random word-like sounds and a poorly rendered owl

Guys, I bought a sweater in my regular size online last week and when I put it on this morning it was ENORMOUS, and it’s certainly not like I’ve shrunk any so I’m kind of thinking either someone was asleep at the wheel when they cut the pieces out for this sweater, or the person writing up the descriptions on the website forgot a crucial part about how “this sweater is cut extremely generous, to the point where the sleeves will completely cover your hands and you’ll kind of wonder if your arms shrunk a couple inches in the night, and also the bottom of it will hit halfway down your thigh even if you’re five foot ten. If you’re a shorty, you can wear this sweater as a full-on dress”.

I’m not complaining. It’s super soft and comfy and I actually really like the longer sleeves because I prefer to be able to hide my hands and the shanks that I may or may not be holding at any time. That’s not true, I don’t even have a shank, but still. I prefer my hands to remain as enigmatic as possible. If you don’t KNOW I don’t have a shank, you might be slightly less inclined to mess with me. In theory.

Anyway, what’s new? I know I was quiet for most of November. Originally it was because I was raring to go on my very first NaNoWriMo project. Then we took a road trip to Philly (which was mostly super fun), and I came back with the plague just as the election was happening. Then I spent a couple weeks basically wanting to just run away to Tazmania and pretend I’ve never even heard of the United States (that’s still a lingering thing, to be fair). Then it was Thanksgiving and I was like “OMG PIE FOREVER”, except the pie never lasts for more than a couple days because I will eat it for every meal until it’s gone (notice I do NOT say “until I make myself ill”, because even that doesn’t usually stop me. There are no stomach aches in Pie Club). And basically that whooole time from right after we got back from Philly until now, I haven’t managed to even LOOK at my NaNoWriMo project. In the past I’d have beaten myself up for that, called myself a failure, thrown my hands up and wailed about how this is why I can’t have nice things and be a writer because JFC I can’t even write every day for a whole week straight let alone a whole month….but I’m not letting myself do that this time. I’m attempting to actually be kind to myself instead, to look back and say “Hey self, you were REALLY sick and then you were REALLY down in the dumps and then you went through your first official big holiday without your Nana around. That was all kind of rough and no one else is going to hold not sticking to NaNoWriMo against you, so you shouldn’t either.” And it’s…kind of working? I can’t say that I feel super OK with the whole thing, but I’m not actively beating myself up and that’s several steps in the right direction and I’ll take it.

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I also bought myself a set of watercolor pencils off Amazon because they were like 65% off for Black Friday. This weird derpy owl was the first thing I attempted to draw with them. I think his name might be Phil.

drum roll, please

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We’re officially in business!

And when I say “we”, I mean…me. Which includes the voices in my head, so I can get away with “we”. Are you really going to argue the point with someone who just admitted to hearing voices? I DIDN’T THINK SO.

Anyway. Back on track, Shelby.

I finally got around to making a real cross stitch pattern and opening an Etsy shop yesterday: How Bad Can It Go Designs !

If you’ve been following along on Instagram (@ealachan), Twitter (Alpacalypse5, or check out #howbadcanitgoblog) and admiring the recent pictures of the “Piss Off” piece I was working on, you can now buy the pattern and make one yourself for the low, low price of just $5. Sweet, right?

Here’s the finished piece in all the glory that my crappy fluorescent kitchen light can muster:

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Don’t let the border scare you off. It looks way more complicated than it really is. Says she who stitched most of it in varying states of inebriation. Ahem.

I’ll be putting more patterns up soon – I have one for a cheeky bookmark all ready to go, and I’ve got an ever-growing list of snarky sayings, suggestive song lyrics and nerdy movie quotes that I’m plotting designs for. If you have any specific requests let me know and I’ll see what I can come up with! I’ll eventually start selling finished pieces as well, for those who admire irreverent cross stitch but don’t want to / can’t be arsed to stitch it themselves. I may at some point start offering kits as well, but that’s still kind of a nebulous needs-more-thinking-on-and-probably-requires-more-planning-than-I’m-capable-of-and-how-long-can-I-make-this-sentence-now-that-I’m-on-a-roll type thing.

Wheeeee, commerce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sugar therapy

This week has been kind of shit-tastic. Mass shootings, Republicans trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood for like the 85th time, bad weather, fuckery at work, on and on.

Normally my strategy for dealing with stress like this is to drink, in case you hadn’t noticed. I’m not saying it’s a GOOD strategy…but, you know, it’s better than some.

Anyway.

I had already decided this afternoon that an adult beverage or two was in order this evening. Then, on the way home, a brilliant plan struck me: why not drink…AND build a gingerbread house! My husband was going to be out playing cards with his buddies so it was a perfect opportunity to have a dinner that he’d totally hate, then crack a bottle of wine that he’d also hate, and make a huge sugary mess on the kitchen table.

SOLD!

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Sugar and wine! How bad can it go?

It should be noted that this kit came with directions. I didn’t READ the directions until much later in the process…but it DID come with directions. Good for Hasbro, trying to make things easier for people. The kind of people that read directions before getting halfway through something and realizing they might have fucked up, anyway.

It turns out that what you’re SUPPOSED to do is apply the icing and construct the house first, THEN use the rest of the icing to apply candy decorations.

My problem with this plan is as follows: who the FUCK other than professional bakers who work with piping bags on a regular basis can pipe icing decorations onto a surface at a frigging 90 degree angle?

Not THIS bitch, that’s fo’ sho’.

So, rather than follow the prescribed order of operations, I applied Shelby Logic and did what I fucking wanted. Incidentally, this may be a large part of why I failed Algebra three times in high school as well.

Shelby Logic says that decorating the walls of the house while they’re still flat on the table makes WAY more sense, so that’s what I did. I decorated THE SHIT out of all four walls, then I went to stick them together in the little tray that comes with the kit…and started to realize the possible error of my ways.

It turns out that the reason they have you stick the walls together in the tray first is because you can’t lay an already-decorated piece of gingerbread decorated-side down in order to apply the frosting for the joins, and it’s actually surprisingly hard to apply the frosting evenly with one hand while holding said piece of gingerbread up with the other. Especially when one has been drinking. Also, there’s the fact that if you do it the “right way”, the joints have time to harden up before you put the roof on, which saves a lot of panicking about the whole structure caving in when you insist on trying to spread icing flat across the roof parts later on.

Ahem.

Anyway, I channeled my inner Tim Gunn and made it work:

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As Tim would say, “that’s a LOT of look”.

It’s a little rickety in places, but it’s not like I’m gonna be playing Gingerbread Barbie with it or anything so I think it’ll be ok.

And you know what? People are going to be dicks, stuff is going to go wrong, bad things are going to happen…but it’s ok. Life goes on.

And gods willing, I won’t have a hangover tomorrow.

on heredity, crafting and keeping (relatively) sane

I forgot to post yesterday.  I meant to do it when I got home last night but then I got waylaid cooking dinner and doing work baking.  Then, I sat down to watch TV with my husband and, as usual, picked up the nearest craft project to start working on.

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Tiny baked goods and kitchen implements, hooray!

 

At that point, any chance of getting some writing done went straight down the drain.

Crafting, or as I like to call it, “making shit“, is something that I’m genetically predisposed to.  My dad’s always been a builder, making everything from birdhouses to, well…people houses!  My paternal grandmother was a talented knitter, quilter and seamstress, and even designed and sold dress patterns as a young woman in the early 1950’s.  Her mother before her also made braided rugs as well as knit, crocheted, sewed, and embroidered.  My great-grandmother’s specialty as a young woman was crocheted lace.  I have many examples of her very fine handiwork on the edging of finished embroidery projects like table runners and antimacassars, as well as some doilies and even a small fabric book full of swatches and motifs she did as she learned new patterns.

Making things is clearly in my blood – it’s something I can’t (and wouldn’t want to) fight – but it’s also something that helps keep me sane, a form of meditation for me.  When my ADD-and-anxiety-plagued imagination is bombarding me with a million bajillion completely unfeasible scenarios of how badly everything can go, knitting or stitching give me a way to step out of that crazy feedback loop for a while and just focus on one stitch at a time.  When I’m so, so sad or angry and I feel like I can’t do anything right, making little lines of stitches with a needle and thread or yarn shows me that actually, yes, I CAN do at least this one tiny thing right in this one moment.

Moments eventually build up to minutes, which pile up to hours, and suddenly I’ve made it through another day.

Many mental health problems are hereditary, just like other traits and predispositions.  I know my grandmother suffered from bouts of anxiety and depression throughout her life, though it was not something that was considered appropriate to talk about when she was elderly, let alone when she was my age.  I didn’t know my great-grandmother well enough to know whether she had similar issues as well. But, it does sometimes make me wonder if these women’s legacies of prolific crafting and fiber artistry may have stemmed not just from a need to express themselves creatively but also a need to self-soothe or to step out of their own mental feedback loops for a time like I do now.