Feeling like a real bride-to-be

Life Update

Less than 50 days to go and I am in full wedding mode! A HUGE thank you to all of my friends and family who took the time to throw me a beautiful shower this Saturday at the Bullthistle Brewery.

For those who planned games, organized cupcake & stationary, took photos and traveled from far out of town to be there, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It means the world.

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Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Food

I found this recipe on the 4th of July when I was looking for something cute, simple and delicious to make for the holiday festivities — not to mention easy to eat while we sat around the campfire watching the fireworks!

This Tyler Florence recipe was ridiculously easy to put together (you can make the whole thing in the food processor!) and was a huge hit with my fiancé’s family.

I’m a big fan of anything lemon and this sweet and zesty bar certainly hit the spot. Another bonus? You can make them the night before!

Find the full recipe, here.

Revisiting portraiture

Art

Wow, life has been crazy! Aside from wedding planning (less than 90 days away, oh my gosh!) and getting settled in our new house (home art studio is coming along nicely) I’ve also been cast as the lead in my community theater’s production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Breaking gender rules, which, I love!

So while I’ve had little time on my hands outside of work and rehearsal, I’m proud of myself for making time to revisit something I haven’t done in a while: portraiture. Specifically, graphite portraiture.

I’ve never been a huge fan of drawing in pencil — I’m a lefty so, ya know, graphite tends to leave my entire drawing hand coated in grey dust — but I do LOVE doing portrait work in this medium.

After seeing the new Fantastic Beasts trailer flash across my TV, I was feeling inspired.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love this franchise and this character in particular, and had a lot of fun setting aside a couple of hours to do this drawing.

I’m looking forward to having more free time after next weekend following the conclusion of “Willy Wonka” and sharing photos of my developing home art studio!

And Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

Art

As I’ve come to learn at the ripe old age of 24, the most difficult aspect of being an adult is making decisions.

I am, by nature, a somewhat indecisive person and can be hesitant to dive in to new experiences, opportunities, etc. I always find myself seeking the perfect answer or opportunity, and drive myself crazy wondering if I’ll know said opportunity when it comes along.

But being an adult also means coming to terms with the fact that nothing is ever perfect and that you’ll never know the answer to everything. Rather, you just have to go with the knowledge that is in front of you and make the best decision that you can.

For me, this past year has been full of BIG decisions and plenty of opportunity for me to get outside of my comfort zone.

Between the decision of saying “Yes..”

…and the decision to become a homeowner…

I’m getting better at being decisive.

Growing up, my mother always told me to go with my gut and it’s something I took to heart. The voice inside you and literal “gut feeling” often knows better than your brain does.

Reflecting on this advice and my recent life events, I got thinking about how, funny enough, my mother’s favorite Disney character has always been Jiminy Cricket. Focusing on following my gut and letting my conscience be my guide I was inspired to do this quick sketch:

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What started out as a quick pen sketch, developed further through a layer of colored pencil I threw over top of him to give him a pop of fun and flair.

I love how cartoon sketches can be so simple, yet also challenging. There is a certain level of difficulty that comes with capturing a character’s likeness through a limited number of lines.

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Thanks for your words of wisdom, Mom. I know it will continue to serve me in this crazy journey we call life!

P.S. You can expect to see this one in your Christmas stocking!

 

 

 

Old memories, new adventures and peonies

Art

With only 4 months left until our wedding, I’m happy to be getting down to the planning details. Big picture stuff is fun — but there’s something about planning the small stuff that makes everything feel more real.

Recently, we sat down with our wedding florist and we talked a lot of details.

Although I had come to the meeting prepared with a general idea and photos I had printed off of Pinterest, I wasn’t entirely prepared to map out what color the ribbon around my bouquet would be, or what variety of greenery would accompany the mens’ boutonnieres.

And so – before our second meeting – I did more research.

Needless to say, I’ve had flowers on the brain.

The drawing I’m sharing today was the last I ever did at our recently sold house. While I’m super excited to be over the house-selling process and in our new home, our first house together will always hold a special place in my heart. It was our first home together: where we had our first date, shared our first Christmas and first brought Auggie home to meet his big brother, Skeeter.

It’s also where Andy gave me flowers for the first time – a hand-picked bunch of peonies.

In this house, we were lucky to have peonies lining our driveway. It was these flowers that inspired the ink drawing I’m sharing today.

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This drawing isn’t anything fancy. It’s something I completed quickly, with a ballpoint ben pulled out of the desk drawer. It’s natural, sweet and not entirely unlike how I will remember our time in 12 Summit Street.

When Andy and I first started dating we didn’t have a lot of money. We couldn’t afford to spend our hard-earned dollars on flowers. But the gesture of that hand-picked bouquet spoke volumes. It was one of the first, I knew he was the one moments.

That bouquet still remains the best I’ve ever received.

 

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While we can’t hold onto past lives and past homes, I’m glad I have this drawing to remember our house by. For me, it holds a special memory from our early dating days.

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Here’s to a new home, a new stage in life and the opportunity to capture in all through art.

Healthy Dose of Southern Cuisine: Shrimp and Grits

Food

You may remember my mentioning that for me, wedding planning has meant more than just picking out colors and flower arrangements: it has also meant a reboot on my overall wellness.

Ever since I was a child, I have been very mindful of my physical wellbeing. I workout on a daily basis — it’s my favorite part of the day! But as most of us know, what you eat is just as important (if not more so) and plays a HUGE role in your body composition, your energy levels and how you feel!

Thinking about the wedding dress hanging in my closet, I’ve been recommitting to my nutrition and exploring healthy, delicious recipes to add into my weekly rotation.

In my search for something different, I came across this great recipe from Food Network for Shrimp and Grits.

I’ve always shied away from this dish, knowing that most recipes are calorie-laden and rely on a heavy amount of butter for flavor and consistency. Much to my delight, this recipe is only 367 calories per serving and packs a whopping 34 grams of protein per dish.

It seriously only took me 15 minutes to prepare so keep this one in mind for busy weeknights!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup instant grits
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus wedges for serving
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat, covered.
  2. Uncover and slowly whisk in the grits, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the parmesan and 1 tablespoon butter.
  5. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.
  6. Meanwhile, season the shrimp with salt and pepper.
  7. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic and cayenne, if using, and cook, tossing, until the shrimp are pink, 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons water, the lemon juice and parsley; stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Divide the grits among shallow bowls and top with the shrimp and sauce.
  10. Serve with lemon wedges.

I paired my shrimp and grits with a side of maple brussels sprouts for an extra dose of southern flair!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Food

Like most of us – I adore chocolate chip cookies. In fact, they might be my favorite cookie of all time.

The comforting combination of vanilla, butter and chocolate is pure bliss in a baked format. Not to mention there’s nothing quite like the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.

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Seriously – this is true Americana.

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During the holidays, I shared a trick for making your average CCC a little more festive: substitute the chips for chopped pieces of Andes candies.

This trick also proved useful during Saint Patrick’s day and is, overall, just an easy way to add a fun twist to this American cookie classic.

The freshness of the Andes mints actually lighten up the cookie and provides for a more complex flavor profile.

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Don’t care for mint? The vanilla base to these cookies is just a canvas waiting to be painted!

Try adding different candies and share your creations below!

We sold our house!

Life Update

Sorry I’ve been MIA these last few weeks — we’ve been busy MOVING! That’s right, WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!

These last few weeks have been full of so many emotions, but we’re so proud of the work we put into #project12SummitStreet and couldn’t be more excited to begin the next phase of our life.

Onto decorating our new house and making it the place we call “home!”

“Seamster Mouse” – Freehand Embroidery, Nostalgia & Everyday Magic

Art

I’ve been told that as a toddler I used to watch “Cinderella” relentlessly. I’d sit totally enraptured, watching Ella’s story unfold in the 1950’s classic before asking my mother if we could watch it again. And again…and again.

While admittedly I’m a lover of just about all Disney tales, “Cinderella” will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s impossible for me to watch the film without feeling nostalgic – remembering all the times I watched it with my mother and grandmother, lost in the magic that came to a woman who persevered through hardship with courage and kindness.

My latest embroidery piece has ties to  the “Cinderella” story and was inspired by her rodent friends who gallantly help her sew the dress she first intends to wear to the Prince’s ball.

This piece was just about 2 months in the making (who’d have thought mouse hair would take so long to embroider?) but I do believe Seamster Mouse looks better in color. He’s come a long way since his initial sketch!

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Unlike in the movie where the mice help “Cinderelly” with the original dress that gets torn by her stepmother and step sisters, I imagine this mouse might be helping with the final product. This is hinted at in the blue thread wound on the spool next to him.

The challenges of this embroidery were 1. making a mouse look cute (not creepy) and 2. the use of metallic thread in the represented sewing needle. If you’ve never used metallic embroidery thread before, I highly recommend that you proceed with patience and wine! It’s constantly fraying ends are enough to drive a novice embroiderer positively mad.

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But perhaps the biggest challenge was giving the piece a strong sense of story. I wanted viewers to wonder who this mouse was and what exactly he was up to with that needle and thread. Similar to my other fiber pieces, I wanted to instill the theme of everyday magic.

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I love that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at this piece and I love that it reminds me of one of my favorite stories. Perhaps most of all, I love that it reminds me of my own upcoming wedding and fairytale soon to come.

A Drawing Inspired by the Late Alexander McQueen

Art

It’s finally April and although it doesn’t feel like it in New York, I am so incredibly ready for spring. Unsurprisingly, this yearning is finding its way into my work.

Today I’m sharing a recent drawing of mine that plays homage to the transition period between winter and spring – although the weather may start to warm, we must always endure the inevitable period of rain and mud before the flowers begin to bloom .

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This drawing which hints to the described seasonal transition was also directly inspired by the late Alexander McQueen – a fashion designer who was more artist than designer. See the original here:

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I was so taken with this piece when I first saw it. The dress felt like the perfect mix between high fashion and a fairy’s ensemble, and you can’t help but be drawn in by the contrast between structural and organic elements.

It reminds me of something a character might wear in a modern “Alice in Wonderland.”

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Like many of my recent drawings, the piece was created using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. I’ve really taken to drawing watercolor-styled flowers with this media and enjoyed switching back and forth from blending smooth, organic shapes to going back in with sharpened tips to restructure and add detail.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Alexander McQueen, I highly recommend you check out the book Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. This compilation of his pieces was first introduced to me during my undergraduate studies by my Fiber Arts Professor and is brimming with inspiration.

You can’t be a modern artist without appreciating McQueen; it just isn’t possible!

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Fingers crossed that spring is on the horizon!