Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Beginning a New Year With a Studio Refresh

I love a fresh new year. This one has lost some of its shine due to a nasty virus I've been fighting since New Year's Eve. I'm getting back to my old self and that means I've found the energy for a few small projects. A book purge. Rearranging shelves. Refreshing the studio.

Everything doesn't need redecorating. Sometimes things just need refreshing. There is something about moving furniture and getting rid of unwanted items that wakes up the energy in a space. Especially important in a creative space!

Check out this post to see the terrible shape this room was in when the kids moved out.

Evolution of a Mom Cave. 

The first finished product was covered in this post, Writing and Craft Studio Reveal

So as you can see from those posts the real work had already been done. But the dark craft table and chair have always felt dowdy to me. A fresh coat of Jolie Paint in Gesso White with a top coat of General Finishes Flat Out Flat topcoat really perked it up!

Did you pick a word or motto for the year? My word is elevate. I'm thinking mainly in terms of the garden this year, but I intend to apply it to everything. Can I elevate a conversation? My value as an employee? A space? My health? My speaking, writing, and photography skills? Relationships? I'm going to try! 

I love to make a vision board for every year. Here's the one I just finished for 2019. If you don't know what you want your life to look like how will you know when you get there? 

While I've been recovering refreshing or elevating the studio space has been a simple task. Here's more of how it turned out.

Files for keeping things organized.

A simple sewing corner.

On the supply shelves. Creative doesn't have to mean messy. Though sometimes when I'm in the middle of a project this room can get absolutely destroyed. It's easy to put back together though because everything has a home.

This room is by far the most colorful room in my house. I just fill it with things I love and don't worry about style. I never met a map I didn't like. Remember when I bought the huge Russian one? Read, The Story of a Russian Map. 

If you are feeling like your house or a room or even a corner in your house is feeling cramped and tired, do a little purge and rearrange some things. It does wonders for the room and for you!

Monday, December 31, 2018

How I Do a Year End Retrospective

This is one of my favorite times of the year! I don't know what 2019 holds but in the days leading up to the new year everything is possible, right? 

Before we start choosing our resolutions, word for the year, or motto, we need to take some time to reflect on the past year. I recently heard someone call it a retrospective and I think that is a perfect word for making the most out of our 2018 life inventory. Get your calendars out, pull up your Instagram account, or sit down with your planner and let's get started. 

Start in January and go month by month listing the way you spent your time. Your planner/calendar is good for this. Your Instagram account or Facebook is a pretty good indicator of things you did you were proud enough of that you shared them. 

Here are some of the key things from my 2018 list of things I accomplished: 

Public speaking, soapmaking, hive inspections, wellness, Master Gardening hours, garden redesign, porch makeover, potting shed upgrade, travel, honey harvest, honey sales, custom orders, decorating, socializing, celebrating, upgrading style, new skincare routine, bee inspector certification, and candle making. 

You may recall that candle making was the one new skill I wanted to learn this year. 

While a year seems like it flies by it is actually a pretty good chunk of time. A lot of the things I did weren't on my list on January 1. You simply can't predict all the opportunities or obstacles that will be presented to you over the next 12 months so at the end of the year it's also fun to include some things on your TA-DA! list. I have always done this and called it my to done list, which makes no sense except to me but then I heard Gretchen Rubin talk about the same concept as a ta-da list. It sounds so much better. 

These are the things that you accomplished that weren't on your To Do list. Kind of like when you do a bunch of extra chores and write them down on your TO Do list just so you can cross them off. 

Come on, you know you do it. 

I did a stress test this year and redesigned my garden ( not in that order).  Read about it here. I also picked up knitting again with slightly more success. Actually, about half the things listed above in my 2018 list were ta-da things. 

After you review how you spent your time, ask yourself some questions: 

What did you do that you are most proud of? 

What would you want to do more of? 

What did you learn? 

Write those things down. That's the direction you want to go in for 2019. Now you are ready to think about how to prioritize and schedule your shiny new year! 

Several years ago I read about a wise person who said that most of us think life is like a train ride where you figure out where you want to go and you imagine if you make the right decisions along the way you'll arrive safely at your destination. In fact, it's much more like sailing in a boat. You have a destination but the seas are rough sometimes and the wind changes. You must correct your course and adjust the sail to keep moving in the right direction. Perhaps you even decide your original destination isn't where you want to go and you replot your course.  

Happy end of the year, Y'all! XOXO

Sunday, December 23, 2018

How Did Our Parents Do It?

For that matter how did WE do it?  I actually made Christmas when my kids were little and now have no idea how in the world I had the energy for that.

Y'all. There was actually GOING TO A STORE.

Do you hear me? As in getting out of the car and everything. It was during the dark ages when the only food you could get delivered outside New York City was pizza.

It was barbaric.

We used to have to go to a store. And then another one and then another one, until you found the thing your kid wanted. I remember standing in line at Macy's one year with a raging fever because there was one more thing I wanted to get for my son.

A FEVER, Y'all. I was clammy and sweaty and just kept telling myself I could do it like it was the last mile of a marathon. I mean I guess. I'll never know what that is like but being a mom and pulling Christmas together when you are sick has to be close.

We were living like animals.

You know who made Christmas this year? Amazon Prime and Kroger Clicklist. I think I went into a Target once because I was in withdrawal. I'd also like to give an honorable mention to The US Postal Service and UPS.

As a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s we were promised flying cars telephones where we could see the person on the other end of the line, and magic food that appeared from a magical place.

Two outta three ain't bad.

If you watch the news and feel depressed remember, you can create the magical holiday of your family's dreams without putting on pants.

God bless us, every one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Creative Work: Doing VS Documenting

Last spring I wrote about quantity vs quality in creative work. It was the most read post of 2018! You can read it here. 

Recently I was talking with an artist friend and her reluctance to post on social media about her work came up. I encouraged her to post something every day even if it was just her studio or her collection of brushes on her work table. She was hesitant as I tried to explain how interesting I would find it to follow an artist's process and not just see the final product. 

But here's the thing I realized while thinking about this. Documenting IS creating. Capturing a photo of the process, or materials, or a selfie while working to post on Instagram is another form of creativity. The Millenials get a lot of grief from Boomers because they share so much. It gets labeled as self-absorbed when much of it is the same thing as keeping a scrapbook. Only less dusty and more cohesive. 

They are documenting and thus creating a record of their lives. I'm just a little jealous that there aren't more pics of me before I got this old. You know, back when Clint Eastwood and I didn't have matching necks. 

I usually post one pic a day to Instagram. I've been doing it for about 3 years now and it's helpful and interesting to look back and see all the projects I've done. I often run across something I've completely forgotten about. 

Generally, I like posting pretty finished pics but adding in process pics (like of the garden overhaul) is proof that I'm getting things done during the times when I feel stuck and wonder what I'm doing with my life. 

Anyone else ever feel like your whole life is just trying to remember to get gas and scooping the cat litter?

No? Oh good. Just me then. 

Documenting one thing you did each day can help overcome that disheartening feeling. A picture of your outfit, a post about something kind someone did for you, a blurry shot of your friend laughing so hard she wet her pants. Every day will have at least one documented memory to mark it in time.

Capturing a moment is a way to slow down the rush of life and keep all the days of work and traffic from running together. Sharing the struggle of the process is also encouraging to everyone who might be discouraged by all the insta-perfect staged photos.

The process is part of the work. If you are a creative it may even be the most important part.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Touristy in Seattle: Part 2

We ended up going back to the Biscuit Bitch again. Now I'll have to admit that on the first day, being from the South, I was a little skeptical about a Pacific Northwest biscuit. I mean isn't this the kind of place where they use barbecue as a verb? But, dang, Y'all. These biscuits were A-Ma-ZING! And the atmosphere is hilariously crude.

I did that thing I like to do sometimes which is to give a fake name when I know the person at the counter will be yelling it out. So when she yelled Delilah the first time I didn't catch it. Just when I was wondering what was taking so long I heard, "Delilah! Come get yo biscuit, Bitch!" 

Oh yes, pardon me, that's mine. 

Do these people know me? Did y'all tell them I was coming? They put GOLD DUST on my coffee! 

I had the Bitchwitch with bacon but you can get it with a variety of other things including SPAM.

Oh, are you fancy with your farm to table dining experience? Nope. Not here.

 We strolled the Market again. It's a feast for the all the senses. Did you miss Part 1? Read it here. 

We liked the Athenian so much from the day before that we ate there again as we passed the Market, upstairs this time by a window where we ordered the requisite Dungeness crab.

Later, we hopped on a ferry to go over to Bainbridge Island. But mostly just because we wanted to see Seattle from the water and add a boat to our trip. I love a trip that includes planes, trains, and boats.

The weather was superb for our entire trip...

Except for the time we spent on the island. Hey, we were getting the whole Seattle experience! We had a couple of drinks and caught the next ferry back. We meandered our way (this included a lot of "look at this cute shop! Let's go in" ) to our next planned item which was the Underground Tour.

 Bill Speidel's Underground Tour meets at Pioneer Square and is a good thing to do if your trip hits a rainy patch since it's mostly underground. There's some outside walking but very little. The tour starts with an introductory talk about the history of Seattle while you sit comfortably in a room before heading down some secret stairs that lead to a labyrinth of subterranean passageways.   

Wear sturdy shoes!

I'll admit that I spent the entire tour terrified I would see a rat.

I didn't. But I did see some very cool stuff.

The guides for this tour are entertaining.

Seattle has certainly had some colorful history. You might find yourself wondering how much you know about your own city's history.

I mentioned the sturdy shoes, right?

While you are crossing a street aboveground the guide points out this purple glass in the sidewalk.

Later on the tour, you see them from below. They were skylights for the underground passages before their usage was shut down and they were closed off. This was the highlight (see what I did there?) of the tour for me.

You can read about the history of the tour here. You have to love a tour where the themes are fire and sewage. It was a lot of fun (since I didn't see any rats scurrying about though there were plenty of rat references during the tour).

I'd definitely recommend this for anyone visiting Seattle!

Happy Travels, Y'all! 


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Using Gold Leaf for Quick and Glamorous Holiday Decor

One of my mottos is "When in doubt add honey." Honey is the cure for a lot of things. I could say the same thing for gold leaf. But sweet AND shiny?

Do you even have to ask?

Enter honeycomb with edible gold leaf. I had this idea while talking with my boss about gold leaf. I saw gilded honeycomb in a flash in my mind and gasped. Have you noticed that when you are around creative people or in creative spaces that your brain crackles with new ideas? I ordered edible gold leaf online and in late summer floated my first sheet of gold onto the most beautiful piece of honeycomb. Light shone down from heaven and angels sang. It was a masterpiece. I had to design super simple packaging so it could shine forth in all its glory.

A coworker bought some for her daughter's wedding and while we were discussing how she would use it I had another idea flash through my mind. A gold leafed pomegranate on a platter next to the honeycomb. If you have purchased honeycomb feel free to print out this post to include in your packaging: The Magic of Honeycomb. 

Yes, I do know that people gold leaf things like picture frames and pieces of art. 
But for now let's cover food (with gold). Here's how:

Pay attention, class! I used both edible and NON-edible gold leaf for these projects. 

Edible gold leaf is for anything you will actually eat. You can use regular gold leaf for things like stems or the outside of pomegranates which you don't eat. The edible is harder to find so I don't like to waste it.

For many kinds of food, edible gold leaf will stick readily like it did on the honeycomb. For a cake with fondant, you can lightly wet the surface first to make the leaf adhere. Your food surface should be free of sugar, flour, cornstarch and the like.

Read about how to make this custom table runner. 

For regular gold leaf which I used on the pomegranate and pear stems you use gilding size (a form of glue) brush it on and wait a few minutes for it to become tacky then float your gold leaf onto the size. The gold leaf will stick wherever you put the size. Use a soft brush to push the gold leaf down and brush away the excess. I should warn you that this is an addictive process. 

You can gold leaf a little or a lot. And as you can see this medium plays very well with others and looks great combined with natural elements. Seasonally it's a winner too. Just imagine this urn filled with magnolia or pine branches.

Can I get credit for only gold leafing the pear stems? See I can be restrained. I can edit. But I have to say that a couple of those Japanese maple leaves in gold would have been stunning.

This is so much bang for your decorating buck! Imagine an entire bowl of pears with gold stems! You could show up with that anywhere for a hostess gift and be a rock star. It isn't expensive at all to achieve and takes minutes to do. It's slightly messy but there are worse things in life than having gold dust floating around your house.

XOXO Y'all! 

Monday, November 26, 2018

How to Create a Simple and Unique Table Runner

I have failed so spectacularly at minimalism and have now decided that my new found style is basically gold leaf everything and then put said gold leafed thing in some other silver thing. The first symptom of this illness was gold leafed antlers in a silver champagne bucket.

My love for all things fancy has been growing over the past few months. Things escalated when I redecorated the dining room from something from a 1930s murder mystery to something out of a light French fairy tale. That's my way of saying it was heavy and dark then I painted a bunch of stuff and shoved it around. 

Read: A Zero Cost Redesign in the Dining Room

I had one goal for my Thanksgiving table: people had to have room to eat. In the past, I created tablescapes that were so elaborate that I was infuriated when everyone moved things to be able to put their plate down. Don't people have priorities? Please note that this photo was during my simplified Christmas of 2014. I know. I'm laughing too. 

The thing of primary importance was using my (I warn you this will sound pretentious) hand-dipped beeswax candles made from the wax of my own hives. If you stop reading now I don't blame you. 

So fancy. However, I do love a foil in design to keep things from looking stunningly perfect. I mean who in their right mind wants stunning perfection? Therefore there were only two choices for a table covering. One was burlap. But y'all I am over it except in very small doses and I do not want my house screaming FARMHOUSE! It may sometimes whisper English country cottage or Scandinavian rustic but only very quietly and when we are alone.

Okay, table runner. Y'all just buy a roll of craft paper and roll it out on the table. A normal person would be done then but my psychotic creative brain keeps yelling MORE! MORE! So I couldn't stop there. 

I  happen to be in the possession of some beautiful decor stamps from Iron Orchid Designs and available locally at Me & Mrs. Jones.  I decided to create a personalized place setting for each person. I used the wreath builder and their alphabet to create each design. You can use paint but for this, I love the look of ink.

Everything in me wanted to gold leaf the letters. But it seemed a little Marie Antionette to gold leaf something disposable. Next up was writing out the words grateful and thankful across the table.

This was achieved with an amazingly expensive and hard to find product called a magic marker. There's no special talent here. Just find a swishy font on Pinterest and draw what you see then keep going over it until you get the look you want. Easy Peasy. 

If you wanted to reuse this write a more generic word or phrase. The great thing about it was that I didn't care how big a mess anyone made. At the end of the evening, I just rolled it up and used it to start a fire. Burning things is my favorite way to recycle.

Next up: Gold Leaf and other obsessions.

XOXO Y'all!