Shabby Miss Jenn

Friday, April 11, 2014

Newest WIP Painting

Just thought I'd snap a few photos of the latest painting I've been working on.
Adding texture has become such fun for me.
Nothing beats your hands covered with paint, paper and glue ;)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The spark has been rekindled

I have been neglectful of my little online space here and I'm not missing how ironic the situation is that the blog post that brought me back is about writing. There has been a long list of things that at any true moment I could have sat down and written about. I really did wish to share many of them with you.
I've become well versed in stacking as many obstacles in my path to keep me from doing so.
The reality is I allowed myself to create those obstacles based upon loss of drive to put the time in that it takes. I got lazy. I began second guessing myself. Who reads a blog any more? Aren't most folks caught up in the quick glance news feed of Facebook or the instant imagery from Instagram?

Then I happen to see this little video.
The Universe was sending me a very strong message ....... I listened.

Click this link and watch the video...... I'll wait right here.  ;)

  The Conscious Booksmith: A Mindful Approach to Creating Your Book // with Christine Mason Miller from Animyst on Vimeo.

My soul GASPED for air.
Those voices that had been whispering for me to stop writing were slammed into a box and the key was tossed away for the lock.
It wasn't possible for me to click on the sign up link quicker.

I didn't give myself a moment to second guess or question my actions.
I jumped.
This spoke so loudly to my soul.
I'll admit right here that I shed a few tears.

The incredible imagery used in the video and her heartfelt words..... it was like it was created for me to finally WAKE UP to the reality of the unwritten library within me that needs to come to light.
Years worth of stacked journals; worn pages filled with my thoughts and rambles.
Story lines.
Characters and their details.
Page layouts for photography books.
Family history just waiting to be expanded for future generations to discover.

The whispers of my soul are the voices of characters in my books that I will bring to life.

Do you have a book within you?

Watch the video again.
Then sign up for what I can only imagine is going to be one hell of an incredible journey in bringing our dreams to light!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Turning a Corner and Climbing Out of that Rut

Sometimes you don't even notice you have fallen into the rut
 until you are just walking along and continuously bumping into it.
 It tends to happen to me every now and then and 
I've learned little tricks to ease myself out of them.

Creative people tend to surround themselves
 with other creative people.
They understand things a little better. 
Less confused looks and high arching eyebrows.
No nagging questions of:
Why would you carry little scraps of paper in your purse
 with a pencil sketch and a word hen-scratched over it in ink?
 What do you mean you lay on your pillow at night and over
 30 painting ideas flash thru your thoughts 
while drifting off to sleep?
 They can look at the multiple cut out doll pattern pieces
 and scraps of fabric thumb tacked to the wall
 and not even blink in confusion. 

Luckily for me, social media forums like Facebook
 have made it even easier to surround myself with other artists. 
You start chatting, talking and sharing photos of your work.
You discuss your art background.
 What medium you like to work in.
 You begin to open up further with each other.
You share what art courses you have taken and
 that you fell madly in love with. 
The courses that left you shaking your head
 in confusion get talked about as well.

By far my best loved aspect of having artistic friends is
 when they share OTHER artistic friends with me.

Have you seen the work of so and so? 
I've been listening to you and think you would really 
enjoy the work of this person I know.
Let me show you this painting that I just bought. 
You are going to be amazed.

Two such artists have been the ones 
pulling me out of my creative rut
 and I can't thank them enough.
They don't even know they have
been working magic within my soul.
I am feeling energized and excited 
like a bolt of lightning has struck me.

A good friend of mine contacted me and
 said you have to see this painting.

I was blown away.
It was a life changing moment for me.

The artist is Misty Mawn.
I had never heard of her work until that painting was shared 
with me and a link to her blog.
Within days, I devoured everything possible I could find on her.
 I read her blog from start to now.
I looked at her Etsy shop.
I was over the moon with happiness when I learned she offered online courses.
Fighting the demons in my head saying we didn't have 
extra money to spend on frivolous self indulging whims,
 I signed up for one of her courses. 
Within days of the first few lessons,
 I signed up for another she offered. 
It's like she has awakened something that
 I didn't even know existed within me.
A side of my creative soul that is so different from
 how I have been creating and yet still very much me.
She also has a book so I ordered that and
 was blessed with 5 prints of her work.
 I can hardly wait to frame and 
hang them in my art studio.

 The little message 
she signed to me inside
 was icing to my cake! ;)

 Then I was in the midst of a totally different art course and 
one of the teachers struck such a cord within me.
 Her work makes my jaw drop to the floor.

The artist is Danielle Donaldson.
Once again I found myself consuming every bit of 
information I was able to find on her.
Her website was like no other eye candy I'd discovered.
She too had an Etsy Shop

I found myself sitting at my art table 
surrounded with stacks of watercolor papers
 and tubes of paint. 
Brushes dipped in every 
color of the rainbow.
These two amazing artists have opened my
creative soul to new thought processes.
Art mediums that I haven't touched in years
are being dusted off.
I am painting.
I am taking photos.
Poetry is being written.
I have not been this energized about my creative work
in a very long time and I wanted to
say thank you.
so very much
 for being artists
who share their
 heart and soul
with others.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Finding New Ways to Love my Body Again

 Recently I wrote about my weight loss.
I heard from many people/ friends/family and I thank you.
The continued support while I'm making this life changing
 journey is always appreciated.
It can get a bit crazy at times.

Many times I hear
 "...oh wow, you must just LOVE how you look now..." 
and it tends to stop me in my tracks. 
The answer has been rolling around
 my head and so I thought I'd do this post for 
all to read.
I can't even begin to tell you how shocked I was 
when I went downstairs this evening
 with my camera and when my husband asked 
what I was going to take a photo of....

I said belly!


What was I thinking?
Why would I record that image forever 
in a photograph and then
 POST that on the web?

I bought myself some clothes today 
then posted them on Facebook.

 That inevitable comment occurred. 

Which brings me to these next photos.

In all it's new formed glory ;)
Stretch marks
Saggy skin.
and yet also

So to answer if I "just love how I look now"...

the truth?!

Not really.
But I'm learning to.

Don't get me wrong.
There are aspects that
 I most certainly do LOVE.

I love :

that I breath better;
that my hard work paid off;
that I am stubborn enough to have not given up;
 in moments of struggling I didn't toss in the towel;
when I see a "S" or a "M" on a tag;
when I climb stairs, my knees no longer scream obscenities at me.

I love opening my email and reading messages
 that I've inspired someone.
That reading my posts and seeing my photos
made something click for them and
they are ready to start making changes in their own life.

I love being healthier.
I love being happier.
I love looking back and seeing just
 how far I've managed to bring myself.

Finding new ways to
 love my body again
 is my new goal.

I see my saggy belly.
I see the skin on my arms and legs.
It took me just over two years to lose
the weight. It may take me that long to love
my body again.

I'm willing to take the time.
I'm willing to put in the effort.
I am going to start toning.
Working on building muscle that
winks at me from just below that saggy skin.

This journey is far from over for me.
I will struggle.
I will falter.
I will never give up.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Newspaper Covered Wall and it's connection to my heart

We live in an old farmhouse that belonged to my husbands parents.
It's in the midst of renovations but some areas are
 getting closer to being finished.
 He and I both are drawn towards unique and eclectic items. 
We are not the type to be pigeon-holed
 into one style for our home.

This is upstairs and used to be two bedrooms. He took out the wall between the rooms and
 added an extra window for more light.
 This has been transformed into what
we use as a living room
while downstairs gets renovated.

 See that pile of pink and yellow insulation
 in the next photo?
That is where he built a small dividing wall.

The wall looked like this....and yes....we've been painting color 
on a few of the finished walls too
This needed "something" but we couldn't
pinpoint what we wanted.
It's kind of an odd space to do.
Top of the stairs.

He looked at me one evening and said
I know what we are going to do
 on the wall.

say what?
{Looks to see how much wine
 is missing from the bottle.}
Laughing,he explained watching me apply scrapbook paper
 to a canvas I was getting ready to paint
and the newspaper idea had come to him.
He explained his concept a bit more and I said alright,
 how about I take your idea
one step further?
I went to Facebook and asked friends from all around the world,
if they would send us a newspaper.
We'd end up with different
languages and we'd be able to look at the wall
and instantly think of each of our friends
 who sent us something.
He loved going to the mailbox
and bringing in the packages.
I am VERY blessed that so many of my friends
said they'd send us papers.
He liked hearing who the friend was
 and where I knew them from.
We had a fantastic stack of newspaper happening
and then the other day,
he looked at me and said we are going to start the wall.
He prepped it and we
spread papers on the floor.

 Chose sections of the paper that showcased
where the paper had come from.
Colors and headlines that caught his fancy.

 He applied the paper with this thick goop stuff.
 Wallpaper paste.
Seems to have worked with no issue.

and this is the finished wall
that we are madly loving!

We are letting it sit and fully dry for a few days.
The odd wrinkle that appeared just adds to the
character of the piece.
He could have smoothed it out but 
wasn't worried about it.
He is going to apply a few coats of Varathane
and then we'll begin prepping the other wall
 in this same space.
It's a little bit larger so we'll be 
needing to get more newspapers ;) 


Friday, January 17, 2014

I can hardly believe I'm writing this post already

Who signs up for a 9 week art course and
 within 3 days of it beginning, blogs about it?



It's all because of this woman.
 Jeanne Oliver

This is not the first time I have taken an art course by her.
This is not the first time that she has managed to blow me out of the water
with her teachings and how much she shares of herself and her love of art.

This is the latest art course that I'm taking part in.
Studying Under the Masters{Becoming an Apprentice}
(You can find it here)

Those that may not know this about me already,
I actually have a degree in Graphic Design.
Being engrossed in the world of art has
always been a part of who I am.
I paint. I sketch.
 I love museums.
I love reading about other artists.
Present day and those of the past.
Art history really is a big part of creating.
Can you really begin something like creating art
 without looking at the past?

This art course that Jeanne Oliver created was going
 to have her and 8 fellow artists;
take us on a journey of different "Masters" in the art world. 
What we can learn from their work?
How they created the masterpieces that they did.
How can we as "apprentices" learn from
 these Masters and weave it into our own?

Week one literally just began a few days ago.
Week one is Jeanne's week.
I'm blown away.
I have been watching the videos she created
and just repeating in my head WOW.
The art Master for her was Henri Matiss.
This is not the first time I've been introduced to his work.
I've seen paintings and known they were his.
His work is something I've never felt a strong pull toward.

This is however the first time I've seen his work 
thru the eyes of someone
who truly loves his work.

What a difference.

I am giddy with excitement.
The way she describes his work and how he created.
The way she lights up talking about how to
 incorporate some of the things he did into her own , 
and therefore my own art pieces, has me excited.
I was surprised to learn that
some of the things, I already do!

I just want to grab the largest canvas I have and explore.
Expand myself in new directions.

It's like day 3 .... what am I going to be like
 for the rest of the 9 weeks?

Thank you Jeanne Oliver.
For letting someone share in the excitement
 of the world around us.
For what I can infuse into my own work
 from the Masters before me.
For letting those of us taking this course
 from you,
see a new "Master"
share her heart
 and soul.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's my trick?

These are all photos of me.
Taken over the last few years.
One of the things my family likes to do is little "photo shoots" where we
go to a cool spot and just giggle and laugh. Snapping photos and capturing memories.
Posing and acting like supermodels.

I weighed over 240+lbs.

This is a photo I took of myself this week.
I posted this on Facebook as my profile photo.
My FB wall flooded with messages of "you look amazing".."what a difference"... etc.
I thank everyone that wrote those messages.

My inbox was jammed with private messages asking what my trick was.
As I answered the messages, it brought to mind quite a few thoughts.
Hence it's now becoming a blog post ;)

What's my trick?
What pills did I take?
Was it hard to give food up?
How do I handle not eating the foods I loved?
Was I taking that new thing that Dr.Oz was talking about on tv?
How often was I wrapping myself?

so here's the thing.


I have no tricks up my sleeve that I've been using.
No pills have popped.
I gave no food up.
I have no idea what Dr.Oz has been talking about. (I don't own a tv)
The only wraps I've been touching are filled and look like a tasty fajita.

My weight didn't happen overnight.
It didn't come off that quickly either.
You don't lose weight quickly.
It slowly came off.
It took me a good solid few YEARS to make this change to my body.

I also want to say that when I was large, I was fine with it.
I didn't run and hide when a camera came out.
Many times I was the first one snapping pictures or suggesting the outing.
Sure some photos of myself made me cringe more then others.
I'm sure supermodels feel the same way about some of the photos taken of them too.
I laughed.
I was fun to be around.
I was creative.
I was me.

I just happened to get to a point where my body HURT.
My knees ground together and were so painful.
My back ached.
I huffed and puffed too much for my liking.
I slept like crap.
My skin looked horrible.
My hair was gross.
Did I mention the huffing and the puffing already?
I didn't like that.

That was why I started thinking differently about myself.
I didn't want to change WHO I was.
I wanted to change how I FELT.

I've had this talk with myself numerous times over the years.
I'd stop eating foods that I considered "bad".
I'd become obsessed with working out.
I'd step on the scales numerous times a day.
I'd beat myself up when changes weren't happening in record breaking time.
I'd eat horrible foods in excessive amounts.
The cycle would begin.
and again.

For whatever reason, this time around, it shifted in my head differently.

I didn't give up any food that I love.
I will shred cheese on anything.
I will smother things in gravy.
I will eat potato chips by the fistful.
Pepsi is my go to drink.

I have been known to place cheese and gravy 
on something and then 
wash it down with Pepsi.


I also introduced different things into my eating.
Swiss chard.
Beet greens
Red onions
White onions
Spanish onions
and so much more.
Just about any vegetable that you see when you go into
a grocery store, I have begun to eat. We grew a garden again this year.
We expanded on what we grew.
It was wonderful to walk out and pick a carrot fresh from the ground.
Wipe the dirt onto my jeans and just munch that little bugger back.
crunch crunch crunch
I don't think any snow peas even made it into the house.
All were eaten in the garden while doing other stuff.

We eat meat.
All kinds of meat.
I just learned to eat a smaller portion of it.
My body didn't need me inhaling a huge steak all by myself.
Sure helped on the grocery budget too when a piece of meat
 all of a sudden transforms
into a number of different meals
 instead of just one for me.

Don't go to one.
Trying to set the time aside to go.
The price of gas.
The price of a membership.
A list of excuses running thru my head, longer then I am tall,for why I wouldn't go.
I own a treadmill.
I used it obsessively for a year when I first got it.
It's at my parents house.
It's covered with boxes of Christmas decor and misc other boxes now.

My workout:
Stairs at the farmhouse.
When we began renovations, we started upstairs.
So a living space was created where bedrooms used to be.
14 steps down to the kitchen area or bathroom.
14 steps back up.
14 steps because I forgot something down in the kitchen.
14 steps back up.
14 steps down again PLUS another 12 steps into the basement to do the wood fire.
12 back up. 14 back up.
14 down. 12 down. stoke fire.
12 up. 14 up.

You do that enough times in a day and it can't help but begin to change
the way your body looks and feels.

We have a lot of land with this old farmhouse.
Over the years, it had become overgrown and not usable.
Slowly we started taking bits and pieces back.
Mowing using a push mower.
No ride on mowers here.
I live where we get snow.
No snow blowers here at the farmhouse either.
Shovels. Lots of different size shovels.
Flower beds being brought back to life.
Old plants and brambles being torn out and cleared.
Wheel barrels being pushed across the yard and dumped.
A garden put in.
A garden being expanded on because we feel in love with having one.

We own woods.
We cut our own wood to burn.
Numerous walks into the woods to scout trees to be cut.
Paths over grown. Hills slippery with leaves and rain.
New paths created. Old paths cleared out again.
Cutting those trees and hauling the wood to the truck.
Each piece.
Then off the truck and piled.
Then picked up and piled inside the house after months of drying.
Each piece.

Renovations of the farmhouse.
Have you ever tore out walls?
Old insulation dumped by the bagful.
Full sheets of Gyproc hauled into the house.
Held up against walls while he went for a tool.
Floors ripped up.
Shopvac drug all around trying to keep things somewhat clean during renovations.
Shopvac taken outside and cleaned.

and repeat all of the above.
and over
and over again.

I think one of the biggest changes and best things is we brought some serious flavor into our life.
We have always used fresh ground pepper and hardly any salt.
Garlic happens in just about everything that gets cooked here.
one of the things we began doing was spending time researching foods we wanted to try.
Finding videos online of people cooking different foods.
We'd chose a food.
We'd chose a country to learn about their cuisine.
It opened us up to a brand new array of spices, herbs and blends.
A parade of new foods was placed before us.
When your food is smelling incredible while being prepared and cooked, you can hardly wait to inhale it.
Our pantry shelf is filled with mason jars of spices and dried herbs.
Many things I'd never even heard of before we bought them or grew them.
What were we going to use that in?
Lebanese 5 Spice blend
Brown cardamon
Fish Sauce
Hoisin Sauce
Zatar spice blend
Dried mushrooms.
dried seaweed
and that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Now I won't lie and tell you everything has been incredible
 and I'd eat it by the bucketful.
Some things took me a while.
Some of the stuff he enjoyed more so then me.
I still have to psych myself up to eat seaweed  ;)
Took me 20 years to be willing to try fish sauce again. 
That first brand was horrible! haha

We look at preparing and cooking our meals as something we do together.
It bonds us.
It's sort of like a date for us but in our own kitchen and pantry
 instead of going to a restaurant.  
We have stacks of cookbooks next to the sofa that we read together 
and pick out new recipes to try.
I don't feel a level of resentment at having to cook all the meals.
Or that I have to wash all the dishes.
It happens together.
There are some meals that I cook everything.
There are some meals that he does all the cooking.
For the most part, it's done together.

I don't dread food.
I just needed to learn to see it differently 
and what it was doing to my body.

I have a Pepsi on the desk right this moment.
There is a bag of potato chips on the floor next to my printer.
They haven't been opened yet but they will be.
I don't have to eat the whole bag.
If I do.... I don't have to let it spiral me down into self hatred.

I can eat an extra scoop of swiss chard this evening.
I can walk up and down my stairs a few extra times...even if it's not to stoke the fire.

There are days that I don't want to shovel snow.
There are days that I think I'm going to let that patch of yard 
grow over again because I don't want to mow.
I sweat in places I didn't even know could sweat.

I also want to mention that I have a new body to learn to love.
It was amazing to know I dropped the weight.
My joints don't scream at me at any given moment of the day or night.
I fall asleep as soon as my head hits my pillow now.

But it's not all been fantastic once I got here.

Excess skin is everywhere.
Stretchmarks cover my body.
My boobs are never going to look the same.

I loved myself when I was large.
I'm learning to love myself looking this way too.

I didn't change.
I'm still kind.
I'm still opinionated.
I'm still able to make you laugh quickly.
I'm still creative.

I'm still a beautiful soul.
I look in the mirror and tell myself that every day. 





Monday, January 06, 2014

Six Days into my Word of the Year *Expand*

Six days doesn't seem like much but I'm excited already in the ways I've chosen to weave my word of the year *Expand* into my life for 2014. Sitting down at my desk, I took out sheets of paper and just wrote what flowed from my heart. I didn't want to overwhelm myself with too many areas at once though. In large letters I wrote "BUSINESS" down and then started jotting what flashed thru my mind.


Those are the key aspects of my creative soul.
How was I going to expand on those?
Reach within.
Reach out.
Other artists

The pieces of paper filled quickly.
Notes and scribbles soon gave way to structure.
Different colors were used to draw my attention to important key thoughts.

I dream of expanding my art so it only made sense to look for art courses.
Having had such great joy and learning experiences with Jeanne Oliver in the past, I signed up for her latest course. It really took no long thinking on my part.

Studying Under the Masters

 A nine week course with over 60 discussion and technique videos from these amazing artists:
Katie Kendrick, Stephanie Lee, Kate Thompson, Christy Tomlinson, Junelle Jacobsen, Danielle Donaldson, Teresa Sheeley, Jenny Wentworth and Jeanne Oliver.

Some of the artists I already know and enjoy their work immensely. Others are new to me and it's been wonderful to peak into their world. I can feel already this was a good choice for me.

Then with a little bit more talking with fellow art loving friends, I was pointed in another direction to this incredible course.

  LifeBook 2014

This one is a year long course by Tamara Laporte and she has enlisted the help of 22 other artists as well.

There is "buzz" happening from a few of the other artists that I adore about art courses they too will be hosting this year. Will have to wait to see about joining in on those courses as well. These two that I have already signed up for are pretty intense and need my attention. I don't want to lose focus.

I looked up from my paper and scribbles and saw my camera.
Anyone that follows me on Facebook knows I am always snapping a picture of something.
I have a stack of books on the shelf behind my craft table. I'll be burying my nose in those this year again and really putting them to good use. They aren't helping me expand by gathering dust ;)

I started typing keywords into search engines and voila.
Found something that struck a cord with me.

The Workshop Workbook by Work of Heart Photography

On Facebook

Now taking pictures of children isn't really my usual subject matter BUT I do take photos of people in general. This came with a wealth of incredible information that is easily adaptable. The posing guide alone was awesome to read. My mind started racing with ideas.
I'm VERY excited to see how I expand with the aid of this investment.
Somehow the universe knew too because I've already been contacted by a family to have me take their photos later in the year. I'm thrilled!

Did you pick a word for 2014?
Have you begun to weave it into your life already?
Share how as I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Books (so far) on my Kindle

Have been getting asked what books 
I've downloaded to my Kindle so far.
Figured it would be fun to create a post with links 
in case anyone else was interested in them.
I haven't gone overboard with downloads. 
Can't go into the poorhouse too quickly ;)

The first book I ordered (and am now reading)....

and I just HAD to order this next book.
 I so look forward to snuggling down under heavy quilts,
 sipping hot chocolate and reading chapter after chapter. 
If I know how I read a good book,
 this one will be finished in one sitting.

What books are you reading at the moment?
Have you read any of these?


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Who knew I would be this excited about a Kindle?

 Those have always been the images in my head of books.
Stacks of them. 
Piles of them. 
Bookshelves overflowing.
Soft cover
Hard cover
The smell of the pages as they turn.
The sound of a spine being opened for the first time.
Bookstores have always been a source of peace and calm to me.
Hours upon hours spent just walking the aisles and touching spines.
Eye candy forever.

Then something shifted within me...

An e-reader.
My book loving brain was talking crazy talk.

I started tossing the idea around of maybe wanting to own an e-reader.
A wealth of books all held in one place.
I asked friends which ones they had.
Pros and cons.
Some of my friends were totally against the idea of an e-reader.
Some of my friends that I knew breathed books, actually said they had one.
I started looking around and researching thinking that at some point in the 2014,
I would look into getting one.


Christmas 2013

My husband who for the most part truly has such a horrible time with the holiday season,
called my mother one day while I was at work.
He wanted to know if there was anything that I'd maybe been talking about wanting.
Something that he would be able to surprise me with for Christmas.
Her mind went blank ( really Mom?! haha)
After talking with some other family members, she called him back and told him
about my interest in an e-reader.
Order one.
That is what I'll get her.

On Christmas day, he told me my gift was delayed in arrival due to the ice storms
we had been having. A look of confusion crossed my face.
We had already purchased something for the farmhouse and that is what we said
was going to be our gift to each other.

He looked at me and said..... I got you the Kindle you wanted.
Tears sprang to my eyes as my heart swelled with love for this man.
I was blown away by this gesture from him.

I have stalked the mailbox every day since.
Tracking number.
Calls to the Post Office.
More bad weather. More delays.
A call to work last night.
UPS had knocked on the door and it was here.

Today starts a new journey within my love for reading.
I'm already to spark that bad boy up and download my first e-book.

I've got plans to snuggle on the sofa under my quilt and read.