Christmas checklist: Inspiration for getting into the Christmas spirit

Holiday

With Christmas less than two weeks away, there’s no better time to inspire yourself and get into the holiday spirit! For everyone who may be feeling a little grinchy this Christmas, here are a few tips and ideas to help you channel your inner Buddy the Elf:

Stir up a Christmas cocktail

Nothing says happy holidays like a stiff, spiced drink! Click here to read more about my favorite Christmas cocktail.

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Turn up the tunes

Listening to Christmas music is a sure-fire way to inspire holiday joy. I love listening to it while I’m working on projects in the studio. Bing Crosby on repeat, please.

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Get your DIY on

Make a homemade ornament or gift! Words can’t describe how fullfilling it is to make something with your own two hands. And it only gets better when you give homemade goodies away to loved ones.

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During this time of year, I also love making wreaths. Check out my tutorial here!

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Turn the oven on and open the spice drawer!

Nothing makes me happier during the holidays than baking, especially cookies. This year my family started a new tradition: Christmas cookie baking day! Everyone brought two doughs with them and we spent the afternoon baking and sharing laughs over Christmas cocktails and record music.

Set up your own Christmas cookie baking day! Make up some gingerbread dough, invite your friends over and spend time cutting them out and decorating together. Pour some eggnog (or wine) and enjoy making memories.

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Practice gratitude

Get away from the commercialism by taking a moment to remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for – there is no better time than Christmas! This year I am especially grateful, celebrating my first married year with Andy, and in our new house none the less!

It truly is a wonderful life.

Only 12 days until Christmas!

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A preview of our wedding photos!

Life Update

I’m SUPER excited to be sharing a preview of our wedding photos! Andy and I hired Blushwood Studios to do our wedding and reception photography—and we couldn’t be happier with the service Michael and Courtney provided.

Check out their blog post previewing our photos here!

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Sketch, bake, carve: Reconnecting with my creative side post-wedding

Art, Baking, Holiday

This month has been crazy! Andy and I were married on Oct. 6 and departed immediately after for our honeymoon trip of a lifetime to Maui and Kauai.

It was magical and perfect, and we couldn’t have asked for a more memorable October.

While I’m sad to have these amazing life events behind me, I’m also, admittedly, relieved. For the first time in over a year and a half I finally have some free time!

This week I’ve been having fun using my free time to get back to being creative and get into the Halloween spirit.

Sketch

The first item on my creative agenda following our honeymoon was to get back to sketching. I’ve always been a “Hocus Pocus” fan and I definitely had the Sanderson sisters in mind when I was creating this pen & ink sketch:

Bake

I also decided to get creative with cookies. I’ve made cut-out cookies before, but decided this time to try something new and decorate them with royal icing — I’m all about trying new things!

The decorations came out far from perfect but they were a lot of fun to make. I would highly recommend this chocolate cutout cookie recipe, which tastes very similar to a chocolate sandwich cookie. Pair it with Alton Brown’s recipe for royal icing which comes out so shiny and beautiful (don’t use my application as basis for judgement!).

Carve

And, of course, no Halloween is complete without a Jack-o-Lantern. Andy and I carve pumpkins every Halloween and I have to say, I think his looks better than mine this year!

Note to self: Next year, remember to buy a carving kit. The chef’s knife just isn’t cutting it anymore!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

How to preserve fresh pears

Food

One of the things I’m loving the most about our new house is the flourishing pear tree in our back yard. This is (apparently) a great year for pears, and Andy and I are currently overrun with them.

As much as we love having natural, fresh fruit at our disposal, there is absolutely no way we are capable of eating all of these pears before they go bad.

Accepting this reality led us to look into different methods of preserving our bounty.

Pearpicking

After doing some Google research I quickly learned that there are dozens of ways to preserve this fruit, some easier than others.

Naturally, I gravitated towards the easiest solution!

Here is perhaps one of the easiest ways to preserve fresh pears:

  1. Wash and peel your pears
  2. Core and slice (be really careful – peeled pears are very juicy and as a result, difficult to hold on to while slicing!)
  3. Bring two cups of water and one cup of sugar to a boil
  4. Boil the pears for 2-3 mins
  5. Drain
  6. Let them cool
  7. Throw them in a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer
  8. Done!

Use this method to keep your pears fresh for up to six months!

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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.

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.