Barking Bird Art: Hello! My name is Rebecca and I live in Portland, Oregon with a baby, a teenager, a husband, two nice cats and a REALLY stubborn dog. I like illustration, cute things, and a strong cup of tea.
Michelle Obama and her youngest daughter Sacha enjoyed a European Vacation in Spain recently. I thought perhaps you might like to take a virtual trip to the land of las pampas and Paso Doble, the Reino de Espana. This first item is the perfect travel tote, whether you’re roaming the streets of Barcelona, or jet-setting in Marbella, which is where the bag’s designer, Martina Masini, resides.
Crochet is definitely one of those arts that can veer into the not-hip-at-all category of the world of handmade. A toilet paper roll cover made to look like a skirt with a plastic doll on top comes to mind. This is not the case with this cool brooch by Paz of Monicacaros.
I am a collector of brooches, old and new, and this one would be a very nice addition. Monicacaros is a made-up name, but the shop has some very real treasures—including a mouse named Roberto (he is Spanish after all).
My daughter is an animal lover, and horses are at the very top of the list. She gets that from her mom. I am terribly allergic to anything with fur, but I still ride horses whenever I get the chance. Thus, anything with a horse on it always gets my attention. I found this drawing by Olga Gal especially captivating. The colors are so simple but the composition is quite beautiful.
I am certain Michelle Obama and Sasha did some shopping, with Secret Service detail in tow, of course. Maybe if they had brought something back from their trip for the conservative media, they wouldn’t have been given such a hard time for stepping foot outside of the United States. How about one of these cute, handmade, plushies by Vega Lyrae? Seems like a good gift for the childish media personalities raising a ruckus. Seriously, Spain did win the World Cup–for goodness sake, shouldn’t someone congratulate them in person?
Steph Dempsey and I were neighbors at a craft show this summer, so for three days I got to do one of my favorite things: look at pretty fabric all day long. Steph makes lovely handmade dresses for little girls under the label Yellin’ Moon, and has a wonderful eye for combining fabrics in unexpected ways.
Even though none of the dresses were big enough for me, I had great fun looking through them all, just to see Steph’s pretty and unusual blends of pattern and color.
The mixing and matching makes Yellin’ Moon dresses just as appealing to parents as they are to the young ladies they are intended for. . .I heard enthusiastic squeals of “oooh, lookit the dresses!” from women and girls of all ages that weekend!
Steph loves fabric and color, and you can tell by looking at her creations. She says she is “not a snooty shopper” when it comes to fabric, and finds new goodies for her stash wherever she goes: fashion fabric shops, quilting shops, goodwill and thrift stores, and occasionally her husband’s closet.
The vast variety of her sources, and the fact that she buys in small quantities, means that her fabric stash is ever changing, and with it the inspiration for her dresses. Every single dress is one-of-a-kind, and is created from a happy accident of on-the-spot inspiration from the fabrics themselves, and sometimes input from her daughter, who has her own sharp eye for pattern and color.
Steph’s love for quilting and the attention to detail in vintage clothes comes out in the dresses she makes. “It seems like when you only have one small piece of something, it becomes so much more precious,” she says. Combining small bits of fabric not only makes each dress she makes unique, but also adds complexity to her otherwise uncomplicated designs. Steph keeps the silhouettes of her dresses simple on purpose, to make sure they stay easy to wear and care for.
Steph has been sewing all her life, and started saving up for her first sewing machine at age eleven. She’s always made quilts and clothes for herself, but didn’t think to turn her hobby into a business until after her children were born. The first Yellin’ Moon dress (although she didn’t know it at the time) was a sundress for her first daughter, refashioned from an old muumuu. Her daughter loved wearing it, and soon friends started to ask her to make their children dresses.
Eventually, with encouragement from an entrepreneurial friend, Yellin’ Moon was born. In addition to dresses in a handful of styles for little girls, Steph also makes winter hats and mittens, party hats, pants, skirts, shirts, and bibs. She has plans to expand to little boys’ clothes and perhaps even some items for adults.
Steph sells her pretty clothes at local art and craft shows, and you can find her show schedule on her blog. She is also planning on restocking her online shop this fall, so keep a sharp eye out, because everything is one of a kind!
Sweet, simple, and just perfect for gift-giving, these blankets are unlike typical baby fare.
Made by hand from high-quality snuggly fabrics. From Mairzey Dotes. (UPDATE: they are no longer in business.)
This week, in the Back-to-School Eats series, I’m going to talk Brown Bag Lunches. From planning to execution, purchase to lunchroom-feast I’ve got tips, tricks and ideas to make healthy, mostly local lunches quick, easy and attainable for even the busiest families. But before we get started on lunch, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Back-to-School Eats: On The Go Breakfast Edition for four wholesome ways to kick off your school-kid’s day. Because breakfast is the most important meal, one that sets the tone for success and health and if your child hasn’t had a good breakfast the quality of his lunch isn’t going to be able to make up the difference.
Have a System – When my oldest started Kindergarten I was still one of those really good parents. I was expending an obnoxious amount of time trying to Do It All and I was succeeding. Most of the remnants of that time are now long gone, ancient history, but a few usable bits and pieces still remain. One of those things is a lunch planning spreadsheet I created. Or, rather, several of them. They’re divided into four categories; main dish, fruit, vegetable and treat. Those categories are color coded and each spreadsheet represents a different season, a different part of the school year. In each of the categories, on each of the spreadsheets, are several items that we usually have on hand during that time of year. Some items make an appearance in more than one season — peanut butter and jam sandwiches and apples, for instance — but many are seasonal with temporary availability — like asparagus in the springtime, peaches and pears in the late summer and early fall. Each day my girls pick one item from each category to make up the lunch of their choice. You don’t have to use my system, though it works very well if you’d like to, but have a system in place to make everything from purchase to packing easy.
Start Big – It’s contrary to everything your mother ever told you — “Start small, deary! Work your way up! — but hear me out. What I mean is not to start big overall, but to start with the big things. To have the biggest impact start with the largest portions of the meal and work your way down to the condiments, the toppings, the little treats. If sandwiches are a common component of your kids’ lunch look for good local sources of bread (or the grains to make it in your very own bread maker) and lunch meat. Worry about the condiments later, for instance.
Understand Your Law of Supply and Demand – And obey it. If you have one child who eats an apple a day, chances are you don’t need a bushel of apples every week. It’s just as easy to overdo it at the Farmer’s Market as it is to not go at all. Buy what you need, eat what you buy.
Plan Ahead – Unless you’re fortunate enough to be in a temperate climate where the growing season and the Farmer’s Market go year-round, you’re going to have to plan ahead for winter. Last year, in On Year Round Appreciation, I alluded to the importance of asking your local growers about year-round product availability now, before the market closes, but that is doubly important when you’re trying to get three meals a day out of the local food scene. Remember, some products don’t have a set season. Meats, eggs, preserves, breads, and even some produce that keeps well in a root cellar like potatoes, onions, apples, hard squashes and garlic can be had in the dead of winter without trucking it in from miles out. Start planning how you’ll access these goods before the cold sets in. You may be able to buy them farm direct, you may need to stock up. Now is the time to know which it’ll be.
Whatever the system you choose and foods you pack here’s to happy, healthy, local and — most important — stress-free back-to-school lunches!