Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Happy Little Update

Most of you don't know this, because I come across so jolly, but December found me sad and totally burned out. The barn sale sucked the life out of me this year. I was feeling worn and worthless. I guess the universe got tired of my sad ploddings about and sighing, becuase all kinds of amusing things started to happen.

 This is from the flower contest I helped Lynn Vale Farms do. Here's the link.

And I haven't told you about most of them. So that's what this post is. A little hit of all the happy things that happened to me, the fun things I have been able to accomplish because of the happy things, and a few things I threw in just for good measure.

So back to December for a second. 

I don't know if you all know this, due to my lack of a "favorite blogs" bar on this page (I am planning on remedying that soon-ish), but I LOVE the blog Young House Love. Have you guys discovered them yet? John and Sherry Petersik are this cute, early thrity-something couple in Richmond who started a blog to show their friends and family the changes they were making to the house they had just bought. Here's the "About us" page. It totally shows you what they're like and you'll see why I love them so.

This is on their instagram page here

Anyway, I have been an avid reader for about 2 years now, and this fall they published their first book. It's chock full o' good, simple, cheap decorating ideas. So of course I had to get it as soon as it was announced. So I preordered it on Amazon, in June or July, and then waited....and waited....and waited until it was released in November.

And it was totally worth the wait. I used an idea on the first page to add some color to the back of my display cases that DK(explanation of who this is here) forbid me from painting.

Yes, yes, I did actually shoot photos for a tutorial, but that will come later.

And along with a book, comes a book tour! So I ponied up the $29 for a copy of the book (a gift for someone else), a glass of Diet Coke (everyone else got champagne, but I don't drink), and a warm cozy place to meet the Petersiks in downtown Washington DC. It was totally worth every penny.

They are just as nice in person as they seem on their blog. They even got happy for me and my line mate that  we had become "line friends".

The same week I got my copy of Young House Love, I also got my equally long awaited copy of Miss Mustard Seed's new book Inspired You.

I could write a whole post about how much this book brought me back to life, but Jami at Freckled Laundry already wrote the perfect tribute. If you are even thinking about buying this book, read her comments here.

Instead of gilding the lily, I'll just take you with me to The Empty Nest in Warrenten, VA, where I got to help at the book signing! Janet's got a great write up and way better pics here.

L to R: Me, Marian Parsons (Miss Mustard Seed), and Janet Metzger, owner of the Empty Nest
Terrible picture of me, but oh well. Can't pass up a claim to fame.

I had to steal Janet's pic of me getting my book signed. Thanks Janet!

 There is nothing quite as humbling and exciting as hanging out with your heroes. Marian was fun and gracious and happy to talk about paint finishes and running a booth at Lucketts.

It was fun to see her meet old friends

and find treasures hiding in Janet's lovely store. 

It amazes me as I meet more and more people I "know" from reading their blogs, just how many of them are "my people". It makes me braver every time I realize they started just like me. So thanks for the excellent example and encouragement Marian, John and Sherry! I am totally inspired by you all.

OK, that's enough of my "Claims to Fame." 

Since all of this happened, I have been a busy girl. 

Miss Mustard Seed inspired me to make a chalkboard to bang out ideas for this blog.

I even used magnetic primer so I could hold stuff on with magnets. But that's another post.

Reading Inspired You also got me off my butt and I re-organized and moved my office. I still have a bit left to do, but I am totally in love with it. 

Can't you just see me in my super comfy, pretty, old wooden chair, typing this right now?

This is substantially better than where I started in this post, wouldn't you say? Remember this?

And here's a peek at what I have been doing in the studio.

Remember when I told you I was getting itchy to play with my exacto knife? Well there you go. 
More on that piece later. Or hopefully, sooner.

And one last happy bit of news. 

My friend Karianne, of Thistlewood farms got PUBLISHED this week!!!! She wrote the funnest post about what it's like to find your writing and photos in a major magazine in this post here. Hillarious and happy. I'm sure I would do the exact same thing. I am still wishing I was there to jump up and down with her. As it was, I was reading the post on my elliptical trainer, and I almost fell of because I did do a little jump for her. 
You. Go. Girl.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightly, and the South Pole

Many things have their season, and in my house, January and February are Jane Austin Season. We are completely compulsive some years, watching everything we can find that even seems Jane Austin-y for weeks on end. This year it was just for a few days. I had to get some onerous task done, like folding piles and piles of laundry, so I pulled out the BBC "Pride and Prejudice" to ease my suffering. Yes, I'm referring to the 6 hr long one with Colin Firth coming out of the pond right as Elizabeth walks into the garden. I swear his discomfort and lack of composure cracks me up.
Every. Single.Time.

My girls came home just in time for the second half and watched all of it that day. The next day was a Saturday and they watched the first half. Then they put in the Keira Knightly one and watched all of that one too, just for good measure.

Now, I know the battle rages on about which version is better. And the purists will always love the BBC one, because it IS the book. But I have a major soft spot in my heart for the new one. Simply because it is so pretty. And Jane is so lovely that I want her to be my sister too. And it's two hour running length is much more fit-able into my life-able.

Wait. I can feel you doubting my sincerity here. You think I am holding something back.  I am completely aghast. I would never!....Oh alright, I admit it. I LOVE Matthew Macfadyen as the new Mr. Darcy. The way he yearns in the face of Elizabeth's refusal and his whispered "Please...." just makes me weak.

And I can't even think about him walking across the field at dawn....

I mean, seriously. The poor girl never had a chance against cinematography like this.

So each winter seems to bring a new Jane Austin production into my life. The most recent acquisition was the newest BBC version of "Emma", starring Romola Garai.

Now while this is an absolutely charming production in general, I never thought this movie would impact my life in any significant way. And while it still hasn't, one of the characters in it, Mr. Knightly, has emerged to have an amusing, if completely insignificant, impact on my blog.

On this most recent viewing of Pride and Prejudice with my children, I was talking to my oldest daughter about how her father reminded me so much of Mr. Knightly.

 She agreed, but said, "Daddy's not quite as even tempered as Mr. Knightly." I found this terribly amusing and suggested that he was a "darker" version of Mr. Knightly. She got the funniest look on her face and suggested, "Dark Knightly....hmmm. Maybe we should start referring to him as 'Dark Knight?'" So friends, just for future reference, I will henceforth and forever be referring to my sweet and long suffering husband as DK, short for "Dark Knight," short for "Darker Knightly". (Can you just feel him reading this, rolling his eyes, and then walking away, shaking his head?)

 DK in self portrait at the South Pole

How can you not fall completely, deliriously, eternally in love with a man who wears a skunk hat at the South Pole? Especially when he slips while showing off  and almost knocks over the Geographic South Pole 3 days after it had just been painstakingly measured and set for the year. I was strictly forbidden from posting the footage of that one. I guess even a man who totes a skunk hat to the South Pole deserves to have at least a little dignity preserved.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wondering About Whimsy

I spent all last year being serious and focused. At least all of last year until December. Then it got a little silly. There were antlers and mustache leaves and holiday merriment. And I really liked that. It felt like I could breathe again. And I dared hope that maybe, just maybe, my life might become FUN again.

Well the universe decided to throw the doors wide open on that front last week. 
My dad came to visit while my husband was gone.

Now what you need to understand about my dad is that he is a total ball of fun. And I am not talking about a super ball. My dad is like the sun, full of energy and radiance and adventure. And he takes up about the same amount of space. There really is no containing him. So I knew I was in for a party, like it or not.

My dad needs something to do all the time, so as soon as I got off the phone with him I started brainstorming and feverishly looking through all the local events pages I could find. Monica Boland's events page (in the DC area, sign up here to get her events page in your email) mentioned that Sunday was the last night for the Holiday lights and mini train display at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton MD. Done!

Yes, this is Nessie and baby. I was not expecting a sea monster 
in the pond at a botanic garden.

I loved how the picture above turned out. It kinda reminds me of a really cool dance club.

 The tropical house was at the bottom of the hill, and a nice, toasty break from being outside. See how fun the trains were? There were a variety of tracks and trains were going everywhere you looked. There was even an ice skating rink with actual moving skaters.

They had even made a miniature of the building we were in, complete with teensy, tiny train that moved!

After we had thoroughly explored the jungle and the trains, we headed back outside.

Doesn't it just make your heart happy?

 It was truly spectacular. 1.5 million lights.  You should go next year. 

Don't worry. I'll remind you.

It was completely enchanting. I wished that my husband's excellent camera was with me instead of with him in the South Pole. But I think my iPad did alright. Plus, I could take videos, like this little gem. Sorry about all the heads in the way of the lights. I am still very much a video novice.

This was Sunday. Now let's fast forward to Tuesday. 

Dad and I decided to drive to Richmond, about 1 1/2 hrs south of here, to go see a display of Dale Chihuly's fantastical glass sculptures at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. I had been waiting not-so-patiently for this show since last summer. And I was not disappointed.

It truly filled me with wonder.

How can you look at this and not smile? It just makes me so happy to know that somewhere in the world is a man that has this kind of thing in his heart. Perhaps he's the real Willy Wonka.

You walk from the room of marble and glass fire-filled boats into a room with nothing in it. Until you look up.

This is the ceiling.

There are over 1000 pieces of glass in a huge variety of shapes layered on one another and then lit from above. Don't you love all the cool light patterns down the walls?

Who thinks of this?

There was also the room that looked like it had been attacked by a rabid balloon animal guy. But in a good way.

Your mind just can't take it all in the first time you see it. We walked around this section about 4 times and then sat and stared at it for a while. I still don't think we saw everything that was there.

The pink and white tree is about 15-20 ft tall.
There is nothing to prepare you for the magic of it all.

These white pieces reminded me of the seaweed that I found on the beaches of Oregon as a child. Except that these were huge. You can see the people in the background in the photo above for some scale. See the faint red jacket there on the right side of the picture?

Here are some of the "sketches" Mr. Chihuly makes when he's just feeling like painting. 
I like the black on on the bottom right the best. It reminds me of a party. 

And these kinda reminded me of giant clams. I don't really know why.

These are baskets made of glass in the pattern of the Native American tribes 
in the Pacific Northwest. 
How cool to think of making baskets when your medium is glass?

There was an entire huge wall of these Pendleton blankets in the Basket Room. 
I just kept looking at all the different patterns and colors they had. 

And here are a few more of the baskets. 
Don't you love that they were displayed on half of a huge tree?

This one was like a giant neon hairball. 
But I did like the reflection on the floor and the fact that he just made it to see if he could.

I love doing stuff just to see if I can.

 So after 5 days of being with my dad, I've decided that the 
Universe must be trying to tell me something.

I wonder if this may just be the Year of Whimsy?