Moving Ahead

I know I’ve been slacking off. It’s true, but there is a reason. A big funk, a big cloud of doom and gloom that settled over our house. There may have been sunny skies for the rest of Temecula, but in this house it was gray and cloudy. The unfortunate thing is that Dan and I hit the same rock bottom place at the same time, and sometimes there isn’t an umbrella big enough to make a difference. The other unfortunate thing is that it lasted for more than a day. I’m sure there are friends of mine that are happy that I was gone. Let’s face it, when you write every single day, and your friends have vowed to follow you, it becomes a bit of a homework assignment. So now that everyone has had a breather, and I’m forcing myself to see things differently, its time to write and create once again. Before I begin…

To begin with we are working hard and fast towards our business, the same one I have mentioned repeatedly here on the blog. The wait for a miracle is over. It’s official, we are in the process of opening a cafe/bookstore. So official in fact that we sought the advice of a lawyer, and bought some chairs! We are going to put our combined talents and interests together and get this thing moving. I have also mentioned my cooking. Its good, really, really good. We eat pretty much homemade everything, that is part of the plan. We own enough books between us to open a shop, but we will be keeping ours (because we love them so much!), and we will be opening an independent bookstore that carries new books. Our home reflects our personalities, warm, loving, friendly, and comfortable. Also a huge part of the plan. I’ve asked for karma and prayers here before, now I’m going to ask for something else. Our daughter was kind enough to begin a crowd funding campaign for us. We have preliminary approval for some business loans, but are short on start-up capital, in other words cash. If you’ve enjoyed my writing, my ranting, my self-pity, or my art over the last year, please consider clicking on the link below. You’ll see a little bit more of who we are, and why we are headed this way. We will be updating our progress as we move ahead. Thanks in advance even if you only take a peek.

By the way, Thank You to all who have been following me through out this year. There have been some pretty bad days, and just knowing that someone was listening helps more than I can say.

Many of my art projects in the near future will be to do with our shop. One possibility for our “to go” lunch bags. Pen and ink and color pencil.

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To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

4 17 14  Today’s work












photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.





IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.




image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.





Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.





005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.



5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.




image  Pastel desert scene.






6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.






IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.





12 20 Riley once again in pencil.




IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.





12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.





IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.





2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.





2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.




3 24 14 Another cabinet door.





4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.





There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.






My Day Off…

My Day Off…Sort of

Not too much to read, but lots to look at. Taking a well deserved few days, and posting the work I like the most that I completed this past year.

Today: Pen and Ink


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Where Do We Go From Here?

My year is up. I am no longer obligated to post or create every day. My self-imposed project is complete, or is it? Did I accomplish everything I had hoped? Not in so many ways. Did I discover parts of myself? Yes. So now what’s next? I am a creature of habit. Something I haven’t revealed about myself (Yes, even after all this time) is that there was a time in my life when I kept a diary almost every day for seven years. When you don’t have friends books, paper and pen, and music become your lifeline. When I started my blog and project I never thought about what would happen when it was finished. I wasn’t even sure I would finish, but here I am a year later. I still have much room to grow artistically. New skills to master, and quite possibly having to let go of the one I love most, oil painting.

I still haven’t finished my portrait of Jessica because it is in oil. My respiratory system is taking a stand. Its been weeks since my cold ended, but I’m still feeling that little catch of breath in the back of my throat. As much as I hate the idea of it, I may have to resort to wearing a mask if I want to continue to paint. I think I may not have a choice. It was my first artistic love and I’m not ready to let go.

As for this blog, as I said last night, I will continue. Although I just might take tomorrow off. We’ll see. It’s become as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth.


I’m going to spend the next day or two organizing the work I love most. Pen and in later in the week. Tonight another retrospection, this time some watercolor.


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Day 365

Today is day 365. I did it, a year of writing every day, of not giving up on myself, of pushing myself on days that I didn’t want to do anything, and keeping my promise to create every single day. In retrospect there are days when a bad mood, a bad attitude, laziness, or frustration presented itself in the work I produced. I can tell what days those are by looking at the work. I can also say that I am proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. This blog evolved into a much more personal diary than I had ever intended. I have more to say about all of this, but as I’ve so often mentioned here on these pages, life sometimes takes turns that you never expect.

There was a tragedy in my family today. My beautiful niece was in the beginning of a new relationship. The young man was killed early this morning in a car accident. My heart breaks for her, I love her like she is my own daughter. I have no words to comfort her, and I am too far away to wrap my arms around her. I didn’t know this young man, I only saw photographs that showed two young people happy, and read messages on Facebook that made me aware of just how crazy he was about her. His brother was injured as well and is critical, he is the father of two young children. My heart bleeds for this family. I have asked for prayers before. I’m asking again. This time for some people I don’t really know, and for my niece. Ask God, whatever God is yours to help them through this terrible time, to bring them peace, to help that young father heal. As I told my niece a short time ago, hopefully she can find some solace in knowing that her boyfriend passed away at a point in his life when he was happy because of her. It is a day like today that puts so much in perspective. My life isn’t perfect, far from it, but many miles away from me is a lovely girl with a broken heart living a nightmare, and parents who are mourning the loss of one son, and praying for another to survive. I cannot even imagine their pain.

I’m still working on Maddie’s portrait. I redid entire portions of it, but I won’t be posting it tonight. I decided instead to go through this past years work and choose the pieces I’m most proud of. A retrospective if you will…later… I began to look at my work, and I did more pieces of work that I love than I was aware of. Tonight on a night when I think about life and it’s sometimes very sad turns, I will post portraits and figures, but on this page the three that mean the most. My son, my husband, my daughter. I love you all and thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year. A second post to follow with the rest.

Honestly, nothing seems important right now. I just want to say to my niece, “I love you. I wish it were in my power to make this all better for you. To change the last twenty-four hours. To give you whatever you need to heal. To give those two young men back to their families. I am praying for you all.”

IMG_03417 13 (4)




As The Mind Wanders…

I think I could be my own soap opera. I have enough family drama (when will our fortunes turn around?), suspense (will there be a job???), heartache (my daughter may move away someday, more about that in a minute), humor (between my husband and my sister Colleen I have more than my share), romance and passion (We’ve been happily married for nearly twenty-five years for a reason), sadness and sorrow (a lot to list, but no more than most people, so tonight we’ll let it go)


As my hands are occupied with creative endeavors, my mind is free to wander about flitting from one subject to the next. I started out the day feeling ambitious. I had a plan…plans.  We started the day with an hour walk. My mind was racing with details of what my day would entail. Got home, showered, dressed, and went to work. I spent the day opening a second shop on etsy, “Pywackett Vintage”. An homage to my in-laws whose Chicago antique store shared the Pyewackett part of the name. I’ve only listed five items so far, but it is a detailed pain in my backside process, and I had other stuff to do as well. The stress and worry that come with unemployment make every day its own little drama.


Still waiting, waiting, waiting, for the email, the text, the phone call that will let us know what is going on with Dan’s possible job opportunity. Waiting for news is always the hardest part.


As I did dishes I began to think about Jessica. Her husband John is a journalist. There is always the chance that he may get work elsewhere. Right now they are only forty miles from me. I thought about how upset my Mom was when Dan got the job opportunity that led us to California. There was much talk about companies “tearing apart families”. She actually took off her wedding band and put it on my finger “in case she never saw me again”. I had to remind her that I was only moving to California, a little more than seventeen hundred miles away, where as she left her family in Ireland. A mere 3657 miles, across a big giant ocean. I was moving less than half the distance she did. When I think about the possibility of my daughter moving far away from me it breaks my heart. It makes me think about my Mom and how she felt, and how much I didn’t get it.


Colleen is still the funniest person I know. I don’t think I’ve ever had a phone conversation with her that didn’t include at least one giggle. When I’m with her I find it difficult to not end up crying from laughter. And then there is Dan. Despite our troubles, he makes me smile every day. He does all kinds of goofy stuff just to get a response from me. It’s really very sweet because I know he is as worried as I am.

Romance & Passion

One year of worry, stress, fear of financial ruin, anger, frustration, and bewilderment at the way the world treats an extremely decent, hardworking, compassionate and kind man, and nary a harsh word. We love each other as much as we did twenty-five years ago when we prepared to get married. You always hear or read stories about how love turns into friendship or doesn’t last, I’m here to say that it isn’t true. When you find the “right” one, your soul mate, your one and only, it doesn’t end, it only gets better. Despite all of our troubles we laugh together every day, we kiss every day, we hold each other every single night as we go to sleep. We weather every storm together and hold on even tighter.


I know I said I wasn’t going to mention anything, but I think I need to say this. I still miss my Mom seven years later, and (although I talk to him sometimes as much as four times a day), I miss my Dad. Jobs take us from our families sometimes, and that’s life, but it also takes us away from those we love and hold dear.

In all I ended up working on several projects today. I began another cabinet door project with another of  Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet doors. It doesn’t have enough done to make it worth posting. I also began another pencil portrait. A few weeks ago I did a drawing of Mia. This is Mia’s beautiful older sister Maddie. A very preliminary sketch, lots of work yet to be done on it.

4 11 14



Our Place

No news tonight, no complaints, just some thoughts on an observation from this morning, and how it relates to the kind of business I want us to have.

I was getting dressed this morning and knowing it was going to be 90 degrees today, I looked in the back recesses of my closet. I pulled out a shirt I haven’t worn in years. It happens to be a shirt that Dan bought me in Paris. We actually didn’t spend a lot of money there. We aren’t souvenir type people. If anything we had hoped to come home with something from a Parisian flea market. We unfortunately went to the wrong one, unless of course we were millionaires. The furniture was incredibly beautiful, and incredibly expensive. On our next trip (Don’t know how, don’t know when, but it will happen!), we will do our research and make sure we know where we are going. What we did end up buying was a sweater because I am always cold, and in the same shop the shirt I am wearing. We also purchased a shadow puppet for Jessica at the Musee d’Orsay. We had seen the collection of Theatre du Chat Noir (forgive me if I’ve gotten that wrong), incredibly intricate shadow puppets. Jessica is a graphic artist and loves strong imagery. I knew she would appreciate the design. Imagine my surprise when we got back to our apartment and discovered the sticker on the back that said, “Made in Chicago, Illinois”. I kid you not. It struck me as so funny. I flew all the way to Paris to buy my daughter something from her hometown. On the next to last day I mentioned to Dan that I had been admiring a second shirt in the window of a clothing store near where we were staying.  We went to the shop and purchased the shirt. That night as I packed my suitcase I noticed the tag inside of my new shirt, “American Rag”, the same brand as my jeans from Macy’s.

The world is becoming so interconnected thanks to our unbelievable ability to communicate, but at the same time I feel like something is being lost. I traveled with Dan on and off on business trips through the Midwest. I loved all the little towns, the shops, the local flavor. I think it many ways it is being lost. Now no matter where you go there is a Target, a Walmart, a Home Depot, etc…even in Paris I ended up with items I probably could have gotten back home. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love antique stores and flea markets so much. Pretty much everything is one of a kind.  I want our place to be the shop that everyone will think of as “their place”. I hope to make every person that walks through the door as welcome as they feel in my home. I want it to be a place, like my home, where people want to stay awhile and put their feet up, enjoy some really delicious food, a good cup of coffee, a good book, and some interesting conversation. (Now all I need is some money!)


As has happened before my art tonight is inspired by a photo I saw in the newspaper. I didn’t copy exactly what I saw, but definitely the feel of it with my own little twist. Something simple, I’m feeling nostalgic tonight.


4 10 14


A Change In Attitude

A change in the atmosphere? I’m not sure what it is, but today was the first day in quite a while when I spent the day feeling hopeful. Still no news on the one job that may still be in the works, but we are pursuing some financial options for our business that look very promising. There is also another plan in the works. Dan and a friend have an idea for another business, something that could prove to be very successful if they can get it up and running. There are two things about it that I love, one is that it should bring money in quickly, the other is that it would allow Dan to continue to work with me on our business. It’s literally down to the wire around here. Something has to work!

I’m also surprised that I feel as good as I do because I’m exhausted. I was up early on Monday, didn’t make it to bed until 12:30 Tuesday morning, up at 6:15 a.m. yesterday. I should have slept well last night but I didn’t. I went to bed at around 10:30, slept for maybe twenty minutes and then…wide awake. I laid there for at least a half hour before giving up. I came downstairs and used the time to do research for our business. My mind is racing with ideas and possibility.

I actually have two projects tonight despite the fact that I’m falling off my feet. In a flash of brilliance (if I do say so myself) I came up with a quick project to turn two vintage plinths into book ends for our upcoming shop. We ran over to the office supply store and grabbed a couple of metal bookends, added some glue, and there they were. There is a little bit of the new metal showing underneath which I plan to address. I’ve been pricing out bookends and they are really expensive. I’m going to need a lot of bookends. This project inspired me to see what else I have that can serve the same purpose.

I’m craving oils once again, but unfortunately my respiratory system is still not up to par. I am only days away from the end of my year. It may just end up in watercolor. I did a small one tonight of one of my Giverny photos. Dan and I are both longing terribly to go back. We went to Paris for our twentieth wedding anniversary. We are a little over ten weeks away from our twenty-fifth. We had hoped this would be the year, but things change. It will certainly be a different anniversary this time around.


The Things That Mean The Most

Lately I seemed to be a little obsessed with money, probably because we’re running out of it, but as I look around my beautiful home I know it’s only stuff. The things that are important to me are the people I love and care about. Dan, Brian, Jessica and her husband John (Happy 1st Anniversary to them today!), my family, and my friends. If I lost everything it would be ok as long as I have them. I’ve made it my mission in life to let those I care about know it. When my Mom died I was devastated. She passed away on a Sunday morning. That night my Dad went out to dinner with Dan and I, and our kids. While we sat at dinner talking about her I said that I hoped she knew how much I loved her, and my Dad replied, “Don’t worry, she knew.”

I always go above and beyond for the people I care about. I know when it is my time to leave this world my children will miss me, but I am also sure that they will know how very much I love and adore them both. I am by nature a thoughtful and generous person. Unfortunately in my adult life I have found that who I am sometimes intimidates people, women in particular. Several years ago I was seeing a therapist and when I talked to her about the way the women in my neighborhood were reacting to me, being mean, snide remarks, etc., she told me to stop showing off. I don’t do things to show off, I do things because I’m nice. I happen to have creative skills and I am grateful for the talents I was born with. I enjoy making gifts for people, and I have a passion for cooking. Somehow that gets misconstrued as me wanting to make others look bad. To be honest I let it bother me for a very long time. Now I don’t care anymore. If people don’t take the time to know me and realize what a truly generous person I am then it is their loss.

What got me off on tonight’s rant you ask? It happens to be the birthday of one of my very good friends, who also happens to be a neighbor.  I don’t have a lot of friends. I tend to be a bit of a loner, always have been. The few friends I do have mean the world to me. I met Lori at one of the neighborhood parties eight years ago when quite frankly no one was talking to me. I was on crutches, just days after surgery for a torn ACL. She saw me standing alone, got me a chair, something to eat and drink, and kept me company for the rest of the evening. I never forgot her thoughtfulness or kindness that night, and she has been consistently the same loyal friend since that night. Today is Lori’s birthday. She is here for dinner, I made one of her favorites, arugula with a balsamic dressing, pan seared medium rare steak, Parmesan cheese tuile and a horseradish cream sauce. Dan made some delicious salads with large tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto. I made her a cake, Devil’s Food with a homemade Dulce de Leche butter cream with a touch of sea salt. Like I said, I like to let the people I love know it.

IMG_6578 IMG_6571 For tonight, something else for Lori. A portrait of one of her other dearest friends, her dog Cocoa. (I should say a portrait in progress)

HappyIMG_6573 Birthday LorIMG_6569i!