Zen and the Art of Painting

I come from a family of people who are, by nature, procrastinators. It always starts so well, usually with some sort of list. We outline the very logical and manageable steps to meet our goal with plenty of time to spare. Then, life. Suddenly, the absolute deadline is upon us and it’s all hands on deck to pull through at the last minute.

c700x420Which is how I found myself painting the baseboards in my guest room Tuesday night. I had to get them done so that the carpet guys could come Wednesday morning. As they installed the new floor coverings, I made the three-hour round trip to pick up my grandmother who was coming to spend Thanksgiving in that room. No minute like the last minute, you know?

Far from my first foray into baseboard painting, I’m a regular seasoned pro at edges and trim. There is something calming about moving a paintbrush along in patient, measured strokes. It isn’t a task that can be rushed, despite the looming pressure of carpet installation. It demands to be taken seriously. This is the kind of work I like to do alone. No distractions, no conversation, just a girl and her paintbrush. In the background, music plays to protect me from delving too far into my thoughts.

In a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, Raj remarks that there is something lovely about washing the dishes.

“You know, I read that washing dishes can be an excellent form of meditation? The key is that while washing the dishes, one should only be washing the dishes…it’s about be present in the moment.”

It is at once frightening and grounding to be so present in a simple endeavor. I’m struck with the thought that I rarely do only one thing at a time. Even in the most mundane aspects of my day I’m often mulling over some other, more complicated problem or replaying a conversation to parse for subtext.

We’ve now launched head first into the Christmas season. Soon, the pressure of gifts, holiday parties, and financial strain will be upon us. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the merriment, I pray you will find time to be still and just wash the dishes.

Or paint the baseboards. Just don’t wait until the last minute.



Better a silly girl with a flower than a silly boy with a horse and a stick…

Pop Quiz!  Can you name the film from which comes the line that makes up today’s title?

Don’t look at me, I’m not telling!

I’m taking a break today from regaling you with my dinner victories to talk about a little craft project.  This project stemmed from an abundance of thin cardboard I happened to have on hand after a particularly large order of caps came through my shop, but any thin cardboard will work for this.   You’ll also need paint, a canvas or board, and hot glue.  Optional: wooden hearts or some other small shapes.

I cut my cardboard pieces into two different sized petal shapes and painted them all turquoise before curling them with my fingers and hot gluing them together in the shape of a flower.  I made two flowers and nested them together, securing with hot glue.  Then I added the wooden hearts, painted yellow to the center to finish it off.

I mounted the flower on the canvas, but it turned out to be much smaller than I had envisioned, and there was SOOOOOO much which space that I added a couple of stripes of paint to one edge.  The result, a simple yet lovely going away present for Emily as she headed back to school.

Pretty, no?  I still have a ton of these cardboard pieces left, so I might try some other things.  IMPORTANT NOTE!!!!  Never use your good craft or fabric scissors to cut cardboard.  The fibers will dull your scissors really fast and that’s never good.  I have a dedicated cardboard/chipboard/random paper scissors that are old and beat up.

Hope you’re having a lovely Wednesday!

PS.  If anyone is wondering what happened to the last two weeks of Emily’s column, I swear we’re working on it.  The last two installments of [Re]Working it will be up soon!!!!

I need two eyes, and two ears…and no mouths!

So last week was kind of a  nightmare  challenge.  It was Vacation Bible School week, and as the Director of Pre School, I had more than a couple of things to do.  But now it’s over and I can share all the merriment with you. Our theme was SonRise National Park, so we tried to bring the great outdoors in.  This would also be an awesome idea for a National Park – themed child’s birthday.

The most difficult and time-consuming part was the decorations.  I had two classrooms to decorate, so I made one of them into a forest and the other into the lodge, or ranger station, or what-have-you.

The challenge is that these are actual classrooms, used by the church and school, so they have things like desks and computers in them.  I really wanted to avoid a scenario where my kids destroyed everything in their path, so I pushed everything into a corner and covered it with artificial trees, borrowed from friends and neighbors.  A tent, some wooden benches and a few stuffed animals and my forest was complete.  You’ll also see paper animals.  These couldn’t be easier.  Just print or copy a coloring book page or internet find onto a transparency sheet, and project it onto brown butcher paper and trace with a Sharpie.  Then stipple over it with brown paint and voila – bear!  This is one of the oldest teacher tricks in the book, but still useful and relevant.

For my second classroom, I decided to make it the lodge, but honestly, I didn’t have to do much.  The classroom was already decorated like a log cabin left over from the school year. Score!  If you want to create your own though, check out the “fireplace”.  It’s just a bookcase, shelves removed, covered on the inside with bulletin board paper with a fake fire in it.  Add a rocking chair and this was a great place to  have story time.  A quilt on the wall added warmth and brought the illusion to life.

My classrooms were at the beginning of a pretty long hallway, and for safety, we didn’t want the kids to go running down the hall.  So we installed a decorated sheet across the opening to keep the kids corralled.  This also meant that we could use the space behind the curtain for storage without worrying about safety.  My amazing friend Kim painted the curtain and it came out AWESOME!

We had kids from 3-12 years old so there were decorations all over the building.  The older kids met in the sanctuary for a group session at the beginning and end of each night, and were divided into their crews.

In the end, it was an amazing-long-stressful-exhilarating-terrifying-fun-whirlwind of a week and I’m glad it’s over, and planning for next year.  Our theme is going to be Wild West!!!!!

Happy Tuesday!

Weekend Warriors…Whatever

I have a confession.

I feel like I do that a lot, make confessions.  It’s low cost therapy, I guess.

Anyway, my confession: I haven’t been feeling very creative this week.  Really, really not.  I’m not sure why, but for some reason, I’m just not in it to win it. Kind of a bummer.

Which is why I think this week’s Weekend Warrior is so important.  Meg Duerksen from Whatever…(http://megduerksen.typepad.com) is creative enough for both of us.  She’s a wife and a mom and a crafter/photographer/camper/runner/all around inspirational type person.  The title of her blog comes from Philippians 4:8, a favorite Bible passage of mine.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)

I think maybe we could all be a bit inspired to think about these things, you know?

Plus, I’m absolutely dying to try this striped floor painting technique.  In LOVE!


Have a lovely weekend!

You Make Me Feel Like Spring Has Sprung!

I shouldn’t be allowed to go to craft stores on my own.

Something about rows and rows of ribbon and paint and scrapbooking supplies leaves me itchy to do something creative.  I was forced to go to A.C. Moore this morning (for work — don’t judge me!) and in addition to a few black tee shirts for a client, I also came away with a BRILLIANT idea for redecorating my mantel.

Okay…I didn’t actually “invent” this idea, but I did it, so there.

I LOOOOOVE Art, but am often HORRIFIED by the cost of pre-made art.  I’m not talking Degas here, just the stuff you find at the back of a craft store by the frames.  It’s outrageously expensive, and not that hard to do on your own.  So that’s what I did.  For $20 I made two 11×14″ canvas pieces, but I had to buy the paint and the brush.  If you have extra acrylic paint from another project and a stencil brush, you could get away with this project for around 10 bucks.  Pretty sweet.  Let’s begin, shall we?

*Note* I’m trying desperately to figure out this whole “adding pictures” thing, so it might be a little rough this time.  Sorry


Here’s What You’ll Need:


2 Canvases (I used 11″x14″ but any size will do)
Acrylic Paint (I used a Medium Grey and a Golden Yellow)
Stencil Brush
Paper Plates/Paper Towels

Here’s What You Do:

Choose a color to start.  I started with the Grey.   Tape the stencil to one canvas. Pour a puddle of paint onto the paper plate, dip the brush in and then dab the excess off on the paper towel.  Working carefully, but quickly (acrylic paint dries really fast) dab the brush on the stencil.  Make sure you dab off the excess, otherwise the paint will seep under the edge of the stencil.  You can also fix this by spraying a re-positionable adhesive on the back of the stencil before attaching it to the canvas.


Here’s the work in progress.

When the stencil is completely filled in, simply remove it.  There’s no need to wait for it to dry because chances are, it already has.  And Voila!


Now re-position the stencil and put down another layer.  You can use as many colors as you want and even use different stencils.  Here’s how mine came out:


I hope this inspires you to try your hand at artwork before paying huge bucks for it.  Let me know how it goes!