Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I recently took a trip to Austin to visit my 93-year-old grandmother, and to see my fiance's sister in Austin. We flew into Austin and spent pretty much the best 24 hours I've ever had. Part of that great trip was the good conversation. We started up a conversation about art, and one of the things I've been looking seriously at is my photography. In community college I took a fantastic photog course that introduced me not only to the technique but also to the art. Henri Bresson, the decisive moment, and the art of the darkroom were major topics of discussion. Of course, this was all prior to the advent of the digital camera, flikr, and the everyman photographer. When anyone can capture the world with a camera, where's the voice in photography? How does one artist find a unique voice amongst the crash in this sea of voices?

Well, I can say one thing. You can't find your voice if you don't speak. I decided my first task was to simply take pictures of whatever I see that takes me. Many of the pictures are good but ho hum, and some are truly stunning. So, that being said. Here's one of my favorites :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Super Fantastic Giveaway!!!

Hello everyone, and here's the info on how to win yourself a super sweet prize! The nice folks over at CSN shops has provided me with the opportunity for you to win a $40 gift certificate to use on any of their 200+ websites! CSN shops has everything from bar furniture to cookware supplies to furniture and home decor and so much more. I have been wanting this Eames lounger since I was 14. It always epitomized 50s classic clean design to me.

The lowdown: You can earn an entry into the drawing by posting a comment here. You can earn an additional entry by following the blog (right-hand panel, under Followers). Make a mention in your comment that you followed. You can also earn an additional entry by following me on twitter (@omahagoodlife), and by tweeting or retweeting about the contest using the #oglifegiveaway tag.

The timeframe: I'll do a tally of entries and a random drawing on Sunday, May 30th and announce the winner on Monday, May 31st.

The disclaimer: This is a sponsored giveaway. I have not reviewed the product mentioned above.

Best of luck! <3

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More Proof For Spring

For Cinco de Mayo, my fiance and I celebrated with a margarita on our neighbor's balcony. The balconies in our apartment building overlook the building courtyard, as well several buildings across the street. We find it very entertaining to watch the activity of our often-crazy "in transition neighborhood" neighbors. Robert, across the street, appears to suffer from schizophrenia and obsessive/compulsive disorder. On many evenings you can see his light switch on and off over and over for sometimes hundreds of times. On another night, another male neighbor decided to toss all of his girlfriend's possessions onto the sidewalk. Around 11 pm she showed up, shouting and crying, and slowly sifted through the items and put them in her Jeep. Around 12:30 am some friends showed up to help. Finally, with quite a bit still left on the sidewalk, everyone left. She apparently moved back in several days later.

One of the things I like about this building is that it has a frenetic energy similar to Chicago, but also has a large grassy courtyard with several large old trees that you don't see too often in the windy city. One thing I didn't like about Chicago was the lack of green. That being said, I'm surprised it took me so long to finally admit my favorite color is green. I mean, if I'd been paying attention I could have made the switch years ago! One tell could be that an abandoned lot was my favorite place in Chicago. I passed it every time I got off the North bus at Clybourn and walked to the Trader Joe's. In the spring and summer it was overgrown with grasses and wildflowers, and often times there were enormous bunnies bouncing around. It was amazing. After all the overwhelming-ness of the concrete and modern humanity that is the city of Chicago, this little plot was a breath of fresh air. I always had to stop and just breathe in the smell of wild vegetation. It rooted me.

Ooooo! Speaking of which, amazing news! Omaha, NE is finally getting its own Trader Joe's! I will no longer have to spend my entire paycheck to get decent food at Whole Foods. I can get just as good or better at half the price! Hurray! When Jeremy told me the good news I jumped up and down and kissed him. They are going to make a killing here. Whenever I carry my Trader Joe's recycled shopping bags around people race over and demand to know where it is. Now I can tell them! I just verified the truth of this by doing a search on my zip code, and it came up under their locations as a future site. I want to sing Hallelujah to the heavens!

Alright, calm down. Back to Cinco de Mayo. So there we were, sitting on the balcony, when I noticed a bird and what appeared to be a bird's nest in the V of an evergreen in our courtyard. My neighbor grabbed some binoculars and we were able to verify that yes, it is a nest, and yes, there are baby birds in it! I couldn't believe it! I've never seen such a thing in real life! Today I went down with my amazing new Canon Digital Rebel camera with it's telephoto lens (an amazing package price at Best Buy, kids) and snapped some shots without pissing off the mother. The babies really look like a cartoon, they are so typically baby bird-ish. I had to sit for quite a while waiting for her to move. That must be one of the most boring and tense jobs I've ever seen in the animal world. She finally got up because she had to chase a Blackbird off and I managed to snap some pics of them. I believe she is a Red-Breasted Robin.

Also bird-tastic, today we went on a walk with the dog at the Con-Agra headquarters campus downtown. It's situated on a small lake/large pond with about a mile of path around it. Today it was like a bird party. There were Canadian Geese, Embden or Pilgrim Geese (not sure which), Goldfinch, Swallows and so many more that we didn't even try to identify them. One mated pair of Canadian Geese gifted us with a little paddling show of their 4 babies. They treaded water for a bit near the shore where we stood, then when they were ready to head to shore the mom and dad gave a little honk and the babies lined in a perfect little paddling row behind daddy. It was about the cutest thing I've ever seen and gave me a happy smile all day long. :)

Coming Soon: Starting Monday, May 17th readers can enter to win a $40 gift certificate to any one of CSN stores 200+ websites! Check back Monday for more information and your chance to win!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


When I was a child, someone asked me what my favorite color was. Feeling like I needed a response, I chose yellow. Later I learned that it was also the color for my astrological sign, Leo, and I felt like it was fate or destiny that made me claim that color. I clung to yellow with a tight, faithful fist despite the fact that I never used it in my home nor wore it. I didn't even much like gold, to be perfectly honest. I was, and am actually, a silver girl.

Well recently the truth has come out. My favorite color is green. To be specific, my favorite color is that green you get when sitting in a park near a variety of different trees and it rained early that morning, so all the leaves are plump with water and bright with photosynthesis. The truth is out! I feel so free now!

To celebrate, I worked in my little balcony garden. Several months ago I had purchase some cut rosemary for a dish I was cooking that night. It came with far more sprigs than I needed, and I felt bad for the leftovers, so I put one of them in some water in a little glass jar to try to extend his life. Well, he sprouted roots. So I planted him. And he sprouted new growth. So today I decided to return him to his natural habitat, and I planted him outdoors in this enormous pot far too big for him now, but one day! One day! The whole time I was tucking him into his new soil, I was whispering words of encouragement like "you've already proven yourself a tough little sucker" and "I completely believe in you."

While I was digging out my soil that's been left in a plastic bag on the balcony, covered in snow all winter long, I discovered this weird mossy grassy stuff growing in there. Being the cooky (sp?) kid that I am I grabbed one of the glass pieces we picked up for our wedding and decided to try to keep it alive! I have no idea what this stuff is, how it grows, etc. I'm guessing it needs minimal moisture and very little light, since the plastic bag is an opaque white. We shall see! If anything it's like having a new pet in the house!

Last but not least, I just wanted to add a picture of my basil. I almost put him (them?) out today too but I felt like they weren't quite ready. Specifically I felt like they weren't too big for their britches, lol.

For anyone who's interested, Chic 'N Cheap Living is having a contest where you can win any item from my etsy shop. I believe it starts on Sunday, so be sure to enter to win!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Originally uploaded by omahagoodlife

I've been busy doing things around the house lately. Namely, starting a wee little garden on my kitchen window ledge. I adore growing things, especially edible things, and decided this winter, after a very fruitful apartment balcony harvest, that I would go to the next step and start growing things from seeds. My first attempt is some mixed greens (pictured here) and they are doing very well. I started them on a wet paper towel with a jar over them to keep moisture in, and once they got big enough I snipped them off the paper towel and put them in little cups I made from cutting up a cardboard egg carton. When ready, I can just plant the whole thing rather than try to transplant the delicate little seedling. I also put a sprig of rosemary in water after purchasing it from my local grocery store, and behold, it sprouted roots! It's now happily spreading rosemary love in some soil in another window of my kitchen.

I have seeds for tomatoes, basil (one can never have too much basil!), spinach, bell peppers, chilis, and more! Hopefully it will be a bountiful summer!

This post was inspired by a contest at the blog Design*Sponge. Check them out, they seem like a fun bunch!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We've had what's been called a "Freezing Fog" hovering over our little town of Omaha for the past week or so. Jeremy says it's magic and hides the ice monsters. Today was supposed to be sunny and a high of 42, so Jeremy and I went out to explore downtown. We started with our now ritualized Saturday morning breakfast at the 11-worth Cafe on the corner of Leavenworth and 24th. This place is easily the best diner I've ever eaten in. You can taste that their ingredients are real. No powdered eggs here!

After breakfast we went record shopping at the Antiquarian and got some good albums. Lastly we made our way to the Super Liquidation Sale at the Omaha civic center, and for $16 total we gained access to...the largest waste of time and money we've ever had the pleasure of experiencing here in Nebraska.

At least we have a belly full of deliciousness and some great tunes to look forward to. Today is a perfect day for some wine and a game of Settlers of Catan in our pajamas.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some Distractions

have i found you? 274/365
Originally uploaded by shes_jack

I have two major posts coming up once the projects themselves are finished. I've learned a little lesson recently: don't post about works in progress. I tend to stop working on them shortly after I post. The carry all bag I posted about ages ago is sitting in a box under my fainting couch in the exact state it was in for that pic. Anyway, to keep you happy and coming back for more, here's a bit of distraction:

Shes_Jack - photostream, time consumer, fascinator

This bright spot on the web is only 17 and has a talent that blows my mind.

Also, The Lake & Stars has dreamy lingerie. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Big Changes, Small Steps

If anyone still stops in, there's been a decided lack of postings. I started a full time job and found myself too exhausted to both blog daily and craft, and decided that I needed to devote all of my remaining energy to the things that matter most to me: cooking, laughing, sewing, loving. But, to keep any straggling readers up to date....

I'm now engaged! He proposed on the 1 year anniversary of our first date. Now, to plan a wedding! If anyone tracks my etsy picks (right column) you may be seeing some wedding items crop up. I'm sort of "collecting" them in there while I'm making initial decisions and getting a grasp of my palette and so forth.

You may also be seeing a lot of art popping up in there too. I've discovered that etsy is a wonderful and inexpensive way to collect art. Go figure. I've already started buying pieces slowly, as my budget allows, and am completely in love with what I've received so far. Currently I'm waiting on this amazing little piece to be delivered. I kicked off my collecting with a piece from Barb Plevan, my interviewee of October 8th. You can read the interview here, and can see her items here. Her items are delightfully tiny and detailed. I started off with 2 of her fish decoys, and my fiance topped off my collection with the rest of what she had for sale, so now I have a wonderful school of them swimming across our bookshelf (pictured).

Crafting updates: I sold my first etsy item, the Victorian-inspired adventure hat. Feedback from the seller: "WOW!!!! This is amazing!! It is absolutely period perfect!!! So lovely!! And you won't find a nicer more helpful seller!!! It was so carefully packed and quickly shipped! I have added this seller to my favorites and will be back SOON!!! Thank you so much!!!!" So far, it has been my only sale. I believe my aprons don't sell for several reasons. 1, I need a better camera to take more appealing photos, with a live model if possible. 2, aprons are exceedingly easy to make, so for the most part it's easier to just make your own than buy one. 3, there's a lot of cute detail that doesn't come across in a photo, so we've thought perhaps they would sell better at a craaft fair.

In light of all of this, I've decided to try something new. The hat was a project I'd carried a crystal clear view of in my head for over 2 years, and one day put together. I considered other things I'd had similar views of, and realized that for years now I've wanted to make a velvet magician's cape that was embroidered, appliqued, and beaded/sequined and had lots of pockets. Something with heft that just felt magical the minute you put it on. I've built the velvet exterior minus the hood so I can begin working on the embellishment, and have recently selected the lining fabric, a print of the starry sky on cotton. So that's what I'm doing. I'm also going to hunt around for more hats I can turn into amazingness again.

Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year! <3

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hallween Craft Ebook from FaveCrafts.com

Just in time for the spooky day! My Halloween Half Print Apron Tutorial has been included in a Halloween Crafting ebook from FaveCrafts.com. There are only a few weeks left, so download the completely free ebook today and get started on your costumes, decorations, and more!

Download the How to Halloween eBook for FREE now! (PDF)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Featured Friday - Barb Plevan

Barb Plevan
Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

Tell us a little about your work. What sort of items do you sell, and where do you sell them?

My work falls into two separate categories which overlap slightly. For the past 12 years I've been what's known in the trade as a "miniature artisan." I make 1:12-scale dollhouse accessories and am best known for my plants and flowers. I sell them through my website. Since January 2009, I've also had a shop on Etsy. This is where I sell my pet portraits, fish decoys, and other painted things. Some of these are small enough to be considered as miniatures, but they aren't specifically intended for use in dollhouses.

What medium do you feel most comfortable creating in?
Acrylic paint, definitely. Even while making miniature plants and flowers, it's the painting stage that I most enjoy. My petals and leaves are cut from translucent vellum and hand tinted with paint washes until they're as realistic looking as possible. For my pet portraits I prefer to work on wood (especially pine or basswood), but this isn't always practical. A slab of wood costs a lot of money to ship to a customer, so lately I've been painting on canvas, paper and illustration board instead. And I love making fish decoys from balsa, even though I'm not the greatest wood carver in the world... because once I finish carving them, it's so much fun to paint them.

How long have you been working in your chosen medium?
I've been painting with acrylics as a hobby for as long as I can remember, but doing it professionally only since the mid-80s. That's when people started commissioning me to paint their pet cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds. Sometimes their kids, too.

Did you receive any training in your medium or are you self taught? If self-taught, what helped you most in becoming proficient in your chosen medium?
I'm a self-taught painter, for sure. Nobody ever showed me how it's done. I studied cartooning and graphic story arts at college, but only for one semester. Then I ran out of tuition money. And we didn't use paint there anyway... just pencil, pen and ink. I learned how to paint by trial and error. I have to give credit to my mom, though. When I was just a kid, she taught me how to draw with crayons. My friends all thought it was good enough just to stay within the lines in their colouring books. But Mom showed me how to mix basic crayon colours to make lots of other shades. And she encouraged me to decorate my drawings with all sorts of fancy patterns... polka dots, plaids, stripes, and so on. Her influence can clearly be seen in my most recent work.

Which artist(s) do you admire the most?
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Fritz Scholder, Jane Martin (the work she was doing in the 70s and 80s), Michael Sowa. But my favourite artist of all is George Herriman, creator of the Krazy Kat comic strip.

What sort of recurring themes do you find occur in your work?
Cats, cats and more cats... usually standing upright on two legs and wearing human clothing, which some people think is weird. I like to paint them dressed in the same clothes I used to wear when I was a little kid. I had a much nicer wardrobe back then than I do nowadays. And just so you know, I'm not one of those crazy old cat ladies you sometimes hear about. I have only two cats at the moment (George and Skeeter), my sister has one (Onslow), and we all share the same house that our parents and grandparents lived in before us. I guess I enjoy painting cats so much because I've always got live models to work from. If I happened to keep dogs or sheep or reptiles, I'd probably be painting them instead. Other recurring themes often show up as backdrops for my cat portraits, including things I also remember from my childhood... the birch trees surrounding Grandpa's cottage, for example, and the front verandah of his house (my house now).

What inspires you? How do you keep your inspiration juices flowing?
Inspiration is sometimes really hard for me to dredge up, but I can usually get the juices flowing by rifling through a stack of old family photos. I especially like the black and white ones of myself from the 1950s, where I always seem to be posing in the cutest clothes... Halloween costumes which were sewn by my mom, party dresses given to me by my grandmother, sweaters knitted by the lady who looked after me while my parents were at work. I also spend quite a bit of time staring out the window of my studio, which overlooks the backyard. A lot of the neighbourhood cats wander through there on the way to somewhere else. The ones I like best always end up as models for my portraits whenever I get bored of painting George, Skeeter and Onslow over and over again. Friends, customers and relatives send me pictures of their cats, too, so I always have a good supply of reference photos from which to work.

What does a normal work week look like for you?
Well, I work every day of the week and each day is pretty much the same as the one that came before it. I wake up around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, boot up my laptop, make a pot of coffee, and check my e-mail. Sometimes I'll receive an order from my website, but I don't keep any dollhouse miniatures in stock. As a result, I almost always have a very long list of customers who are patiently waiting in line. As soon as each order comes in, I bill the customer, add her name to my waiting list, and provide an estimated shipping date. That night I'll probably do a bit of preliminary work on the order and then set it aside until it's that customer's turn... which could be anywhere from a week to several months, depending on my current workload. If I've sold something on Etsy since the last time I checked my mail, I'll immediately spring into action and get the order ready to be shipped the following day. Only after I've dealt with my customers will I reply to e-mails from friends, order any supplies I need, pay the household bills online, or whatever. By then supper is ready, which we generally eat much later than most people. My sister does all the cooking, thank goodness, which means I never have to waste any time doing that. And right after supper I'll start working... and I keep going until the sun comes up, sometimes even later than that. I figure I spend approximately 5 or 6 hours a day on paperwork, correspondence, and packing orders... and another 12 hours or so making miniatures and/or things to sell on Etsy. I try to split my time evenly between the two, just to be fair to both my website customers and those who buy things from my Etsy shop. If I never had to sleep or eat, I'd put in even more hours than I already do.

What event stands out for you as being your most memorable/successful, or as having the greatest impact on your work?
Oh, there's no doubt about it. Opening my Etsy shop at the beginning of this year is the best thing that's ever happened to me. It's given me a place where I can display my cat portraits and other painted things, which I never had before. And now I have a perfectly good excuse to paint on a regular basis, instead of just once in a blue moon when I get all caught up on orders for my miniatures. My work is improving with each passing day. (I think so, anyway.) And for the first time in my life I feel like a "real" artist, which is all I've ever wanted to be. It's a dream come true!