472: afghan unfringed or how i learned to love finishing things, at least for now

So about a million years ago , ok maybe it was 3 or 4, I spent a month or so making a bunch of granny squares and then, miracle of miracles, even seamed them together to make an actual afghan.

I do not usually finish things.

I especially do not usually finish things before a very long delay.

This thing, I made it and I finished it!

Kind of.

Since it was my first time with granny squares (also I am lazy) I didn't weave in the ends as I went.

So I had a big granny square blanket with, like, random fringe all over it. Did this stop me from using the blanket? No it did not. It has been used and washed many times in the last few years since I made it. My Adorable Husband (tm) liked to tease me about it. I fully expected that it would stay fringey forever.

Eh, whatever.

And then I started longarming. And then my amazing new friend Judy showed me how to bind a quilt the not made up way (which is pretty much the way I do everything, the made up way) and in the last few weeks I have bound all of the things that I quilted.Even the things I did last summer. This one I machine bound (which Judy doesn't do because she is hard core.)

And most of them I actually HAND SEWED the binding to the back (which is what Judy taught me), which is something I always thought I would hate to do. Sew teeny tiny stitches? FOR HOURS? That you WANT to be invisible? That no one will ever see or notice, you hope?

Maybe it's because I got to hang out on the couch and watch Dexter while I did it, maybe it's because I was drinking Fireball Whiskey on  the rocks, maybe it's because I got to drape the quilt over me (and you know how I am ALWAYS cold) --- whatever the reason, turns out, I really love handsewing the binding to the back of the quilt! (My own quilts, let me clarify.)

Neat! Old Dog, meet New Trick!

So, after several evenings of contentedly binding quilts (and watching Dexter, Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey), I ran out of quilts and my hands were lonely and bored.

I looked at my afghan.

It looked at me. I grabbed the snips and a hook.

And I spent a couple of evenings tidying up and FINISHING my first granny square afghan!

Cat APPROVED!

Yes, I used crappy acrylic yarn.

Thor and Riley don't judge me.

I love seeing all the critters hanging out with my handmade stuff. It's so cute.

Now I gotta make a million more quilts.

And bind them.

I'll have a whiskey on the rocks.

And Bates.

xo,

melissa

 

471: My new book!

You guys you guys YOU GUYS!

I finally get to tell you about my new book!!!!

DIY Mason Jars : 35 Creative Crafts and Projects for the Classic Container

That's right, I wrote a book all about crafting with Mason Jars!

But wait, I didn't just write it, I ILLUSTRATED IT, which is a dream come true. I can't wait to show it all to you, but for now, here is the adorable cover:

 

I had a blast working on this with the lovely folks over at Adams Media! They are a division of F+W and if that sounds familiar to my crafty peeps, it might be because they recently acquired  Interweave.

DIY Mason Jars comes out this spring but is available for preorder RIGHT NOW on Amazon, so, you know, go preorder it!

I mean, if you want.

xoxoxox

melissa

 

470: Bacon, the gateway meat

I've been a vegetarian for 22 years.

Well, technically not a vegetarian, so much as a fishatarian, as I do occasionally eat seafood. Most people still think of that as a vegetarian, so it was just easier to use 'vegetarian' as shorthand.

Anyhoo, aside from the aforementioned seafood, for most of my life I haven't eaten meat. Nope, not even chicken. I don't know why but people always still think you eat chicken, too. "But what about Thanksgiving? I mean, you still eat turkey, right?" No, no I don't.

But, what about when you smell bacon?

Bacon smells amazing, everyone knows that.

There was this one time about 12 years ago when I did try to eat meat again for a few months. I have always struggled with fatigue and I hoped that eating meat would help. You know, protein, iron, all that business. You can definitely get all you need from a veggie diet, but I thought I would give it a try, since I am a lazy vegetarian and had never made  an effort to get enough protein (until this year when I started lifting weights.)

So I tried to eat meat. Yes, tried. But after years of not eating it, well,  it kind of freaked me out! The texture, the taste, the thought of *what it actually is*.  It always just felt like i was chewing on someone's thigh.  (And not in a good way.) I could handle chicken sometimes. Beef, no.

Bacon? You bet your sweet ass I ate bacon.

After a while it was the only meat I was still eating. And I didn't feel any less tired. So I stopped eating meat again. No big deal.

Being a vegetarian was mostly habit by this time. I started off my vegetarian career as a 16 year old who had just read Animal Liberation. Frankly, that would turn most people off of meat for a while if they were willing to read it. But I did still wear leather, so it wasn't all for animal welfare reasons. It was complicated. It was kind of a cultural thing as well, I was hanging out with people in their 20's who had been vegetarians for several years, and it just sort of rubbed off. It never felt like a sacrifice or anything, it was just something I didn't eat anymore. I didn't want it or crave it or miss it , even though I was always a big meat-eater.  I mean, I still loved the smell of bacon, but it just didn't occur to me to eat it anymore. I figured I would always be a vegetarian, er, fishatarian.

So it was habit, a social thing and kind of an identity thing, though I was never militant or preachy.  Different strokes, you know?

Then about two months ago something inside me changed and I was like, you know what? I think it's time to eat meat again. And again, it's kind of complicated. Part of it is that I do lift weights now and I want more protein options. Part of it is willingness to let go of my identity as a vegetarian to find out what really works best for my body. And if I'm being honest, the biggest part of it is this weird deep exorcism of a painful relationship from when I first became a vegetarian. I know, it's weird.

So this year when Thanksgiving was coming up, I was pretty sure I would have turkey for the first time in over 20 years. But the day came and went and I just didn't want it. I *could* have it, I was *willing* to have it, I just didn't want it. So I waited.

I waited until last Thursday when I went to my friend Alison's open house at her lovely business Supple Apothecary. She was like, "Honey, you gotta try the candied bacon!" And I was like, "If I ate bacon I would be all over it!" About an hour of mingling later (and no, I wasn't drinking!) Stuart and I were standing by the food and,knowing that I have been ready to try eating meat again, he was like "The bacon *is* REALLY GOOD."

I looked at. All glistening and chewy-looking and crispylike. And I thought, you know what? I WANT SOME.

So I ate a piece. And it was so frigging delicious. And then I ate some more.

And you know what? I didn't instantly become a bad person. The world didn't crumble, I was still me and it was all good. In fact, I felt giddy! I felt, kind of...free.

And now pretty much all I want to do is eat candied bacon. Stuart came home from grocery shopping on Friday and sing-songed "I bought you some BACON!" And he made me some candied bacon for breakfast on Saturday. And it was still amazing. And I wanted some the next day, so he made me some for dinner. And I wanted some today but he was like, "Honey, we are out of bacon" and I was like "Well BUY MORE BACON THEN" and he made me some  for dinner. He is being most accommodating about my new habit.

Who knows how long this will last, or what other meats I might try to eat again. But for now I am eating the hell out of some bacon. I'm pretty much being Ron Swanson about it, "Give me ALL THE BACON YOU HAVE."

Oh, here's how you make candied bacon:

Preheat oven to 400. Dredge bacon slices in brown sugar. Use regular or thick cut, fancypants smoked kind or regular old red-package-kind, whatever. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Crack some peppercorns over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the slices are your favorite level of brown and amazing and crispy and chewy and crack-like. Eat with your bacon-eating fingers.

 

(Vegetarians, please do not send me hate mail. Thanks a million.)

xo,

Melissa

aka

The Baconater

 

 

469: swoon quilt quilted

I have a handful of very simple quilt tops that I made with my Swoon fabric line a couple of years ago. I quilted this one the other day after Lemony Snippet.

 I have been practicing drawing what I want to quilt:

So I keep trying to practice feathers when I get on a machine:

That's sort of my oakleaf version! I like it.

Backed this one with a print from my Dazzle collection:

Here's another allover design I've been practicing on paper:

And on the machine:

ANd this one is kind of a combination of a feather and that shell thing!

 Loops and meanders:

 more meandering:

Ahhh, I love it so much!! I wish th equilting machone fairy would visit me.

I even had someone on twitter ask if they could send me their stuff to quilt! I wish!

Off to practice on paper until I can get my paws on a machine again.

Do you send quilts out? Do you quilt yourself? Talk to me about machine quilting. I am obsessed.

xo,

melissa

468: lemony snippet: quilted!

Remember Lemony Snippet? My sunny scrappy quilt top from a million years ago? (Whoah! I just looked and it was four years ago!)

I quilted it!

Squeee! My only other longarm quilting has been on scraps, this is my first quilted quilt!

Some lines.....

I'm still just practicing and doodling, so it's full of wackiness.

Trying out of my coral-esque stipple...

(Hi bunny!)

Some loops on the bee fabric...

Playing with outlining the motif in the fabric.....

I gave this one whiskers:   (!)

I was taking these pictures on my couch, where Owlie McPillowpants lives. This is Pillow Mountain, the corner of our sectional where we pile pillows and blankets so we can lay down on the couch with our heads at the corner.

That blue polka dot quilt? It was made by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! She GAVE it to me. It is amazing. I need to take some real pictures of it to show you its awesomeness. It is my nap quilt.

Back to Lemony Snippet:

Feather practice:

I backed it with the yellow basketweave from my Dazzle collection:

Pebble practice:

Pebbles are hard! I like my wonky ones, but I do want to perfect them, too.

Also, bunnies are cute.

xo,

melissa

 

467: fitness monkeys

Hey!

It's 5:30 am and I am having some coffee and relaxing before I get ready to leave for CrossFit at 6:40.

You know I always have struggled with weight and eating. I'm on track then I'm off track. I'm gung ho, then I'm apathetic. I have been consistently working out since January, but the healthy eating comes and goes. I had lost most of the weight that I gained writing my first book! And then I gained most of it back working on my second!

Social support really helps me--- I need that accountability and camaraderie.

So I started a facebook group!

It's a great venue to give and receive support and motivation for working out, eating better and generally taking good care of ourselves.

And we aren't all doing the same thing. We each focus on what we want and follow whatever program works for us, but it's a common place to meet and connect with other people.It's off to an amazing start with people from all corners of my life joining in and answering questions, making daily goals and in general being awesome.

I mean, if I'm going to be screwing around on facebook anyways, I may as well use it to help me build positive habits and a supportive network!

Join us? Go to the Fitness Monkeys page and click 'Join Group'!

xo,

melissa

ps I quilted all day Saturday! pics coming in the next couple of days!!

 

466: twitter-aided design

For fun last night, I put out a call to twitter to throw out suggestions for a design I would make up and post right then.

First I asked for colors. @EleanorJustice offered periwinkle. @SisterDiane from CraftyPod chimed in with charcoal gray. And to go with those two?  Sarah @shemkus said "Orange, clearly."

Then I asked for an animal. That loveable wiseass @PamKittyMorning said: DUCKBILL PLATYPUS.

I asked for a design element like stripes, squiggles, dots etc. Pam said dots. I said ok, I'll be back.

I had said I would operate under a ten minute deadline, but 8 minutes into try to draw a (damned) platypus, I had to apply for an extension.

After a total of 35 minutes, I had this:

Not bad! Kinda cute, right?

I wanted to do a quicker design, I requested another set of colors and a letter of the alphabet but I wasn't crazy with my results. The colors just weren't working for me and I felt like I was taking to long and just all round wasn't digging it. As my therapist would say, "They can't all be gems."

I would love to do this exercise again, but I think I won't give have a time limit and I will allow myself to swap out one element or color that doesn't do it for me, if necessary. That way I can have more fun with it and really come up with something that I like.

I hope you'll play along with me sometime!

Oh, and while we're on the subject, here is the beginnings of a fabric line I started way back in spring of 2010.

 

I will be revisiting it next month and hopefully you will see a variation of it on actual fabric someday!

....................

In other news.... I get to play on a Gammill again tomorrow! Squeeeee!

xo,

melissa

 

465: more longarm quilting and mermaid boobs

I spent the afternoon on my friend's longarm!

This time I was actually practicing stuff, for the most part.

I tried it in and out of different modes. You can see above on the right how some of the stitches got really long. Need to work on timing.

Loops are wicked fun:

I even tried some freehand straight lines. Me! Straight lines!

I was pretty happy with them.

And thiskind of infinity swoopy thing is one of my favorite things to do:

I have been doodling that for years and it is so cool to see it in quilting.

So I went a little cray cray with it and a bunch of other things:

And now, just for you, more Mermaid Boobs:

xo,

Melissa

 

 

464: longarm quilting and mermaid boobs

So I went to a local quilt guild show the other day. I am not in the guild, but I felt a need for a little quilty action so I went.

One of the first booths in the row of vendors was a Gammill dealer.

A longarm quilting machine all set up and just sitting there with a fabric and batting sandwich just waiting to be used.

I had to play.

And oh my. I fell in love that day.

Getting loopy:

Squeeee! I made loops!

It was so much fun, you guys.

 

 Leafs:

Tiny coral-y meandering:

Eeeeeee! So much fun.

Then I just went nuts just to see what the machine felt like:

More loop making:

Short loops, long lumps.

Pebbles:

I must have spent a couple of hours there in t he booth, chatting with the owner and the tech.

And then I just had to draw with the thing. I mean, enough trying to be all quilty, I just wanted to let loose.

So I drew.... no worrying about precision or spacing, just playing with it like it was a pencil in a sketchbook:

Yes, that  does say 'wicked cool'.

Warning, mermaid boobs:

It was so cool to see my sketches coming out in thread!

Totally going fast and winging it:

This lady had the body of a bee, which you can kind of see starting at the right there.

And a detail:

So I am pretty much obsessed with machine quilting now.

 

I'm going over to a friend's house to play with her machine sometime in the next few days, so I will be back with more pictures!

Have you tried it? Are you a longarmer? What machine do you use? Do you quilt with your domestic?

Tell me all about it!

xo, Melissa

 

 

 

463: edible corn and, finally, tomatoes. also squash and beans.

I was so super hungry when I came home from work. I hunted around in the garden for something ready to harvest, steam and eat immediately.

I found corn.

I have grown corn before, and it always *seems* to do great, but then when we go to eat it, it's all funkytimes. This year I was determined to pick it at the right time, so I have been checking it each week. Last week I tried an ear and it was.... well, slim....and kind of ....ghostly. Supernaturally see- through. Totally unappetizing, not to mention unsubstantial. There was literally nothing there to sink my teeth into.

I have been watching the patch for the last week and the ears seemed to be suddenly plumping into corn-shape and corn-size!

Today was my day:

It looked like corn!

I scurried around grabbing some green beans and summer squashes. I didn't even intend to check the tomatoes because they have been so damn lazy this year, but the redness caught my eye! TOMATOES! FINALLY! Grab grab grab. Stuff into skirt-basket. I swear, tomato leaves could be made into an aphrodesiac, that scent! Rawr!

Pinch, basil.

Rummage in the kitchen. Oh good, we still have a vegetable steamer. When was the last time I used that?

Slice slice summer squash, toss in to steam. Throw in beans, untrimmed. Unwashed, for that matter.

Peel. The. Corn.

The-corn-that-I-grew! Looking good! Strings, get off of there.

Mmmmm, good compost day, yes.

Toss into the pot. Cover.

Now, you, tomatoes. Get in my MOUTH! Slicey slicey, choppity chop of the basil and oh yeah some feathery fennel. Grind-grind pepper and salt. Sprinkle.

Click:

Say hi, Zeus!

Veggies are tender, got on that plate you guys.

Yum, dinner time. Well, the first course anyways. The Oh-My-God-I-Am-So-Hungry-Food-Get-In-Me-Now course.

It was so yummy. The corn, it was edible! And not only that, sweet and delicious!

Say hi, Riley!

So, this just in: I totally grew corn. Now I just have to eat it all before it goes all freaky.

What are you growing?

I want to know!

Also, Hi! how are you?

xoxox

melissa

 

 

462: evian, etc

I may have taken a nap from 6-8pm, which means I am screwed.

I've been whipped lately, so I took a couple of days off from working out. And pretty much moving, like, at all.  I haven't been sleeping well. This nap I just took is not going to help.

So, hi!

Look at me getting all bloggy up in here. It's been a while. I've missed you. I guess  just got out of the habit of it. I want to get back into the habit now. These sentences are short.

Also, I am procrasti-blogging. That is, not working on th ebook when I really really should be so I at least better do something to take my mind of the guilt. I have been procrasti-eating quite a bit, as well.

 

 

Trying to encourage  myself do this:

 Those are from my fitness tumblr that I started a while back.

You know, you just never know who is looking at your stuff. A couple of months ago I got an email from someone at evian. You know, evian water, the international luxury brand? (for the record, I do NOT approve of those baby tee shirts on their website! They freak me OUT.)

They said they found my tumblr through people reposting my stuff on pinterest, and would I be interested in doing some custom letterings for them to use on their facebook page?

Um.

I said, "Of course, I'd love to! Is this for real, though?"

Literally, that's what I said.

Turns out, it was for real.

So far they have used this one:

and this one:

All I could think about was that thing people used to say in the 80's, that "'evian' is 'naive' spelled backwards", because who would *pay* for water in a bottle? Ha!

So, anyways. You just never know. Pretty neat, huh?

.............................................................................................................

 

*I am thinking quilty and fabricy thoughts. Once I finish the book, I am going to design the hell out of some fabric. I might even share some of the process of doing so right here. How would that be?

*I am drinking Reed's Ginger Beer. Love that stuff.

*I'm growing my hair out. It is maybe 3" long and brown. Sometimes I bump into people I know and they don't recognize me!

------------------------------------

 ok, good night my dear.

I hope you have a restorative sleep filled with comforting dreams.

xoxo

melissa

 

461: garden dinos and the Compost Corral

Stuart was making dinner and said, "I don't have enough potatoes."

So you know what I did?

I went outside and dug some up:

I am in love with my garden, you guys.

Like my dirty skirt? It is one of the seven million skirts I made one summer at the shop when it was so slow that I wanted to cry. I'll have to show you all of those. This is one of my faves. They are all A-Line with a little bit of patchwork. I tried to do it in a non-hippie way, but you know, when you use patchwork in clothing it's hard to keep it from having that vibe.

So, potatoes. They were actually volunteers this year! Last year I planted seed potatoes, thanks to my aunt Joni who gave me a bunch. (Thanks, Joni!) Thing is, I can be very disorganized (you don't say) and I just didn't pick them in time last year. When I finally did pick one plant's worth, they were all mealy and weird. I composted the greens and forgot to dig up roots and  all of a sudden this spring I was like, oh, look, a potato field!

I hope these are good! I'm sure the kids will let us know if they are funky.

How is your garden doing? Do you find there are just some things that won't grow for you? I'm like that with greens. I tried some in a raised bed but they sucked. I was going to compost them but decided to throw them in a big planter instead and they did great! I wonder what else I thought I couldn't grow?

Ooooh, ooooh, oh! I am so in love with this trellis idea. I had planted bean starts and they were tendrilling and begging for support, so I hunted around and found an old wooden ladder of Stuart's. I asked him if I could steal it and he said yes:

Bam! Instant trellis, height in the garden, charm. Agh, I frigging love it. Don't suppose you have any old ladders you want to give me?

Oh, remember the dinos from my silly comics?

Here there are at home:

Rawr in the fennel!!

And here is the new Keeper of the Bean Trellis:

And here is the Unicorn of the Compost Corral:

One of my sweet customers brought me that unicorn at the shop. In the background on the right is the potato field! I made the Compost Corral this spring. I dragged those pallets down to the garden and dug them in all by myself. There were larger sized pallets that I just couldn't wrangle. But you know what? Just one month later, I tried again and I could get them! Thanks, CrossFit! I will have to show you more of the CC. I planted sedums in the pallets on one side and strawberries on the front.

Oh, man. So much I want to show you,  like  the awesome fence Stuart put around the garden. I will have to put together a post about it. I loved my space before, but now hearts burst around my head when I look at it.

You guys, it is SO GREAT having weekends off!

xoxox

 

460: you don't suck

Hi!

I am procrastinating working on book projects.

That's right, I said "book".

Not a sewing book, a non-sewing craft book.

........................................................

Lately I am hot for:

-watermelon, obviously

-CrossFit, which I do 5x a week (holy shit)

-my garden

-mason jars

-wearing skirts

---------------------------------------------------------

Here, in case you needed to hear it, like I always do:

I'm pretty sure that I love you, whoever you are that's reading this.

xo,

melissa

459: a silly little comic for you

hey!

So I started out just wanting to say hi and show you these dinosaurs I thrifted the other day. ( I got them to put in the garden.)

I had kind of one of those sensitive days and as I was uploading the pics I reminded myself of a quote a friend of mine comforted me with a couple of weeks ago Thanks, Jess!)

Suddenly I imagined these dinos talking it out and I started to crack myself up, so here you go:

 

xoxoxo!

melissa

458: success?

Hey!

Forsythia is blooming, daffodils are up. I'm so glad  it's spring!

I think I said this before, but I am REALLY digging having weekends off again. I have been painting and gardening and going for rides with my honey.

I did list a few of those paintings from my last post on etsy---using scans, but I haven't photographed them yet and I really need to. It freaks me out. I guess it's like... painting is my true love and if I really give it all I have and it doesn't work...

Well, I guess that means I need to rethink what I want out of it and what 'success' means. Huh, success. That is such a loaded word. I need talk about  the reality of designing, or at least my reality, my experience of it.

People might look at me and think I'm 'successful' or have 'made it' because I have a book, design fabric, have been in magazines and on tv... all of that does kind of blow my mind and I do absolutely give myself credit for it, but it doesn't necessarily make a living, you know? Actually, you might not know.

I guess that's where it gets tricky. Of course I don't think 'success' has to be monetary, but it is caught up with it for sure. I think I need to redefine what I think of as 'success' for myself.

See, it's weird for me because I didn't grow up thinking that success was even an option for me. I struggled so much just to make it through the day in high school. I really can't believe I even graduated( and I STILL have stress dreams that I didn't) --- and I only did because of having the art department as a safe haven.  There was never any talk of college in my house. I was terrified of life. I didn't want to live because I knew, I knew how hard life was going to be for me for a long time--- and I was right. It was really effing hard--- depression, anxiety, just living in my head was torture, paralyzing and devoid of hope. When I look back on it, I am really surprised that I stuck it out. Glad I did.

When I was in high school, all I really thought I would do in life, if I made it after high school, was have some soul-sucking minimum wage job and do my artwork on the side to make myself happy. That's all I ever thought I COULD do. I had confidence in my work, I've always loved to paint and create, and I wasn't shy about sharing it, it's just that I never felt ambition....confidence....hope.

And from 19-26 years old, I did just have random jobs with low pay. Over time, I learned to breathe my way through my anxiety--- not to get rid of it, but to be present with each excruciating moment, to just breathe in and out and rinse and repeat until I could finally just go to sleep and have some relief from the constant fight-or-flight adrenaline and the underlying despair and sadness that I always had.

When Stuart and I got together, so many of my wounds began to heal and I started to grow in confidence. He is a smart guy and he believed in me. So I just tried to trust him and slowly started to believe more in myself. Have you seen the dedication to him in my book? It says something like " For Stuart, for believing in me until I believed im myself." That's what that is about. He changed my life.

I finally started to feel more confident and believe I could do more than just exist and make it through the day. I taught myself Adobe Illustrator for a new position at the embroidery shop where I was a machine operator. I had a skill for the first time! I made a little bit better wage! I was A DESIGNER!

After about a year of designing logos and screenprints, I realized... hey! I can do MY OWN WORK with this new skill! I started researching licensing and for the first time in my life I felt AMBITION. I felt like, "I can totally do that!" And I set out to do it. I felt like my day job was the enemy keeping me from my dream. I somehow managed to convince Stuart that I should quit my job and pursue licensing. This was 2004, I think.

Bad idea.

I always thought that I didn't like structure. I never had any growing up and thought I never wanted any. Wrongo. I was not built for freelance. I was lonely, didn't know how to keep myself on task, not to mention that cold calling manufacturers and being rejected constantly is really hard! I floundered. I had some interest from some companies and a couple of minor successes, but nothing that could even pay half of a bill. Literally. Our household was suffering without me making any money and eventually I (grudgingly!) started working part time again at this random job, then full time at that random job.

I did keep working on designs, and would get motivated from time to time and pursue some companies. I would get rejected, get depressed and give up for a few more months.

In 2007, I got the fabric gig and in 2008 we opened Yummy Goods. (And that is its own whole story! ) As you know, we closed Yummy Goods this winter and now I am back to my old position as the artist at the embroidery shop.

At this point I no longer look at the day job as the enemy. Instead of thinking of it as the thing that KEEPS me from doing the things I love, I think of it as the thing that ALLOWS me to do the things I love.

Here is some truth, for me at least: Sometimes when you try to turn your passion into your work? Sometimes it stops being your passion. So much pressure gets put on it to make money that what used to bring joy becomes a stressful thing. Read that again. Yes, there are exceptions. But I don't think enough of us talk about our own reality to temper the addictive and magical dream of 'making a living doing what we love'.

The internet and all the crafty blogs have perpetuated a really sparkly inspiring narrative about following your bliss. Which is lovely. I needed that pure naive faith to start all of this. In reality, in my experience, it mostly does not pay. For some, of course, it does. The superstars, the celebrities, the ones who were there first, the odd standout. Of course. And that may be you someday and that may be me someday. Of course, have hope. But maybe also see if you can squint a little and see behind the curtain and see that it's not all it's cracked up to be. It's not all sparkly and pretty and success and shoes from "Anthro."

I'm not here to be a dreamcrusher! Do the work that you love, absolutely! But  If I could go back to my 2004 self, I would say, "Sweetie, you have a pretty good gig here. You are good at what you do. You are actually making a respectable living doing design work. Go for your dreams, of course, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD KEEP YOUR DAY JOB!"

Of course, I wouldn't have taken my own advice. I was stubborn, I was determined, I was sure I could make it work somehow. What I didn't realize is that EVEN IF I HAD, licensing is a very slow way to make a dime. Also, it is not a dime, it is a nickel at best.Again, yes, people do it and some people do make a decent (or better) living at it and I am still trying to and hoping to (I think??) but it is not like you get a fabric line and a book deal and you know make a yearly income that allows you to quit your day job. Nope, not even close.

Why am I compelled to write about this? What do I have to gain from it? Nothing, really. I guess I just want to unburden myself. I wish people were more open about this stuff. I know. it's hard.  I mean, we all want to look good, we all want to come across as successful and maybe if that magazine that we hope features us, or that potential licesing partner reads what we've written, maybe we won't look so hot....

well.... i mean, eff that.  I'm probably in a better position to write so openly about it because from the beginning I have always been forthcoming about my hard times. I kind of think of my honesty as part of my 'brand' , rather than conflicting with it. But even for me, it's still hard to write a post like this because ...I don't know, I guess I don't want to come across as bitter or discouraging or self pitying--- because it's not like that (though i certainly do have my moments!) 

It's more like I want to let you know we are all in this together. Do you ever get jealous reading about that person's new licensing gig, or that person won that award, or this person is featured on that prestigious whatever ??? ME TOO!  Even if we look like we have all that stuff going on ourselves, and even if, like me, we do give ourselves credit and appreciate how far we've come, we still suffer from jealousy, envy, rejection, struggling to pay the bills, wondering what the EFF we are doing with our lives.

At least, I hope it's not just me.

xo, nervously,

melissa

ps

i still have so much more i want to say about this! i will probably touch more on this soon.

***edited the next day to add this little poster. feel free to print it out as a reminder!

I hope my hard-won perspective helps a few folks take some of the pressure off!

xoxox

 

457: painting birds and stones

I have been painting like crazy, which is awesome because it is one of my favorite things to do.

I will be doing some more of the beachy Cap-Cod inspired stuff for galleries, but for this week I am just playing and going with whatever comes out.

I am a little bit escared to say this out loud, but I am planning to list these on etsy when they are done.

yeah, birds and stone shapes. what can i say? that's what's coming through!

sometimes with melty flowers:

 

sometimes with brainwaves:

but sometimes still houses show up:

and lots of layers and scratchiness, of course:

and

every

now

and

then...

a unicorn:

I  am hoping to finish them up this weekend and list them next week. Will keep you posted!

xoxo

m

 

 

456: i'm not a gym rat, i'm a gym unicorn

Hey, you guys! I miss you!

I just couldn't blog my way through the shop closing: it was too damn depressing. If we hang out together on facebook or twitter, then you know what I mean. I flailed, I was graceless, I was sad, I was mad, I was tired, I was self-pitying, I was cranky as hell.

We had great last holiday push ---- my customers are were wonderful and so sweet to me.  I will miss them. After New Years, we cleaned up and cleared out for the end of January. I should say Stuart cleared out and cleaned up. (Thank you, babe.) I tried, but I pretty much either became filled with crackling rage or dissolved into a pool of tears when I tried to do anything there.

Yeah, good times.

Aren't you glad I spared you?

Well, it's all over now  and I am starting to emerge from my self-imposed hibernation.

I am working part time at my old day job---- I'm the in-house artist at an embroidery and screenprinting shop. Pretty much the rest of the day I am the gym.

For realsies.

I knew I would kinda fall apart without something positive to focus on after the shop closed, and my stress and sadness was pretty high, so I thought it would be really good for me to focus on my health and fitness for a while while I'm recovering from the heartbreak.

So far, so good! I am going to start blogging about what I am up to---- I hope you will enjoy it and maybe join me in kicking some A!

For motivation and inspiration, I started a pinterest board called BadAss-piration. Like "Thinspiration", but not creepy. I post cute workout clothes, pics of women that motivate me to get my butt to the gym, quotes that I like, etc.

I also started a tumblr called yummyfitness, where I post my own illustrated or lettered pictures and quotes. I can't decide where I want to do my fitness bloggin', so for now I will do a little here and a little over there. Sometimes they will cross over, I'm sure. Bear with me while I figure it out!

This was my first tumblr post:

I really need to do an illustration for that!

In other news, yes, I am working on more fabric! And I may have a silly book idea percolating up in my brainbox.

And, yes,  I am still loving on the Hot British Guys. My current fave is Jason Isaacs--- or as I like to call him: Hot Lucius.

I had always disliked him -----since way back when he was in The Patriot! But this fall I caught him in Case Histories and he totally won me over.

I've done a fair bit of pinning in his honor.

Well, I just wanted to poke in and say hi and tell you that I miss you and I'm still alive and I am taking good care of myself. I will be around more often now.

Thank you so much for all of your love and support.

xoxox

melissa

 

455: sad news

Oh, friends.

I'm closing up my sweet little gift shop on Cape Cod after three years in business.

(Yes, we'll be open and fully stocked through the holiday season, so I'm hoping to see you around  if you are local!)

Let me tell you how this came about, ok?

Well, you know that it's been hard going for a while. I mean, I started working a part time job a year ago to be able to keep the shop open. And then you know about how it was a rough summer.

Within days of writing that summer post, I was offered an opportunity to take over a local gallery, a well established, succesful business in a prime location. My ship was sinking and I jumped on that life raft. We decided to close Yummy Goods and move into this bigger and better opportunity in January of 2012. September and the first half of October were spent talking, writing up points for a contract, looking at all the details and possibilities, negotiating. We took a little bit of a break around the wedding, naturally.

The day after the wedding, Stuart and I had our first big discussion as husband and wife: is this really the right move for me? If we took away the  money part --- and there did seem to be a great possibility of finally making some --- is it really what I want to do?The answer was no. I didn't want to run someone else's business. What I love about having a shop is that it's my shop, my vision. The point was to make money doing what I love, and if it's not what I love I'm not going to be able to stay excited about it and put my heart into it.

Sigh.

Cue the dollar signs in my eyes turning into cloud puffs.

It was definitely the right decision not to go forward with the gallery. I feel good about that.

But now what? We had already decided to close Yummy Goods. It felt ok when it was to move on to something concrete and seemingly better. But now? Just closing? That's a whole other thing.

But we have to, sadly. The location is just not right for us. Not enough traffic, too out-of-the-way. Can we change locations? Sure. Eventually. But if I am going to pour my heart into something again the way I have with my shop,  we need to be pragmatic about it. So, we do plan to have a shop again someday, somewhere. But we aren't going to jump right back into an across-the-sea voyage in a leaky boat, you know? I need to regroup.

But first, I need to grieve and get through the next couple of months of running the shop. Christmas is the only time we've done well, so we are going to finish up our time there fully stocked and ready. Oh you guys, it's so much fun when it's busy and people come in who get it. I will miss it so much.

I'm sure sometimes I will feel really down about it, sometimes I will feel ready to let it go so something better can take its place. I want to honor what it has been to me and to the community that has developed around it. I want to acknowledge and celebrate the parts if it that were succesful and learn from what wasn't. I want to make a scrapbook of it. I want to have a party there.

After almost a month of tumbling into the abyss (starting the day after my wedding! my poor husband!), I am finally beginning to resurface. I am listing some of my jewelry online, starting here on my own site for now and eventually I will incorporate etsy in to the mix.

I will be adding paintings and drawings.

I will make up and list some fabric bundles, maybe even some supply packs or destash, maybe something of a Yummy Goods Flea to share my secondhand finds.

I think I might list some gift bundles too, stuff from my shop for those of you who don't live around here.

Also, I'm going to try to do this:

Over the next couple of months, I will share my process about all of this. Thank you for being here with me. Your support is huge, seriously. I'm not just saying that to be nice. I get a lot of support, strength and understanding from you guys.

So don't go anywhere, ok?

 

xo,

melissa

(amazing photography by my pal Stacey Hedman, from a shoot we did in August)

453: ceremony, flowers, officiant and fun facts

We wanted someone we knew to perform the wedding ceremony, so we asked the lovely Beth Dunn if she would do the honors.

I'm sure she will go into some fun detail on her own blog about the official paperwork and character references and gold seals she had to deal with to get the one day commission to do our ceremony! (Plus the lovely, dainty pulsewarmer mitts that she made for me, but it was too hot for me to wear them!) Thanks, Beth!

Fun Fact #1: On the Intent To Wed form, Hobo Porch was listed as the facility name and location of the ceremony.

In the picture below, Stuart and I stare/gaze at each other as Beth makes some welcoming remarks to the other five people in attendance: My good friend Su, Stuart's good friend from high school, Bill, and Stuart's three kids, Meredith, Camille and Zach. (Did I do those commas right? That's a hard one.)

It was avery short ceremony. Probably no more than three minutes with the pauses and recitation and laughing! We wanted it to be really simple, so kept it short, sweet and to the point.

I love that we have this shot:

Stuart will be chagrinned that I am telling you this, but the very best part of the wedding was when he got all choked up while saying his vows after putting the ring on my finger. Oh my god, best moment ever. It was like we all held our breath while he gathered himself enough to say the words. My eyes were brimming and my heart was soaring. Love that guy.

And here is when I had to literally shove the ring over his knuckle!

That's Bill's hand there, offering some drips of water to help!

Fun Fact #2: I totally forgot to use my bouquet until well after the ceremony!

 

 Isn't it pretty?

Fuschia and orange roses, dark pink heather and a few stargazer lilies.

(Arrangement by my friend from bikram yoga, Michelle Tokzco who works at Vintage Flowers in Osterville.)

Fun Fact #3 Beth had to tell me "hold your horses" when I leaned in to kiss Stuart after the vows!

And then I finally got my kiss after she pronounced us husband and wife:

Fun Fact #4 Right after hugs went around, I turned to Stuart and said, "Holy shit! We're married!"

Mr. Stuart Schulman and Melissa Averinos-Schulman:

Oh, yeah, the boutonniere! Isn't it great?

Here I am before the ceremony attempting not to skewer my husband-to-bewhile pinning it to him:

Oh my god, he is so cute!

...................................................

And now for some miscellaneous pics!

 

Me and Stuart and the kids: Meredith, Camille, and Zach:

Me and my fiend, Beth:

(Beth, even you have to admit that this is a lovely photo of us!)

Me and my honey:

And Bill, who jumped in front of the camera saying "PHOTO OP!"

Me and my honey again, goofing:

Just a couple more posts about it to come, including the food and Su, decorations and dress! The blog is pretty much going to be our wedding album, so bear with me!

xoxox

melissa

(photos by Beth Dunn, Su Wasseluk and Meredith Schulman)