Friday, August 22, 2014

Pretend You Haven’t Heard



This weekend I’m practicing a new art – the art of “pretending I haven’t heard.”  “Pretending you haven’t heard what?” you ask.  Well, everything.  When I was pregnant with my daughter I went to my five year high school reunion, and the thing that I heard more than anything else was “I’ve been following your pregnancy on Facebook!”  When I was pregnant with my son, I posted nothing about it on Facebook, on my blog, nowhere.  When people saw me with a baby they said “Oh, I had no idea you were even pregnant!”

And that, folks, is the way it should be.  You see, telling someone you’ve been cyber-stalking them, even passively through social media is a conversation stopper.  If you already know all about my pregnancy, my business, what kind of shoes I like, and my political leanings, what do we have to talk about?  It’s much better to pretend you haven’t been watching me, and what I’ve been up to, so you can ask me about it. Then I can tell you.  And we can have a conversation.

I did a little of this practice earlier in the week when I ran into my old college roommate, who coincidentally married my middle school best friend and has a baby boy that is eight days younger than my son.  I’ve seen some of this on social media, but since I haven’t seen him in twelve or so years, I’d rather hear it from him.  He suggested a playdate for the boys after we’d spent a few minutes catching up – hopefully he meant this in a non-Seattle sort of way (which is to say, actually meant it).

Tonight I go to a rehearsal dinner for my stepdad’s wedding, and tomorrow is the wedding (now do you see why I’m posting photos of wedding favors with this post?).  I’m hoping the family and friends I haven’t seen in years will ask me what I’ve been up to, rather than assuming that they know based on what I post online.  I’ll pretend I haven’t heard, so you can tell me yourself.  Because, after all, isn’t there more to us than our social media accounts?



ps: for the wedding we made 117 Mason Jar Lanterns with the bride & groom’s initials and the wedding date.  Tired hands, awesome favors, that obviously can be used for other things! Here are some more pictures.  And they can be purchased on


nice jar 2 (375x250)blue jar 1 (375x250)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Finding a Common Ground


This morning as I was picking chard from my horse trough planters, I was flooded by reflections of the last few days.  The chard is the first thing I’ve been able to feed my family from our garden in over a year.  Last year we moved and we have no garden set up here.  Until we can get one set up – that keeps deer and bunnies out – I make do with big galvanized buckets.  They grew some beautiful chard for breakfast this morning, for which I am grateful.

The little starts were given to me by my stepmother, someone who I admire on many levels, including for her beautiful garden.  She’s someone who, as a child, I never imagined would be such an important part of my life.  I never imagined that I would come to count on her – for help with the kids, editing my book manuscript, and for emotional support, as needed.


Our relationship started to change after I moved out of the house at 18, but the dramatic changes came when my daughter was born.  It was like she finally got to play the role that she had been waiting for all along – grandmother.  My baby girl brought back memories of her children when they were little, and she shared those with me, and she embraced my little ones with a love that only grandparents can have.

This shared bond of motherhood changed me, too.  As I started to navigate through my own parenting challenges I realized that parents, and step-parents, do the best they can with the tools that they have.  Nobody is perfect, but we are all trying to do best by our children.  We’re not trying to screw them up, or scar them for life, but sometimes children enter our lives before we’ve finished sorting out our own baggage.

When I started to write this post I thought it was headed somewhere different – I thought I was going to write about the difficulties I’ve had fining a common ground in a few scenarios recently.  When I started thinking about those chard starts, and where they came from, it overwhelmed my desire to write about anything else.  My gratitude for the good relationships I have is more important, and deserves to be shared.

In the fall my tiny man (toes pictured above) will be the next of our babies to experience the wonderful grandparent care we have in our “village.”  I will be so sad to not have him in the studio with me anymore (he’s been there since he was 2 weeks old, and is now 16 months) but so thankful that he is in such loving arms,



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Moxie & Oliver Creation Process

It all began with a search for the perfect leather belt. When artist Caitlin McNamara couldn’t find just that, the creating began. Moxie & Oliver has since expanded from a few belts to a plethora of handmade leather goods. Every piece is made completely from scratch, from beginning to end, in Caitlin’s Seattle studio.

All Moxie & Oliver pieces are made with full-grain tooling leather, which is the strongest type available, so that each item holds up for years of wear and tear. Caitlin’s signature process combines traditional leatherworking materials and modern techniques for a unique handmade experience. Every piece starts as a hyde of vegetable tan leather in a light flesh color. Vegetable tan leather uses tree bark and organic materials in the tanning process rather than chemicals. This means that it stays closer to its natural state, which allows it to retain colors and patterns in a way that chemically tanned leather doesn’t.  The vegetable tan leather used for Moxie & Oliver products comes untreated—all patterns, colors and dyes are added in the studio.

The hyde is then transformed cut into a shape using handmade patterns that are imprinted on it. Some patterns are branded onto the hyde and some are carved in. All stitching holes are hand punched then sewn together. The leather is painted and dyed in the studio, then stitched or riveted together by hand. All pieces include a protective topcoat so that the colors are permanent.

Since Moxie & Oliver began in 2004, Caitlin has been coming up with new patterns, items, and ways to explore the many uses of leather. The innovative line includes pretty much everything that can be made out of the material, including items that often come in only black, brown, or tan leather. Each piece gets softer and better with age, so you’re guaranteed to have a quality product that lasts!

Check out a video of the Moxie & Oliver process here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Long Road (and a Free Flask)


Have you ever wondered what the road looks like at 5:30 on a Friday morning in summer?  I never have.  Never wanted to know.  But it’s beautiful.  This weekend was the Anacortes Arts Festival, and I was invited to participate in their new “Ink Alley” feature, with some other equally hip vendors. This little festival is a hidden gem in the Northwest – I’ve lived here my entire life, with the festival happening just an 80 minute drive away, and had never heard of it until they asked me to participate.


Y’know how I know it’s only 80 minutes away? I drove up and back, every day, so I could spend the nights at home with my family.  I’m tired, and the car has 450 more miles on it than it did on Thursday.


Among the super hip vendors was “Nomad” – this super cute little trailer full of goodies from around the US.  They gutted and refurbished the trailer, and had it parked at the end of the street of booths.

Now I want a trailer.


And in a subtle post, the next flask give-away began.  To enter, go to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag a friend in the comments on the flask picture for your chance to win.

Good luck.  And congrats to Mark from Mark Poulin Jewelry who makes some of the most darling charms I have ever seen – he’s last week’s winner.

Going to work on a new project. It’s awesome.  Details will come soon.



Monday, July 28, 2014

The Duomo Duffel Bag

InstagramCapture_cc6c0646-41cd-4c85-96d2-25c2d3e73dbe_jpgduomo duffel 1duomo duffel 2duomo duffel 5duomo duffel 4duomo duffel 6

I think these pictures say it all. This bag is the ultimate luxury travel companion.  It’s a handmade leather duffel bag in the Duomo pattern, my old-world inspired architectural pattern, in sage, burgundy and antique black.

The Duomo Duffel Bag is cut from my original pattern, and the first one was made for Craig Forget of CarpenterCraig.  The dimensions are 10” by 10” by 20” and it has a zip closure and detachable handles and shoulder strap.

This bag is a wonderful size for a small travel – say, a weekend away? I need a weekend away, so I think one of my next projects will be to make myself one of these…



Friday, July 25, 2014

Bee Flask Friday!


Bee line 7-25

This week I chose the One Bee Flask.  I spend a lot of time drawing little bees, and this past week was no exception.

On Monday I had a videographer come in and shoot a video of me making a little bee pouch – so exciting!  Soon you’ll actually be able to see me making a leather good, all in the span of 90 seconds (which is, admittedly, much quicker than it took me to actually make it).

Anyway, on to the giveaway.  Thanks to all of you who entered last week, and congratulations to Lucy H. who entered on twitter and won!  Last week’s flask seems to be headed across the ocean.

This week the rules are the same, but the hash tag is different, so here it is – you can enter to win this flask three times, once on each platform.  Winner will be chosen 7/31.  Good luck!

1.  Follow us on Instagram (@moxieandoliver) and re-post the picture of this flask with tag #BestFlask

2.  Follow us on Facebook ( and share the picture of the flask with tag #BestFlask

3.  Follow us on Twitter (@moxieandoliver) and re-tweet our give-away tweet, with tag #BestFlask

Happy Friday,


Friday, July 18, 2014

Free Flask Friday!


7-18-14 simple

Today is an exciting day – it’s the first “Free Flask Friday” at the Moxie & Oliver studio.  For the last ten years I’ve been making hundreds, maybe thousands, of handmade leather and stainless steel flasks.  And because drinking is always better with friends, what better thing do do with these little beauties than to give some away?

The flask above was inspired by Cool Material’s month of beer quotes. Many of my flasks over the years have been personalized by customers with quotes of their choosing, but seeing a great collection of beer quotes inspired me to pick some of my own.  Oscar Wilde has some great drinking quotes, but this one from Bruce Tomlinson appealed to my hippy sensibilities as well.  There are a lot of spiritual people up here in the Northwest – no wonder we have so many craft distilleries!

This 4oz flask is the first we’ll give away. It is the Friday Flask with one of our favorite drinking quotes on it, in a beautiful blue color:

“Your body is a temple, you should keep some spirits in you.” – Bruce Tomlinson

To enter to win, just do the following:

1.  Follow us on Instagram (@moxieandoliver) and re-post the picture of this flask with tag #FFFmoxieandoliver

2.  Follow us on Facebook ( and share the picture of the flask with tag #FFFmoxieandoliver

3.  Follow us on Twitter (@moxieandoliver) and re-tweet our give-away tweet, with tag #FFFmoxieandoliver

Each # 1-3 above is good for one entry, and you can enter once on each platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) each week. Winner will be announced on all three on 7-24-14.  Good luck. 

In good spirits!