2/52

2/52

This kid has so many expressions, but his impish grin is one of my favorites. This has been the scene for so much of this week – working on his floor routine (this week he figured out how to army crawl and sit up on his own from his belly!), feeling his two brand new teeth with his tongue all. day. long.

In 2015, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

1/52

I have been trying to write something to introduce and explain this new photo project I’m undertaking this year, and I keep typing and deleting everything I’ve written. I feel this need to explain why I want to do this, when I spent much of the last few months trying to let myself OFF of the hook of formal projects. And I really, really didn’t want to have anything serious for 2015, other than Project Life and Ben’s baby album, just because there’s only so much creative time around here these days.

But then a few more of my internet friends (blogging friends and flickr friends alike!) have started new 52 weeks projects, and the more I think about it, the more it feels like what I really should be doing. I have stopped using my dSLR almost entirely, with the exception of Ben’s monthly photos, and that’s just not okay with me. I don’t want a project that’s going to stress me out, but I really should be taking more photos of my son with something other than my dumb phone. (And look at that, I tried to be concise and simple and I just went and wrote 200 words. Sigh.)

1/52

And so! In 2015, I’ll be taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.

A Creative Slump

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A funny thing has been happening recently… I’m feeling simultaneously eager to create and burnt out by everything I’m doing. I’ve long had a bad habit of being unable to let myself out of my own commitments to creative projects, and I’m in a bad cycle now. I feel like I’m half assing everything. Right now, I’m still slogging through my daily photos, trying to write here more, planning Project Life pages, printing photos for Ben’s baby album and updating a private blog for family with photos of Ben. I’m taking photos all the time, but I’m not happy with many of them. And then I’m using those half-assed photos over and over and over again – on instagram, in Project 365, on Ben’s blog, here, and in Project Life. I’m keeping up with it all, barely, but I’m not happy with much of it.

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I want to make time to take “real” photos again. I want to sit in my craft room and actually make some scrapbook pages with all these photos I’ve been printing. I want to finish crocheting the blanket I’ve been making for our newest nephew. I want to try NEW things. I want to make stuff to decorate our house. Oh, and I don’t ACTUALLY want to abandon any of these creative endeavors, either. I’m frustrated and I don’t know how to climb out of this rut.

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Obviously, I’m attempting to do too much (or feeling obligated to keep up with too much, for no reason other than that I started these projects and it makes me twitchy to think about abandoning them). I know that a lot of this frustration comes from the fact that any of this creating happens in ten minute bursts during Ben’s naps, or when he’s happily kicking in his bouncy seat next to me. Finding time for the “fun stuff” is still so hard, because there’s always laundry and dishes and bottles to make or clean when I have some time because Ben’s either sleeping or happy to chill for a bit.

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I don’t often allow for the fact that I’m still so new to all of this… still trying to fit the old Elizabeth in with this new one.

I know that a lot of this comes back to needing to define myself in this new role. Somehow, my brain is like “well you’re home so much now, there should be lots of time to do some crafts here and there!”. Except taking care of a little baby is a full time job, too. I wouldn’t expect to be fitting in crafts in the afternoon if I was still working in an office. So there’s obviously some sort of mental adjustment that needs to be made. And sure, I could use time in the evenings to do some of these things, but when Ben’s finally asleep, I want to flop on the couch (with a beer or two or three) and hang out with Dan.

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I’m not writing this because I want someone to tell me that my photos are still good, or anything like that. Mostly I’m just not sure how to figure this out. I debate giving up Project 365 fairly often, but I’ve got less than 100 days to go, and I’m taking photos all the time anyway. I waffle about giving up blogging (while also wanting to recommit to it). Ben’s sleeping and I’m typing when I could be putting Project Life pages together or making that fall wreath or editing photos or or or. I don’t know what the answer is. Am I looking for someone to give me permission to abandon some of these projects? Do I just need to give all of this a little more time, and be a little easier on myself? Would a weekend afternoon in the craft room while Ben hangs out with Dan help? Will it take me three days’ worth of naps to even finish writing this post? Your guess is as good as mine.

Springlonging

Spring begins today, and it doesn’t feel like spring much at all. Hell, it’s spring break on campus and I’m still walking around wearing my winter coat. But spring is officially, FINALLY here, and I celebrated by combing through my photo archive for some of my favorite springtimey photos. To get us all in the mood.

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March 30, 2007

signs of life are everywhere

blue skies and hope

dogwood pretties

gritty meets pretty

April 16, 2010

it's March now, can we get to the good stuff?

at last, greenness

seriously, magic.

Room Tour: the Craft Room

We’ve been in our new house for five months, and are definitely feeling settled in. Most of the rooms are stuck in the same stage of setting up: things are mostly where they go, but we haven’t really started the decorating/walls/curtains stage. I’m not sure that my mind will really get to the decorating part of things for a while yet (it’s kind of occupied by a certain lettuce-sized belly occupant these days…), and I think Dan and I are both okay with that. I also like the idea of living in our house for a while before we start committing to nail holes (or another metric ton of Command strips). Still, it does mean that I don’t feel like any room is “finished” in a way that I want to share it, and that part isn’t as fun.

But! I think the craft room is pretty fantastic, so I figured I’d start there. We really did want this to end up being a craft room + guest room, and I’m glad we were able to make it happen that way.

craft room tour!
This is the view from the doorway, and it helps illustrate the problem that felt insurmountable just after we moved in (and before we upgraded our bed). No matter how many times we measured, it just didn’t seem possible to fit our old full-sized bed AND my desk in there. My old desk was my parents’ old kitchen table, butcher block and deep and amazing. But Dan brought up the idea of getting a new desk for me, and let’s face it, it wasn’t exactly difficult to get excited about the idea.

craft room tour!
We upgraded to a king-sized bed just before Thanksgiving, and it is amazing. People have been scoffing at me for years, making my 6’2″ husband sleep on such a tiny bed, but it was working just fine, partly because we planned to get a new one as soon as we moved anyway. And I’ll never, ever stop loving that bed frame (my first real furniture purchase back in 2007 when I was moving out of my parents’ house). Perhaps having it pushed up against the wall isn’t ideal, but the room doesn’t feel cramped to me, and we were so afraid that it would.

craft room tour!
And the new desk? Is working out wonderfully. It’s an IKEA Linmon table top and two Alex drawer units (which totally look like they match the rolling cabinet of drawers I had previously). I love that it’s long enough to fit an open Project Life binder, my paper trimmer AND normal work space, and that it’s shallow enough to take up less of the room. I’ve been using it for a few months now, and couldn’t be happier.

craft room tour!
craft room tour!
I’m still working with my pile/bowl/bin desktop storage method, although I have some new bins ordered that will hopefully help me be a little more organized. Having the bookshelf nearby is also really nice. Even if I filled it up REALLY quickly.

There are definitely a few projects I’d like to finish to make the room feel complete, like hanging curtains, getting another light fixture for right above my workspace, and hanging art on the walls. I also REALLY need to get a new desk chair; that infernal Jules chair is cool-looking but supremely uncomfortable. I definitely need to hang all of my Es but having more wall space has my gears turning. A big calendar? Some prints? A bulletin board or clipboards to hang art more temporarily? The possibilities are endless.

But even more than just as a craft space, I love that this room is really functioning as a guest room. We’ve had family and friends stay a few weekends here and there, and having a real room they can call their own while they’re here is so cool. Maybe we won’t always get to have a dedicated room for guests and crafts, but it’s pretty fantastic to have it for the years we will.

Currents

01.29.2014 :: so over it

02.03.2014 :: snow forever

bean boots forever

02.05.2014 :: iced over

01.22.2014 :: bright spot

It’s been a really … WINTERY winter this year. And as much as I’m admittedly very much a summer girl through and through, I don’t hate snow. But we’ve had so many small-to-medium sized storms this winter, with SO MANY days of record cold temperatures that I’m not sure we’ve seen the grass since 2013. Add in a few horrible snowy driving experiences, and I’m over it. If I ever needed to be sure that I do not want to move any further north, I think this winter has taken care of that.

However, this whole picture a day thing is forcing me to find the beauty in the wintery stillness, and I’m really glad for that. I’ve been using my real camera more than I have in months, and getting some photos I’m really proud of, and it feels fantastic.

I’m at 24 weeks pregnant (just barely into my sixth month) and I have been feeling mostly good, still, despite the snow-incuded stress. Other than the heartburn. Heartburn forever, waking me up at night, at random times during the day, first thing in the morning… It’s kind of awful. Don’t get me wrong – I’d take heartburn now over puking in the beginning forever, but … it’s still not fun. Figuring out what I can eat (that actually appeals to me) is feeling like work, and I am just kinda tired of it. I suppose I’m supposed to talk more about what a miracle it is and how magical it is, and how much I love my tiny little kicking nugget already, and how pretty my hair has been, and those things are true, for sure. But it’s also really heartburny.

Luna has been ours for exactly two months today, and we’re such nerds over her it’s ridiculous. Even when she’s being a menace, or choosing Dan’s lap over mine, or giving me the stink eye, she’s just so soft and small and cute. She has been a silent cat all along, and in the last few days, when she opens her mouth to protest when we take too long to feed her, tiny squeaks have emitted. It’s pretty much the cutest.

I hope you’re staying warm, and not resenting the weather as much as I am, and that it’s an awesome weekend all around.

Decorating Our New Place

I have been pondering how to decorate our new house for Christmas for longer than is probably normal. I definitely scouted each house we toured during the house hunt for the prime Christmas tree location, that’s for sure. (And our house had a vote against it solely due to its lack of mantle!) Once we moved, I started warning Dan that the lights were going to be crazypants this year. I mean, it’s basically required, with a staircase like ours!

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Dan says having two trees turns our house into a department store; I have too strong of a sentimental attachment to this little white tree to keep it packed away. (I’ve had it now for five years, and love it a little more each year, even though I bought it as a joke. The year before that I had a very, very sad Charlie Brown tree.)

But the exhaustion of early pregnancy took away a lot of my steam. Suddenly, the idea of buying a real tree seemed insurmountable and full of even more to dos – we’d need more lights and a stand; we’d have to vacuum the needles and water it… And since I’m trying to be easier on myself, it seemed like buying a fake tree wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Even if I have historically been EXTREMELY snooty about fake trees and certainly never intended to actually own one. So we bought a 7.5 foot white tree; if it’s white, it certainly isn’t pretending to be a real tree.

our tree, 2013

I have to be honest here, because truthfully? Other than the tree, “decorating for Christmas” to me means lights. In as many locations as possible. So many that you can avoid using the room’s real lamps. I didn’t use all of my lights this year, because I could tell Dan was hitting his limit… but not before I achieved the desired lightsplosion.

decor

I have two favorite areas this year:

cards (and the banner Dan tried to prevent me from buying)

our stockings

The fireplace – because I adore our stockings (and the tiny plaid one I bought for Luna) and because I absolutely love how our Christmas cards look hanging on the blank wall above the fireplace.

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And the staircase up to the second floor. I wrapped the bannister first with silver tinsel garland, and then with colored lights. It’s impossible to photograph, but the tinsel+lights go all the way up the stairs, along the hall, and around to the wall right above the front door. It’s so freaking happy.

I leave you with some extraneous bokeh, because what’s the point of having so many lights without taking too many photos like this?

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And lots of wishes for hot cocoa, sitting by the lights, watching Christmas movies (…or James Bond movies, if you’re like me and think only of 007 at this time of year) and lots of coziness. Even if it’s going to be record-breakingly warm here in NJ this weekend.

17. Get a cat

I’ve wanted a cat pretty much my whole life. It was never in the cards when I was a kid, as my dad has never made it a secret that he’s not the biggest fan of cats. (He used to tell me that he wouldn’t come visit me if I grew up and get a cat… but I never believed him on that one anyway.) Not having ever had one, I have no idea where this came from. My grandparents had cats for a long time, but they certainly weren’t especially nice or cuddly. In fact, Lydia scratched my sister once badly enough to create a cat-dislike almost as strong as my dad’s… and my brother and Smokey had a standoff on the basement stairs that he still remembers clearly to this day.

luna1

My cat-longing grew stronger when I started dating Dan and spending a lot of time at the apartment he shared with his brother. Their cat, Bluecat, is a strange, particular, overgrown kitten who is pretty much the best cat I’ve known. Even if he so prefers Dave that he almost never sat in my lap in the years I visited every other weekend. But he’s very posey, and I have taken quite a few photos of him over the years. (We do still have visiting rights with Bluecat, now that he lives with Dan’s brother and his fiance.)

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Dan and I figured we’d get a cat once we moved in together… until our landlord specifically ruled out cats. So we pushed it back to whenever we found a house. (And I added it to my 33 Before 33 list.) As soon as we started the house-buying process, I started pestering Dan about when we could get a kitten. (Even though it would probably be an easier transition if we adopted an adult cat… I really wanted the experience and cuteness of a kitten.) We figured we should wait to get settled… and then we found out I was pregnant. We wondered a bit (and were told by some family and friends) if we were a bit crazy for adopting a kitten knowing we’d have a baby in a few months … but in the end neither of us could resist.

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We visited a local shelter, and met the kitten we’d eventually adopt there. She was the first kitten we saw, and she was scarily small. They said she was three months old, but she was about the same size as some other kittens who were MUCH younger than that. She was impossibly sweet though. We filled out some paperwork, but left it at that, because we were worried she was sick. Not to mention the fact that she was gray, and Dan had just had a gray cat.

A few weeks went by, and with Thanksgiving and the beginning of December, we really didn’t have time to visit the shelter again to see if they had any new kittens. And then one morning, I got a call from them, saying that the little gray kitten was going to the vet that day, and she’d be available to take home the following day. And we were first on the (lengthy) waiting list for her. We honestly had no idea that we had formally applied to adopt her… but we saw it as a sign from the Universe that she was meant to be ours.

We brought her home two days later and named her Luna.

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She’s still impossibly tiny, although they confirm that she’s about four months old. She has acclimated to us and our house fairly quickly. We had a scare a few days after we brought her home, and worried ourselves sick for a day and a half. It turned out she had a tiny kitten upper respiratory infection, which has cleared up very quickly with some antibiotics. She was back to attack-snuggle-attack mode within a day, and it was such a relief.

our Christmas kitten

She has wormed her way into our hearts pretty thoroughly, that’s for sure.

She gallops around the house, purrs louder than I thought possible, and went on a hunger strike until we realized it was just that she doesn’t like turkey-flavored kitten food, thankyouverymuch. She doesn’t meow, but stares at you and finally emits the tiniest squeak. She is a fan of snuggle-attacking, in which you think she’s there to snuggle nicely, and she’s really waiting for a good moment to start stabbing you through your jeans with her various pointy ends. And we both totally love it. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say that we’re total suckers… but that’s okay too.

she fits in the pouch of a hoodie!
(she currently fits in the pouch of a sweatshirt AND doesn’t hate us for trying this so… I kinda think she might be the best ever.)

Winter Wonderland

We’ve had an uncharacteristically snowy December.

snowy pines

It’s kinda gorgeous.

tree-lined and snow-covered

Even if it is WAY TOO COLD. And even if Dan’s extra nervous and protective of my supposedly more clumsy and unbalanced pregnant self on all of this ice.

snow-covered pin oak

I think it’s all going to melt this weekend… which is okay, really. I have a feeling this won’t be the only snow of the winter. We haven’t gotten too much all at once, so it hasn’t been too dangerous as far as the roads are concerned. But I do love seeing the wintery scenes during my epic daily commutes.(And it sure is nice to be living in a neighborhood that has some picturesque corners, too.)

bean boots, of course.