Saturday, October 27, 2007

Holiday Season Begins Here

October kicks off the holiday season and off we went last weekend, to Marble Falls to Sweetberry Farms.

Pumpkins were piled everywhere, including on a lovely rusted bed and inside an old truck:

Notice any difference between myself and the other visitors? I know it's difficult to see all the people in the bed photo, but I can assure you that none of them were wearing dresses, let alone ones from Anthroplogie, nor are they wearing Camper maryjanes. They were not holding toddlers wearing cute shirts that their friend Abby got for them at Tea Collection sample sales in San Francisco. Pretty much everyone seems to wear jeans, t-shirts and sneakers, and I'm not talking about cute vintage Wranglers or sexy fitting Barney's jeans with Petite Bateau tees or American Apparel hipster ringer tees.

Pumpkin patch (a.k.a rural) fashion was a topic of discussion on the car trip back into town and we came to the conclusion that in country settings where people drive everywhere, fashion is not as important as it is to people in cities. There is less reason to dress and also less inspiration to be gained from the outfits of others. Back in NYC you could easily be entertained walking around any neighborhood and taking in all of the ensembles. Back when I worked up on Madison Ave. there were some pretty awesome outfits to be seen- the creme de la creme of expensiveness, and of course, ridiculousness. You know when you look inside Vogue and think Who the hell wears that crazy rabbit fur bikini top with high-waited jeans and hooker boots? Well, just go walk around the 57th St. area and you will see that there is a real-live market for such absurdity. One of my favorite times of year was the dead of winter when one could spot men donning thick fur coats, looking like life-size teddy bears. My co-workers and I would regularly spot Bill Cunningham (photographer of style for the New York Times) standing back from the street with his camera hanging around his neck. We would non-chalantly pass in front him trying to look like we were laughing or enjoying ourselves in slow motion, just in case we would be good fodder for his Sunday Styles section. Alas, we never showed up in print although several of our other co-workers did, and it always felt like we were somehow part of it too (even though we were in no way part of it obviously). I have to say that I felt a kindred spirit in Angelina recently when she talked about still wanting to be able to get dressed and enjoy fashion even though her daily life doesn't exactly require it. As the no-office-to-go-to mother of a toddler, I really don't have any good reason to get out of my velour pants and thermal shirt, but for the most part I do, just because it's fun and I also feel like I lost my identity during the year that this outfit was the only one I wore (2006 when Harlan was a baby). Now that I get a full seven hours sleep each night and am not breastfeeding, there is really no reason not to get dressed each morning.

I hope I am not offending any country dwellers out there- I'm sure many of you own garments other than hemmed jean shorts and puffy white sneakers, but I have not met you so I'm basing this passage on my own experience with country folk (which is pretty minimal honestly- I am definitely the person that the bumper sticker "Yankee go home" is intended for).

Speaking of fashion, the local temperature finally dropped last week (going down the the upper 30's at night and warming up to a lovely upper 70's during the afternoons) and Harlan got to wear this awesome vintage plaid jacket that my friend Karen got him at an auction up in PA.

Karen is due to give birth to her first child in two weeks, so send her best wishes everyone.

On the drive back to town we stopped at a roadside junk shop and picked up this antique child's rocking chair for $15.

It is not in perfect condition as the wood could use a little shine and the vinyl has a hole on the seat and a paint stain on the bottom front. I plan to refinish it one day and keep it in my future craft room with some softies on it. For now Harlan loves it and it goes great in our living room.

Speaking of crafting (and of chairs for that matter) I got three wonderful books in the mail last week as an early birthday gift (thanks to the magic of the wish list) from my father and stepmother in law:

I have had my eye on this one for a while since it features so many great interviews and projects from many great crafty bloggers out there. I have to admit I am in love with Heidi Kenney's tissue box cover:

Just when I thought I was too cool for something as lowbrow as a tissue box cover, I find myself feeling I can not live without making one.

Simple Sewing with a French Twist has been at the top of my wish list for a while. Here is a peek of some inspiring projects:

This folding chair is the first thing I'm going to make (as soon as I finish 100 other things) for our balcony. You just need to find a wooden folding chair, spray paint the frame black and sew a basic seat and back for it by tracing the one you rip out of it.

I discovered this book over on Posie Gets Cozy and have been wanting to try a little ribbon embroidery of my own (project 102 on the list I suppose).

Also in the mail as an early birthday gift came this hand embroidered Chinese top from my mother in law who lives in Taiwan:

Also super inspiring.

I'm working away on the business and here are a couple of hoodies I'll be offering. The one with the initial be available upon order with whichever initial the customer wants. The letters are from a vintage pattern that Karen also got at an auction for me a while back.

I need to get a better lens for my camera so that I can control the light as well as get more detailed shots of embroidery stitches. Perhaps as a birthday gift to myself :)

Speaking of the embroidery business, the shop has a new name. I had to cancel my tax i.d. number in NY and have to file a new Doing Business As name here in Texas. As you know I had trouble figuring out how to keep "Bun Bun" but get rid of the "baby" so that people will not assume that I only make baby clothes and items. I wanted something that indicated both genders and that sounded like it was from a few generations back. I ended up choosing the names of my favorite great-aunt and great-uncle, who are still going strong up in Brooklyn in their eighties. They are Rose and Duke, and Rose is a fantastic needlepoint artist to boot. Here is the postcard for the new shop:

I found a web design team to take over the task of creating a site for me, and it will debut in February. Until then, enjoy your Halloween.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Down in Old San Antone

I've been hard at work making different items to sell, and I won't be showing most of them here until they're all complete and Stitch is right around the corner. In the mean time here is one design I've been working on. First, I wanted to do this little bunny for a wall hanging:
I had already sewn this embroidery from early on this summer into a wall hanging:
Then the bunny's balloon reminded me of a cute shirt that Harlan received as a gift for his first birthday. It had a large number one on it. I fooled around with a couple of variations:

Last Sunday the Crumble family went for a quick drive south to San Antonio to visit our pals Ellen and Brennan and their sons Quentin and Emmett. Ellen and I were college roommates our freshman year at Reed, and Brennan came as a freshman the following year. I still remember the letter I received from Ellen the summer before we met. She told me that she loved rock 'n roll and was currently listening to Daniel Johnston, Fire Hose, The Meat Puppets, and Neil Young (also a weakness of mine). She drove her grandparents old beater while smoking and listening to the radio, and she wondered what kind of car I had and if I was bringing it with me. I knew right away that we were going to hit it off even though I didn't yet know how to drive (I was a NYC kid- none of us drove). During our spring break freshman year we embarked on a road trip to Idaho and ended up going all the way to San Antonio, Ellen's home town. It was my first trip to Texas and I was hooked!

Here we are in our dorm room, dressed up like Gun's & Rose's for fun:

And these are shots of one another that we took during that road trip, in San Antonio:

I can't believe I'm sporting the vintage men's vest in both photos. What the f was I thinking? Even worse than the fact that this look was in fashion then is that it's on its way back. I just saw it in Lucky and almost felt compelled to write them a letter telling begging them to just let it go with acid wash and the other bad late 80's fashion choices.
I almost feel badly for the models.

Ellen and I drifted in and out of touch with each other over the years since college ended, and eventually we both lived close to one another in Brooklyn. Last spring Ellen returned to San Antonio and we are neighbors once again. I think she looks exactly the same now as she did almost twenty years ago. And look what cute critters she and Brennan brought into the world:

After eating some killer breakfast burritos (San Antonio is something like 80% Mexican and the Mexican food there is amazing) we went to a local park.

The picnic house at the park looks a lot like a famous San Antonio landmark:

I got a bit lost trying to find I-35 to get home from the park, but the big blue Texas sky did not disappoint.

That's my kind of October day. Guess what else we do in Texas in October?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I've got Bento Fever and I'm in Love

Now that Harlan goes to school in the mornings, it is up to me to pack him a lunch each day. Never mind that he only seems to like hot dogs cheese and fruit, I still need to pack these items in his super-duper lunch bag. I'm sure many of you who pack lunches are familiar with this site about bento lunches and ideas for what to put inside them. For those of you who love all things cute and Japanese, here are my latest acquisitions, all purchased under the premise that Harlan will like to eat what is inside things that are cute:

The best place I found online to get great bento boxes and accessories is ebay. There I discovered the colorful silicon baking cups that make great food holders inside larger bento boxes (or any larger plastic box). They sell a good assortment of these on amazon.

Here are good websites that carry Decole and other cute goodies. WARNING: LOCK WALLET UP BEFORE PROCEEDING: (type decole into search)

Click here to see the most amazing bento lunches ever.
My Nikon D70 SLR takes great photos but unfortunately one can only use the manual settings with a specific lens that I do not own and can not justify purchasing right now. My condo (like most structures in hot climates) is very shady. It is surrounded by dense trees and has long eaves that hang over the windows, keeping it cool but also quite dark. It's nearly impossible to get a good photo of anything on my porches or inside, but here are a few peeks. This is my trendy gnome and mushroom doormat, courtesy of Target:

This is the are in front of my front door. My mother gave me the beautiful bougainvillea, which I have always always always wanted to grow, ever since seeing them all over Florida. Anyone remember Poppy the Pig? I have filled him and a metal bucket with various succulents. I love me some succulents, ever since seeing them all over San Francisco. Now I live in a climate where they will thrive happily. The man at the gardening store warned me to bring them indoors when the temp. drops below forty. How can this be? What about all the giant ones I see on everyone else's front lawn? Does anyone know? I have many more planted out back on our deck but no photos yet.

Here's the cabinet I bought at Ikea recently to keep my fabric in. I may not have my craft room yet, but at least I don't keep it all under the bed anymore.

This is the area over our sideboard in our living room. It's what we see when we are sitting on the sofa on the opposite wall (which I will photograph when I finish making pillows for it).

Here is a close up of my Halloween chicks, purchased from Jennifer Murphy.

They're just so dang cute, and the fact that they are made in China did not deter me from buying them in the least. It's great that Jennifer had such a high demand for her products that she was able to outsource making them. One lesson I learned back when I went to that Design Sponge sponsored event for people starting their own businesses (be sure and click the link as it goes to all the files from the event) is that most buyers are interested in the design and price of items, along with the story that is behind them. Were they designed by a famous RISD grad who used to work for Martha Stewart but then dropped out of the corporate world to raise her daughter and sit around crocheting pot holders that she started selling on the street corner? Apparently most consumers are only interested in the story up to a certain point, and after that the price is an issue. Making things by hand in the U.S. is costly because the cost of living here is so high. Minimum wage is even up to $7.50 an hour in some states (still too low in my opinion but that's another discussion). If any of us expect to make a living by making things by hand then we have to charge accordingly and the question that remains is, Will people buy a bunch of Halloween pom pom chicks for $20 a chick? I wouldn't. Not because I don't respect the time that went into making it, but because right now I can't afford it (although I have found a way to justify such purchases many times in the past). Now, happily there are some people who can afford it and will shell out the big bucks for things that are locally made. These are most of the people who buy my stuff, and I'm happy they are there, but the truth is that I can only make one or two items a day and that is not enough to live off of. So, I have finally found a company in New Jersey whom I am working with to make a couple of my designs by machine. The process is not cheap, because they are in New Jersey and not China, but I want to keep my products 100% American made and charge accordingly, hoping that customers will still support me because they like the designs, the workmanship, and the fact that the products are all locally made. The one glitch I am having right now is color matching machine threads to DMC colors. We'll have to see the results when my samples get back. I hope that I can eventually have everything I design made professionally so that I can spend my own time making things for myself and designing. You get tired of embroidering or sewing the same exact design over and over by hand. Getting back to Jennifer Murphy for a moment, does anyone know where one can buy the material used to make the kind of bears she and Molly Chicken make? I would love to try making a few for gifts (gifts for myself that is) but I have never seen any place that sells that type of faux fur.

This weekend Joe and I did some iron-on transfers on t-shirts for Harlan. They came out pretty cute. Guess which two designs I found and which two Joe found. Scroll down for answer.

The two of the left are Joe's. The first is an Pogo image that is super cute. He wanted to do another one using a Love and Rockets image but we could not find any that worked on a t-shirt for a little boy. Instead he went with a good old fashioned Black Flag logo. I chose a page from Richard Scary's most beautifully illustrated book I Am a Bunny, and of course the Stray Cats logo. We have to keep Harlan old school.

I have one last question to pose for my readers. I've cancelled the business Bun Bun Babythreads with the state of NY. I need to reopen it here in Texas, but I also want to change the name so that people don't assume everything I sell is for babies (I often hear, "Oh, I don't know anyone with a baby"). I'm thinking I should keep Bun Bun as a prefix for the name but don't know what to put after it. Let me know if you have any ideas.

For good tunes, go here and listen to Petra Hayden's genius cover of Thriller and breathtaking a Capella version of God Only Knows. I heard Petra's a Capella cover of a Journey song while driving Joe to work one morning on a local radio station. The music in Austin is one of its main draws, and I'm relishing in discovering new artists to listen to now that I'm here. I don't get out to many (many being zero) shows any more, so being able to actually depend on the radio for good music is a saving grace.