Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I'm going on a blogging break—in addition to a real break in the direction of the East Coast come Thursday morning—so I'm leaving you with this lovely image from Abby. I think it captures the season, and reminds me that it's the small things, like a bit of sparkle, and the big things, like a new baby boy who was born over the weekend to friends (welcome to the world Gus!!), that are cause for big celebration. Enjoy the holiday everyone!

P.S. Abby's shop is closed until the new year, but maybe this goes on a 2011 treat list? Just a thought!
P.P.S Please cross your fingers that the weather is decent later this week- we have a 19 hour drive ahead of us!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Homespun for the Holidays

It's getting down to the gift-buying wire and if you're like me, you're starting to feel the pressure to just buy something that will work for those left on your list. Which isn't all that festive when it comes right down to it. The whole point of gifts is that they are meant to be thoughtful, a way of showing that we care and understand the person we are gifting to. But for me, when I have one particular person left on my list who is the Hardest Person to Buy For Ever—because he has such amazing taste and I get nervous worrying that what I choose for him won't measure up—I can loose the point of it all.

So today I'm stepping back and remembering some of the things that I liked most about our holiday last year. One of them was this snowman from my sister. She made them for each of us as gift toppers, so each was unique and sweet and somehow related to our personalities. I love mine and have been trying to think of how to display her ever since.

I also really loved a gift that I made for Josh last year, when he was coming home to my family for the first time. We have a tradition of handmade stockings (my Dad's mom knit all of ours), so it was important to me to make him one that he could use for years to come. I made it out of feedsacks that I had in the house, and which happened to be red and green and very festive. I haven't gotten around to embroidering his name on it yet, but maybe that will be a project to do on Christmas Eve.

So as we head into the last weekend before the holiday, this is my reminder to try to push away the retail pressure and remember that it's really the little things that come from the heart that can go the farthest.

Though, of course, if you don't have time (or the inclination) to start making gifts now, hit up your favorite local store—I have a trip to Ephemera planned—or search for "ready to ship" on Etsy. Other people's handiwork counts too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crocheted Holiday Goodness from ReRae Shop

I spent some time late last week putting up some decorations around my office work space and I am definitely in the holiday spirit. I wish that I could have draped the place in these lovely items from Rae of the ReRae shop on etsy, which I think are the perfect decorations precisely because they would work all winter long.

Crochet Garland in Natural

Here's a bit from Rae on her work:
"I have been making textile pieces since I was 13. I made many of my clothes in high school and took an almost obsessive interest in sewing. Apparel design was my focus at university and I now work as an accessories designer at a local retailer. During my career, I was lucky enough to take a trend trip to Japan and was immediately inspired by the simple and delicate care taken in curating and celebrating the small things in life. I think about the look and feel of these small, rustic and almost pioneer-like boutiques every day."

Tiny message in a bottle ornament
"I have always loved needlecrafts and the vintage lady-like mood that they convey. Working with crochet is so flexible, and has a delicate look that is contrasted well with rustic materials. I can utilize many different fibers, shapes and applications in my craft." 

I think that the vintage lady-like mood is just the thing that I also love about needlecrafts. Thanks so much for sharing a bit about what you do Rae! Check out her shop to see more colorways of these items and also brooches, necklaces and some super sweet tiny pouches.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tis the Season for Stitchery: The Making of My Wedding Dress Update #2

Hello friends! I have some big news to share today—I have started beading the panels of my wedding dress. Which means that I've completed the stitching and I'm on to the fun part. I have realized that doing this sort of handiwork must sound so tedious to some, but the remarkable thing is that when I do this, I am so overjoyed with the outcome that I have to forcibly make myself get up and do something else!

The beading actually goes pretty fast, in comparison to how long it took me to stitch each panel- I think it's probably 2 hours to bead as much as I'm currently doing on each panel, which is nothing compared to about 10 hours of stitching on each panel. (This works out really well for me right now, when it's subzero outside and being busy with a needle and thread is the perfect way to spend a Sunday!). You might notice that I decided not to do the reverse applique—it just feels more like me this way. I love it.

I learned the basics of beading at the workshop, and I've consulted my Alabama Studio Style book a few times. But I also figured out a way to bead, by which I mean the actual orientation of them, on my own which differs slightly from the pattern of my design. I like how the smaller medallions look a bit like stars, and how the sparkles suddenly transform the dress into a Dress (or it will once it's put together). So exciting!

In other exciting news, my good friend Katherine gifted me a most amazing quilt last week. I was overwhelmed, to say the least, upon receiving it—what a remarkable thing it is to have something that she spent so much time on. I love that she has a quilt that I made for her, and I have one that she made for me. Somehow, it makes me feel like we don't live so far apart after all. The quilt is living in our living room so it's within arms reach when we need a bit of warmth.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Lesson in Irish Crochet from Emily of Nothing But String

I came across Emily's work a few days ago and I've had the image of this bowl stuck in my head ever since. It's just so amazing with the texture and the color—I can see this in a very traditional house, or in a most modern one, which I think is the mark of something very timeless. Let's hear more from Emily herself, of Nothing But String on etsy, who also makes jewelry (bracelets, rings, necklaces, brooches), gloves, and scarves, among many other things.

How did you learn to crochet?
I first learned how to crochet at a very young age from my Italian grandmother.  She also worked out of her home making crocheted dresses, woman's skirts and jackets, and beautiful bedspreads and tablecloths for people.  Over the years I stopped crocheting, it just wasn't cool for a teenager, but as life's stresses started to take their toll later in life I found a comforting refuge in crocheting.

What's your favorite thing about the craft?
I've always been a fan of thread crochet and I've always loved making doilies and tablecloths.  It was while searching online for motifs to make a new tablecloth that I discovered Irish Crochet [a form of crochet that involves many more stitches than regular crochet, and is often much more delicate, like tatting—admire the pincushion above to get a sense of it].  I was just fascinated by the technique and the quality of workmanship.  It's not like any other form of crochet that I know of.  Needless to say I haven't looked back since.

What inspires you?
I get my inspiration from just about every where I look, but it's mostly flowers.  I love how they look and how they can accent all sorts of items.  I can say with all sincerity that this is no longer my grandmother's crochet.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thoughts of Home (via the Hudson Valley)

Part of why I like my job so much is that I am able to spend time in nyc about once a month—which also means that I get to see my friends here very often, which is pretty great considering how far away I actually live. Lately though, I am finding it harder to be away from my Iowa home for extended periods of time, which I think is simply telling of how much life there suits me. I think all of those things are good things, a big old blend of love and friendship made easier by plane travel. 

I am grateful for all of the lovely people in my life, friends who live near woods like shown above, another friend who gifted me with amazing handmade quilts, and family with whom I'm able to have Sunday night dinner. And a fiance who's been sending messages of delightful things cooking away in our slow cooker, reminding me of the comfort that's waiting for me at home.

P.S. You should totally watch Mary Poppins again. We did over the weekend and it was so darn good. And you should visit Clay, Wood & Cotton if you are ever in Beacon. Handmade holiday shopping mecca.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Holiday Love: Cozy Textures Edition

I think I'm on a cozy, texture-rich kick now that the temps have dropped, so this week's holiday picks are all on that theme. While you may not think a footstool is a sexy gift, I think this one is the one to change your mind! With a fiance who loves a good foot rest, I have come to appreciate really well designed ones, and I love the patchwork on this version from Kim and Leanne of the Black Strap on Etsy. It's all handmade using vintage materials and I love the mix of textures and patterns.

My second pick this week are these upcycled Sweater Owls from my new friend Sarah (who proved that those who work in magazines all wind up knowing each other at some point- we have a load of friends in common!). I LOVE her tiny sweater owls and am so excited that she gifted me with one recently. It's hanging on the door to my office so I can see it all the time. Sarah is a super talented designer with mad crafty skills and a penchant for jumping in museums. Check out her blog here.

And really, I can hardly contain my joy for these little Booties Made For Walking from Lena in Tel Aviv on etsy. I love the color combination and the crocheted texture. It's a good thing I don't have more friends with babies or otherwise I'd be broke from buying the lot of these! Check out the rest of her store for more booties, and other crocheted goodies.

Enjoy the weekend all and thanks for letting me share, as always.

P.S. Happy Birthday Dad!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Story Behind the Polymer Clay Jewelry from Mel's Art Buffet

I never would have expected that the inspiration for such interesting jewelry could have come from a Celiac diagnosis—read on to learn how Mel of Mel's Art Buffet expresses her love for food, even when she can't eat it. Just a little reminder to me that it's always a good idea to learn the backstory of handmade items I like, because more often than not, it will add an unexpectedly interesting element to my understanding of the work.

1. Tell me a little bit about your work- what makes it unique?
My goal is to create show stopping, head turning, mind scratching jewelry. I think accessories should be bold & fun. It is with these concepts in mind that I set out to design truly unique jewelry. To accomplish this, I make my “thread webs” the center of attention for each piece. Organic & natural, the thread webs are one of a kind each & every time never to be duplicated. As we are all unique & special, it is important to have jewelry to match.

2. Can you explain the process of making your jewelry?
I make my thread webs & their vessels separately. So, many times I will start with a thread web and create a custom carrier or maybe pick a frame from a batch previously made. Its always fun to see what combo will be born. Polymer clay is currently my medium of choice. Polymer clay is a moldable blank canvas, the perfect medium to unite with my thread webs. One of the most challenging design aspects is to determine how the focal will be attached to something else...This will dictate the jewelry type whether it be a brooch, ring, necklace, bracelet, earrings? Next, I will go bead shopping, in my studio mind you. I have enough beads to open a small shop. I tend to get carried away but its nice to have what you need when you need it! I'm really excited about the thread webs & think I have just begun to skin the surface of ideas to incorporate them into workable wearable art.

3. Is this your full time work?
I work full time as an office manager for a residential appraisal company. The days are between 10-12 hours long depending on the financial climate. While I love my day job & feel fortunate to work with a staff hat has become family over the years, my heart & mind long to create. I will always crave more time to devote to my Etsy shop but I am thankful to have such a wonderful day job. Some days I will leave work with several sketches, to set my mind at ease.

4.How does making jewelry help you balance the rest of the demands of your life?
Designing & creating are absolute essential aspects of who I am. With jewelry design, I am able to loose myself in a world of creativity. It is my form of meditation. When I create something my energy is refreshed & revitalized. I am lucky to have found the perfect creative outlet necessary for balance with the every day.

5.Where are you located? I was born, raised, & currently reside in the great city of Memphis, TN. We have a beautiful downtown area that is so much fun! Rich with local art & outstanding music. And, you can't beat grabbing a drink to watch the sun set over the Mississippi River.

6.What inspires you and your work?
Inspiration comes easy to me. My main inspiration is derived from food. I know this sounds crazy but stick with me... In 2004, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, which means no gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye, barley & oats. So, being on a restricted diet I eat visually what I'm not allowed physically. I love to read recipes but more so love to look at food images. Alluring food pictures & blogs are where I find major inspiration. I think food is beautiful & the colors are simply pure & inspiring. A slice of bread, the crumb from a cupcake, or a swirl in a bowl of soup. I can look at a picture of pie & draw multiple sketches for a jewelry piece. I'm obsessed. So this is how Mel's Art Buffet blossomed, buy combining my greatest love in life – food & art.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Into the Holiday Spirit

As this is the first year we're celebrating the holiday season in our house, it seemed only right that we do a little decorating—in between the hiking, eating, reading and movie watching—over the long weekend. We decided to start small for our first year and stick with mini trees on the mantle (they were a bargain at $12.99 a piece!) and we hope that we can keep them alive until early spring and plant them outside.

After we brought home two of the little guys, I scavenged the rest of the materials in the house. I wrapped their bases in voile fabric from Anna Maria Horner (I happened to have two pieces that fit really well). I secured them in back with straight pins and wrapped a length of twine around each with a bow in front.

The mason jars are for the wedding, on loan from Virginia. And the "open me" tags and the two tiny jars of sparkliness are from a kit I brought home from work. The garland, which is made from old music sheets, is from Tabitha Designs scored at Ephemera.

We're living with our display for now and will decide how to dress up the trees in the coming weeks. The branches are so tiny that it's a challenge to hang or drape anything on them, but maybe we'll find something else hiding in the basement to use! All in all, I like how subtle it is, and how it is both festive and calm. It's in the corner of our living room, which means I have an excellent view from the spot on the couch where I do my sewing.

Oh, and as a little bonus, I hung two of these wreath ornaments on our French doors that go out to the screened-in porch (which we will use again come spring, thank you very much Iowa winter) that my Grandmom P made many years ago. Love!

Monday, November 22, 2010

On Gratitude

 As we get closer to Thanksgiving, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what I'm grateful for. And then I'm going to take the rest of the week off from blogging as a reward- but before I do that, please chime in and add something that you are especially thankful for this year in the comments. I think this will be a great way to start off the holiday season—all positive and reflective like!

I am grateful for...
The health of my family, and progress towards health for two members who have recently had some challenges.
A comfortable, warm, and loving home.
A creative circle of girlfriends who continually inspire me, both near and far.
Healthy babies being born to good friends.
Strengthening my back to a point that enables me to run again.
The experience of stitching my wedding dress, and having the time to reflect on that enormous step while sewing something very pretty.
Rewarding and engaging work.
Having someone to cook for.
Our local farmers who are helping to add health to the Iowa landscape, and who provide us with delicious organic vegetables.
Lazy Sunday afternoons.
The best partner in life and in love that I could ever imagine.

The image above is by one of the creative friends I mentioned- check out more of Bethany's work right here.

Your turn. What are you grateful for?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sweet Giftable: English Muffin Shop Veggie Calendar

I've decided to use my Fridays between now and Christmas to share some sweet gift ideas. I am really going to just share things that I come across and love, so that's how my standards are working here! Today's giftable is the 2011 Calendar from the English Muffin Shop, which is a delightful little shop filled with the sweetest illustrated goodies.
 Many of their items are for kids—like these name prints (!)—but the calendar seems to me to be a perfect gift for the person on your life who loves to spend hours in the kitchen. Sweet, right?

P.S. I am still a devoted fan of Flora Douville's illustrated little calendars, but I have decided that since I live in more than one room, it's okay for me to swear my allegiance to two this year!

P.P.S. I am nearing the end of stitching panel #4 of the wedding dress and you can bet that me and HGTV will get through some of the 5th this coming weekend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Map Maker, Map Maker...

 When I received a note from Lauren telling me about her map creations—"As a child there are some things that have stuck with me through to adulthood: maps, sewing, and thinking about color"—I knew I had to learn more because that was a combination of interests that I had never heard before. Lauren says that she "removes maps from their original contexts to reinvent them, creating aerial landscapes with wax, ink, watercolor and tea. Often times, my maps are made through free association. Other times I use antique maps as an inspiration, rediscovering places that were then, newly explored." So with that as our introduction for the day, let's here more from Lauren herself.

Name: Lauren Montanaro Norster

Why do you find maps so interesting to recreate?
Maps and globes are something I've been able to stare at and become lost in since I was quite small.  I find them to be beautiful and intriguing, and recreating them or inventing my own allows me to travel somewhere while in the drawing process, creating my own world.  I also like to incorporate pieces of my day into maps, making them a way of recording time and memories.

Is this your full time work? If not, what do you do during the day and how does this work help you balance that?
No, although I've been spending a lot of time creating art - I've challenged myself to draw at least 50 pieces for the month of November!  I went to school for Elementary Education, and right now I'm working one-on-one with a 12 year old home schooler.  Teaching is definitely another creative outlet for me, and she's an artist too -- so we have that in common.

Explain the process of making one of your prints so we can get a sense of what goes into them.
Usually I'll start off by looking through one of my many map books, searching for a line or some topography that catches my eye.  Then, I put layers of paint down, and start to mix my own lines with the lines of the map. Sometimes I'll use multiple maps as references, sometimes only one, or sometimes none, working just with whatever strikes me. I like to work small, with lots of detail, so even though the pieces are small, a lot of time and thought goes into them.   

Where do you find your inspiration?
Aside from other maps, I find that a lot of inspiration comes when I least expect it -- I'll notice a shape I like in rocks while I'm taking a walk, or be inspired to draw maps involving stars while watching a show that takes place in space.  Whenever I'm stuck, checking out new posts on my blog reader is always inspiring -- seeing new work and creativity always helps!

What's one item on your holiday wish list?
I live in Maine, and really could use a new pair of snow boots!

Lauren has been so kind to offer free shipping to anyone who mentions "Things We Make" in the etsy check out, so hop on over and see what else she's made. Also, for the month of November she's challenging herself to make 2 drawings a day, so definitely stay tuned to see what she's creating!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Late Fall Garden Goodness

Earlier this fall (or perhaps it was late summer) we planted another round of cold hearty veggies in the hopes that we'd have some backyard goodies to take us through November. We planted carrots, broccoli, beets, and turnips and then hoped. As this was my first year as a co-gardener (though really it's Josh's domain) I have been constantly amazed that seeds actually turn into food. I know that makes me sound like a 4th grader, but I think it's hard to remember that when you aren't doing it yourself.

We patiently watched as the turnips, who had enormous, dark leafy green tops that were downright showy in their abundance, grew and the beets timidly started their journey towards our table. After two nights below 30, we decided we'd give the turnip greens a break and pull them—they wilted overnight but kept rallying back to life once the sun came out, but still, it seemed like a lot of work. Josh also pulled some of the beets while he was at it.

The carrots are still out there, but we enjoyed the green tops of the rest sauteed with olive oil, lots of garlic, salt and raisins (that's Tuscan style for you) last night with a slow cooker pot roast. Somehow, enjoying that burst of our backyard made me feel better about the earlier snow shower and coming winter.

P.S. I finished the third panel of the dress and am about 1/3 into the fourth as I take advantage of free time before the holidays arrive. Loving the feeling of progress!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Making of My Wedding Dress, Update #1

Hello! Well, it has been quite the journey since I last wrote—back and forth to Alabama, countless (well, actually about 20 or so) hours of stitching, and a weekend well spent sewing with lovely ladies from all over the country.

My mom and I went to Florence, Alabama to attend a weekend workshop with the incredibly talented folks behind Alabama Chanin. I have known of Natalie Chanin's work for years and when I learned that they had a bridal line, I instantly knew that's the direction I would go. It did not occur to me, immediately, that I would have an interest in actually making the dress with them—that happened over the course of a few weeks. So we drove down (12 hours!) and spent last Friday trying on samples, choosing a pattern and getting the pieces of the dress ready (which involved cutting the pattern, painting on the pattern, and pinning the two layered panels together). We had a very in depth sewing lesson which was priceless and we got to work.

Above you can see the pattern that the dress will be. It's apparently a design that was found in multiple places around the world, at the same time, and is rumored to be magical (I mean I'll take it!). I love that the detail of the stitching, the reverse applique and the beading transform organic jersey cotton into something rather spectacular.

My mom and I have 8 panels to sew and it's relatively straight forward. The thing that takes the most time is that you have to tie off after each petal to allow the dress to stretch—if you did one continuous thread like you do in quilting, you'd bust the seams when you tried to put it on since there are no zippers. My goal is to do all of the stitching, then go back and cut, then bead, so that things are orderly and I don't get ahead of myself beading the heck out of one panel and not finishing stitching another.

We have until the end of February to send the dress back to them—they, the women with much more experience dress making than me—are putting the garment together and adding trim, so there should be plenty of time to complete our work. And if not? We'll send it back to them and they'll finish. Win!

Over the weekend, I was surprised by how different the idea of making the dress felt from the reality of making the dress. You know what? It's scary as heck—I've never done something like this before. I've never actually seen my dress (because it doesn't exist yet!) on my body. What if I spill something on it? What if I'm unhappy with the result?

But then I think about how I didn't really plan this on purpose. I never said "I Want to Make My Dress!" I just did it because it felt right and I knew that it would make me happy. I set out to have an experience with my mom, sew with other women, and participate in the dress. The diy aspect was sort of just a bonus. Plus,  the dress is washable. And the design of it is forgiving and flattering and comfortable. And seriously, I am betting that once the thing is beaded up, it will be so sparkly and delicious that it would be a crime if I didn't love it. So I am working on having faith and enjoying this process because really, it's quite remarkable to get to do this.

To which I say, happy Friday! I have two panels stitched, so I'll periodically give some updates on my progress.

P.S. Thanks for helping mom!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gone Stitching

I'm in Florence, AL where I'll be working on my wedding dress this weekend. Fingers crossed all goes well and that the dress in my head turns out as well in person as it looks in my head!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Warm and Cozy Knitwear from Branda

I am entirely obsessed with these knit bucket hats—I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like them, but I am definitely adding one to my holiday wish list this year. I think one would be just the thing to keep my head warm through a long Iowa winter. Let's here from the ladies behind the darling hat, which is just one type of knitwear that they make. Read on!

Tell me a little bit about yourselves.
We are Mariana and Paula, two sisters who work together and love to do it. We live in Buenos Aires, Argentina and we make hand knitted accessories we sell in our store Branda. There you can find different kind of scarves (from thin to wide, simple to aran cabled), neck warmers, bucket hats and berets, laced cuff and funny fingerless gloves.

Is there significance to the name of your shop?
We called our store Branda as a tribute to our grandmother who taught us how to knit 2 needles when we were just two little kids.

Is this your full time work?
Yes, we dedicate all the time to making crafts, specially knitting.

  What do you think makes your work unique?
Well, at first because it was made for us, not for other person, and we dedicate to do it a time, where we can be feeling and living different situations. Every person leave in a craft a different seal, a different way which is unique.

What do you love about knitting?
We love the variety. Just with a thread and a pair of nails it can be done infinite patterns and garments. Stitch by stitch, just with a different gesture or movement you can create things totally different. Something that is nothing more than a skein of thread becomes a fabric just with a flick of the needles.

 How does knitting make you feel, or what is it about the craft that inspires you so?
We feel we are producing something valuable. All the time we are using garments mass produced, so when we are making or finish a scarf we feel we have produce something special that will be part of the live of someone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

An Ode to Macaroons

Okay, I made an enormous discovery this weekend- coconut macaroons are CRAZY easy to make. No letting butter come to room temperature (no butter at all, in fact), no beating, whipping, or measuring a long list of ingredients. Just coconut, egg whites, sugar and a dash of salt, mixed and scooped onto a lined baking sheet. 15-20 minutes in the oven later you have HEAVEN.

I would like to come back as a macaroon in my next life.

I'm always incredibly amused (and vocal) when I make something at home for the first time and it's way easier than I thought. I have known I love macaroons for maybe my entire life but I just assumed they were hard to make. They are definitely my new go-to baked good because I just can't think of a single other item that delivers such whopping rewards for such little work.

And for all of you who believe that dessert is not dessert without chocolate, dip these suckers into melted chocolate chips and call it a day.

Speaking of all things sweet, I also made two loaves of pumpkin raisin whole wheat bread (with coconut because I can't help myself) and have been eating thick slices with butter all weekend long. I made a concerted effort to stock the fridge over the weekend because my momma is coming to visit tomorrow—so there is veggie chili for dinner and bread for snacking because it's the first time she'll be staying in our house and I want to make sure that she is warmly welcomed. And, apparently, well fed.

The other big weekend development is that my new fabric came from Purl and it goes with the vintage block quilt splendidly. I'm glad I took the time to get the right backing fabric—especially since I already know this quilt will spend a lot of time in use in the living room and being able to really enjoy both sides will come in very handy.

P.S. A big happy birthday to my sweet sis Katie and my friend Cara!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Comfort Friends

It's been another busy week and I've been away from the blog because it felt more appropriate to give my attention to life—my family, which feels so far away, especially during injuries and illnesses, my good friends who I am lucky to see about once a month when work takes me back to nyc, and plain old getting through the work day. I was in nyc for most of this week, where I had inspiring and engaging work to attend to, and time with some of my favorite people in the world. 

I went to college on the opposite side of the country from my family, so you'd think that I would have gotten used to the distance issue. But as easy as it is to fly about the country, I'm not sure one ever really adjusts to being physically far away from loved ones. Which is interesting to me because I firmly feel that home is in Des Moines—it's where I have a lovely life with my fiance, it's where I have a remarkable group of creative friends who are awesome enough to meet for breakfast every Friday and teach me new things, and it's where I found real happiness. I am learning, though, that all of the people that I love carry a piece of my home around with them. And sometimes it's hard not to have them down the street.

I think I'm trying to say that I'm happy to be home and am looking forward to a quiet weekend with my love. And that I miss my friends. And that I'm happy that my mom is coming on Tuesday (because we get to go make my wedding dress next weekend, weeeee!!!).

The sticky buns up above are something that I grew up eating on weekends with my grandparents. They, like my friends, are comfort, contained.

And next week, it's back to our regularly scheduled coverage of creative people and pursuits.

Until then, and as a thank you for indulging my somewhat emotional post, here's a batch of Link Love for you:

Caramelized Sweet Potato and Onion Tart looks like the perfect way to celebrate the first hard freeze. Hello, 30 degree weather!

I'm loving this DIY Athens Farm Wedding, especially the shots of the family making the tree backdrop. And that the bride made her dress from a sheet. And that she rocked cowboy boots.

Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Pecan Filling from Honey and Jam screams fall weekend. Or afternoon. With tea.

These Leaf pillows from Inklore are so simply and lovely. I love the lines of the leaves, especially.

I keep dreaming of this wedding band (yes it's in the men's section, but I love it) from Sarah Perlis. And this one, which has a bit more sparkle.

Happy weekend!

Monday, October 25, 2010

On Finding Patience (and Fabric)

Remember how excited I was about finding these vintage blocks? Well my love remains steady, and I spent Saturday afternoon finishing up sewing them together. The block with the bursts of orange flowers in the front left here is the design I have the most of, so that is the one block that pulls them all together throughout the layout. I've said numerous times how much more I prefer the quilting to the piecing, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to get started quilting this baby.

Except my scrap pile didn't offer up anything suitable that I could use for the backing fabric.
And while I went to JoAnn's early Sunday morning (where I saw a coworker and we laughed at our sewing sickness that caused us to get there just as the doors opened) and got enough fabric for the back, I'm not in love with it. The fabric, a light blue pin stripe, was really the only fabric in the entire store that I could imagine using. But it just didn't hold up. I mean gave it a shot: I washed and ironed it, and bound it together the the batting and the quilt top. But it's just not right.

Which has reminded me of a very important aspect of quilting: when something takes months to make, there is a reason you should love your components. You (I) won't finish if you aren't aching to use the completed work.

So I'm going to slow down, search for a backing fabric that makes my heart sing a little more, and we'll resume from there.

The one good thing to come out of all of that was that it inspired me to change things up and pick up my crochet hook again. So I'm making a set of light aqua blue coasters, just for fun.

Friday, October 22, 2010

October Print of the Month: Houses from Flora Douville

This is my tenth purchase in this year's mini print of the month series, which is my commitment to buying a photography or illustration print from an independent artist each month this year.
I have been enjoying my 2010 calendar from Flora Douville all year long and I've been dreaming of what I can do with the illustrations when this year is over. But to tide me over until that day comes, I've chosen the Houses Print as my October print of the month. I have had my eye on this one for months now and I kept thinking how great a gift it would make for a new homeowner. And then I decided that since I like it so much, I should have it in my newish house—especially since we've now lived here for almost exactly 6 months (which is just crazy! How is it possible that time has gone by that quickly?!?) and it very much feels like home.

Anyway, hooray for that! I think it's going to go into our living room.

It's been a busy week in the world of my day job—getting an issue shipped out to the printer requires A Lot of reading, so I am looking forward to relaxing this weekend. I'm also hosting breakfast club for dinner tonight, a new monthly ritual where we have our Friday morning meet up for dinner, so we can linger (and laugh) longer. So, the weekend will start off with the good company of my friends and will surely include more work on these vintage blocks.

Enjoy the downtime everyone!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Highlights: Whole Wheat Pear Chocolate Chip Bread and New Sewing Projects

I made a very important realization this weekend: when I'm stressed with too much work (or wedding planning or trying to decide whether or not to install hardwood floors or just new carpet upstairs), baking is an excellent way to restore balance. I had an overwhelming urge to make quick bread, so I did a variation on this one with 2 grated pears, walnuts and chocolate chips. And, just because I thought of it, we had this as French toast on Sunday morning. It was moist and rich, just the thing to start the day with a side of Greek yogurt. 

I also spent a good chunk of time getting two new sewing project in order. The first one is another small quilting project with a purple block that was the only one of it's kind in a stack of blocks I picked up recently at an antique mall (the rest are below), paired with remnants including some Liberty of London fabric that I had once used as a curtain, and lovely voile from Anna Maria Horner as the backing and edge. This one should quilt up quickly and I might try to save most of it for the Alabama wedding dress road trip.

The second project is one that will take a bit longer, but it's a quilt that I plan to use in our house, which is really exciting. I haven't made and kept a full sized quilt for myself since the first one that I made way back in 2002, and I just love the colors in these vintage blocks. Plus, I know that the size of the pieces on each block will lend to dense quilting, which will give the overall piece the texture I love.

I keep looking at the stitches, wondering about the woman who originally put these blocks together. It's a fascinating experience to work with a quilt that someone else started‚ humbling really, given the amount of work that went into these. There are 20 blocks, so I've arranged 5 rows of 4 blocks, and I'll do a border around that when the time comes.