Category Archives: Projects

Homemade Bath Salts

Bath SaltsOne of my favorite ways to relax and unwind is to take a hot bath with homemade sea salts, which are extremely cheap and easy to make compared to what you would find prepackaged at the store. Here is a basic recipe that will make one cup of bath salts, but you can always increase it to make a larger batch.


1/3 c Epsom Salts
1/3 c Sea Salt
1/3 c Baking Soda
15-20 Drops of Essential Oil*

1. In a large bowl mix together equal parts of Epsom salts, sea salts, and baking soda.
2. Add the essential oil(s) of your choice. My favorite mix is equal parts of lavender, orange, and beramont. But you can always stick by with a simple blend of lavender. And if you are feeling adventurous, you can add some grounded up dried herbs* as well such as peppermint.

* Always make sure the essential oils and herbs you use are safe to use on the skin.

Source: Gifts for Herb Lovers

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How to make your own Exercise Journal

Exercise JournalBack in college, I created a exercise journal, and discovered how logging my workouts would become one of the biggest success factors in keeping me motivated to workout. By taking the time to write down my workouts, I had a list of my accomplishments in black and white that illustrated how far I had come.

For many of us, time is usually one of the biggest barriers to developing and sticking to a workout routine. But to be completely honest, I was just as busy back then as I am now. During college, not only did I go to school full time, I also worked, and participated in the art community. Thus, my workouts were not always the traditional treadmill or lifting weight routine. Sometimes I would log dancing at the Pub on Friday night. Other times, my source of exercise was walking at the mall or gardening. Basically, any activity that got me moving was noted so by the end of the week, I did feel as though I accomplished something.

Exercise is never a chore if you find activities you love.

Having a workout routine that was flexible and ever changing was probably one of the main success factors that kept me working out solid for the three years I logged workouts. To me, exercise was never a chore because I chose activities I loved to do. While I had a core routine of walking/jogging and lifting weights, if I didn’t feel like working out at the gym…I did it at home. If I didn’t feel like doing the usual routine…I did something else. I’d go swimming or riding my bike. If I needed some motivation, I’d find somebody to workout with for that day. If I was starting to feel sick, but still wanted to workout, I just do some simple, gentle stretches. And occasionally, I would even make up my own routines such as funny ball. It’s my version of tennis since I cannot play it to save my life. The basic premise is just to keep the ball moving…it doesn’t matter where it goes on the court just as long as it keeps moving…it’s a good alternative to real tennis if you’re like me and zero coordination/skill even after taking summer tennis lessons.

Exercise JournalAnother key ingredient of my exercise journal is inspirational clippings. Each page is decorated with motivational quotes, pictures, or exercise tips that I cut out of fitness magazines or printed from the computer. And if you’re an artist, I suppose you could even draw little figures working out. By taking the time to personalizing your journal, you’ll really start to look forward to noting your progress.

I refuse to let myself feel guilty when I miss a workout.

However, there will be times when you don’t workout, and I would log those too. Getting sick, having surgery…all of those are valid excuses not to work out. And during the times when my excuses were not exactly valid, I would note the effects of not working out. Typically, I was not handling stress and feeling as energetic during those periods. And when I would note the changes, it would serve as a tool to motivate me to get back into the routine because I had a journal full of workouts telling me that making time to work out always left me feeling healthy, positive, and less stressed. But also keep in mind, that we’ll always go through periods when we get out of the routine so don’t beat yourself up…just get back into the groove.

To get you started, here are some details you may want to record in your exercise journal:

  • Time of day: Are you a morning or night person?
  • Details: If you are weight training, how many repetitions and sets did you complete? How many pounds did you lift? If you are cardio training, how long did you workout? Over time, these details are a way to measure your impovement.
  • Weather: Was it sunny and warm? Or cold and brisk?
  • Workout Buddies: Did you do the afternoon jogging routine with a friend?
  • Mood: How did you feel before the workout? How did you feel afterwords? Did the workout spark any ideas?
  • Health: How are you feeling phyically? Fatigued? Energic?
  • Inspirational Clippings: Cut and paste inspirational quotes, pictures, and exercise tips into the journal.
  • Excuses: And if you just can’t seem to workout…log the reasons why. Sometimes they are valid excuses such as getting sick.
  • A list of favorite workouts: By having a list, you’ll have a good resource of choices for those days when you’re at loss of what to do.
  • Goals: Log what you hope to accomplish in the next week or month. And list a reward if you accomplish it…maybe a new workout outfit or some new exercise equipment.
  • Week in Review: Weekly check in are a good way to judge how the workout routine is going. Is your motivation slipping? Or do you find yourself becoming more committed everyday?
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Photo Shoot Ideas

A list of places & things that I would like to get around to shooting:

In Florida, we have several beautiful parks, and there is one that I have in mind that has the most beautiful live oaks trees that twist in all these interesting directions, definitely interesting subject matter.

Ybor is the old Cuban neighborhood where you can always find a good cigar, a stiff drink, and a pretty lady to dance with. In recent years, they have worked to renovate the area to make it family friendly so there is a outdoor mall, a movie theatre, and a couple interesting stores that you can visit during daylight hours.

Tarpon Springs is a little Greek community in the area that has a historic area along with a tourist area down by the sponge docks that would be interesting to shoot sometime.

We have two downtown districts within the area that I would like to sometime drive down to shoot.

A little art community in the area that I would like to visit sometime when the weather starts to cool off.

As corny as it sounds, it has been awhile since I took a sunset picture at the beach.

I don’t know why, but I have always thought it would be interesting to go to the flea market to take pictures. Although, I’m sure I would get tons of weird looks, not to mention, would the sellers even let me take picture’s of their stuff without buying anything?!

We have four botanical gardens within driving distance that I can think of that I would like to visit.

Several years back, I was driving to work, and something magical happened. I don’t know how to describe it, but the lighting that morning created this beautiful hue on this factory that I past everyday. It was one of those events that never reoccurred, but to this day, it sparked my interest in going on a photoshoot of something industrial.

Back home, the university I attend had one of the largest outdoor sculpture collections, and just in the past couple of years, the city commissioned several statues for the downtown area and I do mean several. A year ago, when I went back for my sister’s graduation, she humored my love of photography and we went downtown for a photo shoot. The submission for today and yesterday are just a couple of the shots I got, now if I only I knew where to find statues down here besides the store.

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Favorite Things to Do

My husband and I are always discovering different ways to spend time together. Our latest project together has been photo shoots to be utilized in art projects. But in the past, it has been as simple as a nightly tea ritual where we would sit and have tea together and read the Taoism thought of the day.
To me, creating art is a spiritual experience. It engages your entire soul, and if your heart isn’t into it, it shows, so lately, I have been diverting my attention to other projects until my muse returns once more to inspire me.
Whether on the web or in person, I love conversing with fellow artists. To me, it’s an inspirational experience. When you’re discussing the arts, something happens, one thought leads to another, and you’ve got another idea for a project.
I don’t know about you, but walking into the bookstore is like walking into a candy store for me. All those idea just waiting to be read and experienced, often I don’t even have to buy anything to get inspired. Just the experience is enough to get the ideas flowing.
I have always had a passion for plants. Getting outside and working with the basic elements of life, there is just something about it. Often I can spend hours in the garden even when it is hot and humid.
Walking has always been therapy for me, it doesn’t matter what the problem, a simple walk can fix it all. It helps blow off steam. It can often spark a solution to a problem. And if nothing else, it’s just good to do.
What artist doesn’t love to go to the art store and just walk down the aisles dreaming of all the things they could do with this or that?
When is the last time you heard a song that just made you wanna get up dance? Dance is an excellent way to raise your heartbeat and bring a smile to your face. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, just go with the flow and have fun.
To me, the spiritual element is a very important piece of my life, and often simple rituals such as lighting a candle and saying a prayer are the best ones. You just gotta make it a habit, part of your daily routine and it becomes second nature.
I am very close with my family often talking to them several times a week, time permitting.
While I don’t consider myself a photographer in any sense, I do love to take photographs as my husband, co-workers, and family especially my sister well knows. You can take me anywhere…downtown, the forest, the beach…and I’m in seventh heaven clicking away.
A couple years ago, I officially discovered scrapbooking not realizing that I have been doing it all along. While it’s been awhile since I have had the time to scrapbook, I would like to get back into habit. So far, I have a backlog of photos from family vacations, our wedding not to mention the family heritage scrapbook that I would like to make.
Writing has always played an important role in my life. As we joke around in our household, it helps keep sense of the madness, but it is also a very rewarding experience. When you take the time out of your day to reflect, to ponder, you see your world in a totally new light that if you just went about your day from activity by activity.
Back home, I created a catch phrase with my friends called “Fun Filled Days”. It represented those days where you just went with the flow and you did whatever fun event came up and you did a lot of it. That is, you wouldn’t just stop at one fun thing, you would go from one thing to another. A typical fun filled day could be as cheap as taking your camera out from place to place, stopping to eat, and then going back at it.
Making collages is a favorite pastime, and in reading Collage Discovery Workshop, I’m discovering even more techniques to utilize in collage.
While I don’t do it as often as I like, I do enjoy going out to see local artists and their works of art.
As a child, I spent most of my summers either at Lake Michigan or at the pool so I love hanging out at the beach. But I’m not the typical girl that can’t stand to get my hair wet. I’m quite the opposite and usually spend most of my time in the water snorkeling when we’re at the ocean or swimming if it’s a pool.
18. YOGA
Back when I first got sick with mono, I started to study yoga as a means to stay health since I always seemed to get sick, and through the years, it is something that I continue to do out of habit.
Back when I was a traveling consultant, I used to treat myself to professional massages, and my, what a treat that was! But now that I’m married, I’m blessed with a husband that gives me foot rubs almost every night!
Even when my budget has been tight, the thrift store and flea market have been good places to check out when I get into shopping mode. And often, I discover something interesting and unique that you just couldn’t find anywhere else. One of my favorite things I found at the thrift store is this little blue pottery dish, and if it wasn’t for the flea market, I wouldn’t have started to grow orchids.

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How to Get Started in Pastels

My experimentation with soft pastels started about ten years ago. It started with a cheap box of 24 colors, a plain black journal, and of course, a can of fixative spray. Nothing fancy just the essentials. When I first started working the pastels, I didn’t have any composition in mind, I just sketched. And to me, it was a magical experience. The colors were so vivid and I could blend and create effects that could take hours in painting. After my first pastel sketch, I was hooked. Soon my brushes and paints became dusty while I experimented with the pastels. And to this day, soft pastels are my medium of choice. They travel anywhere I go. I can start sketching at a moment’s notice without the prep work that can be involved with painting. And they are very inexpensive. While you can spend a great deal of money on higher grade pastel kits, I am still working with student grade pastels and am very content with the results.

pastelsSo how does one go about getting started in pastels? Well, at first, you need to understand that there are different types of pastels . . .

Soft pastels are the medium that I work in. On the plus side, they are great at blending colors and creating a wide range of effects. On the down side, they are dusty and messy, but as an artist, I’m don’t feel I am creating unless I do create a little bit of mess. Let’s just say I’m proud of my paint stained shirts. To me, that’s an art form in itself. Soft pastels can also break easily. But you can continue to work with them. To me, it’s not as upsetting as when I was a child and I broke a new crayon.

Hard pastels are used for preliminary sketching. I actually purchase a set of hard pastels once by accident, and have hardly used them. To me, they are very difficult to work with. However, I have heard that you can sand the ends so color flows better onto the paper. Also, some pastel manufactures try to sell hard pastels saying they are firmer and break less. Yes, this is true, but you want your pastels to have some softness. Otherwise, you spend all day trying to achieve the same results.

In my opinion, if you want to do some preliminary sketching or touch up the detail at the end of a sketch, you should buy a small set of pastel pencils, which will sharpen easier than the hard pastels.

And then, there are oil pastels. Oil pastels are completely different from soft pastels. The consistency is similar to a waxy crayon (sort of). While you cannot blend oil pastels, you can use a little turpentine on a brush to create some blending results. Also keep in mind that oil pastels don’t travel as well. If try to take them to the beach or even just leave them in your car, since they are wax based they will melt. At one time, I owned a set of oil pastels, but I think I ended up giving it to my sister, they just don’t have the same versatility as soft pastels. And you cannot mix the two.

Now that you have an understanding of the different types of pastels, the next step would be paper. In all honestly, pastels will work on any paper surface, but different types of paper will obviously create different results. For my pastel journal, the paper is just plain smooth paper, which allows for a lot of blending when working with soft pastels. However, one thing to note when working with soft pastels is that your colors can become very muddy very fast if you are not careful. When working with soft pastels, you can only layer so much color before you with a) need to call it quits or b) apply a small mist of workable fixative spray so you can continue to add more layers if you so choose. However, in my experience, even after you add the fixative, you cannot quite build up layers in the same way that you can with painting so if you find yourself wanting to keep working on the piece, you might want to purchase paper that has more texture. For example, you can use watercolor paper, sandpaper, mi-teintes (designed with pastels in mind), or you can even apply gesso (a painter’s primer) to any surface. You can also select colored paper for some dramatic results. And if you do decide to purchase a bound sketch pad to work in, only sketch with your pastels on one side. Even when applying the fixative spray, over time the sketches will rub against each other. And by only sketching on side of the page, you can write poetry or little thoughts about the sketch you made at the time. Again, experiment and see what works for you.

When it comes to pastels, you don’t need a lot of accessories, and some of them you can even find around your house, which makes pastels a very affordable hobby. In all honesty, I have rarely used any accessories when working with pastels. While you can purchase brushes to help blend colors on the page, I normally just use my fingers. I think sometimes the oils from your hands help the pastel adhere to the page whereas brushes can brush away too much color. If you don’t have the budget to purchase brushes and you don’t like getting your hands messy, you can try cotton swabs or tortillons, which are just regular paper rolled up and taped. If you are using soft pastels, you’ll probably want to purchase a kneadable putty eraser, which is handy at correcting mistakes and very cheap, and of course, you’ll need a can of fixative spray. Just keep in mind that when you use the fixative, you want to apply a small fine mist several times. If you saturate the paper, it can and will ruin you sketch. So I would recommend that if you haven’t worked with spray paint before that you might try the fixative out on some your rough sketches before apply it to something you like. Oh, and if you are flying, take tracing paper with you and leave the fixative at home. The airport security will and has taken my cans of fixative (even on checked luggage). The tracing paper will help keep protect your sketch until you can apply the fixative. Oh, and one last accessory that is nice to keep on hand is a damp rag or baby wipes to clean your hands as you sketch.

Over time, your soft pastels will start to get dirty from being mixed with other colors. Instead of throwing them away and getting a fresh new box, you can clean them by getting a small bag of cornmeal, which is very cheap. Place the cornmeal in a container along with a couple pastel sticks and watch as the cornmeal just sucks up all the nasty dust. Pretty soon, they look like new!

So to sum it all up, here is a list of supplies and a handy check list to use when preparing your pastels for the road:

* Box of pastels
* Pastel pencils or charcoal for sketching (pencil shows through)
* Paper/Sketchbook
* Drawing board or book (if using loose sheets of paper)
* Masking tape (to hold down the paper if sketching outdoors)
* Kneaded eraser
* Tortillons or cotton swabs
* Rags or baby wipes
* Fixative or tracing paper

And for further information on supplies, you might check out Dick Blick art materials. I have not personally purchased supplies from them, but they do have an excellent page devoted to pastels supplies.

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Pastel Journal

My painting is always ahead of my understanding. It is a sort of teaching process for myself, a way of spiritual knowledge.

~ Peter Rogers

Pastel JournalIn my pastel journal, there are no planned layouts or designs. Each entry is completely free-style. I simply find a comfortable spot, and choose a color that calls out to me. Then I close my eyes and let the color speak for itself. The pastel color moves my hand across the sketchbook as if it was an ouiji board and the divine heavens were calling out to me to communicate secret messages only meant for my eyes.

I may pause in mid stream thought, drop one color and choose another to fulfill the vision. Eventually, the visual message is complete and I’ll write an accompanying written journal entry.

Sketching in my pastel journal is a magickal act that captures a moment in time. Each page is an abstract snapshot of my emotions, my feelings, and my thoughts. It may be a mood captured in the heat of the moment or a simply a passing thought that feels the need to be expressed.

Pastel JournalHaving an outlet to express my thoughts and feelings is an essential element of daily life for my spirit. Getting my thoughts out on paper allows me to analyze and organize my thoughts and feelings in a rational frame of mind, the good, the bad, and the ugly. When I don’t pause to capture the moment, thoughts pile up in the back of my mind and slowly but surely I lose myself or at least that’s what the dramatical artist inside me thinks. However, sometimes a simple retreat out to my garden to ground myself might be all I need to get back on track. While it is important to set aside time for inner reflection, it is equally important to reach out in the world, to connect with the rest of life.

Each day of human life contains joy and anger, pain and pleasure, darkness and light, growth and decay. Each moment is etched with nature’s grand design, do not try to deny or oppose the cosmic order of things.

~ Morihei Ueshiba, O’Senei


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