A New Year


Ring out wild bells to the wild sky,
    The flying cloud, the frosty light:
    The year is dying in the night;
    Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
    The year is going, let him go;
    Ring out the false, ring in the true.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Some girls get flowers. Others get…


Paste Wax!

I love little spousal gifts, and yesterday I was treated to an oversized, smelly, gooey can of wax-style floor polish.  (And yes, I am happy about this!)  I've been meaning to try it on some of my projects for a while, but hadn't found it yet.  It provides a lovely durable, mostly matte finish especially lovely on wood projects.  Now I just need a wood project to try it on!  I'm only worried about two things – the smell (it is solvent based) and whether or not it will yellow over time.  I'll do some experimenting to find out what I can find out. 

Oh, such fun toys my husband treats me with!


Venturing out today, we travelled up to Smokey Point to visit The Plant Farm.  We have a small list of local nurseries that are our favorites, each with its own unique strong points.  The Plant Farm has fish.  Dozens and dozens of gorgeous Koi.  Armed with a pocket of quarters, Ben keeps himself busy buying fish food to feed the hungry buggers while daddy shops.  There is something incredibly adorable about old fashioned vending machines a child with a fistful of change.  Amazingly, we did not leave with any plants this time, just temporary pots for our blueberries until they have a permanent home in the ground next year.

There's a Michaels very near The Plant Farm, and as I haven't been in one for-EVER, I indulged in a browse.  I even treated myself to a few purchases.

I couldn't pass up a great deal on gesso – I'm low, and this was on clearance.  It could by 937 ml at this price, or I could buy a full gallon for about $3 more.  I shouldn't be running out anytime soon.


I was pleased to see that Michaels' selection of clays has expanded since I'd been there last – they have several I've never seen in person before.  I've been wanting to try La Doll air-dry clay since I first read about it a couple years ago, and although I paid through the nose for it (Michaels is always always more expensive than ordering through an actual fine art supplier, like Dick Blick), I got to take it home today and try it out.

I fell victim to a standing-in-the-waiting-line-offering with this one.  I haven't bought a Somerset Studio magazine in several years – I just don't have the mad money for it – but I noticed that this issue's artist porfolio was on our local Teesha Moore.  We have met her (and her talented husband) several times throughout the years, at various shows and Artfest – they are very personable and fun people, and Teesha's artwork is a feast for the eyes.  Kind of like a buffet at a chinese restaurant – so many wonderful things to devour all in one place, it can be overwhelming.  I likely will get up an hour or two early tomorrow morning so I can enjoy some uninterrupted alone time reading this.


I didn't actually buy this book (I'd already spent more than my share of gift money today), but I did make note of it so I could look it up at the library when I got home.  There are about a bajillion art journalling books out there, but I guess what sparked my interest about this one was that unlike 99.9% of all the others, this one is authored by men.  Flipping through the pages quickly, I didn't actually see what the book was actually about (More technique based vs eye candy?  More introductionary vs geared to those already familiar with the basic concepts?) – I found the artwork itself rather inspirational.  It wasn't necessarily better, it was just different.  More shapes and scribbles and colors and lines, and less flowers and vintage photos and, well, girls.  I just found it to be refreshing enough in the two minutes I glanced through it that I already have it on hold at the library.

It feels good to be even remotely artistic again.  This has been a long and dark and dry spell.

A Snow Day

After working at the store for the last two weeks getting it converted to Christmas, I now find myself faced with several days in what used to be my house, but is now a complete pig sty.  Not only have I not been home (nor Chris, for that matter) to do dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, or general cleaning, we also lost our fridge, so cooking and storing food has just added to the mess.

The morning greeting us with a light snowfall, which of course has inevitably shut down the entire western Washington area.  Chris is giving me a much needed break by working at the store this afternoon for the few customers that will brave the extreme stormy weather for a visit, and I hope to reward him (and me!) with a clean house when he gets home.

Ben has what we call his "Yay" Chart, which is just a simple piece of tag board tacked to the pantry door, with a grid drawn with sharpie.  Eat time he accomplishes some kind of task (puts away toys, is good while out, uses the potty, etc), he can earn a sticker; when he's earned a whole row of stickers, he gets a prize. 

I remember that the other day, Ben volunteered to help me with the dishes, so I have a brilliant idea.

Me: "Ben, would you like to earn extra stickers by helping me around the house?"

Ben: "O-Kay!" (Ben never ever says "Yes."  Just "No" or "O-Kay.")

Me: "We can add a line to your chart for Housework.  Would you like that?"

Ben: "O-Kay!"

Me: "You want to help around the house?  You want to help mama vacuum, and wash dishes, and do laundry?"

Ben: "O-Kay!"

Me: "Ben, do you actually get what I'm saying?  If I asked you if you wanted to jump into a volcano, would you say yes?"

Ben: "Yes."

Yeah, I thought so.

Monday, Monday



You know, for the first time in a long while, I have enjoyed my Monday.  Though I no longer have a regular 9-5 style office job, Mondays have still managed to stress me out each week.  This has been especially disappointing given that Monday is kind of my Saturday, as typically I do not go into the store for the first two days of the week.  I'm not sure what struck this particular Monday as less stressful than usual, but nonetheless, it was pleasant. 

Now sitting here, enjoying the last little bit of the day before the sun and Benjamin go to bed for the night, I'm pondering the 5-senses-Friday.  I truly am a sucker for these little post prompts, as to me they are like assignments, and I have always been at my most creative and productive when I have been given an assignment.  These little homework bits give me something to think about during the week, helping to notice things about life or my surroundings that I perhaps wouldn't have caught otherwise. 

I have wanted to partake in the 5-senses-Friday for weeks, but I am sorry to say that I have yet to come through a week with a full load of striking sensory experiences to report.  Not that anything has to be dramatic, but for me it does need to be meaningful.  Normally this wouldn't bother me, because sometimes things strike you, and sometimes they don't.  That's just life.  But this bothers me right now, because I have been struggling to lift myself out of a creative fog for year now (that's a long story).  I want to be back where I used to be, when my brain was buzzing with wonderful colorful things all the time.  Especially now that I have a son to enjoy those things with, because I think regularly exercising that part of our brain keeps us young and healthy.

(I have a tendency to blather when really I meant to just write a sentence or two.  Not that anyone really cares about all that blathering, it just feels good to write out, and in the end that's sorta why I bother doing it.)


Today, I was…

…Hearing:  The soft patter of rain falling.

…Smelling:  Also the rain – fresh, spring-like, completely relaxing.

…Seeing:  Dare I say it?  The rain again?  Just watching it fall outside the window.  Rain isn't something I truly appreciated until I married my husband, who has always loved rain.  The day might be gray, but the rain comes and washes the dust off everything, and suddenly it is all brighter.  Green trees are vibrant, rock sparkles, painted signs and buildings are vivid.  Its just lovely.

…Tasting and touching?  I'm inside, not out, so it isn't rain this time.  I'm tasting my coffee, pungent and smooth and dark.  I'm feeling the warm cup in my hands, liking the shape of the smooth porcelain in my hand.

Aaaaahhhhhh…..all of this was contemplated for about 10 minutes, until such time as Ben had his before-bed-breakdown.  As a parent, you really learn to value a wonderful 10 minutes when you can get them, don't you? 🙂

Another Outing


We're getting good at these outings!  Yesterday was gorgeous, but pretty freezing. 


The sun was lovely and toasty, but the wind messed it up and chilled anything and everything that was exposed to it. 


We got out of the car and walked anyway, and I took photos until my fingers couldn't turn the focus or push the buttons anymore. 



Ben, like most children, seemed impervious to the cold.  I remember being like that.  What happened?!


Sweet, chubby, baby hands.


Teeny, tiny flowers.


Pretty weeds, safe and happy in their native habitat…





(…bee doo bee doo…)


We had great timing that day.  Just shortly into our walk, what do you suppose came to greet us?


A train, of course.


We looked…


…and looked… 


…and looked some more…


…until we could look no longer.  There were a great many wonderful things to see that day.  Looking through a camera lens is sort of like looking through the eyes of a child.  Things look different, more interesting, new and pretty. 


Simple dead (or sleeping?) sticks.


This, oddly, was my favorite.

It was another good day.  I asked Ben for a big smile:


Riverside Park

Lately we've taken to chasing trains, which involves taking the long way home every time we're out, and sometimes when we weren't out at all.  Today was one of those days.  Chris is becoming quite familiar with all the various train yards around the Everett / Snohomish area, and it is a great treat for Ben (and usually us) to pack in the car, turn on some Loreena, and go train hunting.

In taking the long way to Molback's today, we happened by this teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall park, which really consisted simply of a few benches, some sidewalk, and a garbage can.  The two great things going for it that thus made it stop-the-car-and-get-out worthy were the multitude of delicious smelling flowering plants and a fantastic view of a bustling industrial yard of cranes and other large machinery.










It was only about a 7 minute stop, but very lovely indeed.


Kayak Point

A while back I wrote about our visit to Kayak Point park, and said I'd post some photos, then never did.  Chris just sent me a whole huge file of my photos that I'd taken, so I was going through them tonight and picked out a few. 


This really is a great park – a little bit of toys and slides and things to play on, but also the BEACH.  We did a great many fun things, mostly involving climbing, touching, exploring, digging, grabbing, jumping, sliding, pointing, and running. 

We looked for treasures…


We ate chocolate, drank coffee (well, I did),


sat on the beach, counted boats,


looked for beach glass,


and other great fun things…




Those last couple, by the way, are rosehips.  Like the kind you see on the side of the freeway about this time of year.  Same kind that they make Vitamin C with.  And the same kind used in our potpourri at the store.  Our most popular potpourri is dried scented rosehips, and people always think they are cranberries, which amuses me, because who HASN'T seen an actual dried cranberry?  Rosehips dry to a hard round berry anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter, and are very very pretty.  Dried or fresh!

And we saw other neat things…A sad, lonely claw all by itself….


…a stinky clump of sea goo looking very pretty behind a lens…


It was a lovely gray day, and fortunately it didn't rain on us.  If you want directions, let me know, and I'll get them from Chris.



Routine is great for toddlers.  But it is great for me too.  I have a certain list of things that I must do each day – whether it be 5 minutes or an hour, some time must be spent each day on these things.  I have learned this about myself.  If I devote some of my time an attention to this list of things every day, my life is just…better.  It is a simple list, the items sort of no-brainers.  Dishes.  Laundry.  Play with Ben.  Life is all about balance, and I'm still figuring out what all I need to be making time for.


Creative play is one of those things I have been sorely neglecting over the past several years.  Now that I have an impressionable little boy toddling around after me, copying what I do, I pay a lot more attention to what it is I do and don't do.  I have always wanted to encourage creativity in my children, whenever I had them.  My problem is that I often make things too complicated, so then I never do anything.


But I decided you don't have to spent a couple hours on a painting in order to be creative.  Maybe you doodle for 5 minutes in your journal.  Maybe you nap a photo of the perfect summer Poppy.  Maybe you bake a cake from scratch, or look differently at some mundane daily item and see something else in it.  That kind of thing I can do every day.


I loved school.  LOVED it.  You sit there and drink in new things, think about them, apply them, practice them.  But I loved getting assignments.  I wanted to see how far off track I could get while still working within the boundries of the assignment.  What could I come up with that no one else would?  It gave me direction, and I always came up with something.  When I graduated, that all went away, and I miss it.

Just for the fun of it, one day I asked my facebook friends to give me some words.  I didn't tell anyone what they were for, I just wanted some random words.  And they gave me some great ones!  It is my personal random word generator.  Now we see what I come up with.


I started with what I considered one of the most easy and fun words of all:  candy!  (Thanks Kara!).  I love LOVE candy.  I love to eat it, I love the wrapping, I love the colors.  I could spend days making art around candy (or just eating it).  But, all I really did was just sketch in my journal late one night after Ben had gone to bed.  Really I just need to exercise my left brain, not create dramatic frameable works of art. So I pulled out my mechanical pencil and my favorite little sparkle paints (very hard to photograph, by the way), and just played.


So then, I'd have to say I'm happy with what I did.  It was fun!  And really, that is kind of the point…

Party Hardy


Today we braved the great outdoors to attend a very special event.  A 4th birthday party for a very lovely and special friend.


It was a wonderful park, and there was so much to do!  Many new friends to meet, many toys to play on.


We said "weeee!"


And others said "Weeee!"


The little ones made a break for the grass…


And we big ones had fun too!


Really, we should have a party every day.


"Will you come when I'm FIVE?!"


Why of course!  We'll come when you're FOUR and a HALF!


Parks are very wonderful things.  They are great fun, and they induce great big naps.  Despite me still feeling rather under the weather, we all had a very lovely day. 🙂