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Archive for December, 2011

I feel like I’ve been dragging on this Christmas theme for a while now, but this will be the last one, for real.

Even though Eric and I had last Christmas together, this is our first officially married Christmas, and I had the idea that every year we give each other a Christmas ornament to mark the year. We don’t really have any Christmas ornaments, and I figured it’d be nice to slowly collect ones that are actually meaningful. Eric wanted us to make them, which (and I guess ironically) threw me.

For the longest time I had no idea what I could make. Finally, the day before Christmas Eve, I spotted my set of blank matryoshka dolls (Russian nesting dolls… in my defense I just looked up what their actual name is). I’ve had this set for quite a few years, and although I’ve always wanted the opportunity to paint my own matryoshka dolls, since getting them I could never think of something cool enough to do with them. Well, now I had it! And it kind of cheats by saving me from having to come up with a totally new Christmas ornament idea for the next 4 years! Ha!

So, this year I painted the smallest of my set of 5 matryoshka dolls to look like Eric with highlights from this past 2011 year: He’s in his wedding clothes, playing piano and harmonica, with Sister and her 8 baby kitties all around him. I signed it off with “2011, E+E” on the bottom.

The back, with Sister:

This thing is so tiny and and pretty hard to paint! Just so you can see how small it is…

So, for Christmas 2012 I’ll paint the next biggest matryoshka dolls with highlights from this next year; and so on for the next 4 years.

And, on the tree:

Eric actually made me 4 ornaments in exchange for my one: This painted one with our names and wedding date:

And then these, each with a photo of the three pets we lost this year, to remember them…

So sweet, I love them. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Eric and I didn’t expect any big adventures today.

Most people have seen a lot of this story on Facebook and Twitter already, but here’s the whole of it, from our perspective:

A few days ago our really good friend Leah came to visit. It was awesome hanging out with her, even if the power did go out for the night she was here, but we hand fun drinking some beers and talking by candlelight.

We had an awesome time yesterday, going to see a movie and playing Just Dance, and in the evening we headed out to New Haven to see mewithoutYou at Toad’s Place. It had been a long time (2 years at least) since I’d seen one of their shows, and Eric had never seen them play. We met up with Leah’s brother Doug and Sister Cana, along with Cana’s husband Tim. mwY were up 4th on the bill along with some harder bands (the tour was featured as Thursday’s farewell), and they played a good amount of older harder stuff, along with some great new songs off the album that’ll be out early next year(?), which sounds like it’ll be pretty sweet.

Also, a bit of excitement from the show: Eric and I were apparently some of the most attractive people at the venue; a girl tried dancing with Eric, and a bit later a different girl came and asked me out. Poor thing, I knew she’d been working up the courage to talk to me all night, I’d seen her watching me. When I told her I was married though, I think she thought Cana was my wife, and kept apologizing to her. Being mistaken for a lesbian really doesn’t bother me at all.

It was getting late and Cana and Tim have kids, so we were about to head out after mwY’s set, but Eric kinda wanted a shirt. I’m glad we decided to go check them out, cuz Mike Almquist was working the merch table. It was nice to see him again, and introduce Eric around. (Btw, we know each other because I designed a shirt for them back in 2007.) We chatted with Aaron Weiss, Rickie Mazzotta, and Greg Jehanian too before we really did have to head out.

I constantly forget to take photos at these shows; it’s much more fun to dance then snap pictures, but I got a few before we had to say goodbye to dear little Leah and her family:

Driving home, we were both on a bit of a show-high, excited and happy from the music and performance and dancing. Plus, I was so glad Eric finally got to see into this; it was fun to introduce him to the everything.

Well then today, like I said, wasn’t anything special. Eric was brewing another batch of beer, and I was doing art editing, talking with my old friend Nathanael Bass about how last night’s show had been. He was disappointed he’d missed it (he was the one who’d first introduced me to Mike Weiss that led to the t-shirt design job). Around 2:00 this afternoon Nathanael brought my attention to a Tweet the mwY guys had sent out: Their bus had broken down not even 15 minutes from our place, and they were asking for help from anyone in the area.

Once Eric cleaned up beer-brewing we headed out to 395N and found Aaron peering into the back of their big tour bus. Unfortunately we really couldn’t be of much help, but right after we showed up Nathanael pulled in to the rescue! After a while and us and the guys all standing around in the cold and Aaron twisting and crawling around inside the engine (he blew all of our minds) he finally discovered what had worn away:

(That’s Eric sneezing or something back there.)

Aaron and Mike W. then headed off with Nathanael to try to find a way to fix the pipe. Mike A. was being a fretful and thoughtful manager and wanted to get the guys someplace warm (especially poor Brandon, who came out of the bus wrapped in a comforter). So he had us load up Greg and Brandon and we brought them to our place for tea and left over Christmas cookies. We hung out in our living room with Nick’s dog Oscar for a few hours, talking touring, music, and whatever else. It was nice and chill. I wish we could’ve done more to help with the situation, but I guess we did what we could.

Close to 4:45 Nathanael and Mike called to say they’d gotten something to patch up the pipe so we headed back up to the bus. We packaged up the rest of those cookies for everyone else in the bus (so glad we could finally get rid of them; a bunch of other people had brought cookies over and we were starting to get worried that they’d just go stale) and said our goodbyes once we got to the bus.

We might see a few of the guys again when we’re back down in Philly for a Pocket Vinyl show in February; we’ll see. Right as we were about to leave a couple other guys showed up that had offered earlier to get a couple vans and not only drive the guys to their show tonight in Boston, but also back home to Philly for tomorrow! His selflessness was incredible and kind of humbling. But it was good that they got the bus working anyways.

Well, I hope the pipe holds up ok until they can get a completely new part in there. It was quite a blessing that Nathanael was able to show up when he did and get them situated with time to make it to Boston! And Eric and I were both so glad we could help even just a little too, and have some good conversations to boot!

Also, if you haven’t seen mewithoutYou live, you definitely should. It’s such a wonderful time. Peace.

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Christmas Socks

As I’ve said earlier, this year I learned how to knit socks. It was a great thing to really get the hang of while we were on tour, because I found that knitting in the car helped pass time and helped keep me awake during late night car rides where I wanted to keep Eric company.

I can now pretty well knit socks without having to reread instructions as I go! Which makes me very proud. I still can only make a very basic sock, though I’d love to learn how to change yarn colours and all that.

Most of the socks I made were Christmas gifts, so it wasn’t until now that I have been able to share what I’ve been learning, so here they are!

I made these very thick warm ones for my dad, and I love how the coloured yarn created stripes through the socks on their own:

Eric and my dad wear pretty much the same size shoe, so to make sure these would fit him, I kept measuring Eric’s foot, and then had him try them on once I’d finished. Eric loved them and was always trying to sneak  wearing them before I had the chance to mail them up north.

I also made a pair for my mom, experimenting with knitting and purling to create a pattern. These remind me of caterpillars.

Even though they’re really bunchy looking, they stretch nicely, and to make sure that they would I tested out wearing them myself.

Have you noticed how it seems like practically everyone is having babies lately? For those of you constantly wondering and asking, we’re not. But, I figured I’d learn how to make baby-sized socks to give to my baby-having friends. This was the first one I made. I was halfway done with the second one when I ran out of yarn. I’m still learning how to judge those things.

Then I made these fat baby socks, that would probably fit a close to one year old…

And then finally I mastered infant socks. I sent these up to a very old friend Jessica who just had her second child, a premature baby boy named Evan.

I also made  pair of socks for my very good friend Journey:

And very good friend Leah:

While I was choosing the yarn for my dad’s socks, I asked Eric to choose a yarn that he liked as well, trying to be sneaky about it without letting him know I was intending to make him socks too. Then, since I kept asking to measure Eric’s foot for my dad’s socks, he asked if those were really for him and I was just trying to cover up by saying they were for my dad. And then, because we spent pretty much all of our time together, when he saw me starting the pair for him while we were in the car and he asked me who those socks were for, I told him it was a secret. There’s really no use trying to surprise him! At least he didn’t get to try them on until Christmas.

I also wanted to make myself my own pair of socks, so I actually was working on one of these socks for about 2 weeks before Christmas. Then, because I wanted to wear my own cozy socks for Christmas day, I started and finished the second sock on Christmas Eve in the afternoon! It was the fastest I’ve knitted a sock, and I’m not gonna lie, I am pretty proud of myself.

I really love how the rainbow yarn created these patterns on their own. Seriously, whoever first thought of taking 4 sticks and some string and figured out how to make a fitted sock was a genius!

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When we had that bit of down time in Philly, while Eric and Andrew were writing and recording the Pocket Vinyl/Clotworthy Christmas single, and while we weren’t frantically trying to mop up water leaking into the dining room, I was working on a Christmas art trade commission for my good friend Journey. She’d asked if we could exchange art for Christmas, since she wanted a painting of mine and we’re both artists. She told me she liked my most recent birds and trees paintings, and which colours she liked, and I painted this:

And finished:

Then, when we saw Journey at the very end of our tour on December 17, I gave her her Christmas gift!

And she gave us our’s! A portrait of the two of us done in her watercolour style!

We love it! Here’s a better shot:

Merry Christmas!

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Our last Pocket Vinyl show of the Synesthesia Tour 2011 took place in Harrisburg, PA, at Midtown Scholar, an amazing bookstore and coffee shop, on December 17. We showed up a little early and the people working took good care of us, serving us pastries, sweet potato pie (they have some killer sweet potato pie!) and lots of good teas to help Eric’s throat before our set. The place itself is spectacular, with multiple levels and a balcony, literally tons of books and a good amount a really awesome prices. (I got Santa Claws, an awesomely creepy Christmas children’s book with some spectacular artwork, for only $4!) With the many tons of coffee shops and tea houses where we’ve played, we’ve definitely seen these types of shops done right, and where these businesses seem to flounder. This is definitely a coffee shop done right.

We played a little less then an hour-long set. A good amount of people where there (including our good friend Andy Davis, who’d been at our Messiah College show!) and everyone was so kind and receptive. It was such a huge blessing to have this show after that horrible one in Altoona had brought us so low. At the very least, neither of us can imagine something worse then that December 16 show, so we kind of feel like we could take on anything now!

And here’s the final painting from the Synesthesia tour. You might also recognize it as the cover art from the Pocket Vinyl/Clotworthy collaboration Christmas song (which, if you haven’t heard yet, you should go check out).

And that was it. After all the booking and planning and fretting, then all the driving, performing, floors and couches we slept on, dry cereal we ate, Podcasts we listened to, and tons and tons of old and new friends we hung out with over these past 2 months, we were done.

To celebrate the completion, Eric and I along with Andy headed to Elizabethtown to meet up at Journey’s place and have a long anticipated Jesus Feast (wine, cheese, olives, you know the deal). It was a great end to our great tour. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much to everyone who came out to our shows. You really have no idea just how special that simple act is to us. You are the reason we are able to keep doing this. Thank you. Also, tell your friends. Ciao.

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You know, it actually wasn’t that bad. It was, however, the first time Pocket Vinyl had a really bad show where there were also a ton of people in the audience. Here’s what went down:

Eric and I actually had a show at the venue (30 Something in Altoona, PA) during the week after Thanksgiving. But, because of the issues with our cat Sister, we had to cancel it. The guy who runs 30 Something though was really interested in working with us, and suggested that we reschedule our show to December 16th. It was the same night as a Christmas party that he was catering to a large group of doctors etc. A couple hundred people with lots of money. The owner was very convinced that we’d do extremely well, and his excitement about this gig started rubbing off on us as soon as we showed up to the venue.

Now, a live karaoke band would be playing later that night (I’ve never even heard of such a thing!) and since they were occupying the stage, we decided to set up in the middle of the dance floor. We like be closer to the audience, giving off a more intimate feel, etc… For the hour or so before our set they were having an awful time with sound: there seemed to be a loud and painful static running through everything, and the sound guy couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

Well, we started at about 7:00 and immediately realized that this gig was not as awesome as we’d been hoping… No one was paying even a little bit of attention, and instead everyone seemed to increase the volume of their own talking to try to drown Eric out. Worst part was, midway through 4 Legs Good, 2 Legs Better, the very first song of the set, a woman came hovering over Eric’s shoulder. Distracted he stopped to look at her and she actually asked him to turn the music down! Really? Really…? Someone is performing for you, for free, and you feel the entitlement to actually come tell him to turn it down? Of course, Eric didn’t have that power, so into the mic he got the sound guy’s attention and passed along the rude little message. Eric continued playing while I continued painting, but as a few more songs went by, Eric noticed that the piano and mic kept getting quieter and quieter, and looking across the hall he kept seeing people complaining to the sound guy to turn us down.

Eric stopped playing and looking at me, asked if we should just stop, since no one was listening. I only had half a painting done, and we agreed to play this entire show, so I told him that I wasn’t going to give up. Eric went into Sunday Best and changed all the lyrics so that they commented on the rudeness of the people at this show and how no one could hear him anyways. It was pretty funny.

Midway through another song one of the servers came up and interrupted Eric again (really? Do you just have such little respect for people other then yourself? You can’t wait until the 3 minute song is done? Come on.) and asked him to announce people could start lining up for food. Frustrated, Eric asked if she just wanted him to stop playing. She laughed and said “Of course not!” Shesh, people.

Well, everyone lined up for their food barely 3 feet away from where we were performing, and a couple of them started taking photos of me with their cell phones. I was getting so annoyed that I was tempted to whip around and start yelling obscenities at them for how disrespectful they were acting. Seriously, it blew my mind. Eric finished up playing the while 40 minute set with some instrumental stuff that only I could hear. When he finished with I Hear Colors I looked over at him and we both knew we were done. Eric hadn’t even had a chance to announce that the painting was up for silent auction, so we decided to give it to Ashley, our good friend Henry’s fiancée and the one we were staying with that night.

We quickly packed up and said goodbye to the owner, who had been too busy mixing drinks behind one of the bars to even realize what was going on with our set. When we filled him in he apologized. It was no one’s fault, just really crappy situations. We didn’t make a cent on the whole night. That was the first time that had happened.

Ashley and Henry had actually invited a handful of their friends to the show, who were all very sympathetic and apologized for the bad reception we’d received in their town. They all helped us pack up our stuff in one quick swoop; we wan ted to get out of their as quickly as possible. Then they all took us out to a different bar a little ways away. We actually ended up having a pretty decent night, once we got the crappiness out of our systems and were able to enjoy hanging out with some old friends and make some new friends. Everyone was really awesome and welcoming to us, it was really great. And although I don’t actually have any photos from this horrid show, I do have some from when things started looking up:

Henry actually plays drums on Pocket Vinyl’s albums, and was part of the band back when they were known as the Series.

And even after the bar, Henry, Eric, Ashley and I all headed back to Ashley’s place and hung out late. It was a pretty awesome time of talking and catching up. I’d never really spent much time with Ashley before, so that was really nice. Eric at Ashley’s:

The next morning they made us breakfast, and we watched the first episode of Band of Brothers, and hung out and talked more. As long as you could try to forget about the crappy show, the visit itself was really quite awesome! And here’s the painting that came out of that show, that we gave to Ashley:

And all of us:

 

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Pocket Vinyl was scheduled to do a radio interview today, but it’s going to have to be rescheduled. So instead, I’m going to wish you all a very Merry Christmas through photos of some of the festive cookies I made this year! (Confession: I got inspired by my very creative ex-roomie, Journey Osburn, who decorates fancy cakes for her job(s)!)

If I could, I’d make cookies for every one of you. Cheers!

Iced gingerbread houses:

Iced gingerbread people:

More iced gingerbread:

Spiced sugar cookies with icing:

Spiced sugar hearts with icing:

Spiced sugar cookies with sprinkles:

Shortbread with cranberries:

Mint candy canes (my brother Nick actually asked me to make these! He said they make him feel like it’s Christmas):

Peanut butter, mint, and regular ganache:

So chocolaty…

Christmas plate!

And finally, my husband with a “doctor-house cookie”. Hahaha!

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