Welcome to the Studio Blog!

Hi friends! Welcome to my Clean Sheets blog. Over the coming weeks we'll be doing a design facelift, but for now I hope you enjoy a peek into my observations on life and design.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Good Morning, Monday! Week of September 12

Looking ahead to this week ... what I'm most excited about is this:
Not a raindrop in sight! Unusual for mid-September in Portland. I'll be using my extra energy to do some major scrapbooking, including doing the whole summer. The other day Mackian (my 15-year-old) said he "didn't remember what we did this summer." Yikes! Guess I'd better remind him.

It will be fun to relive great moments like this one from August ...
My beautiful DIL, Tiffany, at Mt. Bachelor's "Oregon Trail of Dreams" dog sledding experience, run by the amazing blind Iditerod racer Rachael Scedoris. They had a bunch of month-old puppies when we were there. Puppy bliss!

Finally, as I work this week (I'll also be doing the Studio's September Newsletter), I'll be listening to a great new FREE podcast I discovered. LearnOutLoud offers pretty substantial segments of audiobooks from their website ... both new and classic motivational books. Great food for thought!
Oh, and while I'm at it, here's a photo of me in the "birch tree shirt" I mentioned a few blogs ago.  This was the family birthday party from August, celebrating my lovely mom, Liz (age 87), my wonderful son, Lincoln (age 31), and me (age 55--woo hoo!).
I'm so blessed to live near not just three, but FOUR generations of family nearby (my eight grandkids—including Linc's adorable three boys—are mostly local, as well).

Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Colors of Late Summer and Beautiful Weeds

I am so deliriously grateful that it is still summer here in the Northwest, and the sun is still brilliant in the sky. Maybe it's because I know the rain is coming within a month or two that I am absolutely loving this unseasonably warm spell. Yay! It truly is still "late summer."

Colors, sounds and smells of this time of year seem particularly intense and brilliant. It's as if they ripen before the fall approaches. Deep green leaves, golden fields. A perfect rich blue sky. One of my favorite colors in late summer here in Oregon is the sweet, deep purple of blackberries.

I know that Himalayan Blackberries are considered a wildly invasive species, choking out trees and taking over huge amounts of forest land. Googling them yields lots of advice on pesticides and bulldozing.

But on my walks through my little town I am happy to see the nubby green berries turn into lovely, edible clusters. I always try to pick at least one giant bowl of berries at this time of year, and make a cobbler or two. Picking these wild blackberries is slow and hazardous (the thorns are insane), but yields delicious rewards.

From a distance, blackberry bushes are a massive, prickly mound, yet up close there is a lot of fruit waiting to be picked. This year as I approached a big, weedy blackberry bramble not far from my house, I thought of how humanity also seems like this from a distance: big, random, disjointed and prickly. But up close there is so much beauty ... delight that can be too easily overlooked if you don't get up close and personal.
For example, springing up here and there among the berries are the lacy white Queen Anne's lace, another beautiful "weed." I am always blown away by their intricate, snowy blossoms when I get up close. And the little sky-blue flowers that I've known forever as I used to ride my Schwinn Fiesta bike past them down the road. I don't have to know their names to love them.

On this particular morning, I also saw several patted-down areas where deer must have slept the night before. There were also lots of honeybees and spiders, neither of which bother me much.My berry picking was interrupted only by the occasional lumbering of a cement truck down the road (it's an industrial-area road with construction nearby).

It's a less-than-idyllic world—but there is beauty everywhere (even in the weeds and brambles) if you get close enough to really see it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Birch Tree Shirt and a Bit of the Bard

One week ago at this hour, I was in a boutique in Ashland, Oregon (Heart and Hands). It was a gorgeously sunny morning and I was there with five friends to enjoy some Shakespearean Festival plays—and for some retail therapy and amazing food. I was happy to be invited to join these women, who make this a yearly expedition from our town (five hours north).

When I'd walked into the boutique, I was taken aback by the shop owner's shirt, which I couldn't decide if I loved or hated. It was cut beautifully, but was made from this crazy fabric that looked like it had been splashed with acid and bleach. It was a top that stirred things up. I had to try it on.

Of course, I loved it. It spoke to me. It was made by a local artisan and I had never seen anything like it. I texted my husband and told him I'd found my birthday present (one of them, anyway!). When I sent him a photo, he said it looked like a birch tree, and he was right.

A few minutes later we sat in a darkened theater and enjoyed a masterful play called "The African Theater Presents Richard III." It was a dramatization of a group of African-Americans in 1820 New York City, producing Richard III at the same time an affluent white company was doing the same. It was full of triumph and heart. It spoke to me as well.

How does a piece of fabric speak to a heart? Some fashion is just art. Clothes can be the artistic expression of the designer. I Googled Mamatoto, the maker of my Birch Tree Shirt, and didn't find a website. I'm thinking she's too busy sewing to build a website, and that's just fine.

And, of course, beautiful food is an artistic expression as well. On Thursday night, we'd eaten at Dragonfly (Asian-Latin Fusion!), where I'd had the Asia Grill, heaven on earth in the form of grilled veggies. There was some sort of glaze on the grill, however, that was new to me. And even later, Candied Ginger sorbet topped off a pretty perfect day. Nothing like a five-hour drive to really get to know wonderful women!

I came back revitalized and ready for the rest of my summer. As I'm sitting here now in my birch tree shirt, I'm grateful for all those artists–actors, designers, chefs—who make our lives more colorful and delicious.