showering a little sister.

saturday couldn’t have been a more perfect day. it (finally!) rained on friday, so by the time saturday rolled around the sky was clear, the clouds were puffy, the breeze was soft and temperature was cool (meaning 80, rather than 100!) when leslie came up the stairs to see our mom’s porch decorated for her shower, she was all smiles! we had a small group join us to celebrate, but it was just perfect!

happily ever after, made by me

the decorations came from a variety of inspiration that started with leslie saying she liked the idea of having a garden party-themed shower. i knew right away there should be fresh flowers in jars (that has become my signature at all parties i plan!), tissue paper flowers, and white lanterns. i also used my collection of vintage sheets as table covers and found special straws! i originally planned this decor for an outdoor tent, but our mom’s front porch worked out even better- it was shaded, close to the food and drinks and we had music!

invitations + extras by rosie day design

playing love song bingo takes a lot of concentration!

we played 3 games (that i mostly made up). game 1 was love song bingo– i made a playlist of love songs to have in the background while everyone was eating & visiting. the bingo card had words commonly heard in love songs (love, breath, want, need…). winners received a scratch off ticket to determine whether they were truly a winner! game 2 was movie couple match-up. leslie loves love…and she especially loves romantic movies, so this game was perfect! game 3 was 20 questions– i asked bo (leslie’s fiance) to answer 20 questions about leslie. the guests had to guess whether he got the answer right or wrong, without knowing his answer. then i asked leslie to answer the questions and and i shared bo’s answers. it was really fun to see how well he knows my little sis (sometimes better than she knows herself!)

the food was all garden party finger food. lovely little appetizers for a bunch of lovely ladies- cheese puffs, cheesy rice balls,  mini pigs in a blanket, homemade pesto + french bread slices, spinach dip + pita chips, fresh veggie crudites, and so much more!! my favorite part was the make your own fruit salad. we had 9 different types of fruit and 3 dipping choices: homemade whipped cream, homemade whipped lemon cream cheese frosting, and strawberry greek yogurt! in addition to the fruit, i made mini lemon polenta cakes with the whipped lemon cream cheese frosting and a blueberry on top. for drinks i served some of leslie’s favorites: pink lemonade and sweet tea, plus my favorite white wine! (honeymoon wine from trader joes- go buy some!)

for favors, i asked leslie to choose her favorite love songs and i made a cd for each guest. i looked into buying pretty cd sleeves but wow, they are pricey! i decided to make them myself, and love the way they turned out! (the next day, at shower #2 with bo’s family, they played the cd on repeat and we passed out the leftover cd’s all the ladies!)

elliana decided she would also be marrying bo, and so she insisted on helping leslie open all the gifts!

overall the day was a complete success. that success was measured by the beautiful smile on leslie’s face all day long and all the hugs of gratitude i received from her! our guests were also very sweet and gracious!

**thank you to everyone who took part in this special day…even if you couldn’t be there in person!**

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sisters.

sisters love stripes

a few weeks ago, my little sis and mom came to visit for the day so we could tackle the bridesmaid dress decision (say this in your head in an announcer-type voice!) for her wedding in october. what i expected to be a little painful and headache-inducing turned out to be extremely easy and quick thanks to my very organized and decisive sis. (thanks for that leslie!) and because she was so certain about what she wanted, we were able to enjoy each others company a little longer. preparing and planning all things wedding with my sister has been such a meaningful experience for me. i love being a part of even the tiniest details. i can’t wait to share more details about her upcoming shower!

stay tuned!

mama appreciation day

::brown county state park, 1982::

dear mama~

when i was born, you were young but also very strong. you cared  for me despite all the challenges set in your path. when i was growing up you were my world and i looked to you to learn about life and how to live it fully. as i grew older we became friends as well as mother and daughter. you are my oldest and dearest friend. from you i have learned more than i could put down in words. you are the most resilient person i know. not only do you defy all expectations but you do it with humility and grace. you work hard, but you also know how to have fun, how to laugh and live it up!  i still look to you for advice and grounding- you are my rock, mama. thank you for being the mother you have been to me. i love you so very much.

::brown county state park, 2010::

april wrap up.

whew. what a busy month. i feel old because i keep hearing myself exclaim about how quickly time is passing these days.

april brought us rain showers and cooler weather (compared to our july-like march). i spent most of the month in my studio and traveling. the traveling was either work or family related and neither trip was all that enjoyable. wait, let me elaborate: the first trip was all the way to chattanooga for a show. the company was fantastic, but the show was so-so. it’s so hard to judge a thing like that, though. did we make a lot of money? absolutely not. did we have fun, meet new people, see a new place? absolutely. it’s all about perception. and that can change by the minute! the second trip was to detroit for a funeral. again, not pleasant, but it really was nice to spend time with extended family we don’t see often. it was also nice to learn more about mike’s grandmother- things neither of us knew. for example, she was a very talented artist! what a pleasant surprise!

and so, our last few days of april were spent recouping, redecorating, and getting back to work.

*since i didn’t post the photo-a-days for the end of april, here you go, my friends*

day 16. dandelions count as flowers.

day 17. something i don’t like…being in a funk.

day 18. prettiest hair ya ever did see

day 19. orange oilcloth on my work table. i love staring at this everyday!

day 20. something i drew.

day 21.

day 22. possibly my favorite purchase ever.

day 23. growing peas.

day 24. every single day.

day 25. i love watching these peonies transform.

day 26. dramatic shot of the wind chime my mama made me.

day 27. obsessed with the chattanooga aquarium building.

day 28. flea marketing with sally.

day 29. pepper plants are anxious to get in the ground.

day 30. the hammock was hanging for 1 day. then the rain came.

**and just in case you missed it, here’s the whole list!**

special delivery.

i love getting mail. good mail. it’s especially fun getting beautifully packaged mail! in the last couple months i have received a few extra-special packages that i wanted to share…the little details really do make a BIG difference!

the first package was a sweet birthday gift from my mother-in-law (thank you gretchen!)

anthropologie never ceases to charm me!

and the second extra-special delivery came from a wonderful etsy artist sieben morgen. i ordered some cute little stamps and sticky notes from her. the packaging was so pretty, i didn’t want to open the envelope! i did, of course, but i did so very carefully and kept it all!

i strive to package my masks so that the recipient is excited to see it in their mailbox, and these packages reminded me just how important it is to keep up that tradition!

a piece of her.

it surprises me sometimes how much i miss my grandparents. i guess in some way, i thought i would eventually move on or something. that i would always remember them, but i did not expect to feel their loss so deeply…still. sometimes i still think “oh, grandma would know!” or “i bet grandpa would make that for me”. i still have their phone number in my phone, grandma’s email address in my contact list. i find ways to keep them close. i talk to them when i am happy and distressed. and sometimes i wear little tokens from them, for comfort. or for luck. the other day needed a little luck, just a little piece of grandma with me. i kept touching that ring all day, thinking of her. it made me feel stronger, or maybe just less fragile. they’re with me. i know that.

organizing & inspiring.

i love lists. not only because it is insanely satisfying to cross things off those lists. not only because it is the most productive way to procrastinate. (which i am very good at, by the way) but also because it helps me stay on task. i need to stay organized in order to be productive. i have little notebooks full of sketches, ideas, tasks, stories, observations, memories and more! i keep every single notebook and occasionally go back through to re-visit my lists and drawings. and a new year calls for a new notebook to fill!

my new little notebook is perfect- it includes special pages for monthly calendars, checklists, notes, daily to-do’s, contacts and even blank pages for sketching! i have decided to use it as my blog and business notebook. so far i have been keeping a daily list of what to blog, writing ideas for later blog posts, sketching new mask & doll accessory ideas, keeping a business checklist, and so on. it also the perfect size to carry in my purse so i always have a place to put my ideas when i get inspired.

this pretty little book was a gift from the famous bff- allison (from anthropologie)

{also found here}

i also keep other notebooks- larger ones that keep other types of inspiration- decorating, outfit ideas, photography inspiration and ideas, pattern sketches, long-term planning, etc. luckily i was gifted a nice big notebook for christmas (thank you gretchen!) because i just recently used the last page of my previous book!

i was also given a really fun & creative blank book called 642 things to draw. it is full of prompts such as: a cranky old man, pie a la mode, toes… this book will be perfect for those days when i feel stumped. when i need to be inspired but also feel a little lost. i can pick it up, open to a random page and get creative! (thanks leslie & bo!)

n, l & l.

this year for christmas, we gifted our newphews nathaniel & lucas with boy dolls just for them! we gave leah a doll for her 1st birthday in spetember and apparently the boys were a little envious! i was more than happy to make these custom dolls for these sweet kids! we love them!

leah with her doll, sarah

lucas & nathaniel with their dolls

best friends

sister.

 

yesterday was a special day. my little sister tried on her first wedding dresses! we went to a lovely little shop in bloomington- quite hidden, but we found it- suzanne’s bridal. it was spacious, but not overwhelming, we were the only people in the shop, and suzanne herself helped us! the first dress made leslie beam! she loved it, and it fit her perfectly, but it was missing the bling. and leslie is a bling girl! after that she tried on a couple more dresses that were good, but not great. then. then. THE DRESS! as soon as i got it on her & she turned toward the mirror while i zipped…she knew! she stayed in the dress for about 30 minutes and even tried a veil, a tiara (i told you she’s all about bling!) and i think she almost cried. i took tons of pictures, of course, but i will only share a few here, so as not to give away the surprise. (oh, and she didn’t buy it, yet…but she really thinks it might be it!)

as i was helping leslie yesterday, i felt completely content. the thought occurred to me “i was born to do this” (be a sister, i mean). leslie and i have had our ups and downs and only recently are we up after a long down. and i knew i missed her…but i it was more than that. not being in her life meant that part of my identity was missing. i was laid off from one of my most important “life” jobs. yesterday i was able to jump back into big sister mode with both feet. it felt great. i am looking forward to more and more wedding planning, bonding, and sistering!

 

are you happy?

happy is a term we tend to use often, perhaps without thinking about the meaning. sometimes it is used lightly, insincerely, or in place of a more descriptive emotion. other times we use this word with intense feeling, gratitude and are completely aware of the magnitude of happiness.

i think a lot about happiness: am i happy? what makes this or that person happy? when have i been happy? what makes me happy? what is happy? is happiness even definable? why does my definition of happy change…does it change? am i happy enough? why am i unhappy? was i happier when….? why does this or that make me happy? why does this or that make me unhappy?

are you happy?

while on our trip to washington, dc, lola and i played this game- “are you happy?…. i’m happy!” i’m not quite sure how it started (or maybe she was already doing this and it was just new to me) but every time she looked at me with big eyes full of  2 year old sincerity and asked “you happy?” it made me extremely giddy-joyous-happy! i would reply with “yes! i am happy! are you happy?” and lola would giggle and say “i happy!”.

happiness for me is children- their laughter, their wisdom, their raw emotion, their ability to make people smile.

sometimes i ask mike out of the blue, “are you happy?” he almost always stops what he is doing, looks into my face and chuckles a little before saying, “yes, of course i am happy!” he thinks it’s a little silly of me to ask this, but i really want to know. i want to be sure he is happy- all the time- with me, in our life together, in this or that moment.

happiness for me is seeing my husband smile.

i find that i “check in” with other people i love too. i will ask my mom “are you happy right now?” when we are driving together. she laughs and says “yes, silly! of course i am happy!”) i worry about her, my sister, my aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws…i want my family to be happy, whatever that means to them.

happiness for me is a close and content family.

i even ask myself “are you happy?” occasionally. i find myself smiling when i am completely alone, and say, “huh, i’m happy right now!” i think it occurs to me that i am happy because there have been times in my life when i was decidedly unhappy. miserable and sad and lonely and lost- not at all happy. during those times if someone were to ask me “are you happy?” i may have tried to lie, but it would have been unconvincing.  i wouldn’t have meant it. i tried to be happy and i struggled with the question “what is wrong with me that i am not happy?” so, now that i feel happiness on a daily basis, i appreciate it, i honor it, i acknowledge it, and i celebrate it!

happiness for me is acknowledging/feeling happy in the here and now!

allison is by best friend. we have known each other for 9 years now. she is my oldest friend. i often tell her we are only still friends because of the work she put into our friendship. that is not to say i love her less…it is only to say i am terrible at holding on to people. i tended to push away rather than hold on. allison showed me it was safe to hold on, even rewarding! she has loved me unconditionally, given and taken advice, allowed me to be a friend and to rely on a friend. she is more to me than i even have words for.

happiness for me is allison, a best friend that never ends!

there are always aspects of our lives that could be better- more time, more money, less stress, more this, less that…. sometimes we achieve more and find we are still wanting. sometimes we get what we want and don’t even notice. but sometimes, we work to achieve more or less and find the happy balance.

happiness for me is finding and keeping my balance.

i recently realized that i was missing a community. i needed friends, people like me, women with the same interests and desires. i needed people to share with, to talk with and to be with. so, i sought out my community. for awhile i tried immersing myself into the “family” community, but i found that made me extremely sad because those people all had something i desperately wanted- children.(unhappiness for me is wanting what i don’t yet have)  i wasn’t ready for that community. so i searched more and found a community of women artists. they are artists, wives, mothers, girlfriends, sisters, daughters….they are women who share my interests and my dreams. i mention these women a lot and that is because they make me very happy. i treasure the friendships i have developed and look forward to developing more!

happiness for me is being part of a community and finding friendship.

if you are a regular reader, you may know that the last year was an extremely difficult year for me and mike. i had 2 serious back surgeries which resulted in me spending a LOT of time in bed recovering and out of work for over a year now. as painful, stressful , and depressing all that felt…i still look back and think “yea, i was happy”. why in the world did i feel happy during this past year amid all the sadness, disappointment, struggle and pain? i had mike. i had family. i had friends. i had good doctors and physical therapists. i had hope. and now, i have moments when i stop in my tracks, smile from ear to ear and say “i  am pain free right now!” that makes me extremely happy! mike and i have worked very hard this past year to budget, cut back, and find alternatives…we fought, felt frustrated, stressed and scared. but we are in a good place now (not cushy, by any means), but we are making it- because we work together to make it work!

happiness for me is feeling relief from pain. 

happiness for me is being a successful team with my husband.

you may be wondering what sparked this long post about happiness. yesterday morning i finished a book called hector and the search for happiness by francois lelord. at first i found it cute, but also a little silly…i wasn’t sure where the book was going and had a difficult time getting used to the writing style. but the last few chapters really made me think about my own thoughts on happiness- what does happiness mean to me, how do i measure happiness, what does happiness look like for other people? hector travels around searching for these and other answers. he finds many “lessons” of happiness, like lesson no. 11- happiness is having a home and garden of your own.  and lesson no. 1- making comparisons can spoil your happiness.  many of the lessons hit home with me (like lesson no. 11!) some i hadn’t thought of at all. lesson no. 1 is interesting to me- making comparisons can spoil your happiness…even comparing yourself now to yourself then can either spoil or make happiness! you often hear people say “that was the happiest day of my life”, “i have never been happier”, “i can’t imagine a happier moment”, “i am happier now than i have ever been”… i myself have said some of these things. does that mean that i am truly happier in this very moment than ever before? i think not. i think we have moments of happiness throughout our lives and the most recent moment, day, experience, etc feels the happiest. that is not to say that this moment or that moment can truly pale in comparison…or even be compared at all- happiness is relative– just like pain, love, sadness, loneliness, and most other emotions. what matters is the here and now.

all that said…i challenge you all to acknowledge your happinesstoday, tomorrow, in the past, and in the future. and read hector and the search for happiness… (cause it’ll make you think and it is really quite funny- in a dry humor sort-of way!)

other things that make me happy right now

opposite of far

making things

animals:

(namely- milo, bruce, frankie, kitty, goats, chickens, foxes, owls….you get the point)

good food…and junk food

hot beverages

traditions

taking photographs

bon iver

old books, new books, borrowed books, overflowing bookshelves

a thoroughly cleaned and organized house

a messy, hectic, lived-in house

holidays, holiday decorating

snuggling under my down comforter with a book in the morning

cuddling/snuggling with mike and my pups

……and so, so much more!

i would *LOVE* to hear from you, my dear readers, about what makes you happy, your definition or understanding of happiness, or any other thoughts you want to share!

{i haven’t heard from many of you and would love to know who you are, what makes you tick, and why you read my blog!}

thanks for reading!