Free Spirit.

The Artist and I have frequent hear to heart talks, discussing life.  These talks are really heart felt and intense, but in a good way.  During one of our more recent talks, he told me about how he saw me as such a free spirit when we first met.  He said that I was very “real”.  That I was unafraid to be myself 100%.  And that he admired this, and my free spirited-ness inspired him to be more relaxed and stress free.

I was a little surprised by this, I had never really thought of myself as a free spirit, so I asked him why he thought this.  (Note: The Artist and I were roommates, with another roommate and two people living in the basement of the house during college, read more here: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/3-years-of-the-best-marriage-ever/ ) He said that he was very uptight and felt stressed all the time with regards to things like doing paperwork, house chores, etc.  He admired how I left my dishes in the sink for a few days before washing them, and how it didn’t bother me.  How I slept in on weekends and walked around the house in my pyjamas in the middle of the afternoon.  How I stayed up late watching a movie I had been craving to see while eating a big bag of chips, even though I knew I had to get up early.  How I threw my dirty laundry on the floor of my bedroom.  How I wanted to carve pumpkins at Halloween and put up a tree and a million knick-knacks during Christmas.  He said that I would get ready to go out with friends in just a few minutes, and look amazing.  How I gave honest opinions, and was direct with people on what I wanted.  How I would wear flip flops in the middle of winter to take the garbage to the curb……among so many other things.  Initially, I was thinking that this just proved that I was a slob, and kind of lazy.  But as we talked, he explained how it inspired him to live life in a more mellow, relaxing way.  To go with the flow, and stop to smell the roses along the way.  And that the way I seemed unafraid to be myself, even in front of a stranger, he said I was very “real” and wasn’t acting in a way that was unnatural to me or that I was trying to impress someone.  He said that I have changed his life, for the better.  That he is now more mellow, and doesn’t let things bother him.  And that this has carried over into his art practice, he stays up until the wee hours of the morning if he is on a roll with a good idea- instead of doing the so-called “sensible” thing and going to bed at a reasonable hour.  He doesn’t feel as much pressure to produce paintings quickly, but rather, lets the creative process take him over.  And that the result is works that are launching his career.

This really touched me.  I really never thought of myself as a free spirit type of person, and I still don’t know if I am.  But the way he expressed these feelings to me was very moving, and my heart almost exploded ❤  I had no idea I had touched his life on such a deep level.  Of course we love each other and have an amazing, fulfilling life together, but this story touched my soul in a way that I simply cannot describe.  I don’t think I have ever heard someone articulate how they saw their loved one, and how they fell in love.

Then I thought, am I still the free spirit he fell in love with?  And I sort of panicked, as I wasn’t sure if I was a free spirit then, let alone now.  As I was saying this, we were getting ready to go shopping before the store closed, which was soon.  I was starving so I microwaved some left overs on a plate, grabbed my purse and got into the passenger seat of the car- like it was no big deal. He looked at me, smiled, pointed at the plate of leftovers and said, “free spirit”.  And he continues to do this now, as I was having a hard time seeing in myself what he saw.  One time, I didn’t want to wait in line in the fitting room at a store, so I tried the shirt on over top of the shirt I was wearing.  One time I couldn’t find the lid for my Magic Bullet smoothie cup, so I screwed the blade back on, put it in my purse, and headed to my office.  Another time, I spilled a giant gob of salsa on my shirt, and proceeded to lick it off and continue eating.  On a rainy Saturday, I sat on the couch for several (and I mean several!) consecutive hours watching TV in a nest of blankets.  I am convinced it is more laziness, but my Artist continues to tell me how I inspire him, as I do what I want and indulge in a lot fun things.  And when we indulge in watching TV until our eyes burn, cuddled together, late at night, and having these heart to heart talks, the Artist points out what a fun night it was spending this time together giggling and being silly.  That it isn’t laziness per se, that yes- we could have cleaned the apartment or done something more “productive”, but instead had a wonderful night together.  And in my books, taking the time to live and love is way more productive in the grand scheme of life ❤

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Surprises and My First Tattoo.

I get home from work on December 22nd, 2014 in the early evening, carrying my bags, binders, and change of shoes (I don’t like wearing heels driving) in my arms and fumbling through the door.  Steve hands me the phone and tells me to call my mom on her cell phone ASAP, not letting me empty my hands or take of my coat and boots. His sense of urgency concerned me a little, thinking that maybe something is wrong, or something urgent is going on.  I call her cell phone.  She answers and says hello, and after a few seconds on small talk her and my dad emerge from our bedroom.  SURPRISE!  All the way from Ontario, Canada, they surprised both the Artist and myself that night.  We talk often enough, that they new the Artist was home during the days and I was at work.  They knew we had one car, that I used it to get to work during weekdays.  Minutes before I arrived home, they had called the Artist to have him come down and let them in the front door of our apartment building, as you need a key.  He thought it was a joke- he and my mother have a very sarcastic dialogue.  But there they were, standing in the rain, waiting to be let inside.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I have never been surprised like that before- they came from SO far!  It’s not like  they stopped by on their way home……they drove down from another country.  We were unable to make it home for the holidays for both time and financial constraints, so they came to us!  They skipped all other holiday gatherings to spend the holidays with us ❤

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And they brought a million presents!!!

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I come from a small town, and everyone knew about the surprise.  Lots of folks sent gifts for us down with them, and holidays cards as well.  I know this is going to sound SO cliche, but it was a Christmas miracle ❤  My family doesn’t have much, but they are willing to spend what they do have one us ❤  I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family- there are no words.

We enjoyed some local museums, shopping, and lots of cooking.  And of course, lots of cooking meant lots of eating.  They even brought down a bunch of my favourite snacks from home that are unavailable here.  It was very hard when they left the following weekend.  There were many tears.  I think I am still recovering from the post-holiday blues……

To get ours spirits up, the Artist gave me my first tattoo on New Years Day.  Actually, he gave me two!

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The one on my finger is the crown motif in Basquiat’s paintings, and the Artist has a larger version of this one his ankle.  This was his first time doing a tattoo on someone else other then himself.  The one on my heel is the deathly hallows symbol from Harry Potter.  These are both very intimately meaningful to me in so many ways, but I am not going to divulge them on here.  Instead, ask me sometime.

As they heal, they are becoming more of a grey tone then black, and I have no idea why.  My skin is crazy, the Artist said I am like a member of X-Men.  I never get sun burns, I have very little body hair, and my skin is very oily and soft.  Like, so oily.  These tattoos have healed very well, and have caused me little inconvenience.  So we will see how they finish up!

Happy holidays ❤

Life and Homemade Kettlecorn.

As adults, we have so much going on that days slip away in an instant, which turns into weeks and months.  How easy is it to walk in the door after a long day and be so tired, you microwave something for dinner and watch TV until you fall asleep?  How easy is it to waste precious time mindlessly browsing the internet?  How easy is it to give your full self to your work, and be so busy with that you forget about other aspects of life?  It is hard to find the energy to go to the gym, spend time in the kitchen doing home cooking, and and be “present” as a wife, mother, daughter, whatever your roles may be.

This is something I have been finding hard lately.  The evenings are spent trying not to fall asleep before 8pm.  So The Artist and I devised a plan.  We decided to think about what we wanted, and what was important to us, and how we would incorporate that into our lives.  It is like a vicious circle….you’re too tired to go to the gym or cook a meal, but if you exercise and eat well you will have more energy.  One day, it was like “enough is enough”!  This cycle of no exercise, bad eating, and crashing in front of the TV every night HAS to stop!  Here is what we decided we want; more time together, a clean apartment, more home cooking and healthier eating, more sleep, more exercise.  These are our goals to achieve them.

1. Go to the gym 2-3 times a week to lift weights together.  Yoga etc. at home on the “off” days for me.  Lots of exercise during weekdays, so weekends are reserved for “fun exercise” like a day walking around the zoo.

2. Home cooked meals every week night.  Even if it is leftovers, it is healthy, balanced left overs.  We like to make meals in bulk solely to have leftovers 🙂  Weekends are for extra special homemade meals that are more time consuming (we put on some music, pour some rum, and make a night of it!).  Or the opposite: we have “cheat” meals like chicken strips or poutine.

3. We limit mindless internet browsing.  We catch up on how each other’s days went, and then sometimes returning Facebook messages or reading the latest on blogs I follow is a good way to wind down.  In the evening hours, we try to limit this to 15 minutes. The Artist uses the internet during the day when he has some free time, and I like to “browse” in the mornings when I first get up.  So only 15 minutes in the evenings isn’t so bad because we have used our “non-together” time to complete emails and check out our favourites sites already.

4. We do one thing together every day.  Whether it is cook a meal together, watch a movie together, play cards, etc. we do at least one thing together per day.  This comes naturally, and isn’t really something we have to think about.

5. We do one fun outing or event together each weekend.  Sort of like a date night.  We might go to Forest Park, the zoo, thrifting, we might marathon a TV show until 3am all snuggled up on the couch, or even decorate for an upcoming holiday.  Recently, we went to a fundraiser for an organization I used to volunteer at and caught up with friends, and went to the zoo!  The sea lion loved The Artist.

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6. The Artist does day to day household chores like dishes and making the bed.  We don’t have a dish washer, so they pile up on the counter quickly!  I do the more weekly jobs during weekends like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or dusting.  That way, our place stays clean and neat and we share the chores.  For both of us, a clean and tidy place makes relaxing easy.  It is hard to relax your body and mind you are surrounded by a mess.

7. We do things for ourselves, at least once a week.  For example, I am taking a pottery class right now.  It is something I am doing just for me, and that I have been wanting to do for awhile.  Or writing a blog post on here 😉  And as of lately, the Artist likes to browse magazines with a coffee when I am out and about.

8. Minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night.  Minimum.  No less.  Sleep is something we value and that is important to us.  Every night, we think of what time we are getting up the next day, and count 8 hours (minimum!) backwards to get and idea of when we will go to bed.  We also leave lots of time for teeth brushing, and actually falling asleep.  So if we are getting up at 8am, by 10pm the night before we will settle down and do quieter activities, usually watching TV.  By 11pm we are getting ready for bed and brushing our teeth.  And sometime between 11pm-12am, we are asleep.  So that is 8-9hrs of glorious slumber.

Now, these things sound sort of obvious, and I get that.  But as we get older and our careers and families begin to blossom, these things are easily forgettable.  I know lots of couples who spend very little quality time together, and lots of people who forget about their hobbies and interests because watching TV after a long is much easier and more desirable- let alone remember to eat well and exercise.  And I can especially think of many busy folks who don’t get enough sleep and are tired on a daily basis.  I understand there are lots of reasons as to why, and that is fine.  But at this time in our lives, we don’t have many reasons as to why we can’t get more sleep, so we are taking advantage.  I am sure this will change should be we lucky enough to have children one day.

And honestly, having this conversation and making this list helped 100%.  We felt like the days were slipping by and we weren’t stopping to smell the roses in life- and we were not ok with that.  It brought these wants and needs to our attention, and we decided on realistic goals.  From thereon out, there was a difference.  We no longer feel like like life is flying past us.  We have healthier bodies, more energy then before, active hobbies and interests, and we are not being lost in the dust ❤

During one of our stay-at-home nights together, we watched a movie late at night, when the rest of the world was quiet and peaceful.  We made a “nest” of blankets and pillow on the couch and I made some homemade kettle corn.  It was a fabulous night.  Here is my recipe 🙂

1/3 canola oil

1/3 white sugar

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

salt to taste

In a large pot (that has a lid), heat the oil.  I like to throw in a kernel and when it pops, the oil is hot enough.  Turn of the heat and add the sugar and stir.  Add the popcorn kernels and return to medium-high heat.  Hold the lid on the pot with oven hits on your hands on each side.  Alternate shaking the pot up and down, side to side, and in circles for a few seconds.  Place on heat for a few seconds.  Repeat back and forth, shaking, and having it sit on the burner, for a few seconds each.  Do this until it is all popped, there will be several seconds in between kernels popping.  Remove from pot immediately into a serving bowl and add salt.  Stir gently.

Notes:

– leaving the popcorn solely on the burned will burn it (badly)

– solely shaking it and not alternating having it sit on the burner will take forever for everything to pop, it just doesn’t get hot enough

– I have a gas stove, all stoves will be different and temperature will vary

– the first time or two I made this, I scorched it (like the sugar went black and it was a disaster to clean lol!) so it might take practice

– it is worth it because it is delicious 😉

– when you pour the popcorn into the serving bowl, it will be sticky- don’t worry, it will cool almost instantly and be very crunchy

– it may seem like there is barely any sugar or anything on the popcorn at first, but there isn’t much colour in this, when it cools, it is the texture that you will notice, and each piece should be coated (the picture below looks like plain popcorn, but it is all shiny from the sugar!)

– when I add the salt, I gently toss/stir to avoid the popcorn sticking into a bowl-shaped chunk as it cools

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DIY Bleached Jean Jacket!

The Artist and I love to thrift shop.  I had been wanting a jean jacket lately, and hadn’t been finding anything that I liked.  So one day while thrifting, the Artist held up a jean jacket and said I should try it on.  I did not like the colour at all, but then he said if it fits nicely, he could bleach it to what I want.  GENIUS!  It was a perfect fit.  I took home my jacket that cost only a few dollars, $3-$4 I think it was, the Artist made some magic happen.  He has worked with bleach in his works before, and was very familiar with how to handle it.  I was after a blotchy look, where the jacket was lighter coloured and the seams were darker.  Here are some tips on what he did!

This is how it started:

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Firstly- wear gloves to do this, in a well ventilated area or outside.

1. He started off diluting the bleach with water to gauge how quickly and severely it would affect the fabric.  Al fabrics react differently.  After a while, he started using undiluted bleach as the fabric was holding up very well.

2. He used a paintbrush to apply it.  That way, he could control where the bleach went, and how much, versus dunking it in a bucket.  And I wanted the seams to be dark still.

3. He “splattered” and “dripped” bleach onto it as well.

4. When it looked almost done, we vigorously dunked it in a bucket of just water we had waiting.  This will stop the bleaching process.  Stopping it when almost done worked well, because even though we dunked it in water it still continued to get a little lighter for a few minutes afterwards.

5. After vigorously dunking, I took it inside and washed it in the bathtub with laundry soap, again, vigorously.  The goal is to stop the bleaching process and rinse the jacket of all the bleach.

6. I let it air dry, and then added it to a load of laundry in the washer to get rid of the remaining bleach smell, and air dried again.  I prefer to air dry most of my clothes so they don’t shrink, and didn’t want to risk this jacket shrinking.  I don’t know how the dryer would affect a bleached item.

We thought it might need some touch ups, but it didn’t.  For touch ups, we planned on dabbing it with bleach where needed, but it didn’t need it.

And after all that- I have what I had been looking for 😀  Watching my jacket get created was like watching the Artist paint.  He is so talented in so many ways, and I get to witness true works of art in every day situations ❤

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The Artist’s First Tattoo.

We were getting ready to go walking down Delmar and the Artist was looking in the mirror and said that he wanted a tattoo of the letter X on the right side of his chest, near his armpit.  I was confused, this was oddly specific and a weird thing to want as a tattoo.  And he didn’t want a fancy letter X, just 2 straight lines.  I asked him why.  He said that it was my spot ❤

The story of my spot….

My side of the bed is the right side, and I like to lay on my left side facing the Artist, with my head on his chest/in his armpit, while his arm wraps around me tight.  I am then in perfect range of motion to receive a forehead kiss, and his hand can stroke my shoulder and arm.  It is so sweet and cozy, my favourite way to fall asleep.  My favourite place to be at all, really.  We always have the best talks like that too.  And when I get all sleepy at night, I literally CRAVE to be laying like this with him.  Those minutes before falling asleep, is my favourite part of the day.  So I felt very privileged that he wanted this tattoo in honour of me.  There happens to be a tattoo parlour on Delmar, so we popped in to see about the pricing.  One thing lead to another, and the Artist and the tattoo artist did an “artist swap”- a painting in exchange for the letter X tattoo that he wanted.  And boom- it was done.  It took longer to apply the stencil and disinfectant then it did to complete the tattoo, haha.  It was that simple and quick.

The Artist hugely suits tattoos.  A lot.  He is such a big, strong guy, with a huge beard and long hair.  He looks rather intimidating, actually.  But inside, he is the sweetest, most sensitive, cuddle bug that I know.  The contrast that I am describing is one of my favourite things about him, and the idea of even more tattoos would just further it.  He has practiced a few more with a pen to test out his ideas, and they look awesome.  Nothing crazy or anything, but rather symbols, interesting drawings, and even one in memory of his childhood dog that recently passed.

It was a wonderfully spontaneous, spur of the moment adventure.  And I think that in life, we all need to remember to have a little spontaneous adventure once in awhile.  It is good for the soul, in my opinion.

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No turning back now!

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It’s done! Doesn’t his missing chest hair look ridiculous?! Ha!

On the way home!

On the way home!

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After a few weeks of his hair growing back.  And no, his hands are not tattooed (yet!), he is just drawing ideas with a pen to see what they look like 😉

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My spot ❤

 

A Glimpse of the Day I Turned 25.

This 4th of July, I turned 25.  Yikes.  25.  Life is moving so fast.

The Artist asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday.  There are so many fun things to do on a budget in St. Louis, but all I ever want is just some good, quality time together.  I had been wanting to go bowling for awhile, so we decided to incorporate that into our day, and there is so much good food around here of which I have a hard time choosing where to eat, I asked the Artist if he would pick the restaurant and then not reveal it until right before we left.  That in itself is a great birthday gift, haha, because I can never make a choice and am always overwhelmed by the oh-so-many delicious options.  It was SO nice to not even have to think about where to eat!  He decided on one of our favourites: Mission Taco.  Read about the extreme levels of awesome they have here, https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/moving-food/

But even after we made these plans, I told the Artist that I didn’t care if they didn’t happen or if we ended up doing something else, that if the night organically led us elsewhere, or nowhere other then the couch, I wouldn’t mind.  The Artist and I spend a lot of quality time together on a regular, daily basis, and we are always going out on dates and doing fun things.  So my birthday was like any other day when you boil it down.  Even if we both have a busy day, we always take some time together, even if it is just a few minutes.  Sometimes we will chit-chat and snuggle and giggle before we go to sleep, or sometimes we will take time out of our busy days to cook together, which always brings about great conversations.  This is a quality about our marriage that I just love; we don’t use special occasions as a “reminder” to do something nice for one another or to go out on a date.  Actually, the last 2 years we weren’t even in the same city on Valentine’s Day, and we did our own little thing weeks earlier.  But on that day, we knew we were thinking of the other, and that is enough ❤

My birthday ended up including a delicious breakfast of chocolate pancakes and bacon, sleeping in late, a great after-breakfast conversation about our favourite actors (which included Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Nicolas Cage, Steve Carell, among so many others), a present, drinks, bowling, RummiKub, and tacos.  I have been loving the TV show Orange is the New Black, and really want to read the book.  But all the libraries around here have pretty large waiting lists, and each person have have the book for up to 3 weeks!  I was so disappointed when I discovered this, because I have such a craving to read it!

To my surprise, when I opened my birthday present, was a brand spanking new copy of Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman.  It smelled amazing.  I even fanned the pages a little because there is just something about the shininess and smell of a brand new book that is just so satisfying.  We usually use the library to read books, or get them for a quarter a piece at thrift stores or library book sales and in used conditions, so this brand new copy of my very own is such a treat 😀

He also got me new sunglasses because I broke mine and my backups are scratched like crazy, and then took me to the new candy shop that just opened down the street to pick out some candy.  He gets me.  He pointed out Sour Patch Peaches to me because he knows how much I LOVE peach candy, (a very specific flavour, I know, haha) and I couldn’t resist.  I also picked out some taffy, a cherry jolly rancher stick (which is awesome because that is the only flavour I like and didn’t have to buy a whole pack to get a handful of cherry candies), and what I was most excited about: the Harry Potter Chocolate Frog.

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Then onto a blueberry lemonade Smirnoff slushie, tacos and bowling.  I grew up with 5 pin bowling with tiny balls, so this intimidating 10 pin stuff was hard!  My goal of zero gutter balls went out the window in a hurry.  But it was fun, and we will be back.

 

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When we came home, we decided to play RummiKub, which is one of our favourite games.  We turned on some oldies music,  and of course, I won 😉

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We finished the night with some silly pictures, and watched Corner Gas in bed.

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Perfection.

What a wonderful life I have ❤

PMS

Lately I have noticed that lots of people post on social media about how crappy they feel, how sick they are today, how they wish their cold would go away, etc. and I am seeing these posts from both men and women.  And then I had an epiphany.  For several days a month, lasting several decades of every woman’s life, they experience menstruation, and I have never heard any complaints on social media about cramps or bloating and the like.  Why not?  Why the silence on things?  Having a cold or flu usually consists of an upset stomach, headache, muscle aches and cramps, feeling tired, irritable, and maybe a nasty cough.  Aside from the cough, most of the other symptoms are experienced with nature’s monthly visit to women, and then some.  Add in there feeling bloated, food cravings, and having to use feminine hygiene products (that are not cheap!) to get through it, along with a variety of other things as every women experiences her own combination.

Some would argue, that it is just nature.  Well wait, so getting the flu is some robot phenomenon?  Why didn’t anyone tell me!  Ha!  Some might also argue that women are “built” for it, so “it can’t be that bad”.  That is like saying that humans are built to require a heart to pump blood, therefore they are built for heart disease and “it can’t be that bad” since we are built for it.  Haha!  And it’s not like women can take sick days when feeling under the weather from PMS, because that would usually mean a few sick days taken every month from work.  Who has that many paid sick days, and/or who can afford to take that many days off unpaid?  Or in movies and such, you hear men say things like, “watch out, it’s that time of the month for her, she will rip your head off and then cry her eyes out”.  Well, men, if a large muscle in your body was contracting hard, you had a headache that wouldn’t quit, your body felt tired all over, you couldn’t hold your eyes open because you are exhausted, your stomach is acting up, and you couldn’t take the day off work because you have no sick days left, wouldn’t you be cranky too?

So we just go about our lives, uncomfortable and sometimes in pain, for 2-10 days a month (the average) and we just shut up about it.

But I don’t think it is necessary to suffer in complete silence.  When the Artist isn’t feeling well I will take over making dinner, give him a back rub, and make some snuggle time together to watch a movie for example.  When I am not feeling well, no matter the source of my symptoms, I expect the same.  Even if life is busy, it is never too busy for a 10 minute back rub before bed, and sometimes that is all takes to take the edge off.  He does not find me disgusting during this time of the month, as sadly, is the attitude that some partners take, and I can feel comfortable talking to him about concerns I have, or how I am feeling, and he will do what he can to help.  In the end, both getting through a cold and getting through the symptoms of PMS, well, you just have to ride it out until it has run its course.  So good coping skills is the most important thing to get you through it.  My favourites are delicious food, a movie, comfy pyjamas, and lots of TLC from the Artist.  And his favourites are exactly the same.  Now, I am not saying that women “get sick” every month, I am just trying to point out that we go through uncomfortable, sometimes painful, unpleasant, inconvenient physical symptoms for several days a month, for several decades of our lives, and it is ok to talk about them without giving away too much detail or being obnoxious about it.  So here it goes: today I feel so tired despite a good night’s sleep, I have terrible cramps, and a headache.  And I will feel this way until the weekend is over.  Now, that wasn’t disgusting or obnoxious, was it?

But, after all, this is how we experience pregnancy and become mothers, and that, is truly beautiful.  I look forward to the day that I can feel a baby kick, and then watch it’s first steps and smiles.  So folks, appreciate the women in your life.  Sisters, spouses, girlfriends, mothers, friends, etc.  Think about the tremendous miracles that their bodies are able to go through, and support them through it.  A little empathy and understanding can go a long way.  And the opposite; women, appreciate the men in your life.  Fathers, brothers, friends, spouses, etc.  Appreciate the support they give you, and their love for you.  As all relationships in life are give-and-take, not give “or” take, it is a big circle of mutual exchanges.

You never know what this world will bring…so love hard, laugh often, and be thankful for every day ❤