Routine rescue

Hi Everyone,

Hopefully you have had a great week. Mine has been spent getting back into the routines of home after being away last week. It was hard to leave the little guy and the 73 degree weather. As I drove the five hours north the skies got grayer, then the rain started and I watched the temperature drop steadily until it was 39 degrees in our driveway. I seriously considered turning around and heading back South! 

At least the temps have been somewhat warmer this week even though the gloom still lingers. Trees are beginning to bloom as well as the daffodils and forsythia. Every winter my Grandma would announce over Sunday lunch, “I’m not going to live to see another Spring”.  This went on for many years until it became a family joke. Grandma finally had enough and stated, “one year I will be right!”  I’m beginning to understand how Grandma felt. I swear the winters get longer and I wonder if I’m going to make it through. 

Anyway, Spring is teasing so there’s hope. The routines I’ve been working on the past several months have kicked back in this week, though the impending house listing has put me into renewed decluttering and packing unnessarys with a vengeance and some house cleaning has been put off until tomorrow (Saturday). I prefer to do the boring house stuff during the week and save Saturday for big projects or occasionally some fun. I have not dropped my 30 day minimalism challenge. I will update you on the number of things that have left home at the end of the month. We are also working on another barn clean out. Whew! Too. Much. Stuff.

My routine of drawing/painting one hour a day has gone surprisingly well. I had just started on my recent picture last week when I got the call that baby was on his way. This Monday I started back on it and finished it Thursday. There is likely five hours in this one because I had an extra hour Monday evening to work on it. That’s called “gravy” here in the South. A little something extra special. So this is a pastel painting of our Rhode Island Red chickens. I’m swearing off liquid paint at least for the time being. Pastel is FAST. Excuse the messy edges. I’m giving you the unedited, truth in advertising, version.


I just printed out my next three reference photos so stay tuned. I’m hoping to enter into a contest with next week’s work. That’s it for now. I’m ready for a lazy Friday evening. Have a great weekend! 

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He’s here! 

Hi Everyone,

Baby Brayden arrived on Tuesday, March 5 at 12:57 pm. He decided to arrive much faster than anyone expected so all the grandparents were in route when we got the call he had arrived. Of course I have to show pictures or my grandparent card will be revoked. 


He looks like a mini version of my son-in-law, but I suspect his personality may be more like his momma. On day two he was already raising that head trying to look around. His mom would scream at the top of her lungs if she had to look at a ceiling. She spent her entire infant hood in a bouncy chair so she could see what was going on around her. 

I am enjoying my quiet, snuggling time with the little guy and quality time with my daughter and SIL, but have to leave this sweet time and warm weather and head back to the hills tomorrow to the other people who need me. For that reason, I’m just popping in with the baby arrival announcement and go back to squeeze out as much baby time as I can in the time I have left. 

Have a great weekend! 

Thank you!

Hi Everyone,

I hope life is sunny where you are. We have rain AGAIN! 

I want to thank all of you who reached out with messages of concern, comfort and encouragement after last week’s post. It meant a great deal and made my heart hurt less. Thank you! Thank you!

My friend passed away on Saturday and even though I attended her funeral on Wednesday it’s not going to sink in until that moment when I really want to tell her something (like the arrival of my grandbaby that she was excited about) and pick up the phone then realize she’s not going to answer. 

My Dad has more tests scheduled this coming week and we expect more bad news. His 84th birthday is Monday and he gets to spend part of it in an MRI machine. We are praying that Baby T arrives that day. That would be a lovely bright spot in the gloom. My bags are in the car and I have as much organized and planned out for D. and Miss L. as I possibly can while I’m gone. Waiting is not one of my talents though. I’m amazed that I have been able to sleep this week. 

I finished the commissioned drawing and delivered it. I had planned to show you a detail this week, but she is gifting it this weekend so I can show you the finished piece in its entirety next week (bear with me if I’m MIA next week though).

Each day I’m trying to get in at least an hour of art time, primarily to save my sanity at the moment.  I’m working on small pieces that I hope to eventually have in my much neglected Etsy shop. Here is a little detail of the current work.


 I have two pieces (the old door and old truck in previous posts) that I am entering in an online juried show. You most certainly will hear about it if one of them gets in. It’s a long shot, but we have to stretch ourselves and take some chances. 

Sorry this is a fairly cut and dry post today. I’m really trying not to think too much right now. I definitely would appreciate prayers and good energy thoughts for a safe, easy labor for my daughter and a healthy baby boy for all of us grandparents to spoil profusely. 

Wishing you a warm and cheery week! 

The Gloom and Doom Report

Hi Everyone!

Let me start by saying that I hope life is sunny for you right now. Literally and figuratively it is NOT where I live. If you are looking for an upbeat, perky blog post today then I will warn you now that this is not going to be it. Check back next week to see if things have improved any. 

We are in our 16th week of February with that many weeks of rain. I’m pretty sure that North Carolina has now reached its normal yearly rainfall in the first two months of 2019. We are mildewed, covered in mud and extremely cranky around here. The horses are starting to refuse to leave the barn. One of my dogs has decided he will not need to poop until about June. The chickens are beginning to acquire webbed feet. We briefly saw the sun one day this week and everyone ran outside to soak up a few minutes of vitamin D. I don’t know whether to plant banana trees or seaweed in the garden this year. 

Outside of the weather, life has been equally gloomy. I went Tuesday to say my goodbyes to a dear friend and have been waiting on the call from her family ever since. I think there was a brief moment or two where she realized that I and another friend were there with her. I hope so at least. I desperately wanted her to know that we were there. She lost the ability to speak several weeks ago and struggled to communicate the last time I visited. How frustrating that must be when you need most to say you are in pain or “I love you.” 

After two or three extremely difficult weeks of processing and waiting, I can now mention the fact that my Dad is very sick. He and my Mom have begun to tell people so I can talk about it here. There are more tests ordered, but I’m not sure why. With each test we get more bad news and the fact that cancer has been found in two major areas already doesn’t lend itself to any possibility of much better news.  I only allow myself a few drops at a time to think about the magnitude of change and difficulty that is coming to my family. 

To end the week, I am going today with some other family members to visit another family member that failing fast. I am not yet allowed to discuss it as there are still plans to be decided on, but this is a person who is near and dear and has brought much fun and laughter into our lives and will leave a gaping hole. It’s been a super sucky week. 

I did start another commissioned piece of artwork this week. After we found out about Dad I swore I would not take on another one and add that stress to my life right now, but it’s for a friend and she said there was absolutely no deadline that I have to meet. It’s actually a blessing because when my brain and heart starts thinking too much I can start working on it and the concentration required gives me a little reprieve. I will show you some of it next week. 

I apologize for the gloom and doom, but I just can’t even fake cheerfulness at the moment and I’m not good enough a writer to make up any believable fiction for your enjoyment. Bear with me. Please realize that if my blog posts are not showing up regularly for a while, it’s because we are dealing with the big life stuff. The one bright spot is the impending arrival of my first grandbaby. That little bugger is much needed right now. We NEED a gummy baby smile, burps and poopy diapers and sweet baby smells to replace some of the recent conversations. 

Wishing you a sunshiny, warm and gentle week. 

Be yourself

Hi Everyone!

How is February treating you? We are half way through what I consider the worst month of the year. Honestly it feels like this month is 60 days long. Looking at our projected two week forecast here, I truly believe we are looking at a high likelihood of mildew. Two straight weeks of mildish temperatures and more RAIN. We already have endless mud. Our horses and donkey keep coming in lame where they are slipping and sliding in the mucky pasture. The chickens need boots to keep from miring up to their feathers and I don’t dare let my car run off the edge of our driveway or it will be June before we can retrieve it from the bottomless mud pit. Yeah, fun stuff. 

So to survive February I decided that I absolutely positively have to give myself some daily art time to avoid a major outbreak of cabin fever. At the moment it seems to be working. There is still half of February to go unfortunately. 

I have been giving myself one hour most mornings (life still throws a curve ball at least once a week) and I’m pleased with the progress. The one hour doesn’t cause me guilt for what I’m not getting done around the house and keeps resentment at bay for not getting time for myself. Any evening art time is gravy! 

There has been one breakthrough. Ok, maybe more of just acceptance. Do you have curly hair that you have tried to straighten all your life? Or straight hair you have spent hours curling? Maybe you are a great runner but always wanted to play baseball instead.  I accepted my stick straight, baby fine hair that can’t hold a style longer than my ears, a long time ago. What I have fought against for five ridiculous decades is that I’m not good with paint. Passable maybe, but painting is stressful not relaxing. What I am good at, even as far back as my first crayons, is dry mediums. Give me a pencil and I’m in my element. Colored pencils even better because I have color to play with. Some of us are too hard headed to see what is in front of us (finger pointing directly at my hard head). Finally I am embracing it. I’m not throwing out my acrylics, water colors or gouche paints (though I have considered it many, many times). They will instead, be under paintings. Supporting actors now. 

For Christmas I got a small set of pastel pencils and have excavated my box of unused soft pastels, conte crayons and charcoal. I am pushing myself to learn new things though. Pencil drawings come so easily most of the time that I often get bored so I need some challenges. Soft pastels definitely have a big learning curve. Right now I’m mixing several things together. In about a minute I’m into the flow because I have to concentrate so hard. Finally a form of mediation that works for me. Sitting still, trying to ignore my thoughts only adds anxiety to my life! Here is what I have done or am working on (the building) in the past week. The door is an 8×10 inch piece, but the little girl and building are 5×7 inches. I’m trying to save supplies when I know the experimental stage results in trashed pieces. 


My advice, for what’s it worth, is quit trying to be something you are not. I have recently heard it called “your fantasy self” and that rings true. Don’t waste decades like yours truly struggling to do something that doesn’t suit you. Go with what you are good at naturally. Life is wayyyy too short!! Love your curls. Run your race not someone else’s. 

February?

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? My week has been as erratic as the weather here in North Carolina. It has been a week filled with ups and downs, surprises (not necessarily of the good kind), laughter, tears, stress, sadness, dread, hopefulness. You name it, I’ve had it this week. It has matched the February weather here spot on. Yesterday was 77 degrees, a week ago we were busting ice so the animals had water. Today it was 63 at 6 am and will be falling into the 20’s tonight. I’m hoping the weather levels out as well as life. I’m not sure I can get through another week like this one.

In case you are dealing with life in all its crazy forms as well, I just want to remind you to find some time each day to give yourself a physical and mental break. My tag line on this blog is “adventures in creative living.” Sometimes you have to get creative to just hold on to the roller coaster. You probably don’t have hours, but even 15 minutes can do a world of good.

I recently started giving myself 1 hour a day, morning or evening, to do regular artwork. There is so much on my plate right now that I found there was some resentment starting to bubble up. That is not good for me or those who have to live with me. I managed four of the five days this work week. I finished my commission and delivered it yesterday! This is a birthday present to the Mother of these three gentlemen. She had a similar portrait done of them when they were young and they are giving her this one of them as grown men. 


I have started a new drawing and as usual keep my knitting with me when I’m in a waiting situation. Several of my evenings this week have found me mentally, physically and emotionally drained. Too tired to read, knit or draw, I escaped to YouTube and watched art tutorials or American Pickers. Whatever it takes to give yourself a break. Well, there are some things it’s better to avoid when you are stressed so choose wisely. 

Find something you enjoy and preferably something that gets you into a creative flow and takes your mind off life for awhile. Music, games, sewing, gardening, playing with your goofy dog. Something to make time stand still and let your heart and mind rest and recover. 

I have about six boxes of stuff to clean out today. I was about 108 items short of my January goal. No lack of stuff just a lack of time. This week as I jump into another round of the minimalist challenge I need to clean out 46 items so far for February. Right now (before breaking into three unopened boxes) I have exactly 100 items either being donated or trashed. I found an entire box of socks that belonged to my son and D. had a big box in our closet. I estimate that neither of them will need new socks for the next 10 years! Sock hoarders!

Wishing you a peaceful week.

Konmari and a big shovel 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are off to a great start this week. Once again I apologize for going MIA last week. It turned out much more hectic and stressful than planned. Every day except one was spent running to appointments. Some days had several. I also visited a dear friend who is in the hospital and she is in pretty bad shape right now. That alone took a toll on me. It’s so hard to see someone you love suffering and not be able to do anything to help. 

So this week I’m trying to catch up on the pile of stuff that should have been done last week. I somehow got a good start on the commissioned drawing. Well, actually that happened in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t a good sleep week either so I have decided that on those nights I’m going to quit laying there trying to solve the world’s problems and quietly do something productive. Luckily drawing is a pretty quiet activity! Here is a sneak peek. 


If you have been reading this crazy blog, you know that I am in a major clean out phase. Unless you have had your head in the sand or like us, don’t watch TV, you have heard about Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. I know about her because I read her first book several years ago, am reading her second book currently, and it seems like everything I read or watch on YouTube is talking about her right now. Don’t quote me, but I think I saw last week where donations to charities is up by something insane like 336% thank to Ms. Kondo. Last week I helped contribute to that by hauling a stuffed carload of clothes, household items, baby clothes (My babies are 23 and almost 26 years old. It’s past time, don’t ‘cha think! ), books, etc. to a local charity shop.  The hubby has gotten on board and started cleaning out the old tobacco barn which had become the storage unit for broken and unneeded stuff. He took a trailer load of old equipment and I’m afraid to guess what else to the landfill. The two barns are his domain. I have a hands off policy on those. 

I have been doing the 30 day minimalism challenge this month (google it for details, I’m on a time crunch today) so here are my numbers for last week. Decluttered and donated 74 items and trashed 60 items for a total of 133 items. That’s 73 items short of what I needed to do but I still have time this week to meet my 498 items for the month goal. Total items for the month so far is 376!  

If you are a new reader here is the backstory: 1) D. and I got married in 2016 combining 30+ years each of “stuff” that will not fit into his 1300 square foot home thus adding a storage unit to our monthly bills  2) In 2017 his younger sister passed away and her young daughter came to live with us and our already stuffed house became even more crowded. His sister was also the keeper of four generations worth of family stuff and after other family members got what they wanted we were still left with TWO more storage units of stuff to sort through while PAYING FOR. 3) Now we have decided to sell our farm, move back to our hometown and build a slightly larger house. 4) We are NOT GOING TO MOVE ALL THIS STUFF! 

I am doing the challenge to jump start the process as quickly as possible. We will be putting the farm on the market soon and if you have sold a house you know that whole staging and storage thing is a big deal. I am a deadline person also and need the deadline to keep me on track. I appreciate the Konmari method of asking if something “sparks joy”, but frankly I just don’t have the time to be pondering the whole joy thing. I need a timer and a big shovel to get this done! Three weeks in and I still don’t yet see a difference in the house or the storage unit I am currently working on, sooooooo February will be another 30 day challenge. In all likelihood it will continue until the unit is cleared or I have reached burnout and need a new method. 

Are you Konmari-ing your house? Are you watching the show? I would love to have some compadres in this quest for breathing room. Let me know your thoughts and progress. Its lonely out here. Have an awesome week!

Everyday creative

Hi Everyone!

I hope life is treating you well. My apologies for missing last week. My husband had a close friend pass last week so my schedule had to be rearranged so I could go with him to the funeral. I also helped host a baby shower for my daughter over the weekend and every minute was full of preparations. It was a hectic week. After everyone was safely home on Saturday, I didn’t mind having an ice storm too much. It was a good excuse to stay home and recover. Event planning seriously stresses me out. 

I thought I would show you the arrangement on Fred’s casket because not only was it unusual it was beautifully done. Fred worked with D., but was also an excellent horseman and taught D. a great deal about horses and training them. Fred had been sick for several years and unable to ride anymore so he had been selling most of his equipment including all his saddles. The family asked D. if they could borrow one of his saddles for the funeral. The photo isn’t great and doesn’t do it justice, but kudos to the florist, the arrangement was stunning. 


Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. I had no time last week to draw or paint, but I can tell you that my Mom, my sister and myself put some creativity into the shower prep! We each made at least one party dish that we had never tried before and just prayed they were good. My daughter wanted a woodland theme. Well she probably wanted a jungle theme, but I changed it to a woodland theme because jungle decor is far and few between in our part of the world and our time of year. I also wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on a one time use of decorations. My very patient husband did some creative wood cutting of a downed tree on our farm for me and I went out and cut pine and cedar branches for the greenery. Many of the serving dishes and other decor were pottery pieces my sister or I made and we used some carved wood birds that my Dad made years ago. There was my daughter’s old teddy bear standing watch at the gift table. The wood pieces and greenery were such a hit that they actually went home with one my daughter’s friends to use at her little boy’s first birthday party! They would have been firewood if they came home with me.

Miss L. and I barely got on the road home from the shower when the freezing rain began. We were lucky and did not lose power but enjoyed a cozy, lazy, Sunday. I got started on knitting a sweater with my new funky interchangeable circular knitting needles. I need a minimum of an hour to work on artwork, but knitting I can do for just a few minutes at a time or a marathon session when I’m waiting for someone at an appointment. Knitting is my therapy. I’m not good enough at it to consider it creative because I just follow someone else’s creative pattern, but it keeps my hands busy and burns off stress or the fidgets. 


This week I’m working on house selling and building paperwork, appointments for Miss L. (More knitting) and more decluttering. Week one I needed to clear out 21 items, but managed 50. Last week I needed to clear out 70 items but only got 38. This week I need to declutter 119! So the fact I’m only in a deficit of -3 so far isn’t too bad. Tomorrow I will go get another car load of boxes out of the storage unit and see if I can stay on track. 

Have a great week and work some creativity into every day!

Needing sunshine and less stuff

Hi Everyone,

Happy 2019! 

Hopefully this won’t read as delirious as I feel right now. My day started at 2:30 am today. Why? Because my son had to be at the airport (two hours away) by 5:30 am. Once again he is off to places tropical to spend the winter. At least this year he will only be one time zone difference instead of four!


Did you have exciting New Year celebrations or like us, stayed home? D. brought in the new year with a nasty cold and we have had, what feels like, endless cold rain. New Year’s Day was a rare, dry, warm day that allowed us to get outside and get some cleaning up of muddy horses, stinky chicken coop and the leftover ruins of the garden. The next day…the rain came back and is still going. Yuck. The mud.

So how are those goals and resolutions going three days into 2019? If you need some motivation, I’m going to put in a shameless plug for my daughter’s podcast, Find Reality. I just finished listening to her New Year’s Day episode and she has some good realistic tips for sticking to your goals. Tell her that her Momma sent you. 

Normally I am a resolution setter every year and I often don’t follow through on my goals either because they are just too much. This year I have one big one that I REALLY need/ have to achieve and one that isn’t too crazy. The easy one is to join one or two artist groups. Ideally one regional one and one national one. I have a national one in mind, but am open to suggestions if any of you know of some good ones. I want to up my game and start entering competitions/shows. 


I finished this drawing over the holidays and am finally pleased with the outcome of some experimentation that was depressing me for awhile. Also this week I took on another commission. I had planned to NOT do any commissions at all this year, but this one will be a good challenge. Since I have to get it finished by the end of February due to the impending arrival of my first grandbaby in March, I can’t let myself get bogged down in the overthinking that plagues me sometimes. 

The biggie goal is to clean out one of the THREE (long story and most of the stuff came to us when D.’s sister died) storage units. If you have been keeping up on here you know we are planning a new house and a move in the near future. Six years ago I sold the four bedroom house that I raised my kids in. The buyers only gave me a month to move and at that time rentals were scarce and I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything yet. Things got down to the wire and I wound up stuffing the majority of the “stuff” in storage. I AM NOT moving all that “stuff” again! 

Here’s my plan, and you get to help keep me on track…the 30 day minimalist challenge. Whatever the date is, I have to part with that many things. For example, today is January 3 so I have to find three things to donate, trash or sell. They have to leave my life! Now I know that there are days that I am not going to have time to clean out stuff. Mine is going to be more of a weekly plan. This week I am supposed to declutter 21 items. On New Year’s Eve I went to the storage unit and filled up my car with boxes. Ok, I cheated a little because I already had one box labeled Yard Sale that contained 12 items. Now I gave up yard sales when my friend Wendy moved away. A yard sale just wouldn’t be any fun without her or her husband’s boat she sold at one of our yard sales…without completely clearing it with him!

As of today, January 3, I have a box of 34 items ready to donate, three items to sell and a box of trash cleaned out. Some of the “trash” is actually a large bag of my son’s artwork from preschool to high school. No I’m not heartless. I have hung on to it for 20 YEARS. But now he was here with me and we sat down and looked through it together. We laughed about his abstract phase and I kept his little hand prints as well as took a few pictures of some pieces. The rest just had to go. 


So, what is overage from this week (37-21=16) will carry over to next week for the days I might not get anything cleaned out. By January 31 I should have cleaned out 496 items! Sounds like a lot, but trust me, there is a long, long way to go. You can get an amazing amount of stuff in a 10 x 16 storage unit. Since I write this blog each week I will report my progress here and possibly on Instagram. Before December 31, 2019 I WILL HAVE one, if not a second, storage unit cleaned out. We will be keeping one of the three to store boxes that we plan to move. In this process I am already boxing items we don’t HAVE to have right now such as decorative items, canning jars or art supplies I can’t use until I have a studio. 

Friends, this girl is pooped and it’s not even noon yet. I need to accomplish a few more things before I work in a nap. Have a great first week of 2019!

Sick and soggy

Hi Everyone,

Happy Holidays! I hope your holidays have been lovely this year. Mine was vastly better than 2017. Last year was enormously stressful and unorganized. I was probably dealing with some depression as well with neither of my kids being home for Christmas. This year I was organized, had more energy, both kids and my son-in-law were here, decorating happened, goodies got made, all without any major stress or anxiety. So, so much better! I was able to enjoy Christmas instead of dread and endure it. I did boatloads of cooking and was exhausted after it was all over, but it was the good exhaustion.

I had not planned to do a blog post this week, but I am stuck inside today on a dreary, super rainy day with a sick husband and no motivation for much more than staying warm and dry next to the wood stove. Miss L. is bored because she has zoomed through at least 5, yes FIVE, books since her Christmas vacation started and is now out of books to read. Maybe we will try to row the ark to the library tomorrow so she can survive a few more days until school starts back. 

Many times on this blog I have written about how hard winter is for me. Grey days and long, cold nights put me in a serious funk. Each year I try different ways to cheer myself up. I’m doing better so far this year. I still have the worst months of January, February and March to go though and this never ending cold rain is a definite challenge. In case you are like me, here are some things that seem to be helping: 1) candles – following the Danish hygge, I have been lighting candles in the living room and kitchen when the gloom starts getting to me. 2) hot chocolate and tea with a good book, movie or podcast to take my mind off the cold. 3) hobbies – lots of knitting and DRAWING (here is a detail of my almost finished most recent art) in my downtime. 4) fruit – citrus especially seems to help. 5) exercise – I’m trying for at least three times a week of 20-30 minutes but am not beating myself up if I don’t get all of it in. I am also not over doing. My joints now tell me when to stop. 


Basically I am trying to enjoy this season of downtime instead of wishing for the busy warm months. Oh, color. I did something that I have said for years that I was going to do. I added some purple streaks in my hair. There is added color in my wardrobe as well. Some bright shirts and my new Christmas boots that replaced my holey, boring brown ones. They look so cheerful in the muddy mess that is our yard right now. 


I do have a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce on the stove right now that uses our tomatoes from the summer’s garden. We have had too many Christmas goodies and need to get back to our healthy food. I’m convinced that is why D. is sick and my fingers hurt. If you have arthritis, give up or cut WAY back on the sugar. You will be amazed how much better you feel. I think the remaining candy is going in the freezer for later winter treats. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

That about wraps up this weird between time before a fresh new year begins. Rest up and enjoy the remainder of 2018 and I will see you in 2019!