Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Anniversary Chad!

Someday, many years from now, we'll look back on this crazy time in our life together and wonder how we did it all... and then, those ordinary, everyday moments that we often take for granted will shimmer like stars as we recount them...  I'll sit close beside you, you'll take my hand in yours.  We'll look at each other and say: "I'd do it all again... and I wouldn't change a thing."
There is no one I would rather go through life with than you.

I love you to the universe and back,

Friday, October 29, 2010

El Dia de los Muertos

We are getting ready to celebrate our loved ones who have passed and welcome the souls of our dead.
We are not afraid of the spirits of the dead.
At this time of year the veil between the worlds is very thin.
 The dead are our friends and family, our ancestors, who gave us life.
We call them our "beloved dead."

This is a photo of Bob, Chad's dad, holding August when Gus was a couple days old.  This photo is always on our Day of the Dead alter.  We miss you Papa Bob!

Here are the skeleton figures I made, about ten years ago, of my Grandma and Grandpa Nielsen.  We have photos all over the alter of them too.

We try to collect one figure each year, to add to our alter.  We try to find ones that represent us or our deceased. Kirsten gave me the pregnant woman with the heart on her belly, when I was pregnant with Jasper and I bought us the man and woman pushing baby in a pram when I was pregnant with him. 
Birth and death are two sides of the same thing.  Death is a natural part of life.  Death is a gift of change and growth.  Birth and death are both times of new beginnings.

I made this melon-holding skeleton figure many years ago.  I fancy it to be myself.  I hope to have melon wherever I go!

Hunters, healers and helpers.  These remind us that our lives are gifts given to us by other living beings.  Because all food is a gift of a life, it is sacred.  We treat food with respect and leave offerings, ofrendas, of our deceased's favorites on the alter during this time.

Masculine energy. 

Feminine energy!

These are our sugar skulls from last year.  For the past few years I have been taking the kids to the big Dia de Muertos celebration at Seattle Center, where we made these.  They have great art activities, food, dancing, face painting, etc.  This years Mexican rememberance to remember our departed will be held Oct. 30 and 31.  Get there if you can!  It's free and fantastic!
This nun Catrina and her sister witch(below) were purchased in Nogales when my dad took me there during my first visit to his condo in Tucson.  We crossed the border to buy booze, smokes, trinkets and to feast at La Roca.  I scored on these tall, delicate ceramic figures and carried them all the way home to Seattle in my arms!
It's hard to see but she has an owl sitting on her shoulder.  The paper marigold flower she is holding is one that we made last year at the Seattle Center celebration.  And the pumpkin at her feet is one I needle felted a couple years ago.

Celebrating the Day of the Dead is a joyous occassion, not morbid.  We have a feast on All Souls Day, Nov. 2, and we tell stories of our beloved dead.  We laugh and we cry when we recount the good things we miss about the people we loved.  It's good for my kids to hear the stories and see us honoring our elders who have gone ahead and remembering the young ones who went too soon. 

We have many pictures of my cousin Michael who died in a head on collision car accident in 2003.  He was a radiant young man, full of life,happy and charismatic.  He loved to ride motorcross and he was good at it.  We miss him.
We have many photos of Chad's dad, Papa Bob, who left this world in 2000.  It took me a while too not be angry at him for leaving us but now I am able to celebrate him and tell my children about what a eccentric, crazy, pagan lovin, hippie he was!  We actually still see him, quite often, in the flight of an eagle, when the warm sun kisses our cheeks, in the babbling of a river.  We still miss him though.
We have many photos of my grandparents.  Both Gma and Gpa Nielsen, my dad's parents, and Gpa McAlpin, my mom's dad.  My kids like to hear stories I recount to them of growing up surrounded by my loving grandparents.  I spent time every month with my dad's folks and it's one reason I am no longer sad my parents were divorced.  If they hadn't been, I would not have spent a weekend every month with my dad, at my grandparents.  I cherish that time I had with them.  And my Gpa McAlpin always let me pick out horses for him to bet on at Long Acres.  My kids think this is so funny!
And we honor all our greats, and great greats, etc.  Our grandparents parents, and so on.  We put out all the photos we have and talk about how it might have been for them.  We wonder and we speculate.  We laugh with a bit of awe and feel blessed for what we have.  We love one another and remind each other that we have it so so good.  We celebrate and rejoice.  Life is good and we honor our beloved dead.  Rest in Peace, loved ones,


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Walrus and The Carpenter

Postcard from The Walrus and The Carpenter, Ballard.

You know how when a new idea or suggestion comes at you from three or more different angles and you have to realize that is a thing that must be attended to or must happen?  That was this restaurant for me.  Serendipity has a fun way of getting you to where you need to be!  I had read a review of this restaurant, had also been told by lovely Daisy to check it out, and  a waitress at Boat Street Cafe had told Dianah and I about it when we had our Tuesday champagne brunch there last week, and boy-howdy!, how glad I am for listening ears and reading eyes because this was a dang good meal!

OK, this will tell you something about me.  I didn't end up getting any photos of our food, but I did, of course, get a photo of my drink!  The Porch Swing!  So. darn. good. Big, tall, cold and refreshing, the thinly sliced tart apple slices were delicious in the end. It's making my mouth water just to think of it!

The cozy Walrus is lovely and just right.  We had an amazing hostess and our waiter was very well educated about the oysters and food. Oh yeah!  This is an oyster bar/restaurant! 
Since walrus doesn't take reservations we were trying to get there as close to opening as possible, to not have to wait forever.  We got there right after they opened at 4 but our friends weren't meeting us until 5:30.  We asked the hostess if she could put us on the list and she said she would if we called back, instead of showing up to wait, at 5:15.  So we took off to go thrift the Goodwill and instead of calling, just got back there about 5:15 on a Saturday evening.  Well, it was packed, and there was a wait list, and a line.  But the generous hostess knew we needed a 4 top and she gave us the next one that came available after a 5 minute wait, and even though our friends weren't there yet!  I thought it was so fabulous and and sweet of her!  It gave us time to sit with our backs against the wall and really check the place out.  It was bustling, loud and cheery.  Just perfect!

Here is a hard to see photo of the menu.  Between Chad, Tony, Daisy and I we devoured a dozen oysters and bread and butter.  T had smoked trout, lentils, walnuts, creme fraiche and pickled red onions.  D had grilled pork sausage, caramelized brussel sprouts and aioli.  C had serrano jamon, pear, and pistachio & mint relish.  I had the framani salami, pearl onions and pickled chantrelles.  Oh, and Chad and Tony both had a bowl of billy's tomato soup with basil and cream.  Chad is still talking about the soup!  Everyone thought their food was delicious.  I especially loved the pickled chantrelles and Chad's pistachio and mint relish.  Yum!
Here is a list of the oysters we tried.  I could have sat there for a very, very long time, eating oysters and having drinks.  I actually cant wait to go back, just to do this very thing!  The Shig oysters were my favorite.  Meaty and briny but sweet too.  The tumbled shells of the Shig oyster were like no other oysters shells I had seen around these parts.  They were smooth and didn't have bumpy barnacles on them.  The oysters are served with champagne mignonette, horseradish and lemon but I didn't use any of that.  Normally I would have squeezed a ton of lemon juice on but I wanted to taste the real deal, unaltered.  And I am glad I did.  The oysters didn't need a thing!  So. Good.

The Walrus and The Carpenter was started by Renee Erickson, of Boat Street Cafe fame, and her partners.  Thus the waitress at Boat Street telling us about Walrus.  Walrus is in the newly renovated Kolstrand building on the south end of Ballard Avenue.  The building is gorgeous.  It also houses a very cool bike store and Staple and Fancy, which I will be trying this Saturday for our anniversary. I will leave you with a few photos of the building and in case you couldn't tell, you should get down to south Ballard ave a.s.a.p. and check out the food.  You wont be sorry!

Go eat some oysters!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Map Cradle & Mother Blessing

Finished Baby D's cradle for one of Maurisa's Mother Blessing gifts!

I hosted a Mother Blessing for my dear friend Maurisa on Saturday.  Her son will be born in mid November so it was time to help her prepare.  I found this BIG pine wood cradle at a consignment store after being tipped off by Suze.  When I finally got over to check it out it was marked half off!  Is it tacky to say I only paid $15!  Well, sorry if it is, I just can't help admitting the amazing deal it was!
Knowing what Maurisa and Mike's rebuilt house looks like, I didn't want to leave this as a light pine cradle so at first I thought I was going to stain it with Fiddle head Fern colored stain.  It was a disaster!
It's hard to tell here but the stain just made the cradle look dingy and dirty.  It was streaky and sticky since I didn't sand first(my fault).  But it gave me the excuse to go with the idea I had originally of decoupaging the entire thing with vintage maps.  I had maps left over after covering the wall here, so I figured this was a great way to use them up, spruce up the cradle, and make a unique gift.  Plus, Maurisa and Mike have been world travelers and avid hikers so the country maps and national parks maps made sense.

Here is a process shot.  I did use border paste to adhere the maps to the cradle, just like I did there.  And I started with the bottom, worked my way up the sides to the interior, did the inside ends and left the outside ends for last.  It was easy, meditative, and fun!

I had originally intended to also paste cutout ship pictures on the maps.  After I found a 1960's era National Geographic on ships I was all set.  I cut out a bunch of the images and was all ready but then just felt like the cradle was busy enough as is.  I didn't think it needed more.  It was already perfect!

Here is the bedding that Natasha and I made for the cradle.  I wish I would have gotten a better picture of the awesome vintage kids fabric I found a couple weeks ago that we used for one side the coverlet and for the case for the mattress.  We used organic cotton batting, a layer of felted wool and a layer of puddle pad to insert into the mattress case.  
I have a thing I do for the coverlets at Mother Blessings when I host them.  You make the coverlet and then you "quilt" it by threading wool yarn or ribbon at various points around the coverlet, to hold all the layers together.  You don't tie the yarn right away but rather you leave them untied to do a sweet ritual at the Blessing.  You pass the coverlet around and you speak to a quality you see in yourself that you value and you would wish for the baby to possess.  As you state your aptitude you tie this desire into the quilt with the yarn ends and two square knots.  It's really sweet and is a very nice but simple ritual that lasts and lasts.  I think Maurisa really enjoyed the process and the entire cradle package!
Here is a basket full of the sandalwood candles I sent home with everyone so they could light one when they hear Maurisa is in labor or anytime they want to concentrate spiritual energy her way.  The tag said:

One last part I will share with you is the invite I made for the Blessing.  I made this stamp a while ago and used it to stamp various thin and delicate, almost tissue paper like, plant paper.
Then I glued the delicate papers to plain cards and made an insert for the Blessing info.

In other news, I have a ton of crafting and sewing to catch up on!  Working on a "carpet" bag, a coat for myself, and more repurposed leather bags.  Also, I got to eat at The Walrus and The Carpenter in Ballard on Saturday night with Chad, Tony and Daisy and I will hopefully have a Jennette's Restaurant Review for you tomorrow.  All I can say now is, Get there as Soon as you Possibly Can!
And for mine and Chad's anniversary this coming weekend we got a late reservation at Staple and Fancy for Saturday night.  SO EXCITED!  I LOVE FOOD!  GOOD FOOD!  So I will have a review for it next week as well.
The cold/flu bug that's going around these parts is trying desperately to catch me and its getting a hold.  I can feel the aching rundown sore throat thing starting so if I don't post everyday, you'll know why. Garlic and elder have become my soul mates! Wish me luck!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Witch of the Woods

Found this awesome and strange painting down at M & M a couple weeks ago.  It's like it was meant for me.  I asked how come nobody told me it was there when I discovered it and they said something to the effect of, "Oh, its been around here for a while now.  We didn't know you would love it and we kinda forgot about it anyhow."  Just goes to show ya that you never know what you'll find when you are on the hunt for treasure!

Here is a close-up of the girl being blown away.  I love the dark feeling of this painting.  It seems so Autumnal and appropriate right now.  She is holding a stick or broom in her hand.  The sky looks dark and ominous.  It looks to be signed on the front bottom right corner:
J P Walsh.....

What!!?  So I'm looking over the back of the painting.  I'm admiring the use of old wood to make the frame the canvas is stretched over.  The wood appears to be from an old crate or sign because there are painted letters that look like advertising on some of it.  Looking closer I find old hand writing and the words: Witch of the Woods!  Total Score, People!  I have no idea who this artist is or even how old this is but I LOVE IT!

I am working up to painting a few walls in my house in the coming weeks.  I know exactly what I want to do but haven't had time yet to execute it.  But once it's done I will be rehanging a lot of the art in my house.  I hope to show you before and after pictures.   

I'm off to practice my Nacho Libre monologue for Miscast!  Don't miss out on the fun!  Monday October 25, Conor Byrne Pub in Ballard, 7:30, $10, all proceeds to benefit New Amerikan Theatre's production of Stings Like Acid.
Be there or be square!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Placemat and Snack Bags

Here is Jasper working on his lunch placemat for school.

This year the teachers at Jasper's school requested that each child bring a cloth napkin or placemat to use for setting out their lunch on each day.  A placemat helps define their space so they aren't sprawled out all over and it makes messes easier to clean up as well.
Jasper got it in his mind to make his own placemat.
He has been wanting to sew on my machine for a while now and this seemed like the perfect starter project since it was pretty much a few straight lines.

Here he is turning the placemat right sides out, after leaving a small opening to pull the fabric through.  We applied fusible interfacing to the wrong side of both pieces of fabric to give it some structure and heft.

Here Jasper is pushing the corners out, really well, before he finishes it by top stitching.  He choose the fabrics to go with his lunch cooler and the messenger bag I made him last school year.

Messenger bag with underwater shipwreck sea print.

Finishing the topstitching on his matching placemat.

The red and white checked fabric came from a HUGE Ikea duvet cover.  Jasper loves to have picnics and this fabric reminded him of picnic fabric so he wanted it for one side of his placemat.  I used both fabrics plus an apple print one to make him some fabric snack bags:

These snacks bags are so super easy to make and they are so handy to have around.  I did line mine, just to give them a little more structure but you don't have to and most tutorials out there don't call for them to be lined.  I didn't use a tutorial, I just winged it, but I know Amy has a video one that is pretty good.
Jasper has been packing all his bulk snacks and cut apples and carrot sticks in these.  We haven't even had to wash them yet but we will when they need it.  I love having these to use over and over instead of plastic baggies that just get thrown away every time. 

In other news: I have been rearranging my studio and thus, the house, so things are in a bit of disarray here at the moment.  But I was inspired to move my sewing desk in front of the big picture window for both more light and a great view for this coming winter.  Also, I had to make room to bring in my potted banana tree, potted fig tree and potted blood orange tree.  I am determined to help them live through the winter this time!  I am loving how all this rearranging is coming along so I will try to share some photos with you soon.  I am also preparing to host Maurisa's Mother Blessing this coming Saturday so I will be busy, busy all week.  I may not have a post every week day, this week, but I will try to be in touch!
It's almost hump day!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vintage Altered Halloween Portraits!

Last year at this time we decorated, altered, embellished and otherwise upcycled these cool old vintage photo portraits we had in the basement.  I had been collecting these for a while and had not taken them down to the antique mall yet.  And I had seen a similar project that inspired me to dig these out and get to work!
This was a family art project.  We got out paper, glue sticks, tape, etc. and our creative juices began to flow!  Forgive me now if these are offensive to you.  Just look away!  But this is my families idea of scary.  Boo!

I can't remember who made which one and most were collaborative anyhow.

Most of the colored paper is applied with just a tiny dab of glue stick so it can be removed later, if need be, and it wont damage the portraits anymore than they already are damaged.

We hang these around the house using big vintage paper clip type holders that are hung on a tack.  Or, I have a handful of vintage clipboards that can hang on a tack while the portrait is clipped to the board.

Freaky Baby!
So, be sure to send me a link of your altered photo portraits if you get inspired to make some yourself!  I'd love to see what creativeness people can come up with!  These would be fun to do at other holidays too, like bunny ears at Ostara. 

Make Art, Create, be Creative!