Wednesday, November 26, 2008

safe travels, joy, food and sleep

May all be yours this weekend as we celebrate together! I am headed to Rochester with RJR to enjoy family and food, nothing I love more than cooking together. Be safe, be well and come back to reality refreshed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

favorite things : : tea towels

Skinny LaMinx towel

I collect tea towels. Vintage, new, wonderfully absorbent tea towels. I cannot recall exactly when this phenomenon started, but it has reached a fevered peak. I have talked to many about my inability to buy paper towels. Won't stand for it. Tissues and toilet paper, sure thing. Paper towels and paper napkins, no. Not going to do it. So easy to tear off by the armful, sop up the mess, and discard where it eventually ends up entombed in a plastic bag coffin rustling in the breeze in the bucket of a pay loader piling one more layer of our consumerism at the county landfill. One of these landfills sits behind my parents' house. Ugh.

At my house, we use tea towels to sop up that mess, tea towels as napkins, and older worn out tea towels for the really dirty stuff. Some of my towels have been gleaned from flea markets, others from "antique" shops (stores with old stuff that would not really be considered historic), and a handful of new ones from snappy designers. What better way to spruce up the boring white apartment kitchen than with a colorful swath of fabric? The best towels are made of high quality cotton that gets better and better with each wash.

Etsy has many great choices if you want to start your collection today!

Lovelane towel

i love pink dots towel

Thursday, November 20, 2008

favorite things : : local honey

Golden, sticky, warm, wonderful locally produced honey. Last year I decided to scale back my sugar intake to see if that would help me improve the ratio of days with headaches to days without headaches. The headaches turned out to be related to something else, but I've stuck to my honey plan and found that it has almost completely kicked my addiction to sugar. Used to be that I need something sweet after every meal. Now, I'm content with my coffee and have none of the yucky sugar side affects throughout the day--the highs and lows. I figure this also helps me stay away from other sugary syrups and condiments that aren't honey based. Rules. I can play by rules even if I know that I made them up.

I have been purchasing my honey from Lloyd Spear Beekeeper, Inc. who sells his wares at the Troy Farmers Market. The bees are located in Schenectady NY and other surrounding towns. Having just read The Secret Life of Bees as a reading indulgence, I now want to take a bee keeping class. This is to prepare myself for the time in my life when I have honey bees and chickens in my quaint urban homestead. Did you see that more and more urbanites are taking up chickens? And to respond in advance to the post that will surely be placed by my mom, yes, I do remember when you went up against the zoning board to get goats in our suburban town growing up. What can I say, the apple doesn't fall far...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

favorite things : : jane carter curly hair care

Having left Whole Foods behind in Philadelphia upon moving to Upstate, I have had to find a new source for the magical curly hair solution I've found so perfect to tame my mane. Jane Carter's condition and sculpt formula has none of the yucky silicone, paraben, or glycerin that dissuades me from other products. It also does not contain alcohol, an all too common haircare ingredient that is counter intuitive. Like many of those who review it online, I too combine it with a bit of pomade or wax (I use MOP or other organic versions of the same) to get the degree of hold I want.

My primary source for this magic now is The website has a myriad of products available and even includes the humidity forecasts for cities across the country, the primary threat to our heads. The site also features curly hair types, from 2-4 with ranges in between. These types are paired with celebrity examples like Sandra Oh, Juliana Marguiles, and Erykah Badu so you can see where you might fit and what you might like to use.

Monday, November 17, 2008

favorite things : : envirosax

I know, I know, everyone in blog land does favorite things. And I'm joining them. Last week was a blurry fog of sleeplessness and spreadsheets. I'm determined to throw that off this week and start today, Monday, with a new approach. I am convinced there has to be a better way to get tasks completed or to set up a more realistic--and healthy--workday. As much as last week nearly killed me, it did help me conquer one of the foremost barriers to a better system, getting up earlier! Not that I want to awake at 4AM every day, but 6AM without going back to sleep and running to the bus stop sans breakfast, work out clothes for the gym and make up--not my idea of a good start to the day.

Here is the new schedule: 6AM, prayer, 6:15 yoga poses, 6:30 get presentable, 7:00 breakfast, 7:15 off to the bus stop, 8AM at the desk. One day down and it worked. Now, this only becomes functional I realize if I have the lunch packed the night before and my gym clothes ready and waiting by the door, but that can be accomplished. Yes, it can. I'm saying this out loud more for me than for the readership.

Favorite thing that can help me do these steps better? Envirosax. Handy dandy lightweight bags that expand to enormous proportions. Lunch, check. Book to read on the bus, check. Workout clothes and towel, check. Vitamins, check. Pile of unopened mail, check. The latter may or may not get read on the way in to work.

Monday, November 10, 2008

falling off the face of the earth

Kind of. Work, work, work. Some sleep and some food. That is about the extent of my life right now. When I have more interesting things to say, I will sign back on. For now, I need every extra minute for getting through the day and seeing people that I love.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

on heat and bills

I'm living in fear of the National Grid bill this month. While I am happy to have autumn in town, it means a lot more money to keep this place warm. Most of the time I am fine with a hoody and even a hat in the house, but ask my houseguests these last few weeks, not everyone appreciates the cost savings measures. The clever RJR suggested that I use the layout of the house to my advantage by hanging a thick curtain in the tiny hallway entry that separates the front of the apartment from the back. With a thermostat on either side of the hall, this could work out well.

Over the summer he and I happened upon a junk sale near his office, really a pile of quasi-antiques in a muddy parking lot. I unearthed the orange folding table that holds herbs in the kitchen and also the black plant rack that is in front of a "fireplace" in the parlor. In addition, I found a roll of designer fabric, rough linen with wool embroidery over top, very revolutionary war period--nearly 10 yards for $5. The stuff is incredibly sturdy and seemed just the thing to make the curtain. I still need a heavy duty rod and an equally durable tie back to finish it off, but here is a first look at it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

more interior

As you can see from this string of photographs over the last few days, I have been able to get more settled in of late, trying to keep the energy going by carving out an hour or so each day to take on a new project. Saturday RJR and I went for a brisk walk and found a black IKEA chair in a dumpster. Yee haw! Perfect for my studio that is getting straightened out. The light is excellent from 3PM to dark. So far I have only been sewing curtains in there, but I have my sights set on a still life in pencil for this week's evening practice. Much like my goal to get to the gym more, this is an alternating project. Last week I was two nights at the gym and one night drawing. Here's aiming for three workouts and two nights at the easel.

View from the studio into the "parlor" or reading room.

Monday, November 3, 2008

on sticks and mirrors

No, not smoke and mirrors, sticks and mirrors! I have a thing for both. As long as I can remember I have reveled in the structural presence of the naked branch. Maybe that is part of why I adore autumn, it is the slow unveiling of the tree, the foundation that holds up the lacy artifice that we see most the year. When these fall to the ground, whether due to weather or human intervention, I'm happy to bring a few home with me to decorate and delight. When J and I lived on Ashland Street in the Southwedge we had plenty of sticks in place, including one suspended above my bed to give it a sleeping in the forest feel.

More recently, I have added mirrors to my collection of must have items. With rules though, none over $20 and must have character. All four of those pictured here were found over the course of the last year in the boyfriend's hometown of Little Falls, NY. I'm telling you, people from the city must only go as far as Hudson, NY to go antiquing and thus miss out on the finds in the Mohawk Valley. The sticks, well, most of them are local too!

This is the one wall I have painted so far, deep chocolate. The mirror was an $8 find that I painted a flat black enamel. This tiny space is looking gothic this season.

Except this driftwood from Canadice!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

lazy morning

Finally a morning to glory in autumn, slowly, deliberately, soaking it in through the kitchen window. Cup of coffee, sketch pad, inspired to draw after seeing such nice local art on display. Work is still overwhelmingly busy and so this respite was much welcomed. Centering before another week where I am in over my head.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


How do you spell that? Friday I realized almost too late that I didn't have nearly enough plates for both munchy food and the post art gallery walk dessert selections. So, I headed to the Salvation Army to mine the stash of dishware. I came home with 15 pieces for less than six dollars. Amazing. All sorts of funky designs, perfect for my eclectic mishmash style of entertaining. And, cheaper than a set of 12 nifty plates from Target that I almost purchased earlier in the week. Less impact on the environment, buying second hand is always better for the earth, and less impact on my wallet when we get to use them again and again. Of course they all had to be washed first...

The gathering turned out to be a perfect size, small with autumnal food ("A" brought a cranberry apple crisp pie with a crust she invented that includes oats and coconut) and the pumpkin cookies tasted exactly like Starbuck's pumpkin scones. One guest even wore a costume to the delight of many young children out last night, he was a dead ringer for the Joker.

When we were out for the gallery walk, I was asked to think about teaching art again by a representative from the local Arts Center. Something I'm mulling over. A new work colleague used to work in a wine store and brought me a bottle of excellent champagne. Little did she know that is one of my favorite indulgences. Somewhere around midnight we opened the bottle amidst discourse on all things politics and religion. Troy impressed the heck out of my guests, making me proud.