July 2011 Archives

New reading + knitting space!

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Although I may have contracted a case of the Summer Lazies which is preventing me from finishing up much of anything on schedule, the end of July is not without creative excitement. We've been spending a lot of time out on the trails lately, but what we were really missing was a way to spend time outdoors while still being at home. David and my place is quite urban, a small condo with no yard or outdoor space, and while there are a number of pretty parks nearby, it's just not the same as being able to chill at home and enjoy the nice weather with a book or a knitting project.

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Enter my mom, a passionate gardener, who as a delayed Partnership Celebration gift generously offered to set us up with a couple of beautiful planters full of plants, as well as a set of chairs and a little table for our small, until-now-under-utilized porch area. The three of us made a trip to the nursery and had great fun selecting the large orange planter and the grouping of plants inside it, which include a delicate Japanese maple, two Pieris (otherwise known as andromeda), a lily turf, and a couple starters of cascading rosemary and cascading thyme (with which we can cook!). Here's a shot of the thyme, already making its way over the edge of the orange pot:

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We already had the two smaller blue pots, and when I got my heart set on finding an oak-leaf hydrangea for one of them, my mom searched high and low for a healthy-looking example. She found the beautiful one you see here at her local farmer's market (this is taken from the other side of the arrangement, from the direction visible when we leave or arrive at our house):

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Into the other blue pot we transplanted some yellow dahlias that were a Partnership Celebration gift from David's aunt and uncle, and which are flourishing in their new location (which is awkward to photograph, so you'll just have to take my word). David and I have been grooving on having this new extension to our living space, especially now that the warm and sunny weather has FINALLY arrived in Portland. We've been sitting out here every evening, sipping a glass of wine or tea and chatting, reading, knitting (me), or blogging. It's really reinvigorated my enjoyment of our house.

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I've never been much of a gardener, but I have to say that having this beautiful area has made me appreciate much more the appeal of working with plants. Every morning before work I go out and water them, and observe the little differences in their condition one day to the next. They seem pretty happy; as you can see above, the lily turf has started putting up a spear of purple flowers, the thyme is flowering, and (although you can't see it) there are a ton of buds almost ready to flower on the dahlias. I feel a surprising affection for all our new flora.

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Even better, since I've been watering our new plants with vitamin-enhanced water (to decrease transplant shock, or so my mother tells me), I've started using up the leftover water on our houseplants. One of them (above), which has never flowered before, suddenly put up a spear of these beautiful orange-pink flowers. Cool!

Anyway, this is something that's really increased my quality of life of late, so thought I would share. It's extra-special because we had such loving and expert help setting it all up, so thanks to my mom for her help, and for having the great idea in the first place.

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Cross-posted with slight differences to Evening All Afternoon.

Trapper Creek

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I've been putting together a bunch of design proposals lately—an occupation that's satisfying on some levels, and deeply unsatisfying in others. It's a great way to gain a coherence to my nebulous project ideas, and I like making these one-page documents that juxtapose different visual elements (sketches, photos, swatches) in an attractive way. At the end of the process I have an appealing little object that encapsulates my excitement about a potential project—and, of course, I can't show it to anyone for months or sometimes years. That's the part that's less satisfying.

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But what I can show you are images from my hiking backlog, this time a walk we did two weeks ago in the Trapper Creek Wilderness at the far southern border of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. What a beautiful place, and a beautiful day. The Trapper Creek trail is right across the road from the Siouxon Creek area where we went walking in late April, but this trail was quite different both intrinsically and in terms of the season.

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Whereas Siouxon Creek keeps on a level with the creek, so that you have the constant sound of running water as a companion, the Trapper Creek trail climbs high above the main creek, then dips down suddenly to cross it at various points. It's overall a drier hike (again, some of this is down to the difference between April and July, but I think part of it is also the trails themselves), with springy forest floor underneath and dappled sunlight coming through the forest canopy.

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But although (or maybe because) there were fewer waterfalls and streams along the way, the little enclaves that do cross over water struck me as especially beautiful. The photography highlight of this hike was definitely the opportunity to capture the movement and stillness of water.

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After about four miles, of primarily forest walking, we came out at the stream above, a series of miniature rapids and landings perched just above an actual falls. I liked the way in which, although all this water was moving toward and over the falls, different micro-areas gave such different perceptions of its behavior. There were points were highly-pressurized water was squeezed into a narrow space, wearing the rock beneath to a smooth slide...

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...and pools where the water hardly circulated at all.

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There were also areas where the swift flow of water was so steady that it gave the impression of highly-polished, unmoving glass, sculpted into sinuous forms...

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...and other places where the stream seemed to spread out and flatten itself against the rock underneath, giving the impression that the stony surface itself was in motion.

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Just before the water tumbled over the falls, it gathered in a still-seeming pool that gave an odd "edge of the world" optical illusion, as if it simply ended without actually being contained.

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All in all it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. We managed to eat lunch actually on the trail, which we're getting better at but which in the past has been a big accomplishment (we normally get going so late, or get lost due to the poor instructions in our hiking book, that we end up eating while we're still in the car). I have another hike to show you from this weekend, so hopefully I can get that up in the next few days. Along with, you know, knitting content.

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Oh, and NW Forest pass tracking: after this outing we were down to $15/hike.

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An exciting partnership

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I knew there was a reason I was waiting to buy the complete line of Colette Patterns, and here it is: they just announced a charity partnership with The Pixie Project, one of my favorite Portland nonprofits!

Licking dog

You may remember that the Pixie Project is the awesome pet rescue through whom David and I adopted our miniature dachshund, Mr. Bingley (above). He's pretty much the light of our lives, and we feel so thankful for the good work of the Pixie Project and other rescue organizations who save dogs and cats from possible death at the over-burdened county and private shelters. Pixie Project is especially cool because most of their pre-adoption pets are in foster care rather than a kennel/shelter environment, which means less trauma to the animal and greater likelihood of a successful match. They have a retail arm, where we buy Mr. Bingley's food and which helps sustain their efforts to provide pre-adoption animals with necessary vet care. They're also integrated with Virginia Woof, a dog daycare and boarding organization that took great care of Mr. Bingley for us while we were in France. Here is how devoted they are: they called us in Paris to make sure it was okay for them to take Mr. Bingley on walks outside, since the neighborhood is high-traffic. How cool is that?

Who wants a treat?

I know Colette Patterns are already deservedly popular in home sewing circles, but I couldn't resist adding my plug for them after reading that they will be donating a portion of their profits to Pixie Project. What could be better? You buy a stylish, beautifully packaged and incredibly well-written pattern, and help save a super-cute pet. I believe they call this a win-win.

Mr. Bingley after his bath

So, which Colette designs will I be investing in? As of right now the only one I own is Rooibos, which I made into the tangerine-themed sundress I took on honeymoon last year. I have to say, this has since become one of my favorite dresses: it's in high rotation in my work wardrobe, and I get a ton of compliments on it. In the winter I accessorize it with knee-high socks, my Frye cowboy boots and my Monami cardigan; in summer I lose the sweater and the socks, and wear it with my Danskö mary janes (or flip-flops, if I'm at home instead of at work).

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I'd been thinking of remaking the same pattern in a different fabric, but now I'm considering which other Colette patterns I'd like to make. Their new Ginger skirt pattern is super cute and versatile-seeming, and I've been coveting the retro-sexy Cinnamon and Nutmeg dainties patterns since I brainstormed some mood boards for them last year. And there's one other pattern that's a no-brainer: I've been promising to make David a button-down shirt for over a DECADE, and the Negroni pattern is named after his favorite cocktail. (I know, spooky. Also: I feel the shame, guys. I really do.)

Anyway, this post is a bit gushier and more boosterish than my normal fare, but I was so excited to see two of my favorite Portland businesses teaming up that I just had to share. Let's end with another cute Mr. Bingley shot, just because I can.

Little feet

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