Monday, September 30, 2013

Feeling So Random

Went to see Thirty Seconds to Mars last night and ended up on stage this close to the drums.
Will share the story, but realize that I need to tell a story of a story to get to that story because.. well.. i'm me. Keep an eye out; mayhaps all 3 stories will get posted by New Year's.

Sitting here working on another Etsy update - Pink Ribbon earrings for October. They are a mix of cute ones from last year and awesome new ones so there both new and old pictures to go through, but I am really distracted by the fact that my chest smells like tacos from a wee lunch incident.

Had dinner Saturday at fTM Miriam's new apartment; she lives in an actual Baltimore rowhouse.
It is beautiful.
She made Lydia's Stuffed Squash, so named because Miss Lydia had it last year and loved it so much that she has been asking Miriam to make it again.
Stuffing of quinoa, onions garlic, carrots, cranberries, apples and walnuts is cooked inside of a roasted acorn squash.
It is autumn on a plate.
As my first experience with acorn squash like this I am delighted to report it was yummy.
And yes, Lydia joined us for dinner because how can you have Lydia's Stuffed Squash without her?

Last week the hardwood floors in the foyer of my building and the steps going to the upstairs apartments were stripped and sealed. We couldn't use the front door for several days, but they do look incredible.
The down side?
It smelled like varnish and decay, with an under note of natural gas.
I slept with the windows open, fans on and several extra blankets but I think there might have been some long-term brain damage. I mean, nothing that smells that bad can possibly be good for you. Plus, I spent so much time around flammable chemicals  the last 20 years that I was in a state of heightened awareness on the lookout for a non-existent chemical leak.
For three days.
 It was exhausting.

At the Parisian Flea one day I saw this box -Beaver Finger Ring Cutter- and was like what?
Those words make no sense in that order.
Opening the box I found a truly alarming looking instrument:

Beaver. Finger. Ring. Cutter.

Pointy, circular bladed, sharp hooked, wicked looking thing.
Does it cut fingers?
Where does the beaver come into the picture?
I ask Andrew and he told me that it is for when someone has a ring stuck on their finger.
It cuts the shank of the stuck ring so that it can come off of the finger and it is made by a guy whose last name is beaver.
Even knowing the answer I am still a bit confounded every time I see the box.

Earlier I was on the phone with fTM Erin arranging to go visit tomorrow when she uttered, No Collin, you can't be naked in that rocket. I just imagine her 3 year old being like, Well which rocket can I be naked in? because that was my first thought. When I stopped laughing that is.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jewelry Roundup 7

Yes, a year has indeed past since the last jewelry roundup.
Working alone in my studio doesn't really inspire me to wear a lot of jewelry, but I recently rediscovered a full set of jewelry pictures from the picture kerfluffle so it seemed like a good idea to get back in the habit.
But as with all things you gotta be sure to stretch and start slowly so as to not pull anything so i'm gonna do commentary in the photo captions:
adding a little peep of blue sparkle with a 50 cent clip-on
speaking of clip-ons, I found a way to use clip-on hoops
by clipping around a rolled layer of whimsy hair
on Opening Day even Niki will wear orange and black
highlighted with a heart bought in New Orleans
made of recycled costumes and electronics
giant enamel/metal flowers are a must even in shorter hair
the white flower was worn a few days after the first hair cut

Trying to get back in the habit of wearing jewelry even if I was staying in the studio I'd challenge myself to pick non-matching pieces.
This day I picked the wee double heart scatter pin and the fabulous $4 thrift store earrings.
To bring them together I wore a gold chain belt fastened at my hip with a larger heart. I jingled all day; you can imagine how much joy that brought me!

one of my favorite rings because of the shape
discounted to $4 because it is missing some of the seed pearls
but that is what I think gives it character

plenty of character in this pin worn in my hair
this pin was bought for $5 specifically to be worn in my hair;
in fact, as soon as I saw it I imagined its swirls
against the swirls of an upsweep just like this
this Monet butterfly was a bit expensive for me at $10,
but it makes me smile and reminds me of Gma Craig
brooches on V-neck sweaters appeared on a regular basis
after my hair was cut;
all bought in the last 4-5 years, each for $5 or less
this day was a personal matching triumph for me
I bought the pastel multi-stone heart pin years ago
my stepmom bought me the wee pastel multi-stone earrings for Christmas 2 years ago
finally I had a pale pink button down with which to wear them
highlighted against the black  cardigan
I was happy all day because of the matchey-matching 

a hanging brooch from the 80's that belonged to me, then Rea, then me again
look at that amazing whimsy hair
some days I really miss my hair 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's National Rabbit Day!

And, of course, my favorite Bunny
ps - Happy Birthday, Kaaren!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Randomeo, Randomeo, where for art thou, Randomeo?

So how about we start off by doing the Friday Randomness post on Saturday?
How's that for random for ya?
As you probably saw, yesterday was an Etsy day so randomeyness was pushed to today.

You think you are a football fan?
I mean, really a football fan?
Do you have a tailgating RV?
Oh really?
Well, does tour tailgating RV have goal posts on it?
Because that is a serious football fan.
(seen driving through Halethorpe)

I love New Toothbrush Day!
You know, the day every quarter when you toss the old toothbrush and open a brand new one.
It was New Toothbrush Day this week and I realized that I was in a spectacularly good mood all morning simply because i'd brushed with a new toothbrush.
It didn't hurt that the new one is purple.

I'm in the library doing some research, have out my brand new Hello Kitty notebook and can't find a pen.
Where is the pen?
[rooting around in my purse] I know that I threw a pen in my purse a few days ago.
Honestly why are all of the pens always disappearing? I couldn't find one in my dining room this morning either.
All a girl needs is a fricking pen. Come on, people!
Frustrated I pull every single thing out of the middle pocket of my purse.

Well then.

It has gotten cold enough at night that I put a light blanket on my bed about 2 weeks ago and just last night it was cold enough that I got up in the middle of the night to grab MY blanket - my wonderful fuzzy brown blanket that I sleep with about 8-9 months out of the year.  I haven't seen it since I washed it and put it away for summer.  Hello my dear friend.
It is now officially Autumn in the Nikiverse. I bet it will only be a few more weeks before the electric mattress pad makes its first appearance.

not this one; this one is just a preview

Last week I saw the most awesome day moon:
it was waxing gibbous and surrounded by streaky clouds.
 Having learned my lesson about missed photo opportunities, I pulled over to the side of the highway and got some shots. 
One of them looks so cool that I think I am going to print it on watercolor paper as a base for a new painting/collage.

Speaking of pictures I did an etsy shoot this week and going through the almost 300 pictures that I had taken, I found this gem.
Honestly, what was I thinking?
Could I be further off the mark and still have the earrings in frame?
What am I even aiming at - my shadow?
This is one reason it takes 300 shots to get 75 great pictures.

I am doing a craft festival every weekend in October;
stay tuned for dates and places.

Friday, September 20, 2013


There is an Etsy update just waiting to be viewed and loved by you; please go say HI to the new earrings.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

fun farm party at the farm

How is it even possible that fTM's Matt's baby - Sammy- is already one?
Heck, he is already on the way to being a big brother in January.
What's next? College?
A few weeks ago I went to Hendershot Farms in PA to celebrate Sam's birthday with both Matt and Sara's families. It was great to see all of them, especially some folks that I haven't seen since the wedding.
The food was all farm themed.
I was afraid to ask exactly what was on the ingredient list for the cowpies, but they were super yummy.
Instead of a big cake there were three different kinds of cupcakes and a little smash cake.
mmmmm... cupcakes...

And of course there was the birthday pig full of fruit salad in his custom built cutting board corral.
You've never had a birthday pig full of fruit salad?
Then you, my friend, have never lived.

Matt's brother, Chris, designed and carved Mr. Pig.

The detail was mind boggling: pink snout with raisin nostrils, perfect little rind ears, giant googley eyes, zucchini tops for hooves, a pink candle melted and twisted into a curly tail and lollipops in a feeding trough for the kids. I saw pictures of the birthday shark he did for his niece's birthday; i'm getting this guy to do my next party fruit.
Speaking of fruit... you know who loves fruit?
The birthday boy.
Sitting on his dad's shoulders, Sammy was perfectly content as long as I kept handing him bits of fruit. Of course, if the stream of fruit slowed down he gave me some harsh looks.
It was a beautiful day, though a bit hot, so after eating we all moved outside under the shade trees.
With daddy, mommy and pops (Matt's dad)
All of the kids took turns riding the little four wheeler and the big kids took turns riding the big ones. I have to admit that I sort of started the whole thing. I was lamenting that the kids had wheels and looked longingly at Andrew (Sara's brother) as he rode off to work in one of the far barns. His wife, Tiffany, looked at me and said Do you want me to take you for a ride on mine?
Ummmm... have you met me?
I am very sad that there isn't a picture of me riding behind a rather pregnant Tiffany as she took me through the fields and hills of the 400 acres. It was my first time on an ATV and I think I need one.
When we got back the Hillegass boys started taking turns and then taking the kids for rides.
And of course we had to get back to the serious business of birthdaying.
Matt and Sara stripped Sammy down for his smash cake, which he ate rather neatly.
I think he would have been happier with a fork.
In fact, he was really enjoying the lemon pudding when suddenly he hit messy critical mass; looking down at his cake/pudding encased hands he gave Sara a little whimper with save me from the stickiness in his eyes.

My favorite part of the day -besides seeing people I love- was when the baby drums were opened.
His parents have already taught him to hit things rhythmically when they say Drum Sammy so this is the next logical step.
He'll be on Matt's slightly more expensive DW kit in no time.

As the day wound down and people started to load up the cars for their drives home,
Matt got everyone party favors:
corn picked right from the stalk.

To say that it was fabulous to eat corn that was only a few hours from the field is an understatement.

It was the perfect end to a farm party.

Friday, September 13, 2013

triple tigers

okay... they aren't really tigers.
This week I have been kittysitting a trio of tabby brothers:

Walter is super social and wants MORE TREATS every second of his life.

Jake is the smallest and really playful.

Zack is the least social with new people; I was warned that I might not ever see him.

This is how they line up on the tree for treats every single time: Walter on the top, Jake in the middle and Zack someplace in the back close enough that I knew he was there, but not close enough to touch.

Since they are cats I am not staying at the house, just going over every day and spending some time with them.
Normally our schedule is treats, playing, check water and clean litter boxes, play some more, treats again and then catnip before I leave.

If you are trying to play with/exercise three cats at once, laser pointer is the way to go.
All three of them were interested and I could make sure everyone had a turn.
It is fascinating to watch their behavior and try to guess who is going to attack next based on body language. They always set themselves up in a circle like pack hunters, but never attack at once.
Honestly, I could do this for hours and I think they could too. A few times we played until someone was breathing hard (I think it was Walter) or until all three of them had finally flopped over to be laying on their sides instead of crouched.

The only weird thing about the laser game was that Zack kept looking at me.
Not at my hand, not at the laser pointer, not in my general direction, AT me.
He would suddenly just look me right in the eyes, like I know you are doing this; i'm playing along because it is fun.

There are lots of other toys that I've tried all week, but none of them engender the interest of the laser pointer, though Jake is quite fond of the feathered bell thing on a stick.
He'd catch it in his claws and then chew on the string trying to liberate it from the stick.
Smart kitty.
The second or third night he shocked me by jumping through the air to attack it.

You can tell that I wasn't expecting it by where I have the camera aimed.

This kitty was getting serious air; it looked like Air Jaws.

Even once I knew to point the camera higher he still managed to shock me by launching himself through the air at the toy and INTO me.

As I am getting ready to leave there is another round of treats and then I put some catnip on the middle layer of the kitty tree.
Interestingly, Walter -who loves treats more than he loves air- is not at all interested in the nip.
Jake has both eaten some and left it alone on different nights.
Anti-social Zack?
Totally a nip fiend.
I mean he is ALL ABOUT the catnip.
[When I put that together with his skittishness I imagine him in the basement, under a couch listening to Phish or Dashboard Confessional and writing somber poetry.]
In fact, if I have some catnip in my hand he will cozy right up to me and let me pet him.
The brothers' humans come home tomorrow night. I'll miss them -- not enough to adopt my own cats mind you, but still it has been a fun week.

MENTAL MORSEL: invented in 1960, lasers were top secret military technology. Now they are shaped like blue plastic mice and sold at PetSmart.

Public Service Announcement: This household uses a brand of kitty litter I haven't tried before: Tidy Cat. Let me tell you people, it is a freaking miracle. When you walk into the house you don't even know that a cat lives there, much less three of them. If you have cats, you might wanna consider the Tidy Cat.

Unnecessary but Relevant LOLcat:

Monday, September 9, 2013


The studio has been a place of experimentation for the last 6 weeks or so.
As I got ready for this festival season with NikCo jewelry I was trying to keep the creative juices flowing. It is one thing to create when you want to and a totally different thing to create when you have to.
One experiment that produced results with which I am rather pleased was trying to visually represent a piece of music.
We all know that music is one of my greatest loves and that is partially because I see it as well as hear it; that is, the music exists in 3 dimensions inside of my head when I listen to it. In trying to describe the phenomena to various musicians we've mostly come to the conclusion that it is a resulting combination of the stereo-dimensional mixing in recorded music and me being... well,,, you know... a bit odd. (fTM Matt said That is so weird; I wish I could hear music like you do)
Anyhoo, there is a short instrumental piece on Thirty Seconds to Mars' new album Love Lust Faith and Dreams called "Convergence". It is a cyclical, percussive piece that really looks cool behind my eyes and I decided to try to capture it on canvas.
It sounds like this.
My intention was to do it with mixed media; I even know what I wanted to use to represent all of the layers, but in experimenting it ended up being all paint and ink.
The full background is the xylophone base painted with gesso and two shades of acrylic blues.
Next is the keyboards, done with pearl, teal, purple and silver paint washes in diagonal swaths.
The kick drum is pearl, silver and teal paint pounced at the bottom.
The guitar is the black pen lines; they are on the canvas where I hear them in spatial relation to each other. There are descriptive phrases written on two of the sides about how I personally interpret the song and I glazed the whole thing to make the colors look wet.
I could go into a lot more detail about each of the layers as the brush strokes, placement, depth, width, color selection and layering all represent something, but I think I've bored enough of you by now so here it is:
the shiny glaze makes it hard to photograph so this is taken in low light; it is much brighter in real life

Friday, September 6, 2013

nice hat

I've had a great, productive week getting ready for the first festival of the season -
Catonsville Arts and Craft Festival;
Sunday Sept 8th;
i'll be next to Objects Found.
I mean, I love the pieces that I've made and am excited about new displays and am generally stoked about NikCo.

Last night the productivity train jumped its tracks when I realized that a nice couple that I had talked to for about 10-15 minutes yesterday at work had actually been playing me and stole some expensive merchandise.
Nothing makes you not want to be optimistic like watching security tape to find the moment where other human beings take advantage of your basic kind nature to their own nefarious ends.
No, that does not inspire optimism.
It inspires nausea and sleeplessness.
It inspires crying for hours because how can people BE like that?
It inspires free-floating anxiety and mistrust, as well as general malaise.
It inspires lethargy and depression.
It inspires self-loathing and disdain for the entire human race.
It inspires helplessness, hopelessness and an overwhelming need to run away to New Zealand and change my name to Gertie.

Sitting here trying to cobble together a Friday Randomness post I couldn't think of a single cheerful, silly, funny, interesting or odd thing to write. All I could think about is how it always seems like whenever I am happy and on-course something always happens to make me doubt myself, my choices and my entire world view.
Cheery, isn't it?
Aren't you glad you checked out The Nikiverse today?

Then I remembered the bookmark I used to have clipped to my file boxes at work:
All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.
- St. Francis of Assisi

Optimism is a choice.
It is a silly choice.
It flies in the face of all evidence.
It is ridiculous.
But it is still the best choice.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Eighteen pairs of sweet, hilarious, fun and/or whimsical Quirkee earrings added to my store!


Wow Niki! That is such a cool shot of those red mushrooms. How in the world did you manage to get both the front one and the back one? It so clear and crisp through the glass. I mean, wow, what an interesting and creative perspective.

I was trying to get a shoot of the panda head earring.

Oh. Ummmmm.... in that case... it is artistically... uh... I hear blurry is all the rage these days.