Monday, March 20, 2017

My Weekend Trip to New Orleans



In between our birthdays in January, my best friend Skye and I went on a girls weekend trip to New Orleans. I'm such a nervous traveler, mainly because I don't go anywhere very often...but I was so happy to do it with my dear friend, because she is an expert traveler. She basically planned this whole trip, so for that I have to truly thank her. Without her expertise, chances are I never would have planned this trip myself, and I would have never gotten to experience such an amazing place! 

As soon as we landed in Louisiana we took a bus down to our hotel, The French Market Inn, and dropped our stuff off and immediately went walking around. EVERYTHING WAS SO ALIVE! Back at home, it was about 30 degrees, but there it was at least 65! We were both so thankful to just be wearing t-shirts! As we walked the streets, you could hear live music playing from every direction. Street performers standing still as if frozen in time. Art from local artists lining fences that were truly inspiring. Horse drawn carriages. The smell of delicious food wafting through the air. It was truly a special place, and I knew immediately that I was going to have a lot of fun that weekend...



One of the first stops we made was at Cafe Du Monde. I mean, like, DUH. We made it the mission of the trip to try all the beignet places in New Orleans, because you can never have enough fried dough, amiright?! It was so incredibly busy there, but we managed to snag a table and order some beignets and cafe au lait. They were squishy and sugary and everything that I had dreamed of...* sigh * 

After our dinner of Po-Boys and Gumbo at Johnny's Po-Boys( and after we spent a few hours in our hotel room, digesting that meal ) we decided to go out on Bourbon Street and experience the craziness! As we walked out of our hotel, we noticed that a street was blocked off. As we looked around we noticed a film crew and cameras and got very excited. Turns out, they were filming a scene for NCIS: New Orleans right there on the street and who did we happen to see but LEVAR BURTON AND WILMER VALDERRAMA! Guys. I died. I literally almost had a panic attack when I saw Levar( butterfly in the sky...I can go twice as high...* cries *) AND FEZ, and I was so insanely excited. Skye and I decided we were not going anywhere until the scene was completed. And there we stayed for a few hours, talking to extras, watching them film this group dance scene and literally almost fainting when Wilmer walked by, cuz dayum.

So, when we were all done watching tv magic happen, we took our hyped up selves, and danced the night away in a few bars. I hadn't done that in a few years, and man, was it awesome.


The next morning, we decided to try Cafe Beignet, which I had heard really good things about. As you can see from the picture above, it wasn't a very large cafe, but supremely popular, since the line became very long after we got there. They offered various classics like Jambalaya and Muffaletta, as well as Andouille sausage and omelettes. We tried the beignets with our breakfast( duh ) and promptly decided that Cafe Beignet's beignets were less doughy, and a little more crispy than the ones at Cafe Du Monde, making them a clear winner for me out of the two. 
If I can remember right, since it has been a few months since the trip, we finished our second day off with dinner at Evangeline. A very sweet and delicious little restaurant where we both had amazing meals at. Twice! I HIGHLY recommend their banana's foster cheesecake. Hnnnnngggg, oh yeah baby...

One of the activities we definitely wanted to experience while in New Orleans, was visiting a cemetery. We decided to take an Uber to The Lafayette Cemetery No. I ( the other ones you had to pay to get in with a tour, this one was free ) and we wandered around for a good while. Something about being in that cemetery made me feel very...humbled. I don't know what it was, possibly seeing all the names of the young children barried there, most of them dying from Yellow Fever, that really made me appreciate modern medicine for one, and it made me feel blessed to be alive...to experience such a solemn area, it really made me pay my respects to past generations of Americans who suffered so much heartache...



The last day we were in NOLA, we really wanted to live it up. That night we visited The Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. It truly was a magical sight. Unfortunately, we didn't get to actually sit at the rotating bar, since it was packed full, but we did get to sip on some delicious NOLA classic cocktails, and get hit on by two young men who were trying to invite us up to their rooftop bar lounge...aaaand, we escaped shortly after that.


After that we got kind of crazy and ended up dancing the night away in some gay clubs, seeing a drag show, and befriended some older gay gentleman who were very generous and bought us some cranberry vodkas. It was truly a perfect last night.

It was such a rich and full weekend trip, it felt like much longer. Most of the days we were just walking around, shopping, eating delicious treats and authentic NOLA dishes. We got our fortunes told, went into a voodoo shop, had fresh oysters, had overpriced cocktails, and ended up taking home waaaay too many Marde Gras beads. It was a successful girls weekend getaway, and it ignited a traveling itch in me. Bring on the trips, 2017! I'm ready!


~Grace Abigail

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Ready, Set, Goals


2017. Oh hey there! You just kinda popped in out of nowhere didn't ya?

It's only the beginning of March and I can't decide if I'm totally OVER 2017, or I'm completely excited about it. This has certainly been a very happy last couple months, I must say!

I always really love the start of the new year( even though, it's not really the true start of the year, I mean it's been 2 months, but whatever I digress... ) Everything is new and the year ahead is full of promises of happy times and goals to be set for a better future. I try to think of a few things I can focus on that will make me feel like I'm accomplishing something. A small thing that isn't too hard that I don't feel bad about forgetting in 5 months time. Because that is what usually happens with me and new year's resolutions. I completely forget after maybe 4 months of trying. Heck, if I'm being honest, maybe only 2 months. I'm not one to really keep going with things. I mean...wasn't my last blog post in November of last year...but that's not important right now...* ahem *



Anyway, it's the fresh beginning of 2017 and it's already been a pretty great year so far! I have been painting more and more and trying to up my inventory for my Etsy shop. I know you've all been DYING for more artwork from me( ha ha, right?...)and I've made it a personal goal to sell at least 5 pieces this year from my shop. That means work work work( oh hey Rihanna ). I want to push myself creatively and become comfortable with new techniques. I want to improve my work ethic and make more time for painting, even if that means skipping that latest episode of The Bachelor...Basically, I want to be proud of what I make and happy to sell and promote myself. Being embaressed of my work has always been the number one thing that has held me back.


Along with a few smaller goals like, 1. Not eating McDonalds for as long as possible and 2. Take more walks and be generally " healthier " ugh, and maybe 3. Moving out of STUPID ILLINOIS THAT CAN'T DECIDE IF IT'S GONNA BE SPRING ONE DAY AND WINTER THE NEXT COME ON FOR CHRIST SAKE'S....mmhmm....Those are basically my future plans for the year.   

What are some things you're excited about this year? 


~Grace Abigail

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Haircuts, Halloween Happenings, Recent Art Endeavors, and Thanksgiving Recap...

Hellooooo friends, who is in need of an update? There have certainly been a few things happening over in the Handschin world lately, so I thought I'd come on here and do a little post for ya...

First off, I cut my hair! I haven't had my hair this short for maybe...7 years? I am usually part of the long hair club, but I just needed a change. I mostly just wanted it off my neck, and because it took so long to style when it was long, I almost never had time to do anything with it. Now it takes me about 10 minutes to just do a few curls with my straightener and I'm set for like, 3 days lol. I love it, and I feel so freeeeee!


My little squish in his Halloween costume! Believe it or not, this is the ONLY picture I got of him in his costume...FAIL

Uh, sultry vampire stare anyone...?

I was too lazy to actually carve this pumpkin...so we just drew on him instead lol

So, Halloween happened. Link was a dragon( who absolutely REFUSED to put the dragon hood up but oh well ) and I was a vampire princess sorta thing? Haha, I basically just wanted to wear a long pretty dress and do dark vampy makeup, so it worked out. We ended up going trick or treating for the first time with Link with another couple who has a son a little older than mine. We had freakishly out of Illinois character warm weather that night, so I actually got a little sweaty running after Link in my long dress! He didn't really get the whole concept of going up to the door and saying trick or treat thing, he mostly just liked to run in people's yards and mess with their landscaping...but he had fun anyway. He was running and yelling and just so excited to be out and about, I could tell. Sadly, I didn't get ANY pictures of us all in our costumes( Mom fail ), I just got a few after we were done and exhausted. All in all, it was super fun, and I can't wait to do it again next year when Link will probably have a better idea of what to do.


My sister came for a few days after Halloween and we went to Curtis Orchard, where we ran around the deserted pumpkin patch for a good part of an hour, exploring and talking. I love this picture of Link and her above, so many feeeels. He loves his auntie!

A curvaceous little doodle I made with my son's markers


I've been slowly making new art to add to my Etsy. These two mini paintings above are available now if you'd like to go on over and take a gander at them. It's so nice to consistently make new art again. I feel like I was in such a rut for the longest time. It's good to feel somewhat artistically whole again.


All this past week we've been in Thanksgiving mode as well. We had dinner with Kyle's brother and Dad last Sunday. Went out to dinner on Thanksgiving night with my Dad and step-mom, and Friday night we had a dinner with some of my friends from work...so it has really been a whirlwind of a holiday. But Kyle has been on vacation all this past week, so we've got to spent a lot of time together. It's been a real blessing! The picture above is the ONLY picture AGAIN, that I got of us this past weekend. Life with a toddler man...it's hard to get a good picture in. Hopefully this Christmas I will be better at documenting our activities.

Thanks for tuning in everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! :)


~Grace Abigail

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Family Trip to Curtis Orchard




I love fall, I mean...honestly, who doesn't? Who could even hate fall? That person doesn't exist, because it's the best. Done. Okay now that that's settled...

Now that Lincoln can walk around by himself like a big boy( silently cries...) Kyle and I thought it would be super fun to take our little guy on his first trip to the local pumpkin patch where he could roam free and get into everything just like the curious demon he really is. He went last year, but he was basically in the stroller the whole time, and the trip was basically just for us parents and family. It was way more exciting this time, because we could watch his reactions to all the awesome fall themed things!

He loved riding in the wagon! 

King of the pumpkins!

He had soooo much fun! We got lunch before we trekked out to the pumpkin patch at Curtis Orchard. We had yummy apple cider, and peach cobbler, and I had an amazing chicken salad sandwich that still gives me a yearning every once in awhile...I'm glad that we fueled up before we headed out into the patch, because it was quite a journey. Lincoln kept on looking around at all the different colors, and getting so excited he was running every which way. It was weirdly hot that day, so running after my toddler in full fall attire when you're sweating is not my fave thing...but it was worth it.



We kind of wanted Link to just roam around and pick his own pumpkins while they were all lined up together. We didn't have much luck out in the actual pumpkin patch. All of the good ones were already picked, so we just chose from all the assorted ones back by the shop. We went kind of excited-parent-crazy buying pumpkins. I'm gonna chock it up to the fact we were both so excited he was so entertained. He would touch a pumpkin and try to pick it up and make that grunting sound like he was reeeally staining to lift it, and we would just say, " WE HAVE TO GET THAT ONE, HE REALLY WANTED IT! " and so on...Btw, pumpkins can be kind of expensive...* ahem *



At this point, we were all a little sweaty, a little tired, and just really ready to get in the car and head back home while devouring some apple fritters. You can totally see it in Link's face above. He was very much a squirmy worm. Maybe it's just the fact that he's almost two years old, but if he's not moving around and doing something, he's just a wreck when you try to corral him anywhere. He very much wanted to climb into the circular ring of ponies giving rides to children...while they were walking around, and throwing a major stank face when you try to pull him away.

I gotta say that parenting a little whirlwind demon child is truly one of the hardest things I can think of doing. Most days you're so exhausted that you can hardly hear one more Elmo song or you'll lose your goddamn mind, and the other days you're on the verge of tears every five seconds because your child is so incredibly perfect and beautiful and you're wishing he'd never grow older than this very moment...It's so amazing, and really hard too. But worth it. You get it.


After we got home, my two guys took naps while I had some alone time. I quietly sat on my couch while my house was quiet and still and had one of those so happy you're gonna cry moments looking back at the photos I took of him. It was such a good good day. A great way to start off the Holiday season with my little family.


~Grace Abigail

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Cranberry Country


Last weekend, I took a trip up to the Chicago area to meet up with my best friend Skye, so we could drive to Wisconsin the next morning for a cranberry festival. Because, why not, right? Standing in a cranberry bog( like they do on the Ocean Spray commercials ) was on my dearest friend's bucket list, and the more she talked about it, the more I wanted to do it too. So there we were, at 5:45am, starting our journey to cranberry country with Starbucks in hand, making our way to a town called Warrens in Wisconsin.

Driving through that area of Wisconsin was so beautiful. It was in full blown Fall mode, with the maroons, oranges, and dark greens everywhere in the heavy forested areas we were driving through to get to the farm. After we made our way down some very winding roads, we made it to the Wetherby cranberry farm and instantly started getting excited for our trip to see...the cranberries!

We paid five dollars to ride down in a school bus to where all the cranberry harvesting was going down. We giggled and squeaked in excitement as we soon came to the realization, that yes, we would be soon standing in a cranberry bog. 

Our tour guide, who was part of the third generation of cranberry farmers at the Wetherby cranberry company, explained to us how they harvested the cranberries and how they extract them from the vines they grow on. The above picture shows how they somewhat corral the berries once they are popped from their vines.  It was pretty impressive learning that the cranberry company had been around since 1903, and it was almost entirely still ran by the family.

Mandatory blogger shoe picture.

America!

Finally, after standing in a long line which seemed like it took forever, we got our high welly boots on and traipsed on in! I mean, just look at the sheer JOY on our faces! We had so much fun taking pictures, snapchats, and just taking in the beautiful scenery around us. It was such a cool experience!

Where you at Ocean Spray? I'm ready for my close up.

After we piled back on to the school bus to make it back to the sorting facility, we got hot cranberry cider, and bought some fresh cranberries( which I'm totally gonna use for cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving ), and some cranberry wine as well. And I am happy to report that the wine is verrrry good, but WILL be mixed with something, because holy crap, tartness! They also had cranberry cakes and pies for sale in the facility, as well as cool cranberry cookbooks!

All in all, a wonderful trip to do a crazy activity with one of my bestest lady pals was just what I needed to clear my head and get me super excited for the Fall. The drive back was also very inspiring, what with all the rolling hills and beautiful colors. Wisconsin is pretty freaking epic, guys.

This trip was so fun, and just in time because the holidays are soon coming and I know it will get kinda crazy trying to figure out another visit with my friend amidst all the family activities. And I was super lucky to find someone last minute to watch Link, so that I could go have a little adventure and have much needed girl time. 

If you ever decide you want to go to the Wetherby farm to experience the cranberry overload, they only have the farm open to the public the first Saturday in October for a few hours for their harvest day. So, next year, go on up to Warrens Wisconsin, if you are as cranberry obsessed as we are.

And Happy Fall y'all! :)


~Grace Abigail

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Do What You Love, a mantra that should not be forgotten

I've always loved making art. Since I was really little. I don't know how it started, I probably saw my sister drawing something and I wanted to do everything that she did, so I drew something as well. Then I drew something everyday. I took art classes thanks to my Mom( I'm guessing that was the only thing I took interest in...I didn't have a lot of extra activities as a child lol ) and I went through patterns of drawing little girls in floofy dresses sat in their adorable rooms, complete with teddy bears and canopy beds. Also every Disney princess I saw, I drew her. 


So, when high school was officially coming to an end, I had no ideaaaaa what in the hell I wanted to do. Psychology entered my mind as well as Early Childhood Education, but nothing really made me that interested to learn more. As I entered my second year( I think, honestly school at Community College is all kind of a blur...) I thought to myself, " Why not try art classes? I have no idea if I could ever make a living from this, or even if I want to keep at it for the rest of my life, but it sounds fun! " So I took drawing classes, oil painting classes, and art history.....and for the first time in a long time, I felt interest in school. For the first time, I actually enjoyed learning about a subject, and I felt that I actually connected with the material, I wanted to be better, and I wanted to learn more and more. And to my surprise, since I actually stopped drawing all through high school since I was focused on theater for all of it...I was actually pretty good still. My confidence sky rocketed, with compliments from teachers and peers, and even much older classmates who had been painting for years longer than me, were telling me I was a natural. And I felt so happy. Like I belonged.


Then, I doubted myself. I entered into a relationship that enveloped all my attention, I'm sorry to say. I let my doubt of my love for art take over, and I let myself forget about how good making art made me feel, and I just focused on my boyfriend. I started to go to my classes less and less, because I thought, " What's the point? I should focus my attention and skill on something that will actually make me money. " I eventually dropped my classes, because being in such a rocky relationship made me unable to focus on art and my self confidence was broken down to nothing. Looking back on it now, it was so foolish, how one relationship that I actually thought would last, made me banish any happy thoughts of just making beautiful things that made me feel happy and complete.


It has now been about 7 years since I've actually gone to school for art, and I feel like I am finally back to realizing how much making art really effects me. How it truly makes me feel like I'm being my best self. It calms me, it connects me to my inner desires and love for beautiful things I want to capture and keep, and it gives me confidence. So much confidence. I hate that I have lost so much time of my young life, not perfecting the gift that literally God has given me since I can remember.

I do think it's important to be responsible and to work hard at a job that not necessarily is your favorite thing ever, but it helps you survive and make ends meat. Sometimes you can't just pack a suitcase and take your art supplies and go live in a studio apartment and obsessively make art all day everyday. I have bills to pay and a husband and baby to take care of. My dream of living off my art is not realistic right now, but that doesn't mean it's un-achievable. What is achievable is making a few pieces of art a week, a month, pushing myself to try new techniques, new styles....just getting as much experience as I can to make up for the 7 years I lost myself. 

I lost my passion in a sea of self-doubt and lack of clear sight of what I wanted. But I can get it back. I have a whole life to live to make beautiful things that make people feel something, and I can't and should not ignore that. 

And I actually have made money from my art. I started my Etsy shop in 2012, and since then I've made a few sales, and each one has boosted my confidence so much! 

It's possible to do what you love. I have to remind myself every time I feel defeated or stuck that I LOVE art and I should never stop. Never stop doing what you love.


~Grace Abigail

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vacation to Lake Michigan










Two weeks ago, I went on my first vacation in a very long time! It was marvelous! I spent so much time with family, and it was overall, very good for my psych. Sadly, Kyle couldn't come, which made it a little more difficult( shout out to all single parents, OMG was it tough at times! ) But I had lots of fun regardless. I had a lot of family bonding time, which was very much needed. My sister and I never really get to spend a lot of extended time together since we don't live in the same town anymore, and we actually got to have long meaningful conversations! haha. 
Lincoln got to experience many new things. His first beach trip, first carousel ride, first time in Michigan. He can't speak yet, but I could tell that he had a really good time as well lol. He certainly liked all the attention and all the snacks that everyone graciously shared with him. He was definitely spoiled. It was also truly a blessing to experience all sorts of just fun activities with my family. We had not gone on a family vacation in well over twelve years...so it was well overdue.

In a few weeks, I will be going back to full-time at my job, and I'm pretty excited about it. I love everyone I work with, and I am lucky to work at a company where they treat their employees so well. It couldn't have come at a better time too, because Kyle and I have experienced what seems like SOOOOO much stress in the past three weeks with our cars just generally being a pain in the butt. New tires and new axels and new brakes are pretty expensive all together, and I am looking forward to making more money to help with all that craziness.

Since my vacation, my creative juices have kind of erupted from the depths on my mind and I have been creating new art to sell in my Etsy shop. In a few days I will be adding two new paintings inspired by the beach by Lake Michigan, so watch out for those soon! I was experiencing a creative block, and being in nature for a week, not having to think of all the stresses of everyday life that keep me from letting loose and being able to create, really helped me :) I'm certainly happy to be feeling myself again. Little by little.

Alright, Link is waking up so I gotta go do Mommy duty. Have a great day everyone!


~Grace Abigail

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Happy Moments Captured

Hello friends! I know it has been a couple months since I've posted. Life happens I guess haha. Like usual when I take a blogging break it's mainly because I'm just not inspired enough...or honestly just because it's been kind of stressful as of late. I love taking my time here though, and documenting some of the happiest parts of my days. I think it is important to keep track of the good times, just so when things get stressful or crappy, you can look back and remember...it's not all bad. It's mostly good! But we get down in the dumps, don't we? I am more often then I like to admit, a victim of pessimism, but here I am, remembering to celebrate and revel in the happy! Stay positive kids. It's the only thing that can help you through the tough times sometimes. There are always good times ahead.

Aaaand now that I've lectured you a bit, let's get on to the cute photos of my cute family!

Lincoln at his 1st birthday party! It was such a special day! All of our family was there to celebrate this guy. He totally attacked that cupcake, haha! And in total MOM fashion, I cried like a little baby when Link got his first haircut the day before. It's not my fault all the emotions were coming at me all at once. WHERE DID MY BABY GO?!




A couple pictures of my little man and I exploring that my friend took. That picture of him smiling kills me!

I mean...

Lincoln and I watching fireworks on the Fourth of July! He doesn't quite look too excited in this picture, but he really liked the fireworks! I was actually kind of nervous about him watching them, since he's not really a big fan of loud noises most the time, but he sat up and clapped and oooh'd and ahhhh'd like a big guy. It was a great Holiday. 

Link and his Daddy. We are obsessed with Pokemon Go right now, and we've been going to our local park almost every night and catching them all! Lincoln is a big fan of all the doggies he sees on their walks, and smiling at all the cute girls. He's becoming so social nowadays. He gets so excited whenever he meets someone his own age. He just wants to tackle/hug them, which is cute but kind of embarassing a little bit, haha.

Speaking of socializing, Link will probably be starting daycare next month! Ahhh! Our current babysitter can no longer watch him, and I will have to be going full time at my job soon to cover the cost of daycare. I keep telling myself that this is a good thing, that it will be good for him. I can't help but be nervous about it. Our entire routine for the day is going to be changing, but I know we can do it. Gotta break that little bubble at some point. It will be good for him...I know it will. :)

Thanks for coming back and checking up on us, hopefully I will have more posts soon. Love you guys!


~Grace Abigail