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!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Breakfast is yummy with goat cheese

I tried my hand at making goat cheese again last week, and it was a great success! The first time I made it, the cheese was runny and mushy--tasty, but not what I was going for. This time it was firm but spreadable, and oh so tasty! i neglected to take pictures of the process, but here's something we put it on to devour: 

I made this fried egg sandwich for breakfast last Sunday, and it was delicious!! Ciabatta bread, fresh tomato, fried egg, slivers of cheddar, and then fresh-from-the-herb-garden basil. And of course the goat cheese.
Photo credits go to the lovely Pamela Torres, who claimed that there was no sandwich better in Portland. Little does she know! Portland breakfasts can blow your socks off!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Boat Race Dress--Another Copy!

Portland has turned into a furnace. After that wet, rainy, miserable spring and supposed-summer, it's finally summer in all it's glory here.
Of course, now it's TOO hot, so we're still complaining. But I like a good heat wave now and then, so as long as I have lemonade, salads, and very little clothing, I'm good.

I haven't made anything new in a little bit, but I did finish this dress awhile ago. Yes, it's another Modcloth copy. I'm on a roll!

This one I'm actually really proud of, because I merged two patterns into one, making up a lot of details along the way to copy the original. Here's my inspiration:

I think I like my colors better! My fabric is a little bit heavier, though, so it's not quite the breezy summer heat dress that it could be. But I still love it. Back view:

Do you see that smocking? Yup, I did that. Totally made it up, too, from a random online tutorial. It helps pull the back together, and gives it a bit more stretch when I'm pulling it over my head.

It's called the Boat Race Dress on Modcloth, and I almost finished it in time to wear it to our Dragon Boat Races...but not quite. Foiled!

But I can wear it now, and imagine keeping cool while sipping one of these. Happy Summer!

Monday, July 5, 2010

English Countryside Dress: Another Modcloth-opy

I finished this one awhile ago, but I haven't gotten around to posting it yet! This is one I saw off Modcloth and thought it would just be so easy to copy:

They call it the English Countryside Dress. Doesn't it look so cozy and easy to wear? Throw on some boots and you're good to go! I went to Bolt and found a cotton/bamboo blend in a sage green color--I like the linen look of this gray above, but I couldn't quite find anything like it.

I used the Anda pattern from Burda Style, and changed it a little bit. The neckline turned out a little bit wider than I thought, but it works. And the doilies were from Etsy.

Super comfy--I feel like I can just pull it on and go! I thought the hat added to the whole outfit, too.

I think this might be a new favorite of mine!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Danger of A Single Story

I watched this video awhile ago of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and recently thought of it again when I was in the bookstore. She is a Nigerian author whose novel Half of a Yellow Sun has been on many prize lists. I'm in the middle of it right now, and I love it.

I love her points in this talk, and how she warns against having a single story of the world.
This got me thinking where my stories are coming from. I have to admit, the majority of books I've been reading lately have been some combination of white, male, and American. They've all been great books, and I'm happy I read them. But just like Adichie, I need to broaden myself. In her case, it was so she could read stories of people who were actually like her. In my case, I have a lot of those stories already. Perhaps I need some of people who are different. Different, yet similar--isn't that what we love about really good fiction?
Below is a list of books by international women authors. ("But women are the same as you," you might say. True, but in the global scheme of things, women's voices are not easily heard, so they are "different" in the sense that the global world is still pretty male-dominated.) 

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I'm reading this one right now, as I mentioned, and I love it. I've learned more about Nigeria than I ever knew! Set in the 60s in Nigeria, the book follows a few characters before, during, and after the Nigeria-Biafran War.

Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina Garcia
A long-reaching vision of the Cuban Revolution through the eyes of the family of Celia del Pino, living anywhere from Cuba to a bakery in Brooklyn.

Anything by Isabel Allende. I really love her. I've read only a few books, but each one was wholly different and amazing, and I'm convinced that they will continue to be that way.

The Seamstress, by Frances de Pontes Peebles
The story of two Brazilian sisters, expert seamstresses--Emilia finds herself married to a wealthy, powerful politician, while the quiet Luiza is abducted by band of criminals. Political feuds, revolution, and power spin the sisters lives around.

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
This is one of those books that I always see and think "Huh, that looks good," then I walk past. But it really does look good! And, it connects to this list quite well. This true memoir tells the account of a group of women in Tehran who make their own list of  "different" authors--in their case, Western classics like Lolita, The Great Gatsby, and Pride and Prejudice. What does that look like at a university in the early days of the Iranian revolution?

Time of the Doves, Merce Rodoreda
And older, smaller book by an author who lived through the Spanish Civil War, the story is about a young shop-tender in Catalan Spain who struggles to confront her country's tumultuous times.

Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord.
 A book about a Senegalese fairy tale, set in a made-up village, by an author from Barbados who has studied in Canada and Wales. I don't know how to categorize it! Read Lord's thoughts about that topic here, and just try to tell me she doesn't sound fascinating.

The Book of Salt, Monique Truong. Set in Vietnam and Paris, France in the 1930s, it's the story of a young gay  Vietnamese man who ends up cooking for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. I am so intrigued!

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. Set in Southern India in 1969, it's a family saga, love story, and political drama involving forbidden love.

I don't want to use this list as a must-read one that I have to stick to, but rather a jumping off point. Titles to remember the next time I'm wondering what book to read. I might not get through them all, but even 2 or 3 would introduce some completely new stories and settings to me!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Date Night Smorgasbord

Our housemates are gone for the weekend, so Jesse and I enjoyed a little date night in a home to ourselves. He went to the farmer's market and made me dinner, which was devoured without taking any pictures. Grilled asparagus, fresh beets, and a tomato salad were enjoyed tremendously.

After that settled, we moved on to dessert!

Don't mind the incredibly messy coffee table. What you see are two of our choice cheeses from Cheese Bar (both delicious), and three macaroons (pistachio, lemon mango, and cinnamon) and two truffles (Bleu Cheese and Chipotle Pepper), all from Pix Patisserie down the road. Yes, the bleu cheese truffle was quite good.

What you don't see is a chocolate brioche, a bit of wine, and us canoodling in enjoyment. Ah, I love food.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I am in Love with Cheese

And my fix can now be satisfied at our local Cheese Bar! Oh joy! Jubilation! Excitement! This is my new favorite spot for a date, located on SE 60th and Belmont.
Jesse and I wandered over there last night--it's walkable from our house, but I think biking would be a bit better, just to get to the cheese faster.

They have a chalkboard with a rotating menu of sandwiches, salads, and a soup, and then you can also order a cheese or meat plate, olives, baguette, beer, and wine. Jesse and I went for Sandwiches #1 and #2. #1 had fontina cheese, prosciutto, greens, and tomato-balsamic dressing. #2 had sheep's cheese and arugula, both served on a demi-baguette. They were both delicious, though more of a tapas feel than a whole meal.
 And then of course we got a cheese plate. It was three European cheeses, which our waiter thoroughly explained, served with baguette slices and plum chutney. My favorite was the goat's cheese Brie-type one, of which the name has completely left me despite all the goodness.
It was all amazing. The staff was so helpful and friendly, giving us samples of beer and cheese to try, helping us find exactly what we wanted. We went home with 2 little wrapped bundles of deliciousness--one a sheep's milk from Italy that fit Jesse's wish of "something pungent," and another a creamy goat's milk that will balance the pungent one perfectly! They are safely wrapped in paper, chilling out in our fridge until a later time.
The knowledge that they are sitting there is delicious and naughty, like knowing you're going on a fancy date later. And I will be! These cheeses deserve to be dressed up for! Have a table set for them, with fancy goblets of wine and crusty breads on rarely-used special dishes.  Well, hello, Mr. Cheese. Welcome to my plate.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Redemption of a Shirt

Awhile ago I made this shirt, my Art Nouveau Sencha, that I wasn't too happy with. I loved loved loved the fabric, but the fit was just so frustrating that by the time I finished I just hung the shirt in my closet and moved on to the next project.

Today I came across it, and thought I'd give it one more chance. Sometimes I anthropomorphize things a bit too much, maybe? I didn't want the shirt to feel bad about itself! So I tried it again. And you know what? I got so many compliments on it at work! My co-worker assured me it looked great, and doesn't even make my chest look flatter.

And then--here's the real redemption--the waitress at the Indian restaurant at lunch told me she loved it. Not even liked--loved. Those are the best compliments, when complete strangers feel moved enough to speak up. My co-workers may have felt some obligation to say they liked it, in the hopes of continued workplace peace, but a waitress doesn't really care about me after I walk away. Hooray for random compliments!

The shirt is redeemed!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cabo San Sundress

I've been finishing up my projects left and right, so prepare for an influx! I just need some photos now.
First in the Summer Dress Series is what I like to call Cabo San Sundress. I also like to sing those words to myself, to the tune of Viva Las Vegas. Whenever I wear this dress, I will probably have that stuck in my head. Just to warn anyone around me.
This pattern is one I got forever ago--before Christmas, even, and just never touched. I even have pretty purple chiffon fabric for it that is still waiting to be cut. (Why is it waiting? Probably because I'm scared of sewing chiffon.)
But when I was at Bolt for their big Spring Sale, I had my upcoming vacation to Cabo San Lucas in mind, and this fabric caught my eye. It's perfect for a Mexican fiesta-trip! What's happier than a brightly colored Day of the Dead sundress? And so apropos, too. I matched the fabric to some yellow accenting cotton with this pattern in mind, and proceeded to cut in.
I love the fullness of the skirt. And of course, pockets. I lowered the neckline a bit, which I like better, as well. But I had a bit of a hard time with the bust. As always. I did a small-bust adjustment, where I took out some of the fullness, but even with that I ended up with a lot of leftover gathers, and I needed to take it in a bit more. Or just add some kleenex...
In all, it turned out really well. I'm actually glad I tried this pattern out in a cotton first, just to see how it fits. Now I know what adjustments to make before cutting into my purple chiffon! The next one will hopefully come out a bit cleaner, but for a fun summery sundress, I'm quite happy with this one!
On a side note: some may think that brightly-colored skulls might be a bit strange to wear in a happy sundress. Though I am in no way Mexican, from what I understand the Day of the Dead holiday is a riotous, happy, parading good time that celebrates the lives of those who are no longer with us along with the lives of those who are. Because really, we could all use more celebrating.
And more sundresses.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Musings of the Day: Wrongness

I like to ease into the day at work by sipping a hot beverage and browsing online news (I like to think I make up for it in soaring productivity afterwards). Lately my browsee of choice has been the online magazine Slate.com
, where I can find articles covering everything from the oil spill, the latest How I Met Your Mother, thoughts on governmental policy, and advice columns.
They've been running a blog called the Wrong Stuff the last few weeks, which leads to my Musings of the Day: Wrongness and Mistakes.
I've had a lot of opportunity to make mistakes over the past year or so--starting a new job, figuring out how to sew, a first year of marriage...all of these are inherent with making scads of mistakes, some dumb, like when I forgot to include paper in our office supply order, some honest, like not someone's prefence to keep the conference chairs the same height.
In all the situations, though, I was wrong. A lot. And I had to admit it, as it was usually quite obvious. 
There's something huge in being able to admit you're wrong. And something so valuable in it, because that's how you get better. When I'm sewing, I'm wrong all the time. It's a wonder to me how my clothes actually stay on me, because about 80% of the time I'm working on it, I'm glazing over all these mistakes or just making it up as I go. But you know, my zippers have gotten better. I understand why you "press" interfacing and don't "iron" it. I'm better at taking my own measurements before deciding what size to make. And I don't wash my fabric right after Jesse bleaches his white shirts anymore.
All the same, the other night I was laying out pattern pieces to make a pretty new blouse with some pretty silky fabric, and about halfway through cutting, I realized the stripes were running the wrong way. Who makes a blouse with horizontal stripes? Apparently, I do. A few moments of thinking could have prevented that, but instead I just charged in. And now I am faced with either saying "Oops, I messed up," and thinking of something else to use it for, or saying "No, horizontal stripes are the new style," and spending hours matching up those dumb lines. I still haven't decided which road I'm taking.
In Slate's blog, the author interview's NPR's Ira Glass, who has this to say:
"Well, I register the danger that [something] might not work. But honestly sometimes you have to just do it. There are definitely interviews that we all go into knowing, "Ehhhhh, here's all the things that can go wrong and here's the one or two things that it can go right." And you just gotta do it.
I had this experience a couple of years ago where I got to sit in on the editorial meeting at the Onion. Every Monday they have to come up with like 17 or 18 headlines, and to do that, they generate 600 headlines per week. I feel like that's why it's good: because they are willing to be wrong 583 times to be right 17. "

Imagine saying you're wrong 583 times. In a row. Ug.

And yet, there's something thrilling about a culture where it's okay to really screw up. Creativity is actually just a willingness to be very, very wrong, and once in awhile be right. So, I admit. I messed up my blouse. It might be a wreck. But it just might work out.

I'll let you know.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Birthday Shirt for the Birthday Boy. Excuse me, Man.

I started a shirt for Jesse months and months ago, and have been so delayed in getting it done that it was his birthday by the time I finished! I planned that, of course.
I need to officially call this project a practice. This shirt has so many mistakes, flaws, and mis-sews in it that it would never fly on someone who wasn't obligated to love me. Look at him, so handsome in his giant shirt.
It seems like whenever I get confident in sewing, I come across a project that just flattens me, runs me over, and leaves me lying by the side of the road with my crooked seams and uneven sleeves. This was one of those projects.
The collar is huge. That's not my fault, since I was following the pattern. But still.
The buttons are on the wrong side. And I purposely tried to avoid that!
The cuffs face the same way, on both sleeves. Awesome. Good thing he's rolled them up here.
It's way too big, overall. I took in the sides, so that fits okay, but the shoulders sag down his arm, and the open chest/neck kind of evokes pirate to me...
Though surprisingly, I wasn't too dejected about any of it. It was my first foray into menswear, so I think I expected some road bumps. And the end product looks like a shirt (which was my aim, you know), so I'm happy enough. Now I think I know what to expect enough to be able to try again on nicer fabric, hopefully with better results. But what a pain! I'm going back to dresses for awhile. Sew a sack, put a belt around it, and you've got yourself a finished product.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Embroidery is to Gateway Drugs...

...as sewing is to addiction. Or maybe that's just me.
I was at Powells on a lunch break, which is always dangerous. Usually I can resist, but this time I just had to buy myself a brand new crafty book: A Rainbow of Stitches. Maybe it was the bright colors, the nice thick feel and weight of it, or the beautiful simple photographs, but I just couldn't resist it. And while it's only been half a day so far, I don't regret it.
I've dabbled in stitches before. I did cross-stitch in high-school and college: those big packets you buy at Hobby Lobby with all the colors included, and a giant pattern that requires endless counting. I always got hopelessly off course on the big ones, but the smaller patterns were quite statisfying. It got less interesting as I went into college, and I put the needle and thread down and ignored them for a few years in favor of a social life.
Then, about a year and a half ago, I was in Powells Home and Garden, and came across Doodle Stitching, by Aimee Ray. This was completely different from my cross-stitch packets. Lines on fabric? It's like drawing with thread! I can do that! So I grabbed my old thread, bought some felt, and proceeded to go crazy with the homemade Christmas ornaments.
Embroidery proved to be my gateway drug. I didn't do it for long until it became unsatisfying, and after trying to sew one too many things together by hand, I began realizing, "This would be a whole lot easier with a sewing machine." So I once again put down the needle and thread, borrowed a sewing machine, and pushed on into the hardcore drugs like french seams and chiffon ruffles.
But today, once again at Powells, I was reminded of my earlier addiction, of sewing badly-stitched lines onto everything I could. This book actually has patterns, though. And directions. And over 80 ideas for projects, all beautifully photographed and most of them incredibly do-able.
Check out some of these:

So, armed with this brand new inspiration, I'm off to raid my closets and boxes for fabric! Who wants their underwear embroidered with poodles? Because I could totally do that.

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