Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy Due Date Day, 10.11.16

Happy Due Date Day to my daughter, Chelsi!  As I've discussed here before, my due date, when I was pregnant with her, was October 11, 1983. Well...she was in no hurry and waited until October 25, 1983 to make her debut. I spent most of my 17th year pregnant and had her two months before my eighteenth birthday. Yes, I was married and a mother before I was even able to vote, so you can imagine how tough it was to begin raising another human being before I was even a "grown up" myself, before I had any idea about who I was and before I had any idea about how to be a mother. (Back then, in the hospital, they offered classes before you took your baby home, such as, "how to diaper your baby" and "how to bathe your baby", etc. Needless to say, I felt the need to attend ALL of them!)  Somehow, though, with lots of support from Gary's and my family, we ended up with a daughter who is the most loving, thoughtful, caring, genuine woman we know. 

I say "we" because I know that even though Gary isn't here to show it or say it, he believed it. And even though he is gone, I have to believe that he somehow sees her putting flowers, flags and updated photos of herself, her brothers, her sons and her nieces at the cross where he died, at the change of every single season. And how she visits his grave and tends to the area around his memorial bench on every special day (and sometimes on just ordinary days) throughout the year. I have to believe that he knows how dedicated she is to his memory and how she will never let anyone forget who he was.

Sister, you have no idea the light you bring into our lives by your thoughtfulness and the way you are, in a way, a "mother" to all of us. It is what you were born to do and you are perfect at it. And you were most definitely worth the wait. Looking back on it, maybe you somehow sensed that giving your young momma a couple of extra weeks to prepare could only be a good thing for you! In any case, little did we know, on October 11, 1983, we were about to win the lottery.

Have a great week!  Juli
P.S. Our 'Little Man' (Colbey) has a blog! Check it out here

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lately, 10.8.16


Making: I have to say, my mind has been so completely occupied with other things and planning art projects for my students that I haven't been making much time for my own art. In the meantime, though, I am completely inspired by other artists :)

I have been chipping away at this tray, very slowly, adding a layer here and there, when I have time. I do have several "gift" paintings in the works, leading up to the holidays, so stay tuned for that!
Claus Oldenberg at Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis

raumlaborberlin: 4562 Enright Avenue at Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis

Some amazing ceramic work and weavings by my Adaptive Art students.

Drinking: Two Hearted Ale, Grenache and dark chocolate (which, when consumed together, tastes just like chocolate covered cherries! Have I mentioned that here before?!) and my very first Gin and Tonic, thanks to the newly 21-year old, Little Man.

Eating: M. and I have been splurging on really good cheese lately. If M. had his way, we would be buying the Feta, but since I think Feta tastes pretty much like vomit, we compromise on the sharp cheddar. We like the kind with those crunchy little bits in it ( I think this has something to do with the protein??)- SO good!

Watching: Real Time with Bill Maher, Yoga Is  (a documentary by Suzanne Bryant), Amos Lee

Listening to: more podcasts, which, lately, consist of Elena Brower and Seane Corn on Soul Feed and Good Life Project, Amos Lee, Paul Teodo (acoustic guitar) and another oldie, but goodie 'Wildfire' by Michael Murphy

Reading: Carry on Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Crisis is a gift. Love, love, love this.

Thinking about: Family. And how a crisis can sometimes make a family stronger and closer. And yet another crisis can completely turn it on it's head. And, how the only power you ever have in any situation is how you react to what is going on around you. And how, if you've reacted badly in the past, the only way to make it right is to own it, apologize for it, realize the lesson you learned from it and make it a point to respond in a positive way in the future. And how easy it is to, then, stand up, brush yourself off and make it your mission to turn a really crappy situation into a positive one. Because in the end, if  a family ends up stronger, wiser, kinder and more understanding of each other, then it will all have been worth it.

Laughing at: the Presidential debate last week. Oh, my! Looking forward to more tomorrow night.

1) This quote by Rick Warren ( and re-quoted by Seane Corn in the movie 'Yoga Is') :
"Find your wound and you'll find your purpose".
2) Watching the students in my adaptive art class interact with each other. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that for that one class period each day there is nothing but love and kindness in that room. It really is an amazing thing to witness.

3) My job. New administrators, new programs, new routines, etc. have completely transformed the climate at our school and I am seriously loving it. So far, this year, I have received three kind and encouraging notes from administrators, and it is not even the end of first quarter!

4) Spending the evening watching and listening to Amos Lee with two of my favorite people in the whole, wide world.
Amos Lee at The Pageant, St. Louis

5) And having a lunch date with another one of my favorite people in the whole, wide world.

6) And finally, I love the fact that I have so many things in this category that I have to number them!

Spreading joy: Currently in the process of sending out some kind and encouraging notes of my own.

With what I have: So, this is an embarrassing thing to admit, but when we moved back into our house last year, we decided that we didn't want to continue using our heavy, bulky antique bed frame and armoire. So we ended up pulling dressers from other rooms and putting our box spring and mattress on the floor, just for the time being. Well, guess what? The box spring and mattress are still on the floor. I've whined about it for over a year now and M. finally told me that he actually prefers it that way because we don't have to worry about our dog jumping on and off of it and hurting herself again (torn ACL a few years ago!). He had a point. So, although I still intend to get a legitimate bed frame, I am now looking for a platform frame that will keep the bed closer to the ground. Kind of bohemian looking, I guess. Right?! I like bohemian!  So... in the meantime, just to keep myself from whining about it, I pulled an antique bench from the living room and placed it at the end of the bed, then hung a wool rug ( a gift from my parents' trip to Mexico in the late 80's) tapestry-style, above the bed. Not perfect, by any means, but I think this will keep me happy for a while :)

Once the bench was taken from the living room, it left a bare spot. So... I bought two new end tables. But, even though they are new, I got a great deal on them. Originally 89.99 each and I got them for 26.98! They are a little quirky (gold finished metal with leather tops) and fit perfectly in my "happy place" on the 70's couch!.

My happy place- right there, perched next to that pillow, watching Netflix, blogging, drinking my coffee in the morning or working sewing projects. 

Have a great weekend!  Juli

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Choosing Joy, 9.14. 16

Lately, I am even more determined to turn stressful situations into positive ones. But, last night, I was sucked right back into anger, hostility and disappointment and ended up wasting valuable time with M. (the most patient man, ever!) and an ENTIRE nights sleep. What makes it worse is that it was just a tiny thing that set the negative thinking into a downward spiral.  Today, I am offsetting it by forcing myself to think positively. Jamey, my middle one, once told me that he actively chooses what to think about, so he chooses not to think about anything sad or upsetting. I remember, at the time, thinking, "What the heck? How do you do that?!" He must have gotten that from his dad, not from me! But, I'm finding, now, that it is a skill that you can learn with practice and it's one that I'm getting better at every day. I occasionally backslide, but it doesn't take me as long to bounce back to positivity. So, today, my goal was to  purposely spread some joy and I am happy to report that I feel much better because of it.

To keep that joy going, I am going to share a few Instagram accounts that make me very happy. Some of them might be repeats (sorry!), but they are just that good! They are:







@sarahmbivens (highly recommend her "Unleash Your Humble Badass" online course!)


All of these "Instagramers" have the same goal- to spread joy and inspiration. Scrolling through and spontaneously catching their uplifting posts never fail to make my day better. What could be better than that? It's CHOOSING joy, right?!

Have a great evening!   Juli

Monday, September 12, 2016

Lately, 9.12.16


Making:  I'm really motivated to finish this piece and am SO close! I'm thinking I'll be finished with the stitching tonight and will be able to piece it together tomorrow night. Fingers crossed that my schedule stays open. Then, onto the collaged tray that I started a couple of weeks ago. Both will be listed in my Etsy shop soon, so stay tuned for that!

Same scene, different beverage ;)

And... adding bindings to the weavings created by my Adaptive Art students. Loving those kids and the class :)    

 Drinking: See above photos :)  Lately, my happy places involve either a good craft beer or a good cup of chamomile tea. Obviously, relaxation is the ultimate goal, either way.

Eating: Less. My clothes are feeling a little snug lately, so I'm back to watching (not necessarily counting) my calories. Those of you who know me well, know that I have subconsciously counted calories since the age of 15, when I asked Gary (aka, Ruben J) if he thought I needed to lose weight and his response was, "Well, maybe just 10 pounds or so".  Oh, my! To a 15 year old girl, that was a serious statement. At that moment, literally, I started counting calories. And now, still, 35 years later, it is just second nature. (By the way, I ended up losing 23 pounds by the next summer and realize now that if I had gone to a doctor, they probably would have diagnosed me with an eating disorder. Very serious stuff. I just didn't realize it at the time.) FYI- the best answer to my question would have been "You're beautiful the way you are." ;)

Watching: M. and I have been really trying to find something new to watch, but have had no luck. Saturday chick flicks have included the movie 'Sky' (pretty good!) and 'Peace, Love and Misunderstanding' where Jane Fonda plays a hippie grandma and Catherine Keener plays her uptight daughter. Part quirky, part formulaic- but overall, entertaining.

Reading: Lots of good articles in my Happinez "publication" (aka- expensive magazine!) and getting ready to dive into "Generation iY" for a book study at school.

Listening to: new music recommended by Colbey (aka Little Man)- Grady Spencer and the Work. Love it! Also, I take music requests in my classroom and recent requests have included Michael Jackson, Conway Twitty and Billy Joel :)

Thinking about: The true power of social media. It can seriously make or break your mood, your day, your week, etc. and I think it should almost be considered a drug, of sorts. But, in this case, you are in charge of dispensing your own prescription ( I guess that would make it a street drug?!)- knowing what is good for you or bad for you, how many doses you should have per day and when to wean yourself off of it or alter your "prescription".  Hmmm... another weird analogy, I know!

Laughing at: One of my students, who sharpens (and uses) his pencils down to the very last, literal, nub. hahaha!

Loving: My time spent with these little guys. SO MUCH JOY... that I can't even stand it sometimes!

Uncle Colbey's 21 year old newborn binky to the rescue!! At 2am!

 And... my steadfast home companion- Olive (shown here with a fresh, new "hair" cut).

Spreading Joy: Joy was spread to me in a nice note sent from our Assistant Superintendent last week and from Colbey, the week before. By the time I write another "Lately" post, I will make it a point to have "Spread some Joy" to someone else.

With What I have: I needed more shelving in the studio and less in my kitchen, so I re-purposed the top part of this hutch (the bottom part is now our island), using it on top of my sewing desk. At some point, I plan to get some cute, coordinating storage bins. For now, it is just functioning as part book shelf, part sewing storage. But... it was FREE- from my kitchen!!

Have a great week! Juli

Monday, August 22, 2016

Kitchen update, 8.22.16

If you've followed Olive and Ash Studio, you know that we've been trying to update our kitchen a bit. And you have probably gathered, by now, that it is taking FOREVER! But it is just about there and I need ideas for the last little problem area, so I'm sharing the "not ready for prime time" pics with you, so I can get your help.
First, a little explanation. We believe, wholeheartedly, in making do with what we have. Also, we don't have the budget for a high-end kitchen re-do. So what we have done is basically just a cosmetic makeover, with the exception of the countertops and refrigerator. The old countertop could not be saved and the old fridge was one that came with the house when we bought it (and it had turned from what was once, probably, a very nice crisp white, into a gross yellowish white). Yes, it still worked, but I ended up giving it to someone who really needed it, so I felt less guilty about the new one.
So, we made do with the off-the-shelf-at-Home Depot cabinets and the open shelving (made by my brother) and painted them. We did splurge on some really good paint- Behr Marquee  Paint and Primer in One. I can't say enough good things about this paint. One coat coverage means a lot when you are painting the entire kitchen, shelving, cabinets, living room, hallway and stairwell. In a cheap, weak moment, I bought Glidden for the island and there is no comparison. It will soon be re-painted with the Behr paint (in the navy blue).
Below, you will find my inspiration pics found via Pinterest and a few different shots of the kitchen work area. I apologize for the IPhone pics. Again, photography is not one of my artistic strengths!
Under the sink curtain and utilitarian style lights. Gray, blue, tan and black color scheme.
Chalkboard backsplash

Blue cabinets, brown countertops, light gray walls.

One of my favorite spots is just above the stove- the little black shelf (made by Colbey in 8th grade) and the little black light fixture just above it ( a $20.00 Target clearance rack find) and the rooster trivet, just below it (also a gift from Colbey- from Sanibel Island Pottery).

Not sold on the curtains, seat covers or island color and will be changing them... eventually. The island is the base of an old hutch. We removed the top and had them make a counter top to place over the existing top. I painted it the same color as the open shelves, but upon seeing this photo, have decided that it is too much contrast :(

For the most part, I am loving it. It feels much cleaner and brighter.

And, onto the problem area. The old backsplash was higher than the new one, so now we have damaged drywall to deal with. I don't want to spend the money or the time on a full tile backsplash, so I'm looking for suggestions. My only idea was a row of small square tiles in the various colors of the kitchen to help tie everything together. It would be simple, inexpensive and, I think, effective. But, I'm not sold on it. Any ideas???
When it is all completely finished, I'll try to find some before shots. It looks a lot better, believe me!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Week of Inspiration, 8.20.16

I think M. must have been a counselor in his past life. On the brink of a total meltdown a few nights ago, he reminded me that he, too, sometimes feels desperate and/or overwhelmed by situations, but he knows that only he can turn it around. So he turns it around. Just like that. (He's a pretty straight-forward guy!) I don't know what it was about that particular comment, but, oh my, it brought about an immediate shift in my perspective. And every day since then has been a good, productive day. And since then, I've noticed so many other good things around me. Inspiration is ALL around, if you shift your perspective a little and take the time to notice.

So, here, I'm sharing with you my inspiration for this most challenging week. Hopefully, you can carry some of it with you into next week!

So, so, so true. And I need to constantly remind myself of this and just be quiet! I'm getting there.

I re-watch my "On Meditation" dvd on a regular basis and I get something new out of it each time. Love this concept.

Over the summer, I took advantage of probably way too  many Facebook and Instagram shopping opportunities. My latest purchase (a necklace that reminded my of one that I wore almost every day in high school) included the most thoughtful notecards and packaging that I think I've ever seen. I love everything about this shop. Check out Soul Mantras and Other Stories 

And this. Another new necklace from the Etsy shop, Stamped Jewelry For You. Check it out  here . No mud, no lotus. No challenge, no growth. No challenge, no beauty.

So, my final thoughts for the week... when you face a challenging situation in your life, it gives you the unique opportunity to become more open to change and growth. It gives you the opportunity to see and/or prove just how strong you really are. Rise above the challenge. Make yourself better. Make your life better. Then, and only then, you can "help others through it".

Sounds like a plan, huh?  Have a great weekend!    Juli

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fresh Start!, 8.9.2016

Okay, fresh start here! Even though I decided to stay with Blogger, I did purchase a domain for the space, which is: julisstudio517.com. I gave the space a tiny visual makeover, but the content is where you will notice the most change. The plan is for shorter and more frequent posts on art, craft, home and life and a general goal to just spread some joy with each post.
I made a point throughout the summer to make note of the websites and blogs that bring me the most joy and inspiration and used that information to give me a new sense of direction.

Here they are:

Kelly Rae Roberts - Love her positive attitude, her thoughts on wearing your joy, creating and using mantras and her multi-media painting techniques. Her thoughts on mantras were, honestly, life changing for me.

Crescendoh - I'm inspired by the eclectic nature of her work. As I was looking through her sold items on Etsy, I noticed everything from paintings to crochet to jewelry to stitched pillows and brooches. If I can say one thing about myself, it's that I have an eclectic set of interests when it comes to making and I've noticed that my mood changes almost daily. Noticing someone with similar talents and personality was refreshing and encouraging.

Wood Wool Stool- I've been following this blog for a while now and have always admired the fact that she doesn't feel the need to post a lot of text with her images. Her photos are simple, clear and they tell a story.

everyday alchemy-Pia Jane Bijkerk - I absolutely LOVE the dreamy, muted nature of her photography and the fact that she doesn't shy away from writing about her life- whether that is grief or joy or motherhood or creativity.

So, that is the first post for Studio 517! I know many of you wonder why I chose that name. Well, I'm kinda into numbers and, for many reasons, I've always had a thing for the number 5. Also, over the years, 17 has become a very significant number, as well. The two numbers together, 5/17, is the day I became a grandmother. I think the name is perfect for a fresh start !

Thanks for reading! Juli