Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lola on Holiday

And we're off! Our little family has gone on vacation (sadly not with the above luggage set. Oh if only). I shall return in about 2 weeks time and fill you all in on our holiday adventure. Until then, take care and be well!



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's the little things

Sometimes it is the little things, the small everyday joys that remind us that life is sweet and good. Something like an impromptu gathering in the back yard on a beautiful summer night. With friends and family, playing music by candle light and laughter so genuine that it makes your sides hurt.

Or an unexpected parcel in the mail from across the sea with something so beautiful inside you can't stop smiling. This wonderful bunting made from vintage embroidered linens was made with care by Abi of Littlegrubs. I had won something on her blog ages ago and then promptly forgot about it. She recently got in touch with me to say something was on it's way. She could have left it alone and I would have been none the wiser. I am so pleased that she didn't and now I have this lovely bunting proudly displayed in the cottage. Thank you.

The little things that mean so much, that keep us going in rough times, that help us appreciate what we have.

Like finding eggs every day.

...or the best biggest little thing of all, this beautiful girl's smiling face.

What are your favorite "little things"?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hello Monday Delicious

Delicious, fresh from the oven, triple berry muffins!
So good, so very good.

adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup of berries (you can use fresh if you have them. I use a frozen berry mix of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries slightly thawed)

Line a 6 muffin, muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. (190 C) with oven shelf at the middle level.

In a large bowl, with a wooden spoon, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Spoon half of the flour mixture and half of the sour cream onto the butter/sugar mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until most of the flour disappears. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream, folding in just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in the berries.

Fill the muffin cups by spooning in batter almost to the top. Dust the tops with a little sugar.

Bake the muffins for 25 - 35 minutes or until the muffins spring back when pressed lightly in the center with your finger tip and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Unmold the muffins from the tin and turn right side up on a wire cooling rack until you can't stand it anymore and eat! Makes about 6 muffins. you can double the recipe very easily for 12 muffins.

A metric conversion can be found here

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Let The Sunshine In

I can't be certain but, it is possible you heard some grumbles over here recently concerning the state of our weather. Well, I'm happy to report that it looks as though Sir Summer has arrived at last! Alright, I'm not placing any bets, truth be told it could just be a short visit as opposed to say, an unpacking of his steamer trunk and moving in. Still, I refuse to peek at the weather report nay, I am choosing to live fully in the moment and bask in the glory of the sun's restorative powers.

You should see us, we are a city...a whole region even, of blissed out, smiling and waving and greeting one another with a "how do you do" and "Oh isn't it gorgeous?" Yes, life is grand and all is fine here under the bluebird sky!

This fine turn of events has inspired me to complete the lounge as it's been languishing in it's half done state for too long. That is not to say I can now declare it "done and done", for I'm afraid I am just not a resident of the land of done, nope - I live in a little green cottage smack dab in the middle of the great state of flux.

The mocking couch has been dressed in her summer frock and a few cheerful accessories. Coffee table adorned with a couple of summer roses.

Do you perhaps remember a forsaken desk I found some time ago by the roadside? and the yam colored industrial number I came across whilst on my Seattle adventure? Well, the desk has been given a makeover and it appears that I was right in thinking that they were indeed meant for one another.

Music is a huge part of our lives so, it is also a large part of our lounge. One of our new old record cabinets stuffed to capacity with old vinyl.

Ah, everything feels like summer. Thank you for popping by to visit, why don't you relax next to the fan and have a nice cool glass of lemonade...

I mentioned yesterday that today I would show off more mail but, I simply must get outside and enjoy this lovely summer afternoon. See you soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Plethora of Pincushions

A while back I signed up for a swap, a pincushion swap over at Punky's Mama which was a sort of extension of Fox's Lane earlier pincushion swap. It was a fun little swap and in the end I made 4 pincushions to send out to 4 people. I thought it was time to have a look-see, a wee show and tell...

The pincushions I made...
I also sent along some chocolates and a dish towel printed with the state of Oregon.

...and now for what I have received.

From Rachelle of Ted and Agnes, a pretty little patchwork number, some lovely Liberty bits and a chocolate that is long gone. Love it all!

From Jo of Crazy Crafter NZ, a gorgeous and colorful roundy cushion, a felty covered tape measure, a doily, some handmade buttons, an embroidered linen, and a super cool clippy.

From Vic of Punky's Mama...well she just went over the top! Along with the super cool and kitschy pincushion with legs, she sent one of her awesome button bracelets and too many other goodies to list!

Along with all that goodness, she sent along a present for Pony Girl. A beautiful handcrafted felted doll (I have since lost the tag so I can't give a mention to the artist who made it) so sweet!

To the lovely ladies, I can not begin to thank you for your creative generosity. I am truly overwhelmed by the time and care that went into each wonderful package. Thank you for all the gorgeous goodness, I had such a grand time sharing with all of you!

As Vic said, "May none of us ever need a pincushion again!"

I will be back tomorrow with more gorgeous by way of the post!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Kickin' out the jams!

This weekend was a busy one. The most important business on the schedule was The Making of the Jam! It is a yearly event that The Engineer and I look forward to, knowing that we will be provided with luscious tasty jam for the coming year. Now, if you don't happen to make your own jam, I'd like to take a moment to encourage you to do so. It makes great gifts, it tastes like heaven, and it is one of those satisfying accomplishments that make you feel proud. I'd like to say that making jam is easy but, it isn't. No, there's no actual math or science involved (not really), just the time and effort it takes which is considerable, and it is all the more complicated by a tiny kitchen. It takes a certain commitment, focus, and dedication.
And dishes, there are lots and lots of dirty dishes involved.

Over the years the Mr. and I have developed a streamlined production that sails us through the process with relative ease and we also have a pretty good time. The first order of business is to put on some tunes. We require up-beat tempos to keep our energy from flagging and a little dancing about between batches keeps us smiling. This years jam session was brought to us by the seemingly odd choice of Tenacious D Do Not Click on the link if you are easily offended or fear explicit lyrics, they are truly not for everyone. It ended up being perfect music for laughing, dancing, a little "air guitar" and of course "kicking out the jams!"

There is a certain order to things when it comes to jam. Open up those windows deary, it's about to get steamy in here. There have been years that the outside temperature competed with the boiling water bath on the stove, now that is unpleasant. This year we had a cool morning and it helps when you have your face in a bubbling pot of jam, a scalding canning tub and a warm oven.

There are tools of the trade that I find indispensable. The most crucial being the produce. Fresh locally grown berries are a must. We get a Mt. Hood strawberry; small, sweet, juicy and shiny with goodness. Oh my! In the making of jam you must never stray from the path, never falter in your attentions, do not walk away from the jam...EVER!

In the end you will be rewarded with jam the color of jewels and with a taste of fresh fruit that is not too sweet (very little sugar is added to our jams compared to commercially available brands), a jam that with every bite reminds you of summer and the sweetness of life!

We ended up with 34 jars of ruby goodness! How sweet it is! This is only Part 1, a second jam will be canned later in the summer when the Marionberries are ripe.

So there you have it, jam = goodness.
That is all.

PS. Just realized this is my 250th post, hooray!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Together Again

Inspired by a recent conversation with a friend, I had a rummage in the back of my closet...

...and found these.

Which (in younger days) I wore religiously with these...

And now my old beloved friends are together again...

Looking quite their age, showing signs of hard times but still...
made for each other!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lola in the Big City

This last weekend, the family and I packed our cases and hit the road. We rolled up North and crossed the border into Washington. Our destination was "The Emerald City" of Seattle. As we pulled into town the sun was shining and there was a brilliant blue bird sky. After all the rain we have been having, it was an instant mood lift and we all had smiles ready for the adventure.

It's been years since I had been to Seattle, even though it is a mere couple of hours away. The city has such a different feel from my own home city of Portland, it reminds me a bit of the San Francisco of my youth.

We stayed at the historic Moore Hotel downtown. If you are looking for an affordable option and aren't wanting to get too fancy, I can recommend this hotel with a vintagey feel. The suite we had was lovely and clean with peek-a-boo views of the Puget Sound.

One morning, we went to Le Pichet for breakfast, a wonderful French cafe. I had the best croissant I've had in years, possibly the best ever...served with an amazing rhubarb preserve and an excellent cup of coffee. It was heaven. You may think I exaggerate but then, you may not be aware of my fierce love of good pastry. Let me assure you, it is no frivolous matter! This croissant and I were meant for each other and I dare say it will haunt me with it's memory for a long time to come.

image from here

Oh dear, I do believe I am getting ahead of myself. When we arrived in the city the first order of adventure was a meet up with a blog buddy of the 'utmost kind'. A woman whom I first made acquaintance with when I was searching out chicken coops on the internet. I came across her blog as she herself (and her Mr.) was in the midst of building a hen house of her own. Since that time, we had struck up one of those sweet acquaintances that you do from time to time in blogland. And now we had made arrangements to meet face to face. Yes, I was about to meet my friend Dottie Angel!

image from here

We had arranged to meet up at the entrance to a certain thrift shop, we recognized one another (from the knees down) immediately. What a lovely time I had! We thrifted, she took me to a Japanese bookstore that had me quite faint with it's plethora of gorgeous craft books, we had lunch and we chatted away the hours. It was such a joy to meet in person and get on so well. Thank you Dottie, for your kindness and for sharing a bit of your time with me.

On Sunday, we headed to The Fremont Market where I picked up a few treasures.

Then we stopped off at Alki Beach to let Pony Girl play at the shore. We parked a ways from the main beach lane and not 20 steps from our car I came across a rather sweet roadside find! Two dandy chairs for the big people and a wee chair for the smallish one's dolls. The Engineer and I will be giving the granny rocker an overhaul and the yam colored industrial is a perfect fit for my "by the roadside" desk.

As we headed home with the sun still shining, we all had a feeling of tired contentment. A mini family holiday adventure was just what we all needed. The rain has returned but, we have some wonderful memories to carry us through.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Greening Monday

I'm thinking green today as I head out to the garden. There is much work to do. New lettuces to plant, weeds to pull, a chicken coop to clean and squirmies to find. So, whilst I toil away in the yard, I leave you with a mosaic of green from my flickr faves.

I shall be back soon to tell you of my weekend adventure!
Happy Monday!

1. new 'love life' cushion..., 2. Swedish "slagbaenk", 3. Vintage cupboard, 4. Vintage window, 5. washing, 6. Parasol, 7. take only pictures. leave only footprints. kill nothing but time., 8. in and out - the shepherd's hut, 9. Untitled

Friday, June 11, 2010

Skirting the Issue

Yesterday I wanted to sew. I had a little creative time penciled in but, my studio was a wreck. I'ts over due for it's bi-monthly damage control and frankly, I wasn't in a tidying mood. I looked around the space and spied a big chicken pinned to my board. I thought a minute and remembered some random patchwork strips in a bin close at hand. Just then it hit me, I knew what I needed...

...a little 'Pulp Sewing'!

Oh sure, there are a dozen projects that have been percolating, waiting for their day. Like the shirt I've been wanting to finally make for myself, or the dress pattern for Pony Girl I need to start drafting, and then there's that exquisite 100 year old hand woven linen and hemp cloth my mother so generously gifted to me!

However, all that would require a clean working space, an uncluttered cutting table, the gathering of tools and implements, preparation and an acutely focused vision. None of which I had to any degree.

Still, my fingers itched, my iron was steaming, my snippers snapped and lo 'Pulp Sewing'away!

I figure it's the crafty version of light reading, mindless TV, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.

I made skirts! Skirts for the girl. Nothing quite as easy to make on the fly, requiring no pattern and little effort, good for using up bits of this and that, purely simple and lovely skirts for a little girl. Very satisfying.

And Fashionista approved!

Well, I'm off to get ready for the weekend. I have plans to cross the border and meet up face to face with a blog buddy of the utmost kind! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Family Dinner

chard (silver beet) from the garden

We have a regular family dinner with our extended family. Everyone comes over with the kids and we spend time together devouring food and talking about whatever it is families talk about.

Lots of music conversation (our family is abundant in musicians), how the baby took his first steps just that afternoon, summer plans and general updates on family life.

With the kids there is a certain rambunctious chaos and a few tears but, mostly play and the repeated mantra of "you need to eat 2 more bites of your beets/pasta/salad and then you can have some melon/berries/dessert."

There are weeks that I don't feel like having family dinner, where I'm tired and cranky and would rather work on some other project or just sit quietly instead.

Still...once the dishes have been cleared and the conversation turns to packing up the kids for bath and bed...I am glad for this tradition and grateful to have had this meal together. Sustenance for the body, mind, and spirit.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ruby Tuesday

Today is one of those 'a little of this, a dash of that' kind of posts. We have rolled into June with no real sign of spring or summer in sight but, that doesn't mean we are hunkering down in our grumpy sweaters and staying put on the grouch couch.

In fact, I tried to take the grouch out of the couch by gussying it up for a guest. Some Summer roses and my new new cushions called to action. Yes, I am putting my flowery foot forward and brightening up the place as much as I can.

Helping with the happy was a parcel in the post. I ordered a couple of fab handcrafted brooches from My Bearded Pigeon, the new venture of Cath from chunkychooky. They arrived quicksticks all the way from Australia and they are so flippin' great! Cath was super sweet and sent along an extra lil' sumpthin' in the way of a fridge magnate! Go now and check out her wares, you wont be sorry.

In other handcrafted (granny) goodness; I was the very lucky winner last week of The Royal Sisters amazing new Granny Slipper Pattern! Michelle is a wonder with hook and yarn and keeps coming up with hit after hit of hooky goodness! You can get your very own copy of the pattern in her lovely shop along with other gorgeous things. I can't wait to give these beauties a go!

image by Loving the Vintage

Well now, I am off to see what I can make of this...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

and sew on

My latest sewing spree started with a pincushion...well, 4 pincushions really but, I will have to save those for later since there's a little swap goodness goin' on! I figured I might as well make one for myself whilst I was at it. I'm still on my tin can recycling craze so, of course one tiny one was used in the making of this pincushion.

Then of course there were a pair of hot pants.
Since my mom is coming, I decided it was finally time for me to make that handbag I have been promising her for oh...over 2 years! I used The Phoebe Bag Pattern by Artsy-Crafty Babe which is free!

My mom asked me to use this rare and lovely vintage decor fabric for the exterior and Heather Bailey for FreeSpirit on the interior.

I really like how it turned out. I used fusible fleece for the first time and it gave the bag a nice structure and definition. I recommend the pattern, it's not too fussy and has nice lines. I may make one for myself in the future. I hope my mom likes it!

Lastly, hot off the machine, are a couple of simple patchwork cushions.

Our couch is in desperate need of pretty cushions. My usual routine is to take at least a week agonizing over fabric combinations and then changing my mind a few the end still no cushions. So, I grabbed a bunch of vintage scraps and threw them together thinking they were temporary solutions to our cushion crisis. Turns out they may be a bit silly but, they make me quite happy. Now I just need to make a few more.

All I want to do right now is sew! Alas, there are pressing matters that need my attention so away I go. I shall return next week after my mom's visit. Until then, take care my dears!