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Go Ahead and Rain…I DON’T CARE! July 26, 2011

Posted by J. in Genius, Sticks and String.

Ha ha!  She crowed jubilantly at having liberated herself from the tyranny of fickle sunshine.  No longer would she have to wait for a day that was sunny, not too cold, not too windy, and not too hot.  She was free to take pictures whenever was best for her, and that freedom was heady and intoxicating.

Be jealous, bitches.

The humble light box.   It’s not much to look at, but man, what a difference this odd little thing has made in my life.  Mind you, what’s not shown in this picture is where the rubber meets the road, as they say: two sunlight-mimicking stand lamps, a camera tripod, and several different colored backgrounds to shoot against that velcro right in there.  You can see where I made myself a hat form–actually I made two, the smaller one was in use when I shot this pic.  And the pillow is good for things like mittens and those little patches that need something to lean on.

So now I can shoot on a rainy day, or at night, or when it’s 110 in the shade or five below zero.  It’s all the same to me, now.  It’s made a big difference in the look of my shop, too.  I did few before and after shots of some of my items.  Check it out (before pics are on the left):Why the change in photos?  The bottom line is the bottom line.  I’d like to sell more stuff.  And to get stuff on Etsy to sell, it has to be seen.  Someone has to notice it.  And people notice things that look like they’re in a catalog, not laid out on a bedspread.

Now, one area where I can’t compete is with the baby hats.  So many people have their hats professionally shot on newborns it’s insane.  And I realized that looking at all those newborns in one place is kind of creepy.  They’re eerie looking after awhile and I had to stop.

So I made myself a couple of hat stands out of styrofoam and muslin and they seem to work pretty well.  They’re not as polished as the ones on actual babies, but they’re way better than the ones just laying flat on a table or something.

In the last week I’ve put my nose to the digital camera and re-shot most of my shop.  I can’t quite figure out how to make the sweaters appealing in a light box set up just yet, and adult size hats need a bigger styrofoam ball head thing, so I have to pick one up tomorrow.  But for the most part, my shop looks a lot cleaner, picture-wise.

It’d be great if I could empty out my bin of knit stuff this year and be able to start fresh in January with a hugely depleted stock.

So that’s all I’ve been up to lately.  A little knitting, a lot of shop-sprucing, and plenty of summertime goofing off, too.

(Goddamn, that was boring.  I think it’s all the photo editing.  It’s draining.  I apologize.  I’ll do better next time.)


Ye Are the Salt of the Earth, and Sainted July 22, 2011

Posted by J. in Domesticity, Other People's Genius.

Did you ever see the episode of the Vicar of Dibley where a TV show comes to Dibley to film Geraldine’s Sunday service and the verger Alice butchers the reading?  She practices her reading diligently, but when Sunday comes around and she’s reading from the gigantic King James Bible with the old printing where all the s’s look like f’s, she gets confused.  Here, see for yourself.  It’s at about 11:45 in…

Alice:  “The lesson is taken from the sixth chapter of the Song of Solomon, beginning at the second verse.  [reading]  Ye are the fault of the earth and fainted… sainted. God shall feel… seal your endeavours until ye fit on his right hand. Therefore fight the good fight, for his… fake, and he shall be thy fu…

Geraldine:  “SUCCOR!  He shall be thy succour.”

Alice Tinker: “…thy succour.”

Cracks me up every time.  And when we’re being gripped by a heat wave of Biblical proportions, not much makes me chortle.

I have, however, been having a great deal of fun taking screen caps of the weather from Channel 9's website and making them more accurate in both content and sentiment.

So, because it’s been so bloody hot here the past few days, we decided last night to screw the whole thing and go out to supper.  It put us a tad over budget for the week but you know what?  I ate a meal without wanting to puke.


It was cold as a meat locker in Chili’s which was fantastic.  They brought us endless cold drinks, all the chips and salsa we could gag down, and even the kids seemed quite content to sit and enjoy the cool air.

The honey-chipotle chicken crispers were good.  Very spicy and very sweet at the same time–too much for the kiddos to stand, but that was about the only thing on the plate I wanted to eat.  I love salty food, but really Chili’s?  I ate two fries before I couldn’t take the saltiness anymore, and I didn’t even try the corn because I could actually see the salt sparkling on it.

Lest you think I’m singling out Chili’s, this happened at the 99 the last time we ate there.  I had steak tips which really didn’t need to be salty at all, and fries that were caked with salt.

It was off-putting.

What’s the deal with that?  What happened to preparing a meal and letting the customer decide how much salt it needs?  I’m really just sick of chain restaurants.  I think all the food tastes the same, and I’ve pinpointed it to what must be a gigantic container of seasoned salt in the kitchen.

At least I know now to tell the server that I don’t want any extra salt or other seasoning applied to my food when I order.  You watch: next time we go out it will the blandest meal ever.

Eh, I suppose it’s no big deal.  God knows my feet appreciate the lack of salt these days.  Man, when it’s hot and humid my feet swell up like two…swollen things.  They never used to that, then I had Dave and WHAM.  I’m Captain Edema.

Somewhere in the world there’s an 80-year-old woman walking around with my ankles.  Probably eating salt with no repercussions, too.  Fucker.

But, in the category of Salt of the Earth, there are great kindnesses abounding.  Did I mention how fucktastically hot it’s been here for the past couple of days?   When I got up this morning it was 91 degrees in my living room.  I shit you not.  You can have all the fans a’turnin’ you want, but when it’s 90 degrees by mid-morning, it’s like living in a convection oven.  So, I broke down and hauled the AC unit out of the shed, even though I’d been advised against excessive exertion in this kind of weather.

I wonder if the weather department at WMUR would find these funny or not. I bet Mike Haddad would laugh.

I have a love/hate relationship with the air conditioner.  Air conditioning gives me a headache.  I don’t know why.  And luckily I live in a place where the heat comes in during the day but then is chased away at night most of the time.  You can leave the house open with fans going all night, get the  house nice and cool, and when it starts warming up outside during the afternoon, close the house up tight and be good to go until it cools off again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

But not this week.  And on days like this I like having the AC on full blast and making it cold enough to keep milk fresh on the kitchen counter.  And if I have to pop Advil like I’m eating M&M’s, so be it.  Which is also adding to my giant feet issues, in case you were wondering.

So I hauled the AC out, washed it up and out and got it all shined up nice and wrestled it into the window.  I cranked it on and collapsed, dripping with sweat and basting in my own stank, into my chair.  A few minutes later the phone rings.

“Hey.”  It’s Fr. Albert.  He’s in Lochmere and wants to know if we have any use for a “whomp-ass” air conditioner.  If so, he’ll be backing into my driveway in about ten minutes.

Is a bear Catholic?  Does the Pope shit in the woods?

Not only did he haul in the gigantic AC unit, he put it together, installed it, and even cut a couple of pieces of wood to make sure it wouldn’t budge an inch in the window frame.  It seems one of our summer parishoners decided to stop dicking around with a window unit and had central air installed in her cottage and gave the old one to Father.    And from there it came to us.

And he wasn’t kidding about whomp-ass, either.  It went from 91 degrees to 71 in less than two hours.  It hasn’t gone over 70 in the living room all day even when it got to 110 on the porch this afternoon.

Did I bitch about it being five below zero six months ago? Yeah, probably. Shut up.

And now the smaller unit is in our bedroom so until the nighttime temps drop back down later this weekend, we’ll be cooler upstairs too.  And if you listen real carefully, you can hear the sound of the meter jumping off the side of the house.  I’m trying not to think about what my PSNH bill is going to be next month.

This must be what it’s like to be Paris Hilton.

It Seems Rude to Put You to Work July 11, 2011

Posted by J. in Genius.

Yeah, I know.  Any time I feel the need to start a blog post with an apology for my absence seems like it’s going to be a bad post.  I don’t mean to be away for such long periods, but can I help it if my creativity understands not the desires of my reading public?  Can I?  Nay, I cannot.

Irony. It's what's for breakfast.

I’ve been creative as shit lately, but in a hands-on, make-some-stuff way and not in a cerebral write-some-stuff way.  Some knitting, and I’ve found myself embroidering these days.  You wanna know why?  Because Etsy is pissing me off again.

What else is new?

Their front-page darlings and special e-mail newsletter picks are always, and I mean ALWAYS, some simple backstitching on plain fabric and framed in a fucking embroidery hoop.  Sometimes it’s one word.  Or a bunch of v’s.  Seriously.  And this one embroiderer who I WILL NOT PIMP HERE AND DRIVE EVEN MORE BUSINESS TO HER SHOP (because seriously, she’s probably on the front page even as we speak) has the unmitigated gall to call the v’s in question her “signature wishbone stitch.”  Here’s a fucking newsflash, cupcake: that stitch has been around for-fucking-ever.  Just because it’s one of the two stitches you know how to do doesn’t make it “signature.”  It’s like that other person who has a shop full of items made entirely in double-crochet (that’s all, that ONE stitch) and she claims that because she does it all the time she’s better at it than any other crocheter on Etsy.

I have such a fucking rage boner right now.  Starting to go all Poops-Hulk over here.  Must take a deep breath and count to ten.  1…2…3…


Sometimes the front page picks aren’t even done by hand.  Don’t get me started on the crafters that are machine-embroidering a design and framing it in a hoop, then not mentioning anywhere in the listing that a machine did the actual stitching.

I do not understand it.  I’ve done embroidery for years.  I embroidered my own wedding gown.  I learned it from my mother who, while not whipping up culinary masterpieces in the kitchen, was stitching like a mofo.  Detailed embroidery.  Well-done embroidery.  Not something that looks like it was done by a fourth-grade Girl Scout trying to earn her Clever Crafter badge.

Know what I thought?  I thought, “Poops could do that, and do it better.”

So I did.  But you want to hear something crazy?  Joann’s at the Belknap Mall no longer carries wood embroidery hoops.  When I worked there, they were a buck or less and we had a fuckton of them in the dump tables in the store.  Cases of them in the back.

Now, they have plastic ones for machine embroidery or hand embroidery but no wood ones with the little brass screws.

What the fuck is up with that?

And Walmart, always a bastion for cheap crafting supplies, has no embroidery supplies at all.  No floss, no hoops, no needles, nothing.

So I had to order some hoops online and they’re currently on a truck somewhere on the way to Chateau Poops.  I hate it, but I figured if I can’t beat them, I might as well join them.  I ordered two 5″ hoops and bought two 4×6 rectangles at Walmart, and two of the 4″ hoops.  I’m going to order more, but for right now, I have 6 finished bits of embroidery and only two hoops to put them in.

Here’s where you come in.

Below are my 6 designs vying for the first two hoops.  Help me decide which two should go in the shop first.  Just leave a comment with the number of your two picks, I’ll tally, and use those first.

Not that it matters a whole lot, but isn’t it fun when the Internet is interactive?  Of course it is.  Here are your choices:

Of course when they’re done and in the hoop, I’m going to photograph them in my new light box set-up that I just bought on the eBay.  I’m going to angle them artfully and make them look like they just jumped out of a Hipster catalog.  And I’m going to win.

WIN, do you hear me?