Kind of Like A Norman Rockwell

There was a moment last weekend, when things were nearly picture perfect. Like a Norman Rockwell illustration — real, a bit silly, a hint of chaos emerging or recently visited.

And having it come on the heels of a bit of a stressful week — starring visits from a few plumbers, sick kids, and a few additions to our house “need-to-get-done-ASAP” list — it was impossible not to feel so much joy and thanks for a nearly idyllic scene.

I had built a roaring fire, with the help of a YouTube tutorial. And at some point, before dinner but after the 50th plea for the 30th snack of the afternoon, I found myself sitting on the couch facing the fire reading (A Dragonfly in Amber), with my husband sitting beside me relaxing with his iPad, and our two girls playing independently on the floor in front of us. Our oldest was playing a very exciting game with seven DC Superhero figurines and a Fisher Price castle, and our youngest was putting George Pig to sleep inside of a bed she had built from Duplos.

I nudged my husband and we shared a smile at this rare and exciting scene — four humans happily pursuing their interests, independently but together near the active fireplace. It was excitingly peaceful. It was nice.

And, in all honesty, our full immersion in our individual pursuits didn’t last long. Maybe I read one more page after that shared smile and silent giggle of excitement.

And that was fine because I love the way my oldest squeezes between me and my husband for maximum snuggles. And I adore the way my youngest narrates her play to us to keep us in the loop!

And this is what I’m thankful for this week as Thanksgiving approaches. I’m so thankful, with an enormous heart, for my little immediate family. They are good and kind and silly and brighten my day.

And you shouldn’t listen to what I say when I’m tired and drained, I wouldn’t want to spend a single day or night without them right next to me!


What are you thankful for? I know that blog comments are clumsy with having to prove you aren’t a robot and all that. So let me know on Instagram or my pen&thimble Facebook Page. I want to know! 

Also, in lieu of the typical holiday sales that roll around after Thanksgiving, I’ll be offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE US when you spend $40 or more November 20 – December 1 at pen&thimble on Etsy. No gimmicks, no coupon needed. My way of saying “thank you so much,” for being a customer and thank you for your support! I’ll be around –making and posting and chatting on social media — but I wanted to wish you very Happy Holidays now, before the overwhelm and hype starts.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!!!


Do I Look Like Santa? Imagination + Costume Bin = Our Summer

Both of my girls have been BIG into dress-up this summer! And it is getting hilariously whacky and fun! It started off as putting on a princess dress and claiming to be… a princess. But lately, their imaginations and costume bins are taking them to amazing pretend-play places!

July Dress-Up Photo Gallery

Super Hero
My Super J!!
“Me Moana!”
Poppy from Trolls
“If ever you see Poppy, the funnest troll in Troll Village, it’s just me your daughter, Josephine.”
My favorite nerd!
“Do I look like a Viking?” Yes. Yes you do!
honey bee costume
My honeybee!
“If ever you see a scary monster. Don’t be frightened. It’s just me your daughter Josephine.”
“Do I look like Santa?” Nailed it!
If ever you see my family out and about this summer and we’re hanging out with a gnome, don’t be surprised, that’s just our daughter Josephine.

Crowns For All Occasions

Want to enhance your kids’ dress up bins? Well, there are always pen&thimble crowns like these that helped transform Phee into Maui and Jasmine. And the one that helped Ivy…eat a bagel poolside. Find your new favorite bagel-eating accessory HERE!

DIY Costume Accessories

Or if you’re looking for a DIY project to help you cool off on a hot day, check out these pins in my craft and DIY board on Pinterest:

DIY Felt Gnome Hat:

DIY Troll Hair Headbands:

DIY Origami Paper Crown:

DIY Color-Your-Own Paper Glasses:

Brown Astronauts and Mermaids with Natural Coils: Representation in Art

So if I’m being honest, I didn’t create kids wall art featuring children of color on purpose. I didn’t start my creative process thinking, children’s walls ought to be more multiracial. When I created these pieces, I was thinking… Here are some fun prints! Oooh this unicorn! Cute astronaut kid! Sweet mermaid!

African-American Mermaid and African American Astronaut
In our family, a little snippet of diversity occurs every time we sit down for dinner. And we encourage learning about and respecting other cultures and backgrounds beyond our shades of brown and white…

Inclusivity in baby room and kids room decor
But it wasn’t until I had kids that the purposeful inclusion of multiple races was so important to me–books, dolls, figurines. This inclusion often means buying two dollhouse families to make sure family representations can include more than one shade or ethnicity. Or more recently, I bought a car track set for my two year old and had to purchase an extra car driver, a black girl, because all of the pictures on the car track and the two car drivers that were included were white.

pen&thimble family
(This is the only picture I could find with all of us in same frame)


Even as a brown mom with inclusivity in my mind, it wasn’t until I was trying to come up with listing titles and tags on Etsy that I realized that I needed to make these searchable for parents like me, looking for diversity in their kids’ rooms. And then despite being of multiple races, growing up in a multiracial family, and raising my own, I had trouble coming up with the search terms I wanted. (Huge thank you to my community of awesome Facebook mamas and friends for supplying me with a great list!)
African American Mermaid with natural hair

Now that I’m in multicultural art sales, I realize that there still isn’t a lot of art with kids that look like me or my kids’ friends. Or maybe I haven’t quite found the right search terms. But I hope to change walls one framed piece at a time. And now I have a purpose. A purpose that wasn’t on purpose is now my purpose!

PS. This new art is now listed in my Etsy shop. Already mounted in a 12 inch square frame, behind glass, and ready to be hung up with a nail or command strips! (Only $80 +shipping.)

PPS. I highly recommend The Barefoot Book of Children to start conversations about diversity–skin color, foods, customs… Have you seen it yet? We love it! Look for it at your local library or bookshop!

Say Hello To Carly S: Crafter, Friends-Watcher, and Future Etsy Shop Owner!

It’s the first Monday of the month. Hello, April! So that means it is time for the another installment pen&thimble playdate! We’ll meet here to “chat with” a fellow mom and connect over our similarities. Because we are #UnitedInMotherhood. Let’s say hello to Carly!


Name: Carly S

Region: Midwest

Kids: 1 year, Theodore and 2.5 year old, Penelope

What do you do? 

I spend way too much time cooking food and then way too much time cleaning it off the floor, daydream about opening my own Etsy shop, obsessively create lists, fill online shopping carts with things I’ll never buy, rewatch episodes of Friends and quote the whole thing, hide in the pantry eating chocolate, research whatever topic I have developed an unhealthy fascination with.

What is your hope for your children? 

I hope they are happy and healthy and have unswerving faith in the Lord. I hope they see the good in people. I hope they are brave, strong, and independent.

What is your biggest fear for your children?

I am afraid of letting them down. I am afraid that they will let the world invade their sense of self and lose their individuality.

What is your favorite activity to do with your kids/family? 

Anything. Cheesy – yes. But honestly I love any activity that is all of us together.

What is your biggest challenge being a mom? What makes your life easier? 

My husband is currently deployed and I am doing a whole lot of this alone right now. I know it’s a temporary thing for me but man do I have a lot of respect for single parents. I also think smart phones and the internet really make being a mom tricky. They do provide many amazing things but there is so much room for judgement. Things that make life easier: Norwex cleaning products, my Black and Decker dustbuster aka my BFF, lavender essential oil, COFFEE, my two hours a week to myself thanks to an amazing babysitter, and all the magnetic note pads that cover my fridge!

Self-care: What do you do to relax/decompress? Why does it help you? 

I am focusing on self-care this year. This is an area I really struggle with. I am trying to make time to do something just for me every day. There will always be more chores, more laundry, more things to clean. But I am happier and a better mom when I have the chance to be a better me first.  I do love 8pm when the house is quiet and calm and I can choose what to do with my evening – something creative, something to pamper myself, a really early bedtime 🙂


What, if anything, do you wish people knew about you? 

Friendships are hard for me. I grew up as a Navy brat and now as an Army wife we never stay put long which makes it difficult to keep up with friends. I have to really try to stay in touch with people and make an effort to contact people regularly. My mom and husband are pretty much the only people I speak with daily and I’m kind of ok with that.

How did you become a pen&thimble customer?

Ummm I’m pretty sure I fell into an Instagram hole and clicked my way to the lovely pen&thimble page 🙂

What is your favorite pen&thimble product & why? 

I started off with a teething toy kit and it kicked my booty into crafty gear! I owe Gillian a lot of gratitude for helping me regain my crafty side after having my youngest. Being creative is a big part of my identity and setting aside time every day to do so makes me feel like a whole person and not just a giant tissue for my kids to wipe their hands and face on 😉

Follow my silly little family if you’d like 🙂 Click here to hang with Carly on Instagram!

PS. I sold out of the teething toy kits, but I’m working on putting more patterns together. In the meantime, check out my kids coloring crafts HERE!