The Sublime Studio: {Emma Wood Photography}

FINAL

Good Monday morning to you.  It’s been a few weeks since we’ve featured an artist here at The Sublime Studio, and I have missed it. Today I am shining light on an artist who uses her camera, rather than a paint brush, to reflect light onto all of us.  Emma Wood (quite appropriately for our feature series) is a natural light, lifestyle photographer.  She is mother to 7 beautiful children, and currently living in United Arab Emirates.  I found Emma through clickinmoms.com, an extremely helpful site for photographers at any and all skill levels.  She is a contributor there, as well as an instructor for “cmuniversity”, their online educational program for photographers.  

Emma has recently reignited my love of photography, and inspired me to put down my paint brush for a bit and pick my camera back up.  I know you will love her work like I do.  You can find Emma on her blog here, her website here, at clickinmoms here, and on Instagram here….and now I feel like a stalker.

Enjoy!

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Fork in the road moments: laugh or cry {the one where I make you feel better about your life}

Sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh.

There are moments in life when the road is gonna fork, and we will be forced to look down the path and see two very possible routes.  One route being hysteria from tears and, “Are you kidding me is this really where I am in life?!?”  The other being hysteria from laughter and, “Are you kidding me is this really where I am in life?!?”  We have a choice, and we can choose either path to get us to the finish line of life, but one path will clearly be more fun than the other.

I choose the later option.

photoThis all started when our friends texted a few months ago and said they ordered us tickets to see Dave Matthews in July.  My first thought was, I know two Dave Matthews’ songs and all the rest sound exactly the same to me.  My second thought was, seriously, a mid-week late night concert, ohforthelove this gonna be rough.  I fought my natural late 30′s instinct, which always errs on the side of lameness, and we agreed to be adventurous and go.

It turned out the concert fell on the same day as summer camp drop off for the girls.  Of course it did.  Thanks a lot Dave Matthews.  This welcomed in a slew of carpooling dilemmas, scheduling conflicts, and “I can’t believe you are not going to drop me off at my first overnight camp because you’re going to a concert instead.” Okay the girls never really said that, but make no mistake, the mommy guilt was screaming accusations in my head and they didn’t have to say it because I was saying it for them.  I am awesome at mentally shaming myself on behalf of my children when I feel guilt…I’m like an expert at it.

But miracles still happen even today, all children were dropped off at camp or with a babysitter, and I began wondering what I should wear to the concert.  What do you wear to concerts these days?  Who knows, I haven’t been to one in 12 years, so I googled it (exhibit A that proves I am too old to be attending concerts: I googled “What to wear to a Dave Matthews Concert”).  Then I remembered I still owned my old-school Vans from high school.  Score.  I have never been so excited in my entire life.  Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetI have faithfully held onto these shoes for 20 years, and it was about to pay off in a major way (exhibit B that proves I am too old to be attending concerts: I was excited about dusting off a 20 year old pair of shoes and wearing them).

Now that the clothing dilemma was solved, it was time to mentally prepare for staying up past 9:30 pm (exhibit C that proves I am too old to be attending concerts: they take place past my bedtime).  I realize caffeine is not the usual Dave Matthews Concert pre-gaming drug of choice, but coffee was all this girl needed (exhibit D that proves I am too old to be attending concerts: I pre-game with coffee).  While sipping this delightful cup of joe in a quiet house, it occurred to me that we would be driving our friends to the concert and my vehicle has suspiciously smelled like a dumpster for the past few months (exhibit E that proves I am too old to be attending concerts: it occurs to me I should tidy up the car before we leave, and take out all the kid’s carseats to see what might be lurking underneath).

I called Kev at work who was frantically trying to finish up so we could get on the road, and asked if he would mind taking my car to be cleaned.  This request is not as innocent as it sounds, as there’s a backstory.  Kev has been repulsed by my car for 2 months now.  Every time he gets in he complains about the dumpster smell, and then proceeds to makes ridiculous and haughty claims about how his car is always clean and orderly and free of an entire Chick-fil-A kid’s meal on the floor board.

Well good for him.

To which I always follow-up in response with, “The day you’re the one homeschooling this circus of a family, carpooling 19 kids to and from 47 soccer and swim practices a week, and feeding meals to an army of cleat-wearing children in the back seat of your car, you can complain to me about the smell.”

In my defense, I had genuinely tried to solve the mystery of the smell.  Many o’ times had I climbed under seats fully expecting to find a sippy cup full of fermenting spoiled milk, ripening in the trapped summer heat of my vehicle (tell me that’s not the worst), and could never find anything but a few waffle fries, empty candy wrappers, and an open container of Chick-fil-A sauce (side note: the creation of the Chick-fil-A sauce rivals the creation of man in awesomeness, and I struggle even getting mad at my kids for finding it opened in my car because it’s so good, it just makes me proud they love it).  Anyways, what more could he ask of me?  I had given it a half-hearted search and not turned up much.  And besides, I was starting to get used to the smell, it honestly didn’t even bother me much anymore.  Filth had become my new normal.

Note to self: When filth becomes your new normal, it’s time to re-evaluate your life.

Because Kevin loves me, he agreed to rush home even earlier to take my car to be cleaned.  If I only knew then, what I know now, the rest of this story would have ended very differently.  This is the moment where God was watching in heaven and He was telling the cloud of witnesses, “Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it….this is about to get soooo good.”

While proudly sipping coffee in my 20 year old Vans, excited about a crazy night out where we stay up past 9:30, I receive this text from my husband:dead mouseNow.  My husband speaks in fluent sarcasm, and I have never prayed harder that this was one of those times where he was shamelessly messing with me.  But at this same moment, I was also vaguely remembering a day when Ella said, “I think I just saw something move in the backseat.”  I of course told her she had lost her mind and to hurry up already and get in the car because we were late, but it was starting to appear the only crazy in the family was yours truly who had allowed her life to become so out of control that there was a dead rodent decaying in her backseat (and for the record, that’s worse than a fermenting sippy cup of milk).  The texting insults continued….

family pictureEnter in that aforementioned fork in the road.  We all choices to make in this life.  Learning you have become that family who just might have a shot on a reality TV show that ends with an intervention, would send most people down the path of tears.

But I’m choosing laughter.  I informed Kev, “Ya know, this is real life baby and sometimes you end up with dead rodents in your car.  But at least my kids have been fed and made it to soccer practice on time. I don’t think I’m even embarrassed.”

Without hesitation or tact of any kind, he responded, “That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard, and you should be embarrassed.”

He’s probably right, but I’m still choosing laughter anyways.

After all the “mouse dust” had settled (pun intended), the concert was a great time.  I was a little disappointed Dave didn’t play either of the two songs I knew, the one about the ants, and the other one about crashing (obviously), but we did capture a selfie to send to Matt Lauer on the Today Show.  I think I’m supposed to be hashtagging it something like #loveyourselfie, but I really just feel like it should be hashtagged something like #wemadeittotheconcertanddidn’tgettheplague.Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

That would be more appropriate.  Fork in the road baby, laugh or cry.

Seeing Spots: an easy Annie Sloan chalk paint project

lastI’ve already told you I’m completely loving the new Thibaut Tanzania wallpaper.  This Lilly Bunn bathroom is pretty awesome, and the images are doing their best to woo me into using it in my powder room as well.  Bedroom-with-Thibaut-Tanzania-wallpaper-by-Lillly-Bunn-Interiors-via-Glitter-and-Goat-CheeseBut I’m kind of a chicken, and if I end up pulling down wallpaper in a bathroom only to reapply a different wallpaper in the same bathroom, somebody please host an intervention.  Please.

I just couldn’t pull the trigger, so I took the easy way out and got my “black and white spotted fix” by using it in a smaller space.  Several years ago when we built this cabinet, I used a zebra stencil as the backdrop with Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey.  It was lovely then, and it was still lovely even now, but I was in the mood for black and white.  old cabinet design

So I repainted the back of the cabinet with a 50/50 mixture of Annie Sloan’s Pure White and Old White.  It took two coats to cover completely.  Next, using Cutting Edge Stencil’s Leopard Skin allover stencil, I rolled on Annie Sloan’s Graphite.1st stepin processOnce I was finished with the larger, center areas, my plan was to cut the stencil to fill in the sides…something that is not too difficult to do, but does require measuring and the use of a brain.  On this particular day, I had no interest in either one of those two things.  So I called it good enough, threw my white TJ Maxx dishes back in the cupboard and went out to dinner with the hubs.  two full stencils

‘Cause here’s the thing…some details just aren’t worth obsessing over.  The effect I wanted is there, and I would have made myself crazy cutting up that stencil and filling in all the gaps.  A bloomin’ onion from Outback sounded better to me.  And let’s be honest, I’m gonna change it again in a couple years anyways.

This finished result is what I wanted:longfull cab
So apparently I dodged the insanity of taking down one wallpaper and applying another, but I was not so successful in avoiding the ridiculous act of replacing one animal print stencil for another.  An intervention may still be necessary.

Have a great weekend.

*If you would like to see the steps I used in the stenciling process, click here to view this post, where I walked you through all the details.  The process for this cabinet was the same, just a different stencil.

15 Years

porch lightIt’s 4:30 am.  There are 30 more precious moments of sleep to be had, but the pain down my leg and the restless tossing of the one next to me is robbing my tired eyes of those last still minutes.  I know he’s staring at me, you just know these things.  He’s a morning person, though I dare say he is broadening the definition of “morning” wider and wider every year.  I prefer to not speak one syllable before my first sip of coffee, but he smiles and cracks jokes the moment his eyes open.  He’s like a 4 year old on Christmas morning, pacing the top of the stairs, waiting for permission to race to the bottom and tear open the gifts left in the night…every. single. day.  The sun used to be his permission to rise, but not anymore.  Sometimes he sings ridiculous morning songs, because he knows then I will laugh and relinquish my bitterness towards the morning.  And he’s right.Processed with VSCOcam with m6 presetHe is a gift.

I finally open my eyes.  There he is smiling at me, head resting on white sheets still seeming grey because of a dark room.  The first words from his grinning mouth are, “What were you doing 15 years ago at this very minute?”.  “Sleeping” I tell him.  “I was sleeping soundly.”  He laughs out loud and I laugh on the inside, because we both know that isn’t true.  I was wide-eyed and nervous.  The Methodist church I grew up in had a long, burgundy-red carpet aisle I was scheduled to walk down later that Saturday evening, as if I was royalty.  I was royalty, I just didn’t know it yet, but that’s beside the point.  It was a long walk to embark on when you’re nervous and everyone you know is watching.  And for the record, burgundy-red is a dreadful color to work with for a summer wedding.  Like maybe the worst.Processed with VSCOcam with g2 presetBut 15 years later, the same smile that waited for me at the end of the burgundy-red aisle, is still waiting for me to open my eyes each morning.  He pours me coffee as a peace offering.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIt’s the best part of my day.

Not because it’s perfect, but quite the contrary.  It’s not perfect and yet it remains safe and solid.  It’s the walking out of Christ’s life right in the middle of mine every day.  His covenant, His love, His grace, His mercy, His security, smiling back at me as a promise at 4:30 in the morning when not even the birds have begun singing.breezewayHe should have been a farmer.

But he’s not.  He’s a sales engineer which means he better have a decent golf swing; and I’m a girl who should be a social worker but instead has the audacity to believe she’s been called to teach women that we have a God who has brought down the high tree and exalted the low one.  A God who has chosen the foolish to shame the wise.  The silliness of this call is more ridiculous than you could possibly know.  It’s certainly not where we were 15 years ago when we exchanged holy words beyond our comprehension, all while standing on an ugly carpet.  I haven’t gotten over the carpet.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAnd now 15 years.

Life is full.  It’s busy, in both good ways and bad, and we do our do best to search out a balance.  It’s hard to straddle two residences, hearts with hope of glory and a promise land, but tired feet still walking the soil of this earth.  We are still assigned to this place, a home where there are soccer games to watch, math and spelling to learn, savings accounts to balance, and children to raise up in the knowledge that they are called to lie down.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThere’s still work to be done here, but 15 years has taught me something huge.  Something radical.  Promise land living doesn’t have to wait until heaven.  This beautiful mystery of Christ in me, Christ in him, has already made us more than conquerors.

More than.

Victors right here on this turf where He poured Himself out, right here in this home where he wakes up smiling at me and telling jokes.

We can live it now.  Today.  I’m so grateful.  But I’m not gonna lie, I would be more grateful if my “today” started a little later than 4:30 in the morning.