Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Trading Tortoise

It's no secret that I am a fan of 
  • art
  • travel
  • exploration
  • spreading the beauty
  • stories
  • documenting said stories, and
  • all things awesome.

If you also love any of the above, I encourage you to watch Monica Choy and Souther Salazar's Kickstarter video, and be inspired.  The duo imagined a way to combine all of the above into a unique experience called The Trading Tortoise.  I love that Ms. Choy and Mr. Salazar created a way to give (both to those who are lucky enough to witness the sure-to-be-stunning installation in person, as well as the pledgers who earn rewards for donating via Kickstarter) and to facilitate giving, among people from communities far and wide, at their traveling trade post.  Not to mention, the stories behind traded items will be a gift available to all on the website.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels The Trading Tortoise is an absolutely necessary project, because their Kickstarter campaign met its funding goal last night, with 17 days to go.  Even though the project has been funded, you can still contribute (and earn super cool rewards like postcards, mixed CD's, and zines created while the Tortoise is on the road!).  Extra dollars will go toward making extra stops on the tour.  I hope they stop in a city near you, so you are able to see the Tortoise and trade something special for something marvelous.

What would you bring to trade?  Would you make something for the occasion?  Do you already own an object you'd like to share with someone from somewhere else?  Just thinking about the possibilities makes me giddy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

That's the spirit!

True fact: I love receiving texts from Alicia.  Alicia tends to text me when she notices awesome things—street musicians with fancy instruments and the like.  As though she's a magic scout, keenly attuned to detect wonderful things, compelled to alert me to the beauty that abounds.  A couple weeks ago, she spotted this charmingly embellished advertisement on a BART train, and gifted it to me.  Behold the Googly Eyed Gnome!      

I believe we should start a movement to make 53% of all texts, messages of this sort.  (The other 47% can be the practical kind, of course.)  Agreed?

Sweet.  The next time you're out and about, I challenge you to 
  1. recognize when you're witnessing something worthy of your admiration,
  2. take a moment to appreciate whatever you see,
  3. snap a photo, and 
  4. send that photo to someone you think will share in your joy.

It'll be like one big, never-ending scavenger hunt for awesome.  We can assign points for various sightings: 25 for spotting an origami dinosaur on a park bench, 50 for a yarnbombed bike rack, 996 for a unicorn noshing on an ice cream cone.  We'll call our game Magic Scout.   

p.s. My cousin Melissa also plays this game.  She found a purty pink-haired gal in San Francisco.  How many points should we award her?

Friday, April 13, 2012

I did it!

One of my goals for 2012 was to read at least three books written for an adult audience.  Considering that I often go on young adult fiction binges that can last upwards of eleven months, planning to read three was doable, but certainly not a given.  I'm proud to say that as of April 11, 2012, when I completed Sherman Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, three of the eight books I've read since January 1, were not written for adolescents!  (Insert my happy dance here—which bears a striking resemblance to the twins' moves.)

That said, I want to share a graphic novel (written for young adults) I recently read with you.  Meet the Janes, who are the cast of characters in The Plain Janes, a tale written by Cecil Castellucci and illustrated by Jim Rugg. 

After the main Jane's parents move her to suburbia in the name of safety, our leading lady manages to make friends with three other Janes-of-various-spellings.  Together, they form The P.L.A.I.N. Janes, a secret "art girl gang" whose mission is to create thought-provoking public art, in hopes of inspiring their strip-mall loving neighbors to appreciate beauty.  P.L.A.I.N. = People Loving Art in Neighborhoods.

Reasons these Janes are kind of my kindred:   
  • Main Jane's (far left above) first thought as she stares at the sky from the perfectly manicured lawn in her new yard, notebook by her side, bird chirping overhead: "I'm in hell."
  • And as she enters her new high school, she tells herself: "Remember it's just four years . . . Om, and all that."
  • Jane-with-the-bob (second from right above) puts on a prosthetic nose and recites from Cyrano De Bergerac when she tries out for the school's production of Grease, much to the horror of the "cool" girls running the auditions.
  • "I want her to stop worrying and love the world again." —Main Jane, speaking about her mom.  
  • P.L.A.I.N. projects include: installing hundreds of stuffed animals outside an animal shelter with clever signs encouraging pet adoption; a message bottle tree, with instructions like dance, hug, and skip inside the hanging bottles; and yarn bombing parking meters and fire hydrants with striped cozies. 

No doubt you understand why I would invite the P.L.A.I.N. Janes to help fulfill my birthday mission.  These girls would be all over #s 5, 9, and 12!  

p.s. You're still totally invited to help fulfill my birthday mission, too.  The Janes would be so proud, and I would be impressed, grateful, and a lot of other positive adjectives!   

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest blogger

My Cleocatra can be quite opportunistic.  When I was writing tomorrow's blog post*, I left my laptop open for all of 49 seconds** to retrieve my clean laundry from the dryer.  The sight above is what welcomed me upon my return.  After I snapped this shot, Cleo looked up at me, and I swear, she raised her eyebrows, and with her eyes asked, "You haz a question?".  Oh, and here is the message she wished to impart to y'all.  Profound, no?  

Luckily, her paws didn't click Publish.  Unlike the time she managed to save Google Reader as a bookmark entitled ;/ for me.  So thoughtful, that Cleo. 

*Yes, I'm back!  Until I take my next impromptu blogging spring break, that is.

**I reenacted the whole event in order to accurately report to you how long it took Cleo to wreak her keyboarding havoc.  I am nothing if not dedicated to authentic communication.

Proof I am alive

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Be flattered, J.Crew

I've been eyeing these J.Crew shorts for a couple months.  But, I am simply not willing to pay $60 + tax for a pair of shorts.  A pair of shorts, people!  J.Crew, you are not that cute.  Okay, you are.  You totally are.  Nevertheless, when I can create something similar to what you're trying to sell me at a 75% margin?  With items I already own?  Not willing.  Sarah is my name, and creativity driven by frugality is my game.    

Supplies: denim shorts, pencil with an unused eraser, measuring tape, fabric ink, dish to serve as paint palette, and newspaper to protect the table.

In progress: I didn't care to be perfectly precise, but I didn't want random dots all over the place, either.  So, I used the measuring tape as a guide to keep my dotted rows more-or-less straight.  For the first row, I started at the waist, and placed each dot about halfway between the sewed seams, roughly 1" apart from each other.  Each subsequent row is approximately 1" below the one above, and staggered ½" laterally, too.  See the pattern?


And, yes, I've worn these in public*, completely oblivious to the fact that the right leg sports a good 1½" more denim than the left. 

*at Disneyland, no less!  See bottom collage.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I'm still working on my French knots . . .

As promised, I crafted a bit this weekend.  I finished a beanie for Ben (pom-pom included), and a free-form embroidery piece (see above).  This needle work totally counts as my weekly doodle assignment.  A threaded doodle.  A threadoodle, if you will.  

I'm not sure what to do with it, actually.  It's on a flour sack towel, which is enormous, and the embroidery is in a corner, so it's not like the design will be on display when I fold the towel to hang it.  A framed wall hanging?  A throw pillow?  What do you think—what can I Cinderella this into so the embroidery will be prominently featured?    

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Get in [Rain] Gear

Score one for the stormtrackers.  It's a-rainin' out there today!  When I must venture outside into a rainstorm, I love bundling up and gathering my waterproof gear.  Cheerful and cheeky rain gear helps brighten the mood, providing welcome color and smiles in a gray situation.  Some favorites:

  1. I like the clear umbrella for its simplicity and versatility—it won't clash with any outfit.  Plus, it allows you to go a little crazier with your boot and/or coat selection. 
  2. Polka dots are classic, as is red.  
  3. I actually own this rainbow umbrella (had to purchase it to safely confront the rainstorm that trapped me in New York City's MOMA).  
  4. Love the "goggles" that let you see out of the deep dome of this adorable yellow umbrella
  1. How cute is this NYC subway poncho?  I wish it were printed with other city maps as well.
  2. I think I need to purchase this anorak, pronto.  I have cute boots and umbrellas, but no rain coat.  Speaking of boots . . .

For Your Feet
  1. Hunters are the quintessential wellies, and I'm a fan of the short version.  In pink.
  2. Again, you cannot go wrong with polka dots.  I would love to splash some puddles with Chooka's Posh Dots in mimosa
  3. Believe it or not, these floral cuties are from Target! 

Treat for your ears 

Ok, these earrings will not assist in keeping you dry.  At all.  But, I couldn't resist including one last bit of rain-inspired adornments.  
  1. I adore asymmetrical earrings.   
  2. I just want to spin these red and white umbrellas like I'm Gene Kelly and their main purpose in this world is to serve as my dancing prop.

p.s. If only someone would invent something to protect that area between where the coat ends and the boots begin . . . curse you, sideways rain!     

Friday, March 30, 2012

Craft the Rain Away

Weather reports predict more rain this weekend in my neck of the woods.  More rain = more indoor time.  More indoor time = nonstop craft-fest (okay, maybe not nonstop, like, I'm sure I'll pause to feed my cats now and then. And should you concur with my transitive relation re: rain + craft time, you are welcome to take snack breaks, of course.).  So, I browsed ye olde world wide web in search of fun, rain-related projects to share with you.  Behold:

Bust out your scissors and electrical tape to create a mural with brightly colored construction paper, then admire your relaxing rainstorm like Color Me Katie.  If the outdoors aren't currently cooperating, might I suggest this soothing sound accompaniment?

If you'd rather create more dainty wall art, try your hand at embroidery.  Take inspiration from Katrien of pilli pilli.  Aren't her cloudy creations delightful?  I love the simplicity, and how they feel simultaneously modern and traditional.  I know the third piece depicts snowflakes, not rain drops, but it's so pretty, I just had to show you.  (Onetwo, three.)

Feel like channeling your inner Calder?  There are some darn sweet tutorials for cloudy/rain-inspired mobiles online.  Granted, the instructions for the one above (available here) are in French, but I'm sure someone with your smarts, and a little help from Google Translate, would make it work.  Other options:

Happy Raincloud Mobile

Or, if you'd prefer to pretend you're a Project Runway hopeful, alter some t-shirts using homemade appliques or bleach.  (I'm certain you could work wonders with a bleach pen if you'd rather "draw" than "paint".)

If you complete any of the above projects, you deserve to treat yourself.  This charming crocheted brooch would be a perfect reminder of your rainy day crafting—like a grown up Girl Scouts merit badge.  Be prepared (for people to compliment your uncommon ability to accessorize)!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rainy Day Comfort Food

My most cherished comfort food, no matter the weather or season, is a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.  Imagine my delight when I discovered a recipe that merges the flavors of each into one sandwich.  

I intended to make that tasty sandwich and attest to its awesomeness here.  Alas, I got lazy.  Or more precisely: hungry.  I didn't have time to roast tomatoes for 15 minutes, people.  I opted for a shortcut version, which was tasty, but I'm sure doesn't compare.  I am content, however, that this (↑) was in my belly in under five minutes.   

Shortcut version:
  • Slice a tomato.  Salt and pepper the slices.   
  • Spread some fancy stone ground mustard on slices of whole wheat sourdough.  
  • Slice* enough cheddar to cover the bread.  Arrange cheddar slices on the bread.  Grind some pepper on the cheese, as well.  Trust. 
  • Place the tomato slices on top of the cheese, and pop the concoction in the toaster oven for a few minutes.  
  • Voilà!  Open-faced grilled cheese + tomato sandwiches for the impatient/famished.

*This post brought to you by the word, slice.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

If candles aren't enough

Fact: baking bread, muffins, or cookies further enhances the cozy factor during a rained-in morning, afternoon, or evening.  The aroma wafting from the oven is almost as delicious as the end product.  Almost.

I baked these Almond Roca Cookies for Ben's dad yesterday because a) it was his birthday, b) Almond Roca is his favorite candy, and c) see above.    

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rained in

If touring my Rain Gallery and listening to my Rain Dance playlist aren't quite enough to entice you to pledge the Rain Appreciation Society, perhaps I can convince you with the following cozy scene.  Don't get me wrong, I love running, letterboxing, picnicking, and all sorts of outdoor activities.  But when I'm rained out (or in, as it were), I revel in the opportunity to create a snug-as-a-bug atmosphere.  Imagine: lit candles in comforting scents, starry string lights, soft and colorful blankets, chunky wool socks, and a treasured book and/or favorite film.  And if you don't have access to the real thing, this could help set the mood as well. 

What are your must-haves in a snug-as-a-bug situation?   

Please note: In the interest of a symmetrical vignette, I left out two of my favorites: warm beverages and cuddly kitty cats.  In no way should this reflect upon their essentialness.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom
Hazelnut Latte Soy Candle by Koko Candles 
Warm Vanilla Soy Candle by Sprout Candle Shop
Bee Keeper's Quilt, pattern by Tiny Owls Magic Attic
Starry String Lights @ Restoration Hardware
Brahms Mount Cotton Herringbone Throw @ Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Company
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Amélie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Monday, March 26, 2012

Let it rain

Further inspired by the rain, I compiled a playlist.  I hope my favorite rainy day songs encourage you to celebrate the awesomeness that is spring rain! 

Rain Dance by jesuissarah on Grooveshark

p.s. My seventeen-year old self would be very disappointed that November Rain was not included.  And I fear to think what nine-year old Sarah would have to say about my deliberate snubbing of Prince.  Don't get me wrong.  Prince is brilliant.  I love him.  I just wasn't in the mood for eight- and nine-minute, gospel/pop/rock/orchestral pieces with epic guitar solos.  If you are in that very specific mood, by all means, enjoy the Purple Rain.  :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rain Gallery

It's not a secret that I am a fan of rain.  Yesterday was a non-stop bucket fest, and it got me daydreaming about creating a cozy space.  In my next home, I plan to dedicate a wall to art that celebrates the wettest of weathers.  Please join me as I take you on a virtual tour of which prints I'd include in my Rain Gallery.  If it's not currently raining where you are, might I suggest you click here for simulating the proper mood to browse such a collection?  Ok, got the sound effects—real or simulated?  Let's dance.  In the representational puddles.  

Rainy long walk, by holli

I'm a sucker for images of a moody/pensive/solemn girl and her creature.  Add in some raindrops?  Sold.

Out of the Rain, by blackoutwell

Foxes seeking and sharing protection under a stripey umbrella?  Get out!

Rainy Day, by Ashley Percival

More anthropomorphism?  Gorgeous sweaters and colorful eyewear that I want to wear?  I can't take it!

rain drops, by lulubeaucoup

Great color and composition.  I'd use the simple drop images to break up my obsession with whimsical animal scenes.  ;)

The Rain, by Aeropagita Prints

Love the color combination.  This print would be perfect on a painted door, framed by beveling.

Take Shelter, by Ashley G

Are you beginning to recognize the aesthetic I'm drawn to?  The funny thing is, I didn't even have to conduct a search for "rain".  All of these prints are from my favorite artists' shops I stalk follow on Etsy.  Apparently people with good taste are inspired by rain.  ;)

Let's Stay Home, by Ashley G

That's some pretty rain right there, don't you think?

One of Those Days, by Ashley G

Klimt-like, no?  Ashley G's illustrations are stunning.  I own two of her prints that are non-rain related, and I adore them.*
Monsieur I, by Cosas Mínimas

Blanca Gómez is another favorite.  Her colors slay me.  
Mademoiselle under the rain, by Cosas Mínimas

I'd pair this gal with this guy (↓).  Back to back.
Monsieur under the rain, by Cosas Mínimas

Seeing all these prints stacked here has me imagining various arrangements and cluster formations.  So fun to work around a theme.  If you were curating a collection of prints on a particular theme, which would you choose?

Thanks for touring my make-believe Rain Gallery, friends.  I hope you are able to enjoy the sounds and sights of spring rain from a cozy vantage point. 

p.s. Wouldn't cloud lanterns hanging above the Rain Gallery suit the theme delightfully?

image by alexis mire

*Said prints may or may not depict a moody/pensive/solemn girl and her creature.  :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's Wednesday

I usually don't condone violence of any sort, but I feel you, Wednesday.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Customize your Notes-to-Self

Today I turned a blank Moleskine into a customized spot (pun intended) to record my notes-to-self.  If you'd like to do something similar, all you need to gather is

  • a blank notebook
  • various papers (I used what I already had on hand: origami paper, a postcard, and a TOMS catalog that came in the mail yesterday.  But think of the possibilities!  Gloriously colored junk mail, favorite photographs, index cards, graph paper, wrapping paper scraps, etc. etc. etc.!)
  • a 1" diameter circle punch (similar to this guy)
  • glue

I simply punched out some circles of the colors and patterns I fancied, arranged them around the cover until I had a layout I liked, then glued the little dots in place.  My only suggestion to help you make a less janky version is to use a paint brush when applying the glue.  Distributing a smooth and even layer of glue might help eliminate some of the bumpiness I saw under some of the thinner papers (I'm looking at you, origami paper!).  If you don't have a circle punch on hand, you can use something circular, like a can of tomato paste or a quarter, and trace it with a pencil, then cut it out with scissors.  I think different-sized circles would be très cute, too.  Or abandon the circle idea altogether, and cut out star shapes or triangles or hearts.  Or create whatever kind of collage you like.  Endless, the possibilities are!

A tiny little notebook is perfect for carrying around with you at all times.  You never know when you'll need to record a magical moment (e.g. when you discover a fantastic mural in your otherwise sleepy hometown, splash about in some puddles with your fancy rain boots, or create the perfectly cheerful playlist).  I write in mine at the end of each day, and challenge myself to list all of the wonderful things I observed, created, or felt during the past 24 hours.  By simply knowing that I expect this of myself each evening, I am more aware of noticing the goodness as its happening each day.  

Or you could use a little notebook like this to keep a running list of all the things you'd like to createHere's a list of ideas to get you started, if you're drawing a blank.  ;)

Happy weekend, everyone!   

p.s. (Blurry) bonus photo of Cleo's photobomb attempt.