New Years Eve

December 31, 2010

Tonight, instead of dressing up and drinking champagne and dancing with my friends and lover, I am alone by the fire. It took hours to make the decision not to go. It took half the day. There was nothing in me that felt festive and yet the desire to participate and belong was so strong that I changed in and out of four different party outfits before surrendering, once and for all, to my flannels. Go Luke, go Sarah, you have the sparkle tonight.
Later, when the shouts and hoots and whooooos from outside had died down I opened my journal to the goals I set for myself this time last year. Most of them centered on grounding myself which has been a theme for years now. Partnership, friendships, gardening, animals, health.
My goals for the new year are more outwardly focused. Work, wealth, accomplishments, maturity, commitment, and an expanded definition of who I am and what my impact will be. I’m glad I stayed in. I was able to sharpen those goals, in silence and alone, so that I am clear about what I really want. Sober, pointed, directed, determined but with the grace and ability of a grown woman.

Cold

December 30, 2010

My first day back in Portland. It is 35 degrees outside and the house is in disarray. We hosted a Reggae Xmas party days before leaving for Santa Cruz. The living room is still emptied of furniture and oversized speakers loom silently in the corner. Agh. I am struggling a bit. Santa Cruz was warm. It was easy. I could blast the heat or eat the whole avocado without hesitation. I could expect a balanced delicious meal to be set before me at 6:30. I could sleep knowing my Dad was just upstairs and would protect me from all harm. But here…, in Portland,… I am the adult. I am the one who pays the heating bill and cooks and assures the chickens and Bello and even my younger housemates, that we are safe from harm. I am responsible for cleaning the house and organizing my studio and applying for health insurance and securing a home loan and answering calls and emails and designing and sculpting and applying for that waitress job to make ends meet. I welcome the weight. I don’t want to stay a child and rely on others but right now it just doesn’t feel very good. I don’t feel very good. I want to stay in bed with Bello, tuck my head under the covers and wake up to a new year and a new mood.

Marching

December 26, 2010

Hiking has emerged as the dominant activity this Winter. Luke and I get out at least once a week and I actually feel a difference in the way I move through the landscape. I am in hiking shape. Which basically means I don’t slow on the hills. Santa Cruz offers so many easy and swift opportunities to get out in nature. Every morning my Dad, Bonnie, me and Bello pile into the little white truck and drive 3 minutes to their neighborhood trailhead. 3 minutes! Once there we do one forward fold to loosen up, strap on the totally nerdy but fun walking sticks and speed up the mountain. On my birthday I want to spend the bulk of the day outside where I can look down at my marching feet and sort out my past or look up to the sky, to the birds, to the towering California Bay Laurels and dream of my future.

Not Oregon

December 23, 2010

The sun!
Despite a sketchy drive down in which we got stuck in a snowstorm on Grants Pass for an hour and a half, were greeted by lightning storms in the Sacramento Valley, and finished up with flooding rain and gusty winds, since arriving we have seen nothing but sun! Talk about blind baby moles being pulled from their nest! Luke and I are clearly out of place with our dark colors, pale skin and squinty eyes. Essentially we are tourists. Out of step. Not down with local fashion. No sandals, no sunglasses. Out of towners unafraid to exclaim joyfully “It’s sunny!” as if this is news. Hell Bro, it’s Cali. Folks are not here for the arts, for the affordable housing or the social services. They’re here because this is what it looks like on the Winter Solstice. Dude. Seriously.

Reggae X-Mas

December 20, 2010

In general, I have no complaints abut being self-employed. I do however, have a small regret… and that is that come x-mas time I don’t have a holiday office party to look forward to. You know, the kind of event where you look prettier than usual and perhaps drink a bit too much and end up making a fool of yourself in front of people you will have to see, sober and under florescent lights, on Monday. SO… we threw our own little theme appropriate holiday party this year. For all the “hard-working”, shoulder to the grind-stone Portlanders, it’s time to finally unwind.
Michael May and four hours of rock steady.

Squash Etc.

December 19, 2010

This was the winter of the great squash carve-up. I have eaten squash for two out of three meals everyday for over two weeks. And I have set myself up for continuing to eat squash when I return to Portland from Santa Cruz. Frozen delicacies await me. Including the latest, and tastiest, item on the menu… homemade veggie burgers. I made two types; black beans, roasted butternut squash, celery and onions and the one pictured above; rice, roasted butternut squash, mushroom, celery, onion. I cooked a black beaner today and oh my god. Just so good.
This blog has always veered off the fashion track but with two food posts in a row, I am starting to feel self-conscious. Because I am a bit obsessed.Food blogs have replaced The Sartorialist and my hands look more like the instruments of a cook than a designer. I spend many hours a day at the stove and have browned fingertips and a constellation of burns on my right hand to prove it.
I am not a woman of moderation. Despite loving balance, I don’t seem to create it. I am single tracked. But the result is so satisfying, so pleasing, so tasty, that I don’t want to stop. Until the next thing comes along.

Gnocchi

December 17, 2010

Homemade!

Oh Ladies

December 17, 2010

The holidays sneaked up on me. I am leaving for Santa Cruz on Sunday! This week was the last chance to invite folks over for an old fashioned try-on of the Fall Collection. So, with two days noticed, I sent out word- come one and all. I will make squash flan for you! And they came. Half-dressed warm relaxed bodies filled the house. It felt more like a family gathering than a commercial offering. Which, of course, is my preferred environment. And the flan you ask, how did it turn out? Well, I spoke before I had done my research, which in this case meant reading the entire recipe. It turns out I am not yet confidant enough to tackle an advanced dish. Ramekins! Double Boilers! And our oven has one setting and that is 500 degrees. The Moroccan stew pot was empty at the end of night and nobody seemed to notice the menu substitution. Except Luke who is still asking for flan.

Snapshot

December 13, 2010

I leave for Santa Cruz in less than a week. Gosh, that town is like the ultimate on-again / off-again flame. Everytime I think I am over him I catch myself fantasizing about him once again. I love remembering his smell, his shape, the way I feel when I am near him… But these are curated memories and more importantly, the way he felt then matched the way I felt then. But this is now. And so I force myself to also remember his expensive tastes, his bro attitude and questionable style, his love of wave themed restaurants… so that I realize he was more complicated than I care to admit, and I was more simple than I am now.
And still, knowing all of this, I am excited to see him again.

No Socks

December 12, 2010

Two nights ago I was crawling into bed, sick with fever, rain hitting the window above my head, when Josh called. He left a message, “just sayin hi, out workin in the yard with Piglet, hope you are well…”
I had two thoughts. One was that I would not take Piglet next time I was in Santa Cruz like I planned. It is warmer there. It is more social. And Josh loves her, possibly more than I realized.
My second thought, and one that has been sitting with me for the last couple of days, is that I also want to work in the yard at night in December. Ducks are not the only ones that enjoy an easy climate. The cold is hard for me this year. I have been sick twice and it is not yet officially winter. It gets dark at 4pm. And I hate wearing socks.
Remember when we didn’t wear socks and it looked so good?

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

December 12, 2010

It looked like a day for pajamas. Or at least sweats. Until I got a call from the farm stand saying they had a box of squash waiting for me- for cheap! Okay Bello, put some pants on, lets go. I picked up a 15lb box of butternut, 12 kobucha, and 7 acorn squashes plus 5 bunches of kale, 3 parsley, 6 onions, 2 celeriac roots and a bunch of beets. I have happily spent the last 5 hours prepping the squash for roasting and refrigerated storage. In the coming week I plan on making a squash gratin and a squash flan! And soup and baked wedges to be eaten with aioli. Everything with aioli!

Dear Santa

December 11, 2010

My niece wrote a letter to Santa. Right, I like where she is going with this…
Okay then,
Dear Santa,
I think I have been pretty good this year. I could have been better. Next year I will be amazing!
For X-mas I would like…
Love. Maybe this doesn’t involve you…
A yoga mat- the thin kind made by Jade.
To live in Europe… at some point. Maybe I should put this on next year’s list.
An immersion blender. But I think Bonnie has this one covered.
Littler thighs. I know you might not relate.
Big pots for house plants.
A big house for plants.
Echo.

Ill

December 11, 2010

The day of our photoshoot was the day it happened. Syke was just getting sick, a little stuffed up, some coughing, but we didn’t let it bother us. To keep her warm we turned on the heat and the steamer. The room was warm and wet and the perfect germ incubator. I love the photos but I’m paying the price. So sick. Achy body, prickly skin, cold, feverish, congested, coughing, puffy red eyes and unable to smell or taste anything. This is the worst part. No amount of neti potting, rosemary vapor sniffing, emergen-c drinking seems to help. And yet, despite my handicaps, all I want to do is cook. Last night I served garbanzo beans simmered in tomatoes, ginger and coriander and baked squash with homemade aioli sauce. I thought the dish lacked flavor but my guests vehemently disagreed. Today, before we departed for a round of x-mas shopping, I made Luke and I sugar-free hot chocolate with cayenne, ginger and nutmeg. A taste test by Sarah resulted in near gagging and an inability to physically handle the spice. I drank it right down. The final test came tonight. I am home alone and puttering in the kitchen. I roasted chicken drumsticks and wings and added them to a white bean soup. Except that I burned the beans while I stood at the stove with them. Didn’t smell a thing. Same with the sweet potatoes unhappily roasting to death in the oven at my hip. Meanwhile I attempted a mint-cilantro chutney with no idea how it came out except that the jalapeno I added seems to be pretty hot. My mouth and hands wont stop burning. Enough. Out of the kitchen.
Oh please let me feel better tomorrow. I have grand plans for the apples I’m picking up at the last Farmer’s Market of the year. It has been two days and already I really miss knowing food.

Allison

December 10, 2010

Hire this woman! She’s magical! She is a wonder behind the camera and an absolute, to the max, pleasure to work with.

Photoshoot

December 9, 2010

Yesterday we shot the Spring 2011 collection. The photographer was Allison, my good friend and the genius behind last fall’s beautiful shots. And the model was Skye, my new friend and the gorgeous woman from last fall’s beautiful shots. Why mess with a good thing? We met at 9am at my house. I cleared the room and changed the season by pumping up the heat and running the steamer to create humidity and sensuality. It might be the middle of winter and raining outside but you wouldn’t know it from our point of view. We had damp necks and frizzy hair, we had water droplets on the ceiling, we clouded up the windows and took some really amazing photographs.
It has been six months since where last worked together and I think the photographs show how each of us has matured and improved.
The collection will be available for public viewing on March 15th, 2011.

Daytime Wintertime

December 4, 2010

It is consistently in the low forties and raining + our house is not insulated + we are broke= a cord of wood and a daily fire.
But daytime fires feel weird. I am from California where daytime fires are never needed and only occur on special occasions like a Sunday afternoon Forty-Niners game or Christmas morning.

Community Eating

December 3, 2010

My friend Holley participates in a tradition that I love. Seven families share a meal on Friday night. The host prepares everything- buys all the food and does all the cooking. This is not a potluck kinda deal, this is a balanced, well planned meal. But because there are seven participant houses, it feels totally okay to take sole responsibility for a dinner every six weeks. In fact, by the time it is your turn, you are excited to impresses and feed folks that have cared for you for the past month and a half. Kids of all ages run around, parents get tipsy, and everyone feels connected.
My life is too busy for that exact scenario and it would be hard to get all of my loved ones to commit to a dinner every week. But we do have a tradition established by the Shaver House in which we gather for a community dinner once a month. And yes it is potluck style but again, you work with what you have. The Shaver House potluck is reliable and well presented. Azure, matriarch of the house, sends out an e-mail reminder a couple of days before the 1st Wednesday of the month. And every month I don’t expect it and would have forgotten to attend. Every month I go and am warmed by the food, the drink and the conversation. But mostly by the routine. It feels like Sunday dinner at the parents and for most of us whose families are far away, traditions like this remind us of the importance of linking arms and staying close.

Red Belt

December 3, 2010

Luke, close your ears.

Everyone, meet my new boyfriend.

Ship

December 2, 2010

Fall 2010. This is the collection that did not give a shit about timelines and deadlines. It took twice as long to complete (my fault). And twice as long to produce (their fault). I am happy to take responsibility for my faults because I understand that my decisions were made with either the good of the collection in mind, or the good of my life in mind. I am extremely adverse to taking responsibility for the actions of those I depend on- the fabric supplier, the pattern grader, the manufacturer, and the shipping company. A delay or mistake can cause the whole system to breakdown. I was ignored for months by the fabric supplier (Hello Michael? This is Emily AGAIN. Please ship my order!!!), disregarded by the grader (Hello Daniel? This is Emily AGAIN, Please complete my order!!!), and scared out of my wits by two boxes lost in the void of UPS holiday deliveries (they were found, they were found). And they were shipped. Boxes of beautiful clothes were sent on Monday. Sent to stores far and wide, delivered on foot to stores close and dear. And suddenly I feel a weight lift. A weight that, since September 1st, had nestled around my shoulders and insidiously whispered in my ear… you are not good at this, you are letting everyone down, you are a disappointment. At last I am free of judgement and happy to send an impressive collection into the world.

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