Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dreaming of White Christmas...

I cannot say enough how much I love Christmas, all of it, every last little bit of it.  This year, more than ever, I have this desire to engage in all the festivities and do all of the fun holiday-esque things, like decorating Christmas cookies, watching the great Christmas movies, building snowmen, sledding, ice skating, decorating the tree, and singing the carols... and I have this huge desire to buy all sorts of Christmas outfits for my little boy, unfortunately, I must refrain from doing.

However, some of those activities aren't going to happen here in Tennessee, namely the ones that require snow.  I don't think I've ever "missed winter" this much, ever.  I did look forward to it during Christmas breaks in college, going home for three cold, cold weeks, but I was always more than ready to return to the sunny florida when classes started again.

Now, five months of freezing cold dismal grey skies are not anywhere on my list of wishes, but I'm looking foward to a good week of winter weather in Minnesota and Kansas for Christmas. 
Words cannot express how excited I am for the rest of our families to meet the baby and to have Christmas with him, not that he will have any idea of what is happening, but I can relish every moment.... which I will do.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I just love this time of year, I always have and for some reason, having a baby, who will one day be able to enjoy it too, makes it even better.

Darlin' Christmas is coming...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Peace in this moment.

  1. Mulled spiced cider candles.
  2. Starbucks Thanksgiving blend coffee.
  3. A sleeping baby.
  4. A brand new magazine for my reading pleasure.
  5. Cool, crisp fall air.
In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.
-D. Chorpa

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Art for the Baby

Just finished this yesterday, for the nursery.
I mean, what baby doesn't need art?

“Every child is an artist. 
The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Website

Exciting news!

I have now set up a personal gallery site that links directly to my art.  Please check it out and pass it along to anyone interested.  Thanks for your support and interest.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Yet Another Example of the Greatness that is our God.

As if we need another example?

As if He has to do one more thing for us?

As if He hasn't met us before in our time of need?


Yet, time and time again, He works in ways that simply blow our minds, ways that are so much better than what we sometimes can imagine. What am I learning daily? I am learning that when we pray, He hears us and when we pray, "God direct our steps, show us what to do," if we are listening... He does.

So, as some of you know, we just moved to another apartment at the end of September. Previously, to do laundry we'd go to the laundry room at the apartment clubhouse or haul weeks worth of dirtiness to Angela's or another kind and willing friend, who would let us wash our clothes there. When we moved, we were no longer going to have access to a shared laundry facility and with the baby soon coming, we realized that we wouldn't be able to put off washing clothes only a few times a month.

However, this still didn't mean we had the extra money in the budget, so what to do. We searched craigslist often for a good bargain, but truthfully, there didn't seem to be a few hundred dollars waiting around in the bank that didn't need to go somewhere else. So, it overwhelmed us for a few days, and we prayed. We even considered the action of purchasing on credit (Not our favorite idea) but convinced ourselves that we could pay it off before any interest occurs. Hmmm, not wanting to go down that road.... So, we prayed some more. We prayed that God would make it clear one way or the other.

Waiting, waiting, on Wednesday, Matt was off and we were running some errands, so we stopped in a few stores to check the deals and prices. We found something, basically the absolutely most affordable option... and didn't take action. One of my pastors once shared that their family never makes big financial decisions without leaving and thinking it over for a while, I have found great benefit in that piece of wisdom, so with that and it being lunch time... not good to make big decisions while hungry :) We went home with the intention of deciding and returning after my weekly doctor's visit.

Naturally, as it always seems to happen, things at the doctor's went longer and slower than I preferred and by then... we decided to just go home.

So, we went home and early that evening, I get a call, it's restricted, I never answer those calls, but I do this time. I am not kidding when I say that a man from Sears is on the line and he says that someone, he refers to as an angel, is blessing us with a washer and dryer. Seriously, I am in a bit of shock and even ask, "Sir, are you being serious? I mean, is this for real?" He laughs softly and says, "You have some good people looking out for you, yes, I am being serious. Is this week a good time to have them delivered?" My answer is overwhelmingly yes and he says we'll be getting a call with a definite delivery time in the next two days.

I get off the phone, Matt wondering what in the world this conversation is about...and I can hardly answer him before I am overwhelmed with tears of joy and shock...and everything. I tell him and it seems that after, all we can do is sit there in silence and smile and be amazed by our God for a few minutes. Yeah, he's something, alright.

....I just washed my first load of laundry, some baby clothes and feel pretty giddy every time I walk into that room. It's hard for my curious, over-analytical mind to not try and figure out the details.... but as Matt said, "We don't have to know how, we just know that God is taking care of us."

So yeah, I know that doing the laundry will not all of a sudden become a magically fun thing to do, but when you have had to try and figure it out every single time for over a year, where and when the laundry would get done... I don't think that I will mind walking down the hallway, one bit. And while dirty clothes will probably always seem to pile up, those two machines will be a daily reminder of this. ....... We just know that God is taking care of us.

If I knew who to thank, my words wouldn't seem adequate to express the blessing and gratitude within me. So, I'll just give glory to my God...

the one who supplies all our needs.

the one who hears our prayers.

the one who directs our steps.

the one who blesses us with all His riches and glories, riches far greater than anything our frail and imperfect world can even fathom.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The pieces fall into place.

In the fashion of my life, everything seems to come together at once. So naturally, in the month of October, we moved to a new place and are having our first baby, a son.

Less than three weeks until he arrives in our world, outside of the womb. We are delighted.

Creativity and projects have seemed to be on hold, unless it's related to decorating the nursery or making our new apartment feel like home. Pictures will follow, but not until it's in the condition I'd like it to be.

I've acquired some great new pieces that add so much character to our home and have a myriad of ideas on the waiting list.

I foresee that being a mother will open the door to endless inspiration for children's art and design... so be looking forward to that.

Until next time,

Monday, June 30, 2008

83. The Silly Adventures of Olivia, her stubborn pride, and the Search for the Perfect Dress.

Please simply allow me to vent and while doing so sound completely pathetic.

Thank you.

So, today we set out for Opry Mills mall on a mission to find a dress for the upcoming wedding of the summer. I had done some research and found quite a few dresses online at Forever 21, they always have a wide variety and yes, while they are not the highest quality products, they remain rather affordable. I mean, you get what you pay for but... sometimes you have to take advantage of the cheap products made in China, yes?

You may be thinking, aren't you rather pregnant? Well yes, but the truth is... most of the maternity clothes that I have seen are, how do you say... not my favorite...and due to my size and free-flowing trends... I can pretty much wear all my regular clothes. Continuing on...

So, after entering the mad house known as Forever 21, I find a dress that I love. I'd actually seen a girl wearing it recently at a wedding in Kansas City and for a lack of better terms became very covetous of this white chiffon ruffle top dress with a pencil satin skirt dress, in all of it's form fitting glory. I remember thinking, I'm gonna wear that one day... maybe not this year, but one day... I NEED that :)

I found a few more dresses to try on and it took deliberate thought and a few disgruntled moments of dealing with my pride to grab a size up from what I normally wear.... I mean, I'm just being honest.

Enter the dressing room... quickly dismiss a few of the contenders...and on goes the dress. Up goes the zipper with ease- I'm getting excited and then... you know that point on the dress, the smallest point on the zipper, often where two pieces of fabric adjoin and the dress goes from bust to bodice (is that the right word?) Whatever, you all know what happens here...the zipper stops.

I want to think I'm smarter than the dress and try for a good few minutes to somehow force the zipper past that point, because after that it would zip all the way with no trouble. I keep thinking that the zipper is snagging on something, that I'm not approaching it from the right angle, anything, everything, at all, that might cause this dress to close. The longer I wear it, the more I love it, the more I consider how I could maybe even sew myself into the dress at the right time... I mean, all of it fits nicely, showing off my growing stomach, in a cute/stylish way. Granted, it is bordering on a tight/snug fit and reality reminds me that my stomach that is already squishing me....will probably continue to grow in the next two weeks...and then where would I be?

Ahhh, alas... I look at the tag and see that I grabbed a medium... and for a moment a glimmer of hope shines... I need a large... it would totally totally fit... and how brilliant am I and why didn't I think of it sooner? I quickly change and ask the dressing room attendant if they have this in a large... and she looks...and does not return with good news. Boo.

I don't give up yet, I decide, maybe she just didn't look hard enough, so I scour the store to no avail and naturally, my search is fruitless. I see my ever-patient husband waiting in a chair outside. I explain my predicament and perhaps magically hope that he will have some brilliant idea that my reasoning can't even attempt to beat (which will result in me still getting the dress.) Like a good husband, he just lets me work it out, not saying much, so that he can not be responsible for my decision either way.

In the end reason wins, but don't think I'm happy about that decision.

So, we continue through the mall madness, me with my attitude that no dress will ever be as good.... and Matt with his million dollar statement, "You know, it might not hurt to suck it up and consider looking at what the maternity store has."
(You know he'll never live down that statement.)

Imagine the priceless look on my face, how strong is the sarcasm here?

I oblige and with high drama enter the store... look through the selections and trying to find something positive to say while holding back many negative things. We walk out shortly after as I leave with a sound of vindication, you know...the I told you so one...

Some seriously sore feet later and many silly prayers that resemble, "Jesus, I know you want me to find that dress," later.... I do find a dress, completely different, but I do like it, I am happy with it, and I decide it will do, but don't think that I will let that other dress go, no I will not.

My attitude does change quite a bit, when we find two adorable little outfits that we must have for our little baby, you know the one that is the cause of the enlarged abdomen...and I fall in love with them and I instantly get inspiration for Hudson's room... At that point, I let him know that I don't blame him for any of this and know that he'll be way better than any gorgeous, to die for dress... no matter how amazing it really is.

In conclusion, if someone doesn't start making some more stylish (and affordable) clothing for the mom's to be... I will be left with no choice but to create my own line.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

While waiting for baby, grow grow grow...

I have also started a new hobby, something to cross of the list of things I've always wanted to do.

Gardening- Check.

As much gardening as one can do from a second floor apartment balcony, I got a few plants and herb seeds, to grow my own fresh herb garden.

All that nurturing is finally blooming, my friends. (pun intended.)

A long winter... of sorts.

After three.five months of just focusing on being alive and newly pregnant, which is so exciting, I'm starting to feel better and my creativity is coming back. Honestly, I hardly have done anything resembling creating... I have missed it so.

As it seems that everywhere you look there are babies coming, my sister-in-law just had a precious little girl, whom we are utterly excited to meet this weekend. I have been slowly, ever so slowly working on a little baby blanket for my first niece.

For my birthday, I was given a sewing machine, which was daunting at first, but I can successfully say that after two days, I may have mastered the beast...

(Now my sister-in-law doesn't really check this, so I hoping that anyone who sees it before Sunday will not immediately call and wish to chat about the project.)

I'm pretty proud of the blanket. It's one of a kind, just the way I like it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

On This Cold Winter Night

I decided that food is just as important to our creative lives and much as design, so I wanted to pass along this recipe that I saw on Rachael Ray's show, by the way, I love that Rachael. This is a vegetarian recipe, but could simply be made to order for all meat lovers, which I am. This past week, we were eating a fruits & vegetables only diet, so I needed a little help from the vegetarian world. It's so delicious, so spicy, and seriously healthy. I'm not taking any credit for this, so hopefully, the Rachael Ray legal people will not hunt me down. You can find this on www.rachaelray.com, search black bean chili, or just read below.

Rachael Ray's Black Bean Chili
  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cans black beans (15 ounces), drained of half their liquid
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (a large palmful)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (about half a palmful)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice (eyeball it)
  • 1 bottle dark lager beer, such as Negro Modelo
  • 1 can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (15 ounce can or half a 28o ounce can)
  • 2 cups beef or vegetable stock (use vegetable to make it vegetarian)
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

Heat broiler to high.

Char the poblanos under the broiler so their skins blacken, 7-8 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 10 minutes. Once the peppers have cooled enough to handle, peel and seed them, then roughly chop them up and set them aside.

Place a medium-size pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons EVOO, about two turns of the pan. Add the jalapeño, onion and garlic to the pan, and cook 6-7 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add in the beer, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook a few minutes to reduce the liquid by half, then add the black beans and their liquid, the chopped poblanos, spices, crushed tomatoes and stock. Bring up to a bubble, then reduce the heat and simmer to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper as needed.

Serve the chili up and pass around hot sauce, sour cream, and cilantro at the table to top it with.

Note: I didn't have any Mexican beer on hand, so I just used half a can more of vegetable stock, it tasted fine to me, but you could use apple cider or other substitutes, if you wanted. Let me know, if you make it. Warning: It's seriously spicy, which is perfect. However, if you can't handle the spice, use less jalapeno or poblano peppers. Enjoy, it's perfect for a cold, cold January. It would be perfect with some melba toast, tortilla chips, anything!

"Sew" Many Memories.

This project isn't a new one, but I just knew I wanted to share it with you. It's probably one of my favorite accomplishments, right up there with some of my favorite paintings. I will cherish it forever, and it is something that can never be recreated. That's right, it's my quilt. I've talked about it and many of you have seen it, but I want to encourage you to, perhaps create your own.

Being a lover of fashion, most of my clothes find many great memories attached to them, so much so that I hate the idea of getting rid of them. In all my moving and not having a real place to call home, I finally decided to gather all those pieces into a memory quilt. Each piece is from a tee-shirt, skirt, dress, blanket (from childhood), anything really. Almost all the pieces are different sizes, which gives it that eclectic feel, naturally. So, I cut them all up, sewed them all together (by hand). I bought a solid brown with tiny green polka dots fabric for the other side. I used a random collection of buttons on that side to hold the quilt batting in place. It took me from May until October, but since I had so much time after surgery, it was a welcomed endeavor.

Since I didn't ever really learn how to "QUILT," I recommend you find instructions elsewhere, but take some inspiration and new ideas from this project. I already have more clothing, to start another quilt, but would love to use a sewing machine this time!!

Note: I'd love to see your quilt ideas, you could do so many things, so many. Oh, and I know the title for the blog is way clever, all the pun intended.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Real Trash to Treasure...

Being newlyweds, we didn't have much of anything furniture wise, so thankfully, great family and friends were eager to help. Our cousin Melissa, gave us these old cafe chairs (from a closed grocery eat-in deli). They were in great shape, but in serious need of a face lift. The seat cushions had tears, the paint was chipped, and the color was not really my dream color scheme.

After many ideas, I finally decided to paint and recover them.
(Picture: The chair's before shot.)

Here is what I did:
  1. I unscrewed the cushion, and painted the chair with a black acrylic paint.
  2. I covered the seat with a soft beige with lavender flowers pattern. It is actually an old dress of my mom's that I had kept. I used to play dress up, and I loved it. So it has some good memories attached to it. Simply use a strong glue or staple gun to adhere the fabric to the cushion.
  3. Return the cushion, screw in, and voila.
It was so easy, many of you probably already know how to recover chairs. If I had foam, I would have used that to make it softer, but I didn't have any. I only covered this one chair for now, then placed it in an empty corner of our bedroom. I plan on covering the others (used at the dining room table) in something else. They may be all the same or who knows, I may indulge my random urges and make each one different.

Picture: Finished Product and the chair, now a decorative corner piece to add a bit more style to our room.)

Funny Story: I asked Matt if he felt like our room was becoming to girlie, he said yes, but that he didn't care. I think he's secure in his masculinity :)

Mix and Match: A Bedside Tray

Yesterday, Matt and I spent the day at home, watching movies, working on projects, and enjoying a cold January day off in our cozy apartment. When we watch tv and movies, we spend most of our time watching in our room. We only have makeshift side tables, right now, so we could use a bed tray of some sort. However, it's a luxury to purchase, so enter the creativity. As a gift a few years ago, Matt was given an art set full of colored pencils and pastels, inside a wooden case. Since we have plenty of space for our art supplies, I wanted to take the plastic cases from the wooden case and turn it into a bed tray.
(Picture: the wooden case, closed.)

Here is what I did:
  1. I removed the plastic trays that were only barely held in place.
  2. I covered the bottom of the case with mod podge (any decoupage paste will do).
  3. I arranged the pictures and postcards, then applied another layer of mod podge to seal it.
  4. Since, I want it to hold drinks, I covered the entire collage with a plastic covering, when the sealer was still wet, so it stuck.
  5. Then, simply let it dry.
  6. Then, enjoy!

You could do a theme or color scheme, or make individual tray specialized for each person, or do an eclectic design, like I did. The possibilities are endless. I already love it, and use it to hold magazines, my coffee, and books. If you do this, send me photos, I'd love to see what you can do.

Note: You could seal the two sides together to make it one large tray, but I chose to keep it like a case, that way it's easier to store and will stay in better shape.

(Picture: Finished Product and the tray in use)

Elegantly Elementary

Hello and Welcome, I'm so excited about this new blog. I can't wait to begin sharing some of my new project ideas with you. I hope this will help those of you, who don't call yourselves creative to realize it is so easy and completely possible. For you creative types, I hope it will give you some ideas or start your mind reeling with others. I hope to include not only creative ideas, but also things that inspire me and thoughts that reflect on life, art, and beauty. Feel free to share any of these ideas with your friends and family, spread the creativity around! So, let's embrace our creative gifts and clever ideas to make life a bit more colorful and designed.