Sunday, June 21, 2015

fathers day

This morning, Arthur and I snuck out early to get donuts for our very favorite person.  Arthur practiced saying "happy father's day" over and over, but then opened with "Happy Birthday!" when the big moment arrived.  He's been literally vibrating with excitement these past few days, just waiting to get the gift out from under the bed and start the celebration and I don't blame him.  There's no one I'd rather celebrate than Steve.

I've tried to think about what makes Steve such a fantastic father and it's hard to separate out those traits from the ones that just make him a fantastic person in general, but there are certainly some that lend themselves more towards fatherhood.  

Steve anticipates our needs before they arise and makes plans to ensure our comfort.

He tries to turn mundane tasks and unpleasant chores into fun adventures, and often succeeds.

Steve is always ready to ride scooters, play cars, build Lego creations, or wrestle on the floor.

He works hard at the office every single day and then comes home and gives his all here too.

Steve has endless patience and rarely raises his voice.  Often, my parenting strategy is just to try and copy him.

Ever since the first day we became a family of three, Arthur has been absolutely crazy about Steve. They even dress like twins sometimes, for fun.  And one of my dearest wishes for Arthur is that, even as he gets older, he would keep on trying to be just like dad.  

Happy Father's Day, darling.  We couldn't love anyone more.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

capsule update

I realized the other day that I'd never given an official update on my capsule wardrobe thoughts after making it through a whole season with one.  I've actually already started wearing my summer capsule now (it gets hot early here!) and feel like I may never look back.  I have never been happier with my clothing situation and I feel like that's a really big deal!

So my spring capsule was 40 pieces and there were actually several pieces I ended up barely wearing or not wearing at all.  We had a cool spring, for the south, so my sleeveless dresses and shorts did not get much use.  One shirt ended up with a hole in it about halfway through the season, but that was the only casualty.  I think I ended up wearing about 34 items pretty consistently, and it felt like enough.

The very best part though was never shopping!  I unsubscribed from all of the emails I used to get from clothing retailers.  I stopped browsing online.  And I didn't spend any money.

I knew I'd need to begin my summer capsule around the first of June, so I went shopping the last week in May.  I had planned to carry over about 70% of my spring capsule into summer, but had a small list of items I wanted to fill in the gaps.  Armed with my list, I spent two hours one morning at the mall and bought a bunch of pieces that had potential.  I brought them home, tried them out with each other and with my existing clothing (this took about an hour) and then filled in the gaps on my capsule list with my favorite, most versatile pieces (I stuck with 37 total for summer).  The next day, I returned everything else.  I actually really liked some of the pieces I returned, but I didn't need them, so they went back.  It was so easy to do when I had a list.

I used to think that a capsule wardrobe wouldn't work for every person, but now I'm not so sure.  I've realized so many things about myself and my buying habits since beginning this experiment and I love that it is an exercise in less waste and less spending.

Back in the spring, I put all of my cool weather clothes that I wanted to save in my cedar chest. Everything else that didn't make it into the capsule went in bags and was stored in the attic, in case I needed it.  We had a yard sale last weekend and I sold almost every item of that clothing.  The rest went to Goodwill.  I was a little shocked when we got it all out that I had been keeping all those items in my closet or that I ever thought I needed that many clothes!

It sounds totally counter-intuitive, but now that I own fewer clothes, I never feel like I have "nothing to wear".  One big thing that I noticed is that I had never thought of myself as having a "wardrobe" before- just items of clothing.  Being forced to think about my clothing- and shoes!- as a whole and how each piece might work together is a whole new mindset for me and just makes so much sense!  
The process of creating my initial capsule back in March took a bit of thought and planning, but my summer one came together fairly effortlessly.  I think it will keep getting easier with practice too!  So now I'm curious- have you ever tried or would you ever consider a capsule wardrobe?  I read a lot about them online, but don't know of anyone personally who has tried it.  Probably not for long though, as I'm trying to convert everyone!  I know I mentioned the blog Un-Fancy previously as a great place to start reading about capsules (if you want more details or a more fashion-y approach). Un-Fancy is on a bit of a hiatus right now, although you can still read through all the old posts, but I just stumbled across a podcast by the author this week that I also really enjoyed.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

we like to play cars together all night

Arthur came home from school last Thursday with his backpack full of surprises.  He ran up to his room, clutching several things to his chest.

"You didn't see me, Mom?"

"I didn't see a thing."

Two hours later, during rest time, he opened his door and yelled.  "Mom!  MOM!"

I met him on the stairs, his hands full of papers and bags.  He handed them all to me at the same time, told me his teacher had said you could give the surprise to your mom anytime, you don't have to wait until Sunday.  He just couldn't wait.  

Among the prizes were a picture of a bee, a tote bag with hand print flowers, and this letter.

You guys.  It's the best thing I've ever gotten.  And not just because he guessed my age a full 20 years younger and I am really good at jumping.

I love being a mom.  I love being Arthur's mom.

Last week, I rode my scooter next to his bike, up and down the street.  We do this every day from 4:00 to 5:00.  Sometimes we're racing, but sometimes we're just cruising and chatting.  On this particular day, we were discussing our summer plans and things we want to do on our upcoming vacation and I realized, quite suddenly, that Arthur is my friend.  I had assumed that being friends with your kids was something that happens once they are older, if you're lucky.  I never knew what great company a four year old could be, but Arthur is one of my favorite people to hang out with.  

Steve and Arthur made the whole weekend grand and I was sorry when it was over.  The good news is that in May, there's something to celebrate almost every weekend, so I'm already looking forward to the next one!  

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

action shots

Hello friends!  I'm stopping in real quick today to show off a few pictures of my ties in action.  One of my very favorite things is to see people wearing the things I've made and recently I've gotten a few lovely shots that I can't stop smiling at.  

I've outfitted this sweet family for several different photo shoots and am always rewarded with amazing pictures.  

I've also been mailing out a fair number of prom ties lately.  Rebecca and Aidan sent me this picture, post-prom, and I just love it.  

May is shaping up to be a very busy month around here.  As of today, I've taken orders for 18 pocket squares and 23 bow ties.  It's only the 6th.  Totally crazy in an "I'm so excited business is booming but when am I ever going to clean the bathrooms or make dinner" kind of way!  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Over the weekend, we celebrated two years as a family of three.  Two years.  It sounds super cliche, but it feels like both a lifetime and five minutes, simultaneously.

Steve and I had secret phone conferences and made lists and ran rest time errands and it was totally worth it.  We started the day with balloons and chocolate chip pancakes, ended with sushi and frozen yogurt and had new Matchbox car tracks, bike/scooter riding and feeding horses sandwiched in the middle.  The whole day was full of celebration.

It's the hardest won victories we celebrate the biggest.

You might think that time would fade the magic and awe that we feel surrounding Arthur's adoption.  It could become so much a part of our story that it seems like just another thing we did as part of our grand life adventure together.  

That's not the case though, at least not yet.  The past year has left me feeling even more amazed that Arthur is a part of our family.  Adding one to our numbers still seems akin to climbing Mount Everest or swimming the English Channel- such a big feat that I can hardly believe we pulled it off.  

But we did, and he's here, and I still feel so lucky.  And I'd like to go on the record and say that today (Arthur's actual family day) has been a bit challenging.  Steve is sick, Arthur threw a fit during dinner, and I got off the phone with poison control less than an hour ago after discovering that he had snacked on about half a tube of toothpaste during rest time.  There are Lego's all over the floor and I still need to finish the dishes from dinner and find something for show and tell that begins with "X" (really preschool?!?).  

And I though to myself a minute ago, "I'll take it."  Two years ago we picked up a little boy and signed on for all the toothpaste eating and stepping on Lego's and weird school projects and I'll take it all for the chance to be a part of this exact family.  Here's to another year of us.  

(But also here's hoping tomorrow is a little easier.) 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

for better or worse

We got to celebrate with one of our old friends as he got married last week.

Confession: I always cry at weddings.  To be accurate, I always cry at weddings since I've been married.  It's the vows, man.  They do me in every time.

This time around, I got to thinking that half of the standard wedding vows are a bit unnecessary.  I mean, it's not difficult to stick with someone in wealth and good times.  Don't you feel like you could do almost anything if you were constantly healthy and rich?

But on the flip side, it's much harder to think of someone you want to be with when things are going downhill.  It seems like, before you get married, you should think about things like- 

Who do you want by your side when you receive bad news?

Who do you want to hold hands with in bed when you're both nervous and jittery and can't sleep?

Who do you want to sit next to on an international flight as you head to pick up a child? (this one might not apply to everyone...)

Who do you want to bring you soup and magazines when you're sick?  More importantly, who do you want to wait on while they're sick?

Who could you imagine having fun with, even if you don't have any money? 

I don't know that I consciously thought about any of these scenarios pre-marriage.  I certainly had an idea that hardships with Steve would be better than hardships alone, but it is only now, looking back, that I start to realize how lucky I am.  

The other fantastic thing about the wedding was that one of my college roommates came to stay with us for the week leading up to it.  Shana is pretty much the definition of fun and it was a happy accident that she was here during Arthur's spring break- instant party!  We took walks, ran errands, played trash truck, and ate lots of snacks.  All these pictures were taken with her camera, however I'm not exactly sure who was doing the snapping on some of them.  But, you know- photo credit = not me.  

We've had house guests for most of the month of April so far, but it's back to just three of us now.  We're getting the house back in order and plotting and planning for summer, which is so close I can hardly believe it.  Hope things are sunny where you are!  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

boys bow ties: process and outtakes

 I have been trying for almost two years to perfect a design for a boys bow tie.  It all started when I found myself with a boy and realized how cute he'd look in a little tie.  The process was made exponentially more difficult by my severe dislike of most boys bow ties, that are actually a squished rectangle and not a real bow.  I wanted the real bow.  

After probably eight different versions, I am pleased to say that I think I'm done.  I have a boys bow tie pattern, in two different sizes, that I feel proud of.  It has a sturdy clip on the back that is easy to use.  Most of all, it doesn't look like a clown tie.  You know, kids in big, clown-looking bow ties?  I don't get it.  If my kid is wearing a bow tie, I want him to rock that thing, not look like he might be in costume.  

With Easter (a great excuse for a bow tie!) rapidly approaching, we took to the yard last week for some pictures.  

You have to admire his enthusiasm.

I mean, seriously, how do children's clothing companies get their catalogs done?  Anytime I need a picture of Arthur modeling something, I take about 400 photos and get one or two decent shots.  Are there really child models that smile nicely and don't do weird ninja poses?  And if so, how much do you think they charge?  No, really, how much? 

I call this one "Blue Steel".  

Arthur's favorite tie is the green one, but I'm making boys ties in all the same colors I have for men's ties.  Because what's better than matching father-son bow ties?  Not much, I think, not much.  

It's hard to believe that March is over, but I'm excited about the warmer weather that April will bring!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

spring capsule wardrobe

This spring, I am trying out a capsule wardrobe for the first time.  It's a new-ish idea to me and if it's new to you too, here are the basics:

-Choose a number of clothing items to wear for the season and stick with it.  Clothing items include pants, tops, dresses, shoes, and outerwear.  Clothing items do not include socks, pajamas, or yard work clothes.  For reference, my number is 40.

-Once you have completed your capsule for the season, do not shop for clothes again until roughly two weeks before the next season begins.  This part is extra exciting for me because I feel like I'm always "on the lookout" for one piece or another and now I can just not be.  In fact, there were a couple of pieces I was hoping to find for my spring capsule, but I did not find them before my self-imposed deadline (the first day of spring), so I'm going to do without them.  

-Make sure the items in your capsule are really versatile and also work well together.  This is key because I always end up with a shirt that I love, but that somehow doesn't go with any of my pants/shorts/skirts.  No more!  When building my capsule, if I was considering a shirt, I could easily check my list and see what bottom pieces I'd have to pair it with and then decide accordingly.

Now depending on what type of person you are, this probably either sounds awesome or like torture. To me, it's awesome.  I don't like to own a lot of things and I don't mind wearing the same type of clothing over and over, provided that I love it.  I also really like neutral colors for clothing, but sometimes try to force myself to buy bright colors because it seems like I should.  No more!  My capsule has at least 4 gray shirts!  (I really do have a few colored pieces in there too, the majority are just neutrals.)

It's so weird for me to write about clothing or fashion, because I don't consider myself at all fashionable.  In fact, sometimes I'll have to give an interview for some online magazine or blog about trends in men's fashion and although I do research trends in men's fashion, I still don't necessarily feel qualified to speak on their behalf.  You know, the trends.  

But, it has been really good for me to spend some time thinking about what I feel good wearing.  In fact, I noticed a few things that were totally surprising to me-

1. I love shirts that are not 100% cotton.  I always thought cotton shirts were my favorite, but then I got a couple of shirts made with viscose (semi-synthetic) and they are perfect!  The perfect drape!  Not too clingy!  Look great even after washing!

2. I love high waisted pants.  This makes me feel totally old and I don't even care anymore because I'm so darn comfortable in my own pants.  I realized I was old when I finally tried on a pair of high waisted jeans and thought "these aren't high at all!"  I can crawl around on the floor and play cars all day in these pants and they stay right where they should.  

Just so you know, I am not turning into a fashion blogger.  You will probably never see pictures on this blog of me wearing the outfits in my spring capsule.  But, it is something I've been thinking about and working on a great deal and I find minimalism very interesting, so I may report back towards the end of the season on how things went and if I plan to do it again.  I also really like to plan ahead, so it was fun for me to think about things like "how many dresses will I need over the next three months?"  and "can I wear these shoes when it's still chilly out in the mornings, but also when it's 80 degrees by noon?"  

If you enjoy things like fashion bloggers though, you should check out Caroline at Un-Fancy.  I love her style and it is a lot of fun to see the outfits she puts together with just a few pieces to work with.  

*The photos in this post are examples of some of the pieces in my spring capsule and were taken from the manufactures websites*

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

winter things

I'm checking winter things off my list and feel perfectly ready for spring to begin any day now.  We ate Valentine's day dinner by the fire.  We've salted the driveway, made a mini snowman, and warmed up with hot cocoa.

We've played Scrabble.  You know it's winter if we're playing Scrabble.

And then there's the clothing situation.  Arthur's pants are all getting to be too short and his winter shoes are barely hanging in there, but we're certainly not replacing any of that now.  

I don't like to rush through anything, but the last few weeks of a season always seem extra long. However, I'd like to share one of the true joys of my winter season, a little thing that has made a huge difference.  

It's these socks.  No, I'm not joking.  

It is so difficult for me to find socks that I like.  The top is too tight, the toe seam bothers me, perhaps they feel itchy or rough.  I truly dislike wearing socks.  

But I also have feet that are constantly cold, so, in the winter, I must wear the socks.  Now, it's a long story about how I came to own one pair of these Jonathan Adler socks at full price, but I loved them so much that I was wearing them as often as they were clean, about 3 times a week.  And then I found them on sale!  And bought 4 more pairs!  Every day, the perfect sock!  

I feel like this is weird, so I'm going to stop raving about socks now, but seriously.  You may want some.  

In other news, Arthur was wearing his hood last week and I thought he looked exactly like Casper the Friendly Ghost.  

Uncanny, right? 

Happy March, friends.  I'm sure spring is right around the corner.  

Sunday, March 01, 2015

it's a bag sale! *updated*

(Bags are sold out!!)

It seems like every winter we find ourselves cleaning out the closets.  I guess when you're stuck inside for months on end, you've got to come up with something.

This year, I'm feeling especially minimalist.  I'm working on my first ever capsule wardrobe (more on this soon!).  I'm sending bags and bags of toys and kitchen items to the attic for a spring garage sale. It has always been pretty easy for me to get rid of things.

Except when it comes to things I've made.  I think about the time and effort and cost and how excited I was when I finished the project.  I try to think of a good home for the item, someone who might love it as much as I do.  I get bogged down in all this thinking and then I just.... keep it.

But I've been making things for years now and I think I'm finally ready to part with some of them. Mainly, my stash of bags.

Many of these bags were for sale in my shop or a local store at one point, but no longer fit with my "menswear" aesthetic.  I choose the ones I hold dearest to keep, but am offering the rest at a super discounted price to anyone who might want to pick up a few gifts, or who just happens to need a new bag.  A few have been gently used, by me, and I've noted that in the description.  Unless noted, there is only one of each bag, so be sure to grab your favorites fast!

If you need me to ship your bag, it's a flat $5 charge that I can send you a separate invoice for.  If you purchase more than one item, I'll throw in shipping for free!  AND the first person to purchase a bag will also get a free gift thrown in.  Maybe some other people will get free gifts too!  I'm feeling generous!  Tell your friends!  The "add to cart" button is in the upper left hand corner of the sidebar. And here are the bags....

Vintage Text tote ($5):(SOLD OUT!) gray wool handles with 9" drop, unlined.  Great for the library, running errands, or a small diaper bag.  

Davidson NC tote ($3): 2 available, pink webbing handles with 9" drop, unlined.  You may not live in Davidson, but you can't beat the price for a sturdy tote! 

Davidson, NC tote ($3): 2 available, same as above, but with gray wool handles. 
Gray Wool and Leather bag ($8): SOLD! leather handles with 8" drop, lined with red flannel, gently used.  Use as a small purse or to keep your knitting supplies handy.  

Boat Tote ($12): lined with fusible fleece, gray wool handles with 4" drop, embroidered with a sailboat drawn by yours truly.  Pack your lunch in it or use it as you would a canvas bin to corral toys and such.  

Navy Pear Day Bag ($15): SOLD! large sling style bag in navy linen with a hot pink pear embroidered on the front. A day bag is just what it sounds like- big enough to carry everything you need for the day!  Also makes a great travel bag or diaper bag.   
Patchwork Purse ($12): fan shaped purse with short, braided handles.  Lined with blue and khaki stripe.  
Sparkle Zipper Pouch ($7): SOLD! 9" x 6" size, perfect for travel or to throw in your purse.  Perhaps your Patchwork Purse?  
Green Zipper Pouch ($6): green canvas outer with pink embroidered pear, lined with navy and pink polka dots, great for travel. 

Yellow Boat Day Bag ($8): SOLD! large sling style bag in yellow linen with a navy blue sailboat embroidered on the front.  Gently used.  One interior divider and a snap closure.


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