Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa's Elves

They are everywhere this time of year and I am honored to be chosen to be one of them. There's a little guy in our family who really, really would like a real live dolphin for Christmas. With Santa busy in his workshop, I was asked to write a letter for this special request.

Dear Carter,

Ho Ho Ho! It makes me and Mrs. Claus so happy knowing you have been a good boy this year. You’ve done a very good job helping to take care of your dog, Tonka. He is lucky to have you.                                                                                                                        
I’ve made a list and checked it twice - it says you would like a dolphin for Christmas. Dolphins are playful, funny and smart. I can see why you would ask for one. Dolphins need saltwater to live and sadly your lake is not saltwater. I talked to a dolphin friend of mine and he has agreed to be your forever special dolphin. His name is Coconut and I’ve told him all about you. He wanted you to have a picture of him. Talk to him often. He’ll be listening for you. Caring for Coconut while he lives in the ocean is an important job and I know you will do well. Thank you for loving the dolphins Carter.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Finding Peace

Each holiday season I tend to pick a theme, sometimes without even realizing it. For a few years it was 'hope'. Last year it was 'joy'. This year without a doubt it's 'peace'. World peace would be nice, but I'm starting with inner peace. Really, is there any better place to start? 

Recent stress is taking its toll on my inner peace and state-of-mind. It's a funny thing, stress. It has a tendency to creep in slowly, gaining ground and if you don't keep your eye on it, it hits hard. With all the changes going on around me its time to take it slow. For me, this means, stepping away from the iPhone, Facebook, and all those other techie ways I tend to 'unwind' in the evening and in quieter moments and finding more peaceful ways to spend my time. 

Tonight, I came home to a card from a dear friend. Upon opening I had to giggle, because the exact same card came in the mail Saturday from another dear friend. To me, its a wink from above and a special message that needs to be listened to. There was a small recipe card on the inside of the card that reads: 

Healing With Love and Time

2 pounds of passage of time 
1 cup of acceptance 
3 drops of sweet memories 
4 tbs. full of hope and faith 
2 cups of patience 
Tears as needed 

Calm, prayers and smiles

A note from the chef: move gently through the days. Be good to yourself. 

Along with mixing these ingredients I'll be spending my evenings lighting candles, eating warm comforting meals, soaking in the tub, cuddling with Jax-the-Dog, and creating an all around quiet place to bring peace back into my life just in time for the holidays and New Year. 

Monday, November 28, 2011


Between the holidays and the passing of my grandfather, I'm flooded with nostalgic memories. Ironically enough, there was a time quite recently that I was worried about forgetting precious moments in general with each passing year. Although this inevitably happens, I'm struck by how quickly time comes rushing back to comfort me during this time of loss (and yes, there are times when its more of a haunting feeling than comfort, but I'll take it). 

His adventurous younger man years evolved into the devoted man I will miss. One of the things that stands out in my mind is how dearly he loved one of the sweetest people I know, my grandmother. Their love deepened through the years and I would guess there was a time when they fell in love all over again. 

He was always there to guide the way for her and lovingly protect her. It was touching to watch them hold hands; dance together when no one else was; telling her how pretty she is and open every door. He was devoted and loving to the very end. 

I dare to ask, is there any other way to be? 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Time to Give Thanks

The past couple of days, I've set aside some time to quietly reflect on all that it is I'm thankful for. When I really stop to think about it, the list is filled with people and ideas, not things. 

As I gobble, gobble later today, here is what I'm giving thanks for: 

- The health of my husband and family. The storm has cleared on this front and I'm thankful. 
- Jax-the-Dog. This little guy brings me loads of laughter and joy each day of the year. He too has had a rough health year and through it all he has been such a trooper; teaching me how to carry on in the face of tough times. I hope I bring him as much joy as he brings me. 
- My creative, hands-on genes. Thank you Dad. 
- The safe nest I've created with my love. 
- My blog. My readers. You keep me going more than you know. 

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fabric and Texture

As I work towards my goal of creating six new pieces of art for my submission, I'm more and more focused on two things. One, adding as much texture to my backgrounds as I can. And second, working fabric into each of my pieces. There's just something about the combination of paper and fabric that I am loving. 

These four pieces each measure 3''x3'' and to be honest, I was a bit nervous working with canvases of this small size. Thus one of the reasons I chose to work with four of them combined to create one piece. For the background, I used pattern paper and added stamps, colors and doodles from there. My favorite part is the felt button hat found in an old jar full of buttons and notions. 

Digging through old stuff around the house in search of that perfect element instead of constantly running out to the craft store has become part of my process. I was telling my husband that I felt like I had run out of fun stuff to use for textures...I know, seems absurd, right?!

He told me to grab a box and join him on his turf, the basement. 

Seriously, the goodies we found down there could be wrapped right up and given to me for the holidays. I think I'm good on the texture front for a while. Wire, brushes, sponges, bubble wrap and more were in abundance down there, and FREE. It's time to go play with my new toys. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stark Beauty

Buttermilk Falls Inn and Spa was like walking into a utopia. The property has an abundance of quiet paths showcasing sweet nooks and crannies throughout the 75-acre property. From ponds to waterfalls to grapevines, organic gardens and great architectural structures there was beauty to be found at every turn. And although most of the landscape had lost its color, the stark beauty of it was striking. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


Big fat snowflakes are falling here, gracing us with the start of a new season, which seems appropriate given it’s my husband’s birthday. We celebrated last night with family and cake, of course. And later today we’re heading to Henry’s at Buttermilk Inn and Spa for a wholesome farm to table dinner.

In the spirit of his birthday, I pulled one of my favorite go-to books off the shelf, The Art of Growing Up, Simple Ways to Be Yourself at Last. The Art of Growing Up offers an elegant, yet wise way of looking at the lifelong process of growing up and getting older. I leave you with this to ponder.

“How old would you be if you didn’t know your age?” – Veronique Vienne

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Angel

Have I mentioned last week was a long one? Time in my studio on Saturday proved to be a healthy de-stressor. I wiled away a good part of the day cleaning up old messes, gathering materials, starting and almost completing this latest mixed media piece.

It’s a process I love. One I get lost in. This stream of consciousness creating where there is little thinking to do means thinking slowly slips away and takes the form of feeling. Trusting these feelings and letting them guide the way is my own little mystical connection. 

Each time is a self-taught lesson on not only letting it flow, but more importantly reflecting on what’s happening on a deeper level. In hindsight, it comes as no surprise that I was in need of a pair of angel wings to pick me up and carry me to a better place. She has a subtle presence, but  is always there to guide the way. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday's Quote...

...a day late. It's been a LONG week. One I hope to put behind me. It's been filled with too much mental yuck. And yet when I log on here, I'm filled with so much hope. Hope for all the good that's to come. 

"It takes practice to hold onto hope when things look dark. But for such a small word, "hope" has a huge power to carry us to a better place." - Author Unknown 

On this chilly day I'm planning on spending most of the day in my studio working on my next mixed media piece. If I make enough progress today, I'll post a picture of it later in the week. 

Happy Weekend 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall. By the Sea.

A much needed girls trip to Boston was in order this past weekend to see two dear friends, Michele and Tasha. As always, Michele and I had one of those talks that puts the mind at ease. When we talk, we talk. Our parallel paths continue, as they have for a long time, and there is a deep comfort in that. 

The sea beckoned me to Rockport, and that's exactly where Tash and I headed on Saturday. Autumn by the sea is pretty as a picture. 

The air was quite crisp and the last hints of fall could be found, but the things I adore about summer could still be found too. Flowers, vibrant colors, cloudless blue skies and the wafting smell of the ocean instantly connected me with that summer feeling.

Rockport is a quintessential New England town that doesn't take long to charm you, calm you and make you feel like you belong right where you are. The charm comes from more than just the architecture; the boutique owners are as charming as they come. 

Captain Steve of Capt. Steve's Sea Shell Shop offered a warm welcome into his sweet store filled with shells and the stories they carry with them.

8 Bells, shop owner Robin, greeted us as if we were long lost friends and let us make a loud fuss over her wares and her "to die for" storefront mermaid. [It's not for sale, we asked].

Oh, and the Paper Mermaid, well how can you not like a store with a name like that?!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday's Quote

A couple of years ago I took a three day workshop centered around empowerment. After a couple 'bonding days' in the class, the leaders had participants break up into groups of five. From there one person in the group sat quietly, while the others took turns verbally giving positive characteristic traits that they saw in you. 

What a moving experience to be held in a space where you're reminded of how wonderful you really are and the gifts you have that simply shine through. Most people cry, which is natural, but the real tear jerker comes when your group is asked to come up with an underlying trait they would like to see you bring to the forefront and use to empower your goals. Mine happened to be, "a leap of faith" and it resonated more than they will ever know. After the class I found this quote, and its still hanging on my inspiration board two years later. 

"Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith." - Margaret Shepherd

As you gather with friends and family this weekend, or during the coming weeks for the holidays (can you believe they are practically here?!), what a great activity to empower your loved ones and you as you begin thinking about entering into the New Year. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fly Through Every Open Door

Over the past couple of months, I've begun to realize that new doors are opening. Heck, for all I know, they probably have been open for a while, but I'm just now opening my eyes wide enough to notice. And what a thing it is to realize.

I'll admit, its a bit scary and intimidating, but I'm ready to push myself to try a little harder and set some concrete goals. What better place, than right here, to shout it out? To throw out a dream, a new intention into the world and see what transpires.

My latest mixed media piece is the first in what I'm calling my new collection (yet to be named). There is an art show that I'd like to enter, but I need six pieces. Although I have six pieces, I'd much prefer to have them look like a coherent set. My thinking is that by doing this, it will help increase my chances of getting in. It's my strategy and I'm sticking to it!

Wish me luck and thanks for being here to hold me accountable. It's time to get creating.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Magic is in the Air

Last Friday I left you with a quote for the weekend. I'm thinking I'll make it a weekly tradition here on Lavender Nest. 

"The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper." -  Eden Phillpotts 

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Spaces

Since Squam, I have been spending more and more time in my studio, clumsily moving around trying to find my rhythm. I say clumsily, since the space functions as a computer and writing space for both me and hubby. This means there are multiple computers, printers, equipment and lots of piles of papers. My pretty papers in one corner along with supplies and his pile-o-work papers in the other. Some days our system works better than others. There are many evenings that all three of us, dog included with toys, are all crammed into the studio trying to work. It makes me laugh to think about it.  

My sweet guy mentioned the other day he is ready to truly give me my own space to work. I thought this meant he was moving down to the basement, but no, he is ready to re-do the attic and let me have it all to myself. I think he is tired of me touching those boring papers of his [wink, wink]. After my total disbelief passed, I began digging through old magazine tears and saved Internet pictures to plan out my new space. Roughly, without all the pink, this is my dream. 

The next couple of months will be filled with construction and picking out fixtures. But, all the while, I will be daydreaming of what this new space will mean for me on a much larger scale. The last time I had a playroom all to myself, I was three, right before my little brother was born. The thought of endless hours creating in a quiet space, that’s tucked away close to the clouds and among the tops of the trees, thrills me. In my little cocoon, who knows what I will emerge as. The possibilities are endless.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Face of Fall

The leaves are beckoning me to come out and play today and if the weather holds out, Arte and I may do some outdoor, Halloween decorating. 

I leave you with this simple quote for the weekend: 

No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face. 

- John Donne 

Happy Fall Weekend! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Walk in the Orchard

I couldn't bring myself to do much of anything remotely productive today, but when the sun came out this afternoon and the sun warmed the air, I knew I had to take advantage of it. My rationale: our warm days in these parts are numbered. So with hot apple cider in hand, I walked around our local orchard to capture the season in all its glory. And I'm so glad I did.

I fell in love with this tractor. I kind of, sort of, want one for the yard. How fun would it be to decorate each season?!  

There are a bunch of sweet buildings around the property that just beg for their picture to be taken. 

And lastly, this gentle boy in all his pure beauty. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Edible Creations

The fall bounty is here; there is no doubt about it, and it was ever so present at the FSC Albany Food Swap on Sunday night in the collective mix of the edible creations. Pumpkin and apple goodies were in great abundance. This was my second swap and I am loving it. I’ve started to become a bit of an apostle for swapping - telling just about everyone who likes food all about it. 

For those who are new to the whole concept, the best definition I can come up with is: It’s a farmer’s market, meets silent auction meets a place to gather with new and old foodie friends where your homemade edible creations become your means for swapping with other swappers. The first hour is a little mixer with snacks and beverages and then it’s onto sampling each other’s items, bidding on which items you covet and then on to the actual swapping. 

I brought homemade lactose-free Pumpkin Ice Cream and Hot Buttered Rum Mix (a fall favorite of mine) and left with honeyed canned apples with cranberries, onion jam spread, a caramel apple and pumpkin syrup for lattes. And once again, I have no pictures of my loot since I raced home to sample and put it all away, like a busy little chipmunk getting ready for the winter. 

Interested in joining the swap revolution taking place across the country? Here are a few tips and things to think about as you prepare:
  • Your creation should be homemade or home grown/produced.
  •  Let’s say there are 20 people attending your swap. When thinking about the quantity of items to bring, I would highly recommend not making 20 items. Bring a handful or so since not all fellow swappers are necessarily going to want to swap with you. Ouch! I know, I know. It’s sad, but true. Here’s why. Between allergies, palette preferences and what people already have at home, all 20 bidders won’t all be interested in your creation.
  • Swaps are truly a friendly experience, but they can be competitive too. It’s quite funny how quiet the room gets when we’re all preparing to strategize on what we want bid on. For this reason, the more your creation stands out, the better. Be different. If it’s apple season, you can guarantee that there are going to be quite a few apple creations in the room. Unless you have a home run kind of item, then it’s probably best to choose to make something different and save that idea for another time. 
  • And lastly, remember packaging and presentation are key! Pretty it up, put together an ingredients list and your contact information (in case someone has a question after the fact). 
Happy Swapping! Happy Eating! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Being Gentle

Why is it as women we put so much pressure on ourselves? For me, it tends to happen without even realizing it. As I try to regain energy and momentum, I’m noticing I’m more aware of this self-imposed pressure. I’ve made a conscious decision to be gentle on myself. This means things like, when I need a nap, I take a nap. If I feel like not working in my studio, then I don’t. The mood will certainly strike when I’m good and ready. No more forcing what I’m not quite ready for.

This gentleness has helped with balancing, which in turn has lead to more energy and creativity. I’ve been spending more and more time in my studio. Sometimes it’s just to read or organize a little. But it has also lead to more time creating. Lately I’ve been focusing on things of pure interest and enjoyment. Dresses. Fashion. Paper. Cards.

 One of my prototype cards was the perfect lesson on being gentle. In the end, there’s a little too much glue, the string too thick and the glitter a little too blah. BUT, after all, it’s just a prototype with lots of time to perfect it. And because of that, I’m truly able to like it for what it is. I hurried out of the studio last night to show my husband, who lovingly said, “Wow, nice cat!” In the spirit of being gentle, all I could do was laugh and tell him it was a dress.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finding the Balance

Life has been completely out of balance for the last two weeks. I won’t sugarcoat it. The days were long and I crawled into bed with exhaustion that I felt to my core. With multiple people in my family ‘down and out’ with various medical concerns (they are all okay in the grand scheme of things) I’ve done whatever I could to help make everyone’s days a bit easier.

At the end of last week, things started to settle down and my days started to return to a slower, more manageable pace. Life is returning to how I left it pre-Squam. [Yep, life currently is thought of now as pre and post-Squam.]

 After a couple of days of rest, I woke to warm, glorious fall days. 

I’m letting the sun and fresh air nourish my body and letting Mother Nature nourish my spirit.

 Balance will once again be found. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Squam Withdrawal

Yep. It’s hit. It was bound to happen though. When something that special makes such an impression on you, how could you not go through a wee bit of withdrawal?! And yet the Squam Art Workshops experience evokes such a deep feeling that it’s actually difficult to articulate. I may never truly be able to do that, but what I do know is that I have more little mental treasures to reminisce over than I did before. And that’s certainly something to celebrate. So here’s my last ditch effort to highlight the joys of Squam:  

*Real laughter. Silly laughter. Full on laughter from the belly. 

*New friends [smile]. My ladies of Bell Tower. 

*Cookie sandwiches for lunch

 *You just never know who you are sitting next to in class. Women from literally around the world. Women who create. Raise families. Sing in operas. The list goes on.

*Eyes wide open.

*Sitting on the dock of the bay…teacher prescribed. Thank you Jen.

*Feeling the world once again. Feeling and seeing what is truly in front of you in all its glory.

*The gift of sharing. Christine’s time, words of encouragement, wisdom and willingness to teach her craft is a gift that lasts. 

*Sleeping in a charming cottage nestled in the woods. Room sized screened in porches.

*More smiling faces than one can remember seeing.

*Sharing stories by the fire.  

*Bonding over burlap in the Sugar House with Maya. Her careful and caring ways of teaching and being were touching.


*Giving myself wings to fly back out into the world.

To think, I headed to Squam doubting and wondering why I was going, if I would make friends and I left knowing exactly why the universe put me there. Squam is such a sacred gathering place for modern day women striving to make a homemade life of some sort; trying to re-center and give back to themselves as much as they give to others in their everyday life.

Squam fulfills the soul and sustains a creative life. My dearest thanks to Elizabeth.  

*Until I meet the magic of Squam again, may this happiness thrive.