Like Father, Like Son


Three generations of first-born sons! The first picture was taken in January of 1981, shortly after my husband Isaac was born, and he is being held by his father, Geoffrey Botkin. In the second picture, Isaac is holding our first-born son, James Arthur Geoffrey Botkin. Isaac is wearing the same leather jacket that his dad wore, and it’s only a little worse for the wear almost 35 years later. All three of these men hold a very special place in my heart and life, and I’m thankful to be related to them!

Tom Thumb Studio Thanksgiving Sale


For those of you that don’t know, I have an Etsy shop, and for the next few days we are running a Thanksgiving sale! At the moment, we have several new wool jackets available, and everything in the shop is 30% off. All of our products are made by either my mother-in-law or me, and are crafted from beautiful felted wool, then hand embroidered. These classic sweaters are warm and cozy, and make wonderful Christmas gifts.  Go to the Tom Thumb Studio Facebook page to get updates, or our store to see more of what we have in stock.


How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract


This week I pulled these glass bottles of vanilla extract that have been brewing down in our basement since last fall. Vanilla extract is very simple to make, makes great Christmas gifts, and your kitchen will smell like baker’s heaven while you are making it. You only need a few supplies:

1. Vanilla Beans

There are many opinions on which variety of beans to use, and the differences in their flavors, which you can read about more in this interesting article.  I bought mine on Ebay, though you can also find them from Amazon, and many other places.  The main thing to look for is beans that are still plump and moist- they shouldn’t be all shriveled up and dry. You can buy vanilla beans at Costco, but they are overpriced, and in my experience not very fresh.


2. Glass bottles

You can use an old glass vinegar bottle, a wine bottle with a tight fitting lid, these 16 ounce swing top bottles from Amazon, Ikea’s Korken swing top bottles, or check your local Dollar Tree for their their glass Oil and Vinegar bottles for only $1 each.

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Welcome to our New Blog!

Isaac, Heidi, and James

We are Isaac, Heidi, and James Botkin, and we live in middle Tennessee. We got married in May of 2014, and our son was born September 2015. Isaac is a designer and filmmaker who has worked in a variety of media in several countries, and now runs his own design firm. He has been writing about culture and ideas sporadically for several years. Heidi is a helpmeet, mother, homemaker, chef, advisor, and she provides the order and structure needed to implement a small number of the crazy ideas Isaac generates. She is learning to enjoy writing, even when the sink is full of dishes. James is a baby. He doesn’t write much yet, since he is only one month old.

We are attempting to create a very simple family-portfolio-commentary-diy-review-design-homemaking-news-theology-art-sewing-debate-photo-security-crafts-guns-cooking-political-technology blog. The reason for such a scattered and diverse set of topics is that we are going to write about the things that we talk to each other about, and the things that we are interested in. It won’t always cover what we are doing, or the most important international news of the day, but it will be based on conversations that we are having with one another, with our friends, and the conversations and lessons that we would like James to be part of or learn from… if he were older.

So if we can’t narrow down the topics that this blog will cover, we can narrow down its purpose. We are trying to accomplish 5 things:

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4 Reasons Not to Use Traditional Textbooks

Isaac has written another article for Live the Adventure Letter, this time talking about the weaknesses of relying on traditional textbooks in your homeschooling.  Both Isaac and I were homeschooled, and our parents used a smattering of different real books, not just prepackaged curriculum,  to customize our education to each of us.  Read his article, 4 Reasons Not to Use Traditional Textbooks, to find out more.

Christian Parenting in the Midst of Violent Media

TV Blood

How do we as Christians teach our children about sin, death and violence without traumatizing or desensitizing them to its effects?  Isaac wrote a two part series on this important topic, specifically addressing the violence that is so prevalent in most media today.  These are important topics for every parent to consider, and something that Isaac and I have been talking about quite a bit as we prepare for the birth of our son this fall. Click on the links below to read more.

Christian Parenting in the Midst of Violent Media part 1

Christian Parenting in the Midst of Violent Media part 2

How a Few Simple Inventions Changed the Written World

Printer operating a Gutenberg-style screw press

Isaac has recently been doing some writing for the Live the Adventure Letter, and they just published his article on Martin Luther and the Printing Press. Have a look at how world-changing inventions didn’t actually change the word until the right men came along with the right ideas. The story of paper, the printing press, and the Reformation is also a good reminder that everything, even simple mechanical inventions, arrive in God’s sovereignly-appointed time.  One of the reasons I love being married to Isaac is that I am always learning things from him: interesting history, cool technology, and real life theology, and this article is no exception.