January 26, 2012

bridal emergency kit

When I was getting married, a lot of my friends were too.  So, like many women, I found myself in a bridal whirlwind in which napkin colors, the d.j. vs. band conundrum, and tent rentals were all of monumental importance.  At this time, I came into possession of a Bridal Emergency Kit.  I was not the first bride to get it.  It came to me from a friend after her wedding, and it was a mammoth drawstring bag full of tons of little travel-sized items, all of which some bride along the way had found to be handy on her big day.  The idea was that you would add something after your own wedding and pass it on, which I did.

Much more recently, a young woman I know announced that she would be tying the knot.  She wanted me to create some fun totes for her bridesmaids and mom like I made for another friend last summer.  Now, it is important to note that this woman holds a special place in my heart because she was my long-term substitute when I was on maternity leave with my second child.  She did a fantastic job, really went above and beyond,  and anyone who teaches knows that having a sub who you can really trust makes all the difference in the world.  When it came time to deliver the totes, I wanted to include a little something extra.  A Bridal Emergency Kit seemed like the perfect thing.  Some girlfriends and I brainstormed a list and assembled the following items, all in the small travel sizes:
  • lip balm
  • breath mints
  • ibuprofen
  • little folding hairbrush with built-in mirror
  • lint roller
  • snack-sized energy bar
  • safety pins
  • wet wipes
  • bobby pins
  • a sewing kit
  • clear nail polish
  • bandages
  • antacids
  • tissues
  • dental floss
  • deodorant
  • hair spray
  • hand lotion
  • nail polish remover
  • scissors
  • small disposable toothbrushes
We tossed it all into one of my zippered toiletry bags and she loved it!  My point is, you've doubtlessly got some shower gifts on your list or at least a gal at work who is about to get hitched . . . why not throw together one of these little kits for her?  You can add or subtract items as you see fit.  It is a great gift because it gets her excited about her wedding day and she can just toss into her carry-on for the honeymoon.  Genius! 

January 17, 2012


A cozy sitting area perfect for a little reading or knitting by the fire.
It was William Morris, one of the major players in the Arts and Crafts Movement, who said: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."  This has come to be my Platonic ideal of housekeeping and decorating.  Of course, I am nowhere near living within these parameters, but I do strive to at least move in this direction.  I know a few people who seem to be a little closer to the mark, and they challenge me to create a living environment for my family that is both functional and inspiring.  Two such people are my own parents.
This space was originally an outdoor atrium.  As a sun room, it is used year round and fills the house with light. 
I grew up in a modest rancher in the Oakland Mills neighborhood of Columbia, Maryland.  My parents were among the first to move into the new community in the early 70's, but they began transforming their house into a distinctive and unique home from the moment they moved in.  Comparatively few of their changes have been major structural overhauls.  They've worked within the innovative, open floor plan, adding architectural details here and there, infusing the entire space with antiques, finds from their travels, books and art, and other treasures from their life together.

Though the kitchen has been completely renovated, the large footprint of the room is an original feature of the home.

Because of the flow to the house, the formal dining room is really multi-purpose, working as a central space for congregating.

After traveling in Japan, my parents were inspired to create a spot for quiet reflection in the more private section of the home, overlooking the garden and the public open space beyond.
My parents have now lived in their work in progress for almost 40 years, tinkering all the while, and what they have created is truly exquisite.  My sister and I both feel strongly that growing up in an aesthetically stimulating environment made a huge difference in our world views.  Square footage is not the secret to a beautiful, functional home--love and creative vision are, and I am lucky to have parents with both qualities in spades. 

January 11, 2012

the fun in failure

We had a great project idea today--we were going to make stamps out of stuff we had lying around the house!  Maybe even use the stamps to make Valentines.  I couldn't argue with my boys' enthusiasm, so we got started right away, gathering up the materials: glue, scissors, some pipe cleaners, cardboard from the recycling, a stamp pad, card stock in a few colors.  Our thought was that we could create shapes out of the pipe cleaners, glue them to the cardboard, and then stamp to our heart's content.  We whipped up a few different shapes and waited for the glue to dry.

Then, we stamped.

Underwhelmed?  So were we.  And we got some glue on the stamp pad.  But here's the thing--we didn't throw in the towel.  We started trying some different things, and it turned out that our "stamps" served very nicely for crayon rubbings.  And then we discovered that lots of things were nice for crayon rubbings, like the miniature pie tin from the play kitchen and the surface of our work stools.  Card stock wasn't looking so hot, so we switched to regular weight paper.  That was better.  My older son thought it would be even better if we used the special-edge scissors to cut the rubbings out, and we glued those onto the card stock.

It wasn't what we planned, but it sure was fun, and the boys were using so many skills--problem solving, collaboration, brainstorming.  All in all, our big fat failure turned into quite a successful afternoon.  I think there's a lesson in that, don't you?

January 1, 2012

note to self

Okay, New Year's resolutions can be a little hokey, but in my mind, they do have their place.  Taking a moment to pause and reflect is an important part of living a purposeful life.  I decided that this year, rather than make traditional resolutions, I would just make a "Note to Self", a reminder to myself of the things that need to be priorities even though they may slip through the cracks at times.  I created this postcard using one of Michelle Underwood's wonderful free digital scrapbooking kits available at Two Peas in a Bucket.  I made it in a 4" x 6" size so that I can slip it into a frame and keep it next to my bed throughout the year.  I've made a blank one for you to fill out if you'd like to give it a try, and you can find it here.  Happy New Year!