The End of A Perfect Day on Blueberry Hill

sofaAfter my last post aka pity-party, I brushed my self off and got to work on a Christmas commission! YAY proof the people like my work and trust me with their special occasions. I started with some photos of my clients favorite place, she hikes there every year on her birthday and picks fresh wild blue berries and eats a picnic on the rocks jetting out into the lake. It sounds like a children story doesn’t it?!

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I did a few color sketches for composition and then we made it a reality.

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{"focusMode":0,"deviceTilt":-0.0009449283268789799,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}Wouldn’t it look beautiful just about anyplace?

 

bedroom nuetral

secrataryIf you are in the market for a christmas commission, I will be happy to provide you a free consultation and a gift certificate. Commission prices usually run about 30% more than other original works.

Public confessions

I love Brené Browns book Rising Strong. In fact I love anything from Brené Brown- you may remember this or this? I purchased Rising Strong audio book to keep my mind off of a long drive to Germany a few months ago. I’ll admit, listening to her sassy wit and southern accent for 8 hours made me homesick. But her message uplifted me, and re-enforced my long-held idea that PEOPLE CAN CHANGE- if they really want to- and really work hard. So there is hope for me:). You’ll have to read (or listen) to the book a few times to really get all the great info it has to offer, however one takeaway I am trying to apply today is that story telling helps us rise strong through feelings of shame and failure, so here goes.

Accountability is a great motivator. This is why we often announce to everyone we know, that we are starting a new exercise and diet regimen- and our friends can help support us and avoid sabotaging us. It helps people in rehabilitation programs to stay on track.  By checking in with these goals often, our support system motivates and constantly renews our momentum. However it can be really difficult to admit failure once you have announced to the world that you, say…. are putting your artwork on display at a Christmas Market…. for the whole world to see. You know- the big bad world, not just Facebook friends. Not just people who might be making pity purchases. And when the whole world doesn’t respond favorably, it can feel pretty crappy. And thats exactly what happened last weekend. I spend months working my tail off, actually painting my fingers off. I recruited Spartacus to saw, and glue and nail and freeze his fingers off. We were a santa workshop up here on the mountain. We were pumped! We loved our products, we loved our salvages shutters-turned-Christmas-market-booth, we believed our pricing was a real bargain for Switzerland. Then I stood there for 6 hours trying to smile and make awkward small talk – which was probably the worst part. I hate waisting time- especially on a Saturday, my fun day! I ended up selling 2 packs of notecards, one of them was to a friend who came to cheer me on. PATHETIC.

So many wonderful friends have made me accountable by cheerfully asking “how was the market”? I just felt embarrassed. Shame is a really sucky feeling. I wanted to hide out for a week or so. It reminded me a little of the first time I had invetro-fertalization and didn’t get pregnant. So many people were cheering me on, so many people were praying for us… and I failed.  I imagine it’s a little like taking my clothes off in front of everyone in the ladies locker room (its a phobia – and a resolution that I have 3 more weeks to RESOLVE). I needed a week to hide out- rest-up and now I am ready to admit it. So here I am telling the whole world that I failed. And in all fairness, a lot of other vendors from the market complained about their lack of sales, how the market was not advertised, how it was poorly organized and all the hard work and investment we as vendors had done was a waist- misery does love company, so it is good to know I was not the only one. 

And if Brené is right- I will tell this story, and it will help me to rise stronger!

I believe this is true, but it is hard to be proud when we fall.


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. ~Theodore Roosevelt


 

Meanwhile I am trying to recover some of my cost, if you are interested the Post-Market-Failure-Sale is going on till Christmas- great deals starting at 20%off and more. sale treejoy sale today adventure

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sale peaceonearth

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sale life is beautiful sale jeep tree sale how sweet it is sale good day

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sale be kind

Fireworks on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a snowy winter day here in Switzerland, and we are missing our family back home. It helps that the kids are in school and Spartacus is working so the routine keeps us from sitting around and being homesick. I have another painting I want to share. I’m taking it to the Christmas Market this weekend. At most Christmas markets around Europe you will find ornaments and spice blends, nativity figurines, and lots of hot wine, but paintings are a little unorthodox. It could be a total fail or because it’s different, maybe I will get some attention. If I win big at the sales table, it will be impossible for me to contain my excitement so be sure to follow social media.

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Can’t you just picture it on you wall? If so, be sure to contact me- asking price is 200 swiss franks. 27.5 x 19.5 inches (70 x 50 cm). Holleethornton@yahoo.com

Colorful Abstract- Poppies & Candy floss

{"focusMode":0,"deviceTilt":0.02192000945540862,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}I am really excited about this one, its so cheerful- definitely a flashback from summertime . It is my Georgia O’Keeffe “Poppies” moment. This painting adds a pop of color, and an irresistible focal point to any space. It measures   27.25 x 19.75 inches and priced at 300.00 usd plus shipping. I am happy to ship the rolled canvas to you. You can usually get it stretched by a reputable framing shop for about a 100 usd in the states.

White-Fireplace-Makeover copy scandinavianfireplaces2 copy

Wouldn’t it look great over the mantel?

The Birds & The Bee

cards for sale

A ten card set for only 15 bucks + shipping.

Hot off the press and ready for delivery. States side deliveries are expected in early Nov. Just in time for the HOLIDAYS!!!

PERFECT TEACHER GIFTS, GIFT EXCHANGE, BIRTHDAY GIFTS, AND KEEP SOME FOR YOURSELF!
Blank folded cards -perfect for Thank you notes or any simple greeting. (from US to US and from Switzerland to Europe and beyond). Each set of 10 comes with 10 5.5 x 4 horizontal folded notecards with matching envelopes. Each set is professionally printed on matte card stock (easy to write on)  and is ready to brighten anyones day.
TO ORDER contact holleethornton@yahoo.com or message me from FaceBook.

Coco’s Birthday Interview 2015

Coco turned 6 (in July). You may remember that every year I do a birthday interview with the children. I got the idea from my friend Shari when we lived in PA. The idea is to ask them the same questions and see how their responses change over time. I think its fun just to look at how their growing up! I am a bit tired of hearing what kind of cereal they like- especially when we don’t eat much cereal, or what their favorite tv show is when we don’t watch tv, so I am thinking about changing things up. Especially as they get older, I think it would be more interesting to ask philosophical thought provoking questions, or maybe something about current affairs. Even though she still holds onto the position of youngest child with every bit of energy she can muster (notice the baby talk answers in the video),  I am so excited that my youngest is getting older. Sure I miss the snuggles at nap time from my sweet 2 year old, but I love sending them off to school and finally having some silence in the house. I love to watch them learn new things and become more independent. I look back at the videos from years prior and while the answers haven’t changed dramatically the kids have grown up a lot. Enjoy the next 15 minutes, and if you have any interview question suggestions- please share!

Rubbing shoulders with Annie Sloan

 

me and annie sloan2Of course interviewing a celebrity can be intimidating. Lucky for me I was too busy with my daughter’s sixth birthday party mermaid extravaganza to obsess about the upcoming interview until the night before. By obscess I mostly mean, worry about important things like:

  1. What am I going to wear?
  2. How much sleep I will loose by getting up early to drive across the country (yes you can drive accross the whole country by mid-morning)?
  3. What’s the best lunch restaurant in Neuchâtel to eat with your 6 year old daughter?

Annie Sloan is best know for her boutique brand of chalk paint. I knew I didn’t want to write another post about how chalk paint sticks to any surface or a tutorial on waxing. What I really wanted to know from this successful woman, had more to do with the idea that she raised three children AND created a successful career simultaneously. I wanted to know how she created a word-of-mouth sensation without much of a marketing budget and how she became a Pinterest sensation. I wanted to know why bloggers (like me) evangelize ASCP (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) without any compensation at all- not even in the form of free products.

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Scenic Promenade on the shores of Nuechâtel.

Neuchatel is a charming city on the shores of the beautiful turquoise lake in the French region on the far west of Switzerland. Coco and I got up rather early and headed off for the long drive and a girls day out. I had lined up a sitter for the demonstration and interview, (which ultimately fell through-but thank heavens for iPads).

Victoria Sparkes is the owner of  Bateau Rouge, she is also my art dealer. And now you know how I managed to score an interview with Annie Sloan. Bateau Rouge is a small gift shop and creative studio on Promenade Noire number 8, one of the main streets in Neuchâtel. The chalkboard sign in front, alerts you to specials and treasures inside.

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shop treasure

The shelves are full of colorful paints, knobs and artwork to beautify your surroundings. My little birds are perched all over the store.

my little birds smaller

The real feature that day, was a stencil demonstration by none-other than Annie Sloan herself.

annie demo & ASCP

I was surprised at how unpretentious and relaxed she was. I didn’t know what to expect exactly: a bigger entourage, a large colorful hat embellished with feathers – she is British after all -and an artist. In reality- Annie Sloan was quite normal. The news crews from Neuchâtel were on hand to document the entire process and add to the excitement.

tv crews there too

Stenciling as you may remember, is nothing new. It’s making a re-entrants onto the craft market with sophisticated laser cut patterns for all types of decor. Annie Sloan carries a line of stencils as well as, fabrics and of course her paint products. She showed us how easy it is to use them and how flexible they are in achieving a customized work of art. She answered lots of questions including several regarding painting fabric with chalk paint.


She is so honest & down-to-earth she even told a story of how one of her favorite linen jackets had faded and rather than tossing it out, she dyed it using black Annie Sloan chalk paint. She then reached for it and showed us that it was the jacket she had brought along for the day – a little eccentric perhaps, but the jacket was indeed very black and a perfect way to demonstrate that the products do work.


After autographs and photos and fielding lots of questions, she took a few moments and we sat down in a sunlit corner of the shop. She shared with me her journey as an artist and as an educator and how merging the two careers have become a satisfying business and brand. She told me that her desire to practice her art and decorate her surroundings led to creating ASCP- which properties of adhesion, mixability, ease of use, and a beautiful color pallets made it a welcomed solution for DIY’ers decorative needs, and filled a nitch in the marketplace. She told me about writing her first book 27 years ago when her oldest son was just a toddler. While raising 3 boys she managed to continue writing books~ 24 more, as well as working as an artist.

She shared with me that serendipitously her husband an IT professional and a left brain balance to her right brain creativity -built her a website very early on. That internet presence combined with her own early adaptation to Facebook and Twitter are important contributors to her success. Social media has indeed played a large part in her ability to market her brand at a very low cost. It’s hard to search Pinterest for more than a few minutes without running a crossed a mention of Annie Sloan chalk paint. She attributes luck too much of this success and claims that a great product sells itself. She says that by continuing to fill niches in the market with her products she can continue to grow her business and remain successful in spite of lower cost competitors. For anybody that has used her product, we all know that it’s hard to beat. Brand loyalty among her users is significant-I believe it’s because her brand is dependable. When you invested so much time and money into a piece of furniture or cabinetry (or just about anything you want to craft by hand), it provides a lot of peace-of-mind knowing what outcome to expect. And while her products are not inexpensive, they really do work. Thats the reason why bloggers like me, want to shout from the rooftops and tell every one about ASCP.

Annie credits her distribution channel of stockist as another strategy of success. By selling paint through experienced stockist, she is able to provide customers with necessary support. In addition to their stockist, customers can reach Annie Sloan and her team via Facebook and other social media any time of day. She is very quick to answer questions and assist customers through social media. I left Bateau Rouge feeling inspired by a strong woman with a vision, and a disire to share her talent and passions. And because of that desire, she has become incredibly successful along the way. I’d interview celebrities like this everyday if I could. Now Annie, could you just invent something that makes dinner and runs errands so I have more time to paint?! Special thanks to Victoria Sparkes at batue rouge and Annie Sloan and her team for making days like this possible.

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***On a side note: when ever possible, match your gelato to your outfit . 

Easy Rhubarb Tarts

Rabarber_Toertchen_2804If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it… exactly 11 times, (since I started writing the recipe post for Coop@home over at www.LivinginLuzern.info) their recipe section is easy to make! These easy rhubarb tarts are no exception. To start, find the list of ingredients here, and the recipe here. Im not even jokin y’all – I made these twice in twenty four hours- they’re that good!


Confession: This southern girl had never cooked with rhubarb. It’s just one of those exotic yankee ingredients that grows up north in cold weather.  I can whip up a batch of okra blindfolded, but I had no idea what to do with a raw stalk of rhubarb… until today! 


chopped rhubarb

I weighed out my Rhubarb so that I could follow the recipe with exactness, but you don’t have to. You can use 2-3 stalks of rhubarb. Chop it up a little and put it in a small saucepan with the water and syrup. Let it cook till softened. Meanwhile make the tart shells be cutting out circles in the prepared dough and fitting them to your muffin tin, small bite-sized ones are really cute but I prefer the normal sized ones that hold more filling.

dough

Make sure to poke holes in the bottom of the crust so that the pie shells don’t bubble up. You can also purchase pre-baked pastry shells at Coop (if you live in Switzerland) so I am sure you can find this stuff locally anywhere in an English speaking country.

pastry shells

Once the filling is cooked till soft, strain it through a sieve, extracting the syrup and leaving the warm soft rhubarb to fill the pastry cups.

strain rhubarb

Finally, reduce the left-over syrup by boiling it for some minutes until you have about 2 1/2 tablespoons left. Whip cream and add the syrup for a light tangy pink cream to top the tarts with. Don’t forget to garnish by sprinkling on the chopped pistachios, the color contrast makes them look more appetizing and beautiful.

I was impressed at how little sugar is actually added to these tarts, especially because Rhubarb can be quite sour. I think the creaminess of the whipped cream helps tame the tartness of the filling. And because they were practically “healthy” we all helped our selves to seconds! These little guys are always so helpful like that.

kids love tarts

 

Last Minute Mothers Day Gift Idea- repost

2mothers-day-all-in-one-1024x778This idea was originally posted in may 2013, not long after we moved to Switzerland. We had such fun doing this photoshoot in front of our apartment (and in front what seems like 1/2 the village). I remember thinking “if they thought we were strange before, what on earth must they think of us now?”. So I am reposting this idea because it deserves a few more views and because I LOVE it so much!

If you waited till the last minute, gather up the family and use your iPhone to take some photos, send them digitally and let the mothers in your life de-scramble the message?

Happy Mothersday!