Category Archives: Nifty things

sunday crafternoon

On Sunday, I had a bunch of my local lady friends over for a “crafternoon.”  The intent was to give everyone a few hours to dedicate to a craft project of their choosing or to just learn something new.

As is my way, I was worried about how it would turn out, but it was great!  There was a good combination of people who just worked on their own thing, people who wanted to learn something new, and people who were both.

I had a few Smitten Kitchen nibbles prepared for the occasion.  Deb’s cheese straws get my highest encouraging recommendation for your next social occasion.

Here are some crafty visuals:

Painting wood cross-sections with chalkboard paint while wearing a necklace of felted wool beads.

Little blocks of paint and pages of text and collage-y bits culminating in adorable, whimsical little pieces of art.


Needle point.

Wrapping bangles with fabric.

I had been wanting to try out the felted beads for ages, so having an afternoon set aside for this express purpose was really satisfying.  And it’s just so much funner to try out new things with someone else, isn’t it?


Filed under Family, Friends and other Humans, Nifty things, Up to Stuff

I like you: Jenn Shifflet

Oakland has this thing, the first Friday of every month – a bunch of art galleries stay open from 6 to 9 pm, the main drag is closed to car traffic, a bunch of food venders set up booths, and all of the cool kids from 5 counties come swarming to cluster, smoke, and compare spectacles.

Even though this has been going on for almost 8 years, I’m about a decade too old and I have perfect vision, so I didn’t know about Oakland Art Murmur until just recently when I went to meet some friends there for the first time.

I wanted to escape the throngs almost as soon as I finished eating my street cart sausage, but am so glad we prevailed enough to push our way into the gallery displaying Jenn Shifflet‘s paintings, because I can’t stop thinking about them.

Falling into Place

I love the dreamy, ethereal quality of her work, and the way they feel like they could be a landscape from some faraway planet or an underwater depth.  Primordial ooze or the light and reflections of an otherworldly atmosphere. I love the fuzzy bokeh and the strange, sharply clear little details of plants or swirls of constellations or microorganisms.

And oh, do I love these colors.  These blues and greens speak the exact language of my little Maggie soul.

Wishing on the Wind

Dreaming in Turquoise



(Doesn’t this last one look like what Monet might have seen if he were holding his breath underwater looking up at his water lilies?)

I love that these paintings make me feel like closing my eyes to further bask in the soothing quiet, but that I need to keep them open to keep looking.

I love that Jenn was kind enough to share some of her images with me, so that I could write about and share them.

And I love that she’s making me think about something I like about being in my mid-thirties… being old enough to consider buying art that doesn’t get attached to the wall with tacks.


Filed under I like you, Nifty things

what boys like

I don’t do Black Friday.  Too wild and woolly for me.  But I have spent an inordinate amount of time in the past two days scouring gift guides, catalogs and websites in an online shopping fiesta.

I usually find shopping for guys to be a challenge.  They don’t seem to be as covetous of stuff as the ladies, unless they’ve got an itch for some $800 rucksack for extreme camping.  While I don’t scratch those  kind of itches, I think I’ve actually come up with a ton of great stuff this year.

Men folk in my life will be receiving some of this bounty come Christmas.  Have a gander…

For guys who can rock a good cardigan…

Osterley Fair Isle Cardigan - $169

For an elbow patch appreciator…

H&M elbow patch sweater - $29.95

For your favorite ninja…

Samurai Sword Handled Umbrella - $29.99

For your beer guy…

Brew Your Own Beer Kit - $38

For the guy with spirits…

Ice Melts. Whisky Rocks. - $20

For meat snacks on the go guy…

7 Flavors of Jerky - $33

For meat snacks at home guy…

2 gourmet salumi - $25

For the guys with shoes…

Benjo's colored shoe lacing - $6

For the goofy guy…

Animal Butt Magnets - $14

For the outdoorsy guy…

Classic Opinel Pocket Knife - $16

For the puzzled guy…

Metal disentanglement puzzles - $15

I haven’t gotten all my guys yet, though, so any finds that you’ve been partial to are most welcome!  What are you getting for your dads, brothers, husbands and various other flavors of man-friends?









Leave a comment

Filed under Nifty things, Shopping

tiny books

I haven’t used my proper camera in forever because I am well and truly addicted to Instagram.

My love for this free iPhone app is like a perfect little glowing ball of warm fuzzy.

So when I discovered Prinstagram and the printed products they create from Instagram photos, I knew a purchase was pending.

Of course I wanted the tiny books.  TINY!  BOOKS!  But you need to have 72 photos to get 3 tiny books with no repeated images and I had only just installed the app on my phone that week.

Truth be told, the whole reason I installed the app was because my own company was launching a new  photobook from Instagram photos.  I was being a good employee and checking out the product.  But our books were simply not as tiny.  And that is where my priorities lay.

Then one day, a few weeks later, I had my 72 photos.  And that is the day I gave Prinstagram my $10 to give me my tiny books.

They took ages to get here.  They had to walk here all the way from Taiwan apparently.

But get here they did and boy.  Are they.  TINY.  !!!




And also?  Also!  They are magnetic.  So you can take your wondering about what the heck I’m going to do with ridiculously small books filled with faux vintage camera phone pictures, write them down on a slip of paper, and I will magnetify that note to the nearest steel or iron surface with my tiny book.


Filed under Nifty things

write you a letter



I just learned about a year long challenge to send out one card or letter, once a week, starting on October 9, 2011 and ending on October 7, 2012.

October 9 is apparently World Post Day.  Hooray for mail!

It’s also a Sunday, so we can’t actually make use of the post on the actual day of celebration.


Anyway, starting today then!  A Monday and a day in which the postal service is in full swing!

It’s 52 Weeks of Mail!
I like the interwebs as much as the next gal.  But I’ve also got a big love for paper products and ho-boy, do I love mail.  I always participated in those wacky chain letters I’m sure everyone got in our younger days.  I even sent some stranger a new pair of underwear in the mail once because of a chain letter.  I think I even got a few sent to me, as well, but not the 583 pairs I was promised for participating.

I don’t send people panties so much anymore, but I sure do like sending mail.  I’ve got a handy stack of cards at my desk at work (where my job is not related to sending letters in any capacity) just in case I have a correspondence emergency.

handy stack

So, Etsy Greetings Team, I accept your challenge!  I will send mail!

However, I do snort at you ever so politely.  You are a group of people selling cards, issuing a challenge for people to send more cards.  It’s a wee bit self serving, no?

But whatever.  We all must serve the selfs and cards are nice.  Good luck to you and to anyone else who decides to take the challenge, as well!



Leave a comment

Filed under Nifty things

Just like I imagined, but better

It was my birthday on Saturday.

Some people came to the gathering I organized. And some of those people gave me presents.

One of those people is my friend Ali*.

She gave me a little brown box that had a note reading “Hopefully this is just like you imagined…”


Inside was a little golden box.

Did I imagine a little golden box? “I don’t get it.”

Ali is looking like she is about to burst with the glee from a million baby bunnies bippity-hopping around in her head. “You have to open it!”


Inside is a big round locket with a peacock pattern on the front.

Now, I do like lockets. And this locket is pretty crazy, in a cool way. But I am almost certain that I have never articulated a vision of a big brassy locket with a peacock feather pattern on it. Like 97% certain.

I look at Ali.

“Maggie! Open it!”

So I open it. And inside, there is a picture of Ali and her husband, Cooper. But not just any picture. It’s one of their Christmas photo pictures. The one in which they’ve dressed up as Wisconsonian nerds from the 70’s.

It is a photo that I love and a photo that I did declare I’d love to have in a locket. Although I only remember saying that with 7% certainty. But it sounds like something I would say, and now that I have a locket with this photo in it, I am certain that I really would like to have this photo in a locket.

And I was absolutely gobsmacked with astonishment. This little delightful treasure! This nugget of ridiculous creativity and bizarro weird humor! It is mine!

*This is to be pronounced like Alley Cat and not like Muhammad Ali.

Leave a comment

Filed under Nifty things

I craft!

20110712-024205.jpgMy friend Nina had a wrap bracelet.  I coveted it.

Then I saw some lovely ones in a shop in Hawaii.  My coveting went up a notch.  But not $170 worth of covet.

Maggie Makes made one.

And I decided that I would do it.  Despite my utter lack of crafting experience or know-how.

I summoned the craftiest lady I know.  We went to a bead store and agonized over the weird selection of largely cat-lady flavored geegunk.  They didn’t have the little metal beads we wanted, so we settled on semi-precious stones.  Then, we read some instructions and just had at it.

And I’m totally pleased with the result!  I ordered some more beads online and I think I will make another one!


Filed under Nifty things

up my alley


the quality mending co bowling bag

Totally impractical.  Definitely couldn’t fit a novel and my lunch.

But I have a funny feeling inside that maybe I love this bag.


Leave a comment

Filed under Nifty things


I love this poster of bracket-mustaches in different typefaces.

Leave a comment

Filed under Nifty things

I want to be a shoe fairy

I am supposed to be not spending any money.  Not any!  Like literally spending $0 per day except for the days that I have to pay bills.  Which means that I would really like to eat cookies on an awful lot of days, but that I don’t.

And yet.

I bought a very wee little pair of shoes.  I became a bit enchanted with the idea of giving niece Elizabeth a new pair of shoes for each of her birthdays, as I had given her a very cute pair of shoes when she was born.  So charming did I find this idea that I was… well, typical, and I just went and bought some shoes.  Although they didn’t cost dollars, they cost Great! British! Pounds! so I don’t really know how much money I spent.  And that’s almost like spending no money at all!

But still.  Little girl baby shoes.  My regret is minimal.

Fuschia shoo shoos

Leave a comment

Filed under Nifty things