Wednesday, October 29, 2008

last of the witchy-girls

Just finished photographing and listing the last of the witchy-girls in my Etsy shop. Aminita Witchgirl has her own jack-o-lantern, and my favorite detail, a wee tiny pennanular brooch fastening her embroidered overdress closed.
That's it for the Halloween/Samhain goodies for this year. Now to focus on the upcoming enameling classes, and holiday gift sale items. I'd best do another posting about the November classes; I listed the classes on "TeachStreet", but should re-list on Craigslist and maybe 3M... I think I kind of horrified the nice political canvasser this afternoon, she asked if I was interested on volunteering my time, and I said that since I had five (part-time) jobs I didn't really have much free time for suchlike.

My hens were worrying me a bit, not really eating well, and stopped laying. Then I realised that A - it is really getting dark early, and B - they are moulting. Their favorite hangout spot under the arborvitae is full of henfeathers. Just in time for the cold weather, silly girls.

I'm beginning to wonder if I am not having a new allergy instead of a series of colds... viral colds usually last more thatn a day or two, and I feel crappy, then better, every few days???. I'm so tired that I kept nodding off on the bus home from Sellwood this afternoon.

Am trying to decide about ordering fruit tree(s) from Friends of Trees. They have semi-dwarf Jonagolds, and Red Bartletts. On the plus side, they deliver and plant the trees for you, on the minus side, since they're yard trees rather than street trees, there is no subsidy, so the trees are 60$ each. Hmmm... and not much time to decide, as the supply of fruit trees they get is very limited. The Enterprise apples are already sold out.

New red shoes! I'd found some garnet color Keen "Seattle" maryjanes online in my size. As they are a two-years-ago discontinued style, (that just happens to fit my oddball feet) they were not too spendy. I have an odd response to the sense of coming financial hard times, I want to make sure that I have a pair or two of shoes stashed away. After all, I can make for myself pretty much every other clothing bit that I wear, from the skin out, but shoes that fit, and don't hurt, and support my feet are way beyond my skill level. So there is a pair of new red shoes in my shoe cubbies. The shoes that they sent me don't fit! They are marked the same size that I wear, and appear to be the same style, but are visibly smaller in size. I'm guessing that they are mis-marked. Now I am peeved instead of happy, I will probably have to pay to return the shoes that don't fit. As my late fiance would say GrumpGrumpGrump

I'm going to go take the dog for a walk and calm down, Then I'm going to clear off the dining table and finish the bird mobile that needs to get sent out tomorrow with the squares for the fabric swap. Then I'm going to bed...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

weekend progress

This second cold has really slowed me down. I took a carton of junk to Goodwill, and have been going through the myriad boxes of misc papers. Only two left to sort! I found a woodgrain glass ceiling light, that I 'd stashed in one of my kitchen cupboards, which is now a bowl on top of the fridge holding pears, apples and artichokes. Cleaning out the inside and top of the fridge was a Good Thing.

I have had several new ideas about how to set up areas of the house up in a more functional way. Thinking about a shelf-desk hung on the wall with brackets in the sewing/guest room. I had been thinking about using some Ikea butcherblock countertop, but realised that solid-core plywood would work quite well, and be much more affordable... I'm toying with the idea of covering the plywood with old sewing pattern instruction sheets, not sure if it is too "cutesy-scrapbooky" for my style.

I am really really bad at the de-cluttering thing, each time I do that I lose things I was trying to keep track of, very frustrating. What works for me is to set up places where things belong, so I can find them again.

I figured out that I might be able to hang my spider plant in the living room, if I can find a hanging plant pot that doesn't look awful, and move the other plants onto the dining table. I'm keeping my eyes open for some plant pots that will make them look less haphazard

Must go clear one little area today!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

meet little Damiana

I'm finishing up the last two Halloween/Samhain figurines for this year. Making these characters is a lot of fun, the kind of thing I really enjoyed as a child, and I still enjoy. Damiana is the smallest one, only 2 3/4" tall from her feet to her little felt cap with "devil horns". My front window is divided into six panels by a deep grid, perfect for setting up little vignettes, and (during the day) well lighted for taking photographs for my Etsy store where all these tiny folk are now available. I'm figuring out how to best use my camera, whilst it's not as fancy as some, it does a nice job on what I need it for.
Here is the whole tribe of little wryd sisters so far, Damiana with her big sister Belladonna, and friend witchHazel.
A close up of Damiana
I'm hoping to finish Aminita tonight, she only needs to have her hair and hat completed. I've a number of other tasks as well, like gluing together the wood molding layers needed to hold the chalkboard to the walls in the studio.

It's been a beautiful day. Two loads of laundry were sun-dried on the clothesline. My cold feels better when I'm outside in the cool clear sunny air, and I took advantage of the nice weather to go to the farmers market again. An enormous head of tah tsai, and more of the sweet tender Tillamook artichokes. Dinner tonight will be curried chicken and tah tsai (in the style of paalak paneer, still am gunshy about purchasing spinach, and didn't find any at the market) I'm trying a new recipe that I found online. When I have a cold, I like to eat spicy foods, my bottle of sweet chili sauce has been almost emptied in the last few weeks. Well, I'm off to go ride over to New Seasons and get some chicken for dinner, before the sun goes down...

Friday, October 24, 2008


I seem to have acquired more dang respiratory crud. Could this be somehow related to the disturbing of layers of dust bunnies and dog fur, or more likely the riding on the bus...

When Rafny and I went to the bins on Thursday, I made a lucky find. I'm doing my best to not add to the random useful-someday clutter here, so have a short list of "things I need". I was delighted to find a five caster pneumatic office chair, in quite good condition, for $5. The upholstery is hardly worn, and is even blue tweed... A timely addition in the workroom before the classes next month.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

random snippets and a requiem of sorts

the sky is that lovely Maxfield Parrish blue, and the solar lanterns near the front door are just beginning to light up. I'm going to split my evening time between wire bending and paper sorting, with little detours to add content here...
The N x NE clinic called and I now have an appointment for a FREE flu shot. Every little bit helps when you don't have insurance...
Done husking the bay nuts (Umbellularia californica); about 2/3 of the weight is husk, so I've about 1 1/4 lb to be dried...
for my wooden bowl:
a requiem on the patient faithfulness of inanimate objects,
(something I think about a lot; my primary delight is creating just such objects)
Once upon a time partway through a century long ago there was a girl with a head full of dreams and fancies. She lived in Cambridge Mass Our Fair City, only it wasn't called that then. There were lots of pretty young folks to look at, and wonderful music to hear, and curious little shops that sold almost anything that you might want (and the things the shops didn't sell you could find in the street markets in Harvard Square, or on Cambridge Common) And in some random ancestor of the oh-so-posh kitchen shops we have today, she found a wooden bowl. There were shelves and shelves of treen of all sorts, and she took this one home (well, since you asked, she paid for it and took it home, she wasn't that kind of hippie)

It was round and brown and shaped kind of like a teacup, only instead of a teacup handle, the top edge of the bowl swooped out into a nice curved handle-hole. Sized just right for a suppersworth of soup, or a nice warm bowl of winter oatmeal, and the bowl was thick enough that food would stay warm until eaten.

That bowl went cross-country on the Green Tortoise, and tied to her belt went to a renaissance fair. It moved with her all around greater Boston, and banged around the back of a step van to a Rainbow Festival. Along for the ride to Los Angeles, and North County, and all up the west coast. It served up blackberry jam at an Evergreen potluck. It sat on a shelf in Seattle, held huckleberries in a backwoods cabin in Sandpoint, then rode safely back to the damp side of the mountains in the back of a pickup truck. Just a little different than all those thrift store bowls, it found lots of new friends, just like she did, when she found the SCA.

And she moved to Acorn Cottage, and the faithful bowl lived in the kitchen. And every time she looked at it, or ate her scotch broth and barley, or steelcut oats with honey, memory of being a young thing would surface, like a wisp of sweet smoke, and she'd smile.

Yesterday, she was cleaning the kitchen, and washing the dishes, and when she went to scrub and rinse the bowl, there was a long crack down one side. And foolish foolish tears came to her eyes, and that young girl with the bifocals and the grey grey hair washed the bowl for one last time

simple pleasures

Today I finished another little witchy-girl, and she's been photographed and is in the store...
This is Belladonna, she is very proud of her ruffled sleeve cuffs and her green stripey socks
What a lovely perfect autumn day it is today. When I was walking back from the bus this afternoon, past the big bay tree, I noticed that the ground was littered with bay nuts! Earlier this year it didn't look like there was going to be much of a crop, but I guess they were just late developing. I picked up over 3 pounds still in the husks. Bay nuts are related to avocado, I think, and have a moist greenish fruit/husk/skin, which must be removed. then the nuts get dried at a low temperature, and then roasted at a higher temperature before they are eaten. I will be checking the other trees in the neighborhood as well, now.
Must fly and cook some lunch, then take advantage of the non-rain to bike the recycling away and get some groceries...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh no!

I shouldn't be allowed to go online no no no. Look what I found:
If only my home wasn't named "Acorn Cottage". and although this is cute, and useful, I don't think I can justify the cost. Besides, I have a really hard time convincing my friends that I do not want more acorn things, lest my home turn into the all acorns all the time 24-7 acorn channel, and then to find this... Aaaargh I want it now....
Acorn Cakelet Pan - $36 at Williams-Sonoma pan

Sunday, October 19, 2008

weekend progress report

I have a number of wooden "book-boxes" that are sized to fit paperback books, which Mark made for me years ago, when we were living together. I had been thinking of mounting them on the wall in the hallway, as kind of a long shelf just above eye level. With the addition of an odd little Goodwill shelf, it runs the length of the hallway from the kitchen down to just before the portiere that divides the public Acorn Cottage from the bedrooms. While I had plenty of wall anchors, I needed washers to help secure the anchor screws, so Saturday afternoon required a trip to the Hardware Store with the Cute Clerk. (heck, this old gal will get her cheap thrills were she can...)

The shelf project worked out in a very tidy fashion. I'm eventually thinking about putting artwork up above the books, and the box-shelves are wide enough for small "sculptural" bits as well
The shadowbox shelf was originally an awful "Country with a K" Goodwill find with heart-shaped chicken-wire-filled cutouts on little doors. I thought the shelf layout seemed vaguely japanese, once I removed the doors and hinges. I've temporarily slipped some decorative paper behind the sections. In the lower left compartment is "A Year On the Farm" a really sweet Little Golden Book from the original series circa 1948
Of course, now that this shelving is up, the lower shelving seems even more disorderly. My eventual plan is to have several more long wall-mounted shelves, starting about two feet below the paperback shelves, and deeper, sized for the larger books in my collection. Ah well, one step at a time, and it does feel really good to get this little bit finished, using what I have already. I was also able to clear away a lot of hidden dust bunnies, and purged a few books to take to Powells, and some went directly into the take-to-Goodwill bag, which went away Sunday afternoon.

It seems that I prefer to do almost anything rather than sort papers. I think it is time to break out the timer, and do the 15 minute thing. I haven't touched the boxes yet, other than to move them out of the guest room. Perhaps I'd best get off the computer now, and go do a bit of that...

Friday, October 17, 2008

inspiration style images

I made several style-collages, using images both paper and digital, messing around with Photoshop layers. My idea is to have a reference of the overall effect I'm hoping for, eventually, for Acorn Cottage. I actually took the files to my local copy store and had them printed out on card stock, so I can put them into my housey rejuvenation notebook.
Modern Eclectic Whimsical Handicrafted
I've collected these images over several years. The overall theme became even more clear as I added more and more images. Colors: cool blue-grey-taupe-stone range. Materials: natural linen, indigo denim, mostly light wood. Small amount of warm red as an accent. Pacific Rim meets Danish Modern, with a dash of McMenamins and Karl Larsson thrown in. Yup... that's what I'm aiming for.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

another bit of good news

Had another call about the cloisonne class next month, someone else from Art in the Pearl wants to take my class! That makes five people signed up for classes so far this quarter. A good beginning...

My Wednesday client gave me a little pumpkin from her garden, Halloween is almost here. I've almost finished two more witchy-girls and their little sister for my Etsy store. (pictures soon, but not tonight)

I have 9 cartons of misc-very-misc papers to sort through. Bleah!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

AT "Cure"

My relationship with my home is a mixture of love and frustration.

I live in Portland Oregon, in a little (just under 1000sqft) 1950's cottage, that we bought two years ago. I love having the say-so on what happens with the house, but being responsible for, and paying for all the repairs is challenging. The house is in a great neighborhood, with the best neighbors I've had in years, and good access to transit and shops (grocery, library, post office) the backyard gets lots of light, and I've started gardening, and have two chickens for eggs ( but that is another story)...

The things I love about the house are it actually has enough room for everything that I want to do, once I get it organised. My favorite thing is the large workroom-studio space, which is gradually being transformed into what I want it to be.

The challenges about the house are primarily the things that former owners did. The peculiar and shoddy hidden repairs that caused water damage I am still dealing with... the only other thing is that my living room is very small. I've been trying for two years to figure out how to arrange it to have a seating area and a dining area. Maybe I'll post a floor plan later and see if any of the clever folks here have any useful ideas.

My biggest challenge is limited resources. I'm a self employed artist, and like most artists, money is tight. But I guess that is becoming reality for more and more folks these days... I've been able to find useful supplies for projects at the ReBuilding Center, wood for trim, and replacements for the absolutely hideous lighting that was here when we moved in.

What I hope to accomplish for this Cure is much more decluttering and hopefully some repairs and refurbishment. I re-read the book, (which I got for a former Cure that I ended up not having time to do). Some of the things I'm already doing, like using earth friendly cleaners, and cooking meals. Actually I'm torn between doing one room deeply and the whole house more lightly.

The biggest simple thing that was immediately obvious when I took the photos is that I really want to - need to - paint the walls. I really hate having white walls! The other thing that I want to do is to get my wall art all into frames. I noticed at a friends house that all their artwork was framed; it really added a more polished look to their space. I've been collecting black wooden frames, in different sizes, from Goodwill, and I think it is time to lose the "stuck to the wall with pushpins" look.
Day 1

I scrubbed the kitchen floor. Really scrubbed, and actually got down there with a little brush in spots. While I don't hate my kitchen flooring, it is deeply scratched in places (from former denizens), and being the kind of vinyl flooring with texture, all the little divots get grey quickly. Had I but money enough, I'd rip it out, level the floor, and put down true linoleum. Smooth, no gouges, no divots. But this is land-o-budgets, and I'll live with it. At least I like the color, white with grey and pale blue. Could be much much worse...

I also rearranged the living room.

I really want to have there be a place to sit when guests come over. I don't want to use the room as a crafting space, I actually have a crafting space, and once I get some kind of table for the back room, I'll have a sewing space also. This is amazing luxury, but like one of those poor zoo animals that doesn't know they have more room when moved to a bigger habitat, I persist in doing all my work in one room. (Note to self: must acquire sewing table.)

So I moved the little dining table into one corner of the room near the front window, and in the rest of the space moved the two new chairs next to one another as if they were a little loveseat, with my Goodwill coffeetable and Ikea easy chair making an actual little conversational group in my living room. The room looks really different, and feels more spacious, somehow.But damn, those white walls are awful.
This is the new arrangement, previously the dining table was here under the window, with the chairs fitted in at random around the room

Saturday, October 11, 2008


~ the good: ~
I had another student contact me, and register for a class, someone who saw me at Art In The Pearl. I'm really happy about this, I've done several demos and handed out scores of business cards, and it is very exciting to have someone (non-SCA) say that they want the kind of class that I am offering, and actually sign up. This is not in any way meant as critical of my SCA friends and students, it is just that if I am to survive as an independent artist and teacher, I need students from more than one subculture.

I finished the repair work on my sister's jacket, and sent it off to her, in time for her birthday. Lots of sewing on tiny beads to repair the decorative applique, and patching and re-beading the places where the dry cleaners used some kind of glue to hold the rhinestones in place. The glue caused the fabric to literally crack apart, so I had to stitch new fabric in place to hold the replacements, then do additional beading to make it all look like it belonged together. fortunately the sleeves were about 2" too long, so I could cut away fabric from there to use for patching. Of course, that meant I needed to reattach the cuffs, but that will make the jacket actually fit better. It was a semi-challenging project, and I'm glad to have it finished.

~ the scary: ~
I haven't heard much about this aspect of climate shift, and frankly I find the idea of the whole planet running a fever more worrisome than the potential of economic collapse (this is something that is actually happening right now...)

time for bed, if I'm to get anything at all done tomorrow. I've been writing, and messing around with Photoshop, and listening to gamelan music on YouTube.

Monday, October 6, 2008

some snippets

Today I am still feeling pretty banged up, but encouraged myself to go out and walk (in daylight) to maintain flexibility. My hands are sore. (I know grump grumpgrump) Tomorrow will be better, and I got another bottle of arnica. My cold seems to be improving.
One of the tiny niggling things I never noticed before moving to Acorn Cottage is that the cracks in the sidewalk grow weeds. Most of the sidewalks around here are weed free, but my sidewalks have become as shaggy in spots as a hippie girls legs. While I have no objection to people fur, the sidewalks could actually become hazardous. Not wanting to use something toxic, I was inspired to try an old serrated steak knife as a kind of micro weeder. Worked like a champ, two angled swipes and the weeds are history. I will be working my way along the sidewalk and driveway, between the rainstorms, and should have the public areas tidy before winter sets in.
Two more kittens, having a romp on the front room windowsill hare at Acorn Cottage. Coal is a bit more sedate, but her green-eyed sister Briquette is a real hoyden, she likes to clamber around the window ledges and explore...
As usual you can find them in theArtisanry
Today was a bit of a slow day, but I'm feeling a lot better. I did get lots of photos taken (see above), recycling away, via bicycle during a break in the rain, and a nice long walk to the post office, where I found that my Rio order is still not here. It was shipped on the 25th of last month, I sure hope it isn't lost like the last order. I don't like how the UPS/DHL deliveries are just left in front of the door here, to be rained on and possibly walk away, which is why I got the PO Box in the first place...

There is something dangerous between Acorn Cottage and the Post Office. The Flavor Spot is a waffle cart, in the parking lot of a video store on Lombard. Today I forgot to eat lunch, and they had a special waffle with organic strawberries listed on their chalkboard. Alas, I had a sudden failure of willpower, and continued on my walk, once the waffle was baked, with a delightful confection of hot waffle slathered with whipped cream and covered with slices of strawberries. Folded and wrapped they are an easy to-go snack. Fortunately for my girlish figure, I rarely sucumb to the lure of the waffle, or I would be completely spherical.

I've been trying to increase my walking and bike riding, and I am feeling a bit more energetic. When I was grocery shopping my good friend Rois showed up at the end of the aisle with her two sons; though they live in Beaverton, they were out and about on a homeschool photography field trip. Portland is indeed the biggest small town I've ever lived in...
This evening I'm going to clear away enough space to do a bit of sewing, my longtime project repairing my sisters beaded jacket is calling to me. Her birthday is later this month, I'd like to get it done and mailed off in time. So step away from the needlefelting for the moment, and back to clearing the decks for more projects...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

alphabetic whinge

C is for the cold that kept me sleeping and resting and healing for most of the weekend, in between running necessary errands. I slept too long on Saturday afternoon. I almost never take naps, as I hate how groggy I get. It was twilight when I woke up, and decided for some reason that a trip to New Seasons would clear my head, and get me some much needed groceries. Rather than ride the bike, I decided to walk.

C is also for careless. On the way home, I was starting to feel a bit better, have some energy, and think about which project might be next. My foot met the cracked and tilted sidewalk with unpleasant results. Kerfulmpety-whap I was down on the wet dirty sidewalk. I purely hate falling down, not only is it painful, but I always feel like such a clumsy child. I skinned my knee, and banged my hands, and landed on my grocery bag, which burst the quart of milk I had just bought. After determining that all my parts still worked, I headed back towards Acorn Cottage, a bit the worse for wear. Once in a more well lighted spot, I realised that my hand was bleeding and not just muddy. Urgh. Managed to wash off most of the mud with my waterbottle, and stopped at the drug store for another quart of milk, and a box of bandaids.

C is for cleanup. Once finally home, clambered into the shower to properly scrub both myself and my poor banged up paw and kneebone. That done, I rinsed the milk from my shopping bag, and went to bed.

B is for banged-up and bruised, which is how I feel today.

A is for arnica, the homeopathic remedy for just that feeling. I am so glad that I have a bottle of arnica in my first aid box. I shall add that to the list of needs to be replenished soon.

A is also for attention. Usually when I am not paying attention to my surroundings is when I get hurt. Seems to be valid on whatever scale I think about that one. I usually take things like this as just that kind of message:
the universe says "PAY ATTENTION!"
I'm heading out this afternoon to go back over to SCRAP, yesterday they had some skinny button storage tubes, which fit perfectly in the "pipe-storage-thingie" from Goodwill that is now living on my workbench. I think that they will be perfect for storing sawblades, and also the sharp pointy tools that would be otherwise difficult to corral.
Little Soot found a new home really quickly. I'm sure she will be very happy with Megan and all her new friends there. I think that there will be some more kittens soon...

Friday, October 3, 2008


Last night I had little energy, so instead of working on the house, I found myself noticing that witchHazel was lonely. A few hours later, Soot was completed...

Soot is only 2 inches long, (and 2" tall). The smallest needlefelted critter I've managed to make so far. Using the wrapped wire armature allows nice skinny legs, but makes actually needlefelting a bit difficult, as I kept poking the wires. I'm particularly happy with the whiskers. Horsehair is just the right scale and stiffness to look charmingly correct. If you want to adopt Soot, or witchHazel, they are available in my Etsy store

I'd best be off and about my day, as I've a lot of outside errands and such.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday thoughts

I plan to spend a good chunk of the next several days working on the studio projects; it would be great to get the bad pelicans done and out of here. As I sort and find homes for the things in boxes, I keep finding more of the lost bits. Just found the mistletoe earrings, whoo hoo! so will have them for sale later this year both on theArtisanry and at ManyHandsMarketplace (our holiday artisan sale).

I am very fond of The Android Sisters, part of the ZBS Foundation cast of characters. Just found this animation, which given the current state of sociopolitical wierdness, seems to fit all too well...

Well, all the sneezing in the last two days meant something, the dread Rhinovirus has come to visit - bleah! This morning... despite my adding extra EmergenC to my waterbottle, woke up with that trompled upon feeling. I hates having a cold.