Monday, December 1, 2008

The reverse graffiti project

I love this. The artist works in reverse stencils with a power washer to create an image out of dirt. Bringing such beauty out of that which we believe to be ugly and foul, well, that's just powerful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fashion meme

I'm posting yet another meme from And-Old-Lace, who I know from over on LiveJournal. It just seemed like a lot of fun. One thing about me- I do love me some fashion. It's my current obsession and has been for a while.

A: What accessories do you wear everyday?
My watch. I've got a great fondness for watches of all types, but in particular I love my Invicta. It's a men's tank style chronograph, black face, silver case and trim, black band.

B: What is your beauty routine?

I wash my face with Cetaphil. Hair is conditioned most days with this all natural leave in conditioner, then thrown back in a headband most days, cause it's a funky length and growing back. I'm just not into the whole putting a face on thing.

C: What was the last item of clothing (for yourself) that you purchased?

Sadly, a very boring and practical cuddledud type long underwear shirt for layering. Hey, I was cold.

D: Do you use a dresser, closet, or both?

I have a small closet, 3/4 of a huge dresser and a big rubbermaid tub down in the storage room. The curse of my life is inadequate storage.

E: What type of earrings are in your ears right now?

None. I never wear them.

F: What type of figure do you have (measurements)?
pear. 46-41-51, so, slightly pear shaped, with a thicker middle.

G: Do you wear glasses?

H: What type of handbag do you carry?

I've got several that I rotate, different styles. My current favorite is a shoulder bag completely covered in glass beads. That sucker weighs like 10 pounds, before I put even a lip balm into it, but it's so cool.

I: What is your ideal style?

I love an eclectic look. Right now I'm rocking a seventies secretary/rocker chick kind of look.

J: What is your favorite brand of jeans?

None. i have yet to find a brand or style of jeans that can do for my figure what even a rather mediocre dress can do.

K: Do you wear knee-hi stockings?

I wouldn't say never. I do own a pair, but I haven't put them on in a good two years.

L: Do you *have* to wear matching lingerie?

No. I understand the impulse, but given my larger bra size (40DD), I have to go with the bra that is supportive rather than pretty and I just can't make myself wear plain beige panties to match.

M: Do you wear makeup?

Almost never. It makes me break out.

N: Do you wear nightgowns?

Jammies only kind of girl. I can't stand the way nightgowns ride up while I sleep.

O: What outerwear do you put on when going out on a typical winters day?

That depends if I'm heading out on bike or not. If I'm going on on bike, I generally look like this. If I'm heading out on foot, I'll wear my new dress coat

P: What is your favorite perfume?

Guerlain Mitsouko

Q: Is your motto "quality over quantity" when it comes to clothing and accessories?

I like them both, but I guess a little bit more of the quantity. I get bored with clothes fairly easily.

R: Do you wear rain boots?

Never found a pair that didn't look bad on my calves of might.

S: Do you wear socks or slippers when your feet get cold?

Socks are more handy. I think I own a pair of slippers.

T: Do you have a set of travel luggage?

Does this imply a matching set? In this case, no. I've got a smaller size rolly suitcase. I travel with that and a large purse as carry on. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't go.

U: What is your daily uniform?

Summer- dress, cardigan if the dress is sleeveless and I'm going to work, matching shoes.
Winter- dress, such sweater or underlayers as the cold requires, tights, boots.

V: If you are married, did you wear a veil with your wedding dress? If not, how did you do your hair?

No. I hated the symbolism. I wore a fresh flower clip in my hair. Which I hated and still makes me cringe when I look at wedding pictures. I was going to just let it dry curly and my mom forced me to go to her hair dresser, who proceeded to blow dry, poof, shellack and generally ruin my hair.

W: Do you wear a watch?

Always. I collect them actually. I've got several and have my eye on a number more.

X: What item of clothing always makes you feel beautiful?

I'd rather be interesting than beautiful or pretty any day.

Y: What is your favorite type of yarn?

Koigu Painters palette premium merino

Z: Do you prefer zippers or buttons?

In theory, buttons, in practice, zippers.

What's your fashion style?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Five things I've been doing, other than blogging

Shopping: This is only one of the many fantastic vintage dresses I've bought on eBay lately. I love shopping vintage. Not only does it mean that I get a dress that nobody else has, it's good ecological sense. Re-use is the first and most important part of the three Rs. And I love how a vintage dress is cut to suit my, ahem, womanly figure without my junk being out all over the place for everyone to see. Most of the new dresses I find in my size are wrap dresses, or low cut V necks. The idea is to play up ones "assets", but too often, I feel like I'm flashing everyone when I'm wearing one of these dresses. Most vintage dresses are more modest while still giving a good look to my figure.

Oh, and oddly enough, it's cheaper than buying new. Most of the dresses I've bought lately are less than $30. Even the most expensive vintage dress I've bought is only about an average price for what I used to pay for a new dress.

Watching: Dexter- season 1. Actually, I was able to watch this as a download from Netflix, rather than having to wait for the physical discs. So very convenient. Almost like I actually had a television. Darn the internet for making the fact that I don't have a television increasingly irrelevant.

Also, oddly enough, I went to school with Michael C. Hall. We're both Earlham grads, class of '93

Of course, while he's been grabbing Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, I've been. Um, really, what have I been doing?

Death Comes for the Archbishop

I loved this book. Such an inspirational book, with gorgeous descriptions of a part of the country I've never been to but hope to visit some time. In the end, I thought this book was about the power of love.

Doing: Going to the gym, specifically, I've been taking Pilates twice a week. I love it. It makes me feel so strong, capable and graceful. I do both a one on one class and a group session during the week. I wish I could afford to do the one on one twice a week, because I feel I make so much more progress when I do this, but darn it's expensive.


This video made me cry the first time I saw it, just after election night.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

single word meme

Just a little meme from Posy Gets Cozy, one of my favorite blogs. Hope it gets me back into the habit of posting again. It's just so easy to be lazy and ignore the blog.

Where is your mobile phone? charging
Where is your significant other? lazing
Your hair colour? blondish
Your mother? forgetful
Your father? cranky
Your favourite thing? books
Your dream last night? perturbing
Your dream goal? contentment
The room you're in? messy
Your hobby? knitting
Your fear? driving
Where do you want to be in 6 years? prosperous
Where were you last night? home
What you're not? thin
One of your wish-list items? balcony
Where you grew up? college
The last thing you did? laundry
What are you wearing? stripes
Your TV? non-existent
Your pets? hiding
Your computer? ripping
Your mood? doubtful
Missing someone? nephews
Your car? Car?
Something you're not wearing? bra
Favourite shop? eBay
Your summer? mourned
Love someone? persistantly
Your favourite colour? sunset
When is the last time you laughed? LOLcats
When is the last time you cried? today

So, there you have it, my life, in single word form. Do it. It was kind of fun.

And I promise to actually try and post to this blog now and then. It's been a lazy fall and I haven't actually done any crafting, knitting or the like. Plenty of reading, plenty of watching DVDs, not so much on the useful activity front though. More later today, perhaps.

Friday, September 5, 2008

for want of a nail...

The war (eventually) was lost, so says the old rhyme. It's funny how the little things can just cause total chaos to develop.

I'm generally fairly neat around the house. I like to keep things picked up and in their places. I can normally go from my normal state of the house to company ready in 20 or so minutes. Well, an hour if its my mother-in-law. But things are just gross at the Casa Campion tonight.

As an example, I buy a few more t-shirts and dresses. All of a sudden, my closet and the little canvas dresser I have to keep in my closet for t-shirts and the like go critical and clothes just explode out it, so it seems. I've been thinking about a real dresser for my bedroom anyway, so I buy one at the Howard Brown resale shop (an AIDS charity around here, with the best used furniture). Suddenly, I'm having to get rid of this glass door bookshelf where I kept my purses, my extra linens, the extra quilts, sweaters, etc. It's just too crowded in there for a ten drawer dresser and a six foot tall glass bookcase. Well, not everything that was in the bookcase and the closet overflow fits in the dresser. So I have to do what I probably should have done in the first place and thin out the deadwood among my clothing. Well, that's now in the living room, waiting to be taken to the thrift. And the extra quilts are stacked on top of the dresser still. I hate things in stacks on top of the dresser. Cannot abide them. At least the inside of the dresser is as organized as these things get with me. I like things neat and tidy, but have never been able to convince myself of the virtues of folding underwear or arranging my rolled socks by color.

Then the kitchen cabinet started to fall down. It must have been slow and gradual, but I didn't notice until the other day, when I realized I could fully shut the door on my crockpot. I've got this huge crockpot and even in my largest cabinet, I can't fully shut the door on it. I've got my eye open for a smaller one at the thrift, but until then, I've always just kept the door partly open.

Of course this meant immediate evacuation of every dish, wine glass, teapot and rubbermaid storage container we kept in that pair of cabinets. They're now all over m dining room. I'm going to use it as an opportunity to prune and weed out the deadwood there. There was a lot of weight in that cabinet, china dishes, crystal, and so forth. I'm going to get rid of quite a bit of it I think. But yes, for now, it's all over my dining room. Coffee cups are on every shelf of the dining room bookshelves. A stack of dishes on the dining room table.

I had a handyman out this afternoon and they've been repaired. It turned out that there weren't enough screws used and the ones that were used totally missed the studs and that we were lucking that it didn't come tearing down catastrophically in the middle of the night, taking all our dishes with it. I sometimes wonder where else in the conversion process did the developer of our condo cut corners and when I'll find that out the hard way.

The chaos from that has even spread into the living room. See, I left the phone book I used to find the handyman out on the coffee table and as everyone knows, the instant you leave something out like that, it just starts to collect clutter around it, kind of like how the planets coalesced out of bits of rock and dust gathering together by force of gravity. So now, in less than a day, my coffee table has gone from completely empty to "can just barely see that there's a coffee table". How does that happen so quickly?

Also, it's amazing how few things it can take to turn ones possessions from manageable into "I must declutter my life immediately, my things are taking over!" Things were fine, until I brought a few things home from my Grandfather's house that my family is cleaning out. All in all, I brought home less than a suitcase full of stuff and yet I feel overwhelmed. For instance, there's this hat box. I brought it home with three hats in it. How could three mere hats feel like too much? But the only place for the hat box to live is on top of the dresser and see above for my feelings on things kept on the dresser. There's also this glass pitcher with solid white spots on it. Does that replace the white ceramic pitcher? If not, where can they both live.

I'll stop whining about this soon and by tomorrow I'll be working at getting my house back together to its normal state. For now, though, the chaos seems overwhelming. I don't think well when my surroundings are in disarray. Still, I suppose this is one of those few disadvantages to living in small surroundings like we do now. Back when we lived in a house, I could have shoved all of this stuff into the basement until I was ready to deal with it. That's not an option now, so if I have more stuff than is liveable, I just have to live amongst it until I can get it resolved. No picture today though. Who would want to look at all this?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ten things- the letter b

And_Old_Lace, who I know from over on LiveJournal was having a game. She assigned me a random letter, then I have to come up with ten things starting with that letter that I love. Then I write about it in my journal. Should be easy, right?

1) Obviously, books. All of them pretty much. I love the weight of them in my hand, the smell of the pages whether its a crisp new book just out of the carton from the publisher or a musty old book that has spent aeons in the back corners of the library. I love the serifs of the fonts and the feel of paper under my fingers. I sometimes see someone around who has one of those Amazon Kindles or the Sony Reader and I feel sad for them. See, they're not reading a real book. Oh, maybe they're reading a real novel or non-fiction work, but those electronic files in portable devices are not, nor ever will be real books. Rant over. Heh. I guess this sort of thing happens to you when you work in a bookstore for seven years.

Above picture by Austinevan and used under creative commons license. Isn't it beautiful.

2) Boho. I know. I should hang my head in shame because the boho thing is so over played, but I love it. Whether its the interiors of Wary Meyers or dresses like this I envy and covet them. By the way, if you've got any idea where I can get a dress like that one, but in my size, let me know.

3) Birds. It makes me happy beyond all reason to look up into the sky and see them flying. In particular, I find large flights of pigeons to be particularly moving. On the ground, they're these pudgy comedians, wobbling their head back and forth as they walk, puffing their feathers and chest out. In the air, they are so graceful and free. They're precision flyers too, as if some group mind is controlling them, and yet not, because while they move together, its not as if they are in formation.

4) Bandshell. Or in particular, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in downtown Chicago by Frank Gehry. It's like the waves of Lake Michigan frozen into a moment of eternity.

5) The Big Bang Theory. I don't have a TV, so I only get to see episodes when I visit my sister (and her Tivo!). I love this show though.

6) Bossa Nova. I love this album and this one. But this is my favorite song. I love the Bossa Nova for the joy of the sound. Even sad songs, no, especially the sad songs have it. Perhaps there's a little wallowing in how beautiful love lost is, but that's kind of the point.

7) Beans. Probably one of the most significant parts of my daily diet now that I've gone veg. I'm not a huge fan of soy beans or chickpeas, but just about any other kind is fine with me.

8) the BVM. In a bathtub. I grew up in a primarily Catholic town, so there were a lot of these around. Even though I'm no longer a Catholic myself, I still look at them fondly and with a bit of nostalgia. We didn't actually have one ourselves, but I always wanted one when growing up. My grandmother, who lived just down the street from us, had an inside statue of the BVM that was actually quite beautiful and over two feet tall. I think she brought it back from a Church trip to Italy.

9) Brasilia by Broyhill. I'm particularly enamored of the coffee table by them, based off the Cathedral by Oscar Niemeyer. I nearly bought one on eBay but determined that its really too big for the space. It made me really sad to not get it though.

10) Billy Collins

Monday, August 25, 2008

I know I've been m.i.a.

Do I have a good excuse. No, not really. I've been writing a novel in a month, supposedly. Just like NaNoWriMo except I've elected to do it without the support of everyone else doing it. I'm just sort of stupid and stubborn like that. Except I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it. I've got like 20k words to write still to reach my goal and less than a week to do them in. Urgh. Some good vibes might be nice at this juncture.

I've also been working on a project with recycled materials, including a wool sweater from the thrift store. More about that later. I'm excited though. I think it looks pretty good for being one of the first things I've done with a felted sweater. It was already felted at the thrift store, so I didn't feel guilty about cutting it up.

In other news, we've gone more or less vegan sort of. I've been letting myself have a brownie which no doubt contains eggs and possibly milk when I go to the coffee house to write. It's really hard to write without a brownie for some reason. I'm rationalizing it because my favorite coffee house doesn't have any vegan treats. But every meal and treat made at home for the last three weeks has been vegan. Things I'd never thought would be in my fridge, like almond milk and soy yogurt are in my fridge. Oh, and this dreadful vegan cheese that Mr. Campion just had to try. Definitely better to give up the cheese completely than suffer that again.

In other other news, my back has been more or less out of order for two weeks. It keeps sending me messages about how it's sorry for the inconvenience and so forth. I've just started seeing a chiropractor and its been an improvement. She's so nice and most importantly, she hasn't blamed me for what's wrong with my back. So often when I've gone to a regular doctor, whatevers wrong with me has been blamed on me, either by implication or outright statement. Anyway, I go to a chiro that uses the activator method. You'll never go to a neck cracker again once you've had gentle treatment by the activator method.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Thunderstorms and musings on the car free life

We had ferocious thunderstorms tonight, complete with tornado warnings. In fact, I can still see flashes off in the distance of lightening far away, with the faint rumbling of thunder. Luckily, the tornado warnings came to naught, at least around here. I did discover just how loud the local tornado siren is though. We're literally across the street from it. This is how loud it is- it hurt my ears, even with all the windows shut. It drove my poor little cat frantic to the point where she was running all over our condo, looking for some place to hide from it. Oh, and we lost power for about two hours, starting while I was making dinner. Luckily, we have a gas stove, so I was able to continue cooking, once I got out our emergency camping lantern. Every once in a while, I think about wanting one of those new induction electric stoves with the smooth top, for easy cleaning. But then something like this happens and I come to my senses.

But earlier in the evening, before I had started dinner, I had been sewing. More on what I'm making later, but as sometimes happens, I ran out of thread. White thread. How did that happen? It always seems like I've got about eleventy billion spools of white thread floating around the house. Normally, I just would have hopped on the bike and ridden the two or so miles to Hancock. It's not a far ride, nor particularly difficult. There's one super busy street to cross and one parking lot I go through where you have to watch out for cars not looking where they're going. But it had been raining all day, more or less. It was raining then. The sky was looking threatening, though I hadn't heard of the tornado warnings yet. It didn't seem like a great idea to head out into bad weather, not when it was an optional thing. Oh, and it was about twenty minutes until the store closed.

At that moment, I had one of those thoughts. I get them very rarely. It was the "if only I had a car" thought. If only I'd had a car, I would have hopped into it right then and gone off to get my thread. You don't think a lot about the weather when you have a car, or at least not until it gets pretty extreme. As it is, I didn't finish my project tonight because I didn't have a car. Which isn't to say I'm complaining about this. I wouldn't have been able to finish my project anyway, most likely, because of the power outage. Though if I had that thread, I would be sewing now, instead of blogging.

But, it made me think- was it necessarily a bad thing that I'm having to delay my project a little?

I was about to plunge right into a rolled and machine sewn hem. This delay gives me a chance to think about other options. Do I want to see if I can find some matching fabric and make a bias binding instead? What about some other form of trim as an edging. Instead of going to Hancock's, tomorrow after work, I could take the time and make a trip to Vogue Fabrics, a bigger and better fabric store.

Not having a car prevented me from having something I wanted right then. Is it always such a good thing to have what we want right now. I recall reading somewhere a while back that the secret to success and happiness, according to some psychology researchers, is the ability to defer gratification, at least for a while. Perhaps, if I did have a car, I could have convinced myself that no, I didn't need to go right away, but one thing I discovered during the period where we were "car light", before we went totally car free, is that when you have a car, it becomes very tempting to use it. Very hard to say no to just a few little trips.

I could go on about carbon footprints and how much money we save by not having a car (hundreds a month, even without a car payment), but the truth is, I love not having a car because it allows me to live life more at my own speed. I get nervous going too fast. It always feels like a little bit of my soul gets left behind and takes a while to catch up to me. I get scared about the danger, going as fast as a car can go.

But more than anything, I can be car free because I love my bike. I've always loved bikes since I was a little girl. A bike is freedom, to me. I'm taken back to childhood, when it seemed a miracle that I could move that fast, that far. Back then, a bike could take me away from my house, to the library, to the fabric store (I learned to sew at a fairly young age), to the lake where I could stare for hours at the reflection of the sky in the still waters. Even now, I can remember those feelings as I pedal.

The picture above is my bike, which is a Country Road Bob, single speed, by Van Dessel Cycles, with a custom paint job in Tiffany blue, with a pearlescent overlay. I had the drops replaced with a mustache handlebar and the stem raised about as far as it could go, to give me as upright a posture as possible on the bike.

The storm is picking up again. I'd better wrap this up and put it up, just in case I loose power again. Lord, what an evening. I've never seen weather like this.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Five things I'm loving right now.

The mere idea of the Something Storemakes me happy. It's like a surprise present to yourself.

It could be anything. One person got an iPod shuffle, but I suspect most people get things that cost considerably less than the $10 per something price. They say that it'll probably be new, but that it possibly could be antique or refurbished or just about anything. I think we all need more beautiful randomness in our lives.

I've been rather dutifully slogging my way through Northanger Abbey. Yes, I'm still not done. It might help if I stopped reading other things for a while, but I can't help myself. I've been tearing through the His Dark Materials trilogy. Yeah, they're juvies. I read juvies sometimes. Just because a book is meant for a younger audience, doesn't mean it won't speak to someone of any age. The young girl character Lyra is so brave and bold. She makes me wish I had been her when I was younger, instead of the shy, reclusive bookworm that I was. I just finished book two of the three this afternoon and if I hadn't gotten home from my Girl Scout trip so late, I would have rushed off to the library to check out number three, the Amber Spyglass.

"Ice Cream" made out of coconut milk. I tried the chocolate last night and it is so good. I like it better than real ice cream, I think. This product from Turtle Mountain is dairy free, soy free, and sweetened with agave, to make it lower glycemic. Oh, did I mention, its really yummy. If I can still have ice cream, or rather, something like it, but better tasting even, then that makes it a lot easier to consider the vegan path.

I've been loving the website Cake Wrecks. It's seriously even more hilarious than the late, lamented blog "You knit what?!". No pictures here because I'm not sure of the copyright status of the pictures, but go visit and you'll see what I mean. Each time I read the blog, I start laughing so hard I get the hiccups. Just be warned that there are a couple of cakes of dubious taste towards the end of the page.

This video by Sigur Ros. It just makes me happy every time I hear the song. Even better to see the video. The band is from Iceland and I believe they sing in Icelandic. I've got not the slightest idea what the lyrics mean, but that doesn't seem to matter. I know, I can tell just from the sound of the song that its a song of joy and hope. This is the first time I've run across Sigur Ros, but they'll definitely be added to the playlist of my life. In a weird sort of way, they remind me of what I love about early Jane Siberry.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Going vegan?

So we just checked out Vegan with a Vengeance from our local public library. We've been vegetarian in this house for a little while. For us, it's primarily an environmental thing. Simply put, growing animals to eat uses resources and adds to global warming. It's just another thing we saw that we could do, just like when we rearranged our lives to make it easy, we were able to give up our car and go car free.

But I've been thinking, what if animal products such as eggs and dairy are nearly as hard on the environment as meat. I've also read that some people consider the "vegetarian" stance to be ethically unsupportable, that the only way to be a real vegetarian is to be a vegan, because by their nature, the production of eggs and dairy leads to the creation and death of animals. Most chickens that stop laying enough go to the stew pot. Milk can only keep coming year round by the making of lots of calves and almost all of the males don't survive long.

I'm not certain. I do know that it would be pretty hard for me to go cold turkey vegan. I'm not overly fond of soy and sometimes don't feel well if I eat too much of it, so that limits how much tofu I can eat. And I'll be honest, after trying it several times, I really do loathe the taste of soy "milk". It's certainly easier to not worry about things like am I getting enough protein and other nutrients when I'm eating dairy and eggs. I love milk and cheese, the taste of them.

For the moment, I'm not going to give them up completely, but I have decided to try and eat far less of them. I'm going to try and always use oil instead of butter when cooking. I'm going to try and learn to drink my iced coffee black. And maybe I'll even learn to live without swiss cheese on my tempeh reuben. And I have to believe that the changes I've made to my diet are helping at least some, even if I do give into an omelet once and a while.

This beautiful photo of vegetables from a market in Helsinki was taken by the flickr user Philocrites. Isn't it just gorgeous? The rest of his photos are beautiful as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just a quick post. We went to the Art Institute tonight and saw this show. No pictures because you weren't allowed to take pictures in the exhibit. But I will say that my favorite work was this small sculpture of the Oba (Benin King) meeting Queen Elizabeth II and this pair of leopards. They're so cunningly crafted. Make sure you zoom on the picture to get a good view of the surface details, how they made the leopard's spots. I love the grin they seem to have, with their bared teeth.

The picture has nothing to do with the main topic of the post. I offer it as proof that I haven't been entirely idle. Click on the small photo to see it larger. The rolled edge and garter stitch are visible that way.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The tastes of summer

Green beans for dinner tonight! We had green bean and couscous gratin. And I sauted the extra beans with some oil and garlic, just until the outside of some of them got a little crispy, kind of like they serve at the Chinese place. And of course, there was also zucchini. You gotta eat those up fast this time of the year, before they all grow up to be baseball bats. I ate plenty of baseball bat zucchini growing up as a kid. You know, that time of the year when it shows up in everything Mom puts on the table, in soup, ratatouille, stir fry, even hidden in quick bread. Yes, these are the tastes of summer.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I've really been loving the work of Lisa Congdon lately. If you haven't seen her latest stuff, you should check it out. She's just done a show of portraits of pigments, the real old pigments that they used before chemistry made producing all the colors so easy. I'm enormously fond of the Indigo portrait, but her Bone Black portrait is very strong and very graphic. Also, I love her malachite portrait.

I hope its okay for me to use this image for my post. I'm not sure of the copyright and etiquette issues here. it's just so beautiful I couldn't resist.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Five things

eating: Peaches. We still haven't finished all the peaches that we bought at the farmer's market last Saturday, and it's just the start of the season thankfully. I know some are partial to Georgia peaches, but to me, the best will always be Michigan peaches, and that's what we get at our farmer's market.

thinking about: How am I going to arrange all my random pieces of art on the wall over my Chinese chest? It really intimidates me, especially when I all the amazing ways that people have done mixed arrangements of art. And it's not just these ones you see that have to go up on the all. They're hiding a whole other layer of prints. And the sweetest little Chinese screen I have with Japanese maples and a couple of little birds.

listening: Tegan and Sara- The Con. Where have they been all my life? I've needed a compelling new band to listen to and I've finally found it.

wearing: Every chance I get, I've been wearing my new dress by Jane Bon Bon. Well, not to my work, because I don't want to chance getting it dirty. But if you're a dress wearer at all, check out her etsy store. She's especially nice for the full-figured. Her specialty is the "braless dress". And she means it.



reading: Northanger Abbey. I'm not sure I like it. Catherine is not as foolish as Emma but nowhere near as sensible as Fanny Price.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A new project and indulgence for me

I bought the Tanglewood bag pattern and patch kit from Posy Gets Cosy

I'm really excited. And I'm a bit scared at the same time. It's not that I'm not an experienced sewist. I am. I've sewn for over twenty years now, making a lot of my own clothes at various times in my life. I've made full size bed quilts and covers for the cushions of my sofa.

But there's a lot of precision sewing going on here. The seams are going to have to be straight as a yard stick. Looks like that bias tape is going to require a steady and delicate hand. These are not my strengths as a sewist. I like the bold design and gesture. The aforementioned large quilt only looks good until you look closely at it and notice that not all of the triangle points meet up. A state fair blue ribbon winner it is not. Even now, after twenty years at the machine, my straight seams still have some wibbles and wobbles in them. I'm especially worried about turning the square patches into the patchwork fabric. The rest of it doesn't worry me so much. But if I don't get that first step right, no matter what I do, the rest of the bag will look wretched.

Still, I'm excited. It's one of the first cloth bags I've seen that I've truly been excited about. I can't wait to get my patch kit. I just hope I can find someone to hold my hand as I start it.

Picture above taken from the Posy Gets Cosy website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saturday's walk

I'm fortunate to live in one of the prettiest places around and Saturday, we got up early and went for a walk. I brought my camera and I've just downloaded the pictures. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. It was early and bright enough that the shadows formed clear dapples on the sidewalk.

I don't know why I love this garden gate. I just do. I think maybe it reminds me a little of New Orleans. I've never been there, but I've always wanted to go and in my mind, it's full of iron work like this. So, rather than a Coney Island of the mind, I've got a New Orleans of the mind. I blame Anne Rice mostly.

I was happy to discover that one of the churches near me has a labyrinth. This labyrinth is a simplified Chartres. Have you ever walked a labyrinth? It's not a maze. So long as you stay on the path, you can't get lost. You wind in and out, turning and following the arcs of the circle until you get to the middle. Medieval cathedral builders would put a labyrinth, usually under the crossing so that people could do a sort of mini pilgrimage, even if they couldn't make the full trip to Jerusalem or other holy spots. We spent a few quiet minutes walking the labyrinth.

I'm obsessed with taking pictures of this bridge. I love the textures and colors that the rust has made on the green paint. The beams and girders give it such a gorgeous geometry too. This is just a railroad overpass. Metra trains, freight trains and the El all use it to pass through my town.

I came across a huge pot of the most gorgeous Elephant Ears. These are a tender annual in this area and most people just grow them in pots, rather than have to lift them out of the ground every year before frost. It always astonishes me how huge they can get in even just a month or so of summer. Again with colors of green and the geometric structure. I could stare at these leaves for hours.

I've always loved day lilies, or as we called 'em back home, ditch lilies. This house had a massive clump of them growing against the garage, the lilies floating above the strappy leaves like an orange cloud. But what were almost prettier than the lilies were the shadows they left on the siding.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This is the tail end of a huge ball of yarn. There's about enough left at this point for one baby cap. I know this for sure, because by the time I'm posting this, I've made the cap.

I make baby hats for charity, I've made lots of them over the years and later I'll post more about a project I'm working on with them. But for now, about the yarn.

I feel particularly proud of this yarn because I made it. Well, sort of. It's reclaimed merino wool from a thrift store sweater. There's tons of instructions on how to do this all over the net, but basically you find a sweater that is fully finished, not serged together, which cuts the yarn and gives you lots of short pieces when you try and pull it apart. The you rip apart the seams and start unravelling. This can be kind of challenging when you have a young cat in the house.

Then, once it's all unraveled and you've skeined it up, you dye it with kool-aid. I love dyeing with kool-aid because it's about as non-toxic as dye gets. I mean, I wouldn't want to drink the stuff, but it's not bad for dye. In this case, the yarn was a truly uninspiring light mushroom gray. I over dyed it with red and blue koolaid, in a one to three packet ratio, using maybe sixteen packets for this huge skein. Make sure you get the little packs of kool-aid, not the kind with sugar or sugar substitute added already. Toss em in the pot with a bunch of water, set on the stove to heat up. For this batch, I added a little vinegar for acid, to see if that would help the color be more vibrant, but you don't have to. Kool-aid is totally acidic enough as is. Wash your yarn. Rinse it well. Make sure you use cool water, and don't rub the yarn at all. You don't want to felt it on accident. Then, toss the skein in the pot and simmer until the dye is all exhausted from the pot.

You can space dye and hand paint with koolaid too, but I like just plain kettle dyeing. It gives a very subtle kind of effect, showing that its a work of the hand, with lighter and darker areas. But you don't get the sometimes crazy contrasts and pooling of colors like you often see with a hand paint.

The thing I love best about this yarn is that you're recycling something that might well have gone to waste. There's so many old used sweaters in the thrift stores. Sometimes they get so many old clothes that they have to bundle them up and ship them to developing nations, which can wreck havoc on local, indigenous clothing and textile industries. And while you're not really killing a sheep to get it's wool, there can be an environmental impact from over grazing. Not to mention, yarn production, though it doesn't have to be, can be an industry that is a heavy water polluter.

Out of one men's sweater that was just going to go back to the thrift store I bought it at, I got one adult plus size shrug, a toddler size sweater and at least ten baby caps.

More about how baby hats can help save the world later.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Okay, so I wouldn't go so far as to use the word bucolic to describe today, but I came close. I believe the word halcyon also slipped to the tip of my tongue once but didn't quite escape. In short, one of those summer days. The ones we all dream about in the middle of winter. You know, clouds doing the cotton candy thing, looking all impressive and threatening but never actually letting fly with the downpour. Even now as the sun is setting, the sky is that astonishing rosy color between apocalypse orange and refulgent pink. The color that no camera ever captures quite accurately. Just gorgeous really.

Oh, and it's also the days that I think of as the middle of summer. Before too long, we'll meander into the decline of Fall. It's the days that I start to feel panic. Am I making the most of this summer? Am I taking enough bike rides? Going to enough summer street fairs? Spending enough time at the beach? Eating enough zucchini and peaches? In short, am I living life to the fullest, stocking up the good times for the long, dull winter ahead? I think maybe one can never eat enough peaches, but the answer to the rest, for this summer at least is "maybe", instead of the "definitely not" of previous years.

I'll leave you with a photo I took at the start of summer.