Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Sketching the Gulf Coast

Escaping New England's below freezing weather, husband and I head for Florida!

One mission is to find a place to rent for 2020. We want the gulf side, but haven't seen too much more than Venice FL where husbands Mom and Dad lived. We've been visiting Venice for 30 years!

After seeing other areas from Sarasota to Naples we ended up liking Venice the best. So we found a house to rent and will take our dog and cat with us next year!
 The islands, or Keys off Sarasota are lovely. Anna Maria Island was beautiful and we were lucky to get a great 80 degree day.

 Another mission was to lay Bills mom to rest. Her ashes have been hanging out on a shelf with our dogs and cats ashes for almost 3 years. She is finally at rest with her husband and daughter in Venice.

 The weather was pretty cold for 1/2 our visit. I had to buy polar fleece PJs to make it thru the cold snap. I had not packed for 40 degrees at night and high 50's during the day!

All in all a fabulous visit. We missed incredibly cold temperatures in Massachusetts and got to see alot more of FL than we had ever seen before.

Back home today the weather has been pretty good, in the 60's. Best of all we are back with our fur babies that missed us very much.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

20% off all art until August 2nd!

Baby Mandala. Personalize with babies name and date. 

Wedding Mandala. Personalize with bride and grooms names and date

Please visit us at
41 Main Street (Rt. 27)
Natick Center, MA
(508) 653-2526

Our Next Featured Artist is
Judith Moffatt - Illustrator, Author & Teacher
Take 20% off now through August 2

Save on Judith's mandalas, mandala coloring books,
posters & chicken pincushions!

 Judith Moffatt is an illustrator, teacher and crafts woman. She is the illustrator of over 50 books for children, and popular magazines including Highlights and Ranger Rick. Ms. Moffatt has taught Children's Book Illustration at Rhode Island School of Design and continues to present programs in the New England area to colleges, public & private schools, libraries and civic organizations.

Combining design, illustration and craft, Ms. Moffatt has self-published a series of Mandala coloring books and personalized art pieces. Each Mandala is created with an eye for detail and filled with symbolic meaning. Her latest passion for crafts has produced a plethora of whimsical pincushions with personality.


Five Crows Gallery & Handcrafted Gifts
41 Main Street (Route 27)
Natick Center Cultural District
email:  fivecrowsnatick@aol.com
(508) 653-2526

Sunday, July 22, 2018

My Garden

I adore my gardens. I should say OUR gardens as husband Bill provides most of the brawn that goes into their creation and maintenance. The shady Hosta Garden has three sections. Although not planned, the over all look is a big PEACE SIGN, with paths our dogs have created and we have added stones. Here's our new dog Ellie. We call her Ellie Font, she has very prominent ears.

This year we finished off the largest section. Next year we will attack the smallest  piece. 
The front garden is all sun, so this is where we can grow Day Lily, Balloon flower, Peony, Miniature Lilac, and Black Eyed Susan. All the gardens are lined with interesting rocks that I've collected since high school. I remember when I got my own home my mother said "and don't forget to take your rocks!"

Yesterday it was terribly hot and husband and I worked avoiding the sun. We were in a rush to finish as it will be raining here for three days. Perfect for a few of the plants I transplanted. One picture shows the bird bath, the other an overhead shot from the upstairs bedroom. 

This morning the rains began on schedule. The hanging plants are under the deck table so they don't drown, and Ellie is making a bee line for the door to get out of the rain. 
Hope when the sun shines later in the week we have time to get back to the garden. Working in the garden is so satisfying!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day Breakfast. Historical Destination.

Bill Hoffman proud Veteran
 Took my Vietnam Veteran Husband out to The Town Common Restaurant in Hopedale today to celebrate Memorial day. A young couple (who we didn't know) bought our breakfast! How nice was that? They left with out a word, we didn't get a chance to thank them

The Town Common is a new discovery for me. I am always in search of perfect breakfast spots and this one ranks high. The location, across from a park and beautiful old stone church is gorgeous. Breakfast is served on Fiesta wear in a variety of colors. You can watch the owner cook your delicious meal from and opening looking into the tidy kitchen, and the waitresses are amazing (one helpful gal helped me when I could not shut of the data sucking app Waze!)

Below is a bit of cool history about this scenic little town.

Outside Town Common
Hopedale Community a Utopian dream, becomes a self-contained Company Town

 Founded in in 1842 Adin Ballou and his followers purchased 600 acres of land on which they built homes for the community members, chapels and factories.
Ballou believed that he could create a Utopian community blending the features of a factory town with those of a religion-based commune. The community stood for temperance, abolitionism, women's rights, spiritualism  and education.

Fourteen years later the intentional community was converted into a textile factory town. The factories were purchased by George and Ebenezer Draper.

Inside Town Common. Refinished wood and brick.
The Drapers believed that good houses make good workers and created a model self-contained company town with one of the best collections of architecturally significant double houses in the country, built on hills and in valleys in garden settings which preserved the views. The company charged low rents, and provided high quality housing, impeccable maintenance and recreation opportunities. Workers left their handsomely designed duplex houses to walk to work, then left work to play in company parks or stroll along company streets.  

Side door leading into Town Hall. Stained glass windows not visible.
 The Town Common Restaurant is in the Town Hall. The architecture inside and out is grand. We drove around the town of well designed houses imagining what a great place it must have been for the factory workers of long ago.

The planned community with innovative 19th and early 20th century employee housing, remain essentially intact today.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Art Directors Visit

What FUN! I finally met Karen Lee, an art director I worked with on "Wild Animal Babies" put out by the National Wildlife Federation for many years.

Six years we produced an award winning section for the kids magazine that consisted of a poem, fingerplay and illustration. It was the best job I ever had. And one of the best Art Directors I ever worked with.

We had had great conversations about the work and other stuff long distance. Although we never met in person, I felt like I knew her like an old friend.

A couple weeks ago Karen, who lives in the DC area, came out to visit her Boston friends and I was lucky enough to be one.
We had tea and a yummy sticky bun that Karen brought us. She got to meet Bill and our new dog Ellie.  Then off we went to my  favorite new shopping stop, The Blessing Barn in Mendon MA. FOUR floors of consignment items!!! Dishes, clothing, furniture, housewares, instruments, records ...the list goes on. What a shop!

Karen got two dishes, and I got two giant brand new down filled couch pillows for a great price.

I have also donated quite a bit of crystal and china to this clean, well run store.
You know I can't resist a close look at the tea party stuff. this is just a little table...so much more.

We ended her visit at The Miss Mendon Dinner. An old dinning car that has been transported to the back of a car dealership. Excellent food. Homemade potato chips are the best!

I got to show Karen a bit of my world out in the country, before rushing her back to the train to Boston. And I do mean RUSH she was on the train 2 minutes before it pulled out Whew!!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sketches Doodles and Drawings

The opening of Sketches Doodles and Drawings was held on another of our wintry rainy Spring evenings, however, there was a great turn out!
I had a fine time talking about my beloved sketchbooks that I started making in high school.

Many of these these sketchbooks fill my bookcases at home. It's always a good time sharing the books and recalling some of the fun events that inspired the pages..

Artist Friends and FAN (Freelance Artists Network) members that exhibited and attended the show where Sandy Valpey Cordts (who gathered us all together), Erica Szoplat, Lesley Breen Withrow and Rob Dunlavey.

I brought the original sketch and color composition with notes that Highlights for Children art directors looked over before I created this cut paper Highlights cover.

It is a winter scene, but seeings as we just had flurries AGAIN yesterday it's looking seasonal!

If you have a chance to see the show, grab a postcard and find the 22 things wrong with the back cover. Remember doing this at the Doctors office? Thank goodness for Highlights For Children Magazine to keep us amused. This is one of six covers I created for them.

For sketches and doodles, I included the many changes that transformed the cover of the Simon and Schuster book "ABC Animals A Bedtime Story". Many changes were made on this cover along with the surprise flipped image when it went to press.

Mark Penta (artist for hire see his web site) was on hand creating excellent caricatures of the attendees. Here is the sketch he made of my friend Corey and myself.  Mark also had some of his work hanging in the gallery.

The show runs through April 23rd,  if you have a chance check it out. There are three other shows going on at the same time so there is plenty to look at.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Quilters SHOP HOP

Headed off on my second Shop Hop Friday morning with quilting friends Joyce and Pam. This is a yearly event that has been happening for about 6 years now. Our first stop on our Five Hop journey was Quilted Threads in Henniker NH. This is the biggest shop of all five, and I think it is my favorite. I was looking for more beautiful panels by illustrator Julie Paschkis. And I found them! A set of panels made for the four seasons (pictured below with the patterns). Unfortunately the winter season was sold out :(...of course it was my favorite.

 Each store serves delicious food, gives away a free pattern, has an on going demonstration, and passes out a free "Fat Quarter" of fabric. You can make a lot with a fat quarter (a 1/4 yard of fabric cut square instead of long).

So far I have added pillow covers to my list of things to make.

The next stop is The Red Barn Sewing and Yarn Center. This adorable little store boasts 4,5000 bolts of fabric. it is in Merrimac MA. Here I fall in love with some Laura Burch animal print fabric and get a coordinating print to go with it. Joyce promises to help me make a sewing tote.

The ladies here are very helpful. And they have a good bunch of sale fabrics.

Bunkhouse Quilt shop is next in Lydenborough NH. The owner and her husband have made the best displays and the food is great, Soup, crackers and cheese and homemade desserts.

I purchase a delightful fabric with a tea pot and cup pattern. I have a pattern at home for a tea cozy. This is the year I'll make it...I'm inspired!

On to Cobble Stone Quilts in Townsend MA. We listen to a talk on threads for the sewing machine. I am sold on Aurifil, a 100 Egyptian Cotton. The woman has close up pictures of
competing threads showing lots of hairs that will clog your sewing machine.
Look at the cute pattern for the Hawaiian shirt square. Husband wears shirts like this, maybe I should make something incorporating this idea.

Last stop is the Quilted Crow in Bolton MA. Here we "Graduate" from the school house Shop Hop and get a prize. We are also entered into the grand prize drawing, a $75 gift certificate from each of the 5 stores! and a punch card that saves us %20 on anything we purchase May-June.

We had lunch in Henniker at a great restaurant called Daniels on the water. Very relaxing, pretty view, good food.

 I try to dress in the colors of the School house bags. Last year was turquoise, this year was lavender. Easy for me! How long does a trip like this take? We left Medway at 10:00  AM and got back at 6:00 PM. A full day of fun! Can't wait for next year (or to win the grand prize and go back to visit all the stores again.