Sunday, April 26, 2015

When things look fancy, but aren't (+ how you can have fancy things too!)

I really wanted new artwork for our dining room, but couldn't find anything unique within budget (which was pretty much non-existent...Billy literally laughed when I asked him what our budget for artwork should be).  

We do own one piece of legit, fancy art.  An original Diana Hsu watercolor framed behind archival glass.  Its on my short list of things to grab if my house is on fire. 
(after my children, of course :)  

Here it iPhone camera doesn't do it justice:

I bought this back when I had a (paying) job, no kids and could do luxurious things like drink wine and buy artwork at art fairs on a whim.  Those are days of the past.

My new idea for procuring a masterpiece for our dining room came after Max asked if he and Sully could sell some of their paintings.  So I let my little entrepreneurs give it a shot.  Standing out on the sidewalk with a little sign and their art, they were so hopeful.  
I couldn't believe the amount of people who stopped.  A FedEx driver, neighbors, businessmen in sleek black cars, mom's in vans...all picking out their favorite painting and giving the boys $2.  One person mentioned that he couldn't tell the difference between their paintings and some of the abstract pieces he'd seen at art shows. Hmm...if you didn't know who painted it maybe they could pass in a modern art gallery to an untrained eye.

Their paintings sold-out in about an hour, but I put the dudes back to work.  
"Hey, want to make some for Mommy?" I asked them.  
They were excited to have commissioned work :)

Here's the result hanging in our dining room.  If you tilt your head and squint a little it almost looks fancy, right?  I mean...if I told you I bought these at the Plaza Art Fair you might believe me.
I paid $2 for each painting and $40 total for the IKEA frames.  My masterpiece for $48!  Plus the boys are super proud.

Here are some tips for commissioning work from your own little artists:

1) Pick the palette.  I knew which colors I wanted so I limited their palettes to those colors only.  My goal was for the paintings to look like a unit, so giving them each the same colors (and hiding the others) helped achieve that.

2)  Give a little direction.  When they asked for input I let them know if I thought an area needed more green, yellow, etc.  And I also let them know when I thought it looked "perfect".  Watercolors can get really muddy if you let the artists keep going so I gave them I new piece of paper before the one they were working on got too overworked.

3) No need to buy the super expensive tubes of watercolors, but  we did  take a step up from Crayola.  We used a Windsor-Newton set of watercolor tubes which was about $10.  

4) Definitely get special watercolor paper.  It makes a huge difference.  And the 12x12 sheets fit perfectly in the 20x20 Ribba frames from IKEA.

5) I'm considering getting some of the non-reflective glass cut for each frame because the glare is kind of distracting and it will help protect the artwork from fading.

There you have it!  Fancy artwork that is literally priceless.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


"We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors...we borrow it from our children."
~ Native American Proverb

Happy Earth Day!  We've been celebrating all week and talking about ways we could be kinder to our planet.  Instead of throwing a party like we did last year and the year before, we challenged ourselves to do one earth friendly activity each day this week.  When I asked the boys for ideas on what we should do, Sullivan's first suggestion was... 
"Let's pick up all the GLITTER!!!"

Sullivan calls all trash on the ground "glitter".  
"Yes, I see, someone LITTERED, " I always emphasize in my reply.  
But,'s still glitter to Sully.  

The way he says "Oh no, someone glittered!" in a horrified, how could a person do such a thing, voice always makes me smile. You better not glitter or Sullivan will make you feel awful about it.  He's the glitter police.  And he'll point out every. single. piece. he sees on our way anywhere.

For as often as we talk about the glitter we see, we haven't often done much about it.  "Yes, that should have gone in the trash..." I say as we continue on our walk.  But this week in honor of Earth Day our apathetic regard for the trash we pass came to a stop. And we started with our beloved Trolley Trail. 

"The Trail" as the boys call it is the path we take almost daily in good weather.  It leads to the market, our favorite Mexican restaurant and many friends houses.  It is frequented by runners, dog walkers and strollers.  For as busy as it is, it happens to be fairly clean, but there's always room for improvement.  So Monday the boys picked up their "grabbers", put on their mud boots and were ready to conquer the trash...

It was like a treasure hunt!  They had a contest to see who could pick up the most and the largest piece of litter.  People would stop along the way to give them a high-five or wave "thank you" as they ran by.  The boys felt like little super hero's saving the planet. We came home and sorted everything into our recycling bins.  It was cute to see them feeling so accomplished :)

The boys' other ideas for the week included getting books about the earth from our library, planting seeds and handing seed packets out to their friends, among other things.  Here are a few of the things we've done so far this week... 
Snack time/work time.  Gluing a special message on each pack of seeds.

Planting seeds in their root grower they got for Easter.

Reading new library books about the earth.
 We have a few other things on our agenda this week and plans to implement some ideas into our regular routine.  It's fun to see the boys getting involved and making their own little strides to make the world a cleaner and better place.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Easter

Egg hunts, baskets and candy aside...we had a very meaningful Lent and Easter full of hope and lots of family time. We phased out the bunny this year and read real stories about Easter each night before bed. The big boys had their first (mini) experience with Lent and even Fletcher received ashes for the first time on Ash Wednesday (such a sweet and solemn thing to see a baby wearing ashes).

We, of course, enjoyed all the other parts of Easter too!   New Easter jammies (is that a thing for everyone?), good food and endless, unsupervised candy consumption :)
Fresh kiddos in new pjs on Easter-eve!
We didn't tell the boys that there was no bunny, we just didn't really mention it at all in the weeks leading up to Easter. Max had his suspicions last year anyway..."Mom, is the Easter Bunny that comes to our house a man in a bunny costume...or is it a real rabbit like from our backyard?"   I did the classic "What do you think?" mom answer, because, really, both of those options are kind of creepy.  At the same time I didn't exactly want to say there was no bunny.  I mostly didn't want to ruin it for other children...because if I told Max matter-of-factly that the Easter Bunny doesn't exist he'd be declaring it from the rooftop at preschool for sure.  So, subtle is the way we decided to go.

At any rate, baskets appeared outside their doors on Easter morning. And they didn't care how they got there :)
Sully showing Fletcher his vintage top.
The hunt is an awesome excuse to climb on furniture.
{the green tape is where our built-in bench will go, yay!}
Surveying their loot...coins, M&Ms, tootsie rolls, cheddar bunny crackers.
Pleased with the return :)
I think the vintage tops got the most attention.

 After sorting through their new fun things.  We headed to Mass.
Walking the wall is always a must.  It takes longer to get inside, but its waaay more fun this way :)
A quick iPhone photo in the courtyard.
We arrived early to listen to the horns and the bell choir from the balcony.  The boys just danced and danced until the service started.  So sweet.

Here's a look at the rest of our celebrations...
Meyers family Easter at The Vintage House.
Murray family Easter at Mimi & PopPop's house.
PopPop laying down the rules.
Fletch wasn't in the mood to hang out with anyone except his big cousins :)
Aunt Lisa helping Max find eggs.

 Early Easter celebration at Lolli & Boobo's on Saturday...
Lolli and Boobo and their brood.
 It was a happy Easter for all :)