I just adore Christmas – to me, it truly IS The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year! All of the beautiful colors, the glitter, the inherent joy in every little object. That’s why I’m doing a weekly Holiday Round-Up of Pretty Things I see at the various stores I frequent.

Here at University Bookstore, the theme seems to be whimsical, glittery pastels! Which is pretty much my theme for the entire year anyway so I’m blissfully taken by all of it!

Here are my the top four things on my wishlist:

1. SPARKLY, GLITTER STOCKING!!!! Ummm, where have you been all my life?!

2. WHIMSICAL ANIMAL ORNAMENT

I got a similar one a couple of years ago that featured a glittery pink Eiffel Tower and I absolutely treasure it! I like Christmas stuff that I can use all year round and that ornament has a permanent place on my bookshelf. These two little guys are going to join it!! Firstly, I can’t resist foxes and much less, a fox with a golden tail, and secondly – how sweet is this little alpaca! And check out the festive tassels!!

3. CHAMPAGNE FIR TREE

I love the color (a soft champagne gold) and the subtle sparkle (of course I do!!) of this very lovely little tree. And probably one of the best shapes for a Christmas tree I’ve seen around – that wide base adds a lot of dimensional charm.

4. PRECIOUS LITTLE PASTEL VILLAGES

These folksy little houses are sweet and lovely and just oh so Christmas-y. I swear I hear carols every time I look at them! And that delicate shade of rosy pink!!

 

This nail design is as simple as it is fun!! The perfect antidote to gloomy, grey weather since it evokes the bright colors and energy of a tropical party and the beautiful confetti that sparkles and sprinkles out of piñatas.

Even more importantly, it is very easy to recreate by yourself- without anyone helping you paint the nails on your dominant hand- and all you need are two colors and, of course, a topcoat.

For your base color, pick a vibrant, fun, bright – I chose a hot pink from Republic Nail’s Frida Kahlo collection. For your accent color, any confetti-style polish in a clear foundation will be perfect. I wanted a multi-color, metallic confetti in Latin-inspired jewel tones so I picked Craze by LA Colors.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Lay down two coats of your first, base color. Let dry between coats.

2. Once this is dry, add the confetti polish to the tips of your nails. If you’re having difficulty getting enough of the confetti on, pour the polish into a shallow, disposable dish and use a toothpick to grab and apply the little dots.

3. Let dry and then add a coat or two of Top Coat

Enjoy your fun and happy new nails!!

 

 

I’ve been growing my nails out for the past couple of months and have been having a lot of fun playing with nail art. Since I have to paint both hands myself, I need to keep the designs simple so here’s my latest – one of my favorite patterns of all time – leopard!!

There are only 3 steps and you only need 3 nail polish colors.

TOOLS AND SUPPLIES:

1. A light colored base coat – I used Wisp, by Sinful Colors

2. A darker color for the inside of the spots – I used Tan Lines, again from Sinful Colors

3. A clear topcoat

4. A black, round tip nail art pen.

5. A wooden toothpick

 

STEPS:

1. Lay down your base color. Let fully dry.

2. Using the toothpick to pick up little dabs of the second color, make little flat circles on your base color . Let these dry fully as well.

3. Make the characteristic black border around the spots with your black paint pen. Once this is dry, seal with the clear topcoat.

Oh wait! There IS one more step: impress everyone with your gorgeous manicure!! ?

I hope you try it for yourself! If you do, share your pics with me on Instagram using the hashtag, #gracerajendranworkshops

Remember, most of all, to have fun!

 

My morning started off in a rather – no, VERY – irritating fashion. Not feeling well, I wanted to stay in bed until the last possible moment. My cat wanted to create a ruckus until I got up to play. She won – as my apartment walls are thin and I didn’t want to punish my neighbors as well.

This, I could have dealt with. My bathroom overflowing in a horrible manner and forming one of the Great Lakes – I just could NOT deal with. This badly-behaving bathroom only tends to do this when I’m on my way to work too! Many, many towels and a few choice words later, while I was in the middle of a WHY ME???? tirade, I stopped to reflect.

What am I gaining from this foul temper? The answer – just a bad mood all day – wasn’t pleasing or acceptable to me. It wasn’t helping now and it certainly won’t help later because I’ve set myself up with the mindset that every little thing today will just bother me more and more.  That’s the way irritating Little Things are. I read once that tiny constant annoyances are worse for our stress levels than dealing with one big thing. Maybe because the tension from those small things keeps building up since we think they’re actually too silly to deal with properly.

Back to this morning. It’s been a very busy, harried few months, both at work and at home, so I know that I’m more irritable now than I normally would be. Rushing around tends to do that to people. So, my mood was understandable but it still wasn’t doing me any good.

While I was squeezing the water out of the fourth towel, I thought back to a conversation I had last night about the horrible and heartbreaking homelessness  problem in this city. That jolted me into perspective really quickly.

And I repeat – this advice is for all the little things that bug you in your day, not for major illness or loss. For those, a grieving process is necessary and essential. In my minor case, I just STOPPED that flow of negative thinking, took a breath, and reversed that negative trajectory I was on.

Instead of listing all of the bad things, I thought about all of the things I was grateful for. A simple switch of words.

Horrible plumbing? Well at least I HAVE a bathroom.

Can’t sleep in? At least I HAVE a cat that can’t get enough of me.

Stressing over missing my bus to work? Well, at least I HAVE a job.

Sounds too easy – and somewhat too much of a cliche – to work. But you know what, it really did! And my dark mood lifted, I feel more optimistic about the day, and here I am, writing this post!

With the Holidays upon us, we are all going to start feeling extremely frazzled and rushed. Our fuses, quite naturally, are going to be short. When you start feeling like things are rapidly  going downhill:

1. Pause

2. Breathe

3. Reverse

I taught my second watercolor workshop last Saturday and, since this is the season of fiery autumn leaves, that was the subject that I chose!

If you checked out my last post, EVERY LEAF A FLOWER, you would have seen the hyper-realistic leaves that I’ve been painting lately. Well, since I’m teaching children in the first session and predominantly art novices in the second, I thought it might be a little overwhelming if I presented those pieces for the class project!

So, I came up with a simpler example (the painting above) and put together a lesson plan and materials. As always, I gave the students a brief overview of watercolors, went over fundamental techniques, and guided them every step of the way. I was actually amazed at how well they did! Here are some photos of the set up, as well as their phenomenal work!

 

My two favorite times of the year are Spring and Fall – the temperature is perfect, Nature is entering a period of growth and change, and there is an abundance of color everywhere. An almost psychedelic amount of color in fact!

Spring, a period of renewal and excess, when flowers burst forth from every little nook and cranny, is probably the perfect opposite of Fall, when everything is cast off and life enters conservation mode. However this annual dying off of the leaves brings much beauty and vibrance to the environs, with the reds, the ochres, umbers, and siennas- all swirling and dancing in the electric, autumnal wind.

In the words of Albert Camus, “Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf is a flower.” How true! I have been having such a lovely time this Fall, combing the ground for interesting leaves – no two ever the same. Where I live, there are many beautiful Maple trees and so there are brilliant bursts of red all over the place.

Can any artist ask for more? These leaves that I’ve been collecting are making their way into my paintings and I even taught a watercolor Fall Leaves workshop over the past weekend (more in a later post.)

Here are a couple of my most recent pieces, next to the leaves that inspired them. Almost a wordless eulogy for their last days in this world – I feel honored to have witnessed their beauty before they left.