New Year

2018 Year in Review

Happy New Year! 2018 was a pretty okay year (again, if you didn’t read or watch the news…) I stretched and grew as an artist, I made A LOT of art, we suffered a terrible loss and then a few months later, discovered joy again. Here are some of the highlights (and a low) of 2018.

2018 Top 9 instagram posts.jpg

January. I started off the year painting (which is always good!) two new cactus paintings. Clearly, I was still feeling the cactus and succulent love! We found out at the end of January that I was pregnant (WHA?!?!) I had lots of emotions, and it was a pretty wild ride.

February. February was tough. We went in for our 8 week ultrasound to finally hear our Little’s heartbeat and the doctor couldn’t find one. Maybe our dates were off and baby was measuring only 6 weeks old. I went back the next week only to hear that we experienced a missed miscarriage. Our little had stopped growing and was not viable. G and I were devastated.

March. Despite the funk and sadness of our loss, I started painting again and I threw myself into preparing for my first Gallery show/Art market at the Swell Gallery in West Dundee. This was my first Art Gallery! I also on a whim applied (and got in!) to the Spring Art Market and Gallery at Gallery 1070 in Chicago.

April. I decided to participate in #The100DayProject again. This time, my goal was to paint 100 tiny 3”x3” mini paintings. My Gallery show opened at Swell Gallery and we went to the opening artist reception. It was so awesome to see my paintings and photos hanging on the wall and on display throughout the gallery. And it was amazing that so many family and friends came out, despite the rain, to support me. In addition to all of this, I was painting and prepping for the upcoming opening of my gallery market and show at Gallery 1070. It was a crazy few weeks!

May. May was all about my 100 day project and planning and working on my patio garden! The weather was exceptionally nice, so mom and I had a chance to pick up a lot of our annuals and start planting. I think this was our prettiest patio garden yet!

June. We turned a non functioning water fountain into a super fun planter and finished setting up the patio garden only to be told that we had to take everything down in order for the patio to be refinished and stained.

July. We were finally allowed to put our patio garden back together in time for the 4th of July holiday. I also successfully complete my second #The100DayProject! Just before finishing that project, I started a new, quite large painting of one of my favorite photos that I had been dreaming about for a while. We also went on a long weekend vacation to Seattle and despite the out of character 90+ degree days, had a fantastic time! When we got home from Seattle, we discovered I was pregnant again! (WHAT?!!!)

August. I spent a lot of time resting during the month of August. While I didn’t suffer from morning sickness, I felt extraordinarily tired all the time. We kept things pretty quiet until our 8-week ultrasound. I was so worried that I would have another missed miscarriage. We did hear a heartbeat at 8 weeks, and I finally let go of (some of) the anxiety and worry and started to get excited.

September. The beginning half of September was spent preparing for an art/craft show in McHenry. We revamped my table design, whittled down my selection to mostly little paintings from my 100 day project and my best matted prints. Unfortunately, this show wasn’t very successful for us, but mom and I still had a great time.

October. I worked on creating my 2019 digital calendars and finishing up the cutest gnome photo calendar (in addition to a few other designs.) I also started one of my most favorite paintings I’ve created to date— my large peony painting

November. We had our second art show of the season and it was way better! We also made our pregnancy announcement “facebook” official over Thanksgiving and told all of our family and friends we were expecting.

December. We had our last art show during the first weekend of December. It was really successful and fun. I really do enjoy participating and exhibiting in these shows. I also found enough energy to start a new, very ambitious painting that I hope I can complete before our Little arrive in early April!

Whew! What a year!

Thank you so much for all of your love and support. Thank you for the comments, the emails, the encouragement. I could not have done this without you. I'm looking forward to spending 2019 with you!

Happy New Year!

Related posts:

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2018

It’s that time of year again! Time to get all nostalgic and reflective and look back at what happened over the past year. This year was really good (again, as long as you didn’t read or watch the news.) In fact, it was really REALLY good. More on why later. In the meantime, here are my 10 most popular posts on the blog this year:

Spring Lilacs by april bern photography

  1. 10 more DIY Flower Pot Painting Ideas

  2. 10 More Super Cute Ways to DIY Your Flower Pots

  3. 10 Super Cute Ways to DIY Succulent Planters

  4. My Distressed Painted Flower Pot DIY

  5. 10 DIY Flower Pot Painting Ideas

  6. DIY - Turn a Water Fountain into a Planter

  7. Mermaid Theme Smash Cake Session - Baby Ellie

  8. 40 Spectacular Botanic Gardens, Arboretums, and Conservatories in and around Chicagoland for Photography

  9. WIP - New Pilea Plant and Succulent Paintings

  10. Patio Garden Tour - Part One

Seems to me that you like my DIY and garden posts! Perhaps I should rebrand as a garden blog! Just kidding. I love the DIYs and gardening stuffs too. Creating my patio garden oasis is always one of the highlights of my year. I’m glad that you seem to enjoy it as well.

Thank you so much for stopping by and the the emails and comments. I totally appreciate every one of you. And I look forward to spending 2019 with you.

Thank you!

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2017 Year in Review

Happy (almost) New Year! Like I mentioned in my last post, 2017 wasn't that bad if you didn't watch the news or read twitter. For me personally, it was really quite nice. Nothing catastrophic happened and everyone here is still healthy and happy. There were a lot of really nice highlights and surprises.

Best Nine of 2017

January. The month and thus the year started out rather bleak. We just got over the first holiday season without my grandma, and it was pretty rough for mom and I. That coupled with inauguration left me feeling very helpless and hopeless. And though there were some dark days, I resolved to make more art. I continued to paintshare my photos, and have smallish adventures with mom at the  Mitchell Conservatory in Milwaukee. And that truly is how I felt I spent my year, creating and sharing my art.

February. I went on a strict news diet for a few weeks and I began painting in earnest. I tried my hand at painting something a little different for me-- abstracts.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.  I also decided to combine my two greatest loves-- coffee cups and succulents-- into a series of paintings. There were many many smallish adventures too! I went to the Nicholas Conservatory for the first time to see their orchid show. It was so good, I brought my mom back the next weekend. And of course I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden's orchid show. Twice.

March. More adventures! I went back to the Orchid show for a third time. What can I say? I love orchids and was just so happy to take photos of green and growing things. I continued with creative adventures too.  I picked up a small set of gouache paints and tried them out. I really love how the gouache looks, but I definitely need more practice. I also discovered that am madly in love creating videos with the small clips I had been filming at the garden.

April. Mom adopted a puppy! Her name is Molly and she's a two year old rescue pup. She's a Boston Terrier and Chihuahua mix and she's is totally moms dog. That was definitely the highlight of the month. The rest of the month I felt like I was huddled in my studio painting. I thought it would be a good idea to join the #100dayproject and create an abstract painting every day for 100 days. I wanted to quit after two weeks, but I persevered and kept painting. I start stalking the Botanic garden, looking for smallish signs of spring.

May. Still painted. Every night I came home from work, ate dinner, and went upstairs to the studio to paint. It was totally a routine. We had an adventure in Austin, TX for the weekend and I made extra paintings so I didn't miss a day of posting. Speaking of adventures, a good friend tipped me off to the most amazing spot with lilacs and I just about died from their intoxicating scent and with how amazing they were. Talk about capturing them at their best! And, I finally started my patio garden. Mom and I had an absolute blast shopping for plants, planting, and replanting. The patio garden looked so good. 

JuneStill painted. Mom and I created our very own gnome garden and we spend every day after work (before dinner and painting) outside among the plants and gnomes.

July. I finally completed the #100dayproject! I am happy to say that I did not miss one single day posting. I made 100 small abstract paints and felt super accomplished. I learned a lot from that experience. I thought I would take a break from painting, but i jumped right back in and created two of my most favorite succulent paintings ever.

August. Still painted (real paintings, no longer for the #100dayproject) I think I created a new habit. I found a new paint color and fell head over heels in love with it and began to use it in EVERYTHING I painted. I still went to the garden at least once a week.

September. Big month, full of all sorts of adventures! We celebrated G's birthday, our anniversary, and my birthday all this month. We had our big celebratory adventure in Sedona, AZ this year. Sedona was great except that I was sick for the entire trip. There were also garden and pumpkin adventures when we returned home. Oh, the craziest thing I did was, at G's urging, sign up to sell at a craft show in December!

October. I photographed a first birthday smash cake session at my house so the first week was filled planning, prop shopping and setting up for this super fun photo session.  Two weeks later, I photographed an engagement session at the Garden for one of my best friends. In between, there were adventures with my mom at the Anderson Japanese Garden(link?) in Rockford to witness the changing leaves. I found out I was accepted to TWO crafts shows. Oh yeah, I had applied to one more since September. ;)

November. November was spent fretting... um... I mean, preparing for the craft shows. I had little ready before hand, this being my first time. I spent so much time prepping, making lists, shopping and making more lists. It was a lot of work, and I don't think I saw my husband at all. But the gals who work at the Michael’s by the house know me by name now. 

December. I did two craft shows!!! The first show was in early December and it was good. I learned a lot and then spent the two weeks before the second show painting and preparing and putting those lessons I learned to work. The second show was even better! I was so busy with these craft shows that I didn't have a chance put up my Christmas tree. Christmas came, I spent the holidays with family, and here we are. 2018 is just around the corner! 

Whew! What a year!!


Thank you so much for all of your love and support. Thank you for the comments, the emails, the encouragement. I coudn't have done this without you. I'm looking forward to spending 2018 with you!

Happy New Year!




Related posts:

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2017

Here we are, at the end of another year. Boy, they sure do seem to fly by. This year was pretty good, if you didn't watch the news or check twitter. My patio garden was amazing, I had my best year on etsy yet (thank you!) and even sold my paintings and photos at two craft shows. I'll post a proper year in review soon. In the meantime, these were my most popular posts on my blog this year:

2017 Top 10 Posts.jpg

2015 A Year in Review

2015 turned out to be a pretty good year. A busy year, but a good year. I spent a TON of time at the botanic garden, but I had photographic adventures at the Garfield Park Conservatory, Cantigny Park, Anderson Garden, Austin, and Maui as well. I didn't paint as much as I had planned, but that's okay-- I'll make up for it this year! (watercolors!) I walked a lot. I gathered up my nerve and opened my own art shop, started a side project blog, and had my best year on etsy yet (yay! go me!!!)

Here are the rest of the highlights (and some not so highlight) of 2015:

2015 Year in Review


January- January was pretty quiet. I got my fitbit and was working hard to make my 10K step goal. G had to go to Dallas for training, so I spent a lot of time at the gym. I also dreamed up and created my Smallish Adventure blog (I might actually work on this blog in 2016) I also decided to take this blog in a new direction. The highlight of the month was going to the field museum to catch the Vodou Exhibit (it was sooo cool and creepy!)

February- February was pretty darned cold. I was still trying to meet my 10K step goal. Mom had her first cataract surgery and I took her to see the Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

March- Still trying to walk 10K steps a day but I started getting super stressed out about it-- so stressed out, I starting thinking about writing this post about how Fitbit was wrecking my life! Mom had her second cataract surgery and ended up in the ER. Her blood sugar was low, so I went to get her some coffee and a snack and by the time I returned to the hospital lobby, she passed out and the paramedics were wheeling her away to the ER!  (people, low blood sugar isn't a joke!)

April- G and I took a mini vacation to Austin, TX. I LOVED it there! I posted a great review about my experience there. I would move there in a heartbeat. I also worked though a bit of self doubt and started my shopify art shop! I also started to see the first signs of spring in my garden.

May- May was super busy! I went to the Botanic Garden so much during this month! I stalked the garden looking for spring flowers and tulips. I think I went at least 6 times. I also had the dream opportunity to photograph the most perfect engagement session at the Garden. It was the absolute best! Let me just put this out there-- If you want an engagement photo session at the Garden, please call me! I also photographed that lovely couple's wedding. It was a pretty amazing experience, and despite the rain, I think it's one of the best weddings I've photographed! I also finally started my patio garden. Whew!

June- June was pretty quiet. I spent a lot of time outside enjoying my patio garden. I went to the botanic garden and stalked the peonies. For some reason, I was peony crazy this year! And you know what, when they finally showed up, they did not disappoint! I also started experimenting with acrylic paint this month. I created a few paintings that I did not hate...

July- Another pretty quiet month. The only big drama I had was my iMac screen dying. I totally thought my hard drive with all my gazillions of photos was toast so I freaked out. Thankfully, it was just the screen that died and Apple fixed it within a few days. I bought a 3 terabyte hard drive and started backing up all my photos. The highlight was taking my mom to the Garfield Park Conservatory. She totally loved that place!

August- I went to the Garden several times and quietly plotted ways to take over the world. G's mom took me to see Santana at Ravinia. Can you believe it was my first time going to a concert there? Its now one of my favorite concert venues!  August was also spent creating new 2016 Calendar templates for my Art Shop and Etsy shop

September- Here's when things started to get C R A Z Y! We made the decision to give my great uncle's financial info/bills over to his nephew, who is also his power of attorney. He then decided it would be best to sell my uncles house in order to keep paying for his nursing home care (i don't blame him!) My mom was given less than a month to pack up and move 45+ years of her and grandma's life. I spent every night/weekend there helping her pack. On top of all that, G and I had planned a vacation to Maui to celebrate our anniversary. Talk about bad timing! My poor mom had to spend a week packing by herself! (packing up 45+ of your life is not an easy task...) So, packing sucked and Hawaii was awesome. And somewhere among the stress of packing and getting the basement ready for my mom, I bought my first coloring book.

October- Mom moved in! To say it was an adjustment for her is a bit of an understatement. She spent the first two weeks in the basement crying in the dark. (I'm happy to report that it's been 3 months now and she's a lot happier! No more crying!) The highlight of October was taking her to the Anderson Japanese Garden to catch the autumn colors.

November- I had jury duty this month which was great because it forced me to sit around and write to avoid being bored out of my mind while waiting to be called (I was never called.) I spent several hours thinking about/planning blog posts, shop updates and bullet journaling. November also was the worst month because my grandma was rushed to the hospital due to severe dehydration. She spent a week in the hospital and honestly, things didn't look so good for her.  Grandma returned to her nursing home after her week-long hospital stay, but she wasn't any better. Her doctor told us that we should start thinking about hospice care...

December- We decided to have hospice care come out and take care of Grandma. We spent several gut-wrenching days talking to the nursing home and hospice staff. I'm happy to say that as of writing this, grandma seems to be doing a bit better with the extra care. She's alert, she's sitting in her new, super comfy wheelchair, and she's communicating. No more laying in her bed looking awful. The Christmas holiday was wonderful-- we spent Christmas eve with grandma, and Christmas day with G's family. And here we are at the very tail end of December.  I can't believe how quickly this year (especially the last few months!) have flown by!


I hope 2015 was a good year for you. What were your highlights? What are you looking forward to in 2016? Let me know in the comments section below-- I'd love to hear from you!


I hope you have a safe and happy New Year! See ya in 2016!


Related posts:

Most Popular Posts of 2015

I can't believe 2015 is almost over! I know it's cliche' to say, but it did go by really fast. 2015 turned out to be a pretty good year in terms of life and blogging. I have a ton of plans (creative and blog related) for next year! I can't wait to share them with you!

top 10 posts of 2015

In the meantime, here are the top 10 posts that you guys loved in 2015:

1. 10 super easy DIY photo gifts you can totally make

2. Easy to Customize 2016 Desk Calendar Templates

3. 10 DIY Flower Pot Painting Ideas

4. My Distressed Painting Flower Pot DIY

5. My Favorite Friday Finds- Succulents

6. Permission to Play

7. How to use my 2016 Calendar Templates

8. Fitbit is Wrecking my Life

9. 5 Simple Tips to Create a Gorgeous Container Garden

10. Taking Stock 04


Did you have a favorite post? I'd love to know what you liked (or maybe didn't like!)  Let me know in the comment section below!


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Favorite Instagrammers of 2015

I fell in love with Instagram this year. I’ve been using it sporadically for a few years, but it wasn’t until recently that I started posting more regularly--I’ve been posting a pic Monday through Friday.  It's slowly becoming my new flickr (gosh, I loved flickr back in the day...)

There are so many people on instagram that I love so much that I can't wait to see their updates and photos. Here are just a few of them:

eldavephoto- beautiful sunrise pics and AMAZING toy pics!

random olive- love her letting style and video clips demonstrating her lettering techniques.

dallasclayton- fun and inspirational images.

dearhandmadelife- lots of crafty eye candy!

Meandering_Mari- lots of watercolor and creative eye candy

sarahrbloom- LOVE the 2015 365 series she made. Can't wait to see her 2016 365 series.

abeautifulness- bright, beautiful, and drool worthy eye candy

smalldogs- susan is an amazing pet and people photographer. love her images and her story.

merriweatherc- she's the queen of helping people get more sales on etsy.

tinyrayofsunshine- bullet journal eye candy

blueheronantiques- beautiful nature photos (and antiques) from the North East

efflorescency_- fellow botanical adventurer from Illinois!

designseeds- color scheme eye candy

eddie_the_lilac_lion- i love keeping up with the adventures of eddie the deaf, toothless, cross-eyed half-blind lilac Siamese rescue cat.

littleyellowbirdy118- Love Sharna's gorgeous copic colored creations!


Who are your favorite Instagrammers of 2015? I'm always looking to follow more interesting and awesome folks. Let me know in the comment section below!


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Favorite Podcasts of 2015

I don't know how I ever survived without podcasts. They have helped me stay sane during my soul sucking commute to and from work, kept me entertained while walking and trying to reach 10K steps, taught me new photography/art/crafty techniques, introduced me to new people and products, and kept me motivated to create and put myself out there when I was ready to throw in the towel and quit.

Favorite Podcasts of 2015.

I want to share some of my most favorite/inspirational/entertaining podcasts. Hopefully, you have a chance to check them out and they can help motivate/inspire/entertain you! Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Serial

2. Sean Wes podcast

3. That's What She Said

4. The Good Life Project

5. She Percolates

6. Raise Your Hand and Say Yes

7. Elise Gets Crafty

8. Invisibilia

9. Fro Knows Photo

10. The Accidental Creative

11. This American Life

12. TED Radio Hour


Do you have any podcasts I need to listen to in 2016? What are your favorites? Drop me a line and left me know in the comments section below-- I'd love to know what you listen to and hear what you recommend!



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