Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m hunting candy in the wild.

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Last week I received a lovely selfie from a customer, wearing her recent urban legend necklace purchase. It’s so fun for me to see people wearing the jewelry I make, but because I sell most of my jewelry online, I seldom get the chance. Every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of something I made in the wild, as it were, and it’s a thrill that never fades. I want more of this, I’ve decided. How to get it?

BUT WAIT. The internet lets you see pictures! What if I ask you for these pictures, and provide you with a nice incentive to send them to me? Good? Good.

For the rest of January, I’ll be running a giveaway on Instagram for a $50 gift certificate to urban legend. The winner will be chosen at random on February 1 from all the entries. From now until midnight PST on January 31, you can enter as many times as you like. The rules are simple:

1. Post a picture of yourself on Instagram wearing an urban legend necklace (or bracelet or earrings, if they’re your favorite!), and tag me (@katerimorton). For each unique entry, I’ll enter your name for one chance at a random drawing to win a $50 gift certificate to urban legend. If you have one urban legend necklace, and you post one picture, you’ll be entered once. If you have one urban legend necklace but you like to mix it up with different outfits and you post five different pictures, you’ll be entered five times. If you have five necklaces, and you post a different one for each necklace, you’ll be entered five times. At the end of the month, I’ll use a randomizer to select a winner, and will contact the winner by commenting on their post.

That’s it. Just the one rule. I’m hoping I’ll discover a lot of new Instagram accounts to follow, and get to know some of my customers better, but following me isn’t a criteria for entering the giveaway. I’d rather you follow me because you want to. (Spoiler: I post plenty of pictures of beads and jewelry and things I’m making, but I also post a lot of pictures of Portland street art, my niece and nephew, and Murder She Wrote bingo cards. Mine is a strange, full life.)

I’ll see you in pictures! Please don’t eat the jewelry.

Love, Kateri

Fortunately, Terraria.

So, Phil and I managed to catch the exact same revolting and gunky head cold over Christmas. From 6,000 miles apart. Do not even attempt to rise to our level of romantic symbiosis, grasshoppers. So relationship. Much cough. Wow.

Fortunately, it was a holiday and we both had several days to lie around moaning and drinking tea. Even more fortunately, we’d started playing Terraria the weekend before Christmas and were just dug in enough to fall very hard down a video game rabbit hole (between naps).

Terraria is an almost-entirely sandbox game, designed to look like an old 8-bit game, but much newer. It’s cute and compulsive and pleasingly unfussy, and I’ve fallen for it hard. The whole game revolves around the building blocks of the world: navigating them, acquiring them, using them to build structures or aid in survival or craft equipment. There are monsters and bosses and pitfalls of terrain, but that’s essentially it. Blocks comma get and use. According to Steam, I’ve played 37 hours in the last not quite three weeks. That’s an iniquitous amount of game time for me. It’s the holidays, so I’m just enjoying it and I’m having so much fun.

I’ve tried a lot of video games in the last three years, looking for something that will be absorbing enough to take me out of myself, while still being accessible to a newcomer in the world of RPGs, ideally something that Phil and I could play together. Game mechanics and game design are interesting to both of us, and it’s important to have fun things that we can do together from a distance. That’s easier said than done, when you’re looking for a game that allows multiplayer from different continents, is affordable, doesn’t run on too much graphics memory, has interesting and challenging mechanics for players at disparate levels, and doesn’t piss one or the other of us off with appalling stereotypes. I started out with Kingdom of Loathing a couple of years ago, and I loved that, but the restriction on number of turns per day kept me from ever getting as deeply into it as I wanted. It’s brilliant and hilarious and challenging, but you have to play untold hours before those turn limits disappear and I didn’t have the patience. Since then, I’ve tried World of Warcraft (enjoyable, but not obsessive, and frequently offensive in storyline and quest objectives; I abandoned my subscription when Blizzard took to Twitter with inflexible and offensive statements about women in gaming and game design); Lord of the Rings (oh God, so cute, so grinding, so boring, so slow it melted the face of my laptop); Rift (I actually really like this one, and it has a number of clever and friendly MMO mechanics. Still, I haven’t stuck with it, and I have some shouty issues with the gendering of equipment. I’ve kept it on my laptop, though, and I go back to it from time to time); Spiral Knights (again so cute, so grinding, so dull in the final analysis); and EVE. I’ve stuck with EVE, but with a caveat: I’m really only in it for the pretty. I like to fly around and explore space and take screenshots. The game mechanic I particularly enjoy is the scanning, so that’s all I do. I fly around, I scan down wormholes and exploration sites (mini game within the game, which I really like), and I take screenshots of prettypretty simulated space. It’s a perfect relaxing game and can be played while I’m watching TV. But it’s not the “I will chew my own arm off if I don’t get to play this today” game I’ve been looking for.

Enter Terraria, on a Black Friday Sale from Steam for $2.99. Phil had played it a bit a while back and recommended it, so I bought it and then forgot about it for a couple of weeks. Then the weekend before Christmas we remembered and I installed it first thing on a Saturday morning and the next thing I knew it was Sunday night, quite late. I love this one. I love the make-your-own-fun of it, the ability to log in and fight monsters or explore new territory or obsessively pursue a specific goal or continue adding dirt blocks and trees and mushrooms to my ever-expanding house. I love the lack of quests and direction. There are some quests available, should you want that sort of thing, but advancing through the game doesn’t depend on accessing them. You can take it or leave it. I always thought I preferred quests in RPGs – checking things off a list is endlessly satisfying to me – but it turns out I really like the freedom of no quests. I still have a list to check things off, it’s just of my own making and far less guided and restrictive than most of the games I’ve played. There’s no leveling, just general improvement (read: less dying) as you find and craft better equipment, all of which is readily available to you through exploring the general environment. It’s easy to figure out and it’s beautifully uncluttered, while still being an interesting challenge with just the right amount of click-click-keep-on-clicking obsessiveness to take me out of a stressful day. We can toggle back and forth easily between single- and multiplayer modes, and we can share a world that we work on together while each having our own to mess around with. So far, it checks every box for gameplay for me. Simple, without being stupid. Flexible and player-friendly. Visually appealing. Not sexist. You choose a male or female character to play, but beyond the initial outfit they appear in, there’s no gendering of equipment or tasks. I can put on a yellow slicker and rain hat dropped in combat by a zombie and pick up my sword that summons bees to attack monsters and go forth into the forest to chop down trees to build my house. I can plan an elaborate underground library (and I am. I am. It will be entirely cosmetic and quite huge and will hold all my novelty furniture and monster-killing banners and will be lit by chandeliers and bonfires.). Phil built a Hellavator – a mine shaft that goes straight down from the surface of his world all the way to the molten lava level at the very bottom. It’s impressive and hilarious and a thing of beauty. I can’t survive down there yet; I just went down to look and spent the whole time chugging health potions until I died. I can dig endless tunnels underground, searching for specific materials to craft armor, and fighting monsters. I can say fun stuff like, “Did you know a candy cane pickaxe can’t mine demonite ore?” I’ve spent hours on the wiki looking up ways to breathe underwater, or figuring out how to summon a boss, or tracking down a bug that’s keeping me from finding a specific item I need to craft my next armor. I squealed with triumph when I got a piece of equipment that will allow me to swim.

It’s been so fun to finally hit that vein of obsessive enjoyment for a specific game, and it’s been my luck to have two long holiday weekends in a row to indulge it (in between naps and cold medicine, because I’m still not quite right). What happens when I go back to work on my regular schedule is anyone’s guess, but I think I’ll still be building that underground library.

grandma stuff.

My grandmother has been so much on my mind the last few weeks. She was 96 when she died this past February, at home and at peace and ready to join my grandfather. I was so lucky to have her for such a long time. But I’ve missed her a lot this month, because she’s been around every corner.

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At Thanksgiving, I wore her apron and used her rolling pin to roll out crust for apple pie, using her recipe. The following weekend, I made a double batch of bourbon balls for Christmas and set them aging. In the last few weeks, I’ve used her typewriter to make a gift for a friend, and to type labels for bottles of homemade applejack that I sent. And ever since Black Friday, I’ve been getting emails from a florist company reminding me to “send Roberta Christmas flowers!” I could unsubscribe from that, I suppose, but it seems strangely disloyal and so I’ve suffered through the tiny pangs that arise every time one appears in my inbox. photo 1 (23)IMG_0075

For as long as I knew her, Grandma hated having her picture taken, so the smiling photos I’ve posted here are rare and precious. But in the days leading up to her funeral, I made a collage of photographs for the service, and I discovered a photo album from the year before she married my grandfather up through the year that their oldest, my uncle Sid, was born. She’s smiling radiantly in almost every picture. She may still have disliked the camera, but there’s no sign of it in these enchanting pictures. I now have this photo album, and I love looking through it at the pictures of their early life, and her beautiful smiling face.photo 2 (22)

So no flowers for Roberta this Christmas, but she is remembered in everything I do, and in many of the gifts I give. Here’s her recipe for bourbon balls. Consume with caution; if you let them age properly, they’re heady.

*NOTE: the measurements given are for cookies and nuts after they’ve been ground, not before. I managed to forget that this year, with slightly soggy results. So for proper results with a single batch, you’ll need to buy two boxes of Nilla Wafers, and more than a cup of walnuts. Grandma used a rolling pin, because she was a badass. I use a food processor, because I live in the future.*

Bourbon Balls

  • 3 cups ground Nilla Wafers
  • 1 cup ground nuts (I mostly use walnuts, but anything works)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup bourbon

Grind wafers and nuts fine. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Shape into balls about the size of a large cherry. Roll in confectioners sugar (I roll them twice). Age at least two weeks. Makes about 36; keeps indefinitely.

A mile marker in candyland.

test pattern

The fledgling jewelry shop I started a few years back so I could play with plastics is about to cross a very big milestone. I’ve sold nearly 3,000 items in my urban legend Etsy shop, and I’m really excited to see the odometer roll over in the next few weeks. When I opened urban legend, I was just starting to experiment with using vintage plastics in jewelry. The bold colors and bigger shapes took my designs in new directions, and it was so fun that it just kept growing and growing.

In the last few years, urban legend jewelry has been featured in UPPERCASE magazine, and been sold in shops in 9 states, as well as in Australia and France. Best of all, it’s brought me so many new friends. I love my work and I’m proud of it. It’s going to be exciting to see that nice round number appear in my Etsy shop!

To celebrate, I’ve planned a special giveaway for the customer who buys my 3,000th piece of jewelry. One lucky buyer will receive a custom long necklace in the style of the pieces shown below, in the color or colors of their choice. As of writing this, I’m 9 items away from the finish line; I can’t wait to see what happens!

As always, please don’t eat the jewelry.