Ugly & Beautiful

Doodle Days, 2020

Share all you want, steal the “logo”–no worries, no copyright.

I have never been good enough for Inktober.

I’m not a trained artist. I won’t spend money on professional ink. Visual arts are a hobby for me, not a vocation, and I don’t maintain any illusions about my talent or prospects.

So this year, I wasn’t planning to do it. I really don’t have time, what with homeschooling–or, I do, but it’s time I should devote to writing, exercising, playing with my pets and children. But then I learned that the Inktober guy had muddied the whole event a bit with lawsuits over the term “Inktober” and its logo and that people weren’t super pumped about it this year, anyway. Lots of alternatives have popped up, many of them highly themed.

Well, I thought, who needs it? I’ll draw what I want.

But it was fun to keep up with a challenge. Even more fun when people would “like” my posts on Instagram… pity likes or not, I will take them. It’s fun to share your work with others, even if it sucks. Sometimes it’s fun to say, “Look how badly this turned out!” and revel in your own mistakes–for me, anyway. (I mean, sometimes things are so bad they’re hilarious. I think there’s a whole TV show dedicated to bakers who can’t make it work–right? And my sense of humor is nothing if not self-deprecating.)

I know this isn’t necessarily true for the pros. I know that when I read a terrible piece of writing, I have a harder time appreciating the amazing feat that the writer accomplished just in doing it than I used to. The kid in creative writing class who wants a Pulitzer for his haiku–that’s probably me in the art world.

I don’t want to be annoying. I do want to draw. Not because I’ll ever be a great artist, but because I enjoy it. When I commit a certain portion of my day to visual art, I light up parts of my brain that make me feel better about myself, about my family–about everything. And I could use some of that right now.

So here’s my own drawing challenge. Join me if you will. No talent required, no specific materials must be used. My kids helped me come up with the prompt list and a few times I called to my husband, “What’s a silly word?” Post them on Instagram with #DoodleDays2020 or keep them to yourself–your choice. But join me in doodling if you like.

Ugly & Beautiful

The Art of Trying (or, Why Yoda Was Wrong)

I hear it far too often:

Do, or do not. There is no try.


Only it’s never coming from Master Yoda. It’s coming from some influential internet mom or from a fitness instructor or from somebody’s boss. It’s usually tinged with exasperation, from people who are tired of other people’s nonsense. People who say things like, “If I can do it, anyone can,” and truly believe that in their hearts. People who have a hard time looking directly at failure.

Continue reading “The Art of Trying (or, Why Yoda Was Wrong)”
Ugly & Beautiful

Four Things I Learned This Week

The US got its first female detective back in 1856, when Kate Warne walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency and talked her way into a job.

The “Adam’s Apple” is cartilage that sits right on top of the thyroid. It grows bigger in men as their voices change and their voices grow bigger. Men and women both have this cartilage, and though it’s rarely as prominent as a man’s, some women do have Adam’s apples. (I finally looked this up because I’ve always said I had an Adam’s apple and I’ve always been laughed off. It might not be prominent, especially at my current weight, but yeah–I’ve got an Adam’s apple.)

There are hundreds of versions of the Cinderella story, one of the earliest of which comes from Greece. “Rhodopis” (Rosy Cheeks) tells the story of a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Greece after an eagle steals her sandal and drops it in his lap.

The Trade Federation’s Viceroy in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is an alien species known as a Neimoidian. (My son is REALLY into Star Wars…)

Ugly & Beautiful

Three Things I Learned This Week

“Paris Syndrome” is apparently a psychological condition, mainly experienced by Japanese tourists, marked by an extreme disappointment when the City of Lights does not live up to expectations. It can cause disorientation and even hallucinations.

Rock polishers do not polish rocks quickly. Expect each batch of rocks polished to tumble for about a month. Expect that month to be underscored by a gritting, grinding sound.

There are apparently four types of introverts.

Ugly & Beautiful

Shop Small: Finding Gifts for Readers and Writers

Today might be Small Business Saturday, but you can support small businesses every day, in your neighborhood and online. There are so many small businesses out there, selling so many different kinds of wares–but sometimes, they can get buried under the big businesses’ SEO and ad budgets. So today I’m highlighting a few small businesses I admire to help you find the perfect gift for those you love.

Continue reading “Shop Small: Finding Gifts for Readers and Writers”
Ugly & Beautiful

What Do You Wear on Thanksgiving?

I love wearing dresses. I wear jewelry almost daily–nothing expensive, but I like a little flair. I grew up watching old movies, in which the characters always looked polished and even a simple dinner party called for a cocktail dress and jewels. There was a time, when I was little, when I decided to change my clothes for dinner each and every night. Then my mom got mad at me about the excess laundry.

Anyway–I’m not naive. I know that was then and this is now. I know (from experience) that being too far overdressed can be awkward and embarrassing. I also know that, since I spend most of the holiday in the kitchen, it’s completely impractical.

Continue reading “What Do You Wear on Thanksgiving?”
Cooking & Eating, Ugly & Beautiful

Support the Blog! Buy a Mug!

Everybody needs mugs, right? To drink their coffee from, to put their pencils in, to fill with bourbon when they need a drink before five…

And this mug is special. This mug is shiny. This mug features a cute literary quote (Louisa May Alcott, Little Women). It holds eleven ounces of liquid and though you can’t microwave it (there’s metal in the paint) you can totally put it in the dishwasher. It’s lightweight, it’s unique, and it also makes julienne fries.

Okay it doesn’t make fries. But proceeds from sales of these mugs will help me fund this blog. They’ll help pay for my domain name and the lovely website that WordPress provides. If I sell enough of them, they’ll help me create more fun content by paying for things like art supplies and costuming for some fun videos I’ve been brainstorming.

So buy one for yourself or for your coworker who really loves reading! Buy one for your mom, your dad, your grandma, your babysitter.

Of course, shipping a mug is pricey, thus the $20 price tag. If you can’t swing that but still want to support the blog, I’ve got other items for sale on my Etsy shop, including printable art and vintage books.

Anything helps!

Friends & Family, Ugly & Beautiful

Tricks and Treats: On Fear, Bravery, and Halloween

When I was a kid, we lived down the street from our local pastor. Despite some of his congregation’s hesitations about the holiday, he absolutely loved Halloween.

I don’t remember how he decorated his house or if he ever wore costumes. I don’t remember what kind of candy he passed out. I remember two things about Pastor John’s house on Halloween night: he always looked delighted to see us, and he always made us do a trick before we could get a treat.

Apparently, this is a custom in certain areas but it wasn’t a custom in ours. As far as we knew, it was just Pastor John.

At first, the idea of performing on his front doorstep was terrifying. Should I tell a joke or sing a song? What if I wasn’t good enough? What if he gave me a rock instead of candy like those horrible adults in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?

But I did it. I was brave.

To me, bravery is what Halloween is all about.

Continue reading “Tricks and Treats: On Fear, Bravery, and Halloween”