Monday, January 28, 2013

Sky's the Limit: Photo Challenge

This weekend I was craving some time spent outdoors with my camera.  I didn't want to do my usual thing though -- go to a nearby trail and photograph nature.  I love doing that, but I needed something different.  A little research on the computer and, my fellas and I drove out to the overlook at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.  They have a great little spot overlooking a couple of runways and the Charlotte skyline is in the background.

I used my 55-250mm lens and was able to capture some pretty good shots.  I'm excited to go back to the overlook at different times of day and experiment a bit more.  This mini challenge to find something different to photograph was just the inspiration I needed.  Stretching outside of the norm is usually what helps me become re-inspired.

Have any other photo challenge ideas?  I'd love to read about them.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Heart This Week

What a week!  A busy work week, carting kids to their various activities, catching up on laundry, and trying to find time to create but still get some sleep...well, I didn't bring my "A Game" to my photography for this post.  I think you'll get the picture though (PUN!)...

It's not the winter storm that people make it out to be here in SC, but seeing this and knowing I can just cozy up indoors for the night makes me happy...

I've neglected my Gratitude Journal but this week realized the need to jot down a few things to maintain perspective...

My 9 year old son's stories...I look forward to new stories written by him about as much as one looks forward to the next Great American Novel...

Finding toys in strange arrangements around the house.  Is this guy doing a victory dance?  Directing traffic?  Or saving the Universe?  Maybe he's testing a new deodorant (that appears to be failing miserably)...

(Relatively) New Art Work...I bought this around Christmas, hung it up a few weeks ago, but felt appreciative of it today so thought I'd share.  I purchased this print from a very talented artist at The Black Apple shop on Etsy.  I love this little one...

My lovely Aunt lent me her sewing machine for a bit so I can try it out and see if I really do want to buy one.  It is one of my goals this year.  Last Sunday, my Mom and Aunt gave me a tutorial on how to set it up and use it.  I'm hoping to steal some time this weekend and play some more...

Finally...after a busy, but productive, week...

Happy Weekending!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Textured Scarf No. 1

Remember the yarn I adored a couple of weeks ago?  I bought it without having a project in mind and then decided to make a scarf for myself. 

The yarn is a wool blend and I used a size G (4.25mm) crochet hook.  I used a double crochet stitch throughout and I worked in the outer hoops to add some texture.

For the green ends, I still used the same double crochet/outer loops but turned the rows to make the ends look more finished.  Then I single crocheted around the outside for a green border.  I think it completes the look with the green ends.

I am really happy with the end result.  Perfect timing now that the weather is getting cold again in the Carolinas.  Hope you enjoy your week and stay warm!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Heart This Week: Finding Beauty

I've had a fantastic weekend.  I spent time with great friends, watched my boys play basketball, had a date night with my husband and spent time at the lake with my parents, aunt, and grandmother.  This morning I woke up feeling emotional, but in a good way.  Sipping coffee, listening to The Avett Brothers, reading through blogs that inspire me, and suddenly I began to feel overwhelmed by beauty in this world.  My heart felt swollen and I felt like a very small, but important, cog in this enormous and beautiful machine.  I realized that I have felt this before and, as one who often tries to ignore my emotions, I always just thought I felt out of sorts and tried to avoid it.  I've been working on that the past couple of years - allowing myself to feel what I feel and just ride it out, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for me.  Today it dawned on me, this feeling isn't bad - it's pretty wonderful.  To be completely overwhelmed with beauty and what I have in this world, this one life, to the point that it overwhelms my whole self and makes me more appreciative. 

Does this mean that my life is perfect and I live in a dream world?  Heck no!  It just means that finding beauty is part of our journey and is possible to do, in most situations.  I hope you can find beauty and embrace it too.

Quote by Frank Lloyd Wright

Friday, January 18, 2013

Snail Mail

Snail mail - I know that's supposed to be a criticism about how long regular mail moves compared to all of our electronic and online versions of sending information to one another but, I think it's an endearing term.  Snails are slow.  Slow is good though.  It forces us to stop and smell the roses.  It helps us to be more present. Slow cooking often brings more flavor out of the food and slow eating helps you to refrain from overeating and enjoy the company around you.  Slow mail is not such a bad thing.

Most days my mailbox contains bills, junk mail, or an occasional magazine.  There are those days though -- those wonderful days when it contains a little piece of joy.  Birthday and holiday cards are always fun to receive, however, my favorite is, "Just Because" mail.  It doesn't happen often but, when it does, it brightens up the rest of my day.  My Buddy, Gina, surprises me sometimes with a funny card or note.  My mom has done the same.  I like receiving emails, texts, and online messages but they don't have the same uplifting quality that a letter or card in the mailbox has.  Is it the 46-cent stamp that gives a letter the edge?  Or maybe it is the thought and care it takes to send a letter?  Rather than firing off an email and hitting send in under a minute, it might be the process involved in sending a letter.

When I was a kid, I had intermittent pen pals.  I always secretly wished to have one of those pen pals who last a lifetime.  Any time I've participated in a pen pal group though, I usually get the dud who stops writing after one or two letters.  Then I have to stop writing so I don't become that weird, stalker girl who keeps sending mail to a stranger. 

I have definitely slacked off over the years with sending letters through the mail.  I miss receiving regular letters too.  I have a box of old letters I received from friends and family over the years.  I went to France for three weeks as a teenager and stayed with a family there.  I have saved letters from my family and friends during that time because they helped me with my homesickness. 

When I was 19 years old, I moved from Ohio to South Carolina with my family.  I had lived in Ohio my entire life and it was a difficult transition.  Even though email was gaining popularity at that time, I much preferred letters and cards at that point.  Seeing my friend's handwriting and smudging the ink made me feel connected - it was my life line to the home I used to know.

I currently have some stamps, some new pens, some new cards, and a long weekend.  I also have some ideas for handmade postcards.  I hope that snail rests up - he has some work ahead of him.

Enjoy your Friday, your weekend, and a slower pace!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January Color: White

I miss color during the winter.  I grew up in the north but have lived in the south for 12 years now.  Our winters are pretty mild.  We rarely have snow or ice, we have spurts of warm weather sometimes, it doesn't really get cold until January, and it's usually over by the end of February, for the most part.    The trees are bare and our Bermuda grass turns brown and dormant.  I struggle to stay inspired outside during the winter months.

I want to incorporate a monthly blog post where I pick a color and then find inspiration online in that color.  It's a great way to stay inspired and I keep color boards on Pinterest as well.  To me, January is perfect for a White inspiration board.  Different shades of white, the contrast of white against other colors...I think it's perfect for this winter month and it has been fun searching for inspiration!

Below are some beautiful uses of white that have inspired me (you can access the links below the photo collage).  Feel free to share inspiration that you have found during the winter months.  Do you go for white or do you crave color?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Buddy Book

It has been quite a while since I mentioned my journal obsession and, more importantly, the Buddy Book (or Buddy Books, as it were).  However, I am true to my word so here is a glimpse into the Buddy Book.  This is not something I typically share but I figured I can give you a little peek.

To understand the Buddy Book, you need to understand the buddies who own it.  My dear friend, Gina, and I have been friends for about 20 years now.  We met in the sixth grade but she didn't care much for me at that point.  Something about a boy...if you can believe that about sixth graders.  I would say it was the end of seventh grade to the beginning of eighth grade when we truly became friends and stayed the best of friends through high school and on.  We have lived 500 miles apart since we were 19 or 20 years old but have managed to stay extremely close.  She has stuck by me through thick and thin -- graduations, boyfriends, illness, eating disorders, depression, marriage, miscarriages, child rearing, starting an Etsy shop together, dreaming creative dreams together, etc.  She is a true friend and I can't imagine my life without her.

Over the years, we have kept in touch via telephone, snail mail, email, social media, text, etc.  In 2004, Gina had an AMAZING idea!  She sent me a sketchbook for Christmas that she had started for us to keep track of silly, mundane, normal, abnormal, big, little, important, trivial, and all other things that happen to us in our day to day lives.  Things that we might forget to share on our next phone call or email.  Ridiculous things that we thought were funny.  Doodles when we are in a boring meeting or class.  A little piece of our brains and hearts etched creatively into a journal.  Each of us would keep the book for several months and use it as much as we could, then mail it to the other.  It was genius!  The Buddy Book was born.

I always love opening the mailbox and finding the book -- sometimes I know it's coming and sometimes it's a surprise.  Sometimes life gets in the way and the Buddy Book collects dust but it's always there waiting for us to come back to it.  I really like responding to things she wrote like we're having a long drawn out conversation.

At one point we had two Buddy Books in circulation so we would each have one at the same time.  Then we would try to swap at the same time to see what the other had added.  We've journaled deep thoughts and feelings.  We've also added things like this photo below...

Over the last couple of years, the Buddy Book has taken a bit of backseat to life.  However, I know it's not gone forever.  It's still there, waiting for both of us to pick it back up and start again.  Just like our friendship - sometimes we go through periods where we only talk a couple of times in a month, while other times we talk each week (sometimes a couple of times a week) - it takes effort to maintain a close friendship but we ebb and flow just like life does.

Gina is an artist to her soul and she encourages and inspires me to continue on my own creative path.  When we are able to get together in person, I always walk away with a ton of ideas and excitement to try something new.  She is an adventurer and lover of life.  She is witty and kind and thoughtful.  She is my buddy.

I don't know where I would be in life without her.  I know we will be buddies until we are old and gray, laughing about ridiculous inside jokes, eating ice cream, and swapping Buddy Books when the mood strikes.  I am so happy she chose me as her friend.

So, there you have some snippets of the Buddy Book.  What kind of things do you do to keep in touch with friends???

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Neverending Blanket

It started in January of 2011.  Not one to follow crochet patterns, I found one in a book that I liked.  The afghan in the book was a solid color but I loved the idea of stripes in different shades of blue and gray.  I started working on it earnestly for a few weeks.  Then I stopped for a few months.  Then the cycle would ebb and flow --- determination to finish it, followed by boredom and the need for smaller projects.  Off and on, off and has been an endless cycle.

Well, no more!  I will finish it in 2013 no matter what --- no matter what being that I may be finishing it up just as my friends and family are kissing and clinking glasses while the ball drops to usher us into 2014.  Finished it will be though -- I'm serious.  No really, I am.

It's kind of pretty, right?  I was very ambitious to make my first non-baby blanket a rather large one.

Initially I was going to make it as a gift for someone - maybe a friend or family member.

The longer I let this process go, I started to think, "Whoever gets this as a gift better LOVE it!"

As this continued, I started to reduce the list of giftees to the people who I think would really love it.  People who would be so touched that tears would come to their eyes and all of my work and procrastination would pay off at once.  Self-centered, I know, but a labor of love like this becomes very important to the laborer.

Now I'm thinking of just keeping it for myself.  I can wrap up in it and remember the journey to finish this mammoth thing.  My husband says I can definitely never sell it because I would have to charge too much money just to feel like my labor paid off and not end up irritated and convinced that the stranger who purchased my blanket just threw it in a closet one day and left it to wither.  I can't do that to you, Blanket.

All joking aside, I am quite proud of how it looks.  The crochet pattern is different than what I've done before and I am still in love with the stripes and colors.  It's soft and warm and will be wonderful to cuddle under before year's end.  I need to finish it this year -- for my own sense of accomplishment.  I also need it as a reminder the next time I decide to tackle a large crochet project.

My neverending blanket will have an end, darn it!  Even Bastian and Atreyu found an ending and so can I!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I Heart This Week

"I Heart This Week" is a new weekly feature I will be doing in 2013 on my blog.  It forces me to make sure I'm capturing weekly photos of the things I love that week - some may be silly, some may be serious.  Mostly I just want to always stay present in the moment and not take things for granted. 

I heart this week:

Morning frost and light...

New candle that burns while I work in my office and gives me a sense of calm...


Natural lens flare over my Crepe Myrtle in the morning...

Finding a new yarn unexpectedly and absolutely loving it...

Loving the above yarn so much that I went back to the store two days later and bought more in different colors...

A new, colorful tote bag gifted to me by my mother-in-law for a specific purpose:  to carry my craft supplies with me in style...

I definitely heart this week!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Happy New Year!  Welcome, 2013. 

I rang in the new year last night with loved ones and friends.  It was filled with talking, laughing, silly children, spirits, good food, and fun.  I am thankful that I was able to celebrate with a wonderful group of people.

I am sitting here on this first morning of 2013 and my heart is full of mixed emotions.  Hopeful and excited for new challenges and experiences in 2013 and a little sad to say goodbye to 2012 which was a growing year for me.  I feel full of ideas which can be a little overwhelming and exciting at the same time.

There is a trend in blogs right now to pick one word as your focus for the new year.  I'm jumping on the bandwagon because I like this idea so much better than resolutions.  In the past, my resolutions tended to be self-effacing -- lose weight, get in shape, look better, be better, etc.  I don't know if it is my age (35) or just frustration with our society shaping my view of not being good enough but I really don't want that to be my focus this year.  So, I'm going with a word for the year because I see it as potential.  Today the word may inspire certain goals within me but I'm interested to see how those goals change as the year changes; as I change.

The word I've chosen is Vitality.  Webster's had a couple of definitions for Vitality that I liked:
1 - The peculiarity distinguishing the living from the nonliving
2 - Capacity to live and develop; also : physical or mental vigor especially when highly developed
power of enduring; lively and animated character

I want new experiences.  I want to be more active.  I want to be healthy and strong.  I want to grow my blog and inspire people.  I want to create every day.  I want to be peculiar and alive!

In addition, my creative goals this year:
1 - Learn to knit
2 - Buy a sewing machine and learn to use it
3 - Stretch myself in crochet and learn a new technique
4 - Finish my seemingly never ending crocheted blanket (more to come on that)
5 - Grow some of the food I eat this year

Do you have any goals or words that will inspire you in 2013?