Monday, August 31, 2015

Last week's picture is a tad belated since we've been under the weather around our house. But even a little cold can't stop Lady J from pulling off some of THE BEST faces around. Classic. And besides, isn't it easier to be sunny when you're wearing daisies? 

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

How to Find Murals in Your Neighborhood

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A few years ago, when I was living in DC, I remember driving into work one morning when I spotted a giant mural on a shuttered building. Without thinking I pulled over and took a picture of the spectacular wall I had somehow never noticed before. Isn't that how it goes though? As soon as you become attuned to something you can't help seeing it everywhere. Have you noticed the recent mural trend? If you've read this blog for a while you know I started incorporating images of murals into my monthly updates. Also I love the subtle message murals convey: a visual reminder that accessible art is everywhere when you truly look for it.

And mural spotting is such a great low-cost activity. It can be done in a car or on foot; solo or with a group. Next time you're stumped what to do on a boring Tuesday night try scoping out some of the fantastic street art right in your own backyard. I promise you'll enjoy yourself and it might even inspire a burst of creativity in your own life.

That said, here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Search online images: This is a fast way to look for murals in your city by simply typing "Your City murals" into Google Images. From the results you can click on images that interest you and get an idea of where they are. Sometime it will even give you the coordinates for an exact location. Other times, like happened to me recently, you'll just have a part of the city or neighborhood to explore on your own. Funny thing about that experience, I ended up driving around some construction and drove directly to the mural on the first street I tried. Guess my car has an internal mural GPS!

2. Check out hashtags: Social media is a great place to look for murals. A couple of my favorite Instagram sources are #studiodiywallcrawl and #ABMlovesmurals. You don't even have to have an account to search the pictures. Which again can be hit or miss on pinpointing an exact location. Just know that you might have to scout around for a bit until you become familiar with what's in your neighborhood.
3. Try known hot spots: It may sound a little strange but without fail I often find murals in the following three places: the seedier parts of town, ethnic communities or neighborhoods, and near schools and/or parks.

4. Drive around: Remember back in the day when you had to drive around to look for "For Rent" signs in college? Oh wait, maybe that was just me. But seriously, do a loop around a neighborhood or street you have never been before and keep an eye out. It can be a little tricky when you're driving, because eyes on the road, but I happened upon one of my favorite murals this way just because I varied my normal Saturday morning routine.
5. Keep looking: Not all murals are signed, but when they are you can search to see if the artist has any other works in the same city. New murals pop up all the time and similarly they also disappear overnight. Last week I went to a neighborhood I knew had several murals on the same street and one of the images was being removed to make way for a new one. And finally, don't forget to look for murals when you travel. It's a fun way to get to areas of town you might not otherwise see.

Top mural found in Athens, GA; bottom two murals located in Wichita, KS. 


Saturday, August 22, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Amelia's First Birthday Party

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Last Saturday we celebrated Amelia's first birthday with a big bash. As a child I loved having a summer birthday and was secretly thrilled when I found out my due date was the same month as my own birthday. Sure we now have three birthdays within two weeks but it's kind of fun to cram all the celebration into one short burst.

When I started thinking of how I envisioned Amelia's party I kept going back to the coral accent wall in her bedroom, which we jokingly referred to as gender neutral color because we didn't find out her gender before she was born. With that as a launching pad I decided to stick with a sherbet palette. Then I found this book and knew flamingos absolutely had to be part of the festivities.
In a happy coincidence many of the packages and party guests even coordinated with the color scheme unbeknownst to them. The day before the party I had one major hiccup with the smash cake frosting and ended up going with a regular buttercream mix instead. Turns out Amelia only wanted to eat the raspberries and scrap off a little frosting with her index finger. So much for demolishing the cake. Ha!
For the food I wanted something hearty yet refreshing and something that would capture all the flavor of summer. These chicken pesto sandwiches were a hit, paired with a kale brussel sprout salad and a monochromatic fruit medley. My friends made the most ridiculously adorable flamingo sugar cookies and I set out some squeeze packets for our littlest guests. A week before the party I found a $2 Goodwill ceramic pot that was perfect for a floral arrangement. Thanks to Trader Joe's roses and foraged neighborhood flowers I assembled the centerpiece in about 20 minutes. 
Over the course of Amelia's first year I took monthly photos of her in front of the giant Stendig calendar. They were a fun visual at the party and even though it was sometimes hard to get a decent shot of her not flailing her limbs or climbing out of the frame I'm SO glad we did that every month. Now I kind of want to leave it up permanently! Fortunately I also put the same pictures in her baby book so she can look at it when she gets a little older. 
I wanted our guests to leave with something fun which is why I spent a couple weeks crafting during nap time to create these happy-making flamingo pull toys. Every time I look at the one I made for Amelia I break into a huge smile, happy that I took the time to spread out party preparations for nearly a month. For the bigger kids I set up a flamingo ring toss in our backyard, which I think would have been a fun activity for the adults too had it not been so hot outside. 
Amelia was a riot throughout the party, making funny faces and walking around the room attached to one of her parents' fingers. (She's not quite walking.) We were so lucky to have my mom visit from Utah and my aunt drive up from Georgia. They laughed and chatted with us the night before the party while Ken and I assembled our first ever balloon banner and we ate the cookies my sister sent. The key to making a successful balloon banner? Two people, fishing line, lots of colorful balloons, gaffer tape, and patience. Luckily it turned out great and made a huge impact. 

Even though she won't remember this I'm so grateful we were able to celebrate the success of one year together. Amelia multiplies happiness in our home and we love to see the light and joy she shares with others. Happy Birthday darling girl.
A huge thanks to my friend Alexis for capturing this special day.


Friday, August 14, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Wednesday Morning at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Often I give St. Louis flak for being a blue-collar beer and baseball town. While that may be true St. Louis also has some hidden gems I've been noticing more lately. I remember when we first moved to St. Louis (three years ago next month), everyone told me it was a great place to raise kids. At the time I sort of rolled my eyes and thought yeah, yeah. But now that's exactly what I'm doing—raising a kid in the Midwest. This may not be a permanent location for us, but in my current phase of life living as if it were somehow makes me more present, and being present has a way of making a situation more satisfying.

This morning my little miss and I took advantage of free Wednesday morning admission at the Botanical Garden. The weather was near perfect and we got there early enough that the crowds were still minimal. Every few feet I would stop to unload Amelia from her stroller and plop her down in a new location for another picture. She loved it and I left feeling happy and refreshed. I suppose cities, like people, can grow on you over time.
Ps. Four other reasons to like St. Louis. 


Friday, August 7, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Currently | 8.3.2015

Monday, August 3, 2015

WATCHING: After a couple friends recommended Call the Midwife I decided to give it a try and ended up binge watching the first three seasons. Have you seen it? Also, I just watched the Tig Notaro documentary on Netflix and was completely transfixed by her story. SO GOOD.

EATING: This tangy drink was an unexpected treat. Also, this pasta sauce was spicy and tangy with a delicious unexpected flavor combination.

READING: Picture books mostly. We've read this one every day this week. Also, this illustration was so on point. I ended up falling down a rabbit hole and reading many of the hilarious parenting posts.

ENJOYING: Waking Amelia around the house, bent over, as she kicks out her wobbly legs at the knee. Sometimes I imagine she's a wee bit drunk.

MAKING: Favors and goodies for a certain one-year-old's birthday party. Eeep!

LISTENING: In desperate need of new music. Any recommendations?

THINKING ABOUT: How to travel internationally with a baby.

REMEMBERING: A simple relaxing birthday weekend, made possible by my kind and generous husband and an impromptu picnic of cake on my living room floor.

EXCITED FOR: A week long road trip and family reunion with my little crew starting tomorrow. Then having my mom come for a visit! Looks like August is already shaping up to be a great month.

Mural located in St. Louis, MO. 

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