New Works In Progress

work-in-progressWell, it’s finally here…it’s the last Friday before my daughter heads back for a new year of school. I’m equal parts relieved that the Summer is over (I can just never get quite enough done), and sad that it’s come to an end. One thing I’m looking forward to is more time to focus on working on finishing a heap of illustrations that I’ve only just sketched down onto paper. I can’t wait to see how they’ll take shape. I’m sure a few of them will be making an appearance in my new shop (more on that soon)!

Now I’m off to enjoy the last few vacation days with my daughter! Have an awesome weekend friends! xo Ez

Frond Memories

palm-frondYesterday we drove down the coast for a bittersweet day trip to Santa Barbara. We went to say farewell to my sister and brother-in-law who are moving back East in a few days time, and to squeeze in some precious memory-making with my grandparents. I guess it’s par for the course with this stage of life, but I find myself thinking about time a lot more than I used to. Not so much the tangible ticking of a second-hand on a clock, but the precious fleeting moments we call life. And memory. Memories that we collect to hold all these moments close.

After my grandmother’s stroke this past Christmastime, her Alzheimer’s really started to set in. It has been heartbreaking to see dementia cause her to worry and becomes paranoid about things that should not cause her fear. Her short-term memory is deteriorating quickly and because of this she repeats herself almost constantly; forgetting that she just told us something, and therefore retelling it to us over and over.

We know that we don’t have forever, but for now, we are thankful that she still has a good grip on her long-term memory. She is soothed through storytelling, and we do our best to help keep her spirits up by asking her to share her memories from the past. Memories about holding her grandchildren for the first time, of funny antics from my childhood, and further back…meeting my grandfather for the first time (on the boardwalk in New Jersey), silly recollections from her first year as a newlywed, and as a new mother so many years ago. But most of all, stories about love. Love is the common theme that weaves together the tapestry of her memories; brightening so many of the shadows cast by her disease.

Despite the aches and pains of age, and the changing landscape of her mind, she still has love. So for now, I feel truly lucky to be able to listen as an ocean’s worth of loving memories washes over her…even if that means hearing the same stories on repeat…like a tide washing the shore clean again and again. These times we spend together now, will become the memories that I may one day be reciting to my future grandchildren. Memories of love. They are treasures to me, far more precious than any other.

I hope you will have a weekend full of beauty and memory making ahead of you. xo Ez

Our White Paint Transformation + A $200 Paint Giveaway

white-paint-after-812Little by little our home is finally coming together! Giving each room a facelift with a coat of paint has been the first step we’ve taken towards making our house feel like a home, and while there’s still loads to do with accessorizing, etc., I’m really happy with how it’s finally starting to take shape.

white-walls-before-and-afterDo you remember the paint that we were living with before? I find that it’s always helpful to see a side-by-side comparison, so here’s a look at one corner of our living room before and after painting (tip: click on the image for a larger view).

A picture really is worth a thousand words, isn’t it?!

white-paint-after-813As I mentioned in last week’s post, my quest to find the perfect white paint that would transform the hideous high-gloss walls that we had been living with into a soft white space, was made easier with help from Steve, a very helpful employee from our local Sherwin-Williams store. I tested out the white paints that he recommended for us, based off of what I told him I was looking for…and the final color I fell in love with was Pure White. I love that it is bright and airy, but has enough warmth about it to not feel clinical and cold. And hooray…that awful shine is gone!!!

white-paint-after-814Needless to say, we are completely thrilled with the dramatic transformation that a coat of paint was able to perform in our home. We are going to continue working our way through our home, room by room, until every surface is looking as fresh as our living room now does. Next in line to get the Pure White paint treatment will be our staircase (we’re planning to remove the carpeting from the steps too), and then my office/studio space! I cannot wait!

Do you have any home painting projects that you’ve been itching to tackle? Sherwin-Williams wants to give one of you the chance to dive into your dream project with a $200 gift card to use for your Sherwin-Williams paint and supplies!

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations Jaime Lopez on your great win!

sherwin-williams-sponsorThis post was kindly sponsored by Sherwin-Williams. Images and opinions are my own. Find more from Sherwin-Williams: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube | Google+

5 Unexpected Things that Can Contain Gluten

5-hidden-sources-of-glutenSince my daughter’s diagnosis with Celiac Disease a few years ago, we’ve been on a steep learning curve; navigating our way through a life without gluten. Whether you forego gluten by personal choice or health necessity, I figured that for any of those of you who may be new to the world of eating gluten-free, that it could possibly come in handy if I shared a few unexpected places where I’ve often found gluten to be lurking. I’d love for you to help me add to this list or share your favorite gluten-free foods in the comment section. I’m always keen to learn about new tasty things to try.

5 Unexpected Things that Can Contain Gluten

  • Beer / Liquor | I’ve never been much of a beer connoisseur, so this one hasn’t been too hard to pass up on. However it is a food item that is commonly used in cooking / baking, so it’s good to be aware of just the same. There are grain-free alcohol options available, so if you’re bummed about missing out, you can go ahead and turn that frown upside-down.
  • Vanilla extract / Baking extracts | I’ve read conflicting opinions regarding whether the gluten used in the alcohol used to create vanilla / baking extracts is neutralized during the distillation process. To be on the safe side, I always purchase extracts that are labeled as gluten-free.
  • Sweeteners | Barley Malt (also seen as malt extract) is a big culprit (you’ll find it in a lot of chocolate bars). It is very easy to overlook if you’re not prepared to keep a lookout for it. Special note: maltodextrin is considered to be gluten-free (despite having the word malt in its name)
  • Soy Sauce | Growing up, we had a bottle of soy sauce on our dining room table instead of a salt shaker. So it came as quite a surprise to me to discover that our old standby is traditionally made using wheat. Thankfully there are wheat-free / gluten-free varieties available…so keep a lookout for those if you’re a fan like we are.
  • Toiletries / Detergents / Household Cleaners | Non-food items have few standards in place to ensure that they are labeled clearly when they contain gluten. I did find this very helpfully compiled list of Company Statements Regarding Gluten that you may want to look over if you or someone you know has a severe gluten sensitivity or Celiac. It didn’t even occur to me that non-edible products could be a problem until my daughter developed a mystery rash after I laundered her clothing in traditional Tide detergent. I made the switch to Method detergent shortly thereafter and have used both Method and Mrs. Myers on our clothing with no ill effects ever since (their products are better for the environment too…so that’s a bonus).

Of course, when in doubt, contacting a company for specific allergen information is always recommended. Most companies are more than happy to make sure that you are making a safe purchase for your family. I hope this little list helps. Here’s to your health!

Image from Antique Farm House™ (a really cool site coincidently)