Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Packing for Tucson

So we are off to visit Tucson, once again, for spring break.  Thanks to my benevolent father we have a free place to stay!  This year Jasper is old enough to go horseback riding so that is precisely what we will be doing for his 7th birthday.  He is so excited he is driving me nuts with all the talk about it!  You'd think we were going to the moon the way he carries on.  I guess its fun to be a kid and just travel and be "on vacation" without any worries of getting there, financing the trip, making the meals, cleaning up the condo, etc.  I do look forward to laying about by the pool with my cocktail and magazines, while Jasper frolics and August dips (due to the broken wrist cast), sporting my I-run-so-I-think-I-can-eat-and-drink-whatever-I-damn-well-please-belly fat sloshin' around.  Should feel good to get some sun on the nether regions!  We plan to do the Seven Falls/Bear Canyon Hike in Sabino Canyon, visit Bisbee, Az., and horseback ride at La Posta Quemada Ranch in Colossal Caves Mountain Park.  We love to spend hours at the various locations of Bookmans, browsing the shelves for various media.  And When we aren't swimming at our condo we like to hit the local Pima County Community Center, Northwest YMCA because you can dive in their outdoor pool and, boy howdy, does Jasper ever love to practice his diving!

These are some of the things we do together that we all like.  There is also a ton of good shopping and treasure hunting and gathering to be had in Tucson but the boys don't neccessarily like to be dragged around to do it so we use our communication skills with each othere and I basically lay it out for them.  If mamma gets to do her thing without a lot of complaining and whining, you will get to do your thing.  Otherwise, we just do what mamma wants to do and we may or may not get back to the pool by the end of the day.  It's not a bribe, it's a subtle form of negotiation!  They get it.  And they always find treasure too.  And I buy them stuff on vacation I would never buy at home so they know that too.  Its a win win!  Since we are flying Southwest airlines we each get to take two pieces of luggage, for no extra fees!!  Can you believe it!?  So we will be taking some half empty suitcases with us so we have can stuff them with treasure to bring back!  I think I will wait until I get back to post on all the great shops and places to treasure hunt and even some of the restaurants to eat at there.  You all know how much I love to eat and talk about eatting!

Every time we visit Tucson we go to San Xavier del Bac Mission.  I might even drag the kids to an Easter service there this year because the place is so darn beautiful!  My boys are used to celebrating Spring Equinox so Easter is usually no big thing for us but Jasper is already begging me to take him to eat the Tohono O'odham tacos that are sold out in front of the mission. The Tohono O'odham Nation has presided in the Sonoran Desert forever.  I will post some photos here from last year so you can see how amazing this place is.

Would you die for this door handle?  I would!

What  you see when you walk in.  Love that scallop trim on the pews!

Look at the paint on these walls.  Its amazing!  And this tiny little door?  Where does it go?!

A little corner with candles.

A super cool ancient font.

I finally figured out how to get my Iphone to cooperate for mobile blogging with pictures so I will post some from Tucson.  You might notice though that for the these mobile posts I have not figured out how to title them as I would like so they will all be called somethingorother media blahblahblah.  I will change them as I can, when I can.  Also, I have just started to add favorite blogs or blogs I read a lot of to the list you will see here so check back often to see updates.  And visit the links.  You will like what you find!

On another note: I have done a major overhaul of my atelier/studio/craft room/work/sewing space and will post pictures soon.  I wish I could just have you all over to see it and open shop!  I have slowly been moving stuff from the garage cupboards into my newer space and it has prompted me to consider what I really need to have and what I can let go of.  Is this ever really possible?  Can you ever give up something that seems like it might have a future use in some awesome art/craft piece?  Do I keep what's unique and discard the ordinary?  What if I get rid of the seemingly ordinary and then when I need it I can't find it anywhere?  I tend to hang on, to a lot of stuff, probably way too long, and now I have a ton-o-stuff.  Every corner, crevice and crack is filled to the brim.  Oh, to have the time to put these items to use.....  How do I find the time to collect these items but not enough time to transfer them into their next existence as pieces of an assemblage of some kind?  Oh, whoa is me...  Must.....Make.....Art.....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Broken Wrist

My baby broke his wrist today.

Almost 15 and broke his wrist.  The left one, the one attached to the hand he writes with.  Major bummer.  No art class, no swimming in Tucson, no horseback riding in Tucson, no homework getting caught up on.

How will he Fly Fish?

How will he surf?

Poor fella.  I hope you feel better soon Gus.  Be a good boy and don't break any more bones.  I love you beautiful boy.  xoxox mom

Bees, Spring and the Magic of Smoke

First package of bees.  Three pounds and a queen!

Last Spring I started beekeeping for the first time.  I was so scared and so elated.  I had always wanted to keep bees but was so afraid of them.  It was a love-hate relationship.  I had decided it was time to face some of my fears and for me that means diving head on into whatever it is that freaks me out.  (I did this with surfing too.  So scared but just dove in.  Literally!) 
Bees it was!
I took a great once a week class at my local apiary store, Beez Neez, and when I finished I passed the test and got my apprentice bee keeping certificate from the Washington State Beekeepers Association.  Yippee!  Now all I had to do was buy some gear, and I was good to go.  I opted for buying a package deal from Bees Neez, the beginners' Deluxe, and it included almost every single thing I needed to get started.  I got 2 assembled deep hive boxes with frames, a screened cedar bottom board & cedar garden lid with metal top, plus an inner cover, The book Bee Keeping for Dummies, a top feeder, full suit, leather gloves, hive tool and smoker.  Although I had all the accoutrement of beekeeping I was still very nervous.  How would I be able to deal with thousands of bees and not pass out?

In this picture above I have, oh, probably about three full layers of clothes on.  It was hot and hard to move.  I had convinced myself that I would be safe if I wore many layers.  That way no bee could sting me.  I took no heed of the fact that bees that are ready to bee hived have been feed so much sugar syrup that they were pretty much drunk and sleepy.  When bees are hived they are typically the most gentle you will ever see them.  You dont even need to use smoke to hive bees.  Once their queen is in place they just want to stay right with her and they are too full to be too annoyed with you. 
 As a side note, it is much easier to deal with bees and piss them off less if you go gloveless and can be agile with your fingertips and less clumsy then when you have bulky gloves on.  In these photos I have gloves off and it was killing me.  I was so scared!  And to this day I have not since, ever, opened their hive or deal with them in any way without my long protective leather gloves on.  Still have progress to make!

Here I am about to take the plug out of three pounds of bees and try not to faint.  You wont be able to tell in these pictures but as I got closer to having to take the plug out, and thus potentially let thousands of bees fly around me, my knees began to shake.  And, actually, I dont just mean shake.  It was more like an uncontrolable quiver that made it so I could barely stand.  I was wobbly and completely driven by fear.  I look back now and it seems so silly.  My bees are so gentle.  And especially during hiving, they are so mellow.  I had little to be scared of but was making it a way bigger deal than it needed to be.  Next time I start a hive I will have a hiving party and invite people over to see me do it.  Its fun, instructional, informative and might help someone else be able to start a hive with having to be sweaty, nervous and freaking out inside!
You can see in this picture I have all my feeding jars filled with sugar syrup and ready to go.  In early spring, newly hived bees wont have a strong nectar and pollan source yet so you have to feed them in western Washington until the big leaf maples bloom.  After that most hives are good to go.  You will also notice I have a spary bottle and it to is filled with sugar syrup.  You use it to spray the sides of their shipping package that is all mesh and they drink it up, get full, and calm down so they can be hived with minimal uproar.  I am sure I definately oversparyed my little bees but they were OK in the end.

Oh my gosh!  Here I am with the queen package in my hands.  I have already, at this point, had to open the package of bees to get her out and I am shaking like a leaf.  Chad said later that he had no idea I was that scared and he was a little concerned about me.  He kept asking if I was OK and if I need his help.  I was so determined to do it on my own but boy was I scared.  Here I am trying to get the plug out that holds the queen in so I can let her out inbetween the middle two frames and then very quickly dump the bees on her and all over the tops of the frames.  Since she had been with her bees for many days during shipping and while they waited for me to pick them up, they were used to each others smell and pheromones so I could direct release her.  If she had not been with them long, I would have hung her little cage between the frames and let them chew their way to each other thru the candy plug and that would have given them enough time to accept each other.  Notice the marking I put on the tops of the frames.  Frames go into a hive in a certain way with a certain side facing out from the middle.  So the arrows help me know which way to put them back in as I inspect them later and the date is so I know when I started using each frame for later down the road when I have more hives to keep track of.

The moment of truth!

Here is the hiving of the honey bees!  Really you are just dumping them over their queen as fast as you can after you put the queen in the frames, and trying to shake out every last bee you can.  I was so nervouse that I ended up setting the box down and leaving it over night as the stragglers found their way into the hive entrance.  It took them several mintues to get down in the frames enough so that I could place the hive cover on top and an empty hive box on that to hold the feeder.  One of that last things you do when hiving bees is placing an entrance reducer at the hive entrance so there is very little space for them to leave or predators to get in.  Once they are established they can defend themselves better and aren't as susceptible to cold, wind, rain, mauraders, etc.

Happy little bee butt inside a fox glove flower!

Here I am, later in summer, going to check my bees to see how they are doing.  Notice I have my smoker and hive tool in hand.  And it looks to me like the entrance reducer is still on so this might be the first time I lite up my smoker and check on the bees.  Most experienced beekeepers will tell you to leave your bees alone if they seem alright.  But as a new beekeeper it is good to get in there more often to see what they are doing, and establish what normal is.  You have to know what to look for, what you are looking at, if they are making brood, storing honey, etc.  So I tried to get in them at least every two weeks or so last summer. 
I discovered the magic of the smoke.  I was still really nervous here since I hadn't used the smoker yet and wasn't sure what they would do in reponse to me getting in there and looking around. 
My bees are so sweet and smoke is magic!  Once I began to understand the magic of the smoke, I calmed down so much.  Smoke is your best friend when you are nervouse like me!  The smoke makes my bees leave me alone and start ingesting lots of honey in case they need to flee and leave home.  If they might have to leave because they think their house is on fire, or before they get ready to swarm and not know how long they will be without food, they fill up their bellies in preperation.

Just last weekend I got in my hive for the first time this spring.  I was nervous again but this time it was because I had noticed so many dead bees in the entrance and all around the front of the hive.  What happened?  I had always understood that if they are healthy they will carry their dead away because they are very tidy and clean.  Was there something wrong with them?  Was the queen gone?  Why weren't they cleaning up?!  Perhaps when we had one of those odd warm winter days they had unclustered and come out to venture but then got really cold again and many died.  It is normal for a hive to reduce in numbers for winter but I had never heard of massive bee death like this unless disease was involved. 
But they look good.  In fact, they look great!  I love my bees!  They are so easy and give so much.  At this time of year and all thru summer we will crane our heads each time we come up the driveway to see what they are doing.  We will watch in amazement as they carry pollen in the baskets on their hind legs in every color of the rainbow.  We will enjoy their honey at the end of summer and use it to make elderberry mead and give it as gifts.  With my bees I can leave and go surfing on the coast for a weekend and they wont die.  They dont need me to feed them food and water every day.  They take care of themselves and they are sweet. 
I love my bees!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Portland, Projects, & Moisture Festival in Seattle

Its Sunday.  I have been working on two awesome projects but they both are part of some up coming birthday presents for friends so I cant share them yet.  Can't wait to though since they are fun and easy projects that you can do too. 
Above you can see a photo of an utensil drawer/divider that must used to sit in someones kitchen drawer protecting spoons and forks.  Over time its interior green flocked material lining stuff has faded and come off in places to give it this perfect velvet looking green patina inside of it.  I love it.  As soon as I saw it at Stars Antique Mall near Sellwood I thought it could either hold litle miniature items oe become part of an assemblage piece I am working on.  I literally have tons of this kind of stuff around here.  Waiting its turn to be the next project in process. 
I saw two old cruddy and perfect patina painted red drawers just like these at a sale on Friday but I passed them up.  Sometimes I cant bring myself to buy a good piece because I have so many projects going and cant justify having another thing laying around waiting for attention.  I should have bought the red ones though.  Darn it! 

This amazingly perfect condition lamp shade/ lighted picture thingy is so cool.  Chad found it hanging on the wall in someones space at House of Vintage in Portland, on Hawthorn, and it was only $10.  Yes, I know, can you believe it?!  Maybe you have to see theis in person to see how neat it is.  The picture shows on both sides and its like really thick transperancy film material, but thick, I mean really thick.  And each corner has a very small grommet stuck in it like you are meant to attach it to the front of something lit up, like an advertising sign//board, or to those old vintage light up pictures people woould hang in their living room.  Or maybe its meant to wrap around a lamp shade base or something similar.  We have it leaning in a window right now and it looks cool with the light coming thru.  We intend to find a flatish little slab of wood that we can cut a channel in and wrap the shade into a cylinder shape and fit it in there with a light bulb in the middle.  Another small little project that needs to happen.  It'lll happen, cuz I love this thing!  Nice score Chad!

Above you can see a couple covers of old books I found in Portland.  The bluish book covers on the left I found at Stars Antique Mall and there are two of them, with both sides looking perfectly aged and with great patina, so I have 4 pieces of those when I seperate the backs and fronts.  The one on the right is from Monticello and its back side is great too so I have 2 covers there.  I will use all 6 peices, seperately, in assemblage pieces I have in mind.  Most likely they will end up as the background in a shadow box/ diorama type dealio.  I wish I could get my walls to look like any of these book covers and I would be in heaven.  The age, wear, patina, and mix of colors, texture and depth are what I long for.  I cant stand my flat single color walls but know this is not the house to completely make over with plaster walls and pigments.  Sigh.  Another time and place in my future.

Went to a fabulous and wonderful comedy/variete show at Moisture Festival last night at Hale's Palladium in the Ballard/Freemont area.  What fun!  The Mositure Festival works to keep Comedy, Variete, Burlesque and Vaudeville alive.  We went with freinds and by the time we left we were holding our faces because our cheeks hurt and ached from laughing so much!  It was that fun!  So we are taking the kids next Sunday.  The day time and 7:30pm show are for kids too and the late night 10:30pm show is for adults only.  I already know my kids will LOVE this because it is funny, weird, and odd.  It's right up our alley!  There are clowns, jugglers, acrobats, comediens, musicians, rope acts, aerialists, dancers, fan twirlers, and burlesque in the late shows.  Check out their times and other shows if this at all appeals to you.  I think you will find it entertaining and enjoyable. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Back from PDX (a.k.a. I HEART PORTLAND!)

Whew! What a whirlwind! Two nights in Portland (PDX) is NOT nearly enough to do everything this girl wants to do! Dang! I need at least a week to eat, shop and listen to good music, and still, I bet, I would barely squeeze it all in. PDX has the goods and that's no lie. I happened upon a yard sale and an estate sale and scored, as always at Monticello. Found some sweetness in Sellwood and at Stars on Milwaukie. There is ALWAYS some gorgeous treasure to be had at Randy's Madison Park store on SE 13th where you can find beautiful Edwardian, Victorian and primitive antique furnishings and accessories. Always leave there drooling with a fever! And I was lucky to find an awesome item digging thru all the crap at House of Vintage. Chad even scored a brand new pair of vintage shoes at Magpie vintage clothing on SW 9th that still had the original tag on them as if they were old store stock.

I was so jealous! But I did score many a loot and treasure so I am not too sad!
For now I am just going to post some photos of many of the cool things I found. Later I will write about the food we ate and the music we saw. It was all good and fabulous!  Above you can see three of the four cardboard boxes I found.  These three all came from Monticello.  I love the old graphics on these and they are truly useful.  Usually I use them to wrap gifts in because I believe the presentation of a gift is just as important as the gift itself.  Its the whole experience I am looking for!  My cousin and I have gotten into a wonderful habit of gifting each other with these amazing vintage boxes and it makes gift exchanging all the more spectacular!  I especially love the typewriter paper box becasue of its size.  It is often hard to find vintage boxes, in useful shape and in larger sizes.  Sometimes I find good hat boxes but they are a bear to wrap since they tend to be roundish!  The My Little Library box with the bunny coming out of the watering can is so darn cute and it has the best graphics on the side as well, pictures of every nursery rhyme you can think of, some you can above.

This tiny little wire chair I love because I can upholster it!  Yes, folks!  I want to embellish this little fellow with gorgeous vintage velvet and make it the most inviting chair you ever had laid your eyes on.  Imagine it with a load of beaded olded velvet and maybe even a little weird doll sitting on it and a couture pillow with fringe.  Perfect!

And next, OMG, the most fabulous French ribbon and silk embroidered butterfly appliques I have ever seen.  There is one vendor at Monticello who has tons of vintage french ribbon and material and odd millnery items and whatnot.  Love that vendor!  So hard not to spend every cent there!  Another vendor had these, never before seen, silk embroidered butterfly appliques.  What?!  I mean..... WHAT!!?!!  Have you ever?!  These are TO DIE FOR!  What will I do with them?  Stare and drool and tuck away till gawd knows when....  Just look!  And the butterflies ar on old tissue paper.  Not sure how they are stuck on but they dont seem to be iron ons so ....... Hmmmm......

Well, I had planned to make this a much bigger post but since it has taken me three days to get this far, I think I will publish now and start a new and continuing post later.  Gus gets home from Death Valley National Park tonight.  He has been there 9 days with Community School.  We are all anxious for him to be back but have enjoyed our time with Jasper alone.  Funny how we had Gus alone for 8 years and have yet to enjoy extended amounts of time with just Jasper.  Bitter sweet since it all goes too fast anyhow.  How did August get to be turning 15 years old?  Time flies when you are having fun.....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gnome Houses and Headed to Portland!

I have been wanting to share these pictures and gnome house ideas with y'all for a while now. I still can't find the pictures of the gnomes themselves but will hunt them down and add them later. Also, heading to Portland for the weekend where I intend to listen to wonderful live music, eat amazing food and shop til I drop. Will be staying at my beloved Ace Hotel and hitting all my usual haunts. I intend to make a Portland post next week to fill ya in on all the places I love to visit while there and share my treasures too!
In the meantime, let me give you peek at the gnome houses. I made the first couple of these over a year ago. I made one for Jasper to keep in his room for all his varied gnome folk and I made another another for an auction. I have made them for friends kids for gifts and just made another for August's Wilderness Awareness School auction so they could raise the money they needed to currently be spending 9 days in Death Valley National Park.
Anywho, I hunt and gather, all throughout the year, from tag sales, to estate sales, to rummage sales, Christmas Nativity Sets. The barn/building part is what I use to build my gnome houses and if I can, I leave the figures behind or give them back to a thrift store when I take a load in. The Creche is so useful to attach all my gathered and dried moss and twigs to. Whenever there is a strong wind I just walk around my yard and gather as much moss and lichen covered sticks as I can. I dry them out well and then use a hot glue gun to attach these in every which way to the nativity creche and voila, a gnome house is born. On this last one I used gathered shells and glued them to the tips of sticks to make them into mushrooms. We also used found and bought feathers and one tiny fake bird. The gnomes themselves are hand sewn using wool felt, gold or silver thread, and tiny bells for the tips of their hoods. I use wool stuffing and make them in three sizes so they can be a family. Last time the kids used nuts in the shells to glue together gnomes and added acorn hats and fur collars. So cute! Also on this last one I used a tiny grapevine wreath and placed some beeswax birthday candles around and melted into it and hung it as a chandelier! So darling! My lovely friend Brooke won this one at the auction and she was thrilled.
The kids help a lot with these projects and have great ideas about how to make them magical places. Try making one with your people and let me know how it goes. Have fun!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Breathe Owl Breathe and Smith

Had an amazing Monday night! Who woulda thunk it?! Got to see Breathe Owl Breathe at a house concert in Seattle (bottom two photos) and went to Smith for the first time to try their awesome drinks (photo of beer) and food. The atmosphere at Smith made me feel right at home with all its taxidermy and portrait paintings. Just like being in my own house! If it weren't for B.O.B. playing up the street at 8pm, I could have sat at Smith all night drinking, switching back and forth from Cardinal 75s to Allagash White pints on tap. I know, I know, not supposed to mix grapes and grains, but they are both so yummy! The menue at Smith is certainly gastro-pub fare with so many dishes looking so delicious that it was very hard to choose. Everyone raves about the Smith Burger so I had it this time and will try something different next time. Chad had the Cuban style Pork and Ham Sandwich. We both also wanted the Braised Oxtail, Roasted Lamb, Mac and Cheese with housemade sausage, and Hanger Steak but, alas, dont have stomachs large enough to consume all that in one sitting!
After our fine dining adventure we got to see a band we discovered at Pickathon last summer, Breathe Owl Breathe, at a house concert with about 20 other folks. It was so fun (see happy photo of Chad!), refreshing, and exciting to be up close and personal with such incredible musicians. We are headed to Portland this weekend to catch some more of them when they perform at Live Wires 6th anniversary live radio show and again on Saturday night when they play at The Woods, an old funeral parlor turned into a performance space. Portland deserves many other posts of its own but I just have to say here.... I LOVE Portland!! OK, anyhow, B.O.B. will be at Pickathon again this year along with many other superb bands, including The Fruit Bats, who I have not seen yet but am so excited that I will! Visit the Pickathon website to discover for yourself some new talent and let me know what you like and love. With Pickathon, you can't go wrong! Enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A few pictures

Here are a few photos of some things around the house that I love. The two dolls I found in a tiny town outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I have them dressed in some vintage dresses and old silk I had. The Beaded bird pillow/pin cushion I found in Duvall at a shop and I had to have it right away! The amazing blue velvet vintage box is a gift from my cousin who spoils me rotten with THE COOLEST gifts ever! Its full of treasures as well. The little red wheelbarrow is from a vendor at the antique mall I am in, M & M Antiques in Monroe, WA. and the tiny blue metal bed frame is a gift from my bestie Julie. I love my treasures! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Friend and Food and Lover

OK all you Seattle foodie folk. Lets talk about FOOD. I have been waiting to post on Bastille and Cantinetta until I could figure out how to link to them. Ta Da!! Silly me, so technologically lame, I thought it would be hard. But I think this mighta worked!
OK, so have you been to Bastille or Cantinetta? Must Go Now! No kiddin, no foolin, no messin around, GO!
My dear darling BFF of almost 20 years, Erin, dined with me at Bastille after we hit the Sandpoint Antique and Design Market way back at the end of January. What a lovely market and what a lovely meal. I will have to create another post on the fabulosity of Sandpoint but right now we are talking about food. Bastille is a francophiles heaven in Ballard. We were there for brunch and we enjoyed it for three hours! Erin had crepes, I had duck confit and we both tried their brunch drinks, Rosemary Lemonade and a French 75. Delicious! It was divine.
More recently, Chad and I had a superb meal at Cantinetta last Wednesday night before seeing the amazing Fred Eaglesmith at the Tractor Tavern. You know when you have the experience of several different people, from different areas of your life, all saying you should check something out, and you finally do and its like the perfect fit? Well that's Cantinetta. Had heard about it from folks all around me and wouldn't you know we were going to the city early on a Wednesday night so we could actually get a table and not wait (they don't take reservations)all night. The food was good, down to earth and tasty. We started with antipasti: mussels with garlic, shallots, bay leaf and Bresaola with miner's lettuce, egg, and lemon. The bresaola is a cured beef and it was wonderful and salty just like I like it! Then I had contorni: Creamed Nettles with ricotta salata and we both had primi: Chad had Tagliatelle bolognese and I had Garganelli with lamb, lemon and farm egg. Nice and lemony, just like I like it! It was a great meal, although quick, but you could sit there, especially at the bar, eating antipasti and glugging drinks, for hours. Sounds divine. Think I will make a point to get back there and do just that. Join me!