Big News to Share!

Starting a business
Y’all, I have been sitting on some major changes over here. And FINALLY I get to share what I’ve been working on for the last three years.

With my business partner Meredith, I’ve started a subscription box company that specializes in self care. Our box includes things like lotions and sleep masks, treats and stationary, jewelry and soaps. Items that will help you sleep better, eat better, inspire you towards healthy choices, and engage you in luxury.

Along with all the other fantastic products, each box will include at least two craft kits in every box. We have tied everything we’re doing to scientific research, and the research is in. Making something is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It reduces stress, improves mood, lowers blood pressure, increases cognitive neuroplasticity, and so much more. So we’re including kits that represent all kinds of different types of crafting, so that you can experiment and see what kind of a maker you are. And if you hate it? So what! Do you love every workout you do? Sometimes you just get in there and sweat and flail and make a mess but you still did it and will reap the benefits. So if you sweat and flail through your crafting, just throw the dang thing out afterward! You’ll still get the benefits, and the next time you’ll be better, and better after that, until your making muscles are…swole? I’ve reached the limit of my knowledge for this metaphor.

Also included in each box is our exclusive zine, CULTIVATE. This is the women’s magazine I need to exist in the world. Full of authentic inspiration (as opposed to impossible expectations), stories of real women defining their own success, exercises you can use to improve your mental and emotional health, instructions on how to use the items in the box in a manner that best supports self care, and lots more art and humor to make this something that you will really value.

Through the course of all the nonsense I’ve had to wade through in my life, I’ve picked up a lot of survival tips. I’ve learned how essential it is to take my health and well-being into my own hands, and how to use self care as a radical health care tool, not just an excuse to treat myself. Our boxes will come stuffed with tools, education, and permission. You are worth the trouble of taking care of yourself, and I can’t wait to show you how.

Developing this box has been a long journey and I’ve missed coming here and pouring my heart out about every setback and every triumph. But now I can’t even look at this box without weeping because I’ve put so much of my heart and soul into it. I know that this is a product that will benefit people because it’s built on the same foundation as what has benefited me. Not just the reading and learning, but the LIVING. All the days I couldn’t leave my bed, all the times I had to learn shortcuts to make sure I ate, or gave myself incentives for showering. All the times I cross stitched through group therapy so I could stand to sit in my seat. I feel like all the horrors I’ve been through might actually have a purpose.

Our box is called HavenTree, named after the trees I used to hide under when I was a kid, whenever I needed some security. We all need a little safety and I know – because I’ve lived it – that no matter what is going on in your life you can find that place inside you.

Every quarter, you’ll receive a box stuffed full of products you will love. Inspiration to tackle the problems you’re facing. Education about tools that will change your life. And an authentic approach to real life – hard stuff and all.

I hope you love it. I made it just for you.


Tresa gets a trainer


It’s been three solid years of torturing my body trying to have another kid. It’s been over eight years of hoping and trying and testing and measuring, but it’s been three years of hormones and needles and pills and surgeries and procedures and hospitals. It’s not quite over yet, we still have two frozen embryos we’ll be giving one last try before the end of the year, but that’s almost a formality at this point. We don’t expect a different result which means that I’m making peace with having only one child with needs that exempt him from the typical childhood experience. Not a single other part of my life has gone according to how the stories go, so parenting shouldn’t be much different.

I had my major surgery in December, and Atti had his in February. I was still in my recovery window when Atti became completely dependent and needed to be lifted – in a particular way that kept him immobile – several times a day. Which meant that I was carrying this 50 pound kid everywhere he needed to get without functioning ab muscles. It’s amazing my back held out for as long as it did.

But of course I got injured. Caregiver injuries are no joke and I can pretty much count on fighting back and muscle problems for the rest of my life. I have one friend who just had her spine fused because of damage done by improperly lifting her disabled daughter. But children are not free weights. There’s really no way to properly lift a free-spirited child. They work against your proper form.

I can’t blame it all on Atticus, though. My back was hurting me but what sent me into full spasm requiring muscle relaxers and my own immobility was my dumb butt trying to yoga my way out of the injury, but only yogaing my way into full blown seized up muscles. I suck at moderation.

Which makes my trainer even more perfect for me.

When I first started meeting him I was charmed by his hippie ways. He’s a little more open to the woo woo than I am, but I cannot argue with the results he gets. He does this thing called active meditation where he makes me work really hard and then stop and meditate and it works like magic to get me crying about pent up stuff every time. Unfortunately, since my surgery, I’ve been to bad off to use his full skills. Instead he comes over and does some energy work and some deep tissue massage. Somehow he still makes me cry just by pushing on the right spot. Last time he pushed on a spot in my abdomen and I let out a blue streak that would make a sailor who left the sea for the call of the open road and now worked as a longhaul trucker blush. I had to end the session by apologizing for my remarks about his mother.

Right now I can’t do much of anything. I walked a mile around the lake and it knocked me out for three days. I’ve had shin splints for weeks. My trainer has to keep begging me to listen to my body and stop pushing so hard, but I have no chill. I am regularly so bummed out about my current condition that I go right past where I know I should stop just because it’s so depressing that THAT is where I have to cry uncle.

I’m trying though. My trainer keeps promising me that a little bit is all it takes to make progress, so maybe by the time Atti is grown I’ll be fit.


Year of Pleasures: Feminist T-Shirts

Fourth Wave Tshirts

My friend Noelle launched a T-shirt company last year and I’ve become obsessed with it. Like, the first T-shirt I bought because I’m a supportive friend and the design was awesome. Every single other T-shirt I bought for me. (And I literally own every T-shirt they’ve made. It’s the only thing I wear these days.)

Fourth Wave Apparel was founded by feminists for feminists, to celebrate the achievements and gorgeous vintage style of the women’s movement. They take great care with their sourcing and the results are amazing t-shirts that drape instead of cling and are so soft that I literally get stopped by strangers to pet my shirt. I went into a crunchy granola type store wearing my Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society shirt and I nearly got tackled to the ground. I am not at all exaggerating when I tell you that a crowd gathered around me to know all the details of this fabulous shirt. Even Atti’s teachers and doctors comment on them. I wear these shirts and I’m the most popular girl on the block.

(I’m still a supportive friend, but other than that I have no affiliation with this company and am not getting paid. I just really really believe in this product and it brings me a whole lot of pleasure.)


Woven Seed Bead Necklace

Woven Seed Bead Necklace
I’m such a sucker for seed beads. Despite their small size, I’d rather work with seed beads than any other kind of bead. Which means you have to be really creative so you don’t just make the same necklace over and over again. To shake things up I thought I’d combine a couple of beading techniques – stringing and weaving. The woven sections are such a great contrast to the strung sections, and the strung sections means that it’s wearable and drapes beautifully. If you’ve never woven beads before, this is a great first project since you’ll only have to weave a few small sections.

You will need:
Beading thread
Beading Needles
2 colors of small seed beads
1 color of larger seed beads

Step 1
You’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you give yourself a stopper so your beads don’t all just fall off the other end of the thread. Use a bead that brightly contrasts the color you’ll be weaving and thread it towards the bottom, leaving a few inches you can weave in later. Loop the thread around the outside of the bead and bring the needle through the other side, like you’re making a cursive L. Pull tight.

Step 2
Thread on your first row of beads to be woven. I made my sections 9 beads tall, but you can do as few or as many as you’d like.

Step 3
Thread on the first bead for Row 2, then in the same way you did for the stopper, bring the thread up and around and push the needle through the left side of the last bead on Row 1. Again, think cursive L.

Step 4
Bring the thread back up to Row 2 and push the needle through the bead you’ve added. Then repeat this process to add the next bead. Thread the new bead, push the needle through the bead directly below it…

Step 5
Then back up and through the new bead again. Keep pulling tight as you go, this looks best with nice tight tension.

Step 6
I made my woven sections 9 beads tall and 5 rows wide, but again, you can customize this however you’d like. Weave in the ends of your thread by running them through several beads and then cutting off the extra.

Step 7
Next comes the strung parts. Start with a stopper bead, then string a bunch of the smaller beads onto the beading thread, and when you get the length you need, thread on one of the woven sections by running the needle all the way through one of the rows of woven beads. When you come out the other side, continue stringing on the smaller beads.

Step 8
You’ll want to measure so that you get the overall size of the necklace you want, and then use that measurement to decide how long each section should be. I just figured it out as I went and held it up to myself, but if it’s a gift you’ll want to plan better than I did.

Step 9
When you’ve got all your strands done you’ll have a collection of tails to deal with. Gather all the tails on one side together and pull until you’ve got the beads lined up at the same point.

Step 10
Use a crimp bead to keep all these threads from escaping. Set aside two or three threads that are nice and long and then snip off the rest.

Step 11
Thread the remaining long threads through a jewelry cone and tuck all the unsightly thread stumps up inside.

Step 12
Thread on another crimp bead and then a jump ring. Bring the threads back around and back down through the crimp bead, and then smush that sucker to hold the jump ring tight. Thread the remaining threads back into the jewelry cone or just cut them off and dab with glue.

Step 13
Repeat with all the threads on the other side, and add a clasp on to the jump ring.

This necklace is a classic, so depending on what colors you use and how long you make it, it will not only work for everyone from grandma to your niece, but it will never go out of style. I liked the opportunity to use just a pop of neon so I could get with a trend without getting swept away by it. I can do neon in doses this small.

Woven Bead Necklace


Year of Pleasures: Tide Pods

Tide Pods
I know because this is such a naked recommendation this might seem like a commercial, but I promise, nobody is paying me or has even asked me to say this: Tide Pods may have changed my life.

I saw the commercials and it seemed like such a trivial thing – using a pod instead of measuring – that I rolled my eyes at one new thing to try and get us folks excited about laundry detergent, and how lazy our society is that we can’t use a measuring cup and how the kids today won’t get off my lawn. But then it was on sale and I figured, eh, why not, and I fell in love.

No measuring means no more drippy soap containers in my cabinet, crusting all over everything. It means never having to search for a measuring cup because I ran it through the wash and lost it in the dryer. No more using too much soap because I can’t stop pouring in time and it overflows all over me and the clothes I’m wearing.

It is a trivial thing, but it means there is one stupid chore in this stupid grown up life that I no longer have to dread.


DIY Nail Stickers

DIY Nail Art Stickers

DIY Nail Art Stickers

So with the DIY Nail Art tools I shared yesterday, I’ve been practicing my nail art skills and come to the realization that I’m not great. There are a few things working against me – not being terribly ambidextrous, not putting in any practice time – but the thing that gets me every time is waiting for all the layers of pretty paint to dry. I botch my nails EVERY TIME I put paint on them. Literally. I cannot seem to wait for the paint to dry, and then if I’ve managed to be still long enough for it to dry, I always forget about giving it time to cure and mess it up with dents and gouges. You add multiple layers of paint or, oh for goodness sake, pools of paint like in polka dots, and I don’t have a chance.

I’ve gotten in to nail art stickers, but they’re pricey. And as a rule I can’t stand paying for something I’m technically capable of myself. So I needed to come up with a way to make my own.

DIY Nail Art Step 1
The secret is parchment paper. It has to be parchment paper – not wax paper. There is a very significant difference. On parchment paper the polish lifts up like a dream. This might work on tinfoil or plastic bags, but I didn’t bother experimenting. It’s so dang perfect on parchment paper.

Paint ten rectangles bigger than your nails. Paint two or three coats, as necessary, to get the base color you want.

DIY Nail Art Step 3
Decorate to your heart’s content. After coming up with this I’ll never try and do polka dots any other way. It’s amazing to just leave these to dry overnight and know you’re coming back to completely cured polka dots with no smearing.

DIY Nail Art Step 2
Peel the stickers off of the parchment paper, being careful not to tear them. Paint your nails with a base coat and while they’re still wet apply the nail sticker and press firmly to smooth it in place. Depending on how neat you painted your rectangles, you may want to trim the base in a rounded curve to give you a smooth place to start applying. Just cut the sticker with a small pair of scissors.

Nail Art Stickers ApplicationApply just as you would any other nail stickers. Use a nail file or orange stick to press the sticker into the cuticles and nail bed and tear the extra away. I also used a pin for this for good results, but the best results of all came from just using a fingernail. The stickers are so thin that they’re super easy to tear. Which is a bit of a problem when you’re lifting them off the paper, but the best when you’re smoothing them to the nail.

Whenever I use nail stickers I finish with a couple of thick layers of top coat, paying extra attention to the sides. With a thick topcoat you can make your manicure last for over a week.

If I was just painting a solid color I think it’s more time efficient to just paint your nails. But once you start adding all the decorative flourishes, I don’t think I’ll do it any other way. I get to ensure that everything gets all the way dry before I mess it up, I get the benefit of using my dominant hand for everything, and I get to do it on a flat surface and not worry about coloring outside the lines. It’s almost too good to be true.


DIY Nail Art Tools

DIY Nail Art Tools

DIY Nail Art Tools

As firmly on record as I am with not obsessing about the condition of my nails, I’m also not immune from pretty things. And when I feel so inclined, it’s a really nice treat to have my nails looking pretty. But because of, you know, life, I can’t spend a lot of time making my nails pretty. So I’ve been paying attention to how to get great results in the easiest way. For today, it’s nail tools. The pros and the artists use professional quality tools. There are dotters and liners and all kinds of special nail art brushes out there. But I don’t want to pay for specific tools when I barely do my nails, and when I have tried a brush I was frustrated that I could never get the nail polish out. One use and a brush felt like a brick.

Here’s my perfect solution: disposable, do it yourself nail art tools. Nearly free so you don’t need to worry about tossing it or making another if you want to switch up your colors.

Nail Art Tool Step 1
Snip off a tiny amount of hair. I mean tiny. A bang trim is more than you’ll need in length and depending on how thick you want to make your brush you really only need a few hairs. Liner brushes should be a bit longer and thinner, painting brushes should be a bit shorter and fatter.

Nail Art Tool Step 2
Rip off a piece of duct tape, about 3 inches long. Tape your hair snips to the very corner of one end.

Nail Art Tool Step 3
Then roll it up to make your handle. Give your brush a trim if you have any wayward hairs or to create the effect you want.

Nail Art Tools
If you want to make dots, all you need is a dull pencil. The size of the dot changes based on how much paint you have on the brush. Between your little disposable brushes and items you can find around the house, there’s no need to spend money on tools.


Project Put Together: Best Eyeliner

Loreal Lacquer Liner

Loreal Lacquer Liner

I have a well-documented obsession with eyeliner. It’s the single product that makes the largest difference in how I look. Some people never leave the house without mascara, some will always go for a lip gloss, for me, it’s eyeliner.¬†I only put on makeup a couple days a week because I don’t like putting in the time. So when I do feel the need, I have to know what is worth¬†the effort.

Having tried so many different eyeliners in so many different formats – liquid, pencil, gel – this is my current favorite. And best of all it’s just a drug store brand. Loreal Lacquer Liner. It’s a nice thick consistency with a good deep color, but what I like the best about it is its staying power. I put this on in the morning and if left alone I’ll still see traces of it 36 hours later. Since my eyes have a chronic problem with keeping makeup in place, that’s kind of a miracle to me.


What I’m reading: Traveling Mercies

Traveling Mercies

It’s been a challenge to make time for reading in my already overpacked life, but it’s something that has fed and sustained me my whole life long. I can’t afford to abandon it. It’s just so hard since it’s the one thing I do that I can’t multitask. Even my knitting is done while listening to a podcast or watching TV.

But I’m going to do it. Thus: that goal over there in the sidebar. One book a week.

The first book I’ve finished this year I wanted to give special mention to, most books won’t get their own post, but I had to mention this one because I think it’s my current favorite. I’m so not the type to rank favorite movies or books or whatever, but for right now, this book has my heart.

Anne Lamott is my kind of lady, my kind of Christian, my kind of writer. Whenever I read a book of hers I want to write a whole book back in response. There’s something so relatable about her that her books seem more like a conversation than an expert spouting off from their enlightened sphere. And when she writes about Recovery or Faith, it’s the kind that resonates with me – not some holy untouched thing, but something worn and used and ragged. Her faith is a faith that isn’t about having the right answer to the big questions, but about just being sensitive. “I had no big theological thoughts but had discovered that if I said, Hello? to God, I could feel God say, Hello, back.”

I deal so much with people who are convinced that they are RIGHT, and want to discuss why they are RIGHT and how they are RIGHT, that reading something from someone who is content with the mystery of it all is like discovering a freshly made bed after a long hard travel. People of faith are supposed to not have answers for everything, that’s how faith works, and yet it’s more rare than you’d think to find someone who actually lives that way. “This is plenty of miracle for me to rest in now.”


How to stop mascara smudging under your eyes

How to stop mascara from smudging under your eyes

How to stop mascara from smudging

You may have noticed that most of my makeup posts in this little Project Put Together series revolve around eyeliner and mascara. As a freckleface I don’t do much for the rest of my skin, but it’s my eyes that have always caused me frustration when doing my makeup. Dark circles, puffiness, and fleshy eyelids mean that this is where I spend all of my makeup time. But since I have what the makeup pros call “oily eyes” and also what the ophthalmologists call “too small tear ducts,” all of that makeup regularly ends up rubbing off or running down my face. My dark circles are regularly compounded by smeared mascara and eyeliner.

Setting mascara step 1
So here’s how to stop mascara from smudging under your eyes: powder. You need a blotting powder or some other kind of powder that dries translucent. You don’t want your eyelashes to be the same color as your skin, so nothing with a color to it.

Setting mascara Step 2
Use a small powder brush – something you’d use for eyeshadow application, but make sure it’s clean – and dip it into the translucent powder. I like to go really light and apply a few coats, to make sure that I don’t get goopy or take away from the dark color I’m relying on the mascara and eyeliner to give me. Brush the powder on everywhere you’ve put makeup, making sure to get the tips of the lashes that come in contact with the rest of your skin.

I’ve had it recommended to me to use a setting or finishing spray on top of this, but I have yet to try it out myself. I’ll be sure and report back when I do.