Polka Dots: DIY

Alright, this will be a first on this blog. It’s against my better judgement to post DIYs because they seem so out of character for me, but to be honest, I do simple things like this to personalize my space all the time. This is a ten-dollar project that took me half an hour: why wouldn’t I want to share it?

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You can use techniques like this on almost anything, but I’m demonstrating it on a wooden peg rack from AC Moore. I did a very similar project with the same materials over the summer to hold my coats and hoodies, and today, I spruced up a plain peg rack for all my bags.

You will need: a surface to paint on, at least two colors of paint, at least one paintbrush, paper/bottlecaps, possibly scissors. Make sure the paint you’re using is appropriate for your chosen surface.

P11005361. First, cut out small circles (or any shape you like). My mom makes her own cards, so we have convenient punches like this just lying around. As an alternative, I would suggest a bottle cap to paint around–you don’t necessarily even have to have more than one!

P11005372. Place your circles along the surface to get an idea of where you want to paint. Once you’re satisfied with the way it looks, move on to the next step.
P11005383. Remove the circles and paint small splotches where they were. It’s better to paint a bigger area than the actual size of your shape, because you’ll be painting over the excess later.
P11005394. Occupy yourself for fifteen minutes and wait. Once the paint is dry, place the cutouts back where you had them. Make sure they’re not covering plain surface, only the area you painted.
P11005415. Paint over the cutouts in your second color. They should stay put if the paint is still slightly tacky, but you may want to hold them down with your finger while you paint to ensure they don’t move. Paint the remainder of your piece in this manor.P1100542It should look something like this! Carefully peel off the pieces of paper and admire your finished product. When it is completely dry, you may want to cover it with a clear protective coat to ensure the design doesn’t wear off.

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Traveling light: what’s in my bag?

Most women covet mountains of shoes or drawers of jewelry, but not me. I could go shopping and walk past a jeweler or shoe department without feeling obligated to peek in, but when it comes to bags, I’m lost to the world. Patterned backpacks, studded clutches, purses with secret pockets, things that fold over on themselves, bright yellows and daring reds. I can’t help myself. I’m drawn to them. I don’t actually own that many, but I’m certainly not the sort of person who keeps the same purse all year round.

In light of this, I never accumulate much crap in my bags. Receipts get filed away as soon as I get home, lipsticks go back in the makeup bag, my wallet sits in a drawer, garbage gets thrown away. The only thing I keep in every bag is a few dollars and a cough drop. It’s purely a product of my bag obsession, but I always travel light.

I finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and answer the essential fashion blogger question: what’s in my bag?

What's in my bag?Today I went for a coffee run, and my bag looked something like this.

The daily essentials.I carried: a mini Moleskine notebook and pen, a Starbucks gift card, Fresh Inc. tinted lip balm with SPF in Plum, and my phone. And, of course, we can’t forget my adorable studded purse, gifted to me this Christmas by my aunt.

Giving feels better, suddenly.

When I came downstairs to the twinkling Christmas tree this morning, two presents caught my eye: a gigantic, fuzzy beanbag and a sophisticated, shiny red bicycle, both wrapped in festive ribbon in front of the fireplace. I was instantly thrown back to almost ten years ago, when I received similar gifts as a child. The glow of the tree against the dark sky, the faux-velvety texture of the bows, the crinkle of wrapping paper and the smell of bacon cooking in a pan. It’s all so enchantingly familiar. I was a small child again, eyes glittering and full of laughter.

As I sit perched upon my beanbag, which my parents have already dubbed “the nest” due to the apparent bird-like way I’ve been occupying it, I have to reflect about how indescribably lucky I am. Last night I sat down to a feast with my mom’s side of the family, laughing over a warm meal, before exchanging piles of presents. This morning, I woke up to these expensive gifts and more in my own house, before trekking out to the mass at dawn in our beautifully decorated church. We then drove twenty minutes to my aunt’s house, where I helped them make a delicious brunch, and we all cracked up over goofy Christmas trivia and exchanged even more gifts. And in about two hours, I’ll be back on my way to my grandma’s house just down the road from my aunt’s, to enjoy another Christmas feast and yet more piles of presents. I don’t know if, in my youthful ignorance, I’ve never really thought about how much money my relatives spend on me each year, but I am absolutely spoiled rotten.

These merry traditions, this decadent food, and these mountains of material items I don’t really need make my heart ache for the parents who weren’t able to give their children a magical Christmas like I’ve had since birth. The families devastated by natural disaster who don’t have a home, let alone a Christmas tree. The parents who lost their own little angels last week to the gunman at Sandy Hook, some of whom are likely crying today over piles of gifts their child never got to open. I know I can’t end all the suffering in the world, but all this money, all these things are mine now, and someone else needs them more. Some little kid out there has never had a bike before, or a new pair of pajamas. Someone in an underdeveloped country could use my Christmas checks to buy cattle or seed for crops.

I don’t need chocolate, or a mug that looks like a Nikon lens, or a terrarium kit, or a Game of Thrones calendar. And while these things are absolutely nice and tremendously thoughtful, I think I’m going to start asking for donations to charities made in my name next year. I am a spoiled white girl with a surplus of stuff. But I also have a vision of a brighter future, one that I can maybe help shape, one family in need at a time.

Reflections upon my return.

It’s been quite some time, everyone. I haven’t posted since the day before Halloween, and wow, how things have changed.

To be fair, my life is normal as ever, but it’s been such a mental transition that I find it hard to believe only a month and a half has passed. This past week alone shook me to the core and forced me to reevaluate the way I look at life and the choices I make every day.

One of my closest friends attempted suicide this past weekend, and is in hospital care now. You would think, having been suicidal myself in the past and having many friends who are depressed, I would be more prepared for this sort of thing, more able to cope. But my heart near stopped when I heard the news. Even though my friend sounded normal on the phone when I called the hospital, I can feel the cold chill of death floating just around the corner. It was so close, and the thought of it is terrifying.

I know there is nothing I could’ve done to stop the attempt, but I feel I owe it to all my friends to be more present in their lives. To talk on the phone more, to emerge from my reading lair in bed to spend time with them, to make plans and keep them. I had recently spent a lot of time with my friend, doing photoshoots together, getting coffee, just sitting around and talking, and I realized how heartwarming it is to be close to someone like that. And to think that a few days after we had laughed so hard everyone in Starbucks stared, I almost lost that same person… well, it makes me cherish time spent with my loved ones even more.

Although I’ve always prided myself in “cherishing imperfections,” I don’t think I ever really understood that until this past week. My art began to reflect this before I really reflected upon it myself. In my watercolor paintings and my photography projects, I’ve made a point of messing up, and the result has been some of the best art I’ve ever created. The point of many art movements is pointing out that there is no concrete “truth,” at least not one humans will ever be able to capture. Everything changes with perspective and personal experiences. Even our vision and memories are not precisely truthful. Clearly I’ve had this realization on many an occasion before, but it has never hit me so hard as it has this week.

I don’t know what the point of this all is, but especially with the Sandy Hook tragedy (scarcely half an hour from home), my friend’s near suicide, and the impending “apocalypse,” life seems so invaluable and fragile. I guess what I’m saying is that you can’t take anything for granted, nor can you take anything at face value. We’re all just stumbling along through a life that can be extinguished at any moment. As much as that may depress some people, it just gives me another reason to smile. I’m young and foolish and overly optimistic, and I have no idea what’s coming next. But I can certainly appreciate being here.