Tuesday, November 27, 2012

merrily we sew along #2 - the cowl neck duffle

Head on over to My Improv Diary to see what I've stitched up for the second installment in our sew along - Merrily We Sew Along. I do hope you'll join the fun and share your projects!  Here is a peek, but head over to see what tweaks I  have made to the original project in our book.
Ava in MY new shirt. She has stolen it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Merrily We Sew Along

Head over to my other blog, Improv Diary , to join in a sew along co-hosted by Imagine Gnats and Casa Crafty.  All of the details are listed there and there will be prizes folks! Good ones! But of course, do it for the community bolstered inspiration, the tutorials, and the freedom of sewing in the improv way!

merrily we sew along

xo, nicole

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Show Me A Story Book Review + Giveaway!

I am so pleased to be able to share something really truly special and awesome with you all today - this wonderful book called Show Me A Story (Storey 2012), by Emily Neuburger of Red Bird Crafts. If you have kids, teach kids, or even know some kids, then read on while I share what I feel as a mom, a former elementary school teacher, and someone who just like to pass around the beautiful things in the world. Emily is also a friend of mine, so I can tell you that she is the real deal and has put an enormous amount of thought and energy into the publication of this book, which takes all of the work out for us, and leaves us with 4o rich and authentic activities we can do with kids to promote their creativity and even proficiency at telling a story - orally, visually, and written.
                                          
When I was asked to review the book, of course I said yes without hesitation. It is a subject that is very near and dear to me and I have tried to bring the richness of story into my home by way of reading a ton to my kids as well as providing ample time for my daughter to write - it is pretty much her favorite thing to do.  Coincidentally, as the review copy came to my mailbox, my husband and I were beginning to see that our younger son appears to be having a much tougher time getting his thoughts and ideas out into the world (on paper, mostly).  It was weird - the timing. It was also great because Show Me A Story is so freakin' beautiful and appealing that any kid would want to pick it up and see which projects they might want to start with. So was true for Harry. I will note, however, that when I asked him to tell the story of his characters to me, he looked worried and wondered if he needed to write it down. "No" was the right answer for him and I got to hear about the race car and the big monster who fought him and the "annual reward" for defeating the monster, which was an enormous box of golden fries (who wouldn't want that over a trophy?).

He chose this as his first project:
The travelling puppet theater, which is basically a background with cuts to allow for popsicle stick characters to move around. The picture is terrible - so sorry!

Harry used Sharpies and nice thick paper.
Meet the bad guy.
and the good guy

They fight, sound effects are made, and the good guy wins

and gets the french fry prize!!!! The crowd goes wild!
 Each time you turn the page of this book there is a new thing you want to make or do. Story stones are on top of my list! They are super cute and they are rocks!! so they are great to have in hand.


I'm sure you were totally interested in my boy's project, but I know you really want to know how you can get your hands on a copy, so I will get on with it.  I have a copy to give away to some lucky person. All you need to do is be a U.S. resident and leave a comment here by October 7  October 10 (Note: I am extending the giveaway until Wednesday, October 10)to enter. Give me the first sentence in a story you would write today while you are at it. And if you want another chance to win, head over to the Storey blog.  They'll tell you what to do.
This giveaway is now closed :). Congratualtions Nancy!
xo

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why everyone should go to a Maker Fair

This past weekend, Debra and I went to set up a little 10' x 10' sewing studio at the World Maker Faire 2012 in Queens. We were there to promote our book and get curious people interested in sewing on our machines.  What can I say? It was awesome! I had people talking to me about sewing conductive thread through garments and using an arduino to respond to some change in the wearer's body temp or heart rate to make something on the garment change.  Picture actual hackles going up on the shoulders of your shirt because you got nervous! Another visitor wanted to know which kind of sewing machine he should buy for hacking.  What do you think he is going to make that machine do? There were some seriously creative thinkers about and a million things to see and make while there (though I heard that second hand as we were so busy with visitors that we didn't have time to leave the booth at all).
Before the gates opened we really didn't know what to expect.  The rain just stopped and we heard the subways were down.
It was like this all day and people were so interesting and great.

We taught men, women, boys, and girls how to draw with thread. They made some pretty cool stuff!

The first day ended at 7pm, so the chandelier that Debra made came in real handy.
And, and, and... we won two awards!!! We were awarded the Educator's Choice award and the Editor's Pick Blue Ribbon.  We were so proud it was almost unbearable.
So, my real point, before I started bragging, was this: If you ever feel disillusioned with the world and pop culture is getting you down, head over to a Maker Faire and see what people are doing and sharing! It's a beehive and very inspiring!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kid's after-school sewing in my studio


I will be running 2 classes :

Wednesdays from 3:30 - 5:30   Oct. 3 - Dec. 12 (No class Thanksgiving week)
Thursdays from 3:30 - 5:30       Oct. 4 - Dec. 13 (No class Thanksgiving week)

The classes will cost $175 (including most materials - I may ask for a few things to be purchased)

The classes will focus on basic machine sewing skills - learn to use that machine without help! - and we will make clothes, gifts, cool things for your room, and more. If you have a sewing machine that works well, I will want you to bring it.  I have 3 machines and it is nice for everyone to have their own.  If you are interested in buying a machine, I have opinions and advice, so just ask.

I want to have 6 kids in each class, and a minimum of 4 to run the class.  Spread the word  (forward this email!) around to others who might be interested and let me know if you have any questions.


My facebook page is a great place to look for upcoming sewing classes, workshops, and demos :www.facebook.com/improvsewing

Sewing School


I will be running 2 classes :

Wednesdays from 3:30 - 5:30   Oct. 3 - Dec. 12 (No class Thanksgiving week)
Thursdays from 3:30 - 5:30       Oct. 4 - Dec. 13 (No class Thanksgiving week)

The classes will cost $175 (including most materials - I may ask for a few things to be purchased)

The classes will focus on basic machine sewing skills - learn to use that machine without help! - and we will make clothes, gifts, cool things for your room, and more. If you have a sewing machine that works well, I will want you to bring it.  I have 3 machines and it is nice for everyone to have their own.  If you are interested in buying a machine, I have opinions and advice, so just ask.

I want to have 6 kids in each class, and a minimum of 4 to run the class.  Spread the word around to others who might be interested and let me know if you have any questions.


My facebook page is a great place to look for upcoming sewing classes, workshops, and demos :www.facebook.com/improvsewing

Monday, September 3, 2012

cocktails anyone?

The autumn is coming and I don't think I have had nearly enough spritely cocktails this summer, though I distinctly recall having it on my mental "goals of the summer" list. So what!  It is warm and this cocktail, created by my husband for an upcoming Edible Berkshires article our cider is going to be in, is soooo good.  If you can't get a hold of shrub and haven't made any yourself even though all the kids in Brooklyn are doing it, then just go get a small bottle of Chambourg or other raspberry cordial. It is called a Cider Maiden's Blush - sexy.


Cider Maiden's Blush

6 ounces sparkling hard cider (preferably Carr's Dry Cider)
1.5 ounces gin
1/2 ounce raspberry shrub or Chambourg
chopped mint / and a sprig of mint too
raspberries

First of all, everything should be good and cold, including the glasses - stick them in the freezer until ready to pour. I add the shrub/cordial last so it stays a little separated - so pretty.  Add a sprig of mint and a few raspberries and cross that task off your list.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Two new tutorials - snacks and skirts

My kids are at school today! Honestly, I can't believe it, but that's how it goes EVERY YEAR! I like to make them new things to start the year and this year I made Harry a new snack bag with a paper airplane stitched on front.  If you are interested in reading about it and making one like it, head over to this new place I am writing a monthly blog post for - a site called The Bubble Blog. The blog has a number of different writers, writing about a number of different topics - food, crafts, parenting, finances, and organization.  This post should be up over there in the next week.  I just didn't want you to think I left Harry out when you see what I made Ava!


Ava wanted a full skirt made out of great fabric and that is what she got.  I blogged about it over on my other blog Improv Diary and there is a tutorial as well, so you can make one too. I had a simpler plan, but she had a vision and I figured I would try to figure out how to achieve it.  I might do things differently next time, but it worked out great and she looks great and she wore it today ONE HER FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!


Happy almost autumn! xo

UPDATE: The tutorial is now live on the bubble blog! Do show me what you make!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

13 year old girl


13 years ago wasn't yesterday, but the day Ava came is still a completely vivid story I can play over in my mind. She has blown me away each and every year of her growth and now she is a teenager and I am happy.  I am happy that she is happy.  And strong and smart and deeply beautiful throughout.  I don't worry about her - well, I mean, in that way that we worry about whether our kids will lead happy lives, I don't  I worry about her practically every minute, but that is about silly stuff, like whether or not she will drop something heavy on her foot, or land funny jumping off the trampoline.

I would have liked to be her friend when I was 13.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

pig roast

We've been raising pigs for a few years now, but this was our first pig roast.  I keep trying to come up with the right adjective to describe the whole experience but no one word sums it up.  Maybe intense or epic or something hearkening back to my California roots,but I don't know.  I was a vegetarian for 15 years, you might be surprised to read, and I never ever thought I would be literally looking my dinner right in the eye.  But, I did the other day.  It was not a simple meal.

Here is how it went, if you are interested.  It isn't super graphic in terms of the pig - maybe rated PG. I didn't feel right photographing it's face, for example.

Jonny decided to do it Cuban style, so a Cuban pig roasting pit was built. It isn't pretty, but it worked! 4 layers of cinder blocks and a rack made from re-bar all lashed together.


A charcoal fire was lit on the ground of the pit and pushed to the sides.

Then the 100 pound pig was butterflied and laid out on the rack. We marinated it overnight with a Cuban citrus and garlic and hard cider concoction.

We even injected it into the flesh.
another rack was added and the whole thing was lashed together 

and covered in aluminum foil to keep in the heat. It cooked slow and long.
Now the pit master sat his butt down and made sure there were no flare ups.  Every 40 minutes he added coals and about 3 hours in, the pig was flipped.  And, we ate the tail.  It's true.  It yoinked right off and it was delicious! 

meanwhile...

Harry came out every once in a while to look at the progress, but you can bet Ava stayed pretty much right where you see her here.
This is what happened for 3 more hours.
And we readied the place for our many guests.
Lookin' good...
When the pig was roasted completely it needed to be flipped one more time to crisp up the skin on the back. Of course, the meat was falling off the bone at this point so things got a little hairy.

Before flipping all the way, a friend pulled out all of the pans with dripping so the coals could be raked out to make it nice and hot.  He got right in there.
\
It was a little like a sporting event with much muscle straining and sweat.

When it was time to lift the rack away from the pit and put it on the table, the hams fell through the rack and into the fire.  One friend reflexively went to save it but his brain kicked in and saved him first, so nobody was harmed.

Pablo and Andrew are ready for the pig pickin' to start. Look at that color!

I grabbed my camera just as this boy put down the cleaver and started using his hands.

The pork was delicious and tender. We had about 100 friends there to help us eat it, a keg of cider, and a ton of lovely things spread on the potluck table.  It was a great day and we will do it again. 







Thursday, June 21, 2012

sewing camp

Live in the area and have a kid who would like to learn to sew on a machine?  I have a few spots open still. Ava lettered and harry did the machine drawing.  Good help.

Monday, May 14, 2012

perfect

Last week I was in California! Beautiful California.  I was there with Debra (my co-author pal) promoting Improv Sewing and I actually can't believe how busy our days were. A city of culinary delights-like tacos.  I could cry thinking that I did not have one, though I set out with the idea that I would have them for either lunch or dinner daily.  Do you understand?  I sort of became the woman I am in SF- fed by taquerias. I was so busy.  But! But, I did have a little time on the first morning, as I was waiting for the Larkspur ferry to take me across the bay to my sister who was going to drive me up to an event in Santa Rosa.  Am I boring you with too many details about the minutiae of travel?  Then look at what I indulged in before the ferry came.  Perfect eggs on a bed of creamy Bellweather farm goat cheese with delicate butter lettuce.  I also had a pot of Stumptown coffee that was as good as coffee at home (which is good). I had this at the most lovely place in the ferry building called Boullette's Larder, sitting at the communal table, talking to the most awesome waitress and looking out to the Bay Bridge.  It was the most expensive plate of eggs I have ever purchased, but I watched the egg farmer walk in with her eggs and they really were sort of a magical experience.  I think I must cook eggs more gently in the future.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Busiest time of year/life!







It is Spring! Oh, Spring!  The sun is stronger and the buds have opened.  In New England we have leaves opening a good 3 weeks earlier than normal- which is really something!  "We" are planting 500 new trees on the orchard this week
                                                  
                                     
and "we" are also busy prepping for a big trip and a new book!

A week from today will find me in Colorado on day 2 of Improv Sewing's book tour!  I will be on set at Sew It All TV with Debra after a night doing demos and partying down at Denver's super cool crafty shop Fancy Tiger.  Actually, instead of listing all of our event dates here, please head over to our facebook page here for all of the current listings and plans.  "Like" us too- all the cool kids are doing it!

Needless to say, there is a lot to do to get ready and I hope if you live in Denver or environs, or if you live in SF, Santa Rosa, or Sacramento (or a driveable distance from one of those spots) that you will come to one of our fun events.  I really do want to emphasize the fun, because as Debra will tell you, this stuff is FUN!

This is also fun:

                                 
I had to pull him a bit, but he got a nice run down the orchard road, and then ended up overturned in a sizable patch of poison ivy. Now I have to decide if the steroids are necessary for my swollen eye!  Ugh!  Vanity is tricky, especially if you are heading in front of an HD TV camera.

Come see me!  Let me know that you came because I asked!  Check out our book.  We are really proud of it and think it is for EVERYBODY- for real!

xo, n