29 December 2011

roots and reality checks

Well there is nothing like finding out that your grandmother—one of the dearest people in your life—has an extensive form of cancer to snap you out of any bullshit sadness you may feel about where you think you are in your life. It is also a big reality check. We discovered that my grandmother has pancreatic cancer two days before Christmas, and it is far enough along to not be able to do anything about it. What a tough couple of days, but somehow spending Christmas day with my parents and grandparents in the hospital made perfect sense. There is a depth to what is happening with my grandmother and grandfather, that is so inspiring and so beautiful, it is hard to put it into words. I am thankful to have witnessed it all of these years. I am thankful to have some of those genetics in me. I am so grateful for all of the time I have already had with "Little Hun", and any time I will have. I am in awe of the strength she has always possessed, even now when faced with this.

The holidays do have a way of bringing you back to your roots. It is hard to be in a room full of your family and not be reminded of who you are, where you have come from, and where you are going. I needed that jolt back to myself, just in time for the start of a new year. It is also difficult to be faced with something as overwhelming and large as the illness of a loved one, and not use any time together to help and love each other.

19 December 2011

Maple-Soy Chex Mix

Holidays are not the same if there are no treats involved, right?! I am not the biggest fan of all of the sweets, but Chex Mix on the other hand, is one of my favorites! I found this recipe this year and have made it a few times already to give to friends and family. The seasoning for it is a good combination of that sweet and savory mix that is hard to beat! Thought I would share in case anyone needed an easy go-to for an upcoming party!

Here is the original link for the recipe. I found that halving it was a more manageable amount to make at one time. It made roughly two pans worth of mix. Here is the slightly altered version that I came up with!

Maple-Soy Snack Mix
6 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
2 cups cashews (I used the whole and halves mix)
1 cup almonds
2 cups pretzel sticks
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 - 1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 275ºF.  In a large bowl, combine the cereal with the nuts and pretzel sticks.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, maple syrup, soy sauce, and curry paste and bring to a simmer, whisking to dissolve the curry paste.  Pour the mixture over the snack mix and toss to coat completely.  Season generously with salt and pepper and spread on 3 large rimmed baking sheets.  Bake for 35 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times and shifting the sheets, until nearly dry and toasted.  Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.  (The snack mix can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  Recrisp if necessary.)

18 December 2011

little blue ring

my ring 
original image 

I stumbled upon this beautiful little blue ring one day while looking at some blogs, and fell for it so quickly I immediately "pinned" it! The original link for the source of the ring was no where to be found though. Bummer. Since then, I have found myself looking everywhere for this ring, or one similar. Online, at jewelry stores, even considered asking a jeweler if she could make it! And then the day came that I found it. It is so close to the picture that I pinned, I couldn't buy it fast enough. A little Christmas gift to myself!

Turquoise supposedly is a "healing" stone. There is also belief that it provides protection, strength, and good fortune to the wearer. I am fine with any of that being true, can't hurt I suppose! But mainly, I love that it is like a tiny blue moon on my hand. And the reminder to keep searching. Which strangely enough is the motto of 400 Moons:

"We surround ourselves with things that we love.
Objects that speak to our soul.
It may take us a long time to find each object,
but we keep searching until we do.

Even if it takes us many moons.

15 December 2011

"you took my joy, I want it back"

So… it turns out those stages of grief are real, and we cant really bypass them even if we think we have. Even if we think plenty of time has passed. Dammit. Looks like the whole depression stage finally caught up with me and has been lingering around me for the last month or so. I am just glad to realize it hasnt been a mental breakdown like I was beginning to think. What a joy-suckage depression is. Any peace or balance I was feeling, any understanding of a bigger picture or ability to overlook the day-to-day bullshit has been zapped completely by it. I dont think the cold rainy weather has helped, or the upcoming holidays, or stress at work.

All of this has manifested itself in a lot of daily frustrations and being pretty down on myself. It has made me reactionary, hopeless, and angry. There have been a lot of tears too. A lot of indifference and disconnect. The truth is, I am far enough away from all of the loss and complete 180 my life took over the last few years and it is so overwhelming that the only thing I can do is shut down. And while shutting completely down is not really an option for me, I have, for the first time in my life, been giving myself permission to not have to immediately get this figured out and learn some big lesson from it. I have given myself permission to say out loud that it sucks that all of this happened. And to not have to follow that up with BUT, I amgrateful for this, or I have learned this, or I understand this…”. No, I am mad and sad that all of this happened. Took me a long time to get here. BUT, (I know I just said I am not saying but…”) I am also over this grief sucking the joy from my soul, and while I cant make the process change or go faster, I can at least maybe take care of myself in the meantime.

I opened a daily email blast about two weeks ago, which lead me to an article, which lead me to the source for that article that was a book about maintaining an inner peace beyond all of our everyday stressors. Pretty sure I cried when I read further into this book! (I am not kidding about how on the edge of my wall I have been). The book suggests simple shifts in your thinking that can help. For example, before getting out of bed in the morning, state your intention for the day. Such as, I am calm. I am helpful today. To say it in the present tense affirms it. It also sets the tone for you day. I have also found that I can go to those words when a moment arises that might cause me to react negatively. Another exercise is while getting ready for you day, you anticipate moments that are ahead and you release them down the drain. There is another suggestion for when your brain is going a million miles and hour, spend a few minutes writing down your stream of thoughts. When you are done, take a few more minutes to go back and read over the thoughts from an observers perspective. This act can calm your brain and detach you a bit from any crazy thinking. There is a practice of singing "You Are My Sunshine" to yourself when you are at odds with a loved one. The idea is that it will bring you back to a reality that life is short and you should make the most of moments with your loved one while you can. That realization helps you put small arguments into perspective and let it go much more easily. 

I know I am not the only one who has ever dealt with anything like this, and I guess that is why I am sharing it on this blog. Of course I wish I were writing some beautiful take on Christmas and the holidays and all of the joys that they bring. And sure, I have enjoyed time with my closest friends, and I love the lights of my tree, and I cant wait to spend a long week in MS with some of the most important people in my life. Believe it or not, I have been listening to Christmas songs since December 1 and have been excited for the holidays! But the reality is, no matter if it is a holiday or any regular old day, we are all dealing with things that may not be ideal. Or that we wish we could change, and we cant just yet. And there are things around every corner, that if we allow them, will take our joy. I dont know about you, but when you are hanging on to any last thread of joy that you may have in your life, you cling pretty tight and find a way to get it back. I hope these little mantras and exercises actually will help in the long run. I hope that anyone else reading this blog might take something from it too. That "You Are My Sunshine" technique might actually come in handy over the next few weeks as we all cram too many loved ones into a short amount of time.

The title of this blog is taken from a Lucinda Williams song that has been running through my head. "You got no right to take my joy, I want it back. You got no right to take my joy, I want it back. You took my joy, I want it back. You took my joy, I want it back..." I have inadvertently turned this into a bit of a "mantra" if you will. It may not be envisioning worries going down a drain, but it sure does the trick in reminding me I am finally angry enough at the grief and sadness and stress and anything that else that does get in my way each day to keep me from the joy I am deserving of. Whatever works, right?!

24 November 2011

giving thanks

Thanksgiving will be a bit different for me this year. There will still be turkey, and dressing and cranberry sauce. I will gather with my friends this year instead of immediate family—although I consider them my “Nashville family”—and watch football and eat and drink too much, I am sure. There are also plans to get together on Friday for leftovers and visit with some dearly missed friends who will be in town. But this year, there will be a lot of time that will not be filled with family or friends or festivities. I will have a lot of time to myself. To work on a few personal projects, watch movies, cook, and just have some down time. This time alone is what I am most thankful for this year. Not because I don’t want to be around others, or because I even necessarily have to spend any time alone. It is because I have finally reached a place in my life where this is not a sad or difficult thing... to be alone some during a holiday... and to not be lonely at all. I am thankful to be where I am in my life, even if it is not quite where I wanted to be. And I am grateful for the strength and healing that God has given me.

I hope everyone enjoys the time they have with their loved ones gathered around, and the time you may have by yourself. Sending love and gratitude to all of those who are in my life and those who are no longer here. Happy Thanksgiving!

16 November 2011

a long time coming...

I posted back in August about the flooding, luckily minor flooding, that happened in my garage/studio, and that it caused me to get my space reorganized and cleaned up. I also mentioned that during the clean up process my worktable had finally given in and had enough. This prompted me to begin the search for something more than two tables pushed together and held tight with kraft paper!

The truth is I have been on this search for years. Long before I married E, moved into the house and slowly began to convert half the garage into studio space, I had been on this search. It began when I saw a table in a picture of a letterpress studio and I knew this was the perfect kind of table for me too. Plenty of flea markets, garage sales, odd furniture stores and online searches later, and still, nothing. In most cases, my lack of patience would have swayed me to just buy any table that would work, but I have learned that sometimes waiting for what I know is just right is a better option. Because the luxury of time was no longer available, and finding this perfect table was not happening, what else does a girl do but go to her daddy to see if HE can build it! My dad is not only handy, but also creative, and when it comes to solving something, well he is your man! It took a few hours of wandering around Lowe’s to find all that we needed, and then only a few more to get it put together. And before I knew it, years of waiting were over. This in itself is a great feeling, but having my father help me with it makes it even better! Trust me, I know that it may not be as complex or fancy as some out there, so why do I love it so much? Well, it is the perfect height for ME, it rolls, plenty of storage underneath, long enough to have multiple projects going at once, it is simple and utilitarian, and it was built specifically for me by someone who believes in everything that I will create here. Yep, I was right about this one—waiting was the better option.

06 November 2011

keep going

Flat Press Studio "Keep Going" print, silkscreen on found map

The last few weeks have been so hectic I have hardly had extra space in my head to work on any posts! We go through phases at the museum that become so overwhelmingly busy, it is hard enough to get the work for that day done, much less anything else that may be on the list. This will continue well into next year, so I have to just mentally prepare myself to keep my head down and stay focused. It somehow always gets done.

But work has not been the only thing keeping me busy. There has been plenty of live music, friends in town, and beautiful Fall weather to get in the way too. However, all of those things have helped me keep my life balanced.

30 September 2011


I am going with some friends to hear Wilco on Saturday night. They just released a new album on Tuesday, so I have been listening to it all week to be more familiar with what they will probably be playing at the show! I love Wilcoand am excited that this current album is returning a bit to some of their earlier stuff. Even though I have seen them plenty of times over the years, and have heard all of my favorite songs from old albums, I am secretly hoping they will bring a few of those back out this weekend. Here are two songs from the new album that I am digging. And then a handful from older albums that I can never get enough of!

I Might

Dawned on Me

You and I (with Feist)

Ill Fight

California Stars

Jesus, Etc.

Forget the Flowers

Far, Far Away (a little shout out to Ken Coomer on the drums! Look at that hair! Love it!)

Late Greats

22 September 2011

end of summer

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

(F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

I love that line life was beginning over again with the summer..” I love it because I relate to it. I have always felt that I was most alive in the summers. I was born during one of the hottest ones in Mississippi, so that might be why. With this Summer coming to an end, I cant really say though that I felt as if my life started over or anything. Maybe it is better to say that these last few months have been more focused on living and less focused on life ending. This is a bittersweet thing, but I have to welcome it.

Fall is pretty much here. I am already making pot roasts, turning the air conditioner off, and ordering fall flavored coffees for my Keuring! The Harvest Moon has come and gone and when we wake up tommorrow it will officially be Fall. I am slightly bothered by how quickly time is moving, but I suppose that is what I love about the seasons. The excitement as each new one begins distracts from how quickly a year can go by.

So I am saying goodbye to a summer that was quiet but eventful. I was blessed with relaxing evenings with friendsold and new, precious time with family, and plenty of projects to keep my creative side going. I had a chance to heal my soul by the ocean, and later wake it up in the city. There was a lot of time to myself (which I have finally settled into), as well as many opportunities to remind myself that I am fortunate to have so many cool people in my life. There is a fullness that has come from this Summer, that while not starting over, has been a gift of renewal.

16 September 2011

necessary days

Yesterday was one of those days that I have begun to refer to as “necessary”. These are days that whether they are good or tough, it is necessary that you walk through it in order to experience something specific. Yesterday was a bit of both. I have found that one of the most difficult things about losing someone is figuring out how to navigate a life that used to have that person so prominently in it. This is made even more complicated if you believe you still feel them around. Whether that is due to grieving, or because we need to tell ourselves they are still available in order to cope, or because you really do believe that we never really lose connections—the place that your brain and heart can go is a strange reality. I am a believer that we never lose connection. How this works is less important to me than knowing this as truth. The opposite of this is to be punched in the face with the fact that they did actually pass away and are no longer on Earth. I found myself teetering between both of these very real worlds. This space, in my experience, can be very uncomfortable.

The following bit of writing kept coming to my mind. I found it in August and had, for some reason, recently read over it again. The words “I am in the thousand winds that blow…and the “I have not left” were prominent in my thoughts all day. This would be because they were part of what made my day necessary:

"Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am in a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow. I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain. I am in the morning hush, I am in the graceful rush of beautiful birds in circling flight, I am the starshine of the night. I am in the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room. I am in the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing. Do not stand at my grave bereft I am not there. I have not left." —Mary Elizabeth Frye

A plaque was ordered months ago that will mark the time E spent walking amongst us. I received the call in the morning that it was ready. As I stood over the plaque, after months and months of waiting…”Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there” I picked myself up and continued through my day.

As I was leaving work and walking to my car I could not help but notice how windy it was. Unusually windy. Unusually bright and warm. “I am in the thousand winds that blow…. I am in the thousand winds that blow..” Is he?

On my drive home I noticed a crazy homeless man wearing a Gibson shirt. I recognized it as a promotional shirt that E had used during his time with the company. Because he was in charge of taking these to every event, we had ended up with a stack of them at the house. We used to laugh a bit when we would throw a few into our Goodwill pile and wonder where they would end up. “One day we will see some crazy homeless guy wearing these!” After a difficult day I was grateful for that reason to chuckle. Grateful for this specific reminder to laugh—specific to only the two of us. "I have not left." 

“I am in the thousand winds that blow…I am in the thousand winds that blow” and so maybe he is.

08 September 2011

old faithful shop

I really love what the folks at Old Faithful are doing. They have some great items in their shop and I love the simplicity of what they are focused on. If I am ever in Vancouver I will have to stop in!

While it sounds strange, I really love that little screwdriver! I find myself having to dig through tools more often than I would expect, and this little guy might come in handy to keep in a drawer nearby. That day-planner is beautiful! And possibly perfect for me, considering you can pencil in your own months and days. I just reached the end of mine, only I didn't know it because I had not looked at it in well over a month! Hmmm..very tempting!

06 September 2011

pottery class

I start a pottery class tonight. I am excited to get my hands back in the clay. I don’t expect much more from this class than getting reacquainted with the craft, and the wheel, and glazing, and maybe doing a bit more slab building than I did while I was in college. And also to be happy that I am now at a place to get started back down this road that I feel strongly will be a long one in my life. You may remember this post back in December, but the fact that pottery is one of the only real long-term goals that I have, still holds true. I don’t expect to be gray in the near future, so the pressure is off to have this figured out anytime soon. But I know myself well enough to know that it takes me some time to find my voice in anything, much less be at a place of really having something refined and understood. Here’s hoping that getting back on the pottery wheel is like riding a bike!

a few inspirational images from Pinterest:

Source: flickr.com via Emily on Pinterest

30 August 2011

life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans

"life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"
(John Lennon)

I have never been to New York City, so when a dear friend moved there recently I jumped at the opportunity to get up there and check it out! Little did I know I would be there during crazy Hurricane Irene! I am at least glad I got a rockin' deal on that plane ticket. Anyway, what was going to be a weekend of going to the Met and the Brooklyn Flea, shopping, seeing Sleep No More, and eating lots of great food; took a bit of a turn on Saturday due to the weather shutting down the city. And the reality is, while all of those things would have been great to cram into a four day trip, it was still such a fun weekend.

I can't complain too much, we did manage to make a ton of stops on Friday—Central Park, SoHo, 5th Avenue, Times Square (which was totally weird to me), Restaurant Row, and we ended the night meeting up with my friend Kath and heading to a karaoke bar on the lower east side. It was here that she got the next two days started by singing "Rock it like a Hurricane," which was possibly one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend! Once it was clear that we would not be making it over to Brooklyn on Saturday, or anywhere outside of Greenwich village for that matter, we settled into two days of slowing down and making the most of it. Which basically consisted of finding one of the few places in the neighborhood open to grab dinner, great conversation over a few beers while watching it storm outside, and marathon Bravo tv watching.

Turns out the trip had less to do with me seeing everything I could while I was there; and more to do with me stepping out of my day to day and reminding myself that I am, in fact, living. It is easy to get into so much of a routine that we forget that we are experiencing things every day. A city with something around every corner can wake you back up to this. So can a hurricane. And stopping long enough to spend time with people that are in your life. And not worrying so much about walking in the rain.

23 August 2011

estate sale finds

I spotted an estate sale over in the 12South neighborhood Friday afternoon, and am sure glad I did! $8 later I walked away with these lovely finds:

A little ceramic crock, a wooden letter opener, and a very old children's book.

The ceramic crock is probably meant to hold butter, but right now it is storing some muscadines that I got over the weekend just fine! I have been looking for a letter opener, but that is the kind of thing you don't necessarily go out and buy unless you have a really organized office...which I don't...so I snatched this up the minute I saw it! The wood detailing is really beautiful and I think it is pretty neat/convenient that there is a ruler on the blade. And this children's book that is filled with folk stories was one of those buys that my gut told me to move forward with. Not quite sure what I will ultimately do with it, but the pages are really old and not holding up all that well; so I thought I might save the good ones but cutting them loose and letting them stand on their own for framing and art. Perfect for a cool kid's room!

18 August 2011

when life hands you a busted water heater...

I woke up yesterday, jumped out of bed, ran down to the garage (which is really the laundry room, storage space, as well as my studio) to grab something out of the dryer, and “splash”… stepped right down onto a wet floor. My response was nothing worth mentioning on my blog, but you can imagine when I realized that the old water heater that had been hanging on by a thread, had finally given up and was busted. Anyhoo, a few hours and a new water heater later I was back in action. The clean up could have been MUCH worse, trust me, so I thank the good Lord above that I caught it before it really flooded. And anything of real value that was down there was bypassed completely by the water, so I have to send a shout out to him for that too! At the end of the day, the mess that I did have to clean up could only be looked at as an opportunity to get my studio back in action! And to get some things reorganized. However, as I was moving everything back in, the leg of my worktable definitely came off…just fell to the ground! Granted, this worktable consisted of two misfit tables pushed together and covered with kraft paper, but whatever, it worked. It is no longer working. Just like that danged water heater. So, I am now on the lookout for an actual worktable. A few years ago I came across a picture of one that I have been pining for ever since—long wooden surface on top, storage space below, and it was on rollers. I spent some time today looking around for some other ideas. I would love to make it or have it made vs. buying one. Unless of course, I found a really great old wooden table that called my name! So that whole "when life hands you lemons.." quote could play in here. Sure, I can't say I enjoyed yesterday's fiasco, but it did result in a clean studio and a much needed jolt to improve my work space. A space that really does me so much good.

Here are few that I came across:

Source: mnml.it via Vik on Pinterest

Source: readymade.com via Susan on Pinterest

Source: factory20.com via Amy on Pinterest

16 August 2011

painted floors

I love the look of a painted hardwood floor. Especially when it is a light color...say white or pale gray. It is a perfect solution for floors that are in bad conditon and would need some major refinishing. But lately, I have seen it in rooms where this does not seem to be the case. There are so many options for color and pattern that it has nothing to do with hiding anything, it is about enhancing a room. In some cases it is the focal point! Here are a couple of my favorites from Pinterest:

I also love the concept of a painted concrete floor. That is something I could do in my garage/studio!

Source: google.com via PJ on Pinterest

15 August 2011

crafty girls brunch

I have been blessed over the past year to reconnect, as well as meet, some close girlfriends who are crafty and creative. I love to look back and see how people come in and out of your life at all the right times, and the wealth of creative friends that have been dominate in my life lately are nothing short of necessary and perfectly timed. I am at my best when I am creating something, and most of the time it is the only real way that I heal and grow. To begin to have others to do that with is such a nice change, and has been something I have truly missed since I graduated college.

Yesterday I had a few of those girls over for a Sunday brunch—to enjoy a beautiful day, to spend some time together, to nosh, and to make something with our hands. Appropriately enough, we made friendship bracelets! Here are a few snapshots from the day:

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