It's been uncharacteristically toasty around these parts lately, and it
has put me in a very stitchy kind of mood. I always get a bee in my
bonnet to sew in warm weather - I don't know why that is?
Standing over a scalding, steaming iron and cozying up to a big stationary machine doesn't seem like a natural fit for hot weather, but here we are & there I go.
I guess sewing Summer dresses seems much more easy and breezy than sewing heavy woolens for Fall (and it is) so that's probably most of it. This year I really wanted a few extremely simple little 60's-inspired shift dresses with elbow-length sleeves. That's been the bee in my bonnet.
I'm so particular and get such specific ideas in mind, sometimes it's easier to just make things yourself, right? Right. So armed with cold, milky iced coffee, that's been one of the things I've been up to lately.
I promised myself if I would actually sit down and draft a pattern for
this dress and test it and test it (and test it again) I could buy a
few yards of Liberty fabric. I picked Claire Aude in the goldens and pinks and jadeite green, because it's always been one of my favorites of all their prints.
After it was washed and pressed, even though I'd already made a muslin and two other mostly-successful dresses from my pattern, I had the worst time getting the nerve to cut it. It's such truly lovely and excellent fabric that I felt terribly outclassed, but I crossed my fingers and went to work.
Somehow I managed to sew the whole dress (tricky to do with my fingers crossed) and it turned out just liked I hoped. Perfect for the hottest days, when we get them, and easy to wear with some little old sneakers or worn-in flats.
And the best part?
It has pockets!
I have my share of sewing-heartbreaks, so when something turns out like I'd hoped, it's so gratifying. And besides, when you make things with your hands for a living, it feels extra-special to make things for yourself, for fun.
Have you done any Summer projects (sewn or not) (pocketed or not) you're particularly happy about?
Bits of blooms around the kitchen. Clockwise from left :
1. Thrifted vintage plates from occupied Japan. I love the big bunches of delicate flowers and the decorative edges. I don't know know the name of the motif(s), but I have found three variations so far. 2. Scratched, but all the better for it, red floral-printed tin tray. 3. Our kitchen curtains 4. Sweet little thrifted saucer. I use saucers more than anyone I know. I think we eat nearly all our snacks and treats from saucers, not to mention they are champion spoon-rests.
Thanks so much for the kind words about the new painting! & Happy weekend to you
Why, hello & how do you do? Happy New Year, though I know I'm a week late. I needed another week of keeping a distance from internet-life, I think. I have posts I want to compose and things I want to share, but today, just to stop in and say hello, is a sleepy photo of our living room in the mild glow of the golden afternoon.
I perched some framed bits up on the big window ledge up there. I don't know why that took me so long. Precarious perching is one of my best talents.
I've been spending a lot of time in that room lately, being useless, being useful, lining up the ephemeral plans for 2012 in my mind. Stories that need telling. Pictures of imaginary people and fairy tales and accordians and whoknowswhat that need painting. Work for some of these things is underway, the rest will get underway all in good time.
Here's hoping your year is off to a nice start! I will return with more dispatches soon.
- I've been really lucky with new/old book finds in the past week or so (also pictured above) the prize jewel being Mermaids & Mastodons. I'm always looking for old cryptozoology/peculiar natural history books, and this one is the best I've found.
- Also been quietly keeping my first flower garden this Spring/Summer. At the risk of sounding maudlin, it's one of the best and happiest pursuits I've ever begun.
This time of year, Portland is full to bursting with flowering trees. All different kinds, everywhere you look. It makes going on walks into more of a bloom-bandit, scavenging activity!
Miniature, perfect blossoms.
Fluffy, feathery blooms.
Fine, delicate little buds.
The Springtime is really overwhelming me this year, and I've been bringing as many bits of it inside as possible. A neverending carousel of one or two flowers shoved in bottles and little vases, big bunches of tulips...it's so nice.
And thank you for all the kind words on the "Live Flowers" painting - I've recieved lots of inquiries about when it, and the other Alice work will be available. Right now I'm thinking the whole series of originals (including a few more yet-unshown pieces!) will be available in early-ish May.
Of course, I'll post the exact date and time here that all the Alice originals will be available for purchase, so keep an eye out.
The Winter here is very grey and dim - this is mostly meant literally. But sometimes, with the short days and all the work that must be done indoors, the greyness can take on the metaphorical meaning, too. So for February, to help keep things a little bit more cheerful, we've been trying to keep fresh flowers around the house...
It has been so wonderful.
They're just little cheapy bouquets from the grocery store, but they make the rooms they're in so much nicer! Certainly a very wise way to spend six clams.
I like to split them up, leaving one big bunch, and then little flowers-in-bottles scattered about.
I wish there was a fancy flower-of-the-month club that you could have delivered. As I'm typing this, I'm realizing I'm sure there is such a thing, isn't there?
But truly, I'm pretty content with a humble bunch of carnations. Though I admit that I would go weak in the knees for something fancier, like these poppies or these begonias or really any of the magic flower spells they cast over at the Saipua blog (one of many good/evil things little Frankie got me hooked on.)
I used to buy flowers for my college apartment all the time. I'm not sure when or why I ever stopped?
I see this weekly treat continuing endlessly. I would say til' Spring, but I can only grow moss and ferns in my shady yard. So my grocery list will continue to be: eggs, milk, bread, flowers.
I will admit, I wasn't head over heels in love with the last set of cafe curtains I made for our kitchen. It seemed like a good fit at the time, but over the last year, they just seemed so very blue in a kitchen that's all greens and pinks and whites and reds.
So when I acquired yardage of the prettiest 1930's floral kitchen-perfect print, I knew just where it would go!
I whipped these pups up in less than an hour, so please don't judge any funny hemming. Or the pots & pans in the sink (just tryin' to keep it real).
I'm nuts about them - between their cheery presence, and the nice pans and the little 30's green teacup cabinet I got for Christmas, my kitchen is feeling very spruced indeed.
I hope you're having a nice week, and that the new year is treating you well!
Slowly but surely, our living room has become our own miniature natural history museum of sorts. My biggest aquisition to date was a find at Paxton Gate, my favorite store in San Francisco. It's this little fella here:
(My monkey lamp is looking increasingly out of place on those shelves)
I think he's a klipspringer or possibly a steenbok, definitely a small African antelope. I fell in love on the spot, so I rescued him (he was in total disrepair). We carried him all the way back to Portland with us in our little car, which was quite the spectacle. I had him restored locally and he was given a proper mount, so now he's standing up nicely and looking handsome.
At the same time as our living room gets filled with more and more specimens and illustrations and things, I'm also assembling a natural history themed present for a little gal's birthday that's coming up. I'm so excited about this big stash of Golden Guides I've squirrelled away for her:
I get so much use out of my own small collection, so I'm really excited to give her these. They're such a nice balance of not-too-dumb, but not-too-intimidating.
I also found this amazing silkworm lifecycle encased in resin at my favorite local shop, Flutter:
So that's another gem for the collection o' presents. I really hope she digs all of this...now I'm just on the hunt for a pretty magnifying glass!
I hope your week is coming along nicely - thanks for coming along for a little science-y fun!
Yesterday, we got new curtains in the mail (these pretty flocked ones) and put them up in the living room straight away. We had lovely deep-teal velvet curtains up, and while elegant, they were also quite dark and encouraged our slightly vampiric tendencies.
So! We were looking for something completely different. Yellow? Check! Linen? Check! Cheery? Check!
Here is Miette, testing them out to see what a lovely backdrop they'll make for the hours he spends peering-out-of-doors:
Then I realized I hadn't shared our living room in its entirety...only bits + pieces here and there. And the light was really lovely... So, here it is!
With the addition of the new curtains, I've really fallen in love with
it. It's just as I'd like it to be - cozy, with touches of (my approximation of) a
natural history museum.
I'm pretty crazy about that magazine rack. We thrifted it a few weeks back. I always thought of magazine racks as horrid and cheesy, but this one manages to be old-timey and modern in the best way.
I also thrifted this old metal dish-rack recently, and it now sits atop our player and perfectly holds the cds that are in heavy rotation at the moment.
My comics are all there in those short little shelves with my sweet monkey-lamp on top. The huge book wedged between shelves is the wildly big current Kramer's Ergot. And that blur to the right is Miette, rolling around like a crazy on the floor.
The roses are all in bloom here, and so we happened to have some sitting around. We don't always (or even usually) have fresh flowers sitting out, but they do make things so much nicer!
Here are some photos of the freshly milk-white kitchen that I promised!
The poppies are little decals I picked up at the antique store...they still worked perfectly!
Josiah has a little nook right through there...it's where he does Black Apple work and also where he writes.
I papered the back of the cabinets with beautiful Italian paper courtesy of Paper Source. If you can't commit to wallpaper, it's a nice consolation! And that big bread box is one of my current favorite possessions.
I also got the "Eat" letters at the antique mall, sometime last year. And I made the curtains from this wonderful vintage floral yardage I got just a few weeks ago at the antique expo!
I thought it would be sweet to hang a little picture inside the shelves.
A bunch of my favorite vintage aprons hang from a pretty hook I got at Anthro.
...and bird prints, the menu-chalkboard, and beautiful old japanese paper lanterns my excellent friend Mandy sent to me a few months ago.
Well, I have had a really nice, extremely quiet weekend. I baked, went on walks, slept, cooked, drew, and read almost the entirety of Jude the Obscure.
and I swear this is true, I discovered only a few hours ago that the
cheap (NEW) copy I bought is missing pages 288-317. I read the bottom
of page 288 and the first line of 317 five times, totally confused,
until I realized the problem at hand. (Did the Barnes & Noble
edition think I just couldn't handle the further dire adventures?)
Luckily, Project Gutenberg
came to the rescue for tonight...I am neck-deep in story and completely mad for
it, so I don't think I can wait to go to Powell's for a proper copy
that includes such luxuries as ALL of the pages.
And even though I'm the worst at remembering to take "before" pictures, I actually dug up a photo that the lovely Lucy B.snapped for us last year so we could see the kitchen in the house (did you know we live in the Berkley's old house? It's true! I think some of their joie de vivre stuck around in the plaster). Here are the old, peanut-butter taffy cabinets...
and photographic evidence that Ryan is not only crazily gifted and wonderful, but is also a considerate person to live with who will wash their share of the dishes.
As you might've noticed, on our little "menu" blackboard up there is says "Quiche" for tonight, and the timer just rang, so I've got to fetch it out of the oven.
I hope you had a nice weekend, and happy Monday to you!
We are back (as of late last night) from our holiday-visit-gift-and-eat-athon and feeling so grateful for that 10 days of happy times. Also happy to be back at our dollhouse with a certain grey furbaby warming our respective laps! It is good to go home, and good to come home.
Here are just a few Christmastime snippets from our trip...peacefully finishing up scarves the evening before our flight with the lovely company of a huge cup of steaming-hot tea:
The perfect roasted turkey my brother Stephen made for Christmas dinner:
And the big morning with my mom's incredible tree from this year:
I'm feeling inspired and happy and my brain and sketchbook are abuzz with ideas for the coming year for me and the Black Apple.
I realized I still had not shown photos of the rest of our dollhouse! I'll get the whole thing photographed one day. Last night I was showing the collection in this simple, peaceful new bedroom to Amy, 'cause I knew she'd dig them. And then I thought: "I should really blog about these".
So. Here is our new bedroom. And many, many silhouettes:
It's a really small room with very slanted ceilings, so it's pretty much just got the bed + nightstands in it. I think I like it that way.
If you're wondering what the weird "bucket" thingie is on my side of the bed (the left), it's a receptacle that is meant to hold fireplace wood. I keep my books in it, so they aren't strewn about the floor so badly.
I really wanted this room to be a little less child-like than our last bedroom, so I kept it spare, but with what I like to think are grown-up goth touches. Like the goth plaster deer. The pretty Victorian ladies pillow is from this rad Etsy shop.
I wanted to do a cluster of silhouettes in this room. I can't claim that I invented this idea, because although I thought that the idea had just sprung into my mind when I started work on it, it later came back to me that I think I saw this in Blueprint (RIP). I collected all these silhouettes from thrifting and Ebay-ing. I only wanted silhouettes that seemed to be of actual people (not the decorative, idealized kind), and I have some real gems.
This shows you two of my favorites, the pipe man and the cro-magnon-browed little girl in the wooden frame to his left.