Monthly Archives: October 2008

love

I haven’t written in a while. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already noticed this. Not that my blog was ever “about” anything, but I’ve felt as though I have even less to add these days. I’m picking up the odd design job here and there, and busying myself with jewelry-making in between. I’ve been experimenting with new materials, since, outside of the pet tags, nothing seems particularly popular with the masses. And the dog tags? I don’t make a dime on them. Even if I kept the “profit” portion of their price for myself, it would be tough to live on $2 a month.

My usual flurry of Halloween activity was tempered this year. Halfway through my second costume, I just gave up. I didn’t care about it. I was relieved that I already had one finished, but to be completely honest, that one wouldn’t have come together without the dedicated assistance of Megan doing my hair at the last minute. (I did have a great time helping Megan and Joe decorate for their party, and while I know they think that I was doing them a favor, it is I who really appreciate spending all of those days with them.)

In August, I finally started sewing Butterick 4790. I bunged up my sewing machine, and spent hours/days trying to figure out how to affordably fix it. Finally, with some ingenuity (and a metal kebab skewer) I was able to clear out enough thread from the innards to start sewing again. My (single) costume dress was back on, and it came out rather well if I may say so myself (very forgiving material) but that Walk-Away dress is still unfinished. And will likely remain so. I love the chrysanthemum fabric I chose for the front panel, but I went too cheap on the wrap-around solid, and I just don’t want to work with it. Even if I liked the fabric, I am faced with stitching on 300 yards of bias tape. Ugh.

Yesterday, things were picking up. I successfully made myself a cup of tea, AND drank it before it got cold. I’ve been typing out, longhand, a 13-chapter story, one chapter at a time, for a friend, and I managed to find an entire chapter already online. Copy-and-paste! I finally got myself started with my Blue Book, so I could be an informed voter AND still vote early. The beads that I had ordered specifically for an exclusive bracelet design being sold at an online shop FINALLY came in. I swapped some good email with a potential client, and worked on a business card design for another. I cleaned up a section of the kitchen, which has become my cluttered food-prep-and-jewelry studio.

And then the tape came loose. Megan called. In and of itself, unusual. The middle of the afternoon only made it more so. It turns out that their oldest, tiniest, sweetest cat was sick. Very sick. Always plagued with respiratory issues, Wheezer’s breathing had been getting more labored. She had just taken him into the vet, and some cells had been swabbed for testing. He was scared, not feeling well, test results weren’t back yet, and Megan and her husband were supposed to be leaving for vacation on Friday morning. Assuring them that staying home wouldn’t help our dear fuzzy friend get any better, I agreed to stay with him in their home so he wouldn’t have to be kenneled while they were gone. I was nervous about the possibility of the prognosis being Not Good on my watch, but I love that little guy like my own and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him (and my friends). Besides, the vet have given three possible diagnoses, so statistically, things would probably be okay. I’d pick up some meds and take care of whatever needed caring.

A few hours later, Joe called, and the bottom fell out. He and Megan had gone back to the vet’s to pick up our little pal, but the vet had assessed the situation with more observation and test results, and my friends had a very difficult decision to make. It wasn’t so much a choice as it was a necessary kindness, but that doesn’t make the pain any easier to swallow.

Too soon, I am again left with a hole in my heart that aches for my friends’ loss, knowing that there isn’t a damn thing I can do. This time, that loss feels more personal, because of the relationship that little Wheezer had with everyone who ever walked into his house. Every person he ever met was his best friend, and possessed his most comfortable lap in which to sleep. His only emotion was contentment. I am consoled by the fact that his last weekend was spent in a houseful of hands ready and willing to pet him, an assortment of laps to test, and that so many people, though they didn’t know it, got a chance to say good-bye. I am glad that I stole a few minutes to laugh and play with him on Friday when I should have been setting up more décor, and glad that he slept at my feet, wheezing of course, when the party was all over.

Wheezer brought love with him wherever he went, and no matter how much he gave away, he always had more. His capacity for love was bigger than his physical size. It filled him, spilled out, and if you sat still long enough, it would fill you, too. I hope I can learn from him.

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Filed under blogging, cute and fuzzy bunny, friends, Halloween, jewelry, pets, sewing

The difference between 19 and Now

I’m at Costco. There are two girls roaming the same aisles that I am. Sharing a cart, they are both wearing the same outfit: blond hair pulled back in messy ponytails, snug boot-cut jeans, black sneakers, and oversized red t-shirts printed with a tagline which indicates that they work at a local steakhouse. It’s Costco, and they seem a little perplexed as to how the whole place is laid out, so I assume they’re on a supply run for the restaurant.

(shopping happens)

I wind up directly behind them at the checkout line. In my cart? Cheese, multi-grain bread, organic apples, Pirate’s Booty, and real-sugar Coke. In their cart? Oversized cinnamon buns, Froot Loops, Cocoa Krispies, chocolate chip cookie dough, Chex Mix, pickles, frozen burritos, and a roasted chicken. Obviously, they’re roommates. Also obviously, they are just learning how to shop for themselves, and they are having a ball with it.

I raise my cereal bowl in a toast to these two young women. May we all occasionally remember to treat ourselves to some crap.

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Filed under food, friends, nostalgia, shopping, trans-fatty acids

Sprouts Farmers Market: Review

In a word, pish. The advertising was so promising: farm fresh produce, all-natural meats, old fashioned bakery, etc. I was excited to be able to go on opening day, and hoped to be lucky enough to not only use my coupon for free eggs, but score a free reusable shopping bag.

The parking lot was full, but I found a spot without trouble. A gentleman stands at the front entrace with two shopping carts full of reusable bags. In fact, he gives me two! And then I walk into the store. What a madhouse! I know that it’s opening day, but are this many people unemployed that the grocery store can be PACKED at 9:30 in the morning? The checkout lines are so long that it is impossible to actually get to the end of any aisle. Okay, I don my mental armor, and plow in.

First section: The bakery. Oooh, a crusty, seeded mini baguette! Perhaps I’ll pick that up, and a can of soup, for lunch. I make it over to the basket, pick up the bread… and realize that it’s packed in non-breathable plastic, so it’s soft all the way through. No crusty goodness. I put it back. Next, a pie. I make pie. I want to see what they put in THEIR pie. I start reading the ingredients, and actually do a double-take. Artificial flavoring? Hrmm. I put it down, and move on to the deli. Okay, perhaps this deviled egg potato salad would be nice. Again, reading the ingredients… I stop at corn syrup. This does not bode well. I notice a cooler full of Fuze energy drinks, which I know contain the artificial sweetener sucralose. Sigh. Okay, I’ll look around some more. It’s probably better than Safeway, right?

I stroll slowly past the meat cases, looking for anything marked “natural” or “free range” or “sustainable.” There is one section of free-range poultry, but the rest is nothing special. Produce is in the back of the store, and the potatoes and onions look fabulous! Then I notice that they’re not marked as organic. I look for the organic versions, and can’t find them. In fact, I can’t find ANY organic produce. Okay, it must be me. Maybe they don’t call it out, because it’s ALL organic. After all, there’s a HUGE sign up above that says ORGANIC in two-foot letters. Just as I’m about to start taking a closer look at the PLU codes (organic codes all start with a 9), I finally find the organic stuff. All by itself, on a display. A rather small display, frankly. At this point, the crowds and the disappointment have gotten to me, so I leave my Free Eggs coupon on top of the egg display for another customer, and I vamoose. I don’t need to go back.

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Filed under food, shopping

Mrs. Blandings

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is not my favorite movie. It’s not included in my admittedly small personal library. But there is one scene which, due in no small part to the nature of my “day job,” is very near and dear to my heart.

Jim Blandings, feeling the constraits of a small, New York City apartment on his growing young family, decides to move them all to a more spacious spread in rural Connecticut. Jim’s wife, Muriel, is in charge of the decorating.

In my favorite scene, Muriel Blandings is discussing with the painter her color choices for the walls, as workers scurry about in the background. This is the dialog between Mrs. Blandings, the painting contractor, Mr. PeDelford, and his painter, Charlie:

Mrs. Blandings – Now, Mr. PeDelford, we’ll discuss painting.

Mr. PeDelford – Okay.

Mrs. Blandings – I had some samples. Here we are. Now, first, the living room. I want it to be a soft green. Not as blue-green as a robin’s egg.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – But not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow. But don’t let whoever does it get it too blue.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – It should be a sort of grayish yellow-green. Now the dining room, I’d like yellow. Not just yellow. A very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshiny. I tell you, if you’ll send one of your workmen to the grocer for a pound of their best butter and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong.

This is the paper we’ll use in the hall. It’s flowered. But I don’t want the ceiling to match any colors of the flowers. There are some little dots in the background, and it’s these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now, the kitchen’s to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic, hospital white.

Mr. PeDelford – No.

Mrs. Blandings – A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now, for the powder room in here, I want you to match this thread. And don’t lose it. It’s the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it. As you can see, it’s practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy Winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me. (leaves to speak to another contractor)

Mr. PeDelford – You got that, Charlie?

Charlie – Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

On every one of the press checks I go to, it’s my job to KNOW color. I have been playing with Color-Aid swatches and Pantone books since I was a toddler. So, when I order a RED dress from eBay and it shows up RUBY, don’t think I won’t say something. When my beautiful, Stealth Gray Pearl car is repainted some custom mix that a lazy painter thought would be close enough… it isn’t. When my Persimmon and Periwinkle tattoo comes out Persimmon and Blue, I’m going to bitch about it. The differences might be subtle to most people, but to me, it’s like night and day. This isn’t to say that I’m GOOD at color. If I don’t have my swatch in front of me, it can be a nightmare for me to match it. Some folks have a real knack for putting a color to memory, but I’m the sort who is STILL trying to find “the right pink” to match a dress I bought a year ago. And while, in many cases, “close enough” is, it isn’t where that dress is concerned. In this case, I’m trying to learn a lesson oft repeated to me by my friend Mary Jo: “It doesn’t have to match, it just has to go.” (Meanwhile, people stop me on the street when I’m “daring” enough to wear yellow shoes with an all black-and-white outfit.)

So, what goes with this lovely new vintage number that I brought home, again at half-price, from the thrift store yesterday? It’s what I’d call a Sky Blue; not as green as a Robin’s Egg…

As usual, more info if you follow the link.

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Filed under collections, fashion, jewelry, shoes, shopping, tattoo, the office, vintage

Nothing up my sleeve

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

Today is Wednesday, and my third day without work OR with any contracts lined up. This is also the first week that I haven’t filled all of my non-working time with portfolio updates, resumé updates, and business card design (Hey, where are my business cards? Shouldn’t they have arrived by now?). So I am allowing myself this week “off” to get some other things done.

I qualified for private health insurance! And, on the same day that I got a letter from my current provider updating me about something or other, I also received a letter from my future provider informing me that they couldn’t verify that I currently had insurance. (Rolls eyes, sighs, thinks of Ekwoman and her disdain for the fax machine I must now locate in order to send Future Insurer documentation from Current Insurer).

I technically qualify for unemployment, but the paperwork is so obtuse (and yes, I applied online, so I can only imagine what the volume of forms and letters would be if I hadn’t) that this college-educated, high-IQ gal cannot make heads or tails of it, and I have yet to actually get any money. Two other layoffees I have spoken with are also having difficulty with the system. Dear Colorado: Fix this. Seriously. I don’t expect you to make it EASY for us, but this is ridiculous. I have, on more than one occasion, recieved multiple letters from the same office. The postage alone is staggering, let alone the admin hours you are (and this is State run, so I am) paying. A friend joked that he suspects he gets a letter each time his file is moved from one desk to another. I need to call and speak to someone personally, but I have been warned about multi-hour hold times, and I’m not looking forward to it.

On the less cranky side: An online shop has contacted me about selling my dice bracelets. Woo! I want those bracelets to be exclusive to that store, so I am currently (anxiously!) awaiting a new shipment of dice so that I may begin to, if you’ll pardon the expression, Drill, Baby, Drill. The sooner I get those done, they sooner they can go online, and the sooner I can start raking in the miniscule profit that I make on each one. I dare not figure out the time I spend to make each one, lest I realize that I’m paying myself $4.00 an hour. Annnnnnddddd, I’m going to pick up some more earring hooks today, and get back to having a category for earrings in my online shop. Possibly related: If anyone has a small light box they no longer need, or knows where I can get a well-priced unit, please contact me. Thanks!

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Filed under jewelry, the office

Thrift Store Finds: Vintage Dresses

I seem to have a knack for finding vintage dresses and handbags at thrift stores. For ridiculous prices. I mean, it’s easy to go into a specialty store like Boss Vintage and find a beautiful dress on the rack. In fact, one of the dresses below is exactly such a dress. You pay a price for that ease, though. (Note: Boss Vintage has very reasonable prices, and I love love love them in their new space, even if I do miss All American Vogue.)

Thrifting (new verb) for dresses takes a little more work. I love it. Well, I love going through the “bric-a-brac” area, because everything is there for you to see. The clothing is more of a drag. Rack upon rack of tightly packed shirts and skirts and sweaters and dresses. Even if you’re lucky enough to find a specialized “vintage” section, it’s usually populated with icky, meltable fabrics from the ’70s. Finally, you find a gem of a dress, but it was made for someone with a 24″ waist. On one occasion, I bought that dress anyway. It was simply too beautiful to leave behind. I knew I’d make a good amount of money selling it on eBay at the very least. After a couple of years, I finally listed it. End result? I got a whopping $30 for what was undeniably an amazing, mint-condition, vintage dress with great lines, rickrack trim, heart-shaped buttons, and the fullest skirt I have ever seen on a single dress. After my initial cost and the listing fee, plus the sadness of boxing it up and seeing it go, it wasn’t worth it. I remind myself of that every time I see a dress that isn’t right for me, but maybe I could… no. No no no, leave that to the experts.

Anyway, these are my newest additions. You can read their stories here.

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Filed under collections, fashion, shopping, vintage

Credit where credit is due

While catching up with Twitter on Sunday afternoon, I saw that wynk mentioned something about apple chips. I scrolled back through the updates, and couldn’t find the start of that thread. I went to her actual Twitter page, and realized that it WAS the start of her thread. Simply a random, “OMG! I DO have apples! I am totally making apple chips later” moment. So I hit her up for a recipe, while I researched on my own. Soon, I was down to business.

Oh. My. These are GOOD. I managed to pack them up before I ate them ALL.

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Filed under food