doc w/ Pen

journalist + medical student + artist

Category: Arts and Crafts

Friendly inspiration

When I was in Chicago over winter break, I spent most of my time with my family. But I also caught up with my old “crafternoon” buddy. We talked shop, discussing the best paper collage glue and the sharpest scissors for maximum cutting precision. We also wandered the aisles of Hobby Lobby, picking up random treasures to use in our respective craft projects. Going to Hobby Lobby with a fellow craft addict is both marvelous and dangerous. Marvelous, in that you inspire each other with ideas on how to use this or that trinket; dangerous, in that you rationalize each other’s ever-expanding pile of purchases. But it’s mostly marvelous. My friend also graciously gifted me some vintage children’s book and magazine images, as well as other colorful paper.

Below are some of my recent origami crane cards, made with these new acquisitions. Click on any photo to open up a slideshow with larger images.


Top 10 of 2010: Life as I know it

The year 2010 was quite a ride. I don’t know quite how else to put it. There were ups and downs, there were all-arounds. But I came out on top. With a little help from my friends, as the Beatles would say.

I’ve also got lots of pictures to share, so hopefully this will be a fun post (visually speaking).

Drum roll please …

Top 10 of 2010: Life As I Know It

10. A good year for art.
My art, that is. I sold more than usual, especially during the holiday season, including several whopping orders from one woman who bought more than 25 beaded spoons throughout fall and winter! She told me one even made it to Okinawa, Japan, to a military family. So apparently I’ve gone international. Pretty cool. Here are some pics of newer pieces:

9. Painting our front porch. Finally.
When we moved into our house, our hideously-painted front porch (bright yellow and blue — think IKEA colors) was the first thing I planned to change. Six years later, I had managed to completely redo the inside of the house, but the front porch stood only half-primed. But we found a good handy-man who finished the job, and it looks beautiful now. What a relief!

8. Nine Inch Nails.
It might seem funny to list a now-defunct band as a top-10 item. But there are two reasons for NIN (my favorite group of all time) to make it on this list, specifically this year. First, they had a fantastic farewell tour, which Geoff and I saw. The last Chicago show (held on Northerly Island) included performances of rare Downward Spiral material we had never heard live before. I was especially excited to hear “Ruiner.” Second, founder Trent Reznor continues to be active in the music scene, having formed a new band called How To Destroy Angels with his wife. And it totally rocks. So while we wave goodbye to NIN, we welcome a new incarnation of Reznor’s music. And so all is well.

7. Blackhawks Winning the Stanley Cup.
OK, I’ll admit. I’m not a huge sports fan. But I’m a sucker for hockey. And of course, as a near-lifelong Chi-towner, that means I’m a Chicago Blackhawks fan. And for the first time in 49 years, the Blackhaws won the Stanley Cup — the World Series of hockey. I don’t get cable at my house, but luckily both my parents do, so we had multiple playoff game viewing parties. ONE GOAL!

6. Great friends, old and new.

5. Seeing my “in-loves” (aka in-laws) for Christmas.
It was so wonderful to see Wendy, Geord, Lindsay, Dan, Kyle, and Sarah again — after an entire year. And to meet my little nephew, Jackson, for the first time!

4. Family support & proximity.
I feel lucky that my family lives within a short drive. I am thankful for their support and companionship. Specifically: My near-daily 6 a.m. conversations with Mom (usually in Spanish); “sister sleepovers” with Sarah; sharing vintage clothes and jewelry with Joy; and Blackhawks games and home improvement projects with Dad.

3. Trip to Hawaii With Mom.
How could going to Hawaii not make it on my Top 10 list?! But going with Mom made it all the more special. We had quite an adventurous time, from snorkeling (several times during the day, and once at night to see giant manta rays), to hiking around Kilauea, to visiting a seahorse hatchery, to strolls through a tropical botanical garden. Here are a few photos from our trip.

2. Family generosity.
Let’s face it. As a one-income family with a mortgage that we took on when we were a two-income family, we’re not in the greatest of financial situations. Add to that some accumulated credit card debt (like most of middle-class America). Add to that a year-and-a-half of my being unemployed. Add to that both Geoff’s and my cars going kaput within 48 hours of each other this fall. We were in dire straits. But some very generous (although not so wealthy themselves) family members totally came to our rescue in helping us to pay down that credit card debt and make down payments on not one, but two very nice and longlasting cars. (Geoff got a 2006 Hyundai Elantra; I got a 2008 Honda Civic.) I don’t know what we would have done otherwise. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

1. Geoff (my husband).
I would not, could not, be doing this without him and his support. Financial support (he continues to work full time while I go to school), emotional support (hugs when I get frustrated), you name it. This has not been easy, and will not be easy in the future. But he is behind me. One of the great things that I especially appreciate is his listening ear. I tend to get really excited about things (like proteins), and I want to share that with someone. Geoff has been incredibly patient with me in listening to my (sometimes lengthy) stories and explanations of what I am doing at school, at the clinic, and so on. Thank you, my love.

Geoff and Lorien on New Year’s Day, 2011.

An end to the silence

I didn’t post here on my blog last month because I was busy with school, and with other things, such as the decoupage serving tray pictured above.

The few of you following my blog (thank you, by the way) will have noticed that I did not post at all during August. Or if you did not notice that fact specifically, you probably did observe that a good while went by without so much as a whisper from me. No worries, nothing is wrong. I’m not sick, I’m not dying, and as you saw from my two recent posts, I have not changed my mind about becoming a doctor.

So why the silence?

Reason #1: busyness.

August was the-month-to-get-everything-done-before-school. And when you have a family, a house, a husband, and other such life elements, figuring out how to manage them on a totally different schedule takes some time, juggling, and preparation.

Reason #2: business.

Yes, I have my own business, called The Artful Diner. As with most artists, I won’t be able to retire off my income from it, but the extra money helps, and I enjoy it. As the name implies, my work has to do with dining. And indeed, I make decoupaged dishware and beaded / wire-wrapped utensils to sell online and at art shows. At the end of July, I heard about a local art fair that I really wanted to participate in. I signed up, paid my fee … and then realized I needed more inventory. So I spent the next several weeks in full production mode. (My dining room — aka my “studio” — still looks like a hurricane swept through it, much to my husband’s delight.) Here is a link to my storefront, and a few photos of my recent work.

My Etsy storefront link: The Artful Diner

Here are some coaster sets I have painted and decoupaged with marbled paper (this is a new thing I am doing now):

Another new item for my online store this season is pillar candle stands. These are flat pieces of glass, with paper (and often vintage ephemera) decoupaged on the underside, on which you can put a tall pillar candle. The wax drips onto the flat, glass surface, and you just scrape it off. Here are a couple photos of those:

A set of six small decoupaged bowls:

So rest assured: I have not been idle with my time. Between the life busyness and my business, posting on my blog fell between the cracks. But I missed writing during that time, and especially writing about science and medicine, so you may also rest assured that I will not let that happen again.