i am creating the life i love.

solstice. June 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 12:57 am

It’s been a trying week. Emotions have gone up and down and I’ve been living moment to moment because full days feel too overwhelming sometimes. But it is the solstice. It is my favorite day of the year other than the Fourth of July (which I love love love because of the fireworks). And even though simple tasks have lately seemed at times daunting and unbearable, I wanted to do SOMETHING. I’m having a hard time finding joy in anything, so I thought maybe I’d start small. Like taking a trip to the beach. Happy Summer Solstice, everyone.



terrarium. June 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 2:19 am

I love plants. I wish I could fill my entire apartment with plants. Unfortunately, I have cats. And we all know a jerk cat who likes to eat plants. But I found a way around that. It ended up being a super quick and fun project for an evening on the porch. The weather tonight was absolutely perfect and it was just lovely to sit outside as the sun went down and enjoy the warm air and nighttime songbirds.


in which i explain how cupcakes heal me. October 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 12:50 am

I sometimes get pretty depressed. Not in an ordinary way, where you’ll have a bad day and get upset for a bit. I get really, really depressed. The kind of depressed that effects my life in pretty harsh ways. I have bipolar I disorder. It’s something I’ve come to grudgingly deal with. After years of trying to ignore it, hide from it, or talk myself out of it, I’ve accepted that this is something I’m going to have to deal with my entire life. I know a few other people with bipolar disorder and we all deal with it in different ways. Some write, some meditate, some sleep it out and, unfortunately, some let it consume them and turn to drugs and alcohol to fix it.


I bake cupcakes.

This may sound like a silly thing to do. A simple thing that couldn’t possibly fix a problem so massive. But it does.

I am jealous of people who are effortlessly happy. I’m like that sometimes, but not as much as I’d like to be. I have to pursue happiness and make it happen. And I’ve learned from experience that if I am in a downswing and I pursue something big and it doesn’t work out, it can be soul-crushing. So I pursue small pleasures. I keep my hands busy. I keep my mind busy so it can’t think about how unhappy it could be.

I bake things.

And I listen to James Taylor.

And I sing. Loudly. Carolina On My Mind is a favorite.

Usually at first I hate doing these things. I don’t reallywant to be baking. Or singing. But I must, because it beats the alternative of sitting in the middle of the floor in my apartment, crying.

You can’t even imagine how happy I was when I found this recipethat instructs how to make JUST TWO CUPCAKES. It is pretty amazing stuff. Because if I make a dozen cupcakes, I am eating a dozen cupcakes. But two? I can handle two.

I did alter the recipe slightly and substituted some of the vanilla for mint extract so I could have minty cupcakes. I then topped them off with some vanilla frosting, peppermint sprinkles and fresh mint from my yard, which I promptly tore off after taking this picture so I could eat the cupcakes foliage-free.

And what else goes well with cupcakes on a beautiful fall evening? Hot chocolate with marshmallows, of course.

Someone wants a cupcake.

And now I will spend my evening indulging in small pleasures. I will finish these wonderful cupcakes, I will drink this delicious hot chocolate, I will cuddle under a blanket and watch Dr. Who until I fall asleep on my couch.

Because these small things beat the alternative. And I will not let this beat me.


sensory overload. September 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 5:45 pm

Sometimes I get to thinking too much about things. One of the things I think about a lot is Nate Miller. It’s not that I go out of my way to think about him–it’s just that I spent a few formative years with him and a lot of the things I love and that define who I am are a result of his presence in my life. Because of that, I am often reminded of him when I hear certain songs, see certain things or do certain activities.

I was thinking of him a lot at the end of last month, as I always do around his birthday. And I had fun on facebook posting my favorite Nate memories. Like the time he grabbed my butt in a dark photo processing closet. Or the time we spoke only in haiku for an entire day. Or the time he tried to cross a river by shimmying along a tree branch and fell in. In January. And had to walk a mile back to the car through the snow with soaked clothes. Or the time a hobo stopped us on the street and asked if we were in love and then recited a poem to us that he had written.

I remember the bad parts, too…it’s not always happy memories. All the fights we had. His jealous streak that prevented me from hanging out with guy friends if he wasn’t around. His stubbornness. My stubbornness. Our breakup. Our final conversation.

I guess what I am getting at is that there is a constant stream of memories attached to him floating through my head. Usually they are very vague. Recently, though, I was looking through old pictures I found on an unmarked cd in a shoebox. There is a picture of Nate and Joe Ozinga on it. I don’t know who took the picture or why I have it, but it had a weird effect on me. I looked at that picture and in an instant so many things came flooding back. I could hear his voice clearly in my head. I could remember the way he smelled, what it felt like to hug him, how soft his hair was, how scratchy his beard felt. I remembered the callouses on his fingers and heard his laugh and remembered all the times he played the guitar while I sat nearby silently and drew pictures. I remembered things about him I had forgotten. I don’t know why this picture did it for me, but it was a total sensory overload.

My dad died shortly after Nate did, and even though it might sound awful, Nate’s death affected me far more. Maybe it was because I wasn’t close to my dad before he died. But I think it’s because my dad was sick for a long time and I was expecting it to happen. Nate’s death was so sudden and so tragically violent that I wasn’t able to process it. It hit so close to home and didn’t make sense to me at all. Our last conversation was rushed because I was trying to get out the door to go somewhere, so I hurried him off the phone. I still haven’t fully forgiven myself for that and I think that’s why I still think about it so much. At the time I didn’t understand that he was saying goodbye.

Anyway, over the years it’s given me a lot to think about. It makes me rethink the way I handle my friendships and relationships. How I need to make time for people I care about. How I need to not take anyone for granted. Nate was better to me than I was able to realize at the time, and I know I wasn’t the best girlfriend. I can only try to be better and love others the way they deserve to be loved. I need to be a good friend and show the people who are important to me that they mean so much. I plan on doing that. I plan on taking these memories and putting them to good use by making my life worthwhile and happy. And the next time I find myself in love with someone, I will let them know how important they are. I didn’t do that enough last time.

The picture in question, by the way :)


the birth of a horrible. July 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 3:20 am

That creating thing I talked about? I’m doing it. A little. I’m toying around with new Horrible ideas so I decided to make a mock-up of a new design. That basically means that I make a small version of something while planning out what it’s going to be like when it’s much bigger. So, just for you, is a rundown on how it’s done…

The first thing to do is pull out your broken-down laptop that your dog ruined and turn on some music or podcasts of Ira Glass telling stories.

Then pull out the sketchbook of various ideas and figure out what you’re going to do…

I ended up using an idea I’ve been floating around for a while. I’m still not sure how I want it to turn out in the end.

Next, you need to figure out how to get your fat cat off of all of the materials you need at that moment.

Then spend some time playing around with the fabric because it is super soft and wonderful. Pretend you are a bear.

This picture doesn’t really serve any purpose but Linus was making biscuits on the fabric and I didn’t realize until after I took the picture that my dog is in the background looking like something out of my worst nightmares.

After randomly cutting your expensive fabric and putting in eyes and sewing on a mouth, pin it together and take it over to your embarrassingly messy sewing space.

The only calm part of this process is sewing it shut. There is something very relaxing about hand sewing. I love it.

Finish it up!! And make sure it doesn’t eat you…


changes. July 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 2:31 am

So. I haven’t updated this for a while. I haven’t forgotten it, but things have been changing all at once and I am dealing with it privately, and not always in a great way. And I told myself this would be more about creating things and experiencing good and not about my personal life. But life IS personal, so I guess I can get away with writing about it a little bit.

While I was in college I spent a ridiculous amount of time sitting by the creek, reading books and drawing and thinking too much about everything. And even though my insides were often in turmoil (oh, the drama of being a young lady!) I was told by someone that when I create I become “curiously tranquil” and seemed happy almost the instant I started working on something.

I have not been creating as often as I’d like. I have so many ideas but no time. Or motivation. In the last couple of months I had a relationship end. It was so hard to experience. This was someone I saw myself marrying and spending my old days alongside. It was someone who made me cry a lot but who made me smile a lot more. Someone who shared my political ideals (liberal) and religious ideals (none). Someone who was himself creative and funny and interesting and ridiculously intelligent. We planned adventures together and spent many evenings in silence, reading and enjoying the others’ presence. And me, a girl who for years insisted that she would never be monogamous, never be tied down to one person, would never let a man influence her decisions, fell head-over-heels in love with someone who didn’t love her back very much. So it was hard to see it end, knowing that there was not a thing I could do to save it. And for a while there was a huge empty space in my life that I didn’t want to fill because I was afraid I would forget him.

Things are a little different now. I’ve had a chance to be alone and sleep alone and make every decision for myself. It’s quite nice sometimes. Sometimes it’s sad because I have to laugh at funny animal videos by myself and baking for one person is sort of dangerous, calorie-wise, but for the most part it’s okay. I’ve spent a lot of time with new and old friends, sprawled out in bed while using up all four pillows simultaneously, gone for solo bike rides in the early hours of morning and beautiful warm evenings, eaten entirely too much bacon and still somehow lost 10 pounds. And now I’m ready to go back to creating.

I used to feel that creating something was only important if you had someone to share it with. And I’ll admit that it is hard not having a cheering squad around when I have a fantastic new idea or a great new monster completed. But it’s also nice to make things just to make them. Creating is something I have to do. It’s not an option. It needs to fit into my schedule. And it doesn’t matter if it is sewing, painting, drawing, baking, sculpting, taking photographs or giving my dog a new hairstyle…it needs to be done for me to be happy.

I want to be that girl from years ago who would sit by the creek and create for the sake of beauty. Not to impress anyone and not to make a profit–just creating something just because. I remember once in Brevard collecting thousands of cherry blossoms in a basket and then carrying them up to the top of a windy hill and watching them fly. There was no one around to witness it but me but it was one of the most fantastic and gorgeous things I have ever seen. I think it will do me good to get out by myself and fly kites and hula hoop and collect wildflowers and take naps in the grass. I don’t need to be with anyone else to love these things. I didn’t before. And if someone comes along and loves the idea of taking a nap in the grass alongside me, great. But until then, I’m okay with doing it on my own.


i made some things. May 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mandy @ 8:58 pm

I had a sudden burst of energy this afternoon and decided to use it up by sewing. And knowing that once I put something down and walk away from it, I will usually not go back to it for a very, very long time made me start and finish this in one go.

I started with this, a large men’s shirt I got from the thrift store:

I took it in at the sides and ruffled the leftover fabric. Making ruffles is so much fun. I don’t want to spend the money on a ruffler so I just switch some settings on my machine. When the fabric goes in it gets sucked together into ruffles!!

This is the finished product. I was originally going to shorten it but I decided to leave it as is and put a belt around it (another awesome thrift store find!) so it’s tunic-length.

A close-up of the collar area.

I cut off the cuffs and attached them to the shortened sleeves.

I plan on wearing it tomorrow when I visit the observation deck of the Terminal Tower. I’ll take action pictures then!

On the topic of newly-made things, I finished this a few days ago. I needed a place to put my jewelry since it was all mingling and getting tangled in a box. It’s all out in the open so I can see all of my options at once. And it matches my bedroom scheme, which is yellow and white with some black.

No more tangled necklaces!!

Earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces in one place, finally.

And bonus picture of a happy dog!!