Sunday, May 28, 2006

in stitches

A few thrifting finds. The pattern gets tossed into the "to do" pile - I'm getting quite a collection of cute little girlie dresses now. A sealed up bag of fabric revealed the three interesting green pieces, intermingled with some questionable polyester (not pictured). The curtains, which I immediately fell in love with, were 1/2 the price on the tag - a whopping $1.75 for two. I couldn't resist...
Two simple seams and an elastic waist later, P. #2 was in heaven (as witnessed by the big toe). A new favorite skirt, and an enthusiastic photo session ensued.

I turned to the next pile of goodies. There was a striped crib sheet foraged from the free box at the laundrymat, which I turned into a sorely needed new ironing board cover. Another flowered sheet, I couldn't resist these colors, and I'm thinking it may become the back of my first quilt! And the towel? Ah, from the dollar store, isn't it the cutest?

As soon as I saw that towel, I knew I had the makings of an apron. I cannot tell you how long I've been longing to make an apron, but it's been a long, loooong time.... every time I go to the garden and pick something without a basket, or feed the chickens and have more eggs than my hands can handle.

The pattern for this comes from a book entitled MaryJane's Ideabook / Cookbook / Lifebook, and I highly recommend it to anyone who embraces the farmgirl aesthetic. It's marvelous!

My perfect apron has a nice big pocket (made from the towel) for hand wiping stitched to some thrifted red striped ticking. The book calls it the Harvest Apron and indeed, it's handy for stashing anything you might pick up around the yard (or the house, when tidying.) The top of the towel is incorporated into the waistband and therefore made for some challenging sewing, thickness - wise; the original pattern calls for calico or the like. The pocket is stitched firm across the bottom, then halfway up each side. Clever!

Check out MaryJane's website here. She has a fun forum you can join as well.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

peas and beets

I finished weeding the garden today, and pulled out the last of the winter crops. This included a couple of handfuls of forgotten beets, ruby red leaves amongst the stickers; and enough peas to have for dinner, plump and lovely.

Horsie Girl and I made lemon curd. First, combine 5 farm fresh eggs with 1 1/4 cups of lemon juice (meyers from the farmer's market), 1/4 cup zest, 1 3/4 cups sugar.
Now add 2 1/2 sticks of butter, and cook very slowly over hot water for about 50 minutes, or until thick.
Now strain through a sieve, and stir until cool. Keep in the fridge for up to a week. Eat slathered on toast, cake, scones, biscuits and/or off the back of the spoon. For real lemon lovers only. Try it layered on a tart shell with whipped cream and berries. Great with tea.

I think I mentioned in my last post that some knitting was happening. I started a poncho for my friend Jen. She in turn was to donate to my Team in Training event. Her's is coming up in just a couple of weeks. She will be running the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon, the same one I did last year.

She picked out this yarn for the soft hand and soothing colors. It's a little squeaky for my taste, but knits up incredibly soft and light, good for cool summer nights on the beach.

Tomorrow, some thrifting finds, and some sewing revolutions! Now back to that curd...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

gimme five

A rainy day random five.

***I notice, as I read through several (million) blogs out there, a dearth of, well... reality. Is it the nature of craft bloggers (especially the "popular" ones, you know who they are) to just kind of skip over the sticky bits of life? I wonder about what is really going on sometimes...maybe we blog to create a world we most desire, or as an escape, or (in my case) as a way to re - invent ourselves as we would prefer others to see us. Is everyone really so skinny, happy, satisfied, creative and fulfilled? In any case, there's a lot missing about messy relationships, addictions, resentments and other darkness. I think the silence is deafening.

***My most noticeable symptoms of PMS include tearing up at the slightest surge of feelings (good or bad), craving salt, finding no pants that fit, an irresistable urge to lie down, and picking fights with dh.

***Even though I really like being a mom, basically, there are times when I fantasize what it would have been like if I had chosen a different path. What if I had gone to FIDM that last year instead of getting my credential? Not let that boy follow me home that night? Said no when I really meant it but didn't? Followed my heart earlier? Note to self: follow. your. heart.

***Horses are really nothing like dogs. Dogs worship you and can thrive on neglect; they'll just adore you more when you remember about them. Horses have no particular opinion about you unless you are feeding them, but if neglected, they never forget. Although he can hold a grudge until he dies, horse's brain is the size of a walnut. Some people are like that too.

***I crave clarity in my life, but I'm having a hard time getting started. Should it be diet? Meditation? Long, tedious knitting sessions? (Oh yeah, I did start another poncho yesterday.) Journaling? Writing my dreams down? I strive to stay in today.

Thought for the day: Every moment is an opportunity to love.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Just two short months ago, this is what my garden looked like. My poor daffodils never had a chance. They would start to bloom, then it would snow (or rain like heck) and they would struggle soggily and droop to the ground. I felt sad about all the work I had done in the fall to create a faerie ring of bulbs, all to watch it drown.

My Virgin of Guadelupe rose survived valiantly, even budding in the midst of snow, just as she did for Juan Diego. And today...

There's nothing fancy here, just some calendula, shasta daisies (in the back), pink hollyhock and roses. It's prettier when everything is blooming, but I love the contrasts between these photos. It took me three days to clear the area of weeds and start plotting my next steps.
Here we are at the gate. It is constructed from various salvage, but isn't quite as cute as the ones we see in Country Living somehow, is it? But it does keep the dogs out (much to their chagrin) The Garden is the only dog - free area in our world, which makes the six cats extremely happy. They have water and sunny spots to lounge, and the occasional vole to boot.

I also worked on our deck to create a little outdoor living room.
I dragged a few things out of the garage basement, and after a lot of heavy lifting (pots) and rigerous dusting (furniture), I succeeded in extending the curfew on Use What You Have. Whaddya know? We're spending more time outside now. In front of this is a little slice of a play area (I'd love some lawn there, but it's pretty much weeds) and you can see the teepee, sand tub and jungle gym reflected in the window.
This corner has been totally transformed with a $20 garage sale white metal patio set. Tres Shabby Chic, no? And when we get Real Deck Furniture, it will be darling in the garden. Move over a pot of lavendar and a couple of rose bushes, add a geranium or two, and voila! My perfect place for tea, or, whatever. Dh, however, has to sit on the deck, because he dissed me for spending the $20 when I was basically broke. Sucks for him!

Now on to some crafting!
Here's the biggie bag I whipped up for the Sew? I Knit! along. Thank Goddess they extended the deadline for this one or it never would have happened. As most of my projects seem to go, this one was simple and easy once I stopped cleaning long enough to get it finished.
And we love the inside too! I interpreted this pattern from a Japanese craft book...after staring at it for about half an hour I finally though, what the heck? and kind of just eyeballed the whole thing. Read more about it at the site.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Thrifted bee skep fabric on the left. Four yards of 60" flowy cotton - linen blend, perfect for a summer dress.

And the pattern: McCall's 5422, 25 cents. I'm thinking view A (the girl with the hat) - highish waist, scoop neck, four vintage buttons and a nice full skirt with deep side pockets.

And if I have enough left over, this fabric will make perfect Farmer's Market bag, complete with their own little drawstring pouch.

I imagine people stopping me, as I peruse the piles of colorful fare, and asking where I got the clever bag. Smiling I will hand them my card.

I decided against the June 3rd craft fair. But I'm keeping my eyes open for the next opportunity. Rather than putting the cart before the horse however, I need to discipline myself towards production. So much time seems to be sucked away at trivial pursuits, not the least of which is the internet...without it, I would feel isolated. But time sure can get away, eh? (Oh, just one more blog....)

Random favorites today:

* Pulling on a sweater and rubber boots with my cotton nightgown and taking Fanny out her breakfast early in the morning.

* Seeing progress in the garden. Large swaths of soil are finally starting to appear, ready for seeding. Convincing myself that I ALWAYS get a late start with the vegetables, but it all catches up later - nobody's tomatoes ripen any faster when they plant in April.

* Having Red Rose tea instead of coffee first thing. Tastes cleaner, and I can drink more without having my shoulders up to my ears as I type.

* Letting the four big hens out to forage, and getting twice as many eggs because they are so elated. Finding a big green egg nestled in Fanny's straw stack.

* Shopping my closet. Making the switch (finally!) from winter to summer clothes, and throwing out two thirds of the too-tight, no-longer-me options. Deciding to wear mostly skirts for the next few months, even at home. Feeling chic as I scoop manure.

* Getting my riff rescended. I have my job back next year! Considering the delicious options of a brand new school year, and having a whole wonderful summer to dream about it. So much potential.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

pack - o - fun

A recent thrifty score. I actually paid half the original 1958 price for this great book. Looking for a potential swap??? I need fabric and trims more than I need books. But somehow, I can't stop buying them...
Here's a couple more. The one on the left is just wonderful. All the classic quilt patterns, plus directions, and stories about how each one got its name. Lots of tips on technique, and the writing is so enjoyable. There are no color pictures, which I find helpful because I hate having too clear of an image in my mind when I set out to create. (I have only made one quilt in my life...I suppose I should dig it out and post a picture sometime.) I am very inspired by the quilts I see posted everywhere, and after I finish the other 215 things I want to do I might start on one.

The Fairytale book is pure fluff - the stories vary from classic to lame, but oh! The pictures are great. Real 1960's coloriffic images. I'd be interested in swapping this one too maybe. Any paper crafters out there looking for cutups would be way into it.

And, as I promised in my last post, hold your breath! Knitting.
Here we have the Seaman's Cap from 2005's 365 Days of Knitting. This is Greg's long awaited Honoree present, knit up in a toasty wool blend for his bald head, just in time for....summer. Well, folks, I sew faster than I knit, that's for sure. Right now I have many sewing projects waiting patiently by, and I'm not feeling inspired to knit now that the weather is so lovely.

Yesterday I stumbled upon a CRAFT FAIR VENDORS WANTED sign at my local boostore. No resale license needed, only $25 for the booth ($20 more for tent rental) AND it's a kid festival - the perfect place to sell softies, little girl dresses, and bags. The catch: it's June 3rd, and I have nothing sewn. Zero. Nada. Zip. Unrealistic, you say? Ridiculous?

Hmmm, I'm thinking. Well, if anyone out there has ideas, wants to swap, or wants to share a booth in Santa Cruz on June 3rd (only 2 more left!), please comment below.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

road trip

This weekend was the Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon in Humboldt, California. The first leg was a four hour ride to my sister's house in Chico to drop off Princesses 1 and 2. P. #2 assumed her best car riding position about 30 minutes in. (Notice the candy sedation piled up on her chest.) I was grateful to be in warm weather again. My sister the PhD is a wonderful warm person who loves, loves LOVES little kids. It was so great to see her again. Her dh came home with huge bunches of her favorite flowers, sweet peas. We all just reveled in them.

Friday night we went out for fish tacos for Cinco de Mayo. After that we walked around the little college town. At 8 pm it was still warm as toast outside. Just the right weather for this.
A very very delicious ice cream sandwich. Of course there were other options...
The perfect end to our day. And the next morning, it was On The Road Again....another four hours to the coast.

It was 5 North, then Hwy 20 East for about 72 miles. 20 is a remarkably pretty highway, as they go. I saw lots of beautiful farmland, acres and acres of untouched green hills dotted with cattle, horses, big old barns, and then I spotted HIM:
What a cute guy! There was construction on the highway and as traffic piled up, he got curiouser and curiouser....then couldn't help coming over for a closer look. Note to self: I need a llama. What's not to love!? Unfortunately I think it may be too late for Mother's Day, but hey, a girl can dream.

From 20 east I picked up 101 North. Now things got REALLY interesting. Take this dude for example:
Rolling green hills gave way to dense forest. Such fabulous attractions popped up: The One Log House, the Tree House, the Grandfather Tree, the Drive Through House...all designed to make money off of the natural wonder that are Redwoods. 800 year old trees are common here, as big around as my car but 100 times more beautiful. Burls, carvings, whirligigs and souvenirs abounded. I resisted but did enjoy communing with my old favorite myth (above). I think he's a keeper!

And Sunday morning, the Big Event. We gathered at 7 am for the 9:00 start. This particular race was more low tech than most, despite being a Boston Marathon Qualifyer (no, not me, but it's nice of you to ask.) They postponed the start for ten minutes because they were worried not everyone was there! It was sweet.

All psyched up and ready to roll (right). The course was amazing. Cool and shady the entire way, passing enormous trees, thick with moss and tiny yellow redwood sorrel flowers. As the canopy here is still intact, the forest floor is clear of the dense prickly shrub and poison oak that chokes much of our land at home.

I ran and ran and ran...13.1 miles to be exact. 3 hours, 1 minute and 33 seconds later I was done. I raised $2200.00 for Leukemia and Lymphoma research, stayed fit and made lifelong friends. All in all, a season well done.

And a message for all of you; you know who you are.
And soon, I PROMISE....something about knitting or crafting. Which I will have to do at night since the weather is just too gorgeous to stay inside.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

self portrait

Hi. My name is Aurora. Actually that's not my real name, it's my Cybername. Also my Majickal name.
This blog started out to be about my spinning and knitting adventures, and has morphed into so much more. Now I'm entering the realm of Self Portraiters.
I blog for myself, it's another way to be creative. It is a link to others as well, and feels right.
I spend my weekdays teaching first grade at a public school two days a week. When I first started teaching I loved it so much. I still love the kids, but I don't love the system. I am currently trying to figure out another way to do what I love and support my kids. I am interested in learning more about alternatives to "regular" education. Much to my delight many of my favorite bloggers are either homeschooling or "unschooling" their kids. I am fascinated by the Waldorf principal as well. The other days are spent at home with my three year old. We craft and cook and play together. I wish we had more neighbors to play with....we live high up in the mountains, in the middle of a State Park, and it is beautiful, but remote. We are not connected to electric or phone lines. We run on solar energy and are working towards a sustainable environment.

I live with one husband, one preschooler, three dogs, six cats, two rats, eight hens and a horse. Two weeks a month my twelve yr old dd is here, and every other weekend my fifteen yr old dd makes an appearance.

My favorite pastimes are magazine reading, making collages (my excuse for the magazines, ahem), sewing, knitting, spinning and crafts, playing piano, cooking, thrift store and garage sale shopping, riding my horse, and occasionally running.

The worst job I ever had was my first - at a copy shop. I was fired for running off a set of important papers, all wrong. I threw it into the recycle bin and was caught. I went home crying, but did not confess to anyone that the mistake was really mine.

I want to do self portraits as an experiment to find out if I am interesting. At this age one starts to yearn for "reinvention".... I feel the need to turn a corner, make a shift, wipe the slate, pick up a brush .... introspection is the first step for me.
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