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Last Days of Harvest

September 8, 2010

The farmers are nearly done with harvest, the kids are back in school, and I have a substantial number of words written in my newest manuscript (Young Adult Science Fiction? I must be INSANE because no one writes these anymore, but oh well… Sometimes, you just have to follow your muse). Oh, yeah…and I FINALLY have some NEW ITEMS in the shop for you. More to come over the next few days and weeks.

Meet Lizzie. Remember her? She’s my baby, only three years old, and she started preschool yesterday. Granted, she only goes to class two days a week, but this is life-altering stuff for me. I’ve been at home with at least one child clinging to my legs for the last six years. I feel just plain odd without Lizzie bringing me her Ariel doll every few minutes for a quick wardrobe change.

But, here we are! Finally, I have new items up in the shop, and my new manuscript looks like a book when I print it off, and my pantry is slowly filling up with jars of apple butter and pre-cooked beans.

Seriously, canned beans are saving my budget! I prefer to cook my own beans because I dislike the tin taste to store-bought beans. Problem: who the heck has time to cook those beans for non bean-centric meals? And what do you do with the leftovers?

I know lots of people prefer to freeze their leftovers, but I don’t own a microwave, so thawing is an issue. A year ago, I started cooking my beans and then pressure canning them in batches of 4-8 at a time. One pound bag of beans yields four pint jars. Soak beans overnight, cook for half an hour, then hot pack in jars. Process in pressure canner for 70 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure. Easy.

My mom just bought me a smaller pressure cooker…one that actually fits on my stove, which means I can cook the beans at home instead of running next door to use the church’s kitchen. Yes, I’m happy about that. 🙂

Chili night! With Cornbread! And chocolate chip cookies made with weevil-free flour! What are you having for dinner? Are you ready for Fall foods as well?


Home again, Home again, Jiggity Jig…

September 1, 2010

Ok, so I lied. The end of July was pretty busy while I sewed cloaks and prepared my little family for its first camping expedition. Then came the camping. Then came the rest of my vacation. And before the camping, we learned that a friend of ours was murdered, so there was that as well. And I was sick. End result: I lost August. And you know what? Good riddance! August was terrible. Naughty, bad, bad August!

But, hurrah for September! I love September. Emilie begins school tomorrow, it’s again cool enough to garden, and I get to kick around in my boots again. Gotta love kicking around in your favorite boots, right?

Emilie begged me all of last year to make her lunches. Now, when I was a kid, the cool kids all got hot lunch, so I didn’t get it. But, I’ve changed my tune. She told me what she expects from a lunch: sandwich, fruit, a drink, and a treat. Sounds pretty reasonable. So, we’re going to bake cookies (or something) every week to put in her lunches… Up tonight: oatmeal raisin bars.

But…er. There were WEEVILS IN THE FLOUR! Big ew. Thankfully, they are not in the tin we keep on the counter, so we were still able to make cookies. But, y’know. Pretty gross.

Daleks and Wide Open Spaces

July 14, 2010

Summers tend to be crazy around here. On top of the usual writing and designing routine, I garden, help run VBS at our church, and do my best to drag the girls to see all of their relatives. We’ve already been out to Montana, have entertained family here at home, and have three more trips scheduled for the future. Lots of driving through wide open spaces.

Oh, and then I got hooked on a very old obsession of mine. Have I mentioned that I write fiction? Specifically, I write YA Fantasy, and recently got back into writing YA Science Fiction. So, on to the obsession. When I was a child, I was obsessed with Doctor Who. I didn’t have much chance to watch the new incarnations of the Doctor, but Netflix and several long weeks of studio time helped me to catch up. Oh, the doctor! Especially this newest doctor (Eleven, if you’re a fan and keep track of his incarnations). So adorable. And BOW TIES!!! As the doctor says, “Bow ties are cool.”

So, I decided to launch a second shop for selling bow ties because, once I made one, I had to make a dozen. I’m still figuring out closures and getting the details right, but I’m very VERY excited about these. *fans self* Bow ties aren’t just cool. They’re hot!

Writing-wise, I had to pause book #5 so that I could research mysteries and figure out what form to use to structure the plot. So I went back to the first book I ever wrote (18 years ago) and decided to rewrite it from scratch. It’s going really, really well. Five days and 5,000 words. Can’t get much better than that!

Oh, and my daughters are as obsessed with the new Doctor Who as I am. My three year old calls Doctor Eleven “The funny doctor,” which is about the highest compliment she knows how to give, but her favorite characters are the Daleks. We like to watch youtube fanvideos when we need to pass a few minutes here and there, but couldn’t find a single amusing dalek video. Travesty! So I edited my first video. Ever.

And that catches you up on me. I’m back now. 🙂 Soon to come: bow-ties, skirts, and the first samples from my Fall collection.


Aja! Jenn, Fighting!

June 6, 2010

This has to be the silliest thing I’ve ever made, but I love it! This wall hanging is a graduation gift for the girl I spent the last few months working with. She designed and made her graduation dress – I helped coach her along the way. It was great fun for me because I got to get out of the house and chat with one of the few souls in town who knows how utterly awesome Korean dramas are.

No, really. They are!

“Aja!” is a word of encouragement. It means “fighting!” (I think), and it’s about gathering up your fighting spirit in order to attack the task ahead. We say it in the house (the girls and I) when we need to attack the weeds, the laundry, not peeing the bed at night, or fear of the dark. I tell my youngest, “Aja! Lizzie, fighting!” And she tells me, “Aja, Mama! You can fold that laundry.”

Anyhow, K knows all about “Aja!” and it just seemed a very appropriate graduation gift. The transition between home and Beyond is thrilling and scary at once: definitely the right time to call on one’s fighting spirit!

Might have to make one of these for myself.

Sneak Peek!

June 4, 2010

Seersucker, pinstripes, and a dab of ric-rack. I’m just working on a shorter one for narrower hips (baby size) before I load this one in the shop. I’m offering them by length rather than size, excepting the under 2T versions. The elastic will be set according to the child. I’m really excited about this one, and so is Lizzie! So twirly!

Time to get the studio ready for the next project: finishing a graduation dress with the HS student who designed it. 🙂 We’ve been working on this project weekly for a couple months. It’s so fun to see how it turned out!

Missing the Beach

June 1, 2010

Until three years ago, I spent my entire life within an hour (sometimes less) of the beach. I didn’t miss the beach the first summer, or the second summer, or even the third summer. Today? I would love to go agate hunting, or go climb rocks in search of tidepools in the Sound. I even miss the smell of rotting seaweed along the beaches in Birch Bay. Well, maybe I don’t miss Birch Bay and the flies and yellow jackets swarming on the drifts of rotting seaweed, but I miss the rest of it!

Usually, when I write, I have a lime green polka-dotted mug that I drink coffee from, but I’ve switched cups. This one just arrived from Anthropologie. 🙂 I have a very similar teapot given to me by three of my closest friends almost a decade ago. Who knew that, one day, I would have a cup to go with it? I think this is a very appropriate vessel shift as the hero in the new book is, like me, a coastal dweller who is forced to live inland. I need my little reminder of home. I wonder what object he keeps close – should figure that out.

I love the inscription in the bowl of the cup because it reminds me of every ballad about the ocean twining some sailor/whaler/explorer/press-ganged gentleman from his sweetheart. I used to love the sailor and his sweetheart songs: Dark-Eyed Sailor, My Johnny Was a Shoemaker, Peggy-O (sort of), Farewell to Tarwathie, Lowlands of Holland (Australia), Lady Franklin’s Lament…I could go on and on. Love, love, love them.

The downside of the inscription: a touch of poor grammar. The words should read “my love and me,” but I think I’ll overlook this. Let this little slip-up remind me to avoid passive voice and ending sentences with prepositions.

Moose Sighting!

May 30, 2010

This is not what you expect to see out your kitchen window. It was hauling between my house and the neighbor’s abode, so I dried my hands on my sweater as I dove for the camera and told the girls to go look out the back window.

Somehow, I only see these beasts when they’re dropping the velvet off their antlers (disgusting, fyi), or when they’re losing their winter coats. Also, seeing a moose in town is completely different from seeing that same moose blocking your path on a mountain trail while a dangerous Montana lightning storm has your hiking mate quaking in his boots. A moose is an unpredictable creature. He/she could leave you alone, or attack. A moose between you and home = a bit scary. A moose reclining in the grass under your laundry line = so cute! (Even if he is ugly as sin) If you zoom in, you can see his little antler buds.

I had other things I wanted to blog about today, but they’ll have to wait. Time to get my little monkeys on the bedtime train!