Jessica Blanchette:

I found Nemo!

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I know that many people HATED the submarine ride back in the day (claustrophobia, boredom, cheesy broken mermaids!) but my sweetheart and I were able to get on the newest reincarnation of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in less than 45 minutes on July 3rd and I am geeeeeeking out about it. We'd gone a week or two ago at 8am on a Sunday and were greeted with a 5.5-6hr line!
First, let me say that the storyline is choppy (Nemo's lost, look out for jellyfish!, found him, now he's at school, joy and fun, the end) and they added stuff that no one cared about (the volcano search?) but overall, it's super cute. The characters are also sadly animated and projected instead of being cheesy animatronic fish, which I think many who are used to Disney would argue is pretty awesome. My favorite elements: the anglerfish scene; the beautiful, undersea coral; the seagulls on a buoy who intermittently yell "Mine?" and flap their little wings; the captain who lets us know that new technology called "sonar hydrophones" (my new band name) lets us listen to the undersea creatures. The first few minutes are non-Nemo but once we hear about the technology, the fun begins! I'll spare you who have not yet enjoyed it with too much details here but suffice to say, I clapped like a 3-yr old most of the way through it.
Many people have asked if the ride is claustrophobic but I didn't feel that way though the Midwesterners who kept talking the whole 10+ minute ride didn't help me feel particularly comfy, but I digress!
You are loaded down a left or right spiral staircase and seated on a bench with twenty seats; you're back-to-back with the other twenty who fit on the other aisle. You get your own porthole, though if you are over 5'6" expect to crouch to see anything. You're then escorted off the sub with an instrumental rendition of "Beyond the Sea"...sigh.
All in all, it was magical and reminded me that Disney will never cease being a place where you can forget about work and school and cleaning the house, and whatever responsibilities you may have and just relax...that is, after you pay the steep Disney entrance toll ;)

Small Things Design

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Small Things Design is a company making the sweetest jewelry I've lusted over in a while. They are yet again proving that everything that comes out of Portland is pretty great: Viva Voce, K Records and a bunch of other stuff that really gets me excited about music and art. The story behind Small Things is pretty neat too. Teresa Robinson was studying art in Mexico, took a jewelry making class on a whim, moved back to Portland to just bust out hand-cut jewelry and make it her fulltime gig. Sigh. Maybe I'm just a little jealous, but her art is so sweet I just can't hate on her. Her old line entitled "Flora vs. Fauna" featured darling animals & plants cut out of silver and layered over colored glass. The stag and cherry are my personal favorites.

The big news, however, is that each new line she creates becomes more and more adorable than the first which brings me to her newest line "Bits and Pieces". While the other lines give me more of a simple, clean, refined, Swedish-feel (Think Lotta Jansdotter), these pieces are strictly tongue-in-cheek for the young or young at heart. This collection has rings, bracelets and necklaces with hammered metal and cute pressed images like apples, diamonds and scissors. The umbrella style also steals my heart. All jewelry is made from .925 sterling silver and handmade - I know I've already said that but it sort of blows my mind. Yes, I would categorize Teresa as an "Indie" jeweler, but she retails and wholesales too and not just at tiny stores at big stores like Something Silver in California (though not on the web site). This must mean hours upon hours spent cutting tiny birds into metal and I can definitely respect that. Teresa's goods can be purchased at an array of California (and national) stores or at her web site. Give it a look!

March is National Craft Month

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March is National Craft month and I would encourage everyone to get some friends together, males and females, young and old, and make some shit DIY-style.
As of late, I’d been feeling pretty craft-deficient. I’d purchase a copy of the slickest new ReadyMade mag from my local Borders and feel…well, less than. One of the newer issues actually gave detailed directions on how to make a wood branch table with a glass top which cost $300. An older one gave directions for a rotating sunhouse designed by Todd Oldham. Are you kidding?
That was until I met some other people just like me – creativity hoarders. You likely know the type. These are the people who hoard crafts and never use them because of time or not enough money to get ALL the bells and whistles from some project they cut out of Martha Stewart’s LIVING but when you go to their homes, you are constantly tripping over blank canvases and finding beads in your socks after you leave. Yeah, them. So anyhoo, I’ve met a few of these ladies and we now have what my “best friend” Laura and I refer to as the “Best Friends Club”. It’s funny because we are each about 15 years too late to refer to people as our “best friends” and because we are embarrassingly enthusiastic about everything craft. (Julie and I squealed at this).
I just thought I’d let you know there are other gals (and guys, of course) out there, dying to be invited to your house to glue and cut and fold on your kitchen table but who are not quite ready for their own gallery exhibits.
If you need an idea, have a F*&% Hallmark party and encourage everyone to make their own cards. Make it a theme party. For instance, we all hauled over to my boss’s house a month or so before the Winter Holidays (how was that for p.c.?) to create cards and learn to use ribbon and brads TOGETHER. Believe me, it’s a lot less scarier with some other people around. I am totally afraid of eyelets but Laura and Julie have given me the courage to move through that fear to a higher form of craft. It’s a beautiful thing.
If you’d like some ideas for crafts you can actually make, look at these pictures of cards I made at my own craft party last week or check out Craft magazine. It is full of things you can actually make and with a couple friends, you can catapult through your creative fear and make things you can be proud to share. If all else fails, at least you’re not eating alone on a Friday night and you know your parents will always accept things for the fridge gallery.
-Jessa B.