Thursday, July 30, 2015

More on Mantras, 7.30.15

So, more on those mantras I mentioned on Facebook yesterday. As I've mentioned before, I'm working on a mixed media e-course through Kelly Rae Roberts' website called Hello Soul Hello Mantras.  The first step in the process has nothing to do with painting. The first step is to 'quiet the noise' in my head and come up with a series of phrases that speak to me at this specific moment in time.
So Kelly Rae's instructions were to 1) write some statements about a specific situation relevant to me right now and 2) write the names of two people whom I admire and then write down what it is that I admire about them. 
After I filled 11 pages in my journal (she encourages you to really take your time and write a lot), I then went back to look for key words that really spoke to me or words or phrases that show up several times. When I finished, I had this series of words: trust, fear, forgiveness, worry, brave, love, steady, confident, positive, calm, authentic. And these words led to these statements or mantras:




And these mantras will become part of the mixed-media paintings that I started today. This is the first layer of the first one. I'll show the layers (there are a lot of them!) as they progress in another post.




What I love most about this, is that it's an ongoing process. If I want mantras to be a part of a painting (whether it's actually on the canvas or just inspiration), it will always be different and I will always have something new to draw upon. And even if nothing is created with these mantras in mind, it still helps with the 'mental sorting' process. Does that make sense? I hope so. And I hope you'll check out Kelly Rae's courses. So much fun! Even if it really isn't your style, you can still learn something. Again, you can find them here.

Oh, and the happiest of birthdays to my "baby" boy- who turns 20 today. Happy Birthday, Little Man!!

Till next time- Juli

Monday, July 27, 2015

Changes!, 7.27.15

More changes are coming our way. Oh, my. I'm ready for things to settle down a bit. I've been writing about the stresses of this summer and we've finally come to a decision that will, hopefully, take some of the stress away. So here's the scoop. We've been renting from my son for over a year while trying to sell our house, which means that we have had to keep up payments on two places for the past 16 months. Our best case scenario was to sell our house within a few months (it's never taken longer than four months to sell any house that we've ever sold in the past) and we would be able to take our time to find a new place, while at the same time saving money for a larger down payment, thus a smaller house payment. We knew we could keep it up for a year without any issues, but it has now been 16 months. So we had to get serious about what we were going to do. We were getting to the point of losing a significant portion of our original down payment. So...we are moving back into the house and taking it off the market for now. There are many things that we don't like about this decision, but we have to focus on the good things. And many circumstances led us to the conclusion that the good points in moving back definitely outweigh the bad.

One really good thing is that I will now have a dedicated studio space- a whole room to myself, just for painting, sewing, dyeing, etc. I'm super excited about it, as I've never had more than a corner of a room before. I think it will make a huge difference as far as getting things done and being more organized, consistent and productive.

My previous thoughts here on expanding Olive and Ash to include classes, workshops, etc. will have to be put on hold for a while, as getting classes and workshops set up in the first place will take resources that I don't have right now. But it is still in the works (if only in my mind, for now!). I'll be focusing on getting the studio set up, doing some serious making when we get settled again and working on some home improvements which will enable me to have small groups of people in the studio.

Another good thing about moving is having more space in general, which I will need by the beginning of next year because I will suddenly be not only the Bibi (Grandma) of two, but the Bibi of FOUR! Yes, my Doublement Gum commercial in my last post was a hint that my son and his wife found out they are expecting identical twins! I still haven't really wrapped my head around it yet, as we have never had twins in our family before, but I'm sure it's going to be so much fun :)

I'll leave you with some images (some of you may have seen them on Instagram and Facebook already) of the new studio space in our 'little house on a big hill' and some inspiring quotes on change by Kelly Rae Roberts , whose words have made a huge difference in my outlook lately. Enjoy them!

I was able to hang the vintage handkerchief banners and strings of mini lights in the studio- something I've always wanted to do.  This space started out as a garage, converted to a game room, then became a storage room. I think it was always meant to be a studio, though. It has great, natural light coming from the north through the french doors that replaced the windowless garage door. And just up the steps is my favorite spot to relax- the front porch.






Have a great week!  Juli

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Being Grateful, 7.15.15

I have to admit, I've been absent from this space lately because I just haven't had much to say. This summer has been pretty stressful in a lot of ways. I've been much better at handling stress lately (yoga, breathing and taking my son's "live in the moment" advice), but when the stress comes out of nowhere, I have a harder time with it. And this time, it knocked me on my ass for a couple of weeks.  But...it only knocked me on my ass because I let it. I'm now forcing myself out of this pit I've been in by doing the following:


* Reminding myself that no one died.

* Reminding myself that no one is sick.

* Reminding myself that I'm so lucky to have very supportive family members who are always there to listen when I have something to work/talk through.

* Reminding myself that even though no one wants to buy our little house on a big hill, that we are lucky to have it.

* Reminding myself that I'm lucky to be able to go to work with M. a couple of days a week during the summer (and earn some extra money!).

*Reminding myself how lucky I am to have M.

* Reminding myself how lucky I am to have summers off and that I love my job so much that, by mid-July, when I see school supplies in the store, I get excited about going back to school, just like I did when I was a kid.

* Reminding myself that even though I haven't been as productive as I had planned to be this summer, that I'm lucky to have this creative drive that keeps going and going.

* And reminding myself that I'm lucky to find things (people, blogs, websites, quotes, movies, etc.) that lift me up just when I need it most. This ALWAYS happens to me. And I am so grateful for it. Just when I needed it, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an offer for an online workshop through Kelly Rae Roberts' website. It's a three part workshop: Mixed Media Painting, a 30 day e-course called Wear Your Joy and an e-book called Flying Lessons (tips and tricks for a creative business). So far, I've gotten to day 20 of the Wear Your Joy project and I can't tell you how nice it is to sit down and read Kelly Rae's words every day- always inspirational, uplifting, thoughtful, positive and motivating. I highly recommend, at the very least, bookmarking her blog. I think you'll love it.

And speaking of creativity- I have been crawling out of my self-pity pit enough lately to get some work done on these fiber pieces. One is almost finished and the next two are started. I am having such a good time working on them and I'm hoping there is an audience out there for them.  If not, that's okay. It's like therapy for me, so all is good!


I'm trying out hand painting the backing for this piece instead of tie dyeing.

This piece is near completion. At this point, it is drying (you have to soak it in water to remove all traces of the marking pen), then I just need to sew on the backing, attach the little pocket piece to the front and hang it.


And this shows the next two pieces just after I transferred the designs on the light table (weird effect with the lights, huh?!)


And, I'll leave you with one more thing that I am very grateful for, but it's still kind of a secret at this point. I think. Anyway, it's not my secret to talk about yet, but I think it will be okay to leave you with a little hint.

 Here's to being thankful. And grateful. And knowing it.

Till next time ~ Juli



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Facebook and Surprise Inspiration, 7.2.15

Facebook....hmmm....it's kind of a dirty word around here, lately.  I've written before about the many pros and cons of Facebook and my love/hate relationship with it definitely continues. I even recently tried to cut way back on "Facebooking" by starting a new page with just a few friends and family members. But, even with those changes, as of late, Facebook seems to be mostly "cons". There are just too many ways for things to be interpreted (or misinterpreted). So, in response, I deactivated the second Facebook account. The problem with that is, you have to have a personal page in order to manage a business page. And my Olive and Ash page is very important to me because it's a direct link to this space. And I'm not willing to let that go. I've said before that this blog began as a way to document my art work, but it evolved into more of an online journal of my general, everyday musings- sometimes on art, sometimes on life and sometimes both. I've come to find out that talking is only a way for me to muddle through ideas, problems and thoughts. Writing, for me, is much more constructive. It's actually extremely helpful to me. And I've always hoped that it might be helpful to others, even if it's just one person who may relate to what I have written on a particular day.  

So my very supportive, generous and kind daughter came up with a solution to my problem. She is allowing me to manage the page from her Facebook page. Can you imagine a child (albeit, she is my 31 year old child!) giving their mom their username and password?! I know! I am crazy lucky to have her. So, I will still be able to alert you to new blog posts and post updates on the Olive and Ash Facebook page. Yay!

Now, enough about the drama of Facebook and onto some new work that I started this week. In my last post, I shared some inspiration pieces that I found online (taken from my Pinterest board). But, much to my surprise, I was more recently inspired by my own work. (I know! haha! That never happens to me!) You may remember it from this post.

The perfect spot was found in the sales room at Blumenhof.



I made it for M., for Christmas, a couple of years ago. It has been hidden away in the winery office since then, as M. is not the decorator and didn't know where to hang it. Last week,  I suddenly had my mind set to find a perfect place for it.  When I pulled it out of the office and into the light, I was reminded of how proud I felt when I finished it. And how it incorporates all of the things that are important to me- fiber, painting, stitching and words. And how it's cool that it requires a light source from behind to be fully seen and appreciated. I have been struggling, lately, (as I'm sure you know from my last few posts) to be inspired.  I am constantly going from stitching, to painting, to stitching, to painting. Back and forth. Back and forth.  And I have always thought that combining the two would be my "thing", as I really don't see much of that type of work out there. I can't tell you how good it felt to see that piece again and have that light bulb go on in my mind. I immediately thought, "Why haven't I been doing this for the last couple of years? What led me off track?" I don't really have an answer for that except that we have had a lot going on the last couple of years, so I've been a little distracted. But, it really doesn't matter. Inspiration hits you when it's least expected. I should know that by now. And I'm running with this one. This past week, I've been  working on some sketches and plans I have for three different designs incorporating figure drawings. This one, Lost in Translation, began to take shape yesterday.



Machine piecing, marking and stitching have begun. More layers after that.



I'll save the others for another post, as I just realized how long this one has become! So, 'till next time- thank you for reading! Juli

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lately, 6.24.15

First of all, I apologize for the delay with this post, as I thought it would be finished Monday. Life happens and here it is on Wednesday! First of all, I'm making some changes to my social media and I'm going to try to attempt keeping this blog going without a Facebook page. If you'd like to continue being alerted about new posts, just sign up as a follower or, if not, just bookmark it and check back in from time to time. We'll see how this goes :)  In the meantime, here is my...

Lately...

Making: painting, embroidering, sewing, refurbishing
A two hour challenge painting. I'm not super happy with it (brush strokes need to be much looser), but since I had a time limit, I'm not going to be too hard on myself.



Baby G's first birthday pillow (Peanut got one on his first birthday, too). It has a handle (which is barely visible here) and embroidered pockets (Ruben J's jean pockets) for small books, toys, etc.
Pocket detail (in progress).

I intended to paint this chair, but decided on making a cover instead. Since it's made of cedar, I wasn't sure about the paint sticking like it should.


Drinking: Still stuck on Starbuck's Flat White, and now, peach and ginger green tea.Yum!

Eating: Still staying away from processed foods and foods with too many ingredients and/or "mystery" ingredients. And I still feel great!

Watching: Cake- Jennifer Aniston was amazing, but the movie was pretty much a downer. Don't watch it if you're depressed!

Reading: Finished the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up". The author seems pretty obsessive about being organized (which I can't relate to- at all!) but she has good tips. And I was really motivated to clean up/clean out when I finished reading it.

Listening to: some classics- Danny's Song by Loggins and Messina and Carolina in My Mind by James Taylor

Thinking about: How fast the summer is flying by.

Laughing at: Peanut at the bowling alley for the first time. His phrase for the day- "oh, gosh!"




Disliking: our lawn maintenance people weed-whacking my brand new peony bush! So mad!

Loving:  All of us piling into a pick-up truck (don't worry, it was just on the cemetery road!) and heading to the cemetery to release Baby G's first birthday balloons. And the picture, below. I'm so glad to have captured that exact moment when everyone was looking up at the same time.






As far as studio news, I'm very slow to start this summer (which I hate), but I've been inspired lately by some painted fiber pieces with lots of layers. And since experimenting with mediums is on my summer list, that's what I'll be working on next. Hopefully something good will come from experimenting and playing and not being too hard on myself.

Here are some examples of my inspiration pieces:
Jette Clover
Artist information here



spirit cloth Jude Hill
Artist information here


And finally, my very best wishes go out to my niece and her husband, as they had their itsy bitsy ( 5 lb. 9 oz.!) new little girl yesterday. She is our newest family member, their first baby, our family's first little girl in a long while (16 years!) and another little Baby G! And she is the cutest little thing :)

Have a great week!  Juli

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Making a list, 6.6.15

No, Christmas is not on my mind yet. I just think I need a(nother) list. I can't remember the last time my mind felt this "jumbled". I think I've had so many plans in mind for my summer break, that I just can't get my head around any of them at this point. I honestly feel like I have some sort of attention issue. And I don't really like that. Today, I found myself going from laundry, to cleaning the garage, to working on a stitching project, to reading a book, to planting flowers- all within a couple of hours. And I'm not even exaggerating! So enough of that nonsense....I'm going to make that list. I wrote about this a couple of summers ago (you can read about that here) and it really does help. As I've gotten older, I have become much more routine oriented. When I was younger, just the word "routine" made me cringe. To me, "routine" coincided with being old and crotchety. It was definitely the opposite of "free-spirit", which had always been the way I thought of myself. But now, I need it. As much as I like having a break from lesson planning, getting up early and dealing with teenagers every day, I also enjoy the routine of it all. Without the routine, I get to sleep later, but when I wake up, I feel aimless and my mind drifts from one thing to another. Yep, a list is definitely what this wandering mind needs. So, I'll write my daily list in this cute little notebook (one left over from the last time I wrote about making a summer list)  and I'll be on track from here on out and this summer will be my most productive one yet. The power of positive affirmations, right?!



Well, enough about lists. I'll update on how well the list is working, as more blog time is on the list :)  For now, I'll leave you with my "lately" (and there has been a LOT, lately!). Oh, and just a warning: PICTURE OVERLOAD AHEAD.

Making: I have three projects in the works that have to be finished by mid June, so expect updates on those. And my daily paintings will pick back up tomorrow. (Thanks to M. for always reminding me how important that is.)
A glimpse of project #1.


Drinking: Still stuck on Starbucks Decaf Flat White with coconut milk (It's way too easy to hop in the car and go to Starbucks now!)

Eating: A lot more. Yay! My test results came back and I have no dairy or wheat sensitivity but I am sensitive to corn, clams (of all things!) and a few other things, including MSG. So I have been avoiding gluten and dairy for several years now and replacing it with corn based products and this whole time I've had a sensitivity to corn! No wonder I wasn't getting better. I will say that I have felt SO much better eating the clean, whole foods for the last couple of months, though. So, even though I know I can have certain foods now, I'm still going stick to the "no processed" or "less than five ingredients" foods. But, will I have pizza with cheese and a slice of pie every so often? You bet I will!!

The first piece of REAL pizza I've had in several years. REAL cheese and REAL crust. Imo's. SO GOOD!


Watching: The videos from my son and daughter-in-law's rehearsal dinner and wedding. On the emotional scale of 1-10, I feel like I've been at 11+ for the last few weeks.  I go from missing my boy (so much!), to being so happy for him and his wife, to feeling so sad that his dad isn't here to witness this, and so on and so on, many times, over the course of each day. Wow.

Reading: Catching up on some books that I've had for a while- Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and just starting The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Yoga for Life: a Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom

Listening to: Beautiful Boy by John Lennon- can't stop listening.

Thinking about: All of the time and effort my new daughter-in-law and her family put into this wedding. It was beyond beautiful and I'm so grateful to them for giving my son a day that he will never forget.

The bride and groom, Jamey and Alicia (aka Eddie and Falicia) dancing up a storm at the reception

A gift from my daughter-in-law. I love this :)

A gift from my son.

My boys with their girls.

These two are more like sister and brother than cousins. By the way, she will be giving us another Baby G in June :)

Eddie and Sister visiting with some long-time friends.

Peanut, dancing up a storm with two of his MawMaws.

Beautiful cake and beautiful couple.

My mother's rose. Perfect white rose.
Ruben J was a significant part of the ceremony.
M with his Brooklyn girl and her boyfriend, who were home for the wedding.


Laughing at: Myself, for backing into my son's girlfriend's car the morning of the wedding. It was so stupid that I have to laugh at myself. And I'm glad his sweet girlfriend laughed about it, too.

Disliking: Myself, for backing into my son's girlfriend's car!

Loving; My bonus kids-son (in-law) and daughter (in-law) and Little Man's girl. I couldn't have asked for kids who are so easy to be around and who feel like they have always been a part of our family. I'm so lucky. And M's kids- I don't see them often enough, but have such a fun time with them when I do see them.

And a few random photos that I just felt like sharing:


My boy- the Carhartt model! So proud!

And our other set of "boys". Love them to pieces!



Have a great weekend!  Juli