Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Summer List - 2012 Edition

With the first school-year things starting to end, I'm beginning to really itch for summer. Last night, in an attempt to indulge my impatience, I worked on our annual "Summer List". 
This year, I left some room at the bottom, since I always want to add things later on. I just love how our list helps us make the most of precious summer days. Bring 'em on!

What's on your summer list? Anything amazing that I'm missing?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Do-it-Myself Bachelorette Sash

In preparation for Katie's bachelorette party, Kimmie and I decided to hand-make a sash and crown.  Our plan was to make the sash a little bit classy and the crown a little bit wacky.  While Kimmie worked hard to de-classify our poor bride with an over-the-top and weirdly shaped "crown", I decided to hand stitch a sash with materials I had around the craft room. I found a bunch of cream cotton gauze that I thought would be perfect for the occasion. Light, airy, dreamy, romantic.

The design is simple and quite easy since you don't really need to hem the gauze.  I ripped a long piece (about 3 inches wide) of gauze and sewed it together at the ends on an angle, using myself as a model to figure out an appropriate sizing. I embroidered "Bride" with gray embroidery thread and then created a bunch of fabric flowers by tacking together 3 or 4 circles of different sizes together with a bead in the middle. I bunched them up around the "Bride" lettering and then interspersed them around the rest of the sash. 

Rather cute and shabby-chic, if I do say so myself.
I know's it's not like me, but I didn't get a great picture of Katie in her sash...thank heaven for the 60s photo filter. Kinda saves this awful photo. kinda. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012


We're still reeling and resting from our long wedding weekend...beautiful day, beautiful bride, beautiful wedding. More to come, but for now we're going to relax and enjoy this Memorial Day. 
Enjoy the day!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

wedding weekend, commence!

Starting NOW, we're going, going, going non-stop till Katie and Matt's wedding on Saturday afternoon! 
Bachelorette extravaganza (hosted by the sisters), manicures, steaming dresses, rehearsal, dinner, girly preparations, pictures. Wedding are such a production, aye? I'm keeping quite busy trying to be the best Matron of Honor I can be and figuring out how to feed and nap the baby in between our non-stop schedule. (!!)

Speaking of which, you're pretty much not going to believe the outfit I found for Levi. Three words. Knickers. Suspenders. Bowtie...Only the best for Auntie. Who said dressing boys isn't as fun? pish. 

It's crazy marrying off your little sister. Little sisters are supposed to stay little. Can I hear an Amen?

But, since she has done gone and grown up, I have to admit that I'm happy overjoyed for her. I truly believe that she and Matt were made for each other. I know he'll take care of her and love her well. And give me lots of adorable nieces and nephews (which is the most important part, of course). ;) 

Ok, I gotta run. Kimmie and I need to deck Sea Kettle in pink bacheloretty goodness. 

Have a lovely weekend, friends.

*photos taken by Kimmie in 2009

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Two days a week, while their mommies take turns going to work, these boys get to hang out together. 
Way back in September, when Levi was only a month old, Evan would try to take care of his little friend in whatever ways a 15 month old could. He would rock him in his car seat and give him a pacifier when he fussed.  
Now that Levi is more aware and mobile, you can clearly see who his favorite friend is. He smiles BIG when he sees his buddy and spends most of the time they are together following him around, trying to catch a hug or a little "chat". 
Levi will always be the oldest sibling in the James family, so I'm very glad he has this time with such a sweet "big brother". (and I like to think it keeps him humble.) ;)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

graduation card 2012

This past weekend was chock full of celebrations and get-togethers; two of which were graduation parties. I love giving (and receiving!) homemade cards, so I dug through my pretty-paper scrap basket for some inspiration. 

Here's what ended up being my card design for the graduates of 2012...
(materials: page from an old book, black scrapbook paper, thick string, sequin, glue and scissors)

Monday, May 21, 2012

the critical thing

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
G. K. Chesterton


- Levi and I together on the couch for a looong, blissful afternoon nap. 
- lots of parties, graduations and birthday galore
- babies in overalls and Levi's new cap
- saturday morning date, enjoying friendship, the weather and our neighborhood with Ariel
- errands with Kimmie, fun plans coming together for our sister
- a fun maternity shoot with the Blakes
- clean laundry
- sunlight shapes
- the "closet of doom" cleaned and organized
- Phil's pulled pork and roasted asparagus
- attending one of my 1st graders art birthday party (and that she insisted that Mrs. James sit right next to her...heart.melt.)
- our prayer of sending from the 3rd service; sitting with the Russells and Rhema's art
- Highrock North Shore's first service!

Friday, May 18, 2012

I'll eat you up; I love you so! *

(Joining with SouleMama, photography by papa)

* from "Where the Wild Things Are"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

this and that

these days, I'm...

- loving the look of the weather forecast for the foreseeable future. Sunny 70s? Yes, please!

- SLEEPING.THROUGH.THE.NIGHT (a little early morning milk-snack at 5:30, but he goes back to sleep for an hour or two. I'll take it!)

- chasing the boy, trying to keep him out of danger. Iron fireplace stokers? large dust bunnies? small esophagus-sized stones? wires? steep stairs? trying to dive head first off of beds? Yes, these are some of his favorites. :/

- walking around the house in heels, I need to practice before the wedding!! (Sorry, Katie. Your Matron of Honor is totally going to trip down the aisle. classy, I know.)

- setting up the school-wide art show for my elementary school kiddos; hoping I get it all done in time

- gearing up for the last art projects of the school year (crazy!!)

- trying to arm my friend Bekah with my favorite projects/tips/tricks before she leaves to teach art to kids in Thailand

- thankful for sweet gifts from Rwanda; tea, a colorful animal-mobile, batiks

- smitten with "spring Brian"

- planning and preparing for the first service of our new church plant, working with the creative arts team to create a beautiful and welcoming space (won't you join us?)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jon and Sarah

Tis the season of love in the McKenna family!  Not only is my sister Katie getting married next week (!!), but my brother also recently got engaged to his fiance, Sarah. Last weekend we walked around the neighborhood to shoot some engagement photos. 

It started out all well and good....

...until Jonny decided to take the reins and insist that I take photos of them with all of the high schoolers taking their prom shots on the Salem Common. 

Little brothers never change, do they? 

These are his favorites... :)
Congratulations, Jon and Sarah!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

felt heart bookmarks

Inspired by this image, I created these simple felt and fabric bookmarks for my moms and grandmoms for a Mother's Day treat.  Depending on the fabrics you use, this could be a perfect gift for Valentine's, Father's Day, Birthdays..whatever! Technically it wouldn't have to be shaped like a heart, either.  As long as it fits on the corner of a book, it would work just fine.  
Note: When you sew the layered fabric hearts on top, make sure not to sew through the bottom heart so you still have a nice pocket for the book page to slip into. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

mother's day blessings

 thankful for-

- my first (baby-out-of-the-womb) Mother's Day!
- breakfast in bed, snuggled with my boys
- love notes, all throughout the day, addressed to "Dearest Mamamamamama", "My Crafty Mommy", "My Cuddle-Worthy Mother" and "My Mother who is also some sort of congenial relation to my Father" and "Thou Whimsically Spirited Mother of Mine"
- lots of special treats from Brian Levi...a tiny vase, Raspberry Shrub, games to play together, materials to weave baskets and sweetly smelling soap.  
- kind texts, emails, phone calls, hugs, cards and flowers from friends and family. 
- brunch with the Jameses, dinner with the McKennas
- Brian. Because he made me a Mom and helps me every day to be the best mom I can be. 
- Levi. Because he's my son, I love who he is, and he makes me feel like the luckiest Mom in the world. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

not a bad day at the office

(my "Nature's Sketchbook" class, enjoying a beautiful spring morning, carefully observing and sketching the world around them)

Monday, May 7, 2012

whatever comes

In the harvest feast or the fallow ground,
My certain hope is in Jesus found
My lot, my cup, my portion sure
Whatever comes, we shall endure.
Whatever comes, we shall endure
-S. McCracken

Thankful this week. For...

- my little Levi, 9 months! (will post "Levi on the 7s" tomorrow!)
- a misty morning walk with Kirsten and baby Elliott
- my closet and Levi's nursery cleaned and organized
- another graduate class checked off the list for Bri, his "victory lap" around the Common
- my BFF, 12 weeks pregnant with Levi's BFF ;)
- lots of new hand-me-downs for the boy
- Rachel over, armed with plants and coffee
- a surprisingly healthy and vibrant garden
- when Levi stops his constant exploration just to sit and cuddle with mama
- Kimmie home earlier than I thought (!!)
- lots of energy and inspiration for new art lessons
- new cuddle sacks for new babies, Annie's baby shower and getting to see my Profe!
- worshipping with our neighbors at the Russian Orthodox Church, beautifully sung liturgy, countless candles, art everywhere, a friendly welcome, promise of collaboration in serving our city. 
- watching the Kentucky derby with Levi, with our derby hats on, of course... (by the way, who names their horse "I'll Have Another"? silly.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

kid and his kitty

Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball o' fur?  
~Irish Saying

(Levi's thoughts exactly.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

this and that

These days, I'm...

- trying to keep up with Levi as he explores every nook and cranny of the Kettle (trying to eat every dust bunny he can get his chubby little hands on)
getting used to how much less I can get done in a day with a mobile baby. yeah, so much for doing a little lesson planning while baby sits next to me playing...and he's gone!
- counting down the days till Kimmie comes home from Africa (10!)
- looking forward to the first service of Highrock North Shore! (our commissioning service is pictured below)
- playing music, watching Levi happily rock, sing and clap
- excited to have an already full roster for my art classes next year and a waitlist to boot! wowza.
- wishing Levi didn't have to be sick...again. 3rd cold of the season? 4th? the sleepless nights of coughing all run together...
- wondering why his favorite toy is now a lint brush. gross.
- thankful for my selfless, romantic, hilarious, best-friend-of-a-husband - don't even get me started on this one.
- angry at the resident squirrel(s) who insist on uprooting my poor little pansies over and over and over again. 
- wondering if I'm almost finished with my "Salem" painting
- watching kitty and boy's blossoming friendship
- loving my "Nature's Sketchbook" workshop. and watching kids carefully observe, explore and draw the world around them. 
- excited that it's May! sister Katie's wedding month! huzzah!
- wishing I could bottle up "8 months". loving Levi's joyful smiles, friendly personality, unhindered curiosity, his altogether huggable kissable self - can it get any better than this?
- completely and utterly thankful for these full, beautiful, blessing-filled days

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

guest post

*edited. Sorry the link wasn't working earlier...

Recently I was asked to guest post for a toddler art series over at Little Homestead in the Desert. Check out one of my favorite art projects for kids!