Saturday, November 28, 2009

Learning to Love the Rain

Who ever heard of galoshes that couldn’t get wet? If I am not mistaken, golashes are rain boots; rain boots ARE golashes! They are made to get wet. But I have recently learned that this is just not the case when it comes to Hello Kitty rain boots. No, sorry, that little pink cat doesn’t like baths. She prefers to stay inside where it is dry and clean.
This is quite the dilemma for any mom (me) who purchased said boots at the beginning of a very long rainy season (October in Seattle) for a rather OCD three-year-old (Sophia).
But it’s not just the boots. Sophia really doesn’t like any of her shoes—or coats, or pants, or hats for that matter—to get wet. How on earth do I get a three-year-old to understand and accept the fact that she is going to get wet, she does have to walk between the house and the car regardless of whether it has rained, and she will be just fine?
We’ve tried dancing--that kind of works, but its tough when I’m in a hurry. You just can’t always dance to and from the car.
We’ve tried catching raindrops on our tongues. That does the job some times.
We’ve tried special shoes made just for rainy days. That was a flop.
My initial frustration is that I just want her to wear those stinkin’ boots—for which I now admit I paid too much money—and quit whining. But underneath my irritation from this constant struggle, I really just want her to be happy.
I want her to live through the rainy days, equipped with the right protective gear, and the right attitude. That’s what I’m trying to teach her. Really, the right attitude is much better protection than any kind of rain boot. With the right attitude, you don’t just live through the rainy days, you learn from them, and you learn to love them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Four Essential Shoes and How to Wear Them

(C#1 grew out of these shoes last year. I can't bring myself to get rid of them
because they are so very her.)

I am not a fashionista. Not even close. But I do appreciate how clothes can make me feel confident or pretty or just ready to start a new day (I have a hard time functioning well or taking myself seriously if stay in my pajamas too long). And I love how a good pair of shoes can transform an outfit or an attitude. And so, just for you, I did some fashion research and came up with four shoe styles that every woman should have in her closet along with a tip or two on how to wear them.

Mid-heeled Pumps

Heel height: 1 1/2" to 2 1/2"
These are the shoes you pull out when you want to look put-together but not fussy. They'll go almost anywhere with almost anything - from knee-length (or longer) skirts to jeans to tailored slacks. Style-wise, simplicity is in order; these are your "Girl Friday" shoes.

A modern heeled loafer would fit in nicely here. Personally, I love the versatility of a classic mary-jane, which can go from sweet (with a flouncy skirt) to daring (paired with fishnet tights).

High-heeled Evening Shoes
Heel height: 3" and up, and up, and up!
These are your my-oh-my, drop-what-you're-doing-and-look-at-me shoes. It's tempting to go trendy with these shoes, but remember it's all about commanding attention without having to scream. They are confident and powerful and sexy. These shoes are the ones that will go the few places your pumps can't. They are not sensible, and they will hurt your feet, so they're best saved for occasions that don't require hours and hours of standing.

Ankle straps are my favorite for this category. They're classic, yet they always seem unexpected. They're best served by a heel, too, since the strap at your ankle will appear to shorten your leg.

Weekend Flats
Flats will be your every-day shoes for running errands, running after kids, or simply running. In style they can range from ballet flats to tennis shoes. Almost anything goes as long as it's comfortable. (See that word "almost"? Please leave all house slippers at home and all Birkenstocks back in the 90's. For instance.)

Tennis shoes with jeans and a t-shirt have got a bad rap lately, but as long as your jeans are cute and your t-shirt fits nicely I think it's a perfectly acceptable way to show up at the grocery store or the park, and if you need to dress it up in a flash all you really have to change is your shoes.

Ballet flats are cute with skinny pants, capris, sundresses and knee-length skirts (but not longer; flats do nothing to elongate your leg, so keep that skirt right at your knee).

My favorite flats are a cute slip-on made by Merrell; I also love my Dansko clogs and have seen some cute, comfy, casual shoes by Keen.

Classic Boots
You will need some classic boots, oh yes you will. A pair of knee-high boots looks awesome with everything except your swimsuit - and maybe even then you might be the kind of person who could get away with it! A pair of classic riding-style boots, with or without a heel, are timeless and well worth buying the best quality you can afford. They'll be your friends for a long, long time.

Some general guidelines:
If you're wearing a skirt, higher hemlines generally look better with higher heels. This does not mean that lower hemlines necessarily look better with lower heels - in fact, if you're wearing a really long skirt, higher heels will help that skirt make your legs look longer without anybody even seeing your legs!

Black? Brown? Red? Before you choose what color(s) your shoes should be, take a look at your closet. Think about things you're most likely to wear the shoes with and what color you find most of in that group. Mix it up so you don't find yourself stuck only being able to wear black skirts because you don't own a pair of brown shoes.

How to walk in heels:
Firstly and maybe most important, make sure your shoes fit! If your shoes are too small you'll feel like you're going to fall over at any moment and your walk will look unnatural; if they're too big you will increase your chances of actually falling over at any moment. It's so much easier to walk in a shoe that fits your foot like, well, a glove.

Walk heel-to-toe for a more natural, graceful stride. If your whole foot comes down at once you'll only manage to look like you're stomping around. When you walk heel-to-toe, your back and shoulders will tend to straighten, making you look more confident even if you're not feeling it.

Practice, practice, practice. Even if you've been walking in heels since you grew out of your baby booties, practice with each new pair you buy.

Start out sockless. Socks and hose can make your feet feel slippery, which isn't at all what you want if you're feeling unstable in your heels already. Practice walking in them without socks or hose so you can feel how your feet will have to grip and move once you put those socks back on.

Have fun! Especially with your heels, because that's really what they're for.

What's your favorite pair of shoes?

Monday, November 23, 2009


Tennis shoes, one of my many style blunders. But I am proud of them. They have to be comfy and preferably slip on. I hate tying my shoes and if they have laces, I don't bother untying them. I just learned to walk in heals maybe 6 moths ago, when I got my first pair of real heals for my birthday. Yes, I am maturing into a woman. They are cute brown heals. Yes, I am 24 and have never wore real heals. I wore red slip-on tennis shoes to prom and white platform flip flops as well as pink and white super woman tennis shoes at my wedding. I actually prefer a nice pair of "house shoes" aka slippers over anything, but you can't really wear those out of the house, unless you are my little brother. Some how he gets away with it. So what gets me on this topic you ask? Well, I found this awesome tutorial that I am dying to try. So after rainy season is over here in Seattle, as well as the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I would like to try this. You can take my borring comfy tennis shoes and at least make them into something cute. If you try it let me know. It looks super cute. I am beginning to become addicted to mod podging fabric. I just used mod podge for the first time recently and it is awesome. So this looks fun. Here is the link!
Mod Podge Shoes.

Photo Credits-
PS My husband has more shoes then I do.

Baby Steps

[Image from Martha Stewart Crafts]

"by small and simple things are great things brought to pass."
Alma 37:6

Have you ever tried to imagine what it must have been like to take your very first step? Chubby and clumsy. Barely able to stand. Being cheered on by a parent and video taped for the whole world to see. How much faith that must have required and how scary that had to have been.

Sometimes I think about that and how brave I was even as a little baby. Suddenly having to confront a fear. This can be so terrifying. Doing what we are uncomfortable with can sometimes give us major anxiety but once we approach it with a determined look in our eye all we must do is step. Just breath and step. Breath PRAY and then step. Pretty soon those small and simple acts, that once scared the jeebies out of us, will bring about some pretty great things.

What are some of your fears?

Oh! And I found a cute blog that had some free tutorials on different baby shoes. If I didn't have a kabillion other things to work on for Christmas right now I would stop and make a few of these.


Black Shoe Biography

(not my cute legs or shoes)

Just how many pair of black shoes does a girl need? Looking through my closet, I take inventory to see if I can, in fact, count on two hands the contents of my black shoe collection. My shoe tree runneth over, and lesser-used-but-still-necessary varieties reside in the closet space of my dear husband. As of yet I’ve been unable to purge any members of the black shoe family because all are essential, depending on clothing ensemble, mood, life stage or level of sentimentality. Let me explain.

1. The ever-versatile black loafers (minus pennies). I bought these when I first moved to Washington before I was married, and they have traveled far and near. They go with casual skirts and pants, although they are very stretched out due to swollen pregnancy feet so they look a bit sloppy on non-pregnant feet. Soles are wearing thin, and the heels sound like tap shoes when I walk because of lack of heel tread. Should get rid of them, but their history is keeping them on the front row of the shoe tree.

2. Slip-on clogs with silver brad accents around the outside. An impulse purchase when I was 7 months pregnant with K1 and the aforementioned black loafers could no longer accommodate my puffy tree-trunk ankles and feet. They are a full 1½ sizes larger than I normally wear, but they’re a keeper for future heavy-laden, delicate condition when it gets too cumbersome to bend down and tie my shoes.

3. Sensible slightly raised heel loafer with silver buckle. These go with skirts or pants, or so I thought, until I caught a glimpse of myself in a department store mirror wearing them and felt particularly unstylish and matronly (not in a good mama way but in an old, tired way). Debating on future of sensible looking shoes.

4. Business casual heel shoes with white stitching and large square silver buckle. Good for work or church, but not too dressy. Another sensible shoe that’s comfortable and goes with everything.

5. Cute rounded-square-toe sling back shiny dress shoes. I bought these for the one and only time I’ve ever been a matron of honor. A friend of mine got married a few years back in Des Moines in a Lutheran church, and I bought a long navy blue formal dress to go with my cute sexy shoes. Good for dancing, standing while making a toast and making me look good when I had no idea what to do in a wedding.

6. Comfortable side-zipper flat casuals. Look best with casual pants – cords, jeans, etc. but with a skirt could come off looking like a specially designed orthopedic model. I’ve put a lot of miles on these babies, as they’re good for traveling…comfortable but don’t take up much room in the suitcase.

7. Calf-length chunky heel boots. I’ve had these forever, and I was so excited post-baby when I could fit them on my feet again. Look best with pants, and I like to wear them with pants that would normally be too long. The heel height of these boots make it so the pant hems graze the top of my foot, which apparently, according to the fashion authorities, is where you want it. Yay a fashion do!

8. Indoor-outdoor slippers. Can’t be categorized as a real shoe, per se, but they are cozy on my toes when it’s cold, the rubber sole allows me to wear them outside to the mailbox, and they have faux fur on the edges. Note: slippers are NOT OK to wear beyond the boundaries of the front driveway.

9. Fancy velvet special occasion strappies. Not worn for some time, but originally for dressy work parties. I could wear these with pajamas and I’d feel kinda snazzy.

10. Mary Jane Doc Martens. Purchased when Doc Martens were a big name in foot apparel in the mid-90’s. They combine the signature sturdy heaviness of the designer with the school-girl charm of a strap and buckle. I haven’t worn these in a long time, but they were the result of haggling with a vendor on Portobello Road in London. Two indications that you’ve blended with the locals – effortlessly navigating your way around “The Tube” public transit system, and successfully negotiating a deal with a street vendor. These shoes represent the completion of my initiation into London culture.

11. Strappy sandals and flip flops. Two distinct shoes that fall into the same category of “shoes that require a pedicure before wearing.”

12. Flats with blue stitching and a little bow on the side. Not flattering for someone like me with short legs, but they’re used enough to secure a spot on the back row of shoe tree.

13. Newest purchase wedge heel mary janes with light stitching. I love how comfortable and cute these are, and they just may be the phase-out shoe for number 1 loafer.

I don’t consider myself a shoe monger, but this evidence seems to speak otherwise. The phrase “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” I realize is a metaphor to teach empathy. Ever try to literally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? You feel every twist and turn of the heels, every bend in leather that you don’t feel in your own. My black shoes tell a story about me, mostly that I'm a sentimental sap. There are scuffs and scrapes, but nothing that a little shoe polish can’t repair. I’m showing scuffs and scrapes too from everyday life experiences. Sometimes I want to buff them out with a little polish and sometimes I want to wear them with pride to remind myself of where I’ve come from. So it turns out I can’t count my black shoes on two hands, and when I resorted to counting on my toes, you can bet they were covered up with a black shoe.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Learning to be Me

My mom once told me that she didn’t raise me, but that I raised her. Now as a mother myself I am learning what she meant, because that is what I spend my days doing: learning. And I love it.
There is a deep corner of my heart that will always beat for the studious life at a university. I was in love with my life on that huge, beautiful campus that was buzzing with people and ideas and knowledge. I miss it. A lot. But I have discovered a new corner of my heart that beats even stronger, as a student of experience and a student of children and a student of me.
I am learning how to refine myself. I am learning how to grow and change shape without changing value. My campus has grown to encompass more than just the buildings for books and lectures and tests, but it is in my home, my friends’ homes, the grocery store, the park, the city; it is at story time, at bath time, at dinner time, at play time, at bed time; as I take pictures, as I write, as I create memories, and as I love my family.
I recently asked myself what it is that changed in me. Because this is what life is all about—we are constantly learning from every-day experiences. So why is it so much more obvious and meaningful to me now? I think I just learned how to really pay attention. And as I have learned to really pay attention, I have discovered a few things about myself:
I always paint my nails pink in the summer time, and red in the winter.

I love being surrounded by books--always have, always will. Someday there will be a room in my house with floor-to-ceiling shelves that are filled with good books.

I love to make things beautiful.
My aspirations, while not all realized, are part of what make me real.
I worry too much about what other people think.
I like sleeping with socks on.
For me, watching the news is a necessary evil.
I am totally cool with being just like my mom. I know I can’t be JUST like her, but something close would be an honor and a great accomplishment.
I need chocolate on a regular basis.My husband needs it on a more frequent basis.

I am glad I married someone better than myself.
I love sitting by a fire; alone, or with friends, or with a book, and especially on a rainy night.
I find surprising fulfillment in the change of seasons. I treasure the little gifts each has to offer.
My greatest joys are found with my family, and my greatest fear is to lose them.
Sometimes I need silence just as much as I need good music.

I can feel the essence of divinity in creating things. (Is that what butterflies are, Jenni? A little flittery piece of heaven?)

I have the best friends any girl could ask for.
I like my name. Cortney. No 'u' necessary.

I love Gorgonzola cheese.
There are a lot of things that “drive me nuts!” but there are more things that make me happy.
And I am happy. I am truly happy just learning to be me.


You know that feeling you get when the best thing in the whole world seems to happen right then in that very moment. Maybe it is a first kiss or a ride on the greatest roller coaster out there. Maybe it's the anxiousness you feel before handing over a really thoughtful gift or getting to see somebody you haven't seen in a really long time step off an airplane.

You know...your eyes get wider and your heart beats a little bit faster. Your ears might get burning hot and your feet might have a hard time being still. That is how I feel every time I think about creating something pretty or finding something new. My days and my tummy are filled with butterflies!

I am Jenni. I am in love with newness. I am more in love with making old things new. I adore my kids and my cute husband. I think everybody who wants to, can and should make something beautiful. I also believe that a butterfly moment should be created everyday. Some of my favorites:

. the smell of new fabric
. jumping on the bed
. singing as loud as I can to a favorite song
. cooking something new
. making a card for a special person
. making up really exciting bedtime stories for my Payton
. ribbon (you will come to see this obsession later)
. super, good, sweaty workouts
. a really good idea
. twirling with my Sadie
. quilting
. playing in a symphony
. playing by myself
. teaching
. holding my Marky's hand
. singing with my sisters
. making new memories
. watching a room in my house come to life
. sharing what I believe
. becoming a teenager again
. being with my soul mates
. trying something new
. catching the light in another person's eyes

just to name a few.

I literally crave the feeling every day and I'll do whatever I can to keep it. I think that I create because it keeps me happy and makes me who I am. I think that finding out what gives you butterflies is thrilling and totally exhilarating. Days are meant to be completely new...that is what is so perfect about life. I'm excited and all butterflied just thinking about what is about to happen. I'm Ready!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just the Facts

Hi. I’m Rachel.
I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, great-aunt (!), and friend.
I am a doula.
I left my heart in the city when we moved to our small town, but I’m growing to love it here.
I have two small children, two large cats, four backyard chickens, and just the best husband.
I love to cook, but I hate the monotony of making dinner. every. day.
I am a Scorpio, but I don’t really act like one.
When it comes to creative spaces, I do love a fabulous mess. Sometimes our entire house becomes a creative space.

I recently read: “Each person who ever was or is or will be has a song. It isn’t a song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, it has its own words. Very few people get to sing their own song. Most of us fear that we cannot do it justice with our voices, or that our words are too foolish or too honest, or too odd. So people live their songs instead.” * I love this.

I am a quilter, a crafter, a novice gardener, and a sometimes writer, scrapbooker and amateur photographer. I don’t love to knit.

I am a fan of Indian food, dahlias, independent radio, social justice, and my mom.
I sometimes like to play with my kids’ toys after they’re asleep.
I wish I knew how to dance.
I believe in little things.
I worry too much.

I love words like grace, and balance, and pinafore, and nonsense, and welcome. Best of all, welcome. To our humble blog, welcome.

I hope you will feel at home.

(*Neil Gaiman, in his novel Anansi Boys)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Season of Now


Winter. Spring. Summer. Autumn. Seasons that dictate everything from what we do with our day to how we feel to what we feed ourselves, and for different reasons, I love them all. Have you ever noticed that just when you begin to tire of the current season, the next one is waiting in the wings to enter stage left? Weary of trimming, weeding and maintaining our humble landscape towards the end of August, come March I cannot wait to dig my fingers in the dirt but must wait until the rain lets up and the winds die down. Or when I struggle to yet again reinvent another soup for dinner, it’s time to plant spring lettuce and get ready for grilling. And so nature imitates life, and vise versa.

Although the wind is howling outside my window as I write, the rain is coming down in sheets, and the last of the few yellow leaves are clinging desperately to their part-time residence on the maple trees out front, I’m in the springtime of my life. Constantly discovering who I am, I catch occasional glimpses of someone who’s doing it right, whatever “right” means.

Someone once told me, “The way you feel about yourself can change dramatically when you understand who you are and who you can be.” I have an urgent desire to create…create a comfortable home where my young family can flourish and grow, create memories and traditions that we’ll fondly recall and one day find ourselves saying “remember when…”, and create beauty in any form.

I sew, I cook, I quilt, I craft, I write, I garden, I read. I also fret, joke, cry, sing, organize, laugh (although regretfully not enough at myself), wonder, obsess, and daydream. I’m happy, tired and vibrant in my quest for inspiration. Stretched physically and emotionally, at the same time I am fiercely protective of my family, much akin to a mother robin standing guard over her young and proudly standing beside her mate. I’m where I’m supposed to be, the season of now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who am I?

I am Cali.
I am a mother to two gorgeous kids. (Yes, I know every parent thinks there children are the cutest. Mine are to me. You can think differently)
I am the wife to one awesome man. He treats me wonderfully.
I am a friend to some of the best women alive.

And where does that leave me in relation to this blog. I am not sure. I was asked to be a part of this blog and was quite honored. I was not blessed with the talent of writing, so I thought it was funny. My friends had read my personal blog. They had seen all my e-mails. I am grateful every day for spell check, but it would be nice if there was a program that would proofread for me. I know Microsoft Word has a feature that corrects grammar, but for me that is not enough. So as I write, please forgive me, overlook my errors, and feel free to tease if you would like. It is who I am. It has always been a part of me. It was not until my Junior year in High school that I was in a "normal" English class. (That was only because they stopped offering the fundamentals of English class after Sophomore year.) So I have some of my own writing "rules," or lack of rules. It is who I am. A part of me. I am working on it. This blog will be good for that. But for now I am a work in progress. That is all that life is though, a work in progress. We are constantly striving to be better. Constantly striving to find things that will help us become better wife's, mothers, citizens, neighbors, leaders, etc. So I guess that is who I am. I know more of myself will come out through this blog, but for now, this is me. A quirky writer, mother, wife, and friend.

PS My tag is up in the picture. I know. That is me too. Every day without fail growing up, I would have my tag up in the back of my shirt. Thank goodness for tagless tees. My family were pros at watching out for me and putting my tag down growing up. It is one of my other many quirks.

PSS I am working at finding a picture of me. Only me. It should be up here soon.