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Fig and Plum





Published: 2013-05-26T11:22:22-05:00

 



What is the sound of a blog without a blogger?

2013-05-26T11:22:22-05:00

Not long ago, a friend at work paid me a compliment. This friend is not a lawyer but reads a lot of legal writing as part of her job, including at least ten of my own briefs. She had read one of my reviews on Goodreads, and she said, you know, you're a really good writer-not just a good legal writer, but a writer. Not everyone can do that. Most people (and most lawyers, good lord) don't practice writing for other people. . . NORMAL people, not lawyers, clerks, judges, or other professional logic hounds. My friend's praise was obviously flattering, especially considering she is (in my opinion) one of the smarter people at my office, but I had a logical explanation: practice. One of my majors in college was English and looking back at those papers my brain feels shrunken, so complex and focused and obtuse was some of that work. Maybe I was smarter back then, but I'm a better writer now, and it is, I think, 100% because of Fig and Plum. People started blogs like mine all those years ago for different reasons, but community was a big one. Blogs and message boards like Craftster were proto-social networks for many (though they arguably made it easier to connect with strangers who shared your interests than Facebook or Twitter do today). Not to sound cold, but I didn't start Fig and Plum for community, although that was a wonderful and unexpected byproduct of this project. I've said this here before: I started this blog for myself. First, I wanted to catalog various projects. Ravelry and Pinterest and other tools do that much better now than a blog ever could. But second, I wanted to be a better writer and photographer. Even now, there is no substitute for the discipline a blog can impose for that purpose. When it's out there for who knows who, you want your words to be good enough to reach whomever. When your photos are out there, you want them to be good enough to please your readers and draw them in and enhance what you've written. Here's the problem: my subject matter has withered. I work a lot. When not working, I'm trying to keep up with the rest of real life. There's a project bag next to my side of the bed, and I can't even remember what's in it. Sometimes I cook on weekends, when we have people over or need to make up a rough week to my husband, but that's it. In my spare time I try to see friends or go for a run or read a book because those are the bare minimum, activities I need to feel normal, and I don't even have time to do them any more than intermittently. I never wrote here about my personal life or (heaven forbid) my work. I wrote about making. Ideas, successes, lessons learned. It's what I thought would be interesting and useful. Plus, putting my real life, inner or outer, on the Internet for everyone to see was always a little strange to me. It's true that I do have Facebook and Twitter accounts now, and put snippets of everyday there, but let's be honest: there isn't much substance. It's not that I don't have things to write about—I do—but they aren't public in the way knitting a sweater might be. They're journal material (incidentally, I don't keep one.) Some people fill this topical void by writing about or photographing their children, but I don't have any. (Although, there is always Moses). Bottom line: there isn't a lot of blogging material for someone in my position. I do miss it, but I'm not sure what to say. So I write the occasional book review on Goodreads and try to craft a clever little 140-character tweet and hope it's enough to keep in practice. So is this still a blog when the blogger never writes, never calls, never visits? I don't know. I feel like I post the same thing at least once a year: I won't shut down the blog. Fig and Plum remains here even if no one reads it and its heyday as a blog is over. I'm hopeful, if unreasonably, that there will be periods in life in the future when i have things to say again and the discipline to say them here. Until then, it's rhubarb season. Plenty of blogs have something to say about that. May[...]



Pear Pomegranate Pie.

2013-01-01T22:00:19-05:00

Happy New Year! I made a pie.

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Recipe: Pear-Pomegranate Pie by Melissa Clark




Holiday Goodies: Fleur de Sel Caramels

2012-12-26T08:41:23-05:00

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Direct quote: "I don't think I'm going to be able to swing any tasty treats for people this year, sadly. you'll have to be satisfied with our delightful personalities."

Our gracious pal Beth replied, our presence is presents etc. etc..

NONSENSE. I KNOW WHAT YOU PEOPLE REALLY WANT.

Anyway, it was a lie. Despite a not-holly-jolly end of year at work, tasty treats were made and given. I drafted my mother-in-law into transforming her kitchen into a candy lab and the long-suffering Chris into rolling caramels in wax paper despite his sad manual dexterity (he did a great job . . . years of experience at the food coop proved helpful!). Thanks is also owed to Ashley, whose efforts in 2009 provided the inspiration.

The recipe is here: Fleur de Sel Caramels from the smart and even sciency blog Not So Humble Pie.

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We followed the instructions to the letter, as I tend to do with all candy recipes since candy-making is, after all, chemistry. This recipe cooks the caramel at a low temperature, bringing it to the proper stage over the course of 40 minutes or so. For us, it took almost an hour, but we doggedly pursued "firm ball" stage. We were rewarded with smooth, impossibly buttery result, topped with a sprinkle of my fleur de sel hoard stash from Paris.

We had a fine holiday here with Chris' family. The highlight was listening to an audio recording that Chris' parents had made of Chris and his little brother Tom opening gifts on Christmas Day, 1984.

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Here we are (Chris is not pictured), listening to the tape and laughing until we cried as Tommy screamed his head off ("THIS ONE'S MINE TOO!!!" "How do you know?" "THE TAG ON IT SAYS 'CHRISTOPHER'!!!") and Chris played with one gift at a time, making thoughtful comments about each one and offering to share the contents of his stocking with his little brother. Chris' parents are on the tape too, enjoying the chaos and trying (vainly) to interest the boys in the more scholarly gifts in the shadow of Star Wars and He-Man. I marvel at what conscientious, loving parents they are and always have been and feel lucky to spend many holidays with them now.

I may not get to post again before the year ends, so I hope you all had just the kind of 2012 you wanted. Catch you on the other side in 2013!




Himika's Neighborly

2012-10-09T21:58:30-05:00

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Pattern: Neighborly by Jennifer Casa (free) [Ravelry]
Yarn: Cascade 220, 1 skein
Needles: US 8 circulars
Recipient: Baby Himika

Notes: I fell in love with the version of Neighborly made by Alicia Paulson of Posie Gets Cozy. So, uh, I just made the same thing and then kind of um, photographed it the same way? I dunno! This is how I photograph baby sweaters most of the time too. Go visit Alicia's blog and get lost like I do sometimes, sitting at my desk at work!

Anyway, this is a darling pattern. I made what I thought would amount to a 12 month size for Baby Himika, the daughter of our college friend Simon and his wife Nami, who are a couple of our favorite people even though Simon's hobby is pretty much, to this day, harassing Chris (in a loving way!). Simon and Nami are so well matched it's almost scary. I haven't met Himi yet, but here's a photo of her visiting Las Vegas recently:

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doesn't that smile say "i just doubled my college fund at the tables" to you?

There is a tricky part to this pattern, or at least there was for me: the collar. For some reason I thought it was knitted as a tube (to make it stand up?) and tried to do it that way . . . for an embarrassingly long time. Duh.

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Thank goodness for knitting groups, because one evening at mine dear Cathy set me straight. It's pretty much just a strip that you pick up at the side for the body of the sweater, and it doesn't really stand up that well (but ah! if it were a tube! nevermind.)

I also modified the way the increases were done but to be 100% honest, I can't remember exactly what I did now (shame on me for taking so long to send this out, because it was finished it a while ago!)

Anyway, hopefully this is the kind of thing Himi can get a couple of seasons of wear from - first as a dress then as more of a vest, maybe? Maybe by the time we meet she won't have outgrown it yet!




Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream Success-Fail

2012-08-21T08:45:26-05:00

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Recipe: David Lebovitz's Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

This is the best and the worst ice cream I have made yet.

Best because the glace caramel at Berthillon in Paris is my favorite favorite ever, and David is right: the flavor of this recipe is almost exactly it. Not too-too salty, burnt enough, nothing like most American caramel ice creams (I'm looking at you, Blue Marble), which just taste like sugar. This ice cream has the complex flavor only conveyed by sugar that is cooked to precisely the right stage for its use. And for the salt, I used some of my precious fleur de sel stash from La Grand Épicerie for this ice cream. Plus-que-parfait.

Worst because the although the custard increased in volume in the machine and became slushy, it stubbornly refused to freeze into anything that wasn't liquid. David nobly responded to my depressed query about why it hadn't frozen, only saying that it was one of his softer ice creams, and that I *absolutely must* ensure my ice cream maker had been chilled for at least 24 hours. Well, this is probably the only time I'd satisfied myself with less than that; it was 20 hours, and I'm going to blame those 4 hours on the difference.

Also, I messed up the praline mix-ins. I was so paranoid about getting the custard in the freezer quickly after churning that I just sprinkled them on top rather than stirring them in, thinking the custard was so thin that they'd sink. They didn't. So instead of becoming delightful little pools of caramel within the ice cream, they liquified into a giant lake of thin caramel on top. No biggie, but this does I think contribute to the softness of the finished product itself.

That said, the photo here doesn't look *that* different from the one on David's blog. It did indeed end up firming into something like ice cream, albeit extremely soft ice cream that one must eat immédiatement. No problem!

Also not a problem: trying this one more time to see whether I can improve the consistency. Twice, even. The sacrifices we make in the name of perfection!




Summer Petals Cardigan for Emma

2012-08-09T21:54:00-05:00

Pattern: Autumn Leaves [Ravelry] Yarn: Sublime Organic Cotton DK, 1.5 balls, slipper pink Needles: US 5, 32" circular Recipient: Baby Emma Narcoleptikov* Bartling Notes: First, can we get this part out of the way? SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! The concept and finished sweater are just as darling as their recipient, whom I haven't met yet, but will soon. She's my dear friend Jenny Narcoleptikov*'s 2-month old daughter, Emma. Jenny already has a son, the very entertaining Connor, but you could just tell she was dying to acquire a collection of froofy headbands with which to adorn an infant girl. Jenny's that kind of lady. So something wildly darling was in order. this here's our gal, Emma, wearing pink of course (Jenny's photo) I knitted this one twice. First, the smallest pattern size is 6-9 months, and I was going for 3-6 months. I decided to attempt this by downsizing my needles from US 5 to US 4. Turns out I either overcompensated (likely) and/or the age ranges given on the pattern are wrong, because the chest of my finished sweater came out around 15.5" even with aggressive blocking. I suspect the latter is true too, given that a lot of the modeled shots for this on Ravelry look snug. I try not to be too hard on free patterns, but designers: you are encouraged to give chest measurements for your finished sizes because babies can be very different! (I typically refer to this sizing chart as a rough guide) cute sweater . . . hey, there's the debit card I melted in the dryer! There's another issue though, which could contribute to this sweater looking tight on America's baby girls. The pyramid shaping that results from the pattern as written is awkward, and results in a narrow chest and weirdly disproportionate (yet somehow still small) sleeve openings. Also, for some reason the back and front of the sweater were not nearly an even number of stitches. You sometimes see this when you're attaching a separate button band later, but the button band is integrated in this pattern. Plus it meant the flower motif in the yoke wasn't centered over the sleeves. ANYWAY. Did I say I tried not to be too hard on free patterns? Constructive feedback! Thankfully when you're working on a teeny sweater that ends up being kitten-sized, you haven't wasted much time when you decide to redo it with modifications. Main modifications: First, I did all the increases in the chest in one row, spaced out every five or six stitches. I ended up increasing at least a few stitches more than the pattern suggested (sorry, I wish I'd taken more specific notes! but you get the idea). For the record, this came out to about 18" in chest circumference after blocking. Second, I redistributed the number of stitches in the front and back to even things up and center the pattern over the sleeves. I did this by shifting some stitches from the back piece to the front, and casting on a couple of additional stitches under each sleeve. The modifications here were a guide, and give some specific numbers. And finally, I used only three buttons. This is a summer sweater, made of cotton, not something to bundle up in, and an open cardigan will give some extra room. Oh also I worked the sleeves in the round, but that goes without saying. This is a "Summer Petals" cardigan instead of "Autumn Leaves." I chose cotton yarn so Emma could have something to wear right away, and because this delicate ballet-slipper pink seemed too perfect. Sublime Organic Cotton DK is simply my favorite cotton yarn for baby gifts. I just learned as I write this that it has been discontinued, which is a bummer. This yarn comes in amazing soft colors that are baby-flattering pastels without being cloying, and for a cotton yarn this stuff is really not splitty. I'm going to have to start looking around for the stuff and hoarding it. So forget I said anything! It's terrible, don't buy it! The buttons are[...]



Green Smoothie Cubes

2012-08-08T08:15:32-05:00

Better living through Pinterest!

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I stumbled on this idea through Pinterest, then forgot about it, then was reminded by Rachel. I've been trying to go without refined carbs in the morning, which limits breakfasts to just about two things: eggs and smoothies. Both take a bit of time, particularly smoothies where you have to prep and wash the greens first. And smoothies have the added annoyance (for the lazy, like moi) of keeping fresh greens in the fridge and using them ASAP.

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that's not a hair. it's ginger!

So, ever stating the obvious, the Internet says hey, why not blend up your greens in advance, freeze them, and toss them in smoothies later?

Duh. So I made up some cubes with lacinato kale, parsley, and a couple handfuls of spinach I had laying around. You could use whatever you want. This morning I blended it up tropics-style in the Vita-Mix with a banana, mango, ginger, and a splash of coconut water (btw, have you tried Harmless Harvest coconut water? Raw, with none of that weird aftertaste of the heated shelf-stable versions. Just like fresh!)

Usually I use a couple of cubes of ice, but skipped it today. Interestingly, it did blend up well but it came out with a sort of frozen custard consistency.

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Not that I'm complaining. This way I can fool myself into thinking I'm having a milkshake for breakfast. Whee!

Have you ever tried this? What's your no-fail jet-fuel smoothie ingredient combo?

EDIT: By the way, the mason jar lid with the hole in the top and the BPA-free plastic straw are from Poppy & Pearl on Etsy. They're easy to DIY too, if you have a drill and the proper rubber grommets (Exhibit 2: too lazy.). Here's a tutorial!




Boob Job: A Post About Lighting.

2012-08-02T08:19:44-05:00

Every morning, a boob light was the first thing I saw upon opening my eyes. Not the alarm clock. Not my husband's face or even the cat's (okay, sometimes the cat's). The boob light. The cheap, faux brass, $20 boob light. Then: shower and brush your teeth in the bathroom: boob light. Stumble down the hallway: a pair of boobs. Caffeine in the kitchen: boob. Read the paper in the dining room: boobie. Good morning, homeowner! Good morning, this is the boob speaking Anyone who has rented an apartment in New York knows about boob lights or "dome" lights. There's a whole post at Apartment Therapy dedicated to boob-alleviation for renters. They are synonymous with "incredibly cheap landlord." One landlord even writes in defense of this plague in the comments, "As a landlord, trust me that its hard to find a decent light fixture that is (1) somewhat neutral, (2) sturdy, (3) not instantly dated, (4) affordable, and (5) not going to be stolen when your tenants leave. That's why you see these things everywhere, including all of our rental homes. And, yes, we call them boob lights too." C'mon, landlords, you can do better (more on that below). But homeowners can definitely do better. Grr! Boob rage! Chris strips the offending fixtures from the hallway To me, it's lighting that sets rentals apart from owner-occupied places. As of today, we've replaced all but two of the NINE boob lights in our apartment. Most of these were temporary fixes, but not the lights we installed in the hall: The Tom Dixon Etch Pendants are the one and only thing I have ever purchased from Design Within Reach, which is most definitely NOT "within reach" for most people. They were a splurge but were on sale (justified!), and in fact it looks like DWR doesn't carry them anymore. I love them because they are ultra cool and modern in design, with digitally etched surfaces that create shadow patterns on the wall, but the brass and shape make them elegant and sort of timeless. Look what happens when you turn them on: Who needs art? I love that they've alleviated any compulsion I might have felt to load our long hallway with art. A hallway is the perfect place for them, too, because we don't ever use these lights for tasks or long conversations, where the webbed effect might be distracting, and the space is small enough to show off the effect. The rest of the fixtures are just plain $7 porcelain sockets holding half-silvered bulbs-cheaper than a boob fixture, for sure, Monsieur Landlord. But they look a LOT better. This solution came straight from my talented friend Tania, an interior designer who has been a fount of ideas and help as we're fixing the place up, and who used this solution in her own gorgeous apartment. wide angle lens makes 'em look teeny Bonus: if you look up you see a mini-convex tour of your unmade bed and yourself in your PJs, not a boob! hi there! Note: tired of renovation posts? Stay tuned because the next few posts will actually be about KNITTING! It just so happens that there are three darling baby knits waiting for buttons on my dresser. I'm sure you can see them in the light bulb if you look closely. They're next![...]



Happenings.

2012-07-29T11:01:45-05:00

We had a housewarming party that was really a roofwarming party.
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The fabulous-looking pregnant lady in the photo below went into labor that night. I'm getting quite a reputation.

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There were shrimp rolls and cookies.

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Carrie played bartender.

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A storm scared the pants off everyone.

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We had some friends over for brunch to partake of some of the champagne, prosecco and sparkling wine we received as housewarming gifts. I made a baked frittata for the first time, and am now converted.

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Moses was Moses.

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Travels & (Slow) Transformations: Kitchen in Progress, etc.

2012-07-15T11:27:29-05:00

This summer has been a whirlwind. It is only half done, and we have already taken three family-related trips—well, one was at the end of spring, but I count it. Two, though, were for happy reasons: my niece was bat mitzvahed in Vancouver, and my father-in-law retired and had a family celebration in Cape May, New Jersey. Neither of those is an unpleasant destination, so you won't hear me complaining too strenuously. More photos from our Pacific Northwest travels here. Meanwhile, we have been making slow progress on our kitchen upgrade. Recall, here is where we started: And here is where we were in April: Meet the new lights of my life: our new range, faucets, and dishwasher (awaiting its custom panel to match the cabinets). "I go on or off when you touch me!! The plumbers were very impressed." "Two words, double oven. Three more words. Power boil burner." Hott. Literally. Those couple of changes have made a huge difference already, even though the kitchen is clearly in progress. In particular, the faucets: replacing the jiggly, junky $20 faucet with a real piece of plumbing has made the biggest impact. It's amazing how such a small detail can elevate. Nothing to be done about the $40 drop-in sink, but you don't really see it from most angles. Someday I will share a few forceful opinions about people who renovate apartments only to sell them, and the moronic decisions they make about where to spend money and where to be cheap. Not today. (And just so you don't think we are super wasteful, nothing in here is less than about 10 years old - it wasn't JUST done). Our kitchen shelving has been "open" for so long awaiting cabinet and hardware installation that I almost forget we have cabinets. Everyone who comes in comments on how much they like the open shelving. Truly it is au courant to ditch the cabinetry, but stuff in those cabinets gets filthy! We live in New York City, so we need only open our kitchen windows and we'd be power washing all our possessions every week. I hope all will be equally pleased by the pretty cabinets once they are in place. Now, we just need to choose tile for the backsplash (that granite piece is coming out), without one of us having a nervous breakdown. What is it about tile? It makes me go to pieces. Also, we'll be having the microwave replaced with a hood that is vented to the roof, so we might burn things as often as we like. What else? We had a visit from our friends Mary & Joshua Ray, who abandoned New York for the Deep South last year. And we met their little guy Augie: Augie approves of the sweater that Future Augie will receive for wear this fall (this is the warmest garment he'll need in Atlanta!), once it has buttons. It is a pretty basic top-down raglan, but wait 'til you see the sassy buttons it's going to have. Next up, it seems we're throwing a housewarming party next weekend. We set the date ages ago thinking all of our renovations would be done by now HA! The cabinets should at least be up by then, and there's always the roof . . . [...]



Labor Shrimp, or Satay Udang (Shrimp Satay)

2012-06-17T20:00:51-05:00

All you believers in the old advice that spicy food kickstarts labor, behold, your secret weapon! We had our friends Emily (9+ months pregnant), Trey, and their son Henry over for dinner on the roof last night for a last hangout with them before the new baby arrives. Emily appreciates spice, and we joked a little about the spicy menu of Satay Udang, Mango Salad and Paleta de Pepino con Limón & Chile (Cucumber Ice Pops with Lime & Chile). She wasn't due until the end of the month, but everyone suspected baby would be here sooner . . . maybe spurred on by a healthy dose of thai chiles and habanero chile powder? Well, at 4:30 AM Emily emailed to say they were on their way to the hospital: she was in labor. I'm not going to publish this until I hear some good news, but she's 6cm as I write and I'm excited for baby HuHa #2! Kim suggested this gives me the right to name the baby, but Henry's already claimed that honor: the child is to be "Oscar Big Bird," if a boy, and "Oscar the Grouch" if a girl. Ha. Update: Emily, Trey and Henry welcomed little Maxwell this afternoon! Middle name undecided--I'm pushing for "Satay." As for the shrimp, it was seriously my favorite thing we've made on our new grill to date. The recipe does call for one ingredient—kaffir lime leaves—that can be a challenge to find, but it turns out you can buy a great big box of them at Eataly, of all places, for 4 bucks, a great price for the quantity you get (what do I do with the rest?) (you can also buy them online if thai ingredients are hard to find in your area, poor thing) I also snagged the thai chiles there, and of course couldn't walk out of the place without a jar of marinated white anchovies. I only juuuuust escaped without a double scoop of gelato as well, but alas, Chris awaited at home. The flavor the lime leaves add is hard to describe, but it's unmistakeable. Our apartment smelled like a green, fragrant heaven while preparing the sauce, though. Have I told you about our new grill? In my effort to procrastinate on genuine home renovation tasks (why did no one ever tell me choosing kitchen tile would put me on the edge of a nervous breakdown?), we've continued outfitting our roof for round-the-clock summer living. Meet the newest member of our household: It's the special Crate & Barrel edition of the Weber Performer, snagged used on Craig's List for a song, from a couple who got fined by their landlords for having it on their balcony. No such limitation on our roof (to the homeowner go the spoils?). So we've been grilling a couple times a week, and I've been pinning like mad to my "BBQ & Summer Parties" board on Pinterest (I'm on Pinterest, btw). The grill has a lot of features, but I was not aware until last night that labor-induction was one of them. Now, we know. All the best to the family HuHa as they welcome their newest member! ps: After struggling with a long time with the decision, I have disabled comments on my blog. I'm having a huge spam issue, but don't have time to think about how to address it or, ultimately, transition this site to a new platform. If you want to talk, I'd love to hear from you. Just email me at jess at figandplum dot com! [...]



This is Your Roof. This is Your Roof off Drugs. (Applaro Wall Panel Rehab)

2012-05-17T19:59:19-05:00

Hello everybody! So, it's been a while. A while a while. You move, you're surrounded by boxes. Life stuff happens and you set your jaw and do whatever it is you need to do, unpacking be damned. But eventually, there is sometihing you can't take anymore. And what I COULD NOT take is the view on our roof of the nasty, messy tar that the previous owners thought was a-ok, in fact, that was put in place just last year by those awful, nipple-light loving (hello, p0rn googlers! welcome!), apartment-neglecting people who lived here before. Here it was: So, your options are, (a) get a roll or two of narsty reed fencing, the kind they cover chain link fences with in sketchy parking lots, (b) drop not a small amount of cash on decorative screens, or (c) desperately search the Ikea website hoping that someone in the Swedish Motherland has this problem. Guess what? They do!! This is the ÄPPLARÖ wall panel from Ikea, answer to our prayers. For about 250 smackers, we covered almost 20 feet of yucky tar wall. Amen! These were a bit of a pain to install, since we had to attach them to the building next door, drilling into materials unknown. Tar, roofing, masonry, dead bodies, the neighbors themselves? We used these blue masonry screws, which provide just the right amount of grip without being too destructive: For days we've been walking around saying "blue screws" in the voice of Leo Johnston from Twin Peaks. You Twin Peaks people know what I mean. "Blue screws!" Anyway, we put up the bottom halves together, then my long-suffering husband struggled with these new shoes, I mean, blue screws, for hours while I was out of town. This is all after I dragged him to the South Philadelphia Ikea before Mother's Day brunch, just to hunt down these panels, which were unavailable anywhere in the greater NYC metro area. And then after they were up, he coped with me walking down the wall trying to get the screws in at preeeecisely the same depth all along the wall (impossible). Everything you've heard about C.W. Anderson being a saint is true. We topped the panels off with Solvinden solar string lights, since we don't have electricity in our little rooftop haven. They flipped on when it got dark tonight, and I gasped. So pretty! And solar! Sometime I'll show you the inside of our apartment, beyond our moldings. It's all too overwhelming at the moment. It is so much easier to buy plants than it is to remodel a kitchen. Cheaper, too. Aaaaah. I love when things work out just like you envisioned them. Don't you?[...]



Better Late Than Never House Tour

2012-02-19T18:39:38-05:00

We have lived in our current apartment for a little more than two years, and we've loved it here. We came a couple of months after our wedding, escaping from a cave of a place in Park Slope that had a little outdoor space, yes--but that space came at the expense of any sort of windows or light indoors. We made the best of that place but it made me claustrophobic, plus it had a crappy landlord-special kitchen and recessed lighting that showed every crag and pore. So once the wedding was out of the way, we got to looking. With luck and persistence, we found a fourth-floor apartment in Prospect Heights with more light and windows than we thought were possible. . . and, you would not believe: a dishwasher. We knew we wouldn't be here for very long because we wanted to look for a place of our own once we'd saved a down payment, though. I realized today as we started to accumulate boxes to pack that I never photographed this place. As much as I love the space, it's always felt a bit underfurnished because we knew we would be moving on. Plus, the paint colors are terrible-the paint went up before we moved in and we never saw it on the wall (in fact, I think we were out of town when the place was painted). The colors looked so totally different than we expected that we thought the painter had made a mistake! What we thought was grey was actually blue, and what we thought was nice muted green was more like a pastel key lime. Lesson learned. kitchen Oh, this kitchen. Basic, but perfectly sensible with TONS of storage. The guy who lived here before us NEVER cooked, so we basically inherited it pristine. We never filled the cabinets quite . . . but the new place has slightly smaller ones and fewer, and I'm a bit scared about it. dry goods shelf My favorite thing about the kitchen is this shelf, which we use for dry goods. dining table & old hutch We brought this dining table with us from Houston, where we bought it cheap from a furniture refinisher who never got round to refinishing it. Neither did we. Now it's too small for our new dining area, but I'm not sure what else one does with a spare table in a 2BR apartment. I couldn't bear to toss it or sell it, so we may keep it in our storage area until we make our next move. Unless you have a better idea! The hutch we inherited from a neighbor in Park Slope who was going to throw it away. Its joints are all out of wack, and there's some water damage on the bottom. There's a lot of pressure when you buy a new place to make it perfect and gorgeous and new. But looking at our stuff now makes me feel a bit of pride in how well we've made the wabi-sabi look work. sofa & storage (we're getting rid of that shelf when we move) This great sofa was a craigslist find. A nearly-new Hutton Sofa from Room & Board. It's wide and great for cuddling or sleeping, and Moses is only a little interested in scratching it. It hasn't held up perfectly (because she is a LITTLE interested), and she's also, erm, puked on it a few times. Cat puke doesn't come out of velvet too good. Nothing to be done. moar sofa seating / foyer Note: please forgive the odd scale of some of these photos. Something's wrong with my wide-angle lens! And any detritus that seems to be lying around should be ignored as no styling went into this. The place was merely passably clean for an in-law visit :) bedroom The bedroom is way bigger than we need it to be. One thing we looked for in our new apartment was an appropriate balance of living space and bedroom space, because we've found both of our big bedrooms to be wasteful and were never able to utilize them properly. Happy to report that we think the new place strikes just the right balance. Pl[...]



The Blanket Revelation

2012-02-01T08:23:18-05:00

How come you guys never told me how relaxing blanket knitting is?

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No shaping, no sizing, no swatching (breaking my own rule here). I bought a ton of Berroco Peruvia Quick last year to make Cirilia Rose's beautiful Aidez cardigan, but then realized this colorway turns me into a corpse.

(Add a rule to my list above: don't buy yarn online unless you've seen it in person and held it up to your somewhat sallow winterface. Cirilia swears this is fetching with a pop of color, but I'd need somewhat more than a pop, and can't be bothered with loud lipstick every time I wear a cozy cardigan).

All eight skeins have been sitting in a box in my office for a year. Eventually I needed the box to return the hairdryer that almost fried my hair off and blessed me with a 48-hour scent of burning rubber (long story!), and people started asking questions about the large pile of yarn in the corner, so I decided to put it to some use.

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Finding a second project for already-purchased yarn is always a struggle for me, a perfectionist about matching projects to fibers. My stash is almost entirely comprised of failed purchases like this that don't get much love following the initial disappointment. I hit Ravelry trying to find a project I could give as a gift to someone who would look alive within a 10-foot radius of this yarn. Finally: Brooklyn Tweed's Umaro. It's been on my queue since Jared released it. Blankets always seemed like such a huge commitment, though. Katie from my knitting group is *always* making them, and every time I see her I'm all HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Quite the opposite, so far. It's been ages since I took on a project where literally all there is to do is knit until you run out of yarn. This is only one skein in to this blanket, with a long way to go, but all I feel about it is soothed at the prospect of inches and inches of this beautiful, squishy pattern. Blankets have officially converted me. Okay, talk to me several skeins from now.

What else? How about some purple oatmeal?!

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Yeah, I thought so.





I'm a Monstah!

2012-01-29T18:38:48-05:00

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Pattern: Frances the Charismatic Monster by Rebecca Danger [Ravelry]
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, 1 skein, 9452 summer sky heather
Needles: US 8
Recipient: Maya's baby Abel!

Notes: This is baby Abel. He's quite a little monster!

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Well, not exactly a little one. He's 7.5 months old, and I won't share his weight because it's rude to talk about a person's weight publicly, but let's just say his mama Maya has her some guns.

So when it came time for Abel's babywarming, Virginia thought as our group gift we should make some monster themed loot for this little dude. Virginia made some of these adorable Das Monster pants! Maybe if I can snag a photo from some one, I'll post one here, because they are AWESOME.

And I made the monster a monster. This is Frances. Isn't he just debonaire?

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He's working on his first novel on the old Underwood typewriter. He just loves the heft of the keys under his, um, paws.

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His teeth are made of felt. I took a bit of poetic license (i.e., didn't look at the pattern) with his ears, and his mouth is upside down. Whoops.

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But, all in all, he still manages to be quite genteel, as does Abel. I hope he gets a lot of joy dragging Frances around by the feet for many years to come.