Casey's and Sloane's Blog

Casey Faces Her Election Frustration

I am buying myself a new piece of jewelry today. I know many of you know I am being completely serious. But, for people who don’t know me as well, let me explain.

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Posted in Artistic Inspiration, Artists, Collections, Jewelry, Mental Health, Shopping, Small Business | Leave a comment

Carrying The Beauty With Me

It is a well-known fact that when you are under-the-weather you can look a little homeless.

This past Tuesday, after being at a local cancer center for a family visit for a little over four hours, I stopped and picked up a sandwich at a place where I have eaten for years and years before returning to my work. Early that evening, it was all I could point to that could be possibly making me feel pretty yucky in the lower regions, besides a slice of banana bread at 7am.

By the next morning, I was spent. All signs pointed to a “little food poisoning”, of which there is another well-known fact that “little” has no point in that description. I steadied myself enough to take a shower and head on into work, where I lasted ten whole minutes. I  aborted my mission, canceled two imperative meetings, and drove myself back home. Slowly.

To digress: On my drive to work, I had phoned my sister and told her of the night’s excitements. She listened, she told me to stay home, and we hung up. Since she was my sister, I had regaled her with details about exit strategies my body had available and my thankfulness that only one had been utilized. I was yet to be visited by a quick and high fever, so I we didn’t talk about that.


When I arrived at work, she handed me this amazing flower in a wine bottle. True beauty, that flower. She told me I looked like I had been as busy as I had said and that she still thought I should head home. I glared at her with eyes that reminded her that I was the boss of me, not her. Then I cancelled my meetings, grabbed all my things and my wine bottle friend, and said goodbye. By then, leaving was entirely my idea, not hers. See the difference?

The rest of that day, while I battled my sheets and a fever that slightly scared my husband, I carried that hydrangea from room to room with me, but mostly we resided in the bedroom. It stayed upright. Me? Not so much. I would occasionally find myself begging for mercy, but it was all mostly calming down and I was sleeping.

Slow and steady won the race, and I was back at work on Thursday at the meetings I had moved. Rip-roaring and ready to go; that was me. Lie. I moved tenderly and precisely as I relearned my body and her edges.

I had left the flower at home, which was actually hard to do. This sucker is huge and beautiful, and it saw me through a day like no other in the last ten years. I don’t do sick, but I know I looked homeless carrying a wine bottle stuffed with a perfect flower with me for a whole day. It’s a pure certainty.


More lies: That first sentence should also lose the word “little”. You look homeless, plain and simple.

Truth: I mean no disrespect to any homeless people anywhere. Ever.

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Posted in Family, Health, Work | 1 Comment

10 Questions for Amy Meya

We are excited to launch a series of blogs about the creative people we represent.

The 10 Questions for Artists, Creators and Inventors Series will feature ten questions – chosen by our employee team. The ten answers have been written by the artists, creators and/or inventors who make the work we proudly sell. We have included a photo of the featured person, supplied by them, and a few images of their work currently available at our store.

10 Questions for Amy Meya: Ceramic Artist

1. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

From the time we first worked with clay in elementary school I told my mom: “if I could just be in a room with lots of windows and work with clay all day, my life would be fulfilled”, she said “yeah, well, that is a nice dream”. Dreams can come true!



2. Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

When my first son was only a few months old NCECA, the ceramics arts conference was here in KC, one of my best friends, Angela, and I took him to all the galleries to see the work. The following year Angela and I decided to do all the gallery shows again, this time the conference was in San Diego, my sister was living there, so we had a free place to crash. We took my then one year old with us and went to all the gallery shows, he must have picked up on all our ooooohhhing and aaahhhhing, when we walked into the 6th or so gallery he pointed to a large red platter hanging on the wall and said “oh, wow!” These were his first two words strung together. That moment inspires me.

3. What’s your favorite book or movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much?

One of my favorite movies of all time is “Mr. Mom”, my sisters and I would watch this over and over, we could quote it the entire way through. I love this movie for so many reasons, but now, (I re-watched it when it came out on Netflix) I love it because it is a movie that demonstrates that staying home with kids is also a full time job and families need to figure out a work/home balance.

4. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

The “Nature Island” Dominica in the West Indies. Rainbows everyday, waterfalls, black sand beaches, steep mountains and a thick lush rain forest. Heaven on earth!

A. Meya Original at a store named STUFF


5. What’s your favorite smell in the whole world?

Garlic cooking.

6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I can’t pick just one, I have a deep seated wanderlust. Lately I have been wanting to go to New Zealand and Thailand, and Indonesia, I guess generally Southeast Asia. Also, South America, I would love to go to Peru and Argentina.

A. Meya Original at a store named STUFF


7. Which fictional character do you wish you could meet?

Here I go again dating myself, but Indiana Jones.

8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Work on your goals everyday, even if it is only a little bit some days, just do something to move yourself toward your goals because it all adds up in the end.

A. Meya Original at a store named STUFF


9. Cake or pie?

Definitely pie, sweet potato pie that isn’t sweet, a more savory pie spiced with lots of rich favors.

10. What is your dream project?

My dream, and current goal, is to figure out a way to work in the Caribbean for four months out of the year, the extremely cold four months to be exact.

 – Amy Meya, September 2016

We hope you enjoy this new series. Stay tuned for more. Pursue good stuff…

Casey & Sloane

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Posted in Art, Artistic Inspiration, Artists, Books, Collections, Food, Memories, Reading, Travel | Leave a comment

Finding My Way

I haven’t posted to our blog for a long time. If you follow our blog you may have noticed or maybe, if I am lucky, you didn’t. I left you in very good hands. My sister, Sloane, has been keeping our blog well tended with her lovely writing and unique point of view.

I have been overwhelmed. I don’t feel pressured to have an excuse. I am just ready to write it down and share it. Life has been challenging for me. I am no different than most of the people I know. Everyone is busy living fast and furious it seems. And, sometimes circumstances can knock you on your ass for awhile. That is what happened to me.

When I have challenges that I cannot change, or I am not in the position to change, I rage against my impotence. I am conditioned to my high energy “get it done” personality. So when it is ineffective in a situation I burn ruts in the ground just trying to move something, anything, forward.

I could not change the hurdles that were placed before me this past year. I flailed about grabbing for something to change. My frustrations finally landed on my home. As time marched on I became laser focused on everything wrong with my property. I fed my pain by blaming myself for my inability to find the time and energy to get any projects done. Top of my list was my yard and gardens.

I would drive up my drive and say to myself, “See those weeds and those overgrown vines, do you see them? You are right, your life is awful. Why can’t you get your shit together? Look at your yard. It’s a mess.” You see, that is what I do when I feel helpless, I beat myself up.

I felt so overwhelmed. I began fantasizing about selling my home and moving into a small apartment with no yard, where everything was brand new and I lived on the 130th floor where nobody could find me. I appetite to run away from home was insatiable.

I was advised to sit still and let time help me get to the other side. I wanted to scream. Sit still? Screw that! There are things that must be done. Can you not see the weeds in my yard? I am being covered by weeds Why can’t you see the weeds? Doesn’t anyone see the weeds? I have to pull the weeds.

It was grim.

A few weeks ago, I took this photo with my phone one morning when I was impatiently waiting for my daughter to get out the front door.

casey simmons 2016This beautiful vignette of my courtyard. I started pulling the image up on my phone to view it randomly. I found it captivating. I wanted to know why I couldn’t avoid sneaking a peek at it a couple times a day. It soothed me.

There was that vine that had slowly and patiently, over the entire summer, crawled it’s way from behind a big planter squeezed against my fence, climbed over two plants, around a metal sculpture and was reaching down to the ground to find it’s footing. It is beautiful.

It began to validate me. I realized I was like that vine. I just need to give myself time to find my way.

I am now pulling a handful of the weeds each day. I am going slowly.


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Posted in Blogging, Gardening, Mental Health, Relationships, Women | 2 Comments

Hands Free Existence

I seldom have my phone in my hand. I do not enter stores – even the grocery store – without my handbag. In that handbag is my wallet, phone, keys, and too much more. I like a “hands free” existence, although lugging around my beautiful handbag can get old. Heavy, physically and emotionally. Technically, it’s on my shoulder, so, therefore, I am “hands free”.

onetwo For years and years, I took photos on a camera. A Canon PowerShot. I made sure I had it with me for daily life and special events. I have carried it in my evening bags along with only cash for tips, my reading glasses, and Chapstick when attending charity events. At one such event, one of my cool, hip, young friends said, “Look, an old-fashioned camera.” It didn’t phase me, and all my photos came out nice and crisp. I still carry the camera every day, and it might just be a lifetime member of the “too much more” referred to in paragraph one.


Lately, it sees little use, as the lens on my phone has become better and better. Or I have become so at taking photos, which is highly doubtful.


However, I refuse to hold my phone in my hand, and I have lately taken to stopping and digging for it when I want to take a photo. Usually I am with other people and talking while strolling, and I want to stay “in the moment” with them. I register what I would like to photograph in my mind and wait for the conversation to find a resting spot, and then, excusing myself,  I walk back to what caught my eye. In museums, I wait until I have walked the entire exhibition and then ask a guard for permission, all while traipsing back through the show. Art is always worth the second look, especially when viewed in the opposite direction and against the flow.


I am not afraid of missing a shot, because I am not a professional photographer. I am, however, afraid of missing what’s right in front of me – my friends, my loves, curious strangers, the familiar, the unknown – because my face is buried in a screen and fidgeting with buttons and prompts.


This past August, I traveled to New York City and New Jersey for work. I was not alone, and my husband and sister made for delightful travel companions. Besides, our son had worked an internship on his campus in Hoboken over the summer, and he was my reward after two long summer months at home without him.


My phone stayed in my briefcase, and many times I was heard to say, “Just a minute. I want to  take a picture.” My walking companions would linger while I sought what had been fleeting. Then, as a group, we moved on.

I liked it.


p.s. All these photographs were taken in August with my phone’s camera, the last photo captured with my son’s right arm built in selfie stick. Some were posted to STUFF’s Facebook page and some to my Instagram account. One of my favorites from the trip is on Instagram and is the first time I’ve every really tried to photograph neon at night. Look for it here.

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Posted in Family, Travel | 2 Comments

What Luxury Is To Me

A week ago, my husband and I puttered around one of my favorite places, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. There were several things I was itching to see, and the current show on Roman luxury was one of three inside the museum walls that was calling to me.

Near the end of our meanderings through the outstanding Luxury: Treasures of the Roman Empire exhibit, there was a great spot where the curators and museum staff provided little cards, pencils, and a spot to write what we thought luxury was in our lives. Now. Currently.


luxury 1


I wrote nothing down, because I wasn’t wanting to think that hard on that particular day. However, I read every piece on the large board. Handwritten tomes were held delicately to the fabric with satin ribbon. You just slid your thought in with the others and moved on with your life.


luxury 2

luxury 3


The musings of others ran from serious to humorous, insightful to flippant. I loved reading every word. These were my people on my planet in this epoch. This was important, as the Romans had proved in rooms right behind me.

The next morning, early, I realized exactly what I would have written: “freedom from alarm clocks”.


luxury 4


I was serious about it and found it very insightful.


p.s. Photo credits for the top three photos must go to Harl Van Deursen, who cracked up quietly at quite a few. The final photo belongs to me. I love the rays of daylight hitting the dusty bedside table.

p.p.s. I strongly recommend seeing the show at The Nelson. In addition, pop in and see the photo collections of Peter J. Cohen in Anonymous Art. Heck, while you’re at it, you can cry like I did at the new acquisition of Nick Cave’s Property. Wow.

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Posted in Art, Humor | Leave a comment

Behemoths and Mach Speed

Our son has been back in New Jersey, where he goes to college, since mid-June. He was home briefly for deep sleep, a little touch of his old life, and a thrilling one-time experience. It was a month just like any other – it moved slowly for the first few days and then just went way too fast.



He has an internship at his university this summer and is loving every minute of it. When we talk on the phone on Sundays, I can hear the smile in his voice as he tells me about the past week and snippets of his weekend. He loves what he’s doing, and he loves being “in the City” for the summer. The campus is quieter, but New York is seven minutes away when he gets off work.




In my time after work and on my vacation, I have continued to make plans for recovering parts of our home that had been dedicated to his upbringing. One of those rooms is one we referred to as “Dakota’s Playroom” when he was a young child and “Dakota’s Sitting Room” when he was in high school. The air hockey table is still in the center of the room, but his desk is near the window where he sat every night for the four years of high school and plowed through homework.

This air hockey table is now doing double duty as the table for LEGO creations left by our young man. The behemoth was carefully covered with a custom cotton sheet to protect the little tiny air holes from becoming clogged with the dust that settles when children move along. A constant and huge reminder of the quickness of childhood and lazy days, it has seen little use for years.




For the past several weeks, I have been churning over in my head my plans for this room’s next incarnation. It has a fireplace in it that has not seen a flame or log in twenty years. Parental exhaustion and limited time are the culprits. The nightly rushes toward a child’s bedtime did not make for the quiet caring that a fire demands. Peace and quiet and a slightly slower pace have just come back in style around here.




Last night, I began the reclamation of at least the desk, knowing that, if I can get through that, the rest will fall into place. Its surface has remained strewn with his keepsakes and treasures for the past year. Almost a year ago, I ceased crying every time I walked by this museum of study. These are daily journeys, and the dust got deeper and deeper as I was still unable to really move anything.




It’s now empty, the desk. Nothing went in the trash can, but all was thoroughly dusted and either placed neatly in the drawers of the desk or taken down the hall to his bedroom and placed on shelves and dresser tops. Tear-free, I moved silently through the task, only stopping occasionally to answer the dog’s questions about particular placement.

Tear-free. Well, for over one hour.

Completely done and turning to change clothes in an adjoining room, I saw the air hockey table and the LEGOs. I had the common sense to not use the cotton rag saturated with Pledge to wipe my eyes.

That’s what trashed out tee shirts are for, and I was handily inside one. They quietly soak up memories of long afternoons of “competitions” between a short young man and his taller mother. During back-to-back games, I worried constantly about him losing teeth as I gently pushed that floating puck towards him. How horrible, I thought, if it jumped that one inch barrier and took out all his front teeth? How will I explain this to every one, especially his father? He won constantly, because he didn’t care how hard he hit it back in my direction. He was looking for mach speed. I was always a little too slow in my reactions to his amazing force.




The air hockey table and the LEGOs are to be dealt with next. The LEGOs have found a permanent home in my mind’s plans for the room. The air hockey table will be finding a new home outside of these walls.

Damn. Nineteen years flew by. One competition, one night of homework, and one LEGO creation at a time.



p.s. All photos in this post were taken in the short time he was home this summer. The one below was captured at the airport when we sent him back East, just minutes before a torrential downpour inside my car. It passed like summer rain, and I quickly dried my face and turned the car toward home.



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Posted in Children, Decorating, Family, Memories, Motherhood | 2 Comments


In the past week, mediation has come up three times in casual conversation. Among women my age, with a new male friend much younger than me, with a customer at STUFF. We’ve consumed many minutes discussing apps with good “voices”, best time of day, and length of dedicated time. All of this and much more.


I have tried traditional meditation on and off. It’s neither that I don’t like the “voice” on the apps I’ve chosen nor that I can’t find my quiet. It’s that I don’t want to be led. So, I improvise and sit in the deep quiet of the room I dress in – which is also my home office – most mornings and listen. Eyes closed, I have been known to work down a list of people I keep taped to the inside of my eyelids. This list changes and is filled with people that I want to benefit from focused energy.

But my favorite mediation comes in the summer. In water where I can barely touch bottom, I lie on my back and float in deep pools of silence. And, again, I listen.

My heart speaks to me, and stress evaporates.


p.s. Three or four summers ago, I became transfixed with the form of my son under water. I possibly took several hundred photos of him in the ocean and in the Fairway Pool. The quote is mine, from a time in my life that was more challenging than others. A long time ago, water healed and protected me. It still does. A friend put the two pieces together, seen above, as a gift to me.

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Posted in Health, Mental Health | 2 Comments

Catching Flak


This is my new handbag. I love it. Very much.




Where the flak is launched from is Harl and Dakota, my husband and my son. They hear me kvetch about how much I hate the one I am hoping to replace, and they listen to me rave about the new one.

The last bag I carried was not my favorite. Ever. It was just holding a place for what I was really looking for. I have entered a phase of my life where a bag you just dump everything into is not going to work. As a grown woman, I look crazy when I am up to my elbows in my bag digging for a pen or my phone. I speak solely from experience and do not speak about other women; that would be poor form.

This bag is hand-crafted from reclaimed pieces of Afghani fabrics. A single comfortable leather handle. It hangs perfectly. It’s all wonderful and good. Currently perfect.

What’s the absolute best, however, is that it has two amazing pockets on the outside – one for the blasted phone and one for the lauded reading glasses. If that wasn’t enough to send me into convulsions of excitement, there are two more inside – one for my car keys and one for my Sharpie pens. Right at the top. Right where I need them to be. The rest of my existence can fall to the bottom.



I have caught many comments from the peanut gallery the past few days as I’ve entered into my new love affair. Dakota gives the bag “three months” before it becomes a loathed item. Harl, wisely, has tried to keep his mouth shut – “tried” being the key word.



p.s. The photo of the peanut gallery was taken a few nights ago on an outing. The photo of my new, fantastic bag was taken this morning while it rested easily in air-conditioned comfort in the front seat of my new, used car. To read more about that sweet ride, click here.

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Posted in Family, Fashion | 2 Comments

Thirty Five Years Down The Trail


I am a Girl Scout. I will always be a Girl Scout. I am not a Troop Leader and am not in charge of a pack of young women.




Just this past weekend, I returned to the Girl Scout camp of my childhood and ran smack-dab into fantastic memories that were laced with the amazing women who were troop leaders and were in charge of packs of young women.




Girl Scouts is more than cookies. Girl Scouts is leadership training at its core. It is subtle and covert in its training, so as to not cause bucking from those who aren’t ready to be “trained”.




If you tell a ten year old they are being “trained”, they will most likely tell you “so long”. But if you cloak the training in figuring it out for yourself, for accounting for your actions, for calculating progress, for tracking efforts, and for showing others the ins and outs, you will end up with a young woman – and a grown woman – who can hold her own and has the ability to troubleshoot and succeed. And, most importantly, one who will find the lessons in a failure or set-back.




I was raised to believe that women and girls can do anything. I still believe that and pass it on to women far younger than me. If you say you can’t, then you’ve set yourself up for failure. If you say you will give it your best, you’re more than halfway there.




The young women who were my counselors at camp were most likely only five to ten years older than me. I talked to one a few days ago in the wilds of Missouri, and I vividly remember her. If I could find my Juniors book, her handwriting and counselor name (Snickers) would be in there.




I can only imagine it was written with a firm hand and in ink. Much like a yearbook, at the end of camp every summer you had your counselors sign your book. I thought these women hung the moon, and in two I can easily recall desiring to be just like them. Strong. Sure-footed. Fearless. A leader.




At ten, when I first went to camp, I was none of those four things. Well, OK, I was strong but tried to hide it. That comes with being taller than all your friends and therefore “bigger”.




I spent way too much time trying to blend in, look shorter, and be seen as weak. Crazy concepts to me now, but crystal clear in my mind.




I went to summer camp for only four summers. They have blended into one long summer in my memories, but the distinct differences in the four summers came screaming back to me when I stood under the very old oak trees a few days ago. Water Wonderful was one. Outback Adventures another. Two more that held my focus then but whose names escape me.




I have never shied away from saying I am a Girl Scout, and I never will. I was able to walk the hills and trails of the camp of my youth for her last day of seeing campers, having walked those same paths thirty-five years ago.




The camp I remember – Camp Oakledge – has changed hands, and the land will now be the responsibility of others. I can only hope that the new ownership has a few Girl Scouts in their midst who will know exactly how to leave the land better than they found it, a basic tenet of Girl Scouting.


p.s. Those boxes of Girl Scout cookies do change the lives of young women all over your city. They make strong, sure-footed, fearless young leaders and help fund all they wish to accomplish. You don’t have to eat the cookies, but I always recommend buying them.

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Posted in Memories, Women | 4 Comments