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Monday, September 15, 2014


Lately, I've been ...

Drawing with Peanut- here, he drew a picture of "Dad" (bottom), Mommy (top) and the letter "A" to the left :)

Breaking out Little Man's old toys...

and puzzles..

and reading Mommy's 

and Little Man's old books.

and concentrating so hard on our painting :)

I've also been enjoying our family dinner nights.

This night was perfect for chili :)

It's a tight fit in our little place, but no one seems to mind.

And when the house is empty, I've been plugging right along on my Blumenhof goods...

brushing up on my knitting in preparation to start on my sweater.

and realizing that I've made a lot of embroidery patterns over the last couple of years. Oh, my!

And, yesterday, I tried my hand at a creative little portrait. (And realizing that the little(?) smile lines, aka wrinkles, on the sides of my mouth actually stay there even when I'm not smiling. Dang!) But, I cut Eddie out of this picture, so it doesn't count! I'll try again another time.

All was not lost, though. I thought it was very cool how the landscape was reflected in the granite.

And, of course, the view is as beautiful as ever. But, it seemed especially pretty yesterday.

Have a great week!   Juli

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Blogging with a purpose. 9.6.14

Before this post actually begins, I want to encourage anyone out there who has a blog, to take the time to do this. I started this post on August 31st and am just now finishing on September 6th! It really made me think- about where the blog has been and where it is headed and about where my Olive and Ash "shop" has been and where it's headed. I've always felt the need for it all to be more cohesive and coming up with a purpose statement has really brought a lot of disconnected ideas together (in my head, anyway!) and helped me eliminate what isn't important. I hope it helps!

 Inspired by this post, I have been trying to come up with a purpose statement for this little blog space. It started out as a space to coincide with my daily (or, rather, weekly) paintings a couple of summers ago. But, over time, it has become a way to show readers what inspires me and what motivates me to try to grow my little Olive and Ash Studio (still in it's infancy, it seems, after more than two years!), which now includes some craft along with the art. Life definitely gets in the way of making and creating, so out of  this need to wrap my head around the "life stuff", this space has also become a sort of personal journal. (And, I have to say, it has been very therapeutic for me.)
From these ideas I have come to the conclusion that this space serves two purposes. One is for you, the reader. I think everyone has the ability to help another person, even if it's just by sharing their story. So my story- whether it's about making, grieving, moving, being inspired or uninspired, motivated or unmotivated, etc., will, hopefully,  help someone else out there who stumbles upon this space.  I know, from experience, that people feel less "lost" or "alone" if they know someone else out there has had the same thought, experience, etc. The second is for me and the people in my life. If this space is nothing else, it serves as a document of my thoughts, ideas and experiences. Because, as Meryl Streep says in The Bridges of Madison County "As one gets older, ones fears subside. What becomes more and more important is to be known. Known for all that you were during this brief stay." (Love that movie, by the way!) 

So....with all that being said, here is my purpose statement for the blog:

Olive and Ash will be a vehicle to help others by giving me the space to discuss what inspires me and motivates me to create and make. It will be a way to help others see that anything and everything, however big or small, can be a source of inspiration and motivation. And it will be a place to showcase pieces that I create- pieces that have the craftsmanship and significance to become a treasured possession or family heirloom.

And here is my purpose statement for myself:

Olive and Ash will be a place to document my thoughts and ideas. Writing these things down helps me to "mentally organize", which, in turn, helps me be more productive. Sharing these thoughts and ideas may help others who are reading and helps me by keeping me accountable to act on them.  Acting on them will help me realize the lofty goals I have for Olive and Ash- as a reliable source of retirement income and an artistic outlet, so that, one day, the things that I have made and left behind will be my way of "being known". 
Have a great evening!  Juli


Monday, August 25, 2014

A new goal- knitting :)

I have to admit, I haven't been inspired by much lately. I know I should be making or painting something, but other things-family, work, home- just seem more important right now.  But....I have recently been inspired by this sweater:

Found here- on Cozy Things, one of my favorite blogs.

I already know the basics of knitting- the knit/purl part of it. But I can only knit things that require straight lines- washcloths, scarves, etc. Boring!! The only thing keeping me from knitting (or crocheting, for that matter) something more interesting is the idea of following a pattern. I hate patterns! But, I really love this sweater, so I want to try it.
Knitting and crocheting (my straight lined items) is a way to keep my hands busy while I'm watching TV or movies. I hate just sitting and watching. I guess it makes me feel a little guilty. Like, "I should be making something right now, not sitting on my butt watching t.v." type of guilt.  I'm not quite sure how the pattern reading will fit in with the t.v. watching, but we'll see. Anywho, I'll keep you posted on the progress!
The first inspiration in weeks! Yay! Hopefully it will lead to more :)
Have a great evening!  Juli
Just Knit It Print
Image found here

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blogger challenge, The End!, 8.14.14

It's the end of the blogger challenge! I've grouped these last topics together, because, well, they just go together. #24- A difficult time in my life, #28- The last time I cried and #27- what makes me feel better-always. One just kind of flows into the next. So, they became a group :)

Starting with #24- A difficult time in my life. Well, for those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time, you know the answer to that. (For those of you who are new to the blog, see this post.) So, I'm not going to re-hash it again. But what I really haven't written about (I don't think?) here is my divorce. That would be the next most difficult time in my life.

I won't go into too much detail here, but I've made it a point, since my divorce, to tell anyone who is going through or thinking that they may be going through a separation or divorce, to stop. Wait. Try harder. Then try even harder. And when you get advice from someone who has already been through what you are about to go through- listen. If someone else gives you the same advice- listen again.  (If it still doesn't work out, then at least you know you gave it every ounce of your effort.) Divorce, ESPECIALLY if you have kids, SUCKS.  For everyone involved. In my first marriage, I didn't try hard enough. I took an easy out. Except, what I didn't know then, is that it really wasn't going to be "easy" at all. Lesson learned, yes. But at my children's expense. It's not easy to live with that. So, I'm hoping that over the years my advice has been taken by a least one person and that at least one family was saved. That's how I deal with it, anyway. I can only hope.

Okay, moving on...the last time I cried. I have to say, I have really never been a big crier. But over the last three years, I feel like I've made up for a lifetime of crying. And I'm not talking about a little tear here and there or crying at the end of a sad movie. I'm talking about an uncontrollable cry that comes from a place so deep inside your gut that it feels like it is being ripped out of you (when we lost Ruben J) and another kind of cry that comes out of nowhere and lasts for hours (when I missed Eddie's first call home from Basic Training) and yet another kind of intense cry that comes from a place of relief and happiness (when I finally did get a call from Eddie). Too much loss and change at one time for me, for sure.  It was very overwhelming. The last time that I cried, though, was for a student who was killed in an accident in 2012. Although I had become closer to her than some of my other students, I still only knew her on the teacher/student level, so I was kind of surprised by my reaction. I guess, though, once those floodgates opened, it was all over with. And, so, I guess I have now become a bit of a crier. And, that's okay :)

Oh, my. This is a bit of a downer blog post, isn't it?! Well, lets move onto a lighter subject....

What makes me feel better, always? I bet you can guess! Yep, it's my kids. Whether it is Eddie doing one of his impressions or poking fun at my (imaginary!) lisp, or Little Man telling me not to worry and to live in the moment, or Sister being the patient, attentive, non-judgmental  listener that she is, they ALWAYS make me feel better, no matter what.
Have a great day! And stay tuned... I'm working on re-stocking at Blumenhof. The pouches, bibs and onesies all sold in the past, so I'll be working on those first. I'm also planning some small paintings and fiber wall hangings with a wine theme. I'll keep you posted!    Juli

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blogger challenge #19, 8.13.14

It's ridiculous how some people have to update their Facebook status about every little thing they do and who they're with. They think they have lives But they really don't...3 words : Get a life!

...My worst habits.

Well, I have two. Number one- procrastination or "killing" time. Number two- social media/cellphone checking. But, honestly, the two go hand-in-hand. Procrastination has always been there, but it has gotten WAY worse since Facebook, Pinterest and getting an IPhone. Facebook and Pinterest was bad enough, but with an IPhone, suddenly, I could "kill" time anywhere, anytime. (Honestly, who has time "to kill"? Not me!)

My procrastination was getting better, I have to say. For example, the last paper I wrote for my Master's degree was a 35 page research paper and I finished and turned it in 10 days before the due date. It felt great to do that! I honestly felt like I had conquered this procrastination problem and was heading in the right direction.

But, then, along came Facebook. Then I discovered Pinterest. Then I got an Iphone. And from that point on, the procrastination has gotten worse. You see, when I'm on Facebook or Pinterest, I can pretend that I am doing something constructive- I'm catching up with friends, I'm getting ideas, I'm doing "research". But, really, all I am doing is procrastinating.When I'm constantly checking my phone, I can pretend that I am so important that I need to make sure no one is trying to "reach me" and that I am not, in fact, just checking Facebook or scanning Pinterest. But, really, all I'm doing is distracting myself  and "killing" time. (I will make an exception here, though. If my kids are trying to reach me- all bets are off- no matter who I'm with , I'm answering my phone.)

Don't get me wrong, there are many good things about social media, in general (I've written about it before on this post). But, you must be disciplined enough to really limit the amount of time you spend on it and to know that you aren't using it as an excuse for not doing something that needs to be done. And, another biggie,  you have to be disciplined enough to NOT check your phone every few minutes or seconds while you are in the company of other people. It's really rude. And, I have to admit, I've been more guilty of that lately. The other day, we spent several hours "talking wine" with one of the authors of the blog MOwineplease. He is 27 years old and for four hours (four hours!) I didn't even see his cellphone. (I mention his age because it seems like the "phone checking" is most prevalent with younger people. Although, to be honest, I'm noticing it much more with "older" people as well.) It was refreshing, really.  He was passionate about something and he wanted to have a conversation- with us. He was animated and excited and hungry for the knowledge that M. could give him about wine. He didn't need to check his phone. He didn't feel the need to "kill" his time with us. He was engaged. Right there. For four hours. With us.

I was impressed. And it has really made me think about my own social media/cell phone habits.
So, I'm going to kick this bad habit in the butt! If I am nothing else, I am pretty disciplined and determined in most other areas of my life, so I have every confidence that I can do it.  But everyone needs a little help, so here are some tips from  one of my favorite simple living blogs Be More with Less

Have a great day!  Juli

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blog challenge catch-up (aka-cheat!), 8.9.14

I'm totally cheating here, in order to finish the blog challenge before I go back to work. So, I picked several  of the remaining challenge topics to include in a list, similar to this House of Humble post and this post. I chose the topics that could be easily answered in one, two or a few sentences. So here goes:

#17- My favorite childhood books: 1) Green Eggs and Ham (first book I read on my own), 2) Corduroy 3) Any of the Little House on the Prairie books

#18- What am I afraid of ? Something happening to my kids, being laughed at, running out of money

#20- Where I want to be in ten years- A year away from retirement, with a firmly established Olive and Ash small business and a tiny house :)

#21- Something I miss- Going for "drives". We used to take the kids for "drives"- just anywhere, with no plan. We'd all pile in the truck with a cooler in the back and just GO. Loved that.

#22- Ten favorite songs-1) Roll Me Away by Bob Seger 2) Misunderstanding by Genesis 3) Carry On Wayward Sun by Kansas 4) Understanding by Bob Seger 5) In the Air Tonight by Genesis 6) Beautiful Loser/Travelin' Man by Bob Seger 7) Come away with me by Norah Jones 8) You Can Leave Your Hat On by Joe Cocker 9) Into the Mystic by Van Morrison 10) These are the days by Van Morrison

#23-Pet peeves- People crunching their food when they chew. Oh, my! Drives me crazy. I guess I inherited that 'peeve' from my dad.

#25- Best physical features- 1) my smile (I think my teeth are slightly too big for my mouth/face-which I think makes it the feature that stands out the most)
2) strong bones (I've never broken a bone except for my toe) and flexibility ( I'm pretty "bendy"!)
3) my hair (I actually have the WORST hair- thin, fine, dull- which led to my short haircut. Not my #1 choice, but I think it must just work with my face.)

#26- 5 favorite blogs- Posie Gets Cozy, An Inch of Gray, House of Humble, Cozy Things, Carol Marine's Painting a Day,
and of course, MK Designs Photography  (Who has been SO supportive of this blog!) Thanks, M.T. 
Yeah, I know that's six blogs :) It's very hard to narrow them down.

#29- Top things on my bucket list-I'll list the top three: 1) Travel out of the country- my top picks- England and Ireland 2) Take my kids and grandkids on a trip of a lifetime- my pick here would be to their Grandma's hometown of Kaisersech, Germany 3) Re-learn enough German so I can enjoy #2!

#30- Favorite comfort food- ice cream- now, specifically, So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream-chocolate or Mocha Almond Fudge

#31- Weird quirk of mine- rubbing my feet together when I go to sleep. (I've always thought this was weird, but M. does the same, exact thing. Funny!)

#'s 27, 28, 19 and 24 will follow :)

Have a great Saturday!  I'm headed to this place:
Blumenhof Winery

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blogger Challenge #15 and #16, 8.7.14

#15- Timeline of my day, #16- My Dream Job... It's pretty convenient that these two topics fell together on the list. First of all, during the summer, I don't really have a set timeline to my day. Every day is different and I feel like a fish out of water, most of the time. So, as the new school year approaches, I really look forward to having my routine back. And the routine of a school day is perfect for me. Each hour is different, so I almost never get bored. And the entire day is filled with creating. Me, creating things/ideas/concepts for my students; my students, taking those ideas, running with them and creating things of their own. I couldn't think of a better job for me. It is my dream job. So, here is a timeline of my typical, dream job, work day:

4:45- alarm goes off, hit snooze once, hit snooze twice
5:03- get up, eat my oatmeal and green tea while I catch up on Facebook/blogs
5:45- 7:05-yoga, get clothes ready for the day, shower, makeup, take my dog out for a short walk, gather my things for the day
7:05-7:45- drive to work
7:45-8:30- read my e-mails, hall duty (woo hoo!!)
8:30- 9:20- plan time- make copies, organize supplies for the day, write goals on board, etc.
9:20-3:20- teach a variety of classes, depending on the year- Intro. to Design, Drawing, Painting, Fine Craft, Art Appreciation
3:30-4:00- hall duty or parking lot duty (woo hoo!!), wrap up my day, close out computer, etc. I try to get out by 4 or 4:15 each day, especially since my drive time is longer now. I bring work home with me, if needed, as by 4:00 or so I really feel the need to exit the building and get some fresh air
4:00-4:40- drive home
4:45-6:00- take my dog for a walk, work on projects that I have going at home (making,blogging, or grading, if needed), catch up on facebook/blogger, , etc.
6:00-7:45- make supper, eat supper, visit with my husband
7:45-8:15- yoga
8:15-10:00- relax- t.v., movies, our "regular" shows (Bill Maher, Anthony Bourdain), etc.

Obviously, there are variations to this routine, but, for the most part, this is it.

It's funny to think back to a few years ago and how "anti-routine" I was. It sounded old and boring to me to say "I have a routine.". Well, now I don't really care if it sounds old and boring. I need a routine!  And I've come to love it. My goal now is to become disciplined enough during the summer months and weekends to develop a routine during that time, too. I accomplish so much more when I know what I am going to be doing from the moment I wake up.

Well, I hope that wasn't too much boring information for you. I'm pretty sure it was, though, so I'll leave you with some art, words, etc. that have been inspiring to me, lately.

by Myriam Zorge
Found here. Love this organic looking piece.

Found here. Just looking at this makes my hands hurt, but, I would love to try  it. Love the layers.
What is a Mandala? Loved and Pinned by to our Yoga community boards
Found here. I recently had a dream about mandalas. Weird, huh? I'm thinking it has to mean something, I just haven't quite figured out what that is, yet.

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Yep. Found here.
 Have a great day!  Juli