Category Archives: and so on

Simple geometrics

Inspired by these coasters, I used some fabric I had around to make a bunch of light/dark squares. The red/white floral was a piece of flocked cotton, maybe half a yard, that came into my hands when my favorite cousin bought a house that had previously been owned by a hoarder. There was other fabric and yarn, but most of it had been gnawed on by little beasties, both winged and naked-tailed, and wasn’t usable. I’d wanted to use it for something special and had almost given up hope when I hit upon this idea. The plan is to put them together for cushion covers, but I haven’t quite nailed down which configurations I like best. I think these two may be the winners though. I like the strong graphic quality of the patterns and the contrast between the small pieces and the large motifs.
But there are almost limitless other combinations, not to mention the fact that I made a bunch of squares using the same striped fabric and a darker red silk paisley that used to be one of my favorites dresses in the late 90s, so that increases the combinations exponentially.
I have a crafting date with some friends this weekend, so I may pull them all out and see how everyone else puts them together.

Other things that have happened since I last posted:

  • I moved in with my boyfriend. We have the first floor of a rambling old house, complete with a deck, a bathroom that’s tiled on the ceiling, a sort of North African … mirror installation in the living room, and some truly ghastly 1980s wallpaper in the kitchen. The latter is not long for this world, but the rest of it is thoroughly charming.
  • I became obsessed with Homeland.
  • I became obsessed with Gillian Flynn’s latest book, Gone Girl. I actually almost regret reading it because it means I can never read it again for the first time.
  • I became obsessed with Draw Something.
  • I made this, possibly my favorite salad ever.
  • Knitting-wise, I’m plodding away on Effortless and Folded.


I *love* New Year’s resolutions. Love them. I love sitting down on New Year’s Day with my fresh Moleskine day planner and thinking about what I want to happen in the next 12 months while shoveling as much hoppin’ john in my mouth as I can handle*. I believe in making very specific resolutions, ones that are going to be either FUN or in the service of something that I really want. (A good friend of mine from grad school made the same resolution every year: Drink more. That’s what I’m talking about.) Last year’s included making sure that I always had some wine around the house, reading all of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, a timeline for finishing, editing, and submitting my book, donating blood as often as I was eligible, and some goals for pursuing more freelance writing and self-publishing more knitting patterns. I let myself get derailed on some of the work-y ones, but I totally kicked ass when it came to booze and blood.

This year, I’m trying something a little different: more general goals for the year, specific ones for each month. The general ones all fall into one of two categories: ‘Learn’ or ‘More of.’ Among other things, I want to learn more embroidery and crochet — I’m decent at each as far as I go with them, but stay well within my very limited comfort zone — and want more of a lot of things in my life: music, having people over, houseplants, hiking, baking bread…

January’s specific goals are to finish the scarf I’m knitting for Rob, which is seed stitch and sportweight yarn and insanely boring but beautiful, knock off the blind stitching for the binding on this quilt, which is a task I find insanely tedious but one I need to do to finally finish this thing and be able to use it, and get back on track with writing. I have a big freelance proofreading project due next week, so the book will have to wait until after that (not least because I need my work table back to spread out all of my notes and research), but I’ll get there.



Paper Christmas Tree

You guys, I have to tell you, I’m feeling kind of festive this year. I haven’t had anything resembling a tree since about 1999, which was the year of The Christmas Branch, a pine branch I put in a vase and on which I hung a single ornament, ever so late ’90s Generation Nowhere irony mixed with Peanuts-Christmas-special-tinged nostalgia. I wanted to do some holiday decorating at my place, but I didn’t want a physical, 3D tree tree, just something evocative of a tree and seasonal goodwill. I toyed with the idea of painting one on kraft paper or making one out of paper snowflakes or outlining the shape on the wall with fairy lights, but then the idea of gluing strips of paper to a large piece of kraft paper came to me and I figured I’d give it a shot.

In another 12 years, I’m sure I’ll be rolling my eyes at my second-decade-millennial Brooklyn-rustic DIY-precious aesthetic, but right now, I kind of love it. One unforeseen benefit of using paper that was already printed on one side is that the print shadow shows through, except on the bright white edges, which gives some visual depth and could, if you were so inclined, look like snow-tipped branches.

It was ridiculously easy to do. First, I cut a length of kraft paper and sketched out a vague triangle shape. I keep a lot of scrap paper around for notes and lists and whatnot, so I took some of that and cut it into quarters, widthwise. I was entertained to see that some of what I happened to grab was from the Haggadah from Michelle‘s seder this spring.
“Allow the bitter to move you” and “Nourish the self with mystery” are good reminders regardless of the holiday. “See the sandwich of both sides” sounds like the kind of fortune cookie I tend to end up with.

Then I just glued the strips in overlapping rows, starting at the bottom. I started out keeping everything tidy and lined up neatly, but quickly figured out that I liked the way it looked when placement was a little more haphazard.

Optional step: set the glue overnight with a large, sleeping cat.

Raw milk

Last winter, my brother took me to a farm where he sometimes buys cheese for his restaurant so that we could meet the farmer, a woman whose hand, when she shook mine, was so calloused and beautifully used that my own soft and varnished paws made me feel like the last coddled and inbred remnant of a soon-to-be-extinct monarchy, and also to get me some raw milk. Apparently, when Geoff first brought the subject up with her, she asked him, a little suspiciously, why I wanted it, since it’s not really legal to sell and I could have been an undercover dairy inspector setting up some sort of very small-scale sting operation. But he just replied, “She’s from Brooklyn,” which, it’s handy to know, apparently will excuse any precious or outlandish behavior one cares to engage in in the Northeast Kingdom.

Up to and including taking photos of bottles of milk with one’s phone.

It was delicious.

Happy haulidays!

So, Chronicle Books, publishers of all sorts of awesome stuff, is having a pretty remarkable giveaway. They’re giving away $500 worth of books to one blogger and one commenter on the winning blog post, plus $500 worth of books to a charity of the winner’s choice (ETA: I’d go with FirstBook). Check out the details here. It was a lot of fun to put my dream list together; $500 goes a long way when we’re talking about books, even nice, hardcover books. And it was interesting to see what kind of things appealed to me. Would I ever have guessed that I would be interested in so many books of stencils? No, I would not.

total: $487.20

Thank you for indulging me! Let me know if you decide to enter too. In the meantime, here is a picture of some super-glowy leaves I took yesterday while I was walking to work:

Thoughts on Twitter

I was talking to someone recently about the differences between how I present myself on the blog here and on Twitter, what each mode of communication does for me, if there’s one I like better. The best way I could come with to describe it was that the blog is an online record of things I’ve made and done, but Twitter is just me talking and, I think, more representative of what I’m like. You know, on the inside. Gretchen Rubin points out in her post about how Twitter can make you happier that “Twitter lets you share those funny little observations that float through your head. In the same way that carrying a camera sharpens your eye, knowing that you can communicate your clever aperçus makes you more observant and wittier.” And when I look back through my twitter stream, I reconnect with my own experiences and thoughts in a way that doesn’t really happen when I read my blog archives.
That’s not necessarily a terrible thing. I do have both, after all. But it’s making me wonder if it’s time to rethink how and what I write here, if I should do it daily, if I should do it more off the cuff, if I should make it more personal. I don’t know.
A few examples. I’d forgotten writing almost all of these, but they’re all thoughts or moments I was happy to have have back in my brain:
Apr 26: Nothing like a dozen big guys in NY/NJ Fugitive Task Force vests gathering outside your building before 6am to start the day off right.
Mar 31: Talk of LA made me want to listen to Frank Black, but now the cat’s looking affronted. I should have known she’d be a Black Francis purist.
Mar 30: Scraggly-bearded teen reading Vonnegut on the train,I’m glad they’re still making your type. Carry on,young sir.There are good things ahead.
Mar 22: If you really loved me, you would buy me this taxidermied vulture:
Mar 14: Early coop shift right after DST? This is some bleary-eyed suckage right here.
Mar 11: Either I just walked through a crowd of LDS mission kids or Brooklyn youth is trending disturbingly wholesome.
Feb 19: Tried to convince my mom that ‘clodhop’ is a valid Scrabble word (singular action of a clodhopper). Alas, she’s known me a while.
Feb 3: There are very few things I dislike about apartment living, but here’s one: I can’t have a really big trampoline.
Jan 31: Copy editing tip of the day: ‘heart rendering’ means something completely different, and far smellier, than ‘heart-rending.’
Jan 10: Was excited to see ‘gypsy butler’ in a book review, imagined zesty Mr. Belvedere reboot. Alas, heroine’s name was Gypsy Butler.
Dec 22: I’m in Vermont, having a glass of wine at the bar of my brother’s restaurant. And it’s snowing. I WIN AT WEDNESDAY.
Dec 21: Dear CNN, please rethink how you define breaking news. WTF? RT @cnnbrk ZsaZsa Gabor’s husband accidentally glues eye shut with nail adhesive
Dec 15: OH on the G train: “Statue of Liberty? Lucifer. The torch symbolizes the devil.” “I thought it was just some tourist shit.”
Dec 1: Fact:A disproportionately high percentage of women in my office associate drugstore chocolate-covered cherries w fond memories of their dads.
Nov 25 (Thanksgiving): Today I’m grateful for my flaws and problems, for keeping me humble and helping me be more compassionate, flexible, human.
Nov 18: I just saw that one episode of Breaking Bad, so am willing to concede that I don’t know everything about making meth…
Nov 18: …but I’m pretty sure that the one box of cold medicine I buy every other year isn’t going to get me far, weirdly suspicious pharmacist.
Nov 11: I just heard an old man say he “doesn’t enjoy the feeling of hot liquids in [his] mouth” & didn’t burst out laughing. I think I’m broken.
Nov 5: I don’t know why people are so surprised that I, a non-smoker, always carry matches. It’s almost like they never need to start fires.
Nov 4: A romance site that doesn’t pay its writers sent a 2-line email asking me to”send out an announcement”about them. Consider it done, assholes.
Oct 25: Another fourth Monday, another contact butter high from stocking croissants at the @foodcoop.
Oct 22: Today in inadvertently dirty comments, I just told the bloodmobile guy that he was the gentlest finger-sticker I’d ever had.
Sep 16: Hey, I WAS just flying into Chicago at night, watching the lake turn the sky into blue-green smoke. #lifeimitatesLizPhairlyrics
Sep 15: Oh, Brooklyn, never change. Actually heard a guy yell, “Where’d ya get your license, a Cracker Jack box?” on my walk to work.
Aug 27: Just had a scary little moment there where I honestly couldn’t remember if ‘preparedness’ is a real word. #stillsoundsmadeup
Aug 26: .@ruhlman on green peppers, most detestable of all veg: “only one way to redeem them. Stuff them w sausage & cook them over fire, angrily.”
Aug 24: Just mistyped “Waking the Dead” as “Wanking the Dead.” That’s…a different book.
Aug 11: So, The Girl Who Played With Fire finally picked up some speed on page 707. Fuck you, Stieg Larsson.
Aug 2: If I really did have a web series about my office acted out with finger puppets, today’s episode would be amazing.
Jul 31: Skipping the Sonic Youth show tonight in favor of amateur astronomers’ event. My life is like an object lesson in how not to have sex.
Jul 30: Just made a Super Nintendo Chalmers joke that no one in the office got. My dorkiness is wasted on these people. WASTED, I say.

Catching up: a list

1. I have new glasses!
A little over a month ago, I went to my (fabulous) eye doctor and learned that something was rotten with the state of my inner eyelids. There was … texture where there should be only smoothness. So I wasn’t allowed to wear my contacts for about a month and had to deal with glasses that were several prescription updates out of date. Like, I couldn’t read street signs unless I was standing right under them. I had a lot of awkward moments at a professional conference when I literally had no idea who was talking to me or waving at me or, worse, trying to get my attention from more than an arm’s length away and thinking I was ignoring them. It was a blurry, dreamlike month and one I’m not particularly interested in repeating. Happily, my strict adherence to my regime of several kinds of eyedrops administered many, many times a day has cleared things up enough that I’m back in contacts again, but not all day and not every day. So, since they’re a big part of my life again, I figured I’d get some new glasses. I had heard good things about Classic Specs and I really like the direct-to-consumer approach they take. I went to the Brooklyn Flea a few weeks ago to try on the frames in person and ended up ordering two:I’m really happy with the glasses themselves and with the Classic Specs guys. They comped the surcharge for the high-octane lenses I require on one of the pairs, an unnecessary nicety, since they were having trouble with their fax and I had to send my prescription through twice. Being able to try stuff on in person was great, especially since the two I ended up ordering weren’t ones I was originally considering. I think they arrived within a week of placing the order. And you can’t beat the price; I took my vintage frames to an optician near work to have the lenses changed out and it’s costing me more for that than for two pairs of frames WITH lenses and one special-lenses-for-the-blind-girl fee.

2. I made this pizza and it was delicious.

3. I saw Jason Schwartzman on the street today. He looks like every other dude in Brooklyn and only caught my eye because he was wearing a weirdly gigantic windbreaker.

4. The crabapples are blooming! This is my favorite shade of pink.

5. I’ve been knitting. I’m almost done with Buttercup.It’s a pretty straightforward knit and the only things I’m changing are crocheting around the neck instead of picking up and knitting (tried, was either too loose and floppy or too tight) and doing a hemmed lower edge instead of whatever the pattern calls for. That’ll help weigh it down and drape nicely, as well as look tidier. The yarn is three strands of laceweight held together: two of the burgandy cashmere/silk and one black merino. So it’s a little tweedy, a little shiny, very soft. It’ll be superdreamy once I wash all of the spinning oils out. I don’t know how much wear I’ll actually get out of this, since I don’t really like handknits when it’s warm enough for short sleeves, but it would work under a jacket or cardigan when it’s cooler and it’s flattering and was a good use for this yarn, which I’ve had kicking around for a really long time.

I’m also working on a pretty dull stockinette scarf in the most fabulous ombre yarn EVAH.It’s slow going, but the end result will be lovely. My plan is to block it as hard as I can to make it as drapy as possible. I tried it out in a couple of other patterns, but when I thought about ombre items I want to wear, realized that I’d just prefer it as a large stockinette rectangle.