Tuesday, April 30, 2013

burning the "almost" midnight oil

(..up waaay too late finishing a couple of new pendants, getting ready for my first craft fair of the season! On Saturday I'm setting up a booth for Sea Kettle Studios at the North Shore Christian School Spring Festival. Feel free to stop by!) 

in the gardens with my boy

On Friday (my day off), I woke up knowing that if I stayed home I would be swallowed up whole by what I could and/or should be doing.  I needed to get out to an airy place where nagging laundry piles, dishes, lesson plan binders, powerpoints and email inboxes were far, far away.  Before I could think twice, I packed us up and whisked Levi away for a date; just the two of us and the great outdoors.  After stopping for a scone (no, I couldn't even risk staying home for breakfast), we drove to my favorite local destination. 

The Long Hill Estate holds many special memories for me; early dates with Brian, getting lost on woodland trails, birthday picnics, many leisurely walks, our wedding photos, Levi's very first outdoor outing; now a precious morning date with my son, running happily through trails and lawns, smelling flowers, listening to birds, climbing, exploring, gathering rocks and dandelions. Our slow and open-aired morning was just the thing we needed. 

(Public service announcement: If you've never been, your missing out on the best the North Shore has to offer! Bring a picnic, your camera and good walking/hiking shoes. It's free and I rarely see anyone else there! Long Hill, Beverly)

Monday, April 29, 2013

ceaseless praise

"Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.."
- F.R.Havergal

Giving thanks this week, for

- pear blossoms everywhere
- a weekend of fun and relaxation after a less-than-fun-and-relaxing week
- old friends here, late night music practice
- a special date with Levi; scones and secret gardens
- teaching kids about early Christian art and creating beautiful catacomb paintings on tile by candlelight
- good chats, study and prayer with the Tues night ladies
- reconnections
- a Green family photoshoot, especially my assistant and his antics
- an unexpected beach and ice cream date on a sunny day
- a thoughtful email
- running into people wearing my paintings
- Levi's abundant love for his Grandparents 
- church; great worship and sermon, matching outfits, Levi and his friends, heartfelt life stories
- friends back together, a night of great music in Boston

Friday, April 26, 2013


I'm still here. After blogging at least 5 days a week for almost 5 years now (!!), it feels almost sacrilegious to miss a day! Silly, I know. The fact is, these days have been busy. My to-do list is never fully checked, the house is rarely clean and I'm just perpetually feeling behind in all areas of my life. My personality doesn't do well with such things, but I'm slowly learning to live with it. Slowly but surely I'm getting better at prioritizing and letting things go, but it's not necessarily a fun process. Luckily, Brian and Levi are as stress-free as they come, so they provide the perfect antidotes for my crazy. 

So, here's to a weekend of letting go and embracing giggles, hugs, art, music, cars and trains, silly books, friends, church, long walks and numerous bouts of peek-a-boo in a cardboard box...and maybe a few checked boxes off my list. maybe. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Collaborative Butterflies

(A collaborative project done by my K-5 students. We'll be selling this image as 8x10 art prints at the Spring Festival to raise money for our school. Each student created an abstract butterfly with oil pastel and tempera paints. Then I cut the butterflies into fourths and mismatched them so that each butterfly is made up of 4 different kid's work. I photographed each butterfly, then created this poster digitally. Rather charming, I think! *inspired by this.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

operation sleepover

Well, it seems we all survived Levi's first sleepover, in fact everyone involved seemed to enjoy it immensely. My parents said he was a perfect angel and didn't shed a tear. I may have *almost* shed a tear, but I held myself back and pretty soon I was sufficiently distracted by my giddy husband. He kept saying "we're like bachelors and bachelorettes!" Um, not quite buddy.
Our "wild" night consisted of walking around town, getting dinner and dessert, laughing, laughing and more laughing, almost doing something crazy and of course, scaring a group of tourists huddled together in a dark alley on a ghost tour (the best part). Even though we walk these streets everyday, it felt very special walking them together at night for the first time in almost two years. Oh and we stayed in bed until like 10 AM. CRAAAAZYTOWN. We could get used to this. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

giving thanks

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find,in every hour, some heavenly blessing. 
-H. Beecher

Thankful this week, for 

- protection for friends, brave men and women, a better than expected end to a long few days, a city bound together
- (mostly) quiet, restful vacation days
- many, many art evaluations finished (and a sweet and thorough evaluation in my inbox from my not-so-secret admirer) 
- trash to treasure projects
- impromptu visits from family and friends
- a walk by the ocean with Brian's parents on a dramatic and blustery day, an unexpected local art show
- chair donations for my high schoolers' end of the year project
- preparations for my "Sacred Art" workshop; so excited to teach this!
- catching up with a couple of dear old friends
- a morning with Levi's buddy, Elliott; the boys all snuggled in a wagon, Levi trying to feed and take care of him
- a chair painting date in the living room with a sushi master documentary
- my first out-of-state pendant order
- mexican feast with my sibs and cousin 
- an inspiring sermon
- a pallet of alyssum and pansies, full flower pots around the garden and patio
- lots of time to spend with my loves

Friday, April 19, 2013

grant us peace

Lamb of God
You take away the sins of the world
Have mercy on us.
Grant us peace.

For the unbearable toil of our sinful world,
We plead for remission.
For the terror of absence from our beloved,
We plead for your comfort.
For the scandalous presence of death in your Creation,
We plead for the resurrection.

Lamb of God
You take away the sins of the world
Have mercy on us.
Grant us peace.

Come, Holy Spirit, and heal all that is broken in our lives, in our streets, and in our world. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(..still reeling after a dramatic, sad, scary and proud few days in Boston. This all hit close to home, with many friends and acquaintances frighteningly close to the tragic events of the week. Hoping that this is now over and healing can begin. 
Lord have mercy on us and grant us peace!)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor: 
"Winter is dead.” 
-A.A. Milne

Monday, April 15, 2013

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

feng shui in the classroom (or "sorry, I couldn't resist")

Last night Brian was telling me about his day. He told me that he attended an education conference with his co-workers and went to a variety of seminars, one of which was about "feng shui" in the classroom.  

Fast forward to this morning. While doing my saturday morning cleaning, I spotted this little gem peeking out from his bag...what I believe are his "notes" from the seminar.
I'm afraid he isn't here to defend himself, but really now - this is all kinds of awesome.

Friday, April 12, 2013

a tuesday morning

These two sweet boys and I spent the better part of Tuesday morning talking, snuggling, reading, making shadow puppets and switching a flashlight and nightlight on and off repeatedly in our over-turned pack 'n play fort. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday morning, I think.

Happy weekend! (and happy April vacation to the James family! whooopeee!)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

old shirts, new hats

My boy is finally getting some hair, but oh-so-slowly and he still needs a little something on his head on these cooler spring days. I've quickly realized that there are light knit hats galore for newborns, but not so much for toddlers.
I knew I wanted a hat made from soft and thin material so I figured I could just make my own with some old shirts. We always have a bag of "outgoing" clothes, so I dug through and found a shirt of mine and a shirt of Brian's to use for fabric. 
After looking around for some tutorials, I settled on one that seemed nice and simple(see here). I must admit that I didn't follow it to a "t" (mostly because I'm often too impatient to read directions) but it certainly served as my inspiration. It's is a simple concept and it's fun experimenting with different shapes and styles. I especially love the ones with the two little ties on top. I hand-sewed two hats during my ladies bible study, so needless to say, they're also super quick.

(have more clothes to up-cycle? Try "Papa Pants"!)

Levi's most favorite thing right now is riding the bicycle he got from his Nana and Grandpa for his birthday. He rides around the house, patio and driveway smiling and exclaiming "my bicycle! my bicycle! my bicycle!". He still needs a little help with the pedaling, but there's no doubt he'll be a pro by the end of summer. Brian often takes him down to the Salem common, which is where his Dad taught him to ride a bike, too. I love that.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

to remember - 20 months

Dear Levi,

There is so much I want to remember about 20 month old you.

Like the way you wake up so very happy each morning, giggling and "racing" back in forth in your crib.  Like the way you hug me tight and lightly rub my cheek when I remind you to be gentle. Like the way you have started saying sentences, constantly asking "What's this?" and "Where's _____ (usually kitty)?". Like the way you surprised us by climbing all the way up the big kids' jungle gym. The way you shimmy along the balance beam and run with delight all over Salem Common.  Like how you remind us to pray before we eat if we ever forget, bowing your head, grabbing our hands and trying to repeat your Papa's prayers. The way you hug-jump on us during our morning snuggle, the way you love your matchbox cars and happily drive them all around the house.  Like the way you always say "sorry, mama" if you've lost your temper. The way you beg for books and can now supply many words in your favorites and how you can almost count to 10, say some of your ABCs and sing Do-re-mi...Like the way you all the sudden seem to finally have a head of hair and the way you'll eat almost anything and take great joy in dipping your food in any sort of condiment or sauce. How you talk to Papa on the phone on his way home, pointing to things (trucks, trains, kitty) and telling him all about them. Like the way you enthusiastically show those you love that you love them with your sweet smiles, fast waves and big hugs; like your excited "hello's!" and sweet sing-songy "ba-bye's!"

You really are pure joy, my boy. We just love everything about you.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

forcing it

Amazing what a few forced forsythia branches can do for my spring-needy heart...
(On a completely different note, April vacation begins on Monday and my plan is to paint, paint, paint the week away. Along with my larger paintings, I'll be working on a new batch of custom pendants. Want in? I'm currently having a Mother's Day Sale in my shop - just use coupon code MOMSDAY2013 for $5 off a painted pendant from now until Mother's Day..you don't even have to buy it for your mom. I mean, you SHOULD. But I won't tell either way. ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

my vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Giving thanks...

- His presence, my light
- quickly filled/filling art classes for next year
- a slowish and restful week
- mid-day (cyber) love letters
- a last-minute consignment outing with Ariel and Elsie, a few good finds
- creative arts "rest month" at church, a few weeks with no responsibilities
- Levi; riding his bicycle around the kitchen, turning on the radio to dance, fearless climbing, joyful jumping, sentences!
- Sunday afternoon hang-out with the Antonells, dinner with my parents
- hand-me-downs
- Levi's excitement when he sees his grandparents, aunts and uncles
- fresh, handmade and oh-so-delicious ravioli from the new neighborhood pasta shop
- skype dates with Thailand and Fiji and all in one day! and catching up with some of our nearest and dearest.
- warmer days and ending more and more of them with my boys on the common..

Friday, April 5, 2013

friday photo-dump

I'm afraid when I went looking for a favorite (photographed) moment of the week, I couldn't decide between like..20. Whoops. Hence, the photo dump and admittedly excessive number of photos of my sweet little toddler doin' his sweet little toddler thang.

Happy weekending, friends.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

date diaries

(a forgotten-about day off + Nana offering to babysit + a sunny, warmish spring morning + a Cadbury Egg Latte (!!) + a slow walk through the woods to the ocean + time with just me and my love = ahhhh...yes.)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter wear

I'm a big fan of matching *something* on Easter. Growing up, most years my Mom either sewed us matching Easter outfits or better yet had us sew our own matching outfits.  My sisters and I picked up on this tradition again a few years ago and we try to do a little something each year (along with others, depending on the year). Here's a short retrospective - and not exhaustive by any means!
This year, I decided to make the gals a matching accessory, since I wanted Brian, Levi and I to match too (we all wore green). Using inspiration from this tutorial for fabric rosette necklaces, I gathered some left over cotton gauze, ribbon and felt and whipped 5 of them up in an afternoon. I made one for myself, my Mom, sister-in-law and for each of my sisters (Kimmie, I have yours saved for when you get home..we'll all wear them again this summer!). I love how they came out and my large and ever-growing stash of fabric scraps is just begging for me to make more. A rosette necklace to match every outfit? yes, please!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter 2013

Easter was -

the James family clothed in spring green, waking early to don the church in beauty, a meaningful and joyful celebration with peacock feathers, toasts, party poppers and the kids dancing with gusto in the back, my paintings used for the edification of the church, listening to my Dad testify to Christ's work in his life and health, holding baby bunnies and kittens in the warm sun and a big pancake breakfast with church family.  It was taking Easter pictures in the yard (Uncle Matt making us smile), matching neck-wear, dining on ham and potatoes with my family, a relaxing drive down to Arlington for Easter dinner #2, an Elephant pinata,  British meat pies, Hummingbird Cake and many special treats. It was driving home late, nestling in bed with my teacher-love for some last minute lesson plan touch-ups for the both of us. Yes, Easter was full, fun, beautiful, meaningful, with countless reminders of the boundless grace and new life we celebrate. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Monday Thanks

Thankful this Easter monday, for-

our risen Lord; new life, restoration, victory 
- a successful work event and lots of interest in my classes for next year
- an unexpected date morning; a Cadbury Egg Latte, a long walk in our old haunts
- Levi singing and relishing our names ("paappy, paapppy, papppy! mama, mama, maaaama!) 
- remembering
- Holy week; Maundy Thursday get-together in Sea Kettle, a reflective tenebrae service, a fun, worshipful and celebratory Easter.
- energetic worship, baby animals, pancake breakfast, my Dad's testimony to his own recent "resurrection"
- oodles of origami
- picking and arranging Easter flowers
- Levi's post nap snuggle with his Grampy
- lunch with the McKennas, dinner with the Jameses - lots of family time and sweet Easter gifts
- the sun and the slow warming