Like I mentioned in a post last week, I have been focusing on “me” stuff while Aaron is deployed…but I’m taking that concept on the road. While visiting my friend last week in North Carolina on my Deployment Distraction East Coast Tour: The Prequel, the focusing-on-me thing manifested itself in something I haven’t done since my sorority days: Arts & Crafts!!

Less “crafts” and more “arts.”

My girlfriend in NC was (still is, technically) my big [sister] in my sorority, so back in college, we were constantly crafting things for each other on big/little appreciation week, and also in the name of having the most picture boards in our decked out dorm apartment, along with endless Phi Mu paraphernalia covering everything we owned. The amount of hot glue gun burns I took in the name of sisterhood was a true sign of unconditional love.

In the spirit of “the good old days,” except this time with her 7-month-old baby joining us, we went to Michael’s and stocked up on paint supplies and canvases to play with while watching Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (the original 1960s version, because we’re Disney purists) and Tangled.

Quick side note about Michael’s: I have never once gone through the checkout line in Michael’s in under ten minutes. And it has nothing to do with a line. I have no idea what their employees are smoking– and this applies to every single Michael’s store in any state– but the checkout experience is nothing short of an adventure. When Aaron and I ran to Michael’s every other day during the weeks leading up to our wedding, he and I began using it as our form of afternoon entertainment. It wouldn’t be appropriate to share the entire story here, but let’s just say our favorite checkout moment involved a cashier not knowing his own name, and the words “not nearly enough Black Jesus decor.” I can’t. I can’t.

Moving right along, my big and I went to town on our canvases, and I realized how much I love painting. I used to draw pretty regularly, but I don’t have long lecture classes to sit through anymore, which means I don’t have any reason to fill notebooks with half-information, half-intricate doodles.

Using Pinterest for inspiration, I somehow free-handed an entire map of the world, and free-handed all of the lettering on this little creation with one $0.75 paintbrush last week:

love brings you home

This painting is actually a gift for Aaron when he gets home, but I’m not worried that he’ll see it here. He’s a wonderful husband, but there’s not enough money in the world to get him to read my blog. He insists that I read it out loud to him if I’m ever super proud of a post. When I give him a hard time about it, he just quotes Nick Miller from New Girl and says “I’m not convinced I know how to read. I’ve just memorized a lot of words.” He’s special. I also posted a picture of this painting on social media, but the odds of him seeing it there are slim to none, as well, because A) he doesn’t have access to social media when he’s out to sea, B) he doesn’t even check it when he’s in port.

Don’t ruin the surprise by sending him a picture of this, by the way. Because as we know, nothing is a more wonderful surprise for a man than swirly, colorful artwork painted by his wife…

I also made these bad boys, among four other canvases in the last five days, but I can’t post the other ones here because they’re all surprises for friends. Clearly, I’m a bit addicted:

anchor L

dog painting

That first one is an “L” for Leyko, in case you don’t read the language of Monogram. The anchor is a nod to his career in the Coast Guard, and also because anchors are cute. Which is weird when you think about it, because in reality, anchors are just giant hooks of bulky metal…but I guess hearts aren’t all that cute in reality either. And I’ve never seen a star up close, but I doubt they’re as charming as the five-pointed design we’ve come to know and love. Whoa, tangent.

The second one is super simple, but I made it for one of my close friends in Va Beach who is more obsessed with dogs than anyone I’ve ever met. I thought I was pretty in love with all dogs…until I met this girl. I figured I’d make her something simple and not-too-girly that her husband wouldn’t mind hanging in the house.

I share these masterful creations with you not to convince you that I’m the next coming of Picasso, which..maybe I am, but rather for these two reasons:

1. Try to find time in your life to do things that add some serenity to your life. I forgot how much painting calms me, and even though I spend a lot of time doing other things I love, like singing, traveling, spending time with loved ones, eating, etc., none of those things particularly clear my head or make me feel calm. Maybe yours isn’t painting…it could be reading, fishing, listening to music with your eyes closed, working on your car, meditating, cooking, or highlighting your favorite words in the dictionary. Whatever it is, don’t forget to lose yourself in it once in a while. Hanging out with just you, yourself, and your mind (sans technology) is really wonderful.

2. I want to practice my art! If you want a little canvas for yourself, let me know, and I shall paint you one for free! It’s super fun to me, but I can’t hang inspirational quote canvases on every inch of our house without making the place look like the hallways of an elementary school. Obviously, I can’t paint a portrait of your face (I mean, I guess I could try…) or an abstract water-color of your favorite sunset picture, but if you’re looking for a little something to brighten your bathroom walls or that random corner of your house where nothing looks right, I’m your girl. Remember: FOR FREE. Maybe some day I’ll get good enough at it to sell them, but for now I just want to make people happy and enjoy this wonderful form of “me time.”

So, tell me a quote you love, give me a general idea, or ask me to surprise you, but whatever you do, don’t not ask for anything at all, because then Aaron will come home to an apartment that looks like Pinterest threw up all over the walls.