27 September 2008

for keeping cozy

Fall has definitely arrived here in Minneapolis. I know I was celebrating its arrival at the beginning of the week, but so far it's still felt very summery (it was 85 degrees yesterday!), but today, well, today was a true fall day. Overcast and chilly, breezy and crisp. Just perfect. So I thought I'd show you a new design for fall that I'm super excited about. I mentioned earlier this week that I often have trouble deciding if I should stick with old designs, or bring in new ones. I wanted to share with you all a new design that I've been wanting to make for quite some time now, and have finally put into action.

Inspired by these (okay, that was almost a year ago!) and, more recently, this one, I'd been wanting to make some patchwork scarves. I finally got it together, when I realized that some fabric I had thrifted over the summer would be the perfect backing.

So far I've put together three of these and I'm *hoping* to have a few more done before my craft fair. But for now, I've moved on to a few other projects (some old, and some new). I'm very happy to say that all of the fabrics for this fall collection are coming from my stash. This is definitely a relief to my bank account. And, as my mom likes to remind me, I do have a lot of fabric. It has gotten a bit out of control, so I'm very happy to be using up some of it. To make room for new fabric, of course.

Back to the scarves, though...each one has a unique patchwork pattern and is backed with a thin, very soft, light wool fabric. So they're definitely cozy, but not too warm. Perfect for a fall day, like today.
Also, some of you asked about the zippy pouches and whether they will be available in the shop. My craft fair that I'm preparing for is on October 12, so right now, I'm saving everything for that. Afterwards, whatever is leftover will go in the shop. So hopefully there will be an update the week of October 13. Thanks!

25 September 2008

now who doesn't love presents?

Let's talk about my love for the US Postal Service. Okay, sure they can be annoying and expensive and unhelpful. But don't you just want to jump up and down and hug your mail carrier when they come to your door bearing presents? I do. Nevermind the fact that I'm almost never actually home when they come. But finding a box or envelope awaiting me on my front porch when I come home from work is just about the most exciting thing. At least in my book.

I'm a bit behind on this post, but I wanted to share with you a couple of the fun things that have arrived in my mailbox lately. Some of these have been from new friends that I've made out here in blog/flickrland, while others are from an old friend, and my mom. My mom, by the way, is the queen of sending good packages (including those purple corduroy shoes from the last post...).

Claire, a wonderful flickr friend, sent me this amazing wallet that she made, along with an adorable card and some vintage ribbon. That card on the right is a little description of all the fabrics that she used in the wallet and where and when she bought them all. How's that for some history?! I absolutely love it and it's so fun to think of her every time I take out my wallet. She'll be opening an etsy shop soon, so keep your eye out.

Nicole is another friend from out here. I'm sure most of you are familiar with her beautiful blog (and if you're not, go check it out. Her photographs and words always make me want to exhale). I sent Nicole some jam earlier in the summer, and she returned the gift with these amazing spices. I haven't tried them out yet, but they are three of my favorites. I'm thinking with all my meal planning, I'll be putting them to good use soon enough.

After the birthday jam my old friend Leah sent me last year, she and I decided to do a jam swap this summer. Leah and I met during our time living in Ecuador almost six years ago (wow) and lived together for a while in Berkeley, where she still lives. She and her boyfriend spent most of the summer with family in Maine, so she sent me some blueberry honey, and strawberry jams, both made from fruit that they picked themselves. The blueberry jam arrived in that lunchbox too! I'll be packing up her jams next week.

Finally, from my mom. This awesome little case was something they saw at a yard sale a while back and my mom immediately thought that it would be perfect for displaying cards at craft fairs. She was so right. She actually called me to see if I would want it, and at the time, I was at a yard sale here. Hmm, I guess it runs in the family? Anyways, I love it and will definitely be using it to display my goods at my show next month.

I really do love getting fun things in the mail (come on, who doesn't?), which is why I always try to send fun things in the mail, I know it'll come back to me somehow. Try it, because you never know what'll turn up in your mailbox one day.

ps: new banner is up!

22 September 2008

hello, fall. i do love you.

Today is the day I've been waiting for. That's right, I love fall. I've always been a fall girl. The coolness, the sweaters, the boots, the hats, the colors, the baking, the applesauce, that amazing light, and, um, my birthday...but that comes later. Yes, we have officially entered my favorite season, and I couldn't be happier. I rung in the season this weekend with a beautiful wedding of close friends, and a last-minute visit from and old friend and his wife traveling around the US from Brazil (see more about their documentary that they're screening here). It was utterly lovely and my head is still spinning. That might have something to do with all of the Spanish, Portuguese and translation to English that has gone on these past few days, but I like to think it's because it was just such a beautiful few days.

In any case, I believe it's time for my fall manifesto. I didn't do the best of jobs at my summer manifesto, but I'm not too hung up about it. This summer didn't exactly pan out as I had planned, which makes me even more excited about the next few months. So here goes, some things I'm hoping to fill my days with over the next few months...

:: knit something, anything. it's been way too long.

:: finish a book. needless to say, i didn't get through any three books this summer, so i'm lowering my standards a bit.

:: go on at least one day or weekend trip with my honey (and no, my grandpa's 85th birthday party doesn't count).

:: take more walks, especially photo walks.

:: get busy with a couple of new crafty projects i've got brewing...

:: continue my two week streak of weekly meal planning (i know, i'm already on a roll!).

:: hunt down and try out the few photobooths in this town.

:: spend more time with friends, just hanging out.

Alright friends, I think this should do it. Also, Hannah is having an impromptu polaroid week, so you can find me there. Happy fall my friends.

ps: i know with all this fall talk, that banner needs a little refreshing. this week, i promise.

19 September 2008

evolution of a design

You might have noticed that I rarely discuss my shop here anymore, or really, anything related to selling my crafts. Well, that's because I've taken a major step back from that work. It became a bit overwhelming for me and was starting to not be fun. I still do love making stuff to sell, and I have tons of ideas that I want to try out, but I just needed to take it down a notch. I haven't really done anything to sell since last spring, and in a rare burst of optimism regarding my productivity level, I signed up for two craft fairs this fall. The first is coming up in just a few weeks, and the next is at the beginning of December. These shows are sponsored by the awesome ladies at i like you, and I can't wait. I participated in their first show last December, and it was one of the most fun (and profitable) show I'd ever done, so I'm super excited to do it again.

I'm never quite sure if it's time to retire a design and get something new going, or just keep on doing what I'm doing, especially if it's been successful. I think the key is to do a little bit of both. People want to see something new, but it's important that your style is consistent and your customers recognize your work. That way, someone who's bought something from you in the past and liked it, will still like your new stuff.

I started making these zippy pouches last fall, when I was just learning to embroider. I loved the little patchwork element and the hand stitching. I've continued to make them, but the design has evolved a bit. Instead of patchwork on the front, it's now on the back. It's a little less measured and more unique.

Also, the embroidery designs have evolved. I still can't quite let go of the birdie (I do love that birdie), but even the bird has evolved- it now has legs and wings and a tail (see earlier versions here and here). And I've been working on new designs as well. Obviously, my sewing and embroidery skills have improved, so that certainly helps when it comes to design improvement and feeling more comfortable playing around with different options. I'm really excited about this craft fair, it's giving me the chance to try out some new designs that I've been putting off (let's just say, there will be a little smattering of wearable goods coming up). I also like that I have another show planned after this one, so that certain projects that I know I won't have time for by October 12 can be saved for December.

So now that I'm all revved up about this fair, I just need to get my butt in gear and start sewing. Happy Friday peeps!

17 September 2008

randomness for a wednesday morning

I recently found this post that I had started to put together over a month ago, but never published. Since I feel like I've been a little absent around here lately, this felt like a good post for this morning. I've got lots to share, but just can't seem to get it together to take some good photographs. I'll work on that. In the meantime, here are some links to keep you busy today...

I recently made these brownies. They were absolutely delicious- don't let the tofu put you off, my coworkers were non the wiser (which was good since as soon as I took them out of the oven Jared reminded me that he doesn't actually like brownies, so I'm glad I wasn't left with the entire pan for myself. That could have been dangerous!). They went so fast, in fact, that I didn't even get a photo!

this jacket, actually the entire shop, is amazing (found via heart handmade)

my friend nicole will be updating her etsy shop with a new collection soon, so stay tuned!

this new collaboration between Shari (a long time blog friend) and Sheri (a new discovery)

a while back, marthawrote a post about inspiration and it was spot on (for me at least)

These clothes are beautiful, and the photos too (via wikstenmade).

These photos are gorgeous. They remind me of the beach club on the Jersey Shore that I used to go to with my grandparents in the summers. They totally had changing rooms like this (well, actually the one in China seems closest).

These photos are amazing. They make me want to exhale. (via design for mankind)

If you need a laugh, this clip is pretty funny, no matter who you support.

Also, a big congratulations to Angela and Klay, who are both expecting little ones soon! These two ladies are among my oldest blog friends and I'm very excited for them both.

Happy Wednesday friends!

14 September 2008

it feels like so long ago already

If you've been paying attention (and don't feel bad if you haven't), you might have noticed that after talking about how much I loved the State Fair last year, I hadn't mentioned anything about it here. Well, fear not my friends, we did go. We left for Oregon right afterwards, and then I was waiting to get the photos developed, and now, well, I figured I'd better write about it before summer is officially over. Anyways, it was amazing. Even though Jared told me last year that he was good for another fifteen years (which was how long it had been since his previous visit to the Fair), he was a good sport and came with me.

We didn't visit any of the animal barns, since we saw those last year, and we wanted to see some of the stuff we missed. We did go to the dairy barn and see the butterheads, which were excellent (though being a vegan, Jared did look a little queasy around all those 90-pound blocks of butter). We also saw the fine arts and the crafts exhibits.

I loved seeing all of the baked goods, and got me thinking about maybe entering something next year. I was surprised to see that they had gluten-free categories, but didn't notice any vegan categories. I think I'll have to investigate that since almost all of my baking is vegan.
As for the food, we had the delicious fresh fries again this year, and I managed some cheese curds too. I was kind of wanting to get something on a stick--which is definitely a trademark of this, if not all, fair--but most of what's on a stick there is meat-based. I heard on the radio that one of the new foods this year was a pickle-juice-popsicle (I like to call it the pickle'sicle), but I didn't find it. I didn't even see anyone eating it, so I think it was a farce. It sounds disgusting, but I think I would have tried it (I do love pickles). I did find a waffle on a stick, but by that point I was pretty stuffed. Oh well, you always have to save something for next year!

11 September 2008

i think i've mentioned this before...

Yes, I definitely have. But somehow, I feel the topic is worth revisiting. Eating lavender is weird. I know, I came to this conclusion almost a year ago. The thing is, I love lavender. And I really want to love eating it as much as I love smelling it. So I tried out this scone recipe. I have to say, they were damn good. Although I think I could have used even a little bit less lavender. Jared said he felt like he was eating soap, and I think I agree. Not that the scones tasted like soap, no no, they tasted delicious. But, you know, the nose and the mouth are connected and if you think you're smelling soap, but what you're eating doesn't actually taste anything like soap, well, it gets confusing. In any case, the scones were good. And I think, if you're of the non-lavender eating persuasion, they would be just as good sans lavender. So give them a shot, because fall is just about here, and it's the perfect time for these- there are still local berries, and it's not too hot to bake.

The recipe is adapted from this one, over at the Post Punk Kitchen, a blog I only discovered in the last year after I fell in love with Veganomicon (same author). And as a note, I don't live in Portland, so there were no marionberries to be had (can someone please tell me what it is with that city and their marionberries?), I used blueberries.

Blueberry Lavender Scones

1 1/4 cups oatmilk (or any non-dairy milk)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbl baking powder
1/2 cup sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup culinary lavender
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1 tbl canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Combine the milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to curdle. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening and use your fingers to combine it with the dry mix. You can use a food processor here, but that just makes more dishes to wash! The dough should be a little bit chunky here. Mix in the lavender.

If the oven is not yet preheated by this point, wait. Otherwise, your dough will sit and get a little too loose. Create a well in the center of the dough and pour in the milk mixture, oil, and vanilla. Mix together gently, then add the berries. Do not overmix! It's okay if there are a couple of dry spots. Gently scoop the batter with a 1/4 cup measuring cup onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with a little sugar, then bake for about 20-25 minutes. Tops should be firm to the touch, and lightly browned. Serve warm, and enjoy!

09 September 2008

the weekend

There's so much new stuff that I want to share with you all, but we just have to go back to my magical weekend in Oregon. I had been waiting to retrieve my film photos before talking about it here.
So, my friends got married. It was so inspiring to be around these two people who love and respect each other so much, and who were surrounded all weekend by friends and family who do the same. It was beautiful.
The ceremony itself was meticulously planned, incorporating many traditions and rituals that had particular meaning to the bride and groom, and including many close family and friends as well. Even the ring box was handmade by one of our friends. Also, it was ridiculously fun. I went to college with both the bride and the groom, so suffice it to say that this wedding served as a mini reunion.

I hadn't seen any of the people there in at least two years, some even longer, and it was a true joy. I don't remember the last time I laughed that hard.

The rehearsal dinner was a western theme (the wedding was held at a ranch) involving lots of costumes, there were lawn games for everyone the day after the wedding, and even some, um, late night naked volleyball (I had no part in that last activity, seriously).

It was also amazing to finally introduce Jared to so many of my friends who hadn't yet met him. And also to meet some new people in my friends' lives as well. There were lots of smiles, hugs, stories, games, and even happy tears. There was plenty of time to just hang out, which was so great, especially since so many people had traveled to be there. All in all, it was an amazing weekend, and I already miss it.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that Oregon is beautiful?

ps: I've got tons more photos that I'll be slowly uploading over here, so you can check those out too.

05 September 2008

the gift

A little while ago, I had alluded to a top secret project that I'd been working on over the summer. I wasn't able to share it here until now, as it was the present I was making for the wedding I attended this past weekend. The wedding was of one of my college roommates. An amazing woman, who I only befriended in my last months at school, and I am so grateful that I did. That last semester before my graduation, I had the joy of living in an incredible Vermont country house with three incredible ladies (plus one frequent visitor from Northern NY state...). That house was full of laughter, hard work, new friendships, delicious food, lots of cuddling, important life conversations, and loads of fun. Oh yeah, and it was beautiful as heck.

When my friend got engaged last year, the other four of us knew we wanted to do some collaborative gift for her. Of course, we wanted it to be handmade, but the four of us literally live almost as far apart as we could get from each other: Oregon, Minnesota, Vermont, and New Orleans. Not the best setup for a collaborative handmade gift. So we brainstormed, and came up with an idea that I'm really proud of. Meet the mini-quilt.

I used a photo that I took of our house back in the fall of 2004 (during the peak of the Vermont fall colors) and printed it onto Crafter's Image Photo Fabric. I used this as the central piece and also as the inspiration for the rest of the fabrics in the quilt. I'm proud to say that all of the fabrics (including the photo fabric, actually) that I used for this project were from the stash.

I wasn't exactly sure where this project was going to go, since I kind of worked it out as I went. This might explain why it turned out just a bit wonky. I did solicit some assistance from the nice quilting ladies over at Glad Creations Quilt Block, who were ridiculously excited when I walked in saying "I'm a new quilter" and asking for advice. They were very helpful. I machine quilted the whole thing, which made me realize that I don't think my Singer 5050C was built for free motion quilting (it may be time to figure out what this walking foot thing is). It would have been nice to hand quilt it, but I was running low on time (and I did need time to make that dress, which, incidentally, was a total hit). I did do the binding by hand though, which was a nice way to finish off this project that was so full of love.

It was such a joy to present this gift to my friend on her wedding day and I can only hope that she'll cherish it in her home as much as I cherished making it for her (there is, after all, a sleeve on the back to allow for wall hanging-and I'm expecting it to be prominently displayed in their home!).

02 September 2008

something old, something new.

Isn't that what they always say for weddings? I think so. Well, I certainly had a little bit of both these past few days. This weekend was a.maz.ing. I'm not even really sure how to begin to recap it, except to say that it was exactly what I needed. Every moment of it. I'm going to start at the very end of the weekend and work backwards for you. The part that directly proceeded my carry-on bag being chock full of polaroid film.

I know that I've talked before about how much I've come to love blogging and flickring primarily because of the awesome people I've met through the internet. Well, this weekend, I had my very first flickr meetup. In Portland, Oregon. After spending four solid days with some of my closest friends, it was incredible to meet perfect strangers (well, sort of) and feel just as comfortable around them as I had around my college friends (some of whom I had even lived with at various points).

We chatted, whipped out our cameras, gushed over polaroids, drank coffee (and chai), rolled our eyes at the dude next to us who totally wanted to join our little party, and just got to know each other. At least for the hour we had before I needed to race off to the airport. It was a perfect way to end a perfect weekend. Thanks ladies!