Saturday, April 21, 2012


Buh-bye, warm-but-weighty winter wear...
Hel-loooooo summer stuff!

Friday, April 20, 2012


From The Art of Wild Abandonment, by Junelle Jacobson
I haven't even finished watching all the videos from my first online art class, and I'm already signed up for the next one! My friend High-School-Debbie (a.k.a. Honey) has already taken this class, and when I saw photos of what she was doing, I knew it was right up my alley! The workshop is called The Art of Wild Abandonment, and is being offerred here. The instructor, Junelle Jacobson, believes it all begins with a simple sketch -- sketching the art of everyday moments, or our "feel goods", as she calls them. Kind of like my little to-do lists, no?
Meanwhile, things are coming along rather well in my new Kitchen Studio. I found some baskets at Target the other day, which helped to corral some of the mayhem, and I moved that old cake cover with the beautiful patina up above my cabinets, to give me more workspace.

One basket for the wooden stamps
One basket for stencils and texture stamps
One basket for pens, inks, stains, etc.
I'm also finding new ways to use the decorative pieces that were already there. For instance, I already had a button jar there on the shelf, which was only half full. Art-journalists often add buttons, bits of ribbon or lace, and other such "findings" to their pages, so, Voila! I now have a findings jar.
This pretty tea tin makes a great place to stash the spare pads for this stamper
Know what I like best about this set-up? It's right there, in the heart of my home, where I pass by it a hundred times a day -- which encourages me to stop and play for a while. Though I could never do my writing in this manner, art journaling is meant to be done in stages. You gesso a page, then wait for it to dry; put down a background, wait for it to dry; layer on color and ephemera, wait for them to dry; do your doodling and writing, wait for it to dry. So, if I'm in the kitchen, waiting for the water to boil or my tea to brew, what better way to pass the time, than by stepping over to my open journal and gessoing a few pages, or dabbing in a background or two? When I have something simmering on the stove, or I'm waiting for something to come out of the oven, what better than to remove an image transfer that's been drying, or add some doodling to a page? Would I be nearly as tempted to create, if my supplies were out in the garage or down in the basement? Wouldn't I feel ten times as guilty, if I had to go sequester myself for a few hours at a time, while neglecting everything else? So, as it turns out, what was born out of desperation, ended up being, well, abso-freakin-lutely brilliant! 
Let's just hope, though, that my new class uses mostly the same supplies as my old one, cuz if I have to go out and buy all new stuff, I have no idea where I'll put it all!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Our final speaker, Susan Tweit
The conference wrapped up with two final sessions on Sunday morning, covering everything from how to conduct research for your memoir, to writing about our mothers and tips for getting past writing distractions and into the writing "flow." Then it was time for lunch and our final keynote speaker, the amazing Susan Tweit, fellow blogger and author of Walking Nature Home -- a must-read for anyone with auto-immune issues...well, just a must-read -- for anyone!

Friend Linda Hoye, who was on the blogging panel with me at the 2010 conference
Then came the sad part -- saying good-bye to friends we likely won't see again until 2014. Thank goodness I get to meet up with most of my favorites every day in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Matilda Butler, co-author of the book Rosie's Daughters, sports her Rosie-the-Riveter kerchief.
Day two at the conference was divided up into three classroom sessions, and one special session. During each classroom session we had four options to choose from, and that was the hardest part of the conference -- choosing only one in each slot, when they all sounded so enticing! Sometimes my buddies and I would wind up in the same class, but often we would split up to follow separate interests. For instance, I chose the class above, led by Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett, entitled Expanding Your Publishing Options: eBooks, PODs, Self-Publishing, Oh My!, which ended up being more about marketing and building your platform than about publishing -- a lucky happenstance for me, since I don't have a book to publish, but do have two blogs to market. While I attended this one, both Lynn and Linda attended one called How 20 Minutes a Day Can Help You Become a Better Writer, led by Helen Leatherwood. It was about establishing a writing routine, something I'm already pretty good about. During another session, Linda and I learned all about Writing the Truth: Issues, Ethics and Poetic License from Suzanne Sherman, while Lynn opted for Juicy Writing With Fruits & Veggies, led by poet laureate Jan Seale.

Susan Lincoln is founder of the Hilde Girls, spirit-song circles of  women.
During the "special" session we had the option of a panel discussion on the power of the circle, or some relaxing chair yoga led by Regina Moser. Breaks included book signings by the two memoir writers who had been awarded SCN's first annual May Sarton Award the previous evening -- Leila Levinson for her book Gated Grief, and Jamie Patterson for Lost Edens: A True Story -- and the amazing Susan Lincoln, who actually demonstrated the power of the circle, which I mentioned earlier. I challenge you to join a group of 150 women, hands connected -- first humming like a swarm of excited bees, then chanting Hildegard's ancient, timeless Ave Generosa  -- and to remain unmoved, unshaken.

Linda Joy Myers talks about writing a spiritual memoir.
My only regret was that venturing out to the amazing Eastside Cafe for dinner ended up causing our new little group of friends to miss the Open Mike session altogether -- my favorite part of the whole conference. I was planning to read the story of my becoming a mail order bride of sorts, and being whisked off to Indonesia by a guy I hadn't seen in 13 months, which might have stirred up some interest in my other blog, Miss Becky Goes Abroad, but that was not why I was sad. I was sad because my three compadres, who were attending for the first time, still don't know how earth-shaking and life-altering it can be, to hear a room full of women -- women who, for the most part, have just finally found their voices -- getting a chance to share their stories for the very first time!

New friend Paula, and old friends Lynn and Linda, in the vegetable garden at Eastside Cafe.
Are those tables precious, or what?!
My wild mushroom crepes at Eastside Cafe. Mmmmm!
Still, the company was exceptional, the dinner was delicious, and the blueberry crumble was to die for! Ah well, there's always Stories from the Heart VII, in 2014!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It takes a massive set of...marbles, shall we say? drive a truck in the Hill Country. When you think of all these houses perched on the tops and sides of all these hills, and the crazy things they sometimes call "driveways" leading up to them, well, I guess it's something you have to experience for yourself.

A couple of weeks ago we noticed a lot of gravel trucks going past our house, and realized that someone must be clearing space for a house on one of those long-empty lots down the street from us. I guess they are pouring the foundation today for early this morning, as I sat waiting for the sun to come up, there were big cement trucks going back and forth. In fact, at one point, two of these massive trucks met each other coming and going, right in front of our house. Both stopped, and I found myself feeling really sad for whichever would lose this game of "chicken", and have to back up on this twisty road in total darkness, in order to let the other pass. But no one did. Instead, one of them began to inch forward. Did I mention that one side of the narrow road is a big ditch, while the other ends in a 10 or 15 foot drop straight down to the rocky creek bed below? And that it was pitch black out? Jeeze Louise, these drivers must have nerves of steel!

Of course, I knew that already. I've seen some, driving huge moving vans or delivering "pods", back up and down our own obstacle course as if it were nothing, even though more than one average-sized vehicle driven by a city dweller has ended up needing a tow. The one with the largest "assets" though, had to have been that guy from Tank Town. He delivered our ginormous rain tank -- the one in the picture above. You can read all about it here. He obviously knew it was a bit crazy to think he could pull that thing up the final steep gravel incline on a little trailer behind his pickup, whip it around that sharp curve, then, with only a small parking space to maneuver in, somehow straighten it up enough to back it onto it's pad. Did that stop him? No! He made the sign of the cross on his chest, gunned his motor, and went for it! Fortunately for all concerned, neither his truck nor our tank ended up rolling down the hill and into the creek. So, let's hear it for Hill Country truck-drivers. Be they male or female, they've got what it takes!

Monday, April 16, 2012


Day One began with friend Jr. High Linda and I attending a pre-conference workshop led by Jeanne Guy, while my friend Play Group Lynn set up her wares in the vendor room (she makes gorgeous jewelry!). The subject of our workshop was "The Power of Your Story: Rethink, Reframe, Re-Story Your Life."
Linda and I hooked up with some of my fellow bloggers and friends from previous conferences, and went to dinner at Magnolia Cafe on S. Congress, while Lynn hooked up with another friend and her two Austinite sons over at S. Congress Cafe. We found ourselves in the midst of a fun confab involving lots of hot rods parked up and down Congress, and rockabilly music. Turns out some of them were staying at our hotel!
We ended the day with a fabulous keynote speaker, Gail Straub, who's book, Returning to My Mother's House, I brought home with me and really, really look forward to reading. Oh yeah, and there was a dessert buffet and silent auction to peruse as well! Then it was back to our room to gab into the wee hours, and to drift off to sleep to the sound of my roomie practicing her violin.