Vintage Handmade Christmas

December 1, 2011

We jumped on the Christmas tree bandwagon a little early this year. We justified it  because we have a great window to display the tree and since we’re in Texas during a week or two of December, we wanted to enjoy it for a couple of weeks. We are a sad case when it comes to Christmas decorations. I really don’t like purchasing things like that. We’re really not into decorating for holidays. We don’t have kids, so thematic decorating seems a bit weird. We always get a wreath and sometimes a tree. This year it was totally our intention to invite our friends over to have a party to make ornaments for our tree so that we would have handmade decorations that meant something to us. Life gets in the way and it seems like everyone is too busy this time of year. I was a little sad about this but I’ve moved on.

In the Christmas decoration box I found a couple of things that warmed my heart. A couple of handmade christmas decorations made by my great-grandmother Sparky. She’s no longer with us but she was a hoot. With a name like Sparky you better have personality to back it up and she did!  Anyhow, I don’t know how I came into ownership of these decorations. I think it was after by grandma Barbara passed away. I always remember these in her house when we would visit for the holidays, so they must have come from her.

The decorations are both handmade wall hangings. They’re very old too.  They weren’t in the best shape so I tried to do a little repair work. They are made out of felt, gold tim, sequins and beads. I was struck by how much love was put into these. I feel like they really mark a passage in time. We don’t make crafts like this anymore. Crafts that last and are passed down. They really brought me back to being a little girl.  They’re just so sweet. They make me think about my family more than I thought they would.

I love the wall hanging pictured above. It’s made of 5 vignettes that were patch worked together. There is so much detail in them. I’m really inspired by this particular craft. It’s all stitched together and there is some kind of paper stabilizer on the back. There is even a little tag on back that says “Handmade By Dorothy Flower” (Sparky). I keep wondering how I could modernize this a little but still keep the vintage feel. I think the key is the hand sewing of many little sequins and beads.

I suppose this craft was meant to hold Christmas cards or maybe letters to Santa. I just love the Santa face. Have you ever seen a happier Santa? Look at those cheeks…all sparkles! This is all made of felt, gold trim, sequins and beads.

I’ve had his tiny stocking that Sparky made for me for as long as I can remember. It’s made out of all her normal materials. I’ve held onto it for all these years. I guess my point is that these crafts, as silly and happy as they are , have  been around for  at least thirty or forty years. They represent a simpler time and transport me to another place. I almost got rid of these last year because they were in bad shape with pieces falling off and very creased from being folded. With a little love and gentle hands I was able to repair them and spend a nice afternoon with both my grandma and great grandma! Think twice before you throw anything like this away, your kids may want them!

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Holiday Brainstorm

September 21, 2011

Holidays are around the corner. I hate to think about it but since i make a lot of gifts I have to start early. Last year I made a few small things but we mostly bought cookbooks and craft books for folks. We had lots of fun wrapping presents. I thought I’d share some of last years gifts and ideas for this years crafts to get the ball rolling!

We love to cook and we’re vegetarians so generally we love great vegetarian cookbooks! We hate to come across as trying to indoctrinate others to our lifestyle. We gifted the Cooking Light Way to Cook Vegetarian Cookbook to one of Peter’s sisters who loves healthy recipes and vegetables. It’s a nice book with great photos along with the instructions.

I’m a craft nerd. I love craft books. We gifted to arts and crafts books last year. We got Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts for Peter’s other sister. It has lots of basic crafts but lots of really useful crafts laid out in simple Martha Stewart style. It’s jam-packed with gift ideas! For our niece who is into fashion and art we got a book called Fashion Designers Sketchbooks. It’s filled with fashion designers concept sketches. It’s goes inside the mind of someone who is creating a collection. It shows process and how designers get from point A to point B. We paired it with sketchbooks and a nice Pitt drawing pens.

We bought some H&M outfits for the little one. We bought a nice cheese board and cheese cutters from CB2 for Peter’s mom since she enjoys entertaining. She also wanted a vintage wooden ironing board for her craft room. Low and behold my grandmother had one collecting dust in her closet. She gave it to us to pass along. It had a cover with it but it was old and crusty so we bought some nice fabric to and gave it to her with the old cover so she could sew a cover for it herself.

Music is always a good gift. We like to pick out CD’s, yes CD’s, and give four or five as a nicely curated box set. One year we picked out prints for everyone. We bought some from Etsy and some elsewhere online. We framed them and matted them. We tried to pick things that were thoughtful and unique to each person.

I made some purses, some knitting needle holders, and aprons in the past. Last year i just made a few little things. For all the women I sewed little lavender filled squares with fun fabrics and presented them in little handmade pouches, The pouches could be used later for carrying jewelry while traveling or thrown into a purse for an extra pocket.

This year I have some ideas, most of which I can’t share yet. The one I’m willing to share is for our niece. I saw it on Craftgawker and then visited the original blog. It’s a project to make these fabric wings for a little girl . I think they’re magical. Has anyone made these yet? I’m dying to do it.

In many months I will post photos of all the goods we make. It’s definitely going to be a handmade holiday this year!

Big Sur Heart

September 20, 2011

When I head north to Big Sur my heart swells knowing that I’ll be rhythmically winding around the edges of cliffs that drop off into a rocky mountain landscape. Around each bend an enchanting view reveals itself without noise. No imagery shouts at you, it just welcomes you. The water’s edge invites you to breathe, the mountains remind you of your size, and redwoods create a canopy of protection that keep out any agendas you brought with you. Big Sur is a place that calls me when I need healing.

Some days the morning fog settles over your soul and gives your heart a new story to tell. Seeing landscapes in layers can mimic the complex layers that we carry within us. When nature reveals her layers to us, bathed in morning light and dripping in heavy fog, the contrast of emotions can leave us breathless for a moment. For me, this is a moment of meditation that breaks through all our layers of  emotional crust. This is how I heal. It may only be a brief glimpse of a ray of sun casting light off the mountain and into the sea but it can change something in us.

This summer has been really hard. I’ve struggled creatively, professionally, and personally. I can feel paralyzed when all three circles overlap and show signs of stress. I think most people experience this feeling at one time or another. The pressure to have a career is intense. It’s double  intense when you haven’t a clue what you’d like to do in life. It’s triple intense when you’re 35 yrs old and everyone you know is a success. It weighs heavy on my heart. This summer I felt like it was the heaviest it’s ever been. It became near debilitating.

My creative life has suffered for a while. In my current job I teach art. I teach kids to trust themselves and their creative choices. I teach them to own their art and create with confidence. I then come home with great ideas and no action. Sometimes there are obstacles blocking my path that just need money and time. Other times it’s just me blocking my path. The more unhappy I am in other aspects of my life the more my creative life suffers. When that outlet closes up, I close up. I think this is true for many artists and creative types. It’s our life blood. Work is just a means to support creative life. It gets tricky sometimes because if that work drains us it can affect our creative life. For me, the two circles have lots of overlap.

My personal life overlaps with both of the other circles all the time . It’s been stressful. On the one hand, I have the greatest husband, friend, and supporter. I’m so lucky in that department.  I’m grateful every day that I get to wake up next to him. For everything that I’ve done wrong in my life, this was the one thing I did right! He knows me at my deepest core. On the other hand, I’m just pretty miserable with other aspects of my life now. I don’t like living in the valley. I hate my commute. I’m pretty stressed everyday . It’s taxing for everybody and on my body. Getting older isn’t easy. I’ve spent tons of time at the doctor getting poked and prodded and having tests done. This has added a whole new layer of anxiety to everything.

I know I’m not the only one out there that feels the heaviness of these three  areas of life overlapping and making life hard at times.  I do yoga, I meditate, exercise, eat right, and try to land on the side of optimism. Sometimes, it’s not enough to break through our layers. The healing process is different for everyone. For me, it was nice to hit the road with friends and wind through redwoods and listen to water crash on rocks. I may not have broken through all the layers but I was able to start cracking them open.

My suggestion for anyone needing a reboot ni life is to take a road trip. It would be awesome if you could go by yourself or with a trusted partner. Unfold into nature and peel back the layers of anxiety and stress. A great place to  start is in Big Sur, Ca. Drive up Highway 1 and visit the elephant seals in Sam Simeon. If they don’t make you laugh you’re not human. Continue on up to Big Sur and go camping in the redwoods. Take day trips to all the beaches and visit local businesses. Have a drink at Nepenthe and a coffee and pastry at Big Sur Bakery. Take photos, write, draw, paint or just look out into the sea. As Big Sur reveals itself to you, you will recover a piece of yourself in the process.


Happy travels!

                  

it’s been hot. very hot. when it’s hot i crave gazpacho from Le Pain Quotidien  (pictured above).  i owe this great this great discovery to my good friend amie who always knows where to find delicious gourmet foods. in a moment of synchrony a few years ago, we ran into each other at farmer’s market in santa monica.  i was walking around with my mother-in-law pauline and amie wanted to grab some lunch, so we tagged along. as always, she had the perfect suggestion for the moment. this is when i met the gazpacho i have grown to love so much. the reasons for the love are plentiful. something about the smooth texture of the purée with all the flavor notes just sings. the mango also sweetens the bowl and cuts some of the garlic and tomato acidity. the cucumber is delightful. the avocado, if you choose to add it is a great final touch. it’s also served with two types of rustic bread and butter. this cold soup paired with a mint iced tea on a hot day is difficult to top. it’s always consistently good. i personally can’t afford gazpacho everyday in the summer. peter and i went on a mission to recreate it as best we could this last weekend. we looked up some recipes but they were all chunky and had weird additions. we wanted it to be super fresh. we had some non-negotiable elements we wanted to make sure to include in the recipe. the soup  texture was very important. no onions because peter hates them. i wanted to make sure that we had mango and cucumber sliced into the purée for texture variation. i think we knocked it out of the park. it was so delicious. if you  have leftovers, it’s even better the next day. it seems that many people on the internet are searching for how to make this. hope this helps!

this is what we came up with. it’s a blend of a few random recipes on the internet and whatever we could remember  from the Le Pain Quotidien. for us, the most important part was the two different textures. smooth soup with some  sliced cucumber, mango slices, radish slices, and avocado  slices. nothing about this recipe is static! feel free to play around with it! it’s an easy one to riff on. it’s really healthy too. enjoy!

 

Gazpacho 

makes about 5 small-medium bowls

Ingredients:

10 on the vine tomatoes

2 japanese cucumbers or 1 regular cucumber

1 yellow, red or orange bell pepper

1 large jalapeño

1 mango

2 large cloves garlic

2 large radishes

1 lemon

1 handful of flat leaf italian parsley

1 handful of cilantro

1 handful of basil

*1 avocado

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp white grape balsamic vinegar or substitute with red wine vinegar

sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

Dice and salt the tomatoes. Drain and reserve liquid.

In a food processor, finely dice/mix (almost purée) 1 cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeño, 1 radish, ½ a mango, parsley, cilantro, basil, garlic and  tomatoes.

You’re going to blend this mixture next.  I just find it easier to blend if it’s all been diced.

In a blender add the the ingredients you just diced, oil, vinegar, and  the juice of half a lemon. Puree.

Add the reserved liquid from the tomatoes as needed to reach the desired consistency. You may want to transfer to a large bowl and use a hand blender at this point.

Julienne the remaining cucumber (cut ½ inch in length), slice or dice the remaining mango and thinly slice the second radish. Add to soup and chill in fridge.  It’s ready to serve when it’s nice and cold.

*Optional: Add sliced avocado before serving.

Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with a lemon wedge.  Serve with crusty gourmet bread.

rediscovery

July 20, 2011

moving has been great for peter and myself. we’ve gotten out of the house more, recommitted to our creative paths, taken on new challenges, reconnected with friends, and really found a space to breathe. our old apartment was so small and our furniture so big that it just weighed us down.  there was no room to do anything, especially for people with as many hobbies as hipsters have clever t-shirts. it just felt like our creative and social animals were dying!

this summer has been pretty lovely so far. we’ve been out and about!

there are some simple pleasures in los angeles! often, longtime residents like myself become jaded by the plasticity of the energy that seeps out of every crevice of this city. it’s hard to find substance in a city that asks you to wear a mask all the time and where everyone wants to put on a mask.  we forget that we have a beautiful coastline and mountains nestled into that coastline. we have amazing music venues like the hollywood bowl and little neighborhoods that offer you something outside of your hood. there are so many great restaurants and gastropubs popping up that are serving fun food for decent prices.  our farmers markets are awesome and the bbq weather has been perfect! every weekend there is some sort of festival promoting food, art, music, craft, or all the above.  when i transferred some photos to my computer this morning i was looking at all these great moments.

our culture has trained us to move on. i just did all these activities recently, and already the pace of the city has made me forget the moments. i guess the lesson always lies in gratitude and remembering that creative and positive moments are sleeping all around us, we just have awaken and feed those moments!

go out and rediscover your city or just try to appreciate it! not everything is plastic here. most things but everything!

 

summer days phase 1:

hollywood bowl

 

bbqing at our friend chaz’s house

    

renegade craft fair (los angeles historical park)

playa del rey (my old stomping grounds)

the tripel (awesome post beach beers in playa del rey)

free subway rides (personally i loved carmeggedon!)

chinatown

olvera street

union station

staring out my new window

so excited for phase 2 because it involves camping in big sur!

raw zucchini pasta

July 20, 2011

this is a lovely light summer meal that i stole from Whole Living magazine. it’s a recipe for raw zucchini pasta. this recipe serves two. it was really good and fresh! it’s great if you’re in need of a detox or need a break from cooking in the kitchen during this heat!  the best part is that it’s really simple and you can riff on it however you’d like.  it should please your vegetarian and vegan friends alike, just don’t serve with cheesy garlic bread like we did. yes, i realize the cheesy garlic bread counters all the healthiness of the raw pasta but i live for hypocrisy!

This is the recipe from Whole Living magazine:

serves 2

ingredients:

8 oz cherry tomatoes ( we used the heirloom cherry tomatoes from trader joe’s)

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced ( i went light on this because we get crazy garlic dreams if we eat too much!)

¼ cup chopped walnuts

2 tbsp torn fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling ( we may of used walnut oil or a combo of both)

1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise, slices cut into ¼-inch-long strips

sea salt (we used trader joe’s pink himalayan Sea Salt in the grinder)

directions:

in a bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, basil, and oil. season with salt. let stand 20 minutes. toss with zucchini and garnish with basil.

voila. so easy and fast!

cornered

June 23, 2011

the breezy corner of our new kitchen gets a tremendous amount of light.  i love a bright kitchen with windows, so we’re pretty lucky. the tricky part is that it’s a corner window. i’ve never really hung curtains in this type of situation.  it’s tricky.

for the time being, i’ve hung one rod on the main window that has a gorgeous view of the parking lot. everyone stares into our unit after parking their cars.  i wanted to have fun sheers that put a bit of a buffer between us and the public.  i was able to reuse one curtain i made from our old apartment. this set off the design for the second curtain. the second curtain was maddening to put together. all my fabric and sewing  supplies are still scattered around the apartment in boxes.

i’ve managed to make two curtains, but my question is about the third. what do i do? will three of this patchwork sheers be too much? they let in wonderful light and really change their look throughout the day. the curtains are really the only color in the kitchen. everything is white on white on more white. should i break it up with one simpler  grayish sheer curtain with a strip of patchwork at the bottom? or should i just go for it and make it fun?

i think i will take a little space from this project. i always have to remind the kids i teach that it’s okay to step away from your painting for a while and take a break. it’s okay to stop and come back to it with more energy. i think i will follow my advice today!

perspective

June 21, 2011

after peter and i eloped, we honeymooned in hawaii. it wasn’t the most adventurous trip but it was free. while most couples are deciding whether to serve chicken or fish and all the other minutiae involved with planning a ceremony, we were most concerned with spending as little as possible and getting married as quietly as possible. weddings are fun but that whole concept and process was not for us. we didn’t have the time or money to dedicate to a throwing the type of party we would want to put our names on.  getting married in los angeles is the worst.  everything is so expensive. if the thought of doing something makes you unhappy you shouldn’t do it.  in the course of making the decision to elope we discovered that  elopers and non-elopers are way different people. yes, i realize “elopers and non-elopers” are not words. your just going to have to deal with it.

many non-elopers kind of assumed we weren’t sentimental people.  elopers see things quite differently. we were very sentimental and we wanted to own the moment ourselves. we wanted it to feel pure, quiet and about our love. we’d like to have a party someday so our families  and a handful of friends can all celebrate together, but that’s not happening awhile. shouldn’t these celebrations be about everyone’s love, not just the love of the couple getting married?

anyways, lets return to hawaii before i rant too much! we booked an ocean view room , which we partly received.  we mostly faced other hotels and buildings. most people would probably complain, but we’re not really that type of couple. we’re easy breezy yogis who make the best of a situation! we ended up loving the view. it was like a giant life-sized  art installation of hundreds of televisions stacked on top of each other. the content was always changing and the voyeuristic feeling was inevitable. we were watching all these televisions and they were watching us back!

the lines and grids also made for great photos!

unfolding

June 17, 2011


i woke this morning and made a cup of tea in our new apartment. keys turned in to the old place and finally two feet in one space. much time has passed since i began this blog. i was in need of a bit of reinvention. much has changed in the past year. i almost couldn’t keep up with myself. i’m back now and even more present, aware, and full of ideas and inspirations.

now operating under the name  super love you, i’m hoping the transformations that have taken place in my life are well reflected in this new journey. the content will remain the same. i will continue to write about  crafting, hobbies, discoveries, sewing, art, food, and yoga. this space will still be devoted to stream of consciousness writing, photos, and life experiences. the changes will be in a more devoted and transformed me.

the name of this blog isn’t the only thing that has changed. peter and i eloped in february, to the pleasure and dismay of many. following this decision we also moved to a new apartment. it’s a lovely 1940’s colonial building with more space for our hobbies. we’re hoping that these changes will foster the creative change we’ve been plotting and planning from our old and too small apartment. i’m excited to be back.

i was listening to NPR a few weeks or months ago and the segment was about this woman named cassie boorn who was creating a blog for other woman to write letters to their 20 yr old selves. i was very inspired by this project and wanted to join in. i highly recommend it as a cathartic mental exercise. there was so much more i wanted to say to myself and to other women but you have to let certain parts of life just be. i want to thank cassie boorn for coming up with such a great idea. what a wonderful way for women to share their experiences. you can learn a lot about yourself and connect with all women in the process of reflection. i recommend it for men too.

dear 20 yr old carol,

i sit here, a 34 yr old woman wondering where time went. there is so much i want to tell you. most of all i want to tell you be braver, bolder and more open to the ebb and flow of life. you’re so insecure and angry and i just want you to know that your family loves you. you’ll have a lot of decisions to make about your future and most of them will be wrong.

writing isn’t the only art you’ll grow to love. living in words will always support you when you feel the pull of the extreme moods that you’ll face for the rest of your life. i want you to know that there are so many more outlets for you to process your emotions. you’re creative, insightful and incredibly emotional. you’re also more stubborn than most mules. your passions can be blinding. you’ll internalize a lot of fears that others project onto you. those fears will be your greatest obstacles. fear of success. fear of small talk. fear of judgment. fear of being yourself. fear of being loved. fear will be scary until you learn how to harness it into experience. that takes a lifetime.

don’t trust boys until you truly know who you are. most boys who know you before your twenty will only know who you’re trying to be for them. they will hurt you. they will humiliate you. they will make you feel sad. many of them will say things that aren’t true about you. many will think your pretty but that’s it. you’re going to hurt a lot of people too. search for your depth. depth will help you mine your soul and elevate you to a more conscious being. until you can connect with a positive and radiant light in your own life you won’t be able to connect with others in a way that makes you feel confident and content.

you don’t have to be so angry. it turns out your angry because you’re not living your truth. your quiet and that is okay. you’ll find your voice. that anger is going to poison you for a while. it will bring on stress and sleepless nights for many years. the truth is you live for love. don’t mistake this for living to be loved by others. you’ll never want to be surrounded by many. you’ll spend a long time looking for friends that are supportive and loving. even when you find that niche, it will always be tested.

yoga will breathe life back into you. it will start as a physical activity that you become slightly obsessed with. stick with it. a great spirit will form in you that gives you the ability to connect where once those feelings were weak. it will help with the constant inflammation you’ll feel in your body for a lifetime. it will help your anxiety. however, there will come a time when you have to stop doing yoga and start being yoga. treasure that transformation. it’s a lifelong journey.

be brave. be honest. try not to be so intense…it scares people. pour your intensity into art. try writing, sculpting, painting and sewing all your fears, ideas and observations about life into your work. sometimes it’s the easiest way for you to speak. you’ll never feel heard. that will never change. there are ways to combat all the noise and to find a frequency and a medium that support you. live in your truth. love from the deepest and scariest depths of your heart. open your ears to listen and eventually you’ll be heard.

also, you’re going to meet this guy named peter. your life is never going to be the same.

love and light,

34 year old you