Outside in October

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As usual in October in New England, the weather is unusual.  We have warm days cozied right up next to cold ones.  One day I’m worried about the first frost coming and the next I’m wearing shorts.  It’s crazy, but I love it.  It’s getting us ready for that fall chill that’s sure to come.  One thing that doesn’t seem to change, though, is that it is beautiful here in the fall.  Here’s a little bit of what I’ve seen outside this month.

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Sunset

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Shagbark Hickory tree

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Shagbark Hickory nuts

I went foraging last week for Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) nuts.  This is a new plant for me, but I’ve been researching through many books and websites to double, triple, and quadruple check myself.  Any foragers out there?  Want to comment and let me know if you think I’m right or not?

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Mountaintop view in Pawtuckaway State Park, New Hampshire

Our family and some friends spent Columbus Day hiking in Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire.  It was lovely.  I took lots of mushroom pictures, so I could try to identify them later.  I’m not ready to forage for mushrooms, but I would like to start learning them.

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

I’m also hoping to figure out what this tree is.  Any guesses?

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

Clearly not a plant…

Did you ever see The Labyrinth with David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, and muppets by Jim Henson?  That caterpillar makes me think of the little worm in the wall that helps Sarah.  Actually, a lot of fungi make me think of Jim Henson creations from that movie, too…

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)

 

Finally, and completely unrelated…

Here’s a project I didn’t do, but get to benefit from:

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)A new haircut!  It was inspired by this picture I found on Pinterest.  Now if only I could get it to look that way when I don’t have a talented hairstylist to help me…

Here’s how it looks today:

Outside in October (Pattern and Branch)Changing weather, changing hair…it’s nice to have a change sometimes.

Fall Sewing

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Seems like there hasn’t been much in the way of sewing on the blog lately.  There’s a reason for that.  I’ve been hard at work on secret Christmas presents for my two closest college friends and just in case they happen to read the blog, I don’t want to give anything away.  These projects are “due” at the end of the month, but after they are finished, I have some other projects in mind.  Here’s what I’m thinking for fall (and winter) sewing.

  • Distinctive long-sleeved t-shirts.

I’d like some interesting t-shirts that can be used for layering or on their own, so I’ll probably turn to Alabama Studio Sewing + Design for my pattern.

Fall Sewing with Pattern and Branch

Fall Sewing with Pattern and Branch

I have some beading from a deconstructed jacket that could be a cool accent as well as some crocheted pieces I could add.  I’m still thinking out what sort of fabric I want, but whatever it is, it needs to look and feel cozy.

  • A sweatshirt dress.

I’d love to wear leggings more, at least in the fall (before it’s freezing), but I’d like my rear end to stay covered (which would also keep me warmer).  Enter, the sweatshirt dress or tunic.  I’ve seen a few for sale (like this one), but I think it would be fun to sew one.  Here is an XL men’s sweatshirt I found at my favorite hunting grounds, the thrift store.  I’m hoping to turn it into my sweatshirt dress.

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

 

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

That will be a trial and error project.  The key mental element is not to get too attached to the piece in case it should end up as a Craft Fail.

  • Anna Maria Horner’s free pattern/instructions for the Figure 8 Scarf.

(Here’s a link to the post where you can find the picture that inspired me.)  I’ve been wanting to make this scarf for years, so I’m hoping to have it done by the time those secret Christmas presents get finished.

Incidentally, Anna Maria Horner’s blog is one of my all-time favorites.  This amazing lady is over-the-top creative and has done so many things (including fabric design, painting, pattern design, and a host of needlework related things), but what comes through most clearly in her blog is her deep, deep love for her family.  Her blog seems to be largely about her creative endeavors, but her love of her family shines through even more brightly.  She has a warm and genuine voice that makes you sure that if you were neighbors, you would be friends.  She doesn’t post every day, but every post is worth waiting for.  I highly recommend her blog and her work.

  • The ultimate winter skirt.

For years I have dreamed of creating a floor-length skirt that is lined with something soft and warm like fleece or faux fur.  It would look like a normal skirt from the outside, but feel like you are wearing a cozy blanket!  It would be awesome!

Actually, a friend told me that Burberry has brought out the poncho for this year–not the ponchos you’ve seen in the last few years that have some shaping and a neckhole, but basically a blanket that you wrap around yourself and call a poncho, so…what if I wore (1) my ultimate winter skirt, with (2) a “poncho” (i.e. blanket) around my shoulders, and (3) my new-to-me plaid flannel shirt (which I suspect is actually a pajama top)?!  It would be like being in bed, but you would look perfectly acceptable!  This seems pretty brilliant to me.  Not only would I be appropriate, warm, and cozy, I would also look high-fashion…ish.  Sounds like a winner if I ever heard of one.

Oh!  Here’s a look at the vintage pattern I bought that I am hoping to lengthen to make the skirt:

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

Vintage Vogue 6491

Fall/Winter Sewing (Pattern and Branch)

In case you are wondering, I bought this pattern on Etsy from a vintage pattern shop called Studio G Patterns, which shipped it to me with lightning speed.  I should write a review–they were great.

Of course I have a million more ideas, and things could shift and change as the fall and winter progress, but I love the project planning, even if everything doesn’t get made.  What are thinking of making or buying for the upcoming season?

Craft Fail: Roasted (Burned) Wheat Berries

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It’s been awhile since we had a Craft Fail, hasn’t it?  Either my creative skills are exceptionally fabulous, or I’m just working harder to fix my mistakes.  I guess I should quit projects more often so we can keep the Craft Fail section going strong.  ;)  OK, I’m not going to do that.  It’s too satisfying to turn a failure into a success, but some things are just unsalvageable.

That’s the direction my last cooking experiment went.

Craft Fail:  Roasted (Burned) Wheat Berries

My unfortunate final product

 

I was going to meet some women to discuss a book, the Bible, and life, so I thought I would bring a snack.  I have the More-with-Less cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre, a Mennonite cookbook that my Mom used when I was growing up.  I found this recipe in the snacks section and, since I had some wheat berries around, and no other snack ideas, it seemed like a perfect match.

Craft Fail:  Roasted (Burned) Wheat BerriesThe recipe said the wheat would puff up after a bit so, even though I didn’t really know what I was looking for, I kept checking it…and it had a sort of interesting smell…and it got a little darker…and the smell got stronger…and the wheat turned black.  Oops.

There was no saving this one.  I preserved it in photograph form for your enjoyment, and cut up some apples before heading out the door.

Advanced Style

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Do you think that fashion and style are only for the young?  Do you think that in order to be fashionable or stylish, you have to look like you are in your late teens or early 20’s?  If you have ever thought that or noticed that American culture seems to think that way, I have something that might make you see fashion and style in a new light.  Enter Advanced Style.  Ari Seth Cohen’s blog documents street style in those who have moved a bit beyond their 20’s, and it is truly inspiring.  When you see these men and women, whether or not they are dressed in a way that you would imitate, you see their courage and creativity.  Courage may sound like an odd word to use, but striking out on your own, stylistically, really does take guts.

I’m excited to see that he has a documentary coming out this month (tomorrow, actually)!  Here is the trailer:

If you see it, please tell us about it in the comments.  To me, it sounds like inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Field Trip: The Vintage Bazaar

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This past weekend I went to The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm in Salisbury, MA.  It was a fun event with a cleaned-up flea market feel.  There were vintage, hand-made, upcycled, and recycled wares all over the place.  I went to shop for Christmas gifts (my goal is to be done by Thanksgiving so I can enjoy the season), but I ended up getting things for myself, so….I don’t know what to say about that.  Let’s move on and look at some pictures!

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

These chickens were our welcoming committee.

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

The booths were filled with great colors and textures that drew you in.

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

Didn’t we see this lady at Brimfield?

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

 

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

I can only show you these autumn pictures now that it is officially fall.  Fall started in the Northern Hemisphere on Monday, so the ban on fall items has been lifted (I admit I did break out my plaid hunting shirt/jacket and my leather motorcycle jacket while it was still technically summer.  That is my official confession.  Now we can go on with fall.).

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

That’s a living necklace! That plant is alive! Isn’t that cool?

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

 

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

Say “yes” to the fur dress!

 

 

The Vintage Bazaar at Pettengill Farm (Pattern and Branch)

 

I wish in hindsight that I had gotten names and websites of my favorite vendors to share with you.  I guess that means I should go again.  ;) There have been two shows this year, and it looks like they have a holiday show scheduled for November, so if you are in the area, I definitely recommend it.  Admission was $5.  It made for a fun day and I left wishing I could have stayed longer.

Update:  Thanks to Laurel’s comment, I can tell you that the last two pictures came from Retromat Vintage.  You can find her etsy store here

Happy Birthday, Pattern and Branch!

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Today is the first birthday of the Pattern and Branch blog!  I can’t believe it’s been a year of blogging already!  Here’s a look back at the very first post.

 

Pattern and Branch turns one year old

Anyone remember this dress?

This was the first project I posted:  a Mary Adams/Alabama Chanin style party dress made from thrifted sheets.  What a fun project and what a fun year it’s been.  Thanks to everyone who has been a reader from the beginning and who has joined us along the way.  I look forward to starting another year with you of creating and discovering new, fun, and funny things.  Cheers!

Simplicity 1699

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It feels like a long time since I had a sewing project to share with you, so I’m very happy to show you my finished version of Simplicity 1699 (top B).

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

Simplicity 1699 by Pattern and Branch

Simplicity 1699 by Pattern and Branch

 

You may remember that I mentioned going to Pattern Review Day in Boston a few months ago.  When I was there, we did a pattern swap, something I had never done before.  For this swap, you could bring up to five patterns to give, and take as many patterns as you brought.  One of the patterns I brought home was Simplicity 1699.

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

I needed a few tops that I could wear in settings that required something nicer than a t-shirt, like to church or baby showers or to work events for my husband, so I thought I would give Top B a try.  I didn’t have any peplum tops, so this seemed like a good opportunity to try one out.

I realize that it would have been smarter and safer to go to a store and try some one (which I did a little) and/or to make a muslin of the top before sewing it in my nice wax print fabric, but I’m a recovering impatient sewer (at least I hope I’m recovering), so it’s still a bit hard to make myself slow down enough to make a muslin (test garment) or finish seams.  I wasn’t sure if the top would fit, since I’m a different size on the top than on the bottom, but I told myself I would go for it and rip out seams and adjust things if it didn’t work.  Thankfully, it fits!  (Sometimes being impatient does pay off, but you probably shouldn’t spread that around.  I think it’s supposed to be a secret.)

Here’s how it looks on a professional model…one of those models that’s so happy and has such a good life that you want to buy everything she is wearing so that your life will be that happy and good:

Simplicity 1699 on a super-happy model (Pattern and Branch)

Oh, wait.  That’s me.  Well, I guess you should all make this shirt so you can be as happy as I am.  ;)  Or maybe you just need a photographer as good at directing models as my husband is.  He doesn’t even do this for his regular job, and look at these professional pictures.  Yes, my life is perfect.

OK.  Let’s get serious.  Here are the rest of the shots.

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

My (slightly) more serious comments are that modeling things is not easy.  Also, I have to smile in my pictures now.  I can’t try to do the moody model look because my Grandma told me I should smile.  And we should all listen to our grandmas (especially when they’re as awesome as mine).

So…as I mentioned, I used the wax print I got several months ago for the body of the shirt.  The fabric came in a six yard length, so I still have some left.  Maybe I’ll make pants…I’m not sure.  The collar is a brocade (I think–I’m still learning all the types of fabrics) that I got at an estate sale.  I tried to sort of center the designs on the shirt front and on the collar.  I don’t have much practice in this area, so I’m happy with how it turned out.  The pattern was pretty easy to sew.  Since I had trouble following the directions on my bathing suit, I used post-it flags (those rectangular post-its for marking pages) to help me keep my place.  I used my bust measurement to choose my size, and hoped for the best.  I am a larger size from the waist down, but thankfully there was enough ease in the pattern that it fits.  Any smaller, though, and I would have had to let some seams out.  I’ve debated trying out the pants on the pattern envelope in this same fabric, but it’s not exactly a bottom-weight, so I don’t know how that would go.  Any thoughts from sewers out there?  I looked in a book by Sandra Betzina and saw something about adding another layer of fabric in order to strengthen lighter weight fabric when making pants.  Maybe I’ll try that.  We’ll see.  I have some other projects to delve into before I take that on.

Final take on the shirt?  It’s great.  I like the style.  I like the fit.  The pattern was easy to follow.  I’m going back now that I know it fits and zigzagging in the seam allowances so they won’t fray, and then I will consider it finished!

 

Hunt, Gather, Cook by Hank Shaw (and Other Interesting Stuff)

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I’ve got a fun book to share today.  Hunt, Gather, Cook:  Finding the Forgotten Feast by Hank Shaw has made it to my house from the library twice, if not more.  The very best how-to books, in my opinion, give you the feeling, “It’s possible!”, whatever the “it” is that you are learning about.  This cookbook/foraging guide by Hank Shaw is exactly that kind of book.  I also love a good back story for recipes, and this book often gives you not a brief description, but a true (and interesting) back story.

Hunt, Gather, Cook by Hank Shaw (Pattern and Branch blog)

As you might expect, he talks about foraging for certain plants, but he also gives you pointers on how to get started if you want to clam, fish, or hunt, and then what to do with all that you collect.  While Shaw grew up on the East Coast, he’s lived throughout the USA and now lives on the West Coast, so his experience with wild food covers a broad range of places and environments.  Check out his blog, Honest Food, and you can keep up with him and his adventures.

Here are some images from Hunt, Gather, Cook.

Hunt, Gather, Cook by Hank Shaw (Pattern and Branch blog)

Hunt, Gather, Cook by Hank Shaw (Pattern and Branch blog)

Thanks to Hank, I tried my first rose hips this year, since the very roses that he mentions in the image above grow all over our beach here.  The first try was bland, but the second was better.  Now I’ll have to try more!  If you have a food-lover in your life, you may want to encourage them to check out this book.  It’s a very interesting read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now for some more fun things to check out!

  • For more foraging information, try out my two current favorite pure foraging books.  (These are not cookbooks, but they do give you some guidance in that area.):  The Forager’s Harvest and Nature’s Garden both by Samuel Thayer.  This guy is smart, experienced, but also adequately cautious when it comes to wild food.
  • What if you love food, but hate the wild (or would rather grow your food instead of search for it)?  Try The Edible Flower Garden by Rosalind Creasy.  This is such a fun book for garden planning.  Most years I use it to try out one or two new edible flowers, just to keep things interesting.
  • You know how some people have “twins” that they aren’t really related to?  In college there was a girl that people always confused me with.  She was actually awesome at sports I did not or no longer played, so it was nice to get compliments meant for her, even though I had to disillusion people afterward and tell them I hadn’t played basketball since high school.  (Also, I was a bench warmer.  I made two points my freshman year of high school.  It was my 15 minutes of fame.)  While the two of us resembled one another, it was NOTHING like the resemblance between actor/comedian Will Ferrell and drummer Chad Smith.  I think these guys were separated at birth.  Want to see it?  Here is their “drumoff” on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”.  If you choose to watch this clip, though, you should probably watch Will Ferrell’s famous cowbell sketch first, just to be fully prepared. 

    And now here is the drumoff (and the shocking “twinness” of these two men):

Have a good weekend!

Pictures of Summer

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With the school year getting started soon or already, it feels like the end of summer, but that’s not how I’m thinking of it.  In this part of the world, there is usually another good month of warmer weather before fall gets underway, and the weather in northeastern Massachusetts this summer has been heavenly.  So here’s a look at summer past with a view toward another good month.  It may not be the same pace or schedule, but there’s still plenty of summer goodness to be had all around us.

 

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Summer strawberries

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Herbs and Flowers

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Lily of the Valley

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Independence Day

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Cake with Edible Flowers (Violas)

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Popsicles!

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Clamshell at the Beach

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Beach Plums Beginning to Ripen

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

The Truth. (or “What My Living Room Really Looks Like When I Show You My Projects.”)

Pictures of Summer (Pattern and Branch)

Beach Plum Bushes

I hope September holds promise for you and that you can enjoy the last month of summer, even if (or maybe because) your schedule changes.

Beach Plum Adventure

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m slowly trying to learn more wild, edible plants.  I like discovering treasures and, like shopping for antiques and visiting thrift stores, foraging for wild food feels like finding treasures.  Last year I learned how to identify beach plums.  We have a lot of bushes that grow right by the boardwalk of one of the local beaches, so they are easy to find and pick.  Also, most beachgoers don’t seem to know about them, so they aren’t all picked over.

This year, I felt confident about finding beach plums (Maybe a little overconfident, as I’ve picked a number of underripe ones, which tend to be extremely sour.  I guess you learn more each year, right?).  Jam still seems like slightly too much work (although I hope to try it again someday–my first attempt was unsuccessful), so I decided to try something else.  To me, beach plums look a lot like cherries.  Check it out.  Here is a picture of ripe beach plums:

Beach Plum Adventure with Pattern and Branch

So, I thought maybe, just once, I would pick a bunch, pit them, and make a pie using a cherry pie recipe.  I reasoned that since cherry pies use sour cherries, and beach plums look like cherries and are somewhat sour, it might be a match.  Now, I have to tell you, that I have never tasted a newly picked sour cherry to my knowledge.  The taste of beach plums, though, is sort of like a cranberry.

What do you think?  Was it a good idea?  I’ll show you what I did in pictures, but first, here is a picture of unripe beach plums, so you’ll know in case you ever find them in your area.

Beach Plum Adventure with Pattern and Branch And lastly, before we get to pie, here’s a size reference:

Beach Plum Adventure with Pattern and BranchNow, to pie!  My little helpers and I picked three small buckets full of beach plums.

Beach Plum Adventure with Pattern and Branch We took them home and rinsed them off, and then I went to work pitting them.  I used this cherry pitting tool made by OXO to get it done.  I definitely recommend it–works for olives, too, supposedly.

Beach Plum Adventure with Pattern and BranchMany episodes of “Duck Dynasty” later, I had six cups of pitted beach plums for my pie.  I used a recipe titled “Our Favorite Cherry Pie” from one of my go-to cookbooks, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

Beach Plum Pie with Pattern and Branch

Beach Plum Pie with Pattern and Branch

Beach Plum Pie with Pattern and Branch

Beach Plum Pie with Pattern and Branch

Beach Plum Pie with Pattern and Branch

The finished pie had a crumb topping (plus the whipped cream topping that we added).  So what do you think it tasted like?

Well…it was SOUR.  Ha!  Once you got used to the contrast of the sour filling with the sweet crumb topping and the sweet whipped cream, it was pretty good, but initially, it was a shocker.  I fed it to a bunch of hungry college students, and they voted that it was good.  I thought at first that it was a failure, but everyone liked it, so it turned out to be a surprising success.  Hooray!  Maybe next year I’ll try jam.  :)