70 Degrees in February on Folly Beach

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This winter hasn’t been quite as harsh as last year’s and for that I am thankful. I do slightly envy the cozy snow days filled with sledding and snowman building my friends and family have been experiencing back in Kentucky, though. But if it isn’t going to be snow, it might as well be warm.

Charleston still experiences chilly temperatures in winter, though, so when its warm, we take advantage of it. Here are a few photos of how we took advantage of 70 degrees in February on Folly Beach.

We searched the rocks for starfish and shells while avoiding the cold waves crashing around us. When the wind turned chilly, we headed to the pier for fish and burgers at Locklear’s Beach City Grill. The service was good, the food was perfect and the prices were reasonable.

It was a much needed day in sandals and sand. The salty air is so good. I recommend you get some soon.

5 Reasons to Buy Fewer, but Better

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Whether its the podcast I listen to, articles I read or something I saw on tv, something keeps popping up. I wouldn’t necessarily call it minimalism, though I think it lends to that concept. I even found Bill and I talking about it during our ‘goals for 2015′ discussion.

What I keep seeing and hearing about is how we as a society have come to buy more than we need and sometimes use the low cost or our “needs” as our excuses as to why its ok. I’m not talking about the amount of money we’re spending rather the number of things we own.

Take our wardrobes, for example. Years and years ago people had a few items for dressing up, a few for casual dress, and–depending on their lifestyle–a few for work. That’s it. They didn’t have closets and dressers full of clothing with a box in the attic for switching out their seasonal attire. Today, if we find a little dress in our favorite fit and color, we buy it. It doesn’t matter if we already have 10 other dresses hanging in our closet. We like it, its on sale, therefore we have to have it.

If you’re like me, you’re cheap and don’t shop often. But, when you do, its from the clearance/sale rack so you can get as much as you can with the amount of money you allotted for the shopping trip. Yes, my clothes are inexpensive and I don’t shop often, but I promise you: my closet and dresser are full. I purge all the time and I’m still not hurting for options. And its not just clothes, its everything in my house. In my kitchen, in my bedroom, bathroom. Makeup, beauty products, kitchen utensils, decor…etc.

But why?! WHY should I buy less stuff if I can afford to have more?

After all this reading and listening, I’ve determined 5 reasons to buy fewer, but better:

  • Lower Price = Lower Quality Obviously I can’t say this is true for every brand/company but in general it is. So, here I am spending $10 on this totally trendy sweater, but how long will it last? If I end up getting rid of it because it shrinks, fades, tears or just isn’t something I wear any more, I’ll end up buying something to put in its place, though maybe not directly. Depending on the cost of the “replacement” piece, the cost of that spot in my wardrobe. Which leads me to my next reason.
  • Higher Price = Higher Quality Once again, this might not be the case with every company. However, if we are willing to spend a little more money  on one piece, we generally get a better quality item. If I had been willing to spend more on a higher quality sweater and forgone the cute skirt that was also on sale, it might not have shrunk, faded, or torn.
  • Working Conditions Have you ever wondered why those products are so much cheaper than others? Lower production costs are driven by lower wages, lower working conditions, and lower material costs (which is lower for the same reasons, just in another industry). For this reason, I suggest researching the companies you purchase from and the countries they operate in. The US has strict laws for working conditions and wages making for a higher quality work experience for the employees. The product costs a little more but its because you are supporting better treatment for the people making your product. Which leads to the next reason.
  • You Support What You Spend Your Money On Have you heard that saying, “if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for nothing?” What are your values? Morals? Priorities? What do you care about and support? Human rights? Better lives for everyone? Raising the US unemployment rate? Do a little research on the company you are thinking about purchasing from. Where do they operate? How do they treat their employees? What are the laws in their operating area? What are their morals and standards? How are the materials they use made and where do they come from? If you are willing to spend your hard earned money on it, are you willing to support the cause/affect of their company? What do you support?
  • Environment I doubt I have time to list all the reasons its better for the environment. Less man-made stuff is almost always better for the environment. Think about where the materials came from, how will they be replaced? If at all? How does the making of the product affect the environment? How far away was the product made? How much gas and pollution went into getting it to the store and to your home?

I know what you’re thinking because I’m still fighting it myself: “But I can’t afford the higher quality. I can’t afford to spend $50 on a casual dress and still have several to choose from. Why should I spend $30 on a shirt for my construction job?” And I imagine this next one is a big hold up for a lot of us,”I’d have to wear the same thing over and over.”

Yes, you would. But if its a dress you love, feel confident in, and it looks amazing on you, why would you not want to wear it over and over? It’ll be clean each time, so its not like you’re wearing dirty clothes. And its higher quality, so how could anyone judge you on your shopping/brand choices?

Do not fret, though. Here are a couple tips to put this philosophy in action:

  • Buy things you absolutely love. The more you love it, the happier you will be wearing/using it often.
  • Buy classic pieces. Whether its for your home or your closet, buy things that will last through the fads and phases of style. You will be less likely to get tired of it and want to replace it because you love it and it continues to fit your personal style.
  • Thrift stores often have good quality items at lower costs. No, you won’t find items you love every time you go, but then again, you won’t be looking to purchase them as often if you are purchasing less, right?
  • Patience. Learning patience and self control are probably the biggest factors here. I know its hard to resist when you find the perfect little basket for the kitchen table on sale. Resist, though. Remember to ask yourself things like ‘do I need this,’ ‘how was this made,’ ‘have I looked around to find something I like even better by a brand I love and trust?
  • Find different ways to use the items you have so you don’t get bored with them. Whether its finding a new place for that decorative bowl, moving the furniture around, or finding a way to restyle a dress, keep it fresh so you don’t itch to replace it as quickly.

We’re in this together. Its a new leaf I’m working to turn over as well. I am by no means preaching at you or telling you how I’ve mastered the philosophy, but how I’m working on making the change. And I’m not saying you’re not allowed to have a full closet or buy that adorable little salt and pepper shaker set you saw on sale at Target. Its ok.

My goal here is to start the conversation and raise the awareness. What are your thoughts on this? Agree? Disagree? Don’t care? I’m interested to hear your opinion.

 

Sketchbook 1.27.15

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Lately, I’ve been making a point to use my watercolor sketchbook more. I kind of slacked off there for a little while, choosing to work on actual illustration pieces instead. My sketchbook has become more of an outlet. I don’t worry about doing my best work or keeping pages clean and able to reuse later. My sketchbook pages have become more messy, experimental, and abstract. A place to play with new lines, techniques, and subject ideas.

This spread was fun and layered. I mixed some of my own colors–something I really enjoy–and didn’t really have a plan. I really like patterns and thought this was a good start for experimenting and trying new things.

You might not use artistic mediums, but I think we should all try new things and take risks in order to grow in our area. Do you have a space you use for experimenting? Is it something you keep to yourself or invite others to share in? What’s your outlet?

Note Cards to Help Share Your Feelings

Valentine’s Day is less than a month away. Are you celebrating or boycotting? I’m a mush, so my husband knows he better be ready to celebrate.

To commemorate the commercially driven holiday, I have some new single note cards to help share your feelings in my Etsy shop. They’re here in time for Valentine’s Day but they won’t be going away anytime soon. This is the first of many single card options for those who don’t want a whole set. You can, of course, purchase as many as you like, though. If you’re interested in a whole set, please contact me for set pricing.

Also on the books for today, I want to thank everyone who has participated in the surveys, so far. So, what are they for exactly? I’m glad you asked. I’m in the process of strategizing and planning the rebranding of my business. Think streamlined everything. You’ll be able to find everything in one place and under one name. Less chaos, more consistency. Its a big job, but I’m excited about it.

Anyway, just wanted to keep you in the loop of things.

Which lovey, dovey, mushy card is your fave? I’m between the Friends inspired lobster card and the compass illustration. I hope Bill doesn’t read this because then he’ll know what I’m getting him. At least he won’t know what kind of sap I fill the inside with, though.

Family Tree Mural

I apologize for the not-so-good photo quality. All pictures were taken with a phone camera.

One Sunday I was approached by the sweet Glenda, with her lovely British accent. I thought she was just coming up to say hello, but it turned into something even more exciting. Glenda told me about her idea of having a family tree mural painted at the top of the stairs in her new home. She wondered if I could help her out.

I accepted the job, but upon walking away I was a mixture of excited and nervous. This was a big job. I’d never painted like this large a scale before. And on someone’s wall! There was so much pressure, it seemed.

All the nerves slipped away once I got there and started painting. It turned into one of my favorite commissioned projects ever. Glenda was so welcoming with her home and appreciative of my work. I was so excited when I received her photo of the mural with frames added.

I look forward to more commissioned work like this.

p.s. This year I’m stepping up my game. This business is a full time gig, now. It is my goal to grow and serve you better. In order to do that, I need to know more about you. Below are links to three short surveys. There are no more than 10 questions on each one. The surveys will not ask for your name, email, or anything that might give away your identity and the information is only for me.

I’m not asking you to do something for nothing. You will receive a gift for each survey you complete. You don’t have to do them all at once but I would benefit most if you do all of them eventually. Thank you so much!

Demographic Survey

General Blog Reading Behavior

How You Engage with My Content

 

Illustrated Baby Shower Invitations

As you know, my illustration style leans toward a more sketchy, imperfect, lighthearted direction. I like loose lines, calligraphy, and pieces with a more hand-drawn feel than a computer designed look. As I work on a custom baby shower invitation, I like to look around at color trends, styles, and layouts to get my brain working. Here are some of my favorite illustrated baby shower invitations.

Kelli Murray

Kelli Murray is an artist based in California. I’ve followed her work for a little while now. The details of her illustrations and watercolors are gorgeous.

Minted

Minted is a really cool site because they feature designs by independent designers and artists from around the world. This particular design is by Phrosne Ras, based in South Africa. I love the rough, sketchy floral design and the overall simplicity of the invitation.

Gramercy Studio

I love the simple color pallet of this typography based invitation. Its so refreshing. The design is simple, soft and personal with its hand-lettered text. This design was featured on the Oh So Beautiful Paper blog and was created by Jessie Jellicorse, based out of North Carolina.

Speaking of baby showers, if I were to ever magically get pregnant, is it appropriate to design your own invitations since you’re not throwing the shower? If not, I’ll settle for one of these lovely designs.

Repurposing a Vanity Mirror

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When we moved into our current town home, the girl we were subleasing from left behind several pieces of furniture. It was perfect for us since we got rid of so much to lighten our moving load. There was a bedroom suite in the master bedroom that left much to be desired. Not just the style but the condition as well. The dresser had a vanity mirror which was laid aside. We just left it, intending to get rid of it when we did the dresser as well.

And then my purging went into overdrive.

In the process of getting the vanity out the mirror got broken. That’s how we ended up repurposing a vanity mirror. I noticed how much the bottom looked like the base of a chalkboard. I mentioned how easy it would be to buy some chalkboard paint and a cork roll to turn this into something new instead of adding it to a waste pile somewhere.

Next thing I knew, Bill had me at the craft store picking up a few items for our DIY repurpose project. It now hangs at the intersection of our kitchen and living room. We use it as a sort of message board. You can find our weekly menu options, inspiration, messages to one another, reminders and anything else someone wants to post up for the family. Since Bill is on second shift, we’ve all taken to leaving notes for each other at the bottom.

The total cost of this project? About $15.

Links I Love

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At the beginning of every year, my family does a 21 day fast. The first year we fasted fast food and the second we fasted meat. This year we are each doing something separate. I gave up my personal Facebook page. The app has been deleted from my phone, but I kept my business page app.

This is day three and I thought this would still be the hardest part. Honestly, though, I feel a sense of freedom and liberation. I have been set free from mindlessly checking my phone constantly. I have been set free from wondering what so-and-so posted and who liked or commented on my on posts. Set free from comparing myself to the productivity and adventure of others. And–lets be honest–set free from silently judging the folly and dirty laundry of others’ posts.  A feeling I really didn’t expect to grasp until later on down the road. We’ll see if that feeling remains in a couple weeks.

The thing I miss most about Facebook is being able to share all the cool, motivational, inspiration I find around the web during my reading and surfing. I still share on Twitter and Instagram, but not all of my same friends are active on those platforms. Which leads me to the point of this post. Today I’m sharing the links I love but can’t share with you on Facebook because it doesn’t exactly match up with my social media strategy and my personal Facebook has taken a hiatus.

  • You’re ready for a vacation. You’re ready to just relax. I get it. But if you only have the chance to get away once or twice a year–or less–make your vacation count. This article, by one of my current favorite bloggers, is about just that.
  • Instead of setting big goals this year, I’m working on setting better daily routines and habits. Speaking of habits, this is a good infographic about the habits of successful people verses the habits of unsuccessful people.
  • I would like to make each month a new challenge this year. A new subject/theme each month for my illustration work, a new habit to work on, an area of my health/fitness I’d like to improve. This month, I’m working on two things in my fitness: the habit/routine of walking/jogging and the challenge to hold plank for five minutes by the end of the month. Next month I would like to do this pushup challenge. That is, unless I don’t reach the five minutes on my plank; in that case I’ll roll the plank challenge over another month.

And there you go. That should keep you busy for a little while, right? How do you feel? Inspired? Motivated? I hope so.

Share one link you loved this past week in the comments. Come on! I want to know!!

Top Five Most Viewed Posts of 2014

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Today I want to do a little 2014 blog review. For my own blog of course. Here are the top five most viewed posts published in 2014:

  1. Folly Beach Wedding
  2. Engagement Photos in Downtown Charleston
  3. Hot Cocoa Valentine’s Day Card (which will be available for purchase soon)
  4. My Top 5 Tips for Budgeting
  5. New Items for Penelopy Paper

So, what you’re telling me is, you like seeing my work, yes? Do me a favor, will you?? Please comment below with two topics you want to see more posts about. Thanks in advance!

Wrapping up 2014

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This week I’m wrapping up 2014. This year has been, well, different. Aren’t they all, though?

This was our first full year (January- December) in Charleston. This was Lilie’s first year going to the same school she went to the year before. This was the first year I worked through the summer (since she started school). This was the first year my husband has worked while I stayed at home (not the whole year). This is the first year I chose to embrace my inner artist.

When I look back at my 2014 goals, I see a lot of details. Too many. I didn’t reach all of my goals, but I’m not really disappointed about it. Some of them weren’t reached because priorities and goals changed. Some of them weren’t reached because I maybe was a little hasty in setting them to begin with.

2014 was not a failure. 2014 was just another year full of change and growth. I can’t even begin to count how many times I have said it on this blog but I feel like I have changed so much in the past year. Is it Charleston? Is it being away from my family and friends? Or would I have still become this person had we never moved away from our cozy Bowling Green townhouse?

Obviously my goals for 2015 will be different. Sort of.  They won’t be so detailed. I thought detailed would be a good thing, and perhaps it is. Don’t tell anyone I said this–especially my husband–but there is a such thing as too many details. At least in this case. I should have saved the details for the planning phase. Instead of putting too many detailed goals, I should have set a few goals and then hashed out the details in how I was going to reach them.

What goals do I feel like I accomplished? I’m confident in saying this year I did better at:

  • keeping a semi-regular devotional time
  • being more careful with my words
  • keeping a regular yoga routine
  • I’m stupid close to being able to hold mermaid pose
  • I am more patient
  • distractions have become less (there are still many, though. self discipline)
  • the car will be paid off at the beginning of February (thanks to our steady budgeting for over a year now)
  • I have gotten much better at not working on my computer when Lilie is around
  • work on living in the moment, not in a screen
  • I definitely drew and painted more

Yep, I would not call that a failure.

I think some people think they either made their goal(s) or they didn’t. Not true. As long as you are at least a little better than you were, that is an accomplishment. And even if you don’t reach your goal, please, please, please do not give up. Take a step back, re-evaluate and get back at it. Notice I didn’t say start over? Pick up where you left off and go for it. In most cases, for the best results its a lifestyle change. Not a temporary task.

What’s your take on 2014?