Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

He fills with words that will only reach the earth, he’s been warned, should they carry their weight in truth. The sweat of his pudgy finger crimps the creases he’s so carefully bent, and he pulls himself in tight, hurdling his most sincere spirit into what he must believe, is an accepting unknown…


It can be hard to remember how something began. Details fuzzy and timing, non-specific, but Elian and Luna are not spared in this way. The moment that first child disappeared is forever cut into their hearts. After all, watching someone fade is not easily forgotten. Laughing one minute and evaporating like a recalled raindrop the next, hangs heavy in the atmosphere.


At one time, this small town had been a home. Long before despair scraped its way to the core with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, they’d slept on cozy beds inside colorful houses and shrilled as they’d swung high enough for their toes to touch the moon. They’d trailed fingertips in the park fountain and sacrificed their pennies for precious wishes.


But children continued to vanish. Panic rose. Terrified mothers fictionalized mass killings and undiscovered bodies. Fathers waited with shotguns at the ready for evil that would never show its face. Paranoia and mourning became their way of life.


Time passed and slowly, the township reached a decision to understand it rather than to fight. And as they deliberated ideas, they became shamefully aware that the departed were solely the ones conceived without love. The conceptions cultivated from seeds of greed, selfishness or pride, some spawned out of lust or envy. They determined that not one of the lost had blossomed from a pure moment of tenderness.


True to human nature, they were eager to replace what was gone, to fix what was broken. They attempted to conceive through despair, but their still loveless efforts refused to bear the fruits they once had and a relentless darkness swathed their barren souls.


Now, unearthly quiet fills the creeks and crevices as Elian and Luna make their way to the fountain. Swings sway loosely in the intermittent wind, their rusty chains straining against a tongue-tied backdrop. The two make their way through the littered streets, Luna’s fingers curving around Elian’s palm, long and loose like the limbs of a weeping willow.


The park is so much smaller than when they were young. The surrounding fence halts at their shins and they now loom over the jungle gym they couldn’t quite conquer at three feet tall. Roots from the massive Oaks have thrust up through the dusty earth and turned the timeworn slide upside down. A carousel is cocked on its side, a discarded toy on a vacant nursery floor.


But, today is unlike any other time they’ve ambled this path. The waterless fountain urges them on, the air surrounding it fused with static and a vibrating hum that pulls them to it much like the tow ropes used to haul them up to the highest mountaintops. With no words, they each hear what the other is thinking. With one glance, they feel what the other is feeling. With one touch, they each want what the other is wanting.


They are one.


Elian turns and presses his lips to Luna’s forehead. They stand this way for some time, paused in the moment between what was, what is and what could be. Most had given up, some had moved on, others, simply bided their time, withering to ash between their sheets, but Luna and Elian only got stronger, looked after one another, grew together.


Built a life.


They stand at the fountain’s edge with Luna’s coattails flapping in the wind and Elian’s dark curls shifting freely over his brow. He takes her hand in his once more and they wait together while the sky begins to change. Shapes and patterns kaleidoscope into brilliant hues of azure and indigo, folding into amethysts and tangerines. They believe it to be the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen.


And it is.


Until a small white tip—the nose of a well-intentioned craft—breaks though a slit in the colorful clouds and glides gracefully, softly, silently into their hearts.


This is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen. Luna feels the stir. Elian reaches to touch the swell of colors that have drifted down from the sky to stretch across her belly.


“Welcome, little one. This is love.”









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Because I know you were sad upon finishing my post yesterday—probably like a great book you didn’t want to end, right?—I’ve decided to write a little more about this laundry detergent.


If you’re anything like me, first of all, I’m sorry. Secondly, you will have laundry room cupboards filled with potions and elixirs, powders and pastes. You will have spent oodles of dough on this brand and that, in the hopes that the next one will fulfill all of its wickedly wondrous promises. You will have hoarded all of the failed jars and bottles, believing that one day…someday…you will put them to good use. And to think some have called me a pessimist! Tsk, tsk.


My point being, this sud-up makes sense. It took me 15 minutes to make, it’s great in hot, warm or cold water and works like a charm in regular and he machines, not to mention it will last anywhere from 6 months up to a year depending how many are in your household.


Pop it directly into your top or front-loading drum and prepare to inhale an angel-infused breeze and the fresh mountain air all in one sniff. It combines the many things we go out and buy individually, bringing them together in a fresh, fragrant, fusion of squeaky bubble goodness. I spent a total of approximately $30 on ingredients and splurged $20 for the jar.


Hey, the jar is not only reusable, forever and ever, but it had a lot to live up to. Remember the tea and red satin heels? I needed a nice jar!


It is also important to note that any storage container can be used and that those Downy Unstopables are solely for scent, thus, are also an optional spend. Feel free to leave them out if you hate angels and mountains. And, needless to say, if you don’t like pretty, stuff a sock in your crafty self’s glue gun and leave it all plain Jane.


So whether you want to save money or brag about your domestic superiority, this is worth a try. Heck, if you have doubts, I hazard to propose they will all be washed away.




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Pull those strings in real tight ‘cuz I am about to take you on an adventure that might just blow your hat off.


Are you ready?


Laundry Soap.


Yes, I made my own, silly me, and I’m going to share the entire process with you, right here, right now.


Well, right after this blurb…


While I am grateful to have a laundry room, mine is not a favorite place in my home and the cause for this is probably not what you’re thinking. I don’t mind doing laundry. At times, I even find it relaxing, but my actual laundry room is kind of demotivating. It’s very small—and even that’s okay—but it is not ergonomically configured. I have to contort to get everything into my front-loader and I sport a permanent bruise on my left hip where it inevitably hits the counter top which never fails to jut intrusively into my narrow path.


The room is awkward…and it’s blue…like, early 80’s blue…including the angry countertops, so yeah, not my favorite spot to hang out. And I guess I believed that somehow making my own fresh-smelling, pretty-looking powder would transform the room into some place I might like to have a cup of tea while perusing Vogue or maybe sway to a little Van Morrison in my red satin heels.


That transformation didn’t take place of course, but the good news is, the detergent was a success! It smells divine and having that gleaming jar perched atop my obnoxious counter, peering down its nose at the evil city below is slightly inspiring.


If you like to listen to music while you cook or work on projects around the house, it may be important to note that for reasons unbeknownst to me, I chose to listen to a Songza generated playlist entitled “Mom-Jean Jams.” Okay, maybe the reasons aren’t a complete mystery. I was making my own laundry soap after all. Thankfully though, I found it less than inspiring, so may I suggest something a little less baggy and high-waisted while you toil over your own magic suds?


Anyway, without further suspense, may I present…Laundry with Love



The Ingredients

The Ingredients


(I found most things at Fred Meyer, including the storage container. I bought the chalkboard labels & scoops at Hobby Lobby and Deals)


~ Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (3lb box)

~ Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4lb box)

~ 20 Mule Team Borax (4lb box)

~ Oxi Clean (1.3 lb container X2)

~ Fels Naptha (X4 bars)

~ Downy UNSTOPABLES (X2 containers – I used the scent “Lush” which comes in the purple & black bottle and smells heavenly)

~ A food processor, blender or cheese grater

~ A large receptacle for mixing (I used a large Rubbermaid, but you may also use a simple plastic garbage bag)

~ A container to store the finished product

~ A measuring scoop


(This recipe makes approximately 2 gallons of washing powder. As you can see, it filled my one very large storage jar, plus 5 smaller ones)




~ Pour the boxes of Washing Soda, Baking Soda, Borax, Oxi Clean and Downy UNSTOPABLES into your receptacle

Two containers of LUSH Unstopables

Two containers of LUSH Unstopables

~ Cut the Fels Naptha bars into small cubes and process, blend or grate

Use an old cutting board

Use an old cutting board

Fels Naptha blended on grind setting

Fels Naptha blended on grind setting

~ Add the Fels into the powder mixture (I of course, did this the other way around because I don’t read directions. It really didn’t matter other than that the Fels is slightly sticky and would probably have been easier to blend had I added it last rather than first)

The blend

The blend

~ Put the lid on your receptacle or tie up your bag and shake like there’s no tomorrow. If using a bin you can also you use a large mixing spoon.

~ Repeat until all ingredients are evenly distributed

~ Use 2 tbsps for small loads and 3 for larger loads.


As you can see from the pictures, I got my craft on and prettied up the jars. This is optional, but if you choose not to go this route, well, what the heck is wrong with you?!

Scoop Me Up!

Laundry with Love

Laundry with Love

Fancy it up!

Fancy it up!



Gifts for everyone!

Gifts for everyone!

Okay, you are now ready to love your laundry!

**This recipe was recently found on APRONS-N-PEARLS**












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I turned 45 last Friday.


Funny thing just now—my fingers went mysteriously rogue and plunked in 24 the first time ‘round.




It’s not a marker birthday or anything. It’s not like 21 or 40, but it is half way to 90 and I’ll admit that’s been slightly mind-boggling for me. Is that even a possibility? Can you be slightly mind-boggled or is the very word itself a full-on admission of a complete and utter flabbergast?


Technically, it’s middle-aged. I’m at mid-point. I’ve officially crossed the line between what was and what will be. This half versus that half. That is, assuming I make it to 90. There’s always a chance I may not. In which case, I am more than half way through my life. How in the world did I get here?


And, what happens now?


I can remember stretching out on the sun-warmed carpet in my family room sixteen years ago and promising myself I’d publish a book by the time I turned 30. (Who hasn’t promised themselves that? I can hear you asking) I was 29 then. I didn’t make it. But in the sixteen years since, I’ve raised a family, worked and written a book, albeit terrible and unpublishable, it is a book nonetheless.


Well, I’ve had a week to unboggle and now that my head is clear, I’ve come to a place where I realize I’m not only content with my age, but overjoyed to arrive at it. This year has taught me that. I am the fortunate one. I got here. I did make it. My goals are still on the table. I get the chance to keep going. I’m lucky to wake with hope beside me. I can continue my journey with possibility.


I get to live.


And, of course, make my own laundry soap. Because I hear that’s what 45 year-olds do…





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Two years ago today…

As all good things must come to an end, I thought life with Rowan would go on forever. No, you’re not confused. You needn’t read that sentence again. It’ll still say the same thing.

You see, I’ve been known to remark once or thrice that she really must be the World’s Worst Dog. I haven’t hidden my rants or rages. My sputterings and spews have been no secret. I have openly complained and cried in frustration. I’ve fallen and forgiven for all to see. I’ve been a martyr at best.

You understand, right? I mean, she filled my life with insane and unnatural amounts of hair and stained my carpets to the brink of despair. She chewed up precious belongings and sabotaged our prized Wisteria. Her incessant howls cost us neighbors and got her ixnayed from our camping roster. She dragged garbage out over the floors and snatched lavish steaks off the barbie. Walks were harrowing horrors as she pulled and strained with all her might. She vanished when unleashed and ignored our frantic pleas for her return. Yes, without a doubt, she was the world’s worst dog.

But this week, she lay at my feet, panting and whimpering, immobilized and pained. Helpless.

And all I could remember were her ears flapping in the wind, her saucer eyes and her soppy, sweet demeanor. As my family spread out to sleep on the couches and the floor because she could no longer make the trip up to our rooms, I thought of the way she once guarded our house and made us feel safe. While we set our alarm for her 3am meds, I envisioned the way her legs splayed out to the sides as she scrambled to meet us each time we came through the door. While we hand-fed her a homemade turkey and quinoa mix with little sips of water, I wished for the once annoying click of her nails on the wooden floor. And as we changed out the cool packs soothing her collapsing neck, I swore I heard all the laughter she’d brought into our home over the last seven and a half years.

This week, she could do none of that. She simply lay, gasping, blinking, scared and scarred and I realized what I must’ve known all along. She wasn’t the world’s worst dog. She’d be my family’s best memory.

Rowan aka: Ro, Rowey, Rosa and The Ro Show January 23, 2006 ~ August 22, 2013

Rowan aka: Ro, Rowey, Rosa and The Ro Show January 23, 2006 ~ August 22, 2013

Note: Rowan was taken from us by an inoperable case of Intervertebral Disc Disease

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Hayley Mills

Hayley Mills


I was almost a Heidi. However, some distant cousin, thrice removed, whom I haven’t seen since I was six and was not actually related to at the end of the day anyway, was born mere weeks before me and snagged the name first.


Who’da thunk?


So my mother figured calling me after her favorite teen actress was a much better idea and I ended up a Hayley instead. And because we are of that befuddled British bunch, that name was never used. I have been called by my middle name my entire life. Yes, right from the get-go. A name my parents thought they’d made up. My dad’s name with an a on the end, Alana. (Rhymes with Savannah, never to be confused with banana) And really, there was not one other Alana to be found in my early years; I’ll give them that. In fact, I didn’t meet another Alana until I was fourteen, which in child years, is an entire lifetime.


Not to offend all the Heidi’s of the world—it’s a lovely name—but I’m glad I’m not one of them. A name not only states who you are, it shapes who you become and I am who I am because I had to repeat my name several times when meeting someone new, because I had to enunciate it slowly and clearly over and over—painful for a shy young girl, and because I was made fun of by kids who feared all things new and foreign. I’ve evolved and strengthened a certain way because I wasn’t one of the five Lisa’s in the class, just as the Lisa’s are who they are, in part, because they’ve had to vie for their individual identity at every turn.


Branding someone is a hefty task. One loaded with potential and possibility. Obviously, we’re given our names at birth, sometimes even before, and rarely do we get to pick them. In combination with many things throughout life, we are kneaded with the experiences and interactions we have because of our names.


This is why they often bring me to a halt. I’ll be plodding along; engrossed in creating an opening scene, and…urrrrch…I need a name. It sometimes stops me for hours. I have even been known to write short stories in such a way that I don’t need to name anybody. Not a single character. Sometimes it’s a copout; sometimes it just works well with the tone of what I’m writing.


So you can imagine I had an agonizing time creating the name for my blog. Looking back on my “brainstorm list” now is embarrassing. At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to write about—ahem, we don’t need to note that not much has changed—so picking a name for it was, needless to say, challenging. I’m a Make-up Artist by trade and beauty blogs are extremely popular, but I figured out early on that I didn’t really want to start off writing about beauty, or, be pigeon-holed to just that one topic at the very least. In the end, Hazy Shades of Me was born from a combination of my indecisiveness, much play on the metaphorical and cosmetic connotations of shades and shadows, my desire to be as uncommitted to one subject as I possibly could and, of course, my long-lost first name.


Maybe you pick names that have a meaning? To you? Or to your character? Or your subject or story? Perhaps your storyline determines your decisions? Do you decide fate before their birth or after? Maybe they tell you who they are, or do they mold to the names you chose for them? Have you ever changed a subject’s name mid-way through?


By some miracle, I have never, ever, had one pang of regret for the decisions I’ve made in naming things that cannot be changed—my children, my pets or my blog. Someone clearly has my back in that department, for which I am eternally grateful.


As a writer, I know there are many different answers to the questions I’m asking and that they will even vary coming from the same person, depending on which story or topic they’re writing or referencing.


I’m curious. How do you name the important things in your world?

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Like Julie Powell to Julia Child, I am going to ride the coattails of Donna Tartt off into the wordy, smooth posting of a flighty blog entry. After all, when you can’t write yourself, writing about what someone else has written is, well, material. She’ll understand—we’re BFF’s after all.


Truth be told, there was no decision on my part to join a Book Club. I was dragged by the neck, warned there would be much wine-drinking and minimal book-talking and that I’d just have to suffer through because I simply had less than no choice in the matter.


And I’ll admit that I didn’t decline their multiple demands, err, invitations too loudly, for any more than six months, because, to be honest, I was in need of a reminder that reading is not a device designed to torture me for my failure to produce anything of substance.


Or, just anything.


At all.


And because I’d forgotten that reading can be done for the simple fact that it brings immense pleasure. Because I’d lost sight of the light it spreads and the inspirational notion that anything, whether observing or creating a world of fiction, is possible.


Infinite anythings.


How could I have forgotten?


Not to fret. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt brought it all back.


I don’t review books. I have trouble being that presumptuous. But I do like to share things I learn from, things that entice me to reach for more, things that make me entertain possibility—things that make me forget how envious I am, long enough to merely bask in their bewitchment. This book was that. Bound by incredibly long sentences and crisp with incomplete fragments, it proves that just because Word underlines it in red, you don’t have to correct it. Full of undisguised emotion and weighty character, words I had to look up and succinct sentiment. I nearly phoned Ms. Tartt to ask if she has ever actually been a thirteen-year-old boy at any point in her lifetime.


It was a truly gratifying read, but my reasons may differ from yours. I was seeking to be both grounded and lifted. Shaken and stirred. Simultaneously tamed and teased. Oh, and I needed something to not discuss at Book Club.


It took Donna Tartt eleven years to write The Goldfinch. I’ve got at least that left in me, wouldn’t you say?

Donna Tartt in her Paris hotel room, promoting her book , The Goldfinch (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)

Donna Tartt in a Paris hotel room, promoting her book, The Goldfinch (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)





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