Sunday, January 31, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 152

This painting's finally done. I'm kind of relieved. Hope everyone has a good Monday.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 151

Today I was unusually productive. For once, I tried to adhere to my frighteningly detailed weekend to-do list, which was, as usual, crammed with Tote Trove-related items. At the top was working on my I See You Jungle painting. I finished the first coat and began the second and am optimistic about finishing it tomorrow despite the fact that I'm attending a bridal shower. I'm going to outline only the eyes on this one. To make them stand out even more, I'll tip the eyelashes with silver and add some funky pastel eye shadow to the eyelids. I hope the results live up to my imagination.

Next I drew these four tiny totes, in preparation for craft fair season, which will be here before I know it. (One of my to-do's was completing my application for the Millville Arts, Music, and Antiques Festival. It's not until next September, but they're offering a free ad in their program book for early birds, so I figured why not.) I know they're hard to see, but the pink and yellow totes feature cupcakes and hearts, whereas the two natural ones have a Tote Trove rose and checkerboard hearts and stars pattern, respectively. I'm growing quite fond of the hearts and stars motif; this will be its fourth incarnation. Of course, they're all a little bit different, because no two Tote Trove creations can be exactly the same. As for the large tote, it's a little something I like to call the Outrageous Owl. It's actually for Katie of What Katie Wore. It's got a bunch of crazy things on it, including but not limited to a slice of pizza, a lipstick, an apple, and, of course, an owl.

Finally, I resolved to move all my paints out of the living room today so the bf could finally put together our TV stand and restore the coffee table to its rightful position. Sadly, this means I'll no longer be able to paint in front of the TV (unless we hook one up in the spare room). This will most likely mean less TV and movie reviews on my end. But I feel good that we've got the house back to rights (sort of). It's important for me to live in a (somewhat) orderly house like a normal grown-up. And the light in the spare room-slash-studio is much better for painting.

I hope you're all having a delightful weekend as well. If you're reading, watching movies, and/or online shopping, then I'm blisteringly jealous.

Book Report: (Rereading) Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

When I saw the movie poster for Dear John a couple of months ago, I was excited. I'd read the book when it came out a couple of years ago and had found it haunting. So, I decided to reread it as sort of a refresher before seeing the movie.

I expected it to be less vivid, the way books sometimes are if you read them a second time. But it wasn't. It was sadder than the first time, maybe because I knew what was coming. The more I read, the more I realized the book was about two people not destined to be together. (Spoiler alert: you should stop reading if you don't want the plot revealed.) John and Savannah's dreams hinge on a mere two weeks together. During their next meeting, a year later, they're already starting to fall apart. One could argue that their time apart is to blame, but I think just the opposite. Distance kept the fantasy spinning, but once they're back in each other's lives it's evident that they aren't right for each other. Their differences cause them to fight about the kind of stuff that breaks people up, especially young people, all the time.

Maybe I sound cynical. But I'm not. Because it's John and Savannah's very unsuitedness that renders their story as extraordinary. Although he doesn't say so, I think John reups with the army because his last visit with Savannah showed just how much she's moved on in his absence. He's hanging around, wanting to spend every spare minute with her before he goes back, and she's going to class and making plans with friends. Not that she's wrong. When pressed, she admits that she keeps busy to help her be stronger when he leaves. So, they're distancing themselves from each other to avoid getting hurt: she by keeping busy and he by reupping. Yet the emotional distance only exacerbates the growing problem of their physical distance.

It didn't surprise me (during the first reading) when I found out that Savannah married Tim. The entire novel is set up for her to marry him. He's her best friend, they were brought up the same way, and their personalities are very similar. In a way, John is the interloper, sweeping in for two weeks, turning her head, and then leaving while Tim is left to pick up the pieces. The first time I read this, I sort of wanted to hate Tim. For being so perfect. For getting in the way. But I must have grown up a lot in between readings, because now it's clear to me that he's the one she was meant to be with. John knows that too, and his love for Savannah is so great that when he finds out Tim is dying, he gives her the money from his father's coin collection to save Tim's life. Even though both she and Tim seem resigned to Tim's impending death. Even though part of him still wants to be with her. Everything happens for a reason; John met Savannah so that he could understand his autistic father better just as Savannah met John so that he could save Tim's life. They're supposed to learn from each other, but they're not supposed to be together. That, I think, is what made the book so much sadder upon the second reading. Understanding that it was John who was the third wheel.

This story is about sacrifice. But it's also about what day-to-day love really means. There's that age old argument about who's better, relationship-wise: the person you find exciting and passionate, or the one you can depend on. When I was younger, I was so sure the first answer was the right one. Now I know that excitement fades without anything to back it up, and that it's the person who does the dishes with you and hauls your craft show stuff all over the state that's the one. You can see that woven throughout Dear John, early on when Savannah tells John about Tim picking her up from a date gone wrong, and at the end when she tells him about she and Tim restoring their house as two people starting out together in the world.

I think realizing all of this makes me even more of a romantic.

After I see the movie, I'll be sure to post about my impressions. I'm interested to see what they change (it's always something).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Time for Seafood Pizza!

Last night I tried a recipe from Make it Yourself Pizzas: Traditional and Contemporary Recipes for the Perfect Pizza, which was a birthday gift from my sister. Well, maybe "experimented with" is more accurate than "tried" because I changed every other thing in the recipe! But what's the point of cooking if you can't make it your own, right? Anyway, here's the recipe, complete with my variations:


2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing (Did not use this.)
Pizza dough (Skipped this in favor of the far more forgiving Boboli.)
Flour, for dusting (Nope again.)
14 oz canned chopped tomatoes (Finally, we got one!)
7 oz canned tuna, drained (And . . . we're back where we were. I substituted lump crab meat because I think tuna is gross.)
1 1/4 cups cooked peeled shrimp
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (Had to go with jarred here; chopping parsley just isn't part of what I do.)
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (Ditto.)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (Ditto.)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a cookie sheet with oil. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured counter to a 10-inch round. Place on the cookie sheet and push up the edge a little. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 10 minutes. (Now you probably understand why I shortcut it over to the Boboli.) Spoon the tomatoes evenly over the base almost to the edge. Flake the tuna (or crab meat) and spread it over the tomatoes, then arrange the shrimp on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Combine the parsley, oregano, garlic, and olive oil and drizzle the mixture over the pizza. Bake for 20 minutes (10 if you're not using raw dough), until the edge is crisp and golden.

Even with all my amendments, the results were tasty despite the crust being a tad bit soggy. But that was my fault for not preheating the crust. Still, you can never go wrong with shrimp and crab. The bf and I enjoyed the leftovers tonight (not of the pizza; we gobbled all of that up yesterday. Just the seafood. Living up to my extravagant nature, I bought a whopping two pounds total.)

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 150

Making some progress here, despite having skipped out into dreamland too early last night. It's bone-chillingly cold here in Brigantine, so much so that I kind of wish I lived in this tropical paradise. Well, maybe minus the eyes. They're a wee bit creepy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Won a Giveaway!

It's always fun to win something, and in Etsy blogland there are always ample opportunities to do just that. A couple of days ago my turn came when I won this trio of earthy felted bowls from Handmade by Sandi. They arrived today (how's that for customer service?), along with this charming floral accent, and are currently residing on my kitchen counter. Thanks so much, Sandi!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"If you're at a Thanksgiving dinner, but you don't like stuffing or the cranberry sauce or anything else, just pretend like you're eating it, but instead, put it all in your lap and form it into a big mushy ball. Then, later, when you're out back having cigars with the boys, let out a big fake cough and throw the ball to the ground. Then say, "Boy, those are good cigars!" '

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 148: A Detour

I knew I was going to my parents' house for dinner, so I did this marker sketch on my lunch break to fulfill today's Challenge. I hadn't used markers in years, and they were harder to work with than I remembered. But I had a good time with this fun if somewhat juvenile little picture. Probably because it reminded me of a coloring book. :)

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 147: More Painting and What Was Xavier Roberts Thinking?

The jungle is beginning to come into its own. I'm getting excited about that.

On a completely unrelated note, I started thinking about all the Cabbage Patch Kids my sister and I had and their crazy names. They were:

Allison Cherie
Alicia Joelle
Ana Angelina
Noreen Rhoda
Edith Adelaide

Weird, right? Especially that last one. And what was with Xavier's autograph tattooed on their butts?!

I don't know what became of any of the dolls except Noreen Rhoda, which was my sister's much-loved preemie. She lives on in our mom's kindergarten classroom.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 146: I'm Starting to See You

As promised, I began to add the first tentative touches of color to the Eye See You Jungle. I wish I could go on, but I think I need to call it a night. I've got lots of project and blog ideas, though. I hope to put it all in motion by this weekend . . .

Win a Plush Animal from Made by Melissa!

Fellow EtsyNJ team member Melissa is hosting a giveaway! Up for grabs is one of her adorable must-have plush animals (I included a picture so you can see just how adorable :). Want to welcome one to your home? Just follow these easy steps (I did!):

1) Comment to the blog post (link below) with your favorite item in Made by Melissa's shop.

2) Heart said item.

3) Tweet about your favorite item with #traceyknits so it can be tracked. (Tracey Knits posted the giveaway as part of her interview with Melissa.)

4) Write about your favorite item on your blog/Facebook, sharing the link in the comments.

For more info (and to leave your comment!), here's the link.*

*Link deactivated.

Some Tasty Necklaces from Indy Grrrl Productions

Cheeseburger Necklace

I Heart Snow Cones Necklace

Today my order arrived from Indy Grrl Productions. I opened the sticker-bedecked envelope to reveal a snazzy pink box, then opened that to find two of the cutest, funkiest necklaces I've ever seen along with a rose lollipop ring, homemade lip balm (from Indy Grrrl's other shop, Balm Box, and a hand-written thank you note. The whole package definitely put me in a lighter mood after a long day at work. And I have just the thing to wear with the I Heart Snow Cones Necklace - an Icee tee from the bf! Look for it in an upcoming "photo shoot." :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 145

I managed to finish most of the sunflower tote today. I added orange to the flower petals and a brighter green to the centers, giving the whole bag an extra jolt. I need to touch up those few patchy areas of dark blue, but that's about it. I also drew a little more of the Eye See You painting and hope to start adding color tomorrow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Days 143 & 144

Last night and today I finished my painting (I'm thinking about calling it Happy Land), made surprisingly good progress on the custom sunflower tote, and drew my next painting, the Eye See You Garden (you'll probably need to see it in color to appreciate the meaning.) I've abandoned the Technicolor rose because it's pretty awful. That's all for now.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 142

I finished the first coat of my painting tonight, then started the first coat of another. I'm really excited about this first one; I know that a second coat and black outlining will banish the streakiness and intensify the colors and graphicy feel, taking it to the next level. It's funny; I thought my paintings would be just another version of my totes. Yet while the subject matter has remained similar so far, I've noticed that this painting is more detailed than my totes. With the ideas I have floating around, I think that's a trend that will continue. Then again, this rose is very simple. I was going to paint it red with a rainbow background, but it turned out much bigger than I intended, so all that red would have been overkill. So I thought, why not paint the rose like a rainbow, then do the background white with black leopard? I hope to finish these up this weekend, but it may not be possible because I'll need to switch gears to complete a possible special order tote. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"Even though he was an enemy of mine, I had to admit that what he had accomplished was a brilliant piece of strategy. First, he punched me, then he kicked me, then he punched me again."

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 141: Something Campy

Today, a little color for the first part of coat number one. Because no one likes campy fun more than me. (That's what Justin said on Ugly Betty tonight. He he.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 140: Something Different

Tonight I finally broke out the canvas. That's right; for the first time in a long time I'm painting an actual painting instead of a tote. That said, my themes haven't changed much. If you peer closely, you can just make out some smiling desserts amid the hearts and stars, including one happy little JELL-O mold. I've been wanting to draw a smiling JELL-O mold for some time now. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Some Outfits

As you know, I ask the bf to photograph my outfits from time to time. I haven't done that in a while, up until last week. So here are some of my favorites. Funny, but they seemed more colorful in person . . .

Working the fruit stripe angle.

The top and headband are from my sister. She has great taste, no? And is, as evidenced by all the items from her in this post, very generous.

Playing with some necklace layers here.

Steve Madden clutch, a Christmas gift from Mom. She knows how to hunt down a great bag! Forgot to rotate this picture, and the next one. Oh well.

That pair of studded Candie's pumps I picked up at Kohl's.

An attempt at bolder fashion, in style if not in color.

Close up of my chunky beads and beloved lion pin from H&M.

A trio of bangles in varying shades and materials.

Lace stockings, knee socks, and Mary Janes. I tried wearing the knee socks, well, up to my knees, but it hurt too much. And kind of made me worry about the onset of varicose veins.

One of my lovely XOXO bags, a past Valentine's Day gift from Mom.

Scarf, belt, and stockings courtesy of my sister. Necklace, Tote Trove.

Close up of the fab belt.

One of my circus-esque barrette creations.

Close up of the contrast between my somewhat tribal looking skirt and the tie-dyed tights, the latter of which are Betsey Johnson.

An old favorite -- Tote Trove bracelet, paired with a Wet Seal ring.

Featured Artist: Katiusca Polanco-Guzman of Humanidad

This week’s featured artist is EtsyNJ member Katiusca Polanco-Guzman of Humanidad. Katiusca has a way with fiber, offering hats, scarves, purses, bangles, and more (see some of her lovely items here)! Take a peek in her shop for something to take the chill out of winter.

1. The Tote Trove (TTT): Tell us about the inspiration behind your Etsy shop name, Humanidad.

Katiusca Polanco-Guzman (KPG): The name, Humanidad, which means humanity in Spanish, arose out of the idea that everyone is an inspiration to someone, whether they know it or not. I realized that many of my friends inspired me to make things, whether it was a hat, a scarf based on their favorite colors, or something else, such as a bag based on a need they expressed.

2. TTT: When did you begin knitting, crocheting, and sewing? What is it about the fiber arts that sparks your creativity?

KPG: I began crocheting around the age of 17. I would crochet sporadically throughout college. I started crocheting regularly while in law school. I mostly did it as a stress reliever, but as I made more things I began giving away the items as gifts. After a while, I started getting orders and opened up my own shop on Etsy. I still get many orders from Etsy. I began sewing and knitting about two years ago. I wanted to learn both to challenge myself. However, I mostly began sewing because I wanted to line the crocheted purses I made, and hand sewing wasn't really working for me. My mom, who knows how to sew, has taught me a lot. I decided I would learn to knit after that, mostly for fun and because I like the finished look of the knitted stitches. I took a class at FIT in New York. It was a really great experience. I learned to knit continental style because I'm a crocheter.

3. TTT: How did you decide to turn your passion for creating accessories into a business?

KPG: I turned my passion into a business when I was approached by friends and family to make accessories as gifts.

4. TTT: What is your favorite item in your shop?

KPG: Right now I have two favorite items: the tribal clutch and the knitted neck warmers. I love the neck warmers because they can keep you warm without the extra bulk.

5. TTT: What items, if any, would you like to add to your shop?

KPG: I would like to add more men's items, like beanies and ties. I also want to add mittens and a couple of clutches that I have floating in my head.

6. TTT: Describe your creative process. Do you follow a routine, create when inspiration strikes, or a little bit of both?

KPG: I do a little bit of both. Most of my creative juices flow while I'm at my day job (lawyering) or when I wake up in the morning. If I can, I write down my idea, or draw it out and then go home and try to create it.

7. TTT: What is the best thing about running your own business? The worst?

KPG: I think the best thing about running your own business is that you can make the rules. I also love the creative freedom that I don't have in my day job as a lawyer. The worst thing for me is marketing. I've done craft shows, ads, etc. I'm not a marketing person but I hope to change that and have my shop be more visible.

8. TTT: How did you discover Etsy?

KPG: My friend, who is a visual artist, told me about Etsy a few years ago.

9. TTT: Do you sell your work in venues outside of Etsy (i.e, other sites, craft shows, etc)? If yes, then how does selling online differ from selling in person?

KPG: I've tried to sell my items via other venues. I mostly sell through Etsy or to people who know me. Selling in person is definitely different and takes a lot of personality.

10. TTT: Who is most (emotionally) supportive of your business?

KPG: My husband, my daughter, and my friends. I have a great set of friends who love my work and promote me. My husband and daughter are my number one fans!

11. TTT: Are there any new artistic/creative skills you’d like to learn?

KPG: There are probably a billion out there. I love to make things, create new things, etc. But my current interests lie in learning to make a skirt and a shirt. I’m looking forward to some free flowing clothing for the summer.

12. TTT: Tell us about life outside of Humanidad. Do you have a job in addition to your business? Hobbies? Family? Pets?

KPG: As I mentioned, I'm a full time lawyer. I represent clients who cannot afford to pay for lawyers. I practice consumer law (bankruptcies, foreclosures, etc.). It’s rewarding and challenging work but not as creative as my other endeavors. I have a husband and a daughter. We have no pets, as we just aren't good with them. Also, I'm allergic to dogs and cats and probably anything else furry. I love to organize events, rooms, and other things. I'm into photography and baking and making jewelry for personal use.

13. TTT: What are your hopes for Humanidad in the future?

KPG: My hope in the future is to get my business more exposure. I'm working on marketing my products on and outside of Etsy. I would like to eventually sell items from my own web site. And hopefully quit my day job and pursue my creative desires.

14. TTT: BONUS QUESTION. Just for fun, if you were stranded on a deserted island and had to eat the same thing every day, what would it be? You can pick a drink and a dessert, too. (I find that dreaming up a whole meal makes this game more entertaining!)

KPG: If I were stranded on a deserted island, I would want to have flour. I think flour is so versatile. Because I like to bake and make breads and pizza, it would be perfect to experiment with it and the edible things I could find on an island. I could easily roll it into a ball with some sea water, strike up some branches, and cover it with leaves to bake it. Definitely fun!

Thanks for stopping by to find out more about Katiusca and Humanidad!

We’ll see you back here next week for another illuminating featured artist installment.

Interested in being a featured artist or know someone who would? Then drop me a line at, and I’ll make it happen! :)

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 139: Another Tote Completed

Having off today was a real eye-opener. I was able to finish this Scarlet Fierce Flowers Tote and retag and photograph about a dozen items and upload the new pictures to my Etsy and Artfire shops, all while watching the rest of season two of Flight of the Conchords. My favorite episode was the one where Bret forms a gang and he and Jemaine sing that song about hurt feelings. It was kookily hilarious.

Yesterday my mom and I saw It's Complicated. It was one of the best movies that both of us have seen in a long time, probably because it had that mix of funny and poignant. Also, it avoided being a big cliché although it would have been easy to go there. As for Alec Baldwin, he was disturbing, as always. When did he morph from "a Baldwin" into a crazy old man?! I mean, I know he's been that way for awhile now (hey, I watch 30 Rock) but pinpointing the time of the transformation eludes me. But John Krasinski's part was a nice bonus (I heart The Office. And nerds.)

In the middle of typing this I accidentally pushed some combination of buttons that resulted in a font change. Even after scrolling through the font list, I have no idea which one I was using before. So I apologize for the inconsistency. The crazy thing is, now I see the actual italics where appropriate instead of code. Same with the pictures. Did I just prompt an upgrade?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 138: Roses Aflame

I'm back on track with more fierce flowers. I heard somewhere recently that "fierce" is outdated. I don't really care but just thought it was interesting.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Make and Tell Challenge, Day 137: A Productive Day at the Trove

Fridays are tough. That's why I conked out last night without completing a challenge. I did, however, manage to watch All About Steve and finish Nicholas Sparks's The Last Song. The movie had a weird plot, but I enjoyed Bullock's quirky character. As for the book, it was vintage Sparks, which is to say it was sad. It's coming out as a movie this spring, with Miley Cyrus playing the lead. In the book, this girl is a purple-haired concert tee shirt wearing rebel. But I guess they wanted to standardize her for Hollywood purposes. Oh well.

So, today. I parked myself at my work station (the very messy living room) and finished painting all three of my wine bags. They're alive with in-your-face color, so mission accomplished. Not being a wine drinker myself, I'm wondering what else can be put in them. I'll have to ponder that.

Next up, more large totes. And maybe . . . wait for it . . . a painting.

All About Clothes

A peek into my wardrobe. Frighteningly enough, this isn't all of it . . .

Every now and then I stumble upon someone who pushes the fashion envelope even further than I do, making my little Technicolor heart swell with pride. Katie of the blog "What Katie Wore" is one such fearless fashionista. During 2009, she wore a different (and may I add inspiring) outfit every day. Her boyfriend took the pictures and wrote the blog (what would we girls do without our bfs?). For the past week he's been posting pictures of their readers in - what else? - their favorite outfits. I'm honored to report that I was included, decked out in my Tote Trove finest. Check it out here (the pictures are in alphabetical order according to name):

Looking at Katie's and the readers' outfits got me thinking about all the fictional characters who've rocked fierce fashion in recent years. Here are a few (in no particular order) who would shine on a blog like Katie's:

Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City
Fran Fine, The Nanny
Betty Saurez, Ugly Betty
Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
Rebecca Bloomwood, Confessions of a Shopaholic
Romy & Michelle (Who cares about their last names?), Romy and Michele's High School Reunion