Friday, August 28, 2015

Grace For Today.

School started for real around here.
Can I just get an Amen?
It's a GOOD program for Miss B this year. It's full and exciting and has so much to offer for her last year of formal education.
All that worrying and anxiety and waking up and fretting?
It had to have been worth something.
Possibly just for me being able to see a LOT of grace in the aftermath of nail biting and prayer.

Since the beginning of school 
I have also had 
in the art studio.
Beautiful grace here.

New things are happening and it's fun.
Painting, pens, acrylics, ink....
I love finding paint in my hair later on in the day.

And then, as life goes, Brenna got sick and was home for a day.
Wrenches in the day, plans out the window, tired from a night up and down with her. 
I always try to make sense of these times and it just doesn't work, does it?

art journal entry done with acrylic paint pens and sharpie

Maybe that's the grace part. 
Stuff happens, it just IS, and here is today, so roll with it and give thanks as I go.

art journal page done with acrylic paint markers and sharpie

And maybe a nap.
That's grace, too.

linking to Paint Party Friday

Friday, August 7, 2015

Twenty-One. A Birthday Message To My Daughter.

Twenty one years ago, on August 11th, our family's life, MY life was changed.
Twenty one years ago on a stifling hot August morning, we struggled to welcome a new life.
How could 7 pounds possibly bring so much emotion? So many unanswered questions? So much change?

People didn't come into that hospital twenty one years ago tip-toeing or whispering. 
No, they came right in over that threshold and they hugged.
 They came through the doors and wrapped their arms around us and said things like, "Congratulations!" "She's beautiful." "We love you and are here for you." 
They sat with us as we wept and processed, begged for answers and stared into space.
They stayed with us until we fell asleep and then-only then did they whisper good night and  tip-toe out of the room.

Those people continued to come and they brought flowers and gave my eldest a t-shirt that celebrated her being a big sister. Those blessed people brought meals, welcomed our girl into our church, into their arms and gave  more hugs and more love and the most amazing thing began to happen.

We began to celebrate her as well.

It didn't happen over night.
No, those nights were long and fraught with many medical decisions and exhaustion and fear and searching for answers.

Still, the joy came.
And when it did- oh! For the love of all things holy, it came crashing in.

It came in the form of the smell of new baby and soft, downy snuggles.
Joy came in the beaming pride of an older sibling, one who just knew that this was the sister she was waiting for. 
Joy snuck up on us in the form of blue eyes as deep and as wide as the sky. Eyes that were supposedly "almond shaped" but to us, they were absolutely perfect for her-absolutely lovely.
After four years of waiting,  joy crashed in when I heard the first response of "I love you" and always, always in sloppy wet kisses.
Joy was found in determination and spunk, curiosity, and a smile as wide as the heavens.

I would be a liar if I said my life was just hunky-dory. That my life is one continual joyous journey.

Instead, what I think I/we are to give light to is that we still have exhausting nights that are fraught with medical decisions, hard life decisions, fear, bone-deep tiredness, feelings of being alone and a continual search for answers.
There are still tears and waves of grief, still times where we sit down and say to ourselves, "What now?, Which way? How can we possibly gear up for this?"

And yet, in the midst of it all-
There is still joy.

A deep, unexplainable joy that runs through us when we celebrate with this girl, for this life, her accomplishments, who SHE is.

A joy that seriously has no words when this girl defies the odds. 
When she throws back into oblivion words that were spoken that never supported her. 
Words spoken by those we were looking to for direction and answers.
"She will never....."
"She won't be able to....."
"If I were you, I wouldn't...."
"There won't be many times we can...."
"Why would you....."

This unexplainable, palpable joy comes in the whispers of morning snuggles and hugs.
It comes in the form of a small hand that always finds mine, her head laid down in my lap for prayers at night, a nose rubbing mine.

It even comes in the form of eyes that roll and spark with defiance.
Because even then, she shows us that she can and she will.

I think I will forever try and find the answer to holding both joy and fear, grief and laughter, exhaustion and fun.
But for now?

We celebrate.
We celebrate and give thanks and cheer and throw confetti.
We will light candles and eat cake.

We will have our eyes open wide at the miracle of life and this time when I weep, it will be for a grace and goodness and joy so deep that it swallows us whole and keeps us close and safe.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Quick Envelope Pillow Tutorial

I have told you that I don't sew and that the only test I ever cheated on in school was in Home Ec, where I had to label all the components of a sewing machine.

No more, my friends, no more.

I am here to tell you that if I can do this, you can do this.
Just as long as you don't need perfection, you will be golden.

First, go moose mouse creations. She has aaaaalllll the cool measurements and directions for the envelope pillow cover.
 Her seams are pretty, her pillows are pretty. 
Do not look too much at all the cutie-patootie creations you can make. If you are a somewhat reformed sewing cheater like me, just stick to the basic pillow.

Here's my version just to prove that I did not pay someone to do this.
I went to Wal Mart and found 14x14 pillow forms on sale for $5 each and the material was by Waverly for $2.97 a yard.
I got three yards and made seven pillows.
Uh-huh. You heard right. SEVEN. 

This shows the three pieces needed to make the envelope:

In this next photo, I "finish the flap edge of each rectangle piece".
I had no idea what this scientific sewing term was, so I googled "flap edge for sewing".
Just so you know, it's the edge of the piece of material. As in for the front of the pillow. 
It's not a scientific term in sewing.

Now begins your mantra:

Sew around the whole center.
Oh. And pin it together. That helps.

All of you sewing geniuses out there please tell me this-
HOW do you cut a straight edge? Do you see the right side? All of my pillows were wonky like this and I took great liberty of the "stitching the 1/2" seam". 

Here I get all professional and cut the corners.
Cause that's what the directions said. And I always follow directions.

Turn it right side out.
Now you will find out if you have said your mantra enough.
Otherwise, get really familiar with your seam ripper.
Oh-this is also where you will find out if you were in such a rush to photograph everything that you forgot to sew one side of the pillow. Turn it back inside out and go finish the job.
Be brave.

You are all finished!!!

Stuff your pillow form in there, make it all fat and sassy and enjoy.

I ran out of material for the two larger pillow forms that I used, so I got all brave and crazy and did one rectangle flap out of some muslin that I had sprayed with some Dylusion spray ages ago.
All in all, the 3 yards of fabric made five 14x14 pillows and two 16x16 (with the exception of two of the rectangles).

Why did I decide to do all this????

Cushions for the stump seats around the fire pit!!!

If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
If anyone wants to know, I still would fail a sewing machine components test.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

If Fifty Is The New Forty.....

My friend and I were discussing the subject of how no matter what age we are, we aren't.
All the magazines tell us, "Fifty is the NEW Forty!!!!" 
"Seventy is the NEW Sixty!!!!"
As if.

art journal page done using mixed acrylics, stamps, uni-ball signo in white and chalk paint.
cause that's what was in front of me....

Let's just unravel this a bit, shall we?
If Fifty really was the "new" Forty, does that mean I would have more smarts because I have all ready lived that decade?
If I had more smarts, then, when left alone with a table full of broken cake pops I would swipe them directly into the trash, right?
Instead, I'm well into my Fifties, but I'm TOLD I'm still like 40, and when I was 40, I wasn't gluten-free. 
So I EAT the broken bits of cake pop like a meth addict while no one is watching because I've completely forgotten that I'm gluten-free now and I have apparently embraced my new 40 year old self with crumbled up box mix cake, canned frosting and hardened chocolate coating.

So much for smarts.

oh! and a Sharpie, oil based paint pen in white for all the little dots.

IF Fifty is the new Forty, shouldn't practicing Yoga With Adrienne on Youtube come easier?
Shouldn't doing a one armed side plank not be a big deal?
Oh, wait. 
But aren't I really 40? I had killer shoulders at age 40. And darn it, they're pretty good now.

IF Fifty is the new Forty, why did I have a used spoon in my purse for over a month?
A new forty year old me would have taken it out of her purse immediately and put it in the dishwasher. That new Forty year old would have been appalled at dirty silverware in her purse and would not have just shrugged at it and thought, "Gee. I wonder how that got there?" and then immediately forget it was in her purse.

And in that fifty-is-the-new-forty-year-old's-purse WHY in heaven's name do I find my child's sports bra in there? 
Because Twenty is the new Ten and they leave stuff absolutely everywhere?
Someone throw me a life jacket made out of common sense.

For the record, IF Fifty is the new Forty,
Why. Why. Why are my eyes needing corrective lenses whenever they are open?
So I can wear cool frames that make me look like I'm 40?

You can have your new Forty.
I'll take Fifty three just as it is.
Even when it's sleep deprived, lacking in hormones, forgetful and wrinkled.
I might gripe about these things once in a while, but I griped about stuff when I was 40, so what's new?

But here's the good part:

At Fifty three, I've been married to my husband for 30 years and I wouldn't trade a day of any of those years.
At fifty three, I get a lot of chances to look back and say, "Oh! Of course. THAT'S what that situation was all about!"
 I realize what I really, really like, I pursue it, and I'm blessed to be able to share it.
I learn that I like learning from twenty-somethings, and that I'm never to old to learn.
At fifty three, I don't have to do a one armed plank. I improvise because I know my limitations and I'm not embarrassed by them. I would be more embarrassed to be back in a shoulder sling because I didn't heed those limitations. 

Trying to be a "new" 40 when I'm definitely 53 implies that I'm not where I should be. That where I am in life isn't acceptable and I have to continually ignore the path I have traveled and look back to be something else.

Here's the deal. 
I don't want to re-travel any decade, thank you very much.
I want to live in the present moment, soak up all that I can and continue on-forge ahead for those who are coming up in the ranks. I want to be able to tell Forty year olds that life doesn't end at Fifty and you don't have to act like any other age, person or anything other than your beautiful self.

Happy Friday, my friends.
I hope your enjoying yourself wherever you are in life.

linking to Paint Party Friday

Friday, July 17, 2015

Coming Back To Center With Paint

I might not be painting canvases so much right now, but I haven't stopped painting, which is the important part.
I'm finding that in the process of painting furniture, I come back to center.
It's in the repetitive motions, the back and forth, back and forth that my mind quiets.
No thoughts, just motion. Nothing has to have composition, nothing has to be added just yet. 
Only paint.
Back and forth, back and forth.

I took this circa 1985 console table from our church foyer to bring it up to date with chalk paint.
 I began with Americana Decor Chalky Finish in Everlasting.  (FYI: I don't get paid for mentioning any products.)
It took two coats to cover it, and I put three coats on the very top.

if I'm working at the Summit House, I always have help.

I wanted to use the dry brush effect and began experimenting on the underside of the table with Americana Decor paint in Relic.

Thank goodness I experimented on the underside.
By the time I googled dry brush, watched Youtube videos on the process at midnight and then looked up a hundred different directions on Pinterest I had slightly lost my center again.
Small disasters tend to do this to me.

Definitely NOT the look I was going for.

Dry Brush.
Teeny tiny amount of paint.

What's a girl to do to get back to center?
Take the teeny, tiny amount of paint on the brush, dunk it in water and dab onto the drop cloth.
Sweep it over the table in long motions.
That's better!!!!

 This is the first go:

Crazy, huh?
I continued putting SMALL, SMALL, SMALL amounts of paint on the tip of the brush and then dunking it quickly into a jar of water, then dabbing onto the drop cloth. 
The great part about this is that if you get too much gray paint on your surface, you can dip the brush back into the water, dab, and work the paint out into a nice, even, light  layer.
Small bubbles might come onto the surface, but you can get rid of those by continuing to brush.
Back and forth, back and forth.

Because the paint is so wet, it settles nicely into the crevices.
I did this twice over the whole table and then after the second layer dried, I sanded some of the edges.

Next comes the wax.
So, I don't know if this is a kosher chalk-paint move to have your paint super diluted and then after it dries, put the wax on it. Nor do I know if it's a kosher chalk-paint move to add gray paint to the wax for one more layer of loveliness.
But oh, well. I did it anyway and it seemed fine.

I put the wax on the inside of the lid and added a small amount of gray paint and mixed it all up.

Again, working with SMALL amounts of paint and wax, I brushed it over the surface in small sections and then went over it with a soft, white rag.
Lots of rubbing on this step. 
If you have too much gray or it has spattered or there is just a chunk of gray, just use a bit of clear wax and rub it out until it's even.

(NOTE: when you grab a rag to use for the wax and it's an old maroon colored pillow case? DON'T. It will bleed and turn your project into the strangest color of pink. However, this will come out when you add plain wax and rub it out. I just learned this yesterday on a different project I'm working on.)

Pre- rubbing:

Finished product:

Personally, I love it.
I'm not fond of gray, but this is warm and pretty.

All though....
Everyone has their opinion. Which I discovered as I was delivering the table back to church and someone asked why it was just painted with primer.

That's o.k.
I got in my car, worked it out-rather loudly by myself, and when I see the tables (there are two) each Sunday, I smile to myself.

Maybe this week you will find yourself in the midst of a project.
Remember to breathe through it and hopefully find yourself back at center.
Just don't do it at midnight. Center is hard to find at midnight and the project always takes a wrong turn. And don't forget- no maroon rags.
Have a lovely weekend!

linking to Paint Party Friday

Friday, July 10, 2015

Finding The Sweetness of Summer

This summer, I'm having to look just a bit harder to find the sweetness of the season.
Admittedly, it's thrown me for a little bit of a loop.
There's been a lot of soul searching and decision making, which sounds quite dramatic, but for a mamma's heart it has been.
There's been a a bit of a steep self-learning curve going on.

It's all sounding cryptic, which I hate. 
But honestly. I can't seem to put it all into words.
But I seem to keep coming back to words like
open hands

Then there's always 
no way, huh-uh, nope 
and yes, even some scowling

And then I get to focus on a project for a wedding, such as centerpieces and lettering-which brings great satisfaction and even a little tiny sense of balance.

I've been able to sit a bit under the twinkle lights, read voraciously, (i.e. escape through reading)

One morning, I blasted out a small piece for my living room wall.
Just "Love Lives Here" with high fluid black acrylic on some glass. 
It felt like normal and it felt good.

And this DOG.
Oh, she makes me laugh almost every day.


And these three make my heart squeeze a little tighter all the time.

So while figuring out which set of train tracks I'm on at any given time, (scowling or open hands) I'm thankful to find the sweetness of summer in many ways.

linking to Paint Party Friday