Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm dreaming... of a DARK Christmas.

I don't know about y'all but I'm thoroughly enjoying my Christmas season so far.  

The key was getting all my shopping done sooo early - pretty much right at the start of December AS INDICATED BY MY WINTER BUCKET LIST WAY TO GO, SAUCY!  I have zero stress and have spent way less money overall since holiday shopping is usually a "one for you, two for me" event.  Now I'm spending that money on charity!

And socks.

Not my feet but whoever's feetsies these are remains unknown
I don't know why I'm addicted to socks and legwarmers this season but I am.  Maybe have toasty warm lower extremities is the reason I'm so sunshiney right now.  

That and I'm spending all my not-shopping time crafting and listening to Luther Vandross Christmas music.  It's a recipe for spiritual success, I tell ya.  My preferred Christmas music is, surprisingly, gospel and Tevin Campbell's 'O Holy Night' is my favorite holiday song hands down.  I might be a godless heathen but who can resist a full choir and an early 90's R&B sensation?  

But even Luther Vandross' smooth velvet voice may not be enough for some people.  Look, I get it.  Christmas is not everyone's favorite time of year and it can be a real shit show triggerfest of misery for a lot of people.  It's all about family and money and display and religion and religious display and that's everyone's perfect storm of emotional issues with some crippling financial debt sprinkled on top and you have to pretend to love it all or you are labeled a grinch.  (Probably by me.)  

I'm certainly not immune to my own brand melancholy this time of year either despite my large amounts of glitter and feeling like I want to hug everything.  An overly tacky light show or a nice lady in a Santa hat at Big Lots might reduce me to tears and I'm not 100% sure they're always tears of joy.  

Whatever kind of melancholy or emotional trapeze work we're all doing, it's not all jolly all the time.  Maybe this is why I've been enjoying the recent rise in popularity of another sunshiney Christmas face: Krampus.

In old European folklore, St. Nick came and rewarded all the good kids and Krampus, his horned holiday partner, kidnapped all the bad kids took them straight to hell.  I guess... I don't know where he took them but that's a pretty good guess.  Maybe the South Pole?

Doesn't that sounds a lot more exciting than Elf on the Shelf?  Europeans did not fuck around.  

Every year in the beginning of December some European towns celebrate Krampusnacht where drunk dudes dress up in their most beastly attire and terrorize the streets in a big parade.  Just like baby Jesus would have wanted!  Maybe they were trying to get to the manger but got lost.  

It's like SantaCon but less scary.

I'm liking this live action kind of Christmas terror.  It's the perfect combination of Halloween and Christmas.  It worked for Tim Burton and it can work for us too.

Speaking of Halloween, I also learned recently of the Christmas spider - do y'all know this Ukrainian story?  About how spiders spun webs all over a poor woman's Christmas tree and when Santa (or the Christ child, depending on which version you read) saw the webs he turned them into silver strands.  And that's why we put tinsel on our tree.  True (internet) story.  Spiders are actually a sign of good fortune on Christmas morning so put THAT in your eggnog and drink it.

So maybe the key to an enjoyable holiday that doesn't make you question your worthless existence (if you even choose to celebrate) is to not pretend the sadness and dark places and gross spiders don't exist but instead to embrace them like Santa's other half and maybe give them a parade.  For historical reasons and our own sanity. Like Civil War reenactors but for mythology.  (Probably shouldn't embrace a spider though.)

So that's what I'm doing this year - having a dark Christmas.  It's still glittery and shiny and fun but I'm making an effort to have more balance.

(That's partly because I still have a giant tree all decorated in white and sparkle that I'm not trashing just for a completely goth holiday this year.)

(Just a goth Rudolph.)

Looking straight into your black soul.

I'm highlighting plenty of skulls and horns and fur as part of my dark decorating but I think including quiet, velvety colors and morose Instagram filters will work just as nicely.

Elle Chavez
Perhaps celebrate your tacky, pathetic tree.  Then abandon it in the wild. 


Or don't decorate at all and stare longingly through your neighbor's window and watch their festivities and happy lives like the neighborhood creeper you are. 

Perhaps delight in your garden variety death and decay.

But if all that ain't your bag just enjoy some blackened jewel tones and dulcet sounds of Luther Vandross and drink egg nog spiked with Fireball until you black out.

Saffron cinnamon wreath (yum!) via Call Me Cupcake
I would like to eat this until I black out as well.  I've never cooked with saffron but even if it's terrible a satin ribbon can do wonders.

It's all about the lighting.  

Skimbaco Lifetyle
And snuggles next to the lighting.

Khado Photography
I am kinda feeling this wintery picnic idea (don't question the green grass).  It's like a Dutch still life brought to, um, real life.  It's full of dying flowers and skulls and pewter finishes and candles but also a yummy festive feast!

Lara Jensen millinery works
Merry Christmas, sad Dutch girl!

[MS sidebar: after I had collected all the images for this post I discovered the photographer above, Lara Jensen, was inspired by 'vanitas' or Dutch still life paintings for this collection and photo shoot.  Zing!  I like synchronicity.  It makes me feel like I'm not crazy.  Or crazy in the right ways.]

So a momento mori/vanitas holiday it is!

Beth Kirby of Local Milk
I don't remember art history that well but I think everything in a still life meant something... skull is mortality (thanks overpriced college degree for that stunning deduction!), rotting flowers meant something... timely?  Citrus meant something too but I'm choosing to be blissfully ignorant here and celebrate citrus for its seasonal charm instead.  #pomanders

You know what else has seasonal charm?  Crocheted ornaments from your memaw starched so stiff they could be used as ninja throwing stars.  I love them. I'm not sure how Krampus feels about them but I think he'd approve.

Do you see the yule goat on the right? here
Actually, I'm not sure how I got from Krampus to Luther Vandross to Dutch still life to your memaws talents but it all makes sense in my head.

More satin bows...  For some reason these limp bows are making me exceptionally happy and/or sad this year.  Or am I the only one that is projecting picking up some emotion here kinda like crying at the nice Christmas lady at Big Lots?  It's a weird time of year.

Regardless of your feelings about satin bows, cheers to making all our lonely, depressed, overtaxed, overfed and undervalued moments have a little color.  It's our holiday prayer this year.  

Who do we pray to?  Krampus, obvi.

Soho Interiors
Or to the Pinterest gods that all our crafts and saffron bread wreaths will turn out divine.

Go home and get your dark on.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Alert the social media, I HAVE CRAFTED!  After last week's post on wreaths I kinda committed myself so I couldn't risk the embarrassment of failure.  ESPECIALLY around the holidays.  Santa would have been so disappointed.

Fortunately I have a fellow wreath-minded friend - Emily Rose - with a great property for foraging so a craft date was set.  We both foraged our respective yards and met for toast, christmas music and greenery sharing.

I was greeted with homemade jam and this upon my arrival:

Just a bathtub full of ivy, naturally.  Where else would you put it?

I wanted to go for a free-form simple wreath so no ivy for me.  I started with a piece of privet because fuck privet I hate it.  And of course this happened:

Fuck privet.  YOU ARE GOOD FOR NOTHING.  So it was too stiff (that's what she said) and I cracked it in half while trying to work it around (WHAT SHE SAID).

New plan.  I was already going to use cypress foliage so I just used the entire branch instead.  Duh.

Well lah di dah I made a circle!  I just wrapped floral wire around the ends and called it a day.  I did have to gently GENTLY coax/mold the thick part of the branch around to help with the shape just so it wouldn't pull that tightly on the wire.  I'm assuming most evergreens would be this easy to use at this time of year.  And you may need to take off some of the smaller stems on top to clean it up.  Business up top, party on the bottom.  Mullet wreath.

If you're looking to make a specific size of wreath my wreath is about 13 inches in diameter so my branch base to tip was somewhere over 40 inches.  I don't need anything that specific but if you do then don't forget 2(pi)Radius of desired wreath = length of branch.  MATH!  so handy for life's more important situations!

Back to things that are actually fun and interesting: rainbows and nandina!

Nandina foliage and berries look great right now so I mowed down a bunch from my yard and attached them with a small bit of floral wire too.  I think I threw in a small sprig of pine too and ended up with this:

Wonky and wonderful!  Well, close enough.  Maybe it needs a trim on that right side but overall I'm super happy with.  Honestly, excluding the time it took me to murder the privet at the beginning and for eating more toast I think it probably took about 20 minutes?  I bet I could knock one out in about ten minutes now that I have the magic technique.

That was so easy I decided to make another one since we were already destroying the kitchen.
Thanks for letting me ruin your house in the name of greenery, Emily.  That's one branch on the form FYI.
In case you didn't know, critters live in branches.  Every year when I decorate my mantel with cypress I always make a few new friends in the form of some teensy tiny spiders so you're forewarned.  Sometimes they're the tiny white/clear spiders which I think are kinda cute.  Your call.

I stole one of Emily's wire wreath forms - super cheap and reusable - you can see above and decided to do a fluffier option using more of the cypress base.  

I used about three long branches which were really easy to wire into the form.  I added some more nandina, some holly, a bit of cedar and pine and a few sprigs of dried crape myrtle buds.  

I didn't really even wire most of the extras on since they stuck in place fairly well.  Also, that holly is an absolute beast to work with so I was tired of getting my cuticles pierced.

Pardon the sad picture (hey, it was dark and I'm clumsy) but I'm definitely enjoying the final product: 

Ok it was actually a more round shape to start with but I when I closed the front door after hanging it the plastic hook broke and it tumbled to the ground...  Whoopsy.  Fortunately I think if I give it a haircut on the right side it'll be fine.

I also added these post-Christmas 2013 clearance sale antlers for even more hipster credibility.  I feel so 2013 relevant!  I think I also might add in some fresh rosemary the next time I'm outside in the daylight.  Perhaps even an LED faux candle?!  I'm gettin' outrageous over here.

But it ain't all about me.  Emily made this super adorable wreath for her exterior windows:

This is a wire base like mine above but with ivy and cedar.  I love how the cedar is hairy like a muppet wreath.  What I love even more is the "bow" made out of magnolia leaves and finished with some nandina berries.  That is so damn genius.

She also did a large wreath outside using a grapevine base with ivy, cedar and cypress with equally impressive results. 

This one is about 36 inches wide and I don't think it took her more than an hour just tucking branches into the grapevine. Super easy.  Again, I bet once you've figured out your system the wreaths will go pretty fast.

From Emily's Instagram
It's like we're in Vermont!  

So even including the extra wonk on these wreaths and the cuticle stabs from the holly overall I was super stoked about the project.  I would absolutely make them again next year and maybe even do more this year.  I can't stop.  

I mean, it's essentially free, smells good and it's quite possibly the most Christmasy thing you can do other than prove to Santa in sensual detail how naughty you've been.

But only if you like gift-giving older men more than crafts.

Shit, don't we all?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Into the Woods

Happy start to your Glittermas, friends!  I hope you had a happy, meaty day last week and your bowels are back on schedule.  I had a lovely houseful of guests and pie.  I also accidentally stepped on an earring post and completely pierced my foot with a gold stud and then I slipped and fell in the shower in full shower curtain-grabbing, feet-over-the-head cartoon style.  So like a normal weekend.  Good thing I got that tetanus shot recently.  

I quickly forgot my tortured body because I soaked some frozen peaches from this summer in Fireball and sweet baby Blue Ivy that shit was good.  Put them on ice cream or pie or on a spoon and then into your mouth immediately.

Now the shower bruises are fading, the drunk peaches are gone and I finally froze the rest of the Thanksgiving leftovers so I guess we're fully committed to the celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Capitalism, right now.

Just kidding I fucking love Christmas and already have all my presents bought!  Sadly my tree and house aren't even decorated yet because I've been busy this week prepping for a presentation tomorrow.  I'm going to teach a group of local 6th grade girls about design principles!  First I had to teach myself what the principles of design are so this should go great. 

Once I've learned those young, impressionable minds I can get back to the true reason of the season: CRAFTING!  I'm already knocking out my winter bucket list!

My major crafting goal this holiday season is to make a wreath.  
Cute lookbook here
Just like this future selfie I took of my beautiful future self and gorgeous wreath I future made.

Or maybe a swag if I realize I suck at making circles.
Kinfolk via sfgirlbybay
But I'm going to aim high first.

Geomorphic Designs Etsy
Or aim for SLEEPING DEER AND MUSHROOMS SO ADORABLE.  I feel like I would err on the side of zombie Santa Claus over deer but we're just gathering ideas.

Nicole Franzen
This is cute and simple - I think I could fake boxwood for privet?  I have lots of those.  I don't have a cute black door but I'm working on it for Spring.  Christmas 2015 here we come!

But I think I want to go even more natural and foraged straight from the best craft store: the forest.  That way if it looks like shit I'll just say it was on purpose because I'm going for that hipster vibe.

Twine is fine.

This looks super cute and relatively easy.  But why do I feel I'll be crying and trying to make a noose out of floral wire soon?  

This looks like sage and lavender and leather which is amazing and the new name of my desert perfume store and saddlery. 

I also like this look of just throwing together a wreath in an abandoned warehouse.  There's probably a used syringe just waiting for you in there.  Merry Christmas you have a dangerous bloodborne pathogen but isn't the bow nice?!

designlovefest DIY
I most definitely do not have the skills for these but I bet one of you do and you should do it and show me how.

Fox Fodder Farms via Nicole Franzen
I think I want to do something like this - it's wonky and random and looks like it came through the washing machine already.

Last two via Amy Merrick
Put a limp bow on anything and it's immediately hip.  Wire edge ribbon is so fifteen years ago.  You know who likes wire ribbon?  The same people who keep doing these live action musicals on NBC I mean damn.

So limp, wonky and foraged is definitely the hot way to go.  In wreaths and in personalities.  

I'm going to a friend's foresty property this weekend to gather all the limpest and hippest greenery I can find and tame into a round shape.

But if it fails I can always just tie some rosemary together and call it a day.

Wish me luck!  I'll show the hopefully sad and wonky results next week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This makes me exceedingly happy.

Unknown source but I would really like to know for obvious reasons...
May you enjoy a robust Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving or normal Thursday that's as glorious as this once great emu.  



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Knitwear for a horny 18th century bird.

As promised, I'm giving us an image dump of Outlander knits after yesterday's bucket list.  I feel warmer just compiling these images.  And I hope y'all have seen the show because it's rull good and I've been waiting about 20 years for it.  That is not an exaggeration I started reading these books in the 90s.  

The unexpected star of the show is of course the sex knitwear.  Now, I don't foresee me learning to crochet or knit this winter - it's a bucket list not a fantasy list - but I DO foresee me wearing lots of infinity scarves JUST like 18th century Scots did in a totes historically accurate fashion.  

I mean, did they even have infinity scarves?  I don't really know or care.

Look at Geillis' felted knit cape thingy too... here
They also seem to have infinity cowls made of fur...

I mean, damn.  And WITH wrist warmers?  It's too much.  

 Wrist warmers and a cape must only be worn astride a horse.  It's Scottish law.  Or Anthropologie's new catalog.  Either way they can have all my money.

 And you thought you were over the plaid this year... tsk, tsk...  

I strongly recommend fellow enthusiasts check out the blog of the costume designer, Terry Dresbach, for behind-the-scenes info and process details.  The accompanying forums are really good for more in depth information and fun discussions on things like feminism in the series and how the show got started (Terry is wife to Ron Moore - the show's producer of Battlestar Galactica fame).

But back to important things: LAYERING AND KNITWEAR.

I feel like this actress, Caitriona Balfe, is actually an elegant swan wearing delicate doll sweaters around her dainty avian wrists.  Somehow I get the feeling I'd look like a fat quail in sweatbands.

Maybe THAT'S my winter look.  Quail normcore.

Sadly google did not have a corresponding picture to put with this but I did find a sassy shrug.

Brown never looked so good.


Naturally I'm not the only one who went gaga over the clothes and knits because a quick search will pop up tons of articles which is the reason why this became its own post.  I couldn't stop!  

But the real winner here is etsy where you can get patterns to do yourself or take the lazy way out like a normal person and buy other people's hard work.  Find the chunky cowl/infinity scarf here, the arm warmers here, the cute collared capelet here, the shrug here and a million other variations and sellers.

Etsy wasn't much help for the great fur-lined riding jacket here but I think fur is enough places this year that you should be fine.
Or you could always update it a little like this jazzy lady:

Vogue Sept 2014 here
I like the Outlander-meets-Studio 54 vibe.  Let's all take a moment and imagine Fat Quail in Sad Disco for a second.

So glorious...

And if knitwear isn't enough to make you happy there's always this:

"Haha those sweatbands are delightful, Sassenach."

"I'm feeling chilled can I borrow your infinity scarf?"

"Damn girl your woolen shrug got me jacked let's do this."

Show returns in April.  How many orgasms knits can you fill your life with between now and then?