Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Novel Idea

I think the time has come for me to get serious about writing my novel. "Um, what?" you may be thinking. "I thought you were a crazy craft lady." Well, I am. But I'm also a crazy words lady. I've been writing a novel or trying to write a novel on and off for the past ten years. My most solid attempt was long and complicated and set on a farm in early 1900s Iowa (don't ask this Jersey girl where that came from). This time around, I'm going to write a simple story about what I know, no research required. But I'll keep up with the blog. If anything, it's all this blogging that has whetted my appetite for writing fiction again. Writing these little posts has become something of an addiction for me. I find myself scribbling stray thoughts on scraps of paper at the weirdest times, storing them away until the moment when I can type them up for your reading pleasure. That having been said, writing this novel will be a slooooow process, the kind of thing I chip away at during odd hours to assuage fits of guilt about too much online shopping. I probably won't say too much about the process on the blog. Although I will reveal that the title will be ten times better than the sorry cliche of an excuse I used for this post. Now that I've gone all public about this, I guess I better get the heck started . . .

Monday, August 30, 2010

Spotlight on Arts and Crafts Necklaces

Green Arts and Crafts Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

Hot Pink, Orange, and Yellow Arts and Crafts Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com
Black and Yellow Arts and Crafts Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com.

You may have noticed that I've been gradually moving my Arts and Crafts necklaces to the new Made to Order Necklaces section of my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com. (I've also been including photos of me modeling them, as I think it gives shoppers a nice visual of how the necklaces look on.) I made the move because I want to start wearing these necklaces myself and have never been comfortable with the concept of selling gently used items, even if they are my own creations. By making these necklaces made to order, I get to "keep" them as well as offer them to my customers. Because I hand craft the magazine beads, each made-to-order necklaces will still be one of a kind. Best of all, I don't need to worry about feeling depressed about sitting on huge chunks of unsold inventory. Who knows. I may even start marketing my totes this way.

At the Movies: A Few Words About Death at a Funeral

Last Friday night I suggested renting a movie. Bent over my Carnival Princess Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com, with the bf's beloved Discovery Channel droning on in the background, I was in need of some comedy. If you've been following this blog, then you probably already know that nonfiction television (the news included) depresses me beyond measure. To me, it's the equivalent of spending a sunny Sunday in a musty old museum. Or maybe even the equivalent of Sunday afternoons themselves, as I don't much like those either. But I digress.

We narrowed down our movie choices to The Bounty Hunter, Hot Tub Time Machine, Date Night, and Death at a Funeral. Well, I narrowed it down. If I'd left the bf to it, then we'd be dealing with secret missions and gratuitous bleeding. As it were, Death at a Funeral was the only option he could stomach at the time, so we went with that. Based on a (reportedly stodgy) British film of the same name, Death featured an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, Loretta Devine, James Marsden, and Luke Wilson, among others. The trailer had been hilarious, so I expected to be choking on hiccup-induced laughter. But it didn't happen. I think it was one of those cases of too many big stars in one movie. Also, all of the best jokes were revealed in the commercials. (Don't you hate when that happens?) What was left was a lukewarm jumble of confusing plot twists. That having been said, Tracy Morgan was the one standout. He just has that comic gift of getting all upset about the pettiest, most ridiculous of situations to the point where everything coming out of his mouth is hysterical. James Marsden was another high point, as I'm never one to knock him going shirtless. Even if he was the (sort of) bad guy in The Notebook.

Something New and Sparkly - Carnival Princess Necklace

Carnival Princess Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

This latest installment in my carnival necklace series, the Carnival Princess Necklace, may be a little too much, even for me. For some time now, all of my necklaces have featured asymmetrical accents. So, when I started this one, I thought, why not get back to basics and put the pendant and other adornments in the center where they belong? I think this would have worked better if I'd skipped the four over-sized rhinestone beads and put the ribbons right next to the pendant. But no matter. I still like this drama queen of a piece. I think I'll try it out with a plain black dress.

Enter to Win Something Adorable From Tracey Knits!

EtsyNJ artist TraceyKnits, http://www.traceyknits.etsy.com/, is having a giveaway! Up for grabs is - wait for it - a $30 gift certificate! Tracey offers an exciting array of hand-knit items including enchanting golf club covers like the one pictured here, kids' football helmets, and fashion accessories. I have two of the golf club covers (Yoda and Philadelphia Phillies), and they're even cuter in person. Intrigued? Then head on over to Audrey's Giveaway blog (the host of the giveaway) to try your luck!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Something New and Sparkly - Carnival Critter Necklace

Carnival Critter Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

Feast your eyes on this! (Hey, you knew it was coming.) So, I had a bunch of pompoms and googly eyes just hanging around and thought, why not incorporate these into a carnival necklace/corsage necklace hybrid? I decided to forgo the candy-colored Faux Show pendant (I've been using at least one in each Carnival Necklace creation), not wanting to detract from the enchanting eyeballs. I'm thinking this would look its dramatic best against a hot pink tee. (I realize I pictured black here but am thinking about changing that, at least for my Etsy listing).

New Etsy Buy - Masterpiece Earrings by StringsnTings

Goldfinger Solo Teardrop Painted Canvas Earrings by StringsnTings, http://www.stringsntings.etsy.com/
Remember that awesome Albert Einstein decoupaged bangle I bought from EtsyNJ's own StringsnTings, http://www.stringsntings.etsy.com/, a couple of weeks ago? Remember how I wrote that I loved her earrings also but didn't have pierced ears? Well, I was so smitten with this hand-painted Goldfinger Solo Teardrop pair that I bought them for my sister, who is always getting little surprises for me. I gave them to her at our mom's ice cream party last night, and she put them on immediately! (As luck would have it, she wasn't already wearing earrings.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Something New and Sparkly - Carnival Fun Necklace

Carnival Fun Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

Isn't this fun? After I finished my candy-colored-ribbon-and-pompom-embellished Carnival Magic Necklace a few weeks back, I knew there would be others. So, hot off my Corsage Necklace kick and armed with my recently-acquired cache of close-out Faux Show pendants, I made my second necklace in the carnival series, the aptly named Carnival Fun Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com.
I began by stringing the beads on silver tone wire, then paused to build a mini corsage. I mounted ribbons, pompoms, and rhinestones on felt with permanent adhesive glue (powerful stuff that nearly melts your skin) and attached it, sandwich style, to the necklace, with the wire and glue in the middle, just like ham and cheese. Next, I strung on the Faux Show pendant, struck by the jarring effect of the 1980s-looking square accent smashed up against the homemade corsage.
Recently, it occurred to me that there's an awful lot of circus-slash-carnival imagery running through my work (Acid bright colors, check. In-your-face sparkle, check. Cartoonish junk food, check. Embellishment overload, check.). Truth be told, I probably should have named my Etsy shop The Circus Trousseau instead of The Tote Trove. "Circus trousseau" is the phrase my mom uses to refer to my wardrobe (affectionately, I think. My mom, by the way, is probably the only person I know who uses bigger words and more flowery phrases than I do. You can thank her for this blog). Anyway, Circus Trousseau is a snappy, all-encompassing name that more accurately describes what my shop now has to offer. Maybe some day you'll open my Etsy shop or blog and see it emblazoned across my banner. Then again, that would involve a lot of red tape, including a call to the IRS. So maybe not.
I feel the need to tell you that I don't actually like the circus. Or carnivals. I find them dirty, seedy, and depressing. It's the idea of them that fascinates me, the promise of a self-contained world buzzing with fun and color and engaging characters plumed in spectacular costumes. I feel much the same way about flea markets. To me, the phrase conjures images of tables laden with obscure treasures rescued from foreclosed boutiques and the attics of eccentric collectors. But the reality is unscruplous types hawking rusted lawn equipment and crates full of cleaning supplies. That having been said, I like to stick to the circus in my mind, a benignly imaginative universe where everyone eats ice cream all day without gaining weight and runs around bedecked in my outrageously funky jewelry. A girl can dream, can't she?

Something New and Sparkly - Color Rocks Necklace

Color Rocks Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

Okay, so this one isn't so sparkly. But I think its vibrant colors, over-sized stones, and charming satin bow more than make up for that, don't you? Although simple in construction, this Color Rocks Necklace is a bold, stand-out piece that adds a splash of fun to any outfit.
I'd long coveted the jawbraker-look-alike stones anchored asymmetrically as the necklace's focal point. Once they were finally in my possession, I was itching to build a project around them. The Color Rocks Necklace was the happy result, and I'm certain it'll inspire many spin-off pieces to come. Burning to know more? Check out the Color Rocks Necklace in my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com, in the Made to Order Necklaces section.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"It makes me mad when people say I turned and ran like a scared rabbit. Maybe it was like an angry rabbit, who was running to go fight in another fight, away from the first fight."

Monday, August 23, 2010

At the Movies: Rockin' Out with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

With a free movie coupon burning a hole in my wallet (courtesy of the free and fabulous Regal rewards club), I decided to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World this past Sunday. I went solo, as everyone on my movie companion list was otherwise engaged. There was a sprinkling of other moviegoers at the matinee, all of whom grunted in disgust as the previews rolled on soundlessly against a "Thanks for silencing your cell phones" watermark. Thankfully, whatever was broken was fixed in time for the feature presentation.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on a Canadian graphic novel series. Not being a comic book kind of girl, I came more for the kookiness factor and for the Michael Cera. And although the story was an odd one, strangely told, I wasn't disappointed. Cera stars as the title character, a hapless twenty-two-year-old bass guitarist for an obscure rock band in Toronto. He has no job and is dating a seventeen-year-old Asian girl named Knives, much to the amusement of his friends and family (including his sarcastic and gossipy sister, played by Up in the Air's Anna Kendrick). Indeed, their relationship is pretty flimsy. Never-been-kissed Knives is the most naive seventeen-year-old on the planet and shadows Scott with pathetic puppy dog eagerness. Scott is just going through the motions, still hung up on Natalie - now superstar rocker Envy, the girl who broke his heart. At least he is until he meets Ramona, the girl of his literal and figurative dreams. The quintessential badass indie chick with a past, Ramona moved to Toronto from New York to start a quieter life. An enigma to everyone, she dyes her hair a different day-glo shade every other week and trails a string of broken-hearted suitors in her wake. Although I appreciated her edgy independence, I found her a little morose. But Scott was instantly smitten, summoning all of his courage in Cera's signature delightfully dorky way to fend off her seven evil exes.

So far, this may sound like every romantic comedy about young, misunderstood people ever written. And in some ways it is. But in other ways, not so much. Take the presentation. As each character is introduced at the movie's beginning, a little box pops up on the screen offering up said character's stats, kind of like in VH1's Pop Up Video. When Scott and Ramona go to Ramona's house on their first date, they fly there ("there" being a single door suspended in space). And, as Scott defeats each evil ex, a shower of tokens explodes onto the screen. Watching it all, I felt like I was inside a video game, as I'm sure the director intended. Although this sometimes made concentrating difficult, I give full points for originality.

As always, Cera is perfect as the endearingly dry and witty David-type guy going up against the proverbial Goliath. After battling Ramona's seven evil exes (the final and most evil of which is a record deal-wielding Jason Schwartzman), Ramona proclaims him to be "the nicest guy she ever dated." Knives (who's been lurking in the background sporting Ramona's hairstyle since being dumped early in the movie) bows out gracefully, and Scott and Ramona enter an enchanted and otherworldly realm of happily-ever-after. Little pink cartoon hearts abound.

Being a girl and all, I wasn't impressed by the many and special effects-laden fight scenes. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the edgy humor of this off-kilter little tale almost as much as I enjoyed its celebration of that timeless and much-hearted theme, misfits in love.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Report: The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

The other night I finished reading The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham, otherwise known as Shopaholic series writing sensation Sophie Kinsella. There are about six Wickham novels in all, a factoid that intrigued me. Why, I wondered, was this popular chick lit author writing under two names? In search of answers, I consulted Google and finally found what I was looking for on http://www.about.com/. It turns out that the Wickham books, which were written first, were not so popular. Furthermore, the article I read described them as "having more substance than the frothy Kinsella books." Apparently, Madeleine came up with the pseudonym Sophie Kinsella to launch her Shopaholic books in hopes of attracting new readers (which, as we all know, she did in spades).

So, The Wedding Girl. I d0n't know if I'd call it a novel of substance (it seemed pretty frothy to me), but it was markedly different from the more larger-than-life Kinsella adventures we all know and love. It's about a twenty-eight-year-old girl named Millie (terrible name, I know, as it conjures up images of old ladies bent over their knitting. But then, maybe it's a British thing.) who is engaged to Simon, a millionaire's son. They're happy enough, save for a few little details. For instance, Millie dresses more conservatively than she would like because she thinks Simon prefers it. She also pretends to read newspapers when she'd rather be reading celebrity magazines. I was put off by this; after all, how can you marry a man when he doesn't even know if you're a pumps or sneakers kind of girl? (Personal style, as we all know, speaks volumes about one's personality.) But despite this ripple, things seem to be going smoothly for the couple. That is, until the wedding photographer recognizes Millie as a bride he saw coming down the courthouse steps ten years ago. After this hairpin turn of events, we learn that Millie married a gay American man, Allan, when she was eighteen, so he could stay in England with his boyfriend, Rupert. She never told anyone and lost touch with Allan. She also never got divorced.

Terrified that the photographer will reveal her secret to the vicar, Millie confides in her godmother, the single and glamorous Esme, before finally setting off to London in search of Allan. This would be a good place to mention that this is one of those novels that dips into every main character's head. For example, we find out that Millie's sister, Isobel, is seeing Simon's father, Harry, and is pregnant with his child; that Millie's father is planning to leave Millie's mother; and that Rupert is now married to a woman and is a born-again Christian. To me, this was what made the novel interesting. By revealing each character's back story and thoughts, Wickham renders each as sympathetic, stripping any one character of "good guy" or "bad guy" status. (Come to think of it, maybe this is where the substance comes in.) From my creative writing workshop days, I know that the third-person omniscient viewpoint is one of the most difficult for a writer to work with (my professor always advised us against tackling it). So, I was impressed by Wickham's skillful use of it here.

Of course, the vicar finds out about Millie. And of course, it wasn't the photographer who squealed, but the unfairy godmother, Esme. Apparently, she's some man-hating nut who was once jilted by Harry. Simon is outraged and calls off the wedding. But things don't remain messy for long. The rift between Simon and Millie shakes things up in such a way that it seems to bring out the best in everyone - including themselves. Isobel and Harry get engaged, Millie's parents decide to stay together, Rupert decides to leave his wife and come out of the closet for good, and Millie tells Simon the truth about her wild wardrobe and her penchant for gossip columns. Amused by her final confessions, he says he's always known the real her and loves her more than ever. To top it all off, Allan turns out to be dead, freeing Millie and Simon to marry.

Although the conflicts were tidied up a bit speedily at the end, I enjoyed this story. Like all of the Wickham-Kinsella books, it offers a humorous yet insightful peek into the minds of twenty-something women and has the makings of a great romantic comedy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home is Where the Art Is

A few nights ago I returned home from work to find three surprises. Well, maybe "find" isn't the right word. It implies that there was no struggle in my discovery of said surprises, which was not the case. "Notice anything different?" asked the bf expectantly as I entered the living room. I was setting down my purse and removing my office ID badge, my weary mind unprepared for the challenge that awaited. I should interject that the bf takes a special glee in remarking upon my shoddy powers of observation. To be fair, his teasing isn't unfounded. As this account shows, I spotted only one of his surprises without the aid of his coaching, which took the form of that age-old crowd-pleaser of a party game, "hot and cold."
Outrageous Owl Print, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/
Remember this? It's a print of the Large Outrageous Owl Tote I made for Katie of the blog What Katie Wore, http://www.whatkatiewore.com/. I'd framed it ages ago with the intention of hanging it, but you know how that goes. I like to imagine someone looking at it and thinking, "Ooh! It's a painting. Wait, no, it's a print of a painted tote bag. How clever!" Of course, this person would have no prior knowledge of my tote painting enterprise. (I realize I'm taking some liberties here, but why write a blog if not to entertain such indulgences?)
Here we have the newest member of our Animal House, http://www.b2c.bwtc.com/, menagerie, the blue jay corkscrew. This surprise was the most difficult for me to discover. The bf and I were sitting in the kitchen when he asked, apropos of nothing, "Do we have a corkscrew?"
"I don't know," I replied, and began rummaging around in the drawers. Coming up empty-handed, I admitted, "I guess not. But then, we're not big drinkers, so we probably figured we didn't need one . . ." The bf seemed to ignore this comment, instead taking off on a new tangent. (In hindsight, I recognize this as the dead giveaway it was.) "Don't forget your jewelry on the shelf," he said. Absently, I glanced at the shelf above the sink where I frequently discard rings and bracelets before attacking mountains of cheese-encrusted dishes. Something blue and foreign caught my eye, and I finally realized what he'd been getting at. Honestly, sometimes I think I make it too easy.

Now, the third surprise I did notice. We'd had these mini cutting boards from Target since we'd moved in two years ago, and although we'd always intended to display them, it never happened. So I was more than charmed to see them hanging cheerily against the stark kitchen wall.

The bf knows I like to craft as kooky a space as possible, and I was touched that he'd taken it upon himself to humor me. (Did I mention that he also scrubbed the kitchen floor? He would be annoyed if he knew I wrote that.)

Corsage Montage

Here they are, all nine Corsage Necklaces in a profusion of color and kitschiness. Yesterday I made a special trip to Marshalls to purchase this hat box as a new home for them. They just about fit inside, nestled amidst layers of protective tissue. If I make any more, then I'll need to buy another one.

Something New and Sparkly - Brown Sugar Corsage Necklace

Brown Sugar Corsage Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

This Brown Sugar Corsage Necklace will probably be the last in my corsage series, at least for awhile (don't fret, though; I'll soon be embarking on a whole new line of wacky neck wear for your viewing enjoyment :). I figured I might as well go out with a bang with this, my biggest corsage to date. Resplendent in rich autumn neutrals, this sugary confection will be sure to lend some Victorian charm to all my cool weather dresses (and who knows, maybe yours too!). Look for it in the Made to Order Necklaces section of my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"If you ever go temporarily insane, don't shoot somebody, like a lot of people do. Instead, try to get some weeding done, because you'd really be surprised."

Something New and Sparkly - Orange You Glad Corsage Necklace

Orange You Glad Corsage Necklace, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/

Here's my latest corsage necklace creation, the Orange You Glad Corsage Necklace. I thought it would be appropriate to feature on a gray day like this one.
I was in the jewelry supply section in A. C. Moore during my lunch break yesterday (but then, what else is new?), when an older lady started talking to me about bead prices. "These are expensive!" she declared, holding up a $4.99 semi-precious strand for my inspection.
"I know," I agreed.
"My cousin made this bracelet," she continued, holding up her wrist. "She sells them for $6.00 each. But how can that be when just one bead strand costs $4.99?!"
She was clearly frustrated, and I found myself nodding in sympathy. "I know. I sell my jewelry too, and you never really make your supply money back."
She seemed to register this, then went on to say that she could buy a whole bracelet ready-made on sale at Boscov's for $15.00. Then she asked me which beads she should buy (she had three different strands in greenish blues in her hand). I said they were all lovely before making my good-byes and heading back to work.
The nature of our conversation certainly wasn't unusual. I think that most people are a little shocked when they realize just how much it costs to make jewelry. I probably shouldn't say this as a jewelry artist and salesperson, but I understand shoppers' reluctance to buy handmade when there are so many more affordable (and admittedly attractive) options out there. (Please, god of all that is Etsy, do not strike me down.) Yet by the same token, I really don't think too much about the cost of jewelry supplies these days because I'm creating with myself in mind. Instead of thinking, "I won't buy too many supplies for one piece because that will drive up the piece's retail price," I think, "I'm willing to spend this money because it'll allow me to have fun making something cool that I can wear forever." Coming up with a retail price if I decide to sell it in my Etsy shop becomes secondary. I know that sounds impractical. But then, I never professed to be a good businesswoman.

I Spy Another Treasury!

Wild Eyes Barrette Set, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

The industrious Funknugget, http://www.funknugget.etsy.com/, went ahead and included my Wild Eyes Barrette Set in yet another treasury:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Something New and Sparkly - Purple People Eater Corsage Necklace

Purple People Eater Corsage Necklace, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com

Purple. Violet. Lilac. Lavender. This frilly fancy has them all. And on that note, I think I'll retire and have some chocolate chip mint ice cream. Apparently there's some book out there about blogging called No One Cares What You Had For Lunch, or something. I, of course, will be ignoring such advice. So you can expect the food-filled updates, inappropriate snack accounts, and anecdotal culinary disasters to keep coming :)

Something New and Sparkly - Mellow Yellow Corsage Necklace

Mellow Yellow Corsage Necklace, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/

I'm proud to introduce my biggest "go big or go home" corsage necklace yet - Mellow Yellow! Once I saw all those sweet ribbon flowers and ornamental birds in A. C. Moore, I was powerless to stop myself from cramming them all onto a single felt disc . . . But then, I like a necklace with personality, especially when it's paired with a retro-inspired polka-dot top. I just listed this one in my Etsy shop, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/, and was surprised to find that my homepage format had changed. (I'd read about this upcoming development somewhere but forgot that it was being implemented today.) The items seem bigger, or maybe they're just arranged so you can see more of them. Or maybe there are more of them. Darned if I know. What was clear was that the shop announcement is now teeny-tiny with an option to read the rest of the text in a dialogue box. Also, the navigation menu is on the left instead of the right. This seemed really weird to me, but now that I think of it, a navigation bar really should be on the left. Isn't it funny how you can get used to something, even when it's wrong? Although I'm not completely at home with the new layout yet, I must admit that the images look more enticing. Hopefully the shoppers agree :)
Tonight I got so caught up in my Etsying and blogging that I burned dinner! I was making this Sandra Lee recipe that I'd made only once before, with chicken breasts, grapefruit, mint, lime juice, and some other cook-bookish-sounding-stuff (I was trying to make something healthy for once). At one point, I tore myself away from my computer to check on it and was satisfied to find it bubbling away fragrantly, just like a good Sandra Lee dish should. Confident that all was well, I resumed blogging for just a few minutes. Or so I thought. But it must have been longer, because typing mid-sentence, I was disturbed by the faint sound of sizzling. I ran back into the chicken to find my poor chicken breasts lying on a bed of nasty-smelling charcoal. The bf (bless his heart) insisted they were still edible, so we ate them. But they were kind of awful. And I'm fairly certain that my largest KitchenAid frying pan is ruined. I always knew my narcissism would lead to destruction . . .

Treasury Times Two Today - Wild Style

Wild Eyes Barrette Set

Remember last night when I got a surprise Etsy convo that my Medium Pink Fierce Flowers Sparkle Tote was included in a treasury? Well, today I received two more convos, each letting me know that my Wild Eyes Barrette Set had been included in new treasuries! I was certainly not expecting that; I'm sure glad I decided to relist them late last night!
The first treasury was created by Funknugget, http://www.funknugget.etsy.com/. Needless to say, I was curious to find out just what Funknugget created, and sure enough, it was nothing I would have fathomed - greeting cards featuring photos of her own handmade sock puppets! Now, that's original. Check out Funknugget's treasury picks here (I promise you'll gasp):


The second treasury came from Victoria Elizabeth QOC, http://www.victoriaelizabethqoc.etsy.com/. Naturally, I hopped over to her shop to check our her creations and discovered adorable, whimsical costumes and clothes for little girls. Her treasury is a Barbie explosion of hot pink glamour:


It was interesting seeing how one of my items fit in with two different collections. It just goes to show that the possibilities on Etsy are endless . . .

Monday, August 16, 2010

Treasury Time for My Medium Pink Fierce Flowers Sparkle Tote

I've never created an Etsy treasury. For those of you not in the know, a treasury is a collection of Etsy items tied together by a common theme. Each treasury is curated by an Etsy seller, who often sends the treasury link to other Etsians, requesting that they click on each item to give the treasury a chance of being featured on Etsy's coveted front page.

From time to time I have the pleasure of hearing that one of my pieces is included in such a collection. This evening seller tararosie, www.tararosie.etsy.com, was kind enough to hand pick my Medium Pink Fierce Flowers Sparkle Tote for her "It's a Jungle Out There" treasury. Check it out here. And if you like what you see, then click away!

My First Free Weekend Post Craft Show Drop Out

This past weekend, I had been scheduled to vend at the Cape May Promenade Craft Show. But as you know, I recently became a craft show dropout, canceling all of my shows so I could concentrate on making better art, writing a better blog, and (at the risk of sounding like an infomercial) living a better life. This is what I did with my time (sorry about repeating the items I've already blogged about).

- Saw Dinner for Schmucks with the bf. Had dinner at Red Robin and dessert at Rita's.

- Rode bikes with the bf and went to the beach.

- Saw Eat Pray Love with my mom and went shopping.

- Finished my Mellow Yellow, Purple People Eater, Orange You Glad, and Brown Sugar corsage necklaces.

- Blogged.

- Read other people's blogs.

- Worked on my Etsy shop.

- Did laundry.

- Continued reading The Wedding Girl by Sofie Kinsella.

- Made a pasta dinner.

- Exercised (a little).

- Slept.

By Sunday night, I was amazed by the all the stuff I'd managed to cram in. During our bike ride, the bf and I had passed a flea market breaking down at the Brigantine football field. I watched vendors struggling with their crates of sunglasses and what have you and couldn't help but think that I would've been spending my weekend the same way. Loading and unloading, setting up and breaking down, chasing wind-strewn necklaces across the blacktop, driving back and forth, updating all my inventory and expense files, etc, etc, etc. Realizing that it was all behind me, I felt only one thing - relief.

At the Movies: Some Thoughts on Eat Pray Love

I kept the movie momentum going this weekend by seeing Eat Pray Love with my mom on Sunday. Now, I hadn't read the book. (Usually, I like to read the book before seeing the movie, but I'd heard bad things about this one and decided to pass.) Yet despite the hype, I wasn't expecting much. And I turned out to be right; the movie was about a whole lot of nothing trying very hard to be something.

Basically, it's the story of Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts), a writer who decides she's no longer in love with her husband (Billy Crudup), a guy who's only crime is that he's a dreamer who changes careers a lot. So she gets divorced, has an affair with a much-younger actor (James Franco), and travels to Italy, India, and Bali (insert cliche here) to find herself.

The premise seems promising. I mean, what woman doesn't want to run away from her life every now and then? But Liz's journey fails to live up to its potential because it lacks depth and direction. Once an inveterate eater of salads, she embarks upon a "no carb left behind experiment" that results in weight gain and the need for "big girl jeans." Once afraid to talk to God, she seeks out gurus and meditation experts and swallows their beliefs without examining them. And of course, once relationship-challenged, she finally falls in love, sailing off with a guy she's known for only a couple of weeks. To be honest, I found all of this to be pointless and boring. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why a woman would need to travel the world to "have a relationship with her pizza" and meet a decent guy. But maybe that's because I'm a homebody in a smug relationship with no compunctions about stuffing my face full of carbs.

I also couldn't understand why Liz would want to stay in some broken-down apartment in Italy with no running bath water or an ashram in India where she was required to scrub floors. Equally baffling and unrealistic were the quick, close-knit friendships she seemed to forge with just about everyone she met.

I can't help but think that this movie wanted women to accept Liz as this enlightened feminist role model when she was really just an emotionally unavailable victim of her own made-up problems.

But enough with the snarkiness. Surely I can come up with something good to say about this movie. Julia Roberts did a fine job playing Liz and probably infused the character with more likability than she deserved. The scenery in Bali was lushly breathtaking. And one of Liz's Italian friends says that Americans work too hard and enjoy too little, slaving away at 9-to-5 jobs all week only to collapse on the weekends, spending the entire time in their pajamas in front of the TV. I couldn't argue with that one.

To be honest, I enjoyed Dinner for Schmucks more.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Report: Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

A few weeks ago I was wandering through one of those Atlantic bookstores when I stumbled upon Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. I don't usually go for celebrity memoirs (I read novels almost exclusively) but always enjoyed Chelsea's column in Cosmopolitan and decided to give it a try. For the most part, it turned out to be just the sort of irreverent, light fare for which I'd been searching, with the exception of a chapter entitled "Prison Break" in which Chelsea describes the night she spent in a women's penitentiary. (She got picked up for drunk driving at twenty-one and was then discovered to be on some wanted list for using her older sister's driver's license to get into bars. Chilling stuff.)

For me, one of the highlights (naturally) was when Chelsea reveals herself to be a Golden Girls fan on page 34:

"About an hour later the phone rang right in the middle of a brand-new episode of "The Golden Girls." My favorite character was Bea Arthur (Dorothy). I've always felt we had similar senses of humor, although I imaged myself having a better body when I hit seventy, not to mention highlights."

On the whole, the book is fun, raunchy, and sometimes a little disturbing. But it was a good ride, and I'll probably end up reading the two others she has out. For now I've dipped back into my chick lit comfort zone with some Sophie Kinsella. Well, to be more accurate some Madeline Wickham (that was Sophie's pen name before she hit it big with the Shopaholic series). More on that once I finish.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New Etsy Buy - A Bangle with Brains

Einstein Recycled Magazine Bangle by StringsnTings, www.StringsnTings.etsy.com

I was browsing a treasury recently when this decoupaged bangle by EtsyNJ artist StringsnTings jumped out at me. Now, I'm always on the lookout for accessories that are colorful, distinctive, and offbeat. And I'm a sucker for a good bangle. You know that. So, I was drawn to this artsy piece sporting what I thought to be a floral print. Only, I was wrong. After reading StringnTings's item listing, I discovered that she used one of those colorized pop art print-outs of Albert Einstein. Armed with the knowledge that the bangle was even quirkier than I'd first surmised, I knew that a purchase was imminent (even if I did dis Einstein for leaving his wife for his cousin in an erstwhile post).
The decoupage job on this bracelet is excellent. Moreover, the photo of the bangle with the book and roses makes for an eye-catching listing. I should mention that StringsnTings also offers lovely hand-painted earrings, which I would certainly purchase for myself if I weren't such a wuss and had pierced ears. Hmm. Perhaps they'd make nice presents this holiday season. All in all, well done, StringsnTings.

At the Movies: Dinner for Schmucks

I thought it was high time I provided my readers with some borrowed visuals when appropriate. If only to add photographs other than my own to the mix.

All summer long, I've been waiting for the movies. For the blockbusters and comedies that give summer its excitement and sparkle. But after Sex and the City II came out in May, June melted into July with nary a prospect, and I resigned myself to the sad truth that there would be nothing to see.
And then came August. Instead of winding down with a cold buffet of B offerings, summer finally came into its own, unleashing a smorgasbord of possibility in Dinner for Schmucks (I know it came out at the tail end of July, but for the purposes of my argument, that works too); The Other Guys; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Eat, Pray, Love; The Switch; and The Distance. Now, I know you must be thinking, "What?! These are the movies for which you've been waiting?" I know, I know. Most of them aren't stellar, in and of themselves. But together they present a united front of much-needed, light-hearted summer fare, offering choices where none existed before. I'm someone who likes to go to the movies. A lot. And quite frankly, I don't expect to have a religious experience each time. I'm just looking to be entertained. I want comedies (and sometimes dramas), and lots of them, even if they turn out to be merely lukewarm.
So, last night I decided that the bf and I should venture out and see one of these contenders. I was torn between Dinner for Schmucks and The Other Guys (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was out because I knew the bf wouldn't want to see it, not sharing my appreciation for Michael Cera.). They were two comedies that may or may not be funny. On the one hand, you had Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and Jemaine Clement ("Flight of the Conchords") and the promise of all the color and noise and hilarity that comes with a plot based around a dinner party. On the other hand, you had Will Ferrell (and Mark Wahlberg, but he hardly counts as an asset. Nothing against him, but he's just no Will Ferrell, you know?). Now, Will Ferrell's genius is such that it trumps the characteristic dreariness of the cop movie. So, I was clearly feeling the pull. But despite my emotional tug-of-war, I decided to go with Dinner for Schmucks. The appeal of the weird factor was too strong to resist, as was Paul Rudd.

So, how was it? A little slow at first. And definitely weird. It also had a faintly European flavor, which was probably owing to the fact that it was based on the 1998 French film Le Diner de Cons (or to us, The Dinner Game). It became more farcical and dramatic as it built to its (admittedly predictable) conclusion. Steve Carell stole the show as Barry, an IRS agent who creates diorama "mouseterpieces" featuring dead mice in elaborate settings such as the Last Supper, Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flight, and an extravagant picnic starring little girl mice in red wigs emulating his ex-wife. Barry is the well-meaning moron who wreaks havoc every time he tries to "help," the ultimate schmuck who is destined to take first prize at Tim's (Rudd's) boss's competition dinner for idiots. Yet despite his annoying personality and fondness for dead rodents, I must admit that I was genuinely charmed by Barry and his mouseterpieces. Call it the artist in me, but anyone who would devote so much time, detail, and love to such an off-putting craft couldn't help but emerge as endearing. Jemaine Clement's role as an out-there, oversexed artist was interesting too, although in a creepy and decidedly not endearing way. It was strange seeing him with long hair, no glasses, and a tan - not to mention actually getting chicks - when I've known him as only the hapless nerdy musician on "Flight of the Conchords." Speaking of which, the Choncords' friendly stalker, Mel (Kristen Schaal), also made an appearance as Tim's quirky secretary (she is just as odd as she is in Conchords and wears some fabulously kitschy pins).

Overall, Dinner for Schmucks wasn't laugh-out-loud funny. But it was fun to watch, and to this comedy-starved moviegoer, well worth the trip.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nothing Says Birthday Like Bacon

Last Saturday was the bf's birthday. I knew I'd found the perfect gift when I saw this board game, Mr. Bacon's Big Adventure, on http://www.fredflare.com/. A knock-off of Candyland, the game features a board illustrated with - what else - bacon and other pork products. Think a little log cabin made of Vienna sausages with a pepperoni roof and Slim Jim chimney. A corndog forest. Trees sprouting meatballs. A strip of bacon bathing in a mustard sea. You get the idea. To make things even more interesting, the instructions suggested playing with real processed meats. As in, land on a space with a meatball on a pimento loaf background and - you guessed it - eat a meatball wrapped in everyone's favorite eyeball-studden luncheon meat. There were other even more disturbing combinations, but I'll spare you. Needless to say, the bf found the whole thing hysterical. We played immediately (sans the meat), and he won. As was only fitting.
A rare shot of the bf in his natural habitat.

And yet another shot of me. If you look very closely, you can just about make out the Tote Trove creation hanging around my neck, not to mention the one dangling on my arm . . .

Earlier events of the big day included a visit to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, right here in Brigantine. The Center rehabilitates wounded seals and other sea life and then releases them back into the ocean. It's the only center of its kind in New Jersey. (The bf relayed this nugget to me. Of the pair of us, he is the socially and environmentally responsible one who is in the know about such things.) Although we didn't get to see any seals, we did see several male lady crabs (nature's joke, I suppose), pursuing several female lady crabs in hopes of mating. The females were having none of it.

That night we enjoyed dinner at Bobby Flay Steak at the Borgata, followed by a night's stay. We each wolfed down large slabs of steak and a sumptuous dessert, pina colada sorbet for him and passion fruit cheesecake for me. I suggested that we return some time just to order the entire dessert menu. Somehow I think they would frown upon that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"If you're a circus clown, and you have a dog that you use in your act, I don't think it's a good idea to also dress the dog up like a clown, because people see that and they think, "Forgive me, but that's just too much." '

Something New and Sparkly - Green with Envy Corsage Necklace

Green with Envy Corsage Necklace

"How many of those are you going to make?" the bf asked as I embellished yet another circle of felt with silk flowers, rhinestones, and other trinkety treasures, this time in a wicked emerald green. "I told you," I said, pausing to swat the spider webs of fabric glue climbing from my workspace, "I'm making my way through the rainbow." Little did he know, my mind was already on my next two necklaces, Purple Haze and Mellow Yellow, the pieces of which waited expectantly in the A. C. Moore bags that perpetually scattered our living room. (Actually, he did know. Because I told him. I tell him entirely too much, poor guy.)
As with all creative projects, it seems the more of these necklaces I create, the more of them I want to create. Just today I was dreaming up a jaunty poinsettia surrounded by sprigs of holly and those tiny foil-wrapped presents for December . . .
But I'm getting ahead of myself. For now, the wearable garden in my Etsy shop, www.thetotetrove.etsy.com, continues to flourish.