Tuesday, April 30, 2013

all the little flowlers say pick me! a little rambling...

Spring is finally here. Hurrah!
Our yard is beginning to bloom.
I find that I am so much more content with our little city plot when it is green and lush.
It is so much easier to see the potential for a little cottage farm life in the city. 

As with most things, perspective is key. 
What I am looking at and how I am looking at it (whatever IT may be,) matter.
My yard is always my yard. The potential is always there.
I just get impatient. 
(It is almost always impatience with me isn't it?)
And that is the lens I look through. 
That is how I see it. I do not see it for  for what it is, or even what it could be, but instead I see it only for what it is not. And oh, how I zoom in on those little nuggets, magnifying them until they cloud all my vision. 
I think maybe that is a little bit how it is when trying to form friendships and tribes.
Sometimes I am too busy looking longingly at the person I want to be my friend, that I cannot see the person who is looking longingly at me, who wants to be mine.

All too often I  look through the lens of what I don't have - the friendship, the house, the yard, the body type, - for so long, that I forget there are other lenses I can choose to put on. 
There are other ways to see things.
That what is not can be beside the point.
Instead, I have to ask myself again: what is?

There are just two  pretty blooms on the little rose bush that grows by my bedroom window, and a whole lot of empty thorny branches.
I see both. 
Which one do I pick to take inside with me? The blooms or the thorns?
Again, and again, it is up to me to choose.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Let me begin by saying that having pie everyday makes for a lovely vacation.
This includes fried pie. Which is the kind of pie you eat when you go on a Folkcation.
So what is a Folkcation? Well, in our case, it was a mini- vacation spent at the Ozark Folk Center and on the square in Mountain View, Arkansas.

Now why would we want to do that sort of thing for a getaway? (Some of you more city-minded gals might be wondering this, I know.)
Well, first of all our little family likes old fashioned things. It is one of our quirks. We tend to work history lessons into most of our vacations.
 Secondly, I didn't grow up in Arkansas and the time I did spend here was spent in the city with my city grandparents. I knew nothing of Bluegrass or the Ozarks or folk culture until college. So I find it all very interesting and curious.
Thirdly, I had briefly stayed at the Ozark Folk Center back in August for the Arkansas Women's Blogger Conference (are you coming this year?? You must! So much fun!) but because I was sick I missed a whole chunk of the Folk-center-experience. I pretty much only saw my cabin and the conference center.
 And lastly-and most importantly- my sweet friend Stephanie and her family had invited me and my family to come stay with them on the Folk Center grounds (Stephanie's husband is the Folk Center's Park Superintendent.)

After several failed attempts, we finally settled on a date for our visit, taking advantage of our long weekend to load up the car and head for the hills.

When you first arrive at the Folk Center, you might be caught off guard- and wonder "where is everything?" Because that is what I thought last year at the conference (but remember, I was sick and heavily medicated.)
 But behind the conference center, there is the cutest little "Crafters Village" filled with shops and other structures where real craftsmen and women are hard at work.
I immediately liked this version of Main Street better than Disney's, because the shops are all actually what they look like, instead of one long tourist trap housed behind a facade.

The Crafts Village is currently undergoing some renovations (which are looking great btw,) so there were a few shops that were closed to the public. But some folks made do by combining shops- for instance Linda Odom, who is the Soap Maker, was sharing space with her husband Troy Odom who runs the Print Shop.  Their combination was by far my favorite workshop/store in the whole village.

Because we were hanging out with Stephanie and her family, we got to get in on a little commerical-making action for the Folk Center. That is my boys and her boys trying out the letterpress while a cameraman looks on.
This is what I love about staying with other bloggers- you never know what sort of hijinks's are going to occur!

The Art Guild was another favorite stop for the boys. The shop is run by members of the Mountain View Art Guild, whose work is also on display and for sale.  Each time we visited the boys were invited to jump in and take a mini-water color lesson, which of course Miles ate up.
Many of the artist offer workshops for all ages during the busy season- and I already have plans to go back for Pottery and Candle Making lessons later this summer. 

A lot of the artist and craftsmen will make you custom items such as embossed stationary, custom belts or guitar straps, and even brooms.  Shawn Hoefer makes the brooms (you can see more at his website) and he also weaves quite the story. Sweet Man said he could have listened to Shawn tell stories all day long.

For Christmas Miles had asked for a Blacksmith Forge and Anvil. Unfortunately Santa could not fit those in his sleigh. 
Even though the blacksmith was not at his post the day we were there, Stephanie's husband Joe was able to help Miles and the other boys scrounge up pieces of iron and metal left behind on the ground from previous demonstrations. I honestly think that collecting these scraps were almost more fun than seeing a real blacksmith in action would have been.

Our trip also included: fun on the zipline (the boys,) bluegrass pickin' (Sweet Man and some amazing local musicians including Clancy Ferguson,) autoharp lesson (me,)  fiddle buying (Miles apparently is a natural,) flea market shopping (me again,) and more yummy pie (all of us.)

Even though the trip was a bit of a whirlwind, it was so worth taking the time away from our to-do list to go and unwind, to be together, and spend time with friends (and in the boys case-make new friends.) 
We had so much fun, we are all already trying to figure out how soon we can go back for another Folkcation getaway, and maybe even stay a little longer (now that we know how much fun it can be.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

life of brian

This is Brian. He is the newest member to our family.
I like him and his snazzy peebles. 

In the next 6 weeks I have exactly one entire weekend free.
This one. And it happens to be a four day-er.

So as a family we are unplugging a bit. 
We are taking a cue from B here and going the mellow route for a few days.
Taking a little road trip
Laying low.
Being chill.

I will see you on the flip side!

Much love-

Here are a few things you might want to check out during my little escape:

*Mother's Day Special! Purchase A Homemade Year for only $12 from Paraclete using the code JERUSALEM at checkout {this price is currently cheaper than Amazon!}

*Check out the interview with me over at Urban and Proud

*Read my recent mini-series on finding a tribe - 

*Follow me on Facebook or GoodReads!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

start a tribe: the intersection of bravery and tenderness

Earlier this week I wrote a bit about found communities and chosen families over at Relyn's blog.
And I wrote about it from my experience of finding community and friendship, sometimes in unlikely places, and at unlikely times.
But I realize that not everyones experience of friendship and community is like mine.

I realized it again while having pie Saturday night with 6 lovely, funny, kind ladies.
We ate pie and french fries and spoke truth, and listened gently and laughed until we cried.
Our waitress kept asking if we were part of an official group. Were we in town for a conference? Were we part of a club? Did we work together?
"No, we are just all friends" we said.
To which she replied "I wish I had this many friends. I just have my mom and my kids."

I wanted to take her home right then.
Or move to her town and be her friend.
Or at least drive the 3 hours to her town once a month for pie.
It broke my heart.

But it is not the first time I have heard this sort of statement recently.
Not the first time I have wanted to scoop someone up and adopt them into my tribe.

When I was in my early twenties I met a gal named Amy at church.
We had few coffees, shared some fries (yes, I am seeing a trend here..,) and attended a conference together.
In the beginning it was awkward. I thought we had nothing in common. I was pregnant, she was starting her doctorate. He life was fairly corporate and mine was highly domestic. Her hair was always perfectly coiffed, mine was always a mess. We should have never become friends.

But circumstances pushed us together enough that there was the slightest spark of friendship. Our lives looked very different, but on the inside we were very similar. We had a lot of the same questions about faith, the same interest in books, coffee and learning. But still we were just "church friends."

Until she sent me the card.
And in the card it said this: Will you be my real friend? Check Yes or No.
I checked yes. And the deal was sealed. We were now real friends.

I have longed admired Amy's bravery and vulnerability in sending me that card.
For taking a chance, for opening her hand to show me her heart, for taking the risk of letting me break it, on the slim chance that instead I would help her care for it.
She didn't have to ask me. She could have just let things be as they were- casual, gliding on the surface.  In fact everything in our culture tells us that tenderness is the enemy, and that vulnerability is for suckers, so who could blame her if she had?

The growth of my tribe, over the years between college and now, is full of moments like this. Moments where I, or the other person, has held out a hand and opened it up, revealing a tender part of ourselves to the other for care.

For a year and a half in college I lived in a private room. I was on the same hallway as several good friends, but I spent many, many evenings alone in that room, waiting on someone to call. To say "why are you alone? Come down to our room!" I kept waiting to be wanted.

It wasn't until Sweet Man and I moved to a new town, joined a new church, and I became friends with Amy that I realized how I had played a part in my loneliness.
It was only then that I  realized that most people are waiting to be wanted. 

These days I try not to sit around waiting to be wanted. 
Instead, I try to be brave and tender, like Amy was all those years ago.

 I try to see that need in others and meet it.
I try to erase their aloneness as much as I can.

 But in order to do this authentically, in order to do this in a way that doesn't feel like I am trying to earn holiness points, I have to also allow them to erase parts of my aloneness as well.
I have to open my hand and share some tender bits of my heart with the understanding that no one owes me kindness in return.
Otherwise it is all works and no love. 
Otherwise, "Concern" turns to judgement and "truth" turns to condemnation. And I am just an annoying, goody-two-shoes, gonging mess, wrecking havoc in the name of "loving my neighbor."

For me, if I am going to love honestly, if I am going to actively choose to be in relationship with others, I have to remain vulnerable, authentic, transparent. I must be willing to be chosen as well.
I must live from a place of  humility and gratefulness for each and every person that chooses to check my YES box, every person who chooses me back.*

So, if you do not have a tribe yet, and you would like one, perhaps you could think and pray on how to  start one. How to be the one to stop waiting, to gather all your bravery and tenderness, and step out to say "will you be my friend?"

*(I feel like I need to say somewhere, somehow, that  I am not in any way addressing abusive relationships, or advocating that people stay in them because "it is what Jesus would do." What I am talking about here has to do with safe people and safe relationships.  Initially awkward friendships, with potentially awkward people? Yes. Abusive friendships with abusive people? NO. )

** All these pictures were taken at the St Scholastica Monastery

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

french- inspired tea towel apron diy

So book promoting is kicking my tail a little bit. But in a good way.
This week I have two events, two nights in a row.
Last night I got to speak the most lovely group of women at First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, and tonight I am continuing on the Homemade Living Room Tour at a friends house. 
The Homeamde Living Room Tour is a little bit like a Tupperware Party for A Homeamde Year.
But instead of Tupperware, I am sharing my story, reading a chapter, and serving a few simple sample recipes and craft ideas from the book, and answering questions about how all of this came to be. I am also selling/signing the book as well. 
I adore meeting new women and hearing their stories, and getting to share my story and the book with them.
But I am not going to lie. 2 events in 2 days on top of work is stretching me.

(We have been test driving them around town at friends homes to see how they go over. If you would like to know more about my upcoming events or if you are interested in hosting a Living Room Tour party, please check out my Events page. for details and contact info)

But enough about all of that-what we are really all here to do today is talk about cute aprons. That you can make. 
Not a master seamstress? Trust me. It will be okay. This one is EASY. I did it, after all.

With Mother's Day, Weddings and Graduations just around the corner, this can be the time of year where easy-but-unique gifts can be in high demand.  I thought this might be a good time to show you this pretty simple apron that I designed this past December. Because I only dabble in sewing (I am a fan of things with straight edges, no armholes for me please) I designed an apron that was easy to make, required almost no measuring or cutting, and could be easily customized. I made my aprons to give out at Christmas, but I think that they are going to be a go-to gift for all sorts of events and holidays for me going forward.

I have done my best to explain my process below.
I have to give a huge shout-out to all those sewing writers out there because for me, writing sewing directions is ten times as hard as writing a craft project or recipe. I promise.
There are three sewing projects in A Homemade Year and I had to help getting the directions straight on all three (thank you Mom, Jeanetta and Jemimah!) 

I am visual and tactile learner, so I liked to be able to see a  finished product and then work backwards when I am following DIY instructions.
I tried to make the directions for this apron simple and clear, but they may be more like mud.
If so, please feel free to ask me a question or suggest a better to explain what I mean.

To make this apron I used:
2 generous in size flour sack towels
2 large grommets
5 yards of 5/8" Cotton Twill Tape
Sewing Machine
Coordinating Thread (I used red)

This first thing I did was wash, dry and iron my towels. This last bit-the ironing- is a tip from my mother who is a master seamstress.Even in my limited sewing experience, I have become true believer in washing and ironing first.

Next, I stitched down the middle of your 1 1/2 yards of twill table using a zigzag setting on my sewing machine to make the neck tie. 
(Now here is why I am not ever going to actually make these aprons to sell. I stink at all the finishing details. Don't look too closely at the ends of my twill tape ties, or you will see a bit of folded,stitched, mess. )
With the exception of finishing the ends, making the stitched twill tape (which I bought in bulk from Amazon,) was super simple. I love the simple detail of the red against the white- and the zigzag just adds a hint of whimsy. 

To create the shape,  I laid one towel horizontal and then laid the other towel on top of the first vertically. I then pinned my remaining plain white twill tape across the middle of the vertical towel where it met the horizontal towel, thus securing all three elements together and creating a waistband. 
To sew them together, I started at one of end of the twill tape (the part that was for tying in a bow) and stitched  down the center of the the twill tape and then the two towels together, using the zigzag stitch again, running the stitch all the way to the other end of the twill tape. 

I made the tie extremely long because I like the be able to wrap around and tie my aprons in the front. Feel free to adjust your length as needed.

For the neck ties, I added two large grommets about 2 1/2 inches in from the edge of the vertical towel, and about 3/4 an inch from the top. I used silver grommets and a grommet punch. 
Next, I ran my neck tie through each grommet and then knotted the ends. This created the neck loop.

The only thing that could improve this apron is a pocket on the bust area. I might have to add one when I make the next batch. My favorite thing about this apron, is the "hand towel" that is created by the bottom half of the vertical apron. I am forever wiping my hands on towels and my apron when I am working in the kitchen and I like having this little flap so close at hand. Also, it is good for gathering eggs.
I love that his apron is fairly unisex, a good fit for most sizes, and the neck strap is easily adjustable. It is easy to make and easy on the budget.

So there you have it! A little DIY apron for your Tuesday. I hope between the pictures and my less-than perfect instructions you can figure this one out and make it your own. And please let me know if I need to make something clearer!

Monday, April 22, 2013

and then we had pie. and I saw a pink toilet.

Let's just get this fabulousness out of the way shall we?
You will never guess who I had pie with.
Yup, the lovely, talented, extremely funny, and down-to-earth, Rachel Held Evans.

This past weekend I took a little road trip with some pals to go hear Rachel speak Saturday night and Sunday morning.
 We may have been a little stalkerish in the beginning:
 blowing up RHE's Twitter feed on Friday night, sitting on the front row Saturday morning, kidnapping her after her talk for a dinner of salad, coffee, fries and pie.
(Okay, okay, she had the salad and I had the fries.)

But in the end we were all the very best of friends.
Despite the kidnapping and our over use of the hashtag #FtVegas.

Meeting someone from the interwebs in real life always has that sort of "what will they really be like?" question hanging around. But Rachel was warm, friendly, open, and exceedingly gracious. A true kindred spirit as Anne Shirley would say.

One thing I love about girl trips is all the attention to getting gussied up.
Living in a house full of absent minded professor males, means that getting ready to "go out' is a very solitary endeavor.
No one cares what I wear.
No one can tell me which shoes go better, if I should wear my hair curly or straight, up or down.
If I should wear two necklaces or just one.
No one  understands taking make-up off, just to put it back on again.
This sort of shared experience was one of my favorite parts of dorm life:-music playing, multiple hair dryers blowing, the aroma of Final Net, Vanilla Sugar body wash and Clinique's happy, hanging in the air.
Going on road trips with my girlfriends is important to my well being as a fairly girly-girl who lives with boys.

Of course life with boys is far from awful.
How can you not love these two?
Where are these children's parents?

In addition to pie and french fries, we also ate some amazing Central American food on Saturday.
Golly I love to go to an ethnic restaurant with someone who knows how to order, who speaks the language, and can translate all of my questions.
This meal resulted in a food coma that required a nap in a cold, dark, hotel room.
So. Good.

Here are a few other random bits from last week:
I hung some of the signs from the Hootenanny on the wall in the art room/office.
I picked the two which I thought would be most inspiring as I work.
I also changed out the slipcovers on the back cushions, and hung a bunch of the paper chain garlands (also from the party,) in the corner. I think they overall look is homey and cheerful, and homemade. The perfect place for me to sit and write and mull things over.

Also last week I found A Homemade Year in some brick and mortar stores here in town.
I have to confess that both the Annes were already on the this display shelf, and I was on the bottom row across the way.
But I couldn't resist staging the photo anyway.
I love my Anne's and I am always a little overwhelmed to realize that my little book is even in the same building, let alone on the same aisle as their books.

On the way to the store last week I saw these two lovelies sitting on the side of the road, waiting for the bus.
They seemed to be in a heated discussion.
I imagine that she was scolding him for picking out a bad toupee.
I mean really.
Who picks out a faux wood grain to go with aqua porcelain?
I really loved these toilets and it makes me wonder why we are all so dedicated to white toilets.
Are they really that much better?

Friday, April 19, 2013

a friday hodgepodge round up

It has been a while since I posted a round-up, and I thought going into the weekend might be a good time to do so.

On the Pinterest:

It fits in my farm-one-room-school-house-industrial style sensibilities.

House of Belonging House Tour
I just love Tif.
And her house. OMG.
To die for.
For instance, this dresser makes me soooo happy.

There are some things in the works in regards to camping cute and craft retreats and A Homemade Year.
Once everything is ready to go, you will be the first to know all the details!
Stay tuned!

Magic Corn- this really works
Seriously. It's magic. We did this last night.
My only notes would be to roll the corn over halfway through cooking.

On the nightstand:

So here is the thing. Sometimes I just need books that are fun. That are not too serious or too thought provoking or too real. For that reason, I love Sarah-Lynch Kate. Her books are full of colorful characters, always have a hint of whimsy, generally take place in a lovely foreign location, have a hint of romance, and often feature some sort of food as a main character (bread, cheese, wine, biscotti...) and the theme of "found family."  And though they are light and entertaining reads, I do not feel as if I am losing brain cells with every page turn.

I am soon going to run out of Sarah-Kate's books, so I am giving a few books that were "readers who liked those like these" picks a try. The first up is this book- The Secret Lives of Dresses. I will keep you posted.

On the interwebs:

I cannot even count the ways I love this post.

My friend shares her heart and I adore it.

Having suffered from depression, and having loved ones in my life who suffer from mental health issues, I am continually amazed by the stigma associated with mental health and the options for intervention and treatment  among the Christian community. I am proud of each and every person who works to remove shame and secrecy from this issue.

So these are the things that I have been reading, checking out, mulling over recently.
What about you?

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