There’s More To Making Beautiful Art Than Just Putting In Your 10,000 Hours

By Cheryl Ryan

I used to think that artistic greatness could only be achieved through 10,000 hours of exhaustive, self-sacrificing practice. Hard work is certainly part of the equation. But these dedicated artists prove that you can continue to grow in your art while laughing, encouraging and sharing knowledge with each other along the way.

Thank you to artists Nancy Takaichi and Liz Fennell for sharing their thoughts on creativity, Plein Air painting and why they do it.

What is your art background?


I loved drawing as a kid. I took art lessons and every high school art class I could get, then majored in art at DePauw University, Indiana. Once I started painting in oils I was hooked on the medium. It allows for changing one’s mind and trying new things, which is what I did with my life too.  The plan was to move to California and get my MFA but first I had to afford to live here. So I found work in Silicon Valley and a short-term job became a 30-year career. I’m finally doing the work that I went to school for: making art!


I didn’t have any art experience until I started painting with Stefan Baumann more than 15 years ago. That’s when I met some terrific like-minded people. Occasionally, Stefan would take the class on Plein Air adventures. That’s what hooked me. I knew that I would keep painting after that. I loved painting outdoors! It took a few years before I actually started going out on my own.

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If Change Is Inevitable — Why Does It Sneak Up On Us?

By Cheryl Ryan

Many of the Covid postponed weddings are back on and ours is no exception. So it’s shopping time for this Mother of the Bride. As I’ve made clear before, fashion doesn’t come easy to me.  My preferred attire is basic, boring and comfortable. Yet, there is something about these wedding events that make me want to step up my game. 

The whole Mother of the Bride or Groom thing has proven fraught and I’m not entirely sure why. I think it’s kind of like when our kids were young and in critical sports games or recitals. We want everything to go well for them but in the end, it’s not really up to us. Weddings are something like that. I find myself nervous in wanting the event to be a successful, happy experience for my kids but so much of it is out of my control. 

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The Beautiful Bowls Of Summer

By Cheryl Ryan

Lately, every cooking show, blog and website is featuring a bowl arranged like a piece of art.  The idea is in the simplicity of doing a lot of the prep ahead of time. Once prepared, you can use the ingredients throughout the week then add a little something unique to make it different. This keeps the nightly cook time to 15 or 30 minutes, all while producing a gorgeous fresh meal. 

Who’s not in for that? My family is fully aware of my desire for healthy, simple food and equally aware of my laziness when it comes to spending hours in the kitchen cooking and cleaning each night. During the winter I make a lot of stews or hearty soups by just throwing everything into a pot. I make enough so that I can heat leftovers for lunch or dinner the next night. But because none of us want to eat hot food or spend hours chopping for salads, bowls are a perfect summer solution. I actually prefer cooking in the morning while I have energy rather than at night when I’m tired which also adds to the allure of preparing ahead.

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Pam Shalhoob

Pam Shalhoob –– relishing Good Vibes, Strong Relationships and Self Care!

By Gwen Dawkins

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s as I did, the long-legged, blond, California surfer girl was ‘the ultimate.’ Girls wanted to be her; guys wanted to date her. At 59, Pam Shalhoob still embodies this proverbial California dream. Here, the wave-seeking esthetician-turned realtor shares a bit about her loves, philosophy and growth mindset –– take note, it’s working!

Good Vibes

OK, based on photographic evidence, you look almost the same as you did in high school! How do you do it?

Ah, thank you! I try to stay active and eat well. I’m disciplined about eating nutritious food –– it’s easy for me to refrain from chips and cookies, etc. But I’m sure a lot of it’s genetic. My sisters look amazing. Plus, on the emotional side, my family life is great. My brother, sisters and I still like hanging out with each other and our families. We’re a bit spread out between Santa Barbara, Maui, and Bend, Oregon, but we have great relationships and enjoy spending time together. I also believe in staying positive. My mom was never afraid to tell people how old she was, and I feel the same way.

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Summer Is Here Photo by Ethan Robertson @ Unsplashed

First Summer Post Of 2021 — and I Couldn’t Be Happier

By Cheryl Ryan

Live concerts and comedy events are back and they are filling up fast. 

I’m checking out these long hair summer styles because if you’re like me it might be longer than usual (although I do have an appointment on the books so we’ll see). Or for those of you that are already getting regular haircuts here are some sassy short hairdos.

Are you looking for some beautiful front porches?  I love the rug under a doormat look and will definitely be copying it along with using some of these other great ideas.

Summer Gardens

How’s your garden growing?  I’m trying a new method. Since my raised beds were built with treated, toxin leaching redwood I’m trying the no-till method this year.  The hard part is that you have to get low to the ground (which isn’t as easy as it used to be). But I’m using a stool and loving working directly with the earth and enhancing the dirt health in my yard.  We started by removing all the clumped hard soil. Then we added compost and manure. I created mounded rows and covered the new growth with dry leaves from the winter. It’s meant to keep the soil moist longer since, unfortunately, it’s a California drought year. I know I’ve mentioned this movie before but can’t help thinking about it and feeling encouraged while working to create better long-term garden health in a region that doesn’t receive as much rain. 

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Daphne Reznik

When Measuring Considerations for Escaping the 9-5; Make Finance Top Priority

By Daphne Reznik

Thank you Daphne Reznik for sharing your entrepreneurial wisdom with us.

Why do I think this and who am I?

I was laid off in May of 2020 due to Covid. At the age of 49. And that was a blessing; in my case, that was the first step to professional freedom and a total and complete escape of the 9-5- for good! At least that is the plan. 

To be honest, I’m authentically believing in that plan and that steering clear of corporate life, or any type of job “working for others” is possible. Whether you believe in manifestation or not, there is work to be done, and I’m doing it. At the same time, I am living a much lower-stress life than I was a year ago, before my layoff. 

But how? How can I be so sure that without an income, I’ll be ok? 

Why I think this way: because I was in a solid place at age 49 to take the time I need to build a business as a blogger. 

That is who I am: prepared (sort of!), excited, living with so much LESS stress and motivated to own my time. Sound familiar? I am unique of course, but at the same time, not uncommon.

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Dog poo garbage can

Do You Have A Pet Peeve List?

By Cheryl Ryan

I’d ask if you have any pet peeves if I didn’t already assume that you do. But maybe I’m wrong about that, maybe I’m just more peevish than most. 

A few of my ongoing peeves are tailgaters and dog poo. It’s the tailgaters that zoom up inches from your bumper with the intention of forcing you to change lanes and then once you move over they zoom up to torture the next unsuspecting car that makes me crazy. 

Dog poo is another story altogether. There are so many problems with poo.  There are the people that don’t pick it up at all.  Then there are those that put it in bags and just leave it.  Who do they think is going to pick it up?  There are no little dog poo garbage trucks on the way, people.  No, it’s the next poor person to come along and almost step in it or the homeowner whose house they leave it in front of, they’re the ones who pick it up.

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