It was a busy weekend.

There ought to be a term for getting home on a Monday night, falling into bed at 5:30 p.m., going to sleep, missing your Monday-night accountability group, and almost sleeping right through bedtime on into morning if not for the phone call that made you get up and force yourself to stay awake until 10:30. I’m not saying this happened to me. I’m just saying there ought to be a term for it. Flakehaustion, maybe?

I directed a photo shoot for work on Saturday. It was a glorious day to do it, and we got some amazing photos, but man those days are hectic and tiring. On Sunday, I got together with some old and dear friends who were up visiting from San Diego. I love meeting up with people from my past life, the past life in which I was a high school student working at the local newspaper.

After brunch, I went home and sewed all day. Last week roommate Katrina and I went and picked out fabric to make some curtains for our bathroom.

Measure twice, cut once. (I love sewing tools like carpenter a loves his awl.)

Isn’t the fabric fun? These birds were telling me about their life experiences.

As I cut them.

These three are my favorite: “Hi. Hi. HI!”

They have co-dependency and anxiety issues but know how to throw a good party for anyone who stops by the branch. That teal apple? It makes great cider, if you know what I mean.

They told me all about it.

There’s nothing in the world like a good iron with lots of steam. It’s a must-have for sewing projects.

There’s nothing in the world like an ironing board about which one must apologize before opening and closing, because its scream resonates throughout the whole house.

I believe it has arthritis.

This is my great little machine. It’s nothing super fancy, but it’s a great beginner machine because it’s so easy to thread and use. As you can see, I have my direction book out. I ran into some bobbin issues, which I was quickly able to remedy with the help of the instruction booklet.

The curtains are finished and up. Last night on the phone, Mom asked, “Can I see a picture of them finished?”

I said, “After I clean the bathroom.”

The same goes for you, Internet. Finished project photos forthcoming.

Inspiration

April 8, 2008

Yesterday evening one of my favorite art bloggers, Emily Martin of The Black Apple, posted a link to a podcast of an interview on Craftsanity. The interview is a long one — over an hour and a half — but inspired me at this I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life period because Martin took something that she loved and made a successful business of it in just a few years. I listened to part of the podcast last night before going to bed, and while I enjoyed hearing about the process of her business, I was struck by how similar her experience living in Brooklyn for a few months was like my recent experience moving to L.A. Martin says that when she moved to Brooklyn, people never asked her what she was doing in Brooklyn — the moving to Brooklyn in and of itself was the large accomplishment. I’m not patting myself on the back here in saying that moving to L.A. was some gigantic feat. It’s just that what Martin said about it resonated with me. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that anyone besides my mother asked what I DO at my job. A year ago when people would ask my parents what I was doing, my parents would have to tell them that I was working at a church in Arkansas. Now they can just say, “She moved to L.A.,” and that is interesting enough. Perhaps it is such a huge accomplishment because of the sacrifices one must make to live in cities like New York or L.A. or Chicago or San Francisco. The cost of living is so high, the traffic is so crazy, parking gives you ulcers… I paid $400 a month back in Arkansas for my huge one-bedroom apartment with two walk in closets and abundant parking. Now I live with two other people and pay… well, that’s my secret. It’s shameful for a mid-western girl to admit how much she pays for rent in L.A. I’m doing all right though. Working at a church for a year back in Arkansas and getting paid on the non-profit organization level taught me a lot about what my mom likes to call, “living on a shoe string.” Plus I’m not too far removed from the student stage of my life when having $60 in my checking account was a solace.

So, what do I DO here? And more importantly, is this job contributing to the big scheme of my life? Well, I work at an organic juice company in Santa Monica, as I’ve stated before. It’s a small start-up company, but it’s quite successful, and the products are high-quality and sold nationwide. The company has grown 50% in sales since last year. It feels weird for me to be talking about all this because business never really interested me until I took this job. My official title at said job is Administrative Assistant, but I mostly assist on the financial side of things. This is a new realm for me, and even though the thought of entering numbers and searching for missing pennies and balancing accounts once sounded like prison to me, I have to admit that I sort of like it. My last job was almost entirely creative, and while I loved it, my creative energy was completely sapped at the end of the day. It’s kind of nice to have a job that is one giant formula, so all I have to do is plug the numbers in.

And the real reason I am kind of liking my job is because I’m learning a bunch of things about running a small business. Now, I’ve only worked there a few months, but I did grow up in a small business as well, so I’m catching onto things pretty quickly. And even though this job isn’t the answer to my quarter life crisis, at least it seems to be leading somewhere. Which brings me to another somewhere:

Today I signed up for a beginner and intermediate sewing class. It’s an adult evening class at a nearby elementary school. It starts April 21 and will continue for 5 Mondays, 6:30-9:30 p.m. I know how to sew already at a rudimentary level, but my skills need some refinement.

And this class, small as it may be, fills me with excitement. Maybe I’m not doing exactly what I want to be doing right now, but in some ways I believe this class may be the beginning of something very fulfilling.

Emily Martin’s podcast

Handmade Christmas Sneak Peak

December 20, 2007

So, I totally had another closeup shot of a different gift I made to give away, but I accidently deleted it off my camera before I had a chance to put it on the computer. Why didn’t I just take another? Because I got overly eager and already wrapped the gift. Oh well. I’ll take another picture after the recipient opens it.

So, this is all I’ve got for you:

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I’m super excited about the gifts I’m making. It’s been a great past few days just being creative. I leave for California in six days!

When I began this series, I wrote down a number of points in my journal that might be good to cover. For the most part, this will be the last entry of the series, but I might come back to it every once-in-a-while when I learn something new or if anyone has a topic for discussion that they would like to share. I do have a few more things to add, however, and most of them are practical things.

1.) Never underestimate the U.S. Postal Service

USE THE MAIL. There is nothing like receiving a good old-fashioned letter from the sweet dumpling in your life, or even a care package. As many of you know, I’m really into fashion (I write a fashion column on finding discount fashion at ZIA), and I really like dressing people. I especially like dressing guys. I try to stay away from getting clothes for D because he has two sophisticated sisters who have taught him well. Plus, he’s just got good taste. But I have sent him a few surprise articles of clothing: an excellent shirt that I bought at the GAP when I worked there and had my tremendous employee discount, and a red and grey scarf that I crocheted:

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D is excellent about sending me mix CDs. In fact, one of the ways that we got to know each other so well over the phone in the beginning is because he sent me a bunch of mix CDs with playlists like…

“To Be Young” by Ryan Adams
“Sugar Magnolia” by The Grateful Dead
“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
“Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan
“Ocean Breaths Salty” by Modest Mouse
“Novocaine For the Soul” by The Eels
“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” by Wilco
“Thank You For Sending Me” by the Talking Heads
“Baby Blue” by Gene Vincent
“Down By the River” by Neal Young
“I Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You” by Tom Waits
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman
“Visions of Johanna” by Bob Dylan
“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

They were excellent. I reciprocated by sending him some of my favorite music, and we had a good time discussing what we like and dislike, etc.

We also tried something that kind of flopped, but it might work for other people. D had the idea that we should send each other brief homework lists once a month with a book to read, music to listen to, and movies to see. We each sent one another one homework list, but neither of us ever completed them. I am still chipping away at Crime and Punishment, and D still has not sent me those Seventeen Magazine-style, heartthrob photographs of himself that I requested. I guess we can tell which of us is the one with depth in this relationship.

Speaking of photographs, digital cameras make it a lot easier to share photographs of events family, or yourself. D loves it when I send him pictures, even if they’re just my outtake photos from masthead pictures for this website. I also send him pictures of stuff I’m doing because he lives so far away and often can’t be there.

D and I have also sent one another books and DVDs for borrowing so we can read or watch them and then discuss. Also, we both listened to his copy of the audio book of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. That gave us a lot to talk about.

2.) Use email extensively because it’s free!!!

D and I email each other articles, notes, messages on Facebook, links to short stories and poetry, and basically anything that interests us. It’s a great way to touch base on a daily or weekly basis. Also, Facebook now has applications where you can engage in a little bit of healthy internet competition with your significant other and friends. D and I often play Scrabble with each other over the internet. Nothing beats playing a game with him in person, but Scrabble on the internet is just one of the little things we can do to keep in touch and have fun together without having to talk on the phone all the time.

3.) And lastly….

When you’re in a long-distance relationship, it’s easy to get in the rut of being extremely gushy and relationship-y when you’re on the phone. You know what I’m talking about… those people who get all mushy every time they talk to each other. People in close-distance relationships do the same thing, but because they have to spend time with other people on a regular basis, it doesn’t have the chance of happening as often. I’ve learned, however, that at least for me, it’s better if I don’t say, “I miss you,” unless I really mean it. If I say it constantly, it diminishes in value. I want it to surprise D and make him feel good. I don’t want it to become a routine.

In a long-distance relationship, it’s also really important to make an effort to be vocally affirming. People who live close to one another don’t have to be quite as intentional because they can hug and kiss each other at least once-a-week. D and I don’t have that privilege. If I want to tell him that I like him, I have to tell him. I have to say things like, “You’re my Little Cracker, and I’m your lady, and you’ve got some seriously symmetrical elbows there.” Or whatever works.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I’m not saying that I know all the answers or anything, but I know several people who read this blog are in or have been in long-distance relationships and could also provide some advice.

Thanks so much for reading this series! I’ve enjoyed writing it and enjoyed your comments.

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On Saturday, friend MS and I went thrift store shopping in Mankato. I wasn’t feeling too well — coming down with a cold that has had me lying down for the past day — but MS said he wouldn’t go if I didn’t, so I took some medication and decided to tough it out. My trooper tendencies were profitable indeed. I couldn’t buy a whole lot because 1.) I am moving and can only take what fits in my car and 2.) I am saving money for that big moving trip. But I did buy a few nice things:

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This lovely sweater is brand new and reminded me of a cheaper something I might find at Anthropologie. Obviously cheaper because it was only $3, but also because it doesn’t quite have the unique, one-of-a-kind look that Anthropologie’s stuff has. So, I decided to add a little class to it:

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I bought a bag full of vintage buttons off of Ebay a few years ago for $2, and they have served me well in embellishing many-a garment. They did not disappoint me this time either.

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I’d also like your opinion on the color of the sweater. I’m considering tea staining it to give it more of a muted color. I’m just not sure if the pale pink will work with my already pale skin tone. What do y’all think? Tea stain or no?

I also found this lovely Marilyn Monroe-style dress that was quite the jackpot.

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It’s bright red velvet and so lush — the photograph doesn’t do it justice. And even though it was probably originally sold in the late ’60s, it still has its tags:

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I have some altering to do on it. First of all, it is floor-length, a length which drowns short people like me. So I am going to cut it off at the knee. Also, when I was first looking it over to see if it was a good purchase (it was $15 — a little pricey for thrift stores, but if I had bought this in a vintage clothing store rather than at the Salvation Army, it would’ve been more like $40-$50, at least in Minneapolis), I found this horrendous add-on:

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It’s a mangled little bow on the ties. Last night I removed the bow with a seam ripper while lying in my sick bed, watching Project Runway. The bow was badly, badly made, as were the eye hooks that someone sewed on. I doubt the dress was made with these eye-sores. The eye hooks bunched up the fabric. So, I removed all that, and because I don’t feel comfortable wearing a halter dress if it’s just tied on, I’m going to add yet another vintage button. I’ll show off the finished product when it’s done.

I also bought a furry hat for while I’m here in Minnesota, but I’m thinking I might use it for a new masthead photograph, so I’ll save it for a later date. It’s super cute and oh-so Girl From the North Country.

Loves Fashion, Loves to Sew

October 24, 2007

Here is the object that has been occupying the majority of my time for the past few days:

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This is my 1960’s New Home sewing machine, which I bought at the Arkansas Coalition for the Blind Thrift Store last spring. It was on sale for $15 and after a little tune-up, works like a dream. I am using it to create this:

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This is the dress I am wearing this weekend for my cousin S’s wedding. I am not sure how it compares to the rest of the bridesmaids’ dresses because other people are making all of those, but I followed the pattern as closely as possible. Either way, I think it’s lovely, and I will definitely wear this dress after S’s wedding.

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The fabric is silk. I’ve never worked with such lovely fabric or with such an intricate pattern. Usually I stick to straight lines, but this one was kind of fun, though frustrating at times. I tend to get ahead of myself when I’m working with patterns. Then I make mistakes. If I were sewing anything else, I probably would have just incorporated the mistakes into the dress and made them work, but since this one has to be uniform, I had a lot of seam ripping going on. Now that I am almost finished, I am getting really excited about how it turned out. It’s cocktail length too — props to S for doing something different, inexpensive, and absolutely LOVELY for her bridesmaids. This is going to be the favorite of any bridesmaid dress I’ve ever worn. That might also be because I’ve put so much work into it. But there definitely is a sense of accomplishment in making your own clothes, and I’m getting excited about having some time to sew after the wedding and before I start work. Hoorah for vacations!