July 29, 2023

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

Lately, I've had this heavy sense of being unsatisfied with the daily routine.  Don't get me wrong, it's not an unhappiness about life or being ungrateful to the bountiful life I lead with these two:
It's more of a sense of personal unease, that I'm on a hamster wheel of laundry, loading/unloading the dishwasher, bedtime routines, and lack of things to talk about with Chris, other than the kids (total First World problem, but it is one nonetheless).

I know raising children and keeping a home is important work, but the thanklessness of this job, and its occasional accompanying sense of drudgery at times gets the best of me.  And by thanklessness, I don't mean that I want my children to appreciate what I do; I think it's just a contrast to previous work, where you had some notoriety and satisfaction in a job well-done.

I've been struggling with a creative urge that is going unanswered, mostly due to lack of time and space to make something.  Knitting is all well and good, but I'm looking to do something else.  And our kitchen table just doesn't accommodate the kind of artwork that requires time to make, like a quilt or a painting.  Meals, play dough, and even races around the table prevent any serious art from happening.  Or even just a therapeutic blog post like this one.

I took a walk yesterday to clear my head. Exercise helps, of course (tell that to my usual splayed-out-on-the-couch self, after putting the kids to bed.  I strolled the neighborhood, and talked with a former professor, who sympathized with my situation. While I didn't walk away feeling marvelously better, it still got me thinking.  While I try to tap into creativity via many avenues (cooking, coming up with ways to entertain the kids, etc.) I don't devote as much to myself, and I really need to carve some time out for that (duh).

While walking, I also had some weird moments, looking at houses that evoked my childhood.  Something about the style of house, a certain degree of shade from the trees, or even the faint lights coming from the windows awoke a sad, nostalgic longing in me.  I don't usually get like this (the past is past, my parents are no longer those of my childhood, but have a different role now, etc.) but for some reason it really made my heart feel heavy.

I determined that the feeling was more of a longing to be taken care of, to have someone else keep me safe, nourished, warm and in the arms of a happy home.  Of course, I do love to provide these things myself, but every so often it would be nice to have someone else care for me again.  Oh, well, that's life.  We never appreciate what we have now.

And maybe that's the sentiment I need to cling onto.  To be here, now, satisfied even if I'm in need of something more.  Is it even possible?

July 23, 2023

An Ancient Art Form for the Digital Age

I mentioned last week that I've been working on redoing Soren's bedroom--painting the walls, fixing things up a bit.
I decided to go with a global theme, as it is something that is appropriate for a person of any age. Plus I have a lot of items from around the globe that I've collected over the years.  And I must admit that I'm a big fan of maps.  I love looking at them and imagining places that I might visit some day and what life is like for the people who live there.

I hope that having a map in his room encourages my son to have the same kinds of daydreams.  And the huge wallpaper mural from Brewster Home Fashions that I installed next to his bed is quite an invitation to daydream.
This mural is the focal point of my son's bedroom.  Like the murals and wall decorations from ancient times and around the world, a mural makes a statement about its culture, place, and time.  These wall murals can reflect any aesthetic and are applicable to our current culture in their photorealistic and contemporary designs, as well as their ease of installation.
Yep, those stones are faux.
I enjoy cuddling with my son in bed, enjoying looking at the wall mural and talking about the countries on the map, at least the ones I know a little about. Most recently, we talked about Madagascar after having seen a hissing cockroach and lemurs from the island at our local zoo.  I'm sure this mural will support his learning through his school years too.

The wallpaper was easy to install, taking me about an hour to do.  First I cleaned the wall, made sure any bumps were sanded down, and removed the outlet covers.  Then I mixed up the paste, which was included with the 8' 10"x 6' 2" mural.
The wall mural comes in 4 pieces, so you don't have to struggle with one gigantic piece of wallpaper.  On my wall, I marked the center lines of the mural, both the horizontal and vertical ones and used a level to make sure they were straight.
Next I painted the back of each piece, starting with the lower left hand one.
I followed my guide lines to place the section of wallpaper, then smoothed it out with a plastic squeegee-type tool I had from a previous wallpaper project.  It was easy to place on the wall, and I followed suit with the other 3 panels.
It was a little tricky getting the last panel to line up, but that was probably user error.  I may have gotten the paper too wet and stretched it a little too much.  It is off just a bit for my perfectionist eyes, but it still looks great.
I love the colors in this map, especially that they diverge from the typical blues and greens you often see in map wall murals.

There are so many other gorgeous designs at Brewster Home Fashions, including traditional wallpapers and peel-and-stick versions, called Wall Pops.
The photo murals are particularly sophisticated and eye-catching.  Check out this faux barnwood one.
These wallpapers are an easy, elegant way to bring the ancient art of the mural into your own home.
Disclosure: I received a sample product from Brewster Home Furnishings for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

July 19, 2023

Simple Summer Green and Bean Salad

I'm over at a local-to-me blog today sharing a recipe for a gluten-free summer salad that is really easy to make and includes zucchini and cucumbers, which are probably going gangbusters in your garden or farmer's market right now.  Maybe this salad is in the cards for a weekend picnic?
I hope your weekend plans include some yummy food.  Have a good one!

July 17, 2023

Project Bedroom

Clearly, blogging is not a summer thing for me.  What amounts to about a handful of posts since May has not made me happy, though I know that my kids are probably pleased that I've dedicated myself so wholly to them. :)

Most days, we're hanging around the neighborhood, going to the pool after dinner and playing in the yard.  Though this week has been awfully hot, so naturally I decided last weekend to paint Soren's bedroom, which has been on my to-do list all year.
Yep, leave it to me to be bitten by the painting bug on the cusp of the first heatwave of the summer.  Sweat was literally dripping in the paint last Saturday when I began the project (side note: why is it that forecasters cannot predict weather anymore? Our 77 degree, sunny day was nothing of the sort).

Soren's room was long overdue for an overhaul.  It was this odd gray-purple (grurple?) color that I had chosen to coordinate with a bed spread long before the room was meant for children, not guests.
The baseboards were also sorely in need of painting, having been scratched and torn up when we had our floors redone, oh about 5 years ago.

Predictably, it's difficult doing any kind of project when kids are underfoot.  Here was my view for most of the painting with the sample colors (Valspar Perfect Storm and I ???. I can't remember the name of the color underneath it on the same paint chip.  I settled on Perfect Storm anyway).
Surprisingly, I didn't slop paint on the floor, furniture, or kids, unless you count Soren leaning up against the wet wall at some point (not my fault!).

There were tons of holes to fill with spackle, especially the wall where I would be installing a wallpapered map of the world. 
The room is 95% finished, since I had just installed the map yesterday (more to come on that, once I figure out what the heck is wrong with my camera--the auto focus doesn't seem to be cooperating, hence these fuzzy photos).

I'm eager to show you Soren's new room, which has a global theme which I hope will grow with him over the next few years.  I still have quite a few painting projects on my list for the fall, once he's in kindergarten full-time and I have a little less on my plate.  Or a thousand few Legos to avoid stepping on while painting.  Those buggers are everywhere, even when I think they've all been cleaned up.
I hope to post in the next few days the results of my project. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, as is its current resident. Stay tuned!

July 6, 2023

Livin' it Up, Pennsylvania Dutch Style

In our small, folksy town of Kutztown, we are treated to a yearly event--the Kutztown Folk Festival, which is arguably the oldest folk festival of its kind in the country.
For the past 64 years, this event spans a week over the July 4th holiday and features all manner of folk arts and crafts of the Pennsylvania German immigrants who settled this area way back in olden times (a folksy term for a folksy festival).

Having grown up around this culture, I always considered it to be old-fashioned and a little too country for me, however as an adult and one who is artistically-inclined, I'm so enamored of these traditional artforms.
Well, even if they're not presented in the most traditional manner.  I love that the hex sign artisan embraces technology just like the rest of us.
I took Soren to the festival last Sunday (it ends tomorrow, in case you're local and want to go) and we really enjoyed ourselves.  We petted animals,
(these rabbits were utterly adored by Soren. He loved picking clover for them to eat).
and ate treats like soft pretzels and kettle corn.
And were a bit disturbed by the ox roast.
Soren was patient while I looked at all the crafts and spoke with some of the artisans.
 This form of paper cutting art is known as scherenschnitte.  It's so intricate and beautiful.
Below is the traditional redware, in which designs are "scratched" into the clay in a technique called sgraffito.
The Beeswax candle maker
There were a lot of activities to keep kids entertained.
From the simple joy of climbing on hay bales
to puppet shows and a flea circus
to a mural decorated with Pennsylvania Dutch imagery that visitors could paint,
there is something that every kid could enjoy. Even if it's just the ice cream, birch beer and funnel cakes.
We brought a few things home, including a screen-printed tea towel, a slingshot, and some freshly-grated horseradish.  I'm a fan of foods that make you cry.
There is SO much to see and do, so if you are close to Eastern Pennsylvania, definitely make a trip to the Folk Fest.  It ends on Sunday, but will be back next year.
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