a special little doll.

my friend talia’s little boy, griffin turned 3 this weekend!

i made him a special little doll.

talia found the hippo fabric at new mom designs on etsy

little converse all-stars!

griffin after a his big day of celebrating turning 3!

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showering a little sister.

saturday couldn’t have been a more perfect day. it (finally!) rained on friday, so by the time saturday rolled around the sky was clear, the clouds were puffy, the breeze was soft and temperature was cool (meaning 80, rather than 100!) when leslie came up the stairs to see our mom’s porch decorated for her shower, she was all smiles! we had a small group join us to celebrate, but it was just perfect!

happily ever after, made by me

the decorations came from a variety of inspiration that started with leslie saying she liked the idea of having a garden party-themed shower. i knew right away there should be fresh flowers in jars (that has become my signature at all parties i plan!), tissue paper flowers, and white lanterns. i also used my collection of vintage sheets as table covers and found special straws! i originally planned this decor for an outdoor tent, but our mom’s front porch worked out even better- it was shaded, close to the food and drinks and we had music!

invitations + extras by rosie day design

playing love song bingo takes a lot of concentration!

we played 3 games (that i mostly made up). game 1 was love song bingo– i made a playlist of love songs to have in the background while everyone was eating & visiting. the bingo card had words commonly heard in love songs (love, breath, want, need…). winners received a scratch off ticket to determine whether they were truly a winner! game 2 was movie couple match-up. leslie loves love…and she especially loves romantic movies, so this game was perfect! game 3 was 20 questions– i asked bo (leslie’s fiance) to answer 20 questions about leslie. the guests had to guess whether he got the answer right or wrong, without knowing his answer. then i asked leslie to answer the questions and and i shared bo’s answers. it was really fun to see how well he knows my little sis (sometimes better than she knows herself!)

the food was all garden party finger food. lovely little appetizers for a bunch of lovely ladies- cheese puffs, cheesy rice balls,  mini pigs in a blanket, homemade pesto + french bread slices, spinach dip + pita chips, fresh veggie crudites, and so much more!! my favorite part was the make your own fruit salad. we had 9 different types of fruit and 3 dipping choices: homemade whipped cream, homemade whipped lemon cream cheese frosting, and strawberry greek yogurt! in addition to the fruit, i made mini lemon polenta cakes with the whipped lemon cream cheese frosting and a blueberry on top. for drinks i served some of leslie’s favorites: pink lemonade and sweet tea, plus my favorite white wine! (honeymoon wine from trader joes- go buy some!)

for favors, i asked leslie to choose her favorite love songs and i made a cd for each guest. i looked into buying pretty cd sleeves but wow, they are pricey! i decided to make them myself, and love the way they turned out! (the next day, at shower #2 with bo’s family, they played the cd on repeat and we passed out the leftover cd’s all the ladies!)

elliana decided she would also be marrying bo, and so she insisted on helping leslie open all the gifts!

overall the day was a complete success. that success was measured by the beautiful smile on leslie’s face all day long and all the hugs of gratitude i received from her! our guests were also very sweet and gracious!

**thank you to everyone who took part in this special day…even if you couldn’t be there in person!**

4th of july tradition.

this year we held our 4th annual (or is it only the 3rd annual?) 4th of july party in our backyard! anyway, 3rd year, 4th year…it’s just so fun!

lola chilaxin’ in the kiddie pool

griffin is a master dinosaur imitator. it’s impressive.

mike and lola had a deep, meaningful conversation about popsicles

(yes, mike is sporting his creeper mustache again this year, and yes, it is temporary! here he is last year at our county fair!)

poor baby max was tired and hot. (this is how old lola was when we started this tradition!)

new friends christina & kristof joined us this year. we like them.

apparently, the water table water is far better than dog bowl water.

so, whatcha got there lola? huh?

sally is a rave goddess. just look at that spin!

and regardless of the burn ban here, our trusty firefighters provided us with a stellar fire works show!

*****

check out little lola at our previous 3 years of 4th of july

2010

2011…check out the party pics here!

2012

too cool for school.

angela and i spent all of today picking, choosing, moving, and planning with lots & lots of old school furniture that otherwise would have been trashed! we are so excited to give these items a new home! we picked up school chairs, wooden chairs, bookcases, tables, and some odds & ends. it was a hot, hot day but so worth the sweat! i’ll be back soon to share with you what i’m doing with my new pieces!

days 19 & 20 + a lovely weekend.

this weekend felt all summery & wonderful. it was full of kiddos, friends, planting, sewing, baking, quality time & being outside.

{all my favorite things!}

life is SO good.

all these beauties were growing in our yard!

i was lucky enough to get these two all to myself on saturday! we had a fun trip to the farmers market

lola totally rocks this harmonica. she’s a natural!

i put this *free* compost tea to good use on all my plants!

i helped celebrate a friends marriage in a lovely little wooded nook

i enjoyed quality time with this guy…

…reading in our hammock, side by side (day 19)

also…

day 20. something i can’t live without

and the sun goes down on another great weekend…

did you take full advantage of the lovely weather this weekend?

bloomington handmade market 2012.

last year i attended the bloomington handmade market as a shopper, not a vendor. i went with my friend angela and she had to push me around in a wheelchair. it may have been my first trip out of the house after surgery #2, actually. i was so inspired.  being in a huge room full of artists and people appreciating their craft is my little heaven. i came home and wrote about some of the artists i saw there, hoping to one day meet and perhaps befriend some of these talented people. well, wouldn’t you know it, not only have i befriended several of the artists i saw that day, but i have worked side-by-side with them, been to markets with them, shared life with them, and now i will have my own booth AND i am an organizer of this market! i am so proud to be a part of bloomington handmade market- an event that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for lots and lots of heart, soul, dedication and hard work by 3 (+1) ladies: sally harless, mia beach and nicole wolfersberger (and #4, myself). this event celebrates local artists who create unique art, and offers the community the opportunity to access this art and the artists.

i really can’t believe it has only been a year since i stood in that room buzzing with activity and energy and hoped i would have even a little part in it eventually! little did i know it would be only a short time before i attended as a vendor, organizer, friend and fan!

if you are local (or local-sih, even!), i really hope to see you there on saturday april 7th!

check out our vendors page to see all the amazing artists you don’t want to miss!

woodland tea party.

today is pleasantly rainy, but a just a few weeks ago i was in the woods with 2 great kiddos & 1 amazing photographer. the air was cool and crisp, but the sun was warm and pushing its way through the bare trees to reach us on the forest floor. watching noah & zarrin play and climb and laugh while wearing masks & tails by opposite of far was a happy day for me! once they had their masks & tails on they didn’t want to take them off! (i swelled with pride and my cheeks hurt so good from smiling at those costumed kids all day!) they climbed huge rocks and fallen trees, played in the dirt, ran and got dirty- all the while michelle was photographing them with that beautiful light spilling all around us.

they really got into character too, pretending to be a skunk and fox- zarrin “spraying” noah then giggling uncontrollably, noah stalking slowly and quietly as if readying himself to pounce on his prey! it was all so magical!

michelle and i came together like two clouds softly colliding at just the right moment. we bumped right into each other but perfectly& comfortably so. it’s funny, actually. we have been “friends” on facebook for quite sometime. i knew of her, but i didn’t really know her. she had purchased a couple masks at homespun and maybe saw me at a show once. i have poured over her photos on facebook and at 2 pedals photography! we have mutual friends, so we were bound to meet “properly” one day. instead, though, i had a dream. this is what i wrote to michelle in a facebook message:

Michelle~

This might seem totally random (maybe even weird…) since I don’t actually KNOW you but….You were in my dream last night! You contacted me, told me your boys liked their masks so much that you wanted some more. But, you were thinking that maybe I could put together a whole box of dress up items: masks, tails, crown, capes …whatever I could & wanted to make. I was so into the idea and excitedly took on the challenge!
That’s it, that was the dream!
So, just a funny little dream, but it did inspire me to add tails to my shop. I made several custom tails for Halloween 2011, but haven’t added them “officially”, but since you (dream-you) showed interest, I think I will work on it now!

Have a great day, Michelle!
And thanks for the inspiring push!
~Jessica

it was a risk, certainly a strange way to introduce myself. i was taking a chance sharing a dream with a near stranger (about her!), but somehow i knew it was right. and because michelle is SO awesome, she didn’t even think i was creepy! in fact, when she responded, she mentioned collaborating. it started as her shooting my items “in action” for me….and turned into this beautiful and dreamy collaboration of artists! we both took off with ideas of themed photo shoots, picnics in the woods with props and costumes and we quickly settled on the woodland tea party theme. i am still amazed that the ease with which we work together. everything has come together quickly because we were equally excited and motivated- i really couldn’t ask for a sweeter collaboration!

and so, we are pairing michelle’s wonderful talent behind the camera with my masks and tails to offer super fun springtime mini-photo sessions in both bloomington and indianapolis! we’re working with the theme “woodland tea party” because it’s so dang cute and oh so photogenic! ( a huge thank you to candice of cordial kitten for making us the cutest damn promo EVER! …i am in love with it!)

from stranger to facebook friend and now to real friend and artistic collaborator- michelle, you are SO rad!  i feel so lucky and grateful every single day for all the wonderful people i have met, befriended, and collaborated with because of my little adventure called opposite of far!

to book your time slot for either bloomington (may 5th) or indianapolis (april 29th), go to this link quick!

also, check out michelle’s blog, all about her little guy, noah. HE SPARKLES

woodland creatures.

i have mentioned that i have some exciting things going on with opposite of far, but  haven’t shared any details yet. well, today you get a sneak peek of one of my very special collaborations! yesterday i spent the day in the woods with my friend, michelle spitz (of 2 pedals photography) along with her son noah sage and his little friend zarrin. the kiddos were dressed in masks & tails by opposite of far and boy, did we have fun!

the bigger project is still on it’s way, though. we will soon be offering very special woodland photo sessions in which your little kiddo can also wear (& keep!) a mask & tail of his/her choice! both michelle and i will be posting about these mini-sessions on our blogs/websites and facebook pages, so stay tuned!

we will be doing one mini session in bloomington and one in indianapolis! hop over to facebook pages to “like” our pages so you can get the latest info on the upcoming mini sessions! click here for opposite of far on facebook, and here for 2 pedals photography on facebook

**all photos above by michelle spitz of 2 pedals photography** (isn’t she amazing!)

winter.

as i sit on my couch this morning finishing up this post all my windows are open and the birds are chirping in the trees…

maybe you are enjoying the same mild winter morning.

and if you live in the midwest, specifically indiana, this might look strange to you this winter:

we have had a weird winter, to say the least. this display of ice happened 2 weeks ago and lasted only 1 day.

throughout january we went from over 60 degree days to freezing rain, then a thunderstorm (!), light snow, warm rains, cold again, and now warm for the last few days of the month- but most of the month was warm and mild.  usually we are buried under piles of snow and complaining of cabin fever by this time in the winter. instead i hear murmurings of “spring fever” and promises of “spring cleaning”…have we forgotten spring is still months away, technically? i am the first to take advantage of a beautiful day, at least to briefly sit outside and soak in some sunshine…but this is truly weird!  as much as i enjoy it, i can’t help but listen to that voice in my head screaming “this just isn’t right!

so i have questions, and maybe you do too. i often look around and wonder what this unseasonable weather means for us, our plants, animals, life cycles….our home. luckily i have someone i can turn to with all my questions and concerns: Allison is not only my best friend, she is also an environmental scientist. so i turned to her with some of my pressing questions.

*Allison is speaking for herself, friend to friend.*

J: We are all loving this warm winter weather, but we have seen other unusual weather patterns that are not as enjoyable. Why are we seeing these new patterns and what do they mean for our future weather patterns? 

A: Let me give you an often used analogy: suppose you have a favorite baseball player, who one day begins to take steroids. This baseball player used to hit home runs every so often. But now, all of a sudden, he’s hitting them out of the park several times a game. And they’re getting hit super far- way way past the bleacher seats. Now, it wouldn’t be weird to see this baseball player hitting a home run- he’s hit them before. But suddenly he’s hitting them much more frequently and much farther. This makes you say “hmmm… something isn’t right here. Something is giving him more energy”. What we’re doing to our atmosphere is kind of like pumping it full of steroids. A warm day in January, a hurricane, a heat wave– all these things have happened in the past and aren’t completely out of our realm of weather possibilities. But now, suddenly, they’re happening much more frequently, and with much more (scary!) intensity.

So, with a warming climate, you can expect to see much more frequent weather events, like heat waves, droughts, floods, and storms. And these events are much more likely to be more intense than what we consider to be “usual”. In fact, we’re already seeing it: in 2011 there was at least 14 extreme weather events in the US where the damage exceeded $1 billion dollars. This is a LOT more than we usually get, and definitely suggests that climate change had a big role in our unseasonable weather.

J: Are we going to see more unseasonable weather in other seasons? Will it snow in July or is the trend only in the direction of warming? 

A: Remember: Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get. Weather is very chaotic and changes all the time- that’s why its so hard for meteorologists to predict it! But climate is a long-term average of what we expect the weather to be.

This is actually a really great animation that helps to explain this concept, using a dog-walker and his dog. Check it out- its only a minute long video!

It is very hard for any climate scientist to point to one extreme weather event and say “Aha! That’s climate change!”. But climate change makes the frequency and intensity of these sorts of events much more probable. So it’s possible to see random weird cold days in summer and random weird warm days in winter. But climate change is looking at the long term trend, underlying all these small-time-scale weather events.

That said, as our climate gets warmer and warmer, the cold extreme weather events become less and less likely. We can see this in the decreasing number of record cold temperatures in the US. So there may be an unusually cold day here and there, but they will become more and more unusual as our climate warms.

J: How is this warm weather affecting our natural environment? I have heard bits and pieces about animals and plants being out of their natural cycles…can you tell me more about that and what it means for us, our plants and our animals? 

A:  Climate change has already had many different effects on our environment. One of the big effects is changing the timing of seasons. Snow may melt earlier, which can be bad for some cold-dependent crops (like apples) and plants. Birds may not migrate as far south. Scientists have found different flowers start blooming earlier (get ready all of you people allergic to ragweed!). Changes in the seasons can affect the geographical areas where animals (and the food they eat) live, making it hard for them to adapt.

A lot of these changes are really bad for farmers. Agriculture is heavily dependent on the climate. Check out this cool graphic by the USDA, who recently had to update all their plant hardiness maps.  This means, this spring when you look on the back of your seed packets, the color coded map that tells you what you can plant in your area will be different. It had to be updated to take climate change into consideration. Extreme weather events, like floods and droughts, are also really bad for farmers. In the Midwest, you can expect a lower frequency of rain… but when it does rain it will pour! These heavy precipitation events that occur after long periods of dryness are really hard on crops.

Don’t forget, it’ll be tough on us too. Besides for those suffering from ragweed allergies, we’re also seeing an increase in heat-related deaths across the country (though a decrease in cold-related deaths). A longer summer is also good news for disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks.

J: What can we do to prevent further damage while still feeling free to enjoy unseasonable weather? 

A: Everyone has to make that decision for themselves, so I’ll just give you my personal opinion on the matter. In my opinion, the best thing you can do to avoid climate change is to use your civic power to vote, talk to your representatives about your concerns, and pressure the government to take actions to mitigate greenhouse emissions. It also helps just to talk about it with your friends and family and neighbors. It’s not as divisive a topic as you’d expect– most people treasure the national parks they visited as a kid, or care about how the climate will affect our farmers, or feel that it is their religious duty to care for the Earth. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to find people who don’t want clean air to breathe or clean water to drink.

And this unseasonably warm weather in January makes it very easy to go out and enjoy our environment. It’s a great opportunity to take your kids out into nature and instill in them a deep respect for their surroundings and the amazing beauty of our environment. Perhaps the best things we can do is to encourage that kind of care and respect in our kids, and to encourage them to learn the science and math skills that will make them capable of tackling these problems in the future.

thank you Allison for answering some questions for me…

(for all of  us!)

do you still have unanswered questions? if so, please leave them in the comments below. i will be featuring allison on my blog more often, and your questions will be answered by her in time!

*here’s an article from today that might answer more questions! What’s Up With the Wacky Weather in the Washingtonian

i would also love to hear what you are doing/ interested in doing to enjoy this warm winter weather, how you teach the children in your life to respect the environment, and/or how you &  your family do you part to make change.

for now, let’s all enjoy the beauty of our environments and educate ourselves and our children so we can all be mindful, respectful and educated about our daily decisions!

organizing & inspiring.

i love lists. not only because it is insanely satisfying to cross things off those lists. not only because it is the most productive way to procrastinate. (which i am very good at, by the way) but also because it helps me stay on task. i need to stay organized in order to be productive. i have little notebooks full of sketches, ideas, tasks, stories, observations, memories and more! i keep every single notebook and occasionally go back through to re-visit my lists and drawings. and a new year calls for a new notebook to fill!

my new little notebook is perfect- it includes special pages for monthly calendars, checklists, notes, daily to-do’s, contacts and even blank pages for sketching! i have decided to use it as my blog and business notebook. so far i have been keeping a daily list of what to blog, writing ideas for later blog posts, sketching new mask & doll accessory ideas, keeping a business checklist, and so on. it also the perfect size to carry in my purse so i always have a place to put my ideas when i get inspired.

this pretty little book was a gift from the famous bff- allison (from anthropologie)

{also found here}

i also keep other notebooks- larger ones that keep other types of inspiration- decorating, outfit ideas, photography inspiration and ideas, pattern sketches, long-term planning, etc. luckily i was gifted a nice big notebook for christmas (thank you gretchen!) because i just recently used the last page of my previous book!

i was also given a really fun & creative blank book called 642 things to draw. it is full of prompts such as: a cranky old man, pie a la mode, toes… this book will be perfect for those days when i feel stumped. when i need to be inspired but also feel a little lost. i can pick it up, open to a random page and get creative! (thanks leslie & bo!)