Saturday, September 27, 2014


Riding the ferry to Ocracoke right now and I can't believe how different this year is from last. Mostly because I'm so happy. There's no panic, no hidden panic. There's just big deep breaths and smiling smiling smiling.

If you are crushingly sad or worried in a way that closes you up inside, please get help or take a break or practice yoga or something.  The world is a spectacular joy-filled place. I promise.

Okay, I look a little crazy eyed there. But that's a lie. That smile is a genuine sane smile . :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Pillows on Fivetrees

Hey Folks! My darling husband bought me a digital drawing pad for my last birthday and it's come in super handy this year of creating.  Hot off the presses are these new pillows that I designed/drew, had printed on fabric and then sewed into cute little plush items for the nursery or kiddo's bedroom.

Posted in the fivetrees shop just today. . . . Hope you like them!

And with an impending vacation on the horizon, I suspect more animal head designs or scaled down ornament sized pieces will be on their way before the holidays are upon us!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer is winding down

Despite the cool weather this summer, it's been a pretty great year for the garden--loads of tomatoes, beans, cukes, nasturtiums, chard, swiftly growing basil, zucchini, squash, and plenty of fresh herbs.  And beyond the weather, it was nice to have the time to really tend to the garden.  I stuff an awful lot of food growth in to a teeny tiny space and so weeding and trimming and staking regularly makes a huge difference in yield and overall garden prettiness.

Spending time gardening is curative and restive--both things that, frankly, I needed quite a bit of.  It makes a small sustainable peace within me. The joy of stewarding the land (even such a small plot). The connection to my family and my family's history of gardening and farming. The pleasure of--for a few short months--eating food that tastes deeply like food and that I know is chemical free and sustainably grown. The pride that comes from feeding that food to my friends and family. Gardening can truly fix what ails you.

There was a moment while picking beans in July and throwing them into my rubber trug, that they made this sound--a little hollow thump and roll--that I suddenly remembered so clearly hearing as a child when helping out on the farm. It was a moment that made me nostalgic and glad. It's a pleasing sound and I felt lucky in that moment to have heard it and remembered for a moment weeding and picking in the garden in the bottomlands with Mom and Dad and Rich and Grandma and Grandpa Stewart.

And so, a wonderful summer, and somehow it's already coming to a close. This may be the best summer I have ever had. I suspect that Dan might say the same. But the hyacinth beans are blooming and the cicada are grinding long and loud during our front porch Scrabble games and butternut squash are beginning to show up at the farmer's market--all sure signs that things are winding down.

In honor of the close of summer coming, I thought I would borrow from Pip from Meet Me at Mike's, a fun way to take stock of what is happening right at this very moment. . .
Making : Animal head pillows, hoping they turn out.
Cooking : Just found a recipe for California Roll Nachos.  Yes, please.
Drinking : Iced Tea, by day.  Gin and Tonics by night.
Reading: I don't think I want to admit to what I am currently reading, but David Mitchell's new book is on its way to the house.
Wanting: More core strength.  My new thing is not worry about thinner, only stronger.
Looking: at all my favorite blogs as I do every weekend.  a great mix of design and farming/cooking sites. One of my faves is Whole Larder Love--farming, hunting, gathering in the Down Under.
Playing: Scrabble with Dan, but also trying to learn ukulele
Deciding: What to do with my life.  How at 40 can I not know what I want to be when I grow up?
Wishing: I could have all the dogs
Enjoying: Dan's and LP's company.
Waiting: For a match with a birth mother.  I am ever so ready to mother somebody.
Liking: Lots of cool kid's stuff on pinterest. While we wait, I am planning.
Wondering: where I will be this time next year
Loving: Dan, LP, everyone, life, being creative, reading, being settled and centered
Pondering: How to make a cloth totem pole and beautiful tailored wool clothes for dolls
Considering: inviting people over while Dan is out of town--pretty late notice, though.
Watching: whatever I want. Dan goes to Hopscotch later this week.
Hoping: that I will continue to be happy and well
Marvelling: At what a difference a year makes.
Needing: Cool weather again so that I can start cooking fall food.
Smelling: So sad. . . I don't really have a sense of smell
Wearing: A new Boden tunic--far too often
Following: Steve Mulcahy on facebook. He cracks me up.
Noticing: the signs of the impending end of summer.
Knowing: that soon turning forty-one-derful will be lovely
Thinking: about what big project to knit next.  Need a trip project.
Admiring: This Naterade cartoon. being good too each other is sooooo important.
Sorting: through critters for posting on etsy.
Buying: A small boost to my fall wardrobe from Boden.
Getting: ready for our fall vacation to the Outer Banks.
Bookmarking: Library books.  having a library card and using it has been amazing.
Disliking: Ebola. . . there should be a much harsher word for this, but is this freaking anyone else out?
Opening: An Amazon box soon filled with books for our late September vacation
Giggling: at old Frank Sidebottom videos.  So joyful and weird.
Feeling: Lucky
Snacking: On cherry tomatoes. They're coming out our eyeballs.
Coveting: Moleskin Livescribe Notebooks, check it.
Wishing: That I get to go to MFK for my birthday dinner.
Helping: Hopefully, my friend Piper with her new teeny boy when her man returns to work
Hearing: Dan practicing in the basement.

You should try this.  It's fun.  Thanks, Pip!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

LP in late day sun

I was playing with sir fluffy pants late in the day, sun slanting low over the garage. I was being blinded as I was throwing him the toy, and while usually not great light to photograph directly into, I snapped blind shots of LP running around anyway.

I got a lot of bit of nose and toy, washed out back paws leaping out the frame, black and white blur against larger blurs.  But then I got this picture:

 LP and I have become close friends this summer, maybe closer than we have been for the eleven years we've known each other.  He's with me pretty much all the time and it's hard not to drop everything and cuddle, scratch, or wrestle with him. Dogs are pretty much the best thing in the world--along with husbands and gardens and family and friends and good food--and LP is easily in the top 2%.

I also got this picture, which I had to share.  It's just his butt, but the way the sun is lighting it up. . . it hardly looks real.  Am I wrong?

Seriously. It's lit like an aerial shot of the Swiss Alps.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fancy Party Notes

So, Dan and I braved Chicago Magazine's Best of Chicago 2014 party at the Chop Shop in Wicker Park. I figured it would either be my worst nightmare (because I get skittish in crowds of strangers) or loads of fun.  Turns out, it was both.


In the circles we run in, I think Dan and I are cool-ish.  He's a great musician with a voice like an angel and can code stuff. I am creative and can make just about anything with my hands to cuddle on or to eat with joy. We're both nice and smart and decent in most conversations. People like knowing us.

But in a crowd of gorgeous gastropub hotties, swinging socialites, and gingham summer suit dandies. . . we don't exactly stand out or attract interest. So, we were, as a couple, an island.  The good news is that I love our island and Dan is really cute and funny and we were a little fun-having rock in the stream of fancy fancy fancies.

The open bar and the free eats didn't hurt either.

Three stand-outs from the evening were--surprise, surprise--food-related: 

1. We kept seeing another couple that looked similar to us, wandering around together looking sweet and nice and a bit out of place.  We vowed to say Hi to them at some point and finally cornered them on a couch in the "Emirates Airlines VIP Lounge" (seriously?  If you know me, just from the name of that room, you know how out of place I was. . . ).  He was there representing Little Goat Diner--a diner we will now go to because the couple was so nice to us (Ryan and Georgia?) and so earnest about how great the place is.

But the whole time we were talking to these sweet sweet young people, an Emirates airlines commercial was looped on a giant screen behind their heads--a woman taking a shower in-flight, people dripping in money eating gourmet meals and mingling at the free standing bar in the center of the plane.  And at the terminus of the flight in Dubai? Attending polo matches.  Um. . . totally surreal.

2. Honey-glazed donuts from Endgrain.  Holy crap. Those donuts were a life-changing experience. I have a huge chip on my shoulder about donuts--always whining that the best donuts in the world are made by Busken's in Cincinnati and isn't it shameful that Chicago, as big as it is, can't make a donut at least as good as the donuts from my hometown. Well Endgrain, dear sweet Endgrain, has stepped up with the most ridiculously unbearadelicious donut I've ever eaten.

Honey glazed, but then in the center is this thin layer of an incredibly light slightly sour cream--a bit like cheese cake--and it's texture matches so perfectly with the texture of the donut that at first bite, I knew something magical was happening, but I couldn't tell there was a cream involved.  I HATE filled donuts.  Hate them. With a white hot blinding passion of hate.  But these were heaven.

Dearest Endgrain, we will be visiting you.  But we will call ahead to make sure my new donut boyfriend is in stock before we come. (in the picture above, I think my beau is the blurry one in the background. . . )

3. The Chop Shop sliders?  What?  Shut up.  We'll be back to eat you, too, and to try out your charcuterie buddies.  You reminded us just the tiniest bit of a fancied up Olympic Provisions in Portland--high praise indeed. 

So, all in all, a successful evening was had.  And we were home by 9:08 PM and asleep by 9:30. Sexy. sexy. sexy.

Dan will always be on my Best of Chicago list.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

fivetrees additions

New softies making their way to the fivetrees etsy shop this weekend and probably into next week.  I'm working on a new project--a simple sweet project to be revealed soon--but in the meantime, I need to get completed work into the shop.

Yesterday, I did a little photoshoot out in the garden. The air is so crisp and clear and downright autumnal this summer (good and bad. . . like summer never even happened), that it has been really nice to take photos outdoors.

So, the weather cooperated, but my helper kept sneaking into the photos:

He sneaks in all nonchalant, slowly filling the viewfinder. He doesn't make eye contact and makes it all look like it's not intentional.  And when I laugh and tell him to get out, he looks at me with surprise as if to say, "Oh, sorry, I didn't see you there!"

Oh, L.P., you're simultaneously the best and the worst.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

new cute things

I've been on a making frenzy.  In part, because we're in the adoption process and I want to make a million cute things for our future niblet.

But also, I just have loads of ideas and, maybe for the first time, am really creating from this place of joy and light.

When I started making things, it was because I was miserable at my job and making cute animals and creatures cheered me up. But now that job is a thing of the past and I have a part time gig and all of this time to think and imagine and make things. Except for those blissful unaware summers of my (or anyone's) young childhood, I don't think I've ever been happier.

Here's what happy makes:

These fellas are all being slowly added to the fivetrees shop. . . with more on the way!