happy new year!

Happy New Year 2009! Just because we have kids, doesn't mean we can't ring in the New Year. This year we joined our friends Stacy, Rick and Erica for a special "under 21" party. There was lots of toys, dancing and yummy food. We had our own countdown and balloon drop at 9pm (okay so we have to do things a bit earlier with kids - haha).

Traditions of New Year’s Eve include champagne, parties, dancing, holding your eyelids open until midnight … and making resolutions. I have to say, I love making resolutions and I like doing it all year long not just at New Years. Being the goal-setter and list-maker that I am, that’s not surprising. However, I sometimes get so caught in the fun of making lists and setting goals that I have trouble actually following through on doing them. Now what good is that?

This year I hope to continue in the new paths that I’ve found in 2008 (simplifying, decluttering, financial responsibility, healthy living and calmness). I decided I'd write my personal and creative goals for 2009 here so, I have a place to refer to and look back at.

  • do a sketch crawl
  • create a 3 piece painting series
  • learn to sew to hem the boys pants (just picked up a sewing machine via freecycle!)
  • make prints of past artwork (this will take me one step closer to a major life goal)
  • improve my design by setting time each month for tutorials
  • plan a "date" with each of my boys somewhat regularly
  • spend time in meditation or practicing yoga each week
  • give more and buy less
  • volunteer in some way for a cause I believe in
  • make a living will/ trust
  • explore the art of money management and budget regularly
  • continue going to the gym and eating healthy
  • continue to read lots of books
  • continue to look for ways to "green" our home and the products we buy
  • continue to work on my patience when dealing with my children and daily stresses
  • unsubscribe from email lists I no longer need to read
Many wishes for health, happiness, growth and peace in 2009!


polar express

With the holidays upon us we are all a little busier then usual. And that is why last week's reflective Friday is being posted on this week's Tuesday. Sorry about that! 10 days ago we took a ride on the Polar Express in Williams, AZ on the Grand Canyon Railway. You can see how much fun we were having by the smiles on our faces in the photo above! This picture was taken right after we saw Santa and he gave the boys each a bell form his sleigh. The whole trip was very festive and had every one of us feeling like a kid. Many thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law, Cindy (aka Nannie) for taking us this magical trip to the North Pole!

Here is Ethan writing his wish list to Santa. He was finished in lightening speed because all he wrote was - Wii Mario Kart. He has been asking for that from Santa since July!

Here is Cindy and I with the boys waiting to board the train. Ethan was the first in line for our train car (of course he was)!

Hudson receiving a chocolate chip cookie and hot cocoa - yum!

Reading the book Polar Express with the train elf.

Here is Papa Bert singing Christmas carols!

Meeting Santa and receiving our sleigh bells!
I wish you all a magical and very merry Christmas!


beading: moukaite set

This is a blast from the past! I created this design back in 2005, I think. Since it's been a busy week preparing for the holidays I don't have much new happening creatively so, i figured this was a good week to bust out an oldie but goodie design.

The focal bead for this necklace is a bold and beautiful moukaite slice gemstone bead. Moukaite comes from Australia and is part of the jasper family. It typically has bands of all sorts of colors from pinks to yellows to deep reds. This stone is unique and a lot of fun to design interesting jewelry. Jasper protects you against negativity and is also an excellent grounding stone spiritually and emotionally.

The remainder of the design is made up of amber and bone colored glass beads in various shapes and sizes and tiny reddish brown seed beads as spacers, all strung on Soft Flex .019 beading wire. I finished the design with a sterling silver wrapped hook and eye clasp.

I think I'll wear this piece in the upcoming days. With the holidays right around the corner who wouldn't need a little grounding spiritually and emotionally?!


adopt a family

Ethan & I joined our friends Sarah, Anna and Jessica to deliver Christmas decorations galore to our Adopt-A-Family. They were most appreciative. All of the kids came out and gathered around and I can just picture that they will have a nice night together decorating.

My mom's group signed up to provide assistance to a local family this Christmas. We are chipping in together to provide a Christmas tree, wreath and decorations, food for their Christmas dinner and gifts for the family members. My friend Jessica belongs to a church that offers the Adopt-A-Family program and she signed us up as a group to help this family.

The History of Adopt-A-Family

Adopt-A-Family was created to address the needs of low-income households -children and families during the holidays and times of need. Many of the families applying for assistance are facing financial hardships and are unable to afford a Christmas dinner or new toys and warm clothing for their children. Some are single parent families with very low income and some are large families where a parent has been laid off from their job. Year after year, Adopt-A-Family programs offer the gifts of hope, encouragement and caring to those needing it most.


sonora star jewelry

My friend Carla sent me this beautiful gift last week. These pieces are from her handcrafted Sonora Star Jewelry Collection. The color schemes she has created within that collection are a gorgeous, rich mixture of jewel tones that are oh so flattering. Plus, she strings all her beaded creations on the best quality beading wire, Soft Flex! Carla sells the creative hand earrings pictured above online and, as of right now, the extra long pearl necklace can be purchased at their booth or you can contact them via email to inquire.

I met Carla in 2001 when I began working as a graphic designer in a local bead shop/bead supply catalog company. We have stayed in touch all these years and I am so thankful for her friendship. Her and her husband Mark are wonderfully genuine people. They have since moved to Alpine, AZ and began their own jewelry company, Black Mountain Jewelry. They sell their handmade jewelry designs online and at art festivals around the state. Check out the awesome press coverage Black Mountain Jewelry recently received for their gifts that give back. I am proud to be their go to designer for all things graphic and I am ever so grateful for the beautiful gifts they have sent me. Thank you for being such good friends ~ love you!


design: software icons

I was recently contracted to create a new icon set for a software product. I took on the job thinking it was logo design as usual but, quickly realized icon design is a whole new ball game.

I had some obstacles to overcome: the files needed to be created in a new program specific for icon design (which I needed to learn fast!), it needed to be scaled down itty bitty and easily recognizable, it had to created for pc and mac (which of course are different in file type and size) and I needed to animate the icon for when the program was is "processing" mode.

It was a busy couple of weeks working on the above design and I am really happy to have had the opportunity. It's now a new skill set I can add to my portfolio. I enlisted a good deal of online resources to help me on my quest to design my first icon. Here are a few goodies that helped out:
Here is a quick step process of how this design came about.

My initial researched yielded these sketches. From here the client chose to pursue #4.

I went on to offer some choices in computer style and color schemes. We ended up working with blue & green colors for the 2 versions of software they supply.

The client choose to go with the open computer design. I showed multiple sizes of the icon and we tested how it looked it on the program.

Although it looked good on paper it needed to "pop" off the screen better. After tweaking the color, simplifying the background, changing the border to white from gray and thickening the outline of the computer it really wowed! Here is the final result:

This really was a fun project. I enjoyed the challenges and designing something so different from what I do on a daily basis.


handmade ornaments

We decorated our tree last night and I just love ornaments. (Ethan apparently does too as he has been sneaking a few into his room). Every year, we get to admire these little works of art as we place them on the tree and remember of when, where and who we received them from. And, of course, I enjoy making and giving ornaments as gifts for the holidays. Here are some of my past handmade ornaments that now adorn our tree!

hand sculpted moon and star ceramic ornament ~ 2002

hand etched ceramic ornament ~ 2002
I took a ceramics class at a local community college that year and hand sculpted about 10 ceramic ornaments in all shapes and sizes. These 2 I kept for myself. I wish I would have thought to photograph them all before giving them away as gifts!

hand painted glass ball ~ 2003
This was my first holiday as a Soft Flex employee. I knew the owners of Soft Flex loved ornaments as well so, I wanted to give them a hand painted gift. I kept my first draft shown above and gave them a more polished final draft.

hand painted star photo ornament ~ 2004
This was Ethan's first Christmas so, naturally I wanted to give family and friends a photo ornament. I picked these star frame ornaments up at Michaels, painted them and used glass beads and artistic wire to complete the hook.

hand painted dragonfly ~ 2005

hand painted flower ~ 2005
During the 2005 holiday season I was a vendor at the downtown phoenix public market selling painted home decor. Therefore, I created a bunch of colorful hand painted wooden ornaments for sale. The dragonfly and flower ornaments above are 2 styles I kept for myself. If you've never visited downtown phoenix public market it is fantastic and well worth a look, they sell all made in az products from local farmers, foodies and artists. Great place for your holiday shopping!

beaded ornament ~ 2006
This Christmas Hudson was just 2 months old. I didn't have much time for creating but, did manage to whip up a couple of beaded ornaments using glass beads and artistic wire.

pine cone ornament ~ 2007
Last year I got Ethan involved in crafting our ornament gifts. Ethan and I painted pine cones in multiple colors. Then we dipped them into cinnamon for a sweet smell an sugar for a frosty look, we glued a bow and a loop of natural twine for hanging.

With only a few weeks till Christmas I have yet to figure out what we will create this year. I realized when posting this blog that I have created a new ornament every year since 2002! Which is pretty cool. I better start searching for ideas for my 2008 ornament.

Don't miss this great DIY ornament project my friend Jamie created at Soft Flex company.

weekly reflection

Here i am on the cruise ship's *adult only* serenity deck. Today I am reflecting on this moment. It was by far my personal favorite and looking at this photo just conjures up all the tranquil feelings I had while lounging there.


back from sea

We just got back from our family cruise vacation and we had such a nice time. I was completely offline the entire 7 days and it was wonderful! I took this photo of our ship, the Carnival Inspiration, at port in Cozumel, Mexico. We went on a 4 day cruise from Tampa, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico with my husbands family, his mother, brothers family and sisters family. There were 7 adults and 8 kids total! Needless to say it was a busy vacation and a great time was had by all.

  • spent quality time together with Bert's family
  • relaxed on the serenity deck. (my favorite spot!)
  • practiced yoga on the fitness deck
  • rode the exciting four deck high 300 ft water slide (Ethan did this for 6 hours straight!)
  • kids played games, sang songs, art & crafts at camp carnival
  • played 9-hole mini-golf
  • entertained by a high-spirited stage show (Hudson quite enjoyed the showgirls)
  • shopped in downtown Cozumel
  • relaxed at paradise beach in Cozumel

Here is a beautiful dancer in Cozumel. I enjoy exploring the native culture when traveling.

My attempt at nice photo of Ethan & Hudson. I think they were too into "party mode" to sit still!



My friend Lisa found this website that generates "word clouds" and posted it on her blog. I generated one too by putting my blog address into the Wordle field and above is what I got (click to enlarge). So cool!

From the Wordle website:

"Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends. "

Create your own.



You can learn how to draw objects, humans, trees and other things by learning how to sketch first. I love to sketch and hope to come home from our thanksgiving vacation with lots of new sketches to share. The movement and strokes seen in a sketch are beautiful. I like "seeing" the process, to me it shows the human element and gives the artwork authenticity. My sketch above was an exercise from the book The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist you Truly Are by Danny Gregory.

I found this uber cool article on ehow about doing a sketchcrawl. What's that you say? The basic idea is wandering from place to place --with a sketchbook-- and with a single, constant goal to record everything around nonstop ... to observe, sketch and enjoy. I think I may need to take a day and do just that. How to do a SketchCrawl.


fountain hills art fest

Bert, the boys and I along with Bert's mom, Cindy and Tom went to the fountain hills festival of arts & crafts this weekend. We visited our friends Carla & Mark Mead who own black mountain jewelry company and were exhibitors at the festival. The are both equally wonderful people as they are talented. It was nice to see them as well as all the beautiful jewelry they create.Carla & Mark will be back in the phoenix area next weekend to exhibit at the artfest in scottsdale. If you live in the phoenix area this is a nice show to visit. It's at bit mellower then fountain hills and festivals with lots of creative eye candy!

Hudson loved all the music exhibitors "i like that" was his phrase of the day and he found some things to be just "beautiful". Ethan loved all the wooden toy exhibitors at the festival. I believe we stopped at each booth to admire the toys & puzzles and the boys came home with some cool low-tech wooden toys. We are all about simplifying and finding healthier toys these days so, Bert & I were happy to get Ethan the wooden helicopter (aptly named woody) and Hudson the little elephant. Unfortunately, Ethan broke the little wood piece above the propeller holding it in place this morning. I checked my bead box and found a wooden bead. I whittled away the bead hole with an extaco knife to make it large enough to fit over the helicopter dowel, glued it into place with non-toxic glue and it is as good as new (if not better! Bert & I agreed that the helicopter looks cuter now with the bead on top).


luna! hi luna!

"Luna! Hi Luna!" This is what little Hudson shouted out one night this week while looking at the moon. It was so precious. He sat on our outdoor swing and waved his hands up to the moon. "Hi Luna!" Both my kids have a random vocabulary of Spanish words thanks to the kid shows Dora and Diego. I love it! I enjoy learning the words too and we use them regularly.

The moon has been very bright and beautiful this week. I was wondering if it was a full moon because it was so bright. So, I looked online (got to love all this info at your fingertips) and viola! I found the U.S. Navy Astronomical Department website where you can type in the date and location and see Sun and Moon facts. Check it last night's moon.

Sun and Moon Data for One Day

The following information is provided for Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona:
13 November 2008      Mountain Standard Time

Begin civil twilight       6:31 a.m.      
Sunrise                    6:57 a.m.      
Sun transit               12:12 p.m.      
Sunset                     5:26 p.m.      
End civil twilight         5:52 p.m.      

Moonrise                   4:50 p.m. on preceding day
Moon transit              12:08 a.m.      
Moonset                    7:34 a.m.      
Moonrise                   5:41 p.m.      
Moonset                    8:48 a.m. on following day
Phase of the Moon on 13 November: waning gibbous with 99% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated. How cool is that! See the Sun and Moon data for your neck of the woods.


new painting: autumn leaves

I finished it! My autumn leaves painting is done. This painting spanned one of the longest time periods to date. I started it back in May and finally finished it this week - that's 6 months! Now, I haven't really been "working" on it for all that time. My studio is setup in my garage and being that I live in Arizona, come summer the conditions in my studio make it not very workable (aka it's HOT) . I started the sketch back in May and really waited June-October to begin working on it again. But, boy it seems like I have been "working" on this piece forever.

I created this piece for my aunt, she is also my godmother and very special to me. My relationship with her is one of my most cherished as a child and still today. My aunt requested a painting of any subject matter - her only request was that is used oranges and reds. I just love autumn and so I wanted to used those colors as autumn leaves. My fabulous husband says this is my best one yet (bless his heart - he says that after every painting I finish, thank you honey!). I am really happy with it - I hope my aunt and her family love it too!


take a hike

This weekend we went to Usery Mountain Regional Park. Usery Mountain Regional Park offers over 29 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Park trails range in length from 0.2 miles to over 7 miles, and range in difficulty from easy to difficult. We love taking the kids for a hike on the Merkle Trail.

If you are looking for an easy, relatively short hike, the Merkle Trail is barrier-free and stroller friendly. Plus, there is a playground located right off the trail. So, we can hike 1/2 way then stop and play for awhile and then continue the hike. It's wonderful! Our friend Craig (and Hudson's godfather) is visiting from Florida this weekend, here they both are riding the slide at the trails playground.

This picture shows a gorgeous view of the Superstition Mountains seen while hiking. The trails within the Usery Mountain Regional Park have enough elevation to offer spectacular vistas of surrounding plains. ahhh ... heavenly. I just love the Arizona desert.


weekly reflection

Drawing is a visual art that makes use of any number of drawing instruments to mark a two-dimensional medium. For this drawing i used colored pencils. The word 'drawing' is used as both a verb and a noun:
  • Drawing (verb) is the act of making marks on a surface so as to create an image, form or shape.
  • The produced image is also called a drawing (noun). A quick, unrefined drawing may be defined as a sketch.
The term drawing suggests a process and intent that is distinct from the traditional act of painting. While there are drawings that are finished artworks, drawing is often exploratory, with considerable emphasis on observation, problem solving and composition, often as a means of preparation for a painting. In contrast, traditional painting is often a means of execution or finishing an artwork. It is fair to note that modern painters often incorporate methods of drawing in their painting process, particularly in the early stages of a painting.

I was inspired to create this drawing by a pendant Rhianna was wearing in an ad. Of course her's was in all diamonds!


vote today and everyday

I VOTED. The energy surrounding this election is like nothing I have seen before, I have never been one for politics but, as I get older and have a family of my own I care more about what goes on in the world around me.

Everyday is voting day. We get to cast votes for many important issues on a daily basis. Everyday we vote with our hard earned cash. Are we we supporting conscious, safe, and sustainable companies and products? They way we shop, eat, live matters ... we are casting a vote in support of that product and that company ... are you voting for the people and things you want to be? I know I still have some work to do to truly vote they way I want to be. We have lots to consider every time we make a purchase ... we vote everyday for the world we want.

I just finished reading Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times by Zoe Weil in which the author speaks of how to strive to live with respect for our environment, all species and all people and make humane choices for ourselves, our children and our world.


never pull off the road

On Halloween night my 2 sisters along with 2 girlfriends were driving to meet my parents out at a local bar to celebrate. They were driving down a main road in the neighborhood we grew up in and were harassed by some guy in a white van with brown stripes. The guy screamed at them to "pull over" while stopped at a light. My sister continued to drive on and the guy began screaming psychotically at them to pull over. He drove was closer and closer to their car trying to push them off to the side. My sister had to jump the curb to get away and turned off the main road into an area of side streets. The guy continued to follow them at top speeds. One of their friends in car got the police on the phone who told them to immediately leave the side roads and get back onto the main road. After a few panic stricken minutes of chase my sister was able to lose the guy in the van at an intersection.

Luckily, everyone is OK. Unfortunately, they were unable to get a license plate #. Sadly, things like this happen. I am unsure if this was a very nasty Halloween prank or if some serious harm would have been done had he somehow cornered them. I shudder at the thought. This is why Halloween creeps me out.


happy halloween!

Mario & Luigi - Halloween 2008.

Okay I have to admit Halloween has been one of my "ba humbug" holidays. I love candy and sweets as much as the next person. And a good costume party can be fun sometimes. I know it's sounds wacky for a creative person to not enjoy dressing up and going all out on Halloween. And I do enjoy the dress up part but, honestly I have frightful teenage memories surrounding this holiday. Memories that include shaving cream, eggs, toilet paper, flour sacks and more. You see as I grew into my teens Halloween took a turn for the worst and I even stayed home some years to escape the torment that went on in my neighborhood after dark.

For the past 4 years (since I had my sweet little Ethan) Halloween is looking better. The kids so enjoy dressing up and trick or treating. I wish you all a frightening fun Halloween fill with more treats then tricks.


beading: natural

This is one of my favorite "go to" jewelry sets. It is casual, chic, super light weight and can be worn with black and brown. I created it out of natural wooden beads in varying sizes, swarovski crystal rounds in light colorado topaz, black seed beads strung on .019 diameter soft flex beading wire in original steel tone and finished the design with a simple hook & eye clasp and ear wires.


kids art: pumpkin pals

Ethan and Hudson's completed pumpkin pals

To celebrate the season, I hosted a Pumpkin Pals Playdate with the East Valley Hip Mamas Meetup group. Just in time for Halloween, the kiddos (ages 2-5 years old) decorated their own pumpkins. EVHM provided all the art supplies for this event, including a pumpkin for each child. Since this event was around dinner time, we had a Pumpkin/orange themed potluck dinner and the goodies were cheese dip and chips, orange chicken and rice, homemade mac and cheese, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cookies.

Hudson is in the zone.

Ethan contemplating what to paint on his pumpkin.

All 8 kids' pumpkin pals lined up to dry.