Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thrifting resumed

"For many years, I was a man riding an ox, looking for an ox to ride on." (Meister Eckhart)

Just because I haven't posted any thrifted goodies, it doesn't mean that I haven't been hitting the thrift stores and garage sales. It's true that over the winter I tried to refrain from bringing any more stuff into our 1,100-square-foot condo in an effort to decrease clutter. Then, after we got our referral in May, I bought plenty of used stuff--mostly baby clothes! (Still need to post some pix of those over at our adoption blog.)

I also still pick up wool and cashmere sweaters whenever I see them cheap, for my own felting projects and to sell in my etsy shop. (I'll be filling my shop this weekend with some fall stuff. Yes, it's time for that already!)

After I've hit the baby clothes and kids' book aisles at the thrift store, I do a quick run down the linen aisle, where I've found the vintage linens in these photos. I love that folksy placemat in the top photo and the maypole and rooster embroidered linens in the second photo. My vintage tablecloth collection is growing, too, with the addition of the fruit one in the above photo. I'm not sure what to do with all these vintage linens, but I can't pass them up since they're usually less than $1.

Finally, some fabric for future projects: a Christmas tree print, red bandana and tan floral print. I find fabric in the linen aisle, but it often takes many forms. Sometimes I find actual yardage (like the Christmas tree print); sometimes it's already made into something (like the red bandana. It looks like a tablecloth, trimmed in lace); or sometimes it's a purchased linen or article of clothing (like the tan floral. It's a napkin.)

More fabric: a red heart print, a black floral scarf (now covering my sewing machine), a red paisley pillowcase, and a red/black feather print. Actually, these all match pretty well!

I'll be better about posting my thrifty finds in the future. I know I love seeing what others find on their blogs. And if you're interested in my luck with baby clothes and kids' books, check out Dear Sam and Sophie soon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Speaking of aprons...

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." (The Buddha)

Thanks for all the kind words about my first apron. Speaking of aprons, I think I never posted these pictures (and an appropriate thank you) of the most unique apron I have ever seen: this pants-style apron (it actually ties behind the knees)! This was one of two aprons from Jen at Rosey Little Things as part of an apron swap organized by Sarah. Jen is hosting a Blog Swap; check it out here.

She also sent me this turquoise apron with gold trim and a dish towel appliqued with two aprons. Very cute!

Speaking of aprons, I found two at the thrift store recently: one sheer white (which is not my favorite style, but I can't pass it up at 40 cents) and this basic red and green one, which seems to be crying out for some embellishment!

I know I haven't posted any thrifted treasures here lately. For awhile, I was trying to stay away from estate sales and the thrift shops because I always find cool stuff but just don't have the room. Then once we got our referral for Sam, I went back but limited myself to baby clothes (lots of success there) and wool sweaters for felting. But I have found a few things and will post about them soon.

In other news, I swam 20 laps at the pool today and watched the entire season of Mad Men over the weekend in preparation for the second season opener. I'm hooked! While I love the vintage set, the vintage relations between men and women make my blood boil!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pink and orange

"Ask the Friend for love. Ask him again. For I have learned that every heart will get what it prays for most." (Sufi mystic Hafez)

Sometimes I'm just inspired by certain color combinations, like pink and brown, or pink and green. (Notice a common color there?) Well, recently I was inspired by another "pink and..." thanks to my friend Lourdes' pink and orange color theme at her recent wedding in California. Not only were her invites pink and orange, but she wore pink and orange outfits all weekend, except when she was in one of her two wedding dresses (there were two weddings: one at the church, one at the country club). At the country club, the chairs were arranged in two semi-circles and each was swathed in a white chair cover with either a pink or orange chiffon bow. It was breath-taking.

So I was inspired to create a bunch of pink and orange kitchen goodies as a wedding gift for Lourdes and Jason. And I'm excited to show my very first home-sewn apron. Is this cute or what? I created the pattern by copying a vintage apron from my collection. Both fabrics are from my stash: the plaid is some fabric from a thrift store and the paisley is an old knit pillowcase. I loved it so much that it was really hard to give away.

I used pink bias tape from my stash and did a much better job with it than in my last attempt (a bib about a year ago). Mini white rick rack really accented the colors. I even lined it! I was so proud of myself that I showed it to the first person I could find, my neighbor Michelle. She gushed appropriately, as did Ed when he came home that night. I hope Lourdes likes it!

I rounded out the package with three knit dishclothes: two flowers and one with the "Om" symbol on it (pattern here), since Lourdes is a yoga teacher. Finally, I embroidered on two flour sack towels. I think this will be my standard wedding gift for awhile (for certain brides who appreciated handmade stuff): an apron, dishclothes and dish towels.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Homemade jam

"The Holy Spirit puts people in situations to become the people they need to be." (Marianne Williamson, at a talk a few years ago at Transitions Bookstore, Chicago)

Good news: the thing that had me down last week--as many of you may have assumed, another stumble on our adoption journey--is looking up as of today. Still no news as to when we might travel to Vietnam to get Sam, but I'm hopeful we might get travel approval soon.

So while I was depressed, I made some strawberry/blueberry jam. It's the freezer jam recipe, but I put it in jars, because it looks prettier, even though it has to be refrigerated. I gave one to my sister for her birthday and one to a secretary who retired at work and have one for our neighbors. Plus I saved a bunch for myself! I've been having toast mounded with chunky jam for breakfast each morning. Don't worry: I'm still swimming laps to work off all that sugar (even though I used the low-sugar recipe.)

I will be catching up with reports of knitting, crafting and some decorating around the house this week. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers last week.

Monday, July 14, 2008

This is what friendship looks like

"I always felt that the great high privilege, relief, and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing." (Katherine Mansfield)

I've been having a rough week, with some problems that I don't want to get into here. I'm so lucky to have friends who really get how to help someone who's in pain. That's one of the "perks," I guess, of having suffered yourself. My friend Kristin, who knows all the gory details of this particular situation, called me on Saturday and said, "I'm treating you to a pedicure." It was just what I needed to relax, take my mind of it for awhile, and feel pampered. Don't you just love it when someone knows just what you need? (We went to Havana Nights, a nice little spa just a few blocks from my house. They even have a mojito pedicure. Sounds refreshing!)

After a six month hiatus from working out, I started swimming laps in our neighborhood Chicago Park District pool. It's great: only $20 for the whole summer, and they have at least 2 hours of adult lap swim a day. I love the meditative rhythm of swimming, plus it's great exercise for the whole body. I'm up to 12 laps a day.

Movies to knit by: I've been doing some knitting. Nothing to show yet, but I did knit through two very interesting movies. First, Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, which was very slow at first, and strange, but excellent in the end. I watched the 3-hour version (not the uncut 5-hour one.) There's a great discussion about it on Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Even with subtitles, I was able to knit through most of it. Then, I watched a funny little Australian movie called Love Serenade. Made me laugh. I'm grateful for On Demand. It helps distract me from my problems. That and pedicures.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Summer swaps

"Imagination is the highest kite one can fly." (Lauren Bacall)

My faith in swaps has been restored! Shara of Monkeybox blog was my partner in the Pink Lemonade, Parasols and Polka Dot swap, with a summer colors theme. When I came home from Wisconsin after 4th of July I found this amazing package. Everything was wrapped in bright colors and tucked into this striped beach bag (which I have been taking to the Park District pool all week.)

Look at how fun all this summer-themed stuff is! Those "popsicles"? They're soaps. There also is a summer vinyl tablecloth, polka dot gardening gloves, a little tea cup candle holder, pink chandelier notecards, a pink lemonade dish, orange coaster, a thrifted terrycloth apron in a bright green and white stripe, lemon slice ice cube tray, actual pink lemonade mix, and even lemonade candy!

But my favorite was that this thrifter extraordinare found a vintage Heidi book for my collection--one that I don't have yet! As a fellow felt crafter, I really appreciated her brightly colored felt birdies (above and below), and her umbrella card.
I am almost done with Shara's package (a wee bit late) and will be getting it out to her next week. Just one more handmade gift I'm finishing up.

A few days later I received another swap package, this from Genevieve from Bella Dia blog. She was my partner in the Paris in Springtime swap, but has had a lot going on in her life so got her package out a little late. Hey, better late than never! She is a big paper crafter and made me these two cool collages, both with a Parisian feel. Then, in an apparent generosity in mailing costs, she included this very cool wrought iron fleur de lis, painted white. Love it!

Thanks Shara and Genevieve. It's been fun getting to know you through the swap and your blogs.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sunday by the lake

"We need the tonic of wildness. We can never have enough of nature." (Thoreau)

On Sunday after church Ed and I went to the lake. I love this city: In what other big city can you drive right up to the water, park easily even on a weekend, and walk a few yards to the beach or a nice shady spot under a tree?

I'm knitting another baby sweater, using this pattern from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies. I didn't love it the first time I knit it (the small size was so tiny I'm sure the baby never wore it), but I'm giving it another chance. This time in a larger size and with this pretty Cotton Ease in the "Maize" colorway.

I'm also reading Kathleen Norris' new book, called Acedia and Me and is about what used to be the "eighth deadly sin," acedia, which is like spiritual sloth, or not caring. The book is not out yet (those are bound galleys) but will be in September. I'm reviewing it for U.S. Catholic and really loving it. She is an amazing spiritual writer.

We had a little picnic by the lake, relaxed, read and I knit a bit. Here's my handsome husband by the water. What a lovely summer day.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Red, white and blue

"What makes America great has never been its perfection but the belief that it can be made better... Of course, precisely because America isn't perfect, precisely because our ideals constantly demand more from us, patriotism can never be defined as loyalty to any particular leader or government or policy.... We may hope that our leaders and our government stand up for our ideals, and there are many times in our history when that's occurred. But when our laws, our leaders or our government are out of alignment with our ideals, then the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism."
(Barack Obama, speech on June 30, 2008 in Independence, Mo.)

Hope everyone had a happy Fourth of July! (I couldn't help but get in an inspirational quote from my favorite patriot and future president.) Ed and I spent part of the holiday at my parents' in Wisconsin, where we enjoyed two full days of fun and sun.

On Friday we volunteered as parade marshals at the Menomonee Falls parade. Two straight hours of telling kids not to run in the street for candy, and yelling at parade participants for throwing candy (sometimes right under the wheels of a car. Nice.) Then we enjoyed the MF fireworks.

Saturday we hung out at the lake, Ed helped my dad with a few projects, then we had burgers on the grill and enjoyed the "amateur" fireworks put on my two guys who live on the lake. It was the longest and one of the best fireworks displays I've ever seen. My dad says the guy spends $20,000 a year on them. Wow. I'm not sure that's how I'd spend an extra $20,000 but at least a lot of people got to enjoy them.

(Ed relaxing on my parents new deck furniture.) The red and blue berries are from a week ago. I actually made baking powder biscuits (rolled out) from scratch and we had fresh berries and half and half over them. Yum! I love summer food.

We came home from Wisconsin on Saturday morning because Ed had to work at the river (and thus missed all the holiday traffic). I spent the rest of the holiday weekend cleaning up the house and finishing some crafting/gifts. I hope to post some FOs later this week.