Today: Currently.

We had such a lovely Easter with our families this weekend.  Grace was in her glory, snuggling up with her grandparents, aunts and uncles and following her cousin where ever she went.  I didn’t take many photos (I had my hands full of candy), so I thought I’d share a bit of what’s On Tap currently, instead.

pansy

Currently

Reading

Watching

  • This weekend we watched Mile… Mile and a Half from the Muir Project, which follows a group of artists hiking the John Muir Trail in California.  It’s available on Netflix and is worth a watch for the breathtaking scenery alone.  

Listening

  • Every, single episode of On Being with Krista Tippett (this week’s interview with Greg Boyle, S.J. had me crying at the hair salon while my color processed… but in a good way) and my girl Kristi’s new podcast, Soul Chat
  • We are taking a music and movement class on Saturday mornings in the South End and received a CD of all the songs at the first class.  When Grace and I are in the car together (and I am terrified to listen to the radio now that she’s in a repeat everything phase), we usually listen to Raffi… but every once in a while you need to give the ol’ guy a rest.  Our current jam is a song about a dog finding a cell phone on the way home from the dog park. (The second I drop her off at daycare, however, it’s back to sports radio or Morning Edition.)
  • Also…  My current position is that Taylor Swift can do no wrong.  I reserve the right to change my mind, but for the time being: can’t stop, won’t stop.

Making

  • 100 days of something.  I signed up for #The100DayProject (which starts today) and plan to roll that into the new season of the Get Messy Art Journal challenge (the new theme is brave).  You can follow along on Instagram to see what I make each day.  Many of my projects will likely be drawings or paintings or letters, but I am planning to count carefully crafted, non-Cheez-It meals as an accomplishment as well.
  • I picked up a new frame and some acrylic paint to make a memo board (similar to the one I made for Grace’s room) for our kitchen.  I am hoping it will help me remember important things like renewing Clark’s dog license, or upcoming appointments, or like… wearing pants.

Feeling

  • Hopeful that spring is actually here
  • Excited for the Tone it Up Bikini Series (sign up and get more info here)
  • A little anxious and a little overwhelmed (it’s that time of year in the office) but also very grateful for what’s to come

Wearing

Craving

  • A salad as big as my car 
  • Organized closets and cabinets and drawers 
  • “Cool Mom Jeans” (I’ll know ’em when I see ’em)
  • A beach day
  • Caffeine and/or a nap (what else is new?)

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you currently reading? I’d love your recommendations!

Today: Spring spruce-up.

I’ve been putting off spring cleaning (and Lord, do those closets need to be addressed) for weeks, but now that it’s finally warm enough to open the windows and let some fresh air in, I’m running out of excuses.  It’s time to step away from the spring cleaning Pinterest boards and actually, well… do some cleaning.

Unless, of course… I come up with some other way to procrastinate.  The lovely folks at Minted reached out at the perfect time with the opportunity to do a little window wall art shopping.  I’ve ordered all kinds of holiday cards and invitations from Minted, but hadn’t ordered any prints or photos from them before.  

After a few minutes, it became clear I could spend hours scrolling through their art section.  And maybe I did.  Instead of washing windows.  

Spring Spruce-up with Minted

gallery wall

We’ve been adding to this little collection of photos and prints here and there, and I’m excited to add a few new pieces this spring.  Minted offered me a credit to my account to do a little shopping and sprucing up, in exchange for sharing some of my favorite items here.  

I’m eyeing the constellation and birthstone prints for Grace’s room.  I like that they’re personal, without being childish.  So many of their art prints would make lovely gifts for spring birthdays, weddings and showers.  Oh, and Mother’s Day (hint, hint). 

Alright.  Time to clean.  Just kidding… it’s time to decorate Easter eggs.  And then make up 900 other things to do when I’m done.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your spring to-do list?

Today: Down on Drumlin Farm.

Grace and I have been trading colds for what seems like months.  After a rough night (and more snow), we really needed some fresh air.  It’s good for the body and it’s good for the cranky, wintered over soul.  

Couldn’t help myself.

After breakfast and Irish music in the neighborhood, we drove out to Lincoln (about 30 minutes from the city) with our Audubon member cards in hand to see the baby (and, like, grown up) animals at Drumlin Farm.  Our first stop was the Yellow Barn to see the tiny black lambs before eventually making our way to the baby goals kids.

A real, live pile of kids.

The sun was shining, the chickens were clucking, and the lambs were climbing in and out of the hay bin (I respect any creature that passionate about snacks).  It was the perfect day and the perfect way to start breaking out of my winter rut.  It’s a deep one.  (Speaking of which, I am working on a rut-busting plan.  More on that later.)

Pig tails…

This does not answer the chicken or the egg question… but I like it nevertheless.

This makes me so hopeful for spring.

Added bonus: We got to see nearly every character from our favorite bedtime story, The Very Busy Spider, on the farm today.

Also On Tap for Today:

Let’s talk spring.  What adventures do you have planned?

Today: Get Messy Art Journal | Blog Hop

The first season of the Get Messy Art Journal program is wrapping up, so I’ve been catching up on missed prompts and pages before the next season starts.  

I love all the mess um… character my sketch book has developed over the past six weeks.

Recent Get Messy posts:

New pages

This week there are no new prompts to tackle, so I’m sharing a few pages (as well as some previously shared favorites) I worked on lately while playing catch up, as well as links to fellow Get Messy members’ pages for added inspiration.

Materials used: Black tempera paint, pink washi tape, a magazine clipping, watercolors and a nearly dead Sharpie.

This was my take on the 5 Love Languages prompt.  I had never heard of this before, but after taking the quiz, it seems I am all about words.  And I hate gifts (bahshashdhahdha).  I picked up a set of Crayola tempera paint for another project (bubble painting!) and couldn’t resist throwing a bit of black down on these pages.  I tried to follow this tutorial for plastic bag printmaking from Alisa Burke… but halfway through Grace dropped an entire bowl of peas on Clark’s head.  So.  That didn’t really pan out.  Nevertheless, I like how those inky smudges turned out.

Oh, and I had by sketchbook upside down when I was working on these pages.  By accident.  Not in some irreverent, artsy way.  Can’t win ’em all.

That semi-go-with-the-flow-ness?  That’s new.  And it’s good.  It’s probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned during this first season — that creating something is better than creating nothing.  And that perfectionism can be a real barrier to art making.  And, like… life in general.

Materials used:  Red paint pen from Blick (a freebie during one of their sales), bubble wrap with black and pink ink, white gesso (which got all mixed up with the black ink when I dragged it across the page with some cardboard), washi tape,  pre-cut watercolor paper, black ink spray, black Micron, magazine clippings and… even more pink ink.

Clearly, I was on a pink kick.  I really like the ink splatter on the right hand side (I used a straw the expedite the splattering/dripping process) and had fun experimenting with layers and starting with pre-made (by myself, like a day or two before) backgrounds.

Materials used: Strips of scrapbook paper from a Studio Calico kit, grey watercolor and and a grey sign pen, yellow and gold watercolors and a set of alphabet stamps from the Target Dollar Spot (that special, special place), and half a random envelope.

I love secret hiding places (in our future home, there will be a secret door covered with a old timey looking bookshelf) and tucked little love notes to Nick and Grace in the envelope.  This has been a year of soul searching and prioritizing and making tough but good decisions.

I’m still working on finding a balance between crap everywhere and sufficient white space.  I think it’s the claustrophobic in me, but I crave lots of white space… but I also crave an end product that looks like I actually made an effort.

Materials used: Faber Castel Pitt pen, blue watercolors with a waterbrush, magazine clippings… AND LAMINATED GLITTER (can’t stop, won’t stop).

This is my favorite of the four pages.  And not just because of the glitter.  But that helps. I’ve had that quote kicking around for ages (it’s from an old issue of Yoga Journal, I think), but this page felt like the perfect place for it to land.  On the surface, it’s kind of depressing… but I think it’s also really empowering.  When you find your place, you know.  Stick with it, my friends.  Anyway, the quote is:

Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely.  And we must pay attention.  We must act.  This little corner of the world is ours to transform.  This little corner of the world is ours to save.

–Stephen Cope, from The Great Work of Your Life

While the subject matter this week isn’t exactly light and fluffy, I’ve been all about playing.  Playing with new materials, playing with new techniques, and playing with new messes all over our condo.

A few favorites from the Get Messy Art Journal Season of Love

But wait… there’s more…

Get Messy Art Journal | Blog Hop

I’ve loved learning new techniques and really appreciated the motivation that comes with weekly prompts.  Best of all, though, is the community of members.  My favorite thing to do lately is scroll through all the #getmessyartjournal Instagram posts and swoon over what everyone else is creating.  

For more Get Messy Art Journal pages and all kinds of inspiration…. hop on over to the following blogs:

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Making a spring bucket list… and a spring cleaning list
  • Yes, please: Key lime pie on a stick from The Kitchn
  • My bracket is official busted 

What’s on your must list for your amazing, imaginary dream home?  

Today: Get Messy Art Journal | Weeks 5 + 6

Weeks 1 + 2 were all gold and glittery.  Weeks 3 + 4 were all dark and brooding.  Weeks 5 + 6 are… well… all over the place.  I only worked on (and I feel like all three are sort of unfinished) three pages, but so far… so good-ish.

Get Messy Art Journal | Weeks 5 + 6

The left side is a page from last week peeking through, plus a little laminated bookmark (ribbon and magazine clippings).  I quickly sketched the birds with a Micron pen and then went back in with watercolors.

The other morning I noticed that our little neighborhood city birds are back, chirping at the crack of dawn.  Maybe that’s what got me doodling birds all week.  That blue bird, in particular, keeps showing up in my sketchbook.  Once I finished up with them, I started thinking… what the heck do birds have to do with love?  Clearly this was a case of working outside the boundaries of the weekly prompts.  Anyway, I was thinking about how these little guys come and go, and somehow that lead to thinking about bizarre bird-related phrases like flying the coop and empty nesters.  

Last fall, I saw a mother dropping her daughter off at college.  They were both crying.  And then I closed the door to my office (which is near several campuses) and cried because I don’t want Grace to ever leave.  But I also think she might turn into a weirdo if I try and home-college her (that’s like home-schooling a 20-year-old).  Anyway… birds, man.

Oh, and I realize seagulls don’t belong in trees.  

The succulents and cacti are watercolor with detail in Pitt pen.  The letters are left over from a display board I made for work (which, frankly, looked very third grade).

Is it me, or are succulents the new pineapples?  

One of the prompts this week was to create a dating profile for yourself.  I had trouble suspending reality (and what happily married person would want to), so I started thinking instead about what it must take to love me– all the wonderful things, and all the things that are less than wonderful.

I can be prickly.

I gesso’d the left side page and added some magazine clippings and a wash of purple watercolor before writing down a little Khalil Gibran.  I broke out the laminating pouches (obsessed) to seal in a tiny bouquet of lavender.  I sketched a little sprig to go with it.

The last page I worked on incorporates two prompts — a quote from a favorite author and dried flowers.  I wanted to press some flowers, but ran out of time so I cheated and picked up some dried lavender at Whole Foods.  It smells divine.  This page reminds me of sort of a grown-up version of those scratch and sniff books.

Yep.  All over the place.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your most lovable quality?

Today: My morning reading list.

If it’s morning and you’re in bed, and you’re reading this on your phone… thank you. I always appreciate your being here. But please, put the phone down.  Let’s meet back here in a few hours.

One of my worst habits?  Letting other people decide what I am going to think about in the morning.  And by other people, I mean my phone.  If you’re looking to get up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed, grab your phone as soon as you wake up and get flooded by such things as:

  • Tweets about chemicals in your favorite foods
  • An Instagram post informing you that the Frenchie you insta-stalk died of a mysterious illness (True Life: This is why I don’t follow random dogs anymore.  At least 5 dogs I followed have died in the last year.  Which is both weird and sad.  Also, I am convinced I cursed them all.)
  • Emails from your boss sent at 11:44 PM, 2:06 AM, and 4:18 AM
  • Facebook pictures of your friend’s cousin’s college roommate’s ultrasound
  • “Breaking news!” about Taylor Swift’s most recent break-up
  • Actual news about any of the upsetting things going on in our world
  • Weather reports about 900 feet of snow

It’s a tough habit to break (tougher than Diet Coke, I think… still working on that one… again), but if you can hold off on the Insties and Twitters for even a few minutes — just enough time to choose what you first consume — it can work wonders.  It can set your day on a happier, calmer, more inspired course.  I was going to type, “It will change your life!” (and I kind of believe that), but I don’t have proof.  So let’s just stick with this: Choosing what you read in the morning can have a really wonderful affect on your day.

You might already have something in mind.  A mantra, a prayer, a favorite quote, or line from a movie.  It doesn’t have to be complicated (and given that this is likely pre-coffee, perhaps it shouldn’t be complicated).  I keep a few scraps of paper in my bathroom cabinet and in a notebook in my dresser drawers– my favorite things to read are right there when I wake up, ready to keep me from the glow of my iPhone.

Looking for somewhere to start tomorrow morning?  Here are a few of my favorites.  You’ll find the full text by clicking each title.  Oh, and feel free to print any of the images and stick them to your mirror.

My morning reading list

Mary Oliver’s Five A.M. In the Pinewoods: I love everything Mary Oliver has written.  This poem, in particular, feels very meditative to me.  

A Precious Human Life, His Holiness the Dalai Lama: I’ve read this one so many times, I know it by heart (I love that expression).  It is such a beautiful way to start the day — mindful, kind and well-intentioned.

Dr. King’s “Life’s Blueprint” speech: Last spring, I heard this speech recited by a group of eighth grade students in Washington, D.C.  It was their middle school graduation ceremony and each student had memorized a few lines of the speech.  While I’d read it before, I felt like I was hearing certain parts for the first time.  It was moving and beautiful.  By the time they got to “I would say to you, don’t drop out of school,” I was crying.  The speech ends like this: “Be the best of whatever you are.”  Yes.

The Guest House by Rumi: You have to read the full poem.  It’s a perfect reminder in the morning (and in the afternoon and the evening) that we may not be able to control what or who comes into our lives, but we can choose our response and attitudes.

Okay.  It’s safe to pick up your phone again.

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you start your days?

Today: Triple vanilla chai latte.

Drive-thrus are dangerous places.  

A few years ago, I swore off coffee. Or rather, I tried to swear off coffee, but the siren’s donut’s call lured me back.  One morning, I planned to go directly to the office, but decided to sneak a coffee for my commute instead.

Just as soon as I had an iced coffee in hand,  I pulled forward, hit a pole alongside the drive-thru window and knocked my side view mirror clear off.  No one was hurt, but needless to say, I was– and still am– mortified.  Also, why am I telling you this story?

I panicked and called Nick, who was still at home and met me in the driveway a few minutes later.  I didn’t have time to hide my coffee.  My shame kept me away from the drive-thru for quite some time.  

If you’re avoiding the drive-thru (no need to share your reasons… unless you want to…), I’ve got the recipe for you. This triple vanilla chai latte is so good (and easy to make!), you won’t miss your usual morning cup.

Triple vanilla Almond Breeze chai latte

Triple Vanilla Chai Latte

Dairy free, serves one

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 scoop of David’s Tea organic vanilla chai (you can use your favorite loose or bagged chai tea)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp organic pure maple syrup (feel free to replace with your preferred sweetener)
  • 1 dash each of ground cinnamon and ground cloves

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pan, heat water and almondmilk until simmering.  Stir often.
  2. Add your tea (if you’re using a tea bag, open the bag and pour the tea leaves directly into the pan) and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Continue to stir.
  3. Remove pan from heat, add vanilla extract, maple syrup and spices.  Let the pan sit for another 5 minutes.
  4. Pour latte through a tea strainer to remove tea leaves.
  5. Serve hot or over ice (my favorite).
  6. Do not hit anything with your car.

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your current vice?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram 32.

For the first time since living in South Boston, we didn’t head out to watch the parade.  Instead, I was being that mom at the pediatrician’s office.  We got a contagious illness report from daycare this week (the dreaded conjunctivitis is going around), so when Grace started rubbing her eyes, I started becoming a nutcase.  A word of advice: Don’t Google “pink eye” at three in the morning.

The nurse I spoke with this morning encouraged us to come in today, just in case.  By the time 2 o’clock rolled around, I started to wonder if it was more likely Grace had accidentally squirted yogurt into her own eye, or that part of her bagel got in there or something.  Needless to say: no conjunctivitis.  I love our pediatrician, though (and the fact that they’ll see us on Sundays).  We had no trouble getting out of Southie, but heading back in during the parade proved to be a bit more challenging.  

One of the (presumably many) upsides to not being infected and being out and about?  We had a little impromptu visit with my sister and brother-in-law during which Grace tried to eat a crayon and I learned that Selection Saturday is actually Selection Sunday.  And I wonder why people don’t invite me to join their March Madness pools.

Oh but before I say anything else, sorry for talking about pink eye.  I promise we did non-gross things this weekend too.  Like the things pictured below.

The Weekend According to Instagram 32

  1. First things first:  The snow is melting… AND THINGS ARE GROWING.  I spotted these little sprouts alongside our driveway on Sunday afternoon and literally shrieked in delight.  I immediately emailed a photo to my husband and our neighbors.  And I’m now taking bets on who thinks I’m crazier, our neighbors or Grace’s pediatrician.  This weekend was great for my personal brand.  Whatever that means.
  2. Our neighborhood is ready for St. Patrick’s Day.  I don’t want to live any where else.  Most of the time.  
  3. A little weekend doodling.  Watercolor + pen + birds.
  4. I am obsessed with the artwork on these seed packets from the Hudson Valley Seed Library.  I am kicking myself for not buying their calendar at the Flower Show.
  5. Aaaand another photo from this year’s Boston Flower and Garden Show.  Nick and I always talk about living in a tiny house one day, and I think I found the one this weekend.  Technically, I think this is more of a garden shed, but I am pretty sure there’s room for Grace and Clark’s imaginary bunkbeds. And if I take after my maternal grandfather at all (which I hope I do), I’m only going to get shorter so…. I think it will work.   
  6. After the Flower Show, we ducked out of the rain and grabbed tacos across the street at Rosa Mexicana.  Aren’t my lunch dates adorable?
  7. I started Saturday morning with a big cup of organic peppermint amour and some to do list-ing.  Of the 900 things on the list for the weekend, I think I accomplished 3.  One of those things was “make a to do list.”  Can’t win ’em all.
  8. A peek at my art journal (you’ll find more pages here and here).
  9. Did anyone else read Richard Scarry books as a kid?  They were a family favorite of ours.  I ordered a copy of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever for Grace and seriously… it’s the best word book ever.  Not surprisingly, her favorite page is the one where the bear gets dressed.  She is all about her shoes these days.

Also On Tap for Today:

How was your Selection Sunday weekend?