Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Highlights: Discord & Rhyme

I managed to leave the house on Saturday between frenzied bouts of crafting and hurting my back (again).

Lidingö ate my baby

Now that the downstairs bathroom is done, momentum is carrying us straight towards the kitchen. We headed to Ikea to pick out new cabinets. The rest of the necessaries will come from Home Depot.

Hudson Valley Duck with stuffing

We went to dinner at Tastings in Foxboro with friends. They source as much as possible from small local farms and infuse their own liquor, including the bacon bourbon that ended up in a Manhattan at our table.

Lady Gaga on Lips

The rest of the night was spent back at our house, singing karaoke... and ordering midnight pizza when our itty-bitty dinner portions wore off. There may have been voicemail serenades of Hungry Like the Wolf and Lean on Me left for a few lucky friends.

Needless to say, Sunday has been much quieter.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pattern Bonanza

After I finish Laura's birthday present, I'm determined to finally making things for myself at a leisurely pace - something I haven't done since before the wedding. In preparation for a few months of no-deadlines crafting, I raided

Vogue 7848

Not that I've sworn off sundresses. Quite the contrary. This pattern has six different length and strap versions to play with once I get the swing of the simplest construction (pictured here). Also, I don't plan to use Hawaiian print fabric and then attempt to look disdainful. What about luaus says haughtiness?

Vogue 2401

Sigh, the coup de grâce is my reach dress. It's a reissue of an original pattern from 1952. The reviews say it's for advanced seamstresses but it's the same cut as my four favorite dresses. If I can learn to make it, I will literally have an entire closet of them. Also, it would be a great excuse to invest in little white gloves and floppy hats.

Butterick 5421

It's likely that my first project will be version A of this skirt. The reviews say it's a good pattern for beginners, which I certainly am when it comes to apparel. The last sundress that I tried to make a few years ago turned into a pillow that lives in my craft room and mocks me from the comfort of the guest bed. I'll show it yet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Untrendiest Thing I've Ever Said

I sort of want PajamaJeans. By sort of, I mean, I'm waging an internal struggle between my intense desire for them and my last shred of coolness. But really... imagine wearing these to Thanksgiving dinner and not needing to change into fat pants before dessert. You could go straight from the table to curling up on the couch to nap while the boys watch football. Heaven.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekend Highlights

It was a happy, productive, economy-stimulating kind of weekend around here. We went out for dinner and a show on Saturday.

Dinner at Market
(I'm not up to taking pictures of food yet...
but I assure you, it was amazing)


The bathroom is functional and near completion. I'm very lucky that my husband actually LIKES doing this sort of stuff. So far, my role has been limited to painting and moral support.

And though it's only evident from my side of the computer screen, I'm writing from an iMac finally! It's like buttah.

Jersey Boys at the Colonial Theater

Beau's sister bought us tickets for Christmas since he's a huge fan of the Four Seasons. After seeing the show, I think I am, too. We were the youngest people in the audience and jamming out nonetheless. It sort of reminded me of the summer I spent living in my Dad's retirement community - old people know how to party.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

(Almost No TV) Snow Day - Part II

When the Boston Public school system called another snow day on Wednesday night - meaning my office was closed again on Thursday - I had a very disgruntled husband on my hands. He became significantly more gruntled though when he realized that meant that I would spend my free time doing all the chores he hated doing on weekends.

Good to my word, I spent Thursday making the beds, washing four loads of laundry, doing dishes, dusting and generally puttering around making the place tidier... and watching four episodes of Sex and the City. But everyone needs a lunch break and there is something incredibly satisfying about midday viewing of a program that features impeccably dressed women doing everything but work.

I also whipped up a quick craft project that took under an hour. It would be a perfect beginner's introduction to sewing.
We've had the same gold tablecloth on there for a solid year. Instead of buying another one, I used a piece of fabric found during Wednesday's stash reorganization to make a table runner. I measured the length and width of the area I wanted to cover (the area that is actually a mismatched table leaf) and added an inch to the width and about 22 inches to the length.
Then I just folded the edges under to make a finished-ish seam and tried my darndest to keep the fabric straight when I fed it through my sewing machine. And voilà! Clean house and redecorated kitchen. All in a day's work.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No TV Snow Day

When the Boston school system has a snow day, so does my office. Best company policy ever. Faced with the prospect of 10 straight hours of Destination Truth on Netflix, I decided to keep the TV off during business hours to make the most of my found free time. After sleeping in, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with a new book before launching myself into Productivity Central.
 Crafted some of my sister’s birthday present

Watched the snow pile up

Organized my fabric stash

Made super easy chicken soup
No, really easy. Olive oil, one onion, six carrots, six celery stalks, three garlic cloves, heaping handful fresh parsley, two boxes of chicken stock, one pound (humanely-raised) chicken breast, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Sauté the onion and garlic while chopping the rest of the veggies. Once the bottom of the pot gets brown, toss in the chicken stock with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then throw in the chopped veggies and the whole chicken breast. Put the lid on, reduce to a summer and ignore it for an hour after which fish out the chicken and shred it with a couple of forks. Put the chicken back in and simmer for another two or three hours (the longer the better). Ladle over cooked egg noodles, top with an absurd amount of grated parmesan, and serve to delighted husband.

Supervised Beau’s bathroom renovation

Beamed at the grouted floor and new light fixture

Now I’m off to do a half an hour of Pilates before eating that chicken soup. I wish there was a snow day every Wednesday.

Friday, January 7, 2011

If I Broke a Sweat, It Counts As Exercise

I remember reading somewhere that you can turn a behavior into a habit in one month. Theoretically, that’s how long you have to force yourself to engage in an activity for it to become second nature. That’s bad news when you get used to coming home from work and eating shredded cheese out of the bag before dinner (previously guilty) but good news when you’re a full week into your New Year’s resolutions and on track. Granted, these still seem like exciting, shiny new goals but on the other hand, I’m a quarter of the way to making them feel routine.

Of note, this is the first time in ages that I’ve actually exercised three times in one week. Tuesday night I exiled Beau to his man cave while I bopped around the living room to a free dance video from On Demand and I spent an hour on Wednesday and Thursday nights painting the powder room (see post title). Even if we only count each of those as ½ an exercise session each – which we shouldn’t since my biceps still hurt and the only way to paint a lower wall is sustained deep squats – then I’ll still meet my goal by the end of tomorrow. We’re leaving town in the morning for a snow shoeing trip up north. So, I’m feeling pretty good about that resolution.

The aforementioned powder room is also coming along nicely. It’s gone from Contractor’s Special…
All in all, I’d call this a successful week. Next up, a weekend trip to Vermont.

No one needs that much grout!
… to gutted down to the bare plumbing with a lovely new wall color and artfully done new tiles.
Beau feels some sort of yuppie shame that he hasn’t grouted yet

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year’s Evolutions

I was once quoted as saying that setting New Year’s resolutions are tantamount to putting an expiration date on your goals, but I realize now that that was just a snarky way of saying that I didn’t have goals. It was glorious while it lasted. I spent my early twenties the way every college grad should – binge drinking on Tuesdays and job hopping. Sometime between marriage, home ownership and getting a career, I grew up, much to the disappointment of some. I’ve spent a long time avoiding writing because I felt like I no longer had anything interesting to write about. I’ve mellowed out from my troublemaking youth, which provided a wealth of anecdotes.

I finally realized that I had stopped writing for myself a long time ago and was writing for an imaginary audience. It would be lovely if my friends and family found some enjoyment in this but if they don’t, then fiddle-dee-dee I say. I’m beginning this new project with the intention of writing about my new life – my real life – and naming it after an old, abandoned factory outside of Newark, NJ that still displays a moniker that suits me perfectly though maybe not at first glance. It has always suggested frilly things worn with combat boots to me. And, well, if you know me, then that must seem pretty spot on right about now.
via Flutter ProductionsIn the spirit of new beginnings, I’ve come full circle and decided New Year’s resolutions aren’t such a bad thing after all. I think of them less as resolutions and more as an extended to-do list for the upcoming year. They include things I’m already working on and things I’d like to tackle now that I’m not planning a wedding or buying a house. Either way, updates (and possible failures, cussing and bitterness) are likely to appear here in the future.

1) Be greener: Ecofriendliness is a major interest of mine and I’d like to go beyond shopping at Whole Foods and reading Tree Hugger.

2) Watch less TV: I used to plop myself on the couch after work for a minimum of 4 hours of boob tube. While I still consider my memorization of every one of the original Family Guy episodes an achievement, I’m ready to move on.

3) Learn something new: There’s a shiny new Nikon D3000 sitting on my coffee table but I treat it like a point and shoot. While we’re at it, I’d like to finally learn some graphic design considering I didn’t have time for it in college.

4) Go camping: Bears, bugs and being in bad shape will stop me no more. I’m determined to sleep outside in an honest to God tent… probably with a machete nearby.

5) Exercise three times per week: I got so good at exercising when I was on Weight Watchers, which was one of the most miserable months of my life, but without something to hold myself accountable, the siren song of lounging with a plate of brownies always wins this battle. I vote this goal most likely to fail.

6) Blog twice a week: In 2008, I had so little to do at work that I managed to write 90 entries all from the comfort of my cubicle. Writing fell to the wayside when I got a big-girl job. This year, I’m committed to break that record… from home. I’m planning to treat this space as an old fashioned journal and chronicle the happenings that interest me.

7) Travel: Up the road, we plan on having children but before then, I want to see places that are incompatible with strollers.

8) Renovate the condo: Our 1980s condo was a perfect buy for us: priced under value because the décor was firmly stuck in the age of beige linoleum. I’m going to change that (with the help of my do-it-yourselfer husband, Beau) one ugly etched-glass light fixture at a time.

9) Create more, buy less: Since making half the elements at our wedding, I’ve become a consummate crafter. With two sewing machines and a brand new dress form by my side, I hope to make more of the things that I would normally spend $100 and 15 minutes buying. Instead, I’ll spend $15 and 100 hours creating.

10) Cook more: Beau is an amazing cook and I’m still shamed that my signature dish used to be Karen’s Bachelorette Chili (can of black beans, ample dash of taco seasoning packet, smothered in cheddar). I’ve nominated myself Veggie Dictator of the household for 2011.

That seemed like a lot less before I wrote it all down but I suppose that’s the benefit of writing it out. Happy New Year.