Today: Happy Weekend.

If you’re reading this, I’m already gone… to the beach.  These are the days to soak up as much of this New England summer as we can, commit every moment possible to memory, get lots of sand stuck in the bottom of our canvas bags, spring for the medium large sundae and just simply enjoy life above 70 degrees.  

Because, like these incredible summer sunsets Mother Nature has been painting for us lately, these days are all too fleeting.

Happy Weekend, my friends.

Also On Tap for Today

  • Why you should bury your cooler from The Kitchn
  • Pretending to underpack (I always panic and overpack at the last second)
  • Looking forward to some beach yoga

What On Tap for the rest of your summer?

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 3

So I got a tiny bit brave today and made my first Periscope broadcast, doing a little flip-through of my sketchbooks and art journals.  You can watch it here… until it expires and vanishes… or whatever happens to Periscopes?  Clearly I have a lot to learn — most specifically about positioning my tripod and iPhone and sketchbooks and so on.  Oh, and about not rambling.

I got a few art journal pages done in response to this week’s Get Messy Art Journal Challenge, and since it’s Thursday… here’s a peek at what I’ve been working on.

Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 3

Materials used: Tissue paper (applied with matte gel medium), magazine cut-outs (letters and a lovely lady), black ink, Micron pens, gold ink spray.

I’ve learned so much from the rest of the Get Messy crew and love scrolling through their images on Instagram (check out the hashtag #getmessyartjournal) and on individual members’ blogs.  I was channeling the talented Julia when I drew on that magazine cut-out and love how the whole spread came together.

I was sort of thinking about divinity and an appreciation and value for self when working on these pages, and how those may lead to serenity.

Materials used: Watercolors (applied with a small round brush), magazine tear out, brush pen, black Micron (size XS, I think), glue stick

A sort of different approach to serenity (and one I think is critical), is bearing a sense of humor.  There’s so much we can’t control.  Big things and little things.  It helps to laugh.

I think I was having one of those days while working on this page.

Materials used: Magazine cut-out, black watercolor paint, white Sakura Gelly Roll pen, gel medium.

I like to think of these next two pages as sisters.  For the first, I dug into my stash of floral arrangement cut-outs (there is something oddly soothing about cutting out flowers, and I’ve quickly amassed quite the collection) and paired one with a really beautiful quote about the passage of time.  

Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs.  And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven.  You will go away with old, good friends.  And don’t forget when you leave why you came.

–Adlai E. Stevenson

Aren’t flowers the perfect reminder that life is fleeting and meant to be both beautiful and appreciated?

Materials used: Black Micron pen (XS), Sakura watercolors (applied with a detail brush), purple and yellow gouache

Using the magazine cut-out above for guidance, I quickly sketched an imperfect version of that same floral arrangement and pulled an excerpt from the Stevenson quote to practice a bit of lettering.  I really like working with watercolors and gouache on the same page — the finishes are so different.

I love how the pages look side by side. (If I do say so myself… yikes.)

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s something you’re learning or working on this week?

Today: Beach bag upgrades.

The sign of a great summer: My beach bag is getting more use than my handbag.

Whether you’re toting around a beach bag, a pool bag, a gym bag or a something-else bag, I’ve got a few upgrades to share.  Things that make my life a little bit easier and a little less messy.  

Beach bag upgrades

Some of these beach bag upgrades are technically baby items, but don’t let that scare you off.  And if you find yourself childless yet running to Babies ‘R Us after reading this post, allow me to either 1. talk you out of it (with one child and another on the way, that place still terrifies me) 2. offer you one of the 19 about-to-expire 20% off coupons I have crammed in my wallet.

A wet bag

This should really be called “a prevent everything else in your beach bag from getting wet… bag.”  We use this one from Skip Hop, which is on the small side, but is perfect for storing my wet bathing suit, Grace’s wet bathing suit, and at least one towel.  If you’re heading to the pool or a friend’s house, wet bags are a great place to store your change of clothes (which can be swapped out for wet suits).  This also works for sweaty gym gear.

I like the mesh pocket on the outside of the Skip Hop bag — it’s perfect for stashing keys and a few dollars, or an extra swim diaper or two.  The snap handle is great too — I often attach it to the outside of our beach bag if we need a little extra room.

A giant carabiner

I sort of wonder what life was like before I discovered stroller hooks. I also sort of wonder what I would get done if I weren’t wondering about things like life before stroller hooks. This thing is essentially a giant, glorified carabiner.  It’s padded on one side, allowing you to comfortably carry a bunch of bags or items that have been clipped together.  

During the non-summer (I’m just not ready to say winter, or fall even), I use our hook most often when trying to make a single trip into our condo with the groceries and Grace.  I keep one in my car, and another in or attached to whichever bag I am carrying.  In the summer, however, it’s perfect for securing extra items to our beach bag (sand toys, towels) or keeping multiple sets of keys from getting lost.

Reusable snack bags

I use these reusable snack bags to store small items that, like keys, have a tendency to go missing in the very bottom of our beach bag– my phone, lip balm, hair elastics, band-aids, and sunblock sticks.  Again, these work for your gym bag, too.  The larger size can take the place of my wallet (because who wants to bring their entire wallet… 20% off coupons and all… to the beach?) and the smaller sizes are great for collecting shells and other treasures.  They can be easily washed or wiped clean.  

Also: I am obsessed with the patterns on these bags.  They make me want to start designing fabric.  If I had any clue how to do that.  Which I don’t.  Mostly because I am busy thinking about life before stroller hooks.

A waterproof camera

This is a bit of a splurge, but I bought a waterproof camera before our honeymoon to St. John and I’m so glad I did.  We’ve been able to capture photos from amazing snorkeling trips and swimming in tropical caves to Grace’s first swimming lessons and days spent at the Cape with our family.  In my dreams, I am the sort of person who swims under waterfalls and regularly partakes in SUP yoga in the harbor… but um, it’s perfect for my less cool, less adventurous (real) life.

We have an older version of the Nikon Coolpix Waterproof AW100 series.  It is waterproof up to 100 feet, is shockproof and has built in GPS/world map.  It seems like there are more options available (and at better prices) these days, and the new Nikons have built in wifi to easily transfer images to your smart phones.  If you’re going to invest in a camera, I highly recommend getting a waterproof camera float, too.  This can be used to carry the camera… but also lessens the chance of your camera disappearing, sinking, or sneakily bodysurfing ashore without you.  

Speaking of bodysurfing, I’ve got a wave to catch.  Toodles!

P.S. This is not a sponsored post, but this post does contain several Amazon affiliate links.  As always, I greatly appreciate your support.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you upgrading these days?  Has anyone figured out how to make laundry do itself?

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 2

This season, the Get Messy group (join the challenge here!) is focusing on serenity.  I couldn’t help but laugh as I sat down tonight (eleventh hour, for life) to start another round of pages for this week’s Get Messy Thursdays post.  This week has me craving some serenity.  But hey.  So life goes.

get messy art journal

This photo was taken before the sun set… the others, not so much.  In fact, if I get my act together, I’ll replace them tomorrow with ones less likely to give you a migraine.

Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 2

Materials used: Tissue paper (pale purple and black + white striped), alphabet stamps, black archival ink, Mod Podge (applied with an old gift card), black + white striped washi tape, white gel pen, super old magazine clipping.

Today was sort of the ultimate Throwback Thursday.  I spent the morning helping my mom clean out my childhood bedroom and Lord, have mercy, did I have a lot to toss.  There were a few things worth saving (I can’t wait until Grace fits into my kindergarten and grammar school sweatshirts), a few things I understood why I kept at the time (there was a whole box dedicated to things I thought I needed when applying for my first job), a few things I am glad I kept (a paper from a philosophy class I took with like, the worst professor ever…  His comment below the grade was, “but as you know, I disagree with you.” Hahahahaha. Yep.).  And there were things I thought I threw out (literally and emotionally) years ago. Stuff has such a way of bringing up… well, stuff.

I saved a few things that seemed perfect for art journaling, including a few magazine tear outs (including the one used above), photo prints from years ago, and drawings from a studio art class I took during my senior year at BC.  I did not, however, save a piece I drew and titled “4 cups of water: a study.”  More like, 4 pieces of crap.

I love how these first pages came out.  The tissue paper was really fun to play with — I am looking forward to adding a few more colors and layers to future pages.  The white stripes sort of disappeared into the white background, making the black stripes perfect for writing on with white pen.  I quickly listed a few reasons why I am not feeling so serene (a lovely, but teething child…) and a few ways to bring some serenity into my day.

Materials used: The sérénité page from an old French dictionary, an Instax photo taken at Castle Island in Southie, a photo I took years ago of the Brewster flats at low tide, liquid acrylic paint, white gesso, Sakura watercolors, Faber Castel PITT artist pens (sizes XS and 1.5), gold ink, white gel pen, good ol’ glue stick

This turned out a little more scrapbook-y and collage-y than intended, but I think you get the gist: I feel most serene by the ocean.  It must be the mermaid pisces in me.  Also: I just realized I don’t know how to draw a fish.

Materials used: Black gesso (applied with a palette knife), white acrylic paint (applied with a small round brush), white gel pen, magazine clipping, grey paper, vinyl mailbox letters, plastic moon overlay (from a Studio Calico kit, I think), glue stick

I like this quick, little page, but after I finished, I was like… um, gazing at the moon for hours sounds both lovely and… kind of weird.  I do love the moon, though.  I am always excited to see it hanging up there.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s the most wonderful thing you’ve held onto since childhood?

Today: Six minute hummus plate.

I promise, there is hummus under all that goodness.

When it’s approximately 9,012 degrees out, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven or serve something hot ‘n heavy to friends and family.  These super easy hummus plates look gorgeous, they’re the perfect way to incorporate all the fresh produce available this time of year, and… they take, like six minutes to make.  

Granted, you could make your own hummus… but that’s more time spent in the kitchen and less time spent floating on a pool noodle.

Six minute hummus plate

Vegetarian, gluten free (contains dairy); Serves 1 pregnant woman named Elizabeth, or up to 6 people… sort of depends on the crowd.  


  • 1 8 oz. container of hummus (I used a zingy lemon hummus from Whole Foods Market)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 (small) red onion, chopped
  • 2 (small) sweet bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest


  • Minute one: Wash your hands.  Safety first, hummus second.
  • Minutes two-four: Chop your vegetables as instructed above.
  • Minute five: Evenly spread hummus in a shallow serving plate or platter (I used a ceramic tart pan).
  • Minute six: Artfully (or haphazardly, it’s totally up to you) top your hummus with feta, vegetables, dill, a little more feta, and some lemon zest.

It’s summer.  Everything should be this easy.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever made with a pool noodle?  I’m personally a big fan of tying one in a knot (so it looks like a pretzel), sitting on it, and pretending I can float upright.  So… there’s that.


Today: Happy Weekend.

From my tomatoes to yours, Happy Weekend.

I hope you’re keeping cool and eating Caprese salads for every meal.  Unless you’re lactose intolerant… or, like, allergic to basil… obvi.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your weekend?

Today: Currently | July 2015

If I see or hear one more back to school commercial…  Lord, help me.  Because of all that snow, the last day of school in Boston this year was June 29th, which was basically five minutes ago.  So, please… let’s keep those school supplies out of sight for at least another month.  

[Also, this is the first time since I was in kindergarten that my life doesn’t essentially revolve around an academic calendar.  So that’s kind of weird.  After graduating, my work was largely tied to school partnerships and while I never had a summer break, things always really ramped up in September.  Now that I’m home, I think Grace, Clark and I will spend September at the beach.  Or, like… doing laundry.]

This isn’t a post about graphing calculators (do kids still use those?), though… right?  Right.

Currently | July 2015

Currently feeling…

  • Thrilled to have shared our news with you and grateful for all the love and support
  • Like it’s 95 degrees and I am pregnant (because it is, and I am)
  • Excited about our upcoming vacation
  • Like life has changed so much in the past two months.  “Clean out the pantry” has been on my to do list since June, I sometimes forget to shower, and I caught myself having a semi-serious (albeit one-sided) conversation with my dog yesterday.  But I don’t think I could be happier being home with Grace. 

Currently eating…

  • As much fresh produce as I can get my hands on– tomatoes and berries, especially.  I loved our trips to the farmers market (here and here) this month.
  • 900 popsicles a day

Currently watching…

  • “On the Way to School,” a beautiful documentary about several children and the challenges the overcome (in most cases, daily) to get to school.  It’s surprisingly uplifting.  And I want everyone to watch it. (It’s available on Netflix.)
  • File these next two under much less enlightened: Candidly Nicole on Hulu+ (fellow Simple Life fans, rejoice!) and Naked and Afraid XL on Discovery.  Both make me laugh, like, a lot.

Currently creating…

  • Some fun little sketches and paintings in my new sketchbook (details here).  I got out of the habit of painting daily this month, but have started to get back on track this week.
  • Playlists galore.  We’ve been in the car a lot (going from one fun thing to the next), and making good use of that Spotify subscription.
  • A plan for the second half of the summer and a list of everything I’d love to do, see, and enjoy
  • Lots of Chatbooks (they’re 20% through today with the code HOLDON) — I am officially obsessed after making a little book of photos from our 4th of July on the Cape.

Currently enjoying…

  • Lots of great workouts.  I absolutely love the outdoor bootcamp (yes, even in the blazing heat) I’ve been attending and have started working in prenatal yoga videos a couple times a week.  
  • Swimming as much as possible.  We’ve been in the water a lot this month, from swimming class with Grace to pool days at my parents’ house and dips in the ocean in Southie and on the Cape.
  • An unusual (but welcomed) desire to make plans.  No one would mistake me for a social butterfly, but maaaaan, I love spending time with our friends and family.

Also On Tap for Today:

What were some of your July highlights?


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?