Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday, 11.29.16

In a complete clean-out of our house a couple of years ago, when we moved (and then moved back!), I got rid of lots of Christmas decorations. So much so, that it has been really hard to resist buying more. I've been pretty good, I have to admit, as last year, the only decoration I spent money on was live, cut greenery. This year, I only splurged on new stockings for the grandkids, since Target had a great sale on them after Thanksgiving. As a result, I realized that I now have six extra stockings. So... since it is Giving Tuesday today, I've decided to stuff those stockings with some handmade items that have been accumulating in my studio and distribute them tomorrow around Washington, MO as my long-overdue contribution to the Art Abandonment movement. Just "Pimpin' some Joy", you know?! You gotta do that sometimes, right?! With that in mind, I'm seriously considering some kind of "Pimpin' Joy", "Spreading Cheer", "Power of Positivity" type of challenge for the month of December. I'll be googling some things tonight, but I'm open to ideas, so if you have any that you want to share, leave a comment! 

Someone will be finding mini wall hangings, onesies and hand made washcloths in their stockings tomorrow :) If you are in WashMo, be on the lookout!

Have a great week!  Juli

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lately, 11.23.16


Making: Painting Operation Christmas Child boxes, making stress-reducing washcloths (stress reducing to make them, not to use them!), finally using the Purl SoHo yarn I bought over the summer to make a scarf for... MYSELF :) , leaf mobiles with my Adaptive Art class (they loved this project found on ArtBar blog)

Our version of the Painted Leaf Mobiles also included leaves covered with washi tape, then laminated. Sorry for the bad lighting :(

Boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Washcloths and scarves. Love these colors :)

Drinking: the usual...wine, water, coffee and tea, but really looking forward to some tawny port as the weather gets cooler.

Eating:  Whole Food take-out (highly recommend the cauliflower/almond salad and the roasted root vegetables).

Watching: Saturday Night Live (loving Alec Baldwin as Trump!) And, we broke out the holiday movies early the other night and started with National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Reading: Still plugging away at Carry on, Warrior by Glennon  Doyle Melton. Love it. And highly recommend it.

This excerpt is a must-read for anyone dealing with new family members, whether they are in-laws, step-parents/kids, etc. Such good advice that I wish I would have read years ago.  I love how the author compares life to weaving a rug. Great analogy, I think ;)        
Be simple. Be sophisticated.

Listening to:  The Sound of Silence by Disturbed, The Story I Heard by Blind Pilot (recommended by Colbey of the All Good Things in Life blog)

Thinking about: the concept of "shifting" and a few quotes that have meaning for me lately.

Always love Elena Brower's contributions to Instagram.

from soulseed Facebook page
Laughing at: these boys!

Love how this baby boy always wants to curl up in my lap.

... or not!
And how they laugh at every single, silly little thing I  make with their  Play-Dough :)

Loving: spending time with supportive, happy people

Celebrating M.'s 65th birthday.

And receiving yet another "Thank You"- this time from a student. My job, students and co-workers have definitely been a respite for me this year and I am SO thankful to have them.

Spreading Joy: sending 'Positive Notes' home to the parents of some of my really incredible students.

With What I Have:  I just have to point out, once again, how a little rearranging of the things you already have can give a space an entirely new feel. Last week, in preparation for making space for the Christmas tree, I rearranged our living room as I cleaned. Placing old things in new positions and doing a little editing and weeding out of unnecessary items was exactly what this space needed. Now we're ready for that tree :)

I'll leave you with another song- this one isn't new to me, but the lyrics are really resonating with me lately. (It's also a suggestion from Colbey of All Good Things in Life.)

Have a great Thanksgiving!  Juli

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Times... They Are a Changin', 11.8.16

I bet you thought this post would be about politics, huh?! (It's gonna be a crazy day out there!) I guess, in a way, it is. More like family politics, though. More specifically, it's about transitioning traditions. Or, traditions, transitioning. Oh, my. However you want to put it, it's not an easy thing.

My family is currently having to make some tough decisions about longstanding traditions as this holiday season approaches.  I'm sure we are not the only family having to navigate through changes that will affect the holidays.  So many things happen to all families over time. Maybe part of the family has moved away and it is just not logistically possible to be together. Maybe a divorce upset the routine. Maybe there was a death in the family. Maybe the family just grew apart. Maybe the family grew too large and it just doesn't make sense for EVERYONE to get together for one gathering. Or maybe it grew too large and there were just too many people with differing opinions and personalities and it's just not fun to be together anymore. Maybe it was a combination of all of the above. There are SO many things that affect a family over the years. Change is, ultimately, inevitable. One lesson that experience has taught me, though, is that change is not always a bad thing. Over the past 12 years, my kids and I have had to deal with divorce, death, the kids growing up and moving away and many new family members coming into the mix. We are all too familiar with change. It's not always easy, for sure. But it definitely isn't always bad and can, in fact, be a good thing. Even, sometimes, a wonderful thing.

For us, this year, change will lead to simplicity. Ahhhhhh. Simplicity. The older I get, the more of this I want. Even though I hate it that things have to change, I'm also really looking forward to having much more simple holidays. In any case, I'm just trying to focus on the good memories that were made with my family over the years and move on to focusing on the new ones, yet to be made.

What about you? How have you or your family dealt with changing traditions? I would love to know.

I've come across a few quotes on the subject lately, which help me stay positive :)  It makes the changes a little easier. Right?!


And a link to a song that says it all, really. Way beyond just changing family traditions. Listen to it here.

Have a great week and GO VOTE today!  Juli

P.S. Happy, Happy 76th Birthday to my dad today! Love you, Dad!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Going Home, 10.29.16

Going home.

I've always been a homebody. The idea of "home" has always been important to me, even as a kid. I was just telling a co-worker the other day that I was the kid who hated being asked to go to friends' houses for sleepovers because I just loved being home. I would find every excuse in the book to get out of going, even going so far as telling one friend, "Oh, my grandma is sick and we have to go visit her in the hospital, so I can't make it to your sleepover", which was a total, flat-out lie. (Sorry, Grandma! And sorry to that "Jesus-knows-when-you-lie", Jesus, who my mom made us very aware of at every turn!)  Another example, I used to clean all of the shoes, clothes and crap out of my side of my sister's and my closet so I could turn it into a little "home", complete with lamps, pictures on the walls, etc.  And I used to turn my pencil boxes at school into little "homes", with folded paper glued to the sides in various configurations to create "rooms" for imaginary little families.

Home, to me, is a place of refuge. A haven. My happy, safe and unguarded place. On first thought, it brings to mind a physical dwelling.  I consider myself lucky to have lived in the same house for the first seventeen years of my life. Since I left that home to make my own, I have called 10 different houses, "home".  Some were more special than others, but still, I gave each one of them my best effort to make them our "home". My husband, kids and I even set up camp in my mother-in-law's one car garage for six months while we built a house. Yes, it was a garage, but we transformed it into our home for the time we were there. When I think back on that time, I am reminded of a scene from Under the Tuscan Sun, where Diane Lane's character says, "Find one room and make it your own", as she finds refuge in one small room of her under-renovation, Tuscan villa. In other words, wherever you land, and whatever the chaos around you, find one small space to call "home", to be your place of refuge to escape from that chaos.  That garage was just one small space, but for six months, it was the only space we had that was just ours.

This house was our reward for living in a garage for six months. My kids and I are still homesick for this house. Lots of memories made there.

This, our current house, called us back home last year. We decided it was meant to be and have settled back in for the long haul.  Lots of memories made and yet to be made here.

But beyond the physical dwelling, there is another definition of "home" that should be considered. Home as a verb.


  1. (of an animal) return by instinct to its territory after leaving it:
    "a dozen geese homing to their summer nesting grounds"
    • (of a pigeon bred for long-distance racing) fly back to or arrive at its loft after being released at a distant point.

  2. (home in on)
    move or be aimed toward (a target or destination) with great accuracy:
    "more than 100 missiles were launched, homing in on radar emissions"
    synonyms: focus on · concentrate on · zero in on · center on · fix on ·

Some people don't have a regular, permanent "dwelling" that they can call home. What is "home" for the homeless? What is "home" for kids in foster care, or refugee families who are shuffled from one dwelling to the next? Sure, they can heed the advice to "find one room and make it your own", choosing any space, no matter how small or impermanent as a space to transform into a "home". But, I'm guessing that "home", to them, goes beyond anything physical.

I started really thinking about that after hearing this story on NPR's Story Corps. To this girl in the story and her siblings, who were taken from their mom due to her heroin addiction, "home" was, and is, their mom.

I'm very lucky to still have both of my parents. To me, they are still "home". We don't see each other often and we sometimes disagree on things and I'm sure if we were forced to live in the same house again, we would probably want to kill each other, but still, they are "home". They were the first ones who gave me a home and everything physical that I needed, they protected me, they took care of me when I was sick, they set boundaries for me, they taught me right from wrong and gave me the desire to work hard and do something good with my life. They have known me since the moment I was born. I am part of them. And I know that, no matter what, in the end, they are on my side.

That same feeling applies to my kids. To me, they are also "home". I was the first to give them everything physical that they needed, I protected them, I took care of them when they were sick, I set boundaries for them, I taught them right from wrong and  hopefully,  gave them the desire to work hard and do something good with their life. I have known them since the moment they were born. They are part of me. And, yes, we also sometimes disagree and if forced to live together again, we would probably want to kill each other, but in the end, they are my "home". And I hope that I am "home" to them and that they know, no matter what, in the end, I am on their side.

Being "home", whether physical or emotional, means being supported, protected and having a steady place to land.  No matter what. 

And on that note, I'll leave you with a couple of songs- Home by Philip Phillips and 93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz

I hope you are having a great weekend!   Juli

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy Due Date Day, 10.11.16

Happy Due Date Day to my daughter, Chelsi!  As I've discussed here before, my due date, when I was pregnant with her, was October 11, 1983. Well...she was in no hurry and waited until October 25, 1983 to make her debut. I spent most of my 17th year pregnant and had her two months before my eighteenth birthday. Yes, I was married and a mother before I was even able to vote, so you can imagine how tough it was to begin raising another human being before I was even a "grown up" myself, before I had any idea about who I was and before I had any idea about how to be a mother. (Back then, in the hospital, they offered classes before you took your baby home, such as, "how to diaper your baby" and "how to bathe your baby", etc. Needless to say, I felt the need to attend ALL of them!)  Somehow, though, with lots of support from Gary's and my family, we ended up with a daughter who is the most loving, thoughtful, caring, genuine woman we know. 

I say "we" because I know that even though Gary isn't here to show it or say it, he believed it. And even though he is gone, I have to believe that he somehow sees her putting flowers, flags and updated photos of herself, her brothers, her sons and her nieces at the cross where he died, at the change of every single season. And how she visits his grave and tends to the area around his memorial bench on every special day (and sometimes on just ordinary days) throughout the year. I have to believe that he knows how dedicated she is to his memory and how she will never let anyone forget who he was.

Sister, you have no idea the light you bring into our lives by your thoughtfulness and the way you are, in a way, a "mother" to all of us. It is what you were born to do and you are perfect at it. And you were most definitely worth the wait. Looking back on it, maybe you somehow sensed that giving your young momma a couple of extra weeks to prepare could only be a good thing for you! In any case, little did we know, on October 11, 1983, we were about to win the lottery.

Have a great week!  Juli
P.S. Our 'Little Man' (Colbey) has a blog! Check it out here

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lately, 10.8.16


Making: I have to say, my mind has been so completely occupied with other things and planning art projects for my students that I haven't been making much time for my own art. In the meantime, though, I am completely inspired by other artists :)

I have been chipping away at this tray, very slowly, adding a layer here and there, when I have time. I do have several "gift" paintings in the works, leading up to the holidays, so stay tuned for that!
Claus Oldenberg at Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis

raumlaborberlin: 4562 Enright Avenue at Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis

Some amazing ceramic work and weavings by my Adaptive Art students.

Drinking: Two Hearted Ale, Grenache and dark chocolate (which, when consumed together, tastes just like chocolate covered cherries! Have I mentioned that here before?!) and my very first Gin and Tonic, thanks to the newly 21-year old, Little Man.

Eating: M. and I have been splurging on really good cheese lately. If M. had his way, we would be buying the Feta, but since I think Feta tastes pretty much like vomit, we compromise on the sharp cheddar. We like the kind with those crunchy little bits in it ( I think this has something to do with the protein??)- SO good!

Watching: Real Time with Bill Maher, Yoga Is  (a documentary by Suzanne Bryant), Amos Lee

Listening to: more podcasts, which, lately, consist of Elena Brower and Seane Corn on Soul Feed and Good Life Project, Amos Lee, Paul Teodo (acoustic guitar) and another oldie, but goodie 'Wildfire' by Michael Murphy

Reading: Carry on Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Crisis is a gift. Love, love, love this.

Thinking about: Family. And how a crisis can sometimes make a family stronger and closer. And yet another crisis can completely turn it on it's head. And, how the only power you ever have in any situation is how you react to what is going on around you. And how, if you've reacted badly in the past, the only way to make it right is to own it, apologize for it, realize the lesson you learned from it and make it a point to respond in a positive way in the future. And how easy it is to, then, stand up, brush yourself off and make it your mission to turn a really crappy situation into a positive one. Because in the end, if  a family ends up stronger, wiser, kinder and more understanding of each other, then it will all have been worth it.

Laughing at: the Presidential debate last week. Oh, my! Looking forward to more tomorrow night.

1) This quote by Rick Warren ( and re-quoted by Seane Corn in the movie 'Yoga Is') :
"Find your wound and you'll find your purpose".
2) Watching the students in my adaptive art class interact with each other. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that for that one class period each day there is nothing but love and kindness in that room. It really is an amazing thing to witness.

3) My job. New administrators, new programs, new routines, etc. have completely transformed the climate at our school and I am seriously loving it. So far, this year, I have received three kind and encouraging notes from administrators, and it is not even the end of first quarter!

4) Spending the evening watching and listening to Amos Lee with two of my favorite people in the whole, wide world.
Amos Lee at The Pageant, St. Louis

5) And having a lunch date with another one of my favorite people in the whole, wide world.

6) And finally, I love the fact that I have so many things in this category that I have to number them!

Spreading joy: Currently in the process of sending out some kind and encouraging notes of my own.

With what I have: So, this is an embarrassing thing to admit, but when we moved back into our house last year, we decided that we didn't want to continue using our heavy, bulky antique bed frame and armoire. So we ended up pulling dressers from other rooms and putting our box spring and mattress on the floor, just for the time being. Well, guess what? The box spring and mattress are still on the floor. I've whined about it for over a year now and M. finally told me that he actually prefers it that way because we don't have to worry about our dog jumping on and off of it and hurting herself again (torn ACL a few years ago!). He had a point. So, although I still intend to get a legitimate bed frame, I am now looking for a platform frame that will keep the bed closer to the ground. Kind of bohemian looking, I guess. Right?! I like bohemian!  So... in the meantime, just to keep myself from whining about it, I pulled an antique bench from the living room and placed it at the end of the bed, then hung a wool rug ( a gift from my parents' trip to Mexico in the late 80's) tapestry-style, above the bed. Not perfect, by any means, but I think this will keep me happy for a while :)

Once the bench was taken from the living room, it left a bare spot. So... I bought two new end tables. But, even though they are new, I got a great deal on them. Originally 89.99 each and I got them for 26.98! They are a little quirky (gold finished metal with leather tops) and fit perfectly in my "happy place" on the 70's couch!.

My happy place- right there, perched next to that pillow, watching Netflix, blogging, drinking my coffee in the morning or working sewing projects. 

Have a great weekend!  Juli

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Choosing Joy, 9.14. 16

Lately, I am even more determined to turn stressful situations into positive ones. But, last night, I was sucked right back into anger, hostility and disappointment and ended up wasting valuable time with M. (the most patient man, ever!) and an ENTIRE nights sleep. What makes it worse is that it was just a tiny thing that set the negative thinking into a downward spiral.  Today, I am offsetting it by forcing myself to think positively. Jamey, my middle one, once told me that he actively chooses what to think about, so he chooses not to think about anything sad or upsetting. I remember, at the time, thinking, "What the heck? How do you do that?!" He must have gotten that from his dad, not from me! But, I'm finding, now, that it is a skill that you can learn with practice and it's one that I'm getting better at every day. I occasionally backslide, but it doesn't take me as long to bounce back to positivity. So, today, my goal was to  purposely spread some joy and I am happy to report that I feel much better because of it.

To keep that joy going, I am going to share a few Instagram accounts that make me very happy. Some of them might be repeats (sorry!), but they are just that good! They are:







@sarahmbivens (highly recommend her "Unleash Your Humble Badass" online course!)


All of these "Instagramers" have the same goal- to spread joy and inspiration. Scrolling through and spontaneously catching their uplifting posts never fail to make my day better. What could be better than that? It's CHOOSING joy, right?!

Have a great evening!   Juli

Monday, September 12, 2016

Lately, 9.12.16


Making:  I'm really motivated to finish this piece and am SO close! I'm thinking I'll be finished with the stitching tonight and will be able to piece it together tomorrow night. Fingers crossed that my schedule stays open. Then, onto the collaged tray that I started a couple of weeks ago. Both will be listed in my Etsy shop soon, so stay tuned for that!

Same scene, different beverage ;)

And... adding bindings to the weavings created by my Adaptive Art students. Loving those kids and the class :)    

 Drinking: See above photos :)  Lately, my happy places involve either a good craft beer or a good cup of chamomile tea. Obviously, relaxation is the ultimate goal, either way.

Eating: Less. My clothes are feeling a little snug lately, so I'm back to watching (not necessarily counting) my calories. Those of you who know me well, know that I have subconsciously counted calories since the age of 15, when I asked Gary (aka, Ruben J) if he thought I needed to lose weight and his response was, "Well, maybe just 10 pounds or so".  Oh, my! To a 15 year old girl, that was a serious statement. At that moment, literally, I started counting calories. And now, still, 35 years later, it is just second nature. (By the way, I ended up losing 23 pounds by the next summer and realize now that if I had gone to a doctor, they probably would have diagnosed me with an eating disorder. Very serious stuff. I just didn't realize it at the time.) FYI- the best answer to my question would have been "You're beautiful the way you are." ;)

Watching: M. and I have been really trying to find something new to watch, but have had no luck. Saturday chick flicks have included the movie 'Sky' (pretty good!) and 'Peace, Love and Misunderstanding' where Jane Fonda plays a hippie grandma and Catherine Keener plays her uptight daughter. Part quirky, part formulaic- but overall, entertaining.

Reading: Lots of good articles in my Happinez "publication" (aka- expensive magazine!) and getting ready to dive into "Generation iY" for a book study at school.

Listening to: new music recommended by Colbey (aka Little Man)- Grady Spencer and the Work. Love it! Also, I take music requests in my classroom and recent requests have included Michael Jackson, Conway Twitty and Billy Joel :)

Thinking about: The true power of social media. It can seriously make or break your mood, your day, your week, etc. and I think it should almost be considered a drug, of sorts. But, in this case, you are in charge of dispensing your own prescription ( I guess that would make it a street drug?!)- knowing what is good for you or bad for you, how many doses you should have per day and when to wean yourself off of it or alter your "prescription".  Hmmm... another weird analogy, I know!

Laughing at: One of my students, who sharpens (and uses) his pencils down to the very last, literal, nub. hahaha!

Loving: My time spent with these little guys. SO MUCH JOY... that I can't even stand it sometimes!

Uncle Colbey's 21 year old newborn binky to the rescue!! At 2am!

 And... my steadfast home companion- Olive (shown here with a fresh, new "hair" cut).

Spreading Joy: Joy was spread to me in a nice note sent from our Assistant Superintendent last week and from Colbey, the week before. By the time I write another "Lately" post, I will make it a point to have "Spread some Joy" to someone else.

With What I have: I needed more shelving in the studio and less in my kitchen, so I re-purposed the top part of this hutch (the bottom part is now our island), using it on top of my sewing desk. At some point, I plan to get some cute, coordinating storage bins. For now, it is just functioning as part book shelf, part sewing storage. But... it was FREE- from my kitchen!!

Have a great week! Juli