Saturday, November 5, 2011

crickets chirping

Classes, commissions, talks, travels, new beginnings and bittersweet endings have turned my brief blogging hiatus into a full blown sabbatical. 

Life has intruded, as it sometimes does, so I'm taking this opportunity to go with the flow and see where it leads. The next two months will see me off on an South African adventure, exploring the savannas and enjoying the Portuguese Islands as well as a (potentially) final European jaunt eating and shopping my way through Rome and Paris before heading back to Dublin one last time to pack up and move on to the next big thing. Exciting times are ahead, and though the future remains unclear, I'm doing my best to embrace the unknown. 

Till next time,

**Don't worry, the title doesn't make sense to me either. But S. Monster suggested it and as I couldn't come up with anything better so there you go. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finding Your (photography) Eye: part 2

Kat's Finding Your Eye e-course finished up last week and in true form I'm ever so behind in wrapping things up. Better than late than never, I'd thought I'd share some gleaming gems of knowledge gained with y'all Nuggets. (you can read about part 1 here

I love photographs of people but I rarely take them as I usually produce less than stellar shots. Prompted to spend time practicing photographing something familiar, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get better at shooting people. And by "people" I of course mean one specific person who I could force convince to let me take 50 plus photos of him. 

Luckily for me, though he was less than thrilled, S. Monster didn’t put up much of a fight. I suspect it's because he learned how to ignore my obtrusive ways years ago. Regardless, with Stereomood on in the background, I sat and happily snapped away, trying new settings and exploring different angles. After I loaded them up on the computer I saw that, except for 2, most of the shots didn’t turn out as I would have liked. Those that did however, were happy accidents where the slight blurriess and faded light added an element that I could never have captured otherwise.
Kat’s e-course helped me focus in on what characterizes my photographic eye as well. Studying some of my favorite photos I saw that elements such as color, light, texture and lines/ shapes were consistent throughout my work.
There is a power in being able to vocalize what defines you. It helps narrow your focus and hone your skill to perfect what it is that makes you, you.
It’s a lesson that permeates far beyond the subject of photography, and one that as I slowly build a business I’ve seen the importance of first hand.
{All photographs by me} 
This course has helped me further define not only my photographic eye, but my design and artistic eye as well.  

It was a fantastic 2 weeks - thanks for such a great class Kat! xx

Thursday, October 6, 2011

{Stylin} Disney Chic

Remember this dress? Well wouldn't you know it popped up again up on what is now my new favorite tumblr.

As someone who grew up, and remains obsessed to this day, with Disney animated movies (I may or may not have the soundtrack to Little Mermaid on my Ipod), DisneyBound is the (Aristo)cat's meow. 

A Disney focused fashion blog, I adore her modern reinterpretation of classic characters. The outfits are sleek and stylish with a subtle Disney twist. Whether you're looking for a chic costume or general fashion inspiration, this is the place to go. 


{All images via DisneyBound. For details on the outfits check out their Polyvore site}

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To the extreme

If you happen to follow me on twitter you might have noticed that last week I started the P90x program. I debated mentioning anything on here, as despite surviving the first week, I'm still 87.23% certain I'm going to die before I reach day 90. But really, what's the point in failing if no public humiliation is involved? 

These past few months I've been anything but consistent when it comes to eating clean and working out. There's been several failed attempts to resuscitate some semblance of a routine but nothings really worked until now. 

I know I need some sort of structure to kick my ass into shape and that's exactly what P90x does. 

So far in week 2 day 11, I'm in a constant state of soreness, but not so much that I've lost basic functions like being able to dress myself or pee. I take it as a good sign. Gotta relish those small victories. 

Aside from being in great shape what I'm really looking forward at the end of all this is finally having amazing abs of awesomeness. True story: when I was younger (read: last month) I used to draw a six pack on with eyeliner. I'm hoping that after these 90 days I'll have a six pack that draws itself on....   
{Images via Pinterest}

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

{Travel} Road Trippin' the Irish edition

Recently S. Monster and I packed up Blue Steel (our tiny but lovable '97 blue Nissan Micra) and headed off on an impromptu road trip down south.
Hidden in the woods outside Cahir, we stumbled upon the adorable and oh so delightful Swiss Cottage that seemed to have sprung to life from the very pages of a fairytale. 

At night we strolled the quaint town of Kilkenny, instantly smitten by the charm of Birdies Bar and General Store. Though to be fair, how can I resist any place that offers chocolate, cardboard Moose heads and alcohol? (answer: I can't)

We spent a rainy morning wandering the Apple Farm of Tipperary. I'm not sure why, but I've been obsessed with going here ever since I heard about it last year. It's about what you'd expect an apple farm to be, nothing but row after row of orchards in the middle of nowhere, but I adored the solitude and simpleness of it all.

Sometimes I find it so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that I forget to take time to enjoy the simple things. The weekend was the perfect escape, a chance to disconnect from the daily rigors of computers, phones and status updates.  

What made the weekend so special though was not the things we saw but the company shared as we went from place to place. The times spent laughing, sharing stories and enjoying the ride....that dear Nuggets, is what makes life sweet.

...Well, that and fresh apple juice. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Find your (photography) eye

This week I'm super stoked to be starting the Find your Eye e-course by the amazingly talented Kat Sloma. A genius behind a lens, she not only creates effortless stunning photos that transcend time and place (her market series exemplifies this perfectly), but Kat is also able to a break down each shot and explain technically how and why it works in such a way that even I, in all of my dazed and confused glory can understand. And that, boys and girls, is saying something.

But photography is more than simply understanding the technical side of things. Anyone can take a pretty picture but to create images that truly resonate, you first need know and understand your eye, and that is where this journey begins.

To become great at anything you have to take the time to build a solid foundation. Action, commitment and time my friends, is what is needed to be successful at anything. Easier said then done I know, but just between you and me, I've bitched about wanting to be a better photographer for long enough. I think it's time to actually do something about it rather than pretend that one day I'll be granted magical powers that make me awesome at anything I touch....

Until then though let's start at the beginning shall we?  What does photography mean to me? For me photography is about capturing a moment, a time, a place or a mood. Like a glimpse behind a drawn curtain, photography is a way to freeze a stolen glance of a world hidden from daily life. It is seeing the tiny, unnoticed details that form the essence of a moment and can tell a story.

Over the next two weeks, I'll be using this space as my photo journel as I dive into this e-course, expanding upon the above and further developing my eye. Get excited.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Titles are hard

Apologies for the delay in posting Nuggets. Poor S. Monster's been a bit under the weather ever since we got back from our delightfully impromptu road trip. Being the good wifey that I am tho, I've taken fine care of him these past few days (I made him instant chicken noodle soup and everything!), but in the process somehow managed to put off writing anything with substance... my bad.

To top it all off my computer's apparently decided to go on strike, randomly shutting down or freezing up every 5 minutes. It took me nearly all day to upload and edit 10 photos. It's been fun. I've decided to go on the offensive though. Sledge hammers and computers totally mix right? 

In other news, I have like a billion 3 posts in various stages of half done, but fret not. While I gather my wits about me (and continue to procrastinate) I leave you in the (questionably) capable, hilariously funny hands of Hannah from My Drunk Kitchen

Saturday, September 24, 2011


{via here}
S. Monster and I are hitting the open road this weekend. It's been far too long since my last trip and my restless soul needs some wide open space to roam. 

See you Monday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

{Design Edition} Surf Shack

How flippin' rad awesome is this surf shack owned by Richard Christiansen of the ad agency Chandelier Creative? Available for the exclusive use of their staff, clients and friends consider me jealous....and also looking at potential job opportunities there. 

What? Some people like a good health care benefits, me, I prefer travel benefits. Besides, let's be honest here, anyplace that calls themselves "Awesomeville" is automatically a-okay in my book.  
{Via Here and HonestlyWTF}

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

{Travel Tuesday} Dublin Edition: The Supper Club Project

Last week S. Monster and I had the good fortune to snag one of the few remaining reservations for Dublin's newest popup venture, The Supper Club Project
{Sabek and Wye preparing for the night.
Via here}

Run by the amazingly talented (and uber adorable) chefs  Sandy Sabek and John Wye, the Supper Club Project is an 8 course taster menu held once a month. A labor of love, Sabek and Wye create a night that reaches the highest degree of excellence rarely found here in Dublin. From the attention to detail, to the ambiance, service and, of course, the food, nothing is overlooked. 
{Presentation is everything. Foie Gras with almonds, black fig chutney, pickled celery and baby beets
Via here}
S. Monster and I first stumbled across The Supper Club Project back in May and immediately knew we had to attend again. At 65 per person it's not the cheapest night out and as the date approached we were worried that the second time would never be able to live up to the first. How wonderfully wrong we were. 
{ nom nom!}
Glasses of elderflower processo and truffle parmeson popcorn greeted us upon arrival as we mingled (or rather would have mingled were we not scarfing down the popcorn like it was our job) and waited to be seated. With a maximum capacity of only 32 guests seated at one of 2 long wooden tables, the evening was an intimate affair. A welcome change from the usual seclusion you find yourself in at most restaurants, it created a lovely festive atmosphere only further fueled by the BYOB policy (which we most definitely took advantage of). 
{Desert of champions: White Chocolate and Lemon Verbena with parfait, basil and caramelized pine nuts.
It tasted like heaven
via here}
Sabek and Wye, along with their incredible team, put together a new menu that was as outstanding as the last. As someone who was an incredibly picky eater, primarily only eating fried food, cheerios and peanut butter for the first 18 years  of her life, I've come a long way to self confessed foodie. That said, it still speaks volumes of Sabek and Wye's talents that dishes such as Foie Gras and Plaice, when prepared in their magical hands, were so delicious I could not get enough. It was like tasting a rainbow.
{The only dish I managed to photograph before devouring.
The fact that it was the first one of the night is only a minor detail.
Egg Yolk Raviolo with braised ox cheek, shallot, watercress and celeriac puree.}

After our first time I swore that the second time around I would take better pictures of the evening. But with the lovely company, pleasant conversations, delicious food, glasses of bubbly and wine (lots and lots of wine) I didn't stand a chance. I did however manage to take a lot of really questionable photos of halfway eaten dishes and/or empty plates. So at least there's that. 
Chef Sabek and I at the end of the night. Probably should have used a flash...
and not had so much to drink

{For more information check out their website: The Supper Club Project}

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finding your voice

sneak peak of my painting: 
  "The Flighty Temptress, Adventure"

Thank you all so much for the sweet comments and notes of encouragement from my post the other day about facing fears.

Another related issue that I’ve struggled with these past 2 years, has been finding my voice as an artist. As someone whose always known who she was in the academic sense and yet who only recently started developing who I am as an artist, it's been a weirdly wonderful journey of discovery. 

If you're interested, I wrote about my trials, tribulations and triumphant in finding my voice over at Calalita Designs. I've also (finally) included photos of a few paintings - including the very first one I ever did in all of it's unruly wonder. So go take a gander (here) and let me know what you think  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Please stand by: Technical Difficulties

This is a story about how Blogger and Google Reader teamed up to make me look a fool.

The other day drafts of 2 different posts accidentally got published before they were supposed to. They were live for about an hour before I realized what had happened and could delete them. I didn't think much of it at the time until today when I (re)published one of them only to have a friend then email me asking why I had posted 2 identical write ups about the chair Mae I upholstered.

Apparently if you delete a post after it's been live, even if no trace of it shows up on your dashboard or on your blog, Google Reader will still make sure it lives on infinitely.

At least I didn't write about something super embarrassing like the time (read: this morning) I hadn't realized my foot was asleep until I fell on my face after trying to stand up.

Or that time at summer camp when I was 8 and in my haste to go swimming accidentally took my top off before realizing I did not actually have a bathing suit on.

That would have been awkward.

As it stands, for those of you who have Google Reader congrats, you now get to read about my awesome chair twice.

I will, however, save you the hardship of having to reread about a super rad pair of Frye Harlow Campus Booties in charcoal I'm totally crushing on these days.

The End.

{Design crush} Introducing Ms. Mae

Happy Friday! I'm off to the studio but I thought I'd share an introduction of Ms. Mae, one of the first chair's I upcycled and reupholstered completely on my own.

Perfectly imperfect, this sweet gal was almost beyond repair. With a bit of love, and a lot of elbow grease (and potentially some swearing), she’s been given a lovely new lease on life. 

To see more pics of Mae, including her before & after makeover, check out my write up on the process over at Calalita Designs.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

{Fashion Fix Thursday} The perfect dress

If I were a dress, I would be this dress. 

Teal, short, form fitting with a low cut back...covered in sequins. 

Lots and lots of sequins. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

{Fashion Fix} Ladylike Luxe

With fall already here (in Dublin, it only ever leaves for winter), I find myself drawn more and more to lovely lady like silhouettes and staples.  Add in some tights, oxfords and chunky cardigans for those chilly Irish days and we're good to go!

{via Simply SeductivePinterest}

Here's to living

Last week was one of those no good, horrible weeks. The kind where you feel like you can’t do anything right, where the world seems to conspire against you and you find yourself asking - what’s the point?

Rather than turn outward for help though I turned inward, allowing myself to wallow in my own insecurities, doubts and self pity.

This in turn resulted in a lot of cookie dough eating.

I will say this though, rather than let what I have now affectionately titled ‘the darkness’ consume me, I turned toward sketching. I forced myself to use the negativity for productivity to fuel my imagination to create monstereous, flesh melting creatures needed for the concept art I’m doing for an online game. I find it hard to really get the whole disturbing monster thing down when life is full of unicorns and rainbows.

And even though guilt ate me up for not devoting much needed time to this blog or Calalita Designs, I know myself well enough to not go after these things I love when battling The Darkness. Even though it pained me, taking time to clear my head and reset my priorities was vital.

The thing is, life around here lately has been a bit chaotic. Huge changes full of unknown variables are on the horizon which is a bit scary in itself but when combined with uncertainties and insecurities from just launching a business - it can all be a bit maddening.

This weekend though, I realized a simple yet profound truth. Life can be however I want it to be. Yes, there will be challenges and difficulties to face, but rather than letting those situations dictate my direction, I can choose how I want to react.

If I had wanted an easy life I would have chosen the path of least resistance. I would not have started my own business in an industry where I had to teach myself everything, in a city where it feels as though it’s not what you do, or how well you do it, but rather who you know that dictates how much you succeed. Talk about imposing. And frustrating!

Calalita Designs was born out of necessity as much as love. There has always been an unexplainable drive to prove myself as financially independent and when I suddenly found myself married, in a country where I was neither allowed nor had to work, that desire grew into an (questionably unhealthy) obsession.

I had always wanted to have my own business and do something creative so the timing seemed ripe to somehow combine the two. I mean, if I couldn’t get a job working for someone else, why not work for myself? It took me 2 years to figure out exactly what I wanted and another 6 months to get it going.

But here I am, doing what I love and trying to find my way in this big wide world. I’m not sure where this will all lead or if it will even succeed but I can’t worry about anymore. For too long, I’ve stressed out over this unnecessary pressure I’ve put on myself, thinking I have to “succeed” in a purely monetary sense. I haven’t really mentioned that because heaven forbid I sound vain, but it’s true. The need to prove myself financially independent has steered me away from the point of Calalita Designs - to do something I loved.

I’d wake up in the morning and dread having to go into the studio, or work on a new painting. And then I’d feel guilty for not loving doing what I love. Who does that? Crazy people and me. That’s who.

The pressure I put on myself wasn't real. I finally understood that it’s been nothing but useless. I’ll have to work whenever S. Monster and I move back to the States but I don’t and can’t for right now and that’s ok. I want to do what I love and not feel like it has to succeed right this very minute or I’m a failure at life.

I just want to do the best I can with what I have and know that it's enough. Maybe it succeeds, maybe it doesn’t, but that’s ok. I don’t know where this will lead, but I believe in what I’m doing and I know that I’m on the right path.

Let's face it, this is not the easiest path, and I will continue to be plagued by difficulties, but damn if I’m not prepared to fight to stay here. I want to live a creative life - not because I feel I have to - but because I want to.

Here's to living your passion and loving your life

{via Pinterest}

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jump & Jive

This is too amazing not to (re)blog. 

Here's to a lil Sunday night groovin'

{via here}

Friday, September 2, 2011

{Travel Edition} A Romanian Pitstop

Wedged in between Budapest and Istanbul lay a brief pitstop in Romania during a 3 week Eastern European trip (read more about it here, here and here)

Misprinted train information resulted in a less than 24 hour stay rather than the initially planned 2 day adventure in this land of Gypsies and Vampires. 

Our train coming in arrived later than expected and was scheduled to depart 8 hours earlier than anticipated the following day. Mis-stamped bus tickets almost resulted in a 50 leu fine, while misquoted information from our booked lodging for the night led us on a 6 hour wild goose chase through the Transylvania countryside in search of a place we never found. As a consequence, we arrived at Bran's castle, the sole highlight of our trip, just as it closed for the evening. 

Even with the best of intentions, it was only after everything went utterly, hopelessly awry that things started to fall into place. Stranded in Bran, with no place to stay and no idea what to do, we found ourselves caught up in a moment of spontaneous uncertainty, where there was nothing to do but let go of any notion of control and embrace whatever the open road had in store.  

It was then that we met a group of 3 couples after they sat down at the table next to us. One thing led to another and we soon discovered our new neighbors were on a bike tour from Israel. They were staying at a lodge up the road and when they learned of our predicament,immediately invited us to come stay the night with them. 

With an open mind and with no other alternatives, we gathered our bags and followed them to a quaint guest house ran by a lovely French woman. The rest of the evening was spent laughing, drinking and reveling in their shared tales of adventure, travel and life. 

Romania was nothing like we had anticipated and yet it was all the better because of it. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pricing your work

{via Etsy via Kelly Rae Roberts}

I'm a big fan of Kelly Rae Roberts. I adore her and her style, but most importantly I love her honesty, eloquence and humility on discussing topics that, as an artist, I find myself bumping up against on a frequent basis. 

One such topic is pricing you work. Etsy recently featured an overview of her thoughts on the matter, and I found them to be incredibly helpful. Though I think there's a difference between selling art in the traditional sense versus art in furniture or home decor, I do think a lot of Kelly Rae's points still apply.   

As someone who is just starting out, pricing my work has been a struggle for me. With my furniture, some of my pieces took ages to complete. I am entirely self taught in my craft and this first furniture collection involved a massive learning curve. I learned, repeatedly, the hard way when something didn't work. As a result I spent a lot of unnecessary hours redoing and amending mistakes that (hopefully!) can be avoided in the future. 

My goal for the furniture side of this business of mine is to create beautiful, funky, one-off pieces that are not only original and unique, but also affordable. I truly believe that every home should have a piece of furniture or decor that they love and that speaks to their character. Trying to find the balance between pricing based on current economic situations, competitiveness and affordability versus costs of materials and time put in though, has been nothing short of difficult. As this was my first collection, I found myself undervaluing pieces. Basing my pricing off what I would spend on the piece. I also found myself consumed with the tinnest of flaws and despite no one but myself bearing witness, or even knowledge of these, I still felt compelled to price things accordingly. 

To give you a bit of perspective, the first piece I sold, after I took away the costs of materials and the stall at the market, left me with a wage earned of less than 5 euros an hour. Impressive I know. 

Kidding aside, I realize that as I grow in skill the time it takes to complete each piece will decrease and my rates will be able to better reflect my ability. But at the end of the day I didn't start this purely for monetary gain - I did it out of love and passion for what I do.  

{Design crush} Martini Table

This martini table may be a bit too OTT for my tastes (mostly because I need things that can withstand my clumsy destructive ways) but damn if this isn't the prettiest lil table I ever did see. With it's raw organic top balanced perfectly by the ultra glam gold metal base, it's a fabulous study of contrasts. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mustard + Grey

Calalita Designs, or rather Ms. Ivy, has been featured in an oh so charming Mustard + Grey Treasury on Etsy! 

To see the full treasury, with links to all of the fantastic shops, go check out the full post on Calalita Designs


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Postcard Swap

Back in July I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the oh so lovely Kat's first Liberate your Art Postcard Swap. 170 participants from 13 countries and 37 US States came together to liberate 1020 pieces of art through the use of postcards. 

How Kat manages to pull this off while simultaneously organizing a move from Italy to Organ and running an e-course, I'll never know - but pull it off she did. 
My art liberated on postcards. Clockwise from the top: "Home is wherever I'm with you" mixed media  painting on canvas, "Dino Bot" mixed media painting on paper, "Let Go" mixed media painting on canvas, and "In a world full of shame and regret do something to be proud of" photograph. 

My postcards, along with a lil note and painting all packaged up and ready to be shipped off

This was such a wonderful experience and I loved receiving such unique and lovely works of art from all over the world.  Each postcard boosted a sweet heartfelt comment or inspirational quote, but to read it in Kat's words, makes you realize the full depth to which this project was felt. 

All my lovely new liberated works of art!
Paula Bogdan @ Little Scraps of Magic

 I love softness of this photo. It's so sweet and delicate
Anglea P. Shenk @ Peach Coglo

'We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world"- The Buddha
Anita @ Going a Little Costal

"Every artist was once an amateur" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jo Murray @ Jo Murrary Art

An acyrlic painting on canvas, this is the closest I'm getting to a summer here in Dublin. Every time I look at this sweet beach scene it makes me smile (and wish for a pina colada!)
Gail @ Picturing the Year

'In the right lighit, at the right time, everything is extraordinary" - Aaron Rose

A postcard from the amazing Kat herself!

 I love that it's a picture of a Vespa, I think of her every time I look at it!

A huge success drawn from a simple gesture, Kat created something that I know will continue to thrive and prosper for years to come. Thank you to everyone who participated and to those artists whose cards I received. Each and everyone made my day, and I as I hang them up around my place they serve as not only a constant reminder of how connected we all are, but what we are all capable of as well. xx

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