Tag Archives: gifts

our portrait collection continues

Hi! It’s good to be back after the holidays. I hope you had a nice one, maybe a change of pace for a bit. We traveled a lot as we always do, but we’re home now and I’m actually home-home for a day with no work. A rare treat for me these days. The girls start back to school on Wednesday.

So today will be a day of unpacking and packing. Actually, we’re pretty much unpacked, just not fully put away. That seems to always draw out for awhile, particularly after the holidays when we come back with extra goodies in our bags. But there will be some packing up as well – I think I’ll start to take down some of the Christmas decorations, although I’m sure we’ll leave some up through the weekend. And then I have to somehow wrap my head around packing up more of our house – as we live in it – we don’t completely know how the phasing of these house projects is going to shake out, although we should have a clearer idea about that soon. Regardless, there’s going to be a big push to clean up and clear out, and Januarys are good for pushing me in that direction.


You might recall that last Christmas the girls and I gave M two custom oil paintings – portraits of both girls for our portrait wall. I decided to keep up that tradition and build on it this year.

Funny story though…

I contacted local artist Cbabi Bayoc back in late summer about doing a piece for me because – get this – I was SO on top of my gift game. He graciously agreed to the project and then asked me to send him a few photos for ideas. I was catching up from vacation and busy at work, and so I sort of forgot about my return email. (For a few months.) I felt terrible about it, but it didn’t even jog my memory until early October when we were eating at SweetArt for breakfast. M mentioned to me that he’d love to contact Cbabi sometime to see if he had a print of the alphabet painting (slide 11 in that link) he had done for a library branch M built last year. (His actual piece was produced at a large scale on glass.) Outwardly I told him that was a great idea; inwardly I remembered that I had never followed through on the portrait piece.

I sent off an apology email and waited to hear back – but I didn’t. Fall marched forward, and I tried again. Still nothing – I knew he was busy. I looked into Plan B, and found an artist, June Chang, working in watercolors, that I liked through Minted’s custom artwork service (scroll down and you’ll see the girls on June’s page – I highly recommend working with her!). I sent June one of my favorite photos taken by Yvonne Niemann for our family, and she loved it and got to work.


I sent her a deposit… and then Cbabi emailed me the next day. (Of course!)

He found some time, he loved the bridge photo I sent him (my favorite as well), he could do the piece sometime in the next week and a half – what could I say?


Well, yes.

So that’s how I ended up with two paintings this year for M. OK, three. Because Cbabi also gave me that alphabet painting M had wanted!



I just adore this watercolor by June – she said it was her favorite piece all year, and I think it’s so perfect. The original photo by Yvonne was taken on the lawn outside of Central Library – you can see all of those photos here. (Do you see the little mouse in F’s hand?)


And when I picked up the piece by Cbabi on the morning we left for our Christmas travels, I almost started crying right in the restaurant. It was just so perfect.


I love this photo of the girls at the garden – he captured their round cheeks, and the light of the day, and it’s such a special place and memory to me. I love his style of painting and I love everything that he does, but this has got to be my favorite piece by him. I love having one of our garden mornings captured this way.


So cheers to more lovely art to adorn our walls – whenever all those walls are finished! 2017 is already off to a colorful start.

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.


admiring: Hamilton, in all its glory

Since the Broadway hit Hamilton is a frequent topic of conversation in our house – to the point that the seven-year-old will bust out lyrics like nobody’s business – “Hey guys, I want to be in the room where it happens!” – I thought I’d highlight a few fun things we’re considering for holiday gifts in these parts.

But first, I wanted to recommend the fantastic documentary – Hamilton’s America, the first in PBS’s Great Performances series.


It aired on PBS last Friday night, but my understanding is that it is available for streaming for four weeks, and after that point, you can still access it if you have PBS Passport (a benefit for PBS supporters, as we are). It was phenomenal. We loved watching the back story of how Miranda and his talented team worked for six years on this production, but it’s far more than just the story of how a show gets made. There are interviews with historians, politicians, artists, playwrights, musicians. Cast members visit and tour historical sites and view and touch journals and writing desks and weapons from the story. At one point near the end of the documentary, as they are discussing the inspiration behind the song “One Last Time” about George Washington stepping down from power, and the peaceful transition to a new leader, we were all pointing at the screen and shouting “This is so RELEVANT!” It’s just so much fun to deep dive into a subject in a new way, and it’s a testament to this living, breathing work of art that it’s so profoundly engaging and smart. So watch it!

This book is purchased for the little one:


I’m picking these up at the Book Fair next month for the big one:



And t-shirts, right?


I’m already excited for Christmas morning.

If you’ve got other Hamilton-inspired items, please let me know!