I couldn’t resist creating a design for Spoonflower’s latest Design of the Week contest, “Bedtime”. I have a rather checkered history with sleep – I’ve watched more than my share of infomercials, long-syndicated tv shows and forgotten movies while the rest of the world is dreaming – so my motif came to me pretty quickly.
As it turns out, I was not the only designer who used sheep in my design entry, there must be a lot of insomniacs out there. Although there are several sheep designs, it’s interesting to see how different each one is and to see what other designers are doing on Spoonflower.
To vote for my design, or any others that you like, go to Spoonflower.com and find my design “Counting Sheep”.
The winner will be announced next Thursday afternoon.
I’m off to take a nap.
Neither snow nor rain nor icy slush kept my hardy mailman from delivering a much anticipated package yesterday – my seeds! During the winteriest weeks of February, I’ve been happily planning out my garden for the spring. Although I had planned to keep things simple this year and concentrate on growing tried and true vegetables and flowers, I ended up getting a little carried away picking out flower seeds.
I got most of my flower seeds from Botanical Interests and my vegetable seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds. I also splurged a little and ordered some fabulous looking dahlia bulbs from Eden Brothers. I’ve been starting my dahlias from seed, but I can only find the more gaudy, showy flowers as bulbs and with a name like “Bora Bora”, how could I resist.
All this planning for Spring and warmth and flowers had me inspired. I went back to a photo I took of my seedlings a couple of years ago that I’ve always loved and have wanted to work into a design.
This design has turned out to be one of my favorites. The touches of green and celadon hint at the promise of spring among the brown tones and blue highlights. It has a fun but sophisticated look.
The groundhog has predicted six more weeks of winter and this would be the perfect print to liven up my tired winter wardrobe. A fresh print on anything but wool would be fabulous right now.
It’s a good thing I’m training for a half-marathon (DC Half, April 27th) because I’ve just discovered no-knead bread. I know I’m a little late to the party, the New York Times published a recipe in 2006 and it seemed like every blogger/baker was making and raving about it. Because I was bread-baking shy from a disastrous experience that resulted in a very large floury hockey puck, I ignored the uproar. But recently, a friend mentioned that she had made the bread using The Baker Chick’s recipe and that it was fabulous. I guess enough time has passed from my bread debacle, that I was inspired. On Friday night, when we arrived at the cottage at 10:30, I stirred up the flour, water, salt and yeast, covered it with plastic wrap and went to bed.
About 2 hours after I woke up the next morning I had a beautiful loaf of very tasty crusty bread. Ridiculously easy. Ridiculous. I almost felt like I was cheating somehow.
It took me five, maybe ten minutes to mix the dough in the evening – you don’t even need bread flour, just plain old all-purpose. The yeast did its magic overnight, I let it sit for about a half hour in the morning, and it baked for about 45 minutes. That was it. Ridiculous.
I know the world probably doesn’t need another blog about No-Knead bread, but I promise you, nothing lightens the gloom of this February’s wintery blast like the smell of fresh baked bread.
I love tea sets.
I bought my first set in Buenos Aires. A very sweet full set that has jaunty handles in that wonderful red/orange 1930′s color. My small collection grew from there, many from the early days of Ebay – before it got crazy competitive and I still had the chance to win, and afford, an auction.
My collection mostly includes colorful teapots and sets from the 1930′s to 1950′s (the polk-dot set in the lower right corner, in the above photo, is actually a copy of a Eva Zeisel design from the Metropolitan Museum). But when I was thinking of designing a tea set textile, I wanted to have a more neutral palette. Having a weakness for stripes, I looked not at my own collection for inspiration, but at traditional blue and brown striped pots and sets.
And where would a tea set design feel most at home? On a tea towel!
One lump, or two?
Last year, as part my career transitioning, I dug up my old paintbrushes and signed up for some watercolor classes.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I hadn’t done any painting since my costume design days and I had never felt entirely comfortable with it, but the encouragement and guidance I got from from two excellent artists/teachers really helped me to embrace the medium: Amy Park who teaches a class at the 92nd Street Y and Michiyo Fukushima who taught a five day workshop at The Art Students League of New York.
One of my favorite projects was a study of garlic, seen from different angles.
My least favorite projects were landscapes.
So, I’ve mostly been working on painting still life’s or just concentrating on one detailed object. Fortunately, I have an unending collection of photos that I took of my garden for inspiration.
And fortunately, my little watercolor studies give me a convenient motif that can be used in a pattern. hmm…
Not having been very good at keeping up with my posts in the past year, I’m using the next few posts as updates on what kept me so busy during 2013 that I had no time to blog. That being said, I think you can guess what my New Year’s resolution is.
My portfolio is finished! I made my self-imposed deadline of December 1st and my portfolio for textile print design is online. It will be a continuous work in progress, but I’m feeling a little proud of myself for having accomplished as much as I did.
Yes, those are leeks on my garden print design. I know, I’m a little obsessed.
I’ve also joined the Spoonflower community, and have a set up a shop to sell some of my designs as fabric. I only have a couple of designs for sale now, but will be adding more over the next couple of months. You don’t know how to sew? No problem! You can also have my designs printed up as wallpaper or wrapping paper.
Can’t you just see the garden print design from above on your kitchen wall?
And, you’ll definitely be given the largest piece of cake if you show up your next birthday party with a gift wrapped with this:
Next week’s post: Where I rediscover watercolors and Musico the Handsome Cat returns to New York after a summer of terrorizing my parents’ three geriatric cats.
If you noticed by the dates on my posts, I’ve been a little preoccupied this summer. The long stretches between my posts are to be blamed on my concentration on my career shift. This summer I’ve been busy with work during the day, and classes at FIT and the Art Students League at night. Despite all that, we’ve had another wonderful summer at the Little Blue Cottage. Although, I’m sad to say, the garden suffered because I paid more attention to my computer and sketch pad than to the weeds. The sad shape of the garden was partly my fault – planting seedlings before the last frost, not keeping up with weeding, and just plain ignoring it – but I can also put some of the blame on our neighborhood friends who view our yard and garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The rabbit population, not surprisingly, seems to have increased since last year, and our paltry electric fence around the flower garden was a laughable attempt at protecting our seedlings from their feeding frenzy. (After much research and trips to the garden center, Mark has since juiced up and fortified the fence). As much as they are a bane on the garden, they are really charming when they are sitting on the lawn nibbling away at grass. They are so at home in our yard, that they are completely unperturbed as I cautiously creep closer and closer with my camera clicking away madly, until they’ve had enough and then go bounding off into the woods. They have been great subjects for my sketches.
Now, if I could only get them to just eat the weeds in the garden…
Today is the first day that we’ve gotten a break from the miserable heat wave that hit a large portion of the US. Fortunately, Mark and I timed our purchase of a second air conditioner for the apartment living room perfectly, almost as soon as it was installed the muggy heat descended on the City. We no longer have to barricade ourselves in the cool bedroom when our top floor, southern exposed apartment starts to turn into an oven. At our cottage, the surrounding trees and grass make the heat more bearable and this is our air conditioner:
Because it’s detached from the house and a couple of yards from our back door, it’s been referred to by various people as a gazebo, a screened-in porch and, my favorite, a sleeping porch. (I prefer to sleep in the comfort and safety of my bedroom, but when my brother came to visit he slept out there very comfortably, on an inflatable mattress.) We just call it the porch, and during the summer it’s where we eat most of our meals. It’s also my temporary studio/office and our living room – last night we discussed the possibility of bringing the tv out here.
We haven’t yet dragged the tv out here, but we do set up our waffle iron, electric griddle, and toaster for Sunday breakfasts and I’ve brought out my sewing machine for various projects. For the past couple of months, it’s been my favorite spot for working on my class projects for the textile design class I’ve been taking at FIT. My class (a condensed summer semester means 2 nights a week from 6pm – 9pm), work and gardening have been keeping me busy, but I’ve really enjoyed it. Classes ended this week and I’ve already signed up for the follow-up class for the Fall semester.
By the way, the waffles that Mark is digging into in the photo above are our favorite Mark Bittman yeast waffle recipe, “Overnight Waffles”. I know that about 99% of you just lost all interest when you read “overnight”, but I promise you, it takes maybe 10 minutes the night before to mix the ingredients and the reward is great. I’ve prepared the batter the night before after having fallen asleep on the couch to a movie. It can be a struggle to drag myself from the couch to the kitchen, but the next morning, I’m always so glad I did. And I wake up to this science experiment: