29 January 2010

26 January 2010

free to a good home.

aprons, hurrah!
while experimenting with apron styles and methods of construction, i quickly stitched up a matching mom and daughter (or aunt and niece, etcetera) apron set from a delectable cupcake print. the stitching on these are not quite up to the standards i'd require to sell them in my shop, but they are functional and super cute and would love to hang out in your kitchen and bake lemon sponge cake with you.

any takers? i'll mail them to the first person who leaves me a comment saying that you'd like to have them. (please be sure to give me a method to contact you for a shipping address.)

* * *

newish news: in another bold move to Organize My Life, i've opened an additional etsy shop devoted solely to my textile goods: skirts and aprons and dresses and such. right now i've a dozen or so pieces listed, but i'll be adding more as i destash, and also as i cut into some beautiful nicey jane prints. (i tried, internet. quite valiantly. but in the end they were too bright and sunshiney and joyful, and i found i simply couldn't resist new fabric.)

please meet charlotte and elise, the first two aprons available in the shop:


as with my jewelry shop, all income from sweetTea clothier shall help us meet our adoption expenses.

may your tuesday be full of color.

25 January 2010

Good Things.

1. bhf's.

is there any piece of clothing quite as fantastic as a hoodie? it's all fleecy warmth and softness, like a wearable hug, plus you can pull your hands up into the sleeves and keep them toasty for the whole of january.

right now my bhf is in the laundry, and i am missing it. i am composing country songs in my head about it. if you know me in Actual Real Reality, you know exactly which hoodie i mean (yes, the oversized grey one with the red top-stitching) because i wear that comfy thing so close to always that you secretly believe it is the only outergarment i own. which is, well, largely the case now that you mention it.

dear spin cycle, please do hurry.

2. volcanoes and classic sci-fi.

play doh & books
during my favorite parts of saturday, elle fashioned play-doh bracelets and pink volcanoes with me, while my oldest boy read quietly beside us at the kitchen table. (and can i just say? there's something mighty satisfying in watching my son devour a book i relished at his age.)

which reminds me:
If you have never said "Excuse me" to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time. ~Sherri Chasin Calvo

(ok, so i had to look up 'fireplug;' it's another name for fire hydrant.)

3. google.

clearly i'd know nothing without it.

4. togetherness.

this past christmas, the kiddos opened some nifty gifts. among the most cherished were coupons from the hubby's parents, good for A Golf Outing With Grandpa, or A Fishing Trip, or An Afternoon Shopping With Grandma. today grandpa owens traveled the nearly three hours here to take my littlest boy for a rollicking outing at chuck e cheese's. em played arcade games and purchased cotton candy and managed six pieces of pizza, but best of all, he cashed in on some Exclusive Grandpa Time.

what great people.

22 January 2010

flakey tute.

i didn't know if y'all were serious. you could just be flattering a girl, after all. but a few of you asked for some snowflake making classes and considering that:

a. every time i spot a square snowflake, a small part of my soul dies,
b. it's friday night, the hubby is not present, and i have been left to my own devices,

i thought a snowflake tutorial might be a wise idea (with the bonus of keeping me out of trouble. and also out of the secret chocolate stash. which generally amounts to the same thing.)

so. Snowflakes 101.

disclaimer: since i didn't know which three people might actually reference this someday, i opted to Play It Safe and structure this as if you have never cut a snowflake before. (and no, the 33 square snowflakes you made in second grade don't count. in fact they're like negative snowflakes. so if all you've ever made are snowsquares, you are LEAGUES behind in snowflake points. grab yourself some scissors and pull up a chair.)

for the rest of y'all who already knew the basics and just wanted a helpful tip or two, this is going to be major overkill, so please get all your insulted feelings over with right now so we can mosey on through the tute.

are we good?

alrighty then.

step 1
snow how-to 1
you need a sheet of paper and a pair of scissors. (with the paper, the thinner the better. this here is standard computer paper, which Generally Does Not Bode Well for dainty flakes.)

fold the paper to make a triangle, like so.

step 2

snow how-to 2
trim the leftover bit. rotate the triangle so the fold is on the bottom.

step 3
snow how-to 3
fold in half. open.

step 4
snow how-to 4
now comes the tricksy part, but i have faith in you. we need to fold this baby in thirds, so eyeball it and loosely fold till it works out right. then strengthen your creases.

step 5
snow how-to 5
flip over. fold in half vertically.

step 6
snow how-to 6
trim the extra triangly bits (cut straight across the line), then cut a meandering curve or angled line across the top (this will form the outline of your snowflake x 12).

step 7
snow how-to 7
aha. the fun part.

alternating sides, cut shapes from the triangle. you must end on the side where you began; DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE.

tip 1: you want mostly space, very little paper left. you can already tell here that i'm going to end up with too much paper.

tip 2: try a mixture of curves and angles to see what suits. follow the lines of the shapes you've already created so that your remaining web of paper is fairly uniform in width.


step 8
snow how-to 8
open. (i can tell this is going to be too spider-webby for my tastes, which just figures, but since i photographed this much already i'm sticking with the homely guy.)

step 9
snow how-to 9
tada! so ok, a bit webby, but in a pretty way, right? like a perhaps-charlotte-will-be-tempted-to-move-in sort of way? well. so much for being the Resident Expert on Flakes.

anyhow, drop me a note if you make some of your own, but please do not be cruel and purposely link to a snowsquare (i'm talking to you, jeremy. flee from temptation.).

let it snow.


19 January 2010

far off places.

mystical station : russian rolling stock : railroad weeds : not even for a day : railroad symphony : city desert : the start of the tunnel : holiday express : this is an emergency

there's something about railways, about an empty set of tracks scuttling off around a wooded curve or threading out to be swallowed by the horizon. they speak to me of Far Off Places, of lands undiscovered and yet so much like home. in my head i know that if i set off walking east along those tracks, eventually i'd hit maybe baltimore, philly, new york. west and if i wandered far enough i could spend the day in salt lake city.

but my heart takes one look at that trail of steel and believes in lothlorien. narnia. the shire.

my wise friend morgan pegged a word to this yearning, this visceral longing for something not yet seen but more familiar to us than our own skin. sehnsucht, she called it.

That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead...the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves. (cs lewis)


Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee. (st augustine)

sehnsucht, then. that sounds about right.

17 January 2010

this is the year. [adoption update]

realistically, i know to expect a lot of waiting. that's pretty much the one thing i've been guaranteed about the adoption process: we will wait. and also wait. and then after that? wait some more.

but i've secretly harbored this hope that our case will be the anomaly, the one that progresses like a whirlwind and ends up with our fifth child tucked safely in bed just down the hall in, say, two months' time. because we all know someone with a miracle story like this, and so we think, we hope: it can be done. that will be us.

but yeah, so far we're the ninety-nine point nine percent. and so we wait.

[in december we were accepted into holt's ethiopia program. currently, we're waiting for our scheduled doctors' appointments to happen; we are all required a physical assessment before our homestudy can begin.]


on wednesday a friend echoed the very phrase i've been turning in my head, over and again: this is the year. this is the year we meet our next little, the year our family stretches and grows in ways that will be amazing and exhausting and wonderful.

i'm so, so glad.

15 January 2010







sometimes grace is a ribbon of mountain air that gets in through the cracks.

—anne lamott

13 January 2010


life is oftentimes a curious mix of joy and sorrow.

on the one hand, we have soup. january is a celebration of soup, a happy procession of tortilla and black bean and zuppa toscana. last night was potato chowder, hearty and thick with cheese. i love giving soup to my kids (though they demonstrate less enthusiasm receiving it); it feels like the caloric equivalent of a sweater.

speaking of sweaters and happy, take a gander at little fien in dark grey melee, and this cable yoke jacket by cotton and cloud (aka Current Most Compelling Reasons to Take up Knitting in 2010).

also happy: we have a winner for monday's drawing. amanda mckinley, this is your lucky day. (and i even know amanda in real actual life, which is increasingly rare and also very fun.)

but then the sorrow.

sorrow takes shape in horror and aching and loss, both large scale and private, and grief has a way of knocking the breath from you. today, this week, i am sharply aware of the suffering of people dear to me, and i am so sorry.

11 January 2010

etcetera. and so forth.

1. paper snowflakes are one of the simplest crafts, but they pretty up a house like little else. if you sew them straight through, you can tack up strings of flakes beside a window like so:

papery snow.

2. actual snow, however, i am not so good with. i find snowscapes gorgeous but wrought with peril, and if there were an award for The Worst Driver In the History of Inclement Weather, i'd have a case of trophies gracing my garage.

so when things go from this

progression: before.

to this

progression: after.

i take it as a cue to stay indoors. (however, in the hubby's absence i shall be ferrying the kiddos to book club and sports practices, so y'all may want to stay off the roads between the hours of 4-9 pm. this has been a public service announcement.)

3. if your pantry resembles mine, it holds a stash of leftover candy canes doomed to languish till march, at which point they shall be unceremoniously dumped in the trash.

however. may i present to you option b: otherwise known as yum.

oreos + melted choc chips + crushed candy canes (just stick 'em in a zip loc bag and hammer them. for real.).

4. perhaps i have been residing in that beautiful land called Denial, but i am only now coming to terms with the fact that just because i graduated from mililani high (class of '94, holla!) sixteen years ago does not actually mean i am done with homework. in fact, i have a good dozen years of math facts and spelling words and science projects ahead of me, otherwise known as Responsible Parenting.

(and let me just say it is Tricky Stuff providing just the right amount of scaffolding to help your child learn to excel independently. it would be far more expedient to do most of the work myself...i would totally ace fourth grade.)

5. fun fact about nic #206: my weekly total of miles on the treadmill is a direct measurement of the quality of my reading material.
0-10 miles = sad waste of a perfectly good tree.
10-25 miles = liked the books enough to finish them, but i didn't lose any sleep.
25-40 miles = so help me rhonda, i am going to pilfer these guys from the library and escape across the border.

treading the mill.

6. yesterday was my little brother's birthday. he's 29. i'm thinking that maybe at thirty i'll stop calling him 'little,' but yeah. probably not.

i found some really cute (by which i mean Completely Horrid) photos of my brothers and me as kids, but sadly Public Humiliation was not on today's agenda, so you don't actually get to see them.

(happy birthday, poley.)

serious talent.

sometimes elle and i do talent shows, wherein mostly she twirls things and i recite shel silverstein circa 1985, thank you third grade speech assignment.

8. happiest monday to you.

ps last day to drop your name in for some custom stamped jewelry. don't miss out!

08 January 2010

outside : inside

this theme, widespread across the blogosphere but likely made popular by soulemama, is especially poignant come winter. it has something to do with the stark beauty out-of-doors contrasted with the affability of domestic life, cozy and familiar.


just beginning.


simple pleasures.

she wears winter well.

and in:

face for radio.

serious competition.


in yellow.

canvases everywhere.

elle and i spent the morning traipsing about in the snow. she loves shuffling through the banks and drifts, how her knees disappear completely.

indoors meant bowls of gnocchi soup, a harrowing round of monopoly deal with my boys, sunshiney fabric, and another five minute skirt**.

joy everywhere.

**which, of course, took ten minutes at the least since i hail from the school of Topstitch or Perish. regardless, the yellow is all-out lovely.

07 January 2010



january is good for introspection.

it has long been my mantra to Live Deliberately, and this requires checking in on myself every now and again. assessing. refining. nudging my hindquarters back on course when i've veered off into Aimless Wanderings.

it's a time to begin again, but not from scratch. hopefully i build on the januaries prior and arrive at something a bit taller or sturdier or more daring.

i can't really know what this year has in store, but with the adoption process looming large before us, i imagine it will require much in the way of trust and fortitude. and hope. plus a whole lot of steady trudging, of putting one weary foot in front of the other until we arrive at something that feels like home.

so what looms before you this year? what New and Grand Things have you resolved to do or be or learn?

because you love me so, please share with me one of your 2010 resolutions (six words or less if you can swing it). and because i adore you so, in a few days, say monday? midnight? i'll draw a name at random from the comments and stamp your new mantra (or whatever else you choose) on a custom piece (keychain, necklace, you decide) like so:

live simply.

stack your odds of winning:
-if you follow this blog (yonder right), i automatically throw your name into all giveaways. same with fans of sweetTea on facebook.
-as usual, tweet, fb, or blog this giveaway with a link and i'll give you an extra entry per each. just be sure to let me know as i am only sporadically omniscient.

bonne chance, and happiest of thursdays to you.

03 January 2010

in which i am (uncharacteristically, but still) complaisant.

so a couple of you requested a template for the handmade envelopes, and you know me, i aim to please. except for the times i aim to be mulish and contrary. those are long days for all of us, by which i mostly mean the hubby, who at this point in our marriage has racked up so many bonus points in heaven, he could cash in for eighteen holes with, like, moses. he owes me.

but right, the template. hop on over here to download a pdf or text file, or to print. (and yes, i know, aren't we professional with our wide-rule notebook-paper templates? what can i say. this is the kind of paper that lives at my house.)

breaking news from other parts of my life: i received the best presents this christmbirthasday (that is what you call it when your birthday and christmas happen together-like, and also your memory is horrid, and so you cannot recall which gifts went with which event). i mean, i gave some pretty smashing gifts, please let it be known, but the stuff i got? perfection. ducks, for example, from my kiddos. and onolicious goodies from back home, and organic chocolate, and fundage for our adoption, and chocolate covered coffee beans, and also handmade star-shaped marshmallows.

seeing stars

these guys are melty and light and oh so pretty, powdered up in cocoa and confectioner's sugar. i make up happy songs about them in my head.

and because i am embracing the aiming-to-please motif, i now bequeath you linkage to arguably the best homemade marshmallow recipe in the history of decadence. you are most welcome.