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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Home Videos

For New Year’s Eve my family came over and enjoyed homemade pizza, Caesar salad and for dessert, chocolate Texas sheet cake.  I couldn't think of a more delicious way to honor my brother Rodney who was visiting from Texas with his two older children.  After dinner, we watched home videos from when my siblings and I were young.  
It was beautiful to watch my then young parents on the screen; how they played and worked with us little ones.  My dad was so active with us; sliding down zip-lines, jumping into the pool off the roof, hiking, riding bikes, etc.  My mom was 24 when I was born.  What a beauty she was and still is!  I am a much older mother, not having my first child until I was 27, but still, I can’t believe I’m in the phase of life she was in all those years ago.

We all reminisced, remembering the good days, talking about old neighbors, the dogs and cats we loved as pets, the time we did this and that and I felt so blessed to have the relationships with my family that I so cherish. 

The next day, the counselor and I invited his side of the family over for dinner.  I made my in-laws spinach lasagna, salad and homemade brownies a la mode.  My sister-in-law Amber brought over her new little daughter.  I love his family like me own and cherish my time with them.  Well, imagine my surprise when after dinner the counselor put on that old home video from when I was a child, proud as punch to share it with his family.  He had heard all the stories the night before and re-shared each one in detail.  You know how boring it is watching other people’s home videos, but the counselor couldn't be more entertained.  His parents and sister were good sports too. 

“There’s Laura swimming when she was two years-old,” he would say or “This is Laura’s 7th birthday party.  Watch this part, its funny.”  I couldn't believe how into it he was.

And that’s another reason why I love my man.  He continues to surprise me with love and affection and interest in all the little details about what makes me who I am.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Silverware/Silver Dresser

The last few weeks I’ve noticed my silverware drawer a bit empty.  I assumed it had something to do with that huge pile of unwashed dishes in my sink, but even after everything was cleaned up, there was still a major utensil shortage.  When I had my in-laws over last week I had to use plastic forks! 
Well, it appears my son Reef, 
my tree-climbing animal-loving busy-as-a-bee boy 
has been using spoons, knifes, forks, soup ladles, spatulas, etc. for worm and roly-poly searches, so . . .  happy to have any excuse to run out thrifting, I went shopping this week for silverware. 
D.I. (Deseret Industries) has huge bins full of funky mid-century, you name it .25 cent/each utensils, and if you know me, I don’t do matched.  I’m very eclectic even with silverware.  With five kids, this system has served me well.
While shopping, I found this little solid wood beauty.
I think all that silverware shopping finally caught up with me; I knew the dresser had to be silver.
Linking up to:  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill

What is the advice I receive most often from attending writer’s workshops and author conferences?   READ!  If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to be a reader.  Reading is a luxury rarely found at home, but available at the gym.  They call me the treadmill reader.  I prop my book up and start to read.  It makes my workouts fly by and I can get through the piles of books I’ve collected from thrift stores.

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill; a book so eloquently written I felt like I was there and there were times I didn’t want to be.
11 year-old Aminata Diallo is young girl who loves her parents and the rituals of her tribal African homeland.  She picks mangos while her dad tells stories and helps her mother deliver babies as a midwife, but in 1745 Aminata’s parents are killed and she is kidnapped by brutal men. 

Aminata, along with hundreds from her village and thousand from neighboring communities are taken as slaves, dragged across the ruff terrain to the boarding ships headed for America.  A novel written about the horrific accounts of slavery, Someone Knows My Name opened my eyes to the horrors of a little girl left to defend herself and learn the customs of an unjust land.

Truthful and poignant, the scene that most stands out is when Aminata, now a young woman, bravely delivers her own child; a son.  Finally a family, someone she can love and call her own when several weeks after his birth, he is stolen from her in the night.  Her screams and heartache are ignored when she finds out her infant was sold at a slave auction.  She is a person treated as a nobody; she is a girl with a name no one knows.  Someone Knows My Name is a book of fiction filled with truthful history that should never be forgotten.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to get out of their comfort zone and consider the oppression that still exists for so many of our brothers and sisters. 

Aminata is a fighter, a lover and a reader.  She holds onto memories like precious jewels and never forgets the love of her parents; this is what gets her through when no one knows her name.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Two in a Row

Thrifting the last few weeks has been great.  Rarely do I find two dressers exactly the same.
Two weeks ago, I painted one up like this.
Then a week later, the counselor brought home another one; the twin.
 This was my second interpretation.  I found these darling knobs at Hobby Lobby.
While shopping at Goodwill, I found this Max Studio wrap-around dress.  
(I think my best accessory is this little girl always wrapped around my hip.)
Everything at Goodwill is half-off every other Saturday, so I paid $5.00 for this dress.  I looked on Max Studio's website, and this dress sold new for over $200.
Young Adult manuscript update:
My publisher loved My Dear Lucy (to read more about that, click here) and sent over a page of edits, 
quote: "with these changes it will be superb.".  
And The Memory Catcher went to press for its second printing. 
Two in a row again.
To order your copy of The Memory Catcher, click here or here.
Linking up to:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Falling In Love - I Love You

     Valentines Day 1998 was my first date with the counselor.  I remember sitting on the bathroom counter staring into the mirror while applying mascara when he walked in the front door of my apartment (I’d left it open because the weather was nice).
     “Hello, Laura,” he said and I liked the sound of his voice.
     I grabbed my purse and a bottle of silver nail polish and out the door we went.  On the car ride to the restaurant, I painted my nails.
     After dinner, we walked to the movie theater in the rain and I convinced him to jump through puddles with me along the way. 
     You see, the counselor and I were friends first.  I think that’s why I felt so comfortable around him.  I never felt the need to impress or make a fuss.  He was such a nice person.
     Well, if you’ve read a bit about my love story, (click here) you’ll remember love didn’t come easy to me.  I fought it every chance I had.  I was so certain the counselor and I were “just friends” that a second date didn’t seem necessary.
     Thanks to the counselor’s poetry and my big sister’s advice of finding Mr. Right, in April 1998 a second date came to pass.  There in his car where I had left it in the cup holder two months earlier was my silver nail polish.  On the seat was a note for me.  I opened up the piece of paper and written in silver nail polish it said “Do you want to go puddle jumping with me again?”
     That's when I started looking at him a bit differently.
     The counselor was a quite sort of man.  He was a listener; an observer.  He remembered details; specifically details about me.  I was more like a bull in a china shop where the counselor reflected and made decisions off calculated observations.  I, on the other hand, lost my car keys several times a day every day.  We were polar opposites!
     I noticed these differences right away, so when we started dating, I liked that I made him smile.  He found me amusing.  We both pulled each other out of our comfort zone. 
     Both the counselor and I loved hiking Arizona, so in May 1998 he invited me to hike with him just outside the mountains of Carefree.  The drive was off the beaten path on a dirt road.  I was talking about this and that with great bouts of passion and sarcasm, using lots of hand expressions I’m sure when he almost drove off the road.  He pulled the steering wheel back and swerved, just missing a wayward tree.  It was a bit out of character for Mr. Calculated.  Before we arrived at the trail head, he did it again.  It appeared he kept his eyes too much on me and not enough on the road ahead.
     Although I didn't understand why, his attention gave me a quiet sort of confidence.  I wasn't used to being the center of attention, but for him, I could be.      
     Finally, he parked the car and we both started our hike up the mountain trail.  We walked several miles to a small lake.  It was a warm summer day and I couldn’t help but take my shoes off and walk knee-deep into the water.  I encouraged him in, but he declined.  I walked around a bit, splashed my face and found a few crawdads in the mud.  When I looked up, I realized the counselor was watching me.  He had this simple smile on his face, like he was happy.  I was happy too.  For a man who didn't say much, I seemed to understand how he felt.
     I walked out of the lake and he put his arms around me.  He held me for a few minutes and it felt like heaven.  I could stay a million years in his arms.
     “I love you,” he said and he kissed me.
     I literally felt like I was floating.  Not just because he picked me up off the ground and twirled me around, but because his words felt like magic.  His passion surprised me, but when he put me down, I didn’t say those three words back to him.  I'd said those words another time to another man when I knew it wasn't right.  Later, I regretted it.  With the counselor, everything was happening so fast.  He was so absolute, but I needed more time to understand how I felt.  It’s not that I felt pressure; I just didn’t want to say anything that would later hurt him.  I found him too precious.  Now it was I who had to be calculated in how I felt
     On the walk back to the car, I was deep in thought.  Was this love?  Was this how it happened; so unexpectedly with some you never thought was the one until one moment it became crystal clear?  The counselor pulled a black plastic bag out of his back pack and picked up trash along the trail, something he’d been doing for years on mountain hikes.  His character continued to pull me out of my thoughts and into what an amazing person he was. 
     That night after we got cleaned up, the counselor took me to dinner at Gainey Ranch, a resort in Scottsdale.  The hotel had live Spanish guitar music and a gondola ride in a canal near the restaurant.  After we ate, we sat in a huge lounge chair by the fire pit.  I leaned into his chest and heard the beating of his strong heart and that’s when I knew.  Of course I loved him.  How did this catch me by surprise?  He was my best friend and I trusted him with my feelings more then anyone.  
I turned my head slightly to say something and he bent down to kiss my check.
    “I” I whispered.
     “Hi,” he said, thinking I said "hi" instead of "I".
     I laughed a little, when I thought I’d try again.
     “I love you too,” I said back to him and he held me closer.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

When it's cold out

When it's cold out and I turn on some music and the little kids feel like dancing.
(Eden in her $1.00 day tuto and ballerina leotard from Goodwill.)
I pull out a bag of balloons and it turns into a party.
Sadly, all Christmas trees must come down, but these cute photos I hung up on the tree with clothes pins are staying out.  
I'm going to make some ribbon lines across my walls and keep them out all year long.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Favorite $12.99 Dresser

I have many favorite things like date night with my honey
(sweater I'm wearing is Anthropologie's Pilcro and the Letterpress.  I paid $4.99 courtesy Goodwill)
and watching my boys get dressed up for a Phoenix Suns event. The counselor sets a pretty high standard for team apparel, but not to worry; his socks did not have a Phoenix Suns logo on them.
Another favorite of mine is finding a beautiful Drexel cabinet for $12.99 at the thrift store.
It’s old and beat up, but with a little face paint it ends up looking like this.
Here she is at Qcumberz, priced to sell.
Linking up to:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Dear Lucy - A Manuscript Complete

Writing a book is an amazing experience.
It is amazing and horrible and full of hope and depressing. 
It’s therapy and creativity folded into sleepless nights staring at a computer screen.
It’s research and writer’s block with inspiration and self-discovery.
And I love it!
When I finished writing The Memory Catcher, I thought how great it would be to write a young adult book with a prebirth experience.  A prebirth experience is magical in so many ways and I wanted to honor what such an experience could create.
A few nights later I had a dream about a girl and a book and Martin Luther. 
Yeah, random.
I had heard of Martin Luther, but knew very few facts about him.
I started doing research and felt the warm promptings of the spirit that I was on the right course.  Martin Luther was an incredibly spiritual and learned man who dared to stand up for what he believed in.  If I wanted to understand Martin Luther more, I needed to research the Bible and ways of the 16th century.  I also needed to understand the control the church had over the people.
So, what about this girl in my dreams? 
Did I find her?
I am a very visual person and found these painting inspiring. 

Well, since I write fiction, I took a little leniency with historical facts and used my imagination.  This girl was a reader in a time when reading was outlawed.
I started writing and after six months and a completed manuscript, this is my hook:

In 16th century Germany tyranny reins, reading is outlawed and the church has control over an oppressed people.  However, there is a girl who holds the power to change everything; she just doesn’t know it.  Sixteen year-old Lucy Porter has spent her life in hiding with a nervous mother who teaches from a book of strange markings and words of prophets from long ago.  When her mother is imprisoned for witchcraft, Lucy is kidnapped and taken into the black forest.  Luckily, she is able to bury the book of history before her capture.
As the German Army, a band of gypsies and a man named Martin Luther seek for Lucy’s death; the lessons of her mother come alive. Lucy must figure out how the power of one book can set her and her country free.

Last week, my brother Tadd invited my family to a natural reserve in Gilbert.  While there, my children and nieces and nephews discovered this little tucked-away cove of cat willows and we played and played.  We picked flowers and spread out cattail feathers as clouds of beds.  I felt so close to Lucy.  She was all I could think about and my sister-in-law Heather took some photos.

So once again, I am all consumed with a fictional character in my mind who I love so much and would do anything for.  Lucy is inspiring and flawed and incredibly brave (plus there's a romance that keeps my heart thumping!)  Did I mention how much I love writing YA fiction?  Alas, My Dear Lucy, a story I saw in my dreams before I ever started writing it is complete.  There are actually three prebirth experiences in the character-driven fast-paced novel, but you'll have to read it to find out how heaven helped earth during this turbulent time.  Let’s hope my publisher likes it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Living Room Make-Over

I thought I'd kick the year off with a room reveal and a resolution to be a better blogger!  With my new iphone I should be able to take more pictures of my projects (one of the big reasons I haven't been blogging is that I forget to take pictures- the items are purchased, made over and sold before I realize I never documented a single thing) I have lots of shows coming up in the next few months and a project list that goes on and on, so here we go... I recently finished another living room make-over for a dear friend and client of mine.  Here's the before picture...

Very dark and dated!  

Our fist task was to remove the dark wall and change up the placement of the furniture.  There was a huge armoire that blocked the room from the entrance way- which created a very closed off dark space.  Here's the after...

Let's take a look at a few of the details...

We had the existing wing chair slipcovered as well as one purchased from craigslist in a beautiful camel colored channel.  Dated sheers were replaced with wood shutters and this gorgeous drop leaf table was just sitting in my clients spare bedroom.  

This is the armoire that previously blocked half of  the entrance into the room.  Now it has its' own wall and makes a great statement.

This amazing designer sleeper sofa and pine chest were found by my client on craigslist.  The artwork was a dull piece purchased at Home Goods- Until my client, who is an artist, revamped it with bold colors- so mad I don't have a before pic!  Pillows are from pottery barn.
My client has lived and traveled all over the World.  This corner represents some of the art she's collected as well as a beautiful rug from Iraq.  Hanging rugs on the wall is very European and a favorite decorating tradition of my client.

 Many of the accessories and accent items are family pieces that have wonderful memories for my client- I love how we can pair them with a simple drip vase lamp from Kirklands and it ties the room together.

I love the warm,  inviting feel of the new living room.  Hope you enjoyed the tour.  Love, Kelly.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


A few days ago, I was listening to my boys resolve a dispute.
Generally speaking, this is what I got out of the conversation.
“I was going to do that,” one of them said.
“Well, I wanted to do it this way,” another replied.
(voices intensify)
“My way’s better.”
“I had the idea first.”
For better or for worse. 
I believe Fraud called it ego.
A word with only one letter that means the entire universe to the person it belongs to.

Needless to say, I was frustrated because I wanted each child to see the others perspective.
This didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped and I started wondering what can I do to help them.

I am a deep thinker.  I blame this trait on my Ph.D psychologist father who leads the way in deep thinking.  Sometimes my contemplative personality serves me well, other times not so much.  For example, when I saw Les Mes I didn’t sleep for the two nights following.  I reflected much thought on the lyrics and portrayals of each character. I sang the songs over and over again in my mind.  I memorized the characters names and contemplated the symbolism in their personal struggles.  What did their lives teach me?  How could I change?  Finally, a trip to the nature store and some herbal melatonin helped me get through that experience, but needless to day; I am a reflector. 

With each of my individual child I interrupt who they are with much energy.  I reflect on their talents and gifts; their shortcomings and struggles and watch how they view themselves and react to the world.  I realize more and more their outlook on life is patterned very much on how I look at myself and the world.
Isn’t it fascinating and wonderful how parenting teaches you so much about your own weaknesses.
Time for some internal soul searching, but not in the typical sense.

Not in the I.
Not in the what can I get out of this.
How will this benefit me.

Because as a mother, I (there’s that word again) want for my children optimism and opportunity and love.  I want them to feel and search and achieve. 

Sometimes I forget they are just kids.  I try to remember what I was like at age 10 or age 7.  Remembering how much I missed my mom when I had my first sleep over or how upset I was when my favorite cereal was gone by the time I sat down for breakfast or how often I lost my little white church socks with the lace tops; these memories help me be more patience.  Still, I know I can do better.

Spiritually, I think the dilemma of looking at the world without our on self-interests front at heart is what we are to over come.  The natural man is self-centered and God knows this. 
The “I is what might make us think we look fat in our jeans when somewhere else a woman watches as her children starve to death.

The “I” is what causes us to feel overwhelmed because we have so much to do before Christmas when somewhere else another is in a hospital bed dying of cancer.

How often we forget the world is not about us.
Maybe that’s why God calls us His children, because we behave in such childish ways.

I remember an experience I had on my mission.  I served in Salt Lake City, Utah on Temple Square; 10 acres of manicured ground with abundant history and spiritual conquest.  I was one of 160 sister-missionary tour guides to the roughly 6 million visitors who visited each year. 
For community service, I was assigned two-hours each week to teach English to immigrants on Welfare Square.  This was so much fun and rewarding to help in a way that change people’s lives.  One day after class, I walked into the women’s restroom.  In the back of the room in the last stall, a woman lay on the cold gray tile.  She looked dead.  I opened the bathroom door and yelled into the hallway for help.  I ran to the stall, but it was locked.  I dropped to the ground and crawled under the partition, sliding to where the woman lay.  She was unconscious and had blood coming from her ear.  Her dirty, tattered clothing and unpleasant body odor lead me to believe she was homeless.  She was a woman forgotten and I started to cry. 

Someone came in and I shouted to call 911. 

I knew not to move a person who is injured.  She was curled up and I lied on the floor with my arms carefully wrapped around her.  Her head was by the toilet.  I whispered into her ear everything would be alright.  For several moments, I was alone with the woman and in my entire mission experience; I’ve never felt closer to God.

I ran my fingers gently through her hair and offered words of comfort.  I prayed and literally felt the Savior join us on that dirty bathroom floor. At one point, I turned to my side, expecting to see Him there.  

The paramedics arrived and I sat up to unlock the stall door.  “We’ll take care of it from here,” one of them said.  “Can I go with her to the hospital,” I asked.  I never got an answer.  I never knew what happened to her, but for that short amount of time, the world was not about me.  It was about her and Him.  I cried when they wheeled her away.  

As a mother, I want to teach my children to see outside themselves.  
My New Year’s resolution is to try to step away a little bit each day from the “I” and focus more on others.  Example is a great teacher, but I realize I can’t do it alone.  I need God’s intervention.  
He allowed me to find that woman and to feel her pain.  He gave me the gift of those few tender moments to contemplate her suffering.  It was through his grace I was allowed into the intimate space of a total stranger and to feel the Savior's love for her.  
He is the great teacher and the great I AM.  How fitting to focus on His "I" instead of mine.