Tuesday, April 22, 2014


i know it really is that time of year; the danger of frost has passed, and i need to get out in my raised bed garden and plant some stuff.  i like my little garden.  this will be year three (!) of living here, and my third attempt at having a real, honest, veggie garden.  the first year was pretty slapdash; we ripped some azaleas out and plunked in some seeds.  the second year, we put in a three raised beds. two did great, one was too shallow.  this year, my plans are pretty modest. i want to grow some beets (i want to grow a billion beets), some peas, some carrots, and a bushel of kale.  the kale from last year actually wintered over! that stuff is amazing. 

i went to my mom's this year for easter.  i love my in-laws, but they get pretty much every holiday, and to be honest, i did not want to have a jesus-easter. i know, i'm a terrible person. the last holiday at their house had a lot of jesus talk (one of D's brothers is getting back into it, and my father-in-law is also very religious) and it just makes me uncomfortable. i'm not like an angry skeptic/slash/atheist, but i had some bad experiences with people who talked a lot about jesus when i was a kid and the whole thing just makes me cringe.  i never say anything, and don't plan on it, but i spend a lot of time worrying at some point i'll get caught rolling my eyes or being an asshole.  i just wanted to eat my mom's ham and be with my sister's kids and my aunt.  it ended up being a very quiet day, and it was great. 

i spent the whole weekend at mom's, which was very nice.  my relationship with my hometown  suffered after my dad passed away.  i used to love going back, but after he died every trip became a nightmare.  i admit, 9 out of 10 times i still burst into tears at some point driving onto the island. weird little things trip me up; baby cows in fields, his favorite grocery store, random memories.  it's probably worse because i drive his truck now and i banked hundreds of hours in that thing with him traveling to and from school. it still smells like his cigarettes on a hot day.  this is really why i will never part with the truck. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

unashamed weirdness

i've been working on incorporating leftover bits of fabric into free-form-ish quilt blocks.  i take the scraps from the bags i'm working on, and sew them together, with various strips and scraps and pretty bits of other things.  it's becoming this giant quilt that i am seriously in love with. the improvisational, wonky, random nature of it really appeals to me. 

i've always felt kind of artistic and happiest when working on a project of some sort. the past few years i've worked really hard on a few things i did not feel confident in: color theory and sewing proficiency.  color theory is such a strange thing. you think to yourself, "for shit's sake, color is color and as kids we know what we like and what matches."  but do you really? what about color values? what about things that don't match? playing with colors is quite possibly the best way to work out whatever color theory means to you. sewing is the best way i know of, currently, for me to work on color.  work with color. to just sew things together; sometimes with great forethought, sometimes with none.  to see what happens and what i like.  what i've learned is this: i really do like red. i really, really, truly, 100% love the color red. it resonates with me. i want to use it in everything. in fact, did you know i only sew with red thread? if you can see it through the white fabric i'm using, even better. i've been doing that for years, and i realized why i do it and why i will never stop.  red is just my thing. like cocktails in mugs and wearing too many black t-shirts, red is my color. red is my spirit animal.

currently i am working on my stock and plotting out craft fairs and shows i want to do this summer and fall.  this means i am going to need to buy a phone that is nicer and can go online, so i can take credit cards and debit cards when i'm out.  i am not, and have never really been, into making pinprick a full time gig. i love it too much to put that kind of pressure on it. i also love sales and schmoozing and selling stuff i make. it gives me space to create for myself, and funding for other projects. it also gives me an ego boost.  i like it when people like what i make. 

i've had to do some tough-love, not-the-fun-parent shit the past few weeks and let me tell you, it gets old fast. i understand now why my parents hated grounding me. it's such a pain in the ass to enforce that shit.  lately i've also really missed having both kids at home. i know the boychik is doing his thing and becoming a mensch and all that, but i wish he were here. the worst part about step-parenting are the years you lose.  i sometimes feel like i'm playing catch-up, trying to make up for lost time.  i know they don't think of it that way, so i should chill out.  (but you know, i'm kind of neurotic. go figure.) 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

working girl

i've been taking the leftover bits from my pouches and sewing them up with random bits of fabric scrap to make what i lovingly refer to as "franken-squares."  the squares are getting bigger and tonight i started to frame them in solid fabrics.  my plan is to give them some solid space to float in, because a whole quilt made of franken-squares side-by-side is too much for the eye to take in all at once.

i've also been working on new additions to the shop, like these adorable coasters.  they are truly quilted, with some flannel as the filling. they're soft, but not smooshy, if that makes any sense. i didn't want to use real batting because i didn't want them to be all big and weird. these are firm and solid, but lay nice and flat.
my truck has this weird fuel leak, too, so i couldn't really go anywhere today. don't cry for me argentina, though: you can buy fabric online.  dammit.

so spent the day listening to podcasts and sewing fabric together. i also made a delicious indian curry (everyone in my house says "oh, i hate curry" then eat it all when i make it. how can anyone hate curry? it's awesome.) and discovered my newfound love of two podcasts in particular:

  • oh no ross and carrie: in which two delightful skeptics try out religions and movements and give honest, not-asshole, feedback.  they're funny and irreverent but still super kind about the subjects of their investigations.  i love them.
  • sawbones: a wife who is a doctor, and a husband who is not, discuss medical weirdness from years past. tonight i listened to them talk about medical marijuana as well as mesmerism. i loved every minute of it. 
i literally listened to hours of radio today and sewed for miles. it was amazing. dear saturday, you were a good time.  love, amanda

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

i was doing so well this year!

with the blogging, i mean. i'd been writing pretty consistently for a few months, but obviously i slacked a bit lately. 

i'm still working on the on-line business stuff.  making pouches, making plans for going to some markets/fairs later this year.  a lady i work with is doing some fundraising for race for the cure, and i donated a pouch because i figured it's both good karma and some advertising.  i need to make up some more stuff for my shop and then i might do some search ads on etsy for a week or two and see what happens.  i put a widget in my sidebar, if you are interested!

at the end of february, vincent wandered off.  it's been exactly a month since we saw him last, and i don't know what to say.  while i was out looking for him one afternoon a neighbor helpfully said, "yeah, cats don't do well outside here."  thanks, friend, why couldn't you have mentioned that sooner? he wasn't even a year old! we've looked in shelters and donated money (because seriously, good karma must come in handy sometime, right?!), been all over and around the neighborhood, and no sign of our sweet boy.  since then, tali's become much more friendly.  before, he was always a nice enough gato, but kind of aloof. he didn't cuddle much, and he spoke so rarely that it was always squeaky and funny like he had a frog in his throat. now he sleeps with me almost every night, talks up a storm, and demands lots of pets and cuddles.  this is him in his gato basket in the nook. he patiently naps while i sew, and gets up on occasion to jump on the table and demand some belly rubs.  i had always liked tali, but i'm pretty smitten with the boy now. needless to say, he is not allowed at night anymore. he also doesn't seem to want to go out as often anymore, or as far. i can't keep him inside all the time, that genie is out of the bottle, but i know that larger predatory animals prefer dusk and darkness, so he gets the lockdown during those times.  i feel like the world's worst cat mom for letting vincent out, even though he was usually only out for a bit and came right back. i miss my boy.
that got sad, sorry. you'll be pleased to know the nook is still tidy and in working condition. i finished the mystery quilt and it's totally amazing and i love it. the kids and are i going to the emerald city comicon this weekend (squeee!).  i'm still employed. my sister found out she's having a girl (so new niece on the way!).  it's not all sad around here, but i admit that this month had it's share of no bueno news.    

Monday, February 17, 2014

the nook

BEHOLD! before....

and after!!!
i love the nook, but it had become something of a hot mess.  the shower rod i was using as a curtain rod wouldn't stay up. i was doing a bunch of sewing in the downstairs den because i wanted to use the big table.  the nook became a good spot to dump things, but not to work in.

today i spent a lot of time (four podcasts of wiretap long time, plus some this american life) moving things around, throwing things away, vacuuming and making the nook into a working space again.

it's not the greatest set up right now; i wish i had a better storage solution for my fabric, and there are still boxes of craft stuff that i should sort through.  however, it's miles better than it was, and three grocery sized bags of garbage came out of this.

i dropped my stuff off at the lucky dumpster this weekend! i am officially artist #86 on the roster now.  the gentleman that owns the store is wonderful, and suggested i start selling them at a higher price than i thought might sell because moving down to a lower price is easier than raising the price of a thing. which is fair and good advice.  he said it might take a bit longer to find the right price, but when i do, it will the highest price, not too low.  D came with me too, and he really liked the store and the owner.  i came home and ordered some fancy woven labels to mark my stuff with, and felt good about myself. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

modern love

my therapist works in downtown mt. vernon, right around the corner from the cutest little quilting shop.  i hadn't been in there in years probably when a few weeks ago i popped in after an exceptionally good session to treat myself.

i normally do not get acknowledged at quilt shops. usually there is a nice looking older lady behind the counter, or at the back of the shop, who gives me a cursory look over and goes back to what they're doing.  i know i wear too much black. i know that i'm too old for ridiculous t-shirts. i know that with my round face i look younger than i am.  it doesn't bug me unless they're rude or outright ignore me if i ask for help.  however, two weeks ago i walked into this quilt shop and the lady behind the counter was awesome! she was friendly and excited and asked me questions about what kind of fabric i like, and we had a great talk.  i felt comfortable. i showed her what i was looking at and she found other stuff i might like. she asked what i was making and i showed her the little patchwork bags.

at one point she said to me, "you look very modern, do you only make modern quilts?" i said no, i like to make all kinds of quilts.  i did admit that modern quilts are pretty fun, though.  it made me giggle later that she called me modern because i think she thought that because i was wearing a lot of black and stripes.

tonight i went back in and she was there and i was so excited to see her! she showed me some new neat things, and then said, "you know, you inspired me to make a modern quilt last week.  i even blogged about it, about how you came in and you seemed so modern and had that hair, and i had to make something."  how fucking nice is that?! like, she made a thing because i made her think of a thing.  i was blown away.  she works mainly on thursdays, and guess what? she's totally got a customer for life now.  quilters unite!!!

my good news this week was that the lucky dumpster, one of my favorite stores ever (you know that, i mention it all the time), is going to sell my bags on consignment!  i sent them an email weeks ago, and didn't hear back and thought, "well, at least i put myself out there." which i'm still kind of proud of.  but i'm also really excited to make a thing that will be sold in a shop that i think is amazing, run by amazing artists, and in a very special part of the skagit valley.  oh, who am i kidding? i'm crazy about all of the valley.  if i can't live on the island, this is where i want to be.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

selfie madness!

i got a haircut today after work and it was rad.  there is nothing like the feel of freshly cut hair! yes, it's pretty much the same hair i've rocked for a while now, but what can i say? i like myself with bangs. i also like long hair, even though i don't do much with it.  my hairdresser is also one of my favorite bartenders, and it was great to catch up and let her pamper me a bit.  honestly, my favorite part of any haircut is the hair brushing and shampooing part.  i am a super sucker for hair-touching.

when i got home from my awesome new haircut, i put on some makeup and took some photos! i like the idea of selfies as self-love. it's nice to remind myself that i can be cute! 

work is seriously stressing me out, which is hilarious because work has been seriously stressing me out for a while now. i can't decide if this stress is going to be worth it in the long run, in working on my "career*" or if it's just going to grind me down into a semi-nutritive paste to be consumed by The Man.  ugh. work has always been a means to an end, and the end was always just paying rent and having money for goofing off and travel and time to do the things i really love doing.  work as a product in and of itself is kind of foreign to me. i also struggle with how much of my time and energy and emotion i put into work, when i'm not sure that what i'm doing is of particular importance.  life is short, and i'll be dead, and who will really care if i adjusted some insurance claims? i feel like what's honestly important is to spend time with the people i love, keep myself and them happy, create art of any and all kinds.  write and draw and paint and sew and knit, read books and listen to music, support other artists and craftsmen, go out and have new experiences: that's what's important.  i do less of that when i'm stressed out about work deadlines and how there are not enough people to handle the work load, and how there's so much freaking pressure to have the right answer, right away. 

to try to work with my stress, instead of fighting against it, i'm taking time every day to write in a paper journal about how i feel, and jot down my dreams after i wake up. i find the act of just writing for a bit every day, just to write, is good for me.  i help clear my brain out, and makes it easier to sleep.  i'm trying to be kind toward myself, and not hold myself up to exceeding high standards.  i'm trying to be flexible and open and sometimes just work instead of worrying that i'm wasting my life on a job instead of being the next lynda barry or aline kominsky crumb, or any of the other artists i admire so much.  even if i had all the time in the world to devote to "higher" callings, i'd still find something to worry and fret about.  grass is always greener, and all that jazz. 

*i can't use that term with a straight face yet. i know it's ridiculous to be 36 and feel so strange about the trappings of what i think of as adulthood.  i'm deeply uncomfortable with the notion that i am actually a grown-up. the kids, the husband, the mortgage, the job...i often feel like i'm play-acting.  is that because i'm spoiled and terrible and lazy? is it just me being neurotic? at the same time, i'm kind of proud of being the adult i am, and feel like focusing on career goals is the right thing to do right now. i feel like it's time. it's also challenging for me, which is good.  i need something tough to push me out of my comfort zone.