Monday, March 30, 2015

My latest inspiration

A couple weeks ago, I went to a fundraiser for the neighborhood elementary school where a friend of mine is a teacher. It was a silent auction of artwork created by the students. The workday had been kind of blah, and a dose of art and community was an excellent evening pick-me-up. Loved that local businesses contributed food, that our city councilwoman made a donation, and that school parents organized the whole thing. It made me oddly excited to have kids and to join the PTA. (Not anytime soon, of course.)

I got a little carried away when submitting bids - I think because I was imagining myself as a wealthy philanthropist/art collector/pillar of the community. I ended up walking away with two new pieces of art - a bird of paradise painting done by the school art teacher and a pirate ship by a student.

But I quickly remembered that my walls are pretty full and I couldn't think of where this art would actually fit in my apartment - especially because it is sort of weird to have art created by a child you do not know? - until I remembered the top of my fabulous new desk hutch. So I've now got an inspiration wall ledge going on top of my desk. I love how the two pieces look together and the accidentally coordinating blue/orange/red color scheme.

Most of all, it seems so appropriate to have student artwork hanging above my creative space. It reminds me to, like a kid, keep making stuff for the fun of it (or because it is a school assignment), regardless of how good it is. It also recalls the inspiration behind Crystal Moody's year of creative habits - she saw her daughter getting better and better at drawing as her pages stacked up. And the teacher's artwork is an inspiring reminder to make time for art and creativity and exploration in addition to putting your best foot forward at your day job.

Love it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Get Messy Art Journal Blog Hop

Hi to everyone here for the blog hop! First off, I should say that the sharing aspect of the Get Messy group has been so much fun. It's like the grown-up, Internet equivalent of going to your mom or dad with a scribbled drawing and saying "Look what I made!" My boyfriend is doubtlessly appreciative that he is no longer the only one filling that role.

And not only do I love having people to show my work to, I love that the Get Messy group is making me make the work in the first place. This is the first time I've really done any art journaling and I'm so glad I jumped in. I'd been a bit intimidated - the art journals I'd seen previously all involved lots of mixed media and gesso (what is gesso?!) and technical skill. But seeing the diverse range of styles and techniques from the Get Messy group has been inspiring and empowering. Before this I mainly made minibooks, but I tended to do it when I had a big chunk of time to dive in and do something involved. I love that the group has me creating on a regular basis as part of my routine.

For the purpose of this post, I'm including everything I made over the course of the Season of Love. Like with children, it's hard to pick favorites. And also like with children, I will never tell which my real favorites are. ;) The original posts, with more thoughts on each of these spreads, are linked.

The first week is when I jumped in, put something on the page, and saw where it would take me. And realized this was going to be a lot less difficult and I lot more fun than I had expected.

I love how this captures, in a few words and photos, what my (sometimes mundane, sometimes romantic) domestic life looks like at the moment.

This one wins the award for best riff on a children's arts & crafts project - super fun putting a paper tree together.

This is for sure one of my favorites. I love that it's bright and graphic and fun - and I know I'll be glad one day that I captured all the silly things I love at 25.

This was the first time I tried using watercolor on a page and realized it wouldn't be the end of the world if it bled and wrinkled a bit. Aka I got messy. The journaling is pretty sprawling but it made my heart fill up to think of all the different people who've mattered to me over the course of my life.

This one is not my favorite design, but probably my favorite message - a love-yourself-first riff on that famous e.e. cummings poem for the public link-up.

I think this one may be the most meaningful to me. I loved that in the process of completing this page, I made a new connection about "where I get it from" in terms of expressing love. And I love the simple and graphic design.

This one is when I realized that politics and career issues are just as worthy topics for art journaling as love and feelings.

I love books and reading and I can think of a few other pages I'd like to make with quotes from my favorite authors... but for now, I love that the Bachelor, Virginia Woolf, and Raymond Carver could come out to play together in this spread.
And finally, this page is all about the magic of the selfie. And selfie-confidence and selfie-possession.
I'm still planning to catch up a bit on some of the prompts I missed but love that I'm ending the season with ten complete spreads telling a piece of my (love) story. I'm hoping to keep up with the prompts next season - I tend to have more crafting time in the winter months so I hope I don't fall off the wagon as the weather gets nicer and I emerge from hibernation. I'm also hoping to experiment more with some new techniques - and maybe even acquaint myself with gesso. ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can visit the other ladies in the blog hop here:
Elizabeth / Sara / Cait / Julia / Cassandra / Kristin / Delaney

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Get Messy: Self Portrait with Affirmations

         I loved the idea for this prompt, but a lot of affirmations make me feel a bit itchy. So I was struggling to think of what text to include around my selfie.

Then I remembered an experience I had when I was teaching art in Palestine. It was after work one day and we were out grocery shopping. In the evenings, I would often get stressed thinking about everything that had gone wrong in the classroom that day and my lesson plans for the next. Driving home, I started to feel the anxiety creeping in and began running through my inventory of Things to Worry About - but found myself coming up short. And then I heard a voice inside me that said "You have everything you need." Soon followed by "You are everything you need." Hippie stuff, I know, but true story. It reminded me of a passage in Eat, Pray, Love where Elizabeth Gilbert talks about being comforted and guided by a similar voice - something deep and wise that was both her and above her. Those words of affirmation will always have a special place in my heart. It is my own personal version of "you are enough."

This prompt also made me see the magic of self-portraiture. As awkward as it felt to smile and stare off into the distance, I love the result.  I love that it's me, after work, in my backyard, as I am. I am not too interested in taking a side in the Great Selfie Debate of the millenium- but I know in the future I will want to look back on pictures of myself. I have so many of my boyfriend, mostly as a backdrop for whatever meal we are eating, and comparatively few of myself. I think we all fantasize that we will date a photographer who will lovingly capture us as we are, and one day, when we are Secretary of State, Buzzfeed will discover the photos and run an article about how hot we were back in the day. (No? Just me then?) But until then, it's up to use to make sure we capture ourselves. If you wait around and hope that other people will take great pictures of you, you miss the opportunity to see yourself through your own lens.

I love that the photo and the text both capture that sense of self-possession and self-confidence and enoughness. This spread is super simple - just some flowers cut out from an old Rifle Paper catalogue and some letter cut-outs. Some of my favorite colors in clothing and in paper.

The daily card, week 10

I have been trying to use this project to experiment with new techniques, and there are some fun ones this week. I cut the "let it go" out of a calendar page and backed it with turquoise paper - sort of a poor woman's die cut. (I am only realizing now that it would have been easier, and looked exactly the same, if I cut out the letters and backed them with the calendar page.) On the second one, I used a paper snowflake as a mask and misted on top of it. You can't really tell it's a snowflake but I like the effect all the same.

But my very favorites are the "date night" card and the "second-to-last thing" card. (If there's one thing I remember about Bar Method in the distant future, when my love affair with it has ended, it will be hearing the instructor promise "It's the second-to-last thing." It's how you know to hang on tight and keep lifting your leg or bobbing up and down because you're so close to the end of the set.) They are light and playful and a good reminder that ART can be FUN. And the colors this week just scream "springtime" to me.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Get Messy: Author Quotes

I fell off the art journaling wagon over the past couple weeks, but I'm catching up and jumping back in. This one sat on my desk for over a week - I love reading so the quotes were easy, but the layout wasn't coming together for me until this afternoon when I dove in and started cutting and gluing and stamping.

I saw Birdman a couple weeks ago and the Raymond Carver quote that it opens with stuck with me. It reminded me of one of my favorite Virginia Woolf quotes, from To the Lighthouse:
And did you get what 
you wanted from this life, even so? 

I did. 

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself 

beloved on the earth. 
But he must have more than that. He must have sympathy. He must be assured that he too lived in the heart of life; was needed, not only here, but all over the world. (Woolf)
They express something similar: this compelling need to be loved not just by your friends and family, or in your immediate surroundings, but everywhere. That need gets expressed in a thirst for fame and accomplishment and world renown.

Love, fame, power. I think we crave fame, on some level, because it is like the ultimate experience of love. If we're famous, it's because everyone knows and loves us. And if everyone knows and loves us, we can never die. It's hard to get more fundamentally human than that. Perhaps some people are drawn to fame more by a thirst for power than a thirst for love, but I imagine it comes from a similar place - people don't have to love you if they fear you.

What better modern-day expression of that is there than the Bachelor? It's the ultimate intersection of the desire for fame and the desire for love - not just by the bachelor or by the contestants but by viewers across America. So this week heavily features the Bachelor crew and a few other celebrities, inspired in large part by an US Weekly that my boyfriend supplied me with. I used some clippings from a National Geographic travel catalogue to get at the sense of global scope, and I finished it off with some stars. (Do you see what I did there?!)

I am completely smitten with this. Any spread where Virginia Woolf and Farmer Chris sit side-by-side is okay in my book.

Friday, March 20, 2015

easy to be heavy, hard to be light

Bardo Museum, Tunis, April 2014; Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, April 2012
Wednesday was a rough day for two places that I care deeply about.

Most of all, my heart is heavy after the terrorist attack at the Bardo Museum - which I've visited - in Tunis. All my friends and colleagues in Tunisia are in my thoughts. Je serai à Tunis dès que possible. I just finished writing about how hopeful and optimistic the elections this fall were. How, despite all the challenges, Tunisia is a bright spot in the Arab Spring. And while the attack doesn't erase that, it's going to make things much harder as the country tries to get its economy back on its feet and reassure tourists and investors. On top of the tragic loss of life, I'm crushed to think about what this could mean for Tunisians.

It's not comparable in terms of tragedy, but I'm also bummed out about the results of the parliamentary elections in Israel and what they will mean for Palestine. I am not taking a stand here on where I would fall along the Israeli political landscape or who I would have voted for. But during the campaign period, Netanyahu has moved further and further to the right, to the point of proclaiming that he will not allow a Palestinian state to form under his watch. It's bad news for the peace process and for peace in the region. It moves us even further away from the two-state solution that already seemed near-impossible to achieve.

And combined with those, there's the ongoing catastrophe of the Islamic State's advance across the Middle East and the destruction they've meted on human life and human history, and the ongoing war in Syria that has ended or damaged so many innocent lives. It all adds up to make me feel a bit heavy and hopeless about the region I love so much.

I don't have policy solutions or life lessons or a cute, bloggy way to wrap this up. These issues are hard and entrenched and maybe unsolvable. They are certainly much bigger than my involvement with them. And I am certainly not the first person to feel pessimistic about the future of the Middle East. Cynicism - about the Middle East and about democracy assistance - is the flavor of the month in DC at the moment.

But I do remember something a Tunisian civil society activist - a dynamic woman working hard to advance women's political participation - said at one point. That it's easy to be cynical from far away, but when it's your country, when you're in it, you don't have the luxury of losing hope and giving up. You just have to forge on.

I'll be keeping that in mind as we continue doing our best to support the transition in Tunisia and as I figure out what part I'll play in this part of the world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The daily card, week 9

I think this is one of my favorite weeks so far. This week is brought to you by (left to right, top to bottom): binge-watching House of Cards made this comic pop back into my head -- fitting because everyone in DC is consuming the show like candy; the Anthropologie storefronts; Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss; a leftover scrap from an ongoing travel minibook project and the itch to leave the country again; a fortune cookie; the fact that everything in my house smells like grapefruit; and, once again, Anthropologie.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It happened.

(Or, life on the other side of this post.)

I realized that I have referenced that the elections in Tunisia this fall had a big impact on my personal and professional life, but never really explained why. So I wanted to write it all out - mostly to get some thoughts down while they're still relatively fresh. Because big international trips have an odd effect. As life-changing as they feel at the time, they are book-ended by your normal life at home - and so after a few weeks they start to feel like a dream. It's like coming back for the beginning of the school year - as soon as you're back on school property, you feel like you were gone for a weekend instead of a summer.

In the fall, Tunisia voted to elected a new parliament and president. The elections were split over three election dates - one each at the end of October, November, and December - which made for a crazy fall. Long story short, my organization works to support democracy around the world, including through observing elections to ensure that they are free and fair. In Tunisia, as in other places, we accomplish this both through supporting local groups to conduct observation and through bringing in a small delegation of international observers.

I was lucky enough to be in Tunisia for about two months total during the election season to support the international delegation. (I flew back to DC for two weeks between the November and December election - just long enough to get a bit discombobulated and to get in the Christmas spirit.) I was thrilled not just that I was involved in the election observation, but that I got to spend an extended time in Tunis. It was wonderful to develop a more personal connection with the country and our team there - and pretty fun to play expat for a few weeks.

In short - it was a crazy, amazing, exhausting, inspiring, round-the-clock, all-cylinders-firing, highlight-of-my-career-so-far couple of months.

On a political level, these elections were a huge milestone in Tunisia's democratic transition - so far, it's the only real success story of the Arab Spring. Tunisians freely elected a president and parliament for the first time in the country's history, leading to a peaceful transfer of power. Despite a lot of political drama in the months leading up to the election, and some minor issues on election day, everything went smoothly and everyone accepted the results.

The most impressive work was done by the Tunisian observer groups. One of our partners used advanced statistically based methodology, known as a "quick count," that enabled them to prove that the results released by the election commission were an accurate representation of the votes cast. Their findings were widely reported in the Tunisian press, and we think they made a huge difference in the fact that political parties and the public accepted the results. Meanwhile, members of the international delegation shared experiences from their own countries and took back lessons from the Tunisian experience.

I was so lucky to get to be involved. It was a huge learning experience in managing a huge operation, in working round the clock, in putting your best foot forward, and in learning quickly from mistakes - not to mention in observing elections. I also learned a tremendous amount about Tunisian politics, though I still feel like I've just barely scratched the surface. It was so cool to be a small part of that historic moment.

Best of all, I met fascinating people from all over the world. The international delegation was full of people with diverse experience in politics, civil society, and business. We also brought in local staff from our other offices in the Middle East and North Africa, which made it feel like one big family party where you meet a lot of relatives for the first time. And whenever I'm in Tunisia, I feel so welcomed by my Tunisian colleagues. It is so wonderful to work with them in real life instead of over a Skype connection.

On a personal level - as important as the historic moment was, the elections, for me, were as much about the silly little memories as the big headline news. It was not just walking Avenue Bourguiba on election day, going to presidential campaign rallies, chatting with my Tunisian colleagues as they figured out who to vote for, or hearing the honking in the streets as soon as it was announced that Essebsi had won the presidency, it was also in the everyday moments over those three months. It was walking home from work as the streets darkened listening to the Serial podcast. It was getting loopy late on election night when everyone in the organization, from me to the president, was awake at 3am. It was Fitbit challenges and eating far too much shawarma from Tunistanbul and the drone of the Nespresso machine at all hours.

It is so rewarding to work hard with people you like and admire towards one big goal. It must recapture a bit of how it felt when the whole tribe worked together to bring down a woolly mammoth. All together, it was a crazy, amazing experience and while I don't miss the sleepless nights, I absolutely miss getting to work with so many amazing people on something so meaningful.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The new kid

A few weeks ago, a friend from work succeeded in convincing me to go with her to Zengo Cycle - my first ever spin class.  I won't go through a play-by-play of how much I was suffering in every different part of the class, and I have no tips to share for newbies. (There are some great ones here.)

I'm just here to say that it was SERIOUSLY SO HARD. I went in thinking I was in pretty good shape and basically up for anything physically. I go to Bar Method 4-6 times a week, and I go running fairly consistently. (Except it's more like jogging, and it had better get more consistent because I'm signed up for a 10k in May.) But I was so unprepared for this. It was hard enough when we got started and then there the horrifying moment when I realized we were expected to STAND UP and KEEP CYCLING. Weeks later I still occasionally say a silent prayer that I am no longer on that bike.

But I did feel fantastic afterwards. I don't think my non-profit salary can support both a Bar Method membership and regular spin class, but it made me realize that I need to work more of that heart-pumping, lung-searing, not-sure-whether-I'll-faint-or-throw-up-first kind of cardio into my routine.

And even more than that, it reminded me how important it is to try new things, to challenge yourself in new ways, and to be a beginner - with all the awkwardness and discomfort that goes along with it. While Bar Method is still physically challenging, I'm familiar with the rhythm of the classes so it's no longer as mentally tough. Zengo Cycle shook me out of my complacency a bit. It's easy to get into a rut where you think you're the best at everything - because you're doing the stuff you're good at and comfortable with. I needed that reality check and the reminder that I need to keep growing and challenging myself - not just in my exercise routine but in all areas of my life.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

red eagle, red horse

Or, landmarks seen from Calder sculptures. Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, August 5; National Gallery Sculpture Garden, DC, today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The daily card, week 8: Second deck edition

When I started this project, I only bought one deck of playing cards. Buying a year's worth seemed like a sure-fire way to jinx the project and end it before its 365-day run. So I was pretty excited when it was time to put a second deck in my Amazon cart, and I cracked it open for this week's cards.

February 24 is a great quote from Mary Oliver I found via Austin Kleon. Like the Steinbeck quote from a few weeks ago, it's another one that perfectly sums up this project. I so often have little tidbits of ideas during the day that would be forgotten if I didn't have a standing appointment to make something every evening.

The VOTE card is another fun one recalling this fall's elections in Tunisia. Mostly inspired by the fact that I have a new VOTE stamp that I didn't want to wait until 2016 to use.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Way to Plant, Part Two

Posting my summer 2013 gardening minibook has got me in a gardening mood and getting excited for spring. I promised a while back that I would do a plant-by-plant recap of last summer's garden, but never got around to posting before I left for Tunisia for the fall. With the 2015 season fast approaching, this is standing in as my garden journal so I can remember what worked and what didn't.


Green beans
. Seriously, I now think that grocery store green beans are the biggest scam of our time. You pretty much just have to throw seeds on the ground and you will have armfuls of food. They did come with an associated flop, though: I accidentally bought bush beans instead of climbing beans, so my brilliant plan of having green beans climb up my okra didn't pan out. Which brings me to...

Okra. This was mostly for the novelty, since other people in the gardening class last year planted it and it seemed to grow well. And yep, my okra grew tall and produced a ton. The thing is, I don't really eat okra. So I procrastinated picking it, and I ended up with two freezer bags of huge and woody okra in my fridge. Lesson learned that, as fun as it is to try new things, you should probably plant vegetables that you actually eat. (Austin might put this one in the "loser" category for that factor alone.)

Peppers. Bell peppers are the #1 staple of my diet along with Annie's and Chipotle, so they are always what I'm most excited about it. They did okay last year, but great this year. Though I did fail to pick a couple almost-ripe ones (like half-red, half-green) and then they were gone when I came back. I also planted a bunch of different varieties of hot peppers - the jalapenos were definitely the winners there. 

Zucchini. All my squash plants died last year before I got any squash. Community gardens are like daycares or public transit - everyone shares diseases - and this moldy disease felled a lot of our collective squash plants. I finally got to eat some home-grown squash this year, though I never did get the armfuls of zucchini that everyone warns you about - maybe just one or two per plant - and then some of the plants did get sick and die. I did have lots of squash flowers that didn't turn into fruit. If I had had more time or ambition, I would have liked to try pollinating the squash flowers by hand - maybe next year. 

Kale. This was an experiment because I planted pretty late, after kale season ended. But I planted the seeds in the shadow of the strawberry plants, and they grew, and once it got cooler they grew a lot bigger. Hurray for hardy plants!

Eggplant. I had both traditional (?) and Japanese eggplant. Not much to say other than it's pretty awesome to see a big fat eggplant hanging around in the leaves, and the Japanese eggplants grew super-fast.

Cucumbers. I let a couple cucumbers get overripe (to the point that they turned yellow) last year because I was shy about picking them. When fruit gets overripe, it signals to the plant that its job is done and it can die. I got tons of cucumbers this year, even though they never really figured out how to climb the stakes I built for them. I also had some moderate success companion planting carrots and radishes with the cucumbers.

Instagram. Sometimes I think I like photographing my vegetables more than I like growing them or eating them. I don't know if my Instagram followers share my fondness though.

Plants I was kind of "eh" about: 

Tomatoes. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE tomatoes. They are the #1 reason to grow a garden in my book. But I found it pretty challenging to grow good ones. Their color would look underripe but then they would start cracking like they were overripe. They were mostly heirloom varieties from the farmer's market, so maybe they weren't supposed to be a vibrant red. After I initially staked them, I didn't do a great job maintaining them and culling dead leaves, so that may have been the problem. My cherry tomatoes were awesome, though. 


Sage. So cute and pretty for a couple weeks, then went dead as a doornail. I think my parsley ate it (or at least its sunshine).

Melon. See my previous post re "I need more space next year." I didn't really leave my melons enough room. A honeydew rotted during a wet spell, but I did get a tasty palm-sized watermelon. 

Sweet potatoes. I was excited to harvest these later in the fall before leaving for Tunisia, but other than a couple good ones they were pretty "meh." They never really got big and so I ended up picking mostly thick roots. I was running out of steam when I prepped this part of the garden, so I think maybe I didn't break up the soil enough, or maybe I planted them too close together. I love sweet potatoes, though, so this will be worth another shot next year for sure.

Bottom line: I still love this hobby. Now that I've got the basics down, I am hoping to learn more this year about helping plants thrive and not just survive.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Get Messy: The greatest act of love in history

   I work in international democratic development. (Say that five times fast and you'll have an idea of how hard it is to explain my job to people.) As a result, I spend a lot of time thinking about democratic transitions and what makes them succeed or fail. When I was in Tunisia for the presidential elections this fall, it struck me that people who were imprisoned in the interior ministry under the old regime were competing - peacefully and democratically - against people who had worked in the interior ministry under the old regime.

So when I got to thinking about the greatest act of love in history for this week's prompt, I thought of the great leaders who have acted selflessly to move the country forward after civil conflict and during political transitions. I thought of leaders like Nelson Mandela in South Africa and members of the political class in Tunisia, who were imprisoned for many years for advocating for a freer country. When they were released, they could have enacted revenge for what they went through and passed political exclusion laws - but instead, they forgave their oppressors, allowed them to participate in politics, and moved the country forward. I know that I am oversimplifying very complicated stories. And I don't know whether it was love of country or love of humanity or political wisdom or a concern for their legacy - or maybe something else entirely - that drove those leaders. But to me those are tremendous acts of forgiveness and love.

Nothing too fancy here - I used vertical lines of brush script, one of the limited tools in my creative toolbox, to convey the feeling of prison bars and chopped up my photos to continue the effect.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Currently: February 2015

In February, I have been:

Hibernating and loving it. All fall, amidst the craziness of the elections in Tunisia (some context here though I haven't written about it much) I looked forward to January and February, when work would slow down and I could nest in the new apartment and catch my breath a bit. I know a lot of people hate these months, but I love the fresh start and the rest that accompany the wintry beginning of the year. Gardening has made me appreciate it even more - it's a time when fields and people lie fallow in preparation for new growth to come. Lately, I've been alternating between feeling like I'm getting itchy for warmer weather and a faster pace and feeling reluctant to leave the cocoon.

Creating nonstop. Since joining the Get Messy group, I have gone from art journaling newbie to complete addict. My workweek evenings have been pretty free lately and I love settling in at my desk with a cup of tea, hot chocolate, wine, or some combination thereof and making stuff. The "new" apartment (we've been here since October) has room for each of us to have our own desk and I am surprised how much of a difference it has made to have a dedicated space, with lots of surface area and storage, surrounded by lots of floor (which is inevitably where I end up when the table is buried).

Enjoying the snow we've had in DC. Definitely contributing to that cozy hibernating feeling and giving me some extra time to make and write stuff. Hoping we get a few more snow days and late openings in March.

Trying to implement the ideas in this post on the Sunday home. Since work and life are pretty quiet at the moment, it's the perfect time to put good systems in place for when things get crazy again. Having clean laundry and a plan for lunches and dinners during the week makes such a difference to feeling like my life is under control, and it just takes a bit of "don't be lazy" fairy dust to make it happen.

Drinking Virginia wine. Austin and I took a quick trip to Virginia on Presidents' Day weekend to drink wine and enjoy a southern change of scenery. We spent Friday night in Charlottesville, visited wineries all day Saturday, then drove to Richmond for Valentine's dinner and a night at a stranger's beautiful apartment (via airbnb). Despite the last-minute planning, everything worked out perfectly and we had a fantastic time.

Remembering how refreshing it is to get out of the city, and how invigorating it is to travel, however near or far. It's always worth the extra effort. And it's making me daydream about future travels, maybe a bit further afield.

Learning to letterpress. For Christmas, Austin gave me a spot in a letterpress workshop at Typecase Industries here in DC, something I have wanted to do for a while now. I fell completely in love with letterpress (and it didn't hurt the boyfriend's standing either). I knew letterpress was an art but I didn't realize just how much. I love the craftsmanship that goes into designing prints and operating the press. For a few minutes on that snowy Saturday, I was convinced I should quit my job and go to printing school. Pretty sure that's not actually my new life plan but I'd love to find a way to spend more time at the press.

Watching House of Cards, like everyone else in DC. I am not a very accomplished binge-watcher though so I'm only two episodes in.

Figuring out how to handle this space. I have fallen so in love with art journaling lately that the balance has tipped away from writing, which is what I set out to do. Trying to figure out the right balance of crafting and writing, and how to be consistent without losing spontaneity or going full-on "editorial calendar" this early in the life of my blog. It's all a work in progress. So thank you for coming along for the ride!

Thursday, March 5, 2015


In an effort to dejunk my inbox, I recently unsubscribed from a bunch of email lists. But I will never let go of Anthropologie's. Both because I cannot afford their clothing at non-sale prices and because their marketing is so visually appealing. In clicking around the other day, I discovered Anthropologie's store locator feature. Handy for locating a store but even better because there's a photograph of each storefront, and they are fantastic this season. I spent more time than I care to admit putting in new zip codes just to see all the amazing designs - it's so cool how they each interpret the same concept and some of the same materials in different ways. I will for sure be drawing inspiration from these for my art journaling and card making. And then checking back next season for a fresh dose of color.

When I buy clothing, it's often less because I need a new skirt than because I love the color and pattern and want to hold onto it. Here's hoping that incorporating that inspiration into my work will scratch the same itch - a lot less expensively. At least until my paper purchases exceed my clothes shopping.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The daily card, week 7: Lilly Pulitzer edition

Lots of pink and green this week- which will never not remind me of the Lilly Pulitzer patterns I coveted as a teenager. The theme was unintentional but I'm liking the look (and apparently craving spring). I'm also enjoying using leftover paper scraps from my art journaling projects on the cards- I don't know if it's a lazy shortcut, an urge to conserve, or creative genius. :)

The heart card looks a bit more emo than I intended, but I like it. After unsuccessfully flipping through a couple magazines looking for a heart picture, I decided to draw my own based on a line drawing I found on the Internet. It made me think that I'd like to incorporate some more drawing practice into this year-long creative challenge. Making a card every day is definitely getting the creative juices flowing, but I don't know that it's improving my technical prowess, so it would be fun to bring that in. It is so cool to see the drawing progress that Crystal Moody made over the course of her original #yearofcreativehabits.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Get Messy: Love Notes

This started as a love note to my boyfriend and turned into a love note to my mom. The journaling says it all:

In the past couple years, I've gotten into the habit of hiding a note for Austin somewhere in the house – in the fridge or in a drawer – before I leave on a trip, or in his suitcase when he's the one traveling. And he does the same. Sometimes they're beautiful letterpress cards but more often they're post-its with a stamp. I love that I can remind him I’m thinking of him when one of us is away. It's one of my favorite traditions – and I just realized I get it from my mom. When I was a kid, she would leave us little notes and gifts in our bags to discover when we went away, like on a camping trip with my dad. Pretty cool that I learned to express love in some of the same ways she does.

A few years ago, I remember one of my aunts saying that my grandmother had taught her how to love. I was so touched by that and I had it in the back of my mind while working on this. And it's true, isn't it, that our parents pass on their own love languages to us.

As you can probably imagine, this was so easy to pull together and I love the modern, graphic look. (Alternate title for this post was "not your mother's art journaling.") I thought of hiding a secret note to my boyfriend under the post-its but jettisoned that when I switched gears with the journaling. All of the stamps are from Elise Joy (currently available as digital downloads from her shop) except for one (I think you can figure out which) from Lydia & Pugs.