Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Coffee, Tea, and Me

Coffee and tea are simple pleasures. Savored slowly or gulped down to charge up for the day, dark roasted or English breakfast, served hot or cold, a cup of this can amp us up or soothe our minds for a while. Here's my take on this treat:

Coffee, Tea, and Me

Coffee shared with a friend,
Both are warming to the core.

Hair-sticking-straight-up strong
Or a rich and creamy delight,
We add a pinch of sugar
To sweeten the pot.

We nibble crunchy croissants
Freshly baked and sinful,
Our heads nearly touching
As we share our gossip and news.

Giggling and grasping each others hands,
We pour another cup of vaporous brew.

Whether in gladness or sadness,
Silly or triumphant,
Or just letting off some steam,
I can always count on pleasures
From my coffee, tea, and you, 
           My friend.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mark Montano's Mermaid Bottle Art

Love mermaids? Do you have some cool empty bottles begging to be beautified? Check out Mark Montano's mermaid bottle craft on YouTube where he shows how to turn a naked bottle into a glamorous mermaid-inspired work of art. His entire library of videos are worth taking a look at for more inspirational projects. 

"Sea" what you can make!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Can See You Clearly

At some point, most people will need glasses to see better. Maybe just for reading, maybe for nighttime driving, or perhaps to see the world in crisp focus at all times. How wonderful to have this simple tool to bring clarity to our lives!

My creative writing class used a table of eyeglasses as its prompt. This is what I "saw"...


Whether nearsighted
Or farsighted,
I can see you clearly.

Tortoise shell
or wire framed,
Your face is always just right.

Dark tint, no tint,
Bifocal or monocle,
You are always in focus.

I may misplace my glasses,
I might sit on and break them,
But you are never forgotten,
Seemingly indestructible.

Right in front of my face,
Always on my mind,
Like my favorite eyeglasses,
I can see you clearly.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Shrinky Dink Butterfly Necklace

Mark Montano's Butterfly Necklace

I love making things with Shrinky Dink plastic. Never heard of it? It's a special "paper" consisting of large flexible plastic sheets which, when heated, shrink to small hard pieces without altering their color or shape. You draw, trace, or photocopy images onto the sheets, cut the images out, punch holes in them if you are making jewelry or something needing to be hung (think pet tags, wind chimes, key fob, etc.), then heat it by putting it in a toaster oven, conventional oven, or using a heat gun. This shrinks the image to about half its original size.The images retain their color and detail but in mini size. Super cool! 

These sheets can be found at most craft stores and online.

I've made bracelets, necklaces, and used them as decorations in my art journal. This is great fun for both kids and adults.
I used the photocopy shrink sheet and printed copies of some of my photographs which are now mini versions of the original!
There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube. Watch Mark Montano's butterfly necklace video where he shows how to make a fun piece of jewelry using Shrinky Dink plastic. The video includes a link to the butterfly images so that you can download the images and get busy! 

Mark Montano's link to his butterfly image sheet - ready to download!

Great things come in small packages, and it's true! Shrink your world one piece at a time!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Master Plan

The Master Plan

Time is marked by moments of happiness.
I say "moments" as life is not a continuum of joy and peace.

Thankfully not.

For, if our time here were only gentle and awesome,
We would never want to leave
For the Kingdom above.

Why should we if we have heaven on earth?
That is not the Master plan.

We are to know sorrow at times,
To suffer down deep,
In order that we may trust in relief,
Be consoled by faith,
Give thanks at all times.

Without sadness we cannot have gladness.
Thankfully so!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Selfie Journal Pages

Who doesn't make selfie pictures these days? I challenged my journal students to take the selfie craze to a new level by applying their head shots to magazine images. Tons of fun and giggles ensued when we found ourselves with new bodies whether human or animal or flowers. Or maybe the heads showed up in unusual locations like Nicole's face peeping out of a flower basket. 

Nicole in a basket
Print out some pictures of yourself, friends, and family, then thumb through some magazines for that perfect image. Crop your photo face close around the edges and glue it to the found image.

One student decided to draw a caricature of her face and designed a watercolor and washi tape portraiture. Super clever! 


This is a great project to do with the kids, to create fun greeting cards, or as a ladies art night adventure over cocktails! Where will your imagination take you? Want to be a giraffe? A sunflower? A mermaid or a rock? Now's your chance! It's a whole new you!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Treasures Of The Heart

Hearts are the life force of all beings. It ensures that the body gets what it needs to survive. It can fail at times, both physically and spiritually. We should do what we can to feed it in order that we may be healthy and strong.

This poem was inspired by a grouping of lacquered boxes.

Treasures Of The Heart

Like a small box,
My heart holds secrets and shame,
Pride and purpose,
Light and love.

As with a key
I keep some of what is stored inside locked away.
It's just between God and me.

There are drawers that slide open with ease
Ready to release the laughter and joy,
The sorrow and sympathy, 
The anger and confusion.

With felt-lined pockets
I lay my soul within.
It is safe here.
I have room enough for you.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Put A Cork In It

With the 4th of July approaching, I thought it would be fun to create a craft project that would be a nice nod to the holiday but would also be attractive as a year-round wall decoration. 

I introduced this idea to my craft class and they got busy gluing corks to wood bases that they brought in like trays, bulletin boards, and round wood slices. I found a great oblong wood slice at JoAnn's to use as my base. I really liked the interesting bark edging on this slice which gives the final creation a nice look.

Here's how to make this:


  • Wine corks - I used 64 corks for my project but yours will vary depending on the size of the base you use
  • Oblong base - wood slice/board, very heavy cardboard, bulletin board, wooden or acrylic serving tray, etc. My wood slice is about 10"x13".
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Red, white, and blue acyclic paints
  • Paint brushes and water pots
  • Hacksaw, serrated knife, or scissors (optional)
  • Twine or fabric ribbon (optional)
  • 1 - 2 picture hooks, hammer, and nails (optional)

  • If your flag will be hung on a wall, hammer 1 or 2 picture hooks to the back of your base.
  • Tie the twine or ribbon to these hooks long enough for a nice drape from another wall hook.
  • Arrange corks on the surface of your base in a pattern that appeals to you.
Nicole's wooden tray 
  • Using the hacksaw, carefully cut each cork in half lengthwise. This is an optional step. It took me several hours to cut enough corks for all of my students projects. ugh! I did this because I thought the corks would sit better and looked nicer but skipping that step and just using the whole round corks turns out great too.
  • If you find that there's a space at the end of a row that you don't like, carefully use a serrated knife, scissors, or the hacksaw to cut a cork to the size that will finish the row evenly. In my case, I liked the uneven row edging so I didn't worry about cutting cork end pieces.
  • Use the glue gun to adhere the corks to your base.
Lin's bulletin board base
  • Once this is completed, decide whether you like the natural look of the corks or if you want to use the paints to add the traditional flag colors to your piece. For a light wash of color, add water to a bit of acrylic paint before brushing the color to the cork. The corks have such interesting words and images that the water downed paint allows the cork artwork to peek through.
  • Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Your finished piece can be hung on the wall as a holiday or permanent decoration, used as a hot plate, or bulletin board. Make smaller ones to use as drink coasters. 

Come up with your own designs and uses for your new cork creation then celebrate in style!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

This weekend is the Contra Costa County Fair. I have never been to this fair before but when the call for artists came up to enter projects for display and judging, I jumped on the opportunity. I entered a number of my framed photographs, a watercolor mosaic, and a couple of my poems for the fun of it, and who knows, maybe I'd win something along the way.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the opening day of this fair. We strolled along the grounds, watching kids ride ponies and roll around on water in giant gerbil-like plastic balls (I really wanted to do that but was afraid I'd sink the ball if I got inside). We toured one building and saw the floral and food judged entries, another building that displayed children's artwork and I loved that every piece won a prize. Kids' artwork is so very clever - no restraint, no fear, just beautiful outcome. As an adult artist, I would love to tune into that childlike passion and feel the freedom to create without inhibitions.  

Next, we moved on to the arts and crafts building. Beautiful displays of watercolor paintings and collage, sculptures, quilting, and poetry. We wandered from display to display in awe of the talent in the show. 

As we walked and gawked, we came upon 12 of my entries that were judged and on display. I felt such joy seeing my pieces on exhibit amongst all the other artists works. Of the 12 pieces, 4 of them won ribbons - 2 poems, one watercolor, and one photograph! Woohooo! It was so exciting and I felt very proud to have had this acknowlegement from the judges. 


The 2 poems, "Life - What A Party" and "Life's Badges" are posted here on my blog.

What next? These pieces and 16 others will be entered in the Marin County Fair which opens June 30th. I just can't stop! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Life - What A Party!

It can be difficult to feel hopeful when there is a great loss. Sorrow and pain are natural in life. We are not alone. After a time, we must stand again and let go of the grief because there is so much more to cherish and celebrate before and ahead. As Dolly Parton said, "If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain".

My poem was inspired by Joan Fleming's poem "The Party", included in Ann Hisle's book, "My House Burned Down and Now I Can See the Stars". Her book is about life's losses and finding hope and inspiration. 

What a party!

It's an event we often forget to celebrate.

Instead of shuffling our feet,

Keeping our heads down low
And shoulders bent over with pain,
We should be dancing in the streets
With our faces pointed towards the sky.

Let's give thanks!

Live without regrets,
Forget our failures,
Let go the woes,
Release the tension,
Unbind what ties.
It's only in our heads.

Strut your stuff,

Wear your finest,
Laugh whenever you can.

Act a fool

And ignore the naysayers -
They're not having fun.

It's your LIFE!

How will you spend it?
What time will you have?

I say - party on!