Saturday, January 28, 2012

Week 3

earl grey | almost mont blanc | gift hat knitting | looking up | air mail pad | freshly blocked | gambling

Friday, January 13, 2012

Week 1

bay bridge | closet clean-up | chimay | diy calendar | new year's cards | banh xeo | italy reunion

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mini Moleskine

When I first saw the Moleskine mini daily planner online, I immediately dismissed it as useless: it was way too small.  I saw it in person when I went in search of a 2012 planner at my local bookstore, and after a bit of handling, I determined again that it wouldn't be functional for me.

But some kinda bug had gotten a hold, and the desire to acquire grew stronger and stronger.  Was it the cute factor?  The chubby factor?  I'm not sure.  As I looked ahead to 2012 I knew I wanted to get back to being more creative.  I thought about doing a daily sketch.  And maybe a gratitude journal. And by the bye, this tiny little Moleskine became a necessity.

Still, I hesitated.  In SF I stopped in at Phoenix and Dog-Eared books, half looking for the planner.  I found one, and convinced myself that I didn't want a navy blue one.  Of course, once January 1 hit I realized that I had to have one.  But by then they were nowhere to be found--of course.  Oh man, did I kick myself.

I considered ordering one online, but my need for instant gratification could not be stopped.  I spent all of last week looking for it -- Vroman's, Dick Blick, Barnes & Noble, MOCA gift shop, WDCH gift shop, Kinokuniya, Urban Outfitters, Paper Source, and a couple of shops in my neighborhood -- all to no avail.  Finally, last Saturday, I shimmied into a Papyrus store, hope all but gone... and sitting on a shelf were three of these wee guys!  I grabbed one immediately and rushed to the cashier counter... where it was rung up for 50% off!  Eep!

Can you guess what my first gratitude entry was?!  I'd been mentally cataloging some of my gratitudes for the week, and  jotted them down on the corresponding dates, too.  I haven't sketched anything yet, but a slightly-larger-than-credit-card sized sheet of paper seems a feasible nad no-pressure space upon which to unleash my creative juices.  So far I like sitting for a few moments at the end of the day to think about what I'm grateful for.  It's a good way to wind down.

We'll see how this works.  If all goes well, I'll have a cute little memento of the year, and perhaps, even a new tradition to continue.  And who knows what else -- wishmeluck!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The perfect souvenir

When my coworker told me she was going out of town to spend the holidays with her sister and new niece in Fort Bragg, my eyes visibly widened and I let out a quite audible, "Eep!"

"Is that a few hours north of San Francisco?" I asked.

"Yes; they moved up there for my brother-in-law's job. How have you heard of Fort Bragg?"

"That's where one of my favorite breweries is!"

We consulted a bit on an embroidery project she was working on for the new baby, and went our separate holiday ways at nenmatsu. Though we started work again last week, today's the first day I actually saw her. And this is what she brought back for me:

beer sampler[north coast brewery sampler]

Eep -- I can't wait to try them all!

I suggested to my coworker that if she wants to visit her sister and niece again, I am confident in my northbound driving, so maybe we can go together, stay a few days in Fort Bragg (so I can visit the brewery!) and hang out in SF or the Fort Bragg environs.  She was enthusiastic.  And the Presidents Day holiday is upcoming.  It seems plans may be afoot.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Roadtrippin', solo style

The Japanese word for weekend is shuumatsu (週 = shuu = week; 末 = matsu = end); that's the Saturday and Sunday (obvs). In December, there's the nenmatsu (年 = nen = year), which is three times better. Instead of one day off at the beginning and end of the week, we get three days each for the end of the year and beginning of the new year. Pretty sweet, innit?

With a good chunk of days off I decided to do something spontaneous -- well, as spontaneous as I can be.  Which means I thought about it for a week or so. Called my friends to see if I could crash with them.  Thought about what to pack. And on the 29th, I drove up to San Francisco. By myself! It's the longest time I've been on the road alone.  Which is why I was hesitant to commit at all.  I made sure enough people knew what I was up to before leaving, took a deep breath, and hit the accelerator.

After loading into the car everything I could possibly need -- knitting projects (yes, more than one), journal, book, clothes, camera, chargers, water, coffee, snacks -- it wasn't until about an hour or so into the drive that I realized I'd forgotten one very essential item: my phone -- YIPES!  I toyed around with going sans for the weekend, but it was impossible.  I'd have no way of contacting my friends, or getting around.  I'd be totally helpless. And so I turned around and drove back home. All the while cursing my own self.  Once I got home, it took me another 20 minutes to find the phone and refill my gas tank before I was off: again. Of course, I hit traffic.

It took me about eight hours (with one bathroom break) to finally reach my destination -- an apartment right about city center -- and my dear old friend had  a glass of wine and a darling two-year-old waiting for me: perfection.

The weather in SF was unseasonably clear and warm.  My friend, the baby, and I hung out in Noe Valley on Friday morning, and then I hopped away on my own through the Mission District and up to Japantown to meet an old roommate for coffee and a maddish visit to Daiso.  I'd jotted down a few stores to visit from Design Sponge's SF Guide, but it proved too tedious for my mood, so I just wandered around and poked into interesting-looking shops.  There's a mid-century furniture shop somewhere around 16th Street that always seems to catch my eye, which always causes me to sigh covetously at teak wall units and many a chair.  One day, my pretties.

On Saturday I went with my hosts to a New Year's Eve brunch -- fabulous idea that I might steal for this year -- which was one of the most international gatherings I've ever attended.  Simultaneous conversations going on in French, Arabic, English, Chinese, and Italian.  Beautiful Moroccan tea glasses, ceramics, and rugs.  Good coffee.  Good mimosas.  Lots of beautiful babies, playing harmoniously together.

At midnight, the three of us rang in the new year with a quiet, "Cheers!" so as not to wake the baby.  Then it was off to bed, and homeward bound the next morning, armed with coffee and a slice of toast.  I arrived at my door in five hours flat.

My SF photo album is dominated by pictures of a very charming 22-month-old girl.  I've put together a mosaic of the trip's other highlights below:

It'd been a good two years since coming to SF (last time was for the baby's baby shower!), so it felt good to be there.  I still don't know the city as well as I'd like to, and didn't get to meet up with my cousin, who lives there now.  Which means the possibility of returning is great.  Especially now that I know I can make the drive there in one piece. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hyper organization hack

So I pretty much decided that I was going to use the hyper organized (chou seiri) system, to which end I needed to create a case for my hacked calendar.  I considered upcycling a pair of suede pants into a nice cover, but realized that I don't need a nice one; rather, one that's just nice and functionanl enough.  I found a large wall calender envelope, made of heavy cardstock, and cut around its creases to create the "spine" of my chou seiri calendar. 

chou seiri case, closed

For the inside, I added just a couple of pieces of the envelope to make flaps, which I secured to the main cover with some teal colored duct tape I found lying around.  Instead of adding more layers of the cardstock to create pockets, I made some strategic cutouts to accoummodate credit cards, slips of paper, and a pen clip.

chou seiri case, opened
Here's what it looks like with stuff put into it:

chou seiri case, stuffed

The final touch was the addition of a Rhodia No. 8 notebook.  I'm glad to say it fits perfectly!  Lots of pages on which to jot down notes and doodles throughout the days.

chou seiri cover, complete

Now, the only thing is to make sure I use it each and every day.  Knowing that I put a lot of work into making it will help with that.  Not only do I want to keep a good outlook on plans and projects for the year, I also want to see how the cover and tape hold up to daily use.  Never to late to improve, right?  Just the right attitude for the new year.