happiness – relax!

I have been feeling out-of-sorts for a while now. What should be an exciting new chapter in my life – having my hubby all to myself (having myself all to myself for that matter) is not living up to my expectations. I ought to be happy – I have a great husband, my kids are successfully making their way in the world, I have a beautiful home, my own studio, my art career feels like I am stepping up – so what is my problem??

Then Janet over at tattered and worn posted about a book she was reading – this one: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I am a bit of a sucker for self help books, so I thought why not? Luckily my library had the kindle version so I was able to start reading right away! Now I have to say right off the bat I knew I was going to like this book – this is a woman who makes lists, wants rewards and has a life much like mine. This is my kind of self help – charts, lists, stars…. I have already devoured half the book, and started on my first month of my own happiness project. While the author started with boosting her energy I knew my first task should be to relax.

If you don’t know me this might sound a bit silly – but I am so type A. I am always over-scheduled, always on the run, always tense (always even when I am sleeping). If there is a space on my calendar I rush to put something on it. I operate well on full speed, but I really suck at stop. Even if I appear to be stationary, my mind is running on ahead at a mile a minute. (unless I am absorbed in some repetitive task in the studio – but other people don’t need to be DOING something in order to relax!)

I have been trying to learn how to do this – I started taking a yoga class. I discovered I kinda like yoga – but what I REALLY like is how relaxed I feel after class – which is when I realized that I am not often that relaxed. So this is my project for the month – figure out how to stop every now and then. The first task I set myself was to try and get that yoga feeling  before bed. I am a terrible sleeper – I have always been this way – when I was little I used to climb on the window sill and read by the street lamp in front of our house. As a teen I pretty much gave up sleeping! But now as an adult these poor sleeping habits are (probably literally) killing me. I decided to try this simple 8 minute yoga routine I found online before bed each night. Even I can manage 8 minutes of exercise a day. And guess what – I have overslept several days in a row. Now I understand that oversleeping isn’t something one usually gets excited about – but it is something I almost never do (unless medication is involved).

So even though you are all thinking I am a bit nuts – I am excited – this feels like progress.

So… this weekend I am taking a mini break with my husband. I am going to try relaxing for a whole weekend. hmmmm. wish me luck!

we interrupt this blog

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for…. a wedding. Since I have been blathering on about it for months, I thought some of you might enjoy a few pictures of the end result. Hopefully life will be back to normal next week (whatever that is)

and her brother – he’s the one in the middle!

her beautiful sister as a bridesmaid

where have I been?

Where has Debra been?? Well….

I spent the weekend in Syracuse with the NYFA Mark program. I have a lot to say about that experience, but I am going to save that for another post.

Otherwise I have been up to my eyeballs in chalkboard menu signs, but I am happy to say that I have finally finished them! Yea!! Here are a few pictures of them installed in their new home, The Brickwalk cafe (formerly the refractory) at Chautauqua Institution.

ice cream stand

the lunch menu

the coffee gazebo outside


And our baby walked the stage at her High School graduation on Friday. Here we are after graduation. It was a bittersweet moment, to see our last child walk into the rest of her life – which I know will be amazing. She is headed to Brockport in the fall to double major in theatre & early childhood ed. I know she has a creative, fulfilling life ahead.

Wow! where did all those years go? So this is a weekend for celebrations and a big sigh of relief. I will be back next week to talk about the NYFA experience and share some updates from the studio.

Thanks to all my regular readers for sharing our families journey so far.



wow! well THAT was a weekend. First a big thank you to everyone who supported the Routes to Art open studio tour. I had a great time talking to people about my work and I even had time to finish up some bindings as I chatted. Then, in the middle of it all Saturday night, my daughter’s fiancé ended up being rushed to hospital and spending a few days in ICU – turns out he has type 1 diabetes – just what those poor kids needed, chronic disease and hospital bills right before their wedding – send as many good thoughts as you like their way!! All prayers gratefully accepted.

Monday I started back at the print shop for the summer – since I have been teaching I have scrimped and saved to be able to take the summer of to work in the studio, but this summer it is just not going to happen, too many major expenses, two kids in college and the wedding! I am feeling lucky that they were busy enough to take me back part time and that I have a skill to fall back on. Oh and the shop is within walking distance of my house so I can walk to work and back. Of course I am a little sad to give up my full days in the studio – so I guess I will just have to work harder and smarter when I am there.

Things are ticking over in the studio, ideas are still flooding out – most of what I worked on last week was functional stuff for the sale – hopefully soon I’ll have some more new fancy bindings to share, and perhaps some work for my upcoming show in August. (let’s hope so anyway). So I really need to get back to work. I hope I’ll have time to fill you in every now and then in the coming weeks.

One last thing, the Women Create project is still on display at CCAC on Main Street in Allegany, NY. We are having a reception on Friday night, so come on by and have a cupcake on us as we continue to celebrate the creativity of women in our community!

family life & frugality

This coming weekend I was supposed to be heading off to Saltonstall Art Colony for a weekend retreat – 4 days of glorious uninterrupted silence in a studio by myself.

Then a few weeks ago, my admittedly very old car blew up – a terminal head gasket demise. My hubby offered to rent a car for me to go, or even to let me take his truck but it seemed the last straw, too much to ask. So I am having a retreat at home instead. I am catching up on everything that needs to be done, so I can take a few days to really get down to work. My hubby says he can feed himself (and me). I am so unbelievably loved!

My hubby has given up a lot for my dreams – when we met he was planning to become a professional race driver (he is very good) and then we fell in love and he extended his tour in the Air Force so we could be married. By the time his career in the services was over we had two children, so he got a “real” job to give us a home and security. We always imagined some day down the road there would be enough money to give him his start – then we had another child. For twenty years now he has worked a job that doesn’t emotionally reward him so that we can have all the material comforts we enjoy – our beautiful home, food on our table, a choice of what to wear. He has helped to put two of them through college and this year he will be adding a third lot of tuition. He is such a good man.

I tell you all this because he also stood by me as I decided to go back to college. He juggled the kids and his job so that I could take a year in England by myself to finish my masters. He has supported and encouraged me every step of the way, and here I am living my dream. I teach at a college, I have a wonderful spacious studio, I have time and space and love. I have lots of love. All because of him.

This year our baby heads off to college, it is a new time in our lives together. The future suddenly seems wide open again. I am applying for full time teaching jobs all over and together we are dreaming of the next phase in our lives. I hope one of those jobs works out, that all the stars align, and then maybe I can take over some of his burden and he can begin to dream again.

A new house in the country, a BIG BIG barn – downstairs for his workshop, upstairs for my studio. Oh how I hope the universe is listening!

But back to now, I have no idea how I will afford a new car, or the summer of weddings, or the extra tuition bills next year. I  am just trying to count my blessings and hold on for the ride. Living your dreams is sometimes pretty scary! Lucky for me I have a good man to hold me when it gets too rough.

Faeries & egg shells

People ought to remember that eggshells are favourite retreats of the faeries, therefore the judicious eater should always break the shell after use, to prevent the fairy sprite from taking up his lodgment therein.” ~ Lady Jane Wilde (late 1800’s)

Sometimes art just takes one to the strangest places, tonight I have been cleaning up my oldest daughter’s room which had become quite the catch-all for household junk while she was away at school. Right now all her worldly possessions are in a trailer in my back garden waiting to make their way back into the house, but alas, so much junk! Anyway I came across a fairy book I had given her and started reading it randomly and discovered a Victorian warning against keeping intact eggshells around as apparently the wee folk like to take up residence there given an opportunity. Who knew? That prompted me to go on a short internet hunt for more evidence of this, which I couldn’t find, but I did find a story about changelings which features egg shells and then this slightly creepy art which features hatching faeries/angels by Nancy Farmer.

Maybe I can attract a brownie to clean my house so I can spend more time in the studio, right now the whole house is in the kind of complete chaos that would make any self respecting brownie cringe (or housewife for that matter).

Watch this space tomorrow for a re-post from the past year as I am playing along with Seth at The Altered Page in the Buried Treasure Hunt

and yet more secrets

With this Saturday’s book fair I am still on my secret garden book roll. Here are a couple more choices.

OK actually this is just a cover right now, but it will have pages by the end of the day. The felting came from LaWendula in one of my swaps last year. It has been sitting in a basket on my bench for months, then recently I received that dark silk flower, and once I started making the garden inspired books, well they just seemed like they belonged together, so add a few beads & buttons, and I love it! Not my usual palette, but maybe the thaw outside is inspiring me to think Spring!

This next one is much more my usual style, no pink here!

Well, a busy day as usual here, off to lecture at Infinity at lunchtime, then I have an exam to write and some reports for my department chair. I am also hoping to get into the studio for a bit, as I still need more work to take to the Small Press Book Fair on Saturday.

And one last thing, thanks for all your kind thoughts and well wishes, the little sick one has been quite well all this week! Yea!

great evening!

photo courtesy of Jen Schlick!

Opening for the juror’s award show last night. A great turn out, I especially want to thank all my family who were there as you can see from the picture above! Doesn’t “left” look fab on the pedestal?!

And then at midnight on her birthday our oldest daughter got engaged! Congratulations to them both!

The snow is back today so I am going to hunker down and make some books for this event, and grade some art history exams.

busy weekend

Wow! what a weekend! First, opening day for SAVI, and my first day on the job as a creative mentor. It was an energy filled day that ended with a great reception. Everyone is eager to get to work on the business of being an artist! That’s me in my customary brown! So I should have known it was all too good to be true…

Sunday I get a phone call while I am grocery shopping, the youngest has torn a hamstring at a dance competition. Today we are off to see doctor #3 for an opinion on how badly torn the muscle is. Crutches and snow and a busy rehearsal schedule do not make for a happy kid!

Then as our oldest is driving back to school in Ohio, her car is acting up, she gets of the highway OK, Dad drives out to the rescue in the middle of the night, but when Dad is trying to baby it back home he hits a pot hole in a construction zone and the car is toast. Many dollars later it is towed off the highway, but he gets to spend a exciting fun-filled day today trying to find someplace to scrap it.

Ah the joys of real life…

But on the bright side, yesterday my paper swap package arrived from Michelle in Poland. It is full of all kinds of wonderful goodies… my batteries were dead in the camera (figures!), but I will post some pictures as soon as I have time to get to the store!! So a big hug and thank you to Michelle for cheering me up!


It was a beautiful Autumn weekend here in Upstate New York and I spent some R&R time hanging out with the family, and made some fun discoveries. On Saturday afternoon the baby and I were feeling at a bit of a loose end. We decided to head to the village of Lakewood, which is literally 5 minutes from where we live. It has some adorable shops that we drive by and never have time to stop at, so we stopped! We visited the great independent book store, Off The Beaten Path, and stocked up on some light reading, then wandered up from the lake. We stopped next into A Page in Time, a scrapbooking supply store, where I discovered they have a lending library of paper arts related books… so YES! I had to borrow one!! I took out Altered Books , Collaborative Journals and other adventures in Bookmaking. Because I am only borrowing it I am making some samplers of pages I like, so I will have them as a reference later when I take the book back.  I’ll post some picture when I have completed a few more.

Sunday the oldest was home from college with a cute friend in tow. We relaxed on the porch with some friends and wine, then had a traditional Sunday Roast before they headed back to the grind of their senior collections. Then the baby and I gathered up some of her friend sand headed out to Allegheny State Park to sleep over. We stayed in the Willis Creek Lean-to and it was so relaxing, rustling trees, hooting owls and the creek rushing by. When the morning came we were reluctant to leave… and while I was busy relaxing my fabulous hubby spent his night slaving away on my studio… awww how sweet it is to be loved 🙂

Yesterday I spent the day at a faculty development day then came home and played a little in the studio, but tomorrow it is back to real life, lecturing on Greek statuary and two critiques in my Studio classes, but then, wow! It will be the weekend all over again 🙂 As they say – Life is Good!