I guess I am officially a house wife.

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Why does this annoy me as much as it thrills me?  It really does.  I hate that I love the sight of laundry hanging on the line.

It seems like it should be oppressive… degrading… at the very least, unfair that I’m doing laundry while my hubby finds fulfillment at work… changing patient’s lives, chatting with his lovely office staff, getting to be the boss of something larger then the chores.

And most chores are like that.  My husband comes home in the afternoon and we talk about our day… his seems so fulfilling, helping patients towards health, while I’ve scrubbed a toilet.

But laundry that actually makes it out to the line is different.  Not the sopping wet stuff I cram into the dryer and forget.  But the loads that I take the time to carry out onto the back porch and hang… those just make my day.

And today I finally figured out why.  It’s not about the laundry.  It’s about the sunshine out there, smiling on all my favorite memories.  It’s like the sun agrees with me that my family is awesome… and is lending me her warmth to help out… giving a big thumbs up to all that I cherish.

Why do I love laundry in the sun?  I have as many reasons as I have articles of clothes hanging on the line.

For this set, there are five good reasons:

1.  My red-headed, freckle faced husband that wears a rash guard in the sun, reminding me of our recent trip to the beach.

2.  Me enjoying my girly side… it used to be short mini skirts that made me feel like a girl… now in my 30’s it a fluffy petticoat handmade from England that I got off of Etsy.

3.  A crisp white work shirt that hubby wears to work… rolled up at the sleeves and with his tie thrown off at the end of the day, he makes our house a home.

4.  My son’s white pj t-shirt, which (even though he is only 6) is almost as big as my shirts… makes me giggle out loud.

5.  A dish towel, that I’m hoping the sun can bleach white again… stained up by countless pets and meals and art projects.

I hope you smile today as you do your laundry too.  Intense scowling and eye-rolling while doing the toilet is still completely expected.  Encouraged, actually.  Because heck, I *could* be out there at our medical practice seeing patients… but instead I’m scrubbing a toilet.  Grrr…… xoxo

Our family motto…

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Everything always works out for us. We say that out loud to each other almost every day.  I know I say that to myself, and really *feel* it, multiple times a day.

I was just saying it to myself today and I realized… this must be our family motto.  It made me stop and realize how far we’ve come, and wonder how this became our motto.

Only a few short years ago this wasn’t a thought that would routinely cross my mind.  I felt blessed, no doubt.   I felt joy at being a mother and a wife, absolutely.  I adored my children to the point of utter obsession.  It was hard to breath, it just took my breath away.  But although I was often grateful,  I don’t think I lived *in gratitude*.

I had my bad days like everyone else… we had our large financial debts from medical school and credit cards, I was having trouble deciding if I should go back to work as a physician, growing pains at identifying myself as a stay at home mother, trying to settle into my style of homeschooling, having two (wonderful!) young children was physically exhausting, no room for the type of painting and crafting and expanding that I wanted to do… and *who am I?* and *where am I going?* were constant questions that pressed on my heart.

Normal life, I think.

How did I go from enjoying, but *surviving*, each day, to this expanded feeling of *owning* each day…

I didn’t wait for everything to start always working out for us before I started to *feel* like everything was always working out for us.  In other words, I did not wait for circumstances to change, but I changed in my heart first.

Every single thing that happened to us, we started to see in the best light possible.

I refused to do anything that didn’t feel right.  Homeschooling became unschooling, and gave our family the feeling of expansion I was searching for.

Every day *problems* became opportunities to be grateful for how they resolved.

I started painting my home funky colors that felt right to *me* — a neon green play room, a bright orange living room, a purple dining room with a huge mural of a tree, a blue ceiling with stars painted on it… I just went for it and didn’t worry about controlling outcomes any more.

And I noticed that the less I tried to control outcomes, the more lovely the outcomes became.  Since I no longer was limited to what I thought I *wanted*, I became more open to possiblities.

After a while, I changed from just being *open* to possibilities, to feeling truly limitless in my thinking.  I no longer feel like “I would be happy if x, y and z happened” to feeling like “I’m so thrilled right now, and I can’t wait for x, y, z and then some to happen!  Show me what you got!”

I know that there are no rules and no limits.  Any attempt I put on my life to define what would make me happy now simply limits the outcomes.

I love that every single time I have been open to it, my expectations have been blown out of the water by the reality of life.

The house I *thought* I wanted to move into before?  I’m in a dream home now I could never have even hoped for before.

The art that I’ve been wanting a to create?  I’m so glad I didn’t just limit myself to painting privately in a closet.  I’m now painting and selling my artwork internationally (a fact that just blows my mind every time I realize it), creating organic crafts from natural and upcycled items (didn’t see that one coming!  I just get a vision and in an instant… there it is!  I know better know then to hesitate… now I plunge right in and make it!) and am illustrating my first two childrens books.

A few years ago, I never would have had the room in my mind to accept those gifts.

Everything always works out for us… yes.  I like that motto.  Today, take a moment to think about what motto are you sending out to the world?  What one are you getting back?  xoxo

Photo blocks… crafting something I wish I had crafted for my own kids when they were babies!

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In a few weeks, I’ll be traveling up north to visit two of the cutest babies alive, my niece and nephew.

What to make them, what to make.  I have been thinking lately about photo blocks… wishing I had made those for my kids back when they would have played with blocks…

Well, I finally realized that that is what nieces and nephews are for!  The next best thing to crafting for your own child!

So, in a sudden brainstorm, I decided to combine making photo blocks with this awesome tutorial by MADE for a hobo sack to give them in.

Here are the raw materials… some wooden blocks, photographs, and cute cotton prints… let’s see what I can do!

If you are wanting to make your own set of photo blocks, follow along!  I apologize that I don’t have more pictures of the process… I didn’t think until afterwards that I would make a post about it.  But!  You don’t need pictures… I give you something more valuable!  LINKS!  Links to other peoples tutorials!!!

1.  Purchase wood blocks from Casey’s Wood… an awesome on-line raw wood resource.  I got the biggest blocks possible in solid wood (so that they were not a chocking hazard for babies) and made 6 for each child.

2.  Paint each block any color… I used 6 different colors and sanded each block lightly down prior to painting.  After the blocks were dry, I cut a picture for each block.  All you do is put the block over the portion of the picture you like, trace around the edges with permanent marker, and cut that square out.

3.  I then glued the pics on one side of each block using Modge Podge, a non-toxic glue and sealant.

4.  After letting the pictures dry, I sanded the edges down again, to give a distressed, shabby chic feel to the blocks, and also to further round the edges for safety. 

5.  I then used a permanent stamp pad (I like StazOn) and stamped words on the back of each block.  “Mommy” on the block with the picture of the mother.  “Dog” on the block that has a picture of their pet dog.  “Love” on the back of the picture of their family. Etc…

6.  Then, making sure to blow all the sawdust away, I painted a thick layer of Modge Podge over the entire block — all of the blocks — to seal in the color and the picture.

It will look white when you paint it on over the picture, and you’ll freak out a bit, but then it dries completely clear.

I would recommend using Matte Modge Podge for this project, I’ve found that Modge Podge Gloss tends to leave a pit of a stick to the finished project, and I don’t want these blocks to be sticky.  I imagine they will be sticky enough when covered with drool and spit up from the babies 🙂

7.  Let your blocks dry completely.

Here are some links to other photo block tutorials… they all have their own modifications.

This one uses rub on letters and much smaller blocks, making them (in my mind) non-child friendly, but awesome for decorative purposes.

This one uses the same technique as I do, but makes them into plaques that you can hang!  Awesome!

8.  Using the above mentioned hobo sack tutorial from MADE, I made little carrying cases for the blocks.

You can use any fabric you want, I went with a cotton print.

MADE has a fabulous, very clear tutorial for this project, so make sure you follow what she says and not what I’m blathering on about here.  BUT.  I did make one modification to make the hobo sack totally baby-proof.

I was a bit worried that the ties would pull out from the hobo sacks if I made them the way that Dana did, and I didn’t want any chance of a choke hazard.  God forbid.

SO… I only made the little opening on ONE side of the top (she has you make two openings in the casing… I just made one) and I pulled only one drawstring through.  Then, instead of tying each end into a knot, I tied *both* of the drawstrings *together* so that there is no way they could be pulled out. They make one continuous loop.  You can see what I mean in the picture.

9.  Done.

10.  Take pictures of the product and post it back to me so I can see your fabulous results!

My pics could have been even cuter, but I was trying to obscure the pictures on the blocks for privacy for my extended family.  BUT!  I will have pictures for you soon of *my family* — we are going to get family pictures taken this afternoon — yea!!!  I am going to get some head shots of me for my upcoming children’s book… and for this blog.  So look for a picture of me up here soon!  Have fun with this project, and let me know how it goes.  xoxo

When my physician self and my artist self collide… look out!

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A dozen new cards and three boxed sets are being slowly added to the shop this weekend… I’m enjoying seeing them come to life as cards, after I put so much of my soul into painting each one… it’s fun to think of them reincarnated as a greeting to some dear friend or love!

There is one card I want to showcase to you in particular.  It is my favorite, but I think it is likely to get overlooked.  It isn’t my best painting, or my splashiest colors, or even instantly understandable.  But it is my favorite, none-the-less.  Because it fills a huge gap in the greeting card world that is being ignored.

This is where my physician self and my artist self merge.  There is a real need for cards that you can send to a loved one who has been recently diagnosed with cancer, or any other illness for that matter.  There are so many traditional physicians out there that will launch head first into a very terrifying, overwhelming list of *statistics* and survival categories and such, all while a patient is still reeling from shock.  I understand the well-meaning intentions behind providing a patient with survival statistics and categorizing stages of cancers… but at the heart of it all, there is a fear that is not being addressed, and emotional needs that are not being met, in deference to facts and statistics.

This painting came about because I fell in love with the quote:
“Give me a fruitful error any time, bursting with it’s own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself. – Vilfredo Pareto”

I just love that statement. It so perfectly captures what I feel about life in general. I’d rather live it, muck in it, get dirty with it, dance in it, roll around in all the sweetness and the errors and mistakes along the way… drink in all the honest raw goodness… I love when my kids and I “mess up” and love each other any way… there just isn’t a deeper trust or better feeling then knowing you are loved in an organic, real way, with no pressure for it to be perfect. That is how strive to appreciate my life… organic and raw, no need to be perfect. The rainy days and the awkward silences and the bruised egos… I’ll take it all, with gratitude.

So I think card would be SO PERFECT for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and has heard some horrifying statistic… I kept the inside blank, but what I’d love it to really say is:

“F*&ck the statistics. The only statistic that is true for you is that you are 100% loved.”

Something like that. Because really folks, facts can only get you so far. Love will get you the rest of the way.

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Homemade skivvies

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A few days ago, it was sunny enough for a *before* picture of a bunch of T-shirts I intended to do a little sewing on.  And considering the title of this post, I bet you can figure out what I’ve made out of them… at least, if I’ve spelled skivvies right, and assuming it is a real word used by families other then ours.

Today the world descended into a gray, dismal downpour, and an hour of sewing is just what I needed to feel like I got something uplifting done today.  Because since nothing is as uplifting as putting on a soft, thread-bare, worn-in, comfy t-shirt at the end of a long rainy day, just imagine how it feels if you put said T-shirt around your unmentionable zones and wear them as underwear.

I’m telling you, it is worth every minute of figuring out how to make them.  They don’t have to look good.  Look at mine!  Did I bother to match the thread to the garment… no!  Did I bother to slow down as I sewed around the curves of the leg holes… no!  Did I bother to measure before I cut?  Did I even trace the pattern on to my garment before cutting? Hell NO!  Because this is underwear made out of an old T-shirt, folks!  It naturally stretches to fit in all the right places.

Every woman has two types of underwear… the good ones, that you wear when you are feeling happy about your body and you want a little spring in your step… and the bad ones, that you save for when you have your period.  Right?  Well, after making homemade underwear, I now have three piles.  The good ones, the bad ones, and the HEAVENLY ones.  Both of my children feel the same — they say my underwear is more comfy then the thirty dollar organic ones from Hanna Anderson, for goodness sake.  If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.

Here are the results… one for my son… one for me.  One for my daughter… one for me.  See how that works?  Fair enough, isn’t it?

If you would like to make your own, and I demand that you do, here are the websites that got me started.

for girls:

http://belleandburger.blogspot.com/2009/06/panty-tutorial-how-to-make-your-own.html

http://www.rustybobbin.com/inklings/sew-panties.html

by far my favorite one is:  http://www.craftstylish.com/item/47762/how-to-make-your-own-underwear

for boys… or girls who like boy shorts style undies:

http://underwear.sew-ing.com/boxer.html

Have fun!!!  Oh, some shop news:  I just heard from my printing company that the notecards will not be ready until Friday, so the give-a-way will be next week instead of this week… stay tuned!  xoxo

My Organic Poptarts Suck

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You know how most of the blogs out there make you feel like you aren’t doing enough?  Every blog I love and faithfully read has two things in common.  One, the crafty women writing the blogs are genius.  The things they come up with are amazing.  Two, everything always comes out perfectly.

I couldn’t be one of those blogs if I tried, so I’m not going to try.

This was *supposed* to be an awe inspiring post about some homemade, organic pop tarts that I made.  I saw this post on Smitten Kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/04/homemade-pop-tarts/ and you really have to check it out, it is gorgeous and overwhelmingly impressive.  It made me print out the recipe and vow to make them myself right on the spot.

Well folks, this blog is not that blog.  Because here is what I came up with…

It started out promisingly enough.  Good, organic ingredients.  Fantabulous recipe.

First I started off making the strawberry filling, and my heart started sinking instantaneously.  And yours would too, if you used a jar of 100% organic, home made, hand-picked strawberry jam, made from strawberries that your gorgeous, precious sweet little children had painstakingly collected for you under the duress of the hot South Carolina sun… for which you then slaved over a hot, boiling, sticky stove making and canning your own jam… Preserved blood would not have been as precious to me as this jam, I’m telling you.  BUT.  Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is THAT GOOD.  Homemade jam kind of good.

So back to my sinking heart… I could tell the jam wasn’t setting firm enough after boiling with the cornstarch.  I should have turned back right then.  But dammit!  After wasting an entire jar of that jam, I’m not calling it quits just yet!

Instead I forced myself onwards, to creating the dough, rolling it out, trying to get the jam to stay on the inside, and then baking it… yeah, I was in a foul mood after all of that.

My poor innocent husband walked in through the door from a long day of work to see me giving my oven the middle finger as they were baking.

Here is what came out.  Empty squares of plain pie crust.

And my husband?  He ate every single one of them.  God I love that man.  He is my world.  For him, I will make a double batch of strawberry jam next year, and I won’t waste it on homemade poptarts.  If you go for it, please let me know how yours turn out!  xoxo

A peek into our animal world

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This weekend, lots of time was spent (as always) caring for our pets.  I love all of them, and there a quite a few.  I thought I’d start the week by giving you a small glimpse into our world of animals, and the joy they brought us this weekend.

My favorites are the guinea pigs… by far.  I’ve had guinea pigs my entire life, and just never get sick of looking at their unique adorableness…  I mean, they are like walking, living, “mmwweeeet”ing stuffed animals.   Just balls of fluff!  They are so silly they make me laugh without fail, every time.  Go on, I *dare* you to look at this picture and not at least smile!

My daughter’s favorite is the cockatiel, and my hubby and son both love the dogs the most.  I’ll start with that selection, although we have quite a few more pets to star in this blog at other points along the way.

Oh my, all our our pets are quite spoiled… but none as much as our cockatiel.  I’ve snuck that bird into every hotel we’ve ever stayed at because my daughter doesn’t want to leave him home for a night.  He even gets brought out in a travel carrier to spend time by our pool, for goodness sake!  It’s a pet spa over here, I’m telling you.

And while we are on the subject, am I the only mama out there who cooks up extra bacon slices each morning so that our cat can have her own slice?  I know you thought I was going to say dog… and yes, they get all the extra crumbles plus the bacon grease drizzled all over their kibble… but really, our cat Jenny is *obsessed* with bacon.  I’ve never heard of that before, I’d love to know I’m not alone here… anyone?  Awkward silence?  Anyone?

Check back later this week, as my new line of note cards is being launched and I am going to have a free give-a-way of a set of 8 cards!  See you here soon… xoxo