What kind of images of food would you include on your walls?
P.S. Daylight savings time starts this weekend! You better believe I'll be celebrating it!
A few weeks ago I went to an art bar for the first time - the kind of place where you paint and drink at the same time. It seems like a hazardous combination, but it was actually wonderful. Being in such a fun environment helped my perfectionist inclinations chill out, and I was able to enjoy doing a simple painting.
I still decided what I wanted to paint before I arrived. Since going to Bailey's Range in St. Louis over Christmas (see above), I've been wanting to do a similar style painting for our kitchen. I decided on a cherry, because every kitchen needs something cherry themed. My mom engrained this in me at a very early age. Though thinking back to out cherry kitchen growing up, I'm remembering that the tiny cherry wallpaper was actually hung upside down (the wallpaper man hadn't realized what he was doing until after he had finished the entire kitchen). So I guess that means that every kitchen needs something cherry - and a cook with a sense of humor.
I liked how this turned out so much that I'm thinking of doing another painting for our kitchen. This one will be bigger and may include a series of drinks, fruits, vegetables, or a combination of all three. We still have lots of empty wall space in our kitchen. And it obviously needs to be covered with art and paintings of food.
What kind of images of food would you include on your walls?
P.S. Daylight savings time starts this weekend! You better believe I'll be celebrating it!
I love a good road trip. Especially in winter, when the weeks and months are long, road trips help to break things up and add a bit of spice to life. I schedule road trips every couple of months and will even travel on my own since my hubby's work keeps him busy on some weekends.
Last weekend I travelled to St. Louis to see the Missouri Botanical Garden orchid show with my mom, sister, aunt, and cousins. It's become a winter tradition for us; we soak up the beautiful colors and light, and then stop by the giftshop for seeds and orchid plants. And wouldn't you know it: this year I travelled all the way to St. Louis for the show and forgot my camera on my parents' kitchen table. So instead of pictures of orchids, I'm sharing some pictures of my drive from Milwaukee to St. Louis.
Before leaving my apartment, I positioned my camera on the passenger seat so it would be handy if I saw a good potential shot. These photos were all taken by me by holding the camera towards the passenger side window and hoping for the best. I love how they turned out. They all have that accidentally-on-purpose rustic look.
The Midwest scenery feels so homey and brings me a lot of peace. I can't get enough of those big open sky sunsets. The drive to St. Louis has become one of my go to spirit boosters - along with a couple of good books on tape and my pups in the back seat. I love the time to think and relax and just be.
I haven't been writing as many spirituality related posts lately, but today I'm writing about a yearly tradition I started to help me remember the season of Lent. Lent is the forty day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter during which Christians prepare themselves through prayer, penance, sacrifice for the celebration of Easter.
Last Lent, I started a tradition of writing forty handwritten notes/letters/cards every day for the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Growing up, my parents said it meant more to do something extra for other people rather than give something up for Lent. Their thought was that God really didn't care if I didn't eat chocolate for forty days, and it wasn't doing anything to help anyone else. I hope they were right, because a God that supports abstinence from chocolate doesn't sound like a God that I'd like to spend time in Heaven with.
Though I understand the need for sacrifice and abstinence in some situations - and can see a lot of beauty in fasting traditions in various religions - self-inflicted suffering just doesn't say spritual growth for me. Regular life can already have enough challenges without feeling like you need to suffer to be closer to God. Especially during this winter. (With this being said, I can see how cutting something negative/draining/harmful out of your life could still be a good thing, I just won't be taking that approach to Lent this year.)
So instead, this Lent I'll continue my tradition of taking time everyday to remember someone I love. I see God in my relationships with others, so I will work on strengthening these. 40 letters in 40 days, 40 chances to show someone I care about them. Changing my approach to Lent helps me shift my understanding of this season to one of love and rememberance rather than a time of pain, suffering, and sadness.
If you recognize Lent, what do you do for the forty days?
tulips that look beautiful in all parts of their lifecycle
relaxing road trips, time to listen to books on tape, and views of beautiful winter scenery
my third annual trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden orchid show
a low key trip home
garden planning with my mom
a night to sit around and watch movies with my brother and sister
the joy I receive from hanging out with my little giggly cousins
paczki to celebrate Mardi Gras at work
my husband who sends me flowers, unloads our car after roadtrips, and finds the best TV shows for us to watch
Each month I'll be sharing four simple goals on the blog. You can join along by making your own four simple goals for the month - things that you might not do if you didn't commit to it, but not anything that feels overwhelming or that can't get done in a 28/30/31 day period. You can also use my monthly image (below) on your own blog if you'd like, just link back to here and share a link to your blog below in the comments section so I can check it out!
Welcome to the end of February and the (almost) beginning of March! Slowly but surely we are making it through this winter! A new month means a new set of four simple goals. Using this goal setting method worked for me really well last month, and I love writing these posts, so you can except to see them regularly here from now on.
I've never been a huge fan of March. You'd think I would be with the beginning of Spring and all the Irish celebrations, but it just always feel like thirty-one days of rain and gray slush. But I don't want to hurt your feelings March, so I promise to give you another try if you promise to warm up just a bit. Here's what I'll be doing this month.
1. Edit and print five photos: I'm thinking slightly oversized prints of five of my favorite photographs framed in our bedroom in pretty white frames would be gor-ge-o-so. I realized that I've taken a lot of good photos I really like that I've done nothing with. So time to change that.
2. Monthlong Apartment Therapy cure: Anybody else a fan of Apartment Therapy? I feel like they're a Design Sponge for the average person. They create challenges that feel doable but also practical for transforming a space. I liked the idea of doing a monthlong challenge - kind of like the four simple goals idea. You'll get something practical accomplished, but it won't be too overwhelming.
3. Purchase and start seeds: My green thumb is itching to start some planting. I've got my eyes on seeds from here and here. If I get really ambitious I'll set up a grow light station, but even if I don't, it's always a fun adventure to try growing plants from seeds. I'll be following instructions from here.
4. Read a book: With all the crafting and painting I've been doing this winter, I haven't made time for my favorite pasttime. All my "reading" has actually been listening to audio books. Which still technically counts. But I'd love to sit myself in a comfy chair with a warm cup of tea and a good read before the weather warms up too much. Because then I know all my time will be going to creating my new garden oasis.
February's four simple goals and check in
Four simple goals before 2014
Four simple goals before 2013
What are your goals for March?
Okay folks, it's become abundantly clear that winter 2014 means business. Wisconsin is working on some kind of state record for most number of days with ridiculous temperatures, and today I woke up yet again to a zero degree morning. I know we've all been doing our best to thrive this winter (I've done 18/20 things from my list - still need to throw a party and nevery insulated the windows), but it's becoming harder and harder to stay upbeat with all this cold weather. Let's just be serious. This weather needs.to.go.now. But since it's not going to, I'm going to pretend like it's time to garden.
This year my garden planning has started with a gusto in February. Usually it doesn't start until May when I'm leafing through my old seed packets the night before my first planting day. Imagining fresh herbs and fresh lettuce coming straight from the garden has given me a new burst of energy and has hopefully bought me a few more weeks of winter thriving. Though it's difficult to remember what it was even like to have a garden. Has it ever been warm enough for that? How are those flowers not dieing from a cold frost? These pictures must be from that alternate reality I used to live in where birds and bees flew around outside, and I could walk around without my nose freezing shut.
The past two years, much of my gardening energy has gone into being the director of a community garden connected to my church. I started the garden with a friend - and the help of a garden committee and other volunteers - in 2012. We have twenty five 4 x 8' garden beds, an herb circle, a couple of educational beds, a donation garden, and an edible food "forest." I rent one of the plots and have gardened it by myself the past two seasons. Since I'll be living further from the garden this year (not just across the street anymore), I asked a few friends to share the plot with me. I'll also be splitting the garden director duties with a friend - SCORE! - which I am so happy about. Both of these developments are super exciting, and I think they should work out really well.
In our 4 x 8' plot, we're planning to grow lettuce, tomatoes, beets, carrots, radishes, beans, cucumbers, kale, basil, and cilantro. We're hoping to do some succession planting throughout the season and possibly extend our season into November with the help of some cold frames. We'll be supplementing our harvest with the communty garden's herb circle, farmer's markets, and our community supported agriculture box.
In addition to the community garden, my big labor of love this year will be transforming our front deck into an urban garden oasis. I have a vision in my head of it being absolutely gorgeous -with lots of great smells, colors, and tastes - with some twinkle lights thrown in of course. I've been super inspired by Gayla Trail, author of the blog You Grow Girl. She is a gardening master for the modern woman, has written some amazing gardening books, and has the ability to transform small spaces into gardening paradises. See below:
I've never taken on a project quite like this before. I've learned to grow a season's worth of veggies in a 4 x 8' space, but I've never ventured into the realm of container gardening on a deck. Something about it makes me more nervous (probably the newness of it). The biggest challenge will be finding and arranging various size containers to make an interesting deck-garden design - and to find someone to water everything when we go out of town. Though I have a finished product vision in my head, I imagine it will probably evolve each season for as long as Paul and I are in our current apartment.
Here's a not-so-great picture of our deck from last summer. It extends maybe ten feet off the front of our house then stretches across the whole front length of our house. The picture gives you a basic idea of what I'll be working with (beagles included).
I'd like to have a variety of colors and textures and also plant veggies and herbs that I'd want to have quick, easy access to. So lettuce, oregano, basil, cilantro, mint, parsley, lavender, and sage are high on my list. I'd also like to have some colorful edibles like strawberries and nasturtiums. To add some height, I might add a tomato plant or a vine type plant like beans or peas. Reading Gayla's books has taught me that very few veggies are off limits when it comes to container gardening. The only limit is really my imagination - which is both exciting and scary.
I'll be stocking up on some seeds this weekend when I go to the Botanical Garden's annual orchid show with my mom, sister, and cousins. And then, if things go according to plan, I'll start growing some seeds inside in the next month or two.
What would you like to grow this season?
P.S. Have you ever signed up for a community supported agriculture box? This will be my fifth season doing it. See my post here for more information about it. When you find a CSA program that's a good fit for you it can be an excellent way to eat fresh veggies all summer long with the added benefit of supporting your local farmers and local economy!
I just finished reading A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen. It took all of about fifteen minutes to read its 50 short pages (there's lots of pictures and minimal text. Quindlen summarized my philosophy on life right now better than I would be able to do. Stated simply: life is meant to be lived and all of its little moments and details are meant to be enjoyed.
Here's my favorite section. I thought it was so good that it was worth sharing in its entirety.
C'mon, let's be honest. We have an embarassment of riches. Life is good.
I don't mean in any cosmic way. I never think of my life, or my world, in any big cosmic way. I think of it in all its small component parts: the snowdrops, the daffodils; the feeling of one of my kids sitting close beside me on the couch; the way my husband looks when he reads with the lamp behind him; fettucine Alfredo; fudge; Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice. Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of grey cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummonded, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won't happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.
What special moments make your life what it is?
At the beginning of the year, I shared some photos from a trip my mom and I took to a knitting store in St. Louis. I picked out some gorgeous yarn at the store, and I finally have photos from a finished knitting project to share! This is a cowl - the first project I've ever completed on round needles! Who's got two thumbs and is super proud of herself? This girl! (Though my skills still pale in comparison to my mom's knitting skills. She does amazing stuff!)
I used a pattern my mom found on Ravelrie (are you on that site? apparently it's like pinterest for knitters). I plan on making one more cowl before I go onto a new type of project. And since this winter is so fierce and cold and never ending, I'll still have plenty of time to wear it. Don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing....
Have you been making any fun projects this winter?
my weekly bouquets of flowers
a temporary break in the cold weather that helped me defrost for two whole days
homemade ice cream
new experiences with new friends
attending roller derby bouts with old friends
the excitement that comes from learning new skills (like 180 derby turns!)
check in texts from my mom
a weekend to paint and watch old Buffy episodes
an impomptu margarita date and burrito leftovers
time to knit on my morning commute to work
my husband who puts air in our tires, replaces our windshield wipers, and washes our car
February is more than half way over (eek!), and I thought it would be a good time to check in with how I'm doing with the four simple goals I set for myself this month. You can check here if you missed my initial post on February's four simple goals.
This month I wanted to 1) limit my Facebook visits to once a day 2) plan my garden 3) take an overnight trip with Paul and 4) decorate for the season. I'm happy to say that three goals are well on their way to being complete. Paul and I took a quick overnight trip to Madison for Valentine's Day, and I've added some cute winter/Valentine's Day decorations to our apartment - I'll share more photos before the month is up.
I've also confirmed with some friends that we'll be sharing a community garden plot this season, and I've got some ideas for what I'll be growing. I also have visions of transforming our front porch into a mini urban garden oasis in the style of Gayla Trail. I think it could be awesome. And the pups don't seem to go after plants much, so hopefully the added foliage won't bother them - they seem to be happy as long as they can see what's happening on the street.
I'm embarassed to say that my Facebook visits are still happening way more than once a day. I did a great job the first week of this challenge of only checking a couple of times a day. I was true to the spirit of the challenge which was to stop myself from just mindlessly clicking the Facebook tab and scrolling through posts for way longer than was necessary. It helped increase my productivity with other work that had to be done on the computer. I've slacked the past couple of weeks, but I'm hopeful I can get back on track in this last week.
How are you doing with your February goals?
P.S. How gorgeous are these flower photos? I loved how these roses were drying and snapped a few pictures of them before I left for work one morning. I played around with some filters and decided on a filter that created a beautiful old-timey feel. I'm pretty surprised by how well they turned out. It makes me want to edit more pictures so I can print them off to display in our apartment. Did I just create a March goal for myself?
P.P.S. If I sold these photos as print would anyone be interested in ordering one? Just trying to gauge interest.