24 December, 2012

Merry and Bright

To quote the Peanuts Gang, "Christmas time is here".
The halls are decked, the tree is trimmed.
The stockings are hung by the stairs with care (it's what you do when you don't have a chimney).
The leftover trays of cookies from last night's parties serve as today's breakfast.
And lunch. And, quite possibly, dinner.
It's snowing.
 The tv is on, and Judy Garland is singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".
So do that. Make it Merry. Make it Bright.
And may all your Christmases be white.
Happy happy to you, my Dear Readers.

03 December, 2012

And So This Is Christmas

Over the weekend, I dragged the big bins of Christmas decorations down from the attic.
Nephew 1 was so excited. His eyes, how they twinkled, as he opened box after box of carefully wrapped vintage glass ornaments.
Mine were filled with panic: visions of the two little boys, already deep in the grips of Santa Fever, invading my tiny, glass and glitter-filled space multiple times weekly, danced through my head.
So, back up to the attic with two still half-filled bins of decorations I went.
But the glass balls stayed behind.
In bowls and in vases, and on roll-reducing crochet doilies. And on much, much higher shelves than in years past.
And it looks like they're there to stay, at least for the next couple of years.
For this summer, those two will become three, and a new little bundle of awesome will be invading this space this time next year.
What a lucky aunt I am.


23 November, 2012

Shop 'Til You Drop

Hey friends...
Just wanted to let you know there's a little sale happening in my Etsy Shop.
Enter the code MANYTHANKS at checkout
to take 15% off your entire purchase through Monday.
Because all of you are at the top of the list of things I am grateful for this year.

21 November, 2012

Fly Like A...Turkey

As a rule, I generally steer clear of parades.
Something to do with a crippling fear of clowns. And things on stilts.
That being said, I've kinda always wanted to go to the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.
And, while I've spent many a Thanksgiving in New York, it's always been upstate, just a quick hop and a skip past the city.
But the giant, character-shaped balloons have me thinking that perhaps, one year, a detour, even the kind that makes you late for pie, might be an ok thing to do.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

20 November, 2012

In Stitches

It is no secret that Jenny Hart knows her way around a needle and thread.
Her Sublime Stitching book (and those that have followed since) single-handedly brought the antiquated art of needlework solidly into the 21st Century, giving it a modern twist with stitch-by-stitch patterns for such kitschy goodness as margaritas, burlesque queens, and mom tattoos.
But her embroidered take on concert posters is just, well, sublime.
I can only wonder what my grandmas wou;d've made of that.

19 November, 2012

You Are What You Eat

Thanksgiving happens this week.
At least, here in The States it happens.
This is a big one for us.
America, in general, is not really a big food culture.
You would be hard pressed to believe that this week, though.
Battles are being staged in supermarkets across the country for the last few picked-over brussel sprouts and dented cans of Redi-Whip.
Highly orchestrated schedules have been mapped out to fit everything into the oven at just the right time.
Tables are being extended, and chairs being pulled from every dusty corner of the house.
The fine china has been washed; the good wine glasses are drying in the drainboard.
The same meal, in some form or another, is being served in every single household across the country, for family and friends gathered from near and far.
It is the one day out of the year that we Americans really identify ourselves with the foods of our land.
For on Thanksgiving, we become like the rest of the world, and celebrate our heritage through food.

{Flags made from the food of the countries they represent.
(USA, United Kingdom, France, Italy)
Created by the WHYBIN/TBWA advertising agency for the 2011 Sydney International Food Festival}

15 November, 2012

Like a Record, Baby

A few weeks ago, on a particularly wet and ugly day, I pulled out my dusty old lo-fi turntable and a stack of B-52's records.
It was a desperate attempt to amuse two house-bound nephews.
It worked.
Nephew 1 seemed to have some idea what I was talking about when I suggested listening to records.
When he saw them, he stated that they were "just like really big cds!"
And as soon as he heard the first notes of Rock Lobster, Nephew 2 was on board, doing his funny little baby dance.
Big. Hit.
Nephew 1 kept dragging out more and more records, spending the entire afternoon sitting on the floor staring at the spinning discs, wondering how, exactly, all of his favorite songs were coming out of the black vinyl.
Nephew 2 was content to break into sporadic dancing whenever he saw fit.
Happiness all around.
It made me rediscover all of the albums I forgot I owned, enjoying the pop and hiss that can only be achieved through turntable magic.
It also got me to thinking about Sleeveface,
the genius project in which people submit photos of themselves "recreating" album covers,
often with absolute brilliance.

14 November, 2012

Like the Weather

The weather here has been, in an overused word, extreme.
The summer was almost unbearably hot, and it was followed by an immediate and definite autumn.
No slow lull into the changing season. Just hot, then cold-ish.
Two weeks ago, we were hunkering down while Sandy blew her angry winds past the windows.
(We escaped any real damage; just lots of fallen leaves and branches, and a roof shingle or two. We were lucky. Really, really lucky.)
Hurricanes, by their very nature, are of a tropical ilk. Days after this one, temperatures were just barely making it above the freezing mark.
Last week, it snowed.
All of these extremes in temperature and conditions take a toll.
Not just on our wardrobes and immune systems, which are struggling to keep up from day to day, but on our streets.
And streets around these parts aren't exactly smooth and baby's butt-like to begin with.
The crazy temperatures have the blacktop contracting and expanding, buckling and pothole-ing.
And apparently, we aren't the only ones with a pothole problem.
In Paris, the problem is so bad that it caused a fed-up Juliana Santacruz Herrera to take to the streets and yarn-bomb the pesky pits.
Perhaps I should grab some yarn and needles and take a page from Herrers's book.

31 October, 2012


Tiny Barack Obama made a pretty cute pirate!
Happy Halloween, Spookies.
Hope you get more treats than tricks.

30 October, 2012

Who's That Girl

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Wonder Woman.
I paraded around daily in my star spangled underoos, yellow plastic crown on my head, declaring whichever piece of furniture I was sitting on to be my invisible helicopter.
I also wanted to be Stevie Nicks.
I would wear one of my mom's flowered sundresses and spin around the backyard, pretending I was in the Gypsy video.
As a slightly older child, I wanted to be Barbara Walters, after doing a school report on female journalists. If Christiane Amanpour had been around then, I'm sure she'd have been the focus of that particular phase.
I still have the need-to-be-cut bangs from the time I wanted to be Chrissie Hynde.
But Stella Ehrhart takes things to an entirely new level.
The incredibly cool eight year old from Omaha, Nebraska, goes to school each day dressed as a different historical woman.
Activists, artists, actresses, singers, Ehrhart has dressed as them all.

Stella as Aung San Suu Kyi
Stella as Georgia O'Keefe
Stella as Joan Baez
Now that I'm an even bigger little girl, I kinda want to be Stella Ehrhart.
'Cause she's all kinds of awesome.

29 October, 2012

Lost in the Supermarket

Last spring, or, better yet, just before the spring, I flung myself full tilt boogie into craft fairs, art markets, and other such handmade extravaganzas. I made and made and made, stocked up on and embellished little brown paper shopping bags, designed and laboriously hand-cut a ginormous stack of business cards, and thought, fleetingly, about changing up my displays.
You see, my displays are a bit of a touchy subject for me. They were thrown together, literally, out of a few pieces of scrap plywood, decoupaged in a paper quilt of vintagey floral scrapbooking papers, and poked and prodded with pastel-painted cup hooks. Rough-hewn as they might have been, they did the trick. They showed off the necklaces that started this whole little juggernaut off with great and eye-catching aplomb, setting my humble little booth apart from the other guys.
But, being hastily thrown together out of scraps, and carted too many times to too many outdoor shows to count, they are a bit worse for the wear. They were only ever expected to make it through that first show. That was two years ago.
Every second person to enter my little space at every single show I've ever done has, in some way or another, expressed a love of my displays. The displays with the holes where a hook can no longer be screwed in. The display whose back is covered in duct tape (classy). The displays with the torn paper edges, slightly camouflaged by a half a roll of scotch tape. The displays that fall over at the mere mention of a breeze. The displays I am beginning to loathe. But at the same time, I just can't seem to let them go.
So today, as the wind roars outside and a steady rain falls in the basement, I am turning my thoughts once again to displays. With one more outdoor show to go this season, I know I'm already pushing my luck with my pretty, raggedy displays. (I'm hoping they can forgive me and see me through the holiday shows, once I tell them we'll be inside!)
And wishing I was just 1/10 as creative as Sarah Bagner, the brainchild behind Supermarket Sarah. Sarah's premise? The lovely object you are buying is coming straight off of her wall. After all, when a customer walks into my booth, isn't that kind of what I'm having them do?

Wishing you a bit of creative inspiration this week, my friends.
And to my fellow East Coasters, stay dry, stay safe, and may your hurricane parties be more epic than the storm itself.


09 October, 2012

The End of the Summer

Family vacation.
It's something that has happened every year since Nephew One was born.
After the summer officially ends, after the lifeguards and exchange students and families have packed up and headed back to reality, we slip quietly in.
My parents rent a house on the beach, and me, my sister, her husband, and two little boys happily help them fill all of the empty guest bedrooms.
There is nothing to do, nowhere to be.
Mornings are spent watching the sun rise, my mom and her oldest grandson wrapped in a blanket singing "Here Comes the Sun."
Breakfast is leisurely and often sugary. We watch the dolphins swim by while we finish the last of the coffee.
The days are spent on the beach, wrapped in layers if it's cloudy and cool; otherwise soaking up every last warm ray of post-summer sun.
Books we started reading months before get finished, as do the new ones just begun.
Nephew One pretends to be a pirate, a crab, a tractor moving piles of sand.
Nephew Two is still too little to pretend, he is instead content digging, splashing, and running after sea gulls.
At noon, a church bell rings. We call it the Beer Bell.
It is a signal to gather all of the towels and the toys into one pile and head in for lunch.
Naps happen.
For babies and adults alike.
As the sun sets, we need a stretch from our lazy day.
New wiffle ball rules are made: double points for hitting a beached crab or fish; triple points for an air-borne sea gull.
Cartwheels are done in the outfield.
Nobody wins.
Nobody loses.
Dinner is a poorly choreographed ballet of too many people around a too small stove, conducted and danced in our pajamas, sun-kissed skin and sandy hair.
Nephew One loves the dinner time jammie parties.
And the sleeping parties he has with his little brother, the two sharing a room for the first time ever.
Nights are spent playing Candy Land, checkers, and Vacation Rummy.
But only after we watch the moon come up, and the stars and planets twinkle.
We scatter on sofas and chairs and fall asleep, one by one.
We sleep early. We wake early.
We are lucky for this time.
We are happy.
And we will hope to do it all again next fall.

05 September, 2012

See You In September...

Hello hello, my Dear Readers!
How is September treating you so far?
Did you have an enjoyable long holiday weekend?
I certainly did.
No, I didn't go see Jay-Z or Bruce Springsteen.
And we certainly didn't have a repeat of last year's drama!
But we did have Pork Fest.
It's become like a national holiday for those involved. But more on that later.
Like, next week.
I am taking the rest of the week off from the blog, not because I want to stretch this into the longest Labor Day Weekend ever,
but because fall market season is rapidly approaching.
Armed with the knowledge of what went well (and what tanked) in the spring,
I'm gearing up an arsenal of pretty that will have the entire Philadelphia area going "ooh!" and "aah!" over the coming months.
It's all finishing touches and the minor details left at this point. But I'm pretty good at neglecting those minor details and putting off those finishing touches until the last possible minute.
Then it's all way too late nights and too much hustle and not enough bustle and I'm left wearing my cranky pants.
I'd like to try to avoid that.
So a-tagging, pricing, and chain-attaching I shall go.
See you in a few.

31 August, 2012

I Go Swimming

The Spree River in Berlin, Germany, is too polluted to swim in.
Unfortunate, really.
So, how to cool hundreds of summer-warmed Berliners?
By turning an old barge into a pool, of course!
The Badeschiff (German for "bathing ship") is a floating pool located within the river itself.
In winter, it becomes a sauna and a steam bath.
Super brilliant.


30 August, 2012

Don't Call It a Comeback

{image via}
By now, I'm sure you've heard all about the can of whoop ass LL Cool J opened on a burglar who had broken into his home.
Which I, personally, find to be pretty darn cool.
I mean, seriously, who in their right mind's gonna mess with the guy whose own mama told him to knock you out?
Speaking of which...
I'm "hanging" with Nephews One and Two one afternoon. Nephew One is being deliberately annoying.
Nephew Two is following his example.
Frustrated, I tell them "Your mama just called. She said to knock you out."
I chuckle at myself, and continue to sing the song for the rest of the day.
Nephew One wants to know what that song is (he inherited his Aunt's love of music, the lucky kid).
Foolishly, or perhaps in a flash of pure genius, I play it for him.
Both Nephews go Absolutely. Ape.
It becomes requested every time we get in my car. Suddenly, it's all Club Honda Element whenever we come up your street: Aunt Heather at the wheel, playing DJ, and two little boys in the backseat, busting moves you would not believe possible from the confines of a carseat.
Nephew One wants to know who sings it.
His variations on a name have included "LL Cool Guy", "LL Good Guy", and "Mr. Cool J".
But mostly he gets it right.
Lyrics, however...
LL had a nine that was easy to load. Nephew One, a lime.
"Rockin' my peers"? It's now "Walkin in my pants".
And my favorite: "when I got my jammies in my hand/man!/ooohhhh".
It seems he was also rapping about "destruction, terror, and mayhem" at dinner one night.
My bad.
Nephew Two's limited one year old vocabulary has him sticking pretty much to the "out"s in the chorus.
But boy, can that kid dance.
I've recently been sneaking "Goin' Back To Cali" into the mix.
Nephew One's already got the delivery of the chorus down perfectly.
Ladies, it appears, are not the only ones who love Cool James.
I know a couple of little boys who feel the same.

28 August, 2012

Ghost in the Machine

When I was in high school, I had a cassette-tape version of The Cure's Disintegration that I played to death.
I played that tape over and over again so many times that it was, quite literally, in the very state of disintegration that the name printed on its side suggested.
When I finally upgraded to a cd version, I kept the cassette.
It seemed almost poetic, a work of art.
(Dude. I was in high school.)
It is quite possibly still in the bottom of a box around here somewhere, along with a sizable stack of ticket stubs from Cure concerts going back as far as the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me tour. They're the only stubs missing from my collection, and I'd love to know where they wound up.
But anyway. Back to the tape.
I was reminded of it recently when I happened upon the genius work of Erika Iris Simmons and her collection of cassette-tape art she calls "Ghost in the Machine ".
The collection consists of portraits that the Orlando-based artist creates from thrifted cassette tapes, depicting the bands and singers once held inside.

Mind-blowingly awesome.

23 August, 2012

Down Under

For anyone who ever dreamed of having an indoor pool, check this out:
Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich has created an installation at the 21st Century Museum of Art in Kanazawa, Japan that gives visitors the experience of being in a pool without actually being in a pool.
Erlich built a room that simulates the inside of a below ground pool, right down to the blue painted walls and aluminum ladder.
Above, a skylight of sorts holds the few inches of water needed to create the dancing shadows and reflections that complete the underwater experience.

How cool is that?

22 August, 2012

She's Crafty

The vein of craftiness runs deep in my family.
My sister, despite the fact that she understands numbers and science, has a natural ability to put together color and pattern.
She might get it from our mom, who once taught people how to do stained glass. You know, 'cause she was good at it.
Or, she quite possibly got it from our dad, whose wood shop tinkerings have produced a sandbox, a big old shed, and a new kitchen, including cabinets to fit the crooked walls of a 150 year old farmhouse.
My Grandmom Tina, my mom's mom, always said my talent came from her. I once saw her draw a horse. It wasn't too bad.
But I'm pretty sure I got it from my other Grandmom, Grandmom Vroom Vroom (named so because my Grandfather had a motorcycle, and it went "Vroom! Vroom!").

Just look what she could do with a few old beer cans and a crochet hook!
Not only did Grandmom Vroom Vroom have talent,
she clearly impacted my earliest sense of style, as evidenced above.
So drink up, kids.
Winter's right around the corner.
And I know you're all gonna want to be rockin' a beer can hat when the snow starts to fall.

20 August, 2012

The Love Cats

I recently waxed poetic on my love of collage.
I also have a deep fondness for simple household things, like plants and cats.
To which I am allergic.
(Cats. Not plants.)
Fortunately for me, and, of course, for you all, too, Chicago artist Stephen Eichhorn has combined these last two in a series of delightfully amusing collaged images.

All the furry fun, none of the allergies.
Hope this starts your week with a smile.

17 August, 2012

Happy Weekend

Hooray huzzah, Dear Readers,
it's the weekend!
And the weather here is supposed to be absolutely glorious!
In fact, after today, the weather for the foreseeable future has a decidedly glorious lean.
The air conditioner is already switched to off,
and there's a bit less humidity in each breeze that blows through the open windows.
I plan on following that breeze right on out the back door and sneaking in a few more chapters of the book I've been reading all summer.
Maybe even a nap, too.