September 29, 2010

New blog schedule

One of the major things I heard from my blog survey was that it is best to have a regular blog schedule, and that every other day is optimal. Before the summer I used to do Tue, Thur and Sat, but I think for a change I am going to do Mon, Wed, Fri.

The second thing was I discovered most folks come here for 3 main reasons: mixed media tutorials, the topic of motherhood and photography. So I am going to continue to focus on those topics. I have 'named' my themes.... to rhyme with the day. Yes, I know many do it and it is kind of cutesy (which I really am not), but honestly I think it is going to help me keep focused and allow you, my readers to know what to expect here.  

So here they are:

Mother Muses Monday

- topics: thoughts about being a mom in general, motherhood poetry, life as a mom, how awesome my kids are :), how to survive motherhood, the joys of being a mom, homeschooling, time management, links to good resources, etc

Wednesday Workshop 

- Workshop topics: demos of mixed media/collage projects and supplies, re/upcycling projects, possibly some kids crafts. I would love to have some guest posts here too - all focused on the 'how to', those beloved tutorials.

or Wordless Wednesday (Alternative weeks)

- Wordless topics: I know many folks already are doing this, so it needs little introduction - basically whatever photo feels right for the day. Workshops and tutorials take a while to prepare so this will give me time to do it without burning out and anyhow I have a plethora of photos to share!

Art Finds Friday

- topics: 5 independent things all related to art (art in the broadest sense - mixed media, photography, poetry, music and so on) – inspiring blog links, intro to cool supplies, an art challenge for the weekend, art giveaway, random thoughts about being an artist, music links - basically whatever I feel like talking about with the only restriction that I only include one topic per point. So no rambling thoughts or paragraphs.

So I hope this will help you to come visit me when a topic that interests you is posted! The schedule will begin Monday October 4. So join me please.

Thank you again for helping me with the survey. It has been invaluable. 

September 27, 2010

Creative friends

You may notice that I have changed my blog from 'An Artful Life' to 'The Artistic Life'. I have been meaning to do this for a while but just haven't had the time. Then, yesterday Shannon Mucha, Becky McBee  and myself did a phootshoot together & when I processed the photo of the tag with the buttons I loved it and knew it was perfect. So there you go! 

I talk about Shannon a whole lot on this blog. That is cause we do so much together. I can't tell you how much she inspires me to work (and do school, be a good Mom and wife and so on)! I would be half the 'artistic' person I am without her. We are just meant to be friends.

How we became friends is kind of a cool story. It was 10 years ago and had just had a baby and was in that new Mom process of re-examining my life, who I am, what kind of mom I want to be, who I want to be friends with, you know?  I was sitting outside our old church nursing Matthew and I saw this lovely artsy looking woman with a baby in her arms walking past. I said to myself 'I should be friends with her'. Little did I know I really should and would be!

A few weeks later she and her husband visited our Bible study class and I made a bee line for her. I found out she made handmade cards, which I also did at the time. I was so delighted! But almost immediately I heard they moved north of Houston and would not be coming back to our church. So we didn't become friends at that time. She was just someone I briefly met.

Fast forward 6 years, we had moved out north to Magnolia and were settled in a new church and then one day Shannon was there! I remembered her and made a second bee line. And we have been friends every since. 

Yesterday Shannon and another friend were over.  Becky McBee, she has no website, but is another artistic soul. I couldn't have been happier to have my 2 friends here together! So, the 3 of us worked on this photoshoot, arranging things to make 'frames' for poetic words, inspired by this book called Etcetera, while our kids (all about the same ages) played freeze tag, hide and seek and danced to pop music.

My perfect day.

Isn't it so great when you have friends that make the possibilities seem endless? Where the conversation never runs out and time is never enough to do all you want to do? Creative community. I like to think I am building that here, online too. I get inspired by the lovely souls who leave me a comment -  it makes me want to do more, to keep on going even when I am tired from the day with the kids. I get inspired by visiting your blogs and seeing what you are doing, what projects you are working on. Creative friends, you can never have enough of them! Agree?

And on that note, thank you so much for all the help on my blog via that survey. I am processing all the data and comments this week, but really it has been very, very helpful! Thank you.

September 23, 2010

Your opinion please

I am in the process of reviewing my blog content. I really would like to hear your opinion. The survey is anonymous, so feel free to let loose! It should be appearing as a pop up, if that gets annoying then I will embed it in a blog post (if I can work out how to do that!!!). You may need to enable pop ups in order to be directed to the survey. Once you have completed the survey the pop up will no longer appear. 

I appreciate your time, so I have made it as short as I could, but still valuable to me. It should take less that 2 minutes to complete, if even that much!

This is my first survey, so I may be tweaking it a little over the next few days.


September 21, 2010

For any (wannabe) dog lovers

I had the opportunity to do a guest post on the fab Chrysti Hydeck's blog today. It is for any folks who need to be reminded, despite the busyness of motherhood to remember to love our pets! I so need to remember this one. Oh my!

I hope you go an visit me over there.


September 18, 2010

Inspiration boards

I so enjoyed reading the comments about how you are mixing your media here. I am glad that we are all in this mixed media world together.

Thank you for weighing in and for entering my journal giveaway. There is a winner - it is Peggy of Pig Logs and 'tater berries'. Let's talk via e-mail and when I have your address I will mail you your little notebook.


I have only a small window a day to myself to think and create. This month I added something else into that time slot. It is an online class all about blogging. I signed up for it on a whim, hoping to gain a little perspective to help me plan my blog, but it has turned out to be so much more. It is 'Blogging Your Way' hosted by Holly of Decor8 and co-taught by Leslie of A Creative Mint. It is an amazingly professional course with many articles and podcasts and homework that makes you think and do some real soul searching.  It is leading to me thing about so much more than blogging. Good stuff.

And well attended. There is probably over 500 folks in the class and it seems that many folks are doing the homework and posting it to the forums. Reading about other's blogs and blog ideas has also been food for thought. 

On Friday's Leslie showed us all about styling photographs and making inspiration boards. I showed the post to Lily, so as you can imagine she wanted to do one too. So she did:

Inspiration Board by Lily, age 8

I love having artistic children!!! (see those little stamps mid left? they are some stamps I have been carving from photos this week for a Stampington project).

Another aspect of the class was to make an inspiration board specifically for my blog. I can't believe I have not done this before. It is not like I have not read about it, but taking this class gave me the opportunity to do it. Here is mine:

Blogging inspiration board
When 'Blogging Your Way' course comes around again I highly recommend it.

I started to talk about this by way of telling you that I am using up my time on something other than, albeit related to, blogging. I have some major deadlines coming up too, so I will not be blogging for a while. I will be back, fresh and with a new lease on blog life soon.

Take care,


September 14, 2010

On Turning Ten (Billy Collins)

Matthew, you made me a mother. You set my feet on this wonderful path 10 years ago. I am in awe at what a fine young man you are becoming. You are loyal, kind, loving to your sisters and little brother, passionate about your world and your friends. You have been gifted with a brilliant mind, and you know "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:48

Today, we won't do school. We will eat out where you desire. We will give gifts in your honor and sing to you. And we will read this poem, On Turning Ten by Billy Collins and after all these year of reading it, it is finally yours! Double digits!

On Turning Ten
by Billy Collins
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

September 11, 2010

The beauty of layers

I am a dyed-in-the-wool mixed media person. I love layers. I love non-minimal. I love to combine art and images, words and photos. Movies are made (or broken) by the strength of the soundtrack. Somehow for me combining the arts always feels stronger.

Combining art with a friend's:
This is our latest Echo submission for the theme of Portal:
Shannon Mucha, left; Shona Right

Combining photos with rubber stamp photoshop tool:

Combining photos with mixed media art:

Combining photos with poetic words:
How do you mix your media?



Leave me a comment if you would like to win one of my little notebooks. 

Only if you promise to use it, to fill it with some words of reflection, words that will record something beautiful about your life.... deal?

I will let you know if your name comes up by Wednesday 9/15/10 ****** update ****** I am extending this deadline to Saturday 9/18/10 as I don't have a post ready for today!!!! I am working on a blogging schedule to keep me organized.  


September 08, 2010

30 lb (less) later....

Okay, so I had a baby last year, but excuses aside I was 30lb heavier in December that I am today. I am back to my pre-baby. Yeah! But more importantly I feel healthy and fresh.

And I can attribute it to the South Beach diet. It focuses on cutting the carbs, like Atkins, but better cause it has such good recipes. It helps that you can buy anything you want sugar free in the US (in Ireland this summer I had a really hard time sticking to it.... what do diabetics in Eire do??).

Now, as an extra layer of accountability I have teamed up with Shannon Mucha to make art out of our diet healthy lifestyle. Each week we are going to photograph one of our South Beach meals. The only rule is that have to post by Friday in our collaboration Flickr group, Bloom. So we can shoot the shopping, prep, cooking, presentation, family enjoying the meal.... any aspect of the process of bringing food to the table to nourish our families. 

So today it began! Even though I chop onions and steam spinach everyday, I was nervous. I know that there is a huge 'food photography' world out there and I have never taken food photos, think Pioneer Woman!!! I am not even going to try to match that. I am going to try, if possible, to find my own foodie voice. 

It will be a challenge. But it will be fun cause it is new (I love a new challenge) and Shannon is doing it too (everything is better when you have a buddy on board) and the focus is on my home and the beauty of home making. 

I am not going to say you should do South Beach today, but seriously folks - between the Muchas (Shan and hubby) and the Coles (Mark and I) we have lost about 115lb these past 8 months! It really works. And we have not been miserable or starving. Nope, we have eaten yummy food. No, really yummy, not 'diet' miserable food. And I no longer crave sugary or starchy foods or feel sleepy and sluggish in the afternoon. Oh, if I could turn back the clock and be 35 again too!!!! Alas, South Beach can't fix everything. 


Of course, I love that my kids got in on the act too.... here are 2 photos that Lily, 8 took while I was cooking:

Lily's favorite image. She 'knew' this was a good capture as soon as she took it.
Lily got up on a stool to get this one! A photographer in the making.


Thank you to all those who entered my peg giveaway. My camera finally worked again after removing all the batteries from camera and computer (yes, a simple fix, phew!)

Here are the pegs (I may do a few more too):

and they go to.....

Jolene of Pieces of Me

Send me your address and I will mail them to you soon!

September 04, 2010

How to make a homemade gallery

The final piece to my house remodel was to create a space to hang some of our artistic creations in our new craft room. The craft room has windows that had these ugly window treatments, not curtains but triangles of heavy material that served no real purpose. I decided to take them down and hang art from the remaining curtain rods.  My sweet girls helped me put it together. It took 2 days, I thought I would share it with you:

Day 1, we decorated some wooden pegs:

1) We took apart a whole package of wooden pegs, setting the wire joining things aside.

2) We painted the pegs (this one was done by Lily, age 8)

3) When they were dry, we stamped on the flat side of the pegs with Staz On ink:

4) We reassembled the pegs (I put all the wires back on as they are difficult to do, I used a two needle nose pliers so that I didn't break all my nails!)

Day 2, we added the wires and hung them up:

1) We cut pieces of wire about 12 inches long (yes, my daughters did help on this).

2) Next we threaded the wire through the round middle of the peg, bent a short tip over and twisted it. The photos should explain it better:

3) Then I attached the wired peg to the curtain rod

4) And then we used the pegs to hang up all our art work.

Viola: our own art gallery!

(next project - paint those craft room walls!!!)

There are many ways of making a hanging gallery in your house, but I like this one because of the painted pegs. I like that our 'art' has function. I like that we made it together. As the girls grow we are doing more and more crafty things together. I love it!!

THIS WEEK - a 'leave a comment' giveaway!
I would like to give away some of the pegs that I made to someone who loves functional art! I stamped them with some stamps from this collection over at Stampington & Co. I can't show you a photo as somehow my camera has decided to not communicate with my computer, but I hope to get it fixed soon and show you how lovely these stamps look on painted pegs. They look something like these ones that I made a while back:

So for a chance to win some of these pegs, please leave me a comment and I will do a drawing next Wednesday (9-8-10). 


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