August “Newspaper” Round Up

Rather than posting pictures of all the activities we have done this month around the “Newspaper” theme, I thought I would instead share this simple photo journal of our tiny home newspaper we created. We will definitely be doing this again, it was such a fun project. Watch for a second edition of Coons Delivery! Almost everything was done by the girls – from naming the paper, to choosing the stories, telling the stories (they dictated as I typed), to the layout and page design (with a little technical help from mama), the photographs, and the illustrations. Enjoy!

Here is a pdf of the finished paper so you can read their adorable stories:
The Coons Delivery

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. Click here to check out the original list of Newspaper ideas.IMG_6620




My Big 32 List

I have this little tradition I have been doing for my birthday for the last 10 years or so. Each year, I make a bucketlist of goals/activities to try for the following year. Their is one list item for each year old I turn. Some are silly, some are serious, but it’s always fun to look back on the previous years list and see what got accomplished. Yesterday was my 32nd birthday, so here is my Big 32 List:

(By the way, these are in no particular order)

1.Cook a live lobster 

2. Build a woodworking project from instructions (We have all the lumber to make this garden arch, just haven’t gotten around to building it!)

3.Visit Idaho (I’ve never been, so why not! And it looks lovely)

4.Keep running

5. Say “yes” to all those “Would you like to donate a $1 to……” questions.

6. Use my water bottle more. And try not to lose it on a monthly basis.

7. Apply for another mural – any suggestions anyone? Hutchinson, FOCO? And, could someone please help fund the Greeley Atlas/John Galt mural? I have a really cool design…

8. Watch movies for fun and ignore Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Sometimes I am too judgy of movies and I forget to just enjoy them.

9. Make a plan for a giant Art Prize piece. I love the challenge of coming up with an art piece that is of a monumental scale. Just what will it be…

10. Look at my phone less. Why is this so hard?

11. Read more books. Real books. With Paper. Not those versions on phones.  I have been working my way through this list.

12. Finish “Call of the Wild” – currently I have been reading one page in a setting and its like taking a sleeping pill. ZZZZZZ….

13. Read Animal Farm – I always try to add a classic to my list that I haven’t read before.

14. Spend more money to purchase the well crafted object rather than always going for the sale rack/cheap option. But be discerning.

15. Simplify. Get rid of clutter by asking is it beautiful? Is it useful? Does it add meaning? And if not, toss it.

16.Go on one hike every month – even in the winter. We have a book of Northern Colorado hikes, I’d love to use that as a starting place and discover some new favorites.

17. Be engaged with Lucy’s school and give it a chance. Be a present volunteer and part of the community.

18. Give panhandlers the benefit of the doubt and trust that what their signs say is true. Giving a few dollars here and there won’t hurt me at all.

19. Pay attention to what my kids desires and passions are and get excited alongside them.

20. Charge more. In a recent conversation with a business owner friend, I complained to feeling overwhelmed and feeling really behind on projects. His response was “Charge More.”

21. Fix all the curtains in our house. Emily Henderson’s post here was very illuminating.

22. Eat less meat and more vegetables. Maybe start with just making sure to have a veggie at every meal. Or Meatless Mondays. Sounds funny to have this on the list coming from me, an ex-vegetarian.

23. Try to eliminate cooking from anything that comes in a box or prepackaged. Mostly because I feel like it will save us a lot of money.

24. Sell all my wall calendars – I love how these projects turn out, but it is always hard to upfront the cost for printing and hope people like them.

25. Finish my children’s book illustration project I am currently in the middle of.

26. Take more personal spiritual journeys – hiking, runs, searching out quiet, eliminating technology, etc. Moments to reflect and refuel.

27. Have purposeful “yes” days with the kids. 

28. Drive less. 

29. Be open to boredom.

30. Search out and explore more wild spaces. 

31. Learn how to wire a light.

32. Drive the Poudre Canyon road during the peak of fall colors.

The Medals Ceremony: Thanking the Artists Involved with “Becoming”


There were many incredible artists who played on the new album, “Becoming”. These contributions took the record from my guitar/vocals/toys-from-the-basement sound to a lush recording that included stand-up bass, drums, more vocals, violins, guitars, trumpet, etc.

In order to thank them properly Betony and I wanted to do some sort of meaningful and creative celebration.

So we had a Medals Ceremony and Listening Party. It was so wonderful and we wanted to share pictures.

First we started with a homemade meal that had several courses. If any of you are ever invited to a dinner that my wife is making… drop everything. I know you like her paintings… well, she’s also an artist with food.

After the meal I put on the music from the Star Wars IV Throne Room Scene. It’s a triumphant fanfare and fits just how I feel about these musicians. They are heroes.

I presented them each with a vintage medal (most were from midwest music programs in the 80’s, where they did honors right).

As I gave their medals I said some silly lines about each of them. I’ll recount those here now! And, fair warning, they involve a lot of private jokes.

Mary Claxton (vocals, electric piano)
This aspiring female comic is also an amazing female drummer who masquerades as a female teacher during the day. (she also hates the adjective female)
Girl Woman: Mary Claxton

Brian Claxton (drums, marimba)
One of the best male drummers in Greeley, his playing is both tender and delicious, like slow-cooked brisket. Ladies and gentleman, Brian Claxton.

Hayden Farr (barri-saxophone)
Of all the Becoming musicians, I knew him least of all. But we had a beer together so now we’re best friends. Giants & Pilgrims rookie of the year recipient and the token saxophone player: Hayden Farr

Graham Bylsma (electric guitar)
This young man wins the “most easily mistaken for having just smoked weed” award cause he’s just so chill, is the best guitarist to ever have a bike stolen off of my front porch: Graham Bylsma

Melanie Haskins (violin)
Known for making the best lattes and having the loudest cannon-blast laugh of WELD County, the concert-iest of all Concert violinists: Melanie Haskins

Johnny Burroughs (vocals, guitar)
He’s Greeley’s most eligible bachelor eliciting desire from 12 to 85 year olds, he also wins the award of “most reminds me of Kanickie” from Grease: Johnny Burroughs

Wes Sam-Bruce (video director)
To quote 90’s classic The Addams Family: kitch… Down kitty!” Here’s the Macully Culkin of art! A boy wonder wonder boy: Wes Sam-Bruce

Craig Basarich (trumpet)
The sultan of slice, king of cheese, the colossus of crust, The pope of pizza, the padre of the pie, the great bambino! One of my best friends: Craig Bassarich

Bron Khan (bass)
He wasn’t able to come… so I didn’t write anything silly about him.

After these ridiculous intros and hand-shaking and photo-ops with their medals, we headed into the living room to hear the whole album while eating desert.

As I said, it was a magical night and I’m so thankful for these wonderful artists. I’m honored they would share their gift with Betony and I. They are one of the main reasons I’m so excited to share this album with you.

IMG_4712 IMG_6838   IMG_6843 IMG_6845 IMG_6852 IMG_6856 IMG_6857 IMG_6859 IMG_6863

2016 “Collection” Illustrated Wall Calendar is here!

If you remember, our June theme was “Collection”. One of the project we worked on was to make this calendar for 2016! And it is finished! You can purchase it here in our shop (or here at my etsy shop.)
Basically the idea is this, each beautiful page is made up tiny hand-illustrated drawings/paintings around a theme.
The months are printed on heavy high quality paper and are perforated to become 12×12 limited edition art prints to frame + keep.

So when you are finished using the calendar, you still have twelve lovely art prints!

I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the behind the scenes process of creating this.

It involved drawing LOTS of tiny little paintings
Here is a photo of the girls helping me on January’s rocks and gems.

The finished calendar was printed, bound, and perforated by Color Pro Print in Fort Collins. I think they did just an amazing job.
IMG_6337turning calendar page




Documenting Our Creative Process – A Photo Series

This post is part of an ongoing series we post every couple of weeks, sharing our journey as working artists. Sometimes it is good to take the veil off of the creative process and showcase how we get from A to Z. See some of the other posts here.

So many little aspiring musicians around here.


This creative mixer/master, the elusive Dave Wilton of Saint Ida’s studio, has been working his magic on our new “Becoming” album. I am almost giddy I am so excited about it.


Tim has been experimenting downstairs with a new creative venture. Notes, harmonies, layering….sound and smell aren’t that far apart.


We have been enjoying lots of Chalk art, especially in anticipation of one of our favorite Greeley, CO events, the Greeley Chalk a Lot on Sept. 12th.


While momma has been painting away on her own projects, Lucy hatched out this fluttery, neon butterfly.

I have slowly but surely been closeted away working on this new series of ours (“Becoming” will be an album AND art series). I truly can’t wait to share it with you all.
I love my little studio view of the Treehouse Village. This window also becomes a temporary landing page for collage pieces I haven’t yet incorporated but that are providing inspiration.  IMG_6387


August Ideas and Activities Around the Theme “Newspaper”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 3, Beatrice 10 months). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme.
Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

This one is going to be a little different. When I threw out the idea of “Newspaper” as a theme, my sister said “What?” But I love it because it has a lot of creative directions you can go.

Below is our comprehensive NEWSPAPER activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

Unless you count S’mores day (August 10th), there are no major holidays in August, which is actually kind of lovely. It makes August a month that isn’t defined by its holidays. It can be what you make it.

August Dates to Take Note of:

August 10th –S’mores day
August 2 – Sister Day
August 7 – National Lighthouse Day
August 12 – Vinyl Record Day (I love any excuse to get out our record player)

Local Greeley, CO events:

August 4-8 – High Plains Chautauqua – if you are in greeley and haven’t experienced this, it is a must
August 4 – Family Bike Ride
August 7 – Neighborhood Nights – Paddington Bear
Aug 14 – Neighborhood Nights -Big
August 22 – Agriculture Fest and Feast

List of Ideas and Inspiration for NEWSPAPER:

Each section of a newspaper lends itself well to all kids of activities. Try to do something for each category.


We are going to make our own newspaper – interviews, comics, stories, page layout, etc. – hopefully we will print a few and actually send it out to grandmas and friends.

I love this because it has lots of important elements –

Writing Stories – Who, What, When, Where, Why, How
Graphic Design
Taking Notes

I am not sure how exactly this will play out, but I am excited to give it space and just experiment with the idea and see where it takes us.

Maybe we will print some of it on our very own Printing Press



Do you remember reading the “Funny Pages” as kids? All sorts of great comic strips to dig in to.
Calvin and Hobbes

Far Side

And, if we are looking at comics, we should definitely try our hand and writing and illustrating our own comic strips.

I also want to be sure to find some Sunday paper comics to enjoy.

Take a tour of our the local paper

Take a look at old newspapers and how they are a little snapshot of history – like this cool one we found in our crawl space when we moved into our current house.


Make a fort out of rolled newspaper
Make newspaper beads
Weave newspaper baskets
Make paper boats and hats
Make something with paper mache  (there are some great fun animal tutorials where you start with a balloon)


Make some Newspaper fashion! (Their is a fabulous Project Runway unconventional episode where they have to use newspapers to make clothes)


The Greeley Tribune
The New York Times
USA Today

The Onion (grown ups)

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

Black and White by David Macaulay



It Happened One Night



Anybody remember The Mini Page?

Have fun reporting!

August Calendar Free Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

It is August! Sometimes I think this month is one of the most unnoticed months of all. The main thing it seems to be know for is “Back to School”. August doesn’t have any major holidays, it isn’t the beginning of a new season, it’s just not that memorable. But (and I might be slightly biased seeing as it’s my birthday month), I think August needs some new PR. Our theme for August is “Newspaper.” This month is going to be about Journalism, telling stories, noticing the little things, and all things “black-and-white-and-read-all-over”.  Enjoy!  For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen. For the desktop, click on the small thumbnail below to view the large size image. (Technically the first moon landing was July 20, 1969, but I wanted a little collection of feel good articles and clippings for August, and come on, it’s the moon!)

By the way, on a fun little note, we found the “Moon is Won” newspaper in the crawl space of our house when we moved in.

High Resolution Desktop Wallpaper:
August 2015 desktop

Two choices for iPhone Wallpaper:

iphone august_phone