September 27, 2011

A day at the Afton, Art in the Park

Fall in Minnesota means 'Fall Festival" time.  And that is exactly what I, and a couple of family members did this past weekend.  The City of Afton held its 33rd annual "Art in the Park".  Afton is a quaint little turn of the century town, composed of shops, restaurants, a marina and a museum.  Located on the St. Croix River and just minutes from interstate 94 in St. Paul/Mpls.  The town has a nostalgic feeling of having just "stepped back in time."  The festival is held in the park, and features over 70 craft vendors, showcasing fine art, jewelry, photography, ceramics, traditional crafts and more.  After a quick stop for mini donuts we headed into the Art Fair.  Artist and Crafters were out in full force with some totally amazing pieces.

Customers, Helen Knoedl and daughter
Tricia, Debra's in the back
  One artist, Debra Caserotti's displayed the most beautiful wall art quilts I have ever seen. Debra started "Quilt the Walls" in 1997.  Rather than make traditional quilts she creates landscape art quilts for your walls.  The landscapes are created with unusual batiks, hand-dyed fabrics, screen prints & painted with color crayon skies.  You can see more of her work at  

Julie and her jewelry creations

Julie's object...a darling turtle
 Then we met Julie Johnson from "Feat of Clay"  Julie creates Jewelry and Objects in Polymer Clay.  About 80 percent of her creations are art jewelry, but her kaleidoscope's, bottle stoppers and the array of sculptural pieces were most impressive.  Each piece is individually made with a unique design and composition.  It was so exciting spending time with Julie as she shared her processes and techniques with onlookers.  She is an artist of passion and it really comes out in her work. If you would like to read more she has a wonderful web site at 

 Strolling on, out of the corner of my eye,  glistening in the sun, was some of the most incredible beaded jewelry pieces I have ever seen.  Marti Johnson of MLJ Designs displayed a wide variety of gems, art glass, silver and gold, roman glass, African, antique buttons, Italian glass, and beautifully beaded flowers.  Marti  has been a full-time artist  for 18 years.  She travels all over to present her work, and you won't want to miss her next month in Stillwater, Mn.
Laura Christensen
Captain Kevin
I can't review an Art Fair without a visit with a "Potter" And I did just that.  Laura Christensen creates functional and decorative pottery in her studio in St. Paul Mn  She is a thoughtful potter and creates thoughtful pieces.  You can reach her on her web site  And if you're really into pottery, don't forget to stop by Mudslingers Pottery just north of town.  Captain Kevin has an inviting tent just outside his studio where you can purchase functional ware, such as, cups, bowls, plates, serving dishes and other useful items.  And, if you would like to create your own piece, he holds classes and private workshops at his studio on the corner of Stgecoach Trail and St. Croix Tr.  Look him up  for more information.
Ed & Eileen Kohn
There were so many great artists at this event that I could go on and on and on.  I don't want to end this blog without telling you about a couple of artists that we are highlighting in our artist interviews in October.  Ed & Eileen Kohn are local crafters that live right in Afton.  Each November they hold a craft fair in their home.  What a delightful couple and you won't want to miss out on this, so I will update you in October as to what to expect at their sale.  Also I met the Monya, she creates original velvet pumpkin decorations. Each one is hand-crafted and comes complete with a real stem from a pumpkin, gouard or squash.  I have my very own one sitting right here next to my computer and I love it!  Monya and her pumpkins have been published in several magazines, and is working on something with our dear friend The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. So watch for that interview sometime before Halloween. 
All in all I had a wonderful time with new friends and family over the weekend.  Check out some of these artists, you won't be disappointed!
Now, go create something,

Andrew, at the Beer Garden Awesome Guy!

My "sister-from-another-motter" Cindy
Brett and Gail
Skip, from Afton I am making applesauce right now
with his apples

September 23, 2011

Update from yesterdays post. "Chasing our Roots"

Louise "Albertina" Zabel Steindorf

Benie & Lucy
We found the babies! You can't imagine our excitement at locating them. As I told you yesterday, Albertina Zabel Steindorf was my Great Grandpa Als Mother.  She was just 34 years old when she died.  Of what she died we do not know. Yet! Albertina (Tina)  gave birth to six children during her short lifetime. Two of which died.   Albert, (Benie) was Albertinas fourth child, he died on the day he was born.  It is not known if he was still born or lived a few hours. Lucy is Tina's third child and was about four months old when she died, and we also don't know the cause of death. Yet!  There are so many unanswered questions......
What did they die from?

Making a rubbing of the headstone
 Why were the babies buried in St. Peters Cemetery and not St. Paulus?
Why is Tina the only child of Gottfried and Christine Louise Zabel buried in St. Paulus?
Where did they live?
Are there any records of Gottfried being a Tailor?
Where are the other children, Bertha ( married George Reimers), Frederick (died in 1906 at 26yrs of age), and Lewis.  My Great Grampa Al is buried in Union Cemetery in Maplwd. Mn with his wife.   He was the youngest of Tina children's.
So many unanswered questions....but so fun discovering them!
I would like to extend a thank you to, Afton Museum, Mudslingers Pottery and the many others that have helped us with this along the way.  You have all been extremely helpful and it has been a pleasure to work with all of you.  If anyone out there has any suggestions please let us know.  My e mail is

September 22, 2011

"Chasing Our Roots!"

G. G. G.Grandpa Gottfried and Me!

In order for me to attend the Creative Connection last weekend, my Aunt Gail (The Dallas Chick) flew in from Texas to help with my Mom during the weekend.  While here, one of the things she wanted to do was to complete some of our ancestry family tree, by finding missing puzzle pieces, taking pictures and visiting grave sites.  Monday morning began with a trip to Afton, Minnesota, a quaint little town located along the banks of the St. Croix River.  We were on the hunt to find the cemetery that my Great Great Great Grandpa Gottfried Zabel, his wife, Christine Louise and daughter Louise Albertina were buried in. That cemetery is named St. Paulus Lutheran, in Afton.  We drove up and down St. Croix Trail and Stagecoach Trail, not finding a thing!  Finally, we stopped and asked and lo and behold, the cemetery was located directly behind Mudslinger Pottery, go figure!  What an awesomely quaint old cemetery.  Gail and I started looking through the grave stones, only about 30 of them are still existing. Right in the center, nestled between other families we located three beautiful headstones with the names of our ancestors on them. WOW! I can't explain the feeling! Albertina was only 34 when she died, and she had 6 children, 2 died, 1 at birth and 1 a few months later.  So where are the babies and where are the other children.  We know that her youngest only 1 1/2 years old at the time lived with his grandparents until they died when he was 16. His name was Albert Steindorf and he is my Great Grandfather, we know he is buried in Union Cemetery along with his wife, son and his sons wife.  Still, the haunting feeling, Where are the babies?, can't escape us. Yesterday, Gail and I visited the museum in Afton and with this wonderful woman Pam, who works at the museum, we found them!  They are at St. Peters Lutheran Cemetery, in Afton. 
Today, Gail and I are out the door to visit those babies.  So the story continues..........

Gail making a "grave rubbing"

Grave Rubbings

Gail and Albertina

Please leave us a comment if you have any suggestions in finding our roots.  Thank you!

September 18, 2011

Hi Everyone,  I'm back from an amazing three day conference that took place in St. Paul, Minnesota called The Creation Connection. The main focus was how to turn our creative passion into a business through social media and marketing.  The personal stories of some of today's most successful names in books and blogs were very inspirational.  I can't wait to share the event with you in the coming weeks, but........
Today is Sunday, it's raining, the Vikings are losing the football game, and I am making a big
pot of Chicken Dumpling Soup.  I know I've shared this recipe with you before but here it is again, in case you
you would like to join me on this lazy creative Sunday.

Chicken Dumping Soup
1 rotisserie chicken from the grocery store of your choice
1 stalk of lettuce, chopped
1 bag of carrots, cut
2 large onions, chopped
1 package of Mrs. Grasses chicken soup mix
2 Tablespoons, give or take of chicken broth powder
celery salt and pepper

Boil chicken in large pot of water for 1 hour. Then strain chicken and put broth back into the pan letting the chicken pieces cool. Now add the chopped celery, carrots, onions the package of soup mix with the egg and the chicken broth powder to taste.  Pick through the chicken pieces and place the good meat into the pot, discarding the bones, skin and fatty pieces.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer at least 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.

6 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
Beat eggs, add cinnamon, sugar and milk.   Then slowly stir in flour till thick like brownie mix or even thicker.  Bring soup back to a rolling boil. Heat teaspoon in soup and drop tablespoons of dumplings mixture into the soup.  Cook another 10 minutes and serve.

While my soup is cooking I will spend my time organizing my thoughts about the Creative Connection. I have hundreds of pictures and stories to share with you.  It was a crazy, terrific ,
exciting weekend.  I am totally inspired!!!

September 11, 2011

The Creative Connection: 2011

I'm so pumped!!!  Can you believe it?  We're just days away from The Creative Connection Conference in St. Paul Minnesota, September 15-17 at the Crown Plaza Hotel.  This is a national conference and market, celebrating creative women and entrepreneurs.  Hundreds of women who have a passion for the creative process will gather together for a 3 day extravaganza filled with hands-on workshops in cooking, sewing, knitting, jewelry making, creative writing, journals, book publishing, photography, baking, canning, food styling and more.  There will be social networking and business panels that focus on the practical details of setting up, running and marketing a business and leveraging its impact through the social media and blogging.

The 2011 Market Place will feature over 70 craft and handmade vendors, including: knitting, sewing, jewelry. fabric arts, paper goods and mixed media artists.  Other fun and exciting mini events happening in the Market Place will be blogger parties, book launches, craft demos and workshops.  New this year will be a Market Place Kitchen, which will feature demonstrations from food experts and cookbook authors.  This unique shopping experience is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC for a $10 admission fee for one day, or $15 for two days.  The market is open from 1:30-9:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept 16, and 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept 17.

"Jo and Me" 2010
 The Creative Connection is the brainchild of Jo Packham of "Where Women Create" and "Where Women Cook" magazines and Nancy Seriano launched The Creative Connection 2010, an event that united creative women entrepreneurs who are passionate about a creative life.  Now in its second year the event has joined forces with BlogHer.  BlogHer, the largest women's social media network.  I am somewhat new to BlogHer and I look forward to a full day of learning with the BlogHer Handmade Panels.  Friday and Saturday I will spend the day in the classroom learning techniques in "How to make a living as an artist", "Creative Writing classes, "Professional Imaging Workshops" and "How teach in my very own cyber classroom".  I was fortunate enough to attend last years event and would not miss it this year. If this is something you might be interested in, its not to late to join me and other Creative Chick Cafe artists.  Flexible packages are available, including a Weekender Pass or various 'a la carte selections.  registration and fee information, a complete schedule, and course and panel descriptions can be found at  Also, check out our new landing page at  There under the "Gallery Section" is a photo visit with the happens of last years event.

I am looking forward to making some new connections with some new amazing creative people and re-visiting with the ones I met last year.  I will post activities and my experiences throughout the weekend so you will not miss a thing!

Now go "Create Something",


September 4, 2011

Motherlode Toad Factory- Meet Robyn Martin

Robyn Martin of Motherlode Toad Factory
Nestled in the historic Sierra-Nevada Foothills the Motherload Toad Factory is delighted to have you share in the “Contagious, Creative Insanity” that flows out amongst the love and laughter within.
Rock wall and wine barrels Mural
Murel in a residential home

My name is Robyn Martin and I was given a wonderful legacy of a lifetime love of fabrics and sewing by my Grandmother Evaretta, an avid seamstress and quilter.  I have been creating and designing my entire life (which is a lot of years).  I lived and went to school in Southern California. Too busy making “stuff” to go to college.  I started painting murals professionally for an interior decorator in my early teens and was an enthusiastic, prolific painter in both oils and acrylics for several years.  One of my favorite memories was getting a blue ribbon at the Los Angeles County Fair in 4th Grade for a finger painting. To top off the Blue Ribbon, someone actually bought the painting.  Once I achieved the wonderful title of “Granny” (nine times) in later years, I decided that ladders and Grannies do not mix very well and I retired from Mural Painting.
The Critic
I have always loved sculpting with Papier Mache and really enjoy mixing up my own paper pulp.  My studio is my laundry room. I have an abundance of cupboards, large Formica counters and linoleum floors to help contain my many and varied messes.
Dino float
The largest project I have attempted (so far) was a float entry that was a life-sized baby dinosaur. He had an armature of my husband’s entire Toyota Pick-up truck underneath.  The next year the truck became a Covered Wagon pulled by an eight foot Monarch Butterfly.  Fortunately, (for the truck and my husband) the parade was cancelled the following year!

My inspiration must come from the creative muse gene in overdrive I was born with. I have more ideas and things to make than years left to create them. My Artistic style is best described as “Eclectic Creative Insanity” it varies minute to minute.
Besides Papier Mache, I now am creating and sculpting all kinds of critters from muslin. They are sewn, sculpted and then painted. Many of my designs are now available in both printed and E-Pattern format so others can enjoy making them too.

ECHO the Crow
My artwork is only shown on ETSY and at a once a year Boutique in my area. I did do a lot of shows and events in the past, but limit myself to only one show now, since I retired 10 years ago.  I also have a blog- please visit me at

The Motherlode Toad Factory is quite appropriate, in that I live in the Gold Country and at any given time, I am generally surrounded by toad, frog and other critter body parts waiting to be assembled.

I have a few questions for Robyn:

1.Q.  What skills have you found essential in your work?

   A. Patience, concentration and always a sense of humor.

2. Q. How often do you work?

    A. I never “work,” but I do create everyday something new and intriguing.

3. Q: What was the most significant decision you ever made?

 A. To marry my husband David of 50 years! (June 17th this year) He is very patient and understanding of my “Creative insanity.”

4. Q:  What are your favorite foods to eat?

    A. A great green salad and seafood.

5. Q: What makes you laugh the most?

    A. Everything makes me laugh. Including myself! Life is so full of things to see, do and laugh at.

6. Q: Who is your favorite artist?

    A. Monet. I love the soft colors in his water lily paintings.

7. Q: If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

    A. I would try to buy a clone of myself so she could do all the housework, cooking, etc. and I could just make “stuff” all day. But, on the second thought, I’m not sure the world could take two of me and I’d probably put it in a trust for my grandchildren’s college fund!

8. Q: What words of wisdom do you have for someone starting out?

    A:  Always try new things. Follow your Muse!  Have patience and learn from your mistakes. Insert        humor and whimsy into your life and works of Art. LOVE what you do!

9. Q: What is your favorite quote?

     A:  “I dream my painting and then I paint my dream” Vincent Van Gough

Crow on Pumpkin

Robyn,Thank you for sharing your work and story with us.  Robyn’s email is   if you would like to contact her.

Leonard and Wesley
Nyia The Mermaid

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