Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Out with the old, in with the...less old?

Anyone who has seen my fridge, or has relatively known me at all in my 23 years of existence, knows that I have always gone through life with a ever-changing list of goals. It has always been somewhat of a life rule for me. The rule is:

Always have at least 3 goals. These goals can change at any time. Goals that are not completed must be renewed or replaced with new goals. These goals can be short or long term. 

Sure, it is weird, but it keeps me focused. Setting goals helps me realize the path I am on, and where I would like it to lead. I don't stress if I don't accomplish the goals because it helps me see the path I chose to take instead, and reevaluate. I don't think it's a system that works for everyone, but it's my system.

One of my current goals is to have the first edit of my book done by July. I call it "my book" but it is really just a physical copy of all the garbage I wrote down from our trip to Europe in a more eloquent form. I am roughly halfway through my first edit, but the second half is going to be much harder. Once we left Italy, I sort of stopped writing, and that is when some of the best things happened. This project is less of a "wow, I hope I get a book deal!" thing and more of a "I'd like to have something to show for those 4 months" thing. I'd like to hand my grandchildren a book when I am old and grey, and have them read about that time Grandma and Grandpa traveled Europe as youngsters. The problem is that I spend about 9 hours out of the day in front of a computer screen for work, and just about the last thing I ever want to do is use it in my down time. The solution seemed clear to me- get a typewriter. Of course! People used typewriters LONG before computers! What a handy way to make this process fun! I would print out my current pages, manually edit them, and type the edited versions on the typewriter. Perfect! What fun!

Step 1: Acquire typewriter
There was no way I was going to go buy a brand new typewriter- hell, there was no way I was going to spend over $30 for one! I spent about a month checking craigslist, etsy, local shops, just about giving up until my first Saturday at Portland Flea-for-All. Sarah and I had set up our PULP booth, and I immediately had a $30 sale burning in my pocket. "Did you see that typewriter over there? Pretty cool huh?" Jacob asked. Like a whirlwind I jumped out of my seat "Typewriter? Where? What kind? How much?" He couldn't muster more than an extended finger in the direction of the table where it sat. I oogled it for a bit. A sweet teal Coronet XL electric typewriter. It seemed to work great, and it was exactly $30. After a fit of jealous rage, I pretty much bought it out from under another vendor and it was mine. OH such sweet success!
Step 2: Use typewriter
After ordering and subsequently receiving my typewriter ribbon from Ebay, I decided to give my new typewriter a spin. Oh how posh I would feel plunking away, oh the wonderful feel not really working. Typing the alphabet it can usually get to "f" and occasionally to "j" before coming to a complete halt. Not particularly the best feeling. I spent a great deal of time researching old manuals, trying to adjust margins and fiddling around with it with absolutely no success. I finally determined that it would have to wait until I could afford to bring it to a typewriter shop for a tune-up.
(typewriters should not type like this)
Step 3: Giving up
I simply determined that my first draft would not be completed by July. There was no way I would have enough time or money to get the typewriter fixed before then, let alone edit, and more accurately, pull an entire second half of a book out my ass before my goal. Riding in the car, Jacob says, "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that there were about 5 typewriters at Goodwill today." "Let me guess," I replied, "They're all $10?" "No," I sighed relief, "Good because I'd probably lose my shit," "They were $15." Enter me flipping my shit.

Step 4: Redemption
Which brings us to tonight. We went to Goodwill and there was a lovely Smith-Corona. By lovely I mean that it took the same ribbon as mine. By lovely I also mean gross because it is a poopy brown color with sticky goop all over it. I brought it to the wall and plugged it in. I typed all the way across a line, and advanced to the next. It even made a *ping!* at the end of the row! Plus, it had a full ribbon still in it! $15 later, I was home free. Super excited, I brought it home and typed an entire page. The noise could potentially drive my neighbor insane, but I will try to do most of my work when she is away.

A bit of windex to get off all the crusty, goopy mess, and this baby was as good as new! The lesson I learned from all of this was something along the lines of, "just because it is pretty and costs more, doesn't mean it can get the job done," or something like that. One plus side is that I get to be that douche that just had old typewriters hanging around everywhere. Woohoo! More importantly, I might actually get this book done someday.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crazy for Bunting

Our new home certainly has its quirks- that is sort of what I love about it. It's an old house that was converted into two apartments, so although it has it's modern side it definitely has some funk. That funk makes it a little tricky to decorate, but also allows for some really cute options and ideas that a traditional 4-corner room wouldn't have. For example, our bedroom has slanted ceilings as well as two little nooks with bright shiny windows. We decided to turn one of these nooks into Jacob's office, and the other into my knitting corner (which happens to also house our bureau).

I was kind of bummed about the slanted ceilings because it makes it impossible to hang anything. I had come into this apartment really itching to hang all of the art and photos we have acquired over the years. Luckily, these nooks provide for a small amount of flat wall where we are still able to hang a few things. Though despite being flat, these walls are also at a weird angle which severely limits the number of things we can hang without it looking awkward. Do you know what I learned looks awesome regardless of the wall angle? Bunting. If I could hang bunting in every room of my home and get away with it, I would. My fabric bunting hanging in my office area took far too long to make, and honestly if I hadn't already had it from years prior it probably wouldn't be there. I am not the most talented seamstress (and therefore not the most prolific), but I could also use the fact that my craft area is currently overrun with jewelry inventory as the excuse for why my sewing machine will have to maintain its hybernation.

Luckily I have oodles and oodles of scrapbook paper, so I threw together a fabulous paper bunting in about 5 minutes! I was so tickled with how it came out, I thought I would put together a little tutorial in case you, yourself, would like to create some fabulous paper bunting.

We hung it over the bureau as the finishing touch to my little knitting nook. On the bureau is also a collection of paper hydrangeas that Sarah made for our wedding, I will never get over how perfect they look, and they look so beautiful with the rest of the colors in our room. On Saturday we bought a set of funny alphabet blocks from Craig at the Flea-for-All. You might know him as Jordan Jackson J. Fox from outside of Starbucks, or from First Friday Art Walks in Portland. He makes some incredible screenprinted items, but when we visited his booth at Flea-for-All he also had a bunch of vintage (and vintage-esque) items. I couldn't resist these blocks- we sell them at the toy store and I have always thought they were wonderful (Z for Zamboni? L for Litterbox? Yes!)  and unique. It was a wonderful impulse buy, and they look right at home on the bureau next to the flowers and some of my old jewelry boxes. On the wall, we hung an old photo of us taken several years ago (and still one of my favorites!). We have had the print for years, but I honestly don't remember if we ever had it up before. It's nice to have it out, because even if we have had it up in the past it has been at least 2 years since it's seen the light of day.

The bureau sits next to the rocking chair my mom used to have when I was a baby that I have since adopted as my knitting chair. Although my knitting basket is no where near my knitting chair at the moment, it will be in time. I am also hoping to add a little plant stand and maybe some live plants (rather than just my paper flowers) to the room for a little freshness. With one nook down and one more to go, I am excited to see how the rest of our bedroom looks when we are through! Our poor little freecycle-bureau has certainly seen better days, one of my projects just might have to include giving it a new paint job.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Cozy New Vibes

It's been really wonderful living in a place that doesn't make me hate my life. Having been out of the "dungeon" of our last apartment for about a month now, I am finding myself more and more motivated. Our spacious, sun-filled abode has me pinning all sorts of new decorating ideas, hanging photos and art that have been tucked behind our poor excuse of a couch for far too long, and finally purchasing the perfect IKEA furniture goods that I have been drooling over my whole life. Yes, it has been quite nice not looking out of my only window, seeing the remains of our neighbor's groceries strewn across our yard as a poor attempt at what in her mind probably constituted as composting. What this lady did not understand was...well..composting. Throwing your leftover head of lettuce, carrot peels, and coffee grounds over your porch rail and into the sand heap that is our yard does not a compost pile make. If I had been given half the opportunity, I would have built an actual composting spot, filled it with soil and encouraged all our building tenants to contribute to it and create a lovely heap to be used in our garden the next year. This would have to assume that my neighbors 1. had the capacity to think of anyone other than themselves 2. could follow simple guidelines such as what is and is not compostable vs. what is and is not trash and 3. would even have the ability to put said compost matter INTO the compost heap rather than merely throwing it onto the yard. Alas, I was not provided the opportunity for the maddening task, and simply hopped on the one that meant that I could get the hell out of dodge as soon as humanly possible.

Yes, it has been nice living mere mile (yes, singular) from the beach...a nice beach...and quite far from the ruckus of Portland yet close enough still to visit whenever I want, which happens to be frequent. Sunlight peaks in through my windows every morning, less like a creepy creeper and more like an old friend just checking in. It makes for a lovely opportunity to grow as many plants as I am physically capable of maintaining, which is apparently few because I seem to have allowed my gorgeous pink hydrangea to fry rather than bask in the sun as it should.

 My success of the week has been finally forcing myself and Jacob to unpack our final room- the dining room/my office. We didn't really have anything TO unpack, but it was mostly just a tote full of crap and notebooks and CDs and more crap that just needed to find a home. A couple hours, and a bottle of prosecco later, everything had a place and my office finally looked exactly how I wanted it to. That doesn't mean that I won't be doing all of my work from Jacob's Nan's chair in the living room where it is both warmest and most cozy, but it does mean that on that rare day that I do feel inspired to work like a grown-up, I have a specific space with everything I need in an orderly fashion where I will feel on task and ready to work.
The closer we get to summer the more inspired I will get to keep making each room exactly how we'd like it to be. While this apartment is definitely more "us" than any we have lived in the past 4 years, it still has a bit of work before becoming a home. I am hoping that I will write more as it all comes together, especially since I have been spending a lot more time in the kitchen the past month that I did the entire year at our last apartment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Chip Pancakes with Cranberry Topping

Luckily the cold weather has inspired Jacob to become my personal husband-gone-cooking-machine. It's pretty awesome because 1. I have been eating absurdly well and 2. the cooking bug has slightly affected me as well. Mostly in the way where I am mad about making breakfast every morning despite the fail-proof event of my stomach wanting more food an hour later. However, I find it worth the hassle, especially since it is now pumpkin time. Jacob and I have horded an incredible amount of pumpkin puree. You see, we had the full intention of making pumpkin pie from scratch until we realized that I have far too many knitting orders to complete (if you're saying "whaaa?": click here) and not enough time to create 4 glorious, shimmering pumpkin pies and decided to, instead, ingest mass quantities of various other pumpkiny goods.

Know what else November means? Cranberry sauce. You see, I can make as much cranberry sauce as I please because it's literally a 5 minute process- water, sugar, crans, boilboilboil, fridge. It was only a matter of time before we discovered that pairing cranberry sauce with pumpkin pancakes was like almost the same amount of awesome as pairing a shirtless Ryan Gosling with any movie role ever. So we decided to get a little crazy.

I discovered dairy free eggnog at Whole Foods yesterday which went from being potentially the most amazing invention ever to being practically this holidays greatest disappointment. It's made with rice milk (which is great) it sort of tastes like eggnog (which is also great), however, it is the consistency of water and therefore YUCK. We decided to just go wild and make lattes from it to go with the incredible pancake madness that awaited us. This recipe is pretty much awesome- it's pretty thick so once you put the batter down, you have to carefully spread it out. Also, it refrigerates well and lasted us each 3 separate breakfasts. Note: it is dairy free but NOT vegan. It can easily be made vegan if you use egg substitute or some good old flax seeds.

Pumpkin Chip Pancakes with Cranberry Topping
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine. Add chocolate chips.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
  3. Cover with cranberry topping and top with whipped cream substitute of your choice.
Cranberry Topping
12 oz. cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in sauce pot and boil until cranberries are soft and mixture is thick.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winter's Calling

For as long as I can remember I have loathed winter. Even in high school, after learning how to snowboard (and despite loving it), I still could not properly cope with the fact that it was going to be THAT freaking cold for THAT freaking long. When Jake and I planned our trip to Europe last year, many people asked why we were leaving in late September. My answer was always, "because I would like to avoid winter in Maine at all cost." "But you know there will still be winter in Europe, right?" they would retort, to which I would state, "Yes, but at least when I'm freezing in the snow I will be surrounded by something beautiful and new." And it was true.

Last winter, I spent a lot of my time coughing my lungs off with bronchitis, washing dishes, and hanging laundry. However, I also spent a lot of time learning to knit. Probably one of the main reasons I kept my sanity in those wacky, cozy sheds, was the fact that Seona had taught me something useful and creative. Since returning home, I hadn't really felt much urge to continue knitting. In the spring, I made some fingerless gloves for a few friends, knitted a few pairs of baby booties, but I never felt the need to knit like I did in England. Until this fall.

Roughly a week before the wedding it started getting absolutely frigid. I went to the yarn shop and stocked up on yarn, and started in on a couple of projects. This week, however, it has hit me full boar. Not only am I feeling the need to knit, I am feeling the need to knit CONSTANTLY. I daydream about Catherine Hill in Frome, the wool shop in Wells, and I just become so unbelievably depressed. Don't get me wrong, KnitWit is absolutely wonderful, but something about the yarn shops I went to in England - they are a comforting memory, and knitting at home is a way to deal with missing Frome and the Chapmans.

With this knitting compulsion also comes the comforting fact that I want to keep learning. Having had my grandfather's flax wheel in the apartment for 8 months, I am just itching to take spinning lessons. What an amazing coincidence that the lessons are only held on my days off! How odd, that this is the first year in which I am not dreading the Maine winter.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Free Music for Reception

As soon as we set the date, Jacob and I began going through our itunes library to construct our epic wedding playlist. We went through each artist and chose the songs that we felt 1. were lyrically appropriate 2. we absolutely adored 3. were dance-able and 4. were appropriate to the theme of getting married (which is why, sadly, no Adele made it to the playlist). We knew that our reception was only going to be 2 1/2 hours long, but we made sure to have over 3 hours of music to make way for any song skipping, non-groovy choices, or just an unexpected time shift.

Once we chose all the songs, we spent an evening sorting them by priority and which songs we thought transitioned best with one another. We went by the standard of 3 dance songs, 1 slow song alternating. In a separate playlist we placed the songs for our first dance, father/daughter dance, and mother/son dance to be queued after dinner. We chose not to play music during dinner because everyone seemed to be enjoying their conversation, and I didn't think it would be a good idea to drown it out with music. On the day itself, we had our playlists on an ipod, plugged into some speakers that a friend let us borrow. Once the ceremony was over, one of my bridesmaids began the playlist, and we just took it from there- walking out to I Would Do Anything For You by Foster the People. Music was obviously turned off for the speeches, and we had designated certain people to announce different parts of the reception (flower toss, first and last dance, etc).

And that is how we spent $0 on our wedding reception music.

For the precession, our friend Andi Fawcett played a cover of City & Colour's As Much As I Ever Could acoustically. Not only did the timing of our walk to the pavilion from the main building worked perfectly with the verses of the song, it is also one of our favorite songs.