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!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thank you, Chicago Magazine

Somehow my Etsy shop, fivetrees, has made it into this year's Chicago Magazine Best of Chicago 2014 list. Crazy.

And flattering and so lovely.  I've had a year, to be sure, and I've made some big scary decisions, and so that this big happy unexpected honor has come along right now in the midst of all my other new happiness?  It's a generous and overwhelming gift.  (Total honesty? There was a night just recently when I was so excited I couldn't sleep)

So, thanks, Chicago Magazine!

Thanks, July

The summer seems to be rushing past and I wish that would stop.  But July has nevertheless been great.

Dan's been singing at Open Mic Nights at Fitzgerald's every Tuesday night.

We had our traditional July 4th backyard barbecue with Jess and Jett and a lovely addition of Tim and Lexi. The fireworks in our neighborhood are always crazy.  No reason to go anywhere to see fireworks, because our neighbors have all bought professional grade rockets.

We're officially online at the agency for birth moms to read our profile and consider us as possible parents for their babies AND we're officially certified by the State of Illinois to be a foster care family.

We've hung out with friends and each other and played Scrabble on the front porch and eaten good food and went to a Chirp Radio First Time and celebrated a few birthdays.

I saw this crazy enormous cicada on our fence post.  Before I used a flash on it, I thought it was a frog.

Dan and I saw Ted Leo and Aimee Mann perform at Millennium Park--which also means riding the train holding hands and lazing in the grass together and watching the sun set behind the Michigan Avenue skyline.

And the garden is doing really well.  I've canned 13 jars of dilly beans (beans and dill heads both from the back yard).  Tomatoes are beginning to ripen and we've been eating them with lunch and dinner. The squash plants haven't gotten quite as big I was hoping by this point, but I have been working hard on them--fertilizing and now spraying them with an anti-powdery mildew organic concoction--which feels good and satisfying.

I'm most excited about this teeny tiny watermelon.  When it's a bit bigger it will get a tiny sling to sit in and support it while it grows.

Life is slow and lovely. I'm working, but also living and taking big, deep, long, satisfying breaths and I feel lucky lucky lucky.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What a Difference a Month Makes

This year has been a funny year for gardening. The winter was brutal and so some perennials died back a bit. We also had a super cool spring and so we got started a bit late on planting the veg.

Just a bit over a month ago, this is what our newly planted vegetable garden looked like:

And as of a few days ago, after a serious weeding, it looked like this:

There are teeny tomatoes on all of the tomato plants.  Tiny cucumbers are growing. I have already made one small lunch batch of pesto from backyard basil and have used dill in a salad made with farmer's market potatoes.  It's so great to be able to walk out to the backyard at dinner time to "shop" for ingredients we need.

Gardening is like magic.  I mean, it's hard work, I guess.  But after such a miserable winter, it's hard to believe that all of this green and growing and bounty will return.  And that it grows like weeds on top of that?  It makes me feel lucky and it makes me feel proud that we have been working this ground for seven years now, creating a bed that supports all of this life and food production.

As proof of that. . . as I was weeding the whole garden on Sunday, I thought, "Why don't we use gardening cloth to keep these weeds down?"  But once I was done weeding and could see the darkness and loamy-ness of the soil, I thought, "We worked hard to make that soil so rich and pretty.  I'm not covering that up."  I am a silly and vain gardener as it turns out.

Plus, new for 2014! Dan has made me three trellises for container gardening: 


Our veg plot is so small, that it's hard to give up space to large trailing plants like watermelon or winter squash.  So, this year, I'm growing those and summer squash in containers with the hopes of growing them vertically and training a number of them up on to the trellises.  It's just a side bonus that they will also cover up our boring gray garage for a few months.

I definitely got a late start on these, but squash grow so quickly that I'm not worried.  And those containers are jam-packed with organic potting soil and manure.  By next month, I expect them to all be two to three feet up the trellises. And I have dreams of late summer watermelon and winter squash dotting the trellis in tiny support hammocks.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


So, on Thursday we have our first meeting with the adoption agency post-home study. Which means we're clicking up the big roller coaster hill towards finally going live with our birth mother letter and producing birth mother books so that potential birth mothers can find us and decide whether they might be interested in placing their babies with us.

Ridiculously exciting.  As soon as our profile is up online, I will share it with all of you, and maybe, if you like me and the Daniel, you could pass it along?  We're looking to adopt from Illinois or Indiana.

Anyhoo, we've done some work and searched our hearts and thought deeply about why we want a child and why each other would be a good parent, and it's been fun.  But it's also felt like super active waiting.  And, I think it's fair to say that we're ready to get past that and down to the business of knowing a birth mother/family and raising a baby. But there doesn't seem to be a way to rush this process, so my solution to help allay the anxiousness?  Nesting.

My first completed project is burp cloths. Six, so far, though if I can find another towel that we care little about, that number will likely double.  Here's the first batch:

Always good to have a fabric stash hanging around when you want to do an impromptu project to keep you from obsessively reading the 500th online article about cotton diapering.

I am also still underway working on stripping and repainting a piece of furniture for the baby's room.  While on a family walk, we found the bottom half of a built-in hutch and brought it home.  It will be a perfect dresser for baby once done.  But it's been a total monster to strip--layers and layers and layers of paint and one final stubborn heavy coat of shellac. The stripping is pretty much done.  Now I need to clean it with mineral spirits, sand it, prime it and then paint and stain away.
In the mail is coming a bunch of cotton gauze for swaddling blankets and yards of cute flannel for receiving blankets.  I have always disliked flannel.  The patterns are substantially awful--cutesie, terrible pastel colors, ugly, ugly, ugly--but thanks to, I have found great flannel and I am inordinately excited.  Look at some of these patterns:

The last two are so cute, I sort of want to frame them and keep them forever and ever and ever. Good to know that flannel with good design exists out there. . .

Anyhoo, all of this making and doing to keep the waiting feel like prep time instead of just waiting.