Friday, March 30, 2012

In less than 12 hours...

...we leave for LONDON!!

I'm jittery with excitement just typing that!  John and I are like little kids going to Disneyland...we're over-the-top excited!!  I've never been, but have always wanted to go...John's been a few times for work, but never explored, so we can't wait to experience it all together!!

Ever since I was a little girl, London has always been the setting of magic books in my mind...think about it...so many childhood stories are based in London:

Peter Pan
Winnie the Pooh
Peter Rabbit
Harry Potter
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Mary Poppins
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe...
...just to name a few!



EEEEeeeeee :)  That's me screaming inside!


These are just a few things we're going to do (good thing that lots of these sites are within walking distance!)

Visit and Explore
Natural History Museum
Big Ben and Parliament
Changing of the guards
London Bridge
Tower of London and Crown Jewels 
Eye of London (Ferris Wheel)
Buckingham Palace
Westminster Abbey
Notting Hill
Portobello Road
Ride a double decker bus
All the beautiful parks and statues

Eat
Indian food 
Turkish Food
Fish and chips (of course!)
Tea Time

Night Attractions
Wicked Musical (super excited for this!)

Shopping
Hamley's Toy Store
Mr. Humbug's Candy Store
Top Shop
Liberty of London
Paperchase
Zara
Mango
Boden


We'll spend 4 days there and then 4 days in another one of our favorite cities:  Paris!!!  We're taking the chunnel under the ocean (still sounds so unreal to me!) and since we know a little more about this city, we have some definite to-do's, but we'll also enjoy some down time for picnics in the park and wandering the streets and getting lost.


Considering John has been gone traveling 6 out of the last 13 weeks for work, it's an understatement when I say I'm SUPER excited to have him all to myself for 9 whole days!!  And because he's been traveling so dang much, he had a bunch of free upgrades, so we get to fly first class round-trip!  I still have to pinch myself when I say that...I think John is more excited about this part of the trip because he knows how amazing it will be for me to fly WITH A BED across the Atlantic!  He does it all the time for work, but it'll be my first time!  Wow!  I don't think it'll hit me until I'm able to lay down when I'm sleepy!  Trust me, this won't be a regular occurrence, so I'll live it up and love it while I can :)  My parents are taking care of our bitsy boy and I know he's going to have a BLAST with them...always does!

Thanks for letting me share my excitement with you :)  If you are in London or Paris and have suggestions (or have been to either city yourself), I'd love any recommendations!  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,...8!!!


Last week, John and I celebrated 8 years of marriage together!  I love to see the years adding up and realize how much we've accomplished together as a team.  The past year was full of happiness/craziness/exhaustion/new experiences and adventures together/ and he's the only one with whom I'd ever want to experience it all.

I woke up to the sweetest letter from him...I treasure his words.  We've written each other letters since we started dating and I was living abroad in Spain.  We spent the morning as a family exploring and reminiscing at the University of Washington campus where we met.  And that night, some good friends watched the mister so we could go on a date to one of our favorite Indian food restaurants.  In a few days, we're leaving on a trip for 9 days to a city I've always dreamt of going to (more on that coming up) and I can hardly contain my excitement!!!  It's pretty wonderful being married to my very best friend who makes me feel so loved...he really does make my dreams come true.  I hope you all have someone in your life who makes you feel just as special...'cause ya'll deserve it!!!




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A video and a gift just for you!





Happy First Day of Spring 2012!!!  I'm thrilled to be saying those words :)

I've finished the 3rd and final version of my watercolor painting 'Faith' and thought it would be a very fitting day to share it with you...especially since Spring reminds me of fresh flowers, tulips and daffodils specifically.  Thanks for all of your wonderful feedback!!  It helped me look at the painting as an outsider and make a few tweaks here and there.  The final outcome is a good combination of the first two drafts.  This little cutie is now listed in my shop :)  And being the first day of Spring, I thought that warranted a SALE!  

So if you've had your eye on something, use coupon code 'Spring2012' and receive 25% off your entire purchase now through March 27th, 2012.   

I'm sure there are some following this blog that aren't as interested in watercolors, so feel free to skip this post.  As for me, I love seeing the art process.  Something about watching a painting come to life is so cool to me :)  In the past, I have thought 'It'd be nice to use digital media (ie. Photoshop or Illustrator) to digitally color my images because it would make the process so much faster and less messy.  No clean up, no supplies, nothing to transport when I travel except my computer, etc. etc.'...but I realized that I love the process of painting!  Mixing the colors, holding the brush, adding layers and creating patterns...it just feels so natural and authentic to me. 

Annnnnnyway, I attempted to make a video of this final version and stayed up way too late doing it.  My camera stopped recording halfway through because there was no space left on the drive and my hand is partially blocking the view, haha, oops!!  But for my first attempt at recording my painting process, I'm happy with how it turned out.  There will definitely be more videos in the future now that I (sort of) know how to do it :)

I hope you all have a gorgeous first day of Spring...and if it's rainy (or snowy) where you are, you can always paint some flowers indoors to brighten your day up!  

  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Piglets Over Paris

Growing up with a Parisian grandmother is a gift that I know I'll always treasure.  When she married my grandfather, they moved to the USA and she hardly spoke any English.  Over the years, she perfected her grammar, but always had a strong accent (which I became pretty good at impersonating) :)  On visits to her house as a child, I would wake up early in the morning to the sound of her speaking to her sisters in Paris on the telephone (in French of course).  I always wanted to know what they were talking about...something very top secret I'm sure...like gardening and grandkids and new recipes.  All of my grandparents have passed away including my French grandmother, and I hold the memories that I made with each one of them so close to my heart.  I miss them all.

A trip to France last year with my husband got me thinking...a lot!

I mean, first of all (in my humble opinion), what isn't dreamy and inspiring about Paris?!



Around every cobblestone corner you'll find charming buildings dating back decades, cozy cafes that serve the richest hot chocolate, beautiful parks and fountains, shops with the cutest displays in the windows, art museums filled with original paintings by Monet, Degas, and Van Gogh...my list could go on and on...but I'll spare you :) 



When we returned home and I was looking through my photos, an idea struck:
'I want to write a story with characters inspired by my grandparents.'



Thus, my first story came into focus:  Piglets Over Paris

I've been working on the storyline and coming up with character sketches and scenarios.  It's been fun bouncing ideas around with my family.  Why piglets, you ask?  Why not :)  They're cute, have loads of personality, and they are fun to draw wearing clothes!  And the title is pretty catchy too :)  

I always think it's fun to peek into artist's studios and see sketches/ideas/rough drafts before the final piece is complete.  It's a book in progress that I don't intend on rushing because it's been fun to work on little by little alongside of my other projects.  I want to get it just right for my grand'mere :)  Oh, and mom, if you're reading this, I'm already coming up with sketches for grandma and grandpa's story!  There will definitely be pumpkins involved :)  

I'm curious...have your grandparents inspired your life?  Feel free to share if you'd like!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

There is beauty all around/ No. 1

I'm starting a new series here on this little blog 'o mine.
Sometimes my life feels quite ordinary and routine...days fade into weeks and before I know it, another month has come and gone.  I can hardly believe we are already halfway through March!!

Finding beauty in the 'everyday' is something I'm focusing on...it really is all around us, ready to inspire us!  I've also found that I have more gratitude in my heart for the routine of it all because I know it will change before I realize that it's happening...reminds me of this quote:
'Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.'
C.S. Lewis

Life lately...
1) Enjoying the twinkle lights late at night in my cozy little studio
2) Finally organizing some of my materials so I can find them more efficiently
3) Making elaborate train villages with my sidekick while it pours 5-gallon buckets of rain outside
4) My one and only plant that I've somehow managed to keep alive for a year?!  Unheard of :)

What's inspiring your day to day routine?  It's a nice way to look at life...just sayin'.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Art/Style: I need your opinion please!!

 Happy Happy Monday everyone!

I wanted to share one of the many new illustrations I've been working on and ask for your help!

I'm trying out a few different techniques to see which one I like the most.

In the past, I've used Micron pens to outline my drawings.  Lately, I've been outlining with different types of pencils because I like the shading I can add...it gives the illustration some depth and dimension.  

I've included 2 different versions and I would really appreciate your input:

Do you prefer:  
#1 with pencil outline 

OR

#2 without dark pencil outline (this is actually outlined in colored pencil).

If you could leave a quick comment with your preferred choice of 1 or 2 (and why, if you have time), it would mean so much to me !  I tend to lean toward #1 myself.

This is the first illustration in a series of 3:  FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE.
As a little girl, I had a vintage trio of these 3 words on my wall...it's safe to say that they inspired me :)

Wouldn't this 'Faith' print look cute in a room with this color scheme?  

All my sketches are complete and now I'm working on the watercolors when my munchkin is napping or in bed for the night.  In the next few days, I'll share some more progress with you.

Thank you my sweet friends for your help!