Thursday, January 14, 2010

Swiss Army Super-Tool Thingy

In my daily professional life, I find myself using a number of different gizmos and gadgets to get the job--or jobs--done. For the third assignment in the book, Caffeine for the Creative Mind, Mumaw and Oldfield want the reader to invent their own "Professional Survival Swiss Army ... 'Thing.'" I'd try to draw a picture on Paint, but you remember my earlier attempt?

First off, my specialty tool will need wheels and a tow-hitch. Since I spend my days jumping from writing, to designing and sewing, to crafting, to pressing, displaying and photographing vintage and handmade items, my handy-dandy all purpose tool will likely weigh a ton. Making it tow-able will allow me to cart it wherever I go--scouting for vintage items, mailing my sold pieces, visiting family and friends' homes--you get the idea.

To start with, I'll need my sewing machine, dress form, tape measure, scissors, an iron and an ironing board. Also, roller skates would be very helpful for rushing from the dining room table where I cut fabric to the sewing room. On second thought, skates might be dangerous, because I often trip over the dogs as they accompany me to and from my destinations.

Speaking of dogs, I'll need a remote for the door so they can go out and in as needed, and maybe some biscuits or peanut butter-laced Kongs to keep them busy whle I concentrate. They simply don't understand that mommy's hands and eyes are made for other things besides petting, feeding, and casting adoring glances.

The next contraption on my Thingy (Is it just me or does that sound a little dirty?) is a bottomless cup with a built-in heater. With this, I could have an endless supply of tea and not have to be shocked and repulsed whenever I take a swig of the cold, over-brewed stuff.

Of course, I'll need my computer--laptop or PC. It doesn't matter. Though I tend to prefer the PC for all my fabulous forays into writing, a laptop will do in a pinch. And I'll need a dictionary and thesaurus. I know I can use the online versions of these tools, but for some reason, I abhor having to leave the page I'm working on to reference a word. I know it's a bit strange, but we all have our idiosyncrasies, right? Right?

Likewise, the computer enables me to reference and date vintage clothing. For that activity, I also need a lot of the sewing supplies listed above, plus my trusty digital camera. Oh, and the camera charger and usb cord!

My whatchamacallit will be equipped with a robot for cooking and cleaning so I won't have to. Paper towels, a glue stick, E6000 and a glue gun, buttons, ribbons, zippers and the all-important polyester batting are also necessities. After all, one never knows when the need for stuffing will arise, does one?

So there you have it. Another strange, yet oddly interesting (for me, anyway) exercise in creativity. I'm sure I've left off some extremely important gadgets from my Swiss Army Super-Tool Thingy, but that's it for now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Betty 'Boom-Boom' Boop and the Squash On My Counter

You may have noticed that it's been a few days since my promise to post regularly about the 250 exercises in the book, Caffeine for the Creative Mind by Mumaw and Oldfield. I'm only on the second assignment and I've already hit a speed bump. This time, the task is to "take 10 pictures of ten things in your environment that don't belong where they are." And to be honest, my friends, I had to clean my house first!

I no sooner finished vacuuming when my dear little Lucy made the mess you see in this first picture. By the way, that toy she is tearing apart is only a few hours old. I sewed her up a batch of them that morning. She's still in her destructive puppy phase, and I figured better a toy than my furniture. But she could have at least pretended to have some trouble demolishing my offerings!

Moving on to my desk, I found a couple of things that were not where they belong. Okay, more than a few. Notice the close-ups. That's so you can't see the entire messy office space. Yeah, huh? Dumb like a fox.

The first item is a bag full of brooches--some vintage, some not. I have been running a special in my Etsy shop: For every ruana purchased, the customer receives a free brooch. (Pretty good deal, if I do say so--and I do.) However, I have not sold a ruana since Christmas, yet these remain nestled in their resting place below the computer monitor.

The second misplaced item on my desk, is my thesaurus. It should be standing with the other books along the back wall, but I use it so often that I tend to leave it out. In fact, I used it just now to find another word for misplaced. There aren't that many that fit in this context. I haven't "forgotten the whereabouts" of these things that are "scattered" about, I simply "placed them wrongly" because I am a "disorganized," creative soul whose things are often "put in the wrong place."

I have a rather large kitchen with a u-shaped counter-top. When taking these photos, a butternut squash rested on one end of the shelf near the toaster oven. We feasted upon that a couple of days ago, and now the same space holds a sweeter variety of squash--the buttercup. These gourds really are the most visually unique and interesting vegetables, aren't they? You could spend a day at a farm just photographing the various types. Can you say, Fun?

The day I took these pictures the kitchen workspace also sported a lovely black stretchy woolen glove with the word "Spongebob" written across the index finger in red, and a squiggly pattern of blue and gray spread over the remainder of the fingers and palm. This lonely hand covering emerged from the laundry all by itself and it's waiting for us to find its missing partner. Hopefully, the wayward mate turns up before we have to break the news to a certain little someone.

Resting beside the rogue Spongebob glove, is a package of skinny, multi-colored headbands. I removed two of the less-desired colors to use in a special Christmas project for the Littles. I wrapped each with red satin ribbon. On the first, I attached a pretty green flower sewn from vintage, ruffled trim and topped it with a sparkly button.

Unfortunately, before I managed to complete the second one, our mischievous cat absconded with one of the half-finished headbands and it hasn't been seen since--the headband, not the cat. At the last minute, I whipped up another flower in red and sewed it to a shiny green ponytail holder, finishing just before we left for our trip to Lil Rhody. Whew!

The headbands now reside in a drawer in my sewing room until I decide what I'll do with them next--maybe something cute for Valentine's or St. Patrick's Day.

Sitting at the opposite end of the counter on the dining room side, is a vintage yellow and blue Czechoslovakian candy dish. That object is in its rightful spot, but the opened bag of chocolate-only Tootsie Roll Pops propped up against the dish are not. The truth is I didn't really want to share this bag of delectable delights so I didn't put them into the dish. Funny, lots of little fingers get into that bowl full of bounty, but they never seem to look beyond, at what to my taste buds, is the greater treat. But now that I'm exposing myself, I feel a bit ashamed that I haven't shared and that I've left them out where they don't belong. I guess I'll put them away--later.

Although Christmas and New Year's Day have passed, on picture day my bedecked tree still stood in my living room. And beaming out from underneath, a gorgeous gift from my daughter begged to be hung in a special spot somewhere in my house. We took the tree down yesterday, but the beautiful mirror still waits for a permanent home to send out its wise message of reflection. (Get it?)

On the table where the mirror now rests while I write this, is a neat wooden box with old-time games inside. The words "Authentic American Pastimes Collection" sprawl across the clear acrylic cover and it's easy to see the games: Jacks, Pickup Sticks, and Marbles. The set belongs on a shelf on the porch, but it contains lots of little pieces and had to be rescued from visiting two-year-old hands. When she grows enough to reach the top of the sideboard, I figure she'll be old enough to play with--rather than eat--the game parts.

And that brings us back to the aforementioned mischievous cat. We adopted Betty 'Boom-Boom' Boop the day before her third birthday after falling in love with all of her gorgeous black beauty. Boom-Boom Betty is big-boned, for sure, but there aren't any bones in the stomach, right? Hers--stomach, not bones--waddles freely whenever she walks to her food dish. And she walks there often, checking to see whether we've come to our senses and decided to feed her more than twice daily. We haven't.

When the search for food and interfering with my belongings bores her, the Boopster loves to lounge. She has claimed the bed in the sewing/guest room as her own and though she'd deny it, the truth is she sheds. And yes, she's the queen and all that, but I still don't want to have to wash the embroidered linen duvet cover any more than necessary. So we've come to a compromise, I keep an old woolen blanket on the bed and she...well, she doesn't do anything. I guess the only give here was really on my part.

So there you have it, folks. The second creative exercise is finally completed and reported to you. Stay tuned for number three. Here's a hint: It has something to do with a Swiss Army knife!              

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year Wishes and a Pimped Out Red Flyer?

First of all, Happy New Year! Of course I wish the usual health and happiness, but most of all, I wish for all of us to have more Joy in our lives. It's something I strive for, and I hope you will too. It isn't that difficult to choose joy over the alternatives, you just have be conscious of the choice. After a while, it will become a habit. Really!

And now that I've caused some of you to gag on my sugary-sweet message, I'll tell you my plan for the next 250 days or so. Have any of you seen the movie Julie and Julia--or Julia and Julie--whichever! In the film, Julie vows to write a daily blog entry on recipe reviews from Julia Childs' cookbook. There's more to the plot of course, but that doesn't matter here. Read on . . .

My lovely sister, Pam (secret santa for me this year), gave me an intriguing book called Caffeine for the Creative Mind by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield. The tome boasts of offering "250 exercises to wake up your brain." Pam said she wanted me to post the results of each task on Facebook, but I think I'd rather share them here.

So, I'm going to make a vow--promise--no, strong suggestion that I will--probably--report on the results of each of these assignments on a daily--or weekly--or generally regular basis right here on this blog. I'll disregard any embarrassment that may come my way (I have no pride!) and tell you about each and every task--no matter how silly or dumb it may be. And silly and dumb are right up my alley, so consider yourselves forewarned. ;)

The first assignment is called: "Pimp my Red Flyer" and yes, it's as simple as it sounds. They want the reader to take a few minutes to pimp their wagon or "take an ordinary red wagon and . . . 'pimp it out' with whatever luxuries and additions you can think of. Create your ultimate urban-inspired, pimped out wagon."

My initial thoughts ranged from wondering whether we still had a leftover wagon in the basement, to basing my model on a Red Cardinal--you know, the bird. It flies--never-mind. But the more I thought about it--which was WAY longer than the 15 or 20 minutes the authors estimate for each exercise--the more I came back to using the Radio Flyer, or a photo of it, anyway. Here's my first foray:

So far, I've got a bed under a canopy, and I've tried to show how I'd widen the larger tires to take care of disturbing bumps while traveling. I stopped this sad attempt at visually creating my dream ride because those tires were starting to look an awful lot like my eyes after a long, sleepless night. Obviously, I am not and never was good at using that crazy Paint program. Go figure!

Rather than humiliate myself any further, I've decided to simply tell you about my personal pimped out wagon. It would still have four wheels, but they'd be under a luxurious recreational vehicle. The color red would stay, but I'd also like an option to change the exterior whenever the mood struck. So, depending on the day my ride would be red, purple, blue or green (it brings out my eyes). I'd need a plain black or white surface for the rare occasions that call for seriousness, and just for fun I'd have a Hippie Dippie Tye-Dye option, where the outside is covered in bright splashes of color in shapes like peace signs, hearts, flowers, and of course, the smiley face! The Hippie Dippie ride would also have fringe around the beaded-curtain windows, colorful patches on the tires, and macrame-trimmed headlights and doors.

I'd like my 'wagon' to convert from large (for hanging out) to small-ish (for ease of driving). And I either want robots to drive, clean and cook, or have a separate room for the live-in help. Speaking of converting, this ride also needs to transform into a helicopter for quick, short trips, or whenever traffic is annoying, and into an airplane for when I want to visit my peeps in Hawaii, England, and Virginia--or go on an adventure in Ireland or Australia.

I could go on and on, but I won't. ;) This exercise is over. I'd love to hear about YOUR pimped out wagon. Leave me some comments!