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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #79—Fans

I’m wearing fans today. Why? Why not!

Well, okay. There’s always a reason behind my costumes. The origins go back a few years, when I was given fabric by my neighbor, Evelyn, who used to sew. She’d carefully cut out four fans, and I liked how they looked. Although I didn’t know what I wanted to use them for, I was certain that one day I would incorporate them into an outfit or art. I saved them in my official SSS (Sew Something Someday) collection.

A year or two ago I started noticing how beautiful hand held fans are. Some are highly decorated and truly are pieces of art. Fast forward to today. I am wearing fans of various shapes, sizes, colors and materials. Three I bought, four are from Evelyn, and I made the rest. Somewhere along the way I decided that this outfit might be worn near Chinese New Year, which begins this Saturday, January 28.

Red is a big theme in Chinese New Year celebrations because it is believed to be lucky and to ward off evil. My outfit today features a lot of red (a tank top and skirt I already had). Next, I started adding fans to my outfit. One of the fans on my back has the Chinese character fu, which means “blessings and happiness.”

 The Chinese character fu.

Throughout the ages, fans have been made of various materials: bamboo, leather, feathers, paper and silk, among other materials. Some are hand painted, beaded or embroidered. Many are decorated with cherry blossoms or a Chinese dragon, which symbolizes good luck, power and strength. Did you know that the two oldest existing Chinese fans date back to the 2nd century BCE?

These three fans are ones I made from fabric and wore in my hair as a fascinator:

The larger fans on my outfit are ones I bought, but I made smaller ones from origami paper and fabric from my sewing stash. Total cost for 3 fans: $3.

Whether you’re celebrating Chinese New Year or simply adjusting to writing “2017,” I hope this year brings you good health and lots of laughter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #78—The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Even if you’re not around young kids very much, it’s likely that you know Eric Carle’s children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Carle has a distinct illustration style in all his books, and his playful illustrations are a beautiful match to his stories. Recently I decided to create an outfit celebrating Carle’s book.

For those unfamiliar with the story, here is a brief summary. A caterpillar pops out of an egg, and is very hungry, so he searches for food. On Monday he eats through one apple, but he is still hungry. On Tuesday he eats through two pears, but he is still hungry. The story continues and after a week of eating all kinds of things, the caterpillar is much bigger. He builds a cocoon around himself, and stays in for more than two weeks. When he emerges, he is a butterfly.

Almost every kiddo I saw today knew the story, and some of the adults did, too.

These are the illustrations from Carle's book. I tried to capture the same playful feel in the fruit I painted.

Carle's lollipop is on the left. On the right is my recreation, using foam and paint.

Another page from Carle's book.

A little history about this beloved book: Carle wrote it in 1969, and more than 44 million copies of it have been sold since. He has illustrated more than 70 books, most of which he also wrote.
For me, this story stands out among the hundreds of books I read as a child. The illustrations are so clear, and the colors vivid and rich. The story is told thoughtfully, in language a small child can understand. I also love that the story shows change in a way that isn’t scary—but as a natural, good thing. My kids loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Every kid I know loves this book.
This is the back of my outfit, showing the caterpillar, his cocoon and the butterfly he becomes.

Today it was great fun to wear the work of the imaginative Eric Carle, and I hope you enjoy this outfit as much as I’ve enjoyed making and wearing it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #77—Alphabet Soup

Did you eat Alphabet Soup as a kid? I remember being delighted that there were letters in my soup. Tiny pasta letters.
Fast forward a few years and today I’m wearing my love of soup.
My bowl of soup has spilled onto my clothes, but hey—sometimes this happens when your soup bowl is on your head.
Most alphabet soups have light-colored pasta letters but I like a lot of color and so my soup is a rainbow of letters.
Playing with your food isn’t exactly encouraged. But listen—I’m a playful gal. So play I will.
By some online accounts, alphabet soup actually dates back to 1867.
Here’s an ad for alphabet soup from 1968. I think it’s adorable.
Soup really brings me back to lunches at my grandparents’ house, when lunch was always a hot meal—a cup of soup and a half sandwich. I still love soup.

All ingredients supplies for my spilled soup were ones I had on hand already. But if I had to put a cost on this costume, I spent roughly 30 cents on hot glue sticks and 50 cents on felt. Total: 80 cents. Cheaper than a dented can of soup with the label half ripped off, relegated to the store’s sale rack.

Hey, spills happen. But as the famous saying goes: don’t cry over spilled soup.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wacky Wednesday #76: Trivia

Today I’m wearing trivia. (I was forced to because all my other clothes are covered in strawberry jam. Don’t ask.) January 4th is National Trivia Day in the USA. Really! The following pieces of trivia are ones I handpicked from various sources and I hope you have fun with some of these surprising facts.


Why do we humans like trivia? I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve noticed that most people seem to get a kick out of learning something that may not have been covered in school. Or maybe we appreciate trivia because we like to be surprised, and lots of trivia pieces include an unexpected element. Or because our brains are designed to be curious.

What’s your favorite piece of trivia?

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year…New Paintings…(And Old Messes!)

Happy New Year, everybody.

It’s my first blog post of the year, and I’m attempting to keep it short and brilliant. Or at least short.

Yesterday I started the new year out with something I began doing regularly last year: plein air painting. For those of us whose French language skills start and end with croissant, plein air refers to painting outdoors. Here in San Diego you can paint outdoors almost every day of the year, and I hope to do dozens of these paintings in the coming year.

Here’s the painting I did yesterday at La Jolla Shores beach, which is a beautiful spot that attracts visitors as well as locals. There were a lot of people there yesterday, and many stopped to peek at my painting. Some even asked first if it was okay to look, which I found charming. Who says manners are dead?

It was fun to talk with people who stopped. The only problem is that most of my paintings go through an awkward stage at some point, when they look like a hot mess before everything comes together. Having people watch the awkward stage is tricky but I got through it and they didn’t seemed scarred by the ordeal, either.

In case you’re curious, I painted this with acrylic paints on watercolor paper.

I wouldn’t say that doing more painting this year is actually a resolution. But if it were, I’d have to say that 38 hours into the new year, I’m honoring my goals. Of course, this doesn’t explain why I’ve ignored my multiple Reminders To Self to clean out the unruly wad of stuff crammed into my wallet from last year. Coupons that are probably over a year old. Bandaids. Receipts (just in case). Cleaning out last year’s wallet debris is tedious. And aren’t we supposed to be looking forward at the year to come, not back?

I’ll make you a deal. I promise to clean out the wallet mess sometime this year.