New to my Etsy Shop: Beachy Photographs. Also I ate at a fancy restaurant.

Sometimes, covered in bottle caps, I forget that I’m actually a photographer.  It’s refreshing to dive in to the archives and see what might look nice in my shop display:

Mussels and Seaweed - Click to View Listing

Washing Ashore - Click to View Listing

Lighthouse. Dirty (Negative). Click to View Listing

All these were taken about a year ago at Preble Light in South Portland, ME.  My friend, Kendyll and I went driving around looking for a place to shoot pretty photographs of her.  There was a rainstorm during our drive and we were like “Aw, crap,” because no one particularly wanted to get wet (although in retrospect:  good photo op).  But then the skies parted, the sun shone through the mist and all the photographs came out with this vintage-y light and soft, smooth lines.  Too bad my negatives were so dirty… but I think it adds to them.  Some more will be going up tomorrow, along with some fireworks pictures from Boston and some other random ones I found.

Click on this picture to vote for the Maine Team 4th of July Challenge

In other news:  the Maine Team 4th of July Challenge is officially up and voting goes through July 3rd.  Visit the Facebook album here and “like” your favorite listing.  I’d implore you to vote for Mollie and my’s aluminum star earring and necklace set, but in the spirit of the birthday of democracy I just urge you to vote whichever one you like the best.

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Also — tonight we ate at the Salt Exchange, because our LivingSocial deal was up.  Hmm.  The food is so freaking good that it’s a shame the front of house isn’t as well trained as the back of the house.  I’m not in to trashing restaurants that I eat at because I’m generally a ‘glass half full’ kind of girl so I will start off by saying that the 4 dishes we split were just about the most well constructed flavor parties I’ve tasted ’round these parts, and this girl’s even been to Fore Street.  The proportions are perfect and you really don’t need to eat that much to feel satisfied (we were fine splitting four dishes).

Only problem is I’ve got handfuls of years of front of house restaurant experience under my belt, and I have a problem not projecting ‘what I would do’ when I see someone making service mistakes.  We kept on hearing the hostess tell people that she would seat them as soon as she can, that she was just waiting for menus to come back.  Now, I get this — because sometimes that is what it is but it doesn’t make sense to your average diner.  They think to themselves “Oh, well we can just sit down and get our menus after,” or, worse — she suggests you sit at the open seats at the bar and there are two menus right on the counter when you get there … just too much information.  Less is more.  “Your reservation was for 6:15, I will seat you as soon as I can.”  (We were there early).  Serious lag between our ‘1st course’ (first 2 dishes we ordered) and ‘2nd course’ kind of truncated the delicious mouth and tummy experience.  Because the portions aren’t huge it’s really easy to move from course to course pretty quickly, so when you’re caught waiting 20+ minutes between salad/mussels and pork/seafood the stomach starts to grumble again.  Same thing when we were finished with 2nd course – the check came right away but we waited for a good while (at least 5 passes of the server by our table) with the check hanging off the table with my card right in sight.  We opted to switch it out for cash and took off after we decided we just couldn’t wait any longer.

So about the food!  So excellent.  J. and I decided that Salt Exchange is probably best if you’re going out for drinks and want ‘a snack’ because the $8 Mussels is pretty excellent.  9 mussels plus some bread, pork and onion was really flavorful and totally worth our money.  I didn’t see the dessert menu (if they have one) but it’d also be really nice to sit at the bar, split a dessert and have some coffees.  The caesar salad was great, and pretty good portions considering they ‘warn you’ ahead of time about ‘small plates’ and how that means you should order ‘3-4 per guest.’  Uhh… they must be making that recommendation based on the average American’s consumption at meal time, cause we were totally find with the 4 total that we picked.

Mmm pork tenderloin was our main course and we had a crab crostini to pair with it.  It had the best damn lime reduction…sauce…uhh… ever to dip the crab in.  And here we are, hours later at 10pm and I am still content.

So, there it is – trying something new.  Not that I’m snitty about my food at all – generally speaking we are most frequently diners at Rosie’s, Ruski’s, Hi Bombay!, Sengthai and Marcy’s.  But it’s nice to dress it up a little every now and again…

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This Will Be Mine

Anne Klein Bikini - Rowr!

After much deliberation and some serious soul-searching, this is my new summer bathing suit.  Woo hoo!  Won it for a great price at an online auction and it’s on its way to me in the mail as. we. speak.  The trick will be looking as toned/emaciated as that armless mannequin.  “Puffy days” will be happy to know I have a handful of one-piece, full coverage maillots to ensure greatest beach happiness levels.  Ok rain, go away now!

All The Things You’ve Never Done

That’s Joan, and that video is of one of your favorite Material Objects ladies jumping out of a plane and hurtling to the Earth.  Although I personally have no desire to ever do this (active imagination, unfailing ‘bad luck’ in high places, poor bladder control, general distrust of jumpsuits…) the wheels got to turnin’ about all the things I’ve never done.

It’s probably more constructive to talk about the things I HAVE done, seeing as the possibilities of things to do on the turning ball are ‘endless,’ or, at least multitudinous.  Our country, and now more than ever our world, places a pretty huge emphasis on ‘things.’   Gotta have ‘things.’  I’m not innocent of this either — one look at our attic and the ratio of piles of crap to actual, usable goods is unsettlingly high.  Whenever I go to ‘get rid of some things’ it ends up being this distracting process of box-and-bag filling without actually getting anywhere.  Sometimes I think picking out the things I WANT and then donating/selling/gifting the rest would be the better, more minimalist approach.  It’d be downright cathartic.

Back to Joan and the airplane and the skydiving.  So — all things things I’ve never done, that I would want to:

1.  Pick up and GO.  Hmm, probably would not actually ever happen for any longer than two weeks, tops.  I like work and I normally use my vacation days on making normal, boring 2-day weekends in to fantastic, ethereal 3-day weekends.  But a vacation with a tank full of gas or a wallet full of $$ for plane/train/bus tickets and no real agenda would be amazing.

2.  Play in a loud band.  One thing I’m really excited about is that I learn things quickly.  It takes about 10-12 ‘tries’ at something then I can be really, really good at it.  No hubris here, just observation over the years has led me to understand I can learn scripts, musical instruments, songs, puzzles, physical feats, etc. pretty easily.  Everything is practice.  Mental note to self to remember that.  So yeah, I’ve only ever been kind of a quiet girl with a nylon string guitar but I just bought this drum set and I’ve got guitars up the wazoo.  One day, this will happen.  I need more time, then it will happen.

3.  Go to France.  How is it that I made it all the way to China at age 15 but can’t manage to order a passport and fly to France since then?  Loser.  Soon, soon, maybe when I get rid of (sell) all my crap I can afford those things!

4.  Be a Mama.  Not too soon, now, but one day – seems like something I’d be really good at … although it’ll probably take more than 10-12 tries.  Not 10-12 kids, 10-12 tries at discipline, lesson-teaching, story reading, patience having, etc. etc.

I’m drawing a blank now on all the things I’d like to do.  Which is good, I guess, because it means that I’m pretty satisfied where I’m at.  It also means the things we like or want to do change from when we’re 7, 17, 27 or beyond.  And all those events and experience that make up your world view help inform your understanding of other people from all walks of life.

In my ‘entry level position’ years (which I’m not past, by the way, just because I’m working in my field) I firmly believed that one must make a stab at every menial job there is.  I was a cashier at a grocery store, an ice cream girl, a movie theater concessions girl, theater cleaner, waitress, host, bartender, restaurant manager… hell, I even did piece work.  So now when I go about the world I know how to treat everyone, because I’ve been where a lot of them are or have been themselves.  Nothing gets me more riled than seeing a diner disrespect a waitress: NOTHING.

This was a little rambly.  You’ll have to excuse me, my sinuses are backed up to Augusta and it’s about an hour past a sick girl’s bedtime.  Hope you like the video of Joan falling safely back to Earth and getting to check one last thing off her list!

So… tired…

Something’s up this week.  I had a great burst of energy, some new exciting opportunities and payments, and then boom.  Ton of bricks.  I have been so freaking sleepy for the last week!

I suppose it started two weeks ago, when I started a pretty impressive streak of sleeping in past my alarm 5 days in a row, Monday through Friday, even showing up late LATE to work on Friday (which is fine, because I work an hour earlier than everyone anyways… no big deal).

I think it was when the 5-day-streak ran over in to this week I started to notice it.  Now accompanied with vivid morning dreams starring close friends doing very reasonable, non-dreamlike things, oh goody, goody.

The morning would go like this:

1.  Buzzer!  2.  Snooze.  3.  Transcendental plane of awareness where reality and dreams become one.  4.  Enter:  vivid dream, part 1.  5.  Buzzer, again!  6.  Snooze, again.  (It should be noted I have no recollection of either snoozings) 7.  Vivid dream, part 2, featuring close friends, celebrities, and my childhood home.  8.  Buzzer, snooze.  9.  Dream drags on, gets boring, 10.  Naturally awake about 30-60 minutes too late 11.  Bust out of bed and run through the house collecting clothes, money, necessary items 12.  Throw food at/on/around cat dishes or cats themselves 13. sail down the stairs, 14. jump in car, judge whether I have time enough to stop for a coffee, 15.  All of a sudden remember weird dream and break down laughing/in tears/speechlessness, etc.

And if that wasn’t good enough, just two or three days ago I’ve started some extended post-work naps that leave me cranky and hungry, having slept through dinner time.

Then, today at work in a particularly exhausted moment I contemplated a ‘cat nap’ on the toilet in the tiny stall in the bathroom so I could rest my eyes ‘just for a minute.’  Thank goodness that horrible thought process was interrupted by another lady coming in the bathroom, jolting me out of my narcoleptic fantasy, and prompting me to zip up and get the hell out of there.  Because, knowing me, even if I did manage to take a snoozer on the john at work I’d probably end up tossing and turning and fall head first against the linoleum with my pants around my ankles (still sleeping).

The funny thing is, I haven’t been doing anything different.  No more or less exercise, no more or less shitty or really good food, no more or less alcohol, no more or less evening obligations.

I’ve resolved that I’m probably internally exhausted, leftover residue from months and months of plugging away at independent business, wholesale orders, product development, etc. etc.  Gotta fill up the cup, as they say, so tomorrow I’ll be doing a little of that via relaxation/meditation/energy techniques at a class my dad’s teaching.  I’ll do a little more of it on Sunday by rewarding myself with not making any plans and just doing what feels right at the time.  It could be going to the beach, going on a hike, cleaning the bathroom, planting my succulents, making meatballs — whatever.  Different things feel good at different times.  But right now… 8pm on a Friday night… a little snoozer sounds pretty good!

Strength in Numbers: A 4th of July Collaboration with Mollie Ann from Rough Magic Creations

Eureka!  This week has the important distinction of being the week I finished a collaboration with another talented crafter, Mollie Ann, of Rough Magic Creations.  It all began when the Etsy Maine Team came up with a 4th of July Team Challenge, to create (by yourself or with a partner) a holiday-themed piece for Independence Day.  Being the enormous fan of red, white and blue that I am (my photo background has been only that, lately!) I was super psyched.

I got in touch with Mollie, knowing that she was way more talented with metal than me.  I’ve been thinking for a long time about branching out of the bottle cap bezel world, and this was a great first opportunity.  Mollie and I put our heads together to make a star-shaped earring and pendant with a circular bezel hammered right in the center.  Here is our initial sketch:

And by 'sketch,' I mean image of a star I copied and drew elements on!

From there, we agreed that sheet aluminum would have the right color we were looking for (Mollie usually uses copper, but the silver color and price point of aluminum worked well with our design) so she ordered it and I waited with much anticipation to receive my new bezels in the mail!

Empty Bezels, Waiting for their stars + stripes

Finally (okay, I say ‘finally’ but it was so fast, like a day later!  I was just like an excited kid on Christmas morning) I received the lovely pieces (pictured above) in the mail, ripe for the epoxy-ing!  After cutting some custom size circles, gluing and mixing epoxy Mollie and I were the proud parents of the pieces you see below:

Stars and Stripes Earrings, $26 on Etsy

Stars and Stripes Pendant (You pick stars or stripes) $24 on Etsy

Stars and Stripes Earrings and Pendant Set, $48 on Etsy

Mollie and I are so pleased at how these turned out!  The photo prototypes are our ‘rough drafts’ so we’ve made some changes, including making the bezels deeper so that the epoxy doesn’t bleed around the edges of the circle … which you can kind of see in the picture but won’t be an issue on any further runs of the sets.  If you’re interested in ordering a pair of earrings, a necklace, or a set of earrings and a necklace please know you can specify what combination of stars and stripes you’d like!  Order from either Mollie or I in our Etsy shops (you can click on the images to link to the listings) and let us know what you’d like!  We can also do the stars with totally different images, not just stars and stripes.  🙂  The stars and stripe sets are made of lightweight charms with a nickel ball chain for the necklaces and sterling silver ear wires for those of us with sensitive ears!

All orders received by June 22nd should be shipped to you in time for the 4th of July.

Tabouleh. Spring.

I woke up today with the most intense craving for tabouleh.  It’s fresh, it’s bright green, and the little tomato bits explode when you chew them.

All of my friends like punk rock.  I do, too, I like my music loud, but I also like my world lofty.  Secretly, secretly I put on Leonard Cohen before putting out the parsley, lemon, couscous, cucumbers, tomato, more.  The windows are open on this gray, late Spring day and our neighbor’s house is swarmed with working men, replacing insulation.

Their hammers bang against the siding while the french knife chops the parsley.  Slicing through the onions, they saw through wood outside.  It’s a misty sunset, and I think it’s over the top that this time the onions did make me cry.

Cohen is a poet before a songwriter, and a songwriter before being a man he’s so good at it all.

I take extra long to make dinner tonight, drag it out an hour, and we’ve got tabouleh Hotchkiss style, homemade hummous and toasted bread.  Mm mm, late Spring.