Saturday, September 26, 2015

stones for my hair

I saw this beautiful photo of an Elemental Child crystal crown tucked into a French twist last year and wanted to do something similar. Only, since I'm unlikely to put my hair up into a French twist (ever - I usually do a pile of sculptural curls at the nape of my neck, if I do anything at all), I decided to separate mine into individual combs.

This is the first set I made. I haven't worn them yet (no occasion for fancy updos when one is moving!), but I hope to, soon. I'm debating whether I'll tuck these into my hair at my workplace's fundraising gala in October  - the alternative would be donning my favorite fascinator/tiny pillbox hat from Spain. Ah well, the holidays bring plenty of opportunities to play dress-up (and I intend to take advantage of them!).

I plan to dabble with a few more of these in the future; I have smaller crystals to try (I wanted my first set to mimic the scale of the original photo as much as possible, though), and diminuitive one-inch-wide combs, to experiment with scale. Using both might yield darling results for a child!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

stopping time, moving forward

tart cherry preserves - a taste of my childhood!

Ugh. Once again, where has the time gone? Well. I have been making things and taking photos all this long, hot, dry summer. I just haven't taken the next step of culling and editing photos and posting. I also feel like I've barely been keeping my head above water with the making.

Part of it's the heat; look at the grass in that top photo - little straw-twigs! This summer was a prolonged battle of attrition to try and keep the garden alive. It was more work and money than it was worth and eventually I threw up my hands and said, "I give up."

It was the right choice. And now that some more seasonable weather has returned (three good drenching storms in a 3-week period), I feel like I've had a little more time to gather myself and get things done. So I sat down yesterday morning and culled a bunch of photos to put together a couple of posts.

I found tart cherries at the U District Farmer's Market (thanks to a tip from my awesome neighbour) and made preserves - well, more of a low-sugar pie filling, really. I was only able to get 2 lbs of cherries, so these won't be shared, because after you remove the pits, the 2 lbs have pretty much become 1 lb and it's just not enough!! These are for turnovers or eating on English muffins this fall, and reminisces about the mature tart cherry tree I grew up with. (More on that in a moment.)

blackcurrant preserves!

At one point this summer, I walked into Ballard Market and there were flats of blackcurrants for just $10. I took one and went through the laborious process of picking all the bits of stems and flower ends off them - and then I made delightful blackcurrant jam. I have given lots of these away already, sharing the bounty, but there should be a few left at the holidays. I also baked the leftover preserves (when I ran out of jars to pack them into) into a completely heavenly vegan coffee cake (I had some stress this summer and my doctor ordered me off dairy - it took about three weeks for things to level out, and I started getting creative with the vegan baking). 

And now, back to that little note about the cherry tree of my childhood. I've bought one for my own garden: a Northstar. It's supposedly self-dwarfing, only growing 8-10' tall and wide, able to be netted and harvested without a giant ladder, resistant to cracking and brown rot, and when mature, producing plenty of fruit for a family of four. We only have two in our family, but I definitely eat more than my fair share of tart cherries - as a child and teen, these were the only fruits I would eat to the point of allergic reaction: when my grandparents visited and my grandpa brought jars of tart cherry sauce, I'd eat it all day ... until I broke out in hives on my wrists and inner forearms. I'd take a cold shower and put on calamine lotion before bed ... and in the morning I'd start all over again - no regrets!!

And where will we put this tart cherry tree? Well, we'll put it in our new garden that we're going to build ... in our new home. Cass and I have become homeowners - finally! - for the first time in our lives. I expect the tone of this blog will shift toward more decorating, gardening, and home repair/upgrade projects in the future, but for now we're living in boxes as we can't start moving until Tuesday.

And maybe the new home will be just the prod I need to get back into the swing of things here. Let's hope so - because Pacific Rain has been languishing this summer!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A bag for Gaia

This, too, was meant to be a Yuletide gift. Boy, was I late.

My friend was pregnant at the time - she's since given birth to her son, and fortunately I did manage to get this to her a week or two before the birth, which was my aim (the "hard deadline").

When I started in November; she was quite pregnant already (big baby this time around!), and I was thinking how wonderfully suited my friend is to pregnancy. I think of her as a water spirit, but she was so perfectly at home as this grounded mother, growing heavy with child. So I began to bead a sort of mandala pattern for her, all in blues and greens, studded with lapis and jade.

I stitched together a kind of medicine bag from softest back suede; the bag is maybe ...5 or 6 inches wide by about 8 inches long, I think? I don't quite remember. The entire bag is edged in tiny seed beads of palest lavender. One on every stitch.

I made a very long, 4-strand braided strap from leather, so the bag could easily be slung, messenger-style, diagonally across the body and hang at the hip. I left long fringes hanging and weighted them with silver beads to help them swing just right. My fingers turned black from working all those dyed skins.

I wanted it to be a gift to bring sweetness and light, so I stuffed it with a sage smudge, palo santo sticks, lavender balm and special soap, tea for breastfeeding mothers, etc. And off it goes. Not much to say about this; it's just a pretty thing I made for a friend whom I love and it turned out quite perfect!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Another architecture tee

2015 is my year of the WIP (Works-in-Progress), by which I mean, working on finishing up old WIPs (and jettisoning those projects that I'm never going to finish). And there are PLENTY of these thing banging around the house. SO MANY IDEAS, never enough time for them all. But as Cass and I finally make progress toward entering the housing market (as first time buyers), I'm trying to adopt an attitude of "we're moving" and use that to motivate some streamlining in all aspects of our lives: cleaning out the fridge and freezer of old unused food, cleaning out our closets, and yes, even cleaning out baskets of projects.

In the interest of finishing up old works-in-progress, I printed this shirt for Cass some time ago; it was meant to be a yuletide gift, but ... I don't know what happened, exactly. I made this screen years ago, and printed him a blue-and-black Aalto tee then. He'd worn that shirt out, so it was time for a new one. Simple as that, really. He's happy as a clam to have an Aalto shirt again. This print is one of his favorites.

I also finished another originally-intended-as-a-yuletide gift in mid-June. I'll try and get it up on the blog this week; I would've posted sooner, but a business trip to Cleveland, followed by Midsommar, followed by a rush proofreading job and the 4th of July have absorbed my last three weeks in a constant state of busy-rush-rush.

I think I've earned a bit of a summer break: time for less rush-rush and a bit more summer reading and beading in my near future, I hope! Oh, and quilting, too - I want to finish the Rabbit in the Moon quilt this summer and give it away. With full time work and part time freelancing, I think I can safely say that Months and Years is officially going back on the shelf of Dreams for When I Have Time. Oh, I'll keep making beautiful small things for little people, but I think I'll just go back to giving them away instead of trying to build a collection of them to sell together.

Sunday, May 10, 2015



Wow, things have been quiet around here. April (and May) are, as it turns out, really busy months for my new professional career. In fact, I've been pushing myself so hard at work that I've actually been sick (very sick) for the past two weeks with a bad headcold.

While it's rather boring to sit around blowing your nose and coughing and drinking tea and binge-watching Netflix because you're too tired and worn out to read a book or think or go for a walk in the beautiful sunny weather, the whole sitting-on-the-couch-under-many-blankets business is very conducive to finishing small handicrafts like handsewn felt rabbits.

This rabbit's name is Maggie.

Maggie is actually a kit made by the clever, magical Alicia Paulson of the blog Posie Gets Cozy. (one of my all-time favorite corners of the web; I've been following along with Alicia for, gosh, maybe even 10 years now? Time flies.) Here's a link to go scope the pattern out if you'd like to make one for yourself. There are a whole bunch of other animals now: a cat and a mouse and a deer and even a fox, each with their own charming little outfits. Maggie's ears are lined with cute pink Liberty fabric, and she wears a Liberty peasant dress and a little handknit capelet (I got help on that one from my MIL) and lace-up felt boots.

Maggie is rather patiently enduring being folded a little tightly and stuffed in a box at the moment; she's headed up North to meet the youngest member of my husband's family this week, whom I hope enjoys playing with her even more than I did this afternoon! =)

More works-in-progress being finished up this week; I have at least another post ready to go. Is this my return to blogging? Yeesh, let's hope so. I can't believe how dusty it's gotten around here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Hard to believe it's already time; the weather this year is off - I keep asking myself, is it El Nino or more serious climate change?  And while there's an anxiety gnawing at the back of my brain about summer, and drought, and wildfire season and all those poor people who live east of the mountains!, and the price of water, and planting vegetables that don't need too much water  ... at the same time, there's sun in the Pacific Northwest in February, in March. The temps are warm enough that I have been out harvesting nettles since early February ... and it's hard for a light-starved northern girl to remember that this sun and these mild temps are a bad thing, when it's February and sunny instead of February and bleak.

And so I've been out in the woods already, gathering nettles. Soon it'll be big leaf maple blossoms and the spring foraging season will really and truly feel like it's on.

In the meantime, if you need some color (and comfort!) in your life, try this recipe for beet bread from Twigg Studio!

As I'm something of an old hand at making bread, I used my own tried-and-true process for making bread with this one: first I roasted and peeled the beets, then ground them in the food processor to make a puree. Meanwhile, I proofed the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of sugar, then combined the yeast mixture, beet puree, oil, salt, and 1 cup of white flour in a bowl. I beat hard to make a creamy sponge, then added the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a smooth dough had formed.

The next week, I made this same recipe again, using carrot puree (I boiled, then pureed the carrots) and chopped fresh dill; it was amazing. I love how flexible this recipe is; I'll definitely keep playing with it to make various vegetable breads. Give it a shot!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A first

Sorry for my long absence here. I realized, last week, that since I started this blog while I was in grad school, this month marks the first time ever that I've held a regular, 9-to-5 job and had a blog. Hence, the silence. I definitely haven't worked out a balance yet with my job, with yoga, with housework, and with the blog - or any kind of creative making, really; I haven't made anything but food-things in a month. Part of that is because I've also got two freelance jobs on my plate right now - both historical fiction novels that I'm proofreading.

But there are at least a few food experiments going on around here, and this post marks the start of my efforts to try and get the blog back into the new balance of what feels, finally, like a fully adult life. (So happy about that.)

It's been such a mild winter around here this year that it'd be easy to forget that we had one at all. But winter is the season for citrus fruits, and I have a giant bowl of bitter Seville oranges sitting on my kitchen table as a reminder (I'm making marmalade this week - or maybe next weekend is more accurate). I also candied orange peels (below) a few weeks ago, and then used the leftover syrup to glacee kumquats (above) afterward. Recipes for the process can be found here (orange peel); I used the same process for the kumquats (and even the leftover syrup, as I said) as I did for the orange peels, and just let the sliced fruits cook in the already-reduced syrup for about 40-50 minutes, then placed them in a food dehydrator set to about 135 degrees F for an hour or two to help dry them. I loved these kumquats in my holiday baking this winter and everyone loved them so much that I wanted to have more on hand to use again this year.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

so I can find it later: cherry almond smoothie

Tonight I went looking for the recipe for this smoothie and couldn't believe I hadn't posted it on my blog! How inconvenient! So, even though this is more than a mite out of season, here it is - I think I'll have it for dessert later, yum yum.

This is my current favorite smoothie at my favorite Seattle vegan spot, Chaco Canyon. After sampling it for the first time this summer, I came home and immediately started tinkering, trying to figure out the proportions so that I could recreate it myself. Since I started making my own almond milk on a semi-regular basis, I have all this ground almond pulp left over. I read that it could be used in smoothies and immediately remembered: oh yeah, cherry-almond smoothies! Yum! I love the zero-waste aspect of this: some of the almond milk goes into the smoothie, and the leftover almonds do, too.

Without further ado:

Cherry Almond Smoothie

1/4 - 1/3 c almonds (or almond pulp/meal)
2 smallish handfuls frozen pitted dark sweet cherries (so, just over 1 c?)
1 c almond milk
1 banana
1 Tbl maple syrup (I like Trader Joe's dark grade B syrup)

Place the almonds (or ground almond pulp/meal) in the blender. Add a bit of the almond milk, and grind up the nuts a bit. Add the cherries and the remainder of the almond milk and blend. Add the banana and maple syrup and work your way up to high speed to get a smooth, thick treat!

The last time I was at Chaco, I swear there was a bit of a cocoa flavor to this, as well - it was like drinking a Cherry Garcia shake ... but vegan! Holy smokes! I'm going to try adding a bit of cacao and see if I can recreate the effect.

Monday, January 12, 2015

looking ahead

Here's news - though anyone reading this blog has probably already seen my update on facebook, or been called, etc. - I finally landed a stable job (it's been nearly two years). I have about a week before my first official day, so in the meantime I'm finishing up some projects, finally enjoying the time off because I can stop worrying about money for the first time in years.

Here's one of the projects I'd been meaning to do for almost a month now! I came across this "Deer Moon Necklace" by Three Arrows Leather in the late autumn, and knew I wanted to make one like it. I actually found a great new source for nice quartz points: children's toy stores - specifically, ones that carry rock specimens for young collectors. I stocked up over the holidays, so perhaps I'll be making a few more of these (girlfriends for whom I regularly make jewelry, let me know if you want one!). I opted for turquoise deerskin lace to make the braid and the straps, instead of black - because I realize that a lot of the jewelry I'm making for myself lately involves rugged natural materials and then black or brown leather (or brass metal fittings). And I'm wearing more neutral clothing, too - so this is a little bit of a reaction against the rut! I also love wearing turquoise accents in the summer, so this is a nice way to look ahead to the summer months to come.

I added some silver tone metal beads from Africa (leftover from when I made that medicine pouch), and I'm all set! My necklace also hangs a bit higher than the original, as I find necklaces that hang too low bothersome.

Friday, January 2, 2015

handmade holidays 2014: gold and pearl earrings

Okay, so actually, I haven't mailed this pair of earrings yet. But I will! Soon! Um, I promise! =) Loosely inspired by some of the gorgeous work of artisan jeweler Julie Cohn (explore her work on her website here), this pair of earrings features an organic, dimpled gold bauble and dangling black keshi pearls (with a pretty rosy/coppery cast to them). And another confession: I liked these so much that I made an identical pair for myself. Yeah, no one's really surprised by that one, huh?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

handmade holidays 2014: leather medicine bag with labradorite pyramid

So here's the thing about sending your presents out late: you can't post them 'til even later. This is ridiculous; December was kind of a non-event on the blog, huh? I don't often go in for New Year's resolutions, but maybe I should this year, and strive to make the blogging a more regular thing again. I really want to get back to blogging at least once a week - and not drop off the face of the earth and ride the coattails of a few super-productive weeks earlier in the year!

But let's get down to business. This turned out beautifully. I was so pleased with it. My inspiration was this "Miakoda Medicine" bag by Three Arrows Leather. My version is made from heavy wine-colored suede (the prettiest option of all of the scrap-leather bags at my local Tandy Leather store) that I hand-sewed together with a glover's needle and heavy waxed thread, with braided black leather lace for the necklace and fringe. I mounted a labradorite pyramid with pretty blue fire that I found on etsy into the flap (golly it's big - and kinda sharp at that point!), and worked silver-colored metal beads onto the fringe.

I loved making this - and I love the look of the pyramid stone set in the leather. I'd love to try my hand at making a big bag with multiple stones set in the flap sometime, like some of the purses that Three Arrows has for sale. It's such a great, simple idea for embellishment - and it looks amazing!