Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flustery Blustery

Yesterday we had wind gusts up to 45mph and they said that the temperature last night approached the low 30s, with wind chills in the 20s. While we're progressing back to seasonable and more mild autumnal weather at this point, all of that wacky weather does indicate that things like mornings and evenings are going to be CHILLY. And coincidentally, any day of the week Monday through Thursday, that's when I'm going to be outside. My scarves are currently holed up in storage and my yarn is packed. I found a random pair of gloves in one of my suitcases this morning, which was a blessing while waiting at the chilly bus stop before work. But it got me thinking about delightful patterns and purchases designed for this blustery thing we call "the swift progression from fall into winter". Ok, we probably don't call it that. Hell, I don't even call it that. But that is what's happening, so we better all be prepared, eh?

Here you will find a collection of patterns and possible purchases to keep the chill off this winter, and perhaps one or two yarn oriented crafts that might not keep you warm but are flippin' cute!

Yarn Harlot's "An Unoriginal Hat" - pattern

dlknit's Comfy Scarf Wrap - $45

Liquid Paper's "pom pom pumpkins" - project

CrazyAuntPurl's "Reversible Knit Halloween Beanie" - pattern

misshawklet's Jeans Girl handspun yarn (A) or (B)- $28.50

Bella Knitting's "Viking Hats Patterns" - pattern

joliem6201 Lil' Pumpkin Cocoon Wrap Snuggler - $60

Pink Argyle's "Mini Mitten Ornaments" - pattern

yearofthegoat's Hand Knit Mascu-mitten (pea green) - $48

Kis*Knit's "Twisted Drop Stitch Scarf" - pattern

sewlutionsbyamo's Ashley Reversible Neck Warmer/Tie Scarf - $48

The Purling Sprite's "Aran Afghan" - pattern/tutorial
Part of a series on how to knit cables using KniftyKnitter looms

tinyhearts' Rosey Cozy Alpaca Cream neckwarmer - $35

knitting school dropout's "Really Warm Hat" - pattern

dollyknits' Beautiful Teal Handknit Neckwarmer with ribbon - $28

Sweater Surgery's "Double Sided Cable Scarf" - pattern

All images are courtesy of their respective owners. I think it's fairly obvious that I haven't knitted anything myself recently. Hopefully soon, though. In the meantime, enjoy!

If I wasn't moving this weekend I'd be at...

The DC Craft Mafia's UNusual Suspecst Holiday Craft Show & Sale!

Saturday November 1st from 12-6pm at the Anastasi Room in Bethesda, MD.

Check out the fabulous vendor gallery. Scrumptious!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recipe Tuesday: Dark Fruitcake

My Great Grandma Marsh (my Mom's Dad's Mom) raised a family of five kids on a farm out in Prince William County, Virginia. I met her a few times when I was an itty bitty baby, but she is still remembered year to year in the delicious recipes that she passed down to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren over the years. These recipes have become part of our family celebrations...most specifically Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember helping my Mom make this particular recipe sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, collecting nuts and dried fruits like we were gathering sustenance for a harvest. I grew up loving this very sophisticated yet simple version of the often bemoaned Fruitcake. My Mom would set me up with a little plate at the kitchen counter, cut a thin sliver of fruit cake and serve me a glass of milk or a cup of tea.

This fruitcake is more of a nutcake than it is anything else. I remember how it was rich and hearty, with a slight buttery crunch from the nuts and the tender chewiness from the dates and raisins. My Mom would dot the top with candied cherry halves and wrap it up for mostly family, who anticipate this traditional treat year to year. It makes many loaves, from what I remember. Try it for yourself. It's the best thing ever.

Dark Fruitcake
(Great Grandma Marsh)

4 eggs
1 ½ c. dark brown sugar
1 c. melted butter
1 c. pineapple juice
3 c. flour (or more as needed to hold together)
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp baking powder
2 lbs. chopped dates
2 lbs. chopped raisins
1 15-oz can crushed pineapple
(candy the pineapple by adding one cup sugar and cook over slow fire until candied)
1 ½ lbs. Brazil nuts
1 lb. English walnuts
½ lb. pecans or almonds (or both)

Grease and line pans with brown paper bags cut to size. Grease both the pans and the brown paper. Coarsely chop all the nuts and mix by hand with the dates and raisins. Toss flour into this mixture. Blend sugar, eggs, butter, juice, spices, baking powder and candied pineapple. Pour over the floured nut and fruit mixture. Mix well and fill loaf pans.

Bake for 4 hours or longer (if needed) @ 250°.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Barnes & Noble Home Collection

I was surprised this morning when I opened my inbox to see that not only is there a sale at Barnes & but the sale is for their Home Collection. Um, they have a home collection? I worked at Barnes & Noble (which, by the way only has an S at the end of BARNES...I hate when people say Nobles) 10 years ago. I helped open the Fairfax, Virginia location. I even have the remnants of a sprained rotator cuff in my left shoulder to prove it. Did you know that shelving books can cause a repetitive motion injury in your shoulder!? Delightful.

Anyway, I checked out the collection. As is per Barnes & Noble's approach to all things (like such as their music/video collection), stuff is a little overpriced. It's kind of Restoration Hardware in its aesthetic, but there are some cute things here and there. It has a similar appeal, too, that you might find in their stores. Rich, deep wood tones, metals and deep jewel tones, and a unique collection of book accessories that ranges anywhere from shelves and lamps to booklights and stationery. Overall, I'm pleased.

My e-mail told me that they're having a 20% off sale (taken at checkout; no coupon necessary), on all Home Collection stuff. I'm contemplating the set of mini vases pictured in this post, simply because I'm a geek for mini things. We'll see. Nevertheless, head on over and check it out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Drunk is feeling sophisticated when you can't say it. --Anonymous

Well, all of this stress has got me thinking about "stress relief" know, meditation, brisk walks in the cool autumn air, yoga, and booze. There isn't much I wouldn't do at this point to get all of my furniture, books, clothing and kitchen paraphernalia hauled over to my new apartment, put neatly away and suddenly find myself lounging in some sort of super soft flannel adult-sized long-sleeve/legged onesie, with a cracklin' fire, mood lighting, a fantastic movie and a plastic tumbler filled with boxed white wine.

That's living.

And then I started thinking about Rachel Maddow (if I could insert a clip me drooling here, I would, but then she probably wouldn't marry me and Em, and then we'd both be devastated) and how in her New York Times interview, she mentioned that she was a hobbyist bartender, with a particular interest in creating "classic drinks from the golden age of American cocktails." Reading that...and imagining sipping a Manhattan next to her when she suddenly sets my cocktail down on the table, whisks me up and starts twirling me around as though I'm Ginger Rogers to her Fred Astaire...AHHHHH, focus. Ahem. Reading that made me think about how I really do enjoy a delish cocktail now and then, and so I thought I'd compile a list of a few fun boozey things. There may be a gratuitous picture of Rachel Maddow mixed in somewhere. I would apologize, but given her universal appeal (even my parents love her), I don't think anyone would mind.

Even if your bar consists of a milk crate and some plywood, make sure your friends know where the heck the booze is. Decorate it with this kick ass, old fashioned letterpress style print.
Yeehaw Industries' Davy Crockett Coon Ass Tennessee Whiskey Letterpress Print - $25

While I do not advocate sneaking a drink in inappropriate places, nor do I suggest or endorse the use of this in airports, I do feel that this would make a lovely statement in the top drawer of your nightstand.
Uncommon Goods' Dear Diary Flask in a Book - $30

Function does not follow form in this piece, but for a cocktail pourin' bartender, ambience is key. Give your bar a funky, fun, vintage flare with one of Artsy's upcycled works of art.
Artsy's Orange Crush Vintage Upcycled Retro Rocket Robot (no. 62) - $62

My BFF lives in Baltimore. I need to be a polite hostess and send notice in advance of impending holiday imbibery. The lovely, gentle appeal of Provo, Utah style scrapbooking meet hardcore boozin' in this lovely wintry card.
notmoira's Let it Snow, and Pass the Malt Liquor holiday card - $2.95

Scare your friends and neighbors! Pretend your righteously mad about some kid repeatedly throwing a ball into your yard, march over to this case, and then offer them a nice Australian Shiraz.
Uncommon Goods' Locked and Loaded Ammunitions Case Wine Bar - $300

Go Rat Pack vintage with this ultra-hip bowling ball hidden ice bucket. I cannot guarantee that you'll "score" or anything, but I imagine that if Rachel Maddow pulled ice cubes out of this thing for my cocktail, I'd...well...
VaudevilleVintage1's Retro Hidden Ice Bucket Bowling Ball - $30

Open up an 8pm or later Lemonade Stand for Adults with this beaut! Make some fantastic concotion of booze and fruit juice, give your neighbors a cup for $5 each, and donate the proceeds to some fantastic charity or something. Just don't tell them how you collected it.
madison belle's Refreshing Lemonade Decanter - $109

Another funky vintage accessory to the bar. Ok, so maybe you can't use it. But don't we all just use store bought bottles anyway?
Three Potato Four's Argentina Seltzer Bottle - $80

Not only can you swizzle your drinks to a refreshing chill, you can play ice guitar!
Uncommon Goods' Cool Jazz Ice Stirrers - $16

And when push comes to shove, and you're about ten seconds from tearing your hair out or punching someone in the face, you can just throw this lovely vintage upcycled pewter necklace on. Head into the bar with the biggest, ugliest purse you can find, wearing mismatched tracksuit and a side-ponytail. Slam your bag on the bar and point at your necklace. The bartender will know what to do.
dustDesignCo's Vintage Blue Monday Cocktail Necklace - $35

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nervous Breakdown

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. (Richard Carlson)
  • I discovered that I have a dairy AND almond allergy. After suffering through three months of itchtastic hives and steroids, I find out that I cannot eat two foods that are in most mainstream products. There is ALMOND EXTRACT in many shampoos, for God's sake. So then my allergist, lovely man that he is, puts me on a forcefield blocking amount of antihistamines. I'm on so many antihistamines that I feel like I'm exhausted, and I'm so exhausted that I'm practically an insomniac. And they don't even work all the time. Sometimes, for no reason at all, I get hives! How 'bout them apples?!
  • I moved out of an apartment that was literally leaking into the apartment below me via the shower stall, fought with the landlords in order to get my deposit back, only to move into a new place that I'll have to leave approximately two months after moving in. The reason why gets its own bullet point.
  • Three sinus infections, in quick succession. Two rounds of joint-ache inducing anti-biotics. Headaches. OH, the headaches. And my teeth. I felt like I needed to keep a net covering my face because at any moment my teeth could shoot out of my head in forceful obstinance to the pressure created by my useless sinuses. I had to cancel on my hair stylist twice. She thought "sinus infection" was code for "rehab".
  • A friend of mine, whom I've known for close to four years (according to my calculations), decides that not only is she going to break the lease and move out of the apartment after living there with us for six weeks, but that she's going to give us misinformation as to how the leasing office plans to charge us, LIES to us about the reasons why she's electing to leave, fails to even clue us into her interest in leaving for over THREE weeks and proceeds to cut me out of her life completely. As it turns out, if you live with me I will control your life. Like a mother or like a significant other. In this case, she behaved so badly that I took away her "remote privileges". Are you kidding me?! I would've sold you the television, the remote, the cable box, two DVD players and my first born for less than this lease breaking buyout, you putz. I would've even baked you a pie a week for the next 25 years.
  • Oh, the hives reappeared! Must be the stress. It's always fun to itch the palms of your hands.
  • We packed up our entire apartment last week. Yes, every last thing. We drove out to the truck rental place, picked up our shiny moving truck, headed out and my gut twisted. I called the movers, because I figured that would've been the biggest wrench thrown into the day. HA. I love my gut. The assholes canceled. Family disagreement in a family owned and operated business. NOTE TO Y'ALL: Don't work with your family if you want me to hire you.
  • Endless amounts of anxiety and worry about my parents and the stock market. And just my parents. Because they live mostly across the country and given my luck, the plane I take to fly out there to check on them will land in a cornfield in Nebraska and I'll be abducted by aliens.
I'm 29 years old. I was a blessed child, having everything I needed and more. I didn't really have to worry about anything, save for the standard unexpected things like grandparental deaths, illness, injury and the occasional fight with my parents. In hindsight, I feel like things were pretty much normal. And even as a young adult, skating breezily through my twenties, I feel like things were mostly simple. Yes, there were tedious and emotionally injurious relationships and friendships, financial missteps and massive blunders, and a certain degree of intellectual and emotional aloofness that probably served me best as a defensive mechanism. I worked, I slept, I partied and tried to enjoy life.

At this point, though, I feel more settled down than I have in close to ten years. And naturally, the minute I SETTLE DOWN, all the crap that could stir up, well, stirs up. I feel like over the course of the past six months, there has been a litany of random and completely jarring smack-me-across-the-face nonsense that's happened. And like any person who finds God, Suze Orman, or some sort of secular life coach, you would think that once I calm down and start planning and living a life congruent with my means and my bodily limitations, that life would be just fine too. That the penance of my crappy choices in young adulthood were paid by my body and mind THEN, and there would be no aftershocks resonating into the next stage of my life.

Ha. Ha ha ha. HA HA HA.

I mean, this could all be a matter of perspective. I could just not be seeing, retroactively, how these things could or should benefit me. Or perhaps, I am particularly unskilled at the gentle nudges of life's foreshadowing. I studied that nonsense in high school and college. I know what literary foreshadowing is like nobody's business! But when life hands me a juicer and then a few months later the lemons get pelted at my head, I feel like my cognitive misfirings leave me completely unaware of how to make the freakin' lemonade.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

I opened up my blog feed reader this morning and read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Craft & Found. Apparently, today is Blog Action Day 2008 and this year's theme is Poverty. I haven't really participated in the circular culture of blogs, so I'm not always on the up about events like this. But when I read about this, and thought about what I've experienced living in and around Washington DC my ENTIRE life, I cannot not participate.

There are a host of statistics available online about poverty. All of them are absolutely terrifying. And in my opinion, an appropriate reaction to poverty is never bootstraps. In the past, as a member of the Girl Scouts Council of the Nation's Capital for over eight years, I've found tremendous joy in "Adopting a Family". By adopting a local family, you are charged with providing them with holiday/Christmas gifts and household necessities. You essentially make their Christmas.

I think I've made it abundantly clear that I am a Christmas addict, and while giving a family presents doesn't necessarily eradicate poverty, it does bring joy and happiness to people who face sadness and despair. This year I'm going to donate through the YWCA for the Washington DC area. I would love your help.

Here is information about the program for which I'm going to volunteer. I don't have information about the family at this point in time, but I hope to soon. I will keep you updated. As an alternative to providing gifts directly, I can also accept your financial support. Those are details to work out later. I'll go out and buy whatever you recommend, or if you leave it up to my discretion, I'll make sure to take a picture for you!

When I took the Metro from home to work last year and saw homeless people and families cuddled together under a damp bridge, and when I speak with the homeless folks along 8th Street SE, and imagine the devastation and impact that the financial crisis in this country will have on families and children, I would be selfish not to help.

What can you do? At the least, blog about it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recipe Tuesday!

Remember the olden days when I actually though I'd do this weekly? Well, it might be back for good! Who knows, really? I'm about as predictable as the weather these days. I've had a hankering, though, for these cookies and decided I'd share my Mom's recipe with you all. My preference is for the addition of raisins, and only raisins...especially big plump juicy ones. When you use butter, these tend to spread out and get slightly chewy in the center and crisp on the edges. Just perfect, eh!?

Quick Oatmeal Cookies - My Mom

½ c. butter
½ c. firmly packed brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbls. milk
1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 c. uncooked quick rolled oats

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla, milk and mix well.

Mix dry ingredients together and then blend well with butter mixture.

For a different flavor, add one of the following:
  • ¾ c. chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. grated orange rind
  • ½ c. raisins (<--- my vote!)
  • 1 c. flaked coconut
Drop the cookies 2” apart on a well-greased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown @ 350 degrees.

Makes about 3 dozen 2” cookies.

(Sorry, msaims! I don't have an Aussie conversion, mate. Don't hate me for just saying "mate".)

Monday, October 13, 2008

We want the funk.

I'm pretty much tired of those Mastercard commercials that rattle off a list of prices for things and then name something: priceless. However, I do believe I could watch this commercial for the rest of time.

As my Love can attest, I'm not only a fan of 70s funk, but I do enjoy dancing like a fool...

Alone: is good
With friends: priceless

Friday, October 10, 2008

Whoa there! Look at me!

I updated my shop again, and while I'm totally excited with everything I made, I'm particularly impressed with this necklace..."lariat". It should also be noted that I'm not a tutorial kind of gal, as most of what I make is rather trial-and-error, fly by the seat of my pants, organic. I couldn't recreate this necklace if you paid me. I mean, I'd try but I would probably create something differently unique. Anyhoo...enjoy!

Carlene Lariat - $35

Feel free to buy it. You might have to fight my IKEA paper lamp for it, though. :-)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Suze Orman and Oprah

I often find myself "listening" to YouTube when I'm busy doing other things, and today is no different. I just listened to this episode (split into 5 parts) of Oprah from September 23rd of this year, featuring Suze Orman. Granted, this is "pre-bailout" so the information she provides may require a little investigation, but overall I think she offers a very clear and simple view of what's going on these days, and in her signature style she gives some really fantastic advice for people and how to handle their money during these harsh economic times.

Interesting to note: Your car insurance premiums, in most states, can go up if your credit score decreases. And insurances companies are not required to notify you of a change. TERRIFYING.

NOTE: If you're a cable-free person, this YouTube user has ALL of the Intervention episodes, split into five parts each, for your viewing pleasure. Also, a lot of Dr. Phil and Oprah. Yay!

Local Business Alert!

I just wanted to shout out to Three Potato Four out in Reston, Virginia...a hop-skip from my hometown of Chantilly, VA and not far from where I'm moving, either. They have an amazing website dedicated to the sale and resale of some amazing vintage and (what I perceive to be...) repro-vintage/modern finds, including lovely papergoods AND a fantastic kids section. They also keep track of their shop and life in a more literary/pictorial manner in their, those kids are the MOST ADORABLE. I can't wait to sit down and spend some time checking everything out (um, specifically this Crush crate...WANT), and then probably spending a few clams decking my new home out in fancy NoVA style.

Baby Giftapalooza

I was sitting at dinner the other night with my Lover Bear and a few tables away there was a little girl, probably 8 months old, doing a myriad of things to drive her parents crazy. Crying, screeching, mumbling, gnawing, throwing, etc. I said to L. Bear that one particular cry that she emitted was a "cry of utter frustration"...she was trying to convey that she wanted something and, having no words, just freaked the hell out. L. Bear was impressed at my ability to discern what each baby yelp meant, and after insisting that I add my Baby Interpreting skills to my resume, proceeded to ask me what every yelp meant the rest of our meal. All of this is to say that I have a pretty keen sense of what's going on when it comes to kids. I know when they need refreshment, entertainment or a time out...for the most part. What I cannot decide on, FOR THE LIFE OF ME, is what to get people for baby showers. JESUS.

So anyway, my lovely friend B and her husband A, who happens to be my honorary brother-in-law by virtue of being the brother of my sister-wife/best friend Bucko, are having a baby. I think I said this already, but it bears repeating. THEY ARE HAVING A BABY. Yay for babies!

My old standby was a pair of Old Navy overalls and a few long and short sleeve onesies to suit the sex of the baby, or the color preference of the parents. I'd also pick up a cute hat and some socks too. I bought overalls because I think that babies look adorable in them, and they're much easier for babies (read: parents) to manage than kids anywhere from four to 10 years old, who can't seem to work out the whole "I have to take my pants off at my shoulders" situation and wind up having regular accidents. Also, this just made things easier because I didn't have to think. But now I have more consistent access to the internet and a particular penchant for bookmarking EVERYTHING, and I've wound up with a list that would rival a baby's registry rather than just a checklist for myself. Tell me what you think about all of my ideas.

Skip Hop's Duo Deluxe diaper bag - $54

Skip Hop's Mod Dot Crib Bedding - ranges from $20 - $220

Modernseed's Zutano Zutsuit in Chocolate - $25
This happens to go quite well with their Zutano Stripe Knit Socks - $4.50

Modernseed's Pia Wallen Baby Slippers in Brown - $39

Modernseed's Stripes the Bunny - $20 (<-- I may have to get this for myself!)

Perpetual Kid's "I Might Barf" onesie - $22.99

Perpetual Kid's New Parent Checklist - $6.99

Perpetual Kid's New Parents Vouchers - $6.99

Perpetual Kid's Family Medical Organizer - $19.99

Glambaby's Stewart the Elephant onesie - $15

happyfamily's Milk and Cookies ringer onesie & pants set - $26

happyfamily's Striped Blue Necktie onesie in orange - $18

bambinamia's Rock On W onesie - $18

LeastLikely2Breed's Tough Titties Nipple Rub - $6

johnwgolden's Play Nice print (By Order of the Management series) - $20

SleepingForest's Quit Pulling My Whale wooden toy - $25

craftpudding's Custom Name Stamp - $20

Jesus, that's a long list.
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