Sunday, June 22, 2014

Palm Tree Apron

I finally managed to get my hands on this vintage apron pattern from 1949.
I like to purchase originals, versus reproductions, so it's usually a waiting game on eBay or etsy, but eventually I always find what I'm looking for.

I can see this embroidery on the hem of a dress, or in quilt squares.
So pretty!

(please don't ask me for copies of my patterns. I get bombarded with requests, and it's overwhelming. It's almost impossible to scan pattern pieces, and there are copyrights on most patterns too. Sorry.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Art in Embroidery

I found this embroidery-on-linen piece on eBay several years ago, but it has just been sitting in storage.
I'd like to possibly have it cleaned, then mounted under glass.
It was listed as a "geometric tapestry", and the seller thought it might be Peruvian.
I just fell in love with it (it's the most money I've ever spent on an eBay auction, around $133).
The size is roughly 29" by 31".

There's one repair on it
The underside of the same repair

There is also an area that looks like it's not tacked down or is about to fray, and the border is missing on part of the piece.

I don't know what the symbolism of the shapes mean, but I'd like to find out.
I'm also curious about the age of this piece.

Does anyone know if textiles like this should be cleaned or left as is?
How does one find someone who can mount this safely, without damaging the piece?
I consider this a work of art, and I'd like to display it and care for it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Magical Wool Quilt

I just spent one week in Indiana.
I went for the National Road Yard Sale.

Well, and to visit my friend Michelle.  But that's another blog post.

Right now I just wanted to show my favorite purchase of the visit (actually found at a thrift store, though I found lots of fun stuff at the yard sale too).

This is a patchwork quilt of wool squares, held together with a crochet stitch.
It's signed and dated 1981.
I love it.

It makes me somewhat sick to my stomach that someone just got rid of this handmade quilt with absolutely no flaws.
No holes, no stains, no snags.
And I bought it for five measly dollars.
Think of all that work, unappreciated. Sigh....
But I'll certainly treasure it, so welcome home magical quilt. Welcome home.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Repurposed Silver Tray

I discovered this amazing store in Carlsbad (north county coastal area of San Diego) that is everything I could ever imagine selling if I had my own store.
It's called The Wish List (yes, even the name is perfect).

There is retro stuff, handmade stuff like collaged gift tags and these amazing paper roses (that make a perfect gift) made from sheets of music.
And (my favorite) repurposed stuff.
It was here that I saw my first item painted with chalkboard paint--old silver trays made into quotation boards as a cool decorative element.
These trays are beautiful, but no one really uses them for tea service anymore, especially if there's surface wear.
So what a great way to give an object new life.

I decided to make one.
My first attempt was a learning experience.
I managed to find a large and heavy tray at a thrift store.
I found the paint at Michael's.

I discovered (the hard way) that it's best to paint several thin coats with a foam brush.
So since my first attempt was a bust, I set out to find another heavy silver tray.
Note I also discovered a foam sanding pad might rescue my first gloppy attempts.

I found another tray at a thrift store (why is it so hard to find something when you're actually looking for it?!).
This one was nice and heavy; a Rogers brand.
I polished the silver plate,then decided to use black chalkboard paint.
Because there was discoloration up into the border, I had to paint all the way up to the decorative edge.

Thin coats repeated, dried. Repeated until there was a good coverage--more difficult than I expected.
 I love how the design is still visible beneath the paint

This has now been repurposed into a menu board for my friend Jen to display at her parties.
I bought gold and silver chalk pens to go along with it.
She really liked it!
I'm looking forward to seeing it on display at this year's July 4th party.

How Jen used this at this year's party:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Delicious Ruth

Today I checked off number 23 on my ever-growing
 bucket list,
"Hear Ruth Reichl speak."

Actually, I still hope to hear her lecture one day.
Or how amazing would it be if she gave some sort of workshop?!
But today was amazing in its own right.

I went to Chino Farms and had her sign my copy of her novel, Delicious.

She got up at one point and told a story:  how back in the '70's Chino Farms was unique, and she wanted to thank them.
The farm-to-table idea was a novelty then.  The Slow Food Movement hadn't happened yet. Sustainability wasn't a buzz word.
But fresh, local, seasonal produce needed cheerleaders.
The decades of transporting unripened fruit to market left people believing fruits and vegetables were supposed to taste like cardboard.
Chino Farms helped remind people of the true bounty of the harvest, demonstrating how sun-ripened produce is bursting with juice, fragrance, flavor.

Ms. Reichl wanted to learn more about the farm and write about it, but the Chinos said, "we don't talk to the media".
Not giving up, and hoping to get in the back door, Reichl called Alice Waters, asking if she could tag along with her on a trip to get supplies for Chez Panisse.

They spent two glorious days on the farm, learning about the methods, and participating in a tasting/rating of 40 tomatoes.
On the flight back to San Francisco,  they each carried a flat of strawberries on their laps (back when you could do things like that.  I carried a box of coral on my lap after a trip to Jamaica), destined to evolve into dessert at the restaurant.
These berries weren't the tasteless monstrosities so often in stores (even at that time), but juicy and fragrant--so fragrant the entire plane was perfumed, and repeatedly, passengers started coming up begging for a taste.

I love the way Reichl describes smells and sights.
I've read all of her culinary memoirs, and especially loved Garlic and Sapphires, stories of her stint as a food critic for the Los Angeles Times, then the New York Times, before tackling the role of editor-in-chief at Gourmet Magazine.
Ah, Gourmet.
Conde Nast really screwed up when they decided to ditch Gourmet in favor of just having Bon Appetit, as if the latter were good enough to placate food fans.
Not even close.
But I digress.
I am still sad Gourmet Magazine closed along with its brilliant television series on PBS, Diary of a Foodie.
That series completely transformed how I think about food quality and source.

Today, while we waited for Reichl to sign our books, we were given fresh squeezed juice or infused water, and strawberry shortcake.

In addition to the regular farm stand, they had beautiful things for sale.
I bought rainbow eggs, a baguette, and some squash.

Everything is so perfectly beautiful.  I love the assortment of edible flowers.
Reichl described how she was in Seattle in 2009, on a book tour promoting Gourmet's cookbook, when her boss called to ask her to come back to New York.
Um, what?
She and her staff were informed the magazine was shutting its doors.
As co-workers packed up and moved on to look for other jobs, she was still under contract to finish the book tour.
It was an odd time, she said, understandably.
She came back to an empty space, broken chairs, items looted, photographs in the trash, the kitchen filled with spoiled food...and a whole lot of sadness.

She had locked the library before resuming the tour, so it was safely undisturbed.
She went inside and came across a file of letters from readers.
She said they were mostly insignificant--complaints, recipe requests, etcetera.
But in a moment of inspiration, she sat down and wrote the letters from Lulu that appear in this current novel.
The letters she wished she had found.
The letters she wished someone had written.
It was the first spark that would become Delicious.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Minecraft Cupcakes

I traditionally bake my friend Jen's kids treats for their birthdays.
This year I was way late on making Ryan cupcakes in a Minecraft theme (a popular kid's video game).
He didn't seem to mind my tardiness.
A treat is a treat on any day regardless, and it's fun to have a gesture done completely in your honor.

I was pet-sitting for the family and decided this would be a fun welcome home.
He arrived wearing a tee shirt with Minecraft characters on the front (serendipity!).

I've neither seen nor played the game, so I had to rely on Pinterest.
I found inspiration in the blog
 Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, and used rolled-out Tootsie Rolls, Hi-Chews, marshmallows, and fruit leather to decorate the frosted yellow cake with cut-out candy faces.
I used the recipe for yellow cake from my favorite cookbook, A Piece of Cake, by Susan Purdy.
Ryan said, "I like yellow cake".
I replied, "Your mom told me, that's why I made it."

I bought the square cupcake pan recommended in that blog post, and I filled it only half way up with batter to get a flat top versus the typical rounded cake.

Ryan even brought the neighbor kid over to watch my progress, each reciting, "cool...." as I piped three colors of green from the grass-making tip.
I made a buttercream but added 2 ounces of cream cheese and less sugar, because the family tends to prefer foods not overly-sweet.

 I only chose to make three of the characters (The Creeper seems to be the most popular anyway).

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2013 in review

Oh my, poor blog. 
I still enjoy blogging.  I do.
I just don't always have computer access, and it's a bit tedious to blog from my phone, especially when blogger makes me use a gmail address, and I have a different gmail address for YouTube, and a yahoo address for's a pain.

And, to be honest, I keep in touch with people more often via Facebook.
But I still do like my blogs, so I want to keep up the tradition of reminding myself of good things that happened in the last year.

What happened in 2013?
I have three older brothers, but when I was a kid, my oldest brother's friend Jerry lived with us.
So I consider Jerry my fourth brother.
He came to visit last January.  We hadn't seen him in 10 years.

I continued to be alert to photo opportunities.
I saw the Wiener Mobile up close

I stuck my toes in the water, so to speak, and I created an online profile on OkCupid, an online dating site.
Unfortunately, my experiences were crazy enough to write a magazine article about (something I may do), even though I never actually went on a date with anyone.
I deleted my account.
I did go on a date with my mechanic--the first date I had with a man other than the man I dated on and off for 12 years.
Well, we dated five years over a twelve year period.
Long story.
But that was a huge step forward for me, even though the mechanic was all wrong.

I took a 12-week course learning the book, The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.

I recovered from knee surgery.

I ordered a case of oranges from Chaffin Orchards.

I made lemon bars for the first time.
I also cooked with culinary lavender for the first time.

In March, I met a blog friend (Jen Wallin of The Felt Mouse) at Bahooka, a tiki bar that was closing.
This was the first time we met in person after communicating online for eight years.

Then we got together again  in August
for the annual Tiki Oasis.
We ate Dole Whip
We watched burlesque (turn the sound off)
Listened to poolside DJ's spinning lounge tunes, rockabilly bands at night.

She introduced me to hotel "room crawls"
(sadly I can't find the pic of the crowded hotel corridors).
It's like a frat party for people over 30.
It was amazing.

I took a class at Gledhill's vintage furniture to learn how to refinish pieces.
Then I took another.
And another.
It all started when I bought a mid-century sewing cabinet.
I love furniture! I love mid-century and beach chic.
Tommy Bahama meets the 60's.
I'm thinking perhaps I might incorporate this interest into a future business.

I did FINALLY get my logo finished.

Initially, when I graduated from nutrition school in 2012, I was going to go into health coaching, and the logo said
Wishing Wellness.
But I'm not a salesperson, and I didn't want to go out and try to find clients, so I just gave up on that idea and decided I could more easily see myself selling vintage collectibles, repurposed furniture, and giving art classes.
So I renamed the business Retro Siren.
After much thought and multiple tries of names that were already taken.

In April I went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market for the first time.
I went on a bus trip with a local college.
It wasn't as awesome as I had hoped.

I took "selfies"

I discovered The Wish List, in Carlsbad

 I saw yarn bombs in South Park

I discovered Craigslist freebies, and got a bunch of cool stuff to improve my mom's house, including a pair of vintage front doors with a cool brass peep-hole

In June I went to Melrose Trading Post (another flea market) and bought a large midcentury oil painting of seagulls.

That same weekend, I went to the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles (an outdoor amphitheatre) and saw Ben Folds
and my favorite band, Barenaked Ladies.

It was an epic night under a "super" moon and warm temps.  Perfect.
My friend Mark and I drank yummy margaritas.

I stopped in Huntington Beach on the drive home, and had a Mai Tai at Don the Beachcomber.
First time ever to go to a bar by myself.

In July, I took a staycation at a lovely home where I was dog-sitting.

I bought my first tiki mug, commemorating a party at "Tiki Hell" at Tiki Oasis (a room party that was so much fun).

Then my second mug, from Ballast Point, a San Diego brewery.

In September, I made sunflower cupcakes for a ten-year-old girl's birthday.
She talked about them for a week.

I visited the Mission San Luis Rey, in Oceanside, and (pretty sure I was inspired by Andrea, but I can't find her images) took photos in the cemetery

I dyed my hair ombre.
Then toned it down to a dark red
Then back to strawberry (I identify myself as a redhead, not a blond).
Then I got bangs.

I went on a "yarn crawl".
I visited eight yarn shops, one mobile truck, and two alpaca farms.

I want to get back into knitting.
I bought some alpaca socks for Christmas gifts (one pair for myself).

At Thanksgiving, I met another blog friend, Laura of RickRackRuby, and her daughter Kaitlin, for our traditional movie and photobooth pic.

I continued my tradition of taking pics of my friend Jen's kids in some memorable way.
It started with cookie mustaches, to wax lips, to gopher teeth.
This past Christmas it was dog and cat noses.
 How cute are they?!

The point here is to learn to remind ourselves of new things we tried, our adventures, people we met, places we visited...our accomplishments versus our short comings.
Here's hoping yours and my 2014 will have many memorable moments.