Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Holidays and Helping Hands...

The holidays are a great time to help those in need. We may all get swept up in amazing retail sales, sappy or silly Christmas movies, decorating to the nines, and planning out holiday meals. But there are so many people in our own communities who go without. Without food. Without money to buy their kids' presents. How can you keep the fun of Santa Claus going with your children when your bellies and wallets are empty?

Enter... us! Every year I volunteer at my local Salvation Army doing food drives and presents for the kids. I also lend my time to our local Portland Food Bank, aptly named... Sno Cap. It does my heart good to be able to help others in need. And you know what? Their gratitude is contagious! If you ever  got the holiday blues, a healthy dose of Volunteerism will cure you in a minute!

Whether you donate your time or donate your dollars, every little bit makes a difference. Uplifting souls is a pretty great gift to give this holiday season. And the best part? Your soul will be uplifted in the process. How great is that!

Happy Holidays! Ho, Ho, Hope!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Instructor Added to Portland! Introducing Rebekah Meier...

We are so very excited to announce the addition of one very talented instructor to our Portland Art & Soul roster... Rebekah Meier!

Rebekah is an established author, designer, and teacher in the mixed-media and fabric collage community. Her books, magazine features, and product development exemplify her signature style of combining fabrics and fibers into beautiful collage assemblages. Rebekah is the author of the best selling books, Fabric Art Collage, 40+ Mixed Media Techniques and More Fabric Art Collage

Here's what she's offering this Spring at our 2015 Portland event. Check out these lovely layered cloth and paper creations!

Collage Fabric Painting - Friday, March 6th 
Students will learn techniques to create their own custom designed fabric. Layering the applications of color, texture, design will be covered. Instruction will also be given on how to create foam stamps and using found objects for printing. The one of a kind designed fabric will then be used to create a no-sew wallet.

Students will create a canvas wall art collage. Techniques will be step by step, allowing students to build up textures and interesting designs. If you like ripping, peeling back layers, and random application of paint, then this class is for you.

Fiber Art Tapestry - Sunday, March 8th
Students will learn a layering technique that incorporates both fabric and paper. Each student will go home with a small sampler incorporating embroidery and lots of texture.

Pretty awesome stuff, huh!

Registration is now open for Portland Art & Soul 2015, as well as all of our 2015 events! For information and registration, visit our website at

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Give (or Get) the Gift of Creativity!

What could be better than to receive a Gift Certificate for any of our Art & Soul Retreats?!!

Whether you're interested in our Portland, Kansas City, or Virginia Beach mixed media events... we will  happily design a special magical retreat — just for you!! Have your loved ones email me directly at

P.S. We have something special happening for our next year's events! We are so very pleased to team up with Bernina as our preferred sponsor... and our 2015 retreats will have a special focus on fabric classes and sewing.  Check the website to see all the new and exciting classes!

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Would Walk 500 Miles (Well, Maybe Not)...

Next, we arrived in Nuremberg. A city built 1,000 years B.C. and almost completely destroyed by WWII.  There are a few original buildings remaining, but most were rebuilt after the war.  We took a tour of the Imperial Palace. As with all the castles, it was erected at the highest point of the city in order to watch for any intruders/enemies that may be approaching. As such, the roads inside are very steep; almost vertical. With all the walking, hiking and dancing that I have been doing, I found this journey the most difficult.

The cobblestones and steep angles really took a toll on my knee. I was having major difficulty walking down one very steep street and before long, I realized that the tour had ventured ahead of me and I was alone. I knew that many of our fellow travelers had train reservations and the bus would have to leave in order to accommodate their schedules. Fortunately, Addie had stayed on the bus during the tour and was able to text me immediately when the group arrived sans me. I found a coffee café and stayed put until they were able to come for me approx. one hour later.  It was an adventure, but not one I would like to repeat.  Next time, I will stay on the bus!  Castles are difficult to navigate in the best of conditions, let alone with a bad knee. Obviously, I will be visiting the orthopedic surgeon when I arrive home.

I love Bavaria.  My ancestors came from Switzerland and there is just something special about the overall look and feel of the architecture here.  Tuscany still has my heart, but I love the polka and an oompa band. Oh, and the beautiful gardens... It's amazing what grows here in November!

Thanks all, for coming along on this journey with me. It was fun having your company!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Czech, Please!

We left Austria in tour buses and drove to Cesky Krumlov, in the Czech Republic.  The scenery was spectacular and once again, we enjoyed the history of an ancient village.

They are still quite economically depressed, and prices were the most affordable of any of our stops. I had two glasses of Jameson, a plate of cheeses and a bottle of water for $14. I’d be lucky just to get the Jameson for that price at home. 

And speaking of lucky... you can't get any better than sharing this wonderful adventure with a good friend. Lucky indeed!

The cobblestones and hillside town reminded me so much of Italy. I cannot begin to imagine the difficulty in constructing these villages centuries ago. 

We left Czechoslovakia and drove to Passau, Bavaria to meet our ship.  Just as you would expect in Germany, it is a completely different style of housing and buildings. So, three countries in one day!

More soon...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Durnstein... Along the Danube

From Vienna we cruised to Durnstein, Austria which is the starting point of the Wachau region. Glorious in scenery and history.

It was in the Kuenringer Castle, whose ruins still overlook Dürnstein, that the English King Richard Lionheart was held prisoner.

The area is surrounded with steep hills that are vineyards.  How they get the grapes picked is a mystery to me. It looks as though it could only be traversed by goats.

They are also famous for apricots—which become schnapps and liquor.  Almost every store offered a sample and by the time we reached the end of the street, we were warm and toasty.

I am always warm and rarely wear a coat, so I didn’t bring one. Big mistake as it was freezing in Vienna and I was miserable.  In Durnstein, I found a small shop where the owner made felted coats and other items. With considerable help from fellow passengers, the PERFECT coat for me was selected. It is a unique cut/pattern and will be a great souvenir from this darling town.

As much land as this quaint little town took up.... the population is only around 600 people.

From every angle Durnstein really captured my heart.

I've never seen so many beautiful doors in my life. Such detailed craftsmanship.

From the big cities to this rural countryside, the history left behind never ceases to amaze me.

So many quaint shops that just blend right into the landscape.

Saw this on the promenade in Durnstein. Hilarious... The sign directs you to the Kondeteri. Looks like some kind of sculpture we'd teach at a workshop for Art & Soul!

From Durnstein, we cruised to Melk, Austria.  Another charming medieval village…but it did not capture my heart as did Durnstein.

See you soon... on to Cesky Krumlov!