Saturday, March 31, 2007

More Score!

OK, so it doesn't really count as "found" if you pay for it, but what if you pay just a teeny, little bit for it? Today I had what I would call a really good estate sale/garage sale day. At the first stop, a sort of clearance sale for a lass moving to Cali, I quickly spotted this sweet ass enamel owl
charm on a chain.

Now, this thing is so cute, anything else I find today is gravy as far as I'm concerned. Picking further through the jewelry box, I came up with several other chain necklaces that I can either re-use as is or recycle the chain into totally new jewelry pieces. So exciting! Oooh, find the cute enamel strawberry in the photo, too.

After poking around in the backyard, we ventured into the basement where I found the lovely vintage silk necktie and the very, very exciting metal desk lamp! It's not working yet, but that could be just burnt out flourescent bulbs. Total cost at this sale: $3.00! (Probably could have been less but I offered another buck for three extra chains I dug out on our way out.)

At the next stop, an estate sale in a much less damp house (though the new paint smell tied with the mildew at the last house as equally icky), I got the full length red and blue robe made of a really cool double-faced thick cotton. It will become Cat's Amazing Technicolor Weirdocoat next fall (or the next cool day this spring). In addition, I got the vintage wood-handled bottle opener, the fluted pastry cutter with cool 70s plastic handle, a small strainer and an old corkscrew thingy, plus a beaker style measuring cup with measuring lines for cocoa and rice and oats, among other things. The nice lady running the sale threw in the two plastic birds. Total cost: $2.25!

Tomorrow, an artist's moving sale!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Whine and Neuroses

I wish I had made up that title, and as far as I consciously remember, I did. But a Google search tells me it's not new. Sigh. Is anything new? Can you truly create anything not done, in some very similar way, before?

A couple days after the craft event and I'm experiencing my usual after-show crisis of faith that I have any idea what I'm doing with this crafty business. Why don't more people buy more of my things? Why can't *I* get people to crowd around my booth? Is my stuff junk? Is it ugly? Too expensive? Not expensive enough (and thus lacking cache)? Why hers and not mine? Why that and not this? Am I alone in my [sometimes] unrelenting insecurity and unconfidence? Even when I have real success at a show, I still have nagging feelings of self-doubt.

So, the question is, how does one get past the need for outside validation and just, well, do it? And since I'm embarking on a commercial venture, isn't outside validation the culmination? Don't I, indeed, *need* that validation in more than an emotional way? Have I chosen a path that will constantly challenge my notions of self-worth? Will I ever be sanguine about the process and be able to just enjoy what happens? I'd like to think that optimism is my overarching state of mind, but when I'm down kind of low, like now, it's hard to muster up that hopefulness.

Do lots of artists feel this way? Surely I'm not alone.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Beef, It's What's For Dinner

Yesterday I decided that I would cook a chuck roast on the grill. Crazy? Perhaps. But it turned out pretty nicely. Had it not still been slightly frozen in the middle, it would have cooked perfectly. As it is, it was quite rare in the middle, but we didn't eat that part yet anyway. With the obligatory asparagus in the grill wok and potatoes and onions in their foil pouch, it was a nice dinner with a bottle of sauvignon blanc (yeah, yeah, so sue us -- we were out of red). Tonight I will use some of the rare beef to top a salad made of field greens, homemade croutons (thanks to that artisan loaf...) a tomato, and a balsamic vinaigrette, this time with a bottle of shiraz (we stocked up today).

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Score! Albeit Smallish

I finally found something worth bringing home from our dog walk today! A perfectly sturdy little black metal, three-shelved number with tasteful scroll-y sides. It is rusty and needs repainting but it will make a nice addition to ye olde crafte boothe this summer.

Friday, March 23, 2007


So, the last couple of weeks have been kind of frantic as I've been getting ready for Chili Craft on Saturday. I sat on my ass doing nothing from about mid-December until a couple of weeks ago, not really feeling the crafting spirit, nor thinking of anything new to do. Anyway, I guess I've alerted the appropriate parts of my brain and I seem to be functioning better now. Everything is all packed up and waiting by the front door, but here's a photo of all the jewelry and small accessories, waiting to be packed up.

I'm in love with felt again (my affection had waned lately) so last night I decided to make up a batch of what I'll call mini-clutches embellished with my oil pastel and embroidery patches. They're really soft to touch, but fairly solid as they are made of two layers of felt. So, the zipper pouch failed me (damn you, zipper pouches!), but these make me happy.

Mock, Yeah, Ing, Yeah, Bird, Yeah. Yeah, Yeah.

The loveliest mockingbird took up residence in the big tree-bush right outside our front window sometime late last fall. I'm pretty sure there is a nest, but I don't want to poke around for fear of frightening him. Throughout the winter he was relatively silent, much to my dismay. He must be quite young, as he's still rather small, but he is so beautiful -- that gorgeous taupe body and those striking and surprising white and black stripes on the wings. Since there is at least one cat (sometimes two) hanging around our front porch a couple times a day, I kept expecting the bird to move on; I'm so happy he hasn't. In the last few weeks, he has begun to really sing and it's been so sweet. Perhaps the cutest thing is that he and Pippin (our parakeet) have begun to communicate. The mockingbird has begun imitating Pippin's calls so they go back and forth. Pippin gets very excited about it and as far as I can tell, the mockingbird seems to enjoy himself as well. It's very, very cute. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an entire family of mockingbirds soon! I attempted to take some photos today, but he's very shy when I have the camera in my hands.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Chili Craft!!! Saturday, March 24th

Everthing, All Together

I've been so busy preparing for my first craft/art show of the season (Chilicraft -- hope to have the flyer posted soon), I haven't had time to get anything posted up here. I have now made my third loaf of the magical artisan bread, this time with walnuts and dried cranberries. It's still cooling, so I don't know how it turned out. It looks good...It turns out that my brother got the recipe from the Oregonian in Portland, which in turn was inspired by a Mark Bittman article in the New York Times last fall. The actual going nomenclature for this bread is "no-knead" and that is entirely true except for one moment of work which doesn't even really count as kneading. As I said before, this bread has the teensiest amount of work for the biggest flavor/texture/visual appeal. For the loaf below I experimented with using only half bread flour and half regular stuff.

For the next one, I'm going to go all regular flour (and add kalamata olives!), just to see what happens. Anyway, when I was a kid I started making challah for the big holidays and it was an impressive looking loaf of bread, all braided and shiny with it's egg wash baked on. It tasted good too, but it was a LOT of work, what with all the kneading and raising and kneading and raising and braiding and coating, blah blah blah. Plus is has a relatively large ingredient list. More recently I've made many loaves of a King Arthur Flour recipe for a whole wheat bread made with either honey or molasses. It's delicious, great for dense little sandwiches and good on its own. But man, it just doesn't have the eye appeal of this no-knead stuff. Really, if you have the teensiest inclination to bake bread, bake *this* bread.

OK, moving on. Cool objects are continuing to avoid me on my daily walks. I just don't understand. The night before Big Trash Day this week I was heartbroken that I couldn't take home the tall, narrow, metal free-standing cabinet and the two-tiered metal rolly cart waiting in the alley, but Steve frowned at my whining. Here's the best small thing I found all week, and that's not saying much. Yes, a Juwanna Mann DVD. Not even that scratched up. I threw it away soon after photographing it though.

I neglected to photograph the grilled chicken, asparagus (we eat a lot of asparagus in the spring and summer) and potatoes we had for dinner last night, but I did manage to take a photo of the leftovers of a chunky tomato fish chowder we had the other night. I had it for lunch yesterday and I wish I had some more today.
And just for good measure, how about a picture of a tiny wool bunny I needlefelted a few months ago?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Staff of Life

My brother Bobby sent me a recipe for artisan bread that was completely uncomplicated regarding ingredients, but did take almost 24 hours from start to end of baking. It's a gorgeous loaf of bread -- see for yourself! I haven't tasted it yet, but I'm sure it's going to be lovely and crusty. Here's the recipe, verbatim from Bobby. My added comments are in []:

3 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast [yes, that is *just* 1/4 teaspoon]
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbls tepid water

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add water and stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours but preferrably 18 hours [mine took even a bit longer than that], at warm room temperature. Mine did fine at a lower temp, about 64 that we keep our house. Dough is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface; sprinkle dough with a little more flour, and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surfaces or your fingers; gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously dust a cotton (not terry) kitchen towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. I used flour and it stuck to the towel but I peeled it off with no ill effects. [I used cornmeal with no sticking whatsoever.] Put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour. Cover with another towel and let rise for 2 to 3 hours. Dough should about double in size. [Mine didn't seem exactly double, but I didn't think it would go any further at that point.] At least 30 minutes before dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put a heavy covered pot (cast iron,enamel, pyrex or ceramic -- 4 to 8 qrts) in oven as it heats. I used an enamel pot, Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot [me too]. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn dough over into the pot, seam side up. It may look like a mess, but thats ok. [Mine wasn't messy at all -- the dough had kind of gotten a 'skin' all over it.] Shake pan once or twice if dough is distributed unevenly. It will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is nicely browned. [I baked covered for about 26 minutes and then just maybe 5 minutes uncovered as it was already pretty brown.] Cool on rack. Don't eat until cooled, at least the first loaf. [I assume this is to get the full effect of the crust...]

Thanks, Bobby! I can't wait to eat it!

UPDATE: It's perfect! So good!

I Heart U

After becoming so frustrated trying to make zippered pouches (to the point of screaming "fraaaaaaak" and stomping around for a bit -- luckily I was alone) and wasting too many hours to admit , I resorted to trying something at which I thought I might be more successful. (The two zippered pouches I ended up with are not of, shall we say, quality.) So I tried this technique called 'slash-cut' to make these heart things (patches? appliques?). You layer material, then sew lots of channels, then cut through the layers, leaving one on the bottom. The original purpose of this method was to make a sort of chenille-like fabric. Mine didn't really end up like that, but that wasn't my intention anyway. I used felt, so I didn't expect them to get all fluffy and soft. I want to make more but there will not be any more cutting until my specialized slash cutter arrives in the mail next week. After cutting these five things for a few hours (it takes way longer than you might think), my fingers were aching from the metal handles of the tiny scissors I was using and I had big red dents. And today my right hand has had sudden spurts of ache like nobody's business.Anyway, now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with them. I'm thinking I will put them on the front of handbags. You can't really see the full effect from the picture -- there are three layers of colors on each one. And why hearts? I dunno except that I've always doodled hearts and I really like the imagery. (So does Jim Dine.) Plus it was a simple design to start with.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Secret Envelopes?

Today I finished a batch of pendant necklaces. They are basically tiny leather satchels that each have a variety of beads dangling from the front flap. To prepare the leather I painted on it and added a shimmery finish. I hand-sewed the sides with either matching or contrasting thread and the whole things are hung on a crocheted cord made of black waxed linen. They were fun to make and I'm thinking they could be used to conceal a love note, or a special picture or any kind of small secret.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Introducing Crabby Appleton

Well, it took me several hours, but I managed to finish ten new eyeglass cases today. I'm particularly happy with my anthropomorphic apple fella.


What with the lovely weather we're having (in the 70s yesterday and today) and the early springing of the clock, it was a natural thing to bbq yesterday. When cooking out, my goal is to make pretty much everything on the grill, not involving any indoor pots and pans if possible. So yesterday we had pork sirloin chops, sweet potatoes cooked in a tin packet and fresh asparagus tossed in the grill wok. And a lemonade bundt cake for dessert. (Baked in the boring old house oven.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What's For Dinner

We bought some frozen tilapia at Target yesterday and decided to have it for dinner last night. The price seemed reasonable, but upon tasting it, I'm pretty sure it was catfish masquerading as tilapia, complete with that muddy, bottom-feeder taste. Which is fine if you're eating (and paying for) catfish, but not really what I want in tilapia, known, basically, for being the somewhat tasteless blank slate of fish. Anyway, I marinated it in orange juice, olive oil, garlic and a hot spice mix and grilled it indoors along with a little chorizo. I made my own version of Rice-o-Roni and we had our new favorite salad alongside. We go on salad kicks and our latest is one made of baby spring greens and spinach, toasted sesame seeds and almonds, and mandarin oranges tossed with a citrus vinaigrette that I make from the juice in the oranges, rice vinegar, OJ, canola oil, honey and a touch of mustard. Yum.

Who's Crying Now?

Wouldn't you know it that the very act of
*looking* for interesting junk on the street has made said junk no more. I mean, I understand that the search has changed the whole notion of an accidentally found object, but hell, there's a whole damn magazine about this sort of thing. Maybe I need to widen my search area. The pacifier is the only thing I found worth picking up. I hesitated before snatching some kid's beloved binky but I realized that surely no one would come back for it and actually use it again, right? It's been sitting on the sidewalk, fer crissakes.

In addition to the binky, I saw several balls of varying sorts. Then I spotted an excellent wooden desk and some Adirondack-style furniture that just needs some painting to fix 'em right up. I really want the desk for myself -- it's small-ish, probably from the late '50s or early '60s with lots of drawers on either side. It needs painting or refinishing but it would be good as new after, I'm sure. It's damn heavy, though, and I don't know how I could get it home. The price I have paid for trading in my ginormous minivan for a sporty little 2-door.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

You Never Know Who You Might Meet on Etsy

The other day I ordered a cool little crow rubber stamp from an Etsy shop. It turns out that the proprietor of this shop is Cindy Wills, the youngest daughter of musician Bob Wills.

Check out Bob Wills here.

You can find Cindy's store here.

Lost and Found?

On our frequent dog walks throughout our neighborhood, I prefer traveling via alley for a few reasons. Foxy Brown enjoys her communion with other dogs (as do I), backyards reveal more about the inhabitants of a house, and you can find cool stuff and weird junk in alleys. Having said that, I must also point out that the front yard of our house has somehow become a sort of halfway house depot for trash. I will walk out in the morning and find various food wrappers, newspaper pages and what have you, but nothing in front of any other house nearby. Why is that? Anyway, I thought I'd document the more interesting of these findings. I'm sad to say that I threw away a clear plastic pouch containing an oxygen tank tubing apparatus and on the same day I neglected to pick up a home made CD labeled "Aaliyah RIP 2001." but here's a piece of detritus that washed up on the shore of our front stoop. There's a Catholic church and a convent of sorts at the end of our block; I suppose this piece originated down there.

Today on our dog walk (in incredibly lovely weather -- spring is coming!) I found an old Royal typewriter suitcase, alas without the typewriter. Still, it's sturdy and from a good era of industrial design, so I had to bring it home.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Finally got something done from start to finish

It took several hours and a backache, but I managed to make six handbags yesterday. Actually it was a two-day process as I did the appliques on Tuesday, then the decorative stitching over the appliques and the actual purse construction yesterday. Two of them even have leather handles! Thanks to the kindness, thoughfulness, and recyling nature of my friend Gina, I have piles and piles of gorgeous (and high quality!) interior decorating fabric samples, most of which are just the perfect size to make a cute little handbag. All the appliques on the bags shown here are constructed from vintage clothing I've rescued and put to new use.

At any rate, it's a start on getting things made for the Chilicraft show ( see Stuff and (Non) Sense for a link). There's also a strong possibility I'll be sharing a booth with Allison (mastermind of Chilicraft, by the way and proprietor of Squaresville - again, see the links over thurrrr) at this year's Earth Day event in Forest Park. What this all means is I have to get off my ass and get some shit done.

Playlist for Emotional Rescue 3-8-07

I have a radio show on KDHX FM88.1 St. Louis, MO ( This is my playlist for Emotional Rescue on March 08, 2007

elvis costello - when i was cruel no. 2 - when i was cruel - island

elvis costello - the judgement - the delivery man - lost highway

elvis costello - all this useless beauty - all this useless beauty - rhino/wea
-------- - -------- - -------- - --------
the shins - red rabbits - wincing the night away - sub pop*

the good, the bad & the queen - kingdom of doom - the good, the bad & the queen - virgin*

calexico - love will tear us apart - sweetheart - hear music

* - new release + = request
-------- - -------- - -------- - --------
neko case - this little light - the tigers have spoken - anti

new pornographers - the new face of zero and one - electric version - matador

new pornographers - the bleeding heart show - twin cinema - matador
-------- - -------- - -------- - --------
andrew bird - heretics - armchair apocrypha - fat possum*

bloc party - on - a weekend in the city - vice music*

minibar - holiday from myself - road movies - universal
-------- - -------- - -------- - --------
modest mouse - dashboard - we were dead before the ship even sank - sony*
[ album out on march 20. ]

nick lowe - all men are liars - the doings - demon records

no doubt - spiderwebs - the singles - interscope
-------- - -------- - -------- - --------
apples in stereo - energy - new magnetic wonder - yep roc*

arcade fire - intervention - neon bible - merge*

of montreal - bunny ain't no kind of rider - hissing fauna, are you the destroyer? - polyvinyl record co.*
-------- - -------- - -------- - --------
the phonocaptors - detroit riot - - +

the posies - golden blunders - dear 23 - geffen

the redwalls - balinese (deep in the heart) - universal blues - undertow
-------- - -------- - -------- - --------
broken west - big city - i can't go on, i'll go on - merge*

sloan - everybody wants you - never hear the end of it - yep roc*
-------- - -------- - -------- - --------
snow patrol - hands open - eyes open - a&m

soft boys - i wanna destroy you - underwater moonlight - rykodisc

'* = new release + = request'

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

And Let Me Introduce to You...

...our pets. Such a blog cliche, but who can help posting photos of their adorable animals?

At the left we have Lydia, our 11 year old tortie who likes to pee, well, everywhere. Still, she's so sweet otherwise that we overlook it, to the detriment of our house.

And this lovely pile of fur is Olive, 10 years old and still an enigma to us. As sweet as she can be, I'm somewhat afraid of her. You don't want to be on her bad side.

Our sibling cats, Spidermonkey and Mr. Baby. Mr. Baby is perhaps, the perfect cat. He lets me hold him like a baby, he's funny, he's sweet and as you can see, he's pretty gorgeous. Spidermonkey is an odd little duck, alternately silly and super serious.

And here is Foxy Brown, whom we found as a puppy in our neighborhood and never claimed by anyone. Look at that face. How could we *not* keep her?

Here we have Brother Cat. He's not really our pet, but I've fed him outside for several years and he is pretty definitely the sibling (hence the name) of Spidermonkey and Mr. Baby.

And this is Pippin our sweet little green parakeet. He has a repetoire of cute sounds, most recently a sort of penguin squawk. I think it's from hearing Jon Stewart do Dick Cheney on the Daily Show.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Today we ponder the craziness of a certain plot point on Battlestar Galactica. Kara Thrace ("Starbuck") was apparently killed in her viper whilst in a sort of religious hallucination state. What the frak? I was happy to see Dorothy Lyman's name come up in the credits; I just knew she'd be playing Kara's mom in flashbacks. I loved Dorothy back in the day when she played trailer trash Opal on "All My Children" and heck, I'll even confess to enjoying her as Naomi (I did have to look up her character's name -- I'm not that sick) on more than a few episodes of "Mama's Family." I liked the idea of her playing a tough as nails ex-military woman and a pretty terrible mom, to boot.

On another BSG front, I watched a bit of "Bridget Jones' Diary" yesterday and noted that James Callis (Gaius Baltar) plays one of Bridget's best friends. Who knew?

Today I did nothing productive. I woke up with a sore throat and a feeling of impending flu. Ugh. Apart from a nice walk with Foxy Brown and Steve, I've done little other than lie around on the couch and poke around on the computer. Ah well. Tomorrow I have big plans for sewing some new handbags. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Things I Made This Week

Some polymer clay pendants I made using various methods of stamping, painting and glazing.

A crocheted belt of a funny gold yarn, a red cotton/linen blend, and a coral-ish vintage cashmere. I'm going to overlay a metal buckle blank with some kind of matching polymer clay design.
Here is Spidermonkey examining a poncho I crocheted out of various yarn scraps.

For dinner tonight, a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting,

sesame mini-baguettes, and

Italian chicken stew.

So, I'm not completely useless.

The Winter of My Discontent

This has been a rather glum winter for me. After my frenzied preparation for the arts and craft fairs of November and December, I found myself with no specific goal in sight. With nothing really demanding my attention, I settled into idleness and broken attempts at introspection, resulting in a general malaise that has left me dodging phone calls, lunch dates, family gatherings and even the occasional email, not to mention my radio show and the creation of anything for my crafty business. I don't suppose this is particularly unusual behavior for those of us in the colder climates during the winter months, but now I'm not sure how to get back to a more, shall we say, productive life. During this time I've overloaded myself with book after book of various craft techniques, projects, and ideas, not to mention hours and hours of the "hip" crafty shows on HGTV. Unfortunately, rather than inspiring me, all of this information has pretty much stymied my creative efforts. Instead of just diving into new endeavors as I have in the past, I now find myself frozen because I don't have the "perfect" tools I saw on TV or the "appropriate" materials mentioned in a book. I think there's a specific phrase for this phenomenon, but I can't think of it. Anyway, I'm hoping that the [slightly] longer days and higher temperatures will do their magic.

However, if you consider watching TV productive, then things haven't been so dire. In this time period Steve and I watched (amongst other things) the entire two seasons of Veronica Mars on DVD, and every single minute of the new Battlestar Galactica on DVD and on broadcast TV. I'm going to say it: Battlestar Galactica is the overall best television show I've ever seen (and let me tell you, mister, I've watched a lot of TV). One caveat: you have to start at the beginning if you want to watch. If you try to catch an episode of the current season, you will be missing way too much for it to make much sense. There are the occasional standalone episodes, but you need the context of the whole series to get the full effect. I swear it's worth it. Do what I did -- join Netflix (you get two weeks free!) and get all the BSGs in your queue. Don't forget to start with the miniseries. We managed to blow through the miniseries, season 1, season 2 and season 2.5 in a little more than two weeks. We were dreaming Battlestar Galactica, yeah, but that was okay.

Now I have a craft fair, run by my friend Allison, coming up
(Chilicraft, at Brittany Woods Middle School - UCity district - March 24) and I'm considering a booth at Earth Day, and I haven't knuckled down to get new stuff made yet. Perhaps a deadline will get me going. And, sigh, someday soon I have to get some kind of a job.