Visions of sugar plums

Ladies and gentlemen, sugar plums are for real. I'm aware that this might seem obvious to other people. But I'm the sort of person who was shocked to learn that marshmallows didn't come into the world in the perfectly cylindrical, tasteless, styrofoam-ish form we all know and love. Really, despite being nearly-vegan I sometimes forget that certain foods didn't originate in cellophane wrappers and plastic bags. Granola bars fall into that category too, now that I think about it. Of course, that was before I started making my own granola bars and marshmallows. But I digress.

Sugar plums are for real. Here I am, in the 28th year of my life, and I had no idea what visions of sugar plums actually look like. Well, it turns out they're balls of chopped up nuts and dried fruits. Yep, that's all. On the one hand that's a bit of a let down, as my young imagination had come up with something much more colorful and magical. But on the other hand, they're easy to make and wicked tasty.

Sugar Plums

I found recipes here and here and adapted them. Basically, I used the ingredients and measurements from the first recipe and added the spices from the second. Mine are rolled in turbinado sugar. Right now they're a bit on the moist side, as my dried fruit was really fresh. (Ahem, and I might have been a tad heavy handed with the Grand Marnier.) I'll leave them out for a bit and roll them in more sugar. Total working time - about 10 minutes. Let me reiterate, they're really good. Yay for new Christmas traditions!



I realized today that I hadn't shown you my fingerless gloves. (Pardon the grainy pictures, we haven't seen the sun in days.)


I made them in September, and I've probably worn them every day since. You'd be surprised how warm a pair of fingerless gloves can be! Something about keeping a pulse point warm, I think. Of course, I managed to not photograph them then when they were all clean and pretty looking. (Or when the sun still came out.) Now they're kind of pilly and well worn, but I love them all the more. Well, I did until today.

See, I just wore them to the post office. (I had to drop some elephants in the mail. Did I tell you that I've sold two of these guys in the past week?) I knew it was cold out - we had our first snow yesterday! But somehow that didn't register.


Apparently it's 20 degrees outside. My thermometer would have told me to wear real gloves, but I didn't consult it before I left. Well, let me tell you, I hustled my tail those three blocks to the post office and back. And it was somewhere along said chilly hustle that I decided I needed to blog about my awesome gloves. And then dig the real mittens out of the closet.


I adapted my pattern from this one on Knitty. Mine are a smidge longer, with a few more cables. They were actually my first cables, worked without a cable hook, and I'm quite proud of them. The yarn is Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, as I recall. I'm a fan. Inexpensive yarn + free pattern = happy me. Yeah, I'm sure I'll still wear them every day. But maybe just not outside.


Just checking...


...to see if anyone was still here. I am, at the very least, albeit sporadically in recent weeks. However you've gotten here, I hope this finds you well :)


Engagement Photos

I'm so excited to introduce our photographer - Rachel Hadiashar of Merge Weddings. I found her completely by accident, poking around the wedding blogs one afternoon. There was one post in particular where the couple did a day after shoot at Boston Sand and Gravel. I recognized the location, as I drive over it on the highways at least once a week. Who in the world would be taking such great pictures at Boston Sand and Gravel?


Some sleuthing led me to Rachel's website, and I was totally sold. As she puts it, "If you just want someone to take some nice photos of you cutting the cake, you might want to look somewhere else. I like to think of the ultimate wedding photo more along the lines of when your grandma gets on the dance floor at the same time as your uncle Hamid and starts dancing like she is 22 again. I am an artist committed to bringing out the amazing details of your life and personality. I am bored by mediocrity. I am inspired by life, color, and cultural collisions." To which I say, "Oh pick me, pick me!"


I love that Rachel was a flute player. Artists and musicians typically speak the same language. It was obvious as soon as we started emailing that she was the one for us. Besides the fact that she takes some fantastic photos! I'm not naturally comfortable in front of the camera - that's partly why we decided to do engagement shots - but that afternoon was such a blast.


Since Fred and I play weddings all the time, we know what it means to work with a couple and help create their most fantastic wedding day. There's no life in it if it's just another gig! Now that we're on the other side, we hope that everyone helping to pull off our day is excited for us too. So thanks, Rachel!!! And be sure to check out the rest of her website, she's pretty darn awesome.


Location Frustration

Fred and I have had the darndest time finding a wedding location. Without going into it, we contacted over 25 locations before we found a place we liked that was willing to work with us. I think this is just obstacle number one in our plans for a non-traditional wedding, and I'm ok with that. Any standard wedding venue would have been easy, but that's just not our style. So where are we getting married? Stanley Park in Westfield, MA.

Great, easy, done! Fred played soccer at Stanley Park when he was a kid. Their herb garden is the perfect balance of unstructured natural beauty. The park has a number of different gardens that beg to be wandered, and we like the idea of our guests exploring the space before the ceremony starts. So we went to visit said herb garden this Columbus Day weekend, one year out from the wedding. And . . . . they mowed it down.

herb garden

Ugh. That's not to say it won't look beautiful next year at this time, assuming they wait to mow, but I would have felt better seeing it. So the search is back on! Luckily, there are other places in the park we could use. Should we get married by the tree? In the rose garden? By the burning bush? In front of the gazebo?


I think we're going with the gazebo view. Not because we're particularly into the gazebo wedding thing! Hey, from our vantage point we don't get to see the gazebo at all, and I kind of like it that way. But that area looks like I imagine the herb garden might. Lots of texture and structure, but a little undone as it's all gone to seed. It's also one of the more private spaces in the park, despite being adjacent to the rose garden.

Stanley Park, Westfield, MA

There's that long strip of grass you see above, but there's also a break in the garden opposite that gazebo view. Basically there's a T-shaped space where guests can sit (the park only allows 20 chairs) and stand around us. It moves towards the wedding-in-the-round idea that we like, with people on three sides, and I think everyone will be able to see that way.

Stanley Park, Westfield, MA

Maybe it's for the best that we changed locations! Anyway, I'm still really glad to be getting married at the park. Stay tuned for the next segment of "our slightly atypical wedding," when my Aunt Judy and I take on my biggest rival - the puffy white wedding dress. Showdown!



Yesterday was our -1 year wedding anniversary! Well, we have the date set tentatively, but we'll nail it down for sure in the next couple of days. As Fred says, we're going to end up with two wedding anniversaries - the actual date, and the Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend. While we're at it, I think we might just take over the whole holiday weekend. Let's hope we have the same amazing weather next year that we've got right now!




White vs. Color. I can't seem to decide. My old apartment was an obvious sway in the color direction, but I found myself coveting the tranquil white rooms that are all over my favorite design blogs.

While I still swoon over pics of those amazing airy spaces, three things have happened since. First, I moved into a new apartment with white walls. Ok, apartment-off-white walls, but still. Second, I realized I can't keep my place clean and organized 24/7, and the purest white walls and furniture just aren't going to look tranquil with all of what I've got going on. And third, I started to swoon over the most colorful pictures on those same blogs.

Now this, for better or worse, was my entry way. I love having an entry way for the first time in my renting life, but this sad scene wasn't cutting it. So I did what I thought any self motivated and determined young person would do - I upholstered it. Purple.


Inspiration and starch recipe found here. Yes, this makes a great big pot of goo, but I used a whole lot of it and it's not expensive.


Step 1: Paint a bit of the wall with the starch. I slopped it on pretty thickly. Smooth your fabric up against the sticky section, leaving some overhang at all the edges. (The fabric will shrink as it dries, and you'll go back and trim it later.) Then paint again on top of that section of fabric, all the way to the corners, just to be sure everything is well saturated. I also used a couple of thumbtacks along the top to be sure the fabric would stay put, just because it was going to get heavy.


Step 2: Work your way down the wall in sections, painting the wall first, smoothing the fabric into place, and painting over the fabric. Don't worry if you need to pull up the fabric and adjust in spots. Just keep painting on the starch, and things will stick right back down.


Step 3: Let the whole mess dry. Trim along the edges with a utility knife. Enlist the help of a tall person, if necessary. Use more starch to paste those corners and edges securely onto the wall. It all dries clear, so touching up is not an issue. We had a hard time trimming around the woodwork, so we actually pasted on some extra patches to square everything up a little better. The patches just barely peek out from behind the main piece, and you really can't see they're there at all.


Step 4: Enjoy! The fabric pulls right off the wall when you're ready to move on. Supposedly you can then toss it in the wash and use it again for other projects. All the work involved took maybe 2 hours, from making the starch to trimming the edges, but I did leave it to dry overnight between steps. I bought 3 yards of fabric from Ikea for this wall. Total cost, under $10.



It's Official!

Remember this handsome guy?


Well, in about a year and a month I'm going to be his new Mrs!!!


Before I go overboard and dish about all of my plans and inspirations and diy's, let me just say two things. First, I have to acknowledge the amazingness of a groom who wants to help plan his wedding. Because discussing color pallets and stationary styles can't be top on his to-do list, but he's my hero for wanting this to be our big day.

And second, we want this wedding to be about people. We're trying to plan an event that honors our families and the marriages and friends we hope to follow and learn from. That, and of course we want all of our guests have to a blast. Yes, there will be much discussion of dresses and the like on this blog. But please, when I stray too far with worries about this detail or that, feel free to send some good sense back in my direction. My Dad's baseline for a successful event is, "everyone got a hotdog and nobody got hurt." Besides the hotdogs and adding a bit about getting married somewhere in the middle there, those are the priorities, no matter what the glossy wedding mags have to say!

Alright, one picture, I can't help it. My niece is on tap to be the flower girl. Or rather, the two-year-old of honor. She's not going to hold the rings, she's not going toss petals, her only job is to get herself up the aisle and look cute. So I think she gets to wear something along these lines...

flower girl
I forget where I snatched this pic from, but credits and thank you!

















At least, my summer home. Gracious, I miss this place! I hope you all had a fantastic summer, and best wishes for the back-to-school season. We'll be in touch :)



I love how people use "summer" as a verb. For example, "we summer on the Cape," or, "we summer at Martha's Vineyard." I'm certainly not living the lifestyle of those so rich and famous, but I like to say I summer in Maine.


Downeast Maine, to be precise. There's a music festival up here, and by some strange twist of fate (and a long phone chain) they called me to come fill out their horn section three years ago. Every summer since it seems I can't keep myself away. So here I am, summer number four, spending six weeks in Maine. Summering in Maine. And it's such a good thing.

So I'll be in touch sporadically. It all depends on when we get into civilization for internet and cell reception, because we have neither out in the woods. But I look forward to sharing updates on the music, the hiking, the quilting, and the Maine-ness of it all.

Oh, and that there photo up there - that's my back yard this summer.



Audrey's Quilt

Remember this guy? I think my blog got started with this project! And today I wrapped it up in pink tissue paper and sent it off in the mail!

Audrey's Quilt

Truth be told, I've never finished a project so large, and I was sad to see it go. Towards the end I kept trying to find one more little detail to quilt, a tag to add to the back, one more thing to make it just right.

Audrey's Quilt

You can see I filled each crazy nine patch square with a spiral. For my next endeavor I think I'll pick a pattern that goes a little faster. I finished by running a stitch-in-the-ditch along the border, and it went so quickly in comparison. Fancy that, straight lines!


And yes, I do mean my next endeavor. Somewhere around block 11/35 I thought the hand quilting would never end, and there was no way I would ever do this again. But I love it. I love the way it turned out, the way it looks all warm and quilty after a run through the wash. I love that it looks handmade, that it is handmade, and that it will hopefully be special to Audrey. The last time I visited my Dad I found a stash of handmade quilts and blankets that had been mine, some I remember well and some I had nearly forgotten about, and I just nearly turned to mush when I saw them. I love that. So my next quilt, my summer project, will also be hand quilted. And, gulp, queen-sized.

Hello Beautiful

Oh sweet laundry, how I love thee.


Fred and I got keys to our new apartment this morning. That lovely pair is our brand-spanking-new ├╝ber-energy efficient washer/dryer. I can't wait to move in!

And the projects begin . . . I love this part. How do we best arrange the furniture? What colors should we focus on in different rooms? How about a canopy in the bedroom? Can I find a shower curtain that I like, or will I end up making one? Should we start an Etsy art collection? Can we Craigslist for any new furniture? What about making a new quilt for the bedroom? Yep, I think that one's next!




Well I obviously needed a break, huh? Between my sister's wedding and that impossible apartment search, I think I burned out. Yes, some time off was in order. Amazingly enough, though, I didn't stop crafting! As much as I thought I'd put away the sewing machine and the gocco after the wedding, I've actually finished some significant projects. More on those shortly. For tonight, I'll ease back in with the simple stuff.


I have an office job, but it's not like that. Sometimes I go downtown to visit my Aunt and Uncle at their offices, and it feels so foreign to me. Actually, offices look like they must be a lot of fun. I mean, what goes on inside those huge buildings? I do neat things with a lot of neat people, so I bet office buildings are brimming with coolness. I think I don't understand, but I like to think that it must be exciting.

At my "office," in a nutshell, I work only with musicians, I pick my own hours, and all we do is talk about music. Really, it's a great gig. So we hosted a conference last weekend, with all sorts of people flying in from across the country. We were about to be stuck in a hotel conference room with no windows for two solid days, and our "boss" (Department head? Fearless leader? Grand puba? Really, he's just Larry) wanted something to brighten up the place. So I volunteered myself for the hard job - flower arranging.


And the results are so happy! Whole Foods came through with some lovely tulips, and the square glass containers are ones I've collected over the years. I'm digging the clean minimalist/modern vibe these days.


It seems appropriate to post these in honor of Mother's Day. For the women doing the most important work in the world. I can't begin to imagine it.

Tomorrow morning Fred and I get keys to our new apartment! For my first order of business - I get to do laundry in my own space!! Oh, and take pictures and measurements and try to decide where the furniture goes. I've been looking forward to this for months. I'll report back tomorrow!


We're Not Homeless!

It took a month, dozens of apartment viewings, and three solid rejections, but today we signed a lease on our new apartment! YAY!! I don't know if I'm more excited about having a washer/dryer in the unit or having a dedicated studio/craft space. Hmmm, tough call, both favorites. Oh, and clean white walls. And an oven that opens without employing brute force. And real tile on the kitchen floor! Right, and my own studio. And I don't have to spend a month scrubbing it before I can move in! YAY! Can you tell I'm wicked excited?

(For future reference, if some lovely young couple, perhaps a horn player and a trumpet player, come to rent an apartment from you, let me assure you that they'll probably be excellent tenants. Really, the music won't be too loud. You'll barely hear it, and I'm sure they'll stop at a reasonable hour. They're probably really decent people too. Good karma says let them stay. Just for future reference.)


And I leave you with this gorgeous thing. My Aunt Judy got a ranunculus plant, and they're definitely my new favorite. Peace!



Finished Projects:


Sister's wedding!


Current Projects:

Finding a place to live by May 15


Future Projects:

Return to crafting/pictures/blogging/sanity. . . .

Till next time!


Audrey's Dress

For my nearly 8 month old niece to wear to her parents' wedding:

Audrey's Dress

The dresses are nearly done. Our dearest Aunt spent the whole afternoon and into the evening on Sunday hemming my sister's so I could work on mine. Bless her heart, I'd be sunk without her! And somehow in the next two days, between teaching and gigs, I'll finish all three. Mark my words!

Audrey's Dress

Curiously, it turns out that this dress is not peacock and white, like was originally intended, but peacock and pale blue. There's a funny story about that, wouldn't you guess. This evening I took all the extra fabric from my dress and my sister's to the laundromat. Audrey's dress is guaranteed to get wet somehow, so I thought it prudent to pre-wash everything. Unfortunately I didn't think it prudent to separate the blue bits from the white bits. Oops. When the water turned bright turquoise I knew I was in trouble. But it turned out to be a lovely color and it works well in the baby's dress, so if anybody asks it was totally intentional. Really, I meant it that way.

Audrey's Dress

Actually it's really cute. I kind of wish I could wear hers instead of mine! Right, so what time is it now? I've spent way too many hours in front of my poor sewing machine for one night. Till next time!