Wednesday, November 30, 2011


If you haven't discovered Spoonflower yet, you are in for some lost time as you browse the ridiculous amount of awesome fabric that people have designed. Spoonflower is an amazing idea for retail, letting ordinary people design fabric and then making that fabric available for anyone else to purchase. Sure, the prices tend to be a little more than the fabric you find at Jo-Ann's or Hancock Fabrics, but these designs are usually a lot better than you find there too.

Left to Right: Roots of Art by Johanna Design, 2012 Tea Towel Calendar by PennyCandy, City in Colors by Nadja Petremand, Time Travel Map by jenimp
Left to Right: Roots of Art by Johanna Design, 2012 Tea Towel Calendar by PennyCandy, City in Colors by Nadja Petremand, Time Travel Map by jenimp

This week, they are running a fabric sale on fat quarters (2 for 1). In short this means that all of those cool designs are basically buy one get one free (for fat quarters only). Not only can you get some awesome fabrics, but you can get a whole, easy to complete, project because fat quarters are the perfect size to make into tea towels. I snapped up these four of my favorites to make my own tea towels* for the kitchen when it comes to that desperate winter boredom that sets in around January (as if I don't already have a long enough project list).

*If you too decide to make some tea towels, be sure to select linen-cotton canvas because quilting weight is not going to be at all absorbent as a towel.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lucky Find

I have so many things I have been wanting to share that it's hard to decide where to start! I suppose the crafty Lucky Jackson of 365 Lucky Days is on my mind because I can't imagine getting a sewing project a day done over the holidays. I have spent a few weekend days tackling some fun sewing projects to give as gifts this year so I'm certainly feeling the spirit of craftiness. But she is amazing for tackling such a huge goal and for making such amazing sampler vignettes every single day.

I eagerly check in everyday to see her latest post. So glad to have found her so early in her year of crafts so I have this to look forward to for the next 10 months...

365 Lucky Days discovered via Eat Drink Chic

Friday, November 18, 2011

How to Live: Lesson 5

Artwork by Emily, photo from her Instagram stream, EmilyHampton
 Beyond setting a fashion example, my little sister sets an example on how to follow your dreams. It's easy to stick to the job that pays the bills, especially when the alternative involves moving across the country to a state where you don't know a soul, taking on more debt, and starting over as a student again, but she rejected her comfortable routine and motivated herself to make a huge life change with the end goal of doing what she loves.

I know myself enough to realize that I will probably never decide to jettison my paycheck in order to start a new career. My interests are fluid enough that I'm not certain I'd be able to settle on a dream job if I tried; it's likely that I will always find parts of my job that fulfill me and hobbies to make me happy, but I will always look to my sister's example to inspire me to know myself and be willing to make the sacrifices it takes to ensure my own happiness.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How to Live: Lesson 4

Clearly their sense of style they learned from me. (It was Nerd Day.)
 My sisters have both taught me a variety of things about life. Because of them, I know how to bring up something in such a way as to make someone think it was their idea, I know how to leverage guilt, and I know just how hard to bite in order not to draw blood. However, I don't think these are lessons they've taught me so much as allowed me to perfect. (If I'm being honest, I'm pretty sure I've been the teacher in all those circumstances.)

They have continued to teach me as we've reached adulthood. One of my sisters had to deal with a devastating loss a lot earlier than most. When most people are only thinking of their futures, she had to confront creating whole new dreams for her future. Her strength and bravery in building a new life inspire me every day. She didn't let her grief define her; instead, she has opened her heart up to even more people and experiences.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to Live: Lesson 3

Picture by Erin
 I have made a few mistakes that I deeply regret, and nearly all of them have been the couple poor choices that ended up hurting the feelings of friends. One of these mistakes was how I treated my best friend, Erin, our senior year of high school. She was going through some stuff, and instead of supporting her, I was sarcastic and made jokes and was just an awful friend. But we never talked about it; I'm sure my detachment hurt her, but she never said and we both just sort of ignored it and headed off to our respective colleges, continuing to stay in touch and visit.

When I we got home from college the next summer, our friendship resumed, but the way I had treated her a year earlier weighed on me. When I apologized, Erin just said, "We can forget it. Thanks for apologizing." And that was it. It has never affected our relationship since. She has always been an amazing friend, never once holding that mistake against me.

Any time I deal with someone who has hurt me, I think of Erin's reaction, and I try to be as strong as she was in just letting it all go.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Live: Lesson 2

Books by Zeromusta via Flickr
    Every stressful event in my life has been survived because I was able to have my nose in a book. The week where I quit my job, signed the mortgage on our first home, moved, and started my new job, I read a book a day. My sister was visiting, and I vividly remember her sitting, bored, on a box in the middle of our empty living room as I said to her for the third or fourth time, "I just need a second to finish this chapter."
     It wasn't even a particularly good book, but it was the only way I could keep from freaking out about all the major life decisions I was in the midst of making.

     My mother, a librarian, gets credit for this survival strategy of mine. My childhood memories nearly all include a pile of books, acting out the plot of a book, or having imaginary conversations with the characters from my most recently read book. I (probably not so) secretly believed that my life would follow the same course as Anne of Green Gables' did, and found myself being attracted to the boys who tortured me with their disinterest and/or unavailability.

     Thanks to my mother, I can always make small talk with strangers (if I notice them over the top of the book I'm probably reading), I can survive even the absolute worst days at work (though it means bringing out the book over the lunch break), and I can attest to the fact that the book is always better than the movie.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Live: Lesson 1

Brown Butter Sauce in Bowl by Shanna Hatfield, Savvy Entertaining
The other night I was making what turned out to be an amazing dinner of pumpkin ravioli with sage and brown butter*, and as I stirred the butter, my mind wandered to the women who've taught me some pretty significant life lessons.

It's funny that it all began with the brown butter because it seems like an almost insignificant lesson in the whole scheme of life lessons, but it leads to all the other things I learned from the woman who taught me how to make it. I learned that you can make nearly anything better with the addition of brown butter from Patsy, the first woman boss I ever had who was the owner of a successful catering business in my hometown. I worked for her as she started her catering business and stayed with her as she grew it into a full-time job that kept the golf club (where her business came to be headquartered) in business far longer than than it deserved.

Not only was she incredibly knowledgeable about cooking, but she understood the business of cooking as well. Because of her quiet example, I saw how to handle stress and frustration and sexism without letting it destroy you or your business relationships with difficult people. I learned how to let go. Sometimes people let you down. Sometimes it's just not a good idea to put the extra hour into making all the potatoes in a dish look like mushrooms because only one person in the whole crowd will notice it. Sometimes the business you worked so hard to make successful is taking too much from you, and it's time to start over with something else. And you just need to let it go. Quietly.** Gracefully.** And without bitterness.**

*I could practically drink that stuff through a straw it's so good.
**Well, I said she set an example. I can't say I actually follow it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I Do

     I tell a lot of stories on here about my frustration with Nathan's understatement when it comes to the emotional portion of our relationship. It's true that he's not particularly verbal in expressing his love, but I've gotten pretty good at recognizing the things he does that show how deeply he must love me.

     Of course, there's the obvious: he married me. He's a man who dislikes being the center of attention (one of the reasons we work well together as I love attention) and is uncomfortable even watching a kissing scene in a movie, let alone being part of a public display affection. And yet he took part in a wedding ceremony filled with emotional moments, tears, and capped with a full on kiss in front of a photographer. And he didn't look tortured even once, not even during the extensive photograph session, which made him late to dinner.

     Another incident that truly proved the depth of his love happened on a trip to the East Coast a few years ago. It was when the airports had recently instituted the no liquids policy, and I had bought some jam in Cape Cod. It didn't even cross my mind that the jam was a gel that couldn't get through security and of course they stopped me and told me that I could check the bag and come back through. Nathan was already through so he headed to the gate while I went back to check that stupid bag (I wasn't about to throw out that ridiculous jam; it cost me a whole $7).
     For some reason, security took much longer the second time through, and I raced up just as they closed the door to the plane. I saw the pained look on Nathan's face as he watched and knew that he had been terribly tempted to leave me behind. But he hadn't, and he didn't say one word the rest of the very long day and night while all remaining flights of the day were delayed and/or cancelled due to storms (though he does bring it up rather often now that the incident is far in the past). We would have been home by 7PM, but with the missed flight and subsequent delays we didn't get home until 2AM. Now that is love.

    And even more recently he caved and agreed to be a part of a couple's Halloween costume, which is usually one of his least favorite things. I suspect he was secretly somewhat excited about it because he's a big fan of Plants v. Zombies, but that's just a hunch.
     So keep in mind that even as I'm giving him grief about his lack of sympathy and his dispassion, I know that he loves me, and I do (usually) notice the things he does that show it. I'm not letting him off the hook for the normal romantic stuff though. Perhaps he'll give in as we get older. I'm not counting on it because he is way more stubborn than I am.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Favorite Song

I cannot get enough of this song, Come Alive by Hanni El Khatib!!! It was a lovely birthday present when it finally arrived, and I've been listening to it ever since.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Good Fit

Tallnut, Grampa Zombie, Traffic Cone Zombie, Peashooter, and Sun from Plants v. Zombies

Recent Conversation #9

Lying in bed on Sunday night, I rolled over to face him.
Me: I love your family. Know why?
Him: No.
Me: I love that they are game to do something as nerdy as reenacting Plants v. Zombies in full costume. In public. That was so much fun.
Him: That's not nerdy.
Me: No? What about the fact that we did it three times with considerable more detail each time? And that we referred to the game for accuracy?