Thankful for Bookshelves


When I was at my parents house for Thanksgiving this week, everyone spent a lot of time reading.  Kids read with their feet propped up in comfy armchairs, grandparents pulled out the reading glasses, Todd snuggled up with his i Pad, and I wandered around looking at the bookshelves.

readingMy parents are official book-aholics.  They read prolifically, give books as gifts, and collect them on shelves, in stacks, in baskets and in the back seat of the car.

I certainly and thoroughly inherited this love.  When I was a kid and needed consequences and discipline, the only leverage my parents had was in my books.  If necessary, I would not be permitted to read in order to refine my focus on other areas, such as math problems, exercise, dishes, and getting dressed on the weekends.

love to read

I had some good tricks up my sleeve for sneaking my habit unnoticed…  (Cracking the door just so, to let in the tiniest shaft of light; the ability to feign sleep at a moment’s notice and to deftly slip a book into my pillowcase and under my cheek.)

Looking back, though, I wonder if my parents didn’t know all along of my sneaky ways, and yet allowed it to go on…  They empathized with my situation.

I am so thankful for the book passion that my parents nurtured in me.  Their shelves are full of books about faith, far away lands, how to build a deck, who murdered who, ideas, truth and humor.

My kids didn’t inherit orderliness from me, nor did I from my parents.  I’m so glad, though, that our stacks and piles and overflowing closets are mostly filled with books.

Saving a Bit of Summer


It is already getting cold and wintery here in Ohio, so this weekend I decided to bring in a bit of the outdoors in the form of a terrarium. If I’m able, I’ll hold onto a bit of green all winter long.

how to make a terrarium

At the side of the house, our very shady damp yard is turning into a moss garden. I love moss, and am happy to have it as the sole inhabitant in my little glass bowls of green.  I scooped up two small patches for the project.  A little acorn came too.

easy home decorLucky me, I caught the half off sale at Goodwill this weekend and came home with two glass bowls for one dollar.  (If you know me, you know that I can’t drive past a thrift store or tag sale without stopping to look. :))

ideas for thrifty home decorMy kids helped scoop a bit of leftover potting soil into the bottom of each bowl.  Then they collected little rocks and dropped them in so the moss would feel more at home.

natural home decoratingNow, even when we’re snow covered for months, I’ll a have little bright spot in my office, reminding me of the warmth and green to come.

how to make a moss terrariumI may add a few baby ferns to the bowls in the spring, but until then I’ll just spritz the moss to keep it moist, and watch it do it’s moss thing.

Red Rake


Last week it snowed.  We realized that we’d waited too long to rake, so this sunny weekend was it.  I counted the trees in our yard – not including saplings, rhododendrons and azaleas, there are over 100!  That’s  a lot of leaves.  The Japanese maple leaves are almost all fallen, and they created a glowing red carpet on the ground.  I had to take a raking break to grab my camera!  (My husband told me to get back on task).

Our entire family worked in the yard – even baby was out there for a little while on his blanket.  At first, I was secretly hoping that a neighbor would see us, happily working together and being all Norman Rockwell-ish.  Then the fights started breaking out.  We have opinionated rakers, apparently.  I secretly hoped my neighbors had gone inside.

We finished the back yard, and all in all it was great day.  There is something just plain good about being outside, working, being with family (fighting is not so good) and getting something accomplished that we all feel proud of.  I think we’ll do a family project next weekend too… our basement has become the last frontier.  Please don’t expect any cute pictures next Monday though! The basement is not cute.

What did you do this weekend?  Any projects?  Any family time?  Other good things?  

“That’s Thrif-tastic!”

Today I’m introducing you to the first of “Heidi’s Greatest Thrift Store Steals”.  Why? Because I L-O-V-E getting a bargain, and I love to tell people how little I paid. (I know it’s obnoxious.  Sorry).  To be honest, I’d rather be thrifting, flea marketing or even trash-picking (my little table is trash picked!) than trolling same-old, same-old overpriced shops.

All the props in these pix are mine, and they were all either free or bought second hand.

Thrifty home decor

  • The mid-century Danish modern chair is a favorite.  I can’t believe I picked it up for $7.00! I’ve seen these for around $200.  Yay!
  • Love the crazing on this little green vase, and it’s just the right size for small bouquets.
  • I curb-side-rescued the little table, which I’m thinking of painting turquoise. The books are second hand, including a wonderful old Webster’s Dictionary for Boys and Girls.
  • I included the white picture frame because I have a bazillion frames that I’ve thrifted and used for my paintings.  Buying new “just right” frames is convenient but SO expensive!

Vintage gold chair

  • I have big dreams for this crazy hexagonal throne.  I’m not much for reupholstering, and I kind of like the gold velvet, so I think that will stay.  I’d like to paint the wood though…any suggestions?
  • Recently, I scored this lovely original print.  I did my best to track down info about the artist, but no luck.  I love original artwork, especially when I can afford it!
  • Oh, I have to mention the fabric that is covering my little table.  That came from one of about six big boxes of upholstery samples that I was given.  It’s my own little treasure trove (I do share, though – so if you live nearby, come and get some)!
  • Lastly, the silver candlesticks.  These are in pretty consistant rotation at the Goodwill. I’m slowly filling my mantel with all sorts of mis-matched silver.
Alright, there you have it – Heidi’s Thrift Store Steals for the day (believe me, there are more to come)!  What about you?  What are your favorite bargains?  – I know you have one or two…. Do tell!


Be Creative Today.


Creativity Quote by John Updike

photo: “Massachusetts – John Updike", 1962. ©Dennis Stock / Magnum.

“Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better.”
John Updike

I am thinking about this today as I try to approach my (huge) to-do list with creativity and vision instead of dreariness and dread. So much of life is mundane; why shouldn’t I see these tasks as creative opportunities? We were made to be creative, I believe, so why not unleash it every day?

Look out, dishes. You are going to be extra shiny today!

Poke the Box (But Not Too Hard) – A Book Review of Seth Godin’s Latest

Over Halloween weekend, I read Seth Godin’s newest book, Poke the Box. I find it fitting that I read this tiny tome between bites of fun-sized Snickers and mini Reese Cups. Although full of little nuggets of wisdom, this book is not hearty enough to satisfy those with a deeper appetite for insight and motivation.

Book Review of Poke the Box

Please don’t get me wrong.  I like fun-sized candy.  And I enjoyed Godin’s book. Ultimately, though I was disappointed that he didn’t give more.  I suppose it’s a positive that he whet my appetite.  He just didn’t deliver the main course.

Seth Godin

What is Poke the Box about?  To borrow a phrase, (Nike’s phrase, to be exact) Godin tells us to “Just Do It”.

He makes a significant point – that what is lacking in our world is not education, talent, skill, vision, or creativity – but (my word) gumption.  He sees offices full of dutiful followers, universities pumping out fearful dreamers, and a culture which often confirms that risk is…well… not worth the risk.  Godin defines this risk as “starting something”.  He also emphasizes that truly starting something involves finishing it.  (Those who have been following my Good Idea series will know this is a stand out point for me)!

Seth Godin book reviewDo I recommend Poke the Box?  Yes, I do, as a starting point… and perhaps this how Godin intended it to read.  You’re sure to come away with an emotional sense of “Yeah, I really should just DO this thing that I’ve been thinking about for months/ years/ ever”.  This is not a bad thing.  Godin’s book cheers you on, (“You can do it, you can do it, rah, rah, rah”), but does little coaching (“Yes, you can do it, and here’s a workout you should do every day so that you can succeed on game day.  I’ll do it with you for a while”).

Neither a book – nor a blogger- can solve all of your problems, or walk you all the way through life’s twists and turns.  Godin doesn’t claim this, but his claims are a little too lofty for what Poke the Box delivers.

Read it?  Yes

Savor it?  No



Boo! Failure is Scaaaarrrrrryyyyy!

In a series on Good Ideas, Our Flirtations with Them, and Our Commitments to Them.

Well Happy Halloween to you!  Today, our discussion is a bit dark and rather scary.  I want to talk about failure, because it has a very important place in a series on Good Ideas.  The creative life simply does not progress without failure.

dealing with failure as an artist

The Raven, mixed media by Mari Lowery, available on Etsy














I know this from experience!  When I was an art student, I took my first pottery class.  How exciting!  How wonderful to put hands in clay, and mold it on the spinning wheel into a sleek, organic, functional vessel!  I could totally rock my neuvo-hippie chick thing, sell some pottery at a festival or two, and have lots of Christmas gifts on hand for everyone!

Except that when I sat down at the wheel and hit the pedal, goopy wet clay spat in vicious circles and hit me in the face, covered the wall, and coated the other zen-clay students.  I was humiliated and so disappointed.

After that, the only time I’d return to the studio was late, late at night when few other students were working. I guess my hope was to work out all the kinks and appear one day in my day class as if nothing had happened, and as if I had all my “slip” together. 🙂  I progressed very slowly, as there were no teachers and not many experienced students in the lab at that time of night!

failure and creativity

Me - circa a long time ago

That was a long time ago, and I’ve learned some very valuable lessons since – primarily about grace and the freedom to be a fool and to fail. Here’s what I want to share today:  Not failing (and not failing publicly) will prevent you from succeeding.

  • Failing publicly means you tried to add value in a way that would impact other people.
  • Failing again means you tried again.
  • Making a variety of mistakes means that you are experimenting with a variety of “what if’s” and “maybe’s” and “hopefully’s”
  • Failing publicly means that you are in a position to be noticed (oh no!) and get some help, tweaking, direction…
I believe that purposing to add value, trying again, experimenting, and seeking critique as well as support, will lead to successes.  Purposing to achieve perfection the first time, and to make sure that everyone thinks well of you all the time will – ironically –  lead to defeat.
artists and failure

Finally... a teapot!

  • If you’ve ever felt paralyzed by creative failure, what got you going again?
  • What kinds of things have you learned from failure?
  • Do you put yourself in positions where you can fail publicly? If not, what can you do to be more vulnerable?
  • What advice would you give a friend who is stuck in failure?
Alright, talk to you later creative friends!  I hope I didn’t scare you too much today. 🙂  See you soon. 🙂
Mari Lowery is a former dog walker and a Brooklyn photographer and mixed media artist. Find more of her frightening creations at her Etsy shop.

My (Good) Advice Column!

In a series on Good Ideas, Our Flirtations with Them, and Our Commitments to Them. _________________________________________________________________________ So I want to talk about the role that advice plays in our decision making.  Really, I should have brought this up before I told you to Just Pick One (a good idea, that is).  Generally, the time to seek counsel is before a commitment!  Oh well, better late than never, right?

good advice

2 divided by 2 equals 1, by Cori Dantini. Available on Etsy

You have your Big Idea.  You’re mapping it out in your brain, doodling it in a sketch book, detailing it in your idea journal, making Excel spreadsheets (or not! 🙂 ), checking out your finances…

–  Do you reach out and ask someone for their perspective on your dream?  Why do you do this?  Or, Why don’t you?

– Who do you typically talk to, if you’re one who’s inclined to seek advice from others?

– Who do you wish you could talk to?

– What do you hope to gain?

I feel like there’s a tension there for us creatives.

On one hand, as expressed by the comments on this very blog, we need people to help us filter our idea-prone minds.   On the other hand, a creative can’t be successful if she is always waiting around for someone’s approval.  (And we do want approval, don’t we!?)

And this, friends, is why life is challenging.

  • We need both the tenacity to hold on to an idea in the face of dismissal, and the good sense to listen and let go of it if it isn’t quite right.
  • We need the patience to see our ideas from many angles, over a period of time, through other’s eyes, and the decisiveness to act now, when the time is right.
I’ll sum it up by saying this: I believe we all need a strong inner compass AND a map.

From the Direction series, by Heidi Sorensen Muller

What do you think?  I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and experiences with this…   Thanks! 🙂
Cori Dantini is a full time illustrator, full time mother and full time wife from Pullman, Washington.  She says of herself,  “I love a sharp pencil, and a 005 black pen, i heart walnut ink, and japanese pen tips, OH and a new pad of paper, i love ANYTHING shiney or sparkly, and consider myself to be a bit of a crow in that way”.
Here is a link to her lovely Etsy site.


Book Review and Giveaway!


Melissa Michaels, of The Inspired Room, is someone I want to meet, visit with in her home, have coffee with and listen to.   In an unassuming but authoritative way, she nails (or shall we say “pins”) the trouble we get into when our desire for just a little more/ nicer/ better/ newer becomes a current that pulls us away from the things that are actually most important to us.

In her new e-book, Not a DIY Diva – How to Create an Authentically Inspired Life in a Pinterest World, she neatly and warmly packages much of the sentiment she’s shared at her blog over the years.  It’s very interesting to me how she weaves together the ideas of creativity, contentment, function and beauty in our homes.

You’ll find lots of inspiration in this little fifty-some page book, but most of all you’ll find a much needed contrast to the pretty-shiny-image-obsessed culture we live in.  Melissa is not an ascetic.  This is not an “either/or” book.  It is, however, a look at living authentically, and with substance – not appearance – formost in mind.  She’s put together a thoughtful, engaging read.  I’m quite sure that lots of you will enjoy it!  The book is launched tomorrow, October 25, so head on over to The Inspired Room to secure a copy!


1.  This is my first giveaway on Mish Mash Make, and I’m SO excited!  I feel like a grown up blogger.  (Well, maybe an adolescent blogger…).

2.  I’m giving away not ONE, but TWO great e-reads!  First is Melissa’s e-book, Not a DIY Diva.  Secondly, I’m offering  Untitled: Thoughts on the Creative Process by Blaine Hogan.  (available on iTunes and Kindle)

3.  So how do you get your creative little hands on these goodies?  Just leave a comment on this post telling me why you’re interested!  It’s that easy.  I’ll announce the randomly selected winner on Thursday.

– If you’d like your name to be entered twice, just share the link about this giveaway with your friends on Facebook.  (Please let me know you’ve shared it, so I can make sure to get your name in again!)

Let the Giveaways Begin!!

Just Pick One

This is part of a series on Good Ideas, Our Flirtations with Them, and Our Commitments to Them.

I’m a person who doesn’t know that I’ve thought until I’ve spoken it out loud, or written my thought down.  This is why I LOVE friends, coffee, and fresh paper. Whether you’re my type of an idea-phile, or more of a reserved “just between me and my diary” type; writing, documenting, and listing the ideas that pop into our heads is essential to harnessing their energy.

Keep a List, and No “Pooh-Poohing”

When I used to work at Urban Concern, a co-worker would always remind us that there was to be no “pooh-poohing” of ideas that came up at staff meetings.  Well, initially, at least.  That is the sense in which you are to keep your idea notebook.  It is a dumping ground for every idea that comes into your head:  the good, the bad, and the “maybe you should see a therapist”.

Oh, and this is just the best for idea-philes.  It’s absolutely guilt free day dreaming. How fun is that?  Of course, though, none of us really aspire to be only dreamers.  We are, after all, Makers.  So what to do when this ongoing list keeps growing, and we still remain hesitant (fearful) to stop jotting and act?

Please Pick One

Just Pick One  

There are unlimited good ideas in life, but our lives themselves are limited – even if only by the 70 or so years we’re given.  A very wise friend counseled my idealistic and driven- dreamer husband this way…  She said that life is like a box of chocolates (no, I’m not going all Forrest Gump on you!), and that eventually you have to pick one to eat.

Once you choose your chocolate, you need to enjoy it, savor it, be grateful for it, and STOP wondering what it would have been like had you picked the one that may have had truffle filling!

(OK, I have to confess – I DID eat every. single. piece. of chocolate in that box after I took the photo.  That doesn’t really work with my analogy, but I had to tell you anyhow. 🙂  )

This week, I encourage you to give your ideas a voice in a notebook.  (Remember to work on your Yes List, too).  We’ll wrap up with some thoughts on the value of counsel in the next few days.