November 28, 2012

Photo an Hour: Birthday Edition

This is probably more of a gift-an-hour post rather than photo-an-hour, ha. I did much better this birthday at noticing each tiny moment; but not so well at taking a photo on the hour. It was a savory, relaxing day.
After morning coffee I had this sweet stack of presents waiting for me.
A coffee ring, literally. hee-hee. I think they know me. Isn't it the cutest??
Lindor chocolates? Oh yes, they know me. And in case you're wondering, I shared.
If you've followed me for long, you know how much I love Tink, or any fairy really. I can't wait to wear this!!
That evening we went to a Jamacian restaurant that I love and pretty much pigged out on curry chicken, plantains and festival bread. This photo naturally blurred yet I love how it subtly shows my family.
 We walked to some really cool shops and I loved almost everything in this one.
 See what I mean? Who couldn't love a felt camera case as adorable as this?
And who doesn't need a purse that says, "Love More"? It was kinda hard not to spend all my birthday money.
They had tons of candy, many of which we'd never seen. My husband made a game of it. He said he'd buy us all a candy bar of our choice but it had to be one we hadn't tried before. We scoured each bin and took forever to choose.
My daughter made this cake for our Thanksgiving dinner, but I sort of adopted it as my birthday cake. Kind of wish I could stick a finger in that icing right now. Such sweet moments in this one simple life.

November 26, 2012

Loving Lately: Wardrobe Capsule

Fall/Winter 2012 Wardrobe Capsule

Fall/Winter 2012 Wardrobe Capsule by wingedwriter featuring a long sleeve tee

Last week was so much fun: having my kids home for a week, birthday celebrations and Thanksgiving too! This week may be a letdown after all that excitement, but I never fear the quiet. It wraps itself around me like a blanket and fills up my soul with comforting thoughts. I'm still basking in the goodness of what this past week brought.

1. Setting up my studio in the best arrangement I think I've ever managed. My studio has a tricky layout: two open doorways (no doors) and a large window on one wall. I have to make sure there is room for walking and yet enough storage and table space for making art. I finally feel like I got it right.

2. Creating a clothes capsule. I've talked before about feeling the need to par down my amount of stuff and also just live an eco-friendly life (you might remember the Little Red Dress experiment). I have often read about a capsule wardrobe and understood that it was having a certain amount of basics to set your outfits on. But I read something about having only TEN pieces of clothing for the capsule (not including coats, accessories, shoes, or a few special-occasion dresses) to mix and match. That kind of wowed me and I decided to give it a go. It took me a little bit to figure out what I wanted in my capsule but once I did, it felt right. I boxed up the rest of my clothes and put them away. Didn't want to get rid of them completely until I'm sure this is the set I want to work with.

My capsule consists of: 1 green cable-knit sweater, 1 gray fitted sweater,  4 tops (red with ruffle front, white with pleated front, navy silky, navy pullover), 2 pants (khaki, dark jean), 1 pencil skirt, and 1 gray work dress. (I attempted to match my items to Polyvore items to give you an idea since I didn't have time to take pictures) I picked my favorite items and was honest about what I really wear. Many articles about capsule wardrobes insist on a suit-like jacket, but I rarely wear them and sweaters are more of my go-to layer. I stayed true to what is me. I'll admit, not having my closet crammed full is making me feel light.

3. A new (to us) car! One of our cars was dying. We ended up getting an incredible deal on a Toyota. I am so excited to have it! Reliable cars are a plus. We also managed to sell the dying Sidekick to a young man who felt he could save it. I hope he does! Wish I knew how to fix cars.

4. Reading, reading, reading. I got some really awesome books for my birthday, so I've been nose-deep in them. It always amazes me how full I feel when I read. It's like a fish sliding back into water and breathing easily again.

5. Reducing. Cleaning out has led to so much reduction. I think I'm finally getting it. You only have room for so much; after that, it's just weight. The more garbage bags full of stuff I set out for Goodwill, the happier my mood has become. I realize that often the reason I can't keep up with the clutter is because I have too much. I'm working hard at having a place for everything and everything in it's place.

What are you loving lately?

November 22, 2012

Doghouse Kingdom

I didn't get a final picture so there are a few tweaks that aren't in this photo, but this is very close to the painting I gave my brother. When he opened it, he burst out laughing, along with my sister sitting beside him. I couldn't help laughing myself at the surprise on his face at seeing his dog-babies dressed as royalty. When he hugged me, he whispered, "It's perfect." I was excited to give him a piece of my heart on canvas and then to see it connect in such a tender way; I can't describe how amazing that felt.

I've been contemplating unique ways to use art for Christmas. Do you give handmade gifts for Christmas? Any cool ideas you'd like to share?

Thankful for You!

This beautiful arrangement sits in my parent's home.

I am so thankful for each of you sweet souls who come to my blog and take the time to read and interact with me. It means more than I can express. I hope you'll take this offering of gratefulness to heart; you are a great source of beauty in this one simple life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, oh You!

It's odd how no adult aspires to grow older. Kids have the twenty-something years to look forward to. They mark each birthday and half-birthday anxiously awaiting the moment when everyone around must call them an adult. But no middle age person counts down the time till they're aged. And yet there is something freeing about my age--this marker a bit past middle. 
I feel as though I've finally grown up. I'm able to honestly share my thoughts, less likely to feel I need to please someone else, more compassionate because I've probably done the same stupid things, and all-around more aware. Taking the month of November to observe this one simple life has given me a fresh perspective. Everything around me is alive and pulsing with an energy I have rarely been attentive to. And today is even brighter because it's my birthday.
Normally I take this time to spotlight my twin sister (who obviously shares my birthday) and brother (whose birthday is tomorrow); but today at the risk of sounding narcissistic, I'm staying with me. I'm four years away from the age my sweet friend was when she died. I can't help but think that thought each time I inch closer. Something about her death spurs me forward to follow the whispers pointing to my dreams. She lived her life big and I doubt she had many regrets. If I died now, I might have many. I don't want to end that way. I want to go out explosive--leaving a trail of beauty behind me that continues on without needing my help.
I suppose today I'm feeling reflective and I'm sorry if it seems like a downer; but truly I feel inspired, not sad. I feel compelled to move forward. To forgive others, love in each possible moment and celebrate the tiny, forgotten beauties of life. I'll be keeping my camera in hand today (might even end up with a photo-an-hour post) to capture this day and remember it's simplistic blaze of glory.

November 19, 2012

Shopping from the Bench

To say I hate shopping is a bit of an understatement. It's like trying to get a kid to go to the dentist after describing to them there will be needles and tooth-pulling involved. Sister one and sister two beg me to go shopping often. They plead and bargain, reminding me that they will only shop a short time (uh-huh) and that I could get a coffee or coke if I want (perhaps). They promise that all chores will get finished right after we get home (right).

When the girls were younger, my husband would take them shopping. Yes, you read that right, husband & shopping. He actually likes it. We're a strange couple. But somewhere along the way, they started wanting me. And while I was flattered, I had this sinking feeling of losing a really good thing. But since I love my girls and enjoy spending time with them (minus shopping); I've tried to quit whining when they ask and be a good sport about it. We've come to a compromise that works pretty well.
It's definitely to their advantage to choose a shop with a cafe or a bench. I drive to the shop listening to my music (remember the bargains?). They oblige with a few rolls of the eyes and a bit of tsk-tsking. When we arrive, they escort me to a chair in the cafe or a bench to sit quietly with my book until they need me (aka opinion or money). I enjoy the little interlude until I'm needed.  Eventually they send a text to come to the dressing room or they stop by and show me a pair of shoes or some item on their list. Shopping from the cafe has been a wonderful compromise. And while I'm trying to learn to love shopping (Lord, help me), they're allotting me grace to do it this way . . . for now. I'm thankful for that grace in this one simple life.

November 15, 2012

A Painting for Brother

Here are some peeks of a painting I'm giving my brother for his birthday this weekend. He's been giving hints that he's the only one in the family who doesn't have an original. I didn't want to give him one of my girl paintings, so instead I focused on his two dog-children. This was so fun to paint and collage! It was out of the norm for me, and I've been needing to paint a bit out of the norm. Because my brother's totally smitten with his dogs, Jordan and Toby, I had to name this painting, Doghouse Kingdom. :)

What are you doing this weekend?

November 14, 2012

For the Love of Story

Three different books came to me this week when I needed them. I've had a huge shift happening lately where I feel as though I'm getting re-grounded on new ground. Does that make sense? There's a pivotal movement in my thinking and it's touched everything around me.

The first book I read was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. (She has a new one out now called Happier at Home). I don't necessarily think that the object of life is happiness, but I don't think it's wrong to make life as happy as it can be. Gretchen, the author, goes about it in a methodical way, but shares stories from her journey making it intriguing. She researched all the ways of gaining happiness and then tried them out, a different theme per month for a year. Her findings really got me thinking. I've already incorporated some of her ideas and find that, yes, I am happier. I love research almost as much as she does, so I felt like she was speaking my language! A soul connection.

The second book I read was The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas (aka Story Queen). I've followed Shelley's blog since I began my blogging journey, in fact she was one of my first followers (bless her); so naturally, I was curious about her new middle grade novel. As soon as I began the first few pages, I knew I was going to love it. It's about a girl who collects tales along her journey in search of her father who'd disappeared years before. What caught my attention about it was how much I identified with Trinket. I collect stories! And just as she is a storyteller, I love to tell stories. After finishing the book, I felt this sense of being known.
The third book I read was Storyline by Donald Miller (I touched on this a little when I talked about plotting my life). It's more of a workbook than book, which I loved. But he helps show that you are the character in your own life story. He shows how to ignite an inciting incident in life to move your life forward in the direction you want it to go. (An inciting incident is that moment that everything changes for a character, when they are forced to live differently from then on.) I've been working my way through the book and soaking in the deliciousness of an onslaught of ideas. The last thing I want is to be a stagnant character, a boring character or a character that goes nowhere. So I've set up some inciting incidents for myself that I'll share later on.

I find my mind whirring constantly with thoughts from each of these books. I love when I'm inspired this way. it usually ends up in a core change that is good. It's so good to feed on books in this one simple life.

I'd love to hear your recommendations on books to add to my reading list. Have you read any great ones lately?

November 12, 2012

My Coffee Routine

There is something preciously soothing about making a pot of coffee: the whir of grinding beans as the aroma hits the air; pouring water to the tippy-top line; hearing the drip-drip of Breakfast Blend while I slather peanut butter on two sides of bread. There's a chill in the air which makes the promise of a hot drink even sweeter. Thick socks on my feet, and a soft sweatshirt blanket me while I assemble school lunches like a factory drone. And even though I struggle to meet the early morning, the promise of a cup of coffee awakens my senses and brightness my sleepy little corner of the world.

Today I'm grateful for coffee in this one simple life.

What morning routine do you love?

November 9, 2012

Plotting My Life

I'm plotting my life.

I decided to do this after reading Storyline by Donald Miller. He encourages you to start with a timeline of your life thus far. I wrote various points indicating each major turn in my life, either positive or negative, that left me changed in some way. Some of my turns were small moments, like getting glasses in fourth grade; others were monumental, like losing my friend to cancer. But what I found as I mapped out my story was a theme of redemption. Out of all the heartbreaking moments, emerged beauty. Seeing it written out was surprising and inspiring.
Most of my existence I've just let life happen and for the most part I've been happy with it. But I don't want to continue on the path of just letting life happen. I have things I want to be intentional about--callings I feel led to pursue. I don't want to end up on my deathbed with regrets about not trying something. I've often described myself in limited ways such as unorganized or physically unfit. I don't want to assume that's just me when I have the ability to change. 
I want to be completely honest with myself about desires I wish to pursue. Not avoiding failure, but running towards it. I don't want life to pass by without my participation just because I fear being intentional. I want to dispel that fear and move forward in courage to create a story I'd like to read. It may not turn out dramatic and exciting, but I hope it will be honest and nurturing. I want to live the kind of story that continues beyond my lifespan. So I'm plotting it, just like I'd plot a novel. I'm setting up inciting incidents to force myself forward. I'm terrified and exhilarated. I'll be sharing my journey here as I go: the good, the bad and the ugly.
I'm looking forward to plotting this one simple life. Have you ever thought of plotting your life?

November 7, 2012

The One Beside Me

He washes multiple loads of laundry on his day off. He patiently answers calls from people needing a listening ear. He makes lists of things needing done and diligently finishes it. He laughs at the small quips our children throw him.
The inventor of our creepy hide-the-elf game.
These are the moments I overlook. The ones I take for granted every day. But they're beautiful and telling. He does what is needed. He cares about others. He's a good manager of time. He knows how to enjoy life and have fun.
I'm grateful to have him beside me in this one simple life

Who are you thankful to have by your side?

November 5, 2012

Friendly Front Doors

Isn't it funny how front doors have personalities? Some are brightly colored with mums sitting around them like candles around an altar; others are soothingly calm, wood-colored and adorned with hanging ferns dancing to the music of wind chimes; and some are worn with weather and time, chipped and dented, but still wise in their old age.
We often miss the beauty of our door, welcoming us home after a hectic, disappointing day. It stands there faithfully saying, "You're home, come inside."
My front door is painted white, standing out among the red brick of our house. A paper-collaged bench keeps it company along with pillows made by my late, sweet friend. It's a welcoming entry. One I take for granted almost every day. I get distracted with the weeds growing out of the sidewalk and the funny wasp nests hidden in crevices above the porch light. But I want to change that; I want to notice the friendly front door in this one, simple life.
What about you, what do you love about your front door? Your entry? Or coming home?

November 2, 2012

A Simple Reminder

I decided to paint a motto for the month in an effort to help me notice and be more grateful for this one simple life. I'm putting it in my studio to remind me to stop and think of what I'm grateful for right now.

What are you grateful for in this moment?

November 1, 2012

This One Simple Life

Measuring cups that my eldest and I painted together.

A friend and I were catching up the other day. After listening to a long spill from me, she commented on how lucky I was. Completely taken aback I asked, "Me?" She continued by pointing out the hidden beauty in the story I'd told. I went home that day soaking in her words and feeling aware. There is so much good in life that I overlook--family who love me, friends who reach out, and simple beauty in my surroundings. I forget to appreciate it.

I don't want this one simple life to pass me by unnoticed.

I'm setting aside the month of November to zoom in on what I usually overlook. I'm taking a month to notice and be grateful. I hope you'll journey with me and maybe we'll end up on the other side, seeing more clearly the treasure in our one simple life.