Saturday, December 28, 2013

Word of the Day Exercise: Week Four

This past week my timing seemed off because of Christmas and I felt a bit discombobulated, but I managed to finish drawing my word each day. I’m nearing the end of my month-long exercise of drawing the Word of the Day, and a part of me is sad and a part of me is relieved. Only three more days to go…

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Label Me

I keep more stuff than I ought to because I often see an item’s “potential”. I generally look at something and think, “I can use this in some way…someday” [although, to be honest I usually don’t get around to using those items any time soon and they just sit around waiting to be used. (Sigh.)] But I finally got around to using some spice jars that had been accumulating.

There are basically two ways to buy spices: in prepackaged bottles or in bulk. I have bought prepackaged spice jars, in part because of the options available in a store and in part because of convenience. There are plastic bottles and glass ones, and while I’ve bought both in the past, I like the glass ones and tend to keep them. Since I’ve accumulated some glass jars, I now feel more apt to get spices from the bulk section of a supermarket that I can refill my jars with.

So I washed my old spice jars out and removed the labels. Then I used a piece of black linen tape as my base (to create a border) and placed a white piece of artist tape (with the name already written on it) on top of it. I think I should be able to remove the white tape if I need to re-label the jar (or at the very least I could just put another piece of tape on top of it).

Besides using empty spice jars for spices, they’re good for holding other small items, like paper clips, tacks and beads—pretty much anything small or sharp that you want to keep a lid on.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Word of the Day Exercise: Week Three

Another week of my Word of the Day exercise is finished. My resolve to draw each word each day has remained steady for 21 days straight. I did make one edit after the fact because I’d made an error. (It was only a matter of time before I caught a mistake, and perhaps there are others, but I saw this one before I posted it so I changed it). I’m not sure why, but I’d spelled “midriff” with two d’s (which isn’t right), so I fixed it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Satin Trimmed Dress

I had this dress pattern I thought I could simplify by making less pieces and using bias tape to finish edges.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Word of the Day Exercise: Week Two

I have more of a rhythm now for drawing the Word of the Day. I like to look at what the Word of the Day is shortly after I wake up and let it sink in. Although sometimes an idea instantly pops into my head, other times I’m a bit perplexed of what I should do and so I like to give myself some time for my subconscious to come up with an answer. Then during my lunch break or later in the evening I’ll draw the word for that day.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I’m Not a Polar Bear

Usually our winters in the Pacific Northwest are fairly mild…it gets cold but not this cold. Lately we’ve been having very cold weather (although we’re not alone in these Arctic-like conditions that have been happening across the U.S.). I don’t enjoy these frigid days where the high temperature may reach a balmy 32 degrees. The weather does not create much motivation for me to step outside; I just want to stay indoors and stay warm and hibernate.

But I keep telling myself that it’s fine. It’s fine if it’s cold as long as it’s not snowy and icy out—that’s my only wish because snow and ice just makes everything so difficult. Last Friday it snowed a bit and suddenly it was like I was in the middle of some disaster movie. Driving to work was like being in the middle of the grand exodus out of the city where the highways are like unending parking lots…it was torturous.

All it takes is just a smattering of snow to create havoc. So all I want is no snow so there’s no havoc. Or if it does snow, could it possibly happen on the weekend so I don’t have to commute in it? So I don’t have to crawl in traffic at a snail’s speed and I don’t have the anxiety of driving in snow. [Pause.] That would be great.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Word of the Day Exercise: Week One

So far I’ve been successful with my exercise of drawing the Word of the Day each day (with a one-hour time limit). I haven’t cheated (and done two words in a day) and I haven’t had any resentful feelings like I have to draw the latest Word of the Day. I actually like it; I look forward to seeing what the new Word of the Day is each day. Sometimes I instantly have an idea of what I want to draw and other times it is more of a struggle…but I always finish.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It Almost Fits…

Recently I went thrift shopping and I did something dumb: I bought something that was too small for me. I’d never done it before but I couldn’t resist; it wasn’t like they had it in another size. It was that size or nothing (and I didn’t want nothing).

The item in question was a pair of wool culottes…and it took me by surprise; because it looked like a skirt and it was in the skirt section, but when I tried them on I realized they were pants. Generally I’m not very interested in culottes (in fact, I don’t think I’ve even owned a pair…ever), but for whatever reason, these particular ones spoke to me.

My first impression of the culottes was that of a vintage German military uniform; I think it was the little brass buttons and the decorative detail in the front that felt a bit militaristic to me. I could tell right away that it was a well-made garment (it’s made by the Austrian brand Geiger). The fabric’s a combination of wool and lambswool that at first I thought was blue, but later in different light I realized it was purple (although either way I liked the color). I also loved the pleating and the fact it had pockets (pockets are always difficult for me to resist).

So I was incredibly disappointed when these culottes didn’t fit me. I put them aside to try on other clothing items, but then when I finished, I went back to the culottes and tried them on again [as if they would magically fit me (Sigh.)]. They almost fit; so then I went into “can I alter them to fit me” thoughts, and although it would be a pain, maybe, just maybe I could change the seam allowance to fit me. I wasn’t sure if it was a thought of folly or if I would actually follow through…but I bought them anyway. [Pause.] So far it’s been folly since I haven’t made any attempt to alter them. [Sigh.]

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Word of the Day: Fuliginous

I thought it would be a fun exercise to draw a Word of the Day (from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary) in a way that reflects the meaning or feeling of that word. I enjoy language and words, and the English language is vast and there’s a ton of words that I don’t know what they mean (let alone exist).

For the month of December I’m going to try and draw each Word of the Day everyday. Because this is just an exercise, I’m going to limit my drawing time to one hour maximum (and if I’m honest, it’ll likely be less than that on average). So some words may look a bit more finished than others, although all will look quite rough. I don’t have any rules for drawing the word; it can be a mix of typography and pictures; I can add notes or thoughts—basically I can do whatever I feel like doing within my limited time frame.

I chose “fuliginous” as an example word because it had a fairly easy and tangible meaning (and one that wasn’t too difficult to draw). Once December starts I won’t have a choice, and will randomly be assigned a word—and some words will likely be easier to draw then others. My plan is to build up a week’s worth of words and post it on the weekend. I think (or rather hope) it’ll be a fun daily exercise…but only time will tell.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Good and Easy Cook Book

At an estate sale (different than the one I got the letterpress letters at), I found an old Betty Crocker cookbook from 1954, where the focus was on cooking easy and delicious meals. I thought the cover was cute and I liked the simple illustrations throughout the inside of the book as well…so I bought it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Letterpress Letters

Recently I went to an estate sale that had a lot of paper goods (e.g. old books, magazines, posters and other paper paraphernalia), as well as old designer items. I’m sure it was pretty picked over by the time I got there, but I did get some wooden letterpress letters that I thought were cute.

There letterpress letters were in boxes that were pretty grimy; there was a layer of dust and ink residue on the letters (so my hands were rather black by the time I was through handling them). There were different sizes of letters, some fairly small (around an inch high), while others were larger (around four inches high). So it was difficult to find letters in the same height, and there was definitely a surplus of certain letters, while others were practically non-existent.

My main plan was to have the letters “X” and “O”, but somewhere along the way (after I’d paid for them), I lost my “O.” [Pause.] Super lame. Oh well. [Sigh.]

In addition, I picked up a metal letterpress piece. There were boxes of these too, likely for advertisement (I saw logos and vintage clip art). I picked out a discount stamp that I thought was pretty cute. Once again, I don’t need any of this stuff, but I do think they’re interesting.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

No Fishing Zone

Fishing for compliments is a sport that never seems to satisfy because you’re angling for compliments that might not otherwise be given. That coerced compliment doesn’t mean much; it basically means that the other person was nice enough to verbally give you what you want to hear…it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true.

When someone is obviously fishing for a compliment, my natural inclination is not to give it. Maybe that sounds cold, but if I give a compliment under emotional duress then it just reinforces to that person that fishing for compliments gets them results (and then they’re more likely to repeat this fishing expedition with me in the future). And I’m not interested in giving compliments when they’re not freely given.

Compliments shouldn’t be sought out, they should be unexpected surprises; something out of the blue that is true and sincere. Because when you fish for compliments, you’re fishing in shallow waters, and anything you catch probably lacks substance. And really, doesn’t that fishing seem like a lot of work just to pull out a compliment from another? It’s just better all-around for that fish to jump right out of the water and directly into your hands with no effort from you at all…now that’s my kind of fishing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Give Them My Best

One social nicety I’ve never really cared about giving or receiving is the “give them my best” message. Every so often someone will tell me that so-and-so gives me “their best” and I never have a response to that other than “okay, thanks.” I mean we don’t go around wishing people the worst; so it kind of goes with out saying that people generally want the best for others.

Sometimes someone will tell me to give this message of goodwill to another and I nod and say “okay”…but I’m lying; I don’t relay that message. No one knows one way or another if I give that message, and to me it’s an unnecessary message. It’s like getting a generic “thinking of you” card with a signature; there’s no personalization to the message, just a somewhat thoughtful yet bland gesture.

To me, this gesture of goodwill is a throwback to when people didn’t have direct means of communication (I’m thinking Laura Ingalls’ time when people lived miles apart). When people were unable to call others on the phone (let alone email), so having a third-party relay messages made more sense (because that actually would be the quickest way to give another their regards).

But now we do have many means of communication, so anyone can give anyone else “their best” without someone else (e.g. me) being in the middle of it. I’m not a message board to give and retrieve messages (and let’s be honest, I’m a terribly unreliable message board at that). So if you want to give someone your best, then go ahead and do it directly to that person and cut the middleman out.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

That’s the End?

Sometimes the end of an interesting movie or book seems to come suddenly…and with little satisfaction. There are of course rare times where this is kind of ending is appropriate and makes sense (at least to me), but most of the time it frustrates me and I just throw my hands in the air and say “What! That’s it?"

It’s really disappointing when an ending feels unresolved because you’ve invested time and energy into seeing how a character and story develops so you want to feel as though that time was worth it, but instead you feel gypped. Betrayed that your expectations of a satisfying ending were dashed, and that you’re only left with a hollow feeling of discontent.

With a bad from the beginning movie or book, I’ll quickly realize I don’t want any part of it and will set it aside before I waste too much of my time. But a seemingly good movie or book with a bad ending is like a bait-and-switch, because you were prepared to enjoy the story all the way through but instead you’re given an ending that sours the entire story (and even when you recall it later, what stays in your mind is how disappointed in the ending you were). It’s like finishing a delicious meal with a dessert that leaves a bitter aftertaste—and you just can’t seem to get rid of that bad aftertaste.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Does This Make Me Look Fat? ...Probably.

Some questions are better left unasked, like “Does this make me look fat?” First off, it’s a poorly phrased question that immediately brings to mind the “fatness” level of a person (which isn’t necessarily the reason why something looks good on someone or not). The question should be: “Is this flattering on me?” Because it’s the cut of the garment and how it fits on you that makes all the difference of whether or not it looks good.

“Does this make me look fat?” is a question no one wants to answer because it’s a dumb question. You just can’t win. If they look terrible, do you tell them? Or do you lie and “spare their feelings,” even though that doesn’t really help them at all (it just helps you avoid an unpleasant conversation). And even if they happen to look great and you tell them so, often they just don’t believe you because they’ve already made up their mind…and usually it’s not good.

When people love what they’re wearing they don’t ask: “Does this make me look fat?” because they know they look fantastic. They tend to ask this dreaded question when they already think they look bad in something. So instead of asking someone else whether a garment makes you look fat, just look in the mirror and decide for yourself whether you feel comfortable and think it looks good (since after all it’s only you that’ll be wearing it). Because no one enjoys answering the rigged question of “Does this make me look fat?” And you don’t really want to hear, “Yes, it does.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

DIY: Paper Fan Flower Ornament

This ornament is based upon the Paper Fan Flower I created for packaging decoration. It’s simple and can add a pop of color as a Christmas tree ornament or as party decorations hung on the wall or hung from the ceiling.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

DIY: Glitter Christmas Ornament

Used gift cards are made of a sturdy material so they’re a good base for glue and glitter. This is a simple and inexpensive Christmas ornament to make and I think the glitter helps make it feel quite festive.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Idiom Postcard Set

I love idioms; they’re like a coded part of language in that they often stem from historical or pop-culture references specific to that country. Even native speakers of a country are unlikely to know all idiom references for that country (especially if they’re more regional or they pertain to a specific time period).

Idioms are such an ingrained part of culture that mean so much with so few words—and everyone uses them. They’re in our everyday conversations, in TV commercials and TV shows, in songs and books—they’re pretty much inescapable. Everyday I must hear and use idioms dozens of times because using idioms are often a short cut to what you’re trying to say (assuming that all parties have knowledge of the meaning of that idiom). Instead of saying “You need to slow down and start enjoying life,” you can just say “Stop and smell the roses” and the underlying meaning is understood.