Colors // The Almost-Christmas-But-I-Still-Have-Finals Blues

The semester is almost over, which is wonderful and shocking all at once. Unfortunately, the last round of midterms is currently underway, and finals are approaching quickly. 

It seems like the only time I ever post here during the semester is when I should be studying for an exam, but would rather do something else. That's exactly what I'm doing now (I won't even attempt to deny it). 

This is a time of emotional turmoil for college students. The holidays are so close... and yet, we are still stuck on campus to finish the most grueling part of the semester. Thankfully, this is also a fun time for us. I'm participating in what seems like a million secret Santa exchanges (okay... only two), Christmas lights are going up around campus, and reading days are almost here, which means I'll have the excuse to go into the city for "study breaks." 

Still, I can't wait to go home. See my dogs... and the rest of my family too, of course. Until December 20th though, I'll be here at my desk. Slaving away to earn that piece of paper that society likes to call a diploma. Woot.

Anywho, I had fun putting this little collage together. I think there may be more colorful posts in the future. Of course, who knows when that will be, given my tendency to disappear from the face of the blogosphere while at school.

Good luck to all my fellow slaves to the university system students. And to all the normal folk living in the real world, how are things going out there? 

Defining Hipsters and Counting Blessings

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking in downtown Philly with my roommates. I think we were grocery shopping at Reading Terminal Market (which is too crowded for effective shopping in my point of view).

Anyway, on this walk, our conversation wandered to the topic of hipster-dom. The central point of this conversation was, "What makes a hipster a hipster?"

The definition of hipster ranged everywhere from "people who do drugs," to "people who wear way-too-skinny skinny jeans." For me, the definition of a hipster is reflected in my drawing above. Strips, thick scarves, cardigans, glasses (fake ones), bangs, cute (but not something I would wear) head adornments. 

Frankly, I'm pretty sure I'll never know the true meaning of hipster, despite going to school surrounded by "hipster-ish" peers. I think I'll settle with my generalized opinion and call it good. 

On a different note, I've decided this week that I need to keep better track of the good things that happen to me. So, here's a quick list of things I'm thankful for that happened this past week:

1. I got to go to H-Mart (a Korean grocery store) and stock up on Korean food! I'd been craving it so badly since I got here, it was getting kind of sad.

2. I had the opportunity to have some really meaningful conversations. This is something that really doesn't happen in a college schedule unless you make time for it. Thankfully, I've had some time.

3. I'm surviving my course load! With 23 hours of class a week, I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold up... but almost a month in, and I'm still kickin'.

4. I started watching Pushing Daisies for the first time, and I'm rather smitten by it.

5. I got to go to a very fun concert with one of my dear friends. I'd never heard of David Wax Museum or The Last Bison before, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it!

6. I got to babysit! And not only did the family have kids (duh), they also had a dog!!! (No lie, the dog might have been more exciting than the kiddos). 

Those are just a few of many good things that happened this week. I'm hoping that by taking time to recognize these things in my life, I'll appreciate them more. Simple concept, right?

What are you thankful for this week? And also... how do you define the ambiguous label of "hipster-dom"?

Illustration Inspiration: Irena Sophia

Look at me go! It's Saturday afternoon, and not only have I already gone grocery shopping–I've also managed to sit myself down to finally publish this blog post. :0)

Today I'd like to introduce you to the work of Irena Sophia. She is a Croatia based artist who creates  really soft and calming pieces. I personally really enjoy taking in all the different textures in her work. 

I had seen a few of her pieces on Pinterest, and every time I saw one, I could tell it was the same artist. I finally found her on Etsy! I think it says a lot about an artist's talent if they have a very recognizable aesthetic, which she definitely does.

To find more of Irena's work, check out her Etsy shop, blog, and of course, her Facebook page

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

In Which There is a Recap of the Week, and Lots of Random Thoughts

Finally finished the second week of classes! It's been a full week. Monday was our first freshman Bible study meeting. This is my first time leading a study, so I'm really glad my friend Melanie is co-leading with me. It'll be an adventure, but I'm excited about it.

I also visited Blick Art Supplies in Center City (Philly) for the first time with a pal of mine. Oh-my-goodness. Talk about the best store I've ever been to. The plan had been to duck into Blick and then go clothes shopping... but we ended up spending two hours there, and I spent way too much money to even think about buying clothes. Oh well. That can wait, I suppose. Who needs clothing when they have art supplies?

Anyway, those were probably the two high points of my week. Class has been good, and I know at least one person in every single one, which is really a blessing. It stinks to have to go to class and not have someone to commiserate with later (this becomes especially important around midterm season). 

One random thing. The word "midterm" has got to be the most misleading word, EVER. Before last year, I assumed the "mid" in "midterm" implied one exam in the middle of the semester. Turns out at Penn, "mid" does not imply "one." Oh no. It implies "two," "three," or if you're really unlucky "four." WHAT'S UP WITH THAT??? This is something that has upset me in the past, and will likely continue to upset me until I the day I hold that diploma in my hands. 

As for the lettering at the top of the post, I made that last night. Yes, that's exactly the kind of thing I do on a Friday night. The fact that Penn is the "social-Ivy" (read "boozey-Ivy") is totally lost on me. While the rest of campus is out hopping the frats, I'm usually in my room either doing homework, or doodling while watching a TV or listening to music. Last night, I was listening to the Civil Wars' new album. It's so good, which is such a tease considering the band is basically on the rocks at this point. 

And that has been my week. With that, I will raise a toast to a happy weekend for all of you. And by "raise a toast," I mean actual toast. Like bread. Because that's just how I roll.

The Whole Kit and Ca-Doodle {4}

School has started, and class is in full swing–which is why I've dropped off the face of the blogosphere in the past couple of weeks. Between moving into my new apartment (and helping my roommates move-in too), scouting out classes, and reacquainting myself with Philadelphia, I've hardly had anytime for anything besides feeding myself. Thankfully, it's Friday and we get a long weekend. Thank God. 

Somehow I have had time to do some doodles. I've started what I think will end up being a series of picture frames with simple doodles inside. I really like how the watercolor backgrounds accentuates the kind of stark, simple quality of the ink work. 

Of course, the question now is, what should I doodle next in the series? Feathers? Maybe leaves? Fruit? 

I suppose that waits to be seen. Chances are I'll think of something while sitting in my chemistry lecture. Just kidding. Thermodynamics is so riveting, I'll have little time to think of much else. (That should be read with a healthy heaping of sarcasm.)

Happy Friday, everyone!

"Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established."
Proverbs 16:3, ESV

Illustration Inspiration - Danielle Green

For this edition of "Illustration Inspiration," I am happy to present the work of Danielle Green. Danielle is an artist based in Brooklyn, and creates these wonderfully quirky (and cute!) watercolor illustrations.

While prepping this post, I asked her where she draws her inspiration. Here is Danielle's answer:

"I get my inspiration from nature, animals mostly. I enjoy imagining what it would be like to be those animals and what I would do if I was them. Going to zoos, aquariums and museums inspire me greatly as well. I also love my cats, Gus and Bruce they make me happy and that inspires me to draw and paint."

How fun is that? I love finding out the inspirational processes of different artists. It's just plain neat. ;0)

If you want to find more of Danielle, you should definitely drop by her Tumblr, her portfolio, and (of course) her shop. There's tons to gawk at on all three! I just spent a good chunk of time looking through her portfolio, myself. 

Meet Koko Koala

I'm currently working on three design projects. This little fella', who I have dubbed Koko Koala, is something I'm working on for an Etsy Shop design. It's my first time really using my hand-illustrated work for a design, but I'm excited!!!

Here's Koko romping through the Alaskan forest. Okay, all nonsense aside, I just wanted to show off what he looks like after digital processing. This is what I do when I'm up too late... which is just more proof that sleep is not something to take for granted.

Have a good night!

Illustration Inspiration - Naoko Stoop

For today's "Illustration Inspiration," I'm pleased to present Naoko Stoop. Naoko is a New York based illustrator, and get this–she's self taught! As you know, I am a total fan of self taught talent. :0)

As an artist, Naoko's goal is to bring out the 5 year old in everyone through her work. I would say she captured the spirit of a child very well in her whimsical illustrations. Many of her current works feature this red knit cap girl (and her bunny companion).

I really love the stories told through every one of her illustrations. Speaking of stories, Naoko actually has a new book coming out this fall! Be sure to keep an eye out for that. I'm sure it will be beautiful.

To find more of Naoko, you can check out her shop, NaokosStoop; follow her on Twitter; or peruse her blog. Also, here's a link to her children's book, Red Knit Cap Girl, which released last year. 

And before I go, a big "THANK YOU!!!" to Naoko for allowing me the privilege to feature her work here today! 

Goodbye July... Hello August

These are just some photos from the past week. My cousin was in town, so we had a whirlwind sort of weekend as we tried to cram in as much of Alaska as we could in 4 days. I'd say we did quite well in giving a fast and furious tour of the last frontier.

I am now free from my summer job, and this has been my first week without any real obligations. It's kind of a weird feeling. Hopefully I can finish everything that needs to be done... but if I don't, I suppose it won't be the end of the world. 

On a different note, this summer has been absolutely gorgeous. We've had high 70's and low 80's almost non-stop, which is practically unheard of for Anchorage summers. It's such an improvement from last summer (and all the other summers the past few years). I'm just doing my best to soak it all up before I have to hit the road for the start of fall semester. Ugh. Makes me kind of cringe just thinking of it. (If you're a college friend reading this... I love you. I just hate the workload. It's not you, it's the homework.)

Anyway, I hope you all are having a fabulous week! 

Illustration Inspiration - Deidre Wicks

You know the kind of cute that makes your heart kind of ache (in a good way)? That's the kind of cute sprinkled all throughout the work of Deidre Wicks. 

As you can see, she specializes in adorable animal watercolors, and sells prints (and originals) in her Etsy shop, Water In My Paint

I am currently trying to decide which of her numerous squirrel prints to purchase for my apartment next semester. My school is chock full of squirrels, and I'd love to pay tribute to that. Right now, I'm thinking of getting this cutie. Of course, it's a very hard decision to make.
What strikes me especially about her work is that she is extremely talented at blending realism and whimsy–all in one go. I absolutely adore her work, and I hope you do too.

To see more of Deidre's work, you can visit her portfolio, or her Facebook page

The Whole Kit and Ca-Doodle {3}

Here's a quick sketchbook update from the past couple of weeks. The style of my doodles has a pretty large range, mostly because I'm experimenting with different looks at the moment. I'm really liking the boldness of my new micron pens. It's a good, clean look.

Of course, you can't go wrong with a good old HB pencil either. I just went back to the basics with these two.

And then there are these little guys. They were lots of fun to draw. You can't tell from the photo, but three of them have little fur detailing on them. I have to say, the unicorn is my favorite.

On a different note, my summer job is officially over. I am definitely going to miss seeing the little camp kiddos everyday. I didn't think I'd be sad to be done with work, but I am. Working at the camp was a total blessing from God.

Now that work is over, I have time to finish my quilt project (maybe); hang out with my fam-bam and friends; and also to do my summer homework for Cru. I'll hopefully be leading a freshman Bible study this next school year, and I have to do some leadership reading to prepare for it. 

I just know the last bit of summer break is going to fly by... and I honestly don't know how I feel about that. 

Anyway, I hope you all have a beautiful weekend! Rest up. You deserve it!

Blog Commenting Systems (Or How I'm Like a Golden Retriever)

via ChelseaDogs
I've been blogging for a year and a half, and in that time, I've used four different commenting systems. For the first few months, I just used the default Blogger system, mostly because I was a naive little blogger and had no idea that other options even existed. 

Since then, I've used IntenseDebate, Google+, and (now) Disqus. I liked InstenseDebate, but switched to Google+ to give it a go. After being blocked from responding to many comments, I decided that I didn't like not having that ability to interact with readers. So, today I made the switch to Disqus.

I honestly have no good reasoning behind this switch other than that it is the most widely used third-party commenting system for blogs. (Basically, this indicates that if all the other bloggers jumped off a cliff, I would too.) Plus, you can log in with FB, Google+, and lots of other good stuff. That means it'll make commenting easier, I hope. I kind of hated how Google+ didn't allow non-Googlers to comment. How elitist is that?!

Unfortunately, the comments from the IntenseDebate and Google+ eras didn't carry over... which is kind of sad. So... I think you all should go back and redo all your comments. (Kidding, kidding!)

But seriously, do any of you have a preference for commenting system? I have read lots of articles, but frankly, I feel like a golden retriever trying to fetch multiple tennis balls, all at once. I enthusiastically pick one up, and then drop it at the excitement of finding another. Sigh... Blogging problems.

Anywho, I have to go clean up around the house (and that's a real world problem). I hope you all had a happy Tuesday! 

Illustration Inspiration - Victoria O'May Alves

Lately, illustration has been on the brain. I've been down many internet rabbit-holes, learning more about the illustrator community. It's exciting to find new artists, and I will be featuring these illustrators from time to time here on the ole' blog. 

Today, I would like to introduce Victoria O'May Alves. She is an artist based in Spain who works in pen, watercolor, etching, and many other forms of mixed-media. 

I was really excited to find her Heart on a String etching in her shop, Oh'May. I took a studio course last semester in intaglio printing, so etching is something near and dear to my heart. 

She has lots of other prints and original paintings in her shop, and she keeps a beautiful blog called Oh-May. If you have time, you should definitely take a look. You can also look at her Society6 shop here.

If there are any particular illustrators you are interested in, please tell me! I am always delighted to find new work to gawk at. 

I Just Started My First Quilt!!!

This Sunday, I went to the fabric store and bought fabric to make my very first quilt. Goal number 10 in 20 Before 20 is to learn how to make a quilt, and that is exactly what I am doing. No lie, I am super excited about how it is turning out.

Before starting, I spent a lot of time searching for patterns online. I'm glad I invested time in doing so because it helped me to pick up a few techniques. I ended up using this tutorial from Blue Elephant Stitches for the blocks. 

I ended up modifying my technique a little by sewing strips of 2.5"x5" fabric together, and cutting the strips in half to make the rows. It's just easier and more efficient... I'll post on that technique later, because I don't think the way I wrote that made any sense. The kids at camp are sucking out my brain cells–I swear it!

Another helpful resource for me has been Elizabeth Hartman's Practical Guide to Patchwork, as well as her blog, Oh Fransson!.

I haven't sewn since last summer, but it sure feels good to be at it again. I imagine cutting and ironing could be a chore; but I've been watching Downton Abbey simultaneously, so it doesn't seem too repetitive of a task. It's a wonder I haven't cut or burned myself yet... being distracted as I am by that show.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

The Genius of The Family

Last week at camp, we made magazine collages with the kids. In between helping them cut and paste, I flipped through the magazines, just to look. Most of them were National Geographics from the 1970's, and boy did I find some gems in there! 

I ripped out a few of the pages with my favorite pictures in them, and cropped them once I got home. I have a whole wall in my bedroom dedicated to photos, magazine clippings, and other paper goods that strike me as pleasing. (I hang them up using artist's tape, in case you're interested in making your own wall.)

It seems a little silly to spend so much time decorating my room because (a) I only live there for maybe 4 months out of the year, and (b) it is admittedly super messy a good portion of that time. Oh well. I'll ignore common sense on this one.

This particular clipping is my favorite. It's a Polaroid advertisement from the 1970's. I was going to just cut out the camera, but I really liked the context that the advertisement text gives to it. Plus, I can totally relate to the part about being "the genius of the family." (Just kidding!)

Psalm 40:16
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvations say continually, "Great is the Lord!"

The Bear Paw

This week the Bear Paw Festival rolled through town. It definitely has a small-town feel to it, but I still enjoy going to it on an annual basis. 

This weekend, a few of us went downtown to watch the parade. As you can see, there were go-carts, "Little Sebastian" ponies, and of course a troop of bagpipers. After all, a parade without bagpipes would not be a parade at all, now would it?

Early on in the day, I found a lost cellphone on the ground. I ended up managing to return it to the owner, and she was so grateful she gave me five dollars (I tried to give it back, but she insisted). Later, I passed by this booth full of cute handmade accessories. I ended up buying a pair of turqoise-colored fish earrings with it. The best part is they only costed five dollars!

The earrings were made by Love Nugget Designs, an indie-handmade business based in Palmer, Alaska. Laura, the owner of the shop, is on Etsy and sells tons of adorable (and stylish) accessories–at a great price I might add. If you have time, you should visit her shop here!

I wish you all a wonderful start to the new week.

Hidden Treasures

My sister and I have recently started geocaching. In case you don't know, geocaching is essentially a treasure hunting game. Geocachers world-wide leave caches in various locations, and provide the GPS coordinates to fellow finders. Then, using the coordinates, players go and search for the hidden container. It's tons of fun, and I'm surprised I haven't ever done it before! 

In Alaska especially, a great deal of the caches are hidden along hiking trails and mountain-sides. So, we get a good hike, as well as the sense of adventure that comes with hunting for hidden treasure. 

This past week, we went out to some local trails and found a couple of caches along the way. We had a blast, and encountered lots of wildlife (including a grazing moose!). As you can see, we took a lot of photos along the way.  :0)

If you're interested in trying to go geocaching, all you need is a GPS enabled smartphone and an account on There are lots of apps out there that work very well. On Android, my sister and I use C:geo. It's free, and easy to use–so get out there and start finding caches!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Proverbs 2:4-5
"If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." 

Geeking Out About {12} // Arrested Development

Links to Stores:
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 

Wow! This was a very long week for me. At work, I felt like "No touching!" became my catchphrase. I kept telling the kids not to touch the art in the museum, the stuff they found on the floor, the sticky stuff on the telephone poles, each other... you get the idea. That's what inspired this round-up, at any rate. 

All of these artists are on Etsy, and I heartily encourage you to visit their shops. Each of them has their own sense of style, and just lovely things to purchase. 

I wish you all a wonderful weekend! If you find a Bluth's Banana Stand laying around, let me know. We could split the $250,000 lining its walls between the two of us. We don't even have to split it equally. I'd be quite tickled if you gave me even 10 percent. 

The Whole Kit and Ca-Doodle {2}

I just wanted to share some of my sketchbook entries from last week. We spend the week out on the water fishing. Prince William Sound and all of the little otters I saw were the inspiration behind this one.

I am also on an animal kick. I used to feel like drawing animals was kind of juvenile–but I've recently decided, I don't really care if it is. My life could use some immaturity every now and then. I am kind of jealous of the dapper fox's sweater. No lie.

And finally, the fancy giraffe. His banner isn't painted... and I don't know that I will. That's the best thing about sketchbooks. There's no pressure to have everything look like perfection.

I thought it would be worth noting that I'm using a new sketchbook now. I tore through my Molskine cashier sketchbook faster than I thought I would (which completes 20 Before 20 goal #4!), and had to buy a new one. 

Because I'm left handed, I don't like spiral bound sketchbooks. They just make my hand sit all funny, and make my wrist uncomfortable. So, I bought an Art Alternatives hardbound sketchbook. I really like it so far. The paper doesn't feather, and it holds up to watercolor washes quite handily. Plus, I was able to use a 40% off coupon since I got it from Jo-Anns, and it only costed me $6! I think it has 100 pages in it, so I'd say it was quite a good deal–and I'm a sucker for a deal. :0)