29 March, 2012

snapshots of wanderings on the other coast

hello friends! tomorrow i leave for japan - i couldn't be more excited!
here are a few random snapshots from my last week or so here on the left coast:

this is the view from the house where i've spent most of the past two weeks:

you can't see it in this shot, because of the clouds, but the far mountains were covered in snow. i know that in relative terms, this may not seem like the greatest LA view, but to an east coaster, it's pretty spectacular.

i took a tour of this house:

it's the gamble house, and i'm sure that on their website, they have far greater photos than this one i took, so you should click the link. this is a house that was designed by greene and greene and i'd always meant to tour it while i was living in LA, but never got to it. and now i have.
one little fun-fact that they don't tell you on the tour is that the garage, which is now the bookstore, was the setting for doc's garage in back to the future:

i spent a night up in big bear with friends at their wonderful mountain cabin.

this is one thing you do at a mountain cabin:

playing shoots and ladders is another thing you do.
this special c-s-c monogram towel circa 2008 was there. i love the way it's aged. (and i'm so pleased to see how tight all of the stitches still are!)

a storm rolled in earlier than we were expecting. though it just looked like this as we were leaving the house,

we almost didn't make it down the mountain. those storms move in quickly and those roads are skeeetchy.

(believe me, it was way worse that it looks here --- we thought we were going to have to spend the night in one of the small mountain towns half-way down!)

the next morning, i flew up to san jose to visit with some other very good friends.
on an adventure, we crossed over this bridge:

and arrived at our destination, muir woods.

honestly, the reason we went is because i'm a little crazy about the movie vertigo. especially this scene:

(hey, look, i just embedded a video -- that's a chez-sucre-chez first!)
the woods were just as amazing as i wanted them to be. but first - here i am geeking out in front of the vertigo tree-slice:

bummer that there was no cell/smartphone reception up there in the woods, so i didn't have the film clip at my fingertips to reference -- my angle is a little off.

beyond the tree slice, the woods are positively breath-taking.

the air has a most marvelous scent to it, which becomes noticeable miles before the park, even with all of the car windows rolled up!

ferms grow on trees above:

and the ground is covered in oxalis!

the scale of the trees is massive - even more so against my friend hana, who is even tinier than me:

it was a lovely day in the woods, and then we went into town and checked out the curiosity shoppe. it's just as sweet as i imagined! (they'll be getting a new shipment of c-s-c kits as soon as i return from my travels.)
wrapping up my trip to nor-cal was some time spent in SF japantown, most wonderfully the kabuki springs & spa. (thank you, charles!!!)
walking out, this is the scene i saw:

little pigeon looking spiritual.
so now i need to dash off to sleep before a long day of air travel. have a great week, friends! once i get back, i'll have one week until the first clover market. i think this little break will be good for me - i've already got so many ideas for once i get back. and i'm bringing a brand new design/stitching project with me on the plane -- i may just finish it! and, though i've never been much influenced by asian art/imagery, i'm so looking forward to being immersed in new inspiration. ciao!

23 March, 2012

on the road and in the sky

okay, i'll admit it -- i am terrible at vacationing.
i don't know how to not work! my "work" is what i love doing, so when i came out here with absolutely no stitching supplies, i kind of knew that it wouldn't last -- and i was right.
just a few days into the trip, i found myself at joann fabrics, purchasing aida, needle, and floss. (i did bring my favourite hoop with me -- just in case...) and i started work on this piece:

i had a poster hanging in my bedroom when i was in 6th or 7th grade (really? it came out in 1986?!!! sheesh, that was a long time ago...) with a photo of "ferris" lounging and this quote printed at the bottom. i'm pretty sure this was the quote i had on my myspace page when that was going on. i think it's still my favourite quote on my fb page, too. so, it's only natural that i finally, after a year or so of thinking about it, put it in stitches. obviously, it's not finished yet...

just three days into the trip, i called home and asked b to pretty please put together a box of supplies and work things to send to me out here. pathetic, right?

but -- there is reason to this! i would have been one thing if i were sticking to the original plan and i was just going to be away for two weeks. but upon arriving, i learned that there was a plan in place to have me go to japan.

japan?!!! what the what?! yes - i'm super psyched. it was a bit of an unexpected twist and i've been freaking out about being away from home and work for so long, but really, this may never happen again! i've got an opportunity to see a far-away totally foreign land and i'm going for it!
in the meantime, though, i've got some more days in CA, and here are just two of the things i like best here:

i call this "california toast." it was my favourite breakfast while i was living here and i've enjoyed it a few times already this week. a piece of toast, smeared with a quarter of an avocado, squirted with a wedge of lemon, and sprinkled with sea salt. yeah, it's delicious. of course, i could make and eat this at home on the east coast, but it somehow doesnt seem the same....especially when the lemons come from a tree just feet away in the front yard:

which is another one of my favourite things about out here; the flowers and citrus trees in almost every front and back yard.
i've been cutting these roses (which smell incredible!) for us to have fresh flowers on the table all week. this morning, as i was doing so, a hummingbird almost buzzed my ear off!
exciting stuff, eh? now i'm off to do something i wanted to do while i was living here but never got to - i'm making it happen today; taking a tour of the gamble house.
have a great weekend, friends! xo.

14 March, 2012

spring break fever

it's a bit last-minute, but i'm heading out to CA for a couple of weeks to soak up some sunshine and love and company of some of my favourite people on earth. woohoo!
i'm leaving my shop "open," - but all orders placed during this time will be shipped when i get back. regular ready-made items will go out the day after i'm back; custom-stitched pieces will be sent just as soon as i can get them stitched up upon my return.

before packing, though, i made up a new kit! mother's day is just around the corner (sort of...) so i put together a mamma hankie kit. i think they're pretty sweet.

i don't have many of these in stock, because the hankies are hard to source, so if you think you'll want to make one up for your mamma, go on over (here) and place the order today, and i'll have it mailed to you in plenty of time for stitching and giving.

when i get back from my little break, it'll be time to jump full swing into craft fair season! PA people, you'll have plenty of opportunity to come out and say hello --- I'll be doing all three dates of the clover market, and i'll be teamed up with melanie linder/spread-the-love as per our usual good-time at the art star bazaar. applications for renegade brooklyn are due in a couple of weeks; i'll be sending mine in and crossing my fingers that i'll be making that stop in brooklyn.

that's it! have a great couple of weeks! xoxo.

12 March, 2012

under cover help

hey friends and readers, i need your thoughts...
for the past couple of weeks, i've been obsessing over the idea of re-usable bowl covers. and now i've made a few and i wanna know what you think -- genius, or kinda dumb (or somewhere in between)?

here's the back-story.
some time ago, i was asked by the people at terrain about doing some mason-jar covers. i did some brainstorming, poked around on the internet, and came up with a few options, but ultimately, they went with a different design (which i was pleased with). in my research, i found a how-to by some older woman for little jar covers. of course now i can't find the link, but the idea stuck in my head. well a few months ago, something made me think of them again and i was thinking of the same idea but used as a re-usable cover for my kitchenaid mixing bowl. i do kind of a lot of baking, and when a recipe says to cover something in plastic wrap, unless it's going to sit in the fridge over night, i pretty much always skip the plastic in favor of a damp clean kitchen towel. i got the idea that it'd be kinda cool to make a cover, with elastic around it, that would stay taught over the bowl (kitchen towels tend to droop into the bowl sometimes) and that could be thrown in the washer and cleaned when need be.

i did a search on etsy and found that there is one shop that offers mixing bowl covers. honestly, i was a little bummed that there was someone already doing it, and i didn't want to compete with another etsy artist, so i let that idea go...
but it wouldn't go away. and then, i thought to myself, well, they don't have to be strictly made or marketed as mixing bowl covers, they could be covers that happen to fit and work for mixing bowls, but can be used as general bowl covers, too! it turns out, there are lots of people on etsy doing those.....
but none do them the chez-sucre-chez way!

here's what i envision, and this is where i need your help --- i need you to tell me if i'm onto something, and should keep on going, or if this is really not such a cool idea as i am thinking it is. (be honest with me!)
i see making these in the chez-sucre-chez aesthetic, which i see as classic, a little bit country (or, to use the more fashionable word of the moment, "rustic"), and understated. i've used the word homespun before. currently i'm envisioning and using solid color linen fabric and some classic print cottons - like ticking stripe.
i think they're terrific as mixing bowl covers, but i haven't run them through the full test yet. i used one the other night when i made pizza dough (pizza night happens at least once a week in this house) and it was a champ. i'm thinking i'll test it on one of my messiest recipes - the english muffin bread - tonight or tomorrow. we'll see how that goes.
otherwise, though, how cool would it be to show up at your next pot luck with one of these covering your bowl of salad or plate of cookies rather than wasteful and bad-for-the-enviroment plastic wrap or foil? you see what i'm thinking? or, imagine having a little outdoor picnic -- you're getting the food ready and setting it out before the guests arrive, but you don't want the bugs to get in there, so you put on a pretty little bowl cover.

am i selling you on the idea yet? can you tell i'm really into it? but i still want to know what you think.... i'm ready to go full-steam ahead on these for the upcoming spring/summer shows - unless you tell me otherwise. i'll have to take new photos - i realize that - i think i've got them styled in a way that's quite a bit too country looking right now... my house is wonderful, but it's limited for photo-styling.
okay - if you have any feedback, let me know. go on and send me an email or leave a comment. thank you!! xo.

le weekend

hello friends, how was your weekend?
mine was just right --- spent all saturday driving around the countryside and stopping into antique shops with B and then most of sunday working away in my studio.

B and i both saw this fan and knew pretty much right away that it had to come home with us:

i mean, come on, it's got that big K on it AND it's that beautiful turquoise green that i love? i did my usual hemming and hawing that i didn't *need* it, but B was a sweetheart and bought it for us. happy-making.

a little later in the day, i spied this amazing blue/red/white striped feedsack material. i pulled it out and marveled at it and then put it back, thinking, "kj, you have *so* much fabric at home; put it down." but i decided it was too special to let it go. i think it'll make delightful chez-sucre-chez zipper pouches. and i got a pony. B got a bunch of apes, but i couldn't find them to take a photo.

then, at what i think was our last stop before i declared antique over-load, i found these apple crates, which will be big players in my booth set-up for all of the awesome craft-show/fair/events coming up this spring/summer:

(they were only $6 each! woohoo!)

i hope you all had a super-swell weekend. this warmer and sunnier weather is making me feel much more happy and productive than i've been in weeks. more to come, soon! xo.

09 March, 2012

prints and the revolution

i've done it; i've gotten prints made and the first batch is up in the shop!

phew! this has been a whole heck of a lot more difficult of a project than i anticipated. well, no -- really, it wasn't THAT difficult -- but there were a lot more variables and much a steeper learning curve than i had imagined when i first thought of doing this. i've been wanting to make prints happen for many many months but sheesh, it was so intimidating to learn a whole new medium or process and materials. paper and print are very different than needle and thread!
but - the results are thrilling. check out the photo below -- can you even tell, from this not-so-far distance, which of these is the original?

no? it's the one in the box -- in the dark wood frame. ha!
how about this one:

this one's a little easier, maybe, because the color is a teeny bit different. the original is the one at the bottom, laying face up.

it's been a process, and i still feel like i have more to learn about papers and printing methods, but after many trials and errors, i've finally got a batch of prints that i am happy with and i've gone ahead and listed them in the shop. hooray!

i'm really happy to be able to offer this option. i know that so many people have been so wonderfully receptive and complimentary about my work, but that the time that goes into each original piece causes a price that is not in everyone's budget --- well, now, with the prints, i can make chez-sucre-chez designs affordable and accessible to more people.

three people deserve HUGE thank yous from me for their help on getting me this far with this project; karen stanford for encouraging me to make this happen, and melanie linder and kristen solecki for sharing their print know-how and experience with me and answering my dozens of questions. thank you!!!

stay tuned - i already have three more prints in the works!

08 March, 2012

this week's randomness

my to-do list is long today, but i wanted to give at least a little update of the latest chez-sucre-chez happenings, so here's a brief rundown:

there's a new kit in the shop, and i think this'll make some of you very happy:

i've been asked for this pattern many many times over the years, and i have had it set up and saved as a pdf with the intention of getting it into the shop for a while now, and now i've gotten to it.

this is the largest sized project/kit i've put out -- it comes with a six inch hoop. i don't yet have any of those handy resealable and recyclable plastic bags (did you know they're recyclable? they are!) that will fit the large hoop size, so for the time being, they're coming packaged in hand-made machine-sewn tissue paper sleeves. i will track down better packaging that i don't have to make... (do any of you remember when my kits used to all come in little draw-string bags that i made?! that was crazy! but way cute!) here's a direct link to the new kit.

also new in the shop, a couple of new cloud instant-collection groups.
there's this one:

and this one:

i'm very pleased with some of these new colors and the groupings i've been able to make from the latest batch of clouds i've stitched. i really love offering the single clouds as pretty little gift-boxed items, believing that they're so special and whimsical and pretty alone. but even more so, i love offering them in these little collections.

i loved the large collection of them that i had hung on my old bedroom wall, and that was before i started doing them in pretty colors!

i stitched up this piece for a custom order:

so happy meredith went with the yellow on grey color combo.

and lastly, the breakfast bread of the week:

english muffin bread from this recipe.
oh. my. goodness. it is amazing. it's so amazing. so so sooooo delicious. it's so good, that the above photo is the best i've been able to get of it -- because once i have a slice all toasted and buttered, i cannot wait the three-seven minutes it would take me to arrange and get a good shot; i have to eat it up right away. i highly recommend that you make it. i did the half-recipe, and that made a lot -- two loaves, if you've got two loaf pans; i don't, so we got one big loaf and 8 skull-shaped muffins (which i froze to enjoy next week).
another recipe we enjoyed this week is this savory bread pudding. yum.

now i've got to resist the urge to toast up and eat another slice of english muffin bread and instead, get to work.
i'll be back here later today with another post of my latest new project adventure. happy friday!

07 March, 2012

like they've fallen from the sky

looking out the window this morning, i see not a single cloud in the sky. i think it may be because they're all in my desk drawer.