Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Break in the Heat

Los Angeles has been in a crazy heat spell, breaking an all time record high of 113° in downtown on Monday. For a family that spends much of our time outside, the scorching temperatures have put a damper on our outdoor adventures. Last night, as the boys and I sat down to dinner I heard the rumble of thunder. I opened the windows to hear better. Sure enough, the thunder returned. The dogs lumbered back inside the house with tails low.

Five minutes later I saw a light rain coming down. We put our forks down and raced outside to feel the cool breeze blowing and watch the wind ripple the sides of the tent. Then the rich smell of wet earth kissed away the memory of the searing sun. In an area of the world where fast moving weather changes are rare, I am always appreciative of the chance thunder storm no matter how fleeting. Ours lasted about two minutes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Timid Brown Widow

While planting some nasturtium seeds in recycled six-pack vegetable containers, I ran across many brown widows. According to the National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America, the brown widow rarely bites. We practice a policy of relocation. Their black widow cousins, however, are not so fortunate at Camp Ramshackle.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Mending

When a seam on the front of my worst pair of shorts split on two sides I was about to give up on them. I had already fixed the hem (kind of) about a year ago in what I thought was a last ditch effort to keep them in rotation for another season. For some reason, once again, I decided to patch them up instead of composting them. Using the sewing machine is kind of a drag for me sometimes. It's often easier and quieter and kind of meditative for me to get a needle and some thread and just sew.

I'm not very good at it and don't really care to be necessarily but I have noticed that I am getting better in spite of myself. Real sewing aficionados will probably shudder at my technique which rarely involves pins or ensuring that I have enough matching thread before I start.

This time I started by using a simple running stitch to tack some roughly matching duck cloth to the back of the hole. Then I used another simple cross stitch to hold the floppy pieces around the holes down to the patch from the front.

From the back the cross stitch makes a kind of boxy serpentine pattern.

I don't fix these shorts because I love them. The reason I continue to patch them up and wear them is because it's really nice to have shorts to wear that I don't care about at all. Kind of funny when I think about that.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend Sewing Projects

Eric took the boys out on Sunday. I took advantage of the quiet to tend to some sewing. I fixed my oldest son's favorite pants by adding two new patches to cover some noxious tears. I believe the holes were acquired while climbing the bottle brush tree, currently my son's favorite climbing tree.

My sister gave me this buckwheat pillow perhaps a decade or so ago. I use it constantly. After years of use, the material started to show signs of age and fray. Buckwheat kernels began to escape from a few tiny holes peppering the bedding with tiny like pebbles.

I adopted a temporary stopgap measure that took on permanent status. I stuffed the leaking buckwheat pillow into a case. As you can see, there is no closure, so the kernels could still empty into the bed if turned the wrong way.

Those days are over. I made a new cover with some linen from etsuko furuya for KOKKA 'tiger on the flower'. It is the dawn of a new era.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Welcome Back Artichoke!

Artichokes have a tortured history at Camp Ramshackle. While watering recently, I'm happy to say one of our plants reemerged from summer hibernation unfurling it's small spiked leaves. I keep watering the locations of the other plants, although all I see are small indentations in the soil. The appearance of this old friend fuels my hope for the other artichoke plants to return as well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Annals of Home Improvement: Under Bed Storage Part II

In August, I made a cover for a drawer I scavenged off the street. The project was an upgrade for under the bed linen storage. I finished the second and last drawer cover. I decided to hem only the front and back of the cover & leave the ragged side seams exposed.

Despite the unhemmed edges, the cover is sewn much more neatly than the first one. I'm sure the dustballs and eddies of dog hair will appreciate the detail.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Garden Developments

The pomegranates are back. I thought that they might need another month or so to ripen, but an unknown critter left contrary evidence. I found a shredded pomegranate shell in the crotch of the big oak tree and another cracked shell about ten feet from the base of the oak. I picked it up and spied the red ripe fruit sparkling like rubies. I love pomegranates.

Autumn also ends our native plants hibernation. In the summer we let the plants bloom and go to seed. I've started pruning the sage and buckwheat before the fall growth takes off, widening the pathway

to the pomegranates.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tending the Tent

My three year old's birthday request was for the family to sleep together in the tent. Wish attained. Eric made the sleeping arrangements. We spent a crisp but beautiful evening nestled together under thick comforters. Our bedding migrated to the house post campout. A comfy foam pad lingered a bit longer. I finished putting it all away today and took the opportunity to rearrange.

With the changing weather, I decided to move my desk to the tent. As the bright summer sun makes way for the subtle autumn sunshine, I find myself lingering outside longer. I figure it is a good way to be outside and still get some of my work done.

The desk in the tent is a great addition to my workspace in the often too hot Silver Streak.

My three year old snapped this picture of me working at my newly located desk.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Presents

The little guys celebrated their birthdays over the Labor Day weekend. My Alaskan island living sister-in-law and her family always make such sweet presents. These two creatures, red guy is Sharpie, came with a hand drawn card featuring the two monsters devouring birthday cake thanks to the creative talents of my dear niece.

And this green sweetie cyclops is Tyson and already a favorite.

Thanks Alaskan Poseys!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homemade Bag for Toting Books

The start of school meant a book bag was in order. I began this project in June as a summer library tote. The bag is library friendly but makes it's debut in September as a school bag.

I made up this pattern as I went along, which I think contributed to the delay. I do much better when I create the entire pattern from the get-go rather than piecemeal design.

To accommodate our summer schedule, I started making the bag outside, which was pretty fun. Looking at this picture reminds me of all the summer activity that circled around my makeshift outdoor studio. I finished it in my claimed trailer.

I made an interior pocket on the lining with two compartments. One just the right size to fit a library card. I can't help but think of a scene from The Mighty Boosh where Vince makes a mirror ball suit for himself and a library suit for Howard. "See this pocket? That's for your library cards. See this pouch? Loose case you got any fines."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Shipwreck at Machine Project

To commemorate the first week of school, the boys and I set off to see Josh Beckman's Sea Nymph at Machine Project.

Beckman created a shipwreck sculpture that is open for climbing and exploration. The exhibit is open through October 8th. Machine is also hosting lectures, puppet shows and music related to the piece. Learn more at Machine Project.

Eric even captured a picture of us aboard the Sea Nymph through the streaming mast-cam.

Great work deserves support. This is a shameless plug to support the work of Machine Project by becoming a member.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Birthday Pants

While looking for school clothes for my oldest son, I realized I should just make some. I figured if I could come up with a decent pants pattern, I could make a few pairs that would suit him. My son picked out striped turquoise and grape fabric from Etsuko Furuya's Echino line.

I used the pattern making method I learned at my Machine Project Sewing 102 class. The pattern is inspired by the Mini Boden sailing trousers I purchased earlier in the summer for both the boys.

I have a habit of making patterns too large and these pants were no exception. The proportions, however, came out perfectly. I was easily able to alter the pants so they fit great. I will amend my pattern before I make another pair. In doing so, I hope I'll develop a better sense for making more true to size patterns.

The pants were received with true delight.

And I know I'm his mom and all, but I think he's about the cutest guy on the planet. I love his style along with everything else.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tiny Lizard Catch

One of many of the surprisingly small lizards parading through our yard. Caught. Observed. Released.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Not-O-Matic Lemonade

With a just a bit of summer left I juiced enough lemons to make about 3 gallons of homemade lemonade.

Our hand juicer was inherited from Julia's grandmother. While using it to juice several pounds of lemons I thought about how well made the juicer is. It's very simple but it needs to withstand quite a bit of pressure. I thought about how many gallons of juice this press must have squeezed out. Then I noticed the raised lettering on the front of the press which were almost completely worn off from the friction of pressers palms riding the top piece down in order to steady it at each pressing: "Juice-O-Matic." There is nothing automatic about this press as the name would suggest. It's all manual. The only way it could be more manual is with a reamer or if you simply squeezed the fruit with your hand.

It took some time, but it was the kind of repetitive task that allowed my mind to wander. II felt connected in some way with Julia's grandmother and imagined her making lemonade at the end of some other late-summer's day with the same press, her hand imperceptibly rubbing away the incongruous label embossed beneath it.

My recipe is 1 part honey, 2 parts lemon juice, roughly 16 parts water. This makes a fairly mild, not too sweet lemonade which is how I like it on a hot day. Julia likes hers with a little more bite but so she would probably up the lemon juice to about 2 1/2 parts. One tip is to save some lemon juice for the end in case you need to make it more tart and to mix the honey into the room temperature lemon juice - it's a bear to get it to dissolve if the water or juice is cold.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer Wane

We are enjoying the busy unofficial final days of summer before school starts, playing in curtains, sewing clothes & bags and celebrating birthdays. Details of events to follow.

Happy Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Butterflies at the NHM

Swallowtail on Lantana.

As seen through the eyes of my almost three year old.

Mourning cloak on fellow Pavilion of Wings attendee.