Monday, August 31, 2009

Earthy Indigo

My latest collection of beautiful, inspiring items from etsy!

Mental Fatigue

You know how after a workout you are sore and wobbly? Well, that is how my brain is feeling! I am not complaining because this is kind of what I was hoping for.
For the last few weeks I have undergone several adjustments in my daily routine. I have been blogging. I have been limiting my fashion choices (at least below my waist). I have been taking a japanese language class at the university where I am the only person over 20 years old. I have been increasing my productivity in my bag business. And I have been trying to get in shape physically by reducing sweets and unconscious snacking, and increasing exercise.

So, I have come to the not so shocking realization that my body and my brain are old and out of shape!! While I am loving my class, I think it is going to take a few more weeks for my brain to get fit for the task of memorizing and digesting a completely new system of communication. I am working hard though. I can't let the younger students think that I am feeble and ridiculous!
I need to spend more time cutting and sewing to get a good supply of bags up for fall. I need to spend an hour every evening memorizing and writing my hiragana and katakana. And, what about those dance classes I promised myself? Something is going to have to give and I think it is going to have to be the ETSY treasuries!

Skirts: Saturday I wore Mary Jane again with my dotty blouse from 6 years ago in Australia.
Sunday I wore Zara with a red t-shirt from a San Francisco designer whose name I can't remember now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What Memories, What Dreams, What Abilities...

Doesn't this poetically sum up who we are? I hope I can keep all these things in the formula when I am working on my life. Right now, it is late, and I am way behind on my work. I did get a few new things posted on my ETSY site so I am glad about that. I had a great date with my friend Mackenzie this morning that gave me food for thought and a buzz from BOBA tea! I will right more tomorrow and post some pictures. Oyasuminasai!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Addicted to ETSY!!

7:30 in the morning, I'm driving down the freeway after dropping my girls off at school. I am slightly zoned out from the early hour and the sun in my face. I see a late '7o's VW Westfalia van pass me. My first thought is "how can a VW van be passing me? I didn't think they could go over 5o mph." My second thought is "wow, that would make a great item in an etsy treasury!" It was brown with a yellow and orange stripe around it. It had curtains in the windows. A few years back it would have been considered dorky and tastless, but I have always had a thing for '70's cars. Maybe because they were my era. Maybe because their style was so distinct. Anyway, they are considered really hip and cool now.
You might think it is twisted to make the mental leap from a real life object to a commercial web site feature. However, I think it says something about art and the creative mind. I like that my brain is noticing color, design and style even when I am going about my mundane activities. Whether it is a detail on a building, someone's glasses, or the color of the sky, I can see the artfulness in it and the way I arrange it and what I add to it, makes it my own. Here is a screenshot of a treasury that I have up right now.

Today I have no class and am going to be home most of the day working on my bags. I normally would be in my pjs but here I am in my brown hemp skirt, a pink tank top and a tan cotton sweater. Yes I know there is a hole in it. I cut it so I could button it tightly. Oh, you can't really see it in this photo. Well, now you know. You can also see that even though I have been on a clearing out binge for months, my house is still piled with junk and clutter! I am not giving up though.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It is Still Warm Out

I'm not complaining. The weather is beautiful. The air is fresh. I just can't figure out if it is going to be hot or cold during the day and we could really use some more rain.
I made it through my first week of school and I am going to be studying a lot this week-end.
Here are the pictures of yesterday and today in my skirts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Cat Returns

Just a quick check in because I am really sleepy. My kitty baby was missing for 4 days and I really thought she was a goner. We live in a wooded area and there are wild animals so I was worried that she was someone's dinner. Luckily, she showed up at the back door, screaming, at 4:45 this morning. So I have been deliriously going through my day and am crashing with a glass of wine now.
Day 5 - Zara and a blue t-shirt. Will post pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting Out

Today is day 4 of my skirt project and day 2 of my Japanese class. I'm not sure what day it is for my "sew something every day" idea - I haven't quite stuck to that so well due to previously mentioned activities. I am feeling creative and I have sewn and even finished quite a bit though. It feels good to have a full schedule that I have organized and chosen. If I have too much time for any one thing, I tend to get unfocused and lethargic. If I have too many thing going on, the same thing happens. So, the trick is to strike a balance.

Right now, I have time in the morning to workout, do some computer stuff, maybe sew a little. Then I go to my class - get out of the house,work my brain a little, take care of outside errands, maybe visit a friend. Then I come home and have 2-3 hours to sew before my kids come home.

I don't have a parking pass so I have to figure out the best way to get to class. Yesterday, my husband dropped me off. Today, I drove my car and parked off campus in a neighborhood. It was fun because I went down streets I would never go down. I walked past houses and businesses that I would not normally see. I saw a beautiful mural near a little house with Buddist prayer flags in front. I saw trees loaded with fruit, which is very unusual here. They must have been planted long ago when this town was founded and that neighborhood was first built. I saw a geodesic dome apartment building! It felt good to get out and to be slightly lost. It reminds me of the idea of the Surrealists that you should get lost to let yourself be open to random and unexpected experiences. Tomorrow I will bring my camera and walk down another new street.

As for my skirt, I am wearing Mary Jane with a thin smock top that I got at a cheap trendy store in NY. I don't know how easy it will be to keep wearing this skirt because it blows open and the knot at the waist sticks out and makes it dificult to wear a fitted shirt unless I tuck it in. I am not much of a tucker.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 3 - First Day of School

Sorry about the bad quality of the photo on this one. I wanted to show that I am wearing socks with my skirt. I wonder what the classroom full of 18-20 year olds thought of the one old lady in the class! I think they thought I was the teacher when I walked in! Well, hopefully we will all get to know each other a little as the weeks go by. I was happy that I already knew some of the basics and can recognize the sounds. I think it is going to be a great class!

Oh, I'm wearing my Michele skirt again. Today I wore it with a thin cotton Ann Taylor blouse from about 3 years ago. I was carrying a box to the post office and it rubbed off on my bag and the side of my skirt. So, I will have to use some stain remover on it. Here is a tip: THE BEST stain remover is an old product that comes in a bar of soap - Fels Naptha. Don't take my word for it. Just go to your grocery store and ask for it!!

Learning Japanese

Today I start my new class: Japanese 101! I have always had a fascination with all things asian. Lately, I have been obsessed with Japanese art, design, and culture. I love the movies, I love the music, and I love their sense of style and fashion. I could write a whole book about all the example of what I love and why, but for now, I will give a few brief examples. 1. Hayao Miyazaki is a genious and from what I can tell, a saint. He is a feminist, an ecologist, and an intense artist. If you haven't seen all of his movies, rent them and start. Go out now and see the new Ponyo. 2. I love the classic woodcuts of Utagawa Hiroshige and the contemporary works of Chiho Aoshima especially her City Glow! 3. The music of Tsuji Ayano playing the yukelele - the video is a little cheesy, but honestly, how can you not feel good listening to that and seeing the countryside? 4. The adorable (kawaii) fabric prints.

March of 2008 my family and I went to Tokyo for a week for spring break. We had never taken a short trip like that, just for a vacation. We usually travel for months at a time in connection with my husband's work. We had very high expectations and had prepared ourselves for some let down when fantasy met reality. However, it exceeded our expectations! We absolutely fell in love with it even more. We hope to go back there soon and live for at least a year.

So now, my daughters and I are learning Japanese. They went to a fabulous Japanese language camp last summer called Concordia Language Village. And I am taking a year of it at the university here in Arizona. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The 80's Are Back!

Well, I had to think about accessories with this one and I had to borrow my daughter's necklace, but the sweatshirt is mine. I am proud to say that I hung onto this long enough that it came back in style. I bought this thin french terry sweatshirt from the Gap 14 years ago. I am not going to sell it on ebay! I will let my daughters borrow it if they want. My shoes are made out of hemp and yes, I do wear socks with skirts. I know some people think this is a fashion faux pas (ha ha), but I do it proudly and love it when I see others doing it. I will be focusing on socks a lot over the months since I will have to keep my feet and legs warm. So, look forward to hearing lots about cool socks and other leg accessories!

By the way, I am not trying to make this a fashion blog, and I am DEFinately not trying to be a model! I just want to play with the different manifestations of my 4 skirts and develop my own earth-friendly eco style and see what challenges it presents. I am on my way to see a local play and there will be drama!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Am A Procrastinator!

Day one of the 4 skirts project didn't actually start till 2:30 in the afternoon. Why? Because I spent the morning cleaning the house, doing my computer stuff, digging through the barely dwindling pile of stuff that I am trying to organize or give to the goodwill. I did all this in my nightgown. Yes, I am frequently in my night clothes all morning until I am ready to take a shower and get dressed. I am hoping that this project will give me the kick in the butt that I need to make myself presentable earlier and more often! We shall see...!

Today, I chose Zara. I think she is the most flexible and reliable, a good way to ease myself in. I'm not sure about this shirt but it's Saturday and I am not going to be too hard on myself.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Here They Are...

Well, I made my decision! It was not easy. I have to say I didn't choose the most practical line up - but that would not be fun would it? I may run into dificulty with weather or formal occasions, or heavy working days. I figured those would be the exceptions and the more important thing is that the bulk of the days, I want to have fun with what I am wearing and not get bored or be mistaken for a religious follower who is only allowed to wear skirts. I am doing this by choice and it is supposed to help me get in touch with what clothing really boils down to for me.

So, as you can see, they are each a different fabric. They tend to lean towards the neutral side of color, but they have style. I will tell you a little bit about each of them so you can get to know them and maybe cheer them on as the days go by. I also decided to give them each a name to make it easier to refer to them.

First on the left is a brown hemp wrap around skirt that I will inappropriately refer to as MaryJane. I got it last year at a friend's store in town. It is made by Patagonia. It is pieced and cut on the bias. It had squared pointed edges on the bottom which I cut off because I thought it looked too Stevie Nicks. This way, it is a little more timeless.

Next is a cotton seersucker skirt that I got from J Crew. I will call it Michelle after Michelle Obama who shops and J Crew and maybe she has the same skirt, although I have never seen a photo of her wearing it. I love it because it sits just above my hips, the pleats make it flattering, and it has pockets. It is also a little shorter so it is good for warm weather and it is sporty.

Next is a plaid, wool number from Pendelton. It is a thrift store find and I imagine it is at least 40 years old but these babies were built to last! The beauty of good wool!; made in America!; gorgeous turquoise and green plaid!; for me, this is always a winner. I am calling her Penny. I look forward to mixing this skirt up into a bunch of fun outfits.

Finally, there is an off-white, brown and black, bias cut, elastic waist, flirty skirt from Zara. I will call her - Zara. I got this skirt in Paris in 2001. I have been wearing it regularly since that time. It still fits (partly thanks to the bias cut). It is still in great condition, and I think the style still looks great. It is made of rayon/viscose.

So, it was sad to eliminate some of my other favorite skirts, but, I think I came up with a good group.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


"Live Simply that Others May Simply Live". It's a great quote, filled with altruism that I agree with. Why do we have so many choices, so many things, so much waste, when so many people have little or none? But, I also think that we should live simply for our own good, for our own happiness and sanity. Consumption is the great pacifier but it does not truly satisfy. There are loads of popular expressions that point to this: money can't buy you love (or happiness), it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to pass through the gates of heaven; reduce, reuse, recycle ...

I have always felt a basic affinity with this philosophy and I have never been wealthy or over indulged materially. I go to garage sales and the goodwill, I get hand-me-downs (from clothes to furniture), I buy used cars, I make my own food and clothing. But I have gotten more middle-class as I get older and I have been a packrat and collected more and more stuff till I feel I am drowning in it.

So, I am going to start an experiment in Voluntary Simplicity. I am going to simplify my life by reducing my wardrobe choices. Specifically, I am going to choose 4 skirts and wear them for a year. I will wear various tops and I will wear socks, tights, or leg warmers if it is cold. I will wear night clothes at night and a swimsuit if that situation arises.

I hope that this will have 3 consequences. First, it will help me to appreciate what I have and not always be searching for new and everchanging things to make me happy. I think it will be fun to be creative with using and getting to know the same four items. Second, it will reduce the amount that I consume, the amount of stuff that I bring into my house. I hope it will help me get used to the idea of living with less in other areas as well. Third, it will be a conversation starter. It will be a way to promote the idea of reducing materalism - that is if anyone even notices. Maybe it will prove that people don't pay as much attention to us as we think!

Why skirts? Which skirts? I am kind of a skirt girl and if I had to give up pants or skirts I would definitely not miss pants that much. I think I can easily dress up or down in a skirt. I chose four because I wanted to keep the experiment within the realm of what would be normal in many parts of the world. Also, I love textiles and I thought it would be appropriate to represent a range of fibers. Different fibers have qualities that are suited to different conditions. I will have one that is wool, one cotton, one hemp, and one rayon. I wanted one to be silk but I don't own a silk skirt and I don't want to buy anything new for this.

In case you don't know, this is not an entirely original idea. The specifics, values and philosophy are mine but I am following in the footsteps of two other projects. I was first intriqued a couple of years ago by a project called One Brown Dress. It seemed heavenly to just know every morning that you are going to put on the same thing! Some people say "oh, yeah, that sounds great" and others say "that is horrible and disgusting"! Just that tells me that it is a worthwhile area to look at. Again, recently, I heard of The Uniform Project where a woman had several of the same black dress made and she put it with different accessories everyday to show that you can be creative within uniformity. Finally my own ideas jelled and this is the result. I hope you will follow me (or join me) in this fun journey! Tomorrow I will post the 4 skirts and Saturday I will start!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Reason

Well, now that I have taken a tiny step into the public sphere, it is a good time to look at a couple of the other reason that I started doing it. I have really been enjoying learning how to use the technology (I still have a long way to go) and the regular writing has been great for clearing my head and allowing creative ideas and action to come forward! I have also been enjoying reading the updates on the blogs that I follow and I really appreciate and get so much motivation from the wonderful people out there.

Another reason for my wanting to do a blog is to present and to keep a record of a few large scale, long term projects that I have in my head. I expect them to evolve and become more defined as I go along but I will start now and hope that readers will forgive any vagueness. I actually have 3 related projects that I want to run here.

Here are the three areas of my brain that I have managed to isolate: 1 - art and creating; 2 - day to day life choices; 3 - writing and documenting/reflecting.

My first project that I will track on this blog will be (pause to randomly choose...) Day to Day Life Choices!! This will be a project related to reduced consumption, voluntary simplicity, and personal self-image. I will describe it tomorrow because I have gone on long enough for now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Welcome to my BLOG...(relisted!)

Hi! This is my new blog! I finally took the plunge! As a textile artist, I spend a lot of time creating with my hands and using the non-verbal part of my brain. I have been wanting to get back into writing, so this is the main reason for the blog. It will be my daily verbal exercise (dve)!

There are other reasons as well.
One is that I want a venue for sharing my work, my ideas, my plans, projects, and adventures.
Another is that I have met so many people in the "virtual community", that I want a way to communicate more effectively in that sphere.
Another is that... well, there are lots of other reasons I can go into another day!

So, welcome to my blog! I hope you find it interesting and inspiring! I will try to keep it coherent and digestable! I look forward to a creative interchange so please feel free to post comments etc.



Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Update

No clever title. I am feeling sluggish because there is a wildfire 8 miles from my house and the smoke is making me wheezy and sick even with all the doors and windows shut. I am even forcing my cats to stay inside.

Everyone got up early and off to work and school and I have been sewing and doing some organizational stuff. I have made and posted 2 new bags. I also made one that I gave to my daughter. I am in the middle of a new one today that I hope to finish before dinner. I am having fun using and combining the fabrics that I have - trying not to buy anything new until I have whittled away at my stash.

I had an idea to find another fiber artist, or any art producing friend, and make challenges for each other. For example, we could say, "make something red" or "make a glamorous item" - maybe one challenge per week. I have to figure out who I can do this with and if it should be one person or a group. I guess the internet is the perfect place to find this kind of network, but I never know where to start and how to proceed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday Morning Baby!

Whose gonna play with me? I love the band "EELS" and I love that song to help get me charged up on a Saturday morning. Today, however, I don't plan on playing with anyone. I got up early because the cat was scratching at the screen at the crack of dawn (i.e. 5:45)! I managed to doze off and on till 7:30.
It feels good to be the first one up in the house. I boiled water for tea, made my toast, let one cat out and one cat in, and checked etsy! The tempurature outside and in is perfect for slinking around in my silky nightgown but I have to get dressed because we are having a construction guy over soon to give us an estimate on roof repairs! We can't have another winter of ice damns and melting snow leaking into our backroom - my workroom.
Anyway, I am going to try to finish making the bag I started yesterday, photograph it and get it posted. I think it's pretty cute and the weather is good for photographing and I have my model home.
I have an idea ... I'm not sure I want to commit to it but I think it would be good if I tried to make one item a day for my shop. With some days off I could commit to 300 items in a year. That would be great! It would get me into a better disciplined routine, get my creativity into the forefront of my life and improve my business. I am going to hammer out the plan and let you know.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I have an idea: why not put eyeliner only in the middle of the eyelid to make our eyes look wider and more playful?
Yesterday I finally went and had a couple of spots taken off of my face. A mole on my chin and a weird tag on my lower eyelid. The dermatologist thought I should have them biopsied because they had grown over the past year.
I have to say that it took a lot of reassuring self-talk to get me to go through with it on my own and without vallium. I did some lamaz breathing and held the nurses hand and I have to say it was not as bad as some dental experiences. I am proud of myself for overcoming fear and weakness and getting it done. I even like the little drop of dried blood near where my lashes used to be. It looks like eyeliner.

I have also gotten so much less vain as I get older and more worn out!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Perfect Weather!

Usually when we comment on the weather it is to say something negative about it... "It is sooo hot!" or "It's freezing!" "The wind is driving me crazy!" "Will it ever stop raining?" " Will it ever rain!?"
This time of year in Flagstaff can be just about perfect. When it rains, we need it and are so enlivened by the moisture and the thunder and lightening. Big puffy white clouds can come rolling in against a topaz blue sky, like some dramatic painting in a museum. The temperature can go from 90 degrees F. to around 70.
So, I am trying to say, "Wow, isn't the weather great?" or I am thinking in my mind that this ever-present element in my life is on the very good side right now. Even though the days are getting shorter, we still have at least 6 weeks of gorgeous weather to celebrate!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stranger in a Strange Land

I have an idea - I have lived in the southwestern U.S. for 13 years and I still don't feel like I live here. I thought it would be interesting to do a blog where I write about being an American in an American city but looking at it as a cultural outsider. When we lived in London, we did more to enjoy and explore the area than any of our English friends. We had a fresh perspective that came from being outside of the groove. Maybe if I tried to have the same approach here it would seem more novel and rewarding as opposed to seeming just lost.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Was It All Just Something To Do?

I saw the movie Julie and Julia yesterday. I liked it more than I thought I would. I have to say, that it struck some cords with me. In a nutshell though, I was left wondering: If I do something that I am passionate about - that I enjoy and care about, that I am good at, and no one knows about it, I never get famous or publicly recognized - does that mean that it is less valuable, less important, less meaningful? Like Julia Child says at one point in the movie, "was it all just something to do?" I just don't know the answer to that and I don't know why it seems so important to me (and to others) to expand beyond my small sphere.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Remember that Woody Allen movie? I always think about how clever that title was. I also think about Carl Jung and his dream analysis. He said that women dream about interiors more than men because they are more introverted, domestic, socially enclosed ... I think that I must be extremely female. Or maybe inside, I am not and I just was conditioned to be that way. I don't know, but I do know that I spend a lot of my time inside my head. Even when I am doing various activities, I have a second reel spinning inside my brain. Ekhart Tolle calls it the Egoic Mind. I am supposed to try and quiet it.
The more I do and the more I create, the quieter it gets. But sometimes, the talk revolves around not doing or creating: "what's the point", "it will never work", "you are wasting time" etc. I know this is wrong and I push through it.