Sunday, November 15, 2009

Striped Scarf of Awesomeness

Behold! My striped scarf of awesome is complete!

Striped Scarf

It started small:

SF Giants Scarf (WIP)

But it grew mighty with hours of stitching!

Striped Scarf (detail)

This is my first foray into ribbing, a simple K2 P2. It's also my first attempt at adding different colors. I'm kinda bursting at the seams that I was able to pull it off.

It's original intention was as a scarf to wear to those chilly SF Giants games, but the season is over, and now even Halloween is passed.

Oh well. A girl doesn't need a special reason to wear black and orange, does she?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Halloween, in a Nutshell

For many folks, Christmas is the busiest holiday of the year. The baking, the decorating, the company, the spiritual observance, the activities, etc. For me, it's the Halloween/Samhain season, and this year's was a non-stop, action-packed, three week period filled with friends, food, theater, film, games, and so much more.

Let's recap some of the highlights, shall we?

Exhibit A: "At the Opera Tonight..."

The festivities began the weekend before Halloween, with a weekend trip to the state capital for the Sacramento Horror Film Festival. This was purely a pleasure trip (I hadn't submitted my film this year) to see a screening of Repo! The Genetic Opera, with cast and creators in attendance.

It was a great evening (though it was preceded by a nauseatingly bad pre-show), complete with shadow cast performances, audience participation, and a lively Q&A with Terrance Zdunich (co-creator/"Graverobber"), Darren Smith (co-creator/"Opera Maestro"), Alisa Burket ("Henchwoman 1"), and Andreja Punkris ("Henchwoman 2").

I waited in line to get autographs from them all, and was quite pleased that I didn't make an ass of myself. I usually tend to put my foot in my mouth when meeting artists or celebrities, so this was a step up!

Autographed "Repo!" Goodies

Exhibit B: "Holy Sugar Cookies, Batman!"

Like I mentioned before, baking is integral to my Halloween season. And when I bake...I BAKE:

Cookies Galore!

In one evening, I made over 100 sugar cookies in 3 different colors of dough and flavors of sugar topping: orange leaves and pumpkins with real Wisconsin maple sugar on top, white ghosts and bones with vanilla sugar, and purple-black cats and witches with purple sugar.

I think, out of all the cookies this year, I am most proud of my Batman cookies:

Holy cookies, Batman!

You see, my video game of the season was Batman: Arkham Asylum, and I had to commemorate the occasion in cookie dough. *nods seriously*

The reason for so many cookies? I made enough to ship to friends and family, share with co-workers, take as my contribution to a play-reading/potluck party, and have enough left over for my own guests at a Rock Band party. Even with all that, we still didn't finish the last cookie until two days ago.

Exhibit C: Making Halloween

Of course, what Halloween is complete without crafts?

I didn't have much time, but I did manage to get a little stitching in:

Vampire Ghostie

This wee ghostie was made using a free Annie Oakleaves pattern I snagged last year. I made him using back, satin, and long-and short stitches.

I tried to finish a little friend for him:

WIP: Witch Ghostie

But I didn't quite make it. Perhaps next year!

Now it's time to switch gears. Though my favorite holiday is over, there's still two big, special events right around the corner. That being said, I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks of mellow-time before we kick back into holiday mode!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mind: "Hello, Brooklyn"


Recently, I answered a call for stories for about one' first time hostelling, put out by the San Diego Council of Hostelling International. I was excited to see that not only did they post my story on their website, but they also chose mine for their newsletter! You can see the story -- and read some other travel stories -- on their website, or just check mine out below:

Hello, Brooklyn

Two double beds with faded maroon covers. An old radiator that had been painted over so many times its slots were clogged with dull ivory blobs. A corner crumbling into powdery hunks of drywall. And a curtain that promptly fell down as soon as I tried to close it against the night.

It was perfect.

25 years old, and I'd never traveled further east from California than Arizona. I'd never traveled alone, except to visit waiting family just an hour's plane ride away. Now, here I was, more than 2,500 miles from home in the one American city I'd always dreamed of visiting: Brooklyn, New York.

Sure, it's not London or Bangkok, but to this Cali-girl, Brooklyn was a slice of American exotica. New accents, new flavors, and a whole new city skyline. They even drank a different brand of bottled water. It was like being in a new country: the East Coast. Call me simple, but that was were I'd always wanted to start my globetrotting adventures.

My partner-in-crime was a much more travel-savvy friend who had flown down to meet me from Ottawa. She had made our arrangements with ease -- even springing for the plane ticket that had brought me from the City by the Bay to the Big Apple -- including booking us in at the YMCA hostel in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood. Staying at a hostel wasn't a matter of saving a little cash…it was a matter of making the trip financially feasible at all. No hostel, no trip.

Never having stayed in a hostel, I was naturally nervous, imagining nightmare scenarios of communal gym-room showers and forced chores ala college co-op housing. Even though I was soothed a bit by the knowledge of our private room reservation (and that no manual labor was required), I was still a bit skeptical.

My doubts began to dissipate as soon as we walked in the door. The front desk staff was friendly, which was especially welcoming at 1 a.m. in a whole new place -- and after a massively delayed flight. What was not so welcoming was that we had to lug our heavy suitcases up six flights of steps. But we made it.

A post-flight shower was definitely in order, even at that hour. Grabbing our thin-but-blindingly-clean towels, we wandered off towards what we thought was the ladies room…only to find ourselves wandering in circles through the oppressively hot hostel hallways.

We smelled him before we saw him round the corner, clouds of old summer sweat heralding the arrival of who we later dubbed "The Stinkiest Man in Brooklyn." He was also one of the nicest men we met in Brooklyn, as he stopped to ask two confused strangers if they were lost. He quickly straightened us out – "ladies' room is on the fifth floor" – before disappearing into his room with a polite, "good night."

Afterwards, clean and refreshed (and relieved that the showers did indeed have stalls), we happily toasted our hostel room with bottles of Poland Springs water, thanking our stars that the AC worked perfectly in the humid 90 degree night. I was so exhausted that I slept like a rock on the surprisingly cushy bed, and awoke with glee to find a whole new cityscape peeking out at me through the broken curtains, just begging to be explored.

Brighton Beach Memories

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hand: Toasty Tote

I feel like its been forever since I've posted something crafty, what with the film screenings and the traveling cross-country these days. I have, however, been crafting up a little storm in my downtime, bouncing between sewing, knitting, embroidery, and felt plushie-making.

The winner in the race to completion was my very first homemade tote bag:

Toasty Tote

I'm super-proud of this bag. I mean, bursting-at-the-seams proud. I designed it myself. I made it without a pattern. I did it with patience and without cutting corners. I made EXACTLY what I wanted: a cute chocolate brown tote with pink striped accents and lining.

It was inspired by the adorable Urban Threads patch I bought from AuntiFranni's Etsy shop. I have a "thing" for cute toast. Don't ask me why. I can't explain.

Interior of Toasty Tote

The straps. Oh those straps. They took me twice as long to complete than the body, what with the two different fabrics and interfacing and having to stitch them to the bag....grrr. Put it this way: I had to rip the stitches out more than one during the process of attaching the straps to the bag. And stabbed myself in the cuticle with the seam ripper. Not. Fun.

Mr. Toast in Toasty Tote

It was all so very worth it. I learned so much in the process of making this (including yes, it is natural to get so frustrated you feel like crying, which my Mama and her quilting friend reassured me of). The tote also held up remarkably well on my recent Midwest adventure, with being stuffed under airplane seats, rolled up and used as a neck pillow, and being crammed to near-brimming with non-knitting goods as I ran from plane to bus.

It's a solid piece of work. Maybe there's hope for me as a seamstress after all.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eye: The Good Land

"In fact, it's pronounced 'mill-e-wah-que' which is Algonquin for 'the good land.'" -- Alice Cooper

Now that I've utterly dated myself by quoting Wayne's World, let me share with you my impressions of Milwaukee, WI.

Amazing beer:



Sprecher's Black Bavarian
(Seriously, tears came to my eyes drinking this Black Bavarian, it was so friggin' good).

Amazing cheese:

Say Cheese!

Cheese galore

Truly, it is the good land.

(Okay, really, I saw more of Milwaukee than this. But I didn't get pictures of it. So. Beer. Cheese. Until I can steal some landscape photos from my brother.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Eye: My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)

We came...

Chicago River 2

We saw...

Deerborne St.

We screened a film!

Portage Theatre

CHFF Poster

There we are!

In a nutshell, last weekend was a whirlwind of highs and lows, marvels and the mundane, and surprises and disappointments. There was never a dull moment, and I have to say, the Midwest can be one crazy place! All in all, I had a hell of a good time, and can't wait to have more than 48 hours to explore it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Eye: Zombies heading to the Windy City!

Just got the news on Thursday, Everything I Needed to Know About Zombies I Learned From the Movies is playing in the 2009 Chicago Horror Film Festival!

The festival runs September 25-27 in Chicago, IL. Not quite sure when our film is showing (or quite where the venue is), so more info to come soon!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eye: Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror
Originally uploaded by Zhad_Squad

Taken in front of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD.

A truly inspiring museum for works by self-taught artists, filled with whimsical creations ranging from art quilts to microscopic sculptures carved into pencil leads. You can't help but be inspired here.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hand: Lovely Little Lovebirds

I've been in love with Sublime Stitching's "Dutch-Russian" set since it was released, though it took me a few months to cave and buy the pattern.

"But I already have so many patterns!" Practical me said.

"But wouldn't this look just lovely hanging in your kitchen?" Craft Addict me piped in slyly.

This argument went on (and often does when a new project requires new materials not found in my ample stash of supplies) and (as usual) Craft Addict won.

I'm very glad she did. This was a serious joy to stitch. I love the design so much I stitched it on both ends of the tea towel. There's something so happy about the bright colors and twisting vines, and the pretty little lovebirds. It even got a nod on Sublime Stitching's Twitter. Hell to the yeah.


As if my dialogue between Practical me and Craft Addict me weren't enough, I truly think I have a sort of odd split personality thing going on. On the one side I love and make horror movies, obsess over freaky microbrews, and play violent video games. On the other...there's the monkey quilt-in-progress, stitched tea-drinking bunnies, and the whole pink cake obsession. Weird.

Speaking of those bunnies, I was thrilled to see one of my Black Apple stitches get a nod on You Can Call Me Chris, alongside some other wonderful stitching. I seriously love those baby onesies. Which again...falls into "weird" for me. Me? Onesies? WTF?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hand: Taking the Cake

I've been plagued by the weekend blahs. Yesterday I was in a particularly nasty funk, which called for some major-league cute crafting to cure.

So, I pulled out my new copy of Softies -- which I snagged as a b-day gift to myself a couple weeks ago -- and whipped up this adorable little party cake. It's all hand stitched, made of equal parts craft felt and pure cuteness. It was also a major bonus that I had all the right supplies on hand! I love projects I can start and finish without a trip to the craft store.

Now I'm eyeing my felt stash, and wondering just how awesome a little black and white cake would be...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Eye: How I spent my summer vacation

Chillin' with one of my favorite writers in Baltimore, MD.

June came and went in a flash. I looked up today and it hit me that yes, we are now in much so the 4th has passed and my 30th birthday is looming right around the corner. Criminy.

But not thinking of that today. Today, thinking of patching my poor old couch, starting a swimming regimen, and finally, FINALLY posting to my neglected blog.

Why has it been neglected so? Well, June began with me pulling my filmmaker hat off the shelf for my first-ever film festival screening, and then rapidly trading it for my traveling hat, as my husband and I took our first trip together to the East Coast.

Baltimore, MD, to be specific; five days in Baltimore and 24 hours in Washington, DC.

The Washington Monument, as seen from Constitution Gardens Lake.

I don't think I have words for the sheer wonder that was this trip. We stayed with a trio of our friends in Baltimore, who were generous enough to share their apartment space with us. So, aside from lots of sightseeing and feasting, there was lots of board games, Rock Band, laughing, and staying up too late talking on the balcony.

Blue crabs with Old Bay, ready to be devoured. Our hostess and her family treated us to a real Maryland crab dinner.

I'm still sorting through the 400+ photos I took on the trip, and I've begun posting them in a Baltimore/Washington DC Flickr set. So far, I'm through the first three days of the trip. Gotta get a move on...more to share soon!

The Capitol Building in the rain...the last stop on our 24-hour self-guided tour of the Mall.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eye: My Zombies Invade San Francisco!

My short zombie-comedy -- Everything I Needed to Know About Zombies I Learned From the Movies -- is having its West Coast Premiere at San Francisco IndieFest's Another Hole in the Head Film Festival this June!

We're opening for feature film Reel Zombies on:

Saturday, June 6, 7:15 p.m.
Wednesday, June 10, 5:00 p.m.
Roxie Film Center, San Francisco

Buy tickets here!

Come for the short, stay for the feature. You'll laugh, you'll'll get to watch the director (me) pass out in the theater! Good times!


Seriously, folks, I am so flippin' nervous/excited I don't know where to begin. This is not only our West Coast premiere, but the hometown screening. HoleHead is probably my favorite film festival ever, so to be included in this year's line-up is an extra-special treat. Join us! First person to come up at the screening and tell me they saw this on my blog gets a free DVD copy of my film!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hand: My Idea of an "Easy" Embroidery Swap

Though I told myself I wasn't going to take part in another swap for a while, I couldn't resist when I saw the Embroider Me to Sleep Pillowcase Swap. I've never taken part in a straight-up stitchin' swap, and I'd never tried embroidering on pillowcases. So, naturally I had to do it!

It was designed to be a mellow, low-pressure swap. Just a pair of pillowcases, maybe an add-on, if you felt like it. Just some relaxing stitching.

Uh huh. This is me we're talking about. I can complicate anything. And I mean anything. Including what was supposed to be a mellow crafting swap.

My lovely swap partner, Melyssa_Marie, had a good list of things she loved, and would be fun to stitch. What stood out to me was her adoration of Dia de los Muertos sugar skulls. Since I'd been sitting on Sublime Stitching's "Dia de los Muertos" pattern set for nearly a year, I jumped at the chance to stitch up some festive calavera-themed pillowcases:

Six skulls and four flowers. A pair of eco-friendly bamboo pillowcases. Nine different colors of floss. 64 hand-sewn sequins. And 12 cheesy-ass episodes of Xena: The Warrior Princess. That's what went into this project.


I was actually sad to send these away, I was so proud of them. But, the thing I forget in the heat of creating for a swap is that I get something in return...and I was not disappointed when I tore into my package from Melyssa_Marie:

She stitched me a pair of lovely custom-designed pillowcases inspired by -- wait for it -- the tissue paper flowers used to decorate Dia de los Muertos altars. What's that people say about great minds thinking alike?

I truly love the color composition and the clean simplicity of the lines. So unlike my own stitching style. They're made all the more awesome by Mel having designed them herself. I am very happy indeed.

So, now I return to my swapping hiatus. I have a big project that's been put on the backburner for the swap that I want to make some headway on, and a new cross stitch quote my fingers have been itchin' to stitch. I'm hoping for a creative, stress-free summer, and hopefully this'll be the ticket.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hand: Lucky Cat Apron

Though my Dad's Steal Your Face got delayed in delivery by the car crash, oddly enough, the crash was the reason I was able to make this sweet little Lucky Cat apron for my sister-in-law.

You see, my sis-in-law also lives in SoCal. I'd bought the Sublime Stitching "I Heart Sushi" pattern months before her birthday in December, with the intent of stitching it up before we headed down for our Xmas/Yule/New Year's holiday. Alas, in all the holiday commotion, I'd run out of time to stitch up her gift. I ended up buying her some things -- handmade and cute, true -- but I was disappointed I wasn't going to get a chance to make her this apron for another year.

Then, the crash, and I suddenly found myself with a couple weeks of "free" time when I was pretty much trapped on a couch healing up. It was the perfect time to stitch, and actually kinda helped me normalize again. Stitching adorable Japanese food and Lucky Cats will do that to you, I suppose.

She loves sushi, and used to work in a Japanese restaurant in Santa Cruz. Also, she LOVES cats, so I thought this would be a good marriage of the two.

I was able to give it to her when I went to visit SoCal a couple weeks ago, and she adored it. Oddly enough...shortly after giving it to her, both she and her boyfriend had some very good luck come their way in the form of raises and new jobs. I'm not taking any credit for their success, but y'know... a Lucky Cat is a Lucky Cat!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hand: What a long, strange stitch it's been

Soooo, this is a piece I've actually had completed since December of last year. There's a reason why I haven't been able to share it before now, which has been killing me, since I've been sooooo proud of it!

This was/is my Dad's Xmas gift, for Xmas '08. He's a huge Grateful Dead fan, but an even bigger fan of handmade gifts. This -- thanks to a suggestion from my brother -- was indeed the perfect gift for my Dad. A stitched version of Steal Your Face.

It took me about a month to complete. It's about 6 inches in diameter, and done completely with satin stitching and long-and-short stitching.

I wasn't done with it when Xmas came, but the way things worked out the husband and I were going to spend the holiday with his parents in Humboldt, and then go down to San Diego for New Years' with my folks. I planned to finish "Stealy" over the holiday, then give it to Dad in SoCal, all clean, stretched, and wrapped...

...then we got into the car crash.

When they towed the car away to the impound yard, they took all the luggage and gifts and such away. Though we had an Xbox and all our clothes in the shattered trunk, sitting in the Humboldt County rain, I kept thinking of poor "Stealy." I really thought he was gone.

Luckily, again, he survived perfectly (as well as all my embroidery stuff), and I was able to give him to my Dad on New Year's Eve. Though the piece was wrinkled, unframed, unwrapped, the look on his face was priceless.

Skip forward to two weeks ago, when I finally made it to SoCal to see the family. At last, I was able to wash, iron, and frame "Stealy" for Dad...and after five months, I can say he's complete. Really, it's been a long, strange trip with this piece, and much as I love it, I'm glad it's over. Now he can hang on a wall and be chill, as he was meant to be.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hand: Bread and Dandelions

The weather has been so warm and wonderful here in the Bay Area the past few days. I've been able to walk around the apartment without socks, and can leave the house without my scarf, hat, and gloves.

The birds are singing, the wasps are happily building nests on the BART rails (a little scary, yes), and everything is just so green and alive. I've never considered myself much of a spring person, but after the winter I've had, I'm ready for some happy, life-affirming changes.

This little bread-basket liner I stitched up a few weeks ago really kinda sums my mood these couple days:

Bread Basket Liner, side 2

I made this from a single white dinner napkin I had floating around my linen shelf (I have no idea where it came from), using Sublime Stitching's Kurt Halsey artist's series pattern.

Bread Basket Liner, side 2 (detail)

Here's the other side:

Bread Basket Liner, side 1

Details of the little bee/fairy critters:

Bread Basket Liner, side 1 (detail)

Modeling it is a batch of Irish soda bread I whipped up for this year's St. Pat's dinner. I look forward to that corned beef dinner the way other folks look forward to their Thanksgiving turkey.

While I'm here, I also want to share the reason the weather has been so nice here: I finally finished my first ever, honest-to-god knitting project...a scarf for my husband.

My first scarf

Completed JUST in time for the warm weather!

I'm quite proud of this scarf. I love how the variegated yarn brought out a triangular/stripes pattern. Adam is also especially excited, since he admitted he'd never owned a scarf before. I'm looking forward to seeing him wear it come June ('cause it's true: coldest winter ever is a San Francisco summer).

Now, off to go see Watchmen as part of husband's long weekend of birthday festivities. He turns 30 tomorrow! Movies, gaming, and a trip to our favorite microbrewery, Triple Rock. It's good having four days off in a row. I can't think of a better present for him.