January 31, 2010

Year of the Ox

Just a teensy little painting I did a couple of years ago. I've been thinking about painting again - it's been a long time really...but it's so soothing. Maybe I'll try something this afternoon. I especially love painting on 3 x 5 postcard canvases like this one.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

January 28, 2010

Want versus Need

About a week or so ago, I decided to have a look-see at my favorite antique store in town. Mostly I prefer thrift stores to antique stores, because of the true reward that comes with finding a diamond in the rough. You really have to sift through countless amounts of useless, and sometimes smelly funky stuff in order to find an actual vintage gem. But I guess I was feeling 'lazy' the other day, and just wanted to be surrounded by gems, funk not included. A world of treasures was there to gaze upon, but there was one item that truly captured my heart: a 1924 L.C. Smith & Corona No.4 typewriter.

Here's a picture of one I found on Flickr, so you can understand why I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. But the one I discovered is even better than that little lovely up there. How? you might be asking, could it get any better? Because the one I stumbled upon is purple! I've already secretly begun calling her Lilac actually. I woefully walked away from this little machine, because I couldn't justify buying an antique typewriter at this point.

But it's quickly become an obsession. I started asking Jeff, my pseudo-hubbie, if he thought buying an antique typewriter was foolish. To my surprise, he quickly responded that using an old typewriter is, in his opinion, the secret to the Great American Novel. He has no idea how much trouble that little nugget of information may get him into...about $350 dollars of trouble if I have my way! I went to visit Lilac again today...just to see if she still gives me butterflies. It's definitely love. I want to have her, or is it need? Maybe I'll write the next Great American Novel. Or maybe, I'll just use Lilac to write the daily posts of the Great American Blog. Either way, I really think I have to have her.

January 26, 2010

I Heart Hearts Headband DIY

It takes less than an hour (or maybe a bit more time if you are hand sewing) to stitch up this adorable velvet 'i heart hearts' headband! After I made the heart garland earlier today, I began to crave a stylish little something with hearts to wear...I've been meaning to attempt a headband for a while now (to keep my unruly bangs in check), and those hearts were just the inspiration I needed to set out.

To make this sweet and simple headband, you will need the following supplies (most of which you probably have on hand):
  • 2" velvet ribbon in a rich red
  • felt: i used a sparkly red and cotton candy pink - and since i didn't have wool felt on hand, just used the squares you find at the craft store.
  • vintage cotton scraps, cut out into hearts
  • coordinating all-purpose thread (or embroidery thread if sewing by hand)
  • pink, scalloped elastic
  1. To get started, make two heart templates on paper, one large and one small.
  2. Using your templates, cut out hearts (one big, one small) from your vintage cotton.
  3. Using templates again, cut out hearts from the felt, but make both big and small hearts about 1/8" bigger all around.
  4. Pin the vintage cotton hearts on top of the felt hearts and sew.
  5. Use a sewing tape measure to determine the circumference of your noggin. We'll pretend it's 14". You'll want to cut the ribbon to be 10" and the elastic to be 4". Be sure and cut your ribbon with a "V" at the end so it looks pretty where the elastic attaches.
  6. Determine where you want to place your biggest heart, and pin. When sewing to the ribbon, try to trace the stitches you made when assembling the heart - this looks nicer.
  7. Place the smaller heart layered slightly atop your secure big heart. Sew.
  8. Secure the elastic to the ribbon with a pin, leave about 1/2" excess. The excess inch of elastic is to make sewing easier - you want the finished headband to be 13" so it's not loose when you wear it. Sew the elastic to the ribbon.
  9. Repeat with other end of the ribbon and elastic. Trim off the excess elastic.
  10. Wow! You're all done and you made a super-sweet headband! Wear and smile!

January 25, 2010

I Heart Hearts

I've been a bad little blogger: about a week ago, I made promise of a Valentine's Day Mobile tutorial. Prior to beginning this little project, I had a magical concept in my mind of silk-wrapped branches, gemstones, hearts and birds. Upon execution, it looks like a couple of sticks with a lot of notions and bobbles dangling from them. Call me crazy, but I doubt you'd want (or need) instructions to whip that up.

In a hopes to make it up to you all, I tried to rework the concept; but it's a concept that's either meant for another time - or another life. Instead, I made a sweet and simple little heart garland perfect for adding some life and color to my studio supply armoire:

{there are those little butterflies I've also been loving lately...(not sure what to do with them, but they are fun to doodle for now!)}

...which, since I love hearts so much...is giving me more ideas. We'll see how those turn out, and I'll post the results later...

January 24, 2010

Personal Style: The Departure

It seems to me that I had pretty amazing style when I was twenty-eight. The kind of style that was always well put together, unique, and comfortable. The kind of style that got a lot of positive attention from friends and strangers alike - my style was admired. When I became pregnant with Marley, hormones, shifting attitudes, and shifting waistlines conspired to knock me off my stylish pedestal. I remember when I started putting on weight in the middle of my fourth month: pants would no longer zip and a muffin-top was beginning to form on my once svelt waist. I doubt I'll forget the first time I stepped into GapMaternity: it was at once a haven of swinging tunics and secretive elastic-waisted pants; and simultaneously a sad demise to my own sense of personal style. Prior to that day, never once did I long to look like a humpty-dumpty version of a sailor, or a mass of pink ruffled jersey. But compared to the fit of my twentysomething wardrobe and the other budget-friendly options out there - these looks were a godsend. And so, in a misguided attempt to look halfway decent on a budget during my pregnancy, I lost all traces of my style. My post-natal looks were even worse: deprived of sleep and constantly nursing, it's been said and it's fair to say that when Marley was a newborn - there was something tragically reminiscent of National Geographic about my look. And that's okay. In the first month or so of life with your first baby, all bets and bras are off.

Last night I watched the Sam Mendes film, "Away We Go"; and found myself wishing I had a pregnancy fashion do-over. Wearing a few basic indulgences in the lines of maternity wear, Maya Rudolph's character is incredibly stylish in a predominantly vintage wardrobe. I have to say I think that is the answer to looking good and keeping your own sense of style as your belly inflates and your ego deflates during pregnancy. Professionally altered vintage clothing, great basics - like perfect jeans, belly bands, and t-shirts, and knock-out accessories. And don't forget a couple of pairs of chic flats when your feet get bigger (if you're like me, they don't get smaller again, sigh).

Maya Rudolph in "Away We Go"

Lucy Ox on Flickr

Although I lost my sense of style during my pregnancy, as my clock ticks and I go green with envy for every beautifully rounded belly and teensy weensy newborn, I finding hints of my style, like bread crumbs on a trail back home. If you're pregnant and looking for some style inspiration, take a look at this Flickr Pool: Pregnancy Style.

January 19, 2010

Ooh La La Love - A Mixtape

Valentine's Day isn't a holiday that I feel usually merits much attention, so it's a bit odd for me, that I find myself completely fixated on reds, pinks, hearts, and love songs. This infatuation is quite contrary to my standard perspective that V-Day is a contrived holiday designed to make women of both single and coupled status alike feel like crap. But this year, I am definitely feeling Valentine's Day - not the holiday so much as the spirit of the holiday, as only children can understand it. They know that it's not about expensive jewelry, fancy restaurants, and the like. The kids seem to have this one cornered: handmade cards and gifts for loved ones, parties with friends, and lots of heart-shaped sweets!

In that spirit, I want to share the love with everyone this year - so I've put together some valentines for all of you! In a few days, I'll be posting a tutorial for a Valentine's Day mobile, in a couple of weeks I'll share a recipe for some sweetness, and today - I want to give you a lovey-dovey mixtape. The playlist is below, and unfortunately for all of us, I'm not savvy enough with Web 2.0 to know how to make a mixtape online. So, if you'd like a copy - just leave a comment here & follow the blog - I'll email you for your address and mail your mixtape to you wherever you live!

Ooh La La Love - A Mixtape
  1. Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
  2. I Hear A Symphony - The Supremes
  3. The Saturday Boy - Billy Bragg
  4. Make A Plan To Love Me - Bright Eyes
  5. (You Knocked Me) Off My Feet - Sondre Lerche & the Faces Down Quartet
  6. Simply Beautiful - Al Green
  7. Samba De Bencao - Bebel Gilberto
  8. Razzle Dazzle Rose - Camera Obscura
  9. All My Stars Aligned - St. Vincent
  10. Something - The Beatles
  11. My Cherie Amour - Stevie Wonder
  12. That's How Strong My Love Is - Otis Redding
  13. You're My Best Friend - Queen
  14. You're All I Need to Get By - Marvin Gaye & Tammy Terrell

January 15, 2010

Personal Style: The Beginning

What have I gotten myself into exactly? Somehow, I thought it would be easy to determine and recreate my style - it's not. It's not only time-consuming, but it's in many ways a complete blow to my (somewhat fragile) ego. It must be that I've been living in my little mommy-world for too long now: you know, the one where sleep is a precious commodity and style drifts to a backburner on a long-forgotten stove. I thought I'd do an inventory of my wardrobe to begin with, and see what my favorite pieces were. Perhaps, I dared, I would even take self-portraits in my best looks so you all could have a sense of my starting point. Maybe I'll drum up the courage for that revealing project in a few days (or weeks - I've just begun working out!); but for now, that is definitely not happening.

Not only could I not find even one favorite piece in my wardrobe, suddenly, determining what I like from reliable sources online has become increasingly difficult. First, I went to Urban Outfitters, the credit succubus of my twenties. I hate to admit it, but perusing the pages of their catalog only made me feel old, as I kept thinking "Why are these pages filled with little girls?!". So, I stepped up my game and went onward to Anthropologie, another paycheck leech of days goneby...It certainly isn't as though I couldn't find anything I didn't like, just nothing I had to have. J.Crew was the same story. So I decided to look into the past. I combed through tons of vintage ads here - warning: this site is a time vacuum (albeit a fun one). After hours of clicking and feeling like my style must exist in the ethers of space, I came up with a few looks I like. Unfortunately, one of the eight is a look from a children's clothing line. But I picked it because it reminded me that I've always been most comfortable in tunic dresses, cardigans, and jeans. I love dresses over pants. I love layers. And I love cowl necks.

I think this is a good start. And, I've found a new source of inspiration: Bliss, blog of goodies and grand design brought to you by Mrs. French. Whoever Mrs. French is, she's got a great eye, and enough time on her hands to put together a look book daily. Her site is true eye-candy - you can find it here if you don't already know it.

And just so you all know, this process would be so much worse if it weren't for your support, ideas, and interest in the outcome. Thank you all for your love.

January 13, 2010

Personal Style: A Reflection

Since I signed up for Red Velvet Art's Style School, I've been giving my personal style and taste a lot of thought. As far back as I can remember, I've had a very eclectic style. One morning in my early childhood, while my mother slept, I got myself dressed and went over to my neighbor's to play. I imagine my mother waking, and panicking as she looked all over for me. I can only imagine her surprise when the neighbor called to double-check she knew where I was. Apparently, I had told her my mother was aware of my visit; but it was my get-up that gave me away:
  • Pajama Top: Check
  • Shorts: Check
  • Tank Dress: Check
  • Rain Coat: Check (Update: My mom wanted to clarify, this was a bright yellow, Smurfette slicker!)
  • Jelly Sandals: Check
I should probably mention it was a hot summer morning! I love this little anecdote of my four-year old self asserting my independence and style. And I have distinct memories of dreading being dressed in a navy/forest green plaid jumper that my mom loved.

So, the truth is, I've always had my own sense of style. However, as a thirty-year old woman, sometimes I feel my sensabilities haven't gotten much better than they were when I was four. I've been thinking a lot about my wardrobe, hair, and home decor lately; presumably I've given it so much thought because I am thirty. I still dress the way I did in high school: tattered jeans, vintage sweaters, t-shirts, chuck taylors - check. It seems it's time for me to enter that 'classic' decade of life, as I recall reading about in Vogue so many years ago. But I never can get comfortable in Banana Republic, Gap, or god forbid: Ann Taylor. It's the same feeling of dread and identity clash that I had in that plaid jumper as a young girl.

I definitely want to revamp my style, have a more feminine and refined version of my wardrobe - but I'm at a loss. Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting some images that inspire and provoke me. As I put together a look book for Style School, I'll be sharing with you some of my favorite looks - and perhaps you can help me to see the common thread. Meanwhile, I'll be rocking my Chucks, jeans and t-shirt.

January 11, 2010

Give Them What They Want

I love this little blog. It's a wonderful outlet for me creatively, socially, and intellectually. Sometimes, I'm a bit uncertain though, about how much some of you enjoy it? It can be hard to be objective about something one creates, and I'd love a bit of feedback from you, my beloved readers, so that I can make this blog a daily destination for all of you. It is a goal of mine this year to write at least 5 days a week -- but sometimes, I just run out of ideas.

Please leave a comment for me, about what type of posts, information, and tutorials you would be interested in ~ and as always, just a reminder: If you decide to purchase something from my Etsy shop, as a beloved reader - you are entitled to 15% off your order! Just mention: "beloved reader" in the comments to seller section of shopping cart.


January 9, 2010

Found Family

Yesterday, I was inspired by a post from Amy at Ponder and Stitch, in which she ponders about the lives of an unknown family, whose antiquated portrait she holds dear. I hate to be unoriginal here, but I was so glad to know I'm not the only one who's keeping old portraits hanging around, that I thought I'd share my story, too. On New Year's Eve 1999 I decided to do some digging through the storage unit in my apartment complex. I'm not sure what drove me to do such a thing at all, let alone on what was supposed to be the biggest party-night of my young life. But amidst all the cobwebs, dustbunnies, and clutter, there was one small cardboard box full of promise and romance. There in the darkness of the storage unit, I opened the small box to find hundreds of ancient polaroids, news clippings, birth and marriage certificates, and passports. I had stumbled upon the archives of someone's life!

I took the box upstairs, and passed the last hours of the century piecing together the pictures and documents - stringing together her story. Her name now evades me, all these years later. Her story is burned in my brain: a young girl, working as a secretary in the midwest, meets a charming young man from British Honduras, leaves home to marry him, travels the world, and tragically passes away at twenty-four. And I can never forget her face. I tried for some time to locate any survivors, but as she had no children, and was the youngest of her family, there were none. Since finding the box, and learning her story, I have become her survivor. I restored some of the old polaroids, and have kept her in a proud place on the walls of my home since that night.

January 8, 2010

Just DO It!

I'm so excited - tonight I just happened to check in on one of my favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess, and learned that there are now extra spots open for Style School, brought to you by the folks at Red Velvet Art. Just a week ago I learned about the course, but was bummed to learn registration was over. So now, I won't waste any time - I have signed up for what promises to be a fun way to learn some new crafts from some stylish folks.

If you're interested in signing up - do so now!

January 7, 2010

Books of the Moment

Still plugging away at the bookkeeping, although it's going slower than necessary. Yes, I did this professionally for a decade - and my books are fairly simple, it shouldn't take longer than a few hours. But I'm procrastinating severely since I find it to be about as much fun as a root canal. In the vein of procrastination, I thought I'd take a minute to share some of my current fave page-turners with you:
  • "The Likeness", Tana French: This is the post-debut novel from Irish author, Tana French. Her debut novel, "In the Wood" was a captivating read, full of descriptive details to put you in the pages and a suspenseful storyline. I wasn't sure that a follow-up novel would be as good as the first - I hardly could have expected it to be better. Landing main character, Det. Cassie Maddox in an undercover gig, this one's been tough to put down.
  • "Animalia", Graeme Base: I used to spend hours reading this book as a girl, and I just recently found a copy for Marley. It's an amazing alliterative alphabet book, with gorgeous illustrations. Another great Graeme Base book for older kids and youthful adults: "The Eleventh Hour".

  • "Simple Sewing for Baby", Lotta Jansdotter: Why, oh why didn't I have this book about a year ago? This book has wonderfully simple designs to get you started on creating a full line of carefree clothing, toys, and accessories for your favorite baby and new mom. I think I like the Bib Kerchief on p.28 the best - what a stylish accessory for a teething tot, and super simple to make as well.

January 5, 2010

Twenty Ten: A Year of Planning

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season - mine was amazingly blissful, thanks for asking. It's been hard to put an end to my winter wonderland shenanigans; but I've been feeling awfully bad for not connecting with all of you. So, as of this chilly January eve, I am officially back "on", back to the blog, back to the shop, and down to business.

I've got some exciting ideas swimming round in my head for Elan Vital Anthology: both the shop - and the blog. The past several days I've been sketching like mad for some great new products to make and list (I hope you all like butterflies!); I've also been thinking a lot about what direction to take with my craft, and how much emphasis to put on my Etsy shop. There's a lot up in the air, and it's time to put the pen to paper, crunch some numbers, and pencil in some dates!

While all I really want to do is spend some time with my newest endeavor: quilting; my first priority has got to be...bookkeeping. Ugh. For a decade prior to Marley's birth and subsequentially starting this little business, I was a full-charge bookkeeper, staff accountant, and tax preparer. This work wasn't completely awful: it paid well (have I mentioned I have a shopping problem?), was challenging in the same way puzzles are, and I was able to glean a lot about business from many successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs. I knew when I became an entrepreneur that I would be doing the books, that I wanted to keep my finger on the pulse of the financials, that it would be one of the last tasks I'd feel comfortable outsourcing. And yet, a year and a half out of my day job - this is the LAST thing I want to do. I was completely awful about it in 2009 - in fact, I have a photo for you all to see the "files" I will be working from for the next few nights:

Fortunately, I treated myself to Quickbooks Pro 2010, being that this was the primary software I used for accounting over the past ten years, I just couldn't settle for a free online version. If you have a good accountant, then you might not need the bells and whistles either - but if you keep track of inventory, cash and credit, payables - you really owe it to yourself to take the plunge. If you don't want to or can't do your own bookkeeping, there is a great Etsy Seller, Holly at Accounting Spot, who could be a great help to you.

I can't wait to hurry up and finish this bookkeeping and get to the good stuff.