Tag Archives: family

It’s on Like Donkey Kong

You missed us, didn't you?

Nervous hands typing….

Dear diary,

It’s been a long time since my last entry.  Nothing much has been happening around here except perfecting awkward family photos and eating large quantities of food. I think we all needed a break from school and setting goals and achieving them (except I’m now a week into P90x and no, I will not be posting before pictures). Jon’s back to school today and it seems fitting to start up again. I will still be posting all about being a momma, doing what you love, and living a creative life. The new name? I think we’ll go with Drawing a Blank, Creative Living and Parenting.

Paintings are bigger in 2011

I wanted my first post project post to be full of wit and charm and excitement but I’m feeling a little gun shy.  I’m still working on the same piece I started on the first of the year and I haven’t gotten new images shot or my press packets together.  I’m just not working at the same brisk pace as when the project was looming large. I think I will start to declare arbitrary deadlines here to make myself accountable to my interweblog readers. My first arbitrary deadline will be to get my gallery submission packets together by Sunday and have them shipped to at least 5 galleries by Monday…I already feel more in control and motivated, thanks blogosphere.

Ok enough backpedaling, I’ve been snuggling with everyday life and that’s not a bad thing. My kids and my man are being lavished with attention and baked goods (got my first cavity yesterday, goodbye sugary treats, I’ll miss you terribly).

I have however, made some really awesome trades, here’s the run down:

Traded for:

Sweet day of the week hand towels and kid napkins from my very talented aunt Kathy

A kids bike trailer

A pair of See Kia Run shoes for Milo and a hand sewn cape and cuffs set

5 bottles of really good vino

2 lbs of coffee every two weeks from Batdorf and Bronson (soooo good)

Morning, perfected.

Hand thrown mugs with which to drink the delicious coffee by Tony Deland (he’ll do custom orders if you ask him nicely)

A massage for my dear mum (Katherine Nelson is amazing if you are in the Denver area)

Paintings by Alyson Kahn

The talented Mrs. Kahn

A logo for Fessler Masonry from  Lauren Carbon at Slice.

If we’re still working on a trade or a purchase, message me and let’s get it together!

P.S. After spotting Jon’s Thundercats comic, Milo has become desperate to get his hands on any  figurines, will trade art, left arm, etc…


She’s crafty, she gets around (in a huge SUV).

After reading Miss Wrangler’s post on making a sweet soaker this morning, I go to thinking about getting crafty. I’m one of those chicks with a failed Etsy, bins and bins of fabric, drawers of yarn, needles, paint, thread, tools, felt, and all other stuff that might one day become something sweet. In the fall and winter months I just want to cozy up, bake some muffins (which did not turn out well at all) and get to making something.

Apple oat yuck muffins

Milo, Day seventy-seven

I’ve decided this year to make sets of cloth napkins out of reclaimed fabric as holiday gifts (now you all know what you’re getting). Thinking that now would be the time to learn how to use the serger my grandma got for my mom a few years back, I asked my mom to bring it over.  After dinner last night, we went out to the car to retrieve the serger…um, yeah.

So many parts...

These are the directions.

I am reading Radical Homemakers right now and in one part of the book, the author says that we have lost the ability or the belief that we can teach ourselves things. I think I agree. It’s easier to buy something than it is to make it or to fix it yourself. We just had to buy a new fridge after only five years because they manufacture them so they will not last and if they do break, the repair costs are equal to just buying a whole new fridge.

Day seventy-six

Day seventy-seven

This is just part and parcel of all sorts of consumer guilt I’ve been having these days…I buy beans in cans, I buy frozen sweet potato fries, I shop the clearance rack a Target, I buy baby wipes instead of making them myself, I only cloth diaper at home and I put them in the dryer, I drive a giant SUV, I have a DVR, I lather, rinse and repeat. I am hopeless. In my wildest dreams, I am living off only the goods and foods I can grow and barter for. I am sewing my children’s clothes from flour sacks. I ride my trike with one kid in the Ibert and one kid in the trailer laden with fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. Too much? Ok, maybe I just take a little bit more time to use a little bit less and be a little bit more useful.

The art teacher forgot that when you mix all the colors, you get brown, sparkly brown.

I am still super intimidated by this machine. I’m a pretty quick study for the most part and I am determined to figure this thing out (with the possibility of a few phone calls to Aunt Kathy, the sewing machine queen). Hopefully, neither our crayon recycling project yesterday, nor my failed muffins this morning will be an indicator of future crafting success.

I’ll trade you a painting for…

...a guitar solo.

I was talking to my mom the other day and she was asking me if lots of people were buying my work. The answer is no. A few pieces have sold and I am super grateful for that. She was saying that the sentiment that she heard from people was, “if only I had a $100.” It bummed me out and I immediately made a list in my mind of all the beautiful supportive people who have followed this project and shown their appreciation for our work. Why should only the people who have $100 get to have a painting? My efforts are worth something, yes. But are they only worth money?

In my mom’s new novel she wrote about a place where dollars don’t have value:

As Sachi ushered Adam and Gertrude into her bakery new aromas overwhelmed his senses—cinnamon, yeast, nutmeg and something rich and warm like roasting garlic. His mouth started watering.

Sachi said, “Welcome to the Solas bakery. This is my contribution.”

Adam raised his eyebrows. “Contribution?”

“Yes, this is what I give to the community. Everyone here chooses a contribution when they turn 18.”

“You mean like a job?”

Sachi scowled at him. “I remember Meara telling me about jobs. They are not at all the same thing as contributions. Contributions are done with love.”

The bell above the door tinkled as a young woman with a long blonde braid and little girl entered the bakery. Sachi greeted them. The little girl peered at Adam and Gertrude from behind her mother’s skirts, her blue eyes round with astonishment. Sachi squatted down next to her. “This is my brother, Adam, and his friend Gertrude. They have come to stay with us.

The mother took a loaf of bread from the cooling rack by the door. “We’ll see you at the feast. Welcome to Solas.” Then she walked out the door.

Adam said, “She didn’t pay for the bread.”

Sachi said, “Pay?”

“You know with money.”

“Another thing Meara told me about—money. That’s little pieces of paper your people exchange for goods and services? What a strange thing that is. We exchange energy.”

“Energy? How does that work?

“Well, my contribution is baking. I put my energy into breads and pies and the like. The woman who just left is a weaver. She creates fabric. When I need fabric I go to her studio and pick out what I need. Her energy for mine.”

“And, that works out?’

“Of course it does. We do not get. We create. Is there a better way?”

Day seventy-one

Day seventy-two

When I wrote that I would not give away my artwork I immediately felt badly. Over anything else my desire is for my work to be valued by people. I want my artwork on the walls of people’s homes who will appreciate, it not just the ones who can afford it. My energy, creativity, and time are valuable and so are the time, creativity, and energy of everyone else.

We want to teach our kids that people and relationships are more important that money and stuff. When Jon and I were talking about this, Milo piped up and said, “I don’t need anything, I have everything I want.” I’ll give my artwork away. Love that boy.  We want him to value his efforts and show value for others.


So here’s the new plan, you like it and it’s yours with a few caveats.

You are welcome to pay full price (I do have a mortgage, preschool tuition, college tuition, and health insurance bills that won’t take paintings as payment), you can pay what you can (minimum of $20/unframed and $50/framed to cover materials and shipping), or you can trade me or some combo of cash and trade. We spent the better part of the morning coming up with a list of big and small scale trades. I am happy to negotiate any type of trade and maintain the ability to say yes or no.  Some things on our list are worth more than the cost of one framed work of art and we can chat on multiple works for services.

Visit the website and send me an email with the work of art you’d like and how you’d like to procure it and we’ll go from there. Don’t be shy. I am super excited to see how this all works out. I don’t want a stack of unlooked-at paintings. It’s time for my little babies to go into the world.

I’ll be posting about what trades go down.

I am also interested in the kids learning about bartering. So mamas and papas, Milo wants to trade your kid something for a custom work of art (hint: Milo likes other kid’s art).

Here’s the list (I’ve a few of you in mind specifically…)

  • Artwork
  • Haircuts
  • Mittens
  • Hats
  • Clothes
  • Massage
  • Ceramics (my  favorite mug just broke, hint hint)
  • Hand-made jewelry
  • Books
  • Quilts
  • Pay off our student loans
  • Food
  • Cloth diapers/covers
  • Car maintenance/repair
  • Paint exterior of house
  • Kitchen remodel
  • Eyeglasses/contacts
  • Seeds
  • 2, 14” wide bedside tables
  • Wine glasses
  • Shipping supplies or unlimited access to someone’s UPS account
  • Closet organizers
  • Music
  • Poetry
  • Size 8 or 9 boy shoes or slippers
  • Cell phones and coverage
  • A mountain bike
  • Donate breast milk
  • Donate 5 hours of your time at your neighborhood public school
  • Kids bike trailer
  • Contribution to kids’ college fund
  • Bread machine
  • Canned deliciousness
  • Baked goods
  • Hugs
  • Virtual hugs (If your name is Jessica, this is all I need from you xoxo)
  • Photo shoot
  • Babysitting
  • Fresh flowers
  • Business cards
  • PR
  • Web design
  • Baby toys
  • Children’s books
  • Dress-ups  for Milo
  • Crocheted/knitted things
  • Frames
  • Commemorative plates from states we’re not likely to ever visit
  • Cool rusty stuff for Jon’s rust farm
  • 3 plane tickets to:

o   Pennsylvania

o   Southern California

o   Northern California

o   Helsinki

o   Fairbanks

o   Portland

o   Madison

  • House cleaning
  • Yoga classes
  • Art supplies
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wall space in your shop/gallery
  • Dental care
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Facials
  • Mountain cabin/condo use
  • Electroshock therapy for Jon (his choice)
  • Beer (homemade or other)
  • Wine (homemade or other)
  • Whiskey (preferably not homemade, no one wants to go blind)
  • Mead (preferably homemade)
  • Plants
  • Sharpies for Milo
  • Dinner at your restaurant
  • Door installation
  • Windows for our very chilly single-pained glass sunroom studio
  • Good old fashioned cash money, what you can afford
  • Worm compost set up
  • Homemade bath and body sweetness
  • Cloth napkins and kitchen towels
  • Spanish lessons for me or Milo
  • Vintage aprons
  • Dog walking

Other things/services we have to barter:

  • Cookies
  • Babysitting
  • House/Dog sitting in Whittier
  • Homemade organic baby food
  • Art lessons for kids
  • Stonework
  • Brick repair
  • Mending clothes
  • Framing/matting
  • 0-6 month baby boy clothes
  • Handmade bibs, burp rags, and blankets
  • Knit hats
  • Mural painting
  • Custom artwork and portraiture

Inspiring the Fesslers towards happiness

Inspiring aren't I?

When I was I college I took an advanced ceramics class. One day in class we watched a video on some ceramicist (I can’t remember his name) who talked at length about what makes a really great ceramic drinking vessel. We had to examine our concept of a just-right vessel. Does it hold the right amount of liquid? Does it feel right in your hand? Is it weighted properly? How does it feel when you hold it to your mouth? Does it keep your coffee or tea or whatever the right temperature for the right amount of time? What is the glaze like? Does the shape appeal to you visually? All of these things suddenly mattered. A mug. I have a few perfect vessels. One for tea, one for coffee. My tea mug was made by a mentor teacher and I formulated the hideous glaze. The mug feels light but substantial, it keeps my tea warm for a long time, the lip of the mug is not too fat and not too thin, I feel at ease when I have this mug in my hand. My coffee mug is a standard issue diner style coffee mug that we got on our honeymoon from the bed and breakfast Jon used to work at in Alaska.

Day 57

Day fifty-seven

Day fifty-eight

Day fifty-nine




Finding the perfect mug is like finding home. You know it when it’s right. I have been thinking a lot about the concept of domesticity and the idea of having a home, not just living in a house and having stuff rather, having a space where your life happens. Home is the center of our existence and for Jon and I it always has been. I think that’s why we’re so good together. We both know that our home is not just a place but a life being lived. It is where we make or choices that will trickle out to the rest of the world and create some sort of change.

Milo, Day 57. "This is a window and me and Uncle Tony looking out."

Milo, Day 58. "This is a silly mountain."

Milo, Day 59. "Shh, he is sleeping and he has buggars."

Now that Milo is getting older and Wyatt is here, home is even more valuable. I could not even begin to put a dollar amount on the time I spend making home. Being the stay at home parent this year has gotten me thinking about how we address home life. It is so easy for women and men to get into the “house wife syndrome” of being completely unfulfilled by domestic and childcare responsibilities. Since the industrial revolution domestic life has become centered on consuming things rather than creating them. I fell so easily into the emptiness of going to Target, buying things and consuming them. By the end of the summer I was downright sad. I felt empty and guilty for feeling so empty. I knew that I didn’t need something outside of the home. I needed a new perspective; I need to feed my home and my life with some creativity. Ever since I started this project I am not sad every day. I don’t feel so  empty and I no longer feel like I’m watching my life happen to me while I drink coffee from a mug that doesn’t feel right.

A very serious post for a Halloween weekend. Sorry folks, let’s lighten things up with a few good Halloween photos…In 3rd grade I was Tammy Fae Baker (my mom has a wicked sense of humor), this year Milo went as a Rescue Hero (or a member of the Village People). He won win 3rd place at the coffee shop costume contest and we didn’t spend a dime on his costume!

P.S. Check out our pictures from the I Am photo shoot

Tammy Fae Baker

Rescue Hero Milo

Hula hooping leads to job offers


Get your nerd on

World's smallest sundae




When I was in college they opened an Ed Debevic’s here in Denver. For those of you who have never been to one, it’s a 50’s theme diner where all the wait staff is surly and rude and everyone is in costume and covered in flair. I was so excited. It was a childhood dream of mine to work there and serve the world’s smallest sundae. I went to the auditions and go the job based on my extraordinary hula hooping skills. That job was so damn fun. I had two personae, a nerd and a house wife ( a real stretch for me) complete with wigs and vintage circle skirts, and no less than 15 pieces of flare (you can give the screen the finger now). I even got to DJ a Motown night on Fridays. Every so often, we would have to hop up on the counter to dance. Proud Mary just came on and I can remember every step.


Day fifty-two

Day fifty-three

Milo, Day fifty-three, Lily Pad

Milo, day fifty-four

Typically, I’m not really a very spontaneous person. I like to know where I’m going, how long it will take to get there, what time we’re supposed to arrive and how long we’ll be. Fun right? All of my recent perfection posts have led me to this one. Now that my house is clean and in order, I have more time for spontaneity .This on e is about saying F-it and doing what you want.

day fifty-four

Day fifty-five

I want to be a working artist. I want my work in galleries and I want people I’ve never met to look at my work and want to buy it. So how do I make that happen? Sadly, my current approach of sitting on my couch hoping that somehow my phone will magically ring and it will be the Guggenheim on the other end has not worked out so well. Guess I’ll have to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I’ve finally realized that nothing will happen to me if I don’t get gallery representation or if I get rejected. Life is pretty darn good, I’m happy with my work and I’m willing to put in the leg work to convince strangers to believe in my art. I don’t think I’ve ever had this feeling before.  Something about being a mom, I think. I’m down to fail and I’m down to succeed. I’m just not down to sit around and wish I had tried.  I wouldn’t want my kids to have regrets, why should I?

I do all my correspondence with this elegant cobra pen

Hot toddy, check. Banana bread and orange, check. Poorly organized checklist, check.

Milo, Day fifty-five, Our House

I called a bunch of galleries and figured out the submission process for a bunch more. Now for the tedious task of finishing my artist’s statement and sexing up the ole’ resume. My prestigious showing history of one coffee shop/restaurant/bar show per year for the past seven years should really entice those collectors. We’ve all got to start somewhere.  I’m taking it up a notch, time to hula hoop for my life.  I can also roller skate, I wonder if that’ll come in handy?

FYI readers:

From now on I will be posting on Wednesday and Saturdays.

Virtual First Friday on Nov. 5th (free shipping if you pre-order anything from days 31-60! Just message me)!

Wally and the Beav

Circa 1960

Day forty-six

Milo, day 49, Mommy and Little Wyatt

Day forty-seven

Like looking in a mirror

Milo, Day 49, an alien with sunglasses

day forty-nine

The actress who played June Clever died over the weekend and it got me thinking about domesticity. I love to say that word, domesticity. Anyways, a while back, my mom gave me her home economics text book from the 60’s. The first time I looked at it I was prepared to be offended over and over again but what it really was was a practical guide to being thrifty, clean, cooking nutritious meals, caring for one’s self, family and community. It was like a guide book for everyday life. There’s even sections on sewing buttons, canning fruit, managing your time and what colors to wear with what skin tone. We don’t teach our kids most of this stuff so well anymore. A quote from the first page, “Not only are your physical characteristics determined by your parents, but also many of your traits of character are acquired at home. A good home is built on love and kindness, forgiveness, unselfish giving, and sharing. In the family you learn to assume responsibility for your actions.” Well put Your Home and You Textbook from 1960.

I am pretty darn good at some domestic tasks; I can sew, I can cook, I can care for small children, I do however suck at laundry and keeping a really clean house. It’s not too bad but I have too many junk drawers and I’ve begun to notice that the doors are dirty. Who knew you have to clean doors?! I don’t look like June Clever did either. Most days I don’t get a shower, I am certainly not wearing a dress and pearls while vacuuming (let’s face it Jon usually does the vacuuming and he’s not wearing a dress and pearls either) and I’m not rushing to freshen my make up before Jon gets home from work expecting his slipper and paper. I live in a real house with too many art supplies, kids, a dog and a dusty husband who, get this, actually participates when he’s home. Milo’s even been into folding the laundry lately. Maybe he’ll take over and I’ll never have to match another sock!

Things are just plain not like Leave it to Beaver and probably weren’t even back then. My friend Jessica pointed out the other day that Valium use and teen pregnancy were at all time high in the 50’s.The glossy perfection of the 50’s has its appeal and because Tuesdays are now also for perfection, I’m more inclined to work myself up about my domestic shortcomings. I do however, like June, have a pretty sweet apron collection. I like my domestic world, it’s a good home and we try to be kind, forgiving, to share and to be responsible for our actions.

A note on being weird

Yup, that's me. Age 12.

Here's to wierd

Day forty-three

Day forty-four

Milo, "Do monsters make art?"

Day forty-five (this is one of my favorites so far)

Having been strange my whole life I feel like I am well equipped to parent a weird kid. I’ve always been the “artsy” one. I think that’s a nice way of saying that I’m a bit weird.

I do think that all kids are weird in fantastic ways. That is one of the best things about being a teacher, especially an art teacher. I get to be privy to all the weird things kids come up with. First grader jokes are among the best. Milo is no exception. He is super weird. He just decided that he is not a person who wears socks. He’s had a scribbled on receipt from pizza delivery taped next to his bed for a year and would be devastated if we tried to take it down. We’ve already discussed his obsession with pens.

For kids, weird is fine, it’s widely accepted at least until school age. We let our kids wear Robin and Superman costumes day and night, we let our kids read books in cardboard boxes. Then we do something to people. We shame them into hiding the things that make them who they are. How sad. If you went to middle school, you probably remember someone being incredibly unkind to you because you didn’t do something the way they expected you to. It takes a super weird person not to give a *%^& when this happens (thank you with all my heart to one Ms. Rebecca Rubel). I taught middle school for one year and that was quite enough for me, thank you. I went running and screaming back to those weird little first graders. I would much rather sit in a tiny chair with a crayon in my hand hanging with silly, imaginative little kids anyday.

We all want to be part of the tribe but we need to be who we are. Think about the people you are drawn to the most. Are they the safe, beige people (I just looked down and I’m wearing a beige sweater, damn it.) or are they the little-bit-weird folks who seem to take a few more risks than you do, say what they mean a little more often, and seem to live in their skin a bit more comfortably? I’ll take the later.

Let’s keep it weird people. What was your favorite weird kid memory of yourself or your own kiddos?

I’ll go first:

Me: I had an obsession with the author Roald Dahl. When he died I was in the third or fourth grade. I cried tears and was so grief stricken that I insisted that the librarian let me create a shrine to him in the library. She begrudgingly agreed and I painstakingly recreated a bunch of his illustrations from the BFG and the Twits and turned the whole thing into a huge display with stand up cut outs and a backdrop. Can you say dork?

Milo: I think this week’s pictures speak for themselves.

Loving Milo's monster art

Milo, Day 44