Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 17,549 Gratitude: Around Here

Around here, along with the telltale signs that autumn has finally arrived, creativity is afoot.  I'm excited to be a guest artist at Michelle Blades' and Brent Naughton's Open House and Art Studio Tour on Saturday, November 9 from 2:00-6:00 p.m.  I would love to see you there (524 Park Place Cincinnati, OH 45244)!  I'm lovingly wrapping gemstone beaded earrings in sterling silver wire and amulet-esque pendants in copper wire too.  I have another one or two offerings up my sleeve as well.  If you plan on stopping by, please contact me or email Michelle at
And speaking of Michelle, she is coaching me (and others) as part of the Sit to Fit program offered by Bob Roncker's Running Spot.  This training leads up to the Jingle Bell Run on December 14.  Over the course of this last year, my walking routine has been more miss than hit (thus more sit than fit).  I can't remember the last time that I tried to run.  But with Michelle's help, the group's support, and encouragement from family and friends, I look forward to giving it a good run.  Literally.
For showing up.  For saying yes.  I am so very grateful.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 17,547 Gratitude: The Return of Souper Sundays

In late 2010 and early 2011, I invited one and all to submit their favorite soup recipes for posting here on Jakk's Magic Beans Life.  With soup season once again upon us, I would love to bring back Souper Sundays so that we can raise our soup spoons together and share with each other in these chili, um, I mean, chilly weeks and months ahead.  Best of all, the chopping, sautéing, and ingredient tweaking that goes into the loving preparation of a hearty batch of soup absolutely counts as art-making for the given day, so please jump in and join me!

As an incentive, here are the recipes posted in the first go-round of Souper Sundays years ago:

Renda’s Cream of Jalapeno Soup - Katie Noah Gibson
Potato Soup - Tim VanSant
Lentil Soup - Night Owl Musings
Curried Carrot Soup - jakk
Tomato Soup - Katie Noah Gibson
Roasty Toasty Winter Soup - Jenna McGuiggan
Lentil Spinach Soup - jakk
Pop’s Chili - Katie Noah Gibson
Santa Fe Pumpkin Corn Chowder - Amy Bogard

If you have a soup recipe to submit for a future Souper Sunday post, here's how it works:

Please send it via e-mail to along with 1) a photo of the soup, you, you + the soup, or anything that captures the mood of the season and 2) a link to the blog or website to which you would like to be linked.

Souper Sundays will continue until your soupy submissions cease.  Hope to hear from you soon!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Interview with Amy Bogard -- Workshop in Taos 2014

Since 2011, Cincinnati artist, Amy Bogard, has been teaching an amazing Illuminated Sketchbook Journaling Workshop in Taos, New Mexico at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan House. She has just officially announced that the fourth annual workshop will be held June 15-20, 2014. An early registration discount is available until December 15, 2013. The registration deadline is March 15, 2014.

I have had the good fortune of attending this workshop each year it has been offered – most recently as Amy’s assistant with regard to matters of planning and logistics. But I clearly remember contemplating that initial workshop and whether it was right for me. I had a lot of questions before I decided to sign up. You may as well, which is why I am delighted to take this opportunity to interview Amy so that you can learn more about this wonderful opportunity.

Jakk: Hi Amy! Before we dive into talking about your 2014 Illuminated Sketchbook Journaling Workshop in Taos, can you share with those who haven’t had the opportunity to meet you a few things about yourself?

Amy: Hi Julie! Thanks for this opportunity to share a bit about what I do! I am an artist, first and foremost. Artists tend to look at and approach the world very differently than most folks and I enjoy sharing my view of the magic and mystery in this world through my work. Like many artists, I have a day-job that I love, a family too, so I am definitely one who cobbles an artful existence together in the midst of all of that. Oh, and I love my animals. Dogs especially.

Jakk: What inspired you to offer this travel workshop?

Amy: I've been keeping a journal of my thoughts, adventures and experiences, with little doodles included, for years! Over that time I was asked again and again to teach a class on how I approach the journaling process. So I developed an evening class to teach at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The travel based workshop was a natural and eventual extension of those original evening classes. When I travel my journals really come alive. The trick is bringing that back to the day do day upon returning home!

Jakk: What drew you to base this workshop in Taos?

Amy: I visited Taos with a Denver-based friend one year and it just felt right there. So much to take in in a rather small place.

Jakk: And why do you hold the workshop at Mabel Dodge Luhan House?

Amy: Mabel's is so rich with history, especially art history. Its beauty just beckons creativity. By the time we are finished with a week at Mabel's, we are fairly dripping with it!!

Jakk: Is previous art experience required? In other words, will sketchbook and/or journaling newbies feel left out or overwhelmed?

Amy: Not at all! My very favorite students are the ones who believe that they “can't draw a straight line” to which I answer, “straight lines are overrated.” Keeping an illuminated journal is about really learning to see as if you haven't seen before. I can teach anyone the basic drawing tools necessary to begin capturing what we see.

Jakk: Will experienced artists benefit from this workshop? If so, what should they expect?

Amy: Over the years I have had a few repeat students who come back time and again for this trip. It's my job to have new exercises to challenge their creativity. For 2014's workshop we will have opportunities for the more experienced students to critique their work and push the boundaries of what they are making as well as discuss their work within the framework of established artists.

Jakk: Aside from the arrival day on Sunday, June 15 and the departure day on Friday, June 20, what does a typical workshop day look like?

Amy: While there is plenty of free work time for students to spend with their journals, there are also core working times that we will spend as a group or subgroup during the workshop. These are structured around meal times. Part of the beauty of a workshop like this is the group dynamic that develops over the course of the week.

Jakk: Do students have to do everything that is on the class schedule each day?

Amy: Aside from the core class times when we are expected to be together for announcements, exercises and demonstrations, there is a fair amount of freedom to be had during the workshop. There is much to see and do in Taos and the surrounding areas. Opportunities for self-guided field trips are plentiful and these will feed into what we do as a group.

Jakk: How physically demanding is this experience? In other words, is there anything that someone with a chronic health issue or physical disability should be aware of before signing up?

Amy: Taos is considered “high desert.” It's situated at almost 7000 feet above sea level so altitude is definitely a factor to consider. The campus of Mabel's demands a fair amount of walking and much of that walking is on old-fashioned cobblestones and other uneven ground. My best advice would be to know your limits and respect them.

Jakk: Do you handle any of the travel arrangements for this trip?

Amy: Your workshop fee covers lodging during the workshop plus two meals (breakfast and lunch) a day. We will have folks hold off until March 15 to make any individual flight plans just to make sure we have the number of participants we need to hold the workshop. Once we get everyone signed up, we will create a virtual meeting space for participants to discuss their flight plans, sharing rental cars, etc.

Jakk: How about those with special dietary needs? Can Mabel’s accommodate these requests?

Amy: Yes, the staff at Mabel's is very accommodating! We just need to let them know ahead of time.

Jakk: How will you help students prepare before the trip/workshop?

Amy: I'll be doing some brief introductory videos for the very beginners that will discuss materials and give some basic at-home practice to work on. That will put people on a more level playing field. I'll also be introducing everyone to some of my favorite journaling artists by sharing websites and such via lead up emails. It's my hope that everyone will arrive primed with inspiration!

Jakk: Do the students need to bring their own supplies? If so, how will they know what to bring?

Amy: Yes, aside from a few secondary supplies that I will provide, students will need to bring their own sketchbook journal and watercolor, set along with some pens and pencils. I will provide guidance as to which ones to get. The great thing about this particular artistic practice is that you can toss your supplies in a small bag or backpack and go! It's not tremendously supply-driven. You can do so much just with a pencil and paper!

Jakk: What if someone wants to sign up for the workshop and bring their partner who doesn’t want to attend the workshop?

Amy: While I think everyone should sign up for the workshop and begin keeping their own travel journal (heck, my own husband keeps one of his outdoor adventures!), we do offer a companion rate for those who would rather do other things while in Taos. This means your spouse/ partner/friend would share your room and would take meals with the group.

Jakk: How does one go about registering for the workshop?

Amy: Just send me an email (!! Details can be found at We are offering an early bird discount. If you sign up before December 15th, you save $200.

Jakk: Thanks so much, Amy! Is there anything else that you would like to add before we close this interview?

Amy: Well I could go on and on and on about the magic that this process can create in a person's life. Traveling with a small book and a little set of watercolor paints is like no other travel. You will find yourself approaching all of your travels differently, slowing down to capture them in a way you never have before. When you even attempt to draw something you really get a sense of it, unlike you do with a camera. I can teach you how to draw what captivates you. Join us!!

Thanks again, Amy! I hope that you will consider joining us for this creative adventure. You can be assured that your personal journal practice will be forever changed, new friendships will be forged and you may fall in love with the richness of Taos in ways that you can’t yet imagine!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 17,536 Gratitude: The Fun in Furlough

I don't speak of it here, but I am a federal employee.  Ironically, I reached my 25 year anniversary as such immediately prior to the government shutdown.  It isn't easy being a civil servant, but I have always been proud it.  Being furloughed is frustrating and the uncertainty of it is daunting, but I have vowed to make the best of it, however long it may last.  This time off has granted me the opportunity to focus on my arts and do something I never have time to do.  Dabble. 

There is a lot to be said for this kind of spaciousness, especially at this time of year.  The trees are practically begging me to watch them change.  The sky has been almost too blue to bear.  My muse is coming around for tea with greater frequency.  She is encouraging me to make messes, the healthy kind, and see what needs to be cleaned up from fresh angles.  This time off is good in a priceless kind of way.

I avoid the news.  When it is time to go back, I will be notified.  My focus right now is on filling my creative cup, so that when it is time to return, I will have the good sense to restrain myself from giving it all of my energy and best moves.  For crystal clarity in realizing my true worth and the good sense to stop confusing my job with my real work in this world, which is the livelihood of me being me, I am so deeply grateful. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 17,534: Of Mountains and Mending

I'm back.  From Taos.  Again.  As much as one can come back from such a magical place.  I was just there in June to assist Amy Bogard with her Illuminated Sketchbook Journaling Workshop at Mabel Dodge Luhan House.  It was my third time in Taos for this wonderful offering, but this fourth visit was with my husband and purely for fun, relaxation, and celebration of my 48th birthday.  It was the very best present to introduce him to the desert southwest.  We were fortunate to have the opportunity to spend three of four nights at Mabel's ... not only at the Inn but in Mabel's own bedroom.  This historic property, built and run with love, is a home away from home and has a way of mending within me whatever may need it.    

During our stay, we basked in the hot springs at Ojo Caliente.  We fawned over llamas, alpacas and angora rabbits at the Taos Wool Festival.  We went on a photo safari for migrating tarantulas on West Rim Road.  We savored handcrafted beer, homemade taquitos and chatting up the locals at Taos Mesa Brewing.  We gazed, awestruck, at the spectacular blanket of stars in the expansive New Moon sky.  We packed in as much joy as could be squeezed into such a short visit.  And Taos Mountain, oh, that mountain, she hangs onto a piece of me until I can return.  So very grateful for this special trip with my partner on life's journey.  So very grateful to know that I will be back again next June.