Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodbye Summer...

On the last day of August, I thought I'd make a collage to sum up what I did this Summer.

1. Enjoyed lots of fresh flowers, from the farmers market, supermarket or given me, as I have no garden at the moment;
2. washed all of my linens, doilies and antique lace, in order to have them ready and lavender-smelling when I have to use them;
3. ate comfort food but then realized I had to choose positive thinking instead;
4. had my coffee filter roses published in Somerset Life (thanks again, Christen!);
5. assembled a portable studio in a vintage train case (absolutely love it!);
6. had my eco- chic stationery published in Green Craft Magazine (thanks Amanda and Jennifer!)
7. felt free;
8. had fun with fabric tape;
9. answered my 'calling' and expanded my art portfolios;
10. made lavender bundles for the cold season ahead;
11. explored the surroundings together with my dear ones;
12. created inspiration stones.
I must tell you I thoroughly enjoyed summer 2011, even if with its ups and downs! Hope you had a nice one, too.
Now... waiting for Autumn, my favorite Season!... Yippee!!
Monica x

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bitten by the Pinterest Bug...

During my recovery after surgery, I've joined Pinterest, after discovering by chance I had been pinned. By the way, maybe you've been too without even knowing! You can check, just putting your blog name, instead of mine, in this link:
http://pinterest.com/source/the-white-bench.blogspot.com/
Here's how some of my boards look like:



For those of you not familiar with Pinterest, the concept is really simple: virtually 'pin' on inspiration boards what you like around the Internet! It's a kind of visual book, like those many of us make with clippings from magazines.
I like it, because it pins images and links, so you can always keep track of something interesting you had seen before. Of course, I have no intention to abandon my inspiration books made of 'real clippings', to curl up with during the cold months or when I do need a little treat, but my Pinterest boards are quite a nice addition to them!
I have met several friends and bloggers there, and our boards are a fun way to know each other more, too.
If you want to join, request an invite on the main page (I received reply and a link to jump on board within 5 minutes, but I know some people waited nearly a week!).
... I must warn you, though... it's addictive!;)
Happy pinning,
Monica x.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

To all of my American Friends and Readers...

... on the East Coast, waiting for hurricane Irene...
Thinking of you, praying for you!


Stay safe, everyone.
Monica x
FYI: comments closed on this post.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

At the Moment I am...

1. FEELING:

Really blessed, even if at times I may not notice. Sometimes I complain that I don't have a nest for my husband, doggie and I, that our stuff is stored away, etc. But when I look at my life from another perspective, then I am at peace. I have painted this mixed media a few days ago... I believe it sums up how I'm feeling right now just perfectly.

2. ANSWERING:

My 'calling'. I've always been an artist, but now I have decided to say a loud, clear YES to what is calling me! And I'm working accordingly. I am in the process of having a new website designed, hope things won't take too long, but I'm taking one step at a time. I'm practicing self- compassion and giving myself permission. Answering this call involved a great work on myself, on my fears, my committment... my heart and mind are clear now, and I seem to have endless energy. Hope this lasts!

3. EXPANDING:

My art+ photo portfolios. Do you remember my word for 2011 was 'EXPAND'?

4. STARING:

At this amazing 'just because' gift I received from my husband! An incredible box of 120 Caran d'Ache Supracolor!! I have never had such a large assortment of water- soluble artist crayons! What I'm using at the moment are spared crayons of the same brand I keep in a chocolate box... from my school years... This gift is fabulous- now when will I have the courage to use them???? :)

5. ART-JOURNALING:

... Or at least let's say I'm trying! I love painting backgrounds, like these, but when it comes to actual journaling, I feel turned down as I don't know where to start from (and maybe I'm fearful of putting my heart + soul on paper too). These pages are meant to be filled with my innermost thoughts and feelings... let's see.

6. POSTPONING:

I meant to keep you updated on the move, but things have been everchanging in the latest months, and I had no way to tell you something certain.
Now we have decided to postpone the move to the new year, because my husband's job is absorbing all his energies right now, and we have so many things to plan. Maybe we will be able to organize ourselves a bit more (and have time to plan!) going on a mini vacation in Autumn, as we haven't taken a single day off this summer (Saturdays and Sundays included!:-O)

7. EXPLORING:

The surroundings, and collecting natural elements (stones, foliage, flowers, etc). Can you believe I picked up the first horse chestnuts (from Aesculus hippocastanum) last week? Such an odd Summer this one! I have worn woolen sweaters in July, and now we are in the middle of a horrible heat wave that's melting us... and there are already horse chestnuts! In August!!
By the way, for those of you who kindly asked, my left hand is doing well. Not able to raise weights, yet, but I'm working on that.

8. ENJOYING:

... our brand new polka- dotted mugs (bought them in blue and red)! Isn't this cute?

9. STOPPING:

... eating Nutella! I'm lucky that I'm really NOT a chocolate person, but I've experienced moodiness after my surgery, and I did this no-no!! I usually pay attention to what I eat, if it is healthy, organic, not fat, etc. Chocolate is also soo baaaaad for my weight!

10. LAUGHING:

These pics of Kim playing with her brand new pig my Mom has brought home for her are not perfect, but they are so cute that I had to share with you!!!!

Hope you like being kept updated on what's happening over here!
Monica x

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Found Beauty #5

... Wildflowers on a stack of old linens and lace to be ironed... in early morning sunshine!
So simple, but this fills my heart with joy!

"Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair...".
Susan Polis Shutz.
Monica x.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Found Beauty #4, Vintage Treasures and French- inspired Tags.

Hello there, friends!
You know I love to capture beauty around me through my lens and the little things and moments that make me happy! And then share them with you...
This vintage camera is a family heirloom, as it belonged to my Grandfather (on my dad's side)...

It's not a precious camera, as money was tight and that was the only thing my Grandfather, with seven children, could afford. It's precious to my eyes, though... I actually didn't mean to take good pictures, to style professionally... What truly meant was to capture the magic of this object and my feelings, being able to hold it in my hands for the first time, observing each and every detail of it, smelling the vintage leather, bringing back memories. Just enjoying the moment.

The page I used as background in my little photo- shoot is one map of France from my vintage atlas, I found back in June at the flea market. And just in case you're wondering, I still haven't had the heart to cut it!! However, I have found another cheaper one for my paintings and creations :)


I also have been playing with the fabric tape I showed you some posts ago, making super fast and easy French- inspired tags. This project took me less than ten minutes.
I had no time to stain all of my tags, so I used plain tags, as they came out of the package (and only one I had stained before, so you can appreciate the difference). I usually love to stain paper before adding embellishments, but I must say I like the way the plain ones came out.


They are lovely to use for gift wrapping and even for display. See, I added one to my portable studio!

How did I make them? Just stamping down on the tag with my awesome Cavallini rubber stamps, then adding a dried lavender flower attached with a strip of fabric tape.


I also used one of them to add a touch of frivolity to my fabulous find of last week!! Vintage trunks and suitcases are at the top of my 'wish list' when I go antiquing and thrifting. During this transition in my life, without a house of my own, they are super useful to store my stuff too. Found these in my favorite thrift shop, and they were 50% off (so I REALLY made a great deal!). I bought these two and also a vintage cardboard suitcase.

My Dad had to help me fixing them a bit (... I'm cherishing these moments!), and then I spent endless hours lining them with book pages... but it was worth it!

Hope you're having a nice Summer weekend!
Monica x

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Inspiration Stones.

Inspiration stones are stones with inspiring, positive statements or words written or engraved on them. Using positive affirmations and inspiring words, we can reinforce our positive thinking, reach goals, focus on important things, and even counteract the negative thoughts that may stream through our minds, sometimes unconsciously.
I've always liked the idea of inspiration stones, for me or to give as meaningful gifts. There is a huge variety of ready made ones, but if your budget doesn't allow you to purchase them, or you are a DIY kind of person as I am, you can easily make your own. Without breaking the bank and having much fun!
Yesterday, my hubby and I gave ourselves quality time together in the park, and while enjoying those special moments, we collected rocks to be transformed into inspiration stones.

When it was time to write down something on them, I just sat down quietely and let my thoughts flow freely... these statements and words came to mind, and I just recorded them onto the stones. No pressure to make them perfect, I was just enjoying the process.


There are many ways you can embellish your stones, I opted for a simple, white coat of gesso and a black felt- tip pen to write on them. I then sealed the writing with transparent spray paint. Easy peasy. But you can choose to make yours colored, with drawings, collaged, and on and on. Just play.

I so loved making these that I'm planning to make more, maybe with stones picked when we'll visit places we love, during relaxing or joyful moments etc. I believe that adds to the inspiration!
Monica x

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In Green Craft Magazine.

I always try to go green as much as possible... recyclying, upcycling, saving water and energy, looking carefully at what I buy, etc... so whenever I'm published in Green Craft Magazine, my delight is doubled! I hope I can inspire other people to go green, even in the simplest of things!
Thank you to the Managing Editor Amanda Crabtree for giving me the opportunity to share my 'green' efforts, and to Editor Jennifer Jackson Taylor for the wonderful article she wrote about my eco- chic stationery.



As usual, I offer you here some additional shots by me... in order to appreciate some details not visible in the magazine.



This issue is jam- packed with wonderful projects to try: shopping bag stationery, jewelry from old water faucet handles, sweater pincushions, ruffled headbands, ideas using old maps, gorgeous scarves made out of worn sweaters, sewing paper gift bags, and on and on.
... Check it out!
Monica x.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Found Beauty #3- Pink Rosary.

For my Found Beauty post, this weekend I'm sharing this pink rosary, belonged to my husband's Grandmother, that I found in one of his drawers while I was packing our stuff before leaving our home, back in February. Needless to say, my hubby was happy to give it to me!

It was a hard time for me when I found it, and it's serendipitous that it has found the way to me once again now, when things are not going as planned and I need some comfort. I don't want my dear blogging friends to concern about me... let's say this moment of my life is helping me grow in grace, and I'm working to become a 'better me'.

To further lift my spirit (apart from eating Nutella), I arranged a bouquet with the hydrangeas I was given by my aunt, simply covering the stalks with burlap. Arranging flowers truly makes me happy!


Have a glorious, pink weekend everyone! Let's make the most of it.
Monica x.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gifts in the Mail!

I have met the most wonderful friends in Blogland!
Besides being supportive and helpful, being sweet, being kind, being fun, we also exchange opinions, secrets and little gifts every now and then! It might sound strange to non- bloggers, but I can assure the bonds you create in Blogland can be strong and fulfilling, often even stronger than in 'real life'.
Karriann and I were partnered for a Valentine Swap (my first and last) in 2008, and have immediately become very good friends. We like to surprise each other with a few tokens of friendship sometimes, that's why a parcel filled with goodies arrived at my doorstep last week.
Karriann is very talented in designing and making jewelry, and I am the proud owner of several of her pieces. Absolutely LOVE this simple Nest Necklace. Pearls... nest... a little birdie. Perfect.

And when I opened a little parcel wrapped in handmade paper, I just squealed with delight! Into a cute patchwork bag that Karriann sewed especially for me (I appreciate her efforts even more because she said she' s a beginner, and tried to make one just because she knew I like things like that!), she slipped a travel watercolor box, and a bundle of watercolor paper. A small 'take- along'... Isn't this thoughtful?

And she also surprised me with a little collage with a pic of me as a little girl! I adore the writing... "Her heart soars, and wonder never leaves her".

The old thread spool will be useful to store lace in my studio.

She also sent along a notebook, a beautiful book and magazines, to curl up and relax with during the long summers evenings. Thank you dear friend xoxo

I feel very blessed to have made such wonderful, thoughtful friends thanks to my blog! Everything was done especially for me... what a wonderful feeling, that someone REALLY thinks of YOU and cares, when assembling a gift! It was so rare before being a blogger (and I must confess, it was something I have lacked tremendously and suffered for, in the past).
Hope you are having a good week. Kim and I are trying to survive this awful hot and humid weather :(
Monica x