Monday, June 29, 2015

Illustration Inspiration

solitaire Yelena Brysenkova


While wandering around Pinterest, I discovered the oh so beautiful work of Yelena Brysenkova. The Russian born - American based illustrator has a whimsical style with planes of flat colour, a muted palette and a deliciously skillful use of pattern. If there is a familiarity about her work it is perhaps because she has illustrated for the likes of flow magazine, the frankie calendar and has twice been featured on Design Sponge

The collection above, entitled solitaire, is my very favourite. (I am also enamored with the likes of cat nap, house plants and the Romeo and Juliet concertina book.) The subject matter draws me to these pieces. I can relate to these cat loving, book reading, dancing ladies as they reflect precious moments in my own day to day. I can even imagine a depiction of a girl at a jewellery bench, or a Mama feeding her baby to sleep. 

As mentioned on Design Sponge,Yelena credits studying in Prague with influencing her colour palette and "appreciation for precious, friendly, and quietly beautiful things." Indeed, precious and quietly beautiful are such apt ways to think about her lovely work. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - SouleMama 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Savoring Ordinary Pleasures


Do you pause to really savor praise, contentment and joy? Sometimes? Rarely? You should! According to Dr. Rick Hanson, by sustaining a positive experience for longer and giving the brain a chance to absorb it, we create new paths in our brain. By making a practice of this (half a dozen times a day) and accessing those pathways often, we are able to hardwire ourselves for happiness and overcome negativity. I love this idea! 

Like stopping to smell the roses, by taking an extra moment to really feel your physical and mental reactions to those roses, not only will it bring you greater happiness in the moment, it allows you to experience greater joy in the future. 

I do so love to savor ordinary pleasures - like the feeling of satisfaction when I reach the bottom of the laundry basket (once a month!), the weight of my baby in my arms as he rests his head on my shoulder and sucks his thumb to sleep, the thrill of receiving an order for a piece of jewellery. Pausing to breathe in those moments is what it's all about, isn't it? 

I've ordered Dr Rick's book from the library to find out more. I've also made a little list of things that make me happy, that might make you happy too!

A hot cup of tea

Fresh flowers on my dining room table

Handmade soap in the shower

Reading a book in a pool of sunlight, with a cup of tea

Going for a walk

A new stack of library books

A freshly made bed

A clear dining and coffee table

Re-reading much loved books (Sophie's World, The Great Gatsby, The Book Thief)

Ticking something off a to do list

Finishing a project

Baking - anything and everything, but especially scones, banana cake, ANZAC biscuits and brownies

Eating something you have grown

Posting a surprise letter or postcard to a loved one

Watching children play joyfully

Patting a pet

A new notebook or pen


What's on your list?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Finding Balance - In The Workshop

1. What's in front of me at the bench
2. What's behind me in the workshop

There's been a lovely balance between life and work lately, a great rhythm to our days and weeks, that allows me to work and parent without guilt. As a stay at home Mum with a small business my time and energy is often pulled between my little ones, the household and my business. I'm so often asked how I fit it all in. Finding a flow that works for us is the key to juggling it all, and finding time to do the extra things, like a yoga class one night a week, a solo movie trip, a monthly book club meet up. While I can't fit in long stretches of time at the bench, by aiming to do 1-2 hours of bench work 2-3 days and 2-3 nights a week, it adds up and I am able to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Some weeks I do more, some weeks I do less. Having the freedom to be flexible, as well as staying organised, mean I am better able to go with the flow and face any challenges.

Being happy in myself is at the root of all of it though. It falls apart when I do. When I'm sick, when I'm overwhelmed, when I'm feeling negative. But I find I am able to return to a place of calm and happiness, thanks in part to age, and in part to the marvel of anti-depressants and the reduced anxiety I suffer as a result. With a clearer head I am able to experience more joy and feel gratitude for all my blessings (in a non-religious way). And with age and a little wisdom, I find I have let go of many of the things that concerned me in my twenties. My focus has shifted, I know myself better and I am more comfortable in my own skin.

So, here is a snap shot of our days lately.

6.30 - 8.15 Nice slow mornings with breakfast, morning pages, getting dressed and ready for the day, tidying up the house and washing a load of clothes - then the last minute rush to get all three children out the door!

8.15 - 10.30 After walking Cohen (6) to school and hanging out the clothes, we do something just for Emerson (3) and Oscar (1). Perhaps a trip to the park, the library, the duck pond, a play date, or sitting around in the nursery building up blocks and letting the baby knock them down in fits of giggles, like we did this morning.

10.30 - 12.30 Oscar has a nap and I get to work on the things that are more difficult to do with a baby crawling around, while Emerson joins me or fulfills her love of Doctors and Pirates with 'Doc McStuffins' and 'Jake and the Neverland Pirates'. Quite often she brings her dolls to my workshop for tea parties, pram walks, or drawing time, while I try to fit in 1 - 2 hours of bench work each day, three times a week, (plus 1 - 2 hours a night, two to three times a week.)

12.30 - 2.00 We make lunch together and play some more, paint, read, jump on the trampoline, garden, I squeeze in some blogging, emails or web work and another quick tidy up.

2.00 - 6.30 The walk home from school is followed by homework, play time and baths. Then it's time to prepare and eat dinner.

6.30 - 9.30 Bedtime stories are a must, and once everyone is tucked in it's time to tidy up again, spend some time with my husband, make Cohen's lunch and our breakfasts for the next day, and then head down to the bench to do another couple of hours of work. I make sure I'm in bed by 9.30 as I know that Oscar will wake to feed three times during the night (more if he is teething or ill).

Here's to balance and rhythm. May it last! xx

Monday, June 22, 2015

Morning Pages - an everyday practice

1. Tea, pastries, library books and camellias from the garden - happy days
2. Busy nights at the bench
3. Dew drops like strands of pearls, in a spider's web in our garden

  1. Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing,
    done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–
    they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about
    anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes
    only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
    synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put
    three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow. - Julia Cameron
My first week of morning pages has been disappointing, and yet I'm committing to the daily practice long term. 

I've heard mention of 'morning pages' over the years from so many creatives that I admire, and after Pip's encouragement last week I committed to the daily practice. A morning routine that allows one to clean out their mind and allow for more creativity and greater focus throughout the day? A way to discover buried thoughts after hitting the magic three pages? A way to gain perspective, keep your thoughts on track and anchor new habits? Yes please! 

Pip advises that the key to successful morning pages is getting up early and getting straight to it. Rising early to have a quiet house to yourself. Only, I am not a morning person. I'm only awake before the sun because I have three early risers. I'm much more of a tea and blankets morning person, preferring to snuggle in and cuddle my babies for as long as possible. More often than not I will pop out of bed to boil the jug, grab my overnight oats from the fridge, and jump back in to bed. But I was prepared to change for my creative betterment.

And so I did on Monday morning. With tea and notebook I sat at the kitchen table in a quiet house. Then five minutes later all three children joined me and demanded breakfast. I scrawled a sentence here and there, but it was far from stream of conscious. I was coming down with a cold and Cohen was sporting a runny nose and a cough, so I declared a sick day. As the day progressed the cold got worse. Monday I did not write three pages. 

Tuesday I'd optimistically planned to awaken earlier and put pen to paper. However, at 11 pm Cohen had his first wheezing asthma attack and I spent half the night standing in his door way listening to his breathing. I slept badly and dragged my cold-addled self to the table and wrote my sleepy sentences at 5 am when the baby woke. We got the first available doctors appointment. I did not write three pages. 

In fact all week, despite my best efforts, I did not write three pages. I gave up sitting at the kitchen table and kept my book on my bedside table and wrote in bed if I could. I wrote with tea. I wrote with a baby on my lap. I wrote between making breakfasts, lunch boxes, changing nappies and wiping up spilt milk. I grumbled. I wrote in my pages, 'surely Julia Cameron wasn't envisioning morning writing with three children under six'.  

Looking over the week's pages I felt disappointed that I had not achieved my task of writing three pages each day. I wallowed in that feeling of failure for awhile. Then I made a greater realisation and found the positive. I HAD achieved something equally wonderful. I had managed to write everyday, despite what life threw at me. I might not have hit the magic third page, but each day I had written two pages and captured thoughts, ideas, to dos, memories, complaints, plans for new collections in fourteen handwritten pages I may not have written otherwise. And I felt good. And I committed to the practice. Maybe I will write three pages, maybe I won't. But I will keep trying, because an attempt is better than nothing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wholesale Catalogue Available - Yay!


Hello lovely readers, how are you?! My cold is passing and I am feeling much more ready to tackle the rest of the week (and catch up on my laundry.) Thank you for your well wishes and may you avoid such sniffles yourselves. I wanted to share a bit of exciting news - my work will soon be available in a few special bricks and mortar stores around Australia. Yay! 

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you will know that these past few years, rather than return to working for someone else in the jewellery industry after having my babies, I set up my own business that I could work on from home, around my children. Using my jewellery training and fine arts degree, I have focused my attention on designing and making collections that make my heart sing. Selling these pieces online and at markets like Finders Keepers has brought me so much satisfaction and joy. Fortunately I have years of experience working behind the counter in retail to draw on. Not to mention the book keeping and touch typing classes I begrudgingly took in high school with my Mother's encouragement, which have come in very handy after all. I have also learnt so much about running a business thanks to books, podcasts, blog posts and interviews, and I find it all fascinating in a way I did not anticipate. Long term, by the time my children are all in school, I plan to have grown my business baby to a level where it supports my dreams and provides my income. 

As such, I have thought for quite awhile about wholesaling in order to expand my business, have a greater reach, attract new clients and allow myself more time for designing and making. I've researched about it, read about it, listened to podcasts about it, created a wholesale line sheet, and still wondered whether or not I was ready to take the leap. When you work alone it can take a lot longer to figure these things out I find. You have no one to bounce the ideas off, or push you when you need pushing. Luckily life often gives me the push I need! In this case a retailer contacted me and asked to stock my pieces. And ta-dah, over-thinking over, wholesale catalogue updated and sent, order placed. Hooray!

I am continually excited about the growth and new directions my business takes. And so pleased to say that my wholesale catalogue is available to bricks and mortar stores that feel we would be a good fit! If that's you, email me at christina-lowry@hotmail.com Or if you are one of my lovely customers, keep your eye out at your favourite stores, as my work may be popping up there soon!

Thank you, as always, for taking the time visit my blog, read my posts, and support my creative endeavours. My gratitude is endless!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meeting Pip!


I'm right in the midst of a miserable cold at present, surrounded by tissues and cups of tea, and three sniffly nosed, fussy little people. Yesterday though, before the cold was released upon my household, I was blissfully unaware of my runny nosed fate. Rather, I was enjoying a day out in the City, where I met Pip Lincoln!

After following her blog for years, she was exactly as I had imagined her to be. I would very much like to discuss this little outing at length, but the constant sneezing and pressure in my head make even these few sentences difficult to write in a comprehensible manner. (How I miss cold and flu tablets while breastfeeding.) In brief, the lovely Kirsten was in conversation with Pip at the Brisbane library yesterday. While my husband kept Cohen, Emerson and Oscar amused at the Botanic Gardens, I joined 100+ women in listening to the insights and inspirations of one of the first bloggers I ever started reading. The Pip and Kirsten touched on topics from craft to confidence, blogging to business, inspiration to idea generation. It was such a thrill to be in a room full of like minded women and to finally meet Pip. I gushed quickly as she signed my book and recognised my name. Then it was time to join my family in the gardens.

I really enjoyed the talk and was excited to buy her book. I wrote a quote from the chat in my notebook, "dig deeper in to who you really are and enjoy being yourself." As a result of declaring today a sick day, I was able to stay in my pyjamas and read most of Craft for the Soul. And honestly, if you are a creative type, if you love Pip's blog, or you are looking for a shot of inspiration, you will love this book!

-

PS. Back in 2010 Pip did a blog tour and posted a tutorial on my humble blog, over here.
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