Monday, August 4, 2014

My accidental Monarch Project

About 3-4 weeks ago while shopping at my favorite place...Armstrong Nursery.
I purchase two yellow flowering bushes.
The sign above them said, "butterfly Lover"
Also purchased two butterfly bushes that day as well.

While Rob and I have consistently planted with intention,
our yard is full of flowering perennials which attract butterflies, humming birds, moths, bees, etc. 
With our pond and two other water sources in the yard, it is also teeming with birds, dragonflies and LOTS of lizards...oh and our resident bullfrogs we raise from purchased tadpoles.

But I had never seen this plant.  Asclepias  was on the label.

The next morning while having coffee, I noticed a striped caterpillar on it.
Hmmm...what is this?  I didn't know. Der.
Placing it in a container with holes on top, it went back to Armstrong with me to have them identify..."Friend or Foe".
Thrilled was I to find out it was a Monarch caterpillar and Milkweed was their host plant.
At that point I only found three on the plants and let them do their thing.

Next day, they were gone.  Found one dead on the ground being devoured by ants who LOVE the plants too.  I was heartbroken.

Monarch butterflies are endangered.  I've read so many articles on this fact.
Pesticide use in commercial farming is the main culprit, but I will go into my own personal experience with that at the end of this post. 

Next morning while having coffee, I examined the plants to find 12,  5 mm long babies.

Now to tackle the ant problem. 
We have long since abandoned pesticide in our yard and home, but ants are the exception,
using only ant killers that target ants.  We take great measures to target ants only. 
So we set about clearing our patio of these pests so the butterflies could not be bothered.

After doing some research online, we constructed a habitat by using an upside down mesh laundry hamper.  Seemed great, but I wanted to use the pot they were in for some planting.

Plus the other problem was a female monarch kept coming over to the enclosure wanting at the plants.  We'd lift the lid off to allow her access and watch her lay eggs.

Hmmmm.....bigger enclosure and more plants.
These plants aren't cheap either 9-10 bucks a pop.
My new enclosure is larger and on a table top.  I have containers of water under each table leg to create "Moats" too keep ants and other crawly bugs from getting up inside.
Happy I held onto the decorative mosquito net from Emily old room decor.  I knew it would come in handy for something.

Back to Armstrong we go.  Wanted plants both in and outside the keep the process going.  They were out of plants, but we overhead a lady say she saw some at Lowes
and she was told they were pesticide free.
Off to Lowes, but the 3 plants they had looked so stringy and horrid,  we passed.
They did have caterpillars on them, but 9 bucks each for stringy plants.
We left and went to Home Depot.  They had a few plants, by the grower Vigoro.  Not a single caterpillar or egg to be found.  Made me wonder if there was pesticide on those, so we passed.
Next morning, called to other stores, no back to the original Lowes.
Plants were moved to a cart off to the side.  Asking the sales guy, "are these sold?"
He replied, "nope, the vendor wanted to remove them since they looked so bad, but I told him he couldn't because of all of the caterpillars on them."
So we geeked out for about 10 minutes about Monarchs and he said he was clearancing them out and I could have them for 3 bucks each.  SWEET!
He was thrilled to hear about my little Monarch Nursery I was setting up.

So, now here is my new Monarch nursery.  At least 30 Caterpillars on 3 plants.  All at various stages of their development, called instars.

I have one plant on my hill, full of seed pods which we will let split and re-seed so there will be  more plants.
One plant is close to the enclosure for the multiple adult female monarchs in my yard, so they have a safe plant to lay eggs on.

Here is a link to my friend who also has a butterfly enclosure and check out the chrysalis'.

There is TONS of info on the web about Monarchs.  I encourage you to learn more...
if you want.

Now to tell you what we stopped using pesticides MANY years ago.
One time Rob was combatting ants and was using a typical home defense perimeter spray.
He got close to a large lantana bush and lavender bush and accidentally over sprayed.
Within hours, this is what lay on the ground...

Yes, I saved them their dead bodies, they are part of my nest collection and a reminder to us.
We have not used that stuff since.
The single wings I am going to use in an art project eventually.

Next bad pesticide...ROUNDUP.  Crab grass.  Rob was using it to kill crab grass and some got on a rose bush.  The part of the rose bush started growing really weird shaped flowers and disfigured leaves and eventually that part of the bush died.

Why the little lecture on Pesticide?

Seeing what it has done firsthand in my yard with wildlife and plants.
Do you really want to eat that stuff???

Bees are also endangered as are monarch.
Pesticides ARE to blame.  Do your own research as we have.
These pesticides are banned in Europe and most of the non corporate/government run world.
Do your part.  Whatever you can.  Boycott pesticides, buy organic, create an healthy environment in your yard.  Grow food not lawns.  No act is too small.

If we lose these pollinators, we have NO FOOD.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

"If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem"

I will be updating the status of my Monarch Project,  Please join me via 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The ULTIMATE Jewelry Display

Several Years ago, I had one of my wacky ideas to build a super cool Jewelry Display with a Vintage suit case.  Think Traveling salesman opens his Case, Wagon or coat and out pops all kids of wonderful items for sale (not a flasher girls, get your mind out of that gutter). ;-)    This was my vision and plan.

Looks like a normal vintage suitcase

To map out the interior of the suitcase was the biggest challenge.  Finding just the right size items to make them fit together and close.  Putting things on hinges, etc.  It took me a few months to gather the perfect items and with the help of my Honey, we assembled it. It was a big chore, but worth it!

I have used it at several shows, but it has sat since then, so I think it is time to part with it.  Hit me up if you are interested.  $250 and it is compact for traveling and Uber cool, if I don't say so myself.

Here is a shot of the case used at various venues.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Painting a Poem

A few years ago, I met a lovely lady named Cindy Craine at an event hosted by another lovely lady Kim Caldwell.  Cindy bought several of my art dolls and has since been an avid collector and customer of my work.  Several months ago she asked if I had any paintings for sale, which I did.  But we instead discussed a commission.  She could customize the piece to her liking in both subject matter and color.  To go with a certain decor or whatever her heart desired.   So, back in April, Cindy emailed me with an idea....She had written a poem and wondered if I thought it crazy to create a painting off of it!  Just my kind of Crazy!

I was thrilled.  Ironically, as a kid I spent hours in my own little make believe dream world, writing poems, reading, creating stories, drawing, painting, listening to music, sewing and making things out of whatever I had.  My first love is language and the written word.  Many times in my life, I have turned back to writing words for outing feelings, ideas, learning, comfort, solitude and entertainment. She too turns to writing for comfort.

Not knowing anything personal of her life, the poem revealed to me a bit of her struggle.  It referenced a health problem, so I asked and she told me of her Parkinson's disease.  This made creating a work for her even more special to me.  Her words moved me and made me cry on several occasions.  Creating a visual piece to communicate her Poem has been a truly amazing experience.  Here is her poem.
Down the Rabbit’s Hole

Shake rattle and roll
I fell down the rabbit’s hole
the rabbit was late
to open the gate
but alas he still may alter my state.
He said “follow me to the magical tea,
I have it here under this tree”.
I sat down in haste, 
oh how would it taste
this magical tea
made just for me
Would it cure my ill
without a pill
could this really be my day
to keep the shakes at bay
I took a sip then felt very odd
like walking into a cloud or even a bog
Then the shakes stood still 
like an oak on a hill
How long, I asked can I remain this way
the rabbit spoke with no delay
You have to stay here for the duration of life
this is your home now free of strife 
“But I have to return to show what you’ve done”
the rabbit smiled or was it the cat, 
looking for a bit if fun.
“You choose your fate” said the cat with a wink,
“I’ll give it in writing using invisable ink.”
Knowing my happiness was really not there
but not really here
should I return and do my little best
I’m too tired to think I need a rest.

I woke to trembles up and down 
like the shaking of the leaves as they fell on the ground
I was sorry to find the rabbit and cat
had long since gone
will they come back, I hope it’s not long...............

I wanted to find a way to not just visually interpret her words, but worked to incorporate some of the poem into the painting itself where I felt it fit. Not wanting to look at the piece and have the words dominate it, but to have them be a bit more subtle.

I love her relationship with the Rabbit.  With his wild cooky eyes
and laughing face, sloppily spilling a drop of tea like he is teasing her.

The oak leaves falling from the tree as referenced in her poem.  A background that is dreamlike.

Enter the Cat.
Cindy LOVES cats.
He too tempts her with his dangling timepiece.

This is a large painting, 48 x48.

This is by far, my favorite commission to date.

It has really made me realize how much I missed the aspect of mural painting in which the client and I collaborated on an idea which was then brought to fruition via my imagination and brush. 

But working from a poem has also inspired me.

Thank you Cindy for the honor of bringing your poem to life in a picture.
May it bring you a bit of peace and joy to look upon it
as it has done me while creating it. 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Here are the Dolls for my Doll a Month Class:

Miss Valentine was a previous class, but the other 5 sisters are part of 
"Doll a Month Class Series"
which begins this month on April 26th, Starting with
"Miss Mad-Hatress"

May 17th's class is
"Miss Marie"

June 21st is
"Miss Independence"

July 19th is
"Miss Kitty Witch"

and on August 16th is
"Miss Winter Wonderland"

Each class is $90 and held at my Home Studio in Alta Loma, CA.
All supplies are included except for a few tools I will ask you to bring.
You will learn a lot of techniques in this class, including:
Painting, sculpting, hand sewing, construction and 
many tried and true tricks I have developed over my
many years as an artist.

If you took this class before, we are doing these dolls a bit differently
than before.  I created a new process in which I like the outcome much better.

You can sign up for just ONE or all 5 classes.
Classes include a delicious home made lunch, dessert and assorted beverages.
(I have a payment plan so you don't have to pay for all of the classes up front)

Classes are non refundable but they are transferrable.
(If you sign up for one class only, you can transfer)
In the event of an emergency/illness and a student cannot attend, 
I will offer a kit to complete the doll at your leisure.

Won't you join us for a fun series of classes?
You will have a really fun set of dolls to display at the various Holidays or heck,
mine just might stay out all year!

Contact me at

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Doll a Month Class

Okay, Ladies.  After recouping from my last show and Spring Break.  I finally got to my Class Samples.  I've decided to Do a "Doll a Month"  for the next five months.  Each a specific Holiday or Theme.  This is because my Fall Show Schedule is going to be wild and there won't be time for many classes after August.  SO, if you took my Valentine doll class and loved it...Here is the Next doll for a class here in my Studio on Saturday, April 26th.

She is titled. 

"Little Miss Mad-Hatress" 

Wouldn't you like to join her for Tea???
This class is going to be a Mad Hatress Tea Party.
We are going to have soooo much fun!!!

Class will be held here in my home studio in Alta Loma, CA.

Class fee is $90.

I supply everything you need with the exception of a few items.
What you will need is included in my confirmation email upon
registration for the class.
(it's minimal)

Also included in my class is a pretty delicious Lunch, dessert and beverages.
(my Mother and I are pretty good cooks! ;-)

If you have taken this class for The Valentine doll,
I've changed things up a bit to make the doll look even more vintage.
You will learn a few new techniques this time
and with each upcoming doll class I will offer
a new technique for you to experience.

Here is a schedule and themes for the next 4 doll classes
if you want to mark your calender or join the waiting list:

May 17th - Marie Antoinette (cake themed)
June 21st - Miss America (4th of July themed)
July 19th - The Bewitched Kitty (Halloween)
August 16th - Let it Snow (Christmas)

I am currently working on these class samples and 
will post them soon.

Some of my students have expressed interest in taking all of these classes to create a 6 doll collection.
If you are a previous student, I have a plan for reserving spots for each class,
so you don't have to break your bank paying for all of them at once.

Email me at for more info!


Monday, March 24, 2014


So, way overdue in posting...blah, blah blah.  What ever happened to blogging????  Facebook, Pinterest and instagram have seriously kept me away!  ;-)

SO, HELLO!!!!  What has been happening in your part of the world????  I'd love to hear from you!

Well, here in Lisa-Land.  We've had the normal stuff.  Raising a 13 year old daughter <sigh>,
just finished doing Glitterfest (a bi-annual show I love).  Busted my butt working 12 hour days getting ready for Glitterfest.  Wore myself out so much, took me 5 days to recoup.  Also taking care of regular business, the house, dogs, Man, my middle son, garden, etc, etc.  Can you believe it is almost the end of MARCH????

Glittefest was good, a bit slower than usual for me, but still good.  A really good friend of mine came out from Arizona, Michelle Legler of Mosaic Cottage to do the show with me and we have a KILLER weekend!  Here are some pics of what I took to the show...

So, what's up next for me???

1) class prep - 1-2 classes per month through August.  Doll classes and some painting classes.
    Classes will be posted by the end of this week.

2) No shows until September.  Exhibiting in a local Art Sale early September, then Halloween and   Vine will be the end of September.  Can't wait!!! LOVE that show and incredibly excited to be going back! Plan is to do 2 shows per month from Sept-December.

3) The continuing De-stash of my studio.  I've retired from jewelry making unless it is something
    I sculpt and or paint.  Basically minis of my larger sculptures and painting. I am almost done   destashing , but threw some killer lots in my ebay store today.  About a dozen more lots to go up by week's end.  Link to my store...

Looking forward to continuing to work on my sculpted dolls and paintings....and a writing project that has been fermenting in my head for years.

Thanks for stopping by and see you soon somewhere in Social Media Land!


Monday, February 3, 2014


So, how was your Superbowl weekend?  I unfortunately, was sick.  First cold in longer than I can remember. Spent most of it on the couch watching movies.  9 to be exact, between Friday & Sunday night.  Wanna Know which ones?

The Butler (Oprah, Forrest Whitaker, etc.)  AWESOME film.  Great perspective. Sad times, not too long ago in the overall scheme of things.
Mona Lisa Smile (Julia Roberts)  Older film, but good.  See how far we've come as women, wow.
Dead Poets Society, Always a favorite.  Emily's first time seeing it,  "Oh captain, my captain"

Sunday was when the real movie marathon took place.  Should have called it a tea drinking marathon too. At least 10 cups of hot teas. Plus I chose films that took me to far away lands and times.

An Ideal Husband - Fun British film, Pride and predjudice-esque. A very good laugh. Good cast.
A Good Woman - Scarlet Johansen is darling.  Helen Hunt is good. Nicely done. Set in the 30's.
A Year By the Lake - another older film.  Vanessa Redgrave was lovely. Young Uma Thurman. Also set in the 30's.
Camilla - Jessica Tandy as a musician who finally follows her heart, Set in the 80's.
America's Sweethearts - Who doesn't love a movie with John Cusack in it?
The Muse -  This one was ok, (I was at the end of my movie watching patience)
Lastly was Blue Orchid - This is a newer film and yes, (we have family who works in the industry and once and a while we get to see oscar contenders at home)  OMYGOSH, Cate Blanchette should win an oscar for her performance.  Wow.


On Saturday, My honey helped re-do the corner of my studio where my desk is.  The lighting was bad, more like non existent.  While the Candelier was romantic, it was impractical.

So I bought a "vintage" 80's/90's brass chandelier at the thrift store for $20.  Spent $20 on glass shades and spray painted it a fabulous turquoise blue.  Very happy with it. Not to mention how much better lit this area is!

 My son built the shadow boxes for me a year and a half ago.  If you go to Glitterfest, you might have seen them.  People of course wanted to buy my displays, but since this was a trying time in my son's life, I didn't want to sell them.  I wanted to hold onto them in the event I lost him.

He is better now, but I am still happy I did not sell these boxes.   We removed the pink and aqua boxes from their bases.  Bases were used in the shelf (below) we built in my studio last year.

 The Marie Antoinette painting I did in 2008, Antler Girl on the right is a WIP.

Time to fill up the shelves and shadow boxes.   This is a really weird location.  Would be considered the dining room if I used the living/dining room like a normal person.  But what's normal anyway???

I'll be sure to share pics when they are all full of fun do dads!!!

Hope you had a nice super bowl weekend!