Category: Uncategorized

My Journey to Oz & Kansas—Part 2: Meet Jane

My Journey to Oz & Kansas—Part 2: Meet Jane

Today---August 12---is the 80th anniversary of MGM’s 1939 The Wizard of Oz premiere. A big day in the world of Oz fans. Including Jane Albright, president of the International Wizard of Oz Club. After Jane read my blog posts about L. Frank Baum and my visit to the All Things...Read More
My Journey to Oz & Kansas—Part 1: The Real Dorothy

My Journey to Oz & Kansas—Part 1: The Real Dorothy

August 2019 is the 80th anniversary of the MGM movie premiere of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Little known fact---about a half hour from my house in Wisconsin, the movie premiered in the tiny town of Oconomowoc on August 12, 1939, three days before Hollywood’s Graumann Theater showing. Oconomowoc...Read More
National Toy and Miniature Museum—The World at my Feet

National Toy and Miniature Museum—The World at my Feet

What better way to open a child’s imagination than through a dollhouse door or a miniature railroad track! It’s no wonder children are drawn to miniatures of the adult world: houses, barns, cars, buses, fire engines, trains, and dolls. A child can live in her own world, taking charge of...Read More
Walt Disney’s Hometown—Where the Magic Began—Part 4

Walt Disney’s Hometown—Where the Magic Began—Part 4

I have always loved miniatures. As kids, my sister and I built our own houses and apartments for our Liddle Kiddles dolls--much smaller than Barbies. I'm fascinated by the Thorne rooms at the Chicago Art Institute. I love wandering into stores that sell miniatures, and I enjoyed my daughter’s dollhouses,...Read More
Walt Disney’s Hometown–Where the Magic Began–Part 3

Walt Disney’s Hometown–Where the Magic Began–Part 3

In the summer of 1946, Walt Disney returned to his beloved Marceline, Missouri on a secret mission--with a camera. Only later did townsfolk find out why.  During that visit, the concept of Disneyland, you might say, was merely a twinkle in Walt’s eye. But when Disneyland was unveiled in 1955,...Read More
Walt Disney’s Hometown—Where the Magic Began—Part 2

Walt Disney’s Hometown—Where the Magic Began—Part 2

Though Walt Disney spent fewer than five years in Marceline, they were formative years filled with people, events, and activities that remained pleasantly vivid in his memory his whole life.  Those positive memories took him back to Marceline many times over the decades:  Summer, 1946---Walt’s secret mission (learn more next...Read More
Walt Disney’s Hometown—Where the Magic Began—Part 1

Walt Disney’s Hometown—Where the Magic Began—Part 1

As I write this (May 31, 2019), Galaxy’s Edge is opening in Disneyland---fourteen acres devoted to creating a Star Wars experience. Another one will open at Disney World on August 29.  These Disney parks constantly change and expand, depending on new Disney studio movie releases, or, in this case, purchasing...Read More
There Really is Magic at Disney World

There Really is Magic at Disney World

Once upon a time---1906, actually---in Marceline, Missouri, there was a splendid cottonwood tree sprawled over one area of a family farm. Leaves rippled with the breezes. Birds basked among the branches. Its shadow brought refuge from blistering hot days.  One young boy and his sister regularly escaped to its embrace....Read More
Life is a Beach

Life is a Beach

My husband Tim once took our girls to Florida a week ahead of my joining them. Kaia and Audrey, ages 7 and 5, claimed they never got out of their swimsuits, not once. In the mornings, they went from bed straight into the motel pool, then the ocean---stopping only to...Read More
Award-winning author Gary D. Schmidt—-Remember Who You Are—-Part 3

Award-winning author Gary D. Schmidt—-Remember Who You Are—-Part 3

When I attended best-selling author Gary D. Schmidt’s book talk at Boswell Book Company in February, he was sitting with a girl (age 10 or 11?) at a corner table before the presentation began.  As I stood nearby browsing bookshelves, I caught wisps of their conversation about stories, characters, and...Read More
Award-winning author Gary D. Schmidt—Remember Who You Are—Part 2

Award-winning author Gary D. Schmidt—Remember Who You Are—Part 2

What happens to an American boy and his family when he opens the door one morning to find a proper English butler on the doorstep? Not one who has lost his way, mind you, but one who plans on moving in and taking over and doing all the typical butler-y...Read More
Award-winning author Gary D. Schmidt—Remember Who You Are—Part 1

Award-winning author Gary D. Schmidt—Remember Who You Are—Part 1

In the spirit of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, the neighborhood bookstore is a favorite spot for book lovers. In this age of Amazon, online shopping, Kindles, ebooks, and downloads, a real live bookstore is a sight for sore eyes. A place to browse and bask in a bounty of books. Boswell...Read More
Save the Toothbrushes!

Save the Toothbrushes!

“Save the Toothbrushes!” This is the battle cry--not of dentists or environmentalists. It’s the battle cry of art teachers and/or mothers of young children. Why, you ask? Because toothbrushes make cool tools for flicking paint onto paper. Courtesy of Instructables For decades I subjected myself to stringent Reduce, Reuse, and...Read More
People Watching #8

People Watching #8

Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Then we examined a 1930s Charles Walton photograph. After that, we speculated about the dynamics of two girls and a guy at the dinner table. Then we viewed the bicyclist in a race and...Read More
Meet My Neighbor Judith—Imagining a Better World—Part 4

Meet My Neighbor Judith—Imagining a Better World—Part 4

Last time I shared about my neighbor Judith’s numerous efforts to shut down the School of the Americas (SOA) and protest violence through peaceful demonstrations. In April, 1997, After years of hard work, she received word about being presented the YWCA’s annual Peacemaker Award as a peace activist. But hours...Read More
Meet My Neighbor Judith—Imagining a Better World—Part 3

Meet My Neighbor Judith—Imagining a Better World—Part 3

In early April, 1997, my neighbor Judith Williams received a phone call that the Waukesha YWCA was going to present her with their annual Peacemaker Award on April 23 for her work as a peace activist. According the Waukesha YWCA executive director, Merry Jorgensen, Judith was being recognized “for developing,...Read More
Meet My Neighbor Judith—Imagining a Better World—Part 2

Meet My Neighbor Judith—Imagining a Better World—Part 2

Last time I introduced my neighbor Judith Williams---mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and music therapist. She is involved in more committees and organizations than most people are during their entire lives. But age and obstacles have never slowed her down, not even after two hip surgeries. She turned 80 this month.  My...Read More
Meet My Neighbor Judith–Imagining a Better World–Part 1

Meet My Neighbor Judith–Imagining a Better World–Part 1

In the spirit of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, I’d like to introduce my own neighbor---Judith Williams.  Judith and I have been in the neighborhood book group together and exchanged cat care duties over the years. We chat when she’s out watering her flowers or walking. I helped her a bit during...Read More
The Birthday Extravaganza

The Birthday Extravaganza

When I was growing up, a birthday party consisted of friends playing “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” “Musical Chairs,” and “Duck Duck Goose,” topped with gifts, plus cake and ice cream. Who could ask for more? Fast forward 25 years. When my kids were little, planning birthday parties felt...Read More
People Watching #7

People Watching #7

Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Then we examined a 1930s Charles Walton photograph. After that, we speculated about the dynamics of two girls and a guy at the dinner table. Then we viewed the bicyclist in a race and...Read More
My Kids Grew Up in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood– Part 2

My Kids Grew Up in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood– Part 2

You know someone has arrived when you find his image on a postage stamp. Mister Rogers earned that distinction in 2018. But he was an American icon long before that. Mister Rogers stamps, 50 cents, 2018, licensed under Creative Commons Last time I shared how my son’s kindergarten teacher advised...Read More
My Kids Grew Up In Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

My Kids Grew Up In Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

My kids were immersed in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. They loved it. And not because it was the only TV show I (usually) allowed during their pre-school years. They were riveted. And so was I. Here I was all grown up, and I felt like Mister Rogers was talking to me. ...Read More
Monday Metaphor Musings #6: It’s So Cold

Monday Metaphor Musings #6: It’s So Cold

Here’s my gripe about Florida people. If you’re one of them, take this with a grain of salt.  Literally--sidewalk salt for ice. Or with a few snowflakes . . . Up here in frigid Wisconsin, my husband Tim and I send texts about the weather to our Florida relatives. Something...Read More
Educator Mollie Gruennert: Creating School Environment with Joy, Beauty, and Shalom– Part 2

Educator Mollie Gruennert: Creating School Environment with Joy, Beauty, and Shalom– Part 2

Last time I introduced you to my former student, Mollie Gruennert. When my daughter Kaia was born, Mollie gave her a cute cloth doll. Much later, when I told Kaia that the doll was from Mollie, Kaia promptly named the doll after her. So over the years, we’ve had a sweet...Read More
Educator Mollie Gruennert: Creating School Environment with Joy, Beauty, and Shalom– Part 1

Educator Mollie Gruennert: Creating School Environment with Joy, Beauty, and Shalom– Part 1

Mollie Gruennert is passionate. She has always desired to make a difference, exemplifying this outlook: "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters  to create many ripples."   ― Mother Teresa This desire has taken many routes, primarily in education. She received a B.S. in Education...Read More
People Watching #6

People Watching #6

Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Then we examined a 1930s Charles Walton photograph. After that, we speculated about the dynamics of two girls and a guy at the dinner table. Then we viewed the bicyclist in a race and people...Read More
Sing a Song of Sixpence: an Ode to Mother Goose

Sing a Song of Sixpence: an Ode to Mother Goose

How many of these nursery rhymes do you know? Can you finish any of them? • Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall . . . • Sing a song of sixpence . . . • Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater . . . [caption id="attachment_1728" align="aligncenter" width="411"] Via the Greenwich Workshop.[/caption]...Read More
Monday Metaphor Musings #5

Monday Metaphor Musings #5

We are surrounded daily by comparisons stated as similes and metaphors. Here's one from TV's Cheers: Woody: "How's it going, Mr. Peterson?" Norm: "It's a dog eat dog world, Woody, and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear." Manny on Modern Family says, "I've always felt out of place in public school,...Read More
Barney Fife says Robin Hood should be banned

Barney Fife says Robin Hood should be banned

Whether or not you’ve seen The Andy Griffith Show, Deputy Barney Fife really knows how to lay it on the line. Nobody says it better than he does: “Robin Hood should be banned from schools. It teaches that sheriffs are the bad guys.” Never mind that the Sheriff of Nottingham is...Read More
People Watching #5

People Watching #5

Welcome back to my blog! Time to resume our Journey To Imagination after taking a break. I hope the past few weeks offered plenty of highlights, holiday fun, and creative outlets. Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Then we examined...Read More
Mark Keup & Dan Dotson: Creators of Opportunity & the Making of a Champion Team

Mark Keup & Dan Dotson: Creators of Opportunity & the Making of a Champion Team

Wheaties may be the Breakfast of Champions, at least for some. But we all know there’s a lot more to making a champion than eating a bowl of Wheaties every morning. Besides having talented students, one thing that makes the difference between an excellent team and a good or mediocre...Read More
Engineer Mark Keup: More Innovative Solutions

Engineer Mark Keup: More Innovative Solutions

What do computer chips, TVs, tomato soup cans, disposable diapers, root beer bottles, and chocolate chip cookies all have in common? They are all tracked, counted, or measured by Machine Vision, a software technology that performs inspections on thousands of products, from the electronics store to the supermarket. Mark Keup...Read More
Engineer Dan Dotson: Creating innovative Solutions

Engineer Dan Dotson: Creating innovative Solutions

Engineer Dan Dotson once did a high school book report on Thomas Edison. “He might have inspired me more than I know,” Dan says. "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." --Thomas Edison Edison knew all about that. He barreled through obstacles and never gave up. Regarding his work...Read More
FIRST Lego League: Robotics & Tomorrow’s Engineers Creating innovative Solutions for Global Problems

FIRST Lego League: Robotics & Tomorrow’s Engineers Creating innovative Solutions for Global Problems

Goofy hats, colorful T-shirts with crazy logos, flowing capes, and loud, pounding music. Where am I? You might think it’s a Halloween party. Nope. I’m at a FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics competition. [caption id="attachment_1569" align="aligncenter" width="470"] A new type of Superhero---ones who battle germs of all kinds. The Sanitizization...Read More
We’re off to See the Wizard, Part 4: The Man Behind the Curtain, continued

We’re off to See the Wizard, Part 4: The Man Behind the Curtain, continued

Do you recall the resume in my last post? We left off with L. Frank Baum leaving Aberdeen--broke, disappointed, and disillusioned---with a wife and four kids to feed. Chicago---The Lean Years and New Beginnings (1890s) The Baums arrived in Chicago in time for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, a time of...Read More
We’re off to See the Wizard, Part 3: The Man Behind the Curtain

We’re off to See the Wizard, Part 3: The Man Behind the Curtain

Would you hire this guy? So....is this guy a wizard or a humbug? Would you hire him? I suppose it depends on what you need. And how you measure success. The thing that L. Frank Baum is best known for---writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz---didn’t occur until he was 44...Read More
We’re off to See the Wizard, Part 2: The Road to All Things Oz

We’re off to See the Wizard, Part 2: The Road to All Things Oz

The small town of Chittenango, New York is proud to embrace their hometown boy, L. Frank Baum. He spent his first five years in Chittenango, his birthplace. Later, he grew accustomed to seeing the yellowed hemlock plank road that carried salt barrels to Salina, possibly the inspiration for Oz’s Yellow...Read More
We’re off to See the Wizard, Part 1: The Wizard of Chittenango & the Magic of Oz

We’re off to See the Wizard, Part 1: The Wizard of Chittenango & the Magic of Oz

Recognize any of these phrases? • “Some people without brains do any awful lot of talking.” • “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” • “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” • “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” • “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” •...Read More
Monday Metaphor Musings #4: Life

Monday Metaphor Musings #4: Life

"Life is like a doughnut. It can be sweet and tasty, but there’s always a hole in the middle.” That’s just one of many ways people have tried to capture the essence of human life on planet Earth, with all its many facets. The challenges of life have been compared...Read More
People Watching #4

People Watching #4

Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Then we examined a 1930s Charles Walton photograph. After that, we speculated about the dynamics of two girls and a guy at the dinner table. I loved reading your comments---the ideas evoked by those...Read More
Artist Rita Trickel: Beyond Here There Be Dragons

Artist Rita Trickel: Beyond Here There Be Dragons

Ahoy mateys! Ever see an old sea map where dragons marked dangerous or uncharted waters? Pictures of dragons, sea monsters, or mythological creatures warned sailors to stay away. No telling what’s beyond. Shiver me timbers! If sailors got too close to these areas, trouble abounded. Danger was at hand. All...Read More
Story Worlds: Places I’ve Been, Part 2

Story Worlds: Places I’ve Been, Part 2

What settings have inspired you? What stories do you associate with them? Which stories will you never forget? Earlier, I shared how authors thrust us into their story worlds, by mixing words together in such a way that we’re living and breathing alongside the characters. I’ve discussed where story ideas come...Read More
Elmer Sparks, Part 2: Spreading Happiness through Bluegrass Music

Elmer Sparks, Part 2: Spreading Happiness through Bluegrass Music

Tuesday nights at the Muckwanago Library must be the happiest in all of Wisconsin. It’s the night of the monthly Bluegrass Jam. Even before I stepped foot in the room (April 9, 2018), the twangs, strums, and picking of banjos, guitars, and string bass wafted out to the corridor, compelling...Read More
Elmer Sparks, Part 1: Spreading Happiness through Photography

Elmer Sparks, Part 1: Spreading Happiness through Photography

Only one photographer ever got my husband to smile for a portrait. Just one. And a genuine smile, not a fake smile-through-your-teeth “can we get this over with?” kind of smile. That man is Elmer Sparks. That was the year he took portraits of every family in our church for...Read More
People Watching #3

People Watching #3

Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Last time we examined a 1930s Charles Walton photograph. Today’s picture is a different flavor altogether. Aside from knowing that a picture is worth 1000 words, a picture evokes 1000 stories. If I showed...Read More
Monday Metaphor Musings #3

Monday Metaphor Musings #3

What do you think of when you hear the word door? Or when you see a picture of a door? Does it make a difference which kind of door? Time for another word-association exercise. You did this before by brainstorming the word web and by finding the right metaphor to describe...Read More
Master Gardeners: Beautifying the World, One Yard at a Time, Part 2

Master Gardeners: Beautifying the World, One Yard at a Time, Part 2

For years, every time I called my dad, he’d say, “Dave and I weeded this . . .” and “Dave and I built that . . .” and “Dave and I transplanted this . . .” Who is this Dave? I wondered. My siblings and I only knew him by...Read More
Master Gardeners: Beautifying the World, One Yard at a Time, Part 1

Master Gardeners: Beautifying the World, One Yard at a Time, Part 1

Last time I shared my own gardening tip: live next door to neighbors with gorgeous landscaping. Today you’ll meet one of the reasons for this tip. Over the years, my dad, Don DeNooyer, raised the landscaping bar so high, it’s beyond my reach. Though I don’t live next door to...Read More
My Gardening Tip: Live next door to Neighbors with Gorgeous Landscaping

My Gardening Tip: Live next door to Neighbors with Gorgeous Landscaping

I grew up spoiled by beautiful lawns surrounding me. Both of my parents had gardens, but Dad also landscaped and diligently tended each tree. The care he gave to our one-acre property rivaled the tedious care that strict English teachers give to marking grammar errors, or that car buffs give...Read More
Get out that Club

Get out that Club

A pastor once said that when he’s stuck on writing his sermon, he cleans out his garage. Yup, that’s it. That’s the cure for his writer’s block. I can totally relate! When I’m stuck on what to do next in my own writing, I start organizing piles, files, and boxes....Read More
Lisa Doyle–Beauty in the world, Part 2: Leaving people better than how you find them–through Chosen, Inc.

Lisa Doyle–Beauty in the world, Part 2: Leaving people better than how you find them–through Chosen, Inc.

Last time I introduced you to Lisa Doyle, and the story within a story: the book Dear Lois. This book plays a vital role in the formation of the non-profit Chosen, Inc. which supports adoptive and foster families in the greater Milwaukee area. As a board member, Lisa aided the...Read More
Lisa Doyle–Beauty in the world, Part 1: Leaving people better than you find them

Lisa Doyle–Beauty in the world, Part 1: Leaving people better than you find them

Lisa Doyle embraces a mantra she’s had since age twelve. She found this quote on a decoupaged piece of cardboard in 1983: ******* “One day I would like to teach a few people many and beautiful things that will help them teach a few people.” --unknown, A Teacher’s Prayer ******...Read More
Accidental Art & Inventions: Popsicles, Post-it Notes, & Parisian filmmaking

Accidental Art & Inventions: Popsicles, Post-it Notes, & Parisian filmmaking

What happens when cooked wheat sits too long? Or when the movie camera jams? When you run out of ice cream cups or baker’s chocolate for your recipe? When your science experiment turns out the opposite of what you expected? Or when your cleaning product becomes obsolete? Sometimes these mistakes...Read More
Monday Metaphor Musings, #2: Are you a Tiger or a Turtle? A Hammer or a Nail? A Piano or a Piccolo?

Monday Metaphor Musings, #2: Are you a Tiger or a Turtle? A Hammer or a Nail? A Piano or a Piccolo?

Have you ever found yourself describing people with these cliches? Do you know individuals like this? “That kid’s a tornado. He leaves a mess in every room he passes through.” “She’s as busy as a beaver.” “She’s the queen bee.” “He’s as relentless as a jackhammer.” “He works like a...Read More
Briscoe Darling says, “Got time to breathe, got time for music.” . . . A Celebration of Mayberry’s Mirth & Music, Part 2

Briscoe Darling says, “Got time to breathe, got time for music.” . . . A Celebration of Mayberry’s Mirth & Music, Part 2

[caption id="attachment_1042" align="aligncenter" width="574"] Via Classic Film on Flickr[/caption] The popular 1960s Andy Griffith Show (ranked 5th) was responsible for introducing genuine mountain bluegrass music to suburban America. The Darling family from the Appalachian mountains show up in Mayberry for only six episodes, for one crisis or another, yet each time...Read More
Barney Fife says Aunt Bee’s Pickles Taste Like Kerosene . . . A Celebration of Mayberry’s Mirth & Music, Part 1

Barney Fife says Aunt Bee’s Pickles Taste Like Kerosene . . . A Celebration of Mayberry’s Mirth & Music, Part 1

How big of an Andy Griffith Show fan are you? Take this quiz and find out. Can you identify who says each of the following, to whom, or the context? NOTE: Whether you’re a fan or not, or if you don’t want to take the quiz, read on to see...Read More
Artist Marie Scott: Painting Glimmers of Hope for this Broken World

Artist Marie Scott: Painting Glimmers of Hope for this Broken World

******************** “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” --Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1887 ******************** Two weeks ago, I discussed how the starving artist is not so hungry. I referenced impassioned honeysuckles and tulips. Here’s Mirriam-Webster’s definition of...Read More
Deputy Barney Fife says to Nip it in the Bud!

Deputy Barney Fife says to Nip it in the Bud!

[caption id="attachment_1025" align="alignright" width="231"] Via classic_film on Visual Hunt[/caption] With his zeal for combatting crime in Mayberry, Deputy Barney Fife considers jaywalking as serious as theft. Of course this fits with his philosophy to nip crime in the bud, especially when there’s a new boy in town causing trouble for...Read More
Sheriff Andy Taylor recommends the Snappy Lunch in Mayberry

Sheriff Andy Taylor recommends the Snappy Lunch in Mayberry

At my house, on any given weeknight, I’m caught watching The Andy Griffith Show reruns. Invariably, my son walks by and says, “You know, Mom, that’s not real life.” “That’s why I like it,” I say. Conflicts are all neatly wrapped up in thirty minutes. Problems run the gamut from...Read More
The starving artist is not so hungry

The starving artist is not so hungry

[caption id="attachment_752" align="alignleft" width="231"] Via picksnoz on Visual Hunt[/caption] How long could you live in a sterile environment devoid of color, surrounded by stark whites or drab grays? What if your only food was rice, cream of wheat, fish, oatmeal, or bananas (without the peel)? Could any of us survive...Read More
People Watching, #2

People Watching, #2

Have you done any people watching lately? Last time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. [caption id="attachment_745" align="aligncenter" width="456"] Via State Library of New South Wales[/caption] Aside from knowing that a picture is worth 1000 words, a picture evokes 1000 stories. If I showed a picture to a dozen students...Read More
Should kids get trophies for participation?

Should kids get trophies for participation?

When my kids were in elementary school, they received little trophies each year just for running in the jog-a-thon fund-raiser. Speed or agility didn’t matter. The number of sponsors and the amount you raised didn’t matter. You could get a trophy just for the fact that you showed up and...Read More
Are you Celebrating or Lamenting?

Are you Celebrating or Lamenting?

Did you ever read a book and wish you’d written it? Have you walked through a gallery and wished you had a better eye and camera for your own photography exploits? Have you found yourself envying the singer with the beautiful voice or the musician with such mastery of his...Read More
Revision: When is it good enough? Finished or abandoned?

Revision: When is it good enough? Finished or abandoned?

How do you know when you’re done revising a poem, essay, or novel? Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” He obviously wasn’t completely satisfied with the final product. French poet Paul Valery concurred by saying, “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” Such is the case...Read More
Barbara Britton: Perfume Pics, Coloring Pencils, and Records: An Author’s Unconventional Tool Box

Barbara Britton: Perfume Pics, Coloring Pencils, and Records: An Author’s Unconventional Tool Box

Have you wondered what it would be like living in Biblical Old Testament times? So has author Barbara Britton. In fact, she digs into O.T. history to create story worlds from 1000s of years ago. Her wanderings start with map-making and music. Last year I read the first book from...Read More
The Compulsion to Tell A Story: The Dog Ate My Glasses

The Compulsion to Tell A Story: The Dog Ate My Glasses

My husband Tim tells the story of when he was in 4th grade playing baseball with the neighbors. He had brand new glasses and was afraid of breaking them. He set them in a “safe place” in the grass nearby. A dog was snooping around. After he got up to...Read More
Risk-taking & Art, Part 3: The Hot Air Balloon Quilt

Risk-taking & Art, Part 3: The Hot Air Balloon Quilt

How do you handle Art that doesn’t measure up? Recently I attended a play that was well done but the backdrop was nothing but a poorly drawn tree standing in a poorly painted field. It filled the entire stage. It did nothing for the production. Fortunately, the actors were good...Read More
Risk-taking & Art, Part 2: Birds in the Woods

Risk-taking & Art, Part 2: Birds in the Woods

When my husband Tim coached middle school girls basketball, one of his players ran the wrong way down the court and made a basket for the other team. Sure, this kind of mishap happens regularly with inexperienced players, but Tim can recite foibles from teams of various calibers. His coaching...Read More
Risk-taking & Art: Not everyone thinks your baby is beautiful

Risk-taking & Art: Not everyone thinks your baby is beautiful

The baby who is beautiful to you might not be beautiful to everyone else. You take a risk when you share your art with others. It’s wearing your heart on your sleeve. It’s like putting your baby on display. It’s not safe. How much are you willing to risk to...Read More
Interior Designer Kaysie Strickland: Home as a Haven of Healing, Part 2

Interior Designer Kaysie Strickland: Home as a Haven of Healing, Part 2

How has your home or your art been a healing place for you? Kaysie Strickland, founder and president of Homes & Havens, is an interior designer who has mastered the art of creating healing home environments for wounded women. Last time, she shared her philosophy of home as a healing...Read More
Interior Designer Kaysie Strickland: Home as a Haven of Healing, Part 1

Interior Designer Kaysie Strickland: Home as a Haven of Healing, Part 1

Have you ever thought about the most healing features of your home? What in your environment brings you comfort and peace and reminds you to focus on the right things? These are questions that interior designer Kaysie Strickland might ask if you hired her. My daughter Kaia introduced me to...Read More
My Pitiful Venture into Interior Design

My Pitiful Venture into Interior Design

I call my decorating style eclectic. That’s mainly because I can never decide which route to take. My daughters, who have very good taste, probably laugh at me behind my back. Not in a mean way. Just something like, “Mom and her crazy decorating ideas. It just never goes well...Read More
Monday Metaphor Musings #1: Web

Monday Metaphor Musings #1: Web

What comes to mind when you think of the word web? I teach writing students how to brainstorm ideas on paper, using a webbing technique that some call clustering. Many teachers use this. The rules are simple: start with a word, phrase, or concept in the middle of the page,...Read More
Artist/Teacher Laura Fesser, Part 2: Inspiring students

Artist/Teacher Laura Fesser, Part 2: Inspiring students

Artist Laura Fesser not only creates art but teaches art. My four children had the privilege of being in her elementary art classroom. In fact, I was thrilled because she had the uncanny ability to bring out the best in them. Because of her, for the first time ever, my two...Read More
Artist Laura Fesser, Part 1: Inspired by Polymer, Playable Guitars, & Portraits

Artist Laura Fesser, Part 1: Inspired by Polymer, Playable Guitars, & Portraits

Laura Fesser wears two creative hats: artist and teacher. Her lively artwork brightens our community at the local hospital, library, and gallery, as well as numerous homes. Laura teaches elementary art at Heritage Christian School where I started the secondary art program years earlier. Later, she taught my four children,...Read More
A Different Kind of People Watching, Master Painting #1

A Different Kind of People Watching, Master Painting #1

Are you a people watcher? Are you entertained by the family dynamics of people in museums, restaurants, and airports? Do you sit in public places and make predictions about the passers-by, or develop their life histories? What occupations and hobbies they have? What personality types they exhibit? A variation of...Read More
Ode to Broken Crayons: Some do’s and don’ts

Ode to Broken Crayons: Some do’s and don’ts

We’ve all been there with a huge sigh, staring at a pile of old crayons. Ready to throw them out. Or staring in disbelief as our child peels the paper right off brand new crayons! How dare he! And if he snaps a crayon in half, oh my! Call in...Read More
Let it Go to Let it Grow

Let it Go to Let it Grow

“What a great job you’re doing on that tower!” I said to my three-year-old son, my enthusiasm rivaling a rock concert crowd. CRASH! In an instant, he sent blocks flying across the room. Not for fun, but in a rage. What was his message to me? Hmm. He wasn’t able...Read More
Backyard Art Fairs & Tie Dye Parties

Backyard Art Fairs & Tie Dye Parties

Tie dye, anyone? When my kids were little, we had the neighbors over for tie dye parties. In the backyard, we dunked T-shirts, pillow cases, and socks into big buckets of dye. My husband Tim monitored the garden hose as we rinsed the colors out. The alley flowed with turquoise,...Read More
Alison Sherwood, Part 2: Memory Maker, Memory Finder, & Memory Keeper

Alison Sherwood, Part 2: Memory Maker, Memory Finder, & Memory Keeper

As a mom of small children, Alison Sherwood says YES to Mess and Mayhem. Not only does she enjoy creating and capturing memories for friends, she makes art for, about, and with her kids. She doesn’t dictate the outcome but engages them in the process, even working alongside them. Their...Read More
Alison Sherwood, Part 1: Memory Maker, Memory Finder, & Memory Keeper

Alison Sherwood, Part 1: Memory Maker, Memory Finder, & Memory Keeper

Need inspiration? Need ideas for a party or craft? Look no further. This woman is overflowing with them! Non-stop. Alison Sherwood is a journalist turned stay-at-home-mom to three kids (Corban, 6, Mara, 4, and Haddon, 3). For nine years, she was a writer, videographer, blogger, and digital jack-of-all-trades for the...Read More
Process vs. Product: the Sizzle or the Steak?

Process vs. Product: the Sizzle or the Steak?

We all love shortcuts. From dishwashers to washing machines, from cars to planes, from texting to email, from Google to apps for anything you can imagine, the modern world is all about convenience and finding the easiest and fastest way to do something. But that’s not how creativity usually works....Read More
Say YES to MESS & Mayhem – the Joy is in the Journey – right?

Say YES to MESS & Mayhem – the Joy is in the Journey – right?

Is the joy really in the journey? [caption id="attachment_408" align="aligncenter" width="759"] Photo credit: cogdogblog on VisualHunt / CC BY[/caption] What price are you willing to pay for letting creativity flow? In other words, what messes are you willing to put up with? This is an ode to my mother. I...Read More
Author Liz Tolsma: Story Worlds steeped in WWII history

Author Liz Tolsma: Story Worlds steeped in WWII history

Unlike my friend Cathy, I cannot read and cook at the same time without drastic consequences. Spaghetti boiling over. Overcooked Chicken Divan. Burned biscuits. Have you ever been so engrossed in a novel that you forgot you were reading? Or didn’t hear the oven timer? And your smoke alarm went...Read More
We Need Fairy Tale Dragons

We Need Fairy Tale Dragons

We need Fairy Tale Dragons. [caption id="attachment_365" align="aligncenter" width="650"] CC BY-SA 3.0[/caption] We need the bad guys, the villains. Jack’s Giant. Cinderella’s and Snow White’s evil step-mothers. The Troll who bullied the Three Billy Goats Gruff. The witch in Hansel and Gretel. The Big Bad Wolf. Not to mention Captain...Read More
Why was Einstein so brilliant?

Why was Einstein so brilliant?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Albert Einstein? The theory of relativity? The atomic bomb? An image of a wild-haired genius? How about fairy tales? Seriously. He was a huge fan. Here’s what he said . . . ************************** "If you want your children...Read More
The Ruby Slippers

The Ruby Slippers

“Today the ruby slippers went on auction,” I wrote to my college-aged daughter in November, 2011. “They’re expected to be sold for 2 or 3 million dollars!” [caption id="attachment_334" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Photo credit: twm1340 on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA[/caption] Audrey and I share a love of old movies, including The...Read More
In the schoolyard: R.I.P. Here lies imagination

In the schoolyard: R.I.P. Here lies imagination

“My legs have hiccups.” That’s how my daughter described muscle twitches at age three. “There a melted rainbow on that truck.” That’s her four-year-old description of a colorful array of fuzzy, blended images. “It’s the same sky over Milwaukee as in Michigan. God just spreads it over us all like...Read More
Creativity: Popcorn Popper vs. Slow Cooker?

Creativity: Popcorn Popper vs. Slow Cooker?

Ever been on a committee that had to come up with ideas for the next best thing? It could be great fun, depending on what has to be made: --a Super Bowl commercial --a plot twist for a TV show --a name for a new doodad --a catchy slogan or...Read More
Creativity is not just for Artists

Creativity is not just for Artists

    Brad and Joyce, my in-laws, would never call themselves artists, but they are two of the most creative people I know. Give Joyce the high school play title along with yards of fabric and accessories, and she’ll whip out a bevy of fantastic stage-ready costumes that will leave...Read More
Chickens at the State Fair

Chickens at the State Fair

Every summer at the State Fair, you can bet I’ll visit the chickens. They compel me. Their antics make me laugh. And they amaze me with their variety. From the Belgian Bearded d’Uccle Bantam to the Golden Laced Wyandotte, no two chickens are alike. I marvel at splotches of color,...Read More