Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Through the looking glass

It never ceases to amaze me that there is, truly, a universal consciousness. I mean what else explains the fact that so many people are tuned in to the same feeling and emotion at the same time. It's taken me a while this morning to get words on the blog. I probably "saved as draft", oh, I don't know, 15 times. Couldn't put a complete idea on the page, couldn't finish a sentence. So I went reading OPB's (other people's blogs) and found a lot of deep stuff out there, pensive writings and purging kinds of things.

Reflection seems to be the word of the day. The season certainly ellicits profound and penetrating thoughts. But let's do something else today, 'kay? I want you all to stand up, shake off that shroud, get the blood moving through those cold hands, stomp your feet, and let's take a trip. I would if I could take you all on this cruise back in time to Hawaii in the 30' like the poster. It would be nice to grab on to that sea turtle on the bag there and have her pull us through the warm ocean waving at dolphins and skimming the kelp gardens along the way. But today let's just stay closer to home. Today let's just go back to your favorite day ever. A day that was perfect. A day when everything was in sync and smiles just shone from your lips. Remember what you had on? Can you picture what you ate that day? Who was with you?

Did you feel like the Queen of the World that day? Yeah? Well, you get to be Queen today, too.

By decree I dub you all Queen of your World

Come join me up here. We'll do all that other stuff tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

...and red all over

I did a little more thrifting last weekend. My secret thrift store was set up for Christmas and I went hog wild. This is but a bit of the stuff I hauled back. Love how it all matches.
First off there's this great candy cookbook. I mostly bought it for the cover art. It's from 1934. I love seeing how things were back in the day, back when people made candy, pulled taffy and glaceed fruit. Instead of going down to the mall to get it, I mean.

I also picked up my angel wings. They're little ones, maybe for a cabbage patch doll or something but they are beautifully made and my own pair was getting a little woebegone. I'll just keep them on hand, you know, just in case.

Swedish stars - aren't they cute. I got dozens of them

Then these little darlings were 25 cents. For both. I don't have a plan for them but I needed to have them. Isn't that the way we do it, though?

And one other ounce of red - these four little cloths. I think they're meant to be cocktail napkins but I'm not sure. I loved the little birds, however so I couldn't resist.

I've come to a time in my life where I much prefer thrift shopping to any other kind. Partly it's the hunt and adventure. But more than anyhting it's the uniqueness of the merchandise. My new goal is to hit all the rummage sales I can find. Thrift stores have become fairly mundane around here as I gather they have in many places. They get picked over by collectors. But at rummage sales there's still a fighting chance to get great stuff. I'll share.
Later, my taters

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Long time no see

Back to school after five days and everyone has forgotten how to act, grown-ups as well as students, so I've exhausted my supply of words already and it's only 8:30 in the morning. So lots of pictures, being worth 1,000 words each.
This is how I spent the time away from you.
First off I finished a christmas card for the fairy swap; one card, one ornament. Mine are going to England. I was a little intimidated about the card. As I think I mentioned I visited my partner's blog and she is a very good artist. I wrestled with illustrating the card. I wrestled with fairy-ness and finally I did this. No illustration, no fairy-ness. What a wuss!

But I am rather proud of the rest of my accomplishments. This is a little hat I've made for a friend's granddaughter. It's from the now-familiar sweater that I cut up. She will look adorable in it. She's quite the fashion plate.

Then from another sweater I fashioned this clutch bag. This came together like a dream. The color is yummy peacock blue and the lining fabric is a piece of Tracy Porter fabric I picked up one day. I think the combination rocks! (She said modestly)

Then because I wanted instant gratification I crocheted up a bunch of flowers and embellished them with buttons. Many of you will probably recognize a lot of goodies that you, yourselves, provided for me.

I got all my 10 ornaments made for swaps, wrapped them up and here they are like little soldiers, ready to march to the post office. (if only!!!)

I am glad to read that you all had a good Thanksgiving. We did, too. So much good food, although I'm kind of over turkey for a few days.
It's good to be back.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Turkey Trot

The trotting will be done by me racing around trying to get stuff done. Went to Costco last night-I try to go there as infrequently as possible because it's so hard to shop. I must have been backed into, run over and halted by cart traffic just about every turn I took. On the plus side I managed to have a 5 course meal in samples - Hummus on crackers, bacon, chicken pot pie, bbq chicken wings and raspberry-chocolate cheesecake for dessert. But now, with the shopping done, the fun times begin. My mission tomorrow - decorate the table. Then, on Thursday morning, fueled by very strong French Roast, I will make a pumpkin pie with caramel-pecan crunch topping, sweet potato souffle, corn pudding, blue cheese bites, and chili-cheese crackers. Not one thing is lo-cal. I'm using butter and cream and sugar, marshmallows, cheese and bacon. No scrimping on the fat for Thanksgiving. No trying for healthy. This is a day for over-indulgence and no worries about waistlines.
No school tomorrow which means a five-day weekend looming ahead. Plans are to finish up swap stuff and send everything out so there's time to get going on gifts for family and friends. Five. Whole. Days. Whooooo-hoooo!
I wish you all a very full, festive Turkey Day. I'm thankful that all of you are part of my world, now. A hug to each and every one of you.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Good Morning Starshine

Everyone it seems is getting so much done. I've been visiting blogs this morning and my goodness gracious, people have been busy. Me, too.

I am up to my middle with stars to send out for the ornament swaps I've become involved in. You've seen some of the stars in previous posts and now the little shiny things are being gathered together to form galaxies.

The tips of fingers hurt from pushing a big needle threaded with wool through felted stars. I'm pretty sure the glue on my skin will be there until next spring. And it's fairly clear that my work spaces will continue in delightful disarray until the 25th.

Some of you might notice familiar paper, yarns and other tidbits. I am using everything I have within the color scheme of brown, pink, sky bue and red.

I started a lot of the stars earlier in the month but they needed some tweaking. I decided what they needed was a touch of red.

Attaching the stars to the trim was a solution I had been unable to come up with. Then Saturday morning I just woke up with the idea...Buttons.

I got about half of the strands of stars completed while watching Midsomer Murders yesterday. I'm pretty confident that I can get the rest done before the due date of December 1st.

Next step is figuring out how to get those puppies to their new owners - I'm thinking padded envelopes but we'll see. Another day, another dilemma.

I feel like the slow elf in Santa's workshop, though. Look at Mary Ann and Miss Teresa. Those ladies are going to get a gold star this week.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

A Turkey of a W.I.P.

After a slow start, really, after a no-start, we are finally getting it together for Thanksgiving at our house. Most years there are lists of who's coming, who makes what and what to buy long before November's shadow darkens our threshold. This year, well as of last week, we hadn't actually even discussed Thanksgiving in any kind of meaningful way.

So Saturday and Sunday will be all about polishing silverware, ironing tablecloths, choosing recipes and shopping. We'll also be chopping and peeling and stirring and tasting. Mixing and measuring, going up the stairs and back down in a flurry of preparing for the big pig-out day.

We will only be eight people but we are eight people who are pretty demanding about the food we fix and eat. We like to show off with new dishes and we look forward to all the old favorites.

The table should be beautiful and the smells emanating from the kitchen, intoxicating. There will be football on the TV and big band on the radio.

Getting ready for a big meal is so much of the fun. This year I will be making the sweet potatoes, the vegetables, a dessert and an hors'd'oeuvre. Tomorrow I will read through the recipes I have collected and select the ones I have been waiting to test out on this Thanksgiving.

There are beautiful leaves on the ground everywhere and those will be collected to add to the displays of dried flowers and pumpkins already out on the mantle and sideboard and table.

But Saturday night all preparations will cease as the family gathers to see the boy who, seriously, last week looked like this

But today somehow looks like this.

Let me introduce you to Mikey, my grandson, who has the role of "the drunk uncle" in The Philadelphia Story. We'll all be in the audience cheering him on Saturday night. It looks to be a full and pretty fulfilling weekend. What have you all got planned? (Wasn't that a shameless display of grandmotherly devotion?)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Q is for...

Not QUITE in focus, but that isn't what I was going to say. No.
Qis for QUANDRY. What to make, how do I start this, is it good, will they like it, do I like it? These questions are familiar, I know, because I read them in so many blogs. Mary Ann wrote about it yesterday and Miss Teresa wondered about it a month or so ago. I'm in it right now. I signed up for this Fairy Christmas Swap. The brief is to make an ornament and a card. Easy enough. I'm making nine ornaments for this swap so another one won't be a problem. But the card thing... I had ideas, tons of ideas, but, see, they required me illustrating fairy things and ethereal stuff and , wow, that felt like a big challenge for someone who is not all that confident in her drawing skills. Then I went to the website of the person to whom I'm sending this ornament and card and she is a painter and she is a really good painter. And I checked out her blog friends and they are really good artists, too and I am putting myself in a needless dither I know but right now I am paddling upriver without an oar. Not to worry, I'll get there, sopping and bedraggled, perhaps, but I'll get there. Q is not for QUITTER.

Q is also for QUEST. The quest for the perfect ATC. I spotted a swap on swapbot for ATC Newbies. Only have to make three cards. Why not? So last night I buckled down to the trading card business. Geesh, I must have cut up 2 reams of paper and miles of trim before I came up with these. Like 'em, don't love 'em. Letters, courtesy of sweet Mary Ann and the red rimmed tags I have been saving forEVER and finally decided to use a few. The plaid is the back of a loteria card and the little marigolds are the last three in my bag of tricks. The perfect ATC? Yeah, I'm thinking, actually hoping, that I won't come up with it just yet, 'cause then the fun of trying would be over. No QUALMS.

Q is for QUIXOTIC, foolishly impractical. That would be me. But don't you think that impractical is the definition of the QUINTESSENTIAL artist and crafter? What's practical about spray glitter and gold doilies? I make crowns for crying out loud - there is nothing practical about crowns.

Unless you're a QUEEN

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Arts and Crafts

Yesterday the mailman left me all sorts of goodies. You know how it is feast or famine. You go for weeks and... nothing. Then one day a treasure trove of neato stuff. This is the neato stuff I got and it put me to thinking. So, watch out. Thar she blows!!!
I received Craft which I had totally forgotten that I'd ordered. Nice surprise!! I stumbled on a column written by Jean Railla. Her entry was titled Why Making Stuff is Fashionable Again. She posits four theories about why, and two of them absolutely fit when I tried them on. Her theory #1; "crafting allows us to make art out of everyday life" and #3 "crafting allows us the experience of the tactile world...making something that you can touch, wear or inhabit is satisfying on an almost spiritual level."
I have always crafted or done art, truly, for as long as I can remember. My mom was teacher and would bring home all the "dittos" that she gave to her third graders for me to color, or cut and paste. When I was in 7th grade I learned to sew. It was simple to whip up a cotton shift or a cute little wool mini a-line skirt. With my $5-a-week clothing allowance I was stylin' - I could make a skirt every week if I wanted and buy a top and knee-highs to match the next. I sewed because it gave me more choices - I could decide on the fabric. the length and the style which wasn't (and isn't) always possible when you buy off the rack. And I could have more clothes because the cost of sewing was considerably less than retail shopping. Later as a young mother with a very limited budget, I sewed and crafted to make my home beautiful, to make cute customized clothes for my kids and myself because I couldn't afford to buy goods of the same quality in the stores. My girls got to an age when they didn't want to wear handmade clothes - they were into labels - so I stopped sewing for them but I made clothes for myself because I didn't have the funds to buy what I liked nor could I find a lot that liked in the department stores.
When I was single mom, I went back to college and took a graphic arts program. I made art everyday and it was one the best times in my life. I took drawing and illustration classes, silk screening, painting, calligraphy and lettering. Oh, I was in heaven. After getting a degree, I did fine art and had a couple of shows. I was still in the mix. Still creating all the time.
I moved out of the country and found that I was forced to make my own clothes again because the offerings were slim and pretty much ugly. As a teacher I made art for the classrooms and encouraged my students to make art ,as well.
Then I moved back home about eight years ago, home to California. I was kind of broken. I had left a damaging relationship and I moved in with my mom. I found the job I still have here at the high school. It is very satisfying - I love the kids, and up until a few month ago I also had a night job at a restaurant to give me more income so I could go out to dinner, buy clothes, take vacations. But for those last eight years I didn't really do anything creative. I was becoming a grumpy old lady. I was sleep deprived from all the hours I worked and I really had no life because I was either working or vegged out. It wasn't pretty.
Last spring I quit the restaurant gig. Not a financially sound decision but I had to change something. I started browsing blogs about that same time and really got inspired. I thought, well I have no money this year, I'll have to make Christmas presents and I just plowed in. I took inspiration from all these incredible women who not only had the wherewithal to craft and create but, also, to write about it in posts. Those women and their blogs propelled me forward. Today I am a blogger and just about every day I create something, and I write about it. I am rarely grouchy and I cannot wait to get home a work on a project, take pictures of it and share it the next day. I have made some friends along the way. The statement on my profile says "learning to have a life." I think soon I will have to change that. I'm pretty sure I have one now. I can't afford anything in that Anthropologie catalog, but I can create something that looks just as hip and probably make it better and you bet, for way less cash.

I know you are probably tired of reading. That was a lot of spewing but please take a minute to look at this lovely merchandise I got from Posy Press. I ordered it from etsy and it's even cooler than I expected. I got a bunch of fabulous handmade cards.( Hey, Jen and Amy, I want to learn how to do that.) and then a sampler bag of vintage ribbons and buttons that are so cute I'd like to pinch their cheeks. That's what I'm talking about. This is what all of us need to be doing. This is a life - creating and gathering great stuff, passing it along, working in your art. It's fabulous.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gooder'n grits

There's nothing better than scooching down into a comfy bed on blustery, wet evening and jumping into a mystery. This is what I've been jumping into lately.
The craft books are pretty good, the "Second Time Cool" one being the best. In fact, I might pass the other two on to my college-going niece. Cutting felted sweaters apart is really great fun. Often you can get three or more projects out of one sweater. I've been making hats and tea cozies but I'm inspired to make purses and wrist warmers and gloves with my newest acquisitions.

Last night I really did do a lot but most of it is confidential. These cute little roses will be lapel pins for friends. I want to crochet leaves but the first pattern I tried didn't come out quite the way I'd hoped. They only take minutes so I figure I can experiment a little.

Here we have a little stash of paper stuff for people with paper obsessions, not naming names, but it gives me a warm cozy feeling knowing I'm not alone, not the only one out there with this addiction to paper.

And here we have the results of Mary Ann's card challenge. That woman is a mad crafter and she keeps us on our creative toes. I love that she is so unwavering in her devotion to crafting and motivates us all to higher levels of production.

I have been busy and industrious and it feels good, especially at this time of year. I get a thrill out of fashioning gifts for folks I care about and to just exercise my imagination. All the swaps, official and casual, really get me moving when my first inclination is to plop down in front of the tube and veg out every night. Every night I go home thinking about what I will work on, what ideas I will pursue, what I will complete. It's fulfilling and really that's about as good as it gets.