I wrote about my new favorite pattern, Amy Butler’s Barcelona skirt, at the Coats & Clark Sewing Secrets blog this week. This is a really joyful sewing project and it was fun to share some tips for making a simplified one-layer version of this pretty skirt, perfect for spring. I also love Flea Market Fancy and was so happy to sew my seventh Barcelona in the green leaf print!
Pearl’s skirt is Anna Maria Horner’s lovely Mind’s Eye print in violet (from Field Study). She loves it so much. It’s one of the half-yard skirts I have been super addicted to sewing.
We’re back to lots of rain and tights weather this week, but my garden sure is happy. We have tons and tons of greens, and lots of sugar snap peas too (I need to reinforce that trellis with sturdy twine and little stakes, but with two curious kids in the mix, nothing stays where I last put it and the enticing roll of twine walked off some time ago. But the peas don’t care). I added a new herb garden mini-annex a few weeks ago that I love. I was walking into New Seasons, got my head turned by this collection of Drunken Botanist herb sets (grown in Oregon!), and bought two – Southern Belle’s Whiskey Garden and Mixologist’s Simple Syrups. Looking forward to trying some new things for cocktails and cooking. I want to get her book, too…
I’m still getting used to the new flickr but yielded to its pushy demand for a bigger, “better” profile picture. I already miss the little teeny 2005 thumbnail of me with my knitted pig phone cozy – I love that thing even if it is now a lo-res artifact. Oh well, I am now 2013 me over there.
This spring has kind of brought a bit of everything at once – rainy, then sunny, then rainy again… crazy busy, then blissed out on vacation, then back to the laptop… sewing, cooking, gardening, a long-awaited new fence, birthdays, and bagels! I have a lot of catching up to do, so I wanted to share some of my May favorites (so far).
The first Friday of the month, I took an amazing class from my friend Heather and learned how to make homemade bagels – such a great morning. I wasn’t sure I could duplicate her magic and skill at home, but sure enough, my first two dozen bagels (half sesame, half plain) following her recipe and tips turned out pretty perfect. I’m in love. Thank you, Heather!!
Then, my sweet Pearl turned four (!) so I just had to drop everything else and make her a birthday skirt. I fell in love with an apron at a vintage store in Silverton last month, and cut it up to make the cutest little skirt for her. She’s a big girl now who won’t wear anything except exactly what she wants to, so I kind of held my breath while she opened the new tote bag I sewed her to see what was inside…
but she loved it and put it right on for her birthday party and beyond. Happiness! I also got to make my favorite cupcakes (with purple frosting, by request) and a “triple berry cake” (aka blueberry boy bait + raspberries + marionberries). The girl loves her sweets, and you only turn four once.
I forgot to get a first-day shot of planting my garden this spring, but this is about three or four weeks in (I started later than usual, after an epically rainy March). Everything is loving it so far – from left to right, it’s spinach, mustard greens, dinosaur kale, white russian kale, and chard. I have beets and leeks in a smaller bed and I’m hoping to put in my tomatoes soon too, then summer squash a little later on. Tucked behind all the greens, which you can’t really see, I finally took my herbs out of all their random-sized containers and dug them into a real garden bed. I also rescued my little blueberry bushes and pomegranate from the relentless grass invasion all that rain brought, and we have about two dozen tiny Bartlett pears nestled in on our tree! I’m pretty excited… almost five years into living in our house, I feel like my yard is finally becoming what I hoped for, after a lot of baby steps forward (most recently, a birthday sandbox and a new fence!). We have flowers, native plants, and succulents planted on one side of the house, and herbs, berries, and the vegetable garden on the other.
We went away with the kids for a very needed long weekend to Mt. Hood on Wednesday and stayed at the sweetest cabin. Such a beautiful place, right on a creek, with a hammock and a hot tub and green everywhere you looked.
Along with lots of easy 18-month-old-friendly hikes, splashing in the Columbia River, skipping stones in the creek, and getting an ice cream cone in Hood River, we headed up to Timberline Lodge for a grilled cheese (Pearl and Everett) and a glass of wine (me and Andrew) and spent half an hour gazing out the window at this view. The photo above is just a regular old iPhone snapshot, no editing or anything.
This second one is a Hipstamatic from the same spot. (I find it totally impossible to stop taking photos of Mt. Hood.) Bonus – I just learned from Merritt that those amazing cloud formations we were admiring, gracefully skirting the summit, are called lenticular!
I bought this dreamy little succulent dish garden with two teeny cairns and a few seashells mixed in at the Saturday Market in Hood River. So beautiful! I wish the vendor (Rose) had a card so I could credit her, but she said she was just getting started and this was her first event ever…
Midway through our idyllic getaway was a really awesome May PMQG meeting I drove back for. I am so excited that Nancy finished quilting my Oceanside quilt and I got to share it at show and tell! She did a really cool all-over quilting pattern of waves with three whales here and there – a small, medium, and big one. I love whales so much and this was just perfect.
If anyone is interested in the process, I’m hoping to write up a longer post about how I made Oceanside… and it will be at Sisters so I’m very excited about that!
Hopefully I’ll have a side-by-side photo of the quilt with the Oceanside sign that inspired it to share soon too…
I’m super excited at Ethel’s news this week: Portland’s beloved Knittn Kitten has a new Etsy shop — perfect for those who can’t get to the brick and mortar shop often enough!
In other news, I made these lovely raspberry-yogurt popsicles this week after we picked berries a couple times, and they have been a huge hit. Two thumbs up for sure. Next I want to try Caitlin‘s trick of using blueberries instead — and speaking of, I made this all-time favorite again last week (with Pearl’s help) and it was amazing as always.
Once summer finally kicked in around here, it’s been so nice to be outside. I’m happy to have lots of squash flowers and four baby zucchinis (and counting, hopefully), a whole bunch of green tomatoes coming along, more kale than we can keep up with, and a freezer full of berries. Two-year-olds and relaxing stretches of sewing time aren’t so compatible, but cooking with my little apprentice has been fun lately!
I closed comments and drew two random gardening book winners on Friday afternoon, but things have been crazy busy around here since then, so I’m sorry to keep everyone who commented waiting til now! The winners of The Western Garden Book of Edibles and Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades are:
#15 – Gillian, who said
We just made some raised beds, and these books would be perfect for my inaugural gardening adventure. I will be growing (if things go well) strawberries, tomatoes of all kinds, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and a bunch of herbs. Crossing my fingers!
#33: Pam, who said
Whew! Am I glad i just ran across this! Not much time to spare!
What a great giveaway, Susan. Thank you.
We are currently enjoying the flowers on our reblooming lilac bush. And even though we promised ourselves we were only growing tomatoes and cucumbers this year, we lost our resolve at the garden store and are also growing zucchini, tomatillos, rosemary, and Anaheim chile peppers. We have mint, Greek and Turkish oregano and garlic chives that wintered over and we discovered a large pot sprouting potatoes my sweetie had forgotten he planted! So – way more than we planned!
I am emailing you both for your addresses now!
Thank you SO much to everyone who commented and shared their garden plans… I was so happy to read about them and hear what folks are planning. I really wish I had a book for everyone! I hope we can stay in touch about how all our summer gardens go… thank you for reading along with my gardening posts.
And speaking of giveaways, I am excited to pass on that Vickie Howell is hosting a whole month of them to celebrate her new book, Craft Corps! Today’s is fantastic — a Handmade Nation DVD from Faythe Levine!
Craft Corps is fantastic and inspiring, with profiles of 60 crafters and longer interviews with 30 professional crafters, from Denyse Schmidt to Natalie Zee Drieu. I am very honored to be included! Be sure to comment over there to enter today’s giveaway, and then tomorrow’s will give you the chance to win a copy of Button It Up! I will post more on that, and a full Craft Corps review, tomorrow — I would love for someone I know from over here to win my button book.
I was very excited to review two of my favorite gardening books for CRAFT: this week — The Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles: The Complete A-Z Guide to Growing Your Own Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits,
The publishers have generously offered up a copy of each one for a giveaway! Just leave a comment on this post by 5pm Pacific time Friday, April 23rd (with a valid email address in your profile – no need to also include it in your comment itself). Optional: let me know what you’re growing this year, or share a gardening tip!
I’ll draw two names randomly and notify the winners soon after the deadline. US addresses only, and one comment per person, please.
Hello! I wanted to post about a whole bunch of different things today, but first, a huge thank-you for the kind comments and notes about my Easter craft projects, garden stuff, and recipes over the last week or two. I really appreciate them! It’s been so nice to share a few things I’m excited about, after being too busy for fun stuff for all these months, and hearing that people like them has been so great.
Speaking of garden stuff, here’s how things look for mine now that we’re in week 2. Not a ton of progress, but the plants look pretty happy, so I’m happy too. My herbs (the row of containers behind the bed) are mostly doing awesome, but I managed to kill a brand-new dill start in just a couple of days. Oh well.
I also have another gardening how-to up over at CRAFT: – some simple recycled garden tricks to try. Personally, I would love to walk into Portland Nursery and snap up all kinds of new things more often, but reusing things I already have around the house is a frugal (and easy) alternative, and leaves more cash for say, fabric. If you’re interested, the piece is right here! I’ll be posting one more round of gardening stuff this week with a giveaway, too, which I’m super excited about.
Dipping back into recipes and cooking, I wanted to share one of my favorite things for planning meals and grocery shopping: this great shopping list I found in Kate Pruitt’s DIY column at Design*Sponge. I printed a bunch of them (there are three options, each a little different, and this one works best for me) and start one every week as I decide what I want to cook, and note what we’re running out of. This one (decorated by Pearl, in red), is a mix of basics to get and stuff I’d need for these recipes: cheesecake brownies, pigs in blankets, vegetarian posole, asparagus farro risotto (from Edible Portland), and spring minestrone (from this month’s Sunset).
And back to crafts with Pearl, we collaborated on a fun little project yesterday! We hosted a crafty baby shower (which was my excuse to bake those pigs in blankets and cheesecake brownies) and I made the project on the left, and she dreamed up the one on the right. Andrew asked her what we should put on the bib for her new little friend-to be, and she said, “A BLUE bib!” so that’s what we did. She designed, Andrew cut and I appliqued… doesn’t get much more blue bib than that!
A few more things…
•Crafty Wonderland is coming up on May 1 + 2! They are looking for volunteers to help out in general, and to teach crafts at the event, in exchange for fun crafty gifts. You can sign up here to help! And in other exciting news, superstar Mark Montano is going to team up with DIY Lounge for a free craftathon at the sale — you won’t want to miss that!
•Jeff of Portland Haiti Container Relief announced a little while ago that the two giant shipping containers full of food, water, supplies, and good wishes from Portland have arrived safely and Lifeline has been distributing it all – wonderful news. Thanks so much to those who donated so generously! There’s also another fundraiser/event coming up soon too (a documentary at the Bagdad to raise money for 500 dome tents) if you’re interested.
•Another update for everyone who supported our efforts to get the BPA ban passed here in Oregon: I’m very happy to pass on that both the House and the Senate have introduced new federal legislation, the Safe Chemicals Act, this week! If you have a minute and would like to sign a petition of support, that would be awesome. You can find the petition here and a few updates about the Safe Chemicals Act here. I was so disappointed that our state’s bill failed, but strong federal laws would be even better.
Okay, I’ll be back with that giveaway soon! I hope Monday is treating you well. I have to say that this has been a good week so far, we are happy here in Portland!
Thanks to my collaborator Patrick Vinograd, expert wielder of a table saw, for all of his help. I wanted to share ideas for the simplest possible 8-by-4-foot bed to make quickly and affordably, so you have more time (and cash) for your gardening, and improving on the first bracketed raised bed Andrew and I made last year. This was a really fun and super quick project and it is so exciting to have two raised beds now, double the space for planting!
Here’s what I planted on Saturday:
9 Red Russian kales
6 rainbow chards
3 collard greens
3 clumps of leeks
The other raised bed will be tomatoes and zucchini (in May) — I had various greens in it last year and wanted to rotate the plantings completely to rest the soil.
I’m hoping this year is good. I feel like I learn a lot every summer and hopefully can do things better each time I try. Last year I started off with one pretty packed raised bed, planted April 15: kale, chard, sugar snap peas, collards, onions, broccoli and cabbage. The kale and collards were total successes (yay!).
The peas, onions, broccoli, and cabbage were okay — not huge producers, but we got some nice things here and there. And the chard was a disaster, it came down with something yucky pretty quickly and I took it out within the first two weeks and thinned and moved my other stuff around. So this year, I went with lots of kale (my favorite) and a fair amount of collards (though I like them a thousand times more than I did as a kid, pushing them around on my plate at holidays, they aren’t as enjoyable to eat daily), and I’m trying a new chard with my fingers crossed. I added leeks for something new, even though they’re kind of in reverse season — just an experiment, really. I also spaced things more generously this time, instead of trying to fit everything in so tightly. Oh yeah, everything is organic, and I bought it all at New Seasons this time.
I’m excited to try putting in some new heirloom tomatoes next month. Last year we put six different tomatoes in the yard behind the bed, along with some peppers and a single delicata squash. Our yard is still coming back from 50 years of spraying, so no matter how much I amended everything, they weren’t super happy. The tomatoes did okay, the peppers weren’t so excited about things (it’s not really a pepper climate, either), and the delicata yielded about four squash (which were delicious) out of maybe two dozen pretty little flowers. I’m hoping the raised bed and the nice 4-way soil will be a happier home for the next round.
Anyway! We’ll see. I’m already kind of nervous because my starts spent longer inside than I’d hoped due to our chilly, windy, rainy early April, and they’re a bit droopy after their confinement. But you couldn’t ask for a nicer, milder, sun-and-rain mix than these last few days so hopefully they’ll forgive me soon.
I have another gardening article going up soon, too – I’ll keep you posted! And I would love to hear what you’re planting this spring.