Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Everyone says that twins have a special bond.  That they speak a language all their own.

Wonder what these babies are talking about?????

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I am so happy to let you guys know that Charlie is doing WONDERFUL.   

The medication has totally changed his life so far!  He is working as a line chef (he studied at Cordon Bleu to be a chef) at a very high end (interpret as ridiculously expensive) restaurant here in the Keys and loves it.  He is happier and healthier than I have seen him in YEARS.

God is GOOD to me and my child!  Your prayers have been heard and for that I will always be grateful!

Of course you can't help being cautious - just waiting for the shoe to fall - but he is determined that he is done with that life.  All I know is that I am living one day at a time and am enjoying seeing the clarity in my sons eyes... the strength in his gait... the sincerity of his smile.  Yes.... it's all good.


A couple of months ago I was looking through one of the many Somerset Magazines I devour every month and I came across Julie's glamor girls.  I had seen them before but for some reason I was drawn to them this time.   At the first Keys 4 Art we all taught a little something so I thought I would give this a whirl.  I emailed Julie and told her about the retreat and that I would like, with her blessing, to teach the girls her technique.  She wrote me back right away and not only answered all my questions but offered to come teach us!!!  Well, to make a long story short, she came!!   Voila!  Julie Nutting!!! Can you believe that????

I tend to get easily sidetracked don't I?????  On Wednesday morning we started with Julie's workshop.  Ingrid had been on her feet the entire day the day before and she really wanted to take Julie's workshop so on Wednesday we did the glamor girls.

Lillian Mederak (Canada), Linda Davis (my buddy from Key Largo) and Sarah Walker (Australia).

My New York chicks!!  Teri Flemal and Eileen Bellomo

The beautiful and talented Daisy Cooper from right here in Florida.

Gina Goodling (Portland), Sue Young (Ohio) and Marita Kovalik (Portland).

Julie brought me this beautiful canvas as a gift!!!  Lucky me!

Ingrid Dijkers with her glamor girl.

My sister Jacquie Valdespino.

The gorgeous and precocious Jennifer Rogers-Daniels from California.

The next day, Thursday, we had another workshop day with Ingrid to continue work on our fabulous journals.  Everyone was so into these journals! The day went by incredibly fast!

On Friday we all piled into two vans and drove two hours to The Paper Niche for a WONDERFUL class with one of my best friends BEATRIZ GUZMAN.

The class used Donna Downey's 6x12 canvas journal.  We learned unique techniques from Bea that were all her own!  We painted, glued, gesso-ed, rubbed on....  wonderful!

Both Lillian and Sarah had birthdays during our retreat and we celebrated them with a cake at The Paper Niche.  I had bought each of them a 7 Gypsies receipt holder and everyone made tags for each of them to put onto their receipt holder.  The tags were gorgeous and they were thrilled with their gifts.

Each of us had a paint tray with paint and water and ... well, I can't remember what else!  We dunked our canvas pages in this and let them dry.

How GREAT is this picture!!??

It was so great to spend time with Tracy!  We are in daily contact on line but had not seen each other personally since the Teesha Moore Play Retreat two years ago!

This is Jacquie.  One of the most wonderful women I have ever met!  She is an incredible attorney but her greatest asset is her ability to love unconditionally.  I am truly blessed to call her my friend.

Sarah had a little meltdown when we sang her happy birthday.  But like she said, they were "happy tears" so it's ok!

Beatriz and Sue working on Bea's unique techniques!

Linda with one of her gorgeous pages!  This was done with a Donna Downey stamp that was part of our package.

We were at the Paper Niche from about 9:30 am until 10:00 pm!!!  We were all exhausted but happy by the end of the night.  Then, of course, a two hour drive back to Key Largo!

Beatriz made this as a gift for me!  Yep, I am a lucky girl!!!  This is made with chipboard and .... ready for it?..... air conditioning tape!!!!  Bea taught us how to do it and everyone went home looking for air conditioning tape!

A closer look!

My wonderful friend Bea.  She is happiest when she is covered in paint!

Gina and Marita really enjoyed the canvas page dunking technique!!

Our entire group!  Yes, the clock reflects PM!!!  

One day left of this wonderful retreat!


My friend Jennifer Rogers-Daniels put this video on Facebook. I think it is AWESOME and wanted to share it!   My daughter Kristina is a teacher so I'm a LITTLE sensitive to this!!!

I am 50 years old and to this day am influenced by some wonderful teachers I had as a child.  Unfortunately they are not as appreciated as they should be.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I have received tons of emails (and I mean tons) regarding the Keys 4 Art retreat.  I am so thrilled that so many people find it as awesome as we do and would like to attend.

The Keys 4 Art retreat was born from a desire to meet "my girls".   I had hosted a few round robin journals (a never ending series of them actually) and the way I've done that is I initially invited about 12 women I had met online to participate in the first round robin journal (Through the Eyes of an Artist).  For every other journal after this one, I invited the same group of ladies.  If anyone decided they didn't want to participate in the next  project then I would invite someone else (from a group of ladies recommended by the group members).  Follow me?

Now, the ones invited to the Keys 4 Art are the ladies in my journals.  IF anyone decided they did not want to come, then that would leave a place open to invite someone else.  Last year I had 12 ladies invited - this year it was 16 which is the absolute maximum amount (remember this is hosted in my house!).  There are 16 because that has been the number of artists in our last journals.

So, basically, the only way to add someone new is if someone drops out and that has yet to happen.  I have never wanted to make this an "open" retreat.  The most beautiful part of it is that we are friends all year - connecting on a daily basis - and then get together for our big slumber party!

But I am so pleased that so many people feel this retreat is worth wanting to come to!!!  Thank you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


After our first night of partying I figured my sisters would SLEEP in a little!!! WRONG!!  My husband nudges me at 6:30 AM and says "I think those crazy ladies are awake already!".  Yep! They were!!!  They were already drinking coffee, catching up on the gossip and setting up their "play stations"!


 As a Zetti-addict and a fan of Teesha Moore's, I always loved Ingrid's work - it is "zetti-ish" without being zetti.  Know what I mean?  Anyway, one of the ladies in our retreat group, Sue Young, had taken a class with Ingrid and had suggested to me that I would really love her work.  Well, I went to her blog, perused her fabulous FABULOUS journals and Sue was right!  I totally fell in love with her work.

After emailing back and forth with Ingrid and coordinating dates for her to come and teach us, I suggested several of her journals to the group and we decided on OVER THE EDGE.  This was for a couple of reasons, mainly because it's just amazing, but also because our new round robin journal was all about working over the edge!   A no-brainer right!?

So, anyway, we started on Wednesday with the first day of Ingrid's workshop (there were two days total).  These are some of the pictures from that first day workshop:

When taking a workshop with Ingrid, I wasn't just impressed with her beautiful work  - but with her beautiful soul.  Ingrid is a quiet person (hell, I thought we had scared her off the first night!!!) but once she is comfortable with you she is a pleasure to be with!  Don't miss out on her classes if you are lucky enough to be able to take one!

Ingrid provided some beautiful collage sheets for us to work with.

Ingrid Dijkers.

My beautiful and talented friend Tracy was in her element with this beautiful project.

These are some of the wonderful pages from the Over the Edge project:

My new mentor!

Tomorrow.... Day 3 and Julie Nutting!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I didn't mean to scare you guys with the title to the last post! Charlie is doing FANTASTIC. He is done with detox and back home under the care of an addiction specialist for at least one year. This is the best addiction specialist in the country. The doctor is developing a long term plan for him to keep him straight and sober. He is very strong and determined to stay clean,

Thank you all so much for your prayers and for caring enough to ask!

-Posted from Elena's iPad

Real Life Sucks!

I am anxious to share the rest of the Keys 4 Art Retreat with you but, unfortunately, I do have to work!!! Be back!

-Posted from Elena's iPad

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


My sweet friend Lil was the first to arrive - from the North Pole!! Well, okay, from Canada - but ALMOST the North Pole!  She arrived on Friday.

Sunday at midnight Sarah arrived from Australia!!! Can you believe that???  Her first trip to the United States too.  I was so flattered she wanted to come to Key Largo to spend a few days with us!

This is Lil and Sarah when we picked Sarah up at the airport:

Sarah was EXUBERANT to be here and YES that is a smile on Lil's face!!!  LOL!  Sarah is so unbelievably sweet.  She is funny and happy and I am so glad to have spent time with her!
The following day - Monday - Sarah, Lil and I went to the airport to pick up Gina and Marita who came from Portland.  They are the two most amazing women!  Marita is a sweetie and Gina is absolutely hilarious.

Okay, so now it is Tuesday and the rest of tribe arrives!  Woo HOO!!!  We divide ourselves up - my daughter-in-law and I - and pick up from Miami International and Ft. Lauderdale International and voila!  They are all here!

This beautiful lady is Teri Flemal.  She is a "newbie" to our group and a joy!!  The first night I think she really was debating whether or not to take a taxi to the airport and fly back to New York!!! But she stuck with us and I am so glad she did!

Everyone made gifts for each other and gave them out as soon as they got to my house!

Daisy made me this WONDERFUL shadow box!  I had never met Daisy personally and fell in love with her instantly!  She is so talented - everything she did was gorgeous.

Gotta tell you that THIS was the hit of the retreat!!  Teri and Eileen sent me this coffee pot as a gift a few days before the retreat.  I am not sure if it was for them or me but I got to keep it so it's all good!

Val brought charm necklaces for everyone.  She spent Saturday teaching us to make these fun charms.  I don't wear necklaces so I used my charms for my journals and my printer's tray and they look spectacular!

The wonderfully talented Julie Nutting brought me one of her original works!!  If you have the chance to take a class with her - don't miss it!  She taught us how to do these fabulous glamour girls on Wednesday (we are not there yet!!!).

Our friend Sox was not able to join us.  She sent this WONDERFUL painting telling us how she would "love to be a fly on the wall" but since she wasn't - she sent the next best thing!  How cool is this?

Everyone brought presents for everyone else!  I will post them a little at time as they are all wonderful but too many for this one post!

I really wanted everyone to relax and just get ready for our wonderful teachers so after the gift exchange we had dinner and karaoke.  Jen made absolutely wonderful mango mojitos which everyone drank maybe a little too much of!  These are some of the pictures from Tuesday night (how FUN was this????):

Tracy, me and Ingrid Dijkers in my studio.  Ingrid is so unbelievably amazing!!  If you ever have a chance to take a class with her - don't miss out!

I love Eileen.  I am so grateful to have met her and to call her my friend!  Her and her New York accent just make my day!

Jen was the bartender and made WONDERFUL mango mojitos with fresh mangos.  She lives in California and her and Julie had not slept since the day before!

Julie Nutting and Ingrid Dijkers.  These ladies are so wonderful!  The first night I think we almost scared them away!

Of course we really are serious people in our real lives!!!

Karaoke fun!  

My soul sister Tracy and I.   I love this girl to pieces!  She is like the sister I never had.  She came all the way from Washington State!

And that ended day one - Tuesday.  Stay tuned for the rest of KEYS 4 ART 2011.