Calligraphy! ...almost...

I have, in the last month or so, joined our local calligraphy guild and signed up for a calligraphy class. Backwards, maybe (though I think I am not the only not-yet-calligrapher in the guild)...but it's a great group of people who do fun things with calligraphy and other skills and crafts. I am hoping that I may be able to incorporate some newly learned techniques into my Christmas cards this year. But I have yet to even pick up a pen - that is this coming week's class, I believe.

At the first guild meeting I attended we made paste paper, and then this month we used this paper to make books! A four-needle book binding stitch sounds very complicated, yes? It is, in fact, quite doable! Mine was not the most precisely stitched, but I love this technique. We also made books in our first calligraphy class, to use as notebooks throughout the course. I am excited to pick up the pen next week!

Here's my first paste-paper-four-needle book:


Flowering Florida Fall

For the Smithsonian's annual Free Museum Day we headed down to Historic Spanish Point in Osprey.  My parents had taken us to visit when we were small, but all that my siblings and I recall of that venture is that we made butter in baby food jars! 

No butter this time, but it was really such a lovely, if muggy, day. The site is beautiful. Florida terrain can be a little monotonous...a little green-on-green. But, lo-and-behold, there is color to be found! There were so many amazing flowers. As many mangroves as I've seen in my life, I don't think I've ever seen the bud before, or the very beginning of the seed pod. 

Here is a small sampling of the palette of colors buried in the Florida greenery:




for fall pumpkin festival
(fall's almost here, right? come on cool weather)
to mail to my favorite KW shop, Wanderlust
(how I'd love to be in KW right now...)


Suburban Nature

what. up. 

does anyone know what this will morph into?


ducks in a row

i love my engineers. i have some great guys that i work with on our buildings. but every time duct layouts and ductwork coordination (in existing buidlings...ech what a headache) come up, i have to say my blonde side...or let's say my imaginative side...comes out.

engineer asks: "do you want the ducts above the ceiling and below the bottom chord of the truss, or do you want everything above the structure?"
krystyna pictures: a family of ducks waddling around and quacking about above the ceiling tiles, peeking up through the smoke barrier into the attic space.

or: while coordinating cds, krystyna sees a conflict. there's a new duct running through existing concrete tees just fine, until bam! it hits the new beam holding up the old stair from which we removed the bearing wall.  oh no! feathers fly everywhere. wings and webbed feet scramble. krystyna saves the day by dropping the ceiling height to a tight, but still-legal 7'-8". whew! the ducks can squeak through.

this is all in my head. i've not shared my duck-dreams with my co-workers...wonder what goes on in their heads?

how do you keep yourself entertained during the day??

(apparently i am on a duck theme this week, i just realized...)


lucky duck

lady luck has smiled on me this year.
i've won two raffles and then an etsy giveaway this morning (for this most awesome ring by Mad Scientist Designs!!)
i've never won any raffles before in my life!
so tonight...i stopped in for a lotto ticket.
fingers crossed.


roy g biv
he looked down
from the wet clouds tonight


What does your nest look like?

[I posted about this article when it first came out, but my students were discussing that *big* question...what is architecture? Well, it's a big question in architecture school...probably not so much outside of the architectural world. But animal and insect architecture came up and got me thinking about these fascinating little structures...]

What does your nest look like?

Mine is filled at the moment with pillows, and half-made cards, and books, and scribbled-on lecture notes, a broken over door, a chin-up bar I can barely hang from, my (five-toed!) running shoes, and the sound of early-fall-Gilmore-Girls on the dvd player. And did I mentioned the books?? [I am not a minimalist, in case you did not pick up on that…]

This nest of a rare bee is made of flower petals and holds a single egg.

Take a look at this little bees' nests. Or incubators, I guess. Wombs. Aren’t our nests wombs of sorts though, housing us as we grow?

Multiple flower-lined nests of the O. avoseta bee are nestled in the ground.

(Image, fascinating article – from NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126556246)


note to self

i've got to stop writing cryptic notes to myself in the half-asleep haze of my mid-night-perambulations. i am left wondering...
...what does "Bb shower 2" mean?
[ok that must have been some sort of reminder about my friend's baby shower this past weekend. everyone seems to be having babies these days.] [orrrr...it was a hint about something i remembered in the middle of the night about the "baseball shower" in the spring training facility renovation i am working on...]
and how about...
..."coloring/remembering dwg"?
whatever this is, i think i could turn it in to something poetic...
sweet dreams.


August Giveaway!!

From Etsy Team FEST:

Lily Inspired Dragonfly Hug Ring
Our FEST Blog Giveaway for August is a sensational Lily Inspired Dragonfly Hug Ring by Mad Scientist's Designs. Mad uses beautiful antique copper to fashion her whimsical jewelry masterpieces.

Side View of Ring
Her creative and lifelike representations are fanciful and exotic and this wonderful Dragonfly Ring is no exception. It conforms to your finger, is adjustable and comfortable with wings that hug your finger and a tail with a fanciful curl. HOW TO ENTER: Enter to win by visiting Mad at Mad Scientist's Designs or any of the FEST Team members listed in the Member Section of the Team FEST Blog. Find your favorite item, share it with us and tell us why you love it. Remember to add your email address so we can contact you if you are the Winner! Winner picked on 9/05/11. Simple and Easy! This is open to Everyone, the more the merrier!
Vacuum Tube Necklace with Hand Woven Filigree
Mad loves designing jewelry to match steam punk and goth fashion and also is committed to rescuing cats and giving them a good home. She initially started selling on Etsy to help pay for their food and care and this charitable endeavor has blossomed into her wonderful Etsy Shop with so many fabulous offerings such as the Vacuum Tube Necklace pictured above.


eat your fruits and vegetables

[carrots grown by my sister, avocados from my parents' yard, mangoes from a coworkers neighborhood. the rest i think all came from fruitville grove...]


fruits of the summer

i have been neglecting my blog, among other things in my life, for a bit now (workaholic tendencies taking over.......)
but may I just say....fresh avocado....fresh mango....
why would i live anywhere else???


July Sizzling Summer FEST GIVEAWAY

Team FEST (Florida Etsy Street Team) Giveaway from my teammate Garden Whimsies by Mary:

Summer is sizzling and so is our FEST Blog Giveaway for July from GardenWhimsiesByMary . Mary has combined her love of gardening with decorating and producing gorgeous unexpected treasures to add whimsy to your garden. Her pieces are one of a kind garden art and so colorful and fun as seen in this month’s Giveaway - a Sapphire Blue Petite Plate Flower.
Mary stacks plates for “flower” garden stakes and fits them with a holder on the back so they can be set on a copper pipe and placed anywhere. Her amazing talent for combing colors and textures is evident in all of her works of art. An added benefit is her love for bringing new life to objects that might otherwise find themselves in a landfill. Treat your garden to a touch of Whimsy! HOW TO ENTER: Visit the Team FEST blog and Enter to win by visiting Mary at GardenWhimsiesByMary or any of the FEST Team members listed in the Member Section. Find your favorite item, share it with us and tell us why you love it. Remember to add your email address so we can contact you if you are the Winner! Winner picked on 08/07/11. Simple and Easy!
The giveaway is open to everyone!!


Summer Yum

big zucc bread, little zucc bread
h2o melon
rinds for pickling
my first attempt at (refigerator) pickling
local yummies


Team TEST June Blog Giveaway!

I am a member of an Etsy Team, FEST (Florida Etsy Street Team).
Each month one of the awesome members contributes to the team giveaway -- here's June's:


Our lucky June Winner will have an opportunity to select one item from either of Carrie's Shops - HappyLittleMonkey orMonkeySeeMonkeyDo. Carrie is a Florida native now living in Tallahassee. She creates wonderful products for kids with practicality, utility and parents in mind.

HappyLittleMonkey specializes in great baby gifts and you can choose a Premium Swaddling Blanket and Burp Cloth Set from this Shop similar to this lovely blue, aqua and white blanket combo as your Giveaway. MonkeySeeMonkeyDo features items for bigger kids, from age 1 to around kindergarten and growing. Or select as your Giveaway, an Appliqued Shirt from this Shop. Here's an example of Carrie's special designs.

Carrie spends hours searching for just the perfect materials and fabrics for her fabulous creations and, in addition to the Giveaway, if Team FEST members purchase a Swaddling Blanket Set by July 4th, Carrie will monogram the blanket or burp cloth FREE when FEST members use the code GOTEAMFEST in the comments.

HOW TO ENTER: Enter to win by visiting Carrie at either or both of her Shops HappyLittleMonkey or MonkeySeeMonkeyDo or any of the FEST Team members listed in the Member Section. Find your favorite item, share it with us and tell us (on the Team FEST blog) why you love it. Remember to add your email address so we can contact you if you are the Winner! Winner picked on 07/04/11. Simple and Easy!

About the Artist: Carrie is a stay-at-home mommy of two little ones and loves the opportunity to create great things! Her product inspiration comes from her kids, and then she create things that Moms will love too. Carrie learned how to sew as a little girl, along-side her mother who gave Carrie her very own machine at a very young age!




Summer Evening

(grapefruit juice, from a friend's backyard grapefruits + tonic + a splash o' beefeater)

(yes, I leave my xmas lights up all year, but only turn on the white lights in the non-xmas seasons...)



After going for a jog in the balmy evening heat (which wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected – the breeze was breezy and the “feels like 89” temperature noted online was an exaggeration) I decided to go for a swim.

Thankfully no one else here ever seems inclined to swim after dark, so the pool is generally mine.

There is magic in swimming at night. I highly recommend it. (But not at the beach – I think that’s when all the fishies eat. And the sharks.)

It’s cloudy tonight, so there aren’t any stars. But after swimming a lap or two, languidly pushing the water out of my path, I slowed to a stop in the middle. Reclined back in the water. And floated.

Floating is one of my favorite things in the world. (Easily pleased? Yes.)

The breeze was still breezing and it was so beautiful up in the tops of the oak trees, blowing the lengths of the thinnest branches wildly about, while barely moving the stockier limbs. What a view, looking straight up. I felt like the trees were waking up restless their restless souls right above me.

Back on the surface of the water where I hovered, one of my favorite phenomena (and one of my reasons for my fascination with floating) occurred. Do you know that feeling, where part of you is above water and part of you is below, and the line of the surface of the water around your body seems to be the most tangible thing in the world? Arms outstretched, palms upturned, let the surface of the water skim your fingertips. The feeling of the water line pulling away, and then fingertips re-emerging is so meditative. Try it.

(I went back to take a picture of the trees and got some odd looks from late-evening dog-walkers. Wandering around barefoot in my haphazardly selected post-swim clothes with a camera slung over my shoulder…I may have a reputation as an eccentric around here…being normal’s no fun though…)


It's Saturday

After a hectic several months at my ‘day’ job (mostly 60+ hour weeks, with one solid 80 hour week in there) I finally have a weekend (a three day one, at that) that I don’t have to work.

And my Saturday has been…a Saturday. I feel so very refreshed right now.

Next step - deep breath. Sink into hammock.

I got up late (ahhhh) drank my coffee, cleaned my kitchen. First thing is my favorite time to clean my kitchen, which means I usually end the day with piles of dishes sitting on the counter. But…to each her own, right?

I went to Hibbs Farm & Garden for some organic potting soil. I have to say, when they closed the garden section at my Target I was upset, but I think it was really a blessing in disguise. I have this great garden center/nursery just down the road from me, but I’d always go to Target because I had to go there anyway. Got my potting soil (their selection is broader than just the MiracleGro I could find at Target), spied a very handsome man working there (I’ll have to go back more often!) and returned to my balcony.

Repotted mint bequeathed to me by my sister (so I can return her pot to her finally). Got three good plants out of it! Potted jade clippings from my parents to replace mine the squirrels massacred. Planted some more jasmine seeds (hope they weren’t too dry – I’ve had them for a while now…carried them around in my purse for a couple of weeks because I kept forgetting about them. Good thing they didn’t sprout in there!). Swept my balcony (long time coming) and swabbed pollen off as many surfaces as I could.

Finally picked up my package from Aquarian Bath at my apartment office. (Long hours mean the office is generally closed by the time I get home. One day I’ll have a house with a front door mat postmen can oh-so-subtly drape over my packages so that I don’t have to wait a week to retrieve them.)

Discovered pool is open again – woohoo! Summertime is here with a vengeance. (Why wouldn’t you re-marcite in the winter when people don’t want to swim?)

Went to the library down the road to continue reviewing/studying for the Arch History class I am teaching at the end of summer(!). No domestic distractions. And much quieter than the downtown branch. This one has a reading garden too (with lots of butterflies - a plus if you don’t find them creepy).

Finally went to the Fruitville Grove Market and discovered they have, not only yummy produce and breads and things, but also local eggs! I’ve been trying to find local eggs for a while. Success at last.

Enjoying a glass of truly fresh FL OJ, all the pulp included.

And about to sink into that hammock.

Happy Saturday to you.

(This guy has been with me for a while.)


There she was...

I know, I seem to be stuck on mermaids lately. But yesterday I left work early (!) to head to a meeting (non-day-job-related!).

On the trek to the interstate I was pacing a truck. This was not unusual in itself, but I kept catching something in my peripheral vision when we’d pass by each other. As we slowed to a stop I leaned forward to look at the side of the trailer – Baitmaster. Ok. I like fishing but I’ll use whatever my bro-in-law brings along. He’s the one with the boat; I have no need to buy bait.

But just below the text there she was, perched on a hook with her green scales pulled modestly up around her bosoms.

Blonde hair and typical mermaid profile just like the one in my dreams, but ten times as big and not on ice.

I think she’s haunting me.


For Love of Books

I love reading. I do. And I think reading is one of the most important activities for kids as their minds develop. I think it’s just as important to keep adult mind in shape. And I think storytelling is one of the strongest threads of community and society. Reading is a vital activity.

But…I have to admit something. I have a problem, and it just keeps growing. I cannot finish a book. Well not literally. I’ve finished plenty. But here’s a snapshot of my currents (I’ve reached varying points in all these books – some I’ve barely started, some I’ve almost finished, some I’ve read the same first four chapters over and over and can’t get any further – but I want to):

The Perfect House | Witold Rybczynski

La Vita Nuova | Dante

The Children’s Book | AS Byatt

New Science | Vico

Have Space Suit Will Travel | Robert Heinlein

The Door Into Summer | Robert Heinlein

The Olive Farm |Carol Drinkwater

French Women Don’t Get Fat | Mireille Guiliano

Animal Vegetable Miracle | Barbara Kingsolver

The Riverside Anthology of Children’s Literature

The Book of the City of Ladies | Christine de Pizan

Momus | Alberti

The Sacred and the Profane | Mircea Eliade

A Canticle for Leibowitz | Walter Miller

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Douglas Adams

Hector and the Search for Happiness | Francoise Lelord

Beatrix Potter A Life in Nature | Linda Lear

The Conde Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys

The Omnivore’s Dilemma | Michael Pollan

The Odyssey | Homer

The Fable of the Bees | Bernard Mandeville

What are you reading these days?

Etsy Team FEST Give Away!!

The FEST Team proudly presents our May Daze BLOG GIVEAWAY selection from Laura of Tierrasolpaz. Laura is an accomplished artist who enjoys creating mixed media art, jewelry, photography, zines, stationary, decoupage pieces, paper crafts - anything that materials may inspire her with. Laura uses recycled materials, or follows an upcycle philosophy whenever possible helping to keep the final cost of her creations affordable to the buyer. She is proud to be part of the etsy community of independent designers, creators, artists, and crafters alike. Her giveaway is a stunningly beautiful and glorious sunset over water with mountains in the background of Lake Mead in Las Vegas, Nevada. The photograph will be delivered as an 8 x 10 glossy professionally printed picture. HOW TO ENTER: Visit the team blog post May Daze BLOG GIVEAWAY to enter to win the lovely and colorful photograph by visiting Laura at Tierrasolpaz or any of the FEST Team Members listed in the Member Section. Find your favorite item, share it with us and tell us why you love it. Remember to leave your email or contact info so we can reach you if you're the lucky winner. The winner will be picked on June 4rd. Simple and Easy!


Now I know my ABCs?

Hello. My name is Krystyna, and I...have forgotten one of my basic kindergarten lessons.
I was practicing my alphabet - to use the lettering on cards, not because I thought I actually needed practice with the general concept...
Turns out I was wrong. Upper case and lower case, I got to "S, T" and "s, t" and what comes next, boys and girls?
I caught myself in the lowercase...
Now, I often end the word "within" with a "g" when I am typing (and writing) because my fingers are so used to that oft used combination of letters, but I've never messed up my alphabet before....


My friend, the moon

I wandered the beach on Sunday evening.

The water was like a silver velvet blanket creeping onto the shore. Oddly, it reminded me of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, with its thick luxurious waves rolling up onto the sand. And, like the cloak, it hides who-knows-what beneath, and is at times both reflective of mysterious moonlight and transparent to what is hidden below.

Wandering to – I gazed out at the breadth of the horizon, dodged fishing lines, picked up one perfect juvenile conch shell.

Wandering fro – I looked ahead, but down at the water at my feet, as I often do; I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye, and turning around to try and catch the fleeting object in my sight. I must have look paranoid, as if I thought someone was following me. And then I figured it out – the MOON was following me, perfectly reflecting its silver sliver in the veil of water just behind my right heel. The thought of the moon following me made me laugh a little. I tossed my hair back, breathed in the luxurious air, and peeked one more time to make sure my little lunar friend was still coming with me.

(I don’t have good photo to illustrate the quality of the water that night. But I don’t think any photo ever quite does that kind of night justice. You need the air moving around you, the salt in your nose, the sound of the tide, and the touch of the sand beneath your feet, with the water lapping at your ankles.)

Dreaming under the sea

So my Weeki Wachee post described, I think, our day at the park sufficiently. But the magic of the mermaids is something else entirely.

I had several recurring dreams as a child and one of the less disturbing (though still weird) dreams involved a mermaid. No, I take that back – it was plain disturbing.

There was a fish shop that I used to go to with my mother when I was little and she was running errands. (This shop may have been purely an invention of my dream - I’ll have to check with her on this.) We’d stop by this fish shop, I believe just north of the US41 bridge over the Peace River (a pretty specific detail, but I still think this may have all been part of the dream world). The floor was white terrazzo, the air conditioning ran cold but humid, and there was, of course, the aroma of fish in the air. A bell rang and hit the storefront door as it opened and closed. I did not like eating fish until very recently, so the odor was unpleasant to me. I’d bide my time while my mother picked out her selections for dinners I would not eat. This was all normal, repetitive, everyday stuff. And then one day I peered into the freezer closest to the door, across from the register, to see the whole fish laid out on the crushed ice. I didn’t like eating the creatures but found them fun to look at. Dead on the ice. Thinking back on that, it seems a bit morbid, but I love fishing now and that’s what you do to them – lay them out on the ice….

One day something was different. Gray scales with green edges, hints of oranges, light glinting off the skins – yes, that was right. And lying horizontally along with all the other future-meals was a little mermaid. About two feet long. With full-grown human/mermaid proportions, scaled down to a length of about 24 inches. Her tail was green, the scales had gray edges. A sick dread set in my stomach and I turned around and found my mother thankfully ready to leave. I hurried out ahead of her.

I had this dream I don’t know how many times. Why is it that the weird, rock-in-the-stomach-forming dreams are the ones that always come back? Not the airy, happy, sparkly ones? Another of my recurring dreams came partially true one night – woke the whole house up with that one…but that’s a story for another day.

So…my early-on brushes with mermaids were a little…off, shall we say? But thankfully that did not prejudice me against the mythical beauty that normally surrounds these creatures.


Fill in the blanks...

Following the lead of The Little Things We Do...
1. What I love most about my home is: my balcony - full of plants that surround my hammock. (Squirrels are NOT invited...though they keep showing up...)
2. I'm excited because: my little bro is graduating from Law School and I get to go take pictures of him dressed up in his cap & gown...and visit good old Gainesville. How I miss it there sometimes.
3. My preferred method for blowing off steam when I'm frustrated is: playing loud equally frustrated hard rock music and/or running.
4. Currently I am craving: the salty air of the beach. I'll have to make a stop there tomorrow.
5. The thing I love most about my mom is: she is THE person I call when I have a question about anything and she always has an answer. And she takes care of us (family)...I am "all grown up" indeed, but she's still my Mom.
6. If I was going to write a book about my life, the title would be: Jane of All Trades? (Jill of All Trades??) I have far too many interests and things to pursue; I can't manage to finish a book, let alone master one of my pursuits!
7. If I were to eat one thing for the rest of eternity it would be: sausage pizza. You've got all your four food groups there. Granted, if I ate sausage pizza for the rest of eternity I'd be pretty huge...


Easter Colors

Last weekend (was it only last weekend?) I had the most lovely Easter tea with my family.

(We celebrate with food, in case you couldn’t tell…)

Here, take a look:

A rainbow of dye


My niece’s first year dying eggs. She had so much fun. She was tossing the eggs in the dye with abandon. I started saying “plunk” every time she did, and she quickly picked up on that. Plunk, plunk, plunk. Luckily eggs of the hard-boiled variety are a little tougher than the raw ones.

In progress
The first dozen
Pink! My niece's favorite color. This dye took a long time to soak in though…not great for the impatient.
My rainbow (she shared the dying responsibility with us)
All twenty-four (pre-stickers)
Easter shards (following our traditional egg duel - does anyone else do that?)
Naked eggs
Egg purgatory
Easter tea, courtesy of my mom and sister: meat pie, scones (with clotted cream and cherry jam), ham biscuits, pimiento cheese sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, babka, cupcakes, and a chocolate Easter bunny.
Cold cuts + fruit

Kielbasa, fresh and smoked

White borscht, with the fresh kielbasa (my dad's specialty)

Adorable cupcakes that my sister made. Cute and delicious! (She left some without the coconut grass for me…)

Easter rose