What did you think of the family portraits all in mismatched frames, painted the same color? I thought it turned out pretty rad and I kind of want to do it all over my house now... The kids and I picked out a bunch of random 5x7 frames at the thrift store for super cheap and gave them a second chance. Here's how we did it:
Just saw the spring issue of Edible Wasatch at Whole Foods! How gorgeous is this cover?! I think I might need to make some hollandaise sauce for the asparagus in my fridge... I've got an article in it about planting a healing children's garden and a nice recipe for a calming herbal tea. Click through to see Clay's illustration; it's one of my favorites yet!
Clay did a family portrait for some good friends of ours. Instead of the regular portraits he usually does, this was an individual portrait of each family member. Hung on the wall together it makes one cohesive family portrait with room to grow! Click through to see some of the individual portraits up close.
I love photographs. But there's something about an artist's rendering of a person or place that elevates it, that embues the memory with more meaning. You may have read on my blog about my biological mom who passed away when I was small, I've written about her a couple times. I feel lucky that she was an artist and a copious letter and journal writer. I have a box full of her words and pictures that have helped me get to know her, even after she was gone.
Because she had quite a few artist friends I even have pictures drawn and painted of her. I love seeing how other people saw her; it gives me a more complete picture of who she was. My favorites are the pictures she drew of me when I was small.
When I was young, maybe 13 or so, my parents hired a Russian folk group to come perform at our Christmas party. It is such a bright, vivid memory for me. The music was wonderful, there was delicious food, the house was filled with dancing and laughing. I thought it was the coolest, most magical night. And, of course, while in college I attended plenty of house concerts. There's just something great about being right there in the same room with a musician. It's intimate, personal, you get a different feel for them and their music than you do when you go to a concert. For our women's group at church, I'm in charge of organizing activities. So, despite the fact that some of our members are pushing 90, I decided that a house concert was in order...
The kids and I spent MANY hours addressing and decorating our Valentine postcards. Most of them made it to the mailbox in time. It was really fun to have Sam be more involved this year and add his own "greetings."
Last year we sent out valentines instead of Christmas cards and I loved it so much that we're doing it again this year! We just might have a tradition in the making. Not worrying about holiday cards is great; it's one less thing to do and gets me that much closer to the simple, relaxed Christmas I'm always aiming for. And besides that, after Christmas winter just sort of yawns huge and long ahead of me, and I love having something pretty and fun to break up the onslaught of short, dark, chilly days. I have a feeling other people might enjoy a spot of bright and pretty in their midwinter as well, so I love sending out stacks and stacks of cheerful Valentines.
This year, Clay illustrated a portrait of our little family and then digitally added a greeting, which he painted separately, so that we can frame the portrait, but still use the image with the greeting to print cards from.
Check out some in-progress shots and read about our printing experience after jump.
This illustration in the current issue of Edible Wasatch might be my favorite one of Clay's yet! And the recipe for molasses spice cookies that I shared is definitely a favorite at our house! Locals can pick up a copy at most locally owned food stores, restaurants, the library, Whole Foods etc. You can also read the whole issue online here. I wrote about making holiday sweets with less refined sweeteners. Do you have any favorite recipes using honey or molasses? I'm always looking for good ones!
Remember the big painting Sam did? We made a video for Piccolini.TV and you can see how he made it from the initial laying on of texture and base coat, to color selection, painting and the final result over the mantle. It makes me happy every time I see this huge splash of color in our living room:)
Sam and I have been working on a very LARGE painting. It's in part for a video project I'm working on, and partly just because I've been wanting some really big, bright art for the house. First we covered it with a thick layer of gesso for texture, let it dry, then squeegeed on that rich yellow color as a base. After that I just loaded paint onto a plate and let him go to town. I LOVE watching him create.
Hey guys! Sorry I've been MIA. Christmas is appraoching with alarming rapidity, and with impeccable timing I've earned myself a major stiff neck (as in, say a little prayer when changing lanes because I can't even turn my head!!), which has meant trips to the chiropractor (plus an unrelated trip to the dentist- whose idea was it to schedule that so close to Christmas...?). So, needless to say, I've been much like the proverbial chicken without a head. But, I've got a little something up over at Simple Organic about green art supplies today to tide you over. Hope you're all having a wonderful week and are looking forward to a lovely Christmas!
I love that our wedding announcement is now a framed portrait on our wall; it's such a beautiful way to preserve that moment in time.
If I could wrangle a little time out of Clay I'd try to convince him to do an updated family portrait (since there are now four of us!) that we could print small cards of to send out as Christmas cards (um, and also baby announcements since we haven't quite gotten around to that either...).
I love how happy this painting is! The new baby's name, weight and birthdate will be painted on a separate piece of paper and then digitally added to the pink ribbon for the one they print for baby announcements. Then he'll either leave the ribbon plain or paint their family name on it for the actual painting that will be framed.
If you're looking for a special Christmas present this year, perhaps a family portrait is just the thing!
Sam and I went on our first Mama son date, and our first outing just the two of us since Vivian was born. We have a children's theatre here in Salt Lake that does performances geared towards younger kids. Right now they're performing an adaptation of the book Ferdinand the Bull, which happens to be one of my childhood favorites.
So Sam and I got dressed up and combed our hair and headed out for an afternoon on the town. It was such a treat to do something just with Sam. And I loved being able to take him to a show that appealed to him as well as to me. He, of course, was riveted. It was his first live show and I could tell it just knocked his socks off. The theater is only a few rows deep and the floor in the middle is the stage, so everyone is right there with the action. We sat on the front row and at times we could've reached out and touched the actors.
I really enjoyed the stylish, minimalist way they did the scenery. It very much called to mind the illustrations in the book. The floor was painted green with a pattern of stylized flowers stamped across it. I was also really impressed with how well the actors portrayed animals. The woman who played Ferdinand's mom was especially good; I found myself marveling at how well she channeled a mama cow vibe. The whole show was very professional, very artfully done. I found myself being so appreciate that people put such effort into art that's geared toward children. Of course children should be exposed to the real thing, not just silly, saccharine children's entertainment, but this is not always so easy to find. We're so lucky to have it right here, practically in our backyard. And it's only a hair more expensive than going to the movies; totally do-able.
Something wonderful about the Children's Theatre is that the audience is so much more involved. No one thinks twice when a little voice calls out "Oh no! A bumble bee!" as Ferdinand is about to plant his rear end square on one. And rather than a frown, Sam got a friendly wink from an actress waiting near us for her cue, when he loudly whispered "Mom, look at that girl!" During intermission children took to the stage and ran around wildly chasing their shadows and dancing in the lights. There was such a wonderful feeling of exhuberant creativity.
Erin writes about the intersection of frugality and green living at The Green Phone Booth and The Sustainable Triangle. She lives in Raleigh, NC with her four favorite fellows (her husband and three sons). I love this post for multiple reasons; I have stacks and stacks of journals chronically every stage of my life and have found them such a valuable resource both in sorting through issues as I encounter them and in reflecting later on, I love family traditions and this sounds like such a fun and valuable one, I also love all the inherent benefits like increased literacy, family time and sharing thoughts and feelings together, learning to stick with something etc. etc. This reminds me that I need to bust out my journal and start recording some of the important things that have been happening around here lately!
"Journal time!" I call to my husband and three kids.
My husband gathers up paper and pens while I gather the the boys around the table.
"What day is it?" one kid asks. "What did I do this week?" says another.
And then the quiet of concentration settles upon us as we each record the events of the week - some in drawings, some in words, some with more words than others. When everyone is done, I'll gather up the papers and store them away in a three ring binder, our family journal that the boys can flip through at will to relive the events of the past year.
This is our Sunday night ritual, a tradition my own parents started when I was little and that I revived with my family nearly a year ago. My parents did it a little differently, providing each of us with our own hardcover journal to write or draw in each week, and to this day, I love to look back at the silly drawings and simple stories from my childhood. And although my parents abandoned the journal ritual after just a few years, I had developed a personal journaling habit that I kept up into adulthood.
Whenever I go to the thrift store I always scan the bookshelves for good, hardcover children's books. I often find a beautiful Caldecott winner for a dollar or two. Sam and I love digging into our latest treasure as soon as we get home. This latest find was a bit of a disappointment though, as four of the pages were missing! Now, I know the story of Puss in Boots well enough to fill in the gaps, but somehow I thought the pages could be put to better use...
I've been working on getting some art up on our walls. Clay has stacks of beautiful work from art school, we have various pieces we've collected throughout the years and gifts from family and friends. Yet somehow, our walls have remained depressingly bare. But, I've been remedying that very fact these past few weeks! I first gathered up all the art we want to display, then measured the pieces and wrote down the dimensions. Now, whenever I'm in a thrift store I also sort through the frames, keeping my eyes out for the sizes we need (I keep a measuring tape in my purse too). While measuring pieces of art, I decided Puss in Boots would be better served, framed and hanging over Sam's new reading nook. (I recently did an overhaul of Sam's new room and I promise I'll show more details soon! It's been a really fun project.)
With three matching frames from the thrift store and an exacto knife, we had some wonderful new art for Sam's room in no time at all. This was such a satisfying project and Sam seemed to appreciate the touch as it was the first thing he showed his dad when he got home.
Down below, just for fun, is a picture of a wedding present from my parents. It's one of my favorite pieces because of the mysterious story that goes with it. My dad, who writes for the Maine Antique Digest and does a little bit of antique buying and selling, came across a guy with an impressive art collection, which the guy asked my dad to broker. Long story short, the guy actually owned a bunch of fake art with a few real pieces sprinkled in. This piece, allegedly a Chagall (lithograph, I think?), was a gift to my dad from the guy before his shadiness came to light. We never had it checked out by anyone official, and I think I'd rather not know if it's real or a fake. We love it either way, and I love a little mystery:)
Awhile ago we had our good friend Steve take some family pictures. We wanted something a little funky, so we dressed up, got out some musical instruments and even incorporated Clay's old motorbike into a few. It's fun having a friend do the photos because you don't feel (too) silly doing offbeat stuff. Steve and his wife (who acted as his assistant) were so fun and easy to work with. They played music and made us feel nice and relaxed. I, in particular, tense up in front of a camera and do this goofy smile. But, he just kept clicking away until I finally relaxed and he was able to get a few good ones. He took the photo I use for my profile picture on the about page and various other places.
Unfortunately Sam was feeling a bit under the weather and declined to smile during the whole shoot. He just wanted to be held and make his cute, sad face. I still love the pictures of him though. In fact, we have so many pictures of Sam beaming (they're easy to get) that I kind of like having a few serious ones. I have plans to blow a few up really huge and frame them for the walls. Steve also does really amazing outdoor adventure-type photography, as well as family portraits and some commercial stuff (he also helped us with an ad for Ivory Bill). So, if you're local, or local-ish (it'd be worth the drive), look him up!
Is anyone else really excited about the Babies movie opening this weekend? I may be geeking out a bit because I was an anthropology major in college and happen to be six months pregnant at the moment. But I can't think of a movie I'd want to see more than this one!
This is what I loved about anthropology; life on the micro-level, learning how people live their day-to-day to lives, how they cook, their relationships etc. How we raise babies is such an integral part of who we are as individuals and who we are as a larger society. My sister-in-laws and I are having a little girls' afternoon out tomorrow to catch the movie. I think I'll make kettle corn...
PS I had a professor in college that lived with the Himba (the African people in the movie) and wrote a wonderful book about it. It's enjoyable even if you're not a anthro geek like me:)
PPS Sam LOVES watching the trailer on my computer. He asks to watch "the baby movie" all the time. I might have to get the DVD when it comes out...
We're running a promotion where you can get $5 off if you post about your purchase on your blog with a link back to the shop. All the illustrations are original watercolors. The plan is to continue using this color palette for awhile so if you wanted to purchase several they would look great grouped together on the wall. Keep your eyes out for more!
I saw this idea somewhere, though now I can't remember where, but someone deserves credit for the idea of turning your toddler's artwork into thank you cards. I trimmed off the bottoms of his paintings (that's really the only part with paint anyway, as he can't reach much higher on the easel!) and we wrote thank you letters for his birthday presents.
It was a lot of fun to involve him in the process. He decorated the backs of the envelopes and I asked him questions and wrote his answers in the letters. Most of the letters followed the same format. I wrote a thank you and told what Sam liked about the present, as if it were coming straight from him. Then I added "I also want to tell you..." and put the direct quotes there. Sometimes they were about the present or the person we were writing to, sometimes they were more along the lines of "I found a bug!" or "I like cupcakes!" But I like that he's learning about writing letters and I'm sure people will enjoy hearing what he wanted to share with them, no matter what it is. Today we'll take a field trip to the post office and pick up some stamps, which I'll probably let Sam put on and drop in the mail slot. It will likely be a highlight of his day:)
Unfortunately, finding time to paint is a near supernatural feat for Clay. He works so hard with the furniture business and odd jobs (web design, logo design etc.) here and there. And then when he's home he's mowing the lawn, painting the garage, or spending time with Sam. But in the last month we've squeezed in some time so that he could create some paintings (and frames!) to enter in a local art competition. I wish he had the time to paint whenever the urge struck, hopefully someday we'll get to that point. Wouldn't it be lovely to simply pursue all the creative things you love to do and leave the bread-winning and house cleaning to someone else?
The one at the top he painted while we were in Maine. And this one he painted just recently, although he's had the idea for over a year! The frames are even Clayton-made. I love this wood (it might be called lace wood, but I'm really not sure). It's so warm and rich. He's made a similar frame for a Minerva Teichert print we have in the living room, but I'm already jonesing for some more. It's crazy that we have stacks and stacks of his wonderful art, but it's just packed away not doing anyone any good! One of my goals in the upcoming weeks is to stockpile secondhand frames, paint them all a uniform color and get some of Clay's art up on the walls!
Some days I'm looking for anything, anything at all, to keep Sam busy. Luckily he's really quite good at focusing on one thing and actually has a pretty great attention span for an almost-two year old. So, with a little creativity, I can usually find something that will entertain him for maybe a solid twenty minutes. That's like a whole hour in mom time!
He really like tiny things, and things with lots of pieces, so he was thrilled when I dumped a bunch of beans and lentils in various lids and let him glue them onto paper. Turns out he wasn't so good at squeezing the glue out, it takes some serious hand strength. So, I squiggled glue all over the paper and let him go at it with the beans. He was so meticulous and concentrated. I love seeing him experience new things, and the dedication and focus that he gives projects.
Even though the point was to give me a few minutes peace while he worked on a project, the piles of beans and adorable little guy were too appealing to walk away from. So, I stayed and watched him create his art, bean by bean, even adding a few of my own. I love that he's getting old enough for projects I enjoy as well. Not that I'd make bean art myself, given a block of free time, but it's still fun to get down on my knees next to him and share in the creative process.