Friday, June 29, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The prompt for today was to write a 450 word piece using the word sand as inspiration.  I have my rough draft nearly done and I’ll do my editing and then post the finished story in the next couple of days.  In the meantime, please enjoy this movie trailer for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  I saw it yesterday, and I can’t recommend it enough. I can say without hesitation that it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Happy Friday, all of you dear readers of mine! Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

History Detective


I love vintage sewing machines. When I sew with one, it’s yet another way that the past and the present can overlap, and allow me to feel connected to those who came before me. I don’t know why I have such a need for this. But I do.

I have several vintage machines, but I did not think that any of them were made before World War II. For me, the ultimate sewing experience would be to sew on a machine that had been through the war years, helping its previous owner make it through those difficult times.

My smallest machine, a 1946 Singer Featherweight, was always a puzzle to me, though. Despite the fact that the serial number clearly dates the machine to 1946, the machine’s balance wheel-the part that you can turn with your right hand to raise and lower the needle-is made of chrome. Chrome balance wheels were only manufactured prior to WWII, and once the war broke out chrome was needed for the war effort. In fact, Singer sewing machine factories were converted over to war production, turning out essential goods such as Norden bomb sights, and parts for the M1 Garand rifle. After WWII, I’m fairly certain balance wheels were made of aluminum, like the rest of the machine, and painted black.


Gladys, my Featherweight.  Isn’t she cute!



An example of a Featherweight with a black balance wheel.

I always figured my machine was a possibly a collection of parts-some old and some new, and that was the explanation for the chrome balance wheel. And then, not long ago, I was researching another vintage purchase and I stumbled upon the answer. And I was thrilled. It’s quite likely that my Featherweight was made right before WWII, but shelved when the Singer factories temporarily halted the manufacture of sewing machines. Once the war ended, those machines, like mine, were taken out of storage and given post war serial numbers.

I’ll never know the truth about my Featherweight.  But that’s ok.  I like a good story.  And pre WWII or not, I still get a kick out of sewing with such a great piece of history.

Monday, June 25, 2012



Just a few days ago, I happened upon the following thoughts on creativity by Ira Glass.   No matter what a person’s particular creative calling is, I think there is truth in what Glass says.  I for one have a bin full of some of the first bags I made, when execution and vision did not match up.

I thought of the quote again yesterday when I decided to take a new profile picture of myself-by myself.  I hate having my picture taken. And trying to do it myself proved to be more difficult than I thought.  Let’s just say I blew through a set of rechargeable batteries, and over 200 photos trying to get a couple of decent shots.

And if anyone ever tells you that a mannequin cannot look smug, it’s a lie.


What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.


But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.


It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On a Rainy Sunday

Sun Dial

I’ve always loved this sun dial.  It belonged to my husband’s grandfather. 

Sage advice.   Both in the garden-and out.

Happy Sunday, dear readers.  Here’s wishing you only sunny hours.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Serenade in Blue


I snapped this photo of Dolores in one of her contemplative moods.  I wonder what she was thinking about?  I got her a new outfit last week, a vintage two piece sailor inspired sweater set in the most beautiful royal blue that perfectly matches her anchor heels. The interesting thing about royal blue is that it seems to compliment my barkcloth bags so well, no matter what color they are.   The USN sea bag is a new addition as well.  Dolores came with her own plastic pillar to sit on.  I had the idea to buy a sea bag and put the pillar inside, so it would look like Dolores is waiting to meet her sailor, and using his duffle bag as a seat.


Yesterday I took a bit of my luscious purple barkcloth, and by marking lines on the fabric and cutting as I went along, I came up with this little messenger bag. I wasn’t sure what the bag would look like until it was done, and it ended up being a fold over style, with lots of room in the main compartment, and an extra pocket too.  I used some army surplus webbing for the strap, and a big green vintage button to finish the bag off.


A magnetic snap keeps the two sides together.


Now Dolores can wait for that sailor of hers in style.  I haven’t had the heart to tell her that he is on backorder at the mannequin factory.

For the finishing touch to this post, here’s a little Frank Sinatra.  I hope Dolores likes it.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 18, 2012

What’s in a Name


I used to be quite unhappy with my name-back when I was 7 or 8 or so.  I really and truly wanted to change it. 

I desperately wanted to be named Phillip. 

There was another time, when I was much younger, that I would tell people my name was Dorothy.  It was after I’d seen the movie Wizard of Oz, and it was more a case of being star struck by Judy Garland than anything else.  Maybe it was her blue checkered dress, or her braids.  Or the fact that she had her own dog, and lived on a farm.  I’m not sure.

Wanting to be Phillip was a completely different story.  I wasn’t star struck by anyone with that name, but I was desperate to have the name for its meaning.  Lover of horses.  And that I was.  So much so that I wanted to marry one when I was grown up.  Yes, I hadn't discovered boys yet.

I love the meaning behind Amy’s name.  Beloved.  Long before she came into the picture, I used to think about all of the people in the world who were dear to me, and I would think of them collectively as my “Beloveds.” And when considering baby names, years ago (almost 17 years, now) there was a lot of discussion over boy names, but not so for girl names.  I’d always thought Amy to be such a pretty name, and when I discovered it’s meaning I was thrilled.  Because my daughter truly is that.

My own name means strong.  It’s doesn't seem so undesirable now.  I still like horses, but I’m not crazy about them any more.  I’ve moved on to other interests.  And if I ever take that weight lifting class, I’ll be set.

So tell me, what does your name mean?  Does it fit who you are?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When Summer Comes


I’ve always loved this bag style.  It’s simple, and unpretentious, and equally at home whether you are browsing for dusty gold at a flea market, or refortifying yourself with tea and cakes at a quaint little cafe.  When I first started making my bags more than four years ago, this was one of my favorite designs to sew.  Though my business has evolved over the last few years, I still love this bag-especially when summer comes. 

broken anchor

Last weekend, as I was taking some pictures, disaster struck-and my little vintage red anchor that I use as a photo prop fell to the floor and broke in half!  What would summer be without my little red anchor!


With lower temperatures, and lots of rain, summer here has been off to a slow start.  My Blaze rose couldn't be happier, and has more blooms this year than ever before.  I’ve written about my Blaze before, and how it reminds me of my grandmothers, and aunts and my mom.  In the memories from my childhood, I imagine I can see the Blaze roses that grew happily in the gardens of  these wonderful ladies, and I am happy to carry on the tradition with my own Blaze-which was actually given to me by my mom! 

anchor and fortune

Yesterday, I bought some super glue at the local hardware store-a business that has been a downtown fixture  for around 100 years. With Amy’s help, my little red anchor is whole again!

And last week, Amy and I split a fortune cookie.  Our message? 

Decide what you want and go for it.

Very fitting.  Amy has dreams of becoming an archeologist some day.  And as for myself, I just want to keep on making bags.  All year round.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I guess it’s about time I introduced Dolores, the new Snapshot Sailors model.  Perhaps new is not the right word. I’ve actually been using Dolores for a couple of months now, though I guess I’ve been enjoying perpetuating the myth that those were still my legs in my bag photos.

Dolores has fantastic legs. I love her feet, because they fit into the blue anchor high heels, and I love her ankles and knees, because they can tolerate those heels for hours and hours and not ache one bit.  My ankles and knees are not so tough.  They’ve had a hard life. (Including an encounter with a pickup truck a few years ago.)   They deserve a break.  Well, no, a break isn’t what they deserve-they deserve a rest.

I had reservations about using a mannequin as a model.  Mannequins just don’t have the same quality that a real live person has, but Dolores is the most workable solution for me right now.  I was overjoyed when I found her.  She was in a seated pose, which was essential, and she was also the featured mannequin of the month, and so she was on sale!  When I was choosing her hair, I toyed with the idea of getting the Amy Winehouse wig.  For better or worse, Amy Winehouse was a gifted musician, and I admired her sense of style too.  But can a mannequin get a tattoo?  Probably not.

I’m looking forward to working with Dolores. 

But every now and then, when I think she isn’t looking, I’ll put on those blue shoes.  Just like old times.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Call of the Wild-An Impromptu Friday Post, Shoes Optional

green shoes It’s been cloudy and cold all week, here in my neck of the woods, yet when I looked outside this morning, the sun was out!  I just had to go outside and soak up some vitamin D before it was lost in the impending rain that the dark distant clouds foreshadow will come later today.


One of my favorite neighbors was also out, and I was lucky to get a picture of him.  California Quail are some of the most striking and beautiful birds that I know of, and this good fellow was keeping watch while his unseen mate took the children for a stroll.  Quail are interesting birds in that they can fly, but they much prefer to scurry quickly away when they are in a hurry to go somewhere.

Here is the mother with three of her chicks. I didn’t get an accurate count, but I’m guessing there were at least a dozen babies! 



My pair of plastic pink flamingoes seemed to be enjoying the sun too.  See those dark pink flowers in the middle of the lighter flowers?


They are actually part of the same plant-and the flowers are mostly light pink, but every year there are always four dark pink blossoms.  Very curious!


Behind this pink lupine, which showed up on its own in my garden, there is a chicken hiding.  A ceramic chicken at that-and the only kind of chicken I get to keep for now.  But perhaps, some day…

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Seven Day Forecast


Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child must work for a living,
But the child that's born on the Sabbath day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.

I’ve known about this little poem since I was a child, but what I didn’t know was that since the late 1500’s, the day of the week that a person is born on has been used as a way to tell that person’s fortune.

I was born on a Tuesday.  Let’s see if my fortune is true. 

Social grace?  I think I’m pretty well behaved around other people. 

Spiritual grace?    (See that halo over my head?) 

Physical grace?  At times-not so much. I’m usually the one who trips over the uneven places on sidewalks, or spills large quantities of liquid, or breaks something of value.

I guess two out of three isn’t so bad.

How about you?  On which day of the week were you born, and is your fortune true?

Monday, June 4, 2012



Sometimes I really wonder about myself.  And my sense of style, whether I have good taste or not.  The sensibilities I posses often seem to be more appropriate for say, a six year old, than the grown up I thought I saw the last time I looked in the mirror.

I spied a coconut monkey bank at the thrift store Friday, and, defying any rational explanation, the attraction was instantaneous.  I bet they sell these monkey banks in Hawaii, and I could have gotten one there.  Still. This little guy was only .99 cents and I didn’t have to worry about packing him in my carry-on bag.  (Can a coconut monkey bank be used as a weapon?  These days, you just never know.)

I showed my prize to my daughter Amy.  What’s that thing sticking out of his neck?  She was puzzled. And frankly, so was I.  I ventured several guesses.  The tassel to the monkey’s hat, perhaps?   An earring-missing its mate?  (Do monkeys wear earrings?  And for that matter, do monkeys wear hats and little round glasses?) 

The truth is, I didn’t know.  My rule of thumb is that when the price tag on something you love is a penny shy of a buck, you don’t ask a lot of questions.

monkey 1

As I often do when I find a treasure like this, I go to the internet for more information.  And so I decided to search online for some coconut monkey bank enlightenment.  I learned that the mysterious object in question is a pipe.  And despite the surgeon general’s warning that smoking is a bad habit that might harm my coconut monkey, I am ecstatic.  That pipe dates this fellow to the 60’s, and that means my coconut monkey bank is now, instead of merely a second-hand tacky tourist souvenir, a cool iconic piece of vintage Hawaiian kitsch.

monkey 2 

For ninety-nine cents! 

Happy Monday, and here’s wishing all of you a lucky week!

Saturday, June 2, 2012



I found this iris blossom laying in the grass.  I rounded up the usual suspects, but they looked more adorable than guilty.  It’s a fact of life that when dogs and gardens share the same space, there will be casualties.

This blossom was so huge, and so impeccably designed in color and form that I was stirred to take picture of it before it wilted.

Isn’t nature grand?

Happy weekend, dear readers!