Natalynn and Jack

I almost forgot to post these two portraits I finished of my nephew’s children.  I’m trying to see if I can finish doing all of the children in the family, just to do it and say I did it.  Hey, it’s great practice,too!

I do love the way these two came out.  I’ll never understand it, but I always get to a point in a painting where I feel like it’s just not working. I’ll just keep at it, change things, add color, erase things, add shading…..  and then suddenly it transforms into a beautiful finished piece. I still look at pieces I’ve done from long ago and wonder how I ever did them. I didn’t have all the access to instructional videos then, or anything! It was just library books, then!

But anyway, here they are..Natalynn and Jack…two pastel portraits.






Natalie’s reference photo


Jack’t reference photo

My Own Personal Glitter House

Here is a Picture of my own personal glitter house.  I replicated the home I lived at for almost 13 years in the 1970’s to early 1980’s.  I was in my early teens and lived there until I was 24, and my mother and father were still living.  Christmas was always a wonderful time as my mother loved to decorate this house to the brim on the inside, while my father took care of the window boxes and wreaths or lights on the outside.

Since my parents have passed on, I felt the need to “have” something to remember this time and their presence, as I felt a sadness or emptiness, especially at Christmas.  This house was somewhat of an extension of them and the way it was designed with that great peak out in the front, just gave it it’s own personality. Years later,  I would still drive by this house just to stare and remember the great times we had here.  A picture just was not enough.

I had seen these pictures of glitter houses that people made for christmas in all shapes and sizes, and instantly wanted to try and make one, and that’s when it hit me.  I will make a glitter house of the house we had the best memories in.  I found a photo and just got to work.  I looked up how they made the plans, glued it to the base, adding snow-tex snow, etc. And somehow, I ended up with what you see here, although I have yet to add the glitter. Now,  I can turn this little house on and feel as if I could walk right up to that door and be welcomed in.  I now can say I finally feel peace at Christmas and feel as if we are all together again.  This took some time, but it was just so worth it!





My Creative Ways for Paying for College

Yep…I’m in a panic right now.  My last child (I have 2 others in RI College right now) is going to graduate from High School next year, and we are doing the campus tour thing, the scholarship search, the essay writing, the SATs and the ACTs, the application process “cough”, “cough”!  I can’t stand it.  My head is spinning! The deadlines and the tuition costs…are you serious????  You’ve gotta be kidding me.

Anyway, this whole stressful process has lead me to try and find  “creative”  (and also “quick”) ways to pay for the steep tuitions for some of these colleges…and this is what I came up with…

1. I will come up with a song and perform it with either Pitbull or Eminem (doesn’t matter) and the song will probably be nonsense but it will have a great beat and include the phrases, “Put your hands up in the air”, “Drop it to the floor”, or “In the club” .  It will be an instant hit and I can reap the instant benefits.  Cha-ching…next…

2. I will start my own reality show and I will share with everyone my sweet, mean and maybe even my sexy side.  I will then go on free trips to Hawaii , the Bahamas, The Grand Canyon (“cough”..again ) wherever, just to have an interesting show ( and so you can see me in my bathing suit) and whine about the smallest thing.  Since we are really kind of boring, we’ll have to come up with some really cool adventures.  Maybe I’ll get pregnant again and have 9 kids at once…wait..I can’t…I forgot I had a partial hysterectomy.  Okay…okay, I’ll adopt 9 kids…whatever.  cha-ching…Next…

3. Maybe I’ll get my 3 kids to do a show called “Teens in Tiaras”  Well, maybe not my son, although this could prove to be interesting.  I can be pushy and nag and drag these kids all over creation and make  them “work it!”.  Oh boy, the trophy’s I’ll have.  And I’ll be on Oprah, or Dr. Drew 😦 cha..cha..ching …next…

4. I will try and come up with an original cute, catchy song about  a day of the week that I love…like Wednesday.  Yes, I will call it “Wacky Wednesday”, and I will have a cheap video to go along with it, but who cares, after I do this and put it on “You Tube”, I will  have millions of views and be very popular, HaHaHa!!!.  I will then again reap the benefits for every show I appear on after this…even though everyone will probably think  I am “wacky”.  Double cha-ching…next…

5.  I will start my own fashion line.  (I really can’t think beyond sneakers and jeans though)…

6.  I will start my own fragrance line. (I was thinking something like…Donut shop smells.  They are really popular right?  I know guys would go crazy over this!  cha-chingaling… And last…

7.  If all else fails, I will grab my grandparents, or someone else’s, and have them play with my webcam and act innocent and cute, look at their wrinkles and laugh… and again…get millions of views after I put it on “You Tube”.  Then, I will see you on Leno’s show because they were “my” grandparents after all, thank you very much.  Cha-ching…cha-ching.  I can hear it…do you hear it????  Money for college.

Wait a minute…what is that commotion in my sons room?  Let me check…………………………………………………Oh for goodness sake, he’s  recording himself lip synching to songs again on the computer and acting all weird.  What does he think is going to happen by doing that anyway…geesh!

Anyway, I’ve got some dreams to pursue and money to make.  Wish me well!

Kelsey….you’re going to Harvard!!!  cha-ching!!!!!    😉

I Wish John-Boy Walton Was My Older Brother

I don’t know what it is about the Walton’s tv show, but to this day, when I watch the show, I am oblivious to anything going on around me.  The only thing that startles me to reality (unfortunately) is the commercials!  I loved the show in the 70’s when family shows were all the rage, and I wish they still were.  TV shows today are so outrageous that I can’t even compare them to the more meaningful ones from the 70’s.  I mean, I know they all weren’t the best, but at least we had something!

When I watch the Walton’s today, a  strange sense of calm comes over me.  A feeling of being less stressed in a simpler time.

Almost the way I felt growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, before technology went crazy. I liked coming home from school and relaxing before doing homework, leaving the stresses of the day behind me and not having to see my classmates until the next day.  Not with facebook!  It’s in front of you 24/7.  That would have driven me insane.  And the bullies that harassed me by day, I’m sure would have found me on facebook.  No thank you!  I  also loved my “one and only”  rotary phone, to “TALK” to someone…not text or e-mail and  somehow try to figure out if the words in the text were meant to be sarcastic or mean in any way.  We worked out many problems and disagreements over the phone! OOOps, I’m sorry, I’m getting off the subject…I wanted to talk about John-Boy Walton…my hero.

Like I said, I loved watching the Walton’s and how they solved their own family problems, ate together at mealtimes with Grandma and Grandpa, and even took in strangers with difficult hardships  and fixed their problems, too. They just took life as it came with all it’s different experiences and learned from them, together.  Always together. It sounds silly, but I always came away from  the show feeling satisfied, like I could survive the next day’s troubles  all because of how I felt inside after watching the show for an hour.

Now, I  do have an older sister and our relationship reminded me so much of the relationship between Mary-Ellen  and Erin. The little spats and also the sisterly love.  I  also have 3 younger brothers, but I had always wished for an older brother. An older brother who would protect me from the cold, harsh world and show me right from wrong, without getting mom or dad involved. Someone I could go to for all kinds of advice and know that he would always be there for me if things didn’t quite go my way.  I’m sure he would’ve somehow made me feel like the sun would surely shine again in the morning.  It would all be okay.  And yes, he would’ve been a writer and write poems and share them with me. Poems about love and romance and life in general.  Of course, I would appreciate that, because I am an artist and write poetry, too. Yes, that was John-Boy.

Ahhh…it is nice to dream…

But I have always loved John-Boy, or Richard Thomas, since he played the part, and I think he would think it was funny  that there is still women out there that have secretly admired him all these years.  He  just looks like he is a very nice person to get to know.  I never read anything bad about him.  He just looks like a pleasant, very nice person.

Flashback:   One day on our Honeymoon in Washington DC ( in 1985 ), my husband and I were at this very nice restaurant.  As we were eating, my husband told me that Richard Thomas had just walked in.  I did not believe him! But it was him!!! He and another actor were starring on a stage production nearby and they were eating out together.  He was only tables away from me!!!Oh my God!  I’m thinking…… he will think I am stupid…no.  I really would have loved to go over to him and tell him how much I loved his work, but I probably would have drooled instead, so nevermind.  I still remember what he was wearing and how he just strolled in like he was my next door neighbor.  Unbelievable.

Anyway, that’s my story.  Now you know my secret crush, oh well.  I’ve held it in for so long, it just had to come out someday.

So if you ever happen to see Richard Thomas in your travels, let me know,and see if you can’t get that extra autograph for me, ok???  🙂

Goodnight John-Boy!


Richard Thomas

For All The Fathers Present, Past and Father’s Yet To Be

This post is about fathers and how important they are in our lives.

There is something to be said about the father figure in the home. To me, as a child, I think I would have been more fearful without that certain quiet, strength my father seemed to emanate just being in the  same room with him.  Sure my mother made us feel safe, to an extent, but there was something more with my father.  I always felt more at ease.

My father was strong when he needed to be, and he disciplined us when we needed that,  too. But he was also gentle, especially  with his daughters.  As kids, we knew what we could get away with with our Mom, but we knew we had to tow the line with Dad.  And we all knew when my father came home from work…it was like a change in the weather.  You could feel it.  It was back to business.  Things were more serious.  Don’t get me wrong, he was a funny man and made us laugh plenty of times with his little antics and jokes, and that’s what made him so lovable.  He knew where to draw the line.  He was everything rolled into one and just made things feel more stable when he was  at home.

As a grandfather,he loved his grandkids.  He was like a big kid himself, making them laugh and teasing them. You know, the typical “pull my finger” and all that. He also loved holding them and making a big deal of  them.  I remember one day not long after my mother passed away,  dropping off my 4 year old daughter with him to help him keep his mind off things. He really enjoyed spending time with her, and he seemed so comfortable and at ease with her.  Nothing special, they just spent time outside raking leaves, played a bit and even had a snack together. It wasn’t  like watching baseball on television I’m sure, but he was definitely in heaven, and I don’t think he even wanted her to leave that day. My dad…he was just an awesome grandfather!

Now my husband, as a father, is the same in our household.  Everything takes on a more serious note when he is home.  He is definitely a strong presence.  When the kids were younger, he would play with them and help them with homework, but as far as discipline, all he had to do  was raise his voice a decibel, and they would take notice. If they got out of line while he was at work, he was good for that typical Mom statement, “Wait ’til your father gets home!”  It always worked, too!  They would think about that line and suddenly, the bad behavior would come to a complete halt. Funny!  The kids, now in their teens, know they can’t get away with much, and God forgive them if they disrespect me. All hell breaks loose!  He will listen to them and help them, but he never lets them wimp out on something, where I might  tend to give in. Together , I think we are a good match as I sometimes remind him when he needs to be softer with the kids, and he reminds me when to be stronger with them. It’s a  good balance.

When I was growing up, I remember I wanted the perfect Dad.  A dad like Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon) or John Walton (Ralph Waite) on the Walton’s. I admired them so much and how they fixed all the family’s problems and grew from each one and  also realized their own weaknesses , but remaining the steady rock in the household. But that is Hollywood and this is real, and no one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes and we have to understand that, as long as the lesson is learned from those mistakes is what really matters.

In my eyes, my Dad was perfect and I will always remember him fondly.  I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  Well, maybe just a few more hugs and “I love You’s”, but that’s ok.  He made up for that in his last years as he realized how short life can be, and he said it to us all the time.  I thank him for that.

So keep up the good work all you Dads, and to Dads that are yet to be.  Your strength, as well as your gentleness and understanding is needed, and I know it shapes the children into what they  become and ever hope to be. It can be a very big responsibility!  You don’t know it, but you are a rock in this scary place, this world we live in today, and I’m sure you are and/or will be, “perfect” in your own family’s eyes. Happy Father’s Day!

My father-in-law with my daughter, Kelsey. She’s admiring his sips of lemonade..ahhh!

My son,Patrick (around 1992) walking with his Dad. I think this picture says it all,

Today, Kelsey with her Dad. Just perfect!

Best Friends Are Like Four Leaf Clovers

Hello again.

Since my married name is McNulty, and my single name was Riley, and today is St. Patrick’s Day….I need to write a blog that has something to do with St. Patrick’s Day, right?

Well, if not only about St. Patrick’s Day, I can write about the illustration here I did awhile back with a quote about four leaf clovers, which I believe totally.

Friends are sure hard to find, especially the ones that stick by you.  Through the bad times as well as the good.  I just know you really need friends, especially when you are younger.  I am 50 and I may have one friend, but plenty of family members on my husbands side that I could call my friends.  That seems to happen as you get older, friends don’t seem so abundant anymore.  Everyone is doing their own thing or live far away. But that’s ok, family is a good substitute.  At least they can’t really run out on you.  I also have an older sister in my own family that is like my best friend, I wouldn’t change that for anything either.  She knows me the best.  When we were growing up, we shared everything, and that made life seem so much more bearable. Boyfriend troubles, family arguments, money issues, feelings…you name it.  All the tough times seem easier to deal with if you have a close friend.

My husband is like my best friend, also.  I can tell him anything.  I would feel lost if I didn’t have my husband to share with.  You definitely need someone you can call friend. Someone. Anyone.  Even Rover, your dog.  I don’t care.  If they make you feel better…they’re a friend. In my book anyway.

Okay, now getting back to St. Patrick’s Day…who’s having corned beef and cabbage…say “I”.  Who’s having irish soda bread…and maybe some drinks :)???

The only part about corned beef and cabbage is finding a decent package of corned beef that doesn’t have a chock full of fat on it and that  doesn’t cost something like a gold nugget!!!!  Come on…you need to buy 4 of those packages just to make a meal for 4…they shrink when you cook them too, like cotton in the hot wash…holy cow!!!  I always panic when I have a table full of people waiting on my corned beef and I take it out of the oven and it looks like the size of a meatball!  Talk about cutting your slices thin!  Thank God for potatoes and soda bread!  Let’s hope your sitting among good friends and loving family members so they don’t make fun of your “tiny” meat.  Hopefully they will have few drinks by then..and no one will notice anyway!

Well, go and have a good St. Patrick’s Day…and think of me at dinner…friend:).

(Also, to plug a good movie about the Irish..”.The Devil’s Own ” with Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford. A little violent, but more of an Irish feel.  Good story.)Enjoy!

Best Friends Are LIke Four Leaf Clovers

“Legends Of The Fall” Movie

This movie is unforgettable, especially if you are a Brad Pitt fan.  This is one of his better movies I think, along with “Meet Joe Black”, and the powerful “A River Runs Through It”.  There is just something very intriguing about him when he plays characters such as these.  They are all so masculine, but there is also a sensitivity and vulnerability to each one as well.  No one else could have played  these characters better than Brad Pitt, except for maybe the late James Dean, whom he reminds me of so much in these roles.

This is the  storyline:

Set in the Rocky Mountains of Montana in the early 1900s, this is a tale of love, betrayal, and brotherhood. After being discharged, Colonel Ludlow decides to raise his three sons in the wilds of Montana, where they can grow up away from the government and society he has learned to dispise. The three brothers mature and seem to have an unbreakable bond, until Susanna enters their lives. When Samuel, the youngest of the three, returns from college he brings with him his beautiful fiance, Susanna. The eldest son, Alfred, soon finds himself in love with his brother’s fiance, and things get worse when he discovers a growing passion between Susanna and Tristan. Colonel Ludlow’s favorite son, Tristan is willful and as wild as the mountains. As the brothers set out to fight a war in Europe, suspicion and jelousy threatens to tear apart their once indestructable bond.

A wonderful movie  that will stay with you, not only for the great characters and  it’s story,  but with it’s captivating scenery  as well.

Here is the trailer:  

Legends Of The Fall Movie

Another Trip to Pennsylvania

Amish Buggy

Amish Family

The freaky 111 door

Well, my family and I came back last Saturday from a week in Lancaster, Pa.  We stayed at the Bird-In-Hand Family Inn, like we have done may times before.  As many times as we have gone, we always see something new and still love the familiar things as well.  It’s like home away from home.

We’ve been coming to Pa. now since the kids were small, and my husband and I, even before that.  I guess in total, about 25 years.  We would skip some years in between, but this last time was the longest stretch yet.  We went last in 2005, so it was 5 years we hadn’t gone-and it killed me.  There was too much going on with school and such, and the kids had lost interest , as they were now in their teen years.  But just last year, the kids started saying they missed it and wanted to go back.  I put it together,  the kids got their work schedules figured out, and we all went together. It was great.

Just to see what has changed and what hasn’t, was interesting enough.  Also, the Amish family (Christ and Katie Stoltzfus) we had made friends with since our first visit there,  had lost their granddaughter in the Nickel Mines shooting in 2006, and I hadn’t seen them since that time.  When we went to their farm(I wrote Katie and her family that we were coming), I didn’t know what to expect.  She turned and saw me as I entered her quilt shop and gave me a hug, and she hadn’t changed a bit.  Her daughter, Kathryn, who became pen pals with my daughters, was now 20 years old. We knew her  since she was 12 or 13.  Over the years, we went to her school and were guests, gone to dinner with the family, and even had dinner in their home. It was so nice and they were very friendly.  I was hoping the shooting didn’t change things.  Katie seemed to study me a lot more when I talked, but she was the same.  She had put together a cookbook and had a memorial made in  the back of the book for the kids who died.  So sad.  It is a very nice cookbook.

Other than that, we took nightly rides around the farms and looked at the beautiful scenery. Enjoyed the beauty and the quiet of the landscape.  Went to Hershey’s Chocolate World and did the usual Chocolate Ride Tour, and of course our mouths watered for a piece of chocolate at the end of the tour. We went to the Hershey Museum this time and that was interesting-and you’re not going to believe this-but I wrote a post regarding seeing the number 111 everywhere.(Check out that post) Well, on the trip, we parked next to cars with license plate numbers that read 111, there was a license plate in an antique store there that read 111-all small random stuff.  But in that museum they had a door encased in a glass box that had the number 111 right on it. My daughter freaked and she dragged me over there.  That was so freaky.  It was supposed to be the original door to the building on that spot “111 Chocolate Avenue” or something.

Then it was eat and eat and eat-all that great food.  And then buy, buy,buy all the country stuff I could, because it all costs double back home. Then drive around and try to steal some pictures of the Amish without them seeing me.  I take the pics through my windshield, then fix them up in iphoto when I get home.  All in all , it was a great trip.  The kids enjoyed it as well.  Kelsey, my 15-year-old, is like me.  She enjoys the quiet and the friendliness-and lets not forget the animals, which are in abundance over there, too!

I’d do it again tomorrow if I could….but I just may have to wait  another year.  Maybe I’ll invest in a vacation home instead…..hmmmmmm.:)

Amish Couple

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

Hello again.  I posted this video because it is a beauty, and if you have 3 minutes to spare, I’m sure it will relax you.

The music is from one of my favorite movies, and I love movies with deep meaning.  It is a moving story of a relationship between father and sons.

They say it is a true story of two boys, Norman and Paul, growing up in Montana  One is rebellious of his father, Rev. Maclean, while the other has his feet on the ground.  The one love they all share is fly fishing.  I believe it was directed by Robert Redford, a plus in itself, but  also Brad Pitt plays the rebellious son-another plus!  Please watch the movie sometime, you will surely love it.

Hope you love the videos. 🙂


Grandma’s House…It’s Heaven!/ A Poem


The front of Grandma's House

Well, I never made it for Thursday’s Poet Rally , but I’m posting this anyway.

This was a poem I wrote for My Mother-In-Law’s birthday a very long while ago.  We all had to write a poem about what made her so special to us.  I just thought about what my kids would have written if they had to do this, so it was from a child’s point of view.  As you read ,  you’ll see there are many reasons why she was, and still is, so special. Even though she has changed her address (not 57 Don anymore),and has slowed down her pace a little bit, she still holds her own.  Everyone still likes to go visit Grandma’s House!

Here Goes:

             Grandma’s House…It’s Heaven!

*Someone once asked me if I believed there’s a heaven.

I replied that I did, “It’s at Don, 57!”

That’s the street and the house where my grandmother stays,

where she sews and she bakes and weaves love through her days.

And what would you find at my grandmother’s house?

Well, I’ll just name a few:

First, there’s that huge pool out back and Papa’s barbecue!

Then there’s the deck where we dry off and snack, we can’t forget that, too!

There’s a large playroom down cellar and a swing set outside!

In the garage, there’s a go-kart, where we take turns for a ride.

And Grandma’s kitchen holds smells of all her baking and cooking,

but it seems she must do this when no one is looking!

There’s always chocolate chip cookies and brownies, homemade!

Drinks of coffee milk, soda and iced lemonade!

There’s roast turkey and pork chops, hot dogs and fries,

ice cream and cakes, assorted pudding and pies!

Even Dad’s never seen a steak THAT size!

For snacks, she keeps a great, big shelf , and I always want to help  myself!

There’s gumdrops and chocolate bars, potato chips, too!

Corn curls and lollipops and gum to chew!

You can even take some home with you!

You’ll see fancy quilts and cloth dolls, and Grandma’s sewn every stitch!

If she sold all her treasures, I’m sure she’d be rich!

There’s plush chairs and pretty towels, lots of linen and lace…

“Hey, isn’t that chocolate on Kelsey’s face?”

There’s magazines, newspapers and books Grandma’s read.

Plenty of band-aids for boo-boos and kind words said.

Then holidays are always great, as Grandma loves to decorate.

She puts colored eggs out for Easter, and leaves out for Fall.

At Christmas, there’s gold-ribboned  wreaths on the wall.

I just don’t know how she does it all!

Now, there’s a roast in the oven and turkey soup in the pot.

Take a plate, stand in line, while supper’s still hot!

Grab a chair, sit on down, relax, take it slow.

Because at Grandma’s, it’s heaven on earth, don’t you know!

                            The End 

Now after reading this, it sounds like it would make a great children’s picture book!  I think I may just try this!

Hope you liked it, and I bet it sounded like a Grandma you know, too! 🙂