For Such a Time As This {You are included in the adventure}

This morning I went on an early morning jog real quick before I needed to make breakfast for Jack and Maddy.

Jack started high school last week (he has homeschooled up until now) and Maddy is starting a new two day a week school program for homeschoolers (that is 30 minutes away).

I will still be homeschooling Benjamin this year and he will continue to go to his one day a week enrichment school.

I love early morning runs or walks because I am quiet, the world is quiet, the air feels different and I am more likely to HEAR…really hear the Lord.

Today I was just asking for guidance with the children, school, the “to do” lists and the busyness that the past two weeks has brought.

I love lists and getting things accomplished but I don’t want MY plans and MY goals to get in the way of HIS plans.

I don’t like busy.  I actually get pretty mean and grumpy with busy and lots of driving around.

The older I get the more I have realized that we are given gifts and skills for our own joy, to bless others and to ultimately honor the Lord.

I talk about this deep belief in some of my online courses and when I teach in person.

I also know that he won’t beg you to use your gifts and skills.

The hard truth is that he doesn’t need us to do anything.

He can do anything he wants and needs without us but here is the best part…he WANTS to include us!

We are asked again and again to be a part of his adventures.

Are we too busy to notice or do our own plans get in the way?

Do amazing adventures pass us by and another person with an open heart and mind join him instead?

I love the story of Esther and this verse especially has made a lasting impact on me.

There are two aspects about this verse that bring me back again and again.

1) If you are not able to do this it is OK…but I will find another that will

2) Have you ever thought that maybe this is why you are here in the first place?

For such a time as this!

What are you being asked to do with your gifts and skills?

Who around you needs encouragement or support?

Do your children need extra time?

Does your husband need to be reminded that he is loved and appreciated and that you don’t want to live this crazy life with anyone but him?

Do you need to stand up for a wrong?

Do you need to forgive or be forgiven?

Are you not using your gifts and skills and keeping yourself busy with things that don’t really matter?

Are you afraid to step out boldly with your gifts?

Are you afraid you will fail?

I am adventurer at heart!

I love to travel and learn and to meet new people.

I love the Lord and want a heart for the things of him.

I get bored easily and want to jump in my car and just drive.

In fact, my kids laugh whenever I fill up the Jeep with gas because I get all giddy because I feel like I could just take off and head out on an adventure.

I want my children to see the world, meet people different from them, love people that they didn’t know they could love and taste life in a different way.

Whenever I travel I look up real estate in that area and wonder if I could live there.

I have always thought I had a bit of gypsy in me:-)

The truth is I have the Lord in me and he hopes I want to join in on his adventures!

I do. I do.

Here is a little inspiration for you:-)

Catching the California Light {our recent trip to the sand and waves}

We just returned from two weeks in southern California and we are still adjusting to missing our friends and the ocean.

Our trip was magical in so many ways and the friends we stayed with lavished us with open arms, good food, laughter and incredible adventures.

After our time with friends we stayed a few days with Kelly’s family and then made our way to Santa Ana and Studio Cresendoh.

I had two of the best days ever teaching and creating with the students at this sold out class all about papers and portraits (I am really excited to tell you that I will be back next year).

Here is just a glimpse into our time away…

Our trip began with an incredible Mexican feast, a swimming pool with a diving board :-), music in the park with dinner and s’mores on the beach.

Not too shabby!

Our next day with friends began with a beautiful breakfast and cars loaded up for the beach!

This day was packed full of surf lessons, kayaking in the ocean and paddle boarding in the lagoon.

We felt very loved this day:-)

{Benjamin getting some surfing lessons}

Our night ended with what my friend does best…loving on you with good food and conversation.

Maddy even helped with the California rolls:-)

Our third day started with the coolest breakfast at Claire’s On Cedros and gluten free pancakes.

I had loved my hike at Torrey Pines on my last visit and they were kind enough to take us again.

This view would never get old!

After three days with friends we packed up and headed towards San Clemente to see my husband’s brother and family.

On the way we were told by friend Lissa to do whatever is necessary to eat at The Ramos House Cafe in San Juan Capistrano.

We are soooo glad we obeyed:-)

THE best meal! So good!  Get their gluten free hush puppies if you go.  We are still talking about them!

The next two nights were spent with Kelly’s family enjoying their pool and the beach.

After a few days with family we were off to Disneyland!  We took Jack and Maddy to Disneyworld when they were little and decided we needed to blow the cash on Ben too.

We stayed almost until close (to get our money’s worth of course) and pretty much fell into bed exhausted.

The next morning we made our way to Coronado Island and enjoyed San Diego over the next four days.

The first day we just rested in the hotel and enjoyed the downtime. We had been running for days and really needed the break.

The next day we took the train to meet my friend Alexis and her boys again to play at Legoland.

Ben was in heaven and loved every minute.

I think this day we spent about five hours at the pool. I made art and the kids swam.

{photo by Jenny Doh}

{photo by Jenny Doh}

{photo by Jenny Doh}

It was then time to make our way to Santa Ana and set up for my two day workshop at the Cresendoh Studio with Jenny Doh.

After we set up we were able to meet some of my aunts, uncles and cousins for dinner and I think we closed the place down.

The next two days I was surrounded by beautiful women that truly showed up with their art.

It is always the biggest joy to see women take techniques and make a piece their own.

{photo by Jenny Doh}

{photo by Jenny Doh}

{photo by Jenny Doh}

California was good to us.

Lucky You {Lucky Me}

I just got a call from my friend Laura that is helping me put together The Living Studio {Lake Como}.

She had some really awesome news to share and I can’t wait to pass it along to you.

The hotel in Bellagio let her know that they had one more room open up and that means that our SOLD OUT retreat now has room for two more!

I know there were many of you that were disappointed that the retreat sold out in a week and you didn’t have more time to figure out the details.

I hope this will be the right timing for two lucky people that want to explore Lake Como and create art in the midst of the history and beauty of this area.

Here is a little more information about the retreat if you are seeing the concept behind The Living Studio for the first time.

Contact Laura right away if you are interested!

*****

Do you remember when I first told you about my idea for The Living Studio {city art walks around the world}?

“I wanted each retreat to be one of a kind.

Each city has a heartbeat all its own and I wanted to hear it and share it.

I wanted the retreat to revolve around the exhibits, some of the best food a city has to offer, finding the perfect cafe, creating art each day inspired by the art we experience and exploring based upon the city.”

It has been so much my desire to create creative retreats, day trips and community groups that get you out into your town, city, world…and make art!

Last summer I had the honor of teaching for Laura McCollough in Bellagio, Italy.

This area of Italy stole my heart and I have dreamed of going back.

I am so giddy to tell you that Laura and I have collaborated to bring you the first The Living Studio {Lake Como}.

Join us June 21-28th as we explore Italy and create art.

Our week will be the perfect combination of excursions, art and time to explore.

Bellagio and the other villages along the lake are some of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen.

The water, the villages, the mountains, the history, the architecture, the foods and the sweet smell of flowers fill the air.

Your retreat will begin with being picked up at the airport in Milan for a beautiful ride to Bellagio.

Once you get there you will get settled into your apartment at Villa Serbelloni and have time to relax.

We will all meet together on the pergola overlooking Lake Como for a welcome and dinner.

Your evening will end with the annual torchlight celebration.

This is only the beginning.

Imagine waking up and making your way to the Villa Serbolloni for the best cappuccino (I have to have at least one each morning).

Your days may include lunch by the pool, a hike to a nearby castle in Varenna or an art museum in Como.

You may find yourself sketching an old church or learning to sculpt with paper clay.

How about an afternoon kayaking on Lake Como and stopping for gelato later in the day?

You will spend hours exploring small alleyways and and cobblestone streets.

Enjoy Italian dinners overlooking the waters, mountains and islands along the lake.

You will enjoy a tour of the lake in a vintage boat, exploring a villa and lunch with peach sorbet that will make you cry it is so good:-)

You will take a cooking class that will connect you to this region and let you connect your trip with those you love once you return home.

You will be inspired by the sites, sounds, smells and tastes of the region.

You will never just sit in a room and make art.

You will make art in the town, at a cafe, with your friends on the balcony outside your apartment or in the park.

You only need to bring your clothes and leave room for the treasures and art supplies you will bring home.

All of your art supplies will be provided.

Each day that we will do art you will receive new art supplies for the day.

You will also be given prompts that you can use if you choose to be open to the art all around you throughout the villages.

Our hope is that this will not just be a retreat…it will be opening up your heart and mind to creating your studio wherever you go.

The cost of The Living Studio {Lake Como} is $2,949.

What is included:

  • 7 nights lodging at L’Ulivo Apartments at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy (triple occupancy)
  • Transfer to and from the airport to Bellagio
  • 5 dinners in and around Lake Como
  • 4 lunches in and around Lake Como
  • 2 Breakfasts enjoyed on the apartment balcony
  • Art classes in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Como
  • Cooking class with a local chef or
    kayaking on Lake Como
  • Lake and Villa Tour
  • Opening night reception on the gorgeous pergola overlooking Lake Como 
  • Excursions around the lake
  • Art supplies and prompts
  • Hiking to the castle on Varenna
  • Snacks and gift bag in each apartment
  • Taxi’s and Ferry’s to and from provided dinners and excursions on itinerary
  • Hotel and Room Taxes
  • Live music nightly in the Music Room
  • Some AMAZING SURPRISES… 
  • Plus time to relax by the pool or sit at the waters edge
  • Time to stroll the streets, have some Gelato or shop
  • Plenty of opportunities to explore the lovely towns of Lake Como
  • An UNFORGETTABLE experience you will carry with you forever!

* Tuition does not include airfare

For more information and to register click HERE.

I can’t wait to explore and create with you in Italy!

{if you have ANY questions please email me and I would love to answer them}

The Living Studio {Lake Como}

thelivingstudiocomo_zps8e2146d3

**SOLD OUT**

Do you remember when I first told you about my idea for The Living Studio {city art walks around the world}?

“I wanted each retreat to be one of a kind.

Each city has a heartbeat all its own and I wanted to hear it and share it.

I wanted the retreat to revolve around the exhibits, some of the best food a city has to offer, finding the perfect cafe, creating art each day inspired by the art we experience and exploring based upon the city.”

It has been so much my desire to create creative retreats, day trips and community groups that get you out into your town, city, world…and make art!

Last summer I had the honor of teaching for Laura McCollough in Bellagio, Italy.

This area of Italy stole my heart and I have dreamed of going back.

I am so giddy to tell you that Laura and I have collaborated to bring you the first The Living Studio {Lake Como}.

Join us June 21-28th as we explore Italy and create art.

Our week will be the perfect combination of excursions, art and time to explore.

Bellagio and the other villages along the lake are some of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen.

The water, the villages, the mountains, the history, the architecture, the foods and the sweet smell of flowers fill the air.

Your retreat will begin with being picked up at the airport in Milan for a beautiful ride to Bellagio.

Once you get there you will get settled into your apartment at Villa Serbelloni and have time to relax.

We will all meet together on the pergola overlooking Lake Como for a welcome and dinner.

Your evening will end with the annual torchlight celebration.

This is only the beginning.

Imagine waking up and making your way to the Villa Serbolloni for the best cappuccino (I have to have at least one each morning).

Your days may include lunch by the pool, a hike to a nearby castle in Varenna or an art museum in Como.

You may find yourself sketching an old church or learning to sculpt with paper clay.

How about an afternoon kayaking on Lake Como and stopping for gelato later in the day?

You will spend hours exploring small alleyways and and cobblestone streets.

Enjoy Italian dinners overlooking the waters, mountains and islands along the lake.

You will enjoy a tour of the lake in a vintage boat, exploring a villa and lunch with peach sorbet that will make you cry it is so good:-)

You will take a cooking class that will connect you to this region and let you connect your trip with those you love once you return home.

You will be inspired by the sites, sounds, smells and tastes of the region.

You will never just sit in a room and make art.

You will make art in the town, at a cafe, with your friends on the balcony outside your apartment or in the park.

You only need to bring your clothes and leave room for the treasures and art supplies you will bring home.

All of your art supplies will be provided.

Each day that we will do art you will receive new art supplies for the day.

You will also be given prompts that you can use if you choose to be open to the art all around you throughout the villages.

Our hope is that this will not just be a retreat…it will be opening up your heart and mind to creating your studio wherever you go.

The cost of The Living Studio {Lake Como} is $2,949.

What is included:

  • 7 nights lodging at L’Ulivo Apartments at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy (triple occupancy)
  • Transfer to and from the airport to Bellagio
  • 5 dinners in and around Lake Como
  • 4 lunches in and around Lake Como
  • 2 Breakfasts enjoyed on the apartment balcony
  • Art classes in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Como
  • Cooking class with a local chef or
    kayaking on Lake Como
  • Lake and Villa Tour
  • Opening night reception on the gorgeous pergola overlooking Lake Como 
  • Excursions around the lake
  • Art supplies and prompts
  • Hiking to the castle on Varenna
  • Snacks and gift bag in each apartment
  • Taxi’s and Ferry’s to and from provided dinners and excursions on itinerary
  • Hotel and Room Taxes
  • Live music nightly in the Music Room
  • Some AMAZING SURPRISES… 
  • Plus time to relax by the pool or sit at the waters edge
  • Time to stroll the streets, have some Gelato or shop
  • Plenty of opportunities to explore the lovely towns of Lake Como
  • An UNFORGETTABLE experience you will carry with you forever!

* Tuition does not include airfare

For more information and to register click HERE.

I can’t wait to explore and create with you in Italy!

{if you have ANY questions please email me and I would love to answer them}

Italy {Bellagio and Off To Florence}

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I have loved looking through my Italy Instagram photos for these posts.

I didn’t pick up my camera very often and I have to admit that using mainly my phone made me enjoy the moments more.

I want to make a book with all of the Italy Instagram photos and I will let you know what company I go with (and how it turns out).

We are now on days 5, 6, 7 and 8.

You can read about the previous days HERE and HERE.

On day 5 Kelly and I started it with a cappuccino in the beautiful breakfast room of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni.

I loved that we had our own routine and even the waiters knew us each morning.

Teresa Collins taught a scrapbook journal class and I later taught a painting class.

It was a full day of creating!

After class Kelly and I headed to the pool for a few hours before we met up with everyone at dinner.

We had a beautiful meal on the patio of Restaurante Bilacus.

{on Instagram everyone teased that this looked like a scene from a soap opera}

As you can tell our group got along VERY well!

The next morning we all met bright and early for a day excursion to Como.

I enjoy the smaller villages around the lake more than the larger city of Como but it was full of beautiful images that I couldn’t stop wanting to capture.

{I even found an art supply shop}

I stopped to see George on our way back to Bellagio and he sends his love:-)

I was so tired from the day of walking all over Como and then the long ferry ride put me right to sleep.

Once we arrived back in Bellagio we were enjoying an afternoon rain.

That evening I had an amazing dinner all alone with my boyfriend.

It was so nice to have the quiet of the evening together to just talk about this incredible area and our dreams to come back with our children.

The next day started off with the last class by Teresa Collins and the afternoon was spent at the beach.

I still can’t believe I captured this photo of Kelly diving into Lake Como.

This has to be framed and saved forever!

You couldn’t have paid me to dive into water where I can’t see the bottom.

Creeps!

The grand finale of the retreat was dinner at Mistral.

Every thing was so beautifully presented and the ice cream make using liquid nitrogen was awesome!

As cappuccinos were being served they asked us to come outside for a surprise.

We all made our way to the pergola overlooking Lake Como.

Waiting for us was the men’s choir of Bellagio and they gave us a concert in Italian.

It was the perfect ending to one of the most incredible experiences.

That night as we climbed into bed it was sad to know that it was over.

We were also excited though because the next morning a new adventure would begin for just the two of us….

We were off to Florence!

{Registration is now open for Laura’s retreat next year along Lake Como}

Italy {Days Three and Four}

pinkflowernecklace_zpsf5e04f8a

I mentioned in my last post that I didn’t sleep the whole night before I was to teach my first class in Bellagio.

You can get really tired after teaching for hours anyway…but add no sleep and you can be in trouble fast:-)

Not like I have ever told a class to spread modeling paste all over muslim.

No, who would ever say muslim and not muslin after a long day.

I have no idea!

That would be so weird…eeek!

{Please keep quiet my sweet class in Utah}

So, I knew my only choice was to get a good breakfast and pray.

That is exactly what we did.

The only place I knew I could get a gluten free and protein breakfast was at our hotel.

I had been warned that it would really cost me but I was desperate for anything that would help my day.

I ordered grapefruit, two fried eggs and a cappuccino.

I think Kelly had an omelet and a cappuccino.

I think it was almost $70 and we didn’t even care.

That cappuccino was so good that we had to get one every single morning we were in Bellagio.

After a quick breakfast I was off to teach.

Connecting with women and watching them create is one of my favorite things.

The first class was all about creating unique journals out of Anthro catalogs.

It was a fun morning full of paints, modeling paste, inks, calligraphy pens, image transfers and pastels.

The women were such good sports about trying many techniques and mediums that were new to them.

The class was over before I even knew it and  we were off lunch.

After lunch Laura taught her scrapbook/journal class.

Her kit was filled with so many fun papers and embellishments but I couldn’t even focus.

I slipped out after a few hours to rest my eyes before dinner.

Dinner was the highlight of the day (I would like to say it was my class but this dinner and view was amazing).

We took the ferry across Lake Como and were met by vans to take us to the top of the hill to Al Veluu.

The setting was stunning, the view was break taking and the food was perfection!

It was such a wonderful night of good food, wine and fun conversation.

I always think that meeting new people and hearing their stories is one of the best parts of travel.

Teresa and Tyler Collins had us laughing so much this night with their stories.

I had met Teresa once before but to spend this much time with her (and her amazing husband) really sealed how much I adore her.

We hit the pillows hard this night and morning came too soon but we were ready for our next adventure.

Finding a gluten free breakfast was too hard for us each morning so Kelly had gone to the market and was making us omelets in our apartment each morning.

It was so wonderful to wake up each morning to a hot breakfast and fresh fruit (have I told you guys lately how incredible he is?).

After our morning cappuccino we headed out to the water to meet everyone.

Vintage boats were waiting for us and we were off!

Our first stop was Villa del Balbianello.

{photo from Laura McCollough’s Instagram Feed}

There were the most incredible views from the villa. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to live here.

 

We then re boarded our boats and made our way to lunch.

Yes, we took the boats right up to La Tirlindana.

I am sure for all of you guys that live near the water this is no big deal…but I thought it was awesome.

The view while we had lunch was beautiful and for dessert I had the best peach sorbet I have EVER had in my life.

It was seriously like eating the freshest peach of your life!

To be in such a beautiful place, doing such different things from your regular life is truly surreal.

I don’t think I am able to really process all of the beauty sometimes on trips until after I am home.

I think it has also been decided that the Oliver family definitely needs a Vespa.

A cream Vespa to be exact (we are now officially on the lookout).

After we arrived back in Bellagio Kelly and I took a little time to soak up the sun and pool.

That evening Laura had organized an artist’s night for local artists to sell their creations at the Villa Serbelloni.

It was fun to pick up a few jewelry pieces for myself that I know will always remind me of this trip of a lifetime.

After a late dinner we were off to sleep because tomorrow was another teaching day.

***********
I wanted to let you know that I have just added some new necklaces to the shop!

Click HERE if you are interested in seeing more.

Italy {days one and two}

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{all photos in this post were taken with my phone camera}

Before I share anything I have to start here….

The fedora.

I have begged Kelly to wear hats for years.

I think he finally just felt sorry for me and how pathetic I look when I beg.

It only took going to Italy to convince him to trust me:-)

My mom came from Illinois to watch the kids for two weeks.

Two. Weeks.

She still was smiling when we came home but she did leave immediately to go back home.

Coincidence?

I think not.

It was hard to leave.

It travel enough that short trips doesn’t effective us very much but big trips…

We are a group of bawling babies.

There are about 500 goodbyes.

Tears.

Getting back out of the car to say goodbye one more time.

Secret notes left to each other.

Photos taken.

Drive away.

Must. Drive. Away.

If I could have my way we wouldn’t even fly on the same plane.

Over the ocean.

No way, Jose!

I would fly in two separate planes…just in case.

Weirdo alert.

I know it and embrace it.

My husband on the other hand will not indulge my two plane travel plan.

Whatever!

All of this to say here we were right before we boarded the flight from Denver to New York and then onto Milan.

I can never sleep very much on a plane so we were dragging when we landed in Italy.

After a crazy bus ride from Milan to Bellagio (I didn’t even watch the road) we settled into our apartment, took a quick nap and headed out to look around this new town.

Bellagio is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

The architecture, water, mountains, colors and the incredible smell of flowers everywhere was intoxicating.

I was in Bellagio to teach for Laura McCollough of  A Kiss On The Chic.

Laura loves this area and has created a retreat that incorporates all of the things that have drawn her back to this area again and again.

The retreat began with a sweet welcome and a light dinner under the pergola overlooking Lake Como.

Let’s take a moment to look at my handsome husband wearing his fedora.

After dinner we joined the town in Bellagio for their annual Torchlight Festival.

This is with for real torches.

Like…you could burn yourself and others.

So we were sleep deprived carrying huge torches along the crowded cobblestone streets.

It was the freakiest looking crowd with a mob of people with torches.

All we were missing were some pitchforks and we looked like we could have been the group to storm the Bastille!

I was just as worried about the person behind me lighting my hair on fire, me lighting myself on fire or me lighting a stranger on fire.

Only in Europe could this happen.

In America this would be a huge lawsuit just waiting to happen.

I didn’t burn myself or others.

Success!

OK, moving on to day two.

We were still pretty tired when we work up but we went searching for some food and then headed out to hike.

We took the ferry from Bellagio to Varenna and hiked to the Castle of Vezio.

The views at the top were breathtaking and half of the fun is running into new people along the way.

Once we got back to Bellagio that afternoon we were exhausted and pretty much fell into bed.

It was the most wonderful 3 hour nap with the rain and the thunder as our background noise.

That evening we headed out to meet up with everyone for dinner.

After dinner we made our way to the classroom in the Villa Serbelloni where I was setting up my supplies/kits etc.

We finished a little after midnight and we were exhausted to put it mildly and we needed to head home because the next morning (at 9am I would like to add) I was teaching my first class.

The highlight of this night is that neither of us slept the whole night.

I think Kelly fell asleep around 5am and I fell asleep for only 30-45 minutes before it was time to wake up.

I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to teach the way I needed to teach on no sleep.

Many prayers were lifted up that morning.

{more to come}

******

Just a reminder that on tomorrow we have two more mini courses in the summer series.

Join Jen O’Brien for Inspired Decorating Ideas For Summer and Andrea Singarella for Vintage Trinket Jewelry.

Each mini course is only $10 and available for 6 months.