Pacific North West Festivities

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We decided at the last minute to apply for a house sit up in Washington State for the holidays – we submitted as a family and the owner of the house was happy for us to come up to the island and look after her 3 cats for 10 days. We had no idea where this island was and the logistics have been a bit tricky as we had to meet up on Saturday for a tour of the house and how to care for the cats. Everything happened so quickly and we managed to book our flights in time and book an Air BnB in Seattle for the night before to catch up with our friends for dinner. As we travelled to Whidbey Island at the northern boundary of Puget Sound on Saturday morning we saw some snow and as we travelled further north there was more snow and we drove onto the ferry and landed on the island to being snowed on! What an experience driving in snow in a small little hire car, thank goodness we made it to the house and were warm and toasty to watch the end of the snowfall from safely inside our house sit.

Last Tuesday was the final workshop at the library for the Sew Sew with FabMo and we made Christmas decorations with felt and FabMo fabric. It is a fun little hand sewing project with various levels of skills in sewing which I always love. We had beginners who made tried sewing for the first time to a European contingent who were very skilled with a needle and made their own creatures including a hedgehog. I highly recommend coming to check this out if you would like to make your own decorations for friends or family and want to start sewing with a small project.

Wednesday I had a lunch date with a friend of mine who has just started a job at Stanford. I promised we would get together for some art lunch dates while she is working there so it was the perfect time to head on down to see the Nick Cave sound suit exhibit. We had been to the De Young and that is where I saw my first Nick Cave sound suit and I had to ask my friend this isn’t Nick Cave from the Bad Seeds fame. Lucky she knew and put me in the right direction, since then I have been researching these wonderful sound suits and the choreography with the suits and I really love them and the stories behind each suit. I am totally drawn to them as they are so textile focused and that is my love.

What I really enjoyed is the detail of each suit – as you can see in these pics there are lots and lots of buttons sewn onto the fabric as are pieces of knitted fabric pieces with a little-stuffed toy in between. The brushed wire is amazing in real life.

As a family activity, this is wonderful with a felt wall so you can decorate the sound suits as well as a caravan out the front of the gallery to design your own sound suit – the interactivity for the kids would make it a great winter activity for the school holidays.

If you have already had lunch a wander down to the Arizona Cactus garden is a fun thing to do with an amazing collection of cactus and succulents. I just love succulents so I was in plant heaven checking this out – the light was overcast and perfect for photographs as there were no shadows. The parking is $1.25 for 30 minutes so I would recommend a couple of hours max and then finding somewhere to eat close by or even head on back home if you are a local.

While I was near the cactus garden there is a mausoleum for the Stanford family and right next to them a sculpture of the family with these icons beneath them on how they envisaged the university for their son who passed away at 15 years old from typhoid. The Stanford family then wanted to educate all the children of California, they had some grand plans for the time and their sense of education was pioneering. I really liked seeing crafts, science and art as part of their vision.

On Friday and we made our way to the airport to fly to Seattle – we stayed the night in an Air BnB and visited our friends who live close by for dinner. We had a tasty dinner of Thai food and we walked from their house to the downtown for ice cream?!? Yes, ice cream in winter – there are 3 ice cream shops within a block of our friend’s house. We went to this place called the Nutty Squirrel and I enjoyed an amazing combination of Olive oil and Clementine on a cold winters night. After ice cream we went to our friend’s neighbours house for a nice glass of red wine – I am loving the Pacific North West.

 

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Finding the coffee shop in the snow
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Finally found a latte to keep us warm
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Getting snowed on and eating snow flakes
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Beautiful blown glass baubles from the studio in Langley

 

Saturday we made our way up to the island with no idea that we were going to be travelling in the snow. As we headed up north on the I-5 the snow was coming down and by the time we made it to the ferry, there was a blanket of snow on the ground. We drove onto the ferry and sat in the car for the 30-minute ride and off we went on the island to find a coffee shop to enjoy a snack before we drove up to the house. The Useless Bay Coffee Shop in Langley was recommended to us and it was a real local hangout with excellent service and food. After our snack we made it out to the snowfall and had to drive a hire car in the snow – what a scary experience. The drive to the house had a few hills and with the power of the universe, we made it to the house with no chains on the tyres and the car riding a rollercoaster ride on the snow.

With a sigh or relief, we found the house with the driveway covered in snow – I had to quickly text the owner to let us know which garage to enter in as it would be so hard to move the car out in the snow. We had only met via email so to meet each other in person finally was so good. We toured the house and checked out where the kitties hide and here we are, enjoying a quiet, relaxing break away from everything.

There are 3 kitties to look after at this house with an older cat called Spike living in the house and he really loves brushing. He is used to us now and loves to get brushes whenever he comes out from his resting spot. The other two kitties live in a barn as professional rat catchers. They have their own little room with a heater and lots of cat toys and even a chair to hang out with them for pats. They are Artemis and Apollo and enjoy our visits to give them some snacks in their cat hangout room.

Today in 5-degree celsius weather I took a wander through the orchard to see if I could find any apples on the trees, there was just one with other little ones who are just hanging on. The owner of the house gave us some cider from these orchards and we had some mulling spices to make a delicious mulled cider and so our festive season began.

 

A piece a week – A little Amigurimi friend for my little buddy and a very busy week!

This week was a busy one indeed with a lot of dramas back home in Australia and living the day to day of live here! So I have become extra crafty and channeling my worries into challenging crafting projects. This little Panda is for a friend’s birthday. The whole panda is made up of little bits and pieces of crochet and then sewn to life. The process is excellent and I am very happy to have finished him and he is ready to be given to his new owner. 
A Koanda Bear for my little friend – A Koala cross between a Panda

The weekend went by in a flash as I was volunteering at FabMo on Saturday morning (after a nice sleep in I must add). I volunteer as a greeter and it is always a good time to see what people find and talk about what people make with their finds. I found this fantastic stretch fabric from a screen printer that I am going to reverse applique and make a skirt – the inspiration is from the Alabama Stitch book. The hand stitching in the pieces throughout this book is just incredible and has been something I have been wanting to try since a friend introduced the book to me years ago!
Saturday afternoon the SF Etsy South Bay team had a Meet-up at Empire Vintage Clothing in Downtown Mountain View. The owner Tiffany has this amazing pop up space for hire that indie makers need to take advantage of! Tiffany introduced herself to us with a presentation on sales and marketing, which was super helpful for all of us – especially those of us who do shows! How to lure a customer, “it’s just like fishing,” she says. We had a really great turnout and people wandering by were checking it out wondering what’s going on there? This space has so much potential and makers with a decent size inventory can come in and take advantage of this super central space with lots of walk by traffic. 
Outside the pop up space and Empire Vintage, Mountain View

The makers who came by to Empire – inspired for a pop up opportunity

Saturday evening my son had a retro games night as a silent auction prize and here is Frogger in all it’s glory played on the Atari 2600. I have one of these machines back home in Australia and used to play it all the time when I was his age 😉 I have to reveal to him that it is OK to spend hours in front of computer games!!

Later on I had a cheap wine tasting evening with some ladies from school till the wee hours at night. Most of the wine I tried I threw back as it was full of sulfites and quite awful. Being from Australia I do like a good wine and next time I think the plan will be to take our favorite wine under $20 and enjoy drinking! By this I mean I can buy a great Australian Shiraz here for less than $10 – sometimes BevMo have it on sale and that is when I buy the lot. There are some excellent imports of wine here from Barossa and McLaren Vale, South Australia that are under $20 and are generally guaranteed to be a good drop. Though with summer coming up it is time to fill my dungeon with my favorite Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand!

Frogger and the Atari 2600

Sunday it was time to chill out for the morning and do some yoga and come back and catch up on a few chores like potting some succulents in the pots I have made fresh from the kiln. This velvety succulent is called the chocolate soldier – it reminded me of chocolate and feels lovely so it now lives in this crochet textured square planter that I made.

Deeper green and chocolate leaves on top of the white glazed planter

And to wrap up the weekend Missy had high tea with her Kindergarten teachers as another Auction prize. There were scones, jam and cream and cucumber sandwiches paired with Cherry/Berry Tea. The teachers read some stories about New Zealand (Missy’s teacher is from there) and chatted while dropping sugar cubes into their tea! So fun, thank you Ms Terri and Ms Bonnie for your time with the kiddos!!

Ready for tea lovelies?

A piece a week – a Dress for the Show, My Collection of Pieces and a Ceramic Birdbath

I cannot believe that the time has come for the show and it is this weekend! I wanted to whip up a tunic for the show and I have used a pattern that I made a favorite summer dress thought this time I added sleeves. The silhouette pattern is from FabMo fabric and the black and gold fabric throughout was a fabric in my stash. I love the way it turned out and it may be a bit short so I think it will be a tunic with some skinny jeans. 
Fabric that inspired the tunic
Back of the dress with brown and white
Here is my collection for the show this year in video…
To other forms of creation that I am exploring this year – ceramics. I made this little bird bath for a garden decoration – I hope they like it!
Sitting in the succulent garden

A piece a Week – In Production Mode and getting totes done!

This week the kids had a half day afternoon camp so we had the morning to hang out together and have some fun. As it turned out I volunteered to water the school garden for this week with my helpers – the kiddos! The school garden is in full summer bloom at the moment and is looking really wonderful with lots of pumpkins growing big and round with splashes of sunflowers up high towards the sky.

A beautiful ombre shaded flower

Find the caterpillar in the sunflower!

One of the many pumpkins in our school garden

We ended up running into some friends from our school at the afternoon summer camp so we had a pizza night together where the kids could make their own pizza at Pizza My Heart. Every Tuesday night the kids have a few toppings to choose from that are bought to their table with a rolled out pizza dough and the kids have the joy of making their own pizza complete their own little flag for when they bake it.

Mr Ash with his tasty Canadian Ham and Pineapple pizza

A rainbow of Lego made by Ash’s Play Well Lego Camp teacher

Mid week was our 8th wedding anniversary and the material for the celebration is pottery so I made this succulent planter in my ceramics class as our gift. I had so much fun making this pot and I had some inspiration from a class mate who makes a lot of garden decor with tonnes of textures. My teacher helped me with the glaze and rubbing back the colours to sink into the texture and I just love how it turned out. We all went out for meal to a local fancy Mexican joint downtown and had some drinks to celebrate later in the evening!

Jalapeno and Guava Margarita

Our new succulent pot made in my ceramics class

These are the totes I have been working on and managed to complete over the week in production and my new patchwork tote bag that I am now road testing. FabMo had another wonderful stock reduction sale this week and they were selling fabric bags for $2 (fabric perfect for lining) now I have a fair amount of fabric to build up a decent inventory for the show in October. I scored a unfinished patchwork quilt for $10 so that will be made into totes for the show – they will certainly be one of a kind and limited edition!

FabMo fabric and a feather turned arrow

Close up of the arrow

A blue version with the arrow

My new patchwork tote ready for road testing

All my goodies inside with pockets for organization
Stitching detail from the patchwork quilt
And to end the week we had a BBQ appreciation for the FabMo volunteers at a local park and I made a fig and strawberry tart with a rosemary cornmeal crust from epicurious. And friends of ours we only met last year who moved here from Portland are moving to Taiwan so they had a pool party farewell late Sunday afternoon – so relaxing to spend it in the pool and hot tub after such a busy week.
Fig and strawberry tart glazed with honey

Find the neon cupcake against Missys swimmers 😀