Twenty-five years ago today, on a very frigid Friday evening in St. Paul, Graham and I were married in front of friends and family. While it doesn't seem like yesterday, it certainly doesn't feel like twenty-five years. We have built a happy life together. We have three great kids, we have lived in four cities in four states, have had six addresses, and archived a lot of traveling miles, good memories, and are ready for more . Our first wedding dance was a Bon Jovi song, and our secret private vows included the same lyrics, "I'll be there for you". Serendipity....that track is from the album "New Jersey", where we now live. 25 years ago we never would have believed that NJ would become our home.
Silver anniversary! I married a good one. Graham is my best friend, a wonderful man, partner, and father. I always say I'm a lucky girl, and he continues to make me feel that way. I know he doesn't like to be featured on the blog, but I can't pass up celebrating US today. Love you.
Last week I went home to Minnesota for my Grandmother's funeral. While it was definitely tearful, and she will be dearly missed, it was also, in a way, a celebration of her life and how present she was in all our lives. Born in 1913 as Mary Batchelder, grew up in Granite Falls, MN, attended University of Minnesota, married Fallon Kelly in 1935, had four children - Kitty, John (my dad), Anne, and Molly, who gave her 18 grandchildren, and they gave her more than thirty great grandchildren. In the last few weeks I've been filling a journal with stories of her, from my childhood until now. Lots of beautiful, sweet, funny, and sentimental memories. I smile as I think of them even this very minute. I've flipped through photos, both here and at my parents home, and even more memories flooded in. It's hard to think of her not being at the other end of the phone, or opposite me at the dining table, but it was her time, and we are grateful for a full, happy, healthy life she enjoyed.
After the funeral last Friday we had a family dinner with all the relatives (there were alot!) and there was encouraging chatter about sharing stories. You may not know this about me, but I am a total chicken when it comes to standing up in front of a crowd, even if they are loved ones. Several of my cousins got things started and confidently stood up to share a favorite memory or two. This one spoke, then that one. We laughed, we toasted. Dad spoke. Mom spoke. I squirmed in my seat, wondering which story to share, hoping I could muster the courage to join in, and refrain from crying before I finished. I wasn't sure I could do it. But I didn't want to miss the chance to say she mattered. That evening It became a running joke between cousins, as each took a turn, claiming they were the favorite grandchild. When I did leave the safety of my chair at the corner table, I managed to squeak out a few sentences before my throat clenched and the well of tears was ready to burst. I said that we each knew Grandma's qualities, which were many - including hunter, hostess, golfer, great listener, matriarch....but that she also knew everything about US. She *got* us. Each and every one of us, of every age. She knew what we were each about, what we were into, what was going on in our lives, because she was genuinely interested in even the smallest of details. For years she was sending me newspaper clippings of articles I would enjoy, she was the first person to take me to an art museum (Walker Art Center), she gave me my first book of poetry, ..... later she wanted to know what my latest project was, we'd exchange thoughts about books we'd read, she wanted to know what Graham was cooking, where Peter was working, what Sam was doing, what Fallon was studying. It was the same with all my cousins and their families. It occurred to me, after I sat down, that in addition to making the statement that she *got* us, that it was obvious I left out one important observation. I can't get a re-do, so I will finish my thoughts here. I can see now that the reason we each felt like we were the favorite grandchild, was because that was her gift. That connection of feeling important and special is what she gave us, and hopefully she felt in return. What a great life lesson. To make each person in your life - relative or friend, feel like they are your favorite. Thank you Grandma. I will try to live up to your example for the rest of my days.
Here's a small view into her life....
My last photo with her, August 2014. She lived to 102....we were so lucky!
I've always been enamored of the Three Kings, also called the Three Wise Men or Magi. Maybe it goes back to the illustrated bible that Mom would read to us, or kind role they played in The Little Drummer Boy. Perhaps my fondness grew once I became a Ward, with a new family crest that has three crowns - significant since we have three children. Melchoir, Caspar, and Balthazar, who brought gifts of gold, frankicense and myrrh. They are magestic, and mysterious, and I love to explore the subject visually. I don't have photos of my journal pages right now, but here are some digital compositions.
This marks the end of the holiday season and after today we will start taking down all the decorations and the tree. Furniture can go back to its usual placement. I will miss seeing all our favorite things we carefully unwrap and display, but will take care to safely pack so we can enjoy when the year winds down again. Makes me sad that the neighborhood Christmas lights will start going dim. I love the brightness it brings to the dark nights. Here's to holding the light in our hearts all year. And here's to having candy canes around - a terrific remedy for a nauseous tummy. Stay well.
Gabriela at Stampington invited a number of artists to share their artful resolutions for 2015. See the blog post at Somerset Place to read the thoughts of twenty-four participants HERE.
Here's what I wrote:
I'm not one for making resolutions at the beginning of the year. My philosophy is that I'd much rather reflect on the past year and recognize all I have done. I find that to be empowering and motivating. Each January I have a ritual of making a Ta-Da list. I start with the end of December and work my way back to the first of the year, making notes of everything I that I can remember doing during the year. It is easier to start with the most recent self-imposed assignments. Eventually I recall a full list of achievements, missions, chores, and projects that leaves me feeling really good. Sure, there are always things left on my To-Do list....there is always more to do, and ideas that are still in-process. However, when you move items from your To-Do list to your Ta-Da list you celebrate what you've completed - that's much more affirming than worrying about the tasks ahead, and the pledge to make changes with the turn of the calendar page. Maybe you could start 2015 by patting yourself on the back for all the work you completed in 2014, from art projects to self-improvement, then carry forward the positive energy into the brand new year. Make a Ta-Da list, because it's way more fun than a To-Do list!
If you're interested, you can download and make your own ToDo/TaDa lists.
EDIT: I've had some requests to offer the printable lists as jpgs rather than pdfs. Here you go, click to enlarge.
Earlier this year we road tripped home to Minnesota to visit family. On the return trip we detoured through Indiana to see a MotoGP motorcycle race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Graham's plan for the card this year was the perfect illustration of our adventures in 2014.
Have a blessed Christmas.
See the amazing video of the making of the ceramic poppies for the Tower of London installation. All 888,246 are sold! See HERE. What a glorious recognition of honor.
I've seen more tributes to our serviceman through the NFL than anywhere else. The ceremony prior to last night's game was moving. Sadly, I rarely see poppies being sold here, unlike in England, where they are everywhere. Let's bring back the poppy!
For those who have served and for those who are serving, thank you.
You are cordially invited to participate in a three-day workshop May 1-3, 2015, hosted by Lynne Perrella and Michelle Ward. Take a look at our announcement and if you can't resist the tempation, fire off an email to Lynne (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a request for the dossier of information that covers registration details. $100 deposit reserves you a place. The class fill up fast so act quick if you're interested. Hope you'll consider joing us at this remarkable venue!
Location link: The Interlaken Inn
Information available August 1st, send Lynne an email (email@example.com)
REGISTRATION BEGINS SEPTEMBER 1ST.
It's such a privilege to spend time with artists both in the classroom and at an event. What a terrific group of ladies that came from near and far to join me and the other instructors for some creative time together. Of course we hope to learn something, and leave with enthusiasm to keep at it, and even pick up the pace, but to me the greatest take-away is the connections we make with other makers. Outside of the venue, like in real life, it's likely we have a handful of creative friends....but here, for five days, we are in a hub of creative energy. What happens in the classroom fulfills me in such a unique way and I can hardly wait to do it again.
I didn't stop to take many photos along the way but I did manage to pause for group photos. I have to say that the Roll With It class picture has to be the best group shot ever. I've taught this class a number of times in the last twelve years, and we try to get a composite of all the rolls prior to journal assembly - not always easy to get 25 feet x 25 students in one photo....so thankful for a hotel balcony this year. The collest, right? It was a fast-paced with lots of techniques and they did an amazing job keeping up, and cranked out some stellar pages. Well done ladies!
Next was Color Collision where we mixed paints, then applied them using stencils. Beautiful paintings! I wish I had taken close-up photos to show you how fabulous they all were. Here are the artists:
Last was Compose Yourself - we went through a series of exercises to practice collage in black and white. We all learned so much from the simple assignments, and from each other during the review sessions. I did get a photo of the Notan collages. Super cool. Awesome job ladies!
I also got to be a student! I had a really wonderful time making a mini clay crown with the amazing Laurie Mika. We've known each other a long time, we even collaborated on a project for an article years ago, but this was only our second real life meeting. I learned so much and had a blast!!!
Thanks to Maggie and Sally and Jeannine and everyone at Interweave/Create for presenting fabulous event. Thanks to the students who joined me, friends who popped in to say hello, and all the shoppers who stopped by at the Vendor Faire. Hope we'll see you all again next year!
It's a busy time, packing and prepping for workshops. I'm also excited that I will be accepting delivery on a batch of new stencils that will debut at the event on Friday. These are designs that I cut by hand and have been using for a while, some samples below. Gothic Collection Additions will be available online July 14. There will be coordinating stamps to follow in August.
As a teacher, we are constantly asked by organizers to help promote our classes. It's good for everyone. In just three weeks CREATE NJ 2014 will begin. My Roll With It class is full, but there is room in my other two. If you're curious about mixing paint, or want to improve your collage compositions, join me! I will be vending on Friday, with some new additions to the Gothic Collection. Sneak peek announcement from my website below. I will be posting the new items for sale soon.
Also, for California residents, I will be in San Diego in September for a two-day Frond Chronicles workshop hosted by the San Diego Book Arts. I'm looking forward to heading West - haven't been there since a True Colors event ten years ago.
Fifty. Seems like a significant number doesn't it? Half a century. How did that happen? I have to say I loved my forties more than my thirties so I look forward to my fifties. Today I will enjoy being with my family, talking to loved ones, and we will all be remembering Shannon, and the special day we shared for forty years. She was born on my fourth birthday - a most precious gift to all of us. I'm a lucky girl. There are many roses on my table today from the florist - for Mother's Day, and for my birthday....red of course, but also pink. Perhaps the recent rain will prompt my the first rose bush blossom to open in celebration of Shannon, for they were all planted in her memory.
Here is a favorite from the collection of nearly-annual-dock photos. I love that her shoulders are raised in a fit of giggles. I can hear it when I listen really hard. Makes me smile. Happy Birthday to Us. Love you sweet sister.
Last weekend was the second edition of our Crowning Glories workshop. It was another spectacular event. I can't wait to show you the evidence of creativity, for now here is the fabulous group of women who joined us in Connecticut. Lynne and I are already conjuring up plans for next year, with the same weekends booked at the Inn. Can't wait! Thanks to all the artists who attended and immersed themselves in art-making for three full days (and some even played long into the evening) in the most wonderful studio. We hope to see you again!
It's May! One of my favorite months. In addition to all the special dates that mark up the calendar, it is when things really start to bloom in the yard. Today the lilacs opened up, and I found my first batch of four leaf clovers! Next week I may see a rose!
May also means the start of Workshop Season, beginning with the second annual event with my friend and teaching partner Lynne Perrella. Last weekend we hosted Crowning Glories and it was an outstanding class, with remarkable women. We met with lots of familiar faces and made a handful of new friends. I love the ripple effect that occurs, and the positive energy that grows, as we march forward on a project, picking up new tricks and techniques along the way because we are invested in learning, sharing, and elevating our process of creating. The enthusiasm was apparent, with each final outcome so personal and unique, as we set up an impromptu photoshoot to celebrate both the artist and their work. I will share at a later date as we want to keep it a surprise until we've completed the encore class next weekend. Thank you ladies for a memorable three days. Looking forward to more Crowning Glories on Friday.
In 2011, it was a thrill and honor to be invited by Mary Beth Shaw to join her Stencil Girl team of designers. Today, I am equally honored to introduce a new collection! This series of stencils was inspired by contemporary and traditional stained glass windows. The openings provide opportunity to fill with color or additional pattern. Use as a stencil with your favorite medium or as a template to guide layouts for collage and journaling. Scroll down to see some of the stuff I did with the large ones, then hop along to the SGP Design Team blogs to see their work with the smaller ones. I can't wait to see what they came up with, and thank them for participating!
SPECIAL DEAL: There is a promotional special available TODAY ONLY for all eight of the new stencils - $67 (savings of $17). Go to www.StencilGirlProducts.com
GIVEAWAY: There is a giveaway on StencilGirlTalk (the SGP blog, click HERE) for some of the new stencils. All comments on the hop are eligible for the giveaway. The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to win. Leave a comment here to be eligible, then visit the hop links and leave a comment there too.
EDIT: Giveaway will close on Friday, January 31st Sunday, February 2nd at 11:59PM Central Time.
CONGRATS to winners: Sue Chesley (large stencils), Beth Figiel (Small stencils). Thank you to everyone who came by to visit, leaving your comments, and for sharing the enthusiasm for the new series. Also, a special thanks to Maria for organizing the hop. That was fun!
Blog Hop Order (each link opens a new window)
Chalk up another great year! I'm not a resolution girl. I'd rather look back upon the last year and celebrate the ta-da's than make a list of to-do's. Although I do love making lists. I have an idea for a little project for 2014 - something you can participate in with me. I will prepare the details and share next week.
For now, wishing you health, happiness, and continued blessings for the brand new year ahead. And hoping you make time for creativity! *clink*
Today we prep for a roast beef + Yorkshire pudding dinner, and bake breads for the neighbors, then frost a cake for baby Jesus. My large Nativity has a Mary who is holding the baby, so we resort to another infant Jesus who lays in a straw manger, made of plastic, to be set in a ring of candles and sung to Christmas eve. It belonged to the kids so they could play with the Holy Family. We used to make a cardboard stable, and pretended to act out the famous story....with the kings arriving after following the star. There were several years where couldn't locate the plastic Jesus and frantic-ness ensued to get him recovered and placed on the cake in time to celebrate his birthday. I began the tradition when our oldest was just over a year old. Getting gifts on your birthday is something we all grow up with, so it was the perfect way to explain Christmas to our children. So we don't lose Him, plastic baby Jesus spends his non-birthdays in our silverware drawer. He's never far away to visually remind us of His presence.....and today we honor Him as we exchange our presents.
My favorite track from the Very Special Christmas album series is by Stevie Nicks, with guest Robbie Nevil. This is the best video I could find. To see the 'making of', click HERE.