Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Echo Hill

It had been 13 years since I'd been to Echo Hill Ranch.  Thirteen years since I spent my summers in an un-air-conditioned bunkhouse, filled with girls I'd known my entire life, deep in the Texas hill country. And when I set foot back on the ranch for the 60th anniversary reunion weekend, I was instantly transported back to the way I felt when I was 15 - who I was and who I still am.  The smell and the energy and the heat and the magic are all the same - stuck in time in the most beautiful and authentic way.  And I felt that pressure in my heart creep into my throat and I knew I didn't stand a chance surviving the weekend without acknowledging the completely majestic and overpowering effect that is Echo Hill.  That's right, folks, I made it about 30 seconds back on the ranch before the tears started flowing.

I think I was just overwhelmed with it all.  That I was back in the place where my problems and my waistline were once both much smaller than they are now.  Where strength was your counselor lifting a trash can full of bug juice onto the bed of a truck and masculinity was a wrangler galloping around flag lowering before Hoe Down.  When 3:30 pm meant siesta and an eastward facing screened window was the only thing you needed.  Where beauty was seen in the campfire soot under your nails and leaders sang every word to the silliest of songs.  Where I was my truest self - my best self - and if you could capture the scent of cedar and sunscreen and bubble gum all laced together with the faint memory of cigar smoke you would hold onto it forever.  A place where four weeks is enough time to become lifelong friends and find yourself and fall in love.  Where you can count every star and hear every bug and feel every change in the wind.  Where you heart is its most open and your mind its most free.  Where everyone wins and you always leave a place cleaner than you found it.

I used to sing for my bunk in the pavilion.  They would make requests and I would perform!

 Ooooh, if these wagon wheels could talk... 

"Kimmy Harberg"

 At free swim with one of my oldest, dearest friends.

 The Echo Hill symbol in white rocks.

 My people.

And every night we would sing this song before passing the squeeze around our bunk friendship circles:
"Green trees around us, blue skies above
Friends all around us in a world filled with love.
Taps sounding softly, hearts beating true
As we all say, "Goodnight to you!"
Day is done gone the sun 
From the lakes, from the hills, from the skies.
All is well safely rest.
G-d is nigh."


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Markley Goes to the Dentist!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm in love...

...with Instagram!

My friend Elizabeth introduced me to the addictive little app and now all I can think about is X-Pro, Hefe or Kelvin?!  Here is what's new in our life (according to Instagram):

Well, these two aren't new, but every time I look over at them 
I fall in little more in love with both.

Doesn't this cocktail look dreamy and delicious?!  
It was. "The Reunited" at Swift's Attic.

Wildflowers at Lake Austin Spa & Resort: my happy place.

I want this room.  In my house.  
Too bad Lake Austin Spa & Resort already has it...

This face.  I honestly love this dog so much I can't even explain it in words.

Oh, this? It's a classic yellow cake layered and iced with Pearl's Caramel Sauce. 
This is how you say I love you.

That's it for now.  Maybe Instagram will inspire me to blog more!  I hope so, because I actually have missed it.  And I actually figured out how to make my pictures bigger on each post so now you can actually see what I've been talking about this whole time!

Oh, The Places We've Been!

Our maps: matted, framed and hung on the wall!
(Click on picture to enlarge.)

Hooray!  We finally have some art on our walls!  Our newest art installation features five custom maps each representing a state in which we have lived during our ten years (and counting) of blissful togetherness.  These prints proudly hang in our dining room on the longest wall of our house.  This wall is visible from the moment you step into our home so we knew whatever made the cut had to be fabulous! We started discussing the idea of maps - possibly vintage, sepia style or black and white - from the start because we do feel so lucky and are so proud of having had the opportunity to have lived in so many wonderful places.   We wanted them to be unified in some way and illustrate the story of our relationship.

In my search for the perfect prints, I happened upon Preston's etsy shop, Ink of Me, and immediately fell in love with his creativity and use of bright colors (and his clever businessman move of showcasing each print in an already matted and framed proof allowing his potential customers to easily picture his pieces in their respective homes).  Genius.  I was instantly drawn to his wedding/anniversary typography poster that featured two names within the state of Texas and a celebratory date and location below.  This got me thinking about our own map quest and I knew I was headed in the right direction.  What if instead of our names inside of the state, he could somehow capture the state of our relationship in each state!  I sent him a message describing my idea and within the hour we were writing back and forth brainstorming together - a true artists' collaboration!  Preston was so patient and accommodating.  He would respond to my last minute changes at all hours of the day and night and even waited to receive a swatch I sent to him of our chair fabric so we could color match the images before printing. This is what our final order looked like:

First State Shape: Michigan 
Words: Where We Met
Below:  Ann Arbor, Summer 2002
Graphic:  Block "M" over Ann Arbor

Second State Shape:  New York
Words:  Fell In Love
Below:  New York, Spring 2004
Graphic:  Heart over Manhattan

Third State Shape:  Illinois
Words:  Got Engaged
Below:  Chicago, Fall 2007
Graphic:  Engagement ring over Chicago

Fourth State Shape:  California
Words:  Started Our Life Together
Below:  Santa Monica, Spring 2008
Graphic:  Tandem bike over Santa Monica

Fifth State Shape:  Texas
Words:  Lived Happily Ever After
Below:  Austin, Winter 2011
Graphic:  House over Austin

And I can't leave out Brian's favorite part of the project.  He obviously loves the prints and how they help tell our love story on the walls of our first home, but we all know his true passion... the price!

5 Custom Prints 8X10... $100  
5 Upgrades to 16X20... $50 
5 Black Wood Frames... $100   
5 Custom Cut Matts... $55 

A wall of custom, personalized art shipped, matted, framed and hung for $305?!  

What is your favorite piece of art that you own?

(More pictures coming soon!)

Disclaimer:  The above are my genuine feelings.  Neither Preston nor Ink of Me offered any sort of  discount or free product in exchange for my glowing review.  I honestly loved working with him and hope to order more of his creative art for our home soon.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hey Jealousy

I saw a video (which, for the life of me, I cannot find anywhere or I'd repost it for you to watch) about a year ago and I've been trying to heed its advice ever since. The basic gist of its message is to listen to your jealousy and allow it to direct you toward what you really want. If you are jealous of someone's success, maybe what your jealousy is telling you is that you really want that type of success for yourself. If its their style or family or job that leave you with those irritatingly irrational feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety, maybe those are the things you want most in your life?
I recently discovered the rockstar diaries, yes I'm obviously a little late to the party since the author already has over 14,000 subscribed readers, and I am so stinkin' jealous of this girl! Her eccentric style, her grace (she went to Julliard for dance for Pete's sake), her perfect little family, her blog with its thousands of readers. Mid-sentence of my lamenting over everything this stranger had that I did not, Brian cut me off, looked at me like I was crazy and said, "You have great style, we have an awesome little family, you have a blog and if you put the effort into it, you could have that readership, too." Okay, while I don't think buying all of your clothes from the Ann Taylor sale rack constitutes great style, I appreciated his attempt to motivate and redirect my obvious jealousy toward this woman I have never met.
When I think about the difference between a success blog and one that goes unread or a booming business and one that never gets off the ground, there is one common denomonator in the success stories. The successful ones just did it. Despite the inevitable self doubt, obstacles and growing pains - the person who reached their goal did so because they simply started, kept going and got there. They just did it.
So, instead of stalking the blogs I aspire to be like, I'll write more in my own. Instead of coveting another's style, I'll revisit my full closet and remind myself that I luckily want for nothing and have more than I need. And when that ache for the perfect family creeps into my heart, I'll look at my husband and puppy - both of whom I love more than I can put into words - and be thankful for the family we are building in our own time. And when that pesky little wave of jealousy washes over me, I'll memind myself to count my own blessings instead of someone else's.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Oscars

I get a little teary-eyed when I watch the Oscars because for so long that was my dream: to be in the movies, to make my living as an actor, to win an Academy Award. For so long I lived my life knowing it would happen for me, not preparing a backup plan or allowing doubt to creep into my mind. And here I sit in my living room in Austin, Texas watching the Oscars however many hundreds of miles away, knowing that chapter has closed, and admittedly there is still a part of me that wants it. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't imagined myself walking the red carpet, being interviewed on Oprah and accepting my first Academy Award. But alas, Oprah is no longer on the air, I no long live in Los Angeles and sometimes dreams evolve into other dreams.

Will I be a famous actress? No. But will I always yearn for something special to fulfill me both artistically and spiritually? Will I continue to look for a creative outlet that might also be a potentially lucrative career? Will I forever be grateful for my time I spent pursuing my dream because in essence that is the dream itself? Absofreakinlutely.

"Stay hungry, stay foolish." - Steve Jobs

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Many of you have asked to see pictures of our new home, so instead of giving a picture tour, I've decided to show off the house, one project at a time. The above picture is my pinspiration for our entry wall...

No offense to the lovely folks that owned our humble abode before us, but the above picture shows how the entry wall was staged before we took ownership.

The first thing we did was paint the living room and the entry wall is part of our living room. I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate a large, framed mirror on the wall so I taped out the approximate size I wanted on the wall with painters tape to help visualize.

We purchased a 3'X6' mirror from Texas Mirror and Doors and they delivered and installed the next day. To achieve the vertical mount, the installation specialist used an "L" bracket so that when we built the frame around the mirror we could place the frame directly next to the mirror.

We purchased four pieces of framing from Home Depot and borrowed my dear friend Kati's husband (and his power tools) for assistance in precision cutting. We used finishing nails and a nail punch to secure the frame around the mirror.

Brian always paints or installs the top half of whatever project we are attempting and I complete the bottom. Luckily, he's 6'3" and I don't mind sitting on the floor!

Above is what the mirror with its frame looked like before we caulked the corners. Since we cut the corners by hand, we needed to use calk to fill in the gaps.

Markley inspecting my work as I cleaned up some of the caulk.
Such a good little helper!

We taped the mirror and wall to paint the frame black. To be honest, I would have liked the frame to be wider, but we had to account for the outlet just outside the lower right corner of the frame. And the inspiration picture was for just that - inspiration.

Above is what the mirror looked like with our custom table in front of it. The base is an old sewing table that was in my Grandma's house and we had TM&D custom cut a piece of glass to be the table top.

The finished product - styled with two design books,
a bowl for keys and fresh flowers!

Now, scroll back up and look at my inspiration. Pretty close, right?!