fall is here, plus big chill applications



Fall’s here, which means excellent things for all of us who live in the north eastern United States.  Namely, pumpkin, apple and cinnamon everything plus an unnaturally high enthusiasm for hurling one’s self at the front lawn at even the smallest of leaf piles.  We’ll need to wait a few weeks before there’s no risk of sciatic damage, but once there’s a big enough leaf pillow in the yard it is party time.

IMG_0673Plus, there I am sitting in an apple tree.  Never too big for that.

In other news, applications have been posted for the 2013 Big Chill craft fair.  My baby!  This is the 5th event I’ve organized at Mayo Street Arts and we’ve got big, big plans for this one.  DIY crafts for young and young at heart, a whole floor of local vendors and, of course, beer + wine available for shoppers.  Yes, being an adult is awesome.


settle down, you freaks

Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 10.59.15 AM

from weather.com

Storm’s a comin’ in the Northeast, which typically means we stock up on food we don’t have to cook (in case the power goes!) and if the snow starts early enough I get to stay in my pajamas and watch the world get covered in a big, clean blanket of powdery goodness.  Yes, shovels and scrapers are required at some point, but it’s really no big deal.  I actually chose to live in Maine (the second time I moved here) so the apocalyptic, freak-out headline from weather.com made me wonder whether the copywriter for their site lives in a hammock in Hawaii or in a lean-to in the middle of Death Valley.  Because yes, 2-3 feet of snow and high winds would be ‘crippling’ if you lived in those places.  Up here, it’s just kind of inconvenient.  It should say “big, inconvenient blizzard ahead.”

hardy husband

hardy husband

J. and I have been having a little debate in the wake of all this press hype about public shootings.  I lean towards the idea that violence on television and in movies has a cultural effect on Americans, but he thinks the news is even more to blame, because the news is ‘real’ and movies are stories.  I was a little skeptical, but now that the Weather Channel is getting just as hyperbolic as Fox I’m starting to buy the argument.

p.s.  that picture above is from us trudging through unpacked, 18″ snowfall in jeans around New Year’s… he’s in a shallow part in the photo but it was definitely above our knees in parts.  totally worth it, because we got to see the quiet beaver pond where they’re all living this winter.  also, my grandmother followed us as we blazed the trail so she could show us where everything was… i come from hardy stock!


finch in vt in december

So my plan is to enjoy dinner out, hit the grocery store a little later tonight and then try to locate all the lefts and rights of the gloves/mittens in the house to make sure shoveling isn’t hell tomorrow.  Hopefully all the people who were tricked in to being afraid that this blizzard would ‘cripple’ them don’t clean the shelves out of the crackers, goat cheese and red pepper jelly I’m planning on surviving on until the end-of-days passes and we can get back to business…

master of none

photo by derek lobley

photo by derek lobley

Last week our band, Bath Salts, had an awesome show in the basement of this huge house near USM.  I was pretty psyched, because it was the first time I played in front of people when my fingers didn’t feel like they were little shaky sausages (it’s true, that happens).  I’d like to think it’s because we practiced, or that we’ve had a half dozen shows already, or that the basement was filled with really enthusiastic people… but it was probably.. most likely.. the fifth of scotch I’d tucked away in the front pocket of the guitar case before we left.

The whole thing got me thinking about the tremendous amount of extra things I’ve got heaped up on my plate.  If life was a buffet I’d be the dude with the Close-Encounters-of-the-Third-Kind-Potato-Mountain and I wouldn’t stop there.  I’d have mountains of all kinds of food, and keep going back for more.  Ok, metaphor over, since the ‘food’ is actually:  playing in a band, knitting, crafting with bottle caps and photographs, wedding photography, styling, creative photography, blogging, maintaining an etsy shop, maintaining a day job, picking up 5-20 hours a week at a performing arts/community center, promoting shows, experimenting with cooking, etc.

It all sounds pretty enriching when it’s right there in black and white, but the day to day manifestation of it is pretty hectic.  Being a jack of all trades and a master of none can be challenging and exciting, but it can also split your head open and leave a lady really unfulfilled at the end of the day.  I know a lot of crafters, artists and musicians who are like me and can’t seem to stop glomming on to this project or that.  It’s awesome.  The alternative is boring.  But at some point you gotta know when your plate is about to buckle under the weight of all those food mountains.  (Metaphor’s back!)

Lately, the balance has been off.  When I finally get to do the thing I’ve been thinking about all day at work (knitting, finishing up a bottle cap order, going to photograph a rock show… and on and on) I’m not excited.  Sometimes I’m even a little resentful at first, even though I always end up enjoying myself.  What gives?  It could be the inevitable motivation drain we here in the North East experience most every Feb/March.  It could be that I have little time to just be with friends without having to be doing something else at the same time.  Ultimately, it could be that by casting the net wide I’m not actually doing my best at anything and not succeeding as well as I should in any of those things.

All of this is fine when I breathe my way through it.  Fact of the matter is, I feel like I’m a good knitter, a unique photographer, a competent worker, and a ..er.. dedicated musician.  But it’s when I start to think of the list of all the things I’ve got to do, would like to do, am supposed to do, that I get this feeling of being trapped in my skin.  Maybe not quite as big as an anxiety attack, but on its way.

What is all this about, anyways?  Maybe I realized it in my sleep, I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately… or I could have known it all along.  Or more likely it’s that I’ve been reading the lives of contemporaries, via perfectly edited blogs made to look like all of life is the moment food is brought to the table, or when children’s hair catches the light just so, or the last stitch on a month-long project.  And then I look around the living room and there are three unfinished knitting projects draped over the back of the sofa, the coffee table is covered in unwashed tea mugs and cocktail glasses, and the cat, the older one, is hiding in the closet with about half of her fur missing off her back and underside.

This is probably a weird, frustrated extension of my new year’s resolution to simplify.  I think the end result of this diatribe will be to a) more accurately reflect real life as opposed to idealized in this webspace and b) pick one thing (or two or three?) to put on the shelf so my world isn’t so fuzzy and wild.

thanks for listening..

Week in Pictures: Picking Apples a.k.a. Ice Cream & Hiking

We went up to Hiram, ME today as part of a yearly sojourn involving apples and a great view of the Saco River without too much huffing and puffing.  The apples this year are really scary looking, we managed to find almost a full bag of okay ones after about forty five minutes of looking… very strange.  They will all go in to pies and sauce, I guess… life is so hard.  😉  Maybe it was the hot summer.  In any case, we rewarded our search with two enormous ‘turtle sundaes’ from the gift shop at Apple Acres.  It was a lesson in patience, mostly because there is no line and the ladies behind the counter are simultaneously making fudge, cider donuts, milkshakes and ringing people up.  It was also a lesson in patience because I’ve found I’m a very busy and impatient city lady… so maybe it was just normal and I’m obnoxiously efficient.

After spooning my weight in fudge, caramel and ice cream in to my foodhole we headed to Mt. Cutler to climb it.  Good idea!!  A short hike, but the ice cream weight really did me in.  I threw my camera, water and car keys in to my old Bean bag and headed up with J.R.  I didn’t complain out loud nearly as much as I was on the inside, but it was well worth the familiar view.


All Lined Up

“Medicine Bottles” ©2012 Audrey Hotchkiss, Little Eye Designs.

Where have I been, where have I been.  The last post on the Little Eye blog was tellingly dated June 29th which was the last day I think I had time to breathe, reflect, etc.  Here’s what’s up:

Little Eye is all lined up with work for the next two months.  Can you believe it?  Sometimes I’ll stare at the vast collection of bottle caps, in various stages of completion, and think about how originally the whole thing was an experiment as a result of too much drinking.  But now, now we’ve got a wholesaler on the west coast whose customers love our product, a bottle cap wine charm set of 6.  We are still making photo caps with my original photography as well as found images from vintage text books, magazine, airplane escape manuals.  Last year, we bought a screen printing set up and are planning on getting it cranking before Picnic, Portland’s big biannual craft fair so we can have some onesies ready to sell.  Designs coming soon… hint:  harbor seal, airstream trailer.  I want to draw a shark in time for the fair!  We’ll see how time allows.

So in addition to a big ol’ wholesale order we’re trucking away on, we’ve also got plenty of stock to build to maintain our presence at The Merchant Company on Congress St. in Portland, a new shop up north in Bangor (more to come soon!) as well as our Etsy shop.

In addition to all this, I’m trying to shoot more because I tend to forget that if I put my mind to it I can actually take really good photographs.  Heh.  The picture above was taken about a year and a half ago, the last official time I planned out ‘a shoot’ and didn’t just wing it by bringing my camera and a strobe on some kind of family outing in hopes of capturing a good picture of the niece.

This little part of the internet has been sorely lacking, and posts will be coming more frequently for all you voyeurs out there!

Two Weeks in Pictures: 5/16/12

bean boot shaped pick up truck, preferred vehicle of Mainers

Phew phew phew.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks, as illustrated by my lack of sharing ‘a week in pictures’ for two weeks.  Here’s a short update.  #1, working for an icon of Maine certainly has its upsides (as shown above).  You’ll maybe remember these awesome duck boots that I listed in my Etsy shop a few days ago.  Is there anything more comfortable than slipping in to (or climbing behind the wheel of) a Maine hunting shoe?  I don’t think so.

goofiness runs in the family

I’ve rather withdrawn from the world, lately, and am working pretty hard to get back in to it.  It’s especially easy to recharge when I’m hanging out with the littlest goofball, aka my niece, aka such a funny, independent, defiant little three year old.  She’s finally decided to call me by ‘my name’ which is “Chuvvy” (pronounced CH-uh-VEE) which is damn close enough to Audrey but way funnier.  Dad was laughing randomly last weekend and when I stopped him he said it was because he realized I was “Ant Chuvvy” or anchovy, which suits me just fine.  The whole family is one goofy laugh away from the madhouse.

present for moominmother

Of course I was up there, visiting, to deliver this present above which I, of course, forgot on the side table by the door when I left.  Mom is still waiting for her Mother’s Day present but a sneak peek never hurt anyone.  I picked it up at The Big Thaw which was quite fun, despite it being upstaged by a freaking gorgeous day in Southern Maine.

Bath Salts T-Shirts

We worked hard over an infuriatingly simple Yudu machine to make these pretty wonderful Bath Salts t-shirts.  I have them for sale in my Etsy shop for $10.00 if you want one, or if you’d like to hear our music you can visit our Bandcamp page.  We played a show on Saturday night with The Outfits and Nuclear Boots at Bayside Bowl.  It was pretty fun, despite not being able to hear anything I was playing probably due to inexperience because I could have just asked to have my level turned up.  There’s also the surreal feeling post-show that fills you with doubt about your creative adventures, even if friends and non-friends are approaching you and saying ‘wow, awesome!’  Sun was much needed on Sunday (as shown in the previous entry) to repair from a crazy Saturday full of craft fairs and on-stage exhibition.

J. Crew Dress, beautiful white seersucker

I also when ‘thrifting’ on Sunday and got very thrifty, indeed, when I found this J.Crew sun dress with its original tags.  It’s on sale in my Ebay store now, and the bidding is at $6.50 currently.  There’s nothing more rejuvenating than finding a good deal and passing it on to those who it might fit a little better (certain parts of me refuse to fit in to a 6 anymore.  Pshaw.)  It’s white seersucker, which let me just say, it’s probably my favorite fabric as of late.  The lining is 100% cotton, too, and the whole thing is a flowy, airy piece that I wish I could squish my gazongas in to but oh well, right?  Better not force a good thing.

Truncated, brief two weeks in pictures – but better than nothing.  Yeah!


little feet

This weekend was long… and stressful, if you get right down to it.  Recharged on Sunday sitting on the front lawn with K. and soaking up some vitamin D.  Despite her penchant for throwing toys, food, and anything else she gets her hands on on the floor (then walking away) she’s the best de-stressor.  Let’s sit in the grass and take pictures of our feet all. day. long.

Did you seriously just?

It’s altogether totally inappropriate for a proper cat to do the following:

-watch you draw a warm, relaxing bath at twilight

-continue watching as you get in, and say ‘ahhh…’

-continue watching as you reflect on the crummy day that’s almost over

-continue watching as you finally relax

-jump in the litter box, make a stinky poo, and leave the room quietly and quickly

true story.


This weekend was a sweet, little one.  The boyfriend and I walked towards India St. on Saturday morning to meet extended family for brunch: with rumors of Snoop Dogg craving Good Egg Cafe treats (he was staying in the hotel where once stood the famous Jordan’s defunct hot dog factory).  Excitement all around when the waitress told us so.

Although Snoop failed to show, we had a lovely breakfast.  Saturday afternoon was spent making arrangements with Grammie for a ‘ahead of time’ birthday party for the wee one, she’s going to be three soon.  It’s very cute.  We also swam in the pool at the Marriott residence inn which was refreshing, even though it was basically kindergarten soup when we got in.  Much less the hot tub.  It’s good we aren’t picky people!

Sunday came, and off to Two Fat Cats to pick up the cupcakes (yum) only to be greeted with the road blocked off.  Bomb scare.  Entrance to Two Fat Cats not interfered with, so we got the cupcakes anyways while Dad and Ki sat waiting in the car.  Small towns and suspicious packages aren’t the best combination when it comes to common sense.

Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting. With complimentary candle by chance - they are the BEST.

O.K., Firstly:  Two Fat Cats is my favorite indulgence this week.  You don’t really have to buy anything when you go there, but you should – the experience of walking in alone is enough.  The pies cool on open, wooden racks within licking distance of the cash register.  An airpot of freshly brewed, proprietary blend by Coffee By Design is always available.  Also cookies.  And whoopie pies:  and not the disgustingly sugary kind we Mainers are so well known for.  No.  These are soft, velvet-y, melt in your mouth whoopie pies.  They come in pumpkin, too.  A coffee and this will cure whatever ails you, unless it’s diabetes, but even then as long as you’ve got your insulin with you it’s totally worth it.

We also popped down to Commercial St. to the new Rosemont Produce market that has just opened up.  Word to the wise Portlander:  you do NOT want this place to close.  They’re open 7 days, so I suggest some additional trips here instead of the weird produce section at Paul’s if you’re strictly a peninsula grocery shopper.  Many local options, big door that opens up to the sea breeze on nice days:  win win win.

Coastal Girl

We walked around down by the Ocean Gateway Terminal.  It’s post-apocalyptic when the cruise ships aren’t in, there aren’t even any seagulls there.  We tried bring a shopping bag full of sweet potato fries leftovers but ended up leaving them on the sea wall for any future gulls, pigeons or starlings who might happen by.  We did play on the rocks for an unusually long amount of time.  Rocks suddenly because super-toys, even for a 28-year-old, when a three year old is calling the shots.  Games such as “pile of rocks” or “toss rocks” or “throw rocks in to the ocean, count the splashes” passed the time.  Aunt Audrey got tired when the game became “Get Aunt Audrey to lift me on to the really big rocks so I can jump off of them in to her arms,” and we headed back to the hotel room for pizza, cupcakes and ice cream.  Mmmm the holy trinity of birthday food.

Grammie was a librarian in a middle school in Northern Vermont for a good deal of her professional life.  There’s a patience she has in communicating stories to children that is so familiar to me, because maybe when I was three it was the same tone, the same measured patience in waiting for wee one to understand all the excellent things those pages held.  In a very concrete way, wee one is my niece.  But in a more fluid, experiential way she is my little, little sister, too.


The adults in her life are the same as mine, only this time I am one of them, even if I drastically underestimate my ability to belong to that team.  The vibrations of my father’s voice when I hear him calming her after some kind of harrowing, toddler run-in with the corner of a coffee table; the welcoming, unconditional hug of my mother’s arms and that very disarming and familiar smell of her freshly washed L.L. Bean button-down shirts.  Ki will know the things I know when she’s older, plus more.

Maybe I am just sentimentally finishing up my Monday, with a long to-do list and not much patience for it, I’d rather sift through pictures of the people I love and reflect.  Sometimes temptation is so good to give in to.


Kitchen Garden

Alas, apartment-living.  You are the best when it comes to not mowing the lawn, replacing the water heater in an emergency, and requiring a down payment.  But you are the worst when it comes to gardening!  With little or no yard to speak of, and a hesitance to share my seedlings with grabby neighbors who might think our porch is their property, too – or worse, think it’s really fun to chuck terra cotta pots around at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night – I have to settle for a little kitchen garden until I get my own backyard.  That’ll be a victory garden, indeed.

love grows where my rosemary goes

I started the rosemary and the oregano seeds at the end of January, and in full sunlight on the counter all day they’re doing famously.  I need to read up on how to care for these so that they bring the most productive herb-age to our dinner table.  I think the oregano will be easy, but rosemary seems like a testy bitch.  Already all the seedlings are just growing on one side of the pot and the soil is turning white.  Hrm.

hello, wildfire

Here is the oregano.  It’s already plentiful and the leaves look like proper oregano leaves, just junior sized.  I hope I don’t have to replant it, just tear bits mercilessly from this little pot and it will grow back as tenaciously as it already has in the last two months.

welcome to the world, little basils!

I’m a terrible basil failure, or at least I have been in the past.  Of course, in the past I’ve kind of just sprinkled some seeds on some dirt and hoped for the best.  I watched some YouTube videos and ready some WikiHow articles and feel relatively confident that I can follow some easy instructions.  Growing basil from seed, you basically need to thin them out as soon as they’ve grown about 3/4″ high – then when they’ve grown their second set of leaves you have to pinch those off.  When your basil flowers you need to get rid of those.  Pulling sprigs off the outermost growth will help keep the plant bushy.  One time, I had a 7-inch tall basical that was only a stalk and a couple of leaves at the top.  I hung on to that thing for a year before I gave up… until now.  I can’t wait to see how they do this year – I will be vindicated.