Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mexican Train

I love the holidays because old friends come back into town and friends who live close by have more free time than usual and extra incentive to do fun stuff because of the unusual out-of-town guests! Nothing but parties and good food for weeks on end, very nice.

Tonight was one of those - homemade individual pizza pies and silly movies (The Princess Bride and Elf) and then a game that's new to me! And lots of fun!

It's called Mexican Train and it rocks! And . . . no . . . I don't know why it's called Mexican Train. We pondered the name while playing. We are not sure it is PC. We think it makes innocent game-playing statements sound kind of racist. We think this is funny, because my friends are generally not the sort of people who make racist comments. Does anyone out there know why the game is called Mexican Train? People need to know. Our best guess is that it was created way back when by someone in Mexico, and whoever they are, they rock, because it is awesome.

Basically, it's a dominoes game. The domino tiles go up to a double-twelve and down to a double-blank. There's a round for each of the doubles; first placing the double-twelve and playing off of it, next round off the double-eleven, etc. You can play with two players (apparently, but I think it's more fun with at least four people, and best the way we played, with teams of two). In addition to playing off your own line, matching like to like, you can start "Mexican Trains" off the in-between spaces and anyone can play off those. There are details of how to close other railroad lines down and what to do with doubles etc. but you can learn those if/when you play.

The fun part is having a buddy to discuss strategy with - you can arrange linking railroad lines of domino to domino and consider various moves several plays out. Very social, simple enough rules but involves strategy and luck - good game! I recommend checking it out, especially because it really can accommodate up to eight players. That's unusual in board or card games and nice around the holidays.

Tip: We're pretty sure points are counted against you (like in golf) and not for you, as we played. Hmm, maybe we should have read the instructions . . .

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Well, Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me has been all over the gosh darn place, and for awhile at that. I had it on my hold list for the Boulder Public Library, but last night I caved and bought it. I know, Dear Reader, the power that books have over me is not altogether healthy. And definitely not normal.

But, I did have a birthday gift card to spend AND I bought it at the Boulder Bookstore. Which is local. So back off, yo.

So like I said, everyone and their puppy is gushing about this book. I must say, I too enjoyed it. Although, for the record, I called the plot on page 98. But, I am the psycho who correctly deduced the Snape relationship from HP 3 (yes THAT relationship). Really. None of the other books were out yet, just Azkaban in hardcover. And I have witnesses who remember me going on and on about my theory: Harry's eyes, and Voldemort telling her to get out of the way, and WHY WOULD HE DO THAT, HMM? They thought I was crazy at the time, but oh ho ho - I showed them.

Off topic.

When You Reach Me is soooo grood. Like all the other reviewers out there, I want to keep my mouth mostly shut about it, because it's so much fun to just jump in and discover the story. I love the way Stead writes dialogue, I love her sense of humor, I love her awareness of how much children and teenagers are aware of, I love New York in the 70s, all of it. And of course, I love the references to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, a classic if ever there was one. And, just to really make me love it, she gives us a character who is a bona fide gifted kiddo, with the shitshow that comes along with that. Here's an excerpt of the main character, Miranda, discussing A Wrinkle in Time with gifted kiddo, Marcus:

He picked up my book from the table and flipped through it. "Actually I had almost the same conversation with my teacher right after I read this. She didn't understand me at first either."
"She? Mr. Anderson is a he. You don't really notice much about people, do you?"
"Not Mr. Anderson. This was in second grade. I wrote a book report about it."
"In second grade?"
p. 52

Actually, I think A Wrinkle in Time is perfectly reasonable for a strong second grade reader. I think it should be reread regularly later though, to really appreciate it.

When You Reach Me, on the other hand, is maybe best to read for the first time between 9 and 13; that adolescent inbetweeny time when you start figuring out the world, and money, and friends, and love. In a way, it's sort of like a tween version of The Catcher in the Rye
- Stead perfectly captures a snapshot of growing up, that time when the world shifts and is never the same again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Auschwitz Sign Located and Recovered

I heard a story yesterday on NPR that the famous Arbeit Macht Frei (literally work makes/equals freedom, or "work will set you free") sign over the entrance to Auschwitz was stolen. Completely freaked me out and made me super pissed off, so I sort of purposefully ignored it until I searched tonight and found this NYT story stating that it had been found (sawed into three words) and some men were being questioned.

Thank goodness. Really, who steals a sign off a concentration camp? Who?

Photo credit to -Alflickr- for KL Auschwitz I (Oświęcim). Thank you for licensing under Creative Commons so I could share your work on this blog! I felt the blue sky was appropriate because the sign's message is so creepily inaccurate.

Sunday Better World Day!

This wonderful cartoon by Joel Pett does a lovely job of summing up why I think people sound idiotic when they start talking about global warming being false.

a) So what? There are innumerable other reasons not to destroy the environment through unnecessary drilling, mining, fuel use, damming, clear cutting, polluting, etc. And look, I'm not a mom, but it doesn't get much more important that creating and leaving a safe, clean, healthy, functioning world for the kiddos.

b) No, it's not false, go back to high school science, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Treasury

Well, I am very much still on a Treasury kick, but I think I'm going to dial it down after this week and do a Treasury on Tuesday once a week. (Tuesday is such a popular day for featuring Etsy that I thought I'd join the fun!)

This is my holiday treasury - I had a lot of fun with it, and it's silly, because I associate the holidays with silly fun times with old friends and family.

Top Row:

Bunny with a Toolbelt's Chrismukkah Decoration. The hilarity of it all. Why is the Jewish person blue like a Smurf? They don't have faces, but it's one of those examples of faceless art that works for me, instead of making me want to run away screaming. Like, people always say it's so sweet that the Amish don't put faces on their dolls because only God can make faces. And that's ok, if they believe that, but most of those dolls are terrifying, and I think that should be worked into the backstory of Dwight's character on The Office. It would explain so much . . . Anyway, these faceless interfaith little guys are cute, not creepy.

Paper Bella's Star of David Mobile. Ever since I went to The Monterey Bay Aquarium at the tender age of seven and brought home a whale mobile (different species!) that my dad carefully constructed for me, I have been obsessed with mobiles. I also think stars of David are beautiful, but I'm not allowed to have any, because I'm not Jewish and that would be poseurish. Maybe I could get this and hang it in the back of a closet . . .? No? Weird and creepy? Fine, but if you have an excuse to buy one, please do, because it's just too beautiful.

Recycled Part's 6 Pairs of Ice Skates. Ahhh! They're in the correct ROYGBIV order AND they're made from vintage materials! I want to snuggle with them. This seller states that, "All items in my shop are made of at least 80% recycled, up-cycled, reused, re-purposed, vintage and/or eco-friendly materials. Many items are 100%." That is so cool. I need to remember to actively seek out recycled and vintage options when I feel I must purchase something!

Second Row:

Timeless Paper's Snowflake Place Card. That Timeless Paper is sooo hot right now. And why not? Everything is so beautiful. Makes me want to shackle a man to me just for the place cards. And there's a new website to enjoy: (P.S. No, really, I'm totally using the butterflies at my imaginary wedding. It's gonna rock.)

Pipoca Handmade's Holiday Animal Frame Ornament. Ok, so in this picture you see two little bears and a kitty cat. Do yourself a favor and click through to the owl! I think one of these would make an adorable first Christmas ornament for a new family member. Or any of the early Christmases, really.

Power and Light's WTFWJD Letterpressed Card. This is freaking hilarious. And seasonal! I am telling you, if I had my act together enough to send out holiday cards, this would have gone on to everyone it wouldn't have caused to cry. I showed this to my roommate Alison and she said, "I want a t-shirt with that on it." Well, Alison, you're in luck. Oh yeah.

Third Row:

Thymbyl Designs is on vacation till January 2010, so no close-up shot for the Hanukkah Gelt bags. Hmm, Hanukkah ends soon, does that mean there will be bags of chocolate gelt on sale? One can only hope . . .

Rae Dunn's Fortune Cookie Ornament. I love fortune cookies, they're so kitschy. I remember listening to a great piece interviewing Jennifer 8. Lee on NPR about the fact that Chinese fortune cookies are not Chinese at all, but an invention for the American market. She wrote a book on it that I still need/want to read: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food.

Stil Novo Design's Green Ludwig Eco-friendly Menorah. From the Etsy listing: "Our exclusive green menorahs are entirely made of recycled white oak staves from French wine barrels." There is so much that I love in that sentence. Words like "green" and "recycled" and "white oak staves" and "French" and "wine barrels." Take the time to page through some of Stil Novo Design's other offerings, they're fantastic.

Last Row:

Melangerie NYC's Scratch and Sniff Holiday Card. These cards on now on sale! I don't have numbers on how long scratch and sniff stays good, but I distinctly remember picture books like Pat the Bunny holding up for at least a few years. So stock up now for next year! Or just send them throughout the year to confuse people. The scents are: sweet and minty candy canes, gingerbread fresh from the oven, and pine needles and winter snow. Great, now I want to drink French wine and eat gingerbread and fortune cookies. Damn you, Etsy.

Paper Acorn's Joy Luminary Set. Sometimes people like to refer to Colorado as the Southwest. And this is spot on if you're talking about Pueblo or Mesa Verde. Denver, Ft. Collins, Vail, Boulder, Colorado Springs? Not so much. But that's no reason not to have luminaries around for the holidays. Given the winds we get though, I don't recommend using paper and flame outdoors. So these are great - they have battery operated tea lights! I would keep this set safely inside in a window though, they're too cute to risk to the elements.

Gingiber's Happy Chrismakkuh Cards. I traded the image out for a Holly Jolly Hanukkah card, because the Chrismakkuh appear to be sold out! Go Gingiber! This is so cute and silly. Rudolph's antlers are a menorah. Bwhahahaha! Ok, this is probably offensive to people. Like, People Opposed to Lighting Candles on Quadrupeds' Heads. And I agree with their position. Except this a drawing! So it's ok.

What Etsy holiday goods are you loving?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

If the Treasury wasn't full . .

Well, I have just started my very own vintage Etsy shop, Carefully Curated. My focus thus far is on good quality sterling silver, because I had a lot of it on hand and no idea where or how to sell it! I've already had one sale (thank you so much, Lyn of State College, PA!) and I'm excited to see where it goes from here.

I figured I ought to start a related blog, and serendipitously I just finished up a tough semester in grad school, and wanted to get the creative juices going with an Etsy treasury or two. Of course, it's a terribly popular feature and very full because of the holiday season! So the screenshot above, from Etsy's wonderful Poster Sketch feature, is what I would have entered, if I could have.

Top Row:

Rio Grand Iron Work's Horseshoe Hat Rack. Oh my goodness, I want this! I've been favoriting it for months and measured to make sure it would fit behind my front door. I would use it for reusable shopping bags instead of for hats though . . . I always forget to grab them on the way out the door!

Paloma's Nest's Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. These eggs are so creative and quirky. I would definitely display it as she does here, in an egg carton. I also love that this is an Abraham Lincoln quote, he was an amazing man.

Sarka Trager's Taos Blue Door. These photographers take the most beautiful pictures. I would love a small collection of their prints to decorate a hallway or along a door frame. The artists are on vacation so their Etsy shop is shuttered for now, but you can view more of their work at

Childlike Wisdom by Ayco's I wonder . . . I have been crazy about this Etsy shop for awhile, and I'm especially fond of this piece. At $3.50 for the postcard, it's affordable too! Ayco is currently running a special through December 31st - one free postcard of your choice with any purchase. I bet this little guy goes fast!

Middle Row:

Red Hot Pottery's Set of three tiny heart bowls. Oh my. I just want to eat these up. Except I hear chewing on stoneware is bad for your teeth. I also have visions of some sort of large installation using them - apparently the artist makes hundreds! Just lovely.

Odette New York's Fox Claw Necklace. This is near the top of my Etsy wishlist, because I know I would wear it all the time. Such a wonderful blend of the natural world, edginess, and delicate femininity. This, and a shark tooth (I'll include one of those in a later treasury!).

Little Robot's Soft Force is one of many, many pieces in her shop that I regularly drool over. They're this marvelous combination of beautiful organic forms that are just a bit otherworldly. The title of the piece is a reference to a quote from D. H. Lawrence's Etruscan Places : "Brute force crushes many plants. Yet the plants rise again. The Pyramids will not last a moment compared with the daisy. And before Buddha or Jesus spoke the nightingale sang, and long after the words of Jesus and Buddha are gone into oblivion the nightingale still will sing. Because it is neither preaching nor commanding nor urging. It is just singing. And in the beginning was not a Word, but a chirrup."

Julie and Co.'s Baby Blue Shimmer and Shine Temari. I would love a whole bowl of these on my desk. I have a slight obsession with Japanese art and crafts. And by slight, I mean I have a self-imposed moratorium on traveling to Japan unless I have recently invented the next best thing after the USB drive. Really, it would be out of control.

Last Row:

Leigh Viner of jkldesign's Twilight Blue. I have a soft spot for this seller, because she lives in Denver, right down the road! I think sometime in the future I'll do a local Treasury. Leigh is running a special through January 3rd: buy any two prints of any size and get one free standard size print of your choice! Tempting offer . . .

Hmm, well MStevensonDesigns is shuttered until after the 27th, and unfortunately that means I don't have a closeup of the locket! Be sure to check back after the holidays, there are the most beautiful things here.

Kristen Largent of bddesigns' Double Poem Bangle - Hope is the thing with feathers. I love bangle bracelets, I love inscriptions, and I love Emily Dickinson! There are so many great options to personalize these bracelets or other pieces from Kristen's collection.

Circles & Squares' Cicada Wings organic cotton short sleeve shirt. A few years back I had a friend of mine pick up one of the dead cicadas outside her college house in Maryland and bring it back with her to be in Colorado. Let me tell you, cicadas are weird looking. Also, it moved a bit when I looked at it and may not have been 100% dead. Just mostly dead. Which is somewhat alive. But their wings are beautiful, and wearing this shirt would be a bit like having wings. Love love.

To close, here's the full text of Emily D.'s Hope is the thing with feathers:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.