Life With Cora : 21 Months

Since our last update three months ago, Cora's personality just keeps coming out more and more. Sometimes I feel like she already has a huge personality and then she'll do something that will shock us both (in a good way) and I'll realize how old she already feels and she is not even two yet.
We've been spending a lot of time inside being creative and getting quality time together as a family. We got to spend a lot of time together during Christmas Break and get out on some adventures to the museum and some warmer weather walks.
We've spent a lot of time being sick over the last month and a half, so Cora has really enjoyed popping some popcorn and throwing in a movie.  She'll watch most cartoon movies the whole way through, but if she is no longer interested, she'll just get up and play with her toys.
While Cora doesn't really like getting messy, she has enjoyed painting and gifting some of her creations to her family members.  I'll have to share some more pictures of her paintings in another post, but it has really been fun to watch her enjoy a shared hobby.
In the last week or so, Cora has really started to grasp the concept of 'no'... but only when she is saying it to us.  As annoying as it can be to hear her say 'no' so often, it is just as exciting to watch her develop and really start to decide when she does or doesn't want something.  She is still frequently using signs for 'finished' and 'more/food', but she is really developing her vocabulary quickly.
Cora is always following me around making sure she is in the same room as me.  She is very helpful when I'm cleaning up or cooking.  I can usually give her directions to put her toys in the toy box (that one always needs demonstrating... I think it's a trick) or to throw something in the garbage for me. Having her alongside me has made chores and cleaning a little more enjoyable.
I know we have a couple big obstacles in the coming months (weaning, potty training, etc), but Cora's happy attitude is making these tasks seem a little less daunting.  I probably say this a lot, but it has been a joy so far to watch her grow and learn.


Painting of The Cottage

Every year for Christmas, we do a drawing among the adults so you just have to get one person a larger present.  This year, I drew my aunt's name and I decided to do a painting of our favorite cottage in Wisconsin and getting notecards made for her to write to people.  It took me about a month or two to do the painting and most of the time it would be sitting there with me trying to decide what needs to be done... Basically, a majority of my creative process is me staring at whatever I'm working on and deciding on what needs to change.

It has been a long time since I've really sat down to paint something like this, but as I mentioned in this post, it has been very relaxing and inspiring.  I started out with a layer of green paint and sketched in the general plan.
Started with the red of the cottage... looking real good!  It took me a couple different red paints and quite a few layers to get the right color for the cottage.  The final perfect color was a red that my grandpa gave to me when he was cleaning out his paints.  I felt like that was pretty perfect.
Then I moved onto the rough white trim and some trees.  It took quite a few layers to cover up the sharpie, so I probably would have picked something else to sketch it out in hindsight.
Painted in the windows, made the roof black, and started darkening up the background.  Below you can see the picture I was working from.  About halfway through my project, I realized that this picture was probably ten years old and we've cut down a couple of those trees and added a different basketball hoop, but generally the picture is still true to today's form of the cottage.

Next, I painted the trees brown and darkened up the background.  I paused for a while here because I wasn't really that happy with the brown.  I tried switching the trees back to gray and working on the foreground, but then I wasn't happy with that either... so this was where I hit the not-so-great middle ground that one hits in the middle of projects.

Okay... back to brown (here you can see the progress of the weaving I was working on).  Added in some more texture with the brown, added some more branches, and tightened up the red and white on the cottage.

Added in some details on the windows, the basketball hoop, the grass, and the hammock.... and then I danced around with what I wanted to do with the trees (lots of branches? no branches? some extending to the top of the canvas?).

Added my signature for a brief moment here, but it was completely distracting so I painted over it.
Added in the planking detail and black outlining of the windows and declared it finished.
The colors are pretty bright in this one, but you can get an idea of the details in the trees and grass.
Once I decided I was finished with the piece (is an artist ever finished?), I took some nice photos to get printed.  I tried getting this printed on photo cards from Walgreens and they turned out terribly and I started to second guess my whole gift idea/painting.  I ended up putting the photo in a document and adding "Original painting by Haley Strom" on the back and sent it off to Kinko's to get it printed (like I did with these shower invites and thank you cards).  I cut and folded them myself and wrapped them up for Christmas.  I didn't get a great photo of the cards (story of this blog), but here are some out of focus phone pictures so you get an idea of what they look like.  I'm printing off some more soon, so I'll get some better pictures of them then.

My aunt says she loves them and even sent me one as a thank you card.


Weaving Number Two

For the holiday, I always exchange presents with my friend Jazz... and my present for her is always 2-3 weeks behind.  She got me and awesome giraffe cardboard taxidermy head thing and the most perfect infinity scarf ever (great pattern, draping, volume.  basically everything you need in a scarf)... and I just made her this woven wall hanging.  I knew Jazz would be the perfect recipient of a woven wall hanging and I was just itching to make another one after finishing my large triangle weaving.  I not so slyly asked her about colors she likes and what would fit in her decor (I'm sure she fully knew what I was making her because she's always up on her Facebook and IG stalking).  She basically likes all colors so I just went for it.
I started with some scraps from some fabric I got in Africa.  I love the way it brings in pattern, texture, and metallics, but doesn't dominate the piece.  I planned a small weaving with a simple hourglass shape because my large weaving took so long to make.  Once I started, I was flying through the green part so I decided to go ahead and make it a larger/longer piece.

I knew I wanted to add the white fluffy yarn because I love the texture it brings in... Then it sat like this for a couple days while I decided between a couple different colors for the other areas.
I originally wanted to bring in a mustard yellow because I know she likes that and it would work well with the African scrap fabric, but I wasn't 100% sure.  I eventually decided that the yellow and green were the same shade and it really needed black for more contrast.

Finished up the black and added the fringe... trimmed the fringe... wasn't so sure about the fringe length/shape so let it sit for a couple days... then finally declared the piece finished.

photo by Jazz
Jazz loved the present and has it hanging up near her fan from Asia just like our weaving is hanging near the fan she gifted me.  I love that we both hung our weavings and fans in a similar fashion.

I love making projects for gifts, so this was really fun for me!  I also took some 'nice' pictures with my DSLR of the finished project, so I'll share those whenever I get around to uploading... so stay tuned!
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