Thursday, March 31, 2011

Surprise, you've got mail!

I got a lovely little package in the mail today!  Some new Joel Dewberry fabric to play with... I'm in love!! His Aviary collection is so fresh, and is everything I love about Spring.  It's been awhile since I spent the entire day sewing, and this fabric is just the excuse to jump back in the pool.  I'm still determined to open the PeachHoneyPreemie in July, so I need to get crackin!

The hard part, at least for me, about being introduced to a new fabric designer is that my "have to have it" brain is now dying to buy everything is the collection.  Remember my shopping addiction?  How can you not love everything?

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

This weekend is going to be filled with family and food, and I need it!!  Hope all of you have a blessed weekend!

Making it mine, not hers...

I'm deep in the thick of Scoutie Girl's Website Kickstart eCourse.  I'm making the switch to WordPress, which is exciting, but I'm definitely lamenting over learning a new skill.  Coding, IP addresses, and plugins are definitely not my thing.

Have you ever struggled to learn a new skill?  What did you do to cope?

I'm building my website, and including only the bits and pieces I want.  It's so hard making it mine, not hers.  I'm scanning through my favorite websites, and looking at what keeps me there (I'm greedy, so it's usually eBooks).  I don't want to imitate anyone, but it's extremely difficult to make that final decision and answer the question, "What do you want?"  

Then, Tara asks us the question... "What is the ONE thing you want your visitors to DO?"  I never thought of asking myself that before.  I just put content in the sidebar that I thought should be there, in no particular order.  I didn't make things mine, just picked what was offered.  I didn't change the colors, or the shape, or open photoshop to try to create something new.  Why not?  It's mine, and it's a reflection of me and my business.  So, I'm finally looking within to figure out what I want.  

Shouldn't we all know what we want, and do our best to obtain it?  What do you want?

My new toy, the light diffuser...

I got a new toy.  I was so impressed with the pictures Lindsey took at the Bloggy Boot Camp last week, with her big fancy light apparatus (a light diffuser, for those of you more technically inclined)... I had to get me one.  Yes, the grammatically correct portion of this post is officially over.

I couldn't afford this one, or this one, so I decided to go with this one, the Gary Fong Puffer - Pop-Up Flash Diffuser.  The training wheel version of photography supplies.  

Photo Credit

Yes, I need training wheels because it has taken me 27 years to realize I'm an impulse buyer, where money is a very small factor in my decision making.  Please help.  I'm in need of a 12 step program, but I'm getting better, and this is proof.  I bought this little muffin for $12 on Amazon.  Can you say, "Score?"

Ok, so let's put it to work.  Hanky Stanky was a willing participant... well, up until the end.  I know it's very slight, but when you use the diffuser you get rid of that hotspot of light happening on Hank's chest and the carpet below him.  The light is uniform across the entire picture.  I know... you can't stop swooning over that sweet little face.

Ok, let's look at some more pics and talk a little bit about editing "diffused" pictures.

The first thing to notice about these two hydrangea pictures, is the uniform brightness the diffuser gives.  The picture taken without the diffuser has deep shadows in between the petals, and a sharp shadow around the bottom of the flowers.  The diffused picture has a shadow, but it's softened, and doesn't stand out... the flowers are the focal point, as they should be.

The other bonus to using the diffuser is you can lighten the entire picture, without the fear of over exposure.  When I began to increase the exposure of the non-diffused picture, I could only go so far before I began to "blow-out" portions of the petals.  You can only make your whites so bright, before your picture is full of data gaps... absent space.  I had much more control over the diffused picture... I could tweak my levels exactly how I wanted.  I love having control. 

Well, folks... that's all I have for now.  Just a short review from a couple hours practice.  I like what I've seen, so far, but I'm sure I'll be ready to ditch the training wheels and spring for the upgrade in the coming months.  I just can't help myself.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two days in bed...

If I have ever said I wanted to spend a couple days in bed doing nothing... I lied!!  I have an eye infection which has left me in bed, eyes closed, with a cold compress for two days.  I should still have my eyes closed, but I have decided to turn down the brightness on the computer (same with the TV), and power through.  But I can tell this will be a short post because as I type tears are streaming down my face.

Time for a break.

Ok, I'm back.  I stupidly fell asleep with my contacts still in... I could have torn out my eyes when I woke up the next morning in excruciating pain.  It was Sunday, so there was nothing I could do, but wait until Monday with the eye clinic opened.  I spent Sunday in bed, and after my appointment on Monday, I spent the rest of the day listening to the TV, in pain, but bored to tears... literally.

Thankfully, I have a doting husband, who tended to my every need.  He cooked for me, heated my tea every 30min, put foil on the windows to block out any hint of light, and even brought the dog in to "give mommy kisses."

Time for another break.

The worst part is that after the two weeks of rain, it's been gorgeous the last couple days, and I've been stuck in darkness.  Ahhhhh!!!  The other bad part... I've missed you guys!!!

So, I finally got some fabric samples in the mail.  No, they weren't from any of the out-of-date companies from my fashiondex, but from my 3 hour Google search, I was forced to partake in at 1am one sleepless night.  I'm still waiting for two more packages, but they're very very promising.  The fabrics are soft and gorgeous, and perfect for screenprinting.  More good stuff to come... it's good to be back!   

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cravings: Prismacolor NuPastels

This video is my justification for going art supply shopping.  Every now and then I find something I can't believe I lived without.  At first, I wasn't too impressed with the Nupastels, but continued to work with them and found just what I was looking for.  A new watercolor!!  Check out the video below!

NuPastel Flesh Colors

Links from this video (in no particular order)

This video was not sponsored by any brands mentioned.  If you ever have any questions about the products I use, or talk about, please don't hesitate to email me. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be the first to view my videos (they usually are posted on the channel a couple days before the blog post is published). Thanks for watching!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It Rains in California...

Photo Credit

It's storming outside.  Wind, rain and lightening have all shown up for the party.  For those of you who think it never rains in California... you're so wrong.  We even had hail for about 5 minutes last night... not so bueno for my radish seedlings I just transplanted outside.  I had a few broken leaves this morning, and my asparagus ferns were swaying violently against it's trellis.  The first day of spring was a week ago, and it hasn't stopped raining.  I've been pulling weeds in between periods of storming.  Yes, I've been squishing through the mud, taking full advantage of the forgiving wet soil. 

Hank's favorite pastime is sunbathing, so he's not a happy puppy.  He spent most of the morning staring out the window into the rainy abyss, and now he's taken to moping in the corner.  It's a rough life when you're stuck inside.  

I, unfortunately, have to return to work today.  I must make the 45 minute drive to work, amongst the bad drivers and horrible conditions.  My husband is off of work today, and I am longing to take a nap with him and the dog.  Instead I'm cooking for the week, and finishing up laundry.  *sigh*

Rain, rain, please go away.

Hardware Store Inspiration

I finally got my fashiondex in the mail today!  I spent the first 2 hours of my days combing through the pages, and sending emails to prospective fabric companies.  There were a lot... A LOT!  There were emails out of date, closed companies, and most of them advertised products they didn't really carry.  I have only received 1 email, out of 30, that said they carried baby rib fabric.  A little discouraging.  A lot frustrating.  What does a girl have to do to get what she wants?  The search continues.

To lighten my mood, I went on a search for some inspiration.  I've been obsessed with patterns, lately.  I'm thinking of doing some baby room art to go along with the preemie clothing line.  Pale colors, simple designs.  Something sweet with a modern twist.  Good idea?

Anyway, Leslie and Sharilyn gave me the geometric buzz.  It's a good buzz to have.  

Journal and Photo by Leslie

Pattern by Sharilyn

I know this may seem odd, but I went to my dad's Plumbing Wholesale company in search of some new shapes.  I hit the motherload!!  My father and his brother own Thrifty Supply Co Inc (I wish they had a website because I would link to it).  The business was started by my grandfather, Ron, when his sons were very young, and has flourished over the years.

The warehouse has aisles and aisles of pipe fittings, tubing, nuts, bolts... and lots of things that are completely foreign to me.  I asked my dad if he could help me find some interesting patterns among the boxes of plumping goodies, and of course he got right to it.  He knows where everything is!  The place is the size of Disneyland... I don't know how he does it.  I'm not going to lie... I got lost.  As soon as I thought our shopping trip was done, he would say, "Wait, I have one more thing."  I sparked a little creativity today.  It feels good.

I got some great stuff!  I have no idea what anything is, I just know they have equally spaced perfect circles and squares.  It doesn't take much to make me happy.  Excuse me as I drool.  Ooooh.... pretty.  

My loot
Where do you find unsuspecting inspiration?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Playing with NuPastels...

I'm playing today.  I'm taking a break from marketing, emails, Facebook, and my to do list to just play.  It feels good to ignore my responsibilities every now and again.  Let me rephrase that... it feels good to focus on my artistic side, instead of my business side.  Better?

It's been awhile since I taped a cravings, and it's been even longer since I tried out a new product.   The NuPastels have been sitting on my drafting table for the last month, ever since I taped this Haul.  Yes, it's been that long.  I broke out the tortillons, mineral spirits, and my new brushes and dug right in.

I played around with my pencil.  Sketched lightly, without hesitation.  I didn't worry about how far apart my eyes were because there were none.  I had only one focus.  Experiment.  It didn't have to be perfect, just practice.  

Want to learn more about the NuPastels?  I'm getting down and dirty on Friday with a new video.

White blooms...

My hubby and I took a trip to Trader Joe's yesterday.  As soon as you walk through the door you're greeted by buckets of fresh flowers.  I can't resist, even though Joseph whispers in my ear, "We don't need any more flowers."  Of course we do.  The blooms is the upstairs bathroom are turning brown, so it's time to restock.  I want the hubby to have a relaxing experience while taking care of business, even though he's fine with Golf Digest.

Hydrangea's are my all-time favorite flower.  Big, fluffy, white clouds of happiness.  I'm praying my trees take off in the backyard, so my shady areas will give way to fruitful bushes full of these lovelies.  

What flowers makes you swoon?

Monday, March 21, 2011

A List Compilation from Bloggy Boot Camp

Brandi and Me... more pics here

5 things Tiffany taught me... 
1. Successful women can support each other... we don't need to live up to the stereotype of being catty and competitive.
2. Be original!
3. There's room for everyone on the web.
4. Take your business seriously, or else no one will.
5. Your time = $

5 Things Brandi and I have in common:
1. We keep chapstick by our bedsides, for the middle of the night applications.
2. We take off our wedding rings before going to bed.
3. We are not morning people, and can't engage in conversation before 9am and/or two cups of coffee.
4. We love chai tea lattes.
5. We over pack, and then regret it later.

How to make a flight more enjoyable... brought to you by our flight attendant, Todd
1. Greet every single customer with a smile.
2. Sing Happy Birthday to unsuspecting passengers.
3. Have toys available for kids on board.
4. While passing out complimentary pretzels, call them "eggs and bacon" "turkey and chesse" and "waffles".
5. Sing a song to celebrate our hour long flight.
... I love when people go the extra mile to make people feel great.

my new peeps

Some of the awesome people I met at Bloggy Boot Camp
Brandi of meDesigns
Stephanie of Rock Star Mom
Lindsey of the modchik
Celeste of shallowOcity
Anna of ABDPBT
Tricia and Siana of 2 Girls on a Bench
Kelly of Joggermom

SITS San Diego Bloggy Boot Camp

I'm back home from my SITS Girls Bloggy Boot Camp in San Diego.  Brandi and I had a blast!  We were surrounded by positive and supportive women.  We asked for each other's business cards, shared resources, and offered suggestions.  We tweeted, retweeted, laughed, and even cried.

Brandi and  Me

You know I couldn't have a vacation without a little drama.

After the first presentation I realized I forgot my business cards in my suitcase.  So,  I ran, yes ran, back to the room to grab them.  Did I mention it was a quarter mile?  On my run back to the conference it started to rain.  Perfect.  While trying to take off my sweater to cover my hair (let's face it, no one wants to see what happens to my hair in the rain), I dropped my business cards all over the wet ground.  I looked up to the heavens, and asked, "Why?"

The awesomeness that followed is why.  I'm glad I asked.

My favorite part of the day was sitting and talking with DeNae, an amazing writer and my new hero.  Her presentation had me mesmerized.  During our mingling break, I sat down and asked her, "How do I find my voice?  I'm struggling to find the words to express my constant mind chatter, but finding it even harder to find a voice that is right for the artistic world and my preemie family audience."  She said, "Those are completely different voices, so don't try to make them the same."  So simple.  So powerful.  As an artist I'm loud, sassy, and kinda all over the place.  A a NICU nurse/preemie advocate I'm professional, sometimes stern, but always nurturing and supportive.  Why would I want to force those two voices together?  They need to be separate because their purpose is different.  I don't want to be loud and obnoxious with my NICU families... wrong place, wrong time.  

DeNae & Me (photo by Brandi)

She also said something I was dying to hear.  She said, "You've found your voice.  I can tell."  I could have cried.  I could have wept in front of my new idol.  Ahhhh!!!!  I didn't think I had one, or better yet, I had one buried under fear and hesitation.  I was trying to be someone else.  I was trying to write like other bloggers.  It's so wrong!  I'm not them!!  The purpose for my blog is different, so the voice has to be different.  I don't know why I have such a problem with being myself.  Originality sells.

Tiffany, Fran, and Kat did such an amazing job bringing this group of women together.  Thank you, thank you!!!

Week 15... follow up on my goals.

In Week 4, I outlined my creative goals for 2011... and I had some big goals.  Well, we're in the 3rd month of the new year, so let's check in to see how I'm doing.

1. Design my website... We're starting off on the right foot because the website redesign in well under way.  I've nailed down my color scheme, started to sift through my "must have's" and "I don't wants" on my sidebar, and thanks to Laura, am creating my tabs/pages.  I've been toying with the idea of switching to wordpress, but am a little terrified of the upkeep.  Tara Gentile is offering her Website Kickstart Class again, and because I don't have enough to do... yeah right... I'm really thinking of taking it.  Does anyone have any experience with Wordpress?  Did you like it? Do they have the capability to host your own shop?

Graphic by Tara

2. Finish my first collection by the end of 2011... This goal, unfortunately, has taken a backseat to the preemie clothes, and the commissioned painting I'm working on at the moment.  Poor Claire has been in limbo, sitting on my drafting table, waiting for me to get it together.  Someday soon I hope to have a couple hours to spend with her.

3. Open my PeachHoneyLove Etsy shop by end of Summer 2011... To be honest I'm not sure if this is going to happen.  The PHP clothing line is taking up the bulk on my time, but once the prototypes are complete, and the shop is open, I will have a lot more time to devote to my paintings... I hope.

4. Open my PeachHoneyPreemie Etsy shop by the beginning of Summer 2011... This is definitely happening.  I have about 20 blankets and 10 fitted sheets complete, 8 blanket and 5 sheets pinned, and fabric remnant strips that need to be sewn into ribbons for packaging.  I am still working on the patterns for two more fitted sheet sizes, and I need to print some postcards to include in each order.  We're almost there.... Monday, July 11th is my target date.  Everyone cross your fingers.

5. Finish 5 PeachHoneyPreemie clothing prototypes by the end of 2011...  We are definitely in business.  We have two patterns down, and 3 to go.  I started calling companies for fabric samples, and Sacramento Contractors about producing my line.  No luck yet, but I keep trucking along.  I may have to just bite the bullet and take the trip to San Leandro.

6. Take an encaustic painting class...  Not yet, but I have just learned my local Learning Exchange offers multiple encaustic classes during the year.  Yay for me!!

Painting & Photo by  Judy Wise

7. Start a family... Unfortunately, not yet, but I do have this sweet little muffin to come home to.

Photo by me

8. Sketch more...  also on the back burner.  I wish I could find the time to balance everything that makes my heart go pitter patter.  Do you find it hard to balance everything you're interested in?  How do you manage the chaos? Oh, by the way, Check out Heather's blog!!  Her Sunday Sketches are amazing, and I hope to be half as good with some practice.

Sketch & Photo by Heather

Sketch & Photo by Heather

I think I'm doing pretty good... it's only March, right?  9 more months to go.  Don't forget about my 101 things in 1001 days... Hope to have an update soon.  Have a great week!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Holly's new book, and a weekend in San Diego...

Did you hear Holly Becker released her first book, Decorate?  She's so excited to see the birth of a childhood dream, and it puts all of my craziness into perspective.  The way she talks about this new accomplishment gives me chills because the possibility of that being me, years down the road, is such an amazing thought.  All the current business busy-ness will be worth it later, when my dreams become reality.  You just have to have faith that it will happen... and I do.

Photo by Holly Becker

I'm in the midst of Holly's Blogging Your Way class.  Absolutely A-MA-ZING!  That kick-in-the-butt feeling I got from Kelly's class, has been resurrected in in this class about writing, color, photography, marketing, and all around awesomeness.  I love the web... all these wonderful classes at your fingertips.  So many possibilities.

I got my patterns in the mail!!!  Another heart-pounding step in my journey.  I'm still awaiting my Fashiondex book, and I'm desperately trying to find a sewing contractor in my area.  It's difficult trusting someone else with your dream, and handing over those patterns to a complete stranger is terrifying.  Monica recommended someone in her area, 2 hours from my house, but I would love it if I could find someone closer... I can reduce my carbon footprint, and save a little dinero.

Photo by Me

I'm off to San Diego this weekend for The Bloggy Boot Camp, sponsored by the SITS girls.  In this ever-changing world, it's important to me to continue to grow as a writer, artist, and business woman.  I feel my voice is still hidden under hesitation and fear, so I'm hoping to gain some writing insight.  Have you ever struggled with your writing?  How did your overcome it?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The weeds are taking over no more!

Do you remember when I mentioned Spring Cleaning on Monday's post?  Today was the day it began.  On our only day off this week, my hubby and I went to work on the cluttered and the dirty.  While my husband vacuumed everywhere... the floors, stairs, couches and cushions, dog bed... I went outside to tackle our sea of weeds.  Man, those things really take over!  So lush and green, multiplying in any environment available.  Damn them!  While I struggle to keep what little plants I have alive, these weeds are thriving.   I guess they enjoy the compact nutrition-lacking clay with a side of rocks. *sigh*

I started some seeds under my garage grow-light system.  The radishes are really doing well, and will soon need a permanent home in the veggie beds, but we have a problem... they beds are completely filled with weeds.  Completely.

No, those are not micro greens, herbs or salad mixes... they are weeds, and as you can see they are quite happy.  I don't know how I let them get this out of hand.  I'm lying, I know exactly how... procrastination.  

They even seem to be tunneling through the sides of the beds... sneaky, sneaky.  Soon you won't be able to see the wood at all. 

My herb box has been taken over... 

And now mushrooms have shown up to the party, next to where my orange peppers once flourished.

My asparagus, thankfully, are still hanging on despite the little monsters trying to choke them out.  My strong dependable asparagus. 

The hill behind our retaining wall was supposed to be filled with roses, cacti, and black bark... obviously, that's not true at the moment.

Even my potted cactus plant can't get away... poor thing.

I have to admit, some of the weeds are extremely beautiful.  Variegated leaves, pretty purple flowers, delicate trailing red and green vines.  Bright green, no brown edges in sight.

This little patch of sprout-like greenery caught my eye.  It reminds me of a tiny forest for an elf village, with a blanket of green moss as it's foundation.  I'm living in a fantasy land to ease the pain of having to pull all of these weeds. *sigh*

There's some more good news... my hydrangea plant is coming back, even after it was without water for a couple weeks last summer, when our drip system stopped working.  It summed up enough energy over the winter to come back full force... we're back, baby!!

My strawberries are trailing and flowering.  Those tiny white blooms are peeking out below the cover of leaves.

So what's going on with your garden?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prayers for the fallen...

Photo Credit

Fall seven times, stand up eight
-Japanese proverb

My heart and prayers are with you during this difficult time... stand strong, stand together.

Week 14: Longing for Spring

I'm still waiting for spring.  Craving and dying for spring.  Every day of cloudy and rainy mess is like a knife to my heart.  Shine, sun, please shine!! My rosemary plant is in full bloom outside, the brightly colored purple flowers greet me as I walk by the check the mail.  Good morning, Spring, are you there?

Daylight savings came and went, and now Spring cleaning is just around the corner.  My "Type A" personality loves to purge the unwanted and organize all the other stuff.  
Usually, it's my favorite time of year, but with everything on my plate, this annual event is turning into a huge fiasco.

I have finally started to decorate our house, after a year of living with blank walls and minimalistic furniture.  I need to make this house a home.  Our upstairs guest bathroom has been bare... completely bare.  Nothing but a hand towel and antibacterial soap.  Sick of the nothingness, I took a trip to the our local Home Goods store and stocked up on towels, a shower curtain, a floor rug, and a soap dispenser.  I hung a painting on the wall, and sat a vase full of white lilies on the windowsill.  So much better.  My downstairs guest bathroom needs a redo... with just a small window, and dark brown as the main color, I need a new color scheme to lighten up my life.  Usually when I decorate, I start with a neutral beige and white palette and add a splash of color here and there.  My living room color splash is a rusty orange, the upstairs bathroom is seafoam, and our bedroom olive green.  I'm so drawn to color... bright, pale, rich... they're all welcome.

I got me thinking about the colors that inspire the delicate loveliness of Spring.  Spring and Summer are my time for fresh cut flowers, and while grocery shopping I came across these dainty peach and yellow daisies.  This is my color palette for spring... so delicious and dainty.  Sure to inspire a calm a focused mood all summer long.  What are your spring colors, and where do you find them?

Other news...
I'm glad it was a unanimous decision to combine my two blogs.  This makes my life a whole lot easier.  I have already started the website redesign, now I have to figure out how to implement the finishing touches.  My friend, Laura, had a great post on how to create multiple pages/tabs through blogger... such perfect timing.  Time to grab my cup of coffee and start reading through her posts.  Any one have any other websites on how to customize a blogger layout?

Friday, March 11, 2011

My dreams were in San Francisco...

Photo by me
They were doing a whole lot of construction in San Francisco this week... PANIC!  Thankfully, my husband drove, and I could sit in the passenger seat, sweating and clutching the door handle.  The navigation on my phone kept having to "reroute" due to the endless "no turning" signs, and if it told me to make a u-turn one more time, I swear I would have thrown it out of the window.  I'm always amazed how different the drivers and pedestrians act in the city.  Cab drivers squeezing in between a car and the curb 3 feet away, cutting you off just to make a light... aggressive much?  Thankfully, I don't live in this madness, I would not be as pleasant :)

So I met with Monica this weekend, a pattern/sample maker and owner of Tag Studio.  She has been assigned the huge task of making my dreams come true.  As instructed I bought a preemie onesie (to serve as the middle-of-the-range size... there will, eventually, be a size bigger and a size smaller), and a doll that fits that onesie.  I have a total of 5 designs, but she thought it was best if we stick to the two easiest for the time being because I'm so new to this process.  Poor Monica... I had NO CLUE what this process would entail.  Thankfully, she talked it through with me, step by step, as if I was a third grader.  I could feel my heart violently beating as she handed me my new "honey-do" list.

My lovely husband was so gracious, and sat quietly in the corner with a smile on his face, taking pictures. 

...pinning the preemie pants...

...more pinning...

...schedule check...
Monica called me yesterday to inform me the samples were complete, and that she would mail them this week.  SCREAM!!  My next huge step is to pick my fabric, a MUY IMPORTANTE step according to Monica.  I ordered a Fashiondex book a couple days ago, and will soon start the daunting task of finding the right fabric to use in the line.  This means sending samples to companies, waiting for them to respond, calling, calling, calling.  Not looking forward to this step... 

But everything is happening!!! So excited I could just pee!!

A question for you...
Ok, so I wanted to talk about something else, and I am in desperate need of some advice.  As you know, I have two blogs... this one, and PeachHoneyPreemie.  Man, it is very difficult to balance my time between the two.  I'm torn because I want to offer consistency to both blogs, but it's impossible to keep up with that kind of posting schedule, while starting my business.  I'm adding to my to do lists faster than I can cross things off, and I'm feeling extremely overwhelmed.  Something has to give, so here's my proposal... I want to combine the two blogs under the name PeachHoneyLove.  I want to share my PHP news with my PHL peeps, so I find myself double posting.  It seems a little absurd to me.  What do you think?  Any suggestions?


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