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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OC | Smocking Bird’s Baby Boutique

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Smocking Bird’s Baby Boutique 3313 Hyland Drive Costa Mesa, CA 92626

 

smock·ing |  ˈsmäkiNG/  | noun : smocking
  1. decoration on a garment created by gathering a section of the material into tight pleats and holding them together with parallel stitches in an ornamental pattern.

“Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Before elastic, smocking was commonly used in cuffs, bodices, and necklines in garments where buttons were undesirable. Smocking developed in England and has been practised since the Middle Ages and is unusual among embroidery methods in that it was often worn by laborers. Other major embroidery styles are purely decorative and represented status symbols. Smocking was practical for garments to be both form fitting and flexible, hence its name derives from smock — a farmer’s work shirt.[1] Smocking was used most extensively in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.” [Wikipedia]

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08 February 2014

February 8, 2014—  Continued…

As we circled through the maze of The OC Mix, we walked past the glass sliding doors of the whimsical curated shop called Smocking Bird’s Baby Boutique.  My eyes were instantly gratified at the vibrant chartreuse/neon green patches of moss laid out upon the grey concrete floor.  Stones are scattered amongst the metal base and feet of jersey covered children’s dress forms, with arms cuddling adorable stuffed animals.  Everything captured Evie’s eyes, or should I say, caught her fingertips.  Inside, lovely clothes sewn in her favorite patterns climb across a white trellis, housing darling shabby chic furniture made specially for a little one.  Evie found a seat on a pale pink and white rocking bench– where she beckoned me to come over, then elaborated on why we desperately needed to bring it home.

Let me back-track about a year ago.  My dear friends, Megan and Brittan, brought Evie and I to The OC Mix for the first time.  After a cup of coffee at Portola, we walked around the corner and discovered a baby boutique.  We were delightfully greeted and invited into the shop by the owner (whom at the time I didn’t know) of Smocking Bird’s, Becky Pierce.  Noticeably, Smocking Bird’s have expanded both in interior and assortment.  Becky’s handmade smocked day gowns, bonnets, etc… are the most darling baby clothes I’ve ever seen; made to be heirlooms.  An admirable collection of Children’s books are displayed as birds on sturdy branches of a tree bookshelf built against the entrance wall.  Furthermore, this boutique invites featured authors to engage with children for story time and book signing.  I would love to attend a book signing to also meet illustrators of children’s books!

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A stunning Spring mint dress for an Easter Sunday!

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An elegant victorian child-sized mirror

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Evie cannot resist hugging a stuffed animal

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A few days ago I pondered the thought of learning correctly how to sew pleats, gathers, and other details into my sewing projects.  Some may say it is coincidence, but I acknowledge that God orchestrates days as these that reveal how much He hears our thoughts.  A chalkboard propped outside of the Smocking Bird’s studio read, “FREE Smocking Demo!”  Coincidence?  I think not.

Two women were already seated across the table from Becky.  Samples of her smocked bonnets, bibs, and bodices of unfinished day gowns were laid out across a rustic table.  Evie and I pulled up a chair beside her after she waved us over to take a seat.  She demonstrated how a smocking pleater works.  It was the first time I’ve seen one.   This small machine is an essential part of smocking; invented in the 1950’s by the Read Company of South Africa.  Becky demonstrated how to feed the fabric into the pleater from the back– by turning the handle on the side, it pushed the fabric through grooved rollers onto specially designed needles; creating perfect pleats.  After that step was done, she [quickly] showed us the tedious and patient art of stitching decorative motifs over the smocking.  If I lived in Costa Mesa, I’d likely be caught at this table every Saturday morning, learning this fine sewing technique.  What a great opportunity to learn from a professional, in an environment designed for creative people.

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Little Dancer

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Due to lunch plans, we couldn’t stay for the full demonstration.  However, I am now a loyal fan of Smocking Bird’s Baby Boutique.  An article written in the Orange County Register featured Becky’s shop with a headline titled:  “Shop owners… sell with class.”  I couldn’t say it any better.
xx
Jena
+ photos courtesy of Jaymi Britten

OC | Where We Meet Again

Portola Coffee Lab | 3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Portola Coffee Lab 3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

February 08, 2014She ordered a mocha, and I ordered a latte. I ordered Evie a buttered croissant [de lune] which she devoured instantly. We had been awake since 5 a.m. and was on the road from San Diego [as far south as the 8] for nearly an hour and a half.  My husband’s call time for a soundcheck in Costa Mesa was 7 a.m. Although it was too early for me, I would not miss the opportunity to witness a beautiful dawn. The twinkling gems in the sky slowly disappeared into the light of the day, just as my mental check-points and landmarks (Del Mar, Oceanside, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Irvine Spectrum’s ferris wheel, John Wayne Airport), which made the hours go by quicker.

The air was a chill to my bones, and it took me back to vague memories of when I used to live in Orange County– a city with undeniably no lack of luster and continues to grow in art and design. The OC from the television screen is almost similar to the OC in real life. However, I have a nostalgic acute sense of its familiarity of white concrete business buildings hidden amongst tall trees, freeways overlapping, the distance to the ocean and every bothersome traffic light in between that makes it even less exciting to get there, and routes to all of my favorite places. I recall the John Wayne Airport off of the 405– the place that transported me home in the summer and over holidays, the dreadful commute at 5 a.m. to downtown L.A. to get to a class by 8 a.m. and the constant ache of longing to move back to San Diego where I’ve always felt at home in California. I hold a fond memory of my past living in the OC. It marks the time in my life when God revealed Himself and showed me that His ways are not my ways.

09 February 2014 OC MIX in Orange County

09 February 2014 OC MIX in Orange County

This day was a surprise for Evie. I told her that we would wait patiently inside of the car until my “friend” arrived, to which she continued asking questions whom it might be: “Is it a boy or is it a girl?” “Have I met her before?” When this “friend” of ours appeared at the driver’s seat window where she sat with the chair reclined, she was ecstatic. Evie usually morphs into a wolf and claws at anything within reach, howling in glee, but this time she remained semi-composed.

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At 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning, we finally met up with my only doppelgänger, speaking in its contemporary vernacular, face-to-face. Between my sister and I, we are opposites in taste of style and pursuits, but we always need each other to execute dreams into the world [whenever that may be]. I need a photographer, and she needs an artist.  So again we meet, every conversation with a cup of jo on the table, and exchange of inspiration to connect the dots to collaborate. She goes by the name, Jaymi Britten, my twin sister who is older by one minute and will never surrender her elder title. She is a very talented photographer and photo editor, who should have already been taken under the wing of Annie Leibovitz, Peter Beard, or Raphael Mazzucco many moons ago.

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As we sat on a silver round table outside of Portola Coffee Lab at The OC Mix, Evie drew pictures with her foot in her hand-me-down ruby red glittered mary-janes and scraped the gravel on the ground. She wanted to gather sticks and pick flowers off the landscape, but I warned her not to do that.  We had cold hands wrapped around lime green Portola Coffee cups with lovely espresso art stirred on the foam surface of frothed milk.  I asked Jaymi if I could share her photos on my blog over the length of time she will be residing in Huntington Beach, which is over the next 6 months.  She permanently lives on Oahu (Hawaii).   I’m sure everyone else who knows her would delight in her candid and documentary photos as I do.  So while Jaymi will be capturing stories with her lens, I will be writing stories with my words…

xx
Jena

+ photos courtesy of Jaymi Britten

Bonne Année! Mes Résolutions 2014

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January

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New Years Eve 2013 | Instagram: jenasommerkim

Pourquoi Française? Why French?

Red Berlitz Basic French Dictionary I found at a book sale a year or so ago

Red Berlitz Basic French Dictionary I found at a book sale

Every year follows after a moment of reflection of the last.  2013 came and went in a blink of an eye.  Ma liste de résolutions seem to be the same almost every year.  It is composed of new languages (French & Hebrew), writing, reading new books, greater wisdom, godly parenting, journaling, better health, new illustrations — altogether being more intentional in everything about life from waking up earlier to not missing a birthday.

So…. Why French?

Sabrina 1954

Sabrina 1954

“Oh, but Paris isn’t for changing planes, it’s… it’s for changing your outlook, for… for throwing open the windows and letting in… letting in la vie en rose.”
~ Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn)

The French language is beautiful.  I’ve learned a little over the years by watching French films (La Fille du Puisatier 2011 is one of my current favorites), listening to French songs, and browsing through French magazines.  Paris Vogue is one of the most visually inspiring publications that excites me in design due to its typography, design, and content.  My website is inspired by Paris Vogue, particularly the April 2006 Issue, which I remember it sparking a spontaneity to consider studying abroad for fashion.  It didn’t happen, but hopefully my family and I will get to travel to Europe someday.

Paris Vogue April 2006

Paris Vogue April 2006

Paris is the epicenter of haute couture, and like any other fashion student, it will always be a dream to travel to France.  I imagine myself visiting all the museums, sketching architecture and street & runway fashion.  As the saying goes, “the French do it better,”  even in parenting (Bringing Up Bébé).  I personally want to see the countryside of France, and wander through Chateau’s, run through fields of wild flowers, and visit textile shops and couture workrooms!  Of course I want to speak French if I go to France.  And even if we don’t ever have the opportunity to travel, at least I can finally watch a French film without sub-titles.

Back to the reality of life in California and where I left off in November:

07 January 2014 Watercolor of Russian Model/Artist Sasha Pivovarova

07 January 2014 Watercolor of Russian Model/Artist Sasha Pivovarova

Since November (the last time I updated my blog), my days have been somewhat preoccupied with random projects for others and spending most of December with our families in Hawaii.  I’m terrible at prioritizing and I don’t like to-do lists, so the beginning of the year can be quite overwhelming for me.  So while most people are making lists, I’m trying to avoid them.  My husband functions extremely well with a notepad and an on going list of things to-do, and I just wish it were the same for me too.  I was just happy to start the New Year with optimism and a new love for watercolor pencils!!!  My mother gave Evie a set of 8 watercolor pencils and we tried it out for the first time together.  It was a magical moment when I showed Evie how we can draw with pencils, and go over it with a paintbrush and water.  We went to the park and I packed her pencils, a jar of water, and paper– all I can say is that there will be more to come of illustrations made with these pencils, indeed!

xx
Jena

Wild Daisies & A Wreath of Eucalyptus Branches.

Wild Daisies in the Berrious

Wild Daisies in the Berrious

“Daisy, give yourself away.  Look up at the rain, a beautiful display of power and surrender, giving us today and she gives herself away.”
Jon Foreman

We came to the Berrious one morning, with a nature list of things to collect to spruce up our home; bringing the outdoors, indoors.  I had ambivalent feelings of the weather, anticipating yet another victory for the sun, whom I wasn’t rooting for at all.  Thankfully, the warmth slowly dissipated as the fog crept in and covered our playing grounds.  We sat underneath the shade of an enormous pine tree, where the air was even chillier.  Evie collected lavender wild daisies, searched for giant pinecones, and came across slithering black slugs that made her shudder a second time as she told me her terrifying encounters with all of them as she fished for squirrels.

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It didn’t hurt.  It was just an accident, mommy.  It didn’t hurt.” Evie said.

What didn’t hurt?  Did you hurt the slug?  Did you kill it?” I asked.

No.  I saw the slug, and was afraid, and so I pressed it with my finger and it didn’t hurt me.  But it put slobber on my fingers and so it died!  But it was an accident,” she replied as her voice trailed off into a whisper.

The slug left a fingerprint of its sticky residue on Evie’s fingertips.  Traces of black pigment from its skin also stained her fingers.  It really nauseated me to think that she practically stabbed the slug to its death.  I quickly pulled out the antibacterial wipes.  My insides twisted and turned as I tried to calmly wipe the residue of slug mucous off her fingers, while at the same time wiping the expression of grossness off my face.  I cannot understand the inhabitance of gross terrestrials that slither and crawl upon this earth; what is their purpose?  I sat there unentertained by the repulsive thought that my daughter just killed a slug with her brave bare hands.  Deep inside, I might have been more traumatized than she was.

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Evie and I gathered large branches that had fallen from the Eucalyptus trees and dissected it branch by branch, forming a pile of mahogany colored twigs at our feet, and also picking off all of the leaves and clustered buds.  I envisioned a simple fall wreath for our front door– dark brown twigs layered together, fastened pinecones and tiny wild red berries bunched along the bottom half, and lastly, a simple satin or lace ribbon to hang it on a nail above the peek hole of our door.  I had no luck finding any red berries.

Wreaths take on many symbolic meanings in different cultures and beliefs.  I am a Christian and our family celebrates Christmas; so I am enamored by all the symbolic meanings behind most of the décor that is apparent in the months of November and December.  The advent evergreen wreath, symbolizes the everlasting life through Jesus; it is circular to represent God– with no beginning and no end.  But even though it hangs in significance, honestly, I just want our front door to be fall-esque; and in December, winter-esque.

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28 October 2013 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds in the Berrious

28 October 2013 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds in the Berrious

Time goes by quickly when we’re outdoors.  After a couple hours in the Berrious, we sat on our picnic blanket and munched on the snacks that I had brought.  I don’t think I can resist pumpkin sales this year, especially after roasting my first successful batch of pumpkin seeds.  The seeds were lightly golden, the insides were perfectly crunchy, and the salty taste and process of cracking the outer shell was just as addicting as eating sunflower seeds while watching a baseball game.  Unmindfully, I haven’t thought much about pumpkins being the prime vegetable on our table, rather than just a front porch halloween decoration.  When I was a child, my mother roasted the pumpkin seeds from our carved jack-o-lanterns, and both my grandmas occasionally made soups using pumpkin squash and other types of gourds for cooking.  In all honesty, I don’t know how to make one dish from my ethnic background; I am Filipina.  Needless to say, pumpkin is not a foreign food to me, it is part of my culture; I just did not anticipate the day that I would have to pick up where my mother and grandmas left off after I became a mother and a wife.  This includes, decorating for the holidays!

"These are your flower earrings mommy, put them on!"

“These are your flower earrings mommy, put them on!”

FALL WREATH

SUPPLIES:
A Bebe Florist
Branches
Pinecones
Hot Glue Gun + Glue Stick Refills

1.  Circle Template.  I used my largest circular knitting loom and traced a template with chalk on my working surface.

2.  Break branches into smaller sizes and start laying out your sticks following your circle template and hot-gluing it together at the same time.  Keep adding more branches and filling spaces until you are satisfied.

3.  Fasten pinecones and other nature finds to your wreath.

 xx
JENA