Posts filed under ‘Holidays’

Birthday Hedgehogs

Yesterday was my sister’s 21st birthday. I’ve been promising her for a while that I was going to make her a fabulous handmade sketch book, and on Friday I started digging through some stuff in preparation to do so. I got a great idea for the book – and realized that I was in over my head. There was no way I could finish the book by Sunday evening.

I’m going to make that fabulous sketch book, but in the meantime I decided to make her a set of little portable notebooks for doodling and note-taking this academic year. It also gave me an excuse to try Jackie Poutasse’s Hedgehog tutorial. I love moleskines but rarely splurge on them, so the thought of making my own appealled. (Apparently if you make your own, they go from moles to hedgehogs – kind of a Kleenex thing, maybe?)

I ended up spending pretty much all weekend (at least eight solid hours, not including shopping for the perfect sheets of paper) on a set of six hedgehogs, each slightly different from the last. A couple of them turned out near-perfect; one may self-destruct at any given moment. (I think I forgot to loop my thread back around a previous signature on one go-around.) But I love the way they turned out, and I think she really likes them!

The biggest one was done with heavier paper for the text block and, although you can’t tell, there’s a lot of glitter and gloss to the cover material. I covered the edges of this book with book tape from Kimbooktu because the paper’s embellishments were cracking. The monkeys one was the first one I did, and it’s a bit plainer because it served as my “dummy.” Fortunately, it worked just fine! The next one was tricky because I had to laminate a sheet of Tinkerbell-themed vellum to cardstock without the glue showing. This one is different because I didn’t wrap a second sheet of paper for the cover – the cardstock was heavy enough that I thought it made an adequate cover by itself. It is also reinforced with book tape. The orange one has orange paper, just for kicks, and my sister’s name spelled out in alphabet beads. The clouds book was covered by some fantastic self-adhesive paper by blogger Elsie Flannigan – Elsie, if you’re reading this, PLEASE make more of that stuff! And finally, the last hedgehog is adorned with some terrific fabric stickers with a surf-shop theme.

A closeup of the orange hedgehog. I wasn’t sure how the white elastic would work – typically one uses black – but I really liked the end result.

I bought this little hamper-caddy at the dollar store. When I saw it, I eyeballed it and realized it was exactly the right size. Sure enough, they just fit!

Finally, in the interst of full disclosure, a photo that shows off the slight problems I had getting the spines to adhere properly. The fore-edges are uneven, too, but that was intentional.

They were really fun to make, and not that difficult. I highly recommend the tutorial, and if this is your first book, I highly recommend doing a few practice text blocks first. (Binder clips are your friend.) Let me know if you ever make one – I’d love to see pictures!

July 30, 2007 at 7:35 am 1 comment


If anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas…


Bonefolder Bind-O-Rama 2007
The Guild of Book Workers 100th Anniversary Exhibition Catalog

Initiated in 2004, the Bind-O-Rama challenge and online exhibition has become an annual event. To continue that tradition, the 2007 Bind-O-Rama will be a set book exhibition featuring the catalog to the Guild’s 100th anniversary exhibition. The
exhibition continues to be a great success as it travels across the US. Closing in Portland, OR on May 20, the exhibition will then travel to Dallas’ Bridwell Library before closing at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in late November.

The bound catalog is already sold out, a first in Guild history, but there are still a good number of unbound copies left. What better way to bind them then for an exhibition. The unbound copies of the Guild’s 100th anniversary exhibition catalog can be ordered from the Guild of Book Workers for $30 that includes shipping and handling within the US. For orders outside the US, shipping costs will be provided.

This is an extremely “luscious” catalog and a must have for any bibliophile, bookbinder, or book artist. To see the quality of the illustrations, the
full exhibition can be viewed online at

Catalog Specifications:

Size: 8.5 x 11″ Vertical
Pages: 112
Illustrations: The catalog depicts all 58 bindings in the retrospective exhibition and all 62 bindings in the juried exhibition of contemporary works. All illustrations are in color. The catalog includes introductions by Peter Verheyen, GBW Exhibitions Chair; Betsy Palmer Eldridge, GBW President; juror’s statements; complete binding descriptions; biographical statements. Design: The catalog was designed by Julie Leonard and Sara Sauers of Iowa City, IA, who designed the catalogs for the William Anthony, Fine Binder exhibition held at the University of Iowa and the Book of Origins: A survey of American fine binding.

July 10, 2007 at 6:33 am 1 comment

Don’t I Wish!

Today is Drop Everything And Read Day. I think this may be my new favorite holiday!

I’ve got three books at home that I’m reading, another book burning a hole in my bookshelf, and very little desire to be productive – hey wait! I’ve also got a nine-hour bus trip starting this afternoon! Maybe I can celebrate after all. Whooooooo!

It’s Beverly Cleary’s birthday. She – with Ramona Q. – sponsors D.E.A.R. day. Everytime I feel nauseated, the scene in Ramona Quimby Age 8 where she tries to will herself not to vomit by trying to keep completely still plays through my mind. My alter-ego, QBobicus, grew from Ramona’s Q-cat concept. Those books played a disproportionately large part in the creation of my mental playspace.

Raise your hand if you shared Ramona Quimby’s world!


April 12, 2007 at 5:39 pm 1 comment

Mission: Smut-Lit

If you are the sort of person who likes trawling used book stores, library discard racks, etc…. or if you are the kind of person who buys romance novels but then has no use for them after reading them… I need your help.

What I’m looking for are pages from romance novels. Not just any page, though – the raunchiest, steamiest, cheesiest, smuttiest, purplest pages you can find. I need them removed from the book as neatly and completely as possible, and I need the actual page(s) mailed to me. The best of the best will be incorporated into a handmade book for Valentine’s Day which may or may not be used in a graduate-level bookmaking class. If you find a really fantastic cover, you can send that too – I’m not sure yet what I would do with the covers, but if I have the material I may find a use.

If you are willing and able to accept Mission: Smut-Lit, contact me and I will give you my mailing address. 🙂

January 8, 2007 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment

A Christmas Story

On the 26th of December I took off my pajamas and climbed into the shower, noticing as I did a large, festively-colored bruise spreading across my left hip just above the knee. Tender as all hell, too. I couldn’t help but smile as I stood there, hot water running down my body, remembering what had taken place thirty-odd hours before.

It had been Christmas Eve night, and Ryan and I were making ourselves comfortable on an air mattress in the spare bedroom at my parents’ house after a long day of visiting, eating, and church-going. We both knew that the following day would start early – not early like it once had, when there were under-twelves in the house, but still earlier than good sense warranted – and would go long, and we were both pretty worn out. Not so our six-month-old puppy, Paisley, who had discovered her calling as a home security alarm. Every time anyone in the house moved, she’d take off in a flying leap across the mattress and stand sentinel at the end of the hallway, barking into the darkness in the general direction of stocking assembly.

We finally got our dog in a headlock, stopped laughing, and, eventually, fell asleep.

I’m not sure what it was that woke me up some hours later, nor am I sure exactly what time it was. It was dark, and the house was utterly quiet – even Paisley was softly snoring next to Ryan. But something was off – something was wrong. I crawled off of the air mattress as gracefully as I could, put on my glasses, and walked quietly across the hall into a room whose windows overlooked the front yard. The windows were foggy, so I wiped away a porthole and peeked out onto the lawn.

There was something out there. Something… familiar. Something that made me wonder if I’d really gotten out of bed at all or if I was in the middle of a particularly vivid dream.

A deer.

Now, I’ve had deer outside my window before. We lived for five or so years in a Colorado forest, and we’ve been camping in enough wild places that I’m fairly unalarmed by random encounters with wildlife. There are, from time to time, deer out in southwest Boise. That being said, this was just weird. And so I did what any redblooded American would do under these circumstances: put on my houseshoes and went outside.

It probably wouldn’t be much of a story if all I encountered out there in the cold night was a deer, and I wouldn’t be going to the trouble to write a non-story, so you can pretty much connect the dots and come up with the fact that my deer was hardly alone. There was an entire smallish herd of the little guys – and they were little – all standing around, nuzzling yellowed grass through the old crispy snow, casting occasional expectant glances at an old man in one of those Land’s End squall parkas (red). Definitely grandfather-aged, with a bit of white scruff around his chin, and a nice knit cap like you’d wear if you were going skiing, also red.

“Wondered if you’d come out,” he said, and took a pull on a pipe that I hadn’t seen or smelled until that moment. I smelled it then, that unmistakeable, exotic tang of pipe smoke.

It was pretty clear to me at that point – and maybe it’s clear to you, too, by now – who, exactly, was standing in my parents’ front lawn. Now, I’m an adult. An eccentric adult, to put it mildly, but in all fairness I have a pretty good head on my shoulders. And even though I’ve maintained my faith in the inexplicable and fantastical as best as any adult can be expected to do, even I couldn’t really deny that a red-suited stranger did not slip down my chimney on Christmas Eve. And yet here I was, in my pajamas and slippers on my parents’ front lawn, talking to a man who simply could be no other than Santa Claus.

There were many things I could have said at that moment. “What are you doing here?” was what came out of my mouth.

He laughed, and it was such a nice laugh, not at all like some of those scary shopping mall Santas you run into these days. “I was in the neighborhood. Thought I’d stop by and say hello.”

“Hello,” I replied in what can only be described as a flash of pure wit.

He took another draw on his pipe and exhaled a smoke ring. The deer – there might have been a dozen of them – shifted positions. “I wanted to thank you, as a matter of fact, Katherine Elizabeth.”

“Thank me?”

“Thank you. Do you know how many people around here still believe in me, Katydid? How many people worldwide? Why, the first graders are making fun of the kindergartners if they mention my name. They don’t even try on the television anymore. People right there on the TV – newscasters, actors, you name it – they’ll just go out there on prime time and talk about how Mama and Daddy are staying up late to play Santa, talk about how old they were when they found out I was a fraud. And the children are watching this, you know. They all watch television anymore, and they’re hearing these adults say I don’t exist, and they believe it. They believe it.”

“It’s kind of awful,” I agreed.

“And yet you’ve never stopped believing, have you, Katydid.”

“N-no,” I said, wincing just a little bit because I was sure he knew that I’d been wrestling with it, wrestling with the sure onset of adulthood against my desperate hold on childlike wonder.

“It’s okay, you know,” he said. “It has to be hard, to be a grown-up who still believes.”

“Well,” I said, because he seemed such a reasonable guy, “can you tell me – the reason why I have trouble, sometimes, in believing, is because I don’t see you in action. You know? I mean, I know that moms and dads are staying up late to put out the Santa gifts. I know that poor children don’t always get visited from Santa. If you exist – which it’s clear you do, given present circumstances – then why aren’t you doing, you know, what you do?”

He laughed again, but this time it was kind of a sad laugh, I think, or maybe just thoughtful. “You know, Kate, that’s an excellent question, and just a wonderful example of how people have the wrong idea sometimes. Not you – not just you. Everyone. Look at my sleigh.” He gestured behind me and to my left, and I turned, smacking my leg pretty hard into a curled wooden runner. I don’t know how I’d missed it before, but there it was – a beautiful sleigh, big enough for a man and a passenger, plus maybe a small pickup’s load of cargo. “Does that look large enough to fill with toys for every Christmas-honoring child on the planet? Of course not, and there’s not that much magic in the world, I don’t think. Not enough magic to fill that sleigh that full. How fast do you think these little deer can pull that sleigh, anyway? Not faster than the speed of sound, Katydid. They’re mighty fast, but they’re not that fast.”

“No, Kate, that’s not ‘what I do.’ I don’t deliver all of those gifts.”

“What do you do, then?”

“Santa Claus is a symbol,” he said, lying a gloved hand on a deer’s back. “I’m a symbol of giving, a symbol of hope. All of those parents out there buying gifts for their children ‘from Santa’ – they’re doing it in the name of giving, of love. What they can give, they give. People across this country put out barrels and collect toys and dolls and coats and blankets for children whose parents have nothing more to give, or don’t want to give, and why do they do it? They’re inspired by the idea of giving hope. They’re inspired by me, by this symbol. I remind people to give – to give material objects, if they wish, or to give joy whenever and wherever they can. To give love.”

I started to say something (I forget, now, what exactly) but Santa Claus kept talking.

“And just as importantly, Kate, Santa Claus is a symbol of faith, of believing in magic. There are so many things out there that we can’t see, that we can’t understand, Katydid. We believe in God even though sometimes it makes no sense, even though other people who believe clearly don’t believe the same as we do. We believe in other people, in their inherent goodness, even though the contrary is proven to us constantly. We believe in love even after our hearts are broken. We believe that there may be other life out beyond the stars, that there may be cures to diseases, that there were once dinosaurs on the earth, that there are more capabilities in the human mind than we can currently guess. And as children we believe in even more. We believe in the fairies that add mystery and glimmer to our world. We believe that our teeth are spirited away in exchange for coins – dollars, anymore, I guess – and that rabbits hide gifts around the house and yard at Eastertime. We believe in unicorns, dragons. And we believe that, if we are good and kind and give joy, that Santa Claus will come in the wintertime and give back to us what we have given to others.”

“Until someone tells us it isn’t the case,” I said, quietly.

“That’s right. Until we stop believing. And once you stop believing in one thing… how can you believe in anything else? Everything else becomes shaky, everything else falls.”

“It’s like Jenga.”

“It is.” He patted the deer on the rump and dumped something – ash, I guess – out of his pipe. “So thank you.”

“You’re… you’re welcome.”

“Thank you for refusing to stop believing, even when it is ridiculous. Because what you’re believing in isn’t really me. It’s the idea that things will be okay, that people can make a difference. It’s faith in the more. You’re believing in that, Katydid, and you know what else?”

“What?” I asked, realizing that it was starting to rain.

“You’re not alone.”

And frankly, I couldn’t exactly tell you what happened next, except that the deer moved and the man in red moved and then they were all gone, leaving a scattering of hoofprints and runnermarks on the snow, and I was standing there in the cold drizzle looking up into the sky realizing that I really wasn’t sure at all that they’d gone skyward. And then I got cold, so I went inside and sat next to the tree until my mind stopped racing, and then I went to bed.

The next morning, Paisley woke me up with a big puppy kiss at 8:10, and I went immediately to that front window and looked outside. The rain had melted away the last of the snow, and there wasn’t a trace of any interference the night before.

“What a weird dream,” I said to myself, and went into the living room where Christmas morning was getting underway.

December 26, 2006 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment


It’s been the week from hell. Don’t even ask. But before I let the weekend get here, thus obliterating this week forever, I wanted to tell you about my Valentines. I kind of think I might could mass produce these suckers and make my millions! (Well, not really. But it could happen!)

Two Wednesdays ago I learned that the chapter/colony were going to be exchanging Valentines at the meeting on the 15th. I’ve been in a crafty mood, so I decided that I wanted to make some, too. For three or four days I followed Meredith along as she collected interesting papers and decals from scrapbooking stores, looking for my own inspiration.

Finally, in the shower on Sunday morning, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I went to the one scrapbooking store in the entire state that stays open on Sundays, and then made a ridiculous but highly necessary stop at the LIBRARY! Then I gathered up all of my various scissors and gluesticks, camped out at my mom’s kitchen counter, and made the best Valentines ever.

And by “best,” I mean “most inappropriate.” Why, you ask? Well, it has to do with those innocent looking little white hearts you see pasted on the front of each and every card. Perhaps a closeup is in order.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Valentines cut from the smuttiest pages of the smuttiest 25¢ romance novels available on the used book rack.

Below you’ll see my personal favorite. Such eloquent phrasing! It’s just so stark in comparison to all of the ridiculously flowery euphemisms in most of the books.

And finally, the inside text wishing them the very best kind of Valentines Day:

I put a hallmark thing on the backs, with a crown and the words “HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE VALENTINES” — which, you’ll notice (although I didn’t until someone else pointed it out) means that I gave everyone HIV.

These were so much fun to make, and I hope everyone liked them. 😉

I’m also thinking that perhaps I should try my hand at writing smut. You can make good money being a romance novelist… churn out about a book a week…

February 17, 2006 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

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