Friday, December 26, 2008

Month in review: Decemb-rrrrrrrrr

In my part of the country we had an exceptionally cold and snowy Decemb-rrrrr. My city isn't used to any snow at all so when we get some, the whole place falls apart. Roads close, stores run out of milk and eggs, people don't leave their houses for days on end. Our local weather reporters go nutty, working people into a thick and delicate froth before such storms hit. I got stuck in a large one-stop shop on the eve of the snowstorm. I was trapped in line for nearly an hour behind a couple with 20 loaves of bread and 10 gallons of milk, "stocking up". People ate their dinner in line fresh out of their shopping carts, talked on their cell phones, and caught up (as I did) on all the tabloids and crazy cookie recipes in Woman's Day and Martha and everything in between.

I haven't been out of the house since, and that was about 10 days ago.
As I write this, I have about 12-14 inches of snow at my house a
nd that's a record breaker in these parts. Our roads are a mess, and we can't even get out of our driveway. I'm slowly feeling the effects of Cabin Fever set in, and it is not pretty.

On my plate
. Being trapped inside has its advantages, I suppose. I baked my little heart out the week before Christmas. I think I averaged one b
aked good per day. Just today (as I was baking scones) my measuring spoon scraped the bottom of my baking powder tin, which was new about 2 months ago.First up were the delicious Outrageous Chocolate Cookies from Everyday Food (pictured above)

Next were Almond Macaroons from the Martha Cookie Book.

Then I made Nordy Bars, my mom's recipe. These are a throwback to my teen years. Nordstrom department stores used to sell these (although I don't remember where since they didn't have espresso stands back in the day). But I'm wondering if they will ever bring them back? They are so freaking good. The kind of cookie that tastes better about a day after you bake them. They contain butterscotch chips, a stick of butter, chocolate chips, and marshmallows, just to give you an idea of their goey goodness. You can find the recipe here. My mom's version uses 1 3/4 C flour rather than the 1 1/2 listed here. Things that were baked this month that didn't get photographed? Oatmeal Cookies, New York Cheese Cake, Apple Pie, and a terrible batch of cornbread.

Font of the Month: I purchased Anisette by A.M. Cassandre. I love this font, it is so bold and has a lot of fun ligatures to play with. Plus, as a lover of anise (the spice), I just couldn't resist it based on its name. I'm hoping to use it in some upcoming poster projects.

On the Needles:
Still working on my Flair sweater. Knitting in the round is awesome, but I'm getting kinda bored, I have to admit. 100 plus stitches in stockinette stitch over and over and over paired with cabin fever is just not a good thing. Hopefully I'll finish the sweater before next fall. In the meantime, I've started (and dare I say nearly finished) a project for a dear friend of mine. I can't show it yet, but am feeling very satisfied with it so far.

In My Ears:
I'm so sad that Mixwit is going away. I just loved those little vintage tape graphics. Sad! So, I'm back to updating my playlist. Not a bad thing, just not as cute!

"Not Even Jail" is a fitting song for my housebound state this week. I like its dark, pop sound and these lyrics "Remember take hold of your time here / Give some meanings to the means / To your end". "Carry Me Ohio" is a song that reminds me of warm, lazy summer days that seem so long gone now. "Blue Eyes" is just a simple tune that you could sing to anyone you love, and they'd probably think you were pretty sweet. "Nite and Fog" is what it looks like outside my window most recently. I really like Jose Gonzales' acoustic guitar and voice, and this song is one of my faves.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Shop Talk: Snow and Sales

Hi folks. It has been a wonderful and wild introduction to the world of Etsy these past few weeks. I had 4 sales over at Pixel & Post which was very exciting, and I'd like to thank all my dear friends and family who let me design their Holiday cards this year.

Sadly, many of my friends are still waiting to receive their cards due to a big ole snow storm that dumped record amounts of snow on my part of the world. Their holiday greetings are sitting somewhere in the city waiting to be delivered as soon as the roads clear up (there are currently people skiing, sledding and snowshoeing along our city streets). So, next year I'll have my holiday designs up earlier (maybe in the first part of November) so we can avoid any lateness due to weather problems.

The week before the snow storm hit, my family and I were housebound due to a really gross cold and flu virus. Then the snow hit, and we've been indoors going on 3 weeks now. Surprisingly Cabin Fever has not yet set in. But this has allowed me some time to regroup and consider what my next move will be for Pixel & Post. I'm feeling the need to really focus on getting my prices down while keeping quality high. It is going to be a bit of a challenge but I think it is important in times like these.

Stay tuned! And have a great Christmas Holiday.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Months in Review: October & November

Last time I posted it was election night eve. The pure shock and happiness of that night kind of sent me into a few weeks of being speechless. In my suburban neighborhood the night ended with horns honking, distant 'whooo-hoos', fireworks, and me crying happy tears into a glass of merlot. I'll never forget it. I think I'm recovered now, still a little in shock, but ready to start posting again nevertheless. The last two months have been, well, guess what? Busy. I should really find other words to describe my life, lets see: swamped, up to my neck, busy as a bee? Yes, those sound much more interesting don't they? The great news is that all this busy as a bee-ness got my etsy site up and running (that's one of my cards, above). I'm super proud that I have some cards out in the world, it has been such a long road with so many detours that I'm just pleased as punch to finally be on my way. Here's a recap of the past two months in Flying Pencil land.

Greatest Free Find

Never, ever did I think I'd be singing the praises of the US Postal Service on my blog. I repeat: never. I'm generally, and probably unfairly annoyed with the USPS. Even though I have had a handful of pleasant experiences within many of the post offices in my town, I've had a mail-truck full of irritating ones. Like last time I was in, there was only one clerk open and I got stuck behind a grump wanting to look at ALL the stamp choices before buying theirs, and then complaining that all the choices are "too boring" and getting mad. But things are looking up for me and the USPS, because I found out that they will give you free boxes, and deliver them to your house. I found this little tidbit out while waiting in line behind Mrs. Grumpypants (thank you very much). I came home, went online, and ordered up some free shipping supplies for Pixel & Post. About a week later our very friendly postman delivered a stack for lovely priority mail boxes, and mail tubes to my door. Simple. Free. So cool! Now if mailing them could be as simple....

Flashback Moment
In November I had the chance to go 'teach/college-kid sit' for a silkscreen class at my art skool alma matter. You know that feeling you get if you ever have the chance to visit your grade school as an adult? I found out you get that same feeling when you visit the art studio you spent the majority of your 20's in. The smell of the ink, the creak of the studio door, the sound of one my favorite professors whistling as he walked down the hall, tea from the art school cafe where I used to work (and serve up espresso with complimentary dollups of attitude and sometimes a hand puppet). It all made me feel incredibly happy, completely nostalgic, and just a tad bit old. It was wonderful, and it made me want to make art again just for the heck of it.

In My Ears:
I'm going to break away from the playlist format for this post and tell you about my new time-waster: Mixwit. It is a free online service that allows you to make virtual 'mixed tapes' to email to friends or post to your blog. I think the interface is so darn cute, I just had to use it here and may continue. I love Sufijan Stevens. I wanted to post a newer track here, but this one will have to do "They Are Night Zombies! They Are Neighbors!" reminds me of my weird neighbors who had a zombie head on a stick poking out of their over groomed boxwood during the Halloween season, looming over their praying Madonna statue. Yikes. "The Cedar Room" by Doves starts out sounding like a weird electric train, but then rocks out. I love the sound. "Break Your Mama's Back" has a laid back synthesizer bit that is very danceable. "Revelry" by Sea Ray has been on my favorites list for some time now. And I think "Tendency" by Battle is probably one of the more rockin' songs I've heard in a long, long time. Crank it up!

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Illustration Friday: Balloon

After a long absence, I'm back to participating in Illustration Friday! Things have just been too wild and wacky these past few months to get it together, but I'm back! This week's topic was 'balloon'. Hot air balloons seem so 70s to me. I remember them as decor in my friend's room, printed on flour tins in people's kitchens and as bathroom wall paper. As thought a little more about the 70s and the word balloon, that wacky 70s tune from the group 5th Dimension started playing in my head. "Up! Up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful ba-loooooooon! Ba-looooon!" Can't you just hear it?

I'm going to be using Illustration Friday as a tool to get some spontaneous art making ideas, so this little number is now available as a limited edition giclee print at my shop! Get yours here!

Yay for cards!

Hi friends! It's official. My cards are up and ready to sell. Just click on my Etsy to see more.