11–17 of 17 entries from the month of: February 2012

A Creative Valentine

February 13th

Valentine\'s Pencil case

Valentine\'s Pencil case

Valentine\'s Pencil case

Valentine\'s Pencil case

Valentine\'s Pencil case

Pencil cases for a few of my favorite loved little ones.

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade, Heirloom Homestead
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Momentum

February 9th

{I am stealing this blog post title from my friend Elizabeth (Mini). If you aren’t reading her blog, you should. It is some of the funniest writing on the web.}

Cold, snowy, beautiful

Last night I met friends in LoHi — oh Denver, with your bizarre naming of neighborhoods — for dinner. It’s been a cold week, so that record-breaking snowfall has turned into slush and large stretches of ice. I circled the block until voila! Amazing! There was a large spot available that I could nose into. Parallel parking isn’t among my strengths.

Okay. Driving isn’t among my strengths.

Sweet Colorado

Little did I realize any seasoned Denver driver would have seen that spot two blocks away and thought, “No way. You are never going to get out of there.”

Compare this to my, “Woohoo! Parking spot! Wait. Why won’t my car move forward? Wait. Why won’t my car back up? Wait. Why am I on a one way street with traffic barreling down on me and my car is 3 feet from the curb, now taking up two parking meters with the front left wheel stuck in a rather large pothole, while the rest of the car slides around on a block of ice?”

Contrast

Full disclosure — I’ve already received an embarrassing number of parking tickets in my few months of living in Colorado. I knew leaving my car that far from the curb — while just barely out of traffic — and taking up two meters would surely result in a series of new yellow envelopes tucked sinisterly under my windshield wipers.

So, I did what any Phoenician who can’t move her car does. I flagged down strangers and handed them my keys. I asked for help. One lovely Samaritan jumped in and spent 15 minutes trying to navigate out of the hole. Problem being, I had a car both in front and behind me. If she gunned it, she’d likely fly into one or the other. But oh, how she tried. Patiently, kindly, with my tires smoking. Yet the native Coloradoan gave up, suggesting I call a tow truck.

Brrr

Instead I filled the meter, met my friends for dinner and begged them to come with me back to the car to see if they could help. By the time we got there, the car in front had left giving me enough room to use momentum to rock the car back and forth in drive and reverse to get out of the pothole, off the ice and happily on the road home.

Needless to say, these are not issues you deal with living in the desert.

Driving home I realized this momentum maneuver is so much like writing a novel. Sometimes you get stuck. You beg strangers for help. You walk away hoping the problem resolves itself. You throw money at it. You have a stiff drink. You beg friends to listen, to look at it, to give you their opinion. And then, magically, you move backward five feet to grab the precious inch forward you are dying to gain.

~K

Posted in
Colorado, Journal, Novel
Comments (1)

Barbarita

February 8th

When I was 14, I moved to Torreon, Mexico to study my sophomore year of high school with the Rotary International program. This included living with three families during the year, and oh — learning Spanish. (Yep. If you’re a childhood friend, you are tired of hearing of Mexico. I’m sorry. I’m still talking about it.) I have no idea how my parents had the guts to leave me behind with a family they’d known for two days other than perhaps my mother really, really needed a break from her teenage daughter.

Barb + Roberta

The third family I lived with to finish the school year was the Mijares. Barbara and I had become friends at school; we swam together on the high school team and had many classes together. We also spent many, many weekends in her tiny car cruising, eating cups of elote and gossiping about boys — as high school girls did at the time. Barb was instrumental in my education of Spanish and my survival of a year away from home. Like a big sister, she wasn’t shy to tell me when to shape up, or when my much more liberal American behavior was inappropriate for the conservative Catholic environment in which I was trying to conform.

One day, likely tired of my babbling, she sat on my chest with another girlfriend and plucked my previously youthful and unwieldly eyebrows into arched submission. I cried. She told me I’d thank her later. I did. Barb taught me things about beauty, manners and grace that were simply different versions from what I’d learned at home. Truly, not a week goes by I don’t think of some bit of insight she gave me — even if at the time I couldn’t appreciate it.

Roberta

Barb and I kept in touch over the years through the occasional letter and phone call, but God bless the Interwebs reigniting our friendship. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to reconnect with many of the friends I made that year. They are now scattered across Mexico and the world — those who have been able to find employment elsewhere have. Unfortunately, the sweet town of Torreon with its cathedrals, parks, squares and Rio de Janiero-inspired Christ on the mountain, has become yet another Mexican city embroiled in cartel violence and corruption.

Bj + Braulio

And so, Barbara — with her husband and children — now lives in San Antonio, Texas, just minutes from my parents. Imagine my delight last weekend when my friend walked into the restaurant and we embraced. Within moments we were back into our gossipy sing-song Spanish groove, catching up for many lost years. Her children are adorable and her husband is someone I would have ordered for her out of a catalog. The joy in seeing her doing so well and having created such a beautiful family is unparalleled.

Barb!

There is nothing sweeter in life than picking up a friendship 15-plus years after you’ve set it down, without missing a step.

~K

Posted in
Celebrate!, Journal
Comments (4)

Quilting

February 6th

My mom is an award-winning quilter. I’ve rambled on about her amazing abilities here before. This time, I’ll let the photos do the talking. A few of her recent projects, some of which are still in the works:

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

(That colorful, shabby chic one on top is for me! Squeeee!! Love it.)

 

 

 

 

mom\'s quilting

Yeah. Can you believe that quilting? See the bird she added? She does this all on her machine, free-form.

 

 

 

mom\'s quilting

I can’t even draw lines this perfect, much less sew them.

 

 

 

 

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

The applique quilt is simply gorgeous.

 

 

mom\'s quilting

These squares are coming together for a quilt. I cannot get over the precision required.

 

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

mom\'s quilting

Yeah. If only these skills were genetic.

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade, Journal
Comments (9)

Timing

February 5th

As the winds of a snowfall that broke a century-old reocord began to rattle the windows in Denver, I was curled up with a plate of smokey barbeque and the family dog in Texas. Somehow I have been able to avoid the major storms during my first winter in Colorado. I’ll return just in time for clear roads and warming temperatures — and even better: enough snow left for a week of great snow shoeing.

The trip to Texas was wonderful. I spent time with my parents and our ailing family dog, Dharma. And I had the chance to catch up with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in ages. More on that later. For now, a glimpse of la vida Tejana:

IMG_1274IMG_1278

IMG_1279

IMG_1314

IMG_1316

IMG_1319

IMG_1309

Now, back to packing and returning to that snow…

~K

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in
Journal, Travel
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On Writing: Workshop

February 3rd

On writing: Workshop

I am taking a writing class focused on narrative. The class has 10 women and an instructor. We get together for a couple hours a week to discuss writing technique and to review each other’s work. This process of “workshopping” my writing is entirely new; the only time I’ve given a chapter of work to group to edit was in an undergraduate creative writing course more than 10 years ago.

The experience has been multi-layered. There is the emotional — is there anything as vulnerable as handing off something you consider “art” to a group of strangers for critique? There is the practical — I have to be incredibly disciplined to stay on top of my writing assignments and editing others’ work in the evenings after working the day job. There is the also the intellectual — there have been nights I can’t sleep because my brain won’t shut off. I’m trying to learn so much in a brief period of time and apply it to this novel without letting the Negative Nancies get me off track.

I’d be remiss not to mention the balance once must muster when reviewing edits. I submitted my first chapter and received in return 11 sets of corrections, opinions, and thoughts. Most of these were subjective. Of course those objective — typos, spelling errors, etc — are to be fixed with gratitude for the editor. Then there are those long, red ink, cursive notes down the page suggesting how you should have written it. And the details you should have included. And what would make it more believable.

The balance is in reading those edits and deciding what holds merit vs. what is nonsense. Writing is a subjective art form. As the author, you’ve got to believe in what you are creating, and stay firm to the elements of your story that are non-negotiable.

Also, it is helpful to pick up your suit of thick skin from the dry cleaner the week before you workshop so you can have every button and zipper fastened and armored. My suit is the Insecure Writer Deluxe 2.1 version. It whispers in my ear every 10 minutes “You can do it! Keep writing! You won’t please everyone, and that is more than okay. It’s ideal.” And if it gets wet with salty tears it kicks into hyper-protective mode, available only with this version: “Fuck them.* You are a good writer. Keep writing.”

Keep writing, friends,

K

*I know! Profanity on the craft blog! Don’t blame Finny. Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.

Posted in
Good to Great, Novel
Comments (6)

Sew-Along Winner + New Project

February 1st

The shaggy chic clutch, our January project, was not such a hit. Not to say you guys didn’t create some beautiful work. More that the pattern didn’t work out as many of you had anticipated. I fielded email asking “How do you sew ALL NINE LAYERS?” again and again.

Let’s start with what was awesome about the pattern: working with chenille is new to me. And I love the way it blossoms after a good wash:

Sew along: January

Sew along: January

Sew along: January

Of course, I love the idea of creating a project with just one yard of fabric. And making it my own. After a lame first attempt, I customized my second clutch by sewing velcro for the closure and hot gluing some vintage buttons:

Sew along: January

Sew along: January

Sew along: January

Our winner for January, randomly selected is: Surya. Congrats! Email me your mailing address and you’ll receive a yard of fabric, along with a few other sewing notions.

january fabric by fabric winner!

So pretty, right? Love that button and the bright fabric. Nice work, lady!

The February project is: Barnaby Bear on page 227. It’s a softie — and this project will stretch my sewing abilities. Plus, selfishly, I’m visiting a friend next month and staying with her two boys. Mr. Barnaby will make the perfect gifts.

Remember the rules:

1. One pattern will be posted each month. To participate, you sew this pattern and add at least one photo to the Flickr pool.

2. I will use a randomizer to select a winner.

3. The winner will be featured on the blog, and sent a yard of fabric as a prize.

Fire up your machines and keep emailing with questions. We’ll figure these out together!

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, Fabric-by-Fabric Sew Along
Comments (8)