Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Projects

I took Friday off, so it's been a wonderful 3-day weekend filled with lots of creative fun.

Friday, I finally had the chance to work on the ideas for my etsy shop.  Here's a sneak peek:

Here's a look at the inside of the ice cream cone card:
 So far, I've come up with 4 different themes.  Each card group will be sold in small groups, so here are the different groups stacked together.  Can't wait to share more of this work soon!

Friday afternoon rolled around and Felicia came home from school.  She decided to paint, which I was excited about because she doesn't do it too often.  She found some butcher paper and plopped down in the paint room while I was working on my cards.  Here's what she made:
I think it's super cute.  When Emily came home, they painted another piece of cardboard that says "cousins" since they are very proud of their cousin status.  Nothing is cuter than hearing Emily talking about or asking for "my cousin."

With today being Halloween (my favorite holiday of the year), Em and I decided to amp up the spook of our front door a bit yesterday with some spiders (have I mentioned that I hate spiders?).  Here's a look at our work:
Spiders with googly eyes are probably the only kind of spiders we'll ever have around our house.  This was the first project where Emily cut paper into "something."  We used my paper trimmer to cut the thin pieces for legs, and then she used her scissors to cut them up into leg pieces.  She was very proud of herself and I was proud of her. 

Door + spiders + wreath + jack-o' lanterns: 
Felicia's is the top right one.  Heather's is underneath.  We all think it looks like Squidward from Spongebob.  Mine is on the left.

And here's our little witch that wanted to scare her mama as she arrived from work. 

We got these spiders and her witch gear on right before Mama got home and she hid behind the azeleas until her mama got out of the car.  Talk about a scary greeting!

Final pic comes from Em's breakfast this morning:

Peanut butter and jelly toast with spooky sprinkles.  Full day of fun ahead.  Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Work in Progress

I finally got my paint room clean (right after I took pictures, wouldn't you know it) and thought it could be fun to chronicle what I'm working on. While I was cleaning up, I came across an old sketch book that only had 3 or 4 things inside.  So this first shot is actually a sketch that I did probably 3 or 4 years ago.  If I remember this idea correctly, I was going to do a mixed media/painting piece from this.    It reads" Rules are for board games (but even then you can cheat a little).

Sometimes when I have an idea but I either am having problems working out which option (because sometimes there are too many floating around in my head) to go with or trying to decide how things will look, I do a really rough sketch.  I never get too hung up on making it perfect or to scale, because what I usually find is that the details change a bit as I get into something.  I don't remember which struggle this sketch was born out of, but I really like the idea for the painting and it might be something that I pick up and play with again.

A couple of days ago, announced that they are having a font contest and participants can submit hand-drawn or computer illustrated fonts.
 I have always had a thing for letters.  Ever since I was a kid, I've made cards and banners and explored different types of letters, etc., so this seemed like a no brainer for me.  I have 3 ideas that I want to submit.  This is a peek at the first idea.  The contest states that we must show at least one case of alphabet and then show them to spell out the name of the font.  I'll likely use some colored pencils to do the font name.  I'm excited to see what other participants come up with....such a fun idea!

Finally - here are some quick snapshots of a scrapbook that I am working on.  This is from Halloween 2009.  My goal is to have this sucker completed by the end of October, and I think I can do it especially since I'm taking a day off tomorrow.

For this particular project, it's not so much the contents that have me excited as much as it is the process.  I found the process again.  I found the joy again.  Some people think that scrapbooking is a really geeky hobby, but I love it.  It gives me an opportunity to tell our family's story and show moments in time that we might otherwise forget about. 

I think my Grandma was a scrapbooker before the term was ever coined.  She had dozens of photo albums - from her and my Grandpa's trips to Hawaii, to pictures of her kids and me as a baby and on and on.  She kept all of those albums on a shelf that was built into a day bed, and I have vivid memories of sitting on that daybed and going through those albums again and again and again on every visit to Ohio.  Since both she and my grandfather have passed away, the albums have been distributed among family members, and I feel so very lucky to have a few of these albums.  So geeky or not, I think I come by this hobby and love honestly.  Thanks Grandma!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Things I like Tuesday 10/26

We got sort of slack over the weekend and only planned our meals through tonight.  So this morning, I've been thinking about dinners for the rest of the week.  When I think about dinners (and breakfasts and snacks and treats), I start turning to some of my favorite food blogs.  Here are a few along with links to recipes I have tried:

If you are a mama (or a daddy) and you want to have fun with your kid in the kitchen, then check out this blog.  It's one of my daily reads and I have tried a few of her recipes so far.  Just last week, we made the frittata shown above and blogged about here.  It was delicious and definitely something we will make again and again.  I want to make the banana nut salad (sans nifty banana cutter) and I have the pumpkin muffins on my list to make this week - can't wait!

Oh my, where do I begin with this site?!  L-O-V-E!  I discovered this blog earlier in the year, and I slowly started turning my co-workers on to it.  Now, there is a small gang of us who follow this blog and we'll often start the day with comments like, "did you see what she posted - I HAVE to try that!?"  And we all know that the "she" is Annie.  Between my co-workers and I, we've tried A LOT of these recipes and well, they are all amazing.  I really don't know how she does it. 

Before finding this site, my partner and I were on the hunt for the perfect pizza dough.  We've tried everything - all of the stuff in the stores (that are eww for the most part), a myriad of different recipes, and we didn't find anything that we loved, until this....Perfect Pizza Crust.  :Let me tell you, it is perfect.   Also check out her tips and tricks for this dough, which include tips on freezing.  I have a tip of my own - don't use wax paper to freeze.  I learned the hardway and spent 30 minutes picking bits of wax paper from defrosted dough.  Not a fun way to spend 30 minutes.

We've also loved the white fish tacos, the make-my-mouth-water Chicken Caesar Sandwiches, these fantastic Chocolate Chip Scones and the ice cream that lives up to the name:  Dreamy Creamy Strawberry Ice Cream.  Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!

The Barefoot Contessa
Ok, so there's no blog, but can I just tell you how much I love this woman?  She's like my chef crush.  She just makes everything look so lovely and simple and I have tried a few of her recipes and they are all divine. But the thing I love about her is her show.  I want to shop and cook with her.  I want to make a surprise dinner for Jeffrey and 2 of their very best friends.  I want to chat about celery root or storing flour while drinking a glass of wine in her kitchen, because if anyone can make those topics interesting (sorry Martha - I'm sure you've tried), I think Ina can.  I love her.  And I love her pomegranate martinis.  As a matter of fact, we were just talking about them over the weekend.  They are so good, but they are very potent.  I passed out at 10pm one new year's eve thanks to these puppies, and I didn't even drink 10 of them - only 3!  Forget Anthony Bordain or that Hell's Kitchen dude - give me Ina any day of the week!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Paint Room

I've been meaning to share pictures for months, but I've been waiting for the perfect moment - the clean spaces, the organized tables and desks and the tidy shelves.  I don't think that's ever going to happen.  So here's a peak into my room and what it looks like on most days.

View from the door:

Do you know who Dr Bob is?  He's a wonderful folk artist from New Orleans (one of my favorite places) and he makes all sorts of stuff, but I think his most well-known works are his "Be Nice or Leave" signs.  I simply heart these things but Dr. Bob has become quite popular, and well, I just couldn't afford a sign at the time that I wanted one.  So, I borrowed the idea and made my own.  I actually made this 3-4 years ago, but it didn't sit well with me in my previous space for some reason, but when I moved my paint room upstairs, I thought it was perfect - so there it is - the mantra for the room.  On the wall just to the right of the bookshelf are a few things including the first ATC's that I received in a swap, some Georgia O'Keefe postcards from a trip to New Mexico from about 7 years ago and a watch/locket that belonged to my grandmother.

Emily's space (this I do try to keep a bit cleaner, but she's had a LOT of fun with stickers lately):

The bulletin board over her desk holds all of her artwork and includes things that she's made at home and at school.  She has her flamingo lamp, which she loves to turn on so she can "be like Mommy."  We keep stacks of coloring books in her desk cubby.  Depending on the day, or week, she'll have stickers, crayons or pipe cleaners (aka caterpillar legs) laying around her desk, but her staples are glue and scissors.  The kid loves glue, as evidenced by the 2 bottles of it on her desk.  She's pretty responsible with it, so I just let her at it and try not to interfere with her creative process.  She also loves her little scissors and is starting to be able to cut things out, rather than just cut little slits in paper. 

The picture to the left of the window is something Felicia did when she was little.  She made me a folder of her artwork for a birthday present, and I had not seen it in years.  I found it unpacking from our move back from New York and I fell in love with the book all over again.  This one is called "crab apple" and I loved it so much that I wanted to hang it, so I did.

The bottles in the window are just a few remaining members of the original bottleheads.  I churned out probably 300-400 bottles about 10-12 years ago that were heads, bodies and a few non-human forms.  I did a few craft shows and had an online store for a bit but I eventually closed the shop and stop making them.  My santas were probably the most popular.  I still have one downstairs that Emily recently discovered.

And here's a shot from standing in the corner by Em's desk:

The other side of the room stays fairly organized.  I found the library card catalog in upstate New York about 2 years ago.  I was so excited because I have wanted one for years!  The price was awesome, but the only downside to the whole experience was that we found it while driving a fairly small rental car.  But, we snatched it up, and rode all the way home with it stuffed in every possible part of the car. It's home to all sorts of bits and pieces including finger paints, stamp pads, pipe cleaners, glue, strings and sewing materials, markers, scissors, etc.  Each drawer has hand stamped labels naming the contents, but I have a re-vamp of that on my to do list.  Em is big enough now where she has her own drawers, and overall, she knows which ones are hers, but there are some new things that need to be put away, so I'm thinking of just a simple color system where the purple labels will be Em and mine will be blue or whatever color I land on.

The three pictures hanging up between the card catalog and ikea storage are the first three things I did in college that brought me back to painting.  I will never forget that night.  It was me, a radio and some left over cardboard in my tiny (10x10) dorm room and I sat on the floor and held a paint brush for the first time in years and discovered just how much I loved, missed, enjoyed it.  I love those paintings not so much for what they look like, but what they symbolize to me.  If I am buried when I die, I want these to be tacked inside my coffin to keep me company.  To the left of the ikea cabinet is more of my work.  I don't have any close-ups, but perhaps that is something else I can put on the to do list.

This is typically what the table looks like, especially the area where I sit.  If you look closely, you'll see my morning coffee amidst all of the fray.  The bench and the second table are the areas that need to be cleaned up, but regardless of the mess - this is my space and I love it.  <3

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Perfection is Exhausting

A few weeks ago, I started seeing all sorts of posts about perfectionism and the idea of protesting perfect.  I really thought it was a cool idea and wanted to participate but was sort of stuck as to what it meant or didn't mean to me.

Ironically, I've been stuck with a few other things too.  Months ago, I posted about moving into my new paint room area and I talked about how I wanted to share pictures of the space.  Well, I've been waiting for it to be be perfect.  Here's the thing - it's NEVER clean, because I'm always in the middle of something.  Emily is always in the middle of something.  Creating is messy and fun and liberating, but I've felt stifled and under pressure and like a failure for not posting those pictures!  I've also felt those same things about the room in general.  I've wanted it to be more organized.  I've waited for the perfect moment to try X, Y or Z (and as a result, not done any of them).  The list goes on.  It's been pretty exhausting to worry about all of these things.  I'm done with exhaustion.  I'm done with perfection.

 Perfectionism sucks.  Perfectionism kills. 

This sign now hangs on my wall right next to my table to remind me to let go.  Em joined me in the last take of my mini photo session, and this photo will serve as an awesome reminder that I don't want her to be any where near perfect, because the truth is - she already is. 

P.S.  Thank you, BrenĂ© Brown for the the inspirational protest!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things I like Tuesday 10/19

Sketching and doodling have been on my mind lately.  Here are some of my favorite related sites:

There's always something interesting posted over there.  Recently they started posting challenges.  The current one is balloon doodles, which I think is great.

This one is a bit more than just random doodles, but some of the work featured is amazing. I really enjoy the artist interviews.  I read Katherine Dunn's recently (her work above), and not only do I think her work is great, but I want to live on a farm in Oregon just like her!

I'm also thinking about participating in this:

Could be a lot of fun!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Have I mentioned I love birthdays?  I think I have.  A few times.  We've had some pretty big birthdays around here this year.  Emily turned 3 and we celebrated with a carnival party.  Heather turned 40 and we celebrated by going out of town for a long weekend.  Felicia turned 16 and we celebrated with an Alice in Wonderland tea party.  I had SO much fun with this theme!  Here were a few of the details:

Living Room garland
Alice has that wonderful dreamy, anything goes quality and I wanted the living room to feel smaller and cozier than it normally feels.  We have 8 foot ceilings and the room isn't that big to begin with.  I didn't want to load it up with balloons or other things that just felt cluttery, but I did want something to make you feel like you weren't in a living room.  This garland did the trick.  I used 18 fat quarters to make an insane amount of garland.  It was really easy to put together, and I found this wonderful idea and template over The Purl Bee.  I also made a few big paper flowers, and by "I," I mean my mom.  My mom is anti-Martha, so it was fun to give her this craft to make (because I love Martha).

Candy Garden Center Piece

A party for a bunch of teenage girls, with a whimsical outdoor theme - perfect for a candy garden.  I picked up candy for a month for this sucker.  I used styrofoam as a base inside the tin basket I already had on hand.  From there, I took lollipops, rock candy and gum drops on skewers and stuck them in the base.  From there I poured m&m's, fruit rings, sour candies and a few other goodies to fill up the base.  The girls loved it and most of it was gone by the end of the party and the rest went home with a few of them.

No Wonderland Tea Party would be complete without a few mysterious drinks:
I bought probably 10 different flavored sodas and filled them up in these jars and bottles.  I just scattered them around the table, and the girls made a game out of guessing what was in each bottle.  One of our guests was so smart, she even figured out that most of the drinks were Publix brand sodas.  

Here's a quick peek at the girls enjoying their feast:

We made lots of little food, which the girls totally got and made comment on.  I made these delicious pizza bites, and these cute little taco bowls and a few variations of sandwich pinwheels including turkey, ham and PB&J.I also had a lot of chips, dips, fruit skewers and by request - cheetos.  The table cloth was just 4 yards of fabric.  The polka-dots were just folded in half longway and laid on the table (no sewing!) and the pink runner down the middle was folded 3-ways down the length and laid on the table.  Over the table we hung a ton of white lights, small lanterns and bigger paper globes.  

Here's the happy and beautiful birthday girl:

And here is one final shot of the whole crew.  My bff was the photographer for the day and took a TON of great shots of the girls outdoors.  I loved these so much:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

King Of Anything

Anytime I hear this song by Sara Bareilles, I start to smile. I love the melody, I think Sara is as cute as a button, but above all I love the lyrics. Especially this part:

All my life I've tried
To make everybody happy while I just hurt and hide
Waiting for someone to tell me it's my turn
To decide

LOVE! and exactly how I'm feeling about my life these days. Not Drowning. Happy. Empowered.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things I like Tuesday

1.  Erin Cobb's blog
There are a few photographers that I follow, and Erin Cobb lives in my neighboring state of Alabama.  She runs two blogs - her professional blog, and a second, more personal one that has some work related content, but it's mostly a place where she talks about her life/kids/etc.  I follow the second.  Her pictures are phenomenal, but I found her post from last Friday to be wonderful.  If your house tends to stay a bit on the messier side, you'll probably enjoy this too:

2.  Tiny Red Design
This blog by illustrator Thereza Rowe.  It's my virtual happy place.  Here's some of her latest work:

3. Roadside Projects
Jayme McGowan is another artist I adore.  Her blog is roadsideprojects.  I mean, just look at this:

Her work is so great, it just makes my teeth hurt.  Whenever I stop by her blog, I really want to quit my job, invest in 20 pairs of great scissors and go home and cut, cut, cut things.

Speaking of cutting things - I will have bits of my own work to share soon - exciting!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Green Bird of Happiness

image from tibchris' flickr stream
Yesterday I bought a domain name: Actually, I bought two. The second is Why? Well, it goes like this. I initially started this blog with the intention of reconnecting to the things that made me happy. Even though most of that progression hasn't hit these virtual pages, I feel pretty happy with my progress and I feel tapped in to that part of myself again.

I've also been trying to figure out if there's something more I could be doing professionally. I feel like there is, but I don't quite know what that means yet. It could be something on the side, it could be something that morphs and changes, but I've been struggling with how to start and felt for a long time like I had to have some sort of solid game plan with charts and goals and pie charts all mapped out. I think I was tripping myself up and getting stuck on all of those "things" rather than the "it" of what I wanted to do. I don't know that I've completely figured this out, but there are definitely some ideas that I want to explore further and see what comes of them. With all of this, I wanted a place to share the work (whatever that might be), and "reclaimingthehappy" wasn't sitting right with me. It spoke more to my initial goal rather than to my future intent.

So why green bird of happiness?  Well, I HAVE decided that I want happiness, joy and creation to be central to whatever I do. The past few years finding and keeping happiness has been a bit of a struggle, but I have found that I have to state what I want in order to get it and then I have to do things in order to make it happen.  Simple enough, right? It hasn't always been the case.  So, I want to be happy.  I want to do things that make me happy, be around and inspired by people, places and things that make me happy.  This is my intent and I really liked having that intent be part of the name.

Green Bird.  This one came around in a very weird sorta way.  So about 12-13 years (gee, that makes me feel old) ago I was really into painting little birds.  They were blue birds.  I made cards with them, I made little pictures for people - they just sorta showed up everywhere.  Earlier this year (probably in the spring), I posted something on Facebook about painting or drawing, and one of my friends who knew me back then mentioned the birds and asked if I was painting the birds.  Huh.  I had completely forgotten about those little birds.  Well, the comment has been sitting with me since that time and I've let it just roll around in my brain.  I wasn't sure why it wasn't going back into the recesses, but it wasn't bothering me, so I just let it be.  As I've been contemplating the change and the forward direction I wanted to make and thinking about names for the blog, it just all sorta clicked.  The happiness.  The birds and the fact that my favorite color is now green, when it used to be blue.  greenbirdofhappiness.  Yes!  So I kicked it around all the way into work yesterday, liked it and voila - the domain gods were smiling on me because the name was available.

Last night I pulled my sketch pad out and started jotting down some ideas for the site design.  As far as what comes beyond this - I really haven't a clue, but my arms are open wide to the possibilities of the universe and I'm going to do what feels right, when it feels right and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Things I like Tuesday

It seems that there are a lot of themes in the blogosphere - Music Mondays, Ten on Tuesdays, Inspiration (day of the week). I'm going add my own weekly theme - Things I like Tuesday. It's a bit long I know, but it works for me.

I've been thinking about cards this morning. I've always loved cards. I've always made cards. Earlier this year, my mom gave me this huge box of stuff from my early years. Inside I found several construction paper cards that I had made for her or my dad. I've always tended to stay on the funny side of cards, and a few of these still cracked me up - I need to upload. Anyway, as an ode to my love of cards, here are a few things across the interwebs that have caught my eye recently:

I love her whimsical drawings, and even though there are a few winter images that caught my eye, I really love the witch and the pumpkin cards she has on sale. Here's the witch:

Etsy Shop: MishMish Market
I LOVE the colors of these cards, and there are so many to choose from, I really don't know that I can pick a favorite! I love this:

Mish Mish's Suburban Monster cards are fantastically cute as well:

And finally, this Etsy shop belongs to an ex-coworker of mine. Not only does she make super cute cards, she also has a great blog dedicated to design, fashion and all sorts of great finds and inspirations.

Etsy Shop: Natty Michelle
She has a great assortment pack of hand painted cards, but my favorite of the set is the darling peacock.

Now I want to go home and spend the day making cards!
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