“…All work is empty save when there is love; and when you work with love, you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
and to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”
— Kahlil Gibran, “The Prophet”
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Thanks to my friend Julia and her suggestion at using this incredible resource, I found an audio book I’ve been considering buying at a nearby library yesterday. It was $80, so imagine my delight at having it on my iPod for free within 45 minutes of locating it in my own neighborhood. While smiling at my luck and browsing the shelves of dusty, well-worn friends, I came across two Lilly Pulitzer books on style.
I’ve seen Lilly’s clothing at Nordstrom’s, but always thought it was a bit much. The colors are exceptionally bright and the patterns remind me of what I’d imagine a gaggle of fashion-blind old women in Palm Beach would wear to the country club. In all fairness, the book didn’t sway that opinion 100%, but it did make me a fan of the woman behind the label. The books are gorgeous — full of color, texture, history and a cornicopia of design and art ideas. I found myself scanning eBay far too late last night looking at her many wild dresses.
It isn’t terribly surprising I could fall for Lilly. I’ve always loved Pucci and dream of wearing a vintage Diane Von Furstenberg wrap. I feel like such bright colors, paired with classic jewlery, a simple handbag and a nice pair of sandals are classic — think Charlotte.
Now, to get to those dress patterns haunting my sewing table! I need to bite the bullet and get my own designs into fabric and draped on my many gorgeous girlfriends. I can only imagine throwing my own summer party one day where everyone came in one of my creations. Oh, Lilly — you did this so very well:
So loud, so crazy and so very fun.
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- Domestic Art, Journal
Elephants are good luck, especially those with their trunks turned upward. Not surprisingly, they are among some of my favorite animals. Along with Brezos (zebras) and giraffes, the trifecta of African animals is so bizarre and beautiful.
Embellished baby clothing is an easy way to share my love of these gentle giants with new petites. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how thrift stores are a brilliant resource for projects of all sorts. Following Goodwill on Twitter, I’ve learned a bit about repurposing. Not to mention Soulemama’s latest book — at the top of my to-read list.
Repurposing, embellishing, being creative — they seem to be en vogue now more than ever. The downsides to a slowing economy are much simpler to discuss. Yet the silver-linings are pushing neighbors into community gardens, getting folks to cancel TV and pick up books, having families return to the dinner table for conversation rather than another drive through run, encouraging friends to share coupons and deals, and challenging us to be better versions of ourselves.
This weekend I’m having friends over to learn how to make preserves. We’re desert fruit gathering and canning. We’ll eat lunch, listen to music and gather together to learn a skill my grandmother once learned on a depression-era suffering farm.
I’m not happy that there are so many folks struggling to make ends meet. There are more hungry people now than ever before in my life, so it seems. But I am happy that it seems we are eating less, sharing more and learning with each breath.
Tell me that’s not a world in which you want to welcome an elephant-onsie wearing baby?
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- Community, Domestic Art, handmade
Kara came over this weekend to try out that fabulous boxy bag tutorial.
It was quite a bit fun and the tutorial is easy peasy. I love the results, especially those created with canvas in lieu of interfacing. They are easier to turn and sit up as nicely. Plus, meeting Kara and spending an afternoon talking about her gorgeous Native American jewelry and the fun of being able to create what you want with a sewing machine and in life.
Of course, my favorite are the Frida bags. Check out photos from this recent Frida birthday party. Oh, the sweetness! I am going to use this idea one day.
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- Community, handmade, Journal
When Amanda’s mom passed away last October, there was a part of my close group of childhood girlfriends (the Yas) that died too. Judy is the first parent to pass away, and she wasn’t just a parent. She was one of my friends — someone I loved talking to about books and travel. She was a woman I wanted to be more like. I always felt like a part of the family in their home and Judy and Amanda’s relationship was so peaceful and loving.
The months since her death have been so hard for Amanda, her brother and their father. In all fairness, they’ve been difficult for each of us too. I can say I’m holding my mom a bit closer, being a bit more appreciative, arguing less and loving more. I can also say I’ve watched Amanda in awe. Full of grace, she’s handling this mourning with the full spectrum of emotion and let herself feel and live it.
Amanda inherited many of her mother’s things. One of these was an old sewing box full of odd notions and patterns. She also received the bejeweled bag. Judy sewed on occasion and while Amanda loved this bag because it was her mother’s, her own style is much simpler. She asked if I’d take the handles and the style of the first and create something she’d like to carry — keeping the spirit and losing the flare.
This reversible tote was easy to create. I even found the green webbing for the handles in Judy’s sewing box — Amanda passed it along to me several months ago.
This project was a simple transition. Living in a time of life where our grandparents, parents and friends age, get sick and die isn’t. I hope those facing illness and mourning are similarly surrounded by a circle of loving and remembering friends. I am so thankful Judy’s spirit is alive and well — in her daughter, in her previous projects and in those of us who were lucky enough to spend time with her.
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- Faith, handmade, Journal
I am now on the board for the Phoenix Permaculture Guild, which so far has been such an enjoyable experience. The board members are this incredibly ecclectic group of wildly successful hippies who love to garden. They’ve taken me under their wing and I feel a little like I’ve found my tribe. At the last meeting, between gulps of homemade wine brought by a member who grows her own grapes, bites of mangoes from another member’s tree, and slices of chocolate cake from a Betty Crocker mix that I baked (woops) — I heard that a failed pumpkin crop can be rejuvenated in Phoenix this time of year. It seems counterintuitive to plant anything this time of year here, but these folks know what they are talking about.
I’d planted pumpkins several months ago and they either got too much sun or not enough water. Regardless, they are all goners. It made me so sad, especially considering how great those sunflowers did! Plus, nothing makes me feel like such a failure than when I can’t keep little plants alive. The recipe is so basic: good soil + sun + water = happy plants.
Taking their advice, I bought a new bunch of seeds and some organic compost this weekend. Two hours of clearing out yucky garden left-overs, turning the compost and washing the patio furniture, I also had these babies planted. Today I’m researching the best food and watering conditions for pumpkins. The timing is just right — they should be perfect come October 31st. I have this ridiculous dream of inviting my many friends with children over to pick their own pumpkins.
Let’s hope I don’t make any promises too early. I could very well end up looking like a giant ass, although I do have a backup plan that involves strategically placed grocery-store pumpkins.
Pumpkins are certainly one of my favorite vegetables. They remind me of my dad, who calls me Pumpkin, and the fall — which really is the happiest time of year in Phoenix.
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- Domestic Art, Earth Mama, Happy Hippie, Journal
I recently completed a prayer shawl for a friend, much of which I did seated in a blue rocking chair, staring at the Wind River Mountains, enjoying a giant fluffy dog at my feet. I selected the yarn because of the variegated purples — one of my favorite shades, and because it is exceptionally soft.
The trinity stitch was the perfect fit too; three knit, three purl, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In prayer for the recipient while knitting, I was reminded of the blessings of good health. It is one of life’s mysteries that we are able to completely overlook all that is wonderful and gracious until it suddenly slips away. Today, may I be more mindful of the plentitude of goodness in my life and remember to be even more thankful.
Psalm 143 says this so much better than I ever could.
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- Domestic Art, Faith, handmade, Happy Hippie
I can add sunflower seeds to the list of things I now know how to “make.” We grew half a dozen giant sunflowers and the blooms are currently drying. I’ll roast the seeds this weekend and I imagine cover some of them in dark chocolate for a certain someone I know who loves such a treat. Not surprisingly, I underestimated the garden’s abilities. I could have planted twice as many tomato plants and three times as many sunflowers. Gardening, like fly fishing and knitting, is an exercise in patience. You have to observe, practice, observe, practice a little more and then maybe you have a glimpse of what it takes to be successful.
After spending time away, it is nice to come home and get caught up on the little things. The sewing machine is roaring — putting to use those gorgeous fabrics from Fancy Tiger — and the garden is ready for a new planting. One of my permaculture friends mentioned a failed pumpkin crop isn’t a failure until October. You can replant pumpkins in August. I’m going to do just that this weekend and see how things roll. Spending time outside with my hands in the dirt is as joyful as having my hands sticky with kneaded bread or raw from knitting rough wool into something useful.
If you are looking for something useful to do this weekend, please consider supporting Jessica’s work in Brazil. I’ve known Jessica for several years and can tell you she is single-handedly changing the well-being of extremely poor communities in this country. She brings the adage of “be the change you want to see in the world” to life.
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- Happy Hippie, Journal
Spicy gazpacho for two:
Like a giant bowl of cold salsa for dinner. Perfect with a giant glass of cold white wine after a grueling hike of Camelback.
Yep — I’m one of those idiots you see on the mountain when it is 110 degrees outside. The upside is there is certainly no fight for parking this time of year.
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- Domestic Art, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
My dearest Finny,
I haven’t forgotten you, my friend. I promise. I realize I haven’t even acknowledged our July sew-along around here — but that’s just because I suck, not because I don’t love you.
And there you are, sewing your sweet little swimming suit cover up and knitting away like a crazed maniac while I’m out hiking in the wilderness.
But in all fairness, I was hiking with these two and how cute are they?
And while you may think, ” Look, Donk. Water. See that water? You need a swimsuit cover up!” You’d be wrong. Because see where that water is coming from? That’s right. The snow on the mountain above.
I’m a desert girl. I like my water 80+.
But all was not lost — believe it or not, I was thinking about art, sewing, and color quite a bit on my recent journey. For example — this lichen. Isn’t the color combination incredible? Leave it to Mama Nature to throw together bright lime and obnoxious orange on a gray background and have it work. And does it work.
Or the colors on this lightening-struck tree? Amazing. The golden hues caught my eye 50 yards away and I knew I had to try to capture them. Unfortunately there are certain magnitudes of nature that are simply too grand to fully capture.
I was listening to some crazy Utah radio station on the way home when an editorial about finding the right workout partner caught my ear. The narrator talked about how when you are sweating, with your heart beating in your ears and gasping for breath, the person working out next to you is such a great ear. You suddenly feel so free to share whatever is happening because you are both surviving this very moment together. Adam and Kim are great hiking partners. We talked enough to ignore the mosquitoes but keep the chattering of the squirrels and woodpeckers alive in our conversations.
The summit to Sacred Rim in the Wind River Mountains is a spectacular view for fairly little effort. Besides the mind-bending view from the top, he forest floor was eerily peaceful. We walked through two wide meadows full of summer flowers. Creeks babbled as we hopped on large rocks to cross. I felt a bit like Goldilocks — everything was just right.
Somewhere between a giant pine tree and another breathtaking vista, I recognized how very curative this trip was. Thanks for being patient with me, Fin. I know I haven’t been the best partner this month, but I’m back — with a giant bag of fabric and a knitting project completed to soon share.
P.S. Did you see this tutorial? I’m going to make a handful of these this weekend. Perfect for so many things!
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- Happy Hippie, Journal, Sew Along, Travel