Monday, December 17, 2012

Dateline and the Majesty of God

My birthday was last week. So my husband and I decided to take a long weekend and drive down to the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s our favorite time to go down there because it is so quiet. In this large condo complex, we were one of three people there.

We rented movies and I played with my art stuff on the floor, making a little fort of art supplies. I worked with acrylic paint, and used steel wool as a method of scrapping off the paint. I glued together several sheets of a paper bag. My plan was to carve out a tree for a mini canvas (more about that next week). We did a little shopping and we ate at roadside restaurants in little towns along a Missouri state highway. If that had been the entirety of our trip, it would have been a great birthday.
Around a quarter to midnight on my birthday, I get a text from my youngest daughter. Texts at this time of night are usually not glad tidings; more likely they are news of a stalled car, accident or some other unpleasantness. But not tonight; tonight, she wanted me to go outside and watch a meteor shower. So, I get out of bed (husband grunts slightly and the dog looks at me with an annoyed expression) and go outside. Mind you, I am in yoga paints, a t-shirt and no shoes. I felt a sense of urgency to get out into the night to see what she was seeing.

I found a dark spot and watched. Below me is the lake is still. Above me is a star filled sky. All around me is a deep, cold quiet.

I watched objects from outside our earth fall into the atmosphere, always falling fast, leaving a long streak behind them. Everything was so clear, so quiet. My daughter and I were sharing this moment, even though she was hundreds of miles away.

But I also learned something about myself. I cannot be still. Standing barefoot on the concrete, I would look into the sky and think about the majesty of God and then look over my shoulder to make sure that I was still alone. I would think of how beautiful this was and then images of every Dateline I had ever seen ran through my head. Look up at the sky; look over my shoulder. Thinking about how far the starlight had travelled to reach me at this moment; thinking about how this would be the perfect setting for a Stephen King story.

When it seemed the light show was over and I could no longer feel my feet, I went back inside. That text and experience was a great and thoughtful gift. Here’s hoping the next midnight text is just as great.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Playing in Public

I find myself, once again, sitting in an airport. I got to Salt Lake with almost four hours before my next flight. This is an unfortunate but common occurrence and it’s always a struggle since I am easily bored. When traveling for pleasure, I always bring my "fun bag". It is filled with about 20 lbs worth of the stuff I live on - my iPad, journal, travel-sized art supplies, and other assorted knicks and knacks. My husband claims that it’s more like 40 lbs so when it comes to lugging it around it is anything but fun. But it gives me the opportunity not to go out of my mind while waiting for the next flight.

The city of Salt Lake has seen fit to bless its travelers with tables and chairs near windows. My husband and I grabbed one of them and I proceeded to play in my journal for the next two hours. Granted, there was a lot of stuff laid out on the table--paints, paper, magazines, stamps, etc. But as I worked, I noticed something that I hadn't really noticed before--maybe because when I have done this in the past, I would find a corner and plant myself on the floor. Today, I was in the hallway of the terminal. 

People were staring at me. They would walk by and look at what I was doing and then they would really look at me. Some would smile; some look confused. A few actually frowned. And I wondered why people would frown. I was having a great time and I wasn’t in anyone’s way. 

There’s not really anything profound to say about this. I was doing the adult equivalent of giving kids crayons and a menu they can draw on. It was fun. It passed the time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Small but Hopeful

For a long time now I have told the people in my life that small steps is the way to achieve anything. This is truly a great idea. It sounds really good. Living it is an entirely different matter.

The irony is that I am an impatient person. It has always been that way. Small steps--okay--maybe if I can take them all at one time.

Starting my own small business has given me a new perspective on smallness. Last Saturday, I was at a holiday show organized by a friend of mine. She's out of work and was needed a way to make a little cash. So, she put the holiday show together at a local American Legion hall.

When I got to the event, I found 20 other vendors who are trying to do the same thing. All of these women (these types of small businesses seems to be more of a chick thing) have a need to build something for themselves.

Not only is there a need or desire, there is hope and optimism and faith. They live out the idea of small steps. Every paint stroke, every crochet stitch, every photo is a simple, physical act that there is something good on the horizon, something out there worth moving toward. Not now but out in the near or even distant future.

In my impatience, I need to remember that I am one of them. Hope, optimism, and faith live alongside doubt and impatience and disappointment. Every time I finish an item, write a blog, or bother my friends with yet another Facebook post that shows another product on my Etsy store, I am expressing hope and faith.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yesterday, Joy and Simplicity Showed up in my Front Yard

I was sitting in my shop, working on some new items for myEtsy store when I heard this distant scratching sound. My first thought wasthat my dog, Jack, was doing something that I would not approve of. But he camewhen I called and the sound continued with him looking at me.  My second thought was, “I wonder if my house is haunted?”This is a thought that comes to me pretty regularly. We’ve had a few “unexplained”moments in our house over the years, but I sincerely doubt that it’s anearthbound spirit.

What never occurred to me was that my neighbor was rakingthe leaves in my yard.
I opened the window and asked him what he was doing and why.He told me that it was time for the annual leaf pile event. It seems that heand some of the other fathers get together every year and make leaf piles. As Ilooked up the hill, there were six leaf piles in six yards.
For about the next hour, kids ran from one yard to another,jumping into leaves. Then one of the dads would come along and re-pile them.
Watching them, I realized how much I miss the simple pleasuresof fall. When I was a kid, I would jump in leaves and then help my father burnthem in a little stone oven in a corner of our back yard. I miss the smell. Imiss the simplicity of it. I miss being a kid.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Collage and the Two Drunk Guys Behind Me

There are times when I have to travel for business. One of my duties as a marketing manager is to oversee trade show appearances and corporate meetings. I love the challenge of making sure that all the details are covered and the joy of building the perfect spreadsheet. (I know, geeky and strange for someone who enjoys getting her hands dirty with paint and glue, but there is real joy in planning everything out in a spreadsheet).

But, I start to get antsy when I can't play with my glue and paint. So I usually travel with a few little art bits to play with. I bring my journal with me, a glue stick, a black, felt tip pen and usually a fashion magazine. Fashion magazines have a lot of interesting backgrounds and headlines.

I page through looking for stuff that grabs my attention. Then I spend time looking for words that fit my mood or the photos that I have found. Then I start gluing. This trip, there was a store for kids in the airport and I bought a package of "colors." It really didn't work the way I wanted it to, but it was a bit more like being a kid again. Glue stick, magazines, and colors. It was cool.

Using a magazine to collage isn't new. You might even say it's cliché. But there is a lot of downtime when I travel, lots of time in forgettable hotel rooms. It helps get through a plane ride when the guys two rows back have talked incessantly for the last two hours and consumed lots of garlic and alcohol.

Yes, I can hear them through my ear buds. 

And yes, I can smell them especially when they go up the aisle for nature's call. 

But I do love to journal on the road. Even when the flight attendants look at you like you have two heads.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Aluminum Tape Box Tutorial

I love to alter things and my usual style is a bit more shabby chic. And while I think a distressed look is beautiful, not everyone shares my opinion. So I decided to make something a bit more modern and simple. Below are the instructions.

What you'll need:
  • Wooden box (size of your choice)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Black acrylic paint
  • 1 inch key chain rings
  • Foam brush
  • E6000 glue
  • Aluminum tape with adhesive (found at hardware store in Plumbing)
  • Paper stump)
  • Craft store varnish (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels

Step 1
Sand the box, both inside and out, to remove any rough edges.

Step 2
One the top of the box, take the ruler and the pencil and draw a diagonal line from one top corner to a bottom corner. Repeat. Now you have the middle of the box.

Step 3
Using the E6000, glue the key ring to the center of the box lid. You can add a key ring on either side (as pictured) or you can create a pattern of your choosing. The same thing can be done with washer. Set the box aside to dry and cure, usually for a day.

Step 4
Measure the box lid and cut the three aluminum tape piece that will fit on the box lid without going to the side. Measure the perimeter of the box lid and cut a long piece of the aluminum tape.

Step 5
Take one of the short pieces of the aluminum tape and pull off the backing. Line the bottom edge of the tape to the bottom edge of the top of the box lid. Burnish. Do the same thing with the top of the box lid and another tape. Burnish. Using the last piece of tape and gentle apply it over the key rings. Gently burnish.

Step 6
Take the long piece of tape and apply it around the bottom edge of the box lid. Take the scissors and snip a “V” shape onto each corner (miter cut) and then fold the tape over to the top of the lid. Burnish.

Step 7
Apply black paint over the aluminum tape. Using a crumpled paper towel, dab it across the paint to the mottled look.

Step 8
Paint the rest of the outside of the box and the inside of the box black. Let dry and apply another coat. If you want to varnish the box, be careful not to varnish the edges of the box where it closes. The varnish can make the box lid stick together.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Blogger: Maddie of

I subscribe to the Thirftary blog. I love it. Maddie is gracious and has some very cool ideas.  I wanted to share one of them with you today. Let's Get Scrappy is a post from October 22, 2012.

A special note of thanks to Maddie for letting me share this. I have shared the beginning of her post and a link if you'd like to finish reading it.

Oh boy oh boy. Do I have a treat for you today! Here is some info that you DIYers are going to want to know, if you haven't already made this discovery.

I have this really cool friend who is in the interior design industry. This really cool friend called me the other day and told me that there was an event that I need to go to with her, called Zero Landfill. This program was created to divert design and architectural materials from landfills. So instead of trashing it all, they put it out at these events for the every-day DIYer to pick up FOR FREE. That's right. For free. I am now following the Denver chapter on Facebook. If you are from another area, please hop on Facebook and find the nearest Zero Landfill chapter near you!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Old Me Meets the Current Me

When I was 13, back in the far off land of 1976 – the Bicentennial year complete with the nightly “Bicentennial Moment” - I got a Holly Hobbie calendar. I loved it. Not only was it pretty, but it used my name and back then there were so few things that used my name. In fact, I could go years without meeting another Holly.

But, the calendar ran its course.  I was bored so I got my calendar out. I remember meticulously and patiently cutting my little Holly Hobbie figure out with scissors. I also remember gluing her to a piece of muslin, applying layer after layer of glue. I put so much glue on it, that it looked like varnish and Holly was "floating" in it.

Somehow, I managed to keep this little piece of material. I have lost my first drafts of a number of short stories, my signed letter from Jimmy Carter, and even a lot of childhood photos. But, this little piece of material with the decoupaged Holly Hobbie, has managed to survive moves and neglect.

A couple of years ago, I was cleaning out the basement and I opened a box and there was the original calendar and in the calendar, was my decoupaged Holly Hobby. It was like finding a bit of me again. At that point in my life, I just began to play around with mixed media so I decided to build a piece around it.
Now something you need to know about me - I hate to make mistakes. I mean I hate it, especially when there is no way to repair what I have done wrong. I don't think I am different from a lot of people. None of us want to do something and find out that we shouldn't have done it. It was frightening to take this almost sacred item from my childhood and put it onto a canvas, but I am glad I did.

It was magical for the 13 year old Holly to meet the 40 year old Holly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Glitter Pumpkin Tutorial

This project is pretty cheap and perfect for this time of year. The materials needed are:

What you will need:
  • Foam pumpkin (Dollar store or craft store)
  • Unfinished wooden candlestick
  • Unfinished wooden (thin) disc
  • Tissue paper (Consider using a tissue paper the same color as paint and glitter)
  • Glue (white)
  • E6000 adhesive
  • Paint
  • Small wood disc with a beveled edge
  • Crepe paper (orange and black)
  • Foam brush
  • Needle and thread
  • Plastic wrap or aluminum foil

Step one

Remove the metal candleholder from the candlestick (if it comes with one). If you can’t remove it, push it inward with pliers. Sand all the wood pieces lightly—you want to remove any wood bits or splinters.

Step two

Using the E6000, put the glue account the base of the candlestick (on the bottom) and center it on the small wood disc with the beveled edge. Again using the E6000, put glue on the top of the candlestick and place the small, thin disc on top of the glue, centering it in the think disc. Set it aside and come back to it tomorrow.

Step three

Tear the tissue paper into strips and decoupage the tissue paper on the foam pumpkin. The tissue paper will give the pumpkin a wrinkled look. Set it aside and let dry.

Step four

Take the crepe paper and put the two colors together. Using the needle and thread, baste the center of the crepe paper. This will make it easy for you to gather the crepe paper. Baste enough for you to glue to the outer edge of the thin disc (around 50 inches so that there is a little overlap).

Step five

Paint the wood your desired color. Apply as many coats of paint until you are satisfied with the look

Step six

Paint the pumpkin your desired color. To avoid any color showing through the glitter, it is best to paint the pumpkin the same color as the glitter. If you want the pumpkin color to show through gaps in the glitter, paint it another color.

Step seven

Apply glue to the painted pumpkin and glitter away. Let it dry. (Once it is dry, if you find gaps in your glittering, just put some glue on the gap and reapply some glitter and let dry.

Step eight

Gather the crepe paper until it looks like a ruffle. Folding the crepe paper in half and finger press. Draw a ring of E6000 glue around the outer edge of the thin disc. Take the gathered crepe paper and put the folded edge into the glue. Place the candlestick upside down on the wrap or foil and place something a little heavy on the base (I used a large acrylic paint bottle.) Let dry.


Step Nine

Using the E6000, glue the bottom of the pumpkin and place it on the crepe paper/thin disc combo. Let dry.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Persistence in Spite of Cottage Cheese

If you’re like me, there are a couple of things that you’re always attracted to—colors, shapes, quotes, etc. No matter where you see them, they always catch your attention. For me, one of them is pumpkins.

Fall is my favorite time of the year, but I leave my pumpkins out all the time. So imagine how excited I was when I was in the Michael’s a few days ago and found medium-sized papier mache pumpkins for around $3.00 each. I grabbed two; one I altered for my daughter’s new house and one I did for me—gun metal gray. I wanted another one, but the Michael’s was out. So my brain got going—how was I going to satisfy this hunger for pumpkins?

Make my own.
I gathered my materials (i.e., a Dollar store foam pumpkin) and took pictures. I thought, “Hey, if this works out, I could share it with other people. Do a tutorial, maybe someone picks it up and puts it on Pinterest.” Really cool idea. And of course, I had to do it right away.

I greased up the pumpkin with petroleum jelly so that the paper would release when it was dry. I made the papier mache paste and started applying wet strips of a grocery paper bag to the pumpkin. It was a mess. I mean huge. At one point the pumpkin looked like it was covered in cottage cheese. Yep, it was gross. I tried to gently wipe it down. It looked better but I was still—well--bumpy.

I came back a few hours later and my worst fears came true. It was in the shape of a greasy, gross pumpkin.

Ok. Now what? I thought about rolling up paper to make an armature. That was a bust. Then I thought about tin foil. But I couldn’t get it to stick together to make the armature.

Then it hit me--cover the pumpkin with adhesive tin tape.

I got it to work, but it took a lot of time to get enough layers to make it strong enough to stand on its own. All I can say is that thank God pumpkins are not perfect and frequently bulbous on one side.

The moral of the story is that some things take a LOT of persistence. Even when one is confronted with a cottage cheese like mess (like so many things in life), one must press on.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Out of the Creativity Box

What does it really mean to be creative?
In my faith, we are all made in the image of God. He is the ultimate creator. Light, time, DNA, nature--all sprang from His mind. He is visionary, dynamic, and can create something out of nothing. All of things are out of my reach. I cannot do them. And yet, He created me to be an image bearer.

At work, I am often asked to do little things, like tying a bow with the words, "Can you do this? I am not creative..." trailing behind. What does creativity have to do with tying a bow? Tying a bow is a skill--one I do not possess. But I am creative and so is the person handing me the ribbon.
There is a vast difference between not knowing a skill and not being creative. Skills are learnable; knowledge is obtainable. It takes a teacher, practice, and sometimes, a lot of dedication. But creativity is not something that is learned; it is something that is given. In fact, given who our Father is, it cannot be avoided.

The real issue is that we look at the word, "creative" too narrowly. While we cannot make something out of nothing, we can, and do, take all the things around us and fashion them into something new. We look at situations and figure out new ways to tackle them. We get up each morning and choose an outfit to wear. We comfort a friend or make a child laugh. Some of us do cool things with paint and paper; others do tasty things with food; still others make cars run out of spit and bailing wire. It is not the doing or the skill of the execution that bears on creativity. It is the thought, inspiration, and doing that makes up creativity.

BTW: If you want to learn how to make a bow, go to

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pay it Forward

When I was a little girl, I went to spend the weekend with my great aunt Lorraine. She lived on a farm and being a city girl, I was terribly bored. To keep my little hands busy, she taught me to sew. She gave me a needle, some red thread and two facial tissues and showed me how to make an X in the corner to attach them together. Before I left that weekend, there were a lot of tissues sewn together. Aunt Lorraine had no idea what she had done – the road she had started me down what a special place in my heart she would always hold because of that.
When I was ten, my mother and my aunt taught me to crochet. Once I got the hang of it, I was a granny-square-making machine (keep in mind it has the ‘70s). I had always wanted to knit (seeing it as the Mount Everest of needlework), but my no one in my circle knew how. A few years ago, we hosted a German exchange student, Bea, who was kind enough to teach me to knit Continental (which made more sense to an old crocheter than tossing the yarn). After that I wanted to knit everything. I felt like I had summited the highest peak on earth.

Recently, one of my dear friends was telling me that she saw a great desire in her twelve year old daughter, Emily, to craft things with her hands. Sadly, she has a panic attack every time she drives into the Joann's parking lot. She's a great mom, but craft stores just create an anxiety in her. I adore her daughter and told her that I would be her fairy Craftmother. Soon after, we went on the shopping circuit (I am blessed with a Hobby Lobby, Archiver’s, Michael's, and Joann's in a very tight area) and then we spent a couple of hours in my studio. We talked craft and her curiosity in doing things you don't know how to do -  and the courage it takes in middle school (or in middle age) to stick to who you are. Her mom called me that afternoon to thank me for my time and for "filling up" her Emily's soul.
When I think of the loving hands that showed me how to sew, crochet and knit, I realize that they were crucial to making me who I am today. I really didn't see very much of Aunt Lorraine since she died not long after teaching me to sew. Bea went back to Germany and has started her own adult life. But they have an extraordinary place in my heart. Their hands taught my hands. Now, my hands are teaching Emily's hands. Emily's soul wasn't the only one that was filled that day.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Welcome to my blog.
My name is Holly Ann (or as in the name of this blog, Ha-leigh-anna). I had a friend in college who once asked me why I didn’t spell my name that way and it stuck.

So I am 49, married for more than half my life and my daughters are grown and gone. I’ve been in the mutual fund industry for 26 years. It’s been a great career, but one day, as I was getting really worked up about some silly breach of protocol, I had a moment of clarity. Clarity as in seeing myself from a different perspective and wondered what that silly middle-aged woman was getting so upset about. It’s not as if someone was sick, or dying or going to jail.
The cliché middle-aged crisis ensued and I had to wonder what the next stage of my life would be.

I decided to start my own company, Haleighanna’s Hands and a blog to go with it. In fact, it opened today! I am a Midwestern girl who loves to do things with her hands. I love to build or transform items that people use to make their lives a prettier place or just makes them happy. So I decided to start a company where I do just that. Make stuff—journals, home décor, memory boxes, or other cool items—and sell it on the open market. No, I haven’t given up my “day job” and periodically I still have tedious arguments (as in raised voices) over whether a semi-colon or a comma is correct. But one can dream.
I am glad you stopped by. I hope that you and I can learn together, talk together, and maybe laugh together occasionally.

Visit my store at