my life: 2012 . . .

. . . a kind of 'year in review' for me using animoto to pull it all together into a video slide show.
The direct link: http://animoto.com/play/1uQ4ErIrUlNK9P8pQPl1wg


for a full-size screen, click on the small white rectangle in the bottom right corner!

A photo of me *by debra pettinato-ross* on Siesta Beach on Christmas day!

I have not returned to blogging here on a regular basis yet, as you might have noticed!
I wanted to suggest if you missed my posts here, you can find me on blipfoto almost every day. Blipfoto is an international photo journal site. You can look at my journal here. The idea is to post one photo a day taken on that day and then write about it, if you wish. Since my main creative activity recently is taking photographs, I have gravitated towards sharing them there . . . instead of here, at least for now! You can sign up for a free blipfoto account and be able to comment, or just visit and read as often as you wish. Not much art is going on here yet as my supplies are only minimally unpacked. I think that should change in the not so distant future but there is a lot going on here at our new home (work to beautify) and I am allowing my art studio to unfold in it's own natural time. 

* I wish only the best for you and your families * I hope you are happy, healthy and doing well * Smiling and laughing and creating! *

My very best to you and yours 
xo lenna


The greatest honor of a lifetime is to be who you are.
~ paraphrased from Joseph Campbell


creativity bubbling: a video/art spaces


Last weekend Steven said, "I'm coming to get you at 4pm at take you out on the river in Chelsea." I was pleased; he was arranging a date! Chelsea is the boat that we bought from Lucas Boatworks about a year ago. It was hand built by Dave Lucas and Howard Heimbrock. Chelsea is an unusual boat because it is powered by a Briggs and Stratton riding lawn mower engine (!) and looks a bit like the "African Queen" with the canopy top. I took a short video and a bunch of photos while out in the boat with Steven and our 2 dogs, Asia & Chloe. I remembered about the video yesterday and enjoyed putting it together with a few photos and some music ~I'm learning! But I think it came out good -most importantly, Steven loves it! If you do not see it below, here's a direct link. Only 2 minutes long and a lovely boat ride. Won't you join me?


Asia & Chloe having a chat?
So that felt very good to be creative making that short video. Then today, I started moving things around in my office/studio space and on my lanai (porch) studio space. Cool! I was happy to be finally interested in trying to figure out how to arrange things related to my art so I can get back to that. I moved a green plastic set of drawers full of interesting fabric & goodies, out of the garage and under my work table on the lanai. Then I thought, why not move those two plastic towers filled with rubber stamps out to the lanai as well? They did not feel like they were working well space-wise in my office/studio, so why not? Here's what I've come up with so far . . .

It is comforting to me because the green drawers were in the same place in my old studio. The strange boat you see there is a barge that has been brought in to build our dock!

The drawers of rubber stamps will work so much better out here where my big work table is, probably where they will be used the most. They were behind the big box on the floor in the photo below. They were pushed right up against the wall in my very messy and unpacked studio. These drawers kind of blocked the flow of things and I am happy I got the idea to put them out on the lanai with my table instead. All of this makes me think about unpacking the "studio" boxes in the garage and finding a home for things in my new space!


Please excuse the mess! I have a smaller inside studio now, but with the addition of the work space out on the lanai, I think eventually I will have a very workable and quite pleasing arrangement. I will keep you posted as things progress.


I'll get there!! wow, here is an apropos quote:

Conditions are never just right. People who delay action until all factors are favorable do nothing.
~ William Feather


taking care of me

At DeSoto memorial National park, the walking is good . . . . 
I'm heading back to NW Bradenton today for an appointment and have decided to walk at DeSoto Memorial National Park afterwards. If I don't go to Nia class, I will walk a few miles to keep the calories burning and my metabolism good. In about 3 weeks I've lost 4 pounds, which is good! Being brave, I added the widget for the fitness app I am using to the sidebar, here on my blog. It will sync with the check-ins I do for my weight on the site. I've been eating a lot less than before - 1200 calories and rarely drinking wine. But it is really going okay. There are conflicting reports about drinking wine or not with fatty liver disease, so I am mostly avoiding wine. I used to enjoy a couple of glasses each evening. My disease is not alcohol related, but the inflammation can be aggravated by it. Not having any saves a lot of calories too!


I do walk around the neighborhood, but DeSoto park is beautiful.


I love that part of the walk goes along the shore. I am fascinated with it. 
But the woodland paths are interesting too . . .

look who I found last time! 


I wonder what I will find there today? 



There is no wilderness like a life without friends; friendship multiplies blessings and minimizes misfortunes; it is a unique remedy against adversity, and it soothes the soul.

  ~ Baltasar Gracian


hello . . .

Lenna & Kathy Oravec at Nia on Siesta beach - December 4, 2012


To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
  ~ Bertrand Russell

If you think you can do a thing, or think you can't do a thing, you're right.
  ~ Henry Ford

Above are two quotes pulled randomly from a document on my computer, that contains all of the quotes I've collected because I love them. 15 years ago, my son Decklin created a program for me that randomly selects a quote I can add to my email signature or anywhere else. With a click of the mouse, a quote is chosen randomly from a very large list and copied to the clipboard, ready to be pasted anywhere. I love this program and still use it! So often the chosen quote matches my current thoughts or state of mind; it’s quite uncanny.

I wish to say I am sorry for my leave of absence from my blog. It has been a while since I have had so little to share with you! I think most of you know I have recently moved house and that has been the main culprit. We have been here in our new home 4 weeks now, which seems incredible.

I have not begun to unpack and organize my studio – I only continue to put this job off. A lot of other things are going on and so doing this was another decision making process that I did not feel I had the energy to face. And it still remains undone! Instead, my creative outlet recently has been my photography. Lately I have been working hard on catching up with the uploading of my photos and you can find them here on Blipfoto where I keep a daily photo journal, and also on flickr.

Since I like to use this blog to mostly share my art making process, I have not had anything to share with you! I do know I will make art, work in journals and create with paper & fabric again, but I am not at that place yet. We are doing a large amount of landscaping with the help of many talented people and that takes a lot of time. I am very seriously working on my health issues by exercising daily and sticking to around 1200 calories a day – fresh, wholesome, mostly vegan foods. I found out recently I have a chronic liver disease (fat cells in my liver) that can be reversed by losing the extra weight I have been carrying. I have lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks and while that is slow, I think it is good. Only 28 more to go!

So, do not fear! I will return with my art when I get things organized here. In the meantime, I will check in when I can but you can almost always find me on Blipfoto. The weather is beautiful here in Florida now and I am still dancing in Nia class as you can see by the photo above. All is well and I truly hope the same for you. 

xo lenna

wonderful card and mail art envelope!

My friend Joanna who lives in the UK, sent a wonderful card and mail art envelope to us celebrating our recent move to a new home on the river. Her card and envelope are just so lovely, I wanted to share them with you. My own art stuff is still in boxes . . . so I thought you would enjoy this gift we received from Jo. : )

Below, a photo of Joanna taken for an Art House Co-op project we were both in together called, The Meal. I love this photo of her and Rosie Mae! It helps me to imagine her "across the pond".


This was so beautiful to find in my mailbox . . . I was grinning!


I just love this envelope and the card!  xoxo


Wow. Then look at the back of the envelope, bellow! 
Joanna knows I love quotes and this one is just perfect for Steven 
and all the canoeing he is doing these days. ; ^ )


Thank you Joanna! Please go say hi to her on her blog, Fiddlesnips.


"Live with intention.  Walk to the edge.  Listen hard.  Practice wellness.  Play with abandon.  Laugh.  Choose with no regret.  Continue to learn.  Appreciate your friends.  Do what you love.  Live as if this is all there is."  -Mary Anne Hershey

creative woodworking

creative woodworking

My husband Steven met Paul Anderson through Lucas Boatworks. After discovering a similar interest in woodworking, Steven gave Paul some of the very nice, harvested wood that was my dad's -some cherry and bird's eye maple. There is truly more wood stacked up than Steven can use! Paul is a very prolific and accomplished woodworker; past president of the Florida West Coast Woodworkers Club . . . 

Read More

thank you

Thanks to everyone for the many messages of good luck and happiness in our new home, but I really must send a special thanks out to Jewels and Frieda for brightening my new mailbox with these lovelies:


(smile) Thank YoU!

Things are coming along at our new home, slow but sure. It is a beautiful spot so it makes the work worth it, but still, it is so much work to pack and unpack! I will get there, and do enjoy seeing things take shape. In the meantime even though my studio is not set up yet and I have to work on that, I am starting to think about creative art projects. The furniture is arranged, kitchen and bathrooms set up, the clothes, sheets & towels are in place too and now I am starting to think of other more arty things. A friend of mine mentioned the Ning Group The Creative Underground and an online year long class offered through them called: 52 weeks of creative abundance. It did not take me long to decide to sign up! Class starts December 21st and is very reasonably priced, with a discount through Nov. 21st (only $52!!). Go check it out and see if it's for you! I am so looking forward to it. 


It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
  ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

our new neighborhood

We took our first walk around the neighborhood since we moved, today. Our new home is much more in the 'country' with miles of fences to keep animals like horses in.


This neighborhood has a Ranch-like feel, very much . . .

We enjoyed the nice sidewalk, safe off the road . . . me & my sweeties, Asia & Chloe.

What?? This is not a horse! 


This llama came right up to the edge of the fence to meet us. Chloe even growled as we quickly walked past! Chloe was definitely really not sure about this llama, who seemed sweet to me . . although I did not get too close either! 

Another photo of our llama friend is found on my blip journal, here.

Do you see Asia ^ here still staring at the llama? : ) Chloe seems to have gotten over the encounter by now . . . this was a good first walk, about 2 miles, with just one small blister on my heel from wearing sneakers instead of my usual crocs!

Thanks for coming along with us . . . . we are making our way and slowly getting resettled. I am concentrating on the kitchen first, my clothes next, and then my studio!!!!! OH! My actual studio space is too small for my big art table so now it is out on the lanai -a screened porch, very large. It overlooks the water and is so grand! More photos as things come together  : )


Happiness is good health and a bad memory.
  ~ Ingrid Bergman

we have moved!

Steven, Asia & Chloe 
paddling home from Lucas Boatworks to our new home on the Braden River.
Steven is using one of the gorgeous paddles he made at Lucas Boatworks : )

we are tired, happy, unpacking tons of boxes, and settling in! 
xo lenna


If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.
  ~ Katharine Hepburn

still here . . .

Even though I am still packing boxes (not done yet) and helping steven hand-carry over a number of odd shaped things, I find myself still here taking some photos. Thus, the new blog header I put together using Photoshop, Picasa and Picnik (through Picasa). Kind of silly, but not really I guess! I still have that an urge to do SOMETHING creative and my studio is completely packed up!!!!!!! This is hard to believe but true. The contents of my desk are the only things in my studio, that have not been packed and will soon be. The printer and scanner are still here, but we will hand carry those over closer to Moving Day. Yesterday Steven moved the studio cabinets over . . .



we are very lucky to have this luxury of moving in a bit at a time.


Chloe investigating the back yard . . . .

This will be a lovely home for us. Thanks for visiting, I'll stop in as I can. One week till we move!
I hope you are safe tonight, thinking of my family & friends in the Northeast. Love, lenna



If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.
 ~ Marc Chagall


1000 posts!

I can't believe it! This post marks 1000 posts I have written here since December 8th, 2006. yikes! I did not know that was true until I decided to write a short note to tell you that I would be taking a blog break for a while . . . but if you are a regular reader, I bet you guessed that already. I just finished my Nia white belt training last friday and if you have not been here since then, I changed the main photo of the blog to reflect that -check it out here if you are reading via a feed. The Nia White belt training was intense: long days for an entire week, but very well worth it. I learned a lot and have also signed up for the Nia Green belt training held in Sarasota in February. (That tells you something!!) The Green Belt is an optional training based on embodying the skills to teach Nia. : ) In the meantime, I am PACKING! Boxes and boxes. You would think I would be used to this by now, but no I am not - I am slugging through it all. I do think though, that Steven and I have found our home. One that is really for us, on a canal off the Braden River. Not too far from my mom, either. Our moving date is November 6th - So, I am signing off for a while. Thank you for visiting and for all your comments these past six years!!!!!!!!!!

On tuesday I went to Siesta Key beach for Nia class and took this amazing photo . . .


At least it was amazing to me!! Click on it to view larger. I hope you enjoy and I'll catch you on the other side : ) sending love to you and yours, lenna 

Elbow grease is the best polish.
  ~ English proverb





Nia Training

Nia is a cardiovascular sensory based movement practice that leads to health, wellness and fitness. Nia empowers people of all ages by connecting the body, mind and spirit to increase flexibility, agility, mobility, stability and strength. 


This week I am participating in the Nia White Belt Intensive Training!


My classmates, Pam, Dawn & Irene:


 My trainers, Charlotte & Gail:


The Nia Retreat Center on Anna maria island, FL:


There are more trainings scheduled for February, April & October 2013! Go to NiaNow.com for the details or to find one near you! We are learning the 13 principles of Nia and dancing everyday. Long days, but much learned. I have not done this much creative movement in a long time! I must go to bed now and recover . . . there are 2 more full days and one half day, with graduation on Friday :  )



Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion. 
   ~ Martha Graham 


kayak train

what is a kayak train? That is when you tie a number of kayaks together bow to stern with ropes and have someone ie: my husband, affectionately known around Lucas Boatworks as Crazy Steve, pull the kayaks down the river and back! Here we are yesterday . . .


Dave Lucas says, "We have the record well in hand for the International Briggs and Stratton powered old timey African Queen type boats towing a string of kayaks and canoes award." He is referring to our boat Chelsea, that pulled the kayaks. Yes, it has a lawn mower Briggs & Stratton engine and was hand built at Lucas Boatworks. You can see me sitting in it below as we are readying to tie the kayaks to the boat and take off down the river.



That is our friend Red Sears relaxing in the front, he was the first kayak behind Chelsea. Steven moved the boat up in front of him when it was time to go. As you see the kayaks stretching around the corner . . . there were 28 boats in all. we think it's a world's record kayak train!

More from Dave Lucas: It was a great day and something we'll talk about for a while. Ernie and Donna were in Beauty Berry the safety boat and had to rescue two fallouts on the way back home, I think the beer may have gotten to them. This doesn't need much comment except how we got this long train hooked up and off the beach. You'll see in some of the early pictures a guy walking out across the lagoon; that's me. I started with the first boat and started walking out into the wind and as they came off the beach the next one was tied on. It worked very well, the line was pretty easy to pull. We figure that this train of boats was about 750 feet long. I made it out to the sand bar where I tied on to Chelsea with Steve and Lenna and the dogs inside. I waited on the bar for my kayak to come by; some of the gang gave me beers for my effort.

Simon Lew took a video! He was closer near the back of the kayak train and had a totally different view than I did in the boat pulling all the kayaks. The direct link to the video in case you do not see it embedded is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu7-aH_3RLA. He has speeded it up a bit and added music so it's quite fun.



Here is what my husband wrote about it: Prior to this trip Dave and company had a total of 17 boats towed by Chelsea (which Lenna and I own now). This record breaking trip was planned by Dave and we had no idea how many people would show up on Saturday morning. We spent Friday cleaning all the available kayaks and canoes at Lucas Boatworks, which was about 21 boats including three of my canoes. On Saturday morning we got people showing up from hours away and many brought their own boats. The tide was supposed to be high and a half foot over normal by noon but at 10:30am it was still kinda low. This was because we had a 15 to 20 knot north wind and wind can make a big difference on tides around the Tampa Bay area. We decided to launch anyway, though. Logistics was a big problem – how to get 29 people in 28 boats and keep it all under control. In normal non-windy conditions it wouldn't have been a problem but I couldn't keep Chelsea pointed in the right direction while they were tying boats on and that’s when Dave decided to just drag the sting of boats across the bay. He’s a genius – it worked really well. Once we were tied on and moving the plan was to drag all the boats right past Dave and he'd hop into his from the shallow sand bar, but the boats weren't behaving like we've been used to in the past. With only a dozen boats behind Chelsea they follow the leader perfectly and the Chelsea pilot can make incredibly sharp turns and the kayaks follow the same path – not cutting the corner at all. But with 28 kayaks the first 10 boats got dragged whichever direction Chelsea steered. Dave was able to get into his boat OK but I realized (as the Chelsea pilot) that we had a problem. The original plan was to go all the way down the Braden River to the Rt. 64 bridge, then turn and come up the other channel through some really cool mangrove channels. It was obvious to me we wouldn't be able to make the turns without dragging people through mangrove branches. Also, with 28 kayaks towing Chelsea at full throttle could only pull them at about 1 knot. The original trip plan was 3 miles down and 3 miles back so that would take about 7 days. After going about 1 mile down river I did a turn back at the widest part of the river and 2 people tipped over just after the turn. I had to slow down to let them try to get back into their boats and the wind pushed the train into the mangroves. We got it all straightened out but it was slightly hairy for a bit. Also, during the turn you can see that we totally blocked the entire river. One boat was coming down river but thank god the operator was experienced and not drunk and he stopped way far away from us. Dave calls me Crazy Steve but he’s the crazy person that comes up with this stuff. Very fun day though.

Probably more than you ever needed to know about a kayak train, but . . .  it was unusual and fun and a little scary being in the boat pulling everyone! I just had to document it even though I am really tired and have to get to bed! One more thing, if you are interested, I have some still photos up here in a flickr album that give a more close up look. Enjoy! This kayak train was really just for fun, like a boat "messabout" that Lucas Boatworks often organizes.

Nia training is good, but lots of movement and learning and the days are from 8-6:30. I am not used to that! more on that later, take care, lenna

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
   ~ Amelia Earhart

creative play: it's good for you!

I hosted a prayer flag swap recently, see the results here. It turned out to be a really fun swap, more than I anticipated when organizing it. Many of the participants found they so enjoyed working on these easy to make small flags, creating them with prayers, wishes and good thoughts in mind. There was a huge variety of flags which you can see if you follow the link above. A lot of us said, "I think I am addicted to making  these!"  When Jan Smith added a link to her photos on her blog, she wrote: I'm still addicted to making them...so if anyone out there fancies swapping a shabby style prayer flag (1 to 1 swap) I would love to hear from you.....

So guess who wrote back to her? That's right, me! I figured I would need a break from that tedious job of packing, so I went ahead and agreed to a trade. I knew Jan loved "shabby chic", so I took some fabric I had found and plunged in. These flags are small, around 5" x 8" - so it didn't take long and was a treat for me after a morning of squishing things into boxes and going through oodles of packing tape. While packing up some of my fabric I found a really old piece of cotton print that I made something out of 20 or 25 years ago!!! I also purposely chose one of my grandmother's old linen pieces with cherries on it, very small in size -not sure what it was used for, some type of napkin? I also chose a lace doily & trim for a shabby look. If you click on this first photo, you can view them all in the lightbox . . . . I made 2 layers for this flag, one muslin and one the old cotton print and only sewed them together at the top so they could move freely.


I sewed the doily on only via 1 straight line in the middle so it would flop over.
There is my Nonie's 'cherry' linen piece layered under.


I added a quote printed on fabric (found while packing) for my thoughts 
or wishes . . . and some cotton lace across the bottom



I also cut the floral print so it would be fringed


On the back I sewed a business card


Here it is -Voila! 


I sent this to Jan today . . . it is traveling to the UK so it will take a week or two if we are lucky and she is sending one to me today as well, what fun! My received prayer flags are shown via the link - wow, so many of them! Everyone was so generous and I received many flags as gifts. They stayed up outside for about 2 weeks and are now packed in a box to be brought to our new home.

New home? Yes, our closing is tomorrow morning!!!!!!!! We will move in about 3 weeks to a home on a canal right off the Braden River, and we have decided to rent our current home. I have Nia White Belt Training starting on Saturday that runs long days for a full week. We (mostly Steven!) have some things to do in the new home like painting the kitchen (cabinets too) and all the windows being replaced with Hurricane ones . . . Steven and I have an anniversary (together 8 years) coming up October 25th we'll be celebrating in Casey Key with our boat Chelsea in tow. I still have lots of packing to do here. I really have only just begun! So, that is my story, what about you? I cannot promise to answer but I would so love to hear from you. 

Hope all is well with you & yours. 
xo lenna  

"packing up is hard to do" . . . .

"packing up is hard to do" . . . . just writing that made me think of this song.
Well, I have finally completed emptying my very large 4-drawer metal file cabinet and tossing a lot of stuff out. Then reorganizing all the folders and placing the contents into file boxes for our upcoming move, phew! We will close on a new home at the end of next week and are anticipating moving sometime in early November. I will keep you posted on when we move and I know you will understand if I am not posting here on the blog as much. I do have a personal trade or two that I hope to accomplish soon -- I still need to be creative, even if I am moving!

We now have an empty file cabinet . . .


The next thing for me is to pack up the art you see here -
On the walls and on top of the file cabinet! 



From that empty file cabinet, we now have these 3 boxes plus one more on the floor!
(and a couple of accordion fie folders)


Of course my husband teasingly suggested that I could have just moved the whole file cabinet without going through it!! Yes, he is right, but! I did toss out 2 huge garbage bags full of old unneeded papers and now I can actually go through the files easily and find whatever I'm looking for. Plus I don't want to keep this old metal file cabinet. I guess moving was the impetus I needed to do this tedious job over a number of days. I did take breaks! This afternoon I started working on the template for this blog - creative lenna (if you are reading a feed) and later my creative lenna photos blog. Doing this work is a different way of being creative for me, one that I obviously enjoy doing. If you know me at all, you know I enjoy tweaking these online sites and changing the photos I use for headers & the backgrounds. I am especially happy with the changes I made today that include recent photos I have taken myself. I switched to the "lightbox" method of showing photos, something I have held out on for a while, but I think I like it. Your comments are always welcome.

Another interesting thing about packing and sorting was that I came across a few old newspaper clippings, old emails, old poems (mine & my boys), school reports and drawings. I even found an old invitation we made for my oldest son Decklin's 9th birthday (he is now 31 years old!). These things now have their own special accordion file folder - click for details.



That was really fun and made it all worth it for me.
I hope you all are well and happy and making the most of what you've got! sending love, lenna

The most valuable of the arts is the art of living.
 ~ Cicero