Frame Your Story



Not my house. Obviously.

If you’re not impressed by cheap inexpensive affordable art, I’ve got a couple of higher end recommendations, both on my wish list.

First: frames by Saw & Mitre. Earlier this year my friend’s husband resigned from his corporate job to start his own business, combining his two passions for photography and working with his hands. (“He was a carpenter, and I just figured if you’re going to follow in someone’s footsteps, who better than Christ?” Name that movie!)

Order from Saw & Mitre Frame Co., and Dave will create a beautiful, gallery quality frame to display your photo. And it will last forever, so you can switch out photos in the future—just like an art gallery!—if, say, your photog skills improve and/or your decor needs a change.

We got to chat with Dave at a friend’s wedding recently, and it was so interesting and inspiring to hear how the business is going. Already he’s connecting with some of his photography heroes, learning, and adding to the products and services Saw & Mitre offers. I asked him if my iPhone/instagram pictures would be good enough for these frames. I don’t think he answered directly (very diplomatic) . . . but he is offering wood and metal frames in smaller square sizes now!

I’m not much of a photographer, but I love following Dave’s story on his blog, and I really love the Saw & Mitre instagram account, which is inspiring on the regular. This one really got me, along with Dave’s question: “How will my grandchildren discover and see photos of me when I’m long gone? Will it be a Google Image search? Will they find an old hard drive that (hopefully) still works? I sure hope not. #printyourwork” How right he is.

Second: textiles from St. Frank. An acquaintance from college is the dynamo behind this lovely company that sells beautiful framed textiles (and now pillows!) made by artisans around the world. Of course, my favorite would be the Otomi from Mexico . . . too bad Christina didn’t have the advantage of Mama Ortega’s bargaining!

It’s really fun to look through their Tastemakers posts and Collectors pictures to see the art in place in stunning, fabulous rooms. Also, if you’re needing more Pinterest inspiration, check out their account. My favorite board is Global Chic. Or Salon Walls. OK, also, shout outs to St. Frank’s Passport to Mexico, and Saintly Blue and White. Just check it all out.

You are dismissed. Go find something beautiful in your day.

(Not sponsored; just love ‘em.)

P.S. The story of acquiring Otomi for the girls’ room here at the end of the post; and if I were forced to choose, maybe I’d use one of the photos from here or here in a Saw & Mitre frame.

P.P.S. Two of soccer’s most iconic photographs.

Sunday Finest (or, Being a Good Mom for Dummies)


I love talking to other parents and reading blogs and seeing baby pictures and the sweet things people do to record memories. There are tons of great ideas—a line a day journals for baby’s first year, special photo albums, onesies with the months numbered, pictures of baby sitting in the same bucket each month til he’s too big for it, then eventually carrying it around and being precious. This dad’s time lapse video of his daughter from birth til 12 years old  is incredible . . . he wins!

But with all that beautiful creativity comes the inevitable guilt. I should be doing these things! I’m missing the memories! My advice if you want to do something like this is to choose one or two simple items that will be easy for you to do (and remember to do), and then don’t worry about it anymore. You’re not going to out-do the Dutch guy’s time lapse video.

Incredibly, we stumbled upon something that works for us and I think is pretty awesome: Sunday finest. The first few weeks of Mary Tobin’s life, I happened to email or text a “Sunday picture” to the grandmas and aunts, since Mary Tobin was wearing some sweet church dress, or Santa outfit, or at least a huge bow. (That was the time when people were asking for pictures every day, but I’m a slacker, so at least they knew they could count on Sunday.) At some point, Israel and I made a decision that we’d try to get a decent picture to share once a week, on Sunday; and at the end of her first year, we made a photo book for the grandparents.

This simple system works so well and makes me feel like such a good mom, that we continued into year two! And I decided to streamline even further: now all the Sunday pictures are on Instagram, which saves me from trying to organize a folder on my computer, downloading or uploading to the right place, etc. (So, take heart! Whatever family traditions you start can be adjusted, amended, nixed later. Just make it work, people.) Now that Mary Tobin’s cousins have arrived, they’ve been joining in the fun with their own version: #multiplesmonday!

If you follow me on Instagram, you can rely on #sundayfinest, at least for now. When Bebe Dos arrives, should she get something different? Should we try to get both girls in the pic every week? Oh the pressure . . . except the whole point of doing it this way was to take off the pressure . . .

These photos are great triggers for memories, but I do wish I had a better method for writing down snippets of every day life. (Watch out, blog readers—this may affect you!) Do you have any ideas on that score?

Finally, a disclaimer: the above “Ignoring the paparazzi” photo garnered maybe my most “likes” ever on Instagram. I won’t lie, social media affirmation is fun and feels great. But that day we were in the middle of dealing with some kind of sleep regression . . . I’ve blocked out the details . . . all three Ortegas were crabby, to put it mildly, and I remember thinking that I’d sure as heck trade those “likes” for some peace in real life. So remember, Real Life > Online.

All Things Bright and Beautiful

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Here are some shots of Mary Tobin and her dear abuela from a few weeks ago, when we made our first trip to Cholula, Mexico where my suegros [in-laws] have a house.

Cholula indeed was beautiful, and full of the bright colors that I love. In these pictures outside of Santa Maria Tonantzintla on our first day there, we asked “Donde esta Mary Tobin?” or “Where’s Mary Tobin?” to get her to smile and be playful for the camera.

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Dientes?” “Teeth?”—another of my photo tricks.

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Thinking . . .

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There she is!

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By the end of the week, all she would’ve needed to smile was to see Abuela. They were best buds. Abuela taught her to wipe her nose and throw away the tissues, waving bye-bye boogies and/or adios, moquitos! They smelled socks (don’t ask), played with osito [bear], and dissolved into fits of giggles in the early mornings.

I’m planning some posts for the coming weeks with pictures, stories, tips, etc. from our Cholula trip, as well as some of our recent and not so recent travels that I never got around to blogging. So check back if you’re interested.

Hope your weekend is bright and beautiful! I anticipate Mary Tobin will go bonkers with excitement this weekend: Tia Raquel is coming to town, and tomorrow we’re going to the zoo [!!!!].

Tips from Ash: the Danes+Travel+Memories

In case you missed it, read part 1 in which we learned, among other things, that “no one overdoes it” in Denmark, style-wise . . . and therefore we’re doomed. Before even arriving in Europe, simply by posting this, I’m already trying too hard. Ah, well.

Ashley Tuite is helping us out with some advice for our trip to Copenhagen, and for traveling in general. This girl has been around the block—and I mean that in the most positive sense—so listen well! Take it away, homeslice…

just the Tuites hanging out in Santorini

Do you have any tips for dealing with “the natives” wherever you’re headed? Did you learn to say hello, goodbye, thank you in each language? What has been most helpful, or has it varied from place to place?

Honestly, since we have traveled so much this year, I haven’t had a ton of time to prepare for each trip as well as I’d hoped. I usually have the flights, hotel, rental car (if necessary), main attractions and restaurants down. We do always learn how to say “thank you” which goes a long way.

Lucky for you, I do know a little about the Danes and can prep you.

Hello is “hej” (pronounced “hi” with the emphasis on the “i”).

Goodbye is “hej hej” (pronounced “hi hi”). True story.

Thank you is “tak” (pronounced “tock”, but I often hear it casually pronounced as “tack”).

Everyone will be over the top nice, once you speak to them. If you pass someone on the street, they will definitely not look at you or smile or say hello and they might not even move over if you are walking in their way. So, watch out for that. But, you will notice that everyone will be very friendly to you once you engage in conversation.

Also, all Danes speaks perfect English with a cute, peppy, cheerful accent. Don’t ask cashiers or even random people you’re speaking with if they speak English. Of course they do, why would you even ask such a thing?

Thanks, homes! I love all this practical advice. And THANK YOU for telling me not to ask the Danes if they speak English. Faux pas averted.

OK. So, when you arrive in a new city, how do you decide where to go and what to do? We watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, and it seems like he usually goes to the local market first.

Goodness. You have better ideas than I do. Love the idea of following Anthony Bourdain through Europe. And, I totally agree with him about the markets. I’m about to do a few market posts on my blog – I’m crazy about the Euro markets.

We usually follow tripadvisor’s advice. We have not had a bad experience following their reviews yet. While they can err on the touristy side, it’s a great resource for a few days in a city and will absolutely put you in better places than if you simply walked around and found a restaurant or followed the city tour bus’s route (which most people do!).

You’ve done an outstanding job of recording your travels through your pictures and blog. Any advice on that, or on how to balance experiencing and enjoying with recording and remembering?

Thanks homes! I am so glad I’ve documented our travels. While at times I would have rather written about other happenings in the world or in our lives, I already love having the recorded memories to flip through on a rainy day.

In terms of balancing experiencing with remembering, I think you can easily do both. I took my camera with me everywhere and tried to document a lot of our travels. It’s a fun and easy way to remember what you’ve seen. At night, I jot down a brief outline of the things we did that day. It helps me remember what we did on action packed trips so I can blog about it later rather than miss out on the experience at the time.

So what’s your favorite blog post that you’ve done this year? Was it on the favorite place you visited, or do those not correlate?

That’s tough. I think my favorites are:

Our favorite memories have not been specifically seeing a beautiful new place or exploring something exotic (though those have been great). It’s been the times where we have really connected with a culture or have shared an experience with friends or family. We have loved living in Europe but it’s definitely caused us to hold tightly to what’s most important.

So, on that note: get here!

Hooray! Turn on the hyggelige for us! For the record, the Eiffel Tower post was also one of my favorites. Cracked me up. Thanks for sharing your rockstar self with the world! See you soon!

(!!!) [I promise to be better at playing it cool during our visit. Glad to see you out, homes.]

Oh, Lucy

My husband speaks English fluently. (Though, when we started dating a good friend of mine thought he didn’t, that he was a maintenance guy in my building or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! That friend shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty. Plus it’s probably my fault for ceaselessly calling him my Latin Lover.) Nevertheless, he sometimes has endearing ESL mishaps, the most famous of which is referring to “the bloody nose seats” instead of the nosebleed section.

Mexico City, 2008

Certainly more humorous are my forays into Spanish. And even more, my dad’s, who when visiting our Spanish-speaking church and is welcomed in front of the congregation says “Vaya con Dios!” (go with God)—which according to him is preferable to the other Spanish phrases that come quickly to his mind: curses picked up on the soccer field. Even more preferable would be a simple smile and head nod or wave. (Love you, Dad!)

So while language confusion and lost-in-translation hijinx have always been a recipe for laughs (much like cross-dressing), I find these situations even funnier now. And I cringe more, because I understand the humiliation.

I’m not alone. This recap of an I Love Lucy episode, by another gringa married to a latino, made me smile! Surely Israel and I aren’t as bad as Lucy and Ricky. He doesn’t resort to calling me names in Spanish during an argument. He did laugh at me though, when I practiced my Spanish by asking a waiter on our honeymoon whether Shakira had actually stayed at that same hotel.

Me, with terrible accent: ¿Es verdad que Shakira vino aquí?

Waiter: Sí.

Me: [Silence. Red face.]

No help or intervention from Israel. Laughter. Total immersion is his policy.

Ay yay yay.

Back to Lucy: at the National Portrait Gallery in DC, you can see Lucy (and others you’re accustomed to viewing in black and white) in color. Click for the slideshow of the exhibit “In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits From the Harry Warnecke Studio.” When you see Warnecke’s color photos from an era before the technology was widely used, you realize that your mind has been operating on the belief that people such as baseball great Ted Williams lived in a black and white world. They seem fake to me in color. And this reviewer believes I Love Lucy wouldn’t have been as funny in color. Would you agree? Do you love Lucy?

“Lucy, you cannot be in the show.”

“But Ricky…!”

Ésta pelirroja está loca.”

“And don’t jabber at me in a foreign tongue!”