Letting Go

I've always been a bit of a pack rat. I'm super nostalgic, and I find sentimental attachment to all sorts of things. I have lofty aspirations to do creative, crafty things with ticket stubs, cards, letters, other random pieces of paper, drawings, old pictures, funny cutouts from magazines... I wouldn't say I'm a hoarder, because I don't like clutter, either. Things get put away, and on a good day, I'm actually pretty proud of how nice my house looks. But in rearranging and reorganizing my craft room, which was kick started by the amazing mirror I got at Ikea, I have decided that I need to be better about letting go of things. Odds are I'm not going to start a project around a picture I decided to print out eight years ago, so why keep it?

Things are slowly looking better in the craft room! Now I can see all my fabric, and the space is feeling more functional than ever. Eventually I think I want to paint it white, too!

Anyway, while cleaning up my space, especially after hanging the mirror, I was thinking that I want the room to be even more functional. I have a nice big table, and my fabric is all neatly folded (for now), and I have a sketch book I use to try to flesh out my ideas, but I don't have a place to visually put things together, leave them there, add to, change, and then re-do for the next project. Sounds like I need something like a cork board, right? Would you believe that there are already TWO hanging in my craft room? But Kathryn, how do you have two big beautiful bulletin boards that do not help you creatively? Isn't that what bulletin boards are for??

In high school, I bought a cork board, which ended up turning into a sort of scrapbook that hangs on my wall. I liked it so much, and kept acquiring stuff, that I bought a second one (same exact size/type), and did the same thing. Remember that list of things I keep from above? I covered these cork boards with odds and ends like movie tickets, fun pictures with friends, silly jokes, etc. Oh, and Disney pins instead of thumbtacks for the most part. I worked hard to cover nearly every square inch of these boards. I tried my best to create a seemingly random layout, though it took me way longer than true randomness ever would, because I was deliberate about my randomness...

A lot of good memories here 

While I love the work I did on these boards, I realize they don't fit into the aesthetic I want my creative space to have. I've thought about just buying a new cork board, but then I would have to find new places for these to hang, and I don't want them in our living room, kitchen, bedroom, guest bedroom, or any other place in the house, really. So I've come to the conclusion that it's time to press forward. They've served their purpose, and now they move on to their next purpose: helping me cultivate craftiness in my life, being more adaptable, not just permanent fixtures on the wall.

After stripping the boards of their adornments, I painted the frames black, and lined the edges with sparkly black washi tape. The tape doesn't stick to cork super well, so I used flat gold thumbtacks to keep it in place (I used a tape measure to space them as perfectly as possible). I bought some mini black clothespins and hot glued them to some thumbtacks so I could hang up pictures and inspiration without punching holes in them. I thought it was kinda cute. All in all, it was a fairly inexpensive project. I needed 2 rolls of the tape ($3 each), a pack of thumbtacks ($3), acrylic paint (about $2, but I had some already), mini clothespins ($3 for a pack of 20), a paintbrush and a hot glue gun (I already had the last two supplies). I'm pretty happy with how these turned out, and I'm excited for how they might help my creative process!

Yes, I'm creating a deeper meaning from cork boards from high school. I've never been good at letting go of things, and tackling what to some might be a trivial project feels like a good way to show myself that this is ok. That I can rely on memories and pictures (of COURSE I took pictures of these to immortalize my teenage-self's hard work), and that it's ok for life to change and that sometimes we do need to let go in order to grow and flourish.

So here's to letting go of things that don't serve a purpose anymore. Here's to the fond memories created. Here's to new endeavors, and allowing my creative wings to stretch a little bit farther and easier.

Creating a Creative Space

We moved into our house over a year an a half ago, but we are constantly doing (mostly small) things that are making it feel more and more like our personal space. We recently inherited some couches from my parents that make our basement living room much more comfy. We painted a couple rooms (the ones most used). We've hung pictures, acquired a handful of pieces of furniture, and recently got a new ping pong table for our back porch! We even have a wonderful space for our musical instruments.

But, as anyone knows, your living space is always a work in progress. Even if you've lived in the same house for 20 years, there's always something that could use a little rearranging. Because of my blog and my sewing projects (and general narcissism 😜), I've been wanting a full length mirror that doesn't make me look shorter and fatter like a fun-house mirror. Hubby went to Ikea the other day and sent me a picture of the Hovet mirror, which is HUGE! Over 6 feet tall and and 2.5 feet wide, and only $130. Not necessarily "cheap", but for a mirror that size, I'd be looking at several hundred anywhere else. It also has a super minimal frame, which means I can decide to customize it sometime in the future.

So - after some Googling for reviews (I didn't see anything terrible) - I made him buy me the mirror. But now comes the need to reorganize my craft room, because that's definitely where this mirror belongs. My craft room contains a giant table (made from an old door - my hubby is so handy!), a couple sets of shelves which contain books, craft supplies, and other random objects, a desk where I keep my computer, and shadow boxes and pictures hanging on the walls. Oh, and my bunny 🐰

Now that may not sound like much, but it's a small bedroom, which I decided to use for creative projects, and in addition to just being able to see myself full length, I (again, narcissistically) want to be able to take perfect selfies to post here and on social media, which means that whatever else is visible in the mirror needs to look pretty, too. Part of my problem is that I have so much small stuff - I might only have a few pieces of actual furniture, but every single surface, drawer, shelf, and every inch of the closet is full. There's countless balls of yarn, yards and yards of fabric I don't have specific projects for because they're either large scrap pieces or I bought them on a whim, and various other craft supplies, not to mention a box full of cables that I've accumulated over the years from living in this age of technology. Also, our bedroom closet isn't even close to being big enough for both of our wardrobes, so I have completely filled this room's with the overflow of my clothes.

Part of this project will (hopefully) be purging of things I'm hanging onto for silly reasons. Do I actually intend to use those gift boxes that are stacked up in there? Are all of my fabric scraps actually big enough to do cool things with? Are things well organized? Do I have to tear apart the whole room just to find the one piece of fabric or craft supply I've got in mind? Am I actually going to alter the pieces of clothing that are too big for me, or fix the ones that have ripped over the years?

Also, we have another extra "bedroom" right next to my craft room. Perhaps in creating my creative space, Nathaniel and I can also find a great use for that room. Could it be our "library" or "den"? Our shrine to hoarding? Who knows? I do know that right now there are plenty of things in my craft room that have zero to do with crafting, though.

So what are my main goals?

  • I want my space to be organized and as uncluttered as possible. I don't think I'll be doing the whole Marie Kondo thing, but I might take a few tips from her.
  • I want my space to feed my creative soul, not give me anxiety because I can't find anything because it feels too full.
  • I want to feel happy when I enter the room, not a sense of "well, what next?"

Here's hoping I can do this quickly - I think it'll be a weekend project soon. Hopefully I'll be able to bring lots of bags to Goodwill!

Bring it on, 2017!

Like me, you might be hearing a lot of people saying that 2016 sucked. We lost what seems like countless artists, scientists, and icons. A lot of people are scared of what the future holds, and scary news articles are clogging our Facebook feeds. Heck, 2016 gave me my first broken bones and crazy medical bills.

Babies make everything okay 

BUT, because I think it’s good to see the silver lining whenever possible, let’s find some good. No matter what, our lives are going to be filled with ups and downs. If our lives were perfect 100% of the time, we wouldn't grow. So, in honor of a new year, here are a few things that I loved about 2016:

  1. I got to travel a lot, including a bunch of places I’ve never been. Not only did I go to New York and Chicago for the first time, I got to go on my belated honeymoon and spent 3 weeks in Europe. That’s amazing.
  2. I have a new cousin, and I got to visit with him in his first days. And thank goodness for technology, because I get to see pictures of him and his adorable brother all the time.
  3. I went to a few weddings, and several friends got engaged! What’s happier than love??

I used selfies from each country we visited in 2016 for our holiday card, and I love how it turned out!

And then there’s the little things I know I take for granted each day - those mundane things that don’t seem like much, but make me among the luckiest on the planet. I have a house to call my own, there is food in my fridge, I have two sweet furry babies who love me (or at least recognize that I’m the bringer of food), and every day I get to wake up next to the man I love, the guy who makes me smile, the boy who knows how to make me feel special. 2016 was full of tiny, wonderful moments.

We also can’t just expect 2017 to be better purely because it’s a “New Year”. We need to work for our happiness - pursue goals to enrich our lives, and fight for what we believe in. We can't be complacent - we need to donate to organizations we are passionate about (when we have the means), we need to volunteer, and we need to show compassion for those less fortunate than us, and do what we can to show them that they are valued by society, that we want them to succeed.

My favorite crafting project of this holiday season!

2016 was also the year I was the most tired, I think. Maybe that's just part of being an adult, but I know that I don't sleep enough, and I often take on too many projects. But how lucky am I that I'm exhausted because I have so many people in my life I want to share my time with, and so many hobbies/passions that I would rather pursue than sleep?

I also know that more artists and actors and musicians will die in 2017. Unfortunately that’s life. So we need to appreciate it while we can, and celebrate the little things, the big things, and everything in between. Honor the legacy of those we've lost, whether we've known them personally or not. Take pride that you've gotten to live in the same world with them, and never, ever forget them.

Life is sweet (and often bittersweet, and sometimes downright sucky). We can’t forget that.

Three Weeks in Europe - Amsterdam through Food

Going to Amsterdam was an exciting culinary adventure, because I had no idea what to expect - the only “Dutch” food I know of are stroopwafels, and I’d imagine the ones I can find in Boulder aren’t 100% authentic. And while two days there is seriously not enough time to explore Dutch cuisine thoroughly, I sure enjoyed my experience.

The first thing I learned (from my husband - seriously, he knows so much!), was that Indonesian food is a big deal, because of past exploration and trade routes. So our first evening, after a day full of travel from Madrid, we decided to hit an Indonesian restaurant called Aneka Rasa. Here we enjoyed a huge selection of tasters and stuffed our faces way too full. They brought out crackers called “shrimp crisps” with some peanut sauce for dipping as an appetizer, and our meal consisted of peanut chicken skewers, a few different types of meat, vegetables in various sauces, and both white and fried rice, plus fried bananas! And of course some Heineken to drink, since it is their local brew. I would highly recommend this restaurant - they have a delicious, diverse menu and, while it is a bit pricey per person to share the “rice table”, you won’t be left hungry.

After wandering around, walking off our massive, but delicious, dinner, we decided to get some crepes for dessert at Crepes & Waffles. They make the crepes right in front of you - it’s seriously mesmerizing to watch - and there are countless ways to fill them. I opted for nutella and bananas, while Nathaniel got apples and caramel.

The next day, we didn’t need to get food until mid-day, because we were still full from dinner and dessert, so to tide us over until after our visit to Rijksmuseum, we grabbed coffee and stroopwafels from a stand outside the museum called T’ Museumpleintje. Very simple, but it was quick and easy. After the museum, we went to Burgerlijk Burger Bar, where we split a burger with chorizo, goat cheese, fries and truffle aioli and some fries.

For dinner, one of our friends got a recommendation for Lo Sitvale d'Oro, a great Italian place where we enjoyed sage ravioli, spaghetti carbonara, and split a pitcher of wine and a tiramisu for dessert. They often have a guitarist/singer there while you eat, making the authentic Italian vibe all the more enjoyable.

That evening, we were looking for a waffle, and our friend is super sociable and the boys at this waffle shop insisted on making us the most amazing waffle we’ve ever seen. It had literally everything you could imagine on it - marshmallows, M&Ms, and even chocolate truffles! Little did we know that “let us surprise you with something” meant “let us blindside you by making you a 20 Euro waffle, which we won’t make you pay for until after you eat it”. I can't figure out what specific place this was (the locations services on my phone combined with Google Street View have failed me this time), so just a word of warning, you might be charged an exorbitant amount for your waffle if you don’t specify what you want on it. That being said, it was delicious, and we could have easily shared with another person, so if you break it down cost per serving, it’s not as bad…but still.🙄

Because stroopwafels are one of Nathaniel’s favorite things ever, we found a bakery that is known for it’s own. Lanskroon did not disappoint. These were bigger waffles than we’d previously seen, and they were a bit crispier than the others we’d had. The honey filling was super yummy, too.

Just down the street from Lanskroon is Van Stapele, where they have a delicious specialty chocolate cookie with a creamy filling - I’d highly recommend this, too.

After dessert for breakfast, we wandered through a couple street markets our last day there, and one stand in the Albert Cuyp Market had fresh peaches I just couldn’t pass by - the one I picked was perfectly ripe and juicy, and a great treat to eat sitting next to the canals. We also grabbed a burger and fries at Geflipt, a restaurant near the end of the market.

For our last meal, we decided on Indonesian again, since our friend hadn’t experienced it yet - we went to Kantjil & de Tijger, and split a few plates, which was more than enough food, including chicken with peanut sauce, sautéed veggies, and green beans and corn in coconut curry, all with rice on the side. We finished with a Heineken at Morlang, where they have tables right next to the water, before whisking ourselves off to the airport.

And here we are, 6 months later, I’ve finally finished telling the story. My personal journal is still nowhere near done, but the research I did for the blog (to give accurate locations as best I could) has really helped keep it fresh. But a part of me still gets a bit misty-eyed when I think of how much fun I had on my belated honeymoon. This trip reinforced how important traveling is to us. Yes, we love where we live, and having a permanent home is a luxury we probably won’t ever give up, but neither is exploration.