Sunday, October 11, 2009

Autumn in New York

This fall there's been biking in the city,

and fishing in the country,

and pumpkin beer,

lots of pumpkin beer.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rooftop Farm

Mmmmmm, kale...

with a view at a rooftop farm near our house.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August Garden

Our garden has really taken off recently. Actually, it's a little out of control. Everything is bigger and taller than I ever expected.

I found out that nasturtiums love the North. This is a climbing variety that is winding through the chain-link fence on one side of our garden, and on this side it's tumbling over the brick edging and climbing all over the yew bush.


I don't think Chris is completely happy with how wild our garden has become, but I love it. Most of our backyard is concrete, and it makes me happy to see all of these plants bursting out of the garden space, even if it is a little unexpected.

I grew everything here from seeds. It was hard to picture exactly how the garden would turn out when I was planting tiny seeds back in April. I mean, I didn't think the Mammoth Russian sunflowers would actually grow to be 12 feet high...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The New York Botanical Garden

Welcome to the Bronx.

You didn't know it looked like this, did you? I didn't either. We went to the New York Botanical Garden to see their Edible Garden exhibit.

I liked this idea for a vegetable garden design:

Another design idea I loved, but didn't get a good photo of, was growing corn in a (huge) container along with peas or another climbing plant so the climber could use the corn as a support. We are definitely growing some corn next summer in our garden.

I also liked this idea for pruning (training?) an apple tree along a fence--easy picking!

This lotus was part of a beautiful exhibit of aquatic plants.

After the gardens we walked to the Little Italy of the Bronx, along Arthur Avenue, which was rumored to be waaaay better than the Little Italy section of Manhattan. We had a good dinner at an Italian restaurant, but my favorite place was the Madonia Brothers Bakery, where they fill your cannolis while you wait. If this place was in our neighborhood I would be in big trouble.

Next up will be some photos of our garden. It is doing well, thanks to Erik, who watered for us while we were on the Outer Banks.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Solstice II

After yoga in Times Square I continued to celebrate the summer solstice at Brouwerij Lane, Greenpoint's finest beer store. They were a part of Make Music New York, a huge city-wide event where 850+ bands played in parks and public spaces. Brouwerij Lane hosted six different bands. Originally the music was supposed to take place on the sidewalk because I think Make Music New York is all about filling the streets with music, but the rain came back and everything was moved indoors. The music still went on all afternoon. I caught the last two bands.

Guess who designed and printed the poster? Find out here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

To celebrate the summer solstice I went to Times Square to participate in Mind over Madness Yoga. Throughout the day there were several free yoga classes held in Father Duffy Square. I received a flyer about the event in the mail weeks ago and signed up right away for one of the classes, all of which soon filled up. 

Chris thought it was crazy, and over the weeks leading up to today I wondered if I would really have fun doing this. Not to mention it has rained about 17 of the 21 days of June, which has made it difficult to be motivated to do anything. We woke up to another rainy day, and the forecast didn't look good. In the event information the organizers explained that participating would involve rolling out my yoga mat on concrete, and it would be held rain or shine. 

So if it rained I figured I could end up doing yoga in a puddle on the street. I seriously thought about staying home. But I headed to Times Square anyway. This was what it looked like before the class started.

The class was Bikram yoga, which I'd never done before. Bikram yoga is usually done in a hot room. When we started the class it was cloudy and kind of chilly, but as we got going the sun finally came out and it warmed up. I can't say that I liked the Bikram style, but doing a class that was so different from my usual yoga classes seemed to fit the circumstances. It also helped me to concentrate on yoga in the middle of Times Square because I was learning something new. 

When the instructor came out he stripped down to teeny leopard-print shorts, which was a little unfortunate because I'm sure it helped to convince the onlookers that yoga is for weirdos. But I let go of my own assumptions about the instructor and the Bikram style and really enjoyed the class.  

After the class we were treated to live music and samples of Rachel's Wickedly Delicious yogurt. 

It was super easy to keep up a yoga practice on the Outer Banks, with the great instructors at the Outer Banks YMCA, Outer Banks Yoga and the constant connection I felt with the natural environment. I wondered if I would enjoy yoga here in New York. I've been happy to find a new yoga community at the Greenpoint YMCA in our neighborhood that isn't really much different from the Outer Banks yoginis and yogis. I really wanted to do this event because I thought it would be the perfect expression of my belief that I can bring yoga with me wherever I go. And it was. 

At one point during the class I looked up and realized that we were right in front of a McDonald's. It was two-stories high and I could see people sitting inside eating and looking down at us doing yoga, and I thought, well that's a good reason to be out here too. 

Find more photos here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

When I'm Too Excited About Arugula to Notice Anything Else

How did I go to the farmer's market today and not notice that this was also happening in the park? 

I'll have to head back tomorrow for some shopping. 

Another recent discovery is this park on the East River. It isn't exactly in our neighborhood, but the walk isn't too bad. And there's sand there. No lie. And the view looks like this:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Garden in Brooklyn

I've been gardening away in our little backyard. I've been planting seeds, pulling weeds, watering, fertilizing, and transplanting little tomato and cucumber seedlings up to larger containers. We're not planting our vegetables in the ground because Greenpoint is on top of an oil spill. Apparently our neighborhood is a Superfund site. Although that kind of sounds like a good thing, because it has the word "super" in it, it's not because it means that we're on a national priorities list of hazardous waste sites. Yippeee! Seriously, I saw a map once and our apartment isn't right on top of the spill, but better safe than sorry. 

For a wasteland, the soil is fabulous! After planting seeds once the chance of frost had passed (not that long ago), we're finally seeing some results. Hopefully the following will serve as the "before" shots and I'll have photos of blooms to share in the summer. 

The sunflowers are off to a good start. 

The Hyacinth bean vine is just starting to take off. I was unsuccessful with my first planting, but then I discovered the trick to germination is soaking the seeds for 24 hours prior to planting. 

My favorite are the nasturtiums, which seem to love New York so far. When I grew these in North Carolina they did much better with a little shade, and really took off when it cooled off in the fall. 

Before we moved in our landlady had planted the garden with some rose bushes, shrubs, and an evergreen tree. After we moved in she planted a few more roses for us and they are all doing well and about to bloom. Here's one of the established rose bushes. 

I've really been working hard on the garden, and I was ready to take all the credit for the results when the vine next door started to bloom. The lot next door to ours was obviously tended to by a gardener at some point. There are containers lining the fence and a garden plot that must have been carefully cared for once. But the only human activity I've seen over there has been limited to a smoke break or mop bucket emptying by one of the Yummy Taco (a terrible restaurant around the corner on Manhattan Ave.) employees. So my pride in my work was really put to shame when this showed up next door. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hey Ya'll

I haven't been saying ya'll much in New York, I guess. The locals don't cotton to it. I don't cotton to the way the locals say they are having a BBQ when they mean they are having a cook-out. Cooking a few hot dogs on a grill doesn't equal this. So there. 

So I'm working now, which is great. Money! A sense of purpose! A place to go during the day! A more comfortable desk chair than I have at home! Loss of free time is not so great but thus was always thus. Lately I've been spending my free time producing a hacking cough, but I hope to be rid of it soon. 

See what my talented husband has been up to right here and here. (He did the designing and the beer pouring as well.) 

More later. 


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hip Hip Hooray!

Guess who starts her new job on Monday? Me! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hot Cross Buns

My granny made these at Easter every year. Now my mom does, and I guess now I do too. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sewing Up Some Privacy II

Here are the curtains I sewed for our living room window. Their construction is a big improvement over the bathroom curtain I made first. The fabric weight and color is perfect: it lets in plenty of light, but also provides enough privacy. Pretty good for the skimpy Ikea fabric section. Privacy was definitely a major consideration here because this window sits in front of the sidewalk right at eye level. 

The next step for this curtain is custom screenprinting by Chris. I'll take more photos when it happens, but at the moment the project is still in the design phase. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sewing Projects: Practical and More Practical

Last Sunday when Chris left for work he said he needed a bag. When he came home I had this just about finished. I made it up as I went along, and it turned out only a little crooked. Sewing this way is like skipping right to the fun part. I used some corduroy fabric that I already had, and decided to turn it inside out so the outside of the bag would be smooth. 

Here is Chris on his way to the Spuyten Duyvil beer store, bag ready to be filled with bottles. The whole bag used recycled materials: the corduroy is cast-off pant legs from Chris making a pair of shorts, and the strap is one of Chris's old belts. To disguise the seam of the pant legs, I ran a zig zag stitch over it in gray. The color combo ended up coordinating with pretty much his whole wardrobe. 

I've hemmed a few pairs of pants, which I am inordinately proud of. I got the idea that hemming pants was the hardest sewing project ever when Jeanne and Joanne's Sewing Room in Wilmington ruined two pairs of my pants by hemming the legs at different lengths. Seriously J and J, how do you do that? So obsessively comparing one pant leg to another throughout the process, I've now hemmed jeans and corduroys. I also hemmed a pair of dress pants using a blind stitch hem on my machine. This tutorial on machine blind stitch hem was very helpful. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Newborn Hat

I knitted this hat for a newborn baby whose mother recently helped me with a freelance article. My Nana gave me the pattern, which was written for the volunteers who knit baby hats for newborns at Mary Immaculate Hospital. I was born there, and both of my grandmothers volunteered there for years. The pattern is no-nonsense, and it was only two days from casting on to finishing. A better knitter could probably dash off one of these hats in one sitting. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Wandering Cable-Knit Scarf

This cable-knit scarf has been to Ocracoke, Bluefield, and New York, and that was all before it even came off the needles. In keeping with all of the projects I've knitted that required paying attention, it took me forever to complete it. 

But lucky for us, there were still plenty of freezing days for C. to enjoy his scarf in New York. He has a way of tying it that's all his own; it involves multiple wraps around his neck so he doesn't have too much scarf hanging out. 

The pattern for this scarf at Knitting Addiction calls for cashmere yarn, but I found a nice merino wool that feels good. This was only the second project that I blocked after knitting, and now I'm converted. Washing and blocking makes the final product so much softer. I discovered this by accident when I dropped my own scarf on the damp ladies room floor at Brooklyn Brewery

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Our first Nor Nor'easter

A nor'easter ripped up the east coast this week and for us that meant waking up on Monday morning to about six inches of snow. This was the view from our back door.

(By the way, check out our neighbor's new fence on the balcony behind our shed. We saw them working on it, and for a day or so we watched nervously and wondered if they were going to put up a solid wood fence. They had the power to block out, oh, half of our sunlight if they did. Thankfully they went with chain-link!) 

The wind was blowing the snow around, so it was piled high in some spots like here on our picnic table. 

It was funny to have a nor'easter bring snow instead of rain, 40mph winds, and beach erosion. You know, like the one that came through the Outer Banks the week before our wedding and had me glued to my computer constantly updating Saturday's forecast. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Feed a Cold

This has been the scene around our house for the last few days. Only we both have the man cold, and there is no one else around to be the voice of reason. Today we sniffled and sneezed our way through Polish class. (It seems like almost everyone else we encounter is sniffling also, can this be possible?) The nose blowing and sneeze-blocking kept me distracted from asking "Why? Why are we learning Polish, why?" At lunch I was reminded of the answer: the bigos, oh, the bigos

Monday, February 16, 2009

Birthday Party

Party on the top floor in East Harlem. I wonder if this is the urban equivalent of tying balloons to your mailbox. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

I've been using my new sewing machine quite a bit since my parents gave it to me for Christmas. I've been wanting to use it to make cards, but I couldn't get motivated until I saw this simple Valentine's Day card idea. I altered this idea a little, by using card stock I had on hand instead of buying something fancy, and I made the card a single layer, more like the cards you passed out in grade school. 

I've been wondering how in the world anyone sews a curved line with their machine, and I knew that working on this project would help me figure it out. The answer: very patiently. 

I gathered some scrap fabric, cut out some hearts, and started out by practicing the zig-zag stitches. 

It was hard, and I knew that if I waited until I could do it perfectly, I wouldn't send the cards out in time. So I practiced until I could basically trace the heart, and then I went into production mode.

Step 1: cut out hearts using scrap fabric. The link above includes a template, but I just made my own by sketching on card stock. 

Step 2:  sew the border stitches using a straight, short stitch. Make a few extras to take the pressure off for Step 3. 

Step 3: experiment with your zig-zag stitch setting and stitch length until you find your favorite one to use for outlining the heart. Secure the fabric heart to the paper, with a bit of glue or double-sided tape. Then it's the fun part--zig zag stitch on a curve!

Step 4: I wanted to create the ragged edge like the cards on the purlbee. I followed a link on their site to learn how to create that edge using my sewing machine. Remove all thread from the machine and then "sew" close to the edge using short stitches so the needle creates a perforated edge. Fold several times, then tear away the excess paper from the edge. 

Making the perforated edge was too much fun, and it made the cards even more like grade-school valentines: remember how they came in sheets and each card was folded and torn away? 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy New Year!

Last Sunday we got to Chinatown just in time to see the tail end of the New Year's dragon dances. We got caught up in Soho shopping at Uniqlo. We celebrated Chinese New Year with an early dinner at Great New York Noodletown, where we looked around and were convinced that everyone else was eating something better than what we ordered. Next time we will know better. We'll order the Chinese broccoli (which isn't listed anywhere on the menu, but everyone except us was eating it) and the salt baked shrimp (which is actually fried). 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What a day off looks like

This must be what a day off looks like for our neighbor. Shirts courtesy of Yummy Taco. YT is another reason I'm not sorry to be cooking at home. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I accomplished an important step in relocating today: I found a place to get a haircut. And I like it. But maybe one day I'll go here, just for the window decorations. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Who knew Gwyneth Paltrow had a blog?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sewing Up Some Privacy

My parents gave me a sewing machine for Christmas, and I'm using it to do a little decorating around our apartment. This was my first project: a curtain for the bathroom window. Next Chris will screenprint it with a design. 

The curtain is totally crooked on the right side. I was winging it a little when I measured and hemmed. 

I'm currently one-half of the way done with two-piece curtains for our living room window. Will post pics.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snowy Skyline

Our view of Manhattan on a snowy day.