Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Was it procrastination? Or was it a sign that I am to become a cranky old woman who has no use for the playfulness of holidays? Halloween lurks at the end of October in the midst of a chandler’s busy season. The date is the same every single year, and yet every single year I fail to prepare for the festivities in a timely manner. For two weeks I had written in my daily planner to bring the ghosts and jack-o-lanterns up from the basement and to decorate the house with whimsical scariness. Today, Halloween, I still had not completed the task.

As I was brushing my teeth this morning I thought to myself, if I don’t put out some decorations and get into the spirit of things, I’ll begin to ignore other holidays. Easter baskets will cease to be filled and Christmas trees will be unlit. I don’t want to be one of those people. I don’t want to be surrounded by a holiday without honoring it myself.

I also gave some thought to my brother Diggy, who for many years took such great pleasure in scaring the bejeepers out of the little kids in the neighborhood as his 6-foot 5-inch, 250-pound body cloaked in dark robes lurked on the streets every Halloween night.

As I put out the decorations I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. I was reminded of the fun shops where I bought some of the trinkets, and had a renewed appreciation for the ones that were given as gifts. And one in particular, a glowing electric jack-o-lantern taken from the collection of treasures Diggy kept, made me feel especially thankful I pulled myself out of the too-busy-to-bother attitude.

Then Husby helped in turning these ordinary pumpkins

Into delightful jack-o-lanterns.

They were set outside and lit to greet all the Trick-or-Treaters.

If it’s true the wall between this life and the hereafter thins on Halloween, I think Diggy made a little visit to me today. He mocked my indifference for Halloween, for forgetting to seize the day, for failing to retain my childlike joyfulness.

So dang it all, instead of having had all the festive decorations up for a week before Halloween I’m going to keep them up for a week after. And every night I’ll turn on that little jack-o-lantern light and thank my little brother for kicking me into shape. I sure do miss him.

Friday, October 30, 2009


This is pretty clever. I love it. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month may I present: Implants by Mosaicate.

Keep 'em healthy, girls!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

There's No Spooky Like Free Spooky

If it seems I haven't been tending to my blogging responsibilities, it's true. I've been busy treating myself to lots of spooky fun on the internet. There's tons of stuff to entertain you during the chilly autumn nights.

For those who like to read, there's this cool site that has a huge library of horror stories. And guess what? It's free! The site is called HorrorMaster. I'm looking forward to soaking up some H.P. Lovecraft. Ooky!

Maybe you're working around the house or office and want to listen to scary tales. The Monster Club is a great place to download or stream thrilling old time radio shows. It's a free site, but they require you to become a member and get a password before having access to the five hundred free shows.

If you're like my friend MaryAnn you would rather be mesmerized with the visuals of TV and movies. Hulu, also free, is a terrific site that gives you access to full-length movies and TV. For Halloween chills how about tuning into Bram Stoker's Dracula?

No matter if you like to read, listen, or watch, there are hundreds of horrors awaiting for you with a click of your mouse. Ain't the internet grand?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Featured Shop - Glorious Hats

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've always loved hats. I love looking at them and I love wearing them. I'm not so excited about hat hair once I take the hat off, but that just means I should leave my hat on. (Didn't Joe Cocker sing a song about that?) When in New Orleans I could have spent an entire day trying on the hats in a millinery shop on Royal Street. Wonderful, wonderful hats. Hats are fun, and more people should wear them. Jane Carlstrom has a shop on Etsy called Glorious Hats. I've also seen her hats in person at Artist Mercantile in St. Paul, MN, and believe me, they are glorious.

Here's one that is just cute as a button. Ha! Get it? It's called Buttons and Beads Straw Hat. So summery, and what a beautiful trim around the brim.

Here's one for the upcoming cooler months. The Wool Beret would give a touch of class and sass to an autumn outfit. My favorite part of this hat is the small splash of orange, the happiest color in the world.

This one is so very cool I can't even find words to express it. The Pagoda Percher is a lovely shade of lavender and so unique. It even comes with a hat pin! Jane sure knows the millinery business, and if you have questions about how to wear a hat with a hat pin I'm sure she'll be happy to enlighten you.

Wear hats and keep the art of hat making alive. The best place to start is at Glorious Hats. With one of Jane's hats you'll look simply divine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Something's Got To Give

We’ve all heard the saying, “something’s got to give.” There’s another saying, “you can’t have it all.” Those two sentiments have been ringing through my head lately. It’s been a long-time dream of mine to be more organized with my time and materials. The rationale is if I’m sufficiently organized I’ll be able to accomplish everything I need to within the confines of a twenty-four-hour day and still have eight hours to sleep.

Yesterday I made a list of things I wanted to do for the next day. I’ve become more sensible in my lists, including the necessary things plus a few others, but not too much to look overwhelming or which would be impossible to complete. The list contained eight tasks. Eight tasks to complete within the confines of twenty-four hours. Doesn’t seem too daunting, does it? Of course not.

Well, the day is done and I’ve completed only half of the items on my list. I wasn’t distracted by anything and nothing urgent needing immediate attention came up. So what happened? No, really. It’s not a rhetorical question. How come I couldn’t check off everything from my list? Where did the time go? Now when I go to make my list for tomorrow I’ll either have to do that much more, which is improbable, or I'll have to make a shorter list in order to complete it and the leftovers from today. When that happens I just fall farther and farther behind. By the time I reach the end of the week I’m distraught over how many chores and tasks have piled up in time for the weekend, which time is supposed to be spent leisurely.

So what gives? If I can’t have it all, what should be let go? I can’t very well stop cleaning the house or doing laundry. I also can’t resist sleep every night. Preparing, eating, and cleaning up after meals takes time, and I’m told eating is rather necessary to living organisms such as myself. I don’t want to cease being married so I can’t very well give up spending some time here and there with Husby. Family and friends? I refuse to shut them out. And my little business is so important to me and I’m so excited every day to try new projects and think of ways to make the business flourish.

Ah, I think I have it. Five days out of every week I spend eight hours at a day job. That’s a pretty big chunk of time. It’s not a job I’m particularly attached to, although it does provide well. I could really put those eight hours to use if I didn’t have to tend to the day job, but am I willing to give it up with its paycheck and benefits? Is that the something that’s got to give?

Perhaps, someday. I’m continually inspired by Etsy’s Quit Your Day Job articles. If those artists and crafters can do it, why can’t I? If you have a list that keeps growing because you haven’t enough time in a day, maybe you could get inspired by some of these stories too. Because how lovely would it be every day to cross off everything on that list?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Questionably Calm

What was supposed to be the action-packed-full-of-production month has started out to be one of the most relaxing months of the year. Granted the month is only half over and I’ll probably be sorry I’ve been kicking back doing things like reading magazines and watching TV, but I feel like I’m recharging. The house is actually in some semblance of order and I’ve even prepared some of the evening meals for a change. (Kisses to Husby who has been cooking so much he’s decided he would like to start a new culinary career. Go for it I say!)

The Auntie B’s Wax business is going through some kind of, I don’t know, weirdness. I hope “weirdness” doesn’t hold a negative connotation because I definitely don’t think what’s going on is bad. There’s just an air of change about. Seems there’s a metaphorical calm before what could be some very positive upheaval. The thing of it is, I can’t put my finger on what that upheaval involves. But I’ve experienced this feeling plenty of times in my life, and it always ends up with some new adventure.

This time of year I’m usually busy getting ready for multiple shows prior to the holiday season. I’m presently preparing for only one. Usual calm, like I said earlier. What does it mean?

Some might say I’m getting tired of the business and am slowly giving it up. I don’t think that’s the case. I like what I do and from the success I’ve experienced so far it’s obvious others like what I do too. Perhaps I’m resting up to reach farther. Maybe there’s greater success in store for me. Or different success.

All I can do is wait and listen. The suspense is killing me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Date Night

Husby and I just celebrated our wedding anniversary. We reminisced about our wedding day and our lives then compared to now. Seems these days we have more aspirations than we did when we first began life as a couple. We’re ready to take a turn, and yet we’re a couple of chickens, scared to take that turn. It’s hard to let go of something that gives you so much security for something that is so uncertain. And yet we continue to fantasize and dream, and even devise The Plan. One day we’ll have enough guts to put The Plan into action. For now we’re only taking baby steps toward our goals.

To celebrate our anniversary we decided on dinner and a movie. I know, really creative date. We chose to see Julie and Julia. I wanted to see it for my birthday two months ago and we never got around to it due to circumstances I can’t even remember now. Husby was ever so generous to submit to a chick flick (even though I know he secretly loves them) and then we splurged on a very scrumptious Chinese dinner.

We both liked the movie, and the story got us to thinking about those aspirations I was talking about earlier. Both Julie and Julia were looking for more in their lives, searching for something to give their lives a little more meaning. They both had very supportive husbands, which I’ve been lucky enough to snag. There is a lot to be said for the tolerance, patience, and support of a good spouse. When it came to finding that special meaning in Julie and Julia's lives, their husbands thrived on the obsessions of the girls just about as much as the girls themselves did.

One thing stood out for me – neither Julie nor Julia submitted to their passions in an all or nothing kind of way. Julia worked around her husband’s job which required them to move from one town to another, or from one country to another. Julie kept her unfulfilling day job while she pursued her blogging career. A person can chase a dream despite obstacles and without having to abandon the trivial things (read: pesky day job) that provide a means for survival and the pursuit of that dream.

Things can look kind of hopeless sometimes, like you’ll never get to that place you’ve been dreaming of. But the baby steps toward a goal really add up, and if you look at your life from a distance you might very well be closer to that dream life than you think. Keep plugging away and keep dreaming. That’s what I took away from this very wonderful anniversary date.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cyber Saturday

I spent my entire Saturday on the computer. What fun! I'm usually so preoccupied with production I lose sight of what needs to be done in the way of promotion and research. Besides, after a late night out with friends I was in the mood to just sit and do screen work rather than physical work (read: housework). I did manage to tackle one chore. The mattress is now soft and warm with the winter featherbed. It's like sleeping on a cloud! Flannel sheets to enter soon.

The Halloween bottle cap magnets are once again avilable at the shop. Soon I'll be offering deals on multiple purchases. You'll be able to choose three, six, nine, or a dozen bottle cap magnets with a savings of up to $12! Stay tuned for that. For now, feel free to check out what's available individually. If you're interested in purchasing multiple magnets and the listings aren't available, please contact me directly and I'll make sure the nice lady behind the cash register gives you your discount.

Top (left to right): Richard Scary, Horror Story, Jackie O

Middle (left to right): Moonie, Boo Who, Jacks or Better

Bottom (left to right): Fraidy Cat, Peek A. Boo, Mockingbird Lane

Friday, October 09, 2009

What's New These Days?

Autumn is in the air and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season of dormancy. Halloween is right around the corner. Then comes Thanksgiving and the entire Christmas season. I say “entire” because at our house the season begins the first week in December and lasts through the first week of January. I’ve got some new holiday cookies I hope to bake, and I may even have a little candle party at some point during the holidays.

I’ve been thinking of some new ideas too. In fact, I’m testing one as I write this. I’m not a container candle maker, but I’ve decided to try something out in the way of a filled votive cup. The decorating possibilities of the cup alone are enough to want to dive right into the project. For now I’m testing the wax. I want to make this a really long-lasting candle, and one where the wax burns all the way down without leaving residue along the sides of the glass. A seasoned container candle maker would probably know exactly what to do, but making do with what I have and hoping for the best. I was inspired by a filled votive cup in a catalog that said 100-Hour Candle. I don’t know if that candle truly burns for 100 hours; after all, it’s only about three ounces of wax. But if I can get a votive to burn more than 15 hours and go as long as 30, I think I could count that as a great selling point as well as something I’d like to burn in my own home. Then come all of those cup decorating ideas. Fabrics, papers, paint, gold leaf – I tell you, the possibilities are endless.

The bottle cap drink charms are going to take a heavenly turn, as well as a healthy one. Some new sets are in the making and hopefully will be ready for the gift-giving season.
I need a little motivation when it comes to taking pictures of my products for the shop. I need practice in that area too. Perhaps the winter will bring some time when I can put together a light box.

Keeping up with business paperwork, correspondence, and custom orders takes a lot of my time too. Of course the paperwork and correspondence come last as making things for other people the orders is actually fun.

And guess what? I decided that instead of doing business production at the end of the day while I take in a TV show or two I would take up a project just for me - a small and relatively simple crochet project. Crochet holds a special spot in my heart as it is the craft that made me realize years ago that I like to make things from nothing. So for a little relaxation over the next few weeks I’ll be working with a thin piece of thread and an aluminum hook to create a thing of beauty. I hope. I’ll keep you posted on that project.

For now I’m going to blow out my experimental votive turn off the computer. I’ll put on my flannel jammies adorned with a playful penguin pattern and slip under the blankets and quilt into bed. Tomorrow I’ll wake up to another day filled with more experiments, new possibilities, and hopefully some more inspiration.

And that’s what’s new these days.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I'm Not Your Gerb Toy

Every once in a while Charlotte and her family escape the daily grind for a weekend or more. When this happens, my nephew Fojo asks if Husby and I can take care of his beloved pets. This is a wonderful treat for us, as we live a life that is child-free and pet-free, leaving us to only stare at the walls while the pudding cools in the refrigerator. All houses need a kid or a pet, don’t you think?

As for Fojo’s pets, well, they’re gerbils. And rambunctious little guys they are. Fojo decided to get brother gerbils, at the strong suggestion of his mother, so they wouldn’t breed all over the place. Interestingly enough, Brother I has been seen snuggling in Brother II’s nether regions on more than one occasion.

But as this is a family blog, I’ll not talk about more-than-latent tendencies of our furry friends. The thing is, Fojo just loves his pets, and while he was all for me writing a little article about them, he was somewhat concerned about having their pictures plastered all over the internets. Who can blame him? There are a lot of weirdoes out there. Fojo has the nagging feeling that if his pets’ pictures are on the world wide web, some pet-o-file will abduct the little guys and perform unspeakable acts. To honor the privacy of Fojo’s pets I’ve made sure their identities are hidden.

So, I’d like to introduce you to The Gerbs.

The live in a very cozy aquarium complete with hiding tubes, a trundle bed, and a very squeaky tread wheel. Their food is placed in a little glass ashtray which is quickly covered by all the fluff of that flakey stuff you put in a gerbil cage to soak up the pee and hide the poop. There’s also a water container attached to the side of the aquarium where the little guys suck down hydration with the help of their tiny pink tongues. They’re just adorable.

While they’re active they’re usually chewing up toilet paper tubes, grooming each other, or doing some stationary running on the wheel. They also like to dig and dig and dig. I suppose they have some king of digging instinct, and I feel sorry for them as I watch them claw against the glass walls of the aquarium thinking they will actually get somewhere. I guess they think they’re going somewhere when running on the wheel too, but that act doesn’t solicit the pity from me the way the digging does.

Husby and I are thoroughly entertained by our periodic house guests and welcome any opportunity to take on the responsibility of giving them nourishment and hydration when Fojo is away. We’d let them run loose in the house but fear they would get randy with the dust bunnies. It’s best to keep them contained.

Fojo likes to sing to his gerbils and comes up with some very creative songs. While Husby and I will talk to the pair, we feel unworthy to serenade. That should be a privilege left to their owner.

Of course gerbils are mostly nocturnal, which means Husby and I don’t miss any action while we’re away at work during the day. But every once in a while, we get to see a little nap. All creatures look precious when they sleep, don’t you think?

OK, so one of the pictures doesn't have the anonymity patch across the eyes. I simply had to show you those adorable eyelashes!

Fojo has been trying to convince me that I need a pet. After all, I’m brave enough to risk a nip to pet that soft fur. I’m not afraid of germs. I will even let animals lick me! But alas, I think I’m more cut out to be a pet sitter for the time being. Thanks, Fojo, for trusting us with your treasured friends.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Dive Night - Sal's Angus Grill

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.

Ruthie and Ray's pick. I really had no idea where we were going as this place is out in the wilderness. There's nothing around but horses and farm fields. OK, I might be exaggerating just a little, but it took us forever to get to where we were going, and as the location is to remain a surprise to the couple who doesn't choose the place, I thought we were going clear to Utah.

Wow, the place is pretty big, and the giant cow head on the front of the building let us know we were in for some meat and potatoes. Bull head? Steer head? Whatever kind of bovine it is, it is almost frightening in its size.

And what signifies a great dive better than a line of Harleys in the parking lot? Meat. And Beer. Yum.

My camera was running low on batteries that night so I didn't get very good or very many pictures. Sal's is a place that will take the casual and the dressed. It isn't dressy by any means, but dropping by after an evening out to the theater wouldn't make you uncomfortable. We saw a really interesting group of diners when we were there - they all seemed to have attire that was from the '80s. It was a weird mix of people too. We couldn't figure out if it was an extended family or what. But there were girls in the group with asymmetrical hairdos and off-the-shoulder sweaters and leggings. Trust me, it was bizarre. Ray had a theory of who they were, being a group of mostly women (of all ages) and only two men, but I better not speculate along those lines. No matter who they were, they chose the right place to eat.

The menu was varied and large. They served everything from walleye to hot dagos. But the most interesting thing on the menu were the Cock Bites. How could you not order them with a name like that? Funny thing was, the men didn't want to order Cock Bites from the pretty young waitress, so Ruthie had to do it. They were really, really good. Very cocky. Very bitey.

One of the best things about this place was the Cosmo. Ruthie and I saw one being served to another diner and decided to have one after dinner. We were pretty full and had already had some drinks throughout dinner, so we decided we would share one. An unusual practice, I admit, but we didn't mind sharing a few girl germs.

The drink came in a glass that was shaped like a martini glass but without the stem. This little pointed cup, as it were, was placed on top of what looked like a small fish bowl filled with ice. The best part about the Cosmo - they served it like a malt in a malt shop. You know, when they pour your malt into the tall glass and leave you with the leftovers in the mixer? That's what they did with this Cosmo. They left the shaker at the table. There was enough Cosmo in the glass and the shaker to make two Cosmos. Ruthie and I had our fill.
So if you like big booze and Cock Bites, you'll love Sal's Angus Grill. And if you want, you can even go out horseback riding after dinner!

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