31 December 2009

happy 2010.

a tiny world.

And she is going to dance, dance hungry, dance full, dance each cold astonishing moment, now when she is young and again when she is old.
[anne lamott]

29 December 2009

(a new kind of) literary love. or sacrilege. depending on your perspective.

seems every corner i turned this past fall, someone was crafting beauty from recycled book pages. the book wreath, for instance. sublime.

i decided to get in on the fun, and purchased a hefty tome from the discard shelf at my local library. (sidenote: apparently mr library guy harbors a secret crush on me; i kept trying to pay a quarter for my hardcover, per the pricing on the sign, and he insisted the book was just twenty cents. so whaddayaknow, i scored a nickel. it's not a very big crush.)

my literary selection: DOUBLE EAGLE, published in 1979. from the flap copy: Double Eagle is the riveting, true account of the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean by men in a balloon.

i picked the book partly for the heft of the pages, and partly because i felt little remorse splitting its spine. i mean, a balloon crossing. who cares, right? except i started to read an extracted page and actually found it, well, riveting.

but let us move on from the magnitude of my nerdiness to better things. things with a point.

i turned this homely fellow:


into these guys:


and this:


and also these:


groovy, eh? and lest you think i am Brimming With Great Ideas, i assure you that i am actually just good at mimicking other people's ideas. so. gift bag tutorial here. purchase a (much more gorgeous than mine) bird mobile here. can't find the gal who used to craft hair flowers, but i originally saw them on etsy. (and nope, i am not selling them, i just placed them on a card for elle.)

go forth and craft something, but a word of advice: lock up your austen or rowling or rice (or whatever earns the pulitzer in your universe), because crafting with pages is addicting in the worst way. not even my tolkien is safe. (ok, well, probably tolkien. but little else. beware.)

25 December 2009


happiness is cream and blush.

oh, come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind
oh, bid our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our king of peace

23 December 2009

this post brought to you by the letter c.

perhaps my mum instituted the tradition, as a placation, having endured my moaning about the woes of a birthday bordering christmas for the billionth time. or perhaps it began on a whim, and my brothers and i enjoyed the enterprise so thoroughly it became an annual thing.

in any case, sometime during my childhood it became unwritten law that we construct gingerbread houses every year on my birthday (and i use the word 'gingerbread' very loosely, in most cases meaning 'honey maid graham crackers'). unwilling participants are advised to run and hide, because if you are spotted under my roof come december 21st, participation is compulsory. triple f, baby.**


my friend crystal, who knows me frighteningly well (well, i'm certain the knowledge is frightening for her; i'm good with it) suspected that with our scrimping and saving for the adoption, i might not purchase the makings for my birthday houses this year.

she appeared last week at my front door, laden with candies and frosting and grahams. i have the best sort of friends.

so monday evening, the littles and the hubby and i happily carried on the tradition, amidst hot chocolate and a rather pitiable christmas playlist.


it's fun (and telling) to observe our varying design styles; hubby took on traditional gingerbread architecture, zee had an over-the-top seussian approach, em went for speed, bee was all about juxtaposing right angles and curves, i aimed for a clean but cozy look, and elle's philosophy was 'eat as much candy as possible during the constructing, whatever's left goes on the house.'

our temporary housing development:

the neighborhood

(makes you want to hire us for your next home addition, doesn't it?)

thanks, crystal, for making sure my day was incredibly sweet.


**Forced Family Fun at its finest.

17 December 2009

bits and pieces

...of our days.

a little madeline


feeling under the weather


a bit of sewing


envelope making



and a peterstar marble.


happy almost-friday, friends.

13 December 2009

'tis the season

it's that time of year when visions of handmade gifts dance in my head, and i realize (as i do every december) that to pull this off i actually needed to start mid-july. (will somebody leave me a comment in july? reminding me to get crafting? the me-of-future-christmases thanks you.)

so my plan, at the moment, is to not sleep until december 26th. should that not pan out, i will be wrapping up my shopping at the corner VP, midnight, christmas eve. blue cherry slurpees for everyone.**

of course, i could adopt a sensible approach and buy handmade, which is that magical combination of giving handmade gifts while still keeping a toehold on the slippery slope that is my sanity, but somehow i never manage to cave to reason.

you, however, are wise and sane. and so i shall share with you a smattering of my favoritest finds on etsy, aka the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace.


aran sweater::bellflower earrings::shall we skate::portable mistletoe::eggnog marshmallows::on a frozen pond::santa's helper::mistletoe table lamp::eggnog soy candle::december in my favorite sweater::eggnog hat::pine cold-process soap::porcupine tree scarf::winter wonderland--iced::raw art letterpress::eggnog soap bar

**if my memory serves me correctly, one of my brothers actually bought us slurpees one year. which means i'd lose points for originality, but hopefully gain a few for preserving hallowed family traditions.

09 December 2009


twelve. it's hard to fathom.

twelve is a sheaf of in-betweenness, skirting the fence between childhood and the teenage years, becoming.

i think about who you are today. voluble. happy. an edacious reader, gamer, dodgeball enthusiast. eager, but with a heart that bruises easily. principled.

i hope you will always look out for your brothers and sister. i hope you will stoke your tendency to be merciful, to champion the oppressed, to find pleasure in the littlest things. i hope you want God more than air.

it's a tenuous hold i have on you, as a mother of a nearly-teen. i want you to be young enough still to take my best habits, old enough to sift through what i hand you and cast aside the dross.

i hope you are an agent of God's healing and justice. and i hope he holds you so tight.

happy birthday, b. you are so precious to me.

07 December 2009

first snow.

this morning we awoke to find the world frosted in snow.

the littlest kiddo and i bundled up and headed out back to unearth pinecones for a christmasy project. she lasted about five minutes, then abandoned me for the warmth of the house. she's cute, though.


digging (alone) for forty-five frigid minutes yielded a mere twenty-one pinecones. but i figured that since my ears were already numb i might as well stay out a bit longer and take a few pictures.




summer home.

i do love a light snow (mostly in december and when i don't have to drive in it). it's beginning to look a bit like christmas.


01 December 2009

this was going to be Ten on Tuesday, but then i got tired and went to bed.

1. it's a poorly kept secret that i don't like coffee so much as i like creamer. well, ingenuity recently kicked in and i am now foregoing the coffee altogether and adding creamer to hot chocolate. coconut creme creamer, to be precise.

if i'm thrice my normal size the next time you see me, you will know why.

2. sometimes elle and i are not feeling the cleaning and working and schooling, and so we set the camera timer and photograph ourselves.

that, or build lincoln logs. equally fun.

3. last week was the bestest sort of week. i got to chat by the fireside with dear friends, and meet lovelyn (and clay and ellie!), and be with family, and hug old friends close again. i vote for more thanksgiving breaks.

4. these days i am a jewelry-stamping fiend. and i have not mashed my thumb with the hammer once.


i think they're reproducing.

5. sometimes i happen upon a perfectly rust-colored oak leaf that curls up just so and the only reasonable course of action is to sprint indoors, grab the camera, and jet back out to take its picture. i adore november.


6. except that it is december. oy vey.

7. i am entirely unprepared for Christmas, so if anyone would like to be my personal assistant, like, on a volunteer-basis, and oversee the General Gift-Making and Decorating so that i can build lincoln log forts and not bang my thumb and sip coconut-creme-creamered hot chocolate, that would be fantastic.

8. how is it possible that we are not at ten yet? well. i extend my most sincere apologies, but if i hope to operate at even 15% cognitive capacity tomorrow, i must hit the sack.

goodnight, all.

26 November 2009

on thanksgiving.

'we should certainly count our blessings,
but we should also make our blessings count.'

[neal maxwell]

to my american compatriots, happy thanksgiving. to my international friends, happy thursday in general. sow kindess today.

ps thank you to everyone who entered this little giveaway; i've updated the post below with the winner!

19 November 2009

a debut giveaway. (hurrah!)

as a means to generate a bit more income for adoption expenses, i am now offering my handstamped jewelry and fine art photographs in my shop.

both these stamped silver pieces and the photographs make excellent presents, and will arrive nicely packaged and ready for gifting.

to celebrate these new offerings, i'm giving away a custom stamped sterling disc necklace, adorned with a lucite flower or a pair of freshwater pearls, your choice. the silver disc may be stamped with up to five names or a short inspirational phrase, like so:



to enter, just tell me which item from my shop most strikes your fancy. tweet, facebook, or blog this giveaway and i'll throw your name in an extra three times (just be sure to stop back to let me know you've done this).

i'll close the entries at midnight EST on tuesday, november 24th.


happy weekend, friends.


updated nov 26th: we now have a winner! congratulations to JEM (jessica); i will contact you this weekend to discuss your custom necklace. thank you all so very much for the enthusiasm and kindness in your comments.

baring my soul. and stuff.

where to begin?

back in my sophomore year of college (can that really be fourteen years ago? yeesh) my roomie ann and i would stretch across our bunks and solve the world's problems. don't get me wrong, i was still largely self-absorbed, but i had brief bouts of clarity, where the vast needs of others felt compelling and urgent.

fast-forward to last november in nashville, where the hubby and i attended national youth workers convention. every speaker, every session, every seminar seemed geared toward the same end: to get us to wake up and see the suffering of others, and then do what's necessary to change it.

we've met needs on a small scale. we've foregone a bit of personal comfort. but i am certain we haven't even shown up in the ballpark of loving just one other family as much as we love ourselves.

the hubby and i have sorted through these concerns many times, but over the past year we've wrestled more intently than ever. we're making changes, some of them public, some personal. i, for one, hope this continues.

one of the ways we are aiming to love God and treasure other people is through adoption. i don't enjoy broaching depressing subjects, but sometimes reality is grim: across the world, millions of orphaned and abandoned children need families. (along a similar vein, millions of vulnerable families need stable scaffolding to help them sustain themselves, to remain intact, to flourish.)

i want to be mom to a child who needs a mother. i want to play backyard kickball with her, and embarrass him with enthusiastic picture-taking before the prom, and see her off to college with my heart all at once hopeful and breaking.

this is just the start of our adoption process, and much is still unknown, but everything inside me thrills at the thought of another child to love.

we are a lot excited and a lot intimidated, with hope laced through it all. truly, the best is yet to come.

15 November 2009

more of the lovely emily.

this girl is a winning combination of brains and beauty. she has a stunning smile and a quiet self-possession, and i was thrilled to find she loves the very same authors i do. i enjoyed every minute with her.

emily 3

emily 4

emily 1

emily 2

thanks for a great afternoon, emily. you are already such an exceptional person, and i can't wait to see all you'll accomplish with your talents and brilliance.

10 November 2009

general announcements.

1. this is me, according to elle. i'm a little concerned about my entirely grey hair, but i must say that purple eyelashes are quite fetching on me.


2. this here is luce, whose name is sure to change tomorrow. i stitched her up for elle's birthday last month and only now realized that i hadn't yet made introductions here.


(and now you need a lucy too, eh? softie dolls are contagious that way. here's a free tutorial.)

3. meet my backyard leaves. (this blog gets more rudderless by the minute, what can i say.)

four o clock

4. cool air scented with woodsmoke makes me heady. here i'm relegated to only a distant whiff of the fragrant stuff, but back in our michigander days, the fellow across the street heated his house with a wood burning stove. september through april was olfactive bliss.

stocked up

this here is our backyard woodpile which never gets used due to our chimney's shortness. apparently, chimneys must be a certain height to properly vacuum out the smoke, and as i don't favor Death by Smoke Inhalation, our fireplace sits dank and cobwebby. alas. but doesn't the potential of that woodstack just sing to you?

5. does anyone else miss spelling lavender "lavendar"? just me? alrighty then.

(5b. soon we shall be spelling "separate" with an e, and then the world shall end.)

6. a sneak peek for crystal and john. you all are beautiful people.

gorgeous folk.

7. i'm immensely grateful for imaginary friends* like jenn and love and morgan, who keep me inspired and encouraged and challenged and sane. (ahem, morgan? you need to resurrect that blog of yours so i can throw some linkage your way.)

*the "imaginary" bit i got from patty...it's how her husband refers to her online friends. funny stuff.

8. i believe we have sufficiently covered my Love for Trees in the previous eleven posts, so let's consider this photo an addendum.

autumn's alchemy

happy tuesday, friends.

05 November 2009

good people.

a sneak peek for the harber family:

good people.

these are fine fellows. they made certain i left their house feeling very affirmed.

ps please extend my apologies to your ducks for repeatedly referring to them as geese. i will be sitting in the front row of the remedial class on avian identification.

03 November 2009

happy things. a list.

1. these fine folks:

an unlikely trio.

if looks could kill (or maim, at least)

fierce and famous.

spidey skills.

2. stacks of clean laundry. (which have this amazing tendency to morph into heaps of sweaty laundry in a picosecond, but we shall not dwell on that as this is a list of happiness.)

3. the perfect pairing that is white chicken chili and cornbread.

4. friends who visit hawaii and bring me back my favorite brand of chocolate covered macadamia nuts. (you know who you are, and i adore you.)

5. bunches of photo sessions with crazy fun families in these stunning fallish milieux.

speaking of which, here's a sneak peek for brian and carrie. this shot still makes me laugh quietly to myself whenever i happen across it:

she gets it from her father.


6. crafting new goodies for the shoppe. (they'll be up in a week or two, promise.)

7. blankets and hoodies and knee socks to cure cold toes and noses.

8. God. (see also matthew 13.44)

9. how my kids will play hide-the-socks, a game they invented where one person stashes away their (hopefully not too crusty) socks whilst the others wait in a nearby room. the waiters then return to launch a full-scale search and the hider cackles with glee at his or her remarkable sock-stashing skills. (further proof that my children do not need much in the way of toys, they just mostly need each other.)

10. daylight saving, but only when we fall back. (the springing forward should be nixed entirely. i am not about the springing.)

11. people who read my blog even though the main ingredient is Categorical Inanity. you all deserve a pumpkin muffin.

12. ooh, pumpkin muffins. with chocolate chips.

i am done now, i promise. happy tuesday.

26 October 2009



lately i've felt much like this tree, stripped clean but strangely hopeful.

the best is yet to come.

24 October 2009

catching up

the thing about mothering four kids is that come flu season, someone always seems to be ill. the past couple of weeks i've nursed two sickish littles, a role i truly don't mind but which also leaches any normalcy from my schedule.

they're mostly better now (i think), so i'm attacking my catch-up list with zeal.

near the top of my list are some photos i owe you, my faves from the last couple of senior sessions. today we'll highlight the beautiful brooke.

on the diamond


brooke is funny and authentic and completely comfortable in her own skin, everything i wish i would've been at eighteen.



she's bright and pretty and involved in everything, but she has a rare depth to her as well. brooke has weathered sharp sorrow and loss, and this makes her strength and serenity all the more remarkable.

black and white

i had the best time with brooke and her mom...the light was gorgeous, the company delightful. i am nothing short of blessed to have a job i so completely enjoy.

trestle bridge

thanks, ladies. and brooke, go change the world. we've been needing someone just like you.