Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guess What?

Remember when I was waxing rhapsodic over these Bensimon shoes? And wishing I could find them in my size?
Well, I did find them! Or at least the lace up ankle sister-shoe (the ones above were sold out in my size).
I ordered them in gris claire (so french!). I'll pick them up tomorrow and will wear the heck out of them all summer long.
Bensimon Tennis Nils Lace Up Flats
l.o.v.e the rumply canvas and distressed edges. am i crazy for purchasing something this light in color? my other thought was this me decide?!

Bensimon Tennis Nils Lace Up Flats

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nothing New

Imagine my surprise (dismay?) when I opened my new anthropologie catalog this evening only to find this chair being offered...
which looks suspiciously like the one in the first photo and below, which I reupholstered two years ago. "Hmmm, even the fabric looks very similar" I though to myself. But surely that can't be. I used 100 year old homespun jute and flax/linen blend (not entirely sure) from France that I bought from someone on ebay. So I looked at anthro's website and guess what? The Lunet Chair is "upholstered in recycled jute sacks from France...Price $1698".

I don't know whether to be kinda proud of myself or annoyed that something I thought was so unique is now so accessible. Well, only if you have an extra $1698 laying around. Sheesh. Guess it just goes to show no matter how hard you try, there's nothing new under the sun.

Favorite Things: Day 31

Favorite Things: Day 31 This guy..

For being steadfast, loyal, loving, hard working

baby wearer, boy carrying


For being my best friend, confidante, encourager, challenger. For patiently putting up with my bleep. For making all my dreams come true by giving me the family I always wanted. But mainly for being the inimitable Ryan. I love you.

Favorite Things: Day 30

Favorite Things: Day 30 Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

You know, I was going to leave day 30 for something like "being a sibling/nurturing siblings", or "community", or "friendship" but decided, what are any of those, really, without a little sweetness? A tiny morsel when the craving hits. For me those cravings are satisfied with these Devil Food Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream. To be honest, I could do without the cupcake. I mean, it is made out of chocolate that I mix with fresh brewed coffee, and for a bite of something chocolatey, it does the trick. But for me it's just a vehicle with which to drive the buttercream into my waiting mouth. Mmmm, as Blythe is fond of saying. And she hasn't even tried these yet.
Brown sugar buttercream was new to me so I went for the same method as I do my lemon meringue white buttercream...egg whites whisked together with brown sugar over a double boiler until warm and shiny, then beaten into a frenzy, in part to cool the mixture off. Then you add the butter. I won't say how much, but it's a lot. The moment it all comes together and begins to look like something you could actually ice a cake with is a glorious one and the point at which my mouth begins to salivate with expectation.

I love the salty-sweet of the butter and brown sugar and have been known to keep the leftovers in the fridge for a pick me up late afternoons when Mama needs a secret treat. Good stuff.

Favorite Things: Day 29

Favorite Things: Day 29 Sweaters

All I can say is, one can never have too many. Long sleeve, cardigan, pull over, turtle neck, cable knit, fine gauge knit, metallic, 3/4 sleeve, shawl collar, puffed shoulder, boat neck with stripes, cashmere, merino wool, cotton, linen, cotton/wool blend, variegated, handmade, vintage, store bought.
They're all good.

And no, I don't have too many.

Favorite Things: Day 28

Favorite Things: Day 28 Traditions

Ryan carrying Felix up the hill to the hut.

One of my very favorite things is carrying over traditions from both our sides of the family, as well as beginning new ones with our own brood.

Thanksgiving, when I was growing up, always entailed about 20 extra people as well as make shift table of plywood on sawhorses, covered nicely with a starched white table cloth. We pulled out boxes of Noritake china from under the stairs and washed each piece carefully. I loved polishing the silver, ironing the napkins, and setting the table with candles and place markers. The kitchen was a hub of activity, with amazing smells driving us all wild with hunger. There was the year Mom accidentally dropped the 25+ lb. turkey on the floor, creating a scene right out of The Christmas Story, and the other year Aunt Suzie traipsed around our soft pine wood floors in spiky heels, leaving an indelible mark on our floor that nearly sent my father into an apoplectic fit.

Christmas began with the hunt for the perfect i.e. tallest tree in christendom that we would then cut down, tie to our car, and drive merrily home. One year, our eyes were bigger than our strength, and we had to use a pully system, with me standing on the front porch, tugging on a rope through the dormer window to get the tree in an upright position. I think that one was close to 15-17 feet high? Christmas also included copious amounts of yummy food, including the year Mom made a traditional English plum pudding and tried to light it on fire with brandy soaked sugar cubes. Many attempts at lighting failed and then suddenly, whoosh, it seemed to explode and we all gasped then applauded. Good times.

Since we moved to Wisconsin, my side of the family has been traveling here for Thanksgiving. Everyone pitches in for the big meal as well as all the other meals of the week, lots of games of dominoes are played, beer is drunk, but the best part of Thanksgiving is an afternoon at Indian Lake. There is a wonderful warming hut on top of a hill there, with a wood stove and a stash of firewood. We haul in food and supplies and spend the afternoon mostly outside, around the big fire pit, with the hut as a place to warm up if need be. It's become a tradition almost every one in the family looks forward to the most.

Noel starting a fire in the hut's woodstove.

My older brother James also ropes anyone he can into running the Berby Derby with him Thanksgiving morning which I feel conflicted about. On the one hand, I enjoyed the race the year I ran it, but on the other hand, I'd much rather wake up late and eat a large breakfast instead. Either way, it's a fun tradition.

Our family has created lots of other traditions. Some of them will remain the same for years to come, others may change a bit to fit our changing schedule and kids' desires. Either way, it's a lovely way to create memories and an anticipation for the years to come.

Favorite Things: Day 27

Sam & Oliver playing on the beach at Sherando Lake
Favorite Things: Day 27 State Parks

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of camping at a place in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Sherando Lake. Camping is only $15 night (still) and the sites are private and shaded with easy access to restrooms and water. We'd go for hikes, rent a canoe, or swim in the lake that also has a nice sandy beach. For a family of 6 on limited income, it was an affordable and ideal vacation.

Devil's Lake in Wisconsin is a favorite place to camp and hike because of how much it reminds me of Sherando and it's proximity (about an hour 15 minutes from our home). We also like Governor Dodge, Lake Kegonsa (10 minutes away) and Indian Lake. For a paltry $25 park sticker fee, we can have year round access to all this free entertainment and exercise.

Most state parks were created by the CCC, a government program FDR founded to give out of work men jobs and to create a service for the people of our nation. I remember my mom telling me stories of my Grandpa Shomon hauling logs up steep hills to make steps and trails in various parks around the country and to this day, I think of him every time we find ourselves hiking one of these parks.

I'll be fulfilling a dream in two weeks when I take the boys camping at Sherando Lake for the first time!

Favorite Things: Day 26

Favorite Things: Day 26 Eating al fresco

Favorite Things: Day 25

Favorite Things: Day 25 Books

Although Cydney makes a great case for the audible book and kindle, nothing will ever replace a good old fashioned bound book in my aesthetic. I've always been seduced by antique/vintage books especially and from a very young age, began collecting them at library sales my mom would take me to. Some of my most prized books are a complete collection of Louisa May Alcott's works my mother gifted me for my birthday a few years ago. She bought them in Hawaii at her friend's book shop and learned that they were owned by two young girls whose family came to Hawaii to be missionaries at the turn of last century. Her father prized books more than anything and built a shelter for their abundant collection before building a house for the family. The inscription reads to either Miss Ethel or Miss Anna Paris from a Mrs. Carter, 1900-1904. I love thinking about these girls, far away from their home and living in a strange land but being transported into Alcott's world just as I am every time I open one up.

I also have the complete works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Thackeray, Guy de Maupassant, almost all antique copies of Edith Wharton and Henry James, George Eliot, and Victor Hugo. I love the gilt edges, the decorative spines, the beautiful illustrations, the different typefaces, and yes, even the slight musty smell some of them emit.

When I packed up my car to drive solo from VA to Seattle at the age of 19, my little Toyota Corolla was packed to the gills with boxes and boxes of books. When my car caught on fire in the Nevada desert, I had all those boxes shipped to my final destination, rather than leave them behind, which just shows my dedication to the printed word. It's gotten a little out of hand, and sometimes I think I need to pare down. But then I sit in our reading room and realize I could never part with any of these friends.

Favorite Things: Day 24

I really wish I had done a better job journaling the last few years. My entries are scattered, interrupted, and largely unfinished since I often am scattered and/or interrupted whenever I sit down to write. I'm grateful for the journals I do's so interesting to peruse entries from a decade ago and see where I've grown, matured and changed as well as the things I still continue to work through/think about. Journals are also a great cache for memorabilia (just found tickets from the Eiffel Tower in one), artistic sketches (or in my case, clippings from magazines), and poetic phrases that need to be written down.

I loved finding the entry above from a cross country trip my mom and I took from VA to Seattle in made me smile to see that even then, the Wisconsin landscape took a hold of my heart and dragged me in.

I have journals for all the boys, although naturally, Sam's has the most written in it, since Sam was born first and had the bulk of my uninterrupted attention (his is the leather bound marbled paper one above that I purchased in Montepulciano the trip we found out we were expecting him). I've been trying to write more frequently for each boy. I haven't decided when I'll pass them on to the boys, but it will be on a significant birthday when they are much older. For quick use, I love the "My Quotable Kid" journal from Chronicle Books that Blythe gave us...each page has a space for date, place, kid, and then the quote. I keep it within easy grasp so I can write things down immediately that need to be immortalized.