Sketches and Clothes and Chicken Scratch

I had some fun today mentally recalling what I put together clothes wise for the past ten days trying to only use items in my capsule wardrobe. I felt like sketching…

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Days 7 and 8 were my favorite days, since I wore a new silk scarf that a friend gave to me, and a gorgeous 100 inch strand of pearls my mom gave me one Christmas. The pearls looked especially nice against the black blouse I wore.

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I’m still working through my capsule, and I already replaced a few things, but so far it’s making my morning wardrobe decisions much easier. It’s also encouraging me to work with the accessories I have but never end up wearing!

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Fall Fashion Capsule Wardrobe

I heard about capsule wardrobes for the first time from Caroline at Un-Fancy. As someone who flirts with the idea of minimalism, wants to be more efficient in the morning (getting out of the house for work & daycare) and is looking to eliminate daily choice overload, I was hooked!

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The idea is that you select a specific amount of items of clothing, accessories and shoes for the season and pack what you won’t be using until the next season. Dependent upon what “rules” you follow, accessories and shoes may or may not count. I’ll likely count my shoes (forgot to draw my blue suede boots) and be unlimited with my jewelry to switch things up.

Basically, it’s a strategic plan for your wardrobe, so that it is edited, cohesive, and items will work well with each other. As an artist and designer, I love having limits, it helps me be more creative and forces me to use what I have. I also am more mindful of the great items that I do have.

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It was great timing since Fall has just arrived. After reading a ton of posts on Un-Fancy, I also checked out Project 333 , which was also helpful (and binge worthy). I packed up clothes, put items in the donate pile, and a mend pile.

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I went to my sketchbook to figure out my 33 or 37 (still a little undecided) pieces for the next three months. It sounds like such a small number, until you start writing it down, or in my case, drawing it out.

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This is my preliminary Fall 2014 capsule. I think I’ll buy a white tee shirt, and maybe a green military trench if I find a good deal, but I think I’m good! Side note, I love the drawing app Paper by 53, it is so much fun, though nothing will ever replace old fashioned paper, pencils and paint!

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I’m one step closer to having a jumpsuit uniform!

P.S. Look at my sweet little boy drawing too! Sigh, for cuteness…

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One Post Before Fall Ends

When life gets busy, something has to give. These days, it’s my personal blog, but I love to have it to look back on, document my life and keep my little part of the internet.

I turned 35 in November. I’m enjoying my 30s, and appreciate the chance to get another year on this planet. Better late than never, here goes a list of the things that happened at 34 that I’d like to remember:

1. I became a mama. Being a mama is pretty amazing. You get to run with glee towards a fire engine at a kid’s party and people just think you’re being a great mom. Ha! Impending motherhood also gave me a kick to start things going on other dreams I had before I got sucked into a vortex.

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2. Case in point: I became an official small business owner with my design partner-in-crime, Ann. We started Design Move Toss, LLC, which is a virtual and in-home interior design consulting gig. The goal is to have it be a fun and creative outlet where we can help people, make some extra money, and let it grow responsibly and organically. I’ll probably talk about it more, and we’re in the process of getting our logo / collateral redesigned soon! However, it was great to get started and not worry about making everything perfect in the beginning. Anyone else have a tendency to suffer from perfectionism paralysis?! Oy.

3. I really made a go of my Etsy shop selling watercolors and custom home portraits, and was pleasantly surprised to exceed my expectations in sales! I want to explore some paper collage and larger scale paintings this year, but we shall see. (Again, that limited free time and day-job thing).

4. I went out of my comfort zone a few times, and as usual, was glad I did it!

5. I said “no” when needed, to make sure I wasn’t spreading myself too thin, so that I can be there for my family. Although, who wouldn’t want to hang out with this sweet baby?

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6. I tried to stay present in the moments and enjoy my new baby, and was “gentle” with myself, per the wise advice of Leya (Curious Bird).

7. I read some books for fun. I laughed with friends. I watched more TV than one should, and tried not to feel too guilty. I ate lots of chocolate muffins in the afternoons with a side of coffee.

8. I got to spend lots of time with our family and friends, which is the most important thing to Mike and me. Having Henry as initiative for people to visit really helped! My heart bursts when I see how much he is loved by my amazing relatives.

9. We got to go to NYC, Washington D.C., Indiana and Florida. Not too bad for year one. (We also all got severely sick in NYC with our Indiana relatives, but have many stories to laugh about now).

10. I picked up my knitting needles again! I’m making Henry Pickles (his nickname) a Fair Isle sweater.

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I’m looking forward to see what good things 35 brings!

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Scenes from our days

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This is my first attempt to blog from my phone in order to write more often! The weather in Philadelphia has been gorgeous. There’s just a hint of crispness in the air, but you can still wear flip-flops with a long sleeved shirt. Driving with the windows down is a must in my opinion.

I’m taking advantage of the roof deck for lunch at my work. Our office moved from downtown to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. While I miss working downtown, I’m used to my new routine (although I do miss my bicycle commute).

We are making the best use of this weather right now by going for strolls to the library after work/daycare, meeting up with friends, and walking around our neighborhood.

The new Barnes museum has a wonderful outdoor area with gravel on the ground that makes me think I’m in Paris (if only for five minutes)!

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Posted in Bebe, Life, Philly, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Summer Corn Chowder

Before Summer officially ended, I made a huge batch of Summer Corn Chowder. Using a few recipes for inspiration (the ever fabulous Ina Garten and a few others), I came up with this recipe. It is delicious, if I do say so myself. I ate it for about a week solid.

I’m hoping to make it one last time before the leaves turn.

Ingredients:

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Directions:

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Rustic chic table setting:

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Food detail drawing:

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My favorite companion to soup:

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I heart soup.

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Fermented Sourdough Starter Hooch Juice

My father has one sister, Aunt Sissy. She is a prolific bread baker, reader, nurse, teacher, mother of four, dog-lover, and overall amazing woman. When I was going to college in Indiana, she was a 5 hour drive away in St. Louis. Their house was my home away from home when I was burnt out on being a college student (for what felt like a decade), overcoming college-angsty heartbreak or just homesick. The years I got to spend with them there (and my uncle and four cousins) are some of my most treasured memories. Whether it was taking my younger cousins to the movies, having “nights of beauty” where I’d dye my cousin Cara’s hair and we’d experiment with makeup, or just reading on the couch and talking to my aunt and uncle.

When she visited me in March to meet Henry, she brought a sourdough starter for me and taught us how to make her go-to no-knead sourdough recipe. The mad-scientist type process of having to feed the sourdough starter appealed to me, and the low effort for a delicious baked bread. I’ve made no-knead and kneading required breads before, but never with a starter. This one is delicious, and takes 5 minutes of preparation. You just need to find a starter or make one yourself!

My aunt uses a chopstick to stir the bread, and I’m a convert. Less shagginess to cling on to the utensil, and it does the job. Just plan ahead 14 – 20 hours ahead of time to allow for the rising, second rising and baking. Other than that, it is totally simple.

I follow the recipe linked above from Heather at A Real Food Lover. I just take one chopstick and mix 3-1/2 cups of bread flour, 1-1/2 cups of non-chlorinated water (I leave my Philly tap water out for 12 hours prior), 1/2 cup sourdough starter and 1-1/2 teaspoons of sea salt in a bowl. My preferred method is to stir everything vigorously and try to get all of the dough wet until it’s in some semblance of a ball. However, it doesn’t seem to matter. If there are dried bits of flour on the bottom though, it will mix in once your dough rises.

Cover it with plastic and let sit (room temperature) for 12 – 18 hours. Here is my dough after about 18 hours. Also note my really cute BKR water bottle that I love, but I accidentally dropped and broke (so need to purchase the glass bottle part again soon).

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Take your dutch oven (oval shaped if you’re lucky like me and have a pretty purple one from…you guessed it…Aunt Sissy) and spread butter all over the bottom and sides. Round would be fine too, it will just give you a different shaped bread. Sprinkle some cornmeal on the bottom and shake it so it hits the sides.

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I have dumped the ball of dough into the dutch oven, or floured a surface and kneaded / folded it gently into a football shaped loaf. I had the same results both times. Either way, shape it into a loaf looking thing and center it in your dutch oven. Cover with the lid and let rise for 1-2 hours.

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Heat oven to 500 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. After 30 minutes, take the lid off, and (very important here, folks) reduce heat to 450 degrees to get this nice crust. Do not forget this very important step and turn your loaf of homemade goodness into a burnt football. However, if you do as I did, you can scrape it off and still eat it. Might I suggest additional toasting and lots of butter?

If you do it correctly, the top will look like this. Mine doesn’t spread out to fill the whole oven, but it still creates a beautiful shape. Let it cool uncovered or even taken out of the dutch oven, slice and enjoy! It is delicious warm from the oven, and also toasted with  butter. But honestly, is there anything better than toasted bread with butter? It’s the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of soup or a hearty salad.

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It goes fast, so plan ahead to make more! I keep mine (after it’s cooled) in the same dutch oven I baked it in with the lid on. This is also the perfect excuse to keep my beautiful Le Creuset oval oven out on the countertop.

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I’ve said it before, but there is really something magical about making bread. There’s an invisible thread that connects you to the millions before who created, passed on and taught this small act of providing sustenance to your family. It’s the childlike glee I get to see the chemical process that creates something delicious out of a few ingredients, patience and time. And the smell in your home before, during and after the baking process.

Thank you, Aunt Sissy, for years passed and years to come of love and support. And thank for bringing me a jar of fermented sourdough hooch juice into my life and connecting me to something big, small and outside of the intensity of new motherhood. I love you always.

P.S. Hooch is the alcohol substance that can build up over your starter. It makes me laugh for no particular reason other than it sounds funny.

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Watercolors for Caitlin Wilson

Right before Henry was born, I was commissioned to paint several water colors for Caitlin Wilson, thanks to a referral by Rachel Grace. My illustration style and what she needed turned out to be a good fit, and I am so grateful to have this opportunity to work with her. Caitlin is an amazingly talented and creative designer.

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I had so much fun bringing her lovely pillows and interiors to life in watercolor for her portfolio and website relaunch. I always love a fellow enthusiast of bright and happy colors.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I loved being able to do something that felt “normal” in the early days of motherhood, as I was feeling tied to the sofa while feeding the baby or trying to sleep. It was a bit stressful as well definitely, but it helped me to work faster and  plan my time differently. Instead of painting a watercolor in 2 shots, I had to think of what I could accomplish in 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and be flexible as well. As sometimes my mom could hold the baby, and sometimes he needed me, as I am his food source!

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This type of working means that I have to leave my studio area in progress sometimes, and avoid the common procrastination trap of thinking everything must be neat and clean before I can start working. Sometimes you just have to get it done, even if it’s painting on your bed while watching TV with a cute little boy who just wants to snuggle next to you.

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Caitlin could not have been sweeter or more understanding regarding working with a brand new baby, as she’s a working mom herself. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to meet her in person before she relocated to Portland, but I can definitely say she is a sweetheart (via email) and a talented and hard worker who deserves great success.

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Enjoy the details of these watercolors. The floral pillow with navy piping was my favorite to paint. Okay, and the bulletin board!

Posted in Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments