p i c t u r e d (& winner announced)





* My Tuesday workstation at The Montague Bookmill.

* My daughter & the fairy house at the base of a tree.

*Late night art session for brain clearing, stress reducing, mindfulness practice.  

*******

Congratulations to Tracy for winning the copy of Improv Sewing! Thanks to Storey Publishing for sponsoring the give-away!

She wrote: Oh my, this is just the confidence-booster I could use these days. I'd LOVE to win a copy of the book and make myself some of these gorgeous designs!



xo e 


a pocket memory


We kicked off our summer with a camping adventure with dear friends.  Sleeping in the woods is such a clear reminder to slow down.  We felt the breeze on our faces as we fell asleep. We swam in a sandy bottom lake. We skipped and biked and roasted food over the fire.  There was just enough thunder and plump rain drops to make it exciting, but not enough to ruin our fun.

I had a moment this weekend where I closed my eyes and wished that it could all feel like this forever.  It was one of those yearning to pause time moments.  You have those, right?  I must have watched the children zoom their bikes down the small hill next to our tents at least one hundred times over the course of the weekend.  Most times, they skidded to a stop, immediately searching for skid marks to prove their speediness.  They fell, they got back up, they high-fived, they zoomed.  They played hand games with songs that remind me of being little, but not too little.  They made bracelets with beads and embroidery floss and swung each other in the hammock so high it seemed as if they could sail off into the sky. For me,  summer is all about slowing down and pausing to notice the ways in which my children are growing.  Sigh.  These children of mine are growing up.  I'm really happy with all of the zooming and high flying as long as there is a nice long skid at the end.  Camping provides just that because at the end of the day, after all of their independent games and separate paths, the four of us were close and cozy sleeping together under the stars.

I call it a "pocket memory" because I'll turn to this photograph and the memories of the moment again and again throughout the year. I like to think of it wrinkled and worn in my pocket, the way I used to keep important ticket stubs or love notes -- transferring them from one pair of jeans to another just to have them close.

How are you kicking off summer? Any pocket memories? Do share!

xo e

 

Improv Sewing :: Review and Book Giveaway!

I'm excited to have the chance to share this wonderful new sewing book with you! Improv Sewing, written by Nicole Blum and Deborah Immergut  and released this past May by the amazing Storey Publishing, is a beautiful and inspiring book packed to the brim with an incredible amount of how-to information. Let's get right to it -- the focus on unfinished edges and imperfect lines speaks directly to my imperfect heart. I love how they embrace simplicity and that imperfection is seen as a beautiful stylistic choice.  This is my kind of sewing book!  It is an especially great resource for anyone who enjoys (or dreams of) transforming thrifted materials (oversized t-shirts, old sweaters, etc.) into gorgeous clothing. 

 Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

The projects throughout are beautiful and intriguing with clear instructions and friendly little tips.  Nicole happens to be a good friend of mine, and through her,  I met the lovely Deborah.  Because I know them and their creative ways, I knew this book was going to be amazing.  And, of course, it is, but what I hadn't considered is that it would leave me feeling so set-for-life when it comes to making clothing for myself.  I really, really feel that way.  Skirts, tunics, and dresses have never felt so accessible and doable.  How beautiful is that yellow dress?  And, that girl (Nicole's daughter)?

 Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

What I love most about and Nicole and Deborah's approach is the way they encourage readers to have confidence and to trust in their creative intuition. Yes,  it is no surprise that this way of thinking resonates with me.  I'm such a passionate believer in individual expression and remaining true to your creative instincts, which is why I love that the instructions are less about rules and more about doing what feels right.

 Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

I feel so happy to have this sewing resource on my bookshelf where I can look to it again and again for inspiration and guidance.


Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski 

 Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski

A wee note from Storey Publishing about Improv Sewing:

Improv Sewing is about “pursuing joy, not pursuing perfection”, Blum and Immergut explain. There are no patterns to follow, and hardly any rules. The authors embrace forgiving fabrics such as knits that invite wavy hemlines and raw edges. They encourage readers to look at solid fabric as a blank canvas. With this inspirational approach to sewing, crafters at any level of experience will be confident as they create these fast, fun, and fearless projects.

The folks at Storey Publishing have generously offered to give a copy of Improv Sewing to one lucky Red Bird Crafts reader.  Simply, leave a comment on this post from now until Tuesday (6/26),  I will choose a winner using a random number generator,  and announce the winner on Wednesday (6/27).  Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you. And, good luck!

xo e


s u m m e r


* local strawberries and cream
* lemonade stand preparation
* my Aunt Lynn's blooms
* Saturday at Aunt Lynn's pool (w/ Prosecco and lime)
* ten minutes ago in our backyard.
[Edited because I forgot to make note of each photograph]
 
Happy summer solstice! We are celebrating the entrance into summer with some backyard hose action and homemade strawberry yogurt pops.  


How will you celebrate?

xo e

news & a giveaway


This is a photograph of a mixed media piece that I've been working on for my new website . Yup! Tom (my husband and IT wiz) and I have been working on a brand new website design, which we hope to launch by mid-August.   The new site will be a hub for all of my projects, classes, and news, and will be easily accessible from my beloved Red Bird Crafts blog where I'll still be posting regularly.   Please stay tuned for more details and feel free to offer any tips or suggestions you might have. 

Oh, and I have more exciting news:  Red Bird Crafts now has a Facebook page and you can find it here.  In celebration of the new page, everyone who "likes" it from now until Friday (6/22) at noon will be entered to win a House on a Hill and Bird with Branch print set from my shop. Simply, "like" the page,  and I'll use a random number generator to choose a winner and announce it on Facebook on Monday (6/25).

Also, just a little reminder that you can follow me on Twitter (@redbirdcrafts) or on Instagram (@redbirdcrafts) where I share daily photographs.

xo e

Summer Camping :: Tips & Suggestions

 
We're counting the days until a lakeside camping trip with our dear friends. The children have been discussing how many marshmallows will be roasted, how long they will stay in the water each day, and which songs to sing around the fire. All of this camping chatter makes me happy and also excited to watch my sleepy children's rosy cheeked faces from across the campfire.  As a little summer treat for you, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite ways to make camping fun, simple, and memorable.  
Note: While camping, the lemonade syrup needs to be kept in a cooler along with the Greek pasta salad and other perishable items. 
 
For those who live in Massachusetts, visit The Department of Conservation and Recreation to plan your next camping adventure.  For others, who live in the states, this site might help you begin your search.  

xo e



mail and other super things.


Hazel, my youngest at four years old, is becoming a writer.  Her stationary is small little pieces of lined paper with white envelopes and she is mostly writing love letters and requests.  Dear Iris.  I really miss you. I hope I come back. [Iris is her dance teacher]  and Dear Mama, Please take me to the track tomorrow. left on my pillow [I've been taking her with me to the track so I can squeeze in a morning run] and Dear Papa,  You are a worker.  I love you.  Love, Hazel.  and Dear Mr. Black, We are having a lemonade party.  You should come.  Love, Hazel [letting our wonderful 85 year old neighbor across the street know about her lemonade stand].   She stuffs her little bits of writing into envelopes and hand delivers them or insists that we mail them that day.  

This makes me think about mailboxes and mail and how I miss giving and receiving in the slow, papery, tear-it-open way. Paper and ink connection is so different than the ding of a text --  more cozy and important feeling, I think. I was remembering the notes and letters I wrote when I was fifteen-ish, and how they were filled with jokes and little drawings and quizzes.  They took so long to create -- a five pager was a sure sign of devotion.   And, how my grandmother sent handwritten notes with stacks of weekly comics to my college dorm room and apartments for years and years -- because she wanted to be sure that I had something that would make me laugh.  And, how my uncle, the veterinarian who gave me our precious Sophie cat (a rescue that was left on his doorstep), has been sending me the Cornell Veterinary Cat Watch biweekly for the past thirteen years.  Go ahead -- ask me about ear mites! I'm well read on the subject.  Actually, I don't read the newsletter anymore; I just scan the top left corner where he always writes a short, hand-written message.  And, I feel close to him.  He doesn't have email and the Cat Watch is his stationary. 

I am going to follow Hazel's lead this summer. (And, my uncle's.  And, my grandmother's.  And, my fifteen year old self's.) I'm going to write more letters and draw more pictures and send them to people I love.


****

Unrelated, here are some really, really super things that made me smile this week:

* My friend Shoham has a tumbler dedicated to the lessons she is learning from her Aunt Gerry.  This is one of the best reads I've read this year. Seriously. There is some major awesomeness going on.

* My super talented cousin, Nick of Port St. Willow, has a wonderful new album that he just released  titled "Holiday."  It has a  ambient, heartbreakingly beautiful vibe and it is really, truly lovely.

* Cindy at Skip To My Lou has a 30 day Craft Camp going on, and these Leaf Print Tees caught my eye.  I love printing with leaves, and the idea of using fabric paint and printing onto tees is so clever. 

****

Happy weekend, friends.

xox e




rainy day watercoloring

My friend Catherine once sent my family a sympathy card with this type of tape resist watercolor square on it, and I remember that when I held it in my hands it made me pause and feel so thankful for such kindness.  Not only was the card sweet and lovely, but it was also so beautiful.  And, I really needed beauty at that moment in time. 

We were in need of a little punch of color and cheer the other day, so I cut up some watercolor paper squares for the kids (I used a pack of 5" x 7" squares that I save for myself), I found a roll of old masking tape, and we used some liquid gauche and set of really nice caked watercolors.  
Just tape.  And, paint. Let dry.  And, peel.  
Be sure to smooth out any air bubbles in the tape or else paint will seep in.
We've used this technique before, and the children are always surprised to see what the end result looks like.  There are usually gasps and sighs.  And, actually, this activity is so, so nice to do with a group of children because of how they connect with each other as they watch the unmasking of the tape. It is an opportunity for children to be inspired by each other's ideas.   
I love that it is a satisfying way to play with color and pattern.  Sometimes, when I am working out some confusion surrounding color choices in my art, I'll make one of these to help think it through.  And, then I get fancy wall art as a little bonus.

Do send photographs if you end up making some.  I'd love to see!

xo e

p i c t u r e d



* H and I zipped over to Northampton for some art supplies and to wander through the Tuesday Market.  It was a feast for the eyes, I tell you! Earthy, bright colors stretched far down the path.  H feasted on a chocolate chip cookie from one of our favorite coffee shops while I chatted and gazed.

* H and I walk to pick up her sister from school with banana in hand.

* A carefully spun web which must have taken all night to perfect.  We searched for the resting spider, but decided that she might be too sleepy to say "hello." 
* Edited : Word on the street is that this web might not be the making of a spider.  Thoughts?  Tips?


****
Some notes 

1. Yesterday was the last day of my creativity classes for the year.  Sigh. I already miss my amazing, talented, clever students.  

2.I've got a big behind the scenes project in the works that should be ready to be revealed by the end of June. 
* Note:  Pretend I didn't say that I have a big behind. 
3. Camping reservations with dear friends have been made. 

4. Library extraordinaire and dear friend Stephanie found a publicity version of my book at the Book Expo in NYC and took a photograph for me.  Eeeep!  Exciting!


And, now I must go make lunch, which might be cereal and milk.  But, that's pretty good for a Friday, yes?


Happy weekend to you!


xo e

l u c k y


Now that my little one's pre-school has ended for the year, we've been spending lots of sunny mornings playing at the park.  This little friend hopped onto a brown paper bag last week, and once she was noticed, we found ourselves amazed at our luck to have met such a beautiful creature.   My daughter pointed out to me that its wings look like maple seeds and its legs like small twigs -- "for protection from hungry birds!" she exclaimed (because we had just seen and learned about the walking stick insect days prior).  This kind of eyes-to-the-ground, organic learning is so satisfying and it is a reminder to be mindful and present.   And, plus, I was so proud of our new little friend for choosing a nice coordinating background to strike such a distinguished pose.

Speaking of lucky, I randomly chose the four winners of Volume 6 of Alphabet Glue -- your names are listed below the original post. A big, giant thanks to Annie for her generosity! Winners should please contact me by email for further details.

This 4th day of June is cold and wet in Massachusetts, so we're off to jump in some puddles, go to the market,  and then maybe do a little bit of thrifting/treasure finding.  What plans await you?



xo e