Inspiration: Watercolor Flowers

Watercolor Flowers Inspiration

1. It’s all in Chinese so don’t ask, I don’t know. Lovely, though.
2. These flower cones (printable) from Martha Stewart remind me how much I love watercolor flowers.
3. Oana Befort is one of my favorite bloggers. She frequently posts works-in-progress, which I love.

It’s the bright colors that draw me to all of these. In general, I also like loose sort of gestural brushwork, such as on the Martha Stewart cones.

My studio at Nightfall

Seems all I do lately is post pictures, but it’s hard to find time for everything. I also want to paint my iPhone case and make minor revisions to my newest Derby Certificates. I’m working on having my designed layout for the cuteanduseful website match the actual layout of the cuteanduseful website.

Judy's studio at dusk

I’d left the lights on “upstairs” (as I call my studio up the hill) the other night, and I guess I’m becoming enough of a photographer so that “Looks Pretty” = “I should take a photograph.” Seems obvious but it didn’t occur to me much before.

Morning in the Country #2

Morning on Braddock Road, Loudon County, Virginia

I think this is my country dream house. I just love the double dormers and the red, weathered roof. House and barn are about 5 minutes from my house on Bull Run Mountain. It’s hard to imagine, but just out of the frame on all sides are million-dollar mansions.

I was out this morning because Tim (my husband) asked me to take a picture of the Bull Run Mountain Community Clubhouse.

Bull Run Mountain Community Clubhouse

Tim and a dozen of our fellow Bull Run Mountianeers put a new metal roof on Saturday. Doesn’t it look nice? I have my Art Camp here in the summer, it’s lovely to see the clubhouse look so good.



Growing In Our Back Yard

Our treehouse

Plants cascading over the wall

Backyard Azaleas

Our backyard is just wild. W-I-L-D, wild. We like it that way and it’s a good thing because I don’t know what we’d do about it otherwise. These pictures are taken just after rain, so that’s why the colors are so bright. About a 20 feet from the back door, the “yard” goes right up the mountain. There’s a small stream running through that is very pretty, and lots and lots of trees. The temperature is always about 10 degrees cooler here in the summer, which is nice.

But, that’s all in the picture department for now. “I have to do something about the way I look! (Anybody know what movie that phrase is from? Here’s a hint…”A girl just can’t go to Sing Sing with a green face.”) I am going to Drew’s and Emily’s track meet.

Morning in the Country

The chicks were all but out of feed yesterday morning (new pictures of them soon) so I was out early. Here’s what I saw along the way to the feed store.

Morning near Bull Run Mountain

From top to bottom:
1. This farm is at the foot of Bull Run Mountain.
2. There’s a wildflower meadow alongside the road next to the farm.
3. I think this house is fairly old, but it’s surrounded by a newer neighborhood.
4. Coming home I missed my turn but found this bull. Don’t you just love this bull?

Our New Baby Chicks

Our little baby chick

These are our new baby chicks (we got them Friday), and I must say, they are adorable.

Our Chicks

I don’t know what kind they are (maybe white leghorn?), whether they are girls or boys…They were hatched in biology class at Drew’s and Emily’s high school.

They’re living in a brooder box in our shed. Tim and I made the brooder box from a water heater box.

Chicks in a brooder box

It’s a very big brooder box. The days are warmer now, so during the day I lift the heat lamp up. I use fans to keep the air circulating in the shed (it can be stuffy), but the breeze doesn’t “ruffle their feathers” in the bottom of the box. The temperature is supposed to drop down into the 30s Tuesday and Wednesday, so we’re going to move them into the guest bedroom.

Everybody Poops

(Don’t worry little chickie, everybody poops!)

Hope you’re all getting ready for a great spring break. The chicks and I wish you a happy Easter!

New Personalized Volleyball Cupcake Toppers

Personalized Volleyball Cupcake Toppers

Added these printable volleyball cupcake toppers to my Etsy Shop today, after a customer who bought basketball cupcake toppers asked my to make volleyballs. I hadn’t thought of volleyballs, probably subliminally (I could never serve consistently, or honestly, at all and it was sort of a source of mortification) but here they are now!

closeup of volleyball cupcake toppers

Each is sized to come out with an 1.5 inch hole punch. I’m happy to use any colors for the numbers and I can also do a name and a number. More photos and detailed description in my shop.

I’m really trying to get more listings in my shop. I’d like to take the sea turtle approach (many offspring) rather than the elephant approach (one calf every 2 years). Presently, my goal is to do $20 of business a day. Etsy sellers, have any suggestions?

Free Pole Vault Birthday Cake Topper

Pole Vaulter Cake TopperIt was Drew’s birthday over the weekend, so I was busy making him a pole vaulter birthday cake! He liked it. He’s a pole vaulter, as is my step daughter, Emily. It’s Drew’s second year, and Emily is just starting.

The printable is pictured below, and you may download it for free. The PDF has fillable fields for the numbers, and if you like the colors as is (they are Drew’s school colors), you’re in great shape. If you’d like to change the colors, or you’d like a girl vaulter instead of a boy, a blonde rather than a brunette…I have listing in my Etsy shop to customize it for you.

Pole Vaulter Cake topper pictures

It wasn’t too hard to pull this togther. A box cake in 2, 9-inch round pans put them together with frosting in between. I set aside a small amount of batter and made the “pit” in the way you see in the picture above. What you see there is a piece of aluminum foil held in place with binder clips. I baked it like that and it was fine.

I used a little bit more than one tub of frosting (had some extra on hand) which I whipped in the mixer before I used it (that really improves the store bought frosting). I set aside a bit for the pit and colored it with just a drop of food coloring. For some reason I had it in my head that all pole vault pits are blue, but that is patently untrue.

The pole and the standards (holding up the flags) are made from 8-inch wood skewers. I painted the pole white and used washi tape for the large stripe, a fine-tipped marker for the narrow stripe. My son tells me those colors represent a particular pole vault manufacturer, so I learned something new on his birthday!

To assemble the printables I folded the pennants in half over a piece of string and glued. I glued the disks on either side of the string. I bent the mirror image of the vaulter in half at the hand and attached him to the pole by wrapping his hand around the pole and then glueing both sides together.

Hope you like this printable, and happy vaulting to all you pole vaulters out there!

New Derby Certificates and Pit Passes

Derby Certificates

I’ve made new a new Derby set! These are customizable for any troop, pack, district, team, group, ward, council, unit — you name it.  Great for Powder Puff Derby (or is that Powderpuff?), Pinewood Derby, your school’s derby…

All pieces are fillable PDFs for easy customization.

There are style awards, places awards, and pit passes. Detailed descriptions and more pictures with the listings in my shop. All are available for immediate download.

derby participation awards screenshot

I’ve also got a free participation award here on Cute & Useful, as I usually do. You can download the PDF here.

Happy racing!