Pillow Parade: Blues Prismagic #14

Pillow Parade: Blues Prismagic #14

This pillow has a story.

What I love about creating art is that each art piece and art product encapsulates a story. There was a certain timeplace and personspace that occured during the moment of its first creation and then again in its iterations. A perfect example is this pillow: Blues Prismagic #14. 

The positive mantra is also translated for the Tagalog, Spanish, and Dine (Navajo) versions.

First: A Drawing in A SketchBook, then a Coloring Book

Before it was anything – Blues Prismagic #14 was ink in a pen and a blank piece of paper. That transformed into a drawing. That drawing went into the coloring book for adults I’d created: Prismagic Coloring Book For Adults  It was the 14th drawing in the book (hence Blues Prismagic #14) and the positive mantra that went with it was “I breath in calm and breathe out anxiety”. Nice, eh!?

Prints created from the digitally colored image Prismagic #14 in Prismagic Adult Coloring Book.

I liked that design so much, I decided to make a print out of it. I played around with a few different color palettes and ordered them printed on canvas (there was a sale – what can I say?!) (Side note: these prints are now hanging in the very hip halls of F.A.B.R.I.C. – the Fashion and Business Resources Innovation Center – in Tempe, Arizona! )

Here’s one of the most fun parts of this process. Art is not created in a vacuum and no artist is an island. My brother, Zac, saw the print and asked “Hey, could I get a pillow with that design?” And…BOOM…the Blues Prismagic #14 pillow was born. 


There was some research into where I could get the best possible quality of pillows with my design printed on them, and I think I found it. I ordered a sample for myself (also hanging out in a chair at F.A.B.R.I.C) and then sent one to my brother. 

The Pillows Have Arrived!

Now, finally, they are available today! I’ve just put this on my website. I really love all of the pillows – but this one has a special place in my heart. It was the first. 

A few mock-ups of Blues Prismagic #14 – the first decorative throw pillow I’d ever created.


5 Vegan Friendly Restaurants in New York City

5 Vegan Friendly Restaurants in New York City

When I mentioned my upcoming trip to New York City in June of 2017, my former-New-Yorker friend said – “Best place to be vegan!” I was excited. The city did not disappoint. I’ve been wanting to do a “New York Vegan Friendly Restaurants” article since our return. Here are 5 of the spots where we feasted on vegan fare. Some are exclusively vegan while others had some terrific options: 

Totally Vegan Menu in New York City

1. Cinnamon Snail  

While it’s best known as a food truck, we visited their location at The Pennsy food court. I got two vegan donuts – toasted coconut and strawberry. Plus the Beastmode Burger. How can you pass up a burger with a name like that? 

What We Ate: Beastmode Burger Deluxe 

Ancho chili seitan burger grilled in maple hickory bbq sauce with jalapeno mac n cheese, arugula, smoked chili coconut bacon, and chipotle mayo on a grilled pretzel bun.



Beyond Sushi in New York City2. Beyond Sushi

100% plant based sushi and Asian fusion food? Um, yes please! Unbeknownst to us, we were visiting Beyond Sushi’s newest location on W. 37th St. The hardest part of the meal was deciding what the meal would be. 

What We Ate: Assortment of Four Pieces, ‘The Badge’ Dumplings, The Red Miso, and the ” Sunny Side” roll




3. May Kaidee NYC 

Happy to see our friend Clare Trapasso AND be eating vegan Thai food in NYC.

May Kaidee has cooking schools and restaurants all over Thailand, but just one location in New York City. The New York location serves 100% vegan Thai food. This was impressed upon me by the snarky waitress when I asked what on the menu was vegan. “Um, all of it. We’re a vegan restaurant.” Oops! (An aside: My husband enjoyed the bonafide New York snark.)

We were too busy catching up with an old friend, one Ms. Clare Trapasso, to really look over the menu. We were just about to see “The Great Comet” and had limited time to order, talk, and eat. So, we stuck to the basics. All was delicious. I didn’t have the wherewithal to get decent shots of the food – but you kind know what Thai food looks like, right? If you really want images of the food: go here.

What We Ate: Panang Curry, Pad Thai, Stir Fried Mixed Vegetables and Tofu (Pad Pak Ruam To-hu) 



Great Vegan Options on the Menu in New York City

4. Taco Majal 
Taco Mahal in New York City

Taco Mahal in New York City

This was an accidental find when the Indian food place we’d walked to was closed – on a Thursday at noon(?) Luckily right around the corner stood Taco Mahal. I love the tag line this very cute eatery has on its website: “Where ‘East Eats’ meets ‘West Zest’ La Casa meets the Masala’. 

They stuffed some chana masala into a fresh (and vegan) naan and then put diced onions and cilantro on top. It was fresh and delicious!

What We Ate: Chana Masala Taco with a side of papadam chips with cilantro-mint chutney





5. Little Beet 

After so much decadence a cold pressed juice sounded really good. So, after a quick search, we went to Little Beet for the juice but stayed for the healthy food. Little Beet has several locations around New York and one in Washington D.C. Looking at their menu online – I’m very pleased to see that if you click on the ‘vegan’ button, everything that is not vegan is crossed out. I’m not so pleased to say that when I did that the option I picked while in the restaurant (which the register guy said was vegan) is also crossed out :n/ Aside from that, the food was fresh and juice rejuvenating. 

What We Ate:  (apparently not vegan?!) CARDINI SALAD aka healthy Caesar Salad: romaine, kale, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, watermelon radish, avocado & garlic chickpea dressing – Head over here to see the vegan options.



There you have it! 5 Vegan Friendly Restaurants in New York City, New York!


Harold and Maude, Camp NanoWrimo, and Happy Death Day

Harold and Maude, Camp NanoWrimo, and Happy Death Day

Oh – “Harold and Maude” is a Thing?

There is a surprisingly short connection between the science fiction novel I’m working on and the 1998 comedy “There’s Something About Mary” staring Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller. If you haven’t seen it – you should. It’s a silly, slapstick, goofy-good time (including the credits).  

Have you ever realized what you thought was an obscure gem you’d found in the landscape of culture is in reality a common popular thing – not a secret treasure but a  side-show or theme park? This happened to me while watching “There’s Something About Mary”. My all-time favorite movie was, and is, “Harold and Maude”. The movie was created in 1971 with a beautiful soundtrack by Cat Stephens. It’s about love, age, death, war, activism, identity, parents, children… Well, I could gush on and on. Such an old film and, what I thought, quirky and obscure. Then…

If you haven’t seen “Harold and Maude” – what’s wrong with you?! Just kidding – but really, put that on your list right now. Do it for me. Do it for 1998 Cameron Diaz! 

Happy Death Day

“Harold and Maude” had a profound effect on me. So much so that two of the characters in this novel I’m working on are directly based on the characters from that film. Concepts of aging and death and assisted death and suicide and love were all steeped in the scenes between these two lovers. Mix that with my love of technology and science fiction – and you get Happy Death Day. It’s the novel manuscript and concept I’m most jazzed about. I’ve two chapters of this book that I’m proud of and nothing else. Not yet. 

Camp NanoWrimo


Enter the 1st of July and Camp NanoWrimo – the less pushy twin-sister to the official NanoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month) which occurs in November. With Camp NanoWrimo you can select your own goal as opposed to to given 50,000 words in NanoWrimo. It can even be a time goal which is what I’ll be doing. 50 hours of writing in July. (I’m counting this time right here, by the way.) 

The 50 hours will be writing blog posts like this as well as working on Happy Death Day. I’ve got the Scrivener all fired up. I’ve got a long holiday weekend ahead, and another next weekend. I’m ready! Wish me luck!



Triple Threat: Three Great Organizations Working on Education Reform in Arizona!

Triple Threat: Three Great Organizations Working on Education Reform in Arizona! (originally posted on the RPCV Phoenix Website)

On Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Phoenix were happy to host the education advocacy organizations AZ ED101 and Save Our Schools Arizona.  SoS AZ representatives Miryam Lerma and Jimmy Arwood gave the RPCV Phoenix a run-down on the nitty-gritty of petition circulation, signing, and turning in. (It’s been made unnecessarily tricky – but now we know! Say it with me now: “Near and Complete!”). We were also extremely fortunate to have Anne K. Ellsworth and Sarah Richardson from AZED 101 walks us through the how, what, and when of Arizona’s current dumpster fire of an education budget. (Notice I didn’t put ‘why’, because – WHYYYYY?!??!?!?! would people deny our children and grandchildren the opportunity to get a decent education?! But, I digress.)

There were two goals of this meeting:

  1. Understand the history and current state of education in Arizona including the effects of vouchers on public education
  2. Get the proper training and materials to circulate petitions that will refer SB1431 — the ESA voucher expansion bill — to the voters of Arizona in 2018 so they can vote NO on expansion of vouchers.<

AZED 101 Presentation about the Arizona Education

Ms. Richardson (she’s a business professor, after-all, so I’ll call her Ms!) led our group through the long history of very terrible choices that have put Arizona schools at the totally unenviable position of last, dead last, in education in the country.  We went through the following information.

  • Overall state budget
  • State education budget
  • Issues in AZ education
  • Public school protections
  • What can you do

The best way to solve a problem is to understand its origin and current state. This brilliant presentation did just that. It was as informative as it was infuriating. It was also based purely on fact and completely non-partisan.  They want to show it to every person in Arizona and I hope they do.  You can find out how to get this presentation in front of your organization by going here: http://azed101.org/presentation/ .

Save Our Schools Arizona: Petition Training

The goal: We are seeking to refer SB1431 — the ESA voucher expansion bill — to the voters of Arizona in 2018 so they can vote NO on expansion of vouchers.

To refer SB1431 to the voters – we must petition to get it on the 2018 ballot. There must be 76,000 valid signatures. The key word there is valid.  Rules have been put in place to make the use of petitions to get the voice of the people hear – very difficult. There are many rules and if they aren’t followed the entire petition page can be thrown out! Since this is the case, the goal is to get 150,000 signatures to cover our bases. We can do this!

Check out the training video below to get the exact details what to do when getting signatures and turning in ballots.

Education Activism – What’s Next?

  • If you are an RPCV Phoenix member and couldn’t make it – no worries! Contact Skye Lucking and I will help you get some petitions to start circulating!
  • If you got some petitions at the event – get those puppies signed and notarized as soon as you can. Then pick up some more!
  • If you’re interested in volunteering for either of these organizations, go to their websites to learn more:

Let’s do this!

Skye Lucking, RPCV Phoenix Board President

(Blog 8/100 of the 100 Blog Challenge)



Nomophobia Begins – “None More Black”

A few days ago I went to sleep with an iPhone 6 Plus on my bedside table but woke up with a shiny, metal shingle. The screen was black. I tried plugging it in and charging it for an hour. I tried removing and re-adding the sim card. The screen remained black. I thought – “How much more black could this be? And, the answer is none – none more black.”

So began the chorus of realization composed of groans and grunts. Along with this were very mild twinges and tingles of dreaded “Nomophobia”.

I’m both fascinated and frightened by the relationship our society and each individual has with electronic devices.  The most so with my own dependency on that shiny ‘second-soul’ never very far away.

It was less than 72 hours before I had another, newer, version (plus another, newer, payment plan – ugh). During the in-between I could still communicate via my MacBook – which alleviated some of that nomophobia. However, I still felt the un-ease.I use that phone to meditate, cook, exercise, be ‘at’ work (always), coordinate a goodly amount of real-life meetings, and Instagram more than I likely should (but it’s for my business – I justify).  Our phones have become part of us – who we want to be, who we are, and perhaps who we shouldn’t be. 

I struggle to grasp how much of my cell phone usage is making me better, wiser, and healthier versus how much of it is making me less sane, calm, and aware of the world. How much of the time I spend following strangers could be spent actually catching up with people I love?

Side note: I’ve another blog post I’d like to write titled “I have the most amazing friends. We’ve just never met.” – which speaks to the way people are building relationships with those they follow and are followed by (but that’s for another time). 
This dynamic we have with our devices is always on my mind. It crops up in so many of the science fiction plots and stories I’ve been dreaming up and thinking about. It will always be at play in my psyche. Also, I will continue to struggle to ‘put that thing down’ when my loves are near me. Unless…ya know, I’m ‘gramming their picture. 

Lastly (and possibly shamefully?) ~  If I’m enslaved by this digital master called the iPhone 7 Plus – I would like it well adorned. My next choice – – – which phone case?! (I see what she did there.) These are my top 3 picks…

Full Time Sunshine - iPhone 7 Plus Case

Full Time Sunshine – iPhone 7 Plus Case



Yet to Be Realized- iPhone 7 Plus Case

Yet to Be Realized- iPhone 7 Plus Case

Give it a Try!- iPhone 7 Plus Case

Give it a Try!- iPhone 7 Plus Case


































Thank you for reading. 

(Blog 7/100 in the 100 Blog Challenge)

Polo Horse Insomnia

Polo Horse Insomnia

Some call it ‘monkey mind’ but I liken my insomnia to a sweaty polo horse I met in 2010…

Say what? I was originally going to title this post – “Sweaty Horse Insomnia” but decided to tone it down, or class it up(?) Let me explain…

Back in 2010, when Charlie and I were living the Buenos Aires life, we spent our July 4th at a horse ranch just outside of the city. 

It was a beautiful cool day (being in the Southern Hemi and all) and we were with a group of friendly tourists all ready to get our gallop on.  

The instructor and staff paid careful attention to who should get what horse, knowing the temperament of the animals and guessing at temperament of the humans. When I see a group of animals, for some reason my mind ‘Disney-fies’ them – the goof, the proud older steed, the young gentle lass (which was mine). In this Disney depiction of our horse assignments – the instructor had the heroic ex-Polo steed – muscular, black with a white face, long tail. 

The instructor held the reins tightly as he described the difference between a walk, trot, canter, and gallop. While our new equine friends stood calm and still in that grassy green field – the ex-Polo horse was grunting, moving back and fort, whinnying softly, and pulling at the reins. A slick of sweat covered its entire body. 

“He’s not used to the calm out here. He’s used to the polo grounds. He’s ready to play, always.” The instructor explained in his thick Argentine accent. 

When I’m desperate to sleep – hearing the whir of fans above and closing eyes in my best attempt at nodding off – I think of that horse. My insomnia mind is that horse – unaccustomed to the calm, ready for the field, ready to play…always.

The reason I have insomnia, and this is admittedly annoying to those who have anxious insomnia,  is because I am just so damned excited about life. Kind of like the night-before-camp thing that kids have except “camp” is “my life”.  

I ‘gift’ myself insomnia when I start a project I’m too excited about too sleep. It could be a social activism project, a new set of paintings, a chunk of business plan about to be executed… I had insomnia 3 times this week, which is more than normal, not falling off until past 1 or 2am. The reason? This blog. 

There may be zero sets of eyes outside of my own who read this. I. Do. Not. Care. I’ve neglected a piece of my creative personality for a long time and now that it’s getting attention – well, it’s keeping my up at night to make up for lost time. Part of me hopes that this level of jazzed remains so intense that I have insomnia again and again. Then, the realistic 38-year-old in me says – ain’t nobody got time to be exhausted during the day! 

*Bonus Video*

When looking for the photographic evidence of that lovely day in Buenos Aires, Argentina (and that polo horse) – I found videos of Charlie and I galloping on our horses – no hands! I think these were taken with an old camera – so the quality isn’t great. But, it’s fun to see! 

Skye – Look Mom, No hands! from Skye Brannon on Vimeo.

Charlie – Look Mom, no hands! from Skye Brannon on Vimeo.

Blog 5/100 of my 100 Blogs challenge