Thursday, April 30, 2009

By the cookie shop

Such a lovely visit last night to our friends' new home in Boerum Hill! They live right next to the One Girl Cookies shop. Any store with a sign that simply says "COOKIES" has my attention.Also, they've got a red kitchen sink! A photo from when the last tenants lived in the apartment:
Now, they have cute, matching red kitchen accents, like a mixer and a lamp. I've always been a yellow and/or blue kitchen gal, but all the bright cherry red makes me want a red kitchen! Here's a happy red kitchen:
A red fridge would also rock. (If you missed Erin's fridge post, run, don't walk, to Reading My Tea Leaves.).

Anyway, back to the visit...our friends have just moved in together, so we were the first "official" visitors. We munched on nice tapas and wine and I left very happy seeing the darling couple all settled in.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Six-Word Memoirs

For my 25th birthday, my friends Randal and Ginny gave me a cool book called "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure." The 6-word story was supposedly first posed as a challenge to Hemingway, who came up with "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."

At my birthday party, we passed the book around the wine bar and tried to brainstorm some 6-word memoirs. I was talking that night about how I'll struggle not to cry while reciting my wedding vows, considering that I tear up at this dog food commercial:

So Ginny suggested this one for me: "I cry at dog food commercials."

Today feels more basic, like maybe: "Wake up, make coffee, live life."

Some favorites from the book: 
"I inhale battles. I exhale victories." -William Heath
"Cheese is the essence of life." -Mary Lynch
"Became more like myself every year." -Eddie Sulimirski
"Fifteen years since last professional haircut." -Dave Eggers

What's your 6-word memoir?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bach at ya

I recently confirmed that 2 of my former high school orchestra-mates will be able to play (excerpts from) the 2nd movement of the Bach Double Violin Concerto at the wedding. This is the one and only thing I had ever imagined about my wedding when I was younger.

I've been listening to the piece on the way to work. Today, as my fingers itched to hit the notes of each part, I became overwhelmed by the fact that I know how to play the violin. Every once in a while, this fact bowls me over with disbelief, happiness, and gratitude.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Playing with fire

The mother of all impulse buys: I stumbled out of my hair salon feeling pretty happy today, wandered right into Duane Reade, and walked out with some Maybelline Moisture Extreme lipstick in Royal Red

Red lipstick. This is for people who walk the red carpet, or for people who invest serious time in the necessary lip-lining, lip-brushing, and subsequent blotting or gloss-dabbing. So not me—I have been standing by the same routine (brown eyeliner and brownish mascara) for an eternity. Done wrong, red can say "streetwalker" or worse, make you look like a clown (warning: links to Maddox, pretty crass). Plus, isn't it supposed to be impossible to find the right red? What was I thinking?!

I'm not fully sure I can pull this off yet, but Real Simple does name this color one of its "timeless red lipsticks." This offers some comfort. As does Gwen Stefani—she always rocks the red lips. And so I vow to rock it at least ONCE. Guess I was just feeling bold!

Have you tried this look? Been tempted to? Love? Hate?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Linens 'n things

Man, I saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona a good two weeks ago, and I haven't shaken the burning desire to run around forever in soft, flowy white or ivory fabrics. And when winter comes, I shall...well, I've blocked out winter now. Let's not worry about that. Cue the obsession reel!

(Find them, from top to bottom: Free People, Anthropologie, Alloy, Anthropologie, Alloy)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy birthday, Gram!

Another birthday today! This time, my paternal grandmother. At 89, she has raised 11 children and has been keeping ovarian cancer in check for nearly 2 years. In honor of her extraordinary strength, an excerpt from a poem I wrote about visiting my family's bakery in Galway, Ireland:
...I used to wonder
about stretching everything thirteen ways. Eithne lives
above the bakery. It has stood for over a century.
Downstairs, no one is still. Quite simply, we do not
stretch. Do not rest. Quite simply, there is always enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy birthday, Roger!

The furry little kitty we all know and love turns 1 today. (Well, 1-ish, we're going by the date from his medical records.) He may be an occasional hindrance to productivity (see above), but life with him just can't be beat. Seems like just yesterday we brought the furball back from the ASPCA

He was so little!

Then he learned to read the New Yorker (er, cats read upside down)...

Then he developed his habit of jumping in any available bags or boxes (or drawers)...

And became obsessed with water and the sink (though the bane of my existence that he jumps on the counters, he does look pretty funny with a wet head, from sticking it under the faucet)...

And, of course, he loves his people:
If you are looking for a furry little companion, let me take the opportunity to get up on my soapbox and recommend adoption. Whether through the ASPCA or one of many independent rescue organizations (you can track them down on Petfinder), chances are that there is an animal of the breed, age, and temperament you are looking for. And they're eager to live with you in a loving home! 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunny weekend

Something bright from a sunny weekend! Photo by my Bronx Symphony standmate, Craig. 

It was so amazing to finally get out and about. I started breaking in my new cowboy boots! 

Saturday involved a suicide mission to SoHo, but we escaped alive and learned 3 important lessons: 

1) I love Dean and Deluca, and wish I were crazy rich so I could go there all the time; 
2) TopShop was better in Europe, circa 2004; and
3) even semi-celebrity Tori Spelling can stop half a block of pedestrian traffic.

About lesson number 1, I had never been IN Dean and Deluca, as far as I can recall. I'd just walked by it, knowing it was one of those "unaffordable" places. Now I feel the sudden need to own a French/Moroccan tea set. And I know we'll be back—they're the only place stateside from which Chris has been able to purchase Vegemite, crazy Aussie boy.

Anyway, to come down from the city high, we sat outside at our new little table (photos soon) and sipped some yummy margaritas til dark. We finally made good use of our Caliente Cab hurricane glasses.

Sunday brought brunch at Quaint (geez, I feel like I write about this place a lot), purchasing new flowers for the windowsill, Mexican dinner, and yet more margaritas. Back to work tomorrow...glad I got some quality sun time in and a whole weekend with the boy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Run for the Wild

Video: Koko the gorilla meets Mr. Rogers, her TV idol.

Chris and I are running the first ever "Run for the Wild" 5K next weekend in the Bronx Zoo, just about my favorite place in all of New York, and possibly one of my favorite places in the world. If you would like to pledge a buck or two to benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts to research and protect gorillas, you can do so on my pledge page here. If you would like to get out in the beautiful spring weather and run with us, you can sign up here!

Back when I was shuffling between various part-time gigs, I would often find myself at the Bronx Zoo's "pay-what-you-wish" summer Wednesdays. On one such Wednesday, the gorilla exhibit was nearly empty (unheard of) and one of the baby gorillas put his hand up to the glass right where I was standing. I didn't understand how breathtaking these creatures are until that moment. Their intelligence is visible in their faces, and their hands look so human.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poetic Pair

Do you like your poetry lyrical and sprawling? Or sparse and shocking?

Either way, the Dickman twins, Matthew and Michael, have got you covered. I became fascinated by the story of these talented identical twins when I stumbled upon this recent New Yorker article (sorry, membership required to read full text). You can get more of their background story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The New Yorker piece explores the vastly different ways in which their works tackle shared experiences. Amazing.

Michael's The End of the West and Matthew's All-American Poem are available now through Copper Canyon Press. Yep, published by the same press. Michael's book was accepted for publication by Copper Canyon, then Matthew entered his manuscript for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize—and won publication by Copper Canyon. The publisher seems a little worried that they'll take flack for doing something gimmicky, but I think it's good publicity for poetry (it could use some identical, blue-eyed, straight-male poster boys).

As you know, I am a firm supporter of people reading and writing more poetry. So check out: Michael stuff at The Narrative magazine online (includes audio!); Matthew stuff at

Both are reading this year at the Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival, tempting me to brave a trip to my alma mater. Dare I? Dare I?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More done-ness

As much as I'd love to play violin myself on October 3rd, I'm going to be a little busy getting married, so I had to find someone else. At least one violinist from my old high school and youth orchestras is up for the job! I may decide to have 2 violins, if we opt for the Bach piece I've been imagining. And there's a second violinist available if so. Yay!
I didn't hire Roger. He only auditioned for the part of sleeping in a violin case, which he obviously got.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Three (thousand) Stories About Joan

I meant to brag about this and never did. It's been a long year (plus) of movie-making drama, but Camilla Belle says of the boys' script:
"It’s the most intelligently written script I’ve read in a long, long time.”
And then they credit Chris twice and Sam zero. But totally awesome, even with the misprint.

Full interview over at Nylon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Paper porn

Yesterday, Chris and I braved the rain and wind to explore paper shops in Manhattan. We are making our own wedding invitations, because this seems like one of the most creative parts of planning and we can't imagine paying someone else to take the fun away. We hit a sort of holy trinity of paper places:

We dropped by the Spring Street store and were overwhelmed by the beautiful, though expensive, selection. While I saw about three thousand stationery sets I'd love to call my own, nothing quite hit the note we were looking for with the wedding invites. Also, this is the type of store where you are greeted in rapid succession by several chipper shopkeeps, dying to sell you something you don't need. Being trailed by fourteen employees while I feel up the paper makes me feel like a creep. But if you find yourself in there, these Italian envelopes feel fantastic:
The complete opposite of Kate's. This is a paper warehouse of sorts, where you can dig in to gigantic boxes of "closeout" envelopes of every shape, size, and color. We found a few cool envelope options at this place, but finding accompanying cards and other matchy pieces proved rather difficult. I would go here in a heartbeat for any more casual type of mailing needs. They also carry boxes, bags, recycled papers, handmade wrapping papers, and this nifty map paper (and envelopes!): 
Our final and most successful stop. Gorgeous coordinates in just about every type of texture, color, and fold imaginable. Like Kate's, they also carry tons of other embellishments—rubber stamps, inks, embossing tools, ribbons, adhesive thingies of all kinds. The creative wheels started spinning out of control and we had to keep reminding ourselves to keep it simple. We have a LOT of these invites to make. Unfortunately, we made it to this shop near closing time, so we didn't get as much time to look around as we would've liked. Instead of deciding on anything final, we picked out individual sheets of a couple paper stocks we liked, so we can try them with the typewriter and see if the ink will even work well with them. So another trip to this place is in our future. Oh, darn!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Avett Brothers

I have a busy day today, so I'm not doing my usual Saturday morning guitar-playing folk-fest. But I got The Avett Brothers album, Gleam II, as a gift last week, and it's perfect Saturday morning music. (Sorry there's no actual video to this, but the videos I dug up were just of really icky quality.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Manly men?

I’m trying to make a conscious effort to reduce my intake of media that depicts men in an unflattering light. I know, I know—since when do the boys need a break? But really. Everywhere I turn lately, men are portrayed as creepy rapists (Dollhouse, Watchmen, Towelhead, even Slumdog Millionaire), sicko killers, crooks, or lazy, incompetent schlubs. The first 2 categories are making me particularly crazy, causing my blood pressure to rise when I so much as pass a male alone on the street these days. So that’s where the idea for exposure-reduction began.

In real life, I am exposed to good examples of males all the time—my fiancĂ©, my brothers, my father, etc. But for some reason, I am letting the media’s depiction of men taint my perception of the ones I don’t personally know. Some amount of suspicion/distance is just smart in a big city, but it can lead to being just plain suspicious. Or worse, fearful. And that’s no way to live.

In old movies, there are lots of men portrayed as heroes (but the obvious problem there is that the female characters are often helpless). So, what’s going on these days? Where are our modern honest, hardworking, heroic male TV/movie/literary characters?

Any suggestions? Where my boys at?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wedding band

In addition to a lovely anniversary dinner at Quaint, a surefire cure for wedding blackout is reminding myself about the things that are already DONE. Like Chris's ring. We loved it so much, we ordered it 2 months ago and now have it in hand.Done by metalsmith Jerry Spaulding, through the ever-fabulous The Clay Pot in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Slay On, Slayer

I just began watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning, and I am completely hooked. I never watched this show when it was on TV because a) I never watched much TV in those years, and b) the show is called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Really, now?

However, Chris is in love with the writings of one Joss Whedon and has always assured me that I'd love this show. On his recommendation, I finally got around to giving it a shot. Maybe it's the sweet '90s outfits, or the major girl-power factor, or the sexy vampire love interest (Robert Pattinson, eat your heart out). Who knows. Now, this blog is in immediate danger of becoming a Buffy tribute site, full of creepy fan-fic and what have you. But let's stop short of THAT. The servers are down at work today, so this is what you get:

Three years

I experienced my first real bout of wedding blackout last week. All of a sudden, I felt that I had been letting things slide; that there was so much to get done that I hadn't even thought about, and I was sure it was all going to be absurdly complicated and expensive. Please note that our wedding is 6 months away and that we have had the major details (place, food, drink, immigration) worked out for AGES. I made the blackout worse by reading wedding websites to see what I was "supposed" to be doing, which only ups the anxiety.

What better cure for wedding blackout than a dating anniversary? Three years to be exact. In some ways it feels much shorter, in many ways it feels much longer. In any event, it puts the whole wedding-planning thing right back into perspective. Love is at the forefront of a day like today, as it will be on our wedding day and every day. Wedding web-surfing is to be kept at an absolute minimum, for when I truly need practical instruction on something. Otherwise, love shall lead the way in cobbling together the details of what will undoubtedly be a beautiful, fun day.

Christopher surprised me this morning with three gorgeous scarves from The Clay Pot in Brooklyn (three, for three years!). Such a sweet and thoughtful gift. Tonight we'll either be canoodling at our neighborhood foodie haven, Quaint, or at our darling neighborhood wine bar, Claret. Either way, we'll look as happy as we do here, in our ideal state: together, full of New Zealand wine, bread, and cheese. What do you love more than love? :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Green caffeine

Remember that one time I said I realized it was unfashionable for me, a 25-year old woman, to tote around a Big Bird lunchbox?

I neglected to mention that I bring my coffee with me every morning in this mug. (It says Sesame Street on the back of it and shows Slimey the worm.)

Oops. But he's got a message, y'know? That's it's own kind of style...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sandwich time

Vegetarian sandwiches are hard to come by. There's the old standby, PBJ, but beyond that it's hard to find something lunchbox-friendly. My lunch packing usually involves salads, but sometimes you just want to slap something between two pieces of bread and call it a day.

Last month, I threw together a successful (though seemingly random) combination of foods and created a new veggie sandwich. Here's the recipe for my fellow veggie-loving lunch packers:

-2 pieces of your favorite hearty whole-grain bread
-hummus (I use a roasted eggplant variety for extra heartiness)
-black olives
-sundried tomato

Spread the hummus over the bread. Finely chop celery and black olives; mix into a "salad"; spread over hummus. Chop sundried tomato and add to your liking. Top with spinach and close that baby on up.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Obsession: Mail chutes

My favorite thing about visiting the dentist would have to be the mail chutes in the old, old building. I'm obsessed. The Cutler mail chute was invented in 1883. According to Wikipedia, there are still 900 active chutes in New York City. I am dying to see one in action.

I strongly feel my quality of life would be improved if I could send mail via chute. Or anything via chute, for that matter.

Photos via Flickr: top by ReefRaff, center by teknorat, bottom by joshuaseye.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Blog-iversary and rehearsal day

Wow, it's already my 1-month blogiversary! And in honor of rehearsal day, an orchestra joke...

A local orchestra was performing Beethoven's 9th Symphony. While a stunning piece, there are long passages during which the bass section does not play a single note. On opening night, the bassists decided to make good use of this time by slipping out to the pub across the street. After pounding some drinks, they stumbled back just in time to play their parts in the last movement. A violist noticed their entrance.
"Maestro!" he hissed at the conductor.
"What's the problem?" the conductor asked.
"It's the bottom of the 9th and the basses are loaded!"