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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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Spring Lilacs

Guess what! It's now officially my favorite time of year - Lilac season! Lilacs are one of my most favorite flowers. I cannot get enough of them!

These lilacs were not at the Chicago Botanic Garden (shocking, I know!) They were in an office building parking lot. I know, right? Serendipitously, a friend notified me of their existence, remembering that I had a bit of an affinity for these fragrant lovelies. I was hesitant to go at first, worried that there was security, or someone might call the police about a strange girl with a camera going crazy over this random lilac bush in their parking lot. But my friend assured me I could fawn over them all I wanted. And boy, did I fawn (so many photos!)  They were just sitting there, being all beautiful in a drab and dreary suburban parking lot. I wish you could smell them through the photos-- heavenly!

Heart shaped lilacs by april bern photography
spring lilacs by april bern photography
gorgeous spring lilacs by april bern photography
lovely spring lilacs by april bern photography
spring lilacs 03 by april bern photography

I hope you have a lovely weekend and get a chance to find some random lilacs and enjoy their heavenly scent!

-a

 

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#The100DayProject - Week 4

Hello! I'm still happily painting (nearly) every day. I think I discovered a new style I love that makes my little heart sing when I work on it. It's this... "cloudy" style:

PinkSwirls - the100dayproject by april bern

I love the color and the softness, but I love the blending most of all. I was so inspired by this painting that I couldn't stop thinking about trying this style on something bigger.  So this weekend I tried it out on a 10x10 canvas. AND I LOVED IT. So much so, I did another...

I seriously cannot get enough of the turquoise color...

I seriously cannot get enough of the turquoise color...

I was so happy/in the zone/state of flow while working on these paintings that the sheer joy of putting gorgeous colors down and blending them with my hand/fingers... that feeling was just the best! I thought to myself that this was how I want to paint abstract. And everything was good and right in the universe.

Then I painted Monday night using this technique again. But nothing was working! Too much paint. Over blending. The colors looked awful. And then I began to doubt myself, thinking now I'm a one trick pony when it comes to abstract painting. And maybe I should try something else. And oh my goodness, what will people think if this is all I make now. But then a dear, wise friend said something that made me drop my brush (figurative, I've been painting with my fingers, remember?) He wrote: "Save your judgement. Just make stuff."

whoa.

Deep, right?

I was fretting and stressing over what I thought, and what I thought people will think (isn't that the worst?) that I was discouraging myself getting way stressed out. But my friend's simple words really are true. Just make stuff. What other people think of you or what you make is not your business. Likes on Instagram or facebook don't matter. All that matters is that I make stuffs, and I'm happy with the stuffs I make.

Keep making your stuff and don't stop!

-a

 

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Make more Art

Immediate reaction from my friends/acquaintances and creative communities I follow online after the election was twofold- The first reaction was "WTF! I can't believe this! How could this happen?!" and right after that was "Make more Art." I saw that everywhere. Creatives reaching out to others, creative or not, comforting them and telling them to get back on the saddle and do what they do best, only now, do more of it.

My own reaction was, of course, shock followed by despair. I heard the battle cry to make more art, but I couldn't help but think "why? what's the point?" My art won't help people who may lose their health insurance. My art won't help stop women from being assaulted by privileged men who think it's their right, who thinks it's cool. My art won't help immigrants who are worried about their futures in this country. I just paint and take pretty pictures. That's not helping anyone. Why make more?

Let me tell you why it's so important to make more art.

Because the act of creating helps me. The time and energy I spend photographing or painting is not spent worrying about health insurance, or about the state of our schools, or the myriad of other things a concerned citizen should worry about. Because I love seeing and making beautiful things. When I'm not so stressed or worried, I'm a much better friend, wife, and daughter.  And because these pretty things-- the photos of flowers I create and the paintings I make-- may help someone else. I don't know, and I have no way of knowing. Maybe I will inspire someone to pick up a camera and start taking pictures of flowers, and they are later moved to photograph the injustices in the world and bring them to light. Maybe they will be moved to pick up a brush, or a pen. Who knows? I don't want to presume that my art will inspire someone, but I also don't want to not create and put out it out there because what if it could?

Art helps other people get through tough times too. How many times have you had a rough day and that favorite home made recipe brought comfort? How many times have you looked at a photo of your favorite place/person/whatever and felt relaxed and grounded. Or a piece of music gets you motivated. Or a book or article helps you gain further understanding of a topic. You never know if your paintings, photos, music, writing, or recipe will help make someones day just a little brighter and better than before. Why not put it out there?

Now, more than ever, we need your art. We need to get it made and out in the world by any means necessary. We have to be creative with our medium, with our time, with our space… WE NEED TO MAKE ART. We cannot stop because politicians/lawmakers/government think it’s not important enough to keep funding programs.  We need to help support each other with our words, our actions, and our dollars. 

So create. Draw, paint, photograph, cook, sew, act, make pretty spreadsheets. Whatever it is that brings life and joy to your soul, do it.

MAKE MORE ART.

And then share it with the rest of us.

 

 

Happy September + Free Desktop Wallpaper

I look forward to September. It really is the most wonderful time of year (for me!) It's the beginning of pumpkin everything season, the weather will be cooler, the trees will be prettier, and wearing sweaters will finally not be frowned upon.

Fall Leaf - april bern photography

This September going to be exciting! Next week I start an online painting class. It’s from an artist I admire in a medium I have no idea how to work with (acrylic). I’m sooo looking forward to finally learning how to paint with acrylics. I’ve tried on my own, and I’m completely clueless and I hate what I’m doing. I’m a “I need extreme hand holding when learning a new thing” kind of person, and this workshop looks like it’s exactly what I need.

Another reason why September the best month: We’re going on a little mini vacation. I finally decided where— Santa Fe. Why Santa Fe? Well, it’s cheaper than Hawaii and prettier than anywhere in the Midwest. I wanted to go someplace meaningful and Taos and Abiquiú meet that requirement (hint, they were where my most favorite artist spent a lot of time and called home) I also wanted a vacation where I didn’t feel like I would need to “run, run, run and see all I can see in 4 days” like I usually spend my vacations.  I plan on sightseeing and photographing some beautiful landscapes, but I’d like to also stroll around the town, take in some art galleries, maybe visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and relax. I might even get crazy and pamper myself. It could happen.


Have you subscribed to my newsletter yet? I hope so because in honor of my most favorite month, I created a gorgeous screensaver and iphone/ipad wallpaper for you. Simply subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get this gorgeous screensaver (and a few other goodies too!) You'll be the first to hear about any sales, shop updates, as well as free monthly screensavers and a ton more!

Yay September!  Bring on the pumpkins and comfortable sweater weather!

What are you looking forward to this month? Let me know in the comments section below! I’d love to share in your excitement!

 

Taking Stock - Jan 02, 2016

Happy New Year! I sincerely hope that you have the best year ever and that you get to do all the wonderful and scary things you have planned. I haven't finalized my resolutions, er.... goals, yet. I have the usual ones like lose weight, and get in shape, but I've had those since I was in high school. It would be weird not having those resolutions, right? They are like tradition! :) 

Happy New Year Green Bokeh

Making: a mess!
Cooking: not much of anything. Still finishing off Christmas leftovers!
Drinking: Cinnamon Plum Tea. (This stuff is the best tea!)
Reading: The Unhealthy Truth
Wanting: this palette for my watercolors.
Looking: forward to a little trip to Nashville we are planning in the Spring.
Playing: with watercolor paint!
Deciding: what I want to be when I grow up.
Wishing: I didn't live where it snowed.
Enjoying: another 4 day weekend.
Waiting: for spring! (still.)
Liking: the brush letting workshop I purchased.
Wondering: if I should commit to a 365 this year.
Loving: the art case complete with a set of old watercolors, palette, oil paints and brushes that belonged to G's grandma and great grandma that was given to me! (it's pretty amazing!)
Pondering: some new photography goals and resolutions.
Considering: which new prints and canvas gallery wrapped images to add to the art shop.
Buying: Still buying nothing (only gas and groceries!)
Watching: you tube videos about painting.
Cringing: over how much weight I've gained.
Needing: to work out. (see above)
Smelling: Cinnamon Plum Tea! It smells sooooooooo good!
Wearing: My sisters super old snoopy t-shirt.
Following: SUSANNAH_BEE_ART (love love love her paintings!) and paigepoppe
Noticing: It's starting to stay lighter just a little later! yay!
Knowing: I need to practice a lot more. I know it, but I still get frustrated.
Thinking: I need to just throw all the cookies, chocolates, and sweets away. or else I will eat them.
Sorting: my closet. Time to donate some stuffs.
Getting: my relax on.
Bookmarking: The Crossroads of Shoulds and Musts (take a few minutes and read it...)
Disliking: that I have to go back to work Monday, and that it's a full week! boo!
Feeling: pretty relaxed and happy.
Snacking: on all the cookies.
Helping: mom work on new Valentine's Day cards and embellishments for her shop!
Hearing: the stillness of my house in the morning.

 

I hope you had a great start to the new year! Do you have any exciting plans or resolutions for 2016? I'd love to hear about it (and maybe you can inspire me to finish up my own!) Let me know in the comment section below!

 

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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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