Out of Practice

I can’t tell you how many times I have put down my drawing abilities or said something like “Oh, I can’t really draw.”  I want to draw.  The problem is, I get so frustrated when my hands cannot produce what I see in my head and I give up.  My confidence in that medium is nil.  “I can’t draw.”

Well, I just went through some digital photo albums that I have on my laptop and came across a few scans of my art school work, and guess what?!  I can draw!  I’m just out of practice.  I had forgotten all about these and even though they’re just incomplete studies, I feel as proud of them now as I remember being when I first pulled my charcoal covered hand away from them.  Was I the best in my class?  No.  But, was I the worst?  No.  I really didn’t care where I landed on that spectrum because I was happy with what I had produced.  I was as surprised with myself then as I am now.

Finding these was a good reminder and I’m hoping that the next time my hand gets an itch to sketch, I’ll be a little more patient and kind with myself.


There’s this movie that I saw a few months ago called HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE and in it is a scene where one of the female characters tells a story about something an Indian taxi driver told her in the rear view mirror….I’ll paraphrase.

He said, “Bliss.”  “Bliss is your birthright.  You have great potential for happiness in this life, but your problem is gratitude.  You do not give enough thanks.”  She asks him how and he says, “Simple!  Say ‘thank you’.  Say ‘thank you’ all the time and then follow that with ‘more please’.  With gratitude, the Universe is eternally abundant.”

I liked this…it was a good reminder.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who forgets to stop and be grateful from time to time.

Months go by and I occasionally remembered to say “more please” after feeling particularly grateful about something and about two weeks ago, I watched the movie again, this time with my friend Angela.

Last week as I was busily making jewelry and other pretty things, getting ready for this years Grandma Party Bazaar, I got hammered with the flu….my Friday consisted of high fevers, chills and coughing so hard that blood vessels burst around my eyes.  Fun stuff.  I was starting to think that I would have to abandon my vendor spot, but by Saturday night, I was no longer feverish and was able to do the photofinish preparations for the next day.  With the help of my wonderful husband, Mother and over-the-counter drugs, I was able to get through the day….feeling only a little bit awful.  I put on a smile, tried to be as cheerful as could be whenever someone stopped by my tent….hiding my sick as a dog, tired eyes behind sunglasses.

The most amazing thing happened that day…

Grandma Party 2012

Grandma Party 2012

Grandma Party 2012

A woman casually stopped at my tent late in the morning, looked around at what I had to offer and complimented my work.  She had a very quiet but focused energy and said that she she had visited all the vendors and my tent was her favorite.  Of course, I thanked her.  What a compliment!  She bought a scarf and a necklace and after I handed her the bag and thanked her again for her purchase, she handed me a sealed envelope and walked away.

Now….I use to wait tables and have been given A LOT of religious pamphlets as tips in the past.  Honestly, I was expecting to see the face of Jesus when I opened the envelope, but instead I saw Benjamin Franklin.  I stood there completely puzzled.  My foggy medicated brain that had a hard time earlier in the day doing simple math, was slow to process what I held in my hands.  I looked up at my husband and mother with my mouth open and furrowed brow and said “there’s money in here.”  I thumbed through the pristine bills and counted $1,000.  My voice got all choked as I told them how much was in there and my eyes teared up.

My guess is that I stood there for a full three minutes holding the envelope not knowing what to do with myself.  When I got it together, I looked for the lady, but she was long gone.  I wanted so badly to say “Thank you!”

I am so grateful for her generosity and for the vote of confidence.  I know that I like the things I make, but to hear that they are good and worthy by someone other than the people that know and love me, gave me an unexpected boost in my sense of purpose.  Occasionally, I’ve felt silly that I gave up my “normal” day job or conventional career to focus more on developing my brand and making art and admittedly felt foolish when someone would imply that it might be irresponsible or not very grown up to be a 32 year old college graduate working part-time at a cafe.  I’ve let them plant that seed of doubt in me, but then I wake up the next day with more ideas floating around in my head and an almost constant desire to be make something with my hands and I know that I’m doing the right thing.  My mystery heroine helped to crush that seed of doubt with her anonymous investment and for that, I cannot adequately thank her.

When Angela stopped by later that day and I told her about the envelope, she looked at me with huge eyes, laughed and said “THANKYOUMOREPLEASE!”

Yes.  Thank you.  More Please.

Flashback Friday :: Texas Skydiving 2009

I found this thing that I had written in May of 2009 after taking a trip to Texas for my friend’s birthday.  Sometimes I forget… “Oh yeah!  I’ve jumped out of a plane once.”  Here’s the story of how that came about.

TAKING THE PLUNGE….10,500 ft.  San Antonio, TX.  May 2009
Let me start by saying that I am not an extreme sports type of gal.  I’m really not interested in engaging in activities that might leave me toothless, render me unconscious, or break my bones…but for some reason, jumping out of an airplane at 10,500 ft., potentially going splat and consequently ending my life seemed like a fine idea.
At the beginning of May I decided that I’d like to sky dive.  To me, it’s just one of those things that I’d love to experience, but would probably have some hefty hesitation if I were a mother….or just older and wiser.  So, I made the decision to jump out of an airplane, but I thought…hmmm, baby steps…bungie jump first!
The NEXT day…Niki called to ask me if I’d come visit her for her birthday Memorial Day weekend and would I consider skydiving.  All I did was shrug my shoulders, look quizzically up and around to the Universe and say “Yes. Yes to both.” Niki squeeled with delight (which is just what The Niki does) and I booked my flight to San Antonio.  The whole “bungie jump baby steps” idea flew out the window because it was just too perfect that she called the day after I had the idea.
A couple of weeks went by and then the day before I was leaving for Texas, I was watching a cartoon called Toot & Puddle with the kids that I Nanny.  Toot & Puddle (for those not in the know) are two best friend “roommate” male pigs who love to travel.  What were Toot & Puddle going to be doing on this episodes adventure???  You guessed it…SKYDIVING.  After seeing this cartoon, I thought “there’s no way I’ll die.  The Universe WANTS me to jump out of a plane!”
Toot & Puddle Image Source
Saturday was the big day.  Niki was so excited and bouncing off the walls.  There were several of us girls jumping, so she requested that we all wear pig-tails in honor of her birthday.  My hands had been shaking since I woke up that morning.
When we arrived at Skydive San Marcos, I was feeling so nauseous and my shaking hands had amplified from a 3 to an 8 on the Richter Scale.  Then, I heard a noise…I looked up and saw a group floating down on their parachutes and I instantly felt better.  Everything calmed down inside and I knew that it was going to be okay.  We went in to register and wait for our turn to suit up. 

The Universe may have said to me…”Sure. Do it…you’ll be fine, Kiddo.  It’ll be good for you!” BUT…Mother Nature had other thoughts.  She decided to torture us with major storms…just when it was our turn. Twice. 
Day 1: Got to register, but never made it back to suit up
Day 2:  Was able to get in my suit (where I looked liked freaking Christmas)
and then…NEVERMIND!  Another storm.
So…on Memorial Day at 8:30 a.m. (after the 300 miles we drove over the weekend to get to the jump site three days in a row) we suited up, went through our 30 second training (thorough, huh!), entered the plane and got ready to jump.

Day 3:  jumping girls

I should pause here to give thanks to Mother Nature.  Had she not stopped us the first two days, I might have been a total wreck, shaking and wanting to vomit.  Instead, because of the baby steps I took each day…going a little further in the steps of preparing to jump each time…I was completely calm and fine.  I had worked all my nerves out in the two day preparation and then in the disappointment each time we had to cancel.  So when it was time for me to exit the plane, I was cool as a cucumber.
I did have a brief “Oh fuck” moment as I squatted at the opened door, but then there was the “123! ” and no turning back.  My tandem jumper and I did a flip out of the plane then a free fall for 60+ seconds….and that was the BEST PART.  You know that gross feeling (when you’re riding a roller-coaster) that all your internal organs are flying up into your throat?  I had expected that during the free fall, but didn’t get it all.  It was such a cool feeling and being able to see the grid of Texas pastures filled with cows and horses below me was really fun.
The opening of the parachutes were a jolt to the nerves.  We did some spinning tricks and then I took over on the handles of the parachute while my instructor prepared us for landing (which, scared me).  But what really scared me were the suicidal thoughts I had for a split second.  What if I just let go?  Would it be that bad if I died?  Would I be missed?  This is probable;y worth investigating sometime:-/  
My landing was a total disaster and leaving me miraculously unscathed.  I didn’t run hard enough and tripped, which sent me tumbling to the ground with a very sizable man strapped to my back.  No bruises or broken bones.
Side note…I did go up in the plane with pig-tails, but landed with a very attractive knotted bird nest on the side of my head.


That evening, I headed back home to Florida in a plane I would not be jumping out of.  It was a very fun Memorial weekend filled with old and new friends, a truly spectacular diet of chips & queso, breakfast tacos, steak and countless margarita’s, and a very amazing skydive that was well worth the wait.  xoxo, Jenna.

Blueberry Pie: gluten/dairy/egg/corn free for Food Alergies

Have I ever told you how much I love butter?  … and dairy … and eggs?  OH…and gluten too?  I do. I’m a cook and a baker who has a very sensitive palette.  I know when something is made without those wonderful ingredients that I just mentioned.  I can taste the lack of fat and calories an starchy goodness.  It’s either a gift or I’m a snob.  When I bake I go hard with all the good stuff.

Enter, Nicolle.  Nicolle has SEVERE food allergies.  Throat closing, anaphylactic shock, has flat-lined twice in her life type of food allergies.  Throughout our friendship, I have monitored the size of her throat and watched her down a bottle of Benedryl on several occasions.  I have even, in a pinch, built a barrier with my own body to prevent a spilled beer from coming in contact with her skin.  When you love someone living with the constant threat of being hospital bound, you become very vigilant and protective of them.  One day at an outdoor eatery, my girlfriends and I whipped around and grilled some women at the table behind us for the ingredients on the bottle of some sort of aerosol that they sprayed. Nicolle became worried of the slight raspberry smell.  Raspberries = Allergic.  They were quite annoyed with us and in hind-sight we were probably really intense, but when concerned, sister friends pounce.

Pot-lucks amongst friends.  Awesome, right?  Cooking for friends.  I love it!  Cooking for Nicolle?  Scary as Hell.  She always provides things she can eat at a fun gathering and if others bring something that contains either dairy, eggs, wheat, raspberries…and now corn, she comments on how beautiful it looks or smells and then stays the hell away from it.  Cross contamination is a big deal.  At our recent girlfriend get-together, I really wanted to attempt a dessert that she could enjoy along with the rest of us.  Where do you turn for delicious recipes that are Nicolle friendly???  Cooking for Food Allergies Everyday and Gourmet.  

This book was written by Nicolle’s Mom, Libby Avery.  I have never tasted a single thing that she’s made where I’ve missed the buttery/eggy/gluten goodness.  The woman is a marvel.  Below is her fantastic recipe for a stellar blueberry pie without dairy, eggs, wheat or corn(starch).

This wasn’t my prettiest pie, but the taste was beautiful.  Recipe below🙂  
Xoxo, Jenna


I used a mix by Namaste Foods that I found at Whole Paycheck.  It’s very different than working with a regular pie dough.  It’s so flaky and fell apart easily.  I had a difficult time creating a decorative top crust (which I really like to do) and was left with making a crumble top.  The bottom crust was easy to mold into my ceramic pie pan (I would recommend this…especially when using this type of dough.)  I normally eat around pie crust because, unless it’s the bomb, I’m just not a fan.  However, I really liked THIS crust and ate it all.  I might try to perfect it for future baking because it was really good.

5 cups fresh blueberries
1 large bag of frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 of a fresh lemon (depending on the sweetness of the berries)
2 tbls. tapioca starch (this stuff is awesome by the way)
2/3 to 1 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the berries) I used 2/3 c
pinch of salt
Blind bake your pie crust to the recommended temperature (I think it’s 400) for 10-12 minutes.
In a medium suce pan, add all of the fresh berries and 1/2 of the contents of the frozen.
Also add the cinnamon, nutmeg, tapioca starch, lemon juice, sugar and salt.
Heat on low to medium low, stirring occasionally until syrupy.
Turn heat to medium high or high and bring to a boil while stirring until the mixture becomes thick.  If you don’t think the mixture is thick enough, mix tapioca starch in a separate bowl with some cold water and gradually add it to the boil until desired thickness.
Remove mixture from heat and stir in remaining frozen berries and fill your blind baked crust.
If you have remaining pie dough or want to make a new batch, you can make a lattice top or any other decorative top crust.  {{{THIS DID NOT WORK FOR ME AT ALL}}}
Crumble up remaining dough with hands or in a food processor along with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.  I just eyeballed this and did a few raw dough nibbles to see if the spices were enough.  Crumble your topping over the blueberry mixture.
Bake your pie for 30-45 minutes (at same temp as your blind bake) until bubbly around the edges.  Keeping an eye on your outer crust.  If it starts to look like it’s browning too much, remove from oven and gently wrap the edges with tin foil.  This will help keep it from burning.

Breaking Plates: Uniting Survivors

Dear Featherhead Friends,

I think I may be ready to finally share with you the details of the Breaking Plates show that I wrote/produced with three other wonderful women.  It was such an intensely personal labor of love that when it was done (last month), I was done.  This really should have been written soon after the event, but sometimes you just need a little space, you know?  Anyway, allow me to tell you what Breaking Plates actually was and how it got started…
Earlier this year, Beth called for a girlfriends get-together.  She’d had an extraordinarily awful start to the year and just wanted to break some shit.  We went to her house with the sole intention of writing out our troubles, negativity and sorrows on old plates and smash them.  We also burned some writings and photographs.  It was merely meant to be a way to get things off of our chests and kill those monkeys that cling to your back, but this night evolved into so much more.  
I should probably mention now that all of us have experienced sexual abuse in our lives, we aren’t friends because of that fact, it’s something that showed itself after we’d already known each other.  That in itself goes to show you how many people experience abuse…in a handful of my friendships, I’ve found several survivors and that’s not even all of them.  I personally know 25 (and likely more) people who have experienced sexual abuse.  25.  And that is just in my circle.  How many survivors do you know?  I’d bet at least one and I’d also bet that you know others that just haven’t shared that part of themselves with you yet.  This is a huge global club that my girlfriends and I belong to.  It’s a club that often hides itself in silence, but that silence just creates more silence and we were sick of being silent.
This was the plate night…we had a lot to break.

After we had run out of plates, we sat around admiring our work and drinking wine.  I remarked on how awesome all of the shards looked with the broken writing and said that we should try making some art with them.  Nicolle added that we could see if we’d be able to display our art pieces in the gallery at our favorite local hangout and everyone jumped on board with the idea.  After we got the okay from the gallery, the beauty of evolution took place, our night of breaking and then art making turned into us each writing a monologue to be performed on the stage of opening night of the art exhibit.  Then we decided to try to raise some money from the night and donate it to the women and children of Harbor House.  This one spontaneous night of breaking plates had all of the sudden turned into a huge production.  We became sponsored by The Women Playwrights Initiative.  We held auditions and found wonderful actors to donate their craft to the night.  We had posters made and hung them up all over town.  We had a plexi-glass box built so that our guests could break a plate for a donation to Harbor House.

We packed the house.  (but sadly there was no photo taken of our spectacular crowd)  Aside from a few hard to hear moments for the guests in the back, everything went so well.
Angela (our fabulous director) and Doug (my love and wonderful narrator in between monologues)
1. Your Honor  2. What it Feels Like for a Girl  3. The Apple Tree
4. The Shelf   5. Call To Action 
Beth selling plates
Following the Call To Action, our guests followed us out to put their donations to use and break some plates.  They were given Sharpies and wrote on them just as we did.  Some of them wrote the names of their loved ones that they were dedicating their plate to.  Some may have written a bit of their story or just their name and others wrote ours in support of what we did.
The box just couldn’t handle all of the love & support  :-)
Doug, myself & Kristen (she read my poem The Shelf in the performance)


Your Honor by Elizabeth Klunk
What it Feels Like for a Girl by Angela McDonald
The Shelf  by Me

The Apple Tree by Nicolle Avery Masters
Bustier by Kelledy Francis
I made this wall piece…it’s hard to tell, but our figures (while breaking plates or standing in victory) are popped out in 3D fashion as is the frame.  It turned out pretty cool.
We wrote/broke more plates w/ some color for the art wall as well.
Close up of Break the Silence
This is how we decorated the tables in the performance room
Beth, Angela, Me & Nicolle

This was a crazy ride.  Stressful with nerves galore…a little bit of drama…but all in all, soworth it.  We were all very proud of our accomplishment and bravery….telling your story in such a public way is not for the meek, that’s for sure.  I know it’s a night that we will never forget.  A night of demanding “No more!”  A night of breaking plates and breaking the silence.  xoxo, Jenna.