Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm Back! And I have a new Follower! (my baby girl)

Hi All!

Sorry it's taken me FOREVER (and a day) to get back to blogging. I became a mommy!

I had my baby in early October and it was a beautiful experience.
We did an all natural water birth.

Which means, I did not use any drugs when giving birth to our daughter. I was at a birthing center, with my husband, my mother, 2 midwives and a nurse. It was a very beautiful experience; it was very intimate. My daughter entered the world while I was in a warm bath, which was surrounded by candles, giving the room a soft and comforting glow. My beautiful husband was behind me in the tub, giving me encouraging words the whole time. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful birthing experience.

I'll be blogging about the birth, being pregnant, and also our "woman & baby centered" birthing classes. As well as my crafting and fine arts since then! As well as my PhD prep! And spirituality! And my relationship! So much has changed :) I'll leave you with a picture of our beautiful baby girl~*~*~ see you soon! ;)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Womanly Wisdom: Budgeting for Groceries & Household Expenses


So I didn’t get the job (damn it!) Which is probably good since I’m 7 months pregnant and I don’t feel much like working. :) Ah well, the Lord knows what we can handle and what we can’t (I’m spiritual don’t ya know and psychic).

But, I WAS still a bit bummed out that I didn’t get it. I was looking forward to buying my LV purse with the extra income, as well as investing the rest for the future. But it’s fate. Since husband and I won’t have extra income to play with, we’ve decided that we should really get a handle on our budget and stop spending here, there, and everywhere. Mindless exorbitant spending is NOT the way to boost and bolster your nest egg! And it’s NOT the way to get to a vacation home in Northern France!

So the first thing I’ve done is create a

Budget for Groceries & Household Expenses.

Creating a budget may not sound like much…but my husband and I (just the two of us) spend over $1,000 each month on groceries, eating out, and buying “needed” items. It’s just ridiculous and it’s because we’re not really mindful of our spending. And my husband likes to shop and he also likes to give me nice things: books, dresses, and treats. But he’s promised not to spend any money except for gas, and I’ve promised not to ask for anything since he “has a hard time saying no to me.” (such a sweetie) We’ve decided to cut our grocery/restaurant/household bill down substantially, from around $1000 a month to $300 a month. Why? We could save/invest that money instead of blowing it.

In order to do this, I’ve decided that on the 1st and 15th of every month we will go grocery shopping. On each date, we will only spend $150 on groceries, toiletries, household supplies.   As a buffer, we have $50 “breathing room” for the month ($25 per 2 weeks) that we can use if we REALLY need/want something.  

 So on grocery day, if we spend LESS than $150 on grocery day, that money is put in our $25 per week “breathing room” which we use for eating out/extra expenses. If we don’t use the $25 during those 2 week, or only use some of it, the $25 is then put in our nest egg. And other than that, we are immediately putting a couple hundred into our nest egg on the 1st of each month, but have the potential of putting in an extra $50 into the nest egg at the end of each month if we don’t use any of our “breathing room” money.

Get it?  For example:

August 1st
put a couple hundred immediately into our nest egg
use $150 to buy groceries, toiletries, household items- to last at least 2 weeks.
set aside $25 for “breathing room”

August 15th
put $25 into nest egg (or whatever is left of it)
use $150 to buy groceries, toiletries, household items-to last at least 2 weeks.
set aside $25 more dollars for breathing room

August 31st 
put all “breathing room” money that’s left over, into next egg.

September 1st- start again
Now this might seem simple, but it takes some planning. If you’re going to buy groceries that are to last for 2 weeks, you need to buy things that are going to make all the meals you’ll eat for 2 weeks!

For 2 weeks, $150's worth of food has to supply:

14 breakfasts
14 lunches
10 dinners
38 drinks
42 snacks

Taking into consideration that our Friday and Saturday meals need to be FUN& date-like while Husband wants Sunday meals to be traditional Italian/Sicilian.

So week 1:
I just concentrated on dinners.

Mon/Tuesday-Cheesy chicken & spinach enchiladas

Wed/Thursday-Cobb Salad w/ French fries

Friday- Homemade Cheeseburger pizza

Saturday- …I’m drawing a blank actually

Sunday- Some sort of pasta dish

It was too overwhelming to try and plan 38 meals.
So I’ve got 5 meals planned.
We also bought a 2liter of Coca, a 2liter of Ginger ale, and will make lemonade and iced tea. We also bought snacks: tortilla chips, grapes, carrot nibs, etc.

I'm totally BEAT after explaining all of that! I'm going to lay down! 
But before I go....

Do you want to joint my BUDGETING CHALLENGE?           

IF YES, why? Are you saving for something or just wanting to fatten up your coffers? ;)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Prepping for a Painting

Portrait of African Model, Carmen Solomons

I'm setting up to do another painting. 
It'll probably be a long one...meaning it'll take awhile to finish.. I guess we'll see.

I feel like I'm always SO serious and stoic about painting! It’s kind of funny, but I guess I’m just like that. I feel a little odd talking about my process, my paintings, my aspirations, but I think it’ll help me flush out some of my ideas.

As you know, I'm enciente or "pregnant."  My art school is closed for the summer and being almost 7 months pregnant, I spend my days at home cleaning, cooking, reading, researching, talking with friends, blogging, pretend shopping (I’ll have to do a post on that one later) and getting our nursery together, studying for the GRE, and planning paintings, among other things.

Although I'm on a maternity leave, I still need to keep up with my art and make sure my portfolio is strong enough for re-admittance. I’d like to enter into the Master’s Program for painting within the next year or two, so I need to be kind of serious about my work.

I also need to document this special time in my life through art; I know everyone would think me sort of weird if I didn't draw or paint myself while pregnant since it’s such a transformative time.  I haven't done any self portraits as of yet. It's not like I don't bask in the dewy glory of my ripe body, I do! And so does my husband might I add, who benefits greatly from my 3rd trimester...passion :) He appreciates the lush fullness of my curves and delights in watching my body BE sacred. So yes, I love my body and feel that love from my husband as well.

But I guess my pregnancy has been sort of private. Since I'm not living close to my family and I don't go out very much, my pregnancy is a small jewel I've been able to keep inside of me and only show others when I want to. So I guess that will have to explain why I haven't done any nude pregnant portraits yet.

But yes, ON with this tome: I'm pregnant, therefore I can't use oil paints. The fumes could be bad for the baby; and while I have an air purifyer/cleaner it's not industrial so I'm not chancing it. Plus I'm not keeping our windows open as much as I used to. It's horribly hot outside AND there are bugs out there, which would like very much to come visit me…and lets just say they are most unwelcome.

SO, I'm using acrylics. I guess we'll just have to see how that goes. I like the luminosity that comes with oil paints, and I'm not great with acrylics, so we'll see what comes to pass. I'm going to try to work up layers....yikes! Well, like I said, we'll see.

I like how I’m excited to start, but I’m totally stalling…I’ll post an update when I’m done.
I’m listening to 60’s French Pop. Gives me a nostalgic naturalist vibe….

I hate acrylics! They dry so quickly! I’m super afraid to start. Oh well, biting the bullet...

Monday, July 25, 2011

At Versailles Right Now!!!

How the 18th Century influenced modern Fashion

Sorry! The video is in French. But the images are lovely for my non-francophones *~

This is an exhibit which is being presented at Versailles now through October.
Too bad it wasn't being shown last October! When we were at Versailles there was a Murakami exhibit. And while I do like his work, I like 18th century fashion and art un peu plus(a little bit more!)!

I do wish the 18th century would influence fashion a bit MORE! I can hardly ever find clothes that suit my tastes! I mean, I don't want to be trapped in a stogy old creaky corset, but there IS so much you can do with the fashions of that time period (and I DO love modern corsets).

If you want to see more pictures, check out the article in Vogue-Paris:

Vogue à Versailles

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Secret Admirerers~*~*~*

Unaltered Painting is Portrait of Miss Dido Elizabeth Bell Lindsay

Âllo Mes Chères!

Is that you up there? Secretly popping onto the blog when I'm asleep and then leaving mysteriously before leaving a comment or "following"?

It's ok, I'm guilty of the same thing! There are like 4 blogs that I regularly read that I didn't "follow" until this week! I'm naughty!

But PLEASE, don't follow my bad example! Be active on my site! Make comments! Suggestions! Give Advice! I'd like to have more of a community vibe.

Based on my "stats" it seems as though you enjoy reading my blog! Thank you!
But why? Who? Which posts are your faves?
And most importantly...Please let me know what you think?

I write basically, to get my thoughts out there, but your opinions do matter! I love hearing from you!

You know, without comments, or following, it's hard to know whether or not anyone is really interested. Also it makes it hard to focus my writing. Being of the artistic persuasion, I can write about nearly anything. I'd like to know what YOU like to help focus me.

Ok, also I just really want to hear from you! Tell me what you'd like to have featured on the site: more video? more pictures? more fashion? more home décor? more of my life (prolly not! :D) More about my travels? (that would be fun!) my curly hair styles? Being an artist? Being a wife? I think I need to write about all of that anyways! It would be great!

Mais oui, Thank you for stopping in, whenever you do! Grand Bisous!

Love Always, Imogen~*~*~*

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Following Dreams~*~*~*

Portrait via blackhappinesslove

How do you follow your dreams????

Well, the first thing is to HAVE a dream;
multiple dreams, really.

Can you divide your dreams into personal and professional? 

If that’s too daunting or if you’re not sure how to start, maybe begin by writing a “what I’d like” list. That way you’ll practice organizing your thoughts. It’s also good to define WHY you’d like something, so when you’re writing your other lists, you can clarify your thoughts and reaffirm your plans!

Here's an example "what I'd like" list: 

What I’d like:

1- Louis Vuitton Purse
why? It’ll last forever; I won’t have to shop for another purse; It’s stylish, classic and goes with my style.

2- A colorful palette of matte eyeshadows
why? I’d like to be able to try more vibrant eye shadow looks

3- A hot post pregnancy wardrobe
why? I deserve it! ha! And also because I think it’ll help fight depression and I like to look good.

After making your “Thing’s I’d like” list, you should be able to use the same thought process to make your other lists. 

For me, I’m not sure exactly what the endpoint will be. I’m not like “I want to be a professor at a top university and translate documents in my spare time.” I don’t think you have to know what you want to do “at the end of the rainbow” and maybe that’s good because you can’t predict the future and even the best laid plans have a way of growing and changing to accommodate your growing and changing mind (which is a good thing).

So let’s look at an example; basically my goals for the future:

My Professional Goals:

1- Continue my fine arts education and become a better figurative oil painter
why? I’ve always loved painting and while painting, I find a peace and a challenge that I’ve found nowhere else.

2-Get into a Ivy League PhD program in Women’s Studies or Communications
why? I want an advanced degree. I want to study something that's really interesting to me. I want to make a difference in the field and beyond.

3-Finish my PhD dissertation abroad
why? I love France. 

4-Open a B&B with Husband
why? It seems like fun
5-Teach at a University and online
why? I like teaching and it gives me money and more time with my family
6-Do professional editorial work 
why? I like money :D 

I think one thing that holds people back is thinking “I’m too old! I’ll be so old by the time I finish” Well Honey, those years are going to pass no matter what, you’ve just got to decide what you’d like to do with them.

My Personal Goals

1- Be a loving, attentive, and hot wife
why? I love being in love

2- Be fashionable and cute everyday if possible
why? I love looking as hot as I can; makes me feel good!

3- Have a healthy lifestyle and be fit
why? being out of breath is not cool. I’ll have a baby to run after too.

4- Be a positive person and have a healthy outlook
why? It’s better for me and all those around me.

These are ALL pretty lofty goals, so the thing is to start small.
Let’s take #1 of my professional goals. I already have my BA in English from a prestigious college. But applying to a top Professional Art School was a little daunting because I needed a portfolio and to tell you the truth, I didn’t know if I was good enough!

So I took it one step at a time. I did the easiest stuff first: I filled out the application: hey! I know my name and where I live, piece of cake! Then step by step I went through the requirements: asking for recommendations, and slowly making work. First I did research on the type of work I needed and how to best make a portfolio. Then I got to work: I made a schedule of how many pieces I needed to get done and by when and I dove in. I also talked to other artists, people who were also older students, and who had been accepted; and I received some really good advice that was integral to my being accepted (I think).
I wrote the small essay (piece o’ cake again) and was accepted WITH financial aid! Bingo!  It was great. It was a lot of hard work, but it felt great to start class that fall.

So now that I’m “in the motherly way” things are a little more challenging (I can’t oil paint now : (  But I’m in contact with professors and trying to decide how to best proceed for my goals.

**I am also doing the same thing for my PhD. I’m slowly taking notes and gathering my thoughts on what I’d like to focus on and also doing research on how to synthesize my many and varied thought ;)

I’m also studying for the GRE right now, WHILE PREGNANT! oy!

So tell me, what are your dreams?~*~*

Friday, July 15, 2011

What do you do when things are bad?

Portrait of Wakeema Hollis via LeCoil

Not apocalypse-bad...but bad like...
"You are not who I thought you were"-bad.

Have you ever had to say that to someone?

It sucks. It hurts.

Has someone you care about changed so much, lied so often, that you feel like you can't trust what version of them is the truth?

You can't trust that they themselves know, who they really are. 

Maybe a situation like this IS apocalypse-bad, because that person, has in effect destroyed your vision of them and in doing so rocked your relationship and really...your entire world.

Is that good? Is it good that they "came clean" and tried to make amends?
What if they didn't tell you willingly, but reluctantly, leaking "truthlets" out over months; so that each time you spoke with them, they amended what they had previously said, in order to get a little closer to reality; to the point where you feel like you're the "bad cop" in a lame TV drama, pistol-whipping the truth out of them.

To me, this kind of "flip-flopping" feels like betrayal; to have a picture in your mind of who someone is; and then for them to destroy it by showing you the person underneath.

Am I being articulate? I'm not trying to be convoluted...I hope you get what I'm saying.

What do you do when a loved one has lied to you?

Do you trust them?


How do you know that little lies, aren't linked; fencing in even bigger falsehoods?

How can you have a relationship, any relationship, without trust?

How long until the relationship breaks down, taking you with it?