Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the last few moments

Hi friends!  I'm just checking in once more before the end of the year.  We have had lots of visitors (and are expecting my brother tonight!), but enjoyed a quiet Christmas day at home.  One of my favorite parts of Christmas morning was that Arthur wanted to read each book he opened before opening any other presents.  It made the few gifts we had stretch out throughout the morning and I loved that he was interested in appreciating each one before dashing on to the next.  

This afternoon, I'm finishing up a few orders and enjoying the smell of the Cranberry Pot Roast I have going in the oven.  It's chilly outside and I'm wishing for snow.  I hope that you enjoy the last few moments of the year- meet you back here in January!

Friday, December 19, 2014

we celebrate

In the midst of all the Christmas hubbub, Arthur turned four this week.  We celebrated at his school, we celebrated at home with a few friends, we celebrated just the three of us.  

His favorite part, hands down, was the cake.  He helped make it, which I think may have been more exciting than actually eating it.  

This week, we also celebrate ten years since that night at the tree where Steve asked me to be his wife.  Every time I think of it, I'm just so glad he asked.  

The holidays are a tricky time of year.  Every joy seems greater, but so too does every sorrow.  Some of the disappointments of the year that I thought I had shaken have come back to hit me full force and I find myself grieving all over again.  We lost Steve's grandmother this week, one of our very favorite people.  We have alternated between remembering her with stories, and sitting in disbelief that there won't be any more.  The troubles of family and friends weigh on me and I wonder about why it seems that some people are given more than their fair share.  

And yet, we celebrate.  Life moves forward, and there are still so many things to find joy in.  

                       He did not wait
                       till hearts were pure.  In joy he came
                       to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
                       To a world like ours of anguished shame
                       he came, and his Light would not go out.

                                            -Madeleine L'Engle

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I asked the boys to put lights on the tree while I was in the shower...

...and this is what I came downstairs to.  So, the usual.  

The holiday decorations are going up rather slowly this year, but, other than the tree, most things are just "wintery" and can stay on into January.  This year's winter decorations include new curtains for the family room and six new throw pillows...all made by yours truly....during my busiest work month...and my busiest life month...I know.  You don't even have to say it.  If there were a support group for people who make extra work for themselves at the worst possible time, I would be leading it.  

Saturday, December 06, 2014

L. Perkin 2014 gift guide

Confession: I love gift guides.  No, like I love them.  I don't even know what it is.  Something about a grouping of lovely items and the information about how to buy them is just so much fun for me.  

After drooling over tons of gift guides this holiday season, I started craving some of my own.  What I really love are gift guides aimed at a particular type of person, but this one has a little bit for everyone on your list.  

Clockwise, from lower left:

Plaid Travel Blanket with Leather Strap: We have a blanket specifically for out-of-the-house events. It lives in the trunk of our car and I am always so thankful for it.  

Pocket Squares: Pick three and make it a gift set!

Bow Tie: Always a great gift- this brown and blue plaid is one of my winter favorites. 

Men's Scarf in Houndstooth: Because black and white look good on everyone!

Kid's Scarf in Hunter: Arthur loves his flannel scarf.  I think he feels very grown up when we're all putting on scarves to leave the house. 

Waxed Canvas Wallet: A new product I just designed- super simple and guaranteed to last. 

Wool Pencil Pouch: Will a bright mustard yellow zipper cheer the recipient every time they reach for this pouch?  Most likely. 

Striped Clutch: Leather, black and white stripes, and a shiny gold zipper- I want to give one to all my friends. 

Herringbone Tech Case: It's the perfect size for an iPad mini, or whatever else you like to tote around. 

I don't know about you, but it's gray and rainy here today.  We have the tree lights and Christmas music on and finishing up my Christmas shopping from home sounds like the perfect thing to do.  

Happy gifting!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

we're all alright

I feel like I should preface this post by saying that everyone here is fine.  I tend to get panicky when bloggers disappear for months without warning, so I certainly feel bad about doing it myself.  Life has been busy and sometimes difficult, but overall just regular life.  It takes up so much time, doesn't it? 

I'm also redefining what I consider a proper "blog post" and hope to post more frequently with shorter updates.  Like this one: eleven years ago today, Steve and I started dating.  

I read the Anne of Green Gables books late in life, after we had been married a year or so.  When I came upon this quote, I almost couldn't believe how much it described my feelings about falling in love with Steve.  

“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps . . . perhaps . . . love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.” 
― L.M. Montgomery

I'm feeling thankful today for a beautiful friendship that unfolded into love.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

thirty days hath September

I always end up feeling shorted on the months that only have thirty days- it seems like a bit of a scramble at the end to fit everything in.  (You can imagine the trouble I have in Februrary...)

This month was no different, however as I look back over our pictures, I feel pretty pleased with all we crammed in, unfinished lists aside.  

- We hosted a Labor Day impromptu neighborhood pool party with two inflatable pools.  And suddenly, what used to make us look like weirdos is totally cool.  

- We all survived Arthur's first week of preschool and baked cookies to celebrate.  

- We went to Virginia to visit my family, our best friends, and Arthur's three favorite lady friends.  It was cool and fall-like and just the way to kick off the season. 

- We set up the tripod and took a few family pictures after I happened to need one and realized that the only decent pictures of the three of us were taken over a year ago.  Arthur was actually wearing his flag shirt in our last family photo as well, which may cause a bit of speculation about his wardrobe selection.  I promise he has at least three other shirts.  

- I tried out Hello Fresh, a service that delivers meal ingredients with recipes to your door.  It was amazing.  I can't stop thinking about how great it was and plotting when I can use it next.  I took lots of pictures of the whole process and am planning a thorough write up on that soon.  

If you can believe it, we also traveled to Texas, hired a shop helper, and redid the laundry room.  Not bad for only thirty days.  

I'm already pumped for October and ready to see what we can accomplish with that extra day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I like to think that Steve and I have perfected the art of a flannel scarf photo shoot in late summer. We have our go-to spots for the best backgrounds.  The boys each have a vest that matches the majority of the scarves.  We set the camera so that I can literally snap multiple pictures per second. After all, every second counts when you're roasting your family members.

So lest you look at the following photos and think that they were taken over the period of several hours, I would like to go on record and say that I took about 400 pictures during this particular session and the length of time between the first and the last was exactly 15 minutes.  But it was a dramatic 15 minutes...

The obligatory wave to the neighbors.  It seems like every year, someone new moves in next door.  I'm sure we're not scaring them off or anything.

"If I could just loosen this thing Mom wrapped around my neck, I'm sure I'd feel better..."

The wet noodle

"I know!  I'll pretend to be asleep in Dad's scarf!"

"No, really, I'm sleeping, guys."

"Are you still taking pictures of me in this blue scarf?!"

"Maybe if we climb this tree, we can get away from her..."

Done smiling

The good news is that we got plenty of lovely pictures as well.  I'll probably do a quick rundown of the scarf options this year in the next week or so, but they are all posted in the shop right now, if you'd like to see them sooner!

Friday, September 05, 2014

success is 95% attitude

In what can only be called a back-to-school miracle, I am blogging twice this week.  I'm still not sure if you should get used to this or not.  

So this was Arthur's first day of preschool.  He is obviously projecting an enviable level of confidence, and I think it served him well.  He came home every day sweaty, covered in paint, and exhausted.  Not just regular exhausted either.  One day, I had to wake him from his nap because it was almost dinner time.  After I had opened the curtains and spoken to him several times, he rolled over, looked me dead in the eye, and said, "I did not call you yet."  Yesterday, just to make sure I understood, he told me that he was going to sleep until dinner time and then all night and then all the next day too.  Translation: don't you dare wake me.  

I know how he feels.  Somehow preschool is exhausting to me too, and I'm not even going.  I find myself completely done for the day by 8 pm, unable to even carry on a conversation.  This morning, when I reminded Arthur that there is no school today, he announced that he would like to stay in his pajamas at home, all day.  And I thought, "You read my mind, kid."  

While Arthur has been busy learning Spanish and painting, I have worked my outstanding order list down to a very manageable size.  I've also been posting the new flannel scarves in the shop, sorting through the hundreds of pictures from our photo shoot last weekend.  There are some really awesome ones, and also some absolutely hilarious ones.  I will be doing a blog post with some of the outtakes next week- they're just too funny not to share.  

We're looking forward to a very low-key weekend here.  A few errands, a few chores.  Hopefully lots of time at home.  I'm making Polenta Skillet Eggs with Chorizo for dinner tonight and I've stashed some surprise ice cream treats in the freezer.  Mainly, I just want to celebrate that we made it through the week and regain enough stamina to do it all over again.  Isn't that what weekends are for?  

Monday, September 01, 2014

brave enough

We're enjoying the long weekend here.  Arthur loves to ask before bed if Steve will get to stay home the next day, and we both love it when the answer is "yes".  I was explaining that Steve does not have to go back to work until Tuesday, when Arthur goes to school.  His first day of school, to be exact.

A: Where will you be when Baba is at work and I'm at school?

me: I'll be right here at our house.

A: You be lonely?

me: ....well...yes.

And all at once it hit me- motherhood is an exercise in loneliness.  From the moment I see my children's sweet faces on that screen, I will start being lonely for them and it will just get worse and worse as the years go on.

It's different with Steve, thankfully.  No matter how much I miss him while he's at work or wherever he is- he always comes back to me.  In the end, just like the beginning, it will be the two of us, together.

Not so with children.  They leave you and leave you a little more each year.  And that is as it should be, but it still is daunting to think about all that leaving.

I still haven't been a parent for very long- 16 months now- but I find myself constantly thinking, "I don't know if I'm brave enough to be a mother."  I think this when I picture dropping Arthur off at school for the first time, when I see him almost get squished under a falling piece of furniture, when I think about having to deal with loose teeth.  To be perfectly honest, a big part of me thought that the bravery was in the getting- the hoops to jump through and flights to catch and navigating a foreign country.  But that wasn't it at all.  The bravery must lie in the letting go, a little bit each day.

On Friday, we ran errands all morning before meeting Steve for lunch.  Arthur wore a sticker that he found in a recent fabric delivery that says "JACKPOT!  You got the end of the bolt."  He wore it with pride and a lot of people noticed it.  I found myself giggling at the irony and wanting to give him a JACKPOT! sticker to wear every day. We really hit it big with that kid.

Here's to all the moms (and dads) who need an extra bit of bravery this week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jill's Wedding

When I look through photos to compose a blog post these days, I usually find that there are tons of pictures of my (incredibly cute) child and almost none of anything I've made.  My work schedule these days includes sewing and cutting frantically during nap time and then packaging everything up after dark, so it's not like I have a lot of completed projects sitting around here.  

The good news is that there are other people out there taking pictures of my work!  I got a lovely email a few weeks ago from a bride that I'd worked with and she and her photographer, Gavin Wade, were kind enough to let me use the pictures.  

I have had numerous requests lately for a groom's tie that is different than the groomsmen ties, but this is the first time I've seen the final result and I love it!  The groomsmen ties are the ever-popular mint green pique and the groom is wearing a custom solid coral tie.  You can see even more pictures from Jill's wedding here on Gavin's blog.

Aside from making wedding dreams come true, I've also been busy with requests for graduation gifts and father's day gifts this month.  I still have a few new patterns to add to my summer tie collection, before turning my attention to the fall.  It won't be long now before Steve and Arthur will be out in the front yard, posing for scarf photos while it's 90 degrees (I think they're both secretly excited!).  

We're gearing up for the 4th of July and all the fun that entails.  Wearing red, white, and blue!  Putting the flag out on the front porch!  Cookouts with homemade barbecue sauce!  

I can hardly wait.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

summer thoughts, mostly on food

I have a special love for summer rain showers.  It's stormy outside right now and it feels like the perfect prelude to the weekend after a busy, busy week.  

The good news is, I'm caught up on orders.  The good news also is, we barely have any plans for the weekend, except for the plan to sneak away for some hours while Arthur enjoys my mom's company.  I'm feeling that kind of ease that comes with summer- playing outside until the last bit of daylight, making ice cream, reading magazines just because.  I'm claiming a summer break, even though I have a business and a toddler and there is no real break to either of those items in sight.  

Cooking in the summer is my favorite thing, even though I miss the soup.  But I love preparing our food early in the day while the kitchen is still cool and then serving meals just warm or at room temperature.  I don't feel like everything needs to be hot and somehow that takes a lot of pressure off.  

I've been craving meatless meals more often with the hot weather and have tried out some fantastic new recipes.  If this were 2012, I'd have lovely photos of each of them.  As it so happens, I have exactly zero photos of any of them, but I'm not going to let that stop me from sharing the recipes- 

        -Zucchini-Potato Casserole: really more of a tian than a casserole and absolutely delicious.  The thin slices of potato and vegetables melt together into something magic.  

       - White Bean and Artichoke Salad: Steve and I actually can't figure out what makes this salad so good.  We also can't figure out how to stop eating it.  I make several adjustments to the recipe: switch green pepper for yellow or orange, and skip the olives and mint.  

      - Grilled Mexican Street Corn: This recipe is from Shauna Niequist's book Bread and Wine, which was recommended by a dear friend.  I loved the book, have loved every recipe that I've tried out of it, and love that I think of my friend every time I flip it open.  It is like a novel with recipes- honestly, I can't think of a better literary genre.  I'd love to do a whole book review sometime... we'll see.  But the corn!  Sweet and savory and just what I want to be eating on a hot day.  

So that's what we've been eating.  We're growing herbs and cherry tomatoes on the patio and lots and lots of rosemary in the surrounding beds.  Arthur is slowly learning the patience of a gardener and we've actually had a handful of tomatoes make it to orangish-red before being picked.  

Happy weekend, friends.  I hope that you find yourself in a lounge chair with a cool drink!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

May is just an excuse to party

It should be noted that I still often find myself composing blog posts in my head.  It should also be noted that I am currently blogging in a bit of a panic, as I realized that I had only posted once in the whole glorious month of May and I couldn't really believe that about myself.  

Since we last chatted, we have been living it up over here.  We celebrated mother's day and my birthday on back to back weekends and I had such a good time that I almost felt guilty about it.  Almost.  Steve loves me so well and he is teaching Arthur to do the same.  Those two took me out for lovely meals and frozen yogurt and surprised me with a framed photo and M & M's.  Arthur signed his "A" in a card that said "Happy Birthday Mom" on the front and I was unprepared for how that would make me tear right up with joy.  

Steve and I also went on an amazing, five hour long date.  It was exactly as wonderful as that sounds and we're already plotting how we can do it again.  We sipped lattes (sipped, I tell you!) and dreamed about the future, did a little shopping, and ate lunch outside.  I've found myself, in the weeks since, trying to remember that feeling- of nowhere to be and the cool morning air and a warm drink shared with my sweetheart.  

We also took a family vacation to the beach to celebrate nine years of marriage.  We actually stayed at this very same beach condo last year for our anniversary as well, about three weeks after we returned home from Taiwan.  It was so much fun this year to compare everything to last year and see how far we've come as a family.  (Arthur speaks English now!  He's almost potty trained!  We sleep most of the night!)

Taking a few days off for vacation meant that I was unusually busy with shop work the week before we left. I have four new bow tie fabrics (including two florals, which I'm super stoked about) waiting to be sewn into samples, a project I'm hoping to complete in June.  I'm also playing around with a new tie shape- something a bit slimmer in nature.  I was inspired by the bow ties on the most recent season of Downton Abbey and have been wanting to offer something similar in the shop.  

If May was the month of celebrations, June is shaping up to be the month of visitors!  We always host a lot of visitors in the summer and I can't wait for everyone to start arriving.  The June issue of Country Living has about 20 homemade ice cream and gelato recipes and I'm looking for an excuse to try them all!

Monday, May 05, 2014

summer products

 Hello and Happy May!  If you've been hanging around this blog for a while, you might remember that this is my favorite month.  Interestingly enough, the fact that it is my favorite month is only in small part due to the cards and gifts I will receive for several important holidays and mainly a result of the perfect weather.  Well, the weather, and the fact that this is usually the point where I finally stop shocking myself on every light switch in the house.  

 I realized that I hadn't shared any product photos recently and we had a quick photo shoot yesterday, so I thought I'd keep you up to date on some shop news and happenings.  I've added four new "summer" ties to the shop and have plans for at least three more.  My spring and summer ties are fairly interchangeable, but the summer ones tend to be a bit lighter in weight and color.  I added a coral seersucker tie, after having about eight people ask me for one.  Coral is so hot right now!  For good reason too- it's nice and warm and cheerful, close to pink without being annoying.  You know how some pinks can be annoying?  Is that just me? 

Steve has been wearing a bow tie to work every Friday for the past month or so and I love it.  It's fun to see which ones he chooses and also to hear the conversations he has with his coworkers about them.  I always imagine that we either sound really interesting or really crazy- a wife that stays home with a three year old, making bow ties?!?  What a unique life!  

I've been busy with wedding orders and gift orders and just general orders this spring.  Once (if) I get caught up, there are lots of new products I want to try out to prepare for later this year.  One of the best things about my job is that there is always something new to look forward to.  

These new pocket squares were inspired by a recent article in GQ and no, I don't read GQ, but it almost seems like I should.  I'm on the hunt for a certain jacket for Steve that will photograph well with all these blues, as well as a few new shirts for tie photos.  It is funny to shop for clothes with product photos in mind, but we've actually gotten some great things that way.  

Inspired by Cinco do Mayo, I'm making Mexican food all week.  Today I made a black bean salad, onion slaw, and pickled red onions to go with our shrimp tacos.  Later this week- more taco fillings, enchiladas, taco salad.  I'm trying out a new method to see if dinner prep is easier when all of the meals have a common theme- I'll keep you posted!  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

family day

Yesterday marked one year since the biggest event in our married life: becoming parents.  Up to that point, the most life-changing thing I'd done was get married, and, while that certainly did change my life, I got to ease into it a bit.  Steve and I had met and known each other long before our wedding day and, I think I can speak for the both of us when I say that we tried our best to make the transition a smooth one.

April 2013

There's no real transition period with a child.  You don't have one until- one day- you do.  And you've certainly never met them before (usually).  So I can only speak from my own experience, but I'd say that it's not something you ease into.  Easing into life with a two year old sounds about as ridiculous as easing into the day while your house is on fire.  In both situations, you'd better jump out of bed and figure out a plan, because things are happening and they're happening fast.

April 2014

There have been so many things bumping around in my head these past few weeks about the year we've had and the ones ahead and if I were blogging more regularly, you'd probably have to suffer through at least three more rambling posts about it all.  But life is short and time is precious, so I've narrowed it down to this one thought- 

All of the best things in my life- I mean the very best things- have arrived seemingly late, yet right on time. The things I've had to wait the longest for are the very same things that I can't stop pinching myself over and I don't think that is any accident at all.  

We spent last weekend celebrating Arthur Chen in every way we could think of- sushi and fried rice for dinner, strawberry picking, playing in the pool, ice cream in the middle of the day, a surprise walk to the playground.  He ate like a ravenous tiger, splashed us every chance he got, and kept exclaiming, "Happy day for me!"

Happy day for us all.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

all I have needed

Hello friends!  I was looking back at some pictures from previous Easters (you can see some here) and thinking about how much I want to be sure to document this one.  It will be Arthur's first Easter with us and we just love sharing new things with him and starting (or continuing) family traditions.  We're resuming our Easter lunch tradition this year and have been in full planning mode this week to work out all the details.  

I've also been in full-on bow tie mode and tearing through my stacks of fabric.  I'm seriously partial to spring and summer ties because I love the bright colors and I love to picture these ties parading around fancy weddings and garden parties, looking cheerful.  I've also got a nice new collection of indigo pocket squares in the shop that I'm fairly smitten with.  

This spring has been a cold one, so far, but we've still managed a few picnics and plenty of sidewalk chalk masterpieces.  Last week there were five little boys decorating my driveway at the same time.  I absolutely loved it.  And we need more chalk.  

We've grilled out a few times, have a few things blooming in the yard, and have put away some of the wintry-est of the winter clothes.  We're easing into spring and I don't mind.  I've been thinking a lot about last spring, also cold, when I barely noticed the weather because we were so caught up preparing for Arthur's arrival. And by "preparing", I mainly mean staring at his picture at least 20 times a day.  Now I kiss his little cheeks at least 20 times a day and I like this spring much better.  

Easter is Steve's favorite holiday and we've had so much fun talking about childhood memories and the kind of memories we want to make for our child.  Easter is also the beginning of a season of celebration at our house that will last right on through the end of May.  I'm celebrating motherhood, another year of life, another year of being married to my favorite person, our first year as a family of three.  And it's not particularly Easter-y, but this old hymn has been in my head this week as I prepare for Easter and the weeks to come- 

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Happy Easter, friends!  I hope you find yourself this Easter with all that you need.  


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