August 31, 2009

August 29, 2009

Green Crafts

You have to check out one of Stampington's latest magazines 'Green Craft'. Jenny Doh talks about showing that being 'green' and 'chic' are not mutually exclusive and I think they really proved it in this issue. There are aprons made from plastic bags, bowls & purses made from junk mail, necklaces made from old sweaters, garlands made from coffee filters, banners made from newspaper, art made from - I kid you not - dryer sheets! I could go on, but I recommend you get a copy. It is very inspiring.

I have a few pieces in a section called 'Cereal Box Chic'. I was delighted to find that artist, Lisa Guerin is in this section too. I made some gift boxes out of those mini cereal boxes that kids love to devour - something about a mini version of the regular Rice Krispie box makes breakfast taste a little better, you know? Stampington did a fabulous layout and the photography is stunning. I am very pleased to be a part of the publication.

One thing I like about using recycled materials is they are easy to get. No need to take a trip to the store, I just have to keep my eye open for stuff in my home. I have been collecting junk mail for the purpose of making mini journals.

For this journal I glued a bunch of pages together for strength, gessoed them, painted them, then cut them into the front and back of a journal cover. I used other sheets of junk mail gessoed, painted paper for the journal pages. It is still a work in progress, got a few more embellishments to go before it is finished.

I also used old newspaper as the backdrop for this collage.

August 27, 2009

(slight) Break from the hot weather


When lunch was nearing
we heard a familiar distant rumble
then a plinking of a slight storm rain
on the tin roof

but we didn’t expect the relief when later
on the porch eating ice-pops
we found the weight of summer
had lifted for a moment
like a sheet bloomed above an unmade bed
and in that sudden lightness they remember
to play old outside games
raising lids on toy boxes
in the banished garage playroom,
racing, scattering beneath the humid canopy
that would soon descend

like the solitude that ends when children,
piled in daddy’s car, return from
play grounds or birthday parties to a house
made orderly again in their absence.

August 25, 2009

Billy Collins interview on Littoral

Check out this interesting interview of poet Billy Collins on the literary journal 'Littoral' of the website Key West Literary Seminar.

My favorite quote from this interview is "I read others not to steal but to find gates of departure for my own flights".

What a relief to arty souls who like to borrow! Looking at the art of others, reading their poems is a way of finding that starting point for your own art. If it is good enough for Collins, it is good enough for me!

August 22, 2009

Photo pendant

I have not made any soldered pendants for a long time. I am going to be making one for my aunt in Ireland so I thought I better practice by making one for myself. Last week I was browsing Mendy's blog and she had some on there so I thought, yes, this week is the week to get out all my soldering tools. I am terrible at cutting the glass, so luckily I already had some cut (albeit not terribly square!).

Being pregnant and all I thought I would do a newborn themed pendant. I took this photo of my friend's baby, Jubilee, last year when she was only 5 days old and printed out a tiny copy of it to use. I pretty much always wear black, so I made this necklace black and grey, which goes well with the black and white photo as well as my favorite pregnancy shirt.

August 21, 2009


Congratulations to two of the contributors to my book: Corey Moortgat and Shannon Mucha

ABC by Corey Moortgat

Corey has had her first baby girl. You may know her from her book 'The Art of Personal Imagery'. When she was writing that book she had a son and was pregnant with her second boy. In that book and on her blog she has some great scrapbook pages and collages that reflect her boy momma life. Now it will be fun to watch her art change to include and reflect her daughter! Congratulations Corey. You are a beautiful Mother and artist.

Shannon has published a children's coloring book. She created this book in her capacity as a graphic artist for Parent & Child Educational Services or PACES. I look forward to getting my kids a copy. Shannon you are a wonderful illustrator, photographer and Mother.

I am so fortunate to know these lovely women who are truly a picture of 'Artistic Mother'.

August 20, 2009

The Order of Things

The Order of Things (in progress)

‘Momma, I love you’ is whispered in every corner,
every place that is dark, light, in the cobwebs up high,
the dust in the corner, a swirl of unswept dog hair, granola bar
wrapper, spilt OJ dried, sticky, forgotten, unflushed toilets,
too much paper used, a costume abandoned, hair brush about
to fling itself off the table from overuse, full of tangles of mousy
hair, tangled words and meanings, meaning one thing and then another
doors ajar, bed clothes on the floor, undrained bathtubs, little toothbrushes,
sippy cups in my kitchen drawer.

‘Momma, I love you’ is shouted again and again, drowning out
my other life tucked in journals, in blue pen, in another drawer,
silent, waiting for this version to pass by, quiet, knowing it’s place
in the order of things.
Like the dog who stepped aside the day I brought that curious baby home curled in a carseat, smelling like me but not quite.
He knew the order then: how that child, now crying for milk, pressed more than that afternoon walk.
He knew his turn was over, his moment of importance, gone,
at least until the child resolved to claim him as her own, lay love on his aging body, and cry at his passing.

for Shannon Mucha, myself and all the other Moms who have also loved dogs...

August 18, 2009

Poetry listening and children

In school this year my kids and I are listening to a CD of poems read by actors. The CD is a companion to the book 'The Poets' Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family' complied by John Lithgow. Lithgow introduces and explains why he likes each one while different actors read some 50 poems.

You can hear (see) Carol Muske-Duke and John Lithgow reading some from the book:

There is nothing quite like poetry performed, it transfixes. Even my kids love to listen to poetry. Last year we read and listened to poems from the book 'Poetry Speaks to Children'. They loved the pictures and learned some of the poems by heart. I thought that we would be finished reading the book half way through the year, but we read and re-read and re-read the poems all year long, they never got bored of hearing them. It was lovely to see which ones became their favorites. They were a little disappointed when I told them we have a new plan this year. But I think they will like listening to this new CD.

They also did poetry writing last year. We used 'Writing Poetry with Children'. It was fairly simple, a decent introduction to different forms of poetry. I filmed them reading their poems, it was good 'public' speaking practice. Lily was very shy at first, but she gained confidence as the year went on.

This year I plan to wing it. I will have them write whatever inspires them about one of that week's literature books. For example, yesterday the girls and I read 'Blueberries for Sal' (while eating blueberries and cream) and then they did an illustration from the book for drawing practice. Tomorrow, in 'poetry' class I will work with them on writing a poem based on Sal, Little Bear and the blueberries. (I am sure Matthew will write on something different being a boy and older (in soul if not much in age)) We'll see how it goes!

August 13, 2009


This week I have been focused on getting the house ready for school. We are starting back early as I am sure I will want to take a few weeks off school when I have the baby. So we need to get a headstart.

I love getting ready for school. I love making a plan and looking ahead. I love buying new books and supplies like I did when I was in school. I started by clearing out last years books and bringing in this years books (though we don't have Matthew's books yet, I cleared him some shelf space).

It is amazing how many bookshelves a room can hold!

Matthew will be in 6th grade this year. He uses a curriculum by Veritas Press. The only subjects he will do with the girls are Art and Poetry and the only subject I will do exclusively with him is a 'drawing dragons' course. He pretty much schools himself, his dad reviews his work and answers his questions and does the discussions with him. That way I am free to school the girls.

The girls are using some Veritas Press and some My Father's World for school this year. Lily is in 2nd, Laura 1st and Annie, well she is just along for the ride and pretty much does lots of coloring and talking. Lily and Laura are going to be doing many of the same subjects as I don't have time to do them separately. Besides the usual Math, Bible, Phonics (Laura) and Grammar (Lily), Literature, History, Science, Greek (Lily) Art, Art appreciation, Poetry listening we are starting sewing this year! I am so excited. Laura really wants to learn to sew and I found this fun course called Kid Sew. I would love to make my girls some dresses, so I will be learning right along with them!

It took me all week to clear out the room. I was slowed down by 1) Annie having chickenpox, resulting in me having to go to the doctor to get three shots to ensure I don't get it (as pregnancy and chickenpox don't mix well) and 2) my girls constantly playing and wanting me to play too and do their hair and take their picture:

When one of my girls dresses up or gets their hair done, the rest must follow:

I am almost all ready for the school year. Now if we could just get to bed early Sunday night so we can get up and get going Monday morning.

August 11, 2009

Book recommendation

For anyone wanting to know a little more about the craft of poetry I highly recommend this book: The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser. It is easy to read, full of great advice about writing poems and is peppered with examples of poems to explain his points.

Ted Kooser was the US Poet Laureate for 2 years and writes very concrete, storytelling type poems about ordinary life. I have an hour long Podcast of him reading is poetry and he really takes you to his tangible world. Check out this link to read a few of his poems. I particularly like the 2nd one entitled 'Tattoo', he paints a picture of the passing of time without being melodramatic. Good stuff.

August 08, 2009

The art of borrowing

I was browsing the pages of Stampers' Sampler this week (in which I have a piece published) enjoying the handiwork of others and wanted to make something too. Anything. But I was feeling creatively empty. I was busy this week focusing on reviewing my book and getting the house ready for a new school year and have not been focusing on the arty things of life.

So what to do when the fingers are itching to create but the creative mind is blank?

I decided rather than struggle to come up with something new I would 'borrow' an idea from another artist! OK, some may be shocked at such plagiarism, but in my desperation I prefer to focus on the 'imitation is flattery' angle!

So I picked some cards in the 'Take Ten' section of the magazine and used them as templates for my own cards.

The green and orange cards above are by Teri Anderson (mine are the blue and brown ones, using stamps by Sandra Evertson)

The green cards are by Diana Foster

During the week Lily also wanted to some stamping. Usually I give her the stamps and ink and let her go off on her own. She will invariably create a 'scene' that is more of a sketch than a finished piece. But this time I suggested that she borrow a template from Stampers' Sampler too. Here is the one she picked. I think that she did a really good job (I helped with the paper cutting).

The Tulip card is by Barb Pladziewicz

So thank you to Teri Anderson, Diana Foster and Barb Pladziewicz for putting their art out there and thanks for the inspiration.

August 04, 2009

Billy Collins

I love this poet. He is clever, insightful and so funny. I own 2 CD's of him reading his poems and never tire of hearing his voice and words.

Check out this link to hear the Billy Collins radio. This 'radio station' will play poems by Collins and many similar poets. I like to run it in the background while I am at the computer.

Here is a poem by Billy Collins that always makes me laugh:


By Billy Collins

Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called "Find the Cow."
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent a badly broken code.

The 1790's will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

August 01, 2009

Back & jet lagged

Bye, bye granny!
We are safely home from our time in Ireland. My kids are such troopers, we had a smooth 20 hour journey via Chicago (oh I wish they would create a straight flight Houston to Dublin). The kids colored, slept, played games and watched movies on the flight. As we got home very late Thursday night I thought that they would sleep in on Friday, but alas, no. They got up at 6am the last two mornings! So by the afternoon I feel like I have done a whole day.

We are back to normal other than time: 2 of my kid's friends are sleeping over, we went to Chick Fil A for lunch, Matthew and Mark went to Karate and the girls have been crafting.

I am currently making my kid's school schedule and making time to read my final author review for the book. I sent my initial edits to Liz while I was in Ireland and then the book went to the copy editor. Once I do this final read through and send in the next wave of edits then the book will go to the designer, Marissa Bowers.

I didn't have a fast internet connection while away and loading photos took 10 minutes a piece so I have a backlog of photos, here are some more images from our trip:

And baby continues to grow!
Excuse me while I break my blogging schedule, I will be back to normal soon enough!


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