Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Just a month until Forrest returns home from Afghanistan! In the meantime, the boys and I are enjoying the festive season as best we know how. That is to say, eating a lot of cookies (something the three of us can agree on!).

also, I took the printing press for a spin and made my cards again this year. The poor dogs were covered in glitter for a week afterwards (doesn't really help with the tough-guy impression!)
Wishing you a very merry Christmas!
with love from Lou, Rudy, Felix and Bob the turtle


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's up, Gnomie?

I have already introduced you to Mister Longbow, but he has come a long way since his last showcase on my blog.
Hunter is a patient gnome. He spent much of his visit untouched on my breakfast bar, where he witnessed a month's worth of activity and once almost eaten by a sneaky little Shepherd. Felix! NO!

Here he is at Thanksgiving. Quite naked, other than his hat.

Eventually though, we fashioned a fine set of clothes for him. He insisted on the tattoo.
Though he's a little late for Oktoberfest in his fancy schmancy lederhosen, I packed him off to Germany...home just in time for Christmas. Also, he's probably deploying to Afghanistan with his battalion next Spring, so wish him luck :)

Miss you already little buddy. Prost!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Behind the scenes of a mid-tour leave.

Posing with my beautiful trophy-dog after the Nashville Half Marathon. (I placed 22nd out of 1039 women, surprising nobody more than myself....did I mention how many doughnuts I've been eating lately?! miracle.)
Feeling thoroughly smug that all mine and Lesley's training had paid off, and eagerly anticipating Sunday mornings with a hot chocolate and a book instead of 10miles of freezing misery. aaah! I mean, I loved every minute. yes.

The after-party is well represented by Rudy hiding behind his tail. Lively? To say the least.
Thanks to my friends who refrained from drawing all over my face when I committed the ultimate party foul of falling asleep at 9pm. at my own party. (A half marathon will do that to you apparently...)

And all of a sudden it was the day we had been trying to avoid. Time to pack Forrest on a plane (or five) back to Afghanistan for the last couple months of his tour. Behold Rudy's most valuable asset.... sad face!
Also, bonus points to Forrest for utilizing my homemade message-shelf in the back ground! Miss you too, Love.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

November, in a Nutshell.....

Oopsy....I seem to be running behind with everything lately. Not least, my poor forgotten blog.
To sum it up: my husband came home from Afghanistan for two weeks of leave. We vacationed in beautiful, colorful Gatlinburg. We ate a lot of doughnuts. I ran a half marathon. Family Neumann flew in from the Golden State and we partied like it was 1999. I somehow managed to squeeze two Thanksgivings in (which, being English and unused to this holiday- I do have lots of catching up to do!)
As if that wasn't enough....I've had a really fun illustration job (to be shared soon). Felix is developing a conscience (I've been waiting long enough!), and I have signed a self-publishing deal with a talented author friend of mine. Watch this space!

November, as seen through my camera:

yes yes, you're welcome for this picture of the legendary cuttlefish. I was especially charmed by the sweet little fellow who appeared to be slumbering whilst balancing on one leg! Too cute.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

News and Views

Allow me to introduce you to Mister Hunter Longbow. He's a charming fellow. I have been tasked with transforming him into a modern and desirable gnome, by my dear friend Chad, stationed in Illesheim, Germany. Hunter is the Bravo Company mascot, and let's be honest, his style choices are lacking and personal hygiene also falls below the bar (dust in your beard Hunter? Really?). So here he is, idling on my workbench, clearly disregarding my no-smoking policy. Maybe it's a bubble-pipe.
We have a lot of work to do here at Gnome Makeover HQ.

In other news (and check out the views!), it is my first year here in Tennessee, and the season is spoiling us. I've told the boys that Forrest is coming home soon (next week for R&R!) so here are my two cuddle-bugs gazing expectantly at the forest (no no, I said Forrest! Daddy!). oh well...
So it's almost the month I've been waiting for. I am up to my eyeballs in errands and projects and Rudy is tapping his watch and saying that BlueBall awaits us in the garden. No rest for the wicked. Oh, Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cold days, Warm dogs.

It has taken just one week for the temperature to drop 20 degrees, all the leaves to fall off the trees and for me to switch my wardrobe from shorts and tees to long socks and sweaters. The dogs are looking smug in their fur coats when we brave the chilly 6.30am walk. I'm wearing gloves and hats and jackets in the 50s and wondering how I'll make it through the zeroes. With hot chocolate, for a start.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I'm working on redesigning my blog banner, as the current one just isn't my cup of tea, my Sunday morning, my warm socks on a cold day anymore. I was telling my husband that he'd better come home soon, because I feel like I've been married to the dogs lately. Not healthy. That said, they are a big, bright part of my days, and so I thought I'd include them in my new banner. Felix brought me a bug from the garden today, so he deserves a little something in return, afterall. At first I ended up drawing something ludicrously detailed for a simple application, but after slapping my forehead, and cursing wasted time, I did a 5 minute sketch which will probably work just fine.

In the meantime, Rudy has collected all my old shoes together for me so that I can take him into the garden and play fetch. Mustn't keep him waiting....
(I'll tackle Felix's a work in progress!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Family Time!

I suppose it is an inevitable circumstance that when a family member visits, they must at some point leave again. We gloomily waved my Mum back across the Atlantic yesterday, after what was an entirely pleasant three weeks of being a tourist in my own town, eating pie, and crowning my Mum the new most exciting person of interest for my dogs. As ball-thrower in chief, it didn’t take my Mum long to endear herself to the boys. Rudy fell in love. (again).

Felix must have grown 10 inches from all the extra treats. Rudy used his charm-face and spoke his human words in a bid for more (and more) ball-throwing. Walks at the river were a happy transformation from our fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach (two dogs, one under-muscled human: me) to organized semi-chaos (two dogs, three humans: Me, Mum and my sister, Kate). This might be the most relaxed I have felt since Forrest left 6 months ago.

Nashville Zoo entertained half-heartedly. It was nice but I was hoping for penguins. Maybe a hippo. Flamingos make up for any amount of disappointment however.

Nashville is becoming a little more familiar to me, though when my GPS broke halfway there, you could very well have deposited me on the surface of the moon and I’d have found my way around more efficiently. Eventually we succeeded in navigating between pancakes and parks. Not bad for a day’s confusion…

One of our final days trips was to the quite beautiful ‘Land Between the Lakes’. Thanks to the Autumn leaves for putting on such a show. Thanks to the weather for finally being generously cooler. Thanks to my Mum and Kate, for a lovely 3 weeks.

Good times, wonderful family.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

25th of September (i've been waiting for you!)

The latest:
*I have crafted my very own 'message shelf', which is pretty much exactly as is sounds. Nifty!
*I have vacuumed, laundry-ed, dusted and tidied with Mary Poppins-like enthusiasm, because today my Mum arrives from England for a 3 week visit. Whee!
*Discovered that a lunch of walnut bread, brie, apple and honey is perfection on a plate.
*A trip to the farmers market rendered me speechless, when the Nashvillians played their favorite game of guessing where I'm from. Scotland, Australia and Holland are the latest offerings (but at least I haven't heard 'Russia?' in a while!). Also, I have never seen so many pumpkins under one roof. It was astounding.
*Lesley and I ran 8 miles, brushing off our half-marathon training schedule like it ain't no thing (y'all). Hooray for guilt-free pie consumption.

This afternoon my sister Kate arrived for a Few-Day-Stay (official name) and being the good sport that she is, accepted an excited ambushing from Baby Bat. Now we are all twiddling our thumbs and paws, because did I mention? My Mum is coming to visit! yippee!

Monday, September 19, 2011

BigRudy and Blue Ball. The Love Story.

I've been busy doing yawn-worthy tasks like cleaning the car and vacuuming the house and laundry and businessy things on the compooter. If you are me (which incidentally, I am), it is difficult not to be side-tracked by some whim or other in the midst of hard work. On this occasion, I felt very much inclined to make a piece of mini wall-art. As you do. My obsession with the dogs is already unapologetically over-documented, so it will come as a surprise to nobody that I painted this picture of Rudy (except perhaps Forrest, who may not expect to receive it in his next care package!).

Rudy is rarely found without Blue Ball. He mourns it's absence on our walks and tries to sneak it along for road trips. He greets people at the door with it, he sleeps with it and plays with it. Given the chance, I expect he's read it poetry. It's love.
At my request, BigRudy was so obliging as to pose for a photo next to his likeness (or more accurately, he was momentarily distracted by Felix who was singing a power ballad through the window). He is also naked because Felix chewed his collar and neckerchief off. Boys will be boys....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

a bit of blah.

Sundays must commonly be the hardest day for the Army Wife whose husband is deployed. I mean, Sunday was a pain in the butt to begin with. It was do your homework day. Which progressed into hangover day (university...I was not a saint). Now we are at 'fill-the-time-however-you-can' day. As such, it would be appropriate for me to point out that my neighbors and friends who take it upon themselves to keep me entertained while hubby is away are incredibly awesome. They are the kind of people that you hope humanity is made of, but you suspect you kind of just got lucky. I also got some work done, and walked the dogs (twice) and ate a cookie (well, two).
I get to see Forrest in November for two weeks of R&R. Plus, I feel like a braver, better person than I was four months ago. That said, I am not going to thank deployments, because I wish Forrest was here. Always. But he has the kind of heart that fills a room, and if he chooses to represent and defend his country, then I'm right there beside him. He's a champ. But in the meantime Gloria Gaynor sang it, and you know what I'm talking about. (No, not an invite to karaoke....)

I should add that despite the occasional gloom of Sundays and deployments, I recognize precisely how lucky I am for this life that I have. Not least, waking up every day to see two pairs of yoda-ears on the horizon of my duvet....happiness can be hard to avoid. High Five, Rudy! Cuddle time Felix!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Home, Sweet Home.

If September isn't officially craft-month then it should be...because I've been afflicted with that bug lately.
I'm on a mission to make this house look like a home, and the dogs have been busy distributing their toys around, helping me with the 'lived-in' aspect of homeliness. Thank you, boys.

I've been strutting around in my work shoes (furry slippers), donning some fetching eyewear (plastic goggles) and commandeering the power-tools (trying not to lose a finger). Cutting up wooden triangles might prove to be the pinnacle of my abilities, however. After all that excitement...painting was a relief. Sometimes the comfort-zone is, well, comfortable.
I'll confess, I was going to make a 'welcome home' sign for Forrest (though he is not home for many moons), but in the end it all took so long that I wanted something that could hang around for longer than a few days!

In the meantime, Baby Shepherd has acquired all manner of booboos. Singing his whalesong, doing gymnastics in anticipation of dinner, and trying to 'crowd surf' on Rudy after leaping off the sofa, Felix clearly thinks he's a rockstar. Trying to raise them work here might never be done!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumn? hi!

I know it isn't officially Autumn yet (ahem, 'Fall'), but I feel as though my household has transitioned into the new season already. What can I say? We are trendsetters.
My wreath is prematurely complete and being worn by the front door. I have taken to wiggling my toes into long socks (venturing past my usual barefooted/ Birkenstocked look of Summer). We have purchased a compost bin, in anticipation of fallen leaves. We got rained on instead of sunburned at the local 'RiverFest' this weekend. We are opening windows instead of burdening the AC (whilst dancing around at the thought of next month's electric bill. mmm)

Regardless of my delight in new seasons however, here is Rudy- complete with blue ball. Because some things don't ever (should never) change!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mister Felix.

Around a year ago, I drew a puppy-portrait of Rudy. Now it's the turn of the sweet (mischievous) Mister Felix. Commonly known as 'CrazyFace' 'Little Thing' and 'Felix the Bat', this ball of energy is growing into big-boy barks that are finally aligning with the superior confidence he was apparently born with! The squeaks of yesterdays just didn't cut it. While Forrest has been away, I have wavered between being infuriated by Felix's prankster-like antics, and eternally charmed by his cheery nature. Luckily annoyance can't last long when he trots past grinning from ear to ear in the wake of whatever destruction he has most recently caused. His comedy is his savior. Or is that my savior? Either way I adore the boy named after a cat :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Rainy Tuesday

This is the cosy sort of day I'm having. Shame about the 10k in the rain that beckons shortly.
(good thing about the peach cobbler I made for afterwards.... :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Once Upon a Summer's Day. (with a winter theme. And some cake.)

People buy wreaths. Or they buy ‘wreath-making materials’ and wisely get their craft on in a manner that is advisable, with wire and twigs and berries and y’know…instructions! Because I’m a glutton for creative punishment and frustration however, I instead decided to make a completely impractical far-too-heavy wooden wreath that will never conceivably hang on our door. But I’m really enjoying it. It’s also a winter wreath, because I’m in my ‘so done with summer I’m pretending it’s winter’ mode.

In our spare time, we are branching out and going to parties where there is cake designed like a beach. Rudy is attending acting class and practicing his tough guy expressions. Sadly it’s wasted on Mister Felix who yawns in the face of amateur dramatics. The House of Dog continues to amuse.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One foot in front of the other. Eat a cookie.

I have achieved an unlikely balance somewhere between a feverishly impressive work ethic and sharpening-all-my-pencils-twice procrastination. I have done a bit of both and the result is that I'm ready to contact a delectable list of would be, could be (and have-been) clients.

In a manner of sweet hilariousness- the way only they know how- the boys have kept me company during these frustrating days and weeks at my desk. They almost witnessed a printer get propelled out of the window. They dutifully chased the vacuum cleaner around when I procrastinated a little more. We all did cartwheels together when I figured out how to use the new printer. Have a cookie. We deserve it!

go on.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August, lately.

If I'm looking for advantages of the geographically challenged aspect of my marriage at the moment, I'd say there is less excuse for distraction. It doesn't seem quite so necessary to cuddle with....who, myself?.....on the sofa for a couple of hours every night. Dinner is a 10 minute rather than an hour long affair. There is no packed lunch duty, or the need for 'his & hers' trips to Lowes (small victories!). The dogs receive more affection than they ever asked for, but my one sided conversations with them can only last for so long. Now that Felix is a little older and not trying to sprint off with my shoes/ books/phone every two seconds, it's a relief to have more time to devote to illustration work. There have been long hours in my workroom. Battles with the old printer. The purchase of a new printer. (Battles with the new printer....). Research and photoshop and lists and nerves and spray mount and frustration and good old fashioned stubbornness.
Oh, and my new website was quietly revamped over at it's usual spot. Fist pump, high five.

Rudy and Felix have been doing a grand job of keeping me busy and entertained. Felix still sings whale-song for his breakfast and he tap-dances for dinner. He walks and runs and plays and sings and leaps and jumps and hops til he drops. Happy 6 month birthday little buddy. Love you forever ever.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

I have a million ideas in my head. One pair of hands. Then the puppy wakes up from his nap. But I have a list as long as Rudy's tail (very long), so I need to keep things moving. Time to clean up the studio and make this house look like our home! I've painted a sign. It's a start!

I've been busying myself with a few projects. I'm crafting a detailed honey-do list for Forrest upon his return (naturally), but also putting forth effort so the the place doesn't look exactly as it did when he left, next time he sees it. Luckily (or not), time is on my side. Almost ready to say hello to the 6 month countdown. Well, I'm more than ready, but time is stubborn and will do things at it's own convenience. I painted a welcome sign for the second biggest mess of the house- my office (the first is Forrest's office, and I'm not even opening that door, lest all the unpacked boxes come crashing out of it). Upon entering my workspace you will likely discover myself donning a painting shirt, and a dog or two looking spiffy in a neckerchief. Welcome!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Attending Doodlers Anonymous.

So I was working on my website, y'know, going through that wretched mis-named, non-indexed, badly filed encyclopedia of images on my computer and trying to coax them into more-organised chaos. I was super-duper bored. Oh man, so bored. So in a bid to re-engage the saner side of my brain, I embarked on a fun weekend project. Doodlers Anonymous has a calendar design competition happening, so I jumped on it.

My design is all about the lovely things of Summer, and since I try to practice what I preach, I also made time for a BBQ, a 10K run, a Jazz Concert at the winery and a trip to the movies (thank you very much). I lost all notion of jpegs, pdfs and html pretty soon after the first glass of wine.
Kinda got into some mono-printing too. And lettering. And pizza-making. And cookie-baking. My messy weekend playtime...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hi, love.

I go about my days with purpose. I have friends who make me smile on a daily basis. I have dogs that make me laugh until I howl. I live a life that makes me thankful for everything that I have. But nonetheless I miss that husband of mine. He had me set in his sights pretty soon after I first met him. His effeminate snowflake fleece made me walk the other way (well, I was at art school, where boys were fashionable, I mean seriously). But Forrest was sweet. And he was persistent. And he proposed to me (three years before he really proposed to me) with this plastic ring. Today I found a drawing of it, and I think my heart just melted.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BigRudy saves the day!

In a bid to kick things back into gear, I am re-fluffing my illustration website. Brushing away the dust and putting some brand new artwork up on my website walls.
This always results in the most tiresome days spent trawling through the million zillion folders on my computer. Even when my artwork turns out awkward and ugly and embarrassing, I find it hard to let go of since I put time and affection in to every thing that I draw. Kinda like my old sock box (because who's to say I won't wake up one morning with an urge to wear the sock with a hole in the toe! Y'know?). On the upside, the occasional treasure of a forgotten memory is always waiting around the next corner to cheer me up and cheer me on. I just found this sweet little compilation of RudyFaces. I don't remember why I made it or what it was intended for, but today it provoked a much-needed giggle from my temporarily serious self. BigRudy, with the gift of a face that never stops giving!