Music to Create By: Hozier

Hozier has become one of my favorite musicians lately. His song “Take Me to Church” is one I play on repeat.

His voice is haunting and the lyrics are shattering. Definitely check out his new album.

I love listening to Hozier and when I play his music while painting, it almost puts me in a trance. The whole world fades except for the music and the canvas.


It’s Almost Here Again

That month of frenzied writing called NaNoWriMo is coming up soon. It really seems like I just did this. The year has past by far too quickly and I am surprised to find myself coming up on one of my favorite annual events. I am wholly unprepared (what’s new?).

Last year I continued writing a story I had already been working on. That may have been as far as my plans went, but they were a starting point.

Things have been a bit crazy and hectic on the home front lately and I have not had much time to focus on writing, reading, etc.

So now I must delve into the plethora of ideas I have to see what I want to try to focus on next month.

Do I continue some other story that has been begging for attention? Or do I start fresh, as the “rules” state?

My fingers are itching to start typing already and stories are calling out to me from the depths to be written.

It’s exciting to think about, but also daunting. I always find myself nervous to undertake this project because I question if I will be able to push myself and complete it.

My competitive side really wants to blow this thing out of the water every single year. This year will be a decade since I first participated and won.

I have not won every year since I began. And that is fine. I still tried and I still got some work done. I also learn something about myself and my writing every time.

Even though I push myself hard and feel disappointed if I don’t hit the 50,000 word goal, I feel like this is a worthy event.

Which is why I still show up every year.

I’m proud to say that the years I won and surpassed my goal outnumber the years I haven’t hit the goal.

NaNoWriMo is a great way for me to re-enforce habits. It gets me into the regular practice of sitting my ass down and writing.

I don’t know about you guys, but I certainly need that yearly reminder.

Because writers write. And sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do.

The Emotional Attachment of Things

One of the subjects that has occupied me since I began this journey towards tiny house living is stuff. I have a lot of stuff. It has accumulated over the years, as I have mindlessly purchased things because…. well, who knows why?

I have been reading a lot about minimalism and de-cluttering. I have been taking steps to rid myself of things I don’t want or need.

I don’t want to be owned by my things, which is what I see has been happening. I spend so much unnecessary time taking care of objects. I would rather spend my time, energy, and money elsewhere.

I must have a large closet because I have acquired too many shoes, too many dresses, too many jackets. I must have a wall of bookshelves because I have accumulated hundreds of books. (Now, don’t get me wrong- I love my books and those will be difficult to pare down.)

I don’t want the burden of having to care for and store this many things over my life. I also feel that it’s a bit selfish of me to have 5 coats when some people don’t even have one. I could give some of them away and they would go to better use.

There’s an idea out there that if you buy or possess something that you don’t need or that doesn’t add value to your life, that you are taking away from someone else who does need it.

I know that this doesn’t apply to all things. It does help me to think about that when I am shopping or deciding on what will be leaving my house, though.

It has been surprising to me, discovering how I have become attached to some material possessions that I didn’t think mattered.

At first glance, I’ll think that I can easily throw out, donate, or sell some small object- for instance: a desktop globe that I barely notice on a daily basis.

Then, as I go to move it and I can feel the weight of it in my hand, I’ll start thinking about where I got it and why. Suddenly the thing that I easily would have thrown out minutes before becomes a cherished item.

It’s times like that when I wish my memory wasn’t quite as good as it is. I seem to have a knack for remembering tiny details about silly things. I can remember who gave me things from years ago.

For some reason we, as a society, think we are obligated to keep and store all these momentos from the past. I am no different. I have been programmed to believe that objects are important. Far more important than they truly are.

I have the memories of people and if I need to, I can take a picture of the gift they gave me and then move on with my life. This is what I tell myself.

Still, I feel a tug inside me, like a thud on the side of my stomach, at the moment that I put something that means even the tiniest bit to me in a bag or box to be carried away.

I’m working on this. This thing that makes me feel a little queasy when I say good-bye to an item. I know, logically, that it’s a good move, that I am getting closer to living and being what I believe is right.

It also fades. After a week or so, I’ll look around and I might remember that something used to sit on that shelf, or in that bare spot in the corner. I find myself feeling freer, and happier seeing the empty spaces.

That thing that gave me a pang when I took it away now makes me glad and a bit proud of myself that I got rid of it.

I like the less cluttered space and enjoy my living area more every time I clear it of something.

So, like anything, it is a work in progress. I try to think about why I might be feeling attachment toward an item. A lot of times it has to do with the people or the place and not the object itself.

When I was traveling in foreign countries I made new friends and had amazing experiences. Many times I brought back a souvenir. Those are things that I find fall into the category of my attachment being more about the time, place or person.

Being self-aware and acknowledging the feelings and why I have them helps me to let go.

My favorite blog right now on the subject of minimalism is Be More with Less. Each post is a little pep talk. Which I certainly need at times.

I am also working on the other side of this thing- the stuff I buy. My usual method of purchasing involves me exclaiming, “Oooohhh! That’s pretty!” or some variation of that and then running off to buy whatever it may be.

That’s how I have boxes of brand new high heels in my closet that have never been worn and never will be, at least not by me.

My goal now is to buy with purpose. With intention. To think about why I want it, what it will add to my life. If I do decide to buy something that is not a necessity, something old has to go.

Just because a thing has beauty does not mean that I need to possess it. I can admire from afar.

This process of looking at my possessions in a meaningful way and choosing what is truly important to me is good. It is part of my journey and it is hard at times, but it also helps me to understand myself in new ways.

I’ll leave you with this image from Be More with Less:


Restoring Rambler Emblems

The week before last, I spent time restoring the metal emblems on my Rambler to their former red, white and black glory.

Having had no experience in repainting metal anything, I threw myself into it with an “I can do anything” attitude.

There are three emblems on my Rambler- one on the back and one on each side.

When I started painting the first one, I realized it was going to be more difficult than I had imagined. The small details on the pieces were overwhelming. How to get those little letters to stand out?

I had to be very careful about what I was painting and how. I powered through, and after the first one was done, I had a system worked out.

The first one looks worse than the others, but all three emblems look way better than they did before I worked on them.

Overall, I am happy with how it turned out. I’m glad I did this myself and would do them again if I needed to.


I forgot to take a picture of the first one before I began working on it. This is after I started painting.

Ten Books That Have Stuck With Me

I had meant to post this closer to International Literacy Day, on September 8th, but things got away from me. This past week was Banned Books Week and a few of these have been banned before.

This was not an easy list to write and there are way more books than these that have stuck with me over the years. These are just some of the first ones that jumped out while looking through my bookshelf.

Here’s my list of books that have stuck with me and why, in no particular order.


To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

I know a lot of people would avoid this just because it is forced on kids in schools and because it has so much hype around it. But, seriously, this is a really great book. I was not that interested in reading it myself, but somewhere along the way I ended up with a battered, marked up, old copy. I finally got around to reading it back in 2005 or so. Maybe it’s because I was born and raised in the south, but I can really identify with so much of it. The characters in this are fantastic. Boo Radley and Atticus Finch are the perfect heroes. This book is a great tale of compassion and of learning to judge less by a person’s appearance than by their actions.  I have now read it multiple times and plan to always have a copy on my shelves.


I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb.

I read this book during my first semester of college in 2006. I was 19 and my classes were two hours apart. I would curl up in my car and read between classes. This book was one that sucked me in. I could not put it down. I have read Wally Lamb’s other books and this one is the best, in my opinion. I know I must have looked crazy to people who walked past my car- scrunched up in a Suzuki Sidekick bench seat, tears rolling down my face, clutching a book. I don’t care. It was worth it. If you have family issues (who doesn’t?), then you can find something in this story to identify with. It’s almost 900 pages long, but I read it in less than a week. If you’ve ever felt responsible for the actions of someone else, or sought forgiveness, you’ll find something in this that tugs at you.


Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer.

This book was my introduction to Jon Krakauer. I have now read all of his books. “Read” may not be the proper way to describe it, actually. I devoured his books. I don’t know what it is, but Krakauer has a way of making me spellbound. I picked this up thinking that I would take it on a trip to Greece. I read over two hundred pages within a few hours. This book didn’t make it out of the country because I had read it so fast. The events recounted are horrific and tragic, yet fascinating. A part of what drew me to this was the physical and mental strength a person must have to undertake a challenge like climbing Mt. Everest. Those are people I can admire and want to learn about. Krakauer writes about people who fight for what they believe. It may not be pretty, and it may not end well, but these people were brave. I was so drawn into this true life story that I was recounting parts of it to family members to the point that I know I must have annoyed them. Krakauer writes with intelligence, grace, and honesty. He doesn’t show judgement towards the people he writes about. He just tells their stories. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone.


Jane EyreCharlotte Bronte.

When I was a kid, I obsessed over Pride and Prejudice so much that I would read it over and over. I would read it aloud because I loved the writing and the way it sounded so much. I didn’t think I would ever find a book that I loved as well or better.* Then, in my adult years, I warily picked up an old copy of Jane Eyre. And, uh, OH MY GOD. I adore this book. I couldn’t make myself put it down. I stayed up late into the night, glued to the pages. It’s endearing and suspenseful. Jane is an admirable character. She stuck to her principles no matter what. That’s a hard thing for anyone to do, but in that era, a woman like Jane is amazing. Mr. Rochester is an intriguing leading man. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

*(No worries, my Pride and Prejudice obsession still exists- I have at least four copies of the book in various places. I used to keep a paperback of it in my car in case I was out somewhere and needed something to read.)



ArchangelSharon Shinn.

The first time I read this, I was in middle school and I thought it was just wonderfully romantic. I bought it because I had fallen in love with the cover. That’s how I picked my books when I was a kid- by the cover- and I can’t say it really did me any wrong. That’s how I discovered and fell into a passionate affair with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. (The Fifth Elephant cover had me at “oh- hello“.) Archangel takes place inside a fascinating fantasy world. I have read it so many times that I’ve lost count. I am not a fan of religious themes in general, but this book isn’t preachy. It allows you to have your own belief on the subject and submerses you into its fictional world very well.


The Passion of ArtemisiaSusan Vreeland.

I am drawn to tales of strong women. I was 12 or 13 when I read this for the first time. It left a huge impression on me. As an aspiring artist, writer, and a girl wondering about her place in the world, Artemisia captivated me. She was surrounded by people who constantly pushed her down and tried to make her small. She followed her passion anyway. On seeing Caravaggio’s Judith:  ”She was completely passive while she was sawing through a man’s neck. Caravaggio gave all the feeling to the man. Apparently, he couldn’t imagine a woman to have a single thought. I wanted to paint her thoughts, if such a thing were possible — determination and concentration and belief in the absolute necessity of the act.” This book was one of my first experiences in thinking about the emotions inside a painting. It helped me to learn to really look at art. It also showed me an example of how a well-written piece of fiction can express beauty, love, hatred, terror, and betrayal.


Selected Poems and Letters of Emily Dickinsonedited by Robert N. Linscott.

Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost pretty much got me through middle school and high school. I identified more with Emily, though. This particular addition of her work I used to carry around with me. I highlighted my favorite passages, most of which have faded now. She made me feel like I wasn’t alone. If there was something bothering me, I could usually find a poem in this book that addressed it. The poem most likely wouldn’t solve the problem, but I always felt better knowing that someone else had felt the same. Emily writes beautifully and with passion. Even now, I can open this book and find comfort within. Here’s some words that are coated in faded yellow highlighter, that the younger and older versions of me are deeply drawn to:

“There is no frigate like a book

   To take us lands away,

Nor any coursers like a page

    Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take

    Without oppress of toll;

How frugal is the chariot 

    That bears a human soul!”



HauntedChuck Palahniuk.

I can’t say this one is here for great reasons. But if you ask me what books have stuck with me this tends to be the first one I think of. Appropriately titled, this book will certainly haunt you. This is one of the most f*cked up things I have ever read. And I’ve read most of Palahniuk’s work, including Rant (not to give too much away- but Rant has a lot of incestuous rape). There is a horrifying story in here that even now, years after reading it, I can recall vividly and with a shudder. This damned cover glows in the dark. When I read this, I reached a point where I couldn’t leave the book on my nightstand as I usually would. I mean, who wants to wake up, groggy and disoriented, to that screaming face glowing at them? Especially after putting the words inside this book in your head. I am warning you- you can’t unread this.


The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini.

I came across this book before it exploded everywhere, before all the hype, before the movie. It was just a book, on a shelf, in a store, asking me to read it. This book is heartbreaking and, at times, physically painful to read. It is the ruin of innocence and a tale of redemption. Like any good book, it took me to a world that I will never truly experience in my life. It’s the story of a boy who made hard choices and now, as a man, is trying to reconcile who he is with what he has done. Hosseini is a great writer and this book led me to read some of his other books. A Thousand Splendid Suns is an absolute favorite of mine. He knows how to write strong women, and strong characters in general. He knows that people are flawed and never perfect. We make decisions and have to live with the consequences. That’s what Hosseini explores in his writing and he does a great job of it.


Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseJonathan Safran Foer.

I found this book in my college bookstore years ago, when it first came out. I had not read Everything Is Illuminated yet (which is a good thing because I didn’t like that book). Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has amazing lines in it that take your breath away, bore into you, become part of who you are. It makes you think about… well, everything. It will make you sad and then the next page will make you laugh out loud. You would think that a book about a boy who lost his father on 9/11 would be depressing, but I actually found it uplifting. Oskar is a kid that I would like to meet and have a chat with. Definitely worth reading multiple times.


Gearin’ up for Ramblin’

This post isn’t about my arts and crafts. Although I will be doing some arts, crafts, and DIY for this project and I’ll share those with you.

This post is about a decision I made about what I want for my future.

I have always been drawn to a minimalist lifestyle. It’s something that I know I can do from my travels. I have spent 6 weeks living out of one suitcase. Even then I didn’t use everything in my bag. (Some part of me thinks that these experiences are what I am grasping for- the freedom and excitement I got to live daily while I wandered new places.)

We use and think we need so much more than what we actually do need.

At the end of July I watched a documentary on the tiny house movement and it just clicked for me. That is what I need to be working toward in my life. I felt it immediately and have felt that way every day since.

I started working on designs, planning, and getting rid of excess junk. I cleared out my kitchen cabinets in two days. I became a bit obsessed.

I kept wondering- How the hell would I pay to build a tiny house? Obviously, I’m just going to have to work hard and save up. This isn’t going to happen overnight, that is for sure.

Still, I want some part of the experience now- a “practice run” in tiny living, if you will. So I decided that I want to live in an RV while I plan, save and build my dream tiny home.

Fast-forward a few weeks and I find myself elated to be the proud owner of a 1972 Holiday Rambler!

It needs some work, so I am fixing it up and hope to move in very soon after it is complete.

I am enjoying this project. I am learning a lot of new and exciting things. I like that when it is done, I will have a home that I can take anywhere and that I put the work into.

I can look at it with pride and say “I did that”.

There are so many different ways to live and I have spent many years wondering where my place in the world is. I feel that I am on the right track now. I adore my HR and the community that comes with being a vintage HR owner is awesome.

I will keep you updated. Here’s a look at my Holiday Rambler the day I brought it home.


This Came Out My Brain

Had trouble titling this post… went with the obvious. It’s been a hectic few weeks, with very little time for painting.

I finally reached that point where I needed my art solace and made myself stop doing everything else for a bit.

I finished this painting this afternoon. It’s on an 11 x 14 canvas. I had no plan, no idea what I wanted this to look like when I started, but am pleased with the results.

Music to Create By: P!nk

For those of you who aren’t already aware- I am a huge fan of P!nk. She is one of my absolute all-time favorite singers/performers/people. I’m not even going to touch on what a great role model she is, I’m just going to gush over her music in this post.

I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager. From her very first album onward. In high school my friends and I would drive around in my car blasting “Respect” from her M!ssundaztood CD and rapping along with it.

Her “Truth About Love” concert was amazing. I saw it in Tampa last year and loved every single second. She flew right over my head! I have lyrics from one of her songs tattooed across the front of my leg. So… yeah.

One of the pictures I took at the concert

Honestly, I love each one of her songs. It is difficult to pick just one to feature in this post. Especially since each of her videos is just so damned great.

Here’s two of her videos that I enjoy. Countless drawings, paintings, etc that I have done were made to the sound of P!nk. I encourage those of you who might not be familiar with her to check out her other music.


Love Celebration Painting

Here’s an abstract piece I did the first week of July. It’s a fun, bright colored painting on a 16 x 20 canvas.

I call it “Love Celebration” because I scribbled the word love in there and the lively colors make me think of a celebration.

Love Celebration

This is while the paint was still drying.

Fun with Silhouettes

When I took my narrative portraiture class I bought a pack of five 8 x 10 artist panels. They were meant to be used to test colors, but I didn’t use them for that.

I decided to play with silhouettes instead! I really like the look of some of the silhouette art out there and have loads of ideas based on them.

The simplicity of a silhouette appeals to me. It also allows a lot of play with color and mood.

Creating a certain mood or evoking an emotion is part of what I love about art. If art makes me feel anything, and I do mean anything, I like it.

There was a statue in the Louvre that I fell in love with. To this day, I have no idea what precisely it was about that statue. It was a white marble statue, flanking a doorway into an exhibit, as if it was an afterthought. (Oh, let’s throw this here, it will be a nice decorative touch).

That marble statue struck a chord with me. I was standing there staring at it for what felt like a lifetime. I was filled with such warmth and sorrow. I didn’t realize that I had tears running down my cheeks until one of my friends approached me and broke into my reverie with concern.

I don’t remember ever crying over any other piece of art. There are plenty of paintings that I love and adore because of how they make me feel. But I will always, always remember that statue and the reaction it provoked.

I think that’s part of my drive to create. I want to make beautiful things, things that make people happy, or at the very least, make them feel. People need more of that. To feel something.

I went a tiny bit off topic there, but my point is that the stark contrast provided by silhouettes makes me feel. Which inspires me to create them like crazy.

Here’s five paintings I did using silhouettes. There will be more to come. I enjoyed making these. I hope you find some joy in them!

I drew the outline of each silhouette freehand and just had fun with them.

All pictures and artwork by CandaceOnline.

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