Who Is
The Fragrant Muse?

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Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, United States
I'm a Creative Soul and Happy Person. I have a passion for my Family, Aromatics, Fairy Gardens, Pugs, SoulCollage, Miniature Worlds, Visual Journals.


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All rights reserved.
Please don't use my written word, photography or art without my permission.
Thank you.


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Friday, July 31, 2009

Honoring the Muse of Lull

Today, Musie and I are taking a break from Fragrant Friday.

We are honoring "Lull", the muse of pause, taking a break, and making room for the space in between.

In the cycle of creativity, sometimes it's necessary to do nothing.  To rest and allow your creative resources to regenerate.

We will be back next week with another edition of Fragrant Friday and a magnificent oil from the East.


To learn more about the Nine Modern Day Muses go here.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Altered Car Project - Part II

There's a school not far from where I live called The Northwestern Academy.  Its a "juvenile justice facility" that describes itself as follows:

A residential treatment center for adjudicated delinquents placed by the Juvenile Courts across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The kids who live there ~ teenaged boys and girls ~ have seen it all:  abuse, drugs, violence, neglect.   The facility programs range from an intensive secure treatment unit to an "open program" where the residents are allowed to leave the premises for short periods to go out into the community.

So what does all this have to do with my altered car project?

The Academy had no art program and approached Mary Jo Tavares, the Director and creator of our fabulous YMCA Arts Center requesting a pilot art program for six boys in their "open program".  

Please click on the pictures to get a larger view.

The Front Porch of the Arts Center which is in a beautiful old house

Here's Mary Jo working with a group of kids in the Center's kitchen

Since I already offer creative journaling instruction at the Center, Mary Jo asked if I'd like to teach a class to this unique new group of kids, but didn't feel that art journaling lent itself to teen boys.  Instead, I told Mary Jo about my altered car project from the previous year.  I suggested that the boys might enjoy this project since it involved cars. Also, creating a positive visual reminder of their goals would be a healthy activity.  Mary Jo embraced the idea from the minute I described it! 

I began scouring thrift stores and ebay looking for just the right vehicles.  I wanted them to  be about the same size - approximately 18" - with lots of flat surface for collage and embellishment.    We set up a long table with magazines and every kind of ephemera imaginable as well as paint, glue, broken jewelry, wire, letters, tubes of every size and about 20 more dishes of interesting items that could be glued to their cars.

At first, the project didn't register with the boys.  They thought they were suppose to simply decorate the cars.  It was as if voicing their dreams was just too alien.  

So I gave them a homework assignment.  "Go home and fill out this questionnaire," I told the boys.  "Let your imaginations soar."

This is what they worked on :


What Will You Do With Your One,
Wild and Precious Life?

-Mary Oliver, American Poet

Dreams and Goals for Your Life

Goal setting is your compass.  If you go on a trip, you need a map.  Goal setting is your compass and roadmap to your future success.  Write out some of the dreams you have for your life.  Later you can get more specific with your plans, but for now, jot down a simple phrase, or even one word, to keep the idea from being forgotten.  And try not to censor your dreams!

1. Career:  What would be your dream job?
2. Artistic/Hobbies: 
Are there any artistic skills you would like to learn?  Paint, play the drums, sing, weld?
3. Learning/Education: 
What would you like to know more about?  Do you want to earn any degrees?Are there books you would like to read?  Do you want to learn another language or trade?
4. Recreation and Fun:  How do you want to enjoy yourself? Do you want to travel?  Where would you like to go?  Is there a sport you would like to learn?   Where would you like to go on vacation?
5. Relationships:  
What kind of relationships do you want to be in?  Do you want to get married? Have children?  Develop new friendships?

6. Home:  Where would you like to live?  What would your home look like?  An apartment?  A house in the country?  An RV?  Do you want to build your own house?  Live on a farm?  Live in an apartment in the city?
7. Financial:  
How important is money in your life?  What do you want to do with your money?  What do you want to buy?  A car?  A home?  A college education?  Save it?  Give it to charity?
8. Physical/Health:   Do you want to lose/gain weight?  Exercise? Stop smoking?  Eat healthier?
9. Spiritual/Personal Attitude:  
What are your spiritual goals?  Do you want to learn to meditate?  To be more peaceful?  Practice prayer?  Develop an attitude of gratitude?  Learn forgiveness?
10. Community
: Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?  Do you want to work in the Peace Corps?  As a missionary overseas?  With local groups?  Political and social activities?
11. Anything else:


Coming face to face with their own dreams by the simple act of filling out the paper seemed to be a critical turning point for these young men.  Now that they had a "map" to help point them in the direction of their desires, they became excited about their cars and had more clarity about what they needed to create to their life metaphors.

Mary Jo created backgrounds to showcase the cars.
Here are four of the six altered vehicles from the class.

If you work with students of any age, you are welcome to use my ideas to create something similar.  The next group that came in were six girls and I was not able to teach that class due to prior committments.  However, Mary Jo taught it and instead of cars, she used old shoes.  When they were finished, they looked something like this:

I feel privileged to have had the chance to work with "my" boys. 

They were polite, tidy, respectful and above all courageous enough to rise above their difficult beginnings and open themselves to the concept that "the past does not equal the future". 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow

Got really into staycation mode and didn't finish the Altered Car Part II post as promised.

If the Gods of relaxation don't completely do me in, it'll be out tomorrow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Next week I have no massage appointments in my book.  No classes to teach.  No meals to cook.
The most pressing thing on my agenda is having my car inspected. 
My husband is away on a course and I have the week off.  It's going to be good medicine for my soul.

Here are some thoughts on what I'd like to do next week:
  • sleep in
  • pedicure
  • massage
  • finish painting birdhouse for Ashley's Auction 
  • finish the last IDSS art journal project pages
  • complete the two painted purses I'm working on
  • catch up on emails from readers with questions
  • add backgrounds to my daily art journal
  • go through piles of clutter in living room/family room and do a big toss/giveaway
  • make 3 new soulcollage cards
  • swim
  • draft new posts
  • go through closet and get rid of superfluous clothes
  • list what Gianluca will need for college
  • walk/run
....or maybe I'll sit sit by the pool all week, sipping Tam's Red.

A Daily Dose of Wonder: Special Edition

I've mentioned Jill Badonsky in previous posts.  I did my first Daily Dose of Wonder here and also added her to a list here.  

Jill is a treasured friend and here just a few reasons why:
> she is brilliant, unique and very very funny
> we've been known to share the same brain
> her creativity is spontaneous, whimsical and bold
> she is courageous
> she can make me laugh till I pee my pants
> we both shut out the world on Thursday nights to watch 30 Rock and The Office
> she adores me :-)

Today is Jill's birthday. In her honor I'm posting another page from her book The Awe-Manac, A Daily Dose of Wonder


Text and journal prompt from the book are in black, my responses are in purple.
watercolor by Jill 
Daily Soul Vitamin
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity.
The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. ~Carl Jung
My creative mind loves to play with words, colors, images and smells (not necessarily in that order). 

Toast of the Day

Happy Birthday to:
George Bernard Shaw, 1856, Irish Playwright.  A cool quote by Shaw: A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.  Wow, my life is WAY honorable!
Carl Jung, 1857, Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology. Did you know that Sigmund Freud was his doctoral advisor??
Kevin Spacey, 1959, award-winning actor and director (he's on my list of
crushes here)
Staff of The Awe-manac, 1956  Happy Birthday Jillybean <3


George Bernard Shaw said, "I often quote myself.  It adds spice to my conversation."  Invent three sayings you would like to be quoted as saying:
1. "I figure, why do a massage in black and white when I can do it in color." (referring to using essential oils in a massage)
2. "My age isn't determined by the year I was born, it's determine by how much I love to play.  I figure I'm about nine."
3. "
My intelligence is like a river.  It may not be the deepest in the world, but it's broad and swift."

Journal Juju
Kevin Spacey said, If you feel you have something to give, if you feel that your particular talent is worth developing, is worth caring for, then there's nothing you can't achieve."
Dedicate every breath in your body to achieve your dream.  Start by writing one small question in your journal that can turn you in this direction:  what one small way can I demonstrate by dedication to that which I believe?  How can I make it fun?
I have already begun to demonstrate my dedication to improve my writing, when I opened this  blog.  To make it fun I've incorporated photography and made the blog about all the things that make me happy.

Today  I Get To:
   Teach an aromatherapy class to a small group of massage students.  If it's a nice day, I might teach the class outdoors.   And I get to bring my pug.

Jill's website: http://www.themuseisin.com/home.html
Jill's blog: http://kaizentral.typepad.com/awemanac
o sign up for her newsletter:  http://www.themuseisin.com/newsletter.html

Her books: 

The Awe-Manac, A Daily Dose of Wonder
A playful and practical guide that's a refreshing twist on thte Old Farmer's Almanac.  You find daily forecasts and directives to make life more creative, amusing, gratifying and extraordinary - every day of the year!

The Nine Modern Day Muses (and A Bodyguard): 10 Guides to Creative Inspiration for Artists, Poets, Lovers and Other Mortals Wanting to Live a Dazzling Existence (Paperback)
The nine Greek Muses have been updated to meet the needs of the creatively stuck modern day mortal.  Includes affirmations, rituals, art, writing and brainstorming exercises.

I'll be back tomorrow with
Part II of  The Altered Car Project!

You can read Part I here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Altered Car Project - Part I

In February of 2008 I completed a 12-month program entitled Holistic Health Practitioner Training.  Throughout the year we were given loads of assignments, many designed to increase our self-awareness.

One such exercise was to decorate the outside of a box with positive affirmations about ourselves.  Then we had to write negative, self-limiting statements about ourselves on slips of paper and put them inside the box.  Ultimately we did an exercise in which we destroyed the negative slips of paper.

The day the assignment was due, everyone showed up with a box.  Except me.  Nooooo.   Far be it for me to keep to the rules.  Musie is not only fragrant, but also a bit defiant.

I bought a Barbie convertible and encrusted the entire outside with affirmations, dreams, goals and positive statements about every important area of my life; family, career, health, travel.  I started with collaging pictures then added some beads then the next thing I knew it was covered with bling, feathers and fur.  What a ball I had creating this project!  The car was, of course, a metaphor for "steering my life" in the direction I want.

I cut out my photo and added butterfly wings and a crown and glued myself to a pelt of rabbit fur draped over the front seat. 
I even sprayed the fur with Bergamot essential oil!   I then dug through Gianluca's closet for some of his old action figures (this is why I never throw anything away).    I pulled out the ugliest ones I could find like the creature from Alien and other assorted monsters and gave them labels like perfectionist, self-sabatogue, people pleaser and that old standby guilt.  I sat these little delights in the backseat.   During the destruction of self-limiting beliefs exercise, I pulled those suckers from the car and threw them out! 

This exercise was very empowering.

Below is my car, minus the critters
(click on the photo for a larger view)

This past spring, my altered car became part of a transformational project for some very special kids.

Stay tuned for Part II!

big a** pictures with html bugs

As much as I'd love to tell you all that this exquisite rose came from my garden I cannot.

It was an experimental post by Julochka who was
helping me solve
a technical problem I was having with the html on supersized photos.

This rose is from her garden last summer, and so lovely I'm keeping it up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where Were you Forty Years Ago Today?

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing.

My memory of that day is vague but at eleven years old, I wasn't too young to understand that it was a big deal.

I was living in a suburb of Tiapei, Tiawan and I remember walking down the street and the doors to many homes were open because it was hot. As I walked the street I could see the flicker of television after television while everyone watched.
All the TVs were in black and white.

It's not a profound memory, but I can tell my kids and grandson that I do remember the day.

What do you remember about that day?

Do you think it was a hoax?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Bloggers Lunch and a New Perspective

Before I began my blog in April of this year, I was pretty ignorant about what blogging was and who blogged. I wore "blogging blinders" giving me tunnel vision about the blogosphere and what happens there.

In my narrow vision, I saw bloggers as random individuals around the globe (specifically in cities; surely rural folks didn't blog) sitting in solitude bashing out words for their own amusement, mental therapy or income. And I was comfortable stepping into this role of "blogger" because I rather like my solitude and love bashing out words for all of the reasons listed above.

What I never imagined was how sending my thoughts out into cyberspace would metamorphose into being part of a community; a small society of individuals who share some commonality with me, even if it's just another blog we both enjoy. And to my surprise and delight, I've discovered that my personal community has it's own little neighborhoods; the artists, the real writers, the comics, the expats, the environmentalists, the healers, AND the real world neighbors!

It was two of these real world neighbors I had lunch with on Friday.

In the past month, Cyndy of 110Penned, the OptomistPessimist and I discovered that we three live within an hour of each other. The flurry of emails began, always ending with "we must get together for lunch". And so we did. Last Friday we met for lunch in a town pretty much in the center of our respective locations.

So what was this experience like for me?

First of all, I was nervous. The trepidations that OP wrote about in this post started to come up for me. What if they were disappointed?
What if they didn't like me or I laughed too loud or said something stupid..... Ahh yes, the gremlins were out in full force Friday morning.

Feeling like Mama Bear since I chose the restaurant and made the reservati
ons, I arrived early. Thirty minutes early to be exact. I wanted to see the table - was it in a good spot? Would there be room for laptops? Could we stay as long as we wanted without the waitress giving us the evil eye. And what about the wine and beer list??
At 12:30 I looked at my watch. Where were they? Why were we not already in full hug mode? Then OP texted sayingconstruction was holding her up, and Cyndy phoned to say she overshot the location and would be there in a few minutes. So there we sat - the gremlins and I.

I took out my current art journal and wrote the first three paragraphs of this post while waiting.

Then suddenly I looked up and there was Cyndy! We hugged like old friends (which we were, really, old pen pal friends) and the next minute OP had arrived and there were more hugs and the chatter began.

We are all so very very smart (or really committed to our food). Prior to arriving, we had each checked out the menu online and knew what we wanted to order so no valuable talk time was wasted on that. I never felt awkward or nervous or had one self-conscious moment. I did have reservations about having a glass of wine in the middle of the day, but after OP ordered her Boddington's Pub Ale, no more reservations.And we talked. We talked about family and work and the iPhone and Cyndy's Mac and everything it seems, except our blogs. The topic certainly came up and we covered it bit, but mostly we talked about ourselves. It was as if we were hungry for knowledge of our sister bloggers. We had a fascinating discussion on the origin of our respective kids names and with 8 kids among us, that took awhile.

OP let me fondle her new iPhone make a phone call with her new iPhone, and I insisted I have my own ring tone (Baba O'Reilly by The Who). Cyndy opened her Mac and gave us a brief lesson on statcounter since it drives me nuts that I don't know how to track lurkers.

We each bemoaned our respective lack of toys - Cyndy and I want an iPhone, OP and I want a Mac, OP and Cyndy want an SLR camera. But I declared that since Cyndy has theMac, OP the iPhone and I the Nikon D60, we make a complete package!

And, of course I took pictures. Not as many I as thought I would since I didn't want to lose precious getting-to-know-each-other time on snapping pics.

Here is Cyndy with her Mac taken with OP's iPhone

and here is OP taking a picture of Cyndy and I with her iPhone
Suddenly it was 2:30 and OP had to run to get her boy, I had to pick up the Bean and Cyndy had 27 kid projects to attend to.

It was over SO fast.

My "blogging blinders" have been forever ripped from my eyes. Some bloggers are just like me - normal, hardworking ladies with a real life and real dreams, family obligations, a good sense of humor, kid worries, strong opinions, hungry creativity and above all, a need to write about all of it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Pause

I'm taking a couple of days off from posting, reading blogs and commenting.

I'll be back for Fragrant Friday with an oil requested by Julochka!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Miniaturists Unite

I am a member of the Susquehanna Minimakers, a club of miniature enthusiasts who meet each month to work on projects, talk about national events and to share our love of all things tiny.
Yesterday was our annual picnic and auction.

This year we met at the home of Beth
who, I just discovered, has a blog
called A Gardener's Art.
It was a stunning summer day ~
perfect for enjoying food, art and friends outside.

Beth and her husband Bill own an antique shop
called Lavender and Lace
which is right next to their home.
It was fun poking around inside.

We always have an auction to raise money for the club.
Below is Joan, the club President, auctioning off a bag of
miniature furniture that I won.

My plan is to paint the furniture in whimsical colors.
It will probably won't happen until the year 2020.

I also won this fabulous bag that M.R. made.
It has a retro feel that appeals to me
and lots of interesting pockets.

Moneybags Muldoon bid on (and won) this tiny vase
which matches a punch rug I'm working on
for a 1:12 scale cottage.

This lovely piece was handpainted by M.R. and won by Brenda.

Here are a few more tiny creations made by Beth.
This started out in life as a birdhouse...

that she transformed...
...into a tiny tea shoppe!
You can read more about her work on this project here.

And here are a few more of the 1:144 scale
tiny worlds Beth has produced.
(Personally, I prefer to work in 1:12 scale
but I enjoy peering into these tiny dwellings.)

There were decadent strawberries
and blueberry cake.

Here is a recent yardsale find that I brought to show off
share with the club. Everyone oohed and aahed.
I would have been disappointed if they hadn't

I paid $12 for this dollhouse and all the original furniture
and family
only to discover the house alone is worth
approximately $300.

It was made in the 1970s and reminded everyone of something
right of of an episode of the Brady Bunch.

Amy made this incredible 1:444 scale Egg Shoppe
out of an emu egg!
She made Shelly, the chicken, out of fimo,
the counter from a peanut butter jar lid
and the stools out of paper clips. I was in awe.

Here is a bed for some tiny woodland creature.
Now where do you suppose I might put something like this??

I felt energized and renewed after a day
spent in the company of such imaginative and creative women.

I'm totally inspired to begin the
twenty-seven miniature projects I have in mind.

Now I just need another day in the week to complete them!