June 30, 2014

How I Painted an Abstract Piece

I've been wanting a large, abstract art piece to hang above our couch. Unfortunately the paintings I loved were far out of my price range. Luckily, I found a large canvas marked way down at Micheals, and decided to attempt my own version of abstract art (albeit waaay out of my comfort zone).

Anytime I've tried this before, it's come out looking like a big jumbled color mess without any form to it. It didn't look like the paintings I loved. So this time I wanted to try a few different techniques:

1. I painted with a palette knife instead of brushes. This was a little awkward at first, but I really loved slapping paint around with these tools once I began!

2. I covered the canvas. I put down the first layer of paint trying to place all the colors I wanted in each quadrant of the canvas without overwhelming it. Not sure I succeeded because it sort of looked like the jumbled mess paintings from before, but I still had a few other steps to try.

3. I wanted thicker layers, so after the paint dried, I slathered molding paste onto the canvas. I just happened to have an almost full jar on hand from a previous project ~ whoo-hoo!

4. When the paste dried, I spotlighted my feature colors and made them the focus of the painting. I'll admit it was difficult trying to keep the focal colors as the focus without making them stark against the rest of the painting. The only advice I have is to add lot and lots of layers.

5. I added cascading colors. The painting still didn't look right to me, or at least not how I wanted it to look. I noticed that the art pieces I loved so much had a cascading flow to them. When I finally realized that, I began working to make my colors "waterfall" from top to bottom. 

6. I loved seeing movement with the brush strokes, so I added more of that. I wanted lots of layers and lots of texture. 

7. I added white space. I noticed I wasn't happy unless there was a large amount of white space, so I indulged myself. 

Here is the final result:

It was a fun challenge, but painting an abstract piece is much harder than it looks!

Have you ever tried a project out of your comfort zone?

June 27, 2014

Mini-Style: 10 Pieces, 25 Outfits

{More photos below}

I really enjoyed experimenting with this summer capsule wardrobe.

Taking photos of all the outfits inadvertently helped me see what items go better with my shape than others. I'll be making some changes for July.

Here are three things I learned using 10 pieces for 25 outfits:

1. Don't have too many similar pieces.
I quickly found that even though my black blouse has a pattern, it's not obvious enough to look different from my black t-shirt. That meant that some of my outfits ended up looking too similar. There was also a black cardigan that didn't get much use because I had so much black already in my wardrobe. Not sure why I chose all that black in the summertime.

2. Incorporate a versatile dress.
The dress ended up being my most versatile piece in the entire set! I didn't plan on that, but wow, it was fun. I used it as a scarf, skirt, flowing shirt, and peplum top. The elastic in the middle really helped to be able to wear it creatively.

  • For a scarf, I wrapped the elastic waist around my neck and hid the straps inside.
  • For a skirt, I tucked the top inside and let the elastic be my waistband. 
  • For the flowing shirt, I pulled the dress on but left the elastic under my armpits. This made it look like an extra ruffle at the top and open at the base. I'm not sure this would've worked as well without a ruffle already in place.
  • For the peplum, I simply tucked the dress into my bottoms, and then pulled it out just enough to create a peplum.

3. A neutral cardigan appears to be another top.
Most people focus on the outter layer of an outfit ~ that's what they remember. So if you're wearing the same shirt underneath that you wore earlier in the week, it doesn't appear to be the same because the cardigan is different on top.

What's the most versatile piece in your closet?

June 25, 2014

Minimalist Makeup

I used to keep tons of extra makeup on hand, "just in case". But I found that most of the time what I was using was a small sampling of all the products I had in the bathroom.

There were certain things I loved wearing and those were the ones I kept coming back to. When we had to clean out the cabinets of our bathroom for repairs, I found all kinds of make-up stuff that I'd probably held onto for five or ten years. Unopened! Yikes.

Nowadays all my makeup fits into a small travel bag. When I start running out of something, I simply get a new one. Giving myself permission to do that has kept me from hoarding "just in case" back-ups.

The only thing I don't keep in this bag is my facial cleansing set, which I keep in a separate bag.

In my makeup bag:

  • Small tweezers
  • Mascara
  • Eye pencil
  • Foundation
  • Powder
  • Blush
  • Lipstick
  • Lipgloss
  • Makeup sponge
  • Deodorant
  • Comb
  • Bracelet (not sure why it's in my makeup bag, but I do love to wear it ~ made by women across the globe)

I'm pretty simple when it comes to makeup. I wear it every day, but I keep it light to look natural.

What's in your make-up bag?

June 23, 2014

Cozy Minimalist: Walls

I thought it'd be fun to share what I perceive as the balance between minimalist cold and minimalist cozy. I'll use my entry wall for an example.

I humorously refer to myself as a "cozy minimalist". I love learning about minimalism and whittling down my stuff, but I also love things to feel warm and inviting. When I think of cozy, I think of quilts, cushions, carpets, pillows and color!

This seems opposite of what I imagine an avid minimalist would own. I assume their home would not have fluffy things and would be mostly neutral. I'm not there yet. For now, I prefer to reduce my stuff from overwhelming-chaos to simple-cozy. This feels doable to me.

I love having color all around me {artsy girl}, so obviously my decor reflects that. My husband loves black and white photography, so we have that in the living room. The combination of the two keep our home's style a bit eclectic but it's a good representation of us.

I hung this small selection of my art in a loose arrangement. I didn't want it to appear too aligned, but still wanted some form to it. I decided on six pieces because I thought it was a good number to showcase my style without going overboard.

What do you like on your walls?

June 20, 2014

In My {Goodwill} Bag

With all the chaos with our house in May, we lived temporarily in a rent house of a friend. I only had four pots (sauce pan, soup pan, casserole dish and skillet), a few silverware, plates and cups. And you know what?

It was wonderful.

There were no leftover dishes in the sink. Every night I could fit everything in the dishwasher and voila, it was done the next morning. We didn't have much to mess up, so very little got dirty.

It once again made me aware of how much excess I have at home. I returned to dust filled kitchen cabinets and the task of washing everything in them. I found myself tossing more and more into giveaway bags (and sometimes trash) thinking thoughts like:

"It's been years since I used this." 
"I don't remember having this." 
"This is worn out, why was I keeping it?"
"Where did this come from?"
"What is this?"

If I didn't know what it was or hadn't used it in a really long time, I put it in giveaway. I wish I'd taken photos of that first batch, but I was too busy at the time. However, I thought it'd be fun (and hopefully encouraging) to periodically show what's in my goodwill bag.

Today I have:

  • Frankenstein pillow (above)
  • Diaper cream (above) - my kids are teens, ha, no need for this anymore.

  • Karaoke machine 

  • Sponge rollers

  • Child's sleeping bag ~ my kids have outgrown it.

It's been super freeing to be giving things away each week to people I know who might want it and then to Goodwill for the rest. Our home seems much more spacious and I hope to continue moving in that direction.

Do you find it hard to give things away? Or do you give away stuff away as soon as you bring something new into the house?

June 18, 2014

Summer Capsule Wardrobe 2014

It's always thrilling for me to see how many outfits I can make from ten pieces. I get a little obsessive about it. Sooo, I thought it'd be fun this summer to let you see how many outfits can be made from so few pieces. The set above is the first capsule I'm going to work with.

This set is not all the clothes I own, but I'd like to experiment with wearing only these. In July I may switch out the jeans for another pair of shorts or another dress. But I want to play with this little group for now.

Since I'm trying to be less consumeristic with my purchases, I'll list where each item came from. While making the list, I was happy to see that most of these pieces I didn't even purchase myself. Here's the break down:

  • Blue Gap t-shirt (hand-me-down ~ sister)
  • Black v-neck t-shirt (hand-me-down ~ mom)
  • Teal shorts (thrift store)
  • Summer dress (hand-me-down ~ daughter)
  • Black blouse (hand-me-down ~ sister)
  • Purple blouse (hand-me-down ~ sister)
  • Army-green skirt (thrift store)
  • Cream long-sleeved cardigan (hand-me-down~ sister)
  • Black short-sleeved cardigan (hand-me-down ~ daughter)
  • Red jeans (thrift store)

Yes, I have some rather colorful pieces but I really love bright colors ~ they make me smile. I tried to stay away from too many patterns. If I had a monochromatic color palette I might add more patterns. With bright colors, I've focused more on solids to keep it from being too overwhelming.

All the tops go with all the bottoms. The only article of clothing not compatible with all the other pieces is the black cardigan ~ I don't particularly like black on black but a scarf might help it work. If the black cardi becomes a big hindrance I'll switch it out too.

Have you ever experimented with a capsule wardrobe?

(See the 25 outfits I created in this post!)

June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

I'm one of the lucky ones. My Dad has always been involved in my life, full of tenderness and generosity. I know that kind of love is sometimes rare and I'm incredibly grateful for it.

I also lucked out with my husband. He's hilarious, strong and kind with our kids. The pictures below, are of him with each of our kids when they were years younger than they are now. Such precious memories.

Happy Father's Day to the two most important men in my life. Love you!

June 13, 2014

Lately... the beginning of summer

Drinking coffee on the porch is one of my favorite transitions into warmer weather. Of course, when the temperatures climb to meltingly-hot my coffee will be iced.

My eldest graduated high school. Isn't she stunning? I might be a tiny bit proud. This girl has enough moxie to take over the world.

Can you spot him? Silliness is a mandate of summer, and I love that he's not "too cool" to be silly.

We all went to see movies and mine was Malificent, which was magnificent! Seriously, you should go see it.

Rolling on our new carpet ~ we all took a turn. Nothing makes you grateful for carpet like cold, dusty cement floors.

I laugh every time my youngest daughter strikes this pose. It's her spoof on posing for selfies. Don't you love her curls? She creates them so effortlessly. When she was little, her head was covered in ringlets, so she comes by it naturally I guess.

Hanging out with friends and celebrating another school year over.

This summer has been off to a great start now that we have all our things back in the house. I only have a few more boxes to unload before being completely unpacked. It's so heavenly to be home. I've been taking stuff to Goodwill like crazy, so we've reduced a huge portion of our belongings which makes it easier to find a place for everything and keep it neat. I have yet to swim in our neighborhood pool but I'm hoping soon, very soon.

How is your summer going, so far?

June 11, 2014

Five June Goals

Time to review last month's goals. Here's what I did/didn't accomplish in May:

1. Read a book outside. Check! It was lovely.

2. Get a cheap pedal exerciser to use under the desk while writing or watching movies. This didn't happen, but I'm hoping it will soon.

3. Paint my desk before moving it into my studio. No, but I did manage to decoupage it (that's close to painting, right?).

4. Grow an herb plant. Yes! Not one but three little plants growing in my kitchen window.

5. Have a picnic. No, but I plan to do this before it gets too hot.

Now for June goals, here we go:

1. Berry picking. This is on my list every year and I still haven't done it. Maybe this will be the year!

2. Decorate my house. With everything off the walls, it's given us a chance to have a fresh start. I've got some fun arrangements planned.

3. Clean up and cutify the backyard. I don't expect it to be landscape perfect, but I'd like to feel confident taking friends out there and not shutting the shades to hide "the jungle".

4. Finish some new upcoming features for this blog (hint: it involves capsule wardrobes)!

5. Swim. I love swimming and although my kids are old enough to go to the pool without me, I really want to get some time in the water before it turns warm as bath water in August.

What are you hoping to do this June?

{See May's goals here and July's goals here}