NEW BACKYARD MURAL

When we moved into our house, it came with a big blank wall on one side of the garage. Originally, we painted a geometric pattern on it but after two years I was ready for something new. I got it into my head that I would repaint the wall, but I didn’t know what I wanted to paint yet. This story is going to seem long and rambling for a minute, but I promise it all ties together and comes back around to the mural at the end.

Fast forward a few months and we decided to re-decorate our living room. It was full of bulky black shelves (that house the hundreds and hundreds of vinyl albums other M collects) and made the already tiny room feel smaller and darker than it was.

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So we ditched the dark stuff and went bright and clean. Suddenly, we found ourselves with a lot of wall space and nothing to cover it. The obvious solution: a gallery wall!

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We promptly filled it with an art print of “The Hound” from Ikea, two photos by Mary Costa Photography, one of the pieces from my collaboration with Sugar & Cloth, a custom Dance Yrself Clean print (that we made together), and a piece of artwork that came with The National’s album “Trouble Will Find Me.” But we still had one big space left above the TV.

Because buying and building new furniture, figuring out what to fill a gallery wall with, and sort of planning to re-paint a 28′ x 8′ wall wasn’t enough, we were also on the hunt for new couch pillows. Adulting 101: they get kind of gross after a couple years and even the washing machine can’t save you if you haven’t been proactive about cleaning them.

I had a LOT of trouble finding pillows I liked. I don’t know why. I’m not particularly difficult about throw pillows, there just didn’t seem to be a lot out there. Until Oh Joy! announced their fall 2016 collection for Target that included this amazing find:

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BINGO. Done and done. Then it came to me:

Paint the mural the same colors as the pillows.

Take a family photo in front of the mural.

Enlarge the the photo, frame it, and hang it in the empty space in the gallery wall.

The colors in the photo will match the throw pillows on the couch, and everything will have subtle cohesive undertones. GENIUS.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, Sugar & Cloth posted a call for wall space to create color walls in different U.S. cities. They have their own mural in Houston, The Sugar and Cloth Color Wall, and it’s incredible. Simple, but so fun and versatile! I offered up my garage, but they needed spaces that are accessible to the public and our wall is not. The color wall stuck with me though, and I ended up creating a variation of it anyway. And finally, the reveal!

 

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Pillow by Oh Joy! for Target.

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A new mural, a new living room, and a new appreciation for how long it takes to paint some simple stripes. Now who wants to come over and take pictures!?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RUBY (Year 2)

It’s Ruby’s birthday/adoption anniversary! We’ve had her for 2 years, so to celebrate we snapped some pics in front of our new backyard mural (more on that later) and are giving her a big doggy birthday treat. Happy birthday love bug! To read more about Ruby’s adoption story, see this post from last year.

Animal rescue is a cause that I care a lot about. It breaks my heart to think about all the pets who, by no fault of their own, were lost, abandoned, or worse, only to end up in a rescue or shelter potentially at risk of being killed. Why should they have to pay the ultimate price for the bad behavior and irresponsibility displayed by humans? I’ve accepted that I can’t change other people’s behavior, but I can do some small things to help correct it. One of those things is adopting animals instead of purchasing from a breeder, pet store, or puppy mill and another is vocally supporting the cause when I’m able to. Ruby’s birthday is one of those times.

We don’t know much about Ruby’s life before she came to us, but I can tell you that (while she certainly has her challenges) she is a happy, healthy, sweetheart of a dog and it kills me a little to think that someone else didn’t want her or couldn’t take care of her. Look at that face!

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Happy 8th(ish) birthday snugglebug, here’s to many more!

SMALL ADVENTURES: ARROYO BURRO BEACH

For Valentine’s Day, the other M and I drove up to Santa Barbara specifically to visit Arroyo Burro Beach (a.k.a. Henry’s Beach). This beach is special because it allows dogs, both on and off leash. We’ve been wanting to take Ruby for a long time so it was really a gift for all three of us. She got to play in the sand and the ocean with other dogs (two things she’s never experienced before, to our knowledge) and we got to relax and take a mini vacation. Everyone wins!

At first, she was a little unsure so we stuck to sniffing rocks.

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Did I say sniffing? I meant climbing.

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Then she started to loosen up a bit and have fun. Look at that puppy smile!

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We went a little closer to the water…

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And then a little closer…

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NOPE! TOO CLOSE! Ruby is not a water dog.

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We stayed safely on the sand for the rest of the afternoon.

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Then went to our hotel and promptly passed out from all the excitement.

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We made a spontaneous return to the beach the next morning because Ruby had such a great time sniffing and digging around. She even made some dog friends, which is a big deal for her because she isn’t super social.

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It was low tide and the water wasn’t as scary. We climbed more rocks and sniffed every single one of them.

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After a while, we gave the water another try…

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But she still wasn’t feeling it.

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So we chased some birds instead!

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Then went home with a very happy, very tired little pup.

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If you ever make the trip to Henry’s Beach, you can have peace of mind knowing it now comes endorsed by these two humans and a beagle.

This Week: Happy Halloween!

Instead of showing you what I’ve been working on, I want to do something more spirited to celebrate my favorite holiday. IT’S HALLOWEEN! So let’s look at some costumes from the distant and recent past. First, the classics:

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That’s my dad in the middle. The headless one. Thank God that that gene didn’t get passed down, amiright? My head is firmly attached and painted like a pumpkin.

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Sibling dinos!

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Still have that hat somewhere. I only wear it when casting spells, obviously. That hair though!

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Are there any 90’s kids who weren’t Power Rangers for Halloween at some point?

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I end up in zombie makeup pretty much every Halloween and I love it. (Above two photos by Mary Costa Photography. Photo below for Garlic, My Soul.)

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Hot Dog Vendors

Last year was our first Halloween with Ruby and her Uncle George got her a hot dog suit! We went as her hot dog vendors, naturally. (Photo by Mary Costa Photography.)

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I went a little creepier for the trick-or-treaters last year. There’s something about a costume that requires full face make-up that I just cant’t get enough of.

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And that brings us to this year! (Above photo by Mary Costa Photography.) Elliot, Gertie, and E.T. wish you the happiest, spookiest, most wonderful Halloween of all time! Have a great scary weekend!

 

 

Artist in Residence: The Liaison Capitol Hill

This time, we’re going all the way to our nation’s capitol to visit a pet-friendly Joie de Vivre location in Washington D.C.!

The Liaison Capitol Hill would be such a fun place to bring my dog, Ruby. Since we haven’t been able to get out there yet, I brought D.C. to her in the form of an embroidered doggy bandana. Four iconic D.C. monuments have been hand sewn into the fabric: the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court Building, and the Jefferson Memorial. Stylish and patriotic, don’t you think?

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Red is totally her color.

To see the full post and interview with me, visit Joyride here!

This Week: Birthday!

It was my birthday this week! The other M took me beach bike riding and we’re going roller skating this weekend. I’m spoiled.

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I added a customizable Halloween invitation to the shop and drew a cat in a sombrero for fun. Cats can celebrate Halloween too.

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I was commissioned to do a larger version of one of my abstract paintings in blues and greens. Ruby was really into it.

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Love that face! Have a great weekend!

This Week: New Beginnings

I missed the last few Friday posts because I was traveling, but I’m back with a vengeance. This week was one for the history books.

First, it was Ruby’s birthday on Thursday! Obviously I made her a doggy birthday cake. Obviously she devoured it. It actually didn’t taste terrible, despite looking like wet cat food (yes I tried it, it’s 100% dog safe human food don’t worry). Recipe here!

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Second, I sold out of my neon sea glass pendant necklaces while I was away. I was finally able to re-stock! Shop all the new pieces right here, before they run out again!

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Third, and this is a big one, I left my day job to pursue full-time design work! It’s simultaneously exciting and terrifying so far, but I think I’m off to a good start. If you’ve got any creative work to throw my way, message me in the contact section. Or share my Etsy shop on your fav social media account. Or just come over and give me a reassuring pat on the back. All would be appreciated.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Happy Birthday Ruby

Today is Ruby’s birthday! Well, technically we don’t know when her birthday is because we adopted her. Today is her adoption day, and marks our first full year with this furry little nugget! It’s a pretty special day and certainly gives cause for celebration.

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Ruby is a beagle, approximately 7 years old. I think we can all agree that beagles are generally pretty cute, but she’s extra special for a few reasons: she’s bi-colored (brown and white only, no black!), and she’s got little brown speckles on her nose and legs. My dog has freckles you guys. She’s so cute I could die.

Ruby is my best pal. She’s my snuggle buddy, my exercise companion, and my favorite goofball. She’s smart, funny, and sweet. She teaches me patience, kindness, joy, and love. But this year hasn’t always been easy.

For those who don’t know, our journey to Ruby started with another dog: Alexander the Great.

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When we moved into our house, I immediately started looking at rescue websites. It was important to me that we rescue a dog. It’s a cause that I believe in, and felt strongly I should support. More importantly, (as my mother would say) it’s just the right thing to do. Please remember that when and if you consider becoming a fur-parent.

We found Alex at Life4Paws Rescue through Petfinder and made an appointment to go meet him. A clumsy little shepherd mix waddled into the room, tripping over his massive paws, looking curiously at us with soft, kind eyes. He was only a few months old, but already more than 30 pounds. This fella was going to be huge. We sat on the floor with him. He cautiously climbed into my lap and fell asleep in a terribly awkward but ridiculously adorable position. We fell in love instantly and a few days later he came home with us.

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Alex had lived the first few months of his life in someone’s backyard, completely neglected. The conditions were so poor that he developed parvovirus, a highly contagious and life-threatening disease. In untreated puppies, the fatality rate can exceed 90%. It was a literal miracle that he had been rescued, treated, and survived.

The tricky thing about a puppy that has been treated for parvo is that their immune system is sensitive. They need to be closely monitored to insure is isn’t compromised. Their contact with other dogs, humans, and the outside world should be extremely limited so they aren’t accidentally exposed to disease. Alex was at the beginning of this process when we adopted him. It turned out to be a little more than we could handle.

Because he was young, he had a lot of energy. Because he was big (and getting bigger every day), he needed space to expend that energy. Because he couldn’t go for walks or hikes or even be in our backyard for prolonged periods of time, he became restless. And because our house is small, it became a safety issue for both him and us. I don’t blame Alex, he was doing the best he could under the conditions. But frankly, we were not equipped to handle him under those circumstances. We brought him back to Life4Paws with the intention of re-adopting him once he had fully recovered, but someone else scooped him up not long after. He was a sweet, adorable puppy after all, and I’m glad he found a home that was better suited to his needs. We saw a picture of him a few months later and he was literally the largest dog I have ever seen.

After that, the other M and I continued to visit Life4Paws a few times a week as volunteers. We still wanted to adopt, but were in no rush. We didn’t want to put ourselves or another dog through the emotional turmoil of being returned. Then…

Ruby showed up.

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(Above photo by Faith Michele Photography, August 2014.)

I had gone on my own that afternoon. As soon as I walked in they said “We got a new dog! A beagle!” My jaw dropped. The other M loves beagles. He had been begging me to get one since we started our search. I texted him a photo of the (then unnamed) beagle and he responded “OH. MY. GOD.”

Ruby came to Life4Paws through the vet they work with (the details are a little unclear).  After she was given a clean bill of health, they dropped her off with the rescue. There was a pink, bone-shaped tag dangling from her collar that read “Princess Coco” (a name she has never responded to, despite us still occasionally calling her that). The phone number listed had been disconnected. She was microchipped, but the address associated with that chip was in New Jersey.

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Over the next few weeks, we continued to stop by and walk the dogs, Ruby included, while they attempted to locate her owner. No one ever came forward. She was dreadfully overweight and moved incredibly slow. She had a large bald spot near her tail where she scratched herself so much the fur had fallen out and the skin was irritated. She couldn’t take more than a few steps without reverse-sneezing. Her eyes were wide and often bloodshot. But she was so sweet, and so affectionate…that is my favorite thing about dogs. They can go through something terrible; abandonment, being lost or mistreated, but at their core they still just want to love someone be loved in return. We offered to foster her.

Two weeks later, we adopted her officially. (Cue butt snuggling montage!)

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After only a short time in our home, her skin healed, her fur grew back, she was losing weight steadily, and had so much more energy. Her eyes were bright, clear, and relaxed, and her snorting had almost stopped entirely. She had become a totally different dog, in the best way possible. I don’t know if dogs are capable of feeling an emotion as complex as gratitude, but that’s certainly what it felt like to me. She seemed so grateful to be with us. This is why rescuing is so important. Don’t judge the scared, weird-looking shelter dog right away. Underneath that bald, patchy coat is a warm, devoted companion waiting to go home with you.

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Here she is on our first Halloween together, in 2014. Please note how much healthier she looks after only 2 months with us. (Photo by Mary Costa Photography.)

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She’s a loud mouth (most beagles are), but we love her anyway. She has lots of funny little quirks like burying her nose when she sleeps, wiggling her whole butt when she’s excited, and curling up in the space behind our legs while we lie on the couch. She’s so, so smart and has figured out a (very complex) route to the top of the kitchen table and countertops. Though once she gets up there she can’t get down, and just waits patiently for someone to come get her.

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Ruby is the third lovable little member of our family, and the first dog both of us have owned as independent adults. She is such a special girl, and I can honestly say that her presence has enriched every other part of my life. It melts my heart to know that she loves and trusts us, and because of that love and trust, she was able to blossom into a happy, healthy dog living a full life, despite whatever happened in her past. We did that for her. And she returns the favor every day.

Happy Adoption Day/Birthday Ruby. We love ya, snugglebug. There’s a nice big bone with your name on it waiting for you on the kitchen counter. You’re probably already up there eating it.

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This Week: Whirlwind

Dear Friday,

I am SO happy to see you. This week was B-A-N-A-N-A-S. And right in the middle of everything…I got sick. I’m writing this from under the covers, surrounded by tissues and cough drop wrappers. Sorry in advance if it makes no sense, I took some DayQuil (helps with the cold symptoms but definitely makes me a little loopy).

Here’s a peek at the only thing I was able to finish before I took ill: more on this next week!

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Did you know it was National Dog Day on Wednesday? WELL IT WAS. And I will take any excuse to post more pics of my adorable pup. #adoptdontshop

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Next week is going to be a handful as well, hoping I can share some big news soon!

Have an excellent weekend!

 

Artist in Residence: The Hall

Next up on my list of Joie de Vivre Hotels: The Hall, South Beach!

This gem of a location is scheduled to open later this year, and staying there alone is probably worth the trip to Florida. With it’s Art Deco roots and devil-may-care attitude, it’s the perfect getaway spot. Did I mention it’s also really nice to look at? Serious eye-candy happening over here.

I created these mini, color-blocked, cut-out planters to celebrate The Hall in all it’s bohemian, break-the-rules spirit. They’re fun, vibrant, and unexpected – just like The Hall!

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That’s Ruby, my curious little beagle. Actually she looks gigantic here, but she is pretty petite in real life.

To read the full post and interview with me, visit Joie de Vivre’s blog, Joyride, here!