This is what I have taken up in recent quiet moments. This ingenious embroidery sampler made by the immensely talented Rebecca Ringquist. I took her class the other week at A Verb for Keeping Warm and ever since, I have been carrying this tray around with me, practicing my french knots and chain stitches. As you can see, I have some work to do on keeping my floss tidy.
I still love the sewing machine – its heft and efficiency. But this embroidery business matches my speed and mindspace at the moment.
Walking through a fabric store is a lot like walking through a library for me. I slip into a sort of sleepwalking, day-dreamy state taking in all the possibilities.
This is Jem in NYC, where I was this time last week. A particularly funky and creative store with a graffiti sign out front, a coffee stand, creaky wooden floors and racks of marvelous things to gaze upon. Plus a workshop in the back for a still-secret project that I'm helping cook up that I can't wait to tell you about. Heaven!
Confetti and polka dot projects are having a big moment right now. And why not? They make everything more happy and festive.
Before my heart confetti napkins, I made straight-up confetti napkins. They're way better than real confetti because the confetti stays in place and you don't find errant pieces in your hair (although that has its own charms). I’m telling you, a whole world of possibilities opened up when I realized I could make polka dots and simple patterned stencils with a hole punch.
The instructions are exactly the same as these napkins, using a regular hole punch instead of a heart-shaped one. When you're done, they make even a simple breakfast feel triumphant.
A late afternoon horsehoe game at a pit with a killer view.
(PS: Apologies for the lack of posts. I was out of town again and messsed up the auto-posts. So more soon. Also, for those of you reading this through a reader, these weekend sound posts include a short audio file that doesn't appear in most readers. Thanks for bearing with me through these lean posts. I have a big secret that is taking all my time but all will be revealed in a month! xo)
This is my first attempt at a new baby gift: a stuffed state for faraway friends. I made this late at night before hopping a plane to the East Coast and the next time around, I think I will make it out of a different color (not pale pink) so it looks less like a small intestine and more like California.
The only trick here is making sure you cut the fabric correctly for both sides. The easiest way is to lay your fabric wrong sides together and cut. I added a heart where San Francisco is, sewed the fabric together leaving a couple inches to add stuffing, and slipstitched it closed.
While I crave a handmade life, sometimes it’s all I can do to get a handmade meal on the table. We’ve had a lot of bombshelter meals lately, raiding the pantry and non-perishables to scrap together a warm dinner. So when I made this pesto, it was like reawakening my sense of smell. Restored with a quick whirl in the food processor, and that smell of earthy, peppery and green.
On a blustery day, a walk down to the Wave Organ with our niece and nephew, pressing our ears close to the cement pipes to hear the deep, gurgling bellows of the tides.
(It was too windy to make a good recording with my phone. This one is pretty poor, so go visit in person to hear the full-throated, watery churn)
When Sarah and I hosted diner at ALT, we kept the decorations simple so the food would shine. But every table needs a hit of pretty, so I ran to Home Depot and picked up a tray of succulents and cover paper from the paint department. Run some glue dots or double-sided tape around the top of the pot, cut a length of paper to fit, and secure with washi tape. Since the top of the pot is wider than the bottom, you can make a little pleat in the paper or leave as -is.
The plants are low enough to talk over, and succulent colors range from green and juicy to dusky and calm if you look closely. Even better if you can display them on lovely rounds of birch, supplied by my timber framer brother-in-law (thanks Hunter!). If you make these for a dinner party at home, you can send your pals home with a sweet little potted plant at the end of the evening.
Or keep them for your kitchen island. I won’t tell.
My husband is a great looker-upper. I mean that figuratively – he’s irrepressibly optimistic. And literally – the guy loves looking up.
When we first started dating, I realized that I often looked straight ahead, right where I was going. Or worse, I would look down as I made my way through the world. But years in Mike’s company has encouraged me to tip my head back from time to time and notice where treetops meet the sky, the details of a roofline, and birds tracing an invisible swag through the sky.
When I was in New York, I kept sending Mike photos like these. Little love notes about the power of looking up, both figuratively and literally.
Once a year, all the school kids in San Francisco hold a jump-a-thon to raise money for heart disease. We look out over the schoolyard next door, so this is the sound that reminds me it’s that time of year again.
(photo from here)
Friends! I am off to NYC for a few days. I'm working on a big project that is hush-hush for the moment, but when I can reveal all in a couple months, you will be the first to know.
Catching the end of a blues band while waiting for our friend's band to play. Mike and I played exquisite corpse as we drank our cold beers. Long live lo-fi entertainment.
You all know my best pal Sarah, yes? That's her photo above. Well if you've ever been curious about how food photographers and stylists work, you can listen to a terrific radio interview with her that was recorded on a photo shoot. Her segment starts 15 minutes in. I had the biggest, stupidest grin on my face when I listened to it because I'm so proud. She willed this whole career change to happen and has worked her bippy off to achieve it.
Way to go, Sarah. We're all cheering you on. xo
My family has a cherished tradition called Wilkinson Family Mystery Trips. It’s been part of our family since we were kids, when the mystery trips were pretty tame and local affairs – a white water rafting trip or a night at the horse races. When we grew up, these became actual trips that involved plane tickets and packing a suitcase when the destination and itinerary were unknown. For those, my dad would send tickets with instructions that we shouldn’t open them until after arriving at the airport (he also included a weather report to guide our packing). In one particularly memorable trip, Mike and I cabbed to the airport at some ungodly hour and our cab driver was absolutely incredulous that we didn’t know where we were going. So he insisted we let him open the tickets. We got all the way to Montana before we learned that’s where Kalispell is, since Montana wasn’t listed on the ticket.
For my Dad’s 75th birthday, my sisters and mom and I decided a Mystery Trip was in order. But really, a card like this could be used to gussy up any occasion and deliver happy news.