Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You Can Find Him - A prayer for Levi

We dedicated Levi at church on Sunday. It was such a meaningful day for us, to entrust out little boy to God, promising to bring him up to love God and being able to hear our family and the church commit to do the same.  

Brian wrote a beautiful song to sing as a prayer for Levi; A prayer that he would find God's grace and goodness in every part of his life. 

You Can Find Him
By Brian James

You can find him in the fields
In the hills, in the valleys
You can find him in the streets
And the sidewalks of the city

You can find him in the trees
In the stones and the flowers
You can find him in the noise
Of the traffic if you’re ready to be loved

You can find him in the folds
Of your sheets and your blankets
You can find him in the shadows
In the corners of your bedroom

You can find him on the floor
With your toys and your treasures
You can find him in the grapes
And the water if you’re ready to be loved

Hallelujah you can find him
If you’re ready to be loved.

You can find him in the arms
Of your folks and your buddies
You can find him in the dark
When there’s no one else to hold you

You can find him in his Son
Who came down to love us
You can find him in the lonliest places
If you’re ready to be loved

Hallelujah you can find him
If you’re ready to be loved.

Monday, July 30, 2012

countless gifts of love

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother's arms,
Hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

- H. Genet

So very thankful, for...

- long and slow summer days
- spontaneous lunch with Katie
- air conditioners
- art documentary dates 
- a fun and productive meeting with the creative arts team, great plans
- thursday nights
- Ariel's company and baking help
- Levi's constant joy and when he can't decide who to snuggle with
- Brian, almost done with his summer job
- a husband who makes me smile and laugh all day
- an as "As Seen on TV" birthday party for Nana
- my brother-built and almost-done coffee table
- the olympic opening ceremonies (mostly Mr. Bean)
- a little boy who is friendly and loves everyone...but who always comes back to find his Mama for the last and longest snuggle.
- a beautiful and meaningful dedication at church for Levi, and a fun (a little early!) first birthday party (more on all of that later!), fun new toys and a wardrobe to clothe a growing boy
- bath time...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

for the Antonells

Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls...
 ~John Donne
I'm sure they have the kisses thing down, so I'll work on the letters...

Brian and I have been so enjoying our own love letter journal, that I decided to share the love and make one for my sister and her brand-spankin-new husband for a (late!)wedding gift. In this age of texts, emails and iphones, I like to encourage the art of handwritten love notes where ever I can and I hope this journal provides the perfect encouragement for them.  

TO MAKE: I bought canvas covered blank book, painted the cover with acrylic paint (a simple and modern "A" for "Antonell" design) and finished with a coat of mod podge.  I added the title page with scrapbook paper and letter stamps and created a heart bookmark with a "Dear Wife" side and a "Dear Husband" side, which can be used either way depending on who the note is for. 

Let the love letter writing begin!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Levi measures up

Levi's first birthday is coming up (!!) and I thought we'd start a tradition of measuring him on each birthday...for as long as he'll let me. :)

I found this idea for a portable growth chart and thought I'd make one for Levi. Not that I'm planning on moving out of the Kettle anytime soon, but just in case, this is much easier to move than a door frame!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

yellow paint, blank slate

I've had quite the redecorating bug lately. Which is kind of funny because I don't usually redecorate.

I like that the stuff in our house feels like it has always been there...just an extension of our life, our art and our esthetic.  It's filled with old things, things we love, things we make,  memories we cherish and some precious (not monetarily!) heirlooms. Everything has a story. I don't ever just redecorate something "just because". And I never have a plan. It just happens. Which is just how I like it. Organic, real, lived-in.

But lately, I've been a bit disenchanted with our bedroom. It's a wonderfully cozy little room, tucked away on the third floor with slanted walls and just one little window.  When we moved in to Sea Kettle, it was painted periwinkle blue. Which was fine, but I wasn't really inspired to do anything interesting up there; it ended up feeling rather cold and dark. And unfortunately, this room ends up being a catch-all room for stuff I don't know what to do with or loads of laundry that hasn't been cleaned or folded. So it was busy, mismatched (in a bad way) and haphazard...and we're looking more for cozy, calming, romantic, retreat. Summer time = intervention time.  

(this is an old picture. 
things got worse, much worse post-baby..
I just forgot to take a picture of it!)

After some plans fell through on Saturday, I found myself with some unexpected free time. With Brian's encouragement (cause I'd been talking about doing this FOREVER), I bought a gallon of a light sunny yellow paint and went to work covering the cold blue with some warmth and light (while Brian and baby took a nice loooong walk). And about 3 episodes of "Fresh Air" later...

The new color has totally changed the feel of the room. It actually feels sunny, even though it's definitely NOT. A couple of new lamps, a little bamboo rug ($12!) and a new white coverlet and things are definitely looking up. Clean, cozy, bright and fresh. yes.

Even though we want to keep things pretty simple up here, there are still a few things on our bedroom-transformation to do list, such as: 

- a few extra bed pillows for some color pop (made from vintage sheets or cloth napkins, perhaps?)  
- repaint the dressers? both of ours are in rough shape
- something interesting done with or on the slanted walls...Brian wants to hang candle chandelier type things
- new art/photos or some other interesting things to hang on the spaces on either side of next our bed
- a headboard? kind of hard with the air conditioner where it is, but it would be nice

Lots of ideas, but for now, we are basking in the new simplicity of the upstairs  room...and trying to keep the laundry monster at bay!

Stay tuned for the final reveal...

Monday, July 23, 2012

purchased and hid

Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I am
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
-C. T. Smith

Thankful this week, for

- my life, purchased and hid
- the farmer's market and running into lots of friends
- a painting breakthrough, and more inspiration
- choosing and arranging flowers for church, then taking them home :)
- my new yellow bedroom
- birthday breakfast for Nana
- a new art room
- Kimmie's hilarious texts from the so-called "hot air balloon festival"
- a sweet and simple party for Grandpa on Irene Ln(and Levi's first steps!! 7.22.12)
- this new silly smile... 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

porcelaine paint

I recently stumbled upon a fun new medium to play around with called porcelaine paint. Before this, I had no idea that a permanent paint existed that you could use on glass and ceramics without firing it. So cool! It comes in both bottles and pens. Depending on the kind, you either let it dry for 72 hours or put it in the oven for a little while to set it. Either way, it ends up being dishwasher resistant (but don't use a scrub brush! learned THAT the hard way). 

There are so many personalized and customized possibilities... mugs, plates, vases, coasters, you name it! After my Grandpa saw a tray I made for my sister, he went off and painted birds and flowers on all of the extra ceramic tiles he had from a bathroom renovation.  

I got this little yellow creamer at a second hand shop for a dollar. Thrift stores are a perfect place to find great, cheap things to paint.  
I've always loved my friend Lianna's name; it's pretty sounding AND pretty looking. I figured it would be the perfect subject for her personalized birthday tea cup. And she'll certainly never have to wonder which cup is hers. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Papa pants

With summer break comes summer cleaning. When I start a big clean, I find it hard to stop until it's ALL done. Needless to say, there's been quite a bit of organizing, scrubbing and purging going on in the Kettle lately (I'm not really a shopper..where does all of this stuff come from anyway?!). 
This week, in the midst of filling bags to give away, I came upon a pile of shirts that Brian didn't use anymore. 
I was kind of sad to see these familiar and memory-laden shirts go, so I tried to think of ways to repurpose them into something else we could use. 
I'd been meaning to try my hand at sewing some pants for Levi and these old shirts ended up being perfect for this project. The amount of fabric I was able to glean from a Brian-sized shirt was exactly what I needed for Levi-sized pants (and I was even able to use the bottom hem of the shirt for the bottoms of the pants - so no need to hem!). 

Using one of Levi's nicest fitting pairs of pants as a pattern (with the help of this simple tutorial), I was able to finish 3 pairs of pants in one afternoon (almost 4, but one pair ended up being a bit too small). 
Sewing pants always sounded way too hard for a novice seamstress like myself, but these were surprisingly simple.  Most of Levi's store bought pants are either too large around the waist or too short for my tall and skinny boy, so it's nice to have some light, perfectly fitted, comfy "Papa pants" for Levi to play in all summer long. 

Oh yeah and three pairs of paints for $0 is pretty cool too..
(and yes, I realize that the white pair will probably stay white for about 5 minutes. :) Those might have to be pajama pants..)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Know

(an artistic collaboration presented during church on Sunday. Poetry by Brian, I did the watercolors - inspired by the sermon text, Genesis 3:1-15)
I know that snake.

He curls himself around the firmly founded world.
He seems to bend the steady light and certain color.
I’ve seen him twist a right and ready good into a grief.
That solitary thief has stole our peace and let us suffer.

I know that fruit.

It hangs with heavy juice and heavy things to know.
It strains the branch it hangs from, and it’s ripeness pulls it lower.
I’ve seen it in my hands and I’ve tasted it before.
I shudder from the flavor; I am lonely when it’s over.

I know that leaf.

It stretches broad and makes for me a place to hide.
It stitches well to make a nearly seamless span of cover.
I wrap myself within it and my audience is blinded
From the shame that racks my body and the cold that makes me shudder.

I know those trees.

Their canopies create a shadow for the lost.
Their branches make a home beneath the knowing of the Lord.
We huddle close between them hoping he will overlook us.
His beckoning betrays the citadel these trees afford.

I know those feet.

They wander on the earth that bursts with grace and thorn.
They trample and they travel, gather dust and soil floors.
I know the stinging of the serpent when he strikes them in the heels.
I’ve seen them crush the serpent when our garden was restored.

Monday, July 16, 2012

celebrating six

Inexpressibly grateful to God for these six years of marriage, and this beautiful summery Sunday of surprises and celebration.

(an afternoon tour to 6 of our special places,
a handwritten letter and gift to open at each place,
 earrings, designed and handmade by Brian; with 6 beads, each color representing something important about each year
- a long, just-us-two, 4 course dinner at a favorite restaurant,
- a photo booth visit to end the day
- sweet times of reminiscing, dreaming of the future and giving thanks for the blessing of each other.
- a perfect, perfect day.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The "I love you because..." Book

This little book was Levi's Father's Day gift to Brian. Even though it's a little late for that particular holiday, this is a special anytime gift for someone you love and appreciate. 

Here's how we made it:

1. First I collected appropriate pictures for the text I wanted. I was collecting pictures of reasons Levi loves his Dad. 
2. Next, I added text on each photo using Picasa (a free photo-editing program).
3. I loaded the newly edited photos onto my thumb drive and printed them out at the local pharmacy.
4. Next, the photos were glued (in order) on pieces of colored card stock. I think we ended up with about 50 pages, counting backs and fronts.
5. Then I laminated each page, and trimmed if needed. Some of the pages came out bubbly, but not too terrible looking. 
6. Last, I punched two holes in each page and added metal binder rings to bind the book. 

Here are some examples of pages from our book...
Now, granted, I definitely chose the "hard" way of doing this. You could also just stick the photos into a nice looking photo album (you just need to have the right number of photos...I didn't want to leave any of my pages out). If you have more time, you could also upload your photos onto a website that creates the book for you. I kind of liked the handmade yet durable nature of my book, but the other options are definitely easier!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

a very awesome (and very pink) yard sale find

While out on a walk this weekend, I spotted a neighborhood yard sale and I was immediately drawn to an awesome old-fashioned telephone chair...not only because it was very PINK (although that definitely helped), but the design was really original and appealing. I immediately started imagining where I could put it and what sorts of lovely vignettes I'd put on that little table. 

I was even more convinced of my need of it when I heard "ten bucks and it's yours!". Um, SOLD! (Where was Brian when I picked up this bright pink piece of furniture, you might ask? Oh, he was there. Brian used to question my odd trash picks/yard sale purchases but now he claims that he just trusts me. What a guy...did I marry the right man, or WHAT. And he might even love this thing more than I do. Don't tell him I told you that.) 

Now, at first I didn't know if I loved the pinkness of the pink, but it's already growing on me. Even in the sea of red in my living room, it holds its own.  I may very well repaint it, but for now I'm kind of loving it's quirkiness. 

What do you think? Keep the pink? Destroy it NOW?

(Ariel, I'm afraid I didn't have the guts to tell you about this in person...haha)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Firework Bokeh Art

Last week, on our way out the door to the fireworks, I realized that this was THE PERFECT opportunity to play around with another bokeh filter on my camera (you may remember my first experiment on Valentines Day with a heart shaped filter). 

Despite certain family members rolling their eyes, I quickly cut a (kinda) firework-shaped filter out of some card stock and attached it to my lens with masking tape. It was haphazard to say the least, but it ended up working surprisingly well! 

(imagine this taped to the front of my lens..)

Even though they don't really look like fireworks at all, I love the crisp abstract nature to these photos. Brian claims that he wouldn't at all be surprised to see these blown up and shown in the MoMA. And he wants to use them as album art someday. So, there you have it. :)

That'll teach them to roll their eyes at my spontaneous bouts of creativity! :)  

(you'd like to make your own bokeh filter? here's a good tutorial)

Monday, July 9, 2012

in awe of the One

I'll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I'll stand, My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours
- "Stand" Hillsong

Giving thanks, for...

- church; celebrating together (and worshipful music, a poignant and timely sermon)
- baby in just a diaper, all day
- a new, very cool piece of pink furniture, from a neighbor's yard sale (and a new friend, maybe?)
- summer cleaning
- cold water
- Levi and a piece of watermelon
- 4th of July festivities
- the Point Block Party, an opportunity to serve our community
- that I don't need to ever worry
- good thrift finds (especially a new wooden walking toy for Levi for $3!)
- when it takes 3 times as long to shop because Levi smiles and waves to everyone he sees and we have to stop and chat to his new friends
- Brian and Jenny's birthday party, especially our after party walk around the neighborhood
- a Great Gatsby birthday party, a chance to dress up and a date with my honey (and for Aunt Katie and Uncle Matt for babysitting!)...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Levi on the 7s: 11 Months!

Out takes.. (not gonna lie, this photo project gets harder when baby gets older!)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

full fourth

An early morning "cuddle puddle", just us three; pack up the car and drive to Manchester-by-the-Sea for a small-town parade the family has never missed; then a big ol' cookout at my parents, the works..
..after a most-delicious-classic-fourth lunch, the McKenna kids (and husbands/boyfriends/fiances, of course) change into sneakers and play clothes and help host a block party with our church in the Point neighborhood in Salem (what was hoped to be a fun alternative to the choas that ensued on this day last year)
we finish our shift and the family parades back downtown for dinner at the Gulu-Gulu; then back to the Kettle, and tired Levi falls asleep for a bit on the couch; we hear that fireworks are starting early (thunderstorms are coming!), so we run power-walk down to the wharf (after I make the world's quickest bokeh filter!..more on that later), sleepy little boy is enamored with the lights and sounds, and somewhat guilty mama is thankful she decided to let her sleep deprived boy stay up to watch; only 10 minutes left of fireworks and it downpours, we hide under blankets watching the finale and listening to a seemingly quick rendition of "Stars and Stripes"; and we run home in a mob, tired, sopping wet but very happy...

America's birthday well spent! 

I think some longs naps and a trip to the beach are in order for today...