Monday, September 29, 2008

Artist Date

I went on my first Artist Date today. As described in Julia Cameron's book, "The Artists Way", I had to go by myself and do something creative that would feed my "little artist" soul for an hour or two. I went to the nearby Bellevue Botanical Garden. It was lovely. I've been there twice before, the first time just checking it out after Aerobics one day, and once with my family. It was fun to go at my own pace, (meandering) and sit down every now and then when the view was just too good to walk away from. Every time I would sit, I would think "I could sit here for an hour" but soon I would be too anxious to see the rest of the garden, so up I'd jump, and wander off only to sit down a moment later. My five favorite spots in the garden:Sitting on the rocks of the Alpine Garden looking across at the weeping willow.The benches at the japanese viewing pavillion.Just past the pavillion in between the waterfalls. The sound is wonderful.The whole Yao Japanese garden enclosure.The fab 50's house in the middle of it all, that houses the gift shop, restrooms and offices. Complete with fully surrounded courtyard and sliding shoji screens. (Don't ever change a thing!!)
Our weather was unseasonably warm today. I left my jacket in the car. I took my camera too post a pic or two, but the battery was dead when I got it out, so I returned it to the car so I could walk around unencumbered.There was construction work there, and it was loud. I tried not to let that distact me. The whole walk was restful to the eyes, if not the ears.I will definitely go back soon, probably once the fall colors start to come out a bit more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sentimental Autumn

It seems that while I was away from my dollhouse for a few years it had a series of adventures. One is 'caught on tape' as they say. After reading my blog my sister #4 posted the short (30 sec. video) on her awesome blog. See it here. features sis #6 and sis #2( I think that was you) who also has a wonderful blog at

I have several sisters and a sister in law who blog and they are all such lovely and talented people. I know we each need to seek our own way and find our own style of creating, and journaling, but sometimes I read and I think, I wish I were more like so and so. I have to catch myself and just enjoy who I am and who my talented family is, and get inspired by the way these fabulous ladies handle every day life in an artful and spiritual way.

Here are the other blogs from my family. If you have time for meandering, take a look. We have everything from a room designer/ real estate agent who is more of a businesswoman that I can ever comprehend, to our young strong Lady Cop little sister, to moms and more moms. I love them all.
Yesterday my daughter rented August Rush. I've been wanting to see it and combining that with my overall yearning for more creativity in my life it was quite a day. Despite occasional sappy 'after school special' type of dialog at moments, the show was overall very enjoyable. I teared up a little bit now and then, not hard for me. The show is appropriate for children, and handles the unwed Mother aspect of the story very carefully and tenderly. I acknowledge the reality that not every couple gets back together, and not every creative person is a genius prodigy...but the universal feeling the show left us with was the desire to DO something creative. To feel the music, and dive in and DO things. And just to punctuate that, I started "The Artists Way" this afternoon. Found a notebook to start my 'morning pages' , an unscripted sort of brain-drain writing exercise where you fill up three pages every single morning about anything, without editing or self censoring. If we don't have anything to write we can write "I don't have anything to write" for three pages. It's supposed to be theraputic, mind clearing and silence your inner critic. So Here goes. Hopefully you will benefit and my writing will get better.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chasing the Creative Spark

Demo on the dollhouse began today. I peeled off carpets and cloth used as wallpaper, pried out staples from a staple gun….some of those were really in there! And I peeled off the shingles and woodwork my sis had added when she brought the house home for her daughter. She had done a good job and a lot of the work was really tough to remove. Especially the shingles, and I would have left them but I envision something on a smaller, less rustic scale.
When I peeled off the cloth from the bottom right room, I found vestiges of my old house. The walls had a damask pattern on them left over from my old red velvet cloth ‘wallpaper’. That room was the height of style to me as a kid. My dad had salvaged some parquet flooring from somewhere, and that was once the floor of my dolls living room. When I saw that fancy red pattern on the walls I had to run my fingers over it and smile. While pulling and tugging at my sisters well installed handiwork, the bottom wall dislodged a little. I can see the whole house will need some structural tweaking, but suddenly I had the idea of taking out that lower dividing wall to open up the lower level into a ballroom, and maybe just reinstalling part of it as a column or something.
The column area in the front is weak too. I thought about removing or remodeling those, but they are too much a symbol of my childhood dollhouse, so they will stay. I was looking at England country houses for ideas about how to style my house, but it’s tricky. My pitched roof clearly indicates a simple country house, a la Chawton Cottage. But only the grand houses or fancy lodgings have the columns. So I have to compromise a little.
On another note, last week I bought the book “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron. I’ve heard great things about it and love it so far. Next week I’m going to start the exercises. It is set up as a twelve week program to help unlock your creativity. I think of myself as a pretty creative person, but like most of us there is a lot holding me back. I constantly feel too busy, but then I look at time I waste that could be channeled better. I really need something to spur me on, or if anything just to give me time to have fun mentally, like a grown up recess.

Pictured above, the dollhouses as we got them, Christmas, I think it's '73.

Here, the interior and exterior of the dollhouse before renovation.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Six Random Facts About Me

Six Random Facts About Me

One of my Sisters recently ‘tagged’ me one her blog, (OK I know it was like a month ago but to me that’s recently) and now I am supposed to write six random facts about me. After that humongously long post last time I feel a little like Miss Bates, in Emma, sure to say six ‘things very dull indeed’, but the problem will be in limiting it to six.

Random Fact number one:
I love skirts. Especially swishy crisp cotton skirts that look like they could be from the early 60’s. I can’t pass them up. In high school in the 80’s I had two patterned skirts that had belonged to my mom when she was in school. I loved how they looked and felt. I wonder how many of these skirts I have??? Be right back…Fifteen. I have fifteen.

Random Fact number two:
I have dark hair so if it’s been too long since my last haircolor you can see the gray roots that grow in a little patch on the right side of my bangs. Don’t tell anyone, but in a pinch I touch it up before a date with a little mascara.

Random Fact number three:
When I was a kid I prayed to be magic. Seriously, for about a year.
When I got a little older I thought this was probably a sin and got really ashamed.
When I got older still I realized that God probably thought it was kind of funny, and he loved me anyway.

Random Fact number four:
I love my siblings. I am second oldest out of twelve kids. I babysat them, worked with them, helped potty train them, patted their backs till they fell asleep, fought with them…When I got married and moved away I missed them so much I cried almost every day for over a year.

Random Fact number five.
Proud to be Swedish. I’m a quarter Swedish. I don’t know much about my Swedish heritage other than some of the specialties we eat on Christmas, but I still believe I have a special bond with Ikea, more than other people.
And the voice on the ad reminds me of Grandpa Brink’s.

Random Fact number six.
On a serious note, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish thus far, especially of my family. I know I owe it all to God… “Hither by thy grace I’ve come…”
I have a lot to be thankful for.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Lately the central focus of my life has been taking my oldest daughter off to college. We drove across several states, stayed in my parents house, and were inundated with activities for parents of Freshmen, though it was nothing compared to her freshman orientation activities. We spent a record six hours shopping in three different Wal-Marts, and still had to hit a Target after that, for food and dorm supplies, averaging almost a hundred dollars an hour. But what is money compared to the feelings… the feeling of leaving her that first night, to stay in her dorm, and hugging her briefly in the morning 5 days later as we left for the road trip back home without her.
Every time we drove away from campus scenes from her early childhood flashed across my mind. I see snippets of pictures and home movies and hazy images of pale wispy hair swirling in sunbeams. Oh, that’s when it’s really tough.
There were also many great moments of having that “You know, she’s going to do all right!” feeling. And special moments that would confirm to me that she was on the right course. Who can argue with something like that?
When I was in college, a ‘couple’ of years ago, I phoned my parents less than once a month. It cost a fortune. I had to wait in line for the pay phone, and then, because it was cheaper for them to place the call, I would call the operator, place a person to person call for someone who wouldn’t be at the house, and my folks would deny the call. This was our code, then I would wait for them to call me back. Our main communication was letters. Saying this now makes it seem like it was 50 or a hundred years ago. But really, so much has changed.
After the first few days I told my daughter she didn’t have to call me every day. We have e-mailed each other and made comments on each other’s facebook, But yesterday I was dying to hear he voice and she called last night. She told my husband “Well, Mom said not to call every day.” So I told her she could call as much as she wanted. I didn’t want to burden her or make her feel she had to “check in”, but it’s hard to find that comfortable routine still.
As for the rest of my life……
My main problem now is that I want to be more structured, and I want to be more creative. Let me explain and we’ll see if the two can’t go hand in hand.
Our home routines have all but disappeared over the summer, and I start to feel like my house, and my brain, is falling apart. I have learned that I can’t be creative when I’m stressed out, and that my spirit craves a certain level of organization. So since school has been in I make an effort to get through my daily routines, checking things off as I do them. I’m contemplating projects, but I actually bought on of those books that is supposed to help you flex your creativity, and maybe I’ll go in to that more next time. I have plenty of ideas, but need some fresh ways of thinking.
I have a new project in mind. I’m going to flip a house. Well, actually I didn’t buy a house, and I’m not going to sell it when I’m done. The house in mind is a two-story six room circa 1975 dollhouse that my father made for me. It was white with a slanty roof and columned porch. Very simple, basic design. On ‘Special Days’ I spent with my mom we would glue in flooring or use wrapping paper as wallpaper. I would save my money for miniature furniture that fit the six inch ‘dawn dolls’ that we played with. My sister had an identical house, and later a younger sister got her own dollhouse with a similar design. Often we would slide them all together to make one giant house. Many happy hours of my childhood were spent cross legged in front of that house. I played and decorated often, even long after I would have felt comfortable letting my friends know I still played with dolls.
When I got married my hubby convinced me to leave it home, and I really didn’t want to drag it all around the world with me. So I told my mom to just let my younger siblings have it. At some point I came home to see that a sister had taken it and redecorated the rooms and added shingles and shutters. I think it spent some time at her house before being brought back to Mom and Dad’s.
Last spring my mom asked if I wanted it again. This time I most certainly did, but I couldn’t take it back with me on the plane, and it would be a fortune to ship it. So I put a note on it where it was stored. “My dollhouse, do not remove. I will get it soon.”
After unloading the van of my college daughter’s belongings, I had room to take the dollhouse back home with us. My hubby still didn’t want it around, but after 20 years of marriage…. The house was coming home with us. I mentioned to my mom that I had room for it, and she casually said “I haven’t seen it around, I think the guys might have tossed it.”
I acted calm, but the moment I had a break in the conversation I casually turned down the stairs, then ran to where the dollhouse was, still sitting with the note the way I had left it. Whew!
So now the house is here and I’m planning to fix it up with a bit of Regency- Jane Austen Flair. The outside is to be based on Longbourne from the BBC A&E P&P. The two top rooms will be Fanny’s little white attic and the East room from Mansfield Park (greatly simplified of course). The downstairs will have some sort of parlor and dining room set up. (Small summer breakfast room maybe?) The other two will be bedrooms but I haven’t yet decided what to theme them after. The bedroom with the imposing chest from Northanger Abbey? Or maybe Jane’s own room from Chawton Cottage. One thing you can be sure of is that at my pace I have plenty of time to decide.
My last topic has to do with journaling. And blogging. And keeping a food journal, a workout log, sketchbooks, and scrapbooks. Every time I feel like I’m doing poorly at one it is because I have been focusing on another. I’ve got to ‘get it together’ as they say. My sisters and their Sister’s Running Club (SRC) inspired me when I was at home, to keep a workout log. I went and looked at running logs at the book store today, but I ended up not getting one. I already keep a food journal because of weight watchers, and I use the 12 week planner. But it occurred to me that each week there are a few note pages I don’t use, so I can make my own work out log on the computer and then just glue them in there when I get a new book. I’ve been sidelined with Plantar Fasciitis for a few weeks, and now I’m working out again and super excited. So I can combine the food and workout books. Then I decided that I would print out these blog entries and tape them into their appropriate spot in my written journal. My DH would be rolling his eyes right now. But I’m a bit of an old fashioned girl and worry about computer backups, even though he has an awesome back up system. I just feel like I want it together. Hey, I may even staple in pages from my sketchbook. I just feel like none of these reflections of me on their own reflect the whole me. Does that make any sense? That is why I’m ‘splintered’ and that is my solution.
I’ll keep you posted!