Thursday, April 29, 2010

creative planning

So last night I sat down to make my list of all of the things that needed to be done over the next 6 weeks for Emily's birthday. I then decided that it would be fun to formally document it and keep it in Em's scrapbook. I started with a calendar page that was simple and fun to do:

I punched out a bunch of 1.25" squares and turned them into a colorful calendar. I stamped each block with a date and then I started to write in all of my to-do's. There are simple things like:

Today's task is easy (and already complete) - Ask a couple of folks at work to save 2-liter bottles so that I can make a bowling game and use the bottles for pins.

I also tried to think about what goes on in my average week so I could plan around that.

For example, I have assigned myself the task of sewing beanbags while watching American Idol on Tuesday nights. Making a big production out of the process is new to me, but so far I'm finding it fun and I'm excited that I'm not waiting until the last minute to get everything done. Spacing out the simple things and assigning them to specific days makes all of this feel manageable and not overwhelming, which I like a lot too. We'll see how it goes. I plan to also make some smaller pages to document the guest list, my "map" for the yard and I'll include examples of the things I make, like the invitations, thank you cards and other things that will be used in decoration.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

birthday planning

Birthdays are a big deal around our house. Like really big. Like we decorate and have balloons and we make cakes. ohhh - cakes. The tradition started about 7 or 8 years ago. A client of mine was trying to be a very sweet husband and made a cake for his wife. He described it to me, and said that the whole thing wound up looking like a volcano. Which inspired me to make a volcano cake for my birthday that year. I'll update this post if I find the picture, but we filled a flower pot with cake mix and cooked it for an unbelievably long time, flipped it onto a sheet cake and then decorated the whole thing with chocolate and candy (twizzlers for lava, brownie bits and other chocolate for "rocks"). It was delicious and fun and from this a tradition was born.

We've gone on to make all sorts of cakes, relying on all sorts of themes. For example, my partner Heather is a big video game fan. So one year, I made her this:

In 2007, she surprised me with not only the best pirate-themed surprise party I've ever had but also this great cake:

When my niece turned 12, we threw her a huge luau theme surprise party and at the time she was totally into monkeys, so we made this:

Oh, and I can't forget Heather's 37th. She's a huge Cubs fan, so my sister and I made this cake:

And of course, Emily's birthdays have all included fun cakes. Her first birthday was ladybug cupcakes. Last year, for her 2nd birthday, we went all out with a Sesame Street theme. My sister, Felicia and I made these character cupcakes:

This year will be no exception to the rule, but this year I will have a plan because not only are we going to make the cake at home, but I'm also going to attempt to make the majority of decorations on my own. The theme for her party this year is carnival/circus which I was debating before I saw this amazing post on odeedoh, which lead me to the full story and the amazing pictures here. These pictures totally inspired me, and it looks like such a FUN birthday to work on that I just can't resist. Emily has never been to a carnival or a circus, but I think she'll love it as it all comes together. She's already talking about the fact that her birthday is coming up and one of my big tasks with pulling all of this off will be to incorporate purple as much as possible (without it becoming too purply) because she has told me she wants a purple birthday.

So tonight I'm putting my plan of attack together. Here's the categories to be attacked:
jumphouse rental
yard preparation (read finish raking up the yard, pulling weeds and plant summer annuals and possibly building a retaining wall)
party games
party favors
thank you notes

I plan to make pennants similar to Evan's birthday but am still debating between paper and fabric. I want to make a "Happy Birthday" sign, but I haven't quite decided what form/shape I want that to be in yet. There are a few games that I want to have and need to prep for. Lots to do, and only 5 weeks to the party! This will give me a great opportunity to break in the new paint room. I finished up the organizing last night and have just a few more things to hang on the wall but none of that should delay the planning session that will take place tonight.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Well, I did it! The paint room and all of it's parts have been moved upstairs. Because of the rain, we had to wait to move one big piece of furniture last night, but it's done. Now it's organization time, which I hope to finish up tonight and maybe even get some things hung on the wall before Em goes down for bed.

I was pretty good about taking pictures. I'm very excited about the new space. It's bright and cozy and has plenty of storage/organization space. Looking forward to playing in there soon!

Friday, April 23, 2010

the big move

I'm very excited. The weekend is here and while I'm typically excited about weekends (I mean, who isn't?!) I am extra excited about this weekend. This weekend, my paint room is moving to a new room and it will be a room that I can call "mine" (and Emily's) again.

We live in a two-story house - technically it's a ranch with a finished basement. My paint room has been down stairs for the 6 years we've lived in the house. We have 3 bedrooms upstairs - one for us, one for Em and one that has been a myriad of things, but right now it's my niece's room. Well, this weekend she is moving downstairs into my paint room. This decision was made for a few reasons. First, her dad (my brother) also lives with us, and he's in another room downstairs. He spends most of his free time down there, and my niece hangs out with him. Second, the downstairs bathroom is only accessible through the paint room. My niece has claimed that bathroom (even though her dad uses it too) and on a regular basis, her stuff just sort of bleeds out into the paint room as only things belonging to a 15-year-old girl can do. Third, even though it's my house - I feel like I am invading their space when I go to the paint room so I haven't spent as much time down there since January and I miss it. Fourth, and this is the most selfish reason - I want that room to feel like it's mine and for all of the reasons above, I don't. So Flea (my niece and one of her many nicknames) and I are swapping rooms.

I have to start packing tonight, which will likely be an all night chore because I'm very good at procrastination and haven't packed a thing, but I'm excited. I've been picturing the new room in my head for a few weeks now. I can see where my stuff will live, where Emily's little red desk will live and I can't wait to see what new ideas will sprout from the new room. Hoping to take pictures to document the process.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

on being a (creative) mom

I randomly stumbled across this blog this morning and was struck by the quotation in the header:

The moment a child is born a mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed, but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.


This morning I was thinking about this blog and what I'm trying to accomplish and this quote just sort of made me understand that things really ARE different and a NEW process HAS to be created because I am not the person, the woman, I was before Emily.

The person I was before being a mom thought that a perfect day included the following:

- rising early to a full pot of coffee
- quiet music
- being in the paint room doing something with my hands
- a morning that stretched into an afternoon with people coming in and out, participating and enjoying their own creativity
- and something (or a lot of somethings) to show for the effort at the end of the day

Then something changed. In 2006 we decided that we wanted to have a child. We started a process that would change us, and at the time we had no idea how much. In 2007, just 10 short days after I made a wish on my birthday candles, the wish came true and Emily was born. And a mother was born from within me.

I've never thought about it that way. That's pretty amazing.

Now my perfect days include a little person who calls me "mommy." The day will likely include something creative, but instead of that creativity stretching all day it's distributed in 2-year-old manageable pieces. The focus is no longer on me and my work, but hers. Honestly I've been frustrated with that sometimes. I miss getting lost in the process. I miss hands filled with paint or tiny bits of paper on my clothing after a day spent cutting or tearing or whatever it is I am doing. I miss all of that me time. And it's taken me 2.5 years to realize that it's perfectly ok for me to feel this way. It doesn't make me a bad person and it doesn't make me love my daughter any less. Sometimes I've struggled with guilt over wanting those days to myself, but when I step back I realize that everyone NEEDS that time. I also recognize that to take the time would be setting an amazing example for my little person who will one day be a woman, and possibly a mother. I want her to know that her personal time is valuable, important and needed. My personal time is not an exception to that rule.

The challenge for me is making the time instead of making excuses. From June 2007 (when Em was born) until last summer, I experienced more change and uncertainty and rode more emotional roller coasters than I have since my teenage years. My creative time was lost during that time. Last summer things things started to settle down, but life threw another curve ball in January and I'm just now starting to feel "normal" from all of the changes that have taken place over the past few months. The thing is, life is always happening. It happened before when I wasn't a mom and it will continue to happen. I will always savor the care-free creative days of the person I once was and I imagine that as Emily grows more independent I will see them again, but for now, I have to find a new normal when it comes to my creativity as a mother. I'm a little gun shy (what if I can't do it?) but I also know myself pretty well. The more I build stuff up (like I'm doing now), the more nervous I get but when I actually sit down to do whatever it is I've been fretting about, I do it and wonder after the fact what I was worried about. I look forward to that moment of wonder. :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A new favorite

For the past few months, I've really enjoyed food blogs. I love looking at all of the beautiful pictures, the process and the stories that people tell as they go through the recipes. The one thing that always impresses me is the time that folks put into it. If I am cooking, I can't stop, clean my hands off and be coordinated enough to take pictures at each milestone in the process. I just like getting in, cooking and getting something on the stove or in the oven. Other times, I have Emily as my little sous chef, and while I would love to document the process of us cooking together, I don't for the same reasons mentioned above plus the fact that I'm hyper-focused on making sure she doesn't fall off of the grey chair she uses to help.

So back to blogs. I've tried a few of the ideas that have caught my eye. Recently, I've tried these lovely little biscuits:

I've made them twice so far. Both times I used a buttermilk substitute (milk + vinegar). The first time I used a cup of milk instead of the 3/4 cup. The second time I used the 3/4 cup. I think I preferred these little treats with the full cup of milk. Additionally, I didn't (and still don't because I can't find it) use cake flour. I used bread. If I ever happen to find the magical elf that sells cake flour I'll definitely check it out with this recipe, but even with the substitution these were light, tender biscuits, best eaten right out of the oven.

I'd like to play around with these in making them a sandwich. I think an egg or a mini omelet could be really good in these. I also think they'll make a good brunch biscuit. This is definitely a recipe that I'll keep around.


1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cake flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons salted butter, very cold even frozen works
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup cheddar cheese
½ cup ham

Preheat the oven to 450° F. In a medium-sized bowl, measure out the flours, baking soda, and salt. Stir well and set aside.

Using the largest hole on a box cheese grater, grate the cold butter onto a plate or cutting board. After grating, place the plate or cutting board with the butter into the freezer while you complete the next step. (Hint: freezing the butter for 10 minutes before this step makes it much easier)

Dice the ham and cheese into very small cubes, about 1/4" in size. Add the ham and cheese to the flour mixture and toss to coat and evenly distribute the diced bits.

Remove the butter from the freezer and stir into the flour mixture, taking care to evenly distribute so as not to have any overly large clumps stuck together. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture comes together and is moist.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times until you can form a rough ball. Flatten the dough into a circle about ½" in thickness (you don't need a rolling pin). Using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass (about 3" in diameter for the listed baking time) turned upside down, cut as many rounds as you can. Using the dough scraps, form another circle of the same thickness. Repeat cutting until you have used all the dough.

Place the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake at 450° F for 10-12 minutes. The biscuit tops should be lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Thanks to Craftzine for posting this. You can see the original post and all of the lovely photos here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The blog name says it all

So I'm a mom of an almost 3-year old. Man, I really had no idea how hard it would be to juggle all of the joys of of motherhood with my relationship, my friends, my family, my work and oh yeah - my paint room.

Oh my paint room.

Some people might call it an art studio, creative space or just studio but for whatever reason none of those descriptions work for me. For as long as I've been fortunate enough to have one, it's always been known as "the paint room." It's funny though considering how many other things get done in that room besides painting -- sewing, playing with clay, scrapbooking, drawing, making cards, making birthday decorations and Christmas ornaments - have all taken place in this space.

To not make a long story even longer, my paint room hasn't seen much of me in the past year. Really, I haven't seen much of it or any type of crafting in the past 2.5 years. Let's just say life has been busy. This is not to say that my life has been craft/art free. Nope, not entirely. Sometimes it takes place in the front yard or at the kitchen table with my daughter or on scraps of paper while I am at work, but it has not taken meaningful shape in the way that it used to in quite a long time. This is what I need to change. I live vicariously through so many blogs and artists and people that I see on line or works that I see in person and I've decided that it's time to put skin back in the game. I'm still a little fuzzy on the details, but I'm hoping this blog will keep me accountable and give me a place to talk about the process, my work and the inspirations I find along the way.

Go me. :)
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