Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thinking about 2010

The whole tribe is still in town, which is both nice and exhausting.  I'd like to sleep for, say, 14 hours.  That should do the trick.  In the meantime, I've been mulling over what I want 2010 to look like.

A few years ago I realized that the new year doesn't necessarily represent a time to change but a time to be more of who I already am.  That might mean changes in habits or tendencies so therefore changes are actually tweaks. Think of it like a revision on a piece of writing - it's like tuning a drum; you keep tightening different screws on the drumhead until you get the sound you want; those are the kinds of changes I'm talking about.  Luckily for me, I'm the kind of person who likes to learn and try new things so if I include some of those in my "list," it's still authentic to who I am.

One thing I've already decided to do is to have an Everyday-for-a-Month activity.  I'm not so linear that it's going to be for the whole year; just until I'm done with it.  For example, one month will require that I write a letter or postcard everyday.  Another month will see a lot of hats, and yet another will get me reading more books.  For me it's both about engaging in something that I enjoy but often feel like I can't fit into my everyday life as well as putting an artificial external construct on my actions (something I perversely enjoy).

So, not looking at resolutions, but revisions.  What about you?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It Ain't Over til It's Over

This year we're celebrating Christmas on the 28th.  It was our work-around for all the people who work retail and can't get away.  So I've been crafting and cooking and what-not like crazy.

One thing my partner and I realized is that not celebrating Christmas on the 25th makes you feel like you decided to go to an entirely different party than the one everyone else is attending.  It was a little weird.  We went to the movies and saw "It's Complicated."  Perfect holiday movie.

Soon I'll be able to talk about all the things I made without telling any of the recipients about their gifts!  Maybe I'll even be able to take a picture of our tree as well - an ode to maximalism.

Happy, happy to everyone out there!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I always go to Ikea thinking there will be things I want.  I get a little wrapped up in the catalog and some kind of idealized Scandinavian life.  What am I thinking?   That life doesn't contain the same tediums in Swedish as it does in English?

Anyway, went to Ikea today to help a friend continue redecorating her apartment.  Despite not needing or really wanting anything, my partner and I ended up spending some $80+ on 'stuff.'  Tedium or not - impulse purchases are the same in any language!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Second Thoughts

After looking into the whole Persian lamb thing, I'm having second thoughts.  I was a bit too quick to justify my purchase, and although I can't return the coat, I'm going to have to either reconcile myself to it (it is vintage) or give it up.  I'll keep you posted.

Holiday Outfits, or How I Succumbed to an E-bay Shopping Spree

While not quite the frothy confections that were dancing in my head, I did manage to find a couple of cute dresses to wear for the holidays.

For Christmas...

I'm going with a red silk, with silk lining and covered buttons, 50's style dress.  I think it'll be a winner - this holiday season and into the next year.

For New Year's...

A beaded light blue silk number.  Kind of mod and kind of regal.

I also must cop to an impulse purchase (!) - a 60s grey Persian Lamb coat.  As a lamb eater and knitter, I feel like it helps me embrace a 'whole animal' philosophy (okay, and it helps me justify my purchase of a fur coat).

The total for all three items, including shipping?  Just a touch over $100.  Whoo-hoo!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Folk Art Coat (or Mrs. Claus for the limited)

Firstly let me say that I'm a little dismayed that I'm putting a) a photo of myself up but mostly b) a photo of myself without makeup.  My partner says I'm too hard on myself, but I have standards, which seem to be slipping during the holiday season...

Anyway, this is one of the warmest coats I own.  I found it at Value Village, and it fit me perfectly from the get-go.  It's definitely an attention-grabber (I find the whole Mrs. Claus/Merry Christmas comments really lack imagination), and now I've found it to be a point of connection.

I wore it last night to the Art Crawl in Hamilton because it was brutally cold.  Stopping in at Mixed Media I ran into a woman who had on a similar coat, and we ended up chatting about them.  I have no idea of the provenance of mine (there's no label), but I've seen variations of them around. The woman with whom I spoke believes they're a type of coat crafted by First Nations' people because she got a comment about hers at the recent Canadian Aboriginal Festival.  If anyone has any information about my coat, I'd be really interested.

Here are some photos of the details:

It's trimmed with some kind of white fur.  I'm generally not a fur-wearing gal (oh, and please don't lecture me here - thanks!), but I loved this coat in all its felt-applique, fur-trimmed coziness.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I wandered around Toronto yesterday, popping in and out of shops, mostly just considering items.  Of course I managed to pick up a few holiday gifts as well as some yarn for myself (hey, I need a top to go with a recently-hemmed pair of pants - what do you expect me to do?).

But what really occurred to me as I meandered about was that I want a frothy colourful 50s-style cocktail dress for the holidays.  Absolutely no black - I swear!  I'm leaning toward red.  I'm on the hunt now (in between my grading responsibilities) and briefly toyed with the idea of sewing my own.  But who am I kidding?!  I barely have time for the projects lined up in the craftory as it is!  I'm just hoping that I can find a dress that fits my proportions (it seems that the girls in the 50s were stacked with tiny waists!).  I'm ever hopeful.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Today I'm feeling just that - lackluster.  Is it because:

a) my cat sleeps all over me at night?
b) I awoke painfully early this morning (6:30am) and got out of bed at 7:30?
c) I expected snow, but just got cold rain?
d) post-last-day-of-classness and the massive amounts of papers I need to grade?
e) hitting the holiday wall?
f) trying to get my son a flight out here for the holidays?

Regardless, I'm trying to combat it with some knitting (making my way through the second sock) although I'd planned on going to the studio to do some serious sewing (which really needs to be done).  Even the sock is kind of uninspiring.  Then my friend at granoland sends me a link to this blog written by a 13-year old with a Comme des Garcons obsession and I find myself experiencing some confusing feelings...

I'm going to mull them over while working on an entirely non-holiday related project - freehand embroidering & embellishing a sweater with some permanent stains.  Maybe I'll have something to show for myself later.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Red Letter Day!

Let me start by saying that I have what is becoming a more and more unusual relationship with the mail.  I love it when the mail comes.  For me, there is always the possibility that something good will come - a story acceptance, a letter (quite rare), a magazine, or sometimes money.  One of my sorrows in Canada is that there is no Saturday delivery.

So when my new issue of Selvedge came today, I was elated!

Selvedge is one of those magazines that always makes me happy - it's hard to describe why it's so thrilling to me.  Maybe it's because it takes textiles seriously and always has interesting articles and beautiful photography.  Maybe it's because it fuels my imagination and gives me glimpses of lives perhaps different than mine, but ones that share my interests.  All I know is that once it arrives, it often consumes all my attention.  Of course I keep all my back issues.

To make it an even greater pleasure, they have an article about one of my favourite individuals:  J. Morgan Puett.

J. Morgan Puett made clothes for a number of years.  I own a number of her pieces - they were generally marked by their craftsmanship and Puett's vision of interesting clothing.  What I continue to admire about her is that she really has made her own life - she's an artist, a designer, and an independent thinker and spirit.  There was a great article about her in the NYTimes awhile back, and her website also bears evidence of this.

I wish she still made clothes.  Now I've resorted to copying a favourite pair of pants and trawling e-bay for old pieces.

Another great thing is that I signed up to participate in The Fiction Project.  Their description works best here:  "Sign up and receive a 5.5 by 8.5 inch Moleskine Cahier notebook and a randomly selected theme. Create your narrative using words and images and send it back to be a part of the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library."  I can't wait to receive my notebook and find out what my theme is.

And finally (for now, at least), the first flurries of the season came today.  The weather forecast calls for more sustained snow in a few days.  Ah winter.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


progress -

(might finish the first sock tonight!)

me happy -
(Rangers win 2-1, and we were there! )

 (photo courtesy of Joy the Baker)

(hoping I can make them without eating them all.)

me laugh -

Saturday Night Live's Vagisil Ladies's Bowling Tournament skit last night (which you can only watch online if you're in the States) featured our own Copp's Coliseum in the opening set-up.  Yes, that's right - Hamilton, Ontario's Copp's Coliseum was the stock footage used by SNL.  That and the skit itself were pretty much the funniest things on the show in its entirety.

Happy St. Nikolaus Day!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Silken objects of desire

Darling Dexter blogged about a wonderful silk petticoat for sale on etsy by It's Okay My Dear.  Of course I had to check it out because it was simply beautiful and transcendent (and then I saw that it transcended my price range).  However, look what else I found by the same maker!

I feel like I must have this!  It's crazy gorgeous. The Pink Souffle Hair Piece has style and grace, and for some reason, I like the pink (although she'll make it up in any colour).

However, I cannot shop for myself right now.  I've been resisting the urge to buy those shoes, and I'm going to be good and wait until the holidays finish.  Maybe this will end up under our tree.  If not, maybe it'll be there in January...

Back at it

This applies to many things.  Firstly, I'm back at my blog, which I seemed to have abandoned last week.  But happily last week was my last full week of classes for the term.  This, I hope, will mean that I can actually blog when I think about it and maybe even establish some kind of regularity to it (I hate the word routine, and it's not quite a ritual yet).

Back at it also refers to my knitting.  Below you'll see the sock I had to rip out because hey, I noticed that it was going to be way too big for my intended recipient.  My partner said it would be good for someone with "cankles" - those calf/ankle combos.  Definitely not my intended recipient.

Thankfully, our cat Max consoled me as I began the sock anew (smaller needle size and a new plan).


Finally, I just have to say how sweet the comment exchange for the last post was.  I love that two of my friends, who have never met, are engaged in conversation here.  It feels like a blog success!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Let's hear it for holiday season sanity!

My friend Melissa is opening a pop-up store for the month of December in Toronto.   Melissa has a fabulous eye, and I've been lucky enough to see some of her textile goodies already.  I'm definitely going to check it out.  Perhaps I'll find some materials for more projects!  (Just what I need - more projects).

As I've mentioned, I've taken the Handmade Pledge for the holidays (with a small percentage saved for music & books) and have already been busy in the craftory.  I'm starting some socks tonight and in a few days will finish weaving in the ends and blocking a sweater for a lucky recipient (hopefully there will be a photo).

Sometimes people mistake making things with being cheap.  That's a mistake because as anyone who crafts knows - materials aren't free, and there's no way you can put a price on the time and love put into making something special for someone.  Sure there are some great things to buy but to know that someone thought of you while they made something is pretty special.  I've been guilty of low-craft-esteem in the past but have slowly come to value my own work.  That's a gift we should all give ourselves this holiday season.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shoe lust!

What can I say?  I want these shoes.  Incredibly, they're Hush Puppies, which makes them affordable, and they're waterproof, which makes them viable for a Canadian winter!  I haven't bought a new pair of shoes in awhile.  Really.  And look, these I can actually afford.

Wednesday - Two ways

Here was what my post was originally going to be:

How long can you leave clothes on the line?  Well, it's been over a week already, but my good intentions keep getting rained out.  Tomorrow I'll throw in the towel and just wash & dry the lot already.

I finally whipped up a batch of puttanesca sauce using tomatoes from my garden.  Nothing smells quite as heavenly as the garlic-anchovy base of a puttanesca.  Yum!

The other Wednesday story...

Last night was a new version of date night for me and my gal.  We spent 7 hours in the emergency ward!  Why was it like date night?  Well, as my sweetie said, it had all the components I like:  multiple hours together where we had to interact, no television, a game (I'll tell you about it in a minute), and snuggling/spooning on the gurney.  And it was free!  Thankfully my partner is (relatively) fine - it was an ambulance-emergency, but a nurse-said-we-should-go emergency (thanks Telehealth Ontario!).

Our game is called "Who Am I?" - it's an art game.  What you do is say something like:  I'm a giant balloon dog made out of metal - who am I?  Answer:  Jeff Koons!  Or "I'm ranting and covered in chocolate - who am I?"  Answer: Karen Finley!  or a couple of my contributions:  "I'm a beautifully photographed penis - who am I?"  Robert Mapplethorpe!  "I'm a screaming pope!"  Yep, Francis Bacon.  Great fun.  You should try it.

It's now Thursday night.  I'm tired.  We're celebrating Thanksgiving with our other expat Americanas here on Saturday.  I'm sure I'll have photos.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! 

Monday, November 23, 2009


I've been craving more colour in my wardrobe for awhile now and have even started dressing characters in my stories in orange, sky blue, and more.  I need to translate that to my own closet.
I'm using Bill Cunningham's pictorial from yesterday's NYTimes as inspiration.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blog Lesson

Lesson 1:  Strike when inspiration hits - don't wait for the photo.

Friday I had one of those amazingly simple but satisfying days.  I decided to watch a film and just sit on the couch and knit.  It doesn't sound like a momentous occasion, but if you're like me, and often equate television viewing as dead time, it actually meant something.

I watched was "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" -  the film about the making of Wilco's album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  I love that album and when I hear it I think about how I want my writing (fiction) to sound like that - I want it to have that kind of resonance and discord.  Anyway, the movie was really satisfying and to carry that energy forward as well as continue to indulge my whims, I went for a run (in lieu of going out and buying a pack of smokes) and listened to the album.

What does this have to do with the photo?  Well, I had this idea of photographing my knitting and then it turned into a still life/portrait of me: knitting, the DVD, the December issue of Vogue (which arrived that day as well), a running shoe, a cocktail.  But as we know, I'm unhappy with my photo skills and so asked my partner to take the photo.  One thing led to another and now it's Sunday and the idea seems stupid.  So, I decided to say the hell with it and just took a photo of my window sill to give a little visual interest to this blog.

The lesson learned?  Just write about it.  I'm a writer and I should know better.  The photos will come, and they'll get better.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What I Like About You: Posie Gets Cozy

I thought it might be nice to have a regular feature called What I Like About You, which will tell you why I like the blogs that I do.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the things I love about blogs is not only their own content but their curated lists of other blogs.

Other than The Sartorialist, which is my homepage (I know, my own blog should be my homepage, but hey, I know what's on it already), I check Posie Gets Cozy most regularly.  There are a number of things I enjoy about it.  Firstly, I find the site in general to be welcoming.  It speaks to my nesting and crafting desires through its design.  Alicia Paulson's photography is great and she's chosen a nice colour palate.  The blog literally feels  warm and cozy, but it's not too twee.  I'm not at my grandmother's house, I'm hanging with a friend. 

I enjoy Alicia's writing.  Her projects are not always my thing, but I like being privy to her life, which seems to include lots of crafting, cooking, and a happy, hip homelife.  I'm jealous, but in a good way - like "Wow, you are so lucky, and you make it seem so easy and natural.  How cool is that?  Can we be friends?" (Yes, I'm a dork.  Let it go.)

Finally, she reminds me about what's important to me when I'm too overwhelmed, stressed, what-not to remember - taking care of the crafty soul.

I'm always looking for blog recommendations.  If you have one you love that you think I will, let me know.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unrelated thoughts...or not?

1.  My father's in Haiti with the International Red Cross, and he sent me this photo of a typical bus.  I thought it would make a nice blog photo.  Plus, I miss him.

2.  I'm letting go of getting my grading done today, but I will finish the laundry.

3.  I don't really feel like behaving today. (I know, that's totally related to the previous item).

Enthusiasm, Joy, and the Internet

Recently I've realized that two of the things that excite me the most about the internet are blogs and podcasts.  With blogs not only do I get to meet new people (yes, in a virtual kind of way), but I also get a curated list of other blogs I might like.  I find things that I'd never have discovered on my own, probably because I'd be too lazy to really dig them out.

I only listen to a couple of podcasts regularly now - This American Life and All Songs Considered - and I'd have to say that I'm totally enthusiastic about All Songs Considered.  When I was an undergrad, music was my scene - I was a dj at the college radio station, my life revolved around going to shows and seeing bands, and I produced a fanzine (only one issue).  Sure, I was supposed to be thinking about classes, but we're talking about my first two years of university - cool bands were playing all over the place.

The thing is - I think they still are, but I just haven't tapped into that, and to be quite honest, I don't always have the energy.  So I listen to the local college radio station and All Songs Considered.  I get introduced to bands I haven't heard of and feel excited about music rather than nostalgic.  And listen, when the podcast includes Carrie Brownstein, Robin Hilton, and Stephen Thompson with Bob Boilen - it's hysterical fun and close to brilliant.   Listening to their discussion of the past decade in pop music last night on my way home from teaching made my f*ckin' day.  What can I say?  I'm happy to be exited by new things!  I'm going out and buying music - at a record/cd shop - and maybe some of it will be vinyl.

What else should I be listening to?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Letterpress Love

My partner and I went to Buffalo yesterday so I could finish up my letterpress holiday card workshop.  Luckily she brought her camera along, and I have her to thank for these lovely photographs.  (Oh, the jealousy is great, but she has been at it (being a photographer) for a lot longer than I.)  The picture above is my type in the Vandercook machine.  Hopefully in the next day or two I'll be able to post a close-up of the card to show the detail.  Yes, I'm proud.

The cards drying on the top are mine.

These are just some gorgeous shot my talented partner took while I was working.

We joined WNYBAC and are already thinking of other things we'd like to do by letterpress.  It's such a great, tactile process, and I love the results.  I'm hoping to one day have letterpress business/calling cards.  I love the idea of having something so old fashioned in a pretty fast-paced modern life.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cocktail time

It's the weekend, and we're freeeeee

I'm always happy when Friday rolls around.  I refuse to do any teaching-related work and spend the first part of the day in my pajamas figuring out what would make me happy this weekend.

So far this weekend's list looks like this:
1.  Get back to crafting:
      - start second sleeve of Cobblestone Pullover
      - figure out whether I'm making socks or slippers for a certain someone (bonus points for actually starting them)
      - make & can puttanesca sauce
2.  Wrap fruitcakes in booze-soaked cheesecloth
3.  Clean garden beds and plant garlic
4.  Caulk the living room window

5.  Work on the Woodland Draft Buster from Betz White's Sewing Green
6.  Give myself a pedicure

This is in addition to some administrative work I need to do as well as a full day in Buffalo tomorrow (yay! get to finish my letterpress holiday cards), and lunch/art in Toronto on Sunday.  Thankfully, I have Mondays off this term.

I realized that even though I was ahead of the holiday craft game this summer, I'm suddenly feeling the holidays closing in.  There's still a lot of things I need to get started if I'm really going to be 95% handmade this season (5% goes to books - more on that later).

The tension in all of  this is whether I really just want to be lazy and lay around the house or use some of my manic energy and get sh*t done.  So many options!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All or nothing

 Yesterday started with a wardrobe malfunction - the dry cleaners had untied the bow from my Ter et Bantine dress (which people like to mistake for Viktor & Rolf, lucky me) and I couldn't replicate it.  Thankfully I think I've got it back and will wear it tomorrow.  There's a source of tension - what to wear.  When I teach, I like to dress well - often managing not to repeat the same outfit in one term.  When I'm home, I either wear the same pair of jeans or some kind of crazy outfit.  My moods and desires dictate my costuming.

Worked to own the day yesterday.  One of the things that helped was that I showed the film The Five Obstructions to my Creative Writing class.  It's really interesting and clever, and if you haven't seen it, you should.  It definitely helped me connect back to my own creative work.

I'm off to my holiday card letterpress workshop tonight.  Somehow I've also managed to prep for tomorrow's classes.  Often my Wednesdays are all (schoolwork) or nothing (dickin' around the house).  It's nice to have a combo.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Own the day

Despite the fact that I don't work a five-day-a-week job, I still often feel like I'm just waiting for Friday to come around.  I don't want to feel like a wage slave that only lives on the weekends, so I'm trying different ways to own each and every day.  For me that could mean that I do something creative (without an external prompt),  I see something that keeps me in the moment, or anything else that keeps that day from just being one to get through.

I'm in the middle of one of those days now.  Any suggestions?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Live & Learn

The birthday weekend was good, and one of the things it included was the screen printing workshop at The Print Studio that allowed me to make the towel/napkin above.  The funny thing is that the workshop was a gift for Christmas 2007.  I like to hold onto gift certificates.

One thing I’m quickly learning as I write this blog is how much I need to learn.  For example, I’m not really a photographer.  I know, you’re shocked.  So now my partner is giving me tips and teaching me some rudimentary Photoshop skills.  I just thought that my basic photo skills would result in those beautiful pictures I see on other blogs.  But noooo.  I guess like any new activity, it comes with a host of necessary associated skills.

Speaking of skills, one of my new interests is letterpress.  I took a great workshop at Snap & Tumble, and for my birthday, my partner gave me a holiday card making workshop at the Western New York Book Arts Center.  Whoo-hoo!  I have a fantasy that one day letterpress cards and what-not will allow me to teach fewer classes each term.  Believe it or not, I’d like some of my hobbies to be more than decorative.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Birthday

Okay, so I lied - the design isn't finished and it seems like I'll be putzing with this for a bit.  But I realized that if I really waited until it was super-fly cool or at least my idea of a good time, I might never get started, and I promised myself that I would start the blog on my birthday, which is today.  Nothing like a deadline to get the party started.

Why bother to blog now?  Well, I seem to talk to myself a lot and thought maybe I'd talk to others, find others who are also working the tension between what I call the "country mouse" and "city mouse" urges, reconciling investments in style, fashion, and culture with self-sufficiency and total DIY.  Where’s that house that’s both off the grid, but within walking distance of a corner store, and will someone deliver Japanese food?

So, to get the ball rolling, could you tell me about some of the tensions you’re currently navigating?

Hey, thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wait for it, Wait for it...

Blog launch with actual design and what-not to happen on November 6th. Really. Come back.