Apr, 14

Happy 101st Birthday, Great-Grandpa Riley!!!


Today may be April Fool’s, but this is no joke.  My amazing Great-grandpa, Riley, is 101 years old today!!! He’s definitely one of the most incredible people that I’ve ever known, and I’m proud to call him grandpa.  He’s smart, strong, kind, warm, and loving.  I truly admire him and hope to be as great as he is one day.  His smile, laugh and love are genuine and you feel it as soon as you see him.  Happy 101st Birthday, Grandpa!!!

Robert Riley moved from Thornton, CO to Paducah, KY in 2009 to be closer to his son and daughter-in-law.  He’s been living in an independent living facility which provides a private apartment, meals, housekeeping, and activities.  Fortunately, [my aunt Jan + uncle Bob] were able to hire people to help with his personal needs and washing clothes to avoid the nursing home thus far.  My aunt and uncle also have a good home health provider to provide physical & occupational therapy, and professional nursing, as needed.  My aunt Janice keeps him supplied with snacks, juice, Gatorade, and does his other personal shopping for him, so he’s surrounded by love and care.  I also hear that he’s quite popular!

Jackson Oaks

When I think of my grandpa Riley, I think of all that he’s seen and accomplished so far in his 101 years!  He makes me want to be a better person and to strive to be the best that I can be with no excuses.  In fact, I often think of him, particularly in times of self-doubt, and quickly snap out it.  I think of how happy he’s always been and what a go-getter he’s been throughout his whole life.  He truthfully has to be the most physically active person that I’ve ever known.  He inspires me to keep my mind, spirit and body active and healthy.  I know that I can speak for my whole family when I say that we have such good memories of him and all that he’s done.  Honestly, my youngest brother, Michael, summed it up best in a school report that he did about 6 years ago, when he was about 14 or 15:

 “Air Corps

In March of 1942, my great-grandfather, Robert Wesley Riley, joined the Air Corps. Robert was supposed to go to Aircraft Engine School, but at the time, there were no openings. He had to wait five months to get into the school. During those five months, he had to take five exams, one every month. After the five months were up, the aircraft engine school let him in without a history of any college. This aircraft school was called Hendricks Field. It was in Sebring, Florida. Everyone in the school was either a mechanic or an engineer. My grandfather stayed at this school for three years. He became a flight engineer. What he did was test the planes to see if they were in flying conditions. For five to ten hours a day, he would test take-offs and landings. After his training at Hendricks Field, he went to Chanute Field in Illinois for one month. He worked on gyro instruments. Gyro instruments are engines that spin. Some examples of gyro instruments are automatic pilots and field indicators. After that, Robert went over seas for twelve months as a replacement. Later my grandfather was stationed in India to work on humidity and temperature control in a factory. He inspected the work of twenty-eight Indian workers who worked on assembly lines. He had to have two interpreters because the twenty-eight men didn’t speak English. He stayed there for one year after the Indian war was ended.


Robert W. Riley had many odd jobs before and after the war. He worked for Arkansas and Louisiana Gas Company right out of high school. He was making nine cents an hour and got a ten-cent per hour promotion for digging ditches. Then he got into trucking companies. He drove trucks for a box factory in Pittsburg, Texas. They would cut down gum trees on the river bottoms and make would make boxes out of these trees. Then he moved on to hauling produce around. He would haul yams out of Texas to Denver, potatoes from Denver to Texas, then he would go down to South Texas to get watermelons and grapefruits to haul them to Denver. The watermelons made good sales. Before my grandfather went into the service, he laid pipeline. It was construction work, but my grandpa hauled and strung oil pipe all over. His boss knew that he was strong, so he took him off of driving trucks and moved him to working the sledgehammer. The unfortunate side of him being strong was that he had to break concrete in order to put in the pipes for ten hours a day with only a sledgehammer.

Fishing and Hunting

When my grandfather got older, he would go fishing every weekend, rain or shine, with his wife, Helen Riley. He would fish all over Colorado and many other places like Canada. When he went to Canada, he flew in at six in the morning and caught one hundred and forty pounds of fish. It didn’t get dark until midnight. The lake was called Otto Lake and the Indians helped them cook the fish that they caught. They would fillet the fish and quick dry them so he was able to take the fish home. He makes his own flies for fishing and uses different types of feathers. My grandfather also loves to hunt. He’s been hunting since 1952 and has been ever since. In the fifty-six years that he has been hunting, he has only missed one season. He has shot thirty-two elk, many birds, and a few moose.

Great Depression

The year he left home on his own was 1929. He left with what clothes he had on his back and the change in his pocket. ($1.25) Luckily for him, he worked in Texas and could get about any job, which was a plus except for the fact that he worked ten hours a day and only made one dollar. My grandfather was one of the lucky ones to get a job and live through the depression.


My grandfather, Robert Wesley Riley, was born on April 1st, 1913. He was raised on a farm and took up farming until he graduated high school. On the farm they raised their own mules and used them to plow. He had eight brothers and sisters to help him with the farm work. He started school when he was seven years old. He walked to school everyday, which was 6 miles to and from school. He went to a consolidated school and only wore shoes when at school. He didn’t have much homework, but if you didn’t pay attention in class, the teacher would not re-teach the lesson. When he was ten years old, he was driving his model T around on the dirt roads.

Brittany Spaniels

My grandfather raised and showed Brittany Spaniels. He had two dogs of his own; their names were Mutt and Jeff. Their registered names for shows were Denver Skyline Rocket and Prince Jeffery of Rocket. They were registered with an AKC book. On November 7th, 1966, Jeff won a certificate for best in show. The dogs would also go out-of-state with my grandpa and help him in hunting birds. He trained Jeff and Mutt by taking pheasant wings and putting them on fishing rods and reeling them in and casting them, making the dogs chase the wings. He also had many training tactics. These dogs were also trained by whistle and were hunting at five months of age. They would stalk and also retrieve the birds.

Today (written 6 years ago)

Today my grandpa is ninety-five years old and lives on his own. He continues to hunt, fish, and walk three miles a day. When the weather is not it’s best outside, he jumps on the treadmill and does his walking there. He has so much spirit, which keeps him going everyday. My grandpa Riley means a lot me. I love him and his great laugh so much.”

Below is an article in the Jackson Oaks Newsletter that was written for him last year to celebrate my grandpa’s 100th Birthday:

Jackson Oaks 100 Birthday-Riley

And this isn’t even half of what my grandpa has seen and accomplished!  He’s living proof that living a good and healthy lifestyle goes a long way.  I’m proud and blessed to have him as my grandpa!  I love you so much grandpa Riley – we all do.  Thank you for being true to yourself and for being such an amazing role model to us all.  I wish we were there with you today.  We all miss you very much and want you to know that we think about you.  You’re an amazing man and we hope you have a wonderful 101st Birthday!  We love you tremendously!!!

I want to thank my Uncle Bob for providing me with the latest photo and details on my Grandpa.  I also want to thank my brother, Michael, for letting me share his piece on my grandpa’s life.  And Thank you to Jackson Oaks for writing such a beautiful piece on him.  So much love!


Mar, 14

Manzanita Calligraphy Workshop #1

Calligraphy1 Calligraphy2

This past Saturday I was a student in Rebecca Caridad’s very first Calligraphy Workshop in Boulder, CO.  There were only 7 of us and we had a fun time learning the basics of Calligraphy.  I’ve only practiced once since the class, due to my studio currently being re-done.  Once I get it all in order, I plan to put my pen to paper and really get to know my style of writing.  That’s the beauty of it – just because you learn something, doesn’t mean that you can’t bend, or even break, the rules.  I’m pretty good at breaking rules… so, stay tuned for that.  Until then, check out a few snapshots that Rebecca’s younger sister took of our workshop here.

Library Catalog 1
Library Catalog 2
Library Catalog 3

I’ve put a hold on making anything this week, so that I can focus on getting my new studio all sorted out.  I really have to have a clean, bright and inspiring place to create.  Otherwise, I find it difficult to stay focused.  Anyone else have this problem?  Anyhoo, the most challenging part of the studio will be getting my 120-drawer Library Catalog, that my dad gave me, out of the garage and up the staircase.  I dusted and cleaned it really well, so it’s ready to be moved in.  Wish me luck!

Apr, 13

Be You.


I found this on Pinterest yesterday and instantly fell in love with the gold on white, the layout and most of all, the message.  Happiness can be achieved so simply sometimes if we just be our shiny selves.  So I hope you Be Happy. Be Bright. Be You today. | image source

Nov, 12

{inspired} work on your focus

It’s been a crazy time of year for me with the Holidays right around the corner and trying to stay on top of everything, and if you’re a creative business owner, then you understand.  With the help of my mom, I try to stay focused and think positive.  If I feel myself start to worry more than I should, I quickly redirect my thoughts to something more productive.  I recently stumbled across this post that Kyla Roma wrote on her blog.  I’ve never really listened to podcasts before, but with her recommendations and tips, I’ve officially been introduced. 

I often find myself sitting at my desk, drafting table or sewing machine and I realize that I’m in complete silence.  No radio, no TV, no iPod – nothing.  I actually enjoy the quiet at times, but it’s nice to have something new to listen to as I work.  The podcasts can be quite inspiring and keep me focused on positive and useful topics.  With music, I’m able to tune it out much easier and then my mind goes crazy with all of my to-do lists!  Eek!  The podcasts give me a break, so I appreciate that in the busiest of times.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m anti-TV or music as I work.  I love them!  It’s just that sometimes I feel the need to switch it up a bit and this is a great way to do that.  I appreciate Kyla taking the time to gather some recommendations – very helpful for a podcast newbie.

Kyla’s post isn’t just about podcasts, it’s about pinpointing your passion and living it each and every moment.  Maintain your focus and you will continue to move forward doing what you love.  Now, back to my crazy-busy life!

Oct, 12

{inspired} teal, grey + mustard

Earlier this week went a bit out of control.  I went to the store for some fabric to complete an order and stumbled upon this pretty teal, grey + mustard fabric.  I couldn’t help myself, I just had to have it.  As soon as I saw it, I was inspired to make a few specific things with it.  So, be expecting a couple chevron totes coming to the shop!  The mustard polka dot fabric is intended for a skirt and I can’t wait to dive into that project as soon as I wrap up a couple of orders first.  I hope your Friday is treating you well.  Any weekend plans?

Oct, 12

{inspired} woodlands

This week I’ve been gathering inspiration from all over to prep for my Halloween Costume.  I’m really excited to see how it all comes together.  Last year I was a red fox and this year I seem to be continuing the “woodland animal” theme… can you guess what it is?  I’ve never made a costume like this before, so I really hope that it turns out the way I picture it in my head… heeheehee.  I’ll start making it this Sunday, and I’ll post more next week so that you can see my progress.  Until then, guess!

Sep, 12

{studio sunday} with Kate Gabrielle

 I can’t believe that it’s Sunday already!  This week really flew by, but I’m glad that it’s Sunday, because I get to share a very sweet and talented young lady’s studio with you!  I’m sure that you’ve seen her drawings and prints, as well as, read her blog once or twice.  So, I know you’ll enjoy this week!  Enough jabber, I’ll let you take a peek.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Kate Gabrielle, and I’m a full-time illustrator. I run the Etsy shop, Flapper Doodle, where I sell my drawings and things with my drawings printed on them 🙂 I also blog at Scathingly Brilliant and am a proud cat mom to my kitties Hypatia, Chloe and Hubble!

2. Where is your studio located?

My studio is actually located in my bedroom! I have an 11′ x 11′ room, and one wall is devoted to my studio!

3. How long have you had your current studio space?

I’ve had this room since I was six years old, but it only morphed into a bedroom/studio hybrid in 2009, when I started working on Flapper Doodle.

4. What is your favorite part of your studio?

I love the things that I have hanging on my walls… artwork, little souvenirs of fond memories and notes from family and friends. Everything serves as inspiration for drawing, but since this is also my bedroom I like that it creates a warm, cozy, familiar place to unwind and relax as well 🙂

5. Approximately how many hours per day do you spend in your studio?

Oh gosh… except for the times that I’m eating or out of the house basically 24/7! In addition to my studio, I also turned my closet into a small office space with my computer, printer, scanner, etc. so pretty much everything that I do each day takes place in this one little room!

6. Do you have any future plans for your studio space?

Eventually I’m planning on getting my own place and spreading out a bit, but honestly I love my room so much that I’ll probably end up recreating it almost exactly the way it looks now! Except maybe having a separate room to sleep in… that would be nice 🙂
Kate, thank you so much for sharing your special little studio!  I love the colors that you’ve chosen to surround yourself with.  They do give a soft and cozy feel.  I also like the way that you chose to utilize your wall space to the max!  You’ve proven that it’s not necessarily the amount of space that makes a successful studio, but it’s how you use your space – clever girl!  I hope that this has inspired other creatives to use what they have and use it well.  Thank you again for your time, it was so fun featuring you! ♥R
Be sure to visit Kate!  shop | blog | twitter | FB | pinterest

Sep, 12

{inspired} vintage suitcases

This week I’ve been inspired by vintage suitcases.  I found this one awhile ago in an antique shop and I’ve inherited a couple from both of my grandmothers.  They’re all a bit dirty and need a good wipe down, but I want to use them for storage in my studio.  I’m not quite sure how I will use them, but they’re much prettier than boxes and totes, don’t you think?!

I just love how these old suitcases were made – sturdy and elegant.  Samsonite knew what they were doing and that’s no lie.  I would love to air-travel with this precious case, but nowadays the airlines are so rough with everything.  Each time I check a bag, its either so smashed that it’s unusable or it’s ripped.  Am I the only one with this problem?  They must have been much gentler back then, or maybe the didn’t pack in as many passengers at once.  Either way, I don’t want to chance it.

How about you, do you have any vintage suitcases put to good use? ♥R

Sep, 12

Friendly Letters

If you’re like me, you have friends and family spread out all over the place.  Technology has made it so much easier to stay connected, but there’s something special about communicating through a handwritten note.  I love emails and texts as much as the next person, but I really love opening my mailbox to find a lovely handwritten “just because” letter.  It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside!  I not only appreciate the content from the heart, but I also love to see what card or paper was chosen and there’s something just so magical about seeing pen on paper… I can’t explain it.  My mom lives about 10 minutes away and she sends me little “just because” letters every so often and it makes me so happy!  She’s been doing this since I moved to College and has since continued the tradition.  So, you don’t even have to be far away to share that experience. 

I inherited my grandma’s vintage greeting cards, and thought that I’d share them with my loved ones.  So, a couple of weeks ago I started writing little notes to family and friends to see how they’re doing and what adventures lay ahead.  It’s nice to surprise someone once in a while, even if it’s with something little.  Have you written a letter recently? ♥R

Sep, 12

{inspired} a new weekly series


What’s better than feeling inspired?  Sharing that inspiration, of course!  That’s why I’ve decided to start a new series called {inspired} which will post every Friday.  I find myself roaming the internet, magazines, books, antique shops, boutiques, bakeries and more, where I find tons of inspiration.  I usually write this inspiration in my ideabook, but thought that it would be nice to share what I find with you, too.  Inspiration is everywhere and I think it’s important to share what inspires us to keep our creative community strong.  So join me every Friday and we can be inspired together! 

This week I’ve been super inspired by pumpkin!  You read that right, I said pumpkin.  I feel like everywhere I turn, there it is.  Starbucks rings in the Fall Season with their Pumpkin Spice menu, which I LOVE!  The Pumpkin Spiced Latte and Pumpkin Scone go great together, by the way.  Then I just heard that Einstein’s has a Pumpkin Bagel with Pumpkin Cream Cheese, and Caribou Coffee has Pumpkin Chai!  Sheesh, it is everywhere.  So, this is making me want to grab a pumpkin treat and just craft all day long.  It’s starting to cool down here in Colorado, and Fall is my favorite time to get creative.  Baking isn’t my strong suit, but I love to do it!  I’m thinking of trying to make a pumpkin swirl log, have you seen those cakes?  It’s probably not on any healthy eating list, but it would be a great treat to nibble on at the upcoming October Craft Show with my mom.  I think I found a recipe on Pinterest for it…

Anyhoo, what’s been inspiring you this week? ♥R