Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another Excuse to Sew

I finally broke down and bought a Kindle e-reader.  I got a good deal on it with a coupon and chose a re-furbished one instead of a never-before-used one in order to help justify the purchase.  I mostly love it.  It's easy to use, doesn't hurt my eyes, and is super great for carrying multiple books without the bulk.  I like it that I can get books for the Kindle from the library, but I confess to being disappointed with my library's selection of e-books.  I really hope the library continues to expand on their electronic repetoire because I don't like the idea of having to purchase books all of the time. 

I knew ahead of time that I wanted to make my own cover for the Kindle, and I chose a soft, felted wool in grey for the outside, and a nice quality flannel cotton for the inside and accent.  I really love the way it looks, and it feels really nice in my hand.  I'm thinking about making some for my shop; what do you think?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A New-ish Design

Recently I was contacted by a customer who wanted to purchase a wallet for her husband, but wasn't sure which fabrics to choose for him.  "I don't want any print, really, but I don't want something only solid, either," she said. 

In my mind, I have been thinking about this very dilemma.  Not everyone wants a big splashy print on their accessories, not even me sometimes.  So I put my hands and my mind together and came up with a racing stripe design that I like quite well.  What do you think?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Heralding of Spring

Spring is coming closer, and tonight we set our clocks forward in anticipation of more daylight.  The Varied Thrush began its odd, buzzy trill at my bedroom window a month ago, and the buds of the red flowering currant are flush and ready to pop, so I know that the Rufus hummingbird will soon be here, chilly and hungry from her vacation in warmer climes.
Today I took a walk down to a lovely watershed near my home, in search of a precious green that I always crave at this time of year: the Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioicaThis utilitarian plant has been used by many cultures over centuries to cure just about anything that ails a person, and some of it's medicinal uses have been borne out by modern medical research.  Additionally, nettles can be prepared and spun to make a sturdy yarn, and then woven into a cloth that is more sturdy than flax (linen) and softer than hemp; so it's the perfect plant in my mind. 

The fact that it also happens to be delicious is what makes me go into the woods, searching for it every March. 

I like nettles steamed (which takes away the sting) and served with a little butter, but it is also very good in soups, or any other way that one might enjoy spinach or a sturdy green (except for raw).  The flavor can be compared to spinach, but with a somewhat woolly texture, and a brighter green flavor.  My husband enjoys it, too, although when we ate it tonight he said, "This is delicious, " and then added sweetly, "would you like to finish mine?"  He claimed chivalry because he could see how much I was enjoying mine, but in truth I think he felt skittery about the possibility of getting a sting.

If you want to harvest your own nettles for supper, be sure to have a pair of scissors, and clip only the tops of new plants (older plants become tough and stringy).  Be careful to avoid being stung; you can wear gloves or be decidedly timid in your approach.  If you get stung, you won't die, but you won't soon forget the experience either.  Rinse the nettles and put them above boiling water to steam until just bright green.  Add a little butter if you wish and enjoy! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Speaking of Snow

Anna's Hummingbird, enduring the cold
Just after my last post, we had a large ice storm which, sadly, split many large trees down their centers, causing power failures throughout our town.  We spent just about 5 days without heat, telephone, or internet. The first two days were rosy and quiet.  We read books, played cards, and snuggled together on the couch.  After that, the romance wore off and I started to feel cold and isolated.  I took a long walk into town to see if maybe the library would be open, or maybe a coffee house where I could check my e-mail.  But no.  Even the post office was black, and the best thing I got from my hike was exercise.  I thought about my ancestors, who bore the cold and dark for the whole of late fall, winter, and early spring.  Who never had hot water on tap. Who never had conveniences like a washer and dryer. Whose babies often died from exposure, illness, or hunger. I looked at my soft, easy life, and felt humbled and appreciative.  Appreciative for my ancestors' hardiness, and appreciative for the conveniences that I take for granted.  I'm glad that we had the storm, even though I'm sad that we lost two trees in our yard.  It was a good reminder to me that I have been pampered and fortunate, even when I am feeling sorry for myself.

Snowy Owl, by Barry Troutman
I am including in this post, two spectacular photographs that were taken by a dear friend and photographic advisor, Barry Troutman.  Barry has a special affinity for wildlife (and especially bird) photography.  We have had the good fortune to experience an unusual influx of Snowy Owls in our region, and Barry went off to "see what his camera could see."  When he found the owls, he was dismayed to see that they were quite litterally being mobbed by photographers, who were hoping to get a close shot.  Barry, not wanting to participate in stressing the birds, chose a remote location where he could simply sit and watch the birds, and maybe get a far away shot as a souvenier.  Not long after he got settled, one of the birds was disturbed from its perch and took flight, traveling right towards Barry.  He said he just lifted the camera and started shooting; getting some fabulous captures of the owl in flight.  Just look at those huge wings and talons.  Amazing!
Snowy Owl, by Barry Troutman

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow is Nature's Lightbox

We've had an inordinate amount of snow here the past few days.  In usual years, we'll get a couple of inches of the white stuff one day and it's gone the next.  Last night we got 14 inches of new snow, on top of the several inches that had accumulated from the previous day.  It's a winter wonderland and I'm loving it!  I sat out in my front yard this morning, bundled up, watching the finches have drama over the feeders.  I'm learning how to use a different camera so instead of my trusty, I pulled out the new one; there's only one way to get good at something different, right?  Upon reviewing the photos, I realized that I should have increased my shutter speed; this would have provided me with a more crisp image and also more "still" shots of wingbeats.  Nevertheless, I'm happy with the creamy complexion that the lightbox of snow created for me.

High drama

One seed at a time creates nourishment.
Listen Softly
Male American Goldfinch

A couple of days ago I went up to Seattle to listen to a seminar called "Sacred Economics" led by Charles Eisenstein.  I confess that I was somewhat disappointed in the talk.  The topic of discussion (I think) was how to approach the business of money in a way that is different from today's convention: that's what got me excited about going to see him in the first place.  But Mr. Eisenstein said some things that didn't resonate with me, and the talk itself was unstructured and contained a lot of tangents that made it difficult for me to follow his thoughts all the way through.  I'm still glad that I went, though, because by hearing other's opinions I am better able to solidify my own.  That's the beauty of diversity isn't it?  We need to understand others in order to understand ourselves.
Female American Goldfinch

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy January!

Welcome, 2012, I wasn't sure I was ready for you.  Apparently, though, my readiness matters not; here we are anyhow! 

We are home from Montatna, and had a lovely visit.  I did get to snowshoe back into the land where I had seen the moose on horse, and I DID get to see the moose again, closer this time.  Sadly, I didn't get any good photos. There were lots of reasons why I didn't, but essentially it boils down to not wanting to disturb the moose too much (and be accidentally charged upon in the process).  Needless to say, a quiet snowshoe in the woods with another moose sighting was a magical experience.

Now I find myself in a quiet place; between the chaos of the holiday shipping/creating rush and the next cycle of sales.  I have taken this time to rest, actually.  But now I find that it's time to clean up the studio and get my finances in order.  Tonight I am excited to go see a seminar called, "Sacred Economics," which is being led by Charles Eisenstein.  I'm interested in what he has to say because I feel that my business model does not fit neatly into the conventional mold, and truth be told, I don't want it to.  Mr. Eisenstein asserts that an economic model that encourages community, conservation, quality of life and love is a more sustainable model than the one that is currently promoted.  I believe that with all my heart; the question is: how to implement it and still make a living?  How can I bring this into my personal and professional financial life?  I can't wait to find out!  I will report back with what I learn.

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.

Add caption

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)