Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Closely associated with the indie crafting community is the idea of Do It Yourself.

Make your own coasters? Great! How about the coffee table to go with it? Oh, yeah. An entire home to surround the coffee table? Got it covered ... and it's solar-powered, to boot.

Now, I don't know that I'm handy enough to go that far, but I just found a new site that is fun to browse and quite an inspiration for D.I.Y. Designers. It has handy diagrams, nifty links, and, if you like it enough, you can buy the book.

Monday, January 30, 2006

recent research has proven

that 10 out of 9 women love chocolate.

(And I am no exception!)

Friday, January 27, 2006

true beauty

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."

--Elizabeth Barret Browning

happy birthday, mozart

Celebrating 250 years (more or less) of Eine Kleine Nacht Musick.

Take a minute out of your busy schedule to sit back and enjoy the genius of this man of music.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

i love your toboggan!

It's sleek, it's cool, it's stylin' ...

It's on your head.

Is this only a Southern thing? I have to stop myself from picturing a long wooden sled when customers at the Big Retail Store ask if we carry any toboggans. I don't know, maybe I've just been using the wrong name for those things my whole life, but I just call them hats.

today's word is


Find one today!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

odd jobs

BellSouth is featuring unique or off-the-beaten-path careers this week.

I think I'll choose Cake Decorator or Sleep Lab Technician (although I don't qualify for the latter).

Any Horse Wranglers or Aircraft Painters out there?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

if i could live anywhere ...

... I'd live here.

I love this little Cape Cod cottage in the 'Boro. It's my dream home. I've passed it many times when I was in college and would admire it each and every time I drove by on the way to church (it's close enough to walk from there to services!). When it went up for sale a couple of years ago, I even called the realtor and asked about it, but they wanted more than I could even consider paying, since it has a full basement, a rarity for its location, four bedrooms, and a fenced-in yard.

Although the pink siding is charming, I would probably paint it a warm gray, keep the white shutters, columns, and trim, then paint the door a bright, shiny red and add a brass kick-plate. In the foyer (if there is one) I'd hang a gorgeous, but small, chandelier.

Then I'd let Zoe run around in the back yard, and everything would be just perfect.

Monday, January 23, 2006

i love antiquing!

Oh, the weekend was so much fun. Not only did I have the chance to visit the wonderful shops at The Factory at Franklin and downtown Franklin, but my brother's girlfriend and I ganged up against him and dragged him with us to go antiquing--an activity we both happen to love. We oohed and ahhed over everything from $2 postcards to a $21k Italian bedroom suite from the early 1900s. I searched in vain for a 1st edition copy of one of my favorite childhood books: The Lost Prince, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Over the course of the weekend, I got two shots of chandeliers to add to my collection of favorites (it's a new hobby of mine--chandelier spotting!); one is from a bridal boutique in the Factory at Franklin, and the other is in an antique store in Middle Tennessee. I also found this wonderful "snowman" coated in white chocolate at a chocolatier shop's window display, and my good-natured brother found a goat head (his one "find" at the antique store).

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with and spend inordinate amounts of time in the midst of "girl talk" with old and new friends (you know who you are!) over the weekend--an unexpected and delightful pleasure.

All in all ... it was a thoroughly enjoyable sabbatical from my frenzied existence. In fact, my whole weekend, even the driving parts, can be summed up in a single, drawn-out word.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

road trip! (sort of)

*singing* "I'm... off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!"

Just kidding.

I'm heading out to the Nashville area for the weekend, to visit my brother and some friends. I'm so excited, because I haven't been out that way since September and I'm going to have the opportunity to drive around some old haunts.

I'm bringing my camera, of course, so I'll have pictures when I get back. And maybe some new stationery/design inspirations to share.

But, come Monday, I'll tap my ruby slippers and come back home to "Kansas." I'll probably be exhausted when I arrive at work that evening, but it will be well worth the trip.

Monday, January 16, 2006

present perfect

What do modern English grammar, the King James Bible, and the key to success in entrepreneurship (and maybe even life!) have in common?


I'm smiling as I type this, because, really, you never know what you're going to read about when you visit here, do you? I'm sure you didn't expect this! But it actually is quite relevant to both my life, and perhaps yours, as well. So, maybe I'm a crazy, confused gal, but I like to dispense little educational tidbits now and then.

First, a grammar lesson.

Remember in school when you had to identify the different parts of speech or pick out the dependent clause in a sentence? And then you had to figure out whether a sentence was past tense, or present tense ... and later on you discovered that there isn't just past, present, or future tense--there are also different types of past, present, and future tense! And one of those types, it just so happens, is called "perfect."

Growing up, I didn't understand that one. In fact, it really bothered me. How on earth could somebody determine if a past tense verb was perfect or not! Really. What made it any better than a past progressive or a simple past?

The word perfect puzzled me in a different context, as well. In church, my pastor always read from a King James Bible. The word perfect seemed to come up quite a bit, like in reference to King Solomon's building the Temple, it says in 2 Chronicles 8:16 "... So the house of the LORD was perfected." A New Testament example is found in Romans 12:2 "... that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (emphasis in both passage is mine). I understood the common meaning of the word "perfect"--flawless--but the full meaning escaped me for many years.

And then, in college I took Modern English Grammar & Usage, a joint senior/master's level class for my writing minor. Inevitably, the topic of verb tenses was covered in detail. Our professor, bless her, went over and over and over the grammatical rules, trying to (nicely) get it through our mental blocks how to tell the difference between one and the other in order to pass our upcoming exam.

We didn't get it. Past, present, and future perfects just didn't make any sense.

Until I got up the nerve to ask for a better definition.

As it turns out, perfect, in the english grammatical sense, means complete. Any verb in its perfect form signifies an action that has been completed (past), is complete (present), or will be complete (future).

Ohhhh. It was like in one of those cartoons where a lightbulb flashes above a character's head. We finally got it! So, on the test, any time we found a completed verb, it was perfect. And from that day forward, whenever I come across that context in the Bible, I know that it means that Solomon's Temple was complete, or that the will of God is complete.

And now, in my research of entrepreneurship, I'm reading Why Aren't You Your Own Boss? by Paul and Sarah Edwards, two entrepreneurial heros of mine, and it turns out that the key to success in any venture, whether one as simple as cleaning a bathroom or as complex as creating a master business plan, is completion.

It doesn't matter how many ideas we have, or how many creative impulses; if we do not follow them through to completion, then we will never succeed. Pretty simple, huh? Yet pretty profound, considering that one of my own chief weaknesses is the tendency to have a million ideas, or a hundred ways to do things, or even just a dozen or so manuscripts in the works.

I have to complete. It's that simple!

It's that perfect.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


So, if I went back to college and got my B.F.A. to add to my B.S., is that digressing, even though I would be getting the B.F.A. so that I could one day get my M.F.A. and be eligible to teach college classes, like I've always planned on doing?

And would I be wimping out of the so-called "real world" if I did?

And what if I decided to go back to my alma mater, is that a stupid career move, since it isn't a fancy-pants art school, and why on earth would I want to spend more $$$ on a degree that didn't come with a prestigous diploma?

Why do I want an M.F.A.? Do I really want to teach one day? Is it worth it?

I know. I know. I know. You don't need a degree to suceed. I'm living proof, in a round-about way, of that. After all, my degree, as it was, did not help me very far along in my own "dream job." And it certainly hasn't gotten me much prestige since then. I don't need a degree to start my business. I don't need a college to help me learn anything. And I certainly don't need more student loans to be paid back over ten years.

But yet ... I just found out today that I could take two letterpress classes, in addition to book arts classes, illustration classes, and extra graphic design classes. I could even intern at a real letterpress business for an entire semester of setting type and making limited edition books. I had NO IDEA that my college had that as part of the art program! I don't think it was there before I graduated about two years ago.

If I went for it, this could be the very thing that will jump-start Ruby Red into existence. I'd once again be near several excellent independant stationery stores, and networking with people who could become customers or investors, not to mention being near my brother, good friends I left behind when I moved home, and the church family that I have been aching to be part of again.

The funny thing is, I've now achieved that elusive "independant" status that students over 23 achieve. My eligibility for scholarships, grants, and loans is now determined by my income alone--which, I assure you, is small indeed. So, even though I don't get the wonderful 50% tuition reduction as a dependent of a state employee (my dad works for a Tennessee college), I do get the benefit of not being considered middle class--at least financially. Nope. I'm pretty much impoverished right now!

I don't know. It's all pretty nebulous at the moment. I might even post this to Blogger in the next minute or two and immediately change my mind.

But I'm still curious as to the answers of the above questions, and the one following this paragraph, as well.

What if?

to do

  1. Laundry. It has piled up on me for way too long now. I need clean socks!
  2. Try to whip my home office (a.k.a "bedroom") into a semblence of order.
  3. Feed Zoe, who is now outside not frolicking in the snow. (Yes! We have snow!)
  4. Listen to some great classical or instrumental jazz while starting to read Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, by Julie Powell. It's a memoir about one woman's challenge to herself to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's cookbook within one year. I love to read memoirs, and I love good food, so this book should be right up my alley. I can't wait!

Text in gray was done. #2 was attempted. #4 is good so far, but I'm dissapointed by some of the content.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Family Up For Auction

I'm not kidding!

These people are actually, factually, putting themselves up for auction on eBay. Think an old-fashioned-style family of "staff" to take care of somebody's house, cars, yard, whatever for five years ... anywhere in the world. According to the AP interview video, they'd love to go to Hawaii.

Their price? $1.5 million, and the auction ends Sunday. No takers yet.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

emily & me

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you
nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

-Emily Dickinson

(many thanks to criswatk @ stock.xchng for the beautiful photo!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


This is the word of the day, according to my calendar.

I am not making this stuff up!
(image from The True Dork Times)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Oh, and if I had the $$$ ...

I'd enroll in every single one of the classes at BookWorks in Asheville, NC.

Watch This

Oh, this is too cool ... a video clip about letterpress!

It might take a little while to load, but it is well worth the wait.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Indie Crafters, Unite!

I had no idea I was part of an underground movement, but as it turns out, I am.

I am an Indie Crafter. Hear me roar.

For more indie crafting goodness, check out these sites, some more loosely connected to the movement than others:

ReadyMade Magazine
Craft Revolution
Renegade Craft
Budget Living Magazine
Make Workshop

(Just so you know, this is the fine print in which I say that all opinions contained in the aforementioned websites are, in fact, theirs alone, and that I don't necessarily endorse them, blah-blah-blah. You get the point. Seems like some of the indies are a bit --shall we say--freerer than I am.)


The 24 (or 36) hour bug has run its course, leaving me weary and a bit weak, but okay.

An unfortunate side effect, however, is that because of all the time I've spent in bed for the past two days, I'm now experiencing sleeplessness, hence the 1 a.m. blogging session.

A million and one things are buzzing around in my brain--which really doesn't help the whole sleeplessness thing that much--and I am sketching thumbnails (as in ideas ... not those things on your fingertips) once again.

I can't wait to try them out for real.

Which, incidentally, brings me back to letterpress. Doesn't everything?! Anyway, I've been web-surfing this morning, and I found this wonderful bit of photography illustrating how the process works. Good stuff!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

yucky-yucky, sick-sick

I haven't been truly sick in so long (1.5 years +) that I had forgotten what it felt like.

No worries, today has been an excellent reminder; it goes like this:

nervous stomach --> headache --> ache all over --> chills --> lots and lots of sleep --> too exhausted to think

Thank goodness for soft fleece blankets and DayQuil.

Friday, January 06, 2006

things that make me happy on a gray day

  • letters/emails from friends
  • blue M & M's
  • suspense novels
  • sunbeams streaming through the clouds
  • freshly sharpened pencils
  • singing hymns at the top of my lungs
  • the crunch! sound the first bite into an apple makes
  • a great pair of shoes ... on sale
  • any verse from the book of Isaiah
  • upbeat acoustic singer-songwriters
  • red front doors
  • my dog, Zoe, when she greets me at the backyard gate
  • silly movie quotes (who can finish this one: "no more rhymes ... and I mean it!")
  • belly laughs
  • the smell of a good cup of coffee
  • ironic signs along a road
  • pajamas, a fleece blanket, a pillow to hug, and a comfy couch
  • shiny black Yamaha baby grands (and even better, playing one!)
  • my church
  • baking coconut macaroons
  • looking through old photos
  • and, if it snows ... making snowmen and snow angels.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Knoxville, TN

Question: Who would even try to push or pull this big red guy?

"The Strip" on Cumberland, right next to the University of Tennessee.

Yes, I was driving when I took this. But I wasn't looking through the view finder, thank you very much! Note the orange and white checkerboard on the side of Rocky Top Books.

Self Explanatory, no? (Knoxville was the home of the 1982 World's Fair)

The Sunsphere, main structure of World's Fair Park.

I don't know anything about it, but it's pretty in the light of the setting sun, don't you think?

The sign for a store in a strip mall. Can you find the error?

I don't know which part of me is irritated by this more: the graphic designer or the journalist. Either way, it's wrong! Come on, people. We see ampersands every day! It should have been fairly obvious it was hung backwards. And why don't they fix it? Grrrr.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Oh, those starving journalists ...

I just found this blog post by chance. Truer words for us journalist/mass communications types have never been spoken (or at least not recently!).

Job Pundit: Journalist job market as a tournament game

Book Addict

Sign me up for a 12-step program, 'cause I'm hopeless.

The New Cooks' Catalogue is my newest addition to a growing collection. My newfound interest in the art of cooking is to blame for this bargain $7.99 purchase at Borders in Knoxville. It's kind of like an encyclopedia of kitchen tools.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Letterpress Tidbits

My interest in printing has been leaning increasingly back to the 1800s lately. Although you couldn't call me a purist (one who would never dream of using anything besides wooden or metal type), I am entranced by beautiful impressions on soft paper, something a laser printer or offset press can never duplicate outside of extra embossing.

I hope to soon be among the letterpressers of the world, and, by combining today's technology (photopolymer plates) with yesterday's methods and equipment, creating modern vintage pieces of stationery and even, maybe, booklets and books.

For more information on this gorgeous method of communication, check out these sites:

"Wood Type Rising: The ressurection of letterpress arts" This is an article from last year by Michael Neault for Rochester's alternative weekly, the City Paper.

Briar Press THE one-stop online resource for letterpress enthusiasts.

Bosshard's Printing Primer for beginners like me.

Yee-Haw Industries, East Tennessee's own world-famous letterpress shop in Downtown Knoxville. Very cool. I've been there several times! This link is to their description of the process of their craft.

Hatch Show Print, another world-famous Tennessee letterpress print shop, still operational since its beginnings in 1879, although now under the wing of Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame. Though I used to live in Nashville, I have not yet had the privilege of visiting this venerated print shop.

I love this art form--for it is art--so much that I am determined to learn it soon. Very soon. In fact, soon enough for me to start a product line that I have been developing of late ... a product line that I've named and gotten one of my websites for. But if I can not print them myself this year, I will hire it out to an already operational print shop who can, because the idea is HOT! (And cold ... and starched. But more on that later!)

Meanwhile, I need to register the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

And you'd better keep tuned. Because Ruby Red is gearing up this year to take off.

Start the Presses!

Baby Steps

I took my first step today. At 2:10 a.m. EST I bought three domain names. One for Ruby Red, one for me, and one for a soon-to-be-announced new business name.

This is huge.

Coming soon to a web browser near you ... rubyreddesign.com! (And two others. Wait and see).

Monday, January 02, 2006

All Around My Town

a) "The Hood is Back" -- spray painted downtown
b) Mullet Man (in an Antique Store!)
c) Pals, an East Tennessee fast food icon. I've never eaten there.
d) Found: one prince-in-waiting. Last seen sitting in T.J.Maxx.
e) Mall Advice
f) Blurry and Beautiful
g) Sleeping Beauty

These pictures are from my wanderings around town today. I love to go antique shopping ... you find the strangest things, and you don't have to spend money to have fun. I found an entire gathering of ceramic owls in the attic room of one store. They stared at me, wide-eyed, as I inspected them. In another room, I found a bust of Beethoven wearing a 50s-style lady's hat. He didn't look so happy.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

I celebrated my New Year's Eve in style by trying my hand at "gourmet" cooking. I downloaded a few chicken cordon bleu recipes, chose the elements I liked best, subtracted and added at will, and ended up with some very delicious food.

On the menu:
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Twice-baked Potato
Tossed Salad
Water with a Lemon Twist
Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Apple Cider
Chocolate Cake
Columbian Supremo Espresso

My dinner companions (on random mix):
Kendall Payne
Michael Buble
Nickel Creek

My evening entertainment:
Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World