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Ben&meflying(Another little peek of Ben’s Dream.)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV)

With my boy and girl settling back into the fall school routine, I was all ready to dive-into creating art and taking steps to helping my business grow.  And then, life being what it is, the whole family came-down with a cold, the toilet overflowed, and a mysterious blistering rash showed-up on my girl’s elbow, then her face, and later my boy’s butt cheek…Yeah. I know. Gross.  Along with several previously scheduled autism-related doctor’s appointments, we threw in a couple of extra trips to the pediatrician to figure-out the rash, and before you know it, two weeks passed and not much art had been made on my end.

Sensing the discouragement, the little “Brain Bully” in my head seized the moment and started whispering things like,  “This is why you’ll never reach your dreams!  Your family life is just too demanding!  Do you really want to put all that energy into something that might not even work out?”   To drive the point home, I started an online art class, and immediately felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work being shared by my fellow classmates on the group Facebook page…Really, do these people have families?

So, yes, I felt a little anxious, if not a bit cynical.  Still, I  picked-up my paint brush for a few hours here and there throughout the following week. I crocheted some beads one afternoon while my boy and girl played contentedly outside. I pushed-through a class project that felt foreign to me.  Gradually,  the momentum  that I feared losing started to return.  Evidence of things not seen.

I am realizing that creating art and living life are continuous acts of faith.  While I carry these visions and dreams that God has placed in my heart, with gentle hands, I must surrender the final outcome and how it will look to God.  I find such beauty and relief in knowing that it is not up to me to figure-out how long it will take or exactly how I will get there.  All God is asking me to do is to listen to his whispers and keep picking-up that paintbrush.  I think I can do that.



Outside of my “signature” gold hoops and a small collection of necklaces, I really am not a big jewelry wearer.  The pieces that I do wear either inspire me or hold a special significance.  Keeping simplicity, a boho style, and inspiration in mind, I have so enjoyed designing and putting together these necklaces for you!  With mostly simple beaded-crochet chains, each necklace bears a pendant either made from vintage treasures or chosen for its inspirational message (Be sure to check the back of the pewter pendants!).  The beads crocheted into the chains consist of both czech glass and semi-precious stones.  Once again, I selected the beads according to their aesthetic value or, in some cases, for their healing properties.  It is my hope that these pieces might be worn as gentle reminders that speak to your soul.

Please join me at Dandelion Studio to browse my brand new vintage and inspirational jewelry collection!


I while back, I left you with the beginning of Ben’s Dream.  A process of expressing my emotions regarding this whole autism journey that Ben and I have been traveling together over the past 10 years.  Following my intuition, I scrawled words across the canvas, brushed sad, angry, hopeful strokes over top of my words, printed, stenciled, and collaged my way through these beginning phases.  Slowly, I started to see all of these marks begin to dance together in a sort of joyful, healing release.

With my ultimate goal being to capture a dream that my boy shared with me one morning several years ago, I knew that while that beginning phase would provide the underlying structure for this piece, Ben’s Dream, I would eventually need to paint over top of it in order to achieve a more unified background.  So, after enjoying the first dance for a few weeks, I decided it was time to move-on to “phase II” of Ben’s Dream.  I did not want to paint over all that richness.  At the same time, I have come to trust the process and believed that the movement and emotion that lie beneath the next layers would emerge again, in its own time.


 It was really hard to sit with a background that seemed “less than” at the time.  I could hardly wait to add more layers  in my next session!


Those hills and sky are dancing, once again…Soon, they will be singing with the final layers of Ben’s Dream!  Here is a little peek of what will be going into those layers – Ben’s houses.


As I enter these final phases of Ben’s Dream I, too, am starting to dream along with him.  How can I support my boy’s real life dreams?  Perhaps his and mine might dance together…



For a while now, I have felt restless in my role as “stay-at-home mom.”    Good or bad, having fought the infertility battle years ago in order to create our family, I probably took-on my mom role with more intensity than some .  And, when autism was added to the mix, being a mom became real “serious business.”

Our family took a pretty big hit during those early years of parenthood.  Most of our time and energy was focused on getting our boy the therapies that he needed, fulfilling basic needs and grasping for spaces of time here and there to breathe.  That said, almost 10 years later, I finally feel like all the pieces might be coming together.  With both my girl and boy in school for the past several years, I have spent a good deal of time finding myself again, pursuing my passion for creating art, allowing myself to grieve, and celebrating my boy and girl as they become more independent.

While my soul has emerged in so many ways, I feel like I have remained partially stuck inside the cocoon.  Half of me mired in the serious business of being a good mom and wife and half of me trying to figure-out how to take flight in a new form.  So, when my husband and I sat across from a family counselor a while back, it suddenly became clear to me that I had never fully shared this readiness to take flight.  I mean, I thought I had, but somehow, the message became watered-down in the process.

With this new awareness, my husband and I are discovering the healing power of learning to be assertive with our own needs, not just the kids’, and to take the time to encourage and celebrate each others’ efforts as we grow together.  Instead of simply “surviving,” as a family, we are on our way to thriving.  And it. feels. good.

As we take flight as a family, I also look forward to taking flight in my art business.  Over the summer, I devoured artist Kelly Rae Robert’s e-book:  Flying Lessons.  One piece of advice that spoke to me as I read through Kelly Rae’s book is that I need to commit to my art and my business.  Up until recently, I felt safer staying half-stuck in my cocoon, in my official “stay-at-home-mom” status, while simply treating my art as a hobby. If I really want to take flight, though, I need to allow my wings to fully develop.  I need to shed that last layer holding me back from completely emerging.

So, here I sit.  Warm mug in hand and a year full of possibilities before me.  I can’t wait to see how it feels to fly!

For as long as I can remember, vintage treasures have made my heart skip a beat.  Always on a frugal budget when my sister and I were growing-up, my mom pulled-together the rooms in our church parsonages with thrift store finds, hand-me-down treasures, and a little (or in some cases, a lot!) elbow grease.  In fact, a few of those pieces are still being used in my own home!  An old desk/table with a planked top. A trunk that my mom and I refinished together when I was in middle school. And an oak kitchen table and chairs  that my grandmother bought at an estate sale and hid in her basement to surprise my mom.  Covered with Kraft paper, that table now stands front and center in my art studio.

Now, aside from our slip-covered couch and few other pieces, I can safely say that most of our home is decorated with vintage finds and I love it that way!  The craftsmanship. The scratches and odd marks here and there.  The chippy paint.  Together, all of these characteristics make -up a sort of imperfect beauty .  They tell a story about the original owner.  They remind me of the anticipation felt while watching multiple layers of paint bubble-up before steel wool exposed the beauty of the raw wood. Or they represent the excitement of stumbling upon the perfect piece that just “makes” a room.  Perhaps it is these stories that allow to me feel so at home when I walk into a store filled with vintage findings.


When my husband and I wandered into an obscure little shop called Everything Vintage several weekends ago, I nearly squealed with excitement over a set of vintage gym lockers standing near the entrance!  Those rusty metal gym baskets transported me right back to the middle school locker room.  My extra-small navy and yellow trimmed gym shorts (which my mom still had to take-in because I was so darn skinny!), the baby-powder smell of Tickle deodorant, and the heavy-duty combination lock hanging on my gym basket.

lockersTaking delight in the creaky old wooden floors,  great-big vintage signs, heavy wooden map drawers and bins of old photos, tin numbers and brooches,  we moved past the entrance and into a little side room filled with vintage clothing and accessories.  My husband maneuvered his way to the front display window where we spied a suitcase filled with all kinds of pink wires and cuffs:  The Relaxalator!  Those of you who watch Mad Men might be familiar with the first season’s episode where Peggy is given the job of testing and writing ad copy for  the Electrisizer. Well, The Relaxalator must have been the sister gadget to the Electrisizer!   I’m not sure how relaxing the Relaxalator was back then, but it sure did provide us with a good giggle!

relaxalatorRight next to the blue suitcase sat a hat box housing a large collection of old prescription glasses.  We unearthed a tortoise-shell pair just like the glasses that my dad used to wear!  I remember thinking that my dad looked so handsome in those glasses.stuglassesBefore leaving the shop, my eyes rested upon this vintage red and white Coca-Cola refrigerator.  Once again, memories of the little country convenience store where I spent my earliest years filled my mind.  Prying-off the metal lid on the bottle opener outside of the refrigerator.  My chubby little hands feeling the cool beads of condensation as I held the thick, green glass bottle.  And later, depositing the glass bottles at our local Safeway for a few extra cents.cocacolaFeeling all warm inside, we left Everything Vintage and made our way to a few other nearby shops. That first shop was a hard act to follow, but we did find bits of beauty along our way throughout the rest of the afternoon.  An old farmhouse storefront looked promising with its cute front-porch;  however, this spider hanging-out near the entrance caught our attention over the odds and end chairs and home-grown fruit cluttering the inside rooms. Isn’t she a beauty?spiderAfter lunch, we made one last stop before heading towards the Virginia Capital Trail, our original destination.  Charlie’s Antiques and Amazing Stones.

Charlie'sAntiquesA massive display of rocks and statues stood willy-nilly amidst the grounds and lined the long gravel driveway leading back to an old warehouse building filled with antiques from all around the world.

statuewomanloungingWe found this lovely lady lounging amidst carved stone Buddhas, fountains, large mammals and flocks of Renaissance women.

statueromanceAnd the intensity captured between these two lovers made me stop right in my tracks!  The sculptural lines are exquisite.

While my husband and I intended to punctuate our adventure with a leisurely bike ride down a portion of The Capital Trail, a flat bike tire changed the course of events…Instead, a “home-cooked” meal at Cracker Barrel provided a delicious end to a day of vintage beauty finding.  I guess we’ll just have to make another trip to complete our bike ride and maybe do a little more browsing?



My boy quietly slips into bed next to me one morning and snuggles-up close by my side.  With tears in his eyes, he whispers in my ear, “I need to tell you about a dream that I had, Mommy…”  As this sweet boy describes the scene in his dream, I can’t help but hold back my own tears. It is so beautiful!

That morning, I tucked my boy’s dream inside my heart and have carried it with me ever since, as it so aptly captures the autism journey that we have traveled together.  Having faced the hard work of  healing my own heart over the past year, I decided it is now time to make Ben’s dream come alive on the canvas. So, here begins the journey…

canvas1Facing a white canvas, with Ben’s vision in my head, I so badly want to get straight to the fun part where everything comes together;  BUT, my soul really needs to wander.  As I am learning so well, listening to my soul is always the best place to start.

canvas6I have one precious hour to work before picking-up my boy and girl from summer school.  Just enough time to allow my soul to meander around the canvas with those simple painted words and brush strokes.

canvas4During the next session, I apply the working process learned from Kelly Rae Roberts’ online “Hello Soul!” mixed-media course.  The rhythm of alternating between paint and collage is both relaxing and therapeutic for me.  Just following my urges without worrying about an end product.  Pure bliss!

canvas3When it is time to stop, I feel anxious about having to leave a particularly muddy area in it’s “ugly” state.  Suddenly, I realize that my painting is right where it needs to be.  Healing takes time!  “It is okay to sit with your bruised heart.  Give it time to heal.”  I write those words right on my canvas with a black Sharpie and walk away for the day.

canvas5A few days later, I return to the canvas with more clarity.  All those awkward, ugly marks?  They are a part of my journey.  In order to move forward, I must acknowledge the hard and the messy before I can turn them into something beautiful.  Those colors. That texture.  Those bits and pieces of collage.  They are all learning to dance together now.  In time, they will serve as the background for a lovely vision:  Ben’s Dream.


Peace I leave with you.
-John 14:27

You are a beautiful creation, perfectly imperfect!

-Steve Maraboli

practicecourage (2)
Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.
-John Wayne


Several years ago, when I found myself completely drawn to the Somerset Studio mixed-media art publications at Barnes and Noble, I also poured over images of the studios where these artists create in a similar publication entitled Where Women Create.  Not only did I feel a kinship with these women and their art, but with the space in which they work.  The creativity.  The colors.  The supplies.  The storage options.  Everything about these artists and their surroundings spoke to my soul.  And, as I began to claim the calling of an artist, albeit somewhat shyly,  I found that my own space transformed along with me.

This space that my family now refers to as “the art room,” stood briefly as a playroom for my boy and girl.  Once they settled into our new house and felt more comfortable playing in the downstairs basement, I seized the opportunity to turn it back into a dining room and an extra drawing area for my boy who just happens to be a prolific drawer.  Now, he wouldn’t have to move his crayons and paper from the kitchen table at dinner-time every night!  Soon, though, I found myself battling my boy and girl over space for my own art supplies and re-imagining this room’s possibilities.  I’ve always been pretty keen on making all the rooms in our home functional; so, while we’ve put  extra-leaves in the table for the occasional family dinner, for the most-part, the dining-room is my studio.  That said, I thought it might be fun to give you all a peek into this space where I create!

This photo shows the view from one of the doorways.  My husband and I inherited the old table from my parents when we first got married.  It’s always been a bit shaky, but I love the aged-oak and it’s turned legs.  I keep the table covered with Kraft paper at all times and it serves beautifully as a work space!

We inherited the buffet from my late grandmother’s farmhouse soon after transitioning this room to a dining room.  My boy and girl each have a cabinet for their own special supplies and I use the drawers for sewing supplies.  Atop the buffet, I keep scraps of fabric in an old wooden dough bowl along with a vintage tin filled with paper scraps for collaging and a 2-tiered caddy made of cake pans where rubber stamps perch.  The chair in the corner is also a rescue from the farmhouse which I had reupholstered in this awesome colorful fabric.  My “Brave Girl” piece hangs happily beside it.  As for the frames above the buffet, I’ve just been lazy about choosing and printing photos to fill the two empty frames beside my boy and girl!

To the left of the buffet, stands a vintage easel that my mom passed down to me a while back.  It is a bit wobbly, as it meant to be a travel easel, but it serves its purpose for now, until I can buy something more substantial.  The 3-tiered turquoise cart holds the majority of my working supplies:  paintbrushes, paints, brayers, heat gun, metal-working tools, etc.  Being on wheels, it allows me to pull it over to the table so that everything is in within arms reach when I am in the midst of creating.  We bought the old oak hutch from a local antique store several years ago and it houses most of my additonal art supplies, including a sewing machine.  I love being able to “hide” everything behind closed doors when I am not working!


And finally, the last corner of the room holds most of the kids’ working supplies, along with pallets, jars for water, and a basket of socks to wipe-off my brushes, as needed.  The chippy, old boot shelf came from another favorite local antique shop.  I think it’s almost 200 years old…My husband thought I was crazy when I first showed it to him, but I love it just the same!  The framed quilt above the shelf is actually a piece of a quilt that my husband’s babysitter made for him when he was a little boy.  I knew that I wanted to use cheerful colors in this room and was quite excited when I realized this old quilt bore the exact color scheme that I had in mind.  Art with a story is the best!  The “Soak!” painting on the adjacent wall is one of my latest pieces from this year. And, the ladder/baskets hold my stash of favorite yarns, felted wool and vintage textiles that I go to for both collaging and wrapping gifts.


I imagine that my space will continue to evolve along with me, just as it has already.  The evolution is a lot like the art process itself.  Putting some things into the mix.  Taking others out.  All things working together.  Always a work in progress.










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