Loose Ends (CATALOG 3/24/2023)

  1. More than 7,000 people across the country—including yours truly—recently signed up to volunteer with Loose Ends, an organization for knitting and crocheting volunteers. Our mission? To finish the projects of those who have passed away. (I did this some years ago on my own—read about it in my story “Knit Together.”)
  2. New favorite author alert! Jacqueline Woodson‘s “Another Brooklyn” turned me into a fan, and I so look forward to reading more of her incredibly tight-yet-deep work.

  3. I love resources like the book Uncommon Sense Teaching that recognize the big picture of living as educators (there’s also a free Coursera course by the authors).

  4. I am especially wowed by art projects that involve repurposing. I was reminded recently of a local organization called Art Start that provides both materials and instruction!

  5. A recent purchase: Haikubes! I can’t wait to play around with them both on my own and with my writing group.

  6. My fifth-grade students and I read Amelia Lost together and wrote our own informational articles based on our learnings. What a fascinating personality she was and reckless venture she undertook!

  7. Journey to the Cross: A 40-day Lenten Devotional by Paul David Tripp rings of his poetic voice but offers some great practical insights on what sacrifice and humility can really look like in life.

  8. I can’t wait to watch this “Many Beautiful Things” documentary about Christian artist Lilias Trotter. Given what I’ve watched and read so far, Trotter is going to bound to make the list of my favorite artistic ancestors.

  9. I haven’t tried my hand at a crocheted tapestry of this scale before, but I’m eager to give it a try over the next couple months. My yarn stash is ready for the assignment!

  10. I am currently judging writing contest entries for The Writing Revolution, a makes-sense curriculum I used among students who struggle to learn and a powerful method for anyone who wants to write better.

The War of Art (CATALOG 2/16/2023)

My latest list of recent likes and favorite links…

  1. How did I not know about the wisdom of author Steven Pressfield. I am devouring his book The War of Art with joy and appetite for more!

  2. I scored In Praise of the Needlewoman for a pittance at the thrift store recently. It’s full of all kinds of glossy artwork featuring women busy at their knitting, embroidery, weaving, etc. A keeper for sure!

  3. I guess winter is for books… The Writer on Her Work features essays by Alice Walker, Anne Tyler, Joan Didion, and others and is convincing me of the sisterhood, passion, madness, etc., I share with these women. It’s also inspiring some writing of my own!

  4. …and more books! As Lent approaches, I plan to dig into Journey to the Cross by Paul David Tripp. I became familiar with Tripp’s work when gifted his My Heart Cries Out, a book of faith-based poetry. I trust Journey will be just as rich in content and creativity.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed Storystorm 2023, a month of daily blog posts by children’s book authors. At the same time, readers were encouraged to “create 30 story ideas in 30 days.” Mission accomplished—and then some!

  6. On my to-do list: Winter Writing Sanctuary 2022 complete with PDFs full of prompts. The “classroom” implodes at the end of July so, if my current schedule doesn’t allow for it, I’m fine with embracing the notion of winter writing in the heat of summer.

  7. I finally began crocheting a log cabin afghan and love the feeling of sweet progress with each completed spiral. Photos to come of my creation, which already bears that awesome lead-vest feeling as I work on it.

  8. I’ve got a DIY air-dry clay recipe ready and, of course, a healthy stash of yarn… I can’t wait to experiment with crochet and clay fusion!

  9. I think this is my fourth crochet-along with Breann Mauldin at the helm, but my first making blocks. Lord willing, I will eventually have at least 28 blocks to piece together into a blanket. Talk about texture galore!

  10. The first episode of Dear Edward on Apple TV Plus rocked me to the core. And its various storylines around the psychology of grief continue to keep me riveted. My heart is truly with dear Edward.

We Are All Dots (CATALOG 10/29/2021)

Welcome to this “catalog” of what piqued my interest in recent days…

We Are All Dots: A Big Plan for a Better World by Giancarlo Marci is one of my favorite kinds of books merging the simplest kind of illustrations with tight text with an important message.

2. What is your learning style? I share this video and survey with my students to help get down to the bottom of theirs.

3. Do you resonate with LinkedIn’s findings on stress levels?

4. Mind maps are an effective note-taking and study tool for students—and useful for grown-ups too!

5. Enjoy this massive collection of visual insights courtesy of Qaspire Consulting.

6. I love it when people think of an idea, then go full tilt with it—like these painted plates of last meals by Julie Green.

7. Lisa Congdon is one of my favorite artists—this Dieline article sums up her work and inspiration well. (And now I’m determined to collect all of those cool Method hand soaps by Lisa’s design!)

8. I’ve made two of these teardrop hanging baskets for storing keys, masks, gloves, etc.

9. ‘Tis the season to be grateful! Share your stories of gratitude with Chicken Soup for Soul for possible publication! (Don’t worry, the deadline for submission isn’t until January.)

10. Anchor provides an easy—and free—way to produce podcasts, even working hand in hand with WordPress to import blog content for conversion to voice. Why not, right?

Have a link to share with me for a future catalog? Please comment below. Thanks for reading!

Where There’s a Wall, There’s a Way (CATALOG 10/08/21)

Though StrengthsFinder 2.0 pegs one of my top strengths as Input, there is only one blog I read with any regularity: that of author and artist Austin Kleon. Its appeal? Once a week, Kleon sends his followers a top-ten list of creative and curious links from across the Web, including his own blog posts.

I don’t care to read much via any kind of electronic device (even though I produce my share of online content), so Kleon’s approach speaks to me. Full disclosure: I want to know a lot but, at the same time, to do as little as possible to get the gist. So my blog post this week pays homage to Austin Kleon and features my own “10 things I thought were worth sharing”:

1. The inspiration behind this week’s blog: Newsletters by Austin Kleon.

2. Where there’s a wall, there’s a way… Such was the motto of an artist who, during 130 days of the 2020 COVID lockdown, painted an awesome visual diary.

3. Crochet-alongs marry the challenge of an intricate pattern with the opportunity to bond as “happy hookers.” Beginning next week, designer Breann Mauldin prepares us for Christmas with a tree-skirt crochet-along.

4. A fascinating documentary on the Met Gala and the people who make it possible (and so pretty): “First Monday in May.”

5. …which led to my curiosity in Andre’ Leon Talley and his story: “The Gospel According to Andre’.”

6. What exactly is dyslexia? Groves Academy set me straight.

7. Again from Austin Kleon—and in light of this past week’s Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp outage—a reminder to “rewind your attention.”

8. Call it the HairClub for educators… With The Writing Revolution, I’m not only a better tutor—I’m a better writer.

9. Book: Freely and Lightly by Emily Lex, who pairs personal lessons on faith with everyday illustrations in watercolor.

10. Thanks to my artist pal T.B. Sojka, I learned about Sara Thurman’s Artists Rising Retreats—and dream about planning my own someday.

If you have a recommendation on something I should read, watch, wear, see, try, make, etc., please provide the link in the comments section below. Who knows, perhaps it will become part of my next “catalog.” Thanks for your input!


IJustLikeOn the recommendation of a creative friend, I picked up I Just Like to Make Things: Learn the Secrets to Making Money While Staying Passionate About Your Art and Craft by Lilla Rogers. The author is both an artist and an agent who has secured contracts, licenses, and other agreements for herself and others who have a knack for modern illustration. The book is filled with testimonies and tips on how to make a mark in children’s books, textiles, craft papers, and other goods that carry color and design.


I most enjoyed the bookends of I Just Like to Make Things, first Rogers’ use of a bird analogy to demonstrate how we artists can visualize our life’s work:


…for every person on our planet, there are fifty birds. Wow! I would love to meet my fifty birds. They are all out there, and we don’t even know which ones are ours… If you think of the life of your career as having fifty birds, what would they be? Let’s let them equal fifty meaningful events or highlights in your career. They are out there, but like your birds, you just don’t know what they are yet. You won’t know until you reach the end of your life and look back; but in the meantime, they will happen. 


I love this visual. I love that my success doesn’t have to be defined by just one epic moment—a sum of many makes up the whole. I also love that, like birds, my art can boast diversity and color and merry tunes of all sorts. Yes, this imagery will indeed stick with me as I discover my artistic identity and calling. 


IMG_3739The other bookend? One of the concluding exercises of I Just Like to Make Things is to consider the many different turns an art career can take. Rogers presents forty-plus ideas to help “garner some self-awareness” and arrive at “what you really, deeply want to do next” in the creative realm. As she suggests, I photocopied the page, cut all the options into little rectangles, then drew five pieces randomly from the pile. I was skeptical of this assignment at first, but in the end, I gained some valuable insight:

Open an Etsy shop
I attempted this about a year ago with some scarves I made, but I think I definitely need a lot more stuff and a more defined personal style. I plan to work on the latter to arrive eventually at the former.

Volunteer to help creative kids
I love this idea! My dream of dreams would be to facilitate a kids’ knitting and crocheting group. My daughter is attending a fine-arts interdisciplinary school this fall, plus my church is starting a free after-school program for grades K-5. Perhaps I could start groups at those venues?

Sew for fun
Another option that piques my interest! It was at a Fourth of July parade that I became aware of the efforts of Iowa-based Dress a Girl Around the World, and I’ve been thinking about making simple little dresses for charity ever since. I also came across a few fun videos on Creativebug on “Patchwork Improv.” I’m in!

Start your own company including manufacturing
I began my own company about twelve years ago when I became a freelance writer. I changed the name of it some time later to make sure it could grow beyond communications. My next steps? To honor my intentions from long ago! To get creative! To make stuff!

Make jewelry
This option wrinkled my nose at first, but it grew on me when I thought about how I can use my current skills, know-how, and supplies to make small items for sale. I plan to experiment a bit with crochet and buttons and yarn and beads in the weeks ahead.


I know I’ve read a good book if it motivates me to some kind of action. Boy, do I have a to-do list from this one! Stay tuned as I get to work.