Blog Archive

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Years ago I dabbled in portrait photography, using the skills I had for candid moments and got a few "clients" or my friends who were kind enough to let me use them as my learning curve and contemplated making it into a real business.  In the end I decided not to, there was enough creative leeway for me and it often frustrated when I would show people my work which was all candid moments and then when we went to do the shoot they wanted posed perfection.  Something, I am not a big fan of.  This was my type of photography.  Let me follow your kids around and see what I can come up with.  This image is of my girls 14 years ago, before digital.


I worked with two great photographers in those years of finding my way, one was Sena Zimmer in Glendora and the second as a second camera for her weddings ,was Florence Helmburger out of Altadena, CA.  I did this up until I was pregnant with my third child and son Carson.  Then I called it quits and stayed home with all three of our kids.

After Carson was born I still had the itch though, to get my work out there, practice my skill not lose my photographic touch.  I kept documenting my life and my circus I found myself raising...

This was taken with a PentexK1000 camera with Ilford XP2 film.  The flash is a bit harsh but the image priceless and no it was not posed.  I was in the office when Eric shouted to me, you might want to grab your camera and come here in the bathroom.  Carson was using his pretend razor he got for Christmas.  Once again I was grateful for the gift of capturing such moments.


Soon after this was taken I came up with the idea of starting a greeting card line, only I would have my cards printed on 100% pcw recycled paper.  It didn't matter the cost, I was making a difference.  I was excited and optimistic.  I, not being savvy in the business department at the time, had several of my images printed on cards in bulk to save money.  My husband tried to talk me out of it, but I heard it more as he was trying to keep me in the home and less about the practical side of inventory and have a cash flow.  Like most lessons I learn them but blazing forward and making my mistakes.  I managed to get my very small card line in two local stores and was elated.  However, I had 100 of each of my 12 cards and was beginning to tire of seeing the same cards over and over and over again.  Then the economy crashed...when times are tough people don't go out and buy cards.

Fast forward many years and as life would have it that dream did not fade, it has waited patiently and I find myself  resurrecting it.  My Mishka Greetings.  Mishka, why Mishka?  It is a nickname I have had for years.  When you have a common name and know several people who share the same name sometimes other's simply want to use a nickname, that's where Mishka comes in.  My rainbow flying friend Kat started the name and it has stuck ever since.

So with a blog design update happening as we speak, an Etsy site to feel the waters, and I now have a studio in which I can work in that dream is resurfacing with a passion.  One of the biggest challenges in this process, however was to have my family adjusting to me not being as available to their every whim and lost sock!  Then it was showing my husband that I can, in fact make money.  In the next coming months I will have more to offer on my Etsy site, you will see more of my branding style in the Knot Too Shabby store. (Not that she needs help with branding... that girl is on fire, but more to compliment what she already has going).

Today I am grateful for the Evolution of my growth, years ago I wanted it all immediately.  But some things are far greater and make a much bigger impact, when savored with what, only time can season with.  If I could go back I would whisper in my ear, "Its ok, your dream is simply growing you just don't see it yet.   Be where you are for this too will change."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My work...

As I move forward with my business I wanted to get an image that reflects the variety of my work and some of the image transfers I have done so far.  An overview if you will.  I even tested out my video Vine skills and did a couple of Vines for my personal facebook page.  These pieces are in front of the chalkboard calendar I made out of my Repurposed door to my studio. Because there was some termite damage we had to repair the size of the door jam changed and we needed a new door and new door jam to replace it.
These are all made from salvaged wood I have collected on the curbside, or was donated to me.  All Repurposed wood.  All Repurposed Awesome!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Road trip...

The mission... to get my daughter Taylor to her new college for orientation.  It was my turn, you see Eric had taken her to registration earlier in the spring, so now I was to take her.  For some crazy reason we had decided NOT to fly, but chose to drive instead.  I had always loved road trips and this one was not unfamiliar to me. I mean think about it. What better way to see a good portion of California and Oregon, right?  The challenge however, was that in between the time of planning the trip and us about to leave for it we both for various reasons had to be back right after her orientation.  No stopping and seeing family or sight seeing visiting favorite destinations. No, as soon as it was over we were blazing back home.  This of coarse made it less about the journey and more about the destination which is not my preferred way of traveling.  We made the most of it, however and I did manage to get in a few great photos.

Our first major stop was San Francisco, La Boulange to be exact.  We had heard that Starbucks was beginning to add its pastries to our local stores and they were in fact based in SF.   So why not? What better way to get the truth but go to the source and see what all the fuss is all about?  Believe you me we now know why!

Thinking that we could avoid any major traffic we pulled into town just after noon.  However, not used to driving its streets and remarkably attached to my daughters iPhone GPS, the one way streets kept me driving in circles until at last I found our destination.  (To be honest this is something I do anyway with or without a GPS to argue with!)  I could get lost in a fishbowl!





By the time we entered La Boulange we were starving and needing a rest room desperately.  Luckily they had both.  We ordered a few pastries to go, a dessert or two and lunch as well.  We can honestly say we know why Starbucks is loving La Boulange.  I was reminded of our vacation in Paris with one bite.


So after getting our fill it was time to get on the road, so we made our way to the car and beat the traffic...or not.


This took some time to get through and back to the interstate 5!!

The rest of the way is a blur of passing cars, stopping at various gas stations and rest stops, and eating way too much junk food to pass the time.  Not to mention the in and out of static radio stations to add ambiance for the drive.  

As we got closer to our evening destination Taylor realized we were about to pass through a town she had only seen on a t-shirt... Weed, California.  Yes its a real town and yes she bought the "I heart Weed" t-shirt and various souvenirs for her and her friends back home.



After Weed the last part of the drive was magical and we were moved by the incredible sunset that began to unfold.  I was reminded of God's canvas and thanked him for the ability to see and appreciate his artwork.


Or as my youngest daughter when she was little use to say whenever she saw the sun peeking through the clouds like this, "Look Mommy, its God."

Yes I took these while driving...is that wrong?

Seriously...GORGEOUS!

The next morning we ate at hit the road as soon as we could.  We eventually did arrive at her campus and the landscape changed dramatically.  I love the greens of Oregon!

Seriously where did the time go?  When did she become a young woman?

After she signed up for her classes, got her roommate, took her testing and got a feel for her new campus the time had come to hit the road again...only this time we had a lot of smoke filled skylines.


Fires had broken out in Southern Oregon and all throughout California on the drive home.

Lastly every once in a while you see a photo but don't have the means to take it at the time.  If you are lucky you have the opportunity to return to take it.  This was that photo for me, this sign. I saw it on the way up, but couldn't stop to take it at the time.  On the way home however, I told Taylor to please help me keep an eye out for it.  To my utter delight we didn't miss it and had time to pull over so I could take this photo.

The funny part was that after I had gotten out of the car and walked a little closer to get the right angle for my photo it suddenly occurred to me what this sign was actually saying.  Just then I said a little prayer, "Please don't let me go out like this..." and ran back to the car.

We have been back for a couple of days now and recuperated from our long drive.  My digestive system has even recovered from its over indulgence of chips and gas station beef jerky.  There is so much to see in between and through out both states,but I prefer a slower pace with time enough to really soak in what it is I am seeing and experiencing.  Next time...hopefully.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm a little bit country...

When I was a kid growing up I use to watch The Donny and Marie show and wouldn't miss an episode.  Now to some, I may be dating myself, but if you know me at all, you know I am proud to be as old as I am. I've earned this age and I think its about time woman embrace the age they are and stop buying into the incredible media pressure to stay twenty... but that's a different soap box for a different time.  So anyway, as I was saying I use to watch Donny and Marie show and one of my favorite parts was when they would sing, "I'm a little bit country..." and "I'm a little bit rock n roll."  So why the flashback... truth be told, I find this sentiment to really represent me in my life.  There are parts of me that love the open spaces, big beat up barns and old dirt roads and I turn my head in adoration whenever a beat up old truck drives by.  Then there is the part of me that is as my grandmother-in-law once described me as the, "city girl".   The love of culture and museums, expensive coffee and an appetite for quality cuisine and the hustle and bustle that a city can have.

My first flight on a plane I was headed to a Washington D. C.  What a shock that was, from Salem, Oregon to Washington D.C at 19.  Most my adult life I have lived in the suburbs of  major cities.  I've lived in Washington D.C, New York, Auckland, New Zealand, and have raised my family in Los Angeles, California.  I love the melting pot, and cultural soup that a huge city can offer, but I also don't like to be immersed in it on daily basis.  I like to have it  just close enough so that I can take mini adventures into it and find my way back home to digest it all.

These days however, I seem to be craving more country.  Long drives in open land.  I am drawn to flea markets and rustic wood, nostalgia, ephemera, vintage everything and a simpler life.  Setting down roots is no longer threatening to me, funny as that sounds but its a huge part of my own inner journey to being comfortable with life's choices.  The idea of settling in one place seemed to at one time represent that I was giving up on the adventure of life.  Little did I know I was actually creating a magnificent for my children as well as for us to thrive in.



So in this rustic country phase in my life and am in a sense returning back home.  I am often reminded of summers at my Aunt Pats house.  She lived just outside the city limits in a town that was founded by the timber industry.    A little town known as Drain, Oregon.  She has recently sold the house but I was lucky enough to return to it year after year even in adulthood and bring my three children to swim in its creek, catch wild little frogs and take long walks to the only grocery store in town, simply with the goal in mind to get ice-cream. We would pick fresh apples and blackberries alongside the road as we ventured and watch the deer every dusk eat the fallen apples alongside their dirt road.



Well these days I live in the suburbs in a Mayberrish town and I love it.  I am in the house I hope to grow old in and finally after 20 years of living in Los Angeles I actually feel like I am home.  I am drawn to the rustic sheds that are found along the alleyways from when the town was founded and like my dear friend Michele Rivard will break for garage sales and look for treasures.

Having known her and watched her turn something overlooked into unique furniture pieces to adorn and transform a house into a home, with I now have an appreciation for specialty paints and their applications for various affects.  One I have mentioned on occasion is the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint but the other is a paint called Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint.

Now I have tried using this paint but I tell you this is where workshops come into play and are so valuable.  I can read the directions just like anyone else but its the hints and learning curve I want to learn from.  I wanted the chippy look ignored the directions and created the paint according the consistency I thought paint should be and I did NOT get the same results.

So with that I think I will more than likely stick to what I know and what I have time to learn how to do.  The thing about being a DIYer is that sometimes, we just don't know when to let others do it for us and stick to what we are best at and get more joy from.   I don't have to do it ALL myself.

Because its a cool product and I've seen how it can turn something drab into absolutely fab I made the sign for Michele at Knot Too Shabby here in Glendora, California.  The great thing about Michele's store is that not only does she sell the stuffs she teaches you how to use it and how to prep your piece to get the best results.

Here's her sign...




                                I may have been born in the city but in my heart grows country.




Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Weddings...

Pinterest has helped me fall in love with weddings again.  The decorations, the invitations, the photo shoots, the details, serious... the ENDLESS amount of details it takes to pull off a gorgeous wedding.  We all want gorgeous weddings...deep down, although at the time oh what 19 years ago it was my husband that wanted the fairytale wedding more than I did.  However,that's another story for another time.

So as I have been getting more and more into my image transfer process and thinking of unique ways to repurpose this crazy amount of wood I have collected over the past year.  Some of it just cries for a sign to be made.  Having just made Robbie's Summer Rules sign I was was wanting to make more signs. I've just waiting for the right one, when all of a sudden I get a phone call from a very sweet friend Lisa.  Turns out her best friend is getting married and was wondering if I could make her a sign for the wedding?  You betcha!  She had already picked out the sentiment, but the rest was up to me.

Here's my sign.  Turns out I want to do more of them and rent them out.  And so it begins...Wedding Props by Repurposed by Michelle E. Black.

Here's the sign, hopefully she'll send me a photo of it in the actual wedding so I can post that as well.
I had cut a shipping pallet in half and the easel my parents got at a garage sale!

Now off the table saw... before I lose daylight.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hermosa Beach, CA

Hermosa Beach, CA is a summer tradition of ours.  Every summer, for years now, we have come to stay at what we refer to as "the beach house".  Its in the family, well the extended family anyway.  Every winter I am oh-so-grateful that the "ladies" (my mother in law and her sister) make the  reservations for this co-op, awesome, family, home-away-from-home, so that this is a part of my children's childhood memories and my summer memories as well.

Its strictly woman and children who come with us on these trips these days.  It seems the men were voted out years ago and with the exception of my son, we kind of like it that way.  We take over the house for a week, planning easy meals, ice cream for dessert, and plenty of laughter. In the evenings after a walk to the pier, you can find us at the dining room table playing board games, laughing and poking fun at each others answers, sometimes with the rules, and sometimes not- so- much! 

There is an ease and a comfort in our vacation routine.  Its easy and we like it like that.  We are slow to rise and our mornings feel like a real vacation.  There's no rushing to get to whatever adventures that are conjured out of boredom and no pressure to make a dinner we don't have the energy to make.  We don't feel the need for too many activities and if we have spent a good few hours reading magazines and diving into a good book it is an afternoon well spent in our eyes. The TV isn't always blaring which truthfully is something that is music to all of our ears.  When the need to be antisocial hits there are enough corners in this vintage boarding house where privacy isn't an issue.  Then in a short time we emerge and are pleasantly rested and ready to play well with others again. 
Our routine goes something like this, after what seems that everyone has risen, toasted themselves a bagel and we have had our second cup of coffee, we start THINKING about getting dressed for a day at the beach.  Usually that's around 11 or so, once the clouds have burned off, and the summers sun is out to greet us.  If its later in the summer we don't have the marine layer as much and could technically start our day much earlier, but we don't.  Once it is felt all around it is time to hit the beach, we pull out the sandwich meats, cheeses, bags of chips, fruit and cookies with each our own paper bags and EVERYONE packs their own lunches, even the kids.  Then the sunscreen is sprayed, beach bags packed,  and flip flops are on, we start making the three block trek down the sand and lifeguard station one.  With boogie-boards in tow, a shovel and bucket for sand crabs, we make our way to edge of sand, just above where the tides have formed a slight ledge and plant our chairs close enough to see our own children at the waters edge.  




At the end of the day we head for a walk on the pier and look down to what are other's are doing on the very beach we had spent the afternoon on.










The girls are older now, craving even tan lines and littler and littler bikinis than the previous summer.  There is a sense of pride I feel for them, for they work so hard in their various sports and have earned the right to show off their lean and strong bodies,  yet I am often pulled by strong, protective instinct to shield the eyes of what seems to be droves of creepy onlookers at any given time.  I have adapted though... sort of... but let the girls know, that not everywhere are people so comfortable with so much skin.  One person missed on this trip was my oldest daughter...she now has a job...how fast things change and I am not always prepared for them.