Friday, November 23, 2012

The Turkey of Christmas Past

In 1995 I started what would become an annual tradition: I sent my family and friends a simple black and white postcard with a drawing for the holidays. I was not long out of college, with a low-paying internship and it was an inexpensive way to send out my greetings for the year. I would have them printed on card stock at the local print shop around the corner from my office. Several years in a row they did the job for free because it was such a small quantity as compared to their industrial-sized print jobs. (Can you imagine that at Kinko's?!?)

The postcard tradition lasted until I started Sloe Gin Fizz in 2008 and I started sending "real" cards — with an envelope, full letter postage and everything. That's thirteen years of postcards … except for 2003. I missed that year and had so much guilt about it (my family is very big on traditions) that I sent this Turkey of Christmas Past just in time for the following Thanksgiving to make up for the missing greeting. I couldn't let a year pass! I looked through all the old postcards recently and it has me thinking maybe I should rekindle the tradition.

In honor of the Turkey of Christmas Past and in the holiday spirit, I'm offering my blog readers a special 15% discount throughout my Etsy shop now through Monday, November 26. Simply use the code: TURKEYLURKEY.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Don't be crewel, Anthropologie

I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw this photo on the Anthropologie web site last night. It's an incredible hand-stitched pillow covered in funky colorful birds of all shapes and sizes and backed in luscious orange. Super cute, right? Well, let me show you why I was shocked … have a look at this photo from our old apartment:

Notice anything familiar in the upper left corner? How about a closer look:

Shocker, right? My mom stitched this crewel work piece in the 1970s and it hung in our room as kids. It's one of my most treasured possessions and now here it is at Anthropologie. The web site says it is a one-of-a-kind creation by the fair trade artisans of August Morgan. This apparently is the company of Kate Hersch who transforms vintage needlework into one-of-a-kind pillows and furniture. So is there really only one? Where did she find it? I know my mom's was from a kit, but it's still amazing to see it brought back in this new form.

Update: Kate of August Morgan saw this post and contacted me (she was unable to comment here). She clarified that the pillow is, in fact, one of a kind. She found a vintage kit and had just that one stitched by a fair trade organization in India and then hand-sewn into a pillow in Austin, Texas. Kudos, Kate! 

The crewel birds were the inspiration for my popular Three Masked Birds design.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Business Tuesday: An Everlasting Meal

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler seems a most appropriate thing to talk about right before a holiday so focused on the meal. This is the only book in recent memory that I checked out of the library, read cover to cover and then immediately purchased for myself. It is a wonderful meditation on cooking, eating and living well.

"Cooking with Economy and Grace" is the subtitle and it describes this book fully. There are eloquently written passages spelling out the wisdom of stretching the ends of one meal into the beginnings of the next and learning to truly appreciate the value of cooking.

It is about the magic of transforming the most humble of ingredients into a full and satisfying meal: Soaking a few slices of red onion in some wine vinegar with a pinch of salt transforms fresh ricotta on toast into a luscious sandwich. Add a few herbs and a drizzle of olive oil and it's heavenly. And don't throw away those onion skins or herb stems, here's what to do with them …

This is everyday cooking at its finest presented with intelligence and charm. And yet there is so much more in this book … I can't say enough about it. Read it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Sarah Elizabeth Shop

I have to tell you that I've been snatching up lots of goodies this fall during my travels and at craft shows. I'm feeling the nesting urge and what better things to add to our home than those made by the hand of someone I've met and visited with. I have many to show you, but thought I would start with this gorgeous block printed lobster hanging.

It was printed by artist Julia Garrison at The Sarah Elizabeth Shop in Rockport, Massachusetts. I visited with Julia at the shop where they have been producing original block printed fabric and other items on an historic Acorn Press in Rockport since 1974. 

The history of the shop and its designs dates back even further to the late 1930s. The shop's namesake, Sarah Elizabeth Holloran was a member of "The Folly Cove Designers," a collective of designers that emerged from a design class taught by non other than Virginia Lee Burton. She is one of my favorite illustrators and storytellers of all time. You may know her from some of my favorite children's books: The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. 

Both of the pieces I bought were designed by the  vivacious apprentice designer Isabel Natti who worked alongside Sarah Elizabeth until Sarah Elizabeth's death in 2009. Isabel continued designing and printing her own work as well as Sarah Elizabeth's until her own death in 2011. Now Julia, a local painter and fabric artist, continues the tradition of offering original designed block printed fabric of her own as well as of the women who inspired her and taught her how to print. 

If you are ever in the area, I encourage you to check out this charming shop. I wanted to buy up everything in sight. In the meantime, you can also check out the Sarah Elizabeth shop on Etsy