Today: Goodbye, 2015. Hello, 2016.

On one hand, I try not to buy into the New Year’s hype too much.  The “new year, new you” stuff sort of gets under my skin.  But on the other hand, I love a fresh start.  A clean slate.  A chance to set new goals and intentions.  And an opportunity to reflect on all that has transpired in the past year– the good, the not so good, the in between.

goodbye, 2015. hello, 2016.

Materials used: Cold pressed watercolor paper, watercolor paint (Winsor and Newton professional tubes, Ivory Black), small round brush.

Goodbye, 2015.  Hello, 2016.

2015 seemed to be marked by change (almost all good, but a bit unsettling nevertheless).  I left my career to be home with Grace and welcomed a second (equally adorable) baby to our family.  I found new ways to engage creatively, new ways to fit in exercise (while toting around a toddler), new concealer to hide the ever darkening circles under my eyes, and new ways to pass the time waiting for our little one to arrive (did I tell you about the time I hired a graphic designer in Pakistan to help me Photoshop Clark into a picture with the President and VP?).  I’m leaving 2015 feeling both grateful for all we’ve experienced, and relieve to be moving on to the next chapter.

And I’m greeting 2016 feeling hopeful.  I’ve got a few specific goals in mind for the year, and will share those soon.  In the meantime, I’m filling a Champagne glass with ginger ale and toasting to the year ahead.

I hope you have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and a lovely 2016.  Thanks for all of the love and support during 2015.

Also On Tap for Today:

How are you feeling about 2015?  And 2016?

 

 

Today: All I want for Christmas.

All I want for Christmas is this.

all i want for christmas

Materials used: Cold-pressed watercolor paper, Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, and a super crappy paint brush from a set of approximately 900 (it set me back a whopping $2.00 #treatyoself).  

I won’t turn down a good night’s sleep, two snuggly babies, and a cold and long-running IV of Diet Coke, however.

I hope you are enjoying a peaceful day filled with love.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your wish list?

Today: Currently | December, 2015

Needless to say, the highlight of the month year has been welcoming our baby boy.

The last two weeks have been an exhausting, but blissful blur of newborn snuggling, diaper changing, toddler chasing, and trying to remember if I took a shower or not.  I feel like we’re starting to find our rhythm (which basically means nothing, because one thing I do remember from Grace’s early days is that as soon as we got comfortable, things changed — her sleeping schedule, her eating schedule, the weather, you get the point).

currently december double stroller

This may be the Universe’s way of sending a message, but the things that are totally beyond my control (and therefore, the things that I am constantly worrying about) are going beautifully.  Grace is the most gentle, sweet and curious older sister.  We went out for a little ride earlier this week (in nearly 60 degree weather… not normal) and she kept whispering, “Look, baby Nick, more Christmas lights.”  And it made me so happy that I cried and ruined the moment.  

On that note… here’s what else I’ve been up to this month.

Currently | December, 2015

Currently enjoying

  • Newborn baby smell — I’d be a billionaire if I could bottle this smell.
  • Grace’s excitement for all things Christmas
  • Ridiculously warm weather

Currently listening to

  • “Spirituality of Imagination,”  last week’s episode of On Being with Krista Tippett, featuring Martin Sheen—  I love this podcast.  It’s smart, compelling, and thought-provoking and this episode might be one of my favorites.  I loved hearing the actor talk about his return to Catholicism and his commitment to activism.  I laughed, I may have cried (just kidding… I did cry… I cry about any and everything these days), I tried to convince everyone I know to listen.  
  • Season 2 of Serial — Nick and I have listened to the first two episodes together on Thursday nights.  It’s both nice and sort of weird to sit around listening to audio in the same way we might watch television… like, what should I be looking at?  This season is quite different from the first, but I’m already hooked.
  • Adele’s 21 on repeat (still)
  • Christmas music (obvi)

Currently watching

  • The West Wing — I don’t know why I didn’t watch this when it was actually airing (my whole family was obsessed), but after listening to the Martin Sheen interview mentioned above, I had to give it a try.  Blessed be Netflix… we have found our next streaming addiction.
  • This peaceful Santa video on YouTube that my mom shared (Grace loves it)
  • And this version of my favorite Christmas jam, O Holy Night, performed by Berklee students

Currently reading

currently december magazines

Currently loving

currently december bamr bands

  • My new BAMR bands — I am thrilled to be an ambassador for this fabulous brand.  Each quarter, BAMR Bands donates 10% of their proceeds to a selected charitable organization benefitting women and children (past recipients have included Every Mother Counts, a favorite of mine).  To receive a 10% discount on these adorable, non-slip headbands, use the code OnTap10 online.
  • This month’s Nature Box delivery — We’ve had a NatureBox subscription for a while, but this month’s box is an especially good one.  I tried to select items that would appeal to Nick (Spicy Sriracha Popcorn), Grace (Peanut Butter Graham Jam) and me (Guacamole Bites)… but mostly… I’ve been snacking on them all. For 50% off your first delivery, click here (this is a referral link, albeit a tasty one)

Currently making

currently december sparkling cranberries

  • Piles of laundry everywhere — I forgot how many outfits newborns whip through in a day.  Yikes.
  • A painting here, a drawing there —  My current m.o. is “fit in it when you can.” (And try not to make too much of a mess in the process.)
  • Plans for the new year — I’m oddly excited for 2016.  So much changed in 2015 that I felt more reactive and less intentional.  I’m looking forward to being a bit more thoughtfully engaged in the coming twelve months.
  • A few holiday treats, including sparkling cranberries and “happy cakes,” as Grace calls them

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your December currently like?

 

Today: My heart doubled in size.

On Saturday morning, we welcomed our son Nick to the world.

And my heart somehow doubled in size.  

BRB… soaking it all.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s filling up your heart these days?

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Magic, Week 3

[So… most of this post was thrown together well before yesterday’s tragic events in San Bernardino.  This is not a post about grief or guns.  But those things, rather than paint and sketchbooks, are what I’m actually thinking about today.]

This week was sort of half-baked, creating-wise.  I messed around a lot, threw out or painted over a bunch of art work crap, and sort of followed the prompts for this week’s Get Messy Art Journal program.  

Semi-related: All of my art supplies now live on this cart, which tucks into our front hall closet, when they’re not strewn about our coffee table.  City living at its finest.

Get Messy Thursdays | Magic, Week 3

This was sort of a warm-up for some of the other things I worked on this week, and an attempt to get a bit more comfortable with the journaling aspect of art journaling.  I used my tiny black Moleskine album for a few quick sketches and projects.  I like not having to paint the pages black (something I often end up doing), but the size (3.5 x 5.5) is not super functional.  I like big sketchbooks… and I cannot lie.  Also, I clearly cannot comprehend measurements… because I thought I was ordering this album.

Another quick one.  Nick ordered a burrito from our friendly neighborhood Mexican/Chinese restaurant (every neighborhood needs one… maybe) and I stole the fortune from his cookie.  Does anyone like the actual taste of fortune cookies?  No, right?  Regardless: your special way of doing things is magic.  Or whatever.

File this under “super random.”  But magic.  If it actually happened.

This page is a work in progress, but it’s supposed to be an abstract of the brain’s hemispheres.  Pretend, if you can, that it doesn’t look like a technicolor bowl of worms. I planned to pair it with another quote (about the power of positive thought) from The Secret Garden, but I got distracted.  By what… I can’t remember.  Probably because these days, my actual brain feels as wacky as this one looks.

And speaking of brains, here’s my attempt at mapping my own insides.  I took some liberties with my silhouette (a slightly less pointy nose and three fewer chins than I currently have), but the things floating around in my brain that make me me are pretty accurate.  I think.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your mind these days?

 

Today: Currently | November, 2015.

The mild weather made this month feel more like April than November, so we got plenty of adventures in.  And I sort of forgot to have my snow tires put on.  Whatever, man.  

I assumed (along with everyone else, I think) that we’d be a family of five by now (counting Clark, obvi… I do not have a secret human child somewhere)… but unless he makes his grand entrance before midnight, we’ll be welcoming a December baby.  All this anticipation is making the days crawl, despite the month having flown.  

And like any month, there were ups and downs — but one of the most wonderful moments had to have been meeting our niece who was born two weeks ago.  She is just perfect.

Currently November 2015 Boston

Speaking of perfect, the weather and view (minus the seagull) could not have been better on a recent stroll along the Harborwalk.

Currently | November, 2015

Reading

  • My copy of the Get Messy x UNHCR charity magazine arrived this weekend.  I am so grateful to have been a part of this collaboration, which supports relief efforts for Syrian refugees, and love seeing everyone else’s art work in print.  You can order a copy here (all proceeds are donated to UNCHR).
  • Still working through: Big Magic and Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me?
  • Reading with Grace: But Not the Hippopotamus 
  • Mostly just looking at the pictures: Vogue, December 2015

Listening to

  • Adele’s 25 (along with the rest of the planet) on repeat.  I’m not ashamed to say, I am obsessed.
  • Christmas music
  • Clark snoring
  • The Undisclosed Podcast

Making

  • An attempt to finish my Christmas shopping in the next day or two.  We’ve done a really fun Secret Santa with my siblings and significant others the last three years and I highly recommend DrawNames.com if you’re organizing a similar swap.
  • Comfort food: Onion tartlets, mashed potatoes, tomato soup, cucumber salad, quesadillas with sharp cheddar and gala apples
  • A top secret Christmas card muhahaha (I hope everyone finds it even a 1/100 as funny as I do)
  • Progress in my sketchbooks and art journals (you can see some recent work on Instagram or here and here)

Enjoying

  • The Christmas decorations I put up (…before Thanksgiving… couldn’t help myself)
  • A fresh bouquet of flowers 
  • Our current routine (while it lasts)

Feeling

  • That Coach Belichick would be my ideal spokesperson right now.  When asked how he felt when he saw Rob Gronkowski get injured during last night’s game, he snapped, “How do you think I feel?”  Exactly.  Except I don’t think I get away with being quite so sassy.  So instead, I’ll just say… okay, fine, impatient, a little cankle-y, hopeful, hungry and tired.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Deleting 900 million Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails
  • 20 ways to be creative when you don’t feel inspired via CoSchedule
  • Trying to keep up with Dishwasher and Laundry Hamper Zero (it’s like Inbox Zero… kind of… but way less cool to bring up in public)

Today: Ten minute onion tartlets.

In the spirit of honesty, these onion tartlets take closer to fifteen minutes to make… but ten minutes sounds better.  

Caramelized onion tartlets with feta and thyme

caramelized onion tartlets

Makes approximately 12 mini tarts, vegetarian (contains dairy and gluten)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 package of frozen mini phyllo dough shells (I keep a few packages of these shells in our freezer — they are fully baked and just need to be reheated, a lazy woman’s dream)

Directions:

  1. Remove phyllo shells from freezer and follow directions for thawing (or baking, if necessary)
  2. Heat oil or butter in a large skillet and saute onions for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until caramelized
  3. Remove onions from heat and add to large bowl with feta and thyme; mix and set aside
  4. Arrange shells on a rimmed baking dish
  5. Fill each shell with the onions, feta and thyme and bake according to package directions (for these, I baked them at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes)

caramelized onion tartlets

These little guys can be served hot or cold and are one of my favorite appetizers to make and share.  The filling can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated.  While you’re at it, you may want to make a big batch of caramelized onions (Julie wrote a great “how to” post that includes 16 different ways to use caramelized onions).  

Ten minutes… fifteen-ish minutes… you could probably lie and say these took all day.  But lying is bad.  And these tartlets are good.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s the last lie you told?  Your secret is safe with me.  And the Internet.

 

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 super easy, semi-lazy, delicious onion tartlets) 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 diapers.com 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?