Book Organizing

Last week a winter storm kept me house bound, and it gave me the opportunity to re-organize my bookshelves.

The winterscape was lovely for a bit, until white-out conditions made my windows hard to see through.

So I started pulling out the books that graced my shelves, to give them a thorough dusting and get them realigned. My collection includes books about nature, a lot of historical and map-making books, biographies of strong women, art books, books for the spirit, including goddess and bellydance books. I also have books about language and writing, along with my own words in print.

With various reference books being used often, and others shipped to me, things get crowded and mis-aligned over time.

So I systematically cleared each shelf, dusted off the books, and considered which ones to give away.

While I love my silent companions, sometimes it is time to let go of the books that no longer get used.

My childhood authors still have a hold on me, and I do re-read their lovely tales on occasion. I have a shelf-full of cookbooks I hardly use, but gave them another year to gather dust. There is also a shelf of vintage books I cannot bring myself to tear up yet.

The bottom shelves hold binders with paperwork that I needed to sort through. The binders had not been updated since 2014.

So a shredding session ensued the next day as I reorganized papers and let go of what could be thrown out.

I have about 3 bags to donate to the library, but also still need to give these two bookshelves a whirl, which is a task for another week.

Space clearing feels good, and lifts up the energy of the home.

The snow is now melting, and chirping birds indicate Spring might return.

How do you re-align your home and your belongings?

A pause before entering 2017

Well here we are, it is 2017!

I meant to blog a bunch of things this past week, but instead I needed to relax, spend time with friends, and reset my brain.

I had a lovely Art Institute visit where I learned about the annual Creche.

Versatile artist László Moholy-Nagy gained a new fan

There was a fun Gift Exchange party at which my Ugly Rainbow Sweater Frosty found a new owner.

 My hair was overdue for a bit of head-pampering.

I took a winter stroll after garaging the car (same snowman, 1 week later).

Then I dove into the loot I picked up at Evanston Public Library.

Now I feel the pressure of setting resolutions and goals and doing all the self-improvement things.

But part of me says that I can hold off another week on all that, especially since I spent a day reviving my computer on the day I meant to do all the writing.

I am starting to close out my 2016 finances and inventory sheets, checking out the calendar, and considering where I want to spend my time next year.

Here’s to a fantastic new year filled with opportunities, joy and community!

Right Brain Business Planning

A few years ago I got all the business planning books in the world but never completed a plan for my Marvels.


With a few years of redirecting under my belt and the threat that this would be the last live eCourse, I signed up for the 2016 Right Brain Business Planning eCourse.


I had perused Jennifer Lee’s book from the library before, and listened to one or two of her webinars, but never delved into it.


When The Collage Cafe owner Lindy Stockton was featured on the January webinar it made me take notice, and I decided to give the Right Brain Business Plan concept another whirl.


Drafting a plan in 8 weeks is aggressive, and mid-week through the course most participants are feeling a bit behind.


Keeping up with reading chapters, doing exercises, completing the mid-week checkins, participating in weekly calls and keeping up with the Facebook newsfeed is a lot to take on on top of real life.


But I have to say that this challenge is full of affirmations, of new connections, and revelations.


Being in the midst of reading it all I cannot say what the results will be, but I feel good in some aspects “Hey, I have a spreadsheet, yay!” and unclear in others “What do these vision board images really mean?”


The key is to let this process help move me forward, align with what I am truly aiming for, and hopefully spur on the growth I want for Maike’s Marvels.


I’ll let you know where I am 4 weeks from now, when we’re supposed to be ‘finished’. My guess is it’ll take another 8 weeks to put plans into action, and another year to see how this course will have impacted my business.


What are you doing to move your life forward? Are you growing your brains, growing your community, or growing your money stash?


It’s exciting to have resources, support and opportunities. I hope you are maximizing yours in every way possible.


Business Librarians are awesome!

This month the ladies of the Network of Entrepreneurial Women visited the Schaumburg Public Library for a wonderful presentation of business resources.


We gathered in one of the large meeting rooms, which are available for organizations and business use by reservation. There are also smaller discussion rooms accommodating 5 to 8 people for small business meetings.


The Schaumburg Public Library is the second largest library in the state, after the Harold Washington Library and the Chicago Public Library’s 81 satellites.


Business Liaison Librarian Patricia Smolin had selected a few fun titles for us to peruse. She is very engaged in networking to keep a pulse on what small business owners and local entrepreneurs need as resources to enhance their business.

books pulled

She began her presentation by assigning each of the attendees a Dewey Decimal system category, including 700s for The Arts, 332 for Financial economics, 300 for social sciences, 921s for biographies, 610s for Medicine and health, and 005 for Computer science and information.


Our focus that day was on the 650s, however, pertaining to business resources.


Patricia oversees library resources and programming for Personal Finance & Investing, Jobs & Career and Small Business. She guided us through several resources the Schaumburg Public Library has available to patrons, including: Business Articles and Research, Business Directories, Company Research, Market Research, Industry Surveys and Small Business.


In addition to walking us through the online databases, Patricia also recommended 3 print titles that would be of use to business owners. “I put a lot of value in print,” she said. “What is online may be faster, but it might not be better.” Her recommended print resources include: the American Salaries and Wages Survey for salaries by position (updated every 2 years); Redbook, an annual publication on advertising media, and Best Customers, which offers demographics on consumer demand and generational categories.


As we toured the various sections of the library I encountered a blast from the past with my former employer’s business resource poster on prominent display. I still have the Almanacs I contributed to almost 2 decades ago.


Patrons have access to all databases and resources on-site when they visit the library. By connecting your laptop to the library’s wi-fi, you can access the databases SPL is subscribed to. The library has a large computer assistance center that loans out laptops and offers classes.


Those holding a Schaumburg Library card as their home library can also remotely access the resources their tax payers pay for. Library visitors with a library membership in good standing can check out books as a reciprocal borrower but must return them to the Schaumburg library. Alternatively, they can ask for the check-out through interlibrary loan with their home library.


Businesses with a local establishment in Schaumburg are able to apply for a business library card. Home libraries we represented included: Elmhurst, Evanston, Hyde Park, Indian Trails, Saint Charles and Wheaton. Patricia stressed that patrons should bring up a resource they need with their home library. Librarians are actively looking for ways to serve the community, and making your needs known is the best way to do so.


She stressed however, that librarians can only direct you to resources, but not provide legal, personal, or medical advice (all have been asked of her!). Patricia does rely heavily on her network of professionals to refer any concerns patrons have to such professionals.


The library includes a large teen room with their own section of meeting rooms in which no adults are allowed. The teen room also has a green room with a digital production studio that is open to local businesses by reservation.


Children over 8 can be unaccompanied in the KidsZone. This area is monitored and adults without children cannot roam freely in that section.


The library also hosts book discussions through the fiction department. It also has a vast selection of CDs, DVDs, sheet music and other media.


There was a plethora of international resources in all areas, since the library actively engages with the international community. The library hosts English as a Second Language assistance and citizenship classes that are always full.


I am eager to cross-reference SPL’s resources with what my local library has to offer, and know that the Skokie Public Library also has a treasure trove of resources. Harold Washington’s business section is vast as well. Go find out what your library has to offer!

Language section

Photos courtesy


NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.


Summertime Reading

Summer weather is finally here, and I’ve been basking in the sunlight the past few days.


With the mighty success of NEW’s birthday party and fundraiser I declared Thursday a holiday.


Friday afternoon became another one as my family goaded me into watching the amazing World Cup opening game of team orange.


It was a blast sharing the joy of 5 goals via Facebook and Whatsapp.

hugging dandelions

Meanwhile I am doing some mental excavating and reprogramming as I read these affirmative books.


Lifelong patterns take a while to break, and re-identifying them to craft a life lived by purpose is important.


It’s not all brain acrobatics. I’m sprinkling in some childhood romance books, too.


What’s your summer reading?


Lady Lepidopterists

“Amongst the earliest known entomologists
were women of rank, wealth and fashion
who reared butterflies,
painted them and embroidered their images on cloth.”
~ Michael A. Salmon, The Aurelian Legacy

This month my Lady Lepidopterists encaustic collage is featured on Light Space & Time’s online gallery. This collage was in the works for some time, as I delved more into biographies of women who studied butterflies throughout 2012 after being so smitten with Maria Sybilla Merian.


I read Fiona Mountain’s Lady of the Butterflies about 17th Century Eleanor Glanville and was fascinated by the story of determination Eleanor had in spite of being considered eccentric and later being accused of insanity for her butterfly hunts.  The title page of that book is incorporated into the collage.

“Butterflies were Margaret’s key to freedom.
Studying them gave her a socially acceptable way to
exempt herself form a traditional domestic role on England. “
~ Natasha Scott-Stokes, Wild and Fearless

Thanks to the Evanston Public Library I also discovered botanist Ynes Mexia, author Hilda Simon, Margaret Fountaine, and a range of women naturalists mentioned in compilations or in passing. I am astounded by the bravery of these trailblazing women, who didn’t care that they were made out for lunatics but kept pursuing their passion in spite of societal and wardrobe constraints on women at the time. I also admire contemporary butterfly artists and researchers, and love discovering more.


The collage includes my drawing of a rice paper butterfly, also called the Large Tree Nymph. My friend and drawing teacher Lauren Coyne gave me this specimen when I took her drawing workshop a few summers ago.


“A lepidopterist or aurelian is
a person who specializes in the study of Lepidoptera,
members of an order encompassing moths and
the three superfamilies of butterflies,
skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies.”
~ Wikipedia 

In May 2012 my neighborhood was a butterfly haven and I saw my first Painted Ladies and Question Marks. I had never seen either of those butterfly species before, but both were feasting on the local foliage and were wonderful posers.


The Question Mark gets its name from the silver marking on its underwing, which resembles a question mark. It is similar to the Comma butterfly, which doesn’t have the ‘dot’ on its underwing, just a comma, and also doesn’t have the purplish edges on its wings that the Question Mark does.


Upon commemorating the brave woman lepidopterists of current and past centuries on my substrate (Eleanor Glanville, Margaret Cavendish, Maria Sybilla Merian, Lauren Levato Coyne, Hilda Simon, Rachel Ruysch, Emily Mary Bowdler Sharpe, Margaret Fountaine, Jeannine Oppewall), I layered encaustic medium and green hues of encaustic paint onto the surface.


“I was careering wildly after everything I saw,
though catching tropical butterflies was no easy matter,
the intense heat seemed to have a most invigorating effect on them.”
~ Margaret Fountaine, Love Among The Butterflies, 1907 in Mombasa

After a few layers I added the collage materials, with the large photo of the Question Mark going on last.


The 3rd Annual “All Women” Art Exhibition will be featured through April, and then move to the Light Space & Time Archives. The art in the Special Merit Category could have also been placed in the top tier of the entries selected, but due to size constraints was given its own category.


The gallery received 709 entries from 22 different countries from around the world, including Armenia, Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Sweden,  Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the Ukraine, and entries from 36 different states in the U.S.


You can peruse my butterfly art work on Etsy, including collages of various sizes and pendants.

“Reading about the lives of the collectors
we sense that they are people who,
however inept at dealing with matters of state,
have accidentally found the secret of happiness—
concentrating with astonishing tenacity
to the details of another parallel world—
rising above the ills to which human flesh is heir,
on the wings of the angelic butterfly.’

~Miriam Rothchild, June 1999, The Aurelian Legacy

Recommended butterfly/naturalist reading:

  • Ynes Mexia: Botanist and Adventurer, Durlynn Anema
  • Swallowtail Butterflies, Jane Dallinger
  • Butterflies and Moths, Ken Preston Mafham
  • Luna Moths: Masters of Change, Sandra Merkle
  • Butterflies and Moths -Eyewitness Handbook, David Carter
  • Wonders of the Butterfly World, Hilda Simon
  • An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect, Sharman Apt Russell
  • Lady of the Butterflies, Fiona Mountain
  • A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton Porter
  • Wild and Fearless: The Life of Margaret Fountaine, Natascha Scott-Stokes
  • Love Among the Butterflies: The Travels and Adventures of a Victorian Lady, Margaret Fountaine
  • The Aurelian Legacy: British Butterflies and their Collectors, Michæl A. Salmon, Peter Marren, Basil Harley
  • The Family Butterfly Book, Rick Mikula
  • Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver
  • Die Blumenkönigin. Ein Maria Sibylla Merian- Roman, Inez van Dulleman
  • Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, Kim Todd


Radvent 2012 8: Expression

“See your surroundings as a channel for self-expression.
What can you do to love where you are?”
~ Princess Lasertron

I decided to weed out my book cases this week, and it has me on a mad organizing bender. Basically I’ll be pulling everything down on the floor and then re-arranging the books. Prior to this though, I need to declutter the dining table, and that is much more work.


So enter Princess Lasertron’s Radvent post on expression, in which she writes: “Think about the spaces where you spend the most time, and how you can make them more meaningful.”

I’ve decided that my dining room will now be dubbed the library, because I never dine in there. The table functions as a desk during freelance projects, and a paper-catcher for most of the year.  When I moved in I had visions of entertaining, but I’ve only hosted one party in 7 years, while out-of-town visitors want to see the city instead of staying in.

It’s an interesting shift to realize that I don’t have to host parties, nor insist on using the dining table to dine on. After spending time in the studio my creative juices are too sapped to cook a meal, so I tend to whip up something easy or grab a pre-cooked meal out of the freezer. These are consumed in the living room, which is relaxing after sitting at the studio table most of the afternoon. For a nice meal I tend to make an occasion of it and have a restaurant cook for me.

So I look forward to thinking about the flow of the room in terms of a true library, where I keep my favorite books and also have a good system in place to keep the paper accumulation at bay. With pillows the radiator cover could serve as a cozy reading nook.


Un-used books will be donated to a local resale shop, where they can inspire others. A few titles I feel I should read will go on a designated 2013 shelf. If after all these years I still haven’t touched them in 2013, they’ll become part of the 2014 donation pile.

While I enjoy being a bibliophile and there are some books I’m genuinely attached to, the public library is a fabulous place to check things out from and not bring more things into one’s space. Fascinating passages get recorded in my quote book, and if I find myself jotting down a lot I put the book on my wishlist for later. Borrowing books can also be a lovely bonding experience. One friendship is bound by the love of Anne of Green Gables, whom we quote to each other to this day.

My place will never be truly streamlined (I know myself well enough by now) but I do enjoy taking cues from “Move your stuff, change your life” on occasion.

“Try using a different space in your house for a few days
and see what feelings come to you.
Even just a photo or a candle can help make you feel more grounded,
connected, and grateful for what you have.”
~ Princess Lasertron

on my desk(s)

The past week was spent getting my house in order for 2012.

Mopped floors, clean clothes and the new shower curtain smell make me feel quite accomplished! I read a bunch of follow-up information and then ‘crashed’ a little Monday from the ideas mulling in my brain, the shift in goals from new years resolutions past, and absorbing all the familial energies over the holiday.

I highly recommend Susan Vreeland’s Clara and Mr. Tiffany. It has me perusing Tiffany lamp books to learn more about Clara Driscoll, a nature-loving glass artist.

Books about Tiffany Lamps

The Passion of Artemisia and The Forest Lover (about Emily Carr) are captivating too.

This of course is spurning more research about other women artists, along with reviewing the art work and science of their subject matter.

research about women in arts

I’m also mulling over a Swallowtail project.

My toner ran out of ink which gives me creative license with the color scheme. There’s no way to pass a ‘white’ Tiger Swallowtail off as a Zebra Swallowtail.

Swallowtail project by Maike's Marvels

Did you have any good holiday reads? What is your research topic du jour?

Reflective reading

Welcome to November 2011, everyone!

October was reflective for me because it marks the anniversary of my sabbatical decision last year. I am very happy about this year and all the explorations, surprises and growth opportunities it has brought.

Interestingly, an opportunity I was looking for last year has arisen now, so it is doubly important to evaluate my goals. I also see affirmations in the path I am on now, which indicates all options are wide open to me. It seems sometimes we are particularly preoccupied with whether to move forward or retrace some steps in life.

Maike's Marvels certificate
My new business license marks quite a milestone

Meanwhile, there are a few exhibits to attend this week as I explore the local artistic market more. I’m also reading a lot about social media to get my head around an online strategy that suits me.

Maike's Marvels is contemplating a social media strategy
Sifting through social media approaches

Maria Sybilla Merian is still on my mind as well as I play with butterfly assemblages in the studio.

Chrysalis about Maria Sibylla Merian by Kim Todd
Continuing my butterfly research


Butterfly collages by Maike's Marvels, mixed media and encaustic
Dancing Wings collages by Maike’s Marvels with Holly Berry Designs

I am now taking custom orders for holiday cards and gifts. Send me a message if you are interested in ordering Christmas/New Year’s cards or want to gift a special wall vignette to someone.

support local artists sign
Loving this floating Facebook post my cousin found