Stories

The Inner Critic and my Spirit Horses

Hello beautiful souls, How are you all doing? Spring is starting to show up around here. I adore all the sweet pink buds and daffodils! While the flowers have been blooming, I've been busy in the studio filming for my new class - Spirit Horse.

Let me tell you - these Spirit Horse are teaching me so much! I'm creating this class to give others the courage to create large Horse art and  WOW - I've found that my own courage is being challenged!!

My inner-critic has been on overdrive! I can hear her sniping at me - awful words and thoughts about myself. She's a real pain and while I usually can keep her at bay, she jumped me a couple of days ago and I felt like a complete failure. Yeah...she's not the most accurate voice in my head but she can be the loudest!

I decided I needed to drown her out and blast some music (Sia) and just draw like a crazy lady. Fast, (using the wrong hand half the time) and attack the page with charcoal and water! 15 drawings later...something emerged...something beautiful...something loving, something powerful!

The next three drawings flowed out of me. I cried the entire time (mostly out of relief and joy).

These beautiful Spirit horses arrived with such an overwhelming energy of love. It completely blew me away. I hardly knew what was happening.

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Once we can silence that inner critic our creative muse comes out to play. I am so grateful she didn't move out entirely!!

I encourage you to do this if you find yourself paralyzed by fear and self doubt it your art! Move your body! Dance! Sing! And then approach the easel with an open and gentle heart. See what emerges as your inner critic starts to quiet.

Share your art with me! I would love to see it! You can post on my Facebook page!

Much love to you all!

xo,

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ArtWorthy 2016 - behind the scenes!

Hi there! How are you doing? I am feeling quite refreshed, since I just got the lovely opportunity to get away for a few days with my dear friend, Trina Lee! We stepped away from our sweet families to work on our program for our sold out, upcoming art and healing retreat -  ArtWorthy 2016!

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It was a completely inspiring experience and I got to learn more about what it is to be an art teacher and creative guide! Not only did we wallpaper the  place with post-it notes as we organized our thoughts but we also worked through stubborn, creative and emotional blocks that we each were holding.

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Utilizing both Trina's expertise with EFT and my creative mojo, we managed to not only honestly face our Inner Critic but we also encountered our own creative intuition. By allowing the two to co-exist through the act of creating art, we moved swiftly through the fear and self-doubt and found ourselves happily immersed in the moment.

Trina emerged with beautiful, sweet owls...her spirit animal for sure! (She even got up early one morning and added that baby owl while I was still sleeping!!) This from the girl who says - "I don't paint!" ;)

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Some really fun and interesting art came out of this trip for me too! I got to capture my creepy inner critic...yeah...don't ask...let's just say that she's a royal pain in the a** and she stems from crippling experiences in my childhood. We all have a bit of her in us...even if we don't want to say so. She sounds like this for me "What are you doing?" "You know you are going to fail right?" "You are not strong enough to do that!" "Wow...you are really stupid!" ugh...yeah...

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However, after getting out that icky stuff, these loving spirit horses visited me and I painted them quickly and passionately with a feeling of unconditional self love - something I rarely (if ever) experience. It rocked me to my core! Primitive as they may be, they came from a place deep inside that lovingly accepts every single cell of who I am. Wowsers...what was going on? Meanwhile, Trina was bouncing around painting with joy! Some serious ArtWorthy magic was happening! spirit horses

Finally we tackled a quick, expressive and intuitive self-portrait that was aimed to reflect our essence and worthiness over realism. A reflection of ourselves without limiting beliefs! So yeah - I'm looking pretty happy, relaxed and uber confident with my birds and feathers. ;)

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Can you tell I only brought 5 paint colors!!? HA! I didn't think we were actually going to paint!

All in all, I was completely blown away by our experience planning for ArtWorthy. It was work- sure - but it gave back to us two-fold. Now, feeling more prepared and even more inspired, I can't wait to share the lessons, meditations, EFT sessions and more with our amazing ArtWorthy guests. Feeling so filled with gratitude!

Much love to you all!

xo,

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Eating Lean & Green Cookbook

Hi there lovely people, Okay, so I'm continuing my theme this week of celebrating the women around me and all the amazing things they are accomplishing!

Today, I wanted you to meet my dear friend, Katie Marreel! You know the friend that is just good at whatever she does...yeah that's Katie! Creative, brilliant, kind, caring - you know that good to the core kinda person - well, Katie pretty much rocks and I feel super lucky to have had her in my life as a close friend and one of my best brain storming buddies!! Nothing better than another entrepreneurial girl to keep you going! So check this out...

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She has just launched her first cookbook and I couldn't be more proud! Woo!!!

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I have witnessed her toil lovingly over this project for a looong time but the finished product is beyond gorgeous!! Go to her website to check out this beautifully written and photographed (by Katie herself) cookbook. Chock full of delicious, healthy recipes!

So you can get to know her a little better, I decided a little impromptu interview was in order! Just like her book, she's bursting with great information and healthy tips for busy families and health minded individuals alike!

Okay here goes....So Katie.....

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What is your personal relationship like with food and fitness? (hint hint…tell us about your story. ;)

My story begins nearly 60 lbs. and 15 years ago with a quest to transform my body into something healthier. The first several years brought many new diets and exercise programs, some of which failed, and others that made their own small contribution to weight loss. Nothing, however, came close to achieving the ultimate goal.  Then I discovered the Medifast 5 & 1 Meal Plan© through Take Shape for Life©. With guidance from my physician, I followed the program and experienced radical results. I lost weight beyond my expectations and built an entirely new relationship with food. Six years later, I’m still maintaining a goal weight. Eating Lean & Green has become a way of life.

My relationship with food and fitness is always changing and growing. There are so many ideas from experts in the field, I find that I am always studying and learning as much as I can. 

When it comes to food, I have learned to think about it as fuel to power my body, and I find deep satisfaction in eating things that are nutritious.  Old emotional eating habits, using food as a reward and a comfort, continue to fade away as new healthier habits take over.  There is no reward sweeter than the satisfaction of having made the right choices!

Fitness is something I have always been passionate about, and I am dedicated to keeping it a regular part of life. I like to change it up and try new things. From yoga and strength training to running and tennis, I’m always keeping my body moving.  Although it can be exhausting in the moment, I know that it does so many healing and restorative things for our bodies. It’s worth every drop of sweat.

What was your inspiration in creating this cookbook?

As a person who has struggled with weight for most of my life, my inspiration comes from a deeply-rooted desire to help others on the same journey.  I am passionate about sharing healthy and nutritious meals that are also incredibly satisfying and delicious.  Losing weight doesn’t have to taste bad!

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What are your top three tips for incorporating healthy eating into your everyday family life?

#1:  Plan, plan, plan. It may not be the most fun task, but getting familiar with the nutritional value of your food and making a daily plan is the best thing you can to reach your goals.  I write down all the foods I plan to eat each day before I go to bed. If I’m going out to a restaurant, I will check out the menu online ahead of time and know ahead of time what I am going to order.

#2:  Don’t force it. Learning to be selective with your own foods while offering a few options for others will go a long way to getting them excited about being healthful. Forcing food choices on others will only drive them away from healthy eating.  Not everyone in my house eats on such a restrictive plan as I do, especially the kids who need more carbohydrates. The core of every dinner I cook is a healthy lean and green meal, but I will often serve a starch like beans or grains on the side to make it more satisfying for them. 

#3:  Make a daily habit. Whether you choose to read a book or magazine, listen to a podcast , or go online, spending an hour of time each day thinking about health and nutrition will make a big difference in your ability to incorporate healthy eating into your everyday life.  It will keep you focused and give you a better knowledge base to make wise decisions.

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What changes have you seen within your life and your families by implementing these healthy practices?

One noteworthy change has been in my own sense of identity and being comfortable with my body. Losing weight and maintaining it has brought a great deal of self-confidence and has opened the door to trying lots of new and exciting things in life that I might have been intimidated by otherwise.

The most exciting thing to see is the effect on people around me.  By living out a healthy lifestyle, I get to be an example for others who have a similar goal, but may have lost hope or gotten frustrated in the process.  My conversation often falls into the topics of health and nutrition because it’s something I get really excited about. I love getting to share new ideas about food that show people being healthful can also taste incredibly delicious. It’s a win win!

She's inspiring right? Katie is so passionate about helping others live a healthier life!

Now don't be shy...you can visit her at her website or Facebook too! Go say hi! ;)

Thanks for chatting with us Katie! You go girl!

xo,

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Mixed Media Workshop - Success!

Hello friends! I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the holiday season! I gotta tell you my heart has been bursting with joy since teaching my Mixed Media Workshop this past weekend!

Oh. My. Goodness! I couldn't even have wished for a better outcome! All my nerves quickly melted away as I met each beautiful student - 7 shining, bright, amazing women! What a group! Plus, my co-hostess, Katie was SO awesome! She handled all the food, drink and goodies so I could focus on teaching Art! Total bliss!

Instead of rambling on and on, I'll just share some of the photos...

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I wanted to make sure every detail was thought of! It was a labor of LOVE and worth every second.

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My living room was gutted and turned into a festive classroom! What a truly rewarding experience to get the opportunity to teach what I am so passionate about. We used collage, encaustics, acrylic paint, pastels, ink, oil pastels and more! It was a serious Mixed Media Party!!

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The work that came out of these extraordinary women was mind blowing and so gorgeous! We worked on a smaller piece that was more focused on landscapes and then finished the day with a portrait project.

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That night we went out to dinner and continued the bonding. Artist, Jenny Wentworth came into town to join us too! What fun! I was beaming with joy and couldn't stop smiling!

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The weekend ended with an Open Studio session on Sunday morning back at my place.

Oh and this sweet video brought me to tears of joy. Thanks guys!

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This experience has deeply changed me. I challenged myself to do something that terrified me and conquered it! Woo! What a fabulous feeling! On top of that, I made authentic, magical connections to new artistic friends. Plus, I think I have finally found my calling. Teaching felt exhilarating, inspiring and just so darn right! I am so incredibly grateful. Thank you to all who participated! I can't wait till the next one!

xo,

Ivy

 

Hawaii

Hi my friends! Oh my goodness, I have been neglecting my blog but for good reason...Summer has begun and we've been busy with a new schedule and some travel too! Let's catch up a bit... In early June, we had the amazing opportunity to travel to Hawaii and stay at the Four Seasons in Kona. I had to pinch myself!

the gorgeous view from our room!

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It was through Chris' work and while he was busy in meetings, I got to play around the pool and beach with the other wives. Let's just say Mai-tai's at the swim up bar before lunch became a daily ritual! I know that is a tad early...but really they are mostly juice...and rum. Ah. Forget it. Anyways...

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Oh, did I mention that we left the kiddos at home with my parents? Yeah. It was kinda awesome. I missed the girls, of course but to have time away at such a dreamy place was sublime.

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I have to share this little adventure with you -

We had the first couple of days to ourselves so Chris thought it would be fun to rent a canoe and paddle around the ocean. I agreed - imagining myself reclined and sunning while he did the rowing! :) Well...let me tell you...I was in for a surprise!

We unknowingly rented a Hawaiian racing canoe! Think super long, skinny boat with two tiny seats, and outrigger on one side. Looks like it will tip over and dump you into the ocean if you look at it the wrong way. We must have looked confused because a burly Hawaiian guy approached us and inquired about our reservation. We gave him our last name. He nods, introduces himself and then proceeds to explain the training he is going to put us through before we can take the canoe out alone.

Training?! What the ----?? Ok. Let's do this - I told myself, trying to muster up my courage. It was when, in his long speech about operating the canoe, that he said "simulate a flip" that my heart start to beat.

"Wait...simulate a flip?" I asked, trying not to sound terrified.

"Yeah...it's no biggie. We will get you out to about 150 ft. depth and then we will lean to one side and flip the canoe over." He shrugged.

I stared at him. No biggie? I hadn't even planned on getting wet during this "relaxing" canoe trip. Plus, I couldn't even remember the last time I actually swam. Wading into the shallow end during a kid pool party probably doesn't count.

"Yeah...he continued, and then I'm gonna have you pull yourself up on the capsized canoe and pull it over so it's right side up again. It's easy!" says the guy who is all muscle, complete with a sinuous dragon tattoo meandering the slopes of his bulging arms.

I continued to stare. I'm pretty sure my mouth was open.

Chris laughed a little and squeezed my hand.

I chose to watch from the safety of the beach as the trainer and Chris went out first. They made it look easy...of course. The canoe sliced through the water as they timed their rowing.

As they hauled the canoe back to the beach, I could feel myself mentally sliding backward. I didn't HAVE to do this. I could say no but then somehow, I managed to push past my fear and cheerfully grabbed an oar. I was gonna do this!

I gotta admit, once on the canoe, and adjusting to the rowing, I found myself enjoying it! The water was beautiful. Infinite shades of sapphire, turquoise and teal. One or two sea turtles swam just beneath the surface, their sweet faces popping up out of the water as we glided by. As the ocean got darker and darker, I could feel my hands start to shake. I knew we were closer to the dreaded "flip"!

Finally, our kind instructor announced, "Okay, Ivette time to flip this thing over!"

My body tensed up as I gazed into the seemingly endless blue depths. I decided this was not a good time to ask about sharks...

"Just lean to opposite side of the outrigger and we will flip over. Then swim back up to the boat, pull your upper body on the canoe and reach with your hand to pull it over. You can do it!"

"Okay...."

Boom. Within a millisecond of leaning we were in the drink. I came up, sea water up my nose. Mascara running down my face. I must have been a sight. Somehow, my brain told my legs to kick and my swimming skills returned. Not sure if I was terrified or super annoyed, I swam back to that damn canoe, hauled myself up on it and flipped it right over! Yeah! It felt good!

Now, I just had to get back on the stupid thing. Kicking like a maniac (I probably looked like a dying sea mammal - basically a shark magnet) I finally pulled my lanky self back into the seat. The trainer glanced back at me to get a read on my mental state. I managed a smile and we headed back.

Chris and I took the canoe out together and enjoyed a "paddle". We did quite well, till I turned back to him and asked "Hey do I still have mascara all over my...."

I had turned around the WRONG way and dumped us both in the sea. Damn it!

At the end of our little adventure, I was proud of conquering my fear and trying something VERY outside my comfort zone. Would I do it again? Probably wouldn't be on my top 10 but I'm glad we did it. I found I was stronger, braver and more determined that I thought I was. Discovering that made it all worth it.

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Have you ever done something out of your comfort zone only to discover something about yourself? Would love to hear about it!

xo,

Ivy

P.S. I have also been working on some new art pieces...more on that later this week. :)

Life after the Art Retreat

Hi lovely people. How's life treating you? With lots of love, I hope. I've been playing catch up since I got back from my wonderful Art Retreat. It was a pretty rough re-entry into reality after four days of blissful art-making, learning, laughing and connecting with beautiful, inspiring artists! I arrived home to a sick Claire bear and a rather exhausted hubby. Poor Chris!

Claire had conjunctivitis in both eyes and a nasty head cold. I scooped her up in my arms and went straight into mommy/nurse mode. Thinking that she would recover quickly was a big mistake. Her eyes cleared in a few days but the cold turned into viral infection with fever for 5 days and then ear infections! Sigh. BIG UNHAPPY FACE. My typical schedule went right in the trash and all that anticipation to keep creating art came to a screeching halt. It was a tough week...and then I got sick too...ugh!

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I'm happy to report that she is all better now! Smiling and laughing (and having melt downs) like her usual self. I am still on the mend but excited to get creating again. I even started a new e-course, that I am loving!

So...I know... you are wondering...how was the Retreat?

One word - Divine.

Katie and I left on Thursday morning to drive up to Bainbridge Island, WA. The weather was a perfect 75 and sunny. Couldn't ask for a better day for a road trip. With my car loaded up with art supplies, we made the 3 1/2 hour journey with Starbucks stops and a lovely lunch in Olympia sprinkled in.

We arrived at our rental condo for the weekend. The actual retreat was at the Wacky Nut Farm but since we were the only locals attending, we snapped up this place which is just five minutes down the road. Totally gorgeous and highly recommended! This was our view...

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That night shot was fun to capture! I set my camera up on the ledge of the balcony and did a long exposure! Very cool to experiment with...you must give it a try!

Anyway, once we got settled in we went over to the farm to meet up with the ladies. I was so nervous and excited to actually meet Jeanne and Stephanie in person! We were greeted by our ever gracious and lovely host, Serena and as we met the other women and the teachers I felt my shoulders drop and my butterflies disappear.  The retreat unfolded beautifully. The women were warm and open. The teachers were inspiring and genuine. And the art making was truly blissful. I'll stop ranting and let the images tell the story...

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So happy to have had this experience with Katie!

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Our morning view! Not too shabby!

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The gorgeous Wacky Nut Farm.

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Nature walk with the girls.

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Bainbridge Island is gorgeous!

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Beautiful creations by my classmates.

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This was a collaborative piece! It was a true exercise in trust that Stephanie walked us through. Giving up control of your art and having faith that each student would add beauty to it was challenging but it was a seriously moving and emotional creative experience! It was amazing to have each woman make their mark on this piece. I love that it has been touched by them all.

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The wonderful Jeanne Oliver teaching our class.

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A mixed media piece I created on wood panel with collage, acrylic paint and wax.

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This little piece was a plastered piece of wood which I then collaged, painted and coated in wax.

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Another piece I created in Jeanne's class. A mixed media piece on wood with collage, acrylic paint and wax.

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The whole gang gathered for a Mexican fiesta at Serena's beautiful home for our last night together!

I will never forget these amazing women and I hope to see them in the future. Truly beautiful souls!

This retreat truly affected me and will be a powerful memory always. I hope to go on more art adventures in the future!

Thank you to all the ladies for being so kind, genuine and inspiring. Thank you to our fantastic teachers for pushing us, lifting our spirits and feeding the flame of our creativity and a BIG thank you to our host, Serena for being so incredibly warm, putting us all at ease and taking such good care of us. Your hard work, love and connection to us all was deeply felt and appreciated.

Okay sorry for the looooong post...but that was a lot to catch you up on.

xo,

Ivy

 

 

Dear Me...

Hi friends! Oooh baby it's cold outside! At least for us Portlanders. I am actually loving the crystal clear sunshine and frost laden mornings. It's like the very air shimmers with ice. So magical. I am praying for some snow! Thank you all for your beautiful, kind and thought provoking comments you left on my last post. I deeply appreciate you sharing.

Yesterday and today, I have chosen to put my household chores aside and focus on my art. Every time I do this, I am amazed at the incredibly comforting and joyous feelings it brings. I light my favorite candle, put on Pandora and just let myself escape into my creativity.

Today, was very introspective. I am still completing my Brené Brown homework - one exercise was to find photos of ourselves at different times in our lives and then write a message to "that" girl with the knowledge you have now. I chose my wedding day.

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What would you write to yourself now, looking back on those times when you were about to embark on a new journey? So young. So naive. Clueless. Unaware of all the challenges and joys that lay ahead. Blind to the outcomes.

I found this quite emotional and also very healing. It made my appreciate the trials I have been through. It made me glad for the hard days. The pain. The failures. The wrong thinking. It made me have gratitude for the wisdom I've gained and for the baggage that was sloughed off as I tumbled through my twenties, like a pebble in the tide. It was powerful to stand solidly on the shore and look back on those turbulent waters of my past.

Try this with a picture of yourself. It doesn't have to be an art project - just go for it. See what comes up. Be gentle with yourself. This exercise is meant to promote self-compassion so don't go yelling at yourself in a picture at some frat party, drunk or scold yourself for wearing that God awful outfit from the 80's or for not losing the baby fat. :) Write to yourself with love, with empathy, with kindness. Give yourself a mental hug. "That" girl in your picture probably really needed it.

xo,

Ivy

P.S. For those of you who wanted to take the Brené Brown class but thought they had missed it - they are repeating the first part so you can still sign up! I just signed up for Part 2! ;)

Wandering...

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Hello there. I hope all is well in your world. Right now, mine is a little messy. Literally and figuratively. I just finished the Brené Brown course and absolutely loved it. It has truly been life changing and has been stirring up all sorts of emotions. Old energy is shedding but self-doubt has been trying to rain on my parade...as usual.

With all the flux, I've been cleaning out areas of my home that no longer serve me. One of those neglected areas was my laundry room cabinets. They were stocked with all my supplies for creating skin care products... (my obsession 3 years ago). As I gathered up the countless little vials of essential oils, dried herbs and tubs of concoctions, I found myself crying. I stopped for a minute to check in with my mind and see what all the fuss was about.

Ahh...I was berating myself. For failing. For being flaky. For investing all this money and time into something I gave up on. For being stupid. Unfocused. Confused. Wasteful. ugh. Brené referres to these moments as "shame storms". This was a category 3.

Then I remembered the last week of the Brené lessons - letting go of certainty. I was reminded that it's okay to wander, get lost and not know which way to turn. Even in those moments we are whole. I had not failed. I had just wandered. I had needed to do that, at that time and it has led me to where I am today. So what if Grace & Ivy began as a skin care hobby!? It ended up launching my blog, helping me rediscover my love of writing, leading me to a new passion for vintage and ultimately, reunited me with my first, true love - ART.

Was it a linear, logical journey? Nope...but that's not really how I roll anyway. Is it over? Have I got it all figured out? Hell no! But that's okay.

So, please, let me remind you dear friends, that if you are feeling a bit lost or are wandering. Fear not. Know that it is part of your own journey. We are not supposed to have all the answers. Life doesn't come with a compass or a map. Use your heart as your guide and believe that even in your most vulnerable place - you are right where you need to be. Trust yourself and never compare your path to someone else's. Like a snowflake, each one is unique.

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Sending you all love.

xo,

Ivy

Art Night

Hello! How's it going? Hope all is well in your world. My family enjoyed Halloween and now we are on the fast track to Christmas. This time of year always seems to zip by doesn't it? Many months ago, I imagined myself hosting an art night. A small gathering. Maybe 6-8 women, around my dining table, all creating. The idea both thrilled and terrified me. I talked about it with several friends and received gentle encouragement to do it. So finally, it happened. A couple of weeks ago, I sent out invites and began the planning of what this night would look like. I wanted to provide lots of fun art supplies, an inspiring atmosphere, delicious snacks and wine, of course!

My formal dining room is rarely used so it was a delight to move right in and create a playful, creative space! Stringing up bits of colorful ribbon in my crystal chandelier gave the room a whimsical feel!

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I covered up the table in brown craft paper and draped the dining chairs in vintage bed sheets that I found at Goodwill.

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To provide a little more structure for those that wanted it, I set up a still life in the center of the table.

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and spread out inspiring art books...

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Each lovely lady got a journal with their initial on it and a pencil as a little gift from me. I love having lots of pretty journals around to jot down thoughts and ideas.

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A colorful, vintage tray and a bouquet of vibrant flowers in the corner created a sweet little wine bar. The guests each brought a bottle of something to share.

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Once the table was set, it was time for me to pull out all my art supplies and display them for my guests! The ART BAR was born!

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Then came the food! My dear friend Katie is an amazing cook and she volunteered to do all the food for the evening! LOVE HER! She did an incredible job...creating a 98% gluten-free spread of delectable dishes! (I apologize for the dark quality of the pictures...my low-light photography skills need work!)

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This creamy brie, drizzled with a warm brown sugar, butter and walnut sauce was a huge hit!

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These gluten-free cookies and pumpkin cake were completely addictive too!

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As the night began and my guests mingled and delighted in all the gorgeous food, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach begin to settle.

Once everyone had a plate of food and a glass of wine, the ladies took their seats and I spoke (rambled) about the intention of the night and why I had wanted to do this. My heart-felt desire was to bring women together, to connect, share, grow, create and maybe even try something new. Art can really freak grown-ups out and I want to start breaking that down. I believe art is for everyone and that it is NOT about the product but the process. I believe Art can be healing, transformative and teach us a lot about ourselves. I believe that creating is something we are hard-wired to do.

After I briefly explained the different art supplies, the ladies bravely got straight to it. I was so worried that someone would become overwhelmed and shut down but nope, these girls boldly experimented and began creating! I was honored to look up from my place and be surrounded by these women who were all willing to be vulnerable with me and get outside their box.

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There were several moments that night when the room fell silent. At a dinner party...that could be a disaster but at an art night...it was magical. Everyone was in their zone; concentrating, relaxing and centered in their creation. Loved that!

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All in all, it was a wonderful night! I can't wait to do it again! Next time, I would like to guide everyone through a specific collage/mixed media project! I truly learned a lot about myself by doing this. I was scared but sharing my passion with others was so worth all the nerves. Thank you to my incredibly gracious guests for being so open and supportive of me. And of course a HUGE thank you to Katie for all the outstanding treats!

I highly recommend trying this out with your friends, family and neighbors. Gather up all those art supplies, share and explore your creativity!

xo,

Ivy

A Creative Weekend away...

Hello there! How is life treating you this week? Besides a pesky summer cold, I'm doing quite well and I'm so thankful that last weekend I got to get away with a dear friend for a creative retreat! We stayed at the sweetest cottage in the quaint Oregon beach town of Manzanita. Here are some shots via my Instagram... Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 4.01.53 PM

This cottage doesn't get any cuter right? It is the perfect place for a beach getaway.

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The vintage kitchen is adorable with layered personal touches and unique collections.

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Mornings (sans kids) were blissfully quiet and peaceful - sipping coffee, reading magazines and writing in my journal. Here is Katie enjoying a fav cooking mag.

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After we had substantial amounts of coffee we would move outside into the "garage" which is really an amazing outbuilding that my friend Candace converted into a charming dining hall. Strung with lights and adorned with artwork, old wine bottles and other beautiful objects it feels like a beachy treasure trove. The energy in this space is fantastic and you can tell many wonderful evenings have been spent at the long farmhouse table. We were immediately inspired.

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It didn't take long for us to spread out and get right into a creative zone...

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After a little bit of art journaling and playing with my watercolors...

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I began a small mixed media piece...

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Almost done...Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 10.43.35 AM

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And finished! Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 10.43.48 AM

It was an amazing weekend and I was sad to leave. As much as I missed my family, having some precious time to focus on art was such a gift. Katie and I agreed to do it again soon! Thank you, Candace for letting us stay at your magical home!

Do you have a favorite place to get away and create?

xo,

Ivy

Grin & Bear it.

Hi there! How is your week going so far? We are getting so much sun here in Portland that I'm a bit giddy! It's a little bizarre but I'll take it! Maybe it's the extra Vitamin D but even my dreams have been stranger than usual. You see, I have recurring dreams with a bear in it. Yup. A big ole' grizzly bear that I always see on the outskirts of a forest. He is always tromping through the trees on two feet appearing rather ferocious. He never actually gets me or even gets very close but the dream is alarming and always stays with me all day. This last time, I woke up from the dream and this thought entered my mind - "The bear represents change."  It hit me like a bolt and thinking back I realized that I have my "bear dream" when lots of change is entering my life. All of a sudden both the changes and the bear seemed less frightening.  I decided to look up what a bear stands for in dreams and found that actually the bear can symbolize being brave, facing the world alone and encourages independence and strength in motherhood. Be the Mama Bear. Okay. I can do that.

To remind me of this, I just bought this print from Corella Designs on Etsy. The wonderful artist is Donna McKenizie. I love this big bear and I love that what at first seemed scary is now making me stronger.

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Here are some more of her gorgeous illustrations.

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Do you connect with a special animal or see one in your dreams? Maybe it's trying to tell you something...

Have a wonderful Tuesday.

xo,

Ivy

Home again

Hi dear readers! Yes, I am home from beautiful Sydney and I'm still trying to take it all in. It is always a bit surreal when one day you are in another country and the next you are in your own bed. Always trips me out a bit. We actually got home a week ago but my family stayed on to celebrate Grace's 7th birthday...so...this is my first chance to sit down and post. I have dozens of photos and I promise not to unload them all at once but I thought today I would just share some of my favorite Instagram shots from the first day of our adventure.

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We landed at 6:07 am. Bright and early!  After enduring all the fuss of customs and luggage wrangling, we jumped into a cab and headed to the Four Seasons Hotel. Even though I was exhausted, my heart was beating fast with excitement! I was actually here. The view from our room brought me to tears. Of joy.

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Like good little travelers, we resisted the urge to stay in our room and sleep and instead went for a brisk walk in The Rocks district, discovered a sweet cafe, downed a few coffees and a tasty breakfast.

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The feeling of being back in Sydney was rather indescribable. Surreal, bizarre, overwhelming, exhilarating. I was overcome with gratitude that somehow, in a matter of a few days, my dream of returning to my birth city had been actualized. I was in Sydney, with my beloved husband, staying at a beautiful hotel and only hours away from seeing my childhood friends. To quote my dear Aussie friend Jo - "I was completely spun out!"

After a very short nap, we got up showered and felt somewhat human again. We had to seriously rally because we were off to the Opera Bar for sunset drinks with my mates!

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The Opera bar was swarming with people, all taking in the gorgeous view, the warm sun and of course the lovely drinks. I scanned the hundreds of people looking for familiar faces. The butterflies in my stomach raged and my trembling hands were doing their best to steady a glass of white wine. I was nervous and excited at the same time. What would it be like to see these girls after 19 years!?

Just when I thought that perhaps we arrived before them, two hands fell on my shoulders and spun me around. In front of me was two of my girls. Claire and Natalie. We screeched, laughed and embraced in one hysterical mess. I'm sure we looked crazy but we didn't care. Before I knew it, another two friends arrived with bottles of bubbles, warm hugs and endless giggles. While the champagne flowed, we caught up with one another like no time had passed at all.

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The night unfolded beautifully! We ended up at a sushi place where we were joined by another friend. Chris celebrated his birthday there - the actual day had been lost in time when we crossed the date line!

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After that we meandered the Rocks, linking arms, sharing stories old and new and laughing about high school memories. My heart was flooded with happiness.  It felt good to be home.

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Okay more to come - I will break it up a bit so I don't bore you to tears - I promise.

What have you been up to while I was away? Anyone else travel or start a new Spring project? Do tell.

xo,

Ivy

Weekend away: Oregon wine country

Hi there! How's it going? Okay, so I promised I would be back with some pics from our little weekend getaway. I have to admit that my big camera was left in the hotel room because I am so addicted to Instagram. It was fun to capture the moments in a spontaneous (and easy) way with my phone! We stayed in the historic town of McMinnville at the 3rd Street Flats. They are beautifully decorated, European style flats full of gorgeous decor, charm and local art. The complimentary bottle of wine and chocolates didn't hurt either. Love this place and would stay again! We could walk to all the restaurants, bars, cafes, tasting rooms and shops!

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That first night we ate at the beautiful and romantic La Rambla! Spanish Tapas and fancy cocktails. Yes, please.

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Now don't laugh but the whole point of this trip was, yes, to be romantic and go wine tasting but it was to also work on the re-design of my blog. I rarely ever get Chris' undivided attention (and talent) so I took advantage of the situation and we parked at the Cornerstone cafe to geek out together and actually get some things accomplished! Grace & Ivy will be new and improved very soon! ;)

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After a little hard work, we had to go play and taste some wine so we packed up our laptops, hopped in the car and ended up in the tiny town of Carlton.

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We stopped into two places we had never tried before. Absolutely loved the French style Burgundy wines at Scott Paul!

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And a ten sample (yes ten!) wine flight with chocolates was a delight at Seven of Hearts!

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That night we got all dolled up and dined at Thistle. I LOVED this place. Intimate, delicious, charming with a totally vintage vibe. I was right at home.

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What a wonderful treat to get away with Chris! It felt amazing to recharge, re-connect and get inspired.  Thank you to my fabulous brother and his beautiful fiancée for taking our kids for the entire weekend!

If you haven't gotten away with your partner lately...try and plan something. It is so worth it!

xo,

Ivy

Birthday Girl

Hello there! I know...long time no post...sorry. It's been a whirlwind with Grace's birthday and then Easter. Busy but fun with lots of phototaking! I have too many photos to process....but in the meantime I wanted to share a few shots from her little "Princess" party...

more to come...

Hope all is well with you!

xo,

Tea for Two

Last week, I picked Grace up from school at noon so we could go have lunch together. She begged me to take her back to the "magical tea house"...also known as the Lady Di's Tea Room. How could I say no to that? Of course, my camera joined us...

Oh so serious...not for long...

the most lovely sweet potato soup and cheddar and tomato sandwiches...yum! Cheese on toast for Grace...

Sweet primroses blooming outside the window next to our table...

for dessert a plate of the most delicious English shortbread! It went fast...I almost missed a photo op!

Sitting there with her, watching the rain outside and nibbling our sandwiches, I couldn't help but wonder if we were making a memory that would stay with her. I hoped so. My mom used to take me out for lunches like this, just the two of us and I always felt so special. I had her undivided attention and she smiled and listened to all my stories patiently. If I can make Grace feel that same love, that same importance...then perhaps, one day, she will do the same for her child. When I so often feel that I'm not doing enough for her...it felt good to see the happiness in her eyes and hear the excitement in her voice.

A good Mom day.

xo,

Tulips, tulips everywhere

This past weekend we woke to sunlight streaming into our bedroom. Grace had actually slept in and we felt fresh and rested. I popped out of bed and announced that we were going to head for the Tulip Farm! It's Tulip Fest season and every single year we forget about it. With my new passion for photography and a sweet daughter who adores flowers, it was the perfect year to attend...

It was a gorgeous flower filled day! When I asked Grace what her favorite part was....

The pony ride, of course!!

xo,

Friday Escape: Maldives

Okay so are you ready for your Friday Escape? I am! Thank you so much to those of you who left suggestions. I really appreciate it. I made a list and we will be visiting all the lovely locations you recommended. Today, thanks to one of my fabulous readers, Hera, we are going to the Maldives!

This gorgeous Island Nation is in the Indian ocean about 250 miles south-west of India. Amazing crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and decadent resorts...it's a little slice of paradise. Let's go!

I know...it doesn't look real. I've only seen this kind of beach as a screen saver!  This must be where they get those shots!

We are staying at the Alila Villas Hadahaa resort. The resort is located on one of the tropical islands in the North Huvadhoo Atol. It's reputation is stellar and many celebrities have stayed here...so it should be perfect for us.

Luxury - check. Amazing - check. Could never afford it in real life - check.

That's it up ahead...see the little villas that are built right over the ocean! I booked us in one of those...of course. Only the best for my Friday escape travelers.

Welcome to the resort...wanna go see our Aqua Villa....

Isn't it beautiful? Let's go inside...

Yeah... this should be just fine. Follow me and I'll show you where I will be spending most of my time...

So fabulous right? The colors of the water are so stunning! Who's making cocktails? Oh heck, I'll just have some brought over to us.

So what do you think? A couple of hours on the deck then we can hit the beach, a sunset soak at the spa followed by a massage then we will hit the bar and restaurant for dinner...sound like a plan?

The two restaurants at the resort, Battuta and Relish serve up Maldivian and Moroccan inspired cuisine. Yum! I love trying new dishes. Want recipes? Go here or here.

I ordered this delectable Moroccan chicken and chickpea dish with spicy avocado! Recipe.

That was delicious! Let's stroll back to our villa. I am totally ready to fall asleep, listening to the waves...

Wow look at those stars. This place is magical. Okay...lets see take a vote...raise your hand if you never want to leave!

Hope you enjoyed this little jaunt to the Maldives. Pretty amazing place huh? Thanks for coming along.

I hope you have a perfect weekend.

xo,

Images via here and here.

Teacup & Tulips

Last week, I had the pleasure of having tea with a lovely mom from Grace's school. This was no ordinary experience. She took Grace and I to a real (as real as it gets in my town) British tea house. We sat in a sweet little tea room. The walls were lined with a tea-cup collection (of course) and pictures of Princess Diana held center court over the tiny fireplace mantel. We were served by a darling older woman, who looked right at home and we ate fresh scones with jam and butter. The main course was cucumber finger sandwiches and cream of asparagus soup. Desert was an array of tiny tarts, slivers of cake and other delicacies. It was perfectly delightful!

Grace sat next to her little friend and they happily munched on cheese toast and sipped orange soda from their dainty tea cups. It was too cute.

If you are wondering where my photos are....well they didn't turn out. I was so excited, I couldn't focus on picture-taking and my little camera couldn't handle the low light. I promise I will go back and take some soon with my big camera!

Since then I've been completely obsessed with finding the perfect tea-cup. I went on the hunt with my friend, Amy and finally I found one. I love her...here she is...

Isn't she pretty? Paired with gorgeous, blush colored tulips she is looking fit for a princess...or just me.

xo,

Travel Visions

Hi there. Well...unfortunately, I don't have a Friday Escape for you today. My little Grace is home sick with an ear infection so my attention needs to be on her. But...I didn't want to leave you with nothing, so I'm sharing some of the beautiful travel images I've collected for my Pinterest Travel board.

A majestic landscape in Val di Funes, Italy.

The gorgeous city of Prague.

Colorful hot air balloon over Paris.

Simply charming tea houses in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

Last but certainly not least, my beautiful home town, Sydney, Australia.

Hope you enjoy these. I want to hear from you - where would you like us to explore on our Friday Escapes? Any ideas? I'm making a list.

Hope you have a beautiful weekend!

xo,

 

Snow day

If you've been reading my blog, you know that we have had many false predictions of snow this winter...much to my disappointment. But today, we finally got the white stuff! We woke up to a winter wonderland and I quickly got dressed and ran outside with Grace to take pictures...

Grace was reluctant to model for me, but for the bribe of two Hershey kisses she did a fabulous job!

Hope you are having a beautiful day where you are too! Snow or not.

xo,