Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Live All the Days of Your Absent Minded Life

I realize my hiatus from the blogging world has been ghastly. I suppose I have just been overwhelmed with how many things have changed in my life to really nail down my thoughts on things. The last two years have brought a lot of change to my life. It has not been easy, but I feel the process has brought me closer to figuring out who I want to be and what I want to make of my life. I am hoping to be able to share with you some of what the experiences and how they have come to change me. I am sure as I write about them they will become more clear to me as well.

Over the next few months I would like to share with you TEN experiences that have taught me the most in the last few years. My hope is that as I share with you the things that have shaped my life, you can find something that will help change the way you see the world.


Letterpress 101

Two summers ago (has it really been that long?) I took a letterpress class with my Dad and one of my closest friends Mandy. It was a fantastic experience. When I say fantastic, I must warn you. It has been quite some time since the class actually happened so all of the trauma and chaos has had time to dilute. You know when something really terrible or difficult happens to you and at the time it seems incredibly painful but then after you have had time to adjust to the trauma you can then iron out all the wrinkles in the story and learn from it? Maybe even forget that it was actually hard in the first place? Well I imagine since it has taken me two years to write about this that maybe some of the initial trauma has been lost in it's retelling.

Alas, I will try to write about it anyway. My Dad and I are extremely close. We always have been. This did not, however, alter the fact that it is sort of weird taking a class with a parent. I wonder how many people have done that in their lives? It was a really eye opening experience for both of us and I think we both learned a lot about each other. If nothing else it was fun to spend that time with him.

Something that made the class a notch above the normal stress of an art class was the fact that I was living in Logan at the time. Did I mention that the class was in Salt Lake, once a week on wednesday nights? Yes. I had to make the hour and a half drive every Wednesday to the class and sometimes a couple of times a week to work on our current projects. Not to mention the drive home afterwards. In the end I think we were all surprised to have survived the class, but I enjoyed what the experience taught me and the rare experience I was able to share with my Dad.

I know that you are all dying to hear a gripping retelling of three hour lectures about letterpress and typefaces, maybe some old books and the history of typography, oh and the art of fine paper snobbery... Why don't I save you the agony of a retelling.

Instead I have come up with 5 tips on how to survive a letterpress class.

1. Always, and I mean always make sure that you have a beverage in hand. Diet Dr Pepper or Diet Coke will do the trick. Having something to quench your thirst is the only way you will survive four hour (mostly lecture) art classes.

2. Keep in the back of your mind the reasons why you enrolled in the class. Why? You will question this.. many times. Just keep in mind the benefits that you envisioned before entering the classroom.

3. Take deep breaths. You will need to be calm and practice extreme and impossible Godlike patience when your Father (or significant other/friend/acquaintance?) whom you have always held in the superior slot, is driving you crazy because he/she is insecure about their artistic abilities. (I am sure my Dad had a similar rule in mind about his irritating bossy daughter).

4. Bring food. Starving while trying to be artistic is the best way to kill anybody's creativity.

5. Forget all the rules you make because they probably wont apply tomorrow.

Surprising how fast time gets away from us. I didn't know then that I would be separated from my family (and my pal and soon to be business partner) by 1500 miles. It is great to have those cherished, albeit frustrating/intense/emotional memories with my Dad. I miss him more than I could have ever imagined.

The last project for the class was a folded piece. Looking back I have to laugh at all the crazy stress that went into trying to pull this project off. I thought I would share some of the results from our class. I am sure as my Dad is reading this all sorts of chilling memories are crawling up his spine.

Diagnosis: Absent Minded - Created by Me, Melissa

     The card game to determine what level of absent minded you are. My family seems to be in the 7-10 scoring range. Some of the cards include: "Can't find any of the ten keys you made yesterday," "Can't count the number of times you've returned to your house before leaving," and so on and so on. We had a good laugh coming up with these (especially since all of them are examples from our own absent minded tales). The pattern I used on the back of my cards was from a woodcut print I carved. I thought it would be fun to add in some printmaking love.

Live All the Days of Your Life - Created By Brian Romriell
    My Dad has a Love/Obsession with numbers. His project has a clever take on the numbered life span. I love the layout he came up with for the project. The way it folds is really spectacular. The numbers show how many days old you are at certain ages. I love the inscription on the back of his book. Take a look!

 "Printed on the cusp of his 20,000th day"

I am so grateful for such and incredible role model. Who is ever lucky enough to be able to have an experience like this? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

That one time I shut my finger in the car door.

There are a few things I need to preface before sharing this story.

One: I have inherited clumsy genes. Most of the time it's just simple bumps, scrapes and yelps of desperation and pain that Steve has now learned to ignore.

Two: I have only had stitches 3 times in my life previous to this event. The first time I was 2-ish. I was chilling at home with my Dad taking a sick day from church. (my father is the person I have so delightfully inherited my clumsiness from) I, being the already destined clutz, stood up in my high chair fell out and bashed my forehead on the sharp edge of the counter. My poor queasy father braved the storm and rushed me to the hospital. There was some sort of fruit pie involved. I cannot confirm the whereabouts or involvement of said pie in relation to the accident, but it is always mentioned in the stories telling so I imagine it played some sort of role. You can imagine the terror witnessed by my family on their return home. The other two times were for my wisdom teeth and an unfortunate ingrown toenail back in my point shoe ballet days. Those two don't really count in my opinion, not to mention the stories are quite dull. Now that I think about it my father accompanied me to all three of these events... interesting...


The day had been a fine one... lovely but quite boring. I had slept in late and just enjoyed a saturday full of TV shows and lounging. Like I said lovely. Steve had been at work 9-4. He had plans to go "jam" with a bunch of guys from work and an old friend for a couple of hours that night. When he got home from work we ran to grab some food before he went. We jovially hopped out of the car, ready to stuff our faces. Not a care in the world... this is when lovely and boring turned bloody and tragic. It took me a minute to realize that my finger was stuck in the door. It was comparable to one of those moments in the movies where everything surrounding you begins to move in slow motion. I came out of my momentary shock/coma and started screaming. My finger was shut and LOCKED in the car door.

In the time it took Steve to run around the car and unlock the door I somehow had the time to think the following...

what if my finger isn't attached when the door opens?
why is Steve not getting around the car faster?
how on earth did this happen?
oh my gosh my finger is shut in the car door.
I'm going to need stitches...
I do not want stitches...
I wonder if I can get out of going to the hospital.
I hope that my finger is still there.
ow .....

Those are just a few that I can remember.

As the door opened the blood started flowing and the pain got worse. I crouched in the parking lot and let the blood drip. drip. drip. accumulating on the asphalt. Steve ran in to the restaurant and got napkins. Meanwhile a bunch of people were standing behind me... staring I think... I didn't dare turn around and see.. I was crying pretty bad at this point. We jumped back in the car. As I put pressure on my finger and Steve drove us to the hospital (less then a mile away). I had time to yell while spouts of tears flew down my cheeks....

What if my finger falls off?
What if I just have a stub for a finger?
It hurts so bad.
Don't get in a wreck I am not wearing a seatbelt!
What if I'm pushing too hard and my finger falls off?
It's bleeding so bad!
I'm ruining your band again!! (a joke made by a mission companion saying I was going to ruin their dreams of a band. This companion was the kid coming up to "jam" that night..)
I don't want to get stitches!
I really don't want to get stitches!!
I am such a baby.
owie owie owie!
I can't believe I'm crying so hard. followed by giggles
I'm scared...
Steve don't tail that mini van you are going to crash and kill us.

(Steve was so calm during this all. I am pretty sure he was doing his best to hold in fits of laughter...)


We got into the emergency room and I was shocked to find everything so calm. ERs are always so crazy and hectic. I have probably been watching too many medical shows. I guess I had anticipated people running to my rescue. No such rescue. We had to wait in line. Seriously? I was furious. We had to sit for half an hour behind a bunch of people with babies. They weren't even crying. What kind of emergency could they possibly be in? After the long ridiculous wait we finally were up. The lady that was helping us could not keep it together. She asked me for my birthday a billion times. Then couldn't find my info. Finally she found me and said, "oh i guess I got your birthday wrong, woops." I thought some pretty unkind things in my head... I don't feel bad. This lady was stupid. After all that she so kindly and apologetically informed us that we would have to wait for another 20 minutes. I am pretty sure she could see the annoyance and frustration on our faces. Yup. So we sat in the waiting area and I let the tears stream down my face.

When they finally got to me a doctor came in and looking surprised said he would have someone else come check it too. I guess it was surprising or something? The next doc came in and decided it was a good idea to x-ray it. I was pretty sure that it was broken. It hurt like mad. We got back to our room and waited for the doctor. As the third doctor came in he so kindly pointed out that I must have been in pain because it looked like I had been crying... No duh. Thank you for pointing out that you have noticed the mascara running down my face. Where are your people skills and common sense. I just shut my finger in the door causing it to break and split open of course I cried you fool. Thanks for reminding me of how good I look in the mean time.

They had to stick needles at the base of my finger to numb it. It was not pleasant. It felt like they were trying to stick the needle all the way through my finger. It did not feel very nice. My finger got all gross and swollen. However, Steve and I enjoyed watching them stitch my finger up. It was very gross. I will spare you the photos of my finger after they numbed it up.. It got pretty real there for a minute. The doctor explained that what we were seeing was "subconatneos fat," squeezing out of the wound.... ew. Finally it was finished. They put my finger in a splint. And told me I would have to see a specialist in a week and I could get the stitches out in 10 days....

Seven stitches and a fractured finger. yay.


A week after the catastrophe I had to go see a plastic surgeon about my finger to make sure that it was healing properly. It was a very... interesting visit. The doctor first admired my wedding ring.... and then at the end of the visit asked how much he could buy it from me for because his wife would really like it.  I laughed thinking it was a joke, he didn't understand. I think he was serious.. Creepy. Anyway so he put my finger in a bent splint and told me to come back in a month. He wanted to make sure that my tendon hadn't been severed or I would need surgery to fix it. He made my try and bend it. It felt like all of the stitches were going to pop out. It did not feel good. It was terribly painful actually. Luckily I did not need surgery and my finger has healed pretty well. I have a nice little scar but all in all it seems pretty good. They were surprised at how well it has healed. I guess I am lucky. 

There you have it, the story of how I shut my finger in the car door and survived.

See for yourself.

I guess I should be grateful, the doctor who stitched me up did a pretty good job. You can barely see the scar.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Goodbye Utah, (BIG BANG) Hello Washington DC

Ok ok I am the worst blogger in the world. But since Steve and I are now far away from family I promised my mother and grandmother that I would post more.. I suppose I should catch up on a few things. Ill keep it short.

1. We have moved to Washington DC for the summer
2. Steve will be working for the National Endowment for the Humanities. (Seriously cool)

Like I said short.  I kid.

I will tell you more, but before I move on to sharing our adventures I will talk a little about or Farewell to Utah. It was not easy. We packed up all of our things and stowed them away in my parents garage (thanks again family) for the summer. We said goodbye to Logan, which was admittedly harder then expected. It has been my home for the past... 6 years. I can't believe how long that is now that I am saying it out loud.

Outside of our Apt the last time we were there. 

Our apartment that we lived in for two and a half years. We loved it here! 

It took us FORever to clean out our apt. It was actually quite frightening all the dust and dirtiness... I don't know how people move all the time. It is the worst. Seriously. We spent the last week of our time in Utah going back and forth, back and forth from Logan to Sandy/Draper trying to get everything packed and ready for us to leave.

 The cloudy rainy scary drive one day

The nice pretty drive (also with random filter, I got a new phone and it has some pretty cool camera settings)

We probably averaged about 4 hours of sleep a night that week.  It made from some cranky days (hemm hm Steve) But we survived it. We hopped on a red eye flight to new york and then transferred to another flight to fly to DC. We had a layover in NYC for a couple hours. Tried to sleep, ate some lame airport food and then got on the next flight.

I look terribly sleepy. My eyes are so squinty, yet as excited as they come. 

After the whole thing we were extremely exhausted. It got pretty bad. I conked out on our last flight and don't remember anything. I am pretty sure the flight attendant guy pitied me or something... He nodded and called me sweetheart on the way out underneath a clear giggle. I saw right through that mustached smile...

So we arrived in DC. Now for the interesting part. We each had three suitcases, two of which were pretty handsome in size and weight. We had tried to prepare for carrying these before hand, luckily my Dad knew how stressed I was for this part. He went and bought us some handy straps to connect our luggage to make it easier to carry. Well, we had to catch a bus that would take us to the Metro. After we figured out how to get our suitcases tied together it didn't seem that bad... We got to the metro and it was a whole nother story. Yes nother. We had to cram all of our suitcases through the door and then awkwardly squish onto four different seats... each.. Yes people were glaring. Or so I imagined in my mind. They were probably laughing at us and wondering why on earth we had so much stuff. We looked like idiots. Of course that was not the end of it. We had to make a transfer... We got off and then had to ride an escalator.

UP. with huge bags..
wait wrong way.
back DOWN.
then UP the other way.

Meanwhile Steve trips and falls out of his shoe and almost comes careening down the escalator. Good thing I was there to angrily yell at him as he fell into me. Saved his life, and mine really. We got to the right place and waited for the Metro to show up. It gets there.


Piece of metal from Steve's luggage handle that I am conveniently in charge of goes shooting slow motion into the air and clinks to the ground. God must have been worried about what I would do to Steve if I got left on that platform alone, because some how I made it on the metro before the bag decided to come apart. phew. It was a close one. We somehow made it to our destination stop. The people we are renting from here in Maryland were nice enough to come pick us up from the stop. It is about a 5 minute drive from their house. Our apartment is pretty cool. Tiny, but safe. More on that later. We are so excited to be here and to go explore together.

Stay tuned I have more to share.

Until then, enjoy this beautiful shot of where we get to wander every day.

Love and Miss

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

To Create

What could be in this adorable box?

While you ponder on that. Let me tell you about my current situation. I like to mix it up on this blog. I talk about personal things, crafty things, but all the time real and true things.

My life has been, well lets just say not the most exciting lately. I ended 2011 in a bit of a slump. I was working at home (aka spending way too much time sleeping and lounging about watching netflix). This is not great for anybody.  Especially for those of you who may be like me and hate being alone. I swear it does something to you, being lazy. I was not happy. I have never been one to be long term depressive. Of course we all have our days. I feel like for the most part I am an upbeat person. Headstrong and lets be honest a little bit bossy, non of which are conducive to a sit on your butt all day and feel sorry about your life personality.

My parents gave me a sketch journal for my birthday. I don't know what it was but something just flicked on in my head. It was almost like one of those moments if you aren't sure if you should be jumping up and down screaming with joy or smacking your head against the wall for not figuring it out sooner.

With this new excitement still burning inside of me, I made a lot of decisions to change. I have been more active. Hey, those endorphins really do make people pleasant to be around. I have been sketching and creating more and with more purpose. I've been visiting my long lost love, the printmaking lab. I didn't realize how much I had missed it. I even called my mom the other day and told her I wanted to do a cross stitch typograhphic *sampler. I know crazy. I am so grateful for people in my life who support my creative nature.

I was discussing with a friend about what my life would be like if I had done something else. We were laughing envisioning ourselves doing anything but art. I have to say I can't imagine doing anything else.  I wish that everyone could do what they love. The pressures of family and money and well, just life in general often dissuade people from doing what they love to do. For me even if I am only creating for myself and the few who indulge in viewing my art then I feel accomplished for now. Who's to say what the next 10... 20... or 50 years have to hold for me. I hope that I can instill in myself this bit of knowledge to always stay with me, so even when I find myself at a low point I can remember what it feels like to know that what I am doing is right and for me.

Well I believe I have dragged on for longer than any of you care to read.


I have enjoyed making and painting these beads very much. It is almost relaxing to do the monotonous work of molding and painting. Some might think such a thing is tedious, but I love it. I posted a while back about some beads I made in a similar fashion. These were a little simpler so it wasn't as difficult to make a lot of them. I made this latest necklace for my sister in law Liz. I just love how the color turned out.

*At 12 my Mom made me do a sampler to represent a modern day girl's work on a sampler. It would go in a special exhibit at the church history museum she was in charge of that year. (more details another day?) I HATED it. I can't say whether it was just teenage hormones coming on or a real hatred but I feel I must try it again to know for sure.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cheers to cold toes and warm bellies.

I live in Logan. If you know anything about Logan you know that it is known for its bitter and miserable winters. I don't get into winter sports and sledding just scares me* so there isn't a whole lot to do when it hits January for me. This year we have been lucky enough to have our winter postponed a smidgen. But as all good things do, our beautiful fall weather had to come to a dismal end. Stormy, wintery Logan days like today make a warm drink a necessity for survival. And what better way to ingest warm hot chocolate then from one of these? 

My friend Mandy and I have been crafting on occasion and we painted these mugs a while back. You can pick some porcelain paint or pens from any craft or art store. They have so many beautiful colors; it was difficult to choose. Pens might have been an easier option. If you are not equipped with a steady hand and an ability to just let mess ups and globs work to your advantage, I would definitely go with the pens... However, the paint lifts off the surface and gives it a dimensional quality that I rather enjoy. So maybe try both? You decide. You can use mugs you already have or find some like I did from the local thrift store. I found this delicious set of eight for 50 cents each.

After painting them, I decided to send one across the ocean to my brother in Germany for Christmas. He has since enjoyed many tummy warming beverage delights (Hot Cocoa and marshmallow style). There is something about drinking out of an artistic mug that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
How about you?


* I know this sounds incredibly wussy, but people keep dying and getting hurt doing it... I guess I'm just      not as daring as I used to be.