Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

May this be a day that all of us remember the many things in our lives that we are grateful for and appreciate that we have been blessed with the love of those close to us.  This year, it will just be my husband and I sitting down to our feast, but we are happy and content with that.  All my sons have to share their time between multiple sets of parents, and so we are content to share them too.  Just last week, the DH and I decided that we really do want to get rid of a few extra pounds and feel healthier.  As a result, this Thanksgiving feast will be quite different than in years past.  Pared down to a much more manageable meal, we are putting together a few basics today, in as we serve up the leftover turkey and gravy in the next few days, we will add in newly prepared favorites so that each of the traditional comfort foods gets its moment.

One of the things that I am thankful for is that my energy and passion for creating is returning.  The dining room/Mom's room is now getting a base coat of paint.  I am sure it will run into next week to get it together, but then the new studio will become a reality.  I have chosen that foundation to use my time this year instead of crafting a multitude of gifts for others.  It was a hard decision, but this is so essential to me that I decided to gift myself this year.  The artisan inside is nearly bursting to get into action and ideas are filling my head.  There are so many wonderful projects waiting to be created, whether they are my own or by others.  For now, as all the space it needs is my lap, I have been knitting.  I adore cowls, and this is one I just finished.  Knit in garter stitch of neutral yarn, I added thin carry alongs to give it some color.  It was inspired by this free pattern from Purl Soho.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Darn Good Gumbo & We Had a Great Time

It was chilly, and we walked everywhere.
With eyes peeled for beads, I found a few primitive bead strings too.

 I scored lots of interesting focals ... some of them vintage

I also found some great clasps for some multi-strand bracelets, and charms.....

Did I say it was cold?  One might think that Asheville, NC would be a good place to find warmer clothing bits and pieces.  I wanted to find some comfy sweater leggings to go with my new boots, but all I saw were synthetic yukkies.  There seem to be quite a few to select from online, so I will keep fingers crossed. 
(Yes, I am a fiber snob)
We had lunch the first day at Mayfel's  a New Orleans style bistro, and I had the BEST gumbo.  I have to make some now that I am back home.  There is a gumbo recipe that I found in my Grandmother's circa 1900 cookbook that I like a lot, but the DH won't eat okra.  Even though there is not a hint of goo, he has a mental thing about it.  It's darn good gumbo though!  I make mine with chicken and ham (or not), and Mayfel's cooked it up with Anduille sausage in it.  ...They also had beignets.  Oh yeah!  They are a New Orleans delicacy that are very like crispy fried doughnuts, served hot and sprinkled with powdered sugar.   I can't begin to tell you how decadent they are on a cold day with a cuppa hot chicory coffee.  Mayfel's didn't have the chicory coffee, but they did have darn good coffee just the same.

We had a few meals from Katuah, a natural food store's salad table.  Good stuff.  We got some smoked chicken thighs that were so good that the DH is thinking to re-create them here.  Our last day out, we walked around Black Mountain and mid-way through the afternoon we stopped in our fav restaurant and shared a devilishly fudg-i-licious giant slice of chocolate cake and hot tea.  What a warm up that was.
We usually wear ourselves out with walking and sensory overload, and we like to be back at the hotel by late afternoon.  I usually take a portable project.  Remember the BedSack Frock?   It had been stashed away for over a year waiting for the next inspiration.  It has been on my mind ever since I returned from Pennsylvania in September.   I had taken it along and got artsy there with leaves.  I painted fallen oak leaves with fabric paints and pressed them to the fabric.  At the time, I wasn't exactly happy with the result.  Fall colors are not really my piece of cake, and the colors seemed heavy on the muslin canvas.  The next step might have been patching over those leaves.

However, the idea of embroidered water struck days before we left, and so I went armed with blue floss and a trusty needle, and got a lot of embroidery done on the BedSack.  I was stitching the creek.  I like how it's going.  It reminds me of Gustav Klimt with its curls and spirals.  ...Not too much though, cuz its not a raging torrent.  ...Kind of fun to just do whatever with long running stitches and patches of French knots.  The darker blue seems to balance and hold the leaves now, so the plan is to keep them.

One thing I found interesting as we munched on cake and looked out the window of our restaurant, watching the passers by, was that several were carrying newly purchased snow shovels and coasters.  It was beautiful and sunny in the 50's and 60's.  Weather was moving in this week!  It will be below freezing here too.  We have already had snow which is unheard of, and it may be a strange winter.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's On!

After several months, it appears that the plans for a dedicated jewelry studio is once again on.  When my mother passed, I had planned to paint her room.  It was our dining room, and first floor was a priority for her well-being.  Painted several years back, it was a glorious deep red.  I thought it was always quite exciting for a dining space, and it was all the rage at the time.  However, I had regrets so many times that we had not had the time to re-paint before we moved her into that space, and there was nowhere else to put her if we wanted to paint while she was with us.  Now, as I look at those walls, I remember the regret, and don't feel the same about it as I initially did.  So, re-painting was certainly part of the plan.  However, my sons and their families are all in agreement that they really like the dining space at the end of the living room.  It's now a "great room" even if it is a bit on the small side.  It helps to compensate for those dinner occasions when the family gathers and overflows from the table into the furniture.  So, we have decided to keep the arrangement and make use of the dining room for something else.  ...Lucky for me!  I had offered it to the DH as a "man cave," but he thinks I need it more than he does. ...(He's so intelligent!) 

Once again, the dreams awaken and planning is beginning to take shape.  The room has one window but is relatively dark.  Lightening the walls will help a lot, and improved lighting is essential.  As much as I love the warm rosy tones of the walls at the right, and even though it would be the quickest and easiest fix for the space, I am leaning toward the quieter mossy/beigy neutrals of the wabi-sabi walls now.  Because this space is open to the first floor of the house, I want it to have a better flow.

 My walls will be more creamy and have less drawing. 

I will do something a little different below the wainscot molding.  ...Not so dark, but having that distressed look, and I definitely think that some metallic gold touches are in order.  The photo to the right has a smudgy indication of gold stenciling above the doorways and along the ceiling molding.  I even have matchstick blinds on hand for a continuing effect.

Without a closet in the room, I will be using a large lowboy dresser for storage.  I may or may not paint the old teak wood dresser.  I hand rubbed it with tung oil decades ago, but the top was damaged with water marks when paper cups holding water were left there.  Now they are just reminders of the dementia that led to their presence.  I am into erasing those reminders now.

I am ready to move bravely onward.....