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

Color Scouting: Winter Rainbow

winter rainbow

As a result of the “polar vortex” that has been effecting most of America, my region has had extreme, arctic-like temperatures. It has caused all kinds of inconveniences, shutting down entire cities in a declaration of emergency. However, it has also shared with us a winter-time beauty that we have not experienced before in this part of the world.

What is color scouting?

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


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!