Friday, May 31, 2013

city water

(Locals! The East India Square Fountain is back up and running! These warm days have us walking down and dipping our feet in (or whole body, in Levi's case) almost daily. It's most definitely Levi's current favorite Salem locale. Gosh, I love our city.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Noseworthy (and Levi tags a building)

So, my brother-in-law just came out with a rap album. I'm not really a rap aficionado, but I have found it incredibly thought provoking and very enjoyable to listen to. Maybe even convicting at times.. 
A friend of ours, who is a graffiti artist, worked on the album art and I headed down to photograph the process and the final images. It was fun to watch a prolific street artist at work and Levi even got to tag his first building..yup, if you see small black dots around town, you'll know the culprit. :)

(listen to the album and if you like it, consider downloading and supporting the artist! :

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

trot trot to Boston

On Saturday morning we woke up determined to not stay cooped up inside, no matter how bleak the weekend's weather report. 58 and rainy? Perfect weather for Levi's first train ride to Boston, said we! We hopped on the commuter rail and took the T to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market to walk around and have lunch. The look on Levi's face when he realized that he was going to go inside the train (and didn't even have to be strapped into anything!) made the whole trip worth it and he loved every minute; the fun of being in the city and having some good tourist-y fun was just icing on the cake. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

picnic and paints

This morning we packed up paints and a picnic and headed out to our very favorite spotIt was perfectly warm, sunny and everything was in full glorious bloom. I sat in the sun and painted while the boys adventured through the woods and gardens, stopping in every once in a while for a hug. 

Hoping your day is also full of peace, warmth and sunshine!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Art Room Diaries: final projects in process

Final projects are in full-swing in my middle and high school art classes. Middle schoolers are creating 3-D models/diorama's of a master landscape painting and my high schoolers are designing/painting old wooden chairs in the style of a master artist. Both of these projects are ways for them to do some in-depth art history research and an opportunity to incorporate knowledge of their chosen artist's life, work and style into an original work of their own.  

So far, they are looking great and I've never heard so many "I can't wait to work on my project next week" and "this is the best thing I've ever done" and "I wish I could stay here all day and paint".  It's been a wonderful way to end the year. 

Stay tuned.. photos of the finished products to come in a few weeks!

(and have I mentioned lately that I have the best job ever?)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

layering the living room

Just a little redecorating update from the kettle...

Our brown wool rug (seen here) has been a bit frustrating to keep clean (highest pile in the wooorld), it sometimes feels a little dark for the room and definitely too wintery for the warm weather I've been feeling through my open windows.  During a fit of spring cleaning, I decided to pull it up and see if I could figure something else out, at least for the warmer months. 

I recently saw a great home tour (at OhDearDrea) and I fell in love with her layered rugs.  I haven't seen it done successfully elsewhere, but I thought I might as well give it a try.  I am a bit of a rug hoarder collector, so I had a few around to play with.  I settled on three in my warm reds/yellows color scheme and then I went to work messing around with composition.  

It's a little wacky, I'll admit it...but I LOOOOOVE it.  It has the feel of Middle Eastern bedouin tents and makes the room feel a little more wonderfully Yemeni (Have I mentioned that I lived in Yemen for a few years growing up? That's a story for another time...)

So, any thoughts? Madness? Awesomeness?

(You may notice that I also switched out the red curtains for some white and airy ones that have been hiding away in storage for about 7 years. Not sure that they'll stay, but for now I'm enjoying the sunlight they let in. I haven't been red curtain-less since college! Things are gettin' crazy up in here..)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

paintings: of late

I've been taking some breaks from my "littles" to work on my "humuuungus". It's been going pretty usual painting mood-swings have been kept to a minimum and I'm feeling pretty positive about the whole thing. There are plenty of problems to work out (simplify, simplify! lighten, lighten!), but my goal is to get it into it's new home in the next month or so. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thankful on a Monday afternoon

Thankful, for - 

- time to finally sit down and write my blog post. These quiet moments. :)
- my brother and sister in law's computer help and new hard drive; a much smoother running mac
- a day of celebration and service at New Hope's Servathon; a morning sorting and folding at the Pregnancy Care Center, Levi loved on by many New Hope-ers, a celebratory picnic, a beautiful day
- an afternoon in NH, celebrating a cousin's graduation and new job
- Kimmie home from Thailand, a visit from Kevin, too
- an evening at the graffiti wall, watching CORE BTM work and Levi's first building tag
- Big C's new album
- salads with strawberries
- Levi crashed at the end of a long day, watching him sleep
- beautiful summery days
- nursery with mom and BFF
- ziggy's donuts
- kind handwritten notes in the mail
- bulbs in the ground
- Levi's piano/singing songs
- relevant and good Bible study discussions
- a friend taking Levi for the morning so I could set up my art show
- art show; fun, successful and done 
- my parents attending the show, Dad's good questions
- playgroup hanging in the boat
- Levi, his hair in a mohawk
- a church that celebrates
- "that was a great art lesson, Mrs. James!", when I wasn't really sure if it was going to be..
- school winding down, fun with final projects
- finding him shirtless, reading my Bible

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Art Show Day

My arms are sore, I've spent more hours at school in the last few days than I usually do in a month, my family had dinner last night in my classroom and I can't feel my thumb and forefinger (push pins!) - it must be art show day! :) 

Lots to finish up in the next few hours, see you on the flip side!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


These days he insists on seeing his mama in not one, but two rear-view mirrors at all times. This kid. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Teacup Candles for Mother's Day

My, my, it's been too long since I've posted a tutorial! I think I run out of energy to write more "tutorials" after writing so many for my students every week. But not today! :) 

These tea cup candles were simple to put together and made charming little Mother's Day gifts for all of my mums and grand mums. I had such fun hunting for the perfect cup for each recipient and found that most thrift store have a plethora to choose from in all sorts of colors and styles. After picking out my pieces, I found some candle making materials in my old art closet at my parents' house and went to work making my candles. Full tutorial below..
To gather:

- pretty tea cups or other small containers (that piece of pottery was just perfect for my bird and pottery loving Grandma)
- candle wax (can you believe that wax I found in the closet?! It must be 50 years old.)
- wicks
- essential oils (optional)
- double boiler or metal can
- ladle
- something to hold the wick in place; a dowel or just something skinny to lay on top of the tea cup.

The process:

1. Make sure tea cups are clean. 
2. Using a double boiler or metal can, melt wax.
3. Add a few drops of essential oils if you want your candle scented.
4. Using a ladle, fill tea cups about 3/4 full.
5. Before wax cools, place wick in the center. Use a dowel to keep the wick in the center of the candle.
6. Let cool.
7. If your candle droops in the center when it cools, just reheat more wax and fill it in. 

Monday, May 13, 2013



- May weather 
- Levi's "HEY-lo!" and "byebye" to everything; strollers, cars, macaroni, dogs, bicycles, books
- my high schoolers spray painting chairs on a warm and sunny day
- friday night stroll to the Willows; good talks, Levi's excitement for the ocean, arcade games, ice cream and a Mother's Day photobooth session with my boys 
- a clean sink
- a super productive week
- good headway on my big canvas
- a mid-saturday date with my BFF
- Brian's project help
- seafood dinner with my fam and mother's day festivities 
- All the highrock churches together for a service; getting there in one piece (Boston driving..ack!), many voices, Brian's song, Levi dancing, sitting with much of my family
- Sunday afternoon with the Jameses; pizza lunch, a rainy day turned sunny, Levi in the swing
- Kimmie back in the country!
- a refreshing spring redecorate in the living room
- sweet cards and gifts from many; lavender-dandelion perfume, a cuddle satchet, chocolates, bathsalts, cyclamen and an orchid.
- another Mother's day with the sweetest son a girl could ever ask for.

Friday, May 10, 2013

from my inbox

Sure, mean old time and exhaustion, 
laze and drive, 
ebb and flow;
These wage war against love.
But what weapons we possess! 
Sass and serve,
Talk and touch,
Wrestle strong
toward love,
We together scrape away
Thirteen layers 
And marry. 

-B. James
(for 10 years I've been wooed by his beautiful words and he still knows just how to make his lady feel loved on a regular old Thursday.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sea Kettle Studios: first festival

Well, I survived my first fair. :) It was a beeeautiful day and I was set up next to my friend, so even though it was pretty slow people-wise, we had a grand time sitting in the warm sun, talking, painting and quilting. And the men had our babies so I guess it was practically vacation!
It was nice to start out with a low key event, since I knew I'd still have some tweaking to do in terms of my set up.  I found out the hard way that my beautiful display branch needs some serious reenforcement. Yup, one big gust of wind and the whole thing toppled..and more than once. Other than that, it was a fun day and I'm looking forward to the next two art festivals in June! 

(and four new paintings in the shop..
Get 'em while they're hot!)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Restoration Project

Last week our creative arts ministry at church had the opportunity to help brainstorm, plan and support a collaborative project hosted by the Intervarsity group at a nearby art college. "The Restoration Project" was inspired by Isaiah 35 - "water streams forth in the wilderness.." Students came together to explore the concept of restoration by creating a mixed media collage using trash/recycled materials, by discussing what in life needs restoration and being introduced to the Restorer of all things.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Art Room Diaries: Like Michelangelo

(Yesterday students in my Sacred Art workshop studied Michelangelo and his paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. As I read the story of Noah from the Old Testament, they painted their interpretation of the story on the "ceiling" of their tables, lying on their backs. Despite some achy arms, much fun was had by all and we had a new appreciation of the four long years Michelangelo spent painting his ceiling!)

Monday, May 6, 2013

who can?

Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
Heaven's peace and perfect justice
kissed a guilty world in love..
Who His love cannot remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
-W. Reese/M.Redman

Thankful for, 

- heaven's peace and perfect justice
- final project excitement
- beautiful illuminated manuscripts by my workshop kids
- "The Restoration Project" with Intervarsity at Monserrat, many student artists working together to explore restoration.
- a first fair under my belt, spending the day with a friend painting and quilting in the sun
- an accidental Sunday afternoon nap
- an afternoon at the park celebrating Clover's birthday
- a church where grace reigns
- Levi's frequent requests to pray and his first attempts at praying himself "Thank you, Jesus. a-MEN!"
- a Kentucky Derby party with good friends; big hats, suspenders, mint juleps, a short and sweet sports event that even the Jameses can enjoy
- getting a picture text of Levi holding an "I love Angie Miller" sign at the American Idol concert in Beverly
- Friday morning with Jen and Hannah, Levi and Hannah in the wagon
- head massages
- pink tulips
- piles of art books
- Levi cheerful nightly ritual of calling after us from his crib, "Goodbye! I love you! I'll miss you! Goodbye! Goodbye! See you later! Goodbyyyye!"
- my happy little side-kick..

Friday, May 3, 2013

on the streets

these days, an almost daily occurence on the streets of sun-dappled historic Salem..

Thursday, May 2, 2013

the state of the garden

During April vacation we swept, tidied, raked and did a bit of weeding in our wee Sea Kettle garden. A flat of pansies and alyssum now fill window boxes and porch pots and of course the forsythia is in full and glorious bloom.
Many of last year's plantings are coming back up, which is always a nice surprise and isn't always been the case. During our first couple of years I kept giving in to those tempting sun loving plants (lupinescoughcough), hoping that they just would ignore the fact that our entire garden is shaded by a large maple tree.  Unfortunately they weren't fooled in the least and all died in quick succession; fortunately, I smartened up and started buying appropriate plants! (By the way, I blame the lupine obsession on my favorite childhood book "Miss Ruphius"..just trying to make the world a more beautiful place!)

Also, Brian's been wanting to add a border of some sort to our small fire pit/charcoal grill. He noticed a pile of bricks that have been sitting in our neighbor's driveway for years, so he asked the guy if he was interested in selling a few. He was happy to oblige and a couple hours later, we had ourselves a beautiful brick border. We're looking forward to many warm summer nights around the fire and of course, oodles of s'mores.

We have a few more things on our garden to-do list, not the least of which is whitewashing the fence that surrounds our patio. It's a big move, but we're hoping it works out the way we're imagining!

How does YOUR garden grow?