Weekend Reads: Goodbye January!

I'm hoping these flowers somehow usher in Spring. Goodbye arctic January!
Friends, I am so looking forward to this weekend. Tonight I'm headed out to dinner with a friend, tomorrow I'll be snowed in and working on projects and Sunday Adrian has off and will be cooking for a superbowl party with friends.

Yesterday was such an off day. The whole day I felt ten paces behind and just generally down. This month has been such an odd month and I think this extreme weather is taking a toll. My flights back from Christmas got cancelled and we've had four days of school cancelled due to the intensely cold temperatures. In all of that, January left me feeling like I was in a fog and could never quite catch my footing. Anyone else feeling that way?

Here's to hoping that February allows me to settle back into my routine! 

To start February off right, here are some reads I enjoyed this week:
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

DIY: Printed Party Favor/Treat Bags

I am so excited to share this with you all today because I know you will want to try it out. And your life will be changed forever. Honestly.

You can buy glassine bags and run them through your printer.

It's true. I do it all the time. And it's amazing. 

I've made bags for all kinds of things. You might recognize them from Adrian's black and white birthday party a few years back. Or maybe from Erin's baby shower this past summer. I absolutely love how you can create a little graphic and then just print it right on to the bag.

Ok so how do we do this? It's fairly simple. 

  1. I create my image (I use Photoshop, but you can probably do it on picmonkey or other free programs) using the dimensions of my bag, which is roughly 4.5 inches by 6.75 inches so I set my canvas to that size. 
  2. When I finish my graphic, I click print and make sure my paper size is set to 4.5 x 6.75. Then I feed my bags through the printer. I've found it works best to feed them through one at a time to avoid jams. I should also point out that I have a top loading printer so I can't speak for other printers.
  3. I set them out to dry. 
  4. Once they've dried for the most part, I blow dry them on high heat. This seems to set the ink a bit more. 
  5. I admire my adorably themed bags.
You can pick up glassine bags at Michael's but since I knew I'd be doing a lot of projects with them, I bought about 1000 from Uline. Yes, 1000. And I have yet to regret that decision. (Also, they'll send you a sample if you'd like so you can try to run it through your printer before committing yourself to 1000.)

Since they are food-safe, you can use them for cookies, candies, brownies, goodies. Or fill them with confetti because why not. Then just seal them with a bit of washi tape and bam, cutest little bag ever.  

Now quick warning: If you are a perfection, as I am, this may not be the project for you. Inevitably there will be tiny ink smudges here and there. I've decided the overall effect is well worth the imperfections. And also, no one else ever notices. So shush that inner-perfectionist and enjoy your creations!

If you do this project, would you be so kind as to share a link? I'd love to see what you create!

For another Valentine idea, check out my DIY Cake Topper from a couple weeks back.

Note: Uline did not sponsor this post. They don't even know I wrote it, but I have genuinely been happy with their product and service so of course I'll share that info with you.

Who we are and what we carry within.

While in Maine, I always do my best to catch up on reality television that I don't normally watch due to a lack of cable and a desire to leave my couch. So while home and catching up, Erin and I watched some Long Island Medium. You've all seen this show, yes? It's hilarious and ridiculous, but I had this thought again and again as we watched episode after episode.

Each person is carrying around such great pain.

If you haven't watched the show, watch just one episode and listen to the stories. I'm not advocating for mediums and I'm not suggesting that I believe in this or that or what-have-you. I'm saying that that show reminds me to see others as humans.

The other night back in Chicago with some friends, I saw the movie Her. For those who haven't seen it, it crosses into awkward from time to time. But outside of the awkward, there's this powerful reminder of how we isolate ourselves from one another and how much pain we each carry.

Sometimes on the blog, I talk about this program I did a few years back called Mission Year. It's the reason I moved to Chicago. In Mission Year, we participated in a technology fast. For the whole year. No cell phones except on Mondays. No internet at home. No TV. Just you, me and the people we encountered at work, in our church and in our neighborhood. 

And when distractions are so limited, there's this wonderful freedom to get to know people. And to ask tough questions. And to share stories. And to be reminded that we each have a story and that I want to know your story and maybe you want to know mine.

During Mission Year, my roommates and I used to visit this woman down the street. She was in her 70s and she was fabulous. She'd invite us into her home and we'd spend hours there. Laughing and sharing and getting advice and forgetting about the world outside those walls.

The year after Mission Year, she passed away. We went to the funeral, the three of us roommates, and met her grown children for the first time. They told us how much those visits had meant to their mother and how much she'd enjoyed that time we'd spent together. And how glad they were that we had been there to keep her company when they couldn't. We hadn't meant anything profound by it. We simply enjoyed her company and her laughter and her incredible stories so we kept going over. We reassured her children that it was she who had done us the favor.

In class today, one of my adult students told us the story of how and why she came to the United States.  She was simply practicing answering the question "How long have you lived in the United States?" But this story just poured out of her and I was reminded how much life each of us carry within. And how sometimes that life is painful and beautiful and blessed all at once.

All of this is to say that I want to remember that we are all human. With deep, deep capacities for joys and pains and tragedies and awe.

And in a month, I want to remember that in the third week of January 2014, when I looked at people, I wondered who they were and what they carried within. If you notice I've forgotten to treat each person accordingly, kindly remind me, won't you?

For my mum, on her birthday!

Today is my mum's birthday!

There's so much I wish you all knew about my mum. That she finds Dane Cook hilarious, particularly when he talks about the Kool-Aid Man. Or how when she decides a phone call is over, she just says "Ok bye!" without much fanfare. Or that she only eats half of everything. Or that she loves a good doughnut, but only half of course. Or, best of all, how she's convinced anything and everything will catch fire and we'll all go down in flames.

Perhaps one of my favoritest parts of being in my twenties is getting to know my mom as a person rather just simply as my mom. When I'm no longer concerned about whether she'll drive me here or wash my jeans or tell my sister to stop it, I get to know these little pieces of her that just make her so Lyd. 

I went on vacation alone with my parents this year and it was magical. I spent a whole week with my mum, devoid of siblings begging for her attention, and we did all the things we love. Namely, sit by a pool, go to the beach, eat sweets, explore cute towns and bother my dad. 

Each time I go home, my mum and I go to this little cafe in town. Really, the only cafe in town. We sit and drink coffee and chat and I love it. This last time, we also went to my mum's favorite new doughnut shop because no one else in the family appreciates it nearly enough. 

The more I get to know my mum, the more convinced I am that at age five, I had it right. We ought to throw everybody out of the house and just live together. My dad has always said we'd be very happy together and I have no doubt that we will. Just as long as I'm not responsible for Harriet, my mum's puppy. 

So with that, I wish you a very happy birthday, Lydiebell! Here's to hoping that in the next couple years, you get everything you ever hoped for: A half a decent doughnut and you and me back under one roof. That is all you ever wanted, right??

Mornings in Maine.

Good morning! I am thoroughly enjoying this three-day weekend. I've done exactly what I set out to do: slept in, drank coffee while wearing pjs, made a party decorations run, created invites/favor bags/itineraries. And I still have a full day left. Phenomenal.

Over Christmas break, I was able to get home to Maine for a couple weeks to spend some time with my family. Though I was super sick for 48 hours (seriously, who wasn't sick?? It's definitely been going around), I still got to get in plenty of baby snuggles. And of course, I had to take lots of pictures. Alexia, my niece, is changing so much. At five months, each day she is learning something new. 

One of my absolute favorite parts of spending time at home is the time I get to spend at my sister's house. Over there, each morning, I wake up and make my way from the guest room to my sister's bedroom, where she is usually already up. Still in my pajamas, I crawl into bed next to her and we sit for (sometimes) hours. Talking, playing with the baby, watching shows on the iPad. And through it all, I take pictures. I love being able to capture these little moments of my times with my sister and my niece. I know in a few years, these pictures will be such treasures as Alexia grows and changes. Looking at them now, just a few weeks later, I'm already nostalgic. And I'm just the aunt.

I miss that tiny little face.

I am so thankful for all the time I spend with this tiny girl and for my sister allowing me to constantly snap pictures.

I also want to share some excellent reads on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Weekend Reads: The baby snuggle withdrawal edition.

I'm missing this tiny little face. We snuggled so much while I was home for Christmas and now I am experiencing some serious baby hug withdrawals. Hopefully my sister will bring her out here soon for a visit. Right, Erin

I am so very much looking forward to this weekend. It's a three day weekend, after all. I have big plans, including but not limited to: sleeping in, drinking coffee while wearing pjs, helping a friend plan her sure to be epic birthday party, crafting and watching football with Adrian. Sigh. Sounds perfect, no?

Since I read lots during the week but rarely have time to put up the links, I thought I'd share them with you here on Fridays. And then maybe we can talk about them. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

So here are some reads from around the web that I thoroughly enjoyed this week:
  • Wordless News is amazing. The artist, Maria Fabrizio, creates an illustration each day from one of the day's news headlines.
  • I loved this post from Sarah Quezada on multi-cultural marriage. I think one of the most beautiful parts of a multicultural marriage is the understanding that there is not just one way to do something. There is a way Adrian is accustomed to and a way I am accustomed to. I love the nights when we talk about our cultures and decide for ourselves what works best for us. Being able to choose what we believe is the best of both cultures is a beautiful, beautiful thing. 
  • Any other middle children out there? This article about birth order was interesting but I'm not 100% convinced. One of the reasons that I am glad I moved out to Chicago was that it gave me a chance to break out of my "role." And while I'd love to be back in Maine and close to my family, it was such a wonderful chance to look at who I wanted to be and not how I was expected to be since age five. Small towns will do that to you, no?
  • These cityscapes from Watercolor Print are phenomenal. I would love a giant one for my living room.
  • Lastly, did you catch this mini piñata cake topper? It made for a festive little Sunday last week.
Enjoy your weekend, friends! If you need me, I'll be making lists, dreaming and drinking coffee in my pjs.

DIY: Mini Piñata Cake Topper

One of my resolutions for the year was more celebrating. And more projects. I absolutely love Valentine's Day and got the idea for this cake a couple days ago. Ideas come often but the follow through is not always there. So 2014 is the year of follow through. With that in mind, Adrian and I set to work on this mini piñata and cake even though Valentine's Day is still a few weeks out.

I'm not going to write a tutorial for this because I feel it's pretty self-explanatory and Country Living already has a great little tutorial right here. I followed more or less the same process but with lots more fringing. 

I love how festive this little cake is. It is so Oh Hello Love 2014, no? I sure hope so!

Yes, yes. This is so very Oh Hello Love, circa 2014.

Welcome to the new year, friends!

Catching up with friends and laid-back portraits.

Second week of the new year and I'm already killing it on my resolutions. I've been taking bunches and bunches of photos. Best part? I used some Christmas money to buy some new photoshop actions and I am absolutely loving editing my photos with them. So thanks, Santa!

These pictures I actually took before the new year but since I edited them after New Year's Day, I feel like they count, right? 

While home, I drove down to visit one of my good friends from college. Carolyn is one of those wonderful friends where we might not talk all the time but when we see each other, we pick up where we left off. I've loved catching up with her and seeing her son again and meeting her newest little, her baby girl. I spent the day at their house and just loved seeing Carolyn as a mom. I admire so much her calm demeanor and how she talks to her children in the same tone and manner as she talked to me. And her son has this far-reaching vocabulary because of it. She and her husband (whom I also love!) clearly adore their children and it was a joy to see them interact as a family.

I asked if she wouldn't mind if I just snapped a couple pictures as we hung out. We played and talked and watched movies about trains and construction vehicles and I took a few pictures along the way. 

This last one is in color and black and white because I just couldn't chose. Such a peaceful little face.

So, best of all? Her little guy calls me Em-ly. Two syllables. And I love it.

I think I've decided on a new New Year's resolution: Get all these photos I've been taking into an album. As my grandmother always laments after seeing pictures on Facebook, she wants real photos she can hold in her hands. I think I do, too.
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