Here’s the birth story to my first painting collection and Etsy shop:
Back in the beginning of May I had a streak of inspiration. An artist I follow on Instagram shared a series she started based on the desert. They were simple abstracted paintings of desert things and they really caught my attention. It got me thinking about composition and how to be better at it. As an art teacher it has been a hard concept to teach to middle schoolers. It’s difficult to explain why one arrangement of shapes looks better than another arrangement of shapes to thirteen year olds. Hell, you might be lost at the concept.
How I attempt to explain it is composition is just the arrangement of elements. Those elements are or some combination of shapes, colors, textures, and forms. For example, a banana, an orange, and an apple and where you place them on the table.
One day when I was watching students in ISS (in school suspension, yep, that’s right) I started sketching.
Prior to this sketching, I had taken a Skillshare class exploring the elements of art and illustration style. I didn’t expect that little class to be groundbreaking for me but I did realize I am drawn to combinations of warm and cool colors where one accentuates the other. Thus, my color palette for the series.
The shapes and colors together reminded me of summer. The first painting I made reminded me of a sunset at Big Sur which then reminded me of my trip last summer. So I titled it “Summer Forever Because Everything Else Sucks.” And put it on Etsy. If you would like to purchase any of these paintings (I would love you forever) they are $30 and that includes shipping!
After that one, I decided to do 10 in the series and give each a name that made me laugh or roll my eyes about summer.
Let’s Go On A Hike in the Desert But Not Too Far **SOLD**
I Buy Expensive Sunscreen **SOLD**
You know how sometimes it takes a minute to process what happened… well in my case it can take up to a year. This is all for posterity’s sake.
Last summer I went to London and Paris with my longtime childhood friend, Hamp. Since Hamp is a weird combination of a geriatric and a toddler, he “let” me do all the planning. Which worked for both our lifestyles.
I made a detailed itinerary but here are spots of note we hit:
British Museum, Neal’s Yard/Seven Dials, St. Dunstan-in-the-East, Tower of London, Borough Market, St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Chapelle, Notre Dame, Cluny Museum, Eiffel Tower, The Lourve, Millennium Bridge, Notting Hill, Portobello Road Market, Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum, Trafalgar Square, Sketch, Kensington Palace & Gardens, Westminister Abbey, Tower Bridge, Parliament of England, Stonehenge, Bath
If you would like the exact itinerary details it will cost you. I’m upping my fee from one ice cream cone to two. Thank you very much.
We almost missed our flight to London but we ran through the Charlotte airport like the scene from Home Alone and made it on to the plane with minutes to spare. What I didn’t research before going to London is that it was going to take 3 hours for us to go through customs once we got there. Luckily we made friends with some folks in line including Typhoid Dylan (we don’t know his real name but that’s his name in our hearts).
Anyway, here are some pictures pretty much in sequential order.
The young and the restless made it to London!
St. Dunstan-in-the-East is basically a secret garden that’s not so secret.
We walked across Tower Bridge.
Got lunch at a market… how very English of us!
We got up early and hopped on a train. It is true what they say… Paris is always a great idea.
I’ve been to Paris before but I think I’ll never tire of it.
St. Chapelle is undeniably beautiful, floor to ceiling.
Back in London and we took a walk around Notting Hill. How dreamy!
All the colors! Now I need a magenta door.
Like any vacation of mine, there was a lot of art and ice cream.
When you’re in England you might as well go see Stonehenge, right? ** If you go to Stonehenge, I highly recommend paying a little extra to go on the tour before or after the site is open to the public so that you can go all up in them! Totally worth it! **
On our trip to Stonehenge we also went to Bath (which was a gorgeous city) and the ancient town of Lacock (quintessentially English).
Back in London I tried to take the most London AF pictures ever.
One of my favorite exhibits I’ve ever seen was Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at the V&A on our last day.
And no trip to London would be complete without high tea at Sketch.
That was the extremely condensed version of the trip. Overall, London is a great city to visit! It’s easy to get around and there’s so much to see. Believe it or not, I didn’t see everything. I’m ready for my return trip!
After our trip to Idaho and San Jose, we traveled up to San Francisco for a few days. San Francisco has been on my list since I saw Forest Gump in the Dothan movie theater.
Greg and I pretend to be outdoorsy from time to time so our first stop was to cross the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito en route to Muir Woods. We ate a really unique/delicious salad and pizza at Bar Bocce (highly recommend this place for food and views!). Sausalito is picturesque. It’s hard to believe anyone lives there.
Next we headed to the main event… Muir Woods. I looked up a few different trails ahead of time. We settled on one that was about 2 miles long. We wanted to see the woods but not spend the entire day there. Muir Woods is a busy/touristy place. I recommend taking a trail that is at least 2 miles or longer to get away from most of the tourist traffic. Besides the traffic, Muir Woods is pretty incredible. It’s so quiet! It feels like you’re on set for Jurassic Park. Something about the light gives it another worldly feel… not to mention the trees are hundreds of years old and HUGE.
After Muir Woods we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge again back to SF. Before heading to our AirBnb we stopped at Palace of Fine Arts… I just like to see as much crap as I can. Palace of Fine Arts was neat. I wouldn’t say it’s a must see though.
Finding a place to stay in SF that wasn’t super expensive was difficult. We ended up booking this super cute AirBnb in the Mission District. If you’ve never stayed in an AirBnb there a few things to know: 1. Always read the listing carefully 2. There will be surprises 3. It’s not a hotel. With that being said we were pretty happy with our stay. When they said “Mission District” they really meant “closest to.” When they said “yogurt and granola” they meant “there’s some there but it’s been there over a year, check the dates!” What did not surprise or disappoint was the resident cat, Squirrelly Joe.
To end day one we went on a taco hop for dinner, watched street celebrations of the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship and finished it with ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (I got the “Secret Breakfast” flavor). We had the best homemade red mole sauce at El Metate that I’m still dreaming about!
Nothing like starting off a day of vacation with a phone interview! We also had to return our rental car. Driving in SF is an experience… one that I would not like to have again. With the dreadful tasks out of the way, we headed to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Art Museums are weirdly (?) comforting to me and I really enjoyed the SFMOMA. It has a diverse collection of fun/entertaining art for everyone. It wasn’t so woo-woo-out-there like some modern art can be. I would highly suggest checking it out. One of my favorites was Warhol’s Dolly’s, of course.
We did some walking and headed toward Ghirardelli Square/Fisherman’s Wharf because you haven’t been to SF if you don’t. Along the way we stopped and got a donut at Bob’s Donuts and then I stopped in the precious shop of an illustrator/stationer I follow on Instagram (@paristosf), Ferme à Papier. I bought a few cards because how could I not.
I’m not one for staying on the beaten path but we went to Musée Mécanique in Fisherman’s Wharf. It was actually pretty neat and comical. My favorite “game” was the Opium Den where you put in your quarter and skeletons start coming out of the walls and doorways of the puppet living scene. It was so wacky.
We continued our walking tour to Chinatown and stopped in the famed City Lights Bookstore for a browse.
Finally, we decided to have a traditional SF dinner of oysters and po’ boys at Hog Island Oyster Co. In standard Vacation-Mollie style we finished off the evening with ice cream and picking up a bottle of wine before heading back to our temporary home.
This day we decided to explore the Mission District. To start, we ate at Tartine Bakery which definitely lived up to all the hype. We got an open faced sandwich thing and a lemon tart. This is also where we had the best coffee of the trip. Definitely go to Tartine!
I love art and Greg loves history so we went to the Mission San Francisco de Asís. It’s the oldest building in SF and has survived fires and earthquakes. It also has a pretty little cemetery.
We hung out in the park for a while watching everyone’s dogs play and a hippy girl with her butt hanging out walk a white fluffy kitten on a leash. Some guy brought his parrot to fly around and buzz everyone and that’s when we tapped out.
We had lunch at a really cute Cuban place called Media Noche. I got the ceviche which was perfectly refreshing and Greg got the Cuban sandwich. Their bathroom has shiny pink banana wallpaper which was a plus for me.
There was more ice cream.
Later we met up with Greg’s friend Jack (who we stayed with in San Jose) for dinner. We went to the Lyon Street steps for some views before walking to Hong Kong Loung II for dim sum. The dim sum was delicious.
Because we can’t stop the party, we went bar hopping. Most notably was the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar inside the Fairmont Hotel (which is beautiful itself). Let’s just say I was excited, Greg and Jack were… less than excited. It’s super kitschy and the drinks are not great and expensive but it’s a definite experience! We finished the night at a little hole in the wall and called it day.
Our flight was at noon so we wanted to get in a good breakfast before we left. We went to Mission Beach Cafe as soon as they opened at 9. I got the pancakes with bourbon syrup and they hit the spot. The story of the rest of the day was flight delays and getting home at 2am. Oh we did sit by Lou Holtz. Nonetheless, we had a great trip!
*** Tips and Thoughts ***
- Here’s the google map I made with a bunch of places that were recommended to me, we visited, or I researched. I have it organized and color coded. I even plotted where there are some murals (art walls) to see.
- SF is definitely walkable. I wouldn’t recommend driving. We either walked or took Lyft everywhere. We didn’t use the public transportation because I didn’t look into how to do it. Bikes are also an option.
- There is a big homeless population in SF which was kind of shocking to me. More so than NYC.
- Greg doesn’t normally wear his sweaters on his shoulders like that… he was tired of carrying them.
Once again Greg and I were lucky enough to make the trek out to Idaho with On River Time (the nonprofit Greg works for). This was our third year together (Greg went one year by himself). Yet again, we parlayed it into a mini/cheap vacation. Check out last year’s post here and 2015 here.
We had a great time with the kids. I even got to go out and fish this year. I was not excited about it at first because tbh I knew I was going to have to wear a hat but then I caught one! And then I caught more! Despite the hat, I had fun fishing. Oh and in that first picture I didn’t know how to hold a fish for the camera… no one told me! All fingers with a little bit of fish *eye roll*.
Usually the kids get to visit Yellowstone but this year we switched it up and went to the Grand Tetons. We had an awesome guide named Sarah who picked up a lot of random animal poop all in the name of nature and learning. She took us on a hike and to see a beaver dam. She was awesome. She was totally nerding out on nature and that’s exactly the type of guide you want.
After our Idaho adventure we hopped on a plane to San Jose where we spent a few days with Greg’s college buddy, Jack. He and his girlfriend, Char were our gracious hosts. Really, they were great and it’s awesome to have friends in appealing locales (anyone live in Hawaii? Costa Rica? France?).
As we were leaving a couple came to take their wedding pictures and I cannot think of a better place. There are so many colors in cliffs and then the water and then the beach, oh my. I would love to see their photos.
On our way back to San Jose, we stopped in Monterey (Big Little Lies!) for lunch and picked up local sea bass to cook for dinner. It was pretty much the idyllic day with perfect weather and good company.
The next day we went on a five mile hike in the San Jose valley. As we were hiking the view continually changed. The terrain is just so different than Alabama. It felt other worldly at times. And at times it felt like we were in Italy. Everything is golden and green and so much texture.
When we got back from our hike we had the ultimate Silicon Valley experience… we went to LinkedIn. Jack has been working there for the past year as a coder (whatever that means, idk). He gave us a little tour around the building he works in (because LinkedIn has multiple buildings). Everything was Marvel themed. They have espresso machines, sparkling juice machines, snacks, and fridges packed on every level. Like, no wonder everyone wants to work in tech. It was really neat to see and despite what you might think they don’t have cubicles per se and there is a lot of natural light.
We went to a near by town where popped into a local bookstore and then to a beer garden. We had a low key dinner back in San Jose. The next morning we left for San Francisco!… Stay tuned for that post.
I’ve said it before but I’m kind of a freak about having my nails painted. I don’t get “professional” manicures but I give myself one every Sunday night. Lately, I’ve been wanting to add a little **pizazz** to my basic polish job but nothing too crazy. Enter…. minimal manicures aka laziest nail art ever. These are classic, simple designs that are a little more fun but not garish. They are simple enough to do at home or have done at any nail salon. So, dig your boring nails into this…
Dot, dot, not a lot. When I taught elementary art that’s what I would tell my students about using glue. I think it applies here too. Dots are easy and versatile. You definitely don’t need any nail tools. A q-tip, bobby pin, or toothpick will do the job.
Stripes are always classic. You can play with varying widths and numbers of stripes for different effects. Again, no fancy tools necessary. I usually just use the polish brush but if you want more control or thinner stripes you can get a cheap paint brush from any craft store or tape.
Triangles are stripes’s first cousin. Wether acute or obtuse, you can get a range of looks with them. Use a little bit of tape for perfect points and you’ll be envied by all zebras and tigers in the zoo.
Embrace a natural part of your nails and enhance those God given lunulae (the actual name of the white part of your nail, latin for little moon) with glitter, solid color, or no polish at all. Remember those hole reinforcers? Yeah, they can be used for this look.
The traditional French tip manicure is passé in my humble opinion. But, YOU DO YOU. If you’re looking for an update though… try unexpected colors, a different shape, or an ombre. See? We all win. Yay, us!
There is no skill required for ombre nails. All you need are at least three polishes in the same hue or tone and you’re good to go. Only bonus points if you’re a polish hoarder like me and five of the same. If you’re feeling extra bold try this fancier gradient. Or, just paint each nail a random color. That works too!
Earrings! Let me talk to/at you about earrings!
Since the fall I have seen statement earrings popping up on the ol’ fashion blogs and on the instagrams. I’m one to move cautiously if at all towards trends so I’ve been hanging back. I also have sensitive ears. BUT, I’ve had visions of statement earrings dancing through my head.
You may be thinking, “Great! I still have ALLLLLL of my chandelier earrings and hoops from college!” Well, I don’t want to burst your bubble because if you still like them, wear them… but this time around think bigger, quirkier, geometric, tassels, and pompoms. Think of them as little works of art.
So, I think I’m going to have to break out the neosporin and give the statement earring the college try. Here are a few I’m picturing to wear with a t-shirt, high waist jeans with a raw hem, and some clogs (click images to shop):
Another year, another Academy Awards, another gowns and art post. Thank you to my friends that gave me a little encouragement to do this again. Sometimes I think I’m the only one that reads my blog so it’s nice to have some feedback. If you like something you see, please let me know! See past years here and here.
Back to the 2017 Oscars… overall, this was probably my least favorite one ever. The dresses were kind of all the same to me (gold or solid) and the ceremony wasn’t that interesting either. I missed the most exciting part with the mix up over the “Best Picture” because I went to bed. There were a lot of nice dresses but not many were very exciting. Despite the yawnfest, I still managed to pick out five that I thought were worth a second look.
Priyanka Chopra: If I could go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow as Priyanka I would finally know the feeling of being better than everyone else… haha. Man, that girl has some confidence. If she were teaching lessons on how to be her I would totally sign up. I feel like there should be a t-shirt with the slogan “Be Like Priyanka” in bold letters. Only she could wear this dress (and those cuffs!) with ease. It’s probably obvious this dress beckons to quilting but quilts are beautiful so there you go. The dress seems like a work of modern art itself so it felt natural to pair it with two such artist.
Ginnifer Goodwin: I thought Ginnifer looked like a porcelain doll but I haven’t seen or heard much about her look. Mostly everyone has focused on this very similar red dress which is also beautiful. I actually liked GG’s a little better because of the fit, tiers of transparency, and structure. This dress is bold and romantic all with a lightness to it. Very complex! Which all seemed like a challenge but I think I found artwork with the same qualities. (That top work is super cool string art!)
Janelle Monáe: I’m not surprised that Janelle wore the most outstanding dress of the night. I love her style. I’ve contemplated only dressing in black and white because of her. This dress has a lot going on but I was happy to see somebody taking a risk. In my search for art I focused on black, white, metallics, and texture. How perfect is that black bag with the gold embroidery?!? This dress is fun and whimsical so only fun and whimsical art would do. Thank you for being you, J!
Jessica Biel: Dipped in gold like an Oscar herself! Way to show up everyone, Jess. You already got Justin… why you got to steal all the attention too??? I love tone of this dress; the gold is more brown than yellow and looks perfect with her coloring. And that neckline! I also really love the distressed trend on a formal dress – how fresh. The artwork I picked for this gown are just as luxe and detailed and timeless.
Hailee Steinfeld: I’m not totally sure who Hailee Steinfeld is but that’s okay because her dress is bee-yoo-ti-fullll. The light lavender-y color is gorgeous. I hardly realized the dress is (basically) entirely sheer. To fully appreciate it, you should see a close up. And the ruffles on the back! It is the definition of pretty to me. I went for artwork that had the same sheer and etherial quality as the dress. I really love how unabashedly feminine the dress is and so I picked artwork that was the same and was coincidentally made by all women. You go girls.
It’s no secret I love podcasts and try to push them on everyone I know… Well, today is no different. If you haven’t dipped your ears into the pool of podcasts then consider this your doggy paddle lesson. Here are three podcast episodes I’ve listened to recently and thought were exceptionally good:
Why I Like It :: I love a good coincidence story. It has suspense and intrigue. I feel like there should be a Finnish word to describe the feeling you get when you’re part of one. If anything, this podcast will make you want to pay attention to your surroundings and the minutia of your daily life. You never know what will pop back up days or years later. That’s part of the fun of being alive. (Please tell me a coincidence story if you have one!)
Why I Like It :: This one surprised me. It is not at all what you think it might be about. Within this podcast there are a diverse range of stories and angles on the topic including one with a holocaust survivor (my favorite part). I was thinking it was going to be more about fashion but it ended up being more about psychology (and the interesting people in the episode). Human interest and psychology are the perfect combo.
Why I Like It :: First, I love Tim Gunn and I love Michael Ian Black. Second, Michael Ian Black is extremely good at interviewing. I am really impressed. Tim Gunn is very relatable, open, and smart in this interview. I’ve listened to a few interviews with Tim Gunn and this one is my favorite. Michael Ian Black asks the best questions and all the questions you would want asked. I would recommend this podcast as a whole. I’ve enjoyed all of them that I’ve listened to.
If you’re wondering when to listen… I listen to podcasts on my commute, while cleaning my house, getting ready in the morning, prepping dinner, and walking the dogs. Basically anytime you have a mundane task is a good time to listen.
If you listen to podcasts, let me know what you’re listening to! I love to try new ones.
Happy Valentine’s Day guys and gals! Let you’re loved ones know how much they mean to you and be nice to strangers. Lord knows we all need more love… let that steep. XOXO
My dogs are my real life inspirations for this Valentine’s card. They say they love me A LOT.