Tuesday, July 29, 2014

These days


These days the bed rarely gets made. We throw our clothes all over the floor - having acquired a temporary amnesia as to the whereabouts of the laundry hamper. The table is sticky from Popcicles, littered with the souvenirs of our adventures, and a seat is always reserved for the newspaper crossword puzzle. There are ponies strewn all over the house and in the garden.

These days all of my photographs are of my girl, family, the garden, produce, or food. The best photo ops are never captured because we are too immersed in the moment to break away long enough to take a picture.

These days I am feeling better. I had a rough patch recently. I was feeling the crush of the sadness out in the far flung world and the weight of tragedy close to home. Getting outside and adventuring has helped so much; hiking down a mile of switchbacks to reach a secluded lake, hiking that mile back up again, swimming in the river, and swinging from the monkey bars at the park. Apple pie and fresh blackberry milkshakes have helped a lot too.

These days Pony Girl and I have been listening to pop music. Especially in the car. I'm learning to listen and sing along without cynicism, or cringing. There is a spectacular joy in sharing a loud sing-along in a car with your kid! Never make anyone feel bad about the music they love.

These days are rushing by. It was just the 4th of July and then I blinked, now it's nearly August. I'm only feeling like I've just now got the swing of Summer.

What have you been up to these days?


Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Time


Our faces have the full flush of Summer, rosy cheeks, tanned shoulders and hours of play with good friends. These two in the photo have been buddies since they were babies. After hours in the kiddie pool, catching bugs, and playing hide and seek - they ended up in the cubby house for a break with the chickens. I love this photo. I had to sneak up to the window to get it. It speaks volumes about summer, childhood and good friends. It tells the story of a perfect day. 

All my crafty plans seem to have vanished with the sunshine. It's all about kids, family, fun and lots of towels in the laundry from all those kiddie pool/sprinkler adventures.

Summer has also been all about the produce! Our first full summer at the new house with all the garden has to offer, has been a busy one. I'm learning a lot about how I am not managing the maintenance as well as I could. But who has time to pull weeds when the food keeps dropping into our laps, literally! 


These gravenstein apples completely took me by surprised. They are falling from our tree about three weeks early. Maybe it's all the heat we have been having. This is about 25 pounds worth, and there's more. I'm grateful, believe me... but applesauce and dried apples and pie have made the top of the list over any stitchy shenanigans. 

What are you making?


Monday, July 14, 2014

The Better Bag Maker Book Winner - Again


Hi all! I am re-posting the winner of Nicole's book as I have not heard from Vicky Haynes! Dear Vicky, I have tried to message you about your win. If I do not hear from you by Friday, July 18th, I will have to choose another winner from the original post.

I hope to hear from you soon! Please email lolanovainfo(at)gmail.com.


Happy Monday!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ulysses Traveling Band

Porchfire, pictured left to right: 
Tim Stoutt, Alexandra Smith, Jared George, Mark Newman. 
Photo by Stacey Lynn Brown

There's a lot of hubub goin' on about the 'Power of Social Media!' It's been going on for quite sometime, but I have not been keeping up. Some of us are adept at navigating this labyrinthine Atlantis, some of us are like a fish out of water. As for me, I'm wading knee deep and braving the rapids as I go. Hey, look at me! No, not at me executing an awkward belly flop next to ragged rocks then getting swept out with the current and mixing my metaphors... No, I mean just look at me.

That's how I feel sometimes, like I'm waving madly just hoping you notice my awkward flailing. And then feeling shy when you do. I have overly enthusiastic phases, when I spend too much time online. I have days and days that go by and I don't miss it at all.

I don't know how you feel.

This is how we communicate now, for the most part. We get to send messages in real time, we get to show and tell our lives to our friends and families in an instant. We get to find that long lost friend and fill in the gaps of our lives. We get to be travelers to other worlds, other countries, other time zones, and our lives are somehow bigger; or is the world smaller?

As silly as I feel sometimes, every now again something a little bit magic happens. Something that would not have been possible without social media.

Having fallen prey to the whole #throwbackthursday or #TBT phenom (if you don't know what that is, I strongly suggest you forget all about it), I posted the above oldie photo to my Facebook page. Clearly, it's a band photo, 1996-ish. It's my band, Porchfire. I recently came across this photo after not even remembering it for years. Yeah, I was in a band, I sang, we rocked. A gypsy, a hippie, a rogue, and a Sheriff's Deputy for a drummer!

I didn't think it over much as I posted the photo, I certainly did not expect what happened after. Just because I put a funny old band photo on a post - it made for a reunion. The band got back together for a moment, all except Tim, the drummer, who doesn't computer face. Not just the band - the photographer, and the old friends that haven't spoken in years...they talked (typed) to each other. The photo was shared by a couple of the original hooligans pictured and so on... and soon it kind of took over. It was a little overwhelming.

A flood of memories, the hesitation fades, the good times are recalled and a splintered community comes together again for a brief recognition of shared experience. All us gypsies, ramblers, rogues, straight lacers... all of us, everybody, everywhere, we've grown up a little along the way.

We shared messages in real time, I made contact with a long lost friend and we started filling each other in on the years that have gone by. A good many years mind you. As funny and strange as it all was, it was also that little bit of magic I was telling you about.

I'm still a bit awkward and clumsy when it comes to social media. Sometimes I get fed up with all of it. I'm also grateful for it from time to time, for some of those long lost friends, the really good ones, have come back into my life because of it.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

6 Shirts


I may have mentioned awhile back that I have been saving up some of the Engineer's old work shirts. I made a sweet little skirt and had grand plans to make a few somethings from the rest of the shirts. That plan, my friends, took the long way 'round and other mayhem took it's place in line.


The other day as I made a half-hearted attempt to organize the overflow in the studio, I came across my collection of shirts. I was reminded of my grand plan and felt that I had 2 choices. My only options were to 1. Make good on my threat to come up with at least one new idea on the remaking of a man's work shirt (do you know how many tutorials, how-tos, and refashions there are out there on the interwebs? There's a lot!) and 2. Throw the lot of 'em into the recycling bin.

I have 6 shirts...
and a half...


It seems the Engineer has rather aggressive elbows, they seem to be the breakaway reason for a shirt's retirement. So... what am I gonna make? How long will it take? I've no idea, but I hope to throw in a tutorial here and there.

For a fleeting moment I considered a quilty type project, but then I remembered that I'd done that already.
So, my mind is a-whirl; all tempest in a teapot, hurly-burly reckless with imaginings... in subdued hues of blue and gray.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Better Bag Maker - Book Giveaway Winner!


Hello all! Today I get to announce the winner of Nicole Mallalieu's wonderful book, The Better Bag Maker!

The Winner is Vicky Haynes who said:
I've been making bags the last few months and trying to incorporate new techniques that will make them less home-made and more hand-crafted. I'm especially working on zippers, piping & topstitching. This would be a great resource and I'd definitely put it to immediate use.

Sounds like the perfect fit! Vicky, please email me with your address so I can pass it on to Stash books to send you your copy!

Thanks to all for entering and have lovely day!

Monday, July 7, 2014

In a Pickle


It is full on Summer here in Portland. The garden keeps on giving and sometimes you end up with more than you can eat fresh from the garden. So what do you do (other than gift friends and family with produce)? Well, as they say in Portlandia, "We can pickle that!"


So, armed with a handful of carrots, a fistful of Haricot vert (lovely little french green beans), and a few pickling cucumbers; I set about making small batch refrigerator pickles.

I love a refrigerator pickle; all my produce was fresh picked from my garden then ready in jars in under a half an hour. Since no traditional canning methods (water boiling bath or pressure cooker) were needed, it's easy breezy beautiful pickles! I use this method for small batch only, since they only last a little over a month in the fridge. Of course, they often don't last that long because of the eating. There are plenty of Refrigerator Pickle recipes out there on the internet if you want to give it a try.


Ours will be officially ready this afternoon (24 hours after putting up), but they taste even better if you can wait at least a few days to try them. It's really hard to wait.


Do you like pickles? What is your favorite?

I will be announcing the winner of The Better Bag Maker book tomorrow! Still time to enter HERE!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Better Bag Maker - Book Review and Giveaway!

Giveaway is now closed.


Hello and happy Monday!

Today I am reviewing Nicole Mallalieu's book, The Better Bag Maker. I love her first book, You Sew Girl! and was very excited to get my hands on this one.  I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Nicole in person some time back and I am so happy to be part of her blog book tour.

What struck me first about the The Better Bag Maker,  is that it is full of beautiful and extremely helpful photographs. Of course there's the bags, oh the bags! All the projects are based on one basic pattern, with limitless variations. The projects are ordered by degree of difficulty, from beginner to advanced sewists.

 "The Melbourne Weekender" bag is definitely on my To Make list!

What makes this book one that I will return to again and again, is the amazing Techniques and Tips that Nicole shares. With her expert guidance, there is no doubt that you too can make stunning bags with really professional finishes. The photos are incredibly helpful and I am so thrilled that I have the opportunity to learn some valuable techniques to improve my own sewing. That is what turns a good sewing book into a staple reference and resource guide that helps one become a better seamstress... and of course a better bag maker.



I absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested in not only making some gorgeous bags, but to everyone who wants to improve their skills and confidence.

I have bookmarked several pages and put a few bags on my To Make list. I think I'll start with this beauty, The Marrakesh Overnighter!

Of course if I ever do go to Marrakesh, I'll be wearing a longer skirt.

You can purchase a copy of Nicoles book, The Better Bag Maker HERE.

Stash Books has generously offered a Giveaway of The Better Bag Maker. You can win a copy of the Better Bag Maker (hard copy in the US, digital version for the rest of the world). All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what sewing skill you'd like to learn or improve. The Giveaway will be open until Monday, July 7th.
Giveaway is now closed.
Please go visit Nicole's blog, You Sew Girl, and say hello!

Also, check out the other stops on the blog tour!
2nd June – Creativebug
9th June – The Littlist Thistle
23rd June – Curly Pops
30th June – Lola Nova
8th July – Ink & Spindle
15th July – Kicki G Just Nu (in Swedish)
Giveaway is now closed.