Fab Finds of the season

Hello, Lovelies! I hope your fall is beautiful wherever you are. ‘Thought I would share some of my loves as of late.

First, some inspiring books:

* I found this little gem via a post here.












I love Allison’s honest style of writing and her message is a good one:

Life is short. Be BRAVE.

I believe This guy is in Allison’s writing community.











I’ve posted about his work before. His latest is good and I recommend it.

*Loving this site because I think I’m ready to tackle my achy belly once and for all. I’ve cut dairy for 20 years now and red meat & pork for five…ready to feel better. I’m asking for this cookbook for Christmas.








I made a connection with a sweet blog reader this week who has embraced the SCD diet due to her IBS. It struck a chord with me and I will look forward to watching her progress as I venture into my own experiment.

For the body:

* My new favorite face foundation.








I don’t usually wear any, but this is light and covers so nicely. My hair stylist recommended it and her skin always looks so lovely.

* Loving the boots and skinny jeans look…especially with yummy, mushy sweaters.













I’ve been wearing out my own black riding boots and it’s hard not to wear them every day!

* I’m intrigued by vegetables masquerading as starches. I think I might be game to give these a try.


For the soul:

*It’s all things Airstream around here lately…I will explain more later, but there’s news about ours. This is such a lovely scene, isn’t it? Oh…and those BEDS! Be still my heart.


















via image 

How cute is this blog about a couple on the move?

* Speaking of Riveted Living...I’m obsessed with Airstream art as well.


This painter is such a talent…love the colors! Leah Giberson…a name I shall be watching.

* Loving this podcast on my weekend runs.



They are just the sweetest people with such a great message. I’ve learned a lot and they make me laugh.



For the family:

*Watching Wonder Woman episodes via Netflix.


















Okay…okay…so they’re REALLY bad..but oh, so good! Ha! I feel like a kid spinning around making firecracker noises all over again. My kids are obsessed with it. How in the world did she keep that strapless number up when she ran? And we’re not even talking about the control top hose she’s rockin’ while she’s putting away bad guys. Yikes…in a good way.

* Four words…Pandora Michael Jackson station.


It is the best cleaning music ever…especially when you watch your kids doing the dance moves they think were in your generation (Helloooo?! The running man wasn’t until the 90′s) My youngest was the initiator on this one and it surprised me. She says “Black and White” is the ultimate running song. I have to agree.

I showed her the video (pretty cutting-edge for the 80′s, don’t you think?) and she was impressed…especially the morphing thing at the end. You owe it to yourself to step back in time and just watch that part ;)

* * *

Well…those are some things I’m loving on this season. We’re actually doing some serious Netflix-watching today as my youngest is home sick. I’d so rather take my kids’ places when they’re ill. Seeing them listless and red-faced isn’t fun at all. I did, however, get a little couch time with her today…and that doesn’t happen very often. I’m just hoping my class didn’t eat my sub alive. First one of the year! Praying for a good report.

Happy week, Lovelies!




Posted in Artist crushes, Fabulous family time, Good Books, Good Design, MPG good eats, MPG music, MPG Style and apparel, Pare down / Power up, Pare down/Power Up - steps toward simplifying, Prairie Beauty goods, Quest for Less: rational minimalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Struggle can be good

We’re having an unbelievably gorgeous month in the Northwest. It’s bright, crisp days full of color. With autumn weather like this, I’m usually all over the place, Big Kahuna in tow, capturing every inch of the season.

Big Kahuna (my Nikon, not a large Polynesian fellow) has been resting peacefully in my studio closet for many weeks now. Of course, the iPhone does a great job of stealing my Nikon’s thunder with its apps. Yet, I haven’t been snapping away with the camera phone either like the shutterbug I’ve been known to be. I haven’t had that fire in my insides to run toward the dappled light in the woods with a reluctant teen (mine) and a colorful costume of sorts flailing behind me.  In the past I would have never let days like yesterday go without some sort of photo session, even if it was just my dogs wrapped up in leaves, resting in the sunlight.

What’s going on? Have I lost my creative mojo?

Yet…I can tell you that the creative dial has been cranked up in my classroom. I’m using every artsy trick known to man to communicate the importance of using capital letters and learning multiplication facts. There have been a ton of songs memorized to facilitate the best kind of learning. It has created an extremely colorful and fun environment and I can honestly say it has made me very happy….an I’m-doing-meaningful-work-I’m-in-love-with-these-kids kind of joy. Is it possible that a medium that was so ingrained in my routine (and at times felt like a love affair with a new boy) has been exchanged for a completely new way of expressing my creativity?

How can I possibly close the door on this thing I loved so much so easily?

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that many years ago I took an art form I loved and worked very, very hard to make it a successful business. It’s not that I don’t think an artist can have a creative outlet and financial reward simultaneously. People do it all the time. For me the two had a hard time living on the same planet and it was making me resentful…an emotion I’d prefer to let go of completely.

It’s so bizarre. I haven’t slept this well in years. I actually have mornings where I wake up with only the memory of taking off my slippers and turning out the light. Then there’s the deep, dream-ridden sleep where I’m swirling with kids and the world of teaching (even though it might be underwater…or on a ship…or they’re all adults from my high school in my room. Weird) and it’s always a haze of positivity after I wake. I feel different. Transitions can do that, I guess…especially when they’re swift and unexpected.

I’ve finally learned that really good things can come when you struggle.

Trying to mask struggle and frustration or just make it go away has not been the answer for me at all. Deciding to leave photography and embrace my old life in the classroom was such a surprising thing for me (and the people who know me). Why in the world would I choose to do this right after my book came out…after I’d worked so hard to be the it girl in this niche market…after I’d invested in so much equipment?

The fact is I couldn’t not do it.

I faced the struggle that was going on inside me and I journaled myself to death. I talked about it with girlfriends (and a husband) I trust. And every time the answer that surfaced didn’t make any sense at all. I had that “people will think I’ve lost it” feeling. I soon came to realize that it didn’t really matter. The heart wants what the heart wants, right? And for me it came in the form of being surrounded by energetic & eager kids and immersed in a career that has the potential to do some major good in the world every day. I chose what felt the most peaceful and meaningful…even if it meant letting go of working really hard for something I’d always wanted.

The truth is sometimes we really don’t know what we want until the struggle comes.

Luckily, mine was intense enough that I recognized the path I was on wasn’t making me happy, even though everyone around me was saying that it should.

I will admit that sometimes I get a tug on my heart (ego too) when I read my photography magazines (note to self..cancel subscriptions for awhile) or talk to my cohorts around the country (relationships can morph into friendships without shop talk). I had a client come to have me sign a bunch of books for her dog-loving friends. It made me feel so great, but it was also weird to tell her about my career change. Her response was so lovely—something to the effect of “You’ll always be a photographer, Lara. It will never leave your life just because you’re doing something else for a living.”  ‘Made me feel good.

* * * * * * *

I’m interested…what struggles speak to you in your life? When you feel the tension in a decision, do you brush it aside or do you dig deep to examine its message?

I hope the fall is beautiful and bright wherever you are, Lovelies.




Posted in Digital fine art, iPhoneography, MPG stirrings | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Where do throw pillows fit in the quest for less?

Throw pillow-itis.

I’ve got it.

It’s a sickness and no amount of quest for less has been helpful in solving this issue.



They are sitting on the pew by the front door…taking over the couch in the Elvis room (don’t ask), thrown on the patio furniture…piled on my bed…multiplied on the girls’ beds…on every piece of furniture in sight without fail. Felt, silk, linen, with buttons/without buttons, cotton, chevron, striped, ikrat, fluffy, polka dotted, tweed…..




Is it possible for a lover of design and nest-fluffing to have success with a pare down/simplify plan? Can throw pillows and an ironstone pitcher collection dwell in the same house that is being turned upside down in a massive yearning for Joshua Becker’s world of rational minimalism? (‘Love that term…it’s so non-militant)

I’m reminded of a funny scene from Along Came Polly when Jennifer Aniston is liberating Ben Stiller’s character from the prison of his bed throw pillows:

Okay, so the kitchen knife yielding flakey girlfriend is frightening, but I get the point…and yet…I am a moth to the flame at Home Goods when I attempt to tiptoe past the pillow aisle.

What is it?

Lest I dive into sessions with a psychoanalyst to uncover my secret desire to accessorize all of my furniture, I am attempting to let it be what it is and turn my attention to other areas of de-cluttering the abode. Translation: completely ignore the dichotomy here and go on my merry pare down/power up way.

Frankly, I’m not ready to de-pillow my pretty bed.

And who says my journey to a de-cluttered home must be void of throw pillows? Who exactly is writing the rules of my skewed sense of minimalism here, anyway? I’m needing to step away from the massive voyeurism of simplifying blogs that has become my life…

…resist the desire

to stand

in my family room

with a

leaf blower…

…Understand what this journey means for me…little down pillow and ironstone pitcher loving me.  Steps are being taken and as long as I’m filled with joy while cleaning out a bathroom cabinet, the order of this process will unfold as the momentum picks up. I’m choosing to trust in my desire to do this and know that it will come in full swing when I’m ready.

We all have our own story when coming to terms with the excess of our generation.

I’m zeroing in on the take away part so that I can narrow my focus on what I know matters most. It really comes down to relationships, work that I love and experiences (wanderlust is wedged in this category too). I guess on the outside looking in, the pare down is more apparent with my choices about commitments and the “shoulds”. I’m not really buying into the need tos/should haves/musts anymore. That’s one of the beautiful things about writing your own story…you get to decide. As long as everyone standing in my kitchen is feeling like this train is going where they want to go, I am resting in the fact that the stars are aligned in a much less complicated constellation than in the past. Deciding to go back to teaching was a huge step in this direction for me. For the first time in a long while, I’m feeling there is a family-fitting schedule I can predict and meaningful work being done every day. Somehow along the way I missed the importance of these two things in my general day to day existence.

Living on our own in the sticks, away from potential neighborhood drama, was another conscious choice for us. I am so grateful that we committed to that. I suppose some would call it hiding out, but I believe our ability to step past the front gate is evidence that we are not striving for a hermit-I-don’t-like-people-NIMBY existence. Inviting people into the little haven that is our Magic Forest world is one of my favorite things—and I love that (again) we get to decide who that will be.

I feel a huge change brewing as we teeter on the edge of the teen years here in MPG Land.

I’m keenly aware that in a short time PH and I will be staring at each other across the table…and fortunately for me, I am very excited about the list of adventures we’re accruing, most of them in the form of pushpins on a map of the US. I do believe this second half will involve another purging of sorts…too much stuff can hinder the possibilities, and if there’s anything I get jazzed about, it’s possibilities.

That, and throw pillows…with fringe.  :)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

What about you? Where do your throw pillows (metaphorical and non) fit into your life?


Posted in MPG stirrings, Pare down / Power up, Pare down/Power Up - steps toward simplifying, Quest for Less: rational minimalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Callings verses Passions


I call this image “Confirmation” – left on my desk 9/30/13

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’ve always liked the idea of being an ARTIST.

My whole life is a forest full of paths that represent some form of creative endeavor. So the conversation I had with my husband as we were standing at our bathroom sinks one night in 1998 came to no surprise.

“If you could do any profession, regardless of training or background, what would it be?”

Without hesitation I replied, “A photographer.” Dreams of becoming the next Annie Leibovitz wafted in the air.

“Wow! That was fast! Really?” He sat down on the counter and waited for me to continue.

Not only did this conversation morph into a full blown research project of “how to become a photographer”, it became a constant topic at our dinner table. I was a 5th teacher at the time (and loving it, by the way), and the idea was just to get the hobby going. I am a dog with a bone when it comes to new plans and directions. I quickly learned how to use my FILM camera (!) and the process of developing and printing. The dream became a reality when my children were born as I had learned enough to hang out my shingle and take clients. With the decision to stay home with my firstborn, I had some flexibility in my mom-schedule to shoot sessions for a creative outlet….and a little moo-la too.

My life as a full-time creative had begun.

After 13 years of balancing my creative dreams and the financial responsibilities of running a successful business, I was yearning for more of the artist part. I read book after book written by women who were “living the dream” with their painting, music, writing, etc. One in particular was Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts, which prompted me to discover collage and mixed media. I entered a typhoon of classes in artistic technique in every medium known to man and accumulated a small fortune of materials packed to my studio ceiling. It was during this discovery time that I found blogging. It was right up my alley—I loved to write, express myself and I am extremely visual. …the perfect spot to put my art, thoughts and photography up for the world to see.

I became obsessed.

I was consuming books and blogs at a ridiculous rate that were written by artists who were “making it”, so to speak. I daydreamed about having my own exhibit (which I ended up doing a few times—amazing experience) and I fantasized about the Artist’s Life. You know…days spent drinking tea in my studio as I brought life to a canvas…rain pelting outside…Ella Fitzgerald filling the air…blog posts about what it was like to actually create for a living without interference.

Romantic ideas about lifestyles can come to a screeching halt when you come to realizations about your own reality.

I am not a loner. I don’t care for holing up inside on rainy days for months on end (Hello, Northwest winter/spring). I don’t particularly enjoy marketing myself and selling my vision of what is art. I have trouble with the lack of structure that can swirl around the life of an artist…not to mention the mind bending/numbing process of calculating my taxes.


The story has been told here before. After volunteering in a local high school once a week last fall, it occurred to me that I was brushing aside the very thing I believe I was made to do.

I am a teacher.

I come alive in front of little people with a desire to make things understood through creative methods. I relish the process of building relationships with kids and find my heart bucket filled each day in a classroom. I finally came to terms with the fact that I am a people person—someone who enjoys professional friendships as well as tight bonds that can be nurtured within the walls of a school.  I even realized that the bright environment that is primary colors and patterns in an elementary school overcomes my seasonal blues.

The most important A-Ha with my career transition was the idea of leaving a legacy….the promise that what I do today in room 302 will last in the hearts and minds of kids who are forming who they are going to be. My life lessons run deep when I work with children and I always picture them as adults reviewing the teachers in their lives. Did she make me feel important? Did she stop and listen to what I had to say? Did she present the curriculum in a fun and exciting way? Did I become a writer/mathematician/historian that year in 3rd grade? I take what I do very, very seriously each and every day because I know what’s at stake. There can be no “off days” in my attitude when I greet them at the door. I love it and at this moment I am not sure why I didn’t go back sooner.

I came to an important understanding regarding career choices.

There are passions. I LOVE art, photography, writing, music…the list goes on forever on this creative planet for me. And there are callings…I am finally clear on what I am supposed to do with it. I’m not discounting the time I had to create with wild abandon…the brilliant break that was my artsy life. It was important and necessary. I do believe that it drew me back to teaching for a reason. What’s that quote? The one about people needing to choose what makes them come alive, because the world needs more people who are truly alive….

You know what? The world needs more teachers who are truly alive as well.

It is the most important thing I can do with my life. At some point I discounted that for the sake of grabbing hold of a passion and looking at others living this passion as a representation of what my own life should look like. It’s so hard to not want to live another person’s life. From the outside it looks so appealing and wonderful. Unicorns and rainbows wax and wane throughout the journey’s struggles…the ones we don’t see on Facebook. The truth is I chose the life that I knew would make the biggest impact and was lucky enough to realize I had been missing the fulfillment part. I actually said out loud to myself in the car yesterday,

“I am so grateful that God created this unexpected detour. I never knew this was where I was supposed to be. It’s so good…it’s so, so good.”

Do you have an idea in your head of the career or pursuit you think you ought to be doing?

Perhaps the very talents and hidden treasure within you are better served in areas that have been discounted or forgotten.  A calling can whisper so softly…if you slow down enough to listen, it just might just help you create the life you’ve always wanted.


Posted in Happiness, MPG stirrings, Pare down / Power up | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments