January 1, 2011


2010 began on a real low. The death of my brother during Thanksgiving of 2009 was followed quickly by a number of crises that I handled the best I knew how, with a lot of mistakes along the way. I rang in 2010 in a furniture-less condo lent to us by a family member, and I was sure the year would be forever cemented in my mind as the worst in my life. And it will be. But as it happens, it was also one of the best. A recap:

I left Brooklyn (and some dear friends along with it), got my master's degree, published a zine and took our show on the road, moved back to Indiana, went to New Zealand for a seal sojourn, became closer with my family than I've ever been, finished two quilts, got married, and published a book. I'd call this a watershed year.

As for 2011, the only thing to do is look forward and expect it to be a great year. I don't have any real resolutions, but spending more time with my friends, coming up with a fun new project for Michael and I to work on, and finding more time to read all top my list of things to work on in the new year.

December 27, 2010

My Yearly Quilt

For the crafty among us, it seems there is no more meaningful way to say thank you than to spend dozens of hours hunched over a craft table, cursing those resourceful pioneers who hand-stitched their love of quilts right onto our popular imagination. Quilts are nothing if not a labor of love, complete with the requisite blood and tears, and possibly sweat, depending on the season. 

I made this quilt for my sister, who has been there and back for me this past year. I gave it to her as a thank you gift, as a token of sisterly love, and in the hopes that it will become an heirloom and a reminder of our delightfully modern and complicated blended family. 

When I saw this pattern on the Purl Bee blog (a totally adorable blog that you should only read if you can resist buying the insanely amazing and overpriced craft supplies at Purl Soho), I knew I wanted to make it for her, in part because it's called a Wedding Quilt. I got married in October, and since I spent most of that week freaking out, Rachel basically made our wedding happen. 

The original pattern was made in a gorgeous spectrum of orange, pink, and yellow, but Rachel's favorite color is blue, so I emailed Purl Soho and asked them to make me a spectrum bundle with blues and greens, and they did it the same day. Pretty awesome.

The finished quilt:
Pattern courtesy of the Purl Bee.
As the title of this post suggests, I don't think I can make more than one quilt per year. Quilting is pretty tedious, and is really one of those things I primarily enjoy in retrospect, although playing with all of these bright colors does help chase the winter blues away. Quilting also allows me to indulge the more reclusive side of my personality, which isn't always a good thing. However, much like any slow work, it is completely engaging--once I start, there is no way I'm going to quit before it's finished. I can't say that about many of the other sewing projects sitting around my house, although I claim to enjoy those projects more. I loved it, then I hated it, and I loved it again when I watched my sister open it and spread it out for everyone to see. (Then I hated it again when everyone started asking for one. Eek!)

October 31, 2010

Out and About: Haunted Train at Baker's Junction

Halloween weekend, a few friends and I went to the Haunted Train at Baker's Junction. It's only slightly south of Bloomington, but I'd never been before, even though almost everyone I know seems to have been to Baker's Junction at some point or another. For those not in the know, Baker's Junction is a haphazard complex of historic trains, the equally historic and worse-for-wear Monon Rail Station, and a few trailers, located about twenty minutes south of Bloomington, Indiana in Smithville. The Bakers live there year round, and operate a Train Museum and the Haunted Train out of the trains they don't live in. Everything in the Haunted Train is made from found materials--inside the we found a lightbox filled with Transformers toys, a blacklight room with day-glo styrofoam planets hanging from a net on the ceiling (which you could move to make the planets dance), and a game played by shooting wine corks out of an air gun to knock down plastic frogs. Instead of a chainsaw the scary sound they use at the Haunted Train is a hair dryer, which they would rev up with perfect timing to distract us from the real scare. And it was plenty scary, especially at the end when they creep-chased us through a maze of chain-link fences and tarps. All in all, it was a great time. Although I wish that the bonfire the family members had going was open to the public. I would really have loved to sit around and spin a yarn with these folks. Maybe next time.
You might notice that the above sign says "Friendly People Welcome, Commie Planning & Zoning Pinheads Keep Out." Other than the Haunted Train, Baker's Junction is famous for two things: their fight with planning and zoning over the sprawling complex of train cars, and the dismembered tip of his own finger Mr. Baker keeps displayed prominently in the Haunted Train (their website has a 4 Sale ad for the finger). In fact, if you click the link on their website to learn about the Train Museum, it's all about the un-American planning and zoning jerks from Bloomington. I plan to return to the museum, so I'll talk about the finger and their fight with their township more in another post. For now, enjoy some photos. Please excuse the poor quality, our camera sucks and/or I am a bad photographer.
Horseman of the Apocaplypse made with found materials in front of the Haunted Train
Michael playing the frog knock-down game with the air gun and corks
Cauldron of body parts. They also had a glass deli case stocked with even more body parts, including a heart shrink-wrapped on a styrofoam tray like ground chuck at the grocery

May 9, 2010

Painting My Lisa Frank Bicycle

When I decided to repaint my bike, the original intention was not to make it look like a Lisa Frank trapper-keeper. That was just a pleasant side effect. After just a couple coats of paint, I am now the proud rider of a day-glo orange bike with pink tiger stripes. Not only is it exactly what I wanted, it's also safer because it's so bright! And if I ever ride through a rave, the spray paint can assured me that my bike will glow under blacklight. But I'm not writing this post just to brag about my haute new ride. I'm here to tell you that painting your bike is fun and easy! Bike nerds are constantly making things harder than they need to be. They say, You gotta powder coat that shit! But no, no you don't. Painting your bike yourself won't look professional, and it might even be kind of sloppy (like mine). But it will be all yours, and cheap to boot. Plus it might look less attractive to bike thieves. Here are some pictures of my process. I didn't take "before" pictures, but it was a burnt reddish color.
As you can see above, I put on a pink base coat. I sanded the bike lightly beforehand so the paint would have more surfaces to stick to. After putting on the base coat, I used painter's tape to create stripes. This way, the stripes will be pink and the rest of the bike orange. You can also see that I covered all of the silver pieces with newspaper. Handlebars, gears, chain, pedals, and brakes all got covered so they wouldn't get painted.
Outside ready to get painted.
Above: my orange bike with the blue tape still on it. I don't have pictures of this, but after I took the tape off I put on a clear topcoat, mostly because the pink I used turned out to be "marking paint" made for concrete, so it was rubbing off on everything. Terrible! The clear topcoat took care of the problem, but it's a good reminder that painting your own bike can have its problems, especially if you're like me and don't know anything about spray paint. Just go for it!
The pink turned out to be much more subtle than I originally thought, especially considering how bright it was originally! The stripes didn't show up to much in the picture, but in the sun the pink is pretty glorious. I also replaced my riser bars with cruiser/mustache bars that a friend of mine gave to me.