Today I’m writing in honor of my friend Julie Forward DeMay and her memoir, Cell War Notebooks – today is a blog-athon organized by Indies Forward and I asked to join as well. Julie’s book was made from seven months of her blog posts, telling the story of her journey with cervical cancer. It’s beautiful, honest, funny, full of love and so, so hard to read at times – I just want the ending to be different, so badly. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I hope that you read it, too. And as Indies Forward says…
What if you couldn’t promote your book? Not everyone gets that chance. Our indie-ninja-in-spirit Julie Forward DeMay dreamed of being a published author, and in 2011 her first book was released — two years after Julie (a daughter, sister, wife, and mother) lost her battle with cancer.
In a couple weeks, it will be sixteen years since I landed here in Portland. The first morning I was here, I went for a walk and got a cup of coffee in the rain. The very first store I walked into was a little record store called Q is for Choir. I set my coffee down and started flipping through records, and it was sometime in that magical hour that I realized that I was home, and that if I loved Portland in February when it was wet and dark and cold, it was the place for me.
I met Julie through a bunch of mutual friends sometime a couple years after that. I loved her photography and we sold our stuff at a few of the same art shows and craft fairs. I remember buying a couple of her prints and loving them. This top one is called “Trapeze” and I don’t think the other, of train tracks, had a name. We were never super close friends, but I always liked her so much, was always so happy to see her at a party or an art show or her shop. She was a bright light and a huge talent, one of the people who made Portland special.
Julie and her husband Scott bought Q is for Choir a few years later, and they made it such a cool place… they carried zines (they sold my husband Andrew‘s eBay PowerSeller guide), art shows, books (I got my Ex Libris Anonymous spiral-bound family cookbook there) and lots and lots of records. Julie (whose adorable daughter Luka is a few years older than Pearl) had created such a great kids’ section, I always found some treasures there with her guidance. Here are a couple of my favorites she helped me pick out.
I was out for a walk with baby Pearl one afternoon early in 2009 and we saw Julie on Clinton St., walking to work. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked how she was doing. She said that her cervical cancer had come back after nearly a year of remission, but she was doing everything she could to take care of herself and beat it again. I told her that my mom is a cancer survivor, four times over, and that love and support from her friends had meant so much, and I’d be honored to help in any way I could. She told me that she’d started writing a blog to share updates and her story for everyone, and I started reading it, and like so many of her friends, left her little porch presents and sending cards, cheering her on, visiting her at the shop, hoping so much that her bravery and strength would win.
The last time I saw Julie was at her opening for a show of her photographs that summer. I got to tell her how much I loved them – they were all lights and colors and beautiful-ness. Andrew and I bought this one. I sure wish I could get a good photo of it for you, today. It’s just so luminous and serene and warm and energetic all at once. I hope you can see a bit of that even in these off-kilter snapshots, with the reflections and angles. Every time I see it now in my house, it makes me happy. I’m thankful to her for capturing that image and sharing it with the rest of us.
Julie was a photographer, writer, mother, wife, friend and record store owner. Her amazing blog has become a book, self-published by her family, with all proceeds going to her beloved Luka (who is now nine). You can buy it here and find out much more about it here, and you can see all of the Indie Forward posts linked here.
That spring of 2009, my third book, Button It Up, came out, and I brought a copy of it over for Julie and Luka. Julie was so excited for me, and her kind words meant a lot. She asked what it was like to have your own book in your hands. I’m shy, even around friends, and probably to a fault never want it to seem like I’m bragging – I feel so lucky and thankful for the chance to write, but I downplayed it a little bit, not wanting to seem cocky. But now, holding Julie’s book in my hands, I wish I could somehow go back to that conversation with her and be more brave, and say instead – it’s awesome. The chance to have your very own book out in the world is wonderful. And I am so proud of Julie and her beautiful book, and very thankful to her family for bringing it to life on the page. I wish she were here to tell you about it herself. But I am honored to be one of the ones talking about her, and her book, today.
PS: Q is for Choir has now become Clinton St. Record and Stereo, and along with records, they specialize in stellar vintage record players and audio equipment. Aaron recently fixed my static-y early-70s Pioneer receiver and it has never sounded better. I love the shop and I’m so happy to be able to walk over, after all these years.
Hello again! I’ve been hoping to post here and there but I’ve been swamped the last few weeks with a very cute baby keeping me busy. The only things I’ve had time to do that seem crafty-photo/post-worthy is some holiday decorating and Crafty Wonderland shopping… oh, and I baked a lot of Christmas cookies to go with our local baby thank-you notes, but better photos of those will hopefully come along on a less gray day. My food photography needs all the help it can get.
We got a real live tree for the first time ever! I’m pretty excited. Somehow we filled all eight feet of it up with my handmade and vintage ornaments collection. LOVE seeing them all. Our little silver tree, which is now in the rec room, was getting so crowded. I also hung the stockings — this is a major before picture, since I still need to make Everett’s. (And I also want to decorate the mantel and sew a tree skirt.)
I’m trying to decide on a good background color for his stocking, having used a lot of my favorites on our first three… light green, light blue or red seem to be my main contenders. Pearl wanted purple for his but that’s not a color I’m crazy about so I kind of overruled her. I think I might do an animal theme. My deadline is Christmas Eve, of course, so hopefully I’ll have a photo to share soon!
Andrew, Everett and I also went to Crafty Wonderland last weekend which was awesome. We got some good holiday shopping done and found a few treasures for ourselves too.
-2 t-shirts from Monsieur T. (gifts – plus two more that I’m picking up at the Crafty Wonderland Pop-Up Shop this week)
-Portland pennant from Bishop Art (keeping this one!!)
-monster t-shirt from Dishy Duds (for Pearl, to replace her outgrown 18-24m one, yay)
-coloring book from S. Britt (also for Pearl)
And then there were these lovelies…
-everything is going to be okay print from Seattle Show Posters (for us!)
-500 worst passwords print from Kate Bingaman-Burt (a gift)
-cardinal prints from Berkley Illustration (for Pearl!)
-Oregon Coast calendar from Red Bat Press (for me! an annual necessity)
I came up with some cute button-craft holiday gift packaging for cookies and other small things, so I will be back with photos of that, I hope soon… if this weather ever lets up again while I have the camera and not the baby.
ps: Thank you SO much for the congratulations for Everett! He is awesome.
I went to Target this week for some household necessities but what I was really looking for was the new Orla Kiely home collection… and yay, there it was! If you’re in Portland, I had luck at the 205 location. It’s all on an endcap near the ironing boards upstairs, and they had a pretty good mix of the tan and brown colorways (no blue pieces when I went, bummer). I got two hanging bags, a desk tray, and a small tapered tote, which are all holding various craft supplies I especially love.
I wrote up more about the crafty storage end of things at CraftStylish, but I thought I’d post the photos over here too. I also got a laundry bag in the same pattern as the desk tray, which I haven’t adapted for crafty misuse yet.
If you are also an Orla fan, have you seen this flickr group? There is some gorgeous stuff of hers in there! I am eager to see the kitchen + entertaining line in person (I’ve seen a sneak peek at trays, aprons, and some other cool pieces) — that apparently will come out in mid-February. There’s a lot of it up on eBay already too, tempting…
Sarah took me to the Blazers game last night (a surprising victory over the Pistons — woo hoo!) and surprised me with this excellent hand-screened Channing Frye shirt. So cool! I’m hoping it isn’t really cursed…
In a nutshell for the crafty multitudes who are not Blazers fans, Channing kind of translates everything I love about Portland directly into human form. He is the star of the city recycling-rules booklet, he enthuses about restaurants he checks out, he loves to go to the coast, and he blogs about all these things. After a strong start, he has not had an easy time of it in the Blazers rotation lately, though, and I worry that he’s going to be traded soon. What can I say, I like the guy, and I love the current Blazers line-up just as it is (with Martell Webster and Brandon Roy back from injuries soon, knock on wood) so I’m hoping against hope that the trade deadline comes and goes with no action taken, and a revitalized #44 in the mix. Sarah has much, much more to say about this, with a lot more context, so I’ll just send you over to her and to this great Willamette Week article.
Back to crafts: be sure and check out all the screenprinting projects the unstoppable sewer-sewist crafty duo have pulled off lately, along with the eponymous sewing, Obama-ing, and skateboard revamping. Awesome!
Yesterday I sewed something for fun (instead of a deadline) for the first time in at least six months. Things have been so crazy lately, and my old craft room-turned-Pearl’s room has been endlessly in progress with piles of stuff (hers and mine) all over the sewing table. I’ve had my one and only nursery project halfway done for months and haven’t touched it since she came home from the hospital. But! This week first my Aunt Susan and now my mom have been visiting and I’ve had a chance to get things organized and yes, actually make something for the house.
We started moving my craft stuff upstairs to the cute little bedroom, which I’m so excited about. With all the new space to iron and cut tempting me, I set up my sewing machine again and stitched up a quick muslin swaddling blanket for a friend’s baby. And then I got out the cushions project I abandoned in April and actually finished it. Yay!
I found this rocking chair for $12 at the Goodwill in Centralia, Washington, when I was a few months along. I really liked it but sitting in it for more than a few minutes was kind of unforgiving — I wanted to make a soft cushion-y liner so it could be a cozy place to hang out with the baby. Months passed and finally, between work projects, I measured it and made some quick newspaper patterns for tie-on pillows for the back and seat. I picked out a vintage sheet (the duplicate of one that was on my bed when I was little) and got some ribbon and some sheets of thick foam at JoAnn on sale. I even cut the foam to size using the patterns so it was ready to go. And then I ran out of time and packed it away.
So yesterday afternoon, I finally set everything out and cut and pressed the fabric, stitched it and placed the ribbons at the corners, stuffed it with two layers of foam and some batting in between, and sewed up the open sides… and it’s done! I tied it right on to the chair and it’s so comfortable and cozy. I wish it hadn’t taken me three months of Pearl to actually finish it, it would have been sweet to rock her in it the very first day she was home, but it’s lovely to finally have it done.
If anyone wants a (rough) tutorial I can post more detail on how I did it — just let me know!
In other news, Detour Cafe is now officially my favorite walk-to in our neighborhood. I ordered my huevos rancheros without cilantro last week (it tastes like soap to me, unfortunately) and here’s how I knew they didn’t forget:
It’s a fairly unexciting day here weather-wise, but with the longer, brighter spring days approaching, and daffodils and even some little azalea buds peeking out already in our yard, I have just fallen in love with these gorgeous spring-y crafty things my friends Jessica and Christina are making!
I have two of Jessica’s chocolate bunnies and they are the cutest things ever. I love all the great color combinations she’s made this year, along with the rest of her amazing stuff!
And Christina’s jewelry is so lovely… the new bird earrings she’s been making are especially charming.
I could just look at those super cute photos all day — I think I’m particularly starved for pretty things since I’m down to stretchy clothes only and there’s a total lack of vintage and handmade cuteness in my current wardrobe. I’ve been wearing totinette earrings and Charcoal Designs necklaces to counterbalance the plainness, since bright, pretty colors and interesting shapes just look so good after the unrelenting stretchy t-shirt/sweater + maternity pants/skirt combination day after day. Oh well, only five weeks or so to go, and then I get to have fun with baby clothes! They’re considerably more exciting than late maternity options, to say the least…
Andrew and I unpacked a lot more stuff this weekend (including 40 or 50 boxes of books-!) and I had fun making some little arrangements of collectibles here and there. It’s been three years since we lived somewhere with enough space to have my favorite things out instead of mostly boxed up and I was pretty excited to unpack them and arrange them in little mixes! All the details are in the flickr descrips, just click on them to see what’s what if you’re interested.
In the kitchen:
In the dining room:
In the pink princess bathroom:
And on my dresser:
I have a ton of stuff to do today but after I cross enough work things off my list, I plan to attack the craft room again. I had a little light bulb moment, and I’m going to try to pretty up the blah cardboard boxes that fit into an Expedit so nicely. Let’s see if it works!
Thanks so much for the nice comments and emails about my new craft room! I’m so excited to have more work space, but almost more so to get the big stuff I don’t use everyday stashed in the basement, and out of my way — so I’m not navigating around bolts of fabric or bins of lip balm supplies to get to my sewing machine (which was an everyday menace in our old place). Since the room is so big, it’s actually going to be dual-purpose and the shelves and work tables will be for crafting, while the area closer to the door will be dedicated to other stuff (more on this later when I get things set up and can show photos).
I’m slowly but surely plugging away at reorganizing and putting things away, and after a couple of years of looking on eBay and scouring Portland craigslist I spotted a vintage card catalog section this week. I’m so excited! I have always wanted one and the ones I found online were usually pick-up only or $100 shipping from the East Coast or Midwest. And this one was just twenty minutes away!
I am going to relabel it soon once I figure out exactly what will be in each drawer (Tricia’s card catalog-turned-craft-wonderland has always been super inspiring) but in the meantime I really liked this random little alphabetical trainwreck:
I had such a great time in Los Angeles the week before Thanksgiving — and of course one of the biggest highlights was teaching, shopping, and hanging out at the magnificent Felt Club Holiday XL event! The night before, I helped tireless organizer Jenny stuff goodie bags for the first 250 shoppers (everyone got a copy of Adorn, and there were also lovely giveaways from Chronicle Books, Sublime Stitching, and Bossa Nova Baby, among many others).
Alexis and I got there bright and early to help with goodie bag detail, and I got a chance to walk around early, before the crowds poured in at 11. I snapped pictures for my upcoming indie fashion article for BurdaStyle, and got to see lots of friends and some of my favorite crafty vendors from near and far.
I got to meet Monica of White Peacock Designs and see one of her lovely tiaras in person — hi Monica!
My Bead Simple demo started at 1:00, and it turned out to be amazing. It had filled up well in advance and then another 20 or so people showed up as well! I wrote up a recap over at Bead Simple with more photos in case you’re interested… here are my little handmade necklace and earrings kits and some photos of me with my fabulous students, modeling their new earrings (bottom left) and necklaces (bottom right). Thank you so much to everyone who came to the class!
Once the class was over and I was a free woman again, I got to walk around to check out Maker Square and shop. I won’t post photos of the gifts I found, but here are some of the non-surprises I can show off:
I love Cathy of California‘s work — it is so amazing. I found two bundles of vintage fabric (from her mother’s collection) and this fantastic ribbon straw flower kit with loom. I also got one of her handmade ribbon straw brooches and wore it all day (as you can see on me above).
…and this sweet sock monkey card case from Textile Fetish, and the vintage scissor-print sunglasses case from Jekbot. I also got several packages of her lavender shortbread but those vanished long before I had a chance to photograph them!
I also picked out this stunning carnelian necklace from Hannahmade. I absolutely love carnelians and I thought this piece was gorgeous!
I was about to pass out by the time we left, but it was an amazing day! Thank you again to Jenny for inviting me to teach and I can’t wait until my next visit to Los Angeles.
Diane and I went to Amy Karol‘s Bend-the-Rules Sewing book party at Bolt last week and it was so much fun! As promised, Amy had plates of donuts out for everyone to enjoy and prizes for the first five crafters with completed projects in hand. I really love her book, so it was a lot of fun to come to her party and see some of the gorgeous finished projects…
My lovely friend Daphne was in town from Seattle and brought in her beautiful lap quilt, which is shown off here with its handsome recipient, her nephew Henry, and a little corner of the fabulous prize she received: a Small Object needlecase and some of Amy’s beautiful notecards!
I got to see Melissa and Sam, meet Sally for the first time, and chat with Mariko, who had been back from Japan all of 12 hours or so at this point. Instead of falling prey to exhaustion and jet lag (as I am sure I would after that flight!), she was polishing off multiple donuts with impressive enthusiasm. I can personally attest to how fantastic the donuts were.
Amy was such a delight! I had never gotten to meet her in person until now, but she is the sweetest, loveliest person and it was so nice to get to say hi and chat while she signed my book. Thank you, Amy! If you’re interested, her super nice write-up and pictures are here.