Friday, February 27, 2009

StL Handmade

Please check out StL Handmade's profile of yours truly. Site-mistress Tammy Tutterow showcases regional artisans a few times per week and I'm flattered to have been included. Tutterow is so organized that she schedules profiles months in advance. (At Christmastime I was asked to fill out the questionairre and submit photos for this spot on the calendar.) It's impressive to see how many talented craftspeople are in our area.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Last Night at the Lobster

Isn't this a great book?
Yes, it is an excellent piece of realism. Yes, the characters and setting are fully realized. Yes, I still think O'Nan is a strong, meticulous writer. Yes, I'll read more of his books.
No, I didn't enjoy this one. I wanted more to happen.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I listed four items in my Etsy shop today, against recommended behavior. I used to be good about creating, then saving listings and spacing them throughout the calendar. Now it's pretty rare that I list new items at all.

Instead of hoarding my newer items for indefinite craft shows, I've begun to list them. There's much photography to be done, so this will take a while. If you take a look, just multiply the general idea times 40 shirts for men and women. I also have at least ten appliqued jackets that I need to photograph and list.

I still hold firm that shoppers enjoy a tactile experience and spend more freely when they can touch and try on items, but juries for craft festivals peruse the shops, so the wider variety of items and price points they see me offer, the better my chances.

The idea of trying-on brings to mind my recent thrift/antique store quest. I've been trying to scrounge up a tall folding screen or a circular shower curtain loop in order to establish a private changing nook in future booths. There have been a few near-misses on Craigslist, but no affordable jackpot so far.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It Really Had a Hold on Me

Today I read Songs for the Missing. Stewart O'Nan's style drew me in. The setting and lives I read about were clearly (but not overly) described. I like his efficient depictions of emotion, and the way his narratives include perspectives from each significant character. Especially impressive were a few carefully composed choppy chapters, each mini paragraph a separate tale with a powerful and meaningful summative effect.

The story has been meticulously researched and has an authentic feel. Though I remained captivated to the end, the final quarter was disappointing. (No spoilers--I'm not here to summarize the book.)

In case this does not sound like an edorsement, I should add that upon finishing, I immediately went to the library for more books by this author. I wonder if he always titles every chapter.

His bio is intriguing as well. He quit engineering at 28 to become a writer, earned a Cornell MFA and has published 11 books in about ten years.

Friday, February 20, 2009

An Author to Count On

Marisa de los Santos is a fresh, smart writer who captures my full attention. From characterization to plotline, you'll swear these stories are true--or at least wish they were.

I was skeptical about this first one for two reasons. First, it was on the bargain shelf. Second, I don't share the narrator's obsession with certain silver screen stars. Before long, though, I was hooked.

It was thrilling to see some of the same characters in this book as in the first. I rarely re-read books, but this one is going to join that group of titles I rely on to escape fully from my life, then return refreshed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chick Lit Let Down

I generally avoid anything in the category of chick lit, but since I enjoyed Love the One You're With, I gave the author another try. Unfortunately, this book never struck a chord with me.

At first I thought the plot must be trying to appeal to readers as a revenge fantasy of sorts, in which karma delivers a well-deserved ass-kicking to the it-girl user who has always gotten her way.

Not so.

Instead, the supposed transformative powers of motherhood kick in and a decent human being blooms from the toxic roots of shallow, callow, and selfish behavior.

I enjoy a happy ending, but in this case I wish the characters had all reaped what they sowed.

I suppose I should read book one to learn about the more interesting characters. I'm just not sure I want to.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Birthday Celebration

Each year, my son's birthday falls on or near the Presidents' Day weekend. It's nice to have the extra time to prepare for and recover from the celebration.

This year, I made a simple garland of flags from some Thomas fabric. I cut multiple layers at once with my pinking shears, so the edges had an instantly a weathered look.

His cake was chocolate with buttercream frosting. (I love recipezaar!) I wanted to make a peanut butter frosting, but bowed to the current salmonella concern.

Two two hour parties occupied our Sunday. Tomorrow, we'll play with the new toys and games, and take the new training wheels out for a spin.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let's Talk Books

A Trick of Nature

This book is a disappointment. If I had any other library books left, I might not have finished it. This isn't meant to be harsh, but a comment on the inherent challenge of writing about emotionally torn and socially isolated characters.

Certain moments are spot-on with accurate emotional detail and realistic action (like Patty's sudden claustrophobic reaction to motherhood and marriage juxtaposed with her blissful taste of false independence). Too many other scenes are unnatural, forced, or vague (like Greg's teaching career).

Still, Matson is skilled at the craft and the characters each find their own path to or from disillusionment and depression. I also admire her ability to make lifelike and seemingly minor details (like a set of sheets) carry a lot of weight in the overall plot.

So genuine are the characters and events that this book generated tears without making me feel as though I'd been manipulated.

The character I most identify with is the one who dies, which makes for a strange reading experience. The novel feeds into every parent's fear of dying before a child is at an age of independence, and of course, the grieving characters' choices will manifest parental and spousal disappointment for any reader. In spite of this, we must concede that the decisions made are perfectly understandable under the circumstances, and therefore all the more realistic.

Friday, February 6, 2009

More Shirts!

It's so fun to make these shirts! It's a bit stressful to know that a screw up while cutting out the design shape could cost me a whole shirt, but the range of possibilities makes me giddy. The potential color, design, and print combinations are creatively intoxicating.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mother Earth Shirt

This is my latest reverse applique tee-shirt design. I've finished a half dozen shirts now, and have about 35 more blank canvases to sew whenever I can find the time!