Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I Made Stuff

This year, I made a couple Christmas presents that were pretty much the most complicated projects I've ever done. I was happy with how they turned out though, and while these aren't great pics, and I should have ironed them before taking photos (!!), I wanted to share with you.

The first was this Amanda's Knitting Bag from Sometimes Crafter on Etsy.

I made this for my mom, who is always knitting and traveling. I love how the zipper holds a little pair of scissors, too:

I hope she enjoys it, because it took a long time, and a few mistakes. And I hate zippers! Ugh,why do I struggle so much with them? And just cutting all the pieces took an entire evening (thanks in part to a toddler who wanted to help...).

The other biggie I made was this yoga mat tote from Sew4Home that I made for my brother's partner, who is a yoga enthusiast and instructor.

This one was fairly simple, but finding thick cotton webbing was kind of difficult.

I used this adorable Birch fabric on the inside:

I'm really sorry I didn't iron these before taking the pics, but the gifts are given now so can't go back.

It had been awhile since I actually finished a project, so making and finishing something felt pretty good! I'm compiling my 2016 goals, one of which will definitely be to sew more!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

I love Halloween. What's more fun than dressing up and getting candy? And maybe for a few years between trick or treating as a kid and taking your own kids trick or treating, there are a few great parties.

Two years ago I told you that I believe Halloween costumes should be made and not bought. I still believe it. Back in AUGUST I told H. what L's Halloween costume would be, and went about putting it together. Then comes early October, and I guess L's daycare has been telling him about Halloween, because he informs us of his desire to be something of his own choosing. Something I'm not about to make, and resort to purchasing. There goes my rule about Halloween!

So, we had two Halloweens. Last weekend there was a neighborhood Halloween at the local rec center, where he debuted his mama-chosen costume - say hello to Marty McFly:

Positively dreamy! He wasn't too sure about the puffy vest, so it did take a little coaxing.

Then, flash forward to today - Halloween, and his chosen costume: a monkey!

He LOVED this costume, and has been wearing it for the better part of the last three days. We went trick or treating, and he loved that too - always remembering to say "trick or treat" and always forgetting to say "thank you".

The weird thing about our neighborhood (or, one of the weird things) is that kids don't trick or treat so much at the homes, as they do at the stores. So, we actually went over to the neighboring 'hood. This was my first time trick or treating in New York, and I found it very strange. Where I grew up, you put out your lit jack-o-lantern to indicate that you were handing out candy - that doesn't seem to be the case here - or maybe anymore. It should be the rule! It's impossible to tell who is handing out candy, except by the crowds of kids at some houses.

Finally, we carved three pumpkins of our own (though we didn't hand out candy or put the pumpkins outside at all). We were just having fun.

And so ends another Halloween! Bring on Christmas!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

MCM Menagerie

We are on day 3 of some kind of toddler plague. L. is a wreck - fever, runny nose, he can't sleep, and he's clinging on to me all day. As long as this goes on, and I'm home from work, expect blog posts.

While L. is watching hours of Caillou, I surf the internet. I'm already thinking about Christmas - for my loved ones! Not me, I swear (though my wishlist is always up to date). But, it's always easier for me to find Christmas presents for myself, and yesterday I bookmarked a small menagerie of mid century creatures that I'd love to welcome into my zoo.

1. Arabia Finland polar bear pitcher

via OnWinstonLane / Etsy
I've admired this polar bear before, but he's so cute that I'm sure you don't mind a repeat.
2. Lisa Larson ceramic cat

via mascarajones / Etsy
Cat lady? You know it.
3. Aldo Londi Penguin

via Oshawa66collective / Etsy
I love the yellow belly!
4. Laurids Lonborg teak hedgehog toothpick holder

via VintageModernandMore / Etsy
Adorable, if you have need for something that holds ten toothpicks. Do people keep/serve toothpicks?
5. Fantail hen by Strawberry Hill Werkshop

via ModernSquirrel / Etsy
Simple and wide-eyed!

All of these are far out of my price range, and I'm trying to cut down on the tchotckes around here - but they sure are cute.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Spooky Halloween Tale

A couple weeks ago, we rented a car and drove to Gettysburg, PA for a weekend. H. is interested in  Civil War history, so for his birthday I booked us a historic farmhouse stay in Gettysburg via Airbnb.

When I booked this place, I was looking for a historic, beautiful, inexpensive place to stay. I'm drawn to old houses, so this one was perfect. What I somehow didn't realize (or it wasn't mentioned in the Airbnb listing), was that this place was allegedly haunted.

This is the second time I've done this - accidentally booked a haunted house. The first time was in Savannah, where L. may or may not have seen a ghost in the night.

Turns out I'm drawn to haunted houses. Maybe the ghosts are drawing me in?

Anyway. A couple of days before our trip, the Airbnb host called us to say that she had accidentally double booked the house - not with overnight visitors, but us and a psychic medium coming to do a ghost investigation. Did I mind? They may be there a few hours. No, I don't mind, I said! Sounds cool, I lied.

I started Googling our lodgings, only to discover that it isn't just a little bit haunted - it is a lot of haunted. I'm actually not going to link to the listing, or the website devoted to how haunted this place is. Overall, it was a lovely host, a lovely house, beautiful, historic location, and I don't want anyone to be deterred by the ghosts that kept me up all night.

The good news is that by all accounts, the multiple ghosts that live (is that the right word?) in the house are all friendly. So, no bad/mean/menacing ghosts.  But, are friendly ghosts good news? I don't want an overly-friendly ghost introducing him/herself to me in the night. I'd like a shy ghost, maybe. An anti-social ghost. That would be ideal.

Our haunted room.
Like many old houses in Gettysburg, this one had been used as a Civil War field hospital. The owner had done incredible research on the house - had even found names and photos of Confederate soldiers who were buried on the property and reclaimed ten years later.

We arrived late on Friday night - in the pouring rain, and went right to bed. As I was changing a sleepy L. into his pajamas, and H. was in another room, Leo asked me "who is coming?" as if he had heard someone. I quickly assured him that nobody was coming, and got him and myself in bed.

That night, I hardly slept. I heard strange noises all night - 2 bumps from the empty, locked up attic above us. Clinking dishes downstairs throughout the night. Several instances of pipes banging and clanging throughout the little house - with no water or heat going to inspire this. Yes, my imagination was running wild, and H. (the next day) tried to tell me these are old house sounds. I grew up in an old house - I know old house sounds!

The next day, we went about our business - H. had planned a full day of sight-seeing, including visiting the terrifying Hall of American Presidents.

The stuff of nightmares.
L. was terrified of this place, so we left after only viewing the first 8 or so presidents. However, H. and I did pop into the Hall of First Ladies, which was equally terrifying.

Okee dokee.
We also managed to do some non-creepy things, including letting L. spend some time with my birthday bud:

Ok, now back to the ghosts. We were down to stay a second night in the haunted house. (Un)fortunately, the psychic medium had to cancel her investigation because of the terrible weather. Yay - unless the ghosts were looking forward to her visit, and we now going to be bored and looking for someone to talk to.

When we got back, we spent a little more time chatting with our Airbnb host. I asked abut the history of the house, and she told us some stories of the history. H. then asked her about the ghosts, about the psychic and her investigations, about any strange activities - and the host told us several terrifying stories. She also mentioned how one of the shosts loves kids, and how her kids and grandkids had experience several sightings. Fab! Maybe that explains why L. was terrified to the point of tears of the bathroom - a ghost. A haunted toilet.

When we got back to our room I scolded H. for asking to hear the ghost stories - it's best if I don't know! Hmpf. Luckily, I was so tired from not sleeping the previous night that I was able to sleep almost through the night.

The next morning, our host told us some more ghost stories - this time about the room we had slept in. Great, I said, and hauled ass out of there and back to sweet, un-haunted Brooklyn.

Overall, it was a nice, interesting weekend away. But next time, I'll be booking us into a new build condo, free of ghosts.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In the piggy bank

Dear Internet,

Right now, across dozens of sites, there are abandoned shopping carts. Abandoned by me. Probably 3, just today. I admit I love online shopping (H. calls it "secret shopping") and in my efforts to save money, I've loaded up and then skipped town empty-handed. It's so depressing.

Izzy's bagel budget has been slashed.
To aid my efforts, I've taken a couple drastic measures to keep my dollars.

1. I unsubscribed

I'm sorry, Digital Marketers. I have unsubscribed to a boatload of retailer emails lately. I'm a sucker for a sale, and they know it. So, step 1: unsubscribe. I already know it's made a difference. I think the mail guy at work knows something's up because I haven't gotten a package in weeks.

2. I shopped around

I recently discovered something: Amazon Fresh. I am a little unhappy to admit it, but Amazon Fresh - Amazon's grocery service - is kind of amazing. A lot of items are so much cheaper than my local stores, cheaper then Target even, and delivered right to my door at a time I choose. I'm sorry local grocery stores, but you do suck so I'm not that sorry. Get a decent produce section, for goodness sake. I've also made notes where Trader Joe's is cheaper, so I know what to get from TJ's, what to get from Amazon, or what is actually a bit cheaper from a local store. It's more footwork to shop around, but worth it for deals.

 3. I sold some junk on eBay

I hadn't done this in a few years, but I recently sold a bunch of things on eBay - all clothes, and mostly H's old Levi's.

I underestimated the cost on shipping on most items, which was super annoying. In the end, after shipping and eBay and PayPal fees, I probably only made $30. So is it worth it? I dunno. But that's $30 for groceries, I guess. Maybe if I was better at it/had more patience for it, I could do better.

4. I packed my lunch

When I consistently pack my/our lunches, it saves a ton of money, and happily, we've been pretty good about this in the past few weeks. Long-term, this is probably the best money-saving measure I can take.

5. I made dinner

Possibly this should just be 4.1., an addendum to the last trick. We order take out a lot. If you look at my order history on Grub Hub, it's actually embarrassing. Also, I eat a lot of burritos. Alas, the burrito days are over, or at least not as often.

No more begging on the street, kid.
What's next? I would love loooooove LOVE to cancel cable. I dream of telling Time Warner to make like a tree. We have Netflix, we have Chromecast. I'm open to Apple TV or Roku or anything else - but until English Premiere League soccer is available via one of those channels*, I'm afraid we'll have to keep the chord to keep H. happy.

Anyway. That's me. Do you have any more tried and true tips to keep your spending under control?

* - I know that NBC Live Extra does have an app but unless you have a cable subscription you can't access all the games.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The death of money

Oh, severe post title, right? That's just a cheap way to combine my topic with some photos I took today at the Green-Wood Cemetery.

Well, money, we had an ok run, but our time is up. I know I've said it before, but I mean it this time: we are on a strict budget.

We are determined to move out of this apartment at the end of our lease next summer. Yeah, we said it before. Several times. But several factors had us putting it off. No longer! We are out. Take note, Landlord! Also, we are buying a car. Take note, Car Salespersons!

So, in order to finance this move, we are on a budget. Which includes, but is not limited to: no more vacations.

Uggggh. That's the worst part of a budget. I love vacations! But no more until next July-ish. Excluding an upcoming to Gettysburg (a birthday present from me to my Civil War-obsessed love), a trip to London (a work trip, mostly) and Toronto at Christmas.

Other money-saving endeavors include; packing my lunch (like olden times), fewer burritos, and being less wasteful about grocery shopping and food wastage. Watch out, quinoa sitting in my cupboard!

So, here we are. On a budget. Wish me luck/send me your recipes for frozen spinach.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Just some pics from the weekend of L. and his new bubble contraption.

Monday, August 31, 2015

In the market for: dining chairs

Last summer (a whole year ago!) we arranged the apartment to make better use of our "guest room" (now playroom), add more counter and storage space in the kitchen with an island, and create a "dining room". They were big changes which I didn't document in any way.

We bought a small dining table from West Elm - the tiny Mid-Century Bistro Table.

It is teeny-tiny, and those of you with dining rooms fit for 12 are laughing - I can hear you! But it fits us, and we can even shove 4 adults on it when needed. Though, truth be told, we don't entertain all that much.

A few comments on this table. It is handsome, certainly, but it is delicate. Somehow we managed to scratch it before ever even putting a plate on it, and now with a year of use it's looking increasingly worn. Bummer.

Anyway, in the year that we've had the table, we've been using the crappy Ikea chairs that I bought off Craigslist 7 years ago. They are as ugly as they are uncomfortable.

Yuck. And if you're wondering why none of these chairs are pushed in, it's because the legs of the table are so narrowly spaced that you can't!

It doesn't fit!

Stupid chairs! Or stupid table! I'm not sure who is at fault here.

I've been looking for better chairs for the table for the last 12 months. Preferably something mid-century and not very expensive, but I would also consider something new that suits the table and the apartment. I've found nothing, though. Chairs are expensive, and I don't feel like dropping a grand on chairs.

Further complicating matters is that I have expensive taste. I've known this for a long time. This is my ideal dining chair:

Yeah, those are Moller chairs, this particular set was sold online for about $2,400 apparently.

Also, you'll notice, they probably wouldn't fit in the 13" between legs on my table.

I'm beginning to suspect that I will never buy chairs for this table, and that at some point - if/when we finally move - we will buy a real dining table and chairs. Then we will have a dinner party for 6 people and you're all invited!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A trip to Maine

I should move to Maine. I've thought this ever since I was an adolescent Stephen King fan, and I had never even been to Maine. But now I've got a few trips under my belt, and I'm thinking yes, I should move to Maine.

Anyway, we spent a week in Maine. A trip with my parents, my oldest friend (since age 3), her husband, child and her mother. A motley crew, indeed. We rented a huge house, booked over a year ago.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. One Friday evening, after work, we set out to drive halfway to Friendship, Maine, where this blue house is.

On Friday night we drove up to Sturbridge, MA, and checked into the Old Sturbridge Inn & Reeder Family Lodges. I had chosen this hotel and location randomly, but it was great. Not only was it roomy, clean and inexpensive, it was fun and friendly and had a playground for our Saturday morning playground ritual.

We also visited the Old Sturbridge Village while there, which was fun for L. before another long drive.

How we roll
Day 2, Saturday, we drove up to Brunswick, ME. Nothing tremendous to say about this play, though there is a fine Target nearby, and we spent some time in Freeport - an outlet town and L.L. Bean HQ. Again, not much to report, but that the L.L. Bean store is a surprisingly good attraction for a 2 year old.

Day 3, we finally get the house. We had a Sunday to Sunday rental. The house is located near Friendship, ME, which is near Waldoboro, which is near Damariscotta, and you should just get a map.

The location was a good start for visiting Damariscotta, Boothbay, Rockland and Belfast - all of which were haunted by us and out merry gang of misfits. Some photo highlights.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Our little beach

Beach, more like snail graveyard


Hermit crab hunting

I ordered lobster!

Needless to say, we had an amazing time. L. was in heaven - Granny, Grandpa, friends, dogs and lots of outdoors to run around in. We also fit in a couple kid-friendly visits on the trip, so if you're planning a trip to mid-coast Maine with friends, let me recommend:

Boothbay Railway Village:

If you have, or are, a train-enthusiast, this is the place for you. Lots to see, a train to ride, and a vintage car exhibit that was, even for me, kind of cool

Weirdly, L's favorite part of the whole thing was the model train.

The Mid-coast Children's Museum:

A fun, cheap, morning for a little one. L. liked it, being 2, but probably not a ton of fun for the over 6 set. Also, "museum" is a bit of a stretch. A fun activity center, for sure, though.

But, most of all, L. love just playing in the water and catching hermit crabs (catch and release!). Every morning and every evening when the tide was out, we'd go out and play.

One night we even had lobster, prepared by H. and A. Avert your eyes if you don't like lobster murder.

All in all, a wonderful week. Coming back to the city was depressing, to say the least. 

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