13 May 2011


I seem to be taking a bit of a vacation from blogging, friends.  There's too much sunshine outside and a few too many things on my to-do list...

Enjoy your weekend and do check back.  We're headed to a much-anticipated family wedding, and I'm sure I'll have something fun to share...

05 May 2011


Last weekend, we made the trek to the other side of town to attend a book signing in honor of Heidi Swanson's beautiful new cookbook.  I won't go on and on about how great the book is--everyone else on the web has already taken care of that.  (Don't believe me?  Trying going here or here or here.)

It is a gorgeous book, and I can't wait to start cooking from it.  As you may have gathered by now, I'm pretty passionate about cooking and eating "real food" and lately, I've been especially interested in the science and nutrition behind all the tasty goodness.  I'm sure that we learned about vitamins and minerals in science class, but science class was a long time ago.  I've definitely had some catching up to do.

I'd like to say that I'm clever enough to come up with delicious, healthy dinner ideas all on my own.  The truth is, I'm hooked on cookbooks.  Especially pretty ones.

Instead of a Friday to-do list, here are a few of the cookbooks--and other books--that have been occupying our kitchen counter lately:

Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair
Nina Planck's Real Food books

I'm also hoping to soon get my hands on Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis and the newest River Cottage cookbook, which I thumbed through at a bookstore a few weeks ago.  I've had the beet hummus recipe stuck in my head ever since.

Do you have a favorite cookbook that you'd like to share?  Let us know in the comments below...

Happy weekend--and happy eating--to you!

P.S.-- If you're in the Seattle area, don't forget that Seattle Tilth's Edible Plant Sale is this weekend.  Brave the rain and join in on the fun!

02 May 2011


Yesterday, on a quick walk through our weekly Farmers Market, I picked up a sweet little reminder from the lovely ladies at Texture.  I love the little canning jars.  And the sentiment, too, of course.

Happy Monday--and a very happy May--to you!

29 April 2011

first thing

I made myself a fancy bowl of oatmeal this morning.  Actually, it was a pretty normal bowl of oatmeal, with the special appearance of strawberries.  I was very excited about this bowl of oatmeal, until I began eating it and suddenly realized that the strawberries tasted like red lumps of nothingness.

Then I remembered why I usually refuse to buy strawberries until they're in-season locally and being sold by the pint at our farmers' market.  No more California-grown supermarket strawberries for me this spring. Blech.

The thing is, I was really trying to get my morning off to a good start.  It's been a bit of a rough stretch at our house lately, and I'm still trying to find the right combination of routine, inspiration, and cautious optimism that will make me feel like a real person again.

The routine--which is a key element of my life--has been kind of hard to hammer out, what with shifting schedules and long, empty stretches of free time.

And the inspiration--which I sometimes find absolutely everywhere--has been coming in wisps and threads lately.  I'm having a hard time finding something that I genuinely want to pour my energy into.  This isn't a new thing for me, although it's been a little more pronounced lately.

Feel free to contact me if you have any advice to share.  Or if you'd like to send me a chocolate cake.  Either would be fine.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get by on a handful of small, pleasant things.  Like having dinner with some dear people tonight.  And venturing out for this tomorrow.  Or maybe that.

While I'm trying to figure out where to take my life next, here's a to-do list to get your weekend going...

Happy weekending to you!

22 April 2011

hens & eggs

There's plenty of holiday to go around this weekend.  With Easter and Earth Day within a few days of each other, there's lots to celebrate.

Easter is a pretty quiet holiday around our house, for any number of reasons.  This year, one of those reasons will be that I'm at work.

I'm still trying to find ways to celebrate, though.  For instance, I was seriously thinking about dyeing some eggs today.  The thing is, the fun part about doing that is decorating lots of eggs, not just, say, half a dozen.  So who's going to eat the twenty-some eggs after I'm finished with them?

Maybe I'll give some eggs away.  Or maybe I won't indulge in the tradition this year.  Maybe I'll just sit around eating jelly beans and Cadbury eggs--my other favorite part of Easter...

If you're celebrating this Sunday, you still have time to finish a few good projects before Easter rolls around.  Here are some of my favorites for you:

As for Earth Day:  No lectures from me today on recycling or using people-friendly cleaning products--I do that every other day of the year.  Instead, here are a few fun things to enjoy while you're counting your planetary blessings:

rockin' chicken coop

Whether you're observing Easter, Earth Day, or the end of Passover, for that matter, I hope your weekend is full of family and joy...

18 April 2011


So I am sick.  Remember when you were little and you were too sick to go to school, so you got to stay home and lay on the couch in your pajamas, wrapped up in blankets, eating popsicles, and watching day-time television for, like, the second time in your short life?

To be honest, I never actually got to do any of those things, but that's exactly what I feel like doing today.  Instead, I'm on my way to work.  It's funny, when I was little, I thought that grown-ups had more control over their lives.

I also thought that Paris was a short swim from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which just goes to show that I was wrong about a lot of things back then.

Hopefully, you're all feeling well, friends.  It's no fun being sick, especially when the sun is shining, the finches are singing, and--oh, right--you have to go work...

Happy Monday.

15 April 2011


I'm coming to this a bit late today.  I'm working through the weekend, so I've been trying to pack as much as I could into my Friday.  My day so far:

two letters written & in the mail
one tiny sewing project finished
one--fruitless--trip to the thrift store
six robins
one hummingbird
one snail
a million spring flowers
three rooms vacuumed
one teeny bowl of ice cream
one phone call to Ohio
one trip to the library
one chocolate lab pup
one gigantic German shepherd
one bag of groceries lugged home
one load of laundry
one batch of granola

I'm planning on getting a little more done before the day ends, and then it'll be time for that whole nose-to-the-grindstone thing.  If you've got a little more free time than I do this weekend, here are a few things to keep you entertained...

Happy weekend to you, friends!

13 April 2011


So here's something fun:  It seems that I'll be doing another Salvage Bride workshop!  May 28th is the day circled on the calendar and the rest of the details are coming together quickly.  If you're in the Seattle Metro area and would like to join us for a morning of crafty wedding talk, stay tuned for more info...

I'm excited to have an excuse to immerse myself in Weddingland once again.  We're quickly approaching our one-year anniversary, but I still haven't totally gotten over my fascination with invites, favors, and fancy table settings.

I hope you'll forgive me if I dabble a bit in wedding talk these next few weeks.  I promise it won't be the only thing on the docket.  And besides, who doesn't love a good party?

11 April 2011


I've got something fun to share with you all, but I need a few more days to work out the details.  Check back Wednesday for the low-down.

Happy Monday!

08 April 2011


Sometimes, I like to look at things that I absolutely cannot have.  Call it wishful thinking, or anything else you want, but this is the reason why I can't walk past Anthropologie without "taking a quick look" and why I always ask to see the dessert menu, even when I'm way too full--or way too poor--to order dessert.

So the other day, I was doing some of this wishful wandering over at Terrain--which frequently features items that would require multiple paychecks for me to purchase.  But then, I was cruising through the first page of the 'new arrivals' and found myself saying, "Hey, I have that."  Twice.

For someone with no ground to garden in, I have an awful lot of gardening tools.  And some things that might be more accurately referred to as "farm implements."  There's a tractor seat on our back porch.  And two chicken feeders.

And, apparently, I'm also the owner of a pair of okubo shears.  Who knew?  I came across these a few years ago at my old job and have been using them to prune herbs ever since.  Terrain says that theirs are made in Japan, and I'm guessing that mine are, too.

As for the other thing, it's a bit of a stretch.  Terrain has some cute little herb snips that are four inches long and kind of pretty.  Mine are over a foot long and too big to use for clipping little bits of oregano.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they were used to shear sheep.

Which is way more interesting than snipping herbs.

The sun is out, so I'm planning on spending some more time sifting through the collections of stuff on the back porch, seeing what other exciting things I've managed to bury under more recent acquisitions.  If you're too organized for anything like that to happen to you, then here are a few other fun things to keep you busy:

olive oil cake to go with the berries

Happy weekend!

01 April 2011


They're tiny--and they're not terribly photogenic--but I'm excited they've come.  The arugula sprouts are here.  These are the first sprouts of the season, and they herald the beginning of a season of fresh greens and backporch harvests.

To be honest, these weren't the very first sprouts of the season.  The first was a little radish that pushed its way out of the soil sometime yesterday morning.  Sadly, the radish sprout was stolen by a small, furry thief.  Thus begins my annual battle with the squirrels.  My tactics involve lots of physical barriers accompanied by occasional bursts of hollering.

I think the fencing might be more effective.

Fortunately, once the little seedlings have gotten big enough that they can't be harvested in one small snack, I can take down all the ugly chicken wire and old window screens that have become my last line of defense...

My weekend plans involve making granola, baking some more bread, and working on a secret project that I'm hoping to unveil in the next week or so.  If you're looking for something new to do, here are a few fun things for you:

Happy weekend to you!

28 March 2011


On my garden chore list for the weekend was dividing the "hens and chicks" that have been populating--and overpopulating--one of the planters at our front door.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a "before" picture, but let me assure you, these little succulents were growing all over the place, including on top of each other.

In short, they needed more space.  I pulled out some of the worst offenders and gave them pots of their own.  Everyone seems to be getting along a bit better now.

I love succulents and I've written about them before.  They're beautiful, versatile, and they put up with my particular brand of garden care, which I'll broadly term "attentive negligence."

If you're interested in learning more about the "proper way" to divide succulents, i.e. not exactly how I did it, here's a short little video from Sunset that should give you enough confidence to tackle your own.

Happy Monday to you!

25 March 2011


We've had several days of sun and blue skies here in the Emerald City, and I'd like to think I've taken full advantage of it.  I've planted pots of arugula, radishes, calendula, garlic chives, plain old chives, nigella, and peas.

I also shoveled and sifted about three cubic feet of compost from one of our backporch bins.  Since there aren't many macro- or micro-organisms living in the potting soil I use in my containers, I try to introduce as much "real" life as possible by adding lots of fresh compost each spring.  Sometimes that means hauling bags of commercially-made stuff up our back stairs, but this year, our little home composting operation has generated more than enough to get the season started.

Today is shaping up to be another gorgeous one, which means it's probably time for me to go back outside.  If gardening is on your to-do list for the weekend, here's some green inspiration for you:

Happy gardening--or garden-dreaming--this weekend!

21 March 2011


Now that the first day of spring has officially arrived, the glorious blue skies we've been enjoying all weekend have turned gray with clouds that promise rain by mid-afternoon.

Which sounds about right for spring in Seattle.

I have plans for this season.  Mostly my plans involve being outside.  For one thing, I'm long overdue to get back to the Children's Garden.  I've also got some gardening of my own to do here at home.  Now that I've given up my little community garden plot, I'm back to growing food in containers on our funny little back porch.  Right now, things back there are looking pretty bleak.

Obviously, I have some work to do...

As you're welcoming spring today, I thought you might enjoy this little snippet from SouleMama.  It certainly brightened my morning, in spite of the clouds.

18 March 2011


Our house is full of stuff.  Mostly good stuff, like cool books and neat-looking vintage-y pieces and lots and lots of yarn.  Recently, though, it's come to our attention that we officially have Too Much Stuff.  Now my man and I are working on doing some serious cleaning and purging.

I think he might be doing a better job than I am.

The thing is, I like having lots of stuff around.  I've been a collector of stuff ever since I was small.  Coins, old art school assignments, pages torn from magazines, and mementoes from gumball machines all got squirreled away into boxes, my closet, and the infinite space under my bed.

I think the truth isn't that I'm so fond of keeping things, but more that I hate getting rid of them.  Once you throw something away, or recycle it, or give it to Goodwill, there's no going back.  What if you wish that you had that thing back later?  Or what if the memories that were all wrapped around and tangled up in that thing disappear once you don't have the thing anymore?

It's nerve-wracking, I tell you.

My man has suggested that rather than focusing on getting rid of stuff, maybe I could just put some energy into organizing the things I have.

Which is a very nice idea.

Maybe I'll start in on that next weekend.

If you aren't stuck cleaning--or "organizing"--this weekend, here are a few things to keep you busy:

Wishing you all a peaceful weekend...

11 March 2011


No real post today, dear readers.  Thanks for understanding.  Have a beautiful weekend!

07 March 2011


Springtime has found us.  Happy spring to you!

04 March 2011


My favorite part of a project--any project--is finishing it.  I love the moment that dinner is ready, that the second sock is finished, that the last room of the house is vacuumed.  Why is it, then, that I am so incredibly pokey about putting the final touches on my knitting projects?  I can spend three days knitting something and then three weeks sewing in the ends.  I've had a baby sweater in my possession that's been off the needles for at least two years but is still waiting for a button--one button!--to be added.

This week, I've resolved to finish all of my unfinished projects, to pack away the little things that I'm "saving for later," to stow the needles and yarn that are drifting across my craft table, and to up the ante on my moth-proofing efforts.

I know.  I'm incredibly ambitious.  I tend to set high goals and then quit half-way through.  It does seem to help me, though, when I start small.

So this time, I started with buttons.

These two little hats are both from Hadley Fierlinger's Vintage Knits for Modern Babies.  The one on the right is the Vintage Pixie Cap, which is sweet enough, I guess.  On the left, though, is the Modern Baby Bonnet.  I fully intend to make several more of these, just so I can revel in the alchemy of the back shaping.

I did them both in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which is very nice to work with--and machine-washable.  I'm going to try the Modern Baby Bonnet in a wool/cotton blend next.  It won't be as soft, but   I picked up the yarn for practically nothing and I think it might make for a nice summer weight.

Please note the recently-added buttons:

I'm sure the hats would both look better on a  real live baby.  I worked with what I had.  The model didn't mind the hats but was not remotely interested in the buttons.

Thanks for indulging my show-and-tell.  I promise, dear readers, that next week's posts will knitting-free.  In the meantime, here are a few nice things to get your weekend started:

Have a lovely weekend!

28 February 2011

for later

I've mentioned before my affinity for knitting small things.  To begin with, the scale is nothing short of adorable.  And little projects are finished quickly.  There's no time for me to get distracted.  And since the time investment isn't a big one, I can plow through confusion or frustration or technical challenges because the prospect of starting over isn't really that terrifying.  And besides, things usually work out in the end.

The sweater is the Baby Bolero from Leigh Radford's One Skein.  I've had the pattern--and the yarn--stashed away for awhile.  This is actually the second time I've made this sweater, and to be honest, I think it came out much better this time around.  The pattern calls for a lot of picking up stitches and sewing seams--two things that I am not incredibly good at.  I'd like to think I'm improving, though; maybe the practice is paying off.

Now that the project is off the needles, lightly blocked, and dry, I guess it's time to pack it up and put it away.  I'm not sure what I'm saving it for.  I've tried to resist the idea that I'm knitting for some imaginary baby in our future.  It seems better to keep my options open.  It would make a great gift, for instance, for someone else down the line.

I still really want to keep it.

I'll be finishing up a few other small things in the next few days.  Maybe I'll have some photos to share later in the week...

21 February 2011


It's hard to believe, but today is the one-year anniversary of my very first post here at the Sparrow.  Sometimes it feels like it was ages ago, but other times, it seems like just yesterday.

Lots has happened in the past year, on this blog and in our lives.  I can't begin to guess what the next year will bring, but experience has taught me that some of it will be good, some bad, and most of it will remain unimaginable until it actually happens.

I want to thank you all for visiting this space.  I love being able to share projects and ideas with you.  Please don't think I'm being melodramatic if I say that occasionally, you're the reason I get up in the morning.

There will be a few changes coming to the Sparrow, soon.  Nothing scary, I promise.  I've got another plan up my sleeve, too, but I'll keep that a secret, for now.  In the meantime, I pledge to return to a regular posting schedule and a few little tweaks, here and there.

I hope you'll help celebrate this blog birthday with me by sharing in the comments below.  If you're a lurker--and you know who you are--consider being a follower.  If you're a follower, I hope you'll think about sharing the Stubborn Sparrow with your friends.

I wish I could share cupcakes with you all, but if you feel like hosting a little party of your own, here's a doozy of a recipe for you.

A hearty thanks to all of you!  Happy Monday!

18 February 2011


I've been making lots of trips to the thrift store lately, and mostly, I've been coming home empty-handed.  I'd like to think this is because I'm becoming incredibly choosy about what I bring home.  It's more likely, though, that our neighborhood Goodwill has become a little too popular and picked-over.

I did manage to snag a cute kid-sized quilt the other day, though, and while it's a little kitchsy in a Seventies sort of way, it has the handmade charm of something that someone worked hard on.  And besides--I kind of like kitsch.

Especially when it comes with a Holly Hobbie print for the backing.

There are a few repairs to make, but I think they're things that even a novice like me can handle.   Besides it will give me some more practice before I start tackling a quilt of my own.

I've got knitting on my to-do list for the weekend, though.  And pizza-making.  And Girl Scout Cookie-eating.  And maybe some laundry-doing.

Or maybe not.

The weather forecast in these parts is looking pretty dreary.  If you're like me and looking for some color and excitement, here are a few sweet things for your weekend:

confetti packaging via Oh Joy!
and oh my gosh can you believe there's a new wedding line from the Anthro folks?

Happy weekend to you!

14 February 2011


Wishing you a love-filled day!

11 February 2011


I'm one of those girls who used to go around telling boys that she didn't believe in Valentine's Day--and then would have her feelings terribly hurt when those boys didn't do anything special for her in honor of the occasion.  I'd like to think that I've gotten better about this in recent years.

Along with improving my communication skills, I've also started celebrating Valentine's Day as less of a romantic Hallmark moment and more of a general celebration of love and friendship.  As someone said to me the other day, "Don't we all need more love in our lives?"

Yes.  Yes, we do.

My man and I are planning a pretty low-key evening.  At the rate things are going, we'll probably be having this for dinner.  And in what is becoming an annual tradition at our house, there will be some of this for dessert.

I don't know that our celebration will include much handmade detail this year.  I certainly don't have anything like this up my sleeve.  I think that's okay, though.  I'm still getting the hang of this whole marriage thing, but if I'm understanding it right, you don't need lots of drama and fireworks to make something special.  You just need each other.

I am a sap.

If you're a sap, too--or just a sucker for a good holiday--here are some last-minute ways to make your Valentine smile:

Have a lovely weekend!

04 February 2011


I know.  I said I was going to start sewing.  And, for the record, I did use the sewing machine for several hours last weekend, making strange little sewing machine messes.  I had a relatively good time and was much less intimidated by the machine than I'd thought I'd be.  In the end, though, I didn't have much to show for my efforts.

So I've gone back to my "safe place."  I'm back to knitting.  I haven't quit the sewing, I promise.  I think just need to spend some time working on things that I'm already comfortable with.  Like yarn.

This particular yarn is something I've been hoarding for some time.  It's from a fiber farm in Connecticut--you can view their Etsy shop here--and I got a skein of it as a gift from my dear sister-in-law a few Christmases ago.  It's handspun alpaca and incredibly soft.  The best part about the yarn, though, might be that it came packaged with photographs of the two alpacas that the fiber came from.

I used a little bit of the yarn last summer to make a tiny pair of baby mittens.  Last week, I picked up what was left over and decided that the little bundle would make a sweet little pair of baby socks.

My fallback sock pattern is from an ancient issues of Martha Stewart Living.  Fortunately, for people who don't have mountains of back issues lying around the house, it's also available on-line.  Yes, I know the pattern says it's for Christmas stockings, but if you look closer, there are also instructions for a women's medium sock and a teeny tiny baby sock.  It's a very straight-forward pattern, and if you're a knitter who's never tried socks before, I'd certainly recommend it.

The pretty alpaca I used is more of a sport-weight than a fingering weight, which means that the socks aren't really newborn-sized.  In fact, they're almost toddler-sized.  Now, all I have to do is find someone with a toddler who would like a pair of beautiful, soft, and--ahem--handwash only socks.

With the socks finished, I'm trying to decide what to do with the rest of my weekend.  If you're in the same boat--or just wish you had more time than you knew what to do with--here are some fun things for your weekend:

finally--someone to do all the cake-eating for you
gorgeous vintages textiles via design*sponge

Happy weekend to you!

28 January 2011


So here's the thing:  I've kind of been holding out on you guys.  This fancy new sewing machine showed up at our house over a week ago, and I haven't mentioned it once.  Maybe that's because I still haven't gotten up the nerve to do anything but fill a bobbin and thread the needle.  I think I wanted to do something amazing with the machine and then tell you about it.  I'm realizing now, though, that I really just need to turn the darned thing on and get comfortable with it.

I think this is the weekend for it.  The weekend forecast is rain and I don't have anything better to do.  Besides, if I don't get to work, my partner-in-crime might sweep in and start sewing up a storm, and then I'll just be jealous.  I have to admit, he is more mechanically-inclined than I am, and whether I like it or not, a sewing machine is--by definition--a machine.

A machine that I intend to master.

If you haven't already decided which project to tackle this weekend, here are a few ideas to get you started:

a coaster-making video tutorial featuring Lotta J's lovely accent
something adorable to inspire your imagination

24 January 2011


When I said I was going to make another doll, I don't think I meant I'd make it right away.  Most of my other projects--knitting, baking, etc.--haven't seemed that appealing, though, and the other day I got it in my head that I could make something like this.

I started with the pattern from this Martha Stewart article, but ending up tweaking it a few times.  I didn't want the hassle of little hands and feet--not right away, at least, and I didn't think I was ready to deal with attaching hair.  Besides, I wanted one of those sweet little stocking caps.

My little prototype needs some work.  For one thing, he's almost too tiny to play with--less than five inches from head to tail.  I'll make the next one bigger, for sure.  Also, I can definitely do a better job of attaching the head and neck.  And I'd like the next little lump of fabric to have more personality.  Maybe I'll give this one some little embroidered eyes.  That would make a difference, I think.

The stitches are good, though.  I've never been a good seamstress, and it makes me feel better to realize that the more hand stitching I do, the more comfortable I get.  It might be time, though, to take a deep breath and start trying to brave the sewing machine.

Soon.  I'll try it soon.

18 January 2011

small wonder

I don't think I've been incredibly productive lately.  With that in mind, even minor achievements seem incredibly important.  Among those small victories--poaching an egg for the first time, rediscovering the surface of my craft table--this little lady is a real coup.

The last time you saw her, she was just a scattering of pattern pieces from Hillary Lang's Wee Wonderfuls.  Now, she's a doll.  My first doll.  And while she's certainly not perfect, I'm pretty sure she won't be my last.

I did all of the work with hand stitching, which seems a little extreme, in retrospect.  Also, I used cheap acrylic felt, mostly because I was convinced that I needed more practice before committing to "real" wool felt.  Now I wish I'd just taken the plunge...

Hillary's pattern is called Tag-a-Long Doll.  While that name seems nice enough, I've decided to call the doll Girl Scout, which reminds me of several nice things.  Including cookies.

I'll admit, I'm not sure what to do with her next.  I don't really know anyone who needs a doll right now. Maybe I'll just put her away for awhile until someone comes along.  I'm sure she can wait until then.  She looks like a patient doll.  Don't you think?