Monday, May 30, 2011

One of the Happiest Days

This is how my day began: sunshine, grapes, flip-flops, bags, and my camera. In many ways, this photo feels like a self-portrait, and the name of that portrait is "Happy Summer!" (And as a side note, you may be wondering if I made that blanket that sports my very own name. The answer is this: no. But someone at my ex-boyfriend's church did. This was given to me by a boyfriend when I was 15 year's old, and when you open up the blanket fully, it does indeed say "Chad + Liana." Why have I held onto it all these years, you may be wondering. Um...wouldn't you? It's amazing! Though Robb, admittedly, doesn't love to use it for picnics.)

For the last few years, I've had a series of truly excellent Memorial Day weekends. What is it about Memorial Day? In my twenties, it seemed that 4th of July was the magical holiday, but no longer...Memorial Day is the new fave. It seems to always be the first truly hot weekend of summer, and I LOVE hot weather. Even hot, humid weather. Especially at night. It's my thing. Additionally,  for three-years running, Memorial Day weekend has been when Robb and I finally set out the plants in the yard. I have a three-day weekend, the ground is nice and hot, and the timing is perfect for putting the tomato and pepper plants in the ground. 
This year was a triple whammy of awesomeness because our friend Julie decided to host a rock and roll party on the roof of her apartment building. So we all assembled around 5 or so and basked in the golden light. I brought a refrigerated bag full of ice, bottles of champagne, and homemade syrups--peach/mint and lemon/ginger--so we could mix up some flavored champagne spritzers (and boy did those go down nice). But my favorite thing was the people who came wearing their HeyAllday Handmade items! Here's Tessa above wearing the fabric hair flowers I sold at last week's bazaar. 
And Jess sported her bright polka dot turban along with her fabulous white shift dress. (Ryan, in the background, clearly thinks something is hilarious...I don't think he's laughing at the turban, though.)
I also brought some turbans with me, knowing that many of my cutey cute girlfriends would be at the show, and begged them to model turbans for me so that I can put them up on Etsy. Here's Christy, above, in the midst of a golden sunburst!
And here's lovely Tessa trying not to laugh. Or do something otherwise awful or strange with her face. (Much like me, she is the type of person who sees a camera and goes immediately cross-eyed on purpose.)
And Christy, of course, made my day by then BUYING the turban that she so graciously modeled. Who needs Etsy, right? Just ask people to try on your wares, show them how gorgeous they look in it, and boom: the item is sold! (For realsy reals, though, thank you Christy!)
After all of that modeling, the sun started to set and Monogold began to play. But only after the police came and Julie and Lindsay talked them into letting the band go on until 9. (Yay Julie and Lindsay!)
The crowds gathered around and were properly Williamsburged out. (Look at how fiercely this guy is looking at me! I believe he was wearing black floral pants and was wearing a tiny leather backpack...seriously, the fashion at this party was amazing.)
 And then the sky did this...
And the skyline did this. And as the band played, we danced and danced and all realized as a collective group that this was perhaps the most fun we'd ever had.
The night could have ended there, but of course it didn't. Which leads me to the final turban cameo of the evening: At karaoke, draped around Ryan's neck while he sings Prince's "Kiss" in the most surprisingly perfect falsetto I've ever heard. The turban really brought out his inner Prince, don't you think?

Here's hoping you too have had an excellent excellent Memorial Day weekend. Summer is here. Things are good.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Birds, Bees, Fruit Trees & Tiny Carrots

Friends, a miracle has happened:  Our fruit trees are bearing fruit! Isn't it amazing???

Okay, if you have been diligently reading every post in this blog over the last year, you might understand why this is so incredible. For those who have not been following along, I will recap: The fall before last, Robb called me up at work and said that he had just bought a couple of fruit trees. Nevermind that it was nearly winter and you are supposed to plant trees in the spring. Nevermind that we rent our apartment and our landlady still has no idea (I don't think) that we have planted two trees in the yard. Nevermind any of it. Robb bought an apple tree and a cherry tree, and he somehow got them home. We lowered them into the ground on a chilly late October Saturday and sort of crossed our fingers that we'd done it right.

Last summer, the trees grew leaves, so we knew we'd done something right! But alas, no fruit. After doing a little bit of research, we learned that fruit trees need to pollinate with other fruit trees of their species. So, like, you should buy two apples trees and plant them near each other. And if you don't (the informative books and websites cautioned), then your tree will never bear fruit! And so, since we had no idea if any neighbors have apple or cherry trees, we assumed that ours would be fruitless trees. No apple pies. No cherries on top. Nothing!
So it was quite a surprise when I went outside yesterday morning and looked up to find these tiny little apples growing in one of the trees! I actually made a little audible gasp, which was very awkward because I was brushing my teeth at the time. (It's my habit every morning to walk around the yard for two minutes while my Sonicare does the work.) I ran inside, spit out the toothpaste, and then ran back out with the camera. Amazing! After ogling the olive-sized apples, I then went to the cherry tree, not daring to get my hopes up.
But lo and behold, the cherry tree had little nubbins on them that look like they want to become cherries! Do you see? Bright red little pairs that the ants keep crawling over (you can see one of the ants in the background, out of focus, nibbling on a cherry nub like a total jerk.) Still amazing!

But the best part of the story is this: Later in the day, while talking to Robb, he confessed to me that he might be the reason why the trees pollinated. When they were both flowering a month or so ago, he picked flowers off of each tree and rubbed them on the flowers from the opposite tree. That's right, he played GOD with our backyard! (I particularly love that he did not tell me he did this and probably wouldn't have told me if the fruit trees hadn't start fruiting.)

So, it is entirely possible that Robb and his bee-like ways made this magic happen. Or maybe that's impossible and it wasn't his doing at all. Either which way, FRUIT IS HAPPENING! 

Can you tell I'm excited?
Because I can tell that you're jealous and you think I'm being braggy, I will also share with you a story of this lone carrot. It is actually a survivor from last year's crop. We thought we'd picked them all last autumn, but then we saw the tell-tale carrot fronds and thick stalk of this one growing right up in the middle of our flower patch. Considering how big the plant had grown and how long it's been in the ground, we assumed it was going to be a monster! 
Well, last night we dug it up. And if you can tell by the scale of my fingers to the scale of this carrot, it's, um, well it's hardly a meal.  So...we haven't quite figured out carrots. But look at the pretty color! At least there's that.
And finally, for absolutely no reason, here is a photo of a hydrangea forming in the corner of our yard. Isn't it pretty and delicate and green? Oh backyard, so full of life. You make me forget there is a dreadful thing called winter that is a yin to this delightful yang.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bazaar Update and Potato Report

Pretty turbans, all in a row.
Friends! It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks, including moments of fatigue, threats of rain, and a plague of messiness upon my house the likes of which I don't think I've ever seen. But guess what? It all turned out okay in the end. On Saturday morning, I woke to sunshine firing through my windows. I grabbed my bag full of totes, turbans, and many varieties of flower (both live and fabric) and headed off to the bazaar. I wasn't sure if we were going to be outside or not--there was, after all, still a 30 percent chance of rain. But when I arrived, Shana pointed me to my shiny red table out in the backyard. And oh my God did we have sun. We had two week's worth of May sun, in fact, shining down on us. I texted Nicole, who was en route, with the urgent request: BRING SUNBLOCK. And once we were slathered in SPF 50, we simply hung out, sipped white wine spritzers, and mingled with whomever came along, be they friend or stranger.
Nicole showed up in a killer teal onesie, and when she stood behind the table she instantly gave the HeyAllday Handmade line extra fashion cred. It is important to note, however, that about 20 minutes after this photo was taken, Nicole found ANOTHER onesie at the vintage booth behind us. Picture it: All denim, top to bottom, tank top styling, orange leather detailing, full length flared pants. When she eventually borrowed a gigantic Tommy Bahama straw hat, I told her that she looked like an actual nacho. Like, she was a delicious tortilla chip, topped with cheese. It was crazy. So, Nicole is officially the one person I know who can show up in one killer onesie and leave in another. This is quite a talent!

I kept it simple with my white flouncy tank, but it was so freaking hot in the sun that I did need to put my hair up in one of the turbans. And guess who owns that turban now? Me. You sweat profusely in it, you own it. Know what I mean?
One of my favorite parts of the day was talking with customers and asking them if they wanted a flower or two in their hair. I brought along a bunch of clips and bobby pins for this very purpose in fact! It was sort of funny. One minute you're making small talk with a stranger who's vaguely checking out a turban. And then I would ask them, "would you like a flower in your hair?" And they'd look at me kind of like I was crazy, and then after a few seconds they'd go, "Sure!" And after that, we'd be chattering away like old girlfriends. When I told this to Jess at some point during the day, she asked me, "But do you think that these people find it creepy you want to put something in their hair?" "No!" I said, stating my case about it being the perfect girly ice breaker. But, well, now that I'm no longer in the moment, I guess Jess might have a point. Well, for anyone who received a hair flower on Saturday and thought it verged on creepy, I will just go ahead and apologize now. It's just my hippie side coming through. Totally harmless, I swear.
And finally, because it wouldn't be a Knit Yourself Pretty blog post without some sort of non sequitur, I thought I'd give you a potato plant update. So remember how I told everyone how to plant potatoes a few weeks back? And I advised you to just keep filling up your container with a few inches of dirt when you see the tubers coming up through the soil? And then I told you to stop when the container is three-quarters full and let the plant grow? Well, I screwed up. I accidentally let the plant grow too early. Oopsies! In my defense, we were out of soil, and when you don't have a car, running out to get soil involves things like a laundry cart, and a person with muscles. So, in the photo above, this is what the potato plant looked like last weekend.
I then covered it with more dirt a few days ago, but the plant part just keeps growing and growing and growing! So today I filled it up with dirt to the three-quarter mark, just sort of burying the plant in soil, and, well, we'll see what happens. It is all a great experiment!

Speaking of great experiments, I also just gave myself highlights. No, really! Just like half an hour ago. I got some hair dye like a shade lighter than my hair, and I applied it in streaks here and there with a toothbrush. I would tell you how it went, but it's still wet. So who knows? Anyway, it's been a very DIY weekend, with everything from turbans to potatoes to "Natural Instincts" hair dye. This seems to be a theme in my life: glamour meets experimental meets ridiculous. With extra potatoes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Backyard Bazaar - Saturday, May 21

Click on the postcard to see it bigger, K?

Hope to see you tomorrow at the In God We Trust Bazaar in Greenpoint! I'll be selling all sorts of bags--big and small--plus lots of stuff to put on your head, like turbans, headbands, and flowery hair clips. So if you live in Brooklyn, stop on by. And if you live somewhere else, you can always stop by The HeyAllday Handmade shop, which is open 24/7.

Love from me and my dinosaur mascot! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New HeyAllday Handmade Goodies!

Friends! I am so excited to share with a sneak peek of my latest HeyAllday Handmade creations. I must say, I feel like I'm in "the zone." For the past two weeks I've kicked my crafting into high gear, filling out a collection to sell at this Saturday's In God We Trust Backyard Bazaar. The bazaar will feature handmade and vintage goodies from 15 vendors, with food, music, drinks, sunshine, unicorns, you name it. I had a good bit of stock ready to sell at the event, but I REALLY wanted to create a batch of springtime turbans to sell. So I set myself a personal challenge two weeks ago, and I have been sew-sew-sewing just about every spare moment since then. The result? 13 turbans, 12 new stuff bags (the grocery bags that stuff down into smaller bags that you can carry in your purse), and a couple of giant beach bags.

(I would also like to note that in the photo above, my original intent was to hold my turbans just like PeeWee does in PeeWee's Big Adventure when he rescues the snakes from the flaming pet store. Unfortunately, the photos of me doing that are far more insane than the photo of PeeWee shown here, so I didn't post them. Just imagine, k?) 

As insane as it has been to work at this speed, I feel like I do some of my best work under pressure. I become completely immersed in the collection. Fabrics start to go together, and I just lay everything out on the floor for days and wander around wondering what this or that will become. (Robb REALLY loves it when I'm inspired...nothing says "home" like a living room strewn with fabrics, right?)

One of my favorite inspired moments was finally figuring out what the hell to do with the giant embroidered seahorse I've been sitting on for years. Tara, Robb's cousin, gave me a pair of pants about two years ago that featured this giant seahorse embroidered along one leg. I've always figured that I would turn it into something, but I had no idea what. (My best idea so far had been to iron it onto the back of a denim jacket and start a seahorse gang.) Then, at the end of a day-long frenzy of sewing last Saturday, I figured out what the seahorse should become: a beach bag, of course! Shown above is the finished product, matched with a cheerful beachy flower print.

So here's the deal. I recognize that this bag is sort of insane. And, in fact, I'm beginning to understand that my whole collection is sort of insane. But I'm okay with that. The HeyAllday Handmade brand is not geared toward your typical neutral-shades girl. It's about color, whimsy, fun, glamour. Almost everything I make is an accent piece, something to bring your outfit to life. Something to wear on a rainy day that will make you feel a little less blah. And I like that. With each bag I make or turban I assemble, I feel like I'm further defining my mission statement.

So if anyone knows where I can find more pants with embroidered creatures, just let know, ok?

And most importantly, hope to see you this Saturday, May 21, in the backyard of In God We Trust:

Saturday, May 21 ·  12:00pm - 8:00pm
In God We Trust
70 Greenpoint Ave
Brooklyn, New York

Friday, May 13, 2011

What's In the Bag?

So here's the deal: yesterday I posted a totally kick-ass post about how much I love old books and how to determine which of your old books are worth something and which ones you can feel okay about cutting up and crafting with. I even got philosophical, which took some major energy. But then something happened with Blogger and it was "down" for awhile so you couldn't see the post. And then the post came back! (YAY!) But now it has disappeared. Like FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH. And I just can't bring myself to recreate the philopophical mood I was in yesterday. So guess what? I'm gonna do the opposite! This here is my answer to Blogger killing my spirit. It's called "What's In the Bag?" And it's probably the lamest blog post ever but I DON'T CARE.

Today I went to the farmer's market with Jess and her little dog Mister. We both work near Union Square, so we've decided we're going to make weekly dates to meander through the market, chit-chat, gossip, and gripe, and hopefully buy some new exotic veggie to experiment with at home. So what was in my bag today?
Chevre! This is some pure goat cheese chevre, lightly salted, and you know that the second I got back to the office I pried off the lid and began eating it with a spoon. Tangy and exquisite. Yum! You know what I'm gonna eat the chevre with?
Broccoli rabe! I have never actually cooked broccoli rabe before so this will be very exciting. I've got some fresh pasta at home, so I'm thinking a little goat cheesy garlicky pasta for a carbo-riffic Friday night.
Know what else we got? Dutch pretzels! I have to say, though, they were a little overly salty. Those Pennsylvania Dutch must be so thirsty all the time, cuz I know that I am very thirsty after eating just one of these this afternoon!

And thus concludes the first installment of my new feature: What's in the Bag? I'm thinking that this is now going to happen every week this summer. Let it be both something for you to mock AND something to inspire you to stop by your local farmer's market. Right?

Also, eff you Blogger! I made the most out of it anyway so you can suck it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


About two weeks ago, I set out to make a project from a book that I edited. It's called The Repurposed Library, and it's all about using old books that are falling apart and no one wants anymore and turning them into new projects. Like chandeliers and shelves and stash boxes, and artsy stuff like "book-mobiles" (i.e., hanging mobiles made from books). Honestly, there is some really really cool stuff in this book. Click here to see a gallery of some of the projects.

I decided that I would make the Sewing Box...where you cut out the interior pages of the book and cut down some balsa wood to make "compartments" for all of your little sewing goodies, and then you hot glue the whole thing together. I set out after work one day to find the right book to cut up and use for my sewing box, but finding the right book turned out to be much harder than I thought. I learned something about myself that day: I am very in love with books!
Lisa Occhipinti, the author of The Repurposed Library, gives us ample information about which books are ideal for cutting up and which ones you should leave as is. And honestly, I love the idea of doing something cool with the botany photos from an old, outdated encyclopedia that is sitting on a dusty shelf in the basement of a library. But when I went out to find my book, I ran into some problems. Namely, I kept buying books that had value! And not just monetary value...I mean sentimental value, or this-is-too-pretty-to-cut-up value, or this-is-too-freaking-cool-for-words value. Or maybe I just have a disapproving old librarian who has taken up residence in my psyche? (By the way, if I had a guardian angel, it would totally be a disapproving librarian.)
So here are a few of the books that I bought and simply could not cut up. Published in 1900, this one seems to be a first trade printing. Will I ever read the book? Probably not. But the cover design and the gilt lettering are so very sweet. Not to mention that on, there are copies of this book listed for between $50 and $100. Clearly I need to take it to a rare book dealer to find out what the heck I actually have, but in the meantime, I like the idea of having a 111 year old book in my house. We've become fast friends.
The same day I bought To Have and To Hold, I bought this book called Modern French Decoration. On the subway ride home, I had already decided that I could never ever cut up this book. Published in 1930, it's full of black-and-white photos of art deco-style home decor. When I got home and did some research, I learned that it is one of the first studies of art deco--as in, before it was called art deco--and is considered to be an authoritative reference on the topic. Not to mention it was written by a woman, which is pretty awesome for that time. It's probably in the $30 range (though it could be as much as $150 if it's a 1st edition). Too cool!
But know what? It gets cooler! As I was flipping through the book, I found a clipping tucked between two of the pages: A living room set up that the former owner clearly found inspiring.
On the backside of the clipping was text from the newspaper where it came from, referencing The New Deal. Yes, as in the series of economic programs implemented by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the President at that time. I'm not gonna lie. I nearly peed my pants when I found this.
But guess what? I'm not done yet! On the very last page of this lovely French decor book was the sweetest thing I've ever seen: a sketch of a room. A humble sketch from an earnest amateur designer, someone who wanted to French-i-fy her home in the 1930s and was just starting to feel out her ideas. Don't you want to know how her home decor project turned out? What was her story? Where did she live?

Oh! I love the many lives that books lead, the hands they get passed through. That's just the thing...I always get the sense when I pick up a used book that there is some sort of energy running through it, like you can feel that someone has held this book and felt something, thought something, been inspired (or maybe even annoyed or bored.) But to have a sketch like this is priceless. It's testament to the book's former life. It's physical manifestation of a human that was inspired.
Finally, one of favorite finds on my book hunt was this one, called The Pilot. A special edition printed in 1968, I picked up this book primarily because of its clean white canvas cover and bold wood-blocked sailboat. To my immense happiness, I found more of these wood-block prints throughout the book. Of spooky trees and distant sailboats....
And of raging storms and turbulent green water....
Yet again, I found that this book could be worth some serious cash-ola, but I kind of like having the images all together as a collection in a crisp white cover. (Though wouldn't these be pretty framed all together on a wall?
Alas, I did finally find a book that I felt okay about cutting up! A 1955 Reader's Digest Condensed Book, which (to my judgmental editor's mind) is just bastardized literature anyway. Okay, okay, I'm being mom did say to me that she always found them to be "a quick, fun read!" But seeing as these are plentiful and are not exactly being read much these days--and most importantly, have vibrantly printed hard cover cases--I thought it would be an excellent cutter-upper.

So I turned it into a sewing box.

I do hope you have enjoyed my little tour of magical old books! I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started shopping, and now I look at old books in a completely different way. Look at how much I learned? How much I pondered humanity? The beauty of old books versus the cold plastic of an e-reader? The feeling that we are all keepers of vast libraries where we share books with the dead and with generations yet to be born? Pretty cool stuff, in my opinion.

Alas, if you have an old book and want to know if it's worth something, go to and play around with their search engine. You will likely get lost for hours, as I have, but you'll feel like a real smarty-pants nerd when all is said and done.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Best Garden EVER!

So, I don't really want to brag or anything. And I certainly don't want to tempt fate. But our garden this year RULES. And it's only May! To be truthful, there is like nearly nothing going on in our garden at this point in time...well, except for these completely AWESOME tulips. And all of the other pretty stuff down below. But we are just getting started, and oh ho, I can see the potential!

This year marks our third year in this house with this yard. Or, more to the point, this is our third year as gardeners. Our first year, we got a bunch of books and vigilantly read seed packets. We cringed each time we had to thin a plant ("But that's a future tomato! I don't want to thin the plant down to one strong stalk!") But we got tougher and smarter. We learned about how you should stake a tomato plant BEFORE it gets unwieldy and huge, and we also learned that artichokes will not, under any circumstances, grow in the heat of a Brooklyn summer.

The following year we got married, so while we did plant a garden, we didn't really tend to it at all, and it became the most chaotic mess I've ever seen. An epidemic of a vine called purple bells crawled over every square inch of the yard, which was pretty in the morning when the flowers were open. But, um, wasn't exactly what we intended. To revisit last year's glorious disaster, click here (you'll need to skip past the GIANT cucumbers).

 But this year, we're already doing things better than EVER. Our smartest choice so far has been to not plant all of our flowers from seeds. Instead, we went out to the nursery like normal people and bought flowers that are already flowers. Look! Insta-pretty! We got a ton of dahlias and marigolds and things like that, and now we will be able to tell which are the flower plants and which are the weeds. (That, incidentally, was our number one problem with growing flowers from seed. Everything looks like a weed when it's little!)
The buds on our apple tree (or possibly cherry tree) opened up into these ecstatic white blossoms. The tree is now in its second summer and it is starting to fill out and  look a little bit less wimpy. Well, except for the flowers, of course.
Our tulips are fresh and dewy. (Actually, that's water from the hose. But isn't it nice to think of it covered in morning dew drops?) And behind those tulips is our broccoli plant that came back to life after winter, and which we then let go to seed by accident. (Note to self: eat broccoli quickly.) So what's the deal with broccoli anyway? Is it a perennial, or are we just lucky? Anyone?
 And as an amazing stroke of fortune, our double tulip came back! This tulip made a miraculous appearance last year. ( I believe I described it as a daffodil giving birth to another daffodil.) But what I didn't know is that it must be a genetic thing in the bulb. So, like, as long as I keep this bulb in the ground, it will always come up as a double daffodil. Isn't that fun? I mean, it's like having an old friend...who lives in your yard, in the ground,  and comes out to see you like once a year. Ok, this is starting to sound a little creepy. You know what I mean, though.
Speaking of creepy, we're also growing potatoes this year! A new adventure! I actually first learned about growing potatoes while editing the to-be-published totally amazing book The Bust DIY Guide to Life (in bookstores, fall 2011). I could not believe that the sack of creepy looking old potatoes in my pantry that I've been trying not to think about for the last 6 to 8 weeks can actually be turned into a potato plant. But it's true!
So here's what you do. You get out those creepy old potatoes, with their gnarly tubers and erupting buds, and you cut them up into chunks with at least one tuber/ nub per chunk. Then you fill a bucket or pot (something with drainage holes...we used this old wooden basket) with a few inches of dirt, toss in your potato chunks, and then cover it all with a few more inches of dirt. For the next month or two, keep piling on a few more inches of dirt every week or so, each time a tuber peeks through the soil. When the container is about three-quarters full with dirt, let the plant grow. It's supposed to be pretty! Then in the fall, you can start digging for taters. Supposedly, the top part of the bucket will have the smaller fingerling taters, and the ones on the bottom will be big. Weird, right? You should try it! This is the time to plant them if you want to join me in this adventure.
But to take this back to a classy place, I'd like to leave you with this image of a tulip. Orangey-red tulips are my absolute favorite, and somehow this year, this is the only one. Which makes it, well, a little special. So I hope you enjoy this little peek inside of the one pretty orangey-red tulip. And I also hope you have enjoyed this little peek inside of my backyard. I'm sort of smitten (if you couldn't tell.)