Reflecting on 2017, looking forward to 2018! by Lauren DeMarco

2017 has been a lovely year. We, as a family, have been healthy and safe and we have maintained our lives with grace and gratitude.

We have been in the "everything is okay" space rather than the "it will be okay soon" space, which I try to appreciate as much as possible. I am always in search of the balance between the "are you breathing just a little and calling it a life? (Mary Oliver)" idea and the "surrender and make the best of the things you cannot control" concept; in order to stay sane and "happy".

Overall, life is good. *Special thanks to tea, candles, cozy socks, blankies, and the beach.

And although it doesn't feel like it day-to-day, when I reflect back on the year, I have done some really cool stuff and grown a lot.

My top 10 favorite accomplishments of the year:

Creative:
1.  Learned to throw and hand-build many different vessels from clay and porcelain; discovered by "ladies" design throughout this creative process.
2. Taught myself how to use my Canon Rebel on the manual setting and have developed a photography style.
3. Completed a large portion of the 100 day project in April, my garden fence mural came out of dedication to this project as well as some beautiful sun prints and some natural dying.
4. Perfected my banana cake recipe, have recently replaced half of the chocolate chips with butterscotch chips and this cake it everything, if I do say so myself.

Other:
5. Completed my school nurse certification. (I had been working with an emergency certificate)
6. Started composting and was dedicated to my garden throughout Spring, Summer, and Fall. Learned a lot about different plants, processes, and the seasons.
7. Have made it through some strong efforts and big disappointments with career opportunities in our household, proud of my strong marriage.
8. Have gained some clarity and grown to be more honest with myself about money.
9. Have strengthened my political stance through educating myself about both sides of many issues. I have been using any platform I can to speak out/vote/etc.

and most importantly:
10. I have modeled for, cared for, and guided my daughter, Luciana, through another year. I am proud of her and proud of myself for being the best Mom I can be. Cheesy, but so real.

I am super excited about 2018 and have some ideas...

I would love to have another baby this year! AHH! Trying is in our control, the outcome is not...we'll see...
Some other goals: to build a tea pot and more cool pottery, to continue to make stuff and update my Etsy shop (more consistency is a goal with this), to celebrate our (mine and Frank's) 10 year anniversary (not 10 years married but 10 years as a couple) with friends who have been on the journey with us, to encourage Luciana in the beginning of her "learning to read" efforts, to pay off a credit card that we used to pay for some life stuff on during a transition time, to continue making my home more personalized and special, to be present and joyful when visiting with my parents on our weekly dates, to maintain a regular walking schedule and improve my intuitive eating practice, to start and maintain a kickass cut flower garden, to visit with and enjoy my grandparents in their beautiful home, to organize sister adventures at least quarterly, and so much more!!!!

Handmade Christmas. Ideas and Resources. by Lauren DeMarco

I love to have some handmade decorations and/or experiences around the holiday. Here are some ideas and resources!

Dried Orange Slice Garland:
I followed this tutorial from Homesong and had lovely results. See the finished product above.

Paper Snowflakes:
I used these directions and these templates from Martha Stewart!

Christmas Sugar Cookies:
We were invited to decorate cookies at a friends house this year and used this kit. I like to make my own too, using this easy recipe with some cookie cutters . These have been on my list, wouldn't they be so dang cute with little Santa hats painted on with icing??!

Painted Wood Ornaments:
We bought wooden stars, similar to these and let Chi paint them with acrylic paints. I let her use her own creativity, very hands-off, and they came out great. She wrote "Love, Luciana" on the backs and gave them to friends. Nice little added topper for family gifts too.

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Some other ideas I would really like to do this year or just wanted to share:

-Rolled and/or poured beeswax candles
-Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornaments
-Gingerbread Houses (keeping it super commercial because time is limited yet Chi really enjoys doing these)
-Cranberry Garland for trees outside, for the birds. Might try to make this a Christmas Eve morning tradition.
-Air Dry Clay Plant pressed ornaments
-Fresh Wreath, I really like this one. I bought my grandparents a fresh wreath for Christmas last year, they got it in time to hang over the mantle for Christmas eve dinner. I am hoping to make one this year to keep the tradition going.


Happy making!

Shop update: Handmade paperback notebooks by Lauren DeMarco

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"Ladies" notebooks are live in the shop!

Handmade paperback notebooks.
Hand silkscreen printed cardstock cover.
Blank natural color pages.
 


A great gift idea.

Lovely by itself for your child's teacher or a co-worker; pair with some Micron pens and/or Lisa Congdon's Creative Bug class to take it to the next level, for a friend or sister.

(click pictures below to shop for these products)

Lisa Congdon's 31 day Drawing class on Creative Bug

Lisa Congdon's 31 day Drawing class on Creative Bug


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80 blank pages to fill with drawings, ideas, quotes, and stories.
5.25 x 8.5 inches
65lb cardstock cover, 20lb natural color pages

leaf print coasters by Lauren DeMarco

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A quick and easy project for fall. To do with kids or alone, to be taken as seriously, or NOT, as you'd like.

I saw, in Martha Stewart's magazine, a project for a table runner using this same technique on linen. She obviously took it more seriously and used it for some kind of dinner party. I wanted to make something small and scrappy using things I already had: scrap muslin, fabric paint in primary colors (which I mixed on a paper plate), a foam brush, a brayer (you could use a rolling pin), a piece of craft felt, and a sewing machine already threaded with gray thread and matching bobbin. You could hand stitch these with whatever you have.

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We went outside in our neighborhood and threw some leaves around for fun before picking the 4-5 we would use. Brought them inside, mixed some fabric paint on a plate, used the foam brush to paint on the leaves, laid them paint side down on the muslin, covered with another piece of muslin, rolled, uncovered, and pulled up the leaf to reveal the print.

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I obviously like the imperfect look. Not pictured was a rough draft print that taught us to use more paint. I don't like the color red so I didn't use the big maple print. Chi and I had a conversation about the leaf types, deciduous vs coniferous, the veins in the leafs, why they fall, etc.

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I used a coaster I already had as a template, cut a sandwich of muslin, felt, muslin. Sewed around the edges with the sewing machine and stitched some detail on the one. Tried to stitch around the mustard color leaf but the ink was sticking to the presser foot so I just left it plain. They are just to use in my own home so I had fun with them and left them raw. If you wanted to make them as gifts you could experiment with different techniques to make them look more finished.

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My sister bought my homemade mug from my cabinet and my other homemade one is at work so I use this one from Target. I found it on clearance a while back and really like it with my favorite, ZEN green tea by TAZO!! I am working on some new ceramic pieces in the pottery studio right now (including a big slab bowl which I am obsessed with), and a new mug for myself!

Click here to see a few other fall ideas or here to buy some of the new product in my shop!

Follow my instagram for more #laurenspiration and new work.

Homemade Vampirina Costume by Lauren DeMarco

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I had way too much fun with this!

Black dress: I made the black dress from knit fabric by tracing a dress we had as a pattern. Sewed it together (VERY wabi-sabi) with my sewing machine. Should have used black thread. Painted the cobwebs on with puff paint.

Necklace: I made the skull necklace from leftover knit fabric, black felt, and glitter foam. Cut the shapes, sewed around it on the sewing machine.

Shoes and "socks": bought cheap black booties, used my seam ripper point to make holes in the front, used pink knit fabric cut into strips to make laces. made tubes with the pink knit fabric and slid them on like leg warmers.

Headband: I used some mold-able jewelry wire to make the shapes of the wings, cut black felt and covered wire. Hot glued together and around the headband. I thought it would fall off a ton but it didn't at all. I used Bobbi pins to hold in onto the hair but snap clips worked too for extra security.

Everything else: Painted her face, cut the tips off of blue gloves, put purple tights and long sleeve pink undershirt.

She was so adorable, her friends loved it which made her smile, and once again, she watched me problem solve/get creative at home. She pitched in her opinions and ideas which were awesome! Modeling creativity for her is my greatest joy!

Look at our painted pumpkins and bat cookies here.
Follow @Laurenspired on instagram and turn on post notifications to never miss a post.

Questions about the costume? Email me below:

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my creative process. today's insight. by Lauren DeMarco

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My creative process is entirely haphazard and I want to call it weird but I know I am not alone.

I follow the flow. I get obsessed. I get very frustrated. I get impatient. I act before I think. I think before I act. This is all true.

What is also true is that sometimes I feel like dying the fabric, sometimes I feel like using fabric that is already a cool color. Sometimes it's 100% linen, sometimes its cotton and linen together in some kind of blend. Sometimes its clay because I don't feel like printing. Sometimes I can't do anything because I have a full time day job and a 4 year old and don't have enough energy to wind a bobbin.

The printing and sewing and dying can be really close to perfect or I can make huge dumb mistakes like printing when its too hot out (ink dried in my screen the other day). Whatever.

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I treat art like I treat my relationships, with a clear intention to do my best and to bond with the thing. The intentions and efforts are my responsibility, the outcomes and responses are not.

I could work for 10 minutes on something, come out with a functional product and be thrilled. I could work for 4 hours on something, go through all the feels, and come out on the other side with nothing. that's okay (in the moment it sucks but again, whatever)

I put my favorite pieces into the shop because I think they are cool and beautiful and most of all, functional for daily enjoyment. I want you to buy them if you think they're cool and beautiful too. And then we can be besties. And then I have money to keep making!

Want more?
See what's in the SHOP right now. Buy something for yourself. Linens are coming soon...
Read about how I am getting creative with Chi this fall.
Follow me on Instagram and turn on post notifications if you want to know when the linens hit the shop, I will be posting updates there. Comment with some of your creative quirks...I like to feel less alone in my strange ways!

Creating at home, a few easy and flexible autumn activities by Lauren DeMarco

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As far as values go, creativity falls into a "top 3" spot in our home, up there with kindness and gratitude. I value creativity above order and efficiency and material goods and convenience. I can even choose creativity over health at times, skipping breakfast for an extra 20 minutes to sew or ignoring neck pain when I am "in the flow" of creative work.

Staying true to this value might mean screen printing with very damaging ink in our dining room or neglecting social engagements. It might be moving some bins in the garage to get to that special spray sealant from a locked cabinet, even though it's entirely inconvenient.

This weekend we decided to go for it with a bunch of pumpkins and some cookies. Right there in the kitchen/dining room. I have every art supply from every medium in the house and Chi was encouraged to do whatever she wanted to decorate her pumpkin. We laid out some drop cloths (AKA old, fugly canvas fabric) and she decided on "painting a spooky face".

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She had a really great time and asked for more and more colors throughout the process. We used simple plastic plates as palettes and a few cheap brushes. We used various inexpensive acrylic paints and they were perfect.

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Chi was confused as to why I didn't want to make my pumpkin spooky. Frank did a carved face which was super cute and festive. I sealed our painted pumpkins with a spray from Wal-mart or some hardware store. So far, so good with the paint staying on.

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I don't really care for these yucky, packaged cookie kits but Chi convinced me in a moment of weakness and they were fun to put together. Again, I created next to her, giving her freedom and a few of her own cookies to do on her own. She mirrored me for the first one or two but then got creative with the materials.

We set our pumpkins on the stoop, ate a cookie each, and then took a 2.5 hour nap with the crisp fall air coming into the open bedroom window.

Don't be afraid to make a mess or to make something unattractive! I know my daughter will look back on her childhood, think of the paint brushes in the dish drying rack and bits of thread stuck to our socks, and remember our joyful days creating together. I am prouder of this than most things.

Handmade pottery is in the shop, ready to ship! by Lauren DeMarco

Hey friends,

A few pieces from the Summer 2017 collection, 3 "Ladies" pieces and 1 Floral Bowl, are live in the shop, ready to ship!

 
This is a slice of my  perfect banana cake...

This is a slice of my perfect banana cake...

 

I want the art I make to be used every day!!
I make every piece for function, not just beauty.

The bowl you see below is
YOUR NEW FAVORITE BOWL!


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I think these also make perfect gifts. Did you know that the red lips on the "Ladies" represent POWER and the pink cheeks represent VULNERABILITY. I really love seeing these qualities in the women in my life, especially the moms and makers like me, whom I always look to for #laurenspiration!!

If you are not in the market right now but are want to stay informed... follow my instagram for updates!

Read more about me and the "why" behind Laurenspired.
Or visit my portfolio to see what else I am working on!

Crabs and Ice Cream, Waterballoons and Jumprope. Summer Bucket List by Lauren DeMarco

Another check on the summer bucket list, my family's annual crab feast was a success. It is so joyful to use traditions as reminders to be present in the current season.

Other items on the bucket list this year:
Fireworks, s'mores by the bonfire, Chi's birthday party, start and finish tiny tiles quilt, bake a peach pie from sunny slope peaches, grill steamers, rides on the boardwalk, Photo booth pics with Frank and Chi, sea glass hunt at sea breeze, 4th of July weekend shopping and cousin time, solstice picnic on sunset beach, berry picking, brown's donuts, beach week, Megan and Amanda's weddings, Mo's birthday beach dinner, and more!!

What's on your bucket list for summa'!? I always want more ideas!! Let me know on Instagram!

The Best Banana Chocolate Chip Cake, if I do say so myself by Lauren DeMarco

Guess who got the bigger piece?

Guess who got the bigger piece?

I am not a professional baker or chef but I have made this cake so many times that it is now seriously perfect. I made Molly's recipe from the Orangette with the coconut cream icing and it was AMAZING. I love it just how it is. But keeping the icing stuff on hand is more of a pain to me than just keeping mini chocolate chips in the pantry so I made this twist on it. Now, I can make this whenever I have over-ripe bananas.

Ingredients:
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (+1 tsp for the chips, see below)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup puréed very ripe bananas
¼ cup sour cream
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup of mini chocolate chips (tossed in the above 1 tsp of flour so they don't sink to the bottom of the cake)

How to make it:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl.

In another bowl beat the butter and brown sugar until combined. Add the egg, banana (smashed), sour cream, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add the dry mixture a little at a time. Don't overmix.

Sprinkle the floured chips into the batter and fold them in. Spread the batter into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. I usually do about 35. The top will be a nice gold color and a toothpick will come out clean. Let cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove it from the pan.

Holy moley, its so good! And the smell, OMG. Any questions, send me an email:

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Wabi Sabi Tiny Tiles Quilt (In Progress) by Lauren DeMarco

I love a good long term project.

I had a little over a week off between the school year and summer school and I wanted to have something creative to show for it. I saw a tutorial on Purl Soho for a Tiny Tile Quilt which looked manageable yet challenging for me, and gave me room to be the rebel I always need to be with projects. I chose my own colors/fabrics, adjusted the size, and decided to hand-stitch the top to the batting and back. I chose to use a dark purple Kona cotton, dark purple linen, a mustard Kona cotton, mustard linen, a small scale blue floral print, a navy Kona cotton and muslin. (If you wanted to make one with the exact materials in the tutorial, here is the bundle they offer to make it that much easier).

I am using a giant embroidery hoop and just moving it around as I go. I will be stitching in the opposite direction as well once I finish this direction. It is so wabi-sabi, just the way I like it and is taking a long time which is perfect. I am using hand-stitching thread which is more coarse so it won't knot. I'm pretty obsessed with how it is coming out!

I will post a picture of the final product when it's complete.

Any other questions? Just shoot me an email:

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