Artfully Megan’s Holiday 2017 Gift Guide

Artfully Megan 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Did you scoop up some good deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday? Thankfully, most of my shopping is complete because I like knocking it out as early as possible. But for those of you that haven’t found something yet for the creative person on your list, here is my 2017 holiday gift guide.

 

Subscription Box

In Christmas 2015, my husband got me a Sketchbox subscription box. At the beginning of each month, I received a box containing art supplies and a piece of artwork by a featured artist. I enjoyed trying out new supplies and revisiting old favorites. Around this time, I was starting to get more into mixed media and layering, so it came in handy.

There are plenty of other art-themed subscription boxes at various price points. I’m confident you’ll find one that suits your loved one’s interests and fits your budget.

Day Trip to an Art Museum

Another idea is to plan a trip to museum. I adore visiting museums and think museum trips make great outings. Whether you visit a local museum or one miles away, it’s a great opportunity to bond over a nice meal. It’s also a chance to see other sights, if there’s time.

If you’re in the Greater Philadelphia region, some of the museums I visited this year and enjoyed are:

Magazine Subscription

I don’t get magazines often (usually just when I go on vacation!), but I like them for learning and reading about art or my other hobbies. This might be a good idea for a collage artist because when they’re done reading, it’s becomes a new stock of collage materials.

As a style and beauty enthusiast, I usually pick up magazines like InStyle and Vogue.

Art Books

Truth be told, this is an item on my personal wishlist. I’ve gone to a few exhibits this year and longingly looked at the books in the gift shops. A lot of them are beautifully done and are sometimes paired to specific exhibits at the museum.

I see them as a way to view esteemed pieces right from your home. They can also be another way to learn and get inspired.

Gift Cards

When all else fails, gift cards are always appreciated (at least, they are for me!). Shopping for an artist sometimes feels like shopping for the person that has everything. Gift cards ensure that the person can get what they like based on their preferences and supply needs.

What are your favorite art-related gifts that you have received? What is on your wishlist for this holiday?

Artfully Megan Signature

Keeping Creative While On Vacation

What do you do when your company introduces a “use it or lose it” vacation policy? Take vacation, of course! I took five days off for a total of 11 glorious days away from the office.

Canada and New Jersey

I spent the first part of my vacation prepping for a trip to Canada to attend my cousin’s wedding. Though uncharacteristic (I prefer to be a passenger), I drove the ten hours both ways. I don’t know if it was the picturesque hill views or the changing autumn leaves (or the awesome playlist!), but it was as if a calmness took over that helped me get through it.

On the way up, I was reminded of the ways that art is everywhere. We stopped at a rest stop shortly after crossing over the Pennsylvania border into New York. As I waited for my husband and my brother, I noticed a framed message on the wall. It indicated that the glass sculpture above was on loan from the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.

I looked up and saw a fun sculpture with colorful glass orbs. I’ve really been liking glass lately and have always wanted to try glassblowing, so hopefully I can make it to the museum sometime!

Glass Sculpture at New York Rest Area

Glass sculpture at New York rest area, on loan from Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.

After our Canada trip, I had a few days of downtime to tidy our apartment and do some baking for Thanksgiving (oatmeal cookies and a poke cake, for anyone curious!). Though we live in Pennsylvania, my husband and I are both New Jersey natives. For Thanksgiving, we visited both of our families–his in North Jersey and mine in South Jersey. There were so many people to see and catch up with that almost every day was packed full of activities.

Travel Setup

Somehow I managed to find a little bit of time to work on more creative things. Everywhere I went, I toted my journal and sketchbook. Here’s what I brought with me!

Travel-Setup-Journal-Sketchbook

What I traveled with throughout the Thanksgiving 2017 holidays.

  • A Colorful Life Journal
    Posman BooksPonce City Market in Atlanta, GA
    I purchased this journal when we vacationed in Atlanta in August. I’ve been using it to collect my thoughts and memories.
  • Fabriano Sketchbook
    I received this sketchbook as part of my SketchBox subscription a few months ago. It’s thin (only 40 sheets), but it’s perfect to travel with when I go away for work or on vacation. Pictured is my first page, which is a work-in-progress black and white dot drawing of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m still working on it, but I hope to fill it completely with dot drawings done while traveling.
  • Slim Pencil Case
    Phenomenal Women Shop – Etsy
    I have only ordered from this shop once, but I use their products on a regular basis and think the quality is great! The slim pencil pouch is petite, but can hold a lot more than what’s pictured here. The material is soft and durable. There are several items in varied materials in their shop, and I would definitely recommend them!
  • Mechanical Pencil (Papermate Clear Point 0.7mm) and Pen (BIC Velocity 1.0)
    I do have my favorites, but I’m not picky with what I carry in my travel pencil case. These do just fine!
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Pens (02, 03, and 05)
    These were the same kind of pen I used when I was first drawing with pen and ink! I like Sakura products and use them in so many of my projects. I find that these work well for the dot drawings and help me to get neat, precise lines and dots.

What did you do over the Thanksgiving holidays? If you traveled, did you pack any of your creative projects to take with you?

Artfully Megan Signature

The Commute That Inspired Gratitude

Have you ever had a cathartic moment while doing something mundane? I had a moment that inspired gratitude while on the airplane last Monday.

I was feeling a bit disgruntled, as I often feel on Mondays when I’m commuting to work. I’d be spending another week away from home and, on top of that, the forecast was all clouds and rain. I sighed and looked out the window, watching the raindrops roll along the plexiglass as we sped down the runway.

I gripped the armrest and said a prayer as we lifted off. I looked down at the gloomy landscape below and mentally reviewed my list of grievances for the week. The airplane continued to climb and soon the dreary, rain-soaked Philadelphia scenery began to fade and started to be replaced with bright white clouds. On the other side of the clouds was the most beautiful sunshine and sapphire blue sky. It was then that I had my moment.

Airplane in Clouds

My view from above, somewhere over Pennsylvania.

I was living in a world of rain storms and I had forgotten about the sunshine on the other slide of the clouds.

This Thanksgiving week, I want to remind myself to focus on gratitude and incorporating it as part of my mission to live a more meaningful life. There are so many things for which to be thankful, both big and small. Here are two ways I want to express gratitude in my daily life:

Express appreciation and thankfulness when I feel it.

Rather than keeping quiet or weakly acknowledging it, I want to sincerely let others know how much I appreciate them. I have started writing more Thank You notes this year and I definitely want to continue and expand upon it.

Write more positively in my journal.

My journal is the perfect place for me to gather my thoughts and work through issues, but lately it’s been too negative. I want to try to find more balance and mention at least one thing that brought me joy that day.

Have you ever had a moment like this? What are your thoughts on gratitude this year?

Artfully Megan Signature

Back from a 2 Year Hiatus

Would you believe I haven’t posted in almost two years? Writing again after all this time feels surreal, but I told myself when I first created the blog that I’d make every effort to come back.

Since I took a two-year hiatus, many things in my life have grown and changed.

Marriage

One of the biggest things that happened was that I got married!

Artfully Megan Wedding - 2016

Artfully Megan Wedding, October 2016 (photo credit: VESA Studios)

My then-boyfriend proposed in March 2015 after six years of dating. Together with our families, we entered full-blown wedding planning mode for the next year and a half. We scoped out vendors and venues, shopped for our rings, and I hunted for the dress (it was the third one I tried on, by the way!). We regularly met with my pastor to prepare and we educated ourselves on the Filipino wedding traditions I wanted to incorporate.

The planning process wasn’t necessarily a walk in the park, but it wasn’t at all the nuisance that’s portrayed in television and movies. The planning was somewhat enjoyable, and we had a blast celebrating with family and friends when our wedding day finally came in October 2016.

We’ve been married for over a year now and the adventures continue. Over the past year, we revisited our favorite places and discovered some new ones. We never honeymooned, so our first “real vacation” as a married couple was to see the Great American Eclipse. In August, we traveled to Atlanta, GA and Columbia, SC to sightsee and personally witness the eclipse. It was a great experience and we’re already making plans for our next vacation.

The Cats

Remember Nala, the brown tabby cat that I adopted in 2012? In February of this year, we adopted another cat and named her Peggy (previously known as Ruby).

Nala and Peggy cats

Nala and Peggy “bunking!”

Even though I was thrilled to have Nala as a companion, I still occasionally browsed the adoptable cats online. One day, one cat in particular caught my eye. She was a 12 year-old orange tabby that was missing a foot. She was with her foster mother for a whopping seven years! Formerly an outside kitty, she lost her foot when she was hit by a tractor. A homeless man was her first caretaker. He diligently poured peroxide on her leg and eventually it healed. We adopted Peggy on a trial basis for a few weeks and slowly introduced her to Nala.

Peggy came from a foster home where she lived with many other cats, but really prefers to be left alone. It took a while for our cats to find a balance between Nala’s little sister-like playfulness and Peggy’s laid-back personality, but having them both is so wonderful. They’ve successfully coexisted for the last nine months. It’s heartwarming to witness when they’re being social and booping noses or “bunking” on the couch.

Volunteering

A few months ago I took the next step in my job search by notifying my manager that I wanted to change my career path. It was intimidating at first, but the search feels more promising than ever.  After I made my goals known, I realized all the support I have. I feel like I’m on the precipice of making that long desired change. I’m looking forward to getting off the road, spending more time with my family, and nurturing my personal hobbies and interests.

BEE Liberia

BEE Liberia social media image. Visit BEE Liberia at www.beeliberia.org and follow us on Instagram (@beeliberia)!

In May 2016, I joined BEE Liberia as a volunteer to use my skills for good. I was installed as their Director of Social Media and Marketing earlier this year. It’s been the perfect opportunity to use my education as a marketing graduate (fun fact!) and my creativity to change the world. BEE Liberia is a nonprofit based out of Boothwyn, PA. It strives to empower and inspire Liberian children by providing education and social services to the surrounding community. It’s truly a blessing to work with this group. With every idea I bring to the table and every piece of content I create, I know that I am making a difference.

What’s Next?

Many wonderful things have happened these past two years, but I’ve still felt a little unmotivated and depressed. My art and journaling practices are inconsistent, which is very detrimental to my spirit. Long stretches of time just seem to disappear in my memory and I think I’ve now gotten to the point where I will not accept it. I want to live more mindfully and encourage myself to indulge in my passions.

It would be too ambitious of me to expect a flip-of-the-switch change. After all, life isn’t usually experienced at a constant high. I’m just looking forward to getting to a place in my life where all the pieces are working in harmony and contributing to my well-being rather than creating more stress.

Hopefully I can continue to better myself and blog about these experiences along the way!Artfully Megan Signature