Wednesday, February 29, 2012

this and that

just a little bit of this and a little bit of that...

- I was in the middle of not one but two walks recently when I realized I was still in my slippers. I'm not kidding. Perhaps 6 months of not sleeping through the night is catching up to me?

- On a similar note, I was painting the other day and found myself cleaning my brush in my coffee. Yes, I was also drinking that coffee. No idea how long I was doing both. 

- We happened upon the 1996 version of Jane Eyre on Valentine's. As Brian put it, it was a "devastatingly romantic" and beautiful film. It practically ripped our hearts out. You should watch it.

- I haven't been posting much middle/high school art on the blog because I've been busy posting them on my new online art gallery over here 

- I've been painting a lot recently. Brian encouraged me to permanently carve out a space somewhere in the house, so that it would always be accessible. I decided to claim the corner of the kitchen by the windows. I've been working on a portrait of Brian, which has been a challenge, but a good exercise. I'm not a huge fan of portraiture, so I'm looking forward to getting into a new series that I'm planning based on a passage in Ezekiel. Let's just say I'll be immersing myself in the study of bones. 

- Brian usually takes Levi for an early morning stroll to our favorite bakery on Saturday mornings, so that I can get a little extra sleep (husband of the year award). They have recently befriended a homeless couple, who have taken to collecting little toys for Levi. He comes home with a new gift every week. 

- Ok, I don't know what's happening, but there is wayyyy to many little creatures living in our tiny nonexistent back yard. Besides the regular squirrel escapades, there's been skunks hanging out on the patio and an opossum scaring off visitors on our stairs.

- Levi has started scrunching up his nose and sniffing/hyperventilating when he gets excited (usually when he catches a glimpse of the cat). It's adorable.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


These clown paintings were inspired by the work of French expressionist, Georges Rouault (he also happens to be one of my very favorite artists...his paintings of Christ have influenced my own work quite a bit). 
(by Rouault)

The kids learned that Rouault studied under a stained glass artist when he was young and that this influenced his work, as evidenced by the thick black lines he painted around the figures and objects in his paintings. We also noticed how Rouault often painted patterned borders in his work. 

Despite my self-proclaimed "coulrophobic" students, I love how these came out. 
 So colorful and expressive!
(tempera on cardboard)

Monday, February 27, 2012

vacation thanks...

Thankful for the blessings of this february vacation week...

- time to rest and play and catch-up and create
- Brian home all day
- wedding prep with Mom and Katie
- a movie date and the babysitting skills of Uncle Matt and Auntie Kate
- lots of painting time, and a new easy-access set-up
- meandering salem walks
- longs talks
- an early St. Patty's Day feast and a bittersweet goodbye
- a somewhat painful but successful transition to the crib 
- a spontaneous morning in Portsmouth with a wintery walk, coffee shops, mysteries, art galleries and a photo shoot in a tree.
so much time to spend (uninterrupted!) with my wee family.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tea Cup Pin Cushion

In the midst of crafternoon preparations I stumbled upon a couple of extra tea cups in my hutch overstuffed with miscellaneous and mismatched dishes. I stuck a candle in one for a quick decoration for my tea-themed party and I made a pin cushion with the other.

I whipped this up in 15 minutes with stuff lying around my craft room. I chose the burlap since it is already hole-y, but you could probably use any fabric.  Also, I found a big-ish button with extra holes and thought it would be a perfect way to organize my sewing needles, as it can be hard to find them when they're mixed in with the other pins. Now I simply stick them in the button holes.

You could have such fun mixing and matching fabrics, buttons and cups! 

There. A perfect little gift for the seamstresses (or tailors?) in your life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

he paints!

I'm afraid I couldn't wait any longer to introduce Levi to the fun of mark-making and color-playing. Last week, he finger painted his very first piece of art; a valentine for his Papa. He LOVED getting hands all painty and he kind of seemed like he knew what he was doing. 

I guess he's just a natural. 
There more where that came from, little Levy. 
You just wait

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

(ok, so maybe there weren't actually crumpets...)

On Saturday, some of my favorite ladies gathered in the Kettle for crafts, tea, sweets and good chats. Between the lot of us, we made many wonderful things; glass magnets, bleach pen decorated pot holders, a cork board, clay kitties, kirigami cards and pillow covers. 
I had such fun and would love to host a "crafternoon" like this monthly. A modern version of the sewing circle or the quilting bee, perhaps? (I might have to make the next be "vegetable" themed, though.... I ate wayyyyy too many cream puffs.) 

Monday, February 20, 2012


Thankful for, 

- a week off and time to play and rest with my favorite boys
- those finishing-each-others-sentences and I-know-exactly-what-you're-thinking days
- an afternoon of friends, treats and creativity
- Dad's "Lintastic" party
- a deliriously tired, but deliriously happy baby
- a candlelit church "preview"
- story time at the PEM and some fun companions
- the boys on a walk, time to paint
- Sunday nights before Monday holidays
- talking to Kimmie
- Brian's energetic and heartfelt, "It is Well"
- a fancy valentine dinner and grandparents who care for the baby
- preparing the house for guests
- sleepy smiles
- Charlie playdates
- daily dates (we could get used to this...)
- forgiveness and some seemingly never-ending but healthy processing
- flowers filling Sea Kettle
- a first swing...

(find more thanks-listing at A Holy Experience)

Friday, February 17, 2012

multi-tasking man

(this is what happens when Brian tries to tell me a story and put the baby in his pajamas at the same time...)

(Joining with SouleMama) 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

sea kettle letters

We are 
letter writers, my Brian and I. So this year his valentine gift was a love letter journal of sorts.

I had a canvas covered blank book and I painted silhouettes of us writing in the windows of Sea Kettle. Then I created a simple reversible bookmark to let each other know when the "mailbox" is full; a Dear Husband side and a Dear Wife side. I included some small envelopes and a glue stick just in case we want to add any other additions to our little book of love. 

I love it, he loves it, and we look forward to filling it to the brim with notes, encouragements, prayers, poems, dream and plans, memories to keep...or maybe just a whole lotta sweet nothings. 

(and won't it be fun to look back at in 50 years?)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

speaking of love...

He smiles when I walk in the room,
reaches out when he wants to be held or hugged, 
joyfully (and forcefully!) "pats" me when he's excited, 
slowly blinks those big, beautiful "I love you" eyes, 
giggles when I give him eskimo kisses,
happily buries his face in my chest to cuddle,
 is utterly attentive and overjoyed when I talk to him, 
hugs hard and kisses often.  

It's pretty swell when your baby starts to show their love for you.
It's the best, really.
Sleepless nights, long cries, life complications, less "me" time, messiness, laundry piles, worries - 

all forgotten with one long slobbery, open-mouthed baby kiss.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines

As the Father has loved me, 
I have loved you. 
Abide in my love.
- Jesus 
(John 15:9)
(in honor of valentines, been having good fun with my homemade heart bokeh filter)

Monday, February 13, 2012


This is love: 
not that we loved God, 
but that he loved us and sent his Son..
1 John 4:10

Thankful for - 

- real and lasting and perfect love
- Levi and Papa playing guitar together
- a surprisingly successful surrealist lesson
- bokeh filter fun on a warm winter's walk
- our daily dates; paper sculptures, chinese take-out and origami, a documentary, boardgames, tea time.
- an Italian potluck with our High Rock North Shore fam (and walking to church!)
- friday night frappucinos courtesy of Mom and Dad
- a little artistic renaissance and paintings planned
- a surprise gift in the mail and promise of a well-fed baby (thanks to Aunt Lisa and cousin Alex!)
- coffee in Boston with a Yemen girl; good chats, lattes, purple tulips, brownstones and finally some flurries to boot.

(find more thanks-listing at A Holy Experience)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Abstract Paper Sculptures

My elementary kids have been exploring the principle of balance as they created abstract sculptures out of colored paper (inspired by this lesson).  We talked about how there are many different ways to make things balanced.  Artists utilize elements such as size, color, shape and value to create balanced compositions.  This lesson is also a fun introduction to abstract art; it's a great way for kids to experiment using colors, shapes and lines without feeling the need to make it to look like something in particular (although some kids started making their abstract art into "playgrounds". I let it slide. haha) 

We used some square pieces of white cardboard for our base and I made lots of strips of brightly colored papers for them to start with. They could also cut their own paper however they wished. We then discussed and explored what sorts of creative ways we could use the paper; crimp, fold, curl, tab, weave...the sky is the limit!  We simply used glue sticks to attach. 

This was one of those lessons where EVERYONE felt successful, the art came out beautifully and I felt liked they learned something valuable. It will surely be a staple in my art room in the future!

Aren't they amazing?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Heartifying the Kettle

I don't know if it's just my way of getting rid of the winter doldrums, but I always feel the need to decorate for Valentines.  Here's how I heartified the Kettle this year...

Monday, February 6, 2012


Still listing, still counting, still thanking...

- February
- an abundance of fleece
- Brian's strong hands when my necks needs a rubbin'
- saturday morning tidying to the tune of "Wait, Wait", "Car Talk" and "This American Life"
- pillow talk
- my beautiful finished matron of honor dress, skillfully made by Mom
- nickname contests
- finishing my evaluations, despite interruptions (albeit cute interruptions)
- surprise Big C visits
- superbowl poetry 
- a wee bit of alone time 
- a warm (?!) February sunset with my loves, a game of twister, breakfast in bed
- perfectly ripe avocados
- Sugar Mag breakfasts, bravery to forgo the carrot pancakes to try the decadent Georgia's French Toast
- happy students, colorful art
(find more thanks-listing at A Holy Experience)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

an early valentine, a month of dates

So far, post-baby dates have been rather few and far between. Usually it's just easier to get in those comfy clothes and hunker down for a nap or another episode of "The Office" rather than to try to get it together (maybe even get a little dressed up, heaven forbid!)and do something special.

Brian and I were blessed to have 10 years of "dating" behind us (pre and post wedding, of course) by the time we had Levi.  We are both hopeless romantics and we have always been pretty good at making special time for each other. Those years were spent taking walks on the beach, dancing in the rain, playing music, hiking mountains, making art, donning cute sun dresses and bow ties, fancy dinners, picnics, art museums. Brian almost always planned them and they were almost always surprises.  Quite a feat. I think I owe him one... :)  

I'm sure we'll soon get back into the groove, but money is tighter, the baby doesn't take a bottle very well for babysitters, we're sleep deprived, we're quite taken with staring at our beautiful know the drill. 

Anyway. I thought that this would be the perfect time to do a little jump-start on the Jameses dating life. I created an early Valentine treat for Brian; a calendar of sorts with 29 dates, one for each day in February. Think along the lines of an advent calendar for the month of love

Some dates are simple and we have everything we need right here at home. Some are more complex and involve babysitters and more planning. I'm afraid I can't spill the beans on specifics quite yet (every once in a while my sweet husband graces the blog with his presence) but I have to say, date number one was a smashing success and I can barely wait for our next. ;) 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

this and that

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...
  • as you may have gathered from yesterday's post, the little guy continues to *despise*  solid food. He dramatically coughs it out as we gave him poison, looks at us like "How DARE you?" and then screams bloody murder. I'm taking suggestions...
  • Yesterday, Brian received an early Valentine. Let's just say, February's gonna be fuuuun in the James household.
  • I'll admit, I get a little giddy when all of the tax documents come in the mail. There's something sickingly fun about entering in all of the information and then watching the amount of money in the box go up and down. That is, until it just keeps going down...haha. I'm hoping that my dramatic pay cut and the cute little tax deduction I gave birth to will bode well for us. :)
  • the baby's new favorite thing is jumping in his jumpy-thing (do they have a name?) while watching the washer and dryer go round and round. It keeps him occupied for hours, uh, 10 minutes (but that's hours in baby time)
  • Brian is utterly convinced, to a frightening degree, that his recent haircut is the sole reason that his students are being more attentive in class. He DOES look more like a drill sargent now than a long haired hippy poet, I suppose. But, really??
  • Levi has started getting very excited whenever he catches a glimpse of the kitty. Dmitri, however, is still wary of the new funny-sounding, limb-flailing, attention-hogging mini-human.
  • I let Levi open mouth kiss me (on the cheek, mind you) with gobs of snot and drool running off his face. Yes, yes, I do. 
  • I'm thinking of planning a "Tea and Crumpets and Crafts" party during February vacation. First, I need to figure out what crumpets are.
  • Speaking of tea and crumpets...Downton Abbey! (spoiler alert) Oh my gosh...Daisy married William?! William's dead!? Matthew can't have kids!? Can't walk?! The countess has a heart!? Mary's really gonna marry that awful man whom she doesn't love?! Bates still isn't free to marry Anna?! Mrs. Bates is still on an evil rampage?! Will dear Mrs. Crawley save the day?! ...Oh how I love my proper British soap opera.