Wednesday, June 26, 2013

school's (finally) out!

..and we have a few precious days to enjoy until Brian's summer job begins on Monday. 
We're off to make the most of them..see you on the flip side!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Father's Day Altoid Tins

Brian loves his Altoids.  Where there's a Brian, there's probably a tin of Altoids. I've hear rumors that he hoards the tins (possibly hundreds?!) in some of his desk drawers at school.  He's going to use them for something awesome someday - he says. (to be fair, he did do something cool with one. ONE.) While I couldn't get into the mother load, there were plenty hiding on end tables, computer bags and junk drawers around the house, so I gathered a few of these empty tins for some special "Altoid" themed Father's Day treats..

 The What and How:

1. Tin O'Mints: Just a plain old tin of altoids. Boooring..but useful.

2. The Altoid Garden:  I put foil covered with saran wrap on the bottom of the tin, so it doesn't rust.  After asking quite a few people at the garden center if there was any plant that would live comfortably in an Altoid tin, I finally found someone who thought that mayyybe baby "Hens and Chicks" would work.  I bought a small pot of them and picked out the little guys.  I filled the tin half way with dirt, then stuck the plants into the dirt. So far, so good!

3. Mini Sandbox: I gathered some sand and pebbles at the beach and added a rake and shovel that I found in the doll house section of A.C. Moore.

4. Tin O'Truth: I wrote scripture verses on business card sized pieces of paper. Most were verses I thought were pertinent to being a father.

5. Travel Chess: I measured a grid on white paper, then filled in the back squares with a sharpie.  This was mod podged to the bottom of the tin.  The game pieces were made with mini thread spools I found in the wood section of A.C. Moore.  I glued a piece of magnet to the bottom and mod podged the "punches" (?) from a piece of paper that was hole punched onto the top.  With a veery tiny black ink pen, I drew simple symbols for each piece.

6. Tin O'Love Notes: I wrote out a bunch of love notes and Levi added some cute little scribbles drawings. 

I also made some magnets out of bottle caps to hold notes inside the front cover of the tin. For these I cut paper to fit and mod podged it to the back of the bottle cap, then glued the magnet on the back. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

the heavens declare

The heavens declare the glory of God,
 and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1

Thankful this week, for - 

- rained out softball games and spontaneous sibling fun nights
- checking many items off of a lengthy to-do list
- grilling with friends and co-workers, the "boooo" game
- field day with Papa; seeing him in his element, Levi doted on by middle schoolers galore
- notes from faraway friends
- a birthday party for one of Levi's most favorite buddies; seeing old friends, many sweet and happy children 
- Levi's love for work
- running into my church family. everywhere.
- many "office" hours at Jaho and finally finishing my evaluations
- a Father's Day celebration and many hands spending an entire day constructing a swingset for a lucky (and very appreciative) little boy
- a "supermoon" viewing party with my boys and friends on Salem Harbor, then a late night photoshoot, all by myself

Friday, June 21, 2013


A very happy first day of summer!

Sea Kettle is celebrating..are you?

Thursday, June 20, 2013



#MrJamesinallofhisglory #everyonewantstobeinMrJamesclass #Levithinksthisiswhatpapadoeseverydayatwork

(totally bragging now, but the following quote was found on his "rate the teacher" review page. I couldn't have said it better myself: "He is the epitome of goodness wrapped up in a blanket of awesome, smothered in cool sauce with a side of knowledgeable humor and intellect."  Geez, that kid must have had a good writing teacher. :) )

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sea Stone Paper/Photo Stands

Here's a quick little project I made for my art festival set-ups. I used these rock and wire stands for holding prices and town labels; you could use them for photos, dinner names cards, mini signs, bible verses or almost anything else thin and/or made of paper.  


- Wire. Find some that holds it's shape but isn't too thick to easily bend and shape.
- Rocks. I wanted mine to be nice and round, so I gathered them at a a local ocean-side park that has the best and smoothest sea stones (Chandler Hovey Park, Marblehead)
- Pliers. If you can bend the wire easily without, then these are optional.

To Make:

1. Wrap the wire once around the rock and twist it with itself tightly to secure on the bottom. 
2. Wrap wire around the rock 3 times then twist it again on the top.  
3. Trim wire if you need it (I left about 5 inches) and fashion a spiral, making sure to twist around enough times for a piece of paper to stay secure (about 3).
4. Stick something special in the spiral and enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013


Thankful, for...

- the end of a veeeery busy few weeks
- full and encouraging last art classes of the year
- a beautiful wedding to attend and photograph; the surprisingly perfect weather after a morning downpour, fun and creative details, seeing old friends, the start of a new marriage.
- 2,000 fun wedding pictures to sort and process
- Levi, both hands around my neck and attached to me like a monkey for the duration of a grocery trip
- spending a gorgeous day with good friends (and talking shop) at the second arts festival
- a celebratory church meeting, memories and excitement for the future
- Elsie and Levi dressed alike
- friends who go through valleys and have vision
- almost enough saved for a new camera and helpful advice 
- a Father's Day/Birthdays celebration at the Jameses, especially the family band with Levi on the harmonica and drums
- my first "summer" Monday;  a long morning snuggle with my (little) boy, a good start to a deep clean,  a much needed grocery trip, an afternoon of cooking for my family and another, holding the newest "highrocker", an impromptu family night.
- being the wife and daughter of some hardworking, kind, smart, selfless, funny, compassionate and godly fathers.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rain, Ducks and Donuts

On Friday a friend tipped us off to the fact that it was National Donut Day(has that always been a thing?!) and that our favorite orchard/farm was giving away apple cider donuts. Not kidding; these are the best donuts I've ever had. Period. You better believe a silly tropical storm couldn't keep us away! 

We packed our umbrellas, donned our rain gear and told Levi to get pumped because we were going on his first "Duck Walk".  When we arrived at the orchard it was clear that we had the whole place to ourselves. We walked waddled down to the farm splashing in every puddle we possibly could, quacking (of course) and enjoying the down pour like only a family of ducks can. Then, right on cue, the real ducks ran out into the barnyard together doing the exact same thing. I couldn't have planned it better myself and Levi was loving every minute.

We splashed around in our galoshes until we were fully and delightfully soaked. We popped into the store to pick up our warm donuts, ran to the car, peeled off the wettest layers, pumped the heat and together indulged in our yummy treat. 

We go to this orchard somewhat frequently throughout the warm weather months, but this was by far the most fun we've ever had.
Levi has been asking to go on another "Duck! Walk!" multiple times a day ever since. Yes, I have a feeling this may be the start of a new and awesome rainy day tradition in the James household.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

this and that

a little bit of this and a little bit of that...

- First of all, how on earth is it already Wednesday?! I'm afraid these last couple of weeks really did me in. Full and fun and maybe just a little bit overwhelming. I finished up my last class yesterday (I have so many amazing final projects to share!) and after evaluations are written, I'll really feel "out" for the the summer. Last night Brian and I ceremoniously hit the "delete all alarms" button on my phone. Not that I've really needed any alarms in 2 years, but felt good. 

- On Sunday, my way-crafty friend and I shared a booth at the Salem Arts Festival.  It was a gorgeous day(we actually switched days due to the rain) and we both made some sales so a successful day all around. It was especially wonderful to see so many people from our church come out to support us. Our next (and last?) fair of the season is this Saturday.  We'll be at the Beverly Arts Festival from 10-4. This one is a lot of fun, come out and visit!

- Because our festival day was post-poned, I ended up having an unexpected day with nothing planned. Brian and I decided to take advantage of our already-lined-up babysitters, go on a brunch date and take a visit to a small regional art museum. It was quite wonderful.

- Levi, Levi, Levi. There is so much to say. The kid rocks my world. He is getting funnier by the minute. He is making jokes, he is forming sentences, he is loving hard, he is growing hair, he is growing up. A "to remember: 22 months" post in the works...

- Sorry if you already saw this on facebook, but I'm just as proud and amazed as ever.  My Grandpa turns 80 next month and last Sunday he climbed not one, but TWO mountains. Amazing.

- Last week a student from the organization that I teach at got to the final rounds of the National Spelling Bee. Brian and I figured out how to watch it live online and were able to see the top ten compete.  Amber placed 4th and was the last girl standing! She babysat Levi when he was a wee baby and sources tell me that she used to "spell" to him as she bounced him to sleep. :)

- This article is a great read if you bring kids to church or if you go to a church with kids -  "Dear Parents of Young Children at Church"

- This weekend, I'm scheduled to photograph a laid back outdoor wedding on the ocean. With all of the other hullabaloo around this time of the year, it came up rather suddenly. It's the first wedding that I'm doing alone, so I'm hoping I can pull this off! (Fortunately, my little sister will come along with her lens holding/people organizing/morale boosting capabilities). Wish me luck!

- My Dad just bought Levi THE CUTEST fourth of July outfit. You're going to have to see it to believe it. Re.dic.u.lous.

Well, Levi and I haven't had a good long day off together in a while, so we're off to milk this one for all it's worth. We've got some serious playing to do, folks (and some Father's Day gifts to make!). Have a wonderful day!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013


It was a hot, HOT summery weekend of flip flops, ice cream, waves, sunscreen, sand and sprinklers. It seems that summer is here in earnest and the taste of the upcoming months of vacation is officially on my lips. Just three more days of school for me (and a week or two of writing evaluations..but I can do that outside on a picnic blanket, right?) 

Last summer was a great deal of fun, but I'm feeling an even better summer coming on. My little boy is bigger and braver and has an insatiable love for sun, dirt, trees, rocks, sand and water. So many adventures to be had - here's to hoping this Mama can keep up!

(photos from a beach day with some of Levi's best buddies from church)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

woodland beauties

(These lovely woodland orchids, the Pink Lady's Slipper, were spotted this weekend in the woods by my aunt's place in New Hampshire...a very special find indeed!) 

Monday, June 3, 2013


Begin by thanking Him for some little thing, and then go on, day by day, adding to your subjects of praise; thus you will find their numbers grow wonderfully; and, in the same proportion, will your subjects of murmuring and complaining diminish, until you see in everything some cause for thanksgiving.

-P. Maurice 

Thankful, for -

- hot summery days and places to keep cool
- hardworking and cheerful students..and almost vacation!
- beach time with the HRNS playgroup; cool breeze, warm-ish ocean water, Levi's joy being with his buddies, running into lots of old friends
- a new and completely adorable Yemen-girl baby
- some productive nap times for finishing my goal of 40 painting pendants before the upcoming art fairs
- strawberry hair
- shabbat dinners at church; meeting new people and getting to know others better
- Brian feeding me when I forget to feed myself
- yard sale-ing, sun bathing and sprinklers with the Antonells
- a student from my school, and former babysitter of Levi's) placing 4th at the National Spelling Bee!
- a relaxing drive up north for Jenny's birthday; seeing relatives, finding Lady's Slippers in the woods, Levi watching Randy scoop and dump with the tractor
- Levi's solfege solos
- pizza and fro-yo with the in-laws and a beautiful Salem walk
- matching dresses with my sisters (planned) and best friend (unplanned!)... and some impromptu photo shoots, of course!