Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sips n Strokes

I have always been fascinated with paintings. While I am a graphic artist, I've never really been able to paint or draw. I often have difficulty with perspective, and I am my own worst critique.

I have a wonderful friend, Sandy whose paintings are so beautiful. I admire her talent and I've always wished that I could paint. Check out her website:

A couple of weeks ago I saw a human interest story on the news about a new business called Sips n Strokes. A franchise had just opened about twenty minutes from my home. My daughter in law and I went the other night.

They do a different painting each night and the featured painting is featured on their calendar. We chose the night where the daisy featured picture.

At first it was a little difficult to determine just how much paint to put on the brush. At first I was afraid that it was going to be terrible, but with each layer I continued on. As the finished picture came in to view, I was pleased with my efforts.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate Review

After the death of his wife, Norm is a prisoner in his own home. His daughter encourages him to move to an assisted living facility, but he refuses. He wants to remain at home with his memories of his wife and children. He laments the time he spent working when he could have been with his family. All those Saturdays at the office in the race against the Russians to the moon. It was an exciting time for him, but now as all he has is a fractured relationship with his daughter. Because he refuses to keep his medicine nearby, he has a near death experience and he recalls a dining room with seven chairs. Norman was an only child, but he distinctly remembers four other familiar red-haired children. Who were they? He struggles to put the pieces together.

Epiphany is a bright high school student, who has moved frequently with her mother. She has never known any kind of stability. Norman's daughter hires her to cook for him. At first, Norman is just a grouchy old man but an unlikely friendship develops between the two and soon they are off on an adventure to discover who the red haired children are in Norman's memories.

But it is more than just the mystery of Norman's past. Who is Epiphany's father? The only family she knows is her mother. She learns her mother's family operates a fine restaurant in the town that they now live in. Why did the families' abandon them? Were they ashamed of her? Will she rise above her unfortunate circumstances?

1,000 Gifts and my first list of 10.

Last night I was fortunate to hear Ann Voskamp at She Speaks. Her book 1,000 gifts is about being thankful for the gifts we receive from God. Here are some of my notes from last night.

Fear is always the notion God's love ends. God is infinite.

Moments add up, never disdain the small.

Why do lives change dramatically when we send thanks out? Those who keep gratitude lists have less depression and make more progress towards personal goals. They experience increased feelings of closeness. And by practicing gratefulness, they are 25% happier.

We were made to give Him thanks, to give Him glory. I lost my husband Mike to cancer a couple of years ago. He lived 11 months after his diagnosis. He was consistently thankful for everything and I must say that at times it did drive me crazy. Sometimes I would retreat to the shower (because it was the only place where he would not hear me) and I would cry and wail and ask God, no I would demand that God tell my why. I have lost so many people that I was close to. Why did he let me find this wonderful man after all my heartbreak only to take him away?

I was having coffee with a friend a couple of weeks ago. She is going through a horrible divorce and it is such a difficult time for her. I tried to be understanding, but I was also surprised. She wanted what I once had. I reminded her that Mike is gone. She reminded me that I had a man who loved me until death parted us.

And so today what am I thankful for? Here are just 10 gifts that I am thankful for.

1. My marriage to Mike, a wonderful loving, caring, and encouraging man.

2. My children, Ryan and Amanda. I am so proud of the people they are becoming.

3. My future grandchild. Amanda and I think it will be a girl, but there is a 50% chance that we are wrong.

4. My brothers. They are each unique and I am thankful to be their older sister.

5. My Mom. We lost her in 2005, but she continues to be a comfort and inspiration to me.

6. My Grandmother. She took me to church every Sunday and she encouraged me to read.

7. My Grandma. In my family, there was a distinction and we all knew which was which. She kept canned Cokes and Reese cups in her refrigerator for us, but she was always the grandparent who gave the most hugs and kisses.

8. My Dad. He is the calmest person I know.

9. My friend, Lisa. My relationship with her is the longest relationship I've ever had outside of family. She's been there with me through it all and I am so thankful she moved in next door when we were kids.

10. Books. They allow me to escape from my life. They teach me things I did not know. They inspire, encourage, and entertain me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good-Bye Harry

This weekend was sad because I said good-bye to Harry. I was first introduced to Harry in 2001. My nephew had just returned from the movie proclaiming it to be the best movie he had ever seen that was made from a book. My nephew was only five at the time. This was also about the time all the controversy began about a young boy who was a wizard featured in a book. Many people proclaimed that they would never let their child read such a book.

I was curious so I read the book and then watched the movie. I continued to wonder what the big deal was about the controversy. Good ultimately triumphs evil. You see this in most fairytales and children's books. The second book came out and I read it. I enjoyed watching Harry, Hermione and Ron growing up and battling the one who should not be named.

I was never one of the ravenous fans waiting impatiently at midnight to get my hands on the next edition. I patiently waited until the following morning and yes they still had copies. Days and weeks later, there continued to be many copies sitting on shelves, tables, and anywhere the local bookstore could place them.

Harry fights valiantly. Hermione and Ron are a couple. Lives are lost on each side of the battle. A reputation is cleared and redeemed. Questions are answered and then in the end we get to meet Harry and his friends 19 years later and see a glimpse of what has been going on in their lives.

As I listened to other theatre patrons speculate on what would happen in the next movie, I couldn't help but laugh. If you've read the books - you know it is the end. J.K. Rowling continues to proclaim that is the end of the Potter series although she is said to be behind a new Potter website that is about to debut.

Is it truly the end? Only time will tell. Should we tell Harry good-bye or maybe see you soon?