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Little Betty!

toddler,overalls,denim,

Even though my sewing machine is currently packed away while we await the finish of our new place https://buildingasmallhouse.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/first-blog-post/, I’ve begun to seek out small denim items for fun embellishment projects in the near future. I know now is not too early to plan for a couple of 2017 local craft fairs.

toddler,overalls,denim, I spied these toddler overalls at a local thrift store recently and couldn’t resist…how sweet would these be embellished with bright cotton print around the cuffs? The past couple of craft fairs had me wishing that I had more pieces for children, and indeed, they’re a lot of fun to put together. Much of the children’s thrift store clothing that I see is in hardly worn condition, perfect for a makeover. And many people really seem to enjoy seeking out special items for the children in their lives. Buttons in lieu of studs, and bright cotton print in lieu of lace and what do we have? Little Betty!

child,toddler,denim vest,upcycled,embellished,bright colorsdenim,jacket,tween,patchwork,scrap fabric

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Suitcase Living

We’ve been back in Washington for about two weeks now, and what a blenderful it has been! Not exactly my favorite smoothie, either…

It did not take very long for the crummy old rented trailer to turn into the trailer debacle; we have now moved into my mother’s guest room. This has its good and frustrating points; I don’t know that I’ve ever felt the difference between visiting and living with someone so sharply. I also didn’t know that it was possible to value a mini fridge as much as I do right now.

Had to be selective about what to cram into the guest room….sewing machine or amp? Guitar or ironing board? Since I won’t be doing any sewing for awhile, I’ve been going through mom’s boxes of stuff and posting some of it for sale on eBay. What a trip down memory lane that’s been! That she has still, from the late 60s (I had no idea) a Mattel Liddle Kiddles Talking Townhouse100_3470

that apparently had belonged to my sister really surprised me, even though I know well and good that there’s little she throws away. Does anyone remember this Mattel toy? Sooooo groovy, with the elevator! http://www.fashion-doll-guide.com/Vintage-Little-Kiddles.html

And then there are the vintage dresses 100_3422-2 that she has had closeted away for so long…I am going to be busy for weeks eBaying this stuff!

Real transition going on for Betty https://www.facebook.com/betterbettyrocker these days as well. We are now spread out over three states, and beginning to work on new material via Skype-it has been sad and exciting at the same time for all. All this followed closely on the heels of four songs recorded in August at Dogwater Studios http://www.dogwaterstudios.com/ over three memorable days! We hope to meet up in December to play a show-stay tuned!

So that’s my life at the moment…trying to maintain some creative flow and establish structure and routine while living out of my suitcase.

 

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Music On The Road

I5 Bridge Portland

I’ve decided to write about my relocation experience from Nevada back up to Washington, where I lived prior to Nevada. This move will involve an interim stint in a rented travel trailer while we build a small apartment over a garage to live in. I have no idea how I’ll carry on with music, sewing and other creative projects in said travel trailer, but I’m going to try!

I’m writing on the road from Roseburg, Oregon. Today began with tears as I left the gas station in Carson City; people I’ve come to love are in Nevada, and indeed, most of my reinvented identity-how do I know it will follow, and if not, where the heck might it go? In other times I’m not troubled by such thoughts, but putting this scenario in motion has dragged up emotions I wasn’t aware I had. On this trip up I’ll drop my car off, fly back to Reno, and do the actual move next week…

Driving with such a heavy heart called for music that would take me out of my troubled head, and I’d packed a bag (yeah, the real thing, no Bluetooth or whatever for old-school me!) of Zeppelin cds.

      DR0000_0737.mp3

Yes. John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Bonham, wherever you all are, you should know about the enduring magic of your art. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDwotNLyz10

 

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The Music That Carries Us Through

Lately my head has been a jumble of all the things that come into play when I’m in song writing mode. That means swirling bits of all of the millions of hours of music I’ve ever listened to…I don’t even want to estimate those hours-it probably IS in the millions… The drummer in my band, Rick, is a huge 311 fan and the other day mentioned in a post how their music has carried and supported him when he’s needed it. I was thinking about that-how music can be a lifeblood for some of us- while reading a Rolling Stone article about the current Spirit/Led Zeppelin copyright infringement case http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/jimmy-page-testifies-as-stairway-to-heaven-spirit-trial-heats-up-20160616 . The line between being influenced by a song you absolutely love, perhaps a song you’ve had in your head for years, and actually playing nearly the same thing is a blurry grey one sometimes. Where do those particularly phrased notes and riffs come from? When I occasionally succeed in nailing down an idea for a new song, I know it means that the swirling bits have settled down into something I can use.

RockSummer of 77

These thoughts brought to mind my now practically ancient music scrapbook. Really this is just an ugly old blue binder that I filled with notebook paper and taped clippings from favorite bands into back in the mid 70s. I’d like to share some of it here and in future posts. But back to music as such a force in our lives…I know it is why I likely began clipping, jotting down song lyrics and listening to the first of those millions of hours of music as a young person, and apparently why I’ve been unable to toss the old binder.

Boz Scaggs collage Boz Scaggs always did it for me, and my copy of Silk Degrees is just about worn through!

DB collageSo many very personal memories attached to early Bowie. I still remember listening to Rebel Rebel from the cassette player in the truck of a boy my parents didn’t want me seeing. I’ve always experienced David Bowie as alternately defiant and lovely.

PicMonkey Collage BOCOh, Blue Oyster, how I love you still. This has to be one of the records that made me want to make heavy guitar sounds (Dad said no, so this didn’t happen for another 35 years). Awesome, incredible band. The song Dominance And Submission https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiF8uSulVc0 on the record I have pictured here, Secret Treaties, is cool sounding still, with a great riff and jaw dropping outro solo. Buck Dharma is one of my heroes indeed!

So here I am, about to post this and then go listen to a rough track of a new Betty song and try to figure out the rest of my parts. The missing bits are probably already swirling around in my head.

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She Has Funny Hats

beret,upcycled,diy hat

Most of the time I seem to have too much on my plate to commit to a major creation, so I lean toward simple ones that can be completed in a single sitting. Alas, this same situation applies to the songs I come up with, but I feel happier completing something rather than nothing, and I suspect that this is true for many. I also lean toward reuse, and simple hats certainly qualify here.

The three hats pictured are super easy creations that are fun to do and can be put together in under an hour. Below is a stretchy beret style hat that consists of six pie shaped panels cut from an old sweatshirt. These were sewn together to make a circle, which was then gathered and pinned onto the band, which is simply two old socks less the feet. Stitch these two pieces together, and you’ve got a new hat!

upcycled,hat,beret
Upcycled sweatshirt and socks into beret style hat

The retro brown-orange hat with green band was put together in the same way, both fabrics from stretchy knit ts and tanks. Doubling the band fabric gives it stability and a more finished look.

beret,upcycled,diy hat
Upcycled t shirts made into beret

The last hat has a little bit of a backstory to it…

A few years ago my band https://www.facebook.com/betterbettyrocker was planning a casual photo shoot, and naturally the topic of what to wear came up. We decided on black and white, with some sort of hat. I thought I might like to wear a pillbox style hat, but found vintage ones to be more than I wanted to spend just for this occasion. After band practice one day, I was lamenting this situation to Carolyn and she said that I would probably just make one out of an oatmeal box…it’s exactly what I did!

Pillbox inspired hat made from oatmeal box
Pillbox inspired hat made from oatmeal box

With a glue gun I attached an old linen napkin, lace, braid and faux pearls. It was a bit heavy, not perfect, and indeed had to be pinned to my hair for the photos but for that purpose was just the ticket-and so much fun!

Wearing my oatmeal box pillbox hat for the Betty Rocker photo shoot
Wearing my oatmeal box pillbox hat for the Betty Rocker photo shoot
Betty Rocker
Betty Rocker

If time ever permits I’d love to try my hand at a more serious endeavor. Do you have a favorite funny hat of your own?

 

 

 

 

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Betty’s Flax Seed Chocolate Coconut Rock Snacks

It began as a hostess gift, when Carolyn invited me to join her for a jam session (I was terrified, and indeed, that is a whole other story). Then came the realization that, on an evening after working all day, trying to make music was a bit of an energy drain. By the time we had a name (yeah, our name was surely inspired by that other famous baking Betty), a drummer, a set list and two hours to rehearse it, Betty Rocker https://www.newsreview.com/reno/baked-goods/content?oid=14962152 was full tilt into rock snacks!

Ready to rock!
Ready to rock!

 

 

 

 

I have enjoyed baking for most of my life, and love to share healthy treats with friends. Baking is a great way to add seeds, fruit, nuts, whole grains and seems to have broad appeal. It is a simple matter to make healthier substitutions and cut fat in recipes you already love. Applesauce or other pureed fruit, yogurt or nut milks can replace some of the fat in many baked goods. Whole grain flours and ground nuts and seeds can replace white flour and provide nicer texture and flavor. Certainly you can create art in the kitchen when you shake up an existing recipe!

So here is a simple recipe for flax seed bars that you can take some further liberties with, just keep the dough cohesive and somewhat sticky and you’ll be fine.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour                                1 cup raw sugar (or brown sugar)

1 1/4 cup quick oats                                           1/4 cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons flax seeds                                    1 egg

1 teaspoon coarsely ground coffee beans      1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

4 tablespoons unsweetened coconut              1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt                                          1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

About one tablespoon flavoring of your choice, vanilla, rum, maple, bourbon are all lovely!

Up to a half cup of nut milk, plain yogurt, soy milk, dairy milk, whatever you like, to dampen as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Very lightly grease a 9 X 12 inch baking dish. Grind flax seeds with coffee until thoroughly chopped, but not dust. Mix softened butter and sugar until creamy. Add all dry ingredients except chocolate. Mix, and begin to add milk or yogurt choice as necessary to make a somewhat firm, sticky, cohesive dough. Then add chocolate chips. Spread evenly in prepared 9 X 12 inch baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Baking time will vary with oven-check after 20 minutes. After cooling completely, cut into bars and store in airtight container-they freeze very well. Makes two dozen soft small squares.

A few of these bars will sustain you through a couple of hours of sweaty rock and roll fun-enjoy!

 

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Inspiration, Shyness, And Self Promotion

One month into 2016 and I find I’m groveling a bit for inspiration to fuel my denim creations. Last week I did my second ever children’s piece which was truly fun to do http://bettyrockwear.com/product/girls-colorful-denim-vest-size-6/ and something I look forward to doing again.

But there’s a struggle at play here, too. It’s the resistance I encounter within myself when I’m inspired to cut loose and just try anything. Last year I found a lovely, simple, ivory short-sleeved lace bodice wedding dress with an elaborate floor-length bow in back; I’ve had so many ideas for making a denim wedding jacket (a denim wedding jacket??) but have yet to take scissors to that piece and begin. And then there’s another part to the struggle-getting the word out. Just yesterday afternoon I was having a phone conversation with a very dear old friend about how my very own shyness gets in the way of self promotion; it’s a tough thing to manage in this endeavor, but I’ve decided to soldier on…

One of the best examples I’ve seen of just cutting loose denim (yeah, I know, but I think of this as cutting loose rather than cutting edge) is this brilliant idea from C & C Pop-Up Shop http://cncpopupshop.com/cncpopupshop/2014/2/10/diy-upcycled-denim-jackets

fabulous, isn’t it?

How do you meet your resistance head on?

 

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Things To Do, Books To Read, In 2016

End of the first week of January already, and I’ve not begun any of the projects that escaped me during the last few months of 2015. I had envisioned, from day one of this new year, new creations emerging from the sewing table, signing up for springtime craft fairs, cramming for a rock show, etc. But! Not one of those things has happened; the slate’s instead been full of mundane catch up.

Sometimes the desire to just check out and escape in a good book nearly outweighs the desire to make exciting things happen-ever feel like that?

In the case of that happening-or if I find some time-this looks like some truly entertaining rock and roll reading:

https://twitter.com/littlesteven_ug/status/681894570611863552

Happy New Year!

 

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Craft Fair Lessons Learned


Tween Jean Jacket front

Tween Jean JacketTween Jean Jacket apple patch

Tween Jean Jacket Recently I did my second craft fair ever. The YAH Craft Fair was put on by the Young At Heart senior group in Gardnerville, NV https://www.facebook.com/DouglasCountyCommunityandSeniorCenter/ and was a great event!

It also proved to be a learning opportunity for me. Though I did fairly well, and met some lovely people, I could have done far better, if only:

  1. I remembered that (duh!) holidays are approaching and many fair goers were shopping for gifts
  2. Many of those fair goers were shopping for gifts for children
  3. Winter in Nevada is chilly, and people are not interested in skimpy summer wear…….right?
  4. Good idea to have more than twenty items in your booth space

Why the oversight on the above mentions? Well, the past few months have been filled with various life distractions, and when that happens my calendar somehow gets distorted (turn the pedal OFF-ha!) and I don’t always see holidays coming. As I have no children, I forget to appreciate that many folks will buy for children before they buy for themselves. The tween jacket pictured http://bettyrockwear.com/product/back-to-school-tween-jean-jacket/ here is a piece that I donated to the fair’s raffle, and it received a lot of positive attention that day; I realized right away that I should have had more to offer like it. The jacket, incidentally, was a kick to do, and I look forward to crafting more whimsical denim wear for the smaller set.

Another realization that day was that what seemed like a great pile of inventory crammed into my tiny home work space hardly filled that booth space-I was instantly sorry I’d not spent more time sewing in the weeks prior.

What was a hit was my dummy (at right in lead photo) dressed to rock out; sneak peeks at the dummy from some of the older gentlemen was completely amusing!

Good takeaway. Good lessons learned.

 

https://twitter.com/bettyrockwear

https://www.facebook.com/bettyrockwear/?ref=hl

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Betty’s Busy Life

Betty has been busy with both hats on!

Over the summer we https://www.facebook.com/betterbettyrocker had a fantastic time playing a number of shows in the Reno-Carson-Tahoe area. We debuted a few new

      DR0000_0428.mp3

songs (that aren’t really new anymore!) and are now taking a break while we work on new material as it turns cold here in Northern Nevada.

Black Tshirts jeans Betty Rocker (2)

At this writing I’m prepping for a local craft fair http://carsonnow.org/reader-content/11/10/2015/1121-young-heart-holiday-craft-fairraffle the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Hopefully a few fair-goers will be inspired to get a new denim jacket or vest for their inner punk rocker! http://bettyrockwear.com/product/betty-rocker-denim-zip-jacket-with-faux-fur-trim/

I have also been having fun doing simple loom knitting, covering a couple of birthday gifts as well as some upcoming holiday gifts; very gratifying, loom knitting.

For now, back to the sewing machine, and then on to the guitar and the search for a cool riff 🙂

Faux fur side close up