Monday, March 29, 2010

apple season - celebrating moosewood style

I came back 'home' to NZ almost five years ago. Sixteen years away from these fair shores and only one visit back during that time. Many loves of land, mountains, seas, people and projects and many an acquired skill or talent honed was i blessed to experience in those beautifully crowded years.
One abiding love is to cook. Living out of a backpack and with mainly dumpster dived or homegrown ingredients for much of my first years roaming meant a limited repertoire of dishes made it out of any kitchen i found myself in...Soup anyone?!

Sequestered in St Laurent de Cerdans in the French Pyrenees for four years i finally got to go wild with creating gardens and taught myself to cook. My partner and i (plus the many who blew in for meals and various stays) got rather round at times as i vied to perfect my cooking skills.

One recipe that was missing from my repertoire was an apple cake. Not just any apple cake...a moist one, spicy and delicious but still with the delicate flavour of apple present.
Since i left the US and my beloved commune five years ago (has it really been that long?) i have had my secondhand/thrifty radar up for Moosewood Restaurant's New Recipes book. I was wandering past my teeny local community run library and there it was on the books for sale rack for $1. Oh joy and cake heaven was mine!

Et voila.... Aunt Minnie's Fresh Apple cake!
Easy to make and very very good.
We used apples from our local orchard and said a big thank you to the apple trees as we left.

Now i realise that apple cake heaven could have been mine all mine years ago if i had of visited Moosewood's website. Ahem. The recipe book does have the most hilarious retro photos though so i feel somewhat vindicated.

I, of course, refused (despite the very best of intentions) to follow the recipe exactly and managed to tweak slightly and sneak in some grated fresh ginger root and some yoghurt. I also used butter instead of oil. Shameless i know but there was only olive oil in the kitchen. I do live in NZ where butter still reigns supreme. Apologies to Aunt Minnie.

An aside: My camera suffered a very undignified fall (aided by an excited small person) during a shoot a week ago so i am limping along without one while fingers crossed that the repairs dude can fix it. Fast and cheaply please oh please oh please! It is strange not to have it, i am constantly reaching for it or staging pictures. I love how taking photos more has opened my eyes to the world in a new way.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

from crafting to climate change

How my designs begin. (Actually, these sketches made it into my notebook, i have many on teeny bits of paper...scribbled waiting for the lights to turn green, in the library, in the middle of the night...). Inspiration strikes when she strikes. Gotta ride that moment. Even if it then gets shelved for another day.

A late night pattern making/cutting out session.
It was my sister's birthday and i wanted to craft her something special.

And this is it. The photo doesn't do the print justice, but you get the idea.
Just the bag when you do a quick market run (without a babe in arms and all the gear that goes with that scenario). Fits wallet, car keys or bikelock keys, cell phone and sports a wee pocket in the front for easy access to your list. The shoulder strap means you can tuck the bag behind you as you bike, or it sits nicely at the front. And, my signature vintage button.

Loving this second one i made too. I like the way this vintage fabric works with a smaller design bag. I don't usually give away or sell my prototypes in the early design stage. This one may have to live here for a trial run. But never fear: A series of other bags like these, in vintage fabric will be in store (and rolling off the kitchen table) shortly.

Just stumbled across this moms against climate change video - watch it and send it far and wide. An old activist from way back, it brings me back to the inner conversation i have about what more i can do in my often brain addled sleep deprived state with limited time. But that's another post!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

sleepless thrifting and crafternoon tea

I love how $1 can still be the door to so much fun and learning. Just need to look in the right places. Often the fun and learning comes free but we love a little rummage in secondhand shops. You didn't know that about me? Stick around!
These dear jigsaw puzzles came in a bundle and look like they've never been touched. Each letter and animal pops out. Perfect for a little man wanting to know what letter words start with.

Now, i am wondering if anyone can really understand my excitement about this find. My $2 wee ironing board. For doing sleeves or wee pieces of sewing when i don't want to set up the whole board. I couldn't find one new except for a horrificly priced one and here, voila...the very thing i went to rummage for. The thrifting goddess was smiling upon me.

Spotlight had these wee $2 bundles of fabric in their sale bin. Begging to be made into kids costumes and capes methinks.

Jed's purchase of the day. For his cooking.
This past seven days has been an absolute shocker for sleep. Back to nights of waking many many times, this time from nightmares or just plain old awake and grizzling (both of us). Patience if i was meant to be in touch or it's your birthday tommorrow and i haven't made your present yet. Ahem!

Even though we were awake from 4.30am yesterday i still dragged the small one into town to Crafternoon Tea. It was a wee bit like herding cats that might explode at any second, but i'm glad we cased Crafternoon Tea. I got to meet the lovely Angela of Mermaid's Purse in person (we are still talking about her beautiful strawberries) and some new crafty faces.

Rocking out to Band of Horses' Is there a ghost as i type - to keep me awake. It was either rock out or caffeine. It's 9pm NZ time. Even i have my limits.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

snapshots from our night

One snapshot in pictures: our newly discovered garden resident. Monsieur le 'edge'og.

And one snapshot in words: J's been having trouble getting to sleep lately. I lay with him and read my book a little while. I thought he was asleep then looked over to see him gazing at me. When our eyes met he said, and i quote, ' your eyes are so beautiful'...(a few connected moments of wonder pass)...then, 'they twinkling like marbles'.
Highest of high accolade from a 2 1/2 year old who loves marbles.
He then went promptly to sleep. This is not a sentence i utter often you understand. I might type it again, just for the fun of it, i may not get to use it again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

on the up

From the brown paper design and pattern making.... the finished product.
I am very fond of corduroy and of my various odd bits of vintage barkcloth and thought i would try putting the two together. It's a work in progress, this bag design. I had meant it more as a handbag for mama escaping alone moments but it is a mama sack. By that i mean a necessarily voluminous bag for changes of childrens clothes, food, general mayhem making or avoiding supplies. I am pleased with my experiment. Less time passing between the conception stage and the actual making of the piece would be good. Then i might remember what all those vital notes and wild diagrams might mean BEFORE i sew. Happily i like the result and learnt bucketloads along the way.
I have worked out that it is easier for some folks to use a bag with re-purposed or vintage fabric. You can put it down and pretend it's someone else's if it feels too edgy. I have three bag patterns (all my own design) for the next market stall. Lined tote bag, handbag and mama sack. Quite possibly, a new name for the 'mama sack' might aid sales!

Inside...pocket for phone and keys and lining made from a favourite vintage sheet.
Still toying with the idea of vintage button closure..not sure, the bag is hanging in my 'studio' corner of the room awaiting decision.
I just visited soulemama and found a link to this blog. Kind over matter. Do you need a dose of feel-good?(I did) A little shake up and wake up? (yup, that too)Some gems in kind over matter...what a great thing to give to the world. Ain't blogland grand?

the mire and the apple

I am here unscripted with nothing but what's on my mind.
I am in the mire. You know, that place when you have a sneaking suspicion that something is not quite right, that something in your life has to change, maybe something big...but the details are still sneaking up on you. The revelation has yet to reveal itself. Either that or i'm averting my eyes...That transition place. Uncomfortable. Vulnerable. Kinda exciting. Raw place of possibility, where even beauty hurts the heart to behold.

In one of my workshops a participant once shared that 'Fear is just excitement but without the oxygen' - we freeze, contract, can't see clearly and forget to breathe when we are afraid. Well, i have been forgetting to breathe again. Funny how i forget the things i need in times of trial. I forget that happiness is not inherent in the events of life but how i greet them. The last few days i plum forgot that if i let myself feel sad or frustrated, feel it fully, then i can let it go and it passes. Just like the most connected and joyous of moments pass too.

Each moment is like one of these apples i got from our local orchard. $4 for a box of seconds. Each apple i have tasted has been delicious, each unique. All different sizes and shapes, different beauty spots/blemishs. Each has its own gifts. Just like each moment, each wave of emotion, each of us.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

all in a day's work

Listening to stories. Deeply.
Cooking. Big favourite around here.

Painting has to be done nude. It begins with a paintbrush, on paper, but don't be fooled...this is how it turns out! Happiness.

I was feeling pleased with myself, I set Jed up to shuck beans while i got on with dinner. Even made a chute to make it more fun. Lasted about five minutes. Meh!

Not pictured is the experiment where an entire jar of dried yeast was mixed into ‘cooking’ and left to see how many bubbles or ‘creatures’ would come.
Also not pictured is the scrubbing of decks after aforesaid mix was mixed and splashed all over then baked hard by the sun.

Naptime (and procrastinating from writing a submission) had me stumble across two new blogs i really like. One a friend sent to me because it came up in an online search she did on my name. Shira from Shirari Industries comments on an article i wrote for Communities Magazine in the US. Reading your writing paraphrased by someone else is so odd! Her blog post was entitled 'exuberant nudity'. Oh it seems a looong time since i left Twin Oaks Community.
And this delicious piece of vintage sewing bloggy heaven. Peter Lappin's blog, male pattern boldness.
That man's seams are just too good to be true, surely!
Oh, how i love it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

freeing my inner frou frou

While engaging in a late night art therapy session of 'working through some demons', i accidently freed my inner frou frou self. It erupted all over a bathmat i was working on.

When thoughts keep circling in my head and come to no peaceful resting place or useful conclusion, i either take long walks (limited possibilities of these being primary caregiver of small one), a long bath (being on tank water limits this one) or craft those thought demons into zenlike submission. It's a form of meditation. A way of processing emotional stuff that refuses to be shelved for another day. It works every time. The finished products are infused with a meaning and become symbols of that inner transformational work to remind me each time i use/see them.

I'll spare you the inner journey on this one but here is the result. A surprising one, even to me!
A bathmat a la frou frou. Been meaning to make one for awhile now. Well, a bathmat. The frou frou part was the surprising part. Inspired by a recent harvest of vintage sheets and Amanda Blake Soule's A handmade home book that recently visited my bedside table. Instead of Soulemama's towelling stripes i went floral...all the way and created these flowers with centres of vintage buttons. I, er, then went and sewed them on quilting style, but with spirals. It should be noted that i didn't use her instructions, just made it up as i went along. At no point did my tape measure come out. It feels soft and delicious underfoot, is superb at absorbing errant bathwater but has been deemed 'a bit over the top', 'frou frou' and greeted with a bit of er, surprise by some passing through the household.

It will remind me of summer all through the coming winter. Next towel i find in the opshop i'll repurpose into a bathmat slightly less frou frou and more manly retro- see how that goes down.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

a find indeed

Dangerous for the stash working at a retro shop i tell you.

A beautiful deep forest moss green velvet with embroidered fancifulness. A frame no less. What on earth this may have been designed for i do not know. But i am mighty glad it has come to a good home.

Of course i am plotting how exactly to butcher it, and what precisely it might be upcycled into...hmmm. I love the designing dreaming up the project stage- whether it be textile, workshop or article.

The photos my camera took today are as fuzzy as my head feels today. Full of unresolved headcold. I suspect peanut butter may be the culprit for the camera lens.
I have blog posts lined up. Crafting feverishly into the night i have been. And quite possibly paying the price today. I just love that 'in the zone, time drops away and you look up and its ridiculous o'clock' thing...whether it be writing, crafting, campaigning or going at it with a fellow philospher friend.
{Lookee here: my etsy shop is go! - check it out. I'm a total newbie but determined to be a fast learner.
...and now, one of these days, 'promote blog and etsy shop' must come to dwell on the top of the to-do list.}

Thursday, March 4, 2010

vintage ipod covers and my etsy shop (finally)

It was the dadda's birthday not so very long ago. Finances are tight and he was working hard. He wasn't expecting anything special for his birthday and we blew that right out the water and went to town for him. All handcrafted, homebaked and surrounded by friends of course.

I dipped into my vintage fabric scrap box and came up with a few ideas for an i pod cover. One worthy of a muso. I really like the one i came up with. I am partial to any project that involves vintage fabric and vintage buttons. I am of the 'why buy it if you can make it' school of thought. It was drilled into me from a tender age and i hear it echoed in my sons world now too. There is more than enough stuff in the world already. I love the juxtaposition of the ultra modern whimsy of the ipod technology itself nestling into a blast from the past in its vintage fabric.

I honed the design as i went. Subsequent versions are more fitting.

The back features a loop for belt or to attach to your visor in the car.

Et voila, three more vintage i-pod covers. These ones are for sale. There were more, but folks dropping by fell in love with them and they went to good homes.
I will be posting these in my etsy shop tomorrow. Yes! Technophobe here has finally asked for help and my etsy shop now has a banner. Etsy seller name is Growmama....go on...check it out! It has a little of everything, with a little more to come. And now, if i can only wangle some time to promote it....
{oh, and about summer...go Knitting Iris for inspiring us to live in the moment and ride them for all they got! Do go chasing rainbows.}

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

a morning's finds

This is a Jed stash after a brief rummage in a thrift shop. Even when tired he's got thrifting mojo working for him. Those tractors were way up high on a shelf, which, fixated on finding vintage sheets, mama failed to see, but small one here spotted them.

A hat for Henry. Newest most blessed baby in our extended tribe. May it keep you warm in the last blasts of the Virginian winter.

And one for Jed. Or someone. Woollen yumminess with applique cats. I think i may include a section in my online shops just for vintage baby and kids jumpers and jackets, i keep finding gorgeousness and a boy can only wear so much.

One for mama. This is the most amazing book. Dated 1939, in immaculate condition, and worth it's $2 many times over, it is actually very useful. Aside from being fascinating from a historical perspective. It was from before the time of machine buttonholes. Or velcro. Gasp.

An empty fabric roll. The best find yet. It's been a tunnel, a broom, a weedeater, a megaphone, a rollerskate, amongst other things. My personal favourite was the hours we spent firing coins down it and watching them roll fast out the end into various landing bays we built. Then marbles went down. Good clean fun. I'm just wondering how long i have before it starts being a sword or the g word. No TV around here so no modelling of guns, yet. I lived in a war zone thats going to be a hard one for me to get my head around i think.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

summer critter antics

The days are heavy with the sound of cicada's making the most of the summer days. There are hundreds singing out there today. And that's just in our garden.

Little friend piwakawaka here. Or fantail. Native to NZ and just a delight to have around. This one has taken a shine to us and every evening sits on the treefern fronds nearest the window we are near and peeps at us. We could be projecting here but Jed thinks not. Even better, she flitters around eating mosquitos that like the bush around the house. If we go down to the garden she'll follow us down there. It's day five of her visiting. Jed will sit at the window and talk to her for ages. Right at dinner prep time. Blessing.

I have many like this one. This is what happens when i try and photograph her.

Monday, March 1, 2010

summer in a jar

They keep on coming. Caterpillars, vegetable bugs, neighbours and birds are getting their fair share too.

I love the continuity and connectedness i feel when i preserve garden goodness at harvest time. I flash back to making strawberry jam for 100 folks at Twin Oaks Community in the US, to making chutney from my gardens in the French Pyrenees, to walking into my nana's or aunt's house as a child and smelling the tomato sauce brewing every year.