Thursday, May 21, 2015

"We Made It," by Jennifer Garner

Rex and I spent Monday afternoon, just the two of us, down at Shutters on The Beach Hotel in Santa Monica celebrating the launch of Jennifer Garner's new craft line for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store.  I really hadn't a clue as to what to expect as far as these kinds of celebrity based functions go, but like most people I adore Jennifer Garner and figured anything she was invested in that had to do with children (and crafting) was likely well worth our while. 

Turns out I was right. Walking through the door I was relieved to find the overall vibe was just as I had hoped: warm & friendly. Casual and fun. Made up of an intimate mix of bloggers and grafters, their children, a handful of media and a couple photographers. We snacked on crab cake burgers and chicken wings, mac and cheese, veggie sticks, ahi tuna with fresh lemonade to wash it all down. The food on hand was delicious and we were free to roam the tables at our leisure. Testing out an array of the craft kits that are going to be part of a 100 part series debuting this summer. Rex was easily entertained the whole time and proved especially well behaved. I even caught him mingling with the craft aids and other children while taking special care to finish up each craft he sat down to complete. Thank You, God.

Outside we were gathered for a round table talk with Jennifer about the line - where it sprang from and what was most important to her in the initial stages of design. She was lovely. Down to earth, openly engaging. Pretty in a real, and relatable way. In fact within about two minutes I think we all just about forgot any of the imposed Hollywood hype attached to her and her name and became totally focused on the background stories she shared about being raised by a hard working, DIY mom with a serious knack for all things craft based. Her mother made all their clothes and baked all & any treats kept in the house. She joked about her and her sisters being desperate as kids, for store bought Oreos or a box of "Little Debbies"in the pantry, but that her mom never caved. How it's things like that that she appreciates now as an adult. She also described spending many afternoons on the weekends at Jo-Anne's as a young girl with her mother which, for me made this particular  partnership a little more appealing than your typical star based, brand product pairing. 

Other fun points discussed round the table - because let's be honest, who doesn't enjoy hearing about how the famed spend their downtime - was that she bakes bread for the family every Sunday. A routine in which each of her children come to contribute. Even her three year old son who she says is happy to sit with simple ingredients he is allowed to mix and measure while she ties up the rest. She said that she cooks as much as she can and tries to prep meals throughout the week. But confessed to "never being prepared" on the go, to bumming diapers off other mothers in public and packing her glove box with wipes and necessities instead of lugging around a fully stocked diaper bag (heyme too!) When asked what advice she might give to new mothers, she gave my favorite answer of the day further securing her reputation as an A list actress with a down home outlook. "Is it OK to say I don't believe in giving advice to other mothers?" She asked laughing, and then concluded that if pressed for a single tag line her standing advice would have to be "go with your gut and lean on your girlfriends." Which tells me right there she's my kind of lady. 

We wrapped up the evening back at the craft tables with Jennifer amongst the kids where she chatted  with a couple of her real life friends who stopped in to say hello, thanked us all for driving "so far," and obliged all and any requests for photos with her.

Altogether it ended up a really lovely afternoon. Jennifer, a true delight and the line something I am genuinely excited to share here. We came home bearing bags full of a few crafts we hadn't tried, all of which Rex and his brothers are loving. The quality of the wood, the playfulness of design and choice of color and textures are fantastic. But after hearing her talk about how much time she spent ensuring each part of every package lined up with her vision, it doesn't come as any surprise. Her hand and direction are evident in all the well loved details.

So you guys have got to keep an eye out for these fun additions to be stocked on shelves June 21st. With pricing ranging anywhere from 8.99 - 29.99 they make for a fun and practical birthday party gift and with a generous portion of proceeds benefiting "Save The Children" it feels like a win win in every regard.

And, if you do try them out, please let me know which ones you like best? As of now we're partial to the string art kit, the solar light, and hoop hideaway and the sibling blanket. But, with a 100 kits to choose from, the choices feel almost endless.

You can find a little more about the line with Jennifer explaining it here 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Marked

A few months back, near the start of the school year Arlo's third grade teacher mentioned what a strong reader he was during my parent conference and showed me how he had tested at the top of this class in all of the reading sections, which I was somewhat surprised to hear. Not because I doubted his ability but because it got me wondering why, if he did excel in that area, I really didn't see him reading much outside of if what was linked to his regular homework requirements.

And then it hit me, I had been making the mistake of assuming that an early love of reading would simply root itself if it were ever going to at all. I had enjoyed books around his age and picked them up on my own accord, but see now that that's not always the case. Expecting him to fall in love with it on his own felt like a lazy mistake on my part but at nine years old, I also knew it wasn't too late to fix.

I decided to give him a little push without making it seem like anything of the sort - so I used what I know motivates him best (at this age, anyway) Money. I told him I would give him 20$ if he read the entire first book of Harry Potter and could explain to me, in detail, the story's main characters and overall premise. He happily agreed and blew through the book in a week with ease. Laying awake every single night after his bath, tucked in bed ultimately falling asleep with the book on his chest. When he was finished the first he begged for the next in the series and two months later he is just beginning book four. Now he genuinely looks forward to the end of the night, to climbing in bed to pick up where he left off the night prior. I even caught him curled up in a corner recently reading during a movie he put on with a school friend here sleeping over. Needless to say, so far it's looking like the best 20 bucks I ever spent.

This weekend I made him a couple custom denim stitched bookmarks using fabric scraps, super thin plastic strips / cardboard hot glued with a little felt marker up top and sewn around the bottom edges. A really quick, easy project with all required tools I already had on hand. A cute way to keep his pages marked instead of the old dog eared tricks he's been relying on for weeks.

Thinking I'll whip up a couple extra, maybe slightly more colorful versions this evening in honor of "teacher's appreciation week" which starts to tomorrow. We have five days to fill, which means ten contribtuions and tomorrow's flower themed suggestion just might work pretty perfectly here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Shop Listings

So today was a success, at least as far as shop news goes (we missed the kinder registration deadline for Rex, and felt like full blown dead beat parents, but good news is, "it's not that big of a deal" the front office lady assured me. Though you would think, with this being our third entrance, we might have it down by now right?) Anyway, back to productive news: fresh shop listings are up and available for a quick peek HERE - our beloved wood crates Mike makes and we use all throughout the house made the cut, as well as a handful of my favorite home textiles.

New denim teepee, two new tee shirt designs, and one gorgeous plywood toy box still coming soon!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Craft Habits

This month has been plowing along with the kind of freight train momentum usually attached to December. I swear I don't remember May being so event heavy in the past. All I know is that I've had a really rough time keeping up, staying focused, and juggling it all. Feeling mainly stressed by the relentlessness. Though I try to remind myself that the end of school is just around the corner and with it comes the freedom we wait all year to seize and fall into.

Somehow though I've managed to carve out a few random hours, at the very end of the night to brush up on my old stitching habit. Something I haven't touched since a few years back - just before we opened up shop on Etsy - in which I spent a lot of time practicing quirky cross stitch designs on pillowcases, hand towels and even blouses - a hobby that led to a more focused endeavor that had me sewing boldly colored felt monsters I sold around town in wooden crates that Mike made especially to suit their packaging. That year I sold as many as I could make and felt a new pride in being able to pay for all my gifts that Christmas using the extra money I made selling these hand made crafting creations I put so much time and energy into. A notion that still brings me (us) a strong sense of pride four years later, with every single sale we make.

Speaking of which - the House Inhabit shop will finally be getting some much needed attention too. We've been working on adding some new additions we hope to have in stock by the end of the month, some regulars and some hand picked vintage items I tend to stock in my own home and figured others might appreciate as well. Lots of old denim, and a couple other cool basics too. Now it's just a matter of finding the time for photographing, measuring, listing, ect seeing that everything we do these days comes to furiosn in brief spurts between everything that slices up our weekdays on a regular basis. These past few weeks haven't been easy. And my sleep habits seem to keep shrinking in light of it, but I know it will all fall into place at some point.  In the meantime, I keep that basket full of thread and old fabric next to the couch to stitch away the stresses with the familiar hum of old Mad Men reruns there to narrate these long late nights. Craft therapy to help cure this current stroke of growing stress and unease.

And, still counting down till June. . .

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


By now I know what expect as far as the first year goes. So I wasn't too shocked when I woke to find that fourth baby of mine so big in his crib on the eve of his birthday yesterday morning. Smiling so hard at my weary eyed entrance. Those small familiar hands reaching desperately for me in my old tattered bathrobe like he does, every single day since learning to stand.

I held him close and bathed him in the sink after breakfast. I sat him in the sunny corner of the couch and videoed him there in the last hours of his 11th month. I folded his clothes in the afternoon as I watched him crawl naked around the backyard chasing hot wheels on bare knees. I fed him blueberries and made him pasta. I kissed his cheeks and combed his hair. I held him a little longer in the evening and laid him next to me in bed instead of down in his own like the all the other nights before, soaking in the tail end of those sweet infant hours.

I thought about my pregnancy - reflecting on so many late nights I stayed up watching movies till midnight with platters full of cucumbers, cheese and crackers by my side, waiting anxiously for him to make some kind of move that might warn us of his intended arrival. He was an active baby. He kept me up and tossed instantly through the night. And then dragged the end wait out for more than a week past his designated due date. Making up for it with the quick and easy delivery that happened first thing that Monday morning, surprising us with yet another beautiful baby boy to take home in that tiny pink knit beanie I keep them all in stuffed in a bin above my washing machine.

I watched the day slip away and mourned the weeks and months that seemed to go too fast.

And then we piled a few kids in the car and drove down the street to sing him a birthday song in the green grass even though he's got a little party for him planned a few weekends away.

He clung tight to a fist full of bright balloons his dad came bearing and shrieked with delight over the chunk of chocolate doughnut we gave him in place of the cupcakes we couldn't find and failed to make.

Then he came home to fall fast asleep, officially one year old.
And at the end of the night, just like three times before, I felt finally ok with it.

In short: Wishing a happiest birthday to our fourth born.
May all good things help pave your path. We love you dearly sweet Hayes Ray.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kurt Cobain / Montage of Heck

I sat down and watched the HBO documentary "Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck" as it debuted last night and am still reeling from the utter sense of devastation it leaves you with.

It's a raw and riveting two hours and by all accounts one of the best rock documentaries I've ever seen in that it really seeks to stray from the standard story arch typical of this style film which builds in a predictable incline to mounting fame followed by the enivatble downfall. And instead, takes some fearless detours that delve head first into the spirling darkness attached to the man behind the fleeting rock God. Stock full of old home videos, childhood audio (baby Kurt breaks my heart) diary entities, notes and drawings, as well as a running animation of his art threaded throughout the film that all work brilliantly to help shape a full and complex portrait of a boy growing up a self proclaimed misfit, later a staggering punk idol, a "genius," a son, a father, a junky. And ultimately, one more sad suicide statistic. 

I can't put into words just yet how deeply seeing it has affected me but when I can, I hope to share some clearer thoughts on it soon. 

Until then, you MUST watch this film. 

Mercado Sagrado

It's no secret that I am notorious for existing on a consistnelty wrecked calendar schedule. Always have. Probably always will. It stems back to my college days when I would pile on event after event because I was born with the notion that sleep is for the weak. As I've gotten older obviously things have changed. But I still say yes to a quite a lot, before ever actually checking in what I have in store already. And more times than not, all the creative juggling tends to somehow just work itself out in the end.

Point being, this past weekend when our glorious time at the Ace Hotel with the Crafting Community extragavanga bled into the second day of the Mecardo Segrado event in Malibu Canyon I already had tickets to, I figured why not power through and soak up a little sun at both. Especially considering I had already long convinced my niece and best friend to go too. And I hate to flake on that kind of thing.

I drove straight from Palm Springs early Sunday morning, with my ever willing, impressively good natured baby in tow, clad in a damp bathing suit all the way to the canyon to hop on a shuttle that landed us right there at the shady, tree scattered venue's plateau where the event was just setting up. We arrived early and wandered from booth to booth checking out the goods, spotting a few familiar online faces, admiring plenty of fantastic hand made pottery, jewelry, dresses, bohemian tinged art installations, and one overcrowded aura dome photo booth - that we silently cursed for not having enough room for four more aura shots that day. We also grew accustomed to dodging flocks of long haired barefoot little hippie girls in vintage dresses chasing each other around the green grasses in a sight so pretty it made me fear the long settled desire of "wanting" a girl of my own, for only the most superficial reasons (to dress!) might spring up and get a good and lasting grip on my heart again. Luckily, I didn't take too many photos of them to taunt me for very long. Like I knew they were sure to.

All in all, Mecardo Sagrado was much like I had anticipated it to be. A photogenic mix of young Malibu model types and revered community artiasians. A swap meet for the free spirited folk with a little extra cash in their pockets who appreciate a bottle of 4$ birch water in a proper flat brimmed straw hat while scouring gorgeous (but at times, generously over marked) vintage frocks and new creations with the tune of a brooding, eerie Leonard Cohen (among others that sounded kind of the same) serving as defining soundtrack to the day. I don't know that I fully "get" the validity behind the 25$ price to enter considering it is far from a full blown flea or festival, and the bathroom line itself is enough to possibly deter a few from returning next round, but I will say that if I were to come back again (and you know, I probably will) I would be more prepared to sit and park it there for a whole afternoon. To picnic and roam and chat and maybe even sneak in a little nap at a more leisurely pace.  Because it really is a lovely set up with an interesting aesthetic and the people / fashion watching factor alone is well worth the long drive. Not the bathroom line, but definitely the long drive.

And next time, we'll be sure and book our aura's spot at the dome way beforehand.