Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Garlic and Giving Up

Time to plant garlic again. I saved a few heads from this year's bunch and am now eyeing this new backyard. Where's the best place to put a little garden here? I'm keeping an eye on the shadows, taking note of where the sun shines brightest... and longest. Tomorrow I may begin to dig. All depends on the forecast, you see.

I have already begun a new compost pile; couldn't go a week without one of those. This year's garlic waste becomes next year's compost, and the cycle continues. I take great comfort in these cycles... useless becoming useful, old becoming new. Strange, but I do.

I'm finding it an enormous challenge to settle into this little house. I just typed a long paragraph explaining why, but then realized it sounded whiny and hopeless and would give certain people a little too much satisfaction, so I deleted it. But... yes. This has been a difficult move and I'm fighting to keep some semblance of hope and happiness about the place. That alone is a full time job.

Would you be terribly disappointed in me if I pulled the covers over my head and gave up for a few days? -Brin

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sugar, Caffeine and Smiles

A little frivolity, made for a little celebration involving a favorite kid of mine. I can't help but grin when looking at these smiling cupcakes. Of course, I am running on sugar and caffeine these days. Seems as though everything makes me either smile or cry....

Be back as I'm able. Have a happy week. -Brin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Box. First Night.

My first night in the little house. I just cleared enough sitting space on the couch, plugged in my laptop, and lit some candles and settled in. (This place smells musty, my Mom said as she walked through earlier.) Millie's asleep on the wood floor -at my feet, of course - after a long, nervous day. We're both exhausted.

You know, Martha Stewart says that whenever you move, you should have a first box. She doesn't actually call it a "first box"... that's my term... but that's what it is: the first box you unpack. Ideally, it should contain the first things you may need upon arriving at your new place. Um... things like light bulbs. Scissors. Soap and towel. Box cutter. Alarm clock. Clorox wipes. Whatever. I had my first box, of sorts, but it was all wrong. What I really needed was: (1) a dog net for the three pit bulls that dug under my backyard fence to get to an already apprehensive little Millie; (2) a t-shirt that says "I have a boyfriend and he can beat you up" to dissuade Leonard, the city's dog catcher, who came to help and didn't leave before giving me his cell phone number and inviting himself back later; (3) a sledge hammer - don't ask; (4) Liquid Drano, and (5) a wine bottle opener. That is what my first box needed. Martha, my box and Millie and I needed you today. Where were you?

So. I have so much to show and tell you about the little house. It's located in Wake Village, which I think is a lovely thing to call a place. The house has wooden floors and straightforward rooms and just needs someone to pull it all together and make it wonderful. (And paper the closets and pantry. Thanks for your suggestions on wallpaper, by the way. I'm going to try to get each of the three papers as finances allow. We'll see....)

Before we get to all that, some sleep is in order. That one-eye-open, what-was-that-sound?, I'm-nervous-in-a-new-place, I-hope-they-don't-call-this-Wake Village-for-a-reason kind of sleep.


Goodnight. I think. -Brin

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer.
-Helen Hunt Jackson

Happy, happy, happy fall.

May it bring more warmth, comfort, and coziness
than you could ever dream. -Brin

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stumps, Puppy Foot Warmer and Paper the Color of Jam

Seen from the kitchen window at the new little house: a tree stump bearing blue blooms. I'd have a better shot but it was raining as I snapped this and, as seems to be the case this week, I was in a frantic hurry.

But I'm not so much now. Having worked my entire day off at the new house, I'm piled on the bed with tea and a chocolate lab foot warmer. And before my burning-tired eyes forcibly escort me to Neverland, I'm browsing the vintage wallpaper offerings on eBay. Don't you think it would be lovely if I papered all the closets in the little house? I do. I want them to be pretty and smell heavenly. Today I became obsessed with papering the insides of the closets with cabbages and roses... or tiny, buttered daisies... or a Victorian toile the color fig and plum jam. Here's to hoping I can find a steal....


Okay. Half hour later and I'm too tired to sleep (although the foot warmer is snoring soundly down at the end of the bed, so at least one of us is resting). I just narrowed my options down to these three prints. Remember, they are for papering closet interiors... not spaces that will be lived in, if you know what I mean. I'm going for an Agatha Christie/rainy day/berry scones and cream/Saturday-with-a-novel kinda feel here. I think I've decided, but which would you get?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quiet Blur

That's life this week, a quiet blur. Long work week (47 hours) and moving - box by box, load by load... quietly loading, driving, unloading. Some good, quiet music on the iPod, though:

Quiet, John Mayer
Quiet Place, Lanae Hale
Quiet Times, Dido
Quiet Nights, Diana Krall
One Quiet Night, Pat Metheny

Calm for my ears. It helps. It really does....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Little Sale

There's a little sale going on over at Brin. I mean, aprons may just be slashed by several, several dollars each in an effort to make a little room for some fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas delights coming soon. (And also maybe to help with a few... um... unexpected expenses. We'll leave it at that until I cool down enough to tell the unbelievable story, mkay?)

Anyway, hope you find just the Pretty Prairie Apron or Toolbelt you've been wanting. And special thanks to Rebecca, Tara, Tine, Jemima, Jenn, Kristie, Elsa, Estrelete and Mary for their patronage and support of the new shop. You girls make all the difference in the world to me. Thank you.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Plans...

I'm getting ready to plant fall lettuces. But... not where you'd suspect.

I've found a little house. I'm moving in next week.

After taking a long, realistic look at my budget... and after realizing that I still feel, well, like I'm getting about on paper wings, I decided to take the most drastic step I've ever taken: do the logical, safe thing. Two weeks ago, I sat down and thought: now Brin, if you were a normal girl and not a recklessly fearless, head-in-the-clouds one, what would your next move be? Of course! It would be to get a stable job in a nice-sized town, rent a little house with a fenced yard for Millie, and, I don't know, get out and meet people. So I am. The cottage will have to wait; I'm simply drained of finances, energy and unwearied hope for now. For now.

I found a small house in an old neighborhood in the city where I work. The old place has hardwoods and a strange layout and lots of quirks, but I know its owners very well and am quite assured this will be a happy arrangement. In the front yard is a weathered, mossed-over, gnarled root oak tree that I love. The backyard is fairly... blank. An empty canvas. The house is dated, severely dated, and requires a LOT of love, but that only means I'll be up to some of my old tricks again (paint, flooring, lighting, decorating, planting, planning....) So what do you say? Are you up for another house that needs us?

Pictures of the interior to come. You'll see what I mean. For now, I'm off to dream of lettuce seeds and kitchen tile. It's raining here, after all, and Millie's snoring softly at my feet and my eyelids aren't propping themselves open as they should. .... .... ....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Visions of Sugar Plums...

Abby just alerted us to a new Toast catalogue. Couple that with the September issue of Anthropologie's rag and I'm done for.

Dear Santa: we know it's a bit early, but we've been nice this year and it's been a sorta nasty one. Please, if you'll bring me these in a size 8 for Christmas... as well as a stocking full of beefy bones for the pup... we'll never ask for anything ever again. Finger-crossed promise.

Waste Not, Want Not: A Rug for Millie

Millie needed a soft, comfy place to lounge this fall and winter. She just did. So I found a beautiful rug in the new Pottery Barn catalogue and drooled over it for about half an hour. That's all I did, though. Tiramisu taste on a 'Nilla wafer budget, you understand.

So I did what any resourceful (read: desperate) country girl would do: I rounded up an armload of old t-shirts and, with gleaming scissors held high above my head, sounded the charge! In no time I was surrounded by a mountain of t-shirts hacked into strips and confetti. I swept the confetti pieces under the couch and rolled each strip into softball-sized balls and found the largest crochet hook I could find. Then I turned on the TV and got down to business.

Don't judge me. I can't crochet. I mean, I don't know what in the world I'm doing. When I was ten, the girl at the blueberry farm - the one my Mom wanted me to be friends with - tried to teach me how to crochet potholders. I guess some of it stuck; I can read knitting patterns... and music... and part of the New Testament in Spanish... but I still can't read anything having to do with crochet. I just play with balls of t-shirt strips and a hook until, after three straight hours of the History Channel, I can lean over the arm of the couch and yell, Look! A rug for Millie!

The rug so far gobbled up seven t-shirts and measures roughly three feet across. So either I need more shirts or Millie will have to shrink. Before someone asks, I started at the bottom of each shirt, on the right side, and cut a continuous two-inch stripe, horizontally, up the body of the shirt. Like peeling an apple. Then I did something (?) with loops and that crochet hook until it looked like this. I really don't know what I did, (UPDATE: crocheters say I single crocheted through the back loops. Eureka! Thanks, crafty ladies!) so please don't ask for a pattern. If you do, I'll have to come to your house and steal all your t-shirts, especially if you have any plum, cranberry or golden raisin-colored ones. I want those colors next. *grin*

(For another Waste Not, Want Not idea, check out my Thrifty Nifty Napkins, where I cut up more old clothes to make household things.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Apron shop is stocked, although many new pretties are in the works and planned between now and the holidays. Many. I'm having such fun doing these... scouring bins and stores and sales and old trunks for fabrics, buttons and notions; sitting at the machine as twilight comes, sewing; crisply ironing a finished piece and wrapping it carefully in tissue.... Once I heard it said that when you buy something that someone makes, you're buying a piece of their life. You're buying moments out of their life that they devoted to making you something. I like that. As I sit and sew, that's how I feel. Instead of doing other things, I'm making something for you. I'm not selling aprons, I'm selling pieces of my life.

Today feels like the first day of fall to me. Later I'll have to tell you about it. It's magical. I adore autumn in a way I can't describe. Just knowing it's here revives me. Buying mums this morning and puttering around the old feed store leaves me happy in ways I can't express.

I'm off to enjoy the rest of the splendor of this day. Happy Labor Day wishes and prayers to you all.... -Brin

Friday, September 4, 2009

Downtown, Hometown

It's not necessary to go far and wide.
You can really find exciting and inspiring things
within your hometown.
-Daryl Hannah

Looks like something from a movie, doesn't it? But no. It's just the town where I grew up. I drove through downtown on my way to the post office last Saturday as the sun came up, feeling like the only one in town awake and about. It was strange to see it so empty. Seemed awkward yet intimate somehow, like peeking in your boss's medicine cabinet or glimpsing a clown putting on his makeup.

I swore I would never come back here. Swore, swore, swore. I left in 1996, kissing my junior high/high school sweetheart goodbye and never looking back. Already I'd seen what staying in a small town did to a girl: as the years went by, the staying silently, gradually, stole a life. Before the girl knew it, she was a grandmother who prattled on about all the places she'd never been and the things she'd never done. That wouldn't be me. No sir. No ma'am.

But here I am, thirteen years later, peering across the same street I marched down in the Christmas Parade when I was fifteen. I played Mary, since she always has brown hair, and tripped over that stupid pale blue robe a thousand times as my Keds stomped all over the hem. I remember how Baby Jesus had one of those blinky eyes that was stuck rolled back in his head. That really bothered me. If you're gonna make a doll be Baby Jesus, at least make sure it doesn't look like a girl and have freaky, broken eyes, I'd thought. How would you like to be God and have the "person" playing you in the Christmas parade be a retarted-looking plastic toy?

I think about these things now that I'm here again. Funny how the memories race across time and brick-paved streets to find me again... bring me things I haven't thought of for fifteen years. And now that I'm here, I wonder: am I meant to make grown memories here, or am I just stopping in long enough to remember and be on my way again?

Ah, downtown, hometown. We meet again.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Winner, Winner

So I guess we know which image from yesterday won, huh? Last time I looked, with almost 300 votes cast, the image of my sister walking through the grass in the Lost Cottage apron won. Thanks ever so much for your input! Posing the question to you felt like using the "ask the audience" lifeline on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. And you always go with the audience. The audience is always right. Thanks again.

My sister and I had such fun shooting apron pictures and running around the pasture yesterday. Too much fun, really. I'm thirteen years older than she, and we haven't had much bonding time. Until now. It's exciting getting to know her: what she likes (swimming), what she eats (chicken), what she does (Goodreads), who she likes (Zack). She also insisted on voting in yesterday's poll and picked, predictably, the top picture with the pink apron. She loves pink, I've learned. We both stay away from blue. Strange how sisters can be so alike and yet so different, isn't it?

I've had zillions of emails and Etsy convos asking when all the aprons will be listed. It's a good question. In short, Labor Day weekend will see me laboring over the posting of 7+ new aprons and toolbelts. So by Saturday at noon CST, we shall see the first round of the Fall 2009 Aprons in all their glory. After that, I'm going to work my hardest to keep the shop stocked for those waiting until payday, holiday shopping, etc. Oh the cute that is to come!

Can you believe tomorrow's Friday? Looking forward to that holiday weekend....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pretty Prairie, An Apron Collection

Aprons! Today! Look for late summer and new Fall 2009 ones here at the shop around 4 PM CST. (Early birds may snag a few aprons that get posted early, so look sharp!) I really, really hope you enjoy them.

You know how magazines will sometimes publish an issue with two different covers? One for the South and one for the North, or whatever? Well, I'm trying the same thing here. Before I put the fall apron button on the blog, would you help me choose the image you prefer? Thank you!

See you around 4 o'clock at the shop!

(Big modeling props and special thanks to my sister, Mary. Sorry about the hay scratches. And Millie messing up half the shots.)