Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy Friday

The rain has returned with great bravado and little lakes are appearing at our street corners. No sailboat racing for us but, it will not dampen our spirits. Oh no.

The Engineer returned a day early from away, we picked him up at the train station and headed home for a little birthday celebration. Now, it can be a bit of a pickle attempting a handcrafted and thrifty birthday for a Mr. Fortunately my Mr. can appreciate a little second hand goodness as well as hand made thoughtfulness. I don't know if the year I found him the perfect vintage bowling ball bag or the year of the handcrafted banjo can ever be matched but, I think it came out pretty well all the same. And, I sure am glad he's home!

Whilst out on the prowl for thrifted/vintage loot for him, I did manage to pick up a few lovelies for myself.

Meet MAC...
She's a bit rough on the outside but, as you can see her 'inners' are just a treat!

Then I stumbled onto the linens...

The hand embroidery covers a large tablecloth, I can just imagine the time and care some sweet stitching person put into it. It has now found a happy home here in the little green cottage.

I don't know what your weather is like where you are, and even though the rain is coming down gangbusters here, I am still in a Spring state of mind. So, I think I will leave you with a celebratory springy photo of Pony Girl and I having a little bench dance!

Have a joyous weekend!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grattitude Waltz

This last week and a half has been a bit of a rough go 'round here but, even in the thick of it, I have been blessed with gifts of the best sort...and reminded of the joy of small moments and good friends.

On one of my worst days, feeling somewhat shattered and misshapen, the post man delivered the sweetest package to my door.

All wrapped with care, came presents from Pomona of Little Cottage Comforts. I had been fortunate enough to be one on her PIF list. Oh what a truly lovely bunch of goodies!

Some wonderful pieces of fabric and some buttons from her grandmother's button box. That made me feel so special.

An adorable hand stitched needle book and a knitted hair band.

The most amazing hand knitted wrist warmers ever! The yarn is so soft, the colors just brilliant, and yes they are stripey! I adore them so much, I put them on immediately and waltzed around the room!

I am absolutely gobsmacked at the kindness and beauty of this gift, I can not tell you how much it cheered me. Thank you so very much Pomona.

I have also been given a couple of lovely awards by equally lovely bloggers recently. I am no good at this whole award business I'm afraid. While I absolutely appreciate receiving these acts of kindness, in general I don't follow rules very well... and so I just want to make sure I let you know that it does indeed mean a great deal to me.

The top one came from the very kind and creative crzylady who writes Homegrown Insanity blog.
The second one is from Cheri at Along Life's Highway, the yard art game blog. This blog always brings a smile to my face! Please go visit these great folks. Thank you both.

To the rest of you brilliant peeps, thank you for all of your comments, they have certainly made me feel a heap better in the down times. The following picture and love are for you.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Time for a cool change

I've been at it again; rearranging, fussing with the furniture, bringing in a little something, taking away a thing or two and generally tinkering about my little place here.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure how I feel about it, something's just the slightest bit off. Or maybe change is hard and I just need a period of adjustment. What do you all think? Be honest, I can take it.

We have been having the most amazing weather of late. The Daphne is blooming and smells heavenly, daffodils are popping up and the Crocus. Pony Girl and the hens have been romping about in the yard. It feels like spring, it's our February tease...the rain is due back tomorrow.

Speaking of spring and fussing, I got an urge to dive in and do a deep down scrub of the kitchen last week. Washed the walls, scrubbed the cabinets, oiled the counter tops and cleaned all the nooks and crannies. I took photographic evidence, because who knows when the kitchen will sparkle like this again. I also wanted to ready the place for some new shelves The Engineer has promised to build for me so that I can display a few of my pretties.

I am fond of our wee kitchen, we remodeled it ourselves a few years back. It is quite functional and kind of lovely I think, especially all a-shine like this. Now I am itching to re-make our living room, it's high time for a fresh coat of paint and some new pretty handcrafted curtains. Yes, time for a cool change.

I hope your weekend was grand and that week coming is a good one. I will be back soon with tales of gratitude.

Edited: I'm working on some bugs on the blog that I am having trouble with and my HTML is way rusty, so please bear with me. I think I have fixed the extra white space...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

just a moment...

...until the next one.
This moment, this one here...with the babe just drifting off to sleep, my man out of town for too many days, a quiet household hum, a glass of red wine, and my first real sit down of the day...yes, I am deeply appreciating this moment, even letting myself daydream a little.

1. Vintage Inspiration, 2. Hello Weekend!, 3. 22::365, 4. Eclectic and Moody Scandinavian Home via Skona Hem, 5. Autumn has fallen onto my summer chair, 6. ladies, 7. bleu, 8. krukje style files #1, 9. Red nails, red & white checks

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sew With The Flow: Part 2

Alright, to continue with the flow...
You might like to grab yourself a cuppa and a snack, I am feeling a good long ramble coming on.
If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.
I believe I was going on about clothes for children and inspiration motivation and I was about to reveal who was knocking at the door. But first, I want to talk about Walter.

Walter was a substitute teacher that I had from time to time at the Junior High I attended in Santa Cruz, CA. He was young, enthusiastic and a complete surfer dude. If we walked into Mrs. Lamb's English class and saw Walter sitting on the desk, we would rejoice and run up to him like a gaggle of goslings vying for his attention. The rest of class time would be spent listening to Walter's outrageous surfing stories; they usually started something like this, "Oh man, I took the buggy down to Baja with a couple of my bros in search of some righteous waves..."

Now, I imagine you are asking yourself what this has to do with anything. I am just getting to that, I promise.

So, one day Walter shows up to sub for my sewing class. We had never had a sub before and I wondered how this was going to play out as I had some serious issues with my appliqued pillow project. He was a fish out of water but, if you can just imagine a cute young surfer dude in a class full of teenage girls...well, it was a blushing giggle fest. Only myself and one other student were putting our noses to the ancient Kenmores, intent on our dubious creations. At one point, the other student began to wail and moan over some trouble she was having at the machine. Walter was passing by and wanting to lend support of some kind, looked at her and smiled a beatific smile and said in true guru fashion, "No worries man, just breathe deep and Sew With The Flow!" I have a vague recollection of the girl bursting into tears after that. Walter's words resonated with me though, and have stuck with me all these years. Sew with the flow indeed. I find that sewing can be like that, sometimes the surf is rough and you wipe out but, sometimes you have a stellar ride on a righteous wave.

So, there I was getting my flow on with a jacket for Pony Girl, when a knock came at the door. Well looky there, it's the UPS guy, dressed in his crisp brown uniform with the shorty shorts, hat just so and mirrored cop sun glasses. He smiled as he handed me my package but, he did not speak. He looked like a character from a movie, all back lit by the sun - and I almost asked him if he would mind if I took his picture for my blog but, I thought that might give him the wrong impression. Off he went without a word.

What UPS guy delivered to me was this book...

What timing!
Sewing Clothes Kids Love by Nancy Langdon and Sabine Pollehn is a beauty! I had pre-ordered it ages ago and was quite excited to receive it. Nancy Langdon of Fledge/Studio TANTRUM and Sabine Pollehn of Farbenmix, were a couple of women I discovered when I was looking for inspiration to create magic clothes for my girl. The patterns that they and several other talented artists had put together, were just what I had been looking for. Unique, fun, colorful, creative and magical.
I ordered a couple of patterns, and though some were in German, I had no real trouble putting them together and in fact, found them a joy to work with. I loved the way they encouraged my own creativity. I found that the clothes fit so well and really worked with the way kids moved and played.

Along the way, I had sent an email or two to Nancy Langdon, to my surprise and delight, she answered those emails and since then, has offered just the right words of encouragement and support when I needed them most. It was really she, who inspired me to create my first pattern from scratch. I said it in my very first post on this blog, and I still believe in it's truth:
"To be empowered is wonderful,
to be encouraged is soul saving!"

This book is both empowering and encouraging. It encourages you to use your creativity and imagination and helps remove some of the intimidation you might feel at trying something new. The patterns are as good as ever (the book includes 10 full multi-sized patterns for children 18 months to 12). The emphasis is clearly on clothes for girls but, there are a couple of patterns for the boys as well. While the bold and colorful look of the clothes may not be for everyone, the patterns and construction are solid and can be made up to look any way you can imagine. There are some very good tips and tricks of the trade, with clear instruction and advice.

For the truly novice seamstress, there might be some unfamiliar techniques but, all that is really required are some basic skills, and you can create one of a kind clothing for your own superstar. I love that the underlying message of the book is to really have fun creating "real clothes for real kids" and "Because childhood is here and gone so quickly... it is important to dress a child for each special occasion." That special occasion might be a first day of school, a climb to the highest branch, an afternoon of puddle jumping, etc. Childhood itself is a special occasion!

As I was reading the book cover to cover that first night, there at the top of page 12, was the caption "SEW WITH THE FLOW"! How about them apples!

So, to Nancy, thank you for the beautiful book you made, the encouragement and the continued inspiration.

And to Walter, wherever you are, thank you for your wise words.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Turning Mountains into Mole Hills

Hello friends. My little tumble down the stairs kept me fairly immobile for a few days, which in turn, meant that things started piling up around the little green cottage...and piling up...and piling up, until there were mountains so high that the peaks were obscured by clouds. So, I have donned my climbing gear, packed my oxygen tanks and am headed towards the tippy tops in order to turn those mountains into mere mole hills. I shall return when I knock them down a little closer to sea level.

Until then, take of yourselves.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Food Interlude

Hey, what's this? Lola, you promised us Part Two of Sew with the flow, you were just about to tell us who was tappity tapping on your door and now you've stuck us with a loaf of bread! Even though that is one tasty looking loaf, what gives?!

I never intended to lead you on friends - and I will tell the tale next week, the truth is, I am just not up for it today. Last night I took a really nasty tumble down some slickery slippity steps and my body, along with my spirit, is pretty beat up. I just can't muster the shine that I think the story calls for.

So instead, I offer you bread. Very good, very wholesome, and very tasty bread. A slice of which I am eating at this very moment and it is comforting me nicely.

This is a dense delicious bread, great as toast with peanut/almond butter and honey, or with soups and stews. I am including a printable recipe (it's none too pretty mind you), just click on the image below and print the large size.

Happy bread baking!

PS Once again coincidentally, this post fits in with the My Place and Yours meme "Kitchen Love" go check out more of the love here

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sew With the Flow : Part One

Not too long ago, my sewjo (sewing mojo) went disappearing. She's a fickle little darling and prone to all sorts of misadventure. I was feeling ever so woeful, not to mention a little impatient to get on with it. There I was, going 'round and 'round with my yarn and crochet hook, getting dizzy and worrying The Engineer to no end, when finally she returned, albeit with a certain timidity and a wandering eye.

She seemed a trifle jealous of my hooky ways, I had to remind her that she had been missing and what on earth would she have me do? I then wondered if somehow the three of us could not just get along, but perhaps even come together in joyful collaboration.

Whilst I am still uncertain how we shall come out in the end, a lot of ideas are percolating. Sometimes that is a problem, too many ideas and very little time to sew. I have a couple of projects in various stages of completion for the shop, a few pages of sketches, and a big old mess in the "studio".

It came to me too, that I was missing something. I was missing sewing for children, specifically my child...

...alright, here I go, veering completely off course for a minute. Bear with me.
In a recent conversation with my child, we talked about my blog. She has told me that it is fine if I write about her from time to time BUT, I am no longer allowed to call her "Miss Ringlet," absolutely NOT! She has informed me that from now on I must refer to her as, "Pony Girl!" Done and done. Now that we have that out of the way, I can continue with my crafty ways.

So, to ease myself back into the colorful world of kid couture, I started with a pattern that I have been wanting to make for ages.

The Avalon Jacket by Fledge/Studio Tantrum was a great way to get the flow rolling. Just as I was in need of some inspiration motivation, there was a knock upon the door and...oh wait, the mystery knocker doesn't get introduced until Part Two of this crafty story.

It felt really good to be sewing for Pony Girl again, and it's just in the nick of time - as all her long pants are now at capris length and inching ever higher. I started to feel that flow, where all is quietly humming along and coming together in a way that seems organic and satisfying. This is definitely "sewing with the flow." And it is good.

Oh good gravy, would you look at the time? I have been prattling on here for more than a minute and I have bread to knead and a Peruvian stew to get on the stove. And you, I know are very busy indeed. So, I will take up again on Friday with Part Two, in which I ramble on about inspiration, encouragement and a mini book review! It will be awfully exciting.

Though there wont be any Valentines Day tutorials, there will be lots of LOVE!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Change of Plans

Change, is it the spice of life? Wait, I think the saying goes, "Variety is the spice of life." Well, never mind, we have lots of both going on 'round here.

Have you ever zigged when you should have zagged?

Way back in November, I told you all of a little Lark, don't remember? Not to worry, I will summarize. I had gone on an interview and was offered a job as a freelance sewing instructor at a new fabric boutique that was to open this month. I was going to be able to create my own classes and would be teaching twice a week. It had a certain draw to it, and in some way, it felt as though it might more legitimize what I love to do. A little extra money is always a bonus (very little extra mind you). I thought to myself, "Well, this is something I should do, it's going to be good for me." You are a very observant lot, and by now you may have picked up on a certain lack of robust enthusiasm on my part.

Perhaps there was a twinge of fear, a worry that I might not be able to "pull it off", and then the whole scarcity of time issue. Knowing myself well enough to predict that I would be throwing myself into the work, taking on the role of 'doer of jobs' that were not part of the original contract. Recollections of my last secular position came to mind; where I was doing four separate jobs for the price of one and absolutely ragged at the end of the day. Despite all that, I was on the verge of going for it!

Then life gently tapped me on the shoulder saying, "Excuse me dear but, I'm afraid there are some pressing matters that need your attention." So I teetered there for a moment, weighing the situation at hand. Then life gave me a big ol' whack and said, "Come on now!" There were time consuming and specific challenges ahead with Miss Ringlet, both The Engineer and I were confronted with family concerns that could have us jetting off on the spur of the moment, and with a couple niggling health issues of my own...I realized that with family being priority #1, I must turn down the job. So, turn it down I did but, I was able to keep open the idea of future possibility with the shop owner. What's that they say about 'when one door closes, you'll have to climb through a window'?

Well, that was a lot of 'hoo ha' just to tell you that I didn't take a job that you had entirely forgotten I had even mentioned in the first place! "Riveting!" I hear you mutter under your breath. It's a roller coaster ride over at Lola's, you betcha!

Perhaps you will be more excited about the fact that later this week I will be giving away a pony!

O.k. No I'm not.

I will be back though, and who knows, anything could happen!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Confessional

Dearest readers, I have something to confess.
I think it is only right that I should be up front with you all, since you really are the best lot and have been so very good to me. The truth is, as much as I love my shiny place here in blog town, and as much as I strive to be present and attentive, I have not been completely one hundred percent "here" lately. In fact, even as I am writing this, my mind is wandering off, distracted by thoughts other than you and this post. I know, shame on me but, I just can't help it, really I can't. I am being haunted by memories - from just one year ago, and a longing has made it's way into my heart. I am happy, I am blessed, I have more than I need but still, I yearn, I pine even - and I feel unsettled. As I drift off away from you and the task at hand, I am replaying a scene in my mind; recalling a place so dear to me...

...and it looks like this

and this...

and this...

Perhaps you can understand then, that the islands are calling me; like a siren song, like nectar from the sweetest flower, like the whisper of a darkly tanned local surfer boy...

ummm, where was I?

I hope you can forgive me my wandering ways, and just maybe if you are in some wintry clime where it is cold and gray, you can understand my pining and daydreaming.

Oh yes, I have a little something to share that may just bring about some longing of your own. Floss, of Troc, Broc and Recup' is having a truly swoon worthy giveaway just now. Think French, think vintage, now go check it!

I will be back next week with crafty news, a change of plans and a whole lot of rambling on.
Until then, have a lovely weekend and treat yourself kindly!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hey Ladies!

It's been awhile since I talked about our sweet little hens, those lovely ladies that live in our back yard, Fran, Suki and Chick Chick. Chick Chick also goes by the name of Tweet Tweet, depending on what the wee lass is in the mood for. There is the slight chance that this has caused a minor identity crisis in the blond gal but, she seems to be thriving nonetheless. In fact, all three are thriving and if I do say so myself, looking perfectly plump and gorgeous.

Whilst they spend a good amount of time lounging in The Poultry Palace, they also get to stretch their skinny chicken legs in the yard about twice a day; where they hunt and peck in search of tasty bugs and what not. As our yard is not fenced in, these daily exercises must be somewhat supervised. Sometimes though, I can not spend hours outside with the gals so I peep at them through the window, making sure they don't wander too far.

There have been a few times (alright, more than a few) that I have had to make the mad dash and retrieve our wayward chickens from the neighbors yard. There was one day in particular I recall searching high and low and in between for our flock. They were nowhere in sight. I ran down the road and around the corner, all the while sing-songing, "Ladies, come on chook chook chooks!" As I headed back home to find my daughter escaping down the street, I thought, 'Dear Lord, I've lost the chickens! How do I explain this? Where, Oh Where could they be?'

I found them in the end in a corner behind the shed and a bush. I was quite relieved let me tell you. I would have never forgiven myself had they vanished entirely.
Honestly, they are good girls who almost always come when I call, "Hey Ladies!" I'm sure having a bucket of fresh vegetable scraps at the ready is motivation enough. Of course I'd like to think that they think of me as some kind of surrogate mother hen. The engineer calls me "the chicken whisperer," but what I whisper to the chickens is a secret between me and them.

With the addition of a timed light in the Chicken Chateau, all three are laying the most wonderful eggs.

We are getting 3 nearly every day now, which makes the evenings when I'm stuck for dinner ideas a little less panicky, for there are always fresh and trust me, the most delicious eggs waiting to be used.

I love having chickens, they really are a treat, just mind your step in the yard.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Place and Yours: Shoes

Our family of "Cow Boots", as Miss Ringlet calls them...and yes, most of them are mine (mostly thrifted). I might just have a wee obsession with 'cow boots', I'm ok with that.

I'm a little late on the uptake but, Ms. Vic has compelled me - and due to a great coincidence - I have decided to play along this week for 'My Place and Yours'. Please go have a look see at who else is playing along, I mean, who doesn't like shoes?

Also, in response to a very special request, I shall be giving you a rare glimpse of my upper half but, you have to click here! The link takes you to a photo taken by the talented inger klekacz, at a music benefit for a fellow musician, whilst I was singing my little heart out.

So, there you go!

Have a happy Monday all!