Friday, June 28, 2013

Prairie Grl Tosses Fiddle Aside in Favor of Allen Stone

Monday night I went with a friend to see Allen Stone (Not to be confused with Alan, the smokin' landscaper mentioned by Sharon in the blog "Dare to Be a Free-Form Gardener") at Madison's historic Majestic Theater.  I have spent the last several months listening to Allen's current, self-entitled CD - Allen Stone.  I love it so much!  My oldest son has told me it is awkward when I dance to "Sleep."  He may have a salient point, but still - OWch!!!  Allen was the opening act for Andrew McMahon (who I had never heard of).  I was happy to buy a ticket just to see Allen for 38 minutes.

I didn't realize that I would be one of the three oldest relics at the show.  The other relics were my dear friend and the bassist's mother.  The average age was about 23.  Luckily I am secure enough to embrace being Allen's oldest fan. 

I was very curmudgeonly because 1 in 5 of the youngsters were texting.  I am old fashioned in thinking that you shouldn't text if you're at a fun place with your friends.  Oh, 3 out of 5 girls had bra straps showing.  (Don't get me wrong gentle readers, I like the peek of a colorful bra strap showing as much as the next person.  But these tops were just screaming for a strapless bra.  Now Sharon can write a blog called - "Did Ma Wear A Strapless Bra?")  And 5 out of 5 boys had on shorts and a grey ISH t-shirt with pit stains.  Thankfully Allen has fashion sense - as you can see by the above picture.  Who doesn't love a guy strolling around the state of Washington wearing a capelet and skinny jeans?   And the huge crooked glasses, reminiscent of the pair I had in 8th grade?  Frosting on the cake.  

Back to the youngsters texting.  The three girls in front of me were texting each other.  Finally one of them texted, all in caps, "I HATE THIS," and they all left.  (I guess they were there for Andrew McMahon.)  Well, the joke was on them.  Ha!  Shortly after they left, Allen invited the crowd to throw all their troubles on his back so we could be rid of our worries and just have fun.  I wonder how he felt carrying around my thigh insecurity, the thistle problem I have in my yard, confusion on how to properly dry herbs, and three unwritten papers?   

The point of this entire blog was supposed to be me encouraging you to go out and enjoy some music this summer.  It was also going to make some awesome point about aging, but I forget what that was.  I am not sure where this blog went off topic, perhaps after the title.  So Prairie Friends, just randomly pick some music to experience and have fun.  Appreciate the art & love musicians are sharing with you.  Bring along some friends (if you are in the Madison area, invite a Prairie Grl), put away your cell phones, and make sure you're wearing the appropriate bra.  (Sharon says my obsession with girls wearing the correct bra means I have hit middle age.)

You may want to check out Allen's Stone's official website to see if he is coming to a city near you.

Or you may be curious enough to view this extremely low budget video of one of my favorite songs, "Sleep."  Sharon said there was NO way she was watching this video.  Geez, Sharon.  Loosen your bonnet strings.

It is Beauty Tip Friday. Woot!

In honor of Allen's long flowing locks, the featured product is Kenra Volume Spray 10 oz (283 g) .  Yep,  this is the product for you if you want to keep your messy beach curls all day long.  Prairie Men - it is sure to keep your Michael Landon curls in place well after the shirtless chores and romping are done.   

I've been all over the world, yeah,
I've dug for diamonds and I've dove for pearls,
And the real treasure that we all seek,
Is hiding in plain sight of me, oh...

       --Allen Stone

Allen Stone:  Honorary Prairie Grl


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dare to Treat Yourself


Yesterday I had to go to my annual physical.  And my dear prairie sisters, we all know how enjoyable that experience is.  The minute you hear the word "stirrups" and don't see a pony in the room, it is time to skedaddle.  

I felt the need to treat myself a bit afterward, so I stopped at a little consignment shop Eydie and I discovered this past spring, The Village Attic in Cottage Grove--one of those places that has a bit of everything and more than a few jewels if you are willing to dig.  During our last visit, Eydie scored a vintage 60's handbag with a wooden bottom, just like one my Aunt Sally use to have.  She has since learned that 60's chic and today's phone technology don't exactly jive.  When her phone goes off, the entire bag tends to vibrate across the floor creating quite a racket.  On this visit I found just what I was looking for, a small low table that needed some TLC and a thick layer of Mod Podge.  Purchase secured, I headed home for an afternoon of creative fun.  

A month ago I had found an old art book of Mary Cassat paintings at the best used bookstore in Madison, The Frugal Muse.  I have always loved her portrayal of women, especially mothers. I had this idea floating around in my head of figures from various paintings layered, and this is the result:  

And after a wonderful afternoon, which followed a less than thrilling morning (my health is excellent, thank-you), I felt a twinge of guilt over having "wasted" six hours playing, but that twinge didn't last long.  I didn't do what I had to do, but I did what I wanted to do.  And when it is all said and done, what I didn't get accomplished yesterday is not going to matter a twit.  

This is a hard lesson for me.  I am a type A+ personality who has difficulty pausing for a breath as I rush through my daily list of "must do's."  In the past two years I have gone through a divorce, seen our family income cut in half, and taken on a second job as a result.  The "must do" list seems to be longer and more complex.  Learning  how to relax, how to procrastinate, how to play isn't a luxury anymore.  This is survival, and this summer is proving to be my graduate course in fun.

Speaking of fun, this is another collage I created today.  I didn't even buy the table for this one.  I found it in my neighbor's trash.

Definitely a bit quirky.  Those are Jackson Pollock "clouds" hovering over bits of Wood, Wyeth, Kanovitz, etc.  Joli looked at this one and asked with a bit of fear in her voice, "And where are you going to put it?"  I think she was afraid that it would end up in her bedroom.  You are probably asking the same.  The answer is, "Sell it!"  Eydie and I have our eyes on the Willy Street Fair in mid September. There is a person in Madison, Wisconsin who really needs this table.  I will find him/her.

So I am daring to treat myself this summer by putting off straightening that hall closet.  The carpets don't need to be cleaned until right before school starts, and maybe it would be better to wait until Christmas break.  I did get the grout cleaned on the kitchen floor, but that was by accident--a very long and painful accident that I will save for another post.  It was so terrifying that I had to collage a full two days before my pulse rate returned to normal.

Dear Eydie sent me this quote from another favorite of mine, Louisa May Alcott.  I should probably stitch this into a sampler, although I have given up needlework.  It isn't fun.

"Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.  Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success."

Prairie Sherry    


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stretching the Limits: Cooking as Art

Lordy, I use to hate cooking.  During her childhood, my oldest existed on chicken nuggets--for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I once caught Carla sucking on a nugget right out of the freezer.  Nuggets:  Pressed chicken parts dredged in dangerously orange crumbs from some unidentified source.  "Chicken lips, " I called them as I plunked yet another plateful in front of her. My youngest  
was into dairy--cheese and butter.  Seriously, I couldn't keep a butter dish unattended on the table.  At 18 months, Maia grabbed a stick waiting to become cookies and took a bite.  By the time I got her to let go, she had ingested 1/3 of a cup.  Pure bliss. And cheese was the mainstay of her diet--slices, chunks, gratings.  Sometimes I could slip a noodle into her mouth, but it had to be slathered with cheese.  She even licked the cheese off of hamburgers.

Then entered my middle child, adopted at age five and out of birth order.  Joli plunked herself down between her older and younger sister and shared with them her passion for food.  Coming from northern China, this tiny girl came with a love of garlic (raw and dipped in soy sauce), savory sauces, and hot chilies.  She craved complex and layered flavors.  Her idea of chicken was served with the head on to prove freshness.  No cheese had touch her lips.  

Not only did Joli have an appetite for the unique, she also had a very assertive (insert "bossy") personality.  She would shove a spicy tidbit into her younger sister's mouth via a very dexterous and dangerous pair of chopsticks.  She would scowl at her older sister's attempt to maneuver a "nugget" on her plate.  "No good!"  she would say, and use the same chopsticks to deposit it into the garbage.

Cooking became fun again.  I had an ally.  It was two against two.  Oh yes, the cheese and nugget crew suffered a bit, but they gradually came around.  Our kitchen stopped being my sole (and very lonely) domain, and it became the gathering place for the family.  All three girls were as interested in tying on an apron as  tucking in a napkin. 

And oh, do we love to cook and eat.  As I make my commute home, I look forward to grabbing my favorite knife and pouring a glass of wine as I begin dinner prep--a sometimes dangerous combination.  My oldest is now heading her own household, but my two younger girls are still around, and they have much better knife skills than I, thanks to several years of culinary classes in high school.  Also, being underage, the wine isn't even an option.  It is easy to pull them into the kitchen to attack an onion (medium dice), a carrot (julienne), or celery (brunoise). 
Jo and her amazing knife skills.

In home economics way back when fire had just been harnessed, I learned how to poach an egg.  Maia has learned how to make a rose out of a mushroom and a Marsala sauce to die for.  Joli (the one who still has a taste for garlic) has mastered puff pastry and produces croissants that can bring me to tears of  joy.  I have accumulated a wide assortment of platters that I like to use for my personal culinary canvases.  We collect recipes in a plastic tub.  It totally lacks organization, but holds many treasures.

This summer the three of us are sharing the cooking duties.  Right now Maia is rustling around the kitchen making dinner.  The "artist" never has to clean the studio after the meal is complete.  Her sister and I will do that.  Tomorrow Joli is head chef.  I was told to buy two Thai chilies, a lime, and a pound of ground pork.  

Prairie Sherry's extended  family "tucking into the vittles."
And do you think I would leave you without a recipe?  Here is my favorite recipe for classic pesto.  This would make a great side dish with your salt pork or freshly-shot prairie jackrabbit.

Classic Basil Pesto

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or blanched almonds (cheaper)
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup good grated Parmesan (good means it doesn't come in a round shaker)

Throw everything into a food processor and grind into a mish-mash (just pulverize with a rock if you are living in a claim shanty).  Toss with 1 lb cooked pasta.  Sprinkle with some additional Parmesan (because as my youngest will tell you, you can never have enough cheese).  Enjoy.  Alas, I do not have any recipes for salt pork.

Prairie Sherry    

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Prairie Grl Apologizes For Nellie Olsen Past

Last week I was the Nellie Olsen of my children's literature writing class, only missing sausage curls and oversized bows.  I was annoyed with my classmates for talking editors and publishers on Day 1 because I didn't seem to have one viable idea.  Then I behaved "badly."  (Make sure you read last Thursday's post, "Prairie Girl Shunned" for the complete dish.) 

Yes.  I fully understand, it IS more glamorous to imagine book signings and royalties than to soul search if an orange, dog-like cat can propel a plot forward.  It is also more glamorous to imagine having kids, rather than actually having them.  Oh the daydreams I had about being a mother who gently guided her perfectly dressed children through the twist and turns of life with grace and wisdom.  But, I digress. 

I needed to get over myself and listen to my classmate's stories. 

One classmate missed two days because her husband was diagnosed with colon cancer the day our class started.  Still she showed up the three days she could and wrote a story about a log cabin builder and a bird.  

Another classmate was undergoing major testing for serious health problems at the University of Wisconsin  Hospital.  She quietly told me she was in severe pain by the end of class, but still needed to write.  She showed up every day and wrote the sweetest bedtime poem about lambs.  (She also shares my passion for buying ultra-fine writing pens at the University Book Store.) 

In the middle of the week, our fearless instructor took her 23-year- old-son to his final leukemia treatment.  She showed up every day and taught me so much about writing children's literature.  Her teaching style was both no nonsense and encouraging.  A hard line to walk.

At the beginning of the week, I thought it was me who was daring greatly by stepping out of my box and greeting my perfectionistic leanings.  Nope, it wasn't me daring greatly, Prairie Friends.  It was my classmates who were daring greatly.   They showed up to practice their craft, even if their hearts were breaking.  Even if their bodies were in pain.  Even if their minds were wandering.   

Lesson learned.  We all can live a creative life in the life we have.  Thank you writer friends (and I hope your writings are snatched up soon by an editor). 

Prairie Eydie

P.S.  Here is your quote:

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”
Anne Lamott

Monday, June 24, 2013

Looking Back, Looking Ahead, and Looking at Michael Landon

I woke up this morning feeling like a mother, teacher, sister, friend, and...writer.  A writer!!  Someone who crafts with words as well as paper and Mod Podge.  For 34 years I have taught literature and writing, but now I am daring to do what I have preached for years, writing every day--and rewriting, and re-rewriting. 

It continues even when I am not staring at that difficult sentence for 20 minutes.  Instead of worrying about bills at 2 AM, I have been mulling over post ideas.  I have learned how to insert code so that book titles and beauty products link directly to Amazon.  I hope you noticed that!  I have pulled out my camera, actually purchased an 8 pack of AA's and taken photos.  And I have spent a whole lot of time either texting or talking to Eydie on the phone.  My daughters will tell you that this is not always my most productive use of my day.  

Last Monday,  Eydie and I had our first "business lunch" at a favorite haunt, Alchemy on Atwood Street in Madison.  She came armed with a flashy notebook, her updated iPhone aps, and a prairie schooner full of ideas.  I had to borrow a pencil from a waitperson and write on in the back of an outdated calendar that was residing in the bottom of my purse.  Ours is a symbiotic relationship.  So what did we do?  
I enlarged this picture so that you might make out some of the scribblings.  Yes, those are breasts, thus my post of last Wednesday, "Did Ma Wear a Bra?"   This, my dear readers, is our business plan.  We are doomed...or are we? 

In the interest in keeping you interested, I haven't forgotten that it is "Michael Landon Monday."  Pardon me while I digress:
Eydie said I needed to throw in some titillating photos.  Well, I think I many have exhausted my best resources last week with the washtub photo.  I am assuming that this one comes from one of the many steamy "bedroom scenes" on Little House.  You know, where Ma (in a flannel nightgown buttoned up to her nose) and Pa (always sans shirt to show off his pecs) cuddle under a quilt on the straw tick mattress and  discuss failing crops, broken butter churns, and replacing the siding on the sod house.  Just thinking about that straw tick makes me itch.  Keep Michael's pecs in mind as you slog through the next paragraph.  For our male readers, and we do love you, this one is for you.
Yup, the real Ma Ingalls.  I love that
"come hither" look.  No wonder Pa
kept leaving the claim looking for work. 
Digression done.  Back to the "plan" and this blog.  I have added some sidebar gadgets so that you can follow us via email.  If you add your email address in the window  under the "Follow by Email" and click "Submit", you will be notified the minute our pearls of wisdom hit the internet. How freakin' wonderful is that?!!!!  The "Subscribe" gadget right below has me a bit stymied.  When I tried it, I got a feed of Prairie Grlz activity right on  my Yahoo homepage.  That thrills me, but I am not sure if it has any use for you.

Finally, for my dear friends around the globe who have popped in for a read , I added a "Translate" gadget.  I have no idea what this does to our incredible English prose, but  I have a feeling that it may be better than the original.  Please let me know how it works.  I wonder how "straw tick" translates into Russian?

Oh, I know that several of you are terribly concerned that we are actually working on the "art" end of all of this.  Here are a couple of my more recent pieces of collage. The canvas is one of my little 3"x3" pieces.    Eydie and I found the chair on a curb waiting for the garbage truck.  You could call it "making trash out of trash..."  
The site of the carnage.

And honoring Eydie's love of a good quote and the fact that it is Michael Landon Monday:


                                                    "I think all of us create 
                                                       our own miracles."
                                                         Michael Landon

Sharon (aka Prairie Sherry)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dare To be A Free-Form Gardener

Being a bit of an Anglophile, I have always dreamed of a cottage (thatched roof, of course) with a proper English garden in the front--a profusion of blues, pinks, and yellows; a constant source of blooms for vases; a haven for butterflies and hummingbirds.

After a year living in tiny rental following a divorce, I purchased a small home for my family a year ago.  Alas,  it is an early 1980's two-story with a walk-out basement painted in a garish pumpkin brown, but with true garden potential.  Last fall I had the "planned" plantings stripped out of the front and laid the earth bare for my dream.  Alan, the landscaper suggested by Eydie not so much for his expertise in edging and weed barriers, but because he had a darling mop of sandy curls flecked with grey and admirable muscle definition, came by and gave advice on proper soil preparation and drainage. I must admit that I tuned out the soil prep suggestions as I imagined Alan a worthy stand in for Pa behind that plow.

During the cold of a Wisconsin winter, I purchased gardening books and catalogs.  I drew up detailed plans on graph paper.  I pondered over zones, soil conditions, sunlight and shade.  I waited until the first hint of spring to dash to my local nursery with plan in hand and permission to spend a shit-load of cash on perennials.

That is where things fell apart.  I fell under a spell.  I wandered down paths and aisles of blooms, touching and smelling each blossom.  I lost my graphed plan in the irises.  Anything that touched my fancy ended up in my cart.  When I got home, I saved all of the tiny plastic stakes that held the secret of what I had bought with the idea that I would reconstruct my garden map...but then one of my daughters tossed the stakes in the recycling.  I didn't care.

I have made many more trips to the nursery.  Now I throw the identifying stakes away immediately.  I look for bare spots.  I plant by whim.  I may have shorts behind talls.  I may have pinks by pinks.  Only time will reveal the secret of this garden.

I am a control freak.  I have always been a rule follower.  There has always been a master plan.  This time, however, and perhaps for many times in the future, I have stopped worrying about the end product and have reveled in the process.

"It's a secret garden," said Mary, "and I am the only one who wants it to be alive."                                                                                                                
The Secret Garden   Frances Hodgson Burnett

Sharon (aka Miss Tetley)

I haven't forgotten Friday's beauty tip!  Did you know that raw honey has natural antiseptic and moisturizing qualities?  I wash my face daily with equal parts Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Foaming Scrub, 4.2 Ounce and raw honey. Rinse well, otherwise you will tend to attract bees or a prairie plague of locust.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Prairie Grl is Shunned

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.”
     --Ann Lamont  
        Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I have become the unpopular girl in my writing class.  You might ask, "How could this have happened, Eydie, with you being so sweet and personable?"  Let me back up to Monday, the first day of writing class (Children's Books:  Write & Submit Your Stories). 

I was extremely anxious.  Perfectionist me only had a few vague ideas and one poorly developed manuscript that was in its final 3rd draft stage (That is a common writer's joke).  First, the instructor introduced herself and her impressive stack of published picture books. Then she asked if we had any questions.  Hands shot up like bottle rockets.

"How did you find an agent?"

"Will you look over my query letter?"

"What is the market for slice-of-life writing?"  

My anxiety migrated to my throat, stayed there, and grew.  Finally, after more questions of royalties, editors, and illustrators, I raised my hand and asked, "Aren't we talking about publishing on Friday?  Shouldn't we be talking about plot or character development or . . ." 

And that, Prairie Readers, is the moment I became unpopular.  The room became silent.  My once interactive peers were now sulky, like a three year old denied a plastic Cinderella tiara.  Some straightened the pages of their manuscripts.  Others dunked tea bags repeatedly in their paper cups.  The instructor agreed with me about Friday being the targeted publishing day and moved on.

Oh wait.  I did do another extremely obnoxious thing the first day.  Classmate Delilah (not her real name) announced it was on her bucket list to be hugged by Jack Gantos.  (I highly recommend his memoir Hole in My Life.)  Well, I HAVE been hugged by Jack Gantos and have an iPhone photo to prove it.  A sensitive soul would have kept the Gantos pic under wraps.  But not overtired, freaked out me.  I generously shared the photo of  me and Jack in a friendly clench.   

My classmates shunned me during break.  They didn't include me in their banter.  I had serious damage control to do because I am somewhat a people pleaser and not used to being unpopular.  The damage control process isn't all that interesting, but did involve me writing copious notes (with smiley faces) on their manuscripts, raising and lowering swivel chairs to the correct height, and giving away my owl mug.

Back to me being a perfectionist.  I did NOT want to throw out my self-centered hamster manuscript.  I thought if I could just force myself to write another 7 drafts I might have something that could possibly work.  Luckily, Sharon told me the hamster was dead, beginning to stink, and needed to be buried.  I am so relieved not to have to write about that surly hamster anymore.  Friday I will present my story to the group. 

"Buddy arrived in town with dirty paws and an appetite for dairy products.  Unlike most cats he wasn't lactose intolerant, though he had a problem with gluten. . ."  

To be continued.  Eydie

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

GASP! Prairie Grl Squelches Creativity In Children

I used to imagine I'd be the kind of mom who would be freely immersing her children in creative projects.  You know, stuff like finger painting with tinted shaving cream, stitching designs into Styrofoam meat trays (the meat would have been organic), plaster handprints every 6 months...  I did really well with my first born and regularly scheduled "Art time with Mommy" into his day. 

By kid number three I had digressed to hiding the art supplies behind the cookbooks.  I didn't want to deal with the messes and tension headaches that sprung from formative creative minds.  They'd eat the glue, paint their hands with soupy watercolors, flush the play dough down the toilet, and use enough paper to kill several mighty oaks. 

Sadly, it has become impossible for me to hide my interest in collage (and art supplies) because my desk looks like this:

My oldest son has  absolutely no interest in collaging.  ("Art Time with Mommy" probably damaged him more than I am aware.)  My youngest is content using my vintage rickrack to mummify her stuffed animals.  BUT, my needy middle child, Gus, loves to collage.  I have run out of excuses as to why he can't collage.  (Mommy is worried you won't have enough paper.  Mommy needs an adult beverage and a power nap before she can do anything.  Mommy has given up collaging and now only draws with a number two pencil.) 

So...  I dared greatly dear friends.  I let Gus collage.  He has a definite knack for tearing paper, randomly slapping stuff on the canvas, and having an overall vision.   Sniff.  He also has a talent for dragging me into Michael's craft store and racking up quite a bill. 

Do I regret those years of hiding paints and locking up rubber stamps?  No.  I realize it was self-preservation and have taken steps to forgive myself.  But take a look at Gus' first collage below.  Mom Pretty.   Did you all see that? 

Dare greatly today.  Create an art project - extra points if you create with a six year old.


PS - Tune in tomorrow for an update on my writing class.  You'll find out how this Prairie Grl angered the whole class!  This is definitely new territory for me to till.    Oh - my need for perfect writing is still alive and simmering. 

I love quotes.  So here is one for you.  "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."  Voltaire   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Did Ma Wear a Bra?

Speaking of perfectionism...did Ma wear a bra? 

 I come from good pioneer stock.  I make pies using a rolling pin that traveled from New York State to western Iowa in a covered 
wagon sometime prior to the Civil War. Like Ma Ingalls, my great and great-great grandmothers rocked babies, fed threshing crews, sewed entire family wardrobes, and cleaned  houses without the benefit of Dyson vacuums and HE washers.  

How can I run out of hours in the day when I have a house filled with conveniences and two teen-age daughters who are delightfully competent in the kitchen and the yard?

My own ma was raised by a mother who was born in 1889.  She was named after one of those pioneer women who did it all in a corset and a long-sleeved and ankle-length dress--Harriet Jane.  She sewed my clothes, tended a large garden, baked from scratch, graduated from college at 47, and read poetry until the early hours of the morning.  She was an incredible combination of pioneer and liberated woman.  Mom taught me how to clean and clean properly, but she also taught me that you never clean wearing a bra.

I am guessing she wore one when my brother and sister were learning the particulars of home maintenance.   They are a bit older than I, and then Mom was probably scrubbing floors in a "house dress" and a manicure.  Things had changed by the time she handed me the long end of a mop.  This was around the time she drove off the road and  into a snow drift while singing "I Am Woman."  "Too confining," she told me as she dropped the offending brassiere in the laundry basket.

Mom taught me the prosaic, but the real lesson I learned from her was to listen to my heart and take chances.   She sat through two sessions (24 classes in all) of rosemaling lessons with me so that I wouldn't spend all my time in college studying.  She had no painting talent, but she cheered me on.  She was my travel buddy as we trekked through Europe numerous times during the late 70's and 80's. "Let's just go into the next town and ask the first person we see if he knows of a good B&B."  She gave me the courage to adopt three daughters as a single mom. "If anyone can do it, you can," is what she told me when I told her about the third.

This entry has taken on a much different life and tone than expected.  Perhaps it is because last week would have marked Mom's 89th birthday.  Perhaps it is because the first things I ever collaged were some of her recipes, which now hang in my kitchen.  Mom would have loved reading this blog.  Mom would have started a blog of her own.  Mom cleaned without a bra.  Thanks Harriet...


Am I the only one who has to steal batteries from the TV remote so I can take a picture?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Prairie Grl Ponders Perfection

"There's a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in."  Leonard Cohen

I have recently figured out that I am a perfectionist.  HUGE surprise to me.  I am the type of gal who will wear a coffee stained top to work and pretend it happened while driving to work.  (Thank goodness panty hose are now socially discouraged because of the "run" issues.)    I also don't worry if my kids' faces are streaked with M and Ms or if I managed to completely wipe up an apple juice spill.  In most areas of my life, good enough is good enough.

However, when it comes to my creative endeavors I am a complete perfectionist.  I become so worried about writing the perfect first sentence or locating the most meaningful shred of paper that nothing gets done.  I have chapters of incomplete books written.  Usually what happens is the plot gets too messy and I can't make my characters behave.  At my last writing workshop, my classmates insisted I dump my carefully crafted antagonist by chapter two.  The antagonist was so flawed that everyone hated him.  I mean, they REALLY hated him.  No one wanted to read to chapter eight to figure out why he was a train wreck.  So, I made the misunderstood antagonist go on an unexplained road trip and then replaced him with a Ghost Grandmother.  (Now that I think of it, I should probably be writing for some  soon to be canceled soap opera.) 

Today I start another writing class.  Writing children's books.  (I figure I should be able to finish a children's book.)   I have been up since 3:17 because the only idea I have is a self-centered hamster who loves maps. Brene Brown says in her book, Daring Greatly.  "Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence.  Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth.  Perfectionism is a defensive move."  WHAT!!!?!  I guess that means I need to try something new.

So, just for today, my Prairie Friends, I am going to trust the creative process and complete each step along the way.  My self-centered hamster may need to evolve into a turkey who needs glasses.  My poignant collage tribute to Nancy Drew may need to be finished without an illustration of her convertible.   It is all good.   


Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 3 - Young Prairie Grl Answers Prairie Men

Day 3 - Young Prairie Grl Answers Prairie Men

I was planning on blogging about the difficulty of being an artist while raising three young children - stressing the importance of not waiting to start your artistic life until all your children are out of the house.  (I am 45 years old and my youngest turned three in March.  You do the math, it is far too upsetting for me.)  Then I was going to seamlessly transition to the featured Prairie Grl Beauty Product of the Week.  (Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm, #02 Whole Lotta Honeyfor instant Jennifer Aniston Chic.  Leave those berries and corals to Betty White.)  

BUT, it has come to my attention that the male readers of Prairie Grlz are feeling left out.  It seems they have absolutely no recollection of ever watching Little House on the Prairie and the "horrifying" sight of Michael Landon in a wash tub made them want to chew off their right leg.  

To quote one anonymous reader, "The blogsite seems to have a clear obsession with Michael Landon, a celebrity from ancient times.  I want to put in a request for equal time.  I suggest you hunt down a photo of a shirtless Raquel Welch plowing a field.  Well ok...she doesn't have to be plowing a field.  A shirtless Raquel Welch sitting in an old tub will do."  

Now, you'd think this reader would have stayed with the integrity of Prairie Grlz and asked that Ma, in her high-necked, flannel nightgown, with her long greying braid slung over her shoulder be featured.  Sigh.  Sharon and I deeply value our "Prairie Men" and hope that this photo of Raquel Welch wearing Pa's hat will make everyone happy.  

Okay.  Next week Prairie Grlz will be focused like a laser on living the creative life though ripped paper, hot glue guns, and vintage buttons.

Eydie (aka Mrs. Bigelow)

PS - Sharon, please save me a sampler platter of those bars.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 2--The Older Grl Speaks...

Was it just our imagination that Pa Ingalls was plowing without his shirt on?  I have searched Google Images for far too long and have come up with nothing.  If truth be told, I am older than Eydie. I admit to having had a crush on Little Joe Cartwright.  Now there was Michael Landon at his best.  Eydie gets a vague look on her face when I mention Bonanza. She is just an infant.  This is the best I could come up with--

Pa Ingalls cleaning up on a Saturday night...

...and Little Joe (sigh).

My middle daughter is graduating from high school on Saturday.  What does that have to do with Prairie Grzl?  It has everything to do with my realization that in just two years when my youngest finishes her high school years, I will be an old  mature bird sitting on an empty nest.  My oldest is already off on her own with my two grandbabies in tow, my middle one is packing her bags, and my youngest is asking about college tours.

How will I spend my time when my life doesn't revolve around school sports, work schedules, proms, and all night study sessions?  Believe me, I have plenty to do!  Boredom is not in my vocabulary. Prairie Grzl is my jump start into that life when my messy projects are never put away, no one has taken my favorite scissors and used them to give the dog a haircut, and I can stay up as late as I want doing what I want.

I have stacks of project ideas, but my two passions right now are making miniature collages (3 inch square) and creating jewelry in a style that I like to call "Industrial Chic."  Eydie has been my collage muse.  She was the one who handed me my first bottle of Mod Podge and a paint brush and told me to tear my paper rather than cut.  The jewelry grew out of a turn down a wrong aisle in a Michael's Crafts.

So that is part of my story.  Back to baking bars and cookies for the graduation party.

Sharon (aka Miss Tetley)


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 1 

Our creative plunge through the prairie has officially begun.  This is scary!  Recently we were watching Dr. Phil & Oprah.  Dr. There-are-two-sides-to-a-pancake Phil said you have to make a plan and write it down in order to star in your own life.    There is nothing we'd like more than to be stars, so this is the summer of creativity, a new Etsy site, and this blog.  

                       EARTH WITHOUT ART IS "EH"

Who ARE we?

We are two soul sistahs (Eydie and Sharon), teachers by day, artists by night, and moms all the time.  We live in an oasis of sanity within the Scott Walker Evil Empire.  Buying local is important-- as is art, as is quality mulch, as is butterfly bushes, as is Mod Podge. 

Prairie Grlz???

Five years ago we bonded over our fixation on Laura Ingalls Wilder--reminiscing over pig bladder balloons, Pet & Patty, the China Shepherdess, and  Ma's probable heavy drinking.  Neither of us like the TV version of Laura's inspiring life, though Michael Landon plowing the field sans shirt was HOT.  

Our goal?

When not engaging in insipid talk of Laura Ingalls or visiting DeSmet, South Dakota (we have hugged the cottonwoods that Pa planted--one tree for each of his girls), we adore collaging.  At the end of the summer we will launch our Prairie Grlz Etsy site.  We will be blogging (our first time) about our adventure as we go. 

Why?  Why?  Why?

We want to star in our own lives!!  Dare greatly!  Create!  Follow our passion!  Inspire others to create their own art and wear tiaras while doing it!  Have an ongoing excuse to get together and enjoy each other's quirky self!