Do April Snow Shower Bring May Flowers?

Happy Homemaker Monday

LOL, for two days in a row in April, we have woken up to snow! I guess we will find out if snow showers have the same effect as the traditional April rain showers. All the schools around here cancelled today, which is actually fine by me! The kids have been tasked with doing some organization in their rooms. Since it’s a “free” day, we might as well make good use of it, right? 

April (snow) Showers

I also realized it has been forever since I linked up with Sandra at Diary of a SAHM for Happy Homemaker Monday. No time like the present, right?

The weather outside is::::
Snow!!! Yes, seriously. Welcome to spring in the Northeast. I can’t say I am too surprised. I will always remember the April Fool’s Day Blizzard of 1997 — snow this time of year is not really that uncommon, and it is short-lived so I get to enjoy the beautiful view knowing it will melt quickly. We had a couple inches yesterday morning and it was all gone by the afternoon.

On the breakfast plate this morning::::
I has some blueberry granola and vanilla Kefir with a cup of coffee, of course.

As I look outside my window:::
The snow is still falling and it looks very peaceful. No complaints here.

Right now I am::::
Sipping a cup of chocolate-covered cherry flavored coffee (it is so delicious) and hanging out with Jake while he eats breakfast.

As I look around the house::::
It’s the usual Monday chaos after the weekend. Actually, it’s not as bad as usual since I did a lot of cleaning on Saturday morning. Shouldn’t take too long to get in order.

On today’s to do list::::
checkmark laundry – fold and put away
checkmark vacuum/steam mop
checkmark general tidying up.

Happening this week::::
Monday… Snow day!
Tuesday… D. has some doctor appointments so he is taking a personal day. Maybe we’ll get lunch out.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday… Just the usual for the rest of the week

Currently reading::::
“Abandon” by Blake Crouch. I actually wanted to start the “Pines” series, but the day I went to get it from the library, it had just been picked up for a hold (grr…), so I decided to give this one a try. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. It goes in between modern day and the late 1800s. I’m not typically a huge fan of historical fiction, and definitely not Western-type stuff but I have to say this has me really intrigued!

On the TV today::::
Netflix added the 5th season of Bob’s Burgers, so I will probably watch and episode or two of that.

On the menu this week::::
Monday – Baked drumsticks and potatoes, zucchini
Tuesday – Meatballs & spaghetti, salad
Wednesday – Kielbasa grinders, chips, salad
Thursday – Chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Friday – Pizza night
Saturday – ?
Sunday – ?

What I am creating at the moment::::
I’m working on crocheting a bunch of drawstring bags for a Kickstarter game my husband is currently working on.

New recipe I tried or want to try this week::::
I’ve been in a bit of a recipe rut lately and haven’t tried anything new in a while. Maybe this afternoon I’ll get my cooksbooks out and find a couple things to try over the weekend.

Favorite photo from past few days::::
I took this photo this morning. My forcythia are just starting to bloom, and here they are covered with snow!

April (snow) Showers

Hope you all have a great week ahead!

Free Printable | Colorblock Event Stickers for EC Hourly

 Free Colorblock Event Stickers

TGIF and Happy April to you! I am still trying to catch up from Spring break and Easter weekend, but I am just popping in with a free planner printable for you guys today. It’s been a while since I posted one. But first, I have to tell you today’s exciting news…

I won this week’s #ECFanFriday contest! The theme was “monthly layout.” I rely heavily on my monthly as an overview to help guide my weekly planning, so I was very excited and inspired. I won an e-gift certificate for myself and one for a friend, which was super cool!

One of the stickers I use in my monthly layout, as well as my weekly layout, are these small, 1/4″ event boxes. They fit perfectly, and in the weekly the sticker takes up the space of a half-hour. I created this set using the more muted tones of the hourly and horizontal planners. I find them to be highly functional. Sometimes I’ll put a time in the block of color, or I’ll put the initial of a family member who has something going on (extracurriculars, for example).

Download my FREE Colorblock Event Stickers Here
 Free Colorblock Event Stickers

They’re simple, but I’ve come to realize that it’s just my style. I hope you enjoy them!

As usual, my free planner printables are for personal use only and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Use an electronic cutting machine like a Silhouette Cameo to cut your stickers, print them out on regular printer paper and then cut and paste into your planner using a tape runner, or else print them on full-sheet labels and just hand-cut the stickers.

My First Calligraphy Workshop

Bmas Calligraphy workshop in NYC

As I have mentioned ad nauseum, thanks to Instagram, I have been able to find a great group of calligraphy enthusiasts who share my love for pen and ink. Back in February, I learned that two of my favorite calligraphers, Joi Hunt (Bien Fait Calligraphy) and David Grimes (Masgrimes), would be hosting a workshop down in SoHo. I knew, instantly, that I had to figure out a way to make this happen.

I hustled to get a little extra copywriting work and excitedly secured my place for “A Foundation in Script Writing with Bmas Calligraphy” (at the early bird price!). Then I just had to wait for March 12 to get here. Being the nut that I am, I started to get nervous about going into the city by myself. I think the last time I went into NYC alone was back in 2004! Yeah, it had been a while. I had maps, I had apps, I had Plans B and C. Luckily for me, absolutely nothing went wrong. The weather was perfect, my timing was great, and I didn’t get lost.

I was also not the first one there (something that usually happens). I immediately recognized two other IG friends. It is always weird and wonderful to meet people in real life that you only know online. Surreal, in a way (but a good way). We made our way up to the workspace upstairs at the Lofts at Prince. David and Joi greeted everyone and both were so warm and welcoming! I felt nervous and awkward meeting these calligraphy rock stars, but they were awesome.

Once everyone arrived, we did introductions and then got into the meat of the workshop. As the title would indicate, we focussed on foundations. That is, we studied five strokes and how to manipulate the tines on our nibs to form these strokes correctly.

Bmasfamily Calligraphy Workshop, NYC

It is not as easy as you’d think. It was seriously a whole lot of study and work (that I am still continuing). David did a fabulous job diagramming the strokes and explaining everything. Joi and David were more than happy to answer our questions, as well as spend time with each student in the class. This one-on-one time was, in my opinion, what really made this workshop stand out. To be able to watch an expert calligrapher (though both are so modest, I’m sure neither would want me to use the word “expert” — but yeah they are!) show you how to make a V-stroke, and have their work on you practice paper? Pretty damn cool.

Bmasfamily Calligraphy workshop in NYC

The information I left with was so worth the price of the workshop. (And beyond that, I made new calligrafriends — and how can you put a value on that?!) I have been thinking about my letters in a whole new way: not as letters, but as a series of strokes. What cemented this type of thinking a was group exercise we did towards the end. David wrote a word and then, in groups, we wrote the word one stroke at a time. Each person drew a single stroke and we passed the sheet along until one by one, the word was finished. You can see my group’s work on one of the sheets in the photo above. (Allegory is like 26 or 27 strokes!.)

We also discussed Copperplate vs. Engrosser’s Script vs. Roundhand. We talked about nibs, about vintage nibs (and Joi gave everyone their very own vintage nib — I love this Blanzy 2552 below!), about paper, about pen holders, about ink… So much material was covered!

Bmasfamily Calligraphy workshop in NYC

My only regret was hastily leaving without getting a photo with Joi and David. Studying with these two lovely people was such an honor and I am feeling so encouraged and inspired to continue honing my calligraphy skills and look critically at my work to find out where I need to focus so I can improve. I hope the Dynamic Duo find their way back to New York for another workshop in the future. I would definitely attend! 

You have to start somewhere

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: I do not have awesome self-esteem. Like I wrote in my last post, I’m always comparing myself to others, seeking perfection (which, really, can almost never be obtained). In this age of social media, it’s so easy to let yourself feel down about whatever particular interest is important to you at the moment. Trying to lose weight? Someone will always work out harder, weigh less, eat better. Into decorating your planner? Someone is always going to have more money to buy nicer embellisments, have neater handwriting, be more organized. It doesn’t end, does it?

So when I really started practicing Copperplate, I was caught off-guard by how incredibly welcoming, helpful, and encouraging the online calligraphy community is (especially on Instagram). Artists freely share information on Periscope, they answer your questions, they will demonstrate a stroke or a letter multiple times so you understand. It is so very cool and so refreshing! And I think that’s what’s kept me working on it even though I am far from great. As the saying goes, “Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.” We all have to start somewhere and keep plugging along.

Since I’ll be spending all day at a workshop tomorrow studying the fundamentals of Engrosser’s Script, I thought it was a good time to compare where I am right now to where I was a few months ago. When I first brought home my dad’s old dip pens, I fooled around a little bit, wrote out a Richard Brautigan quote, and then got frustrated and put them away for quite a while. That’s the example on the top. Underneath is an example that I wrote in December 2015. Markedly better, but no shade and a lot of improper letter forms.

Calligraphy practice

And here’s the sample I wrote out this morning. Still so far from where it needs to be, but much better than just a few months ago!

Calligraphy practice

It is definitely encouraging and a good way to remind myself that I’m making improvements every time I pick up that pen. I know that having instruction from two incredibly talented calligraphers (David Grimes and Joi Hunt) is going to make a big difference in my work. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Feeling Restless

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Do you ever get this way? I feel like March is kind of a month of general restlessness for me. Winter is pretty much over (certainly the novelty is, anyway). Spring hasn’t quite happened yet. There may be a little taste of warm weather, but here in the Hudson Valley it is usually fleeting. That is certainly the case this week! Yesterday was deliciously warm, almost near 80! Today was still warm, though rainy. But we will be back into the 40s before you know it. It doesn’t stay nice enough to really get a good start on outdoor projects or major spring cleaning. So there are all these things that I want to do, but can’t. The grass is brown. The leaves haven’t popped at all yet. It’s just kind of a month of “ugh.”

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I also feel antsy because I’m anxiously awaiting my calligraphy workshop on Saturday (which I can’t wait for), and (finally!) the kids’ spring break the week before Easter (which I also can’t wait for). And Easter is so early this year, too! It just makes everything feel weird. So I decided to redecorate my blog. There may not be flowers outside, but darn it I’ll make sure I have them in my header, LOL!

Anyway… Sadly, I didn’t even get to really enjoy much of the nice weather yesterday. I was stuck getting new tires for Drew’s car.

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At least I got some knitting done while waiting around for hours. (I’m on a dishcloth kick at the moment.) It helped me block out CNN, which just ran the same stories over and over and over again. This summer will mark six years since we pulled the plug on cable and I can’t say I miss it too much.

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Oh, but speaking of television! Of course, we have Netflix (and Amazon Prime, but I find Netflix has more that interests me). I’ve been looking for a new show and today I finally found one — “The Returned.” How have I never heard of this show before today? It is right up my alley — moody, eerie, mysterious. I’m three episodes in and absolutely hooked!

I’ve also been feeling a little nostalgic lately, looking through old photos and thinking about how fast time passes. I’ve also been rereading some blogs that I used to read ages ago. Some are still active, others haven’t been updated in years. It also makes me long for the way blogging used to be — it was much more community-oriented and you actually made blog friends (!) instead of just hopping over for a single post. It was a good incentive to blog more and capture more. I’ve kind of been failing big time on my goal of taking more photos, keeping a memory journal, and of course, blogging more. I think I just get so wrapped up in perfection. There’s so much competition out there,don’t you think? Often it’s in our own heads, for sure. You’d think that by 40 I wouldn’t worry about it so much! Something to work on.

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Well, I suppose that’s all for tonight. Time to start getting the kids wound down for the evening. Have a great night (if anyone is even still reading)!

Hello March

Hello March

I must sound like a broken record, talking about how fast time flies, how busy the days are, and how I can’t believe (yet again), I haven’t updated with a decent post. So I’ll promise (yet again) that I’m vowing to get back to it, LOL! Must be a first-of-the-month thing, right? Spring is just around the corner, and it’s a great time to start and re-start good habits.

As for me, I’m coming off of some kind of cold or virus. Saturday afternoon, all of sudden, it hit me. It was weird, I can almost pinpoint the time I started feeling sick! Body aches, a headache, and I just could not stay warm. I cozied up in my rocking chair next to the roaring wood stove wearing a long-sleeve tee, a heavy hoodie, my bathroom, and a fleece blanket and I was still shivering. A cough decided to show up as well. Ugh. Sunday I just took it easy and started to feel better. Yesterday morning I was well enough to run a few errands, but in the evening the achiness returned. Still, nothing like Saturday.

Today I’ve just been catching up on things around the house, and not trying to do too much because I need to shake this. I caught up on the family’s laundry, and got things tidied up. I’m already itching to start some spring cleaning and switch into spring decor, but I need the temperatures to warm up a bit first. I’m growing weary of the cold and so very ready for some spring temperatures.

I also snuck in some calligraphy practice before the kids got home from school. I’m trying to be more deliberate and critical, and working on my letterforms (today I practiced full-pressure strokes) instead of just writing out pretty words.

 

A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

It’s really the only way to improve. Think of it like barre exercises for ballet dancers — unless you fully understand each pose, you can’t exactly put everything together and expect it to be beautiful. Does that make sense? Next weekend I’m attending a workshop down in the city and I am really looking forward to working with two talented teachers and really diving in and studying Engrosser’s Script. I already know it’s going to make a big difference in the quality of my work.

Well, I think I’ll wrap this up and get to work on some crochet. I didn’t exactly keep up with the Mood Scarf I started last month, so now I’m just finishing it up using a stripe pattern. I love how it’s coming out — very simple, but sometimes that’s OK.

Striped scarf

Think I may just have to make a cup of tea and have a slice of berry pie for dessert, too!

Berry pie

Hope you all have a great evening!