Saturday, August 08, 2015

An Upcycle Sewing Lesson

A few times a year we show up at a favorite resale shop for their Huge Frocking Sale... it's an event, a happening, a great place to build a stylin' wardrobe, and save cash. This time we went with the idea of fulfilling some back-to-school needs, hoping to score a vest, and travel bag. But I don't suggest visiting resale shops with too specific an agenda, because you never know what might capture your heart and imagination. No vest for Max... bummer. No travel bag for Alex... we have a back-up plan. But we did score a sewing lesson and design opportunity for Maria!

Meet Marty, of Marty-O custom clothing. She had her booth and sewing table all set up, under the big top, in the midst of the Huge Frocking Sale, and she generously invited Maria to join her for an introduction to machine sewing and to also design an up-cycled utility apron... buttons, lace, trim, belt loops, ruffles, and fringe all artfully added to an old mini-skirt... this is DIY fashion meets function!

Maria embroiders, so she has some sewing experience, but she was thrilled to step up to the next level, because Marty is such a patient and enthusiastic instructor. With gentle guidance, and sound advice, Maria added the red ruffle to the camo print-mini skirt. I was especially happy to pick up the tip about raising the back of the sewing foot, when approaching a thick section of fabric... such an obvious, yet ingenious, trick for making a smooth transition between fabric weights!

What is upcycling? Before you toss it, before you donate it, or recycle it... see if you can't reuse pieces to make something new, better, unique, your own. See Marty's website for examples, and I keep thinking of the fabulous upcycling we love from Calamity Kim!

I've been collecting vintage handkerchiefs to make a scarf, or to appliqué onto a quilt, but this light and lacy jacket, refashioned with a coat tail of hankies, has me rethinking my options... Upcycling makes old things new, and fashion fun. A sewing machine makes it all faster, and easier, a Serger would be great, too, but there is plenty that can be done with just a needle pulling thread. Maria asked if we could try this at home, please I think the wool skirt we found at the sale, maybe the gauze dress from Marty's dollar bin, will make excellent foundations for some upcycled creations.

Haute couture, anyone? Marty and her client were designing a fabulous and frou frou tutu tulle coat... a little ensemble for the Playa.

When you upcycle you save resources, enjoy creativity, express your own style... so put a bird on it, add a gear, turn it upside down, give it a new life and make it your own.

Friday, August 07, 2015

~This Moment~

~This Moment is a Friday tradition, capturing a special moment from the week~

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments, for all to see.
El Capitan, Central Coast, California... morning time, waking in a tent. This moment makes me want to stop time, at least slow everything down, because this thing we call childhood and family time... it's whirring passed at a pace that cannot be comprehended. It's all been so beautiful, and rough, and sublime, and soul stirring, and good. Can't we just stay here a little bit longer, more streams to cross, more laughs to share, more stories to read, and adventures to enjoy, as a family... ?

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Into The Woods :: Into The Farm

Have I mentioned how much I love staying new places with Airbnb? It's not like they're a sponsor, or give me a coupon when I type their name... trust me, this is genuine appreciation. When I was looking for a place to stay near UCSC, something to make us feel like we did something special over our summer vacation, something affordable, and unique, I was delighted to find a cabin in the woods, on a horse farm. And not just horses, but cats and dogs, goats and chickens! Redwoods. Cabin. Twinkle lights, farm fresh eggs, comfy beds, and friendly hosts? Yes, yes, yes! The real bonus is that we were only minutes away from my brother and sister-in-law, and the cousins! I cannot credit Airbnb with that, but it was certainly extra sweet that they were welcome to come by and meet the animals, hang out with us.

Danza was the first horse we met, and Princess was getting all the adoration she deserved... such a mild and good horse. The farm is a co-op, and the members share in the duties of caring for the animals, making it lighter work for all. Now, I wish I could say I remember all the animals' names, but maybe this means I need to go back until I can get them all straight. In the barn was Gigi the cat, and she was thoroughly and wholly affectionate. Maria and Marissa were utterly smitten. The new baby goats are Anna and Elsa... I did not get the reference until we were already driving home, which was very amusing to Maria. Up in the tree is Sandy, a compact love of a cat, who, unfortunately, hunts the birdies... oh kitty! We thought Sandy using the oak tree as her personal scratching post was endlessly entertaining, so you can see why spending the night here was our idea of awesome. We were into the woods. We were into the farm!

Maria and I were up early, after a cozy night's sleep, and Cyndi welcomed our help getting everyone fed. Chickens, then kitties, Mama goat, then horses, then all four goats get hay. The novelty, and good company made it a pleasure, but that's a lot of mouths to feed, and I felt certain that feeding our two goats and chickens would feel a whole lot less like lots to do!

The rest of the day was dedicated to visiting another school, and we got to see Dominic, Marissa and Bill, again... meet their new kitties, too. We even managed to visit our favorite bakery, where there was still some Ollalieberry pie. Our six days of road tripping were good, successful for our purposes, while still feeling like we made special summer memories... the cabin in the woods-on-the-farm made that especially possible.

California Gardens...

At the Mission, San Luis Obispo~

Hollyhocks, like last year, in Cambria~

Flora and finds, North Main Street, Soquel~

Chooks and succulents up Soquel San Jose Road, at Casalegno's Store~

3 Laurel Glen Road, Soquel... growing atop a parking lot pole~

Redwoods, and lavander, Soquel~

Plumbago, Soquel~

Oak, Soquel~

Cape Mallow, El Capitan Canyon~

In spite of this four year drought we are enduring in California, there are still beautiful gardens to discover and enjoy, wonderful natural places, and old trees. We are adapting to using less water. The benefits is, we are appreciating native species, and recognizing the beauty in the less thirsty plants, like succulents, yarrow, salvias, ceanothus, rock rose, the lupines, and rosemaries. There are even roses that take less water, like my longtime favorite, Cécile Brünner. The hardships are real, like the loss of mature trees in our forests, dying for lack of water. The fires are harrowing. We are holding out hope for a turn around with this El Niño winter coming (not without its risks,) but I hope the good habits we are adapting will stay. Water catchment, drip irrigation, veggies over lawns, and foregoing acres of lush tropical gardens, when we are living in a dryer, hotter climate... none of this feels unreasonable, or too trying to accept.

Even more than last summer, as made our drive up the California coast, we were struck by the devastation of this drought, and also by something else... litter! It's incomprehensible, actually, to see mile after mile of roadside garbage... plastic bottles, and bags, junk, refuse, paper, wrappers. No place is untouched. And I wonder, with a heavy heart, when did this happen? When did our society let go, and stop caring? It's too extensive, too rampant, to be chance, to be a case of absentminded neglect. I am loath to point fingers, or accept this label, but it's got be said: We have become careless, slovenly, lazy citizens.


We collect garbage off the beach, when we visit. Garbage. It's left there, by people who... what? Think it doesn't matter? Don't think? I am crushed, and mystified. I want to start a conversation, wake up a movement, re-engage our concern about what we are doing, what's happening when we don't put trash in a receptacle, recycle, clean-up. I feel sheepish, too, because there have always been some places that were littered, and there's a tolerance for it... in empty city lots that are neglected, where medians look like ashtrays for smokers at traffic lights, but we are seeing trash in nice parks, on the beach, school yards, after concerts, or festivals, and none of it is right, none of it should be tolerable.


I am buying one of those trash grabbers. It's going to be my small gesture, my righteous fist of indignation raised in defiance. And I am going to clean-up. The world is full of causes and crises, we can hardly make a difference, it would seem. But I am going to do a little, and hope it helps.

All those gardens, all those spaces filled up with growing things, and pretty things, the huge oak trees, the shade beneath redwoods, the cool ferns in deep coastal canyons, and roadside blossoms were wonderful to see, inspiring. I was happy to come home to our own blooms... Calamity Kim's seeds took hold, and now we have more flowers for the bees!

Borage! Marvelous little wonder~

The cilantro, or coriander, has gone to seed. I can smell the pungent herb on my hands. It's one of those fragrances that recalls my mother in her garden, her cooking, her garden lessons.

Zinnias, with white coriander blossoms. I am looking forward to collecting the seeds.

Like firework bursts, the dill.

The cosmos! Happy flowers, all. Whether topping a steel tube in a parking lot, filling an old barrel or tub, I love how gardens, of any size, can give so much pleasure.