Inflatable turkey. It's way bigger than you'd think!
It rained pretty much all weekend, but it was still warm, so we tried to get some yard work done. And we did, but there were some moments of tension. It wasn't looking productive until I remembered the scavenger hunt idea I had pinned to a board of mine. I forget to look at my own boards on pinterest (why!?) I should look at them first thing, because not surprisingly, I love all the things I pin. Here's the direct link to this nature scavenger hunt idea. I wrote our list by hand in about 3 seconds, handed it to the nearest child, and they were off—all making piles of items. I wrote down about 7 things I think:
This type of cross-training-workout-for-a-short-amount-of-time-until-you-feel-like-you-might-die is great for me. Occasionally. Like when I'm not hurt. When I can do this kind of thing, I just keep thinking about how it's only 7 minutes, and it makes it easier. Sort of.
I printed a few copies of this excellently illustrated Scienctific 7-Minute Workout from the New York Times to put around the house because somehow the cute illustrations make it seem less horrible to do. I haven't done it yet. I have done really similar workouts, but not lately. My back, while much improved (time and this book have been the key) isn't ready for this kind of stuff quite yet. But, Pete has done this and digs it. We both normally do a different circut that repeats 4 moves for 10 minute total, and this is more interesting because you only do one move for 30 seconds, resting 10 seconds in between. I actually am a little afraid to do this around him or the girls because I get into laughing fits when straining myself physically when I am not alone, and then I often get even more hurt.
I love the blue shoes this guy is wearing.
There's complete info in the link. Please don't get hurt if you try this. No one cares if you only do two moves or skip a bunch.
I just heard about Kathreen Ricketson and her husband Robert Shugg and the terrible circumstances of their deaths. I'm sending love and thoughts to their children and families. It just makes me cry. I remember when Kathreen started Whip Up and there was a group of us who were the very first contributers—it was all so new and exciting. Kathreen was so talented and went on to contribute so much to this online craft community we have. That time when it was all beginning and we were all first blogging holds such a special place in my heart. It seems like a long time ago, but it really wasn't. I can't believe she is gone.
She brought so much passion and energy to the world of creating and crafting—she will be deeply missed.
I pre-ordered the most recent issue of 111O, a journal published by the stellar micro-press MIEL, and it was delivered in my mailbox recently. This issue contains a beautiful set of postcards created by different artists—
and words from different writers responding to the images on the back of each card. It was such a pleasing package to receive, unwrap, and read. The whole project is so carefully executed and crafted. There are back issues here of 111O and I can tell you they are just as special as this one. Éireann (half of MIEL) also sells her artwork in this shop, which I continue to love and look at daily—pinned up around the house.
I've been so excited by MIEL's publishing concept since it's started. This is taken from their website:
MIEL was established in 2011 to promote and publish difficult, innovative, intelligent, and deeply felt writing and visual art. We publish poetry, short prose, photographs, and prints in forms that bridge the trade edition and artist's book.
MIEL is hosting a writers retreat this Fall, and have started a fundraiser to help writers travel there and participate. I am jumping up and down cheering, hoping they meet their fundraising goal to make this happen. This wonderful and funny video explains it all, and of course the words below it do, too. Watching and reading about this and imagining the difference it would make in an artist's ife really moves me. This is just the type of thing that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about artists and the internet and humans in general. I contributed to this fundraiser and had a huge grin on my face the rest of the day.
We just got back from the greatest trip. We were on Maui for seven days and it was magical. We studied the history of the islands for about a month before we left, reading everything we could get our hands on and it really made the trip more meaningful for the girls. Especially the shave ice part of Hawaii. There was a whole lot of swimming, snorkeling, and boogie boarding—my back is so much better. The 5-hour airplane ride was ouchy, otherwise I was pretty much normal, which was such a relief. Pete was cracking me up on the plane ride home reading out loud his google search history based on totally random conversations while we were there:
Who was the Three's Company landlord?
Why are there metal bands on palm trees in Maui?
Can you take nail polish on an airplane?
How do you boogie board?
What was the plot of Bosom Buddies?
What do you put on chocolate macadamia nut pancakes?
This is another t-shirt I had made for Pete. This one was for his birthday. Like the one I made before, I used CustomInk and was so happy with how it turned out and how fast it shipped. I did feel a little guilty, like before, that I didn't get all DIY on this and burn my own screen, but when I only want one shirt, it's such an easy way to go. I'm sure there are lots of companies that do this, feel free to suggest some others, this is the only one I've used so far. I think there's a local option, but I haven't checked them out yet.
I had the girls each draw something they know Pete likes, so Liddy drew a rocketship, Sadie a guitar, and Delia drew a robot. I scanned them and made them the same size and then uploaded the art to their site. I did convert it to line art first (in Illustrator) so I could change the ink color to white. I wonder it they could do this for you if you don't have a program that does it? I'm not sure.
Then a few clicks and and a few days later it was here and he loves it so much. We spend way too much time thinking about making t-shirts around here, mostly with sentences that are probably only funny to us. I'm sure we will make another for father's day.
I've been pretty slow on the tech front the last few years, so I'm sure most you you are already hip to all this—I just got my first smart phone last year (do people even call them smart phones anymore?) and then because it wasn't an iphone, had to wait to use instagram until it was available for android. I am only just now printing these photos, and it's so fun.
Last year all my phone photos I put on my computer and used them in family albums, but this was the first time I had prints made directly from my phone and they are so stinkin' cute and fun to look through and hold. I'm sure there are quite a few different sites out there that sell prints directly from a phone (Right? I didn't really look, but you'd think there would be.) These are from Printsagram and I purchased the mini 2"x 2" size, 48 total prints. I need to find/make a box to store these in. I'm not sure if they will be placed in an album yet, right now they are on rotation on the front-of-the-refrigerator gallery. I should probably get mini-magnets. I think these would be so swell in pasted in sketch books and as little enclosures with gifts. Thrilling!! The girls love them and I think it's such a great format for their for their photos— to tuck in letters and notes and for art projects, I'm told they are practically fairy sized.
I read once, long ago (I don't remember where) that there was no point in having a blog if you can't show what you had for breakfast. This was before Instagram. But I think it's true for both. So here's my breakfast. I have even blogged about this particular breakfast before (recipe here.) I make these often and I feel they warrant another mention. I call them Dutch Babies, which sounds like I am eating a small human from the Netherlands, but that's what we always called them growing up. I feel like I am cheating when I make these because they are so easy. I usually have it with maple syrup, jam, and lemon. And powdered sugar. Pete and I split half. So far the girls aren't interested, which is a good thing, because we only have one cast iron pan.
I had some coconut milk left over, but not much so it found its way into muffins. I liked these much more than everyone else in the house, but the kids don't really dig lime/coconut anything, so I wasn't surprised. I used this basic recipe, which I love. I used coconut milk instead of regular milk and then made a thin glaze with a whole lot of lime juice and rind. I didn't have any. They are so good. They have become glazed cupcakes in my mind, no longer muffins. This photo makes them look sad and washed out (the instagram doesn't always work for me on the blog) but they didn't look like this in real life, were very pretty. And they kept well.
I have been listening to podcasts in my early morning walks around the house with my back thing. One of my favorites (along with This American Life—any episode from any time) is Alec Baldwin's Here's the Thing. This interview with Paula Pell is so dang funny and interesting to me. Everyone he interviews is fascinating. I think Brian Williams just sounds like the niceset guy ever. There's also this video thing Jerry Seinfeld has Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Which is just what it sounds like. My brother told me about it. The one with Alec Balwid is really funny. It's the only one I've seen, actually. I'm saving them. But come on Jerry, where's the funny women? They drink coffee!
And why is there not a delivery espresso truck in existence? I think this is a great idea. Like for right now, at 6:31 am. They could drive up and make it to order. I know the average sale price wouldn't be enough to offset the gas. But I can still dream. Maybe it could be like an ice cream truck. It could just cruise around playing some cool early morning music. (Christopher Cross.) I could have a standing order, like 3 times a week they could come by between 6-8am. I could have a tab. And it's Portland, so it wouldn't be from a truck, it would be from a bike. Wait. Does this exist? I think it might. If it gets weird, it probably already exists here. I need to do some research. But now that I think of it, there would need to be plumbing, right? And electrical. Would a Vanagon work for this? Man. I know some people can make their espresso drinks at home, but a hardcore 5oz dry cappuccino requires tools I just don't have.
We picked up a few of these pet-manga books, Chi's Sweet Home, at the library and they quickly became very important in our house. All the girls love them. They are really sweet, with some wonderfully written cute/sad parts that make them all crazy. They reminded me of how I felt when I watched Snoopy Come Home, which made me explode with cute/sad emotions when I was about 8. I almost thought I would die.
In other news-
I have been standing a lot the last month, only sitting while I drive. For real. I know of evey place in town where I can eat standing up and not get weird looks or nice people asking me if I need a chair. The food carts are always good. And any bakery. My back is getting better, physical therapy has been really helpful, but sitting is sill hard and off limits, which is depressing, to be honest. It's hard to get cozy while standing.
As with any health issue (or like having a small baby) the change in what I can and can't do makes my life different in ways I wouldn't have imagined. So it's pretty cool. (Sort of. See the attempt at a positive spin?) For instance, I have learned to knit easily while standing. The last sweater and this vest (which is half done) were knit standing AND because I need to get up in the night (again, like with babies) to get my bulging disk back in place before I can sleep again (ick) I have been watching weird shows on the computer. All by myself. With no thought or pressure behind the choices. It's great. Before the back thing I never would let myself do that, I always feel guilty not doing something else (but I am still knitting mind you). It's fun and frivolous, even if I am cold, grumpy, and up at 4am in the morning in pain.
I was watching Kingdom, a great tip from my Steven Fry loving Grammie, and then season 2 of Portlandia (Netflix instant is my friend) and then over the weekend I freaked out watching 4 episodes of a show called Tabletop (not on Netflix, but free) where you watch people play board games. Wow, really? It sounds boring and geeky as all get out, and like maybe something you would only watch at 4am when you are in back pain, but I can't tell you how funny and how rad it is. This one is my favorite right now. Warning, there's swearing and bleeping and off-color humor, which makes it entertaining, but not for kids.
We play table top games in this house and while we are still newbies, the girls are getting more into them and Pete and I are too. The trick is to find good ones we can teach them without taking an hour (or more) to learn them ourselves. The beauty of this show is that it also teaches you how to play these games, which is so helpful. I can instantly get a sense if a game will be good for all of us in terms of complexity. I know I could go to a gaming night to learn at a local game shop, but I'd have to stand (weird) and also leave the house, which can be hard sometimes, except for when it's not, but I never know when that will be.
My newest workshop is over at creativebug. This class is a little different than what I have taught before—it's all about /journaling/ record keeping/documenting everday family life in a non-traditional, messy, free-spirited way. It was so fun to do and I sure hope you all dig it. There's a short preview you can see for free right here (click on the image in the link.)
This workshop is available as part of their subscription or as an a la carte option, meaning you can just buy one class at a time. The new a la carte option is available for all my classes now, so if you were holding off because a subscription wasn't the right fit for you, here's another choice. Yippee!
Once again, I feel so lucky to be working with the amazing people at creativebug. Their genuine passion for what they do is so evident in their work.
Thank you for all your support this week. We've been feeling a huge internet hug and it's wonderful.
I finished the Toulouse Sweater (here's my project link) a few days ago and I can't tell you how big of a deal this is. It's my first ever knitted sweater. My 3rd attempt. My first sweater attempt was about 13 years ago, when we lived in Seattle and I was super new at knitting (I'm still new) but new enough to not realize how silly it was for me to try a sweater with tiny needles and no real experience. I still have that yarn. Then, about 4 years ago there was another sweater attempt, and it was very sad because I really thought I could do it, I had quite a few knitted projects completed so was full of hope, but after many twisted stitches and needles that were too long and me not knowing what I was doing, it got frogged and that yarn has made all kinds of accessories and I still have some left.
But, then I tried agan. I started this right before we found out about Grammie's cancer and later I felt guilty I wasn't knitting her hats, but at that time we were told she wouldn't need chemo, so off I went, knitting away. The long tie part took forever. Through the holidays and all the issues with Grammie I kept knitting, and it was so therapeutic. Especially because there wasn't a whole lot of thinking involved, just knitting. It was really great, mostly because it was taking so long. It was so nice working with my hands, knowing I wouldn't have to think of another project any time soon. I sewed 3 costumes, a dress for myself, and 2 skirts, and 3 robes with matching eye masks for the girls during this time too but sewing goes so fast, and I needed to come back to the same project over and over again, and this was it.
We are seeing the same people at the chemo center every 2 weeks and they have seen me knitting this, so I'm going to wear it next week. I was getting some grief over the huge armpit holes a guy pointed out to me when we were talking. He was concerned about that, I reassured him I could stitch them up and you wouldn't be able to tell. I plan to show him my armpit next week.
With sewing, I can pretty much visualize exactly what the finished piece will look like and hang like when I see the fabric, but with knitting, the string, or the yarn, is so different than the fabric I make with it—it's really thrilling. I thought I would get sick of the color of yarn, but I didn't at all. I have already cast on for this pattern, which is an entirely different look, hobbit cute, which I'm excited about.
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.
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.
I made another dessert from the December Martha, this time a raspberry-marzipan tart. It was very good. I made no changes, except I did cook it about 12 minutes longer and used a slightly small pan, so it was taller. I actually chilled it overnight and then served it room temperature Christmas evening. It was a huge hit and I was told it tasted "fancy-bakery good".
Speaking of Martha-ish stuff, I may be the last one to know that Everyday Food is no longer. December was the last issue. It looks like there will be supplements in some of the Martha magazines and a strong online presence, but no more monthly digests. Bummer. The first 5 years were golden, in my book—I have them all. I collected them sporadically after that, but I still go through the first few years often. They are Pete's favorite to cook from and for my 10 and 8 year-old they are perfect for learning to cook. The one-page short ingredient list with photos couldn't be more appealing to them. And they are so easy for them to hold and read from. I try to have them take turns, once a week, picking an entree, side dish, and dessert to make for the family, with help, but they need help less and less. It's pretty wonderful. They don't always eat what they make but they always give it a real try if they have made it themselves.
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.
Until recently, I had never cooked with puff pastry. I was talking to Melissa about this. I'm not sure why, it just wasn't a thing I ever thought to cook with. This is my third dish using puff pastry, all have been savory so far. I made a simple pizza-like dish. And then I made this indian stew in a cast iron pan and topped it with a sheet and baked it for 30 minutes. Wow!! So delicious. And so fancy. I'm looking at this next. I have no desire to make the puff pastry from scratch, yet. But who knows. I thought about crackers once, too.
The newly turned 8-year old got an instamax mini film camera for her birthday from her uncle and we are freaking out over all the accessories at MochiThings. Like these stickers that are cut perfectly to fit over the plain white film border. Cute attack!
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 didn't take this book home of course, but read it several times when we were in Sunriver. It was outstanding. I love looking at cookbooks in vacation houses or rentals. Not like we are in a ton of rented vacation homes, but you know. It feels different than the piles of cookbooks at a thrift shop, because these were put there for a reason, they have been collected and used. They might not be an A-list cookbook, but they still have been kept. I love the emphasis on International here.The cover is pretty great. I also have a soft spot for self published group cookbooks, so I did buy one at the High Desert Museum, put together by its members. Also in this house there was a cookbook based on episodes of I Love Lucy. The Vitameatavegamin was appropriately boozey. Classic.
Unrelated ATC excitement!
Remember long ago when wise craft and house on hill road did that kids ATC swap? Well, I didn't know it, but it has been carried on and now is organized by bright eyes + blue eyes. We are signing up now! Ages 4-12! I can't image the work that goes into organizing this, so thank you for doing it, ellie and abby. And outside of the USA kids are especially encouraged to join-up, too!
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 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.
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'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.
For my 40th we had a shindig and it was pretty wonderful. Desserts were brought and consumed with much enthusiasm. I need to take a moment to document these wonderful offerings—mostly for myself so I don't have to dig around and pester people later trying to remember where these recipes came from.
Unrealted to desserts:
Nick Waterhouse was on heavy roation and I can't say enough how much I am loving his newest album.
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.
When I turned 30, it was a blur. I know that was a Big Deal birthday too, but we had just bought our first house that year, and I was pregnant with our first child, and I just don't remember thinking much about it—except being very happy we both had a house and a child on the way. That's all I remember. The next 10 years flew by and brought more life, death, pain, happiness, change, growth, and just stuff, than I had ever experienced before. Especially compared to my 20s, which seemed to last forever and were not terribly dramatic.
Now I feel more settled. I finally can attest to what older friends expressed—aging for them meant they stopped comparing.* I thought I did that already in my 30s, but I really didn't. Especially when it came to raising children. I have gotten so much better at trusting my gut instincts and not endlessly questioning my decisions or defending my choices. I am happy to say I feel grown-up, not that I am pretending to be a grown-up, which is how I felt 10 years ago.
So, time to eat some cake for breakfast, 'cause grown-ups get to do that whenever they want to.
*They really said they finally stopped giving an F what people think, but this is my personal spin on it.
The two older girls and I got up early to get to the Beaverton Farmer's Market before it got too crowded. It was already crowded at 8:15! I gave them some spending money and they bought everything they wanted themselves. I am trying to remember to carry cash so they can do this, or remind them to take their own money. The scones were very popular. I didn't get a chance to sample the sauerkraut table, but I need to next time. I did get a huge bag of fava beans, which always makes me laugh because after we shell them and then blanch them, and shell them again, we have, like 10 beans, from a 1lb. bag. I love this salad with fava beans, but I'd love to just heat them in a little butter and salt and pepper and serve them with fish.
It has taken me a full week to feel normal after our trip. I just could not get enough sleep or push the clouds from my brain. I am helping with costumes for the girls' upcoming ballet production, and we have had violin recitals and more upcoming music recitals and dance rehearsals—it's all exciting and fun but it's making May and June seem a bit nutty. And I have a big birthday next week. 40. I have thoughts about this and then I forget them. And then have new ones.
I can't stop looking at Camilla's Drawers. (No, not her underwear.)
There was a ton of amazing homemade food at the wedding in the woods we just got back from and one of the salads was an apple fennel slaw. I think I blogged about a similar slaw last year, but here it is again in a different form. I made this variation with what I had and then added some more to it.
The basic slaw is:
To this I added:
We have a beautiful dining room table, a teak Danish piece with a hidden leaf which we have out all the time, so it's huge. For about 3 years now it's been our family craft table. I cover it with oil cloth and never really see the top unless we have family over for brunch, or I am replacing the oil cloth. At first I sort of cringed when we would craft on this amazing piece of furniture, but now I'm used to it. It means our dining room is a craft palace, complete with a sweet little chandelier we installed 2 years ago, thinking we would be able to use the dining room as, you know, a dining room—but it hasn't really ever turned out that way. This formal dining table is our home base for so much of our daily activity, cleaning it is near impossible. It's more like sorting stacks. Stacks upon stacks.
For meal time we all crowd around a very small table in the kitchen. A table that belonged to my husband's family, the table that was in their kitchen, not their formal dining room table. We have had it forever, in all of our apartments and then after we were married, and we always laughed at how his family of four squeezed around this small table for dinner every night. This was back when there were just two of us. Now we squeeze around it for every meal, but instead of 4, as it was in his family, it's 5 of us. We always meant to get a larger kitchen table to eat around, but it's such a workhorse and has lasted so long, and now we are used to it. Plus, it fits in the kitchen perfectly.
I knit this hat a while ago and it's been my go-to hat since then. Here's all the info on Ravelry. I am sad to say I have needed it a lot lately. It's just not very warm or sunny here right now. I am big hat pinner. I like to wear them far back and then clip them, either with bobby pins or little clip barrettes, to keep them from falling off. Then I can still show a little hair up top. I keep the clips/pins on all my hats to avoid the cursing hair accessories while running out the door search. Knitting wise, I am almost done with a scarf. My one sock (really, an anklet at this point) is hibernating. I needed a break, but I am sure glad I took that class.
My children are true Oregonians. What rain? What wind? It's not cold (yes, it was) let's play on beach!
I knit this hat while we were there for the long weekend a few weeks ago. The pattern link and yarn info is here on my ravelry page. I did the version where you make a swatch and then measure the head it's going on and kind of just make your own pattern, which worked perfectly because I always have her head nearby to measure. I added the red heart with a duplicate stitch.
my homemade BB cream
I will cut to the chase for my preferring-to-not-read-long-blog-post friends. Here's what I mixed together to make my own BB cream. I didn't buy anything new— it's made from my favorite items I already had at home.
So, what's a BB Cream? (Or, you may be saying, duh, I have been using one for like, a long time, and where have you been?)
Here's a description of what BB creams are. They are pretty much all face products mixed into one tinted cream. I have been using my homemade one for about two weeks and except for some separating (which doesn't really bother me, because it still smooths on fine) I like it a whole lot. I did use a sample of a real BB cream for about a week so I could see what I was trying to copy and mine seems just as good and matches my skin better. I didn't add any serums or any age-defying products to this, mostly because I like to use these products at night on clean bare skin, like the oil I sell (ahem.) I use this as an all-in-one make-up product, not a treatment.
Now the back story and a bunch of words:
It started off pretty innocently. I just asked a fellow make-up loving friend if she had used a BB cream. I had only just heard of them. Or noticed them, I guess. I was thinking about green eyeshadow or something else last year when I know I first heard about them, but then I forgot. But when I noticed an entire page dedicated to them on the Sephora site, I thought I better ask around. Up until recently they were only available overseas—which is of course why my good friend had them already and had been using one for about 2 years. Because she's all about the hard to get items. And her skin always looks amazing.
So, I trekked off to Sephora to try one, one that seemed from the description a little less synthetic/chemical/ nasty than most, and found one I really liked by Boscia. There is only one color and it would be perfect for me in the summer, but I think it might be ever so slightly dark for me in the winter. Awesomely, Delia lost a front tooth while we were there trying on make-up and was treated like a princess and was given her own sample container for her tooth.
My homemade BB cream with the lid off
Using this sample had me very excited. An all-in-one? I was more than excited, actually, because it really did make my skin look more even and smooth, but not too done. But I stressed about all the ingredients. Also I have so many products that I like and trust and have been using for years, it seemed too hard to give them up for one super-product. I then fell asleep (I was in bed) and woke up thinking "I can make my own."
Even before my slippers were on I realized, if I had thought of making my own BB cream, surely it's on youtube already. And I was right.
After watching a few videos of how to make your own BB cream, which were fascinating, kind of gross, but also informative, I tried it. And I really really like mine—better than the Bosica one, but I still like that one, too. I'm still using the generous sample I got. But it makes me look a bit tan, which I am not used to.
I have been a product mixer before. Especially in the summer. I do a quick mix on the back of my hand of all of these different combinations, as needed.
To make my own BB cream I just added more products. This was thrilling. To avoid making an icky mess (I am a bit of a neat freak about certain things, make-up being one of them), I mixed it all up in a little plastic baggy and then cut off a corner and squeezed it carefully into a sample container. I only mixed a small amount, which still has lasted 2 weeks, so I can fine tune it.
I thought about adding a serum, but I have heard it's difficult to have it mix in right, which makes sense, and serums (and straight oils) are too expensive and tricky to have the batch not work out. The best part of this homemade mix is using up the bits I had of items that were almost empty or not used for whatever reason. I made mine pretty light and wet, but it's easily thickened with mineral foundation powder. Which to me is a must in this, to give it some body and control the color better. The cream is really easy to layer and I have really liked using this under my eyes and even on my eyelids as a concealer and a base for eyeshadow.
A bit about mineral powder—I LOVE to use Alima products, they are so pure, I never stress about them in any way. I use their overshadows and foundations and blushes, and the sample of the foundations are the perfect size (and are only $1.50!) for adding to a BB cream mix. I use the full sizes, because I already have them, but I needed a darker one to correct my too light batch and the sample size was perfect.
Okay, then. I think I have exhausted this topic.
And just so you all know, I didn't get any of these items I link to for free. I'd tell you if I did. It's just me buying what I like and writing about it.
We were studying Einstein and fruit last month. For themes we tend to gravitate toward people and their historical context and then a non-human item, often unrelated, but sometimes not. There was Sacagawea and bridges a few months back and then Einstein and fruit and now we are on to Darwin and butterflies. They chose these themes and the mash-up is pretty funny. I often give a list of suggestions for the people (usually because I have a good biography stashed) and then the other topic gets announced. Or more often yelled with vigor.
So, after reading books about fruit trees, pollination, and all that, we all went to our nearby Asian market and picked out fruits, most of which were new to us. I wrote these all down and have the list somewhere. I was so happy I could do a quick search on everything we bought and see how to peel, cut, and eat it, because I had no clue for much of it and some of the skins and bits are not edible and will cause hives, or something else unpleasant.
The girls loved doing this. We had a big fruit tasting event, tried everything, they cut into them, smelled them, drew pictures of them and of course tasted them (they all did, even my most reluctant new foods eater, you know, in the name of science) and then we voted on the favorites. I took every last bit left over and saved it it the freezer for smoothies. This last shot is of the $10 dragon fruit. I am tempted to do this with veggies. And then fancy cheese.
It's now about 8" less long. Before it dragged on the floor, which looked cool and dramatic, but was a safety hazard and it was just a matter of time before it would snag, tear, and start to look a little too ragged 1990s babydoll for me. So, I wore it once long, and then put it away. And then just recently realized I would wear it so much more if it were shorter. So, I serged it off. It was cheap (forever 21) and a bit of an impulse buy—so I am happy to have figured out how to wear it more.
I have both been sewing (and buying) more dramatic clothes and wearing them once or twice, and then altering them to make them easier for everyday wear. This has been really liberating. It takes me a bit to get there. I never think when I sew or buy something, "Oh, I will change this part later." I just realize I never wear it later, after the party or event I have made it for. Then I try to figure out why, and then usually months later, I change it. I have altered a few dresses into skirts that I sewed, and they have a whole new life now. I know this isn't revolutionary, you know, altering my existing clothes, but it's amazing how I still forget I can and what a thrill it is when I do. Especially pieces I have sewn.
This cashmere sweater was on mega-sale right after christmas. It was too big, but for the price, I nabbed it anyway. I took in the sides and made it shorter—there is a great tutorial on how to do this over at Elegant Musings, including keeping that bottom ribbing. I then appliqued this lovely beaded bit I bought at Sequined Appliques. I used a little fusible interfacing on the inside of the sweater where I sewed this applique on for some stability, made some tea, got some good light, and a bit of patience. Sewing this on took a little longer than I though it would. I love how it turned out.
Along with my obsession with dickeys I have also been making attachable collars again. All different shapes and sizes. I drafted this one based off a vintage pattern, but made it less choke-y. The vintage collar are tight! I also removed the stay and didn't use interfacing. I don't mind the vintage-tight ones so much really, but it's really hard to find crewneck sweaters that aren't too deep for these collars. So, I enlarged it a bit. Adding the collar to this sweater with the applique might be gilding the lily, but that has never stopped me before. Casey also has a great tutorial for making these collars. I have been working on quite a few different shapes and closures. This one is closes with a concealed snap underneath the fabric covered button.
One tip—I do use a safety pin on one side under the collar to secure it to my sweater. It's takes an extra bit of fusing, but then I don't have to think about it again. Otherwise, it twists, continually, and I end up looking a little tipsy. Which is occasionally funny, but for this prim look, having a collar always being off-center is really irksome.
I've been having so much fun getting these oils together to sell. They are over here in my etsy shop. They are available individually and as a sweet little boxed set (at a special price!) so please head on over and read about them. I've written a pretty long description.
These, like my facial oils, came about because I wasn't finding what I wanted out there, both in terms of ingredients and price. For these blends I have used only the best essential oils, all organic, which are not always easy to find. Same goes for the organic jojoba oil they are carried in. I love creating my own scents, and in reading and researching this I found that many natural perfumes use absolutes, along with essential oils, in their blends. However absolutes are not used in aromatherapy—which is a passion of mine and maintaining the therapeutic properties of these blends is my first priority. So, the key for me has been learning how to work without absolutes, while still creating sophisticated scents and then balancing the therapeutic properties within that blend. My friends and family have been getting an earful and doing a lot of testing for me. (Thank you!)
So, The Lovely Floral Perfume Oil smells divine and helps settle an anxious brain and The Tension Relief Oil helps get rid of bad headaches. That's the short version. I love them and hope you do to. And I hope to add more perfume and treatment oils soon.
This was really fun to knit. Here are the details. It required big needles and chunky yarn and knit up really fast. I gave it to Grammie for Christmas and she has been wearing it with style almost every time I have seen her since, which is a lot—so that's been very gratifying. It's the first thing I have ever knitted her and it surely won't be the last.
A few kids' birthdays ago I printed these out and gave them away as party favors. I printed several different kinds—some of old cars and paper dolls. They all came from the agence eureka's paper craft set over here on flickr. I have linked to them before, and I just can't stop because they have provided us years worth of paper fun.
During a recent playdate there was a natural break and I took out the ones from the party that were never used and they were such a huge hit. I found them by accident, squirrelled away in a drawer. We use scotch tape for making all of these.
This one kills me and was the one my middle child went for. And it is so her.
Some random items-
I knit these legwarmers (raverly link with all the specs) back in October. I think I finished them in November.
So, this knitting thing is a pretty big deal for me because I always wanted to knit regularly and had never quite found a way to work it into my life. I was taught how, the first time, by a woman whose children I was a nanny for. This was during a summer while I was in college. I learned how to knit hats, on straight needles. So I did that. I made about 4. Then I took a class about 5 years later in Seattle and started a sweater and never finished it. Then for a few years knitted booties and baby hats, but that was about it. Then I tried another sweater, on circular needles, top down, and never finished it. And then I just realized I was okay with not knitting right now, with my life the way it was. And it bummed me out, but I moved on.
But still, I felt like a knitter. I felt like, in some parallel universe, I was not only a knitter, but a good knitter, and one that knitted a lot. And had successfully worked it into my life. I always felt like an avid knitter who didn't knit.
Out of the blue, I'm not sure why exactly, this fall I decided to try knitting again and that it was okay to be bruised by my circular needle nightmare (needles too long, twisted stitches, stressful time in my life) and I would allow myself to try again on circular needles later. This time I would only knit small projects (no vests or sweaters) and that if the pattern called for circular needles, I would give myself permission to knit them on straight needles and sew a seam. This was what I needed.
Since then, 6 projects have been completed since October, the last one being my first successful circular needle/double pointed needles project and I am so happy. I still am knitting small, quick projects—resisting the urge to take on more than I can manage. Another bonus, every time I knit, I have to sit down. I am really trying hard to not become proficient at knitting while standing. This is good, because I buzz around the house. All. Day. Long. Occasionally, I know I need to sit. And now when I sit, I knit, or read to the girls, who always come over and sit with me. Or they start knitting. Sometimes we listen to audio books and all knit together. I have found a way to work it into my life and it is so rewarding.
I think of friends I have that sew, and they sew only certain things because they have never made a buttonhole on their machines, or put in a zipper. So that's it. They don't really consider any project with buttonholes or zippers. I relate with knitting, and am still taking it in baby steps. But, ultimately I don't want to limit myself, I just need to go slow and build one skill at a time.
Since I have had some successful projects, it motivated me to try the circular needles again and the project was a total winner. It's so much easier to try something new (or something again that has been a disaster before) after I have had a few successful experiences. This has required some patience on my part, which is why I made a No Sweater rule. (For now.)
Much of my circular needle frustration was my needles were too long. I didn't know why it was so hard, but I had the wrong tools. That's why. It should never be that hard, and I know this goes for sewing, too.
So, for all you anti-button/zipper sewers out there, if your machine makes horrible buttonholes, get out the manual and figure out what's up. And buy a good zipper foot, if your machine doesn't have one. It should not be hard, and if it is, start looking at your machine, not your own ablitly—which is probably not the issue at all. Then try putting in that zipper and making those buttonholes, even if it seems like a disaster waiting to happen! When you are ready, of course.