Words: Wisdom

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I can't imagine anything but music that could have brought about this alchemy. Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.

—Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies

Thoughts on Blogshop

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The last several days have been a bit of a blur and while I'm still processing the weekend, I wanted to share some thoughts while they're still fresh. Early Friday morning I left St. Louis to travel by train to Chicago for Blogshop (a two-day Photoshop workshop for bloggers). You might remember one of my resolutions for 2014 was to take more classes. So this was a perfect opportunity for me to brush up on some of my creative skills.
The workshop was held in a bright and airy loft in Chicago's West Loop. Filled with colorful and vintage touches throughout, at first I felt so energized by the surroundings and new people. Here I was in a city I loved, heart open, feeling thankful that I had such an amazing opportunity. I wanted to make the most of it. Plus I was going home with a jumbo confetti balloon. My hopes were high indeed. The first day started out slow, covering basic things like layers, sizing, keyboard shortcuts, cropping and color bar. All useful tools, but much of what I was already familiar with. After lunch the pace accelerated and we were able to cover several new (to me) concepts. But by the end of the first day I was mentally and socially exhausted.
The second day was a lot of the same, only I felt different. First, I was bothered by how one of the instructors (both well-known and successful creative women) condescendingly answered one of my questions. Boo! The interns, on the other hand, were very kind and thoughtful in their response to all my future questions. Add to that my dismay at seeing the "professional" photographs that were taken the first day. Sadly I was expected to use these photographs for many of the tasks on the second day; but I couldn't understand how the images had come out so poorly from someone who was supposedly a pro. With each passing hour I felt my anxiety level rise and my shoulders tighten. By the end of the workshop I was tailspinning into a full-on mental disconnect, trying desperately to process the gulf between the cost of the conference and what I felt I gained from it. In the end, if I had the chance to do it over again, I would have made the smaller investment and taken the course virtually.

Perhaps the best part of the entire weekend was staying with my friend from graduate school and her fiancé at their lovely second-floor flat. As soon as I left the sea of Mac computers I felt liberated. Free to connect with people that I genuinely cared about. One night we walked through the bitter cold to enjoy a hearty meal in an Irish pub. Another night my hosts made a delicious dish of chicken curry, served over a blend of wild grains. Comfortable in their company, we chatted about life and goals, books and weddings. And it was only then that I felt the pressure lift and my heart lighten.

With strangers it becomes so easy to compare. To feel the pressure to have the best blog, or create the snappiest mood board, or to wear the most fashionable outfit. Anything to separate yourself from the others. This past weekend worlds collided and I realized that I feel at my best when I'm with friends. More genuine and authentic. Which might, after all, be more valuable than any keyboard shortcut.

All images by me. 

Currently | 1.21.2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

EATING: Since I try to eat in season I always get a little sad when it comes to winter fruit. After weeks of apples and oranges I desperately crave a little variety in my diet. Last week I made some lemon ricotta pancakes, which helped. But I recently reacquainted my taste buds with tart dried cherries. Have you had these? So so good. And I love that I can get them for el cheapo at Aldi.

MAKING: Handmade Valentine cards for Lyndsey's annual swap. This is my first year participating and I'm really excited to create something pretty to send off in the mail.  If you want to get in on the fun feel free to sign up by this Friday.

READING: My first eBook. After living without a laptop for six years I decided it was time to get with the program. A couple weeks ago I purchased a MacBook Pro and promptly named him Bertie. We've become pretty close. Right now I/we are reading Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist.

WATCHING: This witty five minute clip comes from a 2010 TED talk but I've watched it a couple times in the last week.  Also, January seems to be the month of documentaries. Cutie and The Boxer (recently nominated for a Academy Award) is a film about two artists, working together, both on their art and their relationship. I found it to be an entertaining take on what it means to follow your passion. Find it on Netflix along with Blackfish, a film about killer whales in captivity.

EXCITED FOR: Blogshop this weekend in Chicago. It will be my first professional blog conference! Which kind of feels like graduating to the BIG kids club or something. I've heard great things about the two-day workshop and I can't wait to interact with other creative folks, while simultaneously learning something new.

Honoring Winter

Friday, January 17, 2014

Winter is an important season in our lives. It is more than a time of coldness and snow. It's a time of going within. A time to rest from the work that's been done, a time to prepare for the lessons ahead. Long for the sun on your shoulders, but let the frost and cold come. The ground has been left fallow in preparation for nourishing the seeds of new life. Honor winter's lesson. Despite this time of lifelessness and inactivity, this is still a season of growth. Trust what's being worked out in your soul. The snow will melt. The sun will shine again. The time will come to remove your heavy garb and return to the activity of life. 
—Melody Beattie from Journey to the Heart

The other day I wandered through Bowood Farms Nursery for some daily inspiration and desperately needed sunshine. The light in the greenhouse was so perfect that I was mentally transported to my holiday in the South of France. Sitting among container pots of ripe kumquats in the middle of January felt exotic and hopeful. Hopeful that the gray of winter would pass and life would resume once again. And even though it still surprises me to see our summer garden plot now covered in snow, the ground—just a few months ago bursting with life—frozen and unyielding, I am awakened to a remembrance that each season serves its purpose. Winter being filled with introspection and quiet moments. What are some ways you honor and cope with the long winter months?

Book Binding 101

Thursday, January 16, 2014

When I was a teenager (right around 14 years-old) I started taking classes at the community center near our home. At the time one of my church leaders taught many of the classes, which was part of my motivation for enrolling. I would take classes two nights a week or on a Saturday morning. Without fail I was always the youngest one in the class, which didn't bother me at all. Though the classes varied: book binding, card making, rubber stamping, and calligraphy, the common theme was always paper. Anything and everything related to paper. We would make little origami boxes, or pop-up greeting cards, and then address envelopes with a flourished script. I loved it. It was structured art that gave me something to do besides study, plus it boosted my adolescent self-confidence.

Fast forward several years and this past weekend I found myself sitting in another classroom surrounded by familiar book binding tools. Our goal for the afternoon was to create a chain stitch journal in three hours. Though I won't outline the entire step-by-step process here (check out this similar tutorial), these images should give you an idea of how to make your own book. Once your book is complete make sure you let it rest under a heavy object for several days to several weeks.

  • One Lineco Linen Tape Journal kit
  • Two pieces of 6 x 8 decorative paper or one large piece of paper
  • Two pieces of 4 3/4 by 6 3/4 paper for the inside flap
  • Three 32 inch piers of waxed linen thread in any color
  • One piece of Lineco book cloth, 2 x 15 inches
  • Needle, scissors, bone folder, awl, PVA Glue, and Glue Brush 

Hello, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The first month of 2014 is already half over and here I am just starting to write about resolutions. As much as I enjoy goal setting and self-improvement, I am a firm believer that change can happen at any moment of the year. On a given Wednesday morning for example, or maybe a random Friday afternoon in late April. Although moving from one year to the next often gets hyped as the only time to hit the refresh button, there's no rule that says all goals must be made on January 1. In fact, I have found success and peace of mind by allowing myself the opportunity to improve as needed throughout the year.

Of course GH and I started this year with our annual Post-it board tradition, which is kind of like goal setting but a lot more fun. Every morning I look at those 12 sticky notes (we decided to cut back from 24) hanging in our hallway and smile. This is our fourth consecutive year making a Post-it board and I can attest that writing down goals and looking at them every day makes a huge difference in accomplishing said tasks.

One of our BIG goals for 2014 is to buy a house! It's daunting and crazy and amazing to think about the process and I'm sure you'll hear some stories along the way.

As to what I would like to accomplish personally for 2014 I have a short list.
  1. Continue reading two books a month. I did this last year and found that it was just about the right amount for me. This year I hope to read at least one biography and a couple motivational non-fiction selections. Recommendations are welcome.
  2. Make one new recipe a week. Since I love to cook and follow a lot of cooking blogs I know this will be an easy goal to accomplish. 
  3. Continue going to the gym 3-5 days a week. I started doing this at the beginning of last November (see, new goals can happen any time) and it has made such a difference in how I feel. Plus I have a new gym buddy, which makes 5:00am wake-up calls tolerable.
  4. Take new classes. This is one goal I'm really excited about. Not only do I get to learn new things, I get to interact with other people in a new environment. All good things in my opinion. 
  5. Stay in an Airbnb rental. Travel is in my soul and this year I'd like to try using this great resource for planning where to stay on my next trip. It has the look and feel of VRBO, but with a much friendlier web interface. Now where to go is the hard question. 

My Bookbloom All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger