Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Haiku - Patterns

Monday Haiku

Theme: "Patterns"

Taken on Lover's Path in the Cinque Terra in Italy

Lemon mist wafting
between tangled wires and mint
Prisoner of spring

Laurel. Write a poem

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Calgon, Take Me Away!

Magpie Tales

 Mag #115

image by Manu Pombrol

Wall Street was merciless this week. Joe left his briefcase on the floor amid the Lego's and Barbies. "Idiot CEO," he muttered to himself. His prize Hermes felt like a noose, cutting off circulation to his soul. He bypassed the kitchen where wondrous smells and cheerful humming filled the air. "I can't breathe," under his breath.  He stared into nothingness as the hot water filled the tub. As he slipped into the warm womb of comfort, he ignored the cat scratching at the door.  The baby cried. "Now, where was I," as he flipped through the pages of his Harlequin.

Catch other prose and poetry on this Sunday's photo prompt on Magpie Tales.

Laurel. It's a good book!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Joyous week

I think I'm busier in retirement then I ever was crunching numbers, forming subsidiaries, teaching investing and running health plans. In those days I never seemed to have enough time to do anything creative and I was stressed out all the time.

It's been over four years since I said adios to the corporate world, and though there is a never ending list of things to accomplish, the list of stuff is fun and gratifying.

And I had an awesome week!!! For my bank account, not so much...


I went to a CAbi party.  If you don't know CAbi, it a line of clothes by Carol Anderson that she markets at showings in homes.  Carol got her start designing dresses for Nordstrom, and everyone I knew had a Carol Anderson dress.  Anyway, her clothes are very trendy these days, and I am a sucker for them at her twice yearly showings.  The best part about a CAbi party is that you can try everything on before you buy, with your friends standing by with their critiques!

See Cabi stuff at


I knitted with my group.  We meet at a coffee shop and sit in a giant circle and sip and knit...and of course, talk, share, show and tell, teach, laugh, etc.  I love these gals!  I'm working on a top for our road you think it will go with those CAbi pants I bought? The yarn is made from sugar cane.


I had an appointment with Brenda Azevedo at Just B Cosmetics to have some custom makeup made just for me! It was amazing watching her make my foundation and lipstick.  And I really appreciated her makeup hints and application techniques. These fabulous foundations, pencils, lipsticks, eye shadows, etc. are more economical than the Lancome and Chanel products in the department stores and they don't have a lot of "extra" ingredients...just stuff that's good for your skin! If you live in the Sacramento region, make an appointment!



I took a class from Laura at my favorite vintage shop, The Vintage Bricoleur, on making flowers.  I had seen these adorable vintage rose pins at the shop, and Terry, the owner, let me know that there was a class if I wanted to sign up.  Bottom line, the flowers were easy to make and I had a wonderful time sitting around the table, talking and laughing. Are they not just the sweetest things?

And Friday?

I FINALLY BOUGHT A DRESS FORM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have been wanting a professional dress form for years, but the really nice ones are a little pricey.  I did a lot of research into various models on the Internet (I even blogged about a hilarious customer review about a particular brand of dress form).  I considered the cheaper ones that they offer in the local fabric stores. But being hooked on Project Runway, I wanted the "real" dress form that the designers use. So yesterday, I broke the bank and went for it!

What a great week! Can't you just see me now...all made up, flowers in my hair, fabulous lemony jeans with my hand knit sweater on, huddled over my sewing machine making a fabulous new outfit that I designed on my new "doll", as the hubby calls it.  Guess I'll have to name her.

I'm accepting suggestions...let's do a contest.  You pick the perfect name for my dress form and I'll send you a flower!!!  LOL!

Laurel. Life is good!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The "New" Customer Service...

In case you missed this post in 2010:

You all know I love shopping, but I would rather eat dirt than shop for underwear. I would have appreciated a little help on my last bra-buying escapade....not so, little grasshopper:

It is widely accepted in the world of lingerie that you can't hold up D's in a strapless bra. But for those of us who hadn't figured that out yet, we head for the store that houses the largest selection of lacy little pretty "nothings", the Bra Mecca of the Free World, Macy's.

Italians love their underwear!
As we glide up the escalator to the third floor, we are confident that somewhere in the maze of wall displays and spinning racks of Wacaols, Maidenforms, and Lilyettes, we will find some kind of structural underpinnings to enhance our menopausal figure. And because taking off your clothes in a 2 X 3 foot mirrored closet is abhorrent to most women, we have put off this fun shopping experience to the very last minute. We need that bra NOW, TODAY.

Remember when department stores actually had people to help you find what you came looking for? Macy's used to be known for their customer service years ago, but somewhere in the shrinking economy, point-of-sale computers, and people who won't work for minimum wage any more, finding help is like looking for water in the Sahara. Yea, I know..."go to Nordstrom - they will even fit you!" Nordstrom, however, is 8 miles away and we don't have time...and surely in the middle no less than 3,598 bras, we can find one over the shoulder boulder holder that will work.

After about 20 minutes of wandering aimlessly and combing through the AA's and B's, pads and foams, wires and straps, a sweet little sales lady bearing at least 50 bras dangling from her arms and around her neck asks in broken English if we need help. Upon explaining our frustration with finding sizes, we are dismayed to learn that she will have to go to her computer to see if we have one "that big"...which of course is 100 yards across the department. She totters off and we dive back in. By the time she comes back we have already located the one and only D in that model, which she sweetly verifies. Thanks.

So into the Hall of Mirrors we go, armed with our selections. And because strapless bras must fall down all the time (we don't know this, because we've never owned one), they are made with all kinds of weird feeling rubber and heavy duty elastic bands that look like they would hold up the spans on the Bay Bridge. Getting into one, much less than getting it hooked is a feat that would make even Houdini cringe. While wrestling the thing off the hanger, amid groans and deep breaths, elbows banging on the closet, another little sales lady knocks on the door..."are we okay??" We ask for a bigger size, but to our dismay, she is only the hanger-upper of all castoffs left in the dressing rooms. We put on our clothes again and forge out onto the floor again. This process goes on and on and on...four, maybe five trips back and forth to the closet.

It's a miracle! We find one that will hold up our voluptuous figure. Frazzled and tired we head for the "Customer Service" counter for our purchase. "Oh, you found one", she exclaims giddily. Yes, and thanks again for your help. "Can I put that on your card?" Just coming off the heels of a bad card experience in Sears at the other end of the Mall, we are not inclined to drag out our plastic again. "No, a check". Who said that? A check?

Not having written a check in 10 years, we assume that it just as easy as it used to be and she should be able to handle it quickly. Write the amount, sign, show ID, and you're out of there, strapless D's in hand. Not so, little grasshopper. Even though the sales associate ( that's what they call them now) can see me - I'm right in front of her - and the picture on the ID even looks like me, and the signature matches my driver's license, and I have 50 other forms of identification and a Macy's account, the computer needs an authorization code to complete the sale, and my sweet little sales lady with less than perfect communication skills must call the giant Macy's Customer Service in the sky.

We are not normally a belligerent person, but we have just spent an hour wrestling bras in a closet, gotten dressed and undressed one too many times, and we are sweaty and already late for an afternoon party (where we plan to wear our new strapless D's). And like Sears down the Mall, the person on the other end of the Customer Service line must have a communication problem, cause neither of these two know what the other was talking about or what to do next. When she finally gets the magic authorization code, she hands us our receipt and proclaims blessings on us for a wonderful "rest of the day" and to "stay cool". But we are still reeling from the entire experience and using our inside voice, we want to know (right NOW!) why the need for the authorization of our personal check. It's only $35 for crying out loud - It's not like we are purchasing the Hope Diamond. "It's for your protection - you make sure you are who you say you are.." Are you kidding? Like she can see us through the phone, honey?

Maybe and 8 mile drive to Nordstrom would have been just as quick. In a bit of irony, we proudly modeled our new purchase under our cute little cami-top, the hubby looks and says..."I don't see a real difference, honey - I thought you looked just fine without it." That is all we need - off with the rubber contraption and let the D's be free!

Laurel. Loving Soma these days...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fickle Spring

You left me again
You teased me with your sunshine
lulled softly in green 

See other fine offerings on This or That Thursday.

Laurel. Haiku-ing in the rain.

Drop by my other blog to post your photos - It's a link-up place for those days when you just want to post a picture: Photo Not Included

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shops I Adore, Part 3

From the time that I started creating and designing in all my art forms,  I always wanted to be a shop keeper of sorts. I imagined having a little boutique filled with all the things that I created - jewelry, clothing, aprons, batiks, paintings, purses, pillows and everything in between. I would call it Laurel Leaves, which incidentally became the name of my jewelry line today and was also the name of my hippie dresses that I designed and sold on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley back in the 60's.

I never to seemed to have enough confidence to make my dream a reality, but opted instead for corporate America. I spent my weekdays crunching numbers, and my weekends creating, ever dreaming of more beautiful "Victoria Bliss" kind of lifestyle. Somehow, I knew I would be good at it, but the gumption to take that leap of faith and put my money where my mouth was never materialized.

Perhaps that's why I am a such a good window shopper. And no small wonder that my favorite places to shop are the little boutiques that I dreamed about owning all my life. I am content to just take photos of all the pretty stuff.

Like Ambiance, a little shop near Trader Joe's in my neighborhood...

When I see jewelry in a shop, I always wonder if they would like to sell mine...but I never ask.

I love these quilted aprons...she has a new selection every season. I make aprons...I

Love these candlesticks!

I would have done this vintage thing in my shop...

I coulda made these....Hel-Lo!!!!

Shabby Chic stuff intrigues me, but I don't have any...hubby's not too keen on "cute". 
But isn't this cute???

Adorable little leather belts

Don't these blossoms look real???

I love to revisit Ambiance often, as things are always different and so artfully displayed. The thing about owning a shop like this is that it requires commitment.  My financial brain says, you have to work hard, seven days a week, 24/7, to survive in this stingy economy. It's not all "Victoria Bliss".

When would I have time to shop???

Laurel. When in doubt, shop.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

First Prom

It's official - I am getting old. This past weekend I went to my daughter's home to take pictures of HER daughter on her way to Junior Prom.  Her date was a tad late and she paced back and forth in her own quiet anxiety.  But she was stunning...I mean really stunning.

As all the Grandma's and Mom snapped pictures, I was struck how confident and poised she seemed to be at nearly 17. I remember my first prom vividly, and at no time did I ever have my granddaughter's elegance or grace or looks, for that matter.

My own Mom taught me how to sew when I was ten, so by my junior year in high school, I was making my own clothes.  Sew a prom dress?  No problem.  I chose a pale blue brocade to go to the floor.  It was shimmering, sleeveless and had a bell shaped skirt.  Remember those?

I spent the night at my friends house closer to town, as I lived out in BFE, aka the country. We spent hours the afternoon of the big event, experimenting with the perfect shade of pink lipstick, wrapping our shoulder length hair in tin can rollers to ensure the best possible "flip".  Remember those?

Our dates arrived in some beat-up old Chevy that had a carburator problem, giant corsages in hand.  Back then the dates tried to match the flowers to the dress, but not to the perfection the boys do today...their cumberbunds even match the girls gown (I'm thinkin' the Moms help out here). But like the boys of yesteryear, kids still date in packs at this age, more comfortable about being in a group than the awkwardness of a real date.

So on this special evening, my daughter drove the lovely Miss K. and her grinning-from-ear-to-ear date over to a friend's house for a meet-up, and Mom reported that despite her Miss America beauty, gorgeous dress and four inch heels, she was nervous, giggly, forgot her date's dance bid, and was generally wired for sound!  It was, after all, her first real date. Just like her Mom...just like me at my first prom.

You remember, don't you? Did you have fun at your first Prom?

Laurel. Enjoy being a grandparent.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Make My Day

Whoever said that laughter is the best medicine was totally correct.  I woke up kinda crabby this morning for reasons I'm not going into, but opened my blog dashboard to check on some recent posts by my blogger friends.

I am still laughing after reading these two blog posts.  I only know these very gifted gentlemen in the cyberspace world, but they would probably be friends of mine.  They write beautifully, and that's important.  But they make me laugh out loud, and that is priceless.

If I ever invent an award, it would be for Best Laugh of the Day and these guys would get it first!

Visit Chubby and Curmugeon and take a load off.

Laurel. LMAO

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Deception

Magpie Tales

Mag #114

image by Alex Stoddard

Come and wake me now
from this aqueous prison
my precious beauty


Red, ripe, and poison
piercing eyes of deception
my lust is sated

Please visit my friends at Magpie Tales to enjoy other interpretations of this photo by Alex Stoddard. Thanks Tess for your great prompts each week!

Laurel. An apple a day....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Va Va Va Voom!

Today is Jenny Matlock's Alphabe Thursday's,
a fun link-up for bloggers looking for inspiration and fun. 

Today's letter is V.

Jenny Matlock


I'm on a travel obsession this week, since we are preparing for our road trip this summer. So the first V word that comes to mind is Venice. 

I loved Italy and would go back in a heartbeat. Rome, Tuscany, Florence, the Lakes, lovely Sorrento...what memories! But of all the places we have been in Italy, I have to say that Venice was my least favorite. Really,  I don't have any desire to go back! Been there, done that...check!

Here's why I would pass:

1) It's Very, Very crowded.  The streets are jammed with touristas and semi rude people.
2) It's Very, Very expensive.
3) It's Very hard to get a meal that doesn't cost you an arm and leg.
4) It's Very smelly along the canals, and they herd you around like cattle. Romantic?  I don't think so!

If you think I'm not Very Venturous or Vicarious,  here's one reason I might be coerced to going back...

Mama Mia!! I'll take that gondola, please.

Please visit Jenny and all the friends on Alphabe Thursdays.  Thanks Jenny!

Laurel. Where have you been all my life?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No Reservations

Lucked out with this one in Italy...
As our road trip gets closer, I'm spending a lot of time planning the stops along the way, pouring over maps and highlighting routes.  I like to write down where I think we'll be each day, how far we will drive, the friends we will visit, the sites we don't want to miss.  And though I have been a careful planner for this little walkabout, some of our most memorable experiences have been when we chose to "fly by the seat of our pants", with no reservations. For the most part, it works well, and we find a nice clean bed in a moderately priced hotel.  Sometimes we even luck out and score an incredible room with a spectacular view.

However, throwing caution to the wind hasn't always worked for me. Even though I like to think of myself as brave and spontaneous, that isn't necessarily honest. I remember my first night in Croatia.  Let me back up.  My friend, a seasoned traveler and native German, told us that it was a snap to find a room in the city of Split where we would be staying overnight before ferrying over to our island destination. I took her word for it, so we made no reservations for that leg of our 30 day adventure.  After all, it was just overnight.

"Here's how it suppose to work," she tells me "You get off the plane, hop on a bus and when you get to town, there will be all these people hawking rooms - you will have no problem finding a place to stay. 'It's very safe'," she assured me. "They are on the Plaza. Oh, and don't forget to get some of the local currency, as Croatia is not in the EU." I twitched, but okay, I can do that.

When you fly over to Split from Rome, the only flight arrives on the mainland at night, a little detail that I hadn't really thought out very well. Keep in mind, this is one of the native languages that I have not studied beforehand, I have no idea where the bus is to take us into Split (the "town") and I have no idea what a Kuna is even worth. In short, I am not prepared, I have not researched this adventure very well, it's pitch black outside and I am now officially in panic mode.

We find what appears to be a money changing machine, and we figure 200 Kunas ought to be enough for the night. We follow the herd of calves to the outside, as they all seem to know how this works. The bus driver throws our bags into the bowels of the exhaust-belching transport and takes all but about 25 of our Kunas.  Evidently, a Kuna isn't worth much. Little beads of sweat start to form on my drying upper lip.

We find a seat behind the driver and start the trip to town.  After about 30 minutes, I'm not only sweating and fidgeting, but I may be hyperventilating. Quietly, of course. Discretely. As the minutes wear on and town is nowhere in sight yet, the reality of my situation has morphed into a full scale anxiety attack on the inside, even as I am still pretending to be a brave, taking everything in stride, being the seasoned traveler. Smiling.

"Are there any hotels along the Plaza," I calmly inquire of the bus driver, not wanting him to see the fear in my eyes. I try to imagine the Plaza: busy...nightlife...people. Safe.

"No, not really," he deadpans in English.

Sweet Jesus, what was I thinking! We have no Kunas, no room, it's midnight, I will be wandering the streets dragging my luggage, we will be trapped in an alley by an axe murderer.  I grab the hubby's hand and he just smiles at me. He's enjoying our "adventure" and I am ready to stroke out!

"Do you need a place to stay?" I hear the driver say in my fog. "I will fix you up, not to worry."

Did I just see him wink at my hubby? He's having fun too! After what seemed like 2 hours, the bus rolls into town, and sure enough, there they are...dozens of little women grabbing at us, offering all manner of sleeping arrangements.  They don't look like axe murderers.  We dutifully stepped off to the side and waited, as the driver had instructed.  Before long, a tall Croatian gentleman approached us after chatting briefly with the driver. Conspiracy? I gather this is our man. He smiles.

"The rate is ----Kunas," he explains, which turns out to be something around 35 Euros. Who cares...WE HAVE NO MONEY! The hubby explains our situation, and he takes us to another Croatian money changing machine just off the Plaza, the key word being "off".  Is this where we are murdered?  But he stands the appropriate distance from us, hands folded, as we do our math and get our Kunas.

He leads us down the narrow streets, through doorways, up stairs, past young locals still partying at a bar.  As we start up the narrow stairs of his apartment/home, he's jabbering on his cell phone. Panic. He tells us he is very "international" tonight...he has a Swedish couple, a Japanese couple and now Americans.  He laughs softly.  'Has' them WHERE? Okay this must be where we are put in a dungeon to rot forever. My kids will never find us! He unlocks the door of the room. I take it in...

"It was my son's room," he says proudly. "He liked to paint." Still sweating a little, but I'm starting to breathe.

I'm settling down...the kid liked the Doors, Laurel...Dad can't be all that bad.

Twin beds. Clean, no axes or chains in the corner. I can hear the revelers' laughter wafting up from the street below. Happy.

"I hope you will be comfortable," he said sweetly, taking the Kunas from Dave. "Enjoy your time in Split."

"Do you have any towels?" I queried, feeling terrible about all the sinister thoughts that I conjured up about such a kind man in this very foreign country. 

"Of course...I am so sorry." He bows out of the room.

I showered in my tiny, tiny shower, rubbed my skin dry with the scratchiest little towelette (do I smell Tide?) slept like a rock and dreamed of a Four Seasons long ago and far away.

Sometimes it just works.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Master's Eye

Magpie Tales

MAG #113

He worked tirelessly all night, under the watchful eye of the master.  There could be no mistakes.  He wasn't as proficient as he used to be, in an earlier time and more familiar place. He couldn't see as well and his fingers didn't seem to obey the cadence of his brain as he counted out the steps, one by one. If he placed just one card haphazardly, his entire house would come crashing down. His hands shook.  He heard the master sigh quietly. "You better lay off the beer", the master quipped. "You seem to have lost your mojo".

Please visit my friends at Magpie Tales to enjoy other interpretations of this Marc Chagall painting, Red Roofs.  Thanks Tess for your great prompts each week!

Laurel. Use your imagination today!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sunshine Award

Wow...I just got my first blogging award - The Sunshine Award! It was given to me today by Stephen at The Chubby Chatterbox. I love his sense of humor and insights into life. Check out his favorite post was the story of The One-eyed Hacking Dog, a hilarious tale of a pet adoption gone bad...I howled (tongue in cheek)!

The rules of the Sunshine Blog Award are simple…
#1 Thank the person who nominated you with a link back to their blog.
#2 Answer a few questions about yourself.
Favorite color: Aubergine (purple)
Favorite animal: cats, especially kittens

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: coffee

Favorite number: 47

Facebook or Twitter: I don't tweet...I just don't get it...but I'm growing weary of FB

My passion: creating beauty, in all it's many forms

Favorite flower: sunflowers and any flower that is fragrant

Favorite movie: Love Actually

Favorite painting: a haunting work by Paul Delaroche, A Christian Martyr

And finally, nominate a few other blogs and include links to them:
Here are some of my favorites, besides The Chubby Chatterbox mentioned above. Some of these are gifted writers, some do cool things and some just have beautiful blogs that you can get lost in.
#3) The Crumedgeon's Complaint

Thanks again, Stephen.


I see you.

Bloggers have the opportunity to interact with each other using link-ups, challenges and blog hops.  I participate in a couple of writing challenges because they give me a chance to stretch a little.

This writer's challenge caught my eye. From Jenny Matlock's blog, a Saturday word challenge:

The prompt this week is: "Why oh why oh why..."
Number of words: 100 PLUS the five words of the prompt for a maximum word count of 105
Style of writing: Query

Jenny Matlock

So when I am asked about the biggest "why" in my life, I think of Jon.

You came in the middle of the night and you left the same way. You weren’t exactly a blessing in the beginning, coming on the eve of divorce. But you were cute, and I grew to love you.  You had a knack for living large with big dreams, and I became a believer. I did not know you deeply nor understand your wildness. I’m thankful that you made me laugh in the midst of my frustrations. Why oh why oh why did I not get you until it was too late? Your candle snuffed out too soon, but I see you now.  I see you.

Laurel. 'Nuf said.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Heaven on earth...

There are two times a year that people who don't attend church come to church.  They call them Christers, because they come on Christmas and Easter.  All pastors know this, so in an effort to win them over in an hour or two, their words are usually, "safe" and not too churchy.  You know, you've been to that service...lots of singing, a nice choir,  a few special numbers, a few brief prayers...let's not forget to get the offering...everything cool and commerical, politically correct, upbeat and nonconfrontational.

Nope, not at my church...not my Pastor. He brings out the big guns on Easter. Me and all the captive Christers are settled in after singing way too many hymns and praises and he begins a 30 minute (30 minutes on Easter? Really?) impassioned message on Heaven and Hell.  Yes, Hell. Talk about your basic fire and brimstone...he even had me wiggling in my seat! But ya gotta love him (and I do!), there's no sugar coating the Gospel message, and if you didn't leave the service wondering if you might be going "down there", you probably fell asleep somewhere between Hades and Christ's resurrection.

But it got me thinking (again!) about Heaven.  As believers, we know that our time here on earth is limited and somewhat short compared to the infinitesimal lengths of eternity.  We bounce around down here, looking for parts and pieces of heaven on earth, knowing in our hearts nothing can compare or even come close. We covet, we envy, we plan, we groan. And yes, our doubts creep to the surface..what if this is all there is? I'm gonna be really bored if I have to sing on a cloud all day...

The truth is we don't really know what Heaven is or what it will be like, we "can only imagine", as the song goes. I read a book a few years back called The Sacred Romance.  The authors, Brent Curtis and John Eldridge, spend quite some time talking about how we have a stunted view of Heaven, and thus we live our lives here on earth constantly struggling to create it.

"When we do get a taste of what we really long for it never lasts.  Every vacation eventually comes to an end.  Friends move away. Out careers don't quite pan out.  Sadly, we feel guilty about our disappointment, as though we ought to be more grateful.  Of course we're disappointed - we're made for so much more, 'He has set eternity in the hearts,' (Eccl. 3:11)." 

If indeed we can't out dream God, then what should our vision of Heaven be? The authors contend that it will be something bigger than our wildest imaginations.  It will offer our hearts those things that we long for here on earth - intimacy, beauty and adventure. We are, after all, His Beloved.

"All we long for we shall have; all we long to be, we will be. All that has hurt us so deeply -
the dragon and the nits, the Arrows and our false lovers, and Satan himself -
they will all be swept away.  And then the real life begins."

Can I hear an Amen?

 Is your view of Heaven too small? Go ahead, little grasshopper...dream a little over that cup of coffee this morning. What will be in your view?

Laurel. Live large, dream bigger.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Mess of Creative Genius

Ask my husband and he will tell you that as much as I profess the need of  keeping my interior space free of household clutter and messes, I am pretty much a slob.  I was always that way growing up.  My Mom would shudder as she quietly closed the door to my room. That pattern held on through the bedroom today is never the disaster it was when I was young, but I do have a tendency to toss my jeans over chairs and just pull the covers up haphazardly on the bed in the morning. The difference is that now I usually will straighten everything out within the day, because I truly DO hate clutter and mess.

Also, I am a very messy cook.  I can use every bowl and pan in the kitchen.  It's a good thing I have tile floors, as there is no shortage of flour, chopped onions or cracker crumbs to step on after one of my sessions.

I am wondering if it's a schizoid personality know a defect of some kind - the desire for order and the inability to carry it out. I see this pattern repeatedly in my daily life. I love my home to be pretty, but I really only care about the rooms you might see when you came to visit. The rest  of the house, not so much.

Nowhere is it more apparent that I am a natural slob than in the "back room".  I share this space with the computer and office desk, but the the majority of the room is my creative space.  I bead, sew and craft here, and these adventures are no less messy than my kitchen while I am cooking. I prefer to think of my back room messes as the result of creative genius.

And this week I am obsessed, hence the reason for the absence of blogging.  I am participating in my first ATC swap with some fellow bloggers.  I just happened upon Kimberly's blog on Artist Trading Cards, which are small 2.5" X 3.5" works of art.  You can use any media, as long as they keep to the size.  Needless to say, I want to play, Kimberly!! Tiny projects like this are very enticing to work can finish them in a day.  I need to create six of them for trading, so I have been working furiously on each little picture, leaving everything else in my life seemingly on hold. Four down, two to go!

Hence, my messy work space. Where are those scissors? What did I do with the gold pen?? Dang, I can't find anything! DUH!!!!


I will clean it up when I'm done. Really. I promise...

Laurel. Do something creative!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Amazing Grace

When you believe passionately in a social cause or religious theology, it is often difficult to verbalize your thoughts. Strong emotions often accompany our deepest convictions, and though we can mentally sort through why we believe or feel the way we do, words are often painfully inadequate and devoid of the message we want to convey.

As Easter approaches, I am reminded of the source of my Christian beliefs. My grateful heart knows the depth of my love, but expressing it in the written word is exceptionally difficult. Though I feel compelled to share it with you, trying to find some order in my thoughts escapes me, and you would certainly miss the message.

For this reason, music is so important to us all.  What we may not be able to express ourselves, some more gifted person was able to capture the essence of who we are, what we've experienced, what we are feeling or what we know to be true in music.

My humility could not be expressed more fully than in the lyrics and music of "Amazing Grace".  It is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world, and there is a reason for that: with a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins people commit, our souls can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God.

The original lyrics were written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807) and published in 1779. The words are timeless. Most likely there is not an artist around today who at some time in their musical career didn't record or sing "Amazing Grace".

My favorite rendition of this classic hymn adds the "my chains are gone" stanza in between the original verses, such as the recent piece by Christian recording artist Chris Tomlin: it is is how I think and how I feel. The words express everything I know to be true...I've nothing to add, nothing to wordsmith. My God is indeed amazing.

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

Laurel. Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rest in Peace, Thomas Kincaid

The famous painter of light Thomas Kincaid passed away. He was 54 years young. Though I was not a huge fan (I never got on the buying Kincaid frenzy), I thought that his paintings were magical.  And you have to give the guy props, he certainly knew how to market himself.

As a tribute and in recognition of his accomplishments in such a short life, I thought I might share the only Kincaid thing I own...a cross stitch that I completed 8 or 9 years ago.  The pattern was very difficult, and it was only my second attempt at cross stitch. People thought I was crazy for trying it, being such a novice.  But in my true Laurel style, I liked the picture and I was pretty sure I could do it.

Rest in peace, Thomas Kincaid.

 Laurel. Stitch a memory.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Give me a break, Dr. Oz!

Am I the only one on the planet that isn't a Dr. Oz fan? No matter who I talk to, or what we're talking about, somehow the conversation morphs into a discussion of what was on Dr. Oz yesterday. I will admit that I have watched a couple of his shows out of curiosity, but I find him to be amazingly simplistic. And because he speaks mainly to women and their "issues", women keep tuning in for the miracle cure for aging, ailments or conditions.

"Change your life in just three days...tune in tomorrow."

"Get rid of your wrinkles with this miracle household cleaning product...tune in today at 4:00"

"Learn these five secrets to maintaining a healthy urinary week on Dr. Oz."

"Trim 400 pound of useless fat in just 6 at 4:00." (This show was actually about dumping your old man...just kidding...but it would have made more sense!)

And on and on and on.  You would think that if only one or two of his cure-alls were as easy as he claims they are, we'd all be amazingly svelte, gorgeous looking and live forever.

I am sure he's a real doctor and all that, but I hate the way he makes everything sound so easy, so fool proof.  Did you tune in where he had all the poops up on the big screen, going on and on about what our excretions should look like? The colors on the monitor were right off the basic color wheel - brown, green, white and black. If I ever eliminated anything that even remotely resembled any of those colors, I'd be at Kaiser in a flash. I mean, really...what does he mean by "green"? Are we talking olive, puce, avocado or spring green?  How black is black?  You never seem to get enough information to do you any good - only enough to potentially scare the crap (literally) out of you. Personally, I prefer the Saturday Night Live rendition of the show.

But I digress.  The hubby and I did tune in for the "belly busting" show last week, muffin tops languishing in our recliners.  According to the good Doctor "if you just eat this simple breakfast  everyday for five days (are you kidding me?) and take this supplement, then....." Of course he never tells you what will happen or promises any results, but he wanted the lady on the show with the muffin top to commit to the 5 day regimen. Five days? Really? But I'm thinking, 'don't be such a cynic, Laurel, give it a try'.

So, here it is...the belly busting breakfast.  By the way, I've been eating this breakfast for several years now, and my stomach remains larger than my skinny jeans will tolerate.  His secret must be in the capsules?

You have to admit though, the combination is utterly delightful looking and very tasty. But I had Dr. Oz's breakfast in Croatia before I ever knew it was his, and it's been my favorite way to start the day for several years. It must be the capsules.

So the proof is in the pudding.  This, my friends, is my 'before' picture.  In five days, I will take another pic, same shirt, same jeans.

Somehow I doubt it will be much different.  The good Doctor did not mention that you probably need to starve yourself for the rest of the day, or take three of those horse pills a day, or walk three miles a day, or drink 3 quarts of water each day, or add a "gentle cleansing laxative" to your diet.  Maybe, just maybe, you may be able to zip these jeans in five days. 

Laurel. Eat your eggs!
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