Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Design - The Cascade Dress

The Cascade Dress
Oh hello!

This weekend I got an itch to make up a new dress design. I was inspired by another dress, and one of my favorite places on the Oregon coast. It's an over-sized overdress. Ever expanding  my love of smock frocks, I think this one is a keeper.

I made it for Pony Girl, but I may have taken the idea of over-sized a bit too far and it nearly fits me! Once she gets home from school all shall be revealed. If it does prove to be a disaster on her, it may end up for sale in the shop. For now, it's hanging up in the lounge making for some pretty scenery.

What do you think?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Tis the season. Are you done with pumpkin spice everything, everywhere yet? I'll be honest, when the coffee shop advertises "Pumpkin Flavored Lattes," I am not the least bit tempted. It seems the only pumpkin stuff I like is a handful of home baked goods using real pumpkin, and if it is one of my tried and true recipes... then, yes I'll have some more please!

This includes my recipe for Pumpkin Spice Bread. I've tried a lot of pumpkin bread recipes over the years, and never found THE ONE. So I played around adapting from a couple different recipes until I found, The One! It isn't overly sweet, it is nice and moist, and it gets better the next day if you can resist gobbling it all up the first day. No, this isn't a health bread, but I did cut down the sugar and oil amounts from most recipes I came across.
It is also made from the pumpkins we grew in our own garden!

Seriously, you should make this, the smell of it baking in the oven is out of this world!

Pumpkin Spice Bread

2 cups pumpkin puree (non-sweetened and no spice added)
¾  cup granulated sugar
¾  cup brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½  teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 2 9x5” loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.

Measure the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices and nuts into a separate bowl and mix until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans. Bake on middle oven rack for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes, then remove loaves from pans and let cool completely on a rack. Slice and enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A little yarn

I can now declare that it is absolutely indeed Fall! It's not just the crisp mornings and evenings, it's not just the changing of the light, or the turning of the leaves; I mean it is all of these things, but it's something else that makes me certain of the season. I have pulled out my yarn.

Simple as that. It seems I'm not the only one to celebrate the autumnal shift with a bit of yarny malarkey, I've been seeing woolly creations popping up all over the interwebs and social media these days. It makes perfect sense of course.

I had two skeins of fat foggy gray yarn that I contemplated for a bit. Then I began, as you do, working my rusty crochet stitches one after the other until it became familiar and easy again. I love falling back into the meditative rhythm of loops and motion... well, until that moment (many moments) where I've made a crucial mistake and the peace is interrupted.  I am ashamed to admit that when that happens, some less than lady-like words have escaped my mouth on occasion. Then, I begin again.

Eventually, the last stitch is made, loose ends sewn in and I have a lovely and cozy Fall cowl for the coming colder days. It is indeed Fall!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall Color, Natural Dyes of the Pacific Northwest

As I mentioned in my last post, I attended a Natural Dyeing class on Sunday. It was held at the amazing Wild Craft Studio here in the Northwest.

First, let me say that the setting alone is worth the trip. What a beautiful area, and so different from the landscape here in Portland, though it's only a little over and hour away. Wild Craft Studio holds a large range of awesome classes, there are so many I would like to take!

It was a bluebird day. As we arrived, we were invited into the cozy studio to have tea or coffee while we waited for the rest of the class to come. The class on Sunday was taught by the very knowledgeable and lovely Chelsea Heffner. What a grand day it was! Chelsea went through all the basics, processes, plants and so much great information. While I was familiar with most of the information from my natural dyeing fever earlier this year, there was plenty of new things to wrap my head around, and I really appreciated the way Chelsea presented everything.

 Coreopsis flower and Poke Berry

Poke Berry stains on my hands

We processed some plant material and started our dye baths. Then it was time for a forage out in nature. We learned to identify some native plants and picked rose hips for another dye bath.

I spy my good buddies Tif and Meg!

After our hike it was time for lunch. We ate outside with a beautiful view, and wow, what a gorgeous meal they prepared for us! We ate and chatted in the sunshine, all of us soaking in the new knowledge from the morning.

Then it was back to the dye pots! We had samples to dye, wool and silk. Then we were all given a silk scarf to dye and take home. I loved seeing all of the scarves and experimenting that the group did.

Our Fall Color samples: Coreopsis, Lichen, Pokeberry, St. John's Wort, 
Black Walnut, Rosehips

If you live anywhere nearby, I highly recommend taking a class with these amazing people! I know I had a blast and my love of natural dyeing has been re-energized! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Little Cabin in the Woods

This past weekend I was so fortunate to be able to have a getaway to a little cabin in the woods. I packed my bags, kissed my family goodbye, and headed out on the road. A beautiful drive up the Columbia River stretched before me on a warm fall Friday afternoon.

It has been awhile since I've been able to get out on my own and connect with the natural world. While I usually take my solo weekends at the coast, this time it was a real treat to travel to an area I have not spent too much time in. A place of rolling grassy hills, scrub oak, shadowed mountains and ribbons of rivers running through.

This was my view from the deck where I spent my mornings with coffee and my afternoons reading. It was lovely weather, quiet and peaceful with a fair amount of bird watching and crocheting. No TV, no traffic, no schedule to keep... Ah yes.

Everyday I walked down along the river and breathed deeply of fresh air and blue skies.

I slept in a cozy nest where sunlight streamed through the windows. When I opened my duffle bag upon arrival, I found that Pony Girl has sent along a little friend to keep me company. The Little Red Hen and I had quite a time.

Part of my trip included a nearby class on Natural Dyeing from local plants. It was great. I'll tell you all about that in my next post! 

For now I'll just say how grateful I am to my family for keeping the home fires burning and giving me the chance to have this relaxing and lovely weekend. Many thanks to my friends for letting me stay in their sweet little cabin in the woods, it was so special. I will keep this weekend in my heart and soul for a long time to come.

Thank you cabin 21