Tuesday, June 21, 2016

So many roses


This weekend I had half the kitchen table covered in rugosa rose petals that I'd washed and set out to dry. Some of them went back into the rose tincture for a double infusion (double strength!); some of them were dried and added to the raspberry rose tea mix I'm working on; and a good number of them were pickled using this recipe from Martha Stewart, for eating on a lovely layered beet salad with yogurt and spiced brown butter.


Pickling rose petals does sound a little twee, I'll admit. But it's actually quite fast, and the results are really lovely. After cleaning your petals, you simply measure them out (gently packing them), then make a brine by gently simmering vinegar, honey, and salt and pour it over your petals. I put a resealable plastic cap on the jar and pop it in the fridge and voila! All set for the summer! 


Saturday, June 18, 2016

At long last


Finally! This baby gift is finished and gifted ... only a month after the baby arrived (close enough, right?). We gave the quilt (it's Elizabeth Hartman's Fancy Fox quilt pattern) with a copy of Coralie Bickford-Smith's very pretty little book, The Fox and the Star.


I decided to quilt it in a geometric pattern of lines wrapping around a central square. It's all hand-quilted, and the binding is finished by hand, as well (with a line of trapunto machine-stitching to ensure it is durable).


I used two layers of batting to give it extra loft, extra coziness. I almost wonder if this was a mistake for a lap quilt, if now it feels more like a pad for sitting on than a blanket for wrapping around oneself. But my husband proclaims it perfectly snuggly. (Hopefully the new parents like it as much as we do!) I almost think I should make one for our bed ... but I think I need a little break from quilts for a while.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Time.


I have a new job. At the University. I'm really excited.

I have a week off first. Time.

I have a week off because I left my old job before my two weeks' notice was up because a.) they were getting pretty abusive once I gave my two weeks' notice (wow, super abusive.. SO UGLY) and b.)  a friend died on Wednesday afternoon and I realized: nothing I have left to do at this point is really that important anymore.

A friend died Wednesday afternoon. She gave birth to her second son on Saturday. She went home Sunday. She woke up sick on Wednesday. She was rushed to the hospital, pumped full of antibiotics, sent into surgery ... and died.

She was a partner at my husband's firm. She got him his job. They went to school together. She was the valedictorian of their Master's class. She introduced me to oilbar, my medium I use for paint. She was soft spoken. She was goofy. She was kind. Always kind.

So many things don't make sense right now. I just saw her two weeks ago. She was getting so big. I exclaimed over it and she joked that she was fat and shouldn't be wearing horizontal stripes anymore. (She wasn't big. She was always slim during pregnancy.) She always joked.

I didn't get to say congratulations.

I didn't know I wouldn't see her again.

None of this makes any sense.

I walked into my husband's firm Thursday morning after leaving my job and hugged the bosses. No words. I just walked up and clasped them each in turn. They sobbed. We sobbed. The firm had a morning meeting before dispersing for the day. Cass and I went to the woods. We walked in the quiet. It was the only thing we could think to do.

The community is mobilizing, organizing support for her widower and two sons. It helps; it gives structure and direction at a time when we are awash. And our own network is here for us: our friends and neighbors are going out to dinner with us, bringing us cookies, going for walks, being with us. As we get older, we get better at grieving, we learn the techniques to process and deal.

But still, there is that moment, when I wake up in the morning, and I remember. There are all the moments throughout the day when I remember. When a character on television says, "I don't understand" in response to bad news. When I see the wetness of my husband's green eyes, and the little twitch of his mouth. There are all these little moments in the day. All the hours to fill.

We sit, and wait for time to pass. For time to pass and make it better. For time to pass and help us find a way to move on, without her.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Midsommar is coming


Our annual Midsommar preparations begin: 2.5 quarts of salmonberry jam. There's a little 8-oz. jar left over tucked into the fridge for eating on toast. Delicious.


Monday, June 13, 2016

raspberry and rose


A little summer gathering, dried on a hot summer afternoon. Not done blending yet, but it's a pretty start!



Sunday, June 12, 2016

holiday-ready

I saw these great incense burners (for cones) at a local boutique in Seattle a couple weeks ago; they were shaped like geometric prisms, made from a kind of cement, with a little triangular niche set into one side of the prism in which to tuck the cone.

What a great idea! Of course, I wanted to try my hand at making them myself - and given that the materials to make many of these cost as much as one cost to buy, well ... here we go.

It just so happens that A Merry Mishap posted a DIY to make a cement diamond, and that I pinned it some time ago because I was thrilled to try it out.


We printed out copies of the template that Jennifer linked to in her post. Instead of covering the template with tape, after trial and error, we found we preferred gluing it to E-flute and cutting it out (template goes on the outside, plain cardboard on the inside).


You simply cut it out, score on the dotted lines, and then tape it together.We mocked up the niches ourselves, covered them in tape, and taped them inside the form. (Cut the back/bottom off the template so you have a way to pour the cement into the form.) We lined heavy-bottomed short glasses with plastic wrap to protect them from spills and drips, and placed one form in each cup.


We used hydrocal to fill our forms. We placed 1 part water in a bowl and added 1.125 parts hydrocal. We stirred it evenly, then sprinkled in about 1 Tablespoon of powdered black pigment. We mixed it until it was evenly distributed, then added another 1 Tablespoon of powdered pigments and lightly stirred so that the pigment was not completely evenly mixed - in other words, to create a marbled effect. Here we are, pouring hydrocal into a form.


Jostle the cups lightly from side to side to make sure it settles evenly into the form. Let sit for at least 2 hours before testing how firm it is - if it's hard, you can peel off the mold and let it cure.


After curing, we did have to wash/scrub (using a nonabrasive scrubbing pad) to remove the fuzzy film of E-flute cardboard from the sides of the prism - and leaving a soft, papery kind of texture to the cement behind. We sanded the bottoms smooth with sandpaper, and voila!

I'm going to be giving some of these away with Blackbird's stunning incense cones for holiday gifts to a few ladies this year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

change of plans


I woke up so tired this morning. So tired.

After about a half hour - just as we were leaving, and for the umpteenth time I was yawning and saying, "I'm so tired today!" - my husband looked at me and suggested, "Why don't you just stay home?"

He had a point. I didn't have any meetings today. In fact, it's a rather quiet week for me at my day job. And I have a decent stash of personal time and vacation hours saved up.

So hey, why not?

We got coffee together and then he dropped me back at home. I pulled my PJs back on and climbed into the guest nook with a drawing pad, my cell phone, some pens, a notecard for making a list/plan for the day, my laptop, and my coffee.

I put on a foreign movie I'd started a few days ago and hunkered down in the blankets. I didn't even drink my coffee before I crashed.

I woke up 3 hours later. My coffee was cold, but I didn't care. I poked around on ebay and snapped up a couple basic summer skirts for work. (I had a great thrifted silk skirt for summer days at the office that I wore like crazy last year - until I spilled salad dressing down it and stained it. So I've been looking for replacements.)

I went downstairs and made breakfast and brought it back upstairs to bed with me - remember the fancy oatmeal recipe I was going to try out? It's really super-duper good.


Then I streamed a little trashy fantasy TV and broke out my pens and finished this border for a friend's book. It took me four hours to finish, and it felt so incredibly luxurious to just sit there in bed, drawing. Wonderful.


I squeezed in a short workout and then went out and smoothed and tamped the soil in an area of the yard that we just tilled up and enriched with compost this weekend, and planted several dozen dahlias from my MIL. I wound up having to pot up the last 17 tubers until we can prep more soil for them. They won't hold long in those quart-sized pots, but it's something, at least.


And it's May, and there are peonies. Luscious, romantic peonies. We are building a thing of beauty.