NP: Hi, Annmarie! Welcome to our Spotlight! I think we all know you best for your popular hobby related Cubits. However, you recently combined them into one all-encompassing new Cubit. Why don't you start by telling us why you made that change?
Annmarie: Well, all my hobbies are so vast. It was hard to keep up with them, and two cubits at the same time! lol! I don't always stick to just one hobby, but flit between many of them each day/week. Woodworking is kinda put on hold right now because my husband and I are still moving the woodshop from the old house up here to the new house in the mountains. That's a huge task in itself. Oil Painting is on hold except for classroom time, as I really don't have anywhere set up to paint indoors yet. Mini-gardening can only be done here in the spring, and we are expecting snow here pretty soon. So, winter time will mean lots of acrylic painting (easier clean up) crocheting, dollhouse building, photography, sewing, quilting...etc.
Since my hobbies are all over the place, I figured one cubit where I can talk and learn about them all would be easier than having several cubits that sit for months with nothing posted! It will also give me a place to write more articles on the many different things I dabble in!
NP: I'm fascinated by your Miniatures! What made you get started doing that?
Annmarie: Mom and I started building a doll house when my daughter was born 21 years ago. I had a lot of fun helping decide how to decorate it and building it. Unfortunately life and responsibilities got in the way and we never did get to finish the dollhouse. Last November I decided I finally had time to work on a doll house of my own, mainly for my grandson to enjoy. I decided on a small house (smaller than the mansion mom and I were building!) and started learning how to build it. So far I have learned a lot about how NOT to do it.
In March when I started my cubit I quickly got lots of advice and tips on how to build it better. I am amazed at how many people out there enjoy these mini hobbies as much as I do. My interest in miniature gardens also centers around my grandson. I saw a thread on Dave's Garden about fairy gardens and decided to try my hand at it. Then my husband jumped in with both feet and the next thing we knew he was designing and building miniatures for gardens. So far he has designed and built an arbor, a picnic bench, and a replica of the steps and arbor he built for our old home, complete with scaled down lattice fencing! Our plans are to design, make and sell these mini-garden items on a full time basis once he retires. My grandson loved playing in the mini-garden I created for him. Now that he is a little older I will let him help design and plant our next mini-garden here at the new house. My husband and I are already drawing up plans for the gnome door, and a covered patio area complete with the picnic bench, and several other surprises too!
NP: Tell us a little bit about yourself. I know your kids are all grown up now, right?
Annmarie: I was a single mom for many, many years. I have three kids of my own, ages 23, 21 and 14, and also raised a foster daughter from the age of 12 on. She is now 22. I went back to college in 2004 not for a new career, but so I could tell my kids to do as I did, not as I say! and struggled through three years of full time work, single parenting and full time college. I graduated in 2007 with Highest Honors. One month later I married my best friend and soul mate. He was raising his four kids ages 17, 22, 23, 25 so for a while there we had six kids living at home! In Dec 2007 my daughter blessed me with my 'lil lightning bug' (my grandson) and he and I have been best buddies ever since!
I started gardening in 2001, but didn't learn how to keep anything alive until 2007 when I stumbled upon Dave's Garden on a Google search.
In 2001, My kids went to their dad's house for the summer. This was the first time in many, many years that my life didn't revolve around kids and I found myself bored to tears! A friend of mine asked me what I did before I had kids....um...High School! I had my kids right out of high school. So she told me to spend my summer trying different hobbies to see what I would like to do. I spent that summer in 'self re-discovery mode' and had a blast! I tried many things from hiking to photography, and the list goes on. Some hobbies I stuck with, others fell quickly by the wayside. Since that summer though, I am now willing to try everything...once! My hobbies are all self taught, from books, or online searches, etc. I learned that I'm capable of teaching myself things, and that I can quickly catch on to new skills when I really put my mind to it. I am now taking a community oil painting class so I can get some tips on my shading techniques.
I am now going through yet another transition in my life. My husband and I are relocating from our suburban home to our vacation home in the Sierras and all of the kids are out of the house now...Well, with the exception of my youngest who comes to visit on weekends (he stayed in suburbia with his dad to finish school and continue sports). For many years I identified myself as a mom, and an insurance agent. When I left work two years ago, that was a HUGE transition for me. I was no longer the Insurance agent and I am no longer a mom, running a house full of kids and taking them to all their activities. I am once again finding myself, and learning to enjoy new things and a new lifestyle in a rural area. Big changes, but I am learning to adjust!
NP: I want to ask you about your vacation home, but first, before we get too far away from your hobbies, I'm wondering if you have a favorite one.
Annmarie: Anything artistic would be a favorite for me. I don't have to set aside time for photography, I just always have my camera with me. That just comes naturally. I love to lose myself while painting and if given the time, I would probably spend days and days in a studio without ever coming out. Unfortunately, life demands attention and I can't partake in painting as often as I'd like. I think most of my hobbies are artistic in some way. Oil painting, crocheting, gardening, woodworking, photography, quilting, home decorating, doll house building, they all involve creating or capturing something of beauty and I get a kind of warm satisfaction when they turn out well. When they don't turn out well, I just try again!
NP: Is there anything else you'd like to try or do someday? Like bungee jumping or something?
Annmarie: Well, back in 2000 I walked into the DMV and got my motorcycle license, then went across the street and bought a Harley. Then, after all the paperwork was done, I realized I had no idea how to ride the thing home! A friend taught me how to ride it in my driveway. I rode it for several years and then finally sold it, after realizing that I want to live long enough to enjoy my kids and grandkids. Other than that incident, I really don't have a death wish, so I don't do really risky stuff. There are many more hobby things I would like to learn and try. Intarsia is on my list of things to learn, also scroll saw work for wood pieces. I'd love to learn how to make wood pens someday, and I want to learn more about pastels and drawing. And someday I may try stained glass art, and knitting again. But in the mean time, there are many things that I am still practicing and I am trying to keep my focus on those until I hone my skills before adding any more new hobbies! I can say though that I am rarely bored!
NP: Now I'd love to hear about where you are living. Are you isolated? What are your seasons like there? Are you in a city, or is it country? Do you think you will stay there forever?
Annmarie: I live in a small township, definitely not a 'city' by any means! We are near Yosemite, in the outskirts of the Stanislaus Forest at about 4,000 feet above sea level. It is more of a resort town. Many of the homes here are vacation homes, occupied only weekends in the winter and summer months. On my street, there are only five homes that have full time occupancy (including ours). It's a sleepy little town and by 8pm everything is closed down. There are few cars on the road, and everyone is at home tucked in by the fire for the night. We do have a private golf course and lake membership. In the summertime the town comes alive with Art & Wine festivals, movies under the stars, concerts in the park, and the list goes on! There are always plenty of activities here, or in the nearby townships to keep us busy. Our home is surrounded by fir, pine, dogwood and cedar trees. I love that there are no street lights here! At night I can sit out on my deck and see stars that are so close it seems you can reach out and touch them. We have deer come visit us almost nightly, along with raccoons, skunks, squirrels, fox and all sorts of birds. Thankfully I have never seen, nor heard of anyone else seeing a bear here. I think that would terrify me!
I am not completely isolated here. We have a small grocery in town, three small restaurants, a hardware store, a beauty salon/barber, a nursery, a post office, and even a convenience store! There are also various little shops that sell hand made items and art. I am hoping to sell some of my stuff in those shops, and on my cubit someday soon. We do get the four seasons here, snow in the winter, rain showers in the spring so that all the wildflowers and dogwoods bloom. We get warmth in the summer, but not super hot like many areas, and cold nights in the fall.
But we also get the crazy Sierra Mountain weather. They say it can snow here as late as July 31, and as early as August 1st! We get lots of thunderstorms which I don't like but for some weird reason my husband thinks are fun, and the power is known to go out often. It is a much slower pace here than in the Bay Area. There is no such thing as high speed internet or HD TV here, and the only way to get a cell phone signal is by adding a network extender to your computer. This gives us a cell signal in and near our home, but not when we are away from the house. In the long run, it is all worth it! For now we are planning to stay here forever, however California politics may drive us out of state someday soon. If that does happen, we will probably relocate to Washington state where my mom and two of my sisters live.
NP: So you prefer rural America to the bustle of the city. Even on vacations?
Annmarie: When I was single, I would pack the four kids in the car along with a tent, sleeping bag, a pan, a spoon and a coffee pot and away we would go! We spent one summer vacation driving 2800 miles to see Bryce Canyon, Mt Zion, Grand Canyon, Lehman Caves, Big Basin, and Yosemite spending one or two nights at each place and then packing up and heading for the next place.
Another summer we hit the National Parks on the west coast. Lassen, Rainier, Hoh Rain Forest, Sol Duc Rain Forest Olympic National Forest, Mt St Helens, and many others. Yet another summer vacation was spent driving all over California, taking pictures of the old covered bridges that are still standing from the 1800's. Did I mention I love history and the 1800's in particular?
NP: You have been to so many places. Where have you NOT been, that you would like to see someday? And do you think you will continue to explore new places?
Annmarie: I have always wanted to see Scotland and my husband has always wanted to go to Germany. Someday when he retires, I hope we can fulfill at least these two dreams. I would also like to finish my quest to see all the National Parks in the USA. There are many left on my list, but he hasn't seen some of the ones I have been to, so we will probably start from the beginning again. I will always and forever explore new places, especially places of historical interest. I seldom go back to the same places more than once but there are exceptions like Columbia State Park, Ardenwood Park, Yosemite, and Bodie, CA. They are my favorites and I am sure I will find more favorites as I continue to explore.
NP: One more question, Annmarie. It's about this statement you made a moment ago ..."Did I mention I love history and the 1800's in particular?" Where did that come from?
Annmarie: I don't know why I love the 1800's and history so much. I just always have, from as far back as I can remember! I loved hearing stories from my grandma & grandpa, talking about the 'olden days', though their olden days were the early 1900s, not 1800s. I have always felt that I was born 100 years too late. When my husband and I first started dating, we quickly discovered that we both enjoy many of the same interests. One day, he told me that he always felt that he was born 100 years too late! I was floored! I knew right then and there that we were meant for each other, that he was my soul mate and we would be together forever. The first time he kissed me was in the parlor of the Fallon Hotel in Columbia State Park. Its a historical park near where we are now living. The entire park is like walking back into history, back into the gold rush days of California. My son and I were staying at the Fallon Hotel, and my future husband kissed me goodnight in that parlor. Years later, when he proposed to me (another story in itself!) he told me that we could get married anywhere I wanted...except Reno, Tahoe or Las Vegas! I immediately told him I wanted to get married in the Fallon parlor. I wanted our first kiss as husband and wife to be in the exact same spot as our first kiss as boyfriend and girlfriend, and we did! We got married in the parlor. The entire wedding was done in the Victorian theme including a horse drawn carriage and driver. Definitely one of the happiest days of my life!
NP: Another interview with a happy ending! Thank you, Annmarie. I'm very pleased to have had this time with you. I hope that our readers who have not yet visited your new cubit, All Things Hobby, will take a few moments to check it out. You have something for everyone there, I think. Another interesting link is this one, which leads to Boopaints Do-Over forum, where you can see how Annmarie fixed up her mother's garden.
If you are interested in learning more about our National Parks, the link provided here (which is different from the one in the article) is really thorough. I now have a small list of my own to visit!
And readers, remember to click on Annmarie's photos to enlarge them. Comments for Annmarie are welcomed! Say hello and share your thoughts. And please come back next week for another Spotlight interview!