A Challenge for My Friends...

This is a post inspired by a convo I had with Valerie from My Own Crafty Wonderland at her pillowcase party, which you can read about here, here and here.  Hubs and I are starting to plan our 10/14 for next May.  What is a 10/14?  It's 10 years married, 14 years commonlaw (Justin says commonlaw counts...either way, we're a truly lucky couple and we know it!).

Love is in the air...love is all around.  Justin's good friend, one of Arthur's godfathers, Craig, met beautiful Mary and their wedding is planned for the fall.  Normally, I don't look forward to weddings much...perhaps it's because I've been to so many, and been in so many.  But with Craig and Mary, this is going to be a very special time for us.  We love Craig so much, and Mary is sweet and beautiful and treats him so adoringly.  And recently our friend Sacha, who we adore, married the sweetest, funnest man, and they will soon be throwing a big bash to celebrate...romance is so contagious...I can't wait!

All this has us excited about planning for our big event: building our playlist, thinking about food and decorations and all the fun wedding things that ladies flip out over.  And it's very much like planning our wedding again...our original event was an unvitation kind of wedding...to dodge the lengthy guest list and traditional church wedding, we married on Beaver Lake at Circle of Light...65 guests and weekend-long party.  It was amazing.  We had a brilliant, lovely time.  Three days in Arkansas, back to Tulsa for a concert at Majestic (in its previous incarnation), and then off to spend ten days camping, hosteling and staying at kitschy mountain lodges.  It was a dream to say the least, but now we are looking forward to sharing our commitment with all of our friends and family.

Here's what we have so far:

The event will take place next May at the Marquee, thanks to the kindness of Sacha and Marc.

Kisha, who was one of my best friends in high school and remains one of the dearest, most amazing people in my life, and her husband Chris, suggested a handfasting for this party.  After they explained to us that this is a short, earthy sort of ceremony that can be performed in a non-religious way, but is a way to recommit ourselves to each other without all the vow renewal business, we agreed to incorporate this into our event, but we want to keep it light.

We also want to include decorations, music, and other ideas to make this a big, insanely fun party to epitomize the essence of our years together.  We want to include things we love, like scooters, concerts, etc.  After doing some talking about what we want the party to be like, Justin suggested that it should be like a Flaming Lips concert (at which, incidentally, marriage proposals have become something of a regular event). Together, we've seen over 200 concerts in our 10/14, and Flaming Lips shows are our favorite.

I think this is an insane, amazing idea.  Instead of the usual wedding sort of things, we'll have bubbles, confetti, energy, balloons, bright colors, et cetera!  SO my question to you is, what are some ideas you have for our event?

Here are some pics to get you started:

Peace and Love!


Fun with Photos

While working on the Amazing, Super-Spectacular OWL, we recently ran into an Attribution Nightmare.  We soon found we were spending more time attributing photos we used than developing content for our tutorials...yikes! 
To solve this problem, B, who is heading up the project, looked to her own photo stash, and the rest of us soon followed suit. 

It didn't take long before I ran out of pics, however, as just about every photo I've taken in the last 2.5 years has been Arthur-centric.  I found myself one recent morning sprawled across the hardwood surrounded by literally hundreds of old photos in a strange postmodern mandala formation.  I took everything I thought I could use and tossed it into a lined apple basket and put our lab assistant to work scanning them.  They were badly cropped, taken with cheap cameras, etc., so I am now going through in my down time and using a photo editing program to spruce them up a bit.

The cool by-product of this time vampire is that I get to revisit places I've been and things I've done with new eyes.

Here are some of my favorites.

This is a church we visited in Nurnberg when we were over there in 2006 or so.

Niagara falls, taken when I was a teenager in the early 90s.

The inaugural Bonnaroo (from the VIP stage), 2002.

 A little church in South Texas where we attended a friend's wedding 10 or so years ago.

Keith and Melissia's wedding reception in 1997 or 98.

Justin contemplating the Oklahoma City Memorial.

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World in Florida, 1994.

Corpus Christi.


Little Dresses for Africa and Valerie from My Own Crafty Wonderland

Hi everyone!  I have been slacking on blogging lately because I have been working long days on the most amazing project up at the community college and our first deadline is about to steamroll us...very soon our Online Writing Lab (OWL) project will be fully armed and operational!  I don't have time to post a proper blog, but I would like to give some massive super duper mad props to my girl Valerie over at My Own Crafty Wonderland!  I met this amazing little lady four or so years ago through the wonderful world of scooters and she is definitely one of the coolest chicks I know.  She is cute as a button, extra crafty, and big-hearted.

For Valerie's birthday this year, she wanted something very special.  After reading about her request--she wanted her friends to bring pillowcases and make them into dresses for little girls in Malawi via an organization called Little Dresses for Africa--I really wanted to help out.  I put out a request and TCC represented...I love that school...amazing people and I'm so lucky to be part of the team over there with terrific people like Little Ms. Librarian.

My girlfriends Fallon and Cassie joined me and between the three of us we managed about 34 pillowcases!  I brought some vintage lace and rick rack and several of those little cute fabric flower doodads in case anyone wanted to put them on their dresses as embellishment--and to my surprise almost every one of them was used! To be honest, I somewhat notoriously (in my family, at least) failed home ec in middle school...I had done all right with the orange juliuses and sugar cookies, and I still wear my simple apron to this day (it was hemming and attaching ribbons, for pete's sake), but my poor little Pentecostal Prom Princess jumper never saw the light of day, instead ending in a crumpled mess of lovely pastel fabric I'd so adoringly chosen, bemoaning to the world my quiet failure to reconcile the academic and domestic...so I wasn't sure if my flowers would be as cool to anyone else as they are to me.  Needless to say, I was happy to see that other people enjoyed them and that they looked very cute on the little dresses.  Take that, Ms. Murphy.  Stick that in your hot air balloon hat.

Uh, where was I?

Oh, here you go!  Fallon took these wonderful photos...my camera died on the first shot.  Too bad I didn't listen to hubs when he warned me not to buy discount batteries!  I couldn't find the rechargeables and I was in a hurry...but I learned my lesson!

Here I am checking out the little red one I "made"--does it count as made if someone else did the sewing?  On that note, major extra mad props to those hardcore mamas who kept up with the sewing.  Go girl power!

It's hard to tell in this pic, but that little dress was red gingham with hearts, and the little bow is white with red hearts.  It was extra rad.  On the dress directly to my right, you can see one of my little flowers.

Left to right: Fallon, Cassie, me, Valerie.  What a great group of girls!  I had such a terrific time.

Aren't these dresses just beautiful?  They will grow with their wearers and as Doug, Valerie's hubs, pointed out, if they look this cute on the line, just imagine how sweet they will be with little precious sweetie pie girlies in them!

The one on the right here is mine.  You can't tell in this photo, but it has two little pink fabric flowers on it.

What a great day!  Thank you, Valerie!


When you wish upon a bracelet...

Let me preface this blog by saying I can never claim to not be materialistic.  In fact, I am quite materialistic, like all good Americans!  Our family's goal is to try to moderate this so we can enjoy life without hurting others or ourselves (although despite our best efforts, sometimes we do...after, all, we're only human) for our love of stuff.  We call it doing the Stan Marsh.  Truth be told, I am unashamedly a bon vivant, but materialism is kind of like with wine:  I love wine, love love LOVE it (sorry to yell), but drinking wine every day all day would be unhealthy, and it would soon cease to be a delightful pleasure and instead become a defining force in my life.  Then people would call me a wino (instead of a lush).

Which brings me to this:

Have you ever seen something so awesome you just had to have it, and then committed many long hours of your life to the quest of procuring said item?  That's where I've been since the very beginning of Breaking Bad when, amidst the heart-pounding, anxiety-triggering drama of the meth world, I found myself enthralled with the silver on the arm of Mr. White's Albuquerque superwife Skyler.

Skyler (played by Deadwood's voluptuous Anna Gunn) is a woman wracked with challenges, a strong woman, an internalizing closet smoker whose overall sense of style, while punctuated with bosomy v-necks and ever-present asymmetrical cardigans and the occasional Boho New Mexico piece, screams "Knit Sale at Chico's."

Breaking Bad Season 1 Episode Photos

And yet she's a woman I can relate to as she juggles the commitments of being an emotionally ever-present wife and mother with the struggle of helping to provide monetarily for her family.  She does her best to look good, but has very real-world moments, as when she squeezes her preggy belly into this slightly outdated dress to support her husband at a swanky party:

Breaking Bad Season 1 Episode Photos

Skyler White's simple style reflects her sensibilities: soft, understated, with an inward focus on her family, which I can respect.  And she a few things going for her despite it, specifically that ample rack, red carpet Redken waves, and a signature bracelet that's to die for.

Breaking Bad Season 3 - Skyler White - breaking-bad photo

There it is again.  Skyler White wears this bracelet with everything, season after season.  It's an amazing liquid mesh bracelet, and I've been crazy over it for ages.

After many months of searching, I had almost given up hope when I suddenly came across a Breaking Bad thread dedicated entirely to this bracelet.  Hooray!  These people really did their homework.  They researched the costume director and tracked down the original designer.  It's true: everything is possible with the Internet!  I am so excited to say that this lovely 3-inch bracelet is on my wrist as we speak.  It's just like the cricket said...I wished upon a bracelet and my dream really did come true.  That is what he was talking about, right?

Sweet Justin had already given me the sweetest mother's day gift.  He made a five-star chicken fettucini alfredo for me and Mama Betsey, complete with the loveliest salad...mixed greens, cranberries, goat cheese, sliced almonds, and raspberry vinaigrette, served with a divine bruschetta...oh my!  And he brought me this single-stem lovely flower (seen here being swallowed by the chaos of my refrigerator magnets and my less-than-fabulous photography):

And then today, this pretty little package came in the mail.

Hmmm...what could it be?   I was so excited.  Arthur helped me unwrap...

And inside was this pretty little pouch...

And then...

Thank you, hubs!  Thank you, Arthur!  Happy mother's day, ladies.

Cute hair doodads for gifting (tutorial)

Back two years ago when we all at once had a new baby and felt the sting of what the British call "redundancy" not once but twice, Yorktown Owens started getting really creative about gift giving.  This morning, I am sharing with you one of our favorite DIYs, first inspired by some super cutie stuff I liked on etsy and inspired by some of the many felt flower tutorials we've seen on One Pretty Thing.

They're super easy to make, and everyone loves them.  We use repurposed fabric for ours.  Here's our version.

You will need these supplies:

*Some elastic headbands that come several to a pack from someplace cheap where they're probably mass-produced in a sweatshop (unless you can find a better way to procure them).

*A hot glue gun.  Don't buy a cheap one.  We did this and mine epically exploded.  It was terrifying and hilarious all at once.

*Templates for cutting fabric.  I generally just use cookie cutters like the one above and other round or flower-shaped objects.

*A white crayon or something similar to trace on the fabric.  I use some superskinny oil pastels I have or cheap white eyeliner.  Probably there is a better way to do this.  I sucked at home ec, so I wouldn't know.

*Fiskars, preferably cute pink or purple ones.  Mine are county orange, like my soul.

*Needle and thread.  And probably a thimble.

*Rick-rack, ribbon, lace, cute buttons, other notions.  I pick them up at garage sales and repurpose old clothes for them.

*Wine.  Preferably a malbec but for summer, a gewurztraminer will work.

*A girlfriend or two to talk to while you work and give them to when finished.  I had Tina.  Tina is precious.

*Some felt and other fabric.  I like to use a mix of lace, felt and miscellaneous old clothes I have taken apart because they no longer worked for one reason or another but I just love love love the fabric.  

Speaking of repurposing fabrics, I was super thrilled to see my extra fabulous mother-in-law wearing a rosette she'd made from two robot costumes her boys had worn when they were little, one gold and one silver.  This is a woman who owns glam.  She epitomizes style and grace. I have to make one of these soon:

Anyway, back to the hair doodad project.  It's just so easy.  You trace and cut out a ton of different sized fabric pieces.  I catch up on my favorite shows on Hulu while I'm doing this.

Then you have some of these.  I like just making a ton so you can spread them out and decide which you like together.  It's kind of fun...I have a whole basket of them.

Then you stack them up to your pleasure, like so.

You can sew through them with a button on top, as I did here:

Or just sew through them and make a little "X" on top; that's really cute if you use contrasting thread.

At this point, you can hot glue it to some old plain hair clip you have lying around like so:

(this is Tina rocking the one I made for her)

Or you can cut a length of grosgrain, lace, etc., kind of measure around your head with it, and then cut one of those elastic headbands apart so you can close the fabric up with it.  This makes your headband stretchy.

Here I used some vintage lace I picked up at a garage sale, where a very nice lady let me fill a whole grocery bag with vintage notions for like three bucks (I now own shades of rick rack I didn't know existed, and lord knows I love rick rack).  It was a special day for me!

As a I child of the 70s-early 80s, I was destined to love rick rack.

In the picture above, I just used a little bit there.  

Next, you glue your flower to the band.  I put mine kind of on the side.  I use another piece of felt to secure it on the bottom side, like so:

Notice here how I actually made this one from rick rack glued to bias tape.

There are tons of other variations you all can come up with on this, I am certain.  Just be careful with that hot glue; it can be tricky business for the craft-challenged like me!

Anyway, it dries in a snap and then you're ready for the ball.

There you have it!  Have fun.  Peace, everybody.


Pathetically Shameless Garage Sale Score Blog

This blog is for my moms and my coussies, who dig the heck out of the g-sale hunt.  It's kind of a pointless blog, except to brag about how awesome my garage sale karma was yesterday and to remind everyone that when your husband's been laid off and you work for the state, you still don't have to live a life utterly devoid of cool stuff.  And since you're reusing, kudos to you!

We all know that little rush that comes from getting a good garage sale deal.  Yesterday, the cousins took me and the Bot to a neighborhood garage sale in Owasso and had a great time...it was Victorian Tumblers and Skeleton Suit Day all over again!  We piled five kids and five adults in the bargain wagon and trucked around the neighborhood, hopping out at the more promising looking driveways.  I love this so much I dream about this sort of thing...meandering through piles of once-beloved linens and tsotchkes and home crafted items fit only for cat ladies.  It was great fun, even if every single stop ended with me ungraciously dragging my indignant, occasionally unwittingly shoplifting child away from some half-destroyed Barbie house or Happy Meal toy he'd fixated on in the ubiquitous "mystery bin."  I had twenty-five dollars to work with.  Here's what we scored:

Tolly Tots Graco My Little 2-in-1 Doll Swing in Green Leaf Print 
Graco branded swing, baby carrier and pack 'n play for the Bot; his are actually in a matching blue and white pattern rather than the one shown above...they are this pattern (although we don't have the high chair):

Graco Doll High Chair

It's important in helping create good fathers from childhood to allow little boys to role play with "babies," as exemplified by this conversation, excerpted from Joel Troxell's essay (linked below) on Mothering.com:

But even if there was nothing inherently wrong with Nathan having a doll, was there any actual benefit to it? When I asked Amanda this question, I was floored by the level of thoughtfulness and insight revealed by her reply.

"Do you want Nathan to someday grow up and be a good dad?"

"Well, I hadn't really thought about it," I said, "but of course I do!"

"So he'll need to have qualities like compassion, sensitivity, and patience, as well as some practical experience with things like holding a baby, right?"

I couldn't disagree. Having refused to hold babies in the past, I had no choice, when Nathan was born, but to learn quickly. And never in his life had my brother looked as uncomfortable as when he held Nathan for the first time. "Of course," I said

"Then the earlier we start teaching him these things, the better. What better way to begin than with a doll?"  

And it makes me so proud to think that Arthur will become a super dad someday.  

Here are some articles on Guys and Dolls:

We also picked up The Adventures of Raindrop on vinyl...it's about time Arthur had his very own record (although he does have the old school Fisher Price Sesame Street music box record player thanks to Auntie Taeh).  He has taken to carrying them over to the player and trying to get them going when no one's looking (Daddo plays Pink Floyd often when they're home together during the week).  

(Here's where you just pretend like our living room floor isn't trashed)

By the way, there's a whole web page dedicated to Raindrop where you can even print off cool vintage coloring pages.

Arthur isn't trying to feed the record to the TV set; he's demonstrating to us where it needs to go (turntable lives on a shelf way up over the TV in anticipation of the new ultramegagiant TV one of our superBFFs is sending over this week).

We also picked up three Melmo videos:

Elmo's World - Babies, Dogs & MoreSesame Street - Elmo's World - Reach for the SkyElmo's World: The Street We Live On! [DVD]

We aren't a use-the-TV-as-a-babysitter kind of a family, but sometimes it's nice to just mellow out together and enjoy a show, and both Justin and I remember very fondly the occasional reward of settling in to watch Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street and the Muppets.  In fact, we adore Frank Oz!   When Arthur's doc told us an occasional hour or less of TV for wind-down time or sick days is totally fine, we decided to institute a Family Movie Night.  As a couple, Big J and I have always loved having our one TV show we look forward to every week or going to the movies, and as a lit/drama geek, I've always seen TV as an art (and just as there's good art, there's plenty of crappy art, or guilty pleasure art, a principle that holds true for TV as well).  Emancipated of the guilt that we're rotting his little brain (as children of the 80s, TV and video games were a major part of our lives), we now make family TV night somewhat epic...I lay out a rocking palette on the floor (inspired by Miss O, who also loves TV and movies [and Muppets]), pop up some popcorn, and we all snuggle up for the big show.  I promised Arthur we will watch the movie of his choice later on tonight after Daddo goes to work and we're both looking forward to it, especially since the poor little bug has been running a fever today.  I even think a little ice cream might be in order!  

And three Little Golden Books (more Frank Oz action here!), which of course any 80s child worth their salt adored the heck out of, to add to our already ginormous book collection (hey, I'm an English teacher, for Pete's sake!).


(That last one will be great if my family ever lets me take a job in London!)

And we can't get enough of these.  I always loved them and my pre-ks loved the heck out of them at Bryant when I taught over there.  Go Playskool!

  Playskool vintage Disney Donald Duck wooden puzzle

More Grover!  And I think Donald may make it on our Disney trip for hotel room down time (ten days is a long time!)  We also picked up a really cute little farm animals puzzle with pegs and another wooden letter puzzle with a ram on it.

And then my cousin found what my little Justin clone needs desperately for his no-butt: a super sweet toddler train belt.  Do you have any idea how rare it is to come across belts for these little people?  And Arthur loves trains.

But our twenty-five dollars wasn't done yet.  It was my turn to get goodies!  

Of course, I came across some jewelry I loved, like this antique pendant which will come to live on some lovely grosgrain later today:

And while it's too tiny too see, here is a vintage pendant with....drum roll...a windmill in delftware!  It's like Rotterdam is calling us back...

But there was more shopping to be had.  I soon came across these cutie pie sneaks in perfect condition!  They had "happy Disney World feet" written all over them!

     Click here to Enlarge

And these little slip-ons, also in perfect shape:

And I picked up these tights, new in the package:

You all know how I feel about funky tights...my darlin' doula Joey Stenner got me hooked on funky legwear when she brought me the world's raddest labor accessory so I could experience my birthing experience in style.  What a gal!  It's just plain hard to be cute when rocking the librarian chic every day, so I just love this splash of color kind of business.

And to hide my ample cleavage at work, I picked up two jewel-toned Massini camis, one ruby, one teal, similar to this one.  They are so sweet, I decided today I would schlump around the house in the teal cami with my sugar skull N&N pants.  

Massini Womens Silky Sexy Trendy Tank Top Shirt Sz Med

And I then found a lovely little batik-styled earth mama top with the deep azuls I love so much:

Then I came across a perfect blue mirrored Indian bag, and I love all things Indian.  Should I ever make it to the market in Mumbai, I will probably spend every dollar we have on saris and handbags!  Thank heaven there's no Fake India at Disney World, since I have to budget every year for the lovely things at Mitsukoshi, Fake Morocco and Fake Mexico.  My bag is identical in style to this, with a slightly deeper blue and a deep sienna where the red is here.  The embroidery around the mirrors is alternating blue and red.  It's lovely.  Hello, airport security person.  Yes, I can remove my shoes.  Yes, I know I'm cute.

Blue and Red Mirror Work Bag

If you like the bag, by the way, it's available with a hundred other lovely Indian goods or so via Dolls of India.

Surely I was out of money by then, right?

I still had enough left to pick up a brand spanking new bottle of this

and this

(from Victoria's Secret).

And I also found some silly knit house socks for our Disney vacay.  Hello, geekdom!

Finally, I found three of the prettiest mosaic tile candle holders, in guess what...blue!

Now I am off to spend my Saturday night in the dorkiest possible way: I see in my future Journey singalongs with Arthur, some LOST fandom in my downtime, perhaps pursue a mother-son quest create and photo shoot some strange sculpture from my the bot's toys and miscellaneous footwear.  Because we're the Yorktown Owens, and we don't got to impress nobody!

Peace to you all.