Creativebug made this great video from Quilt Market. The new collections look so good! They talked to some amazing designers. I sure wish I could have gone.
I made some Soul Cakes for All Souls' Day today. I love symbolic food in a big way and I am intrigued by the history of Soul Cakes. I grew up hearing the Peter Paul and Mary version of A' Soalin'. You can listen to it here—so beautiful, it gives me chills.
These Soul Cakes are not very authentic. They are spiced scones, shaped round, and instead of currants they have mini chocolate chips. This is because the children that live here who go souling like this flavor better. There are lot of recipes online.
About that song (From Wikpedia):
In 1963, the American folk group Peter, Paul and Mary recorded a version of this traditional song, titled "A' Soalin," whose verses include the following:
Soul, soul, a soul cake!
I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him what made us all!
Soul cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul, and three for Him who made us all.
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.
When Pete and I have a sweet tooth, usually right before bed, we end up standing in the kitchen trying to manage the perfect handful of chocolate chips and roasted almonds. It's an awkward balance and feels pretty lame and desperate. So, my 5-year old and I made some bark to rectify this and it was so easy and so good, I am now kind of scared.
I have made bark before, but usually white chocolate with peppermint pieces for gifts during christmas. I like it fine but am not tempted by it, which is good. I also make a ton of chocolate fudge and again, I like it, but it's not my thing, so I don't get all crazy about it.
This is my thing.
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.
Here's a shout out to Gretchen and her new book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing: A Modern Guide to Couture-Style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques. I am so in love with this skirt right now!
I received this book from her publisher late in the summer and was so impressed with the detailed taloring directions, the absoultely fantastic illustrations, and the depth of information about sewing vintage style clothes.
I haven't made anything from the book yet, but have read the whole thing. Gretchen's writing voice is so great—funny, down-to-earth and silly, it's a pleasure to read. I'd recommend this book to any fashion sewer who is a bit more advanced, has a serious interest in vintage sewing techniques, and some time on her hands. This is not down-and-dirty sewing, but studied and time consuming. Which is awesome.
Over on her always entertaining blog, she is hosting a sew-a-long, along with her normal sewing-radness topics.
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.
This is the Halloween costume for the middle child. She saw a costume very similar in a catalog and wanted it. I used McCalls 5499, which has quite different lines, but I love this pattern and had enough yardage.
I'm not sure why I already had this crushed stretch velvet, but I did. In three colors, no less. The stretchiness makes it very forgiving. The real fun for me was the head piece. I found super big cotton cording and covered it with fabric and wrapped it with trim. It was like working with huge noodles. Or intestines. In an art installation kind of way.
It's sort of a weird feeling copying janky costumes from catalogs to make for them. These catalogs are not my favorite source material and it's unlikely if it's less expensive to sew them. But because I already had the fabric, it feels like it's free. Especially since I can't remember buying it. This one turned out really pretty and it doesn't itch at all, unlike the catalog ones. The next one I am finishing is a Movie Star costume, also copied from a costume catalog, which is highly questionable and definitely tacky. But whatever. It's been fun to make, too. I need to finish the fur stole, which again, is probably cheaper to buy. We did purchase one costume this year, for the 5 year old— cheerleader outfit. It has sequins, so, you know, it's an extra fancy cheerleader outfit. I got blank stares when I asked "who wants to be a maid?!"
Unrelated, (but in a way related to everything) I just read this quote from a book I am loving.
". . . once you begin to respect what you do —not in an egocentric way, but with appreciation and self-worth—then any activity becomes meaningful. Life is to be respected, appreciated, and lived full—instead of chastised or rushed through.
—Running with the Mind of Meditation, Lesson for Training The Body and Mind, by Sakyong Mipham
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!
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.
Vintage Cakes, by Julie Richardson came out in August and I went to her book signing and cake tasting event where she made about 11 cakes from the book. I sampled almost all of them. They were amazing. It was over 90 degrees that day and I didn't feel too good later, but it was for research and I'm glad I did it. I bought my copy and had her sign it and then gushed for probably way too long about Rustic Fruit Desserts.
Julie co-wrote Rustic Fruit Desserts a few years ago and it is a book dear to me. She happens to craft the exact type of desserts I love. I think I have made almost all of the desserts in Rustic Fruit Desserts so when I saw she had a new cake book coming out, I was excited, but also nervous. How could it live up to my dear Rustic Fruit Desserts book?
After the tasting I had no worries, just crazy baking excitement. The recipes are so good. There are so many kinds, both rustic and homey, and fancy and special—for this book she mines historical/vintage cakes and provides a back story on their origins, which is really interesting. And fun! These cakes are fun to make.
I have made 4 cakes from it so far, each deserve their own post. My friends and loved ones who have eaten these cakes all have given me the "oh-my-god-what-is-in-my-mouth" reaction. They are very good. This one I just made for a brunch, the Ozark Pudding Cake, which has pears, almonds, and dried cranberries. Heaven. Here's a great interview with her and at the bottom a link to the table of contents and quite a few complete recipes (provided by the publisher) with the pretty cake photos.
I finished the maid costume a bit ago. Sadie loves it. I don't think I will have to sew 2 more, the other girls are on to halloween requests, which are changing daily and seem to never invlove costumes we already have. They have asked Pete to dress-up as "guitar-playing Abraham Lincoln" which should be interesting.
For this costume, I had a blast with my Downton Abbey research and used Simplicity 2843 for the dress, the apron pattern I designed. The dress is black cotton with a zip in the back and the apron is white muslin. It was easy to sew and I spent way too long fussing with the lace placement on the apron. I was definitely in my happy place working on this project.
I didn't realize until after I was done how useful this dress is for all kinds of costumes. All black with a bit of lace lends itself to so much—a mourning outfit, Victorian dress-up, an old-fashioned witch. It's such a great basic piece.
Once again, sewing with all black sure makes me realize I need to get some better lighting in my space.
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 at the fabric store last week (Mill Ends) looking for rayons for a dress and millinery supplies and found this sweater knit that I had to buy —which was not on my list and is seasonaly innappropriate. I bought a 1/2 yard of each color, sewed it up making a tube, and sewed it into a big circle. Instant long cowl.
These are for the two older girls. They started wearing my cowls instead of their scarfs last winter because they found it easier to play and not have an unraveling scarf to contend with. Also, they wore mine because they were mine. They look adorable in them.
These ended up costing under $5 each and took about 5 minutes to sew. After typing this, I wonder, what does that mean? I never think that when I knit. I never think, oh I can make this fast and for not much money. Sewing is funny that way. Well, certain kinds of sewing is that way. Anyhoo-
To make them, I serged the loop together, but a regular stitch would work fine. I sure wish I had found some natural fiber knits, these are not (acrylic) but they are soft, hardy, and now it won't be a tragic thing if they get lost. The funny thing is the one I wore the most last winter (even with all the ones I knit) is also acrylic. It was purchased super cheap at one of those stores. Go figure. It's really long, longer than I would ever want to knit, so maybe that's why I bought it. Now back to summer sewing. I have made a dress and 2 skirts I have yet to photograph.
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 call this cake Friday Cake* but we don't always make it on a Friday. It's been a favorite for years because the kids can make it in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or even mix it in the pan. It's meant to eat right away, a few days old and it's not as good. It's a dense cake, not light and fluffy, but is perfect for customizing and when you need a simple cake, fast. I think we have made just about every flavor we can think of. We don't always frost it. For a coffee cake, I add chocolate chips and cinnamon and a quick crumb topping. For a chocolate cake version I swap out 1/4 cup of the flour for unsweetened powder. I've added spices and nuts, swirled in jam, added lemon or orange zest—all that.
I printed recipe cards for this years ago that went with mailorder #3 and that's what we still use as the basis for this. I love it that all three girls can make it on their own. It's almost as magical as an easy-bake oven! But much better tasting. And becasue it makes a small 8" x 8" cake, it's easy to let them decide whatever they want to do. Usually there are sprinkles involved. It's small and easy to eat with no big commitment. It's just a Friday Cake.
Your favorite glaze, frosting, or dusting of powdered sugar. I like to pour over hot caramel or fudge sauce. Or soft whipped cream on the side. Or bare naked. That's good too.
*I have an old blog post for a Friday cake, and while it is a real winner, it just happened to be made on a Friday, but is not what we mean when we say Friday Cake. I'm laughing that I have two different Friday Cake posts.
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.
This is the first thing I have made from Ripe, and it was really good. I made this a few weeks ago. I baked it about 15 minutes longer than it called for, but besides that I kept to the recipe. I even had golden syrup, thanks to Cost Plus. We ate it with stiff whiped cream the girls made by shaking it up in a jar. It was almost butter actually, but I'm not complaining.
The girls asked if they could make lemonade and I said yes. We hadn't before, which I realized was weird. We always have lemons. And sugar. And two of them like to drink it. It was really fun! It actually kept them busy for a long time. I let them cut the lemons (with a small serrated knife) and juice away. They made the simple syrup in the microwave and then we added about a tablespoon of homemade vanilla extract, which was soooooo good. We used this recipe and just added the vanilla to taste. It makes it taste like a cream soda. Outstanding.
Sadie asked if we could have a lemonade stand and I was smirking at what we'd put on our sign "artisanal hand-crafted organic lemonade with fair-trade Madagascar vanilla beans steeped for 6 months—locally made and brewed in Portland, OR." Portlandia skit fodder. I'd have to figure out a way to make it bike-powered. Maybe a lemonade stand by bike? On bikes we built ourselves.
We grew up making lemonade with a scoop of Country Time and water from the hose, right? And that's how you make a profit, baby!
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.
The lines at the NW 23rd Salt & Straw have been pretty insane since they opened. We keep trying to go and keep leaving before we can get in. And then we talk about how it would be funny to buy a bunch of bad ice cream bars and try to sell them to all the people waiting in line. Salt & Straw makes pretty fancy ice cream, but ice cream isn't my favorite dessert, so it hasn't been a huge bummer for me. But then, a very trusted source told me that the NW location has baked goods that are outstanding. I was intrigued.
When we noticed last week in the middle of the day that there was no line out the door, we dashed in and were so overwhelmed with ice cream and topping choices (artisanal, super-fancy, flavors here) that in a panic we option for just baked goods and a double shot of espresso. It just wasn't ice cream time for any of us, but no one in my family will say no to a baked item. Ever. There were so many choices, all baked in house. The simple cinnamon sugar doughnut was perfect and the sweet (and slightly salty) orange filled donut almost made me cry a little bit. Now my plan is to only go when they open, early in the morning, and get coffee and the baked items. They sell pints of ice cream so I can always take some home.
I'm excited by the amazing sounding toppings. I like toppings and sauces more than ice cream and the idea of one of their toppings on some cake or a fruit dessert sounds so good, I wonder if I can just buy the toppings to take home? Or ask them to put a topping on a baked item I order. That might be a little weird, but I bet it would be so tasty! Actually that would be so wrong and funny—if I ordered a donut with a topping. I am totally doing that next time I go in. "Can you please just pour it in the hole. . ."
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.
cross-stitched buttons by Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery
a project by Kate Bingaman Burt
A portrait by Delia Matern of her Dad (machine-stitched by me)
I am really proud to be included in this wonderful new book by my friend, Lisa Solomon, Knot Thread Stitch: Exploring Creativity through Embroidery and Mixed Media. I have known Lisa and admired her art and online presence since my very first days of blogging. Her work with thread has always blown me away. I love Lisa's down-to-earth and friendly writing voice. You can read about her own thoughts and the process of making this book here. (scroll down.) This book is close to my heart, it's all about working with thread, and the projects take you to unexpected places. Totes, t-shirts, shrinky-dinks, pet portraits, sashiko, it's wonderful. Very fun and very happy. It's a happy book. The whole thing makes me smile.
My contribution was stitching a free-motion portrait that Delia drew of her Dad, which is the last photo here. The dots she always draws on his face are his whiskers.
Congrats Lisa, it's amazing!
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.
We had a lovely 4th of July with family at my Aunt and Uncle's annual archery contest up in Sandy, near Mt. Hood. I was not shooting my best, but the food was delicious. The patriotic dessert table was a highlight as was holding newborn babies, bringing home 2 dozen fresh eggs, and falling in love with a pygmy goat.
I made this red white and blue trifle. I bonded with it and now am thinking about endless variations. Even though I am a huge tiramisu fan (or maybe because of that?) anything with ladyfingers. It feels so magical—layering ingredients, chilling, and voilà, it becomes a cake! It reminds me of the thrill I get making zebra cake.
I gave a lot of thought (too much, some might say) as to what I should bring to this event. I always bring a side dish and a dessert, usually a buckle, pie, or cake. They travel welI and are always popular. But, I was itching to do something different. I also wanted it to be red, white and blue. And it had to travel. There were issues. I decided putting the finished trifle (while still in the pan) into a cold cooler was key. It's a long drive.
The benefits of the trifle were many—it was super fast to make the night before and required no baking. Serving it was easy. It sliced into tidy pieces because it was still cold, so it never looked pre-chewed the way some desserts look when sitting out too long being hacked into for hours. It also used up a lot of hoarded berries making room for berry hoarding this year.
I stuck to the recipe. A spring form pan is crucial. I used a mix of frozen berries that I had and didn't worry about making one layer red and one blue. It was all good.
I did use purchased mascarpone but next time I will make it myself from this wonderful book because (A) I can. (B) I had to buy heavy cream for this, so why not just buy a bit more? 'Cause that's all mascarpone is — cream and vinegar and some time. And the almost $5 for 7 oz. was irritating.
As much as I loved the clean and simple flavors of this dessert, after eating it, I felt a strong urge to add chocolate. If fact, the next day chased a piece with chocolate chips and it was even better. At least in my mouth it was. I love berries and semi-sweet chocolate, so I think a chocolate ganache drizzle between layers would be lovey, or maybe chocolate ganache served on the side to drizzle on top. That would be perfect. So there's a choice to chocolate-it-up, or not.
Let's pretend I am hitting a bullseye here.
"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 received this breathtaking book from a dear friend for my birthday, Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard, by Nigel Slater and can't stop looking at it. It's a tome. Organized by type of fruit, it has both savory and sweet dishes and the photography is stunning. I haven't made anything from it yet, but intend to. It's just so nice to look at and read I almost forget I can cook from it.
So, in that funny way of things converging at the same time, a friend of mine last night at dinner was talking about her love of toast as a food group (I concur!) and then asked if I had seen the movie Toast, made from a memoir. No, I have not, but it sounds good, I said. And then she mentioned that it's a biography of Nigel Slater and I said I didn't know who that was because see, my brain is a sieve, and now I see that I do know who he is—he wrote this amazing book I have been poring over. Ha! And now I plan to read Toast and see the movie and check out all his other books, too. Perfect summer research.
I sewed this dress from Vogue 8472, which is a pattern I have had for a long time but never made up. It's got a midriff piece along with princess seams, so it's fun for contrasting fabric placement. It's not to be confused with this one with the same number from the 1970s which now I am needing to have, because it's so cute.
Some thoughts and information:
I saw Moonrise Kingdom and liked it a whole lot. It wasn't my favorite of his films, but it's still pretty wonderful. And how tempting is it to make that dress of Suzy's?! Gah. It's too young (and short) for me and too old (and short) for Sadie. I might make it (not so short) and save it for her so in a few years she can wear it. I just bought this vintage pattern and can draft the collar much bigger (see the black version.) The collar and cuffs would be so fun to make. Then she can wear it to a Wes Anderson Movie Characters Halloween Party that we all will be going to that someone needs to have.
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.
This challah french toast with raspberry maple syrup was made for father's day. This is a father's day size portion.
We make it so often, it's not really all that special, but it is that special. It's hard to make something new when we love this so much. What tipped the scale for us years ago was when, having an abundance of frozen berries on hand (I am a berry hoarder), I thew a handful of berries in the maple syrup when I was heating it up. And then angels started to sing. I actually get sad thinking about all the years we didn't eat french toast, or pancakes, with berry maple syrup. Maybe everyone already does this? But I didn't for years. I'd add jam or berries on top, but never mashed up berries warmed with the maple syrup.
While I am making the french toast, I throw frozen berries in a glass pitcher, add maple syrup, and then heat it up in a little pot of boiling water, or even easier— for 2 minutes in the microwave. I give it a good mash and that's it. Any left over is kept in the fridge to add to yogurt, granola, and whatever seems it would be good with. So simple. I have made it with pretty much every berry, but I think raspberries are my favorite.
I keep looking at these photos from Where Children Sleep: Portraits from Around the World. So fascinating.
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.
Sadie and I picked up this book, 642 Things to Draw at our local art store and had to buy it immediately. I still can't get it away from her. It's simplicity is pretty wonderful. There are spaces for drawings and words in the corner telling you what to draw. I hope to get some of my own in there and add some color.
I was just telling Pete the other day how much I miss drawing regularly. But what to draw? What if I don't want to come up with some big concept, or something to sell, you know? Sometimes I just want to draw a rolling pin. Or a bottle of glue. But I stall, forgetting I can draw these simple things for no reason at all. Brilliant!
These are all Sadie's drawings.