Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Creative Muse Lives!
Ready for another confession today?  I am basically a very creative person but in the last three or four years, I have ignored my creative side so much that I honestly thought my creative muse had packed her bags and left for good!  Up until then few days passed that I didn’t work on some creative idea or project.  I have always been interested in honing my needlework skills in quilting, knitting, doll-making, and embroidery of several types.  In addition, I have played with beading (mostly to accent some piece of needlework or soft sculpture), cake decorating, polymer clay, and even scrapbooking.  I love refinishing furniture and nothing pleases me more than to complete a decorating project in my home! 

In 2008, I felt the pull to finish my formal education but not in art or women’s art history.  I felt the call to enter the counseling field for transitional women.  I love what I learned during the formal training but honestly, I learned more about myself!  During these years, I put my creativity on the backburner of the stove of life due to the demands of academia.  During the years of study also brought some of the largest, meanest storms of life I have ever experienced.  Let’s just say that I have new admiration for the Book of Job!  When my creative muse packed her bags and left my inner self, I waved goodbye, thinking “good riddance, muse!  What did you ever accomplish here anyway?”

I completed my masters this past summer, then in august found myself back at home full time.  During this time, I’ve begun my “house into a home” project which is an ongoing project at this point but definitely is showing benefits and improvements.  During the work of turning our living room from storage room to library/music room, my creative muse started peeking back in the windows of my spirit.  She watched silently while I sorted through boxes, arranged furniture, and painted the walls.  The week following the painting, I just sat and wondered what to do next.  During this rest period, she was still silent and didn’t even give me a poke towards a creative mood.  It is amazing how decluttering rooms, painting rooms, and arranging furniture into a pleasing livable fashion spoke to my absent creative muse.  God gives us talents to use, regardless of what those talents are.  When we don’t use them, we might not lose the ability or talent but the urge to create goes to sleep. 

Well, I committed to making a large birthday cake and constructing the slideshow for Pete’s, Steve’s grandmother, 100th birthday party.  Last week, I marked the calendar off for deadlines for the various stages of my two projects.  I had already been scanning and editing pictures for the slideshow but knew that the cake had to be extra special so a schedule with deadlines to get it all done in proper fashion without the last minute crunch was necessary.  During my years of cake decorating for family and friends, I have experimented with fondant but never did much with it except for making cakes for baby showers or flat flowers.  Well, this cake won’t be getting flat flowers or bassinet skirts but 3D figures to represent various interests in Pete’s life that have been dear to her heart.
So like all good researchers, I began to research for similarities between working with fondant dough and polymer clay.  Amazingly, they are very similar.  In fact, whenever I did a search for fondant animals, I always got some tutorial or reference to polymer clay animals.  Procrastinators, you will empathize with me at this point, I’m sure.  I began to procrastinate because my perfectionistic tendencies crept into my mind and began whispering, “what happens if you can’t make these animals look right?”  “What if they look like one of the grandchildren did them instead of an experienced cake decorator, former artist?”  Procrastination is the child of perfectionism.  I procrastinate because I feel that the end product must be perfect and I won’t meet the perfect expectation.    Amazingly, I don’t have to be perfect, I just need to do it!  Also, my creative muse does not like chaos but she doesn't need perfection either!  I tried to make her live in an intolerable environment for years!  My creative muse was forced to live in chaos of emotion, stress, depression, and total clutter with no time or inclination to explore imagination.  Just in case your creative muse has been absent or silent, they NEED imagination and order, not perfection. 

Tuesday, I made the list for my fondant supplies and located my polymer clay tools.  Yesterday, after walking the floor, chatting with a client, I finally sat down and opened the fondant package.  I took a deep breath, turned on the computer to find my researched images of cows, cats, and poodles.  Trees and flowers will come next.  I began working the fondant just as I would polymer clay.  The fondant became soft and pliable.  I realized I was holding my breath.  It took me a couple hours to finish the first little cow but I’m proud of him. 

His features are not perfect, but the longer I worked on this one little fondant cow, the more my confidence rose, and surprisingly, I heard my creative muse whisper softly at first.  By the time Steve came in from work, my muse had begun singing and I was so excited! 

My creative muse has come home.  She isn’t completely settled yet but she is already singing and inspiring me back to creativity! I have interests in many art forms ~ writing, doll-making or soft sculpture, quilting, knitting, and beading.   It doesn’t matter what medium I choose to work with as long as I work in some creative medium, she won’t go away again! 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Animal Kingdom at Disney World

Steve and I have returned home and had a weekend of rest from our vacation to Disney World (DW)!  Now to get back in the swing of real world stuff, but I’m going to show and tell about our trip first!  Since we moved to Alabama, our drive has increased substantially so we left on Friday at lunch, stopped at Steve’s parents’ home, then arrived in Orlando late Saturday afternoon.  We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge DVC Resort this time.  We discovered it last December and just love it!  It is a great place for families but the older empty-nesters can enjoy it too!  The Wilderness Lodge lobby is awesome and like all the resorts pretty busy; however, the DVC lobby is much quieter with lovely
nooks to sink into comfy chairs or rockers—all the fireplaces were going even in the summer!  The first night Steve and I found our favorite rockers in front of the main fireplace empty.  We spent a delightful evening with his laptop and my knitting.  I worked on one of two baby sweaters that must be completed by the middle of September.  (That is 2013, not 2014, babies don’t wait that long.)  A young teenager walked past us while we were just relaxing with the comment, “really?  Come on, this is Disney!”  Yes, we actually sat in
rockers in front of the fireplace at Disney World!   

We spent a delightful first full day at Animal Kingdom followed by dinner at Boma’s in the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Animal Kingdom Park is one of my very favorites!  There is no way to see and do everything in one day for us (remember, we are not 20-something anymore.)  But we do have favorites that are just must-do then we try to visit something different every trip.  

Flight of Wonder never ceases to amaze me!  I’ve had pet parrots for years but am always amazed what the DW researchers are able to prompt these magnificent creatures to during several shows a day!  Guano Joe, the lost tour guide, adds so much humor and lightheartedness!  I’ve been going regularly to Animal Kingdom for eleven years and the same “Joe” has been there every time! Conserving these beautiful creature is the main message during this show and I think Disney and their wonderful cast members convey it beautifully without beating me over the head with it! 
 This guy was flying to retrieve another guest’s dollar bill.  He got the dollar and flew close enough to hit my head as he passed me. He also returned the money to the guest later in the show.

Disney is so full of fantasy and wonder, but when Hope, the bald eagle, made her entrance on the arm of a cast member, emotion and pride for my country swelled in my heart!  She is so beautiful and is a great reminder of the great country I call home. 

Kilimanjaro Safari is another “not to be missed” activity for me!  The weather for this ride was perfect, not too hot or humid to ride in the open-sided trucks. That’s our driver guide in the rearview mirror.  Our driver was very informative about all the animals in
throughout the ride.  This is one of those rides where there is no control on how many animals you might actually see, but we were so fortunate to even see the lions napping on the huge rocks.
Look closely for the two lionesses! They are really camouflaged on those rocks!

This big African bull elephant blocked the road for three trucks during our ride.  After several minutes one of the drivers radioed for the inspectors to come
and shoo him across the road.  He was enjoying his day in the sunshine! 
These trees are often said to be “upside down” trees since it appears their roots are growing out of the ground! (Borrowed this picture from since my driver went too fast for me and my phone camera!)

Just around the corner from the big bull elephant, this little baby was cooling himself with his ears. Mom wasn't far away either!

You don’t have to ride the safari to see wildlife, just walk through the park! Every nook and cranny holds some wonderful plant, bird, animal or fish! 

This little 
Meerkat was sitting alone in the very large habitat he shares with his friends and family.  I have read before that one little guy has guard duty while the rest of the colony sleeps.  Wonder if they draw straws?

Waterfalls are just one of many beautiful settings throughout Animal Kingdom.  This one is in the gorilla habitat as you cross the bridge going back to the trail.

Speaking of gorillas, the gorilla family was out and active for our Animal Kingdom day!  This little fellow was sitting quietly at the large viewing window, but as the crowd left the pavillon, he kind of followed along until we all got to the bridge.  He climbed trees then proceeded to swing back and forth to the delight of his audience, until Mama left.  Like a small child, when he couldn't see Mama, he was done being big stuff and went looking for her!
The tigers in the Asian habitat were done watching the humans and had settled
down for the afternoon siesta!  No, they are not dead, they were breathing!  I looked to make sure!  :)

We revisited the Festival of the Lion King and could not figure out why we had skipped it the last 5 years! 
The music, costumes and dancing is just phenomenal!  I wasn’t able to take pictures during this show since flash wasn’t allowed but have snagged a couple pictures and links for you to visit.  Don’t miss this show!  Here’s a YouTube link of the show.  Wish I had thought to take the video camera with me!

As I mentioned before, we ended our day over at Animal Kingdom Lodge with dinner at Boma, which offers South African cuisine and stimulates your taste buds to the point of no return! Although it is buffet style, the food is excellent!  Just be careful how many trips you make back to the buffet!  The buffet is sectioned off by courses so it is easy to navigate back for more of a favorite food!  The serving staff is just friendly and warm!  I was wearing my “Celebrating” badge since I just completed my graduate work the week before our trip.  My server noticed and after bringing our coffee, she came back with a dessert plate bearing three delicious truffles: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.  Boma’s has been one of our favorite restaurants for the last eleven years; however, this year, they went up in price a bit which makes a meal a bit pricey for us to be able to be able to keep it as a regular visit.  After tip, our dinner for two was about $90. 

After dinner, Steve and I needed to walk off some of the many calories we had consumed!
 The horseshoe curved veranda is inspired by the traditional African Kraal and is designed to view four different savannas filled with over 200 different animals and birds, including giraffe and zebra!  While the animals enjoyed their evening meal, lots of us enjoyed leaning against the fence watching the animals!

Over the next few days, I'll share Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom!
Till next time!
 Just had to show you the Tree of Life!
With a Happy Heart, 
Leigh Anne

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Have you ever just had “the can’t help-its?”  My grandmother (I think) coined this term when we grandkids just couldn’t stick with any activity and just kind of floated around the house.  Mind you, I believe this is the same type of behavior my grands exhibit when they state, “I’m bored.”  I learned early not to say out loud that I was bored!  My daddy had a treatment for boredom that one never wanted!  He would find some task or chore around the house or barn for the bored kid to complete!  Anyway, that has been my attitude this morning.  I have a TUIT list as long as my arm but to settle into doing the weekly chores and crossing off those tuit list tasks has just not happened this morning.  I don’t want to tackle that list so much that I’m now blogging about the “can’t help-its”.  Pretty bad, huh? 

I’ve been at odds with myself the last couple weeks because God has been moving me around again.  I was settling into a new job and it ended very abruptly.  I will say if one considers that not accepting a pastorship of a church due to conflicting doctrinal beliefs, then this termination is all my fault. In my defense, when I accepted the administrator’s position, the employers were asked if the church and the assisted living positions were connected.  I was assured a couple times that the two jobs were totally separate; however within about an hour of declining the pastorship, I was dismissed from my administrator’s position for this reason: “based on the lack of mutual agreement as to the terms of employment”.  Keep in mind, I had been working there full-time for a month prior.  One would have thought two full pay-periods collected would have been mutual agreement as to the terms of employment, but alas, in an At-will state, that is not the case.  Sorry for the expose’ but wanted to explain why I, who am never bored or have the “can’t help-its”, am at odds just a bit.   

So…. It appears that God is moving me around again, so I have more time to work on this blog, my writing, and more motivational speaking.  When God closes one door, He always has another one ready to open. 
This past weekend, Steve and I went bumming around and found the cutest little antique/craft mall with a tea room in the front entrance.  It never ceases to amaze me where one might find creative inspiration!  I haven’t been in the creative mode in quite a while but after browsing through the booths, the creative juices started to flow and my sense of Entrepreneurship rose!  I saw some wonderful pieces that just inspired me to no end and I plan to take inspiration from my adventure this weekend and open up my Esty store!  I have been a member with the idea of the Etsy store for years, but have never even put the first item in it.  Time is coming!

This is an extra little post for me this week.  I’ll post a more serious post later this week with the essential oil and herb introduction in it!  If you decide you want to explore some on your own with essential oils, please visit DoTerra Essential Oil website:

After writing, I did manage to do some laundry, knitting, and gave one of the dogs a much needed haircut!  Maybe Daddy's treatment for boredom works for the "can't help its" too!  Till next time...,

Hugs & Smiles!
                                                                      Leigh Anne

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

EMPs, Preppers, and other stuff....

I’ve been reading, listening and thinking… a very dangerous combination for me, I know! However, I listened to One Second After by William Forstchen, Ph.D. (2009). This book has so intrigued me and frightened me of the real possibility of an Electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack on our country. Although this book is a work of fiction, it is based on very real facts and scenarios. Mr. Forstchen states that EMP “is a rather unusual and frightening by-product when a nuclear bomb is detonated above the earth’s atmosphere” (Forstchen, 2008). There is no fallout from this particular nuclear attack since it is detonated up in the air; however, it just kills all electrical and electronic equipment. No more post-1965 Cars, TV, computers, bank systems, electrical appliances, and the list goes on…. This type of attack would shut down life as we in this country know it and set us back to lifestyles of the 1700s. This has really sparked quite a bit of conversation in our household about getting back to basics. The preppers have received a lot of smirks and eye-rolling as the “voices of doom”; however, there is a lot to consider if and when our country is attacked with EMP.

 Access to medicines, food sources, heat, and cooking will be gone except for non-electrical and non-electronic means. This brings me back to getting back to the basics. I am terrible at goal setting as you well know; however, I realize the importance of setting some very definite goals to prepare for such a disaster. First, educating ourselves in holistic medicines, such as essential oils, herbal remedies and teas; growing our own food and learning to recognize the safety and uses of native plants are the basic beginning of being prepared. I have long had a subtle interest in herbal and home remedies but this very real threat to life as we know it, has me really beginning to study and explore the holistic methods of old. Information must also be printed out in hardcopy since all information stored online or other means of electronic storage will be totally inaccessible should an EMP occur. The preppers really are thinking ahead when we consider that even our water supply would be gone unless we lived close to a lake, stream, river or ocean. Storing water is another smart idea since it is so crucial to our survival. I know this sounds very negative but it is a critical concern for all of us. We need to prepare ourselves for natural and manmade disasters by being as educated and aware of current happenings even though they are not in our own city, county or even country. I promise this blog is not going to turn into a political sounding board or the voice of doom but I do want all of us to be aware and prepared of what is a very real threat. We have to be able to keep life stitched together no matter what happens in our world!

 So, now let’s turn to some interesting tidbits about oils and herbs, then I’ll share some stitching stuff! I want to share one herb and one essential oil every post. I set a goal back in January to blog regularly and I’m very fair behind that goal! (I’ve already admitted to being bad about goals, remember?)

 I know we have all picked dandelions and blown their seedheads to make a wish, but dandelions have very real medicinal benefits to our bodies. Dandelions (Taraxacum Officinale) is rich in potassium and a natural diuretic. It also helps in detoxification and reducing stiffness in joints. Dandelions are also known for inducing the flow of bile from the liver; making it effective in treating cirrhosis of the liver. It has also been known to reduce serum cholesterol and uric acid in the body. European herbalists use it to treat diabetes, liver disease, and anemia. Dandelions have 7,000 units of Vitamin A, much higher than a carrot. The Chinese use the dandelion seed as an antibiotic for lung infections and breast cancer (Ritchason, 1995, p.71-72).

 Throughout the United States and Canada the dandelion is considered to be a weed; however, it is quite the useful plant for culinary and medicinal purposes. The Dandelion can be used in salads, soups, wine and teas. It can even be used as a coffee substitute. The Health Extremist website has several uses listed for it. You can find a link to the website in the references below. Be sure to explore and research all the wonderful recipes and ways to utilize this very common herb. Be sure not to use dandelions that have been treated with herbicides (Lownsberry, 2009). Dandelion is not just a weed anymore.

 Next up… Essential oil! The oil I would like to discuss today is Lavender! It is not just for your grandmother either!                                      
 Lavender is so versatile! It is best known for the relaxing effect on the body; however, it can be used to clean cuts, bruises, and even skin irritations. Lavender is a calming agent. Just inhaling the scent will calm your mind, but rubbing it on your feet, temples, or wrists will provide an immediate calming effect on your body. Use it this way next time you are going into the board room, flying, or need to get some sleep. Lavender is also effective for rowdy kids who need a nap! Smooth some lavender oil on their pillows and watch them slip into restful sleep. Lavender is also effective in stopping the itch and swelling of a bee-sting or insect bite. It is also great to reduce the pain due to a minor burn.  Mixing Lavender with coconut oil makes a great massage oil that is great for that neck and scapula! Lavender is also great to use in cooking! Try adding it into lemon chicken or your honey marinade next time you grill! (DoTerra Essential Oils)

 Now for some stitching! I’ve gotten a bit excited with my organization project of our little house because I finally have some storage space dedicated to my stitching supplies and tools! Yes, most of them have been unpacked.  I'll post more on my sewing room organization later!  In the meantime, I have three things on my knitting needles and crochet hook! One is a baby jacket, that I finished the yoke on last night. The pattern for this is on and is a freebie!

 The second is an entrelac scarf. I bought Entrelac by Rosemary Drysdale several years ago and had attempted it until the puppies made hay (I do mean literally!) of the pink and white project. I hadn’t thought about it much until someone shared a project on Knitting group on FB @ So now there is a group of us from the FB group having a KAL (knit along) using this pattern and video:
Free Entrelac Scarf Pattern:
 Free Entrelac Video Tutorial:

The third OTN (on the needles) project I have going is this cute little crochet baby owl. I’d show you pics of the work in progress but I just have completed his head and one ear; neither are stuffed yet! So for now ….
Designed by Little Muggles 

Lastly, I have finished Maddy's poncho and sent it off to her!  It was a free pattern but I did adjust it down to fit Maddy.  Click here link for the pattern.   

 Just a quick update on my home organization. It still isn’t! There has been some progress made but it is far from perfect! The Master’s will be finished this week so hopefully, I will be back on my goals: (1) house that is decorated, comfortable and organized; (2) Weekly menus; (3) regular blogging; (4) Writing; and (5) Being more creative! 

 Till next time!

 Hugs & Smiles, 

 Leigh Anne Haygood 


Doterra Essential Oils (n.d.). 101 Tried and Tested Uses. Retrieved from

Forstchen, W. (2008). “EMP 101” a basic primer & suggestions for preparedness. One second after: What is an EMP? Retrieved from 

Health Extremist. (2013). What to do with Dandelions. Retrieved from 

Kew Royal Botanical Gardens (n.d.) Taraxacum officinale (dandelion). Retrieved from 

Lownsberry, M. (2009). Yahoo Voices. Great Ways to Use Dandelion's as a Food Source: The Incredible Dandelion. Retrieved from

Ritchason, J.(1995).  The little herb encyclopedia.  Pleasant Grove, Utah:  Woodland Health Books.

Friday, January 04, 2013

2013 begins a new journey....

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
(Jas 1:22 NIV)

On a late note, I had such fun decorating the den and tree this year!  Due to life circumstances, this was the first time since 2009 we have decorated for Christmas!  The tree and mantel looked awesome!  Steve and I enjoyed celebrating our Savior’s birthday in a quiet way this year that created excitement and Christmas spirit at the same time.  We reconnected with some very dear friends over the holidays and received so many blessings from their stories since we last spoke. 

How’s your 2013 going so far?  I’ve gotten off to a very slooooow start!  We did the annual “honeymoon” vacation the week before Christmas, which I must say was lovely!  We spent Christmas at home, then last weekend and this weekend are the extended-family Christmases at each of our parents’ homes.  Lots of travel, not so much cleaning and de-cluttering.  In fact, I will confess the boxes are still stacked in the den.  We have managed to miss the last 2 weeks of trash pickup!  Yikes!  This past week, I’ve managed to come down with Sinusitis which involved three prescriptions with side effects consisting of nausea and dizziness.  This morning, the nausea started.  Wonderful.  I think God has ordered me to “be still” (Psalm 46:10 NIV) and “not merely listen”  (James 1:22) but do what the Word says.  Sounds so easy but is so difficult.  I’ve said for many years God will give me enough rope to tie myself up till I can’t be too busy to sit with Him, listen and then obey His Word and Will.  So today is devoted to being still, listening to His soft whisper and then acting on the instructions placed on my heart.  My first goal for 2013 is to spend more time in the armchair of my heavenly Father.  Being too busy certainly does cause me to neglect the most important relationship I have in my life.  Spending time in the Father’s chair is restful and I always come away feeling refreshed.

I totally detest New Year’s resolutions but I do need goals for my life.  Everyone needs goals!  Goals provide the foundation for work, creativity, and even fun!  Over the last several years, I’ve read several Organization self-help books.  David Allen, Neil Fiore, Peter Walsh, Sandra Felton, FlyLady, and Emilie Barnes have been my organizational resources since the early 1990s!  Scary, isn’t it?  I would like to become more organized in all areas of my life: spiritual, work, creative, and home, but feel accountability helps.  I’m going to begin my journey for 2013 to become more organized in my life areas.  I tend to be a procrastinator, a worrier, and a perfectionist.  Put all those characteristics in one body and the results equal one tired over-stressed woman.  Neil Fiore teaches that free time should be scheduled first in our calendar with all other commitments being scheduled around the free time for guilt-free fun.  While this might work in theory, I am my own worst critic and bestow enough guilt after the fun is over.  The house is still dirty; Notes for the next paper are lacking; I have client notes to type and creative time has slipped by again!  Why, I might have written the great American novel while I was walking with my husband or hitting that last thrift store.  See what I mean about dishing out the guilt?  I feel so guilty on the weekends when my overactive hubby “catches” me sitting down when he comes in from working on a project that I jump up from my chair to push something around in the kitchen.  Not restful. 

While all the previously mentioned authors have devised wonderful systems, I just can’t make them work.  I spend so much time in organizing a household control journal, or chore cards.  I could have cleaned a room in that amount of time!  Well, time to stop procrastinating… my goal is to work in one room in my house each week to organize and clean it thoroughly.  I’m not good at 15 minute increments so I need to allot a time segment of about 2 hours to really begin the project.  Since I’m working full time I’ll need to do most of my project on the weekend but only on Saturday.  Saturday also needs to contain some time allotted for fun!  I get so bogged down when fun and creativity are absent from my life completely! 

My third goal for this year is to write more.  This means I will be blogging here more (not promising a weekly blog, but that will be my goal by 2014).   I also have a couple book drafts that keep whispering my name. 

So now that I have three major goals in my life for the New Year, I’m going to stop for now; otherwise, I’ll start writing resolutions, such as losing weight, exercising more, reading a book a week, yada, yada, yada…. To be continued with my first steps towards my 2013 goals!

With a Happy Heart,

Leigh Anne Haygood