Aug 11

Internet Walkabout: Jessica Durrant’s It’s a Black and White World

Daniel and I are pulling together pieces for the wall to the right of our new desk area, with an emphasis on black and white (or gray, of course).  Thus far, we have a photograph from my travels as a kid, a few photographs from our travels together, some of our favorite nerdy prints from Etsy, and an old record Dan picked up at a thrift store before I met him.

After a few weeks almost completely devoid of Etsy (and Pinterest), and a lovely evening walk with my sweetie and my pups, I decided to look for some black and white art that’d steal my heart.  (Sorry, I had to go for that.  I just had to.)

Anyway, it didn’t take long to come across these beauties… No. 4 and No. 5 from Jessica Durrant‘s series of watercolor world maps.  Now the only question is which color do I like best?


Jessica Durrant - It's a Black and White World

Or black?

Jessica Durrant - It's a Black and White World

(It’s pretty much the decision I face every weekeday… regarding shirts.)

In all seriousness, these breathtaking pieces are exactly the calming bits of art I think will be perfect for our office area.  And, I think I’ll go with white… And keep wishing I were in the Atlanta area so I could take one of Jessica’s art classes.

Jul 11

Gift Giving: In-Law

My in-laws are good folks.  They are honest, hardworking, selfless, loving, and remarkably patient with all of us.  They have four boys, a girl in the middle, three daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, two granddaughters, two grandsons (I should say 4.9, as my sister-in-law is due this summer), and two dogs.

Both my in-laws have worked in education for years, and as many of you know education is not a job you get to leave at the office when you head home for the day.  In addition to his full-time job at a high school, as a grandfather, and as a sweetie to my mother-in-law, my father-in-law (like my father) is also responsible for his church congregation.  But, despite their busy schedule, my in-laws recently made time to come visit Daniel and I here in Arkansas, and their visit got me thinking…


Sometimes I don’t go through the process I used to find a gift for Jen… Sometimes I hold onto my idea for the perfect gift until a gift-giving occasion rolls around.  And sometimes I come up with an excuse to give the perfect gift, for no occasion at all.  So, today I’m here you tell you about the most-recent time I knew exactly what I would buy months before the occasion rolled around.


Now, back to my in-laws… who, like my own parents, are are quite adept at growing edible stuff.  In addition to a large garden, they grow oranges, grapefruit, lemons, blackberries, and bananas.  Their yard stands out as a cool oasis in the middle of an otherwise dessert-ish Mesa, Arizona.  And, to match their green yard, my in-laws have some green habits.

Don’t go picturing a pair of 50ish hipsters–my in-laws are legitimately earth-conscious.  They are not in it to be trendy or to win fans, it’s who they are.  They’ve been in this nature-loving routine longer than I’ve been alive, and they know their stuff.

Arguably, their most-noticeable green habit is composting.  I say most-noticeable, because my father-in-law has historically kept an old plastic container (that originally held dishwasher detergent packets) on the counter next to their kitchen sink for items to be taken out to the compost bin.  And, as you can imagine, a clear container holding a few days worth of carrot shavings, lettuce bits, corn remnants, and old tomatoes isn’t exactly unnoticeable in an tidy kitchen.  Even with the lid closed tightly and no hint of a smell, it is not a pretty site.

So, after spending a month with them in 2010 and hearing a few conversations about the clever, although less-than-cute container, I had a pretty good idea what I’d be getting them for the next gift-giving occasion.

Idea #1 (& Only)

Brushed Stainless-Steel Compost Pail by Williams Sonoma


It was perfect.  It matched their appliances and their sink.  It was shiny (and not transparent).  The design included replaceable filters to prevent the natural stink of compost from doing its thing in the kitchen.  And, the best bit?  It was undeniably useful.  I knew it would  make my MIL happy and not seem unnecessary to my practical FIL.

The dimensions sounded a bit large.  It would likely be covered in fingerprints.  And I feared that, despite the filters, it would still stink.


Honestly, I never really made a decision.  My mind was made up as soon as I had the idea.  The hardest part was being patient enough to wait until the new year to give the combined gift, and hoping no one gave them one in the mean time.  I lucked out, and my patience paid off, because from what I hear, they both love it.  And, after our recent trip to Arizona, my fear of any escaping compost stench is cured.  So, with the three of us pleased, I’ll call it a success… and keep buying compost pail filters as a Mother’s Day gift for my MIL.

Feb 11

3 Ways to Enjoy yet Another Gray Day

Daniel and I are home, enjoying what currently amounts to over 18″ of snow.  And, while the pupsqueaks are outside enjoying the icicles that form on their whiskers, I prefer to stay indoors and appreciate the beauty of the winter weather from the comfort of my warm and cozy house.  More specifically, I plan to:

1.  Admire this stunning piece by Asher Israelow (and dream of ways to create something similar for my own home).  Look at the edges and corners.  It’s breathtaking.

Source: asherisraelow.com

2.  Curl up with my oldest homemade quilt, look for plane tickets for our next WDW trip, and catch up on White Collar with my sweetie.

3.  Head over to Etsy to shop for a Valentine’s gift I probably will not buy, and make a treasury (or two) before I wrap up.  I made my first treasury on a gray day last week, and I think I am hooked.

Screen Shot taken from Etsy.com

How do you spend your gray days?  Do you like to curl up and stay cozy, or get caught up around the house?

Jan 11

Gift Giving: Chef Jen the Seamstress

Birthday girl Jen, of Sweet Olivet and 12 Squared, is a talented gal and a kindred spirit.  She’s a friend to many, a sibling to three, a momma to two, and a sweetie to one.  She cooks delicious food, even when she thinks she’s just throwing something together.  She sews lovely things for her girls, her home, and sometimes just because.  She’s a clever game-lover who can make and take a joke, and she’s a powerful example to folks around her.

Both Jen and her sweetie, Dave, are strong people who know how to make good things happen.  I take no credit for my meeting them.  In fact, I am grateful my folks began a friendship with them long before Daniel and I were Daniel and I.  I am grateful we enjoy a similar friendship, and I am especially grateful Dave’s residency didn’t take them and their girlies any further away.

After perusing my bookmarked potential Jen gifts, and looking for a few new options, I’ve narrowed the list down to three:

Idea #1

Love Lives Cozy Here, 11×14 Poster Print by Grace Hester Designs


This is so true.  It hits at the heart of what Jen’s home is… the sort of place where I always feel relaxed and at home.  Seasons are welcomed with perfect touches and meaningful decor.  Conversation and laughter are common, and she has a kiddo who adds to the cosy with her love of cuddling.

Although it holds a special place in my heart, wall art is not especially personal.  I imagine this ditty hanging in her kiddos’ bathroom, but it’s not the sort of thing that would remind Jen we love her each time she saw it.  Nor would it feel special, and just for her.  Plus, none of the color choices (though plentiful) seem just right.  However, I do love combinations like honesuckyle and beige or vermillion and turquoise.

Idea #2

Champagne Necklace by Metalicious


Beautiful.  Peaceful.  Original.  The blue would go well with Jen’s unbelievable blue eyes.  I’ve never seen anything like it, so it has the feel of something special.

Symmetrical, with a fairly common overall shape.  The finish seems a more industrial than I believe Jen’s tastes include.  And the price is a bit beyond my budget.

Idea #3

Moriah by RachelleD


The necklace is so stunning, it deserves it’s own name.  The colors are consistent with Jen’s wardrobe, and I can’t stop thinking about delicate gray flower.  Although, I admit the bird trend isn’t my favorite, it’s enough unexpected (and understated) in this application that I don’t have a bad taste in my mouth.

The combination of motifs may not be up Jen’s alley.  And the piece may not be as lovely on, or in person, as it appears in a well-edited photograph.


I imagine my pro and con lists made quite plain my leaning… I ordered the Moriah necklace by RachelleD.  Although I’d been a bit worried about the actual product being as lovely as the photographs, I noticed RachelleD has 100% positive feedback and about 2600 sales.  That settled it.  I have no doubt Moriah will be a winner.

It’s been fun focusing on Jen and trying to pick something special, just for her.  I will let you know if all goes well with the gift.  And I’ll see you back here later in the month, when I share my next birthday shopping endeavor.

Jan 11

Gift Giving

Although I dislike shopping in brick and mortar stores, I love online window shopping.  And, even more than pointless wandering, I love shopping with a friend or family member in mind.  Doing this provides a context in which items come to life and online shops feel as cozy as a well-curated booth or boutique.  It makes an otherwise anonymous web experience more personal, and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed.  This, in turn, keeps me from putting off my shopping.

I dislike selecting gifts at the last minute.  Procrastination almost-exclusively results in giving gifts that are less personal, less thoughtful, and less meaningful than they ought to be.  So, to prevent procrastination, I shop for gifts a bit each week.  And, this year I’ve decided to share my process with you.

Each week I will highlight a recipient… their life stage, personality, and interests.  I will share the stores I shop, the things I find, and the items I think are contenders.  The first will be a birthday gift for Chef Jen (the Seamstress).

And, as I mentioned here, feel free to opine.  If you see something you love, please tell me.  When I post about something you own, please offer a review for the other readers.  And, if you hate an item or site I discuss, please let me know.

Jan 11

New Year, Clean Slate

I’m starting off the new year with a clean slate…


If you’ve been here before, you may notice a dramatic change in the site design.  I’m sticking with WordPress, but I decided to make the colors and style a more accurate representation of my preferences.  I began with Cleanr, available for free at WPShoppe, and made a few modifications to sizing and structure.  Although I am sure the site will continue to evolve, I am pleased with the current look.

At Home

So maybe clean slate isn’t the best fit… but I do plan to cut my worldly possessions by 25% this year.  For Christmas I gave my folks Throw Out Fifty Things, and it’s got me thinking.  The majority of my cabinets and shelves are filled with items I rarely, if ever, use.  My closet is full of clothes I don’t wear (and my laundry bins are full of the clothes I do wear).  My shoe bin goes a whole season without having more than the top four inches disturbed.  And we still have a dozen unpacked bins stashed in our sunroom.  I see plenty of low-hanging fruit.

With my Health

I begin each year with a renewed commitment to tend to my health and my annual appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.  But, since I talk about that sort of stuff here, I’ll spare you the details.

Welcome to 2011.  What do you think of the new look?  What’s your big to do for the new year?

Nov 10

Branson 2010

Recently, my parents and I drove up to Branson to visit with some of our extended family.  It’s an informal annual get together, and though it does not last long, we always leave happy we made the drive.  On the way out of town, we always stop at Quilts & Quilts; because my father is a patient man, and we all know…

Our brief trip to Branson, 2010

Now, for finding a second Hello Betty Layer Cake, or the fabric by the yard…

Nov 10

Morning Morsel: Opposites Attract

Yeah, yeah… I know similarities are important when falling in love, but I am quick to admit I was most drawn to the ways in which Daniel filled my holes and smoothed my rough edges.  Our differences are quickly apparent to those around us, and although we continue to rub off on each other as the years go by, I am grateful to know opposites really do attract.

So, if Oscar Wilde is right, and life imitates art (not the other way around), the beauty and inspiration I find in the following should not be a surprise.

Lost & Found by Chris Waind

All is fair in love and war by thingspeoplesay

Love & Hate by blancucha

I wish you were here, I’d rather be alone by Gingiber

These works of art feel perfect to me.  All healthy reminders that we have to know the bad to know the good.

Do you like these pieces?  What works of art feel perfect to you?

Sep 10

My Birthday Wish List 2010, part 2

Like I said yesterday, there are a lot of things I love.  So, I am back with round two… sans theme.

1 > Franken Heart by Markhed

2 > Love Angel by birdzNbeez

3 > Rib Cage with Heart by Markhed

4 > Paris french Stripe Masking Tape – 15mm from WonderlandRoom

5 > Perfect Alphabet Rolling Stamp from WonderlandRoom

6 > White Lace Deco Tape 15 mm from WonderlandRoom

Practical bits to come tomorrow…

Sep 10

My Birthday Wish List 2010, part 1

I’ve been asked by sweet people who love me, to put together a bit of a 26th birthday wish list.  Although I prefer to shop for others, as I struggle with this sort of thing (there are many things I love), this was a fun exercise.

To kick start my list I picked a theme.  Lucky for me, this was a simple task…  I thought through the last year and a theme became clear.  Hopefully it’s as obvious to you as it was to me.

Follow Your Heart by Farouche

With the year I’ve had, I appreciate the uplifting reminder .

The Science of Love by Morphologica

It’s beautiful, a bit confusing, and black.

Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture by Lollieland Delights

This quite accurately depicts the biggest lifestyle change I made this year.

States United, Letterpress by beauchamping

Sweet, simple, and stark.  I love black and white, and I love well-used white space.

Now, for a little slightly-related something I’ve just kept on wanting…

United Skull of America Poster by Skull-a-Day

Yes, please.

Or, if you are a frugal folk you could just pick up one of these.  They pretty much sum up my year…

This year has been speedy, beautiful, and encouraging.  My love to all.  Thank you for your love, prayers, and support.

PS If you can’t bring yourself to buy me something else black, or otherwise unnecessary… I love visitors, gift cards to clothing stores and restaurants, patterned dress socks, and cold, hard cash to go toward a master bedroom window that does not fall out of the frame when opened on lovely nights like tonight.