Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I hope everyone's holidays were wonderful, and that you will have memories to last till next year.  Unless you just ate too much food and were glad to see the relatives go home.

I had to work my day job through the holidays but things were low key around here, so no one missed me.  My days off came two days after xmas and it has been a vacation!  Well, not the sun tan and iced tea kind, but any time off is a holiday for me.

I have given my house a "clutter-ectomy"!  I have been cleaning out drawers, cupboards, closets, and shelves.  I have several boxes of stuff for donation, and organized the rest of it in to plastic bins, drawers and cubby holes.  I rearranged one small room just for the craft supplies and tools I use indoors.

In the dining room I cleared out the space under the counter where the recycle bins, deck chair cushions and other clutter used to be.  I added the portable cabinets you see in the photo and can store things inside - out of sight!

On the counter I placed two matching shelf units for books.  The huge wall mirror takes up a ridiculous amount of space, but it will stay for now - makes the room look bigger anyway.  I can still use the counter top where you see my bread machine, and eventually I will place the toaster oven, blender and juicer there.

While it's not a remodel project, it was a major reorganization and I will not show you before pictures of the clutter and dark rug that were there, but it was a feat.
The best part of this project was that it cost me nothing - nada.  I already had the cabinets and shelving.  I just needed a little elbow grease and a lot of inspiration!

What after holiday projects are you working on?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Plans for the New Year!

(imported from my former photo blog)
I have emerged from my meditations and marketing courses and books with a new vision!  2012 will be the beginning of a new trend in marketing for me, perhaps in creativity as well. 

I am beginning 2012 with four new series of limited edition prints.  I know you photographers gasp when thinking of "limiting" anything we do, but alas, I feel the time has come.  When they sell out, I will just have to create something new! 

I am limiting these to 100 per image, any size.  I know, risky, but what fun!  Of course I may also be laughing at the end of the year when some of them don't sell, but that's the fun of it I think.  Everyone likes something different, and I am always intrigued at what my public likes.

So I will be getting these up sometime in January, available only here on the blog, so stay tuned.  I first need to get the Girasole page up, which is coming,  am just waiting for a few new prints to arrive so I can photograph them.

Meanwhile, you can still purchase greeting cards of the limited edition prints on my site at Fine Art America, .

The series are:  1) The New World.  2) Pop Series.  3) Looking Glass Series  4) 2012 Series.

Have a terrific holiday everyone and a successful new year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Art & Photography Part II

(imported from my former photo blog)
Upon further reflection from my first post on this subject, I have more to say about this.
 I'm thinking the mediums need sub-mediums.  Let's explore them just in photography.

At one point I was calling my work Evolution Medium while I was creating the 2012 Series.

These images literally evolved from my original photographs.  I would add color, effects, more color, more effects, until I got something I really liked.  Perhaps it was the dark days of winter that lead me to this, but the end result was a collection of light and color that intrigued me.

Another project I created was The New World series.  In these I would keep as much of the original image as I could so it would be recognizable to some degree by the viewer, then I just added distortion effects.
Like this one:

The scenes are realistic but they still have movement.

A good picture is just a pretty scene until you overhaul it.  Having said that, many viewers prefer a pretty scene, and there are some amazing ones out there!

So maybe that pretty landscape is realism and the tweaked post production is abstract; creating the art after the image.

So what do we call these new mediums?  And who are we, the ones creating it?  Are we artist-photographers, or photography-artists?  Are we digital artists?  Or post production artists?  Edit-artists????  I welcome some feedback on these ideas or if you have found yourself in a similar quandary..

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Pioneer Holidays

This year I am advocating minimalism.  Not the fun or the magic, just the stuff.

I am using the same artificial tree I have always used, rotating the ornaments (I have several sets to choose from), putting up a few of my favorite decorations and only buying gifts for the grand-kids.

Outside I have a few fun things I like to put up every year too.

My favorite decorations are my hippie Santa I've had for years, my ceramic lighted tree that is now 35 years old and my elf that is now 50 years old (doesn't he hold his looks well??)

I hang the holiday cards from a jute cord along the ceiling beam.  This way I can just keep adding to the row.

I think the important thing to remember is that this is a holiday of many faiths, traditions and beliefs, but we can all celebrate it together in our individuality.

I especially look forward to the winter solstice!  A very magical time for plants and wildlife.  This is my new year, a time I put troubles behind me and look to the future.  Not to mention the days start getting longer and more light is always appreciated!

What are your traditions for this time of year?

Return of the Hand Written Note

(imported from my former photo blog)
The rebel in me wants to title this:  Ban E-Cards!  But I thought a more diplomatic approach might be best.  What I really want to say is "Please buy real holiday cards this year - preferably locally, and by artists".

I think this is one terrific way to stimulate the economy.  Look at how many people benefit (profit) from this gesture.  Paper suppliers, printing companies, the postal service, and most importantly the artists who created the images!

Just think, you buy the cards, use your own handwriting to communicate to family and friends, put a stamp on it and mail it yourself.  What a service!

We are all so automated these days;  texting, emailing, anything that will free up our time.  I get that, but what about the personalization of a real tangible card, hand written by you?  What does that say about you?  That you care enough to send the very best - or however that phrase goes.  You care enough to take that time for that person or business to say, hey, I'm thinking of you.

I also think this is a perfect holiday for real artist made cards.  Make them yourself!  Or buy from an artist you know.  I am using my own images this year, a great personal gift of my art, a 5x7 card that can be framed!  The gift of art with a personal message, not to mention a great marketing tool.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Infra-Red Photography

(imported from my former photo blog)
I recently acquired a new accessory, an infra-red filter for my digital SLR.  What a fun toy!  (I amuse easily). 

I followed the instructions from my favorite book written especially for my camera;  "Nikon D40 / D40X Digital Field Guide", by David D. Busch.

A little tricky as you are literally shooting blind, the filter is black - and nothing is what you see through the view finder.  It's OK, I've had years of film photography, which is kind of similar in that you don't know what you're getting till the film is developed, relying solely on your technical capabilities.  

I tried several long exposures on the tripod out in the front yard.  I set up the image and focused it before attaching the filter.  Luckily, digital cameras have a viewing screen which gave me the feedback I needed to proceed further.

Of all the images, this one stood out for me, was in focus and a good example of the filters performance.

This is the initial image, in the camera at 8 seconds.  I had to convert it to grayscale in the computer software to achieve the next step.

Which is this.  I think it's kind of fun.  Black sky, luminous evergreens.  No other post production, but I am tempted to play with the contrast.

Disclaimer:  This is in no way intended as a technical explanation of infrared photography, or a tutorial, only my brief experiment with it.

Art & Photography Part I

(imported from my former photo blog)
Are you an artist?  Are you a photographer?  Are you an artist-photographer?  I have been thinking about this for years.  I see some assumptions by art lovers that art is a painting or sculpture, for instance, and photography is a portrait or landscape. 
It's much deeper than that however.  With the dawning of digital photography came post production editing and manipulation.  Now the photographer is an artist.  How do we fit in?  What do we call ourselves? 

We have to be gentle with the masses, for they know not what we do.  Let them admire our works and contemplate how we did it, but don't be discouraged by their lack of knowledge.  There are still a lot of people who don't even know how to use the computer, let alone the functions of PhotoShop. 

Perhaps we can just revel in our mystery.  Although it might not be a bad idea to have some kind of explanation about how we came to the finished product.  Keep it brief though, as the attention span is limited.

I do think we need more labels, however, subcategories for our mediums.  I believe any kind of creativity qualifies one as an artist - "one who creates art" as Webster's New Dictionary defines it.  So perhaps we can find our own labels within the generalities.

An example of this is my beloved "Girasole" image.  This has been admired and purchased as cards, prints and on metal.

This image is first a photograph, later digitally manipulated with color and layers. 
Perhaps it is the happiness of a sunflower that attracts people, or the use of color.  All I know is that it makes people feel good.  Which is why I create anything in the first place, because it makes me feel good.

It's a fantastic time to be an artist, we are everywhere, recording and creating and sharing our vision with the world.  The internet has allowed us to share our work with the entire planet!  Our success is unlimited!

So am I an artist?  Or photographer?  I prefer artist-photographer.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Outta My Tree

(imported from my former photo blog)
Oh the things that obsess the creative mind. 
I took the camera out recently to experiment with the settings.  (I have had it for years and am still figuring it out!).  I had some good challenges for color this day.  I shot the fall leaves, blue sky, white clouds and reflecting water.  After about 86 frames I was burned out.  But, I got some interesting perspectives.

These are totally organic, no post processing or tweaking.  I did however use all manual settings, color, black and white, and some for vivid color. 
I'm trying to learn how to think "digital".  I'm such an old school film buff, still living in the dark ages I guess.
Next experiment is with infrared.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Windows and Doors

One of the best things you can do when you adopt your new retro trailer or mobile home is to upgrade those windows!  These old homes are about as warm as a bread box come winter, so this is a priority.

The easiest way is to retro-fit them;  replacing the existing windows with windows of the exact same size.  In this case the previous owner found windows that were a bit smaller but did some creative compensation on trim design for the final look.  I highlighted the design with accent paint.

Ultimately you want double pane vinyl windows, and some that open.

On the inside you can trim them out any way you like.

Doors are important as well.  These can easily be obtained from recycle building supply stores by the way, as can the windows.  Great discounts there, while still getting a quality item.

This is my front entrance door, beautifully simple with a lovely glass design.

It's creative to integrate the old and unique in to your retro style home.  You can stick with the traditional things that fit the time era of your place, or you can just go whimsical and fun, adding whatever you like.

This round window in my front porch / mudroom really adds creativity to my place.  It's not really a window either!  It was a single pane of glass attached to the inside wall.  The porch is not insulated so this concept works fine for a creative look.

My outside door is an old wooden door with the glass still in tact.  I plan to add an antique glass door knob there.

While it is fun to integrate the old and unique, remember to use energy efficient doors and windows where most needed.

I welcome all comments and questions, so feel free to post here!  As always, thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dickie Head Case

What?  I'm sure you all think I have lost my mind - but hear me out.
Between the house projects I have been playing with recycling ideas for clothing.  So in the spirit of the New Pioneer Style, I have come up with one more way to use those old t-shirts!

As you know I first started using the bottom half of the shirts to make a circular scarf, hand dyed and 100% cotton - bonus.  (For sale here on the blog!)

Now, I give you the sleeves - yes, I said sleeves.  I have taken the larger sizes, kept their shape and created a double function head scarf (bandana style) and neck scarf, warmer, etc.

I give you - The Dickie Headcase.

Remember the Dickie?  You might have to be a Boomer to remember them, but I have fond memories of those turtlenecks that you could wear under anything.  I liken this one to more of a lightweight neck warmer.

I of course dyed these in all my favorite colors;  teal blue, deep purple, bronze and dark green.

I was wondering if there was a market for these.  I plan to wear them in the garden, with t-shirts in the summer, or to accent any other New Pioneer outfit I have.
I also thought these would be great for those with dreadlocks, making them a unisex item! 

Have you got any ideas on other ways to wear them?  Please share! 


Friday, November 11, 2011

Retro Trailer Addition

For those of us who love our retro style trailers and mobile homes, there comes a time when more space is needed!  Fortunately for me, my place already had a terrific addition built on when I bought the place.

This is a 8'x24' addition that is built off one side of the trailer - I call it the back.  The interesting thing here is that the roof line was extended from the roof-over structure, keeping the pitch the same (see photo below).

By the way, a roof-over is a must have with these old places.  When built to code, they are extremely sturdy and last forever.  The beams are cemented in the ground.

This addition allows you to have a wood structure that you can insulate and install upgraded windows and electrical, adding warmth and efficiency.

On the inside you have full creative license to do whatever you want.  In this case of course, the previous owner went for off-white paint and wood trim. 
The section here in the photograph is just the living room portion, 12'x8'.  It's a perfect addition to the existing living room which would be really small without it since it is a single wide mobile.
The other 12'x8' section of the addition is a small room with big windows that I use for the bedroom, very cozy.

This structure is insulated, with drywall and flooring.  I love the many windows which let in so much light!

On the other side a front porch was built, which I call the mud room.  It is actually not attached to the trailer at all, just the beams and roof.  I loved the round window!

This look gives an old trailer a lot of character, besides the extra room!!
I hope this has inspired you with ideas for your own retro trailer.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Journal Therapy

Clarity, direction, purpose, seem more important now than they ever have been.  Making decisions, completing important tasks, communicating effectively, are all part of our daily life.
It's important to feel as though you are making a difference and fulfilling your dreams.

This is why I journal.  I write about my day, my feelings, my desires, my mistakes.  Here is where I can be completely honest about anything.  No one else will read these words, it is a safe place for me to express myself.

I believe there is great therapeutic value in keeping a journal.  I have been doing it steadily for about 6 years.  My life was falling apart around me and I needed a safe place to express myself.  My journal welcomed me with a vow of silence, never to repeat my innermost feelings.

This is sanity maintenance, something you can do whenever you have the free time, somewhere safe you can go to express yourself.
I have found all my answers through journaling.  It's meditative.  I can work out issues, document events, and get a different perspective.  I can solve problems, record dreams, make plans.

I like structure so I write every morning about the previous day.  Once a year, usually on the winter solstice, I read back over the previous year's entries.  You can gain valuable insight into yourself with this practice!  I have discovered behavioral patterns and even seasonal ones.

There are many types of journals, and you will know what works best for you.  More ideas on this subject can be found at .

As always, I am interested in your feedback!  What have been your journal experiences?  How has it helped you?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall into Winter

Winter / Storm prep tips.

While it's a little early to be thinking about snow here in the Pacific Northwest, it is not too early to prepare for it! 
Women on their own must look out for themselves and be prepared for anything - because anything can happen.  I have been through many major storms here and been trapped for weeks, both at home and away from home.

I now have a preparation ritual.  In the Fall (sometimes sooner) I start thinking about what I need to do, from gathering supplies to making preparations.
Supplies always include extra canned and dry goods, anything I can cook or prepare on a camp stove should the power be out.
Preparations include winterizing the house.  Wrapping outside pipes, putting up heavier curtains inside.
I even pack an overnight bag that I keep in my car should I get stuck away from home. 

I always make sure I have a flashlight and extra batteries, several small propane tanks, lanterns and oil, matches and ground coffee!  Until they design a battery operated coffee grinder, this is a staple for me!  Of course a small drip coffee one-cupper and cone shaped filters must be included.
[ update:  I found a hand grinder!  No batteries or electricity required!)

Other useful things would be a couple of bags of ice in the freezer, so when the power goes out it keeps the food cold.  One year it was so cold outside that I just put the food out there.
Extra containers of water may be necessary if your water comes from an electric pump,  and did I mention candles?  Lots of them.

Obviously I have a back up heating system that doesn't require electricity.  I have a wonderful wood stove.  It is actually my primary heat source. I get my fire wood in the summer, stacked, cured and covered by Sept.

Keep the gas tank full in the car and the snow shovel by the front door.  Have a corded phone to plug in to the jack should the power go out.  Cordless phones are useless without power.
Up until about a year ago I didn't even have a cell phone, but now that I do, I keep that charged up.  While I don't get service here at my house, at least I can use it in the car if need be.

So these are some of the things we can do to be prepared for a long winter living alone.
If you're on a budget like me, or just like to conserve your resources, we have to think outside of the box a little more, get creative and work with the resources you have.

I'm really quite content with my independent life, and grateful to have a sharp mind and willing spirit.  It just makes life so much more interesting.

If you have any tips you'd like to share on winter preparedness, please leave a comment!  I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scarf Ideas

OK, I promised to post some photo ideas for how to wear the new 100% cotton up-cycled scarves made from thrifted t-shirts.
For those you who haven't been following the posts, or are new to the blog, these scarves have been hand dyed and made from recycled white cotton t-shirts.  It's basically a no sew project that anyone can do.  Just cut off the bottom half of a t-shirt!

OK, starting off the fashion show with our glass head model (who is nameless right now), showing above is the bronze colored scarf dyed solid, which comes out marbled, wrapped twice around our models neck.  This is the most practical way to wear it.  They stretch well and are quite warm by the way!

This scarf is tie dyed by using a twist method.  I have wrapped it once around the neck and then over the head.  A little spooky looking on our model here, but you get the idea!

Now this is both of them together, intertwined.  On a real person they would hang down in front.  But this is an example of how to combine the two colors together.

I thought this version was really cute for a bad hair day.  Twisted, and wrapped twice around the head.

So those are the first few ideas I had on how to wear these.  They will be available for sale at the Wandering Wardrobe in Port Townsend after Tuesday Oct. 18th.  They sell for only $10 each!  The colors available now are the above bronze, amethyst (which is closer to hot pink), deep purple, dark green, new black, olive drab and teal blue.  There are about four of each color, two are solids and two are tie dyed. ( Please see the previous posts for photos of these colors.)

It's been really fun making them.  They tend to be unique unto themselves as they are all different sizes, lengths and weights.  Even the dye takes differently to some of them.
I hope you have enjoyed the process as much I have!

Visitors from the Forest

Mom raccoon and her two youngsters stopped by today.  They were so cute playing in the trees near the house.  Of course just earlier they were cleaning up the bird seed on the ground.

 Night before last the two kids were playing just outside my bedroom window on a branch.  I could hear them chattering to each other.  Probably daring the other to climb out on it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Encounters Along the Hood Canal

While I was at a clients house this week I was delighted to spot this lovely ship heading out of the canal.  This is the Thomas G Thompson.  What a treat it was to get a couple of nice photos of it.

It reminded me of the year I was a stringer for the local paper, writing about the events and scenery of the Hood Canal.  This ship came through then, and I wrote a small piece about it.  So I dug it up (all writers keep all their stuff) to attach here.

It further gave me the idea to give new life to those articles here on New Pioneer!  So in the coming weeks and months I will sort through them and share with you.

So for this weeks post, here is the article I did on this pretty little ship. 

Oceanography Students on the Canal

Monday morning, October 25th, the R/V Thomas G. Thompson could be seen cruising through the Hood Canal on calm waters. The University of Washington’s School of Oceanography students were collecting sediment samples as part of an undergraduate program being conducted by Professor Rick Keil.

Oceanographer and Manager of Oceanography Technical Services, James R. Postel, said the students were also collecting water column samples and learning how to analyze for dissolved oxygen. “Hood Canal is of great interest to the students because of the well publicized low oxygen levels often encountered there.” He added.

Owned by the US Navy, and part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System fleet, the 274-foot vessel was built for the sole purpose of implementing scientific research and is operated by the School of Oceanography, University of Washington.
Funding for the ship time is provided to the School of Oceanography for student teaching support by the state.
Mr. Postel says the vessel will be leaving Hood Canal Tuesday morning and returning to the UW.  Another group of students will be taking part in a similar cruise near Edmonds at the end of the week.

Copyright Jeni Gray 2004(original draft)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I have decided to merge the two blogs!  New Pioneer Style is moving in.
I have imported the posts - so don't freak out, it's still Diary of the New Pioneer, but along with New Pioneer Style news.

I realized how similar the two blogs are and it just made sense.  I'm all about sustainability, recycling, re-using, re-purposing, and up-cycling.  Why not just make things simpler and merge.

I will be merging more of the content from NPS here in the side columns and (hopefully) streamlining and simplifying the content.

Thank you for your continued support!  Now you will enjoy even more content under one blog.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Scarf Colors

Some of you were asking for more photos for detail on these up-cycled scarves.

Shown in these two photos are size and color variations - so far.  I am getting ready to make a few more so that there will be about four in each color (both solid and patterned).

They measure anywhere from 22 to 32 inches in length (doubled), are circular, and seamless.   They can be worn a variety of ways, which I will be posting soon as well.

As mentioned in previous posts, they are made from large white t-shirts purchased from thrift stores and hand dyed.

This first line will be available at The Wandering Wardrobe in Port Townsend after October 18th, and will retail for $10 each.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Scarves!

Finally!  Here are four of the 20 new scarves.  These are upcycled from pieces of white cotton t-shirts, and dyed.

I have been working like a maniac to get these done.  I have an appointment in Port Townsend in October at the Wandering Wardrobe where my dear friend Beverly has graciously invited me to show and sell these little gems.

Shown here are teal blue, amethyst, deep purple and new black.  I also have two shades of green and camel, not shown.

I need a name for them folks!  Any ideas?  Neck warmers comes to mind, but they can also be worn as a head scarf.  Please post all ideas.  Keep in mind they are true to the New Pioneer Style.

I have already made the first sale, right out of my studio.  I don't even have the labels made up yet.

These scarves are circular, can be wrapped once, twice, and some of them three times around.  They are soft cotton in scrumptious colors, and they retail for only $10 each!

I will make an announcement here when they are available at the Wandering Wardrobe.  Then my next goal will be to make them available on-line.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Pioneer Wheels

A friend of mine suggested I write about my recent experience searching for, and purchasing a new car.

Although I am fairly confident in most areas of my life, I did feel a bit of trepidation for this task.  I needed to research the vehicles, then decide what would work best for me, then of course, actually go out and purchase one!

I started with the research.  Luckily I found the April 2011 issue of Consumers Report magazine to be all about cars.  The reviews for the 2011's and extensive information on used cars.  I studied this for hours.  I already had in mind a few cars I liked, but read about all of the competitors as well.

Now here is where I may lose a few skeptics about mysticism and metaphysics, but I am willing to take that chance.  I meditated daily on this issue and instead of visualizing "the" car I wanted, I focused on the energy of the outcome;  the things I wanted and needed in a car. 
Where I live, city cars don't make the cut.  Here we need something that can handle hills, snow, rain and mud.  So it was important for me to look at the all wheel drives, clearance underneath, and versatility.  Of course price was key, so the fancy SUV's were out.

While I was in this process I saw many cars that caught my attention.  Here is where the "signs" of the process came in.  I was attracted to the Vibe, Matrix, Fit and Focus, all great cars. 
It took me a while to figure out that it was not the cars, but the names of the cars that were the signs!
So I "focused" on the "vibe" that would form the "matrix" to give me the perfect "fit". 

Of course by now it had been six months in to my research and I was pretty clear about what I needed.  One day in a parking lot I saw the Suzuki SX4 and was quite taken with it's hatchback, four doors and overall look.  It was of course on my list of best AWD small cars, but I wasn't convinced yet. 

As I continued my search I applied for financing online at both Honda and Toyota, but got no response, interesting.  Then I found a pre-owned SX4 online and applied there.  I got a response in 30 minutes via email and phone! 
It was a very pleasant experience from application to delivery.  By the way, I ended up with a 2011 SX4, as I just could not pass up the incredible warranties!!!

So the moral of the story is this.  One has to use more than your head smarts to make decisions and follow through.  A keen intuition, and trust of that intuition is vital.  You will know when you have made the right choice or decision, as it feels really good!

So here's the new vehicle for the new pioneer at retro retreat.

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