Thursday, October 30, 2008

harvest hospitality

Finally going to have a little gathering in my new home. Not an official housewarming because that would seem indulgent after the recent one at Blue Elm. Instead, Friday is Troy Night Out and so we will be gathering first to eat and then on to galleries and then back to eat. Why not have a progressive evening of food?! There are such yummy choices out there this time of year.

Over at the Chicken, I picked up a recipe for Iced Pumpkin Cookies. I also found a new local bakery to check out, just outside of the city on Route 7, don't you love the format? Seems to exude warm tastiness. Hopefully they can supply me with a selection of additional dessert choices since my other activities this week, the job, have moved in on my baking. We will also be serving warm cider and some autumnal wines selected by the boyfriend (who did a fantastic job helping me clean the apartment, especially consoling me when one of the pictures I had just hung crashed to the floor in an explosion of glass--and then cleaning up the mess himself even though it was my own fault for trusting some new hanging devices that weren't supposed to damage plaster. Guess again).

Now if I can just sew more of the curtains tonight, I will be all set. Oh, and after the cleaning last night we started reading The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (aloud--one of my favorite pastimes to share!). The story will be a film this Christmas with one of the best actresses working right now, Cate Blanchett. Oh yeah, and Brad Pitt is in it ;)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

gift giving season

The season is nearly upon us! I have a number of my gifts made, purchased, in the works, but if you don't, check out these two upcoming events to support local artisans. The first one is local to Rochester, Second Storie Indie Market, to be held at the Visual Studies Workshop in late November. I attended one in February and really enjoyed it. Delightful work by some seriously talented men and women. The second, in Albany and Troy, is GiveHANDMADE and I will be selling Five40B items there the first weekend in December. I am less familiar with this event, but it seems to be shaping up to be a nice way to get into the local market.

Last night I stayed up late setting up the studio. It is aching for a few more projects. GiveHANDMADE should be just the thing to get that going! Of course, my knitting will take a hit, but oh well. I am also working on a family gift project based on our trip to London, more soon!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

windowless cave free form poetry on a monday afternoon




acres of trees slaughtered for my paper pages.


one door opens. closes with a creak.

red pens. blue pens.


more spreadsheets.

achy joints, stuck at this chair.

no windows. no passage of time.

some office chatter.

four more hours to go.

wishing for sunshine.

hoping these words, figures, charts, tables will mean something to someone after i am through.

Monday, October 27, 2008

race report

Few posts last week because of a busy travel schedule for work and then my mini-vacation day on Friday.

Saturday it poured for hours, making the race trail a muddy mess for the team that was running from Rochester and Albany. Despite the mess, the guys won the team race for the half-marathon, doing an amazing job navigating the flooded creeks and mire. My only task was supporting the team, although it did get me psyched to consider training for the 6 mile version next year. Don't hold me to that though. It could have been the perfect race day weather and the team camaraderie that had me thinking crazy! My brother came out too and cooked a delicious lunch for the runners and family members.

The boyfriend placed 39th out of 250+. So proud!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

signs and symbols

This book Signs and Symbols came out in April, but I have not come across it until now over at Elle Decoration, a blog written by Heather Moore of Skinny LaMinx. I've posted here about my love for typography, and signs/symbols are not far behind. Symbols are particularly salient for me, explaining part of my attraction to orthodox religious traditions and my ongoing captivation with iconography.

I'm headed to NYC on Friday for some relaxation and a bit of my own research. One of my appointments is near Strand, of the 18 miles of books fame. Populating a list of books I want, need, should have in my collection before making my way over there. A friend recommended Andre Dubus who wrote House of Sand and Fog as well as We Don't Live Here Anymore, that was also turned into a disturbing but excellent film adaptation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

death and taxes

Super Saturday was a mild success. Some great projects completed, others stalled for lack of supplies or the expertise or some other obstacle. For example, I made a rather involved Martha molasses spice cake to hold that yummy sounding frosting, only to have my hand mixer die in use. On the first of three mixing stages--sugar and butter, eggs and molasses, flour and spices. I dumped everything into the food processor and started again, but with only modest results. The meringue frosting required mixing in a bowl over a simmering pot of water so that frosting option had to be rejected for a simple glaze. Which, all things considered, turned out better than the cake. I invented a cider reduction glaze that basically goes as follows:

1 cup cider -- boiled and reduced to 1/3 cup
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 t salt

Boil until thick and pour over cake

The cake went over well at the party, although I wasn't thrilled with the density of the cake, should have been lighter and airier, a feature I'm blaming on the dead mixer.

Sunday dawned bright and early with preparation for my religious education class. The Gospel reading for the day was from the book of Matthew regarding paying to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God's. Imagine a lesson on taxes and tithing for the Kindergarten and First Grade set. The little group of nine four to seven year olds are a joy to work with, even if their energy can seem overwhelming on a weekend morning. The contrast between the morning's liveliness and an afternoon spent in my windowless office at work couldn't have been more stark. Not to mention breaking the Sabbath. Big week this week requires more than the usual effort to be invested--thankfully I am on vacation Friday and will be spending it in NYC.

Friday, October 17, 2008

super saturday

I am lazy.

Plain old, curl up under blankets and watch television on the internet lazy. While knitting. Maybe not straight up lazy after a 12 hour work day or with the knitting. But ugh nonetheless. Even with that extra day last week, I only managed to straighten up my closet, run errands, and do laundry.

I have curtain material cut out and the sewing machine ready, yet it sits. I have all the contents of my studio, from fabric to paint to paper scraps, in the room, but in piles upon piles needing to be put away. I have two gorgeous colors of paint and rollers and tape sitting in the kitchen poised to jump onto my accent walls. Still nothing.

That all changes tomorrow. (Changes always start tomorrow don't they? Something about the new day thing.) I have six days to get my apartment in shape before visitors arrive for the race weekend and then a work gathering the next. Saturday will see me painting, sewing, setting up, and arranging--not getting sucked into watching those programs I missed this week while putting in long work days.

I'll also be going to an autumn party tomorrow evening for which I plan to make an apple cake with this frosting cut in half, because who really needs 5 cups of Brown-Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Super Saturday here I come...after a few more hours of data crunching and analysis.

Be well and happy weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

red october

Weekend trip to Naples and Canadice Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

new music

There are so many new releases out! Hearing good things about Ray LaMontagne, The Verve, Death Cab, a few less new: Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, MGMT, MMJ, Regina Spektor. One of them is from an old art school pal, D.M. Stith. His work is ethereal, yet solid, transparent and somehow steady. He is signed to Sufjan Steven's label, Asthmatic Kitty. David not only writes the lyrics and music, he also creates the artwork for the liner notes. Check it out!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

coming along

The new apartment is slowly starting to feel like home. Everywhere else I have lived has been more petite and figuring out what to do with my existing furniture in the larger space has been tricky. Still a ways to go, planning to use Monday's day off for making Roman blinds for the kitchen and hanging other window treatments. More pictures to hang and arranging to do. My goal is to get it all squared away before the big race weekend when I'll be hosting guests.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Yikes. I joined up. For non-knitters, ravelry is like an intravenous drug for knitters and crocheters. There are thousands of members around the globe. People post patterns, suggestions on yarn supplies, share in forums, post photos of finished projects, and generally indulge their fiber fantasies in a virtual, yet surprisingly tactile space. I am late to the party and probably a little overwhelmed with the expansive options, but it is a start and I am hoping it will help me with my perplexing issues with the new needle techniques. Last night I began a scarf on good old single end needles in a basic stitch to satiate my need for fast and rhythmic knitting that can be done while talking, watching tv, etc. FYI, my tag is dwellurban.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

cdta and me

Now that I live in Troy, I have been trying to take the bus to and from work on the days when I would otherwise be driving. While living at Elm, this was not a consideration. Want to get into work early? Leave at 6:52AM for a 7AM start. Want to slide in just before everyone's coffee has kicked in and before they realize you have not logged in to Outlook yet? Eat breakfast on the porch, do the morning prayers, read an article in Newsweek, do two yoga poses, grab yogurt for lunch and walk down the steps at 8:47AM to be there just before 9AM.

No longer. Now, I check my friendly CDTA schedule and pick the bus to Albany that works for me. The system is not as easy to maneuver as Philadelphia's, but for two cities with a combined population of 143,172, it is not too bad. There seem to be the usual commuters who work in the capital and go back to their homes at night. I have seen some of those folks exit the bus to side streets near Troy where they get into parked cars and then drive a second leg to their homes.

Last night I took the bus home later than usual and encountered a somewhat different crowd. Some commuters still, but a more lively bunch who shared their stories at rather loud levels for such a small space. There were equal parts shouted expletives and spoken admiration for my knitting project in process, as well as a discussion about how one man had been run over by a mail truck and was on his 5th surgery to repair damage to his neck. Scars of which he then showed a number of passengers he had just met. This same gentleman later spoke of the urban planning genius of Henry Cisneros and his impact on San Antonio. Well, that is the gist of what he was saying. He credits Cisneros with the streetscape improvements to that beautiful Texas city, but did not quite have the name or his role correct. Apparently this knowledge was acquired when he used to live in the Lone Star state, but moved north to Troy, NY for work.

The sentiment was unexpected though, not often do you see a 60 year old (he shared his age with the audience assembled because he had just had his first child at 60--with the home visitation nurse who had been caring for him the last few months) with that kind of knowledge of the field. Knitting silently is a good way to observe this kind of activity without actually seeming to eavesdrop. Or maybe I'm not fooling anyone.

That's me, participant observer of all things urban, like public transit. The knitting on the other hand, well, I've finally started a double-ended needle project--fingerless gloves--yet do not claim any proficiency compared to my mental history of the succession of secretaries of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. After studying and working step by step visual diagrams for days, I now have 20 rows of k1 p1 in an ivory alpaca/wool blend. A few more entertaining bus rides are needed to get in the next 20 rounds.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

an institution

Found forty magnificent minutes between meetings in Rochester to spend at the best coffee shop in the world. Deep scent of smoky roasted coffee beans, the suspended shark floating above, a counter full of baked goodness, and familiar faces of the institution make you nostalgic for college days. Who am I kidding, I've been coming here for eleven of the fifteen years they have been in existence and I don't plan to stop anytime soon. I'd like to claim that Java's is best in autumn, when hot apple cider is available and the tree lined street is a colored corridor, but the truth is, no matter what the season, you can find your beverage and your seat for people watching. I am only here in my hometown for a few hours and yet I have to stop if possible. Not too many places I can say that about. Parkleigh has slipped down my list in recent years in my attempt to live more simply. Java's remains my justifiable indulgence.

Monday, October 6, 2008

autumn glory

American Ruins at the Arkell was a nice treat on Saturday evening. I snapped a few pics with the phone. The photographer's use of infrared technology created these ghostly images, perfect for capturing the unseen history of decomposing spaces. We were probably the youngest ones at the opening, not a problem for us, but some of the Mohawk Valley's finest seemed to think I should be carded before serving me a glass of pinot grigio.

Sunday afternoon, after we each taught our religious education classes at our own respective parishes, we convened in John Boyd Thacher Park outside of Albany with a number of other folks who are running with the boyfriend in a trail race later this month. The guys had a strong run of nearly 13 miles, I mostly took photos, did a short hike, and worked my diagrams for knitting with double ended needles all while celebrating the beautiful weather and scenery! Achingly autumn is what it felt like.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

happy birthday mom

My mom is probably the most faithful reader of dwell.urban. Today is her special day. Hope it is full of many good things and people who love you!

Friday, October 3, 2008


This new facility EMPAC is opening up the hill from me today and it looks like it will host an array of wonderful artistic exhibitions. The grand opening events are free. The description gives me goosebumps. I've been slacking off in the creative department and shying away from getting connected with other artists because my full time job is so far removed from the creative practice. Yet, this is really inspiring. Who knew, in Troy, NY? This move represents the convergence of a number of journeys. I'm glad I wasn't completely paralyzed by my trepidation to move again to miss the fulfillment and joy found in being in the right place.

settling in

Last night the boyfriend and I sat down to a fully autumnal meal complete with a sort of deconstructed apple pie for dessert (read, they were supposed to be apple dumplings, but the crust around the apples sort of melted off and puddled around the sugary apple goodness). Then, we created an NPR listening room to hear Biden and Palin share retorts while playing Palin Bingo with candycorn while we assembled my large IKEA shelf unit that has traveled to four apartments with me. Much to my surprise and delight (due entirely to RJR's excellent workmanship) we finished the shelf assembly early and were ready to listen even before the debate started. Definitely needed a Biden Bingo card as well. If hear "fundamental change" one more time...

The weekend is set for more settling in activities like sewing curtains, arranging my studio, and hunting for a secondhand bureau. Will be making and putting up applesauce and deciding on the yarn situation. Saturday is set to conclude with a visit to the Arkell for the exhibit opening "American Ruins" with a talk by photographer Arthur Drooker. "American Ruins features fifty sepia-toned infrared photographs of more than 25 historical sites. Drooker captures these ruins and preserves them for a moment in time. His subjects include adobe missions and the remains of elegant mansions. To be included in Drooker's project, the ruins had to meet certain criteria: they had to be part of a preservation program, they had to have historical value and they had to represent the geographic and architectural diversity of America."

Hope your weekend is grand!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

itching to knit

This morning's crisp air has me itching to start a knitting project. Since I have not knit in more than a year, this is something of an unfamiliar feeling. Last fall I was teaching a grad seminar, writing my own work, and driving up to New York often to chase successive autumns across the Northeast. Did not leave much time for knitting. In addition, my fabulously talented friends seemed to have moved so far past my knitting abilities it was almost embarrassing to pick up a set of #11 needles and dive in again. I most want to learn to knit in the round, having given up on it many years ago and not returned. This hat has me inspired. Eliot's mom has mad knitting skills.

J--one of those fabulous knitters--gave me a gift card for my birthday to our favorite yarn and fabric store in NYC, Purl. I was going to use it for fabric, but I'm starting to think I should choose yarn instead. Last year at this time I purchased the most delicious autumnal fabric though. Hmmmm...a trip to the city is in the works anyway so perhaps I'll have to make the decision soon. Then, there are also a variety of wonderful yarns available at the Troy Farmers Market on Saturdays. Ah, tough decisions.

Stay tuned for my knitting mishaps.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

pumpkins pumpkins

Yesterday I bought three baby pumpkins at the co-op. More for decoration than anything else, yet the purchased reminded me that I need to make something pumpkin this week. I cannot recall if I have already posted this recipe shared by S, just in case, here it is again. Vegan deliciousness!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
Submitted by Isa
prep time: 15 minutes | cooking time: 32 minutes | makes 4 dozen cookies
These are soft out of the oven, but as they cool they are nice and chewy. They are a serious crowd pleaser, for crowds with taste buds.

Note: I use flax seeds because they make the texture a little chewier, but I've made them without and they're still good!

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin, or cooked pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional: 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

Preheat oven to 350. Have ready 2 greased baking sheets.

Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, molasses, pumpkin and vanilla (and flax seeds if using) until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, folding to combine.

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. They don't spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. You'll have enough batter for 4 trays.

Remove from oven and get cookies onto a wire rack to cool. These taste best when they've had some time to cool and set. They taste even better the next day!