Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Personalized Onesies

When Michael was in LA a few weekends ago I did a huge closet cleaning. I pulled just about everything out of my closet and craft cart and sorted and organized. For most of the weekend the apartment looked like an episode of 'Hoarders'. Of course it was all put away by Sunday night (well most of it anyway - I still have a pile of clothes to list on eBay and a pile of stuff that is destined for Goodwill).

I found 3 packages of onesies in assorted sizes (from previous craft projects). They were screaming for some fruit crate labels and vintage travel posters. I knew they would be a perfect gift for our friends having baby number two in just a few weeks.
I tried to tailor the travel sites to places our friends have visited - Nantucket, Alaska, Atlantic City, and California. And there are plenty of NYC onesies as well.
The vintage fruit crate labels are an old favorite of mine. The artwork is copy right free and just beautiful. The colors pop and I like the history with its strong California roots.
The birthday girl did get two custom onesies. I have seen several versions of the name tag onesie and thought it was really cute. Since I knew her name I could add it in with the label. And the 'first birthday' design is inspired by the NYC subway. Luckily the subway line markers are very graphic so it was easy for me to re-create the look.
For baby number two I don't know the name yet. The onesies have generic name tags and the parents can fill in the name with a Sharpie pen after the baby is born.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Giraffe Crafts - Part Deux

Try saying that 3 times fast...giraffe crafts, giraffe crafts, giraffe crafts.....

For the birthday girl I went a little wild with the giraffe party theme.

Using my newly minted quilting skills I made her a small quilt featuring some Alexander Henry zoo fabric. I "fussy cut" (a quilting term - it means instead of cutting the blocks to make the best use of the fabric I intentionally cut them to highlight part of the fabric. In this case I wanted each block of the zoo fabric to have a giraffe in the center) the zoo fabric and then pulled colors from that fabric for the other blocks and borders.

Because of the giraffe theme all of the other fabric was polka dot.

The back of the quilt was a yellow polka dot that reminded me of giraffe spots. I chose brown for the border to really highlight the theme from the back (giraffe colors) and I also thought for a little one it would show less dirt.

I found another use for my "KO" labels and made sure to sew one in to the back of the quilt.

I got BDO in to the the act by commissioning him to make a wooden giraffe pull toy. Using a cookie cutter as a pattern not only did he create the pull toy, a rocking toy, but two Christmas tree ornaments as well. He was nice enough to make two ornaments - one for the gift and one for me. He used walnut and just sanded it to a beautiful finish, no paint required.

The pull toy looked amazing. It truly is an heirloom piece. He was smart enough to make the cord untie from the bottom so until baby is old enough it can be removed - no choking hazard.

The little rocking giraffe was for me. It was a total surprise and I just love it. It's on display next to his rubber band racers from Christmas past.

The gifts were opened after the party. As soon as they opened our gift our friends gave us a call. They just loved it all and were so appreciative of the handicrafts. Now they are having a second baby - we'll have to work really hard next year to make sure the next little one has a very special first birthday.

Giraffe Crafts

I was asked to help make a giraffe cake for a 1st birthday party. I talked to a few cake people and looked through my books and quickly realized a 3-D cake wasn't an option until I learned how to weld copper pipes. But I did get an idea for a herd of giraffes cupcakes.

After months of trying to find the right cookie for the neck I settled on ladyfingers.

I started by trimming down and shaping circus peanuts. The circus peanuts were then attached to the lady fingers with yellow chocolate.

Once the heads were connected to the necks I dipped the entire piece in to yellow chocolate.

Some little heads looked more giraffe-y than others. Some kind of looked like a weird Snoopy...

Once the yellow chocolate set, I painted on spots, eyes, nose, and a smile with milk chocolate. The entire piece was dusted with bronze luster dust. I loved the shine the luster dust added. I did a heavy strip down the bridge of the nose to provide some shading.
I carried the cupcakes separately from the heads and then assembled at the site.
The cupcakes were vanilla with yellow colored vanilla flavored butter cream frosting.

The fully assembled herd looked quite impressive on the dessert table.

And for the birthday girl I used a little mini-pan to bake a baby giraffe cake. It sort of looks like a llama - but she didn't care! (And even if she did care she's only 1 and can't talk yet.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On-Going Series: Unfortunately Named Businesses

Yes, you are reading that correctly. The name of this local produce shop is "U Don't Know Nothing Produce".

I don't even know what they are trying to say - they know produce and I don't? You haven't seen produce as amazing as this?

I shop there, I know produce, and there product is fine. It's middle of the road - not the cheapest, not the most expensive, not the freshest, not the least fresh. But it is convenient especially if I need to get cat supplies as our favorite little pet supply shop is right across the street.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Farewell Bobby Cox

Way back in February we bought tickets to the last Braves home games. Michael was right on top of the fact the Braves manager, Bobby Cox, was retiring and he wanted to be there for the last home games of the regular season.

Of course he wore his Dale Murphy jersey.

It was really nice weather, sunny skies and temps in the 70s.

At the game on Saturday they did a big pre-game tribute to Bobby Cox. They had former Braves players walk in wearing team jerseys. Michael was really excited to see Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and of course Dale Murphy. I was excited to see Hank Aaron - the real home run king.

It was cute, at the tribute Chipper Jones represented the current players. He gave a nice speech and then presented Bobby and his wife a gift from the team - an 11 day Mediterranean cruise. (The Braves organization gave them a new Lexus.) We were wondering what is was like in the locker room getting the guys to pay - do they pass around an envelope and see what they collect? Some of these guys make really money, are they covering for the guys that are just making the minimum salary? Of course I think we can safely assume the players wives decided on the gift and just told each guy to write a check for a certain amount.

It was a really nice tribute for a well respected figure in baseball.

Sunday we had great seats for the game - right behind home plate. We were so close to home plate we were behind the net that keeps things from hitting the fans sitting behind home plate.

The games over the weekend were critical for the Braves getting to the post-season. They had to win and the Padres had to lose. The did win on Sunday and it was really exciting.

But the Padres were still playing the Giants and until the game on the West Coast was over we didn't know if the Braves would make it to the playoffs or not. The stadium put the Giants vs. Padres game on the Jumbotron and many fans stayed to watch the game and root for the Giants. (Being from San Diego I am partial to the Padres myself, so I wouldn't root against them, but around all of those Braves fans I wasn't rooting for them either!)

While the West Coast game was on the Jumbotron there was also a free concert - REO Speedwagon! Talk about a great flashback to the 80's. They sounded great and had really good energy but they definitely looked pretty old. It was kick to sing along with the songs I danced too back in the day.

Even though it was sunny there was a strong cold wind blowing. We kept moving seats to stay in the sun and try to stay warm.

In the photo below the Giants game is almost over - you can see Michael full of anticipation...

And the Giants win! One of the few times you'll see Michael happy about another team winning a game.

The players stayed in the clubhouse and were watching the Giants/Padres game. When the Giants won and the Braves knew they were going to the playoffs they showed the players celebrating in the locker room on the Jumbotron. After about 15 minutes they came out on to the field and celebrated with the fans.

Michael had a blast being there with his team and the fans for this big game moment.
Unfortunately the Braves lost to the Giants and didn't advance any further post season - probably because Michael wasn't in the stands to cheer them to victory.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Two Classes - One Project

I combined a Sashiko embroidery piece with some quilting to create a quilted table topper or tea mat.

The center is a piece of Sashiko embroidery. Sashiko is a traditional Japanese embroidery that features repetitive patterns. Originally this was found on the coats fishermen wore out to sea.

I surrounded the embroidery by a wide border of a geometric patterned fabric that had an Asian feel and finally I added a binding that reminded me of cherry blossoms. The binding is Liberty of London fabric. The Liberty brand fabric has the most amazing prints and is a dream to work with but has a price tag that is about 4x more per yard than other fabrics (this is why the binding is in Liberty and not the borders).

I did kind of a free form plaid to quilt the piece together. In the photo you can see my pencil marks for the quilt lines but I think I was able to get them off of the fabric before I gave the piece away (it was a gift for Michael's mom - oh and if the pencil marks are still there just run it through the wash or consider them something intentional ;-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


An amazing new Italian food market has opened in NYC.
Eataly has all things Italian. It is a very non-New York space in some ways. First off, it is huge - I think I read 50,000 sq ft. Second, all of the aisles are very wide and items are packed to the ceiling - the spacing is very roomy and pleasing.
Eataly has rows and rows of products imported from Italy.
More types of pasta than I knew existed.
Rows and rows of olive oil and vinegars.
Jarred sauces that went beyond the usual red sauce (of course they had that as well).
They also had fresh food items, meat, seafood, and vegetables including my favorite the Hen of the Woods mushrooms! Everything was beautifully displayed and looked very fresh.
There was a bakery on site with an viewing area where you could watch the bakers making the fresh bread and pizza dough. There was a fresh pasta case where you could buy assorted fresh pastas to cook up at home.
And not only could you buy groceries, you could eat at one of the several cafes/restaurants within the space. It was all open, so you walked through the tables to get from one part of the store to another and the food I saw looked and smelled amazing.
One of the eateries featured wood fired pizza - they were two wood fire ovens covered in a shining mosaic tile putting out pizza after pizza.
It is hard to tell in my photos, but we went on a Friday night and it was packed. Many people were enjoying a glass of wine as they shopped and every seat in every restaurant was full. I would love to go back when it wasn't so crowded - but I will fight the crowds for my mushrooms any day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Labor Day Project

I bought the bundle of fabric pictured with the completed project below.

It is all a soft cozy flannel in a very cute holiday print.

Most of the fabric cutting was done, I just had to even up the squares and cut the borders. I pretty much finished the entire quilt top on Labor Day.

I'm really pleased with how cute it looks - my quilt top is pictured below, not too different than the store version even.

Now I need to buy the backing and binding fabrics and get it quilted. I have to send it out to be quilted as my machine just can't handle such a large project (as it turns out my machine is having problems finishing smaller quilting projects too).
I probably should give the completed project to someone as a gift, but I want to keep it for myself. I have lovely visions of curling up in the quilt with a mug of hot chocolate this winter.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Company Round 2

My niece Marissa arrived about 36 hours after Ben and Christine left. Luckily I knew she would not care if the apartment was spotless - she would be happy with clean sheets and fresh towels.
When I lived in San Diego she used to spend a week with me each summer. I would take the week off of work and plan different activities every day. This is the first time we have spent time together since I moved to NYC. This was also her first visit to NYC and the first time on a plane by herself. It was a big trip and she was excited to see the city. Unfortunately she was in a car accident in June (not her fault, she suffered the worst injury a broken ankle -everyone else was OK) and she was in a boot and on crutches the entire trip. We ended up taking cabs most places as the bus and subways were just too hard to navigate on crutches. She was a trooper and never complained.

It was month end close so I had to work (boo). Luckily it worked out OK - she got to sleep in and then we went for a late lunch. After lunch we would head back to the apartment so she could rest her leg and I worked. We stayed out pretty late most nights.

Tuesday night we took the double decker bus tour. I thought it would be a good way for her to see the city and not have to walk too much. I forgot about the stairs to the top of the bus - we ended up sitting on the first floor of the bus and not only was it impossible to hear the tour guide we just couldn't see very much. The bus started at Times Sq. and headed downtown by the Empire State building, through Soho, the Financial District, Chinatown, through mid-town and the Chrysler Building. We exited the tour just before it ended at Rockefeller Center. From there we walked up Fifth Avenue and did some window shopping. We took a quick walk through the Plaza Hotel and then checked out the merchandise at the Apple Store.

Wednesday we had lunch at the newly opened Shake Shack in the Upper East Side. It has been a consistent wait since they opened, but the burger is really delicious and worth the wait. (And no, I can't say if it is better than In N Out - they are two different burgers, each one crave worthy in its own right. And for all of you vegetarians they have a portobello mushroom burger that is amazing - it's a portobello mushroom cap covered with cheese, battered, and deep fried. There is no way it's healthy but it is so delicious.)
Wednesday night Char No4 was having a special BBQ dinner - 3 meats, 2 sides, a beer, and a bourbon all for $24! (Michael and I drank her liquor.) I thought she would enjoy Brooklyn but I'm not sure it was a hit. The best part of the night was the ride home. We decided to take a taxi - the driver took us over the Brooklyn Bridge and then up the FDR. It was quick and easy, a really good decision. I have never been in a car over the Brooklyn Bridge before - with the swooping lights on the bridge and the dramatic backdrop of the city the ride was really beautiful.
Thursday Michael flew to Oregon to visit his parents, leaving just us girls for the weekend.
We headed to Rockefeller Center after I was done with work on Thursday. We had to check out the Lego store and it did not disappoint. The store has classic NYC scenes and architecture built entirely of Legos all around the store; the displays are both clever and creative.

After the Lego store it was time to head up to Top of the Rock. We stopped for any and all photo opportunities on the way up to the top.

First Marissa with Radio City Music Hall in the background.

Next at the official photo spot - it was cute so we bought it on the way out (the Empire State Building photo was not such a good shot of me, so guess what - we didn't buy it....I know, but really why should I pay for a picture of myself that is terrible?)

And of course pictures at the top observation deck - 71 floors above NYC with the Empire State Building in the background. It was a really nice night, we stayed up there chatting for over an hour. It has been so long since I have been able to really talk to Marissa, it was great to listen to her views on life and hear her plans for the future.

All of that sightseeing made us hungry. We headed to Times Sq. to see the lights and grab a traditional NYC deli meal at Junior's. Junior's is known for their sandwiches and their cheesecake. Marissa enjoyed her first chocolate egg cream, had half of a big turkey and pastrami sandwich, and then we shared a piece of classic New York cheesecake.

The waiter had a a great line to get chatting with her. Something along the lines of "I have to ask, how did you hurt your foot? I'm a film student at NYU and I'm doing a documentary on people in casts blah, blah, blah" It was pretty funny, in fact I almost laughed out loud when he was dropping NYU film student bit. We finished the night with a visit to the M&M store. Even though it was late, the store was packed. That darn store is ALWAYS crowded.

Friday I wanted a mellow night. I was tired and I knew we were going to a show and the Empire State Building Saturday night.

After work we wandered through the collections at the Met until they closed. Of course I took her up to the roof to see the huge and still growing bamboo sculpture.

She loved the Greek and Egyptian collections. She could have spent the entire day there. We didn't even get to anything on the second floor!

At this point of her visit is where I start having major camera issues. As previously mentioned I killed Michael's camera and the last photo I was able to take with it was at Top of the Rock. I tried to take photos at the Met and it was done. Also, the track ball on my phone has pretty much stopped working. When I try to scroll it does nothing so I can't even take a photo with the camera on my phone because I can't scroll to the camera icon to select the camera function. It is so frustrating (at this point I can barely toggle between my e-mail and text messages, I'm sure it won't be long before there is a blog post about how Blackberrys don't like to be thrown on the ground). The good news is now I have my trusty 'Super Cute' and I am snapping away with the digital camera. I don't know what to do about the phone. I need to look on the Internet and see if there are any 'fixes'. I have to keep the phone for another year or pay full price for a replacement (boo). I'm hoping there is some way to resolve the track ball malfunction!

I don't have any pictures from Saturday, but we had a great day. We got moving relatively early and started the day with bagels. From there we headed to the NYU area and walked through a fun art show. Next stop, shopping at Macy's. Marissa loved the new 'Material Girl' line from Madonna. She had a little shopping spree (spending her own money) and bought some great clothes (oh to be that tiny again). We left Macy's and went straight to the TKTS booth to get discount Broadway show tickets. The line was so long, worse than Splash Mountain in the heat of summer. It was 6 pm and I wasn't sure we would even get tickets before the shows started at 8pm. Well as it turns out, one of the TKTS employees saw Marissa with her crutches. He pulled us out of line (we had been waiting maybe 10 minutes at this point) and walked us right to the front! We bought tickets for 'Rock of Ages' and had time to go eat dinner before the show. The show was a blast. The performers were amazing, all of them so full of energy and so talented. The song list was all from the 80's, it was music I grew up with and it was great to hear it performed for a live audience. I would definitely go see it again. After the show we waited by the stage door to see the performers as they left. We got a few autographs and then headed to our final stop of the night, the Empire State Building. The sky was so clear Saturday night, we had perfect visibility. Unfortunately it was really, really windy and we didn't spend too much time on the outdoor observation deck.

Sunday was her last day here. We had a little time in the morning so we went to FAO Schwartz.

After that, we walked a little bit through Central Park and then went to get some thin-crust wood fired pizza (yes, at Nick's). After lunch it was time to head to the airport. It was sad to see her go. I really enjoyed having a shopping buddy and an enthusiastic tourist, but I was definitely tired. I went to bed pretty early Sunday night. Michael didn't get home until Tuesday morning so I had a lovely Labor Day all to myself. (Wait until you see what I sewed that day....)

There is kind of a running joke in my family that I wear Marissa out when she comes to visit. This time she just about wore me out! The next time she comes to visit, I don't think I'll be able to keep up with her...but I'll love every minute trying.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Summer Break

We had two rounds of company the last few weeks of August. The blog posts suffered but as always we had a great time entertaining our friends.

First Ben and Christine visited - Ben is Michael's childhood friend and Christine is his wife. They have been to NYC before, but in December. They remember the city as very cold and very crowded with tourists.

Michael took time off of work to show them the sights during the week. They visited the Intrepid, Top of the Rock, and rode the Staten Island Ferry. (I had to work - boo - if you don't know by now I have very limited vacation days this year, so unacceptable.)

But by Friday night I was able to join everyone for a quick tour of the Met. Of course we had to enjoy a sunset cocktail on the roof under the bamboo canopy.

Saturday was a beautiful day and we spent quite a bit of time in Central Park. We even went out on the row boats.

Of course by Sunday we were all exhausted. We took them to the airport and had a quiet night. But our rest didn't last too long because Marissa was coming in to town Tuesday afternoon.

Express Lane Dressing Has a Home

I decided not everyone will care about what I am wearing each day for the next month AND I am really proud of my clever (well I think it is) title so I created a new blog:

This will cover my outfit of the day and the ups and downs of dressing each day with a limited selection of clothing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Whiskey and Cheese Pairing

Tuesday night we enjoyed a special event at one of our favorite restaurants. It is one of the few places that will get us to leave Manhattan. Char No 4 is located in Brooklyn and features a large selection of whisky and bourbon and an outstanding menu. The food is meat-centric and most dishes have a lovely smoky quality.

The pairing featured 5 selections of whiskey each served with a different cheese.
Just as with wine and cheese pairings, whiskey tasted one way on it's own and different when paired with the cheese. The cheese brought out different qualities of the drink.
I enjoy whiskey but I love cheese so I enjoyed the cheese selections more than the whiskey.
My favorite cheese of the night was a mild sheep's milk cheese from Wisconsin called Dante.
Post-tasting we had a light meal at the bar. We had a great time on what otherwise would have been a quiet Tuesday night.

Day 2 - 6 items or less

OK, so really my challenge title should be 12 items or less (just like the Express Lane at the grocery store - maybe that is a good way to think of this, as "Express Lane dressing").

It's a little cool (in the low 70s and a little cloudy out today with a chance of rain in the evening) so I am wearing the blue jeans, long sleeve gray t-shirt, a nice bright scarf, and Converse dark gray low tops (I haven't decided on jewelry yet).

Once again the limited choices made my decision time about 30 seconds. I really enjoy not thinking too much about what to wear but still being happy with the end result.

6 Items Or Less

The concept of wearing only 6 items or less during the workweek has been making the rounds in the morning shows.

In June a group of people took the challenge and wrote about it on the website. It was more of a challenge than anything else.

The suggested items of clothing for the work week:

  • jacket

  • skirt

  • pair of pants

  • dress

  • 2 shirts

For the weekend:

  • jeans

  • 2 t-shirts

  • shorts (the challenge was posted during the summer)

A total of 10 items for an entire month. Undergarments, accessories, shoes, swimwear, workout clothes, work uniforms, and outer jackets (rain slickers) don't count. They also suggest that if you have multiples of the same items that doesn't count (more than one black t-shirt) but I think that is pushing the premise. It doesn't really matter - the rules are more like a suggestion it is more about the concept of limiting your choices and what results because of the limited choices.

MomO decided to give it a try, but just for the office. She is pretty sure no one in her office will notice. Her items of clothing are:

  • black pants

  • black skirt

  • black and white print dress (one of mine, I forgot it last time I was in CA and it's a great knit dress that doesn't wrinkle and has a flattering fit)

  • black jacket

  • black and white blouse

  • red blouse

Lots of black - she could fit in a New York office no problem.

I am also going to give it a try. My list is a little longer. I have 12 items but that does include two tank tops for layering purposes. I have the ballet twice this month and I decided that I can wear something different to the ballet as I have too many pretty dresses to limit myself for a special event.

Here is my list:

  • blue jeans

  • black jeans (I was considering black pants, but chose the jeans as I dress casually most of the time)

  • khaki skirt

  • black knit dress (Bex, the one I wore when we saw American Idiot)

  • multi-print short sleeve top with the dominant color being tan

  • gray embellished short sleeve t-shirt

  • gray long sleeve t-shirt

  • blue button down oxford shirt

  • gray tank

  • black tank

  • black drapey cardigan

  • denim jacket

I put all the pieces together and it doesn't look like much. It would be a great way to pack for a long trip - as you would have many options from not too many pieces of clothing.

Yesterday I wore the khaki skirt, embellished gray t-shirt, and the denim jacket.

I think I enjoyed the process of selecting the 12 items more than I will wearing them for a month - we'll see. I will say it made getting dressed yesterday a very easy process. Instead of trying to figure out what I was going to wear out of my entire closet I just focused on the 12 items and I didn't try on multiple outfits before I made my final outfit decision of the day.