Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm moving!

Just to a different blog. You can now find me and all my posts here at


Same name, same content, new platform. I think wordpress will give me a few more options, so thanks for following The Penny Farthing to its new home!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Terrarium Just Happened

A long time ago I got a lovely apothecary jar, and it's been sitting empty for the longest time, waiting to be useful and pretty. So when I stumbled into Artemesia, on 28th and Burnside awhile ago, it was a perfect fit.
An amazing terrarium example in the store.
 This shop is inspiring, full of lovely found objects, terrariums, conch shells, jawbones, hanging glass bowls, mossballs, and air plants. Materials are laid out on tables around the store with sweet wooden labels. Bring in your own container or buy one there, wander around and pick your favorite materials, and Amy, the store owner, will help you build your very own terrarium!

This is mine--a little miniature beach scene. I used red sand underneath the white, for a little sand art effect. Two succulents look pretty happy in there, with a piece of red moss resting beside them for a pop of color. The shells are all ones we've gathered from the Oregon Coast or our recent trip to Mexico. The great thing about these is that if I get tired of the shells, I can change them! As long as the plants are safe and cozy.

I'm quite inspired. I love how you can make these as big or small as you want to, in any container you can find. I have some red sand left over, so let the hunt for the next terrarium begin!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Shiny New Bike, Courtesy of Jesse

A long time ago Jesse bought a frame off craigslist, got it powder-coated a pretty apple green, and promised he'd build me a new bike.
It took awhile. He was busy.
But now it's done! And she's beautiful!! The frame has a drop bar so I can ride in skirts easier, but it's still sturdy and fast enough to get me to work on-time every morning. The saddle is supposedly going to get very soft and comfortable as it molds to my behind, but it's a little hard right now. Hammered fenders (the front one isn't installed yet) make it so classy, along with the Brooks leather saddle and pretty cork grips. I'm in love! I've already gotten compliments on it--all credit goes to Jesse.
One problem was the thumb shifter, which liked to drift back down to the harder gears, without my knowing it. I would be pedaling along and suddenly the chain would snap into another gear, and the whole bike would shudder. Jesse heroically got me a new shifter and installed that this week, and my inaugural ride to work was without mishap.
I like to get into the habit of thinking of a bike as the default mode of transportation. Work, grocery store, out to dinner, the park...all can be easily reached by bike. Lately I've been bad at that. I haven't had a bike for a few months, and both were in pieces, and then I've been annoyed with the shifter, so I've taken to driving or busing to work more often. But really--I live in Portland, one of the easiest cities in the US to bike in, so I really should be biking more. And it's summer--no rain to contend with! I've really got to get back out there. So now that the shifter is all better, we're off to explore!

Now I just need a name for her! Any ideas?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Finishing Up

Everything I made this summer was gearing up for our Cabo trip. Now that it's over, I'm not sure what to make anymore! I have two dress patterns for fall--but I'm not willing to admit that summer will be over anytime soon, so those are out. So, while I figure out what I'm making next, here are two easy things I just finished up this week:
Summer Swooshy Apron
I started this months ago, but it kept getting pushed back--it's finally done! I love how full the apron is.  I actually should have just extended the fabric some and made it a cute skirt, because from the front that's what it looks like. From the back, there's a nice open "framed" view... Maybe a skirt will be next time, in another fabric.
Why do my feet look ridiculously small in this picture? I don't know.
This color reminds me of watermelon, and summer, and hot days. I think a mojito would look fabulous in front of that color. It would also taste fabulous.
Braided Collar Tank 
I almost got this finished in time for Mexico, but then I got lazy, and didn't. But now it's done! The fabric came from a sack-type dress I've had for years, that I was a bit tired of. It was the kind where it just hangs on you, but with a belt it looks cute. I was tired of that style, and this braided tank pattern looked cute, so I went for it. In retrospect, I should have lined up the stripes better. Stripes will be the end of my sewing career, I'm sure of it. But for a casual hot-weekend tank, it works.
Next up, I'm mulling over what to do with some gorgeous Batik pillowcases my co-worker gave me. Maybe a skirt? Is there enough fabric? Hmm.... Also, I'm still miserable about my cutting mistakes, and I don't know what to do. Now I realize I may have completely neglected to cut a section. Great. No more cutting out patterns while watching movies.

Things to ponder... for now, I will drink a pomegranate margarita and enjoy the sun.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Tug of Travel, the Attraction of Roots

I've been settling in from our vacation this week, enjoying the familiar comforts of home and reminsicing with photos. Mexico is so far away from Portland, in a lot of ways--our bottles of tequila look a little lonely sitting on the shelf here!
I always crave novelty--new sights, new things to eat, a place I've never been. But at the same time, there's nothing like coming home after a long vacation, grabbing your favorite mug, and curling up under your favorite blanket. It seems like a well-lived life is one that balances these, to the degree that is best for each individual.
And yet... I just want to travel. Yesterday I read The Lost Girls, a blog about three women who quit their jobs to travel for a year, and Nomadic Matt, who travels for a living. I was immediately struck with envy. It's such an adventure to see new things!
Jesse and I are tentatively planning a trip to Europe next year, and it's been consuming my thoughts this week. It's all I can think about--where should we go, how long, what should our route be, should we bring bikes, and how much will that cost anyway... I've been a bit distracted at work. The thought of getting up and going somewhere is just too arresting!
Getting up and Going in Sorrento, Italy, 2005
On the flip side, I like the idea of putting roots down and getting to know a place. Living in community. Recognizing the local barista or mailman. Being able to really call a place a home, and knowing what the local food is, and what the seasons are like. Having a history somewhere. Belonging.
Life in general is a struggle between global vs. local, it seems. It's impressive to know the details of the Kyrgyzstan struggle going on, but isn't it just as impressive and important to know the details of the school's struggles down the street? It's nice to appreciate the beauty of Italy or Australia, but Oregon is just as pretty!
Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, Oregon, 2010
It's time for me to tuck my travel plans into a little drawer somewhere, keep them safe and warm for later, while I focus on living in Portland. There are too many festivals to enjoy, concerts to attend, waterfalls to see, camping spots to find, berries to pick, rivers to float, and restaurants to try. With over two years in Portland under my belt I feel like I can finally call myself a "local," but there's still so much more to do. And summer is the best time to do it!
So I've decided I will stop pining for somewhere else and start living here. The sun is shining, friends are around, and we're having taquitos and margaritas tonight. ¡Ole´!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We're Back, and We're Suntanned!

We arrived home safely from our Cabo San Lucas play-cation last night. The only thing I wanted to do was watch a movie. Too much nature and conversation occurred this week, apparently.

The resort where we stayed, with a cruise ship in the distance.

The trip was a whirlwind of good times and relaxation. I don't know how we could be so exhausted from sitting by a pool and reading all day, but we were. Relaxing is hard work. Plus, when you've got 31 family members present to catch-up with, it's a lot of conversation. We celebrating my Grandma's 80th birthday with Mexican style, though, complete with a shot of tequila (which Jesse graciously drank when the waiters offered it to her.) Now my grandparents think my husband is an alcoholic. Wonderful.

It was an epic vacation. We got beat-up by killer waves, we went scooter-ing about town, we ate plenty of Mexican food, I got a little (okay, a lot) sun burned, and we took complete advantage of the poolside fun. We vacationed with gusto, to put it another way.

We scootered around town for an afternoon, turning "scooter" into a very fun verb.

A few things I learned:

1) Jesse is easily mistaken for being able to speak Spanish, especially after a few days in the sun. I'm pretty sure no one would have approached me in Spanish had I not been with him. (Side note: Jesse is not anything, really. He's a true American Mutt.)

Me and my non-Mexican man.

2) I'm ready to continue popping the birth control. There were a lot of kids on the trip, and many more on our plane rides home, and I'm pretty sure I'm not mature enough to keep from strangling any small screaming child. So to avoid jail, we'll just play it safe for awhile longer. Cuteness is best preserved from a distance. (No offense meant to Myles, Naomi, and Lilah. The screaming kids on the plane are another matter.)
Naomi and Myles: yup, they're pretty cute.

3) I can do tequila, in small doses, and in mixed drinks. Also, Mexican beer is actually quite delicious when taken with sunshine, a beach, and crashing waves. There's a reason I don't drink Corona in Portland.

4) Family is nice to be around. I have a big family, some of whom I haven't seen in years. It's nice to catch up. And to show off Jesse. It's even better to get to do it while sipping margaritas and dipping in pools. Yup, family is pretty good.

Me, my dad, and my sister.

Oh, and an update on my wardrobe. I spent so much time making clothes for the trip, only to realize that actually, I only made about three things, and my cuter clothes are ones I bought. I spent every day explaining that no, I hadn't made this shirt. No, not this one, either. Nope, just that one dress, really. 

But yes, I did wear Cabo San Sundress in Cabo San Lucas, and it was beautiful. Pockets!

And now, welcome back to Portland. At least it's still a heat-wave here, too. Except for the green trees, it's like we never left Mexico!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oh, Baby, I Was Bound for Mexico...

We are jetting out of Portland for a weeklong vacation in Cabo San Lucas!

In another day, this will be us:

Only throw in a couple dozen family members, of course. And maybe a piƱa colada! I've spent the last few months making clothes with the idea to wear them on this trip, and now that it's here I have too many!!
But I'm bringing Cabo San Sundress, of course, my boat race dress, and my green tunic dress (for maximum airport comfort.) I had a goal to make seersucker shorts--that didn't happen. They got cut out, but nothing else. Oh, well!

I'm so ready for a week full of beaches, sun, and maybe a shot of tequila. Hey, it's Mexico!

The Penny Farthing

a little ridiculous, old-school, and oh so stylish