Category Archives: Blogging

DIY Thank You Cards

See that book title, “WordPress 3”? Now that I’ve invested in some new real estate — virtual, that is — I’m putting my DIY inclinations to work. Learning how to maneuver in the backend of a privately hosted WordPress site is a little trickier than expected, but I’m making progress. As soon as the floors are swept and the pillows are fluffed I’ll let you know the address so that you can come on over and have a look-see.

On a more immediate front, I played with some older photography in my favorite-but-about-to-disappear-forever online photo application, picnik, and made a stack of cards for my Thank You Project.

It’s been fun sending them out.


It’s a wrap – 2011

2011 in pictures
1. zig zags and dots, 2. Anthony Hat, 3. knitting dots , 4. hope, 5. Pedigree Pooch, 6. wkshp_shawlette, 7. Blanket Squares, 8. Oceanic Hotel, Star Island, NH, 9. Windowsill in Bloom, 10. Benefits of Worm Castings as Fertilizer, 11. Photo Award Button 200×157, 12. Spring, 13. I made it within the deadline!, 14. Creamsicle Smoothie, 15. February Lady FRONT, 16. Friday afternoon, 17. Miniature Holiday Art display, 18. snowflakes in my window, 19. Miss Marple, 20. Snow flakes

Everyone’s talking about it: acknowledge the past year’s accomplishments before looking forward.  Prevailing wisdom advises that writing ideas down facilitates bringing them to fruition. But for a look back, I began with a visual list. Nothing like a bit of photo fun with the mosaic tool over on BigHugeLabs. Here are a few crafty highlights from my year:

  • an afternoon spent under the tutelage of professional photographer, Gale Zucker, during which she taught knitters about photographing fiber objects  (photo #6)
  • a winning entry in Southern New Hampshire’s 24-hour A Day in the Life photography contest (#11)
  • a roaring good time as online voting took my quilted Spring Runner into the top tier (#13) of the sew-along challenge
  • the inclusion of a brief memory narrative and accompanying photo in an upcoming book by friend and entrepreneur (#14)
  • a terrifically successful birthday gift for my mother, a knitted dog (#5). Jacqueline Russell, as I named her, was delivered to the birthday girl with an authentic birth certificate, and I don’t think my mother has ever been so enthusiastic about one of my gifts. That feels like an accomplishment worth noting!
  • Handmade Holiday gift-giving (#1-3) dominated my list this year, with hats, felted bags, and homemade cocoa mix with marshmallows; sadly, I never got around to photo’ing the Cocoa Kits.

My blog host, Word Press, surprised me with a summary of the year’s activity on “My Artful Life.” Thank you — for reading, subscribing, taking the time to comment, and being on the other end of my keyboard every time I click the ‘publish’ button. Here’s to another year — !

Knitting as Meditation and a Vision Board Surprise

Winter craft meditationI can’t believe it’s close to a month since I last wrote to you. What negligence and with each day that has passed since the end of December, my embarrassment has grown, throwing me into communication-paralysis.

After meeting all of the new end-of-semester obligations as a first-time adjunct, there was Christmas to make happen at home, and immediately on the heels of Boxing Day (I love the relaxed freedom of the day and have adopted the holiday as my own), final semester grades were due. True sighs of relief could then be heard and I had energy for not much more than frogging this project and starting another with the rescued yarn. And it’s been knit-knit-knit as much as possible, ever since. While knitting, my mind is a-swirl with a myriad of thoughts, and this being the calendar crossover from one year to the next, I couldn’t help but think about ideas for going forward.

Looking towards the new year

There’s a new yoga-and-more center nearby, and last week they hosted a vision board workshop. Such fun to go and find the poster board, scissors, glue sticks, and mountains of pretty magazines just waiting for us. To get us going, the instructor first handed out index cards and had us write down 3-5 goals for the coming months. On the reverse side we were to each make a brief list of our gratitudes. Although I kept my index card nearby for frequent reference, there is absolutely no similarity in content between my written list and the images and phrases you see in the picture here of my finished board. I decided that there must be deeper messages coming forward (right brain?) when I felt an immediate connection to one image or another, rather than adhering to the strict narrative of my index card (left brain?). I am certain that my hours and hours of knitting (and reflecting) are at the root.

Classes start up again next week. There are lessons to be planned. Literature to be read. My Knitting Break is over. But the hours of hand work and meandering thinking has delivered me onto the doorstep of the next semester feeling creatively refreshed.

My biggest ambition for 2011? Be attentive to the balance between the demands of the outside world and my creative needs. Essential.

Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by! I hope to be a better (that is, more regular) blogger this year, too.

Everyone’s a Winner

trompe l'oeilA huge thank you if you joined my blogaversary (it’s my third) giveaway. I never tire of hearing from you. So it was easy to decide that everyone should be a winner – I can’t bear to think of anyone being left out.  I’ll be in touch over the weekend for snail mail details. Hope you enjoy your surprise!

This dreamy trompe l’oeil ceiling is from the Women’s National Book Association annual holiday tea party a couple of weeks ago. We were at Boston’s Fairmont Copley Hotel.

Fairmont Copley Hotel WNBA "Lisa Allen"Tea, crustless and dainty sandwiches, and miniature pastries are served in an elegant setting.

"Lisa Allen" WNBAGuest authors/speakers take questions from the audience: (left to right) poet Joan Houlihan, nonfiction author Hobson Woodward, and children’s author Kim Ablon Whitney.

"Lisa Allen" WNBA "Lisa Braxton" "Jenna Sievers"Nothing wrong with trying the podium area out for size! Isn’t the Botticelli/Venus shell something else? Meet two of my writing/MFA pals: Jenna on the left, and Lisa B, President of Boston’s WNBA chapter.

It’s that season …

Winter Berry… when every weekend is jam-packed with once-a-year gatherings and tables are laden with sweets,
… when it’s dark before five o’clock and my pj’s are calling me not long after,
… when the next new year is looming but my mental tally confirms I haven’t yet finished with last year’s list of fun stuff to explore and accomplish,
… when the blogosphere is bursting with holiday decorations that inspire wistful hand-craft envy and calendar panic,
… when I remember that it’s the anniversary of another year in the blogosphere on Dream Big, Live Large !

As my way of thanking you for your loyal readership, I’m cooking up a giveaway. To join in the fun, leave a comment any time through Thursday, December 16th, telling me what keeps you coming back here, what you enjoy reading about, or perhaps seeing in a photo. I’ll let a random-number-generator pick the winner on Friday, December 17th.

Thank You for 2009

I used to think I could manufacture time out of thin air. Why shouldn’t I be able to indulge every single one of my creative interests and curiosities — all at the same time? If the Memoir Project has taught me one thing, it’s that when bringing a new endeavor on board, it is best for both my sanity and the quality of my work, that I put at least one other interest on hold (at least!). So this year, with the MFA‘s monthly deadlines, it was blogging time that slid down a few notches on my priority list. I want to say a warm thank you for sticking with me — in spite of the irregularity of my posts– and sending encouraging emails and posting comments. Each one has been a heart-warmer.

Wishing you a Happy New Year in 2010!

Me, at 14. Portrait by my father, self-taught black-and-white photographer and Ansel Adams aficionado.

The house by the river

These images are from the amazing, jaw-dropping location of our class picnic last week. I’m trying to learn the special features of my Corel Paint Shop Pro and thought I’d take a stab at assembling a collage. It’s not as easy as the mosaic maker on Big Huge Labs, but I like the option of rectangular rather than square collage pieces. In case you’re wondering, “Where are all of the people?” the story is that I never include images of people in my blog without their permission. But here’s one at a distance. Isn’t this place something else? The side of the house that you see in the photo below all face the river, where a bunch of us cooled off with an afternoon swim.