Something peculiar happened the other night. I awoke in the wee hours of the morning to a faint pitter-patter on the other side of our bedroom. I sat up slowly, held my breath, and listened intently. Celia poked her head out from under the covers and watched curiously as I cocked my head to the side. Is it a tapping? No… maybe more like a crackling? I pulled back the covers and crept across the room. As my eyes adjusted, I noticed our new dream catcher fluttering against the wall, its feathers pirouetting and pas jetéing, like tiny ballerinas. I scratched my head for a moment and looked around. Is there a draft in here?… I shrugged it off, crept back to bed, and buried my face under the covers. As I drifted back to sleep, I imagined the feathers wearing tutus and dancing to Swan Lake.
When I awoke the next morning, I recalled another dream. I was at a cocktail bar having a glass of wine with Bruce Willis and my good friend Melanie. Bruce leaned over the table, reached into my hair, and lifted out a dark strand. “I just love these low-lights. They give your hair so much dimension!” Melanie joined in, “It’s like a decadent river of chocolate running through a field of wheat!”. I rose from bed feeling positively bouncy and unusually optimistic about my hair. I dare say the universe was attempting to send me another dream about my teeth falling out that night, but thanks to my new dream catcher, it died hard (like a vengeance).
A little bit about dream catchers: Native Americans believe the night air is filled with dreams, both good and bad. The dream catcher catches the dreams as they flow by. Only good dreams can pass through while bad dreams are caught in the webbing and perish when the sun rises.
And now! The part where I show you how to make your own Die Hard Dream Catcher™
First: Gather supplies.
- A wooden embroidery hoop (I used a 14 inch hoop, but any size will do)
- A stick from your yard, at least one inch wider than your hoop
- 30-40 Feathers (I used artificial feathers from JoAnn Fabrics)
- Suede cord
- String/twine (similar thickness to bakers twine)
- Optional: craft paint, for painting the ends of your feathers. I used metallic gold and robins egg for a little extra glamourtimez.
1. Begin by wrapping the suede cord all around the hoop. This takes a while. I recommend putting on some music or a movie to help pass the time. I listened to this podcast from This American Life in which they discuss seven boring topics to avoid at dinner parties. Ironically, one of these topics is how you slept, and/or your dreams. Apparently people find these topics uninteresting. IS ANYBODY STILL HERE?
2. Once your hoop is completely wrapped in suede cord, attach the stick to the hoop with twine.
3. Tie individual strands of twine (aprox 30 inches long) to the branch, about 1/2 inch apart from each other. I tied 17 strands of twine to my branch (you may need less if you use a smaller hoop). Do the same for the bottom half of the hoop.
4. Wrap the bottom of each strand around the stem of a feather and tie in a knot. I chose to trim my strands of twine into an inverted triangle shape (see below), but you can do whatever your heart desires! Be creative.
Hang the dream catcher near your bed, or your favorite napping place.
Enjoy blissful dreams for all of eternity.
The incredibly nice folks at West Elm invited me to share some before and after photos of my breakfast nook on their blog, Front & Main. I’ve been following Front & Main for a while now (they share recipes, tips for entertaining, and design inspiration – it’s really a great blog) so I was more than delighted to be asked. Eleanor insisted on making an appearance too, of course. What a diva.
If you have a moment, take a look! Man, the before photos of this house will never cease to make me cringe.
A portrait of my great grandparents (on the left) at a family wedding in the late 1920′s.
I’m really excited to be part of a show called Portrait of a Secret, which takes place at The Scarab Club on Tuesday, February 25th.
Literary Detroit and The Scarab Club have been collecting family secrets through an anonymous online form and sharing them with artists, including myself, who have selected some of them as inspiration for an original work of art. These art pieces, as well as the written family secrets, will be shared at the event.
This event is inspired by Post Secret which is an ongoing community mail art project, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard. Select secrets are then posted on their website, used for Post Secret’s books, or art exhibits. Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams.
While researching this show, I fell down a rabbit hole of Post Secret archives, so I thought I’d share a few of the images with you. Some are amusing, some are disturbing, all are veritable statements on the human condition.
The evening will also include a discussion of the book Annie’s Ghosts. Described as part memoir, part detective story, and part history, Annie’s Ghost’s tells of Steve Luxenberg’s investigation into his “secret aunt” who was confined to the Eloise Mental Hospital in Wayne County for many years as her existence was kept from Luxenberg and his generation of the family.
Pivoting off the book, the evening will also include a talk by Mark Bowden, a genealogy expert from the Detroit Public Library’s Burton Collection, who will lead attendees through the process of uncovering stories from their own past.
I mentioned before that I inherited a bounty of family heirlooms after my great uncle passed away. One of the things we discovered in his house was an old trunk filled to the brim with very old family photos, including the one above. Many of the photographs date back to the 1800′s and although I can assume they are pictures of my family members, I don’t know many of their names. I’m interested to hear Mark Bowden speak and hope to gain some new tools for tracing my family’s past.
I’m so excited to hear all the family secrets and to see the artwork they inspired! It should be a fun night.
If you’re interested in reading the book, copies of Annie’s Ghosts are available locally at Source Booksellers, 4240 Cass Avenue, Ste 105, Detroit, MI 48201 and will also be available for purchase the night of the event.
I hope to see you all there!
Growing up, we had a lot of pets. Not in a creepy animal hoarder way, but always a dog, a few indoor/outdoor cats, and usually a small creature like a hamster, rabbit, or fish. When a pet died, it was buried in our backyard with a proper funeral, and almost immediately replaced. Sometimes I’d find a stray cat and coax it home, sometimes my dad would show up after work with a new dog. My parents liked animals and all, but I can only assume they tolerated running a home for wayward pets because I loved those goddamn animals so much. Loved is probably an understatement. I’ve always been acutely aware that I need them more than they need me.
1980 – “holding” my first cat who we found in a tree.
Although I grew up in the heart of suburbia (30 minutes North of Detroit), our street, and the few streets surrounding it, somehow evaded development until the early nineties. Our tiny piece of town was a rural oasis tucked inside the neighboring suburban sprawl. Our street was narrow, barely paved, and covered in a layer of gravel. My mom & dad’s house, which they still live in, is very old (the title of the home literally states “old” as the date built). Instead of a garage, we had a dirt floor barn and attached to the back of our house was a pump house, which until the early 90′s, was used to supply our well water. Our yard, which contained several apple trees, two cherry trees, a pear tree, and a plumb tree, was surrounded by woods and farmland. My parents allowed a family of farmers, who lived a few doors down, to grow crops on an acre of our land in exchange for free fruits and vegetables. Once a week my mom and I pulled my little red wagon down to their farmhouse, and filled it with tomatoes, corn, lettuce, strawberries, and peppers from their produce stands. In the summer, if I craved a snack, I would run out to the field and pluck a green pepper from the ground or a pear from one of the fruit trees. In the fall, I’d pick my own pumpkins right from the patch just beyond our backyard. Not a dollar was ever exchanged between our families. It was all very Ann of Green Gables and back then I had no appreciation for how enchanting it all was.
The majority of my friends lived in the neighborhood across town, which seemed like a world away. With no sidewalks, no kids, no siblings, and no parks nearby, my pets, and any creatures within a square mile of our house, became my playmates. I often dragged a little wooden chair to a clearing in the woods just beyond our backyard. I would sit and read books aloud to the birds, the squirrels, and my cats. Every Spring, for a stretch of four or five years, one of my outdoor cats gave birth to a litter of kittens, and so would begin a new semester of Tracey’s School for Kittens. I’d teach them how to eat solid food, climb stairs, and use the litter box. They’d all sleep in my bed every night until they were old enough to be re-homed. When I was 7 years old, I got my first camera – a Kodak Ektralite 10. I followed the cats all through the house and neighborhood, shot countless pictures, and mailed all the doubles to my grandmother. She’d reply a few days later with an envelope filled to the brim with pictures of her cats. I realize this probably sounds like a terribly lonely and feral childhood, but it wasn’t. I loved my feline companions, and they loved me back.
A few of my cats, photographed by me, in the 80′s.
So yeah. All of this to say I LIKE CATS. And dogs, and birds, and forest animals, and well, people too, but maybe I like cats the most? Question mark?
A while back, I posted a throwback photo of myself on Instagram & Facebook wearing this shredded cat t-shirt.
That shirt elicited a bunch of enthusiastic comments, because apparently it was quite popular back in the 80′s. To celebrate my love for you (and cats) (and the 80′s) I thought I’d create a free download so you can make your very own adult sized shredded cat tee! CAT LOVERS UNITE!
A plain white t-shirt, iron-on inkjet transfer paper, scissors, iron, inkjet printer.
If your shirt is wrinkly, give it a good ironing so you have a smooth surface to work with.
Download the cat image here. Right click on the image and choose “save image as” to save it to your computer. Print the image at it’s full size onto 8.5 by 11 iron-on transfer paper. Be sure to follow the print instructions included with the paper – it will explain how to create a mirror image in your print dialogue box.
Cut out the printed image leaving a 1/4 inch border all around.
Place the printed image face down onto the front of the shirt. Make sure it’s centered.
Iron the printed image according to the instructions included with the paper. The paper I used called for two minutes of even pressure at the highest cotton setting.
Once the paper has completely cooled, gently peel it away from the shirt.
Cut off the hems on each arm, the bottom of the shirt, and the neckline as shown below. I like my shirts to have a bit of a scoop neckline, but that’s just my preference.
Make a series of vertical cuts up each of the arms. I made mine about a third of an inch thick, but you don’t have to be super accurate with this. Then, make a series of vertical cuts from the bottom of the shirt in an inverted triangle pattern (make sure to cut through both layers at the same time so the front and back are identical). Tug down on each strand to elongate them, which will make the edges of the fabric curl in.
Add a pair of saucy swants and you have a fierce ensemble. This outfit says you value comfort, but you’re not afraid to party. Meow.
What is it about the word MOIST that offends our delicate senses? Certainly you agree that many things in life are preferable when moist. Chocolate cake, Thanksgiving turkey, our eyeballs, the rainforest, Ryan Gosling.
So why are we so grossed out? Could it be the texture of the word? The way our lips pucker like a “real-doll” in that first syllable? MOY. Moyyyyyst. MOIST.
This is the worst blog post I’ve ever written.
Right, then. The winter from hell. I’m suffering through a terrible case of Seasonal Affective Disorder – S.A.D. (but true). Did you know the saddest day of the year was January 20th? I drove for 45 minutes, in the snow, during rush hour, to get two teeth filled on January 20th. So I concur, Wikipedia. I concur. Winter sucks the ever living soul out of me, and to add insult to injury, it takes whatever moisture it can find with it. If you’re like me and fed up with dry skin, itchy eyes, and static electrifying your loved ones, then you may appreciate some of these tips to add moisture back into the air.
Now, before you say “Hey Tracey, you beautiful creature – why don’t you just buy a humidifier?”, I’ll tell you why. Humidifiers can be great but ONLY IF you use them properly and are diligent in cleaning them. If you don’t, you’re doing more harm than good. I bought a humidifier a few years ago, and after three days of use, I had a sore throat and noticed a thin powdery residue on the surfaces in our house. After doing some research via the Environmental Protection Agency, I found that the residue is a byproduct of minerals found naturally in tap water. Ultrasonic and cool mist humidifiers disperse materials such as microorganisms, metals, molds, and pollutants into the air. Breathing in these materials can serve as an irritant that can cause bronchitis, aggravate asthma, and can be especially dangerous to people with respiratory allergies. Gross, right? To avoid exposure to these pollutants, it is recommended that you use distilled water (never tap water) in the tanks. It is also recommended that the tank be emptied and wiped dry DAILY before refilling. Additionally, the entire unit should be taken apart and thoroughly cleaned with a brush, removing any scale, deposits, or film that has developed on the sides of the tank or interior surfaces and all surfaces wiped dry every THREE DAYS. Um, yeah. That lasted for about a week before I kicked the humidifier to the curb.
Ten Ways to Naturally Combat Dry Air in Your Home:
1. Simmer a big pot of water on the stove for a few hours. Try adding a few lemon and orange slices, a dash of cloves, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. In addition to adding much needed moisture to the air, your house will smell SO GOOD for hours. Believe that. Don’t go too crazy on the cloves though. Those suckers are fragrant.
2. If you take baths, or give your kids baths, let the water sit for a while and cool completely in the tub afterwards, with the door open.
3. Turn off the exhaust vent and open the bathroom door while showering. Skip this one if you have roommates because that would probably be weird. Or maybe not? I don’t know your business.
4. After bathing, hang wet bath towels in the bedroom to dry.
5. Use drying racks to lay out your freshly washed clothes. You can also drape a dampened sheet across a drying rack in the bedroom at night.
6. Add plants to your home. Not only do plants add moisture to the air, but they also clean the air of pollutants. I keep a few plants scattered throughout the house, and always next to the bed.
7. Set out decorative bowls/vessels of water. Maybe add a drop or two of essential oil. Pick up some inexpensive flowers from the grocery store and drop them into vases of water.
8. Crack open a window for a few minutes every day. Although it feels dry outside, there is more moisture in the air outside than there is inside our homes. Cracking a window for a few minutes lets in moisture and cleans the air of pollutants.
9. Open your dishwasher after the cleaning cycle is done to release the steam and allow dishes to dry naturally.
10. Fill a spray bottle with water and mist the curtains in each room.
Now get to moisting! Moist. MOISSSSSST.