Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oh 2010...

I'm heading up to Boston tonight for a bit of a "reverse" New Years. W and I are going to take New Years Eve to spend some quiet time together- walk around Newbury, maybe go skating, maybe catch a movie, then linger over a nice glass of wine. There may even a cheese plate thrown in there. We will dutifully dress up and join a party before the actual stroke of midnight, but we're planning on taking this one a bit easy. The holidays have flown by, and been rather stressful; W is in the midst of a storm of grad school deadlines, and we just need some time to pause and be together. New Year's Day we're planning on cooking a big meal together, so that will really be our celebration.

I'm not quite ready to let go of 2009. It's been a crazy year, with lots of good and a little bit of bad thrown in. The last half of the year was largely consumed by busing back and forth to Boston, and all the energy that a long distance relationship requires. All the holiday chaos has left me feeling a bit muddled, and I'm hoping the next few days will help me catch up with myself a bit.

I like to go into the new year feeling cleansed, organized, and mentally prepared. There's a lot of unknowns coming up this next year, and I can't predict how the pieces will fall into place. In the face of gaping uncertainties, I'm doing things like organizing my sock bin, and throwing out the old catnip to feel like I have a little teensy bit of control in this crazy universe. I have a few thoughts on 2010 and what goals I'd like to set for myself, but I'm hoping a little peace and quiet over the next few days will help me to clarify, so more on that later.

I hope you are entering this new year feeling prepared and enthousiastic, and that you have exciting plans for New Year's Eve, whether they are big or small. I think it's an important time to think about how far we have come in the past year, and where we would like to go. To take time to pause to look at the bigger picture, and set a clear course, rather than just making reactionary decisions day-by-day.

How are you feeling about the end of 2009- are you ready for 2010?

Wishing you all a warm and wonderful New Year!

Photo by Tim Walker via That Obscure Object

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bits of Christmas

Here is a little peek into my Christmas... I spent time with my family and caught up with old friends. The constant action was also exhausting, so I'm catching my breath before launching into 2010... I hope you had a wonderful few days and have fun plans for New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I'm off to the land of no cell service and dial-up internet, to enjoy a few days with family and friends. My sister is flying in from LA, which is a treat since I rarely see her more than once a year. It will be W's first Christmas with my family, and we'll be ending the celebrations with the second annual holiday reunion of some of my oldest grade school friends.

We've been celebrating Christmas Eve with the same family for as long as I can remember, and it seems like every year there's one more little addition crawling around while we drink hot glogg and enjoy a Swedish feast. It's wonderful to have so many generations together, and to see my friends' children enjoying the same traditions we grew up with.

However you'll be spending the next few days, I wish you good friends, good wine, and lots of love and laughter.


Hand printed Delicious Tree card by Cocky Rooster Design.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I love this image of tulip fields in the Netherlands... it looks like pure happiness exploding from the ground.

by Allard One found via Maquette

Sunday, December 20, 2009

At Sunset...

This afternoon we took a break from grad school madness to walk around Prospect Park just as the sun dipped below the horizon. The sky was streaked with blue, pink, and cream; the snowy paths packed and slick from all the feet that had passed through today, celebrating the first real snow of the year.

 Entering the park as the shadows deepened, it felt like another world. The moon was a thin bright cresent in the sky, the dark tree branches twisted above us. I took a deep breath of the crisp air, and it suddenly felt like Christmas. We had a quick snowball fight, wandered around a bit, and watched the families sledding in the fading light. There was a general air of merriment- parents were sledding down the worn tracks with littles ones on their laps, or on the bottom of a messy pile three deep. It was that time of evening I remember so vividly from my childhood- when you can still see clearly in the dim light, but you know you only have a few more minutes before your mom calls you inside.

Today, hand in hand with W, it finally felt like Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it Snow! (part 2)

Black and white images of the snow... a classic love of mine.  Wouldn't this be the perfect night to cuddle up and watch White Christmas or It's a Wonderful Life?

"...where the treetops glisten... and children listen... to hear... sleighbells in the snow..." sigh.

Let it Snow! (part 1)

The snow is coming down here in cold, wet, sloppy flakes... the neighborhood is quieting down as people settle in for the first big storm of the season. I made rice and beans for dinner, and am about to settle in for a movie and some hot tea. Hopefully we'll wake up tomorrow to a beautiful white blanket of snow!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cookie Update

Happy Friday! It's been a long week. W is on his way down to New York, and a big snow storm is blowing in- we're expecting at least six inches just in time for Christmas, so it's the perfect weekend to settle in and figure things out between us.

A couple of updates for you- I've been a crazy cookie baker the last few weeks, see the start of my obsession here. I've churned out Chocolate Chip Cookies (decent, but not amazing), then Kolova Chocolate (severely underbaked, and good when re-baked, but too much effort), and Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps (excellent!). Yesterday I made Dark Chocolate with Sour Cherries (yum!), which were a hit at the office Christmas party this afternoon.

So here are the recipes I think are worth making again (and as the child of bakers, trust me, I'm picky about these things)!

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps- (pictured above) The dough requires 45 minutes in the freezer to firm up before you bake these, but otherwise they are pretty easy. If you don't get enough confectioners sugar on them, the sugar gets absorbed by the cookie and looks cream colored, rather than a pretty white, so make sure to double roll them, and really coat them well with the sugar. These have a really strong coffee flavor, and be aware that the recipe only makes 18 cookies. These are a really pretty (and tasty) addition to your holiday table!

Dark Chocolate with Sour Cherries- I didn't have enough cherries, so I made part of the batch without them- they are good both ways, but the tart surprise of the cherries really makes them special. These are very rich cookies. Be careful not to overbake- after underbaking cookies last weekend (so frustrating), I was a little over zealous with these. The recipe says cook until puffy and cracked on top, they really don't crack very much (unlike the snowcaps), but they are done. As recommended on Every Last Cookie I made the balls of dough about 1" diameter, I wouldn't make them much bigger. Also, I ended up with four dozen cookies, so you may want to make a half batch or freeze half the dough to cook later.

Wishing you all a warm and wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh my dears the drama...

Don't these earrings just look magical? As if you could put them on and the whole world would just glow a little brighter? Today my dears, I need some magic earrings.

W's grad school applications were due this week, and we've both been up late the last couple of nights discussing the various elements of his personal statement. So I started today exhausted. Now, normally W is a very sweet guy. For example, after I gruffly announced my grumpiness from the Chinatown bus on Friday, he picked me up at the station in a borrowed car. And he brought chocolate. Sounds perfect, right? Of course not, no one is, and today he threw in a game changer. A self-destructive, selfish, destroying all the scenarios we've discussed for the last six months game changer. And now I'm struggling.

So here are some of my questions- how do you know when it's too much? I believe that serious relationships are half love/personality and half business partnerships. If you are going to be legally and financially entangled with someone, they have to be a good partner. And this is where W is lacking- in the planning and executing a life together department. Am I putting too much emphasis on this part of a relationship? Is it enough that he acknowledges the problem and promises to try harder? Can I really ask for much more than that? W is someone who has to learn all his lessons the hard way, but we're both in our thirties, and I expect these lessons have come along before. Are my standards too high?

Any stores or advice from those of you have been in similar situations?
Can love in the end trump all else, or is that just the romantic in me looking for a reason to stick around? I'm exhausted and confused, help!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Thinking About...

I’m thinking about Monkey Bars. Remember when you were little, and you could only reach the first bar? Then someone showed you, or perhaps you watched some slightly braver kid whip across, that the secret was in letting go. If you held onto that first bar, and refused to let go, you couldn’t reach the next one. But if you accepted that moment of risk and uncertainty, you could fly through the air and land your other hand safely on the next bar. You could cross that great expanse with your own momentum bridging the gap between your outstretched arms. You pushed aside your fears, and arrived at the other side triumphant. Then you got bigger, and suddenly you could comfortably cross without letting go. It was no longer a challenge- it was safe, and easy, and boring. Somewhere along the way, I starting hanging onto things that make me feel secure. To paychecks, and leases, and predictability. I forgot the exhilaration of holding my breath in midair before landing on the next bar.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Little Lighter...

Today I hit up two sample sales, finished the last of my Christmas shopping, and got a haircut. Whew! My hair is now up off my shoulders, with lots of layers- I feel so much lighter! It's amazing how fabulous a good haircut can make you feel. Let's take a break from the holiday madness and talk about books! The bookshelf print above is by Jane Mount, you can buy various book combinations on her etsy store, or commission her to paint your favorite books!

I'm compiling a list of books to read in 2010, and I need your help.  What were your favorite books this year? What is on your list for the New Year?

Two books that caught my heart in 2009:

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach- the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It's a difficult book to explain- it's about a pilot who meets a savoir in a cornfield and begins to learn from him. It's more philosophical than religious. It's full of quotes like these: "Even though it's changing every second, the sky is always a perfect sky... and the sea is always a perfect sea", and "If you will practice being fictional for awhile, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats." I loved this book so much that W bought me my own copy for my birthday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I’m at a place in my relationship with W where I can no longer protect myself. We are feeling out the details of a life built around each other. Would we decorate our Christmas tree with big colored lights, or the little white ones? What if we set up an office so we face each other while we work? What if I want to chop the onions my way (and not his way)? These questions sketch out the details of an everyday life. A life where we bend ourselves to make room for one another. Where he buys the orange juice without the pulp, and I buy the more expensive tomatoes.

If you asked me a month ago how things were going, I would have said something like “It’s going really well, I think this might work out”. And then, either out-loud or just in my head, I would have added “but if it doesn’t, I’ll be ok”. But now I have to admit that I wouldn’t be ok. Not for awhile. I’d be heart broken- struggling to breathe under the crushing weight of the hurt. I’ve been in serious relationships before, and watched them fall to pieces at my feet. I know how it feels to lose yourself in heartbreak. To become a wisp of yourself, curled up at the bottom of a dark hole, hiding your raw skin from the sun, just waiting to heal. I know eventually I would pull myself up, and walk calmly back into my single life, stitched back together with new lessons learned. A little more guarded, a little less optimistic. Already I feel stretched and hollow along the fault lines of past relationships. I worry that each time I am able to give a little less of myself.

I’m testing my footing in this relationship, whether the foundation we’ve built is strong enough to hold my fears and my hurt along with all the easy parts of me. I feel exposed, and emotional, and crazy. I know this is my way of staring down the worst that could happen. Of saying yes, I could end up there. I’m taking a moment to acknowledge how deeply invested I am in this relationship. Tomorrow I will be back to focusing on all the amazing parts of this adventure, but tonight I’m going to let myself feel the weight of all the possibilities.

photo above from Audrey Hepburn Complex

Monday, December 7, 2009

Giant Robot

Saturday was an icy, rainy, almost snowy mess. But we ventured out anyway- our first stop was the opening reception for Paths Less Traveled at Giant Robot. This show features Julia Rothman, Allison Cole, Daria Tessler, and Jing Wei. My favorite piece was Julia's painting of brightly colored rotary phones. My parents have a multi-line phone in their kitchen, but my mom still keeps the old rotary dial phone plugged in next to it. I gave her this print by Emily Martin one Christmas to celebrate her love of archaic technology. The show is up until January 13th, go check it out!

Both images here are by Julia Rothman. Julia is a partner in the design firm Also- you've probably seen their work, their projects range from super cool Rock and Roll kids bedding for The Land of Nod, to the website design for Design*Sponge. Julia is not only talented, but also very sweet, and so easy to work with. I recently commissioned some work from her, and she not only accommodated my crazy rush schedule, but her work was right on target.

After Giant Robot W and I met friends at Jadis, a LES wine bar. We had a cozy evening with some good food, and several bottles of red wine. I was particularly fond of the mushroom truffle risotto puffs. Yum. It ended up being a pretty late night, so Sunday was all about afternoon naps and window shopping around the neighborhood. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 4, 2009


These silhouette cookies are from Polka Dot Cookies, via Not Cot. I love the little details, so often I think silhouettes result in creepy looking people blobs, but these look all dressed up for afternoon tea!

I've had cookies on the brain lately. Two weeks ago I made these Pumpkin Cookies, and they were phenomenal. Last weekend we tried to make Chocolate Chip Cookies just off the back of the Nestle chip packet, and they were a disappointment. I think partially the oven was to blame- we had it set to convection, and perhaps the temperature wasn't accurate. They were thin. The batter was too sugary.

This weekend I'm trying a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I had stashed away. It's typed up and printed out, but I can't remember who gave it to me. The secret ingredient? Vanilla Pudding Mix. I have high hopes. I'm planning to make them Sunday night so I can take them into work before I eat too many. The uncooked batter is always the best part! I could just eat handfuls of chocolate chips right out of the bag. So delicious.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Temptation #2...

Oh man, hide my credit card. This print is viciously attacking my need to be somewhere where I can lie in the sun and jump into warm waters... You can choose your ocean- Mediterranean, Indian, or Pacific. While the more exotic oceans sound more appealing, I love the deeper colors of the Pacific one. Each color strip is labeled with the corresponding depth. Swoon. I have an addiction to buying art prints. My walls can't hold anymore. Don't you just feel yourself relaxing when you look at it? It's just so perfectly zen...

This is the whole deal (Pacific)

This is the detail. The third strip down is just such a perfect shade of happiness. Available at Oddhero, this is from their Bathymetry series, they also have some interesting type posters. (via Design Milk)

Pillowcases... tempted....

I'm completely absurdly tempted to buy these pillowcases. Wouldn't the two orange ones look fabulous together? I have a fascination with orange. My apartment has two aqua/Caribbean blue walls, and lots of orange and silver accents. These would just brighten up the bed... but at $40 a piece it's tough to justify. My duvet right now is a green and white pattern but Licia (my cat) has put a claw hole or two in it. We play vicious games of catch the fishing pole on the bed. She does flips and flops and occasionally goes careening off the edge. She's gets so embarrassed. It's fantastic.

They are from Castle. They also have sheets to match, where only the top edge has the pattern, so you don't go blind from orange overload. Love. But resisting... re-sist-ing... gasp. (via Cup of Jo)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Vampire Verdict... and Reel Clocks

New Moon was great- I loved it! It was much better than Twilight. The special effects (and even just the make up) were better. It was cheesy in all the right places- I laughed and squirmed and giggled. Ok, so there were no Oscar winning performances (my money is on Meryl Streep for her role as Julia Child, you saw that one right?), it was just pure fluff fun. Delicious girl movie, giggling, shrieking fun.

I'm squarely on Team Jacob- he's buff and sweet and yes, there actually are scenes where he has his shirt on. Edward is cool, robotic and cold, and just too aloof, pale, and skinny for my taste. Bella is just so awkward and angsty- she's as annoying as she was in the books. Jasper is downright creepy, Alice is just perfect- cute and sweet, and Dakota Fanning even makes an appearance as Jane. I can't wait to see more of her!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I've been rather grumpy this week- after 6 days of hanging with W, my empy apartment just feels, well, empty. Harrumph. Tonight I'm cleaning out the fridge and settling into a salad of wilted lettuce, dried out green pepper, and mushrooms that almost molded while I was away. No more chocolate and wine by the fire for me. I'm looking forward to a little girl time tomorrow evening. So let's talk vampires!

Tom Cruise as a vampire? I wasn't convinced. Buffy? She was ok, but I was never hooked. TruBlood? I watched one season on DVD- W referred to it as my "vampire porn". We just watched From Dusk till Dawn last weekend, and it was terrible. Selma Hayak as a satanic temptress of a vampire? Uhh, maybe not. But Twilight? I read them all. And I've been waiting for the second movie. Ok, so the writing is terrible, and the plot just gets more ridiculous as the books go on. And the first movie was worse than the book. But they are such an easy, guilty pleasure. All that drama and yearning. Tomorrow I'm off to see New Moon with two girlfriends- so, are you in? Team Edward or Team Jacob? I'm leaning towards Team Jacob, he's a bit of an underdog, and pale skinny boys have never been my type...

(Poster from here)