Monday, December 31, 2012

What I Wore :: A Year Ago

I was looking through my pictures to see how much things have changed in the past year. I found some adorable pictures of little, tiny children. I can't believe Bea and Amby were that little! I came across this outfit that I would still totally wear. Except that these jeans ripped up the back. Woops.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Consider the Ravens

One of the best things about this holiday season for me was getting to see Hudson, my brother who lives in the frozen north, West Virginia. He only comes to visit every few months and we write letters intermittently between his visits. 

Hudson lives on a mountain and works the land. He spends a considerable amount of time alone and I believe he must spend most of that time reading. His letters are laced with quotes and references. 

He left me feeling inspired to read more. Specifically my Bible, but generally everything. Classics and anything interesting. Because your mind is a palace and why fill it up with images from a bright, flashing screen when you can fill it with wonder and intrigue and complexity of thought? Hudson has a million references to make his own experience more historically resonant, by which I mean, he can see how what he sees and does echoes what has come before and parallels ideas that great minds from the past have expressed. 

It is a wonderful thing, a head full of thoughts.

image via pinterest

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just for a Day

This sweet little one felt terrible the other day! He stayed on the sofa most of the day and watched Nightmare Before Christmas on and off. (I do not believe that movie is appropriate for children of his age [2], but he saw it when I wasn't around and says it doesn't scare him. And he seems to follow the story quite well.) 

In the picture above, we had moved a living room chair into the kitchen because he wanted to be with me and I was baking. Not long after, he wandered into the living room and took a nap with his stuffed tiger, Hobbes.

He slept with us that night and felt back to normal the next day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Of No Consequence

The kids are napping and James is out. I could do laundry, but I shall not. Instead I shall eat chocolates and paint my nails nude.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Four Ways to Wear :: Turkish Delight

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with food, dessert, Narnia or books.

Instead, it has to do with a dress. A versatile, double layer dress. I found it at a thrift store and was so excited, I may have dropped my child. It is made out of 100% non-natural material, quilted and hand-washable only. The colors are what some might call noisy and the patterns add to the clamor. So what?

Here's how one can wear such a garment:

1. This is how the dress and overdress look together, as intended by the manufacturer. 

2. I tucked in the bodice of the underdress and wore it as a skirt with a t-shirt and belt. Add some rolled down (pre-Nike) Converse for attitude. 

3. The overdress can be worn with pants under for an exotic, dare-I-say Turkish look. Delightful. 

4. This is how the underdress looks on its own. Lovely collar. Simple yet fancy. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Silver Packages

Tonight, oh, what torture. We read aloud. At my family's Christmas gathering, after all the food was eaten and all the gifts given, we read this book, Silver Packages. It is an Appalachian Christmas story and made us all sit there crying and passing the book to the next person.

Many years ago, I lost a brother, as some of you already know. Well, ever since then, my paternal grandmother has sent/given books to my mama each year. Beatiful picture books to be read aloud and enjoyed by all. We got all kinds of good books. Books about heaven and family and love and peace and all kinds of liberal, big-hearted stuff. Apparently this was one such book. It had a little note from Gramere in the front.

(Inconsequential tidbit: This year, my bother Justus and his girlfriend Andreina have little silver ornaments on their tree that remind sweet Justus of this book.)

Silver Packages is about a very poor Appalachian community and a man who comes on a train each Christmas to throw packages wrapped in silver paper to the children of the community. One little boy longs for a doctor kit, but instead gets mittens and socks and little toys year after year. However, as an adult, he returns to the town... with his real doctor kit.

Here's a review I was delighted to find:

Having lived in Appalachia for many years, I was excited to read a book based upon the efforts of "The Santa Train." (Which does exist, and which uses the means described in the story). The real train traverses areas of West Virginia and Kentucky every December, and provides a semblance of Christmas to children in some of America's poorest communities. This story elegantly captures the essece of the spiritual reality behind the experience as well as the sense of rootedness and community that ties the region together. I am a chaplain now, living in the midwest, and every Christmas I read it to children at the hospital where I work. They understand it immediately, and find it to be healing, hopeful, and helpful.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Getting Ready

It really doesn't feel like Christmas is so soon. I mean, there's been so much hard stuff to deal with lately in the news and closer to home that it's difficult to feel like celebrating. But I have these children who know nothing of the dreadful things in this world and it is my job to spread around all the Christmas cheer. 

Tonight was the company Christmas party. So I got ready while the kids napped this afternoon. (Aside: We've had some great days around here lately. Lots of playing and cuddling and reading and talking and cooperating, thus good naps.) I got done with everything I needed to do (chores, etc.) and had time to curl my hair. After all this, I ended up with my old standby, the braid crown.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Amby Faced

Remember back on myspace when that guy Mario was friending everyone and then he'd post a huge picture of his face in your comments? I do. That was hilarious. "Oh, you got Mario Faced!" Well, that is just what I thought of when I took these silly pictures of Ambrose's face. He makes such a cute sad face. lol: You got Amby Faced!

Mint Ice Cream

Today is a rainy day around here. We had planned an outside day, but that's what you get for not checking the weather. Bea got pretty excited about this striped backdrop. She wanted to show off her lovely new sweater. It is just the color of mint ice cream so she told me it's ok if I nibble her when she wears it. So sweet. I love this little girl!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lust List :: On Safari to Stay

Well, Cooper, you might be interested to know that I still enjoy the occasional bout of RD3, Restless Daydream Disorder. More in these stressful, busy days than usual perhaps. I don't mind, not at all, except when it gets to where I can't remember where memory stops and imaginary begins. Did that really happen or did I only think it? One thing is for sure. The safari memories are really imagined because I don't even have a passport. 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

For Real?

I just got back from Kinkos where I printed my last project of the semester! Sheesh, I thought this day would never come. And it's not due until Tuesday!

I made a box wine package. Check out the front:

The project is to start by thinking about what it takes to create your best work and use that as a springboard to come up with a survival kit. It has to involve a box of some kind and we were encouraged to make it personal. So here you have it: wine. And also the idea of taking a break. You know, sometimes your best ideas come to you when you step away from your work and relax a little.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Home Stretch

I'm almost done with the semester! Lots of projects going on and lots of time spent at school. Forgetting to eat, losing my gloves and keys, getting screen-time headaches, not enough sleep. You know, college.

But it's a week and a half. That's all.

But in the midst of it, I found time when the kids were awake the other day (I can't do school when they are awake) to take some photos of new stuff for my etsy shop. I love this little romper so much! When I'm on holiday break, I will be adding this and much more to le shoppe.

Got any tips for keeping one's sanity during exam week?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Abel's Island

I have a huge reading list and it's mostly political/social non-fiction type stuff. Heavy, right? But when do I ever have time to read? Never, it seems. But over the weekend, I picked up a little book by WIlliam Steig. It's a kids book, Abel's Island. Oh, and it is charming.

Abel's Island is an adventure story about a strapping young mouse in his very prime who is marooned on a wooded island for a year after chasing after his wife's scarf in a hurricane. The vocabulary is a bit beyond Bea and Am, so I sped through on my own. Abel is an Edwardian dandy who has never had to do anything for himself. But on the island? He is on his own. With class and panache, he finds his inner Crusoe.

If you are a fan of The Wind and the Willows, Robert Lewis Stevenson or even the movie Shrek, this book is for you. But don't take my word for it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Working and Working

Tonight I am working late in the art building at school. There's supposed to be a student worker here right now, but she didn't show. So technically, I shouldn't be here. Whatever. I have so much to do. Probably shouldn't be stopping to blog.

Beth is here with me and she took these shots. I love her. Can you imagine how creepy it would be to be here alone? This art building is at the bottom of a hill, sequestered far from the rest of the buildings. Everyone has gone home for break and there are strange clicks. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

What I Wore :: Home Again Home Again

After an age and a half, we have come home. Today, the heat is supposed to be turned on. What time today? It's already a quarter past three!

Well, it's not a very cold day and we do have a couple space heaters. The kids are in layers and I am staying warm in a thick and ugly vintage dress. (Believe it or not, this dress is inspiring the color story for one of my current school projects. Hmm.)

Monday, November 5, 2012


I did a photo series (using google maps [huh?]) for my photography class. I traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and looked at the memorials. It was really moving. I ended up jumping in and doing some research which led to (for me) surprising results.

You can see my post on my photography blog here.

Here are some historic photos I found on google.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Keeping Warm

I have absolutely no room to complain, so believe me, I am not complaining. But we still have no heat and it is 50 degrees fahrenheit in our house right now. Our heating system has some issues and the gas company won't be able to fix them until the 12th. I guess they are really busy. So for now, we are shuffling around. James and I can stay at home sometimes at night, sometimes at the in-laws. But the kids need warmth more than we do, so they are over at James' folks' house for now.

The wifi over there is touch and go, so I go to my folks' house sometimes. Here I am during a homework session.
I am trying to limit my wine consumption while staying with my in-laws, you know... But over at my folks' house? Ya...

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I gave a great presentation in my Senior design class on Tuesday. It was fun and exciting and my work was spot on. I'm almost sure of my grade. But the client didn't like it as much as someone else's. What can a girl do? 

I'll tell you what I'm doing. Putting on lipstick, curling my hair and watching Rocky Horror Picture Show with my classmates instead of class work. (Our teacher is out of town, but most of us still showed up and some of us went out for lunch together first.)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I (heart) Autumn

This is a great time to live in Berea, South Carolina. While all my classmates and co-workers complain that nobody really gets excited and goes all-out for Halloween, I am swimming in tackiness. Everyone in the neighborhood has ghosts, spiderwebs, giant plastic jack-o-lanterns, real pumpkins and whatever else they could find around the corner. Luckily for all of us, there is a pumpkin patch and a Wilsons Five and Dime within a quarter mile.

In our living room, we have three huge windows, side by side, like a wall of glass. I can sit on the couch and see the decorations spread out before me across the horizon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


My husband is a compulsive writer. I think it's called graphomania or even scribomania. The obsessive impulse to write. He fills notebooks on a weekly basis. Our attic is filled with boxes of notebooks.

Lately, his supervisors at work have noticed how much he writes and have tried to limit it. It's driving him crazy! He has too many ideas. So he has to take "bathroom" break frequently with his notebook hidden in his shirt so he can get everything down. Ideas, songs, stories, fragments, lists, phrases. You name it.

A lot of our friends and relatives have said that James is quiet, but he's not. Not when we are alone. Then, instead of writing like a maniac, he talks to me. It doesn't even matter if I pay attention or respond –or keep up. He goes a mile a minute. If I were to take it all down, I could fill a notebook in an hour. I love this quirk of his and I think that as much as he writes and talks, it's not even the tip of the iceberg of his mental capacity.

I am really excited to see James doing so much research these days, putting his talents to better use than the drudgery of the factory work he does by day. I think that he is the next in line after Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert.

As his wife, I often find notes he's left for me, like a neurotic trail, the only way I can keep up with his rambling mind. To so many people, James is intense, that's what they all say. But to me he is sweet. Distracted at times, but always sweet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Loving Where I Live

As much as I have always wanted to travel and see the world, as much as I have complained over the years about not fitting in in the Bible Belt where I was born and raised, as much as it bothers me to live in the fourth most paved state, I really love where I live! For once, finally, I love where I live.

I live in a part of Greenville, SC called Berea. Greenville has all these different areas and each one has its own defining characteristics. Berea is known for being run down and, I'll just say it, trashy. Much of the population lives below the poverty line. (The median income is $29,137 for males and $21,849 for females.) A year ago when I told folks we were moving deeper into Berea, they made faces, like, are you crazy? Has your family fallen on hard times?

In the past decade or so, there has been a great influx of latinos to this area. I, for one, am thrilled with the resulting bursts of culture. Previously brown, brick, rotting strip malls have been given new life to the tune of orange, teal, pink and yellow paint. Houses have been painted thusly, too! At night, the streets come alive with taco stands and clubs like Caliente and Mexicali. You don't even have to spend money to participate in the night life: folks set up tents and awnings with tables and chairs underneath and just hang out there, in otherwise vacant parking lots.

What I like most about where I live is how friendly people are and how safe I feel. I go to the store late at night and all the faces are familiar. I am starting to know people by name from Harry's Convenience and Liquor Store to the Quick Stop Garden Spot Grocery to Wilson's Five and Dime to, yes, Pizza and Then Some.

Once I get a little more comfortable with photography and people skills, I want to go around the area and photograph locals. I want to show you Wayne, the old man who bags groceries up the street and walks to Harry's after his shift. I want to show you Little Harry who is very proud of his tiny liquor store. I want to show you the divas at Wendy's and the rosy-cheeked boys who make our pizza. There are so many interesting characters! Just you wait.