Saturday, December 6, 2008

The HP Knitting/Crochet House Cup!

So, if any of you know me well, I've talked your ear off about The House Cup over at Ravelry. It's this great group of Harry Potter enthusiasts (among which I proudly count myself) who get Sorted into Houses, then compete in a three-month-long series of fiber-related challenges that result in one House winning the House Cup.

Dorky? Definitely!! (To me, that's sort of what makes it so fun, indulging in my HP dorkiness.) Fun? You cannot even believe how fun it is and there is no way I could properly express it to you. Also, I've met some folks through The Cup that I consdier to be real friends, not just "online-friends." The people there just plain rock. Add to all that the challenge of coming up with clever projects for the classes, the fun of learning new techniques, and producing tons of FOs, and it's a game that actually gives you something to show for it. Trust me, it's awesome.

Check it out and tell 'em I sent you!

BB!
~Jeannie

Friday, December 5, 2008

Seven Things

I was tagged by Michelle!!

The Rules
1) Link to your tagger and list all these rules in your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blogs
4) Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

1. I, like Michelle, am also terrified of the dark. I don't like one of my senses being taken from me.
2. I watch holiday movies all year 'round because I like the warm fuzzies I get from them.
3. I'm a huge, harmless flirt; I flirt with just about everyone.
4. I do bellyrolls better from the bottom to the top, which is not the norm.
5. I often dream of running off and living like a wild animal in the woods, using only my wits to survive. If it weren't for my family, I'd do it, too!
6. I'm a Pisces with Aries Moon and Aquarius Rising. Yes, I believe in astrology.
7. Three of my favorite things: the feel of my children asleep against me, the first bite of chocolate, the next new idea.

I'm tagging Donna and Candi! I know it supposed to be seven, but it's my blog, so nyah! lol

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Life is all about synergy

From dictionary.com:

syn·er·gy (sĭn'ər-jē) n.
pl. syn·er·gies

The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Ok, first, I need to apologize for not giving the other half of my Twilight review yet. I'm a slacker. I promise I will get to it!

Now, for the point of this little entry: Synergy. Synergy is basically when the combination of a few things ends up being bigger and better than any of them were when they were apart. A loving relationship can (and hopefully, is) like that. Two people get together, and suddenly, they are greater for being together, they can possibly produce children (really becoming greater than the sum of themselves: 1+1=3... or 4... or 13, whatever) and they are just generally better because they have that other person in their life.

For the record, yes, my marriage is like this. :) It's more than I can describe here.

Anywho, I'm here today to talk about little synergies. The epiphany I had this morning is that I have two ordinary (wonderful, but ordinary) things on hand: sugar cookie dough and Hershey's kisses. My oldest son asked this morning if we could make cookies today. Of course, I said yes. Then, when I realized I have everything on hand to introduce him to a whole new cookie that also happens to be one of my favorites, I literally stopped what I was doing and broke out in the biggest smile!

That simple dough, those chocolate kisses, and maybe a few sprinkles, are going to produce a synergistic combination of a cookie that is truly greater than any one ingredient alone. Also, an afternoon of making cookies, no matter the ingredients, will produce something far greater for me and my kids than just a few batches of goodies.

So, dear reader, look for the moments of potenial synergy in your life, then work to bring about that entelechy. (Look it up, you'll be better for it. ;))

BB!
~Jeannie

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight (no spoilers... I think)

Hey, all! I went to the movies with Mari last night to see Twilight, based on the book by Stephanie Meyer. Subsequent movies will be made from the other books in the series. I've not read the last book in the series yet, but I plan to and I already know the biggest plot points.

I have to say, I hadn't read the last book yet because, frankly... Well, I couldn't stand Bella and Edward in the books. She's so whiny, wimpy, cranky and, to me, oscillates between her all consuming co-dependence on Edward and her need to assert herself by lashing out. In short, she's immature. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with that. Alot of 17 year old girls are, so the character is well written enough that I actually took a personal interest and found that if I were to meet Bella as I read her, I would not like her.

Edward, on the other hand starts out very likable and interesting to me, but as the series wound on, I found him to be forced more and more into some mold of perfection. While many readers love this Romeo and Juliet idea of doomed love and the idea of someone being so enraptured by you that they simply cannot keep away even at the risk of EATING YOU, I find it silly. Again, though, I am not the target audience of young women readers and this is not something I strive for in my own relationships. I'm older, married, and I hope a bit more savvy than I was at 17. So, Edward being idealized more and more throughout the books turned him into some sort of one dimensional, holy martyr who could do no wrong and became Bella's concious. Again, I'm not big on co-dependence.

The characters I loved are Charlie (Bella's dad), Alice (Edward's "sister") and Jacob (friend-turned-love-interest-turned-yet-another-supernatural-being). Charlie is stalwart and awkward with Bella. He is so convincingly drawn that when Bella hurts him, I hated her for it and my heart broke for him. He's protective and loving, but at the same time simply does not know what to do with the raging ball of emotion and clumsy elbows that is the daughter that suddenly decides to live with him. It's clear that he loves her dearly and can't fully express the depth of that love for her, that he's afraid of driving her away so he tends to stand back. In short, Charlie is a great dad trying to deal with a difficult situation and a woman-child he feels out of his depth with.

Alice is clever, confident, and sweet. She's that sassy girl you knew in high school who dressed well, but didn't tear others apart for not doing so. She'd give you a makeover in a minute, and just KNOWS you would love one, right? She is loyal from the moment she gives you that loyalty and when she makes a decision, she moves forward with it confidently and little wavering. With Alice, you have no questions about how she feels about you, because she has the wherewithall to be frank in her relationships. And, she always wants to help, while seeing how much fun she can have at the same time. Alice came into her own when she joined the Cullen clan and has shed many of the demons that plagued her in her previous life, only to turn those very demons into the angels on her shoulder that guide her in a most uncanny way. I like Alice because her previous handicaps didn't defeat her; she now uses them to her best advantage. She came from an awful situation yet she is cheerful and fiery; her joy and love of adventure is infectious.

I also really like Jacob. Jacob is the main character that is most fully formed, in my opinion. He just feels like a real person, flawed and fallible but trying his best. Naturally, because this series is all about Bella (some would argue it's about Bella and Edward, but I disagree), Jacob falls for her big time. She doesn't deserve him and I wish with all my heart he would find someone who truly does. Jacob is warm, friendly, helpful... but he's also angry at times and violent. He has prejudices that go further back than his life, and at times, he is completely unwilling to let them go. He is a friend to Bella before he tried to be anything else. He never pushes her, either to be close to or away from him. He lets her find her own way and is there to help her if she needs it. Through her friendship with Jacob, Bella begins to find her strength and voice. While with Edward, she is weak, obsessed, desperate and petty. Edward treats her like she is made of glass; Jacob teaches her that she's made of steel.

While I feel that Jacob deserved to "win" Bella if anyone did, I'm glad to know that he doesn't in the end. He deserves someone better than Bella. She wants to be who she is with Edward, not who she could be with Jacob, so let her go.

Ok, those are the opinions I went into the movie with. I wanted to go more to have a good time with my friend than anything else, so for me, even if the movie sucked, I'd already gotten everything I wanted out of it. We sat down about twenty minutes before the movie began and it was like a party in there. People were wandering around, talking to friends, lots of giggling and laughing, eatting munchies and just generally having a great time. There was that air of anticipation I've come to expect only at Star Trek premiers. The crowd was giddy! It made it fun to be there, through the millions of previews and commercials. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't just teenaged girls in the seats, either; there were men and women of all ages waiting to view Twilight.

The lights dimmed down, the screen went dark and... a squeal went through the crowd! A squeal! lol I loved it! I love true fans and how absorbed they can become in a story. I love that books touched the lives of all the people sitting there in that theater, even if it just meant taking their girlfriend out to see a movie.

I'm not going to go into a scene-by-scene review of the movie, because none of us really want that. ;) In fact, I'll end it for today and finish the movie review tomorrow.

See you then!
BB!
~Jeannie

Friday, November 21, 2008

More prizes for the crochet design contest!

Prize update!

I've had two prize donation offers since posting this morning! Yay! More goodies!!

So far the prizes stand at:

* A set of handmade stitch markers, made by me. I've been making jewelry for years, so I promise that these will be pretty and functional. :) They will be House Unity Markers, so anyone who wins would be happy to have them.
* The Crochet Liberation Front First Ever Book, generously donated by Camanomade and featuring designs by hookers just like you!
* A set of mini skeins from SixDegreesArts, donated by the wonderful JenniPMcD, the amazing artist who creates the beautiful yarn with the artsy names!
* The winner's choice of an original pattern from the lovely Michelle and her wonderful Ravelry shop! She has a few designs in there now, but she is coming up with some new designs, too!

This is a great list! Let these prizes motivate you to design something! I know you can do it!

BB!
~Jeannie

Crochet Design Contest, and Harry Potter!

My Raverly group, Harry's Happy Hookers, is dedicated to celebrating our love of the Harry Potter Universe through crochet. Frankly, there aren't alot of crochet patterns out there for HP lovers, so I thought we'd try a contest to see if we could come up with a few of our own.

So far, we don't have many prizes, but I'm hoping to get a few more offers for donations. I'm donating a set of HP stitch markers, handmade by me, and Camanomade of the Crochet Liberation Front has offered a copy of the amazing book Crochet Liberation Front First Ever Book, which is in and of itself a celebration of crochet designs by crocheters just like you and me.

Ok, here are the official rules! :) Please feel free to advertise this in your blog, anywhere and everywhere so that we can get tons of new designs! Also, if you know someone who might be willing to donate a prize, please have them contact me!

Harry’s Happy Hookers Crochet Design Contest!

This is a contest with the intent to inspire crocheters to design an original pattern related to the Harry Potter Universe created by JK Rowling. All patterns must be submitted to me, Jeannie/pretywtch, via email by midnight on January 31st, 2009. Judging will then take place and the winner will be announced on February 15th, 2009 in Harry’s Happy Hookers and here in my blog. The winner will receive any announced donated prizes via mail and their pattern will be used in the March Harry’s Happy Hookers CAL. We ask that the winning pattern be made available to Harry’s Happy Hooker’s members during the month of March for free or a very low price and can be distributed individually so as not to make it free for the taking to anyone and everyone. Judging will be done by Me and Anne as moderators of the group Harry’s Happy Hookers on Ravelry.

All patterns must be your own original work (meaning you can’t simply change the color of an existing sock and call it Jeannie’s Slytherin Walk of Fame Sock! and expect that to be considered an original design). They DO NOT have to be taken directly from any movie or still representation of the books, though that is a valid source of inspiration. Please, feel free to create something completely unique. All patterns must be written in standard American crochet terminology, with yarn, hook, and gauge information, though charts and other terminology in addition to this are acceptable. (This is simply because I’m only fluent in standard American, and if I have to translate 15 patterns, I’m going to go crazy and the prizes will never be awarded! lol) The pattern must include at least one picture of the final product and helpful photos of tricky parts or otherwise are highly encouraged. Please contact me directly through Ravmail for my personal email address.

Patterns can be in any form of crochet: filet, Tunisian, illusion, et cetra, as long as it includes a hook and fiber and is traditionally considered crochet. All patterns must have been tested by at least one person other than the designer. It is preferable that the tester be on Ravelry and puts up a project page regarding the testing, though no picture is required in order to maintain proper mystery and excitement!

Pattern Categories:
Wizarding Wearables-clothing and accessories, including jewelry, bags, et cetra (it is a plus to include sizing on these)
Home, Magical Home-afghans and afghan squares, doilies, dishcloths, home decor, adult bath accessories
Care of Magical Creatures-dolls, toys, Amigurumi, bath accessories for children (or the young at heart!)
Muggle Studies-an everyday object as interpreted by a Wizard “What, exactly, is the function of a rubber duck?”
Diagon Alley-anything and everything else!

Please take these categories as a jumping off point to help guide and inspire you, not as hard-and-fast structure that you must adhere to. Let your inspiration take you where it will!

You may enter as many times as you’d like, with designs being submitted individually. Each entry will be considered separately and must include:
Your legal name
Mailing address
Email address
Rav name (if applicable)
Tester’s name(s)
Pattern Category
Type or method of crochet
Name of design
Pattern as outlined above
At least one picture of the finished product
Are you a member of Harry’s Happy Hookers on Ravelry?
If not, how did you hear about our contest?

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. If you would like to donate a prize, please contact me directly.

Thank you and BB!
~Jeannie

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Isn't it interesting....

... how some people read other people's blogs, see something about them (no names, BTW) and get terribly offended? What did you expect? After all, you are reading someone else's personal thoughts, feelings, ramblings, maybe even rants... you're peeking in where you already know you're an outsider, a voyeur. Secretly, you're thrilled to see yourself mentioned, admit it. Then, when it's not the most flattering thing, even when you know it's that person's truth, honestly spoken yet not bitchy, you become offended and utter some vague threat, offer some illusive reckoning. The comments weren't even that bad, really, and seriously, nothing you didn't already know.

Well, what did you think would happen? What did you expect to find there? If it were about someone else, you wouldn't think twice about it. However... this was about YOU. So, it's clearly different and clearly Something Must Be Done. Should we all censor ourselves in our own forums in order to keep the peace? Should we only publish kind, thoughtful, and above all, flattering, complimentary, toadying comments about those we know and love? Maybe our thoughts should be that way, too. What if someone could see into my head? Maybe I should only think sweet thoughts, thoughts of loving kindness toward every person I deal with every single day. Then, one day in the not-so-near future, I could snap under the strain of my self-wrought falsehood and either commit homicide or suicide, depending on whether my caged loathing has turned outward or inward. I am, after all, not the Dalai Lama, and as far as I know, only one person is. As much as I strive to think only loving thoughts, I understand my imperfection.

I rarely intend to hurt anyone's feelings, and most people I know are the same way. However, if I read someone's blog, I understand that I am entering "Them Land!" It's all about them. If I appear at all, I am a mere accessory to their existence: I'm a pink plastic Barbie couch. You know what? That's ok, because on my blog, they are probably relegated to being a faux pearl ring. My blog is "Me Land!" Come on in! BUT, don't be offended when it's not about you. Don't get your feelings hurt when I rant about what stupid thing you've done now... again. Don't get snarky when I'm honest with my blog in a way you've made it impossible for me to be with you in person.

There is a simple rule regarding life that I think everyone should know and follow: You probably don't want to know what everyone thinks of you, so don't ask. The follow-up to that rule is: However, if you do ask (in this example by reading a blog), you better be ready to put on your big girl panties and deal. You knew what you were getting into and unless the comments include your name, address, phone number, picture, libel, or blatant, damaging lies, you really don't have a leg to stand on. After all... you did enter into "Them Land!" The passport does not guarantee a smooth ride. It's not fair to not allow anyone a place to be who they really are, deep down, in the dirty, sticky bits where nothing ever really stops hurting. It's not fair to amputate someone's anger, their defense, their hurt because it's ugly and it offends you with it's terrible truth. It's as much a part of who we are as the sunny smile and compassionate heart, the giving nature and the loving hands. It's not pretty, but it's not public, either. You opened the box, Pandora. Now you've got to take what you get.

BB!
~Jeannie

Friday, November 7, 2008

Small updates

We'll be off to Alabama for the weekend to celebrate Grampa's life and mourn his passing with his whole, extended family. Sad trip.

I'll be absent from the debut of Elements at First Friday tonight. I'm really bummed about that; however, I know they are going to be GREAT! If you live around here and read this in time, please go see them in front of Two Broads on Broad tonight at 7PM.

I had blogged previously about NaNoWriMo this year. I had pretty much decided to do it, then all of the sudden, life hit. Being away from my computer for four days is disastrous in NaNoWriMo land, and I'm just too stressed out to concentrate. I would have overcommitted myself with NaNo, so I'll shelve the plotline I have in my head until next year.

Ugh, I'm sort of crappy to be around today, so I'll close and write on a happier day.

::hugs::
~Jeannie

Thursday, November 6, 2008

End of Days

I'm sad to say that my husband's Grandfather died last night after a long, debilitating struggle with his health. Although I never knew him as a well man, and he declined drastically in the time I knew him, when he was lucid, his personality was warm, sweet, and funny. My kids, particularly my youngest, enjoyed him, and I'm glad they had the opportunity to know him, even in the limited capacity of his illness.

As I said, his abilities declined rapidly during the years I've known him. He didn't seem to enjoy life, when he was aware of it, anymore. His care has been taking a serious toll on Grandmother, his loving wife and caregiver. For her sake, I will not say what seems obvious to me. However, I will say that, now that he has gone to the eternal rest, I hope she will take some time to rest, heal, and grieve. I'm not quite sure what she is going to do with herself without him there, needing her.

My husband has been mourning the man he knew as a child for a long time. Jason felt that his Grandfather no longer had the quality of life he deserved, that his dignity was being stripped away at a time when he should be basking in the light of a life well-lived. It was painful for him to see his Grandfather's mind and health fail, to see his memories flee and the confusion in his eyes when he looked at his family.

I hope he has gone to something better, even if that is a simple end to pain, to confusion and fear, to struggle. I hope Grandmother, my mother- and father-in-law, and Aunt Sandy bear this as well as they can. They all have a strong faith, and a loving family. I hope it is enough.

We'll miss you, Grampa.

Love,
~Jeannie

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day




I woke up this morning, and it felt like something fundamental in my world had shifted. Something had shifted toward optimism, toward renewal and healing, toward humility and gratitude, toward shared responsibility and the chance to try. My country made me so proud last night. Together, we elected our first President of color, and not just because he was a candidate of color, but because we feel he's the best man for the job. To me, that is the only reason to elect someone, but I recognize that voting for a black man took alot of people out of their comfort zones. And, yet, they did it anyway. How could I not be proud and humbled but such an act after eight years of sadness, fear, and marginalization?

I am full of hope and excitement for what the future will bring. I know it's not going to happen in a day or a year of days, but this is the first step toward reclaiming our country. We will start to build bridges around the globe rather than stockades and our children will be safer for it. We will value health and its care as a right rather than a commodity. We will cherish education for everything it offers our people as individuals and as a nation and not see it as a privilege of a very privileged few. Most of all, we will all work together and not expect a handout because a helping hand was not possible before. Please, let the motivation of election day last in my people. Don't let that fire, that drive, or that feeling of power die! Yes We Can now needs to be Yes We Will! We've made a promise with our votes; let's keep it.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On a different note, I was taking my son to school this morning, and I saw something that I haven't seen in about five years: fall color. Normally South Carolina experiences the change of season as a subtle, slow show of little note. This morning, though not the vibrant riot of color I'm used to in West Virginia, the trees lining the road to my son's school were a carnival of hue and shade. The cold snap we've been experiencing is bringing the color out. This morning, of all mornings, it seems to reflect the subdued hope in my heart, the longing for a better day and a better leader, the hopeful reservation that believes, yet understands the humanity involved. Like the trees here, it seems as a country we needed to experience the cold snap of hardship to really shine. Let me tell you, it was a beautiful morning.

(The tree shown above is typical of the trees we see here and is always of the most vibrant. They've always been here, always this bright in the fall, but until the trees around it took on color, too, they were the lone messengers of change.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Founding Members of Elements!!

Mari and I are very proud to announce the founding members of Elements, Augusta's first all Tribal Improv dance company! Please join us in congratulating:

Donna Matthews
Sandee Wells
Evadne Medina
Barbara Shine
Nicole Gutierrez
Latoya Quiles
Kimberly Huttar
Kristen McAlevy

These women performed admirably at the audition yesterday and we were simply blown away with their knowledge of Alchemy's tribal style, their smiles, their composure, and their personalities. We are excited to be working with them and we can't wait for you to meet them at their premier performance at First Friday on November 7th!

So, with a resounding zaghareet, join us in welcoming Elements!!!

If you missed this audition, no worries! We will have future auditions and will announce them here with plenty of notice.

BB!~Jeannie

Monday, October 13, 2008

Alchemy at Southern Mirage 2008




Check out other performances that night, too!

http://www.youtube.com/user/AlchemyMEDance

Friday, October 10, 2008

A request..

Hey there, everyone,

As you all may know, I've been out of work for quite a while. As a matter of fact, this Sunday will mark one year since I lost my last job. Today, I was doing what I normally do: after taking care of the kids, doing some housework, and loving on the baby, I browse the local job listings. Well, let me tell you: it had been slim pickin' for a long while. Ideally, I'd like a job where I could get off around 2PM so I only had to pay for daycare for one child, instead of Xay going to afterschool care as well as Corwin being in all day long. It really kills me to be away from my kids, especially now that I've had this long stretch being with them constantly. However, our situation is becoming desperate, and I know that even if my husband doesn't think that I'm aware. :)

Most of the jobs available that I've seen have been swing shift type jobs that would make things very difficult for my family. However, with nothing else offered, I've been applying for anything and everything. Today, thought, I was cruising carrerbuilder.com and one job just popped out at me. My first thought was: I'd be perfect for that job! So, I instantly whipped up a nice cover letter and applied.

Now, to my request: I wholeheartedly believe in the power of positive thinking. In the vein, I'm asking that anyone who reads this, please keep me and my family in your thoughts. Send me prayers, wishes, good vibes, whatever you believe in so that I find a job that's really good for my family. I've got my fingers crossed. :)

Thank you!

BB!
~Jeannie

New purse!




I made this wonderful little purse over the last week. And I love it! For more details look here and here. You'll see me with this soon! :):)

BB!
~Jeannie

Friday, October 3, 2008

Don't vote.... unless....

Win some Handspun!

JC oveer at Garnfiti is having a contest and you coudl win some beautiful handspun yarn! Check it out and enter!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Elements!!

Alchemy is very excited to announce that we will be holding open auditions for a new all-improv troupe named Elements!

Elements will be an Improvisational Tribal Style amateur troupe affliliated with Alchemy. What does this mean? Well, it means you don't have to memorize any choreography for Elements, but you DO have to be very comfortable with Alchemy's style of improv and be ready to lead and follow with a spirit of Tribal sisterhood. It means you get to wear all the beautiful costuming and jewelry you've bought but don't get alot of opportunities to dance in. It means you get to peek into life in a professional troupe, without the time or other commitments. Best of all, it means that if you are interested in dancing more than you currently do, for an audience, you'll get that chance. Plus you get Alchemy's years of experience to help find appropriate, safe places to dance that will be fun and exciting. You also get the benefit of intense monthly training with Alchemy to learn new cues and movement, polish skills you already have, and get the inside scoop on local happenings.

Don't worry, Alchemy will be holding the auditions on Sunday, October 19th, so you have time to polish your improv skills in classes with Mari, private lessons with me, Jeannie, or classes with Donna or Kristin. If there is interest, we can also provide a three-hour "crash course" workshop in our cueing system to get you ready for the audition.

Who can audition? Really, anyone within the CSRA or surrounding area that can consistently commit to rehearsals and shows. We strongly encourage our students to audition and those who have prior improv experience outside of Alchemy. Even if you decide not to join, the audition process can really help you gauge your skill level and give you honest critique.

So, what does this audition entail, you ask? You will have the opportunity to dance with a small group of others who are also auditioning, ensuring that everyone has a chance to lead and follow. Mari and I will be looking at your ability to lead confidently, to lead in such a way that is beneficial to the rest of the group following, your consistency following cues, your comfort level with and knowledge of Alchemy's cueing system. We will also be gauging how you work within the group. Group dynamics are the heart and soul of ATS (Alchemy Tribal Style). We won't be releasing the song you will be dancing to beforehand because we want you fresh and giving us true improv. Please wear something comfortable, a skirt, harem pants (pantaloons) , and something around the hips is encouraged, but not necessary.

If you are interested, please email troupe@alchemydance .com. We will give you more info, including emailing you a copy of the Elements troupe contract that outlines the responsibilities expected of every troupe member. Please contact us if you are planning on coming to audition. Space is limited and we want to try to give everyone interested a chance to try.

Questions? Concerns? Please, let me know!! :)

BB!
~Jeannie
Co-director
Alchemy Middle eastern Dance Troupe

Sunday, September 28, 2008

To Nano or not to Nano...

That truly is the question. Though I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, and truly enjoyed the writing and comraderie that came along with it, I feel guilty taking up any other fun stuff up when I don't have a job. I want to do it, and I already have a bit of a plotline and character sketch going, along with the requisite research. It seems I can't write a story without fact-checking, symbolism and general not-seen-by-the-reader nerdiness. I just have to know the place I'm coming from completely, even if it doesn't make it into the story.

So, will I or won't I? Hmm.....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Two blogs in one day? What?

I know, nothing for almost a month, and then two entries in one day! Sheesh!

Well, this one was inspired by Dogquilter, who left me a wonderful, uplifting and kind comment on my previous post. I saw this on her blog and found it interesting. Find out what YOUR name means!


What Jeannie Means
You are fair, honest, and logical. You are a natural leader, and people respect you.
You never give up, and you will succeed... even if it takes you a hundred tries.
You are rational enough to see every part of a problem. You are great at giving other people advice.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

What to write about....?

I've had alot going on lately, and alot more coming up in the next few weeks, and I've been wanting to update my blog. I just can't seem to figure out what to write about.

A couple of friends have acted in such a way as to disappoint me recently, but out of consideration for them, I can't write about it in a public blog, even if it is supposed to be a sort of diary and I have desperately wanted to write just to process everything. Suffice it to say, one friend made me angry with passive-agressive behavior she is known for and that causes me to continually question why I remain connected to her at all. The other wrote a couple of things on her blog that just twisted my stomach into knots to read and lead me to write a letter to her that made me cry the entire way through and then delete her and her husband from my friends list.

So, that's been a bit wrenching!

I've also wanted to write about the upcoming presidential election. I'm more intellectually involved with this race than any other, and I've been voting for fifteen years now (yep, I started promptly at 18). I'm not a particularly political person, inherently, but I do feel it is a priviledge and responsibility to participate in my country's election process. I feel honored to have the opportunity to take part in the selection of our leaders, and I take it seriously. I wish more people would. This year is pivotal and important, so please, please, please vote and encourage everyone you know to do the same. I honestly do not care who you vote for, just cast that vote!! Especially if you are a member of a minorty group. You have a voice in the voting booth, and you must use it if you want to make this country a better place for you and your children!

Educating yourself about the issues is the biggest favor you can do for yourself. Make an informed decision, please don't just vote out of some illusory party loyalty, family tradition, or because someone (your parents, your spouse, your religious leader) told you to. Vote your heart and mind, which means you need to know which candidates' ideas best align with yours. And, remember, you are voting for TWO people, not just one in presidential campaigns! You don't have to tell anyone who you voted for. Heck, you can even lie if you feel you have to! But, there is no one in there with you. When you step up to cast your vote, only you know who you chose, you only have to answer to yourself and your Gods. Don't be bullied into giving someone your support, stand up for yourself and your values! You can do this! It's THAT important!

Speaking of candidates, I will say that my research has lead me to support Barack Obama wholeheartedly. I am a long-suffering liberal, though admittedly not nearly as liberal as my beautiful huband. I usually align myself with Democratic candidates, but I've been known to vote outside party lines when the candidate is right. Please don't leave hateful comments if you disagree. I respect your right and ability to disagree, and I won't be drawn into any sort of debate. This is a personal opinion and a personal decision. I'm not here to convince you because only you can make your choice, but I will challenge you to get educated on your choices and look at the issues and candidates with an open mind. There are a great many things I admire and respect John McCain for, and he has done many great things, of that there is no doubt. However, I don't vote on one or two issues. I don't vote on soundbites and political ads. I don't vote because of gender or race anymore than I vote AGAINST it (both are terrible and unacceptable; either way you are excluding someone because of somethinn they can't change). I vote on information about the people running, about how they conduct themselves and their campaigns, on their values and stances, on their responses and reactions, on their records and promises, and on my instinct. Please, please, please, vote on those things as well.

On the fiber front, I've been very busy as well. I recently learned to spin from my friend Donald, whose lovely wife Donna I met through Ravelry. They are quite a couple and one I hope to get to know more and I already enjoy their company immensely! I've been running a comprehensive crochet-along on my group, Harry's Happy Hookers, on Ravelry in which we are making several toys for Care of Magical Creatures. It's fun and all the toys are animals from the HP Universe. I'm also participating in the Harry Potter Knitting/Crochet House Cup, and that is a blast! I've been crocheting my heart out for the good of Slytherin House, to which I belong in this competition, and I've gotten alot of cool FOs out of the deal, so win-win. You can check out my Ravelry project list for some pics and details, if you're interested.

On to bellydance: We've been dancing our hearts out, creating new shows, preparing for upcoming shows, getting some great kudos and feedback, and just generally running around like chickens with our heads cut off. It's fun, but dang! I'm ready for a bit of a break. We had t-shirts and buttons made with our logo on black, so let me know if you're interested in wearing the logo of the next big thing in bellydance! :) Also, check out our website for info on where we are, what we are up to, and how you can get us for performances and workshops. Oh, and vote for us (#23, Alchemy) in IAMED's Belly Dance Photo Contest! We made it to the finals out of thousand's of submitted photos, and we'd love to do well!! Thanks in advance for your support!

Family life: I'm happier than I've ever been, getting to see the kids and my husband so much, but it is increasingly obvious that I must have a job very, very soon. So, send me good vibes that I get something that is good for my family and myself soon. And, if you know of anywhere in the CSRA, especially North Augusta, where I might inquire about teaching bellydance classeson a weekly basis, please let me know!

Ok, I think that's all for now. :)

BB!
~Jeannie

Friday, August 22, 2008

My first solo!

video

Here I am performing my first solo to Mourina by El Almaas Band from The World of Bellydance, Vol 3, Disc 1 at the Diamond Lakes Library on July 21, 2008 during the Tour De Libraries. It was scary! Please refer to this blog entry to see why I look so terrified! lol

BB!

~Jeannie

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Southern Fusion Fest 2008

(Pics to come when they are available. :))

Southern Fusion Fest 2008

I just had the perfect bellydance weekend. While that about sums up my experience at SFF this year, I want to tell you why, so that next year, you make sure that you are there to take part in this fantastic event.

First of all, what is Southern Fusion Fest? SFF is a new event that takes place in Athens, GA, sponsored by Southern Fusion Productions. This three-day festival of workshops, shows, and shopping began in 2007 in Atlanta, GA, but has now moved to a permanent home in Athens, and I think it’s a huge improvement; more on that later. With SFF, Fatina and Liora, the movers and shakers of Southern Fusion productions, offer something completely unique in the bellydance world: a festival that features Cabaret, Tribal and Master level tracks, allowing the attendees to pick and choose the classes that teach what they want to know.

So, you ask, why is that so great? Well, I’m here to tell you! Where else can you go and find classes that range from the incomparable Zafira’s Supah Saucy conveying their trademark high-energy Vaudeville style all the way to the venerated Tamalyn Dallal sharing secrets to Dancing Long Rhythms. From the feminine elegance of Tamara-Henna teaching the timeless spirit of Saidi to amazing strength, range and power of Moria Chappell teaching everything from Floorwork to Tunisian, Southern Fusion Fest is not only offering classes for those who want them, SFF is exposing entire communities to each other. The best way for us to build a better dance community is to see who’s living on the other side of the dance tracks, and you can do that at SFF. Cabaret dancers who’ve never known the fierce beauty of a Tribal grrl get a chance to chat with and get to know the women behind the facial markings. Fusion artists that have never set foot in a Cabaret class, get to see and appreciate the incredible strength beneath the delicate grace of the Cabaret dancer. We find that we all shop at the same vendors, we all love the same breathtaking shows, and at heart, we are all just dancers, without genre, definitions, or limits.

For those who are brave enough, you can blur the lines that we use to define bellydance styles and take the classes that interest you the most. Think of it like a big box of crayons: you have the deep, rich earth tones of Tribal, the bright, flashy colors of Folkloric, and the sparkly pastels of Cabaret. On their own, they are beautiful ranges exploring a style, but together, they paint a whole spectrum of complimentary shades. At SFF, you can pick up some new hues that will make your art pop. You may not decide that the communal Tribal life is for you, but you may just change your mind for the better about the women who dip their hips to the earth with their dance sisters. You may never don the gleaming bedlah and flowing skirts of Egyptian Cabaret, but you may find a new respect and reverence for the dancers that float across the stage, holding an entire audience in thrall all by themselves.

Using myself as an example, I can show why SFF really is the place to be if you want to become a well-rounded, educated dancer and you want to take classes with the best of the best in the bellydance world. I consider myself a Tribal Fusion dancer because I prefer dancing with a troupe (that’s the tribe in our Tribal) and I like to combine elements of theater and other dance styles into my bellydance (that’s the Fusion). My troupe does fully-choreographed shows as well as cue-based improvisational numbers, so we really get the best of all worlds. Because I identify as such, I’m in no way limited in the classes I take, so being at SFF, I was able to take classes in all tracks. However, everyone who attends SFF has the chance to see how the “other half” lives. You can take whatever classes you want! I took most of my classes in (GASP!) the Cabaret track.

Why? Am I defecting? Am I betraying my Tribal roots? No way! First of all, it’s not a betrayal in any sense; I’m exploring dance and movement, and I’m not so arrogant as to think that any dance is better than another or that anyone has all the answers, tricks, tips, and good ideas. Second, I never get to take these classes, and I want to take advantage of new concepts and movements whenever and wherever I get the chance. Third, the instructors were all just the best of the best, and I would be stupid to pass up the chance to study with someone who is really at the top of their game just because they don’t do the exact same kind of dance as I do. I mean, seriously, Tamalyn Dallal? She could have been teaching basic carpentry and I would have been there with my tool belt and nails! Even the classes that weren’t specifically dance were amazing; I can’t say enough good stuff about Cathy Jackson and her inspirational Yoga, without which I would never have gotten through the 26+ hours of dance instruction I took this weekend. I can honestly say that of the ELEVEN classes I took, I came out of each one excited and satisfied, saying “That was my favorite class!”

The classes sound great, don’t they? Well, you’re right, they are. Fatina and Liora have both danced in Cabaret and Tribal worlds, so they really know who to get for the festival. But, the classes are just one aspect of SFF. You get to see the instructors outside of the classroom as well. Maybe you run into Olivia of Zafira in the vendor area and you get to chat with her about the cool music she’s enjoying at the moment. Or, maybe it’s Moria before the show and she compliments you on your costuming just before you go onstage. It could be that you’re out getting a bite after the show and you run into two instructors that just blew you away onstage, and you end up laughing and joking on the sidewalk. It may even just be that you pass someone in the hallway at your hotel, and though you’re feeling too shy to say anything, you are overcome with excitement that you just saw Megha of Devyani and you run back to your room to tell your friends, in a frenzy that you get to take her class later that day. At Southern Fusion Fest, the instructors aren’t sequestered; they are available, shopping right next to you, or perusing the catered lunch. Pluck up the courage and give a smile or hello; if nothing else, you’ll get one back and have a story to tell when you get home.

Along with the great workshops, SFF features two shows. Friday’s show is a little smaller and the feel is less formal, being in a nightclub setting; but the dancers featured are in no way small or informal! It’s fun to kick back after your first day of workshops and have a meet-n-greet with other convention-goers, the local dance community, the instructors, and the staff of Southern Fusion Productions. Saturday’s show is a more formal stage show, featuring the instructors and a few additional guests, and has been really impressive both times I’ve been lucky enough to see it. When you have such great instructors, you’re bound to have a great show! I won’t go into details of the shows because we’d be here all day, but suffice it to say that you will be left with sore cheeks for all the smiling, stinging fingers from all the clapping and a glad heart from all the beautiful dancing.

So, I’ve talked about the classes, the instructors, and the shows. There are just a few more things I want to cover to demonstrate the brilliance of this fest. First, the vendors: Vendor’s Row was literally teeming with everything a dancer could want from the simplest bindi to the most elaborate Beledi dress, from kick-arse leather belts to three-finger carnelian rings. The selection was amazing, and the vendors were helpful and sincere, without trying to shove their stock down your throat. This year, there was a very talented henna artist available as well, and I was constantly jealous of the beautiful works of arts, both in traditional henna and glitter henna, adorning bodies throughout the weekend. Next time, I’m getting some glitter henna!!

The final point I want to mention is Athens itself. Last year, SFF was in Atlanta. While there are advantages to having a festival in a major metropolitan area (lots of hotels, mass transit and taxi availability, nearby airport, and the urban nightlife) there are also decided disadvantages (insane traffic, difficult navigation, tiring cross-town treks, and all the little things that come with being in a large, unfamiliar city). Sadly, the disadvantages outweighed the advantages for me last year, so the move to Athens was absolutely inspired. Everything, and I mean everything, was within walking distance: the hotel, the convention center where all vending, classes, and the Saturday show occurred, the nightclub that hosted the Friday show, lots of great places to shop and eat, nightlife, even convenience stores. The organic grocery was only a short mile away, so we were able to resist fast, processed food, and get really nourishing food for all the new muscles we were building. Being within walking distance meant not searching or paying for parking, and we could grab a coffee on the way if we needed it. The hotel was more like an apartment, which was perfect for the six women staying in our room, and the staff was friendly and helpful. The catering at the workshops and the Friday show was fantastic, provided by Dondero’s Kitchen. The Classic Center was impeccable: clean, well-maintained, and efficient with a staff that treated us all like we were their grandkids or sisters. It was really a nice change from the chilly reception you get at some festivals.

Speaking of chilly, I have to mention the one tiny complaint I had this year: the classrooms were very cold. So much so that I strained a calf muscle that seized up on the first day, in my first class, causing me to audit the rest of my classes for that day in an effort to be sure I could perform the next night. With some gentle stretching, Tylenol, sleep, planning and good sense, I got through the rest of the weekend just fine. Next year, could we turn up the thermostat just a tad? I wore a long-sleeved shirt during Moria’s entire Tunisian workshop, if that tells you anything! Ha!

I have to say, I’m hoping and praying that Fatina will continue this gorgeous event she has created for all of us to enjoy. I know how many commitments she has in her personal life, along with the responsibilities of running a troupe, teaching classes, performing, and just having a few moments to herself once in a while, so putting together and hosting SFF is a monumental task that she pulls off, with her army of students and volunteers along with her partner in crime, Liora. And, you know, I’ve never seen her without that beautiful smile on her face, though she might be too tired to eat, or running to put out all the little fires that come along with events like this, or teaching her own workshops at SFF. She always sincerely thanks everyone who attends, teaches, volunteers, dances, or just supports those of us who do, and ultimately, that is the heart and soul of SFF. There is a genuine desire to bring dancers together in one place to learn, laugh, dance and appreciate one another.

Do yourself a favor, get to Southern Fusion Fest. You’ll come away feeling refreshed, excited, and happy. You’ll meet new heroes and find wonderful new treasures. Most and best of all, you’ll make friends you wouldn’t at a single-discipline festival. I know I did!

BB!
~Jeannie

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wanna see some pics?












Ok, image heavy, with very little commentary! Here are some pics from the Desert daemons photo shoot this past Sunday! Yay!! note all the crocheted goodness. :)




Sunday, August 10, 2008

Creation!

I don't have any pics for you at the moment, but I will soon. Very soon in fact... like later today (as it's 1:33 AM at the moment). My troupe is getting ready for a big show next weekend at Southern Fusion Fest (SFF) so we've created a really cool new choreo, which means really cool new outfits. As soon as I get pics, I'll post them here. Just as an idea of what has gone into my outfit for this choreo, here is a list of what I created with my own two little hands:

  • A vest. Not just any vest either, a show-stopping, make-your-mouth-water-with-envy vest. Created from a reclaimed suit vest that I cropped and chopped to get it to the right shape and silouhette for bellydance, then spray painted lightly with a light gold paint to give it a dusty look. Added a few darts, some lace, a shiny, metallic stencil treatment to the back, some brassy nailheads, and oh, did I mention the amazing stand-up collar of gilded black feathers? No, well, I should have because it's frickin' awesome! Yeah, I'm happy with how this turned out. :)
  • A top to wear under the vest. I deconstructed a stretch lace top to make a nice little top to go under the vest. I think it's going to look great!

  • A new beaded necklace. Made with a metal component as the focal, to which I added a small mirror to, and soapstone, plastic, and wood beads, and shell slivers, it looks like something a jungle queen would wear. I was totally inspired with materials I already had on hand, and I cannot believe how much I like the finished product. I already had a custom-made necklace of Mari's lined up and I turned it down for my own handmade beauty.

  • Earrings. Actually, I'm still working on these. I had one made and I lost the other hoop, so I'm going to have to start over or use something I already have. I haven't decided, because I love being able to counter compliments with a "Thank you! I made it!" and earrings are one area where it seems to really impress folks. They just don't expect most people to make earrings like the crocheted ones I've been making. It's fun and gratifying. :) If I do make them, they are going to be big hoops with metallic crochet, making them huge and impactful. I already have the pattern worked out. Man, I gotta find that other hoop! I'd rather just make one more rather than a whole new pair. Maybe I'll wear something ready-to-wear for the photo shoot tomorrow and something I've made for next Saturday when we perform.

  • A belt. I used this pattern: Feminine Lace Belt. I played with the yarn and the hook, though, so it's a little different. I made it out of worsted weight cotton in Ecru from Peaches and Creme, then I tea-dyed it for an aged, worn look, and added buttons, shells, and camel bells. It's a bit weighty, so I added some hidden safety pins to make sure it doesn't fall off during the show. I'm really proud of it and I think it's going to work perfectly with the overall look.

  • Two Hipsters. One is made in this shape, and the other in this. Those are examples from my Etsy shop; the two I'm wearing are in different fabrics that compliment the costume I'm building. FYI: Hipsters are little skirts I make to wear over pants when dancing. Not just bellydance, either, but any dance.

  • A headband. Another crocheted creation, I actually made this for this costume a couple of months ago. I just decided to added some metal medallions on the sides, though, so I'd better get cracking on those! I need to make some more headbands. I love how they finish off a costume or outfit and you can make exactly what you want. I've also had a few people hint to wanting me to add them to my Etsy shop. I can't wait until I have a bit of time to add some more items to my shop!

  • Two cowrie falls. Instead of using these in my hair, as it traditional to Tribal Style bellydance, I'm going to wear them at the hips. I made these a couple of years ago to sell, and I just couldn't let them go. Even though I love them so much, I haven't yet had the opportunity to wear them. Here's a pic that should also give you a pretty good idea of the color scheme:

Ok, so that's part of what I've been up to lately. I've also been test crocheting like a madwoman on a challenging halter top. It's a little advanced for me, but I'm learning alot! As soon as the pattern is released, I'll post pics.

Just a little update, more soon!

BB!

~Jeannie

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How NOT to choreograph a bellydance solo.

Hello, everyone!

My troupe, Alchemy, wrote a new policy into our troupe contract about a year ago stating that each member had to have at least one solo prepared, preferably one traditional and one non-traditional.

Well, I'm not a big fan of solos, and I've never made a secret of that. Why, you ask? Well, I enjoy the challenge and dynamics of a group of dancers working together to make a complete show. I respect soloists and I realize it takes something special to hold an entire stage by yourself. However, if you are a soloist, and an experienced performer, short of falling on your butt or out of your top, no one ever has to know if you mess up because it's just you out there. You're independent, a free agent, no one depends on you and you don't depend on anyone! You have no one else on stage to support you, and because of that, you get all the glory or all the infamy when the music stops.

When you dance in a troupe, it's a completely different story. You are all dependant on each other, sort of like the Three Musketeers: all for one and one for all. It takes something special to choreograph a number for multiple people, and then there are the weeks of practice to get the blocking just right, make transitions to new formations smooth, make sure each member knows their part and their part within the whole, then practice practice practice to cement timing. Angles have to be perfect, every arm or hand in place, the group must move as a single entity, even when everyone is doing something unique, everyone has to share the vision and believe in it so that when the music stops, the audience suddenly snaps back to reality and starts to breathe again. You share the applause with everyone on that stage, and you are proud to do so because you know how challenging it can be to wrangle all that talent, creativity and ego into a cohesive unit and you know everyone put themselves aside to support the group and create something greater than the sum of its parts. You really have to put your ego in check when dancing in a group, and it is both incredibly humbling and amazingly uplifting.

When I first started dancing with Alchemy, I was completely unknown. And, due partly to the transformation that takes place when going from ordinary, everyday person to fabulous, larger-than-life stage persona, I remained unknown for years. I would greet dancers before a show, before I was made up and in costume, and even though I'd met them on several previous occasions and I'm co-director of my troupe, they would have no idea who I was or they wouldn't know my name. This lead to a bit of an identity crisis for me for a little while, but in the end, I simply couldn't give up dancing. I love to perform, but even more, I love to choreograph, my favorite part of being in Alchemy is hatching a new vision and presenting it fully-formed to my group, from the song to the costuming, from the choreography to the emotion and backstory that we are trying to present. I simply love it.

Now, back to the solo. The reason Mari and I wanted to write the solo into the contract was to give people the incentive to learn to choreograph a bit, the experience of bringing their vision to the stage, from beginning to end. As of July 12th, everyone else in Alchemy has gone through the trial-by-fire that is a solo. I was the sole holdout, and I was one of the people who made this a requirement for everyone else. How could I be so hypocritical? I knew I just had to get it over with. It wasn't the the performance that I was struggling with, it was the choreographing for just one person. Suddenly, I felt like I was an artist with just one color in my palette. BOOOR-ring!!!

So, like I do whenever faced with a task I'm truly dreading, I procrastinated. I had picked out a song for my traditional solo way back in September of last year: Redemption by Solace. I've been wanting to choreo this song for YEARS! and I thought this might be a good song to use for my solo. The more I worked with it, though, the more repetitious it seemed and the more I couldn't get ideas for a group number out of my head. I simply avoided the whole subject for months when newer members of the group had already performed their solos. Mari has done a solo or two before Alchemy formed, so she wasn't pressed to perform another one in any certain time frame. But when even she choreographed a new solo and performed it at a recent library show, I really felt the pressure. I committed myself to perform my solo at the next library show, which occurred this past Monday on July 21st. I could no longer procrastinate.

Well, I managed to hem-haw around until the very day of the performance. We were set to go on at 7PM, and around 1PM I picked out a new song. From there, I listened to the song over and over until the moment the show started, even while showering, dressing and doing makeup and hair, and driving over. I wrote out the music, breaking it down into groups of eight-counts to start the choreo process. I choose a short song for the same reason you tear off a band-aid: it's just easier than a long, drawn-out ordeal! The song I decided to go with is Mounira by El Almaas Band from The World of Bellydance Volume 3, disc 1. I managed to choreograph and memorize the whole number, and I performed it without a hitch. Right now, it's a blur, and I can't remember much of it other than the fact that I managed to not mess it all up! lol Mari taped it for me, but I haven't gotten the courage up to watch it yet. If it's any good and I put it up on YouTube, I'll let ya know. I'm going to be performing it again next Tuesday, July 29th at our last performance in our Summer Library Tour, so no one can say I didn't fulfill my obligation! LOL

On one hand, I'm proud of myself for a couple of reasons: I managed to create a solo, from beginning to end, within a matter of hours. I also managed to perform it without incident that same day. I even wrote out the music and choreography, which I NEVER do! (Mari is always the responsible one when it comes to our group numbers. Thanks, Mar!) This way, I can reproduce it as necessary, or we can flesh it out for a duet or group number. And, finally, I just plain got it done and over with.

On the other hand, I'm not so proud of the fact that I had to be under the gun to get it finished. I let my dislike of solo choreo beat my usual sticktoitiveness and creativity. I didn't stand up as a good example for my troupe and I'm embarrassed about that.

So, that is how NOT to create a bellydance solo: do not start it the day of the show. Do yourself a favor, get prepared and be ready in advance. You'll be glad you did! Then again, there's not alot of time to be nervous about performing when you are frantically trying to remember the choreo! lol

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh, happy day!! (Image Heavy)

Well, friends, it's been a pretty danged good day. With it being Summer, I'm spending every day with my two wonderful kids. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I want to pull my hair out, but I don't want to trade this time for anything, which is why I'm struggling so hard to earn money through my Etsy and Avon sites.

Also, I met a friend of mine, April, for lunch today. She's 15 weeks pregnant and she looks great pregnant. I'm happy for her and it was really nice to see her again. The kids played in the play area after she left and I got to play some Sudoku, which is rare and niiiiiiicccce!

THEN! I got home and my oldest got the mail. Now, I'm expecting some yarn that I purchased from a seller on Etsy two weeks ago, so when he brought in a big evelope, I figured it was that, finally. Then, I saw that is wasn't from the area I know the seller is from, so I thought it must be some yarn I'm expecting from someone on Ravelry that I am test crocheting for; but nope!! I was so surprised to find it is a RAK from someone on Ravelry. She didn't give her Rav name, but her real name is Sue Forbes.

THANK YOU, SUE FORBES!!! You made my day! I've been stalking Cro-Tat tutorials recently and thinking of giving it a try, and in my mailbox arrives a beautiful pattern book just for Cro-Tat edgings! And, the yarn.... oh, the yarn! It's soft, it's cobwebby, it's light and delicate and just gorgeous. There are two kinds of purple, which is my Mom's favorite color, so I may have to scrap the original idea I had for her for the holidays and make something for her out of this. She would really love it, I think. :) Sue, you just made my whole week with your kindness. I'm always so pleasantly surprised when someone thinks of me. Here are a couple of pics to show you what Sue so generously sent to me:



Before we headed out for lunch with April today, I decided to dive into a little project I'd been contemplating: Kool-Aid dying. Brandi, a friend of mine who is also in my dance troupe, recently gifted me some yarn, and in that stash was an interesting skein of vintage yarn from Sears. Here is the original band:

It contained two ounces of 100% wool yarn in brown, according to the label. However, I found it to be more like light tan:

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it and the color was just so drab that I thought maybe I could dye it. I'd never dyed wool before, so I asked some folks over at CSRA Fiber Fanatics over on Ravelry for some advice. Donna, a friend I've made through Ravelry, advised I try Kool-Aid dying because it's fun and easy. I figured it couldn't hurt! So, I picked up some Kool-Aid last night (I hate drinking the stuff, so we don't keep it in the house even though we have a seven year old) and decided to go for it.

I looked up a tutorial and it seemed simple. I knew I wanted to do a varigated yarn, in green, purple, and orange, so I had to make little skeins which took a little time and patience and I knew later it would be hard to untangle, but I couldn't think of another way to do it. I'll have to get some advice for that when I do this again. Then, I added the Kool-Aid to separate bowls, added some tap-hot water and submerged the damp yarn so it was all covered. After a few go-rounds in the microwave, I had this:

Aren't those colors fantastic? They are so juicy, and the yarn retains the fruity smell for a little while, so it really is a treat. :) After the yarn cooled, I rinsed and lightly washed it, then it was into a towel to dry like any other wool:

There are some variations in the colors where light spots developed, but I really like how it came out. The colors look good together (in my opinion) and it was so fun and easy that I WILL be doing this again! I think next time I might try a gray yarn for a heathered effect. Here is the final product (the colors are a little more vibrant than this pic):The coolest part? You know the dye is done because the yarn literally pulls every bit of Kool-Aid out of the water. The water was as clear as crystal! It was so cool and the science geek in me was just fascinated with it. Kool-Aid dying wool may have to be a future science fair project for one of the boys! lol

Now, I just need to find some crochet thread I can do this with! :)

BB!

~Jeannie


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Crochet makes you smarter. Exponentially.

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Read this article and see why women are changing the world. :)

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Sometimes, it's the little things.

Good morning, everyone!

I've been catching up on email this morning (a many-times-a-day task as I have two online stores, belong to several online forums, and all of my friends and family are online) and of course that means catching up on Ravelry in between replies. I looked over some RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) lists on that board, and found a nice thank-you from someone I recently RAKed. Then, I marked the other folks I'm RAKing this month. While I was doing that, I found a post on the Peaches and Creme board about their upcoming workshops in August, some of which are being led by my on-line friend, Briley! I was excited! What's not to love? I'd get to meet Briley, go to and shop in a real yarn mill (Elmore-Pisgah, some of my favorite yarns), AND take my first real class... with Briley! I'm hoping to get some other local fiber artists together and carpool up. Check here for more details.

After that, I discovered the library function of Ravelry. Now, this may not seem like a smile-inducing event, but it really did make me happy to list my four little books up there. I simply adore reading patterns and I have alot printed out from online and some magazines I've been gifted, but I only have four books (actually, five, but one isn't listed on Rav yet). So, seeing them up there just made me happy and made me want to go and read through them.

So, those little, everyday events so far today have put me in a good mood, making me happy in their simplicity and joy. Sometimes, it really is the little things.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I've been busy lately!

Hey everyone!!

I just added a TON of my Hipsters to my Etsy store, The Cypher's Den. Please check it out! If you are local, decide to get something, and want to pick it up in class or meet me, let me know first so I can make another listing with free shipping. It's always nice to save a few bucks! :)

I was also fortunate enough to get a couple of custom orders through Etsy for my earrings, one of which from The PurpleFern who is opening an all-handmade shop in Virginia. I was so flattered when she asked me to provide her with several pairs, and once colors were chosen, I got down to work with a passion. It was fun to have a reason to make so many different colors and styles.

My Etsy Shop is bursting with new stock and I've gotten a few new Avon customers lately, so my plan to try to stay home with the kids instead of getting a job outside of the house is well underway. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that I get lots and lots of customers! :)

Well, I'm off to cut out some more Hipsters! I hope to sew them tomorrow and get started on some more earrings and some new bracelets I've desgined tonight. Yay!

BB!
~Jeannie

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yikes! I've been a bad blogger!

Good morning to everyone! I'm sorry I've been absent for a week and half! Life got busy and I was struggling to keep up. Since my last post, I've taught a bellydance class, made and lost the Virtue bookmark I promised to post pics of, made all the earrings that are now listed in my brand-new Etsy shop (see the link to the right, and let me know what you think!), found out my Dad was in a serious car accident (as a passenger, and thank the Gods, he's ok), taken my oldest son to Six Flags for the first time (again, thank the Gods, he's ok! LOL), gone to another bellydance class, gone on a field trip, met with promoters for a cultural festival my troupe is dancing in next month, and attempted to take care of my home and family! Wow, even I didn't realize how busy I've been until I started typing that out!


Anywho, a couple of announcements: Yep, I opened an Etsy shop to house some of my original creations in all the catergories of craft that I love. Please, if you get a chance and have the inclination, follow the link to the right and let me know what you think. Check back often as you never know what I'm going to put in there! Frankly, I don't know, either, so let's enjoy this adventure together! :) I am very excited, though, that I got my first custom order already! Yay!!


Second, I've been participating in the RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) group on Ravelry and I'm really enjoying it! People post wish lists and if someone has what they are looking for and feels moved, they can send the gifts along. I've sent out three so far, I'm sending out another today or tomorrow, and I'm hoping to send another soon. I love giving gifts, especially ones that I know will be appreciated or make someone smile, so this group is perfect for me. Plus, I get to be friendly with folks from around the world! I'm sending out something to Belgium! How cool is that? To think that I get to make someone smile and maybe feel good even for a moment just fills me up. :)


On that note, I've decided to participate in the Pay it Forward movement. To that end, I will send a handmade gift to the first three people who comment on this blog. Nothing is required of you but to leave your name, email address, color preferences and a little info about you (include allergies and your gender, please! I'd hate to send someone frilly, girly earrings only to find they are a big strapping man :)), and the agreement to post on your blog or online forums making this offer to others. This is all about just being nice to someone else, knowing there is nothing in return but that great feeling you get sending something to someone just because you want to be kind. If we could get every blogger to do this just once, what a lovely world it would be!


Ok, that's all for now. I know there are a million more things I wanted to write about, but I just can't think of anything else at the moment. I'm sure it'll come to me soon, though, and I'll have another post for you.


Hope you are doing well and are ready for the holiday weekend!


BB!

~Jeannie


Monday, May 12, 2008

Virtue: A Cabled Bookmark

Hey there! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I had a wonderful Mother's Day and I got some knitting/crocheting done, too! Rock! More on that tomorrow...

I want to share the bookmark design (my first design ever) that I mentioned in a previous post. It was being featured in the Monthly Bookmark Knit-Along Yahoo! group, and I didn't want to give it away before everyone there got first dibs t it. :) A million thanks to Briley for allowing such a new designer to offer her design, then testing it and actually using it for the group. That boosted my confidence more than you know!

I called this bookmark Virtue because I made about three of them as gifts before I ever wrote it down, just keeping the pattern in my head. So, I had to be very disciplined with counting stitches and rows. You can also make it's cousin, Vice, by merely removing the cables. So much easier!

Here is the pattern!


Virtue Bookmark

(I'll get a picture of Vice up soon, too.)

This pattern is a great introduction to cabling. While it looks pretty impressive, and the cables are big and obvious, there are only six cabling rows in the entire piece. Such is the power of cabling! It just goes to show that one simple technique can really revolutionize a piece.

Materials:

Crochet thread, size 3 (or something similar)

Size 3 needles

Cable needle

Scissors

Special stitch:
Cable 6 in front: slip three onto the cable needle, hold in front, purl 3, and purl 3 from cable needle.

Abbreviations:
k-knit
p-purl

Cast on 18

Rows 1-3 (and every even row throughout) knit across.

Row 5 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 7 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 9 k3, p2, k1, cable 6 in front, k1, p2, k3

Row 11 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 13 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 15 k3, p2, k1, cable 6 in front, k1, p2, k3

Row 17 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 19 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 21 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 23 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 25 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 27 k3, p2, k1, cable 6 in front, k1, p2, k3

Row 29 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 31 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 33 k3, p2, k1, cable 6 in front, k1, p2, k3

Row 35 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 37 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 39 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 41 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 43 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 45 k3, p2, k1, cable 6 in front, k1, p2, k3

Row 47 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 49 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 51 k3, p2, k1, cable 6 in front, k1, p2, k3

Row 53 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 55 k3, p2, k1, p6, k1, p2, k3

Row 57-59 knit across

Block.

Please feel free to use this pattern for your own personal use and link others to this pattern. I also give permission to use this pattern to make items to sell at school craft fairs, church bizarres, or other non-profit charitable fundraisers. Please do not sell this pattern or reproduce it for distribution without my express permission.



Because she did such a great job, I asked Jody, a member of the KAL, if I could use a picture of her bookmark in my blog to show how she worked it up. Please note, she cabled to the back and she used sport weight yarn. I just wanted to show you that you don't have to follow my, or anyone else's, directions exactly. You can make something beautiful when you break the "rules!" I want to thank all the members of the KAL for trying my little pattern. Thanks!!




My very creative Mom suggested after receiving the first Virtue I ever made, that it would make a great headband if it were longer and attached to some wide elastic. Great idea, Mom!! To do that, repeat rows 15 through 26 one more time before moving on to rows 27 to the end. Block it, back it if you need to with fabric, sew some elastic on, and you have a cute headband.

I hope you enjoy it!

BB!

~Jeannie

Saturday, May 10, 2008

World Bellydance Day and new fiber books!

First of all, Happy World Bellydance Day, everyone! If you are a dancer, get out there and dance a little today in celebration. Or watch a new video, read a new book, try a new prop or move, sew a little on your next costume, tell someone why you love bellydance or educate someone as to what bellydance REALLY is. Find a way to celebrate your life as a dancer!

If you're not a dancer, please take a moment to learn more about this beautiful artform that is as dynamic and revolutionary as it has ever been. (http://www.alchemydance.com/ http://www.shira.net/ or http://www.fcbd.com/ are all good places to start) I'll bet you will be surprised at how popular, enriching, and empowering this dance form is for so many people (men and women) around the world. And, more importantly, it is more family-friendly than many people expect. Give it a chance! C'mon, do it for me. :)

Second, I went to Borders yesterday to just look at a book: Creepy Cute Crochet. Now, mind you, I just wanted to LOOK! I've become fascinated with Amigurumi, and this book is right up my alley with it's really cute designs featuring Cthulhu, a Day of the Dead couple, zombies, ninjas, even a monkey and an Amazon! There are lots of designs in here, all in the Amigurmi style, with instructions on how to accessorize them as well as construct them. Well, I ended up buying it and saving my husband and sons the trouble of finding me a Mother's Day gift. :) I haven't attempted a project yet as I'm working on gifts for others, but I will soon and I will post a review once I have. I can't wait to give it a shot! I've even got a few ideas of my own for little characters and I can't wait to get a basic template under my belt for embellishment.

My friend Mari was with me while I was perusing the fiber arts section. She is graduating with her Master's degree today (congrats, girl!!) so she hasn't had a huge amount of time to dedicate to anything outside of school, work, and family except the troupe we direct together, Alchemy. However, she's been following my adventures in yarn and wants to learn for herself once everything settles down. Honestly, at first, I thought she was just being polite to me! lol Yesterday, though, I found out she is serious as she bought two books while we were at Borders: Get Your Crochet On! Fly Tops and Funky Flavas and Folk Style: Innovative Designs to Knit, Including Sweaters, Hats, Scarves, Gloves and More. She sent them home with me to look over and try out while she finishes up her grad school stuff and get settled back into the normal routine. Now, she may have just been cleverly trying to give me a gift (she did give me my first knitting book ever: Domiknitrix: Whip Your Knitting into Shape, which I LOVE!), but I'm inclined to believe, as she fawned over the designs and thought of ways to use them in her life, that she really does want to learn and is excited to start. I'm thrilled! I don't really have anyone to knit or crochet with and I haven't been motivated to go to any of the local fiber circles yet even though I desperately need someone with more experience to show me some basic techniques. With Mari at my side, though, I'll be more inclined to go. Maybe I'll go get her a set of needles and a hook later today. In the meantime, I made her a little gift for graduation that should whet her appetite for more fibery goodness: Mari's Earrings.


I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend already, and that it just gets better from here.

BB!
~Jeannie