a letter to mrs. gray

Dear Mrs. Gray,

You don't know me, but I wanted to write you a letter.

My family and I are from Southern California, but we were visiting Utah last week for Thanksgiving. Last Sunday night we were trying to drive from Salt Lake to Park City, where we were staying with friends. A snow storm had blown in and the highway had several inches of snow by the time we made our way up the hill to Park City. The snow plows had not yet made their way to our stretch of highway and quickly we realized we were in trouble. Our California tires were no match for the snow and of course we didn't have chains. We were following in the tire tracks of a big semi for a while, and so we were making progress up Parley's Summit, but then our semi got stuck and we quickly came to a stop. Once stopped we couldn't get the car moving again. There were cars all around us who were also getting stuck. If you didn't have four wheel drive or some really good snow tires, you were out of luck. We thought we would have to wait a few hours until the snow plows came through and then have someone tow us into the plowed path. It was getting late, and our kids were tired and ready for bed.

You might wonder why I am telling you this story, but at this point your son Ben came to our rescue. He was driving behind us in a red pick up truck and when my husband got out to see how badly we were stuck, he asked if we needed help. Your son tried to give our bumper a push but we just got stuck again, the tires spinning and spinning. He could have just driven around us and been on his way like the hundreds of other cars, but your son pulled his truck in front of ours and grabbed a strap out of the back and tied our front bumber to the back of his truck. And then he pulled us ever so slowly up to the summit. Once we got to the top, he untied the strap (we were worried about braking on our way downhill and didn't want to slide into his truck). But then he offered to follow us all the way down the hill to our exit in Park City, to make sure we didn't get stuck again.

And so I wanted to write and tell you about your son, and the kindness he showed my family. I'm guessing, in typical teenage fashion, that he didn't tell you what had happened that night. I'm betting he just came home and mentioned the storm in passing on his way to the fridge to grab a snack. 

But I wanted to make sure you knew, and to thank you for raising the type of boy who would stop to help a stranger, even when it delayed his drive home by an hour or so on a dark and snowy night. My family and I are so grateful.

Brooke Reynolds and family


happy thanksgiving

I'll be away on vacation all next week and I'm afraid I won't be able to post while I'm away. I'm looking forward to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with my family, a fall leaf or two, and maybe even a little snow. We'll keep our fingers crossed. Happy Thanksgiving!

photo by the lovely Anna Williams


this week's library book

If you haven't discovered Virgina Lee Burton yet, you are sadly missing out. I adore everything she ever illustrated including Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Maybelle the Cable Car, and Katy and the Big Snow. But my favorite of all her lovely books is The Little House (winner of the Caldecott medal in 1942) when Virginia was 33 years old.

This sweet book tells the story of a happy little house who lives out in the country. She watches the seasons change and the trees grow and takes care of the little family that lives inside. There is a city far off on the horizon and sometimes she wonders what it would be like to live in the city.

Over time, the little house notices that more and more cars are driving by and soon a steam shovel is widening the road so more and more cars can get to the big city. The little house misses her quiet meadows. The city that was once far away seems to be getting closer and closer.

And before she knows it, the meadows and fields by the little house have been replaced with tall buildings and city streets. Now that she lives in the big city, she realizes she does not like it one bit. One day a woman walks by the little house and says "This looks just like the house my grandfather lived in, but it was way out in the country." Upon further research she realizes that the little house is indeed the same.

So they rescue the little house, still sturdy as ever, and drive her back out to the country. "As the little house settled down on her new foundation, she smiled happily. Once again she could watch the sun and moon and stars. Once again she could watch Spring and Summer and Fall and Winter come and go."


lovely lovely

About three years ago I was freelancing on a color palette story for Martha Stewart Weddings. We needed some paper goods and the stylist, the uber-talented Shana Faust, sent a query to Sharilyn of lovelydesign asking if she might have anything we could use. Sharilyn sent us a package that had us swooning and in it she included one of her wooden card catalogs. Everyone in the office wanted one. So when my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday that year, I knew. And I have had Sharilyn's beautiful card catalog sitting on my desk ever since.

Sharilyn has now started selling little packs of cards to add to your card catalog, she designs the patterns herself. She did a little giveaway on her blog and lo and behold, I was one of the winners! Soon after this sweet package arrived at my door.

I love them. I don't usually talk about products on my blog, I try to keep things as commercial free as I can... but when I see a product that is made with so much care, I just wanted to tip my hat a bit. Thank you for my cards Sharilyn.. I love them!


wrapping things up

I'm wrapping up my week at Design*Sponge with two posts: one on ABC wrapping ideas, and the other a downloadable ABC card you can make yourself. I'll be back to business as usual here on Monday!



I'll be hosting the guest blog over at design*sponge all this week. The theme for the week is one of my favorite things - the ABC's. I hope you'll join me.


halloween 2009

When my kids were little, I could always talk them into the Halloween costumes I wanted (which usually involved a cute part for Dad to play as well). But they're getting older, and who knew a 3 year old and 5 year old whould have such strong opinions! So although they already dressed up as Peter Pan a few years back, the kids had their hearts set on being characters from Peter Pan yet again. And the characters they chose made both my husband and I laugh. C wanted to be the crocodile, and Bee wanted to be Captain Hook. How could I object?

Luckily we still had a set of green pajamas that C could wear for his crocodile costume. Props to my husband for engineering the crocodile mouth, we always work on these costumes together and to be honest, he's really the brains behind the operation. The stuffed snout has a wire hanger sewn inside and is attached to a baseball cap so C could wear it like a hat. Add some crocodile eyes and some teeth, and you're all set.

For Bee's Captain Hook costume, we already had the perfect red coat and the black wig (from when her dad was Captain Hook). I turned her pink pajama pants inside out, added a feather to a pirate hat, and fashioned a belt out of felt to house her sword. Bee spent the night yelling things like "Wendy! Walk the plank!" or "I'll get that Peter Pan!" and correcting people who called her a pirate, "Um, I'm not just a pirate, I'm Captain Hook!" For Bee, Halloween is very serious business.

Another Halloween come and gone. Last night the kids were already brainstorming costumes for next year. "I'll be Willy Wonka and you can be Charlie!" "You be James and I'll be the Giant Peach!" I can't wait to see what they come up with next.


a homemade halloween

I was asking my son C last night as I tucked him into bed which holiday is better: Christmas or Halloween? Such a tough choice for a kid. Halloween was always second to Christmas in my book, but not by much.

Now that I have children of my own, I love coming up with their costumes each year. Like my mom did when I was little, I try to find things we already have around the house that can be transformed into costumes. Or if we do buy something, I try to make it something we can use after Halloween. Here are a few of our costumes over the years.

2004: tiny blazer + red ribbon shaped into a bow tie + doll wig = ventriloquist dummy


2005: C: long sleeved onesie + white tights + white bonnet + felt wings = Hedwig the owl

Dad: black graduation robe (he'd just gotten his master's degree) + Hogwarts sticker = Harry Potter


2006: C: brown long sleeved pajamas + brown hat + brown sock tail = Curious George

Bee: white long sleeved onsesie + yellow felt + Chiquita sticker = banana

Dad: yellow shirt + yellow pants + very tall yellow hat = the man in the yellow hat


2007: C: green long sleeved pajamas + green felt hat = Peter Pan

Bee: borrowed costume + homemade wings = Tinkerbell

Dad: red velvet pants + white ruffled shirt + long coat + black wig = Captain Hook


2008: Bee: denim skirt + blue shirt + white tights + cape = Super Bee

C: blue pants + red shirt + cape = Super C


We'll share 2009's costumes tomorrow! We've got too much going on today between cookie decorating, pumpkin carving, soccer games, and trick-or-treating with the cousins. Happy Halloween!



small flat box + happy birthday sticker + mini gumballs = my kind of birthday card


it's raining, it's pouring

We live in Southern California. Sunny Southern California. And I love it, really I do. But when October comes around and it's still 90 degrees and you've worn flip flops for 8 months in a row, I start to get a little homesick for Fall. Beautiful, crisp, lovely Fall.

When I saw the forecast this week called for rain, I was secretly excited. Rain! And temperatures below 70! I may not have the brisk autumn chill of New York, or the beautiful trees that lined our block in Brooklyn with their orange and yellow leaves... but I do have a little rain. And a reason to wear jeans, and close toed shoes, and maybe even a sweater!

And a three year old so thrilled she can finally fit into her ladybug rain boots that she actually danced her way through the puddles in our backyard all afternoon. Bring on the pumpkins and the apple cider, Fall has arrived!