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: 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

Friday, August 5, 2016

On Love and Vulnerability, 8.4.16

This is the last and probably longest post under the blog name 'Olive and Ash", as I'm in the process of transitioning over to the official start of the new blog "Studio 517". New name, new content, new look, new focus. I think it was time. I hope you will join me there as things get rolling. I will definitely be back here to add the re-direct link and also post it on my personal Facebook page. But now, for the last Olive and Ash post, I'm going to get a little deep on you. Partly because writing brings me clarity and partly because of this quote by Kelly Rae Roberts- "Our beautifully, messy, complicated stories matter. Tell it". So, I'm here, telling you a little about my not-so-beautiful-at-the-moment, but definitely complicated and messy story.

So, here goes: I've been doing some soul-searching this week. I've blocked anything that might be interpreted as a negative on social media, I've blocked phone calls and text messages, I've had several quiet, "self-care" days in a row and have been reading everything I can get my hands on and listening to anything I can find about conflict resolution, anger, fear, etc. You see, conflict from the past year, which I have mentioned here before, has come to a head recently; misunderstandings and miscommunications happened and I completely lost my cool, saying very hurtful things to people who are very important to me. Deep down, I knew it was bound to happen, as closure had not taken place regarding several of these prior conflicts. All year, negative thoughts and feelings from these conflicts have been simmering just below the surface. I kept my thoughts to myself because I have been working very hard at staying calm and keeping a clear head. But, like I said, misunderstandings happened, caught me off guard and I immediately went into hysterical mom-mode. Not my best moment, for sure.  Am I glad I got some things off my chest? At first, yes. But, after consideration, no. Definitely, no. Harsh words should never be said to people you still want to have a relationship with.  The words that fell out of my mouth and through my fingers were just more unkindness thrust out there for everybody to feel, even those who were not directly involved, in a moment of intense anger. Immaturity at it's finest. This time, the unfairness and unkindness was definitely caused by me.

Coincidently, along with the soul-searching, signs from Ruben J have been pretty frequent this week, as well. I've noticed some of these signs pretty often over the past few years, but also, pretty randomly. I think of these signs as his way of still being here to help me be a parent and keep this family strong. Anyway, for the past week, the signs have been anything but random. They have been extensive and very clear and regular. So much so that I purposely spent some time at the cemetery last weekend, just thinking and purposely asking for more of his help. And the signs continue.

As I said before, I've been spending this week on some self-care. For me, self-care always includes going to the book store. So I drove to Barnes and Noble and browsed around, looking for classroom management books, maybe a new planner, maybe some 75% off items that I definitely did not need. Basically, I was really just lost in my thoughts, going through the motions, because my heart just wasn't into shopping. On my way out, though, I was drawn to the magazine section (as I always am because magazines are a guaranteed quick read with lots of pretty pictures). I was immediately drawn to the publication called Happinez. I had bought a copy a few months ago because, again, it had pretty (correction- beautiful) photos. So, I spent $18.00 on it (yes, $18.00! That's why I refer to it as a "publication", not a magazine!), leafed through a few of the articles and cut the best photos out of it to use on a collaged tray.  Honestly, I thought it was a bit of a waste of money. So, guess what I did? Yes, I bought another issue. I began my "leafing through" a couple of days ago, but never went beyond that. But yesterday afternoon, I did some yoga to clear my head, then I did what all good yogis do- I had a beer on the front porch.;) And, I grabbed that Happinez "publication" on the way out. And, what was the topic of the first three articles that I read? Love.

From Happinez, Issue 4

Hmmm...was this Ruben J. "talking" to me? It did sound like something he would say. So, I read on and wondered how this probably, often over-used and cliche' concept, relates to me and how it could somehow make sense of this current conflict. As I read and thought, things began slowly coming together in my mind. A few days earlier, I was telling my son how I was so hurt by this whole situation because I actually really loved the person involved and loved having them in our lives. I felt so lucky. Then came what I considered to be unfair criticism and what seemed like complete rejection. And criticism and rejection from someone you love just plain sucks. I'm sure most people reading this can relate to that. And for me, dealing with that pain was much easier when I was mad. I could be fake-nice around them, but deep down, I was still really, really mad. But, really, I think I was just still really, really hurt. It was a familiar feeling, as Ruben J. and I talked about it often when we would get into huge fights over common, silly things that come up between most divorced couples. I remember how we agreed that sometimes it was just so much easier to deal with criticism or the rejection of one by the other, or vice versa, by being mad. Does that make sense?  Being mad is easier than being hurt because being hurt means that you are vulnerable. And being vulnerable opens a whole new can of worms. Being vulnerable is like showing up to work naked. Being vulnerable makes you feel weak and embarrassed. No one really wants to be vulnerable, but, really, it is the only way to be open to see things clearly and let others see you clearly. And, so, I thought to myself, maybe I let my lack of wanting to appear vulnerable cloud my judgement. Who was I to judge where the other person in this situation is coming from? Maybe they are going through something I don't know about.  Maybe their criticism isn't really even about me. Or, maybe they just didn't know how to express it clearly. Or maybe they did and I was off the mark and just misunderstood. I don't know because I don't live in their head and know what they are dealing with and going through. I wish now that I would have risked appearing vulnerable and just asked some questions. The worst thing to do in a moment of confusion is to get mad. But, regretfully, that is what I did.  I got mad. Really mad. Instead of trying to be understanding and compassionate, I, angrily, lashed out. That is something I'm going to have to deal with, because it is done now. For now, though, all I can do is sit with it. And, it ain't easy, let me tell you.

From the book, Think Happy, Be Happy by Workman Publishing

I'm not quite sure how I will remedy this situation, considering these revelations, but it is a starting point, for sure. And it is a relief to have reflected a bit about where the anger comes from. Because anger is scary, I think. And I don't like myself when I'm wrapped up in it. I know, deep down, that it is not who I am. I have had my share of "hothead" moments in my lifetime, for sure. And it may have even partially defined me at one time. But, not anymore. That is not who I am.

And, as I am really focused on mantras lately, I've been repeating the phrase "Peace. Love. Peace. Love. Peace. Love" to myself. (Pretty goofy sounding, I know. But it helps.) Now I am, once again, going to add the words compassion and forgiveness. So, mantra #1) Peace. Love. Compassion. Forgiveness. And, as M. reminded me, as he held up my arm to expose the newly tattooed "conversation" on my wrists, I was reminded of mantra #2) Be Still. Be Strong. Be Happy. Be Good. I think those are all good things to keep in mind as the healing process begins. I am now ready to begin, I'm just hoping the others involved in this situation are ready, too, before we miss too much of each other's lives.

Okay, well, I will stop rambling now. Thank you for reading and bearing with me while I thought "out loud" here on this page. As always, I hope it helps someone out there reading, who may be going through a similar situation,  as much as it helped me to write it. Before I go, though, I have to give a shout out and a thank you to my husband, too, as he has been bearing with me all week (all year, really). The support that this man gives me is incredible. He always says that he is my biggest fan. I believe him. And I love him like crazy.

Please send some positive vibes our way. We could really, really use them. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lately, 7.26.16

After a loooong absence, I feel a "Lately" blog post is in order. This has seriously been the busiest summer that I can remember. Like I said in my last post, though, it's a good kind of busy. I started the summer with a list and I've been steadily marking things off as I go. Lists are a very good thing, especially for people like me- an expert at  procrastinating and one who, often, seriously wonders if I have an undiagnosed case of adult ADD. If Olive could talk, I'm sure she would give my doctor some serious evidence to confirm the diagnosis, as she follows me around all day long. Needless to say, on the days I am home, she is exhausted by evening!


Making: Not a lot of making going on, I have to admit. I finished a painted chair for my great niece and that is probably the only "creative" activity that I have finished lately. Which is really a shame, because, like I've written before, I feel like my brain is on overload with ideas for projects (still wanting to start on my "Secrets" embroidery project, new ideas for branch mobiles, itching to finish some paintings that were started several months ago and really looking forward to using my new PurlSoHo yarn). But, the trade off is knocking out a lot of home projects this summer so I can spend the next few months settling into the new school year and spending time on those projects. That trade off is worth it to me, as my home is definitely my haven and it feels good to give it the attention that it needs.

Finished chair for Baby Girl G.

Can't wait to use this!

And... I'm not gonna lie, much of my creative energy has been spent on this. Yes, that is a tattoo on my wrist. There is also one on my other wrist, but at this point, it isn't finished. Still deciding on it, which is SO hard, knowing that it will be there forever. But, I LOVE them! I'll show the full finished product/project (??)  soon :)

Drinking: Lots of decaf iced tea, and something new- iced flat whites.

Eating: The best pizza I have ever had here.

Watching: A new HBO series, originally produced by James Gandolfini, called 'The Night Of'. SO good! And the Democratic Convention- LOVED Sarah Silverman and Michelle Obama last night.

Reading: My busyness has caused me to completely fail the reading challenge I mentioned at the beginning of the summer. I'm trying to catch up, but it is not going well. I finished "The More of Less" while we were in New York, as I couldn't connect to Wifi for two days, thus I was forced to break out an actual, bound-paper book. Great book, by the way. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is the least bit interested in reducing the "stuff" in their life. There is really so much to share about it that I've decided that will be a separate post. Stay tuned!

Listening to: Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band (suggested by Little Man), lots of NPR election coverage, podcasts, a seriously inspiring interview with Xavier Le Pichon on the NPR radio show called On Being with Krista Tippett. You can check it out for yourself here.

Thinking about: Little Man, turning 21 in just a few days. Oh, my, gosh!!! I seriously cannot believe he isn't three years old anymore! How the heck did that happen??

He might just kill me for putting this on here! But, oh well. This boy makes me SO happy!

Also, thinking about and being inspired by this shop.

Laughing at: My grandkids :)

This boy wakes up actually skipping through the house. He is PURE joy!

On this day, Baby G. decided to take a little break in the laundry hamper. Goofy boy!

 And this pic, that I just stumbled upon again, of me and Peanut from a couple of years ago.

And if I could capture in a photograph the sound of my twin granddaughters trying to see how high-pitched they can make their voices, then scaring themselves in the process, I would. So funny!

 Oh, and I can't forget to mention the hilarious, oh-so-macho, NYPD Smart Cars. Hahaha!

Loving: Our time spent in New York a few weeks ago. It was short, but definitely sweet. Friday and Monday were basically just spent at the airport, so we had to make good use of our time on Saturday and Sunday. We had the best tour guide (M's daughter, who I call his 'Brooklyn Girl' :)) who led us through the streets of New York City like a true pro. A few pics of our adventures that weekend:

PurlSoHo, the yarn shop that I've been wanting to visit for years. Obviously, in the SoHo neighborhood.

Seeing a more recent work of Chuck Close, up close, was definitely a highlight at The Met.
The Chelsea neighborhood.

The Highline

From Queens to Brooklyn via the Pulaski Bridge.

West Village neighborhood (I think!) I'll have to double check with our Brooklyn Girl :)

Spreading joy: Not really spreading joy, but, rather, doing a good deed by giving a former student, who is moving into her first house, our old refrigerator. Her Facebook post asking for advice about what she may need for the house was perfect timing and I was glad to have found someone who could really use it.

With What I have: Could I use a new blender? Probably. Am I going to go out and buy one when this one, circa 1970's, that my mom used to make us endless numbers of milkshakes when we were kids and that works perfectly? Probably not. Plus, it's retro-cool, right?!

And I can't sign off without mentioning my Uncle Percy, who passed away on Sunday. He was a great man who lived a very full, long (97 1/2 years!) life, so it was time for a little rest.

Here he is, age 90, in the local paper, shown digging for an old springhouse that was on his family's Moscow Mills property when he was a kid.

And, here, celebrating his 95th birthday.

He will be greatly missed.

Until next time...  have a great week!  Juli