Friday, December 31, 2010

Beach, Bags, Reflections, and Sunsets

Robb and I spent Christmas in Southern California with my was a longer trip than was expected, but that turned out to be just fine. Robb was supposed to head back to Brooklyn on Sunday and wound up having to stay until Wednesday...poor guy, stuck with the crazy inlaws, right? To make our delay a little more fun, I declared that Monday should be spent doing something insanely Californian. So we woke up, drove Las Virgenes Highway down to the beach, ate some seafood from a shack while heating up in the sun, then drove down to Leo Carrillo to look at the tide pools (which we couldn't find due to high tide), watch surfers, skip stones, feel the cold water wash over our feet and suck our heels deeper into the sand. As the sun set, we drove through Topanga Canyon, stopped at thrift shops, and bought Robb a brand new pair of cowboy boots from the Boot Barn in Canoga Park. That night, we ate Wood Ranch Barbeque. Not too shabby, SoCal!

On the way to the airport the next day (another failed attempt at getting back to Brooklyn), we stopped at the beach again and took photos of my new batch of HeyAllday bags! You can check them out in my Etsy shop. I know I know...I'm a terrible business person. Where were these bags during the Christmas rush? Well...I didn't quite get around to photographing them. Sorry! But you know what? I'm not gonna beat myself up about it too much. In 2010 I accomplished two creative things I've always wanted to do but have been too overwhelmed to begin: I started a blog and I started an Etsy shop. At some point in the process, it became clear to me that neither of these ventures are about money or fame. They are about me sitting down to write a couple times a week; photographing anything and everything that I find beautiful (or hilarious); putting together a collection and noticing what I am drawn to; reaching out to friends and family to show them what I've done, and sometimes even showing the world what they've done. So I missed the Christmas's the least of my worries. For now, I'm daydreaming of spring and the kerchief headbands that I want to create and the people I want to meet and more In God We Trust backyard bazaars and a trip to Mexico that will likely influence my preferred color palette for the next year. A lot to look forward to, my friends. Thanks for following along this much more to come!

And finally, a sunset snap from the 23 Freeway in Thousand Oaks. The silhouette of this landscape is so familiar. I could probably draw its lines with my eyes closed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cranberry Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich

If you've ever hosted Thanksgiving, then you know that cranberry sauce is something that absolutely, no excuses, must be present on the table. However, even the greatest cranberry sauce enthusiasts only need a mere spoonful to go with their turkey. Hence, most people wind up with a disproportionatley large amount of cranberry sauce left over after T-Day dinner. If your sauce was splooged out of a can, then no love lost...straight into the trash it goes. But if your sauce was hand-crafted by your dear friend (as was the case with Julie's scrumptious cranberry sauce this year), you think twice before you toss it in the bin. And in our case, you get creative.

About two weeks after Thanksgiving, I spotted the tupperware in the back of the fridge holding said sauce, and the idea came to me in a flash: ICE CREAM! We pulled out the ice cream maker, ran to the store for heavy cream, and whipped up one of the most delectable ice cream flavors you've never had. The orange notes really came through, and the berries became like little sour cherries. Best of all, in each bite are those wintry spices like cloves and nutmeg, making this a true winter ice cream.

Since all of the Thanksgiving pies were long gone, instead we made cookies to go with the ice cream: oatmeal chocolate chip. We baked them just a minute longer than you should so they'd be nice and crispy, then piled some softened ice cream on top. Put another cookie on top, smoosh it down, and you've got yourself a mighty fine high-calorie holiday snack.

OMG, try this at home, people. For serious. And Julie, get your butt over here so I can make you one of these ASAP!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Craft Fair Debut

So I participated in a holiday bazaar! And I WON! Okay okay, there were no "winners." But the point is, I did not at the end of the day feel like a big loser. And that is a really good thing.

The bazaar took place in the back-room studio of my friend Shana's Greenpoint shop, In God We Trust. She is such a fireball of energy and awesomeness and great taste. The epically tall walls of the studio are covered in artwork and other curious decorations, which passerbys would admire with a museum-crawl slow walk as they perused the booths. My booth was planted right next to the booth for Shana's home shop (of which I wanted to buy 90% of the inventory, including a jadeite juicer and a horse head hook, which I DID buy). I asked the guy manning the booth if Shana has minions running around the Connecticut countryside buying up all of the cool antiques for her shops, and he tells me that she pretty much does all of it herself. At around noon, I watched Shana--all 100 pounds of her--lift a table and drag it across the courtyard with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. And then my friend Morgan tells me about the drywall she pretty much single-handedly installed in their studio when they lived together. Basically, she is a force to be reckoned with, and I was honored to be part of her energy and her clique of crafters.

I brought in my fresh-from-the-printer HeyAllday Handmade business cards, and displayed them on the cross-stitched tablecloth that Aunt Ginny and Uncle Chuck gave me and Robb as a wedding gift. We were so terrified about people spilling mulled wine on the tablecloth, however, that we just used it as a runner and gave people dirty looks if they even thought about putting down their glass.

Here was the girl serving up said mulled wine--one of my besties and the greatest bar wench of all time, Morgan. Don't you want to drink glogg served by this girl?

And here are the little grocery-list notebooks that I made at the very last minute. Never have I made something so freaking adorable and yet so poorly constructed. Basically, these are made from cardstock that I covered in glue, then smoothed fabric over. I even went to my new favorite website--This to That--so that I could find out exactly what kind of glue I should use to glue paper to fabric. And then I went home and precisely did not follow those directions. I learned the hard way that wood glue makes light fabrics turn yellow and makes fabric feel downright sharp. The notebooks became free giveaways...given with a wink and an apology. Note to self: perfect by spring.

Speaking of spring, I believe that will be the time for my tote bags to shine. Look at the palette, people! This is clearly a springtime collection. Amazingly, despite the Easter colors, I sold about half of my stock. YAY! The reception was super positive, and overall it was SUCH a fun day. The people were lovely, the offerings were incredible, and I'm now basically addicted to craft fairs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Bazaar Time!

Tomorrow is a big day kids: I'll be setting up camp at the In God We Trust Holiday Bazaar, selling my HeyAllday Handmade wares. We've got a plethora of tote bags, all of which have attached stuff bags so you can cram them down to size and stick them in your purse. Plus, in a moment of absolute crazed crafting last night, I even made a bunch of mini "grocery list" fabric-covered journals. May you never forget to buy the toilet paper ever again!

There will be 12 other vendors of handmade and vintage goodness, food from Roberta's, and FREE cocktails poured by my dear friend Morgan. If you're in Brooklyn, stop on by, won't you?

Saturday, December 11th
12 thru 6pm
In God We Trust
70-72 Greenpoint Ave
(near the corner of Franklin)
Brooklyn, NY 11222

(I am, officially, a bag lady.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Manly Man Knits

Most men I've known in my life are fairly ambivalent about knits...particularly the handknit variety. Like if you make them a hat, that's pretty cool. If you don't, that's fine too. Beyond that, most knitwear for men can really walk the line of being weird/inappropriate/oddly feminine/itchy/hot/ugly. So sometimes it's best to avoid knitting for the men we love. Which is usually fine by the knitter's standards (more time to knit cool stuff for ME!). This is clearly a mutually beneficial arrangement.

But not so with Robb! Since the very beginning, this man has loved my knitting. He begs me to knit him things. I swear to you that he counts the projects I'm making and references how long it's been since I made something for him. ("But your last four projects have been for you...when do I get a sweater??") He is a very odd, very sweet duck. Due to his love of knits, it was no problem at all to get him to put on every knitted thing I've ever made for him at the same time so that I could take a photo and write about it.

The skinny brown scarf is pure cashmere.This is what got him hooked on the knits (he has excellent taste.) Next came the Blue Sky Alpacas chunky scarf, which is probably the most impractical thing I've ever knit for a man. Something like seven skeins later, we realized that it's so chunky he can't even ride a bike while wearing it (it limits his mobility) and it sheds all over his black pea coat like a mo-fo.

The hat came next--from Veronik Avery's Knitting Classic Style--and it is my pride and joy. I don't think I've ever made something for someone that is a better fit for their style and their head. We've nearly lost it several times, including in a wayward shopping cart at Home Depot, but two years later it's still with us, going strong.

The argyle socks (on his hands) are also from Knitting Classic Style. These are gorgeous specimens, though they may be as impractical as the Blue Sky Alpacas's best to handwash the socks so as not to ruin the duplicate-stitch argyle, but who in the world is ever going to handwash socks? Not Robb. And not me. They are "special occasion" socks.
So what's next? Well, last week was Robb's birthday. And we went shopping at Purl Soho. Finally, at last (now that we're married), Robb gets his sweater. He wants a cardigan with raglan sleeves and a zipper, and (gulp) I'll need to make the sweater up from scratch. Terrifying! Fun! Will I keep you updated on this adventure? You betcha.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Defiance of Hat Mockery! my previous post I mentioned the If-Annie-Hall-Shopped-at-Anthropologie hat, perfectly aware that this is a pretty darn grandiose claim. As luck would have it, today in New York City it was raining a gross rainy rain. I pulled on my muck boots, a sweater and some jeans, and on my way out the door grabbed the If-Annie-Hall-Shopped-at-Anthropologie hat. I had a "go get 'em" attitude and a bright red umbrella. Rain could suck it.

On my way home, I stopped off at Robb's bar to surprise him with a quick hello. He and his cousin Tara were the only ones there, and as I crossed the street, I could see them squinting through the window and then erupt into laughter as they realized it was me. I figured they were just happy to see me, but it turns out, they were laughing at the hat. The first words, in fact, that came out of their mouths were "that hat looks FUNNY on you," which I could only sort of hear through muted laughter.

So, my friends, I'm afraid that my Annie Hall hat isn't as cool as I thought it was. BUT, since I promised, I had to show it to you anyway. I like to think that Annie herself had to endure the giggles of her peers and loved ones as she donned a tie and men's trousers for the first time. (Never mind that Annie Hall is a fictional character...don't ruin this for me!) That said, my theme for today is bravery in fashion, silliness, and a love for some things that others don't understand (but that they absolutely under no circumstances can take away).

I also like the hat when it's folded down like this, too. Makes me want a filterless cigarette and a stiff martini.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bags Bags Bags!

I am taking a quick break from sewing to tell you that all I've been doing with my life lately is sewing bags. Bags bags bags! For serious, I'm making a boat load of bags. (Have I mentioned that I'm selling them on Etsy? Check out the current crop here...more to come soon!)

But why so many bags, you ask? Well, I'm going to be selling them at the In God We Trust holiday bazaar on December 11. Me and 12 other sellers will be hawking our handmade wares at their Greenpoint shop at 70 Greenpoint Ave between 11am and 6pm. Fun times! Booze served! We're gonna get you all liquored up so you'll buy a shocking amount of handmade goods! So, I'm sewing up a storm for this event, hoping that HeyAllday bags will be stuffed in stockings everywhere.

In the midst of this, I thought I'd take a moment and show you a couple that I made recently. The fabric design reminds me a heck of a lot of the prints Dwell was doing four or five years ago...that's what you get when you buy recycled linens at the fancy Salvation Army in Chelsea! The bag shown at top is my first go at a two-tone bag. I LOVE this technique...the bottom part of the bag appears to be denim or something, but it's actually a really soft flannel material. The bag below it is pure sheet. (And by sheet, I literally mean sheets...I'm not saying shit in a funny voice.)

These photos were taken on a gorgeous day weekend before last. I love the light Robb was able to get in the photos, but I'm so mad that we didn't get a single shot of the really cute hat I was wearing. It was if Annie Hall shopped at Anthropologie. That is how I felt wearing that hat! We strolled about all afternoon snapping photos, and we managed to capture bags (of course), my big ugly boots, and this photo of me wearing my giant white sunglasses in winter. And HOLDING the hat, of course. Sigh...I promise to wear the hat for all of you sometime soon. Then you can all proceed to mock me for imagining that I have a hat cool enough to say it's what Annie Hall would buy at Anthropologie.

But aren't you excited about the bags?

And finally, for no good reason, here are some leaves. A quick snapshot en route to work on a rainy day. What I love best about this photo is that I managed to capture the toe of my beloved cowboy boots, which in itself looks not unlike a wet leaf.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Hats!

Two Thanksgivings ago, a tradition was born in our household. Or perhaps, if we consider the construction paper toppers of kindergarten, the tradition began many many moons ago and was only rediscovered two years ago. Either which way, at our house we make paper hats on Thanksgiving. Oh, and we've never had a child at our house for the holidays. So, um, these are adult Thanksgiving hats. And we love them!

First of all, no one ever wants to be the pilgrim. In this photo, I am wearing the big chief hat that I made for Robb while Julie sports her young warrior feathers.

Kelly, on the other hand, was sort of born to be a pilgrim, don't you think? I love the way that her yellow band matches her cocktail.

The Thanksgiving hat tradition officially began the year before last when a group of our friends got together to make "decorations" for our feast. For our centerpiece, we wrapped construction paper around this paint can and made a bunch of flower-shaped thingies. It only took about four hours to complete. Totally practical!

The BEST paper craft to come out of our decoration party--and one that is still with us and hopefully will be forever--is Julie's "Horn of Just Enough." Julie went into a sort of quiet netherworld on our crafting night and emerged hours later to present to us her paper cornucopia. She cut out all of these little tiny pieces and taped/glued them inside of a rolled up piece of brown paper. But the best part is, everything is so tiny! All of those little grapes! And are those pickles on the bottom right? Seriously, I could spend hours of amusement looking at this thing.
At our house, Thanksgiving is a fancy affair, and we take our hats seriously. As you can see, when I load up the bread basket on the floor because we're officially out of counter space, I still rock my feathers.

And shouldn't every Thanksgiving involve running off to the bathroom with your girlfriends so that you can all check out your hats together?
No matter what Thanksgiving traditions you have in your household--be they culinary traditions, family football games, or weird hat traditions, like ours--we wish you a very very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Immortality of a Chipotle?

Like most legends of immortality (vampires, Frankenstein's monster, etc.), this tale begins with a "story" that Robb heard: the story of the immortal pepper plant.

You see, Robb has a buddy in Detroit who grew pepper plants in his yard one year, and he decided at the end of the season to dig them up, put them in pots, and keep them in his house over the winter. Apparently, despite the cold and/or the dryness and insufferable heat of the radiator, they lived all winter long. Come springtime, he moved them outdoors again, where they were bigger, more robust, and even spicier than they had been before!

So, with the urgency and high hopes of a gold miner in 1849, we got out the shovel and dug up the pepper plants.

Here is a hole where a pepper plant once was!

Truth be told, it IS November 17, and by all accounts, these plants should be shriveling and dying. And yet, there they were, still producing big scary hot peppers, the leaves still green and robust, the stalks strong and woody. I mean, they're like little decorative trees! So we thought, it's now or never. If we're going to do this experiment, we should do it now, while they're still healthy and happy.

We put one in our living room. (It's big, right?)

And two in our bedroom. (Talk about spicing things up!)

Truth be told, we have no idea if this experiment will work. When we mention the transplant to most people, they give us sort of a pitying look, wondering why we are trying to mess with the natural cycle of life this way. Have we watched Young Frankenstein too many times? I don't know. But come springtime, we'll see who's laughing!

OK, and I know this has nothing to do with the immortality of pepper plants, but right after we dug them up, we also hung this chandelier in our living room. We love it! It was made for us by Robb's dear old friend, Andy Kem. Yes, he MADE this. Isn't that bananas? If you, yourself, would like to check out his amazing handmade light fixtures and furniture, click here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ryan Devlin's Chili Will Make You See God

I love my friends. I love chili. I love dogs. So since Saturday night included all of these things, it was naturally a really awesome night.

For months now, me, Robb, Jess and Ryan have been talking about having a chili cookoff. This was after a series of dinners where we repeatedly tried to injure each other with hot peppers. (The last one involved a late-night "hot pepper tasting contest" at our house where I offered Jess a slice of cheese to cool the burn of a Thai pepper, and she grabbed the whole hunk of mozarella and put it in her mouth like a compress.) Alas, Jess and Ryan decided to host, and Ryan made the declaration that his chili would "make us see God." And boy, did it! Like a total jerk, his chili was hands-down the best. Pictured above, it ruled the chili universe with a smoky chipotle burn that hit you right in the middle of your forehead, and creamy cannellinis that were a textural odyssey in beanery.

Six people brought over their special blend of chili (only five shown here...Mo's crockpot had yet to arrive), and about 20 or 30 of us milled about tasting, talking, critiquing, and dodging the four dogs that ran about like banshees. Best of all, every single chili was totally unique. From Jess's green chili with chicken to Tom's pork-and-bacon chili with a nice garlicky kick, not a single chili was the least bit similar.
These two lovebirds tasted every chili together and jotted down the heat and flavor ranking for each one in order to accurately tally their results. I don't think "appearance" was judged here because, as you may have noticed, chili is not attractive. That is why there is only one photo of people eating chili...this is literally the only somewhat attractive photo I have from the night. So from here on out I'm going to stop showing pictures of chili.
Know what else isn't attractive?Close-up shots of Chris and I eating cornbread. Okay, enough of the gross food shots, let's move on to the main event: puppies!!
Everyone, this is Mister. He is Jess and Ryan's new puppy, and he is so small and wobbly with the biggest eyes ever. Absolutely irresistable!
He also moves very quickly, so it's hard to keep him in focus. But look at his big blurry eyes!
He's cute when people pet him.
And Mister even helped Jess tally the results of the chili cook-off. I guess I should mention that Ryan's chili a mile! (Total jerk.) We tied Tom for second. Good for us!

Here's Sugar, who I interrupted mid-snooze.
And here's Sugar wondering how my camera will taste.
I can't remember the name of this dog, but he was so hilarious and moved so quickly, this is all of the documentation I have. With his bucking bronco antics, he was our entertainment for the evening, for sure. He, and all of the other dogs, and the chili, and the awesome friends that is.

Thanks for hosting, Jess and Ryan!