05 May 2015


My grandma Minnie loved birds. 
She was particularly fond of the sparrows that flocked to her backyard. 
On many occasions, I watched from a distance as she walked among them.
She scattered birdseed, speaking to them in a gentle voice.
They seemed to regard her with the same caring she showed to them.
They knew her well. Knew they could trust she would be kind.

16 February 2015

Happiness Starts In Your Heart!

Poppie the Zebra Creative Paper Play for Kids!

Creative play for kids! Five page downloadable Poppie the Zebra Happy Kits on Etsy. A great DIY resource for teachers and parents who want a simple craft for younger kids. Use Etsy coupon code Happy1 to receive $3.00 off through Saturday, February 21!


Photo: Creative play for kids! Five page downloadable Poppie the Zebra Happy Kits on Etsy. A great DIY resource for teachers and parents who want a simple craft for younger kids. Use Etsy coupon code Happy1 to receive $3.00 off through Saturday, February 21!


Utah Safe Kids Fair

The wonderful Linda Garner along with authors Christy Monson, Haley Freeman, and Valerie Ackley -- I'm honored to have illustrated three of these books! Please go and support these lovely ladies in their mission of helping children across the world to find hope and joy!
I had such fun creating a badge for ReFoReMo 2015!

Click on the image for more info on this wonderful opportunity for picture books writers.

09 February 2015


Three weeks ago Saturday I broke my leg. 

The first thing I could think to write on my Facebook wall was: "So I broke my leg . . . it was awesome!"

Because, you see, awesome was how I felt.

However, I quickly found out that awesome wasn't the way other people thought I should feel.

One thought breaking my leg was somehow a cry for help. A few thought my demeanor wasn't normal; they expected I should be a shambles with tears coursing down my face. Several more thought happiness had no place in any situation were an appendage was damaged. 

Despite naysayers, my feeling of awesomeness prevailed. 

And here's why . . .

I love dogs. I love dog sledding, and my dogs (two Siberian Huskies and one German Shepherd) crave running in the snow. Even when there's little or no snow, I still want to be out with my dogs. So I exercise them with a Swiss Bike Board, a scooter of sorts with hand brakes, that they pull. My daughter and I have taken our dogs and boards down steep mountainsides and on rocky trails. The feeling of working with the dogs and being out in nature is exhilarating. 

The day I broke my leg I didn't have time for a trip to the mountains. I decided to take the dogs for a quick run around a few city blocks on the pavement -- something I've done numerous times before. 

The day was sunny and beautiful. The dogs were energetic and happy; I was happy. The accident happened so fast I didn't have time to react: a neighbor's dog ran out into the street and began to chase my dog, Oakleigh. Oak turned sharply to the left to respond to the barking of the other dog. When she veered, the bike board went with her. I, however, kept going straight -- for a millisecond -- until I hit the pavement. I heard my leg snap. I looked down and saw my foot bent at an odd angle back up against my leg. I didn't like that! So I reached down and tugged my leg back into alignment and used my cell phone to call for help. 

And I felt awesome. Translated: thankful to be alive and grateful my injuries weren't any worse. 

Oak had been giving it her all, traveling, we estimated, at least 20 mph. I wasn't wearing a helmet; I'd been in too much of a hurry to get outside and neglected to put on my protective gear. I hit the pavement hard, landing on my elbow. 

But my elbow wasn't broken. 

I sat there and smiled. 

I was alive. 

Over the years I'd heard of people who'd had simple accidents -- a fall off a chair or simply tipping over on their bicycle -- and died immediately. I remembered all my friends, my age and younger, who had passed away suddenly, unexpectedly in the past couple of decades, with no chance to say goodbye to their families. With no chance for a second chance.

All I had was a broken leg.

So, yes, it was awesome.

I didn't want or seek or yearn for a broken leg. But given other options of more serious injury, I'm okay with it. It is challenging, frustrating, and cumbersome. Recovery will take awhile; it will be a couple of months before I'm back on the bike board. 

But I've learned much.

My priorities have come sharply into focus. For instance, pre-accident I had this habit of dusting -- everything. Way too often. Now with three weeks dust on things and life still going on I'm wondering, "Why the heck did I spend so much time dusting?"

And there were so many things I simply, plainly took for granted. Being able to run. Being able to do anything, anytime I wanted when I wanted. Being able to wiggle all ten of my toes, five of which are presently a bit stiff and swollen. 

Can I just tell you how much love and giddy appreciation I now I have for my toes? 

Try and go without five of yours for awhile and see if you don't feel the same.

I'm also getting a chance to see what I'm really made of. I have the choice -- yes, the wonderful choice -- of staying down and feeling bad for myself OR taking stock of all I can still do. I have the choice to make friends with my weaknesses -- the physical and the emotional -- and figure out how to turn them into strengths. And the choice to celebrate each and every strength I have, physical and emotional, and express gratitude. 

I'm also grateful for the awesomeness of those I know who have given me support and encouragement. I've seen how others can cheer me on and uplift me by themselves showing gratitude for life, having faith in God and his purposes, and believing in my capabilities -- instead of telling me I should just sit down and quit. 

So awesome? Yes! And I don't apologize for feeling that way.

07 February 2015


Working on new surface pattern designs.

31 January 2015

29 January 2015

Mouse Family

Available for licensing.

28 January 2015

The Doll Maker's Gift

My Great-grandma Maggie was an artist.

Scouring local dime stores, she found cast off and forgotten dolls. 

Back at her home, she carefully bathed them and combed their hair. She sewed clothing for them, dressed and loved and treasured them. 

I was mesmerized by her efforts. Dolls lined her shelves and couches, occupied knick-knack cabinets, and held places of honor in special chairs and on beds. 

I didn't inherit Grandma's skill for sewing so, growing up, I never made clothing for my own small collection of dolls. 

And I didn't possess Grandma's patience — painstaking effort that required hours upon hours to skillfully restore neglected dolls to their original beauty. 

But about ten years ago I began to draw dolls. 

Paper dolls. 

I loved giving them different hairstyles and creating paper clothing for them. Some of my dolls were even published in a workbook for children. And some were published on the Internet by a company that sold clip art. 

Making paper dolls was also a hobby I pursued now and again over the years, making them for family members and friends. 

Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to take things a step further and form Hearts and Hands Dolls. A nonprofit organization that would make soft sculpt dolls for elderly shut-ins and abused children. My wonderful seamstresses sewed dozens and dozens and dozens of dolls. 

We delivered them to nursing homes and care centers. 

There were lots of smiles, and lots of tears of joy for all involved. 

We even made Hope/Nicole Dolls for a little girl with leukemia and sold them to help defray some of her medical costs.

But then life caught up with me and I realized I couldn't keep up with the demand for all those who needed dolls —  and all the wonderful women who wanted to have a hand in sewing and stuffing them. 

While I am still involved with the soft sculpt dolls, I've had to scale back. I've had a few discussions with manufacturers who may be able to one day help make and distribute them.

In the meantime, I've kept creating my paper dolls. 

Wanting to celebrate the strength and diversity of women across America, and provide kids a way to learn state facts, I created a line of American dolls — one from each state. I've given them names and lots of cute clothes. 

I've given them teddy bears that can be posed and other friends such as state birds and, as in the case of Aurora, the doll representing Alaska, sled dogs that can be posed as well.

My dream is to find manufacturers who can offer complete doll sets that will include all the articulated figures and separate, unique carrying cases. As I work toward that dream, I keep thinking of Grandma Maggie and drawing new dolls that I hope she'd love as much as her own. 

Read the complete story about my Grandma Maggie here

21 January 2015

Purr-fect Weather

Available for licensing.

08 December 2014

27 November 2014

13 June 2014

Meet Ashley . . .

. . . the star of a new book I'm illustrating for author Haley Hatch Freeman.

Haley is an anorexia survivor with a message for girls and women:

She wants them to gain the peace and freedom that comes from knowing
the truth about food, media messages, body image, self-worth, and real beauty.

Real beauty.

The kind that radiates from within when we as women
realize our value is much more than the sum total
of how we do our hair or makeup, or what we wear.

That it's more--much more--than our body size or social media status.

Or how many shoes we have--or don't have--in the closet.

Or if boys and men pay attention to our bodies or tell us that we're beautiful.

Real beauty is something we know and embrace for ourselves;
it's loving ourselves for who we are--right now.

I've never suffered from anorexia--
but I have numerous friends and relatives who have.

Many women dear to me have taken their own lives
because they didn't think they measured up to what
they saw on television, in magazines, or in photos
plastered on social media sites.

I've navigated my own share of debilitating self-doubt.

Fueled by those who, when I was a child, should have supported
and loved me, I've frequently walked a tightrope across
a chasm of depression mingled with deep feelings of inferiority.

Haley has navigated her own hardships, 
including a near brush with death.
Yet she's determined to share her strength and courage with others. 

She wants to help girls and women make
life-saving changes so they can embrace the peace, joy, and happiness they deserve.

I'm grateful to have the opportunity to play a role in her efforts.

Look for Haley's book, From Head to Tummy: The Simple Truth
About Food, Media Messages, Self-Worth, and Real Beauty 
on shelves later this year.

18 January 2014


Check out this adorable baby puffin photo by Planet Earth on Twitter.

Baby puffins are called pufflings.

Oregon's tufted puffins grow up to be, well . . . not so cute.

Unless, of course, they fly kites!

Come meet Oregon's tufted puffins Spring 2015 with Abbie & Jack.