the cycle of grace

For years now, not just when a new year rolls around and it seems right to "set some resolutions." But, as something consistently on my mind is the feeling of finding more purpose or fulfillment (or whatever the right word might be) in this life. I can't say it's completely a feeling of yearning for increased happiness as I have been incredibly blessed. But, for a long time now there is a yearning to get more out of this life I have been given.

I didn't legitimately ponder what I might do to find what I felt was missing or what was maybe there, but not present in a large enough part of my daily life until near the end of last year. I opened up "notes" on my phone and started a random list of things that I had been wanting to do, but never devoted the time. A bucket list of sorts. Not things like "travel to New Zealand" although that is something I'd like to do. This list contained thoughts like "learn to play piano again, read more, do charitable work, wear lipstick, edit my home and closet, cook, be more patient."

The first note on the list, "get more out of each day - less sleep" pretty much summed up my initial thoughts on how I might find more fulfillment... If I do more, pack more into each day, surely I'll be fulfilled, right?

While I think it is important to not take for granted the precious time we have on this earth and I do wholeheartedly plan to incorporate many of things on my list (as well as others that come along the way) as they're easy experiences to take on here and there, nothing to unachievable. The path to what I've been trying to work towards this year was clearly drawn for me through the sermon at church on January 8th. Lead pastor, Kris McDaniel, at Trinity Anglican Mission in Atlanta was speaking on the cycle of grace. The cycle would have us go clock-wise. First on acceptance by incorporating scripture and prayer into our lives among other things. Then on sustenance through structure and practice (as well as good wine, fellowship - friends, rest). Then identity (or significance). And lastly, fruitfulness (or achievement).

Kris spoke to us about being flat worn out because we're doing it backwards and going counter clock-wise starting with achievement - We think we'll feel at peace by working hard and getting significant.

Achievement is a fruit, not a start. Such a simple, but eye opening way to look at how we approach our lives. So, I have a clear direction of where to start now... I will start at the proper beginning with acceptance.

To dig in further, read "The Cycle of Grace: Living in Sacred Balance" by Trevor Hudson.

getting comfortable with pattern mixing

There really are no "rules to pattern mixing."  You can put together any print, or even clashing prints to create unexpected outfits.  But, for our purposes let's talk about everyday looks that are polished,  sophisticated, and appropriate even for the office!

The two simplest ways to pair prints together are either 1) combining a small scale print with a larger scale print or 2) combining a stripe, polka dot, gingham, or animal print with any other print.  Typically just two prints are great to combine - If you're wanting more layers for your look, add in neutral solids such as chambray*, white, black, army green, tan, etc. vs. adding in a third or fourth print.

Many suggest finding a common color (or colors) that tie the two prints together.  This is a good suggestion, but not absolutely necessary in my opinion.  More importantly, consider the intensity of your color palette - mix pastels with other lighter tones and brighter hues with other bold tones.  You can also use patterns with the neutrals I mentioned previously - white, black, army green, and tan.  These go with virtually any color whether they be pastel or bright.

Stripes, florals, and polka dots are the easiest patterns to combine so start here and continuing playing with other prints as you get more comfortable.   


This Time Tomorrow
This Time Tomorrow

A Beautiful Mess
A Beautiful Mess

 Belle of the Ball
Belle of the Ball

Gingham is also a great neutral print to mix with others.  Notice the scale in the example below...the gingham is small and tight, which pairs nicely with the blown up floral.  

This gingham is a little larger in scale, but the flowers are also more bold so the two "are going to the same party" as some might say.

Clothed Much

These two prints do not have a common color, but the ditsy floral and pastel gingham have the same soft feel.  And notice the use of army green as a neutral - see it does go with everything!  I'll have a post coming up later on how amazing army green, and even camo, can be as staples in your wardrobe.

 The Atlantic Pacific

Both polka dots and animal prints are "neutral prints" that can pair with any other print, and also each other as this example shows!  It also shows how great prints can "match" without any common colors at all.

Style Me Grasie
Style Me Grasie

*The definition of a small scale print is "something that is drawn in miniature" - think small polka dots and ditsy florals.  The definition of a large scale print is "something that is grand or is big" - think large floral prints or loud geometric prints.

*Chambray (pronounced /SHamˌbrā/) is made in both prints and solids, but in current fashion is most often seen in the form of a blue button-up shirt that looks like lightweight denim.  See some examples of chambray here.  Think of chambray like your favorite pair of denim goes with absolutely everything!  It's nice to have a few difference shades of chambray shirting on-hand as basics in your wardrobe.  Wear buttoned-up and tucked into a skirt, un-button and wear over a tank, or tie around your waist!

Wanting to up your ante?!  I've provided some great examples of more forward patten mixing that show intentionality in coordination and refrain from looking like they got dressed in the dark.   

 Ramblings with Rin

 My Other Closet is Couture

I'd love to see some photos of the looks you've put together with creative pattern mixing, maybe they'll even be posted in a future blog post so we can all be inspired!  Please email to with the email titled "I've got pattern mixing down pat!"  Please include your name and a link to your blog or instagram.  

Also please include any tips and tricks of your own in the comments below.

the story of our founding...

Growing up in a small town in Minnesota, I explored 40 acres of field and woods, played store with my two sisters, and sewed and crafted with my mom. The fort & field name grew out of this lifelong love of the home and garden... "fort" for home and "field" for garden. 

While the roots of fort & field started when I was just a child, the business I had always dreamed of was formed in 2004. 

During the holidays of that year in a small paper store, I saw a ball of traditional red and white striped bakers twine and fell in love. In the meantime while I started the exhaustive search to find the source, I measured and rolled red and white striped yarn I found in the seasonal section of the craft store into balls and it sold like hot cakes. The manufacturer of the twine I had seen at that paper store had sadly gone out of business, but I was later able to find a supplier to bakeries of 2 pound rolls in a rainbow of colors. A few years later, many companies joined the marketplace and the twine was used in everything from crafting to party planning!

While my intention had been to start a business with home and garden products, around this time the initial seeds of the do-it-yourself party planning movement had just begun to be planted and I was thoroughly inspired. There were only a handful of the blogs and websites we are lucky enough to have now so I spent hours pouring over vintage craft books at the library, the Martha Stewart crafts website, and anything else I stumbled upon. 

"Down the rabbit hole" as my early days on the internet were called, I frequently ended up on sites in England, Australia, and New Zealand. The English, I discovered, used small colorful striped paper bags to package small items purchased at gift and candy stores. It's hard to believe now, but here in the US at the time there were very few, if any, patterned paper bags available for sale. So, I started importing the bags from England. Because there was such a void in the marketplace for such a bag (and also because of the high shipping costs to import the bags), they originally sold for $80/100 bags! Year after year, as more options became available through both small shops and large retailers, the prices went down and there are currently a plethora of options available. 

Shortly after, I added colored and square paper doilies to the shop, a variation from the typical white round paper doily. In a long search one afternoon for new doily styles, I landed on a seafood restaurant supplier site. While visiting a new site, I often clicked through the other sections to see if I could spot a fantastic restaurant supply product that could translate to the party arena. On this afternoon, I saw a black and white pencil drawing of striped paper straws. I had never seen a paper straw, let alone a patterned straw in my life, but they certainly seemed interesting! So, I ordered a box of solid white and a box of red & white striped. I figured "what the heck, I'll try them out!"... and the rest is history! These original straws were still manufactured in the same process I believe as in the 50's and 60's, very lightweight and a waxy paper that was prone to unraveling. Just a few years later, striped straws have become (quite literally) a must-have staple for every party and wedding. The manufacturing process was perfected and every pattern and color of paper straw is now at arms reach!

I spent the next 13 years sourcing and bringing to the marketplace other unique and hard to find party and packaging supplies, selling directly to individuals and wholesale around the world. Below is the stack of boxes ready to be shipped out to some of my very first customers, my version of saving the first dollar earned in this digital world we live in. Such a wonderful and exciting time as the DIY craft and small business movement was starting to inspire so many!

I was honored to have fort & field featured in Real Simple Magazine, Family Circle Magazine, Southern Weddings Magazine, Eco Beautiful Weddings Magazine, and Wedding Style Guide. fort & field has continued to offer essentials for any event. And, in recent years expanded to include carefully curated pieces for home, garden, gifts, and fashion; the lifestyle company I envisioned at fort & field's inception so many years ago. Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me on this journey and in all that is yet to come!

striped snack bags

Beautiful photography and use of blue and white striped paper bags to hold snacks by friend and fort & field customer, Carina...
Such a fun idea to use ribbon or fabric scraps to tie pretty ribbons on straws as well...

vintage railroad train party

This vintage railroad train party by Kelly of kellyallison photography has got to be the most inspiring train party we have seen. So many amazing details!

The calendar at the bottom of the invite acts as a train ticket, with the date of the party punched for reference...
Guests are greeted with engineer caps and neckerchiefs upon arrival, setting the stage for their train journey...
A vintage Fischer Price train delivers veggies & hummus to the table with the help of paper cup cargo cars...
Pb&j sandwiches are cut to look like train engines and passenger cars...
Mini hotdogs are served chicago-style with mustard and a pickle spear nestled inside, what else?, but a flattened striped cupcake liner. Condiments are served in striped candy cups...
Juice boxes are served in muslin sacks (DIY design created from iron-on inkjet paper). And, did you know that vintage style paper straws fit perfectly in standard juice boxes? Much cuter than the plastic version...
Popcorn, chips and pretzels served in white paper cones, much like what you'd be able to buy from old station vending carts...
Yogurt parfaits with granola and blueberries look great when served in mini jam jars. The lids are topped with a square of burlap, and a wooden spoon is secured with bakers twine. To add a bit of color and continue your theme, decorate cutlery with washi tape on the handle!...
Cupcakes served in a vintage suitcase are baked in striped candy cups, and topped with marzipan R/R crossing signs...
Clear red striped loot bags are adorned with DIY labels...
For more details, visit Hostess with the Mostess.

interactive gift wrap

What a great idea! Interactive gift wrap...

For the how-to's, visit Lines Across. And, for thin airmail stripe japanese washi tape like that shown in the last photo to hold the crayons to the package, visit the fort & field shop.

paper doily roses

Paper, Plate, and Plane shares a super quick way to make paper doily roses...
1. Take a red paper doily and cut a straight line to the center.
2. Roll the doily, making sure the wrong side faces up.
3. Twist the end.
4. Use floral tape to create a stem (or cover with ribbon).

heart straw toppers

Love these super simple heart straw toppers...
Simply punch heart shapes out of pink scrapbooking paper with a craft punch and position two hearts around a grey and white stripe paper straw, holding hearts together with a dab of glue. fort & field also has fun striped heart straw toppers that can be printed at home...

valentine lollipop wrappers

A Little Bit of This and That created lollipop wrappers that transform a simple lollipop into an amazing valentine...
Tear a kraft paper bag and wrap it around the top of the lollipop, tie with red & white striped bakers twine, and embellish with a sweet message.