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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Road Trip East

Left Bend, Wednesday 19th June. Up at 6am and in the car and off at 7am, destination Idaho Falls. It was a big drive, 9.5 hours, I wanted to make a dint in the mileage. The kids were great.
Next day we headed for Yellowstone National Park. Of course I took the wrong turn so instead of taking the most direct route, I in all my glory took the long route. So off we toddle, through the Grand Teton National Park, which was beautiful. Brent tells me there was only about 30 miles between the fast route and the slow one. The slow one was also windy, single lane, slow going - all round. I think it added another couple of hours to our trip at least.
Yellowstone was pretty cool too, thousands of people, watched a movie about the geyser and they mentioned New Zealand of course with the Pohutu geyser in Rotorua. Waited and waited for old faithful to blow, it was about 20 minutes late, but it was pretty spectacular. Left via the north entrance, which was where it was all happening. Beautiful colours, a few bison off in the distance. Mammoth hot springs seems a good base if you wanted to spend a few days. One thing that did surprise me was that they don't do the yogi bear thing. I know it wasn't strictly Yellowstone, its what I associate with it though. Paid $4.01 for petrol, the highest price it can get up to in Bend. Thought it wasn't too awful.
Stayed the night in Billings, Montana. What I really loved about the highway there is that you can travel at 75 miles an hour, that's 120km! You can gobble up a lot of miles at that speed. I felt like rubbish (crook/sick), by the time we get to Billings, full of sinuses, and it moved quickly down to my throat and chest. So stayed two nights there, which was right up the kids alley and gave me time with plenty of naps to get on top of it.. We were in the 1st KOA (Kampgrounds of America), it was a pretty nice set up. Beautiful warm swimming pool, great facilities, they even cater at night if you don't want to cook or leave camp. Plus they sold icecreams at an outside venue until 9pm.
Oh yeah they also had these bikes, the kind where you sit at almost ground level and peddle out front, little steering wheel etc. Well our girl had her heart set on riding one of them. $6 for half an hour (mean mother that I am) said that is way too much, and there are many things you can do with $6. Well she said, when I heard it was $6 my hopes were up to here (waist height) and then when I went to bargain with him and offer $3 for half an hour, my hopes were sky high. Then he said he would like to but he wasn't allowed, then my hopes were dashed. I said oh well, you know what? I think that would be a great project for you and dad to work on, that's right up his alley, figuring out how to do it with you. So she quickly replied, well I'll need pen and paper and I can do some designs, we can get an old bike from the goodwill (hoko hook/second hand shop) and ..... So she was happy again, and she and her dad now have a project to work on.
Discovered that petrol is really cheap here, because this is where it all comes from. Cheapest we paid was $3.50 although we saw $3.22, I had already filled up though. Next destination Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument in Montana. Wow, really loved it. They had a great descriptive movie showing with Indian tribal relatives and historians. The Indians sure got hard done by. The memorial stones really created a somber atmosphere and the Indian tribute was pretty neat too, except they were filming someone interviewing a member and no doubt descendant of one of the Indian tribes, so we didn't get to hang out there for long. Quite a highlight of the trip so far for me. Loved it.
Next destination, South Dakota, Mt Rushmore, just in time as the rain really set in.
We're happily driving along and hear a bang, something like a stone hitting the car. A quick look around us reveals nothing. Next minute we were surrounded by hail, about the size of peanut m&m's, totally covering the road, it looked like it went from rainy to thick snow all over the road, thick and completely white. Bizarre. Cars pulled up all over the place. Hazard lights flashing. Bradley remarked, mum, this is where your skid car training comes in! I agree.
So sheltered up from the weather in Moorcroft, Wyoming the first place or little town we could find in the middle of nowhere, in a little motel room, clean, comfortable, warm and out of the weather.  We got sprinkled on during out last camping night, so we're also drying out our camping gear. The weather looks better tomorrow and we'll continue happily on our way. A little behind schedule and we probably won't make it to Vermont, however we'll have a good time along the way.
Apparently the weather IS going to play hardball with us. Lots of rain expected, so yet again we are sheltering in a motel. The Rodeway Inn, Austin, Minnesota. Not the cheapest I could find, the next. When we pulled up to the first place the children both went no. So this one I thought ok, lets just do it. And what a lovely surprise. It is spacious and freshly painted, carpeted, new covers, beds feel good. Strong internet, nice bathroom. It's a great deal and we are all happy.
Continue on to South Dakota, Mt Rushmore and really enjoyed viewing the four carved Presidents. Rather interesting to see that the majority of the carving was created with explosives, and somewhat sad that the German designer and carver died before the final dedication. Pleased he pretty much saw it through though. 17 years is a good portion of ones life. They were an impressive feat, especially when one considers the technology they had at hand, and what we have nowadays.
Next stop, Mitchell and the Corn Palace. Stayed in the nicest KOA campground. The first ever KOA seemed to charge for everything. This one was run by two older men, they made fresh coffee in the morning and offered it, just as a nice thing to do. They left the golf clubs out so everyone was able to help themselves when they wanted, no charge, AND something that was right up Reagan's alley, they offered the same bikes for $3.50 a half hour. She was stoked, and Brent encouraged her to take a ride (then she'll really know if she wants to make one). So the kids swam, played golf and had a bike ride. Of course we rounded the night off with a family golf competition, I really thought I was going to take it, until the final hole, that was a tough one. In the end, we were all pretty even. Good fun. 
Only did a drive by of the corn palace early this morning, it was quite impressive. 5th of June they had stripped and replaced all the outer picture panels. Loved it, I wonder how long it takes to organize these huge panels all constructed with corn, husks and all (which makes these beautiful cream/tan pictures). Nativity scene, soldiers, patterns etc, quite amazing.
On the way to Wisconsin Dells, which I'm thinking I can drive in one day, I notice a sign. De Smets, South Dakota, Laura Ingalls Wilder. So when I stop for fuel, I ask one of the girls, who obviously has no idea about much, but she points me in the direction of a man who does. He said it's 50 miles north of here (in the wrong direction for our trip) and it's worth it. So off we toddle. Wisconsin Dells is out the window. However we did do a wonderful Historic Homes tour, with the original surveyors cottage the Ingalls Wilder family lived in. The surveyors cottage must have felt like heaven after seeing what the size of a shanty would have been, I'm estimating 10ft x 10ft. We also got to see the school the Ingalls Wilders went to and then the final house that pa built. So interesting.
This evening we have already had thunder, lightening and rain. Just checked the forecast and they are expecting flooding in southern Wisconsin, which was where we were heading - to go to Wisconsin Dells and the largest water park in the USA.  Have decided that we don't need to get ourselves caught up in flooding, so we'll head further north and bypass the Dells. Reagan is disappointed, maybe we'll fit it in on the way home instead. So next stop Michigan and Lake Superior.
The kids have been great, I really think that they think this road trip is cool. All it took was to get going. We have been so lucky and seen so much. Just makes you realize how much more there is to see.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Disneyland and the reality.....

California was an experience. Loved where we stayed, away from all the hustle and bustle. Caught a shuttle into Disneyland each day we had tickets for it. It was really nice to be able to watch my family and have the focus on them. It was fun to observe them seeing things for the first time. What a mad house though, people everywhere! 
Highlights were Disneyland, of course. Medieval times for me, Universal Studios for my husband especially. I loved UCLA, the grounds are beautiful, lots of trees and the red and cream brick. Rodeo drive - no stars, well we didn't recognise any, saw a very very fancy car though, and lots of expensive shops and guards. Venice beach was an eyeopener, muscle beach looked recently renovated and we saw Gordon Ramsey filming Master Chef on the beach.

Met a kiwi guy who is in the film industry - working on the Gordon Ramsey site. He said that he wished he'd given himself more time to decide what career he wanted, the film industry is tough and the wrong fit for him. He has a huge loan to pay off though, so has to grind away at it until he can afford to move in a different direction.

And I was pleased we found John Waynes star on the Hollywood walk of fame - there were plenty of others too like Michael Jackson etc right nearby. Great for tourists, although the locals just walked over the top like it was nothing, and that is how it is when you are around stuff like that everyday.

There were things we didn't get to do. As we said to the kids, well that is something that you can bring your families here to do. Lord knows I won't be in a rush to get back to the madhouse.

Most times, we would be doing the speed limit, and it would look like we were crawling, other cars would be just zapping by us at incredible speeds, in and out and all over the place. Thank goodness my husband was driving, I had to cover my eyes at times it was that fast and furious. Yes, felt like a real country bumpkin!

For Disneyland we had a three day pass and California Adventure which is right next door. It was wonderful to watch the children thrill in being there and seeing a lot of what there is to see. People everywhere, colours, smells and sights that threaten to overload ones senses. Good walking shoes are a must! They loved the rides, they loved the shops, the evening fireworks and commentary are fantastic, the light show on the river was spectacular and dramatic. Even though we had the three day passes, and we made good use of them, we did not get to ride every ride or see everything!

I suppose I have a little bone to chew with Disneyland. It is a magical place, what they do they do well, however the queues were so long! We made good use of the fast passes, and not all rides had them. Still the waiting time was huge. 40 minutes, 60 or even 80 minutes is way too long. That limits the number of rides one can physically fit into a day and when you compare it to the length of the ride you want to take, it's ridiculous. I believe that they have to do something about that, either add more rides or limit the number of people they let in on any given day. I see a lot of money being made, perhaps that is all they care about.

Sometimes I wonder - do our children appreciate what they have done and seen? I know they have enjoyed it all. I see the looks on their faces. Do they appreciate the opportunities presented though? Perhaps when they are older they will look back and go wow, we were so lucky. I know I look back on my own childhood and think how lucky I was. Being allowed to be a kid, having mum and dad present in our lives, lots of family outtings together, that was lucky. May our children have the same feelings.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Disney! Here we come.....

USA and Disney, two words that are kind of synonymous to each other. That is, when you are from overseas. And so the time has come to take our two to Disneyland.
We were invited to join three other families on this trip. That is a fantastic opportunity for out two to share the experience with friends and will make it a whole different kind of experience for them.
And so the planning began...
Where to stay?
Everyone did their own bookings, kind of finding what was a good fit for them. Well I looked and looked, compared prices and what did I discover? This was going to be a rather expensive exercise. So then I looked a little further out, what caught my eye was the Embassy Suites. We have stayed at the Embassy Suites once before, and loved it. The value for money was great for us. First of all it was less expensive than closer to Disneyland, we were able to get two double/queen sized beds in one room AND a fold out couch.

Our two are boy and girl, they are at an age where they don't actually want to share a bed, unless necessary. The thought of having a bed each made the stay a whole lot easier. No fights, just a great sleep. The initial thought was that our teenage son would have the fold out bed.

The next great thing for us, was the breakfast. Made to order eggs and omelets, plus a huge variety of other breakfast items that started the day off perfectly. Then there was the shuttle to Disney, which took the pain out of driving there yourself. $5 each per day and you were able to go back and forwards as often as you like. Then there was the managers happy hour, free drinks and nibbles from 5.30pm until 7pm, that is something nice to wind down with, and since you aren't driving to Disney, it leaves you free to have a glass of something nice.

Planning our itinerary
Combining with three other families can be a lot like making a decision in Parliament or Senate. Lots of different ideas all going at once.  It all came together quite nicely. We were all arriving on Sunday and leaving on Friday.
Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to Disneyland and California Adventure.
Wednesday was a day out by ourselves to explore, I had plenty I wanted to cover;
* Venice Beach - checking out Muscle Beach, the surf and sand, the stores, just one of those things you have to see at least once.
* UCLA - I love taking the family to explore the local university. If it inspires them that's great.
* Rodeo Drive - just another one of those places you have to see at least once.
* Sunset Boulevard
* Hollywood walk of fame
* Hollywood sign
* Hollywood Forever Cemetary
* Star Gaze at Griffith Observatory
According to google maps, the round trip would be driven in two hours, sounded good to me.
* Medieval Times Dinner that evening
Thursday Universal studios and then back to Disneyland in the evening.
Friday Drive to Monterey Bay and walk along the waterfront

Saturday Monterey Bay Aquarium then home

Now, when we plan a trip, I also plan our meals. The other families were aware that this is just how we do it, although we were also happy to eat out, just not all the time. Cooking your own meals saves money and because all the preparation is done at home (I go through each dish and put the ingredients into sealed bags for example, the rice, herbs, seasongings into one bag, the wine vinegar into a small screw top jar. Then all I do when it is time to make the mango chicken is put them in the crock pot and turn it on) it is super quick and easy and tastes great! Staying at the Embassy Suites made meals a lot easier, well it meant I didn't have to even think about breakfast, which is a good thing.

We have a plug in car fridge which is fantastic when you head into warm weather. Plus I took an electric frypan and small crockpot, both are worth their weight in gold and you can cook anything in them.

So our meal planner went as follows;
Breakfast At the hotel - yeah, can't wait!

Lunch Each person was responsible for preparing their own lunch consisting of a sandwich and then a choice of fruit, fruit cup, cookie or biscuit, bottle of water, a couple of mini sized chocolates, snack sized chips etc. The children were also given $5 a day for an icecream (which is how much they cost at Disneyland) or to spend as they saw fit, if they chose not to spend that was fine.

Main meals;
Saturday Tortilla wraps and beef stew that I made the previous day, accompanied by salad. We took two days to drive down, it was a 15 hour drive in total. The others chose to drive it in one go, we wanted to be feeling good when we got there so broke the drive up.

Sunday This is the night that all four families met up, so we ate dinner out together.

Monday Spaghetti bolognaise and salad - I made this a couple of days before we left and froze it. Just had to cook the spaghetti and heat the Spag Bog.

Tuesday Chicken cooked in our electric frypan, with potatoes, sweet potato and carrots, plus salad. Once again I froze the chicken and it defrosted in the fridge during our stay.

Wednesday Dinner at Medieval Times

Thursday Toasted Sandwiches and salmon slices, yum!

Friday Chicken, mango rice (I was going to buy fresh chicken breasts for this recipe)

Saturday Corned beef (I froze the corned beef so that it would travel well, then it defrosted in the fridge during out stay) with beetroot and salad.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Corvallis flooding, January 2012

Drove into town today. Sick of the rain and all that water around the house. Town looked much better, well drier anyway. Went to check on a friend who had earlier been filling sand bags, fortunately the water in the stream behind their house had receded and all was well. They had taken footage of the stream in full flood and it looked pretty impressive. Still it seemed to be back to normal and business as usual.
Our house has water kind of all around. The back paddock is flooded right up to our door step. The poor old water trough (which was full and just out the garden gate), has long floated away. We have water up to the side pavers and flowing by the kitchen. One of the half rounds from alongside the driveway has been swept up and away.
Today our bridge was very popular. There is a river monitoring station by our house and the monitoring people were here all day. They returned at the end of the day and called out a hello while I was standing out back. It was one of the guys we had met a couple of years ago when we first moved in here. He said they had people coming by all day saying they had lived here all their lives and never seen it like this. I think that is why it took them so long to gather their data. At one stage there were at least half a dozen cars lined up and out jumped all these photographers. We were quite the freak show.
Anyway, the kids have just discovered is closed, the entire district is closed tomorrow due to the flooding. Apparently there are a heap of roads with excess water, and about half a dozen that are closed altogether. Talk about celebrations at our house. They truely do think they have won the lottery.
Just one problem, Reagan, who wore her gumboots to school today and raced to wheel the wheelie bin through all the puddles this afternoon (for tomorrow mornings early rubbish pick up) has just discovered that one of her boots has a hole! But I want to go play in the puddles! So this is the only major emergency - can we fix her gumboots so she can indulge in a bit of puddle jumping tomorrow?
Watching traffic go down our road is just like watching tv - we can see quite a way down where the road is flooded. Lots of vehicles plow through, some stop, many turn around. Lots of lights flashing, cars turning all over the place. I think I would be a turn around girl myself. Wouldn't like to plunge into flood water in the dark. I don't think half of them would even see where the road was at this stage, its so murky.
We are presently on water conservation, not so much consumption of, just not flushing the toilet too often or taking long showers etc. The house owner said the only thing to worry about is the septic tank. With the flooding it might just not handle things. I must confess to being the worst offender in the house. I flush and then realise what I have done. Must pay more attention!
Fortunately we woke to receding water. Let's see what the day brings in terms of rain. Trust the sun is shining in your slice of paradise. Desray

Monday, January 9, 2012

10 year old daughters birthday "spa" party

Took a rest from painting and coffee trivets to plan and impliment our daughters 10th birthday party. Many ideas were discussed including a bowling party, hiring the local swim pool, horse riding etc. What won the day was a spa party involving making bath bombs/fizzies, face masks, cleopatra bath salts, body glitter, nail polish and makeup. There was stuff I bought that wasn't really necessary, when you are reading through recipes etc on the net, people add a lot of extras. I will list the basic recipes we used further on. The end result was a lot of fun had be everyone, plenty of smiles, lots of laughter.

Thinking that the girls would whisk through each moment at pace, I figured that two hours would be good. Probably all I would be able to cope with and plenty enough for them. Wrong. Ten year old girls enjoy the process as much as older girls. They are of an age where naming and decorating a simple paper bag becomes a work of love. So three hours would have been more likely.

There were some great photo opportunities too, so keep your camera at the ready. The other thing is a bit of back up. Fortunately my wonderful husband and our 13 year old son were fantastic. They assisted clearing the table, wiping up spilt ingredients and general handing out of what ever was needed - paper towels, wipes, drinks etc. These two guys were worth their weight in gold, they were great.

I gathered a lot of the basic info from the internet and am grateful for it all being available. Having something the girls can do while waiting for everyone to turn up was a wonderful idea. Each participant was invited to bring their bath robe and slippers for comfort. This is how the order of events went;
1. Write name on/decorate a paper lunch bag - we weren't having goody bags full of candy/lollies, however the girls were making things and the bags were a good way for them to transport these home. I did find some very pretty face cloths, adding one to each bag before they left.
2. Bath fizzy's
3. Face masks
4. Cleopatra's bath salt
5. Body glitter
6. Make up
7. Nails
8. Afternoon tea and cake

The girls worked in pairs, and were very caring about sharing. This quantity produced one sizeable bath bomb per girl or three small ones. The golden rule is to always keep mixing while adding ingredients and break up lumps that form.
1/4 cup citric acid
1/2 cup baking soda
1/5 to 1/4 teaspoon food colouring (liquid or powder form)
4 drops of essential oil
Water in spray bottles (they don't need much water)

In a bowl, mix together citric acid and baking soda. Make sure they are well mixed.
Add the food colouring - stir while adding and break up any lumps
Add essential oil drops - stir while adding and break up any lumps
Start off with 4 sprays of water - stir while adding and break up any lumps, then continue with 2 sprays each time stirring well. Squeeze the mixture to check if it is holding a shape or not.

This is the tricky part, you only want enough water to hold the mixture when it is squeezed in your hand. Too much and it will not hold a shape. Don't despair if it gets a little too wet. Place your mixture in a recycled container (such as a yoghurt or fruit cup container) lined with plastic wrap and leave to dry. Remove when dry - it takes an hour or two.

What a delightful acitivity. Delicious ingredients, lots of fun and laughter with this one. When you have 10 girls applying face masks, you will find that a fair amount lands on the floor! Perhaps a towel laid at their feet will save a bit of work and can be shaken out later. The girls create their own face mask from the ingredients presented.
Ingredients begin with;
1 Tablespoon of Clay - we used Redmond Clay as our base, purchased from Market of Choice (about $8), I'm certain there will be something similar in pharmacies, natural food stores. One 10oz/283g container for 11 girls and we still have a little over half a container left for future face masks.
1 teaspoon plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon well mashed avocado (1 large avocado was enough, although they would have used more if it was available)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon camomile tea
1/2 teaspoon oatmeal
1 teaspoon olive oil
flat wooden stirring stick
jar or zip lock bag to mix ingredients in.
thin cucumber slices
wipes/towlettes/handy towels
a rubbish/trash container handy

Begin with their choice of ingredients and adjust for consistency and spreadability. Use the wooden stirring sticks to mix and then to apply to ones face (avoiding the eye area). Adjourn to comfy seats, sit back and relax while the mask does its job (10 to 20 minutes). Each girl enjoyed a drink and lollipop while relaxing with a slice of cucumber placed on each eye.
When ready, discard or nibble cucumber, they can also taste the face mask as it is all natural too, then clean off and feel how soft your skin is. Delightful.

Known for her beauty and for bathing in milk, Cleopatra was the last pharoah/ruler/queen of Egypt. As one participant remarked, when we bath in it we will be beautiful - too late, they are already beautiful.
Ingredients - mix in zip lock bag for portability;stir while adding and break up any lumps
1 cup milk powder (cleansing)
1/2 cup epsom salt (relaxing)
1/4 cup baking soda (detoxifying)
once well mixed, add 4 drops of essential oil and mix again.
Make up a label with ingredients, name etc. This quantity will be sufficient for two baths.

BODY GLITTER There are some lovely, little, inexpensive, lip balm sized screw top containers available from craft stores, in the jewellery containers section. I found a pack of 30 approximately 1"diameter by 1" tall or 2.5cm diameter by 2.5cm tall screw top containers for approx $6. Enough for the girls to make two lots of body glitter each, one silver and one gold.
Aloe Gel - one 6oz/70g tube was plenty for 11 girls, this is dependant on container size.
Fine glitter - in your choice of colours, we used silver and gold. We have large containers of it, smaller ones would have been more than sufficient. A little glitter goes a loooooong way.
tooth pick for mixing
screw top containers
Tiny label stickers, or paper that girls write on then cellotape to their containers in place of labels.

Fill each little container 1/2 to 3/4 full of Aloe Gel, and stir in 1/2 a teaspoon of glitter. Mix well and it is ready to use. Apply sparingly to forhead, cheeks, arms for that added glimmer. Thicker applications give a more visible sparkle.

As I said earlier, two hours wasn't enough, we spilled over for another 1/2 hour so that we might have our cake and eat it too, parents seemed relaxed and happy to chat. We never made it to the nail painting, make up applying stage. The plan is to invite each of the party participants home on a play date, one at a time, to indulge in nail painting and makeup. There are inexpensive (approx $2 to $3) nail art lacquers available for applying decorations on top of nail colour. Flowers, stripes, initials, patterns all look beautiful and are much admired by the girls. If you google images for eye make up looks, you will find some lovely, arty, dramatic, outlandish eye make up ideas for the girls to try. We also have some no tears, natural eye makeup remover that is very helpful.

A fun filled two hours, one very happy birthday girl who was full of love and appreciation for her day. What a lovely reward. This was a great birthday party. May yours be just as wonderful, Desray

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Saving the day and the tiles!

Well as you know, my first lot of coasters were a botch job. After I had discovered that they marked with the weight and heat of a cup of coffee, I tried spraying them with a clear gloss sealant that is heat resistant to 200 degrees F.

That sounds all good and dandy, however after the second coat something happened. It wrinkled, leaving the coasters looking like they were textured and me disappointed. I was especially disappointed as I had been so confident,  making 30 coasters in all, with cork backings in place, and here they were all wrinkled to varying degrees. The other problem encountered is that the surface still scratched and they were smelly even after a week.

I am thinking an inconsistent temperature when spraying them was responsible for the wrinkles - it is winter the temperature of the room did fluctuate, perhaps at a particularly important moment.......back to the drawing board....

While scouring the internet for answers, I came across one person who had read an inquiry about making heat resistant coasters and then read a seperate article about High Temp Caliper Paint which is not only heat resistant to 900 degrees F, it is also scratch resistant. They kindly placed the two bits of info in the same spot - a welcome bit of knowledge for me.

So where to get the Caliper paint from. I visited a couple of auto part stores to no avail. One of them was able to locate some, however it was on the other side of the USA and somewhat in the too hard basket. They did however recommend I go to an automotive paint specialist, who was able to track down four cans in the next state of which two arrived first thing the next morning. Exciting.

This spray is pretty quick and easy to apply. However many coats you apply, they all need to be done within an hour. Well that sure does save the day, within one hour it is all over and done with, great! Then you wait, 7 days then all that is left is curing. Curing takes the form of baking in an oven for one hour at 200 degrees F, that is one of the lowest settings on our oven just above warm.

This time I was a little more thoughtful, and only made two tiles. The first I mod podged the picture on, the second I tried to use the spray to adhere the picture to the tile. Using the spray as an adhesive and sealant did not work, it was fine until the curing process whereby it all lifted off the tile. The second tile turned out beautifully.

The final result is a heat and scratch resistant surface that has very little or no odor. Now the only minor problem, and I don't think I will bother trying to solve it, is that the picture is ever so slightly yellowed. For me it is inconsequential. I have success, so far so good.

Happy new year, make it the best year you possibly can. Enjoy, Desray

Monday, December 26, 2011

Problem solving what sells and what doesn't (at the moment)

Well, I have been doing a bit of problem solving. When I was at the Corvallis Fall Festival, one of our guild members went around and noted that none of the fine arts exhibitors were selling original artworks/paintings. Those who were selling stocked smaller, less expensive items in the $5 to $40 range.

The three other members I was exhibiting with did ok. We pretty much covered our entry costs mostly with cards and prints, although one member did sell more than us with her journals. The Festival wasn't one of those wow moments where you thought, yes, this is good, I am motivated to do more.

So, if original artworks aren't flying off the shelf so to speak, how might I present my artwork so that it does. A friend and I started brainstorming, from the list I constructed I have made a number of coffee coasters, mod podging my artwork onto tiles. Now that is all good. I figure that I can make about 30 in a day from start to final coat. That would be one long day with many breaks in between. The final look is great and would be a smaller and less expensive offering at the next art festival.

The whole process involves an undercoat of mod podge to apply the picture, then two more coats on top of that, followed by 3 coats of  polyeurathane, then another 3 coats of heat resistant coatings. The problem that I have found is, that they still mark. We left the coasters to dry for a good 48 hours before using. They were certainly dry to the touch and felt fine, they certainly looked great. Then when my husband put a hot cup on the tile, it marked. I was certainly disappointed in the coffee coaster, and so it is back to the drawing board and the search for a final coating that will save the day and the tiles!

The idea of entering festivals while also selling art, is to spread the word and become known. Handing out business cards with your etsy or other websites you sell on, is an important part of it all. That allows prospective customers to make a purchase at their leisure, over the internet from the comfort of their own home. I have made a committment to enter 4 festivals in the forthcoming year, getting out there and being visible is an exciting prospect.

Happy new year, have a fun safe time with your family.

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