Monday, April 25, 2011

Santa Barbara Skies

I've been taking lots of pictures over the last few months, and I thought I would share some of the gorgeous skies we've had in Santa Barbara recently.

I took these pictures on a warm and clear Friday morning when I was walking some Etsy deliveries down to the post office last week. I love the way the clouds slumber on top of the ridge of the Santa Ynez mountains just north of town. I wish I could capture on camera their simultaneous solidity and ethereality.

On my way back from the postoffice, I stopped by Renaud's Patisserie and Bakery and picked up some gorgeous croissants for breakfast: pain au chocolate and one covered in almonds.

A few days later I was walking home and I didn't have my camera with me, but I just grabbed my phone to try to capture some similar clouds piling up on the corner of the ridge, behind the tower of a giant old movie palace called the Arlington Theatre.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rockabilly Street style

Rockabilly Street style
Rockabilly Street style by Tina S featuring a cropped jacket

Saw a gorgeous woman with dyed white hair and a style all her own in a black Rosie the Riveter kerchief, cigarette pants, and the cutest polkadot espadrilles on the street today. I didn't take her picture, but I tried to reconstruct her outfit as best as I could here!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Music for a Busy Day

It's been a busy week, in a good way! Seeing friends, family, doing lots of real work... but it has meant that I have had to neglect all my little side projects. But I do have a plan for some fun posts after I battle my way through this pile of grad school work!

I actually got my dragging body out of bed at 6:30 AM today to continue my project this week of organizing an interdisciplinary conference with grad students from all over California. I hope to have the vast majority of emails that need to be sent out of my drafts file and into my outbox by the end of the day. I managed to get to a yoga class in the morning, and then in the afternoon went to a discussion by a bunch of Santa Barbara writers about their perspectives on writing about place, which was nice for a change of pace. I don't go to half the writing- and art-oriented events that I want to in this town. Now I am home, but the day is far from over!

So, my soundtrack for a busy Santa Barbara day:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Etsy News

Just the headlines!

  • I am delighted to announce that the giveaway I participated in at Fantabulously Frugal has been won by Terecille of New Jersey -- Congratulations Terecille! Her bobby pins went out in the mail earlier this week.
  • new bobby pins are in my shop! 

  • I sold three items this week -- what a rush!  One to a friend, and two to a lovely woman I have not met who runs a letterpress company and makes gorgeous things. In fact, she heard about me solely because I left several very enthusiastic comments on the giveaway she is running right now: $50 in letterpress products or in a gift certificate to Apple,, or Amazon: go check out Dingbat Press's blog! So there has been lots of packaging and careful final finishing of my little fabric creations before I send them out into the wide world. And another friend, Megan, who modelled these bobby pins and this collage pin, is loving the bobby pin set I gave her as a thank you, and is going to buy more!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bookity Bookity Books

Some people might do a "what's in your purse?" post, but I incline away from bags and towards shelves. Looking over this post, I have concluded that I really need a study, some day. Or at least a home office that is not my bedroom.

If you click on the pictures, you can even read the titles
Books in the hall (some of these are PDK's and Ms. E's)
Living room shelves look better when decorated with books, right?

British fiction section in the living room

Dissertation books within easy reach in the hutch over my desk

For fun books, American poetry, and acquisitions that have no assigned location yet!

Don't even look at this -- this is the pile of library books I can't squeeze onto my shelves.

Library books, Irish books, and literary criticism
I love books, as you all well know!  When I first moved in with PDK, I took the opportunity to organize my books by (in descending order) genre, nation of origin, and alphabetically by author's last name.... since then, though, the organization has gotten a bit crazy as I moved some of the for-fun books out to make room for the dissertation books closer to my desk so they will be right at hand when I need them.

But somehow, I have decided I still have room for more! So, after walking down to the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market on Saturday, PDK took the groceries home while I stayed at The Book Den, a great used and antique bookstore that also does a brisk business online in downtown SB. Borders and Barnes and Noble closed down a couple months ago in town, but I couldn't really give a damn, because I don't think they did much for real readers anyways, other than undervalue books and treat them like a mass commodity, putting small publishers and small booksellers in dire straits. I am hoping that the demise of the big box chains pushes business back toward the independent bookstores in town... and encourages people to open new ones in towns that have been left entirely bereft of books.

My eyes had lighted on a sign in The Book Den's window on Friday night, when I went to the Town Hall meeting on Friday to learn about the potential solutions to California's budget troubles: "Pomes Dolar each -- 571 volumes of Poetry."  So.... I bought twenty-seven books of poetry for a smidgen less than thirty dollars. Oh my, am I now in heaven and in hell, because how am I going to have the time? But, I have a plan: If I get up an hour earlier every day (ugh), I can read a book of poetry with tea before I start the rest of my day. And, I hope it will put me in a readerly and writerly state of mind for the dissertation work ahead of me each day.

So, in celebration of Poetry Month and of books over all,  here is a small smackerel of the beauty and delicious indulgence that comes from small pieces of printed paper, folded and sewn or glued into covers and lined up on shelves (errr... or on the floor):

Books You Can Eat!  The International Edible Book Festival was held a couple weeks back, and I think my favorite was the Fahrenheit 451 submission from 2009! Check out the images in the festival's albums.

The Book Surgeon -- featured on My Modern Met (via The Good. The Bad. And The Internet)

Penguin's redesign of classics
I love this vision of Little Women -- the reference has to be to Jo cutting her hair, right?

Books as Jewelry! (via JunqueTreasures on Etsy)

There is a lot more out there, I am sure, but I am going to leave it at this, since I have reading and writing to do myself, as I am sure you do too! So I will just leave you with this link to an inspiring article in the poetry blog About a WordWho I Read Before I Write

Friday, April 8, 2011

Today in Dissertation Writing, Politics, and Jewelry

PDK got back from his loooong trip to India yesterday -- woohoo! Brought me some lovely presents of the gold and silver kind, too :)  I love the pretty silver earrings he and his sister picked out -- they make the loveliest chiming sound if I shake my head and I've never seen anything like them. I did find some very similar ones on etsy so you guys can see what they look like (since I am too lazy/busy to take pics). Apparently they are called jhumka in North India and jimiki or jitniki in South India, and they are shaped like bells, or you could see them as inverted lotuses.
image via jhumkas on etsy
Instead of hooks, though, mine have posts like these. So beautiful!
image via jhumkas on etsy
So after his three weeks off, he's back at work today, and I am home, planning on doing PhD work.... I am revising and adding to a chapter (well... the chapter, since it's the only one I have written), and I have a plan of how to do it, finally, after rereading and editing and changing the organization of the forty pages I have already written.  I've been thinking about it all day, but have yet to put pen to paper (well, keystrokes to Microsoft Word).

I am also excited about my plan for the evening, which might sound boring to most people: I am going to a meeting with Santa Barbara's representative in California's Assembly, Das Williams, to hear him talk about California's budget, which is in a constant state of crisis. I long wanted to be a lawyer and follow in my civil-rights-defending father's footsteps... until I came to the realization that I was not sure I could emotionally or mentally handle the weight of deciding others' lives with my actions, since any mistakes I made could mean a loss of freedom or loss of life for my clients. Still, I have remained pretty politically engaged, especially with my pet issues: prisoners' rights, women's rights, the environment, and higher education.

I am looking forward to hearing an update on the budget, not least because it directly affects my employment at the University of California. Grad student, undergrads, and faculty at the UC have been fighting and protesting budget cuts, and Jerry Brown, who I voted for, is still proposing an additional $1 billion in cuts to the UCs on top of what has been cut in the last two years, even with his proposals with increased taxes. A sad day for a public university system.

The constant undermining of public support for higher education is one reason that I am thinking strongly of leaving academia when I (finally) finish my PhD. There is no reason to stick around in a system that is making it impossible for me to actually engage with and directly educate students, not just lecture and evaluate them, and yet is still giving them a degree at the end.

If you are interested in reading more about the way that college students are losing out while paying more for a college education in California, you might want to check out the links below. I am just going to put my blinkers on for the next four hours and focus on poetry, and then return to caring deeply about these problems at the town hall meeting this evening.


  • Remaking Higher Education -- a great on-the-ground blog by a UCSB Prof who is involved in the UC administration;
  • "A Perfect Storm in Undergraduate Education," Parts 1 and 2 in the Chronicle of Higher Education;
  • This activity is a fun and interactive way to try to fix California's budget problems.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Love Winning Giveaways!

Don't you? I am so excited that I won some awesome eye-candy recently!  I hope you win a new treat soon yourself -- have you entered my giveaway on Fantabulously Frugal? Win my handmade bobby pins for yourself or a friend just by choosing a favorite item from my shop, Stitching in Circles on Etsy!

stitching in circles bobby pin

I am so grateful to Beth at Stoney Creek Mercantile for sending me one of her adorable vintage berry baskets with a delicate and lovely antique quilt square as a liner. I won it in a giveaway she hosted at her blog, It is perfect for storing all the bobby pins I just made!

stitchingincircles giveaway

stitching in circles

Isn't it pretty? I love that she has found a great way to repurpose beautiful, very loved quilts.

I also won a beautiful set of silver earrings from Rebecca, who designs jewelry and sells it at  She also has a great blog... which is where I found the giveaway! Go check it out for yourself:

These are my adorable new Rebecca earrings -- which just arrived! I was so excited to win Rebecca's give away.  I have great long earrings, but all my posts are really boring, so these are going to be a wonderful new addition to my small jewelry collection.

stitching in circles bobby pin handmade upcycled
image via

And my most recent win is the biggest! I won $100 gift certificate for some gorgeous, super modern art at WOW. The cool paintings are supposed to be for kids' rooms.... and I entered the giveaway thinking I would give it to a friend who just had a baby... but I love them! I am kind of tempted to keep it for myself.  I will probably cave and give it to my friend's newborn, though. I love the fox and the raccoon -- their pointy noses are so cute! And I am very interested to see what mystical creatures show up when they develop that section more. I think they could create some really cute modern elves.
Images below via
I love this foxy fox!
Or should I choose this masked bandit?
I found these mostly through the blog Etsy Giveaways, which is a fantastic aggregate of handmade giveaways. If you are an etsy artisan who is giving away some of your beautiful creations, you should submit the giveaway to them. You might get a lot of people just swinging by for the freebie, but it certainly opens you to a winder audience, some of whom might even spend money later.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Giveaways are Awesome -- Win Mine!

I have discovered giveaways recently and I am actually having one today! I was contacted by Megan from Fantabulously Frugal a while back, and she asked me if if she could do an interview, to which I of course immediately said yes.

My interview and bobbypin giveaway goes live on Fantabulously Frugal TODAY in their Etsy Monday feature! Please visit the site and enter to win: Etsy Monday -- Stitching in Circles Giveaway. I'd love it if one of my followers and friends won these pretty floral bobby pins! The little yoyos are about 1.5 inches wide and are glued and firmly sewn to antiqued brass bobby pins that are about an inch and a half long. Come play in the giveaway -- the winner will be announced on April 11th.

 Exposure like that is great, especially on a site with a wider audience. And I am fantabulously frugal myself, so it is a great match. I hope it will draw lots of views to my shop! I've been busily making lots of bobby pins in anticipation of that. In fact, there is a new set of flowery, bright bobby pins for sale now.
New spring-time bobby pins in my Etsy shop!

I've also been the lucky winner of several giveaways recently, so I know how exciting it is to win them! Good Luck!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

National Poetry Month is Underway!

Celebrate it every way you know how! I will be celebrating it by planning the reading for the summer course I am putting together: "Modernist and Avant-Garde Poetries and their Contexts" .... a bit of a mouthful, but it was the only way to get everything in.

I've also been busy making treasuries to feature some of the wonderful broadsheets and books of poetry available from vintage and handmade sellers on Etsy! I love letterpress, and I am so glad there are other people who have access to presses and can make beautiful editions of poems that I can buy. There is a letterpress machine at UCSB, but I think I'd have to sign up to take a Book Arts course, which would be awesome, but it is such a time commitment! In my last semester of college I took a course in letterpress (to fulfil my arts requirement... when it comes down to it, I really double majored in English in college, I took so many book-based courses). It took me the whole semester to create a broadsheet of the last lines of Joyce's Ulysses and tiny book of quotes about my hometown. I already am spending too little time on my diss as it is.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Capturing the Light

As I mentioned last month, in my post about a new pin I had made, I created a new photography set-up. I am finally getting around to telling you guys about it today.

I am a member of the handemadeology team on etsy, which is a business and promotion oriented team open to all. There is a great blog set up by the founders of the team that you can visit at that  is a wonderful resource for and support for etsy sellers. They have advertising tips and photography tips, and they also promote sellers, which is always appreciated!

I decided to build a cheap little light box based on the instructions provided by handmadeology here.  I didn't want to buy foam board as the tutorial recommends because, as we all know by now, I am CHEAP. Rather,  I currently have several large rolls of lovely artist paper that I bought on sale from a local art supply store, and I figured I could use that instead to line the cardboard box. So, I cut off two sides of a small cardboard box, and measured the bottom and sides of the box against the large roll of lightly-textured white paper.

stitchingincircles handmade upcycled brooch bobby pin
Ta-dahhhh!  This is my wee little lightbox. I didn't do it perfectly, 
obviously, since there is a little area the paper 
doesn't cover in the corner. I need to do something about that.

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