Category Archives: Reading

Currently | October 2016

Happy Halloween from a very reluctant lobster (Clark), a “dancey dancey unicorn” (Grace), and a penguin that more than one person mistook for a pigeon (baby Nick).  Oh, and two grown-ups who sort of wish our children came home with a bit more candy.  Sort of.

CURRENTLY OCTOBER 2016

currently october 2016

October has been a very full, happy month.  And not just because I’ve managed to keep my plant friends alive.  

CURRENTLY EATING

fall salad currently october 2016

CURRENTLY ENJOYING

baptism currently october 2016

  • Photos from baby Nick’s beautiful baptism day, spent with our parents and siblings.  The priest took one look at him in his little white jumper and said “Well, aren’t you a surprise?!” I still don’t really know what that means.  But I like saying it to him every now and then.  He didn’t make a peep during the sacrament, but did try to splash in the font a bit.  
  • Grace’s sense of humor. She’s started telling “jokes” lately… which are really just lies.  But hey.
  • Cold weather tea, especially David’s Tea The Spice is Right

beach currently october 2016

CURRENTLY MAKING

  • Progress on the Cape house!  We’ve made a few day trips and had our first little family sleepover down there this month now that the basics are set up (beds, wi-fi, snacks).  I’m looking forward to lots of summer fun on the Cape, but underestimated how much we’d enjoy the off season as well.  
  • A commitment to daily painting
  • Weekly batches of chai and peanut butter protein bites

books currently october 2016

CURRENTLY READING

Toodles, October.  Hello, November.

Also On Tap for Today:

What were some of your October highlights?

Today: What I made | 005

So, we know I both fear and loathe Las Vegas going to the dentist, right? And that I semi-accidentally didn’t go for several years?  And that, ironically, I broke a tooth (more accurately: an old filling fell out) while flossing, prompting an emergency visit to that place of fear and loathing?  (If you didn’t know those things, consider yourself fully caught up.)

its a good day to have a good day

Materials used: Pentel brush pen (pink)… and, um… that’s it.

It’s been a year, and I’ve stuck with regular cleaning appointments and approximately 800 other appointments to replace various old dental work and (shame on me) tend to one or two… fine, three cavities.  I have one more visit to go and then I’m done with my treatment plan, which feels mostly good.

The last couple appointments, though, have been especially uncomfortable and annoying.  A temporary crown fell out twice in one day.  Oh, and a dental assistant tried to pull out a permanent tooth instead of the loosening a different temporary crown.  It was all I could do to not flee the office and cry in my car.  Or stress eat an extra gluten-y donut.  I know it’s silly, but I can feel my heart rate quicken even thinking about being in the dentist’s chair.

If you’re wondering what the H the dentist has to do with art-making, welp… Not much. But I did find my mind wandering away from the drill and that annoying suction thing and toward my sketchbook.  I thought about what I would paint or draw or paste if I wasn’t, you know, at the dentist.  Much of what I made in the last week or two was cooked up there.  And that cooking up (along with a pair of noise canceling headphones and some Led Zeppelin) got me through those appointments.

This is a super roundabout way of saying that you don’t need to be sitting before an easel to be creative.   And creative thought can be just as powerful and transformative as the actual act of creating.  You simply need to be open to possibility.  (Dental insurance doesn’t hurt though.)

Anyway…  Here’s what I made.

What I made | 005

rumi quote heartMaterials used: Gifted scrapbook paper, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), gel medium (matte), scissors (obvi)

I come back to this poem often.  When Graham (a fellow Get Messy member) sent me a beautiful packet of pink papers, I started snipping and doodling away.  Sometimes pages feel like they make themselves.

I weirdly enjoy drawing hearts and regret not being a better student in biology.  Just think what else I would be able to draw if I had spent more time paying attention and less time being grossed out and/or fainting.

wendell berry peace of the wild things

Materials used: Strathmore Artists Tile (black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), magazine pages (Edible Boston), Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, random alphabet stencil, Micron 01 (black)

This is an old work (and one I’ve shared before, I think),  but it feels sort of like a cousin to the one above.  And I get the same comfort from reading Wendell Berry that I do Rumi, so I thought it worth sharing again.  I recently came across this recording of Berry reciting the poem quoted here.  It’s just perfect.

  • Other writers and poets that I constantly return to: Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, and Hafez.

this too shall pass

Materials used: Starthmore Artigan paper (black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), gel medium (matte), magazine pages (WSJ magazine).

Another collage, and more evidence that I don’t really know what body parts look like.  For the record: that’s a head.  With ears.  And a neck.

Moving on: How divine are these words?  They sort of stop me in my tracks.  And I have a crush on my own handwriting.  

watercolor pattern

Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, round brushes (2 and 6, I believe).

Just some good ol’ watercolor doodling while watching The Americans.  (I am convinced Clark, who came to us by way of Russia, is a spy waiting to be activated.)

root down to rise up

grow up

Materials used: [top] Micron 08 (black), acrylic and watercolor paints, colored card stock, glue stick [bottom] Magazine image (Real Simple), black acrylic paint, colored card stock, gel medium (matte), glue stick

I really love how these two turned out.  They’re sort of half flower show, half yoga class inspired.  

P.S. The next Get Messy Art Journal season starts next week — it’s a collaboration with 30Lists and should be really interesting.  A new season is a great time to join Get Messy, especially if you’re looking to jump start your own creative routine.  No emergency trips to the dentist required.

Also On Tap for Today:

What did you make this week?  Which poems or stories or quotes do you keep coming back to?

Today: Library finds.

library finds

Recent library finds:

  • Paper to Petal: 75 Whimsical Flower Ideas to Craft By Hand by Rebecca Thuss // I’m not crafting anything whimsical by hand at the moment… but this book is a great visual reference for a painting class I am taking (Pam Garrison’s Painting Petals class)
  • Cat Says Meow and Other Animalopoea by Michael Arndt // This book is incredibly clever.
  • Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale // Grace really likes the illustrations in this one, and I like the little reference guide at the back.  Apparently the real, common name for pufferfish is… pufferfish.  And they’re poisonous.
  • The Plant Recipe Book by Baylor Chapman // I own the Flower Recipe Book (and love it), so I thought I’d borrow the plant version from the library.  I like this one mostly because I am pretending that a. It’s not winter, and b. I can keep plants alive for more than a week.  Like Paper to Petal, this is a great reference for painting.
  • Anything in the Peas series by Keith Baker // Grace’s cousins got her one of these books for Christmas and we’ve been hooked on the whole series.  Just last week I caught Grace “reading” to Clark, “We are peas!  Alphabet peas!  We work and play in the A-B-Cs!”  
  • I stumbled upon an entire child development section in the children’s library at our local branch in Southie.  It’s skewed a bit older than our children, but I could see it being really helpful in the future (there were a lot of books about helping your children succeed in school, etc.).  
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee // I tried to finish Go Set a Watchman, but I just couldn’t hang.  And I sort of feel like maybe it shouldn’t have been published, especially if it wasn’t intended to be published.  Starting it made me want to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird (one of the very few books I can stand to re-read), though.  So, so good. 

Cleary I don’t read much in the way of normal and grown-up books anymore… but hey.  I know a tiny bit more about pufferfish.  So, there’s that.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you reading these days?

 

Today: Happy Weekend.

It finally feels like winter in Boston.  Time to trade the flip-flops for boots, and break out the pom-pom hats.

A few things to check out if you’re staying in this weekend:

Wishing you and yours a cozy, happy weekend.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Shopping for a new (non-maternity) winter jacket
  • Ignoring the laundry
  • Sharing the January love

What are you up to this weekend?

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: Get Messy Thursdays | Words, Week 4

I got completely swept up in this week’s prompts and the chance to focus on favorite childhood stories.  We grew up in a house full of books, with parents who loved to read to us, so there was a lot to draw from.

I zeroed in on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden partly because I had seven thousand flowers cut out and ready to be used, but mostly because it is such a good story.  And while it certainly appealed to my imagination as a child, it really imparts quite grown up lessons on treating others well.  Maybe I’ll re-read it.  After I do, like, the important and necessary things.

Get Messy Thursdays | Season of Words, Week 4

This is where the magic mess happens.

I’ve always loved the look of fold-out pages in other people’s sketchbooks.  It seemed fitting to have something hidden away when drawing inspiration from The Secret Garden.  Unfortunately, I am not a genius when it comes to spatial relations and math and planning and measuring.  I taped together three pages of cold pressed watercolor, which I folded accordion style, and then labeled and re-labeled and re-re-labeled them until I got the proper layout.

And it still wasn’t quite right.  But there’s little time for perfection when working against the ever unpredictable “When will nap time be over?” clock.  So I just made do.

Materials used: Exacto knife, stamp, StazOn ink (grey), Sakura Koi brush pen (pale pink), Faber Castell PITT pen (black, 1.5)

This is how the pages will look — all tucked in and unassuming– once we finish this season of the Get Messy Art Journal program and I bind my altered book.  

The keyhole cut-out gives you a little peek at the inner spread, which is aptly… floral.  I used as many of my favorite passages from the story as I could throughout the pages.  I have no idea why I used that doily stamp.  So there’s that.

Materials used: [In addition to those listed below the keyhole page] Pages from Combray, Strathmore Artists Tiles (black, trimmed in half), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), glue stick.

These are the outer pages (obvi… I think).  I forgot a quotation mark on the right hand page.  Please forgive me.  Or just pretend it’s there.  

One day I will stop being obsessed with white hand-lettering on a black surface.  Today is not that day.  Also, I want my own secret garden.  Like, immediately.  

Materials used: Windsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes (ivory black, cerulean blue and Windsor violet), magazine cut outs, glue stick, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white).

And whaaa-bam!  Here is the inner spread.  I wanted it to look lush and sort of mysterious.  The only mystery I am detecting at the moment (get it… mysteries… detectives…) is, Why did I include an owl atop that floral arrangement?  Like, wouldn’t that be the scariest thing ever to come home to?  Well, maybe not ever… but it would be weird. 

The passage scattered throughout the pages is just beautiful and perfect.  It’s about the fleeting moments when we feel like we will live forever.  Doesn’t that make you want to re-read all your favorite childhood books?

Who wants to have a Secret Garden book club with me?

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Making my first batch of switchel (now that sounds mysterious)
  • These Halloween costumes based on kids books are amazing via The House That Lars Built
  • Prenatal yoga in the living room, with a toddler, Frenchie and stuffed animal audience

What childhood classic are you dying to re-read?

Today: Currently | September 2015

We’re more than half-way through September and my fellow old folks and I are left to wonder, Where has the time gone?  I’ve been feeling a bit in limbo (but physically unable to actually limbo) lately.  

Part of me wants this third trimester and all its grouchiness, discomfort and ill-fitting pants to fly by.  And part of me has always wished the calendar went Winter, Spring, Summer, Christmas.  But most of me wants to freeze time… or at the very least, slow it down a bit.  Even if that does mean being surrounded by fall decor (a.k.a. the worst) a bit longer.  Pants and faux pumpkins aside, here’s what’s currently going down.

Currently | September 2015

Currently feeling…

  • A little adrift and a lot disorganized.  Which is unsettling.  I usually have my act way under control, but I’m finding myself losing track of my keys, doctor’s appointments, and days of the week.  I’ve resorted to using Google Calendar (I’m usually paper-and-pen only), my regular planner and a dry erase calendar.  I’m making more lists than usual.  I’m triple-checking my handbag before leaving the house.  And I still forget something.
  • Like I sort of miss the back-to-school rush.  Sort of.  I love being home with Grace (and I know this was the right decision), but this is first year I haven’t been swept up in that new year’s feeling that used to come with September.  I did treat myself to some new school supplies paint, though.  Which brings us to…

Currently watching…

  • Paint dry.  I put together a new watercolor palette this morning and keep peeking to see how it’s setting up.  (I’ll probably let the paint sit overnight before using it.)  I’ve been using a pre-filled palette for ages, and am excited to see how limiting my colors and being selective will affect my creative process.  Then again… 18 shades is not really a limited selection.

  • Grace, Clark and mini-plastic-Clark snuggled up on the sofa.  They melt my heart.
  • Football… but only because it’s on.  And hockey is not.

Currently reading…

A little doodle from earlier this month

  • Articles about potty training.  Because Grace decided a few months ago that diapers are weird.  I don’t blame her.  And while I appreciate her enthusiasm for forgoing the diapers, I wish she were a bit less interested in testing out every, single bathroom available to her.  From her new gymnastics gym to Target to the Chatham Fish Pier… we’ve seen and experienced ’em all.
  • Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me?.  Because she can do no wrong.
  • A Nest is Noisy — fascinating for me and the little one.

Currently creating…

  • A gold leaf and shell homage to summer
  • A pre-baby check list (which I will likely lose and/or forget about… see above).

Currently enjoying…

Apparently this is what Grace thinks my workouts look like… she’s not far off.

  • Outdoor workouts and lots of stretching.  
  • Making plans with friends.  
  • Rediscovering old favorites on Spotify, including Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day” and basically anything on the 90s Pop Radio Hits playlist.

bulu box

  • New mid-workout treats.  As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I had a chance to check out last month’s Bulu Box for free.  I’m a sucker for monthly boxes — they’re such a fun way to find new products. I think a Bulu Box would make a great gift for the athletes on your list this holiday season (Too soon?  Nah…).  The August box was sort of hit or miss for me, but I suppose that comes with the territory.  I loved the movit energy gummies and racefood fastbar — both were perfect for a mid-bootcamp boost. I received a weight loss supplement, which (even if I weren’t pregnant) is not really my jam.  Similarly, I’ve cut back on the caffeine, but I have a feeling the Runa tea included last month will come in handy soon enough.  I’ve loved other Runa drinks I’ve tried and look forward to brewing a nice hot cup once our little guy arrives.  I (thankfully) haven’t had occasion to use the fourth item included in my Bulu Box — an anti-itch cream — but hey, you never know.  If you’re interested in your own Bulu Box (or one for a pal), use the discount code SWEATPINK to save 50% on a three month subscription.

Alright, time to go peek at that paint again.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you subscribe to any monthly boxes?  Which are your favorites?

Today: What’s in my Pocket, 2/24/14

I thought about putting together a Weekend According to Instagram post, but ever since Grace’s early arrival (and my coinciding early maternity leave), the weekends sort of feel like regular days.  And the regular days feel sort of like weekend days.  Mostly, the last three weeks have felt like one very long (albeit, wonderful) day of nursing, diaper changing, and snuggling… peppered with a few short naps.  And several showers necessitated by being thrown up on by a tiny human.  And some quick snack breaks.  Life has been incredibly wonderful.  My Instagram feed, however, has been incredibly boring.  Which, I am hoping, is a sign that I am doing something right.

Maybe next weekend will be different.  Don’t hold your breath.  (Really.  Don’t.  It’s bad for your health.)

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some late night reading I’ve been doing during those moments after I’ve carefully placed Grace in her co-sleeper, but before I am convinced she is actually asleep.

You’re likely familiar with Pocket, but if you’re not, Julie’s post is a good place to start. I’ve been saving posts and articles to read for later there, leaving with me with a more curated and manageable reading list than my overflowing Feedly, um, feed.  (Side note: Remember when Google Reader went extinct and I was this close to going into mourning?  Totally over it.)

Lest you think me completely vapid… a warning: most of this is very light reading (with the exception of the first article, perhaps).   I’m  fairly certain that’s all my brain can manage at the moment. 

Here’s what’s in my Pocket this week:

And now I have that “one hand in my pocket” song stuck in my head.  Oh, Alanis.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Taking a few photos of the now complete nursery to share later this week
  • Boston fitness professionals: check out this upcoming event
  • Why is it cold again?

What are you reading today?

Today: The old and the new… bookshelves.

I love my books nearly as much as I love reading.  Which is a lot.  When I came home from Minneapolis to find that Nick had ventured to IKEA alone and built a home for the entire rainbow of them, I was quite the happy girl and got right down to business.

You may remember our built-in bookshelves from our first place.

The old

After they spent a few weeks cooped up in moving boxes, I was happy to liberate Charles Dickens and Martha Stewart and Hilary Thayer Hamann.

The new

We’ve still got a few more boxes to unpack, but I may just curl up and read instead.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Wait… it’s not Friday?…
  • Love this: Super Mario bento boxes from The Kitchn
  • Going a little nuts with the washi tape

Read anything good lately?

Today: The weekend according to Instagram XIII.

Lucky thirteen.

The theme of this weekend was boob sweat the arrival of summer weather.  I love the heat.  My dog?  He’s over it.

The weekend according to Instagram XIII

  1. Friday (I’ve decided to start weekends a bit early and lead with Fridays) was Pen Pal Day! at the middle school where I volunteer.  Highlights included a harp performance, breakfast with my seventh grade pal, and an outdoor sing-a-long.
  2. Saturday morning I awoke to find my little herb garden has come alive.  As of last check, we have approximately 5 chive sprouts and 600 basil sprouts (the, um, seed packet sort of exploded when I was putting my little windowsill garden together).  No sign of the parsley.   Rather than watering with a coffee mug (who has a watering can in the city?), which in the past has led to accidental plant drownings, I did a tiny bit of research and have been gently misting the soil each evening with a spray bottle I found in the Target travel aisle for $1.29.  Nothing by the best for the sprouts.
  3. I can’t remember the last time I ran outside (except for every, single morning when I sprint across the crosswalk to avoid getting hit by the MBTA bus…. no regard, I tell you!).  I decided to skip the treadmill, lace up my Kinvaras and hit the road for a quick and hot run along the Harborwalk early Saturday.  I love living right at the intersection of city and sea.  Can’t beat those views.
  4. Did I mention it was hot this weekend?   Sweating buckets.
  5. I joined Nick to sweat a few more buckets at CrossFit Southie on Sunday morning.  As soon as we got back to the condo, we tuned into the Reebok CrossFit Games live feed.  Another weekend, another round of incredible Regionals competitors.  Between the day’s workout (which I loved) and watching the athletes compete, I took some time to think about what I’d like to accomplish this month.  My goal for June is consistency.  With work, travel and other good things happening, I felt like a bit of a flake this spring.  I didn’t make it to the box as often as I would have liked, and found myself making excuses (namely: I am wiiiiiiped) when I could have been making progress.  Even still, I am this much closer to an unassisted pull-up (hello, red band) and have been lifting more weight than ever.  Just imagine what I could do if I, welp… showed up more.  So that’s the plan: show up more.
  6. Sunday’s workout included bent-over barbell rows, ring rows, ring push-ups (I scaled down to hand release push-ups), double unders and wall climbs.  Needless to say, I was feeling the burn.  Literally.
  7. First swim of the year!
  8. I got to spend a little quality time with my niece on Saturday night while the grown-ups celebrated my sister-in-law’s birthday.  My niece turns one this month, and gets cooler by the minute.  It’s just amazing.  I love seeing my brother and sister-in-law read to her, and knew this book would be the perfect addition to the baby’s growing collection.  It’s called You are my I love you/Tu eres mi te queiro by Maryann Cushman.  It is available in English only, too, but I love the bilingual version.  Such a beautiful book.
  9. And this is how Clark feels about 91 degrees: complimented, but not interested.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?  Did you stay cool?