Sunday, April 30, 2017

How Can So Much Happen in One Little Month?

In early April we finally got access to our rental unit. To quickly catch you up if you need it, we bought a sweet little duplex in Seaside, Oregon in December, and moved in during one of January's most inconvenient snow storms in Portland. We set up camp in the back unit, and fixed it up while we waited for the tenants up front to come to the end of their lease. Now that it's all ours, the plan is to fix up the other little 500 square foot apartment to be used as guest space for friends and family, and also as income property in the form of a vacation rental.

As we set out to get the proper permits for our VRD (Vacation Rental Dwelling), we learned that the codes and standards for Airbnb type rentals are much stricter than for regular full-time leased rentals. There have been way more expensive surprises than we'd imagined, and we actually did figure on some. We didn't know we would have to replace two electrical panels and move one to another room. We didn't know our galvanized pipe was dissolving. We didn't know that every wall that need to be opened was "sheetrocked" with plywood. And we didn't know that every project, once started, would create several accessory projects that couldn't be avoided.

Rick got the flu just as we started all this, so he was miserably huddled up in bed for a week while I wrangled workers and got kind of comfortable playing crew boss. By the time he was back on his feet, a lot of the work had been completed, but there was still a lot more to do. The two guys we had hired to help Rick actually ended up doing more than we'd planned on. They were pretty good, but not super professional as handymen. We dubbed them "the Darryls," after the guys from the old Bob Newhart show - Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl... They bickered like an old married couple, and went round and round about how various things should be done. Eventually they muddled through to a point where Rick could take over, and we let them go after they spent an afternoon trying to sort out how to cut the angles in the crown moulding. They never did figure it out.

Now we're down to taping, texturing, and painting (my most unfavorite thing that I happen to be very good at), and final visits from the plumber, electrician, and inspectors. It's been intense, but at least it's all moved along pretty quickly. And because I wasn't doing most of the work (until the painting), I've had lots of time for Making Things.

All of the things I'll show you were made during the month of April. I also whipped out three nice hats, made from handspun yarn a new friend gifted me with. I am in a making stuff frenzy, which I actually credit directly to the chaos going on around me. It's sort of a call and response type of thing. Chaos and Creativity are a great team.

It's time to update my website and start sharing some of my new projects. On a small scale (not walls), I enjoy painting quite a lot. It's impossible for me to see a perfect sand dollar on the beach and not pick it up. At the moment I have about 75 of them sunning themselves in the backyard. On a rainy day just before Easter, I picked up a paintbrush and turned a big batch of sand dollars into colorful little works of art. When I figure out how to mail them, I'll offer some for sale.

I'm also kind of obsessively making crocheted lampshades. I think it's pretty funny that years ago, when I told someone we were moving to Taos, she got a very knowing look on her face and asked, "Are you a Lightworker?" I had no idea what that even meant at the time, but following the thread, I was a beadmaker at the time - also known as a "lampworker". Now I make actual lamps, and yes, my goal, after all, is to bring more light to the world, both literally, as in with lightbulbs, and also in the more "woowoo" way of simply shining my own little light as much as I can in hopes of raising the vibe a bit. In answer to that long ago question, yes, I suppose I am a Lightworker - in lots of ways. And again, when I figure out how to ship them, I'll offer these beauties for sale too.

After I ran out of lampshades, I turned to earrings. I'm going to San Francisco in a couple of weeks, to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge with my uncle, in celebration of both his and the bridge's 80th birthdays in May. This summer is also the 50th anniversary of the summer of Love in San Francisco, and I think these earrings are a perfect fit. More in the works! You can never have too many earrings. Never.

I really don't know where this last bit of inspiration came from. I'm not really a doll person. I don't own any, and the few I saved from my little girl years were handed off to my daughter long ago. For some reason though, these soft and simple mermaid dolls want to be made. Obediently, and to my own surprised delight, I am making them. Here are the first two, who have already been adopted.

Tinkering with the idea a little more, and following all leads from the dolls themselves, this is the third one. I adore making the hair. Isn't life pretty much all about the hair?

She has a home too, but I think I'll be making more, and yes, I'll offer them for sale, on my website, along with all the other new things.

That was April. Maybe I'll name this doll April, in honor of the whole flurry of a month. Writing all this down, I'm absolutely and humbly amazed at all that's sifted through my world in just four little weeks. I'm looking forward to May, but first I think I need to rest a minute.

Friday, February 17, 2017


It was Valentine's Day Eve, and not being very good at planning ahead for holidays, I had a sudden urge to crochet some hearts to share with the world. I made six of them while binge-watching MadMen (I can't explain), and a few more the next morning, with a vague plan to give them to random strangers throughout the day.

Two days earlier, I had a knock at the door, and there was a total stranger, a neighbor from a block or so up the street, holding two packages of mine that I'd assumed were missing forever. This made three rather important items our new mail delivery person had dropped off at the wrong address. One was our rent deposit check. I was getting grumpy.

I checked into filing an official complaint with the USPS, and then considered calling or visiting the local post office to grumble in person. And then, while working on a nice pink heart on Valentine's Day morning, it occurred to me to try being nice first.

I pulled out my good thank you notes, handmade by my daughter, and wrote a short, polite message to the mailman. I explained that several of our things had been mistakenly delivered to a similar address up the street, and that I'd be ever so grateful if he could help solve the issue. Then, figuring that everyone enjoys a surprise Valentine, I enclosed the pink heart, wrote "To Our Mail Carrier" on the envelope, and left it in the mailbox. I didn't know what to expect, so didn't expect anything.

Heart #1, delivered.

As we went about our day, I handed a few more hearts to people I interacted with, but the most fun was sneakily leaving them as surprises, resting on a pile of lemons in the market, dropped into a fellow shopper's bag when they looked away for a second, tossed into an open car window, dropped into a tip jar (along with a real tip, of course), left hanging on a hedge by the beach... So much fun.

Rick helped me, and came up with the name "Heart-Balming" as an alternate to "Heart-Bombing." This morning he asked me when we could do it again, and I pointed to the growing stack of rainbow colored hearts I started making after dispersing fifteen red, pink, and white ones in the course of one Valentine's Day.

We can do this every day. And we might. I think it might even be worthy of inviting others to join us, because it's really fun, and who knows, it just might be helpful to the world. For a while, at least, I think I'll carry a pocket full of hearts wherever I go, along with a crochet hook and a ball of yarn, in case I need to make one on the fly. If you see me, ask for one. Maybe I'll give you two, so you can share the Love with someone else. And if you want to make your own and join in on this very unofficial Heart-Balm Project, please do!

Back to the mailman... When we got home and took our mail out of the box, there was a little note for us in reply to mine...

This made my own heart happy. And this is why we need to remember to treat each other sweetly as a first step in problem solving. I know it doesn't always work, but it's almost always worth a try.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Time to Bake Again

I stopped baking when we moved to Portland. I hated my kitchen, and super hated the oven - to the extent that we brought in a toaster oven to do any bits oven-heating we needed. Our new kitchen in Seaside is small, but so much better in layout and function. Yesterday, to celebrate Valentine's Day, with good food for my sweetheart, Rick, I ended my baking hiatus.

First I made pumpkin biscuits, using my own recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits. I added a little extra sugar and some pumpkin pie spice, so they'd be sort of a muffin-scone-biscuit, worthy of a holiday breakfast. The last time I made these was in Taos, at 7,000 ft elevation, but they came out perfectly here at sea level too.

I think it's easiest to roughly double the original recipe, using a whole can (15 ounce-ish) of either pumpkin or sweet potato. I used whole wheat flour, coconut oil instead of olive oil for the sweeter version, and a half cup of organic coconut sugar instead of increasing the maple syrup. These were so good, I'll make them for company, once we have our guest house ready!

Later on, I decided we needed a chocolate cake too. No wonder I'm a little fluffy around the edges these days...

My daughter's mother-in-law, Carol Buchan, is writing a cookbook designed for small kitchens, specifically boats, but also RVs, and little home kitchens like mine. It's not a vegan book, but some of the recipes just happen to be vegan, or easily adapted. I love what she's doing! Her website, Northwest Cooking Afloat, is a great preview to the book. Most especially, check out the recipe for Chocolate Mocha Cake, which I made last night. It's sooooooo easy,  and crazy delicious.

This cake recipe just happens to be vegan, and the frosting can easily make the leap by subbing Earth Balance stick "butter" for the regular butter. Piece-o-cake. I used whole wheat flour for this one too, and the cake was dense and moist and perfect. I decided to make a raspberry sauce instead of the frosting. It was wonderful! And the leftover cake, warmed up just a little bit, was great this morning with coffee. The recipe makes a big 9 x 13 cake, so either make a half recipe, or do like I did - freeze half of the baked cake in two-person servings for other days.

I always love cake, but I don't always feel like baking. This was so simple though, we'll enjoy it whenever we need a cake fix, and like the biscuits, this is something I'll love making for our guests at the beach!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Checking Out Some Free Photo Apps

Getting all caught up on my current inventory, the rest of my finished rocks are on the website today.
I'm trying out some new things with photographing and editing with different apps. I'm pretty pleased with how simply I can pull together a mini portfolio for each rock, showing them off from all angles.

I use my iPhone 6 as my only camera, and adjust color and cropping right on the phone. Then I use two apps, Layout and Font Candy (both free) to combine multiple pictures into one photo, and then to add text. It takes less than a minute for each step.

Next I text the finished collage to myself, and open it in Messages on my MacBook, where I drag it to the desktop so I can easily drop it into place on my website, Facebook, Tumblr, and anywhere else I might want to share a photo.

It doesn't get any easier, cheaper, or low-tech than this.

I'll share more rocks as I make them. I can't seem to stop, and why would I want to?
These are making me very happy.

Have a great weekend!
xo Kim

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Beach Rocks Save the (Rainy) Day

When it's raining sideways and I can't walk on the beach, I go to the growing rock pile by my front door and bring in a few favorites to dress up.

More and more of them are finding their way to my website, and they'd love for you to adopt them.

They make great gifts, and can be useful or purely decorative, depending on how you feel about such things.

I like to set up little groupings here and there in my house, while I wait to send them off to their new homes.

What will you do with yours?