Holiday Crafts – Sale at Michaels

What kind of holiday wreath can you create on a budget? If you have $3 – $5, you can buy a simple (undecorated) wreath at Michaels crafts stores, and decorate them with whatever you have on hand. Add another $5 (or so) and you can have a wreath that looks like the one above.

That’s one of Michaels’ $10 wreaths, currently on sale at $5. It’s big.

I also bought a pick of white flowers and a small vial of shiny ornaments – both at 50% off. The total cost, including Florida sales tax, was about $12.

I snipped the wires in the flowers so I could weave them into the wreath. (Yes, I’m going to move one of the flowers… it’s not quite where I’d like it.)

Then I hot-glued the ornaments in place.

It may not be my most creative or original wreath ever, but this year I’m focusing on handmade gifts for family, as well as my collage work. So, for the time and money, I’m pleased with this wreath, and wanted to share it with you.

Happy holidays, merry everything!

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2020 – The Year We Decided: The Future is Art!

During 2020, many of us have had time to pause, reflect on what we’re doing (and not doing), and make different choices.

Like me, you may find your deepest self-expression in art, whether or not you’re ready to describe yourself as an “artist.”

Suddenly, creativity is emerging from our hearts and our souls. That artistic voice is announcing to ourselves – and perhaps the world – who we are.



With something to say.

We’re saying that in our art journaling, scrapbooking, drawing and painting, decorating, and more.

We’re using pencils, paint, paper, canvas and cloth, digital resources, and “found art” items.

We’re coloring, reorganizing, and redecorating.

We’re simplifying. Focusing on what brings us joy.

We’re creating journals, wearables, objects d’art, and… well, lots of things we don’t have words for. Not yet, anyway.

This is about US… who we are, inside. The things we want (or need) to say.

And this is tremendously healthy.

Our future is ART!

Celebrate it!

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Finding Creative Time & Space – Rice Freeman-Zachery

Lost your artistic mojo? Not sure if you’re a “real artist”?

It’s time to get back in touch with your creativity.

Pour yourself a cup of tea and curl up with this video.

Rice (said “REE-suhh”) Freeman-Zachery is a long-time friend and a continual inspiration. She’s found myriad ways to build her successful art career.

All you need is one good idea to spark your interest, or even your enthusiasm.

Listen to Rice’s Google talk about creativity. She says some very important things.

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Art and Inner Critics: Danielle Krysa

Have the critics – including that inner critic – worn you down? Do you just want to curl up in bed and sleep, utterly overwhelmed by “impostor syndrome”?

If you’re fighting the snarky critic in your head (or maybe a few around you, in real life or online), Danielle Krysa’s TED Talk is powerful, and – admittedly – kind of painful at times. Watch it anyway.

And here she is, in her studio. I love the honesty in this.

She has an intriguing blog: The Jealous Curator/blog. Go see it.

Danielle also records podcasts with fellow artists & creatives. So far, she’s recorded over 150 of them, which you can access at “Art for Your Ears.”

Of course, if you’d like to see her books… well, she has lots of them for and about artists. Some are advice. Some are insights. Some are how-to. Here’s the Amazon link: Books by Danielle Krysa.

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Notes on Tidying Up – A First Pass with KonMari

Life-changing magic of tidying up - KonMariLike many people, I’m working my way through “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up…” by Marie Kondo, also called the “KonMari” process. It’s about decluttering, and surrounding yourself only with things that bring you joy.

The process has been astonishing, and I’m still early in the process.

The following is this morning’s observation, which I shared elsewhere (in social media), but… well, you may enjoy this, too.

Clearing out, I keep stumbling onto things I’ll like but I know I’ll never use.

Or, an item that’s long past its “use by” date in the real world, but I’ve had the idea that “I might need this someday.”

Or, the reason I bought it…? Now, it’s LIGHT YEARS off my current and projected creative trajectory.

But, I’ll be honest. Letting go of the item is, on a small scale, kinda-sorta like a divorce.

The breakup itself can be difficult (or not), but the REALLY excruciating part is: letting go of the original dream.

You know… that “ooh, shiny” moment when I acquired whatever-it-is. The idea that it would be the coolest thing EVER, when I used it for… something. Often, that was some specific event or project that was part of an even larger, future vision.

And then, my life swerved in a different direction.

A direction that made more sense and turned out pretty darned cool, and I do NOT regret it.

But each new adventure on that path took me even further from the earlier vision.

So, a lot of the stuff I’m letting go of now… it was part of a rosy, “what if..?” dream. But that’s in the past.

Often, the swerve in my life happened for an external reason.

It’s WAY too easy to blame it on someone who really DID stand as an obstacle in my path, at that point. And he or she really WAS a jerk.

But, jerk or not, my life went in a different direction. And I had fun anyway.

Probably a LOT more fun than I might have had, on the previous path.

Still, some of this process is like a divorce. And it’s FAR to easy to want to hold onto that old dream (and that related, old grudge)… IF I let myself do that.

The process isn’t easy, but it’s healthy. And, by releasing those mini-anchors to the past, I’m allowing myself to move forward with less holding me back.

For me, THAT’s what this is about.

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What’s on Your Desk?

Aisling's computer desk - 20150901Following the lead by K. M. Weiland ( and encouraged by my friend Nanette Day  –  I’m sharing a completely un-staged photo of what’s on my computer desk this morning.

(My current “art desk” is my bed. I have stacks of paper for drawing, plus a silverware drawer insert – $2 from IKEA, but you can find similar ones at Target, Walmart, etc. – filled with pens, pencils, paintbrushes, etc.)

Anyway, here’s what’s on my writing/computer desk and (at least partially) shown in the photo:

1. Computer (bearing a Honeydukes sticker from the Harry Potter shop at Universal Studios theme park), printer/scanner, and monitor.
2. One mic, plus one headset with its own mic.
3. Two pens, four thumb drives, a calculator, a portable hard drive, and a spare USB hub.
4. Two bottles of vits and a glass of water.
5. Lots of papers: My daily to-do notebook, and yellow, lined pad for notes. Notes from said yellow pad.
6. A printed page from my upcoming coloring book, still in progress.
7. Last but not least: A white mouse from IKEA.

(If you’re just desperate to see everything in detail, click on the photo for the 800 x 600 pixels version.)

Since I’m incredibly busy right now, it’s a minor miracle that my desk is this tidy.

I decided to post this since it’s kind of in line with “Real Professional Qualities,” my somewhat sarcastic article from Professional Quilter magazine, March 1986 issue.


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Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree – 2012

This year, we chose some real, alternative Christmas tree options.

We had two trees in our living room. (I’ve always preferred to have more than one tree for the holiday season.)

One “tree” was actually a bunch of small branches, arranged in a large glass jar, so they looked like a small Christmas tree. I’d picked up those branches at a nearby Christmas tree lot, where they had a stack of extra, odd-shaped branches in a pile to go to the trash.

We decorated that arrangement with all the normal Christmas-y things, including a lot of small, sparkly, multicolored ball-type ornaments. The size suited the small scale of the tree design.

To visitors, it looked like a normal, small (2 – 3 foot tall) Christmas tree.  We liked re-purposing discarded branches to create it.  It felt very “green,” on several levels.

Our “Charlie Brown” Tree

Our other tree involved some serendipity.

Aisling's 'Charlie Brown' Christmas tree 2012.I was out for a walk, and noticed a wonderful, large branch by the side of the road.  It was about four feet tall, and I think it had been pruned from someone’s pine tree.

I brought it home and found a really large, gold, globe-type ornament to hang on it.

(It drooped, naturally.  It’s the way the branch had curved on the original tree… it’s not sagging or anything.)

The effect was almost exactly like the little tree in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

I propped it against the wall, in a shallow bowl of water.  It lost absolutely no needles during the holidays, and it’s still pretty soft & flexible, now.

This afternoon, I’m taking this little tree and our jar of branches to the nearby woods, so the branches return to nature.

These were among my favorite Christmas trees ever, and no trees were killed (or money spent) to enjoy them in our home.

I think this is the beginning of a tradition in our home, and it just sort of happened this year, because I wanted a couple of small trees that fit the size of our apartment.

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Start with Why – Simon Sinek

Swing set, emptyYes, this site is resuming its original purpose, as an online diary.  After all, that’s where this all started, back around 1995 before the word “blog” was even in use.


Last night, I watched the Simon Sinek interview on Fresh Take (BYU-TV).  It was probably the fifth time I’d seen it.

On previous viewings, I just couldn’t seem to find a single, illuminated, happy childhood memory.  I could look at times when I was generally happy.  I could recall incidents in which I started out happy, but they ended Very Badly. (Like the time I went out with my little notebook, deciding to be a poet.  And, lost in thought, a few blocks from home, I was attacked by a dog. Seriously.)

But… a single, early, happy memory…?  Nope. I kept coming up with nothing.  It was kind of depressing.

After that, I watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk.  That added even more clarity to the process.

That’s when I took out a lined, yellow pad of paper.  It’s what I like to journal on, when I just need to write and vent, and write some more.

I started writing down every happy childhood memory I could think of.  And, along the way, I remembered my grandfather showing me how striking one tuning fork could make another one hum.  It was a moment of awe, mystery, and delight.

I remember sitting at the back row of the movie theatre with my mother, watching Fantasia for the third or fifth or eighth time, and getting caught up in the fantasy and magic of it. (Mum was sketching ideas for her upcoming Fantasyland board game design.)

I uncovered several more, happy memories, and I found myself writing:

“Wonderful, magical things are everywhere, if you just look for them… and believe.”

Then I wrote:

“Magic and delight as a path, not a destination.”

Wow.  That was absolutely illuminating.

I thought about magic — Disney magic, that is — and how it influenced my childhood and my adult life.  I thought about faith: the belief and trust in things unseen.  I thought about optimism and happiness, and how important that is.

And, I realized that I was pretty far off-course.

Mr. Sinek talks about one “why”… one thing that connects everything that gives your life meaning… everything you do, and love.  Mine is about creativity, personal magic & delight, and miracles and beauty.

When I look at what I enjoy most, and what I want to share with others, it all comes down to that.  Everything else is just noise.  It takes me off my path.

I made a list of the things that can restore that happy, wonder-full vision of life… visual cues, music, books and movies, and even fragrances, that remind me of childlike delight and fantasy.

Along the way, I found myself getting a little sniffly. It’s like I found something that’s been lost (and badly missed), for years.

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Advice for Artists – John Cleese on Creativity

In a 35-minute video, John Cleese – who, as part of Monty Python, has been one of the 20th century’s most innovative, creative people – spoke about minutes about creativity.

Unfortunately, the video vanished, online. Looking for it again in late 2020, all I could find were “removed for copyright infringement” notices.

Meh. (I’m tempted to rant about copyright hoarding at the expense of creatives, but I’ll skip that… for now.)

This may be a clip from it:

I’m glad I’d taken notes. Cleese made some very good points.  Sure, he’s been a little silly, excessively political, and downright pompous at times.   However, I like it when he says things like:

Creativity is not a talent. It is not a talent. It is a way of operating.

…It’s not an ability that you either have or you do not have… it’s an ability to play.”

Thanks to Robert Genn‘s Painters Keys for suggesting this. In his related post, Genn said…

“To be creative we need five conditions,” Cleese says. “Space, Time, Time, Confidence and Humour.” Yep, “Time” comes twice.

In other words, Cleese stressed the importance of time… not just productive time, but time that’s necessary to get that open space in your mind.

To someone else, it might look like you’re doing nothing, or nothing of importance.

However, it’s one of the most essential parts of being creative, and allows you to cast off the limiting and distracting thoughts that stand between you and that necessary, open space.


If you find that 35-minute video online, let me know. It was a gem.

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