Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing in the new year

Friends, I am very excited to ring in the new year. I love making new year's resolutions. For a while, I used to make the same one every year. Last year, I decided that that particular goal (to stop "chomping at the bit" and appreciate things more in the moment) is really just going to be an "always" thing, so I made a bunch of small goals to chip away at over the course of the year. I wrote them in the back of my planner and checked in with them every once in a while. They were:

1) Watch less TV. By this I meant "mindless" TV, where I just turn on any old show to zone out. I did pretty well with this in '09 by phasing out The Learning Channel almost entirely. And now we're getting rid of cable and moving to an Apple TV/Roku combo, so I think I'll still be good for 2010.

2) Don't overtip. Was part of a "save money" concept. I'm a rampant overtipper. Still am. Utterly failed at this one. Not going to make a second attempt. Oh well.

3) Keep "adultifying" wardrobe. Major success with this one. Gave many bags of good but teenager-y clothes to the Salvation Army. I even studied some blogs and sites like Polyvore for outfit ideas and bought a few new things that fit well and that I'll get a lot of use out of. I think I'll keep this one up in 2010.

4) Be more open to sad or scary TV/movies. I know, number one was watch less TV, right? Well, that was about mindless TV, and a lot of stuff that I might actually find to be really good art takes a lot out of me, so sometimes I just avoid it (life can be sad and scary enough!) and go for the lighter stuff. I tried this a *bit*, I did make it all the way through Buffy (which is scarier than my usual fare). Still haven't watched The Wire.

5) Take in less celebrity gossip/superficial stuff. Hugely successful. I don't buy gossip rags. (I'm not even sure how I started doing that—I was never into that stuff and then once I was out of the academic bubble I got addicted or something.) I hardly ever go on I couldn't tell you a thing currently about who's pregnant or breaking up or dangerously losing weight. YESSS.

So far, the 2010 goals are:

1) Save more money. I got a small raise this year and want to start socking more away.

2) Take my vitamins. This is so easy. Why don't I actually do it?

3) Do my own creative projects. Creative energy was an unexpected wedding perk. Gotta ride that out.

4) Don't overbook myself. Ties in with the creative project thing. I have to choose my projects carefully and realistically consider how much time they'll take. Learned my lesson on that this year.

Do you have any resolutions for 2010?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter love

I'm not hating winter yet. Maybe because it's early still, or maybe because I own a bigass coat and waterproof boots. I'm craving some time away in a cabin or something, with the warmth and smoky smell of a woodstove and some acoustic guitar in the background. I'm falling in love with everything; men, women, toddlers, cups of coffee, granite buildings, pieces of music, my husband eating a big bowl of soup. Everything seems crisp and clear and irrepressibly lovely.

This could all be the cold medicine talking, I guess. Forgive me for being so moony :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Undercover eating

OK, so I'm a little late on this one, but when I get crazy busy, it takes me a while to finish reading my New Yorker issues!

I am a big fan of eating, and living in NYC and watching a bunch of Top Chef over the past couple of years has really peaked my interest in trying out different "good" restaurants. The Michelin guide is generally considered the be-all, end-all source of restaurant recommendations...except, it seems, in NYC, where Michelin has failed to recognize local staples such as Craft (drool).

So who decides which restaurants make Michelin's cut? (In other words, who's *not* drooling over Craft?) Until now, we've never known. For the first time, in an effort to gain ground among the New York "foodie" crowd, Michelin has allowed one of their restaurant inspectors to participate in an interview. The inspector remains anonymous, but this is a fascinating read! Inspectors must always maintain their anonymity. They're undercover food detectives!

As one famous for her bafflingly disparate (high/low) tastes (yes, I drool over Craft, but revisit my posts on Teddy Grahams and Campbell's green bean casserole if you must), I don't think I would ever be very good at a job like this. But all your fancy meals paid for...a bit tempting, eh?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving at home

Since we've been traveling so much this fall (what with the wedding and all), Chris and I decided to stay put for Thanksgiving and host Chris's little bro for dinner. The elements of our awesome day:

More flowers.
Cat in a box.
Veggies (and homemade cranberry sauce contributed by my awesome co-worker!)
Vegetarian plate (thank you, Quorn!). Including regular beans and green bean casserole (because sometimes stuff baked with a can of soup and fried onions rocks).
Beatles Rock Band.
And to top it off, tea, dessert (flourless chocolate cake), and an old movie: The Seven Year Itch.

Hope everyone had a terrific turkey day!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Running my days

During the early stages of wedding planning, I was talking with my mom about scheduling some time to meet with caterers. I whipped out my trusty Day Runner and she exclaimed "You still have that thing?"

Yes, I do. Mom bought it for me on a back-to-school Staples run one year, and I never looked back. This must have been after the ordinance enforcing mandatory use of school-issued "agendas" was lifted, but I can't pin down the exact year.

Long after they stopped selling 6-ring generic planner refills at our local Wal-Mart, I continued using this thing. I order refills every year online.

For one year after college, I stopped using it. I figured, "Hey, I don't have any homework, right?" I felt lost. I get so much more done if I write it down longhand. That makes it real. That means I will do it. And that means I get to scribble it into oblivion once it is done:

There are few things more satisfying than scribbling out to-dos. Now, my mom is right. This thing is old. This thing is so old that plaid has come back into fashion. The cat recently chewed on the little closure strap (check the close-up of his teeth marks below). And, I'll be honest, the cloth cover smells a little bit funny. (I've tried Febreeze.)
It's no secret that I love to keep stuff until I've run it into the ground. Sometimes I just get attached to things that make me feel like me. I've been considering getting a new planner, but they seem so slick and sterile. They scream "I am an organized professional!" This one...well, let's just say I've taken to calling this one my "serial killer notebook."

For if I got a new planner, would it take kindly to my cutting up and punching holes in prints of artwork that I like?

Or to my scribblings of sights I see or things I hear? (Recent favorite: Teenage girl describing a disliked schoolmate as having the look of "an angry snowball." I am so using that.)

Would a new planner sneer at the ridiculous way in which I do math?
This little book is home to all kinds of scraps of me. Nutty scribblings, big ideas, concert ticket stubs, business cards, bar recommendations, books to read, and a beautiful piece written for me by a poet friend years ago, which I whip out whenever I'm feeling down on myself.

Last year, one of my Christmas presents from Chris was a set of colorful monthly divider tabs featuring pictures of the cat and cute little notes.
I think I'll be hanging on to this book a little while yet...

Friday, November 20, 2009

5 coolest words in the English language

I am loving "desiderium" (an ardent desire or wish; a longing, properly for a thing once possessed and now missed; a sense of loss).

Check out the rest here!

Do you have any favorite words? I've always loved "ineffable".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Recent musings

"I'm trying to find me a better way
to get from the things I do to the things I should."

–Counting Crows
It's no mistake that I've been listening to the Counting Crows for about 15 years. I can always find something in their lyrics that speaks to me, no matter what I'm going through.


Do you guys ever overcommit yourselves?

I spent a lot of time this weekend seriously trying to nail down my priorities and get my focus back. I've never been one to shy away from extracurricular activities, and this is a problem. I had a really good balance going and threw it off about 6 months ago by adding another musical endeavor. It's been part of what's been making me feel sorta strung out these days. So I had to quit today. Well, not quit so much as begin to develop a plan to quit. I'm going to phase out my involvement over the next few months so as not to utterly screw over the other group members. I want to be prioritizing some personal, non-music creative projects.

On the one hand, I am glad I figured out that I needed to take this step, and that I mustered the courage to take it. I generally suck at backing out of anything. Usually, this is good. I'm not one to RSVP to every Facebook event or whatnot, but if I say I'll do something, I mean it and I'll do it. This can sometimes lead to doing things I don't really want to be doing because I can't say no once I've said yes. Perhaps this is also conflict avoidance. But on the other hand, does it ever suck to let people down. And I wind up feeling a little disappointed in myself for being a quitter...but hey, remember my tarot? I've got to make those difficult changes to keep my "wish" from slipping away.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Ever since I saw this photo of a girl wearing a venki, a Russian wildflower crown, I've been meaning to post it. Wish I were donning one of these today! 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Typography nerdery

For all you designers out there, or all you general typography nerds, this New York Times piece is just great.
“I think sometimes that being overly type-sensitive is like an allergy,” said Michael Bierut, a partner in the Pentagram design group in New York. “My font nerdiness makes me have bad reactions to things that spoil otherwise pleasant moments.”
One of my favorite proofreading marks is "wf" for "wrong font." You'd be surprised how many times a little something ends up in the wrong font. Usually this happens with quotation marks, and it's easy to tell because some are curvy and some are not. (Once, I proofed something for Chris and he read the "wf" mark as "wtf." I told my boss that we should introduce that mark ASAP.) Now I feel like re-watching Helvetica!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy birthday, Sesame Street!

Yesterday, I was present at this temporary street naming ceremony. Yup, in honor of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary, New York temporarily has an actual Sesame Street. And the City of New York has declared today Sesame Street Day.

The best thing about yesterday was seeing Big Bird in person for the first time. I was face-to-face with the puppeteer, and later saw the Muppet itself. My heart stopped. I wanted to throw my arms around him and couldn't look at anything else. (Well, that's why kids like him so much. You can't look away from an 8-foot-2 bright yellow bird with those wide, curious eyes!) Fun Big Bird fact: His feathers are double-dyed to achieve the correct rich yellow. Anyway, the NYPD stopped traffic on Broadway so Big Bird (and us Sesame employees) could cross the street to stand on the steps of Lincoln Center and sing "Sunny Days" and "Sing" for all the news crews.

I also LOVED that Fran Brill, the woman who puppeteers Zoe, heard a little girl in the crowd cry "Zoe! Zoe!" and brought the puppet over to give the girl a kiss.

Yeah, that was a cool Monday at work!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Boot dilemma

First there was the bag dilemma. Now there is the boot dilemma.

There was an earlier boot dilemma, but it has been sorta solved after some trial and error. This was the adventure of replacing my very, very beloved riding boots. I don't think I'll ever love any shoes or article of clothing as much as I love(d) those boots. They're actually broken and unwearable, yet still in my closet, because I have this fantasy that my Russian shoe guy can replace the entire broken zipper tread on the right boot and that I will still wear them no matter how beat-up they are. Maybe someday I'll get a horse. It wouldn't matter if I actually rode in super beat-up riding boots!

Now it's getting chilly and there is the winter boot dilemma. Last year, I decided to stop f*#king around and start dressing like I live in Alaska. I've had my eye on these Thinsulate-lined waterproof boots for a few months:
I wouldn't have to bring extra shoes to work with these! But the customer reviews say they are very wide in the calf, and various sites give different measurements. Might just order and try.

Here are the other (and cheaper!) options:

I'm looking at black so I don't have to worry about them getting dirty. And I'm looking at stuff that is not suede, which is tough to come by. Suede is not for slogging through slush puddles!

I never know how much to spend on shoes, because I'm positive that I will kick the crap out of *any* pair of shoes with all the walking I do. But Chris just told me about something he read: Most clothing sales are down, but not shoe sales. When asked about buying a pricey pair of shoes, a woman in NYC said she considers her shoes to be her car and is willing to spend what she might spend on keeping up a car. Hmmmmm, I wish he had never told me that...

Friday, November 6, 2009


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Slow loris

Why do these people have a slow loris? I don't know, but it brightens my day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ages ago, Jenn posted a link to "The Different Kinds of People That There Are." I now think about this article all the time and sometimes come up with new types in my head when I am bored in public places. Today I came up with one: "People whose Starbucks orders consist of 5 words or more." (You know who you are, decaf-grande-nonfat-no whip-something-ccino-with-an-extra-shot." Or whatever.)

Halloween, and my tarot

Did you dress up this Halloween? What was your costume? Chris and I went as Buffy and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My obsession has been adequately documented.

My new band played at a co-worker's party the night before Halloween. So many people "got" my costume! (I had a t-shirt that said "Sunnydale" under my biker jacket, which helped. And a wooden stake and some "holy water" in a perfume bottle.)On Halloween, we took a ghost tour of Greenwich Village and learned that thousands of bodies were buried under Washington Square Park after a yellow fever epidemic. And I stomped on Peter Stuyvesant's tomb.

We eventually bailed on the Village Halloween Parade due to rain. Back in Queens, we ducked into a local pub, where they had a tarot card reader. We each got a 3-card tarot reading. I've been thinking about mine for days.
Before the reading, I shuffled the cards and (silently) dwelled upon a particular question. Then the reader revealed the cards. My "past" card was The Empress. It signified a time of creativity and fruitfulness. The present was the Nine of Cups—upside-down. If this card is upright, it means that a wish will be granted; that you will enjoy good fortune. For me, the card meant that I feel a wish slipping away, and that I am obsessed with the possibility of not getting this wish. My "future" card was Death. I did not post it here because it is totally freaky. According to the tarot reader, this means something that is troubling me is going to end and a change will take place. It may be a difficult change, but it can help me work toward getting the wish.

I did this reading as a fun and silly activity, but I am really glad I decided to do it. It has actually made me start thinking about how to get my wish, and about the ways in which I might be standing in my own way by not making difficult changes.

Have you ever had your tarot cards or palm read? Your fortune told? Did you giggle the entire time? Did you take anything away from it?

Unexpected wedding perk

Well, it's hard to believe, but we're one month into our marriage! Way back at the beginning of our engagement, I couldn't fathom how we were going to plan and pull off a wedding. I'd heard so many horror stories about how it becomes a full-time job ("Say what? I already have one of those!").

So we left ourselves a year and a half. That worked for us, because up until the end, we were able to work on one. thing. at. a. time. And we definitely did a lot! I'm realizing 2 important things now in the aftermath of wedding planning:

1) I can jam way more productive stuff into my days than I previously thought I could.

2) Doing all of the creative projects for the wedding felt great.

Yes, I'm loving being married to my best friend, but there's an unexpected perk: I'm experiencing a post-wedding creative high. I'm making sure that I keep devoting ample time to creative projects, now that I've realized how much I can handle at once. I've already got a list!

Image: Chris working with the homemade letterpress. Awesome creative project that unfortunately was not efficient enough to create all of our invites.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reception fun

Finally, folks, some details from the reception!

We ate dinner upstairs in the 2nd floor ballroom. Our favors were little bookmarks, designed by Chris. Tassels tied by me and Chris.
We chose the books for our centerpieces over the course of our engagement, from The Strand and also from the gold mine known as my grandma's garage. Guests took home books, which were stamped inside with the little "Beth & Chris" doodad from the bookmark. The candles sprang from an idea Chris had. My mom made the idea reality by stamping text on vellum and wrapping the votive holders (aka glasses from Wal-Mart) with it.

Chris's bro, the best man, gave a terrific speech.
I was touched. And cracked up a bunch, too. Like when he told the story about the French guy in Indonesia who referred to me solely as "Muppet" during a day-long biking trip.
He said he learned from us that we have to carve out our own little corner of the world and fill it with love and books and film and music...and cats. The parents and grandparents liked that. (Including Chris's 92-year old grandma who came from Australia!)
We ate our dinners. I had the veggie options: butternut squash soup and mushroom ravioli. We said thank-you's, I presented my mom with my bouquet, and we cut our cake.
We meant to cut it with the knife from my mom and dad's wedding, but it was left down in the building's basement. Oops. Nonetheless, it was delicious (chocolate w/chocolate fudge filling). And the quote was perfect. "Forever is composed of nows." –Emily Dickinson

We moved on to dancing downstairs on the 1st floor. We had a guestbook labeled "who" and various notebooks, writing instruments, and prompts throughout the room: what is your favorite book?; where did you travel from to join us?; when (below); why did the chicken cross the road?
We got terrific answers in all of the books. The little children wrote prolifically, while sometimes off-topic.

For our first dance, our friend Anna played guitar and sang.

We all danced. And the children charmed the dickens out of everyone!
We had a great wedding day. Thanks to everyone who was there for us, and everyone who wished us well from afar!

P.S. Once again, professional pics by Julie Kuceris. Blurrier ones by miscellaneous wedding guests :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My ring

As promised, the story behind my ring...

Chris's great-grandfather, living in South Africa, gave this ring to Chris's great-grandmother before going off to fight in World War I. The story has a happy ending—he returned and they were married in 1918. The ring was passed to Chris's grandmother, then his mother. Guess I have to be prepared to part with it if we have a daughter!

The ring is about to undergo some transformations. I've been extremely reluctant to do even one thing to it, but at the urging of my mother-in-law and 2 highly respected NYC jewelers, I've got to have the settings re-done. Apparently the stones are are too small for the settings they're in, and have shifted over the years. I've been having trouble finding someone who will agree to keep the look and character of the ring basically the same.

I love this ring to death, but believe it or not, I've had a few "snooty" comments while wearing this—about how I should have the stones cleaned or about how I can always buy myself a "nice" diamond later in marriage. Oy. The stones are clean, but they don't blind you like today's diamonds (we've learned how to optimize light reflection with laser cuts). They were hand-cut. They were meant to sparkle in candlelight—and they do! I've also had a few random compliments on the ring during low-lit dinners. As for "nice"...I couldn't have dreamed up a ring that I would like better.

As mentioned in the ceremony post, I decided to forego a separate wedding band. Because of the ring's twisty shape, I'd have to really have something made to specifically fit around it. And when I already love the ring itself, it seemed unnecessary to go to the trouble of having a whole separate piece of jewelry made. This symbolizes absolutely everything I want it to. So that's where the nerdy Lord of the Rings joke comes from. It is my "one ring."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bag dilemma part 2

I still haven't solved my bag dilemma, but today I began considering buying a diaper bag. Now, before you say what Chris said ("Um, something I should know about??") or fall off your chair laughing, consider this:

-Diaper bags are huge. I can fit all my books and sh*t in there.
-Diaper bags are durable. I can bang it around all I want.
-Diaper bags have insulated compartments. Bet I could fit my lunch in there.
-Diaper bags have carrying options (handles, shoulder straps, etc.)
-Diaper bags are WASHABLE.

Some diaper bags look very purse-like nowadays. Hmmm.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Hello, friends...we're back from our wedding/honeymoon hiatus! I can't resist reliving it all a little, so my next few posts will include some highlights.

It was a dark and stormy day.

Over the week, we watched the weather report go from great to okay to apocalyptic. We had to nix the outdoor ceremony planned for here...

But everyone kept telling us it was good luck to get married on a rainy day. So we posted this:

And we moved to Plan B: Indoor ceremony. Built in 1896, the building features a lot of dark, rich wood and actually felt quite cozy. The violinists were playing Bach, more beautifully than I could have imagined it.

The guys waited upstairs. After a small disaster with the wheat boutonnieres (which were meant to be tiny, but showed up that morning long enough to stab out an eye!), they pinned the trimmed-down versions to their lapels.

The bridesmaids and bridesmen* (my 2 brothers, their term!) made their entrances. The girls had JCrew dresses and the guys had ties to match. (Dear friend and youngest bro. How much are you digging his current shaggy hairdo??):

Dad and I tried to remember to walk slowly down the aisle, lined with great-smelling potted mums. My mom wrapped them in paper and my brother helped her tie the ribbons. The bouquets (mums, berries, and wheat) were ordered through the supermarket.
Our friends read from Thoreau (here's a snippet) and read a transcript of this adorable Sesame Street sketch about marriage. I had some reservations about mixing work and my wedding, but I've always loved Grover and always will, quite outside the context of work.

We read our own vows. I was floored by Chris's. We exchanged rings. Chris's ring was done through the Clay Pot in Brooklyn, by Jerry Spaulding. I opted to keep my engagement ring as my "one ring" (and made that nerdy Lord of the Rings joke every time someone asked about my wedding band). More about my ring later.

And we were married!!

Some time before the ceremony, we each realized independently that we'd never practiced the "wedding kiss." And now I'm super-glad...because it was 100% perfect and in the moment. What do you think about practicing wedding kisses??

P.S. Hairpiece was from Etsy, and my awesome mom did my hair!
P.P.S. Wedding day photos by Julie Kuceris. She darted around getting great shots and was SUPER-stealth!