Today: Get Messy Art Journal | Magic, Week 2

With Thanksgiving this week, I didn’t get much done in the way of creating (except for a plate of onion tartlets — super easy, super lazy recipe coming at you tomorrow morning) until last night.  For the second week of Get Messy Art Journal‘s magic theme, I went semi-dark.

Once I broke out the paint and brush pens, I was on a roll.  I like when that happens.  Unfortunately… it rarely happens.  

Get Messy Art Journal | Magic, Week 2

get messy art journal magic week 2

Materials used: Sakura Koi watercolors and brush pens, Micron pens (black 1, 01 and 03), clear alphabet stamps 

I’m especially happy with the way the crystal ball turned out.  The purple sort of reminds me of a Magic 8 ball.  I wish I had one of those kicking around these days — mostly because I’d like something to tell me definitively when this baby plans to arrive and give me permission to eat another bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream and help me decide between black yoga pants or black leggings.

I’ve always found magicians and that sort of magic to be creepy and my one encounter with a supposed psychic was really bizarre (she thought I was a flight attendant, but knew my grandfather’s name)– but I do think what we believe is our reality.  And that extends beyond card tricks and ladies being sawed in half.  

If we believe in myths or rumors or love stories, they’re as good as real.  That kind of power is magic when it’s positive.  We should believe more good things about ourselves.

get messy art journal magic week 2

Materials used: Clear alphabet stamps, Sakura Koi brush pens and Pigma brush pens, Sakura Gelly Roll pens (white and gold), Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers, magazine cut outs, paper scraps (for the crowns), Elmers glue stick (no need to be fancy)

True Life: I made this while watching a dog show on television.  On a Friday night.  The glamour of my life abounds.  Also, a Frenchie won the non-sporting group (whatever that means) and the little thing was so cute that my out-of-control hormones almost tricked me into reserving a bulldog brother for Clark online… but fortunately (for everyone), my hands were too busy with the cutting and pasting and doodling and stamping. 

get messy art journal magic week 2

Materials used: Magazine cut-outs, Sakura Pigma brush pens (BB and FB), clear alphabet stamps, Golden fluid acrylic paint (Pyrrole Red), glue stick

This one is more fairy tale than magic, but I’m guessing a wolf would need some sort of magical power to talk, right?  And, then like, eat a Grandma and then dress up like her?  Regardless, most fairy tales are dark, dark, dark… and terrifying. 

The trees outside our house have lost all their leaves, so used them as a guide when sketching the background.  I think they turned out sufficiently creepy.  Oh, and red is usually not my thing… but maybe it should be.

Also On Tap for Today:

What did you make this week?

Today: Happy Thanksgiving.

This quote has always been one of my favorites (and you know how I feel about doodling in white on black paper and, like, cutting stuff out when I should be doing other things).

Gratitude really does unlock the fullness of life.  I’m grateful for a day like Thanksgiving to spend reflecting on all that is good in this life.  I have so much to be thankful for, and in an ever challenging world, never has this been more apparent.

I have the love of family and friends, good health and good heath care, a peaceful and safe home, plenty of food to eat and clothes to wear, an education and all kinds of things to keep me occupied and interested, a stash of watercolor paints, and a generally secure life.  What I have is enough, and more.

I’m thankful to each of you, and wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving?

Today: Revisiting the pre-baby to-do list.

A little while back, I shared my pre-baby to-do list.  Since then, I accomplished most items and added about seventy more.  We’re currently in “Is he coming today?” mode, to the point that I can convince myself just about anything– from an eyelid twitch to a foot cramp– is a sign of impending labor.  

I’m a reaaaaaaal joy to be around.

In addition to being mental, though, I’ve also been productive.  Most importantly, I’ve been enjoying as much quality time as possible with my little lady.  We’ve taken quite a few adventures lately, and I’m soaking up every second alone with her.  (Cue the preggo weepiness.)

And then there are the practical things that have to get done.

Revisiting the pre-baby to-do list:

  • Go through Grace’s old clothes and pull out, re-wash and put away anything that is neither extra hot pink nor extra ruffly.  (At the very least, I think there are a few sets of gender neutral pajamas in there.)  The rest will go back to storage for a future niece or friend.  //  Didn’t do this… but our niece was born two weeks ago!  I’m looking forward to going through Grace’s very frilly, very girly clothes and passing them along.
  • Buy and wash any wardrobe basics and other staples we are missing // Question: How does Carter’s stay in business and/or How do they have 50% off sales every day?  Regardless, we are all set with a few newborn basics and plenty of 0-3 month clothes, sleep sacks, onesies, socks, burp cloths, hats, and blankets.  Oh, and Santa pajamas.
  • Move co-sleeper to our room (this will be a last minute thing) // Not yet, but I did move it to the front of our storage room, and watched six YouTube videos on how to set it up.  So, I feel at least 40% confident that I can handle this… and 100% confident that Nick will actually be the one to do it.  But it’s fun to pretend.
  • Order double stroller (with car seat adapter) and second Pack ‘N Play // Both have been delivered and we’ve had some practice with the new stroller, which I love.  We got a Baby Jogger City Select with the second seat (and adapter) and the infant car seat adapter (for our Britax B-Safe infant seat).  We’ll use the Pack ‘N Play for the baby’s naps and diaper changes during the day (we got the one with the Cuddle Cove rocking seat and changing station).  If I had a magic time machine, I would have likely picked these two items when I was pregnant with Grace, but… you live and learn and make even better choices the second time around.  I think.  Who knows.
  • Install infant car seat base in my car (again, probably a last minute thing) // The base is in my car (along with a seat protector and mirror), but has not actually been installed.  Maybe today.  Maybe not.
  • Buy a box of size 1 diapers (and potentially a small package of NB — Grace was in newborn diapers for about a month, but who knows…) and extra wipes // My sister sent us a box of diapers via Amazon, which was such a nice surprise (and, frankly, it motivated me to get my act together).  I also have a box of size 1’s ready to go, and plenty of wipes.  We’ll likely rely on and their insanely fast shipping (which we use for Grace’s diapers and pull-ups), so I didn’t go crazy with stocking up.
  • Reorganize Grace’s closet (she’ll be sharing with her brother) // This was an undertaking and a half.  But it’s done.  And it makes me happy just looking at their little clothes side-by-side.
  • Stock up on family basics (toiletries, paper goods, Grace’s diapers and pull-ups) // Done.  Unless I’m pregnant for another two weeks, in which case… we may need to re-stock.  
  • Make all midwife/doctor’s appointments between now and our due date
  • Holiday shopping // 80-ish percent done.  
  • Schedule flu shots for Grace and me // The whole family has been appropriately vaccinated (flu shots, another tdap for me… and a rabies booster for Clark)
  • Get Clark’s yearly check-up and vaccines squared away
  • Make a plan for Clark to board with one of his pals while we’re at the hospital // This is sort of up in the air.  Unless I go into labor this week (during the busy travel/Thanksgiving time), he will stay with our friend and dog walker, which would be ideal.  We also have back-up plan involving someone picking him up and bringing him to the kennel we occasionally use (which would also be great).  Loose ends like this sort of make me nervous… but hey.
  • Make a grocery delivery list for easy ordering during the first few weeks we’re home // Nope.
  • Stash a few freezer meals // Does ice cream count?  If so, done.
  • Clean out pantry, closets and cabinets (not really baby-related, but clutter is making me mental) // Is there any sight more blessed than an empty shelf?
  • Get a handle on my third trimester wardrobe (because it’s neither warm enough or socially acceptable to continue wearing maternity bathing suits and sundresses) // I ended up doing really well with just a few basics — short and long-sleeved tees from the Gap, Gap maternity leggings (which are heaven), several open-front cardigans, Target maternity tanks, and lots of fun necklaces.  I also bought a couple dresses from Loft for weddings and parties, and made good use of the Bella Gravida items that were sent to me.
  • Pack a hospital bag for me and Nick, and a Party with Grandma and Grandpa! bag for Grace // Grace’s bag was the easiest to pack, and is actually already at my parents’ house.  Nick and I are mostly packed, with just the last minute things that need to be stashed (glasses, phone chargers, makeup, etc. — and yes, I said makeup)
  • Get a pedicure (wishful thinking) // The pedicure didn’t happen (though I have been trying to keep up with polish changes at home, despite not really being able to reach my toes this time around), but I did get a great prenatal massage.  Oh, and I got my eyebrows waxed.  Don’t want to have a unibrow when we meet our son for the first time.

Oh… and I decorated for Christmas.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  And looking up at our mantel to see five stockings this year… it’s just the best.

Also On Tap for Today:

What sort of plans and lists are you making lately?

Today: Just Add Cooking.

I recently had the opportunity to try a complimentary two-person, three-meal box from Boston-based meal service Just Add Cooking.  In theory, I love to cook… but in reality, I love to cook the same three things over and over.  I often end up eating whatever I whip up for Grace for dinner (fortunately, she has good taste).  

Just Add Cooking provided the perfect opportunity to shake things up a bit… and eat like an adult.

With seven recipes to choose from each week, three of which are vegetarian (so the choice was an easy one for me).  The remaining options usually feature poultry, seafood, pork and beef.  Meals that are designated as gluten-free have been evaluated by a dietitian and are clearly labeled as such, so there’s no second guessing.
My box included everything I needed to make the following meals:
  • Indian Vegetable Curry
  • Vegetable Hash
  • Halloumi Skewers and Couscous
My box was delivered on a Sunday morning, so I carved out some time with my favorite little pajama-clad sous chef and got to work.  Grace loves helping mix and pour ingredients, and asking, “What this is?” about… everything.  
It takes a bit longer for meals to come together, but it’s worth it to hear Grace yell, “More cauliflower!” at Clark later in the day.  
I’ve checked out other meal services before, but never followed through after reading mixed reviews.  Being a local company, Just Add Cooking is able to pack and deliver meals throughout Eastern Massachusetts the same day.  They use couriers instead of shipping services, so packing materials are minimal.  Like… surprisingly minimal.  Everything except the freezer bag is biodegradable.
I loved knowing that the ingredients I received were locally sourced, locally produced, and organic whenever possible.  In addition to detailed recipes (which include a really helpful preparation timeline for people like me who are inclined to wing it… only to burn half of what I make after forgetting to chop the onion or grate the carrots or, like… stop sampling the cheese), Just Add Cooking includes source information about each perfectly portioned ingredient included in each box.
My box included:
  • Spinach from The Kitchen Garden in Sunderland, MA
  • Tomatoes from Long Wind Farm in Thetford, VT
  • Apples from Barden Family Orchard in North Scituate, RI
  • Red potatoes from Maplewood Farm in Portsmouth, RI
  • Cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese Company in Brattleboro, VT
  • Bell peppers from Confreda Greenhouses and Farms in Hope, RI
Because Just Add Cooking took the guesswork out of both meal planning and shopping, I really enjoyed preparing each meal — almost as much as I enjoyed, you know… enjoying them.  Each recipe yielded exactly two portions.  I found cooking on Sunday and reheating during the week to work quite well (life as a lazy pregnant lady at its finest).  
Boxes start at $39 for a two-person, three-meal box (normally $69) and $69 for a four-person, three-meal box (normally $109) for the first box for new customers.  This promotional price will be automatically applied to your first purchase (Just Add Cooking and register by clicking “Get Cooking”).  Subscriptions are flexible, so you can skip weeks whenever you please.  This means I can keep an eye out for weeks when all three vegetarian meals capture my attention (and appetite), without being wasteful on weeks when I’m just not feeling it.
I’m already looking forward to our next delivery.  And I think Grace is, too.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary meal box.  All opinions are my own.  Obvi (I hope).
Also On Tap for Today:

Do you meal plan/prep each week?  Or do you wing it?

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Magic, Week 1

Get Messy Thursdays, on a Friday.  A blame my tardiness on the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions and other senior citizen-ish things that have had me preoccupied this week.

The new season of the Get Messy Art Journaling program just started, and the theme this time around is magic.  I keep coming back to creepy magicians and crystal balls and unicorns and Harry Potter (confession: I couldn’t get into the books… but watched all the movies while eating pizza post-marathon training long runs), despite wanting to focus on the magic of every day life.  Like when your daughter somehow knows that it’s a Tuesday or counts to ten aloud when she thinks no one is paying attention.  Or those beautiful sunsets we’ve been experiencing nearly every night (unfortunately, they happen before 5 o’clock).  Or, you know… Christmas everything.  

And yes, I did decorate our condo on Wednesday despite Thanksgiving still being a week away.  I figured if I did all the laundry, hung our stockings from the mantel and folded every last swaddling blanket, this baby might get the hint that we’re ready for him to arrive.  

Meanwhile, back to the unicorns.

Get Messy Thursdays | Magic, Week 1

In the spirit of playing around, I made two pages with a similar process (if you can even call it that).  After sketching with pen, I added plenty of water and watercolor to the center of the drawing.  Once that dried, I went in to color the remaining exposed drawing.  The result is sort of an intentional mistake.

The quote from Ben Okri reads, 

Our time here is magic!  It’s the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique, in.  It’s the only space.

Side note: Unicorns (and presumably, horses) are not an easy subject for me to sketch.  They have lots of muscles.  And I am clueless about body parts.  So there’s that.

I loved Shel Silverstein as a kid.  Still do. Almost as much as I love Winsor and Newton watercolor in Opera Rose.  That color is divine.

And lastly, a meditative exercise involving cutting out a million letters from scraps of colored paper.  I almost quit seven times, but I’m glad I didn’t.  Then again, I probably should have been emptying the dish washer or something more… normal.

And a special project: Get Messy x UNHCR

I recently had the opportunity to collaborate on a project to benefit the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to aid in the Syrian refugee crisis. A group of 14 members from Get Messy created a collection of original work, and all proceeds from the sale of this magazine will help provide such necessities as food, water, healthcare and shelter for those in need.  You can find a flip-through of the magazine here.


To learn more about our collaboration, or to purchase a copy of our magazine, please visit this link.  Many thanks, in advance, for your support.

Also On Tap for Today:

Which Hogwarts house would the Sorting Hat send you to?

Today: When life doesn’t make sense.

We made plans for a really wonderful weekend — and that’s very close to what we had.  From a condo full of friends and their toddlers, to a morning spent with our newborn niece, there was so much to love about the last two days.  

But life rarely follows our plans, our wishes, or our wants exactly.

And sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense.  Sometimes, it guts us.  It breaks our hearts.  

I have nothing especially profound to say about Friday’s attacks in Paris.  Nothing particularly eloquent or new or thoughtful.  But I know this violence — the murders and injuries caused– and the resulting terror and fear and anger and heartbreak are real, and are felt by so many.  I also know there are places, not so far away from Paris, where the terror of Friday night is felt every night. And every day.  

And this doesn’t make sense.  Because we cannot make sense of the senseless.  

I think it’s only human to default to fear and anger, but if we can lean on hope and compassion — even in the smallest ways — I want to (and frankly, have to) believe that will help in healing our fractured world.

When life doesn’t make sense, I buy flowers.  Or in the case of this weekend, huge branches of seeded eucalyptus.  When life doesn’t make sense, I spend as much time as possible with friends and family.  When life doesn’t make sense, I try to let a few more cars go in traffic.  And I try really hard to not give anyone the finger, even if they’ve just cut me off in the rotary.  When life doesn’t make sense, I carve out space to be quiet and alone.  When life doesn’t make sense, I clean my closet in a (somewhat futile) attempt to create order.  When life doesn’t make sense, I’m extra careful about what I consume (more chocolate, less 24 hr. news).  When life doesn’t make sense, I pray (like, more than usual).  

Because even a little more peace in this world has to count for something.

Also On Tap for Today:

How are you making a bit more peace this week?


Today: Being responsibly indulgent.

The change in seasons, the end of Daylight Saving Time, and the final weeks of my pregnancy have combined forces to make me, basically, an exhausted grouch.  I had a routine appointment with our midwife last week (and am headed to see our ob-gyn this morning) and while everything is still going great, she told me in no uncertain terms that it’s time to slow down.  

There are going to be days when Grace doesn’t nap (payback, perhaps, for my own unwillingness to nap as a baby) or when my car needs to have its actuator replaced (and don’t worry, I called it an actuary… like the person who provides actuarial services… when speaking with the mechanic #whyme), and slowing down is just not in the cards.

But I’m quickly seeing just how many opportunities I do have to take it easy (or easier).  And while this often feels a lot like being indulgent, I also know it’s downright important.  I’d like to avoid getting sick or overly run down or more grouchy during these last few weeks, and ensure that I’m enjoying as much time as possible playing and reading and dancing and drawing with my silly, precocious, thoughtful and fun only child.  While she’s still our only child.

Ideally, I’d nap when Grace naps… but not only is her nap schedule unreliable, I can rarely sleep during the day.  I can, however, curl up on the sofa with Clark (and leave the dishes and laundry and writing projects and whatever else until later) and the baby monitor.  And that’s got to count for something.  I like to think of this hour or so (and any other chance I have to put my feet up) as being responsibly indulgent.  Here are few other ways I am indulging.

Being responsibly indulgent

Rethinking what constitutes exercise: I finished up my last outdoor bootcamp class last week and did not renew my membership or by a class pass for the new season.  While I absolutely loved the workouts and getting together with the other women and their kids, I just had the sense it was time.  One thing that has been different (and I am so grateful for this) the second time around, is that I am less inclined to compare myself to other pregnant women.  I’m much better at trusting my own instincts.

Instead of going to class, I’ve been making sure to get out of the house for walks (albeit, slow ones — and I’ve stopped wearing my fitbit, for now, because… welp, my weekly step count was getting depressing) with Grace.  We’ve made two trips to the Trailside Museum in the last week.  We’re getting plenty of fresh air, plus bonus points for improving our mental health by walking in nature.

Poodle doodles Being playful: We’ve got enough serious business to attend to as adults.  I try to draw or paint every day, which is usually very restorative, but sometimes I take even that too seriously.  I was recently inspired by one of Grace’s favorite books (it’s so, so good)– Gaston, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson— and cracked open a new sketchbook and doodled some poodles.  And Frenchies.   Happy, playful, and not at all serious.

Making “down time” appointments: This is more of a big indulgence, but sometimes we just need to treat ourselves.  The spa inside Whole Foods Market South End recently rebranded and when I saw they were offering prenatal massages, I jumped at the chance to book an appointment.  They were offering a 10% discount during the spa’s relaunch, but their prices are really reasonable… plus, you can get your grocery shopping done while you’re there.  Multi-tasking is (usually) responsible and (definitely) indulgent when a massage is involved.  The massage with LaToya was absolutely blissful and I am definitely looking forward to going back.  I wish scheduling in down time came as easily as scheduling in the necessary stuff (like last week’s dental cleaning… woof).  

Reading more, watching less:  Our midwife had all kinds of suggestions for (attempting) to get more sleep.  Unfortunately, I’ve been super uncomfortable at night and barely logged two hours the night before my appointment.  We’ve heard it all before, but when the woman you’ve entrusted with nine months of care for you and your child speaks up, you listen: limit screen time, don’t watch murder shows, don’t watch the news, don’t read anything upsetting, ease into bed and let your brain know you’re winding down.  Old habits die hard.  I sleep with my phone next to my head, the baby monitor cranked up to “can be heard on Mars” level, and you know I love a good true crime story (which is not to say that I love when crimes happen…).  But with the help of some new reading material, I’m making progress.  I’ve been watching less TV and crawling into bed as early as I can.  I’m currently working through Food Gift Love, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, and the current issue of Yoga Journal.

I could get used to this whole being indulgent thing.

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you (responsibly or irresponsibly) indulge?

Today: Maternity style with Bella Gravida.

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Bella Gravida. I received a complimentary subscription and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As I shared earlier this fall, I had a chance to try the new Bella Gravida maternity “wardrobe rental” service.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I knew I didn’t want to spend a fortune on maternity clothes… and… that I kind of needed to wear something other than my husband’s sweatpants when leaving the house.

I am expecting my second delivery from Bella Gravida this week, but my experience with the first delivery was largely positive.  I received a maxi skirt, a maxi dress and a long-sleeved top.  The skirt did not fit well, but I really, really liked both the dress and top.

What I loved

  • Returning items is extremely easy.  Bella Gravida includes a postage-paid envelope with each delivery.  Once I was ready to return my items, all I had to do was drop the envelope at the Post Office.
  • Laundering is included in the monthly fee — no need to worry about washing or dry cleaning items before you send them back.
  • You have the option to buy styles you love, rather than sending them back and this, too, is very easy.
  • There is no deadline to return a particular item — you can keep it as long as you like.
  • Unlimited exchanges during the month — you can send back items to be replaced with new items as many times as you’d like.

This top by Everly Grey was my favorite item — I held onto it for weeks and loved that I could dress it up or down.

Changes I’d love to see

  • Website improvements: The website is not especially user-friendly.  I toyed with buying one of the items sent with me, but it was not appearing in my “closet.”  I contacted customer service by email, though, and received a prompt response and the issue was resolved that same day.
  • The company’s slogan (“We’re not a subscription box.  We’re a subscription wardrobe.”) might not be entirely accurate.  I was provided with two month’s of Three Styles at a Time, which retails for $79/month.  If you ask me, three articles of clothing do not a wardrobe make… and $79 is not chump change.  Also, I was hoping for a great pair or two of maternity jeans or black skinnies, but alas… there are currently no pants available.  I feel like pants are sort of critical to one’s wardrobe.
  • More information about individual styles: I’d love to see more information about both material and fit for each style.  This would make filling my personal closet a lot easier.  Being allergic to wool, I hesitated to add most sweaters and tops to my closet, which left me with limited choices.

The bottom line:

We had several weddings and special events to attend this fall and between the acrobatic feat that is climbing into maternity nylons (Whyyyyyyyy?) and lack of in-store options to try on, I could have used some help finding a great dress.  I think special occasions (rather than attempting to build an every day wardrobe) are the perfect reason to use a service like Bella Gravida.  

They have a large (and beautiful) selection of dresses available, which I am sure will be attractive to other expecting mothers as we head into the holiday season, and so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend women check out Bella Gravida for this purpose.  With family get togethers, office parties, and special holiday events, I can see a real benefit to having great looking maternity dresses shipped directly to you (and styles may be en route to you as quickly as 48 hours after adding them to your personal closet).

Even in the short amount of time that I’ve been familiar with Bella Gravida, I’ve noticed improvements being made (and more and more styles being added)… which leads me to believe the service will keep getting better.

Current promotions:

  • Bella Gravida is offering one free month to new users.  Simply sign up for a membership at
  • By Thanksgiving, Bella Gravida will be launching their ‘Give The Gift of Style’ feature.  If there are expecting mothers on your gift list for the holiday season, consider giving them a Bella Gravida subscription.  

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your holiday wish list?

Today: Happy Weekend.

I finally found salt bagels for sale in Massachusetts.  

I’m quite pleased with myself.  And I hope you’re having a very happy weekend.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you snacking on this weekend?

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Throwback Thursday

Don’t worry.  This isn’t the kind of Throwback Thursday where you have to see a photo of me with braces and curly bangs and pretend I was cute.  We have a little break between Get Messy Art Journal seasons, so Julia wisely suggested we go through our older art journals and sketchbooks and share a few favorites.

These days, my brain power is devoted to things like, Did I remember to put pants?, so when someone makes a good suggestion (or flat out tells me what to do)… whether it’s for a new post or which hummus to buy at the market (why do people always think I am friendly when I’m out shopping?), I don’t ask questions.

Get Messy Thursdays | Throwback Thursday

Hummus time (it’s lemon and dill, by the way).

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Starting Big Magic tonight (even though I kind of hated Eat, Pray, Love)
  • Wishing minions would come detail my car overnight (I cannot begin to describe the shameful amount of cracker crumbs that fell out of G’s carseat when I moved it yesterday)
  • Midwife appointment 

Do strangers talk to you when you’re out and about?