Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday morning gratitude

This past weekend was a mixed bag. We had planned to go camping but the weather called for nothing but rain so we postponed for another weekend. Breen took several days off so we had a nice long weekend. But it also meant that we had to deal with my daughter and her difficult behavior. It's tiring to say the least. Anger is an interesting thing. I've always considered myself to be laid back and easy going. Still, as compassionate and calm and loving as we try to be, I believe that anger is in all of us; it's just a matter of reaching some kind of breaking point. I reached mine yesterday. I said some horrible things to my daughter and once I opened my mouth, it was like a dam broke and I couldn't put my finger in the hole to stop the flood of anger. I'm not proud of myself but she did manage to push every button inside of me. I'm trying to regroup today. I'm trying to come up with a strategy to keep my damn mouth shut. I can barely stand to look at her anymore, let alone keep my words inside when she starts up. It may take several rolls of duct tape...on myself. Yet through it all, I am grateful for so many things.

A full refrigerator with lots of delicious produce
A break in the weather...finally!
My husband
My health
My comfortable home
My love and passion for writing

I'm also excited because tomorrow marks a new face lift for my meatless blog. I'll be cooking my way alphabetically through some tasty dishes and offering an apron giveaway. The first "A" dish is something sweet and yummy.....

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I sure am glad we canceled our camping trip; it's been raining all weekend. Sleeping in a tent in the mud is simply no fun. But I'm recalling a memory of all the camping we did as a kid. My parents had one of those Nimrod pop-up tent campers and we went every summer. I used to love laying in the camper listening to the rain drops fall on the canvas. There's just something about sleeping outside that makes me feel alive. Today, I had hoped to get my kayak in the water while Breen does a 3 hour ride. I've hardly been out on the water at all this summer and I miss it.

Yesterday, I did manage to get myself to The Produce Junction. I love that place. I get loads of fresh fruit and veggies for around $20. It all comes in bulk so you have to be sure to use it within a few days. Plus, it's in a section of the city where it's great for "people watching" while you're standing in line. Sometimes I'm not sure what's more colorful: the produce or the customers. I was thrilled to score a huge bouqet of 25 roses for $4.50. Now, I've got 2 vases brimming over with flowers that will ut a smile on my face all week.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday sketching

"Life Is like a Box of Chocolates... You Never Know What You're Gonna Get!".....Mrs. Gump

You never know what you're going to get when you come here for a visit. Sometimes it's art or food or dragons or VW Mini Buses. But today, it's all about tomatoes and sketching. Trust me, even though I have a college degree in Fine Art, my drawing skills suck monkey butt in the worst way! It's hard to believe that I have not attempted to strengthen my skills in this area in all the 20 plus years that I graduated. What can I say? I'm a late bloomer! Yesterday, I put together a new journal for my personal use. I'm almost done with a smaller lined journal and it was time to think about what I wanted to write in next. The problem with a standard lined journal is that my sharpee markers bleed through to the other side. Not so with the heavy unlined paper in my new Scrabble journal. I can use glue and paint and markers in this one and the page holds up beautifully. Since I've been eating meatless, I am passionate about fruits and veggies and healthy things. Here is my first attempt to sketch some juicy, lush tomatoes in my new journal.

All morning, I've been thinking about fresh tomato sauce, homemade cream of tomato soup and sandwiches on whole grain bread with slabs of heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese. When we buy our house, too hell with the flowers, I'm getting right on a vegetable garden.

Here is the new journal. I love the nice big blank pages and the quirkiness of my vintage game board for a cover:

And now, I'm off to get my day started. Perhaps I'll go to the Farmer's Market with my camera for some shots of fresh produce that I can use to help me do some more sketching. Happy Saturday!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Slaying the dragons

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Lately, one of the dragons in my life has been my daughter. Most days, I swear she'd like to knock me clear across 2 zip codes with her fire. I know she's changing and part of it is her age. But I also know, she is complex with her thoughts and not quick to share a single one. She's developed this "hard ass" exterior with an extreme aversion to anything "girlie" or feminine and I wonder sometimes how long, if at all, I'll see that soft, loving side emerge again. I think she's been carrying around a whole stew of mixed emotions for some time now: processing her parent's divorce, dealing with her brother and generally trying to figure out where she fits in the world. We have a new family dynamic now plus I've been spending a lot of time lately helping my son get ready for school. Nobody said being 10 these days was a picnic.

Last night, we had a breakthrough. I was lying in bed when I heard a knock on the bedroom door. She had apparently heard some noises in the house and was scared. She wanted to bring her pillows and blankets and sleep on the floor next to me. For the first time in a long time, I saw the sweet little princess again. Breen and I opted not to have her sleep with us but I did offer to go to her room and stay with her for a little while. I ended up staying for 2 hours. We laughed and talked like old times. Looking back on this, I don't think it was noises at all. I think she was really trying to say, "I'd like to let my big wall down for a little while and be a little girl again." Even in myself, I see the hard ass behaviour sometimes. When I feel hurt or scared, I become the dragon. We all need to feel loved and cared about and sometimes we need that one-on-one attention. Even if I don't have another moment like last night for another 5 years, I'm going to treasure it for a long time to come.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's engraved on your soul?

Last night I finished Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. I love her writing so much. There are obviously so many things being woven in to the story but one important thing is the main character's love of kitchens. Beyond just the preparation of food, she finds peace and warmth in kitchens. Each time she goes in to the kitchen, she finds small pieces of herself. then, I found this passage in the book:

"Why do I love kitchens so much? It's strange. Perhaps because to me a kitchen represents some distant longing engraved on my soul."

WHAM! It hit me hard as I remembered an experience I had this past Sunday. Breen and I went to the movies. As we walked to the theatre, we passed an old vintage sky blue VW mini bus in the parking lot. I stopped dead in my tracks. My heart was filled with the most intense aching and longing to get in that van and just drive and drive and drive. Mind you, not just ANY car would evoke this feeling. A vintage VW mini bus is my ultimate fantasy. It fits my personality to a tee. I imagine owning one and having it custom painted with a luggage rack installed on top and awesome white walled tires. And curtains hanging in the little windows...made by me of course! The real matter at heart here though is this long standing desire to hit the open road and have adventures. My deepest, truest self needs to know the vast world out there; not just the same old area I have lived in for my whole life. I've never lived anywhere more than 45 minutes away from where I grew up. I long to see other landscapes and meet quirky, colorful people. I long to come across little diners and local restaurants. New snapshots with my camera. Excavating new pieces of myself as the miles tick along. I want to be clear that this is NOT a feeling of "running away". Not at all. I love my life with my magnificent husband and kids. It's just that I've had this longing engraved on my soul for so long now that it's becoming hard to ignore. I need to find a way to have some little adventurous road trips....

What is it that's engraved on YOUR soul?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: What do you wish to acknowledge yourself for?

What a great wishcasting prompt today! Lately, I've been "having some moments" with myself. I've always tended to beat myself up for my own perceived shortcomings and flaws. Frankly, it takes so much energy to behave that way and I am tired. I think the thing that frustrates me the most is that I KNOW deep down inside, where the true essence of me lives, there is an amazing woman beyond the ordinary. She wants to come out and stay and shine like a big full moon all the time. Today, I wish to acknowledge myself for:

Being a good mother and realizing that it hasn't been easy over the years raising them in some of the situations I found myself in BUT...I've always been here for them. Always.

Being a creative DIVA

Being a loving, loyal and supportive wife

Being smarter than I give myself credit for

Being loving, kind and compassionate

Being proactive about self-improvement when I see something I'd like to change

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Today, I'm feeling a little swamped with my own feelings. I've been home all summer. During this time, I've been looking for work but admittedly I need to really step up the search. I've been really enjoying this time home. It's the first time in 13 years that I've been around for and with the kids. As much as I've enjoyed this break from working, I also desire to get back to some sort of work routine. Even the kids are ready to get back to a routine. Breen and I have goals and me being home does not serve us well if we actually want to achieve some of these goals. I love my creativity but I don't have a vision of it actually generating income any time soon. Etsy is one small avenue to sell, but even that is slow, slow, slow! Breen asked me this morning how my job search is going. It's the first time he's asked me in a long time. He is so loving and supportive but I know it weighs on his mind even when he doesn't ask. It made me realize that I need to get my ass in gear in such a bigger way. I owe it to him, myself and our marriage to step up to the plate. I never want to take any of my blessings for granted. Every day is a gift and I think at the end of each one, we have to ask ourselves what, if anything, we contributed or achieved.

I've finished a custom order apron for an artist who is opening her own studio/store front. I definitely had fun with this one!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday review

It's a gorgeous, perfect summer day today in the mid 80's with very little humidity. Finally a nice little break from the horrendous heat wave.

This past weekend we went to my brother's 50th birthday party. I know what you're's amazing that such a young thing as myself has that old of a sibling lurking in the family tree, right? HA HA....seriously though, I really adore my brother. He's one of the funniest people I've ever known. We are 5 years apart. When I was growing up, I didn't have much in common with him but over the years we have developed such a great relationship.

Here's the birthday boy (holding court, as usual....he is a natural born salesman...wish I had that in me!)

This is my other brother (he's 2 years older than me):

My parents:

Husband extraordinaire:

This is a family tradition now. At family gatherings, my sister-in-law always gives me the finger when I take her picture. I even have one of her flipping me off at my wedding. Seriously, it's funny!

My niece's little girl can make you work for one of her charming giggles. But for Breen, it's no problem. Kids love him. I think he is going to be such a wonderful grandfather one day...but not TOO soon :)

So, what else is new around here?

1. I've finished a custom order apron
2. I've started Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut
3. I'm thinking up something good to make for dinner

Go over here to my food blog to get the 411 on this dish:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday morning and a few Japanese things

Holy Cow, did we have some thunder and lightning last night! It's 9:15am and I'm loving my Saturday morning. It's still raining out and that makes it perfect for lounging around in my husband's dress shirt, sipping coffee, reading and sewing. I'm savoring all of this because by lunch time, we will be driving in the car for a few hours. Let me recap the morning:

Lounging around in Breen's shirt sipping coffee:

This morning I made two new cloth journal covers with some fabric I found yesterday. I'm absolutely IN LOVE with this fabric. The gorgeous lantern blossoms evoke the feeling of Japan for me. I still need to add some ties, but they're almost ready for my Etsy shop! Go on over here for a browse around The Painted House.

And speaking of Japan, yesterday I found these adorable sandals at the local Japanese store. This is the best $10 I've spent since San Diego!

I'm reading Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto, a Japanese writer. Last night I came across a passage that literally floored me. I'm going to share it with you now:

Each one of us continues to carry the heart of each self we've ever been, at every stage along the way, and a chaos of everything good and rotten. And we have to carry this weight all alone, through each day that we live. We try to be as nice as we can to the people we love, but we alone support the weight of ourselves.

Here's the dinner Max made last night. He's an awesome cook and I try to encourage him to keep at it. Not only is preparing food a blissful experience, it opens one to the possibilities of trying all sorts of new things. I'm still committed to eating meatless and proud of myself for sticking to it. Everyone here raves about "Max's chicken". I'm sure I'm missing out on one hell of a culinary treat.

Friday, August 21, 2009

book worm and sarongs

Here's one sentence to describe me today: I am a book toting, sarong wearing slightly conventional woman. It's true. I'm back in to a reading phase and that means one thing; one book will not do. When I go to the library, they've got a little wagon reserved just for me to carry out all of my books :)) Here's a selected library review for you:

1. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (If you don't know Banana, get yourself to the library NOW.)
2. Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto
3. Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut (No need for introduction here)
4. Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut

I've also got books on CD and a big pile of books I own lined up.

I've owned sarongs in the past but I lost them in my last move. I bought 3 in San Diego and I have to say that this is a required summer garment for me. Incredibly versatile and perfect for this nasty heat wave. Make it a skirt or a dress...that's a lot of bang for the buck. In San Diego, I sat next to a woman at the beach who put elastic on hers and sewed it up. It made a fantastic strapless dress without the hassle of having to tie it up.

Today, I'm off to the Farmer's Market with my camera and my eye on some fresh produce. We've got a busy weekend ahead. It's my brother's 50th birthday and we are off to Maryland to toast the old geezer :)))) Thank God I'm still the baby of the family.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Art Sale (a new spin on the Yard Sale)

So, I've had this creative flash for a few months now: I'd like to have an Art Sale at my house within the next 2 months. Not only does it give me some time to work up a decent inventory, it also would be nice to have it during the cooler weather. If it caught on, I could have more and eventually, I could invite other local artists to participate. I think we all would love to sell directly. I can see clearly in my mind's eye:

Food and drink out on the front porch
A table with my jewelry and cake stands
Collage prints
Journals in baskets
Aprons hanging all around

If people have yard sales, why not an art sale? It would certainly be nice to get my name out there locally. Still, people are funny about selling so I'll be checking with the township to make sure it's OK before I start plastering my fliers all over town.

Here are some necklaces that I'll be putting on my Etsy Shop. The middle one is my grandfather and that one will not be for sale. BUT...I will use it as an example of custom work. Every time I wear him, I get a zillion compliments. I love having him near my heart :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: Who is the "you" that you wish to be?

This week's prompt was actually challenging for me. There was a time in my life when I wished I could be anyone but me. I always had amazing gifts and talents inside but I just couldn't see them. Then one day, through life's ups and downs,those gifts and talents were brought forth slowly one by one. I felt like a brand new shiny penny. Today, my life is blessed and so different than what I could have possibly imagined. I am:

A devoted wife
A loving mother
A creative force to be reckoned with
44 years YOUNG

My greatest challenge with myself in this moment is trying to find out what my life's purpose is from a work standpoint. On the hardest days, I forget about my gifts and uniqueness and I behave like a wounded animal instead of the divine being that I know I am. I lose my footing on my path with God. My greatest wish for myself is to stay rooted in my faith that my perfect path is already unfolding. I wish for more patience as I walk it every day. I wish to honor every loving attribute about myself even when I find myself paddling upstream in a boat called "self-pity".

Monday, August 17, 2009

Aprons for Sale!

I finally managed to get 11 out of 17 aprons on my Etsy store. Go on over here to take a look. It was a learning lesson in organization because my apron pictures were divided between two computers; hence, it took me twice as long to get them on the shop. I'll be adding lots more items...stay tuned!

We are in the middle of another heat wave today. It's the kind of heat that makes you want to crawl in to a walk-in refrigerator and stay there until Fall. Tomorrow, I'm taking the kids to a water park. That should make all of us happy since we've been sitting around the house staring at each other lately. Only 2 more weeks until school starts again and I am looking forward to it. Next summer, I'm planning a family vacation mid-August. I really miss not going to the lake in New Hampshire this summer but I wouldn't trade my time in San Diego with Breen for all the rice in China.

Here's a cloth journal cover that I made today. I'll be adding a section on Etsy for these. What do you think?

Friday, August 14, 2009


Hot husband at La Jolla Cove. I've never seen him more relaxed. He loves the beach so much.

Another favorite pic from San Diego. Wish we were still there lying on the beach together.

This week has really gone quickly! I've been busy doing a little bit of everything: cooking, reading, job searching, creating and running around with the kids. I'm in one of those reading phases again. In the beginning of the week, I went to the library and came back with 5 books. I've read 2 already and I'm working on the rest of the stack. Next up is Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Wish me luck on that classic! I'm proud of myself this week. I've managed to get back on track with my meatless eating. As long as I take it one day at a time, it's not so overwhelming. I ate so much meat in San Diego. It's amazing how one tumble from grace can lead to the old patterns so quickly. When we were flying home, I thought about all the half finished ideas and projects that fill my life. I'm so very tired of incomplete things. I thought to myself, "what if I pick just one of those ideas and stick with it?". Eating meatless was at the top of my list. Maybe because it's one of the most challenging for me. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to stay meatless. One of the pivotal moments for me was in San Diego. We were in our hotel room on the last night munching on some curried chicken salad while we packed. Quite a few bites had some cartilage and I was grossed out by it. I remember thinking two things:

1. This is ridiculous. Why am I eating this if it grosses me out?

2. I bet this would be so delicious made with tofu instead of chicken.

And so, I take my seat back on the vegetable truck. I hope for good this time. Go over to the meatless blog. I've written a fun post today that I think you'll enjoy. Happy Friday!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

San Diego treasures

Ever since I was a little girl, I always got a thrill at the small, sentimental gifts. I still don't care for expensive material things. Here are a few of my favorite treasures from San Diego:

On the way to the beach one day, we drove past a huge beach thrift store with colorful Hawaiian print shirts for men in the window. We went in and I found this dress for $9. It was brand new and has become one of my favorite little dresses. I've already visually determined that there are only 5 pieces required to make this dress.....hello pattern making :))

One day while Breen was doing an open water swim out in the ocean, I sat at the edge of the water and picked handfuls of colorful sea glass. I found the piece of rope netting on the sidewalk while we were returning our snorkel equipment at the kayak shop.

One of the colorful sarongs I purchased:

A plastic child's version of a VW Van for $4.99 purchased in Pacific Beach (I discovered the adorable blue surfboard that clips on top of the van is missing in action....I will find it in this house!)

A beautiful sunset viewed at Mt. Solodad (it overlooks all of San Diego):

Black's Beach.....good times, good times.... :)))))

La Jolla Cove:

One night, while strolling on the beach, we spotted a lifeguard stand with my lucky number 52 (Ok, so it's in reverse...but it still has the combination of my number):

What else is new around here? Let's see....
If you want to have a little fun, go over here to my food blog and check out my first attempt at a video blog on how to make kale chips. Max took the video and we'd like to keep making more.

Here's a new half apron. Kind of reminds me of the Mod Squad...I love it! And YES, a whole crop of aprons will be on my Etsy store by the end of the week...that's a promise!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday...What door do you wish to open?

Today's wishcasting prompt really resonated with me. I'm finding myself in a tiny slump right now. I've been out of work since June and not feeling very good about it. I've been looking and have even had a lead or two but the market is slow and I'm not seeing a whole lot that excites me. I'm feeling a bit inadequate and very unworthy of the blessings that have come my way. I feel like I'm letting my husband down with each passing day that I still remain home. I'm sure the kids don't mind; it's summer after all and they're glad to have me around. But I see the time passing by quickly and I'm scared about the uncertainty of it all. More than anything now, my wish is to have the door opened that unfolds the next place I'm meant to be on this working path. Doors are a funny thing. How many times have you heard someone say, "When one door closes, another one opens."? There have been many doors that closed in my life and, in time, new doors always opened. Sometimes, just when I thought a new door would never open, some of the best blessings came my way. And so it is now that I wish for a new door to open which will lead me ultimately to a very satisfying, creative and rewarding new way of earning income.

Monday, August 10, 2009


It's Monday and I'm really trying to get myself back in to the routine of things. It's so damn hot though (98 degrees, 100% humidity and no central air). I'm quite miserable and I hate feeling this way. Ever since I was pregnant with my daughter 10 years ago, I haven't done well with high heat and humidity. To add to this, two more things:

1. we ate like crazy on vacation and I feel heavier than ever. Today especially, I feel like a fat slug. I can't even venture to the gym in this heat wave.

2. Breen and I picked up chest colds since we've been home. SO....I feel feverish on top of the 98 degree heat....lovely.

Today, I took the kids over to my ex in law's house to swim, which is where I also lived for over 10 years in a carriage house on the property (even after my ex and I had divorced). Unfortunately, I did not move out of there on good terms with them. I knew as soon as I pulled up that I didn't feel good being there. Even though they were not home, the energy was horrible and I couldn't wait to leave. On the way home, I stopped at the store to get a shower liner. I ran in to my old neighbor that lived next door to my ex in-laws. I had not seen her in a few years. I had flashbacks of my old life and the whole drive home, I realized how ready I am to move on to wherever it is that we are supposed to live next. I'm ready to make new directions for myself. I'm ready to go with my husband to wherever we are lead to. I used to hate change; now I am welcoming it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back from the Honeymoon

It feels like I've been away from here forever. Breen and I just spent the last week in San Diego for our honeymoon. We stayed in La Jolla. Lots of sun, beach and great food. Breen was able to do some awesome open water swims in La Jolla Cove while I sat at the water's edge and found sea glass. We kayaked and snorkeled out in the ocean and hit Black's Beach twice. Black's Beach might be the only nude beach in California. To get there, you've got to walk to the bottom of a very tall cliff. Of course once you get to the bottom, you have to walk back up the same very tall cliff. It was so worth the hike. I'm a bit of an exhibitionist in my own home so it was nice to do that in public without anyone raising an eyebrow. We would seriously love to live out in La Jolla but it seems it may have to wait since houses in the beach area are upwards of $1.6 million. For now, we'll just have to visit when we get the chance. I love California. At least in San Diego, it was a melting pot of people, beautiful weather and gorgeous sunsets. Coming back to the east coast felt like a let down....but we had to get back to our lives here at some point in time.

So now we are back to the grind, as they say. I'll be starting back on my job search tomorrow, catching up on laundry and spending the next few weeks with the kids until school starts up again. It is amazing how fast the summer flies.