Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Mother Nature,

Did you believe I was bragging yesterday?  About all the sunshine and cheer and spring cleaning-ness?  Did you feel the need to take me down a notch, and remind me that rain is ever-possible?  Well, nice try, my friend.  I love me some rain, as well.  I love waking up to the sounds of the bursting clouds, and I love searching for puddles to stomp around in with my nifty, new rain boots.  The perfect Leap Day activity, no?

So, many thanks, Miss Nature.  You and your rain clouds are pretty swell. ;)

Sarah + her nifty, new rainboots

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Here are a few songs that get me in a cheery mood.  Cheery enough to launder my clothes and cleanse the ol' powder room, even.

Spring Cleaning by jesuissarah on Grooveshark

What songs would you add to create a chipper atmosphere?

Friday, February 24, 2012

X marks the spot

my kit: logbook, stamp, ink pads, cloth, pen

Are you a fan of deciphering cryptic clues, embarking on treasure hunts, recording important data in log books, rubber stamps, and being outside, hiking about?  Thought so.  Well, then, letterboxing may be your next favorite hobby.  In case you've yet to 'box, here are the basics:

  1. Clever and creative people carve a stamp.
  2. The stamp is secured, along with a logbook (and hopefully an ink pad), in a water-tight container.  This nifty little package is dubbed the letterbox.
  3. The planter hides the letterbox.  Often the stamp and the 'box's location are linked thematically.  Sometimes, it's just a sweet spot, with a memorable view.  See photos below.
  4. Finally, the planter writes mysterious directions, and posts them online, so you can be a treasure hunter.  Like Indiana Jones, sans all the dangerous boulders and snakes and stuff.
  1. Before you head out on your first hunt, acquire your own logbook and personal stamp.  Part of the fun of letterboxing is carving stamps—both when you create your personal stamp and each time you plant a 'box.  There are countless tutorials online that explain (or even show with video!) how to make your own rubber stamps.  I like to keep it simple, so I've always used erasers and borrowed friends' linoleum cutters.    
  2. Browse Letterboxing North America or Atlas Quest to find a 'box to seek.  Print the clues, or use your smart phone as your electronic treasure map!
  3. When you discover a letterbox (Eureka!), you ink your personal stamp in the letterbox's logbook.  It's also customary to write the date on which you discovered the 'box.  Some people also include little tidbits regarding the weather or scenery, but that's not essential.  Then, be sure to collect your well-earned reward!  Enter the planter's stamp in your log book, and record whatever information you'd like to help capture the memory.

Any questions?  Did you know there were hidden treasures all around you?  Will you begin a quest to find one this weekend?

I couldn't wait till the weekend.  We in the Bay Area experienced unusual winter weather today.  At one point, my car thermometer gauged the outside temperature at 73ยบ!  I knew I wanted to soak in as much sun and outdoorsy air as possible, so I decided today was a lovely day for a letterbox adventure.  I grabbed my 'boxing kit and went in search of this guy at Garin Park in Hayward.  Unfortunately, the letterbox was missing its stamp!  My outing was not for naught, though.  Look at the sights I saw!  I still managed to find some treasure.  :)     

Garin Park; Hayward, CA
the view from the letterbox's hiding place
close up

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of mini-adventures.  Should you become an avid letterboxer, and decide to plant one, let me know!  A) I'd love to seek and find it, and B) I think that'd be another perfect way to participate in the Magic Mission.  ;)  Cheers!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wish ignition (say that 3 times fast!)

I just finished reading Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (yes, I'm well on my way to reading more than my usual number of books intended for adults this year).  One of the circus tents in the story features a Wishing Tree: "You take a candle from the box at the entrance and light it from one that already burns on the tree.  Your wish is ignited by someone else's wish."  Charming concept, no? 

The image reminded me of Yoko Ono's Wish Trees, which were inspired by her childhood memory of writing a wish on a piece of paper and tying it around a tree branch at a temple in Japan.  Wish trees appear in various forms in other cultures around the globe, as well.

If you're still trying to devise a way to participate in the Magic Mission, I believe creating a Wish Tree for your community is another lovely* option.  Igniting some hopefulness in this world fits the purpose of the project perfectly.  :)

*and simple!  All you need is paper, a hole punch, yarn or string, some writing utensils, and wishes!  Oh, and a tree, of course.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspirational Potholes

What?  You heard me.  I'm telling you: folks can make magic pretty much anywhere.  Case in point: check out these re-imagined potholes!

Juliana Santacruz Herrera enhanced the heck out of some potholes in Paris with some yarn.  I originally typed "I wish I'd seen some of JSH's pothole enhancements when I was in Paris last fall," but then I worried I was guilty of humblebragging.  Thought you should know.  (Discovered @ Honestly...WTF.)

And Claudia Ficca and Davide Luciano's cheeky pothole vignettes amuse me to no end.   If potholes persist, why not get some doughnuts, baptisms, and down the rabbit hole-ing out of them?  Read a nifty interview with the creative duo over at My Modern Met.

I hope both the pothole projects inspire you to make some similar magic in your neck of the woods.  You are still cordially invited to participate in my birthday celebration, the Magic Mission.  In fact, the offer does not expire.  :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The ball is rolling

(Pun intended.)  

You guys!  Our first Magic Mission* is complete!  Janet (aka This Confetti Life) tucked some bouncy balls amid, near, and around all the yummy treats at her local Trader Joe's.  I envision a sly Janet, clad in black Wayfarers, black turtleneck, black leggings, black ballet flats and a beige trench coat, looking both ways before painstakingly placing the bouncy ball on the mochi, and then tip-toeing over to the mini peanut butter cups to find the next hiding spot.  I sincerely hope she had fun being a little mischievous, and I hope you help us keep the ball rolling!  

Read the Official Invitation for all sorts of ideas to help spread some magic.  I cannot wait to see how you'll interpret the project!

*Tentative name.  Anyone have a better name for the project?

Friday, February 17, 2012

You are cordially invited

You may have heard (from me): my birthday is nigh!  Which means, my annual opportunity to bring a little beauty into the neighborhood and joy to strangers is also upon us.  I'd really like this tradition to grow.  I hope for more beauty and cheer; I hope to include more communities; I hope to involve more people. 

Consider yourself invited to join in the tradition.  This year, I have not organized one set day and time for one particular activity.  No no no no no!  2012's celebration (which I don't have a clever name for!) is flexible, like Jane Fonda.  You can participate whenever you want, wherever you can!  Just pick one of the following projects to plan and actualize, and do so knowing that you're giving me the best possible gift ever.  Without further ado:

1. Flour some hearts on neighborhood lawns.  Or attack some windows with hearts.  Also, more public he(art) inspiration

2. Make words from pipe cleaners and yarn, and tie them around your 'hood. 

3. Gather a large bouquet of balloons and bring them to mortals in line at the DMV.  Or recreate 2011's classic 100 Balloon Walk.    

4. Paint rocks; distribute.  Have fun finding the perfectly camouflaged hiding spots!  Or perform another brilliant Color Me Katie project, and send tiny messages out into the world for folks to discover.   

5. Pinwheel a fence that looks like it's in need of some whimsy.

    6. Create "Have a nice day!" cards for elderly residents of an assisted living home, or a fun care package for someone you haven't spoken with in a while, and head to the post office.  You may as well bake some cookies or muffins for the postal employees since you're headed to the P.O. anyway.  ;)

    7. Deliver the following to the waiting room at a hospital: fresh flowers (use jars or cans for vases—easily thrifted if you don't have extras); coloring books (Find cute printables here and here. Bummed we've already passed Chinese New Year! But, behold: Mardi Gras pages.) and crayons; sudoku and crossword puzzles and pencils; magazines headed to the recycling bin; and don't forget little envelopes of coins to tape to vending machines.

    8.  Craft up some crowns and costumes (see gorgeous image below, for which I wish I knew the source), collect musical instruments (or noisemakers—pots, pans, and wooden spoons in a pinch), and march down the street in a merry parade.  Bounce around a lot, and if people ask what you're celebrating, say, "2012 is a Leap Year!"

    9. Launch some guerilla gardening in your neighborhood, with this simple and comprehensive How To.  Or for less of a commitment, drop some seed bombs where you'd like to see some color.  (Stilettos and red bag optional.)  Here's an alternative recipe that uses newspapers rather than fertilizer and clay.  (Heart-shaped bombs also optional.)

    p.s. Be sure to do your research, i.e. select plants or seeds that are hearty and native to your area, be aware of soil and weather conditions, etc.!

    10. Set up a lemonade stand, but don't charge for your refreshments.  Or create your own ice cream cart (insulated backpack + an umbrella?), and wander around the local lake or park distributing free, frozen yumminess.

    11. Do you have a Polaroid (or any type of instant) camera?  Set up a "booth" complete with backdrop (as simple as striped, floral, or solid bedsheets, or as fancy as this glamorous deal) and bag o' props, at a park or other public area.  Props can include, but are certainly not limited to: pointy party hats, viking hats (I see a trend here), masquerade masks, superhero capes, Mr. Potato Head lips, face paint, mini-chalkboard + chalk, or anything you have on hand!  Enjoy being photographer for a day, free of charge, to park visitors, tourists, and random passersby.   

    12. Do you have bunches of books on the shelves that you'll probably never read again?  Or approximately $3 to spend on a bag of books at your local thrift store?  Plant them all over your neighborhood—at laundromats, in cafes, on public transportation—a la Bookcrossing.  Include little notes inside the covers (or using Post-its) of each book to let finders know you intended for them to find and read it.  Encourage them to pass the books on as well! 

    13. Invent a similar project of your own!  The only stipulation is that your scheme must bring joy (big, small, or both!) to at least one other person apart from yourself.        

    Whew!  That's a lot of joy-creating to ponder.  I do hope you decide to join me in embarking upon one of these missions, if not for bringing a unique experience to your community, then in honor of my birthday. ;)  Also, remember when I said (oh so long ago, way up there at the top of this post) that I want this tradition to grow?  To include more communities and involve more people?  Please invite your friends and family to participate, and feel free to send this post all around your social media haunts.  I'd love to hear about pinwheeled fences in Seattle, pop-up Polaroid booths in Austin, book fairies in Providence, or your very own idea wherever you may be!

    Please RSVP in the comments, and let me know which project you plan to undertake!  If possible, please take photos (or video!), and send me a little note when you've completed your mission.  Ideally, I'd like to share all of the magic you create here on We hope for more.  But, if you'd prefer to keep your magic between us, I'd still appreciate a recap.  :)

    Happy (my) birthday to you!

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    2010 was the year of the yarn; 2011 was the year of latex!

    Right.  So in 2010, my posse beautified the neighborhood with yarn hearts.  In 2011, we kept the tradition alive, but the project leaned a bit more toward art of the performance variety.  We walked around Lake Merritt with bouquets of rainbow-colored, heart-shaped balloons, handing them over to kids we encountered along the path.  The 100 Balloon Walk, as I dubbed the project, was one of my favorite events of 2011—see #3

    Again, I highly recommend creating similar sorts of cheer and merry memories in your neighborhood.  Tomorrow, I shall provide suggestions regarding how to do so*. 

    *Hint: you're all invited to participate in my 2012 birthday celebration!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    February is my favorite

    It's true.  I hear countless (non-Californian) folks lamenting the oft-maligned second month of the year.  Mostly due to weather issues, I suppose.  But they shall never convince me that February is anything but perfect.

    Reasons February is the best:
    • it only has 28 days in a common year, making it unique
    • every four years, we get a quirky 29th "leap" day!
    • there were always two 3-day weekends from school thanks to Lincoln's birthday and Presidents' Day
    • Valentine's Day!
    • my birthday!

    See?  So much to celebrate.  To quote myself, I like to use my birthday as an opportunity to spread cheer, both to friends and strangers—it has become an annual ritual of sorts.  In 2010, I invited friends to help me beautify my neighborhood by yarning up some hearts on a chain link fence.  (You can read more about the beautifying mission/see more photos over on This Confetti Life.)  It was one of my most favorite days ever.  I highly recommend it, should you notice a fence in your neighborhood that is seriously lacking in hearts.  ;)

     Happy February to you!

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012


    Today, we celebrate love.  I'm down with that.  I may not support holiday-centric commercialism and blind consumerism, but I love love—both the giving and receiving of.  I'm into the simple observations and aesthetic of Valentine's day: the colors red and pink, heart-shaped everythings, doilies, glitter, handmade gifts, sweet gestures, and all things cute.  I rock a made-by-me red, white, and pink glittered-heart garland (on my mantle, not my person) with the best of them.  And, I believe there are more forms of love to celebrate than the "romantic".  To name but a few: love for my cats, different cultures, nature, and myself.  Being alone helps me focus on why I appreciate all that I'm fond of, deepening my admiration for the other whos and whats I love.  I agree wholeheartedly with Tanya Davis' message in this lovely video.  Be your own valentine and treat yourself to a look-see: 

    My favorite lines: " . . . but lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it . .  . Cuz if you're happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is okay."

    Isn't that the best sentiment?  Will you treat yourself to some alone time this week?  What will you do on your date with you? 

    p.s. The valentine I made for Henri Matisse was mentioned honorably on SFMOMA's blog today!  When I finished gluing the final piece, I was so glad I pressed on despite my original fears.  I love making myself happy.  :)

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Do you like it?

    Here's what I crafted to express my love for Henri MatisseFemme au chapeau is one of my favorite paintings of all time (conveniently housed at SFMOMA*), and I decided to show my love for her in the style of Matisse's cutouts.  I love that I didn't even mention that last bit when I emailed my entry, and the folks @ SFMOMA note that in the caption of my love letter.  (Of course they did, they're SFMOMA!)  Yay for art, love, and love of art!  

    *and she must kinda like me, too, since she basically followed me to Europe last fall.  I saw her at the National Galleries at the Grand Palais in Paris, where she was the star of the Stein Exhibit.  :)

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    All of a sudden, I really want to take a cruise

    I already confessed my love for Richard Scarry.  Though I really could say scads more on that matter.  And you may have noticed (though I didn't really mention) my huge crush on Mary Blair's art (see photo collage for # 1).  In fact, when I was checking out some of Mary Blair's work, I learned about Aurelius Battaglia, the artist behind the delightful illustration above.  I'll have to investigate some more, but it seems Battaglia's creations have similar qualities to what I love in Scarry and Blair's work: fantastic color, whimsical scenes, and straight-up charm.  Doesn't that scene make you want to hop from port to port on a fancy cruise liner?  Or at least acquire a jaunty hat?    

    I love discovering new art to get all giddy about.
    Who are some of your favorite artists? 

    Cruise Ship image source
    Sextet image source

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Dear Henri,

    I am crafting a letter that conveys just how much you mean to me.

      More soon.

    Dance (I) at MoMA, New York
    The Red Studio at MoMa, New York
    The Snail at Tate Modern, London

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Do you ♥ art?

    In honor of Valentine's Day, love, art and the love of art, SFMOMA is hosting a contest over on their Facebook page.  Read all the fine print here, but basically the task is to create a love letter to a work of art. 

    My first thought was, "What a dandy of an idea!  I must do this."  But then my old nemesis fear* kicked in, because just look at the letters that've already been submitted!  There's a mix tape for Mondrian, a confessional note that looks like it was intercepted by WK's 7th grade science teacher for Warhol, and a sweet homage to Paul Klee.  "There's no way I can compete with all this awesome," my trying-so-hard-to-be-helpful-but-ultimately-and-ironically-unhelpful inner voice thought.  So, then I

    • summoned my courage,
    • asked myself if writing such a letter would make me happy, 
    • tried to imagine my answer if it weren't for a contest and there were no other intimidating letters looming over me, 
    • and decided that I should write a love letter to a work of art.  

    Not so I can create something "better" than the other participants; not so I can win free tickets to SFMOMA.  Because writing a love letter to a piece of art is precisely the kind of project I get all geeky about.  Because I do love art and I love writing letters.  Because I love open-ended assignments that allow for unbridled creativity.  Oh yes, I will write this letter for me**.  :)

    Do you also love art and letter writing?  Will you join me in this Valentine's Day "assignment"?  I'll be looking for your entries!  ;) 

    *My thoughts on fear Part I and Part II     
    **and most likely Henri Matisse

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    We have a winner!

    Turns out, Cleo was not as interested in my first giveaway as I'd hoped (even after I dipped the papers in catnip).  Luckily, Smokey, ever the needy pleaser, volunteered.  And Smokey has spoken.  Or pawed, rather.

    The lucky recipient of Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me is ...

    Janet!  (Who I hope is leading a very confetti-filled day, since today happens to be her birthday!)  Head on over to her internet home, This Confetti Life, to wish her a wonderful one.

    Thanks for participating ladies and gent.  And thanks for visiting my internet home.  :)  I wish you all a very splendid weekend!

    p.s. Who knew selecting a name in a drawing was such exhausting work?

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    I have too many favorite artists to share

    King Kong and Mushrooms (detail)

    But I gotta show you Megan Whitmarsh tonight because there is time sensitiveness to address!  There are still seventeen hand-embroidered prints of her piece Light Dance available for purchase over on Tiny Showcase*.  Hand-embroidered, people.  Here's a detail of artwork that could be hanging in your den/craft room/cubicle/whatever this time next week (handling + shipping permitting):

    Light Dance (detail)

    I just love her use of color, her compositions, and her sense of humor.  And that she incorporates embroidery into her art.  Check out some of my other favorite pieces by Ms. Whitmarsh:

    Furry Costumes
    Darth Vader
    Future Rock

    Remind me next week to show you some of my other favorite artists.  And speaking of reminders.  Here's an eleventh hour one for ya (okay, maybe it's a ninth + change hour reminder): 11:59 p.m. tonight is the deadline to enter my very first giveaway.  Up for grabs is a copy of Marcel the Shell's picture book.  Get thee to Monday's post to learn how to enter the drawing!  See you back here tomorrow, when Cleocatra and I announce the winner!  ;)     
    *Tiny Showcase is a really cool website that offers affordable, limited-run prints by wonderful artists once a week.  The reason the prints are affordable?  They're tiny