Anniversary Mountain Get-Away

June 1st marked our third year together as a couple and our first year of cohabitation. After missing our last anniversary due to work we wanted to something special, special and within a reasonable budget. We considered our options and since flash floods eliminated any camping possibilities we decided to go to our favorite place nestled in the heart of the Smoky Mountains: a lovely little house homed by one of the most successful couples we know, Jared’s grandparents. It might seem a bit unconventional but I can think of no better way to celebrate our time together than by being with two people who have made it work for over 64 years of married life.

DSC01458

Surrounded by rows of flowers and a lovely garden, their home is a lovely respite from our routine and a wonderful chance to spend time with some of our favorite people. I have been treated like nothing less than family since I was first introduced to them – I’m even referred to as their “adopted granddaughter.”

20180531_193406

Our plans settled, we packed up my truck on a Thursday afternoon and headed to the Mountains. When we finally emerged from Atlanta traffic and started entering more rural territory, I could feel myself start to untense and relax. The sun was slowly beginning to settle into evening and it cast a beautiful golden haze on the landscape, illuminating the mist and gilding the trees. Every mile that rolled by seemed to melt away any pressures or anxiety that remained.

We got to spend some quality time with Ma and Pa and rejuvenate ourselves as well. Adjusting to their daily schedule proved quite beneficial; we went to sleep earlier, got up earlier, and had meals earlier too. That alone added hours to our day. Every day we had tasty homemade country meals with farm fresh veggies. Ma even took us to the local produce stand where she gets said veggies, and of course I managed to pick up a new plant to add to my menagerie. Later, we drove into town and toured an art walk in the historic square. We even had time between trips to work in our sketchbooks.

DSC01357

Something about the atmosphere and probably the lack of responsibilities made it a lot easier to focus on art. Stepping back from our daily lives and adjusting the perspective helped me shake off insecurities about my art. If you make art out in the middle of the mountains and no one is around to judge it, does it matter if its good or not? With this in mind I was able to concentrate on the parts I liked. I’m one of those weirdos that actually enjoys watching paint dry – I love seeing the color-laden drops get sucked down into the fibers of the paper and how the touch of a shadow suddenly adds dimension to a subject. Suddenly, I enjoyed making art again and I didn’t care how it looked. Okay, I cared – but at least not to the detriment of my momentum.

20180602_153525

Interestingly enough, working on art again did something to my state of mind: I felt happy again.

Not to say I was extremely unhappy to begin with (perhaps a touch of ennui) but I started to feel whole again sitting at that table painting a rundown rock shop. It was like I was missing a part of myself and I hadn’t fully realized. This feeling of completeness in turn was also making me a better partner to Jared. Feeling incomplete left a raw edge on me; I would get irritated more easily at insignificant things and I had a hard time letting go of things that bothered me. It’s like your brain is trying to fix what is wrong but can’t find the source of the problem so it vents that energy into really dumb things.

Though we both still have a lot to work on to be as great a couple as, say, Ma and Pa, being true to ourselves and our art is definitely a big step in that direction. This trip was exactly what we needed it to be and I look forward to more years ahead.

DSC01451

Best laid plans.

Excuse my French, but ding dang darn doodly, this past week has been crazy: we drove home from our trip to the mountains, painted and decorated a room in senior living facility, and I made a painting for my friend’s book cover.

20180605_134752

4.5 days later we have a whole new space

So let me backup a little and explain.

BEIGE

BEIGE

Recently, my mother asked for help with furnishing a space for her adoptive aunt, who was to be moved into an elderly living facility. Recently as in three months ago – there have been some technical difficulties. Things finally started moving and Jared and I got the green light to work on the room, which happened to be the day before the trip we had planned for our anniversary. We had already done so much prep work in the previous months – designing layout, gathering furniture and decor items, picking out paint colors – that we figured the 5 days we had to work in the room should be plenty of time to get it all together before my great Aunt moved in.

so much beige!

Beige nightmare

Spoilers: we were still decorating when she arrived. This worked out though, as she seemed enjoy all the bustle happening around her.

Like most of my carefully detailed and thought-through plans, I may have been a smidge bit over ambitious with this project. I had a master list so what could possibly go wrong?

hustle! hustle! hustle!

The studio *was* clean

Well, while chatting with my friend I remembered promising him a piece of art for a book he would be selling at a convention and, as it turns out, his deadline for getting his book to the printers was quickly approaching, so there went 24 hours. Also, it took the better part of five days to finish painting the room after I had planned on it taking maybe 7-8 hours tops. My project list quickly became less manageable:

  • Paint the room and the bathroom
  • Upgrade a simple Ikea night stand with paint and stain
  • Upgrade Ikea bed frame with wood stain and build a padded headboard
  • Paint couch sourced from goodwill to bring it from an intense floral to a soft neutral
  • Sew some pillows for the couch in matching fabric from the headboard
  • Create a backdrop focal point over the bed
  • Make some decorative art for the room
  • Arrange a gallery wall of art and objects from her home
  • Upcycle a large wall clock with clearer numerals
  • Sew curtain valances and an under sink curtain
  • Install easy lift, light filtering shades for the windows
  • Plants for the windowsills
  • Add lights to closets and kitchenette
  • Put all lamps on a remote power switch
  • Build a simple desk/table
  • Anything else I can think of

The highlighted bits describe the timeline:

Green is a task we handled before we even got into the room,

Blue is a task we worked on in the room before my aunt arrived,

Red is something we did day of or after she got there, and

un-highlighted things we have yet to do.

Strike through portions are things that I decided to pass on / weren’t going to work out.

20180605_173700

ahhhhhhhh.

Despite the chaos, what came together is quite lovely. My Aunt is an incredibly sweet and feisty lady with a unique personal style I have always admired. She spent a large part of her life working in Africa and I am so glad I was able to  incorporate her aesthetic and items into the room. With my mom benefacting the venture (within a reasonable budget), I was able to gather and thrift the rest of the furniture items and work on them to fit my Aunt’s style. Even though I didn’t get everything done that I wanted, the space we created for her was exactly what it needed to be: a breath of fresh air and a cozy place for her and memorable items from her home.

I really enjoyed the process of designing, even with the bits of chaos in between. I am incredibly proud of what was accomplished and my aunt seemed to enjoy her new space as well. I have several diy project tutorials to share now as well, so stay tuned!

Along with leaving no fibers behind, Wooster roller brushes make excellent pillows.

How tired am I? 10. Ten tireds.