Wednesday, April 28, 2010

what lurks ahead


in between howling and gasping for air from the responses to the last post i managed to squeeze out this scathing doodlerant at my procrastinating self. i could no longer put it off. it's time to pay those bills! renew those license plates! return those library books! put that slop bucket of receipts into quicken! and good grief, for once and for all, quit buying new clothes just because i don't want to do laundry! tomorrow maybe. i'm tired...

Monday, April 26, 2010



hello and a good monday to you! finally responding to a gentle nudge from christine. here goes: 1) if something says DRY CLEAN ONLY i usually throw it in the washer anyway. most of the time it turns out fine. if it doesn't then i had no business buying it in the first place. 2) we use bonne maman jelly jars for juice glasses. 3) i'm working on a doodle about procrastination. not finished yet. 4) when i set out to intentionally do something i often wind up unintentionally doing the opposite. for example if i try to come across as graceful and sophisticated, i'll garble my words, trip over a table or spill something. if i try to be quiet while everyone else is sleeping, i'll drop a glass, run into a door or send something crashing to the floor. 5) last week i plugged up the checkout line at whole foods because i bought a placemat with a map of the states on it, which sent the bagger and the checker into a debate over the history of state boundaries and the colorado gold rush. 6) for the most part i'm much happier busy than idle and 7) the weather sucks here today. if you're game, make it a fun day for me and spill a random bit about yourself here! back to the doodledesk!

Friday, April 23, 2010

skewered flowers

paper flowers! everyone under the sun has made these, so no points for originality here but wow did we have some rainy day fun making them. sticking to my attack of minimalism (no new stuff), i made myself work with what i had: coffee filters, liquid watercolors, crayons, papertowels, ribbon and bamboo skewers. why i had bamboo skewers on hand is anyone's guess, but they were perfect for the job.


i almost caved and went out to buy eyedroppers to apply the watercolor, but i realized that the chance of having a bottle of expired kiddie tylenol was pretty good. sure enough i found august 2008 in the medicine cabinet, tossed the drug and had my eyedropper. with layers of aluminum foil and papertowels underneath to catch the overflow, i scribbled on the filters with crayons, splotched on the watercolors (slightly diluted), let them dry, scrunched two filters together, skewered them with the sticks and secured them with ribbon. they look like 4-H fair prizes to me.


the dyed papertowels were a nice by-product - no revelation there, as i'm probably the last to try that too! but we'll enjoy using those bits for collage.


here's our dirty porch. the glass vases are from IKEA - i decoupaged them with tissue paper, painted and sealed them. fun and easy.


and here's birdiegirl, my little flower helper. i had horror visions of her dumping liquid (permanent) watercolor all over the kitchen but she kept a steady hand with the dropper while i was the one who turned the floor into the blue grotto. right now we're watching an old chiquita banana commercial and waiting for the drain guy to rescue our basement from last night's thunderstorms. happy weekend to you!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

when i grow up


on monday morning my artsygirl doodled this at the breakfast table, and it's clear she is more opinionated about her future than i was at her age. even when i was a teenager i had no clue what i wanted to do with my life. i loved to doodle, but it was only on t-shirts and covers of mix tapes and i didn't see much of a future in that at the time. in hopes of some direction i took a career development test, which revealed that i was best suited to be either 1) a superintendent of a concrete mixing plant or 2) a shoe salesperson. i will never forget the day the high school counselor handed me that piece of paper! it set the tone for decades to come. no doubt it was a lousy test, but my reaction to it - and others that i took after it in college and graduate school - reflected that i didn't have a solid sense of self or the confidence to go after what i really enjoyed doing. rather than dismissing that test as a load of bullshit, i was really disappointed. i wanted those tests to tell me what to do. obviously not a sustainable way of living. and so began that journey i chronicled in nice to meet you.

i'm fascinated by the profession of life coaching that has taken form over recent years, and i think i could have benefited greatly along the way from a voice of reason - not a substitute for the journey or one that provided a bundle of packaged answers, but one to help me get more out of my exploration, one to ask the questions that i was terrified to leash upon myself. one of those people i've met along the way is michelle ward, who has dedicated herself (and has gone through intense training) to be a life coach, and has just made the leap herself from corporate life into a full time coaching career. she well knows that journey.

so we decided to team up and give away a doodleprint of nice to meet you. if you'd like to toss your name in the hat, please stop by michelle's blog and leave a comment there. if you are one who is still ransacking corners of the earth to find yourself, you'll love her world. it's full of motivation, reminders, questions, nudges, even a scholarship to get you going. don't miss her interview with newsweek in which she describes what a life coach does, how she made her own life changes, and how she became certified to help people emerge from their career misery. she's someone i wish had been around in my day to help me hash out what the hell i was doing with myself.

if you're willing to spill, what did you want to do when you grew up? or have you done any major career changing/lifestyle alterations throughout your years? i love stories of people who work up the moxie to rise above their funk, nail down their calling and make it happen. i am still working on it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

cut and paste necklaces

hello and happy monday to you! i'm working my way through a large coffee, sneezing my head off and looking back on some cut and paste fun i had this weekend. inspired by a beautiful patterned pendant i bought from jess swift last year, i decided to try a humble version made of paper. just as i did with the bookmarks, i collaged an 8.5x11 sheet of 80 lb cardstock with pieces from my stash - mostly stuff from old marie-claire maisons, anthropologie catalogs, and patterned papers. i covered both sides to make the necklaces reversible.


instead of cutting the sheet into rectangles like i did with the bookmarks, i cut circles with a 2" hole punch for the large disc and a 3/4" hole punch for the small. with a layer of collage on both sides, the paper was too thick to cut by hand, so i put everything on the floor and punched the suckers with my foot.


then i sealed the discs with a few coats of mod podge, hand punched holes in the tops, attached jump rings, slid them on the necklace strands (i bought these pre-made in packs of three at michaels) and was done.


these aren't exactly heirloom quality, nor as weighty or as durable as jess's (her patterns were mounted on bisque-fired clay and strung on a steel cord), but still, a fun splash of color for the summer. hypoallergenic, too, unlike this flowering monster in the background.


you could foof these up in a load of different ways - add some weight and texture with beads, use vintage wallpaper or gift wrap instead of mag/catalog pages, or substitute fabric for the paper... let me know if you try it! this is a fun project for kids, too, as long as the adults do the foot punching!

Friday, April 16, 2010

nice to meet you


while i was wrestling with the gremlins in this doodle, its gentler cousin sat on my shoulder and waited patiently for its due - and here is what it had to say. i've met some fascinating people who were born instinctively in tune with their soul and their way in this world, but i've known many more of us who have had to go in search of ourselves, who have had to learn who we are not before we've learned who we are. if i had to do it again, i think i'd still pick the long hard journey.

Monday, April 12, 2010

mix-and-match girl


"please get dressed," i begged. "ok," she said, did the deed and skipped off to her daily business. this ensemble just couldn't sum up the last seven and a half years of our lives any better. it's been a topsy turvy, mix and match, unpredictable world ever since this little lady tumbled into our lives. i wish i could go back and enjoy every moment from the beginning, knowing now that it was going to turn out not just OK, but terrific. instead we spent many of her early years wrestling with teachers and specialists and doctors who insisted there was something wrong with her, who had labels ready to slap on her, who urged us to put her in therapy to fix her. after months of research and questions and the emotional turmoil of trying to decide what to do with all of these conflicting pieces of information and opinions, we asked ourselves: is she growing? is she learning? can she function in society, even if it is in her own way? can she do things she enjoys? most of all, is she happy? and the answer to all of these questions was yes. so we went with our instincts and decided to let nature have its way with her, to let her evolve, to see where she was going to shine, to approach her challenges as they arrived. we tossed every parenting manual in the trash, because for reasons you can see, the existing ones really don't tell you what to do with a child like this, and we told these people to leave us and her alone. not long after that we moved to lawrence, also a very topsy turvy, mix and match, unpredictable world, where she is now flourishing in school, has teachers who understand and encourage her, but do not overanalyze her. she's in a place where she can just be.

i know that our approach is not the right one for every child, but we felt that in her case these folks were trying to push her into a set of criteria that simply didn't fit, defining her quirks as defects, when really she just needed time to sort through those major milestones, and we needed to adapt to that. so we did, and the rewards have come in the form of an amazing little being who writes a new page in her own guidebook every day. not every day is a cakewalk. some days sync up beautifully, and in other moments my patience is so exhausted i'm ready to stick my head in the toilet. at those times i lean on the perspective of my husband, who watches her with stars in his eyes and says, "i just delight in her."

Saturday, April 10, 2010



a quick break from a gorgeous/fun weekend (aside from one of my kids mudbombing the side of our house) to bring you some overheards that have crept into my notebook over the last few months. well, from where i heard this stuff you can see i don't lead the most exciting life, but these are some meaty verbal droppings to chew on for sure. i can't interpret that weighty bit from juice stop no matter how i bend it around in my mind. same with the philosophical intrigue from wal-mart. meant to be dissected and analyzed, or best accepted as is? clearly i was not meant to be an academic. but the really pressing question here is: does a monologue of nonsense from a cab driver count as an overheard? susie will have to confirm. she was in portland with me when it happened. so i do have one wandering destination on here after all. as for the spork episode, i had lunch with my daughter one day and was totally relieved when it was the kid across the table, and not us, who got lambasted for not touching her tray. nearly three decades out of elementary school, i'm still scared of the lunchroom lady.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

the mess makers


do kiddie materials ever find their way into your artwork? or do you shake everyday objects out of their sobriety and turn them into unorthodox art tools? every time i walk into our local arts-based preschool the kids are creating with pretty much anything but brushes, and i'm amazed by what they make and how they make it. they paint with toy truck wheels, mini toilet plungers, bottle brushes and broccoli. they use old record players as spirographs, table salt for resist, and my favorite, the pantyhose balls stuffed with sand. the kids dip them into paint, climb up on a stepstool and toss them onto the floor with a satisfying SPLAT. the school emphasizes process versus product - the kids are never pushed to finish a specific project or make something a certain way, very à la the fabulous carmen torbus: a free, open, colorful, joyful approach to creating. it's the kind of atmosphere where you can hear willy wonka saying "we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams."

when i snapped out of my long creative dry spell i thought for sure this would be my approach, but as i'm nearing two years of everyday art making, i've found that my way is totally different and it has surprised me. simple pen-to-paper seems to be my mainstay, the method that resolves things in my head and makes it quiet again. it might seem a bit uptight, but i'm a disorganized person by nature and i make messes of everything on a regular basis. so in my art, harnessing and processing have turned out to be more soothing to me than letting loose, at least for this phase in my life. having said that, i love being on the periphery of paint and color flying. there's a lot to be learned from observing children in action, especially when i'm not the one cleaning up after them. which is why i send mine to the arts center instead of letting the free for all take place in our house.

off now to clean my keyboard. double chocolate brownie all over it. like i said - i'm a mess maker at heart.

Monday, April 5, 2010



it's yayday! yay for lots of things: a finished doodleproject, scribbles on walls, a dramatic morning thunderstorm. yay for living in a town where i can go about my business in my pajamas and use my daughter's ladybug umbrella without anyone looking at me sideways. yay for that friend who ditched her work this afternoon to stop at dempsey's for a beer with me. i went there in my pajamas, too. yay even for allergies, because it means the azaleas are blooming. YAY for so many new drinks to try, and a triple yay to those of you who kept me entertained these past few weeks. hope you're finding stuff to yay about today! i'm back to the land of the living now, and off to catch up on your long as i can show up in my pajamas...