Tuesday, March 30, 2010


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It’s hard for me to believe that just last week I was in Hawaii. I knew before I went it was inevitable that “We are going to Hawaii” would become “We went to Hawaii.” As I sit writing this post (and drinking a good strong cup of 100% Kona coffee) I’ll try to relive the week again.

What I love about going to Hawaii, is that just being there-in this place so different from where I live-is enough in itself. You don’t have to try hard at all to see some of the most stunningly beautiful scenery on earth-the mountains, the ocean, the tropical flowers…

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We found a little beach cottage in Kailua, a town not too far from Honolulu. It was cute, stocked with everything we could possible need for the week, and just steps from the beach. I was impressed, because even though the cottage is just a beach rental-it was furnished with beautiful antique furniture, nice art work, and vintage china . I was thrilled to see that the living room furniture was upholstered in gorgeous palm tree barkcloth too! (And that I was able to get 7 yards of it myself for a song!)

The cottage was situated in a lush garden setting, full of many kinds of birds that sang for us all day.

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Each day we found a different part of the Island to explore. Here are just a few of the places we saw:

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Diamond Head

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La’ie Point-where we saw a natural arch created by an April Fool’s Day tsunami in 1946.

The ocean literally punched a hole in the rock!

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Halona Beach-the famous love scene in ''From Here to Eternity" took place on this section.

(We wondered how the actors got down there to do the filming?)

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The Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki.

Built in 1927, it was one of only two hotels on Waikiki at the time. I’d love to stay here but it’s way (and I mean way) out of our price range!

It is famous for it’s lovely pink color, and is in the shape of an H when seen from above.

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The beautiful Haiku gardens in Kane’ohe-a lush tropical paradise and also the location of Hale’iwa Joe’s where I had some excellent coconut shrimp.

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Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau. This shows the remnants of an ancient Hawaiian temple-the place

of many human sacrifices.

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Taken in Chinatown, this bar is called Amy’s Place! Luckily my Amy still prefers a nice cold glass of milk!

Several years ago, we had our first apple bananas in Chinatown-they are really good, and Chinatown in general is an extremely interesting place to walk around.

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The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, founded in 1949. In ancient times Hawaiian royalty was buried here, and it was also a place of human sacrifice. In fact, the Hawaiian name Pu’u-o-waina means “hill of human sacrifice.”

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My Uncle Pete (site Q-99) My Dad was last here in 1969.

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Sailor Jerry (site T-124)

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Dole pineapple plantation. My Mom recalled how years ago there was a fountain that was filled with pineapple juice, and a person could fill a cup and have a drink.

Times have changed, but how that would have been fun to see.

It was interesting to see a pineapple growing though, and the grounds have a nice collection of tropical plants, and a koi pond where the koi come up out of the water when food is tossed to them.

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Good ‘ole Hilo Hattie’s-where you can get beautiful Aloha clothing and souvenirs. Hilo Hattie was a performer years ago and founded the Hilo Hattie stores in the 60’s to promote Hawaiian goodwill and the spirit of Aloha. I love her. She appears in some of my favorite movies and was a talented singer and actress.

We saw much more than the few things I’ve highlighted here, but this post was harder to write than I thought it would be. It’s hard to put experiences into words that really capture my impressions, and what I have written barely does justice. My advice-go to Hawaii if you can and discover it for yourself. I can guarantee you will never be the same!

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Willow would like the last word:

“My Parents went to Hawaii and all I got were some shell necklaces!”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Match Made in Heaven!

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This past week I got all three of these supplies in the mail-from three different sources. The pretty green floral barkcloth is from the 1950’s. The red, white and green plaid is a reproduction but looks straight out of the 1930’s. (I really love 30’s and 40’s style plaids!) The vintage buttons have glittery confetti inside and are the prettiest color of mint green.

I instantly knew they had to be combined into one bag because they are perfect together. I usually have to work harder than this when designing a bag, but not this time. I can say that it’s kismet, serendipity or fate…but given that today is St. Patrick’s day, it may just be the luck of the Irish!

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Before I got my scissors out…

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I just love the finished bag!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What a Mess!

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Photo by Ian Britton

I didn’t really make any New Year’s resolutions this year, but if I had, one would have been to keep my studio neat and tidy all the time. And in the tradition of New Year’s resolutions, that resolution would be broken (many times) by now. I just don’t think it’s possible…keeping my studio neat as a pin all the time, that is.

It is neat some of the time, but this is what happens. It looks so inviting, all orderly and organized, that I go in to admire my surroundings. There is a sofa bed in there for when we have extra house guests, or it gets too hot in the summer to sleep upstairs.

So I stretch out on the sofa bed and look at my barkcloth which is in easy view of where I am. I start thinking how one particular barkcloth might go well with a certain lining fabric, and the so and so buttons would look great too. Before I know it I am laying fabric out on the sofa bed, ironing board, work table, or any other clear spot, and pulling out buttons and patterns. Then I might grab my sketch book and do a quick drawing of an idea to see if I think it might work or not.

By this time I’m getting really excited about the new bag I want to make and I have to clear a spot for the cutting out process. Then there is the rummaging through the thread to find the right color, turning on the iron and all the other details I must attend to-all the while shifting piles of stuff around the room as I go so that I can work.

Once I do start sewing, bits of thread and fabric are flung everywhere as I snip and trim. And yes, there are two trash cans in the room, but never in the right place at the right time.

The solution is obvious-clean up, and put away as I go. Put about 25 trash cans around the room. Try not to start a project until every work area is ready for action. And clean up right away when I finish something.

One of my most embarrassing moments (and one that should have spurred me into making the resolution to keep my studio clean) happened one evening when a friend of mine showed up unannounced with a friend of hers. They’d heard about my bags and wanted to come see them. I was horrified! My friend is an easy going woman, but the friend she brought along was very prim and proper and I can still see her standing precariously on one leg among the mess on the floor-trying to pull off a wad of packing tape that was stuck to the bottom of her shoe (I’d sold a bag and had all of my packing stuff out too!)

I do eventually clean my room up…and once again it looks soooo inviting to be in…and well, now you know where that leads!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Celebrating A Very Happy Anniversary

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Two years ago today I opened my Etsy shop For the Love of Pete. It’s hard to believe that it has indeed been two years, because as is so often the case, it just doesn’t seem that long ago.

If I go back to before March 3, 2008, I see who I was-a frustrated artist with a passion to create something, but what? I wanted to honor my Uncle Pete, but how? I was also looking for a way to incorporate my love of history and vintage into my every day life but coming up short, plus, I had an ever growing pile of vintage and retro barkcloth, and knew my house and family could tolerate only so many pillows!

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My Uncle Pete’s grave on Oahu.

It was during a moment of desperation (one of those “what am I going to do with my life?” moments) and in the midst of unloading the dishwasher, of all things, that the idea hit! Why then? I don’t know-maybe I have my Fiestaware dishes to thank (I’ve always found them to be very inspiring!) But two years later, I’m still at it and doing ok. I’ve told countless people my Uncle Pete’s story, and had them tell me what a great thing it is that I honor and remember him. I’ve sold my bags to wonderful people all around the world, and that in itself is something I’m amazed by and thankful for every day! I get to study the decades I love for new ideas, work with beautiful fabric every day, and best of all I’ve found my creative calling at last.

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My For the Love of Pete logo. I was inspired by the work of Sailor Jerry, a sailor and tattoo artist stationed in Honolulu in the 1930’s, and now buried in the same cemetery as my Uncle Pete.

NOW, if only the dishwasher would unload itself…I’ve got some sewing to do!