Friday, October 28, 2011

Do small things with great love.

Sometimes I find the best time to try new things is when we're disappointed; 

be it from a missed opportunity, an estranged relationship, or even just a gloomy day when things just don't go our way. Perhaps it's the optimist (or scaredy-cat) in me, but I don't like to dwell idly on negative feelings (really, what good does it do you?), so when things go awry, I keep my hands busy.

I also think trying new things when we're feeling down helps us create new memories, experiences, and feelings outside of and separate from our disappointments (whatever they may be); I also believe success in a new goal will help us come to grips with failure in another.

So in my efforts to not only create new memories, gain new skills, develop new products, but just have plain old fun, I ran across some fun DIY stuff that was too cool not to share. I'm babysitting my younger sister Grace on Monday, and I was wracking my brain for inexpensive fun ideas.

1. Suminagashi Marbling Paper
Did anyone else spend hours at their kitchen table with marbles, paint, and a pan when they were kids? I did! This looks BALLIN. I am so excited to tell my sister about it tomorrow, and even more excited for Monday, when we can get our hands dirty! Grace just did block-printing at school, and I bet this would be a great related project that she'd really enjoy. This looks amazing for both kids and adults-who-are-still-kids-at-heart like me, and I plan to dye my paper, let it dry, and then do black and white graphic illustrations over top to experiment for my grad school portfolio. Yea, girl! Takin' care of business!

2. Bright & Spunky TerraCotta Pots

My mom and my best friend's mom used to sew all of our clothes when we were kids, and she and I would make puppets/doll dresses/costumes of out of the old scraps. My mom still has her chest full of old fabric - what a cute gift idea to take a sentimental fabric (like the pattern of my preschool dress), cover the pot, tuck a little gift inside (and a matching photo!), and give it to her for the holidays?

Or, if you're just looking for something chic for your windowsill, grab some spunky fabric and go to town.

Ahhh, the wonders of ModgePodge!

3. Sewn Paper Holiday Packaging
I always try to start my shopping early every year (and thanks to all those like-minded shoppers who have been already gobbling up my Handmade Holiday Ornaments!), but I am hoping to do something special with this darling DIY. When I was a kid, my mom handmade an Advent Calendar out of felt - it was in the shape of a Christmas tree, and every morning my sister and I would take turns pulling out a felt ornament and pinning it to the tree. It was so exciting to wake up and know it was my turn to pin the ornament!

This year, I want to make mini-gifts with the Sewn Paper Packaging and hide little treats/knick-knacks/funny things in there. I'm going to cut them all in Christmas shapes, and mark a number for the day on each, so when my little sister gets home from school, she can open a little surprise! (I secretly love doing gooshy stuff like that; I'm a sucker)

I'll definitely have to report in with pictures of Grace and my Suminagashi adventure on Monday! I am so excited! Have a great Halloween weekend, and hope these DIY sparked some busy hands & some positive thoughts :)

 { All photos via }

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It Will Come.

 { Oh, how I love typography // Macro photo & type by me // fonts hasteristico & gasoline from }

& it's hard to dance with the devil on your back,
so shake him off!

A post and a song for loving who you are, for accepting your baggage,
for conquering your doubt.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mini Hiatus with a Side of Vulnerability & Tattoos

I apologize for the silence of the past week... my personal life pretty much exploded and I needed to get away.

I usually don't do mushy, and I typically do not like to be overly-religious on my blog, but in light of everything in my life right now, I can only listen with an open heart and do little ballet steps around my room.

Hello, vulnerable Erin on her blog.

"There's a peace I've come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail;
There's an anchor for my soul; I can say, "It is well".
Jesus has overcome, and the grave is overwhelmed.
The victory is won, He is risen from the dead!
And I will rise when He calls my name; no more sorrow, no more pain;
I will rise on eagles' wings before my God, fall on my knees,
and rise."

I've been thinking about getting a tattoo for a couple of years now.
It's been a slow process, because I want to be REALLY sure I'm getting something that will be with me throughout my whole life. Being an artist, of course I have to draw the design myself.

When I lived in Italy, we went to quite a few different Italian cities to study the frescoes on the cathedrals, duomos, and churches. In Renaissance art, the peacock was often a symbol of rebirth and the resurrection, and appeared in a lot of images accompanying Christ. I saw the fresco to the left, and drew the peacock sitting in the window into my sketch-diary as a reminder.

Since then, I have wanted a peacock feather to be incorporated into my tattoo. Everytime in my life when I have felt despair, hopelessness, fear; especially during my lowest of lows, there has always been a quiet, steadfast, abiding faith, and after time has passed, a knowledge that I have risen, and can see life in a new light and continue on.

This weekend I visited one of my very best friends, who has been there for me time and time again, and we went to a banquet together; I was completely surprised and completely not surprised to find that my prayers were answered when I heard "I Will Rise" for the second time in my life; the first being when my boyfriend of 6 years left me suddenly, totally blindsided. I nearly burst into tears over my dinner roll at this fancy-pants banquet (which was actually quite lovely indeed), when I heard the line that struck me the first time, 5 years ago:

"There is an anchor for my soul".

There has been no greater truth I can confess in my life than this, and I am planning to design an anchor with a peacock feather intertwined, with that line under it. I'm hoping to get it tattooed onto my right wrist as a constant reminder.

Whoever you are, if you read this whole blogpost, thank you. I wrote this more for myself than anyone else; just one of those things you have to get out, you know? But thank you just the same.

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles. 
They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

It was super foggy the other day, and the trees looked dream-like and eerie as I drove by them on the way to my house. I ran inside, grabbed my camera, and wandered out into the mist and disappeared for awhile. It was wonderful.

My lovely friend Sarah also shared this song with me, and it sung itself in my head as I went on my foggy trek. Not only is it a gorgeous song, but so thought-provoking.

Happy mid-week, lovely birds ~

Sunday, October 16, 2011

5 Things to Do with a Month Full of Pumpkin

This weekend was awesome - went to a birthday party downtown and danced crazy with my rad boyfriend, then headed up north to see my lady loves for Homecoming. Finished up the weekend with the family, running through a giant corn maze, getting apple cider doughnuts, and watching the Ravens grab another win. 

Needless to say, I love fall: let's celebrate! 
Commence, "Things to do when there's a lot of pumpkin in your life."

1. Pumpkin Coffee (need I say more?). 
If you brew coffee at home like I do to save money, sprinkle just a pinch of Pumpkin Spice in with the grounds before brewing. Not a ton, just enough to give a hint of flavour. For other months of the year, I sprinkle in cinnamon and nutmeg! Or, use flavoured creamer. Personally I'm not usually a huge fan, but I'd be willing to give it a go!

2. Make delicious, moist pumpkin bread.
I don't mean to brag, but I'm the luckiest girl, because my mother makes the BEST pumpkin bread (and chocolate chip cookies, but that's a different story). Here's a great recipe for pumpkin bread that you can bake in a large loaf pan and serve to family, or divide up into mini-pans and share with friends. Mom and I like to sprinkle the top of our loaf with cinnamon and nutmeg before baking!

Also, try cutting the pumpkin bread into cubes, dipping them into warm caramel sauce, and rolling them in crushed pecans!

3. Gear up for autumn with some lovely handmade accessories.
Support the handmade movement, and look quite stylish at the same time! Pumpkin Spice is one of my favourite colours, especially in the fall. It makes me want to go out for coffee with friends, take walks in the brisk afternoon, and wear boots.

4. Try no-carve pumpkins this year!

These seem to be all the rage, even though I just can't NOT carve a pumpkin. I'll do both this year ;) I think it'd be darling to carve a big pumpkin, and then have little decorated pumpkins to match the theme!

Why not try these lovely doily pumpkins? For a wedding, I think they'd look even better in white, with doilies painted all over. I would even tie little fabric black and white bows around each stem!

Want a chic, modern, designer pumpkin? Paint your pumpkin white and grab some cool Helvetica-esque stickers and go to town! I also think it'd be rad to paint smaller pumpkins white, and then rub newsprint all over them! Or papier-mache? Everyone likes the feeling of that stuff between their fingers (and if you don't, you're weird)!

 And probably the most hilarious no-carve pumpkin idea I've come across in my "research", the Junk-o-Lantern or Stuff-on-a-Pumpkin. I mean c'mon: that's just awesome. Everyone's got that junk drawer in the kitchen that has all that weird stuff that you'll never use but have no where to put - now you have a mission, and a way to get rid of it all. You're welcome!

5. Make autumn table decorations with your leftover seeds!

To bake your seeds, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lay a sheet of foil down on a baking sheet. Bring your seeds to a boil in a saucepan (2 cups water per 1/2 cup seeds), and then let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the seeds. Leave them natural and rustic, or spread out newspaper and spray paint them your colour of choice. I think silver seeds are very chic!

When they're dry, tuck some in a little cellophane or organza bag, and tie around your napkins (Martha's idea); sprinkle them over the table (my mom's idea); or fill little votive candle holders with them and tuck a name-card flag in with a toothpick (my idea)! Easy.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post! I am so excited for autumn!
Wonderful things have been happening :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

And the winner is...

Dee said... I tweeted here!/DeeGee13/status/122899536850063360

Congratulations, Dee! 
I'll be emailing you shortly to talk about the details of getting you your prize!

And thank you guys for entering :) As I've said before, I've really come to love my blog; thanks so much for the support.

And here's to many blogging adventures/giveaways/art posts to come!
I'm off to my alma mater for Homecoming with my lovely college friends - I'll catch you guys early next week! Have a great weekend, lovely birds ~

Friday, October 14, 2011

Golden Autumn Etsy Finds

As if it couldn't get more rainier... I woke up to thunderstorms today. Not gonna complain - that's my favourite type of weather! Still, I have a party to go to tonight, and my college's Homecoming is this Saturday - we all sit outside and cheer on our amazing soccer team - so it would be very nice if the rain could just taper off and go away for the next couple of days.

I'm ready for the trees to start changing, too.
Ready for it to look like this outside:

And today is the LAST DAY to enter the giveaway! Did you enter yet?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Evolution of Doubt

The last couple of days have been really good for painting.

Dark, rainy, and humid, so I can open my windows and listen to the rain while I paint, without getting too chilly (which I do too easily). Also perfect times for coffee - just sayin. It's super foggy out right now, which is making the tree tops look eerie and wonderful. It's the little things in life you have to find beauty in, right? Makes me want to wear wool scarves and visit Ireland.

Over the last 2 nights, I've spent about 16 hours on my newest painting (finished at 5:30am this morning!), which is a personal piece I finished for publication.

I wanted to illustrate the meandering transformation of doubt in the human mind, evolving from one thing to the next almost seamlessly.

"The Evolution of Doubt"
This painting started as an entirely different piece, going in a completely different direction. It actually had a huge peacock in it! But every time I opened up the file, it just didn't feel right. A few nights ago, an idea hit me like a schoolbus to the face, and I whipped out my file and painted til 3am (ahhhh, the joys of freelancing!)

It's been awhile since I've finished a whole painting like this; I've been juggling a lot of things in my life right now. But I've missed that feeling of accomplishment. On this piece in particular I think I made leaps and bounds in skill level. It's great to feel yourself making progress!

Thanks for reading! 
It ends tomorrow!

{ illustration in this post (c) erin mcmanness 2011 }

Monday, October 10, 2011

5 Weird Things About Me

aka, 5 things that make me a unique & exciting individual (maybe)
1. When I get sad, I listen to classical music* really loud in my headphones and imagine myself flying past everything through the clouds. Sometimes this is accompanied by ballet dancing in my room.
( * The reeeeeealllllllly good part starts around 3:30 )

2. I'm trying to grow out my fingernails (been a nail-biter for 25 years!). I'm doing well except for my middle finger on my right hand - that sucker's the only one I continue to gnaw. I really just want to paint them pink.

3. Even small things during my day I plan out to maximize efficiency. I'll go down and turn the coffeemaker on, grab my bagel out of the freezer and set it on top to defrost while the coffee brews (one of my more genius ideas), and then go upstairs to brush my teeth, so when that's done so is my coffee (brilliance, I know... or OCD???).

4. To show affection, I make things for people. I love art and I love you, so naturally these things end up going hand in hand. Likewise, thoughtful gifts and gestures are always the best in my book, I could give a shit about the money or the label.

5. I have never dyed/permed/highlighted my hair because whenever I went to the salon, the hair washer ladies would always remark at how nice my hair colour/texture/shine is. And whenever anything goes wrong, my sister (who looks like my twin) reminds me, "Well, at least we have good hair." And it makes it a little better, truthfully.

What are your 5 weird things?
Tell me, this is a fun game!

 Also, only 4 more days to enter the Autumn Giveaway! { Check it out here! }

{ bird image via }

Friday, October 7, 2011

a u t u m n GIVEAWAY is here!

{ How to enter: }
you must be a follower to win; all other entries are optional
please leave a separate comment in this post for each entry & include your email address

1.   Follow my blog- 1 entry (mandatory)
2.   Heart Mirilovelove Brand on Etsy: { The Little Bird } and tell me which piece is your favourite from the shop - 1 entry
3.   Facebook about the giveaway (please include link in comments) - 1 entry
4.   Tweet about the giveaway (please include link in comments) - 1 entry
5.   Blog (with link to this entry) about the giveaway (please include link in comments, I'd also like to follow you!) - 1 entry

On Friday, October 14th (at midnight), I will use to determine the winner, and announce it here on Saturday, October 15th! 

The winner will receive BOTH the Gold Ruffle Ring AND the Starbucks giftcard!

And I just wanted to say a big thank you to all of you for your comments, and for letting your lovely eyeballs wander over my silly words from time to time. This blog has become a great love of mine, a place where I can be myself and share what inspires me. Thank you so much for supporting me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thank you, lovely birds ~

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." 
Steve Jobs.

Giveaway Announcement tomorrow afternoon!

{ photo via }

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Dream of Gaga & Giveaway!

Straight from my strange and twisted dream journal, my love of Gaga invades even my dreams now (and that makes me ecstatic!) Gaga has always been such a source of inspiration for me - allowing me to take chances, risks, and push the envelope in my illustrations that I may have not considered before.

 When I lived in LA, I actually got a casting call for one of the brunettes in Gaga's "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" video - how awesome would that have been?!

On one last note before bed, we're almost at 200 followers! Thanks to all new friends and my loves that have been here since the beginning :) 

Once we hit 200, I will be announcing a super-secret giveaway that I've been cooking up for awhile!

Stay tuned & tell your friends, lovely birds ~

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fashionary & What I Wore

For my birthday this past August, my darling cousin and dear friend Heidi got me a copy of the epic Fashionary Sketchbook. If you don't know about Fashionary and are interested at all in Fashion, please do check out their website. Basically, it's an amazing resource stuffed into sketchbook form - with patterns, sizing charts, terminology, typefaces, and hundreds of pages of maquettes to work on (joy!)

I had eagerly been awaiting an opportunity to spend some time in mine, and over the weekend I got to doodle up some lovely What I Wore outfits!

Here's a sneak peek into my Fashionary Sketchbook:

I could honestly go on and on about how cool Fashionary is.
The book is lightweight and has a sturdy cover - which I love because I can take it anywhere and draw! I also am digging the maquettes - it's true I love drawing the human body - but sometimes it's nice to just be able to design without worrying about anatomy (yes, I said it!).

Whenever I'm sketching in Fashionary, I always hear Tim Gunn saying: 
"Make it work, designers!"

{ all sketches / illustrations & photos in this post (c) erin mcmanness 2011 }

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy October

{ photo via }

Today I woke up in my sweatpants to the chilly air pricking at my arms and the leaves swaying outside the window like golden swatches of paint blotting the dull gray sky. My boyfriend pulled me out on the deck and said, "Babe, doesn't it smell like fall?" He was right; it did. The boards of the deck were damp and chilly on my bare feet, and he had never looked better to me, standing there in his sweatpants in the cool air, but I don't think he knew that I was thinking that; he pointed to the deer standing a few feet away in the yard.

Something about the cool air makes for more poignant memories, I think.

A Pumpkin Spice themed treasury I was featured in that was too darling to pass up putting on my blog in celebration of October, that lovely month filled with red & orange leaves, hot apple cider, slow guitars & gentle voices, cold noses & good kisses, scarves, and chilly mornings.

What are your fall traditions? What are you going to be for Halloween?

My mister and I are going as Han Solo and Princess Leia (yay nerds!), and we're hoping to make it up to the RenFest to have turkey legs and pints of ale. My little sister and I are going to run through the giant corn maze up in Lancaster, and carve pumpkins together :)

Happy October, lovely birds ~
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