2015 MY YEAR OF DIY!

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This kind of weather inspires me a lot!

The afternoon sky was an eerie shade of grey as I walked out of the house on the first Tuesday of 2016. The clouds were ready to weep over San Diego as I drove to a nearby Starbucks to organize my brain of thoughts–some creative and some of mundane tasks. Then there were those flashback of memories of 2015 that began to pour in my mind like the rain that flooded the streets. Everyone’s cell phones around me alerted an emergency flash flood-including my own- and we all took a moment to silence the obnoxious beeping. The man sitting on the table next to me announced how he had never seen such a thing before; neither have I. The rain started as small droplets and quickly grown 3 times in size. A river of water filled up the street and the gutters could not keep up. The sidewalk was under a foot-or-so of water. I kept looking out of the window to see if I could see my car and the man next to me said, “Doesn’t look like you’ll be able to go anywhere for awhile.” Fine with me. My husband took the kids to the museum and I had planned to spend some time in the coffee shop for a few hours. I love the rain and the stormy skies because it inspires me creatively. We haven’t had much of a winter in the past couple years and January was already making up for it all.

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It’s hard to believe that it is January of 2016. If I could share of all the memorable events that happened in 2015, it would be a breath full. It would take me forever to write a blog entry that summarized this past year because not only am I a scatter brain, I’m also not a quick writer and my own self~critic. Sometimes I’ll write a draft, read it over, and then delete it. So instead of a writing some inspiration blog post of my intentions for this year, I decided to compile a list of all the links to tutorials I used in 2015. It turned out to be a DIY year for me!

I’m slowly learning how to document my projects and am realizing that it takes a great deal of patience since it lengthens the entire process of production. I’d say that majority of the crafts I do are pretty self~explanatory or it was inspired by another tutorial [follow the link to see the step-by-step]. Below, I have listed all of the DIY projects I did- my husband helped with the home & decor- in 2015 and will update this list with patterns and my own tutorials when I get a chance!

Without further ado…

Sewing:
DIY Baby Bloomers by See Kate Sew
DIY Bassinet Lining [sorry, no tutorial, but I’ll try to find one]
DIY Baby Bibs by Purl Soho
DIY Jessica Brown Rag Doll by Jess Brown

Knitwear & Crochet:
DIY Baby Bonnet by CrochetLatte
DIY Knitted Bon Hiver Baby Beanie [pattern coming soon]
DIY Knitted Aire-Sur-La-Lys Scarf [pattern coming soon]
DIY Crochet “Hexagon Market Bag” by Lion’s Brand [register to access FREE pattern]
DIY Knitted Baby Booties [More Last~Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson]

Jewelry:
DIY Friendship Necklaces & Bracelets [tutorial coming soon]

Stationary:
DIY Baby Shower Water Color Invitations [coming soon]
DIY LAST MINUTE Christmas Cards [coming soon, never fails for any occasion]
DIY Our “30” Birthday Piñata

Home & Decor:
DIY Coat Rack [coming soon]
DIY Hanging Jewelry Rack [coming soon]
DIY refurbish furniture [coming soon…how to Craigslist if you’ve never done it]

Homeschool:
@creations_académie [Follow our homeschooling journey]

Crafts:
DIY Loom by Honestly WTF
DIY Better than salt dough ornaments
DIY refurbish old ornaments [coming soon]
DIY pinecones and acorn ornaments [coming soon]
DIY Tissue Paper Roses by Lia Griffith
DIY Christmas Stockings [coming soon]
DIY Paper Garlands [coming soon]

I have also compiled a list of my DAILY READS that can be found in the menu list to the left and will also add my library of my favorite books that I have used over the years!

xx
Jena

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The Kissing Hand for Evie Raccoon

“Chester Racoon stood at the edge of the forest and cried. ‘I don’t want to go to school,’ he told his mother. ‘I want to stay home with you. I want to play with my friends. And play with my toys. And read my books. And swing on my swing. Please may I stay home with you?'”
~ The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

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October 29, 2014 PART I

It was three days before Halloween and I thought I was let off the hook from making a costume for Evie because, I repeat, it was THREE DAYS before Halloween and she had a dozen other costumes hanging in her closet. I was 4 months pregnant and ultimately too tired to do anything that required my focus. But just as I was confirming with her what she wanted to be for Halloween, she grabbed a book off of her shelf titled The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. She was a bit obsessed with this story for the entire month, asking everyone to read it to her repeatedly. It is about a young raccoon named Chester, who is a bit nervous about going to school. Mrs. Raccoon kisses his center palm and tells him that “whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, ‘Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.’

While every little girl in the world wanted to be Princess Elsa, Evie [5 years old] wanted to be Chester Raccoon. She read the book over and over again and thought that it was the cutest story of a raccoon and his mother. I must have asked her a dozen times, “Are you sure you want to be a raccoon?” She was absolutely unwavering about the idea.

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PART II

Evie wanted her entire body to be covered in fur, but I told her that we should just make a fur coat that she could add to her fall/winter wardrobe. We went to the fabric store to find grey faux fur, and I worked on her costume over the course of 2 days…

PART IV

PART III

PART V | Fashion Valley Mall Trick o' Treating

PART V | Fashion Valley Mall Trick-or-Treating in the daytime

Trick o'Treating with her best friend, Graham

Evening Trick-or-Treating with her best friend, Graham

Raccoon DIY Costume

Raccoon-Costume-6-2014SUPPLIES FOR COAT:
Grey Faux Fur [1 1/2-2 Yards]
Black Thread

SUPPLIES FOR EARS & TAIL:
Grey Faux Fur
Black Fabric
Black Thread
Headband
Safety Pin [to pin tail on coat]
Polyester Stuffing

I don’t have any photos of the process, but it’s simple if you know how to duplicate a pattern. I started with a basic pattern–tracing the front, back, and sleeves–using a coat she already owned. We used one of her black headbands and sewed ears onto it. The tail was stuffed with polyester stuffing and the selvage side of the fabric was incorporated to look like stripes. There wasn’t quite enough fabric [approx. 1 yard] so the tail and sleeves were a little short. Had I bought more fabric, I would have made her tail longer and spray painted thick black stripes. To complete the outfit, she rummaged through her drawers and found a plain light grey shirt, black leggings, and a dark grey tulle skirt [Zara Girls].

TheKissingHandPresently, 10 days before Halloween, I asked her what she wanted to be. One would think she would be influenced into being a Disney Princess after seeing other little girls walking around in their costumes throughout the month of October–but Evie blurted out to our neighbor last week that she wanted to be a… mammal from the weasel family. Predictably, our neighbor’s eyes bulged out of her sockets and her nose and upper lip scrunched up on one side as she muttered under her breath, “A whaaaaat?” I presumed she was expecting to hear that she was going to be a pretty and dainty something

…But Evie has another original idea–unwavering in her decision, again. She’s also hoping that I would agree to dress Emaline up as the same thing.

xx
Jena

Autumn On A Sunday.

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There was a chill in the air, the lovely patter of rain on the umbrella just outside our window, when I awoke to a tiny finger tapping on my arm.   The little person whispered her request to play with the Bible app on her iPad.  I shook my head and shut my eyes, “not right now“.  Sabbath, the day of rest. …Not for our household. My husband wakes up at nearly 6 a.m. and is out of the house before 7. My Sundays are filled with motherly duties while he is at church for most of the day leading worship [from the drums] and then teaching private lesson(s) between services. Sometimes, we take mid-day naps, which gives us an extra boost of energy for the second half of the day. Finding rest for my soul is a different story. It’s a spiritual stillness that is sometimes hard to find when my mind is cluttered with thoughts of the duties and demands of life that call after me. My time of stillness on a Sunday might only be that moment I sit in to listen to the sermon, while Evie is in Sunday school and my husband juggles squirming Emaline on his lap.  Somewhere in the midst of the crowd and pastor speaking, I might encounter that stillness with my eyes fully open and hear a Word from God.

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The moment I roll myself out of bed every day, I am desperately wanted by my hungry daughters. I am not a morning bird, but I’m rooting for myself to be! It would be a dream to wake up at dawn to see the first ray of sun, read, journal, and drink my coffee in silence. Unfortunately, there is hardly a morning that I am motivated to get out of bed without a cup of coffee hovering above me– because no matter how late my husband let’s me sleep in, it never feels like I’ve had a solid amount of sleep, even if uninterrupted…. just one more minute, just one more hour, please?

In the brief moment of walking from my bed to the kitchen on a Sunday morning I rejoice because I have conquered my tiredness, did not press snooze, and did not succumb immediately to the demands of motherhood. First, coffee. Lord, just let me sneak into the kitchen to brew the coffee and then I will surrender myself. Smelling the coffee and listening to it brew as I walk to the girls bedroom to pick up sweet Emaline from rolling around on her quilt is music to my ears, and makes my Sunday mornings much lovelier even if we’re running late. I love waking up to see Emaline’s contagious smile, stretched from cheek to cheek, the moment she catches a glimpse of me in the doorway while Evie is in her zone creating something.

I never regret getting out of bed and making it to church on Sundays, as much as I doubt the night before that I will be too tired to attend. I am elated just to see my handsome husband on the drums, his blissful place. It’s nice to see friends and also to feel Evie’s excitement as she runs to children’s church where her teachers know her name. Seeing all the other families arrive late with their children is a reminder that I’m not the only one who likely had a long morning, even if it just started.

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In-n-Out…doors.

My husband scheduled a private lesson with one of his students after church. We typically meet up at home to eat lunch and take a nap, and I usually have no desire to prepare lunch after church when we’re all tired; especially if we made all of our staples throughout the week– stir fry vegetables and rice, pasta, pita pizzas, stir fry vegetables and rice, pasta, pita pizzas.

We have a very popular fast-food restaurant on the west-coast and scattered around the mid-west, called In-n-Out. Driving from our church in Kerny Mesa, it’s about 10 minutes away in Mission Valley. Lunch time in Mission Valley on a weekend is one of the busiest hours of the week. I anticipated a very long wait in the drive-thru, but thankfully it only took us about 15 minutes. I ordered our usual: 1 grilled cheese with grilled onions, 1 cheeseburger without onions, and 2 fries (1 well-done).

Going through the drive-thru is where the day took a twist from ‘lovely’ to ‘mini-meltdown’. Evie has a great imagination and a cunning way of manipulating someone into thinking they are supposed to go somewhere they didn’t even plan on going. I’m sure she’s used this tactic on her grandparents many times. Somehow she learned how to do this at the age of three years old. Many times she would be at the door in her bathing suit saying, “I can’t wait to go to the beach!” and many times we’ve had to sit her down to explain that she needs to ask us before she gets her hopes up. This was one of those days she put in her mind that we were headed to Grandpa Sterling’s pool. It was a gloomy Autumn day, and she wanted to make it like Summer again!

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I drove the girls up to one of our favorite spots at Presidio Park to have a picnic on one of the cement picnic tables underneath the shade of a Peruvian pepper tree. It smells like peppercorns, but the red berries on this tree are not edible. While we ate our meals, we watched adorable ground squirrels eat tiny pine nuts on the surfaces of tree stumps. Evie decided to leave tiny green immature pine cones on those stumps before we left, just in case a squirrel got hungry.

It’s hard to believe that it was only Evie and I just seven months ago. Our family will only continue to grow bigger, and I am overjoyed at the thought that there will be more little feet and hands getting muddy.

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Rain, rain, don’t go away…

Hearing the rain streaming through the gutters and gusts of wind breezing through the trees is reminiscent of home in Hawaii. The ironic thing is that I’ve always wanted to look outside of my window at bare trees that lost their leaves, but such a thing never happened living in the middle of the Pacific. Watching t.v. shows like Felicity, Dawson’s Creek, and Gilmore Girls entertained the idea of someday living in a place where all four seasons were apparent. It still feels like a fairy tale to step outside to the beauty of fiery red, orange, and crumpled brown leaves at our feet and to look down a street lined with gilded trees. Unfortunately, we know the cool weather will only last a day or two. The forecast for the rest of the week looks identical to summer.

Autumn always brings a breath of inspiration. I am refreshed without having to search for it. I am inspired without having to go anywhere. Every simple pleasure is enhanced and perhaps it is because Autumn is like the prelude to the magical holidays. We begin to think about the ones we love and if you’re a gift giver, you have already began searching for the perfect gifts, or creating them by hand. I love Autumn for so many reasons to list- but most of all, it is a season to gather and such a perfect time to forge wonderful relationships.

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As our days get shorter, my evenings indoors get longer. Thus, my sewing machine and knitting needles will not be idle much longer. Home projects have been pushed to the bottom of my list as our home school was pushed to the top. Hopefully I will get a chance to write up a new knitted pattern soon.

Here is a free pattern to fingerless gloves that I had altered from an the original source linked in this blog from two years ago…

FREE FALL KNITTED PATTERN: Noir Tricoté Des Mitaines!

xx
jena

EMALINE.

Photo: Jaymi Britten

Photo: Jaymi Britten

Dear world, her name is  Emaline.
[pronounced: em-uh-lyne]

On March 7th, 9’oclock in the morning at Mary Birch Hospital, our family of three grew into a family of four! We joyfully welcomed into this world a beautiful baby girl weighing in at 7 lbs 15 oz. and stretching 20 inches in height– her name is Emaline, which was chosen by her older sister. Interestingly, it was a name I once told my sister in our high school days, “If I have a daughter, I want to name her Emmeline,” after hearing the name Emmeline Lestrange [Brooke Shields] in the 1980’s re-make of “The Blue Lagoon.” Fast-forward to a few years ago, my husband introduced me to his friends Scott and Megan Cunningham.  They are a wonderful couple with 5 talented and beautiful daughters, one of whom is named Emaline! I believe this is where Evie may have heard this name for the first time, and possibly kept it on a mental list of pretty names to name a sister. My husband, Spencer, also preferred the spelling of Emaline this way. As for nicknames, I’ve tried “Emz” but she just doesn’t feel like an Emz. Spencer calls her Bom Bom… Evie calls her Emmy… my dad calls her Ema… while I simply call her Emaline. But Bom Bom is pretty cute.

Every day we are mesmerized with Emaline- born with a full head of dark brown hair, tan skin, almond eyes, long eyelashes, button nose, broad shoulders, long legs and toes,  and her daddy’s rounded face and hairline. To me, it is obvious that she pulled more to her daddy’s genetic makeup. I’ve taken pictures of Emaline and Spencer side by side doing the same expressions, and the resemblance is striking. Same furrowed brow. Same indentions in their cheeks. Same pouty lower lip. Emaline’s cry is full of passion and is piercing to the ears; I’m pretty sure it’s the loudest sound we’ve heard from a baby. She really gets whatever she wants, especially after an hour of tears streaming down her face- I have no choice but to give in. Everyone says, “don’t give in!”, but we’ve got a neighbor on the other side of our bedroom wall.  Emaline stops the crying the moment I pick her up.  I have a feeling we are raising two strong-willed daughters (leaders, I hope!) who are similar, and yet very different.  Evie has always had a sweet sensibility to her soul. Her eyes were full of curiosity and compassion even before she could speak. Emaline has the gentlest gaze, then once her eyes are fixed on you, she begins to observe (which reminds me so much of Spencer).  Her smile will melt your heart, but that grin hints at the slightest bit of mischief.  At times, you can’t be sure whether she is going to cry or giggle– and sometimes she does both!  Evie on the other hand- her emotions are predictable, maybe because we are a lot alike.

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This Too Shall Pass.
4 months ago

Have you ever felt like you ran a marathon without any preparation,while your organs were bruised and rearranged? Neither have I.  But that is how I felt after the epidural wore off. Hopefully my brain will forget about this again because we really do want a big family. Doctors recommend taking it easy for 6-8 weeks after delivery. It took me approximately 8 weeks for my body to fully heal from the labor of birth. I rejoice in the 8 weeks, because when I had Evie, it took nearly 3 months!

To be present during the first month with a newborn is a fight!  It can be easy to wish that you could just fast forward to the next stage.  It was  a challenge to find the beauty in the breakdowns, rejoicing in the hard times, and the joy in sorrow. What sorrow?  The feeling of deep distress and disappointment that I couldn’t provide enough milk for my screaming/hungry baby… and on top of that, hearing the words, “I think she’s hungry” from those around me.  How could I even crack a smile when I was tortured by the thought of the next feeding?  The feedings were painful, emotionally draining, and extremely frustrating! My arms felt as though limp from carrying the baby all day and night... It was truly a restless time that felt like months, but we did all we could to embrace it. Despite the many tears, I was reminded of  II Corinthians 4:17-18: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”  In other words: This too shall pass. 

After two months of interrupted sleep, our nights slowly got better with an added hour or two. Spencer and I took shifts, which was a life-saver. By the third month, Emaline was sleeping through most of the night and easily soothed by slipping the pacifier back into her mouth. She had learned how to smile and giggle during this time. Presently at the fourth month she is a koala on my hip! I use an Ergo baby carrier in the house to carry her when she is fussy, something I don’t remember doing with Evie. I’ve become one of those mamas who can cook and clean with a joey in my front pouch! It makes chores and errands a relief, but takes three times as long and causes backache.

As for the dynamic between Evie and Emaline… she is in heaven– making it twice as hard for her to follow instructions because of the distraction of the baby in the house! She says, “Emaline is too cute for my eyes! I don’t know what to do with myself.” 

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Back in jeans… and where was this carseat stroller frame 6 years ago!? I love it.

All that to say, life in our household revolves around precious Emaline, house chores, and the need for Evie to get outdoors. We live in an apartment complex with a small courtyard, which is not a conducive area for a child to spend hours exploring wild and free. So when Evie is on the sofa staring at the ceiling, I take the cue to make a plan of escape even if it is for a walk around North Park. It’s for the better… for all of us. Stepping out of the house with a newborn  is challenging at first [even with my firstborn], but got profoundly easier each time we do it. Handling all the new baby gear and learning how to do life with a baby in tow again was familiar territory. Getting out of the house required a lot of encouragement from my husband and older daughter, as well as the weekly doctor checkups, and not to mention that outside pressure! Everyone wants to meet the newborn baby! Driving anywhere can be stressful because of the preparation time it takes to gather our things, then pack the car, buckle the kids, and finally drive. I’ve tried to master getting out of the house in peace, even by getting things ready the day before… but I still haven’t gotten it down after 6 years. I just have to admit to myself, I’ll never be perfect…and…prompt. Life with kids is unpredictable! Seems like everything happens at the perfectly inconvenient time: tantrum while getting out the door, hungry in the car, tired and fussy the moment you are peacefully sitting down for a meal, needing to use the bathroom the moment you get into the store, etc. etc… Yes, all the memes of parenthood are true. I think parents are marionettes, and children are marionettists, no?

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Madeline’s Box gold leather pacifier clip goes with everything.

Normalcy has somewhat returned and I also have returned to write. This means that I am flying solo for a few hours while my wonderful husband holds down the fort at home! This is exciting for me because I get a chance to do something creative without contemplating if Emaline’s cloth diapers should be thrown into the washer, or incessantly reminding Evie to put her things away, whilst juggling what’s on the menu for my family or planning for summer homeschool. Sipping a hot cup of coffee anywhere…alone…and creating something on a canvas (rather than a stove)…is a rare luxury these days! Don’t get me wrong- I am beyond grateful to be a stay-at-home mother to these two precious girls. I thank God for their existence. No matter how tough some days may be, I cherish the ever-changing stages [highs and lows] of infancy and childhood, and know it is completely worth the blood, sweat and tears. However, let’s be honest here… solo time? We all need it to be happier people in order to survive a tantrum with grace and sanity. I would be lying if I said that our life is 100% charming and that there aren’t many days where I don’t send text messages to my husband with emoji faces narrating a stressful situation in the homestead. As long as the day starts and ends with an empathetic hug from my husband, I know I’m blessed and I’ve got it good…too good.

xx
Jena

Motherhood & The Berrious.

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MOTHERHOOD.

June 27th will mark a year since the launch of this blog, and I am okay with the amount of posts that I’ve published, the things I’ve created, and the amount of work that has come my way since then (which was more than I envisioned doing).  I must remind myself daily that I have one major calling on my life, even before I sit down to write a blog.  It’s called Motherhood— thus, the lack of content.  When I think of my my daughter, I think of a rose garden, and how diligently I would tend to it if we ever had one.  Taking care of it through all seasons until the very day every petal blossoms and she is ready to be let go and let out fearlessly into the world on her own.  Her sweet-natured, gentle and wild disposition causes me to marvel.  Each passing year [she just made five], she grows in wisdom and beauty.  I feel that she understands more about life and the world around her more than my little mind could ever grasp when I was five years old.

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& THE BERRIOUS.
(pronounced “bear-ee-us”)

When I share about my life with people I meet, I want to say–“I’m a stay outdoor mother“; rather than uttering the words, “stay at home.”  My life is genuinely sweet; except on Mondays… those laborious Mondays. It’s the only day that I’ve dedicated to chores and everything to do with “staying at home“, to empathize with my working husband and kindred to the rest of the world for a day.  I try to accomplish everything that needs to be done at home until I am completely exhausted.  Besides Mondays, my life looks [majority of the time] like these pictures that I took with Jaymi’s camera that I hope to someday soon inherit.

And this sight is just fine for me.  I think our lifestyles as mothers and fathers should be tailored to our own personal lives, and not compared to another family or what the world thinks it “should” look like.  I am an introvert, but my daughter is not.  She is my social butterfly that I take to nurture in peaceful places like the Berrious.  It is where I feel the most inspired, motivated and free to teach without distractions.  I get to hone her creativity, focus on her talents, help her to seek out her gifts, and let her imagination run wild among these trees.  I believe she finds herself and sees God more clearly during these moments in the wilderness.  It’s also here during these simple times that I see the hand of God at work in our lives and find my purpose in motherhood.

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We named her homeschool, The Secret Garden.  A part of this was inspired by the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  The idea of it came from the origin of the word “Kindergarten” — [mid 19th century] literally means ‘children’s garden’ in German.  When my sister-in-law, Emiel, shared the meaning with me years ago– I just knew that I would take Evie’s homeschool to a garden.  We have several places that we go to read, write, color, draw, explore, and create together- just the two of us.  I am unaware of time when we’re outdoors.  At home, I am hounded by the minute and hour hand that seeks progress in every little detail.  It’s draining!  When we’re outdoors, the only hand of time is the sunset.  The Berrious is one of those secret places, one of our Secret Gardens.

Jaymi was with us on this day.  And when she is around, her camera is always within reach.  I don’t know what kind of camera she has, nor the lens- but I could not see myself going back to the iPhone camera if I had a camera like hers.  Something about peering through an eye hole is more exciting than holding up a screen.  Anaïs Nin said, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”  I feel the same way about pictures I take of my family… because it seemed like yesterday that she was just a toddler.

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Left: Evie & Myself | right: Evie & Aunty Jaymi

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Momee’s hat + Shaelyn’s Dress + Hunter Wellies

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ANTHRO | Metamorphosis

“It is awe-inspiring to think that the monarch butterfly, a species so small and humble, lays claim to one of nature’s greatest spectacles. And yet, their annual migration is considered just that—an age-old phenomenon of epic proportions and, as recent decades have shown, increasing peril due to their declining population. That’s why this Earth Day, we are paying tribute to the monarchs in our store windows, now home to swarms of handmade orange-and-black butterflies…” + Anthropologie

#AnthroEarthDay
xx
Jena

p.s. Earth Day is on Tuesday, April 22nd!

A Painting For Suzi J.

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A Painting for Suzi J. Illustration by JSK Medium: Watercolor

Earlier this year I did a painting for my dear friend/photographer, Suzi Jacobs, in exchange for taking our family portraits. My husband and I were extremely grateful for this trade because her photos are timeless.  I rarely get a chance to see what becomes of my art or creations after it’s shipped off!  Below is a picture that Suzi took of her lovely reading corner in her home-sweet-home:

Photo taken via Suzi's Instagram

Photo courtesy of Suzi | via Instagram #DarlingWeekend

xx
Jena