Thursday, July 30, 2009

Polka Dots

It's Thursday and I'm really getting my list of "Things to bring on vacation" made. This past weekend, I bought a set of double-sided rubber stamps in letters and numbers. I've been having fun using them in my journal all week:

I've been having so much fun, in fact, that I want to bring my stamps and a few paints on our trip. But what do you do when the stamps are cut and they no longer fit in the ugly hard plastic box they came packaged in?

Well, I had a wonderful creative solution. I pulled out a white and blue polka dot crib sheet that I recently purchased for my fabric stash box for $1.00 at the thrift store. I whipped up two adorable and funky drawstring pouches for the stamps. One for the letters and one for the numbers and miscellaneous things like: @, #, $, &, ".
The best part: it took me less than 10 minutes to make them. The end result makes packing them a dream. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday and my new pen pal

This week's Wishcasting prompt is What do you wish to remember? My head is like a huge filing cabinet overstuffed with scenes of my life; so many different memories and experiences. Here is just a small sampling of the things I wish to remember:

1. I wish to remember every hard stone that got lodged in my shoes during this journey of mine. Without those stones, I wouldn't be where I am today.

2. I wish to always remember the births of my children.

3. I wish to always remember the first date I had with Breen.

4. I wish to always remember every moment of our wedding.

5. I wish to always remember the multitude of blessings I have been given.

6. I wish to always remember that there are so many amazing people to connect with on this planet.

7. I wish to always remember that I've been given a chance at a whole new life and to never waste a single minute of it.

I can't believe I have been so late in mentioning my new pen pal, Erika. A few months ago, I got involved with a pen pal project here in the blogging community. I love the art of letter writing and I miss those days of getting something other than bills and junk mail from the mailman. I love the deeper personal connections that we can make. Erika and I have exchanged packages. She sent me the most awesome box filled with good things: candy, hot chocolate, pictures and a crocheted turtle AND A HANDWRITTEN LETTER :))It was such a treat. Thank you Erika!

Here's a new necklace I made yesterday:

Here's Breen crossing the finish line on Sunday:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday and lots of pictures

My computer has been out of commission for a while but Breen has brought it back to life! Still hot here but I'm trying not to complain too loudly. One of the reasons I love living in this part of the country is because I get to experience all four seasons. This week is pretty much about getting ready for our honeymoon. Everyone is going somewhere: Max is going to Tennessee, Kendall is going to Maryland and we are headed to the west coast. A few weekends ago, just before the computer crashed, we took a family day to the beach. Here are some highlights:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday morning

It rained hard here last night. I love a good thunder and lightening storm. We've been really fortunate to this point with the weather. It's been a fairly mild summer...until now. August approaches in a few days and with it, muggy days and hot nights for sleeping. We've got a window unit in our bedroom but I just can't get comfortable. Too cold, my nose is running, the sound is loud, etc. This ties in nicely with a book I'm reading by Donald Miller called Through Painted Deserts: light, God and Beauty on the open road. It's a true story about Donald and his friend Paul who trade the comforts of Big City life in Texas for a road trip to Oregon in a dilapidated old VW Van to find out about themselves. In it he says:

In all our technology, we have lost touch with the earth, our heaters and air conditioners robbing us of the drama of our seasons, our cars keeping our feet from pacing the land, our concrete and our shoes and our carpet delivering us from the feel of unprocessed earth. We live on top of the world and not in it.

And I can't help but be smacked in the face with this truth. We are a society that is so used to finding ways to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Cold? Turn up the heat. Hot? Turn on the AC. Then there is the whole issue of feeling like everything has to be bigger, better and upgraded. What's wrong with being uncomfortable? Some of our greatest learning lessons are right there begging to be dealt with but we don't want the discomfort. So we run away from the discomfort and keep being presented with the same lessons over and over for years and years until the dysfunction becomes a woven fabric of our lives. What's so fantastic about stock piling our life with bigger and better? If I have a huge home with a big flat screen TV does it make me happier? If anything, it just provides more space for my kids to go off and isolate and more joy for the credit card companies that are feeding off of our inability to say NO to more possessions.

I've been home for a few weeks now. This time has been really valuable for me. I'm finding myself wanting to step out of my comfort zone more and more. I've spent a lot of years running from the discomfort; it's time to get down to the real stuff that my life is made of. There is so much beauty, so much love and so much possibility.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A brief introduction to Alice....

Now that Helen is nearly done, it's time to introduce you to Alice. Alice (as in Alice in Wonderland) used to be a neglected, unattractive over sized ottoman frame. I've had the ottoman for ages. In fact, she almost got thrown in the trash when I moved from my old house. But something told me to drag her along with me. She was nameless until yesterday when Breen came home from work, took one look and declared that he was seeing Alice in Wonderland. This is one way ideas are born. I've said it before and I'll say it 1000 times again: my husband brings so much inspiration and color to my life; he's the indescribably beautiful crayon that was always missing from my box of Crayola Crayons.

So this morning, I started to research Alice in Wonderland lines and wacky colors/patterns. I'm envisioning a wild ottoman with Alice quotes all over it. The seat will most likely be hand painted canvas with strips of black and white fabric sewn on in strategic places. I bought 3/4 yard of the harlequin fabric for Helen's seat and since I hate to waste things, I'm using what's left on Alice. I'm sure she won't mind....

Be patient with my photos please. Since my computer was wiped out by a virus, I have no post processing software. It's kind of like going out of the house without a trace of make-up and hoping that you don't run in to an old friend in the produce aisle!

Here's Helen:

Here's the beginning of Alice:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday...what do you wish to tell the world?

I feel like I've abandoned my blog's only been a few days. On Monday, I made the unfortunate mistake of clicking on a link that I thought was sent by my brother. It wiped out my computer and Breen is in the process of reinstalling my programs. For now, I'm using a laptop but I'm still disgusted that there are cyber losers out there that spread viruses just to be mean. Now, I'm skeptical of every e-mail that comes my way and find myself deleting so much without giving it a second thought. The world is an interesting place. We have so much going on out there that people have become skeptical of each other. Just on my own street, I hear people fighting with each other and watch neighbors get out of their cars and walk straight to the front door without so much as a nod.

I wish the world knew that strength is found in numbers; that's how community is built. Community is built on the willingness for people to extend kindness to each other; not by closing the front door at the end of the day and living inside of your head.

I wish the world could see that a little friendliness and a smile go much further than fighting and isolation.

I wish the world could see that we are all passengers on this big bus called the Universe. Get your ticket, climb on board and extend some kindness to the other passengers.

I wish the world could know that each and every person on the planet could have what they desired...if we only knew how to ask for it and have faith that it is there for us.

I wish the world knew that fighting and screaming with each other only drowns out the quiet places in our hearts that we need to hear.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Some mornings find me still lounging in my husband's boxers sipping coffee long after he's left for work and the dishes are still piled up and the laundry still needs to be switched up and the resumes need to be send out. I contemplate:

The sense of time
The hours and how they can be spent
The feel of a new writing pen
Conversations (or lack of) with my children just an hour before
New ideas
Old patterns
Renting a bulldozer to create new paths

And these hands.....

They contemplate

Why the same hands that write down a million ideas are the same hands that don't always make the ideas come to life

The feel of paint on them

The lines of my husband's body

The odd combination of my mother's big knuckles and my paternal grandmother's slender fingers and how genetics and generations really do shape our patterns

The next word to be written

The next food ingredient to be felt

And these feet....

They contemplate

The many miles they have traveled

The places they want to go

The dance steps they want to dance

The perfect inked circle on my left ankle that constantly serves to remind me to walk a life in balance

The feel of my daughter's feet touching mine under the Dining Room table. Even when we are feeling hurt and can't find the words, we find the tiniest ways to communicate.

Walking barefoot and feeling the earth and sand and pavement under my feet

How, so many years ago, the bottom of my foot was gashed open from a heavy glass that was thrown at me by an abusive boyfriend. It was a long journey over the years but I came to an absolute understanding that I would never be treated badly by anyone ever again. I have a real problem to this day when I see women being treated (and accepting) this kind of behavior from men. Take your feet, stand up tall and walk down a different road.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


This has been one of those weeks. Tuesday was not one of my finest days. I sort of hit the wall emotionally: second guessing myself, frustrated with being unemployed, feeling crappy about me. It doesn't happen all that much but when it does, the whole house is miserable. I'm not mad at anybody; I'm mad at myself. It takes a hell of a lot of energy to be miserable, doesn't it? We create the feelings within ourselves. If we have the power to choose, why not try to be neutral or positive.

Lately, my daughter is miserable 24/7. I don't think she hates us, I just think she is miserable with herself and creating her own environment. A lot is changing for her. For starters, I'm not the marshmallow anymore that she's had for a mother for so long. I'm finding my backbone and feeling so much better about myself for doing so. I was tired of living the way I did with the kids for all those years. They were getting away with murder while I was busy trying to be their friend. When you are a single parent, the whole dynamic of your mother/child relationship is different than when there are two parents in the house. When you once again have a partner, the dynamics change once again. I'm saying no much more frequently and she doesn't like it. I'm working as a partnership with my husband raising our family. First and foremost, being a parent is the most important thing. When you let things slide because you're trying to please them and be their friend, they will follow that lead and walk on you like a doormat. She can continue to treat us badly but I'm not backing down. I like this new me as a parent and trust me, there is still more to be accomplished but Rome wasn't built in a day. Of course she loves being with her dad because he only sees her for a few hours per week. In those hours, he plans fun things and rarely ever says no to her. He is her friend. He is not doing the day to day parent things. I get it. Again, I'm not backing down. When I give in to her, I feel like shit. When kids feel like they are on equal footing with you and lack respect and discipline, you need to change directions. I'm going to be selfish in her eyes because I am setting my priorities on nurturing my faith, nurturing myself and nurturing my marriage. When all of those things are strong and healthy, I am a better parent, a better worker, a more confident artist.

As frustrating as it is to be home now, it has also been invaluable so far. I'm learning more things about myself daily.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The "David Letterman style" top 10 jobs

OK, so here I start another day of job searching. If I don't laugh at the absurdity of it all, I'll cry enough tears to flood my entire house. Here I present to you the top 10 jobs listed on Career Builder this morning:

10. KFC Team Member/Supervisor (this translates to free buckets of extra crispy chicken and an attractive hair net)

9. Truck Driver for the US Army (I automatically disqualify for this because they only accept applicants 17-41. Isn't this age discrimination for the old geezers like me??)

8. Six Sigma Master Black Belt (This has a very strong and empowering ring to it. Does this mean I could actually wear my karate uniform as I instruct my team on how to put together a lego project? Hey, it pays $50-60 per hour...definitely a step above KFC Team Member)

7. Weekend RN7P-7A Charge Nurse (just don't tell them I don't actually have a nursing degree, okay?)

6. AFLAC Insurance Sales Rep (Maybe I could actually meet Gilbert Godfreid, the duck voice)

5. Floater, Phlebotomy Service (I can't watch my own blood being drawn. As long as you don't mind that I might pass out on you, I'd be happy to stick you with a needle)

4. Label Inspection Assistant (stimulating, I'm sure....)

3. Dishwasher at a Senior Living Center (now here's a job I know how to do really well AND I'm helping some old folks out at the same time)

2. Pizza Hut Team Member and Delivery Driver (I've got my own car...that should be a plus as long as I get reimbursed for the mileage)

1. Dock Worker-Part time (OH MY GOD! Finally a water based job where I might actually be able to kayak at work!!!)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Those dreaded "3 little words" and the job update

It finally happened last night. I heard those three little words come out of my daughter's mouth: I HATE YOU! After a mini war at the table, she stomped upstairs. Breen's skin is a little thicker than mine. He's a veteran of this war having served on the front line with his own children who are now grown up. But these are all first moments for me. Is it horrible for me to say that I wouldn't mind if she lived with her dad? She's so much like him that it pains me. Where did my girl go? Why is it so easy for her to be perfectly giddy and pleasant with her father and such a bitch with us at home? How easily they forget what a train wreck my ex is. He's like the most dysfunctional Disney World you could ever visit. Sure, when he opens the gates for the kids to come and play the rides look thrilling and spectacular. But if you ride them long enough and look a little more closely, you realize that the rides are held together with bubblegum and tape. After you finally realize the truth, you find yourself literally running around trying to find the exits out; I guess it's just going to take my kids a long time to understand it all. I just don't find his amusement park funny at all. He lures my daughter in with his promises of dinners out and shopping trips. He's speaking her language and I'm wondering where all the money is coming from to pay for his fatherhood. I certainly see very little of it but I do see shopping bags every time the kids come home.

I was offered a job on Friday to work part-time which would possible turn in to full time. At first, I thought it would be a great option but I really sat and thought about my experience at the company when I went to have a working interview with them last Thursday. I couldn't get past the fact that there seemed to be a real lack of friendly energy there among the workers. The business itself is in a huge laboratory/factory setting with only about 6 employees. It's rather sterile with no windows; I need color and friendly people. My creativity would never come in to play there. It's a very repetitive task type of business where the days are spent filling orders to be shipped out. Day after day; week after week. I couldn't see myself there for 8 hours per day for the long run. The rote quality of a dull job would really slowly kill me. Plus, there seemed to be something "plastic" about the owners and I didn't like how they talked about the other employees. So here I am once again back on the job hunting path. I have worked for a long time at jobs that just paid the bills. I'm glad I didn't settle for the first thing offered to me. I wanted to feel good about this company but I'd be hurting and limiting myself if I wasn't listening to my gut.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

Around town:

My friend Wayne took some apron shots for me:

White Beans and Sage (GO OVER HERE FOR THE RECIPE)

Here's the progress on my Helen chair. WOW!! It's nearly finished. I have to order some black and white harlequin fabric for the seat. This chair has my mind spinning about all the ways that I can translate my art: on furniture, on journals, on altered clothing.......hmmmm

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday and new ideas

Yesterday, I had a "working interview" with a company close by. This was actually my second interview. I was invited back after the first to come in for a few hours so that the owners could see how I fit in to their environment and I could see how I would fit there. Brilliant idea actually. I'm really glad I had the opportunity to go because I truly believe that every new experience brings me more opportunities to expand my knowledge and learn more from others and myself. At the end of the "work day", I sat down with the owners. It turns out that they are interested in perhaps hiring me for part-time work (20 hours per week)and they would like to utilize a specific skill set of mine. I had actually downplayed this skill set for a long time but it hit me yesterday on the way home that I could actually strengthen that skill set even more and perhaps change career directions with it. In addition, I started out on this job searching process with the mindset that I must take a 40 hour week 9-5 job. But then I was reminded of the time when my son was a baby and I was working from home. I needed someone to come to my house for a few hours every day to help with the baby so that I could get work done. I had the mindset that the ideal person would be a certain age and would work specific hours. Each person I interviewed was crazier than the last. Finally, a high school girl answered my ad. She was only able to work after school and through dinner. She didn't meet my age or hours requirement and I almost told her no. But something told me to think outside of my original box and talk to her. Not only did she take the job; the hours she worked turned out to be perfect and she was so smart and likable that she worked for me all the way through her college years in the summers. She was the best person I ever had with my kids. The point here is that I am finally open to the idea of looking outside the box with my job search. What if I worked 20 hours a week with a steady pay and dedicated at least the other 20 hours to creating my own art business? It could be perfect and if this company offers me the right deal, I might just say yes. Who knows where all of this could lead.......

In the meantime, it's Friday and the weekend is here. I plan to relax, read, sew and create.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Check this out. A new apron that I whipped up yesterday using some heavy weight designer fabric that I got from my friend Loretta. I've got enough left over to make another apron or an over sized tote bag. Or maybe even a journal cover or two. When Breen came home, he saw the apron and loved it. Something about the retro mod 60's where are my thigh high white pleather Go Go boots???

Yesterday, I hit one of those "stay at home blues" moments. I had been doing the job search thing and got a call back from one potential employer whom I had been playing phone tag with since the middle of last week. He really got caught with his pants down because he really had no idea who I was. He proceeded to chat with me like he'd known me for years. I thought it was a little awkward and strange until I realized that the fucktard had no clue why he was returning my call but engaged me with pointless babble about the holiday weekend and such. Finally I called him on the carpet by asking him if he knew who I was. I reminded him that he had asked me to call him on Tuesday to arrange an interview (not talk about his yacht sailing). Turns out he already filled the position and he got very professional and impersonal after that. So there I was in a hot house with 8 loads of laundry and a sink full of dishes and I said to myself, "God damn it, I have to get out of here!". I took myself on a long bike ride. It was really what I needed. Blue skies, clearing my head and some good aerobic workout. It's hard to believe that there were times over the past 20 years of working that I fantasized about being home. Now I'm home and there are days when it feels like the walls are closing in. Yeah, I need to get back to work.