Gone on Vacation

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Good morning! I am actually still here. In Seattle. Or rather, as I write this we are preparing for an overnight “trip” to a suburb for the last of K’s birthday celebration. We will stay in the new-ish McMenamins Anderson School, which should be quite the experience. It’s possible that we’ve gone a tad bonkers for our only child’s 10th birthday, but…well, I don’t feel too bad about it. We only live once and who cares what other people think, right? I have a feeling she’s going to remember her 10th bday with great fondness.

So the vacation is more of a mental one and I’m taking the next week or so off from this space to rejigger my noggin. I have to admit full defeat, my friends, because the hard life stuff has been like one of those trick birthday candles. I keep blowing and blowing, expecting the flame to extinguish, but no. There it is, popping right up again. Now that I’ve crossed off the last big thing for the summer with this final birthday celebration, I am a listless, amoeba-like mass, floating in a tide pool of exhaustion.

I must rest.

Have a wonderful week (or so), and see you back here in a few! xo

P.S. The image above is one I took when we went on a real deal vacation to Michigan. We roasted hot dogs and s’mores on the beach and the placid waters made for a lovely backdrop. Later, the sunset was gasp-inducingly gorgeous!

Good-bye Little Girl Room

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Poor M pulled a muscle in his back on Friday, so we figured teepee camping was probably not the best idea. Since the camp site is so close and the rate was on the economical side, we didn’t feel too guilty about canceling and had a quiet, at-home fête of three.

But K had been looking forward to the teepee and was a bit bummed out (I suspect what she really wanted was the s’mores). Partly to assuage her and partly because we’ve been talking about it forever, K and I hit IKEA to finally update her room from pink and purple sparkle-ness to something a little more grown-up. I was rather impressed by her decisiveness when it came to selecting the rug, bedding, and curtains. As you can see, she went with a subdued palette. That swivel-chair was her favorite purchase, fyi. I was surprised that she chose black because it comes in cute colors like green, pink, blue, light grey…

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The Nordis sheer curtains were too long, so I shortened them, which was the highlight of my sewing over the weekend though I am working on my secret sewing project for M (spoiler: it’s not going well – if you saw my sneak peek on Instagram, that is by far the best-looking part of the project).

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This. This curtain rod and double brackets had me pulling out my hair, proving, yet again, that I am so not handy. “Mama, there’s an awful lot of ‘ow!’, ‘oops!’, ‘AAAAAGH’s going on,” K commented, as I tried to wrangle the power drill to tame the uncooperative screws. The curtain brackets are from IKEA as well and a monkey could have easily installed them, but I am obviously not as dextrous as a monkey.

Because K’s room is east-facing, it’s like a broiler in there during the summer months, but her original curtain rod had broken and we’d been trying to shield the sun with foam boards that I happened to have on hand. Not a classy look, let me tell you. I’ve known for a long time that I should put up blackout curtains, but laziness kept winning out, and I was willing to live with the shanty-town look.

But it’s my girl’s 10th birthday in five days and she deserves better. Clearly sheer curtains weren’t going to cut it. Hence the double curtain rods and blackout curtains. I’m quite proud that I finally got everything measured, screwed in and acceptably installed. The curtain rod with the glass finial is from Amazon as is the grey-ish white blackout curtains — they were a good deal! They initially looked really cheap, but I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by  how put-together it all seems.

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All this talk of curtains and bedding is well and good, but the most important part of her room is directly across from her bunk bed: the studio. This is where my musical child practices her instruments and composes songs and generally blows me away. She recently recorded a song with her piano/guitar/voice instructor (yes, one teacher for all three) and I couldn’t believe it was K when I heard it in the recording studio. I tried to upload the MP3, but it says the size exceeds the limit for WordPress…oh technology! At any rate, it’s pretty awesome to watch the blossoming of a talent through perseverance.

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And then, of course, there are the signs of approaching teenage-hood on her door.

Alright, all that drilling and redecorating wiped me out! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! While we were in Michigan with M’s family a couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law quietly handed me a box while I was reading and nodding off on their cottage deck. It was from her mother, my grandmother-in-law as it were, who passed away last September. “Sanae,” her elegant handwritten script had labeled the plain Kraft paper box.

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Inside was a meticulously folded origami box.

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And inside of that, beautiful shibori-dyed fabric. Ronia Marie is a textile artist based in Indiana, where M’s family is from.

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I love ’em. I love, especially, that a woman I’d met only twice who hardly knew me but enfolded me into her family, selected such a thoughtful and appropriate gift.  And that an ancient art form from Japan is practiced with care in Indiana — the heartland of America — where my husband’s family has deep, deep roots. It all feels interconnected.

These handkerchief-sized habotai silk pieces are proffered as jewelry. K immediately beelined for them as soon as I started snapping these photos. I guess we’ll be sharing. We’ll wear shibori bracelets together and think about Great-Grandmom as K knows her, and we’ll learn more about dyeing fabric because I actually don’t know a lot about it and have wanted to dip my toes into what looks like messy fun. Have you done any fabric dyeing? I adore Morgan’s experimentation with shibori (I’ve been asking her to give me lessons for years), and Ute has featured a gorgeous book (I can only find the German version online — I might have to get it anyway) and A Verb For Keeping Warm (of the tunic pattern from earlier this week) also has a heavy focus on textile dyeing — this book by AVFKW owner Kristine Vejar looks amazing.

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Anyway. Wishing you all a terrific weekend! We’re gearing up for this weekend and will be celebrating up a storm for M’s birthday.

A little ferry
Will take us to an island
To our sweet teepee

 

I am now a minimalist traveler

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We made it back in one piece! After a soul-nourishing and relaxing week in Michigan, our flight back to Seattle was mysteriously canceled so we had to scramble to Chicago via rental car to make our connecting flight because all the airlines were booked solid (or so I was told). We cut it super close, but cruised through Illinois toll booths, security checks and grumpy child syndrome with surprising ease. Actually, the grumpy child syndrome was non-existent because K was a champ. She hardly complained and tolerated the almost 5 hours it took from Traverse City to Chicago, and then happily watched her movie on the flight.

What made everything so much easier is that contrary to my natural tendencies, I packed significantly less than I normally do. I’ve mentioned before that I’m the type of person that will boldly toss in a rice cooker and electric kettle to go camping — I don’t believe there is such a thing as overpacking or over-preparation. M and K are light travelers to begin with, so I’ve always been the one to weigh us down.

However, just for kicks, I did my very best to edit down my travel gear this time. I forced myself to limit my baggage to two very small carry-ons for a six-day trip: one for clothes, the other for tools (i.e. laptop, camera, watercolor supplies, etc.). I’m proud to report that I was successful. In fact, this trip taught me that I could have easily cut down on the clothes because I deludedly thought I would be running along the lake on a daily basis and included many pairs of yoga pants and a slew of tank tops that never saw the light of day. I ran once. Okay, I jogged for 10 minutes once and walked for about a mile. Mostly, I slept and read and ate a shocking number of burgers and ham sandwiches. It was heaven.

For future reference, I thought I would record what I actually took on the trip and what I could have done away with. I guess the extra stuff didn’t take up that much room, so it was okay that I had included them and who knows? Had circumstances been different, I might have needed them. All I know is that instead of frantically sewing something for the trip to impress relatives that I see only once a year (which is what I usually do), I selected items from what I already had on hand. Preparations were way, way, way less stressful. Did anyone notice or comment that my wardrobe was very limited? Not that I know of. Would I have cared if anyone did? No.

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Anyway, here’s what I wore (link provided for handmades):

I could have managed without the following, but they were good to have on hand:

  • Black Simplicity top
  • Extra tank tops (5 didn’t get worn)
  • Extra yoga pants (1 would have been sufficient)
  • Swimsuit

Normally I swim, but there was a widespread case of the “ick” (a parasite spread through duck feces – I have no idea what the proper name is, but everyone calls it the ick) near the dock and in parts of the lake so I opted not to touch the water at all. Luckily, K wasn’t affected and M only got a tiny bit that went away in a day.

All in all, it was a lovely trip. Next year, I’m going to go even more minimal!

P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Meris, congrats!

Investing in Quality

linen-pillows1Good morning! I’ve always appreciated the finer things in life — some might call it “expensive taste” (“some” is actually my husband). But I also have a cheapskate side, or maybe it’s this sense that I don’t actually deserve certain high quality items yet.

One of those someday-when-I-feel-deserving items is linen bedding. We have a small closet at the edge of our upstairs landing where I keep all our sheets and pillowcases, but most of them are from Target. I’m pretty sure that the fiber content is indestructible synthetic that will float out into the galaxies completely unscathed should our planet ever combust. I’ve salivated over the thought of drifting off to dreamland nestled upon 100% flax linen sheets and pillowcases since I was a little girl. I was an odd kid, what can I say?

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So, today is my birthday and I thought it was high time I treated myself to some linen bedding. I’ve had a linen duvet cover for a while now, but I finally bit the bullet and ordered this linen sheet set last week. Once it arrived, it was a beautiful expanse of white on my bed, but I felt an urge to add a little extra…grey.

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Using the instructions for the most basic pillowcase from this tutorial, I whipped up a couple of grey linen versions and it was so fast and so easy and so satisfying, I couldn’t believe I’d never made simple pillowcases for my bed before. The only modification I made to the tutorial was to fold the pillow edge 3″ instead of 4″ since I wanted the insert to be completely covered. The French seams are tres luxe. I’d like to try this Purl Soho tutorial with the envelope edge next. I’m already starting to iron other neutral-toned linen. Highly addictive and beautiful to boot. Love.

The gorgeous peonies were a birthday gift from a friend. My adoration of pink flowers is well-documented on Instagram and these make me so very happy.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about investing in quality. I’m no stranger to bargain-hunting and a good deal is always worthy of celebration, because cost doesn’t necessarily dictate quality. Yet sometimes paying top dollar is totally worth it. After reading this book and a slew of other minimalism books, I’ve been reevaluating how I approach everything in my home and my notions of taste and style and quality. I’ve been guilty of wanting pricey, brand-name stuff in the past because of course it’s a way to impress others and it was an easy way to feel better about myself even if it wasn’t altogether healthy. There’s also a kind of safety in established brands. A particular logo may say: “Look, I have good taste.” And though I’m well aware that filling life with expensive things isn’t all that meaningful in the end, it wasn’t until I stopped buying clothes four years ago that I started to examine what was meaningful. I discovered that without the crutch of trends and my go-to stores, I didn’t know what my style was at all, and this wasn’t limited to apparel.

I’m still exploring what “investing in quality” looks like for me. I guess there are certain elements like my love of linen and neutrals that have been unchanging over the years, but I’m still forging my own style and learning what my personal tastes are (and yes, they will continue to evolve). You would think that after living over 40 years, it would be a no-brainer, but no. Maybe I’ll never know for sure, but it helps to shrug off the little voices in my head that blather on saying things like, “you should look like this at this age,” or “you should own these things because ‘successful’ people have them,” or…anything with “should”.

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Hm. I’m almost always surprised at what I start typing when I create these blog posts. My plan was just to mention the linen pillows, but I suppose I’m feeling contemplative on this 13th day of June, now that I’m 45. It feels like a significant age somehow, and I’m excited to see what will unfold.

P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Dora, congrats!