LOVE

Turning FORTY and You’re Invited…

Turning FORTY and You’re Invited…

…to my IMAGINARY party (or how I would have planned my birthday if I was indeed having a party this year). So, welcome to my virtual soirée…or a glimpse at my “dream party” mood boards. Indeed, on November 18th, I’m leaving my thirties behind and entering my FORTIES! * Gasp * Ugh * Sigh * Although I’m not exactly thrilled about the notion that I will be 40 years-old…I am so very grateful to be alive, to be healthy and strong, and to have this opportunity to enjoy everything that I’ve been blessed with in my life – an amazing husband and our two wonderful boys (these three are my whole world); a close and loving family (my sisters and our extended family are the raddest people EVER); terrific and supportive friends; my artistic passions; and the work that I love. But… I don’t FEEL 40!!! (I hope) I don’t LOOK 40!!! I don’t want to ACT 40 (if there is a “standard” for this age group)!!! If I had to give myself an age to match how I feel, (think I) look and act…I would say (er, wish) 30? Go ahead, you can tell me that too, I’ll let ya (wink-wink). No, really…PUH-LEEZ tell me that, it would be the best present ever! If I can figure out how to work 40 like some of my favorite style icons (Gwen Stefani, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Rachel Weisz, etc.), then I’ll gladly join the club…because those beautiful, intelligent, talented, awesome ladies ROCK, hard! But until then, I’m not really cool with this whole aging thing yet…and I’m trying to fight it every step of the way. My husband had his 40th birthday in August…and with my birthday just three months later, we thought it would be fun to possibly combine our birthdays and have one big party. I really, really, REALLY wanted to have a big, celebratory bash. I seriously LOVE parties…the planning and styling, color schemes and themes, over-the-top invitations (but, of course), amazing food-drinks-sweets, loud music and activities…but most importantly, seeing my friends and family having a good time. It just makes me happy to see my vision come together as I enjoy a night to remember with my favorite people. And with a milestone birthday like the BIG FOUR-O, I felt a huge celebration was in order. Earlier on in the Summer (when this party was still a possibility and we were starting to plan it), I was brainstorming party themes with my sister, Julie, who suggested that I do a “Forties” theme for our 40th Birthday Soirée. THAT WAS IT! No need to toss around other ideas. I LOVED it! Envisioning 1940’s Hollywood glamour, an elegant affair with everyone dressed to the nines and dancing cheek-to-cheek, sipping champagne while Big Band/Swing music played in the background…yeah, I could totally get into that. Especially if it meant that I would be all dolled-up and looking fabulous like a silver-screen siren, with my dapper leading man by my side. I’ve always been into the retro-vintage vibe and especially love pinup girl and Hollywood starlet style of the 1940s, as evidenced by the look I was going for in these two photos (the one on top from a company Christmas party when I was in my mid-twenties…and the one on the bottom from a “boudoir” shoot a few years ago when I was 37, photographed by the talented, Desiree Hayes). My current color crush is BLACK and GOLD, with a pop of CORAL. Lately, everything I’ve been pinning shows my obsession with this color scheme. You can check out my Pinterest board...

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Pillows From T-Shirts and Scraps

Pillows From T-Shirts and Scraps

Out of the blue the other day, my six year-old, Isaac, said that he “needed” to make a pillow for his buddy, Cash. He was holding a piece of brown kraft paper that he wanted to sew into a square shape and stuff with cotton balls. It just so happened that Nana Sue would be coming for a visit the very next day, so I told him that perhaps she could help him with this project (since I don’t really use the sewing machine). And when she arrived, Isaac immediately asked her to teach him how to sew…so he could make a pillow for Cash. After convincing him that a paper pillow wouldn’t hold up very well, we looked for old t-shirts and fabric scraps. Remembering I had fabric swatches saved (for over eight years) from when we were designing Mason’s nursery bedding…and a few of my favorite t-shirts that the boys wore when they were babies/toddlers, I gathered a bunch of material for the project. Now, with Nana here and motivated by Isaac’s idea…they would be made into adorably cuddly, decorative pillows! After choosing the shirt he wanted to make into Cash’s cuddle pillow, Isaac and Nana set out on a pillow-making extravaganza! And here’s the finished pillow for Cash, which Isaac was so excited to deliver to his friend…along with a hand-written note. I hope the boys learned what a great feeling it is to be able to make a gift for someone…just as it’s so wonderful to receive something that a friend made by hand....

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The Bedtime Routine – Continues…

The Bedtime Routine – Continues…

Last school year, my boys and I started a bedtime routine of a quick sketch before lights out. You can read about it and see some of the sketches here. Over the Summer break, my boys were less insistent that I sketch for them because they didn’t have a set bedtime, nor did they have to be up early for school the next day (which confirmed that this was simply a stalling technique). But sure enough, once school started up, so did the requests for a bedtime sketch. We started off with quick (under 15 minutes) sketches of their choice of toys or characters. But we were starting to run out of subjects and found that they were choosing the same types of toys. So, Mason (my smarty-pants 8 year-old) came up with the brilliant (and extremely challenging) idea that I should try to sketch/copy works by famous artists. We don’t do this each and every night, but I really enjoy these sketches in particular…since we are able to incorporate an introductory art lesson with the sketch. My boys learn a little bit about the artist and their style of art…and it’s a good review for me. The boys go through some of my art books and pick something for me to sketch. Keep in mind that I only have a few minutes. Our evenings leading up to bedtime are really packed (soccer or karate, homework, dinner, bath, reading, etc.). And I need them to get to bed, so I can get back to work (designing, printing, assembling, correspondence, invoices, etc.). Most sketches take about 5-10 minutes, nothing goes over 20 minutes. I sketch while the boys do their nightly reading (or while Daddy reads a chapter…we’re currently reading The Lost Hero together), and when they are done, I have a sketch finished to discuss (or wake up to in the morning). Our “Bedtime Routine” continues…and I will periodically update this gallery with our nightly quick sketches for the remainder of this school year (or until they lose interest again and stop making requests…I hope they don’t because I really love these moments with my family)....

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Instagram Photo A Day – October

Instagram Photo A Day – October

When I finished my Sketch Every Day 365 project in 2011, I knew I wanted to remain in the habit of being creative on a daily basis, which is what I loved most about the challenge of making or doing something every day for a year. I saw that a few of my IGer friends were participating in a daily photo challenge and I thought it would be fun to get on board and try it out. After all, I’m on Instagram constantly each day…I’m sure I could find a minute or two to post a daily picture. No pressure..this is just something for fun, if I can keep up with the daily challenge, great…if not, no biggie. I’ve had a lot of fun and it has become my 365 project for 2012. I haven’t missed a day yet! Blogger, social media editor and Instagram star, Chantelle, of Fat Mum Slim, created the photo challenge and the lists that a lot of IGers I follow have been using for the challenge. I started in January. Here are February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September…And below is my Photo-A-Day collection for October,...

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DIY Carved Creepy Pumpkin Family

DIY Carved Creepy Pumpkin Family

We LOVE Halloween around here. Soon-to-be 6 year-old, Isaac, is our Halloween Baby…and 8 year-old, Mason, has been obsessed with skulls and skeletons for as long as I can remember! (Check out Mason’s feature on Skull-A-Day). When October 1 hits, both boys are eager to start decorating the front yard for trick-or-treaters…and I look forward to pumpkin carving and enjoying seasonal treats like pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes, and roasted pumpkin seeds! This year, we let our boys do all the decorating out front. My husband dragged out all the Halloween bins from the garage…and the boys, with some help from their neighborhood friends, did their thing. I repainted some old foam/craft pumpkins we had carved years ago, doodled on a gold spray-painted mini pumpkin…and put a few Halloween/Fall decorations inside the house. My husband even got into spirit of October by trying his hand at homemade Oktoberfest pretzels and planning his entry for our Annual Neighborhood Halloween Chili Cook-Off (his chili took home the First Place bragging rights last year, btw). And now, it’s pumpkin carving time! Ever since Isaac was born, I’ve wanted to carve our “family portrait” onto pumpkins. But every year, I seem to run out of time…and with so many other things going on, we end up just using the same Pumpkin Masters carving templates we’ve had since before the kids were born (yep, those are some old kits). Considering that the pumpkins mold pretty quickly in our warm San Diego climate, we can only enjoy them for a couple of days at best, so I don’t really put a lot of work into them. But this year, I decided to just do it! After convincing the boys that carving our faces onto our pumpkins would be way cool and totally unique, we picked out our pumpkins and got started! First, I took photos (with my iphone). The photos don’t need to be high quality or detailed. No need to worry about hair/makeup, cool outfits…we just need the facial expression. These photos were taken in front of the kitchen pantry door. We tried three shots: smiling, scared, angry. I was partial to the scared or angry pictures, but figured we could decide which “look” worked best for each of our pumpkins once they were formatted for carving. Then, I opened up the images in Photoshop and went to the Filter Gallery to play around with the Note Paper filter. I would normally use the Stamp or Torn Edges filters for this type of thing, but found that Note Paper worked best. Adjusting the Image Balance in the Note Paper filter, making sure the Grain and Relief options were at zero, seemed to produce the best results for converting the image. All the gray portions will be the pumpkin and the white areas will be carved or shaved away to allow the light to show through. So it’s like having to create a stencil, where shapes need to be reduced to positive and negative space…and some portions need to connect in order to hold the image together. After I applied the filter, I used the eraser tool in Photoshop to clean up pixels and try to get clean shape areas. Here are the converted images: “Scared” And “Angry”…which won the family vote. Sizing the images to best fit each pumpkin, I printed each face out, taped them to a pumpkin, and used graphite paper to trace the image onto the pumpkin. For purposes of this tutorial, I used Sharpie to darken the lines so they’re easier to see. Then it was time to start carving. Following...

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