Monday, January 31, 2011

One World, One Heart 2011

I am excited to again take part in the wonderful One World, One heart blog event. I think it is an incredible way to make new friends and also give away a little goodness and the same time.


For any new visitors to my blog, thank you for taking time to stop by. I wanted to tell you a little bit about me. I am a professional piano teacher and church organist. I love sharing my knowledge of music with others, and incorporating their developing skills as a method to help them express themselves. I have a degree in piano and harpsichord performance and also an advanced degree in music theory and literature. So I have a strong background to share with my students. I also play the harp and still have much to learn with that instrument.

I've lived in Michigan my entire life but I spent my college years in the northern part of the state compared to my southeastern home. I share my home with my hubby of a little over 14 years and our two dogs. I am new to eating a whole food diet and love the richer tastes that I get to enjoy by using fresh, clean food. I just signed up to participate in a CSA for the first time this year and can't wait for the growing season to get underway so I can receive my portion of the harvested crops.

I love playing with art. I find it soothing to spend time surrounded with paint, clay, beads, and many other mediums. I’ve taken a few community ed. classes in polymer clay, but mostly I am self taught in my art making. I love taking on the challenge of working in new mediums and seeing how my skills develop.

For this year’s giveaway, I have a beautiful box. I made this a few years ago and love it, I painted, collaged, included copies of some of my artwork and glittered the heck out of the box. Its not huge, maybe about 3.5” round. The perfect size to store precious trinkets inside.

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To enter please you need to have a current blog, and leave me a comment on this post. I'll be selecting a winner on Feb. 17th. Please make sure your comment allows a link to your blog so I can follow up if your name is drawn. Make sure you check out all the amazing participants in the One World, One Heart event. There is an amazing amount of talent represented in the event.

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you’ll visit again soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Empathy monsters have invaded! They like the cold…

P1250111 Its been really cold here and my art palace has been freezing. Add to it the fact that I broke my kerosene heater, and its not much fun to be down there right now. I decided it was a great time to pull out my sewing machine and finally make an empathy monster from the Art, Heart & Healing class that Willow so graciously gave away this past fall.

I have tons of fabric stashed away and I made a royal mess of my house by pulling it all out and creating a huge pile that I could pick through and see/feel it all at once. The orange one was my first attempt. I was feeling a bit rushed because I had students coming so I didn’t do such a great job with embellishing her. I do like her, in fact I think she’s so ugly she’s cute. Her yellow belly is actually a pocket so she can store things that need to be kept safe.

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I had a bit more imagination while working on the blue monster. He got some warts sewn on his back and a pretty cool mohawk hairdo. He got some extra hand and feet embellishment too. He also has a pocket on his belly, but his is a tulle overlay so whatever is stashed there can be seen so its not such a great place for deep, dark secrets to be held. I really like his ruffly tail that ends in a tassle and his blinged out eye with a shimmery heart birthmark by it. He loves his spiral striped horns and the stripe on his cheek. Again, so ugly you just have to fall in love with him!


They make quite the pair dont they?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gratitude box


I’m participating in the Mystery Mentor program put on by Artella.  It has been lots of fun getting uplifting messages of comfort and support from my mentor, and equally fun to send encouragement out to the person I’m supporting for the month.  (Actually, I’m hoping to continue these buds of friendship way past January, but that’s because of how cool I think they both are!) 

My mentee chose the word Gratitude for 2011.  We were to do at least one thing through snail mail as part of our commitment to the project.  I decided to make a gratitude box where she could write down the many things in her life that she is thankful for.  I thought that on down days, she could open the box and be reminded of the plethora of good that surrounds her, and hopefully be uplifted by reading them. 

I haven’t heard that the box has arrived at its destination yet, but I sure hope she likes the small gift.

I’m off to run errands soon and then I’m spending the evening with my mom, sister and niece for a girls night.  I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Grasping at the tranquil moments

Life threw my family a curve this past week. My mother in law was diagnosed with colon cancer. She is getting a port put into her chest as I am typing this, and will start chemotherapy on Thursday. This came as a surprise to the entire family and we are still in the adjustment period and trying to adapt to this diagnosis. Any prayers and good wishes you can send are greatly appreciated.

I am trying to look at the good parts of life and really participate fully in those moments. I want to remain as optimistic as possible so I can be there for my husband as he deals with these new emotions. So, I am grasping at the tranquil moments and enjoying the happy moments and just putting one foot in front of the other. Life may be changed, but it continues and we need to keep moving. I picked up a copy of Sark’s latest book “Glad No Matter What” late last week. (Usually I buy her books the minute they are released, but I hadn’t gotten around to this one. I think it was meant so that reading it can be fresh, and help me deal with what I’m feeling now.) I have only just begun this book but it talks about feeling multiple emotions at once. I may be sad and fearful for my MIL, but at the same time last week I experienced the extreme joy and satisfaction of a job well done that I shared with you in my last post. I was actually feeling a bit guilty about being happy when so much was falling apart around me. Now I know that I can experience both emotions simultaneously, and that they don’t reduce each other. This photograph expresses a peacefulness to me, and that is how I want to be able to feel. I know I can’t always feel calm and content, I am a natural worrier, but I want to remember to try to find at least a moment each day to experience the pleasure of those feelings.


I’m happy to announce the winner of my 100th post giveaway was Mrs. Nesbitt. I’ll be contacting you soon to get your address. Congratulations and thank you to all who stopped by.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The power of words

I received a phone call this morning from a  mom of one of my students.  She called to thank me for what I said to her daughter during her lesson.  She wanted me to know that the student said how good, self-confident and enthusiastic my comment made her feel.  The mom went on for about 10 minutes saying how I made a difference in her daughters life.  This is the kind of phone call that every teacher dreams of receiving.  It really was incredible for me to hear.  Now, here’s the thing.  I don’t remember saying anything profound, or even that far off from a normal lesson.  This student is tackling something new.  She is going to accompany another instrumentalist for the first time.  She received the music and after playing through it on her own was feeling overwhelmed and like she wasn’t going to be able to do what was necessary.  After hearing her initial play through, I started to tweak where it needed and offered advice in other spots, and just in general encouraged her and told her I was positive she could do this.  I tried to highlight how accompanying is different from solo work and told her some hints I’ve accumulated over the years.  I also told her I was proud of her for taking on the challenge.  Her mom said she was positively beaming because I said I was proud of her.

I think we often don’t realize the impact our words have on others.  I never thought what I was saying would have any effect beyond our lesson time.  I was not stretching the truth or trying to make her feel good.  I was simply telling her the positives I was seeing from her and providing guidance and encouragement as I helped her make improvements  where they were needed. 

So, my simple little piano lesson made a difference to her, and you know what, it made a difference to me too.  By calling and thanking me, the mom reminded me that I am good at what I do.  She renewed my passion in my job.  She made a difference in my life. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The long in coming 100th post and a giveaway to celebrate

It took me over 3 years, but I finally have reached the 100th post for this blog. (Slacker blogger, I know). When I started this blog, I didn’t know what I was doing. It has been a trial and error process and it can be very frustrating for me, even now. I am a hands on learner and to read how to do something sometimes (ok, usually) doesn’t click in place and it takes multiple tries before I figure it out. But I continue to try and I learn small things and move to the next challenge. I don’t mean to have long time periods away from the blog, but sometimes life gets in the way. I’m trying really hard to stay committed to posting on a regular basis (a few times a week) throughout 2011.

As a thank you to the few readers who visit me here, I wanted to offer a giveaway as a thank you. I really do appreciate the time you take to click over here and “see how I’m doing.” I cant decide what to offer. So here’s my idea. I have this mixed media piece. It is done with prismacolor pencils, acrylics, and collage. It has lots of sparkly glitter and rhinestones and even some gold leafing. It also has some fabric flowers attached. It hangs from a sheer ribbon. Its not real big, 6” x 12”.


I also have a poppy jasper pendant with sterling silver spiderweb detail that I beaded into a necklace. It has a garnet center in the spiderweb. The poppy jasper donut freely spins. It is about 19” long and has a sterling silver toggle clasp.


I will let the winner of the giveaway choose which prize they would like.

So, how do you enter? Just leave me a comment on this post. I’ll pick a winner (random names in a hat method) on Friday. Well say cutoff for entry is noon Eastern Standard Time on Friday.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll visit again.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bad Dog Brew

wild-grape-label My hubby brews beer, makes wine and roasts coffee.  We can’t remember how many years ago we started this.  It started with a small kit that we got as a Christmas gift.  We made a few batches of beer and then decided to try wine.  We drank more wine than beer back then, so he started to do more and more batches using different fruit concentrates.  He’s done a few straight from fruit too.  He also blends some batches to make new concoctions.  Our most recent trip to the homebrew supply had me deciding he needs to try to make a cherry berry wine.  (The wine guys roll their eyes when I walk in.)  It’ll be awhile before I know if that is a good combo or not.  The wine that was the most fun to make was a wild grape wine.  It was fun because we spent a day at my parents house, along with our niece and nephew, and my dad, picking all the wild grapes that grow on his land.  It was a day I have fond memories of.  We did 2 batches of wild grape.  One we did the traditional way, add the yeast.  The other we let go natural.  The natural wine turned out superb!  The other is not bad, but it was neat to do a comparison and see.  Recently we’ve been drinking beer more, so he’s returned to brewing beer.  He made a coffee porter right before Christmas that is rich and roasty and oh so yummy.  The coffee roasting is fun, because the green coffee beans are fairly inexpensive so we can try some coffees we usually cant afford.  My favorites are Kauai Peaberry and Kona. 

The name Bad Dog Brew is in homage to our furbabies.  A few years ago I photo-shopped a label with the namesakes looking like they are happy side by side.  (They are good together, they just would never pose for such a photo.)  I gave him the label as a Christmas gift.  Its fun because I can update it and add whatever label info for all 3 things.    For Christmas this year, I made him a tavern style sign of Bad Dog Brew.  I printed out a picture of the label, cut out the dogs, collage glued it down on the sign and then painted the lettering and the foot prints.  I had really wanted to put an Est. date like you see on tavern signs, but like I said, we can’t really remember that info.  The sign now hangs over the door to our kitchen.  Its pretty neat to find versatile ways to use a bit of the same basic design.  Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Handmade Christmas Gifts

A branch of my family no longer exchange gifts in the traditional Christmas way. We draw names and make a homemade gift for that person. We've been doing this for about 10 years now and I love this tradition. The gifts I have received from others are cherished for the thought and work that my loved one put into making it just for me. I also love making my gift each year. Its funny, we select the name at Christmas and you have the whole year to decide and work on your gift, but we all tend to wait to the last minute to execute our gift. For me this is not about finding the time to make the gift. Its about thinking about what the person is into, exploring all the things I could make for them, and then trying to narrow it down to one thing. This year I was making for a great aunt. I really struggled to decide what to make her. I thought about jewelry, but my uncle does some really nice beadwork so I didn't want to go along that line. I thought about painting her a picture, but I dont know their decorating style or the colors of the roooms in their house. I thought about a garden whirl-i-gig and really liked that idea, but I couldn't quite figure out how to build the mechanics for that one. I settled on making her some wine stoppers. I found the blanks at Hobby Lobby. Their intended for fused glass, which I've made some with in the past. I wanted to use polymer clay. I have huge piles of canes that I've made through the years and they just sit there. Some of them are really spectacular, I just dont use them to make jewelry anymore and haven't done many other projects that incorporate them.

I coated the metal blanks in white glue and let that dry so the clay would adhere to the metal. I then chose my designs. The round stopper is just a slice of a fairly large cane. I wrapped it with a black and white striped edging to make it more polished and then stuck a crystal in the center to give it a sparkle. The oval one, I used a basketweave cane to lay down a background. I then sliced rosebuds and leaves and pieced them together to form an arrangement. On one side I added some slices from a daisylike flower. I again added some crystals to make it shine.
These were fun to make and since I had the canes already made, very easy. I like the circle one best, but the other is growing on me. It was fun to watch my aunt open the gift. I think she likes them.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Butterfly Bowl

I spent a wonderful day at Creatopia
with a friend. I picked out the "popcorn bowl" and decided to try my hand at butterflies. Painting on the pottery is a bit weird in that you aren't supposed to mix the paints together to achieve shading. You paint everything 3 times and to get a shading I think you paint different layers a bit differently. I'm not sure about that. I havent figured it out. The butterflies are pretty much just blocks of color seperated by lines to define the sections so I didn't have to worry so much about shading. Another weird thing about painting on pottery is that you really cant see exactly how your painting will look until after it is fired. The colors are really muted and the details are hard to see prior to the firing. I had brought a magazine with pictures to look at as I painted and kept picking them out til the bowl had them all around. I joked that this was going to be my ice cream bowl. It is huge, but I really like ice cream!! In reality, it was serving as a fruit bowl and now I've begun mixing my bread in it for its rising time. I love how it turned out. It brings a spot of cheer to the kitchen.
Its a good excuse to spend some time with a friend and talk and catch up as you paint. We've gone twice now and had a blast each time.
Actually, I think we're about due for another trip.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My neice's mermaid

Here is the box I made for my neice. I gave it to her as her birthday gift and I think she likes it. I didn't woodburn the quote and words on this one like I did the first. Decided just to paint them on and I think it made for neater wording.
I was able to spend some time in the Art Palace this afternoon and feel refreshed and relaxed. Here's to being able to spend time doing what you love.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A love affair with boxes

I have always, for as long as I can remember, had a fascination with pretty boxes. Any shape, any size, any material. It's almost an obsession and it runs in my family as my grandmother and my sister are the same. One of the projects in SuziBlu's La Sirena class was to woodburn a box. Can you imagine my excitement to start this project?! It turned out just as I had pictured in my head. I love it when a project falls into place like that. I glued on sea glass, used lots of glass bead gel, and embelished away with glitter. It was so much fun, I made another for my niece. I was going to give her this one because when I found the quote I just really wanted to share it with her. But then I found my brain and realized that I had painted her topless-which I usually do for mermaids-and my brother would not approve. So anyways, I'll show you the other box on another day.

I still haven't figured out what to stow in my box, but she's sitting in a place of honor in the art palace and I smile everytime I see it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Possibilities

There's something wonderful about the way so many people embrace change at the start of a new year. Unfortunately, I can not count myself among those loving resolutions and changes in their lives. I am afraid of change. I don't embrace it or look forward to the opportunities it may bring. I mourn for what I'm losing when change comes my way. I know that is not a great outlook and I've been working to adapt and approach change in a more positive, optimistic manner. Some days I do better than others.

I've been experiencing more episodes where I temporarily lose the vision in one of my eyes. The neurologist is stumped at the moment and I'm stressed. I tried not to let the most recent episodes get to me, but they are scary and I can't put them out of my mind for long. It is frustrating that the doctors don't know why it happens and therefore, they can't prevent it from happening again. Anyways, I am instituting a change this year. Of my own free will. I'm trying to move to a more whole food, local food, organic lifestyle. I cant do completely organic as my bank account would shriek in response, so I'm picking and choosing and trying to change the ones where I feel it will make a difference. I'm reading labels and if it has an ingredient I can't pronounce, I'm putting the product back on the shelf. If there are more than 5 ingrediants on the label, I'm really thinking before I buy. Its almost frightening to see all the chemicals I've been consuming without realizing it up til now. I am not sure that this change will prevent future attacks of vision loss, but I'm pretty sure its a good change and will help me feel that I am doing everything I can to maintain a healthy body and soul.

So here's to changes, however scary they may be. I hope that 2011 proves to be the best year yet.
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