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?