December 31, 2009

A2 Journal Pages

You can see the page I created before I headed out here. It was fun reflecting on my moment of zen every day while on the trip.

A2 Journal Pages

Oh the expectation of stockings hanging by the fire. My niece Sophia said that she saw Santa last year. Well, she only saw his black boots. When I asked how she knew it was Santa, she said, "Because no-one else wears boots like that."

A2 Journal Pages

Love the sleigh coaster/napkin holders all around the house. This one is in the living room.

A2 Journal Pages

Love the quote and how this page turned out. It sure is dang chilly in these parts, so am creating my own sunshine.

A2 Journal Pages

This is one of the pages I created while on my play date. Time alone while in the midst of company .... priceless.

December 30, 2009

A2 Journal Pages

Here is another Cody toy. Something about a pig toy for a dog struck me as hilarious.

A2 Journal Pages

While reading a book, I often flag passages that strike me in some way. The second photo shows one such page. I spent the entire trip reading " The Almost Moon" by Alice Sebold. Am still reading it - I find myself shocked during much of it, so it is rather slow going for me.

December 29, 2009

A2 Journal Pages

Cody is the resident dog, and has a basket where he keeps his toys. This one has lost its squeak.

A2 Journal Pages

The homestead is a pig house. There are regular parties with the local pigs - those born in the year of the pig I mean. And of course there is loads of pig stuff to draw. This is a flashlight that you can charge by cranking on a lever. Cool.

A2 Journal Pages

I try to play in my journal whenever there is a break in the action. The Santa image was on a gift bag. Loved his jolly look.

A2 Journal Pages

Is the Crocs phase over? I think they are ugly shoes, but do admit that they are comfortable. Bought my pair at a clearance at West Marine for $5.

December 28, 2009

2010 Book Club Selections

Here is the list my book club is reading in the new year:

Jan: The Great Man by Kate Christensen
Feb: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
March: Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
April: The Promised Land by Mary Atin
May: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
June: Two Lives by Janet Malcolm
July: The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Aug: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Sept: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson
Oct: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Nov: What The Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
Dec: Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

Home Again

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig. Was a long drive back, but no traffic, no snow, no sleet, no ice, and plenty of stops for food. How is it that the guy at the border knows my home address? That database in the sky is rather disconcerting!

Came home to a clear driveway - even the hump at the bottom was gone. The work of some kind soul?

Today is a transition day - laundry, unpacking, staying in jammies as long as possible, etc. Delightful.

There are a couple of journal workshops being held locally that I'm going to try and sign up for. More on that later.

December 23, 2009

Indie Book Stores

It is getting harder and harder to find an indie book store - they have a tough time competing with the big chains and And when stores like Target and Walmart listed some of the bestsellers for about $10 for the holiday season, it makes it even harder for these stores to show value add. I love indie stores. They are all so different with different layouts and selections. That is part of the fun of browsing.

So imagine my delight when I stopped in at Nicola's Books and found the place packed with shoppers. Not only were all these people buying books, but they were willing to pay extra to support a local book seller. How does the store add value? They provide free gift wrapping, you get a free book for every $100 spent and the staff is knowledgeable and can recommend books for "a son who is 14 years old and likes edgy books". Love that!

December 22, 2009


Simple things make me happy. Especially a store full of beautiful paper. Had such a fun time as I explored the stock at Hollander's - my fave store in Ann Arbor.

Play Date

Taking time to play is always important, but is especially critical when you are hanging out with lots of folks around the holidays. Carved out several hours for a play date today and took my journal and a pen along. This photo shows my nest for a little while this morning - my journal, magazines, pen, tea and a scone - ummm, there was a scone on that plate. Finding time to nurture yourself ... priceless.

December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice

It is the shortest day of the year. But starting tomorrow, the days start to lengthen. How are you going to celebrate leaving the darkness behind? On my list is going for a long walk outside and sitting by a roaring fire later this afternoon.

December 20, 2009

A2 Days

  • Beautiful day out here. Glad am not home dealing with all that snow. Though should be interesting getting back into the driveway when we get home.
  • Just back in from a walk - slick ice under the snow. Beautiful light out there.
  • Surrounded by dogs. Doggies are everywhere!!!!
  • Watched a huge herd (about 10) of deer walk around the house this morning. So magical.
  • There is a birthday party for one of the pigs tonight.
  • Am off to make cookies. Yup, like I don't have enough sugar in my bloodstream .....

December 17, 2009

Road Trip

Don't you just love a road trip?

I have such fond memories of the road trips we used to take from Mombasa to Nyeri when I was a kid. Mom packed bags, kids and loads of tasty food into the car and Dad would drive as we set off in the dark. Always so exciting. It seemed like this incredible adventure and we all had our favorite stops along the way. Hunters Lodge was one of mine. Loved those peacocks.

Compared to modern travel standards, that trip of about 500 miles is no big shakes, but those were some of the most magical 12 hour drives I have ever taken. The road trip we're on today is about 780 miles, but lacks the excitement of having to stop to allow a herd of elephants to cross the road. Or frequent stops to wonder at the mystery of giraffes and zebras. Granted we did stop at the Buffalo Brewpub for dinner, and there was a buffalo statue over the door. You gotta find the magic where you can.

December 16, 2009

Travel Art Kit

Here is the answer to "when you travel how and when do you journal?"

My travel art kit usually looks like the photo - this is what I'm actually taking on my trip to A2 this week.

Supplies: journal, watercolor paint pan, watercolor pencils, pencil, several waterproof pens, water brush, glue stick, ruler, scissors.

I keep my supplies portable and find that watercolors are the least messy medium while traveling. I use all types - paint pans, watercolor pencils, watercolor crayons. The water brush is remarkable - it has a water reservoir and cleans us with a swipe on a paper towel. I have used this kit while tightly cramped on planes and it works like a charm. Colored pencils would work just as well, though I tend not to use them.

Prep work: If I'd like other medium on my pages - like acrylics, gesso, etc - I prep these pages ahead of time at home where I can easily clean up my mess.

When do I journal? Everywhere I get a little bit of time - in coffee shops, while watching football games, etc. I do this alone and with company - it makes no difference to me. I also collect ephemera along the way to stick in to my book.

The key part of art journaling while traveling is keeping things portable and as mess free as possible. Then make playing with your supplies a necessary part of each day.

December 15, 2009


One of the sculptures at the DeCordova looked liked dancers to me. The page had been pre-painted. Love doing that - throwing paint on paper with no objective in mind - and then when you get to the page, you gotta work with what is already there.

December 14, 2009

A2 Journal

This is the inside front cover and the first page of the journal. I still need to do some stamping to complete these pages.

Been having fun creating some pages in preparation for the trip. Here is a spread to capture my "moment of zen" - tip of the hat to Jon Stewart. Plan to add to it daily while away.

A2 Journal

I love making new journals for trips. This one is hand bound and made with recycled cardboard covers wrapped with recycled wallpaper samples. The spine is made of recycled fabric samples. Love using things that would otherwise get trashed. The inside pages are white watercolor paper. This is what the covers look like:

December 13, 2009

Sculpture Park

Here are some additional pics from my stroll around the DeCordova grounds. I love this little museum. The park is a wonderful place to have a picnic.

December 12, 2009

Recent Reads

Been sick this past week, so have not done much of anything really. Here are some of the books my fevered brain could handle.

1. The Poet
Finished this 600+ page book in 24 hours - actually closed it just a little while ago. I'm not a huge mystery genre fan, but there are several authors I really enjoy. Connelly is one of them. I had vague nigglings that I read this book many moons ago, but did not recall the story, so dived into the fun read.

2. The Read-Aloud Handbook
Reading this book was like preaching to the choir. Loved it. Should be required reading for every parent and educator. The copy I just finished looks like a prickly rainbow with all those sticky notes marking the passages I want to copy into my journal.

The single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. Reading is fundamental. Read to your kids for 30 minutes every day. Read to them even when they can read for themselves. A child has a much higher listening skill than reading skill until about age 8. Set the example by reading yourself. Surround your kid with printed material in the home - books, newspapers, magazines.

The first half of the book reviews the latest in research and success stories. The second half reviews a list of books you could read aloud to kids based on age group. Love, love this book.

December 8, 2009


The dudus have got me - am sick and taking it easy today. Just looking at these hearts at the DeCordova makes me feel better.

December 7, 2009

Recent Reads

1. The Secret Scripture
This was my book club selection for November, and I loved it. The writing is lyrical and the story fascinating with just a touch of mystery. When I realized the author is a playwright, it made sense - he sets a stage with every page. The story explores memory - what do we remember? What do we not? How do we change our past by changing our memories? A topic that has fascinated me this year. A wonderful read.

2. An Illustrated Life
Keep this book by my bed and dive in periodically. I find inspiration on every page.

3. Journal Spilling
A good book for if you are new to art journals, and a good refresher if you are not.


Brush pens are quite fun to play with. Not really a dog person, though dogs seem to think that I am. Maybe they are trying to convert me? The boys really want a dog, but their parents have said no. So, they have a great idea - they'll get a dog and leave it at my house! They are creative thinkers indeed.

December 6, 2009

Sun spot

We've had such wonderfully warm days lately. Decided to explore the DeCordova. The current main exhibit is quite wonderful. After spent some time strolling through the sculpture garden seeking sun spots to laze in for a while. Bliss.


You know how you always collect things while on your travels near or far from home? Well, what do you do with all that ephemera? Usually they get stacked into piles that get covered with other piles. Well, here is what I do with mine - I use them on journal pages. Love how the pages create a snapshot of time and place. Click on pic to enlarge. What do you do with what you collect?

December 3, 2009

Back to the Land

This was forwarded to me by my pal Shanna. I love Maira Kalman - her style is lovely. If you have not already done so, check out her books. To see her latest piece click here.

December 1, 2009

Reading with kids

Our reading program continues to be a huge success. Little Jonah made my day this past weekend while we had them over for a sleepover. He read a book on his own. Loved seeing the look on his face as he said with wonder, "I can read!". He rushed around telling everyone. He was so proud of himself. Priceless.

Jonah read (with some help):
1. I Like Bugs
2. I Like Stars

Luke has been reading The Magic Tree House books on his own:
1. Dinosaurs Before Dark
2. The Knight At Dawn

Auntie Saffina read:
1. The Gruffalo
2. The Gruffalo's Child

And together we read:
1. The Tooth Book
2. The Magic School Bus and the Missing Tooth
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Fun books all. Love the way the Magic School Bus series introduces science to kids. The boys can now tell you how many teeth an adult has (32). And they know that giraffes have the same number as humans. And can name a couple of animals that do not have teeth. Such fun.

Recovery mode

My sister has headed off to India. It was such fun hanging out with her these past couple of weeks. The weather was warm. The company good. The food delicious. Pic below is from the tree lighting in Boston. Am now in recovery mode - need to wean myself off lobster and pie! And deal with the shocking fact that it is already December. How the heck did that happen?

November 25, 2009

Recent Movies

1. The Wrestler
This is a really good movie - Mickey Rourke is fantastic. It is however a depressive movie - so do not watch it on a down day. It is too bad that Marisa Tomei does not seem to get real roles in movies. She is such a good actor.

2. My Sister's Keeper
Loved the book. Loved the movie. Keep a box of tissues handy.

3. The Reader
Did not finish the book - it simply did not hold my attention when I read it many moons ago. Loved the movie. Kate Winslet is fantastic - as usual.

November 24, 2009

Skin Color

Been thinking about skin color lately and all the fuss about how light or dark skinned a person is. What does it matter? Are we still really so not evolved as a species that this matters?

November 22, 2009

Visual Journal

Playing with art supplies.

November 21, 2009


It is that time of year again. I love the taste of chestnuts. And they look good too.


Hands seems to be recurring theme in my journals. They can nurture and they can hurt. They are so public and yet so intimate. I for one am not surprised that some of the earliest art in caves were images of hands.

November 19, 2009

Visual Journal

Had such fun creating this page. I love starting out on a page and not knowing how it will end up.

November 18, 2009

First Page Jitters

There is something rather daunting about the first page of a new journal, and to get past those jitters, I usually skip over the first page and simply dive in. Several days later I go back to and play on the first page. Interesting enough, I've never had this problem with a written journal - seems to be an art journal issue. I've heard people who get over the first page jitters by dating the page and writing down contact info for family and friends. This particular first page, was influenced by Teesha - been watching her latest journal videos - quite fun.
Do you have first page jitters? How do you get past them?

Images of women

While perusing a stack of magazines for images to play with, was struck again with how few images there are of women of color in the mainstream mags - actually found none of women of SA origin at all. And the images of women - they all look in dire need of a good meal. Who can relate to that?

November 17, 2009

Visual Journal

Ah, the fun of a new journal. Find that if I carry it with me, I can always find time to play.

November 16, 2009

New Journal

Here is the cover of my new journal.

Soul Collage

I had heard about several groups in my area focused on Soul Collage, so decided to attended a free introductory 2 hour session last weekend to see what it is all about. The object is to quickly find images and create a collage, and then reflect on what you create. Found it a fun process, though would not use rubber cement again - those fumes are rather noxious. Here are the 2 cards I created.

Random Musings

  • I'm loving the series Craft in America on PBS. I know that the industrial revolution was beneficial in so many ways, but I abhor the way almost everything is now made cheaply - not just in term of cost - in China. I miss the seeing the work of artisans in stores. I heartily endorse the hand made movement - it just feels so much more personal and intimate in this world of mass production and consumption. If you'd like to see the shows, click here.
  • I think there is something deliciously ironic about an atheist meeting held on Sunday mornings.
  • Am so excited - my sister is coming to town for a visit. Love spending time with her.
  • Been having fun playing with art supplies. It simply soothes my soul.

November 14, 2009

Recent Reads

1. Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
My second Fannie Flagg book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing is good, the characters fun, the setting travels back and forth over several decades. An example of a good read that is not painful and dark, and leaves you feeling better about the world than you did when you started the book.

2. The Lost Symbol
Ok, I was braced for this not being a great read, so was not disappointed. The story line is interesting, but Brown spends way too much time pontificating in my opinion, as opposed to telling the story. I did learn interesting things about the Masons, and this book does for DC what his other books did for Paris and Rome. Makes me want to visit DC again.

November 13, 2009

Recent Movies

Been watching some really good movies lately - for a change!

1. Gran Torino
Clint Eastwood movies have been such a part of my life, and I love the movies he directs. Watched his latest one last night and loved it. A deceptively simple movie about life, family, loss, relationships. Loved everything about it.

2. Doubt
Oh my gosh! Meryl Streep continues to blow me away. Loved this movie. The things we know. The things we think we know. The trade-offs we make - for just a little while. Amazingly well done.

3. Seven Pounds
You gotta like Will Smith. He continues to step out of the box. This is an interesting movie about regrets and atonement.

November 12, 2009

Reading with kids

I think reading is one of those fundamental things for a successful (however you define it) life. After getting back from Vegas and seeing how the girls are motivated to read by a system in school, I decided to implement a variation on the theme here at home. So found a magic treasure chest - given to me by pirates of course. The key to the locked chest magically appears at the right time - whenever one of the boys has reached 50 points. How do they earn points? 10 points are awarded if they read a grade level book and can tell me what the book is about, and answer 5 questions correctly. 2 points for a lower than grade book. 5 points if I read the book to them and they can answer my questions. And 1 point for each time they set the table. This plan was put in play when they came over for a sleepover on Tuesday, and wouldn't you know it, but the reluctant readers are cruising through books. Love that!

Luke read:
1. I Want to Be Somebody New!
2. If You Listen
3. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
4. The Lion and the Mouse

Jonah read (with lots of help):
1. There Was An old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly
2. Big Egg
3. The Lion and the Mouse

And together we read:
1. Sam and the Firefly
2. Room on the Broom

All these books were read and discussed in less than 24 hours! And that does not take into account sleeping, eating, playing outside, journal time, making a fire, etc. Amazing what a motivated kid can do!

November 10, 2009

Tennis Lessons

The twins have started tennis lessons - this was their 2nd lesson ever. The Williams sisters better watch out!