An Old Year, A New Year

Inspired by the Top Nine lists everyone’s been posting on Instagram this week, I decided to take a look back at some of my favorite moments from 2015. Instead of going on just people’s likes on the photos I posted (which, let’s be honest, tended to be an indicator of how well I hashtagged), I created a collage of the personal and professional moments that’ll stick with me most over the past twelve months.
Top Nine of 2015

  1. RBG: My new Ruth Bader Ginsburg puppet was by far my favorite design in years. I’ve already explored some of the many reasons why I love RGB, and it was lovely to know that she’s got plenty of other puppet-loving fans out there besides myself.
  2. Good/Bad: A twofer of possibly my best and worst parent moments of the year– The bad news: My kid got his front tooth knocked out at school. Dang. The good news: An epic Pee Wee Herman Halloween costume.
  3. The King: I love this custom Elvis puppet. It was about time I got to render that famous white suit in felt.
  4. Pride + Victory: This year, the Chicago Pride Parade fortuitiously fell the day after the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage. To say that the event felt electric would be a bit of an understatement, and I’m so proud we could be there to witness that moment.
  5. Furiosa: My favorite custom puppet of the year– I got to create this Imperator Furiosa based on the badass character from the surprisingly good film, Mad Max: Fury Road. I shared a few months back about my process in getting her signature black make-up just right.
  6. New Views: Probably my biggest personal moment of the year, after a very long search and a lot of false starts and dead ends, this August I got a new job doing pretty much exactly what I dreamed of doing at pretty much exactly the kind of organization I wanted to work for. Oh, and this is the view from the building on Michigan Avenue. Not too shabby.
  7. Jean-Michel: Another fun custom order I completed this year was this Jean-Michel Basquiat. One of my favorite all-time artists, it was great to get the push to finally try out making him 4″ tall.
  8. Roadtrip: Our family vacation to Cape Cod this fall was an epic week of r + r, but the highlight of the trip (and one of my very highest highlights of the year) was the 30+ humpback whales we saw on our whale-watching excursion. It was pure magic to be in the presence of these incredible creatures, literally close enough to be eye to eye and get wet from their spray, and is an experience I’ll never forget.
  9. Furry Friends: This year we decided to volunteer as a foster home for the wonderful dog rescue One Tail at a Time. We hosted four lovely pups over the course of the year, the final one– Sprinks/now Murf– became a “foster fail” when we decided to make him a permanent addition to the family. How could we say no to that face!

There you have it–my 2015 in a nine-part nutshell! I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: thank you to you–my readers, customers, and friends–for coming along on this journey, reading what I have to say, and being interested in my finds. I hope 2015 was good to you, and wish for a brighter and kinder 2016 for us all.

DIY Holiday Garlands

Life is crazy at the moment, but I’m counting the days until holiday orders are out and presents are all purchased. If that ever happens, I’ve got big plans to actually decorate for Christmas, and make and cover the house with festive garlands. Till then (or just in case it never happens), I’m coveting these.

gold-fringe-garland-DIY-New-Years-Eve-Party-Ideasdiy-triangle-garland-

Stuff I Love Right Now

Time for another edition of “Thing I Love Right Now,” a.k.a. “I’m out of other blog ideas/would rather talk about stuff I’m obsessed with instead.” Enjoy!

1. Taylor Swift, 1989
I tend to be late to the mainstream pop culture party. I’m always a little snobby about the thing that everybody else likes, so I hang back and tend to discover about a year late that the rest of the world–gasp!–was totally right. Case in point: I cannot stop listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. It started with the Ryan Adams version, which I could stream on Spotify and loooved. I knew I liked the singles from her album that had been released to the radio, and judging by how obsessed I was becoming with Ryan Adam’s sad-guy versions, I decided to take the iTunes plunge and by the original. Best decision I’ve made all year.

2. Moccasins
Every fall I renew my devotion to moccasins (Minnetonka, usually, but I’m not that picky) and every winter I get a little sad when it gets too wet and I have to put them away. This fall is no different. I even bought a new pair to keep at work (nobody has to know that they’re actually the soft-inside slipper versions– sooo cozy) in the hopes that they’ll stay more presentable and pass as semi-professional for a bit longer.

3. Little Women
The embarrassing truth is that I’ve never actually read Little Women (I know, total girlhood fail), but I could quote just about every line from the 1994 movie version. From Claire Danes always-crying Beth, to Christian Bale’s amazingly luxurious Laurie hair, Marmie’s constant stream of truisms and Kirsten Dunst’s totally bratty Amy, it is a tour de force of warm hearts and Bechdel-tested goodness.

3. My polka dot jacket
jacketI bought this jacket from ModCloth (my other current obsession) a few months back, and in all my years of wearing clothes, I have never gotten as many compliments on an item of clothing as I have about this coat. It’s gotta be one of my wisest purchases to date, and I plan to wear it as far into winter as I possibly can (which is probably like one more week).

4. Matt McGorry’s Twitter
359641-matt-mcgorryMatt McGorry is totally likable as CO Bennett on Orange is the New Black, but it wasn’t until a few month ago that I discovered his really progressive online presence. Whether shamelessly promoting vital discussions about race, or proclaiming the importance of feminism, he’s doing exactly what white dudes should be doing with their privilege– using it for good. It’s really refreshing to see someone embrace their platform to encourage these kind of discussions. He’s definitely worth a follow.Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.22.36 PM

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New Swallow Christmas Ornaments

There are times when I feel myself becoming something of a living Portlandia skit, and never more so than when I decided to whip up a batch of swallow ornaments the other day. When in doubt, put a bird on it!These candy-colored avians are inspired by classic tattoo illustrations, and a variation on a brooch design you may remember from years back. Bright and cheery colors like this are sort of my thing, and these birds do their job looking pretty darn cheerful on the tree. Tis the season to deck the halls!

Swallow ornaments are now!

 

Current Obsession: Andean Neon Hats

Chicago is forecasted to get 3-6″ of snow this weekend and basically this means that I’m going to be super grumpy. It’s not like I grew up in the South and don’t understand about Midwestern winters. I get them– I just hate them.

The only good thing about the 6 months of winter that are coming is that I do love getting cozy. Blankets, oversized sweaters, scarves: the cozier the better is my mantra. A cute hat is a must to get through the winter unscathed, and these new Andean-inspired knit hats from Purl Soho have totally stolen my heart.knit hatCreated through a partnership with a group of artisans in Peru and blending traditional shapes and designs with a modern twist, these hats are, first, adorable, and look hella warm. Perfect for my Christmas list. Are you listening, Santa?

These beauties are available here.

Blast Off

The early 70s are a fascinating moment. After the upheaval of the 60s and the backsliding of the 80s, there was a moment when things actually seemed to be getting better. The Vietnam War had come to an end, and the women’s movement was gaining ground with Roe vs. Wade and the passing of the ERA. Progress had been made in Civil Rights, and identity movements like Black Power were raising people’s consciousness. Environmentalism and nuclear proliferation were being talked about.

All these new thoughts were making it into the mainstream finally, too. You look back at early episodes of Sesame Street, for instance, and the cast is a rainbow of colors and abilities, everyone singing together, looking vaguely hippied-out and unpolished. Of course there were still problems, but for once there were glimmers of hope to be seen in pop culture– moments of progress that seem progressive, even by our standards today.

Case in point: the wonderful children’s book Blast Off from 1973. Blast Off is the story of Regina, a young black girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut. Her friends laugh at her crazy ideas, but she eventually makes it to the stars, floating among them in her white spacesuit, riding a rocket shooting long, psychedelic trails of fire.

This is only a few years after the moon landing, and space travel was still pretty novel, as was a woman of color in space. Sally Ride wouldn’t go up in the shuttle for another decade, and Mae Jemison nearly ten years later in 1992.

In addition to being way ahead of its time, the illustrations are absolutely charming, featuring bold, graphic shapes and groovy colors. Definitely the kind of space travel I can get behind. You gotta give it to 1973– they had some good ideas.

Via Brain Pickings.

Holiday Products Are a Go!

It’s that time of year again! The holidays are upon us– or getting there, at least– and seasonal products are available now in my shop!Louis CK ornament, Ira Glass ornament, Frida Kahlo ornament, Steve Martin ornamentAny finger puppet you’ve had your eye on is available as an ornament, for the perfect bit of fandom for any tree. How about a Ruth Bader Ginsburg ornament for the law student in your life, Frida Kahlo for your favorite budding surrealist, or Steve Martin going wild and crazy on the tree for years to come.
Pop culture ornamentsBack in the shop is also old favorites– felt state ornaments and Ralphie from A Christmas Story (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”).

Unless you happen to be one of those weirdos who has all their shopping done by November, there’s an excellent chance you’ve got somebody on your list who could use a finger puppet or ornament to make their life complete. So get on it! ; )