Monday, August 25, 2014

An Artist’s Wedding




This weekend we went to my stepfather’s wedding – I was a bridesmaid for the first time in my life.  I was the maid of honor even. The funny thing is that I actually did not know I was the “original bridesmaid” until the rehearsal.  She had asked me and a few other women to be involved in the wedding, but somehow it just didn’t register until Friday that I was really a part of it. And I was honored to be.

My daughter was the flower girl.  She’s four, and fortunately she got to walk down the aisle with me.  She threw those flowers way up in the air with everything she could muster.  It was hilarious.


I made the guest book – the sweet little wood grain and heart “Nice” pattern seemed totally appropriate for a Northwest outdoor wedding on an island. 

I also made some of the favors.  We made 117 of our Original Mason Jar Lanterns, also in the “Nice” pattern.  Actually, we made the straps and then sent those along.  Bride and Groom enlisted some help to assemble them – they don’t take long to put together, and it’s certainly easier to buy the jars locally than have them shipped. They looked so sweet on the tables – some filled with candles, others with flowers. 

I know I made them, but I was so excited to take ours home.  So was my daughter, as she was swinging around her lit lantern in the dark.


The other favors were little birds that my stepfather made. Each guest had a little birdy waiting on their napkin.  He’s currently working on a commission piece with many more birds – the guys waiting in the little cups are ready to be cast into plaster molds then turned into glass birds.


There’s so much emotion at a wedding, and I think I was so focused on just getting the favors and the guest book done that I wasn’t able to lose myself in the emotion of it.  But as I stood up there, with my husband and baby boy in the first row (going “mama mama mama”) all I could think was that I’d marry him again in a heartbeat.

That’s the thing that I realized once about relationships, and every once in a while it hits me again – you marry that person that you don’t ever want to be without.  On our way home my husband and I were talking about the vows that my stepdad and his new wife exchanged, and he pointed out that these were vows of people who had been through some struggles in their relationship.  And he’s right.  At 23 and 27 our vows were very different.  Our vows were silly, sweet, and made by people who hadn’t yet been through some of the rougher times of a relationship. 

I suggested that we go do a vow renewal on our 10 year anniversary (in Mexico, where we were married, and yes it’s at least partially an excuse to go back).  He asked me why, since we seem to be doing just fine on our vows.  I said it’s not the big things – I would never do anything to jeopardize our relationship – but the daily things, that make the difference.  Those are the things we need to remind each other of, and ourselves.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.”



After this weekend I’m feeling lots of love.  For the happy couple (don’t they look happy?  So super cute!), for my husband and family, and for my new family.  My grafted family tree keeps growing.



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.