This May calendar is coming to you a day late (sorry)… but it doesn’t matter if you’re a dollar short. Because you can download it for free. Or whatever.
If you’re down with the whole coloring book craze, this one’s for you. And if you hate the rainbow and are a strictly black and white kind of person, this one’s for you too (just skip the coloring part… obvi).
Materials used: Black watercolor paint (Winsor + Newton professional, ivory black), round brush (size 2), Micron pen (black, 01), Canson mixed media paper (160g)
You know you’ve been listening to more Prince than usual when your two-year-old starts singing “Purple Rain” to her Fisher Price farm animals. It’s making mealternately very happy and a bit depressed.
Materials used: Golden fluid acrylics (Dioxazine Purple), Handmade Modern acrylic paint (lavender, violet), Winsor + Newton professional watercolor (ivory black)
I think I’ve always loved Prince’s music. And while “Purple Rain” is sort of an obvious song to single out, it’s been an important part of nearly every race I’ve started (and finished). Long, short and everything in between.
Being a bit of a sponge person, I used to get way too wrapped up in the starting line energy (and all the weird vibes that come from other people being nervous, excited, and/or trying out new Gu. Or stretches. Or Spandex). In the corral before my first marathon, a woman told me she was going to run despite not training (like, at all) and I think I pulled every worry muscle in my body just listening to her.
I’d start each race all wrapped up in everything going on around me, inevitably running too fast, and nearly expiring by mile two.
I knew early on that I needed a strategy. (For the record: I don’t mean that in a competitive or high performing way… I mostly mean that in a “figure out how to keep running without dying” kind of way.) I must’ve had my iPod set to shuffle during a run (or maybe I intentionally picked “Purple Rain,” but I don’t think so), but as soon as I heard “I didn’t mean to cause you any sorrow,” I knew Prince would join me for the rest of my races.
“Purple Rain” is just slow enough to keep my heart rate low and pace on target. And when all 8 minutes and 24 seconds have passed, I’m approaching my first mile and first third of a 5k. And if I could do math, I’d tell you how much of a 10k or marathon would be left. But I can’t (do math, that is). Like so much of Prince’s music, the song is somehow uplifting, confusing, bittersweet, sad, and weird all at once. In other words, it’s the perfect soundtrack to all the things that might pop into my head on any given run.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the music itself. If I wasn’t positive I’d be an even worse musician than I am a runner, “Purple Rain” would have convinced me to take up guitar lessons.
While I’m saddened that so many talented people have left the Earth lately, I’m grateful we can still take them along on our runs, our races, our walks, our adventures, our drives and our day-to-days.
I recently found myself scrolling through the entirety of the Internet (it’s an uppercase word… until June 1…) for a good granola bar recipe and scanning the contents of our pantry, hoping the stars ingredients would align.
It was 10:30 on Sunday night, and I had no business being awake, let alone attempting to make granola bars… but sometimes we get peer pressured into these things (i.e. I did it for the Mama Beasts Spring Challenge points…). And in this case, the pressure paid off.
I should know better than to mess with baking recipes (unlike cooking, there’s some actual science and measuring involved) and you know I’d never be so bold as to question my queen Martha… but um… I messed with a Martha recipe (this one for peanut-butter granola bars — you’ll see I made a few changes, but used her recipe as a guide). Mostly because I needed to work with what I had. And because Martha seemed to have forgotten to include chocolate chips. She’s got a lot going on.
I’ve made these granola bars twice now (proof that they don’t take a lot of effort or time or thought, all things I seem to be perpetually lacking).
I’m always looking for filling, mostly-healthy snacks and these turned out to be both. And they don’t taste like an old shoe (always a plus). That’s a terrible way of telling you they’re delicious. They’re delicious.
Homemade peanut butter, cranberry + dark chocolate granola bars
gluten free, makes approximately 12 bars
1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
1/2 cup nut butter
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup palm sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
Pinch of sea salt (I use Maldon flakes)
Prep work: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment or freezer paper, leaving a bit of overhang.
In a large bowl, mix oats, cranberries, almonds and dark chocolate.
In a small sauce pan over low heat, mix nut butter, oil, and palm sugar until sugar dissolves. Remove pan from heat and mix in egg white.
Combine wet and dry ingredients and pour into prepared pan, pressing mixture evenly with a spatula.
Top with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Bake for 30 minutes, allow to cool in pan (approximately 10 minutes).
Remove baked granola (technically, they’re not bars… yet) from the pan, using the parchment or freezer paper and freeze overnight on a cookie sheet.
Cut bars to desired size, store refrigerated.
Recipe notes: You could include just about any nuts and dried fruit. I don’t recommend skipping the chocolate. (Because, really, why?) You could throw caution to the wind and cut them after cooling, but I found freezing the bars really helped keep them from crumbling. Martha’s recipe calls for light brown sugar, which you could use if you don’t have palm sugar on hand. Similarly, you could substitute (1:1) coconut oil for vegetable oil. The Maldon is definitely optional, but I have such a thing for salty/sweet. I used 70% cocoa chocolate chips and Bob’s Red Mill gluten free rolled oats, but again, use what you have.
That’s basically my life’s motto at the moment… use what you have. Or, like, order it from Amazon Prime. Just kidding. Kind of.
Attempting to read an actual book (one that is not about “positive parenting” or “thriving toddlers” or “making your dog promise to live forever”) …I’m currently on page 13 and consider that a huge victory
True Life: If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t get done. And sometimes even if I write it down, it doesn’t get done (can’t win ’em all). And sometimes I write down things I’ve already done, just for the satisfaction of crossing something off. Whatever. Here’s a free printable.
I use a weekly planner (the Get to Work Book — love it) to keep track of appointments, writing and art projects and general “to dos,” and Co-Schedule for an editorial calendar, but I prefer something simple when it comes to my weekly plan. After a little design trial and error, I came up with this pretty number, and thought I’d share it. Feel free to download and print and plan all kinds of things.
I stick with a Monday start partly to pretend I’m a sophisticated non-American (just kidding… kind of) but mostly because I like carving out time on Sundays to plan for the week ahead. If you’d prefer a file with a Sunday start, reach out or leave a comment below and I’m sure I can help you out.
You might use this weekly planning printable for
A gratitude diary
1-2 must dos (or want to dos) per day
I laminated mine using a 3M self-sealing pouch (you can find them on Amazon in packages of 10 for less than $10, or in the office supply aisle at Target) and use a fine tip dry erase marker, rather than printing a new page every week (I feel like I am forever living dangerously… in the low ink zone).
Time to go write something down. And maybe, eventually do that something.
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.)
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
Materials 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
What is it about spring that makes me want to be a runner again?
That year I ran two marathons (the Walt Disney World Marathon and the NYC marathon <– click though for recaps, if you’d like to read about very mediocre running, but above average emotional expression) seems like ancient history, but give me a new pair of kicks and a 60 degree day and you’d think I was heading for the starting line (more likely: I’m heading to Target because I forgot to buy hand soap… but remembered to buy chocolate chips…).
Regardless, I’m looking forward to several spring races (the Marine Corps Honor Run in Southie and the Corrib 5k in West Roxbury for starts) and sort of feel my running mojo coming back. Whatever that means. If you’re getting back outside to train, I’ve got a great giveaway below that might make your (running) life a little better.
Last week’s workouts
Monday: Mama Beasts — I’m always a little giddy when the deck of cards comes out (and I’m impressed at how many ways Antoinette puts those cards to use!).
Tuesday: Mama Beasts spring challenge workout (at home) and a long walk with the little people. Grace went on a two week nap strike (and attempted to eat a crayon while I changed Nick’s diaper), so escaping getting out of the house felt very necessary. It’s amazing what a little fresh air (and ocean views) can do.
Thursday: Push-up playdate with my sister-in-law, Colleen– we earned a point for our MB team for every push-up we completed in an hour. I’m still working on being able to do regular push-ups on my toes (hello, two children… and a temporary goodbye to core/back strength), but got 163 good form push-ups done on my knees. I rounded out the day with a gentle flow from OneOEight yoga.
Friday: Mama Beasts (followed by an adorable egg hunt for the little ones!)
Saturday: Mileage day for the MB challenge — a morning walk and an afternoon trip to the track for a total of 5 miles.
I recently received a dual pocket run belt from SLS3 and have used it on several outdoor runs and walks, and loaned it to Nick for a rowing workout. I’ve used other running belts in the past, and this one is far more comfortable (it doesn’t bounce around and has a wide, fully adjustable belt) and it can hold an iPhone 6+ (and comparably giant phones), keys, IDs, gels, snacks, and heavens knows what else. I look forward to continuing to use it for spring runs and races and am thrilled to host a giveaway today.
The giveaway is open for a week, and a random winner will be chosen and contacted by SLS3. Please enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below.
This is probably the last post my teeth want me to write, what with our two unplanned trips to the dentist last week… but um… YOLO. And PEEPO (that doesn’t mean anything… or at least I don’t think it does).
Easter is just a few days away, which means a lot of things. In the interest of being inclusive, I’d like to focus on one (very unimportant, not at all holy) aspect of the week. Easter time is high season for Peeps. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I do love a (pure sugar) bunny or chick this time of year.
If you’re wondering what to do with the Peeps in your basket (besides get a cavity), I’ve got a few ideas.
Ideas for my Peeps (and your Peeps, too):
Float one in your coffee or (even better) hot chocolate
Make Peeps s’mores (my recipe includes gluten free graham crackers)
Peep your neighbor’s lawn (my super fun parents have done this in the past by covering a friends’ lawn with Peeps atop grilling skewers)
I look forward to the Boston Flower and Garden Show every year. It means spring is just around the corner, and I get a chance to see how the other half (the half that can keep flowers and plants alive) lives. Plus, flowers are fun to draw and paint, so it’s the perfect place to get a bit of inspiration.
This year I brought baby Nick with me to enjoy the roses, daffodils, pansies and pitcher plants… but he snoozed through most of it while I snapped away with my trusty sidekick iPhone.
The 2016 Boston Flower and Garden Show
A few of my favorites photos from the show
The colorful beehive is my favorite. Do you think I could keep, like, tee shirts in there? Instead of bees?
It’s 70 degrees and the sun is shining in Boston, so we’re making a dash for the Harbor Walk (it’s where we do our best puppy watching). I’ll leave you with a few sunny creations from the past week or so.
What I made | 004
Materials used: Small hardbound sketchbook, watercolors, round brushes (sizes 2 and 6), Winsor and Newton drawing ink and acrylic paint.
I’ve been following along with Courtney Pilgrim’s Make Your Mark prompts — they’re the perfect way to keep up with a daily creative practice. The last painting (sort of abstracted storm clouds) is my favorite, so far. I think a weather series would be fun. The senior citizen in me just loves a good weather forecast. And trips to the post office.
Materials used: Acrylic paint, black gesso, watercolors, Winsor and Newton drawing ink, white gel pen, and a pair of small + extremely sharp scissors (I’ve got the wounds to prove it).
I can’t believe the first Get Messy Art Journal season of the year is already winding down. I’ve filled this sketchbook with lots of bright colors and happy sayings, though these pages are a bit moodier than others. The quote about breaking through is from a recent Elephant Journal post. It just seemed right to cut the edges of that page, and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.
Materials used: Cold pressed watercolor paper (9 x 12), watercolor paint and a round #2 brush.
These paintings for Grace and our two nieces came together really quickly (as things must during Grace’s naps, which are getting shorter and shorter). I almost made one for Clark… but no.