Monday, August 31, 2009

Wooly Red Rug

About twice a month I contribute an article to the HandmadeMN blog featuring the HandmadeMN members' shops on Etsy. I thought it would be nice to have those articles on my blog too, as I really like the artists and shops I feature, and their wares might add a bit of class to my little corner of the blogosphere.

I have a secret fantasy of living on a hobby farm. Of course I'm a total city girl and could never survive on a farm for all the flies, dust, and manure. But in my fantasy I'm dressed in my cute little jumper and mud boots, bucket and stool in hand, ready to milk some cows. Also on my farm would be hundreds and hundreds of sheep. I love sheep. They're so cute and woolly and they stick their little pink tongues out when they baa. In my fantasy I would shear the sheep and spin their wool into the most luxurious yarn ever seen.

Alas, I have no sheep and I don't know how to spin wool into yarn. But I do know someone who has taken the yarn made from the fluffy wool of my imaginary sheep and has created the most glorious pieces of art. Laurie Lausen. Her shop, Wooly Red Rug.

Laurie is a true master of her art. She knows how to dye and hook yarn into beautiful rugs, runners, and mats. She also hand-dyes wool fabrics and cotton threads. The colors are fabulous.

Check out this cute item: It's the Wool Lover's Journal; a journal cover made with hand-dyed fabrics and threads. Look, there's an applique of one of my sheep.

The Americana Hearts and Stars Runner is one of Laurie's original designs and I just love the primitive colors. Not only did she design it, she hooked it herself! What a woman.

Laurie did some more designing and hooking with this lovely chair pad featuring my fantasy sheep. She suggests the Hilltop Chair Pad can also be used as a table mat. Anything that is so pretty and can serve dual purposes is simply a must-have.

Laurie Lausen is such a gifted artist. She also has a really nice blog called Prairie's Edge Primitives. Wooly Red Rug is a wonderful place to pick up a little piece of that hobby-farm fantasy you might have. Thanks, Laurie, for fueling the fire.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oh My, Toady!

I recently read Wind in the Willows. Toad, Rat, Mole, and Mr Badger - what a bunch of rascals. Really, rascals is the only word to describe them. I had never read the book before and I must say it was one of the most delightful experiences I’ve had in a long time. Really, delightful is the only word to describe it. And speaking of words, I just adored the language of the book. Written at the beginning of the last century by a British author, well, I have no words to describe it. It made me laugh, it made me cry. And I didn’t even have a hard time with the fact that the animals wore clothes or could drive cars. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World makes so much more sense now! The book was a fabulous vehicle for escape.

In a related story, a day or two after I'd finished the book I was getting into my car on the way to work. It was dark outside, because it seems I have to leave for work in the middle of the night. OK, so it’s about 5:40, but for a lot of people, that’s the middle of the night. As I’m leaning to get into my car I noticed movement at the windshield of my car. It was little toad! I tried to catch it and put it into the safety of the grass, but he escaped into the hood of my car. Being one who is never tardy for work I said to the toad, “you’re on your own if you crawl in there,” and I was off. About a quarter mile down the road the toad crawled out from under the hood and once again made his appearance on my windshield wiper. He looked as though he was perched comfortably, yet I worried as he was now entering dangerous territory.

Soon after I was out of my neighborhood I accelerated onto the freeway to a speed of 70 miles per hour. The toad held onto the windshield wiper tightly. He took a look at me once in a while and proved to be very distracting as not only did I keep my eye on him, I was also worried about what would happen if he lost his grip. On I went, 70 miles per hour, and the toad held firm.

About six miles into the trip he started to waver. I worried what would happen if he flew off my windshield wiper and went splat onto the windshield of the car behind me. Would it cause a panic? Would people think it was the end of the world with the impression it was raining toads? But still, the toad held firm.

When I arrived at the parking ramp downtown, twelve miles from home, the toad seemed to be out of breath with his little heart beating hard. He looked at me. I looked at him. Again I told him, “you’re on your own now.” I don’t know what became of Toady that day, as he disappeared from my car by the time I was done with work. No doubt he was off on another adventure, stealing cars or challenging city weasels. Good luck, dear Toady!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Today's Weather: Rainy And Sad

Today is one of those gloomy, rainy days I love so much. Never mind the little tornado warnings a mere 12 miles from me. It's dark and dank, perfect candle weather. And because I didn't have much to do today during my hours at the day job, I decided to get caught up on some greatly backlogged blog reading.

Sadly, it seems people's lives are as gloomy as the weather. In the blogosphere and in real life people are sick and dying, or it's the anniversary of one person's death or another. You can tell me all you want about how "to everything there is a season," blah blah blah. It's just downright depressing and assigning the logic of nature and/or of God (if you can assign logic to God) doesn't make things any more cheerful.

Despite the fact that I am down in the dumps with the anniversary of my brother's death, the news of a friend's mother's death, a terminal illness in Husby's family, and reading nonstop about blog friends who are dealing with death and dying, the rainy day is still my favorite kind of day and I'm determined to cheer myself up with it.

So I took on a project...

Cathe, author of Just Something I Made, has become my new secret blog girlfriend. I could read her blog for hours on end. The other day I found a project I thought I'd like to try, and so today, in my despair of grief and loss, I followed Cathe's tutorial on transferring images to little wooden nickels. You can find that tutorial here. It works! Plus the blending pen smells really good.

While I have no pictures of my project (I really must get a camera phone!) you can believe me when I say Cathe is onto something here. It's really fun, it is a magical process, and the possibilities for this technique are endless. Even if you don't want to take on the project, go see Cathe's post and see how cool this is.

Thanks, Cathe, for making my day a little brighter. Nothing cheers me up as much as a happy craft project on a rainy day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Building Projection

This completely freaked me out the first time I saw it. Then I watched again and just looked at it without trying to figure it out. So, so cool...

555 KUBIK facade projection from urbanscreen on Vimeo.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vote For Me! (Because You Know You Love Me)

Hey everyone! I'm shamelessly begging for your votes. The members of HandmadeMN are conducting a contest where you can vote for your favorite entry in the Monthly Challenge. This month's theme is Circus. I've entered my most fabulous Circus Wagon Wheels bottle cap magnets. It's a set of six, and not only is it an entry to the contest, it's also up for sale at my shop.

HandmadeMN is a group of Minnesota (and some fringy Wisconsin) artisans. We all work hard to keep beauty, funk, and sass in the world. Support your local artists by buying directly from them. They'll love you for it, and you'll love what they have to offer.

Even if you don't vote for me, check out the contest and all of the cool entries. Vote now. It's your duty and privilege. Voting ends midnight, August 18.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Dive Night ~ Grampa Tony's

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either.  See a list and links to the previous dive night posts here.

So here’s the thing – I’ve got a weird hang-up about the fact that I live in the same town in which I grew up. It’s not that I don’t love living where I live, and growing up here was the best. I just want people to know I haven’t been here the whole time. I did actually move away for a while. Not far away, but far enough to be wildly independent and a little less suburban. I spent fourteen years in the Highland Park area, on the corner of Snelling and Randolph, across the street from Plums, in an apartment above Bridgeman’s Ice Cream Parlor. Sadly, Bridgeman’s is no longer there. But I digress. The point I’m trying to get to is that I went back to the old neighborhood for a monthly Dive Night with Ruthie, Ray, and Husby. It was divine.

Grampa Tony’s was the restaurant of choice. I remember many nights where I would just pick up the phone, call Grampa Tony’s, and have them deliver the most mouth-watering sausage and mushroom pizza imaginable. Sometimes I would take dates there and we would eat in (it was a short and pleasant stroll from my apartment), which is what we did on our Dive Night.

The interior of the restaurant is quite compact and is one of those places that has pictures of famous people everywhere; makes for interesting conversation and reminiscing about those has-been celebrities. Our waitress was sweet as could be, although I think she was a little scared of our somewhat boisterous behavior. I don’t know why we were so squirrely that night.

Now, on to the food. All I can say is…yum. So, so yum. We started out with appetizers, as usual. The picture is a little blurry as I was so weak from hunger I couldn’t hold the camera steady, but I can tell you the chicken wings and pesto cheese bread were scrumptious. With a mostly Italian menu there was lots of pasta and pizza. As I mentioned before, I nearly lived on the pizza back in the old days, and my co-divers opted to try them out. Ray and Ruthie shared a hand-tossed number, and Husby took all to himself a thin-crust.

As much as I wanted to savor and relive that pizza, I decided to get something new, and something different from the rest of the group. The gigantic, enormous, monsterous Italian submarine. Of course it was enough for two. I didn’t share – I deserved the whole thing even if I had to take two days to eat it. Husby didn’t eat his entire pizza either, so we got to eat Grampa Tony’s fare two nights in a row. Heaven!

I heartily suggest you try some food at Grampa Tony’s. You won’t spend a lot of money, you won’t go away hungry, and you won’t have to cook dinner the next night.
Addendum: For dessert Ruthie and Ray treated us to some ice cream at Cup N Cone in White Bear Lake. I'm so glad that little stop is always busy. It was Husby's first visit, and he's been begging me to go back ever since. We'll have to get there again before the close of the season.
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