Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bruce Springsteen- Happy Belated Birthday


It was not the most illustrious beginning to a love story.

“The Boss? Who is that?” Sigh. Yes, I said it but please understand I was an 18 year old who had grown up largely in the wild west of Colorado. What we counted as music didn’t count at all. It was only upon reaching college (and getting a boyfriend who was a bona fide Springsteen freak) that I began to learn about this man who made such amazing music. How could such a powerful voice come from that scrawny body? Suffice to say that my initial feelings were solely to remain close to my true love, my boyfriend. However, as that proved ephemeral and damaging I began listening to the Boss to see how he could help. Soon it was he and I together and Bill was a thing of the past. I amassed 5 of his Rolling Stones covers, a concert poster from the Stone Pony, and while living in Atlanta camped out over night in a supermarket parking lot waiting for tickets to his Born in the USA concert to go on sale. Floor seats, 15 rows back, baby! At one point, several members of his crew came out into the audience with backstage passes and I not only hurdled two rows of folding chairs but nearly dislocated a friend’s arm by pulling her along. She was just slow enough that the last ticket went to some slut right in front of me as my fingers were closing around it. The crew dude shrugged but there were no more. Needless to say that girl and I did not remain friends for much longer after that.

There were all the albums and boxed sets (remember those days?) but my love for Bruce was sealed on my 21st birthday. He was appearing at Red Rocks amphitheatre- the iconic concert venue. I had gotten 3 tickets for myself and my two besties. Red Rocks is festival seating so we would need to arrive at to start standing in line before they started letting people in at . This time, while I knew I was not likely to score anything backstage I was determined to get photos despite the staff at Red Rocks (and Springsteen himself) being notoriously hard-assed about unauthorized photos or recordings. We were allowed to take in a cooler but no glass so I hollowed out the Styrofoam bottom and put the baggie wrapped body of my Pentax SLR in there then re-covered it and packed ice, food, and drinks on top. The only lens I needed was my telephoto and as security has not yet reached the stage of strip search or x-ray I had my VERY well endowed friend Ro conceal it between her breasts in her bra. In fact, I was so worried it would fall out I made her duct tape it to her skin. I duct taped 3 rolls of film to the inside of my ankle.

As they started letting us in my heart was pounding but with thousands of ticket holders and our scrubbed face college girl cuteness we had no issues. The larger problem once we scored great seats was what to do with ourselves for the 7 hours until the concert began. There is only so much Frisbee one can play and by that stage of life we were all wise to ways of alcohol pacing and so drank only water for most of the day. We were able to get pleasantly high by the massive amount of weed being smoked in all directions so that was a freebie. I need some kind of mellowing influence because the ONLY thing being played on the sound system was Pink Floyd’s The Wall, of which I am not a fan.

Finally, it was time for a warm up band and sound check. The crowd was settling in and we were enjoying icy Jack Daniels and lemonade (yes, mixed together, don’t ask me why). A lone figure came out to the main mike in a red flannel shirt and jeans and without completely knowing why I began screaming, much to the confusion of everyone around me. “It’s him, It’s him!!!” and it was. He stepped up to the mike and said, “Hello, I’m Bruce Springsteen and I thought we’d do the sound check and warm up as opposed to having another band out here." Now everyone was freaking out- except for the woman in front of us who had so over indulged in both weed and booze and no food that she had thrown up and passed out almost simultaneously.

The sun was setting so I unpacked the camera and got to work. I made it all the way to the front 5 rows and began snapping what seemed to be unbelievable photos. My only concern was that I had not brought a flash as I thought it too easy a way to get caught so I was using very high speed film which would likely compromise the quality a bit. I had the time of my life at the most amazing concert ever (they played straight from to ) and got 3 rolls of some stellar shots of Bruce, Little Steven, and the Big Man (R.I.P.- which does not even seem possible).

It was the best coming of age birthday ever despite poor MaryAnn throwing up convulsively from too much Jack and not enough lemonade, being hit on by a lesbian in the ladies room (which I did not even fully understand was happening), and after streaming out to the parking lot realizing that my lights had been on since 6am and the car was stone cold dead. Cute was no help then as everyone wanted to get home and no one had jumper cables or would stop. I finally made my way to the backstage area and began banging on doors. It would be a great story if I could say that I met Bruce and he helped out but he was long gone and the best I got was a tired guy who said I could use the phone (way before cell phones, folks). I had to call my parents (great) and they had to call AAA to come give us a jump. All told it took two hours with poor MaryAnn groaning in the back of the car and Ro and I jumping around and screaming Springsteen lyrics. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER. (Hey, it wasn’t me yakking in the bushes, I know about pacing).

So, Bruce, even though I'm a week late, happy birthday--you are still a god. At 63 you’re looking better than ever and even though I do not understand the Patty Scialfa marriage thing, I respect you anyway. Candy’s Room? One of my all-time favorites.




 
 
 
*This is a repost from last year but it still makes me laugh and I still missed his birthday by a week. Oy

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Unemployment Diaries: Working


We’re taking a little unexpected detour from the fashion world today but, hey, the blog is called Inside Out so you kind of have to expect this sort of thing, right? 

I’ve done a fair amount of ruminating about unemployment, job searching, identity crises, et al. Not happy topics but in today’s upside-down world very real and to a helluva lot more people than just me. I’ve gone a couple more miles on this journey and feel compelled to share, if only because I think the majority of us are pretty lucky and move in worlds where we don’t always know what’s going on for the average person. 

In September, my unemployment ran out so I stopped being one of the lazy, slacker 47% mooching-off-the-government crew that Romney so firmly believes is holding the economy back. Because I enjoyed being on unemployment, right? Reality: I looked for a job every week and despite sending out over 200 resumes and individually written cover letters I got virtually no response. Not a single job offer in Portland, Oregon, which is where, for better or worse, we live and cannot relocate from. 

Last week I did get a job offer at a national retailer and as nothing has turned up in my field, I accepted. I’m not going to name them because then I’d have to put up all sorts of disclaimers about corporate secrets etc. but you’ve all shopped in their stores. I’ve been hired as a temporary sales associate for the princely sum of minimum wage and, obviously, because this is the new paradigm, NO benefits. You see, companies can hire temp workers to work 40 hours a week, but they don’t have to give them any benefits because they’re not real employees. It’s a slick new trick more and more companies are trying because they hate paying benefits. Does it make their profits go up? Sure. Does it build any kind of real corporate stability or a corporate culture beyond ‘how do I pay myself an obscene bonus without affecting the bottom line’? No, but the future doesn’t seem to be of much concern for these guys. 

So, at age 51, after over a decade working in an office environment, I now find myself expected to stand on my feet for 8 hours a day. I had my first day yesterday and by hour 7 ½ I was shaking with fatigue and knew my brain to be shutting down. I’m not exaggerating here, and those of you who know my medical situation know that fatigue can and will hit like Katrina. I have no levee to protect my functionality and when exhausted become like a small child—staggery and speechless. That plus the neuropathy in my feet means they alternately burn and cramp no matter how good the shoes, adding to the fun. Could anyone tell? Probably not, but it felt bad. 

What I was left with when I got home (and after the best husband in the world had fed me a small, healthy dinner and bundled me off to bed) was a multitude of feelings. One, a deep sadness that I may not be able to physically manage this job. Bottom line, no drama. If I can’t stand up, I can’t. Which begs the question: what if I HAD to have this job? Because right now, I don’t. I’m just concerned about having no income at this stage of my life so I took it. And if it’s problematic now then how likely is it I could do the work in another 5 years? There are hundreds of thousands of people out there doing work much worse than anything I’ve ever known and in pain and worsening health every day. I felt weak and spoiled. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall Fashion 2012: Oscar de la Renta


Oscar de la Renta has been the epitome of elegance and class for decades. His collections are extravagant without being gaudy and always feminine. For fall, he seems to adopt the ‘more is more’ edict that went out (unbeknownst to the rest of us) but in a way that still allows the beauty of the clothes, and their flawless construction, to shine through. Do I like the Marlo-Thomas-That-Girl hair gone wild? No, but affectation is the standard in runway shows. Look beyond that and you’ll see modern, fun, fresh clothes.
 
 
 Two sweet suits, only not so much. These have a bit of much needed sass. On the left the jacket is an exploded plaid version of the skirt, with a soft peplum. On the right, I love pink and grey together and the sheer silk blouse is gorgeous. I'd wear this right now- minus the fishnets. 


 The taupe sheath covered in black lace and bejeweled screams ladies-who-lunch (in the best way possible) while the deep blue of the pants and jacket are so saturated and lush the eye is transfixed. Another fox collar for fun.


There is always evening wear aplenty at fashion week and I'll likely come back to it, but thought, as part of a collection, both of these dresses were stand-outs. The patterning and beading on the left feels almost Native American with the full length fur (faux or real?) for extra glamour. On the right is that sea blue I love done in a cutout lace slit dress. Simple but not.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall Fashion 2012: Alberta Ferretti

Alberta Ferretti is a gentle, petite, Italian woman from the northern coast of Italy. For the most part she has been known for light party dresses but this fall she mixes it up in a way I found particularly interesting. Like Haider Ackermann, she stuck with silhouettes that were more tailored but juxtaposed heavier fabrics like wool, mohair, and fur in dark colors against tissue-thin silk dresses. It gave the collection a look that was both serious but feminine.


 All business pinstriped coat on the left but on the right a more playful interpretation of a jacket and skirt. The oversized, soft sweater plays perfectly with the chiffon/feather skirt.


 It's fall but Ferretti nails it with a white business suit. The belted waist and color let everyone know you don't follow the rules. Again with the soft, scrunchy sweater this time paired with a leather cut-out skirt. If you must try leather this fall do it in a more interesting way like this. 


Obviously, I like a burst of color after monchromatics because just like Ackermann, Ferretti shows light feminine dresses with intricate cutwork in silk, chiffon and lace. Very wearable and the perfect length.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall Fashion 2012: Haider Ackermann


Each season I like to present the designers whose collections I most admired (or desired). This fall was more difficult than any previous season. A collection is comprised of 30-50 pieces and my criteria is that I must LOVE at least 6 pieces to showcase the designer. Last year was a cinch, as I must have been on ecstacy because I loved everything. Carolina Herrara and MaxMara, Michael Kors and Donnna Karan, Ralph Rucci and Elie Saab, and YSL and Givenchy: go look. These are clothes you ache for—even if you have nowhere to wear them. Just looking made me giddy. This year…not so much. 

There was a stand-out, a designer who seemed to recognize that opulence and design still need to equate to wearability. His name is Haider Ackermann and he has long been known for his very severe, architectural looks and androgyny—not concepts I’m drawn to. This fall he held to his aesthetic but warmed and softened it and amid the explosion and confusion of other designers, this felt like a slice of luxurious reality. A woman could wear these clothes and be flattered by them. See for yourself.
 


Subdued neutrals with a trace of color at the neck. Long lean skirts are my favorite kind especially when combined with a soft draped top. The eggplant leather coat is fabulous.
 
 
 
More eggplant, in an origami wrapped leather jacket and full trousers- another plus, as I have no interest in the whole cropped pant look. On the right, it’s another slim skirt beautifully paired with a blush shantung jacket. Stunning.
 
 
 
And just when your eye is lulled—explosive fall color. This is astonishing and only a taste of what he showed. There was pumpkin, paprika, mustard, red…all beautifully combine in a way that did not overwhelm or clash but grabbed and held your attention. The drapey silk blouse with its intricate folds, on the left, sets off the slim pants. On the right, the blouse is like a piece of art and yet seductively soft.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fall Fashion 2012: Trends


The kiddies are back in school and while the days may be verging on hot the nights are cool enough for an extra blanket. Thus, I’m calling it-it’s fall and time to begin the journey into what’s new in the fashion world. I’ve hinted that this fall was particularly disappointing but am going to hold off on why and keep things upbeat with some of the trends I’ve seen that interest me. 

For me, burgundy and navy are synonymous as neutrals. Navy made a comeback after almost a decade of derision by fashionistas (and I screamed ‘I told you so’) and this year there was the same uptick in showings of burgundy (or wine or cordovan or whatever you want to call it). This is good news for everyone because really, aren’t you getting tired of black?
 


Gucci chiffon dress, Tory Burch spectator maryjane, Alexander McQueen wool pencil skirt, T by Alexander Wang dress, Luxury Rebel pump, Valentino chiffon/lace blouse, Gucci sweater
 
 
There are several names for this trend: black and gold, baroque, luxe. I’m going with luxe because it encompasses the many ways opulence is popping up in fall fashion. My caveat—if this is a trend you like proceed with caution. It’s not the eighties anymore and economically we’re anything but luxe (which I’ll address later), but if you feel like a little extra bling the fashion world is right there with you this fall.

 Dolce & Gabbana dress, Lanvin dress,Robert Coin earrings, Marches dress, Oscar de la Renta fox/ostrich clutch, Balmain boots, Zac Posen metallic brocade skirt


 
It might seem odd to call a coat a trend but when there is such a plethora of options, compared with years past, it becomes noteworthy. Designers will often throw in an outerwear piece in their fall line but it’s just that—a throwaway piece with little thought. This year’s crop of outerwear covers the gamut and what you see here is my condensed version of my favorites. Too many choices!
 

 Carolina Herrera, 3.1 Phillip Lim, DKNY updated leather motorcycle jacket, Alberta Ferretti fur, Burberry, Ralph Lauren (minus the top hat to distract, this is a gorgeous red/black plaid)

 
 
I’ll be back during the week to showcase some of my favorite designers’ collections for fall. Stay tuned!
 
 
Images provided by: Vogue, InStyle, and Polyvore

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Perfect Perfume


Fashion Week is wrapping up and normally I would be a frenzied hash of activity preparing for my upcoming reviews of Fall 2012 but I’m much more subdued. The collections left me listless and annoyed. I’ll go into more later but for right now- how delicious is this? Combining my two favorite things: books (The Gilmore Guide to Books) and girliness. I don’t know if this will ever make it into stores (or if it even smells good) but the photos alone make me smile. I am one of those freaks who thinks the smell of either a brand new book or a very old one is luscious. A perfect combination of history and mystery.
 
 

 

Here’s the news: Wallpaper Magazine commissioned famed perfumer Geza Schoen to find a way to bottle the indescribable smell. 

For Schoen, minimalism was key in achieving the scent. Though most perfumes consist of 100-plus ingredients, Paper Passion features only five woody ingredients. "The smell of printed paper is dry and fatty; they are not notes you often work with," Schoen told the New York Daily News. Fittingly, the perfume comes packaged in a white-bound book with pages cut out to hold the bottle. Its release is timed with the Handmade issue of Wallpaper, out on July 11, and will retail for $98.
From The Huffington Post, July 19, 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Touch of Fall- Handbags


Next week begins Fashion Week in NYC but it is the weird out-of-season week that the fashion industry likes to foist on us so we can feel out of sync with the natural world. Spring clothes? I get that buyers need to order now but couldn’t you have private shows and save the public stuff for what we can purchase in the next month or so? And I’m not saying that as a rank amateur, I was a clothing buyer for 3 years and understand the process.
 

Before I get into Fall fashion (which is how I fight back) I thought I’d start with an amuse bouche of one group of accessories that has consistently caught my eye in the magazine ads. Handbags. Because, well, they’re kind of seasonless, right? And as I can’t afford any of these it‘s a case of visual lust- nothing more or less.

 
 
 Louis Vuitton abandoning the initials and going, instead, for sparkly. Practical shapes but extravagent fabric.

 
 
 
 I love this Lanvin bag in velvet with the girly heart and ribbon laced chain. Chic without being too young.
 

 
 My two favorite Vuitton of the season. Love the colors and the shapes. And yes, even the ubiquitous LV initials on the bag on the right.



 
Orange and purple in ostrich for fall? Why not? The shapes are just perfect.
 


What's catching your eye these days?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Art in the Pearl festival


Labor Day is a big weekend in Portland partly because we know the gorgeousness of the weather is not going to last much longer but also because it signals the Art in the Pearl Festival every year. This year I attended with a dear friend who was in town so it was twice the fun.

There were four city blocks of artists, demonstrations, food, and music. Here are a few of the items that caught my eye. In several cases, the artists did not allow photos. I’m not quite sure why unless they were concerned that the resulting photos would not represent their work as well as the professional photos on their websites. Where I needed to I pulled photos from websites but included attribution.
 
 
These are amazing garments made out of felt. Artist Jenne Giles, paints wool fibers in layers until she has a felt-like background then wetting and rolling it she incorporates natural dyes to create the fabric. It's soft but moldable. Very interesting. Harlequinfeltworks 


 Loved the rounded edges of these chairs- creates a dichtomy of hard and soft.
 
 
Isn't this darling? You can put a glass candle inside and it creates a soft glow.

 
I found artist Jolin El-Hai's booth to be one of the most visually stunning booths at the festival. The walls are all dark fabric and these wonderful light installations create a magical glow. These are cake lamps- designed to look like extravagent cakes but act like a tiny lamp.


It was hard to capture because of my flash but this suitcase is lit from within. You can see more of El-Hai's work at Bella Luz Studio


Gary Knapp at Cats Eye Craftsman creates beautiful clocks made of inlaid wood with glass and metal inserts.
 
 
HiiH are ethereal fiber lamps painted with natural dyes such as walnut ink. I can imagine these hanging in an outdoor space.
 
 
 Kaylaa Milaine of Wire Weavers makes this incredibly delicate and unusual jewelry by crocheting fine wires of sterling, copper, or gold to create light and flexible works of art. The cuff bracelets were my favorite.
 


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Portland Food: Nostrana


Saturday night J and I went to a marvelous restaurant called Nostrana. Owner and chef Cathy Whims was a 2012 James Beard finalist for Best Chef NW and is known for her authentic Italian cuisine.  

The restaurant is a large open space with floor to ceiling shelving behind the bar housing liquors from around the world and an open kitchen fronted with an enormous brick oven. One of the house specialties is Sicilian pizzas cooked in the oven and served the Sicilian way—with scissors for cutting into the crispy thin crust. I didn’t opt for a pizza but saw several heading out to tables and they looked amazing. We decided we’d have to come back for lunch before the tomatoes go out of season.
 
 
 
 


 

The meal was a generous gift from my brother and sister-in-law to J for his birthday. On the drive to the restaurant he asked if I’d brought my wallet as he wasn’t using his gift certificate to pay for my meal. He’s a charmer, yes? 

I started with an unusual salad of greens and heirloom tomatoes on top of a poblano chile sformato. No idea what that is? Neither did I but it sounded it good and it was. Basically, a sformato is like a soufflĂ©. So this was a light eggy warm concoction with the gentle heat of poblano chiles throughout. It melted in my mouth. 
 
 

For my entrĂ©e, I stuck with a classic—roasted chicken and creamy polenta. J had fresh cut fettucine with bay scallops, baby spinach and spec (a cured pork product). Both were wonderful- my chicken crispy and smoky on the outside and tender inside. It was served with a romesco sauce and that was another new item for me. It is ground nuts and smoked peppers so very earthy but with a soft heat. It paired perfectly with the chicken. 
 



 

And, of course, we couldn’t leave without dessert, which was another huge success. A butterscotch budino with a salted caramel topping. Budino is an Italian custard so don’t even start thinking about the calorie count. It was insanely delicious. The custard was on the bottom so you cut through the salted caramel and if you did it properly got a spoonful of sweet creamy deliciousness cut with salt and the burnt tang of caramel. Even J got into the action and he is not a dessert person. This was one of my favorites.
 
Heaven on earth. The top is not whipped cream but marscapone cheese which has a yogurt-like tang. The combination of all these flavors was spectacular.
 
 
So, another lovely Portland evening. We’re still in daylight at 8pm but it’s fading fast and the nights are getting chilly. One of my favorite times of year. Celebrating it with a sublime meal only makes it better!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Twelve Years Ago

It would be nice if I could be creative every year but this is still one of my favorite posts. Written last year to celebrate my 11th anniversary. Tonight is year 12 and he's still the best guy for me.

Enjoy this repeat...

Standing with my father as he practiced lifting the blusher from over my face and smoothing it over my tiara. His hands shook and there were several tries before he could do it without making me look like there was a giant marshmallow on top of my head.

J showing up at my parents’ house. My calm and self-possession vanishing at that point; running into my parents bedroom. Frantically, calling my maid of honor and shrieking at her, “He’s here! Why he is here? I told him the ONLY fucking thing he needed to remember was he COULD NOT see me today before the wedding. Is he fucking stupid? I mean is it asking too much?” All before she could say anything more than hello. The f bombs flying like commas as I shredded his intelligence, his love for me, his ability to understand basic English. Turning away from the wall to see my mother standing in the room; the woman for whom ‘Jeez’ was cursing because she knew “you’re really taking the Lord’s name in vain”. Awaiting a serious dressing down and hearing only her kind voice, “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Stopping cold before beginning an explanation of yes, of course but how could he be so stupid when she interrupted and said, “Then I think you should take this. Maybe just half” and handed me a Xanax. Ah, mothers.

Pizza lunch with my brother, who had been elected to deal with the nutjob, and then the afternoon to myself at the bed and breakfast where we would spend the night. Going to the drugstore and purchasing a bottle of Mr. Bubble because the room had a huge claw foot tub and a bubble bath would be the perfect relaxer before events took over.

Arriving at the salon an hour late because after being the timing police for everyone else I forgot what time I was supposed to be there. Hubris.

Prepped, dressed, and photographed, standing in the back of the church, carefully hidden from the guests and listening to the music while trying to stay calm. My father coming back, taking my hand, and smiling. “Doing all right? It’s almost time”. Feeling the need to cry but not sure why.

The aisle of forever, wanting to stop and say hello to dear friends I hadn’t seen in years before remembering that I needed to get to the front. Seeing J tall and serious waiting for me. Thinking I was doing so well until afterwards in the quiet of the limo going to the reception he told me that my hand trembled the entire time he held it. When I vehemently denied shaking he said, “Not shaking. Like a tiny animal when you hold it, shivering inside.” So much for control.

The hard part over, the party began. So many family and friends, so much love. Booze, food, amazing music. My own bottle of champagne because while it was pre-Bridezilla days I wanted what I wanted- a beautiful bottle of Perrier-Joet.

Dancing, dancing, and more dancing. Now it was dear J’s turn for fear because he was phobic about it. I told him we didn’t have to but he rose to the occasion. So tall and handsome that even standing still and swaying he looked elegant. Nat King Cole singing Unforgettable.

Frenetic jumping around to It’s Raining Men and my sister in law turning to me with a horrified look on her face to say, “My bra just slid down to my waist.”

At 11:30 it was my father and his friends who were lined up at the bar doing tequila shots. The young folk were winding down and heading out. We had mingled, talked, hugged, and kissed so many people and yet there were those I did not get to see. How did it go so fast?

Arriving back at the inn and standing on the sidewalk waving at cars full of people who honked at us and yelled congratulations. Feeling a bit royal and not wanting to go inside because really, when would I ever wear a dress this grand again or a tiara?

Getting to the room and finding that my sister-in-law had covered the bed with M&Ms which worked out well because we were still hungry. Getting partially undressed (the tiara stayed on) and sitting in bed eating candy and rehashing the night until we both fell asleep.

Eleven years ago today I was a bride.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Harvest Time: Lavender


It’s been well established that J is the farmer in our family, responsible for such stellar harvests as our tomatoes but my success in the garden is less known. I’m the gentler gardener- interested in flowers, what smells nice and looks appealing. One of my favorite, all-purpose plants is lavender. It is lovely to look at with its soft silvery-grey leaves and delicate heads of deep purple. Despite its fragile look it’s a hardy plant as I’ve successfully grown it in the blast furnace heat and sun of Utah and in the cooler damper clime of Portland. In both places, one plant has rapidly expanded to fill a space double its original size, which may be the caveat for this lovely lady. You need to cut it back frequently as it can get leggy and scrawny looking. Aggressive clipping allows it to fill in and makes it even better looking. 

Appearance aside, lavender is also a wonderful flower for its many uses. My favorite is to dry it and create sachets or just fill bowls with the buds. If you think it sounds like a lot of work- relax. When do I ever do anything that requires extensive effort? 

If you’ve got a lavender plant and want to harvest the flowers here’s what you need to know. Wait until you have a reasonable bunch of blooming stems. When the blooms are at their peak (or a bit before) in the morning or early evening (not at any time when the sun and heat are at their peak) clip the stems you want, preferably well down the length of the stem, both to help with hanging and to help with regrowth as mentioned above. You want the blooms that are not faded. A bit older is all right but oftentimes these dry out too quickly and the stems break making a mess when you’re removing the buds. 

Once you’ve gotten a good sized bunch, using any kind of binding material (rubber bands, florists wire, twist ties, twine) tightly bind the stems close to the bottom of the bunch. Then, part one of the delight of lavender begins- picking a place to hang it. I often opt for a closet as the air will be gently scented via the drying process but if you have a hanging rack or rod in your laundry room that’s also a good idea. The process will take about 2-3 weeks depending on where you live. Portland in the rain? Give it a month. Colorado in the summer? 4 days. You can test dryness by rubbing your finger along a stem. If the buds flake off easily, it’s ready. 
 
New bunch from today, hanging out with my winter clothes
 

This bunch is dried but the color is still so vibrant! Note the high tech rubber band and wire hanger. I AM McGyver.
 
 
Find a clean flat surface and a container to put the buds in. Taking a stalk gently rub it between your fingers. The buds should start coming off without breaking the stalk. You can also do more than one stalk at a time. You won’t want or need to rub too hard as they should separate and you don’t want the stalks to break/crumble. For me, this is an old-fashioned time. I’m harvesting something from nature and there’s no rushing. The lovely scent of lavender fills the air and scents my fingertips. Quiet pleasure. 

Once you’ve got enough buds you can either put them in decorative bowls in rooms where you’re looking for peaceful calm or that get musty and need freshening. You can also put them in small fabric bags (make them if you’re inclined or they carry them at Joann Fabrics) and put them in drawers. I like them in the linen closet between folded sheets. 
 
Lavender is both soothing and calming so keeping it near your bed is a natural way to promote good sleep. This lovely glass dish belonged to my grandmother so it's even more meaningful.

With a minimum of effort, you can lightly scent your home. You can also cut bunches and bring them inside as a bouquet. They’re not the showiest flowers in the garden but lavender rewards in so many ways.
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