Saturday, June 13, 2009

Calm before the storm

What have I been up to the last 4 months? Well, I can't decide if it sounds like a little or a lot (although I am definitely in shock that 2009 is almost half over...I think I need to spend more time in waiting rooms so that time doesn't move so quickly), but here's what I've been up to...

...traveling, including to Hawaii (Feb/Mar) to visit my sis and enjoy a week of couple time (thanks, grandparents!),

to Oregon (Mar/Apr) to visit my family,
to California (Apr/May) for work and to give a seminar...

...sewing sewing sewing - lots of Picnic Pouches (reusable snack/lunch bags), PUAG blankets/play mats, and custom lunch bags, among other things...May was the busiest month yet for Cascade Lemonade...

...and writing writing writing - parts of 3 manuscripts/thesis chapters, innumerable grant applications, etc.

Calm? Well, I guess it's all relative, but I definitely feel the anticipation and anxiety of the upcoming summer field season. Wednesday, we leave MA for 2.5 months (11 weeks, to be exact) in CA, where I will be coordinating a summer research program for 10 undergraduates, advising 2 graduate and 1 undergraduate research projects, and finishing up my own Ph.D. addition to trying to be a halfway decent parent and spouse and daughter, etc. It's sounding like kind of a tall order right now, especially with the packing only barely started, so I'm glad I've been able to relax a bit over the last month - save up my energy. I've had some time for frivolous fun like making collages...

reading (finally finished 'Dune' and just started 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy')...

and taking a short family vacation to Cape Cod.

Now, it's just a matter of crossing the last 'to do's' off my list and getting to the airport and onto the jet headed west...!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy New Year (reprise, in February)

Yes, it's February, and I am just now getting around to checking in with last year's resolutions and putting this year's down in blogdom...but first, here's a wish list I put together with my fave items for spring...

I am obsessed with tights and big earrings...and so far, I have held myself back from purchasing any of either! Several of these items are on Etsy; see my favorites for sellers.

Now, onto...

2008 New Year’s Resolutions (in black = done, red = not done)

1. sleep 7 hrs/night - check (usually)

2. improve my posture
3. do a pull up
4. read a paper a day - i'm going with 'check' here, even though my list only contains ~75, I reviewed hundreds of papers for a review I'm writing
5. submit 2 papers - check (as long as you count co-authored)
6. analyze and review all existing thesis data

7. give a guest class lecture - check (and I only did this because it was a resolution!)
8. take Caden backpacking - nope, despite our best intentions! we had to cancel plans for illness...and ended up just car camping this year
9. go camping in the northeast - check (2 nights at Rangeley Lake in Maine)
10. update Caden’s baby book - some, but still lots more to do!!
11. make a pdf pattern for my lunch bags - check (and I've sold about 100 copies now!)

12. make a play mat - not done yet
13. make Caden’s Christmas stocking
14. make improvements on the house - check (new roof, baby!)
15. call someone once a week - check, weighted by several calls/week since Nov, when my dad broke his leg

2009 New Year's Resolutions

(I've decided 15 resolutions is excessive and am narrowing it down to 10 this year...)

1. Make Caden's Xmas stocking
2. Submit 3 (first-author) papers
3. Do a pull-up
4. Write a short story
5. Pay off VISA's
6. Build up savings for a 'rainy day'
7. Shift sleep schedule from 1-8 am to 12-7 am
8. Improve my posture
9. Go camping at least 3 times
10. 'Use what I have' for all Cascade Lemonade crafting (thrift and vintage purchases ok)

Anyone have resolutions they'd like to put down in writing in the comments? I'll check back with you next year and make sure you're accountable! ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The first part of December was a blur. We returned from the West Coast on December 1st, and I immediately jumped into prepping for the Salem High School Holiday Fair - on Dec. 12 - that benefits the school's music and drama programs. Although turn-out was only so-so, I had a lot of fun, chatting with my booth neighbors, listening to the music groups perform, and having a couple friends drop by.

The weekend before Christmas, we got about 16 inches of snow in 2 days - perfect for cozying up inside and crafting in the sun room, with a nice view of the winter wonderland. Here, I'm working on a monogrammed pillowcase for Caden's friend, Mabel, who invited him to her princess birthday party (and the party did go on, despite the weather!).

The second half of December was, for once, extremely slow-paced and relaxing. Even though I almost dreaded Christmas without family, I ended up realizing why some people purposely stay home at Christmas and why my mom always said she loved the days right after Christmas (I never understood that as a kid!). We spent our week's vacation (Caden had a week off of daycare, so we mostly both stayed home) doing 1 work task (making a poster for a meeting, reviewing a manuscript, etc.) and 1 home task (cleaning, organizing, filing, etc.) and working out at the YMCA every day. We spent the rest of the time doing whatever the heck we wanted: watching movies, playing games (a friend loaned us Blokus, which we played almost daily for a week), sewing, reading, etc. It was great, and it took about the whole week for us to finally feel relaxed!
Here's a shot of the most beautifully wrapped Christmas present, from my college friend, Martha. The wrapping cloth doubles as a table linen and is reversible for use in multiple seasons. She even safety-pinned on a little linen gift tag! Inside was a pattern and (robot) fabric to make Caden a little apron for helping out in the kitchen. A fun project for the New Year!

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

November Catch-up

November was a whirlwind - 2 countries & 4 states in 4 weeks. We spent about 3 weeks on the West Coast, starting with a work meeting in Vancouver, B.C. (Caden's first time in Canada). This was the view from our hotel room - we could also see the water - and it was such a trip, especially on weekday evenings when you could look across into people's offices. Talk about a fishbowl - it made me feel like I'd entered a sci-fi movie!

The month ending with a work trip to California and (supposedly) the last of ~20 years of our traditional Thanksgiving in a lodge at a Methodist summer camp on the Oregon Coast.

Caden and I stayed out west for the ~10 days between our scheduled activities to save ourselves 1 cross-country trek and enjoyed spending time in the town I grew up in - Corvallis, Oregon. My sewing projects were fairly limited, but I did finish up Tanja's quilt (see previous post) and make a custom applique onesie for my cousin (who was thinking his boss might like something more than the 'baby carrots' and 'baby back ribs' he gave him at the baby shower!). I also found a few cross-stitch patterns that have got me planning Caden's Christmas stocking, which is likely to not get made until next year (since we're at Xmas - 12 days right now). And I finished a draft of a manuscript/second thesis chapter, which is exciting!

I couldn't help thinking about another 'future project' when I saw this beautiful view

out of this window...

Yes, one of the best views in the house is in our tiny 1/2-bath off of the kitchen. Someday, we hope to (hire someone to) renovate the kitchen and add a breakfast nook. Aah, dreaming!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

October catch-up

I'm playing catch up in all aspects of life right now - sewing projects, work, home. I haven't even unpacked my bag from our month on the west coast yet, and we've been back over a week! Here's a start at catching up with reporting on my projects!

In October, for the first time, I made Caden's costume completely from scratch (since I couldn't find an all-white 2T footsie!). He was Max from Where the Wild Things Are. Here he is at his school Halloween party, carrying a pasta server as his mischief-making tool...

Project #2 was a baby quilt for my friends Tanja and Dan. They live in Burkina Faso, Africa, hence the safari animal theme. I was really happy with the pattern and how adjacent blocks made kite-like blocks on the bias. With the exception of the yellow fabric, I had most of the materials on hand.

Tanja came back to the states to have her baby, so I got to see her and give her the quilt in person. Little Leah was born the day after Thanksgiving. Here's a darling picture Tans just sent of her on the quilt. It's so gratifying to see something you've made keep a baby cozy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Early fall and Indian summer

After the Melrose Fair last month, I've been gradually posting my huge inventory in the shop and taking a little break from hardcore crafting (although I can't stop cold turkey; I have a constant 'to do' list of custom requests and holiday gifts!). The month has still flown by, though. We were gone 2 of the weeks (1 week in California and last week in Maine). Both trips were work-related but lots of fun - especially last week in Maine. Now I know why people say 'Aaah, Maine!' The Maine coast was gorgeous, and we had a good mix of blissfully sunny and rainy/windy/cozy-up-inside days. One of the best parts was that the 3 of us were together for a week straight - Matt was teaching in a field course, I brought my computer work on the road, and we still had plenty of time for sight-seeing. It reminded me of how much time we spend, normally, commuting between home/work/childcare and keeping up the house. Oh ya, and cooking; the teaching assistants for the field course prepared the meals. It made coming home seem not so relaxing, but at least we got home on a Friday with a whole weekend ahead of us!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our fall activities...

Apple picking at Russell Orchards. So far, we have some applesauce and apple pie filling made and frozen, plus five 1/2 pint jars of peach chutney that I canned the night before we left for Maine (at midnight!).

Our first New England clam bake! Lobstah, corn, potatoes, clams, and hot dogs. Caden was in seventh heaven, and I was amazed at how the boy who is skeptical of zucchini and potatoes dug right into the clams and lobster! I wish I had a picture of him chasing the girls with one of the cooked lobsters!

Our first night in Maine at Pemaquid Point lighthouse.

West Quoddy Head lighthouse, near where we stayed at West Quoddy Station. Just a gorgeous location! See what I mean about blissful weather? I wonder if this will be the last time this year that we sit outside without shivering?

Pitcher plant in bog (aka muskeg - my Alaskan husband felt quite at home!) at Quoddy Head - so neat!

The one day I don't have any pictures of was last Sunday. We had an 'Indian Summer' day here on the North Shore - sunny and warm. We spent the whole day outside, picnicking on the deck, reading, playing, and working in the garden - basking like lizards in the very last patch of sun as the sun went down.

Now, it seems we're transitioning to late fall - it's currently 40oF outside/58oF inside. We're going to have to turn the heat on, again, pretty soon - it's almost stitching-under-a-wool-blanket-with-a-cuppa-tea season...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fall Festival

Last Sunday, the 14th, was my first big (read: $100 fee for half of a covered booth) festival - the Melrose (MA) Victorian Fair (last winter, I did two very small holiday craft fairs). I sewed like mad in the weeks leading up to it and, still, Matt and I were awake until 2:30 am the night before, packaging and packing. We awoke to a drizzly morning, and only missed 2 (unsigned) turns en route to the fair. Set-up was pretty crazy as we had to adjust to avoid drips from the continuing rain. Fortunately, there was a bank awning directly behind the booth, so Caden set up a play space there and was wonderfully behaved all day, even without a nap. I shared the booth with Arian (we did one of the holiday fairs together last year), and it was great to have someone to chat with and get second opinions on displays, etc. It was also fun to catch up with Johanna, from Kaya's Kloset, who encouraged me to do the fair in the first place!

The rain stopped soon after the fair started, the fair was well-attended overall, and I had some fabulous customers and positive feedback on my things. The best-selling items were, #1: Pick-Up-and-Go Blankets, and #2: Teensy Cases. In the end, I only sold about 10% of the inventory I'd made (I was aiming for 50%) but I was glad to cover my booth fee. I sensed that most people came to the fair for the promotional freebies and free entertainment - as I plan to bring Caden back to as an audience in future years! And now, if I do decide to do another holiday fair, I have my set up all figured out. I finally completed a design I've had in my head for awhile: this denim 'jeans pocket' display for my Teensy Pocket Cases. I strung it in the frame from an antique kids' chalkboard, that we mounted to the wall out of the frame.

And Matt made up this awesome display board for my iron-on letter appliques (these were also a popular seller) from scraps found in our basement!

Now I have more inventory than I ever have! So I feel prepared for the holiday season and can put my feet up (and work on some other projects) for a bit, all while slowly getting all of the items photographed and posted on Etsy.