Today: Get Messy Art Journal | Brave, Weeks 4-6

Two posts in one day!  It’s a miracle. I’m making up for the fact I’ve been MIA.  Time for another peek at my art journal!

Get Messy Art Journal | Brave, Weeks 4-6

Materials used: Embroidery floss and a giant, unsafe needle; Golden liquid acrylic and high flow acrylic paint; Blick liquid watercolors; Crayola crayons; Sakura watercolors sketchbox; black paper; Sakura white gel pen; salt water in a little spritzer bottle thing; washi tape

So this set of pages is basically a mess.  Which is fitting, this being Get Messy and all.  It took a while to let each layer dry, so it was sort of an exercise in patience (specifically, in Nick being patient with me leaving all this art crap all over our condo, all in the name of “building layers”).

I think I’ve shared this before, but I am weirdly in love with my own handwriting.  Not normal.  And not at all humble.  But true.  The quote is from composer Mohammed Fairouz’s recent interview with Krista Tippett on (my favorite podcast of all time) On Being.  You can read or listen to the full episode here, but the text I include comes from this exchange:

MS. TIPPETT: I read somewhere that you were — you began composing music at a very early age. And I read somewhere that you were setting the poetry of Oscar Wilde to music at the age of 7. Is that right? I…

MR. FAIROUZ: Yeah. It’s a song on a poem by Oscar Wilde that is called “The True Knowledge.” And it’s a beautiful poem. I took a stab at it when I was 7. And I have to admit, I didn’t understand the poem at all. But I gave another go at sort of trying to revive it. I revisited it in, I think, 2002 or something as an early piece and tried to fix it. And I’ve since stopped doing that because I realized that as a composer, we leave very important traces of who we are spiritually in the pieces that we compose. And so it’s actually best not to tamper with who you were ten years ago to be who you are today. Accept and perhaps even try to love who you were ten years ago. And be kind to yourself. But also look forward to who you want to be in a year.

Beautiful, right?  Every episode is this good.  I often listen on my commute to work, and have been forgoing safety and wearing headphones (always be aware of your surroundings, people!) between the parking lot and my office, so as to not have to stop listening.   

Materials used: Tissue paper; black gesso; Instax photo; Faber Castel Pitt pens; magazine clipping; scrap from one of Grace’s daily day care reports; label maker

For this spread, I incorporated the shapes and household objects (tissue paper, aluminum foil) prompts from Get Messy.  I used aluminum foil to apply black gesso… but it didn’t pan out very well, so I ended up going back over it with a palette knife.  With so much changing (and so soon), I wanted to capture a bit of daily life in these pages.  We’ve been having so many fun adventures now that the weather has improved, including a recent walk around Houghton’s Pond.  The scrap is a note from one of Grace’s teachers and includes details from her day.

It feels scattered, but that’s the kind of week I was having.

Materials used: Black gesso; white gelly pen; Sharpie white acrylic paint marker; card stock letters; liquid acrylic paint; detail brush; palette knife

Per usual, I saved my favorite pages for last.  This spread was the result of several happy accidents.  I’ve been reading a lot of Hafez lately and this poem was floating around in my brain, so when a blob of black gesso smudged from one page to the next, I immediately saw a bird.  And I got to work adding feet and feathers.  

The letters were originally all on the same page, but kept falling off… that’s how I realized the reverse side would look sort of cool on the opposite page.  Plus, YO + BIRD = Kind of fun as a stand alone page.  Here’s to happy accidents.  And birds. Or whatever.

To see more of my art journal: Love Weeks 1 + 2, Love Weeks 3 + 4, Love Weeks 5 + 6, Get Messy blog hop, Brave Weeks 1-3

Also On Tap for Today:

Are you a podcast fan?  What are you listening to lately?

Today: What a difference a year makes.

Oops.  This post is longer than anticipated. 

This time last year, I was wearing a very unattractive, very orthopedic boot thing, having tripped over Grace’s bouncy chair and subsequently broken a toe… just an hour and a half before my family showed up for Mother’s Day brunch at our condo. (Also: My parents were trapped at an airport somewhere, so the guest of honor wasn’t there to be showered with praise and gifts and affection… and to listen to me moan about my toe.)

Ready to party. Or something.

In addition to being temporarily physically crippled, I can’t say I was in the best shape mentally, or whatever, either.  I had been back at work (after a not-so-work-free maternity leave) for a few weeks, was getting up to nurse Grace every couple of hours, couldn’t find anything that fit (nor that matched the boot), and sort of had no idea what I was doing at any given moment.  Having people over to a mostly-clean home, serving mostly-edible food, and not having an entirely unexpected crying episode provoked by a diaper ad, or a cheesy song, or a faint, passing breeze felt like a major, major accomplishment.  

This time last year, I was second-guessing every decision I made, and agonizing over the longterm effects those decisions would have on Grace.  Was she eating too little?  Was she eating too much?  You’ll notice I wasn’t asking myself if she was sleeping too much, because… well… neither of us were sleeping.

I worried I was falling down (no pun intended… but sort of yes, pun intended because I really still can’t believe I tripped over that darn chair) as a wife.  I had no idea how I would manage my work responsibilities and my family responsibilities.  And how, on God’s green earth, was I ever going to get all the laundry done?  Would my body always feel so foreign (and lumpy)?  What would my first work trip away from Grace be like (Fortunately, I didn’t have the capacity at the time to imagine myself using a breast pump in a bathroom stall at the Detroit airport… but now I do.  And you do, too.  Sorry.)?  Would I ever see my friends again (this would likely require staying up past 7 PM)?  Would I ever have anything to talk about besides diaper pails?  Would every single drop-off at daycare feel so heartbreaking?  

It’s taken some time (and I don’t think my toe will ever be the same), but my goodness… What a difference a year makes.  I’m not perfect (you should see what I’m wearing) and life’s not perfect, but so much has changed for the better.  It’s amazing what a little time and confidence (and SLEEP!) can do.

Last weekend I had the chance to celebrate Mother’s Day with my parents and family on Saturday, and with Nick, Grace and Clark on Sunday.  And I felt calm.  And relaxed.  And happy.  And grateful.  And I couldn’t help but notice that life is sort of following the seasons this time around.  Not only is it actually (finally!) Spring, but I’m in the middle of my own transition of sorts.  And it’s full of (I almost said “blooming with”… but I stopped myself) promise and excitement and optimism and a “who knows what might happen?” sort of thing.

At the end of this week (though it’s been in the works for months… aren’t I a good secret keeper? Tell me everything!), I’ll be stepping down from my role at an organization I’ve been with for eight years to be home with Grace.  

I sort of always thought I would work (in the capacity I’ve been used to working, like, in an office).  And I am realizing now, as I make this transition, how much of my ego and self-worth have been tangled up in being busy.  And important.  And in charge.  I’ve also come to see, though, how much of my last eleven or so years have been spent moving from one mini-crisis to the next,  closing out the day with just barely enough energy to be a semi-normal, non-awful person. The good has far outweighed the bad (truly), though, I have loved my work.  I have loved the people I have worked with.  I have loved the people I’ve had the privilege of serving.  I have loved the challenges and the lessons and the surprises.

I know there will be pieces of all this that are not easy, but I also know how lucky I am to have options.  It took a lot of confidence and courage to make this choice, but I wouldn’t be able to make the choice if I didn’t have options.  I know this is not always the case.  Meanwhile, that new boss of mine?  She’s pretty cute.

Also On Tap for Today:

Looking back, what has changed most for you this year?

Today: Snacks for lunch.

My favorite meals are snacks.  A little of this, a little of that.  While I’ll (almost) never say no to chocolate, I tend to prefer salty over sweet.  

Check out Clark’s sweet new handbag.


I was finishing up my grocery shopping a few months ago when I spotted Pearls Olives to Go on the shelf.  I love green olives, and thought these little cups would be the perfect salty addition to workday lunches.  The mess-free, single-serve cups are easy to open and don’t contain any liquid, making them perfect for snacking on the go.  

Just a couple days later, my friends at Sweat Pink/Fit Approach reached out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the product.  I had already whipped through the first package I bought, so saying ‘yes’ was a no-brainer.  Pearls Olives to Go are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, cholesterol-free, vegan and contain no trans-fats or GMOs.  Most importantly (kind of): they’re really, really good.

Snacks for Lunch

I’ve been pairing a cup of Olives to Go with some of my other favorite lunchtime snacks to round out the meal.  A few standbys:

  • Almonds, plain or flavored (Current obsession: Blue Diamond Honey Dijon)
  • Berries
  • KIND bars
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Simple Caprese salad
  • Cheese (duh)
  • Hummus
  • Cut vegetables: peppers, carrots, cucumbers and snap peas
  • Baked or roasted sweet potatoes

For those of you in Boston, you’ll find a coupon for Pearls Olives to Go in the Globe, Herald and other area newspapers on Sunday, May 3rd.  Pearls Olives to Go can be purchased locally at Shaws and Demoulas/Market Basket, and at many nationwide retailers including Target.

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I received product and compensation for this post.  Thoughts, opinions and snackiness are all my own.  As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to partner with brands I love.  And I appreciate your continued support.  For real.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you pack your lunch or eat out?  What are your lunchtime standbys?

Today: Get Messy Art Journal | Brave, Weeks 1-3

I wish I could say I’ve been busy doing super cool things, but mostly I’ve been either at the office or the dentist or reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to a very hungry fifteen-month-old.  I’ve neglected the Internet, my weekly manicure ritual, and routine art making.  Can’t win ’em all.  

Get Messy Art Journal | Brave, Weeks 1-3

I finally carved out a little time last night to finish up my art journal pages for the first three weeks of the Get Messy Art Journal program’s new Brave season.  While the topic itself is plenty inspiring, I couldn’t get out of my own way.  When we were challenged to make a zine, I reached out to the group for ideas on how to get started (and got plenty!), but I just couldn’t get past the feeling that this one just wasn’t for me.  

I eventually yielded to the ol’ “nothing ventured, nothing gained” thing and made something more akin to a booklet (Is it okay that I just hate the word zine?  I hate the word blog, too.  And when people can San Francisco “San Fran,” I get unreasonably annoyed.).  I tried to experiment with different materials, techniques and styles on each page.  I don’t love it, but I think it was still worth a go.  I’m tempted to photocopy it in black and white (to eliminate some of the here/there/everywhere-ness that’s bugging me) and see if that helps.  Plus, I want to see what sequins looks like when it’s photocopied.  Obviously.

Bubble prints made with soap and tempera paint (I will share a step-by-step soon — it’s so much fun), a magazine clipping of an open window, a bit of washi and a watercolored c.s. lewis quote.

I am much happier with how these other pages turned out.  I’ve enjoyed mixing it up a bit with both materials and techniques and have already come a long way in forgoing perfection.  Things really have gotten messy.  (And I’m not just talking about the floor under Grace’s high chair.)


Grey and blue acrylic paint applied with all kinds of things (q-tips, an empty TP roll, large bubble wrap and a piece of corrugated cardboard), giant black card stock letters (you know I love when crap spills off the page), hot pink and black ink, a photo of Grace with some washi tape, and a magazine clipping of flowers

I’m still sorting out my personal aesthetic, but I tend to gravitate toward more white space than less.  This was sort of the opposite of that.  Lots of layers.  Covered with more layers. 

Left side: Laminated pages from Combray (from my college days), complete with my notes in French in the margins, vinyl mailbox letters from the hardware store; Right side: clear jewel stamps from Studio Calico, black archival ink, watercolors

These were my favorites of the past few weeks.  The left hand page felt really personal, without being revealing.  I like to keep a bit of mystery around here (quoth the lady talking about the mess under her child’s highchair).  When I think about being brave, those first few years of college are front and center.   Without getting too particular, or too depressing, I will just say that I am proud of myself and the courage I showed.  

Also, I’m glad I hung onto some of my textbooks and novels.  Most are in French, and the rest are about art.  I was much more interesting as a younger person.  Semi-related: I still regret selling back both my volumes of Jansen’s History of Art (although I remember feeling especially rich once I did) at the end of my senior year.  If you’re in school and you’re reading this: keep those books.  Be brave.  And don’t do drugs.

To see more of my art journal: Love Weeks 1 + 2, Love Weeks 3 + 4, Love Weeks 5 + 6, Get Messy blog hop

Also On Tap for Today:

Who is your bravest friend?

Today: Currently | April 2015

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.





  • 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.  


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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



  • 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?