Don't Call It a Meet-Up: Vintage Sisterhood Gathering 2.0

Last Friday afternoon Mycie and I packed up and headed on down the road toward Santa Rosa, by way of Sacramento, where we met up with Heather and piled into her car. It was a big surprise 40th birthday weekend for Missa that her husband Lucas had meticulously planned and organized (and that went off without a hitch).

From left to right: Nicky of The Stitchy Life, Milla of The Girl Who Married A Bear, Anne of A Cup Full Of Sunshine, myself, Missa of Thrift Candy, and Heather of Moonshine Junkyard.

I'll let Missa give you all the details when she recovers from a weekend chock full of utter surprises and gets around to blogging about it. But the short story is: Milla arrived first on Friday afternoon after flying down from Washington. As Missa was settling into that surprise Heather, Mycie, and I knocked on her door. She made a joke about the entire blogosphere showing up at her house. Which came even more true the next day when Nicky and Anne pulled up to the curb. Heather and I headed back home that afternoon, but everyone else stuck around for the last of Missa's surprises- a huge party with a live band, a clothing rack of thrifted goodies, and plenty of friends and family (I can't wait to read all about it!).

But let's take it back to Friday evening. While Lucas watched Clover and Mycie, the four of us headed to a local Mexican place for dinner. It was so nice to be alone together and catch up. It's been a year since our last- and first- gathering (which I blogged about in Circle of Sisters Bound By Blood and Vintage Drink Beer and Sing Old Earth Songs to the Full Moon).

Back at the house, Heather had gift packages for all of our Aquarian birthdays.

And we all, of course, had our cameras out and clicking away. The entire time we were together. It was really nice for all of us to be around other people who are as focused on documenting everything that happens as we all are :-)

Clover received a new prairie dress from Heather, and Mycie was shyly happy about her new sailor dress.

New books for Mycie. You may have seen Heather's post about Opal, which inspired me to read and fall in love with her book as well. The language in it is so sweet and charming, and I am happy to get to share that with Mycie now in a childrens' book.

Missa's kitty Zephyr was the star of the weekend, to be sure.

Good thing we all check out the book sections at thrift stores as much as the dress sections; there were some pretty neat old books floating around the room.

How happy was I about this dress?

How cute did I think Heather's new scarf from Missa was?

Don't you agree?

My books from Heather.

This Cooking With Flowers book is the sweetest thing I have ever seen.

Missa gave Heather one of my favorite childrens' books, Ten Little Rabbits, which inspired a conversation between Milla and I about how childrens' books are one of the best parts about parenting. I can't wait to watch Heather fall in love with more of them after her baby comes.

I'd have to say that, when it comes to gift getting, people who read your blog are probably in a better position than anyone else to find you the perfect things. We all know each others' interests and obsessions inside & out. And since we all thrift so often, the chances that we'll find some obscure item related to said obsessions are pretty high.

Heather's recent post about the awesomeness of stretch pants (especially for pregnancy), inspired this gift from Missa and one from Anne the next day as well.

Milla tried on her new calico dress, and I sidled off to join a sleeping Mycie in Clover's room...

The next morning we all woke up sleepy-eyed but happy.

Coffee, please.

Missa and Lucas kind of live in every girl's dream house. Every part of it is functional and makes sense for their family, and it's all decorated in the cutest, vintage-y way. Their yard spaces are amazing too, and seemed to be even more lush and verdant after the light mist that fell that morning.

Lucas found this little creature eating at the roots of some of their greens.

The chickens were happy to eat both the leaves and the bugs.

I remembered reading about these solar powered pendulums years ago in Missa's post Sun Days.

One of the loveliest moments of the weekend was when Lucas' mother Oosa stopped by. We've all admired her from afar on Missa's blog, and it was so great to get to meet her in person. She took this photo of us.

Clover and Mycie played kitties a great majority of our time there, and Clover wore this hat and a kitty tail as we all set off for the Farmer's Market.

Mycie was as attached to Milla this year as she was last year.

The produce was pretty unbelievable, considering that we are in what many traditional North American cultures referred to as Hunger Month. I suppose the exceptionally warm NorCal weather we've been having contributed to this year's bounty. During our time at the market the drizzle ceased and a hot sun began shining down upon us.

God bless the small mushroom farmers of the world.

"Can I just have one more teeny piece of honeycomb?" The rad couple who had the honey and other bee products at their stand flattered me completely by asking if Milla and I were sisters :-)

I noticed that we were getting quite a few lingering looks as we strolled around the market. While Clover's costume may have had something to do with it, I finally realized that we were all dressed in ways that not everyone dresses. Looking at this photo taken in Missa's backyard later I realized I was all gussied up in romantic red velvet and lace, Heather looked like a Southwestern hippie mama circa 1986, Milla was a prairie darling in her skirt and moccasins and pigtails, and Missa's outfit was a perfect carefree-but-girly pastel grunge look.

Recreating the pensively-look-at-the-ground pose we've all been known to do in our outfit posts.

On the front porch I modeled my new dress from Heather and this spectacular new shrug that I traded with my girl Lucia for a vintage blouse at our last photo shoot. I am so in love with it, and it worked perfectly with this gown.

As the girls started snapping photos, I grew more and more nervously talkative.

And, apparently, disgusted.

I was telling them how hard it is during a photo shoot when your model keeps talking instead of posing.

And somehow didn't realize, until I saw these photos, that I was doing that very thing.

A few moments later Anne and Nicky showed up! Yet another happy surprise for Missa. Anne had sweet baby Marianne in tow.

They made the 8 hour drive up from Southern California with their husbands, and we were all so thrilled to get to meet them.

And there were more gifts! Anne, having just had her 4th darling baby, had some very sweet maternity clothes for Heather.

Lucas (totally incredible multi-tasking man that he is) watched Mycie and Clover yet again (while juggling all the last minute details for that night's surprise party) while us girls headed into town to do some shopping.

We hit up two thrift stores, an antiques store, and two vintage shops. At one thrift store the ladies behind the counter asked about who we all were and what we were doing. They seemed charmed by our explanation, remembering when they were young and wore fun clothes and still had that air of natural youthful loveliness about them. Oosa expressed similar sentiments, and it reminded me to be grateful for where I'm at in my life right now and for the people I've been blessed to have in it.

Really? I would think that, as the antiques store owner, I'd rather sacrifice the $3 I'd make from this lock of hair than have to stand face to face ringing up the weirdo who buys it.

A huge Bakelite case.

We all fell pretty hard in love with Skirt Chaser Vintage. It's worth a road trip to Santa Rosa, if you're somewhat nearby.

The owner asked if we'd been at the Farmer's Market that morning, and said she'd peeked in and seen us and she drove past and hoped we'd all come into her shop later!

The dressing room was papered in old advertisements, and this one sure did capture my attention.

We took advantage of one final photo op before Heather and I headed home. I am very much looking forward to watching the other girls' posts trickle in, hearing other perspectives on the weekend, and seeing more about how Saturday's big party went!

Sweet Nettle: My Darling Finnish Elf From the North Country

It's been a few weeks now since I received a surprise package in the mail from Milla.

It was just the kind of surprise I like to get- full of good books! And two perfect handmade cloth bags that I have used a thousand times since.

Ella and Mycelia were very excited about all the items there were to remove from the box and peruse.

This beautiful coloring book was one of my favorite things included in the package.

And the girls got right to work coloring in it and reading through the sweetest li'l book, Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow. If you've never seen her books, I highly recommend them as the perfect vintagey woodsy gifts for the children in your life.

I can't wait until Mycie is old enough to read the Narnia series. Thank you so much for these Milla! I have begun reading The Golden Spruce, and I love how it transports me to a misty, numinous Northern land where boundaries are shifty and unusual events take place (it's a true story!).

Milla also included two of the most darling mugs I have ever seen (and I'm a girl who loves and collects darling mugs). Both whale themed, I've used them every day since their arrival.

Check out the little whale tail INSIDE the mug on the right. I love that the one on the left has an image of the great white whale (okay, it could be a beluga, but since its baby is dark I'm saying it's a sperm whale).

And what do your eyes see here?

Delicious dried stinging nettles that Milla hand picked up on her lush island last season! Nettles are extremely nutritious and make a soothing, grounding tea. I've only ever found one patch around here that I am loathe to pick from and thereby diminish, so all of the many nettle infusions I have drunk over the years have been store bought. I can't tell you enough how much it means to me to receive such a gift. For more on the many, many benefits of nettles, check out Sasha's post from her one time blog Kitchen Witch.

I got right to work filling those whale mugs up with nettle infusions. I had been having sinus issues- I think due mostly to the extremely dry atmosphere that permeated Nevada City before we finally got some rain (and would you believe that we have one of the worst air qualities of any place in California? It's true, due to the fact that pollution from the nearby great central valley pools up here in the foothills), and perhaps from some early pollination thanks to all the sunny weather- and was using the Neti pot every few days. I was grateful to have gleaned this one bit of information from my herb teacher Kami McBride that I have never read in any herb book: If you are using nettles to help with mucus membrane issues (which it does), make a cold infusion instead of the usual hot infusion, or it will kill the components in the herb that soothe the membranes (though the vitamins and minerals will be retained). For more on making infusions (which are simply long-steeped herbal teas) see Sasha's post linked to above.

"Nettle makes us open up to life and our senses, but because she doesn't take any crap, she also imparts a vital sense of self-protection." My goodness, re-reading Sasha's words is really making me  miss her herb blog!

Cheers with mugfulls of nourishing herbal brews to all of the amazing women in my life whose friendships fill my heart with love and my mind with fresh ideas and my body with strength and healing.

(Oh! Be sure to check out my current **$50 vintage gift certificate Giveaway!**)

Circle of Sisters Bound by Blood and Vintage Drink Beer and Sing Old Earth Song to the Full Moon

Alternatively titled "When The Girl Who Married a Bear ate some Thrift Candy in a Moonshine Junkyard while wearing Flaming Hag Folkwear and looking out Windows To Green and telling tales of Violet Folklore with SadieDELUXE" (but that's quite a mouthful, don't you think?).

It all started right at the turn of the New Year, when Milla sent Heather, Missa, and myself a message telling us that she and Charlie were coming to California come February (and quoting The O.C. theme song in the process). This was the beginning of what would become an ongoing conversation and weekend planning between the four of us, which later expanded to include a few other fabulous NorCal ladies as well.

We decided pretty quickly that the husbands and children would have to be a part of our weekend, and that we would spend the time between Sacramento, Placerville, and Nevada City. The long anticipated day finally came, and Graham, Mycelia, and I hit the streets of Sacramento ready to meet these women, men, and a certain little Clover for pizza and vintage shopping. Mycie donned her best vintage for the occasion (and then ended up changing clothes about 14 times before the day was through).

Here are the girls at Nicole and Kara's darling little boutique Crimson & Clover. This place is not only where I met Nicole, but also where my and Heather's friendship first blossomed on a chance encounter a year or two back. So the three of us had met each other before, and Missa and Milla had met each other before, but there was much newness to this gathering and we all did our best to put our nervousness at rest.

Which was a pretty easy thing to do, because the open, loving, sharing, supportive feel of our online relationships transferred beautifully into the real world. I think the fact that we all had our closest loved ones with us helped to ease the transition into the excitement of the weekend.

That and the fact that our first real activity centered around the very thing that had brought all of us together in the Blogosphere in the first place- vintage clothing.

And adorable handmade accessories.

Nicole had sweetly wrapped gifts for her fellow Aquarians, and by the next day we were all wearing some of our new items from her. We all left her with goodies too.

That's Milla, Nicole, Missa, myself, and Heather.

Nicole also gifted Mycie this little rayon summer dress, which immediately went on.

Next stop- the foothills. We left Nicole to tend shop (and with plans to see her the next day) and headed up the hill aways to Placerville, where we stopped first at Heather's work (and one of my favorite places ever) The Bookery. I really wish I had photographed more of the sections here, they were truly amazing. (I'm thinking Heather should really do a whole post just about that).

But I just documented those subjects that lie dearest to my heart at the moment :-)

We walked through the historic downtown, cameras blazing away, to get us some tacos.

We were probably all feeling a bit worn by this point, and were ready to go to Heather's, eat our dinner, drink some beer, and really get to settle into one another.

Which we did, soon after Charlie made a new friend.

Heather and Darin were so wonderful for having eight extra people (and all their stuff!) staying at their house for a night. And Heather's mom too, for spending the night elsewhere so that there could be room for all of us.

Lucas (Missa's), Graham (mine), Darin (Heather's), and Charlie (Milla's) chatted while us girls retired to Heather's room for an All Out Gift Exchange Extravaganza Of Epic Proportions.

Just a few of the gifts Milla gave me. (One that I gave her was the pin in the photo that opened this post. I peeped it in her Etsy Favorites and, seeing how perfectly it represented this gathering, simply had to get it for her).

Milla and Heather had piles of clothes for Mycie and Clover- these little girls will be decked out in darling vintage dresses for yeeeears to come.

And will be posing all the while.

Aftermath.

Heather's room was a total wonderland. In this wee corner she had hung an outfit her her friends' new baby :-)

But the endless bookshelves were my favorite part about not only Heather's room, but the entire house. Not only does Heather work at one of the best used bookstores on the planet, but her mother is a librarian.

One of two regrets got brought up for me this weekend, and the first is selling so many of my beloved books 5 years ago (actually, to The Bookery! I made a special trip there from Sacramento when I lived there) when I was strapped for cash. Heather's house made me realize that you really can't have too many books in your home.

I think I got really lucky- my camera seemed to capture quite a few fits of laughter throughout the weekend.

More bookshelves.

More laughter.

Plenty of kitty snuggles.

My camera took an unscheduled nap until the following evening, so the next pile of photos were stolen from the other girls' blogs. After checking in with the menfolk and putting the childfolk to sleep, us womenfolk took a stroll around the block. Milla had brought a delicious homemade raspberry wine and a luscious herbal smoking blend with her from the island, and they made our magical walk under the full moon all the more memorable.

The next morning I woke up to an incredible breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs, potaoes, and coffee being prepared by Graham, Milla, and Charlie. After packing up we headed north toward my neck of the woods, Nevada City, stopping first in the little town of Coloma, where gold was fist discovered in California in 1848.

Heather's sister Adrienne joined us for the day, wearing the cutest little Gunnie you ever did see (until you adjusted your eyes slightly to the left and checked out Milla's).

After posing in front of the bridge it was on to Nevada City! Where we ate at Ike's (my favorite place to eat in this town and employer of Adie's husband Art), and then checked in to the cottage I had secured for us in downtown NC.

After the Missas and the Millas settled in a bit (Heather and my family were going home to sleep), Nicole's family arrived from Sacramento. It was my first time meeting her husband Eddie, but I was already acquainted with her beautiful children Kama and Irie. We walked across the street to one of my favorite Nevada City haunts (haha), the old 1800s St. Canice Cemetery.

From there it was a quick jaunt down Broad Street to The National Hotel & Bar, where we sadly said goodbye to Adie but happily said hello to Sadie! (and her sweet little boy Asher) (and where we were all able to see some of this area's oldest historical landmarks).

We walked back up the street to our little cottage.

Mycie holding Milla's hand or asking me to ask Milla to carry her the whole time.

In for the evening, Eddie and Graham share a moment.

I explain something deeply important to Nicole while Irie jumps on the bed and Sadie leans in to better hear Milla.

I was delighted to see that Clover and Missa are familiar with one of the weirdest, raddest vintage children's books of all time The Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom Handle and Who Was in It.

There's Kama on the right. And here we come to regret number two- cutting my hair! No, I'm glad I did. But this photo really makes me miss it! And it really makes me miss of these girls. Oh, and did you notice the latest arrival, top left there? Yes, Suuzi came to join us! I was so thrilled for the girls to meet her and for her to meet the girls, and they all loved each other just as much as I knew they would ;-)

Okay, now it's time to get philosophical. This whole experience was so much more than just a "blogger meet-up". It was truly a coming together of kindred souls, a totally unexpected February gathering of folks who had, for the most part, never met each other before but who immediately felt a deep and abiding bond with one another. There is truly something to be said for sharing your life and your thoughts through pictures and through writing, and we all felt that we actually know one another much better than many of the people who are in our everyday lives know us, because we closely read each others' words.

I still can't believe that this ever happened. Like Missa said- it's like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz waking from her dream and saying, "And you were there! And you were there!" It's not just how strange it seems to see my own self inserted into a photo with people who I have only ever seen online before this, but that I just feel so incredibly blessed to have been gifted the time I got to actually spend in their presence. What did I ever do to deserve this? Who would have thought that something as seemingly simple and, well, frivolous as posting photos of our outfits and thrift scores online could have ever led to this?

But it did. And it led to a moment that was too special and powerful to be captured on film. After some of the folks had left, Suuzi, Missa, Heather, Milla, and myself bundled up and walked back to the old cemetery across the street. We stood in a circle and held hands and sang a song that Milla had learned on her island, an old earth song, invoking the trees and the grandmothers and the rivers and all things sacred, while overhead the full face of the moon smiled down upon us.

Oh, and perhaps I should add that the blood mentioned in my title here (and which Heather has made mention of) refers to the fact that the four of us discovered that, though hundreds of miles apart, our lovely little wombs are all on the same cycle. Moon sisters indeed.

But all things must come to an end, even beautiful and magical and sacred things. So we took some last shots before parting ways.

The husbands made fun of us and told us to cast downward glances (as we so often do when posing for our blogs).

And it all degenerated, once again, into laughter.

Until next time...