WABI-SABI

Biographies, philosophy, design, recipes, and all the subjects in-between are the stuff of my dreams. I would venture to say that I’ve found a treasure beginning with most library call numbers, and, of course, do my best not to judge any book by its cover. To say my love affair with reading is an important part of my life would be an understatement.

Our library at The Factory and the stacks of books throughout my home are growing at alarming (and satisfying) rates. I wish that time allowed me to discuss in detail all of the fabulous books that my friends, supporters, and my publisher have chosen to share with me. Robyn Griggs Lawrence’s Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House recently landed on my desk. The simple, unassuming (wabi-sabi) cover almost went unnoticed in the big stack of books I’ve been eager to conquer.

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THREE SISTERS AND A NEW TRINITY

Last weekend, I finally got a chance to read my Gravy: Special Louisiana Edition, the Spring 2011 Issue of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s “Food Letter” to its members. (Better late than never!)

On page 6 of the downloadable PDF, you will find a story about – and a recipe by – Susan Spicer of New Orleans. Titled “Eggplant, Oyster, and Tasso Gratin: A New Sort of Trinity,” the introduction to the recipe refers to the “trinity of Louisiana cookery: onions, celery and bell pepper.” Susan, a “self-described eggplant freak,” created her own trinity with eggplant, oysters and Tasso – recipe included. (You will also find this recipe and text on pages 35-36 of the Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.)

While I was reading about Susan and her trinity, I kept thinking of the Indian legend of The Three Sisters. If you aren’t familiar with this story, it is really just a beautiful explanation of companion planting told in story form. The tale explains that corn is planted on a mound and provides the stalk for the beans to climb. In turn, the bean vines embrace the corn stalk and provide stability. The squash planted on the mound shades it from direct sunlight and prevents moisture from evaporating. Native Americans encourage eating the three “sisters” together, since together they offer the elements to sustain life: the corn delivers carbohydrates, the beans provide protein, and the squash contains essential vitamins.

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CLEAN LIVING

As reported last week, I eased off my detox and back into everyday life. Using the photo shoot for our HEATH Ceramics collaboration as a happy start-date, I indulged easily back into my old way of eating and living. After enjoying some (quite a bit of) bread, a piece of wedding cake (or 2) that we had made for the shoot, some after-work cocktails, and other earthly delights, I am happy (and surprised) to report that I miss my new way of eating.

Saturday, I went back to the farmer’s market and yesterday my girlfriends and I started our “hard core” cleanse – together and one week early. In the coming weeks, I will share some of our favorite recipes that we develop while navigating the backyard garden, the farmer’s market and Clean.

The recipe below was a favorite of Angie and Cathy this week while we were shooting – it is absolutely approved under the Clean program.

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IN THE BOOKS

After my daughter’s first day at school, Will, a parent from her class called and cried, “We have one in the books!”  I had never heard that saying but now know that after the first full week of kindergarten, we have truly put one in the books.  It was a week of highs and lows, adjustments and realizations. (“I am sad. I love my new teacher, but I miss my teacher from last year, too.”  Don’t we all feel that way sometimes about the things in our lives?)

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first back-to-school extravaganza and to all of the great teachers who make our children excited to get up every morning!

We still have some back-to-school  sweepstakes going and those will be announced in the coming days. If you haven’t entered, get to it!

There are still a few workshop spots left in Marfa.  Plan your road trip and join us.

Got questions? Post a question for Alabama Chanin in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or at EcoSalon for next Friday’s column. Go ahead, ask anything…

The best part of the week for me (aside from surviving the first full week of kindergarten): our HEATH Ceramics collaboration was being photographed in my home and two dear friends – Cathy Bailey and Angie Mosier – were here to realize the images (see our styling table in the photo above).

Launching in November… stay tuned.

One “in the books” indeed!

INDIGO + FACETS MARKET BAG

This market bag is my (almost) constant companion. (When my daughter Maggie hasn’t filled it with toys or books.)

Beauty, simplicity, and what might be the perfect length handles keep it in heavy rotation.

So many have sprung up around the office that we’ve jokingly labeled it our “Alabama Briefcase.”

It’s just the right size for back-to-school, a meal’s worth of groceries from the farmer’s market, a day by the pool, or a light-weight carry-on.

Shown here in our Alabama Indigo Fabric, the bag is made from scraps of medium and dark indigo, stenciled with our Facets pattern and sewn with grey Button Craft thread.

Have a look at page 107 of Alabama Studio Style to see where it all started.

 

SANDWICH WRAPS

My daughter received a sandwich wrap similar to these for her birthday two years ago and it quickly became a treasured item in our household (Thank you Carrie and Michael).  So treasured, in fact, that we have almost worn it out.  With back-to-school this year, I realized that we need many of these in our kitchen – in fact, one for every day.

We used scraps of medium-weight 100% cotton jersey in ochre, light grey, and faded leaves from our studio to make the wraps pictured here.  They are lined with a PUL fabric (found at our local fabric store), but I have also used wax paper as a liner for a particularly messy sandwich.

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YARN + FABRIC COMPUTER COVER

There are so many computer and electronic device covers on the market today that are perfectly serviceable and will take you lots of places. I have avoided writing about these functional items for years; however, our babysitter made a version of the one shown above for her reading device and I was inspired to create our own Alabama Chanin version. I love the juxtaposition of materials that functionally protect the device and the hand-sewn detailing that make the piece personal.

Follow the instructions below to make your own cover:

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STITCH MAGIC + TEA TOWELS

The whimsical fabric creations of Stitch Magic are simply breath-taking. Alison takes inspiration from Colette Wolff’s sewing fetish book The Art of Manipulating Fabric, giving a contemporary spin to twenty beautiful projects, ranging from home decor to fashion accessories. Machine sewn projects include fabric necklaces with dainty button closures and hand embellished egg cozies that are two of our favorites.

We combined our hand-sewing techniques with simple pin tucks from page 58 and quilting from page 82 to make these tea towels using the pattern from page 91 of Alabama Stitch Book and our 100% organic cotton jersey in medium-weight (colors Sand and Doeskin).

My daughter loves to use these tea towels for napkins, as a bib to cover her school clothes when eating breakfast (we use a wooden clothespin to hold two corners behind her neck) and she takes one to school in her lunch box to use as her own personal placemat.  She started kindergarten last Thursday and I think I will be making a lot of these tea towels in the coming year! Continue reading

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