Friday, November 27, 2009

Fireside Chat demo and book-signing

Face facts: You'll probably have a headache and few gifts left to buy when December 19 rolls around. Not to worry. Relax as you make last-minute gifts with me (fizzy bath bombs!) and enjoy a cocktail mixed by author Kerry Colburn during this lively evening. We'll also be signing copies of Backcountry Betty: Crafting with Style and Good Drinks for Bad Days—Holiday Edition, which make perfect stocking stuffers and hostess gifts!

Saturday, Dec. 19, 4–5pm
Where: Hotel 1000, 1000 First Ave., Seattle, WA

Sunday, September 27, 2009


A few days ago, I got rear-ended…hard. As I sat on the side of I-5 waiting for the tow truck so I could get back to a book deadline, I started thinking about all the accidents—four, to be exact—that I’ve ever been involved in.

Fresh out of driver’s ed, I was driving to a cast party after a performance of “Don’t Drink the Water.” I was playing Marion Hollander like Edith Bunker and it totally killed, if I do say so myself. For reasons I won't go into, I wasn’t supposed to go to the party; my mom was running interference so I could slip away for a couple of hours. I was on the clock.

As soon as the curtain went down, I changed clothes and zipped across town. As I approached the intersection of Napier Avenue and M-139, I got nervous. Reputedly the most dangerous intersection in Southwestern Michigan, it was a clusterfuck of lanes around the Orchards Mall and the Fairplain Plaza. Impatient, I stepped on the gas in my tiny red Toyota truck and promptly rear-ended a couple. As I got out of the car and scurried over to the pair, I prayed that there was no damage or injury.

“ohmygoshiamsosorryareyouokay?” I blurted out, looking at our bumpers rather than them. Aside from a bit of paint transfer, all seemed intact. Then I looked up. The couple was staring at me, speechless.

I suddenly realized that I never took off my stage makeup. My hair was sprayed gray and I had age lines drawn on with greasepaint. While I was wearing my Guess jeans with the zippers at the ankles and the rad Ocean Pacific jersey I got in Chicago, my face was straight out of granny central casting.

In a word, insane.

Well, after the initial shock, the couple insisted on taking down my digits. Although they never did call, I was on pins and needles during the ensuing weeks, waiting for news that my ass was grass.

After that, I enjoyed a spell of accident-free driving. In my early twenties, I moved to Washington, DC and took a job working at a magazine production company. I lived in Georgetown and drove out Route 50 every weekday into Northern Virginia. Even with the reverse commute, traffic sucked dead bear.

A multi-car pile-up was bound to happen. I was jarred from my NPR reverie by unwelcome impact. Again, rear-ended. I didn’t brake quickly enough, so I rammed into the car in front of me. And so on and so on and so on. While I was fine, the bumper on my Tempo of Doom suffered some damage. This time, I was more concerned about being late to work than anything else.

Fast forward ten-ish years. I was again scurrying to my job, this time at a publishing house in Philadelphia. I had an important meeting…with Mister Rogers. Obviously, I didn’t want to be late and I didn’t want to miss a minute of time with him. The light turned, I got the go-ahead, and I started into the cross-walk. Some dim bulb on her cellphone turned the corner and barreled right at me.

She sees me. She has to see me. I’m in the middle of the crosswalk. Uh…why isn’t she slowing down?

As these thoughts raced through my head, I realized that she did not see me and that I was going to get hit. Luckily, my body responded faster than my thought process. I leapt and succeeded in only getting hip-checked. At this point, the driver sort of noticed me. She stopped, rolled down her window, and yelled, “Did I hit you?”


I bitched her out with signature snark, and kept it together until I got into my office. Then I broke down. And after a good crying jag worthy of Holly Hunter in Broadcast News, I collected myself and went downstairs to meet my hero.

And that brings us to this latest run-in. I’ve been fortunate to have only sustained minor bruising during these collisions. In thinking about them, however, what's been interesting is that I'm always being driven by my passions when an accident occurs. Be it my teenage acting aspirations or my career, I can't wait to trade insurance information, tape up the bumper or my body, and get back to it. Maybe I'm impatient, but it's usually only because I love what I do and I can't wait to stop sweating the small stuff (like a dinged bumper) and get back to what really drives me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Writer’s block: fact or fiction?

I’ve long maintained that I don’t believe in writer’s block. Sit down, focus, and knock some text out. I guess it’s my blue-collar, farmer roots. I don’t want to indulge the finicky muse. I just want to get shit done.

I’m revising this belief.

I’m tired. You might even say I’m burnt out. I don’t think I’ve taken a two-week vacation in my adult life. I work every weekend and often am taken unawares by B-list holidays. Recent Christmases have found me sitting at my parents’ dining room table trying to jack a neighbor’s WiFi so I can research a music legend for a possible book collaboration or write content for a retail website. Ho ho ho.

Being a freelance writer sounds idyllic to those on the outside. I get to set my own schedule. I am able to develop passion projects. I have the ability to meet up for coffee or lunch regularly. I can work in my housepants all day.

The reality? Not exactly puppy dogs and rainbows.

Don’t get me wrong. All the above “perks” are true but aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Scheduling is a bitch. Without meetings and others to report to, I find it nigh on impossible to keep to a routine. I need accountability beyond myself. I don’t draw a regular paycheck, so I take on all sorts of projects to pay the bills. I agree to unrealistic deadlines. I work seven days a week. I know I need to have more balance in theory, but I struggle to create this in practice. And I don’t sit in pajama bottoms all day, contrary to popular freelancer belief. What would Bill, my beloved UPS guy, think?

All this wears on me. And it wears on my writing. At times, my creative cupboard is bare.

Sure, I have techniques to jumpstart my writing when I’m staring at the screen. But if I’m uninspired by a project, it’s hard to make a cognitive shift so that I can plow through it in short order. Often, the projects that make my heart sing and my fingers fly get pushed to the side in favor of immediate, lucrative assignments. If I’m stuck with a claw-my-face-off project, I’ll put it aside for an hour or two and write something else that blows my skirt up. For instance, I’ll draft a blog post here or for Things I Want to Punch in the Face, a forum that provides me pure bliss. It’s an efficient way to re-juice me creatively.

And while I don’t exactly believe in waiting for that wifty bitch of a muse to roll in like Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu (although that’d be dope), I have discovered that my writing needs space to breathe and develop in my mind and heart before I can transfer it to the page. I’ve been batting around a teenage memoir like a cat with a mouse for years. It started out with one focus and I just couldn’t muster up enthusiasm to keep it going. I backburnered it and felt guilt over it for a year or two. Then something happened. I found the heart of the matter. It was only by giving it space that I realized that the real story, the painful one lurking behind my pithiness, was the one I needed to tell. It’s the project I have to write. In this case, writer’s block turned out to be a gift, not an excuse.

Meanwhile, I’m still staring at the screen and working to finish my urgent projects so I can fit my memoir into my schedule. I’m eager to have my heart singing and fingers soaring again but sometimes, I got nothing.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what do you do to alleviate writer’s block? What inspires you?


Friday, September 18, 2009

Talk talk, all we do is talk talk

Two weeks ago, I road-tripped to see Dave Matthews Band with a childhood friend. When I returned to Seattle, I had a houseguest in town for a music festival. After he left, I had a day alone before I flew cross-country. There, in New Jersey and then Delaware and back to New Jersey, I was with a couple housefuls of people for a week-plus.

I felt like I had a radio in my head that couldn’t be turned off.

I suddenly realized why I was screaming in my skull. I hadn’t been alone for more than 24 hours in two weeks when I’m usually alone most of the time. Some days, I talk to a neighborhood barista and that’s it. While I adore my friends and can’t get enough of our sidewinding conversations, I am not trained these days to run the convo course. I can go at it in sprints but I get winded halfway through a marathon.

When I lived on the East Coast, I shone in situations where five conversations were simultaneously going on. I took it as a point of pride to follow all the threads. It was sport.

But it wasn’t connected. It was more about showing off than tuning in. I have been working to change this. And I know I’m different. When someone cuts me off, I can’t take it. I often just shut down and let them talk, figuring it’s more important to them to drone on than for me to interrupt. But I’m equally aggravated when someone isn’t listening to me. I don’t always have something important to say, but I am talking.

I know I do it, too. I might be working on the computer or watching crap Bravo TV (you know what shows I’m talking about) and zone out. I didn’t used to do this. I've been on high alert for most of my life. As a kid in an alcoholic household, I learned to multitask, doing homework, watching TV with the family, and always listening, listening, listening for something that required a laugh, a comment, or a trip to the kitchen for another highball. I guess my coping strategies have slowly melted away. I don’t need to split my mind into different compartments, I don’t need to always impress. Rather, I want to connect, to feel that ripple that flows through my body and causes my eyes to tear up when I am absolutely on the same page, wavelength, whatever you want to call it, with someone. That’s when the white noise stops and I can hear everything crystal clear.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Flexing my flexibility

Until a few years ago, I thought I was just a logical person with high standards for myself and others.

Then I realized that I was extremely inflexible. Rigid, in fact.

I expected people to follow through on plans or tasks, no matter what. I was disappointed when a friend consistently, almost without fail, canceled on activities at the last minute. I couldn’t deal when someone blew off a deadline.

And the person I was hardest on was myself, which meant I was anxious and filled with guilt and/or self-loathing pretty much all the time. It’s little wonder I have acid reflux.

But after working with a life coach and gaining a bit of perspective, I realized that being vulnerable and inconsistent is not a failure. It’s human.

I set myself up when I hold myself and others to the highest standard. Take today, for example. I was supposed to travel to New York for a day of meetings (four, to be exact). After taking a red-eye from Seattle to Philadelphia and doing a “planes, trains, and automobiles” thing for 36 hours, I was already compromised on sleep. I woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose and it was pouring outside. But I still got up, showered, prepared to make the trip regardless of the fact that I have a full itinerary for the next week, including my best friend’s wedding shower that I’ve helped to plan. Tromping around in the rain, my health would most likely be further compromised. But I was reluctant to alter my itinerary. I had appointments set up, I had made plans. I felt like a wuss even considering going into the city later in the day, let alone bagging on it altogether.

But when I went to wake up Alison, she was the voice of reason. Finally, talking it over with someone other than the voices in my head, I was able to allow for the possibility of an alternate plan. Within 10 minutes, I realized the folly of the trip in the face of all I have to do in the coming days. I e-mailed all of my appointments and rescheduled a couple for next week. My only regret is that I got out of bed so early.

Being flexible and fluid takes constant practice and I’m slowly learning to give myself and others a break. I am learning to accept when a friend leaves me hanging and be excited when she actually shows up. As the saying goes (attributed to Denis Waitley), “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” And I’m trying to remember to step outside of myself, look at a situation, and lighten up. The only person who expects me to meet unattainable standards is me.

I’ve got a long way to go to be spontaneous, but that’s okay. Nobody’s perfect.


Monday, September 7, 2009

The work/play tug-o-war

It seems as if I’ve had vacation on the brain these days. If I can’t take a full-on break, I can at least dream about one. And this rainy Labor Day weekend, I’ve been trying to find my spots of blue sky where I can find them.

Sometimes they only exist in my mind.

On the surface, I had a great weekend set up. My childhood friend Ann, who I reconnected with last year, scooped me up and whisked me away to see Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge, a spectacular outdoor venue in Eastern Washington. We spent the night in Moses Lake, hit the breakfast buffet in the lobby, and hightailed it back over the mountains.

DMB was fantastic; the time spent with Annie was even better.

I continued the tour through my past when I got back to Seattle. My high school pal Kevin flew in from Chicago for Bumbershoot, a three-day music and arts extravaganza. The festival would be overwhelming even if I didn’t have a lot of deadlines. But I do. So I’ve been doing my best to find balance, the middle of the road between work and play, the desire to be a good hostess with the need to be an effective small business owner.

The results are mixed. In trying to do both, I’m doing neither very well. But what I am doing is the best I can. I sent Kevin off in the rain to see the Black-Eyed Peas this afternoon; I’ll join him in a couple of hours to check out some acts this evening. The holiday is almost over and I’m going to be as present as possible in whatever activity I’m engaged in, be it writing, editing, or rocking out. At least I'm going to try.

Do you ever experience work guilt when you play on the weekend or holidays?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is traditional publishing dead?

Like many writers, I’ve been utterly gutted by the changing face of publishing. Watching magazines fold, newspapers go online or go under altogether, and book publishing struggle to find a financially viable place in this ever-changing and nutty world has been devastating.

I’ve taken my own hits. A book I finished writing was canceled within a week of the manuscript being submitted. A crafting website for which I was contracted to write weekly blog posts and tutorials cut all their paid content. I, and my fellow writers, fell by the cyber-wayside.

But you know what? I’m picking myself up. I resold my book to another publisher and like the Six-Million Dollar Man, it’s going to be better, stronger, faster. The blogging gig I had was a terrific experience and my takeaway is a huge online community of supportive writers and crafters.

That, however, doesn’t pay the rent. Out-of-work writers and editors are scrambling to find ways to make coin. When I saw the Seattle Post-Intelligencer cease publication and the Ann Arbor News—a paper in which I was thrilled to be published during college—go softly into that good night, I was dismayed. Kindles initially chilled me to the bone, I’m not gonna lie.

Then I started to see the forest through the trees (the ones that aren’t being chopped down for paper and pulp). I started to see opportunity. I don’t know what publishing is going to look like in a year, let alone a few months, but it will survive. It will evolve into something better, stronger, faster.

Publishing is far from dead; it's being reborn.

More people than ever are reading, be it through laptops, Kindles, or traditional mediums. Content is already starting to shake out, with quality writing separating itself from the chaff through user recommendations and trusted online voices, not through conventional publishing gatekeepers. In addition to having written 20-plus books, I was also an editor for many years, so I value an educated recommendation. But isn’t it just as exciting for a piece of writing to be discovered and embraced by the community you originally hoped to reach, or even by an unexpected readership?

My friend Diane Gilleland, a fellow author and blogger who worked with me on the aforementioned crafting website, has found that putting her considerable talent into e-books is an effective way to reach her community in much less time than traditional publishing can accommodate. And she’s able to reap a quicker ROI since she is, in essence, the publisher. She’s one of many writers who are finding ways to transition successfully into publishing 2.0.

Here's Diane's take on things: "As much as I love my traditionally published book, I find it much easier and more authentic to publish my own work digitally. I see no reason to put good ideas on hold until a publisher decides there's a wide enough market for them. An enthusiastic niche audience is in many ways more fun than a mildly interested mainstream."

As for me, I’m putting the social media experience I’ve gleaned as a writer and author to use as a consultant. Over the years, I’ve discovered effective ways to promote my books and other products, build a strong personal brand, and connect with a community that expands daily. And in a similar fashion, I am helping businesses come out guns a’ blazin’ in this Wild, Wild West of Web 2.0. When the smoke clears, let’s be the ones still standing. Let’s be better, stronger, faster.

To become a more powerful publishing gunslinger, here are a few tips:

For the writer:
  • Certain genres still work in the printed form, such as gift books and children's picture books. Investigate which areas of the bookstore continue to see strong traffic. Retool a book idea to fit into a market that is still drawn to bound books.
  • Explore new mediums to publish your work, such as e-books and monetized blogs.
  • Build your personal brand and develop a strong online community (which will enhance your desirability to a publisher) through the use of various social networking platforms.
  • Write a blog to further solidify your brand.
For the publisher:
  • Embrace alternative channels of publishing. Kindle content may be inexpensive to consumers but it creates another income stream for you and your authors.
  • Create a strong social networking presence to build a loyal community around your company and your authors.
  • Use every possible avenue online to market your books. This includes blogs, forums, chat rooms, e-mail blasts, Facebook fan pages, YouTube videos, aggregate sites, and Twitter.
  • Once you set up profiles and accounts online, actively participate by posting interesting content and connecting with your community.
  • Partner with authors to achieve wide-ranging online publicity. We have skills far beyond being fabulous writers.
For more on the state of publishing, give a listen to Diane's Craftypod podcasts about publishing, here and here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vacation, all I ever wanted?

I’m on a mini-vakay at a gorgeous South Florida resort. They have 23 pools, I can hear and see the waves breaking gently on the beach, the balmy air kisses my skin.

I’m seriously freaking out.

I have a book manuscript due, not to mention all sorts of other deadlines and responsibilities that are sticking to me like sand on wet skin. This isn’t a new problem. I’ve always had a hard time relaxing and over the years, working for myself, it’s hard for me to even take weekends off. There’s always something that I think demands attention. There’s always something (or to be honest, a litany of items) that works to keep me from falling asleep.

Does this sound familiar?

While I hope not, I suspect some of it rings true for you. It’s hard to turn off the worry and the responsibility and let yourself relax. Here at this wondrous place, I don’t feel I deserve what the resort and the time off has to offer. I don’t deserve peace of mind.

I haven’t worked hard enough. I didn’t get enough things off my plate before I came. I can’t just turn off a chaotic life that I created. Or can I?

I often go around thinking that there’s a magic wand that I can just wave around and suddenly, I’ll be in a Florida state of mind. It doesn’t work that way. In fact, I have to consciously work and make choices to give myself this break.

And I also have to cut myself a break. I’m committed to social media and for me, that means tweeting around scheduled events, sharing photos of the amazing things I’m experiencing in real time, and turning my iPhone to vibrate, not off.

I’m making choices that will help me to be present in paradise while still staying linked in.

Maybe my next trip will be to a destination sans a signal (I’ve already got an invite to a remote cabin in Maine next year) but for now, vacation isn’t quite like the Go-Gos said.

Vacation, all I ever wanted. Yes.
Vacation, had to get away. Okay. I’ll buy that.
Vacation, meant to be spent alone. Nope, not without my tweeple.

(I'm staying at the Amelia Island Plantation. Book a trip now.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The social media revolution

"Social media isn't a fad. It's a fundamental shift in the way we communicate." I couldn't have said it better myself, and I certainly couldn't have shown it better than this short video filled with mind-blowing statistics about the increasing power of social media. Please take the 4 minutes and 23 seconds to watch it. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Is authenticity the new transparency?

I've been all up in social media's grill for quite some time now and it's very easy to start talking the talk. But I have a high bullshit sensor and really hate "bizspeak." Masterminding, low-hanging fruit, and taking a conversation offline all make me want to claw my face off. I realize that some work-specific vocabulary is necessary but much of it strikes me as pure posturing.

These days, I've been hearing a lot about the importance of "authenticity" and "being authentic." These words are being bandied about with as much abandon as "transparency" was last November. I admit that I've used these terms. Who hasn't asked an antique dealer if an oak clawfoot table is actually authentic? And, yes, I've used them when describing the importance of real, true social networking and communications, because there are a lot of phonies, blowhards, and chuckleheads out there in cyberspace. You can't see, hear, or reach out and touch someone when he sends a tweet. How do you know if it's worth your time to click on a link? Is it going to be a blog that touches the soul or captures the imagination? Or is it going to be an ad for penile implants? Sometimes you just don't know.

But you can increase your chances of striking cyber gold if you are engaging in social media regularly (and by engaging, I mean having conversations, reading your streams, posting your own compelling content, and not just stalking your twitterfeed and facebook home page). You can see someone's tweets, status lines, and thoughts over time and get a sense of their credibility, their authenticity.

And what speaks to me as authentic may not resonate with you at all. We have to find our own tribes, or twibes, as the case may be, and work on building our own, ugh, authenticity within them. Don't retweet everything you see. Don't hashtag people for #followfriday unless you really are digging on them. There is a buttload of quantity out there (which is admittedly hard to stomach if you're a professional writer like me who values great writing and likes to get paid for it); help yourself and your tribe sift through it. Recommend the things and people you truly like, write to your personality and not your bottom line, and seek out strong voices within the social media din. You'll come through loud and clear.

But remember: please use "authentic" sparingly or I might have to cybersmack you.

What's your definition of "authentic?" Are you fed up with this or any other buzzword these days?

You can find me on twitter @Jennifer_Worick or on Facebook. Follow me, friend me, join my tribe/twibe.

(A great book about building credibility within social networking is The Whufffie Factor by social media maven Tara Hunt, @MissRogue on twitter.)

Changes are afoot

As you can see from the new masthead, I’m tweaking this blog. I initially called it “Prairie Tales,” as it tied in nicely with my book, The Prairie Girl’s Guide to Life. In addition, it conveyed my desire to talk about how I navigate through the world as a crafty urbanite with blue-collar background.

Write about those things I did…and do. But as I and my work have evolved, so too has my focus for this blog. I’m a crafty prairie girl, sure, but I’m a whole lot more. I’m a humorist, a lecturer, an author of wide-ranging nonfiction, and a social media consultant.

Prairie Tales is too limited a focus to convey all the hats I wear. Believe me, my hatboxes contain a whole lot more than a sunbonnet!

To that end, this blog will now be called “Word: The World and Word of Jennifer Worick.” In it, I’ll get into anything and everything that’s on my mind, from publishing and writing, to social networking to crafting, to things that strike my fancy or stick in my craw. And I want to hear from you. "Word" is a great forum to talk about the good, the bad, and the zeitgeisty stuff that intrigues us.

I look forward to the conversation.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bath bomb: the musical

Not really. But here is the TV spot I did on KOMO4 back in June. Learn how to create bath bombs in this televised tutorial.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bath bomb demo was the bomb!

By the looks of the happy faces on vendors and customers, the Urban Craft Uprising was a huge success on all fronts. My friends Susan Beal and Sister Diane conducted workshops and signed books on Saturday. I had the pleasure of doing the same on Sunday.

A baker's dozen of crafters gathered in the demo area to learn how to make bath bombs (one of the many nature-based projects in Backcountry Betty: Crafting with Style). In short order, participants were sniffing essential oils and mixing up their bombs. After packing ice-cube trays with crafty goodness (as Sister Diane would say in her craftypod podcast), they gently twisted the trays to pop out their fizzy treats. There were a few casualties, I'm not gonna lie, but overall, everyone was pleased to learn how to make these easy and inexpensive bombs. Thanks to the great staff at the Uprising, my friend Jessica Campbell (who originally showed me how to make these lovelies), and everyone who stepped up to the table to get their hands dirty, at least temporarily.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tacoma or bust

If you are in Tacoma, or know someone crafty who is, come on out tomorrow night to the Wheelock Library. I'll be talking about Backcountry Betty: Crafting with Style, describing methods for optimal beach-glass hunting, and showing you how to do an easy project or two with stuff you find on the ground. Seriously, what's not to dig?
For more information, check out the library site for details. Mapquest directions here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Urban Craft Uprising is going down next weekend

The Urban Craft Uprising brings you the best and brightest indie crafters and, this year, the UCU is adding a summer show so you don't have to wait for the holidays to get your craft on. Next weekend, August 1 & 2, head to the Seattle Center's Exhibition Hall to shop, participate in demos, and meet your favorite authors and crafters.

Like, for instance, me.

I'll be leading a workshop on Sunday where you'll learn how to make your own fizzy bath bombs. They are suprisingly cheap and easy to whip up. That's going down at 12:30. Then from 2–3pm, you can get your very own signed copy of Backcountry Betty: Crafting with Style so you'll have the directions to make the bath bombs and 49 other projects using outdoor and found items.

Be honest, you'll only really go hiking or kayaking for one day next weekend so head to some air-conditioned shopping on the off day for some kick-ass crafts. Diane Gilleland, Susan Beal, Jenny Hart will all be in the house signing books and doing demos. What more could you ask for?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Betty hits the University Branch library on Tuesday!

I'll be hitting the University Branch (5009 Roosevelt Way NE) of the Seattle Public Library this Tuesday (7/21) for a talk and demo about Backcountry Betty: Crafting with Style.

Hear about my beach glass obsession! Learn about how to forage for craft materials in the wild! See a plain baby onesie be transformed into a work of art before your very eyes! All this magic happens at 6:30pm. Friends of SPL will be on hand selling books, in the event you want a signed copy (and I promise to write something pithy, cheesy, or heartfelt in it). Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A few photos from my birthday

I had a magical birthday weekend, kicking off with a small cookout at the CoSos. Rob, Kerry, Piper, and Molly—my Seattle family—opened up their backyard for some great play (including bocce ball), conversation, and all-around fun. Strange songs were sung in lieu of the "Happy Birthday" song, baked beans and bratwurst were shoved in the piehole, and there were cupcakes.

Yesterday, my actual birthday, I went with a couple of dear friends to Whidbey Island for the day. We followed my usual route: Greenbank for pie, Coupeville for salmon & chips at Toby's Tavern, beach glass hunting (check out the two bags of glass booty!), just over Deception Pass for espresso shakes at the Shrimp Shack (love the photo of Michaela and Jessica; they look like they are up to no good)... We added in a stop at the Tulalip Casino (truly, the number-one place for fun), which blew Michaela's mind. She kept looking up at the ceiling like she had just gone down the rabbit hole. Sadly, I was not the Queen of Hearts but I was queen for a day. The best part about the entire celebration was the insightful, funny conversations I had with my friends. I am so blessed to have such an amazing urban tribe; that really is the best gift and I get it on a daily basis.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Notes from the G-Wood

I had a fun time talking Backcountry Betty: Crafting with Style tonight at the Greenwood Branch of the Seattle Public Library. Friends and strangers came out for the promise of hugs, salted caramels, and crafty tips. And I loved hearing from library patrons how to make paper and chocolate leaves out of found items. And to cap off the evening (not counting the drinks I downed later at Gainsbourg), a librarian bequeathed to me a bin of plastic register tape rolls, CD jewel cases, and library card templates to repurpose into something. We'll see what magic awaits with these goodies.

Make a gorgeous paper flower bouquet

Over at Etsy, my favorite designer Jeff Rudell shows us how to make an ingenious paper bouquet. Check it out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Next up: Greenwood Library

I know you must be dying to discover the world of inexpensive and ingenious craft projects in Backcountry Betty: Crafting With Style. You're in luck! Come see me tomorrow night at the Greenwood Library. I'll be there at 6:30, talking up beach glass, pine cones, and all sorts of treasures you can find on the ground. I'll discuss my current state of craft dementia and my dream for a Battle of the Beach Glass Stars someday. I'll do a demo of one of the projects in the book, and Friends of the Seattle Public Library will be on hand to sell books. What's not to like about that?

A weekend of projects and Piper

I had a super weekend. After a fun Backcountry Betty: Crafting With Style talk and signing at the West Seattle Library on Saturday, I spent some time whipping up crafts for my upcoming book of gift projects. I made some salted caramels late on Saturday night and they are delish, if a tad hard. I am just going to have to make another batch this week, and pull out the caramel at the "soft ball" rather than "firm ball" stage. I made a quilted easy-peasy baby blanket yesterday and now I have the perfect go-to gift for my legions of expecting friends. I wonder if I can make a quilted Snuggie knockoff…

And I also made a charming framed silhouette of my favorite little pal Piper. Another perfect gift for a little one's room and a gift project that can be done, swear, in under an hour). Speaking of Piper, who's almost 4, I played dress-up with her for hours yesterday, meaning she was my Sarah Jessica Parker and I was Patricia Field. I'm most proud of two outfits: I wrapped a giant scarf around her so that it crossed in back and tied at the neck oh-so-smartly. Add to that a satin pencil skirt (from her Disney princesses dress-up kit), some mules and a floral lei worn as a bracelet and she was every bit as chic as Kate Moss on holiday in Ibiza. The other outfit was pure girly fun. I pulled a frilly pink skirt with lots of tulle layers up so that it became a strapless top (like SJP wore during that season of SATC when she was trying to cover up her baby bump). I added a slim pink skirt, a burgundy wrist band, and a pink headband worn Olivia Newton-John style and she was ready for Mr. Big/Prince Charming, not to mention a fancy lunch date with her girlfriends at a swanky place like Trophy Cupcakes.

I tried to make her up as a pirate but she was having none of it. Eye patches are not for her. However, her gypsy fairy look was a bit hit with her parents. She told a few fortunes with her Magic 8-Ball.

Anyway, it was a welcome respite from work and financial stress, and recharged me to come home and keep plugging away on the gift projects.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Craftin' my life away

I've been crazy busy promoting Backcountry Betty: Crafting With Style and tomorrow, Tuesday, I'll be talking about all the great projects in the book on Whole Living with Terri Trespicio on Martha Stewart Radio. I should be on around 10:30am ET so check it out. I'll also be talking all things Betty at the Vashon Island Library on Wednesday and the West Seattle Library on Saturday.

Meanwhile, I'm furiously cranking out gorgeous projects for my next book so they can be photographed. Writing the manuscript is the most challenging part of the publishing process but it's certainly not the end of my job. Sometimes I just have to review edits, illustrations, and page proofs. But in this case, I have to create 50 projects that are ready for their close-up. At the moment, my apartment looks like a craft bomb detonated. I don't work well in chaos so I keep cleaning up after each craft is completed and then I start the mayhem anew. Not the most time-efficient strategy…

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How to Kill Your Favorite Website. (Or Magazine. Or TV show.)

Please read this terrific article from Sister Diane on Craftypod. She discusses the state of old and new media, and the challenges of monetizing content. I am one of the bloggers who is affected by CraftStylish's decision to cut the budget for content (my final article posted yesterday), and while I'm excited at how publishing will transform itself during this exciting time, I'm also affected financially by both print and online publishing decisions.

How do you think publishing will come out on the other end of this digital revolution?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A look back at Maker Faire

"I went to Maker Faire and all I got was this awesome t-shirt."

Okay, I got a lot more but one of the highlights of the weekend was hanging out in the Provo Craft booth, chatting with people about how to make shrink plastic jewelry using the Cricut and silk-screening t-shirts for myself and tote bags for the public with the Yudu screen-printing machine.

Yeah, it pretty much rocks.

And the weekend rocked as well. From watching the Mentos/Diet Coke guys set off a huge demonstration to music, to watching a giant Rube Goldberg contraption, to perusing the indie crafter wares at the Bizarre Bazaar (including Erika Kern's loverly log pillows), to rubbing elbows with freaks and geeks, it was a crafter's and nerd's delight. Needless to say, I was in hog heaven amongst all that interesting eyewear.

So I thought I'd provide a few highlight photos of this techie Renaissance Faire. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NYC crafty storytelling this Thursday

My gifted friends Michaela Murphy and Jeffrey Rudell will be telling crafty tales this Thursday at The Lion Brand Studio in NYC @ 6:00. This show will feature first-time storytellers spinning yarns and it promises to be a fun evening. Seeing as I live across the country, I can't make it but if you're a crafter, you'll dig this.

Check the Lion Brand blog for more details and reservation information.I was with Michaela and Jeffrey this weekend at Maker Faire and will be posting some highlights and insights in the next few days. It was, hands down, the coolest festival/faire/large gathering I've ever attended.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

See you at Maker Faire this weekend

I've been playing in a crafty sandbox for quite some time. I've just wrapped up a year of weekly blog posts for CraftStylish and will be turning my attention to other crafty pursuits.

To that end, this weekend I'll be heading to San Mateo to Maker Faire, the granddaddy of DIY gatherings. You can find me at the Provo Craft booth, showing off all sorts of cool things I've been whipping up with their machines (the shrink plastic necklace I made with the Cricut is redonc it's so cute). I'm also enchanted with the yudu, a screen-printing machine that you can set up in your home. I just printed a favorite Bon Jovi quote ("You live for the fight when it's all that you've got," in case you were wondering) around the hem of a t-shirt. Yes, the t-shirt and the machine are as rad as they sound. Stop by the booth if you're attending—you can get a Things I Want to Punch in the Face t-shirt. Yep, also totally rad.

Stay tuned for news from the Maker Faire floor…

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Betty Does Ballard this Thursday

I'll be talking about Backcountry Betty: Crafting With Style on Thursday at the Ballard Public Library. I'll do a little demo, wax poetic about beach glass, and talk about how to turn found items into glorious craft projects. This is a great event for kids and families, if you can pull them away from dinner and Dora.

Books will be available for sale by our friendly neighborhood bookstore, Secret Garden. For more on the event, check out the Secret Garden site. I hope to see you there.

Where: Ballard Public Library
When: Thursday, May 28, 6:30pm
Why: Uh…

Monday, May 18, 2009

Make party favors for a bridal shower

This week's tutorial has me making seriously cute party favors using Hambly Studios' Rub-Ons (they also make great papers and overlays). They are super easy to use and the results are guaranteed to delight. Here, I sassed up some plain white tea tins.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tutorial: Make a Bridesmaid's Necklace

My latest tutorial at CraftStylish is a super-simple necklace using awesome colored SoftFlex. Showcase the beading wire and a special bead with this ten-minute project.

CraftyPod reviews Backcountry Betty: Crafting With Style

Sister Diane gave Betty a great review over at CraftyPod and is giving away a copy of the book. If you want to know more about the projects, Diane gives a thorough overview of the various projects, necessary skill level, and production value of the book.

Head over to CraftyPod to register to win a copy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Craft Quest: Seattle

My latest post for Craftstylish features my favorite craft haunts around Seattle. Whether you live here or are just passing through, you might want to check out some of the well-stocked craft stores the city has to offer.

The Space Needle is pretty cool, too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Make a leaf-printed onesie for your little sprout

With a little fabric paint, a leaf, and some embroidery floss, you can wow the women at the next baby shower with this one-of-a-kind onesie.

Make a Leaf-Printed Onesie for Your Little Sprout - CraftStylish

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