Friday, August 26, 2011

Lavender Hues & Flavors

It was a productive week in the VVM household. In addition to starting my vintage dress project, I made a big batch of lavender simple syrup, a half-pint of which ended up over at Ana and Sophia's house. This is so incredibly... simple to make. Add it to champagne, cocktails, sparkling water, coffee, lemonade. Drizzle it over pancakes, into yogurt, on pound cake or icecream. Seriously, I could get carried away. In fact -- right this very minute -- some lavender honey chicken is baking in the oven. My very good friend, Amanda, makes a variety of this using rosebuds. Mmmmm...

Lavender Simple Syrup
  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 T. lavender
  • 2-3 drops violet food coloring, if desired
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and place it over high heat. Stir it constantly until all the sugar has dissolved and the water begins to boil. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, remove it from the heat and place a lid on top; let this steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Strain the lavender out by pouring the entire mixture through a metal mesh sieve. You may have to do this several times. There will be a small amount of residue left; this is pollen and small fragments of the blooms.
  3. At this point, the mixture will be a light, murky green color. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring, if you wish, to give it a slight violet hue.
  4. Allow syrup to cool, then pour into air-tight containers. Store in the fridge; keeps for 3-4 weeks.

I also began the process of piecing together the pattern for my Wildheart dress. I printed out all the pages on normal 8-1/2 x 11 paper, then patched them together like the grid on a map with tape. I had considered getting actual pattern paper, but when I discovered that it was $7.99/yd, that just wasn't happening. After chatting up the friendly little old lady at Hobby Lobby, I settled on good 'ol tracing paper. I only had to tape multiple sheets together for the larger skirt portions of the dress, but the rest of the pieces transferred nicely onto one sheet of tracing paper.

As you can see, I had a little helper who took his job very seriously. He said he wanted to immerse himself in the craft... I told him to lay off the Goldfish snacks.

Do you have one specific ingredient you feel drawn to? Something you find a reason to add to anything and everything? Maybe that "ingredient" is a color?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Make It -- Don't Buy It!

I have been watching a certain reality series which takes place in NYC. These girls are wearing crazy tights, ankle boots, patterns and skirts. I am suddenly considering donning a wig of long hair that I would wear in a carefully disheveled morning-after look. After getting through about half the season, I went straight to Urban Outfitter's website. I literally drool over their stuff. I can feel my pupils dilate after each new page refreshes, my mind whizzing. Could I find that here? Is that vintage inspired? Where's my credit card?! Wait -- could I make that myself?

And then I reeled it in. I closed out the UO website. I wiped away my tears and blew my nose after taking one last look at the shoe section. And then I went straight to BurdaStyle's website. Fact is, I can sew. I can sew pretty dang well. I found this free pattern for a "Wild Heart" dress, and decided to go for it. It's rated at a novice level, and so I thought this would be a good place to start, especially if anyone following is thinking about sewing, too. I'll print the pages out at home and piece it together here.

Which leads me to part deux: Montana Vintage Clothing. O. M. G. This place was amazing. I had to resist the urge to fanatically run from corner to corner, wall to wall, Supermarket Sweepstake style. The website for this store does it zero justice. It is packed full of hand-picked vintage clothing, shoes, hats and accessories from the 1920s through the 1970s. Old music was playing, and it was very neat and clean. And this is where I found the fabric I'm going to use for my new dress. I'm guessing it's a 1950s era fabric because of the shapes on it and the shade of red, and it's made from a silky material. I'll keep you all updated on the progress of said dress.

I also found the bias tape, buttons and thread at a second-hand store; I just need to go back for a zipper.

I think that we all tend to underestimate our own creative capabilities, especially in a society where you can basically buy anything you can think of. Challenge yourself to make something that you would have ordinarily bought. It's amazing what a sense of self-reliance and sustainability can do you for your ego and your wallet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Love & the Iliacus Muscle

One thing I have been doing a lot of since moving up here -- aside from serial calling everyone I know who doesn't have a day job... and even then, calling my friends at work I don't want to wait to talk to until they get off work.. -- is going to the gym. Since Finn was born, I've made little time for this. When I was working full-time, I didn't have much time or energy left over at the end of the night, too. It's a terrible excuse, but it's the truth. And when you have lots of extra time on your hands as I do now and you're looking to meet new people... and spend just an hour alone without your one-year-old, fitness classes are a place to start.

I immediately locate where the instructor is... and then pick the furthest location from her for my place in the class. But it never works. They always find me. This is leading me to believe that much of the coordination I thought I had is actually non-existent. They walk over, correct me if my awkward bending and writhing is too much to bear, smile encouragingly at my beet-red, sweaty face. The yoga teacher even went so far as to try to correct a stretch I was in, and sent me into a fit of giggles when she squeezed my iliacus muscle a little too much (Yeah, Google that one!). But seriously! -- it tickles. Just so you know, everyone else she corrected in that stretch giggled, too.

Going hand-in-hand with all this exercising is the decision to love my body for what it is: curvy, jiggly in some bits, thick in others. But it's mine, and for the first time in 29 years, I have decided that it is what it is. I've had a baby, I love bread and cheese, I'm German for crying out loud. I know I'm not what some would consider "fat," but I'm also not thin. And that's okay with me. Loving my body means taking care of it and feeling pride in the results, no matter how small. I am a normal woman, I have mastered the art of properly diverting people's attention from my small badonkadonk by wearing large and distracting earrings and my man digs me. At the end of the day, it all boils down to feeling a sense of calm and happiness. Hell, my muscles and tendons are too sore to worry!

What are you going to do to love your body more?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Big Montana Sky

Weekends are turning out to be the hardest part of being up here alone without Rob. There aren't as many organized events going on and most places we are starting to frequent are closed, especially on Sundays. But we are continuing to fight the good fight... with good food! Tonight we're having a fresh pizza made from a flatbread I got from the farmers market with some fresh basil, toms, onion and orange peppers. I'm going to try using some Yves pepperoni instead of traditional pepperoni to try and cut some of the fat and to try something different, too.

The farmers market was a delight today, especially because we met up with some new friends from the library, Ana and her one-year-old daughter, Sophia. A Scottish orchestral band was playing, and the drummer even gave Sophia and Finn a go at his bodhran drum:

It was pretty cute to see Finn and Sophia dancing around, somewhat uncertain of the crowds and the drummer but curious all the same.

I also found this affordable bottle of Grooner wine at Good Earth Market that I'm going to enjoy a glass of after Finn goes to bed. 

I think I'll sit out on the back steps and toast this big Montana sky that's above my head every night. You know, it really is bigger up here... maybe if anyone else is reading this before tonight, you can meet me out there, wherever you are...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dirt Sniffer

We managed to keep busy for another day until Rob will be joining us. We hit up the Goodwill on 29th and King, shared a Cuban pork sandwich and spent 45 minutes at the public library with new friends. We walked into the "Babies & Books" hour at the library a little bit late, and when we sat down and introduced ourselves, the librarian asked "Is this the Finn?" I smiled and said, "... yes?" It turns out that Finn's vocal nature has landed us as memorable persons at an otherwise quiet establishment.

The Goodwill was a jackpot! We scored some Gymboree and BabyGap shirts for $0.50 a piece, and I landed this pair of Madden Girl high heels and this fun vintage purse for less than $10 total:

But aside from the small details of today, I got to thinking about an older idea I'd had a few months back when I was still in Nebraska. I had run across a story in Food & Wine magazine online regarding a somewhat radical artist from northern California who was -- get this -- having people smell/taste soil much like you would sample different wines. Her name is Laura Parker, and she called the project "Taste of Place." Participants smell soils placed in wine glasses, then taste foods specifically grown in the different soils. How awesome would that be to do the same thing with local soils and produce? I think I am going to make it a personal project over the next year to try to do this next summer. I would be looking for organic farmers (Who wants to sniff fertilizers??) and foods grown right in the soil. So Nebraska friends, mark your calendars for next August for Taste of Place at my place. Hopefully we'll have some Billings friends there, too...


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Helloooo! (Was that an echo?)

So, here are my first thoughts to go out! I have recently relocated to Montana, and aside from the geographical change, I'm going through some lifestyle changes, too. I am staying home with my 15-month old son, Finnegan, and working from home. Don't get me wrong -- I'm thankful for the extra time with him, but it is definitely an adjustment to go from spending eight hours a day with adults who have a handle on the English language to someone who poops his pants and has a three-word vocabulary.

I'm an admitted foodie, and love to thrift and vintage hunt. Last night I made veggie pizza for Finn and myself, and paired it with a Somersault beer (for me -- c'mon now!) from New Belgium, a brewery that's near and dear to me as it hails from Ft. Collins, CO, a place we visited a lot back home. Finn gobbled the pizza down, and I was a tiny bit sad that I couldn't call Marie to come over and have some... but soon enough we will have other moms and babies to share pizza with, I'm certain of it.

This blog will be a place to keep in touch with everyone back in Nebraska, to make new friends, and to be a common ground for other eclectic mamas that share a passion for natural foods, flavorful cooking, world cuisine, thrifting, alternative music and baby-raising in general. The title is an homage for two things I am obsessed with: anything vintagey and... lavender. Fooled you with that one, didn't I! I put lavender in just about anything I can: cookies, coffee, pancakes, cocktails, the bath tub. Yes, lavender is edible (Note: If you're intrigued, check out what culinary lavender is all about).

I might toy around with the look and feel of Vintage Violet Mama until I get it just right, but please keep reading... I am excited for wherever this blog takes me. :)