July 31, 2008

Sneak Peek

I've been working on a new project for a little while now. It will be done anon, but for now here are a few glimpses.

Peek 2

I really love photographing fabric up close - especially a linen canvas like this where you can see the weft and weave and the tiny dimples and divots around the pin.

Peek 1

Pinks, pale greens, warm blues. I hit on this palette sort of randomly, but I really like it. Not a big scale of course... But small dashes of color are always nice.

Peek 3

Insecty thread legs.

July 29, 2008

Extra! Extra!

Read all about it! In Craft magazine, that is.

Craft Magazine Summer 08 - Makeover feature

The new issue featuring yours truly on the last page is finally here. See that teeny tiny piece of text in bold? That's my name. Whee! I'm pretty excited about it, I have to say. I haven't gotten my copy of the magazine yet in the mail, so I had to sneakily take covert pictures of it with my phone camera in the bookstore. Oh yeah, people, I'm bad-ass.

Thank you so much to everybody that I worked with at Craft! What a fun and flattering experience.

July 28, 2008

New Bag

I bought some of this lovely batik fabric at Joann's a while ago - just a yard, because it was priced according to its aesthetic amazingness - and had no idea what to do with it. What does one do with a yard of fabric? I thought it would be enough to make a skirt... that is until I tried to wrap it around my waist and laughed ruefully at my naivete/denial. And so instead, I present to you a small tote to replace this one that recently nobly gave its life in the line of duty. The new one is lined with and has pockets from another pair of Misha's old cargo pants (it's the blue fabric that is the sides and straps also), so the tradition continues.

Batiq fabric tote

In other very exciting (you know, for me) sewing news, I finally figured out how to adjust the thread tension of my machine's bobbin case, and am thus liberated from the simultaneously unctuous and guilt-inducing ministrations of the sewing machine repair shop guy. "What kind of thread are you using in the machine? Oh, not the very cheap kind I hope. It pills, you know, and can really clog it up." "And have you been oiling this regularly? You're not sure how? Well, that's why it's better to buy in an independent shop where we host classes on how to care for your sewing equipment." Yes, thank you, I already take care of several humans and a car - I really don't need to also worry about whether I am a negligent "sewing equipment" operator.

Anyhoodle. I also just painted this stencil of Heidi and Darryel. It came out really awesome.

Oils - Heidi and Darryel

July 24, 2008

Cute Lara Doing Cute Things

So a couple of days ago we bought Lara big Legos. They are genius, and she is obsessed with building with them - and this is the girl who has never had any desire to stack blocks into towers, or even really to demolish ones we build for her. She loves loves LOVES the Legos. We love how perfect they are for little fingers and how absorbed she gets in them. To wit:

Also, this afternoon my mom and I went to see Mamma Mia. Have you seen this movie? You haven't? Ok, you need to click off my website and go buy some tickets right now. I loved it. Beyond loved it - I honestly wanted to buy another ticket and go see the next showing of it as soon as it ended. It's just perfect - warm, kind, funny, and with the added delight of seeing extremely talented middle-aged people clearly having a good time acting together. Plus the music is just wonderful - all the best Abba! And who doesn't love Abba? Not Lara, who danced up a storm to the soundtrack I purchased instantly upon returning home:

A day of delights.

July 22, 2008

Yay Day

Last weekend we went to a birthday party and Lara got to wear this new cute dress. No, not my work - we have the good people at Target to thank for this adorableness. Man, I love that store. Lara wasn't too into the party, but she did love this labyrinth on the Smith Playhouse grounds:


Later in the weekend, as Misha was carrying her home from the car, Lara patted him on the shoulder and said, "You my best friend." I'm guessing he had to be scooped up off the floor after melting from that one. I think it may have even made up for the hey-I'm-a-toddler-and-can't-be-reasoned-with-and-also-I-have-a-fever-for-some-mysterious-reason-whee! show that Lara put on for him while my mom and I were away. Their weekend sounded as if those terrible comedies where the dad gets left home with the kids and all hell breaks loose were actually documentaries.

Today everything is back to normal. Lara directed traffic as we drove around - "These cars go that way. Those cars go this way. This red car go over here. That car is blue." - and after her cuteness earned her special treatment in the cell phone store in the form of balloons, she serenaded another girl there with the birthday song.

July 19, 2008

Crackle Painting

Betty's family

This is a fun one. I like that unintentional crackle effect in her hair - kind of adds the curls back into the stencil.


My mom and I are off to Boston for a couple of days, so no posts till we get back most likely. Have a great weekend all!

July 18, 2008

Fun New Things

I keep meaning to show you some fun new things we bought this summer. First, from the only craft fair I got to go to, Art Star Craft Bazaar here in Philly, a dandelion tank top by SuperMaggie. In a really cute detail, there are a few dandelion seeds stencilled onto the back of the shirt as well, as though they blew over the shoulder. Perfect.

Dandelion Tee by SuperMaggie

Incidentally, taking a break from my usual misanthropy, I actually chatted with the SuperMaggie duo, and they were totally lovely people.

Then, a couple of lovely presents from Misha for... Mother's Day? Our anniversary? Well, something - one of those many spring occasions that are very close together. The panda print is by Creative Thursday and the one of the girl sewing up a quilted castle is by Johanna Wright. Lara's interpretation of the latter? "That's a Christmas tree! And that's mommy brushing my hair."

Panda and Quilt Castle Etsy prints

I hung them on the wall by stealing this pants-hanger idea from Apartment Therapy's ohdeedoh. I feel like it needs one more print to look less random on the wall.

And finally as a memento of our San Francisco trip, we have this cool painting entitled (what else?) "Cow", by Georgianne Fastaia. I love the way it has exactly the same palette as the Ladensen collages, but its medium and execution is so wildly different. Really makes me happy to look at it on the wall every day.

Cow painting by Georgianne Fastaia

July 16, 2008


When do children start to understand the idea of dreams? That they see images when they sleep - images that are part of an altered state of consciousness, that feel real but aren't actually happening? Many of Lara's books feature characters dreaming, a plot point usually illustrated by thought bubbles coming out of the head of a sleeping figure. But interpreting this image seems more akin to learning that a stick figure with down-turned eyebrows signifies anger and that wavy lines drawn around a body part represent movement - in other words, learning about thought bubbles in illustrations is more closely related to reading, to slowly internalizing the abstract squiggles we use as notation. How would a child connect that to what is happening in sleep?

I have memories of childhood dreams - a recurring nightmare and a recurring happy flying dream - but clearly to have a memory of telling someone else about them I must have been much older than Lara is. Of course I have no sense of when I learned that however scary or exhilarating, they weren't experiential. Was there ever a time when I woke and thought that I had actually been flying?

Recently we started asking Lara, "Did you have any dreams? What did you dream about?" as part of her waking-up routine. For a long time - maybe a month? - her answer was a repeated "I dreamed about bones!" We can't exactly figure out where she got this, but it seemed somehow related to Lady and the Tramp, which she saw the day before the first "bone dream", and the scene of Jock hastily burying his bones in the ground before Lady sees where his hiding spot is. I think we were so excited to have her say she dreamed about anything that she then decided this was the right answer to the question. You know, along the lines of "How are you?" "I'm fine." - just something you say. Then I think as she got more of a sense of the word "about" as it relates to stories and books, so she would sometimes answer, "I dreamed about Mommy!" or another person. Today, after a couple of weeks of having no answer at all, she said, "I dreamed about doggies," which made me to wonder - at what point is she actually remembering a dream she had? Maybe she really did dream about doggies this time?

July 15, 2008

Matryoshka Dolls

My mom brought these great nesting dolls from Moscow for Lara - and they were quite the big hit. Lara likes opening them up and saying, "Another one!" We did, however, have to confiscate the smaller ones (there are ten, and the innermost one is less than an inch tall!) because Lara's habit of chewing on stuff and the balsa-esque wood they are made out of don't mix too well.

I really love their super-traditional look, with those pink circle cheeks and garlands of roses. They are made exactly the way I remember from childhood, down to the fact that all of them are wearing these garland-aprons except the very smallest matryoshka, which is the baby and is thus drawn just swaddled in a yellow blanket.

July 14, 2008

Ties into headbands for my mom

Ties made into headbands

These were a big hit, so I just made my mommy some more, this time out of ties. These tie ones took much longer than the cotton ones since I have no idea how to sew silk with a machine and thus did them by hand... there must be some kind of secret foot to deal with the slippery material, right?

In any case, the added fun this time is that my mommy is actually here now, and so I have the pleasure of seeing her wear the headbands as soon as I snip the last thread. There is so much joy in making things for other people - especially things that will get used. Not to offend any crafters out there, but I often see people making things that just seem unnecessary to me - very elaborate, but functionless objects that clearly took enormous talent and energy but will most likely just sit in the corner of someone's room. I try very hard to limit the scope of my creations to the needed, or at least the wanted and useful; frequently I have to remind myself that just because I can make something, doesn't mean I should.

My quibble I guess is with the idea that just being handmade somehow imbues an object with greater value, however valueless it is otherwise. On the Craftster boards, for instance, there is much complaining about those people who do not appreciate handmade presents, but when I try to check out what the posters make as often as not I find bottles of colored sand decorated with lacy ribbons, or strange tiny pillows, or shoddily sewn t-shirt bags. I would bet that a truly thoughtful handmade present - one made well and clearly geared to the recipient - will never fail. I hate the idea that it's the thought that counts, and so if you balk at the execution and follow-through you are somehow a heel.

Hmm... all this over a couple of headbands? I'm going to go eat some chocolate.

July 13, 2008

Smith Playhouse

We had a fabulous time playing with Gus, Theo, Amy, and Jonathan at the Smith Playhouse last week. The playground there is enormous and full of ingenious contraptions that I hadn't seen elsewhere.

Check out this cool swing set:

Then there was this amazing see-saw that you could stand or sit on:

And, in a more practical vein, this thing will prepare all children for a life on the high seas - It's not only a rope ladder, but a crazy merry-go-round as well. Check out Lara climbing to unfurl the mizzen for hard a-starboard. Yo-ho-ho, a pirate's life for her!

July 10, 2008


Dear Blog,

I hope you aren't feeling too abandoned. You tend to be the first thing to go when life gets overwhelming... but here is a little post to update you.

Dear friends,

I've been trying very hard to make lemonade out of the lemons life keeps piling up at our doorstep, but there are too many of them, and I really don't even like lemonade in the first place. I am trying to get back to a place where I can again keep up this happy creative space. In the meantime, a moment from a walk a few days ago:

See how Misha's arms form a throne for the little princess? If he so much as flinches to put an arm down, she grabs his elbow and yells,

"Daddy, put up your arm up up up!"