Favorite Things Friday

I've mentioned this before, but I like lists.
And I think this might do me some good.

A girl needs a place to keep her thoughts in their proper places. Happy Friday, everyone.


Top 5 Reasons to Buy Handmade

Every couple of days or so, Etsy posts an interview with and feature on a different seller. A week or so ago, they featured an artist named Dolan Geiman, who, instead of listing his top 5 favorite books and movies, listed the top 5 Reasons to buy handmade. I really liked his list, and because it's something I believe in as well as something in which I'm personally involved and invested, I wanted to share it with all of you.

"First reason to buy handmade art:
1) It’s handmade. This means someone actually took the time to personalize something and put their blood and sweat into it. Good luck getting authentic sweat from a robot.
2) Out of all the things people can purchase, art is the one thing that they will never throw away. It’s a fact. It’s not a disposable thing and so it’s better for the environment.
3) When you buy a handmade work of art, you are telling your neighbors, your friends, and your relatives that you are smart, civilized, and sensitive. When someone is filthy rich, what do they spend money on? Art, of course. So if you, an average Jane, can buy art, then that automatically elevates your status among your peers.
4) Buying handmade art usually means you are helping the artists of the world to continue their existence. More artists mean more free thinkers, more activists, more parks, and more cool events. Artists open the doors for everyone else. Look at gentrification. Who do they send in first? The artists.
5) The best part about buying handmade is that you usually get a chance to have a personal connection to the object and the artist. Buying a handmade item shows your willingness to be a part of a community and your eagerness to contribute to a greater cause."

Visit Dolan Geiman's Etsy shop here (he has some really great stuff), and read his Featured Seller interview here.


Oh Happy Day

I just have to tell all of you what a lovely day I had yesterday. And if you live in Lubbock, you know that it was difficult for anyone here to have a lovely day, because it was colder than it's been all winter so far, freezing rain fell for most of the morning, the roads and sidewalks were slippery and dangerous, and the sun didn't come out all day. I have to get up and come to work in all of this unpleasantness, just like everyday. So I pull on my old wool-lined duckboots at home, trudge across campus to get to the building where I work at the university, and turn on my space heater to defrost my extremities.
Then, it begins to get a little better. I'd thought ahead far enough to bring a packet of Raspberry hot chocolate from home; it was creamy and thick and delicious and warm.
I get some things accomplished at work, which makes me feel productive and important.
I take a lunch break, and have quite a beautiful salad, composed of romaine and leaf lettuce, five grape tomatoes, four baby carrots, topped off with sunflower seeds and Olive Garden salad dressing. Mmmmmmmm. While I eat this wonderful salad, I read a few chapters in a fantastic mystery by Agatha Christie I recently borrowed from the public library.
Meanwhile, outside it's still looking very dreary and foreboding, and I'm not looking forward to trekking back across campus and across the street where my car is parked, to defrost it for 10 minutes until I can drive home again at 15 miles an hour.
I do some more work, feel productive and important again, make a few students happy, et cetera.
Then, I get a message from my sweet husband. It's an email telling me that he's ordered pizza for us online for dinner, meaning three things: a) I get pizza for dinner! b) I don't have to cook dinner myself! and c) I will get to curl up on the couch when I get home and finish my mystery, without the necessary interruptions of food preparation and clean-up. The moment at which I received his message was quite a beautiful moment, as I'm sure you can appreciate.
And only an hour later, the best thing of all happened: the people who make the decisions at the university, quite unexpectedly, announce that the campus, and all offices, will close at 3 pm! And I get to go home! (Oh, but yes, it gets better.)
A co-worker who parks right behind our building very kindly offers to drive me to my car, so that I don't have to walk to it. And when we get there, it's not completely iced over, and I'm able to drive home immediately!
I get comfortable on the couch, make myself a cup of English Afternoon, with which I eat a thin mint (thin mints go beautifully with tea; you must try it), and curl up under a blanket, as planned, with my Agatha Christie.
My husband gets to come home a few minutes early as well, and we sit in the living room and read together until that glorious messenger of happiness, the pizza delivery boy, arrives. Then, my wonderful husband allows me to stay on the couch under my blanket, bringing me my food and plenteous napkins, and pops in a very amusing movie. As if this weren't enough, the dear boy has ordered dessert, which was nothing short of magical. Then, he makes us a pot of coffee after the movie ends, and I sip and go back to reading contentedly.
I finally decide to move from the couch to the bed, and go back to reading, after which I reflect on the day. It's been quite perfect. Thank you, husband. Thank you university. Thank you pizza delivery boy.


Etsy Treasure Tuesday: Cabin

I found this wonderful little shop on Etsy called Cabin + Cub, which sells the most charming vintage children's themed products. Just have a look for yourself, and the nostalgia will draw you in quite as quickly as it did me, I'm sure.

Please go and see for yourselves what wonderful things Cabin + Cub is offering. If I had a children's room, I'd stock the walls with lots of them. And perhaps I'm not too grown up to get a set of the bookplates or one of the vintage journals for myself.


How To Be a Pirate

I wrote the following poem during a brief but memorable pirate phase some years ago. (Note: During said phase, I did not dress like a pirate, drink like a pirate, or swear like a pirate, but I did pilfer several pieces of gum and two quarters from my younger brother's pocket. Sorry, Bub; I've repented, and almost saved up enough to pay you back for that.)

Reflections on A Pirate’s Life: An Ode
By Smarmy Eve Dawkins

A pirate’s life’s the life for me!
I’ll wear a sword and sail the sea!
A nasty, snarling thing I’ll be.
My wicked grimace is the key
To making captives pay my fee
Of gold or gems; I’ll shout with glee,
“Pay up, you curs, or you shall see
My wrath, and walk my plank! Your plea
Won’t soften my hard heart! Maybe
If you get down on bended knee,
I’ll reconsider, you scurvy
Knaves!” (But I never do.) A wee
Bit of pirate humor there. (Toothless grin.)
© 2006, SMD Piracy, Ltd.


Favorite Things Friday: Silhouettes

I'm so in love. I want these all over my house. I'm devising a plan to cover at least a 4 foot by 3 foot wall surface in my living room with a solid mass of silhouettes at this moment. No kidding.

(All images from Country Living's stunning article in the December 2008 issue.) My favorite above is the bone/acrylic scalloped silhouette cutout on chunky gold chain. And how adorable are these custom pendants, made by luckymebeads, from a photo of your sweetheart or child/grandchild and placed in vintage metal settings? If anyone sees my husband, please inform him that Valentine's Day is approaching, and I want this.


Perhaps It's Time for a Change

Yesterday's post about my dream bedroom got me thinking about redefining my style slightly. By nature, I'm neat, color-coordinated, and rather traditional. This spills over into my home, in general. And though I'd really like not to classify myself as a rule-follower (down with the institution!), most of the rooms in my house are staid, symmetrical, and incorporate a palette of two to three pre-defined colors; not stuffy exactly, just not quite so carefree as I might like, and I don't step outside of these lines very easily. My bedroom follows a pattern somewhat like this:

This photo actually looks nothing like my bedroom, which has chocolate brown walls, no white at all, and definitely no pink, because after all, my husband has to sleep there too. But in form, it's very much the same. We have a dark wooden sleigh bed, leather bench at the foot, dresser, chest, and nightstands to match, and a pair of candlstick lamps either side of the dresser, one looking exactly like its mate. Color combination is aqua and brown, matching pillows piled three rows deep on the bed, which is made every morning without exception. One side mostly mirrors the other. While I was going for something grown-up and a little less girly than my bedroom was before I got married, I found myself wishing last night that there was just a little more randomness, a little more color. I think all of this was prompted by a post I found on decor8 yesterday, about a designer called Selina Lake, whose style is almost the antithesis of mine: as many colors in a room as there are in a prism, floor cushions everywhere, very little, if any symmetry anwhere. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make the crossover completely, but I really want to incorporate more of this sort of bohemian feel into my own house. Look how beautiful her rooms are!

I have some ideas for achieving this vision without spending much, if any money. They involve making a few mismatched pillows out of scrap fabric I already have, bringing some red (dare I say even hints of pink?) into the bedroom, and making it feel, at the same time, younger, but more lived-in. (By the way, let's keep this on the down-low, as I haven't even mentioned a single bit of this to Nate yet.) As for the living room, which is slightly more colorful, but not significantly, I've been kicking around the idea of making a rug to go under the coffee table by weaving together strips of fabric; I've looked everywhere, and can't find anything within my budget that fits the look I'm aiming for. I really like this idea, because not only would it allow me to add a very handmade touch to the room, but I can also choose my own colors and patterns for a somthing completely unique. I'll keep you posted if I decide to take on any large projects or do something drastic. (I may have to sweet-talk my husband first, in fact.) At any rate, I feel like I need a bit of a change; the resulting developments will probably not be as free-spirited as Selina Lake's rooms, and I'd never be able to get away with that much pink, but I'm getting excited just thinking about the possibilities.


Wish List Wednesday

I wish this were my bedroom. I have quite a lovely bedroom, but it doesn't have a walled-up brick arch for a backdrop, or Marie Antoinette side tables, or a crystal chandelier. It's just as well: I couldn't afford any of those things. But I'd improvise with these:

(All items found at very reasonable prices here.)


Etsy Treasure Tuesday: Paperhill

Paperhill on Etsy offers "Handmade Vintage Inspired Goods for You and Your Home." Located in Buffalo, New York, her shop could just as easily be found in a quaint little antique building in Savannah, Georgia or Fredericksburg, Texas. She sells an eclectic variety of stationary, accessories, jewelry, home decor, and wedding items, and though in many shops this diversification might create confusion, in Paperhill's shop, there's a wonderful loved and lived-in feel to everything there that creates cohesion. Here are a few of my favorites:

These beautiful notecards are actually made from scraps of vintage flocked wallpaper. What a lovely way to say hello.

The first sentence of the description for this Romantic Rose Cuff had me completely hooked: "This romantic cuff reminds me of something that Lizzie from Pride & Prejudice might wear." Yes, please. And speaking of things Lizzie might wear, how charming is this ethereal lace capelet?

It would look absolutely gorgeous over a vintage ivory satin wedding gown, and luckily, Paperhill also offeres a selection of ring bearer pillows created out of vintage laces and trinkets.

I hope you enjoy looking through her shop as much as I do.


Thank You, BJ!

My very good friend BJ, who is the beautiful grandmother of one of my best friends and has one of the cutest blogs I've found, featured me today on her Pink Saturday post! It was a lovely gesture and very beautifully done, with such nice things to say about my handmade jewelry and my blog. I just wanted to thank her here for welcoming me to the blogging world (I'm relatively new, having only begun in December) and for the selflessness that prompts her to post prayer requests on her blog and to continually feature, introduce, and encourage others there. Your kindness and your beautiful cottage alike are great inspiration for me!


Favorite Things Friday: I Heart PBS

Nathan and I don't have cable or satellite, so we have limited programming choices in our rare spare time. But we don't mind -- we have all we need: Public Broadcasting. Oh, there are so many reasons I love PBS:
1) It's free!
2) Its programs are educational for children and adults alike.
3) Not a single reality show has ever aired on PBS.
4) Rick Steve's Europe is the bomb, and is a Saturday morning tradition in the Timmons household.
5) I sometimes get a little too caught up in Antiques Roadshow.
6) PBS airs Austin City Limits -- yeah!
7) Besides the emphasis on literacy and education, two things I believe in strongly, I love that PBS also promotes environmental responsibility and draws attention to social justice issues.
8) Masterpiece has to be the greatest program that has ever aired on national TV; Masterpiece Classics are my favorite (complete works of Jane Austen last winter, and Dickens canon coming soon!), but I can't get enough of Inspector Lynley and Agatha Christie's Miss Marple on Masterpiece Mystery.
9) Great Performances brings to my living room Broadway plays and operas that I'd never see otherwise; last week Nathan and I cuddled up on the couch with Cryano de Bergerac (Kevin Kline was fantastic!).
10) This, in itself, is quite reason enough to fall in love with PBS.


Top 100 Tutorials of 2008

A few days ago, a blog called The Long Thread, which is all "about handcrafted goods in an age of mass production," (something which I'm all about too, incidentally), posted a list of the 100 Top Tutorials of 2008, a collection of how-to lessons from bloggers and crafting sites all over the web. I spent quite a while clicking on random titles that intrigued me, and I could've spent much longer. The tutorials are divided up into categories and classes to make them a little easier to wade through, but there's so much incredible information collected in all of these places that it is still a bit daunting at first. But I think it's a wonderful post to have on record and keep going back to, on a rainy afternoon or a weekend that's not already full before it begins. Hope you enjoy searching through this treasure trove of handmade ideas as much as I did.


Wish List Wednesday: Urban Outfitters

I experienced Urban Outfitters for the first time in Boston, Mass, on my honeymoon. I came back from the trip just a little bit crazy, I think: all the perfection had gone to my head. I fell in love with just about everything in this store at first sight: really cute clothes, adorable shoes, the kind of jewelry I aspire to create (although I get some credit here because mine is made by hand, while theirs is most likely made by Chinese minors), and darling items for the home, which are my favorite, and would be my ruin, I'm sure, if an Urban Outfitters ever came to take up residence in Lubbock. But if I had three wishes, first of all, I'd wish for infinite wishes (everybody knows that), then, I'd make these appear:

This midcentury bench would look so perfect at the foot of our bed!

Oh, you have no idea how I could go on. But luckily, I now have infinite wishes, so that wouldn't actually be a difficulty. Happy Wednesday, everyone!


Etsy Treasure Tuesday: SweetCocoBeans

I met Jenn last fall, after she and her boyfriend Taylor, who began and run a fantastic website called LBKnow.com featured Nathan's band, Cyrus, on their site, which promotes Lubbock and all of the cool bands to see, events to attend, and interesting things to do here. Nathan happened to mention in the interview he did with Jenn and Taylor, that his wife (which would be me, naturally) made handmade jewelry. She was intrigued, and when, about a week later, it was time for the First Friday Art Trail, they came to see me and my work at Alderson Mercedes. Jenn announced then and there that they'd like to do an interview with and feature about me on the site, and she has been a supporter of my work (she did all kinds of free publicity for me all over the place!) and a great friend ever since; she's one of the kindest and most genuine people I know.

And now, she has an Etsy shop of her own! It's named for her beautiful chocolate lab Coco, and is called SweetCocoBeans. I love that my story about how my hobby grew into a small side business inspired Jenn to go for it herself. That's what creating something handmade and participating in the wonderful community of others all over the world who are creating too is all about. So I'm very happy to be able to introduce Jenn to you, and to show off her work here. Since Jenn is a music fan (which is essentially the reason we were introduced in the first place), many of her fabulous items are themed or named for songs or lyrics. She's even made several of her pieces using guitar picks; so inventive!


How To Make a PB&J

My mom makes the absolute BEST Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. So naturally, when I was old enough, I stole her ideas and began to make them myself.

You need:
1. a lump of peanut butter the size of a 2-year-old's fist.
2. a corresponding lump of jelly (strawberry and good old grape are my favorite, but to each his own) the size of a two-year-old's other fist.
3. two slices of wheat bread (The mistake of combining peanut better and white bread in one sandwich will create a sticky-mouth disaster situation of monumental proportions, so take my advice on this one.)
4. two paper plates, one to mix on and the other to serve on.
5. a butter knife or large spoon.

Here's what you do: (And this is an intensely scientific process, so please don't try and mess around with the order of the steps, or an unpleasant chemical reaction occurs and you end up with a marmalade and molasses sandwich; nobody wants that.)
1. Scoop the properly-sized lump of peanut butter onto the mixing plate.
2. Wipe spoon/knife.
3. Scoop the properly-sized lump of jelly on top of the peanut butter on the mixing plate. (Tip: if you use the fancy jelly in the squeeze bottle, you don't have to wipe the spoon/knife!)
4. (This is the most important bit; if you don't mix correctly, you may end up with a mediocre PB&J, so take your time.) Mix peanut butter and jelly together until the resulting compound is that strange half-purple, half-brown color that would be frightening if it occurred in the natural world anywhere else. Make sure that the two ingredients are no longer distinguishable from one another; the success of your PB&J depends on this.
5. Scoop some the mixture onto one slice of bread. Repeat and smear until the bread is completely and evenly covered with the gooey yumminess. Top with the other slice of bread and serve on second paper plate. If you want to get fancy, add some green apple wedges, which make a tart and lovely complement.
Now YOU can make the best PB&J on earth, thanks to my mother.
Thank you, mother.


Inspiration in the Shower

This morning my husband was working on an essay after breakfast. He gets up from his laptop, comes into the living room, and says, "I'm going to hop into the shower. Maybe I'll have a flash of inspiration."

Then, a few moments later, from the hallway, "Archimedes did his best thinking in the bathtub."

I giggle. "How do you know Archimedes did his best thinking in the bathtub?"

"I have a degree in Classics." (Slight note of sarcasm.)

"Someone might've just made that up, you know."

"It's true. Look it up on Wikipedia."

Okay, honey. Sure.


Favorite Things Friday: Cupcakes

Who can resist cupcakes!? Not only do they combine the wonderful tastiness of the cake of your choice, but there's so much room to be creative with those mini-mounds in 3" baking cups. So today's entry is dedicated to one of the cutest desserts on earth. Have a look at these beauties from Martha Stewart. I love how she's taken (as always), something relatively simple like a cupcake, and by adding a sprig of fresh mint or chopped pecans as a topping, made them fresh and fun, and of course, beautiful.

Then I found these gorgeous raspberry topped cupcakes, and decided at once that not only are they just about the prettiest things I've ever seen, but that I have to try making them myself pretty soon. I seriously doubt that mine will turn out so perfectly, but I've learned something important: top anything with a raspberry, and it looks like it came straight out of a photo shoot.

I think my favorite way to top a cupcake (aside from a plump pink raspberry) is with a large cap of creamy icing. Right before I ice them, I usually get so impatient to be eating one, that I take the easiest route and just smear the icing on with a butter knife, but doesn't icing piped from a large pastry tip look so much more appealing? I found this one at BakeItPretty's shop on Etsy. The waiting may almost kill you, but in the end, it's worth the extra effort.

And one of the most wonderful things about cupcakes, as I've already mentioned, is that there are so many beautiful ways to make them even more special. Like these charming little striped baking cups, also from BakeItPretty.

Or these fabulous little ballerina toppers from SweetPoppy's Etsy shop. How irresistible would these be for a little girl's birthday party?

If after all of that baking and icing and sprinkling and decorating, you still can't get enough of cupcakes, tuck one away in your sewing kit as well, in the form of an adorable cupcake pincushion from smarmypants. How cute is that?


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