June 30, 2012

My Sea Baby

Posted by Laura

Last weekend my family got together and rented a house in Rockport, MA, a sweet little New England town located on the Northeast coast of Massachusetts. I have never been to the North Shore before, so this was a real treat. While there we shopped, we rested, we ate, and we walked along the shore. During our window shopping escapades, we came across this sweet little store called My Sea Baby located at 17 Mount Pleasant St in Rockport, MA.


Before I talk about this shop, let me give a little background about our thoughts on a nursery. Caleb has always loved the sea. Not the seashell-sandy-beach sea, but the SEA. He grew up spending many of his weekends in Rhode Island with family, he worked on a NOAA boat in college, and then worked on a lobster boat off the coast of Maine for almost a year while we were dating.

Fast forward to nursery planning and Rockport. Whether this little baby is a boy or a girl, we've got our hearts set on a nautical themed childhood/nursery for the babe (I've got some things already pinned to my "babe" pinterest board. While perusing the boutiques of Rockport we came across plenty of shops filled with nautical things, but nothing that stood out as our style...until this shop. My Sea Baby is located just off the main strip in downtown Rockport. It has such a soft feel to it (linens, muted colors, etc...). The owner, Heather Mosher, is an interior designer who started her career in Manhatten, then moved back to her hometown Rockport to open this shop. From her website:
"Mosher said her incentive is to provide 'unique, handmade, and organic' products. She supports local artists and hopes that My Sea Baby will give locals a place to go for their children's needs. She said she is also looking forward to getting her own clothing line for children up and running in a few months."

Unfortunately I didn't snap many pictures while I was in there, so I pulled some from her website: myseababy.blogspot.com. Here are some of my favorites:


soft lobsta

I love this silhouette...there's something
shipwrecked about it

And this is just fun (especially how
they're displayed on a net)

Thar she blows

I wish I had more pictures of the items in the shop. If you're ever in the area, stop by and check out the goods.

Speaking of more pictures, I just HAVE to share some of my wonderful nephews that I love so deeply. Here are just a few from our time together:

A boy and the sea

Impromptu run through the water

Loving the coast's smells and sunshine

This hose provided hours of entertainment on the hot summer day

Water in the face

Uncle love


Summertime feels so good. Enjoy your day!

June 28, 2012

I Like To Move It, Move It....Again

Posted by Kristin

Aside from movin' it to this awesome 90's hit by Reel 2 Real...

Us Thomases like to move it from house to house. So in keeping with our past performance record of moving, we did it once again in mid May. Why, you may ask, did we move again after only moving last August? Well, its because we're addicted to the stress of constantly scouring Craigslist for a new place, packing up our stuff once again, and sweating our booties off hauling stuff up and down steps (why do we always live on the second floor?). Ah....not exactly. While it took a while for me to admit, our last place ultimately wasn't a good fit for Mike and I. He was hesitant about it from the beginning but I was pretty persistent and wanting to make his wife happy, he gave in. Let that prove that making someone happy isn't always the best choice, if the choice is just a bad one. Over those nine months we lived there, we observed a number of things that just weren't working for us, like:
  • Not being able to use the yard because it wasn't maintained. In fact, it was kind of dumpy looking.
  • Having ample space but only one true bedroom. 
  • Having different wall finishes in each room (paneling, plaster, faux brick) that just didn't jive together.
  • Not having a dishwasher. Oh, how we longed for a dishwasher!
  • Having to navigate a damp basement (that flooded often) every time we had to do laundry.
  • Being close to a busy, noisy road.
  • Being in an old house full of lead paint.
  • Having a good feeling there was mold above the bathroom ceiling that our landlord would not address, aside from putting in a ventilation fan.
These symptoms got our attention even more when we learned that Baby Who would be making their arrival in November. 

This little Portsmouth Brewery onesie seemed to start a gifting trend in my family.
I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that we'll be outfitting Baby Who
 in as much baby beer gear as possible.

We had decided to put off talking about moving through the winter and to review the topic again in the spring. Fortunately, we were both on the same page and agreed to only move into a new place that we both agreed upon. We made lists of our top priorities and non-negotiables and started the hunt. After much prayer, looking and nail-biting we found a great place with an even better yard and a landlord who is really on the ball. We've been here about a month and feel really blessed by our new home, especially the dishwasher. So with out further ado, here's a tour- I even busted out the video camera for this one. Welcome to our new home!

June 26, 2012

30th Birthday Gift

Posted by Laura

Not my 30th (I've got a couple more years to go before that milestone), but my husband's 30th birthday was a couple weeks ago. I wanted to give him a special, one-of-a-kind gift that highlighted his 20's.

I took the nostalgic route and made him a cut-and-paste style photo album of his 20s...from my perspective.

I printed out approximately 50 pictures and busted out the colored Sharpies and glue sticks. Here are just a few of the 60 or so pages that I filled up.

Each year is from June to June (ex: June 2004-June 2005) with his age listed below.

Life has been great with Caleb and I have thoroughly enjoyed his 20's. We'll see what his 30's have in store!

June 23, 2012

Balancing Your Art To Make Room For Your Purpose

Posted by Kristin

Not too long ago, I discovered a sweet little blog called Flower Patch Farmgirl.  Over there, Shannan writes about family life, shabby chic decor and transitioning from a farmhouse and rural lifestyle to a life of less in a more urban neighborhood. I was particularly captivated by her recent post debating the difference between spending and decorating in excess versus pursuing it as a talent and gift that we've been blessed with. Shannan and her husband recently decided to build a house, despite wanting to simplify their life and budget.  Somehow that desire landed them in the midst of house construction and picking out drapery fabric.

Shannon's new house under construction. via.

I'll let Shannan do the talking for a minute:

"I remember back when everything in the world went cockeyed and we knew we needed to sell our house. We knew it was time to live more simply so that our resources could be freed up to do more important things than pay a mortgage and plant an orchard that wouldn't survive one season. Things got so confusing there for a while. I'm a girl who loves to decorate, and I found myself on shaky terrain. I fretted over that invisible line in the sand - what's too much? What constitutes excess? What's just plain greedy? So we buy an old house for cheap in a sketchy neighborhood - do I dare make it look pretty? Wouldn't that be frivolous? Shouldn't I live in a dive and send the cash to Southeast Asia? How could I ever justify a vintage schoolhouse map for $25 dollars while children are dying from malaria?

People talk about "balance", but isn't that usually just a cop-out?

I wanted to do whatever was right, but down in my soul, I was scared. I couldn't shake the feeling that this is part of who I am. This stuff is one of the things that makes me come alive. I'm good at it. I enjoy it. Is that wrong? And if it is, now what?" 

The great debate, voiced by Shannon. Via.

Every so often, typically on my long drive home from work, I debate the same subject. Many of us truly feel we've been given a gift or talent in a particular area and mine so happens to be interior design and DIY oriented projects. But where is the line of pursuing too much and putting too many resources (time, money, thoughts) into this hobby versus doing just enough to nourish it and use it to bless my family and friends?

These are some of the same thoughts I debated last September, back in this post. And after lots of thinking and praying last fall, I feel like Shannon finally put into words what my mind and heart were working out.

"I see things differently now. Yeah, this art (her passion for decorating) fulfills me, but helping others building wells and rescue children from slavery fulfills me infinitely more. So I balance my art to make more room for my purpose.

The passion is still here and the canvas could not possibly be more stark, making me alternately giddy and overwhelmed. I'm having more fun than ever, because I'm forcing myself to be think outside the box. A zippy rug would be fun, but we happen to already own a boring brown one. Make it work. (I adore you, Tim Gunn.) Pottery Barn is still his same, Don Juan self, but Flea Market is rough and edgy and plays hard to get. I like it.

Flip the whole story on its ear and there remains the fact that we are choosing to upgrade our flooring and our cabinets. We are willingly handing over money to pay extra for things that will be rust & dust, one day.

You see my dilemma.

I have big plans to remain staunchly conflicted through the completion of this task, and beyond. I'll question and second-guess. I'll stew over the clearance-rack curtains so long that someone else will snatch them up while I waffle. And then I shall swiftly kick myself.

I'll keep right on fighting my stubborn, selfish will. I'll pray for a heart that stays right where it should be, fearing all the while that it'll move.

I'll do all of this while I make my art."

That small collection of words said it all to me: "I balance my art to make more room for my purpose". I conquer and now feel like I have words for the journey I've been on for the last nine months. How about you? What's your art and what's your purpose?

Read more of Shannan's thoughts on this subject here.

June 21, 2012

Shoo Fly...

Posted by Laura

...or should I say die fly! With summer is officially upon us, our counter is fully loaded with fresh fruit....and fruit flies. These dang things drive me crazy.

So here's a little trick I learned from my friend Ashleigh's mom about killing these little gnats. First, take a little container and fill it about 1 cm high with apple cider vinegar.

Then, place saran wrap over the top (secured with a rubber band), and punch holes in it with a toothpick.

You're all set! Just place the container next to your fruit and wait for the little flies to come by.

The flies will make their way into the sweet tasting cider vinegar through the holes in the saran wrap, sip on the vinegar and get trapped, causing them to eventually drown. I know, it's kinda morbid but it's gotta happen.

June 19, 2012

An Asphalt Veggie Garden and A Half Acre Homestead

Posted by Kristin

Now that the birds and bees are buzzing and you can get lots of goodies at your local farmer's market, its about time for a plant post. This year I decided to plant a number of veggies in containers, mainly because I wanted the ease and convenience of being able to maintain and harvest them right outside my own backdoor. So shortly after memorial day (when the real chance of frost for this zone has gone by), I snagged a handful of veggie starts from the nursery and got to potting them up. 

Basil, zucchini and rosemary starts have a sunny, new home.

Old window boxes, retired self-watering containers, and even plastic storage tubs
can be used for veggies- just make sure to drill plenty of drainage holes in the bottom.

Its been a few weeks now and everything is growing really well. The tomatoes have nearly doubled in size and the lettuce seeds have started to sprout. When thinking about a location for these containers, I knew I needed a spot that received at least 6 hours of direct sun (the recommended minimum requirement for many vegetables). While there were other options on the lawn, I knew any container left on the grass would kill the turf underneath it. The last and best spot available was on either side of our garage door. While not the traditional locale for a garden, sometimes you just gotta get creative and place the taste of fresh veggies and herbs over aesthetics. By lining the pots up on either side, we can still access the garage door and what's inside (mainly our grill- can't have that baby blocked in). This set up only requires us to park a little further back in the driveway-a small compromise for the deliciousness of a fresh tomato.

So what did I plant?
-1 Sungold Tomato (a super sweet yellow variety)
-1 Early Girl Tomato (an early red variety good for salads and sandwiches)
-1 Cayenne Pepper
-1 Yellow Bell Pepper
-1 Bush Cucumber (more compact variety for containers)
-1 Black Beauty Zucchini (more compact variety for containers)
-2 Basil plants
-1 Flatleaf Italian Parsley plant
-1 Rosemary plant
-A variety of different lettuces (I plan to resow at 2 week intervals to have lettuce all summer)

An asphalt garden- nothing wrong with that!

A sungold tomato and yellow bell pepper may share the same color but they taste pretty different!

Mesculin mix is really easy to grow.

Fresh rosemary- great in marinades, dips and baked dishes.
It can even be brought inside as a houseplant.

And now to really inspire us all to do more with less, I thought I'd share this interview I recently read on the ins and outs of an intensive small-scale homestead on just half an acre. That's right-Deb has fit chickens, gardens, fruit and nut trees, and a composting area all onto half an acre (that's not counting her house and some general yard space). 

Deb Legge's gardens and greenhouse on just half an acre. photo via.
Read more about Deb's amazing homestead here. Then get outside and get your hands dirty!

June 17, 2012

What We Learned This Year About Blogging

Posted by Laura

...to piggyback off our 1 year anniversary post.

That hard work pays off. Goals are a great thing to have and an even better thing to keep. We set realistic goals from the beginning, and have seen fruitful results.

That communication is very important. We've also learned about each other's strengths and weaknesses, which allows us to graciously balance each other out. We've learned that going into business with someone means you have to serve them and outdo each other in selflessness. Who wouldn't want to work with someone who is constantly giving?

We learned that it is IMPERATIVE and ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to get outside and have fun. It is too easy to get lost in blogworld and before you know it the day has escaped you. Go outside every day and get fresh air, whether it be on a big adventure or your backyard. Getting consumed in your blog will only build weariness and resentment.

June 15, 2012

Happy Anniversary PEC!

Posted by PEC

Well here we are....1 year later. It was one year ago today that our first official post went up. After months and months of writing, editing, tweaking graphics and taking lots and lots of pictures, we were ready to reveal our silly selves to the world. And so we say thank you!

Thank you! 

Thank you for reading our random thoughts, projects, ideas, and posts that we thought were funny but probably weren't to anyone else.

Thank for your checking the blog frequently for new posts and commenting on ones that sparked your interest. Thank you for watching us do lots of little things that make our lives fuller, even something as simple and seemingly silly as giving our house plants a bath.

clean plant = happy plant

Thank you for reading about us making lots and lots of recipes, some of which were certainly better than others!

cinnamon buns- yum! 

Thank you for taking an interest as we transformed lots of different spaces in big and small ways.

We made a plan, then worked our plan, and it....worked!

Thank you for laughing and celebrating with us some big milestones that have happened over the last year.

Baking a human is hard work- 'nuff said.

Thank you for hearing us out when we're also brutally honest about the ups and downs of making a house a home.

Even those of us that love PECing need to take a time out every so often.

We didn't really know what PEC was going to be when we first started out on that fateful November day, or that we'd end up calling it PEC at all. We didn't really know what we were doing at all actually, except that our passions for planting, eating and creating were driving the big old bus that landed us here.

Picking stuff yourself just makes it yummier.

Teamwork makes any recipe taste better.

We've come to discover that little details make a big difference.

And to say that its been one of the most fun, challenging and rewarding things we've done in our short lives so far would be a major understatement.  Who knows where we're headed and how PEC will continue to grow and change, especially when there are two small human beings vying for our attention. But we'll continue to walk this road as long as we feel its where we're being called to walk. So thanks for walking with us and here's to hoping the next year sees even more laughter, innovative ideas and maybe even some more bad jokes.

June 13, 2012

Washing Berries with Vinegar

Posted by Laura

The winner of our Organic Beard Oil giveaway is Amanda who loves a man with a good beard. Amanda , please email us at planteatcreate@gmail.com with your mailing address. Congratulations!

Or in my case, washing everything in vinegar since I'm slightly obsessed. Well, along the lines of kitchen tricks, I stumbled across a great one the other day involving, yes, vinegar. My former boss (the same one who taught me to bathe my plants), sent me an email about this and it totally makes sense.

Washing Berries with Vinegar
Mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar (or cider vinegar) and 10 parts water. Add berries to the solution and swirl around. Rinse if you want, and then put the berries in the fridge. The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit, and as a result the lifespan is much longer. Brilliant!