05 October 2009

change of address cards

I knew I wanted to make change of address cards to mail out to friends and family. In what I thought was a flash of brilliance, I decided to carve a linoleum block with a little illustration of the house. I have very little experience with carving linoleum (I carved a turtle once), but I was optimistic. One injured finger and a good bit of cursing later, I have some cards that are somewhat presentable. I was too cheap to go out and buy proper block printing ink, so I used my plain old painting acrylics. It looks a little...gunky. But it adds to the rustic charm of the stamp, right?

Unrelated, but momentous: I made collards tonight. I couldn't just buy one ham hock, they came four to a package. So now we're going to have to make a big pot of beans to go with our mess of greens. The house smells like my grandma's, it's very nice.

22 September 2009

for napping

If that's not the picture of a spoiled dog, I don't know what is. But how can we help it with those sweet brown eyes which stare so intently until you pet her head and rub her belly. Sweet girl. The doggies needed living room beds. While we love the hardwood floors in our new house, it means the dogs had few places to stretch out for a nap.

I wanted to do this on the cheap, so I bought two 5-lb boxes of polyfill and used fabric from my stash. They're a little poofy, but I know from experience (having already made one bed for Scout) that they will squish down in time to the perfect state of poofiness.

Scout is sliding off her bed a little bit, granted. She's just such a big girl. She's still breaking in the bed. She'll get it squished down before too long. I would like to share that I think Scout is the most patient and sweet soul I have ever met. You can tell it from looking at those eyes, I'm sure.

Of course, some days almost anywhere will do for a nap. Because napping is very important.

15 September 2009


We're settled into our new home. I loooove this house.

I love the windows, original to 1923. Some of them don't open so well anymore, and all of them have that rippled effect of old glass, as if the window were ever so slowly melting down into the windowsill.

I love the wide front porch.

I love settin' on the front porch with Matt, watching the town drive by.

I love the giant oak tree in the backyard. It's huge. I don't really feel we could own such a tree, but hopefully if we show him the proper respect, he won't decide to drop one of his limbs on our roof. He seems a kindly old tree, so I'm sure he'll be careful.

And of course sweet puppies and an amazing, wonderful fiancé are in this house, which is the best part. Yep, we made a promise and he gave me a beautiful ring. It's been a very good summer.

I've got pictures to share of our transformed sunroom and homemade doggie beds, so I'll be back very soon. The dogs want their dinner...

11 August 2009

rick rack!

I made a set of 8 napkins for Twin last week. She loves red, so this is definitely an ode to red. Every napkin is a different print, but all have the same red rick rack around the edges. I got the inspiration and the directions from Joelle Hoverson's lovely book Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. I love that book. I want to make the brown and blue quilt out of that book so dang much. I will get to it one day.

These are actually a housewarming gift for Twin. Change is afoot. I am not so good with change, which is why the blog has been so quiet lately. But the change is good--oh so good!--except for the fact that I won't be living with my sister anymore. We've lived together almost our entire lives, with only a year here and there when we were apart. I really don't have the words to describe what a blessing it has been in my life. But that's the great thing with my sister. I don't have to have the words to say it because she knows. I know. We know.

I want to put this in teeny tiny type because I can still scarcely believe it, but Matt and I are buying a house! The most perfect, beautiful, charming bungalow. We move in two weeks, so it will continue pretty quiet here on the blog for a little while, but then I expect it will turn into a This Old House kind of blog as we learn the joys and challenges of owning a nearly 100-year old home. I am so freaking excited I don't know what to do with myself. Pack! That's what I'll do. Lots of packing!

15 July 2009

harvesting tomatoes and hope

I'm growing tomatoes! Two different kinds. This is very exciting.

The even more exciting part is that my tomatoes are growing in a Harvesting Hope container garden. Harvesting Hope is an awesome service project my mom started with help from some of her Obama campaigning buddies. Obama asked them to serve and let me tell you, she has stepped up.

They've made about 100 of these container gardens (made from donated used restaurant buckets, organic soil, seedlings from a local sustainable farmer, and a lot of hard work) and are giving them to people in the community who might not otherwise have the means to grow and eat fresh veggies.

My meager contribution to the project has been designing a logo and starting a blog for the project. So Mom shipped me a container of my very own to set up on my front stoop. The blog has some great info (such as how they built the buckets) as well as some lovely photos of the garden recipients.

And these buckets work amazingly well. My tomato is growing like mad. The system is ingenious. It has a water reservoir in the bottom that you fill through a tube and funnel at the top. Being a closed system, it maintains a consistent moisture level and none of the nutrients drain off when watering. My mom and brother did a ton of research and experimentation as they designed the containers, and the result is just amazing. So smart.

I am incredibly proud of my Mom and brother. They have worked so hard, given so much of their time and energy for this cause. I am in awe.

And here is my very first harvest. Three little grape tomatoes. Sweet.

10 June 2009

great-grandma's quilts

As we cleaned out my grandma's house a couple weeks ago, we found eight antique quilts that we assume my great-grandmother made. Many of them have become threadbare and stained, but I love them all.I found one in the linen closet, Dad brought down a box of them from the attic, and then we found three more in the basement. It was raining antique quilts, made by the hand of my great-grandmother! I was so freaking excited.These are definitely patchwork quilts--you can tell they were made with whatever fabrics she had on hand. A couple are quite complex, while others are simple patterns.I agonized about how to wash them, because after who knows how many years sitting in the attic, they certainly needed to be washed. I read online that the best way to clean vintage quilts is to vacuum them, which sounded a bit ridiculous, though I guess it would be a gentle way to air them out. I finally decided just to wash and dry them on delicate, and they don't appear to be too much the worse for the experience. They certainly smell a lot better.My next task is to mend them. I don't want to "ruin" their vintage authenticity, but I also want them to be attractive and useful for me and the rest of the family. Many of them have holes that need to be patched and I also plan to add new binding to the ones where the original binding has frayed almost to the point of nonexistence. Anyone know how to gently remove giant, decades-old stains from quilts? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as I am at a bit of a loss. Thanks! There are more pictures over on flickr if you're interested in vintage quilts.

20 May 2009

the arboretum in chapel hill

I've had about eight things in my head to blog about, but none of them have made it out of my head and into the blog lately. I've been wanting to post some pictures of one of my favorite places in Chapel Hill. The arboretum is right around the corner from my office and just about the perfect lunch spot.
They grow only native plants, and all the trees and most of the plants are labeled. The whole thing makes me want to become a horticulturalist.
This magnificent tree is Beautybush. Seems a very fitting name.
Close-up of the beautiful Beautybush.
My favorite tree is in the Arboretum is a Big-leaf Magnolia. I have never seen a magnolia tree like it. It has enormous, tropical-looking leaves. And when I say enormous I mean like 2-3 feet long. ENORMOUS.
And not only are the leaves big, the blooms are bigger than my head. And I have a big head. This picture doesn't do them justice. ENORMOUS.
In other exciting news I bought a butter dish on eBay. I have a thing for old Corelle and Pyrex patterns. I've been picking up old Corelle plates from thrift shops (they're all over the place) in the hopes of amassing a charmingly mismatched set of corelle dishware. So now I have a stack of Corelle plates that is about 10 inches tall. Not to mention the teacups and saucers.
Anyway. My butter dish is a nice addition to the collection.

I am heading to my grandmother's house for the long weekend to help my Dad and uncle begin cleaning out the house. Getting it ready to sell. My grandparents built the house in the early 60s and Grandma lived in it for nearly 50 years. I have so many wonderful memories of that house. Cleaning it out will be hard. It's just stuff, material things that may have little value, but it's the stuff that tells the story of their lives. Happy lives. I have a feeling we'll be packing up a lot of it to keep.

Wishing you a happy and peaceful holiday weekend!

12 May 2009


I've been sewing up aprons for everybody. Above is mine, isn't the fabric groovy? It's from an old sheet I picked up at a thrift store. The pattern is from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing. I just love the shape of the apron and the little pleats where the neck band comes in. It's also reversible; I've got a red gingham on the back of mine. It's a pretty straightforward pattern and comes together easily.
I made Twin one from the same pattern. If you look very closely you'll see that the flowers are growing upside down. Oopsy. I always forget to think about that before cutting out the fabric. Twin got into the spirit of the photo shoot. She is brandishing a pastry brush, in case you can't tell.
And this one is a gift for a friend. The pattern is Butterick 4945. I love the flounce and the 50s style of it. This pattern is a bit more complicated, but worth the extra work.

I am getting excited about summer sewing. I've bought several patterns and some new fabric as well. I went into the fabric shop determined to buy some cheerful summer prints. Bold florals and the like. But I came out with neutral solids and ginghams and a few simple prints. Twin just sighed. She was quite disappointed. Hopefully, though, the finished garments will win her over. It's a possibility.

08 May 2009

this year's pots

Every spring since I moved to North Carolina, I've planted several large pots on my front stoop. I love having a front porch and I absolutely love container gardening. If I ever have an actual yard to plant, I won't quite know what to do. But I do love planting pots. This year I added a hanging basket of fuschia. And those lovely maintenance men in my apartment complex even came and hung it for me. I love them.Also new this year is a long and narrow herb garden. It's a biodegradable container made of some kind of paper. It was nice and cheap and I like the different shape on my stoop. I've got two kinds of rosemary, chives, thyme, and parsley. I also have basil and cilantro in another pot. The chives are flowering! Who knew? I also got the red geranium for Twin, who loves anything red.
My big blue pot has coleus and a camellia which I've had for a couple years. There's also a spiky thing and a cheerful yellow flower (not so good at remembering names). I like the spiky thing. Oh, and creeping Jenny which is the bright green thing. I love that too.

It's hot and steamy and the magnolias are coming out! Twin has been a bit under the weather due to a traumatic root canal experience. She is on the mend though and has been eating lots of mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs. The ultimate comfort food. Do other people eat mashed potatoes with scrambled eggs? Is that a common thing or is that a weird thing that only my family does? I never know. For instance, my family calls the little pie pieces in Trivial Pursuit "wedgies." I always assumed that's what everyone called them, but I guess not, since every time I call them that people laugh at me. I think "wedgies" is a very fitting term.

I'm heading to the dreaded but essential JoAnn's fabric store as they are having a sale on Simplicity patterns (through tomorrow I think -- 2 for $5). I need to get me some dress patterns. I've been inspired by the Chicken and Melissa who have both been sewing some fine frocks. I need a summer frock or two.

Happy weekend!!

04 May 2009

a few projects from the past year

I did do some crafting while on my blog hiatus, and today I realized I even took pictures of some of them.I made two great shirts from Simplicity's Built By Wendy pattern #3835. As I remember, they came together pretty easily and the simple gathered neckline is a really nice shape. I got this beautiful fabric at a local fabric shop, Mulberry Silks (sorry, I have no idea what the name of the fabric was or who made it). For this shirt I added the 3/4 length sleeves with the little ties at the ends. Very very cute but for some reason (probably my own error), when I put the shirt on, the sleeves were so tight in the arm that I could barely get it on, much less bend my arm at the elbow. So I ripped it out and added in that massive keyhole that you can see in the picture. Kind of cute but also kind of strange. Although I like that you can see the little dimple in Twin's elbow. awww.

I also made the same shirt (minus the strange tie-sleeves) in a blue linen. It really looks much better when it is ironed.

At Christmas time, I made a framed embroidery piece for Matt. Since getting to know him, I have been introduced to the strange and wonderful world of professional wrestling. He grew up loving it and as a kid spent many hours crashing through coffee tables (and once a wall, so I am told) and creating tin-foil championship belts with his friends. If he were a wrestler, his alter ego would be Cleetus Jones, the Great American Lovebomb. And so I embroidered him a little luchador. Sublime Stitching has a whole set of Lucha Libre patterns. I also bought the Sexy Librarian set of patterns for Twin. I'm thinking she needs some sexy librarian embroidery to hang in her office once she's a full-fledged librarian. She is always saying librarians have an image problem, so that should help with that.

30 April 2009

just looking...I think

I can't seem to ignore these shoes. I may break down and buy them. Last year I got a pair of Worishofer sandals in black that I absolutely love. Super comfy and super cute. However, they are looking a little worn now. I'm still wearing them to work, but the insoles have gotten dirty over time and I can't figure out a way to get them looking good again (toes + dirt = yuck). These shoes here might have the same issue, but they are CUTE. They also come in an awesome red patent leather, which Twin likes better of course.

When we cross the border from things-I-probably-shouldn't-spend-money-on into the dreamy land of I-could-never-afford-this-but-maybe-I-could-actually-sew-something-this-cute, I saw this dress on Orla Kiely this morning. I would call this a frock. This looks like a frock to me.

And since we're on the subject of things I want, I seriously need this for my craft room. How awesome would the fabric stash look in this? I know! And we even have an IKEA in North Carolina now. Some of my North Carolina friends do not know what the big deal is about IKEA. egads. For IKEA, I will journey to Charlotte. Maybe some day I will stumble across an affordable vintage linen cupboard, but in the meantime I might just go with the IKEA version.

Happy last day of April!

27 April 2009

cottage for twins

Last week Twin sent me a great article from the campus newspaper about a pair of 94-year-old twins here in Chapel Hill who have been living together for 20 years, tending the beautiful garden around their cottage. Twin said to me, "This is the new plan!!" You see, we have a plan for our old age. In the unfortunate case that we both outlive our husbands, we planned to move to Florida together, learn to golf, and get really, really tan. We'd drive around in a little golf cart and do pool aerobics and that sort of thing. Occasionally we would let our children come visit us and we would go with them to Disney World.
But we were intrigued by the twins with the garden in Chapel Hill. So we went to visit. They have so many visitors to their garden that they put a sign up to welcome people.
The garden is truly beautiful. Tulips that are the biggest I've ever seen. Peonies just bursting from bud, and huge azaleas everywhere.
I decided I liked either the peonies or these wee little purple flowers best.
Twin preferred these white ones. (I'm afraid I don't know names...I do feel like I should know the name of these white ones.)
The backyard
and a sweet-smelling lilac.
So now Twin and I have a new plan. We will live together in a cottage and grow a beautiful garden. Instead of the golf cart, I'm thinking we'll have a scooter and sidecar. In red. We will measure the passing years with each spring flowering. And we'll still occasionally go visit Disney World.