Julia’s for brunch in wallingford

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Vivid colors in wallingford

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the legendary button box

I posted some photos earlier this week of an amazing treasure that appeared on my doorstep a week ago: The Button Box. I feel a little bit of explanation is necessary to demonstrate the importance of this box.

The Button Box has been in my life for as long as I can remember, which is to say, it existed before I did. It belonged to my mom, but as for where it came from before then, I can’t say. (Mom? Where did you get it?)

It sat on top of our kitchen cupboards all through my childhood. When my sister Karen and I were very young, my mom would take it down and place it on the kitchen floor, and we would sort buttons for what seemed like hours. I loved finding matches for my favorite buttons: the red bubble buttons, the lemondrop-yellow ones.

When we opened the potato chip tin of The Button Box, out came a smell unlike any other–it was the smell of plastic, and possibly toxins, but it’s a wonderful, strange smell that floods me with memory. I had forgotten the floral pattern of our kitchen linoleum, the sharp brass hardware of the cupboards, the odor of coconut and chocolate bark and spices emanating from our pantry cupboard as we played with buttons…

So.

When my sister recently dropped off The Button Box, a gift from my mom, memories came rushing back. The smell of the bucket when I popped off the tin lid. (Eventually I took the bucket outside on my patio because hubby said the smell was a bit strong and probably toxic.)

I started touching the buttons, just like I did as a kid. I actually remembered certain buttons, started looking for them, found them like tiny buried treasures or time capsules.

There are so many buttons, thousands, that I have probably never even seen many of the buttons, despite the hours I spent as a girl going through them.

All of which is to say, The Button Box is even more incredible than I remembered. I don’t know what my new career will be exactly, but I know I will be using these buttons for years to come. It truly is a treasure, worth a LOT of money I am certain.

The next project to tackle with this incredible trove is to start sorting the buttons, so that I know how many I have of each kind, and so that I can easily start using them on future projects. You will most definitely see buttons appearing in my work from now on–especially as I have been practicing button-holes on my machine in my Sewing Techniques class.

I owe a BIG “Thank you ever so much” to my mom, who always cheers me on when I dedicate myself to something new, and who had the smarts to hold onto the Button Box all those years and recognize its value.

Pottery in the sidewalk

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Hammer in sidewalk

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Be still, my beating heart

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I’m in love with this coat. It was spotted in a vintage store on First Avenue. A week later, I walked past the same shop and the coat was gone from the window. Wouldn’t it be lovely to make this coat? I spoke with the owner’s partner, and he thought his partner would be open to the idea of me making replicas of vintage garments, to be sold as “vintage-inspired.”

There’s a good business idea here. There are a lot of vintage shops in Seattle, with one-of-a-kind garments that could be replicated. I would get an opportunity to closely examine vintage garments–how they were made–so I’d learn a ton, and then make money selling the replica.

Lots of ideas are bubbling around in this head of mine. Every time I take a walk in this wonderful city, I meet people and get ideas. I’m building a network. Or as my husband likes to remark, “You’re building an army.”

Curious, as there was no shoe shop in sight.

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If you live in the Seattle area, do try to dedicate half a day (or heck, a full day) to walk down First Avenue, south Belltown all the way to Pioneer Square. On both sides are shops galore, full of interesting things and people. A stationery shop crammed with adorable papers and paper necklaces made by the owner. A rug shop with Oriental rugs stacked and rolled everywhere. A vintage poster shop with huge travel posters from everywhere in the world.

Hubby and I set out one afternoon to walk to Dry Goods, a fabric store that recently moved from Ballard to Pioneer Square. It took us hours to get there (!), because everything along the way was so interesting. Including this sign, embedded in the sidewalk pavement, indicating a shoe shop that seems not to exist anymore. A ghost, a reminder of some past I never knew.