January 29, 2012

I Painted. I Lost. I Won.

I paint. Or, I used to....whichever way you look at it. Did I ever tell you that I like to paint? I thought I was "good" at it, until I saw some of my past artwork from 9th and 10th grade. I thought, "I thought this stuff was good at one time?" My Mom brought over my Senior year Art Portfolio last week. When I looked through it, I shrugged and said,"Okay, at least I had improved a lot over my high school years." But, seriously, since high school (14 years ago...woah!) I have painted. very. little. The last thing I painted was THESE, um...about 4 years ago.

For the last two years, since Steven and I have lived in Ohio again, we've had the priviledge of seeing my brother-in-law, Pete, have his art displayed at a local art gallery. He's even won awards each year! He is REALLY GOOD!!! And I mean AWESOME! Check out his website HERE!

Each year that I've gone to the award show, I've been excited to be there, and have been genuinely excited and proud of Pete. But, I have been somewhat disappointed in myself for not having submitted anything myself. Well, for not even painting anymore. For not using my God-given abilities (I can sew true, but that's more a learned skill). This year I "put my foot down" and decided....no more regrets, Joy. Just try this time.

And so, 5 days before the art submissions were due, I got out my watercolors again, for the first time in a very long time.

I tell you that every bit of fear hit me like a ton of bricks. "You can't do this. You haven't painted in forever. You probably won't even get in." You name it. I felt it.

But I know what God says. I know what He's put in me...even if it has been buried for awhile. I don't want to regret NOT trying AGAIN this year. And I proceeded on...

I knew exactly what I wanted to paint. This photo I took last year when visiting an ice cream shop in Knoxville, TN was just the one (No, I wasn't there just for the ice cream  : ) ):
I didn't want it to look that "realistic," but I wasn't going for "abstract" either.
And this is how it turned out. For getting my feet wet again, it's "okay". But, looking back at what I used to produce and awards I used to get, I have more potential somewhere inside. It's not my best of course, beacause I haven't taken the time to practice. 

Thursday morning, before I went to turn the piece in, I added some hatch marks with ink. I liked it a little better.  But, my point was to just practice and have something to turn in. And I did just that.
And on Friday, I got the email from the Art Center that my piece was not chosen to enter the competition this year. Most people would be greatly diappointed by this, but I was completely at peace. I didn't expect to get in this year. But if you ask me, I did win. I painted again. I submitted a work of art. I am already doing more art this year than I have in the last 14 years combined! It's incredibly difficult to show others your personal work, for fear of criticism, judgement, or plain rejection. That fear came, and though it took courage to even post this, I want to tell you its a stepping stone for me....in the right direction!
And this is the gallery where all the paintings have been chosen, and are being hung right now in preparation for the award cermemony next week. I'm VERY excited to go! Pete's 3 paintings are down in front (2 on the floor and the abstract one on the wall in front). His are just incredible! And, Lord willing, someday (hopefully in the near future) I may paint as good as not just Pete, but as just Joy.

Here's to a coming year of great art. And maybe I'll just hang my painting in my house as a reminder to keep practicing so I can be more ready for next year!

January 26, 2012

Quick & Easy T-Shirt Necklace Tutorial

Start with an old t-shirt. Make sure the lower half does not have any print or design on it, and one without any side seams. (Note: some pics below may appear a bit grainy, as I had to use a substandard camera at the time...so sorry!)
 Take a pair of scissors and cut strips horizontally, about 1" in width. No need to be precise here, just cut.
 Take each strip in hand and pull from each end till fabric ring stretches out to its fullest/longest. The strip will roll up on itself, and become "tubular" in shape:

Then, compile all of your individual loops into one pile:
I gathered one side together in my hand. With a strip of leather, measuring approximately 12"-18" long, I held the starting end lengthwise, and then started wrapping the leather snugly around the fisted loops:
(Note: You can buy leather at Michaels, Joann Fabrics, or a Tandy store)
 I kept wrapping the leather until I got about 5", or so, from the end:
And when I got to the end, I tucked under my end piece. (Although a little glue gun or E6000 glue would help here as well):
Coil necklace in half, and you are ready to wear it! This blue t-shirt had a tan piece of leather. But, combinations of gray leather on a black t-shirt, or brown on a tan t-shirt would look good as well. Try different combinations!  

 Do you like mine? This idea has become pretty popular on YouTube. Here's a great video tutorial on doing it. There's also other ideas on creating t-shirt necklaces....HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Or, if you don't want your old t-shirts anymore, just pass them along to me and I'll start crafting with them!

January 22, 2012

A Very Monkey First Birthday!

It was a great first celebration of our son turning ONE! Even with all the snow and ice we had here in Ohio, I was so thrilled and blessed that so many family members made it to his party! What a great time we had! And thank you to all my family who came and made it a super special day to remember!!!!
I mean, your only baby turns only ONE, once, right? This time is so priceless!

Another HUGE blessing this day was getting to Skype with Steven/Daddy during the party...all the way from Afghanistan! We sang happy birthday together and Steven watched Nathan have help blowing out his first birthday candles! I'm sure neither of us will ever forget it! (**tears**)

I carried a "monkey" theme throughout the party with my decorations (and so to make it easier, these decorations look very similar to my baby shower decor from last weekend):

And my Dad made a wonderful cake (he's our family "cake boss")! :

And I made some food: 

corn muffins, to go with the chili.
Spinach, Pasta & Almond Salad. Yum.
...recipe from THIS cookbook.

And baked macaroni & cheese. (and pizza, not pictured)

And some "monkey" favors for the kids:
And "monkey" food favors for the adults:
(Twizzlers= monkey vines, Banana Chips= monkey snacks, and
Chocolate Covered Banana pieces= monkey bits)
"Thank you" to Pinterest for your inspiration for this!

And our amazing ONE year old... on deciding how to eat his first piece of birthday cake (hands free):

And some of my favorite people: my family.

(I stenciled a monkey design on Nathan's shirt for his party. Copied the design from HERE)

 And the kids even entertained themselves by creating superhero capes out of tape and tissue paper (this craft was purely all the kids imagination): They all looked like they had a great time too!
And Mommy, with her ONE year old little monkey:

 We are so excited to watch you grow, our precious son! Daddy and Mommy love you so very much! Happy Birthday Nathan!

January 20, 2012

Bathroom Remodel...well, sort of.

This is what my bathroom normally looks like. With peach tile, you do the best you can. I'm getting used to it. But, the flooring was another issue.
 I was a little too anxious to rip up this vinyl tile, so I forgot to take a true "before" picture. But, as you can see....yuck! There had been some leaks, and it had already lived its day with the last tenants who lived here. Angie's shower was coming up soon, and so my main motivation for doing this project was to replace the eye-sore before guests came. Well, that motivation did it's job.
About 9 hours later (over the course of 5 days, during naptimes and late nights), with sticky hands from the vinyl floor adhesive, callouses on my hands from trying to remove the old flooring, and lots and lots of caulk, it was finally finished. And just in time for the party. I finished it the Wednesday before the Saturday party.

And here is my finished project:
And it looks pretty good...on top anyways. The wood underneath tells a different story. Fortunately I married a super handy man, so when he returns home for good from Afghanistan, he said he would tear up the subfloor and lay new wood and new ceramic tiles. Though he was proud of my temporary job, we both know what needs to really be fixed.

But, you, know, that's kind of like life isn't it? We often try to mask over the real problem and try to look good just on the surface, showing others only our "best". But what God really cares about is our heart. Now that's what is important. What does your heart look like today before the true Master Craftsman?

January 16, 2012

A Shower for Angie & baby Hannah

I hosted a party on Saturday for a VERY special friend, who's soon to have her 2nd baby soon. I am SOOOOO excited for her! Baby Hannah will be born anytime between Angie's 3 due dates of:  Jan 26, Feb 3, or March 6th...or well, whenever the Lord says she's ready to come!

What a great time I had getting ready for the party! With the help of both my creative sister and friend, it all came together so well! Thank you Amy & Johanna for all of your help, creative ideas, and decorations! You both inspire me constantly!

Shower Preparations: 1) Making Tissue Pompoms

directions HERE on my Pinterest board for how to make these easily yourself. The paper lanterns were from Beloved Dollar Tree.

2) Creating Personalized Frames to decorate with:

3) Creating  a Paint Chip Banner:

4) Making Paper Cone Favors for the guests:
Johanna covered these awesome clothespins with scrapbook paper, following my tutorial HERE.
She also helped me by designing these darling paper cones to become favors for the guests. Some were filled with candy, and others were filled with a small beauty kit of a nail file, nail polish, and chapstick. We made the cones by our self-made pattern, but HERE is a good tutorial to follow.

5) Creating Flag Banners:

This great idea was from my sister, Amy! It was so simple, lovely, and made a great decorative addition to my semi-plain living room. I used fabric from my already growing stash, cut the triangles, and sewed them on in a quick row on a piece of ribbon. HERE is where Amy recommended the idea from. LOVE it!

6) The Food Tables:

I used 2 white bed sheets to cover the table, with empty boxes underneath to tier certain food items. A huge "thank you" to Amy, who let me borrow her self-made cake stands, & ton of decorations! I also used several wooden toys Nathan already had in his toy arsenal. And, "thank you" to Johanna too, who helped me make some of the delicious food and punch!

7)The Gift Table:

&...  8)The Party. I know...Finally.

The guest(s) of honor:
The guests:
Playing games:
And taking pictures with close friends:
I love you, Angie! It was such a delight to plan, decorate, and host your shower! We are so excited with you to welcome baby Hannah soon!