Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hmmmm...  if I continue this trend, my next entry will be "Merry Christmas!"  I haven't been in the mood for blogging, but I had a lot of fun tonight pretending like I was a chocolate maker.  These are the truffles I'm going to take to Thanksgiving at my uncle's house tomorrow.  I used the very straightforward and easy method here.  For coatings I chose walnut, plain powdered sugar, coconut, and cinnamon.  It was fun improvising the box to transport and serve them in, too... it is a previously owned and used Sacher-Torte box from Vienna, lined with wax paper and modified with hand cut cardboard dividers, also covered in wax paper.  I also made a chocolate pie for my grandpa, and an appetizer of dried dates stuffed with pistachios and then wrapped in apricots and bacon.  Tomorrow is going to be fun!  Then I will buckle down and finish getting ready for the Charlottesville Waldorf School Holiday Bazaar, where I'll be a vendor on December 6th & 7th.  Last year it was really good, so I'm happily anticipating this year's!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday evening I carved this pumpkin and roasted its seeds.  Mmmm!!  I think there might be all kinds of fancy ways to roast seeds, but I just put mine, fresh and slimy from the pumpkin, right on a sided tray lined with parchment paper, then sprinkle some sea salt and add some butter, pop them in the oven around 350 and stir them every so often until they are golden and crispy.  My pumpkin looks kind of creepy... if you can tell, it's supposed to be an owl, and unintentionally, he took on a kind of menacing feel... but I still like him, and the process of carving a pumpkin, in my opinion, is one of the best things for the spirit... the crack of the pumpkin when you first open the top, its earthy smell and slithery insides.... I love it all!  It's not too late if you haven't done it yet this year!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

sugar maples, pocket warmers & cedar sachets

Today is beautiful.  Sunny, crisp, and clear with a breeze carrying leaves and their sweet smell, almost like dried apricots.  I've also got my new winter pocket warmer and cedar sachet designs ready!

The cedar sachets feature the bobwhite quail, and are filled with Orange, Va cedar shavings.

The pocket warmers are filled with u.s.a.-grown rice infused with pure lavender oil and a sprinkling of organic French lavender.

These are the coziest in winter... you just heat them in for a few seconds in the microwave or on a radiator and then pop them into your coat pockets before going out in the cold, and then it feels like your pockets are full of warm (lavender-smelling) sunshine, even on the grayest day or bitterest night!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

happiness all around

Despite all the wisdom about creating your own happiness homeostasis from within, sometimes life just feels plain gross, and it's hard to think otherwise.  And then sometimes happiness just keeps doing jumping jacks all around you.  I am pleased to say that I've been experiencing lots of happiness lately.  Not only are a pair of screech owls living in my yard (sorry no pictures, but I did see them and do hear them!), but I've also been regularly hearing a fox barking around midnight through my open window while I'm reading in bed.  Last night I went out to my parents' house to wash and iron fabric and I finished around 11:30.  The fog was so magnificently low and thick when I went out to my car to drive home, and I heard a barred owl calling persistently out at the edge of the woods.  And then, I rode my bike around town for errands this morning and evening... and there isn't anything much nicer in life than riding a bike around town.  You can see and smell and hear everything so much more vividly, and it is so freeing to pedal yourself and feel so happy to be healthy and energetic enough to propel forward into the wind!  This morning there were all kinds of delightful incidences... like the older lady at the post office who was so chipper and full of things to say, and then the two old men in the McDonald's parking lot, one sitting in his worn out truck (with a little brown lap dog lounging extravagantly over the back of the bench seat), and gesturing wildly to another man across to way to guide him in un-stucking a big branch out from under his truck.  And then this evening, after a good day of sewing and folding note cards, I rode my bike to the grocery store and the library.  Sometimes I feel nervous gearing up to do the hill in front of the railroad tracks... it is especially steep with baskets full of groceries, but it feels so good to get home with jelly legs and know you are hungry and have food to eat!  And speaking of the railroad tracks (which run right in front of my house), today I looked up from the sewing machine to see a series of old train cars - like from the Seaboard Air Line Railway (why I don't know?)... and they made me happy, too.  Wouldn't it be fun to take a nice, long ride on a train with a dining car, a good book, and unexpectedly good conversations with strangers?!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thank you

 It has been such a full few weeks, I don't know where to begin or what to say.  Most of all, I am very very thankful for all the people who came to my open house show and sale September 21 & 22, and who were so enthusiastic, and supportive and encouraging. (Not least of all my mom and dad, brother, cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents who all worked nearly to death to help me make it happen!) I didn't know if anyone would come, and when the cars started rolling in, I got so excited I think I probably acted like I was missing a quite a few brain cells.  But it was SO EXCITING I couldn't help myself!  And guess who was there all the way from Connecticut?  My extraordinary painting teacher, Mrs. Emerson!!  It is very disappointing that we forgot to get a picture there together.  (The aforementioned missing brain cells). I just snapped a few pictures, but I will be adding a bunch to my website soon.  Thank you again to everyone who was there!

Then I didn't know if I would have the energy, but at the last minute, I decided to do a booth at the 2nd annual Shabby Love barn sale, right in the town of Orange on Church Street.  Below are a few photos from my spot at the barn sale this past Saturday.  It was a cloudy day, but there wasn't a drop of rain, and it was fun and a good crowd came to look at the many vendors with all kinds of interesting wares.  I only wish I'd worn wool socks.  I have to thank my parents again, because they started helping me move furniture there before the sun even came up.  It was very hard work... and even harder packing up and moving all the leftover furniture back into my apartment at the end of the day. (Up a long uneven pathway, a huge antebellum porch staircase, then a narrow creaky inside staircase).  Somehow we did it, and now I have my own very unique furniture store, open by appointment only.  Feel free to write if anybody wants to come over and look for a one-of-a-kind piece ;)

Now, I am planning to have a booth space at the Montpelier races November 2nd... and I'm very nervous I won't have enough time to get ready!  But I will try.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

open house show and sale, Sept. 21 & 22!

If I were a really good blogger, I would've been diligently sharing photos over the last few weeks... of the piles of fabric, and of how it looked when I was frantically scrambling around my living room on my hands and knees with a big sponge, racing the clock to adhere a wallpaper sample to a board that covered the whole floor, of the different pillows as I completed them, or scraggy "before" photos of the furniture alongside the finished pieces all sanded, polished and recovered... but I didn't do any of that.  I've been too caught up in the process of getting ready for the show to stop and record it all.  Today I'm going to my mom's house to make quadruple batches of 3 kinds of cookie dough, which we'll freeze and then be baking at the end of next week to serve at the show!  (shortbread, pecan cookies, and chewy ginger cookies with crystallized ginger!) If I'm really good, maybe I will take and share some sneak preview pictures in the next 10 days.  Otherwise, please come to the show if you can, to see it all in real life!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


There are only 18 days until the show.  I'm really tired... making this thing happen has been the biggest project challenge I've tackled yet.  I've had a few meltdowns and temper tantrums and fits of despair.  But overall, I am so, so excited!  
The September C'Ville Abode is out, and my wallpaper (lower left corner) made it in!  This is one of six designs that will be on display at the show.  Now I have to eat my dinner, and then I'm going to listen to Harry Potter audio recordings and stay up all night making lavender sachets!  Yippee!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

a moment to be still

These are pictures from May... when the peonies were in full bloom, and it had just gotten warm enough to open up all the windows and have the ceiling fan on all day and night.  I'd been lying on my couch eating a coconut poscicle in a rare moment of stillness before my painting students were due to arrive, and I decided that after I finished the popscicle I would get out my camera and take some pictures to remember the serenity and happiness I felt while sitting quietly in the spring sun and shadows in my apartment.  Now it is late August, and the crickets have already started their nighttime singing, heralding the coming of Fall.  Here are some nice thoughts if you have a moment to be still:

"The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest of all the details of daily life." 
-- William Morris

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
-- Virginia Woolf

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth.  We are happy when we are growing."
-- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I'd just like to officially announce that I designed and published a real website!  Please do check it out... and share it with others if you like it... and let me know if you have any suggestions... and please look at it again every so often because I'll be adding more photos and features (like an on-line shop) with time!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday, mid-morning

What's better than having two great girls painting watercolors at your table, listening to ABBA with all the windows open on a summer morning that feels like fall???

Thursday, August 8, 2013

food festival in Orange, 2013

The food festival is just two days away!  And I'm almost ready.  I'll be selling kitchen towels, cloth napkins, tablecloths, note cards and lavender sachets.  I'll finish a few more kitchen towels today, and then I can spend tomorrow doing all the fine tuning stuff... like getting change at the bank, making a final draft of my inventory list, and doing a mock set up of my tent so that things will flow more easily at 6:30 Saturday morning.  If things go like they usually do, I'll be so excited that I won't sleep very well at all on Friday night. Thankfully this has been a great year for cucumbers... so I can put some cold homegrown cucumber slices on my eyes on Saturday morning before leaving for the festival.

Hope you can come!  It's so much fun... lots to taste and see and hear.  Handmade cutting boards from the very talented Tina Boy, hickory syrup, local honey, incredible homemade popsicles, artisan cheeses, handmade sausages, pottery, cooking demonstrations, local fresh rainbow trout, plants, specialty cookbooks, mushroom growing kits, Virginia grown peanuts and grape juice, herbal teas... Blue Mountain Brewery and Albemarle Cider Works, local wine... grass fed beef, wood oven fired pizza... lavender lemonade... live music... How could you miss it??!!??

9 AM - 6 PM, August 10th
Taylor Park, Orange, VA

My post and some pictures from last year's food festival

Monday, July 22, 2013

time to officially spill the beans!

 My finger prints are almost sanded/stripped/scrubbed off...

I've been making frequent messes at my mom and dad's house (this is a pile of books and a bench turned upside down on some seat cushions that need to be weighted)...

And my own bedroom/workroom in my apartment is an overwhelming heap of down pillow inserts, fabric, threads, stacks of my paintings, etc...

But all of this chaos is because I'm planning a show!  On September 21 and 22, I'll be opening the barn on my parents' farm as a showroom... full of vintage furniture upholstered in my fabric designs, throw pillows, table linens, lavender sachets, wallpaper, bedding, wrapping paper and  hand towels all made from my fabrics.  There will even be a pyramid of lavender soaps made by my grandma Mimi and scented with the lavender oil  that came from the lavender my mom and I grew!

I've been conspiring to do this 'show' for a long time, and if you've been within 30 feet of me in the past six months or been my phone or pen pal, I'm sure you've already heard much more about it than you want.  I think I have a halo of anxiety.   Putting it all together is the biggest project I've tackled yet.  September is drawing near, and I still have a daunting amount of work to do.  Not to mention I'm more in debt than I have ever, EVER been.  EVER. And debt is something that drives me crazy.  I'm working my way (painstakingly) through the process of building a website...sewing in an 85 degree room... agonizing over which fabrics to match with which pieces of furniture... making new designs... refinishing furniture... designing new business cards... struggling with staple guns... and this week, among other things, I'll be experimenting with a 4' x 6' wall hanging.  I have pages of notes and lists and calculations and piles of receipts I'm trying to keep organized, and every once in a while when I haven't gotten enough sleep I get really grouchy and mean and afraid that things aren't going to come together in time.  But despite all the worry and labor in overdrive, I'm very excited.  It's going to be an open house.  So if you read this, please come to the show September 21 - 22 and bring anyone and everyone you want!  Directions and further details are coming!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

miracle on north madison street

At the end of May last year, I wrote a post about making lavender oil, and then I never followed up to say whether or not the experiment was a success (whoops).  It wasn't a complete failure, because I did end up with lavender 'water' which was very aromatic and great for adding to baths.  I don't think it could've been used for any other purpose (like ironing) because the lavender water I ended up with was tinged brown since it was essentially a marinade of lavender and vodka.  So, I made something nice to add to a hot relaxing bath, but that's it.  I did not end up with lavender oil.  HOWEVER, (!!!!) just last week, I really and truly did make real lavender essential oil.  Back in the winter when I was doing yard work with the man on the next block over, we had a few conversations about our mutual interest in essences.  He said he'd been curious about making perfumes for years, and I said I'd been wanting to make lavender oil for years.  Lo and behold, a few weeks ago this man bought a contraption for distilling essential oils, and one evening last week I rode my bike over to his house with a paper grocery bag full of the lavender I grew this year.  As the sun went down, we sat on the porch and waited for the water to boil and sure enough in good time, the oil evaporated with the steam and separated from the water and we really and truly extracted lavender oil.  It was dark when we finished (too dark to take further pictures), and I rode my bike home feeling giddy and so grateful that another one of my little scheme-dreams has been realized.  I'm going to give the oil to my grandma, and she is going to add it to a batch of soap she is making... so we'll have locally made soap scented with the lavender I grew.  Yippee!!  I can't thank the neighbor man enough... I hope he likes his new contraption as much as I do!

* a Post Script especially for D.F. if you're reading:  This neighbor man is your old friend D.D. (you know, he plays the bass and fixes clocks!)