Sunday, December 18, 2011

Horsing Around

Shorty, after our ride.
Day one of my holiday was glorious and exciting; After breakfast, I went up to Kelly Canyon to go horsebacking! The day was sunny, clear and cold. The snow sparkled on the ground like a Christmas miracle. Meet my steed, Shorty (abbreviated from Short Arrow) shown right and below. Usually I ride Jessie, but she's getting older and so we changed things up a bit. Gary rode my favorite mule, Pal.

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While Gary got out the tack, I took a little bit of time to get to know Shorty, so that we could both enjoy a more relaxed ride.  Although staring into a horse's eyes isn't really my way (and I don't imagine that a horse would find that soothing), I do find them beautiful and soulful, so I snuck in a picture of Shorty's eye; doesn't he have beautiful eyelashes?

Gary, riding Pal.
Our other sturdy companion was Lucky, the Welsh Corgi who ran behind the horses on his short little legs (letting the horses break the snow first) the whole ride!

While we were out, we saw a family of four Moose.  I got one photo from far away, but as we drew nearer, Pal and Shorty spooked, and Gary and I spent our time getting the horses calmed down.  Neither of us lost our seat, thankfully, but we both got a nice shot of adrenaline! 

I hope I get to ride at least one more time before I leave for home, but I think I'm going to try some quiet snowshoeing to the same location first, to see if I can get a little closer to the Moose for better photos.  Don't worry, though, I'm not ignorant to how dangerous Moose can be; I'll be careful!

Lucky; a dog in search of legs.

A far away shot of three moose (there's one in the trees to the left)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Work

Hello out there.  It seems like the common theme of my posts these days is: "I'm sorry it's been such a long time..."  So I'm going to skip ahead of that now and just tell you what I've been up to. 

Suzanne and me at our most recent Craft Fair
The holidays: it's an emotional time, but also a busy time!  I've been trying my hand at craft fairs now that I've got more time to do such things, and I've been pleasantly suprised at how welcomed I've felt.  The other vendors are lovely, and the customers are even lovelier!  One of the dis-advangages about selling work online is that I don't get to hear the thought process of my potential customer.  But at a fair, I can hear the conversation between two people that either results in a sale, or in a pass.  I can gather information about price points, colors, patterns, design, and quality.  And also the emotional reaction that folks have to certain things.  All of this is great for helping me refine my product and its presentation.

This past year has been quite a challenge for me, and after Bronwyn's passing I was left feeling like I was blind to my purpose.  But I've started to find my footing again, and after some soul searching I remember that I really do love the creative endevours that are BCharmer Designs and Mercy Me Designs.  So my next task is to turn those hobby businesses into bona-fide businesses.  My local community has a non-profit program called Enterprise for Equity, which offers business training to low-income entrepreneurs, and I've signed up to begin their training program in February.  I'm thrilled!  My hope is that I can turn something that supports my creativity into something that also supports me financially.  I'll keep you posted (I really will).

In the meantime, I've found some new fabric to love (big suprise) and a fun little project to showcase it.  The designer of this fabric is Lotta Jansdotter, and the line is called, "Echo" and I confess I fell hard for this whole collection before it was even released.  I don't have a lot of it, but enough to make piecework zippered pouches and headbands.  Isn't it delicious?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bone Dry Ridge

Selma and Markthor, making tea.
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of visiting a lovely farm in my area.  Bone Dry Ridge focuses on raising livestock, with an emphasis on sustainable land use and husbandry practices.  Selma and Markthor, the owners and operators of the farm, raise a medium sized flock of Icelandic sheep, and a handful of pigs and Highland cows along with a flock of 50 chickens and several hives of bees. They have an elaborate water catchment system, which comes in handy in the late summer when the water on the land dries up.  I was completely charmed by Selma and Markthor, their passion for what they do, and by their animals and land.  When you meet people who are living their dream, you can't help but feel inspired and uplifted.

Good Dog, Kata: Photo by Nash

After touring the farm, Selma invited us in for tea, and proudly produced a jar of her homemade yogurt.  I probably don't need to say that it was the best yogurt that I have ever eaten!  Selma perfected the recipe over many months of experimenting with different strains of starter.  She would bring the end product to her neighbors with a survey until she eventually came up with a recipe that was the most liked by everybody.  Now she is hard at work on a business plan that would allow her to have her own creamery.  I'm so excited to be her first customer!

And the cherry on the cake was that I have recently been loaned a fancy digital SLR camera, which I used on this trip.  I'm pretty excited with the expanded photographic possibilities! And I would be remiss if I didn't thank Nash, my talented artisitc companion on this trip, who helped me with the elaborate menu system and some of the finer points that particular camera.  Thank-You Nash!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Work

I'm crossing over a little bit to talk about the new work that I'm doing in my other business, Mercy Me Designs.  I'm so excited to introduce these new little cycle caps.  We're making them out of wool for adults and children alike.  You can see more information in my blog post over here about them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Brighter Shade of Blue

My Dearest Reader,

It has been nearly three months since last I wrote.  I won't lie, I've been having a hard time.  I often thought of coming to my blogs to write about my experience, but I felt so dark and so wobbly, that I thought it would be scary for anyone else to look at.  Inside myself, I knew I wouldn't leap off of the beckoning precipice, but you might not know that, and so I kept quiet. 

Looking back at it now, I would call these past few months a soulful time, but in the thick of it, it just felt hard.  Bronwyn's birthday came and went, and the weeks bookending the date were as painful as anything I can think of.   This pain is just something that I need to experience and integrate into my life now, and I cannot believe that I'm saying this but it does get easier

Finally, I am breathing deeply again.  The world feels less viscous to me now; I feel like I can move more easily, more lightly.  In the midst of this, what I will euphamistically call "hard time," I was comforted by friends and relations, by little notes of concern from you, and by spending long hours in my studio; sometimes creating, sometimes thinking, and sometimes just doing nothing.  I'm so grateful for all of that time and loving care. 

One emotional turning point for me came just a few weeks ago, when my Husband and I took a camping trip to my all time favorite beach in the Deception pass area.  I spent a long time sitting on a bluff watching birds soar, waves crash, and kelp sway in the swirling water below me.  I let the wind go through me, felt the rocks below me, and the vastness of space moving around me.  I was a speck, and it gave me perspective. 

I know that as much as I experience sorrow and emptiness from the physical loss of Bronwyn, spiritually she is with me more now than ever before.  She is that seed inside of me that encourages me to shine, to take care of myself, to have compassion for others, and to be fully present in the world.  Love doesn't die in the absence of one's beloved, which has been such an important discovery for me.  I will love Bronwyn until the day I die, and hopefully I can let that love continue to grow and come through me and everything I do.  Now that I'm starting to understand this concept, more things seem possible.  My mind is swirling with new possibilities and new hope.  I wonder what will happen next? 

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Little Blossom

I am in the land of summer and blue sky right now, and it is lovely.  I found this giant dandi-head on a hike yesterday and fell in love with the whispery feathers of its seed pods, just getting ready to fly away.  This shape and color brought to mind a project that I worked on just recently for a customer.  She chose these fabrics specifically, and I thought she did a great job; it's a good combination, don't you think? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Confessional

I've "discovered" a new site on the internet that is both handy and fun.  The site is called Pinterest, and it's quickly gaining popularity.  Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where you can organize and save all of the recipes, tutorials, photos, and other fabulous things that you find on the internets.  So, for example, I am about to embark on my first quilt, and I have only a clue as to how to go about starting.  So if I do a search for "quilting tutorials" on the web at midnight, I get a lot of hits back that look interesting.  But it's midnight and I don't want to read them all right now.  So I can pin them to a board that I've named "Quilting" on Pinterest.  This is my board and I can organize it, name it, and use it however I like.  But here's the other cool thing: other people can see my boards, and I can see theirs.  So I can also do a search on Pinterest for Quilting Tutorials and see what comes up there.  Trust me, there is A LOT of cool stuff on Pinterest, and I've had to limit my time there (because I could easily spend all day looking at other peoples collections).  I personally have 35 different boards, and I love it that I can come back to them, click on the photo, and it brings me right back to the original location where I found it.  Recently, I found a crochet tutorial for making bowls.  I printed out the pattern and promptly made four nesting bowls; aren't they pretty? 

Now I know that the internet is vast, and our time and attention are limited.  Pinterest isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love it so much that I thought I'd better share, just in case it is yours.  You can follow my boards on Pinterest, if you decide to sign up; see you in the ether!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quilt Progress

Okay, so I was hoping to be finished with my quilt by today.  Alas, the quilting bit has got me a little intimidated.  Here's what I have so far: the back (which I think came out well) and the front.  Plus the batting in between.  It's all pinned together, and I've also basted it, but I think it needs more basting.  I'm planning to bring it with me on my trip to Montana, where there are abundant, experienced quilters there who can help me.  My goal is not to do a lot of dense quilting.  I want the finished product to feel soft and fluffy, but I also don't want it to shift around.  So "Stitch-in-the-Ditch?"  Also, I'm thinking about hand-quilting; will it take too long?  I didn't end up finding the stripey binding that I was hoping for, but I found a lovely little freckle-dot (white dots on an espresso brown background) that I think will look great.  I'll be sure to post pictures of the final product!

 I left a little blank panel to the right of the owl and pussycat print where I can dedicate a blessing to Bria Rose, who is the little sweetie that will be getting this quilt.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Project

Remember my last post when I said that I was going to make a quilt for my cousin's new baby?  Well I actually did it!  Okay, so I just did the top part, but I think that was my major hurdle. 
I've never made a quilt before, and I felt totally intimidated.  I did a little bit of questing online for different quilts that I thought were attractive and not too complicated (I needed to have it finished by this Wednesday).  I chose a strip quilt because I thought that I couldn't really mess it up too badly. 

Step one was digging out my favorite kid themed fabric prints.  Step two was deciding on a color pallette and then selecting prints within that pallete.  I chose Heather Ross' Swimming mermaids first, and I had a LOT of other prints by her, but I didn't think it made a cohesive theme to pair swimming mermaids with VW vans and bikes, so I nixed the overly terrestrial prints. 

I put in some fish, some sea horses, and some prints that reminded me of seaweed and beach blossoms.  The one print that might be a digression is the linen strip that depicts the main characters from the fairy tale, The Owl and the Pussycat.  But they're in a boat, and I love it, so there.I'm pretty happy with the way it came out.  Now I have to work on the back and put it all together.  I would love to bind it in a bold, high contrast stripe, (espresso brown and white?) but I don't have anything like that.  We'll see what I come up with; wish me luck!  Please excuse my photos for this post; the light is pretty bad right now because of all of the overcast. But you get the idea!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Fabric Love

I just got my order of two of Heather Ross' new prints from her Far Far Away III line.  I chose her pink guitars and the blue tangleweed prints because they are more condusive to smaller projects.  Here I have made Tomboy wallets out of each, and I really like the way they came out.  Strangely, the two fabrics are different weights: the guitars are a heavier (and more what I'm used to) linen/cotton blend.  The wildflowers are a very light (almost quilting weight) linen/cotton.  I love both, but I was suprised that they would be different weaves.  In any case, I am very much enjoying working with them.

Both of these wallets are available now in my Shops. And don't forget: I'm crafting for a cause right now!  I'm working towards an $800.00 goal to be able to build a new bathroom for LilyAnne so that she can experience greater independance in her every day life.  Read more about the full project here.

In other news, my beloved cousin just had a baby, and I'm going to go and visit them soon.  I have decided (deep breath here) that I'm going to make a baby quilt for her.  I'm going to try and keep this first one super simple, since I've never quilted before, and also because I have to finish it by mid week next week!  Maybe a strip quilt?  In any case, I'm looking forward to incorperating these two prints into my first quilt for her.  Welcome to the world, Bria Rose!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Making a Goal

Today I want to tell you about a very special project being supported by our local community as a way to remember Bronwyn.  Our project is called "Bronwyn's Wheelhouse," and the purpose is to help children with special needs and their families through home renovation.  To read the full story behind Bronwyn's Wheelhouse project, and to get updates on our current project, visit our website:  Click on the tab "Bronwyn's Story" for the background information. 

Our current project is a bathroom re-do for a little girl, LilyAnne.  LilyAnne is mobile with a walker, or with the aid of grab bars.  She's 11 years old, and would like to be more independent!  After we remodel LilyAnne's bathroom, she will be able to get in and out of the bathroom by herself (currently the doorway is too narrow to allow her walker in, and there are no grab bars), she'll be able to use the sink, toilet and shower independently, too!  And here's what's really exciting: we're $800.00 away from making this a reality for her!! 

So here's what I'm going to do: From now until the money is raised, I'm going to donate 50% of the proceeds from my BCharmer shop to this cause.  If you've been waiting for a time to get a special accessory, now is a great time to shop!  Visit my shops online here or here.

You can also donate directly to the foundation.  Your donations are completely tax deductable, as our local chapter of the Kiwanis Club has kindly adopted our program, and thus has given us non-profit status.  To donate, you can make a check out to: "Tumwater Kiwanis Youth Foundation" and write "Bronwyn's Wheelhouse" in the subject line.  Mail the check to:
Tumwater Kiwanis Club
5201 Capitol Blvd SE
PMB 182
Tumwater WA 98501

I have added this little thermometer to the blog to track our progress on the fundraising; I'm so excited that we can make this happen! 

P.S. Some of you have already given to this cause, Thank-You so much!!  Please don't feel that you need to give again; the point is that a small (and manageable) gift from many can make a significant impact.  That way, nobody feels pinched. 

Okay, friends; let's make this happen!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Catching Up

Finding my new rhythm has proven more tricky than I had thought it would.  Nevertheless, I have been productive and am starting to find some structure in my day; it's a good thing.

And I have some fun news! I was contacted recently by Nancy, who has a blog called, "A Little Etsy Love." On this blog, Nancy features Etsy items that she covets, and she asked me if she could feature my work. Of course I agreed, and I decided that I also would share the love and offer one of my custom small card wallets to give away! So if you want to win one of my small cowgirl wallets, visit Nancy's blog and leave a comment (as directed) for your chance.

In other news, I have a fun selling venue coming up: As a benefit for our local high school's debate team, there is a women's moonlight run, followed by an evening of chocolate and gourmet shopping. I thought the combination of running, chocolate and shopping sounded ideal, and luckily I got in. So this week I'm working in the studio to get ready. Right now, having a tangible goal to work towards is very helpful! Pictured here is a clutch that I just made, which I think came out great! I love these little clutches!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Well, officially it's summer but it has been unseasonably cool and overcast.  The upside to that type of weather is that it is perfect for growing salad greens.  Every night Brian and I eat a delicious, just picked salad from the garden.  The greens are so tender they practically melt in your mouth.  I love to add fresh dill and arugula for some peppery, herbal flavor.  Once the basil (in the hotbox) is ready, I'll add that, too!

I have a small craft fair coming up early in July and I've been working on some inventory for the event.  I've had a lot of requests for more zippered pouches, so I've been sewing up some of them.  I love this one with the chicken print!  I lined the inside with a green woodgrain print by Joel Dewberry.  It's very "down home on the farm, I think!"
Happy Summer, everyone.  I hope some of you are seeing some sun!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Running for a Cause

This past weekend, I ran a 5K race for a classmate of Bronwyn's who has Rett's Syndrome, a rare disorder that affects girls almost exclusively.  I ran the race for Ella, and in memory of Bronwyn.  It felt so good to do something tangible to help with finding a cure for Rett's.  Having a child with a rare disease or syndrome can leave the parents feeling helpless and frustrated because funding for research is limited, and so are the options for meaningful treatment. 
I made this little flag that I wore in rememberence of Bronwyn. It was an emotion-filled run, but healing as well.  

I plan to run again next year, and to set a fundraising goal for myself! Stay tuned. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I've been slowing down in my craftiness; not that I'm actually crafting less, mind you, but I'm re-discovering my passion for hand work.  During my vacation at the beach, I had the opportunity to trade needle skills with one of my girlfriends (I knit and she crochets).  We taught each other the rudiments of our respective needle craft and I'm so happy to have another stick to make knots with now!  I went into my yarn stash and found little balls of cashmere that I had left over from previous projects.  There's just enough there to make a fun bunch of swirly flowers.  Maybe I'll add clips or pinbacks to them, or maybe something else, who knows? 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Flying Free

This past weekend I had the fabulous opportunity to go to Ocean Shores with a group of girlfriends. The weather was phenomenal, and we were lucky enough to have been there during a kite festival.  Seeing all of the different kites soaring, fluttering, and floating all around me made me feel like I was in an undersea wonderland. It's not difficult to experience joy when looking at these bright jewels floating in midair.

An extra special treat was getting to see Ray Bethell, a multiple time World Champion in Kite flying.  Ray's signature style is flying three kites simultaneously in formation (and he also holds the world record for flying 39 at once).  I had never heard of Ray, or seen anyone fly multiple kites before.  I was mesmerized, not just by the kites, but by the man's movements and his concentration.  After Ray finished a session, I went over to talk with him. What a delightful person! Through that conversation, and then after checking out his website, I learned that Ray, now somewhere in his 80's, didn't start flying kites until 1981.  I also learned that he has experienced several hardships in his life, and hasn't let them overtake his spirit. When he was in his 60's, Ray was struck by a rare virus that left him deaf overnight.  Later, his wife developed alzheimer's disease, which slowly took her life.  Ray says, "How does a person deal with the unfairness of life?  The only way you can do it is to face it head on... it's unchangeable, you have to learn to deal with it."  These are wise words that I'm starting to learn.

Here is a photo that I took of Ray with his three kites in action.  You can learn more about Ray and see video clips of him in action on his website. I highly recommend this video interview, if you have 8 minutes to spare.