Friday, June 29, 2012

Happenings at GrayDayStudio: Pet Lover's Bag and Future Sneak Peeks...

Hey all, just wanted to check in and share a little update and sneak peek at my etsy shop, GrayDayStudio!

This week I listed a custom pet silhouette canvas tote! It's a cute way to take your best friend with you no matter your destination! Or stay organized and use the bag for dog purposes only- as if it's solely your dog walking/dog park bag!

I'm also working on a series of dip dye bags that will have a little something screen printed on them! If all goes well, I will have them in the shop early next week! ; )

And my GrayDayStudio stamp arrived today! (sometimes certain things are worth outsourcing to someone else... with my limited time as a full time mom, I have to be practical, and this was just one of those things! Now about out sourcing child care ; ) ...? ) I'm very happy with the result of the stamp and now every bag, pillow, tag, etc will include my shop name!!!

Also- my summer bucket list goal to paint more landscapes, is coming along. And once I have a little solid group of 5 or so paintings, I will list them in the shop!  So there you have it! I'm slowly chipping away at my goals to be a full time artist... this isn't just a hobby or something to keep me busy (believe me our 20 month old has that covered!)... but my shop is my venue to share what I love to make with a wider community. I'm still fine tuning my vision and I hope one day when I have longer periods of time, to sit, reflect... and to then take brush to canvas once again... to paint, to collage, to build, to scratch...  I will offer a range of bigger things... not in size but in scope. I know this doesn't make sense, it barely does to me... I can't even leave a coherent voicemail at this point in my life ; ) let alone be specific about my process. I simply wanted to express my energy, my drive and desire behind what seems like a little corner...

So on that note, consider yourself slightly caught up with the Happenings at GrayDayStudio!

And have  a lovely weekend!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My quick Pasta Cream Sauce, You and Every Toddler will love!

I've mentioned my cream sauce before in other pasta related entries but I will repeat it once again because it's so good and easy to make! It's a sauce I made A LOT while living in Florence, Italy for a semester.  And now it's my go to mealtime fix when I need something in a hurry that I know the toddler will gobble down. (here's the babe with her Pasta yesterday at lunch... her Aunt tied her napkin around her head. She make a cute swiss miss!) I sometimes make the sauce with tomatoes, but since it seems to be too acidic for young ones skin, I've been making the sauce sans tomato. (But this doesn't mean you have to!)

I'm also sharing this recipe, for my Cousin, who fed this to her daughter when they were visiting. Her 12 month old loved the sauce over the mushroom stuffed raviolis. The sauce is a great way to include vegetables. I'm not for hiding vegetables in kid's food, I feel they should be educated about food, and eat vegetables on their own... This sauce doesn't hide them, simply incorporates them into the mix, making your life a few steps easier on those nights when you are D-O-N-E! ; ) And you need something fast and tasty.

Cream Sauce Recipe:

* Chop 1 onion and two cloves of garlic and cook it in a pan with olive oil. (You Can sauté mushrooms, spinach, peas or another veg at this point too. If you have frozen chopped onion and minced garlic in a jar- congratulations your sauce will be that much faster!)  

* Once the onion is golden and soft, add 1/3 or 1/4 cup of flour to the mix (depending on how much sauce you need.). Stir it in so the olive oil really mixes with the flour. Then add milk (or cream and milk!) in proportion to how thick you want the sauce to be.  Usually at the beginning pour enough milk so it covers the onion/flour/oil mix (You can always add more milk later). Salt and nutmeg are great additions! 

As the sauce cooks, it will continue to thicken with the heat, so add more milk/cream to balance out the thickness. Don't worry if it seems too thin, the continued heat will be sure to thicken it eventually. Don't add flour, just wait... I've botched this sauce up at the beginning when tweaking it, by adding flour later on, the result is thick paste. Keep tasting it as you cook to see if it needs more pepper/salt/nutmeg, etc.

* Pour over your favorite pasta or stuffed Ravs.  

FUN TODDLER TIP: If you're running late and the baby is really hungry, rinse your pasta in cold water to cool it off, so when the straight-off-the-stove-sauce is added, it won't be completely hot and scalding.  If it's still too hot and frantically blowing on it, is not enough, pop it in the freezer for a minute.

In the past I've also added a can of mushroom soup to the sauce. In doing so I didn't have to add as much milk since the soup provided the liquid. However I did taste as I cooked and added milk here and there to balance out the salty-ness of the soup.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What I've Learned this week and It's only Tuesday...

(My weekly motherhood post)

* Language is like walking, once they start each day is a bigger improvement on what was learned the day before.

* That being said, it's like having a parrot she repeats everything we say so watch it!

* She will also just sit there and repeat a phrase over and over again practicing it. As a result I'm working on not ignoring her. Ignoring her would not only teach her that she isn't being heard, but it literally doesn't work! She will stop once you acknowledge her. She's not being stubborn just learning and I think she thinks you can't hear her if you are not responding! Plus since her language is still limited she might be saying so much with just one word... so it helps to take that word, or name, and talk about the dog with her. "Oh Millie!? Yes she is probably home sleeping, or she is running around outside barking! silly Millie! Shall we pet her when we get home?" One might feel and sound like an idiot, but it calms her down to try and carry on a conversation with me. Plus along the way it is teaching her new words, as she fanatically nods in agreement and repeats after me, "Yes, Millie sleeping, Millie barking, no barking Millie".

* And I forgot to mention last week, that I have this new thing where I figuratively award myself "Motherhood Merit Badges". It's a little pat on the back I give myself when I'm being extra calm and thrifty- for example when during naked kiddie pool time, as I watched my naked daughter standing alone in the garage begin to poo, I ran towards her with a bucket catching it in said bucket and was able to avoid a crappier situation. I stayed calm and told her that this was a lot like pooping on the potty, that she should try it next time! ; ) Boom, motherhood merit badge awarded- with a little embroidered poop in a bucket. 

Knitting Inspiration: Enchanted April

I watched Enchanted April again last night and I was struck by the lovely floral robes, beautiful jewelry, and long flowing knit tunics of the era.  This of course sent me on a bit of a search on etsy for jewelry and then to Ravelry for knitting patterns. As a result of my Ravelry search, I am now drooling over Susan Crawford's patterns! She has written two books, A stitch in time V.1 - knitting and crochet patterns from 1920-1949 and Volume 2.  Unfortunately I don't have the cash flow at the moment to purchase these books... ($40-$50 a pop) so in the meantime I shall share with you some of my favorite patterns from her books.

(I saw this one knit in a dark warm orange- brown and it looked really striking!)

simply beautiful and fun, I think I could call myself a bad-ass knitter if I was able to successfully knit this! ; )

This top would be the first thing I would knit...

A lovely staple.

The thing I find so appealing about these patterns are how they fit with the ideals I have about making my own clothes, and about knitting in general.  I want my wardrobe to be limited to classic essentials; pieces that will wear well over time. If they are handmade and made with real fibers and materials- this will aid in their longevity and overall quality.  PLUS when it comes to knitting- if I am going to spend so much time on a project, the yarn better be banging and the pattern lovely. Watch out piggy bank, we got some work ahead of us! ; )

Monday, June 25, 2012

Music Monday: The Lumineers

For today's little Music Monday, I wanted to share this video of The Lumineers song Hey Hoy.  The husband recently purchased The Lumineers self titled album, and there are some real gems on it. It's worth a preview on iTunes. The song Hey Hoy has a fun summer upbeat vibe to it, and I also like their song Submarines and Big Parade. We are drawn to music where you can actually hear the instruments- a little mandolin mixed with a fiddle, very nice indeed.

A Love Letter to Summer: Lake Michigan Inspired

Hi all, how was your weekend? Ours was lovely. We were able to go to the shore to hang out with our friend who is visiting from Denver. The weather really cooled off but the ocean was so throughly cooked from this past week that we were able to really enjoy it! I'll post pics either today or tomorrow!

Here is this week's Love Letter to Summer, inspired by the two summers I spent in Michigan. Growing up on the east coast I have this strong need to be near water... and I always felt a little landlocked during my years spent going to school in the midwest. But Michigan broke that for me... I love its fields, lakes full of rocks, rivers to explore, cherries to be consumed. Living near Lake Michigan feels like the Maine of the midwest. So here it is- my Lake Michigan Inspired Love Letter to Summer, enjoy!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer Bucket List, An Update: 2 Paintings and Counting....

On Thursday I began working on my Summer Bucket List goal- to paint landscapes. The original idea was to paint outside with oils, but since it's been hot as HELL here this week, and time permitting and all that- I worked indoors and from images on my computer. Better than nothing! So here they are, my first two paintings... fun to bust out the watercolors again, their smell takes me back to being a sophomore in college, which makes me feel old-ish.
 ; )

Stay tuned for future updates on this topic, and have a great weekend!


Friday, June 22, 2012

New At GrayDayStudio: Imaginative Canvas Totes

I added some bags to the shop this afternoon and wanted to share!

My Little Chiefs silhouette is now on a nifty canvas tote!

As is Whale of a Tale...

and My Fox and Bird Motif tote now comes with long 11" gray handles! Each bag also comes with standard two interior pockets. Might have to have one of each for myself!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What We're Reading: Children's books

Our Daughter goes through little phases with her books, where she loves a handful at a time, asking to read only her current favorites over and over and over again. Peekaboo books, pull and flap books, any and all interactive books have been a big success since about 16 months onward, which is great to know if you need to get a little something for a toddler in this age range.

Now that her language is taking off she asks me all the time "Whas dat!?" and so at 20 months picture books loaded with animals, fruit, etc are all the rage. It's funny how the books cycle through in keeping with their developmental milestones.

Today I chose just three of our current favorite books to share with you. I picked up My Circus, by Xavier Deneux at LongFellow books in Portland, Maine during our visit in April. The bookstore is lovely and their kids section in the back is always full of new-to-me books! My Circus is designed with simple illustrations depicted in a limited pallet. They are really fun and striking, while each page has a cut out that leads to the following page. It's a subtle interactive element that is beautifully designed. IE: the circular cut out of a balloon turns into the sun on a following page.  It's a small yet thick book, super sturdy and great to take in your bag to entertain a little one while out and about.

The next two books Vegetables and Fruit by Sara Anderson, are full of beautiful illustrations showcasing an individual vegetable or fruit per page. At first I thought these books might be too simple, but there is a cute little rhythm to them that leads to a little crescendo in the middle of the book and at the end. And I secretly love how our daughter already knows 90% of the fruits and vegetable from her experience with growing and eating them.

So there you have it, a few of our favorite board books of the moment! ; )

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Musing about my Summer Bucket List... an Update

I mentioned at the beginning of June how this summer I really want to paint outside, specifically to paint landscapes... I know this is a tall order- what with having a toddler around full time (not just around, but responsible for) but mostly because how freaking hot it is going to be this week... as you can see, as with all goals, it's very easy to start coming up with excuses or road blocks. (If you can't even attempt to work on a goal then no opportunity of failure!) It's all well and good to have a goal-wish list, but if one never actually puts it on the calendar, it will keep getting pushed aside.

And yet I have this intense desire to paint... I let my frustration and lack of interest with oil painting wain during grad school, which was good since it allowed me to focus on breaking into and dabbling with installations... but now here it is, returned, awakened... perhaps it's the ultimate call to self, the call and search for my former self, the one that could have on a whim scooped up easel and paints and hit up a field somewhere... not that I ever did... I look back on my -before baby years and become a cliche of wishing we had traveled more, of wondering why we were so lame and didn't live that year in New Zealand, why we didn't go on a honeymoon....? And now, why the hell didn't I just go for it and paint landscapes!?  And the answer is that for starters I didn't actually want to paint landscapes, I find them daunting and because if I had, I would like to think I would have achieved this goal... but mostly before becoming a parent you have no freaking idea what time means, and you abuse it by luxuriating in its infiniteness...

And now I sit here at night after putting the little one to bed, and curse myself for continuing to abuse my "free time"... I sit here and stare at the computer... the mountain of things in my brain, jotted on countless misplaced lists, and even on a note in my i-phone, are so immense and endless I sit struck dumb as to where to even begin... and mostly I'm tired and lack inspiration to get off my ass.

Thus I turn to this bigger more lofty goal of painting landscapes. To escape into a landscape... one that I can dictate, where it is quiet and only the essential remains.

Practical conclusions have been reached- I will practice painting landscapes indoors, working from pictures and other images... doing little sketches in both oil and watercolor... researching and gathering inspiring images, and so forth. And then one cool late afternoon, I will throw baby in the car and hit up a field somewhere. (I know just the one!)

But most importantly to drop the whole Jacob Marley act of being shackled with regret, pointing fingers and warning the childless to savor their free time... but rather to savor my own time, the present... because I'm sure years from now when the house is again quiet and personal time becomes overwhelming, I will look back at these years and say I should have relaxed more and gone with the flow, to not be so hard on myself, that it's great to strive towards a goal as well as to sit motionless after baby bedtime hours and just soak in the quiet... my own little motherhood landscape

What to Watch: Twenty Twelve

When my cousin was visiting last week from England, she told me about the satirical BBC series Twenty Twelve that pokes fun of the Twenty Twelve Olympic committee. It started last year and draws its inspiration from actual committee f-ups, making the series even more hilarious. 

You can watch clips on the BBC site, or longer segments on Youtube. 
(I have yet to find a site that doesn't ask for your credit card, so perhaps we will have to wait until it comes out on DVD to see it in its entirety? Let me know if you know of a way to watch full episodes?)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

GrayDayStudio Update: Even More Neon

Some days it seems I only can find time to add garlands to my shop... the bigger projects will have their day, but for now here are 3 new little gems that are sure to brighten your party or home decor. 

Above: Neon Sunset- made of recycled watercolor painting in 2 inch circles and 1 inch vibrant neon circles. It reminds me of the blaring sun that reflects off a murky lake- transforming it into a vibrant glow.

Storm on the Shoreline  is again made from recycle abstract watercolor paintings and mixed with reversible silver and gold 1 inch circles. It feels almost grecian, and I swear I can hear the waves crashing and the fog horn sounding!

And Neon Gum Drops is a little ditty that reminds me of the candy dots I used to eat as a kid, there was always a scrap of paper stuck to the underside, but so worth it!

Stay tuned for more canvas bags coming to the shop this week, scout's honor!

What I've learned this week and it's only Tuesday

(my weekly, or bi weekly motherhood post that attempts to document my motherhood education, which is a constant learning curve, where the little lessons are the biggest accomplishments)

* I'm currently working on making our goodbye at bedtime shorter. We have a pretty scripted routine when it comes to bedtime, the predictability of it is comforting for all involved. Bath, Pjs, Books, Bunny and toddler take turns turning off the lights... but sometimes she's extra sad... and I wonder if it's because I'm just too much fun (joke/sarcasm). But seriously, perhaps the goodbye is too long- making her sad. Like when my brother and I would go away to boarding school each year- it was more painful when my parents would come in and sit with us at our boarding gate (back when one could)... I preferred a quick goodbye at the curb, like ripping off a bandaid.  Thus our bedtime routine is still the same, but once the light is off, she gets one or two songs and then poof a kiss goodnight and to bed. She doesn't really want to be rocked like when she was smaller... so I'm taking that as a hint and not pushing it. She's much happier and not so sad, seems to be working (for now!).

* A fun new bedtime thing I've been doing- when turning the lights off, I'll make a face, then quickly turn it back on sharing another wacky facial expression... I repeat this until I run out of silly faces (which doesn't take long). And the toddler giggles and loves it...

* Another bedtime philosophy- fill them up with fun, imagination, and wonderment. Por ejemplo- I sing her a goodnight song (from our music class) where you sing goodnight to everything. We pick out things in the room, she'll make lots of suggestions, some get repeats... We'll sing goodnight to things from our day- the ocean, the bike, the helmet... and then work towards all the people and pets she knows. I like to think this is a fun way to reflect on her day, while being grateful, and feeling so loved that when she has to be alone in her bed- it's a comfort to think back on all the people and things from the song.

* While my cousin was visiting this past week with her 12 month old, her biggest goal was to help her daughter feel comfortable taking a bath on her own in the tub. After a bad spill, where the baby tried to stand up and fell on her face in the tub, my cousin would take baths with her (we did this with our daughter which is very comforting when they are tiny, plus it's adorable).  I'm not sure if it was the baby's time spent in a kiddie pool in the backyard with our daughter where the water was very shallow and full of toys, or playing in the ocean, or the baths she shared with our 20 month old... but I've heard that she is now sitting on her own in the bath.  SO if you have a similar issue- try having a play date where your little one plays with another little one who is comfortable in the water. And take it slow with them, if they want to get out- calmly remove them for a little bit and then calmly put them back in the tub... good luck!

* The toddler's language is developing like crazy- her newest word is "Hydrangea". She still needs a translator and there are moments when even I don't know what she is saying, which can be frustrating for all parties involved. It's a constant reminder to be patient and attentive, letting her know she is heard, if not understood. This helps us avoid any toddler-esque meltdowns, etc.

* She is really into bows and jewelry at the moment. So last night at bed when I explained to her she can't wear them to bed and I started taking them away from her, she was getting a little worked up and I could see a storm on the horizon. So I acted quickly and asked her if she would want to put them away herself in a special bowl on her dresser. She adamantly agreed, we did this, and all was well. Sometimes they just need a proper goodbye, on their terms that feels respectful. ; )

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Love Letter to Summer

Hi all, how was your weekend? Ours was great, bitter sweet though since my family from England left on Saturday. It was a glorious 12 days that was very fun and rejuvenating, a real break. I'm going to post a little pictorial recap of our time at the sea shore sometime this week, so stay tuned. Here is this week's Love Letter to Summer. Have a great start to your week!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Links and Such

Hey all, here is this week's Links and Such post, better late in the day than never!

neon dipped wooden bowls
strawberry lemonade popsicles 
completely in love with this mourning broach 
the perfect handmade leather bag
beautiful quilt idea, neutral and looks easy
darning tutorial, we have some hand knit socks that could use this attention
pretty wave bag
could you rock a quilted coat?  I'm slightly tempted ; )
DIY colorful outdoor swing
magnetic wallpaper!?!!
Wonderful bags at Barnacle Bags

Happenings at GrayDayStudio Etsy Shop

This week (while on vacation) I sold three neon garlands to a customer who took advantage of my garland promo and saved 10% with code "3Garlands" when she bought ... you guessed it- 3 garlands! 
; )

So it looks like I'll be making more garlands next week when I am back in my studio and back to work! In the meantime take advantage of my garland promo

ALSO- my Neat But Not Gaudy tote is now available with really long handles- over 12" long. You can also upgrade any tote with my handle extension listing- available with pillow ticking or the rugged tote material straps. All extensions also include two interior pockets as well! (Eventually all totes will be updated to a longer strap!)

have a great one!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What I've been knitting... bah bah black sheep

I knit a little black lamb for my cousin's daughter's first birthday... and here it is! It's a free pattern I found on Ravelry that I used back at Easter to knit a little white lamb for our daughter's Easter basket. The pattern doesn't include a tail, so I simply took the instructions for the ear and knit about 5-7 rows of the ear pattern. I also opted out of beads for eyes since the lamb's owners are still little. So I hand embroidered little blue eyes and secured the end of it into a blue bow at the lamb's neck.

Now that I am knitting toys for little ones, I've turned into a bag lady who saves every scrap of yarn from all of my knitting projects to have plush stuffing for the toys. Tip: stuff toy with like colors since they will inevitably peek through.


Monday, June 11, 2012

A Love Letter to Summer

Hi all, hope you had a great weekend!? We are down at the shore for another week with my family who are in town from England... it's been a lot of fun, and I look forward to sharing pictures soon. Here is this week's  Love Letter to Summer! 
have a great one, 


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