Two girls. Two plus years of friendship.

One store devoted to making life a little more bearable.

Monday, November 19, 2007

E.A.S.T. is Eden

The East Austin Studio Tour or EAST took place this weekend and it was fabulous. (Yay Austin!) I thought that nothing could top STITCH last weekend, but EAST is a horse of a different color.

First of all, it is organized so that you can wander through neighborhoods in East Austin and peek into more than 70 different working artists' studios. They work in every medium you can imagine. They are organized. They are messy. They work on scrap paper. They tear whole sheets. They are funny. They are deadly serious. They are artists.

Of course, STITCH had artists too. In fact, I saw these slip cast ceramic cups (in an alluring rainbow of colors) at both events. But I think the thinkg about EAST that is fascinating is that you get to see the work and the artist in its natural habitat, that is the studio. There are no booths or tables neatly wrapped in brightly coordinated tablecloths. EAST is not a fair or a shopping experience. It has the grit of plaster and sawdust. It tastes like charcoal and oil. It smells like sweat.

In a city that is "divided" by geography (and economics and the color of skin and a sense of culture), it felt radical to walk the neighborhood and wave at everyone we met. In a country "divided" by so called culture wars, it felt radical to celebrate art while drinking beer in lawn chairs. EAST was just a little bit of heaven on earth.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

S*T*I*T*C*Hin Good Time

This weekend (yes, I know it is Wednesday. yes, life is occasionally a little overwhelming.) I attended the Stitch Austin Guerilla Craft Bazaar at the Austin Convention Center.

Like lots of people I know--well, lots of etsy people--I am trying to complete a large part of my holiday shopping by buying from independent artists and sellers. Like lots of etsy people I know, I have been trying to talk up this plan with friends and family who are yet to catch on to the handmade revolution.

Stitch was heaven for an independently minded buyer.

Not only was I able to procure a He-Man necktie for Katie's brother (will definitely post pics if ever i get my hands on any), but I was also G*I*V*E*N TWO awesome bumper stickers, one for me and one for Katie, that said:

Don't blame me, I voted for Etsy and My handknit sweater is an honor student at

I have a very well loved car that is currently completely free of embellishments. I think that one of these is an appropriate first. I will pass the second one along to someone else who loves etsy--and drives all over town.

Another highlight was when I met Fort Cloudy in person.

Well, actually, I swung by her booth, told my husband, "Oh my god, that is Fort Cloudy. I recognize her from the etsy forums," hid behind him like a I was that a kid who is both scared and excited to see the cool babysitter coming, and finally browsed her racks. He had a nice conversation with her about her participation in Stitch and other craft bazaars.

Fort Cloudy had a wonderful assortment of garments for grown ups and little people. I particularly liked the bibs for babies with an imagination. Fort Cloudy has the ability to create an image that is almost cliche--and then completely upend one's expectations. The perfect example is the mer-bunny on the bag pictured. As Fort Cloudy says in the listing, "Don't let his fangs scar you. He's swimming his way right out of the seaweed bed and into our hearts."

The whimsical embroidery was refreshing after seeing lots of (admittedly amazing) silkscreened tees. The He-man tie had totally depleted my budget for the evening, but I have a feeling that I will be back by the etsy store sometime soon to complete my Christmas shopping.

Rarely does my husband express interest in a piece of clothing. When he does, I have to seize on it--and seize on the chance to replace any one of the holey (or is it holy?) t-shirts that he has been wearing since he was 12. Just kidding. Of course, I can't get rid of these treasures.

I guess I will just have to learn to S*T*I*T*C*H.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Quickie...

Players: A young man and woman. They are married.

The Scene: a family room filled with "well-loved" furniture. The whole room has a broken-down, lived-in look. The girl inspects a package that has just arrived. She opens the outter box.

Girl: (Gasping). I think that this box is from Tiffany's.

Boy: Really? Who sent it?

Girl: (reading a small card) It's a belated wedding gift from K----.

Boy: Well, that's nice.

Girl: (holding the signature blue box up, marvelling) Seriously, I don't know that I have ever seen anything from Tiffany's in real life. Not ever.

Boy: (shrugging) Well, I guess I better put this frito bag down before I touch it, huh?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Confessions of a Methodist Princess

Things at Love and Squalor Designs are changing dramatically.

(It is okay to gasp.)

For nearly three years, Katie and I have worked together (some of the time in a tiny cubby hole that we shared with three other people) and it has been an experience full of love--and squalor too.

It was not "love at first sight" if you will. (Not like the other person I am married to, see post below) In fact, I was terrified of Katie for the first several weeks that we worked together. I avoided her and even went out of my way to schedule my lunchtime so that we would never happen to run into each other in the cafeteria and feel compelled to sit together. (I am a nice person, really. See additional post below about possible anxiety disorder.)

Like a scene stolen from a great chic flick, I found myself trapped at a lunch table with her and to my great surprise, I found one of the great soul mates of my life. We work long hours together. In fact, at the end of one 80 hour week she did say, "I have absolutely nothing left to tell you about. You are caught up on my whole life. I have to have a chance to go out and live a little bit more, just so we have something to talk about again." She laughs at the same stuff--actually, she's much funnier than I am. Maybe most importantly, she cries about the same things. Her heart breaks over the same tragedies. And she has been the best kind of friend.

Last week, I left our shared workplace.

I will be working for the United Methodist Church. I'm a double preacher's kid with a sister who is applying to seminary too. Richard calls the church "the family business" and likes to say that I'm a Methodist princess instead of the Mafia type. Starting this new job is a wonderful opportunity for me.

Also it has a kick-a** title--Director of Congregational Excellence. Doesn't that sound a tiny bit like a euphamism for the inquisition?

To celebrate my new role, I bought myself some beautiful notecards from Natural Historie.

They feature two gothic spires and a rose cathedral--the likes of which Richard Wilbur wrote about when, in his poem For C, he described consolation as, "'A Passion joined to courtesy and art, which has the quality of something made, like a good fiddle, like the rose's scent, like a rose window or the firmament."

The masters who built cathedrals used stained glass to tell the wonderful, mysterious stories of their faith. They built those gothic spires to show the world their passion and their skill. In the detail of their art, they captured something celestial here on earth.

Personally, I think everything in Natural Historie (and its companion blog, A Field Journal) is pretty heavenly too.

As for my confessions, here they are:

  • I hate pot luck dinners. I can't stomach any kind of mayonaise salad. I'm not even in love with fried chicken. This is difficult because Methodists love pot luck dinners. The more mayonaise salad, the better.
  • When I was a kid, my sister and I always fought on our way to church. Often, we still do.
  • My dad always asks my opinion about his sermons. Then he tells me why I am wrong. It's our Sunday tradition.
  • I am really glad to be leaving my old job.
  • I am really sad that I don't see Katie every day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

At First Sight

The following ad appeared in the most recent edition of the "shot in the dark" section of the fabulous Austin Chronicle :

Library Help?

@ Pinnacle campus, you were tall slender

with english accent in library.

Had trouble finding a book.

I was studying by the window.

We met eyes before U caught the lift.

Fancy a coffee sometime?
You: man. Me: Woman.


I happen to know a tall, slender English guy who studies at the Pinnacle Campus for his teaching certificate. He was at the library on the date in question. And here is the clincher...he often has trouble finding things!

Now, some women might be threatened by the fact that their husbands were just "called out" in a personals column. Some women might worry. But not me. I ooze self confidence.

And I *also* happen to know that my husband has never fancied a cup of coffee in his whole life.

Seriously, though, I know that Richard wasn't making eyes at this poor girl. And I do feel for her. In fact, I know exacty how she feels.

When I met my husband, I knew immediately that I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. He stood in a doorway, wearing jeans and a yellow t-shirt. He was indeed tall and slender with a beautiful accent. I loved him at first sight.

I spent this morning thinking a little about the woman who saw my husband and liked him enough to write a shot in the dark ad. I spent the morning thinking (and shopping) with love at first sight in mind.
I found this pair of hedgehog hair clips at Meeting Street Designs. Their names are Harry and Heidi and it was love at first sight--according to their maker.

I love Heidi's lipstick and flowery hair bow--or is it quill bow? As my sister and I often quote, "a lady needs a few things." Even a lady hedgehog. I think that any little lady would be lucky to own these darling hair clips.
Next, I ran across Annie and Olive, an adorable shop with an adorable name. I love everything in this store, but particularly liked the idea of the Surprise Heart listing. Annie and Olive list a number of small heart pendants, some in pretty paisleys and others in bright corduroy. Purchase this listing and Annie and Olive will send you a heart in a surprise style.

I just love this idea. On one hand, it is such a romantic notion--the surprise of a unique gift sent just for you, a small heart winging its way from another part of the world. On the other, it seems quite practical. Anyone who has loved another person knows that each heart is full of surprises.

Even married people find something new in each other sometimes.

When I read the ad seeking Richard out to him, he hugged me and said: "Me: man. You: woman in my arms. Fancy a life together?"

I met him and it was love at first sight. I followed him across Western Europe to win his heart. Now, that we're married I know that I would go to the ends of the earth. And so would he.