Monday, March 31, 2008

we need it to live




Life giving.

You don't need a thesaurus to think of all the ways that we need water. But we do forget how often our water comes to us in containers that are wasteful and compromise other systems we should care about. Here are five reason's why bottled water should be reconsidered:

1) Bottled water isn't a good value

2) No healthier than tap water

3) Bottled water means garbage

4) Bottled water means less attention to public systems

5) The corporatization of water

(from Lighter Footstep)

This weekend I went out and got a refillable water bottle and a Brita to make my tap water a little less yucky. And I know, I've had Nalgene's in the past, and recognize the plastics issue. But for now, this bright shiny green bottle is my reminder that: I pledge to reduce bottled water waste. You can pledge too, here.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

spring + upstate ny = snow in nearly april

Yes. Snow. Inches. Not a dusting.

What a world.

I'm back in my hometown this weekend for work and a visit with the family. Ok, and to fetch a number of items that didn't make it to Albany in the move. Packing is not one of my strong suits.

J and I will be stopping by my favorite new craft space in Fairport to scout out items for my Summer collection in the 540B line. Thinking mainly aprons and small bags, but who knows what the fabric selection will bring--the cuts are vintage and differing sizes. I will be selling at Art on Lark in late June in Albany and then go from there to see where I can sell in the area.

Maybe where you are it is not snowing. Maybe there are daffodils already blooming. Either way, happy Saturday!

Friday, March 28, 2008

friday feature : : curious bird

Photo from curious bird.

Stumbled across a new website recently...curious bird. Leya is in Philadelphia and has a refreshing way of looking at the world. In all the clutter that is out there, it can become difficult to see something new...or again as if for the first time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

domestic bliss

Each day I am finding fresh moments of domestic bliss. Maybe that is because this is my first space alone. My name on the mailbox, my food in the refrigerator. My half empty glasses of water all over the house. Maybe it is because I'm slowing down, taking the time to notice. Spring--when it finally blooms in Upstate NY--is going to be lovely...I can just tell.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

rockefeller's baby

Albany's Empire State Plaza has merit. Thousands of citizens enjoy the public space each year. No, it is not Washington's Mall or New York's Union Square or Washington Square Park, but its worth a visit. I went on Saturday.

However, the Project for Public Spaces (an organization that I appreciate) has put the Plaza in its Hall of Shame. What put it there? Well, the fine folks at PPS have their reasons:

1) An enormous elevated plaza the size of an airport runway surrounded by many identical 1960s high rises plus an egg shaped building. A freeway runs under the plaza. If that’s not bad enough, it leveled almost 100 acres of historic urban neighborhoods and cost $1 billion in 1974 dollars.

2) This is an empty, wind swept plaza with no human scale what-so-ever.

3) The plaza is made completely of hard surfaces, has very few places to sit, ugly architecture, and most of all, an out of scale feeling

4) There is no way you could meet anyone here because (1) it is so inhospitable, and (2) so large you wouldn’t be able to find them.

Apparently, the debate doesn't end there, PPS has a section for comments and many capital district folks have weighed in--including this guy about then governor Rockefeller: "Having gone to architecture school at Rensselaer (1966-71) I got to watch Rockefeller's Folly be born, and today use it in class as an example of misguided, megalomaniacal planning. Rockefeller, then governor of NYS, wanted a proper reception space, particularly as one drove into Albany from the East... that is why the highway goes under the ESP... but buses must re-direct, as there isn't sufficient headroom. Brilliant!"

Huh. Maybe its time for me to form my own opinion. Urban renewal? Bad. Classic mistakes made. Desire for public space? Good. Need to rethink what IS good about the Plaza? Yes, make another trip on a weekday or when it is not 15 degrees outside.

Monday, March 24, 2008

good morning

Early start this week. Plenty of meetings and boring bits that I'm not sharing.

What I will share are a number of pictures from this weekend. I took a stroll around my neighborhood, worked on a conference paper, cleaned like crazy, and hosted a tiny Easter celebration for the two of us.

At my old house in Philly, 540B, I had painted an entire chalkboard wall on the way into the kitchen. Alas, there isn't much of a way to do that at Blue Elm, so I've improvised with two individual boards. One hangs above the stove in the kitchen and the other will hang in my sewing corner with other ephemera. (Ignore the misspelling of fritTata). Tomorrow, pics from the Empire Plaza.

Friday, March 21, 2008

deep calls to deep

Taking a quiet few days this Holy Week to reflect.

May you find space today to be safe, to be loved, to be quiet, to reach deep, to know.

Back on Monday.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Photo by Jennifer Causey, available here on etsy in a postcard version.

It may still be gray and lonely out there in Upstate NY, but spring is here and I'm jumping in to the newness, the green, the growing--above and below ground. In honor of this morning's birdsong heard in my backyard, here's Wendell Berry:


Planting trees early in spring,
we make a place for birds to sing
in time to come. How do we know?
They are singing here now.
There is no other guarantee
that singing will ever be.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

just breathe

Absent being able to go to "my fountain" when feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, I'm posting this here as my space to just breathe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

side note

This blog is all over the place in terms of topics. For better or for worse I guess. I'm doing my best to try to be light and to hold up the pieces of life that encourage and that spirit, I'm linking to this speech by Barack Obama that is not only well written, but also inspiring. Still harboring those dreams of being a speech writer on the Hill maybe...

mid day mind

All sorts of thoughts buzzing around in my head today...not too much getting pinned down though. I have been so ready to get settled into a new place and the new job that I think I've sort of missed some of the real substance of getting planted. Thinking about all things growing of late so this metaphor kind of works. With the painting and the moving, I was looking above the ground, on the surface--the stuff people see. But what about the part that grows below? What's holding all the above ground growth in the ground itself?

I sat down last night after my first day of work and sifted through three boxes of ephemera to find just the right scraps of pictures, quotes, drawings, and notes to pin to a board next to my desk. Things that are me. The stuff that grounds me. I haven't gotten it all up yet, and want to leave room to guide the growing, but I did pick six items for this morning: a mass card with Our Lady of Guadalupe, a photo of me with kids planting a community garden in Rochester, a modern icon of Dorothy Day, a postcard that says simply: Trees Please, an oversized postcard image of the one that you see pictured above, a quote from Cardinal John Henry Newman, and a photo of RJR and I from what we call Round One. In this photo we are reading aloud to the younger siblings of a college friend. I adore it because it is nothing fancy or posed, but yet it perfectly captures our personalities and loves. It is one of three photos I saved from after the break up--sure glad I did since Round Two came along SIX YEARS later :)

These items all tell something about me. They also remind me where I've been, why I'm here, and maybe, light the road ahead. More to come in the days that follow!

Monday, March 17, 2008

day one

Today I started the new job. I'm on my lunch break right now in fact. For the most part, I'm leaving my job off the blog, except for some mentions of the city in which I work. I can walk to the office, about 12 minutes. There are some great sites along the brief stroll and I'm hoping to mix up the path as I go along. My office is right downtown, thus, I have some great views of the skyline.

Oh, and this guy is starting today too...(Paterson, not Bloomberg)

Here's to a new day in the capitol.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

friday night pizza

I recently finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and I have firmly decided to institute my own Friday night pizza regimen. This week we tried it out. Her recipe for pizza dough is tasty, healthy, and easy. And, paired with some good house wine, you have a standard dinner to prepare with little thinking ahead, but lots of fun and variation. Hoping that eventually its the sort of thing kids remember and friends know they always have a plan for Friday evening.

I'm dairy free (except for some goat and sheep's milk cheeses) so my half of Friday's pizza was topped with zucchini, spinach, and roasted butternut squash (leftover from the previous night's dinner). I also used my new baking stone which produced a great crust. We are planning a garden now and thinking ahead for pizza topping veggies! Enjoy.

From the book:

FRIDAY NIGHT PIZZA (Makes two 12-inch pizzas)
3 tsp. yeast
1½ cups WARM water
3 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2½ cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

To make crust, dissolve the yeast into the warm water and add oil and salt to that mixture. Mix the flours and knead them into the liquid mixture. Let dough rise for 30 to 40 minutes.

1 cup sliced onions 2 peppers, cut up

While the dough is rising, prepare the sliced onions: a slow sauté to caramelize
their sugars makes fresh onions into an amazing vegetable. First sizzle them on
medium heat in a little olive oil, until transparent but not browned. Then turn down the burner, add a bit of water if necessary to keep them from browning, and let them cook ten to fifteen minutes more, until they are glossy and sweet. Peppers can benefit from a similar treatment.

Once the dough has risen, divide it in half and roll out two round 12 inch pizza crusts on a clean, floured countertop, using your fingers to roll the perimeter into on outer crust as thick as you like. Using spatulas, slide the crusts onto well floured pans or baking stones and spread toppings.

16 oz. mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh tomatoes in season (or sauce in winter) Other toppings
1 tbs. oregano
1 tsp. rosemary
Olive oil

Layer the cheese evenly over the crust, then scatter the toppings of the week on your pizza, finishing with the spices. If you use tomato sauce (rather than fresh tomatoes), spread that over crust first, then the cheese, then other toppings. Bake pizzas at 425° for about 15-20 minutes, until crust is brown and crisp.

Some of our favorite combinations for summer are:
Mozzarella, fresh tomato slices and fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil
Mozzarella, chopped tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms
Chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta, finely chopped spinach or chard, black olives

Good winter combinations include:
Farmer cheese, chicken, olives and mushrooms
Tomato sauce, mozzarella, dried peppers, mushrooms, and anchovies

Thursday, March 13, 2008

the list

My list of things to do keeps getting longer. Groceries, utilities, employment paperwork, sofa delivery, paperwork for the university, heat, heat, heat...still trying to get the landlord to hook me up. Several attempts, another scheduled for Friday. Every time I reach for something or try to make a dish, I'm short one item. One speaker out of two for the stereo. All the ingredients to make March's cookie of the month, but not the electric mixer. Still, I am infinitely grateful that I've had this entire week to make sense of things, rather than having to leave these details until I'm too tired to get anything done.

I'm also looking forward to continuing to outfit the apartment with local finds. Ready to make a trip into the country for antiques shops. In addition, I have a vegetable garden to plan. While there is much more to do, I have snapped a few photos of before and after to show you the progress!

Kitchen before painting and arranging:

Kitchen after a grand dinner and painting:

Main room before:

Main room after:

The new home for my fabric stash and sewing/design studio:

Housewarming party soon...and warm invitation to visit after my heat and sleeper sofa are in place!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

six word memoir

Wow, the capitol is in a state of uproar today. Hard to find much of anything that can make politicians speechless, but the recent revelation by the governor of the Empire State has thrown the city into a silent stupor. Seriously. Most of the legislative work is at a standstill, the budget is days away from being due, and even the lt. governor has no idea what is next. While Mr. Spitzer is holed up in his 5th Ave mansion, we are all hitting refresh on the NYTimes webpage or watching the march of reporters across the capital to see it unfold...

Trying to find something other than scandal coverage on the radio is tough, but driving back from yet another trip around the city I heard about the most amazing publication-- an anthology of six-word memoirs from Smith Magazine. According to the description: "Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Last year, SMITH Magazine re-ignited the recountre by asking our readers for their own six-word memoirs. They sent in short life stories in droves, from the bittersweet (“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends”) and poignant (“I still make coffee for two”) to the inspirational (“Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah”) and hilarious (“I like big butts, can’t lie”)."

After listening intently for nearly twenty minutes straight, it occurred to me that the title of this book is perfectly appropriate for today, not a diversion, but a fitting treatment of how one man's life and his decisions intersect with thousands upon thousands around the state.

Anyway, watch this video, and then see what your six word memoir might be. I'm going to work on mine this evening and would love to see yours in the comments section or link me to your blog so we can all share!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

four minutes, four photos

Still borrowing internet here and there so posts will continue to be sparse. Friday and Saturday my parents came out to Albany to bring some more of my belongings and to help me clean. Plenty of shoddy apartment details to correct. By Saturday I had three handymen working hard getting the place in shape.

Still short on heat...

...but, several surprises during the move in have made it much more pleasant than expected.

Flowers from J.

Spending $ for housewares from S.

A warm and toasty lunch at Capital City favorite, Mezzo.

And reconnecting with an old friend and making new friends in a new city thanks to his generosity!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Finally dug out the transfer cord to my camera! Still piles around the new apartment that must be excavated. The family is coming out Saturday to move the big stuff, not that I have that much, but my bed would be nice.

Here are some pics from our snowshoeing expedition in the Adirondacks on Sunday. Now I live close enough to the Park for a quick jaunt. Absolutely beautiful afternoon. Sunny, no wind. Perfectly right amount of time in the woods...returned to the trail head just as my legs started to feel the cold.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Couple of ideas for my plain white bedroom walls...

A branche wall decal by Les Invasions Ephemeres...or...

a blik surface graphic that could be repeated...hmmm...

Monday, March 3, 2008

new neighborhood

My internet access may be a bit off and on these next few days as I settle into my new place in the Capital City. I need to go out and get a provider, but that is boring work when there are curtains to sew and decorating to be done. The camera is still packed away from the weekend so no new pics of the space yet. I do have some enchanting moments to share from my first ever snowshoeing adventure yesterday...all in good time though.

One of the loveliest things about my new neighborhood is its proximity to the city's Catholic cathedral. It is a grand gothic design situated just below the capital buildings. In addition to the towering spires and inspiring addition to the skyline, the bells toll on the hour. I've never lived this close to a bell tolling church tower and I must say, I much prefer the bells over glancing at my cell phone to catch the time! The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is over 150 years old and has recently undergone the start of a major renovation under the leadership of the current bishop of the Albany diocese. According to the website: "The very stones that Bishop McCloskey's immigrant flock placed on the building have deteriorated over 150 years of wear and tear. The old, flaking stone is being replaced by new sandstone imported from England. A new rolled lead roof, the only one of its kind at present in America, is being installed. You might say the roof is the modern version of what was used in medieval times. The new stone and state of the art roof will ensure that the Cathedral will stand for many generations to come."

This is the Cathedral in the 1850s just peeking over the port.

This is the interior at present.

Juxtaposed with the high rises at Empire State Plaza. - All photos from the Cathedral website.