Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Getting Back that Swing

Last night I plugged in my iPod, put in my favorite playlist an got to work on a special order blanket. Again, while slip-stitching the edge of the blanket, as Joni Mitchell sang about a river and the Counting Crows sang about Elisabeth, I was calm, relaxed.

While I took photos of the blanket, I belted out 'Midnight Train to Georgia' with Gladys. I didn't care about how I sounded - it felt good to play, to be myself. Many guilty pleasures - songs that I wouldn't ever admit to liking or owning, let alone play around others - streamed from my iPod. Each time they brought a smile to my face and most times I sang along.

It's been a while since I sewed but it felt really, really good to get back into the swing of things. At the end of the night I tidied up my room, turned off all of the lights except for my parasol lamp and sat there. One of my favorite songs played in the background and I felt better than I have in ages. It's been way too long since I spent some time doing things for myself - since I indulged in activities that I love to do. And life it too short to spend all of your time organizing the basement or cleaning the windows.

It feels good to be back.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

So, we're in.

My friend Paige and I will be hanging out and hocking our stuff at the East Atlanta Strut on September 15th.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that all of the projects I've started must be put on hold. My old vinyl gym bag - a Clinique freebie that has served me well for almost 8 years - is finally falling apart and, although I'm so close to finishing a new bag out of pink oilcloth printed with oranges, with yellow gingham oilcloth straps, I'm going to have to put it aside. Amy Butler Barcelona Skirt? On hold. Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag that I want to make so badly it makes me hurt? In the 'once I get done with the show' queue. Some trapeze-style blouses and flowery, airy dresses? By the time I get to them they'll be out of fashion. And the list of presents I need to make for friends who continue to pop out babies a seemingly daily rate? I've given up.

All is not lost though. This show really has me thinking. I've pulled out lots of great fabric and I'm really excited to experiment - to try some of the things I've been jotting down on paper for weeks and others that have come to me in the past few days as the proverbial creative juices have started to flow again.

It's also a good lesson in discipline: to rebuild my inventory and finish some of the staples - always a hard thing to do when faced with the exciting prospect of designing something new.

It's all so great, yet equally challenging: a recurring theme in my life lately. But I've never been one to shy away from a good challenge. Time to roll up the sleeves, put on the gloves, and dig in.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

An Open Letter to My Favorite Kind of Law Enforcement: The Police

Dear Stew, Gord-o and Andy,

First, let me start with an apology.

I know that Florida seems like it has a lot going for it - great weather, nice beaches. I mean, seriously, who wouldn't love 360 days of sun each year? But, as you probably discovered on a Wednesday night a few weeks ago, the thing that really makes Florida unbearable isn't the heat or the hurricanes - it's the people.

I'm sorry that people didn't seem excited to be there - it had no reflection on the night. But more on that later... I think that the attitude of the people can be summed up by my experience after the show. My husband and I decided to wait out the traffic by having a drink at the hotel next to the arena: we found a table, sat down and waited for a waitress. No such luck - no waitresses. After making my way to the massive bar and seeing that there were only two female bartenders working the hoards of people who had the same idea we did, I took my place and reminded myself to be patient. And, for 20 minutes I waited amongst drunk guys who, while sloshing their jack and coke all over my white Ann Taylor blouse, pushed their way to the front of the bar, shouting out orders of 10 - 12 drinks each. "Oh wait - I need two more Cosmopolitans!" they'd yell at the bartender after she'd already printed their tab. Yeah, that kind of fun.

I was ignored on the bartender's first pass down the bar, but when I was ignored the second time (after waiting 20 minutes of dealing with the kind of jerks that I'm sure are present all over but who seem to come out in droves in the great Sunshine State) I had enough - we left. Too bad too because I would have given the bartender a much better tip than the 2% left by the aforementioned drunken meatheads. (I mean, seriously, who leaves a $1 tip on a $50 bar tab?) But I digress... At least now you know your audience.

But enough on the people because the show? Because the show... Ah the show.

For years I've listened to my husband wax poetic about what he'd do if the police ever got back together. As we sat in our seats that night, it was hard to believe the 'if' had become a reality.

Andy, although you might want to rethink the green in-ear monitors (they looked like big jalepenos stuck in your ear), you're still amazing. Great solos without being over done - not too short, not too long.

Stewart, you're a man after my husband's heart. When you brought out that big set of toys and ran around on the stage playing them all, you made my husband's jaw drop. Every so often I'd get an elbow nudge, "Check it out - he's playing the tympani!" my husband would exclaim.

And Sting, you could make a fortune bottling water from that fountain of youth you must have in your backyard - I know 20 year olds that don't look as good as you. Seriously, it's almost unnatural. And although you had to bring 'So Lonely' down a few steps (didn't think we'd notice, did you?), you sounded great.

Sure the set list was almost identical to the other shows you've played - so much so that my husband was accurately able to scream out the name of each song before it started but I honestly didn't care. I screamed until I lost my voice, I jumped up and down until I was soaked with sweat and I sang along to songs that brought back so many amazing memories - while also creating new memories that I'm sure I'll treasure for a long, long time.

Even better, I saw my husband in a state that - in our almost 10 years together - I've never seen. After the concert I realized that I've never seen my stoic husband so excited - not even at our own wedding. He smiled for the entire 2 hour show and was more excited than a kid at Christmas - I know this might not sound like much but, trust me, if you knew my husband you'd be rushing to check the temperature in hell.

And as for the encore - remember the rotten people - who, even in light of the amazing show that turned even my hardened husband into a singing-along, jumping-up-and-down, screaming fan, the "fans" that stood there, barely clapping or showing any emotion? They didn't leave. For the first-time in my concert-going history, I stood there in awe as not a single person left. The arena remained packed - full of people yearning for more.

By the end of the concert I was convinced that if we ever have children, we'll throw all of your names in a bucket and pull a winner. Hell, even if my kid wound up being dubbed Gordon Sting, at least I'd know he was in good company.

Thanks guys.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

On Friends and Fiestaware

A few weeks ago I met up with a friend who decided to travel to the big A-T-L for her and her fiancee's birthdays. Over 3 years have passed since we'd seen each other but, as so often happens with good friends, within mere seconds we were back to talking as though no time had passed. It was wonderful - gabbing about jobs, wedding planning and running (she was my long-distance training buddy for the marathon I ran before my 30th birthday). But there was also a tiny part of me that was so very sad - I realized just how much I missed her in my life and how much time had gone by without seeing this good friend with whom I share so much in common.

At some point in the evening the discussion turned to one of my favorite things in the world: Fiestaware. I fell in love with the multi-colored plates years ago when a neighbor ordered them through the JC Penney catalog; I watched as she opened the boxes and pulled out color after color: pink, yellow, blue, orange... I was smitten.

When registering for our wedding, I knew I wanted Fiestaware but, my husband wasn't so keen on the idea of multi-colored plates. We went back and forth - first two colors, then three and finally we settled on four colors: persimmon, cobalt, sunflower and white.

I was excited to finally get my Fiestaware but felt somewhat incomplete with only getting four colors - it is my firm belief that, although awesome even in four colors, Fiestaware really shines when there are tons of colors littering the cabinet. I yearned for the additional colors. "Look baby, Fiestaware! See how great the colors look all stacked up together?" I'd say when seeing it stacked up at restaurants. And although I pined for all of the colors, it was the turquoise that I wanted with a burning desire.

The turquoise Fiestware is that perfect shade of turquoise - it reminds me of my grandparents' kitchen complete with original (which with the latest trends could now be dubbed 'retro') 50's style cabinets and terrazzo floor. I kick myself for not getting it as part of our registry and the turquoise dishes have remained on my wish list for just about every occasion for the past 5-plus years.

While dining with my friend Anna, we discussed her choice of colors: tangerine instead of persimmon, no rose, and definitely my beloved turquoise. "By the way, they're retiring the turquoise," she commented in passing.

My throat began to close up and my mouth became dry. "What? Retiring? Turquoise?"

I reached for my blackberry eager to verify this rumor and, if proven valid, to immediately order my dishes. Unable to find any discussion of my favorite color being discontinued, I gave up on adding one more color to my collection - that is, until a few weeks later.

Last weekend, I played on my laptop while my husband watched SportsCenter for the 30th time that day. Hearing the click-click of my keys, my husband looked up to take a momentary break from the trance of Stuart. "Did you order that turquoise Fiestaware yet? You'd better get it now before it's discontinued." And that was it - back to his daily Stuart sermon.

I practically dove for my wallet and, before the next commercial break, my fingers, so adept at typing in the Homer Laughlin website address, had already ordered my very own 16-piece set.

And to you Anna - I'm eternally grateful.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Things You Do For Love

I did manage to use my sewing machine this weekend and, even better, I finished up a present for friends who will be in town for the next few weeks. I blame the belated nature of the gift (their son was born in February) on the fabric - each time I see it, I feel my eyes beginning to melt and my hands start to burn. But, since my friend was some big-time basketball player at Auburn, I had to make sure his son had an appropriate present.

Instead of the regular 'taggies' that I've made for several friends at their request (as much as it has killed me to do so since - although I know kids love them - I find the whole concept of them (and the whole 'patented' idea) silly), I went with sports-themed ribbon and, as always, made sure it was backed with something super soft.

The Auburn applique was an afterthought (so much so that I had to run to the store to buy 12-month onesies because I was quite certain that the 3-month sized stash I have wouldn't work for a 5-month old son of a basketball player. After a few false starts, I stuck a little tear-away interfacing behind the applique and Bam! Talk about night and day - where has that stuff been all of my life? I definitely recommend using interfacing when doing applique if you, like me, have a less-than-perfect, slightly finicky machine.

Although I was excited to finish the present and to give it to friends, more than that, I'm just happy that damn Auburn fabric is out of my house.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Proverbial End of the Tunnel Light

To say that life has been busy would be an understatement - big things going on in all areas of my life and some big changes have certainly made things fun. Slowly I'm regaining my footing: getting more than 3 hours of sleep a night, making my way through the magazines that have piled up in the corner beckoning me to pour a glass of wine and spend my evening pouring through them, and making it outside to enjoy for some long exhilarating summer runs.

And, although my sewing machine has been lonely for the past few weeks, at least I've managed to play in my craft room a bit. Inspired by the beautiful lights at Bright Light Little City, a few weeks ago I decided to try my hand at making my own cocktail parasol lamp.

I loved the warm light the, well, warm-colored umbrellas cast so I unfolded what felt like hundreds of the infamous tiny yellow, orange and red cocktail accessories and, on a Sunday afternoon, between laundry and grocery shopping, found time to glue them to a self-adhesive lampshade.

I'm not going to lie - it's not perfect. There are spots of white where I failed to completely cover the shade (especially toward the bottom when I ran out of yellow) and I found the glue difficult to work with. But, at the end of the day, when I flip the switch, I'm pretty darn excited with my new project.

Now if I could just find some time to use that sewing machine of mine...