August 29, 2008

Labor Day Blues

Labor Day weekend.

Having a 3 days off is normally a great thing, but this year's Labor Day weekend sort of filled me with dread. For me (and many other people, I'm sure) this weekend was the demarcation line between summer and the start of the school year.

I work in the office at a school. Technically I've been "back" to work at my normal job for the last two weeks (admin staff has to be back two weeks before the teachers return). Teachers come back this week and start meeting with parents and kids. That means my office will be thrown into utter noise and chaos all over again. And for me, this also means that the evening classes that I've been taking to work towards my graphic design degree also start again this week.


I'll be working full time plus taking two classes (and starting the long commute to school again). I took one class during spring semester, but I took two last fall semester and haven't forgotten what it was like. I had no life to speak of at all and the stress levels were enormous. Be prepared to hear about it a lot on this blog, since it consumes my life once I'm in the middle of it.

Speaking of school - my teacher from last semester never returned our projects this spite of me showing up in person to the school and then e-mailing him. Can you believe it??? I had something like 300-plus artist business cards that I collected for my final project and several other good pieces. I hope I run into him in the halls this semester. )o:<

Anyway, I have two days before the hammer falls and I start classes again. My goal is to be entirely organized by then. Since I started earlier this summer, I'm already well on my way there. I even accomplished my goal of painting the living room and dining room this weekend. Woo-hoo!

Anyone else have a crazy year that's about to start up post-Labor Day?

August 28, 2008

Children's books from around the world

Ok, so maybe not around the whole world. Let's say...maybe...two countries.

I love children's books. I mean, it's obvious, right? I'm a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and I'm sure you've all seen my work by now. If not, just look to the right and click on my Etsy shop there.

Anyway, the only things keeping me from buying a ridiculous pile of illustrated children's books and dragging them home are 1) I have no room. I already have bookshelves stuffed with my "grown-up" literature and 2) I have no kids. I suppose #2 doesn't matter that much, but it's nice to have an excuse to be lurking in the children's book section. Just wait until my niece or nephew is born in the spring. With an aunt like me, that kid better like to read!

I've visited about 8 European countries now. I love buying books and music from places I visit. But up until this past trip, it never occurred to me to buy children's literature while I was traveling. I found it difficult to forget about children's books in England however, especially when there's Paddington Bear memorabilia everywhere you go. I saw some stuffed Paddington bears at the Tower of London. Seriously. Beheading, the Crowned Jewels, and Paddington Bear.

I know you can buy Paddington books in the States, but I caved and bought one in London (probably for twice the price). How could I resist clutching a newly-purchased Paddington bear book under my arm - especially when I'd just been standing in Paddington Station?
The next book I bought was in Norway. Luckily for me, they had an edition printed in English (that's what the British flag in the corner of the book means). I probably would've bought a copy even if it was in Norwegian.
Norway (and most of Scandinavia, actually) loves their trolls. And really, fairy tales felt intrinsic to the Norwegian landscape. There were all these evergreen trees and little mustard-colored houses springing up on rocky shores. I believed there just might be trolls in the mountains. Or a witch in the woods who lived in a house made of gingerbread and candy.

I'm now wondering what great little children's books I missed in Italy, France, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, etc...

Anyone else hoard children's books? What are your favorites?

August 27, 2008

The Museum of Bad Art

I spend a lot of time on here talking about really wonderful artists, illustrators, and craftspeople. Sometimes, to better define a thing, you must take a look at its opposite. And by this, I mean bad art. Ahem. Take, for example:

Acrylic on canvas by Sarah Irani, 1995
Donated by the artist

"The flesh tones bring to mind the top shelf liqueurs of a border bistro. With an astonishing emphasis on facial bone structure, the artist flirts with caricature and captures features of Mamma's face which remind us of a Presidential candidate. The upright marionettish pose of the babe hints that the early bond between mother and child is as formal as it is familiar. Good old fashioned parental respect is at the center of this celebration of color and contour." -MOBA

Both the painting and the review above are from The Museum of Bad Art.

Yes. Oh yes, The Museum of Bad Art (otherwise known as MOBA) is a real place. It's located in the basement of the Dedham Community Theater in Dedham, MA. I've been dying to go for years, but still haven't made the trip. If you live nowhere near MA, you can visit them online. There are samples of the collection, information about the museum, and even an online shop. You can even buy their Museum of Bad Art coffee table book which (you better believe) is going on my Christmas list this year.

Often times, what is "good art" can be totally subjective. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and all of that. You might ask - by those standards, how can one can even define bad art? I have a handy tool for you. The Museum of Bad Art's submission guidelines are a good start. They read as follows:

All submitted work must be original works of art (no reproductions). The pieces that we look for would never hang in a museum or commercial gallery, yet they have some quality that draws you to them -- or perhaps grabs you by the throat and won't let go. As a rule we do not accept:

•Works painted on velvet
•Any of the well known kitschy motifs (dogs playing cards, big eyed kids and all that) unless they break new ground in a startling way.

Much of the works in the museum have been found on the side of the road next to trash bins, discovered in flea markets, inherited with a house, or donated directly by the proud bad artists themselves. The museum reviews and "critiques" each work almost like a classical museum would. The only difference being the outcome is hilarious.

If you get offended at people poking fun at well-intentioned (albeit completely unskilled) art, I suggest you don't visit the site. However, for those a bit more lighthearted, go take a peek. You wind up kind of loving each painting for it's badness. I know it always gives me a smile. Enjoy!

August 26, 2008

Hi, my name is Honeydew...

...and I'm an Etsy addict.

It's no secret that I tend to buy more things from Etsy than I sell. It feels like the ratio is 10:1 most of the time, and that especially goes for this month! I've been on a handmade-item shopping spree, no doubt. Most of it is valid (I had a baby shower gifts to buy! etc) But some of it was simply my own "must-haves". I figured I share my purchases with you today.

My slew of recent Etsy purchases started off innocently enough. My sister and brother-in-law are already planning out their giant Halloween bash. Halloween is my most favorite holiday. There's no pressure to buy anyone gifts, you get to dress up funny, and there's excessive amounts of candy involved. Really, what's there not to love? Their party theme this year is "'80s Prom". Since you can never be too prepared, I've already found (and nabbed) my ensemble - all thanks to Etsy Vintage. Take a look at this purple dress from Iron Horse Vintage and tell me it doesn't take you back to the days of big hair and Pretty In Pink:
I am going to rock that dress. Eat your heart out, Molly Ringwald. If anyone has a suggestion for '80s outfits for my husband, please send me a link or leave me a comment! As a funny aside - I actually saw this exact dress in an '80s flashback moment during the movie Bam Bam and Celeste. I had just received the dress in the mail, and it was sitting on the couch next to me during the movie. Freaky!

Moving on...

The next Etsy purchase was entirely necessary. I had a baby shower to attend this past Saturday. I'm friends with both the mommy and daddy-to-be. They have decided not to find out what the sex of the baby is until the day Baby M actually arrives in this world. This lead me on a quest for unisex onesies. Daddy-to-be is the lead singer in a local cover perfect is this little onesie from Fun 2 Wear 2 ? Entirely appropriate and way too cute:

I also found this onesie in Fun 2 Wear 2's shop. It cracked me up, so of course I had to buy it too:This month I've been on a mission to have my house absolutely perfect before I start night classes again on September 4. I don't want the stress of working full time, homework, school, and my commute to be added to the stress of an unorganized, unfinished home. This has meant fixing things we've been putting off fixing, patching things that need patching, painting things that need painting, and generally a whole lotta extreme cleaning. (I got down with a toothbrush to clean, folks. I honestly did.) Anyway, one of the things I'm doing is painting and decorating my living room. We had plans to do this when we moved in three years ago. It just never happened. I was browsing through Etsy for decor items I could add to the soon-to-be-newly-painted walls when I came across this gorgeousness from Copper Leaf Studios:

They are even more lovely in person, let me tell you! I can't wait to hang them. I just need to get the walls finished first.

And last but not least, there's the much-needed purchases I made for Baxter McPrickles, my hedgehog. It was Baxter's birthday this month on the 20th. He turned 3 years old. The poor little guy has not been having an easy time, however. Even though we are very attentive hedgie parents, he somehow managed to get his first (and hopefully only) case of mites. I suspect it may have been from when we left on vacation, and he stayed with a friend who has two little dogs. Either that or they came in from outside since we sometimes leave the door open near his cage when it's warm. In any case, his skin is flaking off and (much to my absolute horror) his quills have been falling out. He has an appointment with the vet today, which I'm sure he won't be happy about. I'm going to toss out many of the items from his cage, including the felt blanket he likes to sleep underneath. Instead, I bought him two new sleeping bags from ellencho. He won't get to use them until he is all medicated and healing, but they've arrived and are waiting for him. Here's the winter sleeping bag:

And here's the summer one. (I picked the pattern purely because I knew my husband would love it, and it would get a laugh.)
Ellen is the only person I've been able to find who makes these. Our breeder gave us a critter sleeping bag when she sent baby Baxter home with us, but that one has been loved to bits. I was so happy to find Ellen's shop on Etsy. There's nothing a hedgehog loves more than snuggling under cozy layers in his house. Happy birthday, Baxter!

Hopefully that'll be the end of my crazy Etsy shopping for a least until Christmas! (o;