People like to tell you all the horror stories about having a baby, the sleepless nights, the crying, the spit up. But what they don’t mention is the wonderful sunrises you get to see when your baby suddenly becomes an early riser. I’ve certainly seen my fair share since the birth of my baby in February. The photo above looks out across my backyard and it is my favourite sunrise so far.

this post is a contribution from alli, an aussie lifestyle blogger over at The Girl in the PJs, and one of my sponsors. thanks for filling in for me, alli! that photo makes me miss springtime already.


Greetings A Denver Home Companion readers! Amanda here from The Petrichor filling in as “Emily” for the day.

I think it’s safe to say that autumn came and went. Here in Denver, we got to enjoy a little bit of a longer fall. I feel like the leaves were changing for over two months! It’s my favorite time of year, so I won’t complain.

As winter begins to settle in, I thought I would make a promise to myself to enjoy the outdoors more during the cold. The thing about living in Colorado is that we do get all four seasons. I’m originally from California so I need to take advantage of this. Winter is a wonderful time to go outside, sled, visit mountain towns, drink hot cocoa during a snow storm, and just sit and bask in the night glow reflecting off the snow.

To give myself an extra reminder this winter, I made myself a new desktop background to decorate my home and office computers. Hopefully this serves a little reminder to go outside and appreciate the season. You can download the wallpaper by saving the image to your desktop. Hopefully it’ll give you a little extra motivation.

i am not the only one who is busy with small business ventures. lovely readers, click through to see what is keeping amanda so busy these days: The Kin Collective (her design company that redid my blog!) and Our Mutual Friend Malt and Brew (just down the street from The Populist!)

thanks, amanda! that wallpaper is definitely what is on my mac’s background right now.


Hello, I’m McKenzie of Oliver and Abraham’s. My husband and I are part-time sheep farmers. I also draw, so with the slowing-down season this year, I decided to focus my energy on opening an Etsy shop to sell some of my art, and eventually, we’ll be able to offer handspun yarn from our sheep and alpacas.

Over the past couple months I’ve learned a lot about my own creative process, and I thought I’d share a little bit about it here. I would say the most important aspect of having the inspiration to draw lies in my surroundings. The view from my desk is full of sheep. Grazing sheep, sleeping sheep, thirsty sheep, headbutting sheep, humping sheep… From my window, I am always able to get a little dose of reality, no matter how wrapped up in my head I get.

When I start drawing, I rarely have a goal in mind. But when I do, I use pencil to sketch out the symmetry. I prefer diving right in with a .005 Micron pen though. Then I erase my pencil lines and start filling in with watercolor using these tiny brushes. I’ve had the same old watercolor paints for years now, but these seem to be pretty close. I usually mix the colors up on the side. Adding gray to any color gives it a softer look. I also recently discovered the most perfect 5″x7″ watercolor block. The nice thing about it is that there’s no grainy texture. That used to bother me a lot about other watercolor papers. It’s pure white and is glued together on all four sides. One corner is free so you can tear out the image when it’s dry. Because of the tightness of the paper to the pad, there’s no warping.

A lot of people have told me that using watercolors is hard. I guess in the sense that if you have no initial lines to define your image, it would be challenging to create them using only watercolors. But filling in Micron pen lines is relatively simple. It’s time consuming, but if you consider it a form of meditation it becomes addictive.  You learn as you go. I remember the very first watercolor painting I did. I must have been three or four years old. I painted a cottage in the woods on a tiny square of paper. I remember being sofrustrated that the lines in my head were bleeding together on paper, but there must have been something appealing to me about the medium, otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it back up.

Today, I find it fun to experiment with color and texture. I also love to finish a painting with white India ink. It adds a much needed sense of dimension and brightness. You have to practice with it first though! It spreads really easily so you have to control your hand to the max. But don’t be afraid! Sometimes your mistakes can turn into the best part. In the birth announcement you see above, the flowers with the big black centers were a mistake. I opened up a pen and the ink came spurting out. At first, I was devastated (read: threw the pen across the room in a fury) since I’d spent the entire day working on it. I stepped away, came back to it calmly, and at second glance realized the dots had fallen among the leaves in a beautiful way. I think art should be embraced with the Japanese philosophy of “wabi-sabi.” Finding beauty in life’s imperfections…

Emily, thank you so much for having me over to your blog! I can’t wait to see your new restaurant grow! 🙂


i am so so so excited to announce a new giveaway!

my friend, paul michel, is a brilliant denver artist who has designed a collection of hand drawn greeting cards and illustrations, under the shop name mountain versus plains. his greeting cards are funny (omigod so so funny), irreverent, sometimes crass, quirky, and always so well-done. his illustrations of notable denver buildings are simple but spot-on and really capture the bones and personality of each place. i plan on commissioning him for a portrait of the powerdriver family in front of our little denver farmstead.

sifting through his collection had me laughing out loud to myself. i’m confident the same will happen to you. (p.s. please click through to his etsy site to get MUCH better photos of his awesome work. my diptich-ing does them no justice).

right now paul is doing a series of 33 cards in 33 days over at his facebook page and on his instagram feed (@mountainvsplains). it just started but these are two of my favorites:

paul has generously offered up three greeting cards AND a framed print (of winner’s choice!) to one lucky reader who comments on this post answering the question paul has for you all: suddenly the city of denver finds itself overrun by thousands of ravenous twenty-foot tall hamsters. what do you do? where do you go? (don’t worry if you’re not from denver; creativity and imagination are encouraged!)

this giveaway is running through july 31st and the randomly-picked winner will be announced in a blog post august 1.

BONUS!: extra entries can be obtained by liking mountain versus plains on facebook AND following his feed on instagram (@mountainvsplains) (which you won’t regret bc it makes for a daily chuckle). just leave an extra comment saying you’ve done so (and make sure to leave your instagram handle, please).

ADDITIONALLY!: paul is offering A Denver Home Companion readers 15% off in his mountain versus plains etsy shop through the duration of the giveaway. simply input promo code olliesvintage15 at checkout.


i can’t believe my dear friend tessa came to town and this is the only photo i have of her. i don’t even have one of her and us or of her and her husband or of her and her little adorable baby boy, august. well, actually i can believe it since the past week was busy busy busy. we had so much shopping and talking and eating and drinking to do! her and her two men were visiting from chicago and stayed with us for the duration. it was a good balance of being out-and-about and lounging on the couch but there was no time for blogging or for capturing these moments (though tessa did snap some photos of ramona and i for my next sling diaries theme). when tessa and i and august and ramona do our chicago-minneapolis-chicago roadtrip we will both be better about documenting it.

so. now i’m back to blogging. and i missed it. but sometimes unexpected breaks are so good for the soul and sanity. because i wouldn’t have missed that last week offline with my friends for anything.