Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Rainbow of 2011

I'm ready. I know many of you are, too.

Good-bye 2011.

I sat this morning and made up my little photo collage of the past year. I like to do this at the end of the year, sort of like putting a nice little bow on the year that was, and tuck it away for a while to let those memories simmer for a bit.

In my mind, I'm welcoming the New Year with open arms . . . ready for it to take me in whichever direction it chooses.

But I have to admit, as I look back at the photos of 2011 . . . I had one incredible year. Really. Absolutely incredible.

Colorful, wasn't it? I like that. Color. It surrounded us this year. What a blessing.

From banana suits, to meeting my dear blog friend Kiki,  it was a year of smiles. From quiet moments in my car, to vacations to New Orleans and Disney World, it was a year of adventures. From celebrating a Royal Wedding, to watching the birth of three baby birds, it was a year of watching as life unfolds around us. From duck tape purses, to starting my own art business, it was a year of creating.  

My Life. My Loves. My Art.
That is what it is all about, for me.

Through it all, it was a year of love.
And it was an honor to share it all with you.

Wishing you much Peace, Love and Courage in the New Year, my friend.

Welcome 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Return of Me

I'm finding myself again. Little by little, small pieces of me are coming back. Finally.

I've been gone for a while. A few weeks, at least. Burned out. Unplugged. Drained. Every ounce of energy that once was mine had left me. I felt it. In my very soul. But, this very day . . . I feel it coming back. I threw myself into my business and my art the past few months . . . and took little time, if any, to slow down and breathe. It caught up with me. Periods of total exhaustion and emotional emptiness took over. And I shut down. This past week, I found our couch . . . and that, along with some wonderful movies (It's a Wonderful Life, The Bishops Wife, Sherlock Holmes, Gypsy, and Little Women) have pulled me away from all of the worry and the over analyzing.

God Bless my PG, he has been picking up in my mental and physical absence; doing laundry, washing dishes, parenting, everything. I'm not totally sure he understands what has been going on in my mind, but I sure am grateful he has been here. I am blessed. I know it.

Today, I'm feeling that little spark. I feel hope. I feel courage. Funny . . . it's not even 2012 yet (I didn't quite expect the "COURAGE" yet. I'm glad it's here, though.)

We went for Chinese food on Christmas Eve. It was the first time (ever) that we didn't gather at a family members house, as we decided to play it really low key this year. By Christmas Eve, I had already decided to keep forging ahead on my quest to live a creative life. And while the guilt of not working and bringing a steady income into our lives had me worried, I could not have been more thrilled when dinner was over and I opened my fortune cookie. You see, sometimes a simple little fortune cookie can let you know that you are on the right path . . .
The universe is on my side, don't you think?

So, today I find myself sitting at the kitchen table . . . with a stack of inspiration . . . filling my soul . . . feeling better. Feeling more focused than I have in weeks. Feeling like my creative mojo is slowly returning.

These books do it for me. And those three photos of me were taken during my time at The Creative Connection Event last September . . . when I started my journey. I am happy in them. 100% happy. I want to remember that feeling, and love to look at those photos.

I also pulled out the "brave girl" journal that I made during that event.

Did I ever tell you about this book? I took a class with Brave Girl Melody Ross herself, and put together this magnificent soul journal. I had almost forgotten about it, and probably haven't picked it up in months. But today . . . I opened it up and found myself returning to those very feelings I had . . . the courage . . . it's all right there.

This book will be by my side in 2012 . . . it tells me everything my soul needs to hear.

I love this feeling I have today. The renewed spirit. The energy that is slowly returning. It's a good way to start the New Year, don't you think?

How about you? How are you feeling? Leave me a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

Wishing you Peace and Courage, my friend.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Word of the Year: 2012 Edition

We're getting close, my friends. Time to look ahead to the New Year with one word. Yes, I'm talking about that Word of the Year! I'm thinking about it again. Wondering what my focus is going to be for 2012. The idea originates from Scrapbook extraordinaire Ali Edwards, who reminds us that, "One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities."

In 2008, I wanted Peace. I looked hard for it. I took deep breaths often throughout my days, and I found it. I meditated. I prayed. I tried to live with Peace in my heart, and put peaceful energy into relationships that needed it. It was a wonderful word for that year.

In 2009, I sought Balance. I needed it, bad. With a husband whose job required him to travel more and more, I felt like I was drowning between home and my own work, between being a Mom and being Me. I needed it to stop. I needed to focus. I needed balance. I said “no” to more things, and I said “yes” to things that brought something good to my life. It was a wonderful word for that year.

In 2010, I yearned to Create. The inner artist in me was starving for attention, and it was time I returned to my roots. I photographed, cooked, painted, scrapbooked, baked . . . I even gardened (which is the true sense of ‘creating’, don’t you think?) It was a wonderful word for that year.

In 2011, I chose to Believe. I wanted to believe in the things that were important. Believe in the dreams. Believe in today. Believe in tomorrow. Believe in You. Believe in Me. Who would have known that 2011 was going to present itself with so MANY opportunities for me to BELIEVE. Losing my job, starting my creative art business . . . so much I needed to BELIEVE in. Yes, I do believe that word picked me long before I picked it.

And here we are, days away from 2012. An opportunity to start anew.

I'm a little nervous for the New Year. Excited, but nervous. I've been given some opportunities, but I've decided to keep moving forward in my current direction. I'm not giving up. I believe in my art; in my character, in all that I have inside of me. But I need something to help me get through this time. With that, I share my word of 2012 with you.

1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger,
pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
2. Obsolete . the heart as the source of emotion.

I love it.


It's me.

It's exactly what I need right now.

It's exactly what I am feeling.

It is going to stay with me all year long . . . .

and I can't wait to see where it takes me.

What is your word?  Have you thought of it yet? Do think of it. I promise . . . it will be with you all year long, during your hardest days. Leave me a message with your word for 2012, or write a blog post and share a link with us. I'd love to know what you are focused on.

Much Peace, friends . . . and courage.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Happiness Telegram

On Sunday, I shared my "I will . . . List" with you. The very "I will . . . List" that would soon become the outline of the next 12 months of my life, and probably many months thereafter.

I will . . .

Right now, I'm feeling like I'm moving in slow motion.

An opportunity has surfaced since that very post, that would change my "I will . . . List"

And I feel like I'm moving in slow motion right now until some sort of sign from the Big Guy upstairs comes my way, telling me what I should do. It would be so great if life happened that way, wouldn't it? If a simple telegram would arrive from Mr. G (that would be God, of course) telling me:

   I understand you need guidance STOP My office is instructed to wire you all the guidance you need this very minute STOP Hee-haw and Merry Christmas STOP Mister G

Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful to receive a telegram like that?


But, alas, that only happens in the movies.

A possible employment opportunity is the in the air right now. Back in healthcare. The "where?" and "what?" doesn't even matter. What matters, is that I might have to put my art on hold. I would hope not for long. But for a while, until I get a handle on everything.

This has me confused.

Am I running?

Or am I being responsible to my family and our future?

Am I giving up too soon?

Or am I just taking a different route right now?

I've worked so very hard the past few months. I've followed my dreams. My soul has grown, and my dreams are even bigger. But I am so far from them. Am I just afraid?

Again, it's just a possibility. But with this possibility comes the questions. And ah, the questions that have been playing in my mind have me spinning. The answers? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, PG is officially on vacation . . . and I am THRILLED. He will be HOME (not only IN TOWN . . . but HOME!!!) for the next 10 days, or so. And my girls will be home and off of school. I intend to spend these next 10 days with the people who mean the very most to me, and I can't wait.

Everything else will work itself it. I've always felt that what will be . . . will be. And if my life is meant to take a different turn right now, then that is just what it is meant to do.

While cleaning up the photos on my cell phone this evening, I found a picture I took in a local art/craft store months ago. I stared at it for a long time tonight. Months ago, I knew what mattered. And tonight, while reading it over and over, I reminded myself. Whatever path I take, I will count my blessings along the way, and choose HAPPINESS. That's what my story is all about.

That's it.

That's everything.

Wishing you a wonderful day, my friends.

And, as always, Peace.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Will . . .

In a few short weeks . . .

I will have the courage to start again.

I will be braver. Stronger. More determined than before.

I will paint something new. Many things, actually. I already see them in my mind, soon I will bring them to life.

I will return to my blog, this place that has always housed my truest self, and I will fill it with dreams and possibilities.

I will write more from my heart . . . like I used to, not so long ago.

I will inspire. I will motivate. I will do the things that make me feel good.

I will believe.

I will listen. I will support. I will encourage.

I will begin something new.

I will read your words, grow through your stories, and let you know that I am doing so.

I will find my passion once again.

I will listen to those quiet whispers in my heart . . . and keep moving forward.

2011, you've been quite good to me. But 2012 . . . oh, I've got some plans for us.

It's going to be wonderful.

I will never stop believing.

No Magnificent Monday Vlog post today. So many loose ends to tie up, and lots to get ready for in the next few days. I am happy to announce that I WILL BE RETURNING with our Magnificent Monday Vlogs in 2012!!!! Just taking the next couple weeks off from them . . . to nurture the soul, you know? I think I will start 2012 with a couple of guests on the Vlog. Oh, I've got something up my sleeve, for sure.

I've been doing much of that this past week, since my "bah-humbug" rant on Tuesday. Nurturing the soul, that is. I've been reconnecting with dear friends from a lifetime ago, spending time with my family, laughing and laughing and laughing. I haven't baked a single cookie so far this year . . . and you know what? It's OK. It's better than OK . . . it's darn near PERFECT.

Yesterday we walked through the Brookfield Zoo for their Holiday Lights Festival with PG's Aunt, Uncle and their granddaughter. It was such beautiful night and the holiday lights would put any Scrooge into the very best of holiday moods.

Phil's Aunt Rose is a dear woman whom I admire so very much, and I always cherish time spent with her. I recently shared my blog information with Aunt Rose, who wasn't very aware of the whole blogland world until talking about it with me. As we strolled through the zoo, she said "I've been reading some of your blog posts. Your stories and writing leaves me with a 'feel good' sort of feeling. Is that what it's all about?" and I responded, "Yes, Aunt Rose. That's exactly what it is all about."  I thought about it more and more as we continued our walk. Feel Good. Yes. That's what it is all about.


How about you? Any plans for your New Year? What will you? Leave a comment and let me know . . . or write a blog post about it and share it with us (we'll come visit. It will be fun!)

Peace, my friends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Image from Disney's
"A Christmas Carol"
starring Jim Carrey
Feeling a little . . . blah today.
Feeling tired.
Feeling like Ebenezer himself gobbled up my cheery soul. 


I think it's from lack of sleep. While we had a rather exciting weekend (which I shared with you on yesterdays "Magnificent Monday Vlog"), I spent two days last week caring for little Ella, who came down with a 24 bug, and was once again woken at 2:30am THIS morning by Katie, who seems to fighting a bug of her own now.

I'm going on with about 3 and 1/2 hours of sleep right now. Oh, lack of sleep is a terrible thing.

And with that, comes feelings of poopiness.

Those of you who know me, know that I am just about the cheeriest person this time of year. I am usually glowing with Christmas Spirit and fill most of my December days with the jolliest of activities. For the past three years, I have captured all of these holly-jolly moments with the most loveliest of December Daily scrapbooks . . .

But this year, I didn't do a December Daily. Maybe that's it . . . maybe the absence of this December Daily book has left a void for cheery activities. Hmmmm . . .

I'm surprised now, the 13th of December, that I didn't do a book this year. I would think that because I am not working right now, I might have been more inclined to make a book. But I guess I just didn't have it in me. Hmmmm . . .

Maybe I need to focus on the magic of the season. Those little pieces of whimsicalness that is all over the house. Play some music and listen to the songs that warm the heart and remind me of happy times. Hmmmm . . .

Or perhaps I need to remember what it is really all about.

Yes, that's it. I think I have forgotten, and found myself a little caught up in drama of . . . nothing.

So, here's to remembering why we are celebrating this time of year.

And here's to hoping Scrooge finds another spirit to crush.
I want to get my "merry" on, Mr. Scrooge.

Wishing you Peace.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Magnificent Monday Vlog #9!

What a fast week that one was! Congratulations, again, to Yenta Mary . . . the winner of last weeks give away! I've got two really fun stories that I'm sharing on this weeks Vlog, so I hope you stick around and watch them. I'm fairly sure they'll leave you with a smile!

Have a wonderful week, dear friends. I'll be back soon with more!!!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Visit Knitting Contrissmas!!!!

So, did I ever tell you about the amazing Tina from Knitting Contessa, whom I met in September at The Creative Connection Event? No?  Oh, how could that be?  Tina . . . she's a gem, I tell you.

I remember when I first saw her walking into one of the sessions . . . she had the most beautiful knitted scarf draped over her shoulders as if Tim Gunn himself placed it there. Only later did I learn that she, herself, knitted the scarf. Yes, she is a gem. She's as lovely as Paula Deen, and even craftier than Martha Stewart. Well . . . she's just about the next best thing to sliced bread.


I searched and searched through my photos from TCC, praying to find a picture of Tina to share with you.

I found not a one.

I did find, however, what I am certain is a photo of the dessert waiting on our table during, what I am sure, the meal I ate while sitting next to Tina . . . does this count? (I'm sure there were all sorts of grammatical errors in that sentence . . . but we'll just roll with it, ok?) Here's a picture of our dessert . . .

Tina will appreciate this, I am sure.

So, this brings me to today. My dearest Tina, the Knitting Contessa, has been the host of a lovely Knitting Contrissmas Celebration at her blog this month of December! Each day she has prepared an interview, a project, or a combo of the two, for all of us! She has some amazing talented friends stopping by to share their thoughts with us all. And TODAY . . . (gulp) my dear Tina (deep breath) has included ME!!!!

Yes, she has.

I don't think she had any idea what she was doing when asking me to participate in her wonderful Contrissmass fun! Really!

So, please do me the honor of venturing over to Knitting Contrissmas and reading up some words of wisdom from moi. And don't forget to read some of the other delightful interviews and ideas in each post! (Psst . . . there are LOTS of GIVE-AWAYS, so make sure you leave comments on each post!)

Thank you, Tina, for including me. I am honored to be a part of your December. You are an amazing soul and I look forward to TCC in 2012!!!

Peace, friends!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Moment, and a Winner!!!!

Oh, dear. Oh, me. Oh, my. I had a moment.

You know. An ugly Mom moment.

And while I'm sure that Halloween passed us by well over a month ago, I swear my head spun around and some green stuff flew out of my mouth.

What brought it on?

My children, of course. Well, not them . . . directly. More like, their actions. Well, not their actions . . . directly. More like, the mess they left in the basement. And the family room. And the living room. Oh, and the hall way. Yep. They were everywhere. And I could tell, you see, from the mess.

I love these children. I really do.
But 30 minutes before three mothers from the "Room Mom" group were expected at our home, I lost my cool. Yep, I did.

Then, I had an epiphany. A realization, you see. That . . . I am not perfect. Who cares if the house wasn't "perfect". I am NOT perfect.
Nope. I'm not.

I'm actually far from it.

My house? Nope. It's not perfect, either. And it's ok. All of it.

Because I am me. Like me . . . for me . . . and not for my house. Right? I'd rather be the me that I am . . . than the perfect person I am not.

Does that make sense?

As soon as my ugly Mom moment passed, I hugged the very children who left those messes in all of those rooms. I apologized for the head spinning, and we all promised to try and put things away when we are done playing with them. And my day continued . . . minus the ugly Mom. Katie and I agreed that the best part of being a family is knowing that you can have "ugly" moments . . . but still love each other with all of your heart.

Ugly Mom moments are sometimes the best moments of the day. Really.

Oh, and the winner of the Cardinal Pendant give away?????? (You thought I forgot, didn't you????)

Yes, I referred to my trusty "print out the comments, fold them up, and let Ella draw the winner" process. And the lucky owner of my new Cardinal Pendant is none other than adorable and beloved . . .

Oh, my dearest Yenta Mary from Food Floozie (check out her blog . . . it's deliciously delightful, all of the time!) Mary and I have been the bestest of blog buddies for years now, and never have I drawn her name during my give-aways! I squealed with delight when I saw that Mary would be the owner of my Cardinal Pendant!!! Oh, love!

Mary, please email your mailing address to me at, and I'll gladly ship your new Cardinal pendant as soon as possible!!!!

Stay tuned, everyone, for another give-away next week!!!!
Nope . . . the holiday goodies aren't over yet!!!

And here's hoping your "Ugly Moments" bring out the very best in you! 

Wishing you peace, my dear friends!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Magnificent TUESDAY Vlog #8 - and another GIVE AWAY!!!!

Wow . . . what an exciting time of year!

Like all weeks, I've got lots of great things to share with you . . . lots of lessons learned this past week . . . lots of things to think about as the holiday season is upon us.

Do you have your coffee (or tea) in hand?
Pull up a chair . . . it's time to chat . . .

Now . . . leave me a comment below, so you can win THIS pendant . . .

I'd love for YOU to have it in your lovely hands as soon as possible!
SO, leave a comment TODAY!
(The winner will be drawn and announced on THURSDAY, December 8th!)

Tweet it, facebook it, tell your friends to leave a comment on THIS POST to be entered! 

Have a Magnificent Day! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quick Hello!

Just a quick hello and announcement . . . .

We are off on an adventure that I can't wait to tell you all about. Just a day or two. But it will delay my Magnificent Monday Vlog tomorrow (sniff sniff!)!  So, please come back and have a cup of coffee with me on TUESDAY this week!!! Have much to share with you, as always!!!!

Happy Holidays, friends!!! Be back tomorrow!!!!

p.s. All Ornaments ON SALE NOW for $5!!!!!

Pick one up while you can!!!!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

I love you.

A boy I went to grade school with passed away last week.

I haven't seen him in 25 years, at least. But his memory is haunting me these days. In my mind, I see the young 11 year old boy just as I remember him. He is sitting behind his desk, wearing his Catholic school uniform of yellow shirt and brown pants, and he is laughing.

In my memory, I am sitting across from him. And I am laughing, too, at something he has just said. He was that type, you know. Always saying something to make someone laugh.

It's as clear as day.

He was 41 years old. I don't know how he died. All I know is that he is gone.

And it is bothering me. Terribly. Like most things in life, I have to write about it. It seems to be the only way I can work it out. You see, I can't help but wonder about his life the past 25 years since I last saw him. We weren't particularly close. As I mentioned, I haven't seen him in about 25 years. But I remember him. So clearly. He was a nice guy. Really. And I wonder about his life. Now. Was he happy? Was he ill? Did he love? Did he laugh often, as I remember he did in grade school? Is he at peace? God, I pray he is.

41 years old.

I'd like to live to 80. I think 80 is a great age. My Grandma Josephine lived to be 88, but the last few years of  life were pretty hard on her. So, I am thinking that 80 years is a great time to go to move on to my next life.

41 years old.

I say "I love you" to Katie and Ella all of the time. I can't help it. If I am going to hop in the shower, I'll say "I love you" before I leave them in the family room. Once I get out of the shower, I'll always call down to check on them and follow it with an "I love you." I don't think I was raised in an overly affectionate household, and don't have many memories of hugs or being told "I love you" by my family. I felt loved, but I don't remember hearing the words very often. Maybe that is why I tell my girls I love them so often, so that they will remember it. I want them to know, at every second of the day, how much they are loved.

This morning, as I sat in my bathroom putting on my make-up, I heard Ella come upstairs. "Ella, is that you?" I called out. "Yes, Mom . . . I'm getting dressed," she answered. "Oh, ok. I love you," I said. "I love you, too," she answered. "I love you, three," I replied. "I love you four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten, Mommy," she concluded.

And I cried. Because I realized that John will never hear the words "I love you" again. And we will never hear John say them, either. 

41 years old.

John, I wish you eternal peace.

And I love you.

And for all those who were in my life those 25 years ago . . . it's been a long time. Thank you for being a part of my life. You are all in my heart today, and I send you love. Where ever you may be.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Does it rain in Heaven?

We had some pretty rainy days here in Chicago last week. A whole bunch of drops fell, as many of us ran from store to store preparing for our Thanksgiving gatherings. Yes, I found myself in the middle of some pretty cold and damp days that left me chilled to the bone. And thinking . . . . about rain . . . and heaven.

I'm not an umbrella sort of person. I think I'm actually umbrella-challenged. Many a times I have found myself the unfortunate soul whose umbrella flips inside out, or with spokes that have cracked and left half of my umbrella collapsed and hitting me in the face. Not a pretty picture, I tell you. And I find it almost impossible to get my car, open the door, sit down, close the umbrella, and pull it into the car with me . . . without getting myself absolutely soaked in the process. Yes, I am what you would call "umbrella-challenged", and I am not afraid to admit.

While driving around last week, I started to think about my lack of umbrella finesse, and wondered if this meant it was time for . . . the bonnet.

You know the bonnet, right? Like . . .  a rain bonnet.

I remember my Grandma wore them. I actually think Grandma must have owned stock in the rain bonnet business, because she actually had rain bonnets in every color imaginable. Never was Grandma without a rain bonnet in her purse (she was prepared . . . you never know when you might need one. They were usually right next to the butterscotch. Because, you never know when you need that, either.) 

Purple, yellow, gold, silver, white, black, red . . . every color under the sun. She had them all. And she wore them. And her hair looked perfect. All.of.the.time.

I think I need one. A rain bonnet, that is. (A butterscotch would be kind of lovely right now, too, come to think of it.)

Ok. Maybe not yet. But . . . when does that rain bonnet stage hit? Is it the same time the AARP card arrives? Or perhaps when that first social security check comes in the mail? Or is it when you realize that you are umbrella-challenged?

Hmmmm . . . I wonder.

When I think of heaven, I never imagine a single rain drop falling from the clouds. In my heaven, the sun is always shining.

But in my heaven, Grandma still carries her purse and her rain bonnet, just in case. The rain bonnet is white, I'm sure. To match her wings.

Love you, Grandma.

And I think of you. . . every single day.


p.s. If you happen to be in the market for a rain bonnet, they are available on Amazon for $1.59, and here is a link to purchase it. Disclosure: I have not been paid or rewarded in any way for mentioning rain bonnets in this post. Nor have I received any products in return for my endorsement of said rain bonnets via this writing. However, if you represent the rain bonnet company, feel free to send me a bonnet. I might need it one day! ;)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Magnificent SUNDAY Vlog and Cyber Monday Info!

Wow . . . can it be that I was away from the computer all.week.long?  Where did the time go? I unplugged. Big time. But, I'm back! BIG TIME.

And  JUST  IN  TIME!!!

in my Etsy Shop . . .
Tomorrow, November 28th, 2011,
click the "SHOP" tab above, or the shop to the right of this post,
or THIS LINK to get to my shop.

Add the coupon code CYBERMONDAY at check out,
and save 15%!


Now is the time to start shopping
for the holidays, my friends!
Pick up something unique and special
for those in your life!

PLUS . . .
Purchase something on MONDAY, 11/28, and receive a free item.
It could be a book mark, a magnet, or a set of cards.
It will be FREE, and it can be another gift off of your list (or something special for YOU!)

And here is my special addition SUNDAY VLOG with a challenge for the week. . . .

HUGS, dear friends.

I'm feeling a little more creative in my brain this weekend. I think I'll be writing again very soon!!!!

Peace to all!

p.s. Spread the word . . . tell a friend . . . share the joy (and the sale) with those around you . . . we're all family here . . . I don't mind! :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Magnificent Monday VLOG #6!

Holy Guacamole!!! I'm LATE!!!

For those of you who enjoy your first sip of Monday morning coffee while watching the lively entertainment of my Magnificent Monday Vlogs . . . I apologize! I missed our Monday Morning date, and for that I am so very sorry!!! But, better late than never, right? Perhaps a mid-afternoon coffee will work today!


Will be back soon with more delightful tales!

Wishing you Peace, and a happy life, my dears!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

He SO gets me

I'm participating in a heART exchange art swap this week, and I'm so very excited about it. It has been coordinated by the amazing Louise Gale, from If you take a few moments and read a little about this swap, you'll probably agree that it is definitely a "win-win" sort of thing. One of those opportunities when you can share something special with someone, and receive something special in return.

So, the swap is something you have made . . . from the heart.

And after a few moments of brain-storming, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was stuck, however, when coming up with the words to put on my piece. . . . what to write . . . what to write . . . I sat at the dinner table Monday evening throwing sayings out for PG's input. Nothing worked.

Then, HE (Mr. Phil Guy himself) came up with it. "Follow Your Heart," he said. As simple as that.

I stopped and thought about it.

Hmmmmm. Follow your heart.

"It's what you do," he said. "You follow your heart. That's what you are doing right now in life. Following your dreams. Doing art. That's what you should write on your art piece."  

He gets me.

So all day today, I created. I made four pieces in this collection total, each one with slightly different colors and lettering. I'll only be sending one out to the Art Swap, and this one . . . well, this one I am going to hang in my kitchen . . .
I love it.

Follow your heart . . . where it leads you.

Perfect, don't you think?

I think I'll make jewelry out of it. Maybe put some prints of it on Etsy. I'm loving this, friends. Art. It's pretty wonderful.

I'll share more from the art swap next week. Can't wait to see what everyone does.

Wishing you peace.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Magnificent Monday VLOG #5!

Oh, what a week! So glad to be here, and so happy to show you a few new items I've been working on. Hope you enjoy!

Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Have a Magnificent Monday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Can Hardly Stand Myself

I'm like that mad scientist (and my hair even looks the part this morning), up all hours . . . in my lab . . . with fits of sleepless laughter over the creations I am pouring myself into. It's not a pretty picture . . . but that's been me this week. I feel like I'm rushing against the clock. But there is really no clock. Just my own internal creativity trying to get out.

I can't hold it any longer. Here is a sneak peek of what I've been mulling over . . .

I mean . . . really . . . MY work . . . MY art . . . in a beautiful little pendant tray that you can wear and have with you all day long. I swear . . . it's a dream, I tell you. A dream.

and a few more . . .

But that's not all.

at the holidays!

All made by these very two hands typing right here.


When I think about what I am doing, I could cry.


A dream.

I still have a little work to do on the ornaments (must add the metal wire hanger and a jingle bell, because . . . it's the holidays after all!) But I woke up this morning (after another late late night in the studio) and had this overwhelming urge to share these pics with you! I will have all items on Etsy THIS WEEKEND!! (Probably Sunday). Make sure you "LIKE" my facebook page on the right, and I'll update Facebook as soon as they are available for you!

Life is Good, my friends.

So Good.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Little Ears that Hear

Oh, dear . . . those little ears that hear.

I've got four of them in my house, you know. Two belong to Katie and two belong to Ella.

And I am often very aware of those little ears during the day. It has always been really important to me that those ears only hear things that will build them up and make them happy. That is what they deserve. And I work hard at that. Those little ears are the reason I stopped watching the news about eight years ago . . . children don't need to hear about the dangers in the world right now. If the TV is on when I am home, it is always set to either the PBS children's channel, or Disney (and I've been known to turn off both of those from time to time.)

I'm aware of those ears when PG and I talk, too, as the laundry room has turned into our meeting place for serious conversations about life and family. However, every once in a while we must slip and have one of those grown up talks in a place where little ears dwell. Especially lately.

You see, PG has been traveling so often lately that we don't have much time to have those serious conversations many partners in life have. You know, the "how are we going to pay the mortgage this month?" conversations, or the "what's left in the account for groceries?" sort of conversations. So lately, they are taking place whenever and where ever they can.

Yes, I am so very blessed to be taking this artistic journey in life right now, and following my dreams . . . but the truth is, I am constantly ridden with guilt that I should be out getting a "real" job that delivers a "real" paycheck every month. Starting a business is rough . . . especially when funds are low. And while PG has been so supportive, my own guilt takes over week after week.

We must have had one of those "talks" this weekend. And today, I realized just how those little ears work. You see, it's a rainy and gloomy day in Chicago, and I decided to drive Katie to school (instead of her climbing on the bus in the damp rain this morning). I dropped Ella off first, then took Kate on to her school. And she LOVES when I do this. She considers this our time to talk. And boy oh boy . . . does she talk. I hate to admit that I often find my mind wandering as she goes from one story to another (remember . . . she tells stories like her Daddy!)

But today, I heard her stories. Each and every one. Although one story really sticks out.

"Mom," she said, "I know that money is really tight right now and you and Daddy are talking a lot about not having enough money. And I just want to tell you that you really shouldn't worry about it. I mean, I know that it is tough . . . believe me . . . I know . . . " (which just cracks me up, that she . . . the 8 year old . . . knows). She continues, ". . . . but the thing is, that you are an artist Mom. And this is all really new and the right people just haven't seen your work yet, and some day soon, you are going to find yourself getting orders on the computer every single day, and you will be making a lot of money for our family. So, I am not worried, Mom. I believe. I don't know if you believe, Mom, but I believe. You're going to make it, Mom. Yep. My Mom is an artist, all right."

Those little ears.

Does she have any idea what she does for my soul? Will she ever know how she and her sister are the driving force behind everything that I do? That they are my inspiration?

And that because of them . . .  I believe.

Yes. I am blessed. I am an artist. I am a Mom. I am loved. I am poor. But I am rich, in all the ways that matter.

Peace, my friends.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Magnificent Monday Vlog #4 and GIVE AWAY WINNER!

Oh, dear friends! This was a very exciting week for me! And what a MAGNIFICENT MONDAY it will be . . . for ONE LUCKY WINNER!

Watch the Vlog to find out WHO will win one of my original canvas art pieces!!

Thank you ALL for entering the give-away!

Before I leave, here is a picture of the table I set up for the Vendor Fair on Friday night (this is the one I talked about in the video.) I'm pretty happy with how it looked . . .

Remember . . . this can be YOURS! Visit my Etsy shop (click on the SHOP tab above . . . or click on the "Chaostohappiness" Etsy images at the right of this post.

Lots of good things coming this week . . . will be introducing a monthly email newsletter that you can sign up, along with making some new products (can you say . . . JEWELRY!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!) and CARDS, CARDS, CARDS GALORE!!! It's a pretty great time to bring some of this happiness into your life!

Peace, my friends!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Lovelies

I love coffee . . .

(yes, I AM using my Christmas mug!)

I love cake . . .  

Together, they make a lovely pair.

Don't you think?

Wishing you a delightful Sunday full of all your favorite lovelies, my friend!

p.s. Don't forget to leave a comment on THIS POST to be entered to win an ORIGINAL canvas piece of my artwork! The winner will be announced in tomorrow's Magnificent Monday Vlog!!! Oh, and it's going to be a wonderful Vlog, my friends. I have a few great stories to share!

See you then!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I haven't been enjoying the little moments lately. You might be surprised by that. If you know me, you know that I am usually ALL ABOUT the little moments . . . taking notice of the birds, the leaves, dirty feet and lollipops. All things I have caught a glimpse of in the past and have written of here.

But lately, I'm trying to just get by. Trying.

Trying to raise my daughters. Trying to keep my house going. Trying to balance the national debt (our debt, that it). Trying to start a business. Trying to be a friend. Trying to be a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a wife, a mother. Trying to be me.

And the little moments? They are getting lost in the middle of all of the chaos. They are being overlooked and swept aside for something more pressing. Like, laundry. Or, groceries. Or . . . you know. Life.

And I miss them . . . the little moments.

I feel the difference in my soul.

Because those little moments make up the person I am.

And when I am without them, I feel empty.

On Halloween night, another one of those "A-ha" moments happened for me, and it all had to do with the little moments.

It was 9:00 pm, and I was exhausted. The weekend caught up with me, the day of fun caught up with me, the husband leaving for another business trip caught up with me. And I was cranky. My mind was on the schedule for the next 5 days, and the thought of PG being gone and me being in solo mode was all that I was thinking of. And then . . . there with my mind going in a thousand directions . . . I had two little girls to put to bed.

I am always amazed at the different behaviors of my two daughters. Bedtime is when I can really see it. Ella is pretty cooperative and usually jumps into bed without any prompting needed. She plays hard during her day, so she welcomes the softness of her pillow and her comfy bed with open arms. A story, a kiss, and she is down for the count. Katie, on the other hand, always has a million things she has to accomplish before she can go to bed. One last drink of water, one last look at a book, socks on the feet, blankets in place, and then . . . oh, yeah, "Mom . . . I have to tell you this one thing before you leave" is always uttered from her lips when I put her to bed at night. She tells stories like her father (which, if you know anything about Phil, know that his story telling abilities are very detailed. This detail can turn into some pretty lengthy stories!) It is usually a given that Katie will summons me back into her room to tell me "one more thing" every single night. Over and over again.

This drives me crazy.

It does. Really. Because I usually have three loads of laundry to get to, or a dishwasher to empty, or a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills episode to watch (hey . . . I'm being honest here . . . I need some down time!).

So, back to Halloween Night . . . I was ready for the couch. And there was Katie . . . calling me back into her room.




"Kate," I said . . . very frustrated and ready to be done for the night, "what is it?"

"Mommy," she answered, "I just want to tell you that I had a really great day today. The best day in my whole life."


Right there. A moment.

Not only that she wanted to tell me that she had the best day in her life. But that . . . she called me back in her room. I realize that my 8 year old will not always call me back into her room. I realize that there will be a time when she wants me no where near her room.

And right then and there, I realized that this moment is what I always dreamed of. 20 years ago, when I was looking for love and trying to figure out so badly who I wanted to be in this world, and what I wanted to do with my life . . . I knew that I always wanted to be a Mom. I knew I always wanted to feel the unconditional love that I saw my nephew give his mom. I new that I wanted to fill my home with love and laughter and family and happiness. I knew that I wanted to end each day reading bedtime stories and giving kisses and hugs.

And then start each day over again.


I'm living my dreams. Not my artist dreams. Not my business dreams. My LIFE dreams.

And I am blessed.

Here are just a few pictures of a our many Halloween "moments" that I wanted to share with you . . .

I hope you enjoy some of your little moments today, my friends!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Magnificent Monday VLOG #3! and GIVE AWAY!!!

Hey Friends!!! Time for our weekly vlog!

Before we begin, I actually have a couple corrections to announce . . . because my brain, quite frankly, has no idea what day today is!  I actually begin the vlog by saying it is Vlog #4 . . . when it really is Vlog #3! AND, at the end of the Vlog, I state that I will be back next week with Vlog #5 . . . when I'll really be back with Vlog #4! (Remember when I told you once that I was really bad with numbers? Here is proof that I was telling you the truth!)

So, let our Magnificent Monday begin . . .

Now, it's time to enter the GIVE AWAY!!!

What am I giving away? Well . . . if you watched today's Vlog, you already know! But  . . . . in case you didn't see it, I'll share it with you. Leave a comment and you will be eligible to win this ORIGINAL Annalee Canvas piece:

This piece is one of my very first Annalee sketches, and has great sentimental value to me
as it was a bit of a personal mantra to myself.
Listen, "One Day" is TODAY
is to remind us all that there is no better time than to present to go after our dreams.
And there is no better time than the present to pass this on to one of YOU!

So, leave a comment on this post, and YOU will be entered to win!
(I'm going to add some other goodies to the box, too! So spread the word, will you?)
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO, is leave a comment on this post!!!

Blog about it, write it on your facebook wall, tweet your friends and send them here!

The winner will be announced NEXT MONDAY, 11/7/2011, during
Magnificent Monday Vlog #4!!!
Wishing you a Wonderful Day!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

56 Days Away!

I woke up today . . . feeling like Christmas.

I know. I know. It's way too early . . . it's not even November yet, right? Let us enjoy a little bit of this Fall before we jump into something else, don't you think?

But I couldn't help it.

My friend Leslie has been playing Christmas music all week, and telling us about it on her Facebook page. My sister sent an email that she was in the Christmas spirit, too. It's gonna happen, you know. Why put off to tomorrow, what you can feel today, right?

If you have been around here any time at all, you know that I love Christmas. I mean, who doesn't? Ok . . . I am sure there are plenty who don't like the commercialization of it, and think it's gotten way out of hand over the years. But, my friends . . .  I love the true meaning of it. The celebration of the birth of Jesus, the son of God. The giving to others and doing kind things for others. The singing of Christmas Carols and the making of hot chocolate. The snuggling while watching Polar Express. The smell of freshly baked Christmas cookies from the kitchen. The sparkling reflection of light as it hits just fallen snow. I love everything about the season.

And I'm ready for it.

It's funny, isn't it . . . how earlier this week I was in need of a vacation by the pool and beach, feeling the hot sun on my face. And today, I'm looking for my Peter, Paul and Mary Holiday CD and can't wait to wear my crazy Christmas socks. Yes, I'm in the mood.


You have . . . a total of 56 days, 10 hours, and 12 minutes left to put up with me.

Hope you can handle it.


p.s. I went to the post office today to send out some more orders from my Etsy shop. I have had 9 orders this week, and a total of 20 items have sold! (YIPPIE!) I send each item with a cute little "Annalee" mailing label, and the lady working at the post office just went CRAZY for it! She said it was honestly the most adorable mailing label she has ever seen (and she assured me that, in her position, she comes across thousands of mailing labels.) She was so interested in what I was doing, and made me promise to bring her in some samples of my cards and stuff when I'm there next week (yes, crazy me . . . I didn't have a SINGLE business card with me! Another lesson learned . . . NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT your business cards! You never know WHERE or WHEN you might find a new customer!) I left feeling SO excited about what I am doing with this new business. It's a pretty wonderful feeling. If you have no idea what I am talking about, click here to find out!

And remember, Christmas is ONLY 56 days away!!! I have some great little gift for many on your Christmas gift list. Oh, I think the Annalee Note Cards make a LOVELY gift. Too much? How about a bookmark? They really are a lovely quality . . .

Thanks, dear friends, for being here.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vacation, anyone?

I don't know where the days are going. Or the hours, for that matter. It feels like fast motion, again. Seems to happen every fall. So many things I want to accomplish by the end of the year, and the clock is ticking. So many things happening each and every day. Life is definitely good, but it's going by so fast. And some days, I need it to slow down.

PG has been home this week, which has been such a bonus. I have gotten so used to him being out of town, that I forgot how good it feels to have him home. After a pretty hectic weekend of parties and visits with family, we had a few hours Monday afternoon of just our family (PG, Me, Katie and Ella), and those few hours did a world of good for my soul.

Monday afternoon, I found myself in our car with my husband and my daughters . . . and realized that there was no place else on this earth where I would have rather been at that very minute. And how there are no other people on this earth who I would have rather been with.

I love this family of mine.

I love the unit that we make up. I love the group that we are.
The family that we are when we are together.
I love it when we are happy, or cranky.
When we are patient and calm, or when we are rushing like crazy.
I just love us being us.
And I love when we are exploring someplace new . . . together.
Even if it's just driving down a street in our town where we have never driven before.
I love being together.

I told PG that I need a vacation. I always feel this way in the fall. And even though we have been all over the country this year, I want to go away again. I feel the need to sit on a beach (or near a pool) and listen to the laughs and shrieks of my daughters as they play in the water. I long to feel the hot sun on my face, as I close my eyes and drift off to that quiet poolside slumber that only a pina colada can bring to me. The thought of seeing this . . . 

Oh, how lovely. Just to soak in this,
for a little while. . . .

Maybe have a sip (or two) of this . . .  

Ah . . .

It would be so nice, wouldn't it?

PG is pretty spontaneous. If I said "ok", he'd have us booked on the next flight out of here, ready to explore a new place. The four of us. Together.

Maybe one of these days . . . soon . . . I might just have to let him do that.

Any place you are dreaming of lately? Leave me a comment and let me know.
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