what have I been up to?
Well, this week I've spent every extra minute working on this new project: an alphabet drawn entirely in my little weirdo creatures. I love these. LOOOOVE. this started as an idea for a Christmas present for my nieces, but once I started working I realized I wanted to make a whole alphabet. I think I'll finish by the end of the year, and then make some prints for my Etsy shop.
I've had a fire lit under me ever since a friend asked me to be a part of a holiday craft show/open house. i'll be selling my drawings and vintage papers tonight, and I'm both super excited and also totally anxious about it. (If you're in the area, email me if you're interested in coming! It's at 7 pm in Naperville and there will be friendship, crafts, and drinks: something for everyone!) So a huge thank you to Abby for giving me this opportunity and pushing me out of my comfort zone a bit.
Other things: Thanksgiving! I know I've said it before, but I'm so thankful for my family. We just have so much fun together. Did any other family you know have a Feats of Strength-style contest to see who could climb an 8 foot pole on a playground? With everyone laughing hysterically for an hour? Oh, no? Well, I guess that's just us. (For the record, I could not climb the pole and totally shamed myself. My husband, both brothers, sister in law, and 8 year old niece all completely schooled me. I will seek revenge... by going to the gym more often.) Anyway, the kids just all have so much fun together, and the adults have fun together, and we all just feel so lucky to have each other. It's great.
SO. It's almost December. There are a lot of good things going on. Advent starts Sunday. I'm putting the finishing touches on my festive wintertime mix. I hope you're feeling happy and festive too.
2000. I was 20 years old and a junior at Iowa State University in Ames. I skipped marching band practice in the afternoon to drive the hour home to Grinnell and vote. My polling place was Bailey Park, the elementary school my younger brother went to. It smelled the same as I remembered, in the way that schools always evoke scent memory for me. I was really excited to vote in my first presidential election, but I was also really excited to have a home cooked meal with my family for dinner. I drove back to Ames and settled in on a huge design project I'd procrastinated, par for the course. I stayed up all night working and listening to election results on public radio. By the time I went to sleep around 4 or 5 am, my project was done but the election was decidedly not.
2004. I was 24 years old and living in Chicago. I'd recently moved from Wicker Park to the Ukranian Village, but my polling place was still in my old neighborhood. In the morning before work I walked up Leavitt past the Holy Trinity Cathedral, a landmark I still dearly miss from my days in the city. It was snowing very lightly and I was listening to the new Kings of Convenience on my very first iPod. I remember that happy walk so clearly as if it were only a few months ago, but for the life of me I can't remember anything about what I did that evening as the results came in.
2008. I was 28 years old, living in Wheaton, and six months pregnant with my first baby. I woke up "early" at 7 am (oh, the olden days) and ate a big bowl of oatmeal and berries while watching TV news in bed. I remember still feeling that warm-oatmeal-belly feeling as I walked in the chilly morning into the polling place, the basement of a swanky retirement community a few blocks from our house. The baby was due January 17, and that night as Mike and I watched election coverage on MSNBC we wondered what it might be like if I went over my due date and our first baby was born into a world with the first black President of the United States. (And as it turns out, I did. On the day of the inauguration I had my very last prenatal appointment, the non-stress test where you sit in a room and listen to your baby's heartbeat for half an hour. I dawdled afterwards, playing hooky for a few hours so I could go home and watch the inauguration coverage before I went back to work. David was born 2 days later.)
2012. I am 32 years old and still living in Wheaton. The kids woke up early today, Norah at 5:30 and David not long afterward (damned daylight savings time), so we ate our cereal and bananas early and read a library book about animals. Mike and I took turns getting ready and by 7:30 we loaded up and headed to the polling place, still that same swanky retirement community. We were happy and excited to take the kids to vote. On the way in, David asked, "are they going to be here? do we get to see them?" and I realized he was asking about Romney and Obama. I guess we had built up voting a little too much. Sorry to disappoint kid, but this is actually going to be pretty boring for you. The lady who looked up our voter information said, "well, what beautiful children you have," and of course we agreed. David squirmed around at my feet in the election booth, and Mike filled out his ballot with one hand while holding Norah with the other. Afterwards we parted ways, MIke to work, and the rest of us home to watch Super Why and clean the house before a playdate this morning.
I'm a pretty non-political person. This election cycle has been tiresome for me and I'm discouraged by the media hysteria and the deep divides and the blatant disregards of truth and common sense. And the campaigning, oh the campaigning. It puts a twist in my stomach to think of all those millions of dollars spent that could have fed hungry people or cured sick people. But. This is the system we have, and it's better than a lot of the alternatives. So I'm happy to stand up, take part, and be counted.
Two more things. This post was inspired by my friend Jake, who wrote this thoughtful piece yesterday. Also, if you'd like to take a break from punditry and general all-caps style election day internet ranting, maybe you'd like to read this wonderful Miller Williams poem.
This is the first year David wore a costume for more than 3 minutes. It helps that he wants to play Toy Story all the time anyway, so this Woody costume had already seen some playtime action in the past week, long before trick or treating.
Norah wore this same costume last year and it still fit, so I figured, what the heck. Halloween is not my favorite holiday so I'm pretty loathe to spend a lot of extra cash on something that doesn't get much use. Plus it's still adorable. Bonus.
This is the only photo I took on the day I went to the Renegade Craft Fair:
That's my friend Renae. And our glasses of wine at 4:30, a.k.a, the elderly person's dinner hour. Though in Wicker Park you might as well be elderly at age 32.
This post is not to say that I wasn't blown away by what I saw at Renegade. Earlier this week I was thinking back to when I first attended (2004?) and the fair was held in the actual park of Wicker Park, and there were maybe like 30 vendors selling weird jewelry and band t-shirts. The artistry and displays and merchandising and serious TALENT that comes to Renegade nowadays is pretty amazing. It's also pretty overwhelming. It was really hard for me to concentrate on admiring the work when there were just so many people, it was hot, my allergies were bad, blah blah blah... oops, sorry, now I feel like a senior citizen again.
ANYWAY. That said, I discovered a ton of new favorites. I bought a pillow from Caitlin at Little Low that I'm in LOVE with and I think I may redesign my whole bedroom around it's color palette. Renae bought a darling necklace from Rachel at Poppy and Fern and I'm planning on ordering one of her custom embroideries for Norah's room. I was also super happy to pick up a print from Laura Berger, whose work I've admired for years. Every vendor we talked to was so friendly and approachable too.
Some other cards I picked up and sites I've bookmarked this week? Belrossa, their bags and clutches made from recycled vintage quilts were super cute; Brainstorm had really beautiful, detailed art prints; if I wouldn't have run out of cash I probably would have bought a little pouch from Custom Made UK; and Thimblepress also had some really eye-catching prints.
I do feel like such a crank complaining about how crowded the fair was; I should be sublimely happy that all these hard-working artisans are getting so much business. Friends that went, what did you think? Am I just being cranky? I'd love to hear about your experiences.
(NOTE: I can't believe this sat in my unpublished drafts for so long! I'm about, oh, 3 months late in posting this. Oh well, here you go... a little post about my friends' craft social day in April.)
Crafternoon 2012! What can I say other than I'm SO GLAD we thought of this, planned it, and made it happen. The actual event was different, I think, than what we had originally envisioned. It wasn't a huge multi-day event; it was pretty small and intimate. But I think that was for the best.
My friends Mindy and Renae and I started planning for a craft event last fall, and we learned a TON about the organization and preparation that go into events like this. It was kind of a lot of work (not that i did a lot, I sort of rode on Mindy and Renae's coattails. . . thanks friends). Things like this don't just happen. As Renae noted while we furiously untangled crepe paper streamers about 20 minutes before everyone was due to arrive, "Bloggers must not be procrastinators." Pretty things take time.
11 friends (plus baby Allaire!)
Mindy's Trix Krispies bars. Yeah, they were good.
Materials for essential oil sugar scrubs.
Polymer clay jewelry, inspired by Kristina Klarin.
There's a good reason why I have no finished photos of any of the necklaces we made. At 3:45 we were still sitting around chatting and crafting and someone said, "hey, aren't we supposed to out of this space by 4? It's quarter til." And then it was like full on CLEAN UP mode. Everybody brought their A game for those 15 minutes. Thanks ladies.
Okay, now prepare yourselves for an entirely different image.
Our dinner conversation turned to talk of nose piercings, which turned to a trip to a tattoo parlor. For a group of ladies that spent the afternoon talking about babies, gardening, and church, this was a pretty spontaneous and surprising turn of events. But it was super fun.
Friendship!! I can't wait to do this again next year.
Trying to whittle down the photos I share here is proving difficult. I might end up with 4 separate posts. And I still wish I would have taken more photos!
My little tag in Ghent! I wish I would have brought a sharpie, but a .08 Micron pen had to do.
Ham, cheese, and arugula sandwich, plus a little side salad. Almost everything we ordered in Belgium came with one of these little salads, and they always had the most delicious dressing. I couldn't place the greens that were in this one, but I really liked them. Any ideas?
Loved this little window illustration. And yes, that is a naked mannequin in the background. Oh well.
Another illustration I loved. Man that guy looks happy.
aaand: THIS. Oh my. On one of our walks we stumbled across this little restaurant/tearoom called Prestige. One of my goals for the trip was to get some kind of beautiful or decadent treat. This definitely fit the bill. Each little bite was better than the last. And it came with a delicious coffee too. Ahhhh. Pure bliss. (I tried to channel my inner Kristin Ladstrom for this shot. She always has the best photographs of delicious European treats. :) )
Let's not talk about how it's already March 8 and I'm still talking about February, okay? Oookay.
A little shopping. For as many tops or skirts I have from Anthropologie, I've never been able to find a dress there that actually fits, is flattering, and seems worth the 3 digit price tag. I did end up with a cute sweater though.
Thrifted sheet fabric, soon to be part of some new art journal packs in my etsy shop.
I assigned myself some memory work as part of my Lenten daytime internet fast, something to take up time I usually spend online. A psalm a week seemed like a doable amount but I'm behind already. My confirmation memory skills have obviously declined since I was 13.
Kids on the Amtrak on our way to Minneapolis. Our weekend there was so fun, we enjoyed walking around downtown, and of course seeing all my family at the wedding was fantastic. Oh, my family! All so funny and quirky and comforting to be around. I wish we didn't live so far away. (I do highly recommend Amtrak for medium-length trips with little kids. It was amazingly better than being stuck in the car for 8 hours, and you know David just went nuts for it.)
One, or rather two, downers about the trip: I took most of my photos on my iPod. . . . which I left on the train on the way home. Bummer. And we're pretty sure Mike's iPod was stolen sometime in the train station. Bad weekend for our family's technology collection.
My paper Valentine's Day garland, which was left up for weeks after Valentine's Day. I really liked it though. And guess what? I'm an adult, I own this place, and I can do whatever I want. Boom! to that.