1 year ago

Christmas 2016 Svell year-in-review

Heyyy. Thought I’d do a final post for 2016. Maybe throw in a Christmas card. A digital card, of course. I’m still wallowing in turmoil over postage and paper waste by sending a physical card via the actual USPS. Which is ludicrous because 1. I use disposable diapers. and 2. the recycle truck can’t even make it out to our area so what am I even trifling about. But that’s how I do things: micro.

Lord Business and all that.

K, so year in review?

To sum up (apologies for using Instagram as my photo crutch):

1. I got sick and couldn’t walk/sleep/do much. 

2. Was temporarily cured for one week with a dose of steroids and pain medication that coincided with our first family vacation.

3. Emmett, our sweet 5 year old with autism,  learned to go potty ON the potty and is now completely self sufficient. Something we did not think would happen for a very long time.

4. Craig and I welcomed our nephew and first Godson to the world. (My baby brother and his wife Jenn had their first baby).

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

5. We began year two of homeschool.

6.  I was diagnosed with a funny-sounding degenerative autoimmune disease called ankylosing spondylitis. (more about that in this post)

7. We chose a medication path that has totally turned my symptoms around, and now I can run, if I have to, but more importantly, I can carry my children again. 6 months ago, I had to be carried up the stairs.


8. I opened my own business on Etsy selling prints of my hand drawn/painted illustrations and lettering. I am overwhelmed at the warmth I have received from everyone’s encouragement and sharing on social media.

property of Carolyn Svellinger

9. Craig got more handsome, if that’s even possible. He did, guys.

Photo by Corynne Olivia Photography
Photo by Corynne Olivia Photography

So, yeah. All of that, and then Trump blew my brains and guts everywhere by winning the presidency. It’s fine, guys. Sorry! Political turnoffs! I don’t know what I thought would happen, because I didn’t favor either party, but boy, that was …exciting? As with every president who serves our nation, prayers abound for our leader, everyone on the team, and our beautiful America.

Photo by Corynne Olivia Photo, graphics by Brass & Mint Co.
Photo by Corynne Olivia Photo, lettering by Brass & Mint Co.


I hope everyone has a magical Christmas in a warm, hearth-y place, and I wish every single one of you –yes, even you there– a happy new 2017.

Talk soon!

1 year ago

7qt october 2016

7 quick (ish) takes of the life of a Svell this Friday:


We are well into year 2 of homeschooling and IT. IS. NOT. EASY.  The difficult parts, however, aren’t in the educating of my boys, but in working around the wailings/climbings/needings of Jude and then of Collin (who is mostly a happy participant, but sometimes not.).

 Jude is cutting his naps down to one 30 minute snooze, and then waking up to continue his day in a cranky manner –and it’s bullcrap, Jude!

 It’s enough time for me to come downstairs and blink vexedly at my cold cup of coffee with three dead gnats floating in it and that’s it. The day lives or dies based on whether Jude naps, so I’ve got to recalibrate because I am just not pleasant, and even Jude knows it: he has learned from observation how to frown and will now do it on command.  

Damage managed. 


I know that signing my boys up for regular school wouldn’t be better. It’d be worse for me, in my opinion. Not only would I have to maintain a set schedule, I’d have to adhere to it with the wailings/climbings/needings of Jude and Collin. And THEN! I’d have to talk! to teachers! and deal!! with fundraisers and unnecessary soul-sucking!!! activities!!!! which aren’t made in consideration of a family of more than one or two kids, nor of a child with special needs, nor of a mom suffering health ailments. And then they’d get home …with homework of all things! and there we’d be again. 

So. It’s just a phase. It will be over soon. Yeah, it’s just a–

 P H A  S  E.


I can officially say that Emmett is fully potty trained. I cancelled his last diaper shipment early September and his remaining half pack of diapers is still untouched. 

The first day of autumn came and I was struck with a vague prayer memory which I had mentally barked out to God while scrubbing the carpet one early spring day; I’d prayed in a frustrated desperation to have him out of diapers by the end of the summer, knowing for sure it wasn’t going to happen. Telling myself it could be years. I found it easier to cope with by preparing for a really long haul. 

We have been gradually working with Emmett for probably a year or more, but started strongly encouraging him by the spring. It has not been easy– I say again, N O T.  E A S Y. 

For weeks, the days consisted of multiple daily baths for Emmett. Lots of scrubbing clothes in scalding hot water.  We’d go through three or four outfits in a day even with a larger sized diaper which by then I had an auto-ship subscription from Amazon. 

And then Emmett suddenly understood what he was supposed to do, but didn’t like to sit on the toilet, and also didn’t like to go in his diaper. So he was holding it in all day –I’m not exaggerating. We worried, knowing surely Emmett was suffering stomach aches and a bulging bladder.  We went through a brief enough accident trial– the one a parent typically experiences with their 3 year old, except Emmett is five and a half and holding it in for up to 12 hours renders the accident worse in every way one might imagine. We managed a road trip to Florida in the middle of potty training, and our family got a dose of one of the accidents right in the middle of the kitchen. 

–BUT it’s done, and I can’t believe it, and glory to God, the One who listens to half-hearted prayer-barkings from a tired mother, and instead of saying “you didn’t say please” bestows His mercy.  


I only have one diaper wearing person in the house now! It’s been 6 years since I’ve had that pleasure. Where’s my plaque? 

         -DIAPERING –


…or something far wittier than that -I can’t do it all!


I tried stitchfix for the first time last week. I opened the box in excitement, examined each article in devastation and then burst into tears, promptly stuffing everything into the return bag and feeling ridiculous about crying about it. 

I am %100 sure this reaction is actually a result of the few weeks of parenting fun I’ve been having, plus I am still having trouble with my AS. The dumb looming phantom of the year. 

It’s true, the clothes were all made completely of rayon (I specified cotton! B*tchy first-world-problems voice!) and though they looked like they were pulled from the racks of Target with a teenager in mind (I linked to my Pinterest board!), they were priced triple the amount. (No exaggeration. TRIPLE. $80 for something I might pay $20 for.)

I’ll just stick to Target prices and online shopping, then, thanks. Or maybe I’ll try Stitckfix another time, when I’m not so emotionally prickly and hinging my happiness on a mystery bag of clothes. 


Even before we suspected Autism in Emmett, we recognized his love for music. Before he said his first sentence, maybe even before he said his first word, he was singing. 

Fast forward to today and currently Emmett is enamored with Coldplay. And I won’t tell you I’m not in love with that because it’s a life goal of mine to get to another concert before the group stops touring. Their concerts are nothing other than magical. 

Emmett tinkers on the piano and I’ve shown him some pathetic attempts to play simple chords along to some of his favorite Coldplay songs which I’ve learned via YouTube. 

Craig and I believe there’s a chance Emmett would absolutely explode in creative expression if given the right instruction musically– neither of us are educated on the subject. Maybe Craig is a little more than I. I know what I do from YouTube University. 

It’s only just occurred to me to allow Emmett to watch people making music –and something other than nursery rhymes. Why do they think we all like nursery rhymes!? We’ve been letting him listen, and then we’ve been sitting with him at the piano, we started formal lessons with him last week. 

But connect the two, you idiot! 

For some reason I find videos of live performances really annoying.  And that’s probably why I never thought about it until now. 


Monday, I sat with him and said, “Emmett.  Let’s watch Coldplay. This is Chris Martin. Hi Chris Martin! Chris Martin sings your songs, Emmett. Chris Martin sings your Coldplay songs. Chris Martin makes your songs with a piano”

(When introducing a new concept, I rearrange sentences in verbal communication a few different ways for Emmett to get a grasp on the message, and give him a prolonged moment to think about what I’ve just told him.)

I played Emmett’s recent favorite Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall from a concert in Paris on YouTube. As it began, I watched Emmett closely. 

Here’s the link if you’re interested: [ Coldplay Paris ] It’s actually pretty moving viewing it after the Paris attack.

He smiled. 

When the camera focused in on Chris Martin, and there was no doubt that the sounds coming from his mouth were the lyrics and that this was in fact the voice Emmett knows and loves so much, his excitement was a heartbreaking loveliness to me. 

Emmett smiled as Martin played the piano to a song he goes to sleep humming, and wakes up with -still on his lips. 

“Chris Martin! Chris Martin sings it! It’s COLDPLAY!” Emmett burst out, thrusting his hands in the air with his signature stimming expression. 

I couldn’t even sing along at this point, I was so choked up, but I listened, completely taken by the privilege of watching this connection happening. 

I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere beyond simply enjoying good music, for Emmett. Maybe he’ll pick up piano, maybe not. 

 I am so so so happy that he has a wonderful thing to enjoy in his life, something that we can share with him in enjoyment. 
And right there, folks, is where that good stuff lies. Not in a bag of new clothes. 


1 year ago

Hi. {My Etsy shop is O P E N.}

Hi.  Here’s the post I wrote last week that I never published because I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I’m over it, and it’s just what I do.


” Linking up with Kelly for a long overdue 7 Quick Takes (Hi Kelly!) <3

I’m here.

  1. I’m taking Enbrel. I’m functioning.
  2. Emmett is on week three of underwear, no accidents. (This actually deserves it’s own post but I’m le tired.)
  3. We start year two of homeschool next week.
  4. Lexington will be in first grade.
  5. Emmett will be in Kindergarten.
  6. Collin will be in preschool (though only because he sits with us anyway.)
  7. Jude will be wallowing/blundering/thundering/warbling here amongst us as well. He has all 4 top teeth coming in right now so that’s a jolly good time.
  8. I open Brass & Mint co. for business on Etsy September 9th.









…it is.


Here’s the link to my Etsy shop.  It’s alive, it’s aliiive!  >>> http://www.etsy.com/shop/BrassAndMintCo <<<

Hang me in your home!
Hang me in your home!

Here’s the part where I stand at the podium and do that droning about the people who helped me come all this way. But wait! Here’s why it’s important for everyone to read: because it’s about being kind.

When Craig started talking seriously with me about selling my work, I reached out to my blogging community for advice on how to run a business online, on how to blog better, on everything. I did not know how to get my tangible art work to a place where I could improve it, make it a digital entity, send it to print, and hold it in my hand, proud of the quality of it in every aspect.

It seems simple, but there’s a lot more to it than just scanning and clicking a Print button. There was a lot of nonsense about “digitization” and “vectorizing” which gave me bad headache for many, many a moon. And since I only ever took an intro to digital media class in college because I was all “fine” and “artsy” with my great many pencils and my lovely papers and enormous art boards I was hauling around all the time, this stuff was hard for my mind to bend around. It was like hammering hot iron, which I have done before, and… it’s a workout. And there they were, the whole time, those digital art kids, with a little laptop containing the keys to the kingdom of arts, just sashaying through campus just because they could. I’m not bitter in hindsight, not at all. I love that I always take the difficult road. I’m dumb like that.

People are busy, and there’s a lot to learn, overwhelmingly, a lot.  The people who took the moments out of their day to respond to my emails or text messages to say “here’s how I did it, here are links, are you connected with xyz group?”, or even “how is it going?” really just blew my mind. They gave freely the knowledge they likely had to stand and bang their heads against a wall (or a keyboard) to obtain. Their advice helped me to develop my own ideas more fully. Katrina, Heather, and, Erica: thank you for your encouragement and help.  You gals are A+ peeps.
Also: A very long time ago, I posted a “contribute” button on my blog to raise money so that I could host my own blog, with the eventual goal of opening a business.  At that time, we suffered financial struggles– we actually didn’t give our kids Christmas gifts that year (it was Lexington and Baby Emmett). There were people who contributed. I raised just enough to purchase what I needed to start this blog.  I know who you are- thank you for helping me make a dream into a reality.

That’s it for now.  Come to my Etsy shop. Share it with your people. I’ve got great plans and lots of work to do!
Hug your loved ones this 9/11 weekend.



3 years ago

Freebie Friday (On a Saturday!) at the Svellerella

Hi there.


This is like so short I feel like a cheater 7QT-ing it, but Jen’s slacking off too, so Imma do it anyway.


In case you missed the fun, Bonnie hosted a fun blog hop this week and was sweet enough to include me in a group of ladies who all shared how we welcome Autumn into our homes.    My post is here, and if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll find the links to all the ladies who participated.  I’ll just tell you right now, if you start at my post, they only get better from there.


For as little as I decorate, I’m still feeling spry and fallish— but as noted in my previous post, for me that means baking and sketching.  Which is good for two groups of people.  When I bake, visitors to our home usually reap the pastry benefits.  I baked a little this week for Craig’s birthday, and there’s more celebrating to be had this weekend, especially as he worked a long day and we were all fast asleep by the time he got home.


When I sketch, I have decided YOU shall to reap the benefits of the scribbz, if you’d like. If you want.  On special occasion.  Aka, when I feel like it. Aka, today’s the day because the boys gave me a few minutes to scribble out some left over fallspiration. Then they helped themselves to my markers, and covered their hands in purple and red which appear shocking and gory to the flitting eyeball.


I’m slowly delving into selling my graphic design slash illustration work.  A small example may be found here.  More examples of my artistic styles are laced into Instagram. BUT I figured, if I don’t also share here, how on earth am I going to get the word out?  So, I’ll be doing this more frequently, God willing.  And yes, it’s an act of God, because see #4.


So as a token of my love for you as readers and likers of my blog, below is a free, printable PDF to hang, or not to hang in your house, to matte and send to a friend, to just keep on your phone to take up space, to print out and let your child chew on it so you can start dinner. or whatever.
I didn’t think people actually printed out printables, but I think I’m wrong.


Here you go!  Happy weekend, happy fall, much love to yas all.

Autumn leaves heart CAS-1

>>>>Click here to download your free, C. Svell illustration. hootie hoo.