Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's almost Halloween...

...so I threw a big party on Sunday night with my Hattiesburg friends. On the menu was chicken salad sandwiches on croissants (I put chopped pecans, granny smith apples and grapes in my homemade chicken salad), hot spiced cider, cheesy potatoes, pumpkin dip with apples and gingersnaps, and lots of food contributed by my friends.

I used to dress up every year, even as an adult, but hadn't done it for a while. Originally, I had thought about being a witch (not very original, I know), but then decided on a vampire after finding out my friend Sharon was going to be a witch (two witches at a party is nothing but trouble!) A vampire is, sadly, also not very original, but it was fun anyway. Steve was a punk rocker, Harrison was a Bavarian, and Graham was a zombie (although he didn't want any face paint.)

I wanted to come up with a cool centerpiece for the table for the party, but not spend a ton o' money on it. Paper boxes were on sale at Hobby Lobby last week, so I bought three hat box style boxes to paint like a Halloween cake (maybe $10 or so total?) Sunday morning I took a couple of hours and painted like crazy, not caring if I was sloppy (because this was supposed to look folksy.) Black and chartreuse and tangerine and grape paint and lots of Halloween motifs and patterns were topped with a dry-brushing of black and then a spray of glitter paint I found in the cupboard.

I think it really turned out cute, and as you can see, Ruby (who went to the party as a black cat, naturally) was all tuckered out the next morning after all the ruckus.

In other news, I bought a sewing machine. I've been inspired lately by a lot of the small craftsy projects that are out there (I just picked up a copy of Prims magazine last week -- so cute!) Alas, my sewing machine is 20 years old and gets all grumpy when I stitch (knotting up the thread, clogging the bobbin, stomping it's presser foot.) My mom has a Bernina, which she loves, and I wanted to get one that will last me another 20 years of happy sewing (and no foot stomping.) Very exciting -- I know these machines are high quality, and so although I will not be quilting (I don't do that sort of thing well), you will see some designs of mine for fun-finished projects now, as well as my framed pieces. Next on the agenda -- I want to learn how to make ruched ribbon for edging.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween week -- before you know it, we'll be singing Christmas carols!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Japanese Maple

A good while back, Steve and I were walking through Baker Nursery in Fargo, North Dakota, looking at plants. Near a door was a beautiful and delicate-looking tree in a large concrete pot. The leaves were an ethereal purple-red, and almost translucent. "Japanese Maple," the tag said. "$150."

An employee walked by, and we stopped him to ask about the tree.

"Do these grow here?" I asked.

"Oh, no," the employee said. "They'll never survive the winter."

"Then why are you selling it?"

"Well, we have some people who buy them kind of like an annual. They plant one, it eventually dies, then they just come replace it the next year," he said.


I was thinking about that tree again this week. A person's first reaction might be: "What kind of fool do you have to be to plant a $150 tree, knowing full well it's going to die in a few months?" I must not be in a tax bracket where this kind of logic makes sense.

But imagine if instead of planting a doomed tree, the person had planted a crabapple tree, or a lilac, or an oak, all of which love the northern climate. Eventually, the shade and beauty of that tree would be enjoyed by an entire neighborhood. Birds could nest there. Flowers could be gathered. The fall flame of leaves would signal the beginning of winter, and the buds...the promise of spring.

How often we try to be who we're not. Are you flowering in the constraints you've given yourself? Be yourself! Wear jeans and tennies. Eat a big old cookie for lunch. Spend the entire weekend reading. Adopt a few dogs. Throw your hair in a ponytail. Laugh at lowbrow jokes. Go to a few garage sales.

There is definitely a time for doing the things you SHOULD do. But for sure make time to do things you WANT to do and things you're naturally good at. (End your sentences with prepositions!) Who cares? Be interesting, because life is short like summer.

Oh, you've got a little food on your face...right there. No, there. Never mind!