The gold words on the tiny plaque glistened up at me.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.56.55 PM

“Live your dreams
with eyes wide open.”

I was sitting on a bench in the middle of the forest, helping Finn catch pokemon, while Oliver played in the river. I’d been crying. I had a fun filled weekend with the Kindreds who I love so dearly…but was feeling an intense introversion I could not shake. I’m heading into a new season of trying to listen to who I am, alone. I need to to create space outside of Flora Forager, and to be able to be present with family. It’s hard to make changes and take flight, but that’s what I need to do in order to be healthy and “live my dreams, eyes wide open.” I’ve decided to take a break from the writing group and Kindred Magazine.

I asked the boys to come up with spirit names for the summer. Oliver came up with Magmatron.  Then he picked Oakwood for a middle name.  Finn smiled really big when I told him I thought he should be Eagle or Glacier, but decided he didn’t want a name.  When I asked the boys what my name was they both said it should be a flower.  Then Oliver said, “Poppy!” and Finn agreed. Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.57.14 PM

Poppies remind me a little of butterflies with their three stages of beauty.  The fuzzy bud, the frothy flower, and the silver seed pod. I felt like perhaps it was a sign for me to allow myself change.  I put one of my coral poppies behind my ear and imagined what my future life would look like for me to live as a poppy. I feel like the seeds inside the dying pod are about to take flight and find somewhere new to grow and bloom. I am silvery and a bit sorrowful, but though it may take a season, bright petals will come.

 

To Catch a Thief

I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief for the first time tonight.  I adore Cary Grant, but I can’t remember ever seeing Grace Kelly in a film. She was so much more darling than I pictured she would be.  It’s a little disconcerting to see her speeding along the cliffs (because that’s how she died) but her amazing outfits and glowing skin are so radiant you soon forget about how macabre that seems (it is a Hitchcock after all). And if you can’t travel to the french riviera, or the french riviera in 50’s technicolor, this movie is a beautiful substitute! There’s even a costume party with lanterns where everyone is dressed Marie Antoinette clothing! And a chase through a flower market :) I immediately started screen grabbing images as I was watching…Desktop50

Flora Forager, a seasonal journal collected from nature

My book is available for pre-order! Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 5.21.40 PM

It’s a journal with lined pages, 12 full page nature scenes (3 for each season), and spot art throughout.  80% of it is brand new, and the rest are Flo Fo classics. It is published by Seattle based Sasquatch Books, and distributed by Penguin Random House.  When I first announced it it shot up to the 2,000’s on the Amazon bestseller list! (out of over 8 million books).  And it is the #1 new release in Flowers in Biological Sciences! So exciting!  It really is the most beautiful journal I’ve ever seen. I’m so happy with it…and proud of it! I spent so much time, tears, and love on this thing. You can pre order here:

 

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Sakura

Beau and I traveled to Japan last week!

I had always wanted to go.  Every glimmer of culture that floated over to me from the east intrigued me.  It seemed so mysterious, mystical, and beautiful. We hoped against hope that the cherry blossoms would be blooming while we were there, a too-short season of about one week that many people miss or arrive too early for.

We made it at just the right time!Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.31.37 PM

Oh the cherry blossoms!  Green ones with pink stripes, Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.33.23 PM

big lavender puff balls almost as big as my palm, Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.38.39 PM

pink as brilliant as a sunset, or light as cotton candy, Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.33.41 PM

long sticks covered in white pom poms, Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.32.31 PM

and weeping branches that looked like a waterfall of flowers.Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.32.19 PM

every tree brought gasps and paparazzi and Sakura fever.

The Japanese people are crazy about their cherry blossoms. Called Sakura there, they have a whole festival called Hanami dedicated to it.  Picnic spots are reserved early in the day under the pink clouds, lanterns strung, and confections of all sorts are made in cherry blossom flavor.  Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.40.55 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.31.26 PM

I LOVED it. You know me and pink!

The other favorite thing, which I had no idea about until I was there, is matcha.  Matcha, matcha, matcha! Replace Seattle’s love for coffee and chocolate with this green tea and you would come close to the adoration the Japanese have for Matcha.  Everywhere we went there were three options for ice cream: Sakura, Vanilla, and Matcha! The Sakura Dango, or mochi on a stick, is in green, pink and white colors. Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.34.01 PM

And so much of the decor for shops and winding streets is themed in these colors.  It was magic I wasn’t even expecting! Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.33.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.32.53 PM

While in Tokyo we went to the Shinjuku Garden and saw hundreds of cherry trees, some past their prime, some just opening, some so full of glorious fluffy beauty you could barely push past the crowd to see them! We luckily went early and got our fill of solitude before the hoards of Hanami picnickers made their way in. Little ponds full of petals, paths lined with iris meadows, and darling tea houses were waiting for us.Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.40.00 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.33.51 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.33.13 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.32.05 PM

In Kyoto we stayed in a little traditional flat on a river.  I could open wide our two double glass doors out onto a view of a dark pink double cherry tree weeping over the water. There was a yellow pagoda style building behind it.  We could lay on our pink futons and tatami mats drinking tea just watching the world float by. It was heaven.Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.39.40 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.32.41 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.39.26 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.38.56 PM

On one of our days we decided to take the train into the countryside to see wild cherry blossoms. Yoshino is a little town dappled along a narrow ridge.  We took a gondola up to the the base of the ridge and hiked to the top.  There were groves of cherry trees all around us and the wind was full of sweet smelling petals.  There were what seemed like thousands of steps, but there was always astounding beauty all around, even on the steps!

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We would pop into shrines to see the simple beauty of zen gardens, simple stone statues, strung origami cranes, lanterns, and sacred springs. Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.37.39 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.45.23 PM

The peak held for us a few others who had taken the same pilgrimage from different parts of Japan. We were suddenly friends the way all hikers who have scaled a mountain suddenly become.

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(at the top!)

I looked out over the cherry tree canopy in awe, washed my hands in the spring at the top of the mountain, and asked God to show himself to me. I little bird flitted above me and landed in a rafter of the shrine.  I think God does show himself to us constantly in the beauty of nature.  But sometimes it takes a long journey, a fasting of familiarity, and the possibilities of other magic worlds to remember him. The Sakura did that for me. Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.37.28 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.37.49 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.40.23 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.41.43 PM

Master Copy

Over the last year, and the journey of all things Flora Forager, one of my favorite things has been my recreations of masterpieces I love. I hope to do many more! I thought I’d give a little explanation and side by side comparison.  Something I can’t do on Insta!Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.34.05 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.36.33 PM

Beau and I saw Boticelli’s Birth of Venus in Florence. I gasped.  I had no idea how big it would be!  It, along with Primavera, have been a couple of my favorites since art history in high school. I feel a little like how the greats from the old ages must have felt trying to discover new pigments and styles.  “painting” with flowers is a whole new medium and gives lots of Eureka type discoveries, wilting challenges (pun intended), and a vast world of discovery.  I am in the age of exploration in the garden, ready to usher in a new age of art! (or at least..a new instagram sensation). I wish there were aqua flowers!Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.34.16 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.37.41 PM

I made my Pietà on Good Friday. I have yet to travel to the Vatican city and see Michelangelo’s Pietà, but I remember seeing it in my textbook in a religious art class in College and crying. I read about how Chagall would paint the crucifix because he felt there was no other symbol of sorrow that could convey the suffering of the Jewish people in his work. I’ve come to agree with him. Not only do I love how Christ is the final passover, the first born son and sacrifice that began with the Pharoah and ended with God letting his people go, which is mood as F, but I also just adore Mary. I wanted to create a floral icon reminiscent of Greek icons. I have one of her and baby Jesus with gold halos similar to this that I picked out on Santorini, Greece.

I didn’t know when I first saw The Pietà that I would have three sons myself, and it means even more to me now.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.37.19 PM Klimpt’s Mother and Child. I’ve gone into detail before about this piece on the blog, specifically about the whole piece, The Three Stages of Woman. When we saw Klimpt’s works in Vienna I was struck by how similar the gold flowers littered on the palace lawn looked like his paintings.  I wanted to try to recreate it. I love this piece mostly because it’s me right now. I’m beginning to transition out of this stage and it’s a little heartbreaking.  I have a large canvas of my floral version on our wall.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.34.40 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.36.56 PMThe Great Wave! In college I wrote a 15 page paper of the Floating World of Ukiyo-e. I was obsessed with Hokusai and Japanese prints, and still have a softness for them. We’re finally going to Japan next month! I can’t wait to soak in the culture, beauty and art of the country that’s given us anime, sushi, geishas, samurai, miyazaki, nintendo, miatas, and I could keep going and going but you get the idea!

This and that, and a lot of other things.

The big white magnolia across the street is dropping petals. They’re strewn about our street as cars whiz past.  I imagine we live on a rushing river, and the petals are floating by.

Beau and I have been making Japan plans all morning. I just found out you can go to a cafe in the Harajuku district that has a bunch of owls you can pet and play with. The website is all in Japanese, but Beau has been learning the language so hopefully we’ll get a reservation. Suddenly the hope of owls has been added to bamboo forests and geishas.  We’re about to be spirited away to a magical world.

I’m getting my hair done this week with COLOR. A garden inspired hair print done by How To Hair Girl. Aqua, pink, purple, peach…I’ll fit right in in the harajuku district. Or the circus…

Beau is not excited. But I am. I’ve always wanted to be a my little pony.

My anxiety has been pretty high lately. It has been debilitating some days, other days just an edge. Choosing which opportunities to take with Flora Forager has been wrenching for me.  I turned down a large soft drink company this week. I just didn’t feel right about promoting what my friend Juliana calls “diabetes in a can.” I may do an exhibition in Paris in the fall with a perfume brand, though.  But there’s negotiations to be made for that as well. Everything in business is like a dance I don’t know the steps to. I feel like I have two left feet while everyone else seems to have the rhythm down. And I’m not sure I don’t just want to be a wall flower. It’s taking its toll.

My work was on the April subscription cover Country Living Magazine. I’ve been a huge fan of their magazine for forever! And there’s an article about me in Flower Magazine. These are exciting, thrilling, pinch-me things. But still a little nerve wracking for someone with social anxiety. Even good things can be a little daunting. It’s not that I’m not grateful or that I don’t want these things, it’s that all the excitement means chest pain and nerves a few days later. I worry what people think, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that.

Remember how I have three kids, too?  I can’t believe that used to be my only worry.  Because it was worry enough to send me into a tizzy and need help. It took me a long time to pick Finn up at school without feeling worried about talking to people. Here I am taking on ten times as much.  Luckily I have Beau, and the boys are getting older. I’m handling things as they come in life, and they seem to happen at the right times.

My boys are my sun and moon and stars. Finn is golden, Oliver is swarthy, and Harry has a twinkle in his eye. Life with them is like a constant carousel ride, with all the swirling sparkles and lights, and “oh my god am I going to fall off??” moments.

I’m working on a children’s book that I’m very excited about.  Different from my journal coming out in August (equally exciting).  It’s my own idea, and I’m creating the images before I reach out to publishers. And I’m keeping it mostly secret. So I feel a special sort of warmth in creating things that are just for my eyes.  No weird instagram comments, no editor, no boundaries.  I’m just delighting in playing with flowers just for the sake of it. I’m sure it’ll all change when I do have a publisher, but for now it’s a beautiful outlet.

With everything blooming in Ravenna life feels pretty perfect. My usual route to the bakery through the woods is burgeoning with chartreuse buds over every scattered branch. There are little meadows in every yard, anemones, crocuses, daffodils, violets. Trailing vines of clematis, overflowing bushes with all manner of different camellias. And one of the streets is entirely lined with cherry blossom buds juuust about to open. It’s raining today but it has that warm, spring quality to it that makes you feel alive and cozy as apposed to dead and oppressed. I got some bright blue boots so I could feel like a blue footed booby, so rain is a little more exciting right now.

I’m really into a mix of chia seeds, toasted flax seeds, green juice, and coconut milk in the morning for breakfast. I’ve been eating really healthy lately.  Salads, fish, pulses, whole grains. I feel amazing. I also eat a lot of chocolate.

My dog has one pink toe.  Just one. He’s magic.

Our friends, the Campfields, are moving to Hawaii. I’m not going to lie, I’ve looked at real estate there a couple times.

When I was at the Korean Spa with Joey and Rachel last week I imagined we were in a cave when we were in the Jade room.  And the heat was from a dragon or a volcano. And then I told them that.  And they were like, yeah totally. I love my friends. When I was younger I was in a constantly streaming world of imagination.  Now I just get glimpses every once in a while. I live for them.

The rain just stopped.  And Beau is speaking Japanese to his computer.  And Digory is asleep next to me on a big pink pillow. And a new book literally just came in the mail.

 

Artist Love: Pierre Bonnard 1867-1947

Beau and I went to the Impressionism exhibition at the SAM for my birthday. I fell in love with the bright colors and dreamy, light filled quality of Bonnard’s paintings. IMG_7091

Fascinatingly, a couple of his paintings were stolen from a gallery in London and discovered in an Italian kitchen 40 years later. They had been bought for around $100 but were worth $600,000!IMG_7087

My next painting endeavor is going to be trying my hand at impressionism.  I’ve tried with watercolor, but I think gouache will give me better results. Stay tuned!

Me in front of a wall of renoir’s Picking Flowers:IMG_6973

More about Digs

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions about our new eskipoo Digory.  First off, he’s half miniature poodle and half miniature American Eskimo Dog. Both breeds are highly intelligent, obedient, and fiercely loyal. (And oddly, have a history as circus dogs)

He’ll be under 15 lbs!

I have absolutely no allergies to him. At first I was really worried because he still had the dander of his mother on him and what I can only describe as the scent of a gerbil cage.  I had itchy eyes and a rash on my skin from holding him.  But after a bath (for both of us) I now feel none of that. No allergy meds, and no keeping him from my face! This is a huge HUGE happiness for me. I can’t even hug my friends with pets or I can’t breathe, get itchy eyes, and get an earache. It’s really bad. I took a chance on Digory and miracle of miracles it’s worked out. Also, he doesn’t shed! No vacuuming :)

Why a puppy? I haven’t had this question, but I want to address it. I really wanted to get a rescue dog, but chose a puppy for two reasons. One, we went through the heartbreaking process of trying to adopt a little westie mix and they told us Harry was too young. And two, and my vet agreed, that puppies grow into your family with kids so are used to being lugged around and prodded, while a rescue dog can be a gamble as to whether it will be able to handle your kids. I did some research on the ranch Digory came from and the dogs are well cared for, the puppies held and loved by family, and the mother adopts kids from Haiti so they have beautiful new lives.  I felt really good about my decision.

I’m already so in love with this pup. It’s kind of insane how much. When I was a kid I read a fantasy book where the main character had a loyal dog who adored him and stayed by his side.  I remember thinking I wished I could have a dog like that, but that it was just a fairy tale. Digory adores me! He follows me around and wants nothing more that to sit on the couch with me and coo. (He literally coos, it’s so cute.) I think of how I always said we’d never ever have a pet because of my allergies, and my fears of another thing to take care of, and start to tear up. I’m so happy I have Digs.

Digory

IMG_7414We got our new pup this week! He is the most darling thing ever. He loves to snuggle, obey, and play! The boys are becoming fast friends, and I have been swooning since I got him. He is soft as silk and poofy as a bunny! We could not have imagined a better new best friend! IMG_7191IMG_7276IMG_7315IMG_7240

We picked the name Digory for The Magician’s Nephew from the Chronicles of Narnia. When he gets older we’ll call him The Professor :) IMG_7436IMG_7460IMG_7405IMG_7360IMG_7245IMG_7318IMG_7187

I love his white paws and the white tip on his tail. They make me think of a fox! Sometimes poodles lighten up quite a bit after they grow so I’m cherishing his raw sugar color while it lasts! IMG_7317