Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oh L'Amour...

L'Amour 8 x 10

I'm sure, after looking at my latest print, it is pretty obvious that I have love on the brain, since celebrating my wedding anniversary last week. Luckily, with Valentine's Day just around the corner, my new print is quite appropriate for my shop.

Not all of my tattoo inspired illustrations (that I'll be slowly adding to my shop in the next few months) are going to be super frou-frou, but I just couldn't help myself with this one. It says 'L'AMOUR' and has an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem behind it... It deserves to be frou-frou, don't you think?

Although, to be honest, the poem I wrote is What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, which isn't particularly a romantic poem as it is just about the saddest thing ever -- but it is my second favorite poem (my #1 all time fave being The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson, which is even less appropriate considering that it is even more heartbreaking) and, as I'm a hopeless romantic, it suited me just fine.

Actually, I wrote an 8 page paper on this poem in college and I think I cried the entire time I was writing it. Especially when I got to the part,

"....but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;"

Isn't that just beautiful?

Here... let me post the whole poem for you all to enjoy - and cry over. Sorry, but it just has to be done.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Ah... boo hoo hoo.

Okay, so on with my latest print: L'Amour. Super girly in all its pink, purple, and magenta with hearts, roses, vintage text, and a sob-worthy love poem... Makes you want to drown your sorrows in the box of Valentine's chocolates that you had to buy yourself because your un-romantic hubby forgot it was Valentine's Day, huh?

I love the background which was a messy collage of ripped up and painted vintage text with my scribbly scrawl across it. I hope you like it too!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eyeshadow Model Extraordinaire

Okay, so I'm not actually an eyeshadow model... but I got to play at being one the other night and let me tell you, it was a lot of fun.

I completely lucked out while browsing the Etsy forums a few weeks ago. I came across a thread started by Lela, of the shop Glitter Sniffer, calling out for people to model her eyeshadow for her shop pictures.

I was more than thrilled to volunteer, as I'm always game to deck myself out in glam-fabulous make up and snap some photos. And since I hadn't actually done that since high school, which was 10 years ago, I figured I was due for another photo shoot.

It was fun. Very, very fun. And the brilliant and wild colors she gave me were just awesome.

I don't know if she'll pick any of my photos for her shop, as there were a bunch of us who volunteered and received samples.

And hopefully it isn't too obvious that I don't actually know how to model eyeshadow. Heck, I don't even really know how to apply the stuff and usually resort to following the directions on the back of the package.... not to mention that my daily make-up regime is circa 1998 when I bought a pack of neutral Cover Girl shadow. I have added one shimmery, ice blue eyeliner to my 10 year old make-up regime, but I'm sure it makes me look about 15. I'm not going to lie, though. I love ice blue, shimmery eyeliner. It makes me happy.

Last night's eyeshadow testing photo shoot gave me a chance to go crazy and have fun on a Saturday night when I would ordinarily be lounging around on the couch in flannel pajamas watching a movie with the hubs. Thanks, Lela, for giving me a chance to play around instead of watching Office Space for the 100th time!

Looking for some intense, pure, and cruelty-free vegan eyeshadow made of 100% pure minerals? Look no further than Glitter Sniffer at http://www.glittersniffer.etsy.com. Her wild colors were so fun to play around with, but she has lovely, neutral mineral eyeshadow as well. Something for everyone.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kids and Christmas

Christmas 2008 has come and gone and the tell-tale signs are all over my apartment in the form of masses and masses of new toys, coloring books, crayons, and all the leftover bits of packaging - including hundreds of those annoying twisty-ties that make removing Barbie from her box just about impossible. I think the toy industry is trying to extend the holidays by making it take a minimum of three hours just to remove one item from its package.

I've always loved Christmas best of all the holidays. Actually, I say that for every holiday. Last month, Thanksgiving was the holiday I loved best of all the holidays. The month before that, Halloween was the best holiday of all the holidays.... (My birthday is coming soon and I think that is my REAL favorite)

But Christmas just seems like the best holiday right now. And having kids and celebrating Christmas is the best part of all. Yes, it got a little annoying these last few months when Gracie asked on a minutely basis, "Can I have {insert whatever is being advertised on the TV} for Christmas?" But I got her back these last few weeks by hanging "Santa is watching you so you better be a good girl," over her head.

Santa/Good behavior blackmail is awesome.

There is nothing quite like the excitement of Christmas morning, when all the presents come unwrapped. The girls had the best time opening their presents. Even underwear is the best present ever when it comes wrapped in snowman covered wrapping paper.

It seems to me like the older generations in my family - the ones whose kids are now grown - think it is really funny to give my girls the loudest, most obnoxious singing toys ever created. What's up with that? Will and I have our own personal No Noisy Toy policy, but that doesn't extend to gifts that the girls receive from other people.

My family must be trying to get me back for something - though I'm not sure what about - as we now have several new noisy toy additions to our teeny tiny apartment, including a keyboard that meows all of its songs (thanks for that, Mom) and a bilingual cheerleader doll whose high pitched cheers pierce my brain - and this one is Annelie's favorite, so I'm hearing Spanish cheers all day long... and we don't even speak Spanish.

The best present I got was a two-part present - The five days of kid-free hubby time for our road trip to Memphis (which was awesome) and now, the five days that my mom is keeping Gracie with her in Austin until New Years. Merry Christmas to me!

I haven't had only one child at a time to look after since we moved away from my family 6 months ago, and I am loving it. Annelie loves being an only child too, but her favorite part of the day is calling Gracie on the phone. They spend about 8 minutes just saying, "blaaaah" to each other and laughing their heads off.

So our holidays are over now and they were fab. I hope you all had a LOVELY time as well!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

OnThe Road Again....

Our 1st date:
The Cliffs of Dunraven Bay, Brigend, S. Wales

Tomorrow is our 4th wedding anniversary and Will and I are going back to our early relationship roots and celebrating by taking a long-awaited road trip.

Will and I met in Ireland in the middle of February 2004 - sitting next to each other in the Dublin Airport. We arrived at the airport the night before our early morning flights (all the hotels in Dublin were booked, as there had been a huge rugby match that day) and we ended up chatting with each other for 10 hours straight. The thing we realized we had in common right off the bat, was our love for road trips. We exchanged contact information and from that moment on, we spent every weekend for 4 months road tripping around the UK together. And, as my study abroad program was only 3 days a week, our weekends were 4 days long.

Best college experience ever.

Taff Merthyr Colliery
Treharris, Taff Bargoed Valley, S. Wales

Our first trip together will always my my favorite. There is nothing quite like that awkward, yet exciting, first date... and ours was two days long.

Will was showing me The Vale of Glamorgan, and had planned the entire weekend with all the sights of South Wales to make it a memorable first trip to his country. He picked me up from my host family's home in Bath and we drove straight to a coal mine... if that isn't the perfect first Welsh experience, I don't know what is!

Ogmore Castle, Brigend, Wales

That day, we visited a few castle ruins, the cliffs of Dunraven Bay, had lunch in the pub where he had worked while he was in college, met up with his friends for a night out on the town, and stayed in a Welsh bed and breakfast - which was actually just someone's house... we even ate our Full English breakfast at a table in their living room while they watched TV. We ate burgers and chili cheese fries at an American diner in Cardiff (I was feeling a bit homesick), and then went to the Museum of Welsh Life before he dropped me back at home.

Best first date ever.

Date #3 picking me up from the train station
- sign says Yankee Doodle - haha, very funny.

The rest of my weekends were much the same as we traveled all over Britain. Hiking in the Lake District, walking along the coast of Brighton, down slate mines in N. Wales, to Snowdonia to see the resort of Portmeirion. We saw Stonehenge, walked all over London, and he drove me around all the villages he loved and past all the houses where he had grown up.

Portmeirion, Gwynedd, N. Wales

Our anniversary road trip this week isn't going to be exactly like the days of driving through the English and Welsh countryside. For one, we wont be watching the baby lambs frolicking through the green fields or stopping for Chinese take-away (they are best in the UK, trust me) or fish and chips with mushy peas. And of course, driving through the southern US, isn't quite the same as the British countryside....

But we will be listening to a lot of Beatles, Nat King Cole and Elvis, just like we used to. Are we excited? OH YEAH! Just to be alone for 5 days is one thing, but to be alone in a car, with the music cranked up, stopping at gas stations for chocolate bars and root beer, and eating a lot of take-aways, just like the good ole days of our early relationship, has us both giddy with excitement.

We are dropping the girls at their grandma's tonight, so we will be kid-free for the first time in 3.5 years... and we are going to Graceland, which is the #1 place Will - a HUGE Elvis fan(atic) - has wanted to go his entire life. I'll have pictures to show off, just you wait!

So off I go. I wont be blogging again until after Christmas, but I hope you all have a WONDERFUL holiday! Happy Christmahanakwanzaka to all!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Sock Monkey Mermaid and Some Tattoo Art

Mara the Mermaid Sock Monkey
8x10 and 11x14

After spending last month doing nothing but writing, I've had itchy fingers to draw again. I still have those cupcakes from last months contest to illustrate and I can't wait to sit down and draw them, but after getting some customer requests, especially for more sock monkeys with a fantasy look, I wanted to get this done first.

So meet Mara the Sock Monkey Mermaid, as she sits pretty at the bottom of the tropical sea. When April of Apple Blossom Designs suggested a mermaid monkey illustration, I was a little hesitant... sounded strange to me. Luckily April has more vision than I do, because I think Mara the Mermaid turned out pretty cute. Thanks for the inspiration, April! I couldn't have designed her without you!

And at another customer's request, I have a sock monkey princess and a sock monkey fairy all ready to be colored in. They are going to be adorable and I can't wait to give them some color!

Sweet Swallow Tattoo
8x8 and 10x10

And I'm a little bummed that this one doesn't scan in nearly as pretty as the print is in real life. Something off about the pink and the blue.... I have no idea why. The print is much more vibrant.

Anyway, I'll have a whole Sailor Jerry style tattoo collection in the new year, as I just can't get enough of the classic tattoos. They are so cute!

Hope you like the new prints! My shop is closed for the moment, as we are leaving town for the holidays tomorrow and I'm supposed to be cleaning and doing laundry - ugh - but I'll add the new prints anyway, and be ready to resume business on the 27th of December.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Handmade Ornament Exchange

I've never done a crafty swap before so I was excited when Andrea, one of the girls from my street team, the Fabulous Artistic Moms (FAM) - which is the street team that helps me keep my sanity on a daily basis, as it is full of other crafty mamas who cope with kids while running a crafty business - decided to organize an ornament exchange.

I was excited to make Christmas ornaments, as I've never done that before, so I designed a Santa Sock Monkey mini print just for my swap.

I love being crafty and my fingers were itching to get a hold of my glue gun, scrapbook paper, and some glitter. All the ornaments have a generous sprinkling of holographic glitter across the top, as glitter makes the world go round. And there are two little jingle bells hiding under the green ribbon. Glittery and jingly - nice and festive.

Too bad I forgot to make one for myself. I think I might need to have more Santa Monkey prints made so I can make some for my own tree.

I think they turned out pretty cute. Hopefully everyone in my swap group agrees! And I hope you are all enjoying your holidays, so far.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Early Morning Gymnastics

On the weekends, Will and I take turns sleeping in. If I sleep in on Saturday, he gets Sunday. The girls like it best when Will is the one who has them in the morning. I'm a grouch, and still half asleep until cup of coffee numero 3 kicks in at about 10:30 am. Generally, I pass the girls some toast and then stand in the kitchen with coffee in hand until the caffeine is running strong in my veins. They don't think I am any fun at all.

Will, on the other hand, cooks lovely, big breakfasts - breakfast tacos being the usual tradition - and the girls have the best time with him. He always lets them do stuff I don't let them do.

This past weekend, it was early morning gymnastics. I awoke to see the girls both in swimsuits - oh sorry, I mean leotards - practicing their jumping off the couch and sticking their legs out... just like the gymnasts in the Olympics.

We live on the second floor of our apartment complex... jumping is not allowed. And, as it is the middle of winter, I don't generally let the girls run around in nothing but a swimsuit. See what I mean? I'm no fun at all.

My girls are so talented. Just look at the dedication and concentration as Annelie stands on one leg. I give her a 9.8.

Our downstairs neighbors must seriously hate us.

I can't wait until the girls are older and I really get to see which hobbies they love and want to stick with. Perhaps one day, Gracie or Annelie really will be in the Olympics (although I do not see myself as a big hair-do and too much make-up wearing gymnastics mom). In the meantime, I think it is pretty cute to see them posing in their swimsuits - ahem, leotards!

And I make Will answer the phone all day so that he is the one who gets shouted at for all the thumping.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Babies!

**Disclaimer: for those of you who thought, based on the title, that this was going to be a post about how I wanted more babies... please be rest assured that there will NOT be another crazy Hopkins in the mix anytime soon. Three kids are swell, I'm sure, but I wouldn't be able to handle the insanity.**

"More babies!" is what Annelie shouts every night at bedtime.

Annelie and bedtime rituals have been on the annoying side since she was past the days of actually sleeping (like, at 6 months or so) and I'm going a little bit nuts here.

I had hoped the worst of it would have been when we first moved to Abilene this past summer and she was cheerfully harassing me at all hours of the night by fake sneezing in my face {remember this post?} or just the other night when when she gave Gracie her first black eye {remember this post?} when she was supposed to be happily tucked in bed. We finally moved Gracie in with us last week because the poor girl wasn't getting any sleep at all as a result of Annelie sitting on her head.

But the other night, when I just couldn't handle Annelie and our bed time ritual of taking a bath, having a warm milk bottle, reading Goodnight Moon and saying 'goodnight' to just about everything on Earth, and then spending the next two hours chasing her around the house and getting her to lay back down (she even knows how to remove childproof doorknobs - how? I'm not sure. Perhaps she was MacGyver in her past life) - I came up with the brilliant (read: desperate) plan of surrounding Annelie with all her 'babies' and then covering them all with her blanket and saying goodnight.

Wanna know what? It worked. Annelie didn't move a muscle. She just curled up with her babies and went to sleep. It was a MIRACLE!

So now, all bedtimes are preceded by Annelie chanting 'More babies!" while I cover her with every stuffed animal and doll in the house. My fingers are crossed that this will keep working for the rest of her life, but, as I'm slightly more realistic than that, I figure I have maybe another day or two before she goes back to her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, bed-time self.

But my favorite story is when my mom was visiting last weekend and went in to check on Annelie after she had fallen asleep, only to find that, besides being surrounded by her babies, Annelie had also tucked an entire case of diapers around herself and was happily snoozing away.

Funny how, when they are sleeping, you actually forget how annoying they can be - if only for a second.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oh, Captain Wentworth, How I Love Thee

I just finished reading Persuasion (again) and *sigh* I am hopelessly in love with Captain Wentworth. Don't get me wrong, my husband is great... but Captain Wentworth.... *swoon* how I love you!

I'm a huge and happily obsessive Jane Austen fan. Love the books, love the movies... love everything about the Regency Era in general. I was so excited to do my study abroad in Bath, England back in college, and couldn't believe my luck that our class field trips were to the places that Jane Austen frequented and wrote about.

And my absolute, without a doubt, favorite book of hers is Persuasion. I read it each time in agony - does Captain Wentworth love Anne still? or will he marry Louisa Musgrove? will he ever forgive Anne after eight and a half years? or is their love hopeless?

And of course, who can resist that love letter?

Gah, not me!

Luckily, Will is super understanding of my Captain Wentworth obsession, although he thinks Mr. Tilney from Northanger Abbey is the best of Jane Austen's heros. Its pretty awesome how I persuaded Will to join the ranks of Austen lovers.

Wasn't hard to do, actually, as who doesn't love Jane Austen? {if you don't, please don't tell me, or I may cry} But I do think it is pretty funny how, after watching one of the Jane Austen movies, Will usually spends the rest of the day talking in an old English accent - though I hate to tell him he sounds more Shakespearean than Regency.

And funnier still, when we were married, he brought his wedding suit with him from England, and I didn't get to see it until I was walking down the aisle... to discover, low and behold, he was wearing a cravat. A cravat! This was before he knew about my Jane Austen obsession (some obsessions are better left a secret until after the wedding) and before he knew that cravats, along with Regency heroes like Captain Wentworth, are on the list of Things That Make Marisa Swoon.

He said it was just a typical English wedding suit. Isn't it just so appropriate that, to this day, the typical wedding suits of England are fashioned after the most romantic era ever?

For Captain Wentworth lovers everywhere, feast your eyes on these fabulous Etsy finds:

Feather Quill and Paper Set - Traveling Chariot

Make sure your letter is fashioned after Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne, of course.

Love Letter Picture Frame - Red Bird Road Design

So you can dress your man in a cravat, have him write you a love letter, and then frame a picture of his Regency hotness.

Okay, maybe not -- but worth a shot, eh?

And just before I go, let me obsess for a minute over the mighty fine Captain Wentworth (played by Rupert Penry-Jones) from the 2007 Persuasion. So far, I haven't been completely satisfied with any film adaptations of the book... but this Captain Wentworth is by far my favorite.



Thursday, December 4, 2008

NaNoEDMo: This Girl Has Got A New Goal

As if the pressure of NaNoWriMo wasn't enough... I've learned that March is NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) and with it comes the encouragement to pick up that red pen and let a nice little community of writers tear your manuscript to pieces.

Am I going to participate? You betcha. Am I terrified?

Uh, yeah. Very.

So far, besides my Creative Writing class in college, and my high school English teachers, NO ONE has read my stuff. -- Actually, that's a lie, as Will read a paragraph over my shoulder the other day and nearly lost a limb as a result. I'm hideously insecure.

So that's why I'm going to push myself to participate in EdMo come March. That gives me 3 months to get this story finished and suck it up for some major revisions. I've bitten all my nails off just thinking about it!

I'll keep you all posted. I'm scared, but excited to reach my new goal! And if you want to find out more about NaNoEdMo - or if you have a finished, but unedited manuscript laying around and want to join in, be sure to visit their website {BY CLICKING HERE}.


Monday, December 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo... The Last Update (Get Out the Confetti, Baby!)

So, I'm going to toot my own horn here for a minute, because, after typing 141 pages (aka 50,000 words) for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - I feel completely entitled.

Yup, that's right. I DID IT!! Whooo boy, I'm exhausted. This has been the longest month of my life, as my days have all been from 8am until 3am. I think I will need a solid week of hibernation to recover.

I have to say with complete honesty, that if it wasn't for you lovely and encouraging readers and all the comments you left me throughout the month, there would have been no way I could have finished.

Especially not last week, when I was thousands of words away from being done and I hit a brick wall. My sweet, funny and tough-as-nails main character turned on me. Completely out of the blue, without giving me anytime for preparation, she morphed into a wimpy character I didn't like. I was crushed and it took me days to figure her out.

Between popping endless sheets of virtual bubble wrap {CLICK HERE} and watching goofy, random videos on YouTube { you've gotta CLICK HERE} - I'm the ultimate time-waster - I sat down and had a chat with her. I'd previously known everything about her, from her favorite band (Jack's Mannequin) to her favorite food (Fettuccine Alfredo). I thought I knew how she would handle any situation that came her way... but I didn't and she became a stranger to me. When you are trying to crank out hundreds of pages about a character, it helps if you know them, ya know? And I was ready to quit until I got more encouragement from all of you to keep on typing. So I did.

Luckily, after three days of character soul searching and pages and pages and pages of deletions (arrrgh!), she got over her funk and morphed back into the girl I knew and loved. Hurray. I was off and it didn't take long to knock out the last 15,000 words.

My story is far from being done. I still have about 50-75 thousand more words to go, and then I have a million years of hardcore editing when that is done. Remember I said before that I have never written a book and I have no idea what I'm doing? I meant that.

But I'm still feeling pretty awesome. Here are some Etsy items that sum up my feelings of awesomeness.

Hate Mail - Did You Expect a Parade?
- Junk Yard Greetings by Carol Lee Designs

And yes, I DO expect a parade! Bring on the marching band!

Thanks again for all of your encouragement!


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