hand lettering

Hand Lettering

Hello, friends!  In case you've been wondering where I've been, i thought I'd pop in to share a passion of mine.  For as long as I can remember, hand lettering has brought me a lot of joy.  A couple of months ago I decided to make this art form a daily practice by lettering everyday for a month.  I posted my artwork on Instagram to hold myself accountable and in the process I discovered a wonderfully encouraging community of artists there.  When my month was done I was amazed at how far I'd come and I didn't stop!  I've been participating in challenges and lettering daily ever since.  Here is a personal favorite:

Even before I dove into this hobby, blogging took a back seat.  With two babies I felt I couldn't devote the time anymore.  Since I started lettering, I've been staying up late and spending countless hours on my artwork.  Obviously, I can find time to do the things that bring me joy.  Consequently, I realized that blogging about food and homemaking doesn't bring me the sort of joy that creating art does.  All this is to say that you won't be seeing the kind of blog posts that I used to publish.  However, I want to say thank you to all of you, my subscribers and readers, for the interest you've taken in what I have to share and for your loyalty for the last couple of years.


I'm not saying I'm going away; far from it, in fact.  I've decided to open an online shop -- Squid & Birch -- selling wares sporting my lettering art.  I'm so excited about this new chapter and I can't wait to see my work out in the world!  While my website is under construction, you can sign up here to be on my mailing list.  This way you'll be among the first to know when the shop is open and new products are available.  We'll never send out more than one update a week so you won't have to worry about your inbox being overloaded.

As a thank you for signing up for my newsletter, you'll be sent a free 5x7 printable PDF of this Merry & Bright piece:

In your confirmation e-mail following your subscription, there will be a link to download.  You'll receive a .pdf document of this piece without a watermark that you can print at home or send to a copy shot to print.  You can cut it out as a print to hang in your home or to take as a host gift to parties this season.  It is oriented on the bottom of the page so you can also use it as a folded card.  Print it as many times and for as many purposes as you like!

Here are some more examples of what I've been pouring my heart into:

Thank you for perusing my work and for your continued encouragement!

Camping with Babies {Mark Twain National Forest}

When we were living in Oregon we were bitten by the camping bug.  Wait; that sounds bad, as if there were a bunch of bugs feasting on us while we were camping.  What I mean is that we fell in love with heading into the woods to pitch a tent, hike the hills, and cook over an open fire.

Moving back to Kansas City did nothing to deter our love of nature, nor did bringing two little ones into the world.

When we tell people we're taking the girls camping, we are largely met with reactions of shock and terror.  "Why on Earth would you want to take a five-month-old and a toddler camping?  Isn't it hard enough at home?" someone recently asked.  And the truth is that, yes, it can be hard at home.  Life with babies and toddlers can be tough even when you're adhering to the strictest of routines.  So I figure, why not take a break from the ordinary?  If things can be tough anyway, why not get out into nature and give everyone a vacation from the screens and the phones and the roofs?

That's just what we did a couple of weeks ago when we headed down to southern Missouri with my sister and brother-in-law to celebrate my birthday weekend in Mark Twain National Forest.

While there are plenty of areas to camp quite close to us, we thought it would be a nice change of pace if we explored another part of our state.  As we live in the northwest corner of Missouri, our surroundings are the plains.  Southern Missouri is home to the Ozark Mountains and a whole different terrain.

My sister and her man only recently moved here from Oregon and none of us had ever been down to Mark Twain National Forest, so we decided not to reserve a campsite ahead of time.  Instead, we drove down to the general area where we wanted to camp and stopped at a Ranger Station to speak to someone about the exact kind of campground we had in mind.

We explained that we wanted a campground that would accommodate our vehicle, since we were bringing babies and everything that comes with them as well as a pregnant lady (my sister, not me!)  But we were also clear that we wanted neither too developed an area, as we still wanted to feel as if we were in the wilderness, nor campsites that were too close together, as we wanted our privacy.

We left with a map to Paddy Creek Wilderness and a bag of Smokey the Bear activity books for a very excited Susanna.

Paddy Creek turned out to be exactly what we'd hoped we'd find.  We had a pretty secluded spot just above the water with plenty of room for both vehicles and both tents.

We had just enough room in our tent for Chris and me to sleep on our air mattress with Susanna beside us and a moses basket at her feet for Nola.  Since Nola is about at capacity for the basket, I definitely see a larger tent in our future -- one that will accommodate a portable crib and, eventually, four sleeping bags.

We stayed for two nights and enjoyed great hiking, refreshing (read: cold!) swimming, and some seriously legit camp food.

Of course things weren't entirely perfect.  Our potty training toddler had a hard time without her toilet.  But for the most part, both girls did quite well.  They napped in their carriers while we hiked and enjoyed the scenery and companionship as much as the rest of us did.

It was a beautiful weekend with great company and a fantastic way to celebrate my birthday!

If you have any more tips on camping with babies, please leave them in the comments section below.  And check out my instagram feed for more photos and ideas.  See you there!

celebrations, family, food

Hummingbird Cake + A Birthday Celebration

My sweet Susanna turned 2 years old a couple of weeks ago!  It seemed like yesterday she was born.

We celebrated with her friends at her favorite neighborhood park.  There was a lot of climbing, sliding, swinging, running, and hill rolling.  There were balloons, bubbles, and pinwheels.  Susanna's second cousin and favorite buddy, Evey, came all the way from Nebraska!  And her Aunt Laurel and Uncle Jimbo surprised her by driving back early from Oregon.  What a loved lady


The Only Chocolate Cake Recipe You Need

I have a little confession to make.  Chris and I have never really been into Valentine's Day.  We don't like to go out to restaurants on the busy holidays because you end up paying a lot for less attention from the service staff and what is often an abbreviated menu created for efficiency in the kitchen (I know because I worked the pastry station on Valentine's Day for years.)  We also don't do a whole lot of presents.  We are both minimalists who don't like to accumulate a bunch of stuff.  I realize this probably makes me a party pooper in the eyes of many, but I'm okay with that.  We're perfectly happy with our heartfelt cards and a nice dinner on a night a couple of weeks away from the holiday.

family, celebrations

Nola's Birth Announcement

Last week we mailed out a stack of postcards to our family and friends announcing the birth of our second babe.  I found a design I loved on Etsy in this shop and ordered a digital download.

I designed the back myself, keeping it simple with her birth stats and a few extra photos.

If you've never tried ordering a digital download, I cannot overstate what a big fan I am.  I ordered my holiday cards this way (from this talented lady) for the first time last year and it was incredibly easy.  Pick a design, email your photos, receive a digital file via email, then print the cards at home or send the file to a printer.  It couldn't be simpler!  Sure, I dabble in design myself but I can't do it like the professionals do and my time is certainly worth the $15 most designs cost.