Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

Our Black Friday


I've done the Black Friday thing once or twice, but nothing beats sleeping in on a chilly morning after Thanksgiving.  (Especially when you're wrapped up in the arms of the one you love. ♥)

Okay... we didn't jump up and run to the store, but Zach did get up to do a little online shopping! He bought me a new cell phone, for a steal! Then we all piled in the car for a little family outing. 

Our Black Friday has consisted of: a deviled egg breakfast, a trip to Lady Luck Casino (where I won thirty-bucks on the slots!), yummy soup and my first "Walking Tacos," Hawkeye football, and a little blogging time for me.   

Today was my first time on the Mississippi when it's started to freeze, 
and yes it was freezing!

After watching the ball games, and another round of delicious Thanksgiving leftovers, we headed to the Opera House for Christmas Classics on The Air. It is the perfect holiday entertainment! Lucky for you, it's playing the rest of this weekend and next weekend. For more information about the showtimes and tickets visit: The Opera House.

When we arrived home, from Christmas Classics on The Air, I decided it was time to put up some decorations. It was fun and easy with the help of our family. Photos coming soon!

Happy Family Friday! 

Coming soon... 
Decorating for a White Christmas: 
 DIY Garland and Wreaths

Thanksgiving 2013

 Our First Thanksgiving at the Farm

Hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner was a holiday I'll never forget. It was our first holiday living at Wold Farm, my first holiday in Iowa, and the first family gathering at the farm in many many years.  

 Leslie and Jamie, I love my H-apron and the fun wedding shower memories I associate with it!

 Fortunately, our Mom came to town a week early 
to help us plan, shop, and prepare!

It was wonderful to share Thanksgiving with Grandpa Wold, Grandma Herrmann, Aunt Bernita, Douglas, Aunt Linda & Thad, and of course Mom and Dad.

After dinner and dessert, Gramps wanted to take his familiar walk to the corner. Zach bundled up and went along with him.

I'm thankful for every day and for all of my blessings:  
family, friends, health, love & happiness.    

Do you have a traditional Thanksgiving meal? 
What's your favorite side dish?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A snow day in Saint Olaf

 Thankful for the Seasons

There's not much I love more than waking up to a wintery white blanket stretched across the yard and dusted through the trees. I love snow days. Our new Iowa friends think it's a little funny that I am so excited about winter and snow season. They assure me that I'll be sick of it before long. For now, I'll just remain in awe of its beauty and thankful I can stay inside during these chilly days. 

While I plan to stay inside during many of the snow days, I look forward to building a few snowmen, skiing, and exploring the snow covered scenery.

Born and raised in beautiful NC, I did not have any snow driving experiences. If it did snow, even a tiny bit, we were not allowed to drive. I know my parents were looking out for their babies and their vehicles. Now that we've moved to a snowy region of the country, I am mentally preparing myself for snowy adventures.  

I haven't had to drive in the snow yet. So yesterday when we woke up to a lightly snow covered yard, I wondered if we would still run our errands. Silly me, our Midwest Mom's in town! So for now, I have a "snow driver!" That's what I'll call someone who can drive in snow.

Mom drove me all over and even through a few winding, snow-covered, county roads. To say the least, I was impressed!

In between errands, we stopped to enjoy the breathtaking views and make a few photographs.

Did I mention... one of our errands was ordering a pair of studded snow tires for my Hyundai? I guess I'll be learning to drive in the snow

Friday, November 22, 2013

my funky fun new art series: lovebirds

My little lovebird series is mixed media: ink, acrylic, glitter specks, paper, coffee filter, nails, wood and wire.  These mini artworks are mounted to wood that I found here at our farmhouse in Saint Olaf, Iowa. Each piece has been imagined, embellished, and created with love.

One of my favorite things about living in rural Iowa is observing the wildlife. Watching the birds fly from one birdhouse-filled tree to the next, I imagine the little bird families interacting with each other. Each little work of art is its own narrative of daily life and events.

I've had a growing fascination with birds that has become greater since I moved to Iowa. Their sense of community, the miniature houses that fill the trees here at the farm, the winter migration, the way they playfully chase each other through the sky, are all things that have made it easy to imagine these birds as little families and friends. 

I knew when I got the text from my friend Ashley, "He asked!" and she was engaged, I wanted to make her something small, personal, and lovebird themed. So, I created "i do"  and the lovebird series was born.

 I hope you've enjoyed this little tour through my imagination.  
These love birdies flew south for the winter and can be found soon at The Center for Visual Artists in Greensboro, NC.  

Opening Night:  CVA [200 N Davie St., Greensboro, NC] Friday, Dec. 6th between 6:00-9:00pm.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Today's Project: My DIY Haircut

  Today's Project: My DIY Haircut

Last night I treated myself to an amazing yoga class. It was my second trip to this yoga class.  I'd prefer to call it a yoga experience because it's more than just a class; it is an awe-inspiring hour that helps me relax, connect with my body, my breathing, and my surroundings. It is a quiet medicinal meditation. I already feel connected to these beautiful, intelligent, open-minded souls who attend.  Last night, as I stretched my emotional muscles in long steady poses, I felt love. Love for these women of all ages and backgrounds, love for all of the different bodies and abilities, love for the calm quiet connection, love for life. Maybe it's the stretching or maybe it's a common energy we share that provides this soothing atmosphere of love and acceptance. I think it's both. 

As we wrapped up our yoga experience, I noticed one of my new friends had a haircut.  I complimented her and, come to find out, she did it herself. I desperately needed a trim but, not ready to find a new hairdresser, had been putting it off.  Now that we've moved and are so far from what's always been familiar, I am really pushing myself to relax, grow my confidence, and do my best to listen when the world is telling me something. For example, my new friend Kate had just gotten her hair cut and it looked so polished and pretty. She even told me who does her hair and said I could go to them, too. Then, I got a text from my sister-in-law and she had given my niece an adorable haircut. The final straw was my friend Trish's freshly cut healthy ends I noticed at yoga.  UUUGH, okay okay ... I hear you, World! One way or another, I must trim my hair.    

So today, I treated myself to my first "at-home haircut." Now, this was not the first time I've ever had my hair cut at home, or the first time I've ever cut hair. It was however, the first time I've ever cut my OWN hair.  I can't take too much credit because I simply gave my hair a little trim... nothing major.   Luckily, it turned out almost even.  

I was a little nervous to attempt this first haircut on myself. While I know hair is something that "always grows back," I've had my share of hair trauma over the years. I think it stems from childhood. I've always had a subconscious correlation between how I feel about my hair and my self-esteem. For example, if I get my hair cut and I don't like the way it looks, then I'll feel ugly for weeks! Ridiculous, right? 

I can still picture that first time I had my haircut: one of those horrific, can't-believe-I-did-it and never-will-I-forget-it memories. I had been growing my hair out since I was born.  One day, when I was about four, I decided it was time for a new look. It was a few months before my November birthday when I remember my mom asking, "Jillian, are you sure you want short hair?" I was positive.  Mom gently combed and began to cut my long wet hair. The scissors crunched through my waist-length golden locks and I felt excited as the clumped strands fell to the floor. She took her time, methodically separating sections of hair, combing the hair straight, and taking breaks to spritz the drying hair with a little spray bottle.  I remember the cool fresh feeling of the spray on my neck. She finished up and handed me a small mirror. My breathing quickened and a lump pressed against my throat as I peered out from under the new helmet that sat hugging my little head. My long silky gorgeous hair was gone. Uncontrollable crocodile tears began to roll down my cheeks.

I had been fearless, but no longer. The fear was not from the bad haircut, but the subconscious realization that this seemingly unimportant decision could end in such turmoil. I do believe this one horrific haircut sparked a fascination in me that would last, well, all my life.  

Shortly after I recovered from this haircut, I began to experiment with dolls, Barbies,  and quickly progressed to my little sister Britt's bouncy curls.  I made a mess of her beautiful hair and Mom was livid. She scolded me and told me to never do it again. If I did it again, she would give Britt permission to take the scissors and cut as much of my hair off as she wanted. You know how scared I was of ever going under the scissors again! The only thing Mom could do for Britt in the meantime was cut off the rest of her hair to make it even. So I watched poor Britty get the shortest pixie haircut on a little girl that I'd ever seen. (She has always been years ahead of her time when it comes to fashion!) It was awful. This had happened right around Halloween, and as there are no famous short-haired princesses, Britt was forced to trick-or-treat as Charlie Chaplin!

For the rest of my childhood and young adult life, I simply let my hair grow with an occasional trim. I felt confident and pretty because of my long hair. There were times I wanted to cut my hair into short trendy styles throughout life, but I was afraid. 

It wasn't until years later that my sister was able to get her revenge for her "pixie cut." It was senior year; I had loads of homework, basketball season was underway, and Mom was out of town for the weekend, leaving me and Britt at home with Dad. What could we possibly do to tear his nerves up while he was on watch? Well, we decided to dye my hair red! Britt and I drove to the grocery store and scanned the cosmetic aisle. There it was, Herbal Essences: Ruby Red. We headed home with this new and exciting permanent hair color! Britt aided in applying the color to my extremely long dirty-blonde hair. My hair was so long that we decided it would make sense to wrap it up in a bun, secure it with an elastic hair band on top of my head, and wait while the color set. After we waited the time it said on the box, adding a few extra minutes to make sure it got nice and bright, Britty helped me undo the hair band. We watched in horror as my hair fell down my back in a fluorescent fuchsia tie-dyed pattern! HOLY COW. What had we (I) done? Even though she swears it was not her fault, that she was just there for moral support, and it was totally unintentional, we joke that it was payback.  I'll never forget the look on my Dad's face when he caught his first glimpse. He looked both dumbfounded and horrified.

While that four year-old haircut was the last time Mom ever gave me a full hair cut, she had remained as my "hair dresser." She continued to give me (no more than two inch) trims, and a couple of hideous bang experiences, up until that fateful fuchsia weekend.  It was then we decided I needed a little professional help to rid my hair of its new fuchsia hue. Mom declared this an emergency, and I took my first trip to a professional salon first thing Monday morning, before I was even allowed to go back to school. Skipping school to remedy a hair disaster! Mom took me to see Janice,  a lifelong family friend and hair miracle-worker-extraordinaire. When her first color treatment didn't do a thing to correct the permanently pigmented fuchsia strands, I shed a few tears. She dyed my hair twice before it reached a more natural-looking black cherry and I was so relieved.  She had just given me my first professional hair cut and color and I was hooked. I continued to see her every month for new lighter shades of red, red-brown, and strawberry blonde, until I was back to natural. Ahh, I was able to head off to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with my long blonde hair in tow.  

At UNC, I majored in Fine Art. The majority of my studio classes were conceptual, contemporary, and my own kind of therapy. Body Imagery and Conceptual Photography, among other classes, gave us a setting to work with personal history projects. Often my projects dealt with the body, self-esteem, awareness, perceptions, and like many artists before me, hair.  

I continued to keep my long locks through college and for my first year in the "real world." Then I met my equal, Zach. He was charming and intellectual, and he loved my art. He thought I was beautiful and it had nothing to do with my long hair. In fact, he gave me the courage to change it up. So, I made an appointment with Brooke, a girl I had met through work. I remember walking into her chic modern salon in Charlotte, scared to death. She comforted me and we laughed a little about the big change that was about to happen. She washed and pulled my hair into a low ponytail. Then she asked if I was ready. I think she was a little nervous, too! As she cut through my thick ponytail, it had that same crunchy feeling I remembered from my four-year-old haircut. I anxiously watched in the mirror as my ponytail fell away and my new short hair danced free. I couldn't believe it; I loved it! Brooke looked pleased and told me she was happy that I liked it, but she wasn't finished yet! She cleaned up the cut into an adorable classic bob that framed my face perfectly. Although I instantly loved it, I was still super anxious when I returned home to see what Zach would think. He loved it, too! Sometimes it can take a little extra support and encouragement to step out of our comfort zone and I'm so glad I found mine.

I can't believe I'm able to draw up all of these connections to my childhood, adolescences, and my present day hair philosophy.  

I'm probably not the only one who feels like a million bucks on a good-hair-day or a little hideous on a bad-hair-day.  After all, why else would we pay so much to have our hair professionally washed, cut, colored, and styled every four to six weeks? In fact, I know I'm not the only one who suffers from this ideology.  I ran the front desk at my dad's dental practice for the last four years before we moved. Do you know how many times people would call to change or cancel their dental appointment due to a conflict with their hair appointment?  It was absurd! I digress...

The haircut I gave myself today was very minor, but I feel I grew a little bit spiritually. I feel a little more connected to that four-year-old baby girl I once was and I'm thankful. I had been fearless. Today's pondering helped me remember what it was like to dive in without fear and try things with the confidence that it's gonna be okay if they don't always turn out how you plan. After all, "it's only hair, it'll grow back."

I pledge to feel confident and comfortable, even on my bad-hair-days.  ; )   

Today, I cut my own hair. I sort of like it. It feels fresh. I feel pretty. It feels good.

Today, I feel connected. I feel aware. I feel thankful.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day 

Taking time today to think of all those who have made, and continue to make, 
unimaginable sacrifices to protect and provide freedom for our country. 

Decorating on a Dime: our rustic & refined Thanksgiving centerpieces...

Decorating on a Dime:

 Rustic & Refined Centerpieces

Since Zach and I moved out to rural Iowa, I've been looking for creative and inexpensive ways to decorate our hundred-year-old farmhouse. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I cannot wait to dress-up the dining room table. We're expecting to have a houseful of family and excited to share our first big holiday at The Farm!  

One of my favorite things about living on the farm has been simply watching the prairie grass wave in the wind. I knew I wanted to use this tall grass in some creative way sooner or later. When I started thinking about Thanksgiving dinner at the farmhouse, it hit me... prairie grass centerpieces!  Not only did I love the fact that the centerpieces would be made from such a "mundane" element, but I love their elegant simplicity.

I found these inexpensive containers at TJ Maxx on our trip to Des Moines last weekend. At under $7 apiece, I couldn't pass them up. I love their slender shape and shimmer.

I'm using gold and neutrals to decorate for Thanksgiving. What colors will you be using? Do you have a traditional Thanksgiving menu planned? 

Coming soon...  a look at our dining room "all dressed-up for the holidays!"

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Deer Photo-shoot

a deer (photo) shoot


I've grown up in a family that hunts, I've had venison stew, and I've even put the Santa hat on the deer in my parents' basement. However, I'll never forget the time I peeped through the garage door window, on my tiptoes, and witnessed one of these creatures being "cleaned."  I was forever scarred. 

The deer I shot in these photos was not harmed.

Looking out of the window and seeing this beautiful deer grazing in the golden sun, my first thought was, "Wow, what a majestic creature." My second thought, "Where's my camera?" That's probably not the majority sentiment.

I know that any meat or animal by-product that we consume comes from a living breathing being; however, that is something I've always kept in the depths of my unconscious. Since we've moved out to rural Iowa, the ability to keep these thoughts buried is proving impossible.  

Just the other day, I cracked open a fresh organic egg from my neighbors. I know exactly where that egg came from. It is comforting to know but sort of crazy at the same time!  I'm becoming more aware of what I'm eating and the whole "farm-to-table" way of life. I've always liked the idea of "farm fresh" and "farm-to-table."  It was a little different when "farm-to-table" was just a phrase I saw on the menu at a trendy restaurant. Now we are surrounded by the farms. We are sharing the land and environment with these animals, produce, and farmers, and it's an awakening experience. 

I look forward to learning more about what I eat and how it is cared for and grown. While I won't be doing any hunting, killing, or cleaning myself, I do plan to have my first garden in the spring! I enjoy eating meat but the only thing I'll be hunting with is my camera. Sometimes a little ignorance is bliss.

♥I shot this deer with my Nikon. ♥