Monday, December 28, 2009

I really love to wrap presents

oh, yeah, I love to wrap presents.

I am crap at picking out presents. It's odd to me, because in general, I think I am a very perceptive person, and pick up on the hidden traits and likes and dislikes in the people around me, especially the people I love. I pick up on all the little emotional cues in their faces and mannerisms that many people seem blind to. And yet all of these details and accumulated information go out the window the second I try to choose a present for someone. They're lucky if they end up with a giftcard or something insultingly functional that they need. In short, I am crap at picking presents.

But I love to wrap them:

It gives me unbelievable joy to wrap presents. All year I hoard ribbon, tissue paper, bows and cards, and make several trips to the store for totally unnecessary Christmas wrap. I am unbelievably picky in my choices, because not just anything will do. I touch, weigh, and even sniff each paper, looking for the perfect combination of ribbon, bow, and wrap. Yup, I am a wrapping freakazoid.

I didn't have much to wrap this year, since I didn't go home, but I did manage to purchase a few odds and ends for the wonderful family that let me spend Christmas with them. The presents, of course, were ridiculously functional - like warm Christmas socks or towels for my roomies. But the wrapping of them resulted in pure joy (for me) nevertheless. :)

I think about the last days of this year, and about the time I've spent in New York. I love that it snowed before Christmas, and that all the ebullient whiteness stuck around for the holidays. It's long since turned to mush and slithered down the sewers with the cold rain.

I bought fuzzy boots to keep me warm in the cold snap, and I really don't know how I functioned before that:

I guess I just thought it was normal to shiver uncontrollably when you're outside. :)

The end of this year makes me think of so much. I think of my family, who I miss. I think of all the people I've lost, and feel grateful for all the things that I've learned. I marvel at the fact that I'm still writing a novel - that's the thought that actually makes me happiest. But most of all, I marvel that I'm here - in this city, in a job I enjoy, with so many friends online and new (real) people I've met. I feel incredibly blessed.

I wish all of these things for you in this chilly New Year. I still have no New Year's plans - how about you?

How will you be ringing in the New Year? I need some ideas! ;)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Floss, floss, floss

lovely colors

I love floss. To me, it's like playing with crayons, but with the added softness, sheen, and texture of fabric. And when you sniff it, it doesn't smell waxy and gross (depending upon where you store it, that is). :)

I already have an entire set of Presencia floss, carefully stowed away in a white binder and glossy page protectors:
wines, burgundies and magentas?

Yeah, I'm like a comic book nerd, but with floss. Actually I'm like a comic book nerd in a lot of equally disturbing ways. But let's not go there. So anyway, the Presencia floss is mine, all mine and I ain't sharing it with nobody. You gotta pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. :)

So I went shopping for surprise prizes for Feeling Stitchy a few days ago, in the DMC floss aisle. Now, one of the reasons I spent such a long time there was, I couldn't find ANY of the colors I was looking for. The other reason was I had to stare at each and every color. That gave me the strength of will not to purchase each and every color. :)

more lovely colors

And I have to say, that even though they rarely have the floss colors I am looking for, I really love my local craft store. It's tucked away in this really decrepit-looking alley / street just behind Broadway and Canal. The surrounding shopfronts are covered with graffiti and rusty security gates, all of which make me feel like I'm in a 1970's movie set in New York and some thug is about to pop out of a darkened corner and grab my purse / do kung fu on me. :) Yes, it's the little things that give me pleasure...

Also, the employees are so laid back and nice. Every time I go there, I have a conversation (rare for me, in New York). This time, for example, a really kind-looking guy asked me if I was finding what I needed, so I waved my little list and said, "Nope." He laughed and we chatted about the most popular floss colors. He explained that the last shipment took almost a month to arrive, and when it did, the reds "walk out of here like they have legs on them." And the 310 black, just disappears. Then I listened to the 4 of them discuss something regarding a mule or a burro at the register, and although I left with only 2 out of (literally) 40 items on my list, I left happy. It's the little things, I guess. :)

Because at least I had this:
lovely palette

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cute Loot

my ornie

So here's the cute loot I scored at the Etsy booth on Sunday (when I didn't have my camera, as you may recall)... I made this cute little ornament from a free kit they had at the booth. I sat down with their shiny silver shears and complimentary thread, but since I'm hardcore, I totally had my own needle on hand. :) Yeah, I really hope they didn't think I was stealing their needle, I always come prepared to embroider. :)

Now, as if it wasn't enough that they provided materials to make your own ornament, you could even take a kit with you. Or, 2, in my delighted case, because I swore I'd be giving them away:

You want to take a closer look at that bear? Yeah, I know you do. But be careful, because he's so flipping cute, he could hurt you.
bear ornie

They also had these cute gift tags on hand:
gift tags from Etsy

I had to ask "is this free?" a few times before I really believed it.

Then I headed to the Hello Craft booth next door which boasted an entire table of crafts you could sit down and make. I settled for a few bookmarks with Craft Pudding stamps:
bookmarks I made

I'm thinking I'll add all of this to the Holiday giveaway on Feeling Stitchy - just hoping I can squish them down enough to travel cheaply... :)

Have you guys gone to any good craft / holiday fairs yet? Scored any awesome free stuff? Met any cool peeps?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rainy day in NYC

It never fails that I never have my camera around when I truly need it. Like today, for instance, when I went to the One of a Kind sale at Pier 94, a collection of booths from crafters and skilled makers and award-winning Etsy sellers. But what really caught and held my attention were the 2 booths at the very front - Hello Craft's booth, which had a cozy table filled with craft ideas that you could make, for free, and take home with you, and the Etsy booth which boasted supplies for making the most flippin' adorable handmade ornaments you've ever seen in your life. You doubt me? Well, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow, when I can actually photograph the cute little suckers. Because if a slug was passing by, then I'd have my camera ready, or if I needed to photograph other charmingly inanimate objects... but when I really need it... oh, never mind my complaining.

And, thanks to the kind person manning the booth, I have 2 little kits that I oh, just might add as surprise gifts to the Feeling Stitchy giveaway.

Have you signed up for that yet? No? Well, get over there! You have until early tomorrow morning to enter, so snap to it! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Monkey Advent

Mitten advent calendar

Thanks for your help calibrating my monitor! I know I probably still don't have it right, but it's a start. I at least took down the ultraviolet-white brightness on my monitor to more normal levels. :) Up above you see my one and only holiday project this season - and hey, I'm cool with that.

You may recognize the little felt mittens (depending on how long you've been following me) from last year, when I started them:

mittens stacked up

I needed a quick project to for my plane ride to Texas last year. This year, I'll be staying in NYC for the first time (unless you count my first year, when I accidentally stayed here because my plane left without me. I don't. I try to block that out, actually.)

this  monkey encourages you to celebrate advent

I actually learned about the meaning of Advent for the first time this year. We never really celebrated it in my family, but it's an interesting and beautiful celebration. In any case, the monkey is just hanging around - he really doesn't know a thing about Advent, to tell the truth.

Although my room is small, I still tried to add a bit of holiday cheer...

Oh, and this is from a walk I took a week ago, I like the way it mirrors the same colors as the ornaments...

Do any of you celebrate Advent? And how many of you are going home for Christmas? I'd like to think I'm not the only one not going home... :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Monkey needs to calibrate my monitor

monkey advent

Ok guys, I really need your help on this one. I have a brand new PC laptop at home (because my 5 year old Mac finally bit it). I'm having a really hard time getting used to the brightness and color settings on it, so I need your help "calibrating" my monitor. :)

Ok, so that pic above - is it too dark and contrast-y, or is it just right?

Compare to this image:
Please help me calibrate my monitor!

Does that one look too light and washed out to you? Basically, depending on how I adjust my screen settings, one or the other looks perfect to me. It's really driving me crazy. Help!

Maybe only I can see the difference? Here they are smaller:

1.monkey advent
2.Please help me calibrate my monitor!