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    My Catharsis


    So, here I am. Sitting in front of a blank screen for the first time in nearly a month, trying to put together the words that will convey what’s going on inside my head and heart.

    I’ve known that I needed to write, I’ve known how cathartic it is for me, but I’ve put it off. I’m almost ashamed of the thoughts and feelings I have, because the older I get, the more bitter and critical I seem to become. I would almost prefer to put a roll of duct tape in my purse and around my hands, some days.

    Then, the more I think about that, the more I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. The older we get, the more we realize how seriously messed up we are, each in our own way, and how much more magnified those faults seem to be when we’re older and are so much more in tune with people. Personally, I think it’s because it’s not until later in life that we really realize how important people are in our lives. But, just like acne, the more it’s magnified, the uglier it is.

    Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty ugly.

    I have tried to avoid one certain truth in my life – that I would turn into my parents. I denied it, I tried to mask it – I do my damndest not to let it invade my mind – but here it is. It’s here, and I have to deal with it. It’s called cynicism. I am my own worst critic, and I am also everyone elses worst critic. In my head, at least. I am a danger to society should I be let loose and free to speak my opinion, and so I am very grateful that my place, behind this monitor – inside this house, in my corner of the world, is safely tucked away from real human interaction.

    Except for the loved ones who are subject to my presence, whom I offer my condolences – you’ve lost a once bright, cheerful, happy, energetic and outgoing person and she’s left this icky person in her place.

    So now, my task – what do I do with this? How can I be the person I was – given the exact same surroundings, with all of the exact same things that have driven me to this mindset?

    How does someone really initiate the change they desperately need, without allowing their immediate circle of influence to affect it? I would love the answer to that one. And I’m sure a million others would, too.

    I know that I am fortunate. I have been blessed. Not just with the gift of creativity, but with the circumstances to be able to put them to maximum use and a support system to encourage me. But there’s this nagging inside of me that is completely displeased. Displeased with how everything is going, unhappy with the relationships I have, feeling broken and distant from the people I know, deep down, that I truly love.

    I could go paint. I could write. I guess I am writing. I hope you don’t mind. Though not the story that I could and should write, but just the abbreviated, vague version that is as safe as I can possibly be, because at the heart of it all, the last thing I want to do is negatively impact the things that are negatively impacting me. Strange, how that works. Or in this case, doesn’t. I’m not really sure.

    I could grab my camera and go for a drive – but none of these things stop the swarm of words that surround my head and beg to be dealt with. None of those things will draw me closer to an answer or a new revelation about how to change my life right. this. very. second.

    My life right now is a mass of sticky notes and appointments, of code and design and of seeking approval from other people from just about every single thing I do. I guess after a long period of time, maybe I feel tied down in my creativity and my insides are begging to break free. The terrifying thing about that, however, is the breaking free part. The “to hell with it all” part that I think every few years, every human being needs a little of.

    The deeper I look inside myself, the more confused I become, and the more I want to just be one of those people who doesn’t think so deeply. Who doesn’t give any consideration to how my actions or words might affect someone else. Who doesn’t analyze. Who doesn’t attach everything to feelings and emotions and issues that need to be handled or discussed.

    The deeper I look inside myself, the more I realize that I’m not really disappointed with the world, I am disappointed in myself, and my own failures. I expect too much, from others as well as myself. I still, after all these years, depend on others for my own happiness. I am reactionary, I am over-sensitive, and honest to God, I think I am over-thoughtful, if that is possible. Not so much in that I am always thinking about other people, but that I am always thinking about how my actions might affect other people. Trying to stay out of everyone’s way, and feeling run over in the process.

    In all of this, I can only pray that I am normal. That this is normal. This is just a phase, this is just a day, these are just thoughts that will vanish and tomorrow I’ll wake up without a headache ready to tackle the world and really, truly love the people that I love. Tomorrow, perhaps will be the turning point. Tomorrow, I’ll have an epiphany and all will be right with the world once again.

    Tonight, however, someone magical might have to wave a wand over my head or sprinkle some fairy dust on me while I’m sleeping in order to make that happen.

    I’m 39!


    birthday muffin cake blog party invite photo by leanne wildermuth

    I have been celebrating my birthday each year on my blog, with my long time readers and friends, for many years. I Looked back at my first birthday here on my blog (back in 2005!), and thought I’d share an excerpt from that post:

    I’m one year older.
    One year further away from my birth.
    One year closer to my death.
    One year less afraid of that occurrence.
    One year less worried about how people feel about me.
    One year more worried about how I feel about myself.
    One year closer to attaining my goals.
    One year stronger in character and set in my ways.
    One more year to look back with very few regrets.

    One year closer to driving like a complete lunatic and making everyone else on the road angry.

    Funny – all of those things apply this year, too! I feel more and more blessed with each passing year, and though I woke up in a bit of a panic this morning that I’m reaching “old”, I am so grateful for that. I am so glad that I’ve made it another year on this planet, that I’ve had a little bit more time to somehow make a difference to at least a handful of people. I’m grateful for the friends who have stayed with me, I am grateful for the friends I’ve yet to make.

    Days like today are special, they are days to wake up and realize that you MATTER. You matter. What you do is significant, even if only to one person. And that’s a big deal.

    Have a birthday muffin, on me!! (it’s a couple of years old, but I’ve brushed off the mold. Promise.)

    Re-Committing to Old Resolutions


    A female cardinal perched on my fence this morning.

    Happy New Year!! I can’t believe it’s already the 4th. Almost a week into the new year and I’m wondering – how much can I get done in the first month? The first two months?

    A friend of mine on Facebook asked last week asked her friends what our New Year’s Resolutions were. I told her – my resolution will be the same as last year, unless I upgrade my monitor!! Ha ha! Okay so you’d have to be a techno-geek to get that one right away, but I laughed out loud at my own cleverness. (I’m usually the only one who does, but I digress…)

    My resolutions this year are the same as they are every other year. You know? I’d like to continue to grow my business. I’d like to treat people better, be kinder, be smarter, be wiser. I’d like to laugh more, stress less, take more photos and tell more stories. I’d like to spend my year in a creative process, while loving my family, treating them well, taking care of the ones I love and praising God for all that He’s blessed me with. I’d like to be ever mindful of my friends and all that they invest in our friendships – and give back as much if not more than they give me.

    I’d like to lose 30 pounds. Dangit – I hate that 30 pounds. Hate it with a passion. Why is that always on my dang list? Bah. They follow me around, quite literally, behind me – everywhere I go. They must be gone, and I will re-commit to that endeavor every morning. I’ll be healthy this year, because I am sick of being sick. Last year was tough – I spent a majority of it, it seems, with some kind of virus or bacteria invading my system. Not this year.

    This year, I have a lot of plans, and dreams! I’ll be shooting my first Wedding in May, traveling a bit – painting, designing – and I’m sure I’ll be doing plenty of gardening! I’d like to re-paint some rooms in our home, knock some walls down, and pay off some credit cards.

    This year is going to be a great year, and I’m excited and ready to share it with you!!

    What about you? And more importantly – how can I inspire or motivate you to help you reach your goals? I’d really like to know.


    Handmade Dough Ornament : 2009


    Each year since 2001, when our youngest was born, I’ve handmade these beautiful photo dough ornaments from scratch. Last year, I shared my entire process for those who are interested in the dough recipe and the supplies and materials I use to create these sweet homemade memories. You can find those instructions here.

    This years ornament was quite fun. First – I chose a whimsical shower curtain from WalMart to use as our photo backdrop and chose complimentary acrylic paints to decorate the ornaments. Next up – the photo shoot! I selected clothing for the girls to compliment the backdrop, and we had a fun little photo shoot in my studio! From there, I mixed up the dough and baked the ornaments. I printed out photos and sized them on my monitor to fit into my little heart shaped window, and then got to work on decorating the dough ornaments!

    I followed the whimsical pattern on the backdrop and painted the whole heart a cool shade of pewter. I painted the edges and inside of the heart opening with silver glitter – that concealed the rough edges of the dough ornaments. Then I painted a random pattern of circles and bubbles in a pretty teal, and once that was dry I outlined a few of them with a lime metallic sharpie. I used a glue gun and attached a few sparkly gems, dated with a navy sharpie, and then sealed them with mod podge. I traced each ornament onto sticky back felt, punched holes in the felt for the wire – lined up the photo on the back, applied the felt to hold the photo and give the back of the ornament a soft, finished look – and wired them up with floral wire!

    It is definitely a day long task, just decorating and assembling – but in the end, it is completely worth it. Just in the past 8 years, we have all come to cherish these ornaments and I know that in the years to come, they will take on an even deeper meaning for us as the girls grow older and leave the nest. Some day, they’ll be fighting over who gets them! Perhaps we should draw up a joint custody agreement in preparation for that event. hehe!

    I have to share our previous years, so you can see the progression. It’s fun to look around the tree for each year and not only see how the girls have grown – but see how much more elaborate the ornaments get from year to year.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, I wish each of you a blessed day!!

    dough ornaments how to recipe by Leanne Wildermuth

    Noodle Angels


    noodle angel ornaments handmade photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    I have three of the sweetest handmade ornaments on my tree – little noodle angels that were hand made by my mom and sisters a few years ago. This one was catching the light just right this morning so I chose her to share with you today.

    You can sort of see how she was made – so tiny!! A star glitter halo around a wooden ball for her head, a bowtie noodle for wings, elbow macaroni for arms and a tiny little bit of pine to look like she carries a tree. All of this, painted and glittered – just adorable, and genius. I had to get the glue gun out this year to make a few repairs, but they are all just as precious as the day they gave them to us in handmade paper boxes.

    Yes, we are an artsy craftsy bunch of people!

    An Irish Egg


    irish blessing egg ornament photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    Another new ornament to our tree is a gift, from my best friend of 25 years.

    Each year, my dear friend sends a care package with lovingly selected gifts for everyone in my family. I know. I lucked out in a BIG way. She’s totally amazing like that!

    Last year, I opened up my very small package to reveal this incredible hand painted egg. One side, painted in 24 karat gold, is the Irish Claddagh symbol. The heart held in the hands show love, the hands represent friendship and togetherness, and the crown on the heart symbolizes loyalty. Sweet little shamrocks adorn the spacing between sides, and on the other side is a shortened version of the infamous Gaelic blessing –

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
    may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

    You may not know, but my grandmother, Julie, came to the US when she was just a teenager, on a boat from Ireland – to care for her sister in Chicago. She met my grandfather in McHenry (she was a nurse) and they bought a farm in Hebron, Illinois where they raised 9 kids! My fondest memories of my grandma were when she would talk to me in Gaelic, and also – waking up to the smell of fresh bread baking when we stayed with them at their home in Florida. I still have relatives in County Cork, Ireland, and it is my dream to visit Ireland one day, if not move there!

    I am not the kind of Irish gal that has a lot of green shamrocks around the house, but I do cherish the heritage my grandmother left us and hope one day to be able to explore the area and home she was raised in. That’s what makes this ornament so very, very special to me.

    A New Nest In My Tree


    owl ornament natural photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    This year, I joined in on an ornament exchange hosted by my good friend Lisa at Lisa’s Chaos. Did I mention that Lisa, her husband Dennis and my family met up a few months ago for dinner at a fabulous little Italian restaurant here in the Quad Cities? No? Well we did, and it was amazing, and it was so cool to meet up with someone that I’d only ever talked to online. Her husband is sweet and funny and together, they are quite a team. So it made sense to me then that her ornament exchange would attract like-minded people who not only enjoy nature, but who are sweet and kind and good-hearted. I love it when I’m right! Lisa paired me with Tracey, from These Nine Acres. A photographer, wife, mom, and owner of a HUGE piece of land (in my eyes) out in Maryland, she is one talented lady and also, has a shop on Etsy you should check out. Not only did she send this gorgeous owl to adorn my tree, she threw in a set of Thoughtful Question cards. Dinner conversation cards – genius! Especially for me, who lacks skills in random topical conversations that don’t involve … um … art, design or my kids! So, the ornament I must share with you today is my brand new addition, this lovely owl from a new friend, met through a just-met friend. I love the internet. Thank you, Tracey!

    In Anticipation of Christmas


    cross ornament photography by Leanne Wildermuth

    Welcome to my Christmas Tree, where symbols of Christ can be found tucked away fondly in the best nooks and crannies of our Douglas Fir.

    We began collecting crosses a few years ago. Each year, we will choose a cross ornament to add to our collection – and over the years we anticipate that our tree will be filled with handmade ornaments, special ornaments from friends, and most importantly, Christ. Christmas is, after all, the celebration of His birth.

    Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing more ornaments from our tree, both new and old – captured with my (absolutely fantastic) new camera (that makes me seem magical, though truly, I am just a regular girl).

    I will also be making our annual dough ornaments – how they turn out each year is always a sweet surprise!

    I’d love for you to tell me about your tree – do you have special ornaments? Upload them to flickr (or somewhere) and share the link here! I’d love to see them!

    Lee Jeans 120th B-day Jeans Giveaway!!


    Lee Jeans 120 Birthday jeans giveaway

    This December, Lee is turning 120 years old! To celebrate, Lee is giving away 120 pairs of jeans EVERY DAY from December 1-31 on their Facebook Fan page:! PLEASE NOTE: YOU CAN ENTER ONLY ONCE.

    Lee Jeans? Well, they rock. If you haven’t found a pair that you love, you haven’t tried on all of the different fits they offer. A fit for every person, for every figure. I kid you not. (I have most of them.)

    From the press release:

    “Our longevity in the denim industry is thanks to our loyal customers so we wanted to do something to say ‘thank you’,” said Liz Cahill, Vice President of Marketing Communications at Lee. “We’ve grown with our customers through the years so it’s only fitting we celebrate this important milestone with our valued customers and friends.”

    And while Lee Jeans is a household name today, many are unaware of just how impactful the company’s work has been in developing the jeans we know and love today.

    “It’s hard to imagine a time when women didn’t have the option to choose between a skinny jean and a boyfriend jean, but until 1949 when we introduced the Lady Riders, the industry didn’t even offer a cut tailored to a woman’s curves,” said Cahill. “We come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and Lee’s proud to have led the way in fit innovations for both men and women alike.”

    Lee’s innovations through the years include:

      1911: Lee introduces the overall
      1926: Lee produces the first zipper fly
      1949: Lady Lee Riders was introduced to the women’s market
      1964: Lee introduces the first no-iron pants
      2007: Lee introduces the Natural Fit instantly slimming tummy panel
      2009: Lee introduces Slender Secret, an ultra-stretch slimming jean for every woman

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