Category Archives: Stories

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!

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. :)

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Filed under nature, photography, Stories, Travel

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

 

 

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Filed under Art, art retreat, creativity, encaustic, Learning, mixed media, News, painting, Stories, Travel

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! ;)

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Filed under Art, creativity, Learning, Love, Stories, Thoughts

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

18 Comments

Filed under Learning, Stories, Thoughts, Words

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

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Filed under Art, Art lessons, creativity, entertaining, Food, Home, Learning, News, photography, Stories

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

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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

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Filed under Art, collage, Crafting, creativity, holiday, photography, Stories, Travel, vintage