Wednesday, January 30, 2013

yarn along - you can guess...

I am officially embarrassed by how long I've been reading Louisa May Alcott. I can blame part of it on the book, which packed all four of those novels into one binding, so I've been flipping through fine print and thin pages for awhile now.

But I also have to admit...I'm loving the iPhone 5 I got this month (I finally join the world of real apps), and I'm probably spending more time on Instagram and Ruzzle before bed when I should be spending time with Meg and Jo and Amy.

Ah well...at least I've had time to finish this:

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This was such a fulfilling project, my first doily. It's actually been in the project rotation since I got back from Minnesota with new yarn in hand, but it took me some time to get the tapestry needle to finish it and get around to blocking it. I used this beautiful pattern called "summer splendor". I don't remember the thread brand, but it was 100% cotton.

I never thought I'd be a doily person (add another granny characteristic to the list), but this is really just so pretty. They make the perfect homemade gift.

In the future, the only thing I think I'd do differently is stick to smaller sizes. This one is about 10 inches in diameter, and the outside rounds got repetitive and boring.

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Doilies...yay or nay? (Please join my club.)

Linking up with Ginny, as usual. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 28, 2013

natural beauty

You know, there was a time when this was accepted:


Cigarettes...doctor recommended and soothing for the throat. When we see this, we think, How could people ever think this was healthy? How could they market chemicals and cancer as good for you?

When I laugh at these old ads though, I also wonder, what will the equivalent be in another 50 years? And sadly, I'm afraid it will be things like this:




(I'm sorry, Tina...I love you.)

Products can be a wonderful thing. They are convenient. They sell us so many promises for a healthier, happier, more beautiful life. They smell so good. But they are full of toxic stuff. And they often fall far short of working the miracles they promise. (Let's not even get started on the issue of trying to sell self-esteem and shame aging.)

Worse is when companies that promote themselves as 'natural' or 'organic' contain more toxic ingredients than the run-of-the-mill stuff.

Don't freak out. There's no emergency here. There's no judgment. But just take a few minutes, and educate yourself here and here and here. (Please check out that first one and look at the toxicity ratings of your own products.) And maybe make a little promise...maybe one product at a time, you could start detoxifying your life a little bit.

Inspired by my sister, I've been working on detoxifying my beauty routine for almost 2 1/2 years. I still have a ways to go. But I've done a lot of learning, and I'd like to share what I've learned with you.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing about my experiences with transitioning to more natural beauty. I'm no expert, but maybe I can share my journey with you, so you can start a few steps ahead on your own journey.

I have to be honest. In almost 2 1/2 years, I haven't seen any miracles in my appearance. I don't feel full of youthful vigor, and I don't wake up with a glowing face. But I've changed my mindset, and I just can't keep consuming things that I believe are really, really bad for me. And if you can do without, or find an alternative, why not?

So in these posts, I'll tell you the motivation behind the change, what you can expect when you kick the habit, and what I tried - successfully and unsuccessfully. I'll tell you which products I do and don't like (not sponsored at all). And all of the decisions I've made have been about getting the same product performance with roughly the same cost and convenience.

Let me know if you have any questions up front...looking forward to sharing!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

17. try a new fruit

I am a simple girl, with simple dreams. I can honestly say that one of my big life goals is to taste a mangosteen. It's probably good if it never happens, because I have envisioned such a soft, sweet, marshmallowy fruit that I am sure to be disappointed.

My point is...when I decided that I should try a new fruit this year, I had something exotic in mind.

And then I realized that grocery store fruit in Massachusetts doesn't get much more exciting than persimmons and papayas.

So I felt like I was cheating a bit when I chose a not-so-exotic fruit to try this year. But I find their elegant stems so enchanting, and their smell so divine, it seemed right to finally try a satsuma.

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Clementines still win my heart in the citrus category, but satsumas definitely win the beauty contest.

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Anything else that should definitely make it onto my to-try list?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

flooded with the present

In case you didn't know yet, I am a planner.

One of my compulsive habits is to envision exactly how my life is going to pan out...over the next week, the next year, the next few years. I know this is a bad habit. I have resolved again and again to be more present, and to remember that life can change in a matter of seconds. The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry...


Over time, I think I've gotten better about going with the flow. But every once in awhile, I slip back into my controlling, planning comfort zone. I'd been doing this the past few days, even thinking to myself, you don't know what might happen at any moment. A carefully planned week is sure to be interrupted in my world, and I kept trying to remind myself of that.

It was a little reminder that nagged me like a drop of water on my shoulder...

Like a drop of water dripping on my shoulder from the bathroom ceiling...

Like a drop of water that turned into a stream from the light fixture.

Like a stream of water from the upstairs apartment, where the tenant left the faucet running before leaving for work.

Like a flooded floor, ruined towels, and a tense first day of class (without a shower).

Life happens.

And suddenly my weekly schedule and long-term plan to keep our apartment for another year were, um...interrupted. But I'm still smiling, because at the end of the day, everything is ok, and life just happened.

So I am reminded. Thanks, universe. I'll try to live in the moment more.


But there is just one thing we might start planning. If anyone knows of a good apartment opening up this summer, let us know?

Friday, January 18, 2013

tuttorosso - review and giveaway

Update: Giveaway now closed. Congratulations to the winner (and my good friend) Mackenzie!

Before you read this, let me ask you: who couldn't use some canned tomatoes?

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The good people over at Tuttorosso recently sent me a little gift pack, with a few cans of their products, a very functional potholder, and a couple of other treats.

I'll be honest with you...I cannot tell the difference between various brands of canned tomatoes. But we've been working our way through the Tuttorosso stuff, and they haven't let us down. I used the diced tomatoes in Mark Bittman's spicy red beans, and they were phenomenal. Maybe it was Bittman, maybe it was Tuttorosso.

We also used the tomato sauce on our pizza. We always doctor up canned tomato sauce a bit, adding spices and garlic and sometimes onion and wine. Tuttorosso's sauce wasn't any more exciting than any other brand, but I can't imagine we'd ever be happy with undoctored sauce from a can. So, in other words, it did the trick...and I have to say, the pizza was exceptionally good that night.

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Would I spend my money on it?

Yes, of course! And I already do. But since my tastebuds aren't sensitive enough to discern between brands, I usually just get whatever is cheapest, so Tuttorosso usually makes it into the cart when it's on sale.

I'm happy to bring you a Tuttorosso giveaway, because I can only imagine that canned tomatoes are a staple in many, many kitchens. One reader will win the lovely package that I received!

There are three ways to enter. Leave a comment for each one, and each will count as one entry.

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite way to used canned tomatoes or tomato sauce!
2. Share this giveaway (with a link) on facebook or twitter.
3. 'Like' the Tuttorosso facebook page.

Be sure I've got some way to contact you in case you win. The winner will be selected at random on 1/25. Good luck!

P.S. Because I'm such a lazy bum, Tuttorosso has already started a new promotion since they sent me this great stuff. You can now enter the Italian recipe contest on their facebook page to win a bright red apron, and the chance for a $500 gift card for cooking.com. Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

yarn along - little men and jo's boys

I'm still wending my way through Louisa May Alcott, helped along now by a cozy companion...

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I based my HWB cover on these guidelines (inspired by this picture), but left the bottom open so I can wash it. My favorite place to keep a hot water bottle is at my feet, after all, so I figured I should keep my options open.

The bottom stays secure with a couple of buttons, but I think it would be just fine without them, since the edges curve in a bit.

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It feels a bit Scandinavian to me, with the red, pink, and white threads, the cross-stitching, and of course, the warmth. It really falls into my favorites category for crochet projects.

And I just love how it matches the pink slippers my future in-laws got me for Christmas. (I feel like I'm walking on a memory foam mattress all the time.)

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Linking up with Ginny. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 14, 2013

engagement watch

At some point in our relationship, I made sure that J knew an engagement ring was not a requirement for me. I knew I wanted to marry him, and making that commitment was more important to me than a diamond on my finger.

But secretly, I knew I'd be a little disappointed if I didn't get one. And honestly, since we got engaged, I've had a hard time keeping my eyes off this little beauty. Not only is it great to own some bling, it's also a daily reminder of the exciting stage we're in, and all the wonderful things we have to look forward to.

And yet, I like to think I'm a modern woman, and something didn't seem quite right about getting a beautiful gift for our engagement and trying to convince myself that "the girl is the gift for the guy!" (As if I'm not receiving just as wonderful a gift in him as he is in me.)

So to commemorate our commitment, I got J an engagement watch.

www.findingclairity.com

We did some research and picked out a brand and specs that we thought would last through the years. Because just as I intend to pass my ring on to a grandchild someday, J intends to pass on his watch as well.

I'm hoping the trend catches on. And in a world where watches are increasingly rare, a nice watch on a guy's arm might be a sign that he's off the market. Just kidding...but seriously, he's taken. ;-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

yarn along - little men

Who did you miss more...me or Downton Abbey? (Don't answer that.)

We've been caught up in the hustle and bustle of the new year lately. Our holidays were full of dates with family and lots of traveling. We spent NYE in a relative's apartment in Fort Lee, with a stunning view of the George Washington Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. The sight of the city full of lights made my heart pitter patter. Something about knowing so many people are so alive, so close to you, makes you feel more alive yourself.

We also got to spend some time in the city, and my goodness, I'd forgotten how much I love that place. I saw the Rockefeller tree for the first time in years. But my favorite place of all was the Bryant Park tree and skating rink. It's much less crowded there, and I wanted to stay for hours, breathing the cool, still air from the rink, listening to Christmas carols, and watching big people guide little people around the ice.

I think this adorable guy felt the same way.

www.findingclairity.com

I'm also trying to enjoy my last few quiet moments before classes start up. I'm revisiting Louisa May Alcott again, with Little Men and Jo's Boys. If you somehow missed out on these classics during your childhood, please please go grab them from the library. I just love getting lost in Alcott's beautiful language and deep appreciation of children and family and home.

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The winter wind has also been making me a shivery mess lately, so the perfect crochet project is a new hot water bottle cover to replace the one from my mom that I wore out through years of cuddling.

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I took these pictures while we were staying with J's family, and I've made lots more progress since then. I can't wait to share the final product!

And isn't that bed cover just divine?

Linking up with Ginny and so happy to be checking in. Hope your holidays were as joyful as mine! xoxo