Monthly Archives: July 2006

Been to the Mountains!


I know – long time, no hear! My hubby, the pup, and I went to the mountains of northwestern North Carolina… Beech Mountain, to be precise. I was trying to find the coolest place I could out here, and Beech Mountain, NC is the highest point in the eastern U.S., so that will do.

We stayed at the Beech Alpen Inn, and it was a great choice. The dog had a bit of a time getting used to a new location. Let’s just say that she is a creature of habit, and that she doesn’t like to “do her business” anywhere else but in our back yard… Talk about anal retentive!

The first day there, we slept in, and then decided to take a hike on one of the popular trails on Beech Mountain – actually two. We started out on the Upper Pond Creek Trail, which follows a stream, and is fairly easy (although I must say that I am sadly out of shape, so it was not that easy for me!). Still, when we got to the end of the trail, I decided that we should go on and do the Lower Pond Creek Trail, which the literature describes thusly: “While this trail is somewhat rugged and a little difficult in places, most healthy individuals in moderate shape will find it very negotiable.”

Famous last words. Now, in my defense, there was a detour that was not foreseen, and the footing on the last half of the trail was like mulch, but I managed to only fall on my butt once or twice. Still, when we got to the end of that trail, I told my husband that I did not want to attempt the hike back. It had taken about 2 hours to get this far, and I was sure to kill myself or break an ankle on the way back.
So, here was the plan: Wheat was to hike all the way back – via the trail. We looked at out map of Beech Mountain, and it was a maze of confusing surface roads. Rather than get lost, he decided to do the trail. He left me and the dog, and told me that, if I didn’t hear from him in 4 hours, to start walking and find some way to hitchhike back or get in touch with the police. He left me with the rest of the water (he was going to get his from the stream…) and with half of the trail mix, and set off.

After about a half an hour of sitting around (and actually finding the real trail terminus, which looked a whole lot more friendly than the trail we had just done!), I decided to start walking up the road – I was at the dead end, so there is no way Wheat would miss me if he was coming back in the car. Well, I had not gone more than 20 minutes up the road when I saw our little red car driving towards me!

My husband, who is very agile and hikes all the time, had only taken 45 minutes to walk the trail back… without me, the ball and chain. Oh well, all’s well that ends well, even if it bruises my pride.

The other adventure we had was river rafting – also my husband’s idea. I was not so keen because it would entail leaving the dog for up to 6 hours in the room. But our innkeeper, Steve, was nice enough to offer to walk her at least once while we were gone, so I said yes. We decided to go with Edge of the World, the oldest outfitter in Banner Elk.

Let me just say that those guys really work for their money: There was a running patter between our driver, Jack, and his co-hort, Will, on the way up. Lots of bad jokes, and insults toward East Tennessee, Florida drivers, community college students… They were equal opportunity hecklers. More amazing was that they did a whole other show on the way back!

When we got to the river, the Watauga, we broke up into groups, and Jason was our guide. We were on a raft with a man from Athens, GA and his twins – seventh graders (a little preview of my upcoming year of teaching seventh graders…). All of the guides were very competent, but also very insane, jumping from cliffs, paddling whole boatsful of people through the rapids, serving a picnic meal… I hope that my family takes my advice and joins us next summer – it is one of the things I would definitely recommend.

Other than hiking and boating, we did a bit of shopping, visiting The Carlton Art Gallery at Creekside. Toni Carlton’s work is really awesome – I particularly liked her Asian inspired assemblages. I bought a pair of dichroic glass earrings. The last day. I went alone to Foscoe and to Valle Crucis to shop.


New Guadalupe Shrines


Well, I worked for two full days on coming up with five standard designs for my Guadalupe Sheer Shrine. I have made nPink openote of all of the supplies needed for each shrine. I am trying to be vigilant so that I don’t get caught unprepared and run out of stuff. Of course, I know that I have limited access to the box itself, so I am warning interested parties that these will probably not last long after Christmas! To the right is my pink shrine (I have named them after the outer ribbon border color), closed. Notice how the Virgin peeks out from behind the door. That is exactly the effect I was thinking about when I first saw the boxes. I have posted all of the pictures on my Flickr page (here) and also put them up for sale on Maison Celeste Etsy Store.

pink closed Here is the same box, opened. I made the flowers myself. I LOVE hot pink and orange together. Back when I was in middle school, and thought that I was going to have a racing stable, those were my chosen colors. My second choice was red and yellow. I am just a fan of bright colors, I guess. So, there are four other designs, each with a different Virgin. Next, I am going to work on four versions of my painted crosses. Until then, since I got soooo much done, I am sorting sequins. Yes, into different colors. Next, I will put all of the sequins of similar color in a common caddy, sorted into various shapes. I know, anal.

I also finally completed a special order for a Blue Dog Shrine frame. I had a request from a former client who had herspurple dog open stolen – gee, how flattering! This is great fun, because since it was a custom order, I was able to use an image I don’t commonly use. I think I used this Blue Dog for my friend in Houston, but with a green frame. I had a BLAST making it. I have to use only cards for the ones I sell on E-Bay, but I have done a couple of custom ones. You can see them as well on my Flickr page. I just got finished ordering 13 copies of the 2006 Blue Dog Calendar datebook, which is supposed to have a different piece on each page. I think that I can use them in my upcoming shrines.

Speaking of which, I just went to the bank today and send a wire transfer to China to order the new frames that I had to have made. I will have to raise my prices, but I think that it will be totally worth it. Until then, I think that I am going to make three last shrines with the frames that I salvaged from the discount bin at Hobby Lobby. They are in sad shape, but I think I can work with them. I also have about thirty miniature Spanish doors I bought about 2 years ago that I need to make something with.

Of course, I am getting all of this inspiration and steam up just two weeks before school starts. Typical. Next Tuesday, my husband, the dog, and I are headed for the mountains of North Carolina. I need some relaxing time. I also need for it to be cooler.

Our Lady of Color


I made my first sale on! AND it’s the most money yet that anyone had paid forOur Lady of Color my work so far! Yay! It’s also one of my more recent works – experimenting with flat canvas board and paint with the collage. It’s so exciting!!! I am always astonished whenever people pay money for my work – but I am getting used to it now. I will miss my Lady, but at least I have her in picture form. Go check out my other offerings at

Well, I heard from the guy at the DIY Network about my extra craft. He said that he loved it! But then, like the other things, he asked if I had any more “variations.” He said that they were not doing a Christmas show, and the ornaments would not be used. He even gave me some suggestions about what I might try.

At first, I shot back a grateful e-mail and prepared myself for another brainstorming session. Then, after the e-mail was sent, I started to think. Gee, it’s a half hour show. The reason I was coming up with the napkin idea was to augment the show about the story boxes. Isn’t this enough? I sent the e-mail to my mother, sister, and some other friends – and Mom and Sis said that it seemed like he was making me jump through hoops.

I think that I will find a nice way to say that I would do more variations on the teapot (I’m working on a thrift store jewelry armoire right now), but that this was it for me. I have already neglected a couple of orders that are already paid for in pursuit of the TV deal.

Speaking of wasting time… I am so enamored of WordPress, that I started another blog. It’s called The Cowgirl Clubhouse. I have this game called Cowgirls Ride the TrailCowgirl Game of Truth. I actually have just the travel deck, which looks a bit like a Trivial Pursuit deck, except that the categories are different, there are no right answers, and there is a cowgirl pic and quote on the back. I am going to post questions from my deck, and people can use it for blog ideas. This is what is called a meme. It is (hopefully) going to be a discussion group, and I hope people feel free to comment! You can buy the game at Cowgirls It’s a great idea for a party or get together.

I am about to attempt my first wire transfer to China. It’s time to commit to the purchase of my shrine frames. I have never done a wire transfer before, so I went to Google. At first, PayPal was an option, but I don’t want to make the company on the other end join PayPal. So I am going to have to go through my bank, as Western Union is definitely too expensive. I found this handy tutorial on

What else? I made reservations at The Beech Mountain Inn for four nights next week. We are bringing the dog. It is about 5 hours north and is supposed to be cooler. That’s what we’re going for – the cool! Then, it’s back to school!

Welcome to Maison Celeste!


After having been faithful to Diaryland for so long, I have decided to move my blog to WordPress. To be honest, I made a blog in Blogger, but will use that for something else. WordPress was recommended by Sister Diane of CraftyPod, so I checked it out. I was completely sold when I found the Fleur de Lys layout. Tres cool!

Teapot Lamp

I also have been wanting to add pictures to my entries, so I will be fooling around with that a bit. To the left (I hope…) is a decoupage lamp I did for my proposal to the DIY network. I have been going back and forth with the “idea guy” for the past week. He is the one who contacted me about being on Craft Lab – he was very interested in my Loteria Story Boxes. The catch is that they don’t think that the story boxes alone were enough to fill a whole show where I would be the featured guest. They needed another – and these were the words they used – similar craft to present as well.

I sent a variety of things that I had already produced, including an Advent calendar I made for my mother, and the two mini cabinets that I had redone in Loteria and Italian papers, as well as a variation on the story boxes using the Teresa Villegas Loteria deck. They wanted something else, so I worked until 3AM on my Memoirs of a Geisha box – a larger version of the story box using a cigar box. He loved it, but said that they needed something “not box-like” as the other craft…


I tried not to get frustrated, but worked with my mom to think outside of the box – sorry, I couldn’t let that one go. I finally decided to use my mom’s idea of decorating Christmas ornaments with paper napkins. I did some ornaments, but also did the teapot. Then, much wackiness ensued as I scoured Hobby Lobby and Target for the right lampshade, put the whole thing together, and had my husband do the photography. He is much better at it – at one point when I was going it alone, I was actually trying to hold a frame with balls hanging (swinging) from it with my right hand, while going for shutter button with my left.

After all of that, my husband and I met Mother downtown to go to an art gallery. First we dined at the Doc Greens on Ponce de Leon. It’s a pretty neat concept – I had the Dr. Detroit with steak on top. It’s just about the LEAST healthy thing on the menu, aside from the spinach. But, hey, their motto is “as healthy as you want to be.” Apparently I was not in a healthy mood.

Crawfish poster Then we went to the Barbara Archer Gallery at Inman Park, mainly to see a series of works by Troy Dugas. Troy is an artist and adjunct professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, where I used to live and go to school. Although we had never met, we found that we had people that we knew in common. His work is fabulous – he does radial and geometric pieces using labels – cigar, bean, beer, etc. He also did the current poster for the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. Isn’t that awesome? I have to say that his work was the highlight of the show.

Yesterday I was, for some reason, in a cleaning mood. I folded clothes, made the bed, and then I totally re-organized my kitchen. For a day, at least, all of my pots and pans are not in sight. We’ll see how long that lasts. I have moved them to what used to be my “liquor cabinet.” Now, all of the booze is in the half bath next to the kitchen, under the sink. Next to the dog food. I also worked on my studio downstairs, although I have a lot more to do before that is done.

I know that it’s been a long time! I am still sur…


I know that it’s been a long time! I am still surprised whenever I stop by and look at this blog – people are still visiting it!

Today, because I am obviously an (undiagnosed) obsessive-compulsive, I spent the past two or more hours searching for pesto recipes. Here is what I found out:

Pesto Recipe URLs
Pesto – Definition: [PEH-stoh] An uncooked sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan or pecorino cheese and olive oil. The ingredients can either be crushed with mortar and pestle or finely chopped with a food processor. This classic, fresh-tasting sauce originated in Genoa, Italy, and although used on a variety of dishes, it is a favorite with pasta. Now there are “pestos” made from myriad other ingredients from cilantro to mint.

–Copyright (c) 1995 by Barron’s Educational Series, from The New Food Lover’s Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Green Onion Pesto

Asian Hazelnut Pesto

Traditional Pesto

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Mushroom Pesto 1

Mushroom Pesto 2

Roasted Garlic Pesto

Arugula Pesto

Pesto “Pantesco”

Artichoke Pesto

Roasted Artichoke Pesto

Mint Walnut Pesto

Cilantro Pesto 1

Cilantro Pesto 2

Cilantro Pesto 3

Green Olive Pesto

Black Olive Pesto 1

Black Olive Pesto 2

Texas-Styled Pesto

Ginger lemon pesto

Hawaiian pesto

Sage Pesto

Parsley-Feta Pesto

Parsley Pesto (Southwestern)

MIxed Herb Pesto

Lemon Parsley Pesto

Thai Almond Pesto

Red Pepper Pesto

Yellow Pepper Cilantro Pesto

Gruyere Pesto

Three Herb Pesto

Asian Peanut Pesto

Pecan Pesto

Pistachio Mixed Herb Pesto

Southern Collard Green Pesto



Caponata 1

Caponata 2

Artichoke Caponata

Coriander and Cashew Pesto

Rocket, Cashew, and Chilli Pesto (What is Rocket?)

Dill Lemon Walnut Pesto

Low-Cost Pesto – uses sunflower seeds

Eggplant Pesto

Chive Pesto

Had enough? If not, there’s always Very Pesto, by Dottie Rankin, with cool recipes like: Tarragon Pesto, Garlic Chive Pesto, Caraway Thyme Pesto, Pistachio Pesto, and Sorrel Pesto with Lemon.

I have added the Pistou, Tapenade, and Caponata recipes, because they are in this group. Oh!! I know there are SOOO many other things: duxelles, for one!!! But I have to stop now….