Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 1

I’m so happy the latest season of the Get Messy Art Journal challenge has begun (I’m also so excited about this season’s theme: Serenity!).  I seem to lose momentum between seasons and realize how much I benefit from the community, structure and accountability of this program (learn all about it here).  I barely picked up my sketchbook at all in the past few weeks, and was tempted to crawl into bed the second I got home tonight… but it’s Thursday… and on Thursdays, we get messy.  

Why sleep when you can doodle?

Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 1

Remember when I tried out a new sketchbook and it was basically a disaster?  It took some trial and error, but I think I found the one with this Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor Album.  The paper is cold-pressed and so fun to draw and paint on.  The book itself lightweight but still substantial (12 x 8.5 inches), has a simple cover, and lays flat.  I ended up grabbing a second for a painting and sketching class I’m currently working through (Mary Ann Moss’ Sketchbookery class — highly recommend it!).

Alright.  Here’s what I worked on this week (…while watching an inappropriate number of Naked + Afraid episodes… that show kills me, but it’s kind of the opposite of serenity).  The journaling and art prompts were created by Vanessa and focused on divinity.  There was a lot to think about, and I have a feeling I’ll want to revisit this week and continue to work through this spread.  Each piece feels sort of simple, but these prompts were really personal and sort of stirring.  

Materials used: Micron (blue ink), Sakura watercolors, white gel pen, gold ink

We were encouraged to learn and share about the goddess or goddesses that we connect most with.  I was going to paint a portrait of Martha Stewart (she is my queen, after all), but I found myself completely consumed by a goddess typology quiz a fellow Get Messy member suggested.  Apparently I’m a Hestia (and as an introvert who craves time at home with my family, the proverbial shoe fits).

I don’t know what Hestia is supposed to look like (and I usually shy away from drawing faces and figures) but I love how this turned out.  Having major hair is a goddess prerequisite, right?

Materials used: Old Christmas card, glue stick, super cheap (and super crappy) glitter alphabet stickers

I can’t think about the divine and what brings me peace and serenity without sharing about my faith and religion, and the grounded-ness they give me.  I’ve been hanging on to this image of the Virgin Mary for ages and knew I wanted to include it here.  Isn’t she lovely?

Materials used: White gesso, another Proust page (sorry, homey), black Faber Castel PITT pen (I think it’s size 1.5), Sakura watercolors, Micron pen (blue), magazine clippings

This Thomas Merton quote has stuck with me for years and years and resonates with me.  Similarly, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean.  I have a feeling water will be a recurring subject for me this season.

Was Hestia a good swimmer?  I hope so.  

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Day 3 of no naps for Grace (insert wide-eyed emoji here)… life is a mysterious adventure
  • 5 art journal must haves from Alisa Burke
  • Swimming!

Which goddesses are you channeling today?

Today: Fresh from the farmers market.

First things first: Thank you so much for all the love and kind words about our happy news!

We had great luck at this week’s farmers market at Crescent Ridge.  The farm animals were out and about, the weather was perfect, and we scored some really beautiful produce. 

farmers market haul

  • Eggs for Nick (and eggshells for me to grow little plants in)
  • Raspberries, blueberries and and a basket of “pretty uglies” tomatoes from Ward’s Berry Farm
  • Peaches and peppers from Silvia Farms

Needless to say, we also got ice cream.  With sprinkles.  

We’ve already done some serious damage on the berries, but the rest will go into breakfast parfaits and a blueberry + thyme lemonade I’ve been dreaming about (probably the most pregnant thing I’ve said today).  I’m also planning on a tomato tart and 900 Caprese salads.  As for the peppers, they are almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.  

Anywaaaay…. I hope your week is off to a lovely, delicious start.  To quote my animal-obsessed child, “Bye, goats. I love you.”

Also On Tap for Today:

What is on your menu this week?

 

Today: The happiest news.

We’ve kept the happiest news under wraps (and oversized teeshirts) for long enough…

I am thrilled to share that Grace will be a big sister this December.  Nick and I are over the moon.  Grace doesn’t really know what’s going on (but she appreciates the balloons).  And Clark, welp… he’s taking a nap.

This wonderful life just keeps getting better.

Oh and yes… those blue balloons mean we’re having a boy! Yayayayayay.

Also On Tap for Today:

What happy news do you have to share?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram 35

Take it from your friendly neighborhood not-a-meteorologist: It is hot as blazes today.  I slowed things down a bit at bootcamp this morning, but I’m not sure it made much of a difference.  By the time Grace and I got home, we were both ridiculously sweaty and in need of an extra nutritious lazy summer lunch: Popsicles, raspberries and lots of water.

Now that I’m feeling rehydrated and somewhat normal, let’s revisit the weekend according to Instagram.  

The Weekend According to Instagram

  1. There is no point to this photo, except that I am obsessed with my dog.  Clark has been extra patient and playful with Grace lately, and I think he’s finally back to his usual self after a not-so-usual winter.  The poor little guy had emergency spinal surgery at the end of February, was on bedrest for six weeks and is still waiting for most of his back fur to regrow.  It’s sort of like built-in air conditioning, but looks… weird nonetheless.  Nick recently found the breeder’s new website (she was sort of MIA for a while, which fits the bill)– the last thing we need right now is a puppy, but there were three that looked so much like baby Clark that I almost tried to convince Nick this was a good idea.  ‘Tis not.
  2. I know I need to get over myself (and I mostly did this weekend), but as long as we’ve lived in Southie (and in the past two years, right on the water), I couldn’t bring myself to swim at Carson Beach.  Supposedly the beaches in Southie are cleaner than Miami Beach, but… what does that even mean?  Long story short: We all went swimming on Sunday.  And it was actually kind of nice.  So that’s that.
  3. Sunday was National Ice Cream Day.  I don’t know where this crap comes from, but I am happy to celebrate anything that involves sprinkles.
  4. This poodle is one of Grace’s new best friends.  As previously mentioned, she is a miniature dog whisperer.  They flock to her (when she is not chasing them).  
  5. We went for a nice, long walk with my sister in Charlestown on Sunday (which is where we encountered the poodle), strolling through Paul Revere Park and through the Navy Yard.
  6. My first Google Express delivery arrived on Saturday afternoon.  We each received a gift code at last Tuesday’s dinner at Serafina to try out the service, and I’ve got to say, I’m impressed.  I’ve got a gift code to share with you (please see below), too.  The hardest part for me was deciding what to order.  I originally planned to go with diapers (boring, but necessary), but Grace’s size wasn’t available… which was just the motivation I needed to order a few fun things instead.  I love that you can purchase from multiple retailers in the same order.  I ordered some moisturizer and my favorite eye shadow from Ulta, and Go Set a Watchman and a grown-up coloring book from Barnes + Noble.  Everything was delivered the next day (in adorable packaging) during the delivery window I reserved.  I can see this service being perfect for last minute gifts or entertaining (in addition to household staples) and would love to hear if you have or planned to order from Google Express.
  7. We picked up all kinds of good food at the farmers market at Crescent Ridge (plus the ice cream….) on Saturday.  Summer tomatoes are heaven.
  8. A little surprise on a late afternoon walk: a giant sand sculpture in Southie.  
  9. And a leftover from Thursday:  Why bring a teddy bear to a teddy bear picnic when you can bring a slothExactly.

Here are the details for Google Express:

Now through August 2nd, use the code EXPRESSBOSTON to receive $25 off your first purchase with Google Express (limited to the first 2,500 users; please note it is stated in your cart when paying that Google Express may need to authorize payment method for the total amount of your order without the promotional credit, but the promotional credit will be reflected in the amount actually charged to your payment method.

Happy shopping! …Oh, and stay cool.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite way to cool off?

Today: Saturday at the farmers market.

This morning, we took a little drive down 95 to check out the farmers market at Crescent Ridge in Sharon.  I was on a tomato mission (our deck tomatoes are still a week or so away from ripening), but our first stop was to see the cows.

Hi, ladies.

It’s been raining off and on all day, so we didn’t last too long, but we did manage to pick up lunch (and dessert x2) and a few things from several vendors.  Oh, and we unexpectedly ran into two local celebrities… my parents.  Grace was quite pleased!

  • Raspberries and heirloom tomatoes from Ward’s Berry Farm
  • Corn from E.L. Silvia Farms
  • Whoopie pies from… Making Whoopie 
  • Pretzel roll sandwiches from Swissbakers
  • Fresh eggs (Nick eats them… I attempt to grow succulents in their shells, it’s how we roll)
  • Beef (Nick eats it… I make no attempts to grow anything anywhere near it)
  • And… ice cream from Crescent Ridge (obvi)

Not bad for a rainy Saturday at the farmers market, eh?  The market is open 11-2 on Saturdays through the end of October.  No guarantees about my parents being there… but you never know.  

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your Saturday?

 

Today: Dinner at Serafina with Google Express.

On Tuesday night, I did something extra rare: I went out, wore non-workout clothes and stayed up late.  It was such a lovely time!  Google Express treated me and fellow Boston mothers to dinner at Serafina, giving us all a chance to enjoy ourselves while learning about their newly launched service that provides same-day or next-day delivery from local stores and retailers.

Photo by Briana Moore

From cocktails to valet parking, dinner to a beautifully curated gift basket and vase of flowers, Google Express really treated us.  They even had a professional photographer on hand, so I stashed my camera in my clutch (hallelujah for leaving the diaper bag at home) and just enjoyed myself.  All the gorgeous photos in this post were taken by the talented Briana Moore (thank you!).  Side note: I’m feeling motivated to step up my photography game.  Big time motivated.

Photo by Briana Moore

The whole event was beautifully designed, but you’ll probably not be surprised that I gravitated first to the flowers.  In addition to an incredible living wall featuring spring roses and orchids, our dining table was lined with centerpieces that reminded me a lot of my bridal bouquet.

Photo by Briana Moore

I hadn’t been to Serafina before, but I know we will be heading back soon.  It’s just a block from South Station (and a five minute drive from our place) and the food, atmosphere and service were fantastic.  We dined in a private space on the lower level, which I have a feeling would be perfect for a shower or rehearsal dinner.

 

Dinner itself was delicious (and looked as good as it tasted).  I was happily surprised to see the entire menu was vegetarian, and noticed Serafina was great about accommodating special diets and allergies.

Photo by Briana Moore

Photo by Briana Moore

Photo by Briana Moore

By the time dessert arrived, I could only manage a few bites, but that creme brulee was divine.

  • First course: Caprese | Imported Italian fior di latte mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil
  • Main course: Ravioli al tartufo nero | Homemade black truffle ravioli, touch of butter
  • Dessert: Creme brulee | With a touch of limoncello

Even better than the food was the company.  During the cocktail hour, I had a chance to catch up with my pals Tina and Alex and loved meeting and chatting with LizSanTara and Kim over dinner.  The event was hosted by Amber of Barefoot Blonde, who shared her experience with Google Express and chose a few of her favorite Google Express items for our adorable parting gift (each basket was personalized with our last names — the event was full of beautiful details like this).

Photo by Briana Moore

We also received a gift code to try Google Express for ourselves.  I’m having a hard time deciding where to start (there are quite a few retailers in the Boston area to choose from), but I’ve yet to pick up a copy of Go Set a Watchman, so that might be a good start.  I’m sure we’re also running low on diapers… and one can never have too many shades of Essie polish. Right?  Right.

Photo by Briana Moore

I’ll be sure to let you know what I ended up ordering and what the experience was like, and I’ll also have a gift code to share with you! In the meantime, I’m off to finally start reading my camera manual….  Thanks for the lovely evening, Google Express! 

Also On Tap for Today:

If you could have anything delivered to you door today, what would it be?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram 34

I can’t help but think this beautiful stretch of weather we’re having in Boston is reward for the winter that nearly did us all in.  We certainly earned our beach days this year.  Here’s how we spent some of that sunshine this weekend.

The Weekend According to Instagram 34

  1. Technically… this was from this morning.  Also true: The days sort of blend together now that I’m at home.  Bootcamp was canceled this morning, so Grace and I logged a few miles at Castle Island.  Boats, puppies and old people are our jam.
  2. We’ve been living out of a beach bag lately.  I’ll share a few of our essentials later this week, but I wanted to be sure to share a little offer from the lovely folks at Block Island Organics.  Use the code ‘elizabeth’ to save 15% on their site this week.  With so many options available for sunscreen and sunblock, I’ve been making an extra effort this summer to make better choices for me and our family.  To learn more about sun safety and how to choose the best sunscreen for you, I recommend checking out their Smart Suncare section. [P.S. I can’t type “Block Island Organics” without singing the Sail away on the Block Island Ferry jingle…]
  3. Fresh mozzarella + summer tomatoes + basil from the deck = Every, single meal.
  4. Nick has been giving our usual green juice a summer kick by topping each jar off with coconut water.  It’s really, really good (go do it).
  5. Speaking of drinks, I was super excited (and yes… this is the kind of thing that excites me these days) to find Crescent Ridge milk at Whole Foods Market in the South End this weekend.  Growing up, we had Crescent Ridge delivered to our house each week.  The milk man would leave the same glass bottles in a refrigerator box outside our house.  Oh and for the record: I am 33, not 103… and grew up in a suburb outside the city, not in a little house on the prairie.  I promise this sort of thing really did (and still does, I think?) happen.  Regardless, I had my Sunday morning chai latte with a little Crescent Ridge and a trip down memory lane.  Also: I love those glass bottles.
  6. This little lady is my heart in a hat.
  7. My younger brother (and one of Grace’s four favorite uncles) celebrated his birthday this weekend.  We love you, little buddy!
  8. You can see the full (3 second) video on Instagram, but essentially… this is dog jumping into a pool at a competition across the street from our house.  After seeing the tents and stands set up on Friday for the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge, I knew we needed to check it out.  It was super entertaining… and sort of like Best in Show IRL.
  9. Our deck herb plants are officially out of control.  We’ve got Italian basil, purple basil, spicy basil, chives, rosemary and lemon thyme to put to good use this week.  I’m starting with a little green goddess dressing and roasted potatoes with thyme.
  10. A little nap time project in the works.  I didn’t get much drawing or painting done this week, but have been sneaking in little bouts of creativity when the mood (and 10 minutes) strikes.
  11. When there are giant inflatable bunnies in your ‘hood, you visit them.  No questions asked.
  12. Same goes for most animals (real or not, in our neighborhood or not).  Grace loves just about anything with four legs, especially all the friendly farm animals at Drumlin Farm.   I swear our Audubon membership was some of the best money I’ve spent.

Needless to say, we are in love with summer.

Also On Tap for Today:

How would you use an overabundance of fresh herbs?

Today: I woke up like this | Cape edition.

Who needs a vacation alarm clock (set for 3 hours earlier than you desire to wake up), when you have a toddler at the foot of your bed?

I woke up like this.  With Grace pinching my toes and yelling, “Hellooooo!”

In an effort to spare the rest of our family the 4:30 wake-up call over the 4th of July weekend, we snuck out for some early morning walks down to the beach.  The Cape might be my favorite place on Earth.  Except for the place where they make popcorn (I’ve never been to a popcorn factory, but I just know it’s magical).

Not a bad way to start the day.

We covered 3.5 miles on Friday on our own, and 2.5 miles on Saturday with my brother and sister-in-law and their own mini-human alarm clock, my niece.  

6 AM pajama parties on the beach are the best.

And with the entire world still sleeping, we had the beach to ourselves and our pick of the prettiest shells.

Any day we are lucky enough to wake up at the Cape (even if it’s at 4 AM), we are lucky enough.

Also On Tap for Today:

How did you spend your holiday weekend?

 

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Adventure, Week 5

This week I got got down to (messy) business a bit earlier than usual.  Most weeks, I spread out my art journaling over the better part of the week and wrap things up just in time for my Get Messy Thursdays post to go up.  With the holiday weekend upon us, however, I gave myself a time limit (1.5 hours on Tuesday) and let the creative vibes and liquid acrylics flow.

This is where the mess happens.  Believe it or not, all that crap tucks away neatly into a little handled container I found on clearance at Target.  It’s like the Transformers of art storage.  Except less cool.

Materials used: [left side] Sakura watercolor paints and a white gel pen (forever obsessed); [right side] Sakura watercolor paints, water brush, Sharpie pen

I made the right hand page on Friday afternoon, shortly after the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.  I cried happily as I listened to President Obama’s statement on the radio on my way home from working out (and man… later the same day, I would cry not so happily, listening to the President sing Amazing Grace in Charleston, South Carolina) and as soon as Grace went down for her nap, I broke out my watercolors and pens and started doodling.  What a powerful, moving day.  Love is love.

“God wants us to love.  And not a twisted , crabbed, narrow tolerance, which often comes in the guise of condemnations, instructions and admonitions that try to masquerade as love, but actual love… Love first.  Everything else later.  In fact, everything else is meaningless without love.” –Fr. James Martin, S.J.

I added the left hand page on Tuesday.  The quote is from a statement Fr. Jim Martin, S.J. made about the Catholic response to gay marriage.  For me, being Catholic is as much a part of my identity as my (mostly — sometimes I think I am more liberal than I really am) liberal social views– they go hand in hand.  And they’re rooted in a desire to see both God and good in all things, in all people.  So when I read Fr. Martin’s statement, I was like, Yessssssssss.

Materials used: Extra-sharp, extra-unsafe scissors; black gesso; magazine clippings(the letters are from an article about seaweed farming in Ireland… okay); Faber Castel gelatos; waterbrush; palette knife.

So it’s been a month since I left my job, and though they’ve been few and far between, I’m still fielding emails and calls from the office.  The other day it was one about a grant from 2007.  I wracked my brain, but could not (and still can’t) remember the last name of the development officer I worked with on that project.  Part of me was like, “Let it go, that was… how ever many years ago 2007 was.”  But another part of me was like, “OHMYWORD! You are suffering memory loss!  Your brain is disintegrating!  You are not playing enough Suduko!  You spend most of your day attempting to converse with a 17-month-old child and a six-year-old French bulldog!” 

One of this week’s Get Messy prompts was to use hand-cut letters from a magazine, photo, etc.  This seemed like a good exercise for my potentially aging brain.  I free cut them (no drawing letters ahead of time) and let me just say… not easy.  Once I got a few letters down, I tried to switch to my left hand, and managed to almost cut my other hand with the scissors… so I put a stop to that (safety first, brain health second).  

I filled in the gelato circles with a few adventurous bucket list items.  Is it weird that I really want to visit Mount Rushmore?

Materials used: Magazine clipping; Scotch masking tape with a ruler pattern (love this); Sakura watercolors; Micron pen

As sort of a foil to making plans and keeping a bucket list, I made this quick page using a photo of a man praying and a teaching from Buddha about dwelling in the present.  I could stand to work on being more mindful.  Like… a lot.

Materials used: Papernerd cutouts; Golden high flow acrylic paint; palette knife; white Faber Castell oil paint pen; blue Micron pen

This last page was really fun to make.  I used cutouts from Nina’s printable (she shared a little challenge on the Get Messy instagram account) and threw together an abstract background in response to one of this week’s art prompts.  I love how beautifully liquid acrylics blend.  I almost never use red (I once had a flaming red rental car and was all, Everyone is staring at me!), but really like how it turned out here.

Oh, and… red, white, blue… Happy Birthday, America.

Also On Tap for Today:

What colors (if any) do you avoid?  My wardrobe is black-on-black-on-black if that tells you anything.

 

Today: Ready for Action! (a preview and giveaway)

One of the many advantages to being home these days is the opportunity to take my workouts outside.  In addition to long walks and short runs at Castle Island (who can beat that view?), Grace and I recently started joining my sister-in-law and friends for a stroller-friendly bootcamp a few mornings a week. 

I am absolutely loving it.  It’s exactly the structure and community I’ve been craving.  I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun working out, and it certainly helps having a cute little spectator cheering me on.  After having spent most of the winter cooped up inside, though, it’s taken me a while to get my act together in prepping for these workouts.  From sunscreen and plenty of water, to diaper stuff, toys and snacks (Grace snacks while I work out… I think she has the right idea), to a yoga mat and resistance bands, I’m bound to forget something.

After falling for nearly every product inside the Hello, Beauty! bag from Whole Foods Market, I was so excited to hear that they would be releasing a second bag, filled with Whole Body products, just in time for summer…. and just in time for me to stop making a second or third trip back inside our condo before bootcamp.  

My lovely friends at Whole Foods Market River Street in Cambridge hooked me up with a complimentary Ready for Action bag to preview before they are available in stores on Saturday… aaaand I’ve got one for you, too!

Each Ready for Action bag contains a carefully curated collection: sunscreen, aloe, Toms of Maine deodorant, arnica gel, Nuun electrolyte tablets and superfood shake mixes, along with coupons for other great products.  And the bag itself is really cheery.  It is hand-printed bag by RIJI Green, a company committed to ending human trafficking.  It’s perfect for storing sunscreen and snacks (clearly, we are all about the snacks) in your beach or gym bag.

When it comes to active living, our local Whole Foods Market really is a one-stop shop.  I know the products and ingredients on the shelves are going to be safe and family-friendly, which I can’t necessarily say about so-called nutrition and supplement stores.  

I couldn’t wait to put the Goddess Garden Organics Natural Sunscreen and Boiron Arnicare Gel to good use during this week’s workouts, and I’m looking forward to mixing the Amazing Grass vanilla chai Amazing Meal into my next shake.

You can pick up a Ready for Action bag for just $12 (it is valued at $50) tomorrow, Saturday June 27th at 10 AM at your local U.S. Whole Foods Market store, in the Whole Body department.

Ready for Action giveaway

I’m excited to share a Ready for Action bag with one U.S. reader.  To enter, please comment below.  A winner (though… you’re, like, all winners… and don’t you forget it) will be randomly selected on Tuesday, June 30th.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your list of summer essentials?