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The New Old Staycation Option

Updated on June 18, 2019
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Denise homeschooled her 4 children and has stories. She provided art lessons for many children in the homeschool community for many years.

Family Time

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Summer Staycation

Summer is that time of year when the wheel of life slows. There is a line like that at the beginning of the movie Tuck Everlasting, but it is so true. Things seem more leisurely. Sipping iced tea with the condensation dripping slowly down the side of the glass and watching a fly trying to escape the screen door are favorite pass-times. When September comes, the life will speed up and skid into the Christmas season, which in turn skids into Spring before things finally slow into Summer again. Summer has been called that lazy time when kids hang out at the pool or watering hole and everything tastes better barbecued. This is the time I look forward to getting things done that I have been putting off all year long.

Why go to a crowded tourist trap when you can stay home where you are comfortable?


Experimental Photography

My motion blur photo of crepe myrtle near my front door.
My motion blur photo of crepe myrtle near my front door. | Source

What to do?

I knew to go into the Summer that we were not going to be able to take a vacation. I could be sad about this or I could do what I did, and make the most of the STAYcation instead. My sister introduced me to the term and has done the staycation often the past few years since that is the kind of vacation they often take. With two growing boys, going away for a week or two is less and less likely in this economy. I can understand that. But I don’t have any kids at home anymore. So what to do?

List Makers

Are you a list maker?

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List Maker

I’m a first-born and a list maker. It comes naturally to me to make a to-do list. My list for this Summer was unlike most of my lists because it included things I knew I wanted to complete only this Summer. When the Fall comes I won’t have time or inclination to do any of them. Now that the Summer is nearing an end I can happily share my list knowing I really have accomplished many of the things on my list.

Eat the Frog

My watercolor painting of frogs
My watercolor painting of frogs | Source


I think it was Mark Twain who said if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, for the rest of the day nothing worse could happen to you. To me, that quote has meant that if I swallow the hardest task first the rest of the day is a piece of cake. This makes perfect sense even if I really don’t want to eat the frog and avoid it at all costs, for days even. I read a psychologist writing once that when we avoid priorities it is more draining of energy than if we just do the hard thing first. Just EAT THE FROG. But I’m a procrastinator at heart (most artists are) and I put off eating the frog for most of the summer. In the end, I knew that if I just tackled the hard project I would enjoy the rest of the summer, so, finally, I did it.

For me the frog was cleaning up my artwork for a presentation I needed to make later in the Fall. Sure, I could put it off till October but I knew if I did I would regret it since I would not have as much time to spend on it. The hardest part of it was that like most artists, once I finish a piece of art, I don’t want to go back and touch it. I want to leave it; it’s history; it’s done; I’m done with it. Finally, I got out the 15 pieces of work and just faced down that croaker. And I feel much better.

Eat That Frog

Classical Art Coloring Books

Excerpt from my Classical Romantic Era Art Coloring book: Vermeer
Excerpt from my Classical Romantic Era Art Coloring book: Vermeer | Source

Second: Publish My Books

I am happy to say that I actually completed two more of my Art History Coloring Books and my Boxes craft book and they are now available on Amazon. The Boxes book was a hopeful but not a serious book on the to-do list. I have been creating and compiling hand made box patterns for this book for the past 10 years. I didn’t really think I would have it ready for publication but this Summer it is finally available. The process meant trying out each box pattern and making one to photograph for the book, compiling them in Adobe InDesign and even creating a few illustrations to go along with the instructions; saving all this in a pdf version and submitting them to, which is an affiliate of Amazon, along with an artistically created cover. It seems simple to write into one sentence but it was a difficult and time-consuming job. However, now I can celebrate its completion. YEAH.

The other two books, the coloring books, are from a series I began last year and knew that they only needed a little background research and tweaking to finish. This means that 4 of the 6 books in this Art History Coloring Book series is published and ready for purchase. The last two may have to wait for next Summer. Three books in one Summer is quite an accomplishment. If I finished nothing else all summer I would be happy with this.

My Photo Manipulation

I did some photo-manipulation with this photo of my niece, Carrie.  Inspired by Fine Art Photography of Brooke Shaden.
I did some photo-manipulation with this photo of my niece, Carrie. Inspired by Fine Art Photography of Brooke Shaden. | Source
Another Fine Art Photography manipulation.  These are fun.
Another Fine Art Photography manipulation. These are fun. | Source

Brook Shaden

Third: Continue Learning

This seems simplistic in the statement but hard in fact. You see, I feel that a life, a year, a day without learning something is wasted. I like to frequent YouTube and find creative tutorials to view every day to learn something new. If you go to YouTube and type in the header anything you are interested in from photography to drawing, from recipes to interior decorating, someone has probably made a short educational video on it, I’m sure.

I started the Summer wanting to know a little more about my camera, so I found tutorials on camera settings, creative camera techniques, lighting, motion blur, freeze frame, etc. It was during this search, I stumbled upon Brooke Shaden. If you have never seen any of her inspirational, creative, Fine Art Photography, then you have missed out. She is fabulous. You cannot see or read anything by her without coming away inspired to create something new and innovative.

After watching everything by Brooke Shaden (and I mean everything), I stumbled upon Really, one little search with sending you in unexpected directions. CreativeLive has free live 1 day, 2 day, and 3 day educational live streams where you can watch experts in their fields, like Brooke Shaden, Jack Davies, Kirsten Lewis and more, tell from beginning to end how they create the work that they do. Then you can buy the whole seminar if you wish, but the live stream is free for the watching. At first, I thought I was wasting a whole day glued to my computer screen watching some photographer give tips and techniques I may or may not ever use. Still, with each presentation, I took away several helpful new educational facts and inspirational points that I can incorporate in my own style and art.

CreativeLive has live streaming presentations on Photography, Crafts and Making, Writing, Film making, Time management, and Arts. It is quite a wealth that everyone should check out if possible. What is more, is that it doesn’t end in the Fall. There are more live streams coming. One, in particular, I am looking forward to is the 3-day presentation by Anne Geddes, the Australian photographer of newborn babies in baskets and flowers, etc. For the first time in 30 years, she is letting people see her techniques from start to finish. I can’t wait to see that, coming October 27th through 29th.

Fourth: Make Blog Posts

I find that creating posts for my blog is a chore. It shouldn’t be. It should be like talking with a dear friend. Before I was laid off, I taught watercolor painting classes for senior citizens 5 days a week. Each day I left the house with some THING I would discuss with the seniors. They really loved the diversion of painting and thinking about anything other than their own personal pains and problems. The things I would talk about included questions about life, humorous anecdotes about my children or grandchildren or my own childhood, jokes, stories about famous artists and art, etc. These are all things that I could include in my blogs. So with the mindset that I’m bringing a story or anecdote to my friends, I started writing blogs. It was slow at first with only one a week or so. But one day I had two ideas so I wrote them both down in separate blogs, published one and saved the other for later. The next day I thought of two more. Suddenly the juices were flowing and I had blogs written and ready to go for a month ahead. I realized that this is a smart and efficient way of writing. Like any art, it takes a little while for the brain to switch to the creative side and then once it has, the ideas can keep coming. My suggestion is to write and save several blog postings for future use when the ideas aren’t as readily available and the time not as abundant.

My Honey

Pastel portrait of my husband on grey toned paper.
Pastel portrait of my husband on grey toned paper. | Source

Fifth: Time With My Husband

This one is also a no-brainer. We celebrated our 29th anniversary this Summer and although we could not go anywhere, we do spend lots of time together. It is a good thing we like each other, because we live in a small apartment, in each other’s space every day, all day. We did go out to dinner on our anniversary and began talking about places we might like to see and do next year on our 30th Summer together. Dreaming big dreams makes next year worth looking forward to.

Collage of Anika

Collage of my granddaughter, Anika, made from pages from magazines.
Collage of my granddaughter, Anika, made from pages from magazines. | Source

Sixth: Create Artwork For Myself

It is funny how the last thing on my list is something I began working on first. I pulled out some possible projects I wanted to complete and decided on two of my favorites early in June. I have done one and I’m still working slowly on the other. These are both collages I will be adding to my future article on collages later. However, I’m including a bit of a tease with the photo here.

Also, I have a few pieces of art on Zazzle to use on T-shirts and iPad covers, etc., that I have been updating. As well as some items on and some art available on iStock and Veer. I have created quite a few pieces for sale in these places. Although they are technically not “for me” as far as art goes, they are for sale and that sort of helps me, so I’m happy to have finished pieces for them too.


Day Trips

Just because you are staying home doesn’t mean you can’t see the sights. If you are like most families, you probably have a dozen or so local tourist spots nearby that you haven’t even seen, or haven’t seen in a long time. I remember living in California a decade just 45 minutes from Yosemite National Park before seeing it once. We get the mistaken notion that to take a vacation you have to leave the state or go somewhere big when little out of the way sights are right around the corner.

I like to take a map and draw a target on it. The concentric rings are places that are 1 hour, 2 hours and 3 hours drive from me. This helps make an informed decision as to what to see and how long to see it, before having to return home for the night.

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Day trips are really a wonderful way to spend a vacation sightseeing and sleep in the comfort of your own home. Within driving distance of my home, I can see Old Town Sacramento, museums of San Francisco, wine tasting country of Napa Valley, and the ghost town of Bodie; not to mention Yosemite National Park and a host of other mountain casinos.

Another way to find places to go is to Google “Day Trip” and your state. The Internet has become a wealth of knowledge for the day tripper.




In the end, this has kept me quite busy and productive this Summer and gives me a good feeling about the end of the Summer approaching and the wheel of life beginning to speed up again. School starting again, holidays approaching, and life, in general, will be keeping me busy. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The last thing was a surprise ending to the summer. My daughter matter-of-factly mentioned that she will be in the hospital in September giving life to a friend. She had decided to donate one of her kidneys to the family pastor. This understandably sent me into a whirlwind of emotions and research of which I have already written. But I can’t think of a more climactic ending to the summer than this incredibly selfless act. Can you?

Coming of Fall

Vector image of fall, created by Denise McGill.
Vector image of fall, created by Denise McGill. | Source

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