Thursday, September 27, 2012

a wee art studio

Last week I stumbled upon yet another great trash pick here in the neighborhood. This perfectly Levi-sized wooden table was on the side of the road, so I brought it home and went to work creating a little work table/art studio for Levi. Everything else (other than the soup cans) I already had lying around, so this was an almost-free project.  

Levi loves his new set-up and I've been pleasantly surprised at how long he will sit at his table coloring (granted, he also enjoys climbing on it! working on that...). I love that it's in the kitchen, the hub of our home, and also where Brian and I tend to work and create. 
1. Small wooden table, found on the side of the road
2. Little wooden stool, bought unfinished a few years ago from A.C. Moore, stained and polyurethaned
3. Andy Warhol soup cans filled with art materials, Target
4. Cookbook stand that we got as a wedding gift (never used for that purpose), now a perfect paper and paint holder
5. "Oh what a beautiful day" embroidery, found in my old church's free "Stop and Swap" room
6. Rwandan animal mobile brought back as a gift for Levi from Auntie Kimmie
7. Really hard to see...but two little Polish painted birds, picked up when Brian and I worked in the very Polish, Hamtramck, Michigan. 
and my cheerful little artist at work!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

breakfast, lunch and dinner

(ok, not breakfast)

..because I (along with all of the other art teachers and art lovers in blogland) have been stocking up on cans of Campbell's limited edition "Andy Warhol" tomato soup. I bought one of each color scheme for myself as well as a set for each of my art rooms. My always-good-sport husband and I have cleaned and emptied our first 4 "pop art" cans...only 8 more cans to go! 

Since I'm going to use these as art material containers, I was thinking of painting a coat of mod podge on the paper labels for a little more protection and I also might add a layer of cork to the inside (a la this tutorial) to keep little fingers from getting cut on the sharp inside edge. 

At 79 cents a pop, they're an awfully fun and cheap way to store and display pencils, crayons, brushes, rulers..whatever! And my personal set has already earned a special place in the Sea Kettle, but more on that tomorrow (hopefully).
(I actually had a hard time finding stores that still have these in stock, so if you get as excited as I do for "pop art" soup cans, you'd better get a move on! As far as I know they are only sold at Target.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a beret for Henri

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted this handsome tiger on the side of the road in someone's trash. their trash!  

Of course, I had pity on the poor little guy and rescued him from his dire fate. He was obviously looking rather neglected so I gave him a sponge bath and went to work crocheting him a stylish black beret. He is now properly outfitted for his new role as the beloved mascot of Mrs. James' art room!

We named him Henri (pronounced ze French way of course!) as homage to French artist, Henri Rousseau, best known for his jungle paintings. 

We all quite like him, especially in his new threads.
(I searched all over the web for a simple baby beret pattern, but couldn't find one that looked just right. I ended up going pattern-less. Basically, I just double crocheted in a circle until it was it was the right size and then decreased stitches for the last couple of rows. Very know, just in case you too need to crochet a beret for your own wooden tiger statue. hehe)

Monday, September 24, 2012


Praise God from whom all blessings flow...

- crisp days
calls from Kimmie
- knitting weather
- our playground friends
- lots of gifts to find and make
- feeling in the groove as a teacher, enthusiastic and diligent students
- folk music night with the Bornes, creative arts plans
- pumpkin coffee, almost every day
- an afternoon "reset" nap
- "For the Beauty of the Church" seminar, hanging out with and being inspired by some amazing christian artists
- fleece blankets
- an apple orchard picnic
- Levi and Tim dancing
- finishing an overwhelming weekend to-do list
- real "how are you?"s
- an "eat up" at Mary Grace's, hands held and songs sung
- baby showers, birthday parties, get togethers galore
- seeing lots of old friends
- pastor John's challenge to love extravagantly and Christ example of just that
- grandparents who love to babysit, a couple of lovely autumn dates with  my love

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a fall favorite

Looking for beautiful, simple way to usher in autumn?  

Last week I was on the hunt for some hardy window box flowers when I spotted these beautiful Japanese Lanterns hanging in a barn at a local farm (in fact, they just gave them to me!..and now have my business for life). 

These deep orange beauties are such cheerful additions to the kettle and I got so darned excited, I went back to get a bunch more for the front of the sanctuary at church, too. I heard so many comments about them on Sunday morning and overheard lots of incredulous "what ARE those beautiful things?!

(For you lucky locals, Rosehip Farm in Beverly is selling a bunch for $5. And they are dried so they should last forever...or until your baby crushes them all.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

carpe diem

Levi and I have been trying to make the most of these brisk and sunny September mornings that we have together on our days off. I wish you could see his face light up when he sees the Atlantic and the big open spaces of the wharf or the commons. I swear he would happily walk, climb and explore those grounds for as long as I'd let him. 

I shouldn't get ahead of myself, but I can't help but get nervous about winter setting in. We spend so much of our time walking, picnicking, play-grounding and enjoying all that our neighborhood has to offer and I just can't imagine us being cooped up inside all winter long. Sorry, the play-place at the mall just isn't going to cut it. This kid definitely longs for the outdoors so this extremely cold-sensitive Mama might need to toughen up a bit (yeah, I highly doubt I will spending as much time here, for instance!)

Sooo...anyone know where I can get baby-sized snowshoes? And lots of mama-sized long underwear? :P

My, how did this post take such a turn? It's not winter. It's not even October. "Seize the day!", I must tell myself... 

Seize. the. day.

(and it's not really that hard, with this little guy around)

(recognize the sweater? It feels like just yesterday I was knitting it over my belly and dreaming of the little person who would someday wear it...and now it barely fits the much-anticipated little person anymore!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Thank you to everyone who has sent messages/comments/emails and to those of you who are praying for my Dad. I'm sorry I didn't write an update sooner, but the reality is that he's been going in for various tests, biopsies and scans since then and we've been waiting to hear more information ourselves. The long and short of it: it looks like the cancer is in a mass in his lung and one lymphnode. The other places they've checked look cancer-free (brain, other lymphnodes). We still don't know if the cancer is new or the old cancer that spread. Best case scenario would be that it is a new cancer that is well contained and can be removed. No matter what, he will have surgery to take out part of his lung the week after my brother gets married (Oct. 6) and then probably have chemo and radiation. Would you continue praying for us?

(photos from our family camping trip in August)

Monday, September 17, 2012

this our hymn

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
'Lord of all, to Thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.
For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flow'r,
Sun and Moon and stars of light,

'Lord of all, to Thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.
(from a mid-september date in the woods)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tuesday flowers

not "birthday" flowers
not "Anniversary" flowers
not "Valentine's" flowers
not "I'm sorry" flowers.

..just plain old ordinary Tuesday afternoon 
"Will you go on a date with me?" flowers. 

Those kind are my absolute favorite.

(and of course, I said yes.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


In Salem as it is in Heaven
2'x4', Acrylic on Canvas, 2012

Yes, that's right....finally finished! It's good that I had a deadline for this or it might well have gone on forever. This impression of Salem, will be displayed at church during our next sermon series about the intersection of God's work and our everyday life here in Salem. 

This piece was a huge undertaking for me; I was working much larger than I usually do and in a new-ish style, as well. Although I'm having a hard time seeing it objectively after staring at it for so many months, I think I'm pleased with it. 

My plan is to do a smaller (and much more manageable!) piece in a similar style for each of the 9 sermons, but we'll see how that goes. For now, I'm basking in the done-ness of this one.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

to remember

Dear Levi,

There are many, many things that I want to remember about 13 month old you. 

Like the way you tell us exactly which songs you want to sing by doing the hand motions, and how you dramatically lip sync to "Old McDonald. Like the way you insist on eating every meal with a fork like a grown-up and how diligent you are even though it's hard. Like the way you walk with your arms outstreched like a little zombie baby and the way you wave to every person, car and dog that you pass. Like the way you sit in your car seat and happily "read" your books all the way to work and back. Like the way you gently touch my face and hair when you nurse and the way you try to climb in the tub with all your clothes on because you're just so excited for your bath.  The way you woof back at dogs and can spot an airplane before anyone else can. They way you see kids a mile away and the way you smile and wave and try to get their attention.  Like the way you hug your friends when you see them. Like the way you have conversations and answer questions with the right intonation, but with your own made up words and they way you "wink" at us. Like the way you think it's funny to talk like a robot and make a fishy face. Like the way you sigh loud and long when you hug me or your daddy (and a few other lucky people). Like the way you pat people's back or touch your forehead to theirs to let them you know you really like them and the way you always insist on sharing your food with everyone. Like the way you can't decide who to cuddle with and so you go back and forth rapidly between your parents with reckless abandon.

I'll always remember these things (no matter how old, tall and hairy you get..cause apparently that happens).

I'll always be,
your Mama

Monday, September 10, 2012

I come, I come

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

-C. Elliott

Thankful this week, for

- a great first week of school, many enthusiastic students
- saturday orientation at New Hope, meeting parents catching up with coworkers and again being reminded what a blessing it is to work there
- cheesecake and Jess' 30th birthday
- getting sick AFTER all of my classes for the week were over (and tea, kleenex, contact)
- coming home to the baby sleeping on Brian's chest
- lunch and bunting party with Kirsten and Elliott
- a finished painting
- Brian, figuring out how to fix the tenants' dryer quickly and cheaply all by himself (who knew a tender poet could do such a thing?)
- pumpkin coffee
- Levi, when he tries to wink
- bedtime prayer
- polaroid camera gift, ancient Brian photo and a photoshoot with the Bjorks
- our church's grand opening... (worship, a life story, spontaneous art, a Brian original for offertory, hearing from community partners, Pastor Aaron's reminder of who we are and who we are called to love, old and new friends, and a big ol' party!)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

don't want to miss a thi-ing

Labor Day is behind us, school's begun and there were times this week when I even felt a slight chill in the air. It's been a rather gloomy and rainy start here in New England, but the change from summer to fall is invigorating nonetheless.

On Tuesday, I put Levi in socks for the first time in months and found out that all of his pajamas are a few inches too short (he's slept in a diaper since May). The basket of cozy living room throws was brought out of the closet and windows that were open are slowly closing. I purchased my first pumpkin coffee and sipped from it happily all day long... 

Who knows, I'm probably getting ahead of myself. It might be 90 degrees again next week and we'll be heading off to the beach, but for now I'm feeling rather autumn-ish. My husband tells me this *could* be over kill (like I haven't heard that one before!) but I just don't want to miss a thing (cue Aerosmith).  

So without further adieu..

The Autumn List.

(you know you're gonna love it, sweetie...)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


"When you expand your borders, your heart will grow in courage, and you will marvel at all the ground there is to cover."

These photos reminded me of this letter

I'm so glad Levi has a father who's always encouraging him to expand his borders...even if that means hanging out in really tall trees that make Mama nervous. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

first day

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken 
joy in creative expression and knowledge.

- Einstein
Today is my first day back at school. My schedule is similar to last year's; teaching art for about 10 hours a week at a small Christian school and an organization that offers courses to homeschoolers. I couldn't have asked for a better balance of being able to teach and also spend lots of time at home (and about!) with Levi. In the midst of the busyness and last minute stresses and preparations I have to remind myself that I'm so very, very, grateful.

I spent much of the summer writing new syllabi and lesson plans, making examples and cleaning classrooms...and I'm ready to get this show on the road, as they say. There's only so much prepping and planning one can do before you just gotta do it, you know? I'm excited about my new curriculum and I'll be sure to post student work periodically. And it's amazing how much less stressful it is to start without a 3 week old baby

Good luck to all the other teachers out there. Rock it.

And remember...

"A teacher affects eternity: 
he can never tell where his influence stops"
- Henry Adams

Monday, September 3, 2012

come back

(lyrics from "Tear Down the Walls")


- encouragements and prayers and thoughts from friends and blog readers (Thank you!!)
- barriers breaking
- violet bouquets
- a smooth transition from old tenant to new tenant
- dinner and a chick-flick with the girls, while the boys bachelor-partied 
- a new sculpture, a precious gift, perhaps a relationship begun
- Katie and Matt's new house; cute, beautiful and finally done! And furniture shopping with Katie
- a full church, strong voices, powerful sermon, many children, prayer of sending, the communion of the saints
- Saturday morning coffee date with the Englers
- Levi's love; loud, unbounded, overflowing
- quiet mid day with napping boys
- classrooms sufficiently nested, lessons ready
- seeing a good, old friend
- an outdoor dinner with Mom and Dad James, Levi's funny antics
- a long weekend to rest up before the craziness begins
- a proud and bona fide walker