Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Back from the land of tall trees

Welcome to the photo show of our Summer Vacation

After a long vacation during which magical things were around every corner, it's hard to get back into the daily routine. We had an amazing trip, with only one little hiccup in the way of a breakdown on the hottest day of the year. Still, on the whole, there's nothing like a good road trip to inspire and feel free!

The Redwoods were stunning. No matter how many times I have walked under those majestic old growth trees, I am awed every time!

We hiked and played and saw herds of Elk, the ocean and waterfalls and places that make you stare in wonder.

San Francisco was a blast. So fun to visit my old stomping grounds and see the sights of the city. Taking my family to see The Palace of Fine Arts was definitely a highlight. It is one of my favorite places.

The roads we traveled are so familiar to me, every curve and bend of the highway are part of my life, It was so special to share that experience with my sweet little family.

Time spent with my California family was precious too. If you ever find yourself in Monterey, CA; go to the aquarium, it is amazing. My favorite exhibit were the giant tanks of jellyfish.

Once we got back home, we took off again for some cabins in the woods next to a river with great friends and family. What a summer we've had so far!

How about you? What have you been up to?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Road Trip

Oh goodness me! The last month of school had me jumping and jiving with all the activities and meetings and so on. Haven't had much time for this happy place. And now we are getting ready to hit the road for a much anticipated vacation. The packing has started, lists have been made, camping gear double checked and we are buzzing with excitement.

I'm taking along the finally finished Doll Couture Commission to deliver. I've been snipping and stitching away in small scale. While it's been a really fun job, I think I might take a break from sewing for wee dolls for a bit.

I'll be back soon with tales of our adventures! Until then, you can keep up with me over on Instagram under lolanova.

Happy Summer my friends!

Monday, June 1, 2015

For the love of Jam

Yes, it's that time of year again. The annual making of The Jam took place this weekend. Fortunately we have a well seasoned team that makes it all the more enjoyable.  Just open the windows to release the steam, crank up the tunes, and get to work!The 3 of us all did our jobs with great efficiency and mostly joy. Notice I said mostly, near the end I admit to getting just a wee bit cranky due to overheating and low blood sugar.

We ended up with 37 jars of jam in total. Nice work team! This morning I baked a batch of biscuits. I then cracked open a fresh jar of strawberry jam and slathered a biscuit with it. I devoured it in less than a minute. So good!

The yearly making of the jam together began way back when The Engineer and I first moved into The Little Green cottage. Now the whole family is part of the tradition. Here's to 11 years of sweetness and kickin' out the jams!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Salad Days

This last week has been dedicated to the garden. While we planted a lot of vegetables and eagerly await the Summer months to help them grow, but right now we are up to our elbows in lettuce. This is a good thing, fresh salad nearly every night is a very good thing.

Next the Swiss Chard will be ready to harvest, The potatoes are starting to poke their leaves above the surface. I love growing potatoes. Later in the Summer we'll go treasure hunting for golden and ruby treasure buried in the soil.

A barrel full of mint is close to the kitchen door. it smells so lovely.

It is a lot of work and the weeds are always mocking us by spreading faster and growing taller than would seem possible, but at the end of a full day in the garden, it is absolutely worth it. To see our future dinners growing in our own back yard is pretty cool.

Oh and check out this handsome fellow, he and his friend came to visit after the fountain received a good cleaning. The first time we've had a Western Tanager in our garden. Hooray!

Happy weekend all!

Monday, May 18, 2015

The New Brood

Well, let's all cross our fingers that the sickness has left the building. I swear, this has been the ill-est school year in history, for the whole family. I am well and truly Over It! Ah, but let's talk of more pleasant things shall we?

It occurred to me that you were not formerly introduced to the new Brood in the coop. Last November we lost our other beloved chooks to some vicious critter, so a couple of months ago we began again with 3 wee baby chicks.

Pictured up above is Starr, a Leghorn, and so far seems to rule the roost.

This here is Loretta, an Australorp. She follows Starr around constantly, though she seems quite good at scratching up worms.

This is Van Zandt (named after the late singer/songwriter Townes), a Silver Laced Wyandott. She is independent and wiley.

Now this particular group of little hens is nothing like any other brood we have had. They are far more skittery than past chickens, even though we had the same routine as the others and handled them often. They are also contrary, they do not do what we expect them to do, what others have done. We shall see how it all works out. Meanwhile we are all happy to have chickens again. I am looking very forward to September when we may start getting fresh eggs again!

Oh and check out this video of The Engineer's brilliant automatic coop door opener that he created to keep the little ones safe.

Monday, May 4, 2015

More Adventures in Natural Dyeing

Yes, I've been at it again, I just can't stop! The most amazing results and surprises have come about, a few disappointments as well, but that is all part of the learning process.

The biggest "Wow" moment came from dyeing with black turtle beans. Depending on the fabric I used, I got deep blues to bright purple. My neighbors must have though I was a bit crazy when I was exclaiming over the results. Oh let's just face it, the neighbors thought that already.

I also tried dyeing with some Madder root and played with folding and clipping techniques. This is really fun and creates the most interesting designs.

The Blueberries on vintage kimono silk was another surprise, I didn't think that the color would be so saturated and delicious looking!

An experiment in over-dyeing created the loveliest green.

I'm even dyeing embroidery floss and loving the results.

Now, if I could just stop dyeing everything I can get my hands on and actually make something from my experiments! All in good time.

Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The last jar of jam

What a beautiful morning it is here in my little patch of the Pacific Northwest! Had my morning coffee and toast out in the garden and watched the crazy starlings splash in the fountain. The only cloud over this sunny scene is that we are on the very final jar of strawberry jam from last year. Oh, still so delicious. It wont be long though, well not too  terribly long, until this year's strawberries come on and we make the 2015 batch. Still, any length of time without homemade jam seems hard to bear. 

We shall have to find some way to carry on.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Natural Plant Dyes

from left to right: 1. Birch Bark. 2-3. Turmeric. 4-5. Beet Root. 6-7. Hibiscus Flowers. 8. Combo of 2-7.

Birch Bark

Welcome to my new addiction. Dyeing with plant and food dyes has taken over my mind and body, not to mention my kitchen. Last week I decided it was finally time to just jump in and do some dyeing as it's been on my to-do list for ages. Well, down the rabbit hole I fell!


This process is akin to mixing potions, conjuring spells and concocting surprises. Each batch of dye is unpredictable, at least for the first time for me. You never know exactly what you are going to get once you rinse the fabric after you pull it from the dye bath. It really is quite amazing!

Hibiscus Flowers

Nothing was a disappointment because it was all so interesting and exciting. With each experiment I gained more knowledge and appreciation for the art. Now I'm looking at plants and food in a whole new way. I have started a dye journal to keep track of my work; in it is a growing list of dye stuffs that I can't wait to try out. As I go for walks in my neighborhood, I'm searching out plants that I might be able to glean for my experiments.

Beet Root

For my first foray into the art of natural dyeing I kept it very simple. I used a lightweight unbleached cotton muslin for all of the dyes. I used what is considered the safest mordant (what helps fix the dye to the fiber/fabric) of Alum and Cream of Tartar in water. I simmered the fabric in the mordant for an hour. 

For the dye baths I went with some research along with some intuition. Some were simmered in water for an hour, others simmered for less time. I did feel that I should have soaked the Birch Bark for a couple of days, but I was just a little impatient. Then I left the fabric in the dye baths for different amounts of time to see what would happen.

I am so looking forward to gaining more knowledge and dyeing more stuff. It really is such a joyous (if time consuming) process. I do suspect the household chores might suffer quite a bit. That's alright, it's all for art and science!

I want to thank Annie Cholewa for her encouragement and cheering me on to give this a go!

So, what have y'all been up to?