Blue Cashmere Patchwork Blanket

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Hi everyone! What have you been up to? Besides work and regular life, I’ve been working on a revision of my nonfiction project. I finally seem to be getting somewhere with it.

And then there’s this blanket, which came together pretty quickly, all things considered. Like its sister blankets, it’s made from thrifted cashmere sweaters. These are so cozy and very popular in our house.

In other news, just finished reading How to Be a Person in the World by Heather Havrilesky. It’s a collection of her advice columns (she’s the author of New York Magazine’s “Ask Polly”). I enjoyed it a lot, especially the one about making friends as an adult. The columns are more like essays, really, and if you liked Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, you may enjoy this one, too, unless you’re offended by lots of strong language.

Other things I’m enjoying: rooibos teas from Adagio Teas: green citrus, caramel, and vanilla chai.

Anybody watched the new Anne of Green Gables TV series? Haven’t tried it myself, but I’m intrigued. Okay, gotta run. Hope to be back soon.

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Finished Scrap Quilt

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The thing about documenting projects on a blog is that I can actually see how long things take me. Yipes! I started this lap quilt over two years ago. But on the bright side, I’ve actually finished two quilting projects in the same month. A record!

I got bogged down in the quilting of it. It’s my first attempt at free motion machine quilting, and I struggled a lot with the technique. I still haven’t figured out what all was going wrong, but I finally made peace with it and decided I could accept the deeply flawed quilt stitching. If I hadn’t, I don’t think I ever would’ve finished it. Let’s just say it’s a good thing you can’t see the back of this puppy.

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Now that it’s all finished, I am really loving this piece—the deliberate wonkiness, the way the colors and patterns play against each other. My nine-year-old started designing it when he was seven. He had some strong opinions about it. The scraps are from all sorts of things: his baby quilt, his crib sheets, vintage family fabric, a friend’s crib sheets, his baby sling, a friend’s baby quilt, various craft projects, and on and on.

My favorite way of seeing this quilt is wrapped around my little guy like a cape. If you want to see this quilt in an earlier stage, click here.

For more of my patchwork and quilting projects, click here.

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Green Apple and Aqua Quilt

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Ever notice how some people have a kind of family color palette? They pick out clothing and decor with the same basic colors again and again. For me, that palette is blue and orange. I can’t seem to get enough of different variations on that theme, both in clothing, decor, and even in my paintings to a certain extent.

I always think of red and blue as being my parents’ family colors, and for my in-laws, at least for the women, green apple and aqua are a recurring theme. My daughter has in the last few years adopted that color palette as her own, and I love it.

She came up for the concept for this quilt/ duvet cover—the colors, the shapes. She picked out most of the fabrics, with a few scraps coming from friends and family. I put them all together, and I’m pretty happy with it, if I do say so myself. It took me two years plus to finish this project, though of course I was doing lots of other things in between and lost interest several times.

I’m so glad it’s finished!

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Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie

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Little Miss got a hankering for chicken pot pie the other day. I envisioned us making the  pie together, but wouldn’t you know, she had to leave for an afternoon event, and I ended up doing 88% of the work myself. Same old story, amirite moms?

So by the time we sat down to eat the pie, I was all, “I’m never making this again!” It was a lot of trouble.

But then it was so delicious, I may have to revise my stance. Maaaaaybe I’ll make it again, but only if someone else does 50% or more of the work.

The best part was our nine-year-old lapped it up without a word. He’s very suspicious of new recipes and also usually complains about vegetables all mixed up together (Onions?! How could you?!).

The crust did fall apart—you can see it’s laid on top in wedges—but who cares? It really was fantastic, and you would never guess in a million years that it’s gluten free.

A few notes on the recipe. I didn’t have any tomato paste and wasn’t sure I wanted it in the pie anyway, so we skipped that and didn’t miss it. Also didn’t have peas (skipped) or heavy cream (substituted milk) or sherry (substituted white wine). No problemo!

The recipe as in the book How Can It Be Gluten Free? doesn’t seem to exist online, but if you follow their recipe for a single GF pie crust here and the filling part of the recipe for chicken pot pie here, you’ve basically got it. Just use the America’s Test Kitchen gluten-free flour mix instead of all-purpose flour in the filling and you’re good to go. If you’re not gluten-free, you can just use the original ATK recipe, obvs.

Happy New Year! Hope your holidays were great. I’m glad to be gearing up for our regular routine and looking forward to doing a little culling of books, clothes, toys, etc.

 

 

Rey Costume (The Force Awakens)

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Is it a belated Halloween post? My preparation for the premiere of Rogue One? Or just my warrior outfit for the challenges that lie ahead?

How about all three?

Wow, 2016. What can I say? Are you as exhausted as I am with the onslaught of awfulness?

Despite everything, playing Rey for a day was wicked fun. Once again, this costume is a mish-mash of altered thrift store finds. The trickiest part was finding the right fabric for the drapey scarfy thing that goes on top. No, that curvy thing behind my head is not part of the costume. It’s a lizard made from a seed pod (a gift to us from friends).

For more not-exactly-from-scratch costumes, click here.

Watching: Recently finished The Crown on Netflix. So, so good if you like period stuff about aristocratic/ royal types. Reading: Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates, a light-hearted history of early New England colonists—amazing how resonant many of the issues still are today. New-to-me blog: Blue Collar Red Lipstick –fashion by a  professional and classy yet quirky dresser who relishes a good thrift find.

 

Natural Beauty Care Products

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I don’t know about you, but this fall has been a little stressful. Hope everyone is practicing good self-care—getting rest, exercise, eating well and all that good stuff. I figure it’s a good time to share a few of my favorite natural beauty products. I find it can be difficult to find information about ones that really work and aren’t ridiculously expensive.

What do I mean by “natural?” Basically, less full of bad stuff like petroleum products and chemicals that might be harmful to us in the long run. I’m by no means a purist about this. I’ve taken a very slow approach of changing one product at a time.

I started out with shampoo and found it was really tough to find something I liked, didn’t have parabens, and was reasonably priced. Later I realized a lot of this had to do with the fact that it’s difficult to make liquid shampoo shelf-stable without a lot of preservatives. In the end I switched over to shampoo bars by Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Company. In the beginning, your hair will feel a little bit different, but it’s really not a big transition, and I’ve been very happy with their products for the last few years.

When I switched to bar shampoo, I quit using conditioner almost entirely in favor of good ol’ white vinegar. I keep a plastic bottle of it in the shower, along with an upturned plastic cup. When it’s time to rinse, I pour about a tablespoon or so into the cup, fill with water, and then dump it over my head. The vinegar smooths the hair shaft down so you get much fewer tangles. I finish off with a tiny tiny dab of stay-in conditioner (Say Yes to Carrots or an even tinier dab of coconut oil).

I’ve tried a few different natural deodorants before with really lousy results, so I was thrilled to discover (thanks, sister-in-law!) Piper Wai, which smells great and works really well. It’s NOT an antiperspirant, but I don’t sweat much at all with it, and odor has never been a problem (as far as I know—lol!). Full disclosure: I don’t sweat much to start with, and I DO use a traditional deodorant in certain settings, i.e. wearing a silk dress at a wedding where I danced the night away.

Lastly, there’s MyChelle moisturizer, which uses the better kind of sunscreen in it, the barrier kind rather than the chemical kind. It doesn’t make you look or feel pasty. I’m a convert.

What about you? Have you tried and liked any natural care products? I am still on the hunt for something natural that will help me style my fine floppy hair. No luck so far with anything I’ve tried.

In other news, yes I’m still writing as much as possible and making progress on my projects. Currently reading I Will Always Write Back and watching Younger. Also glad Jane the Virgin is back. Working on some Halloween costumes I hope I can share soon. Cheers!

 

Cashmere Patchwork Throw #2

 

I’ve missed you, readers! I’ve been busy with work, writing, and taking care of the family. Meanwhile I have been crafting, but mostly on big projects where my progress has been slow.

Here’s one project that’s actually finished. If you’ve been around long, you may remember my previous similar project in different colors. This one is very much the same, made from thrifted cashmere sweaters.

It’s crazy hot in North Carolina, but this throw is already in high demand around here. There’s just nothing like wrapping yourself up in cashmere.

Read or watched anything good lately? I loved the indie film Sing Street, about an Irish 80s teenage band, created to impress the hero’s love interest. Also enjoyed reading The Nest, a funny novel about grown siblings fighting over their shared inheritance.

I’ve been thinking about my fall wardrobe and new ways to mix things up. For one, I’m working on getting things fixed that have needed it for some time: shoes, boots, clothes needing alterations, beads that need restringing. Have to replace some buttons on a sweater and am even going to attempt repairing some cashmere sweaters that have a hole—wish me luck! I’ll be reporting back on that.

Loving following Sherri Lynn Wood’s Instagram feed (@sherrilynnwood). She’s an artist/ quilter, and I always love her style, but this summer is special—she’s been doing a residency at the San Francisco dump (yes, the dump!) where she’s been uncovering amazing finds to make into quilts. I can’t wait to see her finished products. Nothing I love better than watching treasures be uncovered and made into art.

That’s all for now. Hope I can make it back here in the near future!