Monthly Archives: August 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban


Back-to-School time for the kids and finally for me, as well! ūüôā ¬†We celebrated with a candy-jeweled cake created by our oldest daughter, right down to its delicious red velvety core! ¬†There looks to be a lot of new subjects to cover and activities in the works for all of us, so anticipation of first-time classes has been buzzing throughout our house all week!

When I saw the description of this week’s photo challenge theme, I decided to post my new ‘urban’ life on campus. ¬†Monday was my first exposure to the Fine Arts area of the campus, and I was absolutely delighted when I walked to my building atop an amphitheater style of grassy stonescaping, reminiscent of one of my favorite trips abroad to Paris! ¬†It felt like a providential embarking on my life as a professional artist… As corny as it may sound, it was thrilling and put a bounce in my step as I explored my new stomping grounds. ¬†As my kids would so eloquently say… This is gonna be an EPIC year!

The courtyard outside the Fine Arts building of my campus this year.

Place Rene Cassin amphitheater outside the Saint-Eustache Church in Paris (1996).

Positioned at the center of the courtyard, the 70-ton sandstone sculpture “l’Ecoute” (“The Listener”) carved by Henri Miller in 1986.

Ahhh… to return one day to beautiful Paris again…

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 Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban


Healing Through My Sketch Pad…


What a whirlwind this year has been for our family! ¬†In the past year, we have been through selling a home, building a new home for our spankin’ newly blended family, a honeymoon, a familymoon, and some unforeseen surgeries following miscarriages. ¬†In an attempt to navigate through my grief and mend my broken heart, I began to nurture my love for the sketchpad…

In an earlier post, I described The Carousel Project that I have conceptualized for years. ¬†This project is becoming a healing balm for me now… As I blend my love for whimsical carousel characters with my desire to bring light into my painful loss, I have sketched a Christmas reindeer character for our first son, Nicholas.

Later in the summer, we learned that my father was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. ¬†During some of my prayer time, I was inspired to create a special sketch as a gift. ¬†His wife is Vietnamese and his life has been heavily influenced by Asian cultures. ¬†I chose to sketch a Vietnamese dragon grasping a pearl, as in the Eastern tradition, a symbol of protective strength and healing from Heaven. ¬†He was also raised Catholic, and I felt strongly that the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus should be represented within the pearl… a deeply soulful prayer for not only holistic, but also soul-istic, protection and healing. ¬†Embedded within the border is a scripture I felt led to include. ¬†It is a passage that speaks to our faith from John 11:25-26, translated from a Vietnamese bible…

Jesus said to her:  I am the resurrection and the life:

he that believes in Me, although he be dead, shall live,

and every one that lives and believes in Me shall not die for ever…

This is my first drawing that I have ever colored, so I wanted to extend the symbolism through the Heavenly blues and purples in the dragon against the background sunrise of hope… It is my prayer filled healing sketch on its way to Georgia.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge of Crystalline Deposits


Last weekend, on our return trip from vacationing in Georgia, we had the opportunity to stop at Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. ¬†I have never toured the caverns… They were absolutely spectacular! ¬†So this week, instead of merging unlikely subjects in my photography, I could not resist sharing some of our pictures from the tour…

Stalactites & stalagmites finally merge to form a pillar as a result of crystallized deposits accumulating over hundreds of thousands of years.

Just to give you an idea of how amazing this cavern is, here is a brief synopsis on how these formations occur… ¬†Very simply, the cave deposits are formed by small trickles of rain water that pick up diluted carbonic acid as it seeps through decaying vegetation in the soil, and into the rocky cavern below. This combined with the cave’s atmosphere, creates a formula for lime precipitation to build in rings that eventually form the long stalactites from the ceiling. ¬†As the deposits then travel down to the floor of the cave, the same process occurs in reverse, where a stalagmite is built up ¬†from the ground. ¬†New deposits actively accumulate at the rate of one cubic inch in 120 years!!! ¬†Over the course of thousands, even millions of years, these stalactites growing downward and stalagmites building upward merge to form a column or pillar, resulting in amazing natural stone formations.

These photographs do not adequately convey the majesty of this cavern… definitely a must-see for any traveler!!!

A draped translucent calcite form of “Saracen’s Tent” at Luray Caverns, Virginia.

This double column formation is one of the largest in the caverns, standing 47 feet tall in the 60 foot high chamber of “Giant’s Hall”.

“Dream Lake” is no more than 18 – 20 inches deep and covers an area more than 2000 square feet. With no movement of the water, its mirror-like quality reflects the stalactites dropping down from the ceiling of the cave.

The “Wishing Well” appears to have a depth of 3 – 4 feet, but is actually closer to 6 – 7 feet at its deepest point. Over $898,000 have been collected and donated to charities since 1954!!!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong! So Very Wrong!


Okay, I know this weekly challenge has passed by, but I just had to share this very¬†unusual find while we were on a family vacation last week in Atlanta, Georgia. ¬†This advertisement was hanging outside of “Legoland” at Phipps Plaza…


Weekly Photo Challenge: Toy Retail Gone Wrong


Ahhh yes, what tiny, brightly-colored plastic bricks can do for a house filled with children on a rainy day! ¬†Lego’s are simply a part of our family’s daily routine. ¬†Within a week or even a day, full civilizations are built and destroyed – sometimes not by the architect, which then leads to an outpouring of tears and the taking away of said bricks. ¬†So when we decided to plan a birthday party extravaganza, merging three summer birthdays, the natural choice for the theme? ¬†You guessed it… Legoland!

With a bit of collaborative planning, we decided that they would build cars and race them as a main activity. ¬†While the birthday kids were at camp, my oldest daughter & I trekked over to the mall to scope out ideas. ¬†I had figured that each could invite 4 friends and with the cousins & neighbors, we were soon up to 20 party favors! ¬†Ay Caramba! ¬†Well considering it was a merged party, the budget could go a little further on favors, so I was still optimistic… that is, until I quickly realized that the smallest Lego kit for a basic car with 70 pieces cost $5.99 each! ¬†Keep in mind that more than half of those pieces are no larger than a pencil eraser… and as you will recall, they are PLASTIC… ¬†Let’s compute, shall we?

20  sugared up party goers

x  $6.35  the inflated price of each tiny plastic kit with tax included 

= $127.00, the room spinning and Mommy seeing stars at the register

WRONG!!! ¬†There had to be a much, MUCH better way of working out this madness! ¬†We purchased one 1/2 priced birthday kit with favors for 10 kids, so I could rationally inspect the value once we got home and I had cooled my jets. ¬†An in-law purchased another birthday kit, so we were good on themed invites & little LEGO people. ¬†Then after more research at home, and pulling out the creative fairy wand ~ Hey! ¬†Desperate times, desperate measures!… I had the makings of Plan B ready for action! ¬†I was on a mission!… Project¬†LEGO Lemonade was a go!!!

Fortunately, we have a LEGO store in our local mall, where we promptly formed an assembly line: Tire! ¬†Wheel! ¬†Axel! ¬†Sort, count, hand off… and I hovered over 2 tall bulk containers filling them ever so tightly… beginning with the microscopic pieces, then the larger base plates in the middle, round pieces, fill in with more micro pieces, tip, shift and settle… next layer… All of this on a Saturday no less! ¬†Other parents probably thought I was nuts, but I didn’t care… I was in the Zone! ¬†I lost count a few times, but at the end of it all, I had 2 full buckets ~ that the kindly sales people allowed me to tape the lids over for my final layers. ¬†Once we broke it all out over the kitchen table, we had just enough for 18 cars, then completed the other sets with like parts we had in the playroom! ¬†Reassessment computation…

2  plumply filled bulk Lego buckets  x  $14.89  for each container with tax included  =  

$29.78 + Mommy’s sanity restored… priceless!


In the week following, I instructed the kids to build basic cars, so I could determine how many remaining pieces we would need. ¬†With a coupon for a local toy store, it cost another $30 for¬†a box of 650 basic bricks in the Builder of Tomorrow Set (6177), to complete the car kits. ¬†So as the adage goes: ¬†When the toy store gives you lemons, go to Plan B!…


Mission LEGO Lemonade accomplished!

The foundations for our individual car kits that filled 2 Bulk LEGO containers.

For more perspectives on the theme for this week’s photo challenge “Wrong”
or  just to join in on the fun, visit:

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Merci Beaucoup!!!


Many thanks to Daniela from New Zealand for honoring me with a nomination for the Reader Appreciation Award! ¬†She shares wonderful writings and stories on her blog, “Lantern Post” ¬†~ Please be sure to click over to her site for a read-around-tour!

I am thrilled to participate in this award process, so without further ado and¬†per her direction…

  • 1st¬†¬†I will share 7 interesting facts about myself¬†
  • 2nd ¬†I should go on to nominate 5 – 10 other bloggers
  • 3rd ¬†Then I will let them know how nifty I think they are when I¬†notify them of the nomination!

So let’s see, 7 interesting facts in chronological order…

International Brotherhood Days on Pine Ridge Reservation, SD (1994).

#1 ¬†My parents are Canadienne, but I was born in the U.S. ¬†Sadly, I do not have the pleasure of dual citizenship, but I love me some maple cookies & Tim Horton’s Iced Capps just the same!

Rockclimbing at the Falls

Rockclimbing at the Falls

#2 ¬†During my college years, I was a rock climber under the misguided perception that dressing like David Lee Roth correlated to climbing agility and ability… I think the picture really says it all.

#3 ¬†At an annual Native American Pow Wow called “International Brotherhood Days”, I camped out for an incredible week at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and won the Rabbit Dance competition partnered with one of the assistant arena directors. ¬†It was totally waste {pronounced wash-TAY, which is Lakota for “good’}!!!

#4¬†For the 4th of July parade held in Washington, DC on Independence Ave., I participated 2 consecutive years by operating the tail of a Chinese dragon for my kung fu school. ¬†It’s a great workout no matter which section you choose to handle, however, the tail will guarantee a full sprint as it whips around behind the weaving trail of the dragon dance team!

Chinese Dragon Dance in the 4th of July parade
held in Washington, DC.

#5 ¬†I once started a fire with tater tots ~ to be filed under the headings, “Dumb Things to Do before a First Date” and “Don’t Try This at Home”… Yeah, THAT’s a story for another time…

#6 ¬†When my church decided to host a fundraising dinner theatre production of “Godspell”, I designed & painted the stage set, choreographed all of the musical scenes and then applied stage makeup to the cast before every performance… Ahhh, to be in my 20’s on summer break with a limitless supply of creative energy!

Sound checks before the concert at Longchamp.

#7 ¬†By the amazing grace of God, I was blessed with the opportunity to harmonize alongside some of my dearest friends during the 12th Annual World Youth Day in Paris, France. ¬†We performed during this week long event on sound stages throughout the city, in Bercy Arena and in the final afternoon concert on a stage constructed at L’Hippodrome de Longchamp… an experience that I will always treasure for countless reasons!

Aerial view of L’Hippodrome de Longchamp at 1997 World Youth Day, Paris, France.

This is a tough one, with soOoo many terrific sites I have had the pleasure to read in this WordPress Blogosphere. ¬†But now ‘paying it forward’, I will introduce some of my favorite blogs through my nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award (drumroll, please):  I love the premise behind this photographic project, and you will find plenty of inspirational quotes along the way!  I find myself laughing out loud when I read these posts!  Another happy-place that keeps me on a steady chuckle-mode! ¬†If you haven’t been here before, this is a great down-to-earth place for travel and general ‘getting your game on’ inspiration.  I live vicariously through these traveling photo-posts.  This designer shares fabulous examples of decorating your interior personal spaces in your own unique style.  More super DIY ideas for making your world beautiful and not breaking the bank to get there!  For more fun and hilarity in the world of Mom-blogs, this is a gem of a read! ¬†Enjoy browsing through Amy’s warmly expressive portfolio of photographs…¬† ¬†When I need to go to my Disney happy place, this is a great place to start! ūüôā

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth of a Centerpiece!


The inspiration for our centerpieces.

Oftentimes I will find a photograph in a magazine that inspires a project or determination to figure out how to replicate or reconceptualize a design.  One of these pictures was a miniature wreath created by pine cones.  I was immediately drawn to the simplicity and elegance of this piece.  Years later, as I was planning my winter wedding reception, this image returned to my mind, and the concept for our centerpieces was born!

Pine cones that our children painted
were used to decorate the wedding chapel.

My parents live in South Carolina surrounded by magnificent Loblolly pine trees that yield thousands of HUGE pine cones.  We collected bags of fallen cones during one of our visits.  Then my mum shipped extra boxes as we cried out for more!  It turned into a family project to tediously pull each scale off of the cones.  But eventually, with the hot glue gun in hand and some perseverance,  a finished wreath emerged ready for painting and of course, the shimmer effect!

This was also a great way for our children to contribute to making decorations for the ceremony and reception as we all became more excited for the upcoming wedding!

One of our wedding reception centerpieces.

Later, we used the wreaths to decorate our new house for our first Christmas together as a family!

      May we continue to grow in love,

as we create new family memories together

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†in our days ahead…

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