Sunday, November 16, 2014

Darn Good Gumbo & We Had a Great Time

It was chilly, and we walked everywhere.
With eyes peeled for beads, I found a few primitive bead strings too.

 I scored lots of interesting focals ... some of them vintage

I also found some great clasps for some multi-strand bracelets, and charms.....

Did I say it was cold?  One might think that Asheville, NC would be a good place to find warmer clothing bits and pieces.  I wanted to find some comfy sweater leggings to go with my new boots, but all I saw were synthetic yukkies.  There seem to be quite a few to select from online, so I will keep fingers crossed. 
(Yes, I am a fiber snob)
We had lunch the first day at Mayfel's  a New Orleans style bistro, and I had the BEST gumbo.  I have to make some now that I am back home.  There is a gumbo recipe that I found in my Grandmother's circa 1900 cookbook that I like a lot, but the DH won't eat okra.  Even though there is not a hint of goo, he has a mental thing about it.  It's darn good gumbo though!  I make mine with chicken and ham (or not), and Mayfel's cooked it up with Anduille sausage in it.  ...They also had beignets.  Oh yeah!  They are a New Orleans delicacy that are very like crispy fried doughnuts, served hot and sprinkled with powdered sugar.   I can't begin to tell you how decadent they are on a cold day with a cuppa hot chicory coffee.  Mayfel's didn't have the chicory coffee, but they did have darn good coffee just the same.

We had a few meals from Katuah, a natural food store's salad table.  Good stuff.  We got some smoked chicken thighs that were so good that the DH is thinking to re-create them here.  Our last day out, we walked around Black Mountain and mid-way through the afternoon we stopped in our fav restaurant and shared a devilishly fudg-i-licious giant slice of chocolate cake and hot tea.  What a warm up that was.
We usually wear ourselves out with walking and sensory overload, and we like to be back at the hotel by late afternoon.  I usually take a portable project.  Remember the BedSack Frock?   It had been stashed away for over a year waiting for the next inspiration.  It has been on my mind ever since I returned from Pennsylvania in September.   I had taken it along and got artsy there with leaves.  I painted fallen oak leaves with fabric paints and pressed them to the fabric.  At the time, I wasn't exactly happy with the result.  Fall colors are not really my piece of cake, and the colors seemed heavy on the muslin canvas.  The next step might have been patching over those leaves.

However, the idea of embroidered water struck days before we left, and so I went armed with blue floss and a trusty needle, and got a lot of embroidery done on the BedSack.  I was stitching the creek.  I like how it's going.  It reminds me of Gustav Klimt with its curls and spirals.  ...Not too much though, cuz its not a raging torrent.  ...Kind of fun to just do whatever with long running stitches and patches of French knots.  The darker blue seems to balance and hold the leaves now, so the plan is to keep them.

One thing I found interesting as we munched on cake and looked out the window of our restaurant, watching the passers by, was that several were carrying newly purchased snow shovels and coasters.  It was beautiful and sunny in the 50's and 60's.  Weather was moving in this week!  It will be below freezing here too.  We have already had snow which is unheard of, and it may be a strange winter.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's On!

After several months, it appears that the plans for a dedicated jewelry studio is once again on.  When my mother passed, I had planned to paint her room.  It was our dining room, and first floor was a priority for her well-being.  Painted several years back, it was a glorious deep red.  I thought it was always quite exciting for a dining space, and it was all the rage at the time.  However, I had regrets so many times that we had not had the time to re-paint before we moved her into that space, and there was nowhere else to put her if we wanted to paint while she was with us.  Now, as I look at those walls, I remember the regret, and don't feel the same about it as I initially did.  So, re-painting was certainly part of the plan.  However, my sons and their families are all in agreement that they really like the dining space at the end of the living room.  It's now a "great room" even if it is a bit on the small side.  It helps to compensate for those dinner occasions when the family gathers and overflows from the table into the furniture.  So, we have decided to keep the arrangement and make use of the dining room for something else.  ...Lucky for me!  I had offered it to the DH as a "man cave," but he thinks I need it more than he does. ...(He's so intelligent!) 

Once again, the dreams awaken and planning is beginning to take shape.  The room has one window but is relatively dark.  Lightening the walls will help a lot, and improved lighting is essential.  As much as I love the warm rosy tones of the walls at the right, and even though it would be the quickest and easiest fix for the space, I am leaning toward the quieter mossy/beigy neutrals of the wabi-sabi walls now.  Because this space is open to the first floor of the house, I want it to have a better flow.

 My walls will be more creamy and have less drawing. 

I will do something a little different below the wainscot molding.  ...Not so dark, but having that distressed look, and I definitely think that some metallic gold touches are in order.  The photo to the right has a smudgy indication of gold stenciling above the doorways and along the ceiling molding.  I even have matchstick blinds on hand for a continuing effect.

Without a closet in the room, I will be using a large lowboy dresser for storage.  I may or may not paint the old teak wood dresser.  I hand rubbed it with tung oil decades ago, but the top was damaged with water marks when paper cups holding water were left there.  Now they are just reminders of the dementia that led to their presence.  I am into erasing those reminders now.

I am ready to move bravely onward.....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Art of Upcycle

The Treehouse at Creekview Country Cottage Bed & Breakfast
Have you ever had the urge to re-create yourself?  Maybe it was after a relationship breakup or a pregnancy came to an end, or you lost a bunch of weight?  Well, I have been feeling the urge since returning from Pennsylvania.  My sister and I stayed at the Creekview Cottage Bed & Breakfast during our two weeks there.  It was perfect in every sense ...a private little pocket deep in the woods and mountains and was exactly what I had been dreaming of during the long care-taking ordeal.  Our hostess, Andrea, is now a dear friend to us.  She is an indomitable force wrapped up in a petite lady who has a passion for living.  The three is  us are "senior-ish" but Andrea has so much vitality and spunk that it would be hard for anyone to accurately guess her age.  I was impressed with her fashionable yet practical attire.  She carried off her favorite magentas and pinks and studded sparkly skinny jeans with ease.  My sister has always been a fashion statement, even in her understated way with black and white and gray.  ...And there I was with my old straight-leg stretchy Lee's and plain long sleeve T's, with my decades old Eagle Outfitters boots.  One of my sneakers blew a sole after a few days, and my comfy old jeans had a blowout too.

I didn't realize how out-of-step I had gotten until I saw some photos from the trip.   OMG, I was the granny in the photos!  I couldn't believe my eyes!  For someone who had sewn prolifically, I was always a step ahead of fashion.  For 14 years I was a dressmaker for a European pattern company, and I got the patterns at least a year before they influenced the United States fashion scene.  However, for the past 6 years, I had not really been able to just go shopping.  Getting out of the house was a challenge, and because of that, I made due with what I had.  Meanwhile, everything was getting shabbier and as garments were cast off, they were rarely replaced with something really happening.  When I did get out, I grabbed anything simple that fit and hurried back home.  ...Eventually, I would have been a fashion zilch.  ...Now I have to stop you all right here, as I am not inclined to follow every fad and fancy.  I go for style, and my style was looking like granny's closet.

Well, this calls for a huge makeover.  One of the first things I have done is to look at shoes.  Although I still have not replaced the sneakers, I did purchase some drop-dead gorgeous boots I have been lusting after for the past year:

The BedStu Manchester boot!  I adore them!  They are stylish and yet very simple.  My head is filled with ideas for boot fringes

 and knit boot toppers

...and bracelets and to make.

As I was going through the closet, I came across a favorite magenta knit Henley.  The back of the neckline had separated from the binding and I was ready to toss it when I thought of a Free People favorite that has a patchwork look.  I spent the past few days altering the top and now I have a new/old Henley to wear that is very fashionable.  ...There may be no end to this!

Free People's Kyoto cuff top that inspired me

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Little Someth'n-Someth'n

Everything is different now  ...Better, but still feeling strange not to have my mother here with us.  ...Just taking things easy and trying to get caught up with life and that never seems to be the case for me.  There is always so much that I want to do and need to do.

Making and being creative has been taking a back seat lately, but I do have a beaded wrap bracelet to share.  I had started beading while my mother was fading away from us, and finally completed it just a week ago.  I am quite taken with this boho thing on my wrist. 

The inspiration came when I had to shorten a new pair of jeans.  As the old hem came off, I just knew it would be fun to upcycle into a bead/fiber sort of wrap bracelet.  I sewed over the double rows of stitching and then trimmed close to the stitching so that the edges would fray.  I sewed the beading down and added crochet cord wraps to transition and hide joins, and finished the ends with crimp beads and covers.  Eyelets were added and made perfect places to add in dangling baubles.  Its finished with a toggle clasp.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall, and Everything Changes

Abandoned.  I know it has been some time since my last post.  So much has been in chaos here.  After many long months in slow decline, my mother let go of this life and passed on to the next, on August 30th.  She let go peacefully and in the serenity that has followed, I am in infinite Peace.  This is a wonderful gift.  And as the leaves fall off the trees, I feel the bareness left behind ...a vacuum that needs to be filled.  I feel an urgency to fill up the bare spaces that have been left in my life, and yet, at the same time, I want to luxuriate in the gentleness of the calm place.  Within it there is a harmonious softness that I have not experienced in a very long time.  In spite of life trying to press in on and pierce my little bubble of calm and balance, I am holding on and allowing it to create an indelible imprint on my spirit.

A dream I have been holding onto ever since the madness of Alzheimer's came into our lives 6 years ago, was to spend about two weeks up in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  It is a place hidden away from everything.  I have always found it to be a place of regeneration and healing, as well as inspiration.  The Great Creator smiled on me, and my mother passed over just days before I was scheduled to make a shorter trip there on family business.  Changing arrangements, I was able to spend those two weeks there, and along with my sister, we were able to lay my mother and father to rest together.  For many years they had talked about being scattered on the family property, and that is what we did.

My sister had an idea to create a place that would be totally natural and would have a little permanence to it.  The perfect spot was an ancient apple tree over 100 years old that was almost completely hollow at it's base and yet bears fruit abundantly.  It has fed many generations of deer and given a thrill of enjoyment to generations of relatives who have spent hours on a porch swing of a cabin on the other side of the field (looking for deer).  We carried stones up from the creek, and Melanie went to work.  I mostly stayed out of her way.  ...Who am I to interfere with creative genius?  After a few hours, she had created this lovely little rock garden where ashes were laid to rest.  We placed apples all around.  The following day we returned and all the apples had been eaten.  The deer had been to pay their respect.  A garter snake had taken up residence along with a millipede. 

You are the stones, you are the trees, you are the fireflies, you are the breeze. You did not die, you did not leave, your spirit thrives, I need not grieve. ―Melanie Renn

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Feel Like the 60's

Beading and macrame were passions in the 60's and 70's.  I even got the hubby of the moment to get
into the macrame and he helped with larger projects.  I remember hanging rope from a patio arbor to make plant hangers and wall hangings.  I was doing the free-range thing way back then with combining various cords and yarns for texture.  I did many little projects with crochet cord for jewelry as in the bracelet to the right.  It's all that remain of those days.  We didn't have much money, and hippy crafts were cheap.  I loved beads, but hated rat tail cord that always broke during wear and left me scrambling up beads from their scattered landing spots.  I gave it all up until I was a Cub Scout den mommie and my cubbies did some beaded key "chains" to satisfy the Indian badge. It was a brief resurgance and then years later, I had a wonderful Union Bay denim man shirt that I wore the poo out of.  At some point, I got out a shoe box and did some bead work for the shoulder seams.  About 2 years ago I upcycled that shredded shirt into small shoulder bags.  I tried to sell them on Etsy, but Etsy has never been golden for me.

gorgeous wrap bracelet found on Pinterest

This week has seen me returning to beading.  I am drooling over a gorgeous wrap bracelet I found through Pinterest and tangent searches.  After pinning it, it has been climbing in popularity, and I have wanted to make my own version.  The hammer and torch-ering metal is on hold for a while as my right side is sore from neck muscles down to the right hand fingertips due to what I jokingly refer to as "man-handling" (lifting and moving) during care-giving activities. Repetitive stress injury can be devastating and I want my body to heal and take it easy while this level of care continues.  I have moved the bed position so that I am using my left side more, and trying to be more mindful as I lift and move her in the bed.  Now that she has been bed-ridden for nine months, I am simply forced to take better care of myself.

So, this is my little project.  ...Just getting started, and I plan to add some leather and wrapped cord too.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Studio Setback

I am so bummed.  The de-cluttering I have been doing has gone well, carrying out at least one bag of trash daily is so great, and I do still have a way to go with organizing the rest of the "stuff."  However, as floor space and table tops began to clear, my mind was racing ahead to how best to move the table near the window and how to arrange the rest of the furniture.  I realized that my plan to remove the computer and all the related paraphernalia to another room was impossible because that room has no space available.  It also hit me that all the furniture would have to hug the walls and would be lined up close together circling the room.  Such a major frustration!

So, wallowing in a pity party and confusion, I missed the deadline I set for myself which was July 31st.   So, my option is to leave the table as it is (and hope for the Dream Plan to evolve in the near future after a great deal of work and planning of other spaces).  The cons are that I sacrifice the natural light, the view, and having a wall at the back of the table, and a lessening of work space since the table butts up against the computer desk at a right angle.  I am also concerned about over-lapping work spaces.  Paperwork done at the computer will certainly overflow to any adjoining space.  I challenging issue is that I was going to hang my Dremel flex shaft from a towel bar on the wall.  Positioned as the table is now, that is not possible and I have been wracking my brain for solutions.  Obviously, from this amusing sketch by The Dremel Amateur I am not the only one trying to figure it all out.  ...Don't worry, I will never go this route.  Backpacking a tool like that would have my hair so tangled you wuold have to hold me down and shave my head to get me free.

My new Dream Plan will have to be a long-range goal.  I'll keep posting as I figure it out.  In the meanwhile, I think I will get another cup of spicy coffee to help clear my muddled brain and then settle in for yet another day of clearing and figuring out how to get set up.