Monday, November 29, 2010

Bags Bags Bags!

I am taking a quick break from sewing to tell you that all I've been doing with my life lately is sewing bags. Bags bags bags! For serious, I'm making a boat load of bags. (Have I mentioned that I'm selling them on Etsy? Check out the current crop here...more to come soon!)

But why so many bags, you ask? Well, I'm going to be selling them at the In God We Trust holiday bazaar on December 11. Me and 12 other sellers will be hawking our handmade wares at their Greenpoint shop at 70 Greenpoint Ave between 11am and 6pm. Fun times! Booze served! We're gonna get you all liquored up so you'll buy a shocking amount of handmade goods! So, I'm sewing up a storm for this event, hoping that HeyAllday bags will be stuffed in stockings everywhere.

In the midst of this, I thought I'd take a moment and show you a couple that I made recently. The fabric design reminds me a heck of a lot of the prints Dwell was doing four or five years ago...that's what you get when you buy recycled linens at the fancy Salvation Army in Chelsea! The bag shown at top is my first go at a two-tone bag. I LOVE this technique...the bottom part of the bag appears to be denim or something, but it's actually a really soft flannel material. The bag below it is pure sheet. (And by sheet, I literally mean sheets...I'm not saying shit in a funny voice.)

These photos were taken on a gorgeous day weekend before last. I love the light Robb was able to get in the photos, but I'm so mad that we didn't get a single shot of the really cute hat I was wearing. It was if Annie Hall shopped at Anthropologie. That is how I felt wearing that hat! We strolled about all afternoon snapping photos, and we managed to capture bags (of course), my big ugly boots, and this photo of me wearing my giant white sunglasses in winter. And HOLDING the hat, of course. Sigh...I promise to wear the hat for all of you sometime soon. Then you can all proceed to mock me for imagining that I have a hat cool enough to say it's what Annie Hall would buy at Anthropologie.

But aren't you excited about the bags?

And finally, for no good reason, here are some leaves. A quick snapshot en route to work on a rainy day. What I love best about this photo is that I managed to capture the toe of my beloved cowboy boots, which in itself looks not unlike a wet leaf.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Hats!

Two Thanksgivings ago, a tradition was born in our household. Or perhaps, if we consider the construction paper toppers of kindergarten, the tradition began many many moons ago and was only rediscovered two years ago. Either which way, at our house we make paper hats on Thanksgiving. Oh, and we've never had a child at our house for the holidays. So, um, these are adult Thanksgiving hats. And we love them!

First of all, no one ever wants to be the pilgrim. In this photo, I am wearing the big chief hat that I made for Robb while Julie sports her young warrior feathers.

Kelly, on the other hand, was sort of born to be a pilgrim, don't you think? I love the way that her yellow band matches her cocktail.

The Thanksgiving hat tradition officially began the year before last when a group of our friends got together to make "decorations" for our feast. For our centerpiece, we wrapped construction paper around this paint can and made a bunch of flower-shaped thingies. It only took about four hours to complete. Totally practical!

The BEST paper craft to come out of our decoration party--and one that is still with us and hopefully will be forever--is Julie's "Horn of Just Enough." Julie went into a sort of quiet netherworld on our crafting night and emerged hours later to present to us her paper cornucopia. She cut out all of these little tiny pieces and taped/glued them inside of a rolled up piece of brown paper. But the best part is, everything is so tiny! All of those little grapes! And are those pickles on the bottom right? Seriously, I could spend hours of amusement looking at this thing.
At our house, Thanksgiving is a fancy affair, and we take our hats seriously. As you can see, when I load up the bread basket on the floor because we're officially out of counter space, I still rock my feathers.

And shouldn't every Thanksgiving involve running off to the bathroom with your girlfriends so that you can all check out your hats together?
No matter what Thanksgiving traditions you have in your household--be they culinary traditions, family football games, or weird hat traditions, like ours--we wish you a very very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Immortality of a Chipotle?

Like most legends of immortality (vampires, Frankenstein's monster, etc.), this tale begins with a "story" that Robb heard: the story of the immortal pepper plant.

You see, Robb has a buddy in Detroit who grew pepper plants in his yard one year, and he decided at the end of the season to dig them up, put them in pots, and keep them in his house over the winter. Apparently, despite the cold and/or the dryness and insufferable heat of the radiator, they lived all winter long. Come springtime, he moved them outdoors again, where they were bigger, more robust, and even spicier than they had been before!

So, with the urgency and high hopes of a gold miner in 1849, we got out the shovel and dug up the pepper plants.

Here is a hole where a pepper plant once was!

Truth be told, it IS November 17, and by all accounts, these plants should be shriveling and dying. And yet, there they were, still producing big scary hot peppers, the leaves still green and robust, the stalks strong and woody. I mean, they're like little decorative trees! So we thought, it's now or never. If we're going to do this experiment, we should do it now, while they're still healthy and happy.

We put one in our living room. (It's big, right?)

And two in our bedroom. (Talk about spicing things up!)

Truth be told, we have no idea if this experiment will work. When we mention the transplant to most people, they give us sort of a pitying look, wondering why we are trying to mess with the natural cycle of life this way. Have we watched Young Frankenstein too many times? I don't know. But come springtime, we'll see who's laughing!

OK, and I know this has nothing to do with the immortality of pepper plants, but right after we dug them up, we also hung this chandelier in our living room. We love it! It was made for us by Robb's dear old friend, Andy Kem. Yes, he MADE this. Isn't that bananas? If you, yourself, would like to check out his amazing handmade light fixtures and furniture, click here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ryan Devlin's Chili Will Make You See God

I love my friends. I love chili. I love dogs. So since Saturday night included all of these things, it was naturally a really awesome night.

For months now, me, Robb, Jess and Ryan have been talking about having a chili cookoff. This was after a series of dinners where we repeatedly tried to injure each other with hot peppers. (The last one involved a late-night "hot pepper tasting contest" at our house where I offered Jess a slice of cheese to cool the burn of a Thai pepper, and she grabbed the whole hunk of mozarella and put it in her mouth like a compress.) Alas, Jess and Ryan decided to host, and Ryan made the declaration that his chili would "make us see God." And boy, did it! Like a total jerk, his chili was hands-down the best. Pictured above, it ruled the chili universe with a smoky chipotle burn that hit you right in the middle of your forehead, and creamy cannellinis that were a textural odyssey in beanery.

Six people brought over their special blend of chili (only five shown here...Mo's crockpot had yet to arrive), and about 20 or 30 of us milled about tasting, talking, critiquing, and dodging the four dogs that ran about like banshees. Best of all, every single chili was totally unique. From Jess's green chili with chicken to Tom's pork-and-bacon chili with a nice garlicky kick, not a single chili was the least bit similar.
These two lovebirds tasted every chili together and jotted down the heat and flavor ranking for each one in order to accurately tally their results. I don't think "appearance" was judged here because, as you may have noticed, chili is not attractive. That is why there is only one photo of people eating chili...this is literally the only somewhat attractive photo I have from the night. So from here on out I'm going to stop showing pictures of chili.
Know what else isn't attractive?Close-up shots of Chris and I eating cornbread. Okay, enough of the gross food shots, let's move on to the main event: puppies!!
Everyone, this is Mister. He is Jess and Ryan's new puppy, and he is so small and wobbly with the biggest eyes ever. Absolutely irresistable!
He also moves very quickly, so it's hard to keep him in focus. But look at his big blurry eyes!
He's cute when people pet him.
And Mister even helped Jess tally the results of the chili cook-off. I guess I should mention that Ryan's chili a mile! (Total jerk.) We tied Tom for second. Good for us!

Here's Sugar, who I interrupted mid-snooze.
And here's Sugar wondering how my camera will taste.
I can't remember the name of this dog, but he was so hilarious and moved so quickly, this is all of the documentation I have. With his bucking bronco antics, he was our entertainment for the evening, for sure. He, and all of the other dogs, and the chili, and the awesome friends that is.

Thanks for hosting, Jess and Ryan!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beret Bonanza

I don't know about you, but whenever I see a beret, let alone hear the word "beret," I think of that French girl in European Vacation trilling the name "Rusty" atop the Eiffel Tower. (Roooosty...) Classy, I know.

Aside from bad 80's movies references, I happen to have an immense love of berets. Even before slouch hats came to Forever 21 and lady folks of all ages began to sport this new incarnation of the classic, I loved me a nice beret. So it was with mild disappointment when, as you saw a couple of weeks ago, I completed my massively cabled beret only to discover that I had made a beanie. After reading that post, Melanie called me up right away and asked, "have you thought about blocking it?" She even offered to let me borrow her beret blocker, to which I replied, "wait a minute, there's such a thing as a beret blocker?" And yes, there is! Melanie's is a big wooden disk from some fancy place where they wear berets a lot (I'm gonna say Scotland, or maybe Nova Scotia?) Because my hat was so teeny tiny--more like a baby hat than a beret--we determined that her beret blocker would be too big. So instead I doused my blue hat in water and wrapped it around a small dinner plate.
Et voila! It became a nice little discus, and the stitches finally stretched out so that you can really for reals now see the cables. It's still a snug fit when you put it on, which is just fine with me. But boy oh boy, this little beanie grew up to be a very jaunty little tam. And it almost doesn't need the pompom on top anymore. Does anyone want to cast a vote on that? Is it, like, sacrilege to remove a pompom once it's been attached to a hat?
The red beret was the hat that I made when I was feeling blue about the blue hat not turning out to be a beret. Which it is now. (I know, it's so confusing!) As you may recall, I got out my needles the day after finishing the blue hat and cast on with Classic Elite Fresco--one skein of which made the beret shown here. This one, ironically, turned out a tad too large. I think I might have been overcompensating. (Will I ever get it right??) I will probably string a little elastic through the brim at some point since I'm fairly certain I will experience wind this winter. In this photo, I'm enjoying my new beret in our backyard as Robb pulls up and re-pots our pepper plants and I enjoy an espresso. (I wore my gardening gloves to give the illusion of helping.)

This hat--as far as tactile deliciousness is concerned--is one of the most pleasurable hats I've ever made/worn/swooned over. It's like wearing a kitten on your head. Or maybe, more accurately, an angora bunny. But not so itchy or squirmy (or clawy). The thing is pure fluff, through and through. Love it. Love them both, for that matter! I like to think that these two berets will live on together in accidentally patriotic harmony--the two berets that begot one other. One small, one grande, both yummy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zack and Renee

Mom's New Haircut from Frequent Flyer Productions on Vimeo.
Since this blog is dedicated to all things handmade, I thought I'd put a spotlight on this video that my dear friend Zack made about his mother. I don't often think of things like film as being "handmade" since the tools to make it have hard metal parts and require electronics--nothing like the soft fuzzy yarn I'm used to! But when you watch something like this, you can see his hands (and his heart)--hell, maybe even his spleen--all over it. It came from the humblest of places in the human experience: the desire to make something in hopes of helping someone. And in this case, Zack uses the medium of film to its fullest: to share emotion, to share an experience, to show you what strength looks like, and to rally support.
Here's the skinny: Zack's mom, Renee, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in the last six years. Sometimes we talk about what it means to be a strong and graceful woman. Well, no one's got nothing on Renee. I'm so happy to have the honor of knowing her--she's a good example for us aspiring strong and graceful women.
Because his words (and Renee's) speak MUCH louder than my own, do me a favor: watch the video. Zack's wife Sara, and his sister Shawn, are walking with their team "The Healthy Hooters" in the Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk for the Cure. If this video strikes a chord with you, click here to support their team, to support Renee, and to support sisters, mothers, daughters, and lady folks everywhere.

Special note: if after watching the video you ask yourself, my goodness, what is this spookily gorgeous song? Know that it was written and recorded by our friend Chad Reisser who was inspired when he saw a rough cut of the video. It will (fingers crossed) hopefully become a track on The Dailes next record. Go check them out, too, while you're at it: