Speaking of a boost, I had Big Fun, capital B, capital F, on Friday night. Last Wednesday was Natalie's birthday, her 41st. I have to say, there's so much less pressure on 41 than on 40. I say this as one who's experienced both birthdays, and as one who has racked her brain trying to think of the ultimate of ultimate ways to celebrate friends turning 40, then the next year found much more ease, and maybe even fun, in celebrating 41. Not that our 40ths weren't fab-o-lous -- they were. It's just that 41 brought a lovely dose of mellow along with. (42, can you wait a little bit? What is this speed of light toward 80?)
Natalie with her "Many Faces of Natalie" Cake, brought to us by Ellen. Best cake ever!
I love birthdays, I do, and when I really get to share in a friend's birthday, I co-opt it. (One year, Mister Stevens and I traded birthdays. It was such silly good times I can't even tell you.) Natalie and I went out to lunch and to Loehmann's for birthday bargains. (She even lets me share her birthday discount coupon. See? How could I not think it's my day too?) Then we had a birthday snack at everyone's new fav yogurt (or, whatever it really is) place, Pinkberry. We saved the party for Friday night. Natalie invited our friends, and her mom, to The Urban Craft Center in Santa Monica. Our friends are crafty ladies and we get together for Stitch 'n Bitch -- okay, I haven't been in a while, gotta work on that -- every Thursday, so we wanted to do something other than meet, eat pizza, drink booze, and knit. In a stroke of genius, Natalie scheduled us for a needle felting class. I had never needle felted and kept thinking it was something it wasn't, then something else. It was spectacular fun, is what it was. I mean, Nintendo, Wii, computers, DDR, HD, iPhones -- whatev! Try poking things with tiny needles. Crazy!
Natalie had some needle felting experience, but no one else did. When we sat down and saw what we'd be working with, we were like, Wha? Carolyn and Janie, our fearless instructors, were great. They told us the basics, the nature of the material we'd be using, and how not to hurt ourselves (the needles used in needle felting are sharp like a mofo). The jewel of the night was when Carolyn observed us all and said, "If you're going to look away from your project, you might want to stop poking." I'll say.
We all started off by making the same project -- cupcakes. This gave us the hang of things. Once our cupcakes were done, we were set free, with supervision, to make whatever we wanted. The UCC has lots of craft books lying around for inspiration. I had noticed some adorable penguins while flipping through a Japanese needle felting book. I figured I could produce something close to a penguin, so I made Pee Vee. (He kind of looks like an owl, too. One member of our group, Malina, even said he looks like her cats. Ouch! He's a penguin!) When I got home from the party, I couldn't stop myself from knitting him a scarf. I am not much for stuffed animals or toys, but something's come over me with this whole idea of a penguin being born from a hunk of wool, and in less than an hour.
Here's Pee Vee, pre scarf, with his pal, Maryjo's chick.
I loved two things best: Celebrating Natalie, who is completely wonderful, fun, talented, generous, smart, and foxy (everyone should know her!); and watching all the cute and crazy things -- first the cupcakes, then animals, an iPod cozy, Ellen even made a fried egg in anticipation of Mardi Gras -- emerge, spontaneously, from balls of wool.
Here are more pics, courtesy of Ellen (so are the 2 of me, above):
Clockwise from back row left: Ellen, Maryjo, Sher (Nat's mom), me, Lori (I wish you could see her baby harp seal up close; it's wearing a beret and holding a paintbrush and palette!), Nat, Darcy. Malina had to leave early, but she made a cute cupcake.
Can't go without saying, if you're in LA and looking for a good time, check out The Urban Craft Center. It is a place of unparalleled crafty goodness.
*h*Ap*Py bI*R*th*Da*Y* again, dear Natalie. :)