Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Brief Year in Review

When I decided to post a year in review (like an hour ago) I knew I would need to be brief.  Each year packs so much fun with friends, family, food, swimming, art projects, and so on that sharing it all would be an epic post.  Personally, I don't like to read epic posts; I really don't want to write an epic post.  So I have chosen some highlights.

My fourth book, The Simples Love a Picnic, came out in April 2014.  It got some good press and was even mentioned in the New York Times.  I did a few book events and Curious George was at one of them.

Magoo graduated from elementary school.  He continues to be awesome and my husband and I are kind of blown away - daily - by how sweet, funny, and kind-hearted he is. 

This past summer was Magoo's first trip to the ER.   His face caught a hard frisbee.  Now he has a bad-ass scar.

Our family vacation was to the cabin in Michigan.  I had been to the Sleeping Bear sand dunes as a little girl and hadn't returned until this year.  It is truly amazing how large they are.  Magoo had a blast running down them.

When I moved to Connecticut thirteen years ago, I was given a clipping from my grandmother's night blooming plant.  It's actually kinda a weird looking plant - but it's hearty - and I need a hearty plant.  This was the FIRST TIME I ever saw it bloom and it was gorgeous.  Now, it may have bloomed before - it's sneaky - but I never noticed it.  I was pretty excited to be able to catch this event.

In September, Magoo started middle school and I joined (and helped form) the WeHa Artists Emporium.  We marched in the Park Road Parade and painted while we walked - which is really much harder than any of us anticipated.

My boy and I enjoyed another Halloween: Malificent and the Grimm Reaper were out scaring little children in the neighborhood.  Mwah-ha-ha!

In early November, I spoke at my first book festival.  Yay!  They flew me out, put me up, and everything.  There were major delays on the way home, but it allowed me another first: flying in FIRST CLASS.  I got bumped up.  That had never happened before and unless Hollywood makes one of my books into a major motion picture that blows up the nation (Like Frozen - not like a bomb.  Hi NSA.), I will probably never fly First Class again.  It was nice.  It was.  But as long as the plane takes off and lands safely, I'm cool in coach. 

In December, painted rocks took over my life.  The WeHa Artists Emporium did a town-wide event called FINDERS KEEPERS.  We hid painted rocks all over town and left clues on our Facebook page.  It was an idea to raise awareness of our new group.  Well, it worked!  We now have over 700 members and it was a lot of fun.  I think we started a new tradition, as we plan to do it again next year.  (But only for half the month.  31 days is A LOT.)

I decorated over 100 rocks.  Here's some of them.

We had a lovely holiday season with family and friends.  (Yes, I have a husband too, but he hates to be pictured on the blog.  He exists though.)

And the best part of every year is celebrating my boy's birthday.  Yesterday he turned twelve.  We celebrated with friends at a rope park and with Mama's homemade honey cake.

As I continue to work on book and art projects and learn about promotion and marketing, I sometimes get pulled in all sorts of crazy directions (Twitter, Instagram, etc.) but here I can show a little more of myself and my life, and I appreciate all of you who take the time to "stop in" and visit me.  THANK YOU!  WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST IN 2015!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014 (Xmas with The Punisher)

Oh, it was a wonderful morning for the little Punisher - lots of goodies under the tree!  Actually, it's just Magoo.  One of the first things he opened was this Punisher hat/mask that I bought him last minute when I was at Party City picking up fancy toothpicks.  I figured it would be good for the bus stop.  If it's warm, wear the flap up.  If it's cold, put the flap down.  He LOVES it.  I have lots of recent pictures with the Punisher. (Below)

Back to Christmas.
But he had to put the flap up to eat breakfast.  This year I made donuts.  Mmmmmm donuts.

The astronaut T-shirt was a gift.  He'd seen something similar on The Flash and said, "That's a cool shirt."  I think that was the first time I'd ever heard him comment on fashion he liked, so I went on the internet to find one STAT.  Santa brought a nice Lego set from The Lego Movie and he got a bunch of other gadgets like a hovermax, some nice headphones, DS games, and a bunch of graphic novels.  Christmas is good to you when you're the only kid.

It was a lovely mild day so the whole family went on a nice walk (to hide rocks for Finders Keepers.)  This is how Mike and Magoo walk these days, constantly trying to shove the other off the sidewalk.  Magoo's getting bigger and bigger each day - it won't be long before Mike doesn't stand a chance.

My sister-in-law Pat got me some lovely earrings and a scarf, but she couldn't make it due to illness, so I took a selfie to send to her.   I love that shade of green!  Poppy was kind enough to model Java's Santa hat for me. (Although she clearly didn't want to.)

Gramma and Auntie Pam came to have Christmas dinner with us and play Wii games.  And at the end of the evening, Magoo got a giant Auntie smooch!

It was a great Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Whole Lot of Cooking Goin' On

I don't love to cook.  I don't.  I prefer baking because I like to eat the treats, but still, I'm not someone who enjoys the process of food preparation.  Still, the holidays aren't the holidays to me without some serious time in the kitchen.  So far, in the past two weeks I have made cookies and brownies for the  neighbor gift boxes, Magoo-safe cookies (above), Jewish meatballs for a Hanukkah party (below), Nana Pam's ice cream pie...

... Magoo put together a gingerbread house, which he can't eat, but it's a tradition he enjoys ...

... and a chocolate avacado cake.

I don't know if most cats like avacado, but Java goes nuts for it.  If we don't watch her, she'll steal it out of our salads.  She also is fond of baked goods, so this is a double temptation for her.  I only let her stay on the table long enough for me to get a shot of the longing in her eyes, then she got the boot.

I've finally finished painting rocks.  Now I've finished the pre-baking.  I still have to figure out what special treat we'll have for Christmas morning breakfast.  Otherwise, I'm in good shape!

THANK YOU so much for stopping in.  I truly appreciate it!
Wishing you happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yes, More Rocks

I know, I know.  More rocks.  But it's what I've been doing lately. 

I'm really, really thrilled with how well FINDERS KEEPERS has gone over in my town of West Hartford.  But I know that when I speak to the other artists involved we're thinking 15 days will be plenty next year.  31 days of this is A LOT.  It's hard to maintain the momentum.  Also, when you're the "Hider" for the day, you really have to be on Facebook a lot to give people hints and congratulate the winners and thank people for posting.  You're kinda like a FINDERS KEEPERS Cheerleader that day.  It's time consuming.

This is the last batch of rocks I've made.  I'm definitely into the clay additives these days.  I got tired of just painting.  And I'm all kinds of in love with the Gnome Homes (above.)  They're like a fairy tale version of Tiny Towns.  But painting those teeny mushrooms is a bit of a challenge!

 I've been lucky enough to make a little cash off this adventure.  I made so many rocks for FINDERS KEEPERS - I think my last count was 90 - that I put some up for sale at a salon in town.  Now locals who haven't been able to find a rock, can go into town and buy one.

Now I'm hoping to move away from rock art - if only for a bit.  I've had SO MUCH FUN with this project and painting nearly 100 rocks will give you some new skills and insight on the art form, but I'm ready for a rock-free vacation.  I think 2015 will be the year of printmaking for me.  I've always loved printmaking, but I've never really taken the time to learn it properly.  We'll see.

Thanks for stopping in!
HAPPY HANUKKAH to my Jewish friends!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS to everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Rock Train Chugs On

Yesterday I had a great time being interviewed by Mark Zinni on Channel 3.  The embed code doesn't seem to work, but if you click on the link below you should be able to see the nice story they did on FINDERS KEEPERS.

WFSB 3 Connecticut

And because the rock momentum is building, I took a break for my hustle and bustle today and painted a few more rocks.  Here they are:

I'm into putting little extra bits on everything, so the Viking has clay horns, as does the opera singer.  And the house has a little clay chimney.

Tomorrow is the first weekend hunt.  It's going to be rainy so Magoo and I will probably hit someplace with buildings and structures to keep the rocks dry.  But Sunday is going to be bright and sunny, so anything goes!

Happy Friday everyone and enjoy your weekend!
Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Whirlwind of Awesome

I have been busy.

I'm kinda always busy, but I've been even busier because the new art group that I'm a founding member of WeHa Artists Emporium has a few things going on and we're getting some buzz.

First, tonight is the opening reception of our first group art show, PRIMO.  If you're in the West Hartford area you should stop by.   It takes place right in the middle of the Holiday Stroll in the Center - so there's going to be lots of festivities in West Hartford tonight.  We're starting at 6pm at Salon Medusa with lots of art from 10 different artists (I'm pictured above with Stefanie Marco and Andres Montiel.)  There will also be wine, treats, and a raffle!

FINDERS KEEPERS has begun and it's going so well - I can't even tell you!  In three days we have hid 15 rocks and most of the people who have found them have posted them on the webpage.

Both the group and FINDERS KEEPERS has been getting a lot of attention.  We have a story coming out in West Hartford Life, the Hartford Courant, there's an online article at, and today Stefanie and I were interviewed by Channel 3 for the evening news.  (I had less than an hour to get ready so it's a good thing my hair was already up in curlers.)

The rock hunt is VERY VERY FUN, so if you're in West Hartford or close by, you can get clues on the webpage and join in.  We'll be hiding over 100 rocks all through December and I know Stefanie and I are both having such a great time hiding them around town.  We feel very sneaky!

Anyway - that's what I've been up to.  And now I have to go make sure I have everything ready for the opening!

Thank you so much for stopping in!  I really appreciate it and I love all the kind comments I get.
Happy Thursday!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving and the Weather

 Hi all!  I love Thanksgiving because we have a big family event and Magoo gets to hang out with his many cousins.

These kids are so good.  They humor me every year by posing for a photograph.  Here is this year's shot (and a couple previous ones.  Can you match the kids?)

I missed a couple kids on the wood pile.  They simply weren't having it.  And the bottom shot is a bit of a cheat because it's not Thanksgiving, but it did remind me that Magoo liked to show off his studly chest.

Another wonderful thing about Thanksgiving is pie.  Pie!  Pie!  Pie!  I married into a family that knows how to bake a pie.  Normally I get a small slice of apple and a small slice of lemon, but this year they had pumpkin pie.  I LOVE PUMPKIN PIE!  So after helping to pass the slices out, I chowed down.  Mmmmm.

We got our first snow the day before Thanksgiving.  It was just enough to muck up travel for anyone leaving on Wednesday, but it didn't cause issues for Thursday travelers.  (Thank goodness.)  And now it's gone - thank you mild weather.

I'm not anti-snow, but it's only November, for crying out loud.  And believe me, I'm not complaining.  I could be in Buffalo!  Yikes!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and safe travels!  Lots of fun art stuff happening this week.  More on that later.

Thanks so much for stopping in!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Finders Keepers

This Saturday was the collection day for rocks for Finders Keepers.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned Finders Keepers here on this blog before, but in case I haven't, I'll remind you.  I'm in this new artist group called the WeHa Artists Emporium.  We started in September, and we wanted to do something fun that would say "Hey West Hartford, we exist!  And we have a webpage!"  So I had this idea to paint rocks and leave them around town for people to find.  All of the rocks have a sticker on the bottom saying that they are from us and we'd love for the finder to go to the page and let us know where they found the rock.

That's what the project is.  Saturday was the drop off for artists to bring rocks to the house.  We have over 100 rocks!  YAY!!!  All through December we'll be hiding them throughout West Hartford.  I think it will be really fun.

I did a test run this weekend.  A reporter is doing a story on the group and she wanted us to hide a rock and get pics of someone finding it.  Sounded great ... until I really though about jumping out of the bushes at some stranger I'd been stalking, "HEY YOU FOUND A ROCK!"  No thank you.  So I asked my neighbors to help me out.

I did hide the rock though.  I gave them an area and I let them find it.  Also, they didn't know what the rock would look like, so I tried to keep it as authentic as I could.  Kinda a "Real Housewives" brand of reality.

Here's the rock:

And here are my neighbors (and their smartly dressed doggies) finding it.

I will probably stay close to the scene of the crime (after I hide a few) and I might even take some sneaky pics - but I doubt I'll talk to anyone.  I want these to be little individual treasures.  I don't want to invade the moment.

Tee hee.

Thanks for stopping in!  If I don't get back tot he blog before Thanksgiving (I might, I might not.)  I wish you all a happy meal and safe travels!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Open Studio 2014

Hi all!  Woosh - I've been a busy gal!  But at least my weekends should be free from now on.  (Seeing Mockingjay on Sunday!  Woo hoo!)  Here's my Open Studio Weekend breakdown.

I often like to set up on Fridays, but this year I was on the first floor in the main hallway.  This is great because I don't have to load my art in the elevator and I get a lot of foot traffic.  It's a little bad only in that this is the part of the building with the least amount of security.  Since I had a piece stolen one year, I wanted to lower my odds of theft by setting up Saturday morning. 

Here's how it looked at 9:15am...

 Here's how it looked at 11:15 am ...

Things went well enough.  I didn't make a ton of money (the only painting that sold off the wall is the bowl of plums right next to me, below) but Angela (in the red shirt) and I always have fun!  And it's great to have your friends come and visit you.  Below I am pictured with Stefanie Marco and Hannah Dunnack Jackson, both founding members of the WeHa Artists Emporium with me.

In addition to all the lovely, sane people who come through, (THANK YOU LOVELY PEOPLE) there are always some colorful characters who pass by.

One man in a group looked at my clothes with a quizzical expression, stopped, then said, "Oh, it's an apron."
"Yes," I said.
"But it's practical," he said.
I just nodded as he passed by, wondering what he thought aprons were for in the first place - fashion accessories?  Aren't they always practical?

Another lady was asking me about my books.  As I explained one story to her, I lightly touched her on the shoulder.  She jumped back.  "Don't touch me like that!  I hate when people touch each other like that!  Why do they do it?"
"Um..." I said.  "I think they're just trying to make a connection."
We went on to talk about the books more, me being very careful to maintain a nice buffer of space between us.
When she left, she said, "Oh, and that kind of touching does not make a connection." 
Guess what she was doing when she said that?  Lightly touching my shoulder!

Angela had a good year.  She sold five paintings (I think) off the wall.  YAY!  I sold a painting and a collage.  BOO!  (I mean, yanno, yay - two pieces, but I brought twenty-two.)

Most of what people bought were discounted painting from my rack, prints, cards, Monkey Ono books, a couple t-shirts, all the cat softies, one dog softie, and half of my Tiny Towns.  I'd say the average amount spent was close to $30.  All of which says to me: Don't bring so many framed paintings.  OR make sure MOST of my wall art consists of smaller pieces that I can sell for less that $100.

But it's OK.  I have another show running through December and January at Salon Medusa in West Hartford that I'm doing with the WeHa Artists Emporium which I'm really looking forward to.  And there might be another pop-up show that I'm doing in December back at Artspace.

Always more to do!

Thank you so much for stopping in!