Friday, July 31, 2009

Lingering Over Summer's End

I'm still devouring pages, but don't have positive comments about many of the books I have read in July.
Precious, by Sandra Novack has earned high praise on Amazon. I enjoyed it, and added four evocative lines from Novack's prose to my quote collection. The prose was enchanting and the characters stuck with me for a few days, but I was somehow unsatisfied by the book without being able to articulate how or why.
The luxuries of summer, time, recreation, and plentiful sleep, are waning. This time of year my dreams turn to workplace scenarios, preparing me for the transition back to lengthy days of work.

There's also a sense of urgency about completing my list of summer projects. Our attic and basement will be re-insulated next week, and there's some yardwork, painting and other improvement tasks to be done as well. Bit by bit, we're making our little abode more energy efficient.
(photo taken in New Town, MO--a planned community, in the new urbanism trend)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Practiced professionals always make their work look simple.

Beginning photography class ended a few weeks ago and I'm halfway through the intermediate course. It's not an easy art to master, and I've encountered some difficulties along the way.
First of all, it's tough to find and make a great shot. I'm fine with taking hundreds of photos to end up with one or two keepers, and with the challenging experimentation involved in selecting appropriate F-stops and shutter speeds. What bothers me is knowing that every idea I have is a photography cliche.
For instance, today I took some pictures of an old, neglected graveyard. There was a path worn around the iron fence from all the other people who'd done what I was doing.
Another frustration involves the variables outside my control. Lately, the skies have been overcast. I just know I could take some great nature pictures if only the sky were a more interesting background: blue and clear, scattered clouds, or dark thunderheads. In the shot above, I decided to ignore the sky by switching to black and white.
What I have to remind myself is that, except in the case of double prints, no two pictures are exactly alike. With enough practice, I'll develop an individual perspective. Just like with writing.
While the instructional lecture portion of class is essential, I feel I learn the most from the critique portion. Hearing about and looking at successes and failures motivates me to get out there and lie in the dirt to find a good angle (see above).

The whole experience also calls to mind my freshman year on the tennis team. I had my mother's wooden racket from her college triumphs, and had to prove myself for a season before my parents would buy me a more current piece of equipment. The next year, I was half of an undefeated doubles team, and lettered each year.

Right now, I'm the only camera student limited by point and shoot equipment. I'm saving for a "real" camera, but for now I comfort myself with an anecdote told by the instructor.

Newlyweds invited their wedding photographer to dinner when he delivered their proofs.

"These pictures are amazing!" they gushed. "You must have a really expensive camera."

"This dinner is delicious; you must have some really expensive pots and pans," he quipped.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tempus Fugit

Time off certainly does fly. On the way home from our family vacation, we stopped by Winston's to pick up my Janome and Babylock machines. They're running beautifully after their cleaning and oiling session, and I've been sewing like a madwoman.
I've finished nine totes, and have at least 20 more in an assembly line, but I paused to create a counter space for my craft show booth.
I'll be using lightweight, portable plastic shelving to hide and store my supplies. The top will serve as a display area and counter top, behind which I can sit if the opportunity arises.
I made this sewn-to-fit table covering is made from a thrifted shower curtain. On my DIY scale, this scores a 1 for simplicity and a 9 for practicality.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fly on the Wall

Another E. Lockhart book. Very different from the first one I read, and a very cute story. I confess to skimming much of the inner monologue portions, but got the gist. Life-like, reality-driven characters and plot. As absurd as it sounds, the book really began to grip me when the fly transformation occurred. I read it this morning after sleeping in on vacation. Pick it up. It'll only take an hour or two to read, and it'll put a smile on your face.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trio of Totes

Today I made a set of totes and listed them in my Etsy shop. The fabric is a lightweight, white denim with a hint of stretch. The headlines running vertically and horizontally in green, gray, and black lettering encourage environmental responsibility.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


For extra income in the summers, I turn our trash to treasure on eBay, Craigslist, and local consignment shops.

Today, I spent a bit more than I've earned by re-saling all summer, yet I have no regrets.

I bought an EZ UP Encore II that is in mint condition for less than half the retail value. Since my craft items are not, say, ceramics, weather at craft festivals is a major concern. Now that I have a water resistant tent with optional walls, banner, and awning, I'm not nearly as concerned.

The white tent will be much lighter and brighter than my navy blue canopy.
Pair this mega-deal with the five grid-wall panels I purchased via Craigslist in June and my booth will be sleek this year!
In other news, do not read The Beach House, by Jane Green. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rock Steady

Here are six of the eight appliques I sewed yesterday. It's indescribably blissful to get a block of uninterupted sewing time!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

News and New Arrivals

I've been designing, tracing, cutting, and sewing appliques galore.

Strange Folk Festival has accepted me as a vendor again this year, and I'm really looking forward to spending the last weekend in September there. I hope the weather is as perfect as it was last year, when 10,000 people came to hear the music, shop, and watch demonstrations.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Nancy Pearl is the epitome of a librarian. Really! She even modeled for the librarian action figure! In addition to glamorizing the profession, Ms. Pearl reviews books for NPR, maintains a web site, and wrote Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason.

Naturally, I take her recommendations seriously, and I'm so glad she persuaded me to read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Bates, by E. Lockhart. What a fun read. It's about the adventurous feminist awakening of a smart, but otherwise typical, sophomore boarding school student.

In her acknowledgments, the author thanks John Green (about whom I've slobbered praise in the past) so is it any wonder I'm now planning to read all of Lockhart's books too? And her blog (which makes me so wish I'd gone to the ALA convention in Chicago)!

Some interesting bits of info copied from the author's bio page: (all credit to E. Lockhart:
--I used to cry after my fiction writing class in college, because the criticism was so harsh.
--The teacher of that class was so bored by my work he admitted to me he didn’t even read the final drafts of my stories.
--My advice to aspiring writers: read, read, read.
--I am difficult to recognize. Despite a large and unusual tattoo, people often forget they’ve met me, or tell me I look very different from the last time they saw me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A New Week Ahead

Before jumping in to a new week, here's a look at the past seven days.
I read The Wonder Spot, by Melissa Bank, author of the better known novel Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing. In spite of its format as interconnected short stories, I enjoyed the book. The prose gets to the heart of each character and situation in an utterly sublime manner.
Little guy and I strolled around Hannibal, Missouri on Thursday afternoon. Tourism there revolves around Mark Twain.

We hauled ourselves up many flights of stairs to reach this light tower on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi.
The views of the river reminded us how lucky we are to live just 12 miles from the big muddy.
Hannibal has several statues honoring Twain, his beloved characters, and river life.
G also had a friend over to play this week. Their watergun battle took them through the woods, across the yard, and back to the kiddy pool for refills.
Another adventure was a trek to Wakonda State Park, in Northeastern Missouri. We swam at the beach, rode bicycle laps around the campground, toasted marshmallows, and slept with a view of the stars. I chose a site directly across from the playground and a bathroom, so G could roam with a sense of independence though I could easily keep him in view.
Summertime means good times!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I spent today happily cleaning and sewing.
I've got 31 items of clothing finished, and about 45 more to create appliques for.

But that's the fun part!
See my Flickr page for a few more recent projects.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bad Rep.

Since I sew and I hang laundry to dry, I use an iron every day. As someone who values quality, I'm excited about the new iron that arrived today via UPS: a Rowenta Professional Series DX8900 with no auto shut-off.

My professional grade Rowenta ironing board has met it's mate at last!
Look out, interfacing! Beware, wrinkly, pre-washed prints! En Guard, applique pieces! Prepare to meet your steamy destiny.

Now, if you'll excuse me, a podcast and a stack of fabric are in need of my attention.