Thursday, December 20, 2007
I am off to Florida for a week to visit parents and friends. I don't know if i will be posting anything while I am away, so i wanted to tell everybody to have a joyous Solstice and a wonderful Christmas. Happy, happy Holidays from the land of Grinch balloon sculptures hanging from the ceiling and happy dragons peeking from around the boards.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
ohhhhhhhhh, the pain. My brain will never recover. We were in-house today training on various shows when team member Rob mentioned that he had a terrible song stuck in his head called "What Do You Buy a Wookie (When He Already Has a Comb)?" ummmmmmm, what?!?!? He said that it was from the Star Wars Christmas album entitled Christmas in the Stars. Now, given my friends, I am quite familiar with the Star Wars Christmas Special, but i was unfamiliar with this record. Rob tried to describe it to the rest of us using words like "droid voice effects" and "random Wookie sounds" and "Anthony Daniels." He made it sound like each song was worse than the previous one. There's C3PO singing about the odds against Christmas, droids trying to decide what to get Chewbacca, a choir singing to R2-D2 (fronted by a teenaged Jon Bon Jovi, BTW) and a song that teaches droids that the meaning of Christmas is that they make gifts to make kids happy, though they get no gifts themselves. Wow. I didn't really believe him so we looked it up and found a posting on Avoidinglife.com where you can actually listen to the songs. That is, you can listen to the songs if you dare. Dear lord, it's AWFUL. It is a crappy production of a poor execution of a terrible idea. My goodness, how can so much badness be in one place? The music is bad. The lyrics are bad. The performances are bad (though i will say that Anthony Daniels can carry a tune) The effects are bad. And the worst part of all? Now I have the Wookie song stuck in MY head. I am surprised that I somehow managed to miss this crap until now. But here it is, stuck in my head. Time for me to pass the pain on to someone else. Here ya go.
Monday, December 17, 2007
So the Nor'easter predicted for Baltimore on Saturday did not snow us in. There was a ton of rain, but it wasn't cold enough to snow. However, the wind was viscous all weekend. I was doing laundry and reading a book at 4:30 yesterday afternoon when i saw a bright flash and heard the transformer blow up. Good-bye electricity. I pulled the clothes out of the dryer, hanging them all around the basement so they wouldn't mildew, but there was nothing to be done for the washer full of clothes and water. I read by candlelight until 8:30 when i surrendered to the dark and went to bed. Yes, i realize it is slothful and indulgent to be in bed that early if one isn't sick or in love, but pretending i was a pioneer woman really was exhausting. My dreams this morning were confusing and culminated with images of me running naked in the snow - which made more sense when i woke up and it was 56 degrees in my bedroom. Let me say that 56 degrees is damn cold people. It was too cold to take a shower. It was too cold to think. So i left the house and drove to work. I stopped to pick up some breakfast even though i went grocery shopping this weekend (didn't want to open the fridge and couldn't cook anything from the freezer) and a mile from work my cell phone rang. It was team member, Felicia whom i was supposed to pick up at the Saturn dealership this morning at 8:30. D'OH! She called last night to remind me, but with no electricity the phone didn't ring and it was too cold this morning for me to think to check messages. Time to turn around, drive back PAST my house to Ellicott City to get Felicia to drive PAST my house again to get to work. Late, unshowered and not in uniform - and I'm the BOSS! Dang. Oh, Monday, i tip my hat to you, sir. You definitely won today. BGE claims that my power is restored. We'll just see about that. Hope everyone else had a better Monday then me.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Are you familiar with the Christmas Angels from the Salvation Army? You know, the ones that you often find hanging on a tree and that list the name of a needy child that you'd buy presents for? Have you ever wondered where all those donations go or how they get to the kids? Last night i volunteered at Elf Night at the Salvation Army warehouse in Baltimore. Stacey gathered volunteers from her friends and from work in conjunction with a volunteer organization and we helped get boxes ready to go to 4000 kids in the Baltimore area. The best way to describe Elf Night is "barely controlled chaos." Donations are gathered, scanned and sorted by the Salvation Army. Rows and rows of boxes, stacked three high, are marked with the names and ages kids. Gifts that were bought for specific kids are placed in the boxes and then you go through to check that each kids has 3 presents, some clothes, shoes and a jacket. If you are missing anything you go to huge bins of presents sorted by gender and age and choose something (see Jed carefully rifling through) There are dozens of people milling everywhere carrying toys and books and games while muttering to themselves "12 year old boy, 8 year old girl, i need a Dora doll for the 5 year old..." and you hear things like "Are you going to take that Candyland? Has anyone seen a black Barbie? Are there helmets to go with these scooters?" It is like Christmas shopping, except fun. The only drag is trying to get the clothes. There is a corner where all the clothes are sorted; if you need clothes you write down a list of ages, item and sizes and turn it in. After someone has pulled the right clothes for you they call out your name. Unfortunately it took forever to get them. Some enterprising members of the group elected Will to pick up all of the clothes so he turned in slips for about 8 different people and then lurked around the clothing corner, waiting. Once your box was all done you signed off on it and moved to another. Here's Jami completing an order (and i just noticed that you can see half of Karen coming down the aisle as well) It was crazy and fun, as well as a chance to help those less fortunate than myself. I can't really afford to give stuff, so i like to give time instead. The event was from 6 to 9 with most people clearing out around 8:30ish. I started to leave around 9:15, but realized that the staff was pulling out more boxes of sorted toys to refill the bins for today's shift (it takes weeks to get everything done) so i stayed until 10:00 to help. I did get to see some pretty odd things. Diamond is a very popular name. Someone thinks it is appropriate to give a 3 year old a half-naked Barbie with a belly button tattoo. Someone actually named their 3 daughters Carey, Caren and Carol. There are teddy bears with an alarming amount of makeup and fake eyelashes that look like French prostitutes: Probably my favorite thing was a box that i started working on that had written on it "4 stuffed chickens." What? That's just not a phrase you'd ever expect to see anywhere. Lo and behold in the box i found Anybody need a bike?
Monday, December 10, 2007
As more and more people I know branch out into the world of Make It Yourself commerce it seems wise to add a new feature to my blog. To the right you will find a section called "Let's Go Shopping." It is pretty self-explanatory. Who knows where this could lead? Perhaps in the New Year there might even be a link for a store by a certain sparkle-pony prone crafter. Anything is possible in the Nikiverse.
All of the people I know have interesting talents and funny, hidden (or not-so-hidden) quirks. Take Jonah, for example; if you met him you might never guess that he is an expert bridge player or an avid birder. In fact, you might believe that he he would avoid nature at all costs, but no, he loves him some birds. In fact, he has recently (2 weeks ago; i've been sick) joined the growing trend of "make your own presents" thanks to Cafe Press. In a blog post cleverly titled Cheap Chachkis to Stuff the Stockings of Nature Nerds he introduced "Barely-marked up holiday gifts for bird nerds." Always one to support my friends, here is where you can find bird-themed gifts for the avian-freak in your life. Enjoy.
I bet you didn't believe me that felt was a hot, hot craft item right now. Last week I received my ornaments from the Red Velvet Art swap and ALL THREE were made of felt! They were, however, really different from each other. There was a sweet gingerbread man, a lovely "ugly doll" (the purple radio nose just makes me laugh) and a yummy donut (previously featured in an RVA tutorial here). My favorite thing about swaps is being inspired by the creativity of others. Thank you to the three women who sent part of themselves to me. Happy Holidays to you.
Last night i was recovered enough from the plague to do a little cleaning and Christmas decorating. I have A LOT of Christmas decorations and very little room, so i only put out a few different things each year. This is the year of the angels. When the household was dissolved and divvied-up last year I was quick to grab several decorations made by my mother in the late 60s - early 70s. First up is my door angel. One of many made as Christmas presents in 1968, this lovely burlap-backed beauty (that's a phrase i never thought i'd used in a non-sarcastic context) graced either the front door or the downstairs' wall during the season when i was growing up. She originally had 2 smaller matching angels that would hang on either side of her that had the family's name on them. I'm not sure how many sets my mom made (3-8 depending on who she sent them to), but i have always loved her face and gold-cord halo. Next, inside my front door, is the card angel. When it was time to start dividing Christmas decorations she was one thing i HAD to have. I have no idea exactly when or why my mom made her, but she has always been my favorite with her gentle expression, her crazy hair, her tiny bare feet and the gold trimmed dress that is actually pockets for Christmas cards. She was one of the only decorations that would go up every single year. Alas, she only has 3 cards in her pockets, people - get a move on! (kudos to Aunt Judy, Kaaren (check plus plus for handmade) and Dad) When i realized i was rocking a bit of a theme (can 2 things comprise a theme?) I pulled out the choir angels. I have no earthly clue about the genesis of these beauties. They have been around longer than me and are as kitsch as you can get. In the years they were put out in my past, they normally ended up in the bar downstairs (sigh... who doesn't miss that bar?!?) either hanging on the wall or sitting on the shelf over the fridge surrounded by white lights. Made from pudding boxes, plastic figures, glitter, "angel's hair" (whatever surely carcinogenic fiber that was) and a LOT of gold paint i can't explain why i love them so much. Maybe it is because of my love for music. Maybe it is because of my love for glitter. Maybe it is because things that are beautiful to a 4 year-old's eyes remain beautiful forever. Whatever it is, this is the first year they have been out in maybe 8 years or so, and I still love them, kitsch-factor and all. (sorry the pics are bad - my digital zoom and i need marriage counselling) Do you have any crazy, silly decorations you can't let go off and love despite the reality of them?
I said i'd get sick. Oh, how i got sick. Cold/flu/infection of some sort. Fever. Mucus colors we won't go into. (how can anything biological be GREY?) I had to go buy MORE medication cause i ran out. Not only did I call out of work, i cancelled my favorite day of the month - Team Day. It was so bad that the CEO of the company sent me home on Friday. Over the weekend i did get some drugs and after some nonsense (allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics, but i'm fine) I'm feeling much better. The heat also went out in my apartment so i was freezing for part of the weekend, but that's better, too. All in all it has been a pretty awful time in the Nikiverse recently, but i am on the mend and back in the saddle. Watch for some updates during the day - i managed to do some decorating and received my RVA ornaments last week. Release the sparkle ponies!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
So this box has been sitting on my desk since last week Since LAST WEEK people! Do you have any idea how hard it was not to open it? I had to wait until today - you know patience is not my best asset. But i waited until after sundown (if you're gonna do it you may as well do it right) and found such an awesome, awesome present Yes, that IS a scarf knitted to look like police tape! Isn't it the coolest? Jonah's wife made it for me. The card says "(You are now an honorary Jew.) Kristie made this and I helped by keeping the cats away from it." I'm wearing it right now and feel like the best dressed honorary Jew in the world. Yippee! Thanks Jonah and Thanks Kristie!
Saturday, December 1, 2007
This year i decided to try a Flexible Spending Account; i figured that i would go to the doctor a few times and i am the queen of over the counter medication, so i might as well buy things with pre-tax dollars. Plus, there was a little FSA charge card - who could resist that? So i went with a low dollar amount and gave it a whirl. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time except that this year i was (knock on wood) unusually healthy. In fact I only had my yearly physical and bought cold medicine once. (double, triple knock on wood) This all means that i still had $179 in my account last week that would disappear today. I wasn't about to let that happen, so Wednesday night after seeing my trainer i want to Walgreens. Even though the money had already come out of my budget and i was trying to spend as much as possible, I was still compelled to buy the generic equivalents of most drugs - i mean why pay more for a brand name if the dosage is the same? Do you have any idea how hard it is to spend $179 on generic OTC meds and BandAids? Somehow i manged it, but i am flabbergasted by what i bought: flexible bandaids (30) knuckle and fingertip bandaids (20) bandaids with antibiotic pads (20) tough strips in kickass case for work (20) large comfort-flex bandaids (10) extra-large bandaids (10) generic advil (24) generic excederin (100) generic aleve (100) generic tylenol (1000) generic tylenol sinus (48) generic benadryl (48) generic benadryl sinus (40) Claritin (15) generic dayquil (40) generic nyquil (40) Theraflu cold & sore throat generic cloraseptic throat spray Vicks Vaporub Tums EX (192) generic airbourne (20) Bacitraycin ointment (that's an ugly word) Lanacane creme Sportscreme Carmex and a first aid kit for my car! Basically, if you aren't feeling well, i'm the woman you want to see. I mean, some of these medications i don't even take; i just wanted to have them in the house in case a guest needed them. The sick shelf in my hall closet is now so well stocked that i am going to have to get some more baskets and perhaps a mini-shelf to keep it all organized. Needless to say, i opted out of the FSA for next year. Of course, with the way things happen in the Nikiverse, that means i'll be deathly ill by next week!
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
So right before Thanksgiving i decided that in my vast free time i would join an ornament swap : i make 3 holiday ornaments and send them to different people and 3 totally different people send hand-made ornaments to me. The catch here is that it was a quick turn around swap; we got our addresses on Nov 22nd and the boxes need to be mailed by Dec 1st. Yikes. I had a few ideas whirling around and hung out in the studio 2 nights ago. I worked with paper, with glass, with beads, with paper and glass together, with ink, with paint, with glitter, with wire and i had bupkis. I mean nothing was coming together right or it came together but i didn't like it. I must have tossed 4 different prototypes. Randomly, around 10pm, i started opening various containers to get some inspiration and i came across some broken vintage jewelry. A-ha, says I. I wanted to make some abstract angels. I tried to make them matching, but it just didn't click. Frustrated i cut them apart and made some separate ornaments. Ha-zah! The problem was that each angel had her own personality and needed to be made accordingly. Once that was decided they came together pretty quickly. The halos are from a link necklace, the heads are vintage buttons from my grandmother's button box, the wings are from tassel angels i was going to make sometime in the early 90's but never got around to and the bodies/dresses are fashioned from various vintage necklaces and gold wire. Here are Sweet, Sassy and Shy: I decided that individually the angles felt incomplete. I considered sending all 3 to one person and making 2 more sets of 3, but i came to my senses on that one. Instead I made another ornament that matched each angel in some way (if the swap says "sends one ornament" i am compelled to send two; mayhaps i need professional help). Sweet has a heart of course, while Sassy is complimented by a zany swirl-o-rama and Shy lets her companion ornament speak for her. Tonite they get boxed up and sent to NC, AZ and CA; I hope they are enjoyed in their new homes. I can't wait to see what goodies come my way next week. I'll post when i receive all three of them.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
So one of my teams got rear-ended in traffic today (they're fine, BTW) while my team had a stupendously fun day - odd how it happens that way sometimes. Right inside the side door was this awesome mosaic-fountain-lady constructed from individual tiles made by kids: and greeting team members Amy and Lindsey was a shark on a pole wearing green striped glasses (how could i make that up?!?):
So my holiday weekend went well. After 923 miles, 2 houses, 3 generations of relatives and quite a lot of green bean casserole i got home late Saturday night. I really love visiting, but driving to and/or from Ohio in the dark (in the rain) by yourself is a bit of a bummer. However, i was able to leave early enough on Wednesday to see one of my favorite driving sights: Western Maryland in the autumn at dusk with a wee bit of fog These pictures were taken at Sideling Hill (a giant notch cut in the top of a mountain for the highway to pass through; it has an awesome geologic feature called a syncline, but that's another story) and if you look really hard at the center of the second pic you'll see a teeny little church in the distance that makes the entire scene look like a postcard. sigh...
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It has always been one of my favorite holidays. When i was younger it really was my favorite time of the year. We went to Ohio to be with my parents' families. It meant travel and food and fun and spending time with my BFF, Rickki. We used to count the days till Thanksgiving like most people count to Christmas. As an adult i find myself reflecting every year on what i am thankful for. Generally i am an appreciative person; I really know that i have a good life. I can see that the terrible, painful things in life are balanced by beauty and opportunities. Everybody has days when they hate getting out of bed, but mine are few and far between. After being unwell for so long I am thankful that I really am at peace at last. I am thankful that i get to go to a job every day that drives me NUTS, but i still love. I am thankful that despite my complete neglect, I am healthy. I am thankful that I have a genetic family that loves me. I am thankful that I have a family of friends that chose me and love me. I am thankful for the time i get to spend in my studio. I am thankful for the technology that allows me to remain in contact with everyone despite the distances between us. I am thankful that the school i am supposed to be at right now had their power go out this morning so i get to leave for Ohio this afternoon instead of staying up for 24 hours and driving through the night. I am thankful that God blesses me everyday that I wake up, especially since i know i have never done anything to deserve those blessings. Life is good. I love you all. Have a great holiday - enjoy your turkey and count your blessings.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Rachel left the oddest message last week, "I have a bunch of Scrabble tiles that i figured you'd want for crafting purposes, when can you come pick them up?" When we finally spoke she explained that her company had ordered the tiles for some training event, used all of the E's, I's, T's and S's and were getting rid of the rest of them. I found a night i could swing by to pick them up, thinking that there were probably 100 or so tiles that i could certainly find a fun use for, even though they are missing 4 key letters. Imagine my surprise when she pointed to a big box FULL of bags of letters. There are multiple sets of tiles in red, white, black, blue and green. There are oodles of tiles! Wow. So, to all of my crafty friends, let me know if you would like some free scrabble tiles and i'll send 'em to ya. Let me know if you have specific color or letter choices. Remember - no E's, I's, S's or T's. Don'tcha just love free stuff?
Monday, November 19, 2007
You know I love school art. At today's school they had a big totem pole in the front lobby to celebrate National American Indians and Alaska Natives Heritage Month. (who knew?) From top to bottom it represented the spirit totems of Thunderbird, Bear, Whale, Frag and Beaver.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I'm always on the lookout for fun new restaurants. Last week the Palmateers took me to this hole-in-the-wall place called Little Spice Thai Cuisine. Located by Arundel Mills it was excellent. The food was great (i had a yellow curry with potato) and moderately priced, the atmosphere was casual and friendly, and the decor was modern, but cool. The whole place had a nice eccentric yet inviting feel to it. When you get tired of turkey next week, if you're in the Baltimore Washington Metroplex try this place : you'll love it.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
First it was unseasonably warm. Then it was rainy. Where was my favorite season? Today it was ridiculously foggy. But at our school in Calvert county (south of Baltimore, for non-Marylanders) the sun broke through at lunchtime and it was gloriously autumn. It was bright and clear with breathtaking trees. It was crisp enough to need a sweater, but not cold. It even smelled like campfire in the air. (i assume it was house with a wood-burning stove or something charming like that cause we never heard any sirens) I LOVE AUTUMN!
Monday, November 12, 2007
You may recall that my friend Francie is in the process of adopting a little girl from Vietnam. Adoption is a pricey endeavor and she has done some cool things to help raise money. She wrote a children's book, illustrated by her mom, about adoption. She also put together a children's CD of songs, stories and poetry (with a track by yours truly reading The Paper Bag Princess).
Here is the link to her Cafe Press shop, featuring both of these along with an assortment of gift items. Marvel at her creativity and perhaps do a little early holiday shopping, won't you?
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
...is my idea of shopping! The only thing better than looking through my local antique/art/junk/consignment store is looking through their garbage. Look what i found: What am i going to do with a broken glass lamp and the world's ugliest oval painting? you say. I have no idea! But that's the fun part.
If you're hip to the crafting crazes, you know that using felt in paper arts has been hot for awhile. I've resisted thus far cause i don't really get the appeal - it just feels so 70's to me. So imagine my surprise when last night i was working on a pile of November cards (Happy Birthday Zachary, Ron, Colleen, Christina, Matthew and Glenn) when i thought This could use a little 3D swirl; maybe i'll use some felt. I sat down to try a few cuts in a few different colors and when i looked up, i'd done this: That's a lot of felt shapes to use for a girl who isn't sure if she likes felt shapes! So don't be shocked if you receive some felt from me soon!
Monday, November 5, 2007
Saturday night was Open Space Arts' annual Gala Fundraiser. This year former TSPer Annie wrote a murder mystery set in 1955. We all came in retro evening wear and had a fabulous time. In fact, we were having so much fun talking, eating and looking for clues that i forgot to take any pictures of us. The plot involved the moderately drunk and majorly detestable coat-check girl turned actress Angel Von Tassel being poisoned at a party hosted by Charlotte Rose for the 1954 Best Actress Oscar-winner, Cassidy Peacock. There was intrigue, infidelity, blackmail and the best line of the night, "There's been a little death. But I see no reason for that to ruin the evening." Plus it is always great to see former TSPer Thom in a tux as the head of the studio. I've wanted to host a Murder Mystery for ages (i was a bit too young to get in on it when it was all the rage back in the 80's) and this really makes me want to do it. Anyone have New Year's Eve plans, yet?
One of my croppin' cronies - Anne- secretly eloped last year. She and her husband, Dale, didn't want to tell anybody until they were able to tell all of their kids, which took almost a year. On Saturday they had a wedding celebration. I went expecting a party, but they also renewed their vows and had a blessing. Since they were alone at the civil ceremony it was really important to them to have a Christian ceremony with their family and friends. Held at Dale's brother's house in Annapolis it really was a family affair as we gathered in the back yard - there were 3 generations of Anne's family, 4 generations of Dale's, friends, dogs and kids playing on the swing sets. Even the 2 pastor's from St. John's are married to each other. It was laid back, but very sincere and lovely. There was a lot of laughing and crying, as there should be at weddings. Congratulations to the Crutchleys and may they blessed all of their days!
There are many words that could be used to describe me, but clothes horse (technically a phrase, i know) is not one of them. As a child of the 80's there was a time that such things really did matter to me. Now, if i am showered and my clothes match I consider myself presentable. However, i realized that i randomly had 2 posts about appearance and figured i'd put them together. Firstly, i have mentioned to several people that i cut 7 inches off of my hair resulting in picture requests, so here ya go: Yep, that's a lot of hair gone. (if you're wondering why i'm looking to the heavens in the picture it's because i took the picture right before i started cleaning the studio behind me - yikes) Secondly, i don't buy shoes very often. In fact, i generally don't get that worked up by shoes. But WOW did i get some bitchin' shoes last week. Thank God that flats and ballet shoes are back in style. These shoes were buy one pair, get another pair for $1 - that's right, just $1. Soooooooooo, since i haven't bought myself shoes in... ummmmm... let's go with months, since i can't actually remember the last time i bought shoes, i bought four pairs! They make me happy.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Somehow Kate C (nee H) has become the freshman advisor at her school and the freshman class' theme is Japan. How and why would I know this? I received a slightly garbled message on my voicemail late last week instructing me to make as much origami as possible and place it in a bag today. Cryptic. Stacey investigated and found out that Mrs C. (as her kids call her) is planning on decorating the entire Freshman Hallway with hanging origami. (current team member Felicia is a Howard alum and commented "that sounds good. The Freshman Hallway always sucks") I am not one to shirk from a challenge and owe Kate big for favors she has done in the past. On Sunday i checked four origami books (Origami for the First Time, Easy Origami Animals, Step-By-Step Origami and Origami Birds) and an origami DVD (DaVinci Kids presents Origami with Leonore) from the library. I read all the books. I suffered through the DVD (someone should tell Leonore that if a DVD is for kids it should not suck or at least it should be interesting). I meticulously cut paper into various size squares. I tried and tried, only to find out what i already knew: I SUCK AT ORIGAMI. I don't know why. I LOVE paper and really rock at other paper crafts, but origami just escapes me. It must have something to do with my spatial relation skills, but i don't get it. I managed a butterfly (ended up using scissors and some glue), a hamster (not sure what's going on with his tail) and a big duck (who looks good, but can't sit up on his own; he isn't attacking the hamster, just propping himself up). I found one fish pattern that i could do because it uses the same folds as a squash book, which i have taught before in my journalling classes. This week was crazy busy, but i did manage a small school of 17 fish. Late last night i was working on a pig that ended up being so disturbing (if Satan had a pet pig i now know exactly what it would look like) that i ripped it into tiny pieces (no coming alive in the middle of the night, thank you) and gave up on the origami challenge. I delivered my paltry 20 creatures to the high school and can only hope they pass muster. Kate has promised pictures of the project when it is done. I hope her other friends and colleagues have better paper folding skills than me!