2018 Holiday Gift Guide by Rachel Alvarez Art

My Story.

I don’t know about you, but I always have the hardest time trying to think of gifts for my loved ones. Whether they are young or old, my mind gets swamped with ideas and information and I usually end up settling for a simple, easy to please them….gift card.

That’s why this year I thought it would be fun to help out my art followers with some easy gift ideas so they can cross off some people on their list.

So, here goes!

For the traveler on your list: 

  • this US travel tracker map. Formatted from 50 individual watercolor paintings, you won’t see anything like it! Each weatherproof vinyl decal can be placed individually so that your wanderluster can celebrate the places that they’ve checked off!

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For the coffee lover (or new mom ūüėČ )¬†

  • the brunette version seen below was originally painted on International Women’s Day. You can read the full reason why here. I’m looking forward to expanding this series as time allows. So fun to paint!

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For the long-distance family or friend:

  • tell them you can’t live without them- even across the miles- with this customizable long distance love art print. (also great for wedding and anniversary gifts!)

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For the college student: 

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For the foodie or chef:

  • Help them bring a splash of color to their walls (not just their meals) with these pretty watercolor fruit and herb prints. (Also available as blank notecards.)

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For the vintage lover: 

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For the photographer: 

  • a little something to inspire them to share their gifts with the world: a camera sticker that they can put anywhere.

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For you: 

  • a way to celebrate the places you’ve made memories. All 50 state art prints available in standard, framable sizes- pop them in a frame and make your own beautiful gallery wall!

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For everyone on your list:  

  • gift cards, available in any denomination. Would they want a custom home portrait? Maybe a painting of their beloved pup? The sky is the limit when you let them pick something they will cherish forever.
  • donut notecards…because, who doesn’t love donuts?!

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So, there you go friends! Lots of ideas for everyone on your list.

Be sure to check out the full shop here: www.rachelalvarezart.com (also, you will get a 10% coupon if you sign up for the newsletter!)

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

– Rachel

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A Delmarvelous weekend – 48 hours of local fun in (and around) Salisbury, Md.

My Story.

Salisbury, Md. on Delmarva's Eastern Shore

 

I was born on a stretch of land on the Eastern Shore of Maryland called the Delmarva Peninsula, in the small town of Salisbury (population 33,114). Little did I know at the time that I would leave only to move back 3 different times. You see, when you grow up here, it’s easy to take things for granted. ¬†When you are 16 wanting to go to a live concert, or 20 hoping for a bit of “city life”, you definitely won’t find it here. However, now as an adult, having lived a few different places, I fully understand now why people choose to “settle down” here.

 

To get here from anywhere west or south, you have to go over quite a few bridges or even drive into underwater tunnels. Perhaps, if you are a Marylander, you’ve only driven past Salisbury on your way to Ocean City or Assateague because that’s where ALL of the people go- (funny side story: when I first brought my Dominican husband to Ocean City on Memorial Day weekend of 2012 he asked, “are they giving away money or food?”)

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Image shown with permission : Zamonin

 

As a local, I do enjoy those other beach hangouts but usually only during off season (when I’m not snuggling up next to a stranger on my beach towel. …”what are you drinking?”). So, this post is all about my hometown- the places that I love to go to on a regular basis- and the places that I think that the locals would brag about. Honestly, it’s very hard to narrow down the list for this post but I’m gonna try to sum them up into one Delmarvelous weekend.

Here goes:

Day one:

  1. Start your day off right with a latte and breakfast from Rise Up¬† – A local favorite! Rise Up has the BEST local coffee. It’s Fair Trade and they have the happiest servers on the planet. Seriously. While you’re there, admire the beautiful window art painted by local artist Dean McNelia.
  2. Go to Pemberton Park for a hike on one of its many secluded trails. Make sure to read up on some of the history behind the planation home that was built there in 1741. Bring a book and sit at the picnic table surrounded by water.Pemberton Historical Park, Salisbury, MarylandPemberton Historical Park, Salisbury, Md.
  3. Roaring Point/Cove Beach РTake a country drive down Nanticoke Road to a pristine secluded beach on the bay (perfect for kids because there are no ocean waves to worry about). Stop by Westside Grocery, Bait & Tackle first to get your picnic lunch supplies. 20247947_10159119398720215_3921127018061044373_o
  4. Red Roost for dinner: crabs, fried chicken and corn on the cob. Two words- OLD BAY (seasoning) – a Maryland staple.
  5. Stay at the Whitehaven Hotel and go for an evening kayak or bike ride. (both are provided free of charge to guests.)

Day two:

  1. Take the Whitehaven Ferry over to Deal Island beach and search for beach glass. (make sure bring a bucket and to wear flip flops or beach shoes- some of the glass is still raw.) Deal Island Beach, Deal Island Maryland
  2. Drive down to the end of Deal Island Road to Wenona to see the crab shacks and boat slips of the local watermen.17545502_10158478543935215_4293836132741013794_o
  3. head over to Salisbury for lunch at Market Street Inn.
  4. take a walk thru the Salisbury City Park & Zoo– located in the heart of Salisbury.
  5. Visit the Ward Museum
  6. Dinner and local brews at Evolution Craft Brewing Co.
  7. Go to a Shorebirds Game- if you have kids, make sure bring extra money for the carousel and stay for the fireworks.

Well, there you have it folks. Here a summer fun itinerary for you. Our kids just had their very last day of preschool for the year, so we will be doing lots of exploring this summer. Can’t wait!

Be sure to follow along to read posts from some really fun guest bloggers from all 50 states! Next up: Arizona. We will hear from Alyssa Ryan from @alyssaryanphotography about her recent trip to Page, Arizona.

About the writer: Rachel Alvarez is a watercolor artist living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her work celebrates life’s simple pleasures. Her custom watercolor paintings and illustrations reflect a love for travel, adventure, memory making and family history. You can see more of her work or commission your own piece of art here: www.rachelalvarezart.com

Follow her on Instagram here: @rachelalvarezart

Want to follow along as we travel to all 50 states? Receive an email newsletter every two weeks and freebies & coupons along the way>here<. Thanks for following along!

Have a beautiful day,

Rachel

 

 

*Please note: none of the content is this post was endorsed in any way.

8 tips for battling self doubt as an artist. techniques to increase productivity for artists, makers and creatives by Rachel Alvarez Art

8 tips for battling self doubt as an artist.

My Story.

True story. I am consistently battling self-doubt. As they say, we are all our worst critics, right? Self doubt is what kept me from using my art degree for over 15 years. It took me becoming a SAHM, after a long corporate career, to feel confident enough to try to paint again (mostly because we were going to be relying on one income anyways so, if I failed, it wouldn’t really affect anyone else but me.)

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After 2 years of painting every single day, I have had many opportunities to face my fears head on. It crops up in many ways, but here are some of the effects that self doubt has had on my art if I let it get to the best of me:

  1. Under-charging for my work. I’ve caught myself typing an email response to a custom painting inquiry and instead of putting my true prices and sticking to them, I typed a number- back spaced- and re-typed a lower amount. Or, something has been thrown in for free.
  2. I’ve said no to certain projects just because it wasn’t in my “comfort zone” and I was afraid of failing.
  3. Procrastination happens more often when I am not believing in myself.

8 tips for battling self doubt as an artist. techniques to increase productivity for artists, makers and creatives by Rachel Alvarez Art
During the last year or so, I have been really intentional about acknowledging these feelings and determining their roots. Here are some things that have really helped me to produce when I am not feeling the best about my ability:

  1. Having email templates ready so that I can respond to inquiries in the same manner every time. This takes the emotional ups and downs out of the equation. Doing this has helped me to have even more confidence in my work than if I had accepted commission work at a discounted rate (which leaves me feeling defeated for not allowing myself to get paid what any person should get paid for the amount of hours/effort I am putting in.)
  2. Making the decision to never say “no” (as long as I have time in my schedule to take it on). Last year, I made a personal decision to do my absolute best to take on all painting challenges- even the ones that tempted me to run in the opposite direction. I am a perfectionist by nature, and doing this has helped me to deliver quality pieces of art that are completely outside of my normal subject matter…like a rooster wearing earrings eating chocolate, or a Venus Fly Trap. In the end, I have found that the completion of art that utterly terrifies me actually encourages me to take on an even bigger challenge the next time.
  3. Deciding to produce every single day for an audience (even if there isn’t one). This may sound strange, but if I make a commitment to produce every day in honor of my followers, it helps me get past self doubt. It helps me focus on the process and get away from the hangups that are sometimes associated with it. It helps me to get outside of myself and give me hope that I might make someone smile that day- and that makes getting past that moment of doubt worth every bit of the courage that it takes to paint.
  4. Keep a journal of quotes from happy customers. Self explanatory, I’m sure, but remembering people who have previously trusted me with their vision and memories helps me to know that I am capable of doing it successfully again.
  5. Studying previous personal art and looking for times when technical improvements or better use of materials were developed.
  6. Going outside. There is just something really healing about getting fresh air and then sitting back down in the studio.
  7. Recording the painting process. Last year, I had many moments of self doubt when the image on my watercolor paper was still in the mid-beginning stages. By filming the process, and then speeding it up, I can study how elements like shape, color, contrast and texture develop over time. It helps me to understand the concept of growth in my art. Just like a seed, it takes many other critical steps of development before that seed becomes a flower, blooming out of the dirt.
  8. Never throw away an unfinished piece of art. This decision was born out of this 50 state watercolor project, which took a little more than 5 months to complete. For that project, I had personal deadline- November 1st. With limited time available to paint (literally during the nap times of my kids) I could not afford to fail. If I started something that I wasn’t happy with I set it aside, moved onto something else, and re-visited it on another day. Somehow, I managed to paint 50 consecutive paintings without throwing away a single piece of paper – and I finished the last one on, you guessed it, November 1st.

watercolor United States map - 50 state paintings celebrating America the Beautiful. by Rachel Alvarez

How does your self doubt effect your business? What do you do to combat it?

Let’s get in touch. I would love to hear about your work, and the art that only YOU can do.

-Rachel @rachelalvarezart

PS. Along the way, I have been greatly inspired by other fellow artists and entrepreneurs. Here are some links to some of my favorite speeches and podcasts on this topic.

Recently, I had the privilege of hearing Adam Lerner talk about the risk of failure at Maryland Arts Day in Annapolis. It was very inspirational. He spoke about his Failure Project- which was designed to allow kids the opportunity to fail- while trying. Students were awarded “biggest failure” based on how much of a risk they were willing to take in order to create. This speech is similar to the one I heard last week:

“Hacks to get more done” via Amy Porterfield’s podcast

“Keeping Real on Social Media” via Jenna Kutcher’s podcast

Read my latest blog post here: I didn’t get the art scholarship.

5 hidden gems on the Delmarva Peninsula

My Story.

When I was 13, living in rural Ohio, I didn’t yet know that I would eventually develop a love affair with long, winding back-country roads and abandoned barns. In fact, I dreaded small town living. ¬†I distinctly remember daydreaming about where I would adventure to when I was old enough to explore.

One day, my dad received a letter from his best friend who had moved from Ohio, and been living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for a few years. In this letter he wrote that, “you can throw a rock in any direction and hit water.” Soon after, my dad was planning a move for our family to a new place.

It was the summer before my freshman year of high school, and we had packed all of our belongings into a U-Haul and moved to Salisbury, a small town on the “Delmarva” peninsula on Maryland’s eastern shore.

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It wasn’t easy moving into high school without any friends. I spent most of the weekends exploring the area with my mom, getting to know this small stretch of the state (about 170 miles long and 70 miles wide). We found cool little thrift shops and small towns. Little did I know that these moments are the same ones that I would treasure for a lifetime.

When I got into college, I knew that I wanted to be an art major. Initially, I took photography classes- mostly so that I would have a way to document these hidden gems along the backroads that I had come to love. Later, I chose a double major in photography/painting.

In the years post graduation, I spent most of my days off getting lost on winding county roads. With my camera in hand, I was able to meet many interesting people and step back in time.

Since then, my family and I have done the same…searching for abandoned beaches and local ice cream shops.

Here are a few of our favorite spots:

  1. Elliotts Island, MD. To get there: turn south in Vienna, MD. off of Highway 50 and just keep driving and driving. (make sure you have lots of gas) Home to about 70 locals, apparently, this part of the shore is not one to miss. Make sure to bring your camera and, if you’re hungry, check in at Upper Store- they may just be serving up Muskrat and Chicken dinner…DSC_0736
  2. Deal Island, MD. To get there: drive south on US 13 towards Princess Anne, MD. and turn right onto Deal Island Road…just keep going. –¬†Made up of a little over 5 square miles, over 40% of which is made up of water, Deal Island offers stunning views of wildlife and waterways. Make sure to check out Deal Island beach- pack a bag to carry home some beach glass treasures and some rubber shoes to protect your feet. Keep driving to get to Wenona- you can get a craft draft beer for $3 at the local “hot spot” Arby’s.fullsizeoutput_1bd
  3. Onancock, VA. To get there: drive south from Salisbury on US 13. Turn right onto VA- 126. With an adorable downtown full of good restaurants, bed & breakfasts and galleries, you won’t have any trouble finding things to do. Go kayaking or take the Tangier Island Ferry to get to another really amazing do-not-miss stop on the peninsula. Or, drive up the road a bit to watch a sunset in Chincoteague- the drive over to it is worth it alone.¬†DSC_2550
  4. Rumbley, MD. To get there: Drive south on US 13 from Salisbury towards Princess Anne. Take MD- 413 towards Westover and turn right onto Fairmount Rd./Frenchtown Rd. Stop by The Hideaway Grill for a meal on the water. DSC_1642
  5. Cape Henlopen State Park. Cape Henlopen, DE. To get there: google map it on your iPhone. (just kidding, but really- there are a lot of fun back road ways to get here!) Okay, okay. Locals might get mad at me for calling this place a “hidden gem” but, let’s be honest, in the off season it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere enjoying God’s un-touched country. Take your bike and pack a lunch. It will be a good time. (I couldn’t find my personal photos of Cape Henlopen, so I’ve attached a painting I did of it last year as part of a 50 state watercolor series.)¬†delawareamazon

Have you ever been to the Delmarva? What special places have you discovered?

Want to see more photos and art celebrating this unique part of the US? Look here.<

All photographs © Rachel Alvarez Art

Nothing is ever a waste.

My Story.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how so much of what I had done BEFORE I started an art business had been preparing me for what I am doing now. So, here’s my story- from seasonal worker at a music store, to Starbucks manager, to university store employee–and just about everything in between…

When I was 27, I put my 2 weeks notice in at Barnes & Noble, and took a job in Baltimore at an educational center for kids. I packed my things, moved away from my hometown, and landed in totally unknown territory— all because I couldn’t take the retail management world anymore that had sucked me in after art school.

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the best little apartment in the world.

 

Just 4 months after relocating, my boss, three co-workers and I were sent to a region meeting in D.C. There, we met over 300 other young professionals with bright eyes for their futures. Little did we know that the men standing in the back of the room were there to hand us our severance packages, and that we had just 2 weeks of work left, right before the holidays, before we were going to have to start our job searches all over again.

So, here I was back in the game just as fast as I had gotten out of it.

I vowed that I would NEVER, EVER work retail again. The long hours, and hard, physical labor just weren’t what I was hoping to be doing when I graduated from college. I applied to over 100 jobs- avoiding anything that even smelled like “customer service”.

I remember it well- that one day, about 2 months into my job search (think economic depression of 2008…), ¬†when I had called my mom and broken down into tears. It had never taken me so long to find a job before, and the pressure of life was really starting to weigh me down. She reassured me that all of my previous experiences would be helpful to me now, and that my job was right around the corner.

Later that same day, I found myself at a Starbucks for an interview with two women who were starting an art school for kids and were considering me as an instructor. “Finally, something art related”, I thought.

Picture this:

We meet outside, all dressed in business attire, portfolios/resumes in hand, and go in to order our coffee-

“What can I get for you?”

me: “tall black coffee, please.”

woman #1: “I’ll have a medium half-caff, extra foam, sugar free caramel latte.”

woman #2: “Medium Pumpkin Spice latte, 4 shots, extra hot.”

We sit down at a round table, and awkwardly begin the interview process while we wait for our drinks.

Barista arrives and delivers all three at the same time. I pick up the small cup.

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The two women I was with sat there, confused as to which coffee was theirs. I picked one up, slid the sleeve down the side of the cup, and said: “this is a half-caff, extra foam, sugar free caramel latte.” They looked stunned. One woman reached for her drink. “How did you know which one was which?! That’s amazing!”…..”I used to be a manager at a Starbucks”—

Right there, in that very moment, I realized that all of the times that I had scrubbed the cafe floor on my hands and knees, daydreaming about a different career, those moments would lead me up to this day. It was, and still is, a clear moment of clarity: wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, you could be preparing yourself for your dream.

I had been tricked- I’d wasted way too much time thinking that the grass would be greener. It wasn’t until almost 10 years later that I went out on a limb and applied for my business license.

What does this have to do with being an artist, you ask?

Things are different now.

When I do the mundane boring tasks, such as taxes and inventory, I think: these things wouldn’t have been available to do if I had not had any customers this year.

When I package my boxes to ship, I use tools that I learned to use when I was packing books, cds and college merchandise in my previous retail jobs.

When I get a great product review from a customer, I think of the people who used to ask me ¬†(in a sarcastic voice) ¬†why I was in RETAIL instead of being an “real artist”. To which I would respond: it’s an art to help customers, and I really do enjoy doing it.
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When I write my thank- you notes for customer orders, I think of all of the times that I wasn’t able to help the customer find that one “book with a blue cover”, but went the extra mile trying. (bookstore people, you know what I am talking about).

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photo from Pinterest (oneillibrary) to prove that this happens.

When I set up for art shows now, I think about the overnight shifts I worked to get the tables merchandised and ready for the holiday rush.

I still drink coffee, lots of coffee.

I still LOVE helping customers, and get to do it from my own home.

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So, wherever you are right now- whatever you are doing- enjoy the moment.

You are still an artist, even if you’re not painting.

A (summer) day in the life of…

My Story.

During the summer, more than ever, our family gets in our minivan for last-minute impromptu road trips. It’s not unusual at all for us to get lost on back country roads and end up 2 states away without even planning on it– to be fair, two states isn’t all that far since we are on the eastern shore of Maryland and everything is within easy access. Still, it’s always fun to see what kind of new adventures we can get ourselves into.

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We’ve stumbled upon bald eagle nesting grounds. Collected antique pottery shards that have washed up onto beaches. Eaten ice cream on the bay at unknown hole-in-the-wall-perfection.

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I think one of my favorite things about living here is the fact that we can go in almost any direction and hit water. Something about the fact that all of it meets at some point, in a variety of ways, makes me smile. I may not know where I am going, but the water sure does. Water is a very common theme in my paintings- it’s particularly challenging to paint because of it’s ever-changing color and shape, and I love a good challenge.

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There are roads near our home that make you feel like you are literally about to drive off of the face of the planet. No other people- no other homes- no other cars: just the birds and the bugs. I love it.

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My good friend Tim once pointed out that the further you drive into the country, the less fingers a person uses to wave “hello”. I like those pointer-finger-only kinds of hellos. You know, the kind that only the locals give to each other.

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My camera is a close friend during those trips.

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I read a quote the other day that really hit me:

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” ¬† Dorthea Lange

When I was in college, I was initially a photography major. There were many times when I used my camera and a whole new world opened up to me. I noticed things in detail that I never would’ve even paid any attention to without that shutter click. Colors were more vibrant. Pattern more visible. Texture more tangible.

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My encouragement for you is to grab your camera. Don’t go somewhere to take pictures. Go somewhere to discover beauty. Enjoy the unexpected. Get lost, and in the process, find out a little bit more about yourself.

Want to see more of what inspires me as an artist? See more photos, read stories and see works in progress on my Instagram: www.instagram.com/rachelalvarezart¬†. Tag me with YOUR new adventure. I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

 

I’m leaving’ on a jet plane…

My Story.

This past month has been so fun in my little world of watercolor.

I am now 80% done with a project that I have faithfully worked on, daily, for the past 4 months. Over 150 hours of painting and endless hours of sketching, planning, scanning, editing- repeating.

I still have a ways to go but, in the process, I have visited some of the most amazing places in my wanderlust imagination:

South Dakota

Massachusetts

Indiana-coming soon

Missouri

Kentucky -coming soon

Nebraska

Oklahoma

Illinois

Lousiana

Ohio

New Hampshire-coming soon

 

This project has afforded me the opportunity to be increasingly astonished with the amount of natural beauty that I have within road-trip-travel-time of my home. My mind is swirling with daydreams of a summer cross country trips to all of these amazing places. I’m using this project as a virtual bucket list for my vacation plans. So, in reality, I am not painting- I am handwriting a HUGE map of places I’ll go – but with a paintbrush instead of a pen.

Someday world, someday.

Interested in seeing the rest of this series or some of my other work?

Please check out my website www.rachelalvarezart.com

Handmade with Love

My Story.

Last night I had the privilege of being interviewed by a lovely woman and artist, Linda Nance. She is the owner of Gotta Be Handmade. Here is a fun youtube video of the interview, where you’ll learn more about my process and inspiration. Hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

You can see or purchase prints or notecards of the paintings that I share on this video here:

www.rachelalvarezart.com or www.etsy.com/shop/TheNapTimeArtist

Eat Well, Travel Often

My Story.

When I was in art school, I remember writing my “artist statement”. I can remember being reprimanded by my painting instructor who said that my chosen statement of “I like to paint pretty things” wasn’t creative enough. So, 15 years later, here is my new statement. Pretty much sums me and my art up in a single phrase.

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I am fascinated by color- whether it’s in an awesome cotton candy sunrise, a donut with sprinkles or a lush landscape. My portfolio is as diverse as my interests, but one thing is common: fresh and full of color.¬†DSC_0350donutcopyOregon

So, as boring as “i like to paint pretty things” is, I am still doing it years later- with a side of donuts. www.rachelalvarezart.com

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.

My Story.

My life has been a series of major transitions. I was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland but have moved and migrated over 2,000 miles over the years- only to end up right back where I started.

I’ve had some really great life experiences.

~ In college, I moved to upstate NY for a summer to teach photography and didn’t know a soul. Everyone else I worked with had traveled much further than me. They’d come from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa…I met some really great people there and, at the end of the summer, we were all invited to live for a week in Greenwich Village, NYC. September 11, 2001 happened the day after we left.

~ I’ve been to concerts with best friends and had drinks at the bar with the band.

~ I’ve hiked in Georgia O’Keefe’s backyard.

~ Once, I was offered a job in Baltimore, and packed up all of my things and relocated within 2 weeks.

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~ Later, I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon at 5am, eating cold spaghetti and hearing my voice echo across the miles with some of my closest friends.

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~ I’ve been to Boston, sat in what prides itself as the “Littlest Bar” all by myself, and ordered a bowl of clam chowder.

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~  I packed all of my essential belongings into 2 suitcases, moved to Florida and found paradise and the love of my life.

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~ For my birthday one year, I enjoyed beignets in New Orleans.

~ My wedding was on the beach in the middle of a tropical storm.

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~ When I was pregnant with our son, I hiked a mountain in Colorado, and enjoyed the view.

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~ I traveled to Dominican Republic, and got my teeth cleaned while I was there.

There are still quite a few things on my bucket list, but I am happy with life so far. It has been exciting and fun and challenging.

In the last three years, things have definitely slowed down on the travel front, my social life has plummeted and I don’t seem to have as much energy as I used to. I can’t just pack my bags and fly anywhere I want to anymore.

I am, however, still VERY spontaneous. I need to be. My dreams are still coming true. My heart is full, and my kids are darn cute. There is always something to be thankful for, but tonight I am especially thankful for my little family and all of those awesome adventures that led me to my NOW.

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Thank you, God, for blessing me.