Saturday, May 28, 2016

Lately, 5.28.16

So much going on around here, lately:

Making: Lots of nesting going on. Having lots of busy days in a row puts me in a sort of "hibernation mode" where I just want to stay home and clean, rearrange and basically just "piddle". Love days like that. Here are the end products of my piddling days:

Extending the life of my mother's day bouquet- keeping all of the still-fresh blooms, cutting the stems much shorter and placing them in a few handmade pottery pieces I have in my kitchen. I think I enjoy this stage of a bouquet the most. Also, (middle pic) I had these soaps sitting on the bathroom counter, along with a necklace with beads in the same color blue and was so inspired by the color...

 ... that I  painted all of our exterior doors that same color blue. This specific paint color is called Voyage by Behr :)  LOVE it!

And, finishing the tray I started a few weeks ago with some metallic gold touches and the quote,"The ordinary arts we practice, everyday, at home, are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest"- Thomas Moore.

Drinking: iced tea, 6th Sense Syrah (very good!), and expanding my summer horizons at Starbucks with Coffee Light Frappuccino instead of my regular rotation of Americanos and Flat Whites.

Eating: this healthier recipe for Buffalo Chicken Wings is so good.  A couple of tips from the reviews that were helpful: dry the wings thoroughly with paper towels before coating with the flour and bake them a little longer and at a higher temperature if you like your wings a little crispier (we do!). I baked them at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. 

Watching: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon- Yay! for summer, when I get to stay up late and watch this :). I also watched an interesting movie about Mother Theresa called 'The Letters' (check it out on Netflix).

Reading: I signed up for a summer reading challenge at school as a way to motivate me to read more. I have to read at least six from the following list:  a book that has a color in the title, a book that is or will soon be a movie, a memoir or autobiography, a book recommended by a friend, a book set in a different country, an article in a newspaper or magazine, a dystopian novel, a historical fiction novel, a children's book, a book with an unappealing or ugly cover, a book based on  a fairy tale, a graphic novel
So, the first two that I knocked out here- the children's book and a magazine article. Of course! But, now I have to get serious. Any suggestions?

Listening to:  Spirit and Flight by Pia Jane Bijkerk, found here.

Thinking about: How glad I am to have a break from teaching, but how lucky I am to be a teacher. Graduation always reminds me of this.

Laughing at: The cutest videos that my niece sends me of her Baby G, laughing hysterically. So funny!

Loving:   Spending lots of time with family- Mother's Day, Peanut's 5th birthday party, an unexpected shopping day with Little Man and his girl and more time with them when we took an impromptu day trip to Columbia, MO

Spreading joy: With our Blue Jays! Proceeds are given as a legacy gift to a former student's little boy :)
Students paint each Blue Jay in the style of a famous artist. Do you recognize any??!

With what I have: I had two small flowers left over after planting and no container for them. Instead of going to the store to buy more containers, I made do with what I could find in our basement: a decorative tin and a small terra cotta pot that Little Man made for Halloween one year in elementary school. Both of these things were just collecting dust in our storage room and they are now brightening up our deck :)

Well, that is my "lately".  I'll be posting more often for the next couple of months, as I will obviously have more free time. Yay! I have many blog posts already in draft form and am considering a blog challenge. Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!   Juli

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The "Crabbies", 5.12.16

I started this blog post on Monday. I thought my day started off great- I even got an earlier than usual start and accomplished quite a bit before school even started. But, it quickly went downhill and got much worse at the end of the school day. So, after work, I came home, hopped on Blogger and clicked the "compose" button. Sometimes, when I have a rotten day, it helps to come to this space to "vent". Many times I don't even hit "publish", as just typing out the words helps me feel better about a situation. But, today, I decided to finish it because after talking to M.and a few co-workers since then, I realized it's a subject we can all relate to.

Monday afternoon, I told M. about the rotten day I was having and the fact that I feel like every where I turn some kind of negativity just slaps me in the face out of nowhere. When he got home that night he said, "You know, I think the whole world just has a really bad case of the "crabbies" lately". Such a great way to describe it, don't you think? I was so glad to hear that it wasn't just me. Not that I want someone else to experience having a bad day, its just nice to have confirmation that it isn't just me, over-reacting. M. and I agreed that every time we turn around lately we encounter some sort of hatefulness, rudeness, gossip, cynicism, etc. You know, the "crabbies"! haha! And, we both agreed that to keep ourselves out the negative mindset that we could get sucked into sometimes, we have to strategically work our way around it. M. is very good at compartmentalizing the variety of things he has going on in his head, so for him, replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts is the best strategy.  It takes about three days for him to mentally work through a "problem". I'm not very good at mental compartmentalizing, so, for me, trying to stay away from the negative in the first place is a much better strategy (staying off of Facebook, walking away from drama, etc.) Sometimes that is a little hard to do, though, so it may take much longer than three days to change my mindset. But, like I've said in many other blog posts, reminding myself of the good things that are ALL around me, is a great way to lift myself up. I've been keeping up with the gratitude journal that I started a few months ago and it really helps to look back on all of the good things going on in my life. Each journal entry space is very small, though (which is kind of good, as it forces your entries to be short and to the point), but, sometimes it's nice to write things out with a little more detail. Here is my current, more detailed gratitude list:

* Working with WONDERFUL co-workers who surround me with positivity every day.
* Spending an entire weekend surrounded by kids and grand kids, my parents, my sister, my nieces, etc. for Mother's Day.
* Getting a surprise Mother's Day phone call from my boy who is away for Army training.
* Getting a sweet Mother's Day text from my step-son.
* Coming home every day to a husband who really is smiling on the inside every. single. day. (even though it doesn't show on the outside most of the time!).
* My fellow bloggers, who I can always count on to spread some joy my way with their work and  their words.
* Income tax REFUNDS! (I know I shouldn't include money on my gratitude list, but, man, it's so nice when it's unexpected.)
*Getting outside on days like today (perfect, no-sweating, 75 degrees).
*Having an Advanced Drawing class with students who were so focused in class that we were able to fit in 4 extra projects this semester! They have been a complete and total joy to have this year.

Once I got started here, I felt like I could go on and on. But I decided to stop there, as I think you get the point. If you don't already keep a gratitude list/journal, you should try it for a few days and see what happens. It really works. It's kind of crazy how effective it really is. As a matter of fact, I'm now smiling as I finish this, so I've obviously come a long way since this "venting" post began on Monday!

What would be on your list?

Have a great weekend!  Juli

*all quotes and illustrations are from the book Think Happy, Be Happy- art, inspiration, joy -by Workman Publishing Co.

p.s. For fellow teachers out there :))

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lately, 5.4.16

Wow. It's been a while. Time is definitely getting away from me lately, that's for sure! It's been "go, go, go" around here lately and I don't see it letting up until the official end of the school year, which, thank goodness, is just around the corner. So, here is what I've been up to lately...

Making: Creating has been taking place in different ways around here, lately. I'm a little more focused on getting this house in order and painting and stitching have been put on a bit of a back burner for the past couple of weeks. And more home projects are in order for the summer, so stay tuned for that!

New flowers in old pots. Love this color combination.

Refurbishing a vintage metal tray. This shows layer 2- a collage of magazine images. The next layer will be more paint, then a final glossy coat of sealer.

Drinking: iced tea, coffee infused vodka

Eating: too many sweets, such as this famous mile-high-meringue pie from Cowan's Restaurant in Washington MO., taco stuffed green peppers (new recipe- so good!)

Watching: The Revenant (just "okay"- sorry, Leonardo, but I liked you better in What's Eating Gilbert Grape), and re-watching the beginning of The Sopranos series (I miss James Gandolfini!)

Spreading Joy: In this case, the joy came back to me, which was so great! One night last week, I got a phone call from a woman who found one of my abandoned paintings in Joanne's craft store. She later noticed my name on a sign at the Art Walk and tried to thank me in person, but I wasn't there at the time. So she grabbed my business card and called me. Imagine that. She actually picked up a telephone and called me. It was SO nice! She said that she, a painter herself,  had heard about the art abandonment group and thought it was such a cool idea, but never thought she would ever be a recipient. She was so excited to find my painting and told me she was in the process of finding a frame that was just right for it. That pretty much made my week. Art abandonment is not about getting a "Thank You", but when it happens like that, I'll take it!

Listening to: The Lumineers, Chris Stapleton

Thinking about: The great time we had in Excelsior Springs, helping to host a wine dinner at Willow Spring Mercantile. Great food (made by the owners, Jim and Daphne Bowman), great company and great lodging at The Elms historic hotel.

We loved staying here and plan to come back soon. The Elms has a pretty interesting history, which you can read about here.

Willow Springs Mercantile bistro.

M., giving a bit of history of the vineyard/grapes/wine before each course.

Cute little town :)

Laughing at: The look on two of my students' faces when I told them they could build a Lego stadium (of their own design) for their final project.
Both boys brought in their many bags full of random lego pieces and have been completely focused on their project for the past week. This is the first time that has happened all year! So funny!

Disliking: Sweating. I'm sorry. I know it's good to sweat, but I just don't like it. At all. It just makes me feel gross. *See the next section for a partial explanation :)

Loving:  These bobby pins from Mindy Renee on Etsy. They are perfect for my baby fine hair, especially when I'm trying to grow out my bangs as the weather gets warmer. One thing I can't stand is my hair sticking to my forehead when I'm sweaty!

And... having our first family dinner night in way too long and having all of my kids and grand kids and my parents under the same roof for a few hours. HEAVEN!! This shot of my mom and her 7th great grandchild pretty much says it all, don't you think? LOVE this.

Great Grandma Joanne and Lyla :)

With what I have:  Hmmm...Well, we have a tie wall that is literally disintegrating at this moment and since we aren't handy people and are having a hard time finding someone to fix it for us for a reasonable price, I've resorted to disguising it. Just for now. One day soon, it will cave in and we will be forced to fix it. Seriously. It's bad. But, for now, I spent a little time in the garden department at Lowes and digging through our basement stash and came up with a good combination of plants, bushes, flowers and plant stands that are working out perfectly as a disguise until we can replace the wall. No photos- sorry! It doesn't look THAT good, it just looks better than 'awful', so I'll just let you use your imagination!!

Well, there is my lately. Hopefully the blog posts will be more frequent once summer break begins. Just 2 1/2 weeks away!! Yay!!  Have a great week :)    Juli