27 April 12 • MAV

Those of you who have been longtime Quarterly readers should know this fact about me: I love to create art with kids. It’s all fine and good to get together with adults and paint or build (let’s be honest, when do we really make time to do that though?) but it is when I get on the floor with kids and truly play that I feel at my most open and creative. I feel free!

When I visited Portland, OR several weeks back I got really into the set of Kapla blocks that were in a basket at SCB’s house. When I was leaving she told me those had not been touched in months but since I had been in the house everyone was playing with them once again. I just loved hearing that!

The possibilities with these blocks are endless. They are lightweight and very simply made. When they come crashing down (in fact, Miles, Mia and I took to filming ourselves making big towers and then crashing them down; it was awesome) you don’t feel sad or frustrated because the crash is so light and gentle. You know within moments you can have the same structure built again.

I love how there are no presets with these blocks. In the Lego set we have at our house for the kids there are pieces with specific characteristics so you feel almost hemmed in by the inherent desire to use them for those purposes. For example, pieces with eyes stickered onto them … how can they not be eyes? It takes a big imagination to bust out of those presets. With these blocks there’s really nothing implied. For me it brought an openness I had not found in other toys and I thrived under that freedom. I think Miles and Mia did as well.

I recently purchased this set but went back and forth about getting so many colors. SCB’s set was just all one color and that felt just perfect! But then I thought about the kids and adults that would be fighting, ahem, I mean playing with these in my house and felt moved to get the color. I am already anticipating one little boy playing with them and along comes another little (or big!) boy who wants to play too. Now I can say, “why don’t you take the red ones and you take the blue ones?” Harmony, freedom and fun! A good combo for all of us to have in our lives.

27 April 12 • SCB

This week I preserved a bit of spring with Sunprints. The cyanotype paper is crazy-easy to use and creates all kinds of happy accidents.

Collect armfuls of blooms. More than you need. Allow yourself some floral excess.

Arrange the blossoms between the reactive paper and glass.

Expose to the sun for a few minutes. Cross your fingers that the sun won’t suddenly hide behind a cloud. Just give me four consecutive minutes of sun, Oregon.

Rinse in running water, allow to dry, hang up at your bedside, write a love letter on the back, wrap up a present. Admire the pretty mess you made.

Make sure to use all the leftover unsmooshed bits to their best advantage. Happy spring!

21 April 12 • MAV

I have been feeling badly about dissing oatmeal a few weeks ago. The truth is I really do love oatmeal! I eat it in all seasons and in all kinds of ways. It’s the kind of breakfast that really sticks with me into the afternoon. Love that! I thought maybe I’d make it all up to my dear friend oatmeal by writing about my favorite way of having my bowl of late. I’d love to hear your favorite ways! Email me at hello(at)3191milesapart.com.

So I make up 1 cup of dry rolled oats (look for local rolled oats if you are so inclined, I always make sure mine are from Maine) to 2 cups of water. I also add a teaspoon of saigon cassia cinnamon and a nice generous pinch of salt. Once boiling I turn it down and let the oats simmer for about 10 minutes stirring frequently. When ready (I like mine still creamy and not too dry) I give my sweetheart two big scoops and myself just one.

These days my favorite toppings (added on top of the hot oatmeal) are almond milk, unsweetened coconut (did you know unsweetened coconut is a nice source of fiber, minerals and omega fatties?), walnut pieces, fresh fruit (didn’t have any on this morning, however), siggi’s yogurt and a nice dollop of honey. So very delicious.

And always popular in our house! Three cheers for oatmeal (I won’t diss you again, I swear).

21 April 12 • SCB

I have a busy week ahead, and while I hate to be inside at all on this beautiful spring day, I decided to get our kitchen stocked and prepped for the week ahead. First up was my weekly batch of granola.

Some yogurt to go with the granola (I’ll be posting about making yogurt soon. It really is so simple.) I also made a vanilla bean simple syrup to sweeten the yogurt.

A big pot of beans—one of the healthy foods my son will reliably eat.

Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies to pack in lunches (another great recipe from Good to the Grain).

Washed and prepped greens means I’ll eat a salad for lunch everyday instead of those cookies.

The last thing coming out of my kitchen today will be a rhubarb crisp just because I couldn’t resist the rhubarb at the market (although maybe it will become rhubarb syrup for cocktails?).

Feeling ready to tackle the week. Have a good one.

15 April 12 • MAV

I have not posted about makeup in a long, long time. With spring arriving I am now back in the mood (just over three years later). I realize it’s completely superficial and indulgent but what can I say? It’s fun and sometimes a little tube of lipstick or lip balm can really cheer you up! So, Grandma A., this one’s for you! I love you and miss you so so much!

Here are my favorite colors/products right now for lips:

Above: Yves Saint Laurent Crème De Blush ~ Velvety Peach
Technically this is for cheeks, and I do use it that way and think it’s fabulously natural-looking and soft, but I also think it makes a great light lip color. I find that it lasts forever as well and therefore is well worth the high price which was a bit hard for me to swallow at first!

Above: Yves Saint Laurent Volupté Sheer Candy ~ Dewy Papaya
While on the topic of YSL, I’ve really gotten into their “glossy balm.” This lipstick has just the right hint of color and some nice shine. It also has some kind of mix of antioxidants and vitamins which make the lips feel hydrated. I love the way this one feels going on. Again, my tube is very long-lasting which makes me very happy! Our girl Evan (who works hard to get all of those copies of 3191 Quarterly out to you each season) uses the Tangy Mandarine; it’s so gorgeous on brunettes.

Above: Make Up For Ever Rogue Artist Natural ~ N34
This is a really nice nourishing lipstick at a happy price. They have so many wonderful colors and this N34 is my dream color. It’s very close to the color of my lips but just with that little extra pop. Perfection!

Above: Rodin Olio Lusso Lip Balm
What a treat this is! I got this as a birthday gift  in December (thanks, Hils) and have been savoring it. The smell is lovely, the little shimmer is perfect and you know you’re doing something good for your lips. If you only have the budget for one lip balm or lipstick all year (I budget in one each season) I would say get this one. It’s amazing and makes you feel so good.

Above: Nuxe Lip Moisturizing Stick
I picked this up while I was in Portland, OR a few weeks back and it’s nearly gone! This brand is new to me and I absolutely love it. With ingredients like honey, shea butter and macadamia nut oil how can you go wrong?

15 April 12 • SCB

I made this little hanging planter for my workroom this week.

The method was the same as I describe in 3191 Quarterly Issue No. 6 except I reduced the size a bit and used jute twine in place of rope. The container is one my husband made in ceramics class long before we met.

I have enjoyed seeing and hearing about planters folks have made following my instructions since the issue came out. Amy was inspired to make her own version, Brooke filled hers with a hanging succulent, take a peek at Fanja’s, and you can see Martha’s in her scarf-shop.

Heads up! If you would still like to get your hands on a copy of Issue No. 6, do hurry. We are very close to selling out of single copies! Sold out of single copies. Thank you.

7 April 12 • MAV

Signs of Spring from my sketchbook and from my yard. Happy Spring!

7 April 12 • SCB

I do love to dye eggs. It is an Easter tradition for which I always make time. I have been making natural dyes for years (and occasionally I have picked up a kit from the market as well). This spring, I came across the egg dying app from Martha Stewart. Wow. That is one crazy-great app you never thought you needed (I have absolutely no affiliation with the app—I just love eggs).

Browsing through, I wanted to give these delicate leaf designs a try. I had made a blue dye from cabbage, and I thought it might create a cyanotype effect. Somehow, feathers made their way into my thinking. Feathered eggs just seemed right. I used soft and pliable guinea feathers from the craft store. The spines of each feather were painted with egg white per the MSL instructions and then gently adhered to the egg.

I hated to go buy the nylons suggested for holding your design in place (such a waste of packaging), but I found a pair of (clean) snagged tights in my drawer and cut those up instead. Each feather was secured tightly in the fabric bundle and tied in the back with a rubber band.

I left them in the dye for a few hours (the natural dyes take some time) and then unwrapped them, preparing myself for disappointment. There were some globs where I might have been a little heavy-handed with the egg white, but I was thrilled to see the imprint of the delicate spine and fringe of the feathers on each one.

I think the tie-dye design on the underside is pretty great as well.

A good egg.