It's Good to Be A Man These Days


It's good to be man these days
Don't have no conscience about my evil ways
Don't ever feel bad for the awful things I say
It's good to be a man these days

Snapshots of Italy: Part V


Snapshots From Italy: Part IV


Embroidery: I'm Your Native [Daughter]


Of course this year was like any other: I had very lofty goals to create handmade gifts for each and every member of my family this Christmas, but true to form I barely finished one!

In her 20s my sister traveled with a musical group that took her through several states in the Union (is it capitalized when talking formerly about the country?). So when I saw this on Pinterest (where else?) I thought of her immediately. If you weren't sure, the post title is a reference to the excellent song, "City of New Orleans."

The only problem was, how would I remember all the states she's been without going to her directly and tipping her off that I was investigating for a project? Fortunately for me, her musical group kept an online journal during their travels, and I was able to find them archived in the recesses of the internet! So I read every entry to find states to put on a list, and then used my own memory of my sister's life and her travels in the America: mission trips, choir tours, personal road trips or vacations.

After compiling the most complete list I could without outright asking my sister to list all the states herself, I went to work on the piece. I tried to pick a size that wouldn't be so small it swallowed up the...'spatially challenged' states (I grew up in the west, and haven't traveled much east of the Rockies--small states confound me) and not so big that she wouldn't want to put it up on her wall (not everyone has the same more-is-more philosophy I have about wall decor), so I decided the final product would be in a 10 inch hoop.

I started with my favorite states--which would include Arizona and Montana so this photo isn't a total representation--(I bought this print at a craft fair last month) and headed east.

The reason North Dakota looks so weird is because putting the fabric in a smaller hoop can warp the threads. I don't like having to embroider something in a smaller hoop but the tension can be much better.

I decided to put the abbreviations of the states Jenny's yet to visit. I've got to say, this project really helped refresh my memory of the size and location of the states.

I wanted to put some kind of title on the piece to explain what it is for anyone who sees it in Jenny's house, and I came up with what I consider a fairly clever phrase:

For the titles I used one of those ombre-changing color flosses.

After I gave it to Jenny on Christmas morning, she confirmed what I suspected--there were a few in the midwest that she's been to that I missed! So next time I'm over there I'll need to bring some floss to fill them in. I tried to make each state a different color, but within a more muted, neutral palate. Oh, and I accidently filled in Delaware, but it's so freaking SMALL no one notices.

Snapshots From Italy: Part III


2015 Christmas Photo


The plan this year was to go easy on the pets, which meant no costumes or special poses (for them). All they would need to do was let me hold them for a few seconds...but together.

The difficulty lay in the fact that the only ones who hang out together are Oz and Norm, and they are both wary of Mulder and Stevie. Plus, I wasn't going to look or smell familiar to them because the plan was to do a 'Photo with Santa.'

That's me and my sister on my very first Christmas. I actually don't think any of our family's Santa photos featured the classic 'traumatized child' but I was pretty confident that my pets would be up to the task.

Despite my attempts to make this year's photo easier for the pets, I knew it was going to be difficult for me and family helpers. First I had to find a Santa costume that met my expectations--you know, something with old-world Father Christmas details that would cost me an arm and leg and yet ironically end up totally hidden from view in the final photo. 

My parents let me transform their family room into a mall Santa's winter backdrop, my dad was at the camera, and my sister Jenny and brother-in-law Matt wrangled the two most wiggly pets: Norm and Oz. I had confined them both in a bathroom, and sent Jenny and Matt to get them. Meanwhile, I grabbed the two more docile animals, Stevie and Mulder:

Unfortunately my beard and Mulder are the same color, so I should have placed him on the outside.

(Costume note: I foolishly didn't try on the costume until the night before the photo shoot, and if I had done so sooner, I might have been able to lengthen the pants and better attach the boot cuffs. Of course, the boots didn't even show up in the final photo!)

Then Jenny and Matt arrived with Norm and Oz, and it was go time. I COMPLETELY forgot to make a face for the camera and spent the whole time trying to talk the animals into staying in my lap. Just in case you were wondering why my eyes look a little...lifeless. Honestly, I'm amazed I remembered to even look at the camera.

We got about 3 or 4 shots total before Norm escaped--which tends to be the pattern every year. He is most wriggly, silky cat; he can get out every grip (except the one my sister finally used: the classic scruff-of-the-neck. Even though they were grabbed that way by their mom's teeth as kittens/puppies, I can't bring myself to ever hold them that way--unless it's time to get in their carrier). 

But then Norm made his great escape, and Oz was quick to follow!

I cut the photos pretty small for my Christmas cards, which meant the full backdrop got mostly cut out. Next year the plan is to join the rest of the world in printing photo cards, instead of putting photos in traditional cards. While I love the idea of a little 3x4 living on someone's fridge year round, I think photo cards will ultimately save me money (boxes of cards + photo prints + stamps for an over 200 person Christmas card list can add up quickly), and will allow me to showcase these types of outtakes as well.

Here's the final photo that went out!

I loved this one best because of Oz's face, Stevie's feet and paw on Oz's head, Norm's action shot, and poor Mulder stuck in the middle of the chaos.

I hope you all had Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays!

#156: Closer by Joy Division


Closer by Joy Division (1980)

Favorite Tracks: "Passover" and "Twenty Four Hours"

Thoughts: (Before Listening) So I THINK back in the day my friend Erin had me watch Control (2007) and I remember nothing about it other than the fact that it was in black and white and sad. I know Joy Division is a super-revered Indie (?) band. This is their second and final studio album released the summer after lead singer Ian Curtis' suicide. Their biggest hit was the single "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and every time I try to remember it I just end up singing Captain and Tenille (which I'm sure Joy Division song is a reference to).

So based off my limited knowledge of the band and their discography, you can tell I'm going into Closer with a pretty blank slate. Here goes.

(After Listening) On "Atrocity Exhibition" I absolutely loved the percussion, hated the distorted guitar, but apparently that was a post-production choice and Peter Hook (who played it) hated how it turned out too: "Made it sound like somebody strangling a cat, and to my mind, absolutely killed the song." I concur!

When I saw that the next track was called "Isolation" this song popped into my head:

I expected to like the Boosh's version better than Joy Division's, but they are both great! Loved the keyboard on the latter.

The beginning of "Passover" was reminiscent of a Bruce Springsteen song, so you know I was down for that. "Colony" reminded me of Talking Heads, again I was a fan of the percussion, as well as the lyrics: God in his wisdom made you understand, God in his wisdom took you by the hand. "A Means to an End" was fine as well, but not very distinguishable from the previous tracks, in my opinion.

"Heart and Soul" was a moody, darker song that I enjoyed--again with the percussion! Easily my favorite part of this album is the drums. But man, from second 0:01 I liked "Twenty Four Hours." The guitar riffs are awesome, slowly building to a faster tempo, and the lyrics are just the kind I like. You know, hopeless and despairing!
Excessive flashpoints, beyond all reach,
Solitary demands for all I'd like to keep.
Let's take a ride out, see what we can find,
A valueless collection of hopes and past desires.
"The Eternal" is another nice moody song, as was "Decades", which I felt had a more 80s pop sensibility to it.

Is This Better Than Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy?: The drums were excellent, the lyrics thoughtful, and the tone intriguing. But it didn't engage me in the same way CFATBDC did!

Snapshots from Italy: Part II


I didn't want to post too many so as to seem like I was bragging/showing off, but I've had one request for more and God knows that's all the requests I need for a new blog post.

I was thinking today about the movie While You Were Sleeping and how Lucy's biggest dream is to go to Florence, and how it used to make me think "I'm never going to go to Florence" AND THEN I DID. (Thanks to my parents.)

Currents, January 2016

Resolutions: Find alternate forms of secondary income (such fun!), learn how to drive stick, and improve my grammar & spelling.

Project: I made my sister an embroidery piece for Christmas which I plan to post about ASAP! Also, I made a curtain-skirt that hangs under my kitchen sink! Owning a sewing machine makes (my) life so much easier.

TV Shows: Oh boy, I watched all the American Pickers available on Netflix and while it looks like a fun job I would NEVER pick the junk they get money for, and would probably only find stuff from the 70s/80s that no one else would want. But it made me feel like much less of a hoarder, so that's good! I watched all of Making a Murderer, and like, I was underwhelmed? It was not nearly as compelled as I was by Serial and The Jinx. Maybe it was too many episodes? Finally, I know I told everyone how excited I was about The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, but the late show really charming my pants off is The Late Late Show with James Corden! I'm not sure if it's that I'm having a hard time with Stephen being out of his Colbert Report persona, or he is.

Movie: The one everyone is talking about!

Food: I've been making Chex party mix non-stop since Christmas.

Celebrity Crush:
(The dudes are cute, but I'm mostly into their sweaters.)

Book: Got some great books for Christmas, including ones from my mom that instruct you on how to make your home more cat-friendly! Trying to do that on a tight budget should be interesting...

Indulgence: If you follow my Instagram you know the answer is posting photos of baby Arne.

Fashion: Trying to figure out how to rock a 40s style/Rosie the Riveter-esque bandana/headscarf.

Music: Lately I've been listening to Sandra McCracken's Psalms before going to bed or reading poetry.

Wishlist: This bonkers-level of expensive automatic litter box.

Reminder: "No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. Or you don’t." - Stephen King, The Stand

Var glad, var glad, var glad i din Herre och Gud!


So I definitely meant to post these before Christmas, but that month was nuts and so now I'm doing blog catch-up on all these posts I wanted to do in 2015! Blogging more is always a resolution of mine, but it comes in waves like anything else, depending on how crazy life/work is at the moment. So even though these pics are super-Christmassy, I still have my tree and decorations up (fingers crossed for having them down by next week) so I'm gonna post them anyway.

I always sit in the same section of the church for Julfest, which means my photos always look the same, so I'm not sure why I keep posting them, other than the fact that they make me happy. And this year the pics feature the darling cherub that is Arne, my friends' Jo and Lee's new kid. God Jul! (A little late.)

Arne was super into this paper plate:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reactions (No spoilers before the cut!)

My two viewing's worth two cents!