31 December 2009

Intentions 2010



In tandem with my post at Colette Patterns, wishing you and yours a very happy New Year!

20 December 2009

Crafting personal geography

This week at expat+HAREM I ask: how does one's worldview literally shift as a result of locationMapping the Imagination is about the lure of the world, what it means to unravel one's past while charting the future through unknowns, and how new perspectives shape the paths we are on.  



My first post in the series, Hybrid Domesticies, can be found here. Please feel welcome to join in on the conversation!

17 December 2009

Thinking in color







For as long as I can remember, I have thought in color. I envision the calendar year, for example, as a line drawing shaped like a dissected pie, each month represented by a wedge of color. The cheerful spring and summer months are aqua and pink, fall colors green and yellow, and winter ashen and purple. Colors have a particular sound and pitch. I grid what I see, make visual lists that hang like objects in space. That's how I remember things, and why I can typically find my way back to a once-visited side-street cafe, around a busy airport, or even through back roads.

The senses, handily there for our survival in a vibrating and chaotic world, are not always easy for me to differentiate. This hearing color thing, tasting shapes thing, is called synesthesia. I never understood why I didn't like malls or crowded spaces until I learned more about this extra-sensitivity factor. Sounds and motion reverberate in such a way that I can't chronicle the individual movements fast enough. Instead, I shut down.

Moving abroad to Turkey, I found myself fatigued by even short trips to the grocery store.  I found myself fatigued by even short trips to the grocery store, or to my language school to teach. I would listen to Turkish, a language I didn't know much of at the time, and its tonal value would set off a flurry of reactions I thought was mainly from shyness and sensitivity. Everything I did outside of my house had to be done slowly, while inside I could work for hours sewing or drawing or reading without even noticing the time pass. I filled notebooks with sketches and magazine clippings covered in fabric samples collaged with watercolor painting. To touch something, like silky fabric or hearty upholstery, was to engage with the whole object, its meaning and not just its function. And nearly always in silence, because music competed for attention, filling the airspace with more color and shape.

The ability to visualize numbers and forms in space is the only reason I passed Algebra and Geometry in high school. Useful when trying to remember a sequence, like items on a menu, or when learning a new alphabet, it's less convenient when needing to block out noise, or quiet spaces are not to be had (like at a Turkish family gather under bright fluorescent lights with tea glasses clinking and aunties yelling over each other and uncles moodily discussing politics). I've carved out a nice space at home, though, where I can brush off the words that circle like ribbons of color and chatter like clacking keys and hush them to sleep.

Is this you, too? Or are your senses more tame and obedient?

25 November 2009

From the inside out




Four years of nurturing a 'homepreneur' habit, and 2+ years of gently deflecting kind people who still ask why I don't teach English, I've just started to feel it is the right fit to work at home.  I venture to guess that most artists don't think of themselves as entrepreneurs (will have to save this thought for later investigation), and most of the time I don't think I am, either. But if you work for yourself (mostly), and make money doing something you love, doesn't business play a part in it? Over at IC, they talk about being a creative entrepreneur and it resonates with me. 

What I wonder is, where does the word 'entrepreneur' fit into this real-life description?: rise at morn to feed hungry duo-national Ameri-Turks + Turkish spouse, shuttle off first-born to nursery school after noisy stampede around house until 11 am, engage in quiet work time while second-born naps for a mere hour and a half, resume negotiations with second-born not to destroy house while I write or work on projects, do laundry, eat lunch, etc. until 5:30 when first-born comes home, followed by escapist downtime in kitchen making dinner while husband reacquaints himself with home and kids, ending with a song and dance bedtime routine and my own bleary eyes held open until midnight... I know I'm not alone in this, and that some women in this position would call themselves 'mompreneurs', but I'm still uncomfortable with this tag. I find myself gravitating towards the new domesticity. It fits a little bit better. Where's your tribe?

There was a time (a wee 3 years ago) when I was making handbags (while getting paid hourly to plead with university-level students to speak English at a language school), that I felt I had to hide the fact that I didn't have a "real" studio, atelier, or brick 'n mortar shop for my handbags. Now it is almost the opposite: I've invited more and more people into my home studio through twitter, illustration, and active engagement with others about crafting a creative life like in this blog post. This is such a relief. To align my work with my life instead of the other way around.

Lately I've been thinking about what's next. One day (soon) the kids will be too old to share a room. We live in a modest 3-bedroom apartment and I'll either have to leave the nest to work in a studio space outside, or we'll have to search for a 4-bedroom apartment in Turkey, which is more difficult than it sounds. I'm not sure about re-entry into outside life. I quite like it here.

18 November 2009

A guest at Colette

I'm so happy to share that this week marks my second week as guest poster at Colette Patterns, where Sarai designs gorgeous garments for real women. Chantilly or Eclair may be my favorites, and I love how the names conjure Paris, cafes, vintage stores, and fashion icons. Every week I'll be illustrating visual inspiration and sharing thoughts and ideas about design, sewing, nesting, and beautiful things that shape our days, little bursts of fanciful drawings to muse upon while sewing away.



Please take a look even if you are not a sewist; Colette Patterns are marvelous eye candy and I couldn't be more pleased to be there every week as a guest blogger.

xo Rose

16 November 2009

Embroidery Coach


Recently added to my book stash was this kitschy craft instruction manual I couldn't resist mooching, if nothing else than for the title: a 1993 copy of Create Your Own Cross Stitch: How to turn your design ideas into reality. I was curious about this emboldening statement to not let one's dreams (of cross-stitch) lie in wait. Had I wasted my time in art school when all I needed was this book to fulfill my dreams? I'm a sucker for diagrams, sketches, and how-to's especially if they have a homey spin and have been written by women with multiple degrees {the fantastic Shirley Watts of CYOCS has a degree in Geography, Geology, and a degree in the Philosophy of Education, to boot}.

Shirley sketches mushrooms, tells you how to take photos to turn them into cross-stitch, gives basic instruction on how to start a project, and gently coaxes you through the process of unpacking your fears of being a creative individual. If ever you needed an embroidery coach, she is it.



I collect more craft books than I am able to do projects, but I do try not to give into impulse buying of craft books unless I really think I'll make something from them. Bookmooch is my kiddie cocktail of the book binge world; tasty but not inebriating. Are there any books you stock up on for your own work or just for fun?

06 November 2009

Fall Delights



Staples at a Midwestern Thanksgiving dinner table? At our house in Wisconsin: turkey basted according to a timing method made by my engineer-father, champagne for the adults to sip while waiting, broccoli/cauliflower and cheese-whiz bake, canned cranberries, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, butter on French bread, and pumpkin pie. For a saucy tale of secret ingredients at the holiday table, read cultural producer Anastasia Ashman's post here.

Here in Türkiye, I do what I can to recreate our meal, but it is never quite the same (though I've become much better at making gravy than I used to be!). I tend to throw in some healthier alternatives, but canned cranberries have never disappointed me, despite how unreal they look coming out of the can, ridges in the cranberry mold shaped like the aluminum can. Food and fall go hand-in-hand for me because the kitchen seems to come to life, me and the kitchen less sweaty and grumbling than in the summer when cold soups and salads are staples. In the fall, rich flavors mingle with our expectations for sharing meals together, sheltered against the cold. What keeps you fed body and soul during the fall? Afiyet olsun!

05 November 2009

The non-binary life



When an emerging American artist moves to Turkey and starts a family, she navigates new definitions of career and home life. What does that look like? Come join the discussion on art + domesticity cohabitating at expat+HAREM where I am a guest poster on art, nesting, and being an expatriate.

04 November 2009

I'm a fun-loving foreigner who likes French roast

Whenever I buy my over-priced whole-bean bag of coffee from the world's largest coffee chain, I encounter polite smiles and a friendly greeting by name from the baristas. Why? Because I am a fun-loving foreigner who likes French roast. I do enjoy other coffee strengths, though I rarely dip into mild or medium; however, I am known as Rose Hanım (Mrs. Rose) French roast lover and so as not to disappoint anybody, I buy it week after week.



One night coming back from Istanbul after my art opening, I ran into the cafe with chocolate unknowingly all over my face (because of course it is dark in the car and I can't see my face) and I try to ask for French Roast coffee beans to take home. I'm over-exaggerating my pronunciation, practically singing "Fr-eee-nch" to get my point across because the whole time the barista is backing away slightly. Back in the car I notice my face with fright while my husband chuckles and takes a sip of his mocha. It took me a long time to recover from that experience, exactly one week later when the coffee beans ran out.

Most recently, a different barista exclaimed to me, "You REALLY like coffee, don't you?" She laughed. "You come here a lot." I was taken aback, a little embarrassed. Was I flaunting my coffee obsession? This is Turkey, after all, where displays of excess seem frowned upon. Yes, yes, I do love coffee. Nescafe makes my soul cry out in pain. I wondered, though, is making your customers feel ashamed of their purchase a good marketing strategy? Mid-way through opening the vacuum-sealed pouch, she asked me if I wanted it ground and I said, "No, I have a grinder," to which I got a blank stare.

Next time you wonder where I am, be sure to check the coffee bean display where I am crouched by the extra-strong roasts grabbing 3 bags at a time. Whole bean. Because I have a coffee grinder.

02 November 2009

Drawing from life


I've been fumbling around the idea for awhile that the things we see online get digested so quickly. So I'm posing a little challenge to myself that for an unspecified period of time I draw the things I love and want to share. I've started doing this already.  Gretchen Wagoner's print here, is an example of the direction I'm moving. So is the black tea latte I made last week. I may throw in some photos from time to time, still, and my illustrations will certainly use mixed media. Covertly, it means I can justify hoarding Moleskine watercolor notebooks. This also means that if you want to share something with me - something you love or work you do, that time and mutual interest permitting, I'll do a little drawing and post it here. It may take me longer to do it, maybe fewer posts, but that's part of the experiment. I hope you'll enjoy! What do you think? xo

The Working Proof: Gretchen Wagoner


The artist and printmaker Anna Corpron, co-founder of The Working Proof and part of Sub-studio along with Sean Auyeung, emailed me to let me know Gretchen Wagoner's print of mating Hera buckmoths is available on TWP's site. I've been a longtime fan of Gretchen Wagoner and am delighted to see her work there. I find her drawings really engaging and ethereal. TWP puts heart and soul into creativity, charity, and community as their masthead says, and 15% of the $40 gross sale of Gretchen's gorgeous print goes to the Jane Goodall Institute. I love this merger of art and goodwill and the element of collaboration. It also nixes the notion that art doesn't help people and is simply an indulgence. Check out their artists and charities; the selection changes weekly. You can find more of Gretchen's work here and on her blog and follow TWP on Twitter or read their blog.

{image above an interpretation of TWP's website and Gretchen's print. The real print is much more luscious!}

28 October 2009

Drawing diary



Pumpkin + soy sauce + feta cheese? On a bed of pasta it has three of my favorite things: sweet, salty, and nutty with a dash of hazelnut oil. Top with walnuts.

26 October 2009

Rescue Remedy

My anecdote for the unpleasantness of the common head cold is a homemade spiced black tea latte. What's yours?



20 October 2009

Harika

Last night I interrupted the making of roasted pumpkin and carrot soup (with coconut milk, onions and garlic, in case you are interested...) to check my email and found my very first official rejection letter for a story I wrote. These days things happen so quickly that I have little time to actually react before I jump to the next thing, like making sure the navy beans in the pressure cooker didn't explode while Topi and Lina take turns putting tiny balls of play-doh under everything, but I did actually think a few things that came rapidly: oh, okay, and wow, they actually sent a response instead of letting it disappear in the void (or spam). And then, I felt it was official. I've finally joined the ranks of other writers because I've officially been rejected. This is great! Now I only need like ten more rejections and then I'll start to think I'm getting somewhere.

 
Turkish fabric - edgy florals


So far has been a week of some doors closing and others opening (though I'm still kind of waiting for the green light somewhere) in many ways, and just when I think I can get away from some kind of shift in the universe making each and every hour a taxing test of my patience, I find little reminders that it's not over yet. So bodes this week. In the meantime I'm reading French Women Don't Get Fat thanks to Tara who lent it to me after a wonderful Sunday brunch at her house and employing all my best procrastination techniques to avoid doing whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing this week. Getting Things Done was not in the weekly forecast.

Over at IC, I wrote last week about the editing process for artists and designers. While writing it, it gave me an opportunity to see just how I work and why. I'd say I'm in step 8 of my own list, going back to work and examining all the possibilities of what could be new projects. In my opinion, this is the most uncomfortable stage. All the previous projects are done, the clean up is finished and now it's time to focus on something new. Like my toddler's birthday bash in an hour... 20 toddlers and cake, oh my.

*Harika means amazing, fabulous, splendid...

14 October 2009

Corner with blanket



This is where I want to sit everyday, yet I manage only to look at it with longing from the other side of the room as I either work from the table or circle around the room picking up toys and papers and clothes like a robot. The temperature dropped and now my hands are always cold, though I'm wearing a knitted poncho my mother made more than 30 years ago around the house. It's only for inside. I'm not brave enough to wear purple, pink, turquoise, lime green, two shades of pink and olive green all at once, much as I love bright colors. This morning I decided I would start appliqueing a quilt square, which turn a turn for the worse when the bird I was appliqueing started to look like a worm. I don't know why I always get the bright idea that I can do any one project in a day. So I'm starting over on that, maybe not using stuffing this time. I'm blogging this month over at Intarsia Concept, so come take a look if you want to get on the color wheel...

08 October 2009

Guest blogger at IC

This month I've been asked by Tara and Figen of Intarsia Concept (IC) to contribute as a guest design blogger. IC supports the development of creative endeavors and gives resources for creative entrepreneurs to build viable businesses. To give you a little teaser about what I'll be discussing, here's a clue:




Look for my first post this weekend. Come join in on the conversation if you consider yourself a creative entrepreneur making your own products, or are just curious about what I might have to say! Thanks, Tara and Figen for this opportunity!

07 October 2009

Stuffing



I'm fascinated by what is on the inside of things - between walls, under the flooring, old wallpaper layers. The literal stuff. So it was with glee when I snapped these pictures of the doorframe once the old one had been removed. We had all our windows and two balcony doors replaced over the last two days and it has been a dusty, yet quick experience.

Everything is back to normal, mostly, with wiring issues and I'm happy to be reunited with my computer and my phone. Even though I use my phone far less than I did in the US, it's kind of like a walkie-talkie for me and Devrim. Instant dial - reach husband - confirm something - hang up.



And now construction on the outside of the building has started, and though we've only lived in our building a year, it was a long, cold winter. We live in the ugliest building in the neighborhood (this is not an exaggeration - ask anyone) and I'm so excited about the paint job and insulation.


23 September 2009

Wiring issues

Today I am using the oldest ever Nokia in Turkey while my one-year old cell phone is getting serviced. In the meantime, my computer decided to crash while doing Auto Update (what's the point of this function if it only causes mid-week distress?), which means victory points for my darling husband who hates Apple. And to top it off, I couldn't speak Turkish today to save my life while trying to explain said malfunction. So everything is on hold again, except for the fact that I was able to sneak in a stop at the habberdashery (love that word) for DMC floss and canvas. No photo today because I'm separated from my computer, of course. Hoping your day was more pleasant...

18 September 2009

Babar the Pillow




This weekend marks the start of Sugar Holiday, Şeker Bayramı, the end of Ramazan, and with it comes visiting family and delicious food. This usually entails a freshly cleaned house for visitors, too, and new outfits for the kids. Tomorrow I'll be cleaning and baking (looks like I'll make a brunch cake with blackberries), and I'm already hungry thinking about it. I managed to squeeze in one last project before fall cleaning takes over, though, and it turned out to be a (tiny) pillow.

I stitched this Babar pattern when I was pregnant with Lina and needed a quick project. I think that if I just did rows and rows of x's without any pattern at all, I would be just as happy as a real pattern because a good, long row of uninterrupted stitches is as close I get to meditation these days. But it's hard to gift projects with random stitches. I read somewhere, several years back, about how really truly subversive stitching has been for women at various points in history, because in the act of stitching, one has contemplative thought and makes room for imagination and desire. That could, of course, be dangerous if you were not encouraged to think. My friend Tara talks about this regarding the intricate 'oya' lace patterns traditionally done by village women in Turkey in her blog post Needlework and Crystals.

Today I made the little pillow and stuffed it, propping it on Topi's bed where I hope he'll discover it when he comes home from nursery today.

Happy Bayram! Iyi bayramlar!

17 September 2009

From Australia, with love



This past summer I did a magazine swap with the lovely Keryn of Eighty Days Design. I got the magazines before I left for a trip home to the US, but for one reason or another didn't get to delve into them until my return. I also think that because we were in completely different seasons (it was winter for her in July-August), I couldn't dive into pictures of warm slippers and sweaters, deeper colors like browns, reds and yellow, until now. I think that was one kind of enjoyable outcome of the swap - it gave me something to save for later, and now that we are getting a chill in the air in the morning and evening, sitting down with these magazines is pure heaven. She sent me not only three design magazines, including Vogue Living and Frankie magazine, but also gorgeous fabric and some of her cards.



I have big plans for this fabric, and now that I'm cross-stitching again, it will involve a hoop and some embroidery thread.  Note the cute lion head below the fabric? That's because Lina's crib is in my studio. Studio by day, nursery by night.



I noticed a little bit of a Turkish theme running through Inside Out magazine that Keryn sent me.   In an article on things under $100, I found this great pillow of the Aya Sophia in Istanbul from PipWilly. And then, Turkey's very own Divan Turkish Delight, below, made the same spread. 



Keryn's blog is wonderful, and it is fun to see her influences and behind-the-scenes peeks into how she makes her cards. Thank you Keryn, for the new project, some great morning magazine reading, and some beautiful cards that I can't decide whether to save or send....

07 September 2009

Home


I've recovered two of my very first, badly made stitching projects from my childhood home. One I write about here, or hint at, rather. It's a stitching of a pink rabbit I probably started when I was between 8 to 10 years old that I never finished, and for the fun of it thought I would not only finish now at age 30, but also turn into Lina's birth record. I'm nearly done, but keep finding some reason not to finish it just yet. I wonder if it being 22-years old and sentimental has anything to do with it.


The second is of this little house, still in the aqua blue plastic hoop from when I dropped this project, probably around the same age. I think it must have come before the pink rabbit because my stitching is atrocious. The back-side of it is a maze of sad, confused and knotted yarn, all the strands wrapped around each other in an attempt to get somewhere else. I don't remember who helped me with this piece. I learned from a few different people, including my Grandma Schueller, our lovely elderly neighbor Evelyn Sveum across the ridge (we lived in a valley, and our nearest neighbors were on actual hilly ridges), or my babysitter. I certainly know it wasn't my mother because she had died when I was six. I have a framed "My Sampler of Stitches" that my mom made when she was 10 and it hangs now in my hallway here, after being stuck in a box for four years.


The needle

But whoever is responsible for teaching me let me use an extremely large needle for this small project! No wonder I had anxious decision making about where to put it and how to pull it through the fabric. Or maybe I had picked the needle myself, thinking that the bigger, sharper, and more deadly the needle, the better. Regardless, sadly, I let this one remain unfinished. Unlike the pink bunny, there is no resuscitation for this ugly little house. I'm thinking I'll just take off the hoop, hand-clean it and iron it and then frame it. Why frame it? It's ugly in a cute way, I guess, and I'm going through a phase where I like to frame everything. I've framed a lot of cross-stitching in the last year or so, like this, this, and this, and more. The problem is that our walls are concrete and it is impossible to nail and/or drill through them. So they act as props, or I rotate them. But framing a stitching somehow elevates it, kitsch-ifies it, and gives it more proper attention than stored away, don't you think?

05 September 2009

While she sleeps


Is there anything wrong about eating potato chips, a fried egg, and plain rice for breakfast? Blame in on my flu, but in combination together, it just tasted wonderful. I was able to tolerate a cup of medium strength coffee (yesterday was weak, and may have accounted for my headache later), and feel much more optimistic about the state of my health now that I know I can go take a shower while Lina sleeps. It's funny to me that essential things, things like showering, get pushed aside when one's children are small. Or maybe I've just gotten lazy and used to it, but it is not uncommon for three days to pass before a blinking light goes off that I can't remember my last shower. This is horrible, for more than one reason, but doesn't seem to bother anyone in my family because I stopped pleading for shower breaks a few months ago and no one noticed.
Something else of consequence has happened in our household (blame it on the full moon a few nights ago) because of a certain argument about money, again. Growing up in my family, we didn't really openly discuss money unless it was to sit down and make a list for a pro/con-type-decision-making situation. In my husband's family, every other word out of their mouth has a dollar figure in it (or should I say lira?). If someone goes to the grocery store, they ask about how much the groceries were. They ask about credit card bills. They talk about bus money and minus accounts and mortgages and school bills and how much clothing costs and how expensive vegetables at the bazaar costs and how much of a rip-off restaurants are because they are too expensive. Everything is either too expensive or not discussed at all. Whenever I point out the value of something pricey (buying this home appliance/pair of shoes/suit IS expensive, but outweighs buying a cheaper one that will breakdown or fall apart), they just shake their heads with disapproval. This is not to say that I care too much about it at this point. I have been indoctrinated into the family enough to care less about what they say about my purchases. The point is that my husband's way of talking about money (openly, freely, with love), is the opposite of mine (closed, panicky, defensively) and once in a while we have fun, drawn-out arguments that last days.
Case in point two nights ago. Which gave me a lot to think about because for the first time it got through to me that my strategy wasn't working. Though I have not been asked, I am going to do something I think nearly impossible: give full disclosure about spending to my hubby through the form of a little notebook with figures in it. I have to do it my way, of course. Spreadsheets are SO not my thing. And this little notebook is a token of my love because I agree that I am nasty when talking about money. I retreat into my little hole and don't come out until I think the coast is clear. I am the only one responsible for this, and I've used up my free tokens for the argument that "Americans just think differently about money!" because clearly, it is more important to me that all things regarding finance happen more smoothly in our household than they have been.
Thus, a cute little notebook that I spent $3.99 on from Cartolina Cards via GreetQ. My first entry in the notebook is $13.46 for an eReader download this morning, thinking I would take a chance on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because it seems everyone in Europe has been wild about it. But first I have to finish my compulsive reading of Julie & Julia, with which I have fallen in love, despite my misgivings. I will say that I am glad that I didn't read it when it first came out in 2005, even though I've had it on my to-read list for that long. Because I had just married, because I abhorred cooking my first year in Turkey, and because reading the first few pages about a woman in the subway who was destructively mad totally turned me off, I thought I'd save it for later. I'm glad I saved it for now even though everyone else is reading it and watching the movie. I'm not opposed to mainstream fixations. Lately, I am delighted by mine.
Hopefully this tangent won't get in the way of me taking my shower, the very first thing I had on my mind once Lina fell asleep. My apologies for the extra-long posts these days. For some reason, taking six weeks off from blogging has made me come back enthralled.
Happy weekend, everyone.

04 September 2009

A Day of Rest

 Big Sky, Little Hideaway, 2004

It shouldn't surprise me that now that I've finally got time to work (baby sleeping, Topi at school), I'm indisposed.  The snails in our neighborhood have more energy than me right now, using it to bravely cross trecherous sidewalks, of which there are plenty (snails and trecherous sidewalks). The same snails that I adore and point out excitedly to my husband or kids or to passers-by and then accidentally step on with a horrible crunch, usually at night, after a rainfall. If I've mentioned this before, I'm sorry. I still swear I can hear the tiny snail scream as it suffers below my hoof. My husband, when he really wants to touch a nerve, calls me affectionately, "Snail Killer."

I suppose that if I have enough energy to muse about dying snails, I should have enough to work on one of many things that make my desk look like mini-pilgrimages up the Pyramids. Neatly stacked things does not mean organization, though. It means orderly disfunction, in my world. It means that in the process of trying to arrange my life and control it that I make little piles of things, group things together in platonic relationships so that I feel better.

The lack of energy does come from something legit, though. It started with a few unhappy grumbles of my stomach three days ago (could have been the excessive amount of chocolate milk I was drinking with my children, just like Topi likes it: milk in a glass with two scoops of chocolate milk power on top, not mixed, so he can scoop out the chocolate and ask for more. I protested this until I tried it out myself, realizing it was delicious.) and has turned into my late-summer-early-fall stomach flu. Without fail this time of year for the last three years I have to eat salted potatoes and rice with yogurt (and butter, because I can't live without the butter) and wave goodbye to my family as I cloister myself in the bathroom for a week. Sorry.

I chalk it up to the seasons changing, or that my life tends to change in some way in the fall, mimicking the start of the school year like it used to. Either way, despite the unpleasantness, forced rest is usually just what I need because most of the time I am either really excited about something or panicking about it. Both can happen in the same five minutes. 

I'm reading a book that everyone else is reading right now about another 30-year old who's personal experiment (this time, in the kitchen) turned into literary fame while I rest, and waiting for feedback on some work I've done so I can do revision #210. The calm right now, the illusion of calm, I should say, is only because I've gone through my Gmail and labeled everything so they are in neat little subcategories. Look, no mail! But my TO DO label in bright red still haunts me from the left-hand side of the screen and I meekly look at it and hope it doesn't start flashing. 

Does anybody really listen to their body when they are worn down, tired, anxious and overdoing it? If you do, pray tell. I have lost count of the number of times I've cut back, made changes, etc, to slow down the pace, and I pretty much always end up right where I started. In the most pleasant way, I am grateful for this because I always find things that captivate me that I want to do, make, learn about. On the other hand, over-committment and exhaustion go hand in hand. Even reading becomes a sporting event, hurtling through pages so I can start another one because I just don't know when I'll have the time again. But regardless, this time I'm listening to the clanging bell of my body telling me to take a break and only moving my fingers about the keyboard because the idea struck me that you, too, might relate to that. And if so, I'd like to know about it. 

01 September 2009

The calm and the storm

The calm

I've been back in Turkey for two weeks, and now that it is September 1st (my favorite month because psst... it's my birthday month! and because I've never lost the thrill of fall and the start of school) I'm back in full swing after taking my sweet old time. Which means I'm skipping the part about being calm and stress-free and going straight to fried and edgy.

The storm

The big news this week is that Topi has started "school" and with that comes a real routine! For the first time in three years! Lina will stay home with me, and we'll work something out, but I'll still be working while she naps and when I can bribe her to play independently after she wakes up.


This morning, when it hit me that I'm back where I started regarding the stress of juggling two kids while working at home, I thought of the three Escape Tactics I use to deal with it all: reading, stitching, and cleaning (but how come my house is never clean?). I'm determined to finish Lina's birth record before she is 2, so I picked this up again while my living room swirled with two little kids swinging from the pipes and using the phone cord as a jump rope (yes, we have a phone with a cord because Topi destroyed our cordless two years ago. I'm not going to replace it until they are both 10 years old). And now I'm going to pick up my embroidery floss off the floor.

18 July 2009

Summer Break

I have one week to go before I go home for a dear friend's wedding and spend some much-needed time with family. So why am I panicking about not having posted regularly the past few weeks instead of packing? Yesterday I caught up on my blog reading of Haus Maus, where Holly Becker muses on the absence of European bloggers during the summer. Noting that Europeans go on holiday from the online world as well as work world. And I was like, Harika! (Turkish for wonderful, marvelous or extraordinary). I can take a couple weeks off! I'm European now!

Here are a few illustrations I did a couple years ago that are part of a set of watercolors on Istanbul and which I rotate on my business cards. The rest of the set can be seen on my Flickr page. (The Light Garden, the linden illustration above made me think of you.) Hope you all enjoy a cool minty tea drink like the one below, and relax this summer! See you again in August.


14 July 2009

A Happy First



On Sunday we celebrated Lina's first birthday with a chocolate brownie slathered in frosting (thanks Rebecca!) and sprinkles. Typically I post about my children on our Deniz Babies blog, but this time there is a little DIY in the birthday pics. The party was very last minute and thrown together in a couple hours with the help of Rebecca, who has been staying with us while working with me as a volunteer for Nest. That requires a whole slew of photos that will have to come later. But in the meantime, we hastily cut out letters from an old newspaper and spelled out Lina Joan while guests were arriving. They were baffled by our scissors and DIY efforts, but we were pretty happy with the end result, and now get to read the news from last week in little snippets.


Here's to year number two in the Deniz household and hoping we can survive having two toddlers under one roof!

03 July 2009

Getting there


Lamp at night, photo by Barbara Heath

One cup of coffee down, one to go. On ice. Because it is so hot and humid here that just sitting is unbearable today. I have some corners, floors, and counter tops to attend to, and forgive me if the thought makes me want to take a nap. I've been busy at work on a set of new illustrations, and have two new short stories that I've started. I feel like there is much to share, but with everything in progress, it needs to wait a little bit. I've learned not to share things too soon, when the process needs more time, or to risk abandoning a fledgling project because of well-meaning feedback. Good or bad, the feedback can interfere with the direction it needs to take and slow down the momentum. In my opinion, there needs to be a hefty amount of work one does that never gets printed, hung on a wall, or saved in a portfolio. I need those 'mistakes' and unfinished pieces to generate ideas. What do you think? The other question for me is, when is it done enough to share? I'll save that thought for another, less brutally hot day. Have a happy weekend, and for those of you in the US, a happy 4th!

29 June 2009

Colette Patterns



I have just discovered Colette sewing patterns through Pink Chalk Fabric. I'm in love with the ink and watercolor drawings of the clothes on their patterns and how the model has been painted in a wash of color. Completely lovely. The one below is called Parfait, and I'm determined, once and for all, to sew myself something wearable because of this pattern. Colette's blog is here, and designer Sarai Mitnick's blog Sweet Sassafras is here. How come I've never seen these patterns before? I wonder if the use of hand-painted illustration is part of a new collection. I'm off to investigate, but if anyone knows, do tell!

24 June 2009

Happy Curtains




On this hot, humid, and tiring day I need happy curtains, and nothing but happy curtains will do. So, dear friends, here are the curtains I hung a few days ago. It feels like I have a new living room. I just can't get enough of magenta, orange and red.

18 June 2009

Luna Park


This photo from LeCool Magazine Istanbul edition caught my eye. the aqua green color does it for me, that's for sure. But also the vintage feel is great, and the way everyone's suspended in air.

I am making yogurt this morning (heat four kg of unpasteurized milk on the stove until boiling; let boil for five minutes then turn off; wait until it cools and add a tsp of thick yogurt to the milk, stir; cover partly with lid and wrap entire pot with towels for remainder of day; at night put into fridge; voila!), and did some sweat-inducing house cleaning like mopping the balcony and vacuuming under the carpets. If any of my friend from college are reading my blog, they probably won't believe me. Yesterday I hung new curtains that I am contemplating ironing (Can you believe it? I know!) but like the kind of natural way they hang. I'll snap some pics, promise.

You'd think that if I had time to clean my balcony I'd also have time to get to the pile of things overflowing my desk. Most of the time my office/studio is the last room to get cleaned, but I hate to disturb the karma dust which helps propel projects along. That being said, I am far more tidy than I used to be in the studio in graduate school.

Why a beautiful photo prompted me to discuss my cleaning methods, I have no idea. But I'm wondering if others might have an interesting Thursday tale to tell? By the way, the smell of warm milk has filled the house. It's absolutely delicious and homey.

15 June 2009

Turquoise Breakfast


My favorite color made an appearance this morning at breakfast. Between Devrim's shirt, our coffee mugs, bowls and the kitchen walls, it was a turquoise dream come true. If only all our breakfasts were this colorful.

Sugar Pink


The sugar pink of this spread in June's Elle Decor Turkey transports me back to my bedroom when I was thirteen. It was on the top floor of our new house that we had moved to from St. Paul, MN to Wauwatosa in Milwaukee. There was a pink tiled bathroom on that floor and the attic. Someone had decided there was room for that bathroom and a garret bedroom with built in trunks under a window. Because the roof was so prominent, there wasn't one spot where the wall was taller than me, so I had these low walls against which I put a desk, and my books on built-in bookshelves painted white. The wall behind my bed I papered in a kind of country floral rose, with muted purples, mauves and green vine. From my window I could see over everybody else and down into backyards. It was the perfect room for a 13 year old girl, but we moved by the time I was 15. I still remember the carpeting being blue and plush. I wonder if the occupants of the house now have ever replaced the pink shower stall with a monthly breast exam sticker stuck to the tile that I was fascinated by. At 13, I had to wonder. My dad's bathroom was all over green tile. It was a fantastic house excepting the 'updates' like wall to wall carpeting.

This issue is still on the shelves until the end of this month if anyone would like a copy. There are some other delicious spreads in there, too.