Saturday, February 9, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about my "authentic" style lately. In fact, I woke up with a head full of those thoughts this morning, so I must have been dreaming about it as well. The other day I went through the stack of artsy/craftsy magazines I had accumulated, and just started ripping out any image that really sang to me, without stopping to analyze what it was that I liked about it.  When I was done, I spread them all out over my drawing table in a sort of free-form collage, and just left them there for a couple of days.

Every time I'd come into the room, I'd go over to that table and just stare at it for a while. Eventually, certain things became obvious. For instance, I like a strong focal point, and I prefer simple over busy.

I will always choose bright over pastel, and I especially like my bold colors when combined with a bid of black and a lot of white.

I like the rhythm that strong, consistent handwriting can lend to a page, and I enjoy having a bit of humor thrown in.

Anywho, I've also been going through all of my photos this week, trying to find a few spring-ish ones. I think a blog called "Seasonality" should practice what it preaches, and change with the seasons, don't you? Sooooo, I thought I'd replace those wintry pics in my banner come March. Looking for springy photos reminded me that I should be making a new spring to-do list as well, and that got me to thinkin' -- about the fifty or so pictorial lists I already have under my belt, and how they have morphed over the last four and a half years, from their simple-stick-figure beginnings. Just on a lark, I decided to pull out the binder I keep them in, to see which ones were my favorites, and what it was I liked most about them. Know what the best ones had in common?

Strong focal points...

layouts that were more simple, less busy...

rhythmic handwriting...

a few bold colors plus a little black and a lot of white...

and a healthy dose of humor.

Well whadaya know? My authentic style has been there all along, and I was just too oblivious to notice. Doh!

Friday, February 8, 2013


The Epic Condo Redo is finally complete, and Wednesday was moving day for my big sister. Of course, no remodeling job is ever without a certain amount of drama, and Poodie certainly had her share. At the top of the list was a painter who got paid and disappeared without coming back to do touchups as promised. Then, when fingerprints started showing up on all her white cabinets -- fingerprints which could not be wiped away -- an expert was called in who announced that there was nothing on her cabinets but primer! She then had to pay someone else to come in and complete the job, just two or three days prior to her scheduled move-in. And, of course, her china cabinet ended up being a half inch too tall to fit where she had planned for it to go, and though she thought she had pared down her furniture and belongings to the bare minimum, she still has way too much too fit into her petite abode. C'est la vie!

Eventually though, after she has had a chance to figure out what else she can live without, find places for all the rest, and "work her magic" on the place by doing her final tweaking, the drama-trauma will fade from memory and she will be able to bask in its loveliness. Her daughter says we're not allowed to have any more pictures until then. Poodie also claims to have misplaced the packet of screws necessary for reassembling the bed in the guest room, but I'm thinking maybe she just doesn't want any visitors until everything is perfect!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


We're finally starting to see our first strawberries of the year being offered at The Bountiful Sprout, but a few weeks ago when the pickin's were somewhat slim, I resorted to buying a bag of clementines at the grocery store. Not because I'm particularly virtuous about getting my required number of fruits in each day, but because I had stumbled across something on the blog of Rachel Khoo (who writes from The Little Paris Kitchen) that really set my sweet tooth a-twangin'.

She wrote about a recipe she got from another blog called How Sweet It Is (the link is inside Rachel's post above), but the truth of the matter is, these are so simple to make, you don't really need a recipe.

All you do is peel and divide a clementine or two into sections, removing as much of the pith as possible. (yeah, I missed some of the hairy stuff on a few -- do as I say, not as I do) Next you melt some nice dark chocolate. Hubby and I have plebeian tastes, and actually prefer Hershey's Special Dark to those fancy schmancy high-priced bars, but use whatever floats your boat. You can melt it in a double boiler or in the microwave. I just broke it up in a little microwavable bowl, then nuked and stirred, in 15 second increments, until it was nice and smooth. Dip half of each segment into the chocolate, lay it out on a non-stick surface (I set a thin flexible cutting board inside a small cookie sheet) and dust the chocolate areas with a few grains of good sea salt. Then refrigerate for about ten minutes, so the chocolate can harden, before eating. (the flexible cutting board made it easy to pop them off) Embarrassing Admission: Ten minutes is probably a good bit longer than it took us to scarf down every last one of those suckers.

Now, for my hubby's sake, I omitted the sea salt from these. However, next time he heads down to the man cave to watch one of his Sci-Fi movies? I'm having me a three-way with some clementines, some dark chocolate and some sea salt. Oops! I guess that would be a four-way, wouldn't it? Whatever.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I am not a fan of dentists. Never have been. Could be because, when I was a child back in the 50's, my parents were not familiar with the term "preventive dentistry." We didn't usually go to the dentist unless we already had a toothache and, since the drills were much bigger and scarier then, it was never a pleasant experience. Also, my tolerance for pain has always outweighed my fear of doctors and dentists, so a couple of times I just put up with the toothache until it was too late to save the tooth. They had to be pulled, and the empty spaces caused my teeth to shift. There was no money for braces, so that had to wait until I was an adult with a job of my own. I told the orthodontist that I was still a newlywed, and was not the least bit interested in wearing one of those awful-looking headgears to bed each night. He said he didn't think that would be necessary. He lied.

Or, maybe I don't like dentists because just about everything they put in my mouth causes me to gag to the point of barfing. Even the gas that's supposed to relax you made me barf once, when the dentist went off and forgot about me. So, as I said, not a fan. Anywho, my last couple of dentists said I probably grind my teeth at night. They encouraged me to get a night guard, but there was always some crown or root canal that had priority, and I just never got around to it. Finally, after completing a year-long implant procedure and a crown replacement, I caved to the pressure and told them to go ahead and make the dang night guard. Boy, was I ever pissed when they told me they could not reuse that full set of impressions they just took, and that I would have to undergo that whole process -- the biggest gagger there is -- all over again! My worst fear was that the night guard itself might cause me to gag, or be so irritating that it would keep me awake at night. What a relief it was to find that I could sleep through the night with it, right from the start.

A couple of days later, I realized I was clawing away at a very itchy torso, and discovered that it was covered in an angry red rash. I wracked my brain, but couldn't think of anything out of the ordinary that I had eaten, worn or touched. Other than that night guard. I quit wearing it until I finally got the rash cleared up, then started wearing it again in tiny increments. One hour? No problem. Two hours? No problem. Three hours? No problem. Whew! I woulda been ever so p.o.'d if I'd spent all that $$ and done all that gagging fer nothin'!

So this week I went back to wearing it all night. A couple of days later, I woke up with a rash. Arrgh! I'm allergic to the friggin' thing!!!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


"The authentic self is the soul made visible." ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

Over the years I've gone through the process of mining my authentic "style" several times. When I was younger I was much too easily influenced by the opinions of my parents and older sisters. It wasn't until I'd read Simple Abundance that I finally learned to listen to my "authentic self" and utilize what she had to say. It made a huge difference in how I dressed, how I decorated my home, and even in how I gardened!

One of my favorite tools for opening myself up to what my soul has to say is collage. When I was struggling with how to transform that pile of rubble that was our poor excuse for a front yard, I resorted to flipping through magazines, pulling out random images that called out my name, then using them to create the collage you see above. When I was done, I knew exactly where I needed to head with my plans -- towards a Mexican Hacienda Kitchen Courtyard Cantina Garden!

Now I am experiencing a similar struggle with my art journaling -- trying to find my own authentic voice and style. I'm thinking it may be time for another collage. What about you?

Monday, February 4, 2013


"As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them -- to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well."~ Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way

Have you ever heard of artist's dates? Julia Cameron talks about them in her book The Artist's Way, but I first stumbled across them in Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance, the very book I am now using for my newest art journal. I have been re-reading the daily essays before covering them with paint and gesso, and sometimes they become the inspiration for a journal page, a blog post, or both. In her February 1st essay Ban Breathnach talks about Creative Excursions: The Gift of Time. "Creative excursions are regular solo rendezvous with your authentic self... In the beginning of any intimate relationship the best gift you can offer another person is the investment of quality time together. So it is with your authentic self. You have probably been ignoring her for decades; now it's time to make amends."

What a novel idea that was -- spending time alone in order to get to know one's authentic self and to fill one's creative well -- to a young mother who already felt like she was juggling way too many balls. But, not only did Julia and Sarah give us permission to undertake this guilty pleasure, they said it was a necessity. So I did. In fact, I became quite good at it. I am convinced that it made me happier, and therefore a better wife and mother. I also believe that it really did put me in touch with my "authentic self", who turned out to be quite the creative person! Who knew?

According to Julia Cameron, "An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child...Spending time in solitude with your artist child is essential to self-nurturing. A long country walk, a solitary expedition to the beach for a sunrise or sunset, a sortie out to a strange church to hear gospel music, to an ethnic neighborhood to taste foreign sights and sounds -- your artist might enjoy any of these. Or your artist might like bowling."

Here are some of my own favorite creative excursions:

Thrifting & Window Shopping - I love finding someone else's discard that, to me, is both beautiful and useful, and bringing it home to give it new life. I also love "just looking" -- going to stores that are well-merchandised, like this little shop in Buda, or maybe an Anthropologie store, and getting ideas for new ways to use something I might already have at home.

Garden Excursions - I adore going someplace like The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, The Arboretum in Dallas, or even a good garden center with nice demonstration gardens, such as Natural Gardener in Austin -- someplace that features plants that are especially well-suited to one's particular climate and conditions. I like to visit them during all the different seasons and see what is doing well at times other than spring, so I can get ideas for my own "four season" garden. I pay special attention to any plant and color combos that quiver my liver.

Art Supply Stores, Craft Stores, Yarn Shops, etc. -- pure bliss!

Farmers' Markets - I like to talk to the people who grow and raise my food, ask them how they like to prepare these foods at home. I want to meet the teenage girl who raises goats and makes delicious cheeses from their milk, and find out that she was inspired by a family vacation to France.

Libraries and Bookstores - I love anyplace where you can hold, touch, and smell real books, or thumb through odd magazines that you might not be familiar with. You never know what you might turn up, or where inspiration may strike!

Julia goes on to say "In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do -- spiritual sit-ups like reading a dull but recommended critical text. Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery."

Have you taken an artist date lately? If not, why not?

"So you see, imagination needs moodling -- long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering." ~ Brenda Ueland

Sunday, February 3, 2013



Coming up in my very own Mexican Hacienda Kitchen Courtyard Cantina Garden! And this year, we actually get to EAT it (the first two years after your plant it, you aren't supposed to harvest any -- just let go all ferny). I spotted this one little sprig two days ago. Yesterday there were a few more coming up. Who knows what I'll find today? Maybe enough for a serving! For one person. Who isn't very hungry.