Monday, March 30, 2009


Just a small check-in from my corner of the Internet. I've been taking this "vacation" from the online venue/ my Etsy shop this week as I instituted a schedule around my not-leaving-home-to-go-to-work time. This change has been good, although slow, like the recovery in our small corner of Portland from the various illnesses in our home. Let's hope by next week everyone is feeling ship shape!

The afternoon of closing down ouou.etsy for this break I was cleaning my room and - woo! - found the Gocco screens I had misplaced in the various moves that got us here. Oh, what a relief, for both my sister and myself, as we worked a great deal with the Gocco last year and were eager to return. I have been cranking out a pretty satisfactory number of drawings, paintings and brainstorms. Sales don't run an Etsy shop~ imagination does, and I sorely needed an immersion back into my own before even thinking about making new Gocco prints.

Otherwise I am playing with some drawings for spring and paintings encouraged by a friend. The paintings will probably end up on Flickr, as well as some other stuff I'm working on, without being involved in the shop. Spring designs, however, are still in the works, and I'll get ready to reopen when I feel more confident about switching out the winter/ snow/ steam of the collection I've had so far. Remember, this time last year I was packing up to move- I spent the spring and summer seasons closed! Not this time around. :)

So we'll hope the week brings days closer to robust health for my kin, and an announcement about the shop.

Walks around the neighborhood are unfolding more and more scrumptious beauty, and the boys week by week seem to be passing through stages like shifts in weather. MNJ has begin testing his tongue and making strange little baby conversation noises, much to the repeated surprise and delight of us all. SL continues to build his muscles and act the gymnast. He figured out how to jump and in that moment redefined the meaning of supreme happiness for his baby self. While the flu and subsequent colds hold sway over the house, sleep (and everything else, really) just is what it is.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not Enough Spring?

So this week I got the flu.
Yup, even with the luxury of spending a day and a half in bed it was pretty miserable. I'm feeling better, but think maybe this is a good time to put my shop on Vacation and regroup a little. I could use taking a week to work on some Spring themed projects and gear up my energy a little bit. Thanks for all the encouraging comments lately, by the way. March has had many struggles but I feel springtime will work its magic one way or another and help us all to feel refreshed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Schedule (pt. 1)

This week is one of those classic examples of life as the adults strive to establish a routine around the individual needs in the house, and then baby-lightening flashes and those needs change. MNJ was going to the head of his class on sleep training. While SL was still waking up every 20-40 minutes, MNJ began snoozing for long stretches at night, began being able to fall asleep without our arsenal of tricks and prompts, even having naps that lasted over 30 minutes during the day! Considering the nights before sleep training were an absolute frenzy, C has been using gentle sleep training methods with M for his night sleep, afterward switching the focus over to S. Then, about three days ago, both C and I heard the telltale "mmm" and buried our heads in our hands.

Now, MNJ has been giving off little hints in the last month or more that he might be teething. Pulling his ear, drooling like a madman, chewing on just about anything in sight. C kept saying, "nope, not yet" and I have to look back and say she was right. He was in pre-teething tryouts.

Let me interrupt myself a little bit (you know whats coming, anyway) and say that in our outside lives, there has been some very helpful change. Through the council of a friend, C and I are putting our heads together to create a schedule for our days. We have been reminded (through words, and now through MNJ's direct experience) that this first year is all about the basics. It is interesting to me that, while the boys are in their Year of Basics, C and I are in this place of survival too.

Sleep, food, physical health, all of these things are on the table every day for these babies. For the adults in the house these things have to be constantly checked and revised, too. It feels, at times, once we try and do anything beyond these essential factors, that with any shift in circumstance for the boys we are right back to square 1. This may be the emotional reaction to the changes, I'm starting to realize, and not always the reality of the situation. The reality is, every time there is one of these shifts we have found, somehow, a tool or some tools to process and more forward. Every time we have learned something and imposed steps in order to get through it. There still may be 4 months left to the Year of Basics, but at least there is some reassurance that when we call, although it takes time every time... there is an answer.

It is this faith and reliance on the unexpected I wish (and hope) I could bring to my Etsy shop. I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about process, completion, and inspiration. Yesterday I went from being intellectual about it to just plain "PHOOEY!". Hopefully this time of frustration and change is just the same energy in a different mode. I'm learning SOMETHING over here, or some tool is about to arrive on my doorstep, I'm just still in the emotional place BEFORE that has happened. Hmm. I sound a little, "everything I know I learned from my baby nephews", but maybe that's the point.

Anyway, so now MNJ is back to restless nights. Waiting for teeth really does change the nature of the game, as well as its intensity. SL has afternoons when he continues to "mmm mmm" after a pause when the teeth came in. In the face of this, C and I will still forge ahead and try to construct a schedule that gives me blocks of time to job hunt and do Etsy work, give C time to recoup sleep and get her business going. Just getting a schedule is going to be a big step for the members of the house. Beyond that, sleep and teeth are now neck and neck for the priorities of these little babies.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring time and sleep training

Yesterday my sister, nephews, and I packed up early in the morning for opening day of the PSU Portland Farmer's Market. There are other smaller farmer's markets throughout Portland neighborhoods that open later as the summer progresses (right down the street!), but with the first day of spring the big downtown market unfolds its tent and the best time of year has officially begun.

If somehow I've managed to skirt the issue, we had been a house of troubled sleep for... ugh... two weeks? More? There is a lot of background here in the developmental changes both boys have been going through, but when you hit a wall ~ ~ ~ you hit a wall. So this past week the house has been in a new cycle of uncharted territory, that of sleep training. And honey, let me tell you, exhausted takes on whole new meaning with a baby that is up every 45 minutes.

Anyway, it was perfect timing for the sights and sounds of Portland's Saturday destination. Some fresh air was in order, and we knew to expect a bustling hubbub of excited Portlanders. There were musicians and farmers and kids, kids, kids. City dwellers and those that live outside downtown like us. We decided against a stroller and for baby carriers, miraculously clever considering the narrow pathways between vendors.

This week was mostly potatoes, onions, parsnips (damn, we just bought those), and the flowers/ baked goods you come to expect. We had a great afternoon, the boys were having such a good time batting their eyes at everyone, and since it is raining a lot this morning I can also add a dose of gratitude for some nice weather.

In the afternoon there was a lot of activity in the house, and we went out again for a scrumptious dinner with our neighbors at night. All of this has lead to a sort of "two steps back" aspect to today, but at least we know that we over did it. :)

As for the sleep training, this was not really effected by the day's adventures. The boys had their first really exceptional night. As for the adults of the house? Every few days we have to re-group and see what the next few days holds. Our planned meals are beyond their planned week, and today we have not been keeping track of awake, asleep, bottle... the things we usually map out throughout the day. So, you can see we are tired and veering from the methods we use to keep ourselves going. Next farmer's market we attend will have to be the beginning of a truly mellow day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

where I am

This time last year we were gearing up toward our road trip and the move out to Portland from the east coast. I remember I had just finished The Eater's Manifesto and was so encouraged and inspired about my own evolving sense of nutrition. Having a new found feeling of wellness within myself was an incredible gift. With spring abounding through suburban Pennsylvania (a feast for the senses, gorgeous PA in the spring months!) I was spending a lot of time outside, but also using those exciting energies to delve into the first year of having an Etsy shop.

The most obvious space between this time and that is C was pregnant at the time. Unbelievable looking back to the time before either one of us met these baby boys who have entered our lives and changed everything. A year later, the move complete, it is time again for C and I to map out our hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. I find myself so often amazed by (at least) my own journey in the last year, and (more so) the incredible luck of being welcomed in to be a part of my sister's family as it finds its footing, that I can get swept away in looking back. Now is the time to set sights on the next year of horizons.

The next most clear circumstance that has changed this past year is the economy, and believe me- I've listened to enough NPR since losing my job to not want to repeat what everybody else is editorializing about that. But it *is* happening, so let me be frank: there is an aspect of struggle between myself and my Etsy shop this year that I would like to believe was not around last year. I have not really talked much about this because, honestly, my sales slowed to a painful crawl last year too. Hmmm. I'm doing my best to keep my chin up, but without profits to invest in making new items, I have become discouraged.

All of these things lead me to what I want to talk about in this post- my blog itself. I am living in this city of remarkable arts, artists, community, and (yes!) incredible food. I was able to pick up and GO right at the perfect moment when my sister needed, well, some sisterhood (we both did) and we hatched this plan to end up here. These boys, these remarkable little people, are the sparkle to every single day since their arrival and (I say this with a patient smile) a reality check at the same time. Wow, this work is unlike anything I've been through before; some things I want to gush and pour all over these cyber-pages, some things just so close and so heartfelt that I respectfully defer to my sister to speak about the journey.

I'm having to re-prioritize and re-organize all the aspects of my life, and I'm just not happy anymore with the typical Etsy blog for my own uses. For my own part, I'm thirsting for blogs about fellow artists/ craftists on the road of parenting (or, in my case more like guardianship) and the realities of creativity vs. childcare.

I would love for everyone to think this is some sort of blissful unfurling of instinct and inspiration and you know? sometimes it is, and those times truly are remarkable. But I guess I'm just more keen on the non-fiction renditions these days, the grit and the sweat behind it. If the twin books we are reading have strategies for just getting to the point when you can do the laundry- I think the world could use a little more writing about keeping the creativity going through the baby juggle. I'm giving myself permission to start to investigate all of these subjects as process- things like keeping the shop open through my own quest for full time emplyment *while at the same time* trying to get my art career off the ground, things like getting the work done with two infants in the house, and yes- the art process itself.

So, in conclusion, I hope this will encourage me to blog more often, to find some interesting subjects to review, and get my readers engaged a little more too! I could give you status updates about my economic tensions- but who will really find that exciting news? Or I could just post when I finish drawings... but let's face it, thats why I stopped posting! Here I think a more straighforward approach is warrented, and a record of this very sweet but also challenging chapter of my life without a doubt will bring my spirits up to the level they need to be in order to get the work done.

Thank you for coming along for the ride.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


With regrets, I'm having some trouble with my computer these days. Not only has my internet connection failed, but my system for editing photos is all wonky. That's pretty much my business right there. (sad face) So, I'm taking the time to finish some unfinished paintings, and to work on the *rest* of my business- that of making stuff. More hopefully sooner, rather than later, and thanks for your patience!

Friday, March 13, 2009


I almost entitled this post "Folks are Nice", because over the last 4 days or so since my last post about ending up in Treasuries/ on blogs I've been the lucky recipient of a slew of conversations about being in more Treasuries/ on blogs! Thanks, friends! Really someday I hope to have the timing and patience it takes to put a Treasury together, but for now I'm extending my gratitude with some further mention of these shop keeps and their collections (with a little update news at the end).

First of all, Kathi over at kathiroussel (the beautiful jewelry shop we talked about last week) is the curator of another fine Treasury shown below. She also runs another shop! 5gardinias is a vintage shop where she collects and displays her cool vintage finds. Kathi certainly has an aesthetic eye~ it is so interesting to see sellers who create work and also collect vintage... the shops are always so different. I really love that she includes links to her Treasuries in the shop introduction, what a great idea.

It is also fun to have a bunch of Treasuries pop up at once because I'm often surprised by the surroundings in which my drawings find themselves. I'm not sure who in my shop was chosen as a runner up to muppetloon's soft pale Treasury (above). Anyway, it was such a beautiful collection I ended up putting hearts on many of the shops in there! Below is a Treasury by decora called In the Garden of Good and Evil (making this old bookseller smile). I was tickled to see the Robots there- of all things!

Products from ouou have also shown up in a couple of blogs this week, too. Hug from my new line of 4 bar sets ended up in a very sweet collection over at kiirey, in a lovely little post about hugging. (hugs are the best!) Nigel found himself drinking tea among the abounding colors over at colorfuldayz, the first of the new aceo series to show up somewhere else! I was pretty excited about that :)

Speaking of exciting- the last Treasury I want to mention (check it out while its still up!~ and yes, I've fixed the html so you can just pop into these links) is over in Treasury West. Oh, it has been a while since I've shown up in the shifting world of the West, so I was particularly thrilled to visit once again. This Spring collection was put together by indiecreations here in Portland, Oregon. There is Black Umbrellas among the birds and blooms <3>

Wow! That was a whole bunch of links~ I hope you've enjoyed them and found some great new arts to discover. Last little bit at the end here is just a fun update I enjoyed working on. All of the images in my shop are hand-drawn and then scanned, but really when I go to print up a card series I don't add or alter into the drawing on my computer. Because I'm not photoshopping the images, I've always considered them the closest thing to hand-drawn cards. However, I wanted to distinguish the actual original art that I've started to feature in my shop. So the other day I finally found a use for Nancy Says, adding her as my 5th image in the aceo/ original art listings!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Tea, More Rock

Oh, I have so much to write! But, sadly, not much time... so I'll first catch you up on the latest additions. This morning Nora and her teacup sauntered into the shop- another in the original art series of aceo. Also in the new printed cards category- You Rock! It may not be tea related, but I just can't fight the rock. :) More later tonight- have a great day everybody!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tea and Reality

Right now the story goes "busy busy busy". In this mindset of "busy busy busy" the best/ worst thing is that the mind is always thinking "more more more". What else can I get done today? What else should I be doing? How many things can I cross off as done? Yes, last year I started this little bloggy as a record of what it's like to open an Etsy shop- now I'm recording what that's like with twin (need I say "teething" one more time?) babies in the house.

There is definitely an ebb and flow of energies. There are days that are so intense and up-close that, at their end, it is hard to recollect what happened just the day before. We just had three of those. When the boys are exhausted and frustrated, no matter what state we are in we feel anxious and urgent on their behalf. This empathy is something I never really thought of about being around children so much. And, although it is a wonderfully rich experience that colors our days as unimaginatively different than before, at countless times throughout the day you have to center yourself. Last time we saw a week like this it was followed by two beautiful pearly white teeth we are still peeking at every chance we can get... but friends, that was just last week.

And so it is that when my brain has a couple days in "busy" mode, there is such an incredibly fine line between that and "scattered". I find that if I do not finish things within 2 days of establishing that something must get done, it could very well get lost in the fog. Days are often broken down into 10 minute increments, a constantly rotating kaleidoscope of priorities and effort. I feel as though I've almost figured out the magic formula to make all of this work (she says, plates spinning)... almost.

No wonder the latest art is broken down into the simplest elements. Working on these tiny canvases seems almost essential to my nightly routines now; the house quiets down, I've cleaned my room and my Etsy work space, with the smallest pen I've got I sit and put myself into this tiny world. (And in it there is tea.)

This series has quickly turned out to be more detailed than the hand-drawn Valentines I posted last month. More little flourishes, more nooks of watercolor. I have an assortment of projects going on at night after the house is asleep, about 1/2 is for Etsy, but these little spots are a very particular practice. It is as though as the day melts away, the stresses and moodiness and trillionth plan hatched and misplaced all curl up for the night, drawing can happen joyfully in these small 2.5X3.5 borders. That joy reflects every single miraculous smile, giggle, twinkle and moment of relief that came and went through the day, I'm happy to say my mind goes to those things and not the To Do list. So, normally I would write a post like this and remind myself that I need some time for quiet, reflective, mindful practice. But maybe this is just enough time, a fitting practice for now, one *less* thing to write on a To Do list and just something to let happen as it does.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

More... and yellow!

I'm on my way to make some scones on this lovely (though rainy) Saturday morning- so I'll be brief. Did you think I had forgotten about the Month of Tea I had proposed? No, I was simply off and about putting the finishing touches on the finishes... and starting the starts! First, last week's Tea Time design might just look sweet with all the different colors I pair it with- I was excited to sell my first set (woo!) and also to get some photographs with these buttery, delicious yellow envelopes.

Oh, the color yellow! I seem to be re-discovering this color as the light here changes and signs of spring really take off. Or maybe its because we are surrounded in baby toys- so many of these are yellow. What could it be? Oh well, I love to fall in love all over again with color, color, color as the days get longer and sunnier! The newest originals in the shop start pouring in today with Margaret here. After the success of the One of a Kind Valentines last month, I'm thrilled to offer more teeny tiny art in the shop.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I'm feeling happy tonight, and excited about this blog post. Inspired by a lovely seller, Kathi from kathiroussel, I'm starting off with the treasury she created last week. Who is that tromping through the springtime in the center bottom row but sweet Audrey! Awe, thanks again Kathi!

Sometimes a treasury (which is a collection of Etsy images that a seller puts together of other sellers' work and then posts in the rotating list of other Treasuries) strikes the imagination. I really loved the deep black and bright color combination of this gathering. I love that childhood springtime fondness, the remembrance of nature waking up, of growing things poking through the thick-smelling leaves. The metals and pearls and horn-shaped coral forms... these things matched with cottages and shoes and hats~ I just felt transported into some haunting folk tale backdrop following the link (...trail of breadcrumbs...) to this Treasury.

The curator of this woodland gallery also, I should add, has a simply wonderful shop. Her jewelry gives me the same sense of hand-held stories, delicate and mysterious or whimsical. I was wowed stopping by her shop and seeing her photographs. Really professional, crisp (crisp seems to be a word I like a lot lately) images that capture the personalities of her objects so well. Such a joyful find!

I'd like to thank a list of people for including ouou in their thoughts and blogs this past week. Penny Glass Girl wrote a list of current favorites from Etsy- check out her post here. I especially love that photograph of her studio space- coming from a work-space mess-maker, pictures of a clean studio make me silly with envy. Six Gun Annie did a search in Etsy under "tree" and added Blue Bird to her list of loved results. The robot parade in Land of Cupcakes took a march on over to Diffraction- take a wander on over yourself and wish them a Happy Birthday!

Just something about this blog post- the subject of fairy tales or magic or blackness & luminous color- makes me want to include mention of knitalatte. This is another one of those shops that, having seen her work, strikes such a resonant chord. These collections of curiosities, all with knitted cozies or costumes, are so imaginative I admit, I've gone back to her shop countless times just to stare. Something like museum artifacts, something like children's collections of nonsense mementos, the heart of knitalatte's craft is clever, strange and funny.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tea Time

March marches in with a crisp sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest and the beginning of our month of Tea inspired designs (along with other new drawings, too!) here at ouou central. My friends back east are snowed in after a night of stormy conditions... oh the winter in the North East goes on forever! A warm drink for you guys all nestled into your houses today (and I hope more than a few of them are making cookies) and a warm hello to a new month hearkening the end of Winter's grip.