Showing posts from 2017

my big reader's rap

The Oregon Coast is chilly in winter (and much of the rest of the year), and I wanted to knit something I could snuggle up in rather than turning the heat up, up, up. A wrap seemed good. And I wanted pockets too, because they're useful, and because women have historically been deprived of pockets. True story. Look it up.

Most of the time I knit really simple things that can be made without continually reading a pattern. If I could read and knit, I'd read a book, not a pattern. So much more interesting, right? So far, I haven't figured out how to do that, except to listen to audio books, which are not the same kind of fun as hearing my own little voices in my head, you know? When I have to choose, read or knit, knitting usually wins.

So wandering around Google Images, Pinterest, and Ravelry for something like a "shawl with pockets," I came across a lot of patterns for Reader's Wraps. This was a great idea I'd never heard of. All I wanted were dimensions fo…

when an idea fails

I have an image of my new self, my beach self, my (way) post-beads self and post vegan cheerleader self (although I'm still vegan). This best-old-lady-I-can-morph-into self, includes designing things with sticks and string (knitting and crochet), and sharing patterns with the world. In this image, I never make a mess of anything, and all my ideas translate beautifully into soft and splendid items to decorate ourselves and our homes. In this image... I am someone completely other than my real self, who has at least as many failures as successes, and little idea of how to write a kitting pattern.

Truth is, I actually do make a lot of very fine things, between the failures. Friends walk into my living room and look around saying, You made that? And that? And that??? Yes, yes, yes I did. And it's all cool and wonderful. That's how it made the cut to live in my home with me. I look at the knitted lampshade in the corner, the lace encased glass fishing floats, the crystal trimme…

there's finally time for knitting

I'm back. After almost a year filled with painting, construction, decorating, starting our Airbnb business, guests and beach walks, and getting to know our new home town, winter is sneaking in the back door, making me wonder how in the world I'm going to survive our second soggy winter without the distraction of a house to remodel. I love it here, but winter anywhere always scares me a little bit.

I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to pressure myself into teaching some cooking classes. I think I should, but I don't really want to. I think people would like it, but I don't think I would. I have all this training, all this experience, all this love for my plant-based life, but for some reason, I just don't want to put it out there.

What I want to do is knit (or crochet or just generally play with sticks and string). It's time I started listening to those Wants, those desires, that come from deep inside, rather than the Shoulds that come from some dumb sense of…

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…


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…

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 …

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 …

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?

A House is Like a Bead

You remember when I made beads, don't you? It's probably how you first got to know me. (If not, have a look at my Beadist page.) My beads were made in layers, lots of layers, sometimes thirty or more. There were steps that needed to be followed, but most of what happened in any given bead was organic and something of a surprise to me. Each new layer became obvious as I completed the one before it, until finally, I would know it was finished.

I've noticed that making a house into Home is much the same as making a bead. It's done in layers too. We came in and cleaned, even though it was already clean. We cleared old energies with essential oils and words of gratitude. (Intention is everything, and I hate the smell of burning sage.) We painted for days, until our muscles hurt, and I vowed never to paint another wall again. I'm sure I was wrong about that. We still have the other half of our house to work on, once the renters move out. (Soon please.)

We brought in furn…

It Really Is The Ocean

This little cove, at the south end of town, is a five minute walk from our house. It boasts some pretty great surfing waves, and almost every day we'll see anywhere from a handful to dozens of black silhouettes bobbing in the wild water. The stormy weather seems to keep them away, but otherwise, I'm told that the best surfing is in the winter. I'm happy watching from the beach.

For years in Seattle, and then again in Portland, we were surrounded by freeways, and the noise that comes with them. When that sound was at a distance, I was able to pretend I was really hearing the ocean. The other night we realized we actually can hear the waves from our back bedroom at night, when our already quiet neighborhood goes to sleep. Now I find that I'm having to convince myself that what I'm hearing is really the ocean, and not the freeway...

I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Seven Rules For Happy Moving

Picking up where we left off...

Just as we allowed ourselves to relax and enjoy a day off before the big move, the moving company called to see if they could load the truck on Saturday instead of Sunday. So... the Friday we'd planned (I'm beginning to just crack up every time I hear that word) to go out and enjoy our favorite Portland places one more time was jolted into high speed last minute moving prep. Fine! OK! We can play in Portland some other time!

This brings me to Rule Number 1 for Happy Moving - Make a Plan, and Plan to Change It
This rule pretty much applies to everything in life. Nothing is ever going to go the way you expect it to. If you don't want to be crazy cranky as you intentionally tear apart your home and your current world, just try to be a little bit flexible. There's really no other choice anyway. Set things up the way you'd like them to go, and then take your hands off the wheel. You are not in control. Never will be.
Moving is hard work, …

Dancing With the Universe

We thought we had it all planned out. The move, with all the painting, the packing, the truck, the phone calls, the changes of addresses and utilities... 
Aren't we adorable, making all these plans? We know very well by now that making a plan is like dancing with the Universe and pretending it's our turn to lead.

We worked it all out. We wrote it on our calendar - in ink - yeah, smart. Scribble, scribble, pencil next. Erase, erase. Step back and see what one thing we can do next, while we wait to see how the rest of it lines up. We drove over to our house - our new home - and spent four days painting walls that we thought would take one or two days. A tiny little space. Two rooms. We didn't even paint the bathroom, and we still have all the kitchen cabinets to do. but we painted the heck out of that place, and it looks just grand. Best of all, it looks and feels more like ours. Sad old paint is now replaced with a fresh, lovely finish. I even painted the insides of the clo…

My Little Closet

It's perfect that we're moving at the beginning of a new year, when we'd normally be considering a fresh round of sorting and clearing. We've been doing this downsizing thing for years, since 2008, when we went to Ethiopia (and came back different). And you know, we're getting pretty good at it.

I can't imagine ever upsizing again. Even though we're buying a house, the total square footage is only about 1,100, and it's divided into two units. So we'll actually be living in about the same amount of space we have now, in our studio apartment, in Portland. I find this quite amusing. Half a house for us, and half for our family and friends and Airbnb guests.

The closet Rick and I have been sharing is small. Too small for one regular person's wardrobe, but we've made it work. Sort of. OK - I've been grumbling about wanting more space lately. But after watching Minimalism (highly recommended by me) on Netflix, I was inspired to give my half of…

We're Moving to the Beach

When we moved from Taos to Portland, the intention was to "date" our new city for a year, and see if it was a good match. A year turned into two, and because we still needed to be in easy reach of family in both Seattle and California, we renewed the lease on our studio apartment for a third year last spring.

After about the first year though, we could tell that we didn't want to marry Portland. Lovely as she is, we began to grow weary of the pace and chaos of city living. We started driving to the coast as often as we could. Every time we were there, we'd ask ourselves, Why don't we live here??? The answer was always the same. The beach is too far from the airport, which I needed for my frequent trips to visit my dad, and it's too expensive to live there.

We sort of believed our story, and we'd go back to Portland with sandy feet, a bag of beach rocks to crochet, and a longing in our hearts. A few months ago, I stuck a map of the Oregon coast on our bath…