Family Vacation 2013: Biltmore Estate-Part 1

Sorry for my absence.  But art wise up until a couple of days ago, I’ve been doing technical boring stuff in trying to get acquainted with my colored pencils.  I do have a piece started, that I’m fairly excited about, but so far I have only the background completed.

This year we were able to take a family vacation for the first time in years.  I can’t say it was relaxing and we were always on the go, but it was jam-packed with site seeing….I love trips like that.  It was extra special because the three of us got to spend time with each other without worrying about work or talking about school, or household chores 🙂

The first couple of days we went to Asheville so we could tour Biltmore Estate. This mansion was built by George Washington Vanderbilt and is the largest private residence in the nation.   The mansion is  178,926 square feet featuring 250 rooms representing the Gilded Age.  Today, it is still owned by the Vanderbilt descendants.  I think they or at least some of the family live on the property.

You talk about stupid money!… I love that place and this is was our third time visiting, but this was Alana’s first visit.

DSC03386 alana

And she actually enjoyed it too.  She’s a photography buff, so there was no shortage of interesting things to capture on camera.   If you live in the area and planning a wedding, this is the perfect place.  It has such a romantic setting.  Maybe one day I can talk Alana into getting married here…One day, a long way away, in the very,  very distant future, lol…

After touring the house we toured the gardens.  They were beautiful, but it was a tad bit too hot to go traipsing around, but we sucked it up.

The  coy fish in the picture below loved Alana.  It was the strangest thing.  The white coy would follow her around the pond, it would face her and also jump out of the water toward her.  I don’t know if it was her clothes or her camera but something drew this fish to her like a moth to a flame.


After touring the house and the gardens we toured the winery.  It was pretty interesting.  I’m not a wine enthusiast and not one to be able to appreciate a dry red wine so I found the taste pretty bitter. I did like the white sweeter wines though.  Poor Alana was bored to tears watching us drink, but she was a good sport about it.

Well, That’s it for Part 1 of our vacation.  Stayed tuned for Part 2:  ” The Ottaway’s Go To Washington.” hahaha

Be Well and Happy!

Welcome to my mess…


I’m a girl on a mission!  I have made a commitment to myself to learn how to mix color using colored pencils AND produce some artwork by the end of summer!  That means no Zentangling, no drawing and no sketching.  I love to draw but it was  my intention to learn to draw as a means of kick starting color work.  Instead  it’s all I do, because to me it’s easy and easy means safe.  So I’ve put my pencils away (for now) and my desk is littered with colored pencils.  Annnd of course my double cup a coffee!

Yes, once again my poor blog is suffering (as usual) but I’ve been so blessed to have the supplies, the space and the time to learn how to use colored pencils, and it’s a real shame that these lovely things are gathering dust.

I have been taking a video workshop and I have learned more in the first 15 minutes than I have  gleaned from the colored pencil books that line my shelves, that’s for sure.  I have always thought in books when artists convey techniques they either over simplify information or over complicate the information leaving a lot of stuff out.  Either way it’s confusing. But I guess I should factor in the fact that I never grade well in following directions in school, lol.

Now,  I am using my own technique in mixing colors and my own way of getting to know my pencils, but it’s working and I am feeling a little more confident in mixing.  So far their hasn’t been one color that I haven’t been able to match, so yay me!  This is a huge hurdle and I’m absolutely ticked to pieces.


Be Well and Happy!

Diary of an Iphone…

With a few days of scattered showers, I can now tell that our cars aren’t yellow and I can breathe at least half the time 🙂  I still got a few things accomplished and some things started and my week went a little something like this:

 A discovery that I liked this bookbookWhew!  I finally got through this book.  Usually, I can get through a book this size in a couple of sittings (if it grabs my attention and nothing is on TV, LOL) But this book took 10 times longer to get through.  What’s to blame?

The first couple of hundred pages was chock full of medical, scientific and historical fact and jargon.  If you are the professorial type  I see you loving it. But I’m not and I don’t.  I kind of  liken the beginning of the book  to The Big Bang Theory that has been stripped of humor and quirkiness.  And then you have to take in account that the author is a History Professor.  I gave me a melatonin effect. Zzzzzzzz…..

But when I reached chapter 22 (I think) the book became so fast paced and exciting.  And I think that the reason the beginning was so dry, is because the plot is so extremely complicated. And I am certain that if I skipped over the first part that I would not have understood a thing.  I thought about tossing the book aside and giving up, but I’m glad I didn’t and ended up loving the rest of the book!

This book contains just about all things paranormal with a little time travel thrown in at the end.  I am now looking forward to Book #2, can you believe it?  Here is an overview of the book.

Deborah Harkness, wherever you are, I so owe you an apology because even though the beginning was rocky, this was a great read 🙂Cinderella

  I wanted to read something not quite as heavy so I checked this book out from the library.  And I’m really hoping that this book is funny.  Going by the jacket it is promising. The name of the book is The Cinderella Pact and it is written by Sarah Strohmeyer.  Here is an overview of the book.


I also practiced a little witchdoctor’n or am I a medicine woman?






I wanted centerpieces for the kitchen and the living room.  And after a little research, I decided on terrariums.  I thought they would not only be pretty, but if I managed not to kill them I can repot them in bigger pots.  I was really excited to make these. But what was strange was David was excited too. Then I found out the reason he was so excited.  He thought, It would have some kind of themed village inside, like the Hobbit or trolls….uhhhh……I have one disappointed guy on my hands.

a pepper  There was a little art going on, but not much as I have had a headache off and on.   This is the red pepper and I have a yellow and green to go.  I also started a drawing of a dog.  Man, the reference is so ugly that it’s cute.  But as I get into the drawing, it’s starting to look kind of creepy.  So, I don’t know…I don’t have much time invested in it yet.  And it may just be too creepy to invest more time.

And last but not least, I am very glad that I come up with a new title for the posts…Diary of an Iphone..SWEET!


I hope you guys have a great weekend with big smiles and sunny skies 🙂

Be Well and Happy!

My Random Week?

I need to come up with better titles.  LOL

Well I do not know about you guys, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that it is spring in Virginia too!  It was snowing on and off all day yesterday and it is about 35 degrees as of 11:00 a.m. today.  People here are optimistic though, when I went out yesterday.  I saw plenty of capris, sandals and flip-flops.  Can you say CRAZY!

My week went like most others…a little something like:

photo (3) I am still working on the colored pencil book but I decided to take a break from that and start a drawing project.  I only started last night so there is not much to show as of yet.

 I have been trying to read The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkbookness.  The key word here is trying.   This book has had rave reviews like, “A page turner!”  “I couldn’t put it down!”  “Exciting!”  blah blah blah!  Me?  I’m having a hard time picking it up.  Is there something I am missing?  When I’m reading this book I have to make myself press on and it  is not pulling me in to the story line.  I’m still kind of early on, so I am going to make my self read more in hopes that it is just a slow start.

And in the Ottaway household, the youngest Ottaway got her  Driver’s license this week and Saturday she gets her class ring. I think she’s excited, but I’m never sure.   Good times ahead for Alana… scary and sad times for us.  Oh Joy! ~cue Sunrise, Sunset

Well Gosh, I guess that is about it.  I hope your week went well and weekend is better!


Randomness ;)

photo 2  Remember this portrait? This is Sheriff Graham/The Huntsman.  He was one of my favorite characters from my still favorite show Once Upon a Time.  THEY KILLED HIM OFF!  I was so upset. But they left a glimmer of hope in me when the last scene was of a wolf running through the woods…I said to myself,  Self?  At least they left an opening for him to come back.  And they are!  I am so excited!  I know it is lame, but there ya go…

I went home last weekend and was finally able to give my nephew Evan DSC03314this Tiger  portrait. He loved it and was rendered speechless.  He actually kept saying over and over, ” I don’t know what to say?”  So, I guess he was not that speechless.  It made me so happy, to be able to make him happy and all it took was a little time out of my days.

colored pencil  I have also, been working on this exercise from the book Masterful Color by Arlene Steinberg.  I will not say too much as  I plan on doing more of these exercises so I can give you a newbie review.

patty nailsI’m ready for St. Patrick’s Day nails and all!  This color is Miami Spirit from the Wet ‘n Wild Fergie collection. I really like the Fergie Polishes from Wet ‘n Wild.  And man, they are dirt cheap at $3.49 a bottle.  In the bottle the color has blue micro glitter that is absolutely beautiful on the nail (especially outside).  Alana and I both love funky nail polishes.  The brighter the better!  but my favorite…favorite color has to be and hands down Navy Blue!  LOVE LOVE

And lastly, yesterday my glasses finally came in.  I had to get bifocals. And it is so very lovely to be able to see and read using the same glasses.  I got the progressive lens so, I feel like  I am in a fun house for now, LOL But I really think I will enjoy them.

Welp, those were the highlights of my week.  Yes, I even find nail painting exciting.  You guys have a wonderful and creative weekend!

Be Well and Happy!


Zendare 43

Micron and Colored Pencil on Card

I hope this finds everyone in good spirits post Superbowl.  I guess there are some very happy people and also some very sad people.  For me?  The only thing that is really awesome about football is the credits rolling after the game.  I am not in to sports at all.  I have seen a game live (not professional…but semi?  I don’t know the correct term)  and did find it a little more exciting than watching it on TV.  I’m always surprised how emotionally  invested people are to “their team”  and some get very angry.  I’m just glad it is over.

This is Challenge 43 from Bright Owl.  I like the zentangling better on this design than the last one.  I lost the challenge because I used more tangles, than I probably should have.  But I chose these tangles because the reminded of Spring.  The patterns chosen were to resemble flower, flower buds,  leaves and vines.  Now, I’m a newbie and coloring the designs and it’s still a little tricky for me. But I still like it a lot.   So, far I’ve seen some AMAZING Zentangle work from the participants of these Zendala challenges.  So, you have not done so, when you get some time go to Bright Owl site and click on the names and the bottom of the post.  It will take you directly to artist’s blog.

I hope you enjoy your day!

Be Well and Happy!

A Book Review For You….

I am very proud to say that I have completed quite a few of my resolutions and we are still in January!  I have A LOT of resolutions this year for some reason.  But once I write a goal down, it might as well be tattooed on my skin for the whole year.  One aim for the New Year that I really need to tackle and tick off is what do about my slumbering blog.   And after much thought and ideas from my family, I decided to do things a little different.  Yes, I will still post content about art when I have it :)….But I do have varied interests that I’d like to share and at the same time let you know that I have not fell off the face of the earth.  It is my intention to post something at least a couple of times a week, but it is my hope to post everyday.  We will just have to see how it goes 🙂

Creative Colored Pencil by Vera Curnow

We are going to start off with an informal book review of one of my recent purchases.  Being such a novice in colored pencil, I think I can provide a perspective that is in line with other artists that does not have a grasp of this medium.  And I know just enough, to be smart enough,  to say I do not know anything about colored pencils.

When I ordered this book, I was extremely excited.  I am starting to have a great love drawing landscapes and there are not many colored pencil books out there that are strictly landscape how to books.  So to come across this little gem was a WOW! I have got to have it!  kind of moment. But when the book arrived and I read through it, I was extremely disappointed.

Do not  get me wrong, this is a well written book showcasing beautiful artwork from various artists that we all know and love. But it  is not a how to book.  Page after page you will see a thumbnail line drawing perspective from an artist with the corresponding color palette and a blurb of what to do (or not do) in a certain aspect of the painting, but that is all you are getting.  And I think, sadly,  the book description is misleading the readers.  It in no way diminishes the beauty of this book and if you are accomplished in this medium, but wanting to branch out into landscape, I can see this being very useful.  But for people like me?  It’s a look book.

Just for fun!


Moon Called by Particia Briggs

Mercy Thompson Novel Book 1

Yes, the secret is out, I will read just about anything.  From Jane Austin and Robert Frost to Patricia Briggs and Gilbert Morris, I just love them all.  But if you threatened me with a Taser for the truth, I would have to say romance novels are my favorite especially paranormal.  The world is harsh, full of heartbreak and sadness. Sometimes a girl needs a happy ending 😉   Although, I never got the Fifty Shades of Grey thing.  I did read the trilogy and thought it was kind of silly and for some reason women went completely wild over Christian Grey.  I am thinking the reason women are so in love with Mr. Grey was because he always made sure Anastasia Steele ate and ate good!  Personally,  I do not need someone to tell me to eat or heap my plate full…I do fine all on my own, LOL

Moon Called is a pretty good read.  I will not give a synopsis because there are plenty out there and written by a better class of writers.   I do not care for the cover, it looks a little juvenile.  Mercy ( the heroine of the book) reminded me so much of Kat vonD that she was one who came to mind while reading this book. I think to date Ms. Briggs has seven books in the series and I will definitely be reading the second one.

Also I’ve read:

Dark Storm by Christine Feehan

Be Well and Happy Tuesday!