Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yearly Seattle Trip

I realized while looking back through my old blog posts that my pal Katrina and I took our last Seattle trip nearly one year ago to the day. It wasn't planned that way, and honestly we might need to rethink our timing next year. If you know anything about Seattle it is probably that it rains a lot, but did you know that it isn't even one of the top 10 rainiest cities in the U.S.? However, this fact does not make you feel better when you are poured on every time you visit. So imagine our surprise when we emerged from the gigantic rain cloud stationed over our home state of Oregon and found ourselves instead being soaked by blazing sunshine on Seattle's waterfront.

I of course had only packed warm sweaters and a rain jacket for the trip because I expected to be cold and wet as we trooped around the city so I had to improvise to be comfortable in the sun's heat. Due to it being the last spring break weekend, and such a beautiful one, the tourists were out in full force leaving Pike Place Market jam packed.

As you know from my last trip, Katrina is a chef at a top restaurant in Portland Oregon. She is a through and through foodie and always has a specifically planned out food tour for us whenever we travel. Her list is usually very ambitious for the inherent limitations to how much a person can eat. Regardless, like any challenge, we rise to it and do the best we can to stuff ourselves. The first stop on the list was a place in the heart of Pike Place Market. To Katrina's disappointment the market was being renovated and she was upset that one of her favorite places, and our first stop, seemed to be closed as we couldn't find it. But then we spied a long line and realized it was still open!

Image found here.

Piroshky-Piroshky is a little Russian bakery that sells all kinds of savory and sweet treats. Katrina's favorite is the sauerkraut, carrot, cabbage and onion but I went for the smoked salmon pate. Served piping hot, the bread is soft, chewy and a little bit sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of my piroshky but I think if I could do it over I would pick a different flavor. The pate was awesome but there was quite a bit of it and it's richness was a little much for me personally. The experience was beautiful though, as the we sat on a bench near the waterfront and enjoyed the sunshine and people watching.

As we attempted to take a picture of ourselves a slightly awkward man offered to help. He was adamant that we have the ferry in the background so we weren't exactly ready when he decided to snap the picture. Therefore he took another one which was even worse than the first. Incidentally you really can't see the boat well anyway. Awwww memories!

Next we did a little walking and shopping and I finally was able to visit a store that I know well but was closed last time we went to Seattle. As you know I am in the business of plush dolls and you can't be in the business and not know about the shop and gallery Schmancy. The owner of Schmancy holds plush gallery shows each year as well as stocks a tiny shop full of artist made plush and other designer toys. I had already promised myself that I could purchase one piece on this trip and after carefully searching the entire store I decided on a very familiar piece by my pal Becky of Scrumptious Delight. I have had my eye on him for quite a while and was not disappointed to see, and purchase, him in person. I snapped a picture of him in our large, bright hotel window.

If you come from a rainy city or state you know that it is important to enjoy the sunshine when it presents itself because it is generally a short lived treat. This was the case on our trip and near the end of our shopping we saw the dark clouds finally catching up with us from the south. After a quick drop off of our bags to our room, and a change back into our warm clothes, we headed off to first dinner.

Both restaurants we ate at this trip specialized in Italian food. The first was Tavolata in the Belltown neighborhood. As always we order what looks good and share everything in order to sample more of the menu. We ordered the wild watercress salad, chicken meatballs, and grilled flatbread because we had resolved to make first dinner all about appetizers. Everything was delicious with a few little unexpected surprises. Included with the meatballs were corona beans which I had never had and the hint of garlic on the flatbread was perfect. I wish I had more to say about the food because I don't want to leave you thinking it wasn't amazing, because it was, I guess I am just not moved to say much about it.

Image found here.

Next we hoofed it up to Spinasse located on Capital Hill. We hadn't planned to walk because it seemed far but it felt good to work off first dinner and it turned out to not be a bad walk at all. Spinasse could not be more different than Tavolata. The atmosphere quickly changed from large, modern and hip to cozy, traditional and old school. Here we ordered 'Pio Tosini' prosciutto di Parma with marinated apple, ravioli di topinambur and a radicchio salad. The adorable waiter, who seemed to have been transported straight out of Italy and to our table side, brought us some rabbit pate to sample as we waited. I watch a lot of Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain (actually both of them are on a shared episode on t.v. as I write this) so I like to pretend I am one of them when offered something I might not normally have the chance to eat. In the spirit of these shows I took a giant bite of the thin toast the pate was spread on. I will say it was not the worst thing I have ever tried but one bite was enough. It was sweet, and also bitter, and my idea of what Andrew Zimmer must mean by "gamey". In fact the interesting flavors didn't really stop there as the rest of our food arrived. I definitely would pick Tavolata over Spinasse, not because of quality, but just because some of the flavors at Spinasse, were not my favorite.

First, the prosciutto came on a large plate and was literally the most prosciutto I have seen in one place at one time. We weren't even able to finish it which was a shame to waste. The radicchio salad was typical and delicious but the ravioli was a bit different. The pasta was amazingly thin and delicious, as only homemade pasta can be, but the included herb had an interesting flavor I can't say I was altogether wild about.

Image found here.

Finally wee hailed a cab back to our hotel and passed out in a food comma.

The next day started with a wonderful experience at a place called Eltana. I knew nothing about the fact that traditional bagels are boiled in water but learned all about it as we ate our truly amazing bagels. I had a plain bagel with a date walnut cream cheese spread. It was sooooo good!

Image found here.

Next we spent an hour or two in the amazing Elliot Bay Book Company and then a couple more hours eating in the Uwajimaya food court and roaming their bookstore. Both of which I highly recommend only if you have time to browse and enjoy being assaulted on all sides by goodies of all kinds. I left Elliot Bay with a zine called Afterzine, which I haven't read yet, and I left Uwajimaya full of sushi and strong green tea. It was certainly a pleasant way to leave such a fun city and head back down the freeway for home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Biggest Order EVER!

One of my fabulous retailers, AmeriKid, let me know a while back that they would be interested in carrying my new design, the Soft Heart BeBe. Well they are an awesome store, full of children's toys made only in the U.S. They are so devoted to carrying only American made products that they did not want my Soft Hearts to come in store bought, re-sized onesies. Sooooo I decided to finally bite the bullet and learn to make some baby/doll clothing. If you have been following me for any amount of time you probably know I resist making clothes at all costs. I don't really know what I hate about it...maybe it is because when I am done with a doll, or plush, there is a sweet face looking back at me and clothing just doesn't have that.

Well the order was placed for 10 Soft Hearts about a month and a half ago. I thought I could get them done in 3-4 weeks but as you know school was so much work this last term that I just really didn't get time to pound them out. My goal for spring break was to get this order done and out. Luckily with the help of my Mom they are done! What do you think?

The order was for eight girls and two boys but when I started picking fabric I found this adorable green/brown with monkeys for the boys. After looking at it for a while I thought it could be for a girl or boy and I have a feeling it is going to be popular. I decided to do five of them in the hearts and five in the green monkeys.

I think I did a pretty good job on the outfits for my first time. I can get a little upset about details but I was at the toy store the other day looking at doll clothes for ideas and I don't think store bought clothes look perfect. I tried not to beat myself up! I am sure I will get better at it.....yes I said it....I am going to continue making clothes for my dolls. I think now that I have a pattern it will be fun to pick out fabrics and make the clothes myself. I am also planning to sell just the outfits in my shop soon so if you are looking for doll clothes check back.

The outfits were made from two different patterns. The romper and booties were made from this McCall's pattern. I of course shrunk it and altered it to my own specifications. The hat is from this doll clothing pattern by Simplicity. The outfits in this pattern set are really cute and I want to try a couple more of them out.

If you are interested in adopting any of these guys they should be available at AmeriKid shortly. Of course you can always visit my shop for new babies or email me to order. I have lots more of both fabrics so I can always make more.

I hope you are having a great spring break!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ophelia and the Home Stretch

Tomorrow I have all of my finals for Winter term in one day. Yikes! Luckily my Shakespeare teacher is having us present our creative projects in lieu of a test. The other positive thing about this is that my Shakespeare class is my last class for the day. This means by the time I get to Shakespeare my brain will be exhausted from two consecutive finals and I will be ready to sit and watch creative presentations!

I told you a while back that I would have another creative project to show you. I have been working on this doll on-and-off for a couple of weeks now and I am relatively happy with how she came out. Making this doll was a bit of a stretch creatively for me. I generally don't like realistically human dolls and have avoided making any for a long time. Mainly it is because I don't like making clothes very much and it seems the doll never comes out the right size for store bought doll clothes. I also don't think I am very good at painting realistic features. However, I decided to give it a go on this girl!

The only guidelines for our creative project is that the subject had to be from one of the plays we read throughout the term. The plays we read were Merchant of Venice, Henry IV Part I, Hamlet and The Tempest. We read The Tempest last and it's possible if we had started reading it before I started my project I would have picked a character to make into a doll from that play. It would have been fun to make Caliban I think. Nevertheless, that didn't happen so I of course picked Ophelia from Hamlet because, well, she is truly a character that stands out from all the rest.

There is a lot of online inspiration for Ophelia, including a few other dolls. Check out this one, this one and this one. When we were reading Hamlet we watched several scenes from the David Tennant version of Hamlet that came out in 2008. The scene where Ophelia is crazy and handing out flowers is intense and extremely powerful. If you want to watch it you can see it here on YouTube. The image of her in that scene is the inspiration for my Ophelia doll.

I created her first from muslin but her legs were so skinny that I couldn't stuff them. Muslin can be really difficult to work with, at least for me. It also has no stretch so I was having a hard time getting her wig to fit such a flat head. I decided to try to make her out of the fabric I use on the BeBes and it ended up working pretty good. She is wired throughout her body so she could potentially be posed but I didn't want to mess with her.

Luckily I had a wig laying around here that fit her perfectly. For her outfit I made her a muslin shirt and skirt that are underneath her dress. I had no idea what I was doing for her outfit but found some pictures online that helped inspire me. I had this scrap of a dark turquoise velour that ended up working perfect. The dress itself is not perfect and don't let it fool you, there's a lot of glue holding up those folds. By the end I had no idea what I was doing and decided to go back to my favorite crafty tool, glue. The good thing, for me, was she needed to look a little disheveled because she went crazy outside pulling up flowers.

I made her a headband out of some ribbon and a rope belt thingy out of floss. I looked all over town for some plastic fake flowers but I couldn't find anything small enough to look realistic for her. In the play she has rue, daisies, columbines and fennel. I was going to try to make all the flowers but after cutting out a tiny daisy and some fennel I was spent. I decided that was enough for her ha ha. I added some bits of moss and straw to her hair for effect. I also dirtied up her feet and skirt bottom to represent her romp through the weeds.

So that's Ophelia! I'm glad she's was an adventure...I probably won't ever do another one like her ha ha.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And the Winner is....


Hoooray! I am sending you a message now, Kim, but in case you don't get it or see this first, I will need you to email me your mailing address. You can email it to me at: Thanks to everyone for participating. I will definitely be doing another one soon because this was so much fun! :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BeBe Babies Giveaway!

Hi everyone!

Today is March 1st which means I am getting my BeBe Babies monthly newsletter ready to send out to my lovely mailing list. It is also my dear Momma's birthday so I am feeling festive. I have decided to do a giveaway which I don't know that I have done on my blog, and if I have it was a looong time ago. The giveaway will be for one of my most popular BeBes, the Bundle BeBe in a sleepy owl print. Here's a picture!

The giveaway is going to be up for a week and there are several ways that you can enter (and enter more than once for more chances):

1. Leave a comment on this post to be entered. Also if you do any of the below additional entry options please let me know in your comment so I enter you the correct number of times!

2. Join my mailing list to receive an additional entry. Email to join. You will only receive one email a month (on the first of the month) with news and other special notices for BeBe Babies.
3. "Like" my brand new Facebook fan page and receive an additional entry.
4. Follow my blog and receive an extra entry.
5. Visit my Etsy shop and let me know your favorite doll listed to receive an additional entry.
6. Blog about my giveaway on your blog and receive an additional entry (make sure to give a link to the blog post).

Thanks for reading and entering! Good luck and have a great week!