Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Following My Heart, Why I'm Retiring From Blogging.

This year I have some big changes coming. I'm "retiring" from blogging so I can spend more time pursuing my dream of becoming a working artist. I will be away from my computer and making messes in my studio. I have a solo exhibition, my very own art show this October at Lumin Art Studios in Tumalo, Oregon that I have been very busy getting ready for. I'm in the middle of figuring out what kind of art I want to be making again and it feels really good. All is well with my soul when I am making art and exploring my creative voice. 

I started this blog in 2008 with no idea of what I was getting into. Here is my very first post. This blog has been a wonderful place to share our art experiences with you for the past 6+ years and it has given me many gifts. I have been so touched by stories from my readers - mostly teachers and mothers like myself who have shared their stories and adorable photos of their kids making art with me. Cancer survivors who have reached out and been touched by my husband's story and the loss of one of my best friends, Lisa. I've made some great friends online and in real life through this blog project in other states and across the globe. I've been honored to work with some great companies and review some wonderful products. I've been welcomed into your classrooms and homes and love hearing stories of how you and your children spent time together enjoying my projects, art lessons, e-books, birthday party ideas, etc. Thank you. I've been able to print out hardbound books of my blog with Blog2Print and have a record of my children's childhoods and all of our crafty adventures -- the ultimate family memory scrapbook series. For all of that, I am thankful. 

I miss making my own art. 
I don't like sitting at the computer. 

I will still be here. 
I will still be making art with my kids. 
I will still be pinning away fun ideas on Pinterest  (love it!) and sharing our adventures on Instagram (love!) 
and occasionally Facebook (don't love it.) 
I will still be writing e-books on occasion and adding them to my site. 
I will still be writing craft articles for magazines and occasional websites. 
I will be making my own art again. 
I will allow myself time to do the things I miss like reading, running, and gardening that were replaced by hours spent blogging and watermarking photos. 

There are tons of fun projects and ideas buried in my archives. We redesigned the site to make it easier to navigate. Use the search bar at the very top, the tabs by category, or dig through my archives on that purple tab to find all kinds of goodies. This blog isn't going anywhere. It will still be here for you. 

I will come back again if I feel like I really need to share something fun with you, I promise. 
For now, I'm going to be in my studio, getting ready for my show. Hanging out with my family, sitting in the sun with my dogs, sipping tea with a good book, and digging in the dirt. Now, I'm going to step away from the computer. In the meantime, you can find me at my new website if you would like to see my art and follow my new journey! 


"We must become the change we want to see in the world." -Ghandi

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Taking Time For You: The Creative Process for Mom (or Dad, Grandma, Aunt, Babysitter, etc.)

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link, any sales from it help support my blog. All opinions are my own and the truth.

This post was first published on my blog in February of 2011 
and it is just as relevant today as it was then. 
Please enjoy and take it to heart. 
Take time for yourself, you are important. 

Circle Book by MaryLea Harris (2005)

I know that you think we're pretty artsy around here,and we are.
We make crafts and create little fun games and "lands" daily, but I considered myself
to be an "artist" before mommyhood and sometimes
feel like I don't get that creative studio time anymore to make my "own" art.

MaryLea at her Graduate Art Exhibit (2006)

Creating art is not something that I am able to do everyday
but I do spend a lot of time in my own head thinking through ideas; 
so that when I do get the chance, I can use my studio time productively. 

For me, making art requires self-discipline. 
After graduation, once I didn't have "scheduled" blocks of time
for art making, I've struggled to balance the demands of 
daily life, motherhood, a household to run, and content for this blog
with my own needs and desires to create.

E and MaryLea painting together (November, 2004)

"All children are artists
The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
-Pablo Picasso

As a child, I didn't need a scheduled block of time to make art. Why do I need it now? 

Because now I have this inner critic;
the mean voice inside my head that tears apart every idea that enters it...
You know that voice, right? 

The one that says things like:

"That's already been done before" 
"That was made better than whatever you'll come up with" and my usual suspect,
"Shouldn't you be doing constructive things with your time?"

Keeping a visual journal or sketchbook to jot down ideas, sketch, collage,
or make lists is very helpful for my process. 

Star Book by MaryLea Harris (2005)

I do a lot of brainstorming in the shower or while I'm driving --
Please Note: I don't jot down ideas or sketch while I'm doing either of these activities! 

A book that I have found to be very useful over the years
I turn to this book whenever I have artist's block 
or feel as though the creative well has run dry.
Some of her exercises may seem too self-help/touchy-feely
but I do find her main points to be quite helpful. 

Her second book, "The Vein of Gold"is nice 
but it is essentially just a rewritten version of her first book with more quotations. 

Here's my summary in case you don't want to buy the book:
Julia Cameron suggests the following activities
to bring about the artistic muse for any form of art
 e.g. writing, music, or the visual arts 
(I would add crafts to that as well!)

* Morning Pages *

3 pages written longhand of whatever comes to mind every morning 
when you first wake up. This can be challenging for mothers of young 
children especially if you're co-sleeping 
(I used to journal while nursing my babies 
and my handwriting looks like a serial killer's in those posts!)

If you are not a morning person and more of a night owl
(like me), I suggest doing this in the evening 
(or whatever time of day feels right for you -- naptime?).
It can be anything; I use it to empty out my head, to get ideas down on paper, 
and to work stuff out. I call it my "brain dump."

Sallie (BFF) and Darbs (SIL) (2010)

* Artist Dates *

"1 hour or longer block of time spent weekly on yourself
and with yourself doing something festive to engender release and inspiration."
 This can be a field trip to Walmart or JoAnne's to look at fabric,
a visit to an art gallery, listening to music at a coffee shop,
attending a poetry reading, browsing the library, or whatever gets you going.

I would add, as a mother of young children,
that date nights with the hubby (and some with girlfriends - your "tribe")
are pretty darn important too!

(my real life tribe 2010)

* Form a Creative Cluster *

I call this my "tribe"
A group that you meet with face-to-face, or on-line, 
or on the phone to serve as your creative support group.

I have my "real life" tribe (support network) of girlfriends
and my "on-line" tribe of bloggy girlfriends --
both groups are critical to my emotional and creative well-being.

This can just be two people,  it does not have to be a large group.
Think: book club, knitting group, craft night, coffee dates, walking partners, etc. 
This group will serve as your cheering section or the people you bounce ideas off of.

C and E, Oregon (2013)

* Walk (or Run) Daily - Get Outside *

A friend of mine once called this "walking your dog."
Even if you don't have one, you should get outside and "walk your dog"
everyday to clear out your head and get some fresh air (this is also great for fighting the blues). 
2014 Update: Now I have a real dog to walk - bonus!

This was easier to do when I was still in college and had to walk outside to get meals three times a day but now I find that I can go several days without leaving my home, office, studio, or car.
If you can take a 1-hour walk at least once a week,
that's great - as a busy mom I do mine on the weekend while hubby plays with our girls.

Julia Cameron suggests taking a "prayerful" walk once a week.
I call it a gratitude walk where you conscientiously list
 and vocalize your gratitude for everything about your life that you enjoy.
I also find that simple stretching (Yoga is great) 
and deep breathing/meditation can be very restorative.

I also enjoy gardening and doing this with my hands in the dirt when the weather cooperates!

Here are my own additions to the list:

Sunrise, Outer Banks North Carolina (2010)

*Get Enough Sleep* 

I aim for 7 hours a night and am a better mother for it.
It means less time spent in the evenings online and watching shows in the DVR, 
but by shutting down and going upstairs by 10pm,
I'm actually a pretty nice person during the day and I get a lot fewer colds than I used to!

Outer Banks, NC (2010)

* Decompress and Communicate *

Being home with small children is very isolating. 
It's rewarding but also very. hard. work.
It's strange to go all day without talking to anyone over two feet tall -- talking to your spouse
(or a friend, other mom, etc) is something that can easily be pushed to the back of the priority list.

If I don't unload my brain and talk to another grown-up
regularly, my brain gets too full and overwhelmed then I have a mini mental breakdown where I'm
crying and snapping at my kids. Nothing creative is going to happen when I'm like that.

Hubby and I try to skip turning on the TV a few nightsa week (we can't give it up completely)
 and just sit and talk to each other  (Shocking! I know!)
Frequently, we'll have a glass of our favorite red wine and just turn on some classical music. 

Denver (2010)

* Drink Enough Water * 

I really don't feel well when I skip this one...
As a girl who has a special gift for growing kidney stones, I can't stress this one enough.
I'll get through a day and realize the only thing I drank
was my cup of coffee and one sip of milk at dinner...
If you drink water daily your skin will be clearer, you'll have more energy, and you'll get fewer colds.

I'm also a fan of taking daily Probiotics and Vitamin D and essential oils.
(Florastor for me, Jarrow Formulas: Yum-Yum dophilus chewables from Whole Foods for the girls)

If you don't stay hydrated and rested, your brain
doesn't work at full speed and that inhibits your inner artist.

Painting by MaryLea (2006)

"The road to authentic art is through the discovery of yourself"
- Julia Cameron


 Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Art Bucket To-Do List Part 2: In case you need more ideas of ways to entertain your kids!

The girls and I made a second Summer Fun ART Bucket List. 
Here it is. If you need us, we'll be in the art studio, getting crafty! 

DIY Watercolor Art Garland for the studio or playroom idea came from here and here
Magazine Drawing idea here
Gorgeous family Rock painting inspiration from Alisa Burke here
Glass Plates for the school community garden idea here and great instructions here
Make a Mandala idea and template is here
Doily Dream catchers loveliness can be found here and for a big fun version check this one out! 
"I Am" collage idea here

Happy Summer Crafting! 
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Imaginative Play: Cardboard Box Machine #playmatters

Cardboard boxes are one of our favorite craft supplies for imaginative play. 
Between moving twice in the past 6 months and my husband's job building houses, 
we have access to a pretty steady stream of awesome cardboard boxes around here!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kitchen Counter Science: Baking Soda and Vinegar Glitter Bombs #kitchencounterscience

My 11 year old daughter, "E" made baking soda and vinegar baggy bombs at school as part of a science unit on liquids, solids, and gasses. It is a classic science project that can be found on numerous science project websites. She came home and wanted to make some with me and her sister. 
We decided as a group it would be more fun to add our own colorful, rainbow twist to the experiment and that is how our baking soda and vinegar glitter bombs were born! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Color Mixing Fun in the Bathtub!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post but it does contain Amazon Affiliate links. As always, all opinions are truthful and my own.

One of our favorite bath time activities is mixing colors and "potions" with colored water.
It's an oldie but goodie that has been going strong in our household for the past 11 years!

Monday, July 14, 2014


Hello Friends!
All of my EBOOKS are 50% off right now.
Keep the kiddos entertained for summer or start planning your new school year early!
Just enter the code: summer2014 
in the "Code" box on the ebook checkout button and you're good to go!
(This code is good through September 30, 2014.)

You can find my ebooks by clicking on the buttons on the right side of the blog
OR by clicking on the SHOP: Lesson Plans/EBOOKs button at the top of the blog! 

Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Invitation to Create: Oil Pastel with Black Paint Resist #invitationtocreate #creativitymatters #creativetable

On of our biggest summer inspirations from Rachelle Doorley's Tinkerlab book were her "Invitations" to Create. 
I love the way she sets up a table for her kids with inviting art materials to encourage them to sit down and create, explore, and tinker. I've set one of my summer goals on this concept, to set up a table in the art studio several times a week this summer presenting the girls with a new art medium to explore. It may be something they've worked with before, it may be something brand new. Some set ups will be quite simple, others may have a bit more to them. I plan to sit down with the girls and enjoy making and creating alongside them. 
It's good for our souls and is a fun way to bond with them now that they are a bit older and can sit longer and explore more complex art materials. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Beach Craft for Kids: Painting Seashells with Children

This post first appeared on my blog in 2009. Many of you weren't reading my blog then so I wanted to bring back this little gem from my archives. Enjoy!  Here is a link to the original post

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer ART Bucket List - Prevent Summer Break Boredom by Keeping Kids (and Parents) Entertained with Fun Art Projects and Activities!

We are officially one month into our summer vacation and trying to find the right balance of scheduled activities with enough downtime at home to keep everyone in our family sane and not go broke during summer break! 
The girls and I decided to come up with our own Summer ART Bucket List 
to have some artsy crafty fun (on a budget) to look forward to in the next few weeks. 
I thought I'd share our list with you in case you are looking for your own summer, artsy fun inspiration! 
As we knock projects off our list (in no particular order) 
I'll share photos here and on Instagram so you can see what we came up with! 
A couple of our projects are oldies but goodies (#1,3,4,6, and 10) 
and some of the projects are new, open-ended art experiences for our family to enjoy together. 

Here are links to some of our past projects if you're looking for inspiration to get started! 

 Note: We are planning to make these gazing balls and wish flags again for our school garden!

More Prayer Garden Flag Inspiration can be found here and here.
Start A Sketchbook Inspiration can be found here and here.
Carve a Stamp Inspiration and Instructions can be found here and here.
Cross Stitch Inspiration and Ideas can be found here (burlap mandala), here , here, and here.
Watercolor on Yupo idea here.
Make a Tunnel Book here,  here, and wonderful inspiration here.
Make Texture Papers for Collages here.

Happy Art Making! 
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Friday, June 27, 2014

4 Super FUN Patriotic Ideas to Celebrate the 4th of July or Canada Day Outdoors with Your Kids!

This post first appeared on my blog on July 2013, 
I'm sharing it again today because the ideas are still full of fun and
 a perfect way to kick off your summer memory making! 

Here are 4 quick and easy (F-U-N) ideas to entertain your kids outside 
this 4th of July or to celebrate Canada Day!
I bet you already have everything you need in your house!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rachelle Doorley's NEW "TinkerLab: A Hands-On Guide For Little Inventors" Book Review and Giveaway!

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I received a free copy of the "TinkerLab" book in exchange for sharing my opinions with you. As always, all opinions are my own and truthful. 

I am very honored to be participating in the TinkerLab book launch blog tour, 
sharing Rachelle Doorley's (of TinkerLab blog) wonderful new book with all of you! 
Rachelle and I have "known" each other as colleagues and fellow bloggers for many years now, I adore the activities she sets up with her own two daughters and always love getting little glimpses into her beautiful and creative home here on the West Coast. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

NEW Art Studio Tour!

Warning: Today's post is going to have a LOT of photos and I hope I don't crash your computer, tablet, or phone!

My family has moved not once but twice in the past seven months. 
First, we moved cross-country from Northern Virginia to Central Oregon at the end of October. 
Then, we moved across town to our forever home, built by my husband 
(and next door to my own parents!) last month in May. 
Now, we are putting down roots and settling in for the long haul. 
It feels good to know we will be here for a good, long while. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Making Popsicle Stick People and a Giveaway for the NEW Book from Holly Homer and Rachel Miller: 101 Kids Activities That Are The Bestest, Funnest, Ever!

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to share my opinions with you. 
As always, all opinions are my own and truthful. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen these adorable popsicle stick people
 my girls made. Both of my girls, ages 11 and 7 had a blast one afternoon making them. 
We found this super fun idea in the brand new book, 
by my colleagues and fellow bloggers, Holly Homer and Rachel Miller
the geniuses and driving forces behind The Kids Activities Blog

I was so excited when Holly and Rachel sent me a copy of their brand new book to review and get a sneak peek! You have a chance to win your own copy at the bottom of this post!
It is chock FULL of so many great ideas. It is a wonderful entertainment resource and solution for parents, grandparents, caregivers and babysitters! I handed the girls a stack of post it notes and let them mark all of the ideas they wanted to try, I think they marked 90% of the book! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dad-Friendly Craft: Make Garden Stepping Stones with Kids!

Before we start today's post, let me clarify that just because it says "Dad-Friendly" on the title of this project, it doesn't mean that moms, grandparents, neighbors, babysitters, and teachers can't do this craft with kids either!
I just called it "Dad-Friendly" because this was a project my husband enjoyed
making with our daughters years ago and they still talk about it to this day.
In fact, I think we need to make a new batch of stepping stones for our house here in Oregon. 

I first published this project on my blog back in August of 2009. Click here to read the original post.
Geoff and the girls spent a few days that summer having a "daddy camp" at home.
He set up fun crafts and activities for them to do together. 
They had a blast making memories to last a lifetime. It was great for mama too, to get a break 
from full-time summer vacation parenting and fit in with our budget-friendly stay-cation schedule. 
I wanted to share it with you again today in case it's something you missed 
and you'd like to make some with your own favorite kids! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Simple Fairy Garden for Kids #playmatters #fairygarden

For those of you who have been reading my blog for many years, you know we love to make fairy gardens. 
The girls have made various gardens indoors and out over the years. 
Some have been temporary, some have lasted for a summer, some have spanned a few years.
There is something so magical about creating a tiny world or miniature garden to explore. 
We left our big fairy garden behind in our Virginia backyard when we moved to Oregon this fall, I'm hoping the new owners will love it as much as my girls did, it was time for us to make a new fairy garden here
 as we make new memories and put down roots in our new home. 

The girls wanted to start some new fairy gardens this April but I knew we would be moving again
 at the end of May, so I wanted them to be transportable. I saw this self-watering planter at our local Walmart in the garden center and thought it would be perfect for this year's Fairy Garden. You may have seen it show up on Instagram over Easter weekend when we made this years' fairy gardens. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tween Craft: Squid Eraser Pencil Toppers

 Here is one more quick and easy tween craft to share with you today, also made entirely by my resident tween artist in residence, my now 11-year-old "E." She made these last year when she was 10 but I never got a chance to share them with you here on the blog. "E" loves all things squids and snails. She whipped these up one afternoon and I thought they were so clever. She has the best ideas, I'm sure you'll be reading her blog soon enough, I should just let her take over this one for me!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tween Craft: Paper Squid Origami Party Invitations

My resident, 11 year old "tween" daughter, "E" loves squids and ocean life. 
She hopes to study Marine Biology someday. She is also an artist and loves Origami. 
One of her favorite, go-to websites for Origami is Origami Club

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

PaddlePak by Trunki Water Resistant Backpack for Kids Review and Giveaway #LoveTrunki #sponsored #paddlepakUS #TrunkiUS

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.I received compensation for this post. As always, all opinions expressed are my own and truthful.

The girls and I squealed out loud when we opened our brand new 
Purple Octopus PaddlePak from our friends at Trunki. How cute is he?! We LOVE it!!! 

This ADORABLE water resistant backpack is THE perfect waterproof pack for kids. 
It is the perfect size backpack for kids to stuff in their wet swim suits, swim caps, goggles, pool toys, 
and damp towels! Bonus, it's so cute, they'll actually want to wear it and carry their own stuff. 
No more mom schlepping the gigantic pool bag!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Kid's Craft: How to Make Beautiful Flowers with Coffee Filters and Cupcake Liners

Tissue paper flowers are a classic childhood craft. 
We made our own flowers for C's recent Fairy Garden-themed birthday party with supplies we had in the house: coffee filters and cupcake liners. 
This colorful Spring craft would be perfect for Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, 
a Birthday Party, or Baby Shower celebration. 
They are so simple to make that preschoolers can make them 
but have enough wow factor that tweens can enjoy the project as well! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Child's Dish Garden Inspired by Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return #LegendsofOz #sponsored

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own and truthful.

My girls love the story of the Wizard of Oz and can't wait for the new movie, 
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return to come out in theaters on May 9th, 2014.
It is a 3-D animated musical based on the wonderful adventure books by Roger Stanton Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum. The movie is a continuation of one of the world's most popular and beloved fairy tales. Legends of Oz finds Dorothy (Lea Michele) waking to post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (Jim Belushi), the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and Glinda (Bernadette Peters) from a creepy and devious new villain, the Jester (Martin Short). I have to say that clowns and jesters completely creep me out so kudos to the folks at Oz for picking a good villain! 
New characters Wiser the Owl (Oliver Platt), Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), China Princess (Megan Hilty) and Tugg the Tugboat (Patrick Stewart) join Dorothy on her latest magical journey 
through the colorful landscape of Oz to restore order and happiness to the Emerald City.
Academy Award nominated singer/songwriter Bryan Adams wrote the songs for this family friendly-film. 

The girls and I loved China Country in the new movie, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. 
So, we used it as inspiration for our latest backyard fun project, a child's dish garden!

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