Monday, November 23, 2015

pajama pants

Hi friends! I've missed you and my creative time the last few weeks. Life has a way of spinning into a busy flurry this time of year, but I'm back and gearing up for the winter ahead! Our dining room table has seen a lot of sewing and girls recently, as I hosted a Holiday Stitch series for my advanced sewers. One of our most exciting projects involved flannel. I make a pair of pajama pants for my daughter every winter, but this year I thought she and her friends were up to the task on their own. I drafted patterns with them from other bottoms, and then they got to work cutting, sewing and threading elastic through waist bands. Not too complicated for this crafty bunch, but still a challenge.
 These two finished together… what a sweet reward to snuggle into them and start lounging. Soft and roomy- perfect for dancing and getting silly!
This kind of garment sewing is super forgiving, which makes it a great advanced beginner project and fun for gift-giving too! Pinterest has plenty of tutorials if you do a quick search. 
Here's to the cozy season ahead!

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Monday, November 9, 2015

handmade heirlooms

New mittens- made by my 10 year old! She has forecasted many more. She used the pattern for "Easy Going Mittens" from Jennifer Casa's brand new book Handmade Heirlooms. Several of her sewing buddies came over with their machines and each of them whipped out a pair. They were simple and satisfying with just the right amount of challenge (sewing stretched elastic can be tricky). This is just the right combo for making gifts in multiple- something many of us are thinking about at this time of year. There are 24 projects to sew, knit, crochet, craft and repurpose. That about covers all of us- right? The premiss and subtitle: "crafting with intention" is my favorite way to make stuff. Thank you Jennifer, for creating this lovely book!

You can find Handmade Heirlooms, produced by my favorite publishers (yay Roost!), and read more about it right here.
 Although we haven't had any real snow yet, mitten season has begun- and this sweet one is proud of her new pair!

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Monday, November 2, 2015

thankful leaf hearts

 I love the beginning of November! The doorway to the holiday season opens, and it's like an old friend welcoming you into a cozy home filled with the scents of soup on the stove and pie in the oven. Decorating with nature is at its peak, as I forage for as much as I can find on the forest floor before it's covered in snow.  I gather up my dried leaves, line up my squash and pumpkins and scatter pinecones and acorns everywhere. Maybe I was a squirrel in another life!

My latest bit of creative fun began with a sharpie pen and then incorporated a heart punch and a few pressed maple leaves.
 I think "thankful leaves and leaf hearts" will be tucked into every corner of my house this month!

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Monday, October 26, 2015

monday inspiration

During the weekends a good sleep-in is always welcome, but when Monday arrives- I love the hush of waking before daybreak and watching the sun come up. My back meadow is beautiful, but nothing beats the ocean rises I had this time last year at Serendipty, so that pic is for you as much as it is for me! Wherever you begin your day, these Morning Mantras are a really great practice.

And here are some other great links and ideas that have inspired me recently:

  • I'm still on a low to no gluten diet, but sometimes I dream of baking bread again- this is a version of two of my favorite recipes combined. Amylou's Lazy Bread
  • Cal pointed me to this video knowing I'd LOOOOVE it. You will too!

  • I've been gathering up some wish jars to give as gifts to friends that might need a little extra magic in their life. If there is milkweed in your area, this is a fun project for any age- to give or to receive!

  •  I'm discovering so much about this wonderful plant- I loved learning about all of its edible properties, too. Read this!
Have a wonderful start to your week!

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

milkweed and fairy weaving

 Milkweed grows rampant in the field on the southern side of our house. It's a fall tradition to collect their pods and blow the seeds out into the field. We make wishes, dandelion style, as they float through the air. I took one home and really examined the seeds.  They reminded me of tiny dancers… or little fairies with silk limbs.
Silk… threads…fiber… this inspired me to pick up a needle and some silver floss.
And experiment. And improvise. What would a fairy use for a loom? Perhaps a milkweed pod!
This was my first attempt… as inspiration struck, but there is an entire field to forage for more pods. 

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Monday, October 19, 2015

walnut ink

My mother has been requesting some for years. Every time she looks up into the canopy of my walnut trees she asks about it. Well, today is her birthday… and knowing all the walnut cooking I've been doing, what do you think her humble birthday request has been?
 "Just a little pot of ink… please!" 

I have a feeling very few mothers have asked for such a birthday present… but my mother is unlike any other. I'm so darn lucky! She pushes me to my creative edges, she's held my heart when it's been broken, she guides my parenting if I feel lost, and she always can make me laugh until my sides hurt. You know that wild uncontrollable belly laugh that only comes when you fully let loose… the one that heals and makes the tears flow… that's what she gives my sister and me on a regular basis. It's the best medicine, for sure. And as her children- we are the only one's who she has literally held closer to her heart than any other. We have also had the honor of listening to her heart from the inside. So isn't it fitting that the ink she's asked for comes from the fruit with a heart at its center. She knew… I'm sure of it!
Happy Birthday Mom!

Do you want to make walnut ink too? Use the same instructions from this post but only pour a few cups of liquid into the pot. Boil it down for several hours. I've heard that you can add a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol to the mixture to preserve it. Will give that a try when this cools completely.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

walnut basket

I couldn't wait for the weekend to sew up some of the walnut dyed rope!  When I woke me up far too early this morning (darn kitties!), I used it as an opportunity to run down to my studio. Can't wait for the weekend to spend some more time stitching. As much as I adore indigo and enjoy turmeric- the subtler shades of black walnut suit me best. Kind of in love!
 There's still a few spots in my rope basket class next week at Craftstitute. So excited to spend the evening teaching how to create my favorite vessels. Sign up here.
Have a wonderful weekend!
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

walnut dye

Walnuts are the oldest tree food known to humankind, dating back to 7000BC. The eastern Black Walnut produces something called Juglone, which is toxic to many plants and other trees, but also keeps them resistant to most diseases and pests. This must account for their ability to survive and grow so tall and majestic. Our land is surrounded and filled with ancient Black Walnuts and their descendants, which we've watched grown from saplings to young sturdy trees over the years. This walnut forest has been both a blessing and a curse, as they've dictated where we can plant our vegetable garden(only one spot throughout acres of land is safe) and wreaked havoc on any fruit trees we've attempted to plant. But their beauty and strength is something I never tire of. And their walnuts make a wonderful natural dye.

From August through late October we hear the frequent and familiar thump of one walnut after another hitting the ground. There is also daily thunder as they strike the tin roof on our little barn. So, as you can imagine, I have a huge source for creating a walnut dye.

Here's some shots from this weekend's project and last night's dye bath. I give my step by step approach after the pics. NOTE: I wear plastic gloves for every part of the process and caution you to do the same or your hands will be stained for at least a week!

  1. Collect green walnuts.
  2. Squish off the outer hulls and separate from the nuts. (see video here)
  3. Place hulls in a 5 gallon bucket and cover with water.
  4. Soak for several days.
  5. Strain (I use an old t-shirt) enough liquid to fill 3/4 of a stainless steel pot.
  6. Boil liquid for an hour or two. 
  7. Add rope and/or fabric to pot and boil for at least an hour. (Let it sit over night for a stronger and darker color.) I used cotton for both.
  8. Remove material from liquid dye and rinse until water runs clear.
  9. Wash in machine on cold cycle and tumble dry to set color.

Isn't it gorgeous? I'm loving the soft brown/grey/khaki of this batch and can't wait to get into my studio to make something with it all!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

leaves and sticks

This three day weekend was a stunner! The trees were on fire and the sky was a deep blue, so wherever you happened to be there were constant ooooh and ahhhhhs. My son and I created a pretty little video as he drove down dirt roads and I pointed my camera up through the open sunroof towards the canopy of leaves above.

You can view it on histogram here.

The time I have for creativity ebbs and flows… these days I only find moments in the in-between. I'm always looking for new ways to squeeze in a little bit of the magic that happens when there are no expectations or needed outcomes. 

All of the driftwood, gathered at the lake a few weeks back, sits in a basket next to paint and brushes near my kitchen counter. My children have repeatedly caught me standing at the sink with stick and paint brush in hand. Finish the dishes. Paint a stick. Funny little routine, but it's feeding me. Nourishing that part of my soul that loves playing. These "sticks"… they seem to have something special going on. I'm guessing it's their simplicity and the happiness I find in painting them.

 I thought I'd share in case, you find that spontaneous little creative bursts fulfill you too. Sticks, stones, leaves and some paint kept near the sink- easy. Inviting (for everyone). A total win!

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Monday, October 5, 2015

apples: picking and baking

There's nothing quite as spectacular as picking apples on a beautiful fall day. We're so lucky to be surrounded by farms and orchards. I take advantage of our proximity with lots of little trips for a peck here and a peck there, but yesterday was autumn perfection. The sky was deep blue, the air was crisp, but the sun still kept you warm. The fragrance of ripe apples and wet grass makes every picking experience throughout the years be part of the present moment too.  As I called my over 6 ft tall son to help me reach for the high ones, I couldn't help remembering his tiny toddler hands grasped around fruit on the bottom branches. Scents do that to me… connect traditions into one continuous strand of memories. 
I've got fall baking fever and a daughter who's growing like crazy, so I'm certain these will be on this week's menu:

Happy Monday, sweet friends!
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015


There is absolutely nothing like the full body, open hearted, mind blowing experience of opening up the first box of your just printed very own book. And then with your breath barely flowing… lifting a copy into your hands. Ohhhhh! And my daughter captured a bit of this pictured below! Didn't she?! 

This book. My second book. The book I wish I had found when I desperately needed something to hold onto. So I wrote it. For myself. And most definitely for YOU! It still isn't reaching bookstores or Amazon until the end of December- a perfect beginning to the New Year.  But, I have a surprise! Roostbooks (Shambhala), my beyond amazing publishers, do something a little differently than most. Hope, Make, Heal is ready right NOW… EARLY for anyone that orders directly through them.

 I still can't believe it! Think of this as a quiet opening before the big grand throwing open of the doors and blowing the trumpets in December. If you, or someone you love, could use this right now… there is no need to wait! I will be sharing so much more from the pages, behind the scenes and what this book is truly about in the coming weeks and months…

But right now I want to sit quietly and lovingly turn each page. 
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Friday, September 25, 2015

rope baskets at craftstitute

 At Craftstitute  on 10/21 at  6:30-9PM

Yes, it's on! I'm teaching at the end of next month. What a great opportunity to learn how to make the best holiday gift ever… if I do say so myself!
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