Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bemoaning Big Boots

I have just one pair of knee high boots that I adore (in fact they’re my only pair of boots). I bought them four years ago; I wasn’t looking for a pair of boots, just merely stumbled upon them. I would pass this shoe store on the way to work and would do the Walk and Stare. (You know, when you see something beautiful in a store window and your eyes lock onto it and you can’t look away as you’re walking past it, so you bend your head as far back as it can go before you finally have to snap your head forward again.) I passed these boots many times until I couldn’t resist it any longer and finally went into the store. I was almost afraid to see the boots up close because I thought for sure that they would be outlandishly expensive…but they weren’t. I tried them on and instantly knew that I had to have them.

Had I known then how hard it was to find a pair of boots I love, I would have stocked up. Yet I was naive; I didn’t realize my luck at the time. I’ve worn my beloved boots over the years and taken good care of them, and while they still look great, they’ve become no longer waterproof. This is a major problem. I can only wear them on dry days, and most of the cold months in Oregon are also rainy ones. So it sucks. I still wear them, but I can’t wear them as much as I would like.

Thus, I’ve been on the lookout for new boots for the last couple of years but I’ve had so many disappointments. Often the cute boots I see online don’t match my expectations when I see them in the store. The leather doesn’t feel that great or looks cheap. Last year the pair of boots I had high hopes for disappointed me with a two inch wide strip of elastic that ran down the entire height of the boot, which was incredibly ugly and cheapened the entire boot. Lately my biggest problem is that the boots are meant for those with wider legs.

I realize that shoe companies are trying to reach the broadest audience possible by having wider fitting boots so that they can sell more, but I’m struggling to find a pair of boots that I want and will fit me. It’s frustrating because I don’t think I’m terribly thin, I’m rather average in size. (I guess I’m on the thinner size in the U.S.—but that’s not saying much; if I were in Asia I would be on the larger size and could probably stand to lose a few kilos). But it seems like more often than not, when I try on a pair of boots, I look like a child in her mother’s shoes…it looks terrible.

It just seems like there should be different options for the leg widths of knee high boots. I’m sure it’s not as cost effective to have more than one leg width of boot for a single boot style, but one size is not going to fit all. There’s different shoes sizes for the actual foot, what about for the leg part? Because I don’t want my legs to be swimming in a pair of boots; and I’m not going to buy a pair a boots that aren’t going to fit me properly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Wait to See Problems

Sometimes it feels like it takes forever to finish something…like my Fairy Tale 2013 Calendar/Post Card Set. I started brainstorming for my Make Something Present for this year around April, and I decided I wanted to do something with fairy tales. I focused on the morals of fairy tales—or at least the morals I take from them now (and some I took more liberties with than others). I sketched different layouts and selected my favorites to create drawings for.

I started off strong. I had a basic idea of how I wanted my design to look; I decided early on that I just wanted the fairy tale characters to be white silhouettes because they’re simple and I wanted them to stand out against a color-filled background. I did initial layouts for many of the fairy tales pretty quickly…and then I walked away from it for a while. Partly because I wasn’t happy with the layouts I had, but mostly because I had reached a design wall and I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to fix it.

My initial layouts were not unlike my Retro Fake Ad Calendar with the image and calendar on a single sheet, but I eventually came to the conclusion that it might be best to send my design to a printer considering how ink heavy the design was. However, if I did that then I wanted my design to be separate from the calendar part (as a calendar only has a small window that it’s useful for).

So I stepped away from my fairy tale project because I needed space to let my mind rest…a solution would come to me in time. And in the meantime I felt like doing other things (like sewing). Intermittently I would go back to my fairy tale project and eventually came to a decision about what I wanted to do: I would create fairy tale post cards that would adhere to a separate sheet with a calendar printed on it.

Originally I wanted to be done with this project by the beginning of August…but that didn’t happen. I kept seeing things I was unsatisfied with—big and little things. I redrew many of my drawings because something would bother me about them. I shifted things around and changed textures and colors until I finally got done with it at the end of August.

It’s hard to stop looking for things to fix. I expect to see problems. I wait to see problems. I stare at it until I can see what’s wrong, because the worst thing is to have something printed and then to see something blatantly wrong. There’s nothing more frustrating than a problem that you’re unable to fix. So it took me a while to finish this project because I couldn’t stop staring. I stared until I couldn’t stand it anymore—and that’s when I finally sent it to print.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fairy Tale 2013 Calendar/Post Card Set

Most everyone grows up with fairy tales in some variation or another because they not only entertain children, they often have morals attached to them. They’re an ingrained part of our culture; they’re in our books, movies, advertisements, and often alluded to in everyday life.

In my post card set, I drew selected fairy tales that each contains a moral that I take from that story.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Needle Earring

As the needle in your sewing machine becomes dull, you're supposed to replace it, and I try to do so after every project or two. So I’ve already thrown away used needles a few times. But a couple of weeks ago I was about to throw one away when I stopped and actually looked at it; it had a nice shape to it and I thought I could use it for something. The eye of the needle could be used to attach it to something and I realized that I could easily create an earring with it.

To connect the needle to a jump ring, I decided on using metal wire to thread through the eye of the needle; it’s a fairly small hole so I used a 32 gauge wire to fit through it. I cut a piece of wire about four inches in length and thread it through the eye of the needle. With the needle about two inches into the wire, I looped the wire around it to stabilize it and then created two loops that could be used to connect it to a jump ring. Then I wrapped each of the wire ends entirely around the needle and I pressed down the wire ends so they wouldn’t stick out. Finally, I connected the needle’s loop to a jump ring, and connected that to an earring hook and was finished.

I used more wire than truly necessary to secure the loop, but I was also trying to make sure that the sharp point of the needle was underneath the loops of wire. The earring is simple as-is, but I think it could be interesting to add some other elements to it (like beads or charms). But overall I think it’s a nice earring and a good reuse of something I would’ve otherwise thrown away.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It’s Just You and Me Spider

I am not a lover of bugs and spiders and suspect that I’m in the majority with my distaste of them. While not excited, I expect to see them out in nature; their home is in the great outdoors and I do little to disturb them there. However, I do not like finding them in my home. I don’t want them invading my space—and I will kill them for the intrusion.

One of the nice things about living in Oregon is that the weather is fairly temperate, and while the summer can get hot, it’s generally not super hot and humid. Therefore the spiders here do not grow to those enormous sizes found in their counterparts in humid parts of the world—where creepy crawly things seem to be on steroids. I usually only have to deal with the small round black spiders that while creepy, aren’t super creepy.

So I was surprised the other day when I saw a big creepy spider (maybe two inches wide) with long spindly legs on my ceiling. I glanced up and at first it didn’t register that it was a spider due to its size, so when I finally realized that it was, I was frustrated that it was so high up that I couldn’t reach to kill it. I had to leave it alone, and that made me quite uncomfortable because I knew that it would be roaming freely in and out of rooms and I could do nothing to stop it. [Pause.] But I knew that we would inevitably meet again.

A few days later I happened to look up and there the spider was, on the bathroom ceiling. Startled, I couldn’t help but jump a couple feet back (as it truly was a terrifying size). I approached it slowly, determined not to let it get away this time. I sprayed it with some bug spray, which slowed it down enough so I could crush it with my shoe. I don’t revel in killing spiders (in fact I rather loathe it), but I am relieved once the deed is done.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pretty in Pink

I’ve had a sort of love/hate relationship with the color pink over the years. As a child I loved pink. Bubblegum pink, pastel pink and hot pink all drew my eye; I wanted to be dressed in pink, I wanted my toys to be pink and if given a color choice I preferred pink. Then I hit my tween years and suddenly pink was stupid—it was too girly and too childish. For years I avoided pink altogether; it didn’t matter what type of pink it was, if it was pink then I wanted no part of it.

I’ve finally hit a middle ground with pink and I like some pinks. I doubt pink will ever again be my favorite color, but there are times when I like certain pinks for certain things. I prefer roses, blushes and dusky pinks and I’m apt to be drawn to clothing in those more subdued pink tones.

I picked up some dusky pink sateen and decided to make a jacket with it. It was my first time sewing a jacket and putting in sleeves, and overall it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it’d be.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Convenience is Convenient

I can’t really remember the last time I bought anything at a convenience store in the U.S. As a kid, I went every so often (mostly in the summer) for a slushie. But since then I haven’t really had any reason to go; convenience stores aren’t particularly plentiful nor conveniently close to where I am and they’re usually filled with items that I’m not terribly interested in.

However, in Japan I went to convenience stores all the time because they were quite convenient. They were everywhere. In urban areas they were on every street corner, and sometimes even in the middle of nowhere there would be a lone convenience store waiting for you like an oasis in the desert. I loved Japanese convenience stores because they were filled with interesting items, like seasonal junk food or limited-time only beverages. I rarely bought the truly odd items (as I had little desire to actually consume them), but I would indulge in seaweed potato chips or spicy ramen snacks, and would often get bottled tea or coffee.

Mostly I liked and would buy their prepared food, some of it was seasonal (like oden in the winter), but much of it was just ordinary meals—and each convenience store chain had their own take on it. There were bento boxes with rice and something fried, noodles, salads and sandwiches. But my go-to food was rice balls. In any convenience store there was an entire section dedicated to rice balls filled with different vegetables or seafood, and I had my favorites (salmon and pickled plum…yum). Because sometimes you just wanted something that was fast, easy, healthy and good. [Pause.] I really miss those cheap rice balls. And I really miss the convenience of Japanese convenience stores.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It’s Déjà Vu (I Knew I Liked You)

Pretty much any TV show you could possibly imagine is on DVD or online for your viewing pleasure (which can be somewhat overwhelming at times). There are so many options available, but sometimes watching something that you once loved but haven’t seen in years is what you want—something nostalgic. Something good. And although the TV show is blurry in your mind like a dream that you can’t quite remember, you know it was a good dream and want to remember it.

Past-loved TV shows only accumulate with time, as what was once new ends and is replaced by shiny newer TV shows. Many of these past-loved TV shows I could recite the basic premise to, but over the years have pretty much forgotten everything about them (including major story arcs and important characters). So while there was some familiarity about certain episodes, overall I’d forgotten enough to make the series feel fresh and new—like I was watching it again for the first time.

Not everything you once loved is worth loving. Every so often your memory deceives you. You recall certain TV shows from childhood with great affection only to watch them again when you’re older and you can’t help but think, “Why did I like this? I didn’t think I was a particularly dimwitted child, but maybe I was and just didn’t realize it…” It’s disappointing when you realize that not everything you loved was in good taste and that your love for it was misplaced. [Sigh.] But I think for the most part my original positive assessments of my past-loved TV shows remains true; and watching them again with fresh eyes, I still find them funny and interesting with characters I enjoy watching—and it’s still awesome. I knew I liked these TV shows for a reason and I was right to like them.