Sunday, December 27, 2015

A New Year and the Word: Thoughtfulness

New Year's Eve is quickly approaching, which may mean different things to different folks.  Whether it is a time to plan a big party with friends, go out on the town, or set aside some quiet reflection time, we all celebrate it in some manner.  Or we already have, by celebrating the Winter Solstice (a time of renewal and return of light) or will celebrate it at Naw Ruz at the vernal equinox (the new year for Baha'is and Iranians, meaning "new day" in Persian).  My husband and I tend to celebrate with our ritual dvd marathon.

My point is not the exact date we celebrate a new year, it's that we all do, in some manner, at least.  We celebrate, and then seem to need a time for reflection, to review what worked for us this past year, and what we'd like to change in the new. It's a time to questions our habits, and challenge ourselves to become better - in small ways or large.

The last two years I chose the words of Balance and Authentic.  To be honest, I could probably stick with those two words and work on them for the rest of my life!  However, in the spirit of trying to move forward, I'm choosing my word for 2016:


What I'm hoping to learn this next year is thoughtful spending habits, thoughtful use of resources, thoughtful relationships, thoughtful prayer habits, thoughtful eating habits. To be honest, I'm really not sure how this all will look, but I'm simply hoping to live thoughtfully.  Obviously this isn't a new idea, but I'm eager to embrace it - or attempt to do so.

Wishing you a thoughtful New Year!!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Holidays

Celebrating "the holidays" can mean so very many things.

Surprisingly, I have no intention of boring you with research on what each of them means.  Instead, I simply offer the suggestion of embracing this time of year with an open heart, appreciating our differences, embracing our commonalities, and loving all of mankind.

We work and pray for the unity of mankind, that all the races of the earth may become one race, all the countries one country, and that all hearts may beat as one heart, working together for perfect unity and brotherhood.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 99)

We need to figure out, once and for all, that strife and divisions only weaken us.  Aren't we smart enough to learn how to set aside our pride and anger to save ourselves and our planet?

May the holiday that you celebrate bring an abundance of joy to your heart and and soul.
(From my friend, Pamm Horbit)

Vitruvian Park Holiday Lights Photograph

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My Tips for a Calmer & Saner Holiday Season

Instead of googling for a list of tips to share for keeping the holidays sane, I realized that I might just have my own list to share. So much for looking for the experts on this!

1. Lists, lists, lists
     There are never too many lists unless, of course, you forget where you put them.  Keep them in one place, and refer to them often.  A list for all the gifts you want to buy or make, complete with columns for recipient's name, materials purchased or item ordered, completed or bought, wrapped, and then mailed or delivered. (Sometimes we get everything done except for making sure it gets to that person!)  Lists for special meals or gifts items.  Lists for ingredients to make those foods.  Lists of what you want to take to each family gathering.  Lists of last minute items, shopping, coupons.  Mark things on your calendar....the one that you'll actually see and carry with you.

2.  Start early
     It's already well into December, but never too late to tackle your lists.  NOTHING feels as good as having things all ready and you can sit and relax.  Using your tools in #1 (lists), work on what you can, every day.

3.  Enjoy each moment
     The whole point of our holiday celebrations is to enjoy them.  But if we're constantly worrying about the next event, or something we forgot, or trying to think of what to give as a gift, we are not available and present to enjoy what we're doing in the moment.  If you are buying a Christmas tree, really  BE there, smell the fir, smile at your family, embrace the moment.  Take time for a cup of cocoa by the fire, look at the Christmas lights.  If you are shopping, enjoy the festive atmosphere.

4.  Don't be afraid to say "no"
     Every party sounds wonderful, all the food looks enticing, each event will be fun.  But you simply do not have to do everything.  Don't guilt yourself into accepting every invitation.  It's okay to say "no" and to have breathing space in your schedule.

5.  Perfection is not in the word Christmas
     There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas.  So give yourself a break and relax.  You do not have to be perfect.  Maybe even repeat that to yourself every day.  Once you can finally embrace this concept, your holiday preparations will be so much more emjoyable.

And that's it - not too long of a list, I realize.  But it's how I stay sane.  Well, as sane as possible for me, anyway!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Making Christmas Gifts

The bad part of this week was breaking my little toe. The really good part was the enforced down time to ice it and keep it elevated. So time is being well spent working in Christmas presents, such as these zentangled coasters!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged))

We had the delight to go see our local talent (mainly the younger set) perform The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)) which cleverly and comically presents all the works of Shakespeare in a much abbreviated form.

They did a spectacular job and we laughed almost non-stop for 1 1/2 hours.  What a wonderful event, gathering our island community together for theatre and true entertainment.  I love this island!

I've learned that this play is performed in various fashion all over, so if you have an opportunity to see it, please do!  There is also a dvd available.  Truly a must see.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Colored Pencil Drawing Class

Had the opportunity to finally take the colored pencil drawing class from Nils Osmar that I've been trying to take for 3 years but schedules just haven't worked.  A drawing artist I'm not, but I love trying!

Proudly drew:

Trying our hand at drawing on black paper was also exciting.  But sadly, my creations are not worthy to be posted......

Sunday, November 8, 2015

North to Alaska

Traveling to Alaska for my annual jaunt to the far north, I'm struck, as always, of the sheer beauty. I totally understand why people want to live here. There's a sense of awe mixed with a desire to test one's mettle against (or with?) the elements. Mother Nature is profoundly present here. 
The snow is just starting, I'm weaving baskets (and trying out some new materials and techniques) by the warm fire, soup is simmering on the stove, and my friend of 20 years and I are quietly chatting, laughing, and reminiscing. Lovely.

Monday, November 2, 2015

AHomemade Halloween

My son, significant other and family put on the Halloween party to end all parties this last weekend, complete with fog machine, cobwebs absolutely everywhere, colored lights, dry ice in the punch, motion detectors on scary noises and lights for the trick or treaters, and the list goes on.

New to me were some clever food creations.  It was a great family time, with all of us helping out to make the concoctions:  (some photos not ours, but certainly the same idea)

    Deviled eggs with olive spiders

Pumpkin puking guacamole                 

  Cut out sugar cookies

   Skull and crossbones cupcake cake

Witches brew punch with dry ice       

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Knitted Knockers

Barb Demorest came to speak to our textile guild meeting yesterday about Knitted Knockers and her amazing journey in promoting this non-profit venture.  Their website is, for patterns and more information.  Yes, I've already downloaded the crocheter's version and will be starting to make a set soon.


Knitted Knockers are special handmade breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures to the breast. Traditional breast prosthetics are usually expensive, heavy, sweaty and uncomfortable. They typically require special bras or camisoles with pockets and can’t be worn for weeks after surgery. Knitted Knockers on the other hand are soft, comfortable, beautiful and when placed in a regular bra they take the shape and feel of a real breast. Our special volunteer knitters provide these free to those requesting them. Knitted knockers can be adjusted to fill the gap for breasts that are uneven and easily adapted for those going through reconstruction by simply removing some of the stuffing.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Kumihimo on a Marudai

Having learned kumihimo only on foam disks, it's time to graduate to a marudai.  Just in case that was all gibberish, let me explain.

Kumihimo:  Kumihimo is a Japanese form of braid-making. Cords and ribbons are made by interlacing strands. Kumi himo is Japanese for "gathered threads".  From Wikipedia

Foam disks:

Marudai:  marudai (丸台 marudai?) is a frame used for making kumihimo, a type of Japanese braid. The Japanese style marudai is 16" (40cm) high and is usually used while kneeling or when placed on a table. The Western style 26" marudai allows the braider to sit in a chair to braid. They are most commonly made out of wood, although sometimes plastic is the chosen material. Unlike kumihimo disks, marudais have no indication of where the thread should be placed; it is done freehand. To create the tension required for the rope to form, wooden bobbins called tama are rolled on the strands of threads, and a bag of counterweights is placed at the base knot of these threads, where the rope begins. The tama are often filled with lead or other heavy metals.  From Wikipedia

And I also want to start adding beads to my work.

I want to attend Braids 2016 - the Third International Braids and Narrow Weaves Conference, to be held in Tacoma, Washington next July.  Most of the classes that I want to attend use a marudai....hence my steep learning curve!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Writing by Hand

Having taken a hiatus from writing my morning pages, I'm back at it this week and am delighted to report that even in a few days, I can already see the difference in connections, creativity and feeling centered.  It's magical stuff.  Also, as shown in the article below by Chris Gayomali, it helps keep the grey matter active as we age.  Using my favorite fountain pen certainly doesn't hurt either.

If you've never tried writing morning pages, in longhand, please try it.  It's pretty amazing.  And don't even get me started on the fact that they no longer teach cursive in the schools!!  What a loss.  Perhaps they will bring it back as an "art" class??

Morning Pages

The bedrock tool of a creative recovery is a daily practice called Morning

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing,
done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–
they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about
anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes
only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put
three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
4 Benefits of Writing by Hand

filed under: writing

By Chris Gayomali

One of the most effective ways to study and retain new information is to rewrite your notes by hand. That's because putting ink to paper stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System, or the RAS. According to Lifehacker, "The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you're actively focusing on that moment — something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront." One study from 2010 found that the brain areas associated with learning "lit up" much more when kids were asked to write words like "spaceship" by hand versus just studying the word closely. 


Many famous authors opt for the meticulousness of writing by hand over the utility of a typewriter or computer. In a 1995 interview with the Paris Review, writer Susan Sontag said that she penned her first drafts the analog way before typing them up for editing later. "I write with a felt-tip pen, or sometimes a pencil, on yellow or white legal pads, that fetish of American writers," she said. "I like the slowness of writing by hand." Novelist Truman Capote insisted on a similar process, although his involved lying down with a coffee and cigarette nearby. "No, I don't use a typewriter," he said in an interview. "Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand." A 2009 study from the University of Washington seems to support Sontag, Capote, and many other writers' preference for writing by hand: Elementary school students who wrote essays with a pen not only wrote more than their keyboard-tapping peers, but they also wrote faster and in more complete sentences.  


The computer in front of you is a time-sucking portal to puppy videos and ex-boyfriend/girlfriend stalking. That's why self-imposed lockout programs like Facebook Limiterand Minutes Please exist in the first place. Of course, the internet isn't all bad. In 2012, neuroscientists even suggested that taking five-minute breaks to browse Tumblr or BuzzFeedcould make you a more productive worker. On the other hand, when you're all GIF'd-out and it's time to work on that dissertation, there's something to be said for the elegant simplicity of having only a pen and paper in front of you... especially since that paper probably isn't plugged into the distraction-laden internet. Try writing with laser-like focus for short 20-minute stretches at a time.


Writing longhand is a workout. No, not necessarily for your wrist, but for your brain. According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that the act of writing — which engages your motor-skills, memory, and more — is good cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they age. And if you're looking to pick up a new skill, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that adults had an easier time recognizing new characters — like Chinese, math symbols, or music notes — that were written by hand over characters generated by a computer.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Back to Simplicity

Having been reminded just recently, albeit gently, that I haven't posted much on simplifying of late, the truth is that at times it seems a bit overwhelming.  Life certainly has a way of getting complicated, complex, and "things" multiply quickly.  So what wonderful timing to receive the following post from Courtney at!

Choose One Thing to Simplify Your Life (just one)

There is an endless list of things to do to live more simply, be happier, and improve our lives. There is always more we could be doing. Just thinking about all of the things we can do is overwhelming.
I used to go for the do it all or die trying approach, but I usually ended up burning out and not doing anything very well. Once I started to focus on one thing at a time, I had more energy, attention, and commitment to see things through and discover the benefits.
Try one or more of these 22 ways to simplify your life, but only choose one at a time.
22 Things to Simplify Your Life
Project 333. A new season of minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 begins on October 1st. A simple closet is the gateway to a simple life. Once you experience the benefits of simplicity in your wardrobe, you’ll want it everywhere.
Check out the 90 day challenge rules here and check out fun images of capsule wardrobes and Project 333 outfits on Instagram.
Stop shopping for a while. You can’t shop your way out of the pain of the past, or shop your way into a secure future. Instead come back to right now. Do you have everything you need for today?
Hide your stuff. If you have trouble letting go of something, hide it for 30 days first. If you don’t miss it, let it go.
Embrace journaling. I write down at least three pages of thoughts and words a day. It helps me let go of the busyness in my mind. My good friend and author, Tammy Strobel is giving away a seat in her journaling class that starts in October. Go get it.
Change your routine. Experiment with a new routine. If you usually go into the office at 8am, try going in at 8:30 and take a walk before you get started. If you wake up and rush out the door, try waking up earlier to create a morning slow down. If you stay up late watching TV or engaging on social platforms, trade your screen time for a good book and a cup of tea.
Inbox zen. If opening your inbox is more horrifying than opening your closet, take back your email with this 5-step guide to inbox zen.
Nap. Lay down, close your eyes, and rest for 30 minutes.
Create space for happiness. If you’ve been holding on to things that make you sad, like jeans that don’t fit, a gift from an x, or artifacts from a past life that don’t lift your heart, let them go. If they offer nothing but sadness, when you let go, you’ll make room for light and joy.
Trade regret for joy. Use momentum from #8 to live a life with no regrets.
Start an emergency fund. If you are in debt, financial author Dave Ramsey suggests building an emergency fund of $1000. Once your debt is paid off, aim for a fund of 3-6 months of living expenses.
The emergency fund provides peace of mind knowing you won’t have to turn your life upside down when your car breaks down, you lose your job, or experience another financial set back.
Call a timeout. When I call daily timeouts to go for a walk, make a special lunch, or engage in a creative non-work activity, I produce better work, and feel healthier and more energized. Think about where you need timeouts in your life. Timeouts prevent burn out.
Declutter. Simplicity is not all about decluttering, but getting rid of what doesn’t matter, helps you to discover what does. Start with these 10 tiny tasks to declutter your home.
Make something. Sometimes the best thing you can do to simplify your day is to make something. Write a poem, start a book, get out the finger paints and a big piece of paper, and express yourself. Make. Create. Enjoy the process with no expectations.
Go paperless. Shuffling stacks of paper is so 2005. Even when I stored paper in a filing cabinet, I never went back to it. Scan the stuff you need and let go of the rest. Try a service like Shoeboxed to organize your receipts.
Clean out your car. Bring two small bags to your car. Fill one with trash and the other with anything that doesn’t belong in the car.
Give. Life gets complicated when we can’t stop thinking about ourselves; our needs, our struggles, our pain. If you are caught up in that, the quickest way to shift out is to give. Think about someone else. Ease their pain.
Nothing. Maybe the one thing you need to do first is nothing. If seeking is overshadowing your seeing, choose nothing today. Sometimes your soul needs time to just hang out with your heart, and your truth.
Want less. Shift your attention from what you want to what you have. Use gratitude and presence to appreciate what is right in front of you.Owning less is great, but wanting less is better.
Go green. Unless I’m traveling, I try to drink a green smoothie every morning. My recipe includes some combination of kale, spinach, avocado, fennel, banana, chia seeds, berries and protein powder. For more inspiration and recipes with exact measurements, try the 30 day simple green smoothie challenge. Greens are essential for good health, and good health makes everything simpler.
Get outside. Go for a walk, lay down in the park, or take a hike. I had a chance to walk through the falling Aspen leaves pictured above with my husband this weekend. Getting outside and connecting with nature helps to simplify and renew.
Change your social environment. Start with your social networks. Who do you follow on Facebook, Instagram and other social streams. Do they share things that lift you up or things that make you feel bad about yourself? Do they share things that make you feel more connected to them or less? Unfriend, unfollow, and curate a social stream of love and support.
In your day-to-day life, surround yourself by people who lift you up, and lift them right back.
Create a simple year. Make simplicity the focus of an entire year. 2016 marks year #3 for the year-long simplicity program, A Simple Year. Each year, we have new topics and contributors so you can dedicate each month to just one area of simplicity.
Next year, the topics will include clutter, busyness, travel, kitchen, digital, work, money, mindfulness, self-care, food, relationships, and gratitude. Sign up here to be notified when early bird registration opens in a few weeks.
Some of these things may need a month of focus or more, and others just a few minutes. Choose the one thing that will best serve you.
Just developing the habit of only choosing one thing at a time will simplify your life. Leo’s rules for single tasking will help too. Use the momentum from completing your one thing to fuel the next. Create a ripple effect of simplicity that turns into waves of space, time, ease, joy, and love.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Eco Dyeing and Printing

Being such a novice at surface design, my time with my fiber arts group is always enlightening.  Part of our discussion was about ecodyeing, or printing, or whatever one might call it.

In my definition (so far!) ‘eco dyes’ refer to the colours the plant can be induced to surrender, and ‘eco prints’ to the forms these dyes take on the substrate.

There is this whole new, fascinating world out there in using plants and their colors to treat fiber materials!  One book I may need to find:


So what does this all look like?  How could I NOT try this??