My favorite room in the house

Over the past 11 years, I have moved my art studio to 6 different spots in our home. I’ve worked in the basement, in the kitchen, in a bedroom & in our sitting room to name a few of these spots.  They all have worked for a short time, but after a couple of creative sessions, the charm wears off and I realize the lighting is terrible, or I have to clean up so we can use the table for dinner. The bottom line is none of the spaces have felt right for creating.

Then, one day I looked over at our front room and saw that it wasn’t being used.  In fact, it had been awhile since we really used that room.  So I decided to move in.  I pushed the couch out of the way, cleared off some shelves, and brought in my drafting table.
drafting tableIt was a perfect fit.  I’ve been working out of this studio now for a few months, and I love it.

Studio 2

This room receives sunlight from 2 large pictures windows on either side of the house.  The lighting in here is great all day long, and the huge shelving unit provides plenty of storage space.

studio 1

studio storage Studio shelves

The best parts about working in the front room is that it’s centrally located to the rest of the house. So, when I’m working on artwork, I’m not off in a secluded part of the house away from my family.  I can easily take a break to engage in a conversation and jump right back into my work.  Plus there is plenty of room to share!

kids painting

Being Present

IMG_9105In raising children, every parent hopes about what days will be like throughout the stages of life.  I always envision myself as a mother who is in tune with the seasons, exploring with my children the land around us, and taking advantage of everything that nature has to offer us.  My vision for our future always consist of a slower pace, offering us the time required to cherish and love life together as a family.  Each year, I make a promise to myself that next year will be different.  Next year, I’ll be the mom that I want to be, living the life that I want to live. Yet, here I sit, the last week of October, and once again, I feel that familiar panic rising in my heart over one more autumn that is slipping by without me being present.

My children are 9 & 10 this year, which is quite old if you ask me.  That’s 10 years of envisioning a life with my children that I have yet to actually embrace.  I ask myself, what is keeping me from making these dreams a reality, and in a word the answer is busyness.

What on Earth am I so busy doing?  Put simply, I’m preparing for the future.  Our family homeschools, so a large part of my time is spent preparing my children for their future.  Daily, I have conversations with my children about what the future may hold for them, and what skills they must learn to prepare for life as an adult.  I also busy myself working to earn money.  Granted, I love the work that I do.  However, there is pressure to store up treasures in an effort to secure a better future.  I am so busy preparing for tomorrow that the every day moments fly right past me without a notice.

Isn’t this why God has told us not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself (Mat. 6:34)?  I know that my God will provide for me. I know that “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know that He watches me”.  My faith is in Him, yet I continue to toil in an effort to secure a better future for my family.  What promise do we have that the securities we work to put in place today will brighten our tomorrow?  What promise do we have of there even being a tomorrow?  None.  We do however, have God’s promise that He will provide for our needs.  This week my challenge for myself & you as well, is to trust God.  Not just in word, but in how I choose to live life.

Show Me You; a series

I was little when I asked Jesus into my heart – young enough that I still thought of Jesus physically being in my heart.  My salvation was real, I knew Jesus, and grew up active in our church.  I have never known life without Jesus in it.  As a teenager, I would wonder about my relationship with God.  I didn’t feel like I had passion in my relationship with Him.  I felt His fire at youth retreats and conventions, but I knew that was different than having passion.  So, I prayed for passion.

Fast forward 15 years.  God has given me passion.  It often consumes me.  I feel like a cup that is overflowing, and I’m scrambling around in a frenzy of excitement trying to find out what to do with all of “it”.  “It” is a number things, like sharing God’s love & HOPE with Tibetans through knitting.  Another, is my artwork.  In the past I’ve simply let “it” spill out all over the place.  I don’t know what to do with “it”, so I start talking about “it” looking for direction as I wait to see what God is going to make out of the mess.

Mandy of Messy Canvas shared this statement on Facebook a while back.

“Quite frankly Christians, I’m ready to see you, not your Jesus.  Show me you.”

This status update & the conversation that follows has gripped me in such a way that months later, it still pulls at me.  It has started me down an internal path of wrestling.  I don’t know where the path will lead me, or even what direction it takes me.  When I’ve written my thoughts into a journal I seem to be all over the place in a kind of swirling ball of passion. I know that I have found something that is important, but I am unable to define it.  This single sentence has sparked a flame in me.  It is creating a passion for divine inspiration & art that is spilling out all over the place.   I’m searching for what to do about it as it is still very messy, swirling around in my heart & my head without any definition.

I have started the “Show Me You” series to give myself a place to  work through the swirling ball inside me.  I hope, dear reader, that you will jump in the conversation and offer your own thoughts & ideas to help me in my search for direction.

My 2014 Planner

My favorite part about beginning a new year has always been the starting of a new planner.  However,  I found that throughout the year, I was actually managing 3 different books, a planner, a journal, and a sketchbook. So, last year I decided to make one large blank book to use for all three.  Instead of trying to keep track of 3 books, I now can easily log  everything into one book.

This is the planner that I crafted for 2014.

2014 planner

Planner binding

calander pageIn the front there is a calendar for each month. The page on the left is actually a flap that opens so that there is plenty of space to write reminders.

daily drawng pageOne of my goals for 2014 is to practice the discipline of drawing something everyday.  It doesn’t matter what I draw, or how large it is.  After each calendar page there is a page spread full of squares for me to draw inside daily.

Blog ideas pageThe rest of the planner is full of blank pages for brainstorming, journaling, and drawing. Throughout the year I usually end up dividing these pages into  other sections as the need arises.

I love that I have the ability to create a planner that is crafted specifically for my needs. Last year I appreciated having just one place to keep all of my thoughts.  I used the planner throughout the entire year, which says a lot for it’s usefulness, since before I usually ended up abandoning whatever method of organization I was attempting to use. It will be fun to see how much the book changes by the end of the year.

Our Winter Guest

snowy owlLast night we had an unexpected, but most welcome visitor ~ a snowy owl!

He’s actually paid us a visit 2 other times.  The last 3 years now we’ve had a snowy owl come perch outside our bedroom window.  As we lay in bed, we start to notice the sound of an owl hooting. He seems to prefer an old ladder that I have in our flower garden right outside our window, so with the lights off we can see him very close-up. One of us will quietly rush off to get the camera, but he’s on to us every time.  As soon as we return with the camera, he’ll turn to face us and fly away without a single picture taken. This year our owl arrived earlier in the night.  Our son was the one to first hear his call.  Now Jacob has loved birds since the time he was born.  The sound of birds chirping was his favorite “white noise” to fall asleep too. So naturally, for  the first few months of Jacob’s life, our house sounded like a bird sanctuary.  Last night, Jacob was in brushing his teeth, when he came rushing out with this excited, searching look on his face.  I knew immediately that our friend had arrived.  I heard him too. This time he brought a friend with him and we could hear them call back and forth to each other. Neither came to our flower garden ( I moved the ladder this past summer), but stayed in the tree instead.

photo credit: a watercolor painted by Arline Wagner

Happy January

Seasons in life ebb & flow with the seasons of the year.  Every month the Earth shares with us gifts that are unique to it’s location as it makes it’s way around our sun.   In the past, I lived my life in a way that allowed me to notice , treasure, and share these gifts with others.  However, in more recent years, I’ve been busier, and often distracted with worry.  I have longed to experience again the joy that is found in the everyday gifts of the seasons.January2014

In 2014, I am determined to live slower,  to celebrate the beauty that surrounds me, and to to experience the wonders of each month.
To honor this choice, and to make my goal more tangible, I want to begin each month with a round up of my favorite things for the month.  I hope that these posts will also inspire you to live each day to the fullest, and to taking advantage of all the gifts our seasons have to offer.

Hot chocolate recipeThings I’m looking forward to . . .

January 1: a visit from a very special friend

January 8: my favorite boy turns 9!

January 11:  sledding & snowball fights

 

What is your favorite thing about January?

Silent December

silent_snow_by_islandtime-d4jje7z

I’ve been in a slump – I’m sure you’ve noticed.

It started after I finished painting a “hope” mural for the Oncology unit at a local hospital.  That was such an amazing experience for me.  I loved seeing how people interacted with my artwork, and hearing the comments that people made.  Most of all, I enjoyed seeing how the painting touch the patients.  The whole experience was very fulfilling to me.

Then came November. I spent several weeks trying to put together a collection of holiday themed paintings to display in a local coffee shop.  The more I worked at it, the more pressure I felt to get the pieces completed.  The whole process had become stressful.  I wasn’t enjoying myself, and the work I was creating was crap.  It was frustrating – so I stopped, and I put the whole idea aside.  I didn’t even finish making my Christmas cards.  Truth be told, I haven’t worked in the studio all December.

I could say that I spent the time choosing to focus on family & friends during the holiday season, but the truth is, I simply had no desire to create, and I’ve had nothing of real interest to share here. Consequently, it’s been very quite on this blog, and that is ok.  You see, I had decided awhile back that I wanted this space to be genuine and current.  I want to share what’s on my heart today.  If my heart is feeling quite, chances are, this blog will also be quiet.  I am ok with that.

Advent Capsules

adventWe have one of those advent calendars where you open a different door for each day of advent, so every year, I am trying to find creative ways to fill each space in a way that won’t matter if my children open all the doors on the first day of advent. One method I have come up with is to seal each days activity in it’s own decorative capsule.  Here is how I make the capsules.

Advent materials copy:: Materials ::

* Advent notes * Washi Tape * Plastic straws * Pliers * Lighter *

Advent collage

1.  The first step is to seal one end of the plastic drinking straw. To do this, hold the tip of the straw shut using the pliers.  There should be a small of amount of straw sticking out of the pliers.  This is the section that is going to be melted.  Hold the straw tip to a flame until the end is melted down to the pliers and sealed shut.

2. Write out the messages and activities that you want to open each day of advent onto strips of paper.  Roll these up tightly and secure them with washi tape.  Cut the sealed drinking straw so that it is slightly larger than the note. *You can find a few of my favorite advent activities below.

3.  Insert the note, and seal the other end of the drinking straw in the same way that the first end was sealed.

4.  Cover each end of the straw with washi tape.  Then continue to cover the rest of the straw until it is completely covered.  You may want to use the pliers again to press down on the sealed ends to ensure that the washi tape is stuck down well and the ends are properly sealed.

To open each note, carefully cut off one of the sealed ends of the straw and pull out the message.

advent 2My favorite advent activities:

* Drive around & look at Christmas lights on the “Minivan Express”

* Make a snow globe

* Unwrap & read a Christmas book each night.  Here is a list of books with crafts!

* Make a sugar cube house

* Make garland and ornaments out of gumdrops, popcorn, Cinnamon sticks, orange slices and/or cranberries

Share with us your favorite Advent activities in the comments!

Dare to dream BIG

897a251cd8c481659abfeed591332e97I’ve been told a time or two that my dreams are too big. The thing that people seem to forget is that my God delights in giving us the desires of our hearts!

I use to dream about working from home as an artist.  I was told that dream was too big.

I use to dream about reaching out to Tibetan villagers through my knitting. I was told that dream was too big.

Now, I dream about seeing the world with my family.  I’ve been told that dream is too big.  It is the cry of my heart to see all that God has created.  I look at my life, which has been full of  LARGE dreams coming true, and I believe that in time, this too will become a reality.

A Bucket List For Autumn

This time of year usually finds me in a panic as I try to squeeze in just one last visit to the beach, one more visit to our favorite ice cream shop & one last camping trip before the air turns cold.  Summer always seems to slip by me so quickly that when September rolls around, I am taken by surprise.  Knowing that it will be many months before it is warm enough to swim in the lake again is always a hard fact for me to swallow.

So in an effort to stop and enjoy the season we are in right now, I’ve compiled a list of all the things that I LOVE about autumn and look forward to in the coming weeks.
Autumn Bucket List

1. Watch Notre Dame Football games at Poppy & Grammy’s

2. Make homemade caramels ~ yum!

3. Pick apples

4. Evening bonfires

5. Knit!!!

6. Rake up leaves & play in the pile

7. Make mulled cider

8. Go to the pumpkin patch

9. Drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes

10. Go on a hike & snuggle in the woods

11. Make caramel apples

12. Burn my Spiced Pumpkin candle

What do you enjoy most about Autumn?