Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Give Grace

While scrolling through the Instagrams recently I came across this photo:

(via Scarlet & Gold's Instagram)

If you look closely, you'll see a delicate gold tattoo on the inside wrist: GIVE GRACE.  I was initially drawn to the appearance of the dainty, shiny thing, and then later really ruminated on the meaning of the words.

The older I get the more I realize that every person I meet is dealing with some plight or another. Chances are I may never know it, but it is worth it to remind myself and others daily that we have no idea what is going on in another person's life at any given time.

I recently learned that a friend of a friend's cancer has returned. Another friend had another in a series of miscarriages. And a different friend just had a precious baby boy who has a serious and life-long disability. Heart-breaking stuff.

When I had my miscarriage 3 years ago, I think the part that hurt the most was that not everyone knew. I was almost 15 weeks along, so we had told many people about the pregnancy, but still, afterward I would run into friends and when they didn't ask me about the miscarriage I was almost offended. I wanted people to know I had gone through something unspeakably difficult and sad. Not for the pity, though. I wanted others to know so that I could serve as a comrade in pain.  My miscarriage made me realize how many women I know who have had the same experience. And there is comfort in shared experiences, don't you think?

So, back to the GIVE GRACE tattoo. When I commented on the above photo, Megan, of Scarlet & Grace offered to send me 2 tattoos. One for me and one to give to someone else who needed the message.

You can read more about the #GiveGrace Campaign, which aims to bring awareness to infertility and to help couples as they go through the IVF process.

I love the sentiment, and wanted to pass it on. So, go. Go give grace.
If you want a tattoo for yourself or someone who may be struggling with fertility issues or any other issue in which grace could be helpful, you can purchase one here.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Save Summer: No Kid Hungry

Only 1 in 7 children who rely on subsidized school lunches are reached through federal summer feeding programs. Those kids not reached are most likely skipping meals, or at the very least sharing food with siblings and eating food that is not nutritious enough for growing bodies.


You've most likely heard of my passion for Columbia, SC non-profit St. Lawrence Place before. {Full disclosure, I still work part-time for the agency, and blog for them here.} SLP provides support services, life skills, and transitional housing for families experiencing homelessness. An integral part of the services provided is the after-school and full-day summer program provided for children living at SLP and Family Shelter, the local emergency shelter.

The 10-week summer program serves breakfast and lunch, as well as two snacks a day for up to 35 children. These children otherwise may not have a nutritious meal each day during the summer. SLP is able to provide nutritious, homemade lunches each day through the kindness and generosity of volunteers and donors.

If you live in Columbia, SC, you can help feed these kids! You can send a donation to purchase food, you can prepare a meal off-site and deliver it on your designated day, or you can prepare a meal on-site at SLP. Check out this blog post for details.  Jones and I will be providing lunch for two days in July, and I am excited to teach him about the value of helping others.

Help No Kid Hungry: as Congress considers the reauthorization of Child Nutrition programs this year, we have the opportunity to improve the summer meals program so it helps low-income kids no matter where they live. Send a letter to Congress here, or you can sign up for our Summer Action Day on June 22nd!

Monday, June 8, 2015

My Nerdy Hobby

I've just entered week two of my work-free summer vacation and let me tell you, it really is all it's cracked up to be. Going back to teaching may have been the best decision I ever made.

Along with spending oodles of time with my 4 year old babe, I have so much free-time at night and I can stay up later because I don't have to be up at 6:15 AM, and it really is grand. (Sorry to all of you who are reading this and resenting the hell out of me right now.)  In addition to beginning no less than 4 books in the past 2 weeks, I have also started back with my favorite nerdy hobby: needlepoint.

I started cross-stitching when I was in middle school, and recently picked back up the needle-arts. The variety of patterns and kits these days is so much better than in the early nineties when most of what I could find was in the local craft store and most likely involved a teddy bear or a 'country kitchen' theme.

Etsy is a convenient place to find modern and "cool" needlepoint kits, and this SatsumaStreet cross stitch pattern is next on my list:
Pretty Little San Francisco via here

Target has some pretty cool new crafty-items, including this embroidery kit that I completed and framed for my mom for Mother's Day:

via here
They also have these kitschy little wooden boxes with a grid for cross-stitching on the top. I have bought several, and if you're in my family and have a birthday coming up soon, you can count on a trinket box with your initial on top, handmade by yours truly.

This one is for my soon-to-be-5-year-old nephew, Taylor:

And this one is for my brother-in-law, David:

Just yesterday I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Hey Natalie Jean, and she posted this: HNJ Needlepoint Club!  If you follow me on the Instagrams, you will be seeing periodic pics of my latest needlepoint creations. Feel free to join me in joining Natalie Jean's nerdy-needlepoint club! 

So, do you have any dorky hobbies you're willing to tell us about?

Monday, June 1, 2015

School's Out...for Summer!

Cue this song's chorus running through your head for the remainder of the day:

Since going  back to the classroom as a middle and high school teacher last August, the promise of a 10-week summer has kept me excited nearly daily. It's true that after over 10 years out of the classroom, I was seeking the thrill of imparting knowledge, as well as the challenge of "getting through" to those difficult students. (The more operose the better, in my opinion.)  But, really, if I'm being entirely honest, I was at least 50% going back to the classroom full-time so that I could have summers off with my babies.

Here's how we've spent the first few days of summer:
My fruity folks at Cottle Strawberry Farm.

The chunkiest little baby ever and her big cousin, Ben, lounging by my parents' pool. Flanked by dogs, of course.

This dreamy little surfer-dude peering through the rad doll house on the children's floor in the Richland County Main Library.

that Star Wars band-aid is so endearing, isn't it?
Jones and I signed up for the Richland Library Summer Reading Challenge today; I have such fond memories of participating when I was a kid. That end-of-summer reading medal was always hard-fought-for.

What are you up to this summer? So far I'm enjoying not having to give those obligatory "teacher's dirty looks..."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Acquiring Art on a Budget

Let me start with this disclaimer: I am in no way an artist, art expert, or art critic, nor do I have a degree in art.  All I can claim is that I appreciate art, and I enjoy acquiring pieces of original art for my home.  And I do not have a large budget for this hobby, but I have acquired some pretty great pieces over the years.

My first tip is to purchase a piece that speaks to you.  Purchase a piece if you cannot stop thinking about it. If you can't help but think about that painting as you pass by that spot on your wall where it will surely hang if you ever purchase it, then buy it. I am currently coveting a gorgeous painting by local artist Whitney LeJeune--stay tuned for  Fig Columbia blog post about that one as soon as it's mine!

This poster was designed for the recent Avett Brothers concert in Columbia by local design studio & print shop, The Half and Half.  I went to the show, but also couldn't take my eyes off of this poster when I first saw it, so I tracked one down.

This piece I purchased at the annual St. Lawrence Place Angels Tea & Silent Auction a few years ago. Tip number 2 for acquiring art on a budget: scope out silent auctions! So many local artists generously donate their pieces to nonprofits for auctions.  I have scored many a beautiful piece this way, and the proceeds go to charity, so win-win!  The mixed-media painting is by local artist Page Morris.

My husband scored this Hollis Brown Thornton print at the Harmony School Oyster Roast & Silent Auction last year.  He actually got into a bidding war with another gentleman for a lot of 5 prints, but we prevailed.

This piece, whose artist I don't know (!?), I actually purchased from a gym I used to attend. The lobby had local artists' work on display and for sale. I saw this cool collage for weeks and decided to make it my own. And there's tip number 3 for purchasing art on a budget: check out your favorite restaurants, bars, local stores, and even gyms for local artists' displays! You can find cool art anywhere.

And finally, to prove my point that cool (and affordable) art is everywhere: a portrait of "Mommy" by my 4 year old son, Jones.
The likeness is uncanny, I assure you.

And there you have it- a tour of some of my favorite art, acquired on a budget and with love. The Columbia art scene is burgeoning with talent; go find some for your home!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chef Stories

My husband and I decided to go cable-free over 4 years ago, and I have not regretted it a day since. (I'm pretty sure he has--especially when sporting events are on that we can't stream--but we usually figure out a way to watch.) We did it to save money, but it has ultimately ended up saving precious time and brain cells as well. I no longer watch mindless, numbing TV shows, just to have something on in the background or to serve as distraction from the day. We are now deliberate and intentional in what we watch. And between Netflix and our local PBS station, ETV, there is still plenty to watch--and well-produced stuff that actually informs while entertaining.

James and I are both food-junkies. We love to eat food and make food and grow food and learn more about it; and if that sounds at all like you, then you're in luck. Here are a few of our favorite food shows, all available via PBS or Netflix.

A Chef's Life teaser from A Chef's Life on Vimeo.

A Chef's Life.  The titular chef, Vivian Howard, is endearing and funny and self-deprecating and I have a giant girl-crush on her. She runs 2 restaurants in Kinston, NC, and I devour every episode of her show. I gave James a gift certificate to her restaurant Chef and the Farmer for Christmas, and we'll be taking a trip to Kinston to try it later this summer. Stoked.

The Mind of a Chef. This was recommended to us by a food-loving friend when we lamented the fact that we couldn't wait until Netflix's new show Chef's Table was released.  We binge-watched over the course of a few days, and I can't wait for the next season. Season 1's first episode is about Chef David Chang's love for ramen, and you cannot watch without insanely craving a big bowl of brothy-noodles.

The 5 Ages of Parmigiano
via here

Chef's Table. So far we've only seen the first 2 episodes, but as expected, I'm hooked. The first episode, about Chef Massimo Boturra, is half love story, half chef-show. And the love story is so sweet. Plus, he serves a dish called The 5 Ages of Parmigiano. Eating it in his restaurant in Italy is now on my bucket list.

Lucky Peach Issue #15, via here

While researching for this post, I came across a blog post about a magazine called Lucky Peach. It's a quarterly journal of food and writing, and Chef David Chang is an Editor. I already subscribed, and cannot wait to have this gold in-hand. I mean, the cover of the most recent issue is a true work of art, no?

So, are you as food-obsessed as I? What other shows, movies, journals, mags, websites, podcasts should I be watching, reading, listening to?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Babies and Bourbon and Zombies

How's that for a title?

We have had a sick baby on our hands this week, and let me tell you, it is no cake walk. I am in awe of parents who care for seriously ill children on a regular basis, because sick babies are pitiful and exhausting.  Birdie had the coxsackie virus.  If you've never heard of it, consider yourself lucky. If your kid has had it, you feel my pain.

She's finally feeling better, and James and I are excited to escape the house for a date night tomorrow night. We're heading to Bourbon for an early dinner and then to see Evil Dead, The Musical at Trustus Theatre.  If we have time, we may sneak by Craft & Draft for a pre-dinner nip.  Have you heard of this new craft beer store & growler shop on Devine Street?  We're excited to try it out. 

It's crazy how valued a date night is once you have kids...you try to cram so much into the night, when really you should be home getting a good, uninterrupted night's sleep...
Nope, I'm too excited for a baby-free night out!

What are you up to in our fair city this weekend?

Check out this review of Evil Dead, the Musical in the Free Times.

Also, have you partaken in Bourbon's weekday 2:30-5:30 PM "Bite the Bulleit" special yet? It's a bump of Bulleit bourbon, a draft beer, and a burger for only $10!?  The burger alone is worth more in my book--you must try it!  Ordering the house made pimento cheese on top is essential. You will thank me, I promise.

I'll be posting about our date night on my Fig Columbia site blog soon, so check there for the details!