Monday, December 7, 2015

Lately, 12.7.15


Making- More layered paintings and some small fiber pieces (in preparation for the Kristkindl Markt!).

My latest mixed media piece. Needs another layer, otherwise finished.

Drinking- Hot chocolate with almond milk
Eating- Homemade chicken vegetable soup- in the crockpot today and making the house smell awesome!
Watching- the movie, Brooklyn. Highly recommend. So good!

Reading- Not reading now, but wanting to buy and reread the Little House on the Prairie books (hopefully with my granddaughters one day!). I loved them when I was a kid.

Listening to- Christmas music. Of course!

Thinking about- How I keep getting all of these signs, letting me know that we are supposed to be back in this house. Sign like this:

2 deer in the front yard...

and 2 deer in the side yard
As I pulled into the driveway Saturday afternoon, I was greeted by four deer, who just stood there for the longest time as I slowly drove up to the top. Pretty cool.

Laughing at- I honestly haven't been laughing enough. I'll work on that.

Disliking- Not having anybody around to eat the little treats in my advent calendar. Last year, I ate all of the candy myself! This year, I'm just moving the mouse each day- no treats :(

Loving- This new soap I found at Whole foods. I LOVE it!

And a new "lately" section (again, inspired by the series on the Assortment blog), "With what I have". I thought this would be a good addition, as it's a way to continually think about how I can use what I have, rather than buy "new" all of the time. So...

With what I have- Last year, we had a teeny-tiny Christmas tree and not much room for decorations, so I gave away a lot of ornaments, decorations, lights etc.  My Christmas tree skirt was among the giveaways, so last year I used some burlap. This year, I'm using some remnants of an old chenille bedspread that I found in my fabric stash. I'm kinda likin' it!

And, I was going to go out and buy one of those necklace trees, as I was really getting tired of untangling my necklaces every time I wanted to wear one. But, instead, I had this small coat hook that we used in the entryway at the townhouse, but weren't using in this house,so I put it to use for my necklaces. It works perfectly.

If you look closely, you'll see some original designs by Laura Blumenberg and MK Designs :)

So, that's my "lately". Thank you so much for all of the positive vibes sent to my mom on her birthday, following my TbT birthday post last week! That post reached over 400 people, which has never happened. I guess I need to honor my mom more often :)

Have a great week!  Juli

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Laughter in the house, 11.25.15

Lots of laughter, playing and giggling fun in our Little House on a Big Hill, lately, and you can't even imagine how much I've enjoyed it. Our empty nest is usually very (almost creepily) quiet most of the time. Especially lately (just coming out of harvest time), when M. works unusually long hours.

Friday and Saturday were spent having a little slumber party with my grandsons- where Peanut excitedly led Baby G. and I  from one activity to another- sitting "cross-cross applesauce" while he played "teacher", puzzling, game playing, playdough-meal-making, Lego building, car racing, etc. and multiple rounds of the "clean-up" song between each one. We settled in for a little Max and Ruby before bedtime, then woke up to SNOW! Not a lot, but enough to completely thrill them. So much fun!

Baby G in his Great, Great Grandpa's chair.

Cozy, sleepy boys on a bed of blankets and pillows in a cool, dark room. Can't get any better than that!
A little snow made this boy very happy!

On Sunday, I actually had a moment straight from the old (1988!) Folger's holiday commercial when Little Man and his girlfriend (I need to come up with a blog name for this sweet girl) showed up at the house. They only live and hour and a half away, but man, I miss them when weeks go by until I see them. The little things that used to really bug me when Little Man lived at home - laundry everywhere, towels on the bathroom floor, dirty dishes, etc.- actually make me a little giddy now. Funny how that works! More giggling, playing and laughing ensued with them- trivia games, meals together and multiple topics of conversation ranging from wine to movies to "remember when". I loved every minute of it.

And, Sister had the day off today, so I got some bonus time with her and the boys at our neighborhood playground.

Having a neighborhood playground, pavilion and walking trail is another bonus to moving back to the Little House.

Happy Holidays are here, for sure! I hope they are for you, too :)  Now I'm off to work on some paintings for the Kristkindl Markt. Here's a little sneak peek at a couple of new ones I started today.

Layers 1 and 2

Layer 3

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Juli

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lately...and an announcement!, 11.18.15

I'm so glad to finally have some time after work to get a few things done at home and in the studio. I actually started this blog post nine days ago and am just now getting back to it. October, November and December are jam-packed around here with lots of birthdays and anniversaries mixed in with the craziness of the holidays. And this year, I added to the craziness by agreeing to participate in the first ever Kristkindl Markt at Blumenhof Winery. I've never done anything like this before, so my anxiety level is increasing as December 12th gets closer. I've had my Etsy shop for four years, but actually gathering my work and putting it out there for people to see IN PERSON is making me very nervous. But, it's a good kind of nervous. (So far, anyway!) Find all of the info here and please join us that day. It should be a lot of fun!

A sampling of the things I'll be bringing with me to the Kristkindl Markt. I was really anxious, thinking I didn't have enough to actually display, but after I put everything together, it was more than I thought. I  have 14 paintings and about 20 textile and fiber art pieces and have plans for a few more of each in time for the event. And I'm hoping to do some painting while I'm there, if the weather holds out :)  

 So, that was my announcement! Now, on to my "Lately"...

Making: Finished the top of this fiber piece:

Now I just need to sew the back fabric piece on, along with a dowel rod pocket for hanging. Oh, and there will be a little stitched message in the round pocket on the left side. All of the quotes are from the movie "Unbearable Lightness of Being", my second favorite movie of all time :)  Love, love, love it. My next fiber piece or painting will include another quote from this movie.

And I am so glad that I actually have several ideas for paintings in my mind. I'll be starting on the base layers for those tonight. Really looking forward to some painting time, for sure.

Drinking: I've really been in the mood for beer (IPA, Porter, Stout) lately (not sure why) and chamomile and lemongrass tea :)
Eating: Since I found out that I have no sensitivity to dairy, I've been trying to eat yogurt again. (I honestly can't stand the flavor of plain milk anymore, so that is out as a source of calcium for me. So gross!) But, I'm getting used to the yogurt again and have found that if I eat the blended yogurts (not the 'fruit on the bottom' kind) I can digest it much easier. And, if I blend it with plain yogurt, it cuts the amount of sugar way down. So, that has been my lunch lately and I'm kinda likin' it!

Watching: I just watched the documentary "First Comes Love" and it was really good. Check out the trailer here. I am a sucker for any kind of movie that has anything to do with having babies!

Reading: Okay, I have to skip this part because, once again, all I have been reading are blogs! I know! There are so many good books out there (many of them in my own home since I am married to a bookworm) and I really just need to pick one up, open it and start reading. Dang. Okay, I'll put that on the 'to do' list.

Listening to: I'm not gonna lie, I have already been looking for new Christmas music to download.  I am also a sucker for Christmas music. Always have been, always will be.

Thinking about: Getting by "with what I have". As I mentioned before, I was greatly inspired by a series of blog posts found here. So my latest 'with what I have' came the other day when I realized I needed frames for a couple of prints that I ordered. So, instead of going to the store to buy them, I pulled out my bin of framed photos and found some to re-use.
My Kelly Rae Roberts print. I love this and feel really good about the message- "Your beautifully messy, complicated story matters (tell it). It is now on hanging on the wall right above me, where I always sit to write these posts. Appropriate, I think. (Cloudy day = bad photo. Sorry!)

The bad thing about going through framed photos to find a frame, is that you are then sucked into looking at the photos in the frames. And you know what happens then, don't you?! Yes. Reminiscing. So here ya go- the two photos that I now feel compelled to share after my moments of reminiscing.

Since Eddie is now married, with twin daughters on the way, I figured I would take his senior photo out of the frame and put it in a folder. (Man, I miss this kid!)

And another framed photo got the boot- this one from Little Man's baptism. Since Little Man (the infant in the photo) is now a Junior in college, I thought it was time to retire the photo- from the frame to the folder.   

Laughing at: The crazy phone call I received on Sunday night- on speaker phone with my brother-in-law (actually, the man to the far right in the photo above,only with much darker hair!), my nephew-in-law, my uncle and Little Man- all staying in a hotel room together, preparing for deer hunting the following morning. Oh, my, what a phone call. They were having WAY too much fun! These guys are so funny. I'm so grateful that my boys get the chance to spend time with them.

Disliking:  Hmmm... feeling better about a lot of things this week, so I am, again, going to skip this section. Keeping it positive!

Loving: Being home. Right now.

Have a great rest-of-the-week!  Juli

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Stress Busters- Part 2, 10.29.15

Have you ever had to deal with a stressor that was so ridiculous that you can't even wrap your head around how it even started in the first place? And one that is so affecting that you feel like someone has come up from behind you and hit you in the head with a baseball bat?  (Weird analogy, I know. But sometimes it does feel like I've had the emotional wind knocked completely out of me.) Well, this is my life for the past 6 months. SO crazy! But, you know, having lived almost 50 years of this life, I am now fully aware that things can change in an instant and you can really never let your guard down, completely. And, I've had a lot of opportunities to practice various coping skills to deal with these changes, for example- 32 years of motherhood, 11 years of teaching teenagers, a divorce and the unexpected death of the father of my children have given me a pretty decent range of practice. So, I'm pretty proud that this recent stress is only having intermittent effects on me. Don't get me wrong. It is way up there on the "stress-o-meter", as it has been a roller-coaster ride (bad, then better, then worse, then WAY worse, then a little better, etc., etc.) and it is affecting something that I've spent most of my adult life nurturing. But, if I am nothing else, I am very determined and stubborn! So I will ride this out, too, because I won't let it ruin something I've worked so hard for.

Letting go is not an option in this case, so I have to be willing to be dragged a little. And, that's okay.
Image found via a simple life afloat

So if you can relate at all to going through a roller-coaster-stress-ride, I thought you might be interested in some new stress busters that have been helpful to me (in addition to the ones I mentioned here a few months ago).

Here they are, in no particular order of importance or effectiveness :). 

1.) Brag on yourself, to yourself:   For me, my biggest and proudest accomplishment is raising three kind, loving, respectful people, who now have the opportunity to pass that along to their own children. And that is huge. And to top it off, I get to spend every working day until retirement helping other people's children become more kind, loving and respectful. (Well, at least I can wish for that!) Sometimes, when something is making you feel crappy, you have to pat yourself on the back a little, you know? :)

2.) Do some yoga: Sorry! I know I sound like a broken record on the yoga thing, but you have no idea how good it feels to force yourself to breathe and balance and the same time. It is incredibly calming.

3.) Go to Starbucks: Or any place where you can get a little treat for less than five or six bucks. Yes, I know this is a little thing. But sometimes a little treat (a grande, decaf, Flat White with coconut milk, please!) makes a big difference when you're having a rotten day.

4.) Listen to uplifting podcasts: This is my new addiction. I love podcasts! My favorites are those featuring Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene' Brown or Kelly Rae Roberts. Although their topics are mostly about creativity, just hearing their positive voices makes me feel better. Actually, if I have to find a silver lining in this whole mess, it has to be that it has taught me yet another way to cope- with excessive positivity. Even if you have to fake it, it makes you feel better.

5.) Force yourself to think about happy things:  In my case, spending time with my grandsons and looking forward to my granddaughters. Because how can you be negative when you are with a four year old, a one year old or newborn babies?

6.)  Make a to-do list: Keeping my mind busy is my best medicine. It could be things as mundane as paying bills, cleaning out a closet or giving my dog a bath. But the best lists are the ones that remind me to work on creative projects like stitching or painting (or writing a blog post!). Hours go by and it seems like minutes. Working with my hands always helps my head.

Having works-in-progress like this (my latest fiber piece) is like medicine for me.

7.) Read articles related to what you are dealing with:
When something is bugging me, I read, read, read- trying to find any kind of advice or solution to my dilemma. In this case, the perfect article showed up in my blog feed at the perfect time. To summarize, using a line from the article,

"We are not terrible people, even though we may have said or done some pretty hurtful things. In the end, we all want the same thing: to be happy, to feel loved, and to know that we matter."

This article reminded me that any kind of negative behavior is always driven by fear. And the best way to deal with it, even if you are the one affected, is with forgiveness and compassion. So that's my plan.

8.) And lastly, but I think most importantly, spend time with someone who is ALWAYS on your side and ALWAYS willing to listen. In my case, that person is my husband, M. Meeting him 12 years ago had to be divine intervention of some kind, on some level (if you believe in that!). I'm very lucky.

So there it is. Positivity, forgiveness and compassion are the words of the day, today. I hope it helps someone out there, in some small way. 

Now, I'm hoping this negative situation takes a turn for the positive very soon. Maybe you could send some positive vibes our way? We need it. Thank you in advance!  Juli

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bittersweet October, 10.15.15

Bittersweet October... 

I guess it's fitting that October ended up being a bittersweet month for us. If you think about it, it's just the nature of October- everything  is dying off- leaves falling, everything turning brown- yet, for some reason most people are energized by it all- the cooler weather, the approaching holiday season. For us, over the years, October has definitely become a month of ups and downs:

October 11th- Sister's Due Date Day- For some reason, I always remember my due dates and try to remember to tell each my kids "Happy Due Date Day!" (I know it's weird!) But, this one was especially significant because Sister was my first baby and I was only 17 years old at the time. You have no idea how much I did not want to be pregnant anymore, as I watched my due date of October 11, 1983 come and go.

October 12th- Miscarriage day. At ten weeks, in 1994. Yes, I still remember it every single year for the last 21 years. (And yes, I know this seems kind of weird, too.)

October 15th- Ruben J's birthday. In my entire life, I haven't known anyone who gets as excited about their birthday, no matter their age. By the time he was in his late 20s, I thought to myself that he really should get over it. You know, he wasn't a little kid anymore. Everybody enjoys their special day once a year, I know.  But Ruben J wanted to take off work and throw himself a party every single year. I'm not kidding. One year, on his 30th birthday, we took a trip to Colorado so he could spend his birthday elk hunting, but he was disappointed because he didn't get to have a party! Oh, my! It really used to bug me. Now, looking back on it, maybe, deep down, he knew he would only get about half as many birthdays as he should, so he'd better make the most of every single one. And now, looking back on it, I wish I would have been more patient about that. Today would be Ruben J's 55th birthday.

Photo courtesy of Tracy Schmidt

October 17th- The day of Ruben J's death, in 2011. He had just turned 51. I remember, on his 50th birthday, sending him a Happy Birthday e-mail saying "Here's to 50 more!". His response, "Yeah, right!". Very unfair that he only got one more.

October 25th- Sister's birthday, in 1983.  Yes, if you are calculating in your head back to the beginning of this post, it is exactly 2 weeks later. Believe me, by then, I was one crabby, pregnant teenager! But, man, was she worth the wait. This girl. Oh, my. Someone was looking out for my seventeen-year-old self when they gave me this girl. She was the most happy, laid-back, easy-going baby. And she grew up to be the most kind-hearted, caring person I know. There is no doubt that I am a better person for having the privilege of being her mom.

Me and my girl.


October 25th is also my parents' wedding anniversary. Sister was actually born on their 25th Anniversary. Pretty good gift we gave them, huh?

Mom and Dad on their 50th Anniversary

And, finally, October 25th 1980 was Ruben J's and my first date. Well, if you call a ride home from a New Melle Community Club dance, a date, that is. In any case, it was just the beginning of one wild, 32 year ride.

Hunter S. Thompson Inspirational Travel:
Ruben J's favorite quote. This print available here

Hoping your October is more sweet than bitter - Juli

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Lately, 10.10.15


Making: A second canvas from the Kelly Rae Roberts course I started over the summer, a banner for our newest Baby G, and currently focusing on finishing my latest fiber piece. Pictures posted soon as I progress a little further.

Layer 1 of the latest multi-media painting ( a little larger canvas this time). I'm really loving the color on this one.

Layer 2. This is definitely where it goes through an "ugly" stage.

And then it gets pretty again! Detail of layer 3. Love this section. I'm planning on keeping it visible through the next several layers. The little shot of yellow really stands out.

Drinking: the usuals :) I really need to try something new.

Eating: not the filet mignon from Aldi's! I bought it and M. realized it is full of MSG, disguised by the name 'autolyzed yeast extract'. Close call! That would have cost me a day of work, for sure. Sister recently shared this article with me, though, so at least Aldi's is headed in the right direction.

Watching: the movie, Philomena- SO good!

Reading: this blog, with tons of good ideas, tips and tutorials.

Listening to: Still stuck on the original, "Please Come to Boston". Enjoy this oldie-but-goodie, below :) And this song by Need To Breathe.

Thinking: that I am in yoga heaven right now since I found all of my DVDs that have been missing since our move 18 months ago. I only kept a few standards with my computer when we moved and packed the rest away in a box. I have been looking and looking and finally came across them a couple of days ago. Can you tell I'm a Rodney Yee fan?!

Laughing at: Peanut, showing me his new Lego guy and telling me he, "looks like PawPaw M. with a happy face"! If you know M., you know why this is funny :)

Disliking: I'm keeping "Positive Vibes Only" and choosing to skip this section :)

Love my new print from A Beautiful Mess.

Loving: My students this week. They have been SO well-behaved. Maybe they sensed that I've had more than my fill of disrespect lately. What a relief to enjoy them so much. And today, I loved seeing a former student at a stop light, 50 miles from where I teach, with half of his body hanging out of the window just to get my attention and wave to me. Little things like this make me love my job over and over and over again.

Also... a little update on my plan to possibly teach some classes/paint nights/workshops, etc. at Blumenhof. I've decided that my heart just isn't in it right now, as I already spend 35-40 hours each week teaching art and barely have time to work on my own art. BUT, the good news is, someone else is going to do it! An experienced "paint and sip" instructor contacted M. recently, and since I had already decided not to do it, I readily gave him my blessing to invite her in. I'll post all of the info on it later, but I've heard good things about her, as she has been holding classes at other local wineries for a while now. I'm hoping it will be a good thing for the winery.

Well, that's my "lately".  Have a great week!  Juli

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Inspired by..."With What You Have", 10.3.15

Over the past few months, I've been inspired by a series titled "With What You Have" on the Assortment blog (one of my favorites),which began with this  post.  It's a subject I'm pretty familiar with, as having to be content with what I have seems to be a running theme in my life. When I was a kid, money was always tight in our household, so I would often make do with what I had- turning my closet into my own "room", turning boxes from the grocery store where my dad worked into "stores" or "kitchens" or "cribs" for my dolls and, of course, wearing hand-me-down clothes from my sister. As a younger adult, money wasn't quite as tight, but Ruben J and I didn't really know how to handle it, so in the midst of raising three kids, we often, inevitably,  had to make do with what we had. And now, with M. and I both working in professions that are not quite known for their high incomes, we know how to handle money, we just don't have enough of it to handle! So, here I am, mid-life, still finding myself making do with what I have. And, you know what? It's okay. The trade-off ,at this point, would be M. and I changing our careers and not spending every day doing something we love. For us, that is not an option.

I used to kind of resent making do with what I have, but now, I consider it a creative challenge and I'm pretty proud of finally being satisfied with it. As a result, almost everything in our home has a story. A few of which are shown below: (Please excuse the poor quality Iphone photos- photography is not one of my talents!)

This 1960's Ethan Allen daybed is what we use for our couch/sofa in the living room. The "70's couch" (what the kids called it before we knew it was actually a "60's couch!) used to be in the basement. Everyone would fight over it because it was the most comfortable couch to lounge on. I kept it in the basement because it was a bit of a quirky piece of furniture and had ugly cushions. Now, I embrace the quirkiness and I proudly display it upstairs  (with some linen fabric covering the ugly cushion!). It was a hand-me-down from M.'s dad and step-mom and it's kind of cool to look back at old pictures and see his family members (some of whom are no longer here) sitting on our 70's couch!

This console stereo has been in my family for several decades. I'm not quite sure when my parents purchased it (probably with Eagle stamps!), but I know that it has been around for as long as I can remember. It was always the backdrop for my sister's and my annual Easter picture. And I remember my mom having it on almost all the time and hearing songs like Joy To the World (aka-Jeremiah was a Bullfrog), American pie and Horse With No Name. And of course, my favorite, the Andy Williams Christmas albums. Tons of memories here. But now, in our home, it's main function is serving as a T.V. stand and it's doing a wonderful job :) 

My Grandpa Albers' chair. It's made of luxurious "pleather" (haha) but it is in absolute perfect condition. Again, a quirky piece, but it's part of my Grandpa's story, so I'm embracing it.  I'm not sure how old it is, but I'm guessing over 50 years. They took very good care of things, obviously. (Actually, most of his and my grandma's furniture was covered in plastic, which I always thought was super weird!)

And our table. This table has been in Ruben J's family for several generations.  I believe his uncle acquired it from his grandparents. (When Ruben J and I were dating, we used to spend many Friday nights, sitting around this table with his uncle, talking for hours. Very fond memories for me.) When his uncle passed away, it was given to his mom, when his mom passed away it was given to Ruben J and when Ruben J passed away it was given to Little Man. So I guess I'm really just holding this piece for Little Man, but that's okay. It's kind of crazy to think about how many memories were made around this piece of furniture.
So, there you have it- stories of just a few of my hand-me-downs and how I make do with what I have. Exciting, I know! There are more, believe me, but I wouldn't want to bore you even more than I already have!

I'm off now to work on some art, as I have the rare weekend day with nothing planned and nothing to grade. Have a great weekend!  Juli

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lately, 9.16.15


Making:  I'm finally settling into a routine now that we're back at the Little House on the Big Hill, which means I've been making time to work on some long overdue art projects. I finished the multi-media collage painting and have two more in the works, using my mantras from the summer. (You can read about that here, in case you missed it).

Be Steady. Be Still. Be True. Acrylic, cotton, gel medium and paper on stretched canvas.

And I'm slowly plugging away at the fiber piece from the summer. I'm thinking I'd like to add a lot more layers to this one, but my hands can only take stitching through very thin fibers. So, that is my challenge right now. Trying to brainstorm through it.

Drinking: Decaf Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee coffee and my standards- green tea, red wine and water.

Eating: Just finished the last of the bruschetta, made with the only homegrown tomatoes I've had all summer, thanks to my co-worker (the "M" of MK Designs and Photography). Thanks, M.T.!

Watching: the movie, A Walk in the Woods. The book, by Bill Bryson, was one of the few books (maybe the only book, now that I think about it) that both M. and I have read. (M. is an avid reader, me- not so much!) Anyway, it was fun to watch this movie together. But, I do have to say that the book was so much better than the movie. Don't get me wrong, the movie was definitely worth seeing, but the book was over-the-top good. SO funny! A definite plus for the movie, though, was Robert Redford. I'm a huge fan ;)

Reading: Love the work from an old high school friend, who recently started writing again.  Check it out on Instagram @begreat_a3k

Listening to: Podcasts. I love listening to podcasts in the car- mainly art, art business or art education. I've recently added The Slow Home to my list, though, so I'm looking forward to that.
I've also been in the mood for country music lately and this is my current favorite:

Thinking about: New blog content. As I mentioned earlier, I have two more mixed media collage paintings to start, and I've decided to document each step, along with my thoughts about each one as I progress. That way, if anyone out there wants to try it for themselves, they can. (The original content comes from Kelly Rae Roberts, I will just be writing about things I changed up in order to make it my own.)
Also, I just signed up for an online meditation course (actually an IPhone app) by Dan Harris. I loved his book, 10% Happier, so I'm anxious to see how I like this. The book is all about meditation, but I have yet to actually practice what he preaches. Anywho- I'll be posting a few reviews about the meditation app as well.

And, I've really been interested in the routines of creative people and how their motivation is affected by their daily routines and their physical environment. I've been reading posts on a couple of different blogs, Daily Routines and My Morning Routine, and plan to put some of these ideas to the test for my own motivation. As I've mentioned here before, I've become a much more routine-oriented person over the last few years and I think having a specific routine for my "making" days will help me be more productive. I'll be reporting on what works and what doesn't. ;)

Laughing at:  Hmmm... M. and I were just talking about my lack of the ability to "play". I have a hard time letting go and just "playing". Even as a little kid, my idea of "play" was "playing house". And since the age of 17, I've been doing that every day- for real. Taking care of my babies was really all I ever wanted to do, even before I had real babies! So, I'll be working on playing. And laughing!

Disliking: Lack of communication and the resulting, misunderstanding.

Loving: Everything about my life right now. Feeling very content :)

Have a great evening! Juli

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lately, 9.2.15


Making: Plugging away at the hand stitching on this piece.

And added another layer of cut paper and fabric scraps to this multi-media collage I started over the summer.

Drinking: Red wine, ginger-lemon tea and lots of water

Eating: Pistachios, almonds, chicken sauteed with onions and mushrooms (so good!), ice cream and yogurt. Still trying to choke down my daily 5 cups of greens that my doctor recommended, but, man, it's hard! 

Watching: Since the move back to the Little House on the Big Hill, I've been craving familiar movies. Lost in Translation, Mad Men, Julie and Julia and Horse Whisperer have been on my rotation lately.

Reading: Lots of Art Education blogs, trying to find new ideas for my classes.

Listening to: Need to Breathe, The Fray, the original version of Please Come to Boston by Dave Loggins (even better than the Kenny Chesney version), and an oldie but goodie, There's a Girl in Texas by Trace Adkins

Thinking about: Ways to make this house our home again. I've gotten a lot done in the last week or so, but, really, I'm taking it pretty slowly. I don't want to end up with any amount of clutter anywhere so I'm thinking a lot before doing anything. So far, so good. It's coming along and feels much more open and spacious than it felt the last time we lived here.

Made some progress in the Grandkids' room, but still a few things to do. A tent/bed is in the works and three more buntings- one for Baby G. and two for the twins :)

Reuben J and I bought this furniture 22 years ago. Between us, Sister and Eddie, the separate pieces have been back and forth between 7 homes and is now all back together again in our basement family room. Sister was very happy about that! There are lots of memories attached to this furniture. (Oh, by the way, the lone picture above the couch will soon have some mates. It just had to be in the picture since it's always been with the furniture. haha!)

Laughing at: Our Wednesday art department meetings. When you don't teach a core subject, sometimes your department meetings are actually fun! Today was one of those days :)

Disliking: Disrespectful teenagers! And, boy, do I have some this year. Not the greatest start to the school year, but I'm hoping it gets better. The respectful ones far outweigh the disrespectful ones, but those few can really drain my energy. But only if I let them, right?!

Loving: Having an unexpected get together with pretty much my entire family at a rodeo last weekend. The only ones missing were Little Man and his girl. Which brings me to something else I'm loving right now- this boy of mine is making some very grown up decisions lately and he's making them on his own and learning some really valuable life lessons in the process. I'm so proud of him.

Well, that's my lately! Until next time- Juli

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lately, 8.13.15

Making- new fiber pieces (one finished, two more in the works) and a multi-media collage painting (in progress, since I had to stop working on it in order to pack boxes). I'm loving this process and plan to teach certain aspects of it to my students.

Drinking-iced tea, Ranger IPA, a 2006 Ridge Grenache that we opened Sunday night to "celebrate" our move.

Eating-oh, my, gosh- everything! Except MSG, that is. The more I read up on this stuff, the more I understand why it was making me sick. It is SO bad for you. And it's hidden in so many things. Kinda crazy.

Watching - Top movies of my summer: Selma, The Butler (so good!) and  About Time (this movie has such a good message at the end, that I sent a copy to each of my kids. Definitely on my all time favorite list now).

Reading-Yoga for Life by Colleen Saidman Yee: part autobiography, part yoga book. For some reason, I felt like I had to order this book and now I know why. I think people are instinctively drawn to stories that mirror their own and I discovered in the first few pages that I can relate to so many parts of this woman's life- troubled teen years, divorce, re-marriage, the ever-changing challenges of motherhood, etc. and how a yoga practice keeps her grounded. I highly recommend it.

Listening to: Riding with the King by Eric Clapton and BB King, Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, Tibetan Singing Bowls (love this)

Thinking about- not much, but at the same time, too much. Not a lot of down time lately with the move, but yet, SO many things to think about, especially with the new school year starting TODAY! And there are many new things to think about this year, which I am so happy about. This will be my 11th year teaching and it's nice to have some new ideas to kick around and integrate into my routine.

Laughing at- anything that Jimmy Fallon has to say. That's one thing that's bad about school starting again- I can't stay up late enough to watch The Tonight Show :(

Disliking- Going through withdrawals- from Starbucks and Dierbergs (they are no longer right around the corner) and the extra Peanut and Baby G. time that I get in the summer. 

Loving- Having my front porch again, with the addition of  the awesome wind chime that Little Man surprised me with a few weeks ago. (That boy is so sweet.) And walking into Sister's house and seeing the cardboard bowling alley she made for her bowling-obsessed, four-year-old. Sister was put on this earth to be a mother, there is no doubt about that.
Oh, and the rainbow we saw from the front porch the first evening at our old (new??!) house! We took it as a good omen :)

Have a great weekend!  Juli

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Scavenger Hunt and Collage Progress, 8.5.15

I shared a challenge on Facebook yesterday- a scavenger hunt challenge posted by Courtney Carver of the blog, Be More With Less. (You can find the "rules" here.) I kind of thought it would be hard to complete this since I have been getting rid of stuff right and left for the last year or so. But it took me all of an hour! I guess that means I could really be doing a better job on the decluttering, minimalizing and simplifying front! I won't bore you with specifics, as you can read all about the process on the Be More with Less blog, but here are a few of my thoughts on specific challenges as I went through this process:

* 3 items of clothing that don't fit and 1 item with the tags still on- This was hard.  I continually assess what is in my closet and am always throwing items into the Good Will bag, so I didn't have anything that didn't fit and nothing with the tags still on.  So, instead,  I got rid of 3 sweaters that were questionable as far as still being 'in style', (Are shrugs still in style?? I hope not, because now I don't have any!), and one scarf that I have never worn.

* 2 winter coats-I just took two winter coats to the resale shop last month, so I let myself off the hook on this one.

* 2 pieces of art- Album cover art probably doesn't really qualify (well, maybe it does), but 3 of them went into the giveaway pile.

* 5 things from a junk drawer- This was also harder than I thought, since I just cleaned out the one junk drawer that I have. But I did find a ping pong ball (??? we no longer have a ping pong table), a very over-sized paper clip with a flower on top (never used, had for years, but cute!), multiple broken golf tees, a damaged golf ball and a used tea bag holder in the shape of a tea pot that I thought was really cute when I bought it, but that I never use. So, see, even though I just cleaned out that drawer, I still found items that I should have thrown away the first time around. Life lesson from a junk drawer??! I think so :)

* 2 tools- This was hard, too! Not because I don't have many tools, but because it seems weird to get rid of perfectly good tools. You never know when you might need a pair of rusty wire snips, extremely dull scissors or more than one hammer (I actually had four in one drawer). So, I got rid of the dull scissors and a miniature hammer (??). I couldn't part with the rusty wire snips.

*10 books- This was EASY! Thanks to M. we have a ton of books and already had 4 boxes in the garage ready for Good Will.

*A collection of unused hobby tools- Easy. A calligraphy set and my multiple sets of knitting needles. I've always wanted to get really good at calligraphy, but, seriously, I've had that set for 10 years and have never opened it. And remember my goal for last winter- knitting? Well, it never happened and it probably never will so I probably don't need the needles. 

So, that was my fun for this morning! I highly suggest doing this, especially if you have been considering some serious decluttering. This is a great way to get started. It really makes you think about all of the stuff you have that is taking up space in your home and that you really don't need or use.

Switching gears a bit... this afternoon I watched more of my Kelly Rae Roberts' multi-media class demos and completed one more step. It really is a process! I had no idea. Hopefully I have something worth keeping when I finally finish. I've collaged together the first few steps below.

The top left was step one, the bottom right is the latest step. Kelly Rae says it's normal for your painting to go through "ugly" stages (thank goodness!). Next, I'll be bringing in more of the browns from my original layer and trying to calm it down a bit before I add imagery.

Have a great day! I'm off to pack more boxes, as we're moving on Saturday. Bittersweet time, for sure.   Juli

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More on Mantras, 7.30.15

So, more on those mantras I mentioned on Facebook yesterday. As I've mentioned before, I'm working on a mixed media e-course through Kelly Rae Roberts' website called Hello Soul Hello Mantras.  The first step in the process has nothing to do with painting. The first step is to 'quiet the noise' in my head and come up with a series of phrases that speak to me at this specific moment in time.
So Kelly Rae's instructions were to 1) write some statements about a specific situation relevant to me right now and 2) write the names of two people whom I admire and then write down what it is that I admire about them. 
After I filled 11 pages in my journal (she encourages you to really take your time and write a lot), I then went back to look for key words that really spoke to me or words or phrases that show up several times. When I finished, I had this series of words: trust, fear, forgiveness, worry, brave, love, steady, confident, positive, calm, authentic. And these words led to these statements or mantras:

And these mantras will become part of the mixed-media paintings that I started today. This is the first layer of the first one. I'll show the layers (there are a lot of them!) as they progress in another post.

What I love most about this, is that it's an ongoing process. If I want mantras to be a part of a painting (whether it's actually on the canvas or just inspiration), it will always be different and I will always have something new to draw upon. And even if nothing is created with these mantras in mind, it still helps with the 'mental sorting' process. Does that make sense? I hope so. And I hope you'll check out Kelly Rae's courses. So much fun! Even if it really isn't your style, you can still learn something. Again, you can find them here.

Oh, and the happiest of birthdays to my "baby" boy- who turns 20 today. Happy Birthday, Little Man!!

Till next time- Juli

Monday, July 27, 2015

Changes!, 7.27.15

More changes are coming our way. Oh, my. I'm ready for things to settle down a bit. I've been writing about the stresses of this summer and we've finally come to a decision that will, hopefully, take some of the stress away. So here's the scoop. We've been renting from my son for over a year while trying to sell our house, which means that we have had to keep up payments on two places for the past 16 months. Our best case scenario was to sell our house within a few months (it's never taken longer than four months to sell any house that we've ever sold in the past) and we would be able to take our time to find a new place, while at the same time saving money for a larger down payment, thus a smaller house payment. We knew we could keep it up for a year without any issues, but it has now been 16 months. So we had to get serious about what we were going to do. We were getting to the point of losing a significant portion of our original down payment. So...we are moving back into the house and taking it off the market for now. There are many things that we don't like about this decision, but we have to focus on the good things. And many circumstances led us to the conclusion that the good points in moving back definitely outweigh the bad.

One really good thing is that I will now have a dedicated studio space- a whole room to myself, just for painting, sewing, dyeing, etc. I'm super excited about it, as I've never had more than a corner of a room before. I think it will make a huge difference as far as getting things done and being more organized, consistent and productive.

My previous thoughts here on expanding Olive and Ash to include classes, workshops, etc. will have to be put on hold for a while, as getting classes and workshops set up in the first place will take resources that I don't have right now. But it is still in the works (if only in my mind, for now!). I'll be focusing on getting the studio set up, doing some serious making when we get settled again and working on some home improvements which will enable me to have small groups of people in the studio.

Another good thing about moving is having more space in general, which I will need by the beginning of next year because I will suddenly be not only the Bibi (Grandma) of two, but the Bibi of FOUR! Yes, my Doublement Gum commercial in my last post was a hint that my son and his wife found out they are expecting identical twins! I still haven't really wrapped my head around it yet, as we have never had twins in our family before, but I'm sure it's going to be so much fun :)

I'll leave you with some images (some of you may have seen them on Instagram and Facebook already) of the new studio space in our 'little house on a big hill' and some inspiring quotes on change by Kelly Rae Roberts , whose words have made a huge difference in my outlook lately. Enjoy them!

I was able to hang the vintage handkerchief banners and strings of mini lights in the studio- something I've always wanted to do.  This space started out as a garage, converted to a game room, then became a storage room. I think it was always meant to be a studio, though. It has great, natural light coming from the north through the french doors that replaced the windowless garage door. And just up the steps is my favorite spot to relax- the front porch.

Have a great week!  Juli