Recycled Dresses and Papier-mâché Messes

Meet Olivia Mears.

Olivia in 2015's Wrapping Paper Dress

Olivia in Avant-Geek 2015’s Wrapping Paper Dress

I met Olivia at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. It was a rainy day and we spent the entire day touring the inside of the Biltmore. We spent the previous day touring the grounds and other areas of the Biltmore Estate. My husband, four year old son, and I were exhausted as we rode on the shuttle back to the parking lot. And what do you know — a princess was waiting at the bus stop for the shuttle in a princess dress.  My son exclaimed, “Look Mama! There’s the princess who lives at the castle.”  It was a precious serendipitous moment and she added the perfect magic ending to our amazing day.

I invited her to share her profile with us. She is a very talented young lady and she is certainly going places. It is my pleasure to introduce you to our first Monday Muse Maker, Olivia of Avant-Geek.


I hope… Artists come in all shapes and sizes, presenting different forms of art. There will always be those who claim what they do is not art, or is a waste of time/materials. I’ve watched fellow artists become discouraged and leave their craft behind them. I hope I never give up on what I do. It is what I love to do and it brings smiles to people’s faces; I hope I never need anymore of a reason than that.

I wish… I wish to inspire more and more people. I feel that my artwork is something many people don’t think about doing themselves until they see it. I love getting messages from people who’ve been motivated to create their own wearable art/recycled dresses after seeing or hearing about mine.
I dream… I want to take on every request I receive, but I’m not quite skilled enough yet. One day, maybe I’ll be making dresses for Lady Gaga or Katy Perry! A girl can dream! 
I am…
Ambitious. Without ambition I wouldn’t push myself to create so many new pieces out of challenging materials.
Innovative. Show someone a pile of bottle caps and they may just see trash. I’m always looking at how to incorporate items like this into my work. It’s all about perspective!
Composed. I’m only 23 years-old, but I’ve already learned to not let negative emotions interfere with success. It’s difficult to not feel overwhelmed some days, but it’s necessary to keep a cool head and continue on. I think that’s the only reason I’m able to create new work so quickly; I just don’t think about how much I have left to do and suddenly it’s done! 
Three Things about Me:
I am from Laurinburg, NC, and am Western Carolina University alumni.
While my most common artwork deals with unconventional fashion, oil painting is my favorite medium (especially when I get to use my fingers).   

A Victorian Paper Dress (entirely paper and glue)

Dress by wall


A Paint Dress (acrylic and latex paint)


Picasso Dress (hand-painted card-stock and foam)


Toilet Paper Wedding dress (entirely from TP, glue, and tape). Photo courtesy of Charmin and Cheap Chic Weddings.


2015’s Wrapping Paper Dress


2015’s Wrapping Paper Dress

wrappingpaperdress_imgur (1)

2014’s Wrapping paper dress

You can find more of Olivia Mears’ work on her Facebook and Instagram pages.


If you would like to be featured for Monday Muse Makers, email me at or reply in the comments you are interested in being featured.  I will include links to your social media accounts and blog if you share them.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

~ memomuse

Monday Museletter — April 2, 2012

Monday Museletter

April Fool

Happy April!  Hope you didn’t get too fooled on April Fool’s Day.  On April Fool’s Day, I felt like a fool. Many of my cowboy photos have been copied off the internet and been put into Google searches with someone’s else name and website.  It makes me feel like a fool for not protecting my photos with watermarks.  When I first started in 2009, I went with the muse and shared my images, hoping to celebrate and inspire others.  I was very naïve.  People stole my images with the right-click one two move, not even thinking about the fact that this was my art. So I have to buckle down and purchase a watermark program and I also have to watch what I put on the internet.  The good news is one of my photos is so artistic and visually appealing that a professional bull rider is using my photo as his Facebook profile photo (the photo is of him).

This same photo has been reposted (without credit to me) on a Southern Romance Writer’s website, a cute faces website, a bunch of other websites, and you can Google the cowboy’s name (Brian Canter) and the website origin on Google says it started at this website (an all-girls school). The website address above says the name of the girls’ school and Canterbury Tales.

Image source:
Where were these cliff notes when I needed them in college?

Anyway, this photo below of the cowboy, is just one of my photos that has not been credited back to me as the artist. Some teenage girl must have copied it from  my website and put it in a Canterbury Tales paper. I really have no idea. But Canterbury Tales and Caymen farmers are in the web address when you go to the link.  Any Canterbury Tales scholars out there know how this photo would connect to Caymen farmers from Canterbury Tales?  I remember reading it (or skimming) it in college when I took the best class, which I did not appreciate, at the time (unfortunately) — Western Civilization.  In fact, it was a great class –  every weekday, but it was my freshman and sophomore year in college.  Let’s just say academics were not really my focus.  The course was designed to tell the history of Western Civilization from five perspectives — Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and History.

Back to one of the photos that was pirated:  I am telling the world right now — this is my photo!

"Brian Canter" (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved

I took it.  Someone acknowledge it, darn it.  I am working on getting the image correctly credited to the website it originated at: –  I have since made this website password protected  since so many people stole my photos.  I am in the process of putting together the photos to publish a coffee table photo book. The website address above says the name of the girls’ school and Canterbury Tales.   Anyway, this is just one of my photos that has not been credited back to me as the artist.

I get really upset because photography is an art and if a painter spent a lot of time on a painting and someone else claimed to have painted it, that would be just as upsetting.  People think they can just take photos on the internet because they google a name or a place.  But an artist took the time and practiced precision, patience, and craft to capture a beautiful moment, image, place, or portrait.  The photo is so good that Brian Canter, a professional bull rider is using it as his profile photo on Facebook.  This I don’t mind, but I would like to be given proper credit.  It is my copyrighted photo.

Please credit an artist when you share a photo.  Or better yet, contact the artist and ask his or her permission if you can share their work.  They probably will say, “Yes.”  Artists do not create with the intention of getting rich.  Have you ever met a rich artist who got rich from their art right away?  Artists create because the muse is in us! I won’t get started about how some of my other cowboy photos are on other websites.


The silver lining to all this is one of my photos has been properly identified on Pinterest as me being the photographer.

I have had this photo also pinned on Pinterest with my name given.

I have not looked much at Pinterest. The photo is credited to  Bad news is I had to take that website down because so many photos got pirated.  But I am working on getting the new website up to date with watermarks and flash so photos can’t be stolen.  I do offer photos for sale at this website:

Food Review

I am working on a food review for  This should be posted on late this week.  I will also share the link of the review on this website, Twitter and Facebook.  The last food review I wrote for was for Wheat Thins — it is a review of Wheat Thins 100% Whole Grain crackers.  “What do The Colbert Report, Family Guy, a disbelieving Twitterer, a hiker stuck under a rock, and Wheat Thins all have in common?  They all are part of the new advertising launch of the new Wheat Thins made with 100% whole grain.” – opening line of review Click on this link to read it.


I am trying to find balance as a stay-at-home mom, writer, and creative.  I still struggle with the desire to go back to work full-time outside the home and finding balance with being OK with just being a stay-at-home mom. There is no just to being a stay-at-home mom.  That is not what I mean by that statement.  What I am really trying to communicate is the idea that just being a stay-at-home mom should be enough.  It is one heck of a job.  I think I say it more poignantly in this post, Red Belly Slide. I have always been driven by needing to do something. Call it dysfunctional, call it people pleasing, call it a need for validation, call it a need to achieve, call it motivation– I call it a nuisance.  I can’t quiet the storm inside me that says, “Capture that moment – everything is art – the next project – the next mountain to climb – etc. etc.  I was always very competitive.  I remember learning to shoot hoops because my older sister was shooting hoops.  I wanted to do what she did.  I have little sister syndrome, I guess.  I know that art lives in me and I can’t quiet the storm, so I paint it.  But sometimes I wish I could just watch a beautiful sunset without having to tell someone about it.  But then again I wouldn’t have this photo to show you — this photo was taken at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. The photo is available on my Flickr account. There is a link to my Flickr account in the sidebar.

"Blue Ridge Sunset...ahh the Beauty!" (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved

The moments when I feel most at peace though is when I am away from the computer – this can be when I am with my son, outside in nature, or celebrating the muse by writing or taking photos.    I wrote this poem, Dazzle yesterday when my husband was kind enough to give me some time alone to write.  I did not have my camera with me on the porch and a cardinal flew right up into a Dogwood tree in my front yard. There is something majestic about the color contrast of a bright red male against the intense white blooms of a Dogwood in full bloom.  And also how a female blends into the tree, camouflaged by the brown branches.  Listening to the male court the female and the female floating through the air is like watching taffy being made through a glass window at a beach town soda shop — like watching poetry being made — beautiful.

"Bloom" (c) Megan Oteri - All Right Reserved
Bloom: You are beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong. Happy spring. - memomuse


I have an article I am working on that I am very excited about.  I can’t tell you many more details, but I certainly will when the article comes out.  It is a great story.  I am very passionate about the subject and the magazine is very reputable.  I have to say that serendipity is the word that comes to mind when I think about how the opportunity unfolded!

#Brain Tumor Thursday

"One" - (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved
"Remember, it only takes one person, one thought, one word, one smile to make a difference in someone's life." - memomuse

I have volunteered my time and blog to write and host a weekly column for the brain tumor community.  I met this amazing community through Twitter accidentally when I had put in a hash tag, #brain tumors, when I had this photo, Brain Tumors, up for voting at   You can vote for Talenthouse entries through you Twitter or Facebook account. Every Thursday, there are many people trying to raise awareness about malignant and benign brain tumors in the Twitter community.  Their stories are inspirational.

My mother has had benign, slow growing brain tumors since 2000, at least they were diagnosed in 2000.  For some readers, #Brain Tumor Thursday will be a source of inspiration and hope.  For some, it may be something you don’t wish to hear about.  I understand both sides.  I still can’t watch any visual media that eludes or shows a brain surgery.  But I can listen and read people’s stories about it no problem at all.   My mother had brain surgery in 2000 to put a shunt in her brain to drain the fluid on her brain from the pressure of the tumors.  This surgery saved her life.

Anyway, the template for the tumor patients to fill out is based on my motto: Hope. Wish. Dream. Be. If you wish to read about the launch of this weekly column on my blog, read this post, #Brain Tumor Thursday.  You can also catch up by reading the first profile, which got posted last Thursday (3/29) about Tom McLain.  It is inspirational. They fill in the blank: I hope… I wish… I dream… I am (be)… Then they share three things about themselves, a picture, and a favorite quote if they want. #Brain Tumor Thursday will be posted on my blog every Thursday.

#Brain Tumor Thursday on memomuse goes International

BT Buddies, a non-profit organization from England, that offers support and information for brain tumor patients, has expressed interest in hosting the profiles on their website, dedicating a section to these amazing stories and profiles.    If you know me or my writing, you know it is heavy at times.  That is just who I am.  I think the human condition is what great literature is about.  And I think everybody has a story.  So, if you want something light on Thursdays, you might want to steer clear – some of the profiles are intense.

This Thursday, a woman shares her story of having a baseball size tumor removed.  She truly is a brave person.  And living courageously with a disease.

As Rocky says, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.”  But the thing is, storms create rainbows and this woman is a rainbow of living, breathing hope and inspiration for the brain tumor community and others.

Mini Muse Interviews

If you, as a regular reader, would like to participate in the Hope. Wish. Dream. Be. mini muse interviews, you can fill out the template and I will post them in the Mini Muse Interviews section of this blog.  It is a current project and you don’t have to have a brain tumor to participate.  We all have hopes, wishes, and dreams and most importantly – we all ARE. We be!  Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.  If you would like to see an example of a Mini Muse Interview, click on this link or go to the tab up top that says, “Mini Muse Interviews.”  It would be great for you to participate!  You can email me at if you are interested.

Just LeDoux It – Chris LeDoux

As most of you know, I am from Wyoming.  I call Wyoming home and it always will be.  But my home travels with me — Wyoming is in my heart.  I carry the courage, cowboys, cowgirls, pride, people, landscape, and stories within me — within my muse.  You can view my portfolio here, which has a lot of my Wyoming photos.  One of my favorite poets and rodeo cowboys is Chris LeDoux.  Sadly, he died in 2005 from cancer.  He was an exceptional human being who really portrayed the essence of the cowboy code.  He wrote poems while he was traveling the rodeo circuit, which he turned into country music songs.  These are some of the lyrics from “Cadillac Cowboy,” and he mentions Cheyenne, and he is referencing the Daddy of em’ All of rodeos!

Turn up that radio

Don’t wanna think about a rodeo

Don’t wanna think about a round-up

Up in old Cheyenne

It’s a crazy circuit

But still you work it

Chris LeDoux graduated from the same high school I did in Cheyenne.  I was lucky enough to meet him in person and see his beautiful smile and be LUCKY enough to have him smile directly at me.  After a long day of taking photos at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo (where most of my cowboy photos come from), my buddy, Thumper,  who worked behind the chutes, told me, “Be back here at 5.  It will be worth your while.”   I didn’t have any film left and I couldn’t go home, so I took Thumper’s advice. I have a story about meeting Chris, which I will post on this website when voting for his photo opens on April 16.  So stay tuned.

Here is the link to the photo, Chris LeDoux,  You can click on the link and become a supporter today.  By becoming a supporter, you will be sent an email from Talenthouse when voting opens, reminding you to vote.

One Ride is a musical celebrating Chris’ music and tells the story of the rodeo cowboy.  Check out the website, One Ride, to find more info.  You can also find information about the musical, One Ride, at the Chris LeDoux offical website and you can listen to lots of his beautiful country songs.  When you click on the website, you will be greeted by one of my favorite songs, “Old Paint.”  Click here to read the lyrics to that song. Chris was a true cowboy bard and poet.

National Poetry Month

National Poetry month is April!  Write a poem.  Read a poem.  Think a poem.  You are a poem. I will share my favorite poem:


Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune–without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.

– Emily Dickinson

My Muse – My Son

My son is my muse.  He is a full blown toddler.  He is into everything and is as curios as a bee in spring.  I am so lucky to be a mom, as I had several miscarriages in the past and struggled with infertility for many years.  I am blessed and everyday I am thankful to be able to enjoy his energy and enthusiasm for life.  Like right now, he is pouring coffee on the floor.  But at least, it is the wood floors and not on top of my computer. Ben’s favorite March flower was the daffodil and he plucked every single one off its stem and gave my husband or me it.  I wonder what his April flower will be?  What is your favorite April bloom?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a flower per say — maybe an annual event or occurrence.

"Spring Muse" - (c) Megan Oteri - All Rights Reserved
This is a photo of my son, picking the tops off daffodils -- the gateway flower into spring.

Monday Museletter

I am going to try to do the Monday Museletter every Monday.  Don’t think I am getting organized or anything or predictable!  I will still surprise you with random posts on Tuesday through Sunday, except on Thursday – that is Brain Tumor Thursday.  And does anyone have a suggestion for a better title for that weekly column? Have a great week and thank you for being such a wonderful community where I can share my muse, thoughts, and art.  If you would like to be on the Monday Museletter email list, let me know in the comments or sending me an email at  You can also subscribe via email or RSS (see the first two side bar widgets).

Thank you for your time.  Have a muse filled Monday!

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.!/memomuse1

Rainbow Hunting

This Sunday I was very lucky to have some time to myself to finish up some writing projects, alone.  This is a big deal for me since I have a toddler.  Click on this link to read an essay about identity loss and having to adjust to the new role of motherhood (you just can’t get up and go as you once did)

He is pretty amazing and cool!

My toddler son. He really is cool!

Anyway, I love being alone.  I don’t really listen to music that often.  In fact, my music selectionhas pretty much always been country music and easy listening found on the am radio.  In college, I had a 1979 Ford Fairmont that I loved so much I named him Frank.

What is your favorite car you ever had? Frank and my 1970 Karmann Ghia are my top two.

Photo Source:
My first car in high school was a royal blue 1970 Karmann Ghia. My dad bought it for me.

Frank took good care of me in college and transported me back and forth to my student teaching assignment.  Frank played some good tunes  — but Frank only had an AM station.  I fell in love with Big Band and 30’s and 40’s music.  In fact, I named the car Frank because the first time I cranked his engine up, he purred like a kitten.  And when I flipped on the radio, Frank Sinatra came on.

I am digressing — back to rainbows — Frank and I chased a lot of rainbows back in my single, childless, free spirit days.  I am still a free spirit, but I certainly am not single and I certainly am not childless.  I am so lucky to have such an amazing family.  My husband is the most beautiful person I know on this planet (well he and my son tie for first place).

My amazing husband who gives me time on weekends to write (alone) -- meaning he takes the cool, cute, active-hands-and-body-into-everything-exploring toddler AWAY.

So I got a bunch of stuff done, if you call it that.  I was social networking, tweeting, writing, blogging, organizing photos, and I even threw in steam cleaning my wood floors with my awesome steam cleaner the shark.  I felt rushed for time, and rushed with energy and creativity.  I played some country music, but mostly enjoyed hearing myself think and concentrate, for long stretches.

It came time to get ready to go over for our Sunday dinner with the in-laws, where said toddler was playing with his Pa and Grammy.  My husband was cooking stuff zucchini, sausage, and spaghetti.  (I know I am LUCKY)

So I finally dragged myself away from the computer and cleaned up.  It was nice to take notice of the way time slips by slowly when you are not rushed or have a toddler clinging to your leg.

Well, because I was by myself and did not have to think about a toddler or other people in the car, I got that feeling from the big sky I used to get driving around in Wyoming in Frank, the 1979 Ford Fairmont.

The sky was big and blue with clouds of all colors from cotton white to dusky sea grey.  It was magnificent.  I pulled the car over to take some photos of a park I pass by but never stop.  I thought it would be cool to get a photo of the high school building where Elvis played at once upon a time.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to see Elvis live? If you have, please do tell...

my first stop on the fly by the muse of your pants outing and photo adventure

Then I started taking more photos and I would get in my car and then I would drive a little bit and stop. The sky was just so big and bold and filled with so much color.  North Carolina sky is different than Wyoming sky, but this day it seemed surreal and the same.  It felt familiar; it felt powerful.  I went with the muse; she was in full force. (Note: I had just got off the phone with my husband before I stopped at the school where Elvis played once upon a time and the awesome husband who had just made a delicious homemade Italian feast said dinner would be ready in just about ten minutes – the time it takes for me to drive to my in-laws across town).

I said, “I’m on my way.”

I pulled over in an empty parking lot that offered an open view after leaving  the Elvis high school.  That sky was so intense and so bright.  The blues were so many different colors and each direction you looked in the sky peek-a-booed another color from Mother Nature’s palette.  Damn, She is a kick ass artist!

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Romeo And Juliet Act 2, scene 2, 2–6

So, it is time to really get going and get over to my in-laws house.  I have no idea what time it is, but I am giggling and pretty excited that I can just stop, put the car in park, hop out of the car, and take a photo.  I don’t have to worry about the toddler, or safety protocol, or if I am annoying anyone with my hop-on-it-go-for-it-right-then-and-there-do-it-now-action-Megness.  I start to drive, then another view opens up right before my eyes.  Is this the same sky I have lived under here in North Carolina?  It doesn’t seem so.  It is new and fresh.

Then it hits me, there is a you see it?

At right here, from this view, some song comes on the radio in my car, which is FM, and it is a song that Frank would’ve sang.  It is an oldie and the melody moves me deeper into the muse.  I spot the rainbow and I feel like I discovered gold.

The ironic thing is this rainbow is over a mall that is so washed up that it's only action is mall walkers who pump their arms when they walk and Bath & Body Works, which seems to stay in the mall out of pity. (Disclaimer: Nothing against the mall or malls in general -- I love me a mall, but this mall is lonely for people --who shop, not just walk.)

“That’s it,” I hear myself say out loud, “I’m going rainbow hunting.”  And I’m off to find a more open view.

I decide to drive to a field near my in-laws that I take walks in.  It has a back road that leads to the subdivision where my in-laws live.  Perfect, I will even save some time using the back road.  Who doesn’t love a back road, right?  I am just about fist pumping and high fiving myself and people that know me well, I was  saying, “la la la.”  I might have been making dolphin squealy sounds too.  That is my trademark happy sound.

There it is!

So majestic (at this point I am certainly late to dinner) but I have no idea what time it is as I am so caught up in the moment.

The back road was blocked with water from the hard rains the last couple of days, so I have to turn around and go the long way. But the colors of the sky could not be captured by a camera — it was something you just had to experience.  I am sorry I missed dinner (I got there after everyone ate and my plate was sitting there all by itself).

I believe rainbows are magical. I know it is science, but I believe in the magic and the pot of gold.

The color of the sky was incredible and every direction you looked, the sky was different.

So I was really ready to go now, I had to go – I thought I was actually going to be relatively on time for dinner.  So, I went back, but I snapped this photo before turning left at the red light.

Music of the Sky - Doesn't that look like a music thingy (what are those called?) Do you see the bird?

And what do you think I found at the end of my rainbow?  I found my pot of gold — my son, jamming out to Johnny Cash with his Pa, playing “Car” in the car.  Priceless and free — nature is always free, as well as, love.

I missed dinner, but my husband gave me a kiss and tagged out, retreating to a toddler free room.  He understands I have the muse in me and he appreciates my creativity and sometimes distracted way of experiencing and capturing art.  Man, I love him.  I am one lucky lady who has certainly been blessed with a big ole’ pot of gold of family.

When was the last time you saw a rainbow?  What/Who is your pot of gold?

Don’t forget to tune in on Thursday for the first profile for #Brain Tumor Thursday.  It is an incredible story of an incredible beacon of hope and strength.  Here is a sneak peek at the feature profile:

Photo by (c) Megan Oteri
This is one of my favorite photos; it is titled "Outliers" and was actually the first post I ever made on

“But even in the face of grim statistics, one can always hope and pray about being an outlier, being the one patient who brings the average up by living far longer that the average or even the top number in a range of years.  The companion to hope is faith in God.  As I have said before, ‘As weapons against cancer, faith is the bow and hope is the arrow.'” – Brain Tumor Patient