Sunday, September 19, 2010


I love the fall.  I hear it's on the way, although it's sometimes hard to tell in North Texas.   Last week it was 100 degrees one day.  As I sat in my car waiting for school to be out, I watched my 6 year old run like lightning on the playground, darting at rapid speeds with her classmates, hollering, chasing, laughing, faces bright red and drenched with sweat.  The summer of 2010 is going out with a bang, but I guess when you're in first grade, recess is recess, and you can't let a little heat get you down.

The start of school has brought big adjustments for our family.  My daughter is at a new school, and for the first time, she's in school all day.  And also for the first time in 6 years, I have buckets of time to myself, and I can't say I'm always that thrilled about it.  I miss my girl.  This from the mom who was about to go mad at the end of the summer, as my daughter and I were both ready to strangle each other from so much togetherness! And now it feels she's just GONE.  Though I have a To Do list a mile long, I can't seem to figure out what to do with myself just yet.  It's as if I've blinked my eyes and my baby's growing up.  The transition for both of us so far has not always been so smooth, neither one of us are big fans of change.  Annie loves many things about "big kid school", though, so I'm hoping that once she settles in and things don't feel quite so brand new, we will adjust to our "new normal", and maybe enjoy the changes a little bit, too.

I plan on spending more time in the art room while my kidlet's away.  I have 3 shows coming up, so I need to get cracking.   I am gradually getting into a daily routine and have some new ideas for pieces to make, such as handmade journals and bracelets out of spoons.  The piece above is a present I made for my friend's 50th birthday, speaking of Life Changes.  My daughter and I came up with 50 things we love about our dear Shari, wrote them down, then stuffed them into a sweet little change purse that I altered with old beads, buttons, jewelry, and copper trim.  I love how it turned out, and it's almost befitting enough for my wonderful friend, who, by the way, makes 50 look like 35.  I love making altered pieces, and more like this one are in the works.

I'm ready for pumpkins, mums on my front porch, making Halloween plans, weather that's actually cooler than 90!  Fall is a change I will gladly welcome.  How about you all?  What do you look forward to this time of year?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Healer of Hearts

Kara is a friend I met at church a few years ago.  I had the opportunity to know her better as I was part of her Child/Parent Relationship Therapy group last spring.  She is a play therapist and soon-to-be college professor, and she led this group as part of her dissertation studies.  It was here that I discovered many things--lessons about myself, tools for my family, and the truth about our leader.

You see, Kara is a rock star.  She has made her life's mission of reaching children deeply impacted by trauma and loss, and works to provide a roadmap to healing for the families who love them.  She has a unique understanding of small people who have led painful lives overwhelmed by big problems, and her approach to helping them heal is inspiring.  Through the therapy she leads and the classes she teaches, she is putting families back together.  The compassion, respect, and patience she applies as she connects with each child is amazing, and she provides skills for their parents to do the same.  I came away from this experience knowing the world would be a better place if we all treated each other with the same principles taught in this special group.

Kara recently graduated with her PhD in counseling.  I was honored when her husband asked me to create an art piece for her as a graduation gift.  He wanted something related to her field of study, but left the rest up to me.  As a play therapist, Kara teaches "play is a child's language, and toys are their words", so when I came across my stash of old toys, I knew they had to be part of her piece.  The doll shoe in the center has a tiny heart inside, complete with copper wings so it may soar.  Inside the tin cup on the K block below is a line of text from a 1910 book that reads "she likes to play".  Oh my, how I loved making this piece.  As each part came together, my awe and appreciation for Kara led the way, and so did my passion for the work she is doing.  (I will be making more assemblage boxes soon to sell on Etsy and at art shows this fall.  I also have a custom order in the works with a pair of baby shoes for a precious little girl's 2nd birthday, CUTE.  :)

We will say goodbye to Kara and her sweet family soon as they move to Wyoming where she will begin her job at a university.  There she will reach more parents and children, as she teaches her students to do the same.  We will miss them all.  I will always be grateful my path crossed with Kara's.  She is a Healer of Hearts, a Soother of Souls, and I know miracles will continue to happen under her care.  Rock on, dear Kara.  You will bring goodness and hope wherever you go.   Thank you for everything.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

She Dreams Big

When I first met Tori she was an impish and adorable 6 year old with the longest eyelashes I have ever seen.  One of my earliest memories of this sweet girl was the day I was crammed beside her in the cab of her dad's old pick-up, her mom at the wheel, as we dashed away to save a dog who was living on a short chain.  Tori's mom and I were Humane Society volunteers, and by a very young age, Tori was skilled in the ways of animal rescue

When we arrived at our destination, we found a beautiful young German Shepherd mix, sorely in need of love and attention.  She was so happy at the sight of us, this unruly and neglected pup was WILD with enthusiasm.  Her joyful mania could not be contained, as she bounded and wiggled and leaped in the sky as high as our heads.  She was intent on licking every square inch of our bodies.  Tori was unfazed, this seasoned rescuer knew just what to do.  She sat on the ground and quietly waited.  She held out her hand and remained still.  It took a long time, but Tori's state of calm took over and our overwhelmed pup settled down.  I was impressed.

This would not be the last time I would be impressed by my friend, Miss Tori.  Now a stunning eighteen year old, she recently graduated from high school.  She will be leaving for college in Indiana next fall, where she has a major scholarship to study classic ballet.  Along with other talents, Tori is an amazing and accomplished ballerina.  To watch her dance is to instantly smile, as you feel your heart soar!  Having my own dancing daughter now, I appreciate her love of dance even more.  She has also been my daughter's tap dance teacher for the past two years, and what a wonderful teacher she was.  Patience, kindness, creativity, and a sense of delight- all are strengths she instilled in her young students, and skills I've seen in Tori since early on. 

I made this collage for Tori, "She Dreams Big", using one of her old pointe shoes.  I plan to make more to sell at upcoming art shows and on Etsy.  I can also take custom orders using personal photos, pointe shoes, and other keepsakes, too.  I have a college in the works now using my daughter's first pair of ballet shoes, hopefully one day I will actually finish it.... 

Tori's collage has a quote by A.A. Milne which reads "Promise me you'll always remember: you're braver than you believe, and stronger than you think, and smarter than you know."  Words so very true, sweet Tori.  We will miss you.  And we will always be in your corner, cheering you on as you take the world by storm!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Confessions of a Blog Land Loser

Hi, I'm Laurie, and I'm a Blog Land Loser.  There, I said it.  Now it's off my chest.  I cannot believe it's been 2.5 months since my last post.  And I've only written a handful of posts in the last 7 months, big ol' heavy sigh.  Like so many fellow bloggers, I vowed to do better!  I have been crazy-busy this spring, although I can't really say with what.  Not because it's Top Secret (oh, that I could be so mysterious!), but because it all escapes my wee brain.  Whatever it was, it sure has been time-consuming.  And I'm sure it was important, too!

The funny thing about blogging is, I actually like doing it.  As a pretty private person, I had my doubts.  But after having art show customers and shop owners ask me if I had a blog, I finally decided to take the plunge last fall.  I was so nervous, not knowing if I'd have anything to say (as my family rolls with laughter, I am rarely at a loss for words...).  To my surprise, I found that I like blogging about my art, about where I find inspiration (my main sources are other artists, my sweet animals, Darling Daughter, Studly Husband :), the small things in life that make my world complete.  I've met some really interesting, very kind folks in my blogging experiences, too.  I have enjoyed the Blog Land ride, and hopefully I can get back in the saddle and ride some more.

My art room's been mostly silent this year.  I recently started two commissioned pieces and they have been very healing for my soul.  I also had a booth at Funky Finds Spring Fling in Fort Worth last March, and at Dallas City Arts in May.  The organizers of Spring Fling were great, with many friendly and talented artists there as well.  I hope to be able to do this show again in the future.  At City Arts I met a very talented jewlery artist, Leslie Todd.  Her booth, No Stone Unstrung, was right next to me, and I loved getting to know her and finding out we have so much in common.  And she is truly one of the nicest people.  I also met Richard and Marlys Kunkel of Wildflower Pottery, also seriously good folk.  (scroll down to the bottom of this link to see their amazement!)  Each piece of pottery they make is stunning, earthy, and has the lyrics to a Beatles song.  I could have spent a fortune in their booth, OH MY. I have a few shows planned in the fall that I need to get started on, after a major overhaul of my wild and crazy art room.  It's getting hard to even find a surface to work on.

I discovered a new book this spring, The Artistic Mother by Shona Cole.  Check it out here.  I love this book.  It has practical and beautiful ways for busy moms to carve out time to create every day.  There is also an online group that is reading the book and doing the projects inside together, as they share about their artistic explorations along the way-  Cindy Mayfield from Yapping Cat Studio is featured in Shona's book.  She hosts an art retreat, Paper Cowgirl, in Waxahachie, TX, and I'm looking forward to attending and meeting her there later this month.  I believe registration is still open, so if you're in the area, come on down. 

The photo above is a collage I managed to make this spring, created on an old book cover. It's a little more washed out than I was going for, but it was good to make something with my hands.
With all sincerity, in addition to major chaos, this year has also been one of sorrow and loss for me and those I love most.  Time and again I find myself trying to go forward and put one foot in front of the other.  Thinking about art and taking time to connect with other creative spirits-- both are things I've had little time and energy for, both are things I have deeply missed.  Art for me heals, and blesses me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  Here's hoping we can all do a little more art each day.

So, for someone who worried about not having much to say, I have certainly written a LOT tonight.  I know each paragraph is chock-full of wordy run-ons and disjointed ideas.  English teachers, please forgive.  :)  This concludes Confessions of a Blog Land Loser.  Hopefully I'll be back before the next 2.5 months roll by.  Many blessings to you all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You say it's your birthday...

Yesterday I turned 41.  Ugh.  Seems like I was 30 only a couple of years ago.  I have to say, despite the changes my body keeps making and the fact that my memory is fading fast, the 40s are a good place to be.  My mom's always said life begins at 40, and so far it's been my best decade yet. I know myself better, feel more comfortable in my own skin, and have a more accepting, embracing view of others.  I am able to see more good in a world that is often scary, unfair, and unkind.  I am more able to laugh at myself and less prone to take life seriously.  I am less obsessed wtih being perfect and have more courage to try new things, knowing I will sometimes fail.  I am able to have confidence in myself as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and also to forgive the times when I get things wrong and make mistakes with those I love.  I still have many (MANY!) moments of anxiety and self-doubt, I have not acheived a total state of zen by any means!  However, I do feel more at home in the world, and with myself.  And today, at the age of 41 and one day, that is a great place to be.

I had a lovely birthday this year.  My husband and daughter made dinner for me (he cooked my favorite meal and cleaned up!) and gave me a Hannah Montanna cake.  I could be wrong, but I think my 6 year old picked it out.  :)  They also gave me a necklace that says "I love you to the moon and back" and it has their names on the back.  I also got a tile that says "Art before dishes".  Looking at the state of my kitchen right now, all I can say to that is a hearty AMEN.

After I dropped my daughter off at kindergarten yesterday, I came home, made myself a cup of coffee, planted myself on the sofa with my animals, and watched Jane Austen's "Emma" on PBS.  I'd recorded it a month ago but never allowed myself time to watch.  Then I took a nap for an hour, which I NEVER do!  After my daughter came home, we played outside in the sunshine.  The icing on the cake was a trip to Sonic for Happy Hour and my favorite large unsweet tea.  Ahhhh...  It was a great way to celebrate another year of being alive.  I have so much to be thankful for.

The blond girl above is me at age 4 with my neighbor and BFF, Martha.  We were playing dress-up in my fanciest frocks, that happened to be about 3 sizes too small.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  We crammed ourselves into undersized velvet, chiffon, and lace, stuffing our feet into tiny pattened leather shoes.  We grabbed our ragdolls and posed on my front porch while my mom took our picture.  In our 4 year old minds, we thought we were pretty stylin'.  Today my 41 year old self has to agree.  :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gong Hey Fat Choy, Y'all!

Chinese New Year is upon us, and 2010 marks the Year of the Tiger!  This 15 day celebration began February 14th this year, and is observed by Chinese folks and Asians around the world.  CNY is a very important holiday in Chinese culture, more so than any other, including birthdays.  It symbolizes the end of winter and the beginning of spring.  Let's hope this will soon be true, this season has been brutal for so many.  To learn more about Chinese New Year, visit here

Because my daughter was born in China, Chinese New Year is a special holiday in our home.  Every year we learn more about the traditions, and we add to a small stash of decorations we've been collecting over the years.  We trim the house with paper lanterns, eat small oranges for good luck, and attend parties with friends that include Dragon Dances and fancy Chinese restaurants.  Each year I read a CNY story to my daughter's class at school, and we bring her friends red envelopes with coins, a well-loved custom that symbolizes prosperity for the new year.  Our coins happen to be chocolate, always a big hit with the preschool and kindergarten crowd!  For fun CNY activities for kids, including stories, crafts, and games, check out this site.

My favorite hallmark of CNY is to remember ancestors that went on before us, as well as to get the house super tidy to be rid of negative energy and start the new year with a clean slate.  Sounds good in theroy at least, although I've still got some work to do.  Thankfully it is a 15 day holiday, so maybe (possibly??) I'll be in good shape by then.  A mom can dream...     

CNY is an important time to honor family and friends, and for counting blessings, too.  As a Texan who is not so well-traveled, I fumble my way through the holiday and its customs.  Like everything else in my life, I learn about this tradition as I fly by the seat of my pants, but I always enjoy the ride.  In honor of Chinese New Year and the Year of the Tiger, I created the collage above.  The child on the end in blue reminds me of my daughter when she was a toddler, complete with chubby (squishable!) cheeks and cautious demeanor.  This collage is for sale in my Etsy shop.

"Gong hey fat choy" or "gong xi fa cai", both are traditional Chinese New Year greetings, meaning "best wishes for a happy and prosperous year".  To hear the pronunciation and see the Chinese characters for these phrases, click on this cool site.   Gong Hey Fat Choy, dear friends!  May the Year of the Tiger be good to us all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Winner!

Just drew the lucky name for my first-ever blog gveaway!  And the winner is... (drumroll, please) Liz-Anna's on the Lake!!  Liz is my new artist friend I met through the Melange Team on Etsy, and she makes incredible mixed media pieces.  To check out her artwok and blog, visit her here.  You can find the Melange Team shop on Etsy here.  Thanks so much to everyone who entered the drawing.  I will be having another one soon, so stay tuned!

This beautiful furry girl is Bagel, a white German Sheperd mix who is sweet beyond words.  She was running in the neighborhood when my friend's 16 year old son coaxed her into their yard.  Two hours later, she had a litter of puppies, OH MY.  Her babies were adopted by wonderful families, and Bagel came to be a part of mine.  True to her GSD heritage, she is bright, loyal, loving, cautious, and protective.  She also loves balls and stuffed toys.  Here she is trying to nap on the sofa, her favorite spot in the house, next to being in our one of our laps.  My daughter stuck a Bendaroo heart on her head, just to help her look ever so fancy.   

I hope you have all had a warm and toasty day.  :)