "Happy Birthday" to her. Thank you so much, Granny, for all of your comments and support these paste [almost] three years! I hope you have a great day!

Above, a dark pink dahlia blooming in my cutting garden.

Heavenly Blue morning glories are almost twice as large as other varieties of glories, and I just love their color. They are very prolific, too, in both vine length and number of blooms. These photos are from a few days ago, the last time we had full sunshine!

Trying to escape from the cutting garden, these orange dahlias really caught my eye the other day.
The Victorian cast-iron planters in front of Pink Gardens are blooming profusely this year, with sweet potato vine, Vinca, geraniums, Joe-Pye, mini Dahlias, and these multi-colored morning glories. These dark blue and pink glories remind me of those Hubble photos of galaxies "floating around" in space.
A longer view of the blue morning glories. They're on three sides of my vegetable garden. I spent all summer weaving the vines in and out of the fencing, not letting them grow "upwards" until the very end of the summer. If you let them grow vertically too soon, they run out of things to climb on and then just weave themselves around each other. They're still pretty, but you don't get as much of a "bang for your buck" in just one big jumble. These vines are now almost twenty feet wide in every direction. Once they had cleared three sides of the fence, I let them do their thing naturally, growing upwards, and then they just took off. Now I enjoy hundreds of new blooms every day. I hope we have a very late frost this year!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Busy Days!

The past few weeks have been BUSY for me at home. The weather was changing, I had old friends coming to visit, a friend gave me two really nice bookcases, and it had been quite a while since I had rearranged my collections. I have so many collectibles, that it's hard to clean and dust, and I generally do that every few months when I move things around. I'll set up a folding table, and take everything off of one shelf at a time. I'll dust them and them place them back in a new arrangement, or I'll pack them up and bring something "new" down from the attic. Above, a rare Hitchcock wooden chair that commemorates the Henry Whitfield House in Guilford, my hometown. The Whitfield house is the oldest stone house in New England, dating to 1639, and has been a museum for almost 100 years. There is a painting of the house on the top of the back of the chair,  with the name painted on the reverse side. Also in attendance are vintage dolls; the Cabbage Patch doll dates to the early 1980s and the bisque doll to the 1920s. This is the upstairs foyer.

Seen here are baby clothes hangers and baby shoes dating to the 1920s. On the wall is a photo of my mother fro 1938 as a nursing student, and on my new bookcase, lower left, is a photo of my dad, also from 1938, the year he entered the Navy.

Two views of a small two-shelf table in the foyer. I've painted it in these vintage bright colors to show off the ornate design of the spindles. All sorts of collectibles may be seen above, ranging from a 1960s Avon cologne decanter in the shape of a 2-seater Thunderbird (in the box, and still full of the cologne), to frilly 1950s floral ceramics, and of course, scale model cars...

In this view, a primitive wooden bookcase, dating to the late 1800s, may be seen at the right. I really haven't met a piece of ceramic or glass I don't like!

The TV screen and a livingroom window reflected in the shiny original finish of my 1955 Grundig Majestic Major console radio/record player. The blond-to-ebony graduated finish is still mirror smooth and glossy after almost sixty years. You've got to love the very Cadillac-like V-and-Crest of the Grundig!

A new arrangement in the kitchen features vases and kitchen implements including a ravioli maker from the 1950s, still in its original box, bamboo napkin rings from the 1950s and pewter candlesticks from the turn-of-the-20th century.

Matchbox-sized plastic model cars, above. These were produced by Jo-Han in the early 1970s. Seen above are a Gremlin, Vega, Continental Mark III and a Maverick, all cars that are relatively rarely made in scale models. I had to build them from kits when I was a teenager. Also seen is a small wooden cabinet dating to about 1850, meant for a "chamber pot" and has rails on the sides for towels. I've restored the beautiful walnut finish and created that impressionistic painting for the front of it.

Hanging on a wall for the first time in more than a decade is a vintage oval frame with an arrangement of dried flowers in it. The glass is convex and the frame is a beautiful grained wood with the grain radiating out around the edges as if from the center of the glass. Hoohoo created the flower arrangement in the 1960s. I'd like to open it up and center it again, but she closed up the back so methodically that I don't want to touch it. It's a snapshot in time, and really, what hasn't drooped or sagged in the past 50 years, lol? The large art piece is of my grandmother and a friend of hers getting ready for a swim, based on a photo from 1920 or so.

My grandmother spent the winter of 1962 in Florida and these very fragile sand dollars date to that time. I'm pretty amazed I've been able to keep them intact all of these years. Johnny Lightning matchbox-sized muscle cars include, from left, a '72 Firebird, '71 Challenger, '70 Torino GT and the pink '70 Barracuda 'Cuda at the far right. The bright lime green "King Cuda" convertible is a Hot Wheels model. A few of the books I've designed are at the bottom.

An IKEA bookcase in my kitchen, a gift from my friend Nancy several years ago. What can you see here? Or maybe it would be easier to ask what you don't see, lol. Items date from the mid 1800s to the present day. I mix and match!

Colors, colors, colors! The "Game of India" board game dates to the mid 1920s, and is basically Parchesi I believe. The blue glass vase is a 1940s item, and the painting at the right dates to the late 1800s. The bronze Model T is a coin bank giveaway from the Guilford Savings Bank in the 1960s, and the little ceramic fairy vase is just cute. Little cars include a '57 Chrysler 300 coupe, a late model Mercedes SL600 roadster, a late '50s Citroen DS in gray primer and a red-and-white '59 DeSoto 4-door hardtop. The pink glass vase at the left has flowers painted on it by Hoohoo in the 1930s. The brass candelabra is one of two Hoohoo gave me for my 6th birthday, already a little piano player. It was her hope I'd become Liberace II, lol!

B O N U S   P H O T O :

A small arrangement of dahlias keeps company with Shirley Temple, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson and the program to Gone With the Wind, 1939.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hello, Dahlia! 2012-style

Seen from four different angles, and with unique post production, this is an arrangement I made today from my flowerbeds I have created and tended for years. I gave the bouquet to a friend for doing me a huge favor! Until I win Lotto, my remunerations and gifts will have to remain food or flowers, lol. 

The arrangement has buddleia (butterfly bush), goldenrod, and Joe-Pye for an early fall look.
Pumpkin Spice dahlia and an orange variety surrounded by goldenrod and Joe-Pye. I love different colors and textures in arrangements.

Hissy Fitz Dahlias, the bright yellow pom-pom, mixes it up with other mid September Casey-garden blooms.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Better Late than Never!

My dahlias are just now beginning to flower. This variety is named Pumpkin Spice and the blooms are just about six-inches wide! I also have yellow pop-pom dahlias flowering called Hissy Fitz. My purple ones are still a few days away, and I'm not sure the hot pink or a second variety of orange ones will even bloom. It's already the middle of September and they don't have any buds.

"Clutter" on a mid September morning in my apartment... Colors and collectibles wherever you look. I have vintage jewelry covering the new issue of Vogue, and there is also a February 1904 The Ladie's World underneath. My favorite vintage toy, a 1920s Roly Poly, is in the center, sitting in a 1930s cobalt vase.
A closeup of this morning's dahlia arrangement. These are Pumpkin Spice and Hissy Fitz varieties, the only ones I have blooming at the moment. That's a little '63 Ford Falcon scale model peeking out from the left, lol. A couple of my mother's crocheted afghans in the background.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Newest Thrift Store Find

I found this beautiful dark pink vase the other day at a nearby thrift store. I don't think it's very old, there is a fairly new looking "Made in Spain" sticker on the bottom, but the glass is full of small bubbles and flaws, lending a vintage look to it. Close to ten inches tall, there are seams on the sides, so I think it's just an inexpensively produced export item. I absolutely love the design and color, though, so home it came with me. Best part? It was less than $5 and the store donates to local charities.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

West Side Glory 2. Spider was Free!

I just finished the new poster for West Side Glory 2, a comedy night in Seattle hosted by my friend, Jeffrey Robert. For those of you in the Emerald City, the show is this Saturday evening, and doors open at 8:00 pm. This time, I photographed some of the clapboard siding on Pink Gardens for the background, and didn't even notice the "Daddy Long-legs" spider on the left until I downloaded the photos, lol. I also superimposed one of my blue morning glories. "Break a leg," to all of the performers!
  • Last month's poster can be seen, here. I used several of my vintage collectibles for this first poster.
  • BTW, for my flower lovers out there, I will be posting LOTS of photos of this year's morning glories soon!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Xmas Carol—My Dolly Makes the Bigtime!

I've Designed the Cover for Emerging
Author's First Science-fiction Horror Novel

One of my antique dolls has finally made it to the big time, as a COVER GIRL for Keith O'Connor's just-published science fiction novel, available to download at Amazon's Kindle store! : )

M Y   D E S I G N    W O R K — I'm very proud to announce a first novel by a fellow blogger, and now friend, Keith O'Connor. Keith first approached me last year as he was in the midst of writing his first full length novel, asking if I'd be interested in doing the cover. I jumped at the chance! Keith sent me the working draft of the book, as well as his ideas for how he wanted his book portrayed. Several ideas, really.

I like to have a personal touch in everything I design and work on; I guess it's my claim-to-fame at this point. I've scanned my memorabilia for a book I designed on Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I've scanned my late father's Army medals and ribbons for a book I designed for West Point's Bicentennial back in 2001. I've done a photoshoot on my porch and created a poster for West Side Glory, a Seattle comedy show. For Keith's book, I photographed one of my antique dolls. She is close to one hundred years old, a bit worse-for-the-wear, but a sweetheart and she absolutely adored being a cover girl after all these years!

Let's make her a best-selling cover girl!

From the Amazon synopsis:
When Maria Kennedy's four-year-old daughter was killed, her world collapsed. But she fought her way back from the depths of despair and reclaimed her life. A year later, she gave birth to another child, a girl named Jenny, who is now four years old.

Maria would do anything to protect her daughter. But how do you protect your child from something the world has never seen? In the lead-up to the Xmas season, the threat begins to take shape -- and it is malevolent. The danger closing in on Maria Kennedy and her daughter, Jenny, seems unstoppable.

This Xmas, something new is coming. And it wants little Jenny. Welcome to a new kind of horror.

B o n u s   D e s i g n s  : )
  • This is the poster I created for West Side Glory, a stand-up comedy show in Seattle. I love picking things out from my collection to use in my graphic work. The "trick" is to find like-minded creative clients, lol.

  • Happy Trails, a book about Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I used a lot of my own memorabilia and collectibles in the design of this book. Amazon link, here. I scanned one of my family's 1950s photo albums,complete with yarn ties and bow, and created this colorized image for the cover.

    (Screenshot from Amazon, hence the scrambled type at the bottom with the copyright)
  • West Point: The First 200 Years. This is a book I BEGGED for at the publisher when I worked full time, lol. My dad was in the Navy for 12 years and the Army for 11 years, and I really wanted to create this bicentennial book to honor his service in a way I couldn't when he was alive. The cover is a scan of the flag that draped his coffin at his military funeral. Again, I like to use as much of my personal collection that's appropriate in my book designs. Inside, I used some of his ribbons, medals and buttons for little details in the text.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Apples, Peaches, Plums & Cherries

Oh yes I did! I've been practicing my pie making lately. This is a mixed fruit pie I made a couple of days ago. I peeled and cored/pitted apples, peaches, plums and cherries, all fresh from a farmer's stand in town. I sauteed the fruit with a bit of fresh mint from my garden and rosemary and black pepper. I added a bit of orange juice and confectioner's sugar to make a syrup for them. When they were cooked down, I strained them and added them to a pie crust I had baked first for ten minutes. And no, for this pie I did not make my own crust. I bought the kind you roll out, already made. I've made my own in the past, and I still miss my mother's homemade crust, but honestly, it adds so much time and stress to my life, I wouldn't bother to make pies at all. Maybe this winter, if I'm stuck in the house for a few days, I'll attempt a crust again, but in the meantime, I'm happy to hone my filling techniques and flavor profiles! The pre-made crusts that roll out are quite fine. I put a bit of flour on the counter, roll out the dough a little bit more to make them "look" a bit more homemade, lol. This pie was just delicious!

Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie, lol
One of my favorite songs from my childhood! I can't tell you how many times I played this 45 single over and over and over again in my bedroom, dancing around the room like I was on American Bandstand as only the little Casey could do.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Before My Time

My aunt Hoohoo in the early 1950s, with a teeny-tiny puppy named Lady, a dalmatian mix. I colorized this photo in Photoshop in the very pale hues of hand-tinted vintage photos.

"Lady" all grown up, left in the photo above. This is Hoohoo's husband, Bill, also my father's brother. Two brothers married two sisters. He's kneeling behind the fieldstone koi pond and there is also a black spaniel-mix next to him named Ebony. I see pansies in the foreground. This would make a good photograph to colorize and commit to wood, even though I didn't care for my uncle. To put it mildly.

A tasteful portrait of Hoohoo, perhaps her 30th birthday in 1955. She is standing in just about the same spot her husband Bill was kneeling in above. The koi pond is to the lower right in this photo. There's an old blacksmith's shed in the background which was taken down in the late '50s. This photo was probably taken to send to my parents living in Japan at the time.

Hoohoo dressed as "Macabre Santa." She never failed to be creative and fun!
Another one of her dogs sitting on their Harley Davidson. This dates to around 1950.
Uncle Bill, 1947. This was probably taken during their honeymoon in New Hampshire.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Still Lifes from Where I Sit, 1 & 2

One of my sunflowers, sitting in front of a water-damaged portrait of one of my great-great uncles. Morning light casts a lavender hue, exaggerated by the yellow of the flower.
Looking to the left of my computers today, this arrangement may be seen. My hippy side is obvious with my patchouly oils, Nag Champa incense and a psychic's pendulum. The creature in the back, dragon or gorilla, or something in between, was bought by my parents in 1951 in Japan. The cranberry genie bottle is from the '30s. There is also an antique railroad spike. They can be found all around the property from the tracks right next to us, just thrown onto Pink Gardens' acreage as they updated the tracks throughout the decades.

Labor Day on the Beach Road

To mark a broken wooden fence rail, a jauntily, and nautically, tied rope is festooned with rainbow ribbons ever two feet or so. I just found it such a fun, unexpected detail along our beach road. The clumps of sea grass in the background are very lightweight and "wave" back and forth with the gentlest of breezes.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September Rose

This single, perfect rose was blooming yesterday next to the Beach Club in town. There's a bud on it. I'll be waiting for it to bloom! It really hasn't been much of a growing season this year, but I love to find tiny bits of beauty here and there when I can.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Rabbit, Rabbit!"

First Day of September is Longtime Reader 
PhantomX's Birthday, too!

Closeup of another one of my sunflowers and the inevitable bee! I'm completely fascinated with the patterns the immature seeds take on in the center of the flowers.

 One of the few containers the chipmunks haven't decimated. These are baby spider plants from my curly spider. Even at this small size, they're three times as large as when I planted them in the spring and they each have baby spider plants starting to emerge from them. Those rusty iron pieces are from the railroad tracks nearby. You can't dig anywhere on Pink Garden's property without coming up with these things. I have about fifty of them lined up on some railroad ties separating the driveway from the shade garden. There is also a sad little zinnia in the middle of the spider plants. I love the dusky rose color of the sedum to the left.
Another photograph from the "jewelry" series. In this one I caught some "fire" from the sun on the smaller brooch in the center. The flat silver pin at the left, almost like a small belt buckle, has cactuses and llamas engraved on it. 

Even in this decimated form, after a late night raccoon snack I suppose, there is something dramatic about this sunflower!