“Rake and Make Ranch” (as I so dubbed it in this year’s application) was accepted to Seattle Tilth’s Chicken Coop and Urban Farm Tour, listing it as one of Seattle’s top 25 urban farms! I’ve been a host before in 2010 and 2012, but I’m especially excited about this year, as Matt and I have been working really hard on our coop and garden lately. The coop got a new fence, paint job and concrete pad and Matt built a new hops trellis, so everything is looking tip top. If you are in the Seattle area and have been wanting to see our urban farm in real life, now is your chance!

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For more info and to purchase a map go to:

www.seattletilth.org/special_events/chickencoopurbanfarmtour

I hope to see you there!

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Every year I find myself elbow deep in greens. Early this year I planted four varieties of lettuce, two of them mustard greens. After many an inventive salad, it dawned on me: Could I ferment my greens?

Lilly blessed me with an amazing crock so I have been doing quite a few ferments lately. Not only is fermented food delicious, it is wildly nutritious! If you would like to learn more about fermenting and why it is so life changing, read The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. It is a game changer!

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I will admit, I am not sure how long fermented lettuce will stay good for because I can’t seem to keep it around. It is great in grain salads made with farro or wild rice, pasta dishes, stir fries and oddly enough…mashed potatoes!

And it is oh so easy! All you need is lettuce, sea salt and water!

Be sure to wash your lettuce thoroughly. I am not sure how fermented critters taste, but it gives me the heebee geebees. I usually immerse my lettuce in a big bowl of water and add a tablespoon of sea salt. Let it sit for a half hour and then agitate the water to make sure the lettuce is fully clean.

Then, I pull out handfuls of lettuce and place them in a strainer. Sprinkle the lettuce with sea salt and then pack it in a wide mouth jar. Once all the lettuce is in the jar be sure to smash it down. I usually add a teaspoon of chopped garlic and a half teaspoon of crushed red pepper.

Place a paper towel or piece of cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and seal with a ring. Keep this jar out on the counter and monitor it twice a day, packing down the lettuce with a spatula at that time. Within eight to ten hours you want the brine to almost fully cover the lettuce. If that does not happen add a little water.

After two days, place the jar in the fridge and enjoy! I usually repack into a smaller jar, the lettuce really condenses in size as it wilts and ferments.IMG_8372
**One thing to note, I think a lot of the amazing flavor comes from using mustard greens in addition to lettuce. I would love to hear how your fermented lettuce turns out!

Hi strangers! Here is my slightly belated Me-Made-May ’15 recap!

I sort of half assedly participated in this year’s Me-Made-May. So half assedly, that I never even really announced that I was doing it. So the least I can do is a little recap!

In case you don’t know what Me-Made-May is, it’s something Zoe from the blog So Zo’ What Do You Know came up with several years ago, that has gained a lot of traction with the online sewing community. The idea is that you pledge to wear items you made yourself for the month of May. Many pledge to wear something handmade everyday, but the amount and frequency is up to you. Since I haven’t made a month’s worth of clothes yet, I pledged to wear something handmade twice a week.

May was a super busy month for me. I was traveling a lot and I started a new job (more on that later) and it got really hot weather-wise. Between all of those things, I did the best I could. I also wanted to get shots of me actually wearing my handmade clothes out and in public as much as possible, since that is a true test of how wearable something is.

Here’s how I did and what I learned-

Week 1

Sunday–  Wore my “Kentucky Derby” Moneta dress in Austin, TX.

I wore this the day after the actual Kentucky Derby, mind you. Do I get extra points for that? I would have worn it the day before, but I was in a wedding, so that wouldn’t have really been appropriate. I love love love this dress. I would wear it every day if I could and plan on making tons more.

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Week 2

Saturday– Wore my Colette Violet Blouse and my Jennifer Lauren Cressida Skirt out to a lovely brunch with my sister, for her birthday, on Alki Beach.

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Sunday– Wore my Colette Truffle dress.

I hadn’t worn this dress in ages, because I wasn’t that crazy about it. It wasn’t because of the fit or anything, I just could never figure out how to wear it. It’s such a bold print, that it can easily look way too over the top. I styled it with a jean jacket and some cowboy boots that day and was actually quite pleased with how this outfit turned out.

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Week 3

Sunday– Wore my Victory Patterns Ava Dress in Leavenworth, WA with the fam.

I had to wear my “Heidi” hair. It seemed appropriate.

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Monday– Wore my pink striped Sewaholic Renfrew top while hiking in Leavenworth.

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Week 4

Saturday– Wore my Colette Crepe dress.

I actually wore this to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party that day, but never got around to getting a picture. This photo was taken later that evening when we were back home. Matt actually likes it when I play my ukelele around the firepit and often requests it. I hadn’t worn this dress in awhile either and wearing it that day made me realize that I actually do like this dress!

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Sunday– Wore my Colette Patterns Meringue Skirt to a bbq that my friends Coleen and Jason hosted. They not only only had a house full of people, but they smoked 40 lbs. of (pretty much every kind of) meat and they did this just two weeks after having a baby. Ask me how that is possible? I do not know. They are amazing.

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Me-Made-May was such a good exercise for me and I’m glad I did it. A few of these outfits have already gotten a lot of wear, but many of them were early makes that I didn’t think much of. Me-Made-May forced me to revisit these items and by styling them a bit differently, or just giving them another chance, I found I liked them more than I thought. It also further solidified what I really like to wear (knits, comfortable clothes) and what gaps I have in my wardrobe (tops, casual wear). Looking through these pics is fun too. May was a fun month for me, full of travel, family and fun outings, so it was a good, yet challenging, month for me to strut my handmade items!

Thanks Zoe for coming up with and hosting Me-Made-May and for making it fun and accessible to sewers of every level.  I will definitely be participating again next year!

I recently made my first Colette Patterns Moneta dress and I can see why the blogisphere is abuzz about it. I made mine out of this fun “horse and jockey” vintage knit fabric that was in my stash (courtesy of Flower). It still had the dollar price tag on it from Goodwill.

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I made version 1 with the roll collar from the Moneta extras pdf. I had used an extra pocket design for Matt’s Negroni shirt, so again, you gotta love Colette Patterns for all the extras you get.

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Participating in the Wardrobe Architect exercises this year, has already helped me pinpoint that I need, and want, more knits in my wardrobe. Making this dress only reinforced that goal. I love knits for some many reasons. One being the fit and the other being the time it takes. I saved time by not having to make a muslin and by sewing it on a serger. This dress only took me 13 hours to make, from start to finish, including tracing the pattern and cutting out the fabric. That’s about half the time it takes me to sew a dress with woven fabric.

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I did tissue fit it and decided to lengthen the bodice about 2 3/8″. I probably could have lengthened it a tad less, as the bodice feels the tiniest bit too long. You can see it in the back where it wrinkles up a little. It’s not a big deal, as a quick tug down fixes that, but I will probably adjust that for the next one.

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Lounging by the pool, during a trip to Austin earlier this month.

Speaking of the next one, I already have plans for it. I have some pink and brown striped knit fabric that I think I’ll make a short sleeve version 2 out of. I can see why people make this dress over and again. It is quick and easy to make and comfortable and flattering to wear. I can already tell this is going to be a TNT pattern for me!

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So many great experiences start as a gift from my husband; the first one being the sewing machine he got me three years ago, that started my garment sewing obsession. I had off-handedly mentioned to Matt that I was interested in learning how to play the ukulele. One reason was that two of my all time favorite bands have ukulele in them: Man Man and the Magnetic Fields. The other was that I had heard that it’s a good instrument to learn as an adult beginner. Last year for my birthday, he surprised me with a ukulele and a gift certificate towards a class at Dusty Strings.

I have always been a huge music lover. Growing up, my parents had a pretty impressive record collection and stereo system and music was aways playing in the house. My dad dabbled in violin and I just found out my aunt Phoebe played ukulele as well. My sister Virginia is the true musician in the family and has been playing guitar since she was a teenager, has been in several bands, has a beautiful voice and continues to write songs and perform.

As for me, I played flute for a while when I was a kid. I remember having one recital. I sang in the junior choir at my church and jazz choir my freshman year of high school, so at one point I had known how to read music. In my twenties, my friends were all in bands and I would go to their shows and photograph them playing. One of my drummer friends even gave me drum lessons for a few months one Summer. That was short-lived when my neighbors decided to egg my house one night when I was practicing. The point is, I love music, but have always been more of a patron than a participant. I was excited to see if this would be something I could do and would enjoy. After perusing the classes at Dusty Strings, I decided to take an eight week Ukulele Fun!-damentals class with instructor Sunga Rose.

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The music school at Dusty Strings is a cool environment in and of itself. Up until that point, music schools were pretty foreign to me. The art building at UW, where I attended classes to get my photo degree, was right across from the Music school. I could hear students rehearsing as I went to class, but I never once set foot in there. So when I showed up for my first ukulele class, I was excited and nervous all at the same time.  While waiting for class, I read about the history of Dusty Strings. It was started by husband and wife Ray and Sue Mooers in 1978 and they started out making hammered dulcimers in the basement of their Ravenna home. Over 30 years later, the business has grown to include other acoustic stringed instruments (harps, mandolins, banjos, guitars and of course, ukuleles), a school, a building shop, and a repair shop. It’s a Fremont institution.

When the class started, I continued to feel a bit out of my element at first. Most of the people in my class had way more music experience than I did. All my nervousness and fears quickly melted away though, when Sunga’s patient and cheery attitude quickly set a tone of warmth and friendliness. If someone messed up or made a mistake, we weren’t made to feel bad, we all just laughed and tried again. Sunga has been such a great teacher and I have made some new friends in my classmates. I even got to practice on a classmate’s houseboat one night! I am so glad I chose her class. If I had ended up with any other teacher, this could have been a completely different experience and I may not have continued. Sunga really did make it fun, so I looked forward to class each week.

The end of the eight weeks culminated in a recital of all of her students (she teaches private lessons and classes at South Seattle Community College as well). Sunga’s Fun!-damentals students got to perform first and we played two songs: Acadian Lullaby and All Night Long. Matt took video with my phone and I have to say that the better performance was Acadian Lullaby, so that is what I will share with you. If you really want to see All Night Long, it’s here. I was little nervous at the recital, but luckily it was pretty casual. Plus, I was playing in a big group, so you wouldn’t have been able to hear me make a mistake anyway!

I am so glad I had this experience. As I have seen myself improve, it has given me such a huge sense of accomplishment. I loved Ukulele Fun!-damentals so much that when it was over, I immediately signed up for another eight weeks of Ukulele Fun!-damentals 2. I’m already halfway through it! I feel like I am learning so much and that I will have such a good foundation to build on from here. Sunga takes the summer off from teaching, but in the Fall offers an Ensemble class, so that is what I will probably jump into next. I also have a huge list of songs I want to learn and am currently teaching myself a Man Man song. If I practice hard enough, maybe I can do a solo at one of the next recitals! 😉

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