Category Archives: making

holiday wrappings


I’m never really sure where I’m going to end up each Christmas when I start putting packages together. This year I found myself gravitating towards these ‘peacock’ colored envelopes for my cards, and so I ended up picking up some wrapping paper in the same color. I had some gold twine on hand, and some coppery paper scraps that I thought might look good with it, so I decided to fully embrace the metallics and picked up a long (and slightly tacky) garland that I cut into smaller pieces. I think they sort of resemble feathers.


They work well for traveling – they stack easily and don’t get smashed in the process. I went looking for boxes for baking items, and found these shiny peacock colored ones – only they photograph as bright blue because of their shininess, so they don’t look so matchy in these photos.


We packaged up a dozen of our ginger-apricot-chocolate cookies with some Naughty Vicar from The London Tea Room for friends’ gifts, and I delivered most of those last night before heading over to watch the rest of the family, and E’s youth group, ice skating in Forest Park.


I have the teacher gifts put together as well – I’ll probably send those with E tomorrow, even though school’s not out for another week. These are good sizes for middle school teachers – it gets a little trickier when the kids have eight teachers, but we still like to so something sweet for them for the holidays. We made a holiday assembly line on Tuesday night and knocked out all the string tying and box assembling and labeling, and yesterday afternoon was a marathon baking session at the house. We had girls scouts making six dozen cookies for a local charity, and then I also made the majority of our baked gifts. Just a couple more making items for next weekend, and we’re wrapped up.


portrait wall beginnings

Portraits 1

I’m not sure why I never posted this after the holidays, but I thought about it this weekend since Father’s Day is approaching. I find that buying gifts for my husband is tricky sometimes. He has lots of interests, but not the kind of hobbies that lend themselves to new gear purchases. He’s very tall and thin, and typically has to order clothing to fit, so it’s also not really easy to spot a nice shirt and pick it up for a gift. I’m actually excited this year about our Father’s Day gifts that the girls and I picked out, but I can’t talk about those here quite yet. But I thought I’d share what we gave him for Christmas this past year.

M spent a ton of time last year working on the stair hall that goes through the center of our house – painting, updating light fixtures, final fittings on the stair treads, etc. On the middle floor we have a great wall for hanging portraits, and once some of the other projects start wrapping up, I’d like to start building that. I thought a neat way to fill it would be to commission portrait work from different artists each year. I started with Paul Ferney last year, and commissioned these two pieces.

I chose a picture of each girl, and this time I focused on our favorite place – the beach – and two activities that make me think of M and the way he loves to play at the beach with each girl. The underwater shot of E is one that M took while goofing off in the pool, flipping and splashing and diving. I love the light and everything about it. (I also loved Ferney’s beach paintings, so I knew this was a good match.)

Ella-Underwater photo

Portraits 2

The one of F makes me think of the quieter moments at the beach – the way M gets the umbrellas positioned just right for shade, and the way we sit under them and relax. This particular photo of F is the start of a colossal city of sand that M helped her build all afternoon. It had roads and bridges and tunnels and towers. It was one of my favorite afternoons ever, just watching them work, chasing the shade as the sun moved through the sky.


Portraits 3

I’ve got plenty of ideas for future pieces – some local artists, some distant ones. (And maybe a few in our own house!) If you’ve got someone you’d recommend, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to take a look at their work.

guest (story): peeking in e’s sketchbook

Sketchbook 5

E received this sketchbook from her mentor, R, on the day of her confirmation. (Remember R of ella-print shirt fame?) She’s had her nose buried in a book since school let out, but after blazing through a half dozen titles, she’s now buried in her sketchbook for hours on end. I thought I’d open it up to the last couple of pages and show you what she’s working on and ask her a few questions.

She’s been using a copic marker set she received for Christmas from her grandparents, and she had some work done in those. I suggested taking an ink pen over them for some added detail work, and she took that idea and ran with it.

Sketchbook 3

I love the pinwheels she started and finished today. She sketched them out in pencil first, and then did the contrasting sides of the paper, like a real pinwheel. She even taught her little sister how to draw them.

Sketchbook 2

Sketchbook 4

Her sketches reminded me of Lisa Congdon’s sketchbook spreads, so I showed her some of those this afternoon. (I follow Lisa on Instagram @lisacongdon, and I highly recommend it!) Lisa does a lot of white linework on colors, and E’s elephant and this growing village (it’s now twice the size since I took this photo) reminds me of her work.

Sketchbook 1

I think it’s so important to have some sort of daily practice at what you love to do – especially since E seems really engaged and enthusiastic about art and graphic design. Sketchbooks are some of the best tools to beat summer boredom, and having good tools is always the way to go. She talked about trying out some pinwheels in a larger format with watercolors and masking fluid, using a similar technique to the popsicles I made recently. I think that’s a really cool idea – I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.


Q: What is your favorite medium to work in?

E: Watercolors, or ink – or a combination of both! For totally different reasons – watercolor is really freeing, you can make things as detailed or loose as you want to. Ink has a lot more control, and you can do the tiniest details ever. My favorite is the combination of the two! I love these watercolor like markers I’ve been using.

Q: Do you think you’ll be doing a lot of drawing / painting this summer?

E: Is that even a real question? Um… yeah.

Q: What projects would you like to tackle this summer?

E: I would like to do a really large watercolor painting – I’m excited to try something on a larger scale.

Q: What’s your favorite work you’ve done to date?

E: That’s a hard one. Maybe the painting of a gnome that I did on canvas this past year. I also get “gently teased” for my school projects – they tend to be really large and elaborate. (Mom edits to add: And take forever, driving everyone insane and robbing us of necessary sleep!)

Q: Is there any medium that’s really challenging to you that you wish you could do better?

E: Painting people is really hard. I can draw people okay, but painting them is really tough.

Me: Thanks for answering my questions and for letting us peek inside your sketchbook.

E: (Giggles) Anytime. It’s not like it’s a diary!