I can't wait to try


I don't buy too many craft books these days. Between our awesome local library system (hello, iPhone app), and the interwebs, there just isn't much in the craft books that I deem purchaseable. And maybe I've become a bit of a skinflint (well, not really). But even when my coworker, a pretty amazing person, released a pretty amazing book, I didn't even buy that. But I had some time to kill yesterday, and found myself at the bookstore in front of this book written by the drafter of super adorable patterns for wee ones. One of which was the hood that I adapted for Bear's Little Red Riding Hood costume last Halloween. And what's included in the book? A full-on sugar-and-spice sweet pattern for a red riding hood cape, tucked in among the most classic-cute designs I've ever seen. So, yeah, I bought it.


When we got home from lunch today and I saw that the mail had come, I lickety-splitted my creaky-kneed self (9 miles this morning, thank you very much) up to the front door to see if my long-awaited order from Photojojo had arrived. It had. Among the spoils was a wide angle/macro lens adapter that simply screws, like a filter, onto my existing lens. Macro! Basically, it's a custom-fitted magnifying glass, lo-tech stuff. But it was a fraction of the cost of a proper macro lens. So I've got no complaints. Now, I've got to wait for the sun to come out in earnest to play some more with this and the other goodies that it shipped with. I've also uploaded some more macro-tastic shots to the good ol' Flickr. In case you're interested.

Homecoming and other to-dos


Travel isn't really my bag. I admire those who, passport books stamp-full, rattle off their favorite destinations and boast an equally impressive list of places they will one day visit. Me, I like being home. It probably makes me a poor citizen of the world, having less of an understanding of different people and cultures than my more travelled friends. But I have an intense discomfort with being a tourist, being out of my element. It somehow just makes me feel like a transient in my own life, not quite fitting in even in the place I call home. Call it a self-consciousness, a hyper-sensitivity about race, or a quashing of any spirit of adventure that may have threatened to poke out its head in my development, or a lack of travel to places that didn't involve staying with relatives during that same period. Whatever. I'm just not comfortable when I'm not home.

So, while our recent trip to Vegas, our first vacation in ages, was a nice little departure from the routine of our days, I was happy enough to board a plane and head home. The problem is, for the past two years that we've been in Houston, homecomings have been a bittersweet affair. We arrive back at the doorstep to our rented home in the city that, for many reasons, we've never quite settled into, and turning the key just doesn't give me that warm fuzzy comfort that "home" should. 


Our solution? House-hunting in Seattle. Not the idle just-curious-what-the-housing-market-looks-like-right-now kind of house search. No. Honest-to-goodness financing-pre-approval, moving-pod-reservation-making house-hunting. We're coming home, aiming for an arrival date around July. Which leaves me a tad preoccupied in the meantime. Right now, things are still rather in limbo. Housing needs procurement. Travel needs arrangement. Belongings need sorting and packing away into many, many boxes. 

And yet I have time to browse through projects I'd like to one day, maybe, kind of get to, when I once again have spaces designated for things like craft detritus and plants I'll forget to water. 

The short list: 


Lightbulb terrarium so I can play a little with glass and metal and plantlife. Sweet.

Twig hooks and pins to better organize ideas, light rain jackets, projects, and everything else. Right.

Pocket mirror to feed my inner narcissist.

Fabric tape because the combination of tape and fabric is quite possibly pure magic.


Bloomers so my tooshie might be as cute as The Girlie's.

Bottle garden to give me an excuse to get glass cutting supplies.

Paper because it seems like a project suitably messy enough to entertain The Boy for a couple minutes.

Bird's nest helpers because, while the Seattle birds don't have all the flash and glam that these Southern ones strut around with, they deserve to live in fancy, technicolor homes. 

Odds and ends


After all the gift basket-making and bib-snapping and napkin hemming, I've been jonesing to make a little something for myself. And, after having sat through all the gift basket-making and bib-snapping and napkin hemming, my workhorse office chair was in dire need of repair. Making new cushion covers had been on my list for a while, but after the past few months of supporting my rear, they were little more than worn out pieces of foam draped in the standard Ikea tatters. Tatters embedded with stamp ink and bits of confetti and late-night chocolate and milk spit up while I was trying to squeeze in some work while nursing.  

I picked out a fabric in a nice, cool gray. And because (1) every cushion deserves a cute little trim, and (2) I have a genuine disdain for pre-packaged piping, all stiff and monotone and blah, I whipped up my own piping, using an old stash-bolstering fat quarter and chunky yarn left over from my years-ago first ever knitting project (a hat and scarf who have been retired to the attic until we again reside in a place where such things as woolen scarves and hats are necessary. Today, deep in the throes of January, Houston mercury is scheduled to hit 70°). Bulky as the yarn was to knit with, it makes for a buttery soft and pliable piping, easily turning those corners and yielding to my worn out machine needle.


Mr. New Media declared that the gray fabric was nice, but that the trim was too girly. Nothing wrong with that, I say. I've spent many years hiding under khakis and sweater vests and gender-neutral tees. I'm ready for some girly in my life. And if it's not pink, then I can handle it.


Speaking of girly, I've been wearing more dresses lately. The past year and a half of working from home, then too pregnant and unmotivated to wear anything flattering, I pretty much lived in jeans and ironically adorned tees. Entirely practical and weather-appropriate and rather dull. Now, I'm itching for a little more flair. There's some woman out there on the interwebs whose mission this year is to wear only things she has made herself. A laudable goal, but one entirely out of my skill level. I've never sewn anything I deem wearable. I've made several attempts. Nothing passes muster, and I resign myself to only sewing goods for the home for the next few months until the frustration fades away enough to try again. I've forgotten the angst now, and I'm thinking about digging into this pattern. I'm liking the shirt dress/tunic look, sometimes paired with jeans, sometimes with tights. I also like pockets, which this pattern does not have. I'll definitely need to tuck a couple into the seams. I've decided that all skirts and dresses should sport pockets. We'll see. I'm still mulling this one over, working up the nerve to cut into some fabric. Maybe some Japanese-y linen print.


I've been feeling a bit of guilt this week over not being moved to strong emotion or action over the tragedy in Haiti. Five years ago, hearing of the Indonesian tsunami, and fueled by pregnancy hormones, I remember being moved to tears in the car on the way to work. And even from Seattle, Hurricane Katrina's destruction in New Orleans left me shaken. I think it's that I'm not working in an office these days, not regularly with and around people other than my family, that makes it harder for me to emotionally connect to what's going on in the world. So what did I do? I bought something for myself.

Craft Hope for Haiti Shop Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time

The Craft Hope shop on Etsy has lots of lovely things for sale, with all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders in Haiti. Or you could, you know, just make a direct contribution.


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Long before I had ever heard of Sisyphus, or even seen that Red Bull commercial, I had the recurring dream in which I'm tasked with counting a valley-full of rocks and hauling them up a steep hillside. The stress in these dreams was palpable, and I'd wake still feeling the weight of the endeavor. I was nine.  I don't know what gives a kid that kind of anxiety, but I'm sure that had I been faced the sisyphean science of cartography it would have triggered a full-on panic attack. 

There is something so comforting, though, about these maps. I mean look at that quilt. Gorgeous. I'm a huge fan of juxtaposition. And I don't know if I've seen a better pairing of science and art than what these people have done with streets and boundaries and city blocks. So very cool. And I'm beginning to see the appeal. There's so much to be found in maps, their fractal outgrowths at once ordered and organic. They convey history and sociology and politics and, of course, a sense of place. And the idea of taking a map and making it my own now seems oddly comforting, a nice respite from a long day spent satisfying the unfocused energies of small children.

Note to self: definitely do something with maps. Something, perhaps, with thread and paper and fabric, and maybe Spoonflower. Or maybe just spend some more time with this song.