creative lifestyle

Five Secret Steps To Empty Nest Nesting; The Starter Set by Mary Jennings

My husband and I are newly empty nested.  This is the first time we have lived together in our house without sharing our space and time with our children and additional family in our care.  We do still have the dog and she gets blamed for things every now and again, but for the most part we are in a living environment we haven't experienced in over 20 plus years.  

It's time to nest in our newly empty nest.  I have come up with a list of ways to nest that are simple, but very forgotten.  I have appreciated of the below steps over the recent weeks.  

1. Start with some great soap and/or shampoo. I’ve been buying soap and shampoo/conditioner in bulk for years and decided it was time to get more carefully crafted soaps found in health food stores.  I took my time shopping for the best scents and brought home a cornucopia of bars to enjoy and sample.  It’s been so fun to try new special things in such an everyday place.   

2. Find some healthy whole grain bread from the bakery.  I have been making peanut butter and jelly for so many years. I’ve basically used the same brand of whole wheat bread the entire time. I happen to love bread and I also try my best to avoid eating it. It was time that I started buying bread that was the best for me and had the best flavor.  I’ve been on the hunt for whole grain bread. I've been to bakeries and farmer’s markets and have been so disappointed by the lack of healthy bread options.  My next creative project is to make some whole grain bread myself.  I’ve found a recipe that seems simple enough to match my lack of baking skill; can’t wait to try it out. 

3. Get some fancy water bottles.  Every parent has had a tower of water bottles in their house to keep their young well hydrated or world wide apocalyptic event.  I am so over all of that!  I’ve never really liked contributing to the destruction of the world through crunchy plastic waste, so I have been on a reusable water bottle quest. For some time, I’ve enjoyed the collapsable, BPA free, plastic water bottles.  They’re great for travel and the gym.  My latest fancy water bottle is glass and has a basket in the middle for infusing. It’s so classy. Some of my favorite combinations have been strawberry/lime, cucumber/melon, watermelon/basil, and plain grapefruit.  

4. Go to nice places to eat. This is not just eating or grabbing a quick bite between events now.  Going out to eat IS the event. Select some nice places and even dress for the event.  Stay for more than a half an hour and get what you want. If you can’t finish it all, take it home for your next meal. Fear not! Your leftovers are safe now that the kids are gone. 

5. Go shopping at stores just to look.  Or take a drive just to enjoy the ride with the one you love. It’s all time well spent.  I've always wondered about those people who go to a store for one thing.  I am now seeing that pattern developing in my life. It's nice not to need so much. Go to a fun store and make it a creative play date.  

This kind of nesting is the best place to start this new chapter together and your kids will notice the fresh face, healthy, happy, hydrated look on your face when they come back home to roost….it's inevitable. 

Please share with me some of your ideas on how to nest again.  I would love to hear them.

The Studio Center: Where Classes, Parties and Clubs Gather to Create. by Mary Jennings

I knew it the moment I walked onto the open front porch.  This was the spot!  I wanted to teach art right here.  And after many months of conversations, cleaning sessions and preparations, I am ready to introduce you, my good friends to a wonderful opportunity and destination.  

Location, Location , Location.

The location is in Falls Church, Virginia and it looks so warm and inviting and even has great parking.  It was a house for some great family quite some time ago and even has the plaque telling all who pass its a historic landmark.  When I first stepped in the door of this darling all white house, it was the main store front for The Front Porch, a furniture rescue company owned and operated by Dave and Joni.  I got to know the owners and witnessed their immense friendliness very soon after we met.  They waste no time in being the friendliest furniture folks in town.  We became fast friends.  I love what they do. I speak the language of furniture rescue too and would like to support them in any way I can.  

Joni’s vision for this location was clear once they moved The Front Porch to a bigger location just down the road.  She wanted to share her knowledge and great skills with Chalk and Milk paints, caning chairs, and breathing new life into some great little pieces of furniture. She has done this many times and thought The Studio Center would be a great place to focus on instruction.  She was kind enough to invite me into the share the experience.

The Studio Center Mission Statement: Providing creative space for creative instruction.  A place where ideas have worth and rescue is without limit.

A great review for Joni on Yelp.

A great review for Joni on Yelp.

My Classes! They’re Here! My Classes! They’re Fun!

I am teaching, organizing parties and leading some fantastic groups meeting at The Studio Center.  You should come enjoy the fun and creativity. You can join my mailing list to see what’s happening from month to month.  You can check my website for a list of offerings or find the classes and groups on Meet-up.  

Here are just a few classes I offer: Group/Private Art Lessons, Pyrography, Creative Coffee Club, Sketchbook, Unframed Friday Art Night LIVE, Social Painting, Ugly Art Party, Canvas Floor Rug, Kids Create Club and Empty Nest Art Group.

Find So Many Classes on the Social Site, Meet-up

As of today, you can join the group organized on the app and website, Meetup.  I have organized a group called the Cool Creative Culture at The Studio Center, Falls Church and have an event planned already. You’re invited. It's an open house with demonstrations and special offers.  Please join the fun!

Another Way To Stay Connected Great Events

Find out more about The Studio Center, The Front Porch and The Back Dorr by visiting

Burning Love! Own Your Creative Wood-burning Starter Kit by Mary Jennings

I have the great privilege of teaching art to individuals and private groups.  One of my classes is on the art of Pyrography (translation: writing with fire).  I have put together the essentials for a great start to the art of Pyrography, otherwise known as wood-burning.  In a blog on this topic, Slow Down and Make Your Mark; A Beginners Guide to Pyrography, I give some basic instructions as well as show some student work.  

In this post I will show you some of what the beginner kit includes as well as offer you a way to get the kit for yourself.  

You might be asking yourself, how do I get one of these kits for myself?  I’ve assembled these kits and have made them available to people who participate in the Pyrography lesson I have made available to you.  I teach in two locations. One is at the Salamander Resort and Spa, Middleburg, VA and the other is at The Studio Center, Falls Church, VA.

There is also a group set up for classes that I offer at The Studio Center available through Meet-up

Kit includes: wood-burning tool, four tips, two basswood surfaces, colored pencils, transfer paper and instruction/inspiration sheet.

Kit includes: wood-burning tool, four tips, two basswood surfaces, colored pencils, transfer paper and instruction/inspiration sheet.

Words for the Wise; Building Your Vocabulary with an App. by Mary Jennings

True confession time.  I am addicted to learning and have always enjoyed the never ending opportunity for learning that vocabulary provides.  I got the itch to bump up my personal word bank when I was told I had an “impish” expression on my face.  Impish was not a word I was all that familiar with; I promptly looked it up.  My friend was right.  She found the most fitting word to describe my expression. 

My discovery for the day comes in the form on an app that I use on my phone.  I found one that feeds me a new word every day.  Please allow me to share it with you to help fill your life with rich pabulum. The app is Word of The Day.  Don’t allow yourself to become latent in this current culture.  GROW with the times.  To follow is a photo showing how the app looks on a phone. 

In the comment section, please share with all of us some great words or apps we should know.  Your recommendations are very welcome.  Let's learn together.