As a little Jewish girl, there was nothing I loved more about the holidays than seeing suburban houses done up in Christmas lights. Which home would be the most elaborate? Which block would most clearly cry, "We are so awesome, we need to light up the neighborhood with our macho reindeer?" One particularly tasteful house near where I grew up in Philadelphia always sported four -- count 'em, four -- separate nativity scenes. I barely knew what the heck one nativity scene was at the time. Oh, and they had a whole army of those blow up Santas.
Not that I'm all grown up, I don't live in suburbia anymore, but I'm still a sucker for Christmas decorations. I love walking down the street here in San Fran, spotting which houses -- presumably inhabited by decoration-loving hipsters such as myself -- go all out for the holidays. I especially get a kick out of seeing people's Xmas trees through their living rooms windows. It's just so darn quaint. Also it's really, really shiny, and apparently I'm attracted to shiny objects.
Here then is a collection of some of my favorite Christmas decoration creative commons shots from Flickr, which should give us all some inspiration for how to be ridiculously shiny this holiday season. If these photos don't make you happy it's December... Well then, good ma'am, you have no soul:
I'm not a musical person, but I do like vegetables, and I am easily impressed. Thus my indescribable awe at the phenomenon that is vegetable instruments. My hour-long obsession started when I saw these photos of a veggie music making workshop held recently at The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Do you see those zucchinis strung together to make a didgeridoo? Do you see them?
Then I came across these even more impressive videos of people playing their vegetable instruments. In the first a man turns a carrot into a clarinet. In the second, an entire group of people go produce shopping, and eventually form a vegetable orchestra. Granted, their music doesn't sound super amazing -- but vegetables! The next time I'm in the supermarket I'm going to be standing in the veggie aisle, holding up items, thinking, "Could I drill a bunch of holes into you and play you like a flute?" It may confuse the other shoppers, but it's all in the name of music.
This week "OMG You Made That?" gets weird and Christmas-y all at the same time. We're directing your attention to a slideshow running over at our sister site (okay, it might be like a cousin site) SFWeekly.com, which brings you the highlights of a recent, off-center, and otherwise super cool craft event that happened this weekend in my own San Francisco. From editor/photographer Janine:
Sunday's Bazaar Bizarre at Golden Gate Park's County Fair Building provided a great opportunity for one to pick up one-of-a-kind presents for those hard-to-buy-fors on the list. (Meat earrings for that carnivore in your life, anyone?) We loved a lot of the homemade offerings, but since December is minutes away, here are the 10 Christmas-themed decors we liked best (with links, in case you missed out).
What I like about the items featured: they're both totally weird and totally cute. You probably couldn't buy them for your grandma, but you so could buy them for me... hint, hint. Here are some of my favorites:
Fuzzy robot Christmas tree ornaments Sweet meat plushies
A few weeks back, "OMG You Made That?" asked you, the reader, what kind of awesome stuff you make? Reader Lauren, who is apparently awesome, told us she makes soap and sells it on Etsy. Lauren's soap is all handmade and wrapped for fancy present-giving. She writes on her Etsy page, "I'm a pampering addict, and I have been obsessed with bath time since I was a little girl. Soap and spa products are my passion." Check out what she can do:
A lot of Lauren's soaps have food themes, which makes them only more awesome. In addition to the sudsy cupcakes you see above, there are gorgeous candy cane soaps, wasabi soaps, even beer soaps. I wouldn't know whether to wash with them or bite them, but either way, Lauren, I'm damn impressed. You're an example to all us would-be creative dolls -- myself included.
Making the rounds at feminist blogs today are these cookie cutters shaped like fetuses. Some say they're repulsive and inappropriate. Others say they just make the perfect addition to a baby shower. Either way, it is pretty strange to sit down and eat a baby. It makes the age old cookie question -- do I eat the head of the animal cracker first, or make it suffer by eating its backside -- all the more poignant. Personally, I'm thinking as long as these aren't served at any pro-choice rallies, the world is probably fine.
However, fetus cookies got me thinking: there must be tons of inappropriate cookie cutters out there, just waiting to be turned into treats that will horrify your friends and family this holiday season, right? Right, says Craftzine.com, where you can learn to make your own cookie cutters. It's possible I'm the only one in the world psyched about this, but how cool! The example they give is us of a camel, but forget that. Camel cookie cutters already exist. I want squid cookie cutters. Or mutilated war hero cookie cutters. Or even organ cookie cutters. Yes, I want to make a spleen cookie. It will be delicious. You could make one, too!
Sigh. Yes, today is a day of nostalgia, a day when we look back at "OMG You Made That?"s of yore. Remember deviant My Little Ponies? What about awesome monster hats? Or who could forget this delicious Guitar Hero cake? Ah, the craftsy, pro-sewing, baking-loving memories. Why am I so nostalgic? Because today, dolls, "OMG You Made That?" grows up and goes off on its own. Today I want to hear about things that have been made by you.
I know you're secretly craftsy. Don't be afraid to share. Maybe you've baked fondue inside a pumpkin. Maybe you make awesome, colorful clothes. Ooh, or maybe you're the founder of a cool new website. Whatever it is you do, I want to hear about it. If you've got pictures, that's even better. Wait, you mean you can crochet, bake cupcakes, and paint portraits all at the same time? I am preparing to be impressed...
This week "OMG You Made That?" turns narcissistic, because it's about something I made. Yes, me. And it was awesome. Specifically, I made baked fondue inside a pumpkin. See that photo from Gourment magazine -- the one where it looks puffy and cheesy and delicious? It actually came out looking just like that. I am clearly proud.
This is a great recipe for the combination of two things that are bound to be true for you this week 1) you have a mid-sized pumpkin you bought in the spirit of autumn festivities but don't quite know what to do with and 2) you're going to a Halloween party and/or get together and you don't know what to bring. That's exactly what happened to me last Friday, which is why it rocked that I found this Roast Pumpkin with Cheese "Fondue" recipe in this month's Gourmet. Normally my cooking is limited to throwing some tofu on a skillet and hoping for the best, but the only weird things this recipe required were a pumpkin (which I had) and a couple hunks of fancy cheese. Done.
If you, like me, have instantly fallen in love with the idea of using a pumpkin -- a pumpkin! -- as a fondue pot, here are a couple things to know before you run off and try this in a friend's kitchen. 1) The recipe calls for way more cheese than you can stuff in a would-be jack-o-lantern. What to do? Make a batch of normal fondue using a double boiler while you wait for the pumpkin to bake. 2) You won't be able to just dip bread into the pumpkin, since part of the idea is to scrape off its pumpkin-y insides. 3) Everybody loves it. First they're just intrigued that you're filling a pumpkin with cheese. Later, when it's ready, they all gather around and say how bizarrely delicious it is.
Go on, try it yourself, Halloween chefs. If I can make it, any doll can!
As you may have noticed, dolls, my list from last Tuesday calling for a Digg for girls got quite a response from readers who agree there should be a girls' club to rival the Digg boys' club. Along with those comments, I did get two suggestions for websites people like you and me, who are pining for a girlie Digg, have actually gone out and made. That's why this week's "OMG You Made That?" is dedicated to the designers, coders, and all around web-savvy people who actually got off their butts and implemented their ideas instead of just writing lists about them. So, without further ado, we've got:
1. Kirtsy.com. Readers had a lot of good things to say about Kirtsy in the comments. Like Digg, it's the kind of site you submit news and then vote up your favorite links. Just to indicate the girlie nature of the site, the current top stories are "Ok, cupcakes, where is your Diva?!" and "Empowering Women with Breast Cancer." Unfortunately Kirtsy's numbers are still pretty low, as evidenced by the fact that it only takes 15 votes to make it to the front page. Go on and change that by joining the site!
2. SweetHype. This one is actually made by a Heartless Doll reader, Kim Phan, who wrote to me: "I saw your posting "5 Reasons Why I want Digg for Girls" and I totally agree with you. The reasons you listed were some of the many that inspired me to create Sweethype, a site for women to post links to articles that they find interesting, inspiring, etc. We want this site to be a girls' club of sorts, a place of our own online." Phan also mentioned she's looking for suggestions on how to improve the site. That means you should give it a once over for yourself and see what you'd suggest!
In another life I want to come back as someone who makes their own clothes. No, I have no desire to be one of those girls on the bus who has clearly cobbled together her skirt out of random patches of fabric, or who's combined two pairs of pants so that her front half is sporting blue denim while her backside sports tan corduroy. That just looks sad. I don't want to be some fashion obsessed, would-be designer either. Then I'd have to get stick-thin just to fit in my own clothes. Nope, in my next life I'm coming back as one of those cool, artsy ladies with sewing machines in their living rooms who design adorable dresses and pull them off with spunk.
Yes, it's a very specific dream of reincarnation. I should probably start looking now for a religion that can make that one happen. Anyways, all of that is by way of explanation as to why I'm so darned impressed by people who make clothing like this:
With its happy blue fishies and its faux Victorian frill, this skirt totally makes me jealous of people with actual talent. Don't you just want to put it on, then twirl around for a long, long time -- or possibly skip through a meadow? Ooh, or you could drink tea in it. Okay, clearly I was deprived of a girly childhood and I'm still making up for it, but still: OMG.
I am constantly amazed by the people who make and sell stuff over at Etsy. While I sit around all evening watching Gossip Girl and dreaming of overcoming my own inertia, they're actually making crafts and sharing them with the world. Plus, a lot of the stuff they make is downright adorable. Would anyone notice if I killed them all and stole their collective crafty powers? Wait, pretend you didn't hear that.
Anyways, this week at "OMG You Made That?" I'm honoring Esty user happycloud, who specializes in cute, huggable monsters. To my mind that combination itself constitutes awesomeness (yes, I have an Ugly Doll, yes I love it dearly). Then happycloud had to go and turn her monsters into fuzzy hats. Check it out:
The hat, which sells for $30, also comes in Shrek green and Cheetos orange. All have ears, horns, and make it look as if a colorful monster is eating your skull.
happycloud, I tip my hat -- or specifically my brain sucking craft creation -- to you.
In addition to hand-knit boobies, today Wired is also running an interview with BK Gupta, the creator of the interactive internet meme time line. The time line, which is part of Dipity.com, has now seen more than a million page views and 250 data points. That means 250 LOLcats, or Homestar Runners, or whatever else is crazing the hearts of the internet masses for the next three weeks.
Wired's interview asks about the accuracy of time lines when left to users, and what's next for Dipity, but it doesn't ask some of the most nagging questions this particular interviewee would have no good reason to be able to answer: why do memes come and go like they do? Instead of being evenly spread out, internet phenomena ebb and wane in popularity like freaky, kitten-loving tides. And exactly what is it that attracts us to these memes? Why Chuck Norris facts and not Martha Stewart facts?
Hidden under Martha Stewart's chin is another fist. She actually uses it sprinkle sugar onto her blueberry pie before serving.
This week OMG You Made That is turning a little more professional, and a lot more time consuming. Via Boing Boing Gadgets comes this video of the "Sticky Note Experiment," in which thousands of multi-colored notes are glued together to form slinkies and then let loose to spice up an office. See for yourself:
Sure, these guys probably had a lot of help, but that doesn't mean somebody didn't have to sit down and assemble all those sticky note chains. Somehow I can't see most bosses getting so psyched over spending company time on office-supply-capades, but heck, if these boys can do it, you can at least sculpt the likeness of your hot coworker out of used staples or something.
"OMG You Made That?" usually specializes in the art of delicious cakes or adorable knit hats or some other form of harmless cuteness. This week instead, I couldn't help but sharing what recently arrived on my doorstep: Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews by Timothy Archibald. The book is a collection of, you guessed it, photographs and interviews about guys who are building sex machines in their garages.
Anyone who frequents FuckingMachines.com (what, just me?) knows about sex machines: big, bulky things made out of old lawnmowers and such with dildos attached to one end. What makes this book fascinating is how normal the guys look who make them. Seeing a home-made sex machine juxtaposed with someone's living room full of porcelain kitties... Well, it's strangely endearing. So today "OMG You Made That?" salutes you, sex machine hobbyists, for introducing sex toys on power tool to suburban America.
The level of twisted detail on these guys is just amazing. Plus, it makes me want to break out my old ponies and create art. Sure, you were fun in your day, ponies, but what have you done for me lately? Instead of collecting dust, you could be sporting pleather or saving the universe with your cinnamon bun hair. To Spippo, the deviant pony artist, I say an official "OMG, good job."
No, silly, not the baby. We're talking about the hat.
Non-gamers may think of video game fans as a coarse, boyish bunch who like to shoot imaginary guns while refusing to shower or develop social skills. In reality, us joystick lovers (yes, that should be the name of a game-related porno) are a pretty crafty bunch. Last week in "OMG You Made That?" we looked at the phenomenon of video game cakes, wherein everybody and their mother turns their favorite game into a baked good. This week we're hitting the Katamari phenomenon, and we're hitting it hard. That is, in the full force of its adorableness.
Katamari Damacy is a video game that first came out in 2004. Brightly colored and downright bizarre, the premise of the game is to roll up objects, people, and eventually even buildings into a growing ball of stuff. Because of its cute, addictive nature and its dedicated following, Katamari has spawned countless crafts: Katamari cakes, Katamari jack-o-lanterns, Katamari papercrafts. The most recent addition to the list is also the most adorably horrifying: the crochet Katamari baby hat, which transforms your once innocent child into the alien prince from the game.
While the crocheting involved here may or may not be difficult (I know nothing about crochet) the design does come with a tutorial for how to make your own hat (and subsequently dress up your own baby). There's always something strange about putting creatures in costumes who can't fight back. Then again, the baby iPod made it all OK, so why not give your child a giant, green, log-like head?