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!