Beeswax photos grammie made of her parents for me using the workshop over at Creativebug.
So, blogging about big hard issues can tricky for me. It's always a moving target—how I feel (which always changes) and the circumstances around the situation (which also change). The big hard issue happening in our lives right now (let's leave my multiple illnesses and horrible siatica on the sidelines for a bit, although I suspect they are related) is that Grammie, my mom, has breast cancer and is in the middle of a pretty difficult chemo treatment. I have told many friends about this and their stories have helped me so much—so many people go through this and it is so hard.
She was diagnosed right before Thanksgiving and had surgery in mid-December. There has been so much to process along the way. The tests, waiting for the results, the surgery, more waiting for results, the treatment plan, the treatment plan changing, the not knowing. Her team of doctors are wonderful, we feel very lucky, and I have her seeing my acupuncturist which is helping with chemo side affects. I am seeing her, too. We were hoping the chemo wouldn't be so hard on her, but she is getting the strongest one these first 4 treatments, and it's been pretty awful.
The levels of pain and sadness, and just fear, have been pretty overwhelming for me. Grammie is incredibly brave and strong. I am so lucky to be so close to her, both emotionally and physically. We see her every day and have for years, she is like a 3rd parent to our girls. Pete and I never were super excited to teach our kids about sickness and cancer, but of course it comes up, and I know how important it is to have them see me care for her. And to have them learn to help care for her and to see how we all care for each other. The cleaning, laundry, dishes, the checking in, the homemade cards, and endless kisses and hugs—I have 3 little nurses that are so willing to help and just radiate love to her. It breaks our hearts and is so special to see.
Her cancer has been caught early. We feel great about that. Our friends, both hers and mine, have been so supportive by checking in all the time, feeding us, trying to help in any way they can. My brother and in-laws have helped with the girls while I care for Grammie.
There have been wig jokes and tons of off-color humor. The questions from the girls are hard— but they are brave, and I need to be at least as brave as they are. There are books that have helped me and I will link to them soon. We still have to get though the chemo treatment (5 left) and the radiation afterward. Many days I feel really good, like we are getting through this and it will be okay, and then sometimes I have felt I was going to explode into dust out of sheer pain or anxiety. But then I don't. This is workable, I experience that every day.
We made these card making goodie bags for a Valentine's Day party Delia was having—but then didn't have because I got the norovirus, again! It has only been 6 weeks since my last fight with it. It must have been a different strain. This makes me not super popular with the rest of the population. I feel pretty germ-y. I know my immune system is pretty low right now. And it flared up my back pain again, but I am trying to stay positive. We canceled the party, but a March party has already been planned in its place. My kids are total troopers.
On a better note, I am almost done with the first sleeve of the sweater. I have a huge hole in the armpit but trusted sources assure me this is ok, and stitching it up tight after is not lame. I already have my eye on this vest for a next project. Too hard for me? I'm not sure yet.
Things have been moving pretty slow around here. I'm still making—I sewed a sweater dress last weekend, and a nightgown for an american girl, and I am knitting, and folding a lot of paper, but my buzzzzziness is slow. I am on week 5 of a horribly inflamed sciatica which is keeping me down. The mornings are excruciating for about 10 minutes and then I feel about 80% normal, except sitting is hard—so I am now one of those people toting my own foam wedge around so I can sit on it, and not on the floor, which was, at best, a fire safety hazard in most public places. I am seeing a wonderful acupuncturist for this and feel I am on the med, when I am in a good mood. When I'm not is a good mood, well, you know how that goes.
Anyhoo, the slow deliberateness of paper folding is making me happy, and I am now into folding hearts as many different ways I can find on the internet, which is a lot. I'm not sure why I am so delighted by being able to get the same shape so many different ways, but I am. I think I used this pattern for this heart.
I also just got hip to Brain Pickings, which can be a real time-suck, in a good way.
In knitting—the sweater body is almost done. I keep getting sleeve excitement, only to realize I'm not ready yet. I also have realized I'm not so good at just straight knitting, which I find amusing. Little dropped stitches and weird wraps, I never realized I did this.
I want to give a big plug for Lisa and Katrina's new online workshops they are teaching. I was thrilled to be able to contribute to Lisa's wonderful book, Knot, Thread, Stitch and she and I go way back in blog years. She was one of the first blog friends I ever made and is one of my favorite artists out there.
Please go to their site for even more info and read about all the perks you get for siging up—it's pretty amazing sounding.
I'm so excited for them. Lisa is providing a discount promo code in this post here on her blog.
Here's a description directly from the site— they describe it much better than I could do. (And all these photos are from interwoven also.)
“INTERWOVEN :: make : thread : craft : art” is a
textile-based online course that will guide students in four techniques
over four weeks :: February 4-March 1, 2013
Each week will focus on a different textile project:
week 1 :: crochet
week 2 :: soft sculpture
week 3 :: embroidery
week 4 :: mini quilt
Each week will have daily posts:
day 1 :: complete step-by-step tutorial to learn the technique
day 2 :: an inspirational post offering other artists/crafters using this technique in exciting ways
day 3 :: descriptions/photos of possibilities for altering this technique for future use
day 4 :: an exclusive interview with a professional artist using this technique in their work.
day 5 :: suggestions for further exploration including links to materials, tools, resources, and other studio tips.
The private website will be available all day, every day, from the first day of class on February 4 through April 30—this way you can enjoy the information at your own speed after the course has finished on March 1.
In addition to the private online course, participants will also have access to an INTEWOVEN Facebook page and a private Flickr group where they can post their own projects and receive weekly feedback from the instructors. [Everyone who posts will receive feedback from one of the instructors on at least one image that they present.]
The course is designed with the beginner crafter and the experienced artist in mind. It aims to offer everyone a supportive creative community, daily inspired prompts, thorough tutorials, personal feedback, insider tips for tools & resources, and inspiration to nail the basics AND take these projects to the next level.
We all watched a documentary about origami and paper folding called Between the Folds, last weekend and really enjoyed it. It had been in my Netflix queue forever. I love how many documentaries are available for instant viewing. This prompted a Sunday session of paper folding, and this flower was made along with many other flowers and some free-style paper hats, which were fabulous. Whenever we get an origami urge we turn to this book but after a few flowers, the kids like to make up their own folded shapes. This easy penguin is what they make most often, teaching it to every kid they know. This is a great one for the 5-year old.
I spent many many hours folding paper notes when I was little, I think I still have them in a shoe box. I never knew this great heart-shaped one however, (check this handy tutorial over at Camp Smartypants) which I plan to show the girls soon. It's perfect for Valentine's Day.
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed playing wine glasses when I was little until we were studying Ben Franklin a bit back and learned about his Glass Armonica. His musical instrument is different, but uses the same idea. When I was little, I spent hours filling wine glasses with water and playing them, trying to get the pitches just right. I showed the girls how and we had a lot of fun. It's mesmerizing. There are some videos of the armonica being played in the link, it's pretty cool to see/hear one played.
It's been a long few weeks. We all got that nasty virus that's been going around. I'm going to spare you most of the horrible but comedic details involving barf, but I will say that a tulle canopy can hold a surprisingly large amount of vomit vertically, suspended in space, in a way that is both impressively disgusting and artistic.
Speaking of disturbing family art, I started and finished The Family Fang and really enjoyed it. I did wish for more character development of the parents. After I finished it, I had to research it right away, reading reviews and interviews with the author, because it was hard for me to accept it was over. Reading what an author says about writing can help me move on and get out of the story. I'm really interested in reading his short stories now.
A yearly tradition—puppets are from Owly Shadow Puppets
I can show some gifts that were a secret until now—
This t-shirt was custom-made and given to my husband for the holidays. I was so happy with how it turned out and even happier with how easy it was to make over at CustomInk. I was feeling kind of frantic because I had planned this shirt for him but lost track of time. I had a blank shirt all ready to go and was going to burn a screen and then couldn't find my screens, and then was going to order more but realized I could only get a 3-pack and didn't want to spend that much and was feeling guilty getting this made professionally because I um, you know, wrote a book on how to do this kind of thing DIY-style, but then got over it and a few clicks and 3 days later got the finished shirt.
This shirt design came about after taking this funny/ridiculous quiz, which was awesome because Pete has got to be the most mellow guy I know and the description of the wolverine spirit animal is so much not like him. (Or is it?) I was a wolf. We were taking this quiz with a friend and immediately went to the "which character are you in Star Wars" quiz. She didn't know enough about Star Wars to understand exactly why being Queen Amidala was such a big deal. I tried to explain. As for the remaining two of us—one was Obi Wan and the other was R2-D2.
We got some some snow! Very exciting. We are gearing up for the nutcracker performances and winter solstice and holiday celebrations and then hopefully a whole lot of nothing but rest—with some knitting, reading, and walk-taking.
Recently, I've been putting on albums and just listening while lying on the rug, like I used to when I was 7-14, back when actually listening to an album was an activity, you know? Not something I did while doing one or two other things. The girls love it. I used to put barbies on the records and would watch them spin while they played. I haven't told them that.
I'm trying to finish up gift wrapping and I have been finding some real gems on pinterest for gift tags to print and use. I just have to limit how much time I take looking, dang it. I can't believe what's out there.
Thank you all for reading, commenting, and just being out there—I hope you all have a mellow and wonderful holiday and see you in 2013.
This is sort of spoiler for my brother, but I'm not sure how often he reads my blog so I'm showing it. Last night I was doing some wrapping and remembered all the science fiction book covers I spotted on flickr a bit back (long story) and as an life-ling science fiction fan, I knew he'd dig this custom paper. I printed out some images onto plain printer paper and there you go. The gifts I wrapped are small enough that one sheet fit perfect—I sure wasn't going to make a trip to the copy shop for over-sized sheets, but if I muster up the energy to do that one day, that would look cool, too. I love wrapping paper from photographs.
Life has been full of hard stuff lately, culminated by this horrible shooting back east and this awful local shooting at a mall here in town. Our family has been dealing with some very challenging health issues (not me) around here and there's a long road ahead—I'm just very sad and tired. Baking cookies has really helped. And wrapping gifts. And talking to friends. I also made this butterkuchen from the December Martha and it is really really good. And for all the sadness out there, this tonglen meditation I link to in this post really helps me, for others' pain and my own.
Making flavored salts has been on my list since I got some matcha salt from mariko years ago. I love it to death. It's so good on eggs, I almost cry a little every time I eat it.
So, I had these jars (a lot of them, for a possible new skincare product, long story) and wanted to use a few of them for gift containers so I can be less self-conscious about how many I have in the garage. This became a thing—trying to figure out what to put in the jars for holiday gift-giving. I didn't want to give sugar scrub this year so the seasoned salts won. I made 4 different kinds, combos that were quick and easy to make that didn't involve drying lemon rind or roasted garlic. They are also tasty and versatile. I used fine sea salt. I was going to use flake sea salt, but wasn't sure if everyone would like the chunkier salt texture. The flavors I made:
For the cumin and coriander salt I toasted whole seeds and ground them. For the other two, I just mixed it in with the salt as is. I used 1 cup salt and about 8 teaspoons total spice/tea, which seems to work great, but I think this ratio is pretty forgiving. I have been using them all on soups, stews, tofu, toast, pasta, rice, fish and eggs. The chiptole & cinnamon would be great in a chocolate bark. Look out!
Here are some reference links I used-
I was trying to save this brilliant gift for the girls for solstice, but it came out early. It's perfect for them to share—It's I Like To Stamp, which is a prompting-type art activity kit with sheets of half-drawn artwork, with a few words and ideas for completing with stamping, drawing and coloring. The sheets are loose and come in a lovely brown stiff folder, the whole presentation is very pleasing. It comes from the mighty creative genius, The Small Object. (Or, Aunt Sarah, as she is known in this house.)
It's really been a wonderful activity for them and for me. You can see what some of the sheets look like before they are stamped, drawn on, and loved, on her site. Any stamps work with these, but of course she has them, too, which we adore.
The girls wanted to make their own gifts for friends and family this year all by themselves, so we have been having little gift factory parties. I try to do this with just one child at a time, so they get some one-on-one time and we can more easily thwart disaster.
The middle child wanted to give "something in a jar" and she got hot cocoa mix last year that had both mini-chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows and hasn't stopped talking about it since, so the answer was obvious. She made a master batch of hot cocoa mix:
scooped it into each jar, about half-full, and then topped it off with mini-chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. I tried to get her to add cinnamon or peppermint oil, but she is a purist. To make the actual hot cocoa, I think it's easier to add the whole amount in the jar to almost boiling milk and stir like crazy. The amount above makes 8 cups, but depending how big your jars are, it can vary. I think these jars would make 2 cups of hot cocoa, depending on how sweet you want it.
The circle punch I happen to have fit the lids perfect. Crafty-stars aligned.
I love making things in jars. For more inspiration/ideas I searched "in a jar" in pinterest. It's almost too much. Sometimes I don't even go to pinterest just because I feel too excited/overwhelmed. Like a cat with catnip, minus the napping schedule.
We are now approaching the time of year when I am making gifts I can't show lest I spoil the surprise, and when I am sewing costumes for the Nutcracker the girls are in, so I am fitting this in with everything else, which always seems ill-advised. This year it's a party girl dress. I have already told them it's not ours to keep, so I'm sure I will be sewing a keeper soon.
The super awesome folks at creativebug are showing 5 video workshops for free! All of them are perfect for holiday gift making and wrapping, like this holiday Burlap Bunting Project. I can't stop watching these videos. I loved working with them on my workshops and as people, they just rock, I tell you. I think their production quality is the best out there —I'm so happy they are doing this so you all can see how cool these workshops are to watch. Here are the other free ones:
This recipe for a chocolate kugelhopf is in the newest issue of Martha (December 2012) All the desserts in this section are inspired by a recent trip Martha took to Belgium. The dark and moody photos in the magazine are stunning. I love desserts that use yeast. It's all very exciting to me.
I made this over the long weekend. It has been a while since a used a dough like this. It's pretty rich and wet, but it all came out beautifully. I didn't deviate from the recipe at all, except I omitted the raisins, because really, there would have been a revolt in my house if I had put them in. I also didn't use bittersweet chocolate, but semi-sweet, because that's what I had.
It's wonderful toasted with jam, or just butter. Of course, it's great plain with strong coffee. There is someone in the house that eats it toasted with peanut butter. It's a keeper and so impressive to make—very rewarding. When it came out of the oven and was sitting on the counter, I felt like I had an exciting house guest. I guess one that I would eat?
The whole family is getting a little board game crazy and Catan: Junior has been a great entry point. We all can play, no reading is necessary, and like so many of these euro board games it requires planning ahead and stragety, not so much luck. They play fast, which is great for keeping it fresh. They are so well made and have very pleasing pieces to hold.
I am a huge fan of all of the Usborne books. I went to architecture school and have a lot of those old books still on my shelves, but I wish I had See Inside Famous Buildings back then. The flaps make it fun for the younger girls, but the text is full of really interesting info—great for older kids. There are a few of these books in the flap series and we love them all.
The Fujifilm INSTAX MINI
is soooooo good. It teaches the kids to use film wisely and the look on their face when the photo just pops out is priceless. I need my own for sure.
Tear Up This Book! has been a huge hit. We had to buy 3 copies. It's by the crazy talented Keri Smith (of Wreck this Journal and How to be an Explorer of the World fame) and is FULL of stuff to do. It's creative, wonderful, and clever.
I already wrote about this game, Timeline, but here it is again. I just love it so much. It's addictive and now that we have had it for about 6 months, I can see just how much history they have learned from it. A whole lot, I tell you. "The invention of weapons is always earlier than you think." There is a new version I just got and one on the way.
What is it about these Skip Hop Zoo Lunchies Insulated Lunch Bags? I mean, I do love them, but my girls and all their friends adore them. They also make matching backpacks and roller luggage. They are so cute, well made, and I probably would have bought one when I was in college for myself. There are a lot of animals to choose from (which means Sadie collects them) I'm not saying how many we have in this house.
I hope this list helps. I know it's nice for me to look back and see what toys/books/stuff seemed really worth our money and I love hearing from friends about what their family has really enjoyed and loved over the years. I've linked all these to amazon, but I think most of these things you can buy in your local toy/book/game shop (except maybe the camera?) Portland is full of amazing indie shops—I am so lucky to have them here.
We are getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow and I am so happy to have the advent calendar done well before December first.
I got this kit a year or so ago on super-sale at the now closed Paper Zone (sniff) and I have no information on it, sorry. I did a quick online search and came up with nothing. There are some wonderful ready-to-alter items here at Stampington, but not this one exactly. It came as unfinished chipboard and masonite. I had to glue all the little boxes together and make the frame. It was wonderfully time consuming. It took me forever to decide how to decorate it and after being pretty modern/minimal/sparse in holiday decorations in the past, it was nice to really get fussy and Victorian. The girls love it. They have also told me on several occasions the drawers are the perfect size to put Squinkies in. I was thinking more natural items— felt beads, acorns, and wooden-type toys, but you know. They will take turns each day opening a drawer, which works out mathematically, fortunately.
I think I might try to knit a sweater this winter. I am knitting yet another hat and after knitting quite a few accsssories last fall/winter, I think I am ready to try a longer project. We shall see. I spied this pattern, The Touluse Pullover, in the newest Knitscene (winter 2012) and I sure like the way it looks.
I'm not sure how I found it, but so happy I did—Classics For Kids features various classic composers and their music. This week's program is Halloween-y (Greig!) we have already listened to it 3 times. There's some nice additional info on this site, too. That's an understatement. There a lot of clicking and listening— here. Very very cool.
This photo was taken a few weeks ago when it was still warm. It's officially Fall here now, we have had hot cocoa, I am wearing tights everyday, and most of the summer dresses have been put away for the season.
I finished Beautiful Ruins, and really liked it. There were some similarities to A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I had read over the summer, before some trashy stuff I read toward the end of the summer. I just started Olive Kitteridge, but I think I may wait, because all 3 of these books have several stories/characters happening all at once. I want a book that is about just one person, an story of just their life, I think. Or something that doesn't feel like sort stories. So, I have put that one aside to revisit later and have now started reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
For a while now, I have been loading up my e-reader with book samples. It's how I keep track of what I have been meaning to read. Then I just start reading a sample, often not remembering why I wanted to check it out in the first place, I just have faith there was a reason. What I like about doing this is I start to read the book with no idea what it's about. I just have to start it. I can get so caught up in what the back of the book says, (or what reviews say) but what is that? It's actually such a weird way to decided to read a book—by the little paragraph on the back. Or by what someone else says about it. So, I read the samples, which are free (thank goodness) and they are long—way more text than I would ever read standing in a bookshop trying to decide to buy a book. I love bookshops, and holding real books, nothing can beat that, but being able to read a sample of a book, at home, at any hour, is pretty wonderful. Sometimes, I then buy the real book, and not the e-version, based on the free sample. Because then I can sell it used! I love buying/selling used books at Powells.
We are headed to a couple Halloween parties this weekend and early next week, so I need to finish up some details: a mini-oscar statue, Pete needs to finish his cardboard double-neck guitar, and I need to work some magic with 2 cheap wigs.
You can watch me discuss baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and no more dandruff right here. I was interviewed by the funny and friendly Jenny Hansson, our local KOIN channel 6 reporter, and it aired two nights ago.
Thanks for recording it Grammie!
If you want more information, here's a very clear easy-to-read post on exactly how to use baking soda instead of shampoo. I didn't write this, but have linked to it before, and it covers everything.
I got these little LED tea lights for pumpkins at Target. I think they were $1 for a 4-pack, they were in that dollar-ish section near the front. Okay, seriously, the 5-year old has been playing "cabin girl" with them for 3 days! This is the fire she built. Sometimes she puts the lights in little baskets, she loves to blow them out with the switch. This was all her idea. Her two older sisters were really impressed and into it.
Unrelated items that have me reading/thinking/doing:
-And thank you all so much for your support and kind words about my Creativebug workshops. More will come soon!
I now have video workshops over on creativebug!
It's been so great working with them. They came up here to Portland at the end of the summer to shoot one of my classes along with my instructor trailer—which is about 2 minutes long and made Grammie tear up—you can see it here, click on the banner.
I went down to SF in September to shoot more workshops in their studio. The whole crew was great to work with. I can't say enough good things about them. All their workshops are so professional, I was blown away when I first saw them. And the instructors! It's an all-star group of teachers over there—I am so flattered to be in their company.
You can see little teasers of these classes in the links. In the full length workshops, I don't swear and I talk about how much I stink.
Creativebug works as a subscription—you get access to ALL the classes to watch unlimited times, for a monthly fee. This subscription model is ideal for trying new crafts because you already have access to all the workshops. You think you are just a sewer? Try some jewelry making! Grammie immediately started creating gorgeous mixed media art with vintage family photos and beeswax after watching Courtney's wonderful workshop.
Added awesome bonus—they gave me a special promo code, "PUMPKIN", that I can give to you. It will deduct $10 off any subscription package you buy!
That's what I'm talking about! Holiday gifts galore. And for your fellow crafters— a gift subscription would be a swell idea, too. Or a subscription for a school/club auction?
I have more workshops coming, I will let you know when they are available. I am super proud of these, I hope you all dig them.
A toothpick holder and a card holder. Made by the middle child out of old wood blocks the kids don't really play with anymore. She re-discovered our hand drill—the best wood tool ever for kids, in my opinion.
Her uncle had given her (and her older sister) a complete tool box—with several kinds of tools and clamps, so we had everything we needed. Her sisters were gone so there was no rush and no distractions. She was worried about finding scrap wood and when I suggested we just use some toy wood blocks (already sanded and ready to go) she looked like she had won the lottery. We did use some scrap too, because it was more fun to cut with the hacksaw.
I had no idea what she was going to make and when she asked for toothpicks, I was intrigued. I have a feeling these will be made by the dozen as gifts this holiday season. Let's hear it for toolbox gifts and a afternoon with only one child—to really indulge what she is into and watch her go.
We had fun making some new Halloween crafts/decorations last week. The hat and coffins came as unfinished brown chipboard. I got the coffins at Collage in Portland and the witch hat at The Peddler's Pack in Beaverton. Both shops have ridiculously nice people working there and wonderful inventory.
The hat was my project. I painted it black and added some metal and paper embellishments, black tulle and ribbon. The coffins the girls painted, decorated, (I was very surprised at their restraint) and then we thought it would be cool to make cute ghosts to live inside. The ghosts are made out of tube socks, which I trimmed and re-sewed. Then they stuffed them and we used beads for the eyes and paint for the mouth. Super fun and cute! It took a few days, which was nice, so they didn't tear through the project like crazies. The bones from two years ago are still holding up well—I think that might be one of my favorite Halloween crafts we have ever done.
Big news—I'm super excited to be working with Creativebug! The first of several classes we shot over the last 2 months are coming very soon. I'm in some pretty amazing company. The first class will be available next week, I will keep you posted.
While finishing dinner last night I read that Michael Chabon would be having a booksigning and reading from his latest book, Telegraph Avenue: A Novel. That evening. About 12 minutes from my house, starting 7 minutes from when I read it. I kept looking at the clock, everyone in the house yelled for me to "go!" so I did. I love his books. They stick with me. I had never seen him talk and am so glad I went. I didn't stay to get a book signed—the one I did bring for him to sign, Summerland, was a signed copy already, which I thought was funny. It is my brother's copy.
Sampling of items discussed in the Q & A:
We just got back from camping. I love camping in the fall so much. We went back to Silver Falls, where we went last year, but this time we stayed in the cabins they have there and it was so fun. You still have to cook outside and the cabins have no bathrooms so it still feels a bit gritty and outdoorsy, but the cabins have heat and lights, making sleeping at night much more attainable. We also did some antiquing in the shops in Aurora on the way down.
September has been really nutty. I realize I have been gone more days than home this month. Things should be settling down now. I feel a knitting project coming on. And gingerbread baking.
We love this card game I bought for our trip a few weeks back—Timeline. I picked it up in Portland at the excellent Cloud Cap Games shop in Sellwood. It's really simple and totally addictive. You have these wonderfully illustrated little cards each depicting an invention. On the back side is the date of the invention/discovery. You have to place the cards next to each other in historical order without looking at the date on the back, taking turns. Whoever runs out of cards first wins. It's brilliant!
The girls are pretty good at this, especially when we get to the 1700-1900s which is when they can reference all the American Girl historical characters and their stories. I couldn't believe how many they got right the first time we played it. We all love it and I am hooked. The cards from the 1800s are really splitting hairs so it gets pretty challenging, but it's all pretty quick to memorize, which makes it even cooler for learning. Talking about it all and debating where the cards could go is the best part. There are a lot of questions—the 2 minute explanation of Das Kapital we gave was pretty funny. Grammie is an ace, of course.
Chunky glittler nail polish is quite popular in this house but taking it off is a total drag, so I was quite excited to see this handy method (thanks for the tip, Egg!) using elmer's glue as a base coat for easy peel-off removal. I haven't tried it yet, but will soon. The 12 year-old in me is very excited to use elmer's glue on my nails for any reason.
It seems things have gotten pretty busy around here (sort of unexpectedly) which is not bad, but making my lazy August seem not-so-lazy. So, in efforts to make things a bit more lazy, I'm going to try to do only what I have to, and if possible, do it outside.
The chillaxin' is an aspirational state, not my current state. That modern slang word both troubles me and makes me laugh.
See you in September-ish!
I was looking for some millinery information and magically found the The Human Ecology Collection. They have digitized and made available vintage titles all about sewing, costuming, and millinery. Now I am excited, tired, and a little overwhelmed.
The Rhinestone Gallery is up over at Tie One On and really worth checking out. Pretty amazing.
I heard this interview on Q with Frank Partnoy about procrastination and why in many cases it can be a good thing. It's a theme that keeps coming up in my life. I always have been a pretty quick desicion maker and very quick to form an opinion—in the last few years this has really slowed down.
We were reading a used book at bit back and the girls asked me what the card in the back was for—it was from a school library, back when they used library cards. They have been playing librarian since they were little but always used a pretend scanner, 'cause, you know, that's what they use now. But the cards are so cool. And the official stamping of the cards is an activity that can't be beat.
Then I forgot about all this and went on with life. Later, in an art store, I saw a pack of blank library cards and pockets. I didn't buy them, but pointed them out to the girls. Again, we moved on. But then they asked about them later that day. And then again. By this time I also was getting excited about them, because they are exciting.
I'm going to have to design some, I thought. But laziness reminded me to check the internet first. There must be something available free online—and there was. A whole heck of a lot. So, I printed these out using a free template (thank you Creature Comforts) and now they are playing librarian and actually lending books to friends, and I am playing librarian, too and putting them in my craft, sewing, and cookbooks, which I do lend out occasionally. I know I could use bookplates, but then I couldn't play librarian. And collect overdue fees.
I love the internet.
This pake was made for a recent event by mariko and when she told me she was bringing pake I thought it was a typo for cake, but no—it's a pie in a cake. It was very tasty and brought up several turducken references. I think she used a recipe similar to this one, but it basically was a small cherry pie cooked in chocolate cake mix and frosted with a whipped cream cream cheese frosting.
So wrong, yet so very right. Cutting into it was absolutely thrilling, I have never seen so many iphones in action so fast.
I just bought two smallish and very pleasing books put out by Microcosm Publishinng that are making me extremely happy. Fix Your Clothes, by Raleigh Briggs is a super handy book about mending, repairing, and extending the life of your clothes.
Much of this helpful information I already knew, but for a new sewer, or for someone who doesn't do a ton of mending, it's so helpful. It's small (and short, 50 pages) portable, and very nice to hold. And it's ideal for thrifters, vintage clothes collectors, and anyone into not tossing their clothes because a button pops off or a zipper is stuck. There is something deeply pleasing and satisfy about mending and making clothes last.
Bonus—it has a small section about waterproofing your fabric, which i find so fascinating and slightly bizarre. I have to try this. And like her other books, this one is all hand lettered, which I love more than I can say. I got all crazy about her other book, Make Your Place, a couple years ago, and I still use that book all the time and still buy it for friends. Since then I have bought all her books and zines— I love everything she has done.
I'm also into this book, Homesweet Homegrown, by Robyn Jasco. It's about how to grow, store and harvest food. Both books have information that can be found in other books, online, etc, but they present these ideas in such a pleasing easy-to-understand way, like a friend talking to you, that I just keep going back to them. They both have that great combination of giving you enough information to do it, but not overwhelming you with too many details, or trying to make it perfect. There's cooking recipes in here, too.
The "make" section is where I hang out the most.
There's a handy list of edibles with grow times, spacing info, etc.
And I am totally going to do the plant-in-a-bag. Not the most visually pleasing planting method, but there's a simple directness and pragmatic quality to this I find very amusing, so I have to try it.
I need to give Microcosm a big shout out here—they publish and distribute zines, books, magazines, and also sell patches, buttons, t-shirts, and all the things I get worried will go away eventually, but I sure hope they never do.
Some formal maid costumes have been requested for some time now. I have started one and am facing the reality that I will have to make three. These images I printed from Downton Abbey have me a bit nutty, they are so lovely. This head piece is killing me. I am using Simplicity 2843 for the black maid dress. It's a simplified version of view B.
I love doing this so much. Well, I love swing the first one, but the second and third versions get a bit tedious, especially when they are so similar. I will have to mix it up a bit. As much as maid costumes can vary, anyway. I try to get thrills where I can.
They want the 5-year old to be "tweenie" and I was laughing that they even knew what that was, but they do, from a book about Victorian servants I got them a bit back. I had to look it up. They love every book in this series.The illustration style is not what they usually are into, but there is something about these books that they can't get enough of. Maybe because they are filled with very interesting and gruesome facts.
I finished up this cross stitch after taking a 4-year break from it. It was the perfect project to finish at the beach. I used dark teal floss on a light brown linen. The pattern is by Mary Riggs inspiried from Quaker samplers. I can't find the pattern online, but it's from her Sampler Ornaments 8, if you want to ask your local needlework shop about it.
There are a few mistakes and some lazy thread floats on the back, which you can see through the linen, but I still love how it turned out. I have already started a similar pattern with red thread which I have messed up in a bout of over-excited stitching and am now taking out. Or plan to take out, but haven't yet. I really have mellowed with my cross stitch angst. I usually don't do well with projects sitting for any length of time. I need to get them done. With this new one, I know I may not finish for 4 more years and that feels just fine. If I only work on my stitching at the beach or on vacation, so be it. It might not fit into everyday life right now. That makes it even more special in my mind.
Like with knitting, the wanted to do this after watching me. And, similar to knitting, they had tried cross stitch when they were younger, and it was too hard. Now seem to really enjoy it. I made sure to pack a little project for the older girls to take to the beach just in case they wanted to try. The 5 year old uses sewing cards, the hard cardboard kind you sew with shoelaces, which she loves.
My knitting has cooled a bit. The sock class I took in April, while so interesting, kind of burnt me out. I just don't do well with knitting homework, especially on size 0 needles. But I have some projects in my brain. And I certainly have a lot of yarn.
We saw Brave and liked it a whole lot and Pete and I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, which had some beautiful imagery—but overall I was disappointed. I think I read too many "this is the most amazing film ever" type reviews.
We had so much fun last month working on a Florence Nightingale theme. I think they were into it for about 6 weeks, or maybe longer. We read everything we could get our hands on from the children's/youth section at the library. I put everything on hold and it all comes in really fast. There is so much, both non-fiction and historical fiction about her, I was really surprised. One of my favorite parts about doing this kind of learning is that we are always discussing how the biographies differ—what is left out, or over-simplified or conflicting information. Florence had a pretty troubled relationship with her parents and sister and the pressure to marry and this was fascinating to learn about for all of us. As was the concept of nursing being an unfit profession for a lady at that time.
All three girls get into the themes in different ways, but they all were intrigued by the filth and horrible conditions of many hospitals at the time of the Crimean War. There was much discussion of rats, raw sewage, and hand washing.
We did a play at the end of this theme. Well, not really a play but, what do you call this—live role paying? Sadie appeared in costume as Florence Nightingale and explained all about her life and answered questions from the audience (which included her parents and Grammie) while her trained nurses administered medicines and treatments to their injured soldiers.
We made the costumes up super fast. I wanted to sew new costumes, of course, but I didn't want to lose the momentum we had going and it's pretty fun using what we have in creative ways. So they wore prairie dresses I had sewn them last year and added nurse caps. Florence wore a long skirt of mine pinned in back and a velvet blazer she had—it's all about the hair and lace cap with Florence anyway, and the lamp, which her dad made from paper about 2 minutes before the show.
Before the performance Sadie took notes and thought about what she would say about her life and I told her the types of questions we would ask. She was so great off-the-cuff and her ability to remember all the details about Florence's life was pretty impressive. Delia corrected her a few times, which was cool to.
It made me realize how much learning we do by talking. All day we talk about what we are learning, and discuss specific details of who we are learning about. They are really comfortable talking about the facts of history and also about how the people we learn about may have felt. We talk a lot about emotions and reenact a lot. It's pretty amazing to watch this kind of learning unfold.
"Message in a bottle" is not just a pirate movie cliche. It's a form of communication that has been used throughout history for serious purposes. England's Queen Elizabeth I even appointed an official "Uncorker of Ocean Bottles." And as recently as 2005, a message in a bottle saved the lives of 88 refugees adrift in the Caribbean Sea on a damaged boat. Glass, it turns out, is an excellent container for carrying sea-born dispatches. It lasts a long time and can even survive hurricanes. In accordance with the astrological omens, I nominate "message in a bottle" to be your metaphor for the rest of 2012. One way to apply this theme is as follows: Create a message you'd like to send to the person you will be in five years, perhaps a declaration of what your highest aspirations will be between now and then. Write it on paper and stash it in a bottle. Store this time capsule in a place you won't forget, and open it in 2017.
This was taken by Sadie at the Portland Rose Garden on summer solstice. We had a picnic dinner up there to celebrate and the weather was perfect. Unlike now. The weather is bad and rainy, rainy, rainy.
A few links:
I used to keep a journal faithfully. I started in college and continued until Sadie was born. About 12 years. Then I stopped. A couple years later I started this blog. I thought for a little bit a blog would suffice, but it's totally different. That's fine. I still write, and I like writing, whether in a journal or on a blog. I do miss my own handwriting and the act of writing by hand, just for myself.
I spotted this journal, Q & A a Day: 5-Year Journal, when I was out with my middle daughter and she remembered it and gave it to me for Mother's Day. It's simple, just a question a day. It will be interesting to see how the answers change year after year. It's a 5-year journal. A blank page can be hard, so the questions are a nice prompt. Just like this drawing book I just got Sadie.
I did get a lovely question based journal, Keel's Simple Diary, a bit back from a dear friend and I love it, but ink has never touched its pages. I read it often and laugh at the questions, I just can't fill it in for some reason. It almost has too much personality for me to contribute to. I am tempted to revisit it now that I am back in a groove. Two journals at the same time? Crazytown. I really would like to make/design something for my girls like these journals, for them to answer questions and reflect on their day with some guided suggestions. It would need to be bigger and easier to write in, with more space and maybe a place for little drawings, too.
Getting back to the Q & A Journal, the questions are simple, but sometimes not so light. There's not enough space to complicate or qualify every answer, which is perfect for me right now. And I haven't used it every day, hence June 5th being blank. I'm trying not to be all crazy-perfectionist about it. I love seeing it on my desk. It's small and thick and very pleasing to handle. I have a special pen I use too, which the fairies haven't squirrelled away yet.
I'm moving my studio into what used to be the playroom. That was just one sentence, but it feels like it could be a novel. I really don't like moving in any way. It's the stuff and the feelings attached to the stuff. I don't have much stuff actually, and over the years have been ruthless with what I keep. This goes for fabric, art, craft supplies, photos—all that. So what remains is potent and exhausting to handle. It's not that all these memories are sad, but they are filled with such strong feelings. It's exhausting for me in every way.
I've been really grumpy for the last few Saturdays as I try to move boxes filled with photos and life debris that I sort through until I can't anymore. Up pops without warning artwork I did in highschool, back when all I wanted to be was a painter, and old letters from my father who passed away 10 years ago. I start to feel like I just can't do it. But I have to because we are moving our bedroom downstairs into my old studio room, so our almost 10 year old can have her own room and not share one room with her 7 and 5 year old sisters. Very reasonable and fair, I say. It was my idea. She doesn't know she needs the space, but she does. And she will get a walk-in closet and her own bathroom, which is incredible to me. I keep telling her this. Knowing she is old enough to have her own room is also adding to my emotional ride.
So, I am about 70% done with the moving of my stuff. I have been working to music, the length of one album at a time. I crank up rdio (I love rdio!) and just try not to slow down and tell myself it's okay to cry while I go through this stuff, I don't have to try so hard not to.
The photos I just found are of my mom when is she a girl, my grandmother (her mother) and my brother and me when we were 17 and 18, 2 days before he felt left for college.
We were at Ristretto Roasters (the NW location, which is in such a cool building) and were remarking on how cool it was that old library card catalogs were used for benches. "We should leave notes in these drawers," I said. And then I said, "Wait, this is Portland. I bet there are some in there."
And there was. And we added some, too.
Unrelated, we have a new apron theme. Thank you for your feedback.
For Tie One On, my ongoing make-an-apron challenge, I have chosen a lot of apron themes. I think it's been 36 now over the years. You can see them all here. I usually choose themes alone, but often my husband gives input. Usually, he is ignored. There's a delicate balance in our exchange— he tries to suggest the worst yet funniest and most imaginative theme, while I ignore him and try not to laugh or react. He is a master of summoning up both the disturbing yet sometimes ingenious themes that are even funnier when trying to imagine them interpreted in a homemade apron. A snippet of our conversation this morning:
Okay, I need an apron theme.
I don't even know what that is. Is that a movie?
It's a TV show. How about Gone Fishin'. Beach Bum. Gold Rush. Black Hole. Road Trip.
Road Trip has potential. But I have already done Local Pride.
Great Lakes. Back to the Future.
I was thinking La Vie en Rose, but I just did Floral Fun and I have done Paris before.
Jungle Boogie. That's Amore. Jacques Cousteau. Under the Sea.
Under The Sea is good.
Smokey and the Bandit.
Oh my god.
Oh, Rhinestone Cowboy. That could be horribly good.
You can see the aprons from the latest theme, Spring Showers, linked over here on Tie One On. I still haven't chosen a new theme. If any of these leap out at you, let me know.
We had so much fun making soy candles. I found all the supplies locally at Portland Homestead Supply Co. in Sellwood. I was so happy to finally make it over there. They have supplies for all kinds of things. I actually sort of yelled, "oh my god, you have bulk shea butter!" but then tried to compose myself. I will be back. They also had a wonderful and huge selection of Weck jars, which are very close to my heart, so that was thrilling. Online, Candle Science has soy candle supplies and a wonderful learning section with very helpful tutorials.
These were so easy, the only thing I would do different is add twice as much essential oil. These Weck jars held about 1 cup of melted wax, and to that we added 20 drops of oil, which didn't seem like quite enough.
Onto hand dipped candles now.
I sewed the jacket for Gammie.I was knitting a cowl for her and wanted to sew her a jacket to go with it. One great thing about sewing and knitting for other people is I can use patterns and fabrics I am anxious to try, but aren't really me. I love sewing Eileen Fisher-type clothes for Grammie and am always inspired by the lines/shapes and the knitted accessories they pair with the clothes.
The pattern is Simplicity 3506 and the cowl information is on my Ravelry page. The cowl looks wildly different than the patten photo. I made it really loose. There are notes about this. I love how it turned out, but had to decide early on that it was going to be quite different than what I had intended to knit—and that was just fine by me in this case. I loved learning this stitch pattern, sort of a fake cable, and I really what to try it again and make it more sculptural, like the pattern photo.
The jacket was pretty straightforward. I did eliminate the split cuff detail. It's a nice detail but it was causing me trouble. I used a wool gabardine for this, which I know now was not 100% wool, although it was labeled as such. When I pre-washed it, it smelled like wet acetate and it would not take a press worth a dang. So that was annoying. But it drapes nicely and looks lovely on her, as you can see. The inset pockets are handy and the pleat in back gives it great movement.
I have been sewing now while thinking of matching knitting projects. Or when I knit, I think of sewing a matching garment. Trouble!
Not sewing related:
I put together this photobook (from Shutterfly, it's the Travel Snapshots theme) and it took forever. Not in a bad way. But it was not planned. I was all set to just upload the photos and place them on white backgrounds and be done with it. That's what I do for our family albums, which I make once a year, usually in January, so then if I lose my photos I still have the album. But then I saw this cool theme and couldn't resist. I actually kind of got weird about it and it was sort of exhausting, so I was thrilled when it was done. The cover photo was of a menu board at the Milk Bar—many of the great photos in it are taken by the insanely talented Amy Sly during my visit.
Years ago I used Blurb for an album. It was fine, but there were almost too many options. But I think I should look at Blurb again, it looks like they have a matte cover option. I have never used Pinhole Press, but I love the way the covers look. I wish Shutterfly made matte covers. What do you all use?
I saw these cookie cutters and added them to my Pinterest board (titled Happiness) last spring. I bought the set at Williams Sonoma and promptly tucked the whole kit away and forgot I had it. But then, I remembered! Just last week! So we made some cookies. Everyone got to pick a vocabulary word. These were just everyday fun cookies, not for a birthday or holiday. Just 'cause.
Names were used as well.
How was I supposed to not be immature with these? There are so many things we could have written. We did a really good job controlling ourselves. These are very different cookies than what I would have made before having kids.
And—they were delicious! The recipe that comes with them is perfect. They need to to be chilled twice, and I wouldn't skip this step. I use meringue powder thinned with water to paint on the cookie where I wanted the glitter. Worked like a charm.