Friday, September 2, 2011

Paper Cuts and Glue Gun Wounds for the Sake of Prettiness

Every Monday, I keep vowing to be a better blogger. And then...I get all caught up in working on things for our wedding and suddenly, it's Thursday - of the following week.

So, now, I'm vowing to start this "betterness" in December (after the wedding and our Bon Voyage party). Until then, I'll just pop up with a few little Mandylynn musings and maybe a photo or two of my DIY creations...low resolution iPhone pics, of course. Le sigh.

Here are a few little glimpses to prove I'm not just sitting around eating macarons while my blog waits patiently for attention.

All of our party invites are being hand-drawn...and painted...and lettered...and stamped...and tied.
Oh, and wax sealed...

Our party will have a French patisserie color theme,
so I'll be covered in pistachio green and pink paint through early November.

My Paper Peonies. Only about 90,0oo more to make. :)
Hopefully, I'll be able to peek over the pile to say hello every now and again until the Winter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Favorite Poem

image via pinterest

A few nights ago, I was sitting at the dining table with Freckled Boy working on the invites to our pre-wedding Bon Voyage celebration (Future Un-Freckled Brother-in-Law refers to this as "the Preception") and somehow we ended up discussing a sad event.

When I was just out of college, my parents had a house fire and lost pretty much everything. Thankfully, they were safe from harm. But among the "everything" lost were 2/3 of my gigantic book collection. The parents were storing for me since I didn't have the space in my teeny first apartment.

With most things, enough time allows you to make light of things a bit and my mother always jokes now that all that paper added fuel to the fire. We laugh about it, because what else can you do really?

Anyway, back to the dinner table with Freckled Boy. He asked me if I'd replaced all those books. The truth was, after my initial sad shock, I began to realize that I didn't need to have them all around me. They had given me so much in the time we spent together - almost like a family pet, or the views from a long train ride in a foreign country.

There was a copy of one book, though, that I was elated to find shelved in a used bookstore a year or so after the fire. Tattered and slightly dust-infused, it was one dollar and I would have paid one hundred. It was the old 1970's college anthology, with a pink and brown municipal building-style generic seascape on the cover. The pages were what I call "bible paper thin". The version I'd owned pre-dated me by 10 or so years, so I was really shocked to find another. But there it was, the book where late in the night a 15 year old girl found her favorite poem.

I immediately jumped up from the table when I remembered and plucked it from our shelf just under Jason's favorite bottle of Gin. I hadn't opened the book in years, but the minute I did, it fell open to the poem. Apparently, I had also trained the spine of the replacement copy to go there from frequent use as well.

Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955)
The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Humidity Makes the Hair Grow Into Fun Shapes

Well, it's Summer in Atlanta. I think it has been since late February. All in all it's been an extra odd year for weather here. We had multiple snows (Northeastern friends, please don't mock. 6 inches is still considered snow if snow is present.) and then one day of spring and straight into the nineties.

My Summer project has been to grow hair. Don't worry, I'm concentrating on my head only. For years now, I've battled with the random waves that sprout and just opted to stay at chin-length so as not to frighten people and animals.

My hair has always had opinions of where it wanted to go and it normally was not straight down. But, lately, I've been finding out that maybe other people have this hair too. They've just kept it flatironed into submission. Suddenly, my wavy declarative hair is becoming the norm in ads and on runways. Really? Could this be true?

Stumbling around pinterest, I came across a photo of one of my fashion icons, Alexa Chung and sure enough, there it was, confused jumbled hair looking positively fashionable and dare I say sexy? I do. I say it. Look!

image via designcrushblog

image via

I'm positively encouraged, at least until I go outside. That's when what I call the "angel fuzz" appears. It's like a glowing hair halo of delicate frizz all around the top of my head. I only have hopefully 2 more months of this, so in the interim, I'm entertaining these delightful solutions: The poster is just for inspiration, I won't wear it. I don't think...)
1. & 2. Asos
3. funnelcloud
4. Birchbox

Also, check out this adorable post about the sticky stuff. It enlightens you on how to say "humid' in Japanese. Apparently, it's not only regulated to Hotlanta.

Scheduling Creative Time

Looking back over my blog, I find a lot of tiny cries for help woven into my posts. I know that I'm very much at a point in my life where a shift is necessary, and I seem to be constantly implying the question, "How?".

I've always kept my creative impulses separate from my work life. For a long time this was intentional. I liked to think of painting or crafting as an escape of sorts from a stressful week at work. Now, though, across the threshold of thirty, I no longer feel okay with working in an environment where there are no paintbrushes.

The trouble is, I've already spent a small fortune pursuing what I now refer to as a "Dinner Conversation Degree" at a women's college in lieu of a sure thing scholarship at a now world-renowned art college.

So, in the meantime, I stare longingly at Etsy shops and blogs and the people running them who made the quintessential choice to take Adobe classes and spend summer semesters in Italy painting that now have entire days free to devote to doing what they love.

I'm not entirely gloomanddoomwoeisme negative Nancypants about it all. I do have plans for change, but they have to wait until after the wedding and a little bit of savings account cushioning have happened.

In the meantime, I'm curious about those of you who juggle a 9-5 with your glitter and glue. Do you work on a schedule or just try to create when the impulse strikes? I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and then go into hiding. It must be stopped, and for now, time management and even ...ugh... some type of allotted time to create seem to be in order.

What's your daily schedule look like?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Money Can't Buy Me Love or Doe Eyelashes

I can't even begin to remember how many times I've heard the praise of a certain cult favorite mascara. You know, the watermelon-colored tube one? Or the blush from NARS with the title that makes one blush more. For the product-obsessed, certain items are mentioned so often they conjure up images of magical instant glamour. "Poof!", one swipe and you glow.

I once knew a beautiful Australian flight attendant, married to a wealthy Italian man who flew to Rome and Milan every week for work. If all that wasn't enough to induce a bit of envy, she had eyelashes that were so lovely, I was convinced they must be the result of a magic potion of some type. When I asked her about them, she replied, "Lancome".

Working in the spa industry, I had occasionally spent upwards of $150 on a skin care product, $40 on a conditioner, $13 for a bar of French soap, but for some reason had never really broken the $20 mark on mascara. I just couldn't do it. Not when I knew the watermelon tube was lurking at my pharmacy for five bucks.

The truth is though, that watermelon tube never did anything except separate my already puny 15 eyelashes into slightly less puny clumps of 3 eyelashes.

Finally, last month, a mere eight years after hearing "Lancome" in an Australian Italian-inflected accent from my gorgeous friend, I looked the other way and spent $32.

I planned a romantic evening for just the two of us. Me and my new shiny black tube of amazingness. I poured a glass of wine. Turned on the lamp on the vanity to a warm glow and then discovered that my coveted dream product made my lashes look like I'd glued clumps of charcoal to them. Sigh.

Lesson learned. Some people just have good lash genes. Alas, I am not among them.

The moral of this tale? Work with what you've got and don't buy into the hype ;)

The good news - I have naturally high cheekbones. The Nars product? I'll take two please.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Playing Ostrich

Wednesday seems as good a day as any to pull my head out the sand and say hello again.

I've always been someone who is easily overwhelmed. Sometimes, in the case of chocolate or creme brulee for example, this is wonderful. One bite or two spoonfulls and I'm in a blissful heavenly state. But...other times, I think it keeps me from fully realizing my potential in things or fully experiencing the present.

Whenever I start to get busy with my calligraphy or illustration projects, instead of being excited, I panic. "I've got a full-time day job. I'm planning a wedding. I to paint my toenails with glittery polish and read War and Peace. I just can't do it!" And Etsy site goes on "Vacation Mode". I turn away offers to do fabulous projects and end up sleeping my afternoons away in hiding.

Oh, and I neglect my blog. Why?

Why can't I learn to be "one of those people" who can balance tout le monde tout le temps?
So many of you out there in blogland seem to have perfected the work life balance thing with time left over to look super-cute and drink lattes on patios. I realize that's what's nice about blogging. We can choose only to share the lovely things and perhaps omit the pile of mail, the pile of laundry, the pile of piles.

But nevertheless, advice would be appreciated. And it's lovely to see you again. Perhaps we can share a latte. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

If My Blog Were a Plant

If my blog were a plant. It would be angry, like this one:

It would blame me for weeks of neglect and I would feel terrible.

Fortunately, my blog is a blog and if you're still reading this, maybe you aren't making an angry plant face and are as happy to see me as I am to see you again here in this little square of interweb.

So, what's new for you?

I actually finally purchased the table I mentioned a few posts back, finished a TON (or at least 75lbs.) of calligraphy projects AND had some fun engagement pics taken as an early wedding gift by our friend and fabulous photographer Lyndsay Sweeney.

So, back to you...anything new and exciting happen during my disappearance?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beer Animal Trivia Time

Just a quick post to check in and let you know I'm still among the living. The last week or so has been superuberverymuch busy. Hopefully, things will slow down a bit soon. I have lots to share.

For now though, I leave you with these. See anything? I do.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vanity Update

I mentioned earlier in the month that I was looking for a vanity so I could stop sitting in floor every morning and feign some glamour and intrigue.

I think I've finally found it...and I'm kinda pretty much super really excited, because it's big enough to have a little desk space too. Well, technically it is a desk.

Obviously, it's not a traditional vanity per se, but I love the idea of mix and match and think this would look great with some bold color or silver metal boxes and a simple black or burnt orange colored mirror. Or maybe one like this:

There are even cute little pull-out surfaces on both sides. I'll probably use these for fresh flowers and fan mail, love letters from other celebrities, my various Academy Awards and Nobel Prizes and maybe some Twizzlers.

Oh...and I think I must also have this chair. the little wooden "x" on the back is made of curved wood from Vietnam. It was also important to me that the chair tuck completely underneath when not in use, which this does perfectly. It shall be mine.

Here's a (grainy) pic I took at the store so you can see how they look together. I realize the weathered natural look is not for everyone, but I think it's fun to match the masculine with the feminine if you will, so there you have it: Vietnamese work table turned girly makeup station. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Images of My Weekend

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~J. Lubbock

we forgot the dish scrubby thing. so, i made one.

sunlight and leaves make Freckled Boy drunk-eyed with happiness

or so Herman Melville said...

sometimes it's good to be reminded of your smallness among things

kinda hard to see: he's holding a sign that says:
"I'm Mossome." hee hee.

the end.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Necessity of Playing in the Dirt

There are so many things to love about living in a busy city. You can have Vietnamese food for lunch and creme brulee for dinner, see the opera on Friday and a Monster Truck rally on Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

I live in an area just outside Atlanta where I walk to and from work, the bank, the grocery store, the yummy frozen yogurt place, the local pub, the other local pub, the post office, music venues, boutiques, art galleries, the Thai restaurant, the French Restaurant, the BBQ restaurant, the Organic Farm to Table Restaurant, the get the idea.

I love love love it that I'm so close to everything, and surrounded by such diverse and lovely people.
But sometimes...

I just want to watch the leaves flutter without hearing the hum of traffic or the coming and going sounds of those lovely people. I want to be without an agenda. I want to count ants. I want to think about life before the interweb and gps, and mp3's and mpg and so on and so forth.

This weekend, I will do just that. (:
I hope that you all have something beautiful planned as well.
Enjoy! See You Monday.

Every day, on my way home, I walk through Sycamore Park where Freckled Boy and I had our first date (and he later proposed). Sometimes, the view makes me grateful that I'm using my feet to walk and not to press a gas pedal.

I Dream of Food

My calligraphy class was canceled last night due to a sniffly instructor, so I did a little practice at home.

My apologies for the grainy iPhone pics. I have a May resolution to only use my actual camera. (I usually substitute birthday resolutions for New Year's ones and on Seis de Mayo, I turn 31, so the time is near.)

I wrote out a bunch of yummy fake menus last night while eating a black bean burger and mac and cheese from a box. (I wasn't eating them directly from the box. They were cooked first.)

It might have been more fun to write out elaborate flourishing junk food menus. Doritos Flambee avec Twix Petit Fours anyone?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mirror, Mirror, Leaned Against Stuff...

I'm a grown up. At least that's what the IRS tells me. But every morning, I'm still sitting in the floor, legs crossed, applying mascara as though I were 14.

It's time for a change.

I think the fun part about having an Etsy shop is that I get to view the earnings there as "fun money". Maybe one day, I'll become wildly successful and will suddenly see the profits from my necklaces and calligraphy as a serious source of income, but for's for beach vacations (Coming soon! Hooray!) and...drum roll..."Grown Up Furniture".

That's right, it's time for a vanity.

The question is, do I go all girly with Venetian glass and atomizer perfume bottles or search vintage shops and find a restored bright lacquered writing desk with a big carved wooden mirror and dot it with tiny sculptures from my travels (can you tell I've thought about this a little?), or one with sleek modern lines and chrome accents, or ......oh, options. It's like the cereal aisle. Toooo many choices.

Do you use a vanity or lean over the sink every morning? I think you should get a vanity too (Boys too. Why not?) if you don't have one. Wear a robe around and sip expensive French tea. Talk in strange accents and complain to your agent (cat, dog, whomever) that you simply must book this year's trip to Monaco before the masseuse arrives. Or, um, you know, drink your coffee and fix your hair.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Project - Illustrated Recipes

I usually like to sleep late on Sunday, but the lovely light I spied coming through the windows today simply said, "Don't be silly. Get up and enjoy the morning." So, I did just that.

Today, I finally some time to work on a project I've been excited about for some time. If you're anything like me, you have recipes folded and tucked into cookbooks, sticking out of random kitchen drawers and on the backsides of empty ingredient boxes you refuse to throw away. Not only is it frustrating, but often it's unfortunate, because the recipes lying sad in the dark drawer next to twist ties and scotch tape have been passed along to us by someone very important in our lives, occasionally, someone who is no longer around - someone we remember every time the warm smell of cinnamon drifts out of the kitchen during the holidays or when we slice into a thick tasty lasagna. Sooooo, I want to save them from the disgrace. My friend Heather from the blog Kitchen Nerd was kind enough to lend me a very special and sentimental recipe from her collection to illustrate. She loves bright colors and has a quirky sense of humor like me, so I tried to work that into the finished product. What do you think? I'll be offering custom recipe illustration in my shop and can't wait to see what semi-secret family yummies people share.