Tag: flowers

New Photography Project! “How I See You”

As an artist, I love trying new mediums and expanding my creativity beyond the paintbrush. Recently I decided to do a new project where I capture the closest people in my life in the way I see them. My first subject is my youngest sister, Courtney.
Courtney was born under severe circumstances that left her in the NICU for 8 days, three weeks sooner than doctors expected. She grew into a brilliant girl with an active imagination, known to be our tough as nails Tom Boy. But as her big sister, watching her blossom into a young woman, a trait I always saw was how delicate and graceful she is with timeless features.  To me, angelic and fairylike. Her response to that…a sarcastic, “Okay, Chelsea. Whatever you say…” She never really liked getting her picture taken, but with endless pleading…she agreed.

My original plan was to create a fashion forward look using products I found at the 99 cent store, which I did! I purchased her makeup and made the flower crown myself the night before. The dress was once owned by an old roommate who gave it me, and I passed onto Courtney. The whole look cost under 20 dollars.

Courtney was skeptical at first, especially when I started using the liquid liner and dusting eye shadow on her cheek bones.

But after 3o minutes of hair, makeup and finding the perfect angles, I began to edit…and as soon as I got what I was looking for, I showed her the final product. Her face lit up. “They turned out better than I expected,” she said with the biggest smile on her face. No matter what time of day, in whatever state she’s in, Courtney has always been a beautiful girl. And like many, it takes a new perspective for us to see ourselves as others see us. And it wasn’t just the hair and makeup…it was the persona she stepped into. These pictures reminded me how much she loved dressing up as Cinderella when she was little. The funny thing is, no matter how old we get, we never stop playing dress up. And this was a lovely reminder that once Cinderella, always Cinderella!

Here are the final favorites!

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Amazing Brownies and Mistletoe Madness

There’s a brownie recipe at the end 🙂 so keep reading.

At the annual conference for the American Night Writer’s Association, I heard a cool guy say, “Something amazing happens here” should be written down when you can’t figure out how to bridge the chapters in your book. Turns out the same thing can be applied to life.

A year ago I was sitting in my old apartment in Utah, planning out my entire year on a piece of poster board and a green Crayola marker. I made so many plans; mostly short term goals set for each month. The kind I’ve wanted to achieve in years past and you guessed it, most of them were not accomplished.

Naturally life still gave me incredible things anyway. Sometimes we writers have the beginning and end to our novels, but have no clue what to put in the middle, so we leave it blank and write, “Something amazing happens here” and get to it when inspiration hits.

We don’t really know how the story comes together until it’s finished. But when it does, it’s rarely anything we would have originally planned for. But that’s the cool part! We surprise ourselves, we learn what inspires us, we discover what great and hard things it took to put those words down.

The same thing applies when we make our New Year’s resolutions while we look back on the ones we made the year before. I had no intentions of moving to Arizona, of quitting my two stable jobs, packing all that I could in my jeep, and driving through the desert to a future that wasn’t planned out at all. I gained new friends, a new family even, and the greatest opportunity of getting my book published. They were dreams I dared not hope for because they were goals I didn’t think were reasonable enough to accomplish.

But yesterday I was driving down the road, thinking about the goals I didn’t get around to; long term ones that had to do with my health and relationships—the usual ones that can take a toll on our self-worth. And I ended up pulling into a Walmart parking lot, cutting the engine and having a good cry for no other reason than to just let go of the hurt built up over the year.

In every story, amazing things happen, but not without conflict. Otherwise characters don’t grow. But it’s the conclusion where all the work is put together into something great. Sometimes it takes more than one full rotation around the sun to get there.

So I don’t give up hope, but a little discouragement is natural and it’s okay to take a minute to grieve about it. I ended up making brownies, and I think most can agree there’s something therapeutic about baking something—not from a box—but from scratch, that heals the soul.

After a brief indulgence, I thought about what to plan for 2017. I have a basic blueprint, a few dreams floating in my head. But like the great J Scott Savage said, “Something amazing happens here.” And keeping that attitude every day, usually gives room for the universe to make it so.

And because I promise you a bit of mistletoe madness, my story of the week doesn’t involve mistletoe, because I never received a mistletoe kiss before. It’s still a goal I have, and a goal I’ll never give up on. But as far as romance goes, I recently helped a good friend of mine surprise my roommate with a bouquet of white roses, which I think gives us all hope that classic romance is not dead.

And my friends, I don’t know how the universe was on my side, but it actually went perfectly. Those two ended up having a mistletoe kiss, which I didn’t resent…much, at least 😉 But truly, they were another couple I could add to my list of relationships. The ones where people try to make it work.

The honeymoon phase will end sometime, but being able to say, “Hey, remember when you totally lied about breaking our date, plotted with my roommate to ‘call the pizza guy’ who hid in the bathroom so I’d open the door to find you standing there with a bouquet of flowers?” …it brings back the memory of all the funny and gooey feelings you had when it happened. And because memories do fade over time, taking a second honeymoon, or three, or seventeen ain’t a bad idea.

Chelsea’s Homemade Brownies

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1/2 cup flour

With an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs slowly. Then stir in cocoa powder and flour with a spoon. Pour into a greased 9’9 pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Until next time with whatever amazing thing comes to mind, I wish you all a happy New Year.

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

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Whoopee Cushions and Dreams of Cowboys

Advice to all you people out there, if you’re ever set up on a blind date, the first 60 seconds are critical in making a first impression. Which is why if you show up wearing a whoopee cushion costume, unless they’re into that, it’s probably not going to work out the way you expect.

About a year after I started college, I could count the amount of dates I’ve had on one hand. I was awkward and still learning how to dress myself. But a friend had agreed to set me and my second roommate up on a group date for Halloween. It was going to be very low key. Bowling and going for shakes after. No plans to dress up or doing anything Halloween related.

Lame? Yes. But we were excited, and this was back in the day when not everyone had social media, and flip phones weren’t going extinct yet. So I had no idea what my date looked like until he showed up on my doorstep. Now I don’t blame the guy for wanting to make a lasting impression. He was truly a sweet guy and fun to bowl with. But boy was it hard to take him seriously wearing a costume that represented a toy that makes fart noises when you squeeze it. Kinda kills the mood when you’re hugging the man goodbye.

It would be a few years before my dating life really took off, but getting closer to the holiday season that year, the colder it got, the more we stayed indoors. And tis the season to sniff and sneeze, because I dove into reading when I came down with a nasty two week cold before finals. Missing work and classes was not an option for me, so reading romantic Christmas themed novellas helped me unwind after the busy, miserable hours on my feet.

My roommates had been throwing books my way, sometimes literally, and I remember reading “Dusty Britches” which was another Marcia Lynn McClure novel that open a new idea for me, as well as help me discover I’m a huge sucker for old western romance. Especially when they involve dreamy cowboys.

The leading woman, having a broken heart and a strong distrust for men, learned how to let her walls down and really love a man she hadn’t stopped loving since she was young. Like her, letting go of pride, anger and old grudges was something I learned the hard way a bit later in my life.

Halfway through book, I sat in my college apartment dining room, and by that I mean table in the corner of the tiny kitchen, eating strawberries in my pajamas, when my roommate’s entire family showed up on our doorstep to surprise her. Her parents and five siblings had driven 5 hours just to visit their two daughters on a completely random day just for the fun of it.

At the time my parents had been divorced about a year, I was the only adult child who sat through endless phone calls with one parent while they vented about the other. Though I commend them for how hard they worked to keep things as civil as possible for their children’s sake, at the time it had been years since I didn’t worry over things falling apart at a family gathering. And to witness it was like observing a Steve Irwin’s wildlife special.

*Crikey! Here we have a loving family in an unnatural habitat. The cubs have real high energy, but the parents sit and watch together with pride and love, while they laugh, catch up on happy family news, and share a hearty meal at the watering hole.*

But seriously though, growing up, I didn’t see my parents showing affection very often. There was some here and there, but not like the way her parents sat on the couch and held hands without even thinking about it, her resting her head on his shoulder; or sneaking kisses whenever they had the chance, and being incredibly cute while taking pictures together. And not once did their daughters groan or say, “Ewww!” when it happened. It usually followed with one watching them lovingly, saying, “Aren’t they adorable?”

Suddenly it wasn’t just a fictional novel I was reading anymore. This was a real couple with a marriage that lasted over two decades. And the feelings they were sharing was strong enough to be seen and felt by others. It impacted me so much, I wanted to know their story and what it took to get to that level. Most importantly, I wanted to know how it felt myself.

Watching them was the water and nutrients I needed for the seed of hope that was planted. Little did I know it was only a matter of time before I learned firsthand what that felt like, and also, it’s polar opposite…

So until next time with some holiday love and mistletoe madness…

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

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