Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I don't want God's forgiveness....I want YOURS

The above song came on while I was sewing and kind of took me aback. If you know me very well, you know the whole idea of a personal relationship with God just hasn't worked for me and not for lack of trying. So these kinds of songs can potentially really drive me nuts. It's these songs that when I really, really wanted nothing more than to have a relationship with Jesus, got me all choked up and my chest all tight and full of longing. It was disappointing and painful to not find that relationship that I wanted so much. So hearing songs like this one can kind of sock me in the gut the way listening to an old song you associate with a past relationship gone bad can do.

But today I was too lazy to get up from the sewing machine and pass the song so I listened to it. I heard something different this time. Instead of hearing it as a song about how God overlooks my mistakes and sees past them (I could write a book about why this feels like bullshit, but that's not this post), I heard it in a much more meaningful way. The song wasn't about God at all today. It was about my husband. My friends. It was about the people who, despite the mistakes I've made and despite the pain I've caused, love me.

Instead I heard this (I've changed some words and set them in red):

Well the past is playing with my head

And failure knocks me down again
I’m reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just wont let me forget

In this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
Cause I’m forgiven

My mistakes are running through my mind
And I’ll relive my days, in the middle of the night
When I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride
Sometimes I feel alone, and I cry

In this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

[back to chorus]

When I don't fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere
When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of [James, Belinda, Pat, Vicki, Brian, Laura, etc.] 

[back to chorus]

Listen to the song again and insert the name of someone you know loves you 100% unconditionally. Imagine those arms being where you "know who you are." I don't know about you, but it means so much more to be the treasure in the arms of my husband, especially after the year we have just gone through, than to be a treasure in the arms of Christ.When I'm in pain, it's not God's arms around me...it's those who love and accept me. When I feel rejected, judged and most of all, misunderstood, being able to be really SEEN by even one person is huge.

The point is...this is what love feels like:
-To be more you in the arms of the other than out of them.
-To be seen, really seen...and loved because of that.
-To look into the eyes of the other and see that they TREASURE you.
-To be forgiven. And that means more than, "It's o.k." It means they look past your mistakes to the person they know you ARE and they don't define you by your mistakes.

Why is it that Christians talk so much about God feeling those things for us, and so little about us loving others that way? Being loved that way? I'm not saying I have a problem with others talking about God loving me that way, but I do have a problem if the person saying it to me isn't loving me that way themselves. As a Christian I did a lot of this. I would love people in this lazy "third party" way, essentially referring them, their pain and their longings TO God. Instead of bear-hugging them or taking them home for dinner, I'd tell them I'd be praying for them.

And that's pretty insane. If my daughter comes to me in tears and says, "Nobody loves me. I feel like I don't fit in. I hurt," I am not going to give her the therapist's phone number. I'm not going to tell her to go talk to her daddy. I'm not even going to tell her to go read the Bible and think about how much God loves her. I'm going to wrap that little girl up in my arms and not let go until I have done everything in my power to make sure she "gets" just how fantastic she is and how much I love her.

Maybe Christian musical artists would do better to stop singing about God's love all the time and start singing about loving others. Isn't that who Jesus was anyway? He didn't walk around asking to be loved and saying he loved people. He walked around and LOVED. He met needs. He spoke comfort. He touched people. He loved them with his heart, his mind, his hands, his face and his voice. It's the whole "becoming flesh and dwelling among us" business, right?

Let's talk more about THAT. Let's talk about how to love. Let's talk about what kind of love we long for. That's HOW we will know how to love others. If your someone who does experience God's love as real, that's awesome. Maybe you can try to keep in mind that there are people like me for whom words about God loving me just fall flat. I don't want words. I want hands that reach for me, arms that hold me and eyes that light up when they see me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Boy of Four

Dear Andrew,

Today my "baby" is turning four. I can hardly believe it! It's a little bitter-sweet that you're not a baby anymore but you are turning into such a wonderful little boy and I'm so proud to be your mama.

Thinking about the last four years, there are so many wonderful memories with you in it. You're my sweetheart, the love of my life and my little man. I love your big, brown eyes. I love your mischievous smile. I love the way you tell me you love me constantly and sing "Hey, I'll be gone today, but I'll be back around the way...it seems like everywhere I go, the more I see, the less I know...but I know one thing...that I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you" and dance around like a crazy person. I love your crazy break-dancing we don't know how you learned. I love the way you look when you are asleep. I love to watch you drawing, digging in the dirt and torturing your sisters. I love the way you hold my hand when we walk someplace. I love your sweet kisses. I love your chubby hugs.

I adore you, Drewbie.

Here are just a few memories from the last few years of birthdays....

This one is just hours before you were in my arms for the first time. You were huge!
Brand-New you with my daddy, Pee-Paw, who delivered you...

You turning ONE and trying cake for the first time...

You turning TWO...

Also turning TWO...getting your fire engine. You were just a LITTLE bit excited!

My big THREE-year-old...
And now...you're FOUR.
Mama loves you so much, sweetie. I'm the luckiest Mama in the world. I'm looking forward to spending this next year with my little man.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy...


New Corset Cushion..."Eliza"

Find the "Eliza Corset Cushion" HERE
Made from actual corsets, each of our Boudoir Cushions are decadent, one-of-a-kind creations. Filled with our signature combination of the best pillow-fill and the most beautifully aromatic dried French lavender we can find, this cushion will add beauty, as well as a subtle romantic scent, to your boudoir or parlor.

The Eliza Boudoir Cushion you are considering in this auction is fashioned from a mattelasse-style champagne corset that is dripping with Belgian lace. Gorgeous champagne ribbons lace this cushion up in the back and tiny hooks close up the front.

The Marie Antoinette sachet you see in the photos is available in our other listings. The others items you see are not for sale at this time. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Shaddaim" (A God with Breasts)

Brown. I am falling into a deep chocolate brown.  
Brown, yes, but somehow different than any other brown I have ever seen. It is almost as if it is the first color my eyes have ever beheld. Perhaps it is.
It is a deep color, a three-, or possibly three-hundred- dimensional color, something more alive and more real than any of the browns in my life: the bark of the oak tree in the middle of our yard in Clovis, the coat of my grandmother’s dachshund, Shautzie, the brown of my daughter's hair, still damp from birth, or the leathery skin of our housemaid, Mantuya, in Papua New Guinea. Those were brown and this is....somehow different.
I am mesmerized. I would be happy to see only one color forever, if it could be this color.

I feel myself being pulled and tugged, as if a rope is tied to my heart and the brown is holding the other side. I give in, letting myself be drawn I know not where by the invisible rope. As my skin, my bones, my mind and even my soul, are moved by this unseen force, I am filled with a feeling that can only be described as pure, ultimate joy. It is the feeling of finally moving in the direction I have always tried to move in but could never quite find the door to. It is the feeling of an aching need that has been as part of me as my own flesh being finally fulfilled more exquisitely than I could ever have imagined. I am not fighting. I am joyfully going where I am being taken, with every fiber of my being. It is a feeling of falling, deliciously, into joy.

And then I land. I am in The Brown. The Brown is all around me, enfolding me and caressing me. I have never known this deep, brown joy. I never even dreamed it. I spread my arms, my legs, my mouth, my pores in a joyous acceptance of The Brown. I drink it, eat it, breathe it in, spread it all over my skin and then turn my body around and around in it. I am wanting to be full of this Brown. A warmth fills me as every cell of my body willingly absorbs The Brown.

Now I realize: this has been my only unfulfilled desire. I thought I desired so many things, but now that I am here in this moment, I realize those desires were really only one. And here I am, being utterly satisfied. Every moment in The Brown is more lovely than the last, and as my heart and mind embrace the multi-dimensions of this realization, it is as though my capacity to desire grows. I desire more; it is fulfilled. I desire even more; it is fulfilled. I am fuller and fuller, yet I know I can never be too full. I know now what in some part of myself I have always known: Joy is The Brown; The Brown is Joy.

And then from The Brown, comes a voice. Not like any noise I have ever heard, but like every noise I have ever heart, all at once. My body responds without my mind willing it to. It turns of its own volition, toward the voice and moves toward it. My eyes strain, for in that voice was a call to look, and of course I must do just that. My body is full of eyes, it seems, all of them, looking, looking. I will know when I see what I am looking for. My ears were made to hear this sound and I have been, without knowing, straining to hear this voice all my life. Now, suddenly, it is close. It’s so close I can almost touch it, taste it and hold it.

And then it is here….right here. It was there all along, I realize, but my ears were not ready until this moment. My eyes didn't know how to see until this moment. They dance: here is what they were made to see. A feeling of deep knowing overtakes me, temporarily banishing all other thoughts and I can not help but weep with the emotion of it. Through my tears, I see the source of that voice. I see The Brown. I know what it is, and I remember that this is not the first time my eyes have seen this sight, after all. It was this memory, almost forgotten, that drove me on for a lifetime. And it has all been leading up to this….

Oh! I realize all of life was a wall with little cracks through which, every once in awhile, I could see bits of this. I remember seeing those cracks in the beauty of a sunset on Nissan Island, reflected in the pink, purple and orange waves. I saw a corner of this in the face of my newborn sister as she took her first breath. I saw a speck of it in a friend’s artwork, the colors and shapes mixing and meeting in a way that touched something deep inside of me.

I see Her.

The voice was Her voice. The Brown was her eyes - deep, dark eyes. Each second, more of her comes into focus. Everything makes sense, fits perfectly, and seems so achingly, beautifully familiar, more familiar than my own body.

My eyes drink in this beauty, but they can't keep up. My eyes seem to see in slower motion than the beauty is growing. Every nerve in my body responds to Her, moves toward her Brown, breathes Her in and is breathed in by Her. I realize that I am becoming lost in her at the same time that I am becoming more real, more solid, more alive than I have ever been.

Then I look deeper into the eyes. This is The Brown I saw first. This is what pulled me as surely as a magnet. This is what has always been pulling me. I gaze deeply, unblinking, into a pool of something both strange and familiar. Where have I seen those eyes before? I can not remember, but I know that I have seen these eyes, as surely as I know this is the first time I have seen them. This is not a contradiction. Both are somehow equally true, equally real.

I realize that she is looking at me. I relax, burn and become in her gaze. This is what I have always longed for: to be looked full in the face and to feel that I am understood completely, not loved in spite of that understanding, but because of it.

The Brown is love. Just as this Brown is different but truer than any brown I have known, so this love I see, feel, and know, coming from her eyes is different and true. I feel it settling into me, but it feels like a new feeling. As if I've gained a seventh sense.
I know even as I feel this love that without it I would never be happy or content again, yet I find within myself no fear at all. I have never known a love without fear. Love and fear are two sides of the same coin in my world. To love is to risk losing, to risk being betrayed, hurt, rejected and left behind. But these things are impossible to feel as she gazes at me, love in her eyes. I look for the familiar tell-tale signs of anxiety and suspicion in my heart and mind but they are nowhere inside of me. I am full of love and it is overflowing. I am so full. There is no room for fear.

She opens her mouth to speak and my entire body listens. My whole being becomes an ear, taking in this sound. It is a voice I know, that I have always known, I realize with surprise. From deep within me bubbles up a response that I can’t hold back, can’t not say. It erupts form me involuntarily.

Mother…” I sob.

Another word wells up inside of me and explodes from my moth, from every pore in my body.

Shaddaim,” I hear myself say.

And then what I have been longing for all along, but didn’t know to ask for or even want….what I have been hungering and thirsting for since my first breath in this world... fills my mouth, my heart and every part of me, utterly and completely.

It is flesh: soft, warm flesh and from it comes a taste that transcends any and all tastes I have tasted before. It is how truth tastes, I realize. How joy tastes. How pleasure tastes. How completeness and fulfillment taste. When I was hungry, I was hungry for this. When I was thirsty, I was thirsty for this. When I felt there was something I desired…something more…but couldn’t pinpoint what, it was this.

This is the milk I was made to drink and I drink deeply.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Runaway Bunnies, Breasts & Hell (yup, you read that right!)

Read this post over at In the Hush of the Moon. I understand the feeling of watching a little guy growing up...my youngest is going to be four in a couple weeks. Four is NOT a baby. I've asked him to stay three but he said no. sigh.

But this post isn't about that. This post is about The Runaway Bunny that Emily referenced in her post. I read the snippets from the book that she included and that thing happened that often does when I read a children's book: a little piece of truth went around to the back door of my brain, snuck in quietly and sat down when I wasn't looking. Funny how that happens.

I have tried several times, in several venues, to write about why I don't believe there can be a hell. It's because I am a mother and I know how I love my three little ones. And I'm not even the best, most well-balanced, unselfish mother, either...but I'm their mama. So as a mama, with a mama's heart (and I daresay it's similar in a daddy's heart), I can't help but love my children unconditionally. I don't know how to do otherwise. My heart says the words of The Runaway Bunny (below) right along with Mama Bunny. My heart already knows these words by heart because they mirror it perfectly.

The words of my heart, and any mama's heart, are not the voice of a God who made a hell with a door that opens "in"....but not "out." Not ever. Maybe as my friend, Jonathan, suggests in his book, the verse about hell's gates means you can leave hell when you want to, that it's not God's hand pushing you back into the hottest part of the fiery inferno to make sure you really "get" how stupid you were to not believe in Jesus and his death on the cross, the inerrancy of the Bible, or whatever.

So read the words of Runaway Bunny as the words of God, if there is one. Don't even bother trying not to cry:

Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”

“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,“I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.”

“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

“If you become a fisherman,” said the little bunny,“I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you.”

“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me,” said his mother, “I will become a mountain climber, and I will climb to where you are.”

“If you become a mountain climber,” said the little bunny, “I will be a crocus in a hidden garden.”

“If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,” said his mother, “I will be a gardener. And I will find you.”

“If you are a gardener and find me,” said the little bunny, “I will be a bird and fly away from you.”

“If you become a bird and fly away from me,” said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”

“If you become a tree,” said the little bunny, “I will become a little sailboat, and I will sail away from you.”

“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,” said his mother, “I will become the wind and blow you where I want you to go.”

“If you become the wind and blow me,” said the little bunny, “I will join a circus and fly away on a flying trapeze.”

“If you go flying on a flying trapeze,” said his mother,“I will be a tightrope walker, and I will walk across the air to you.”

“If you become a tightrope walker and walk across the air,” said the bunny, “I will become a little boy and run into a house.”

“If you become a little boy and run into a house,” said the mother bunny, “I will become your mother and catch you in my arms and hug you.”

“Shucks,” said the bunny, “I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.”

And so he did.

“Have a carrot,” said the mother bunny.

What do you think? It touches something deep inside, that something that whispers, "That's the love I've waited my whole life for."
So, as you know, if you read my blog, I really am not sure about there being a God "out there." However, I am sure that I love my kids with that love that runs after a runaway child and never gives up. I can't help it. I feel it. I don't have to believe it...I know it. And a God who doesn't love that way...I have no use for.

A God who doesn't just not chase down his child, forever, but actually goes so far as to create a place of eternal punishment for that child, just because he or she "didn't get it"...that is a God that does not love like a mother does. If God is real and I am made in his image, how is that possible?

I dearly love one translation of the word, "Shaddaim," one of the names of God in the Old Testament: "a God with breasts." I know how my kids' eyes looked up at me when they nursed as infants. That utter rest, peace and satisfaction. A mother with milk in her breasts doesn't give sustenance when her baby acts like he loves her enough. In fact, if she waits too long to give the rooting infant what he wants, the milk begins to leak out! A nursing mother becomes the most terrifying being in the universe if someone tries to tear her nursing baby from her breast.

So, as Emily eloquently describes, when that same infant becomes a toddler and toddles away, a mother is watching a piece of herself walk away. I have no idea how it feels to watch them move out when they reach adulthood; I don't even want to begin to think about it. All I know is no matter how far my children try to go from me, I will always find them.

I'll storm the very gates of hell if I have to.

More New Ribbons & Trims!

Decadent French Daydream: HERE

Set of 3 velvet ribbon and flowers: HERE

French Primitive Trims: HERE

Vintage Sheet Music Rag Ribbon: HERE

Sweet Pink Linen Rag Ribbon & Vintage Milinery Flower: HERE

Wide French Blue Rag Ribbon & Brown Velvet Ribbon: HERE

Heaven & Hell: through a 3-year-old's eyes

My almost-4-year-old has been drawing very detailed drawings all of a sudden. It's fun to watch. In fact, as I type, he is sitting on the couch in a little sunny spot, drawing in his red composition book with a purple pencil he grudgingly accepted even though "girls like purple and pink."

Lately those drawings are a whole STORY that no one else but him could ever decipher. They are monsters with dozens of eyes "to scare sister," or they are elaborate "computers" with squares for the keys covering the whole paper. That kind of thing.

So yesterday when he proudly showed me another of his drawings, I asked him what the picture was. He said, "This is blood and that man died and went to heaven but he got medicine in heaven and he came back down."

One of our cats died this past year, as well as his great-grandpa, and ever since, he asks every couple weeks, "When is Abel and Great-Grandpa coming back down?"

Not ARE they going to come back, but WHEN are they going to come back.

I remember being a child and the fear of heaven and/or hell was not about burning in the lake of fire so much as it was being potentially separated from my family. That gave me a sense of panic. So I think I understand my son's insistence that the separation of death can't possibly be forever. That thought doesn't even occur to him.

At my son's age, there's no philisophical "figuring it out" when it comes to things like God, heaven or hell. Their minds accept what they've been told and thank goodness no one has taken it upon themselves to tell him about hell. I wasn't the one who said Abel and Great-Grandpa went to heaven, but someone did, and that satisifed him temporarily. They had gone "someplace," which he understands happens sometimes. But in his little life (thankfully), most of the time people don't go and never come back. They go...and then they come back. 

To my son, though, it doesn't matter what or where heaven OR hell is...the issue is being back in relationship with someone he loves who has left, of course temporarily, and he's rather impatient for that time to come.

When he asks, "When is Great-Grandpa coming back down?" some might say, "They're not coming back, sweetie, but someday you will see them in heaven."

When he asks me, I just say, "What do you think?"

And his response?

"Soon. Soon they will come back down."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review- "Discovering the God Imagination: Reconstructing a Whole New Christianity," by Jonathan Brink

Sometimes we are absolutely certain we understand something, and are in fact so sure of our comprehension, we base our entire lives on it. I was sure I understood Christianity and even more sure I had no use for it. And then I read Discovering the God Imagination, by Jonathan Brink and it changed everything.

I hope I’m not getting anyone’s hopes up. I should probably clarify: I’m not going to start attending church and I still don’t believe in hell. But I’m literally and figuratively re-opening the book on God. Yeah…that book. I have a love-hate relationship with the Bible, but thanks to Brink, I’m giving it another read.

If you were to take the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, cut each individual word out, throw all these words into a hat, shake them around, pour them out on the table and ask someone unfamiliar with the Cinderella storyline to use the individual words to create a story, it is unlikely that the end result would be the version of the story we grew up with. Sure, there would be a pretty dress, a pumpkin coach, a beautiful maiden and a romantic ball, but the way the happily-ever-after shakes out might be nothing like the story we have come to expect.

Jonathan Brink does something similar in his book. All the elements of the creation-to-crucifixion drama are there, but they are told in a way that changes the entire meaning of the story that has defined modern Christianity. Brink himself comes out of this very tradition, 2,000 years in the making, which has interpreted the God/Human story in a very definitive way; he clearly grasps this widely-accepted interpretation and then promptly turns it inside out.

Brink challenges the Christian framework in a manner that is, at once, supremely bold and stunningly simple. All the key elements of the story remain, but they are arranged in an entirely different way that makes the “happily ever after” something altogether new and different. It’s as though Disney’s Cinderella was re-told so that the evil stepmother is reformed, becomes the heroine and rides off, Prince Charming in tow, to begin a new life as a fairy godmother.

I spent the first 30 years of my life trying, not to make a religion work, but to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I was an evangelical Christian in the truest sense. But about 2 years ago, I opened the door, invited all the questions, doubts and instincts I’d kept locked up tight to come in, have a seat and speak freely. I finally got honest with myself and the consensus was that not only did I not want to go to church anymore, but I could no longer say I was a Christian. I wanted to believe the “right” things, but I just didn’t, and in retrospect, I realized I hadn’t for quite some time.

Leaving Christianity was painful; I’ve likened it in many ways to a divorce. Though it was a profound and palpable relief to finally allow myself to stop fighting to keep my true feelings and thoughts at bay, Christianity was like a thread woven through the entire fabric of my life and pulling it out was simultaneously the removal of a source of huge pain and a deep, gut-wrenching loss. The desire for a personal relationship with a God who loved me wasn’t easy to give up and walk away from.

It was difficult and painful to insist on what my inner knowing says when, from all accounts, I was walking away from God by doing so. I don’t want to “walk away from God.” Decades of my life were spent wanting a personal connection with God more than any one thing in my whole life, so following my knowing, what felt like away from God, has been painful, hard and many times, desperately lonely.

Then I read this book. Brink’s interpretation of the Biblical narrative is like looking at the whole of my life with a pair of glasses on and being shocked to realize what looked and felt like one thing was something else entirely. What if it wasn’t that I was “walking away from God” at all? What if, all along, he was “calling” me away? The exercise of thinking that’s possible, for even a minute, floods me with a mixture of joy, remorse, regret, pain and sadness.

Brink looks at the Biblical narrative and sees what he calls “the God imagination” at work. To look at not just the Bible, but my own life, through that lens means letting my assumptions go. Among other things, Brink says challenging our assumptions involves “leaving old stories behind.” He goes on to say that, “it means starting over again and building new ones…finally answering the deeper questions in our souls, the ones haunting us when we sleep.” (p. 72)

The prospect of doing so is, for me, terrifying. Re-opening the book on God means going back to “the scene of the crime,” as Brink refers to it. It means returning to the very ground on which I was hurt most, knowing I might be hurt again. I know from experience that anything that’s worth anything requires just that sort of “all in” risk, but that doesn’t change that it scares me to death.

Brink responds to this very fear when he says: “Reconciling our assumptions means we just might have to engage in our own restoration. It means we just might have to tear away the covering which blinds us to the God imagination. It means coming out of hiding to discover our worst fears aren’t true.” (p. 72)

Now I have to ask: what if the stuff that has always felt “off” for me about Christianity is also “off” in God’s mind? I experienced such pain, rejection and fear during my “questioning/doubting” years that the idea that I was on the right track all along makes me weep – both for the waste and the hope. Do I have the guts to go back and take another look?

Previous to reading this book, I had easily and without equivocation left Christianity behind. Discovering the God Imagination hasn’t “brought me back into the fold” by any stretch of the imagination, but it has created a space in which I am able to look at the concept of God with new eyes, for one reason and one reason only: it paints a picture of a God who sees me with eyes that, when I look into them, I realize I have seen before. They are familiar in the way the bar of a song sung in childhood might be. The expression of love and acceptance in those eyes is what I recognize I’ve been waiting for all my life. To be honest, I don’t know what to do with that, except to keep gazing into them and follow my heart.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

To Love Me is to Know Me


~Do you feel like you are understood by someone in your life? Like....reallllllllly understood?

Perhaps a couple better questions...

~Is there anyone you trust enough to show the real you?
~Have you ever shown anyone the real you?

And lastly...

~If you haven't shown anyone the real you, can you EVER really feel loved by anyone?
~If someone says they love you, but you know you've kept the real you hidden from them, is it possible to accept that person's love? 

Decadent Trims & Treats

Lots of new things are coming out of my studio. I am having so much fun hand-dyeing scrumptious velvet and vintage linen, stamping them, making ruffles out of them, creating romantic bags and...well, so much more! You can find them HERE. Working on lots more, as well.
Here's some photos.... 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Great-Grandmother & Velvet Strawberries

My great-grandmother lived in a tiny house in a beautiful, old neighborhood in Salisbury, Maryland that was filled with beautiful things she has made with her own hands. She worked for The Singer Sewing Machine Co. as a young woman and my mother has many stories of making Barbie doll dresses with her when she was a child. My mother was named Catherine, after her.

Now I have my own Emily Catherine, named after them both, and I can still imagine what the inside of my great-grandmother's little Cape Cod looked and smelled like. It was there I learned how to make a cathedral window quilt and how to make perfect French knots. She had a kitchen decorated in strawberries and I'm sure my fascination with vintage strawberry Wilender linens began at her kitchen table.

These little velvet strawberries are of my design, but they are modeled after the thousands and thousands of velvet strawberries made by women for centuries, at least. Velvet strawberries like this showed up in sewing boxes and used as pincushions, on summer hats and attached to pert little straw purses, many decades ago. You can still find vintage velvet strawberries on eBay or in corners of antique stores if you look hard enough.

I can't stop making them! I'm hand-dyeing the velvet, hand-stitching the strawberries, cutting out little felt leaves, filling them with stuffing and a bit of dried French lavender, stitching them together and then lastly, hand-beading them. It is a delight to make them, from start to finish, and though I'm sure I'll tire of it eventually, for now it's my new favorite thing to do in the evening while I watch t.v. and sip hot cocoa.

I imagine them in lingerie drawers, part of sweet little vintage vignettes or given as a gift. You can hot glue them to a purse, use them as pincushions, give them as gifts, or whatever else you come up with! The possibilities are endless!

I have this little group of 3 pink and 3 blue velvet strawberries listed on eBay right now, so if you want to snatch them up, go HERE.

Marie-Antoinette-Inspired Dress Coat

Another of the new things I've made recently. You can find this one on eBay HERE.

I made it from scratch using a remarkable heavy brocade and a new pattern that looks vintage. I decided not to line it since it was already incredibly heavy and instead used an old-fashioned technique: hand-sewing lace trim over each and every raw edge on the inside. Phew! I had no idea the dozens of hours this would take!!! But it was so worth it when the coat was completed.

This is a size Small to Medium. The dress form the coat is displayed on is about a size 2/4. The sleeves are three-quarter-length and there is a pocket on each side. A silk-covered button and circle-yolk are all wonderful vintage-inspired details that make this coat your signature wardrobe piece this winter!