As you know, my calligraphy hobby is turning into a full-on obsession. I started off first using brush pens and markers, which are so much fun. But my favorite calligraphers are old-school and use dip pens, so I wanted to try it. I had a rocky start, but with practice, I’ve gotten better at finding the right amount of pressure and ink flow!
Weirdly enough, I’ve found that writing on agate is so much easier than writing on paper. The nibs are so sharp that they tend to tear and stick on paper. But on these smooth glass surfaces, they just glide.
These are place cards I’m making for Austin’s sister’s wedding, which is in April. She got an assorted set of 200 agate slices. The ladies are getting Ph. Martin Silver ink, the guys are getting copper plate gold.
Last year I got my mom into succulents. It was as easy as signing us up for a holiday succulent wreath workshop at the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City. That was last December, more than a year ago, and my mom’s succulents from that workshop are still alive! (Mine died probably a month after the class.)
Mom and I went to another succulent workshop this past weekend, this time at the Will Rogers Gardens in Oklahoma City. It has a gorgeous greenhouse that garden staff use to host classes – when it’s not being used for weddings!
This workshop was called the “Heart-y Succulent Wreath Workshop” and only cost $40 per person. In our experience, we’ve found that classes run by city or county parks are much cheaper than classes put on by private nurseries and stores. The materials are just as good. Actually, in this case, Mom said she enjoyed this workshop more, because she liked the quality of the wreath better.
The Will Rogers Gardens’ naturalist and horticulturalist who taught the workshop said they bought the heart-shaped wreaths from Topiary Art Works in Kansas. The wreaths were filled with sphagnum moss, which succulents love. They were soaked in water and ready for planting when we arrived to the workshop.
We were given about 14-15 succulents to work with, all from the Sempervivum family – also known as “hen and chicks.” They’re some of the heartiest succulents, and can even withstand the brutal winter weather – but it’s not recommended that you leave them outside until the spring.
Basically, all we had to do was make holes in the moss, and stick our succulents in right where we wanted them. It was an easy class, but a ton of fun.
This would be a simple thing to replicate at home – it’s just a matter of getting all the materials you need: a wire-formed wreath, a bunch of sphagnum moss, and several dozen succulents.
Care for the wreath is pretty simple, too: keep indoors during the winter, somewhere with at least six hours of indirect sunlight. In the spring and summer, keep it out of full, direct sunlight. To water, simply soak the entire wreath in a sink full of water for about 15 to 20 minutes every three to four weeks.
Mine’s on the left, Mom’s is on the right – she says she’s going to put a ribbon bow on the top left, so she left it bare
If you’re curious about the other plants in the shot, they’re called Cuban Oregano. The Will Rogers Gardens’ horticulturalist said they had too many, more than he knew what to do with, so we got some for free! They smell amazing. But no, they’re not succulents.
We *think* we are finally done decorating our home… a year-and-a-half after moving in! We have been talking about putting up a gallery wall since we bought the home. We finally did it!
My boyfriend, Austin, travels pretty regularly as the International Operations Manager at his company, an engineering consulting firm here in Tulsa. He’s been all over the world – five out of the seven continents (all but Australia and Antarctica!), and while he only has his iPhone on hand, he comes back with some pretty decent photos.
To make this gallery of ten photos, we purchased this set of nine simple black frames with white matting on Amazon for $68. The frames are 12 x 12, and with matting, show photos that are 8 x 8. Since most of the photos we printed were taken from Austin’s Instagram page, they were already square. I printed them at our local Walgreen’s, which now has an 8 x 8 photo print size!
But of course, that was only NINE frames, and we needed ten! Austin came up with the genius idea to buy a separate frame that he found at Target for about $12. Up close, they are not identical. But far away… can you tell which one is the odd frame out?
Austin’s mom’s birthday is coming up, and while she’s relatively easy to shop for, we wanted to do something special. Austin suggested buying her power tools (WHAT) and I promptly shut that idea down.
I have been wanting to experiment with calligraphy on different media, so I suggested doing some custom work for her. I came up with the idea of writing the fruits of the spirit on some agate-slice coasters. We found these beautiful blue coasters on Amazon. At $60 for six coasters, they’re pretty pricy, but the reviews were excellent and we didn’t want to risk buying a bad product. They were perfect for this project – gold-rimmed and in assorted colors and sizes.
First, I had to check and make sure the metallic brush markers I have were waterproof on glass. Luckily, they are. I use Bianyo Metallic Brush Marker Pens, which have some gorgeous colors and write like a dream. Because there were only six pieces, I couldn’t write all of the fruits of the spirit (also – I had to Google “what are the fruits of the spirit), but we’re pretty pleased with how they turned out. Excited to work with more agate surfaces in the future!
UPDATE: We finally reupholstered the piano bench! Shoutout to my main man and his staple gun, and Hobby Lobby’s clearance fabric section.
ORIGINAL POST: My boyfriend Austin loves surprises. Loves them. Not necessarily getting them, but giving them. Rewind to about a year and a half ago, when he bought a house in midtown Tulsa, and we needed stuff to fill it with. Both he and I had played piano in our childhoods, and he knew we both missed practicing. One day, he surprised me with a piano he’d gotten for free from a friend of a coworker.
Isn’t it beautiful? The Instagram filter helps. I love how beat-the-hell-up this piano looked. There were nicks and scratches all over it, and the legs are loose. Inside the piano bench, someone left their autobiography, typed out in double-spaced 14-point font. No joke. It’s still there and on my reading list.
While I loved the texture, the color of the piano blended in with our hardwood floors — in a really bad yellow-gold kind of way. During one of Austin’s work trips, I painted this bad boy. News flash: it’s just as easy as everyone says.
OK honestly though, we need to talk about how you people act like there is only one god and that god is named Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Well, shut that commandment down real quick because first of all, that stuff is impossible to find. According to the Annie Sloan website, the closest store to me that sells it is in Claremore, a town 45 minutes away from Tulsa. Secondly, it costs a bunch of bitcoins and your first-born for one can.
Surprise: other chalk paints exist and they work just fine. I bought a can of Rustoleum Chalked Paint in Charcoal at Home Depot for less than $40. I used about 2/3 of it.
Some blogs I read said you didn’t even need to sand your piano before painting it. However, I assume those bloggers did not own a piano from the 1720s that has been to hell and back. There were so many chips and nicks on our piano that I was getting splinters just looking at the thing. I definitely felt like I needed to sand every surface (except the back). A few sheets of fine-grain sandpaper worked fine. This part took me and my little arms about an hour.
After sanding, I wiped it down with a wet cloth and let it dry for about 10-15 minutes. THEN — I started painting. I didn’t couldn’t move the piano very much, just pulled it out a few inches from the wall, enough room for me to paint the sides.
I spent about two hours painting the piano on the first night, then let it dry overnight. On the second night, I spent another two hours painting the more intricate parts, like the inside of the fall board (the part that covers the keys and then folds back into the piano when you want to play/see the keys) and the music rack, which has a lot of decorative cut-outs and required some time to go over with a smaller brush. I also went over most of the surfaces with a second coat on the second night. All told, it took about five hours (not counting dry time) to complete.
And behold, it no longer blends in with our floors! [Plz ignore the handheld vacuum thx.]
Next project: reupholstering that fugly bench. #vomitburgundy
Whiskey is decidedly a winter dog. We adopted him a year ago, on Dec. 20, and we’ve associated him with Christmas ever since, whether he likes it or not. This morning we woke up to a cozy, bright blanket of snow in Tulsa.
After doing some weather.gov research, we realized Whiskey actually might have seen snow on the ground at least once before in his life, but we didn’t document it on social media, so did it truly really happen?
Enjoy some photos I took with my Nikon D60.
my first trip to Eureka Springs was in November 2015 — Austin and i had only been dating a few months, and our friends the Fitches invited us to split a cabin with them for a weekend. we had a blast, and i’ve been dying to get back. only about two-and-a-half to three hours from Tulsa, Eureka Springs is the perfect weekend getaway with great food, great shopping and really nice locals.
our opportunity to visit Eureka Springs again came just in time! we went to attend the wedding of our friends Brooke and Brandon. we met the couple when i first moved to Tulsa; Brandon lived in the same apartment complex — on the same floor — as Austin and me. one day, my cat Bianca darted out of my apartment and straight into Brandon’s. his cat Oscar was not happy. anyway, we’ve hung out with Brooke and Brandon from time to time ever since. this really sweet couple got married at Thorncrown Chapel on Friday, with a reception at Crescent Hotel’s Crystal Dining Room.
Austin and i have typically booked lodging outside of downtown Eureka Springs; we’ve found it to be much cheaper and a lot quieter. we’re thinking of booking a bed & breakfast closer to downtown next time, but this really cute little cottage off of Highway 187 did the trick for us this time. it cost just $129 a night (compare that to Crescent Hotel, which was $339 a night. no thank you!). it’s owned by a sweet woman named Annie who owns a store in downtown Eureka Springs called Annie’s Boutique. the one-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage is a few hundred yards from her home.
the cottage came, of course, with the sweetest little fat cottage cat named Shadow. he greeted us every morning with his raspy little meow, and demanded tummy rubs before we went inside for the night.
Shadow the cat
Shadow in the grass
i took a lot of pictures with Shadow
we spent Friday celebrating the Carusos. on Saturday, we had brunch at Mud St. Cafe and did some shopping downtown. then we spent about an hour hiking at Leatherwood Lake City Park, a gorgeous park with a ton of campers and people fishing in the clear water.
Saturday night we went on the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour (which was super cute and fun but a little overpriced at $22 per person). it was a 75-minute tour that led us around the hotel, from the fourth floor to the morgue in the basement.
after that, we had dinner at Cafe Amoré based on a recommendation from the bride. last time we visited Eureka Springs, we waited for about two hours at Ermilio’s, a famous, beloved Italian restaurant. not wanting to wait that long again, we tried Cafe Amoré instead, and we’re so glad we did. the food was incredible — i ordered the cheese tortellini with pesto sauce. it melted in my mouth like butter. Austin ordered the lasagna, which he really liked, too.
what a great weekend. we ate the best food we’ve had in a long time, got so much sleep and bought some really nice gifts for Austin’s parents to thank them for dogsitting Whiskey. the only problem … i really want a cat now, more than ever.