Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Two of a Kind" Reduction Print

I met Lani Shapton when I was working at the cafe about six years ago. She was part of a group of co-workers who were studying art at Chico State. She's also buddies with Linda Lopez. We all kinda worked there around the same time.

Anyhoo. I got a message from her a few weeks ago. I hadn't seen her in a long time, so it was fun to connect a little bit. Apparently, she's lecturing at a college in Florida now (which is awesome) and while she was demonstrating "reductive woodcut" printmaking for her students, she decided to use the siamese sock monkey as a subject for her piece! Since the monkeys were kind of the brain child (or should I say brain children?)  of Linda and I, Lani said she thought of us during the project, and she was sweet enough to offer to send me a print!

She titled it "Two of a Kind" and informed me that it's a "5 color reductive woodcut." The five colors I see are brown, three shades of blue, and a little red. I had no idea what "reductive woodcut" means really, so I googled the process and found it wonderfully fascinating. In reductive prints, a medium (wood in this case) is carved away in very specific stages of color. And the artist needs to be very aware from the beginning what the layers of color will be and how many total prints they will want to make. Once they're done with the last layer, the wood will no longer be useful in making any more prints.

Here the best video I could find on the process of reductive printing, but it uses lino. Here is an example with wood, although he only uses one color.

What a wonderful and unique gift from my friend, Lani! It hangs in the living room now, just over my sewing corner. I sit under it... and make monkeys.  :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Soft peaks...

So, we're in the middle of a hundred-year-storm out here in California. That might be an exaggeration. It's been raining off and on (mostly on) for about 2 weeks, which is relatively unusual. Some trees in Lower Bidwell Park and around Chico got blown over about a week ago. You know it's a big storm when the trees blow over. And of course, being the sensible person I am, I thought what better to do in this inclement weather than to make some meringue? :)

Lemon Meringue Pie was mentioned last week and ever since then both Joel and I have been dreaming about it. So I pulled out my old recipe and my trusty whisk attachment and got to work. The pie turned out pretty good. It tasted delicious, actually, but I think the consistency was a little off. That may or may not have to do with the weather... and the fact that I have a huge problem waiting 5 whole hours for the filling to set. Teehee.

I got one of those 2-fer deals on the pie crust, so I'm gonna try the recipe again next week and I'll see if I can perfect it a bit. Then, I'll share it here, for anyone who wants it. Right now, I'm just being a tease:

Since I had the eggs out and it was still raining, I made macaroons while I was at it. :)

Funny story about macaroons and me: I've never had a macaroon other than my own. So I don't know how they compare to the mainstream macaroon. My suspicion is that mine are much more meringuey (yes) than most. Because you can really see the coconut in the photos of other people's macaroons. My coconut is sorta hidden in a poofy cloud of sweet vanilla-almond. Not that I mind. Mmmmm... I'm just curious how they compare. Maybe I'll buy one at a local patisserie and see if I can figure out how to make mine a little more so.

In the meantime, who's gonna help me eat all these sweets?! I'm gonna have to speed walk for like a month to burn all this off.

Oh wait. It's raining.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Country Chic

A couple of my friends (in two different circles thereof) linked to the Pioneer Woman on Facebook yesterday, so I decided to check her out. The first thing I noticed was how well-designed her site is, and also the sheer amount of content is a bit mind-boggling. She's got alot going on... but it's good. Alot of it is really good. Cheerful. Humorous. Well photographed. Shabby chic. Maybe just chic. Actually, we'll call it "country chic." Honest. That's a good one. Did I say humorous?

So, over the course of the last 24 hours, I've been wandering in and out of her many posts. I think I might have developed kind of a girl crush. She's pretty much who I want to be when I grow up (never mind the fact that I'm almost 30). What's really funny is I've never really been attracted to the cowboy kind of lifestyle. But she's got kind of an modern woman twist on it that really hooks me.

But let's just discuss time management for a moment. For if I am to emulate my new-found mentor, I must analyze her ways. How does any one person run a household, raise 4 kids, homeschool them, cook amazing food, take amazing photos, garden, and still somehow have time to write bestselling books and update her blog, twitter and facebook several times a day? Oh, and make the occasional TV appearance and book tour. All while looking absolutely fabulous. What am I missing here?! I barely have time to feed everyone and do laundry in the same day. And I usually forget to brush my hair if both of those get done. Maybe she has little gnomes, like Martha, that help her out with stuff. Maybe as a mom of a toddler I can't imagine it, but having older kids probably helps... Maybe country living gives her more time for these things. Or maybe she's just amazing...

I think I'm also a bit jealous of her acreage. I've always wanted to garden and have goats and sheeps and chickens and things. OK, the animals might not be realistic, but I would love some room to play and plant stuff. Being cooped up in the apartment with a 2 year old is exhausting most days. "Mama, wanna play cars? Wanna play cars? Wanna play cars?"  Just the thought of having those words in my mouth, "Let's go play outside,"  makes my saliva glands tingle. Give me the open spaces! The big sky, the prairies, the ponds, the grass, the sunshine!  Yes, I am trying very hard not be jealous of the acreage.


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Monday, March 14, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Pack of 7 Burp Cloths

It's been awhile since I gave away someping. Let's DO IT!

This week, I have chosen a selection of my burpies. They are brand new, in some patterns I've decided to discontinue. With each burpie, one side is flannel with a cool pattern and the other side is SUPER absorbent chenille.
5 are what I would consider a "girl" pattern and 2 are "boy or girl."
Pre-shrunk, machine washable, measures about 8" by 15"

(BTW - if you happen to be interested in purchasing from a selection of my newer patterns, check out my burp cloth section here!)

Good luck everyone! Thanks for participating! =)

The giveaway will run from 3/14/11-3/20/11. Winner will be drawn and announced on 3/21/11.

Your comments on this blog are your entries.
**You must leave an email address in your comments so I can contact you if you're the winner**

1. Leave a comment on any post for the next week. Old or new posts, doesn't matter. The more comments you leave, the more times you are entered to win.

2. Follow this blog - through blogger, google reader, RSS feed, etc.
Come back here and comment, letting me know you're following!

3. "Like" Lil Hipsters on Facebook
Come back here and comment, letting me know you "like" it!

4. Link this giveaway on a social networking site of your choice.
Come back here and comment, letting me know you've linked it!

5. Grab my button (in right column) and leave a link of where I can find it - worth 2 entries (leave two comments!)

Entries must be received by March 20th, 2011 11:59PM PST. The winner will be announced on the 21st. Open to US residents only. I will select a winner using a random number generator and I will email the winner. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I select a alternate winner.

UPDATE: Out of the 80 comments on my blog this week which qualified for the giveaway, a random number generator picked lucky comment number 15

And the 15th eligible comment this week was from Champagne Wisdom! Congratulations!
Wow. Thank you so much to everyone who participated and took the time to comment. :)


Sunday, March 13, 2011

feeling helpless

Watching images of destruction in Japan these last couple of days. Of course my heart is broken. The devastation just seems so vast and totally overwhelming. What do we say? What do we do? Looking on those effected with so much sympathy. But the desire to help seems almost immediately impeded by the question - where do we begin? Villages, roads... even livelihoods that took years to build - just gone.

Many of us are not in a postion to physically sort through rubble or tend to the wounded and distressed. But I hope we will all do what we can. My plan is to pray for the people of Japan and give to humanitarian causes. The Red Cross is trustworthy and always there in times of need.

If you're interested in helping out, you can donate $10 to the Red Cross Japanese disaster relief fund by texting REDCROSS to 90999 or click here to find out more ways to give.

~Healing and blessing to Japan~

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

For every action...

So, I just figured out how to add "reactions" to the bottom of my posts. Man, I wish I had seen that option before - I think it's kinda cool. Hopefully this will be a user-friendly way for others to leave some different kinds of feedback. Teehee! I just love hearing from you all. ;)

If you are interested in adding reactions to your blog, simply go to > Blogger dashboard >design and under the main box entitled "blog posts" click "edit." Then check the "reactions" box. You can even edit the reactions to say whatever you want! If you have any trouble, help can be found here.
I have a hunch my son will be much more computer-savvy than I when he gets older. First of all, he's been playing in MSpaint a little bit lately, and has been doing surprisingly well. Here is an example of his work (#4):

I think it's pretty great. Of course, I am slightly biased. :)

Also, this morning, when we were parking downtown, he called from the backseat, "I see a website," which of course I thought was some kind of 2 year old gibberish. "It's dot com," he added, which made me cock my head a bit. But the real shocker was when I finally got him out of the car seat, he walked straight up to the store-front window we had parked in front of, pointed to where it said "" and said again "It's a website mommy - it's dot com"

Pretty sure I had to pick my jaw up off the sidewalk.

That was my "reaction." haha.

Monday, March 7, 2011

a visit from the tiny things

A friend of mine is working on an art project. It involves tiny creatures, and I'm pretty sure that's all I can say. While talking about the project and life in general, he asked me if I had ever knit a sweater before and I told him about the Inishturk, and then I realized he might be scouting for some wardrobe so I offered to knit something up for his little friends. He actually tried to talk me out of it. Haha. He thought it might be too much to ask. But I was looking for a good distraction at that point in life and I was already brainstorming and designing things in my mind. So I said I would just knit something up and he could use it or not. No worries.
After a few fittings and alterations, I came up with these:

The first one is made with cotton-ease. I gave it a rough, tattered look by popping a few stitches out of stockinette here and there.

The second is made with the same wool I was using in the Inishturk. But I had to narrow the yarn down to two strands to make it more pliable.
They are both only 20 stitches around, so it was kind of hard to come up with any special patterns, but I did attempt a couple of cables in front of the wool one. You can just barely see them because they're only one stitch wide. teehee. So this would be like a teeny-tiny Aran sweater. :)

I really enjoyed the unique challenges of working in-the-small. It kind of has an eery look to it in a way, doesn't it? Can you imagine finding a tiny sweater like this in the wall of your house? You'd wonder what else the creatures have been wearing and building! Reminds me of the mice in Cinderella.

Now. I wonder if this will help get me motivated to finish the Inishturk. It only has about 60 hours left on it. :/ Naaah.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Breaking the sound barrier

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone"
 Blaise Pascal

With all the people in all the world... and so many of them talking and tweeting and facebooking all at the same time, it seems to me the roar of technology must be deafening. How many bits and bytes and mega bytes and sound bites and videos and messages... "rushing through the air above our heads in a million tiny pieces," to quote Wonka.

The other day I was was standing quietly in a desolate parking lot looking at the evening sky. It seems to me there is a glimpse of infinity at every dusk. Somehow, even though it was very quiet, I found myself thinking about all the invisible noise that goes on around me every day. There are a hundred conversations flying around my head, carried inconspicuously from those nearby, through satellite receivers, to people scattered across the globe. Some of these conversations are very precious. Sisters planning a visit. Lovers trying to understand each other. Negotiations of business. But alot of it is pure drivel - bad hair day!, my breakfast:, he's such a hottie, i'm sooooo bored, lol. The voices join in a chaotic chorus. A roar of human communication. 

What are we saying to each other that's so important? Why is it that we feel this innate need to be digitally connected? What is it that makes us willing to sacrifice our precious time, our creative energy, the company of those around us, sometimes even our lives on the freeway... just to check our phones, just to be up-to-the-minute?

I mean, technology is great, and I'm thankful for the convenience. What intrigues me is when people stop using the tools - facebook, twitter, texting, calls - as the tools that they are, and seem more to be enslaved to the tools themselves. It seems we are caught in the Great Web of social networking. A constant cause and effect of pictures, comments, thought and data.

There's a phenomenon afoot in our culture that may be related. I call it the "oh yeah, me too" syndrome. If you've ever people-watched in a cafe or restaurant you'll know exactly what I'm talking about, because you can observe it happen a hundred times a day. It goes something like this: exactly two people are sitting at a table together. Although they have probably gone to great lengths to make this arrangement happen, at one point the first friend decides to ignore the second one indefinitely in order to make or receive a call/text. Here's where the syndrome kicks in. Within two minutes, the second friend will inexplicably have his cell phone out too, making a call that he seems to have suddenly remembered, or checking his email or something. And all of the sudden, two people who are "having coffee," are actually not with each other at all, they are with two other people. In an interesting twist today, I watched a guy do it when his girlfriend got up to go the bathroom. And when someone answered his call, I heard him say "Oh nothing, just wondering what you were up to." I can't help but think that these - the second friends - are merely doing some strange unconscious gesture to try to prove that they are equal. "Oh yeah, me too. I'm totally as busy... and popular as you are."  I personally don't think the guy needs to prove anything, but he is in fact fighting against an equation which has crept into our social subconscious that says Guy On Cell > Guy Sitting Next to Him.

Are we really so insecure without a phone in our hands, without a wifi connection, without something to do? Are we that afraid to sit quietly with our own thoughts?

When I speak, I want what I say to mean something. To be thoughtful... inspiring... encouraging... or bring cheerfulness. To teach or to ask. To nurture justice and love. I want my words to have substance. Not that I will never speak of trivial things, but that I won't speak just to fill the air with more noise. I want to be unabashedly unafraid of being quiet. 

Sometimes we can say a lot more to each other, and feel a lot more connected, with a smile... or a kind deed, than a million empty conversations fluttering through space.
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