Drawing Hearts

Immediately after my stand for self love at the Capital City Farmers Market ended, I wanted to look at my body to see what words were written and take in all the loving hearts people made with markers on my body. As I had used washable Crayola markers from my daughters' art kit, some of the marks were already being lost due to sweat running down the rolls of fat on my back and in between my legs. It was nearly 90 degrees that late August afternoon, and, as we stood in the alley, Melanie captured much of the words on film while we basked in the glow of tears and humanity and joy over the love we had just witnessed.
As I got home, I stood naked in front of the mirror in my bathroom and looked lovingly upon the canvas that was my body that day. My husband, Eric, read off the words to me that people had written while I scrawled them quickly on the back of a public library checkout receipt. I dreaded taking a shower and losing the feeling of those felt tips on my skin, the warmth of a revolution.
Soon after my blog post dropped with the video that has now gone viral and been viewed cumulatively nearly 115 million times around the globe, I began replying to the messages of love that began pouring in to my email, Facebook messenger account, Instagram, blog comments and more with simply a heart emoticon. To me, that heart - the simple symbol I'd asked people to draw with a child's marker on my skin and the one I can push a button to leave on any social media post - had become the symbol of the rebellious body love revolution.
It turns out others felt the same way. So many of you responded to me that you shared in my message of self-love and were fed up with a society that profits from our self-doubt. You told me how you would've drawn a heart on me if you would had been there (including a handful of celebrities like KEVIN BACON OMG), and sent me the emoticon as your heart for my body and my message.

It may be the piece that fat activist and deputy editor at xoJane magazine Lesley Kinzel wrote about my radical art performance that really hit the nail on the head about the hearts. I recommend reading her article in its entirety, but at the end she sums it up with this:
She changes the framework, she stands up with confidence and a blindfolded smile and invites them to comment in the context of her own struggle for self-acceptance, and in the shock of this unfamiliar ground, they can only respond with love. They are kind, with no strings attached.
What if we looked at everyone around us with such care all the time? What if that was how we looked at ourselves? What a home for all bodies we would build, if only we could be psychically drawing hearts on one another’s skin every time we looked at each other.

A few days after I ceremoniously washed the marker from my body and watched it swirl pink and purple and blue down the drain and forever into my soul that hot August afternoon, I began drawing hearts on my children. Daily, we get out the Sharpie marker, and as a reminder that all bodies are good bodies, we say something kind to one another and each other, and draw a heart.
I believe in you.
You are valuable.
You are interesting.
You are beautiful.
When you make a mistake you are still beautiful.
Your body is your own.
You have say over your body.
You are creative.
Trust your instincts.
Your ideas are worthwhile.

I usually pick one of these affirmations each day to say while I look in their eyes or over a bowl of Cheerios. And then I draw a small simple heart. Something for them to look at while they are away from me, growing and leaning in to their own separate worlds from mine, and remember that they are good and strong and that there is no wrong way to have a body. And you know what? They've started doing it back - to me, to their father. Drawing hearts on us and their siblings, reminding us all that every time we look down at a little pen scribbled heart on our skin to follow our own.
You are capable.
You are deserving.
You are strong.
You can say no.
Your choices matter.
You make a difference.
Your words are powerful.
Your actions are powerful.

STYLE: Chewbeads

My friend Kristyn wore a strand of these really cute large turquoise beads to a party about a year ago and I complimented her on them. She told me they weren't real costume jewelry, but these safe spongy rubber-type beads for teething babies. You guys, this blew my mind. Being pregnant with Arlo at the time and knowing the chewiness that comes with baby territory, I couldn't wait to get my own.

Fast-forward about six months and I had my wee babe in my arms and he was so drooly and trying to eat all my unsafe vintage necklaces. I called around town and found out that both our baby boutiques downtown Boise, Cassis Kids on Idaho and Buns in the Oven in BoDo, carry Chewbeads. They are 100% silicone necklaces that are cute for mom and safe for baby. They come in a variety of styles, but the classic one I'm wearing here is the least expensive, running about $29.99. The colors are fun and funky (I picked bright yellow but they have more muted colors like brown and black if that's more your style) and I can't even tell you how much Arlo loves them. As soon as I put them on in the store, they went straight in his mouth. Worth every penny.

ARTSY: Dia de los Muertos Skulls

I'm a huge fan of the Dollar Tree just a few blocks from my house in Vista Village shopping center here in Boise, especially around the holidays. Their décor is killer, and so much fun to be creative with without costing much at all.

 Last year I saw (too late) these large felt skulls, probably 18" tall by 12" wide in both white and black for a dollar a piece. By the time I thought about crafting them up to make darling Dia de los Muertos skulls and went back to the store, they were all snatched up.

This year I bought three, one each for Lucy, Alice and I to try our hand at. While I originally thought I'd get out my embroidery thread and needles for some cute stitching, I quickly changed my mind because, um, crafting with kids is sometimes hard enough without making it harder (am I right or am I right?). A faster, easier method of getting the same colorful details as thread? Brightly colored Sharpies.

Pull up some sugar skull and face painting images of Day of the Dead from the Internets for inspiration. Add in a few tubes of glitter glue, sequins and leftover Mardi Gras mask making feathers. Voila! Cutest decorations to grace our front window during any Halloween season we've had. (Pro Tip: the plastic hanging hook that the price tag was attached to? Don't rip it off. Use it to hang your skulls on a tiny suction cup hook on your window!) I even ran back to the Dollar Tree to snatch up three of the black skulls to craft up next year before they ran out. Again.

STYLE: The Best Fatkini

Who in their right mind is going to post pictures of themselves in The Internets in a bathing suit when they are a fat woman, amIrite?! And a bikini, no less. Well, lots of women, including myself. It's pretty much become a movement, really, in fat acceptance and Health At Every Size circles. (And I've written before how I'm proud to part of those circles.) Hell, it's become a movement in any womens' circle, really. And a lot of it started with blogger Brittany Gibbons who, in 2011, did a Ted Talk where she stripped down to her bathing suit on stage and not long after that, posted a photo of herself in a fatkini on her website, and she ain't no thin girl.

She inspired us all to do the same. Don't hide under long clothes in the summer. Buy a bathing suit and own it. Get in the water with your kids (which I am doing in all these photos: at Roaring Springs Water Park, drinking beers in a hot springs in the Idaho mountains, tubing in Warm Lake and floating in the river outside of Atlanta, Idaho). Flaunt your fat in the sun. Let sand stick to your cellulite and sweat drip down your cleavage. It's what summer, and life, is all about.

I bought my first fatkini in 2013. It was black and white striped and so darling and fit like a glove, perfectly snug in all the right spots. It was comfortable, and really, barely a two piece, with a high-waisted vintage-type bottom with skirt like scrunching fabric in the front and a halter on the top (a fashion blogger I'm not, obviously). I wore it like mad that year, pushing the bottoms under my growing pregnant belly while I wore it to prenatal water aerobics twice a week for nine months while pregnant with baby Arlo last year. I wore it so much that it eventually wore thin and gave out.

I loved the style and fit so much that I ordered the exact same one again from in a size 2x. It was on sale for less than $30 (a steal!), but only available in red. The suit was recommended by another blogger, Rachel, who ordered the navy anchor print and rocked it on her website (although her image was sadly stolen and used for a diet company's promotion because sometimes people suck).

It's the Catalina Suddenly Slim bikini from Walmart and it appears they are all sold out online now so (I'm kinda freaking out about what I'm going to do when my red beauty gives out, but it's holding up great so far.)

I'm not gonna lie, when I first put on my black and white striped one just over a year ago and wore it to the city pool with my daughters for the first time I was a nervous wreck. I was self-conscious and felt like everyone was staring at me. Turns out, many people (although likely not as many as I first thought) WERE looking at me, because they thought my suit was so cute and I looked great in it. I found this out, as many, many women have complimented me on my suit every time I wear it in public. It really is cute and much more flattering than these images (snapped unplanned by my youngest daughter) show. And it's so comfortable to wear and now I don't really even think about it being a two-piece and whether or not people approve of me wearing it. I feel great in it, it's comfortable, it's darling, and I get to enjoy the water with my family. It's made me brave enough to share unflattering images that my daughter Alice took of us having fun together, just because she loves me. And that's all that really matters.

CULTURE: Fat and Happy

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I'm fat, happy and proud. My activism, in the Fat Acceptance and Health At Every Size movements has gained momentum over the past two years, and I'm thrilled to post some links to a couple of my most favorite accomplishments of late.

A little over a year ago I was selected to give a 5 minute presentation on fat acceptance for Ignite Boise 11. If you're not familiar with the Ignite format, click here. Getting up in front of a packed house (nearly 800 folks!) at the Egyptian Theater in Boise and telling them how much I weigh was terrifying and exhilarating.
For some reason, I can't get the YouTube video to embed in this here blog, but you can watch it here.

This summer, I was thrilled to be one of the moms/writers on 3 Things For Mom, offering up my truth, tip and a find by blog found, Lauren. It was such an honor, and an important way to spread the body love message. Click here to see my post.

Being an activist is hard work, and I've had my fair share of bad days and nasty comments from 'friends' on Facebook about body positive concepts. It can be exhausting and sad, but is mostly important and wonderful. Being happy with who you are and helping others on the self-acceptance journey is pretty crucial and special work.  And I'm honored to do it.

CULTURE: The 2011 Wintry Market

Our inaugural Wintry Market was a huge success! Over the course of two days (Sat Nov 5 and Sun Nov 6) thirty different crafters, artists and makers filled the Ballet Idaho Auditorium space with good fun and terrific handmade gifts. Hundreds of people came through and the vibe was casual and eclectic and inspiring, by all accounts
And! You guys! The Ticky-Tacky shop did spectacular upon it's debut. Seriously, I got great comments about the quality of items and the originality. Several people even mentioned that I should have a store somewhere. As for now, though, I'm still just working the local booth/event market. I sold almost $350 worth of vintage goodness, though, in just two days. This exceeded my expectations, and totally got this girl a brand-new Kenmore vacuum.
My co-conspirators in all things crafty, Anna and Kristin. Together, we put together a pretty wonderful show and helped promote handmade and local goods in Idaho. I love these ladies. They also took way better photos than I did, so for more images of the Wintry Market, check out our blog and our Facebook page. You should also 'like' us/follow us to get info about other holiday markets in Idaho, as well as get updates on Wintry Market 2012!

STYLE: T-shirt Revamp With Men's Tie

I follow Craft Gossip on Facebook and saw this link to this blog's tutorial on upcycling an old t-shirt with a men's tie. Eric happens to have a plethora of old, quirky ties lying about, so I snatched one up.
My blue tee had another stain on it (as most of my tees do) so I crafted a few little fabric rosettes to cover that up, and to adorn the tie.
In the original tutorial, she uses a vintage button, which I also think would be darling. But this turned out pretty cute, don't you think? I can't wait to make more!

ARTSY: Wintry Market + Ticky-Tacky

Early last spring, my friend Kristin Montgomery and I met for brunch and discussed Boise's need for a quality handmade arts and crafts holiday market. We had both noticed that our local handmade shops and markets were expanding and seemed to be successfully operating on a grassroots level that we both appreciated and enjoyed. We knew that we could add something special to the holiday scene and thus, Wintry Market was conceived!
We quickly secured Ballet Idaho's stellar auditorium space, thanks to the community-building mindset of their new development director, Heather Langhorst, and her commitment to artists supporting artists locally. Local animator Jason Sievers created our fabulous poster and we soon had all 30 available booths at the Wintry Market filled with some of the best makers in the state of Idaho. Big City Coffee was thrilled to help our customers satisfy their caffeine fix and sweet tooth and B29 Streatery is ready to park their popular food truck in the Ballet Idaho parking lot for the weekend.
Co-creating the Wintry Market has also allowed me to finally fulfill one of my dreams of starting my own vintage shop. I call it Ticky-Tacky, and it's a carefully curated vintage shop full of reloved and reused items for the home and the holidays. Items have been thrifted, repurposed, and handmade by yours truly. You guys, I'm so excited to share the goodness!
There'll be killer vintage Christmas goods! Clothes! Purses! Kids decor! Art books! Crochet! Needlepoint! Crystal! Melmac! Ticky-Tacky is overflowing with so much greatness it's gonna be hard for me to part with all the retro lovelies I've selected. Of course, everything is one of a kind, and is certain to go fast, as I'm a firm believer in reasonable prices. Vintage homes FTW!
So, if you're local, help us ring in the holidays season by attending the inaugural Wintry Market and supporting Idaho's artists and crafters. Seriously, you're sure to find the most unique and hip holiday gifts around. And, I'd love for you to stop by the Ticky-Tacky booth and say hello.
Here's the deets:
Wintry Market Handmade for the Holidays
Ballet Idaho auditorium
Corner of 8th & Myrtle, in downtown Boise's BoDo District
Sat Nov 5 & Sun Nov 6, 2011
+kids recycled arts corner!
+coffee and snacks!
+quirky holiday photo booth!

STYLE: My Five Home Favorites

My friend and talented interior designer, Kristin Montgomery, hosts a lovely little blog called Inspired Designer. Occasionally, Kristin invites other stylish and crafty folks to send her five photos of their favorite spots/collections in their home and writes a feature called 'My Five Home Favorites.' I'm lucky to have been asked to participate this week! Click here to see what my current favorites are at our tiny little 1950s homestead on Boise's Bench.
And speaking of style, what do you think of my new blog layout? Having just celebrated my second blogiversary, I thought it would be fun to do something a little different and update the look.

STYLE: Black and white photo collage

I've been collecting black and white photographs for quite some time. I have a nice framed collection of larger ones in a hallway, including a 1970 studio shot of the Brady Bunch family autographed by Barry Williams and one of an early 1900s parade in Boise's Chinatown. I've also quite the stash of smaller black and white photos, picked up for pennies at antique stores and garage sales, including about 30 images of historic architecture in Indianapolis.
But it was when my sister-in-law, Crystal, sent me this link to a darling San Francisco home tour featured on Apartment Therapy's website that I knew the little collection's true calling. There are so many things to take inspiration from in this couple's cute home, including the plate display on the wall (which I already have goin' on), but it was the pinned exhibit of old photos that really caught my eye.
I picked up some black and white ball-topped pins at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft up the street for under $2 and set to work. The photos aren't straight, but they do make a nice assymetrical composition that can grow as my collection does. I love that the photos are out of the drawer in the basement and next to my bed, where I can examine them and make up stories about the characters in them, including the one of the lady wearing her Sunday finest pointing a shotgun with a sly smile on her face.

STYLE: Vintage souvenir travel plates

It's probably only been about a year now that I've been collecting vintage souvenir travel plates. But I'm a wee bit addicted to hoarding quirky things.
I find them, typically, at rummage sales and thrift stores and have never paid more than $4.99 for one, and most are around $1. They were popular tourist trinkets in the 1950s and were made for most states, large cities, and national parks. I've found some odd ones, like for the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma, and, for some reason many local churches marked significant anniversaries with commemorative plates.
Events like the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 (when the Space Needle made it's debut) were also popular to memorialize in a plate, and the dimensional relief on this particular piece if pretty great. They often hung on the walls of people who bought them, servings as memories of family vacations and roadtrips, made doable by the automobile in the mid twentieth century.
The plates went out of fashion and people are getting rid of them now, gifting them to the Goodwill as they find them in old boxes of grandma's stuff. As a sucker for Americana and kitsch, I'm intrigued by the architectural features and natural wonders chosen to represent each state/city on their plate. It's telling of the time and era, and also acts as a historical document, as this New York City plate does, with the Twin Towers standing tall pre-9/11.

STYLE: Vintage Holly Hobbie Lunchbox

I still have my grade school lunchbox, a metal Holly Hobbie number from Aladdin. It was made in 1979, and likely purchased in 1980 when I was five-years-old by my mom for me as I started kindergarten. I used it for at least ten years, and ever since my mom has kept it for me. It even still has my name written on a piece of paper taped to the top in my mom's handwriting.

I love the schoolyard rules printed on the inside and the fact that I still have the thermos. We recently got this from my mom's storage after all these years and Lucy was thrilled to take it with her to first grade, although she has no idea who that girl with the big blue bonnet on the front is.

It was strange to discover how much larger our plastic tubs are these days, which, not surprisingly, indicates how much our portions have grown since the 70s. However, Lucy is a small eater and, like many six-year-olds, super picky. She likes her lunch packed bento-style, with things in small containers, like slices of ham, mini carrots, and baby dill pickles. Instead of pulling my name tag off, we added a new sticker with her name written in my handwriting. After school she told me that the thermos leaked her water all over, so the janitor had taken it away to clean it up. My heart skipped a beat, as I found myself suddenly quite concerned about the whereabouts of my beloved childhood container. She got it back, wiped clean, the very next day, with both our nametags still attached, marking the love between generations of brown-eyed grade school girls and their mothers.

STYLE: 1970s Terrarium

Yes, this is the corner of my living room. Yes, that is the arm of one of my fabulous Breuer chairs in the corner. And, yes, I know how lucky I am. I inherited this vintage 1970s white plastic terrarium from my in-laws. The tulip base and the dome are in near perfect condition and this thing has been in their southeast Idaho barn since the late 80s, I'd guess.

A terrarium is basically a miniature landscape with tiny plants and often small animals, like lizards. I opted to plant a desert garden minus the creatures. The little drift wood, plastic deer and rock painted with yellow flowers were in the terrarium when I got it, leftover from my husband's childhood. He has such fond memories of peeking into this miniscule world (much like this girl) and really wanted to share that fun with our girls.

There are lots of fantastic websites devoted to building your own terrarium out of whiskey bottles and other recycled objects. I have to admit, it was fun to landscape on such a miniature scale and I love bringing the outside world inside with something a bit more unusual than potted plants (which we already have plenty of). Plus, again, doesn't it compliment my chairs so well?

STYLE: My New 1963 Dinette Set

I've been jonesing for a new dinette set for about a year now, ever since Alice has joined the table. We only have a small eat-in dining area in our little ranch house, complete with a large picture window so we can watch the neighborhood go by while we eat (or, better yet, they can watch us chow down or color pictures or do homework). We've had this little retro set for 11 years. I saved up the $130 it cost me to Beekman Place, my favorite little antique shop in Corvallis, Oregon, where Eric and I lived in an apartment down the street during his grad school years.

We've hosted many a dinner, wiped up many a toppled cup of applesauce, and bleached out many a permanent marker stain on this avocado green set through the years. But, lately, it's become a difficult fit in our tiny space and it's really started to bug me. Not to mention, one of the chairs finally gave out on Eric one night at dinner. And, when I've got a bee in my bonnet like that, there's no stopping me. I've spent the summer searching on craigslist and garage sales for the perfect round table. I think a round table is much cozier for dining together, provokes more conversation, and keeps people sitting around it longer. All I was able to find, however, were wood tables, which are lovely and perfect in many, many homes, but I just don't visualize one in mine. Plus, the girls love to write with pen and marker on the tables, so I love me some formica tabletop. After months of agonizing over how much I might have to spend on a vintage set on Ebay, I found this wonderful thing at Renewal downtown Boise:

And I fell in love. Hard. I immediately put a hold on it and made Eric go by after work to take a look. My husband's a difficult sell when it comes to furniture and his approval is totally necessary. He loved the sturdy, quality construction and the seats are super comfy. I love the orange vinyl on the chairs and the white formica. Plus! It came with a leaf! Perfect for our larger family get-togethers. We bought it immediately and to save my lovely tabletop from my destructive toddler I bought this wonderful invention from this website and several more like it. This summer has been a wealth of wonderful second-hand finds and this isn't even all of them. Stay tuned for more stylish goodness.

DESIGN: Vintage Wassily Chairs

Hello, lovelies. I've seen you in mid-century design books and architecture textbooks and on fabulous websites that I drool over daily and in my dreams. Never, and I mean NEVER, in my wildest dreams did I see you perched so comfortably in my own living room.

Yet here you sit, a matching pair of you, and we sit on you. Daily. All of us. And, wow, are you comfortable. Not to mention striking in your form and perfect in our little ranch house. And to make this whole thing even more unbelievable, you came to me one sunny afternoon as a gift. As in, FOR FREE. And we all know you can be purchased for, you know, around $1000 each. A piece.

My friend Wendy, who lives right across the street (yep, as in the house you see out the front window here), through a strange series of events, ended up with these Marcel Breuer chairs that she needed to get rid of and she knew who might love them. And was she right. Except, I don't just love them, I CHERISH them. Designed in the 1920s by a true master of Modernism architecture and furniture, Marcel Breuer, the Wassily chairs came out of the infamous Bahaus movement, of which Breuer was a student and a teacher. The Wassily chair was one of his first and most famous furniture designs, and was made of bent tubular steel and leather in a square, boxy and minimal profile. The chair was re-released in the 1960s (which was when my chairs were made) by an Italian manufacturer. It was at that time it really became known as the Wassily, named for the famous painter Wassily Kandinsky, for whom Breuer made a version of the chair for back in the 20s. Besides this chair, Breuer is also famous for designing such buildings as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and many buildings at St. Johns University in Collegeville, Minnesota.

I cannot express in written words how excited I am to have these in my life and in my home. Everyone who's come into our house lately comments on them, first because of their uniqueness and second because of their comfort. What a treat it is to have such good friends, good fortune, and good design.