i'm no granny...

Monday, April 28, 2008

...though this post might make you wonder if I suddenly aged 60 years and spend my days sitting on an old armchair, a cat on my lap, happily crocheting away. That's actually pretty accurate, apart from the 60 years thing, the undeniable truth that my cat hates me, and that, frankly there isn't much time to sit around these days.

Anyhow, my lovely friend Megan patiently taught me how to make granny squares late last year and I finally found some nice yarn on sale at Knit Picks that was cheap enough for me to experiment with. I would like to emphasize that I don't know how to crochet, in fact if you asked me to crochet you a scarf I would have absolutely no clue (might it be that I originally tried to learn how to crochet from another very dear but left handed friend?). But granny squares? Oh, I can do granny squares alright.

So here I am, about two months into this project, with a bag full of little center rounds and over 50 squares completed. I am not following a color patter (real smart, right?), since the initial impulse for the project came from Alex's Nanny McPhee blanket and I loved the mix match of colors. Now though I am concerned about the final product being too messy looking and I am thinking of tying it all together by adding a cream border to each square before joining them, much like smosch has done.

What do YOU think I should do? And, do you know how one goes about joining granny squares? Because planner that I am, I forgot to figure that out before I started.


Today's soundtrack is dedicated
to my brother. Both songs are from our favorite Italian singer, Luciano Ligabue who he saw live in concert last week. It might be an acquired taste, I grant you that, but I'm not asking you to love it, just to know that his songs pretty much sum up my entire high school years and they are special to us:
Piccola Stella Senza Cielo
Ho Messo Via

in my bag today

Saturday, April 26, 2008

While we're out and about, I often turn to Shamim and ask him to hold my handbag while I take a picture. He can't understand why it is always so heavy. I barely notice anymore, between my handbag and my camera bag, I just throw one on each shoulder and I'm off. But I think it might just be a family trait: my grandmother has always carried a giant, heavy bag with her, and truth is anything we ever needed was in there (candy, handkerchiefs, money, band-aids, snacks, you name it).
Today I came across this picture, and I thought 'hum, that's a good idea!'. So I dumped all the contents out of my bag and whoa - I was busy sorting through it for a good while. I couldn't get a good shot of everything at the same time, there was just that much stuff, so I had to photograph it in four separate batches.
So, what exactly is in my bag? And more importantly, what stays and what goes?

Stuff that stays:
  • A good book: In this case Thomas Friendman's "From Beirut to Jerusalem". I never leave the house without reading material.
  • Phones: Both of them (work and personal).
  • Lip gloss: But do I really need four different shades of pink?
  • Sunglasses: I've lost my case for these ones though.
  • Vitamins: I make my momma proud!
  • Gum: Mint flavored - always.
  • iPod Shuffle: indispensable. Music puts me in a good mood. Remember how devastated I was when my old iPod died?
  • House keys: The one thing I usually always forget at home.
  • 2 sets of earrings: This one obviously needs no explanation, right?
  • Makeup and hand cream: I got both these habits from my mother.
  • Moleskine: For notes, ideas and lists. If only I could draw sketches like this in it.
  • Wallet: I thought I lost it the other day. I nearly died.
  • Hair bands: For ponytails.
  • Business cards: Work ones. I am waiting to get some Moo Minicards for personal use.
  • Scarf: Spring is here, the weather is unpredictable!

Stuff I could do without:

  • Hand sanitizer: I really don't like the basic idea of this, I never feel like my hands are actually clean. I need to wash my hands!
  • Mints: I'd rather have gum. Altoids are the only exception.
  • Old receipts: Is it just me? I just stuff them in my bag every time I buy something and then end up with dozens of them floating about. I do a purge every couple of weeks.
  • Halls cough drops and homeopathic cold remedy: left over from a cold a few months back.
  • Friends' house keys: I need to remember to return them tomorrow!
  • Tylenol: just in case.
  • 3 hair clips, a barrette: I might have too many hair options.
  • Nine pens: I need one. Nine? A bit much, even for me.
  • Various press cards and IDs: I don't need them all the time. I just forget to take them out!
  • Napkins: From a coffee shop I went to last night.
  • Pennies and dimes: Need to be dumped in my coin box at home.
  • Tribeca Film Festival Ticket: we saw "The Aquarium". Eh, it was ok.

You can see the individual shots here, here, here and here.

So - what's in your bag?

Today's Soundtrack:
Death Cab for Cutie - Your Heart is an Empty Room
Lykke Li - Little Bit (courtesy of the lovely Dawn at Lovely Paper)

this is no ordinary lens, baby!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I can't keep up. I cannot believe it's been a week since I last posted. Work has been busy and I've barely had time to catch my breath. Things are happening, some craftiness, some cooking, a flurry of other activities, some enjoying of spring. No time to sit down and reflect on all of it, recollect coherent thoughts, select pictures, share them. I currently have about 10 posts in draft format, I just don't seem to have the time to getting around to pulling it all together. The only constant remains my camera these days - always by my side.
Last Monday (ugh, was it really that long ago?) I borrowed Ramin's lensbaby and off I went with a friend to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (free on Tuesdays, by the way). I posted my favorite lensbaby shot from that daylast week, but here are a few more.

I think the effect is much better when you have a clearly defined focus area to draw the eye in, but i still like the effect of the craziness that some of the others offer.

The Japanese weeping cherry blossoms were so beautiful and I think in just a few weeks all the rest of the cherry trees will bloom, making it so magical.

This hill of daffodil was just beautiful, and i love the way the lens baby enriches it with a dreamy effect. It reminds me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her trusty companions cross the enchanted poppy field (was it poppies? The flowers were red, I think!) and they all fall asleep. I had that same feeling - fighting the urge to lay down amongst the flowers, in the warm spring sun and nap.

PS: Ramin? I don't think you're getting your lens back any time soon.

Today's soundtrack:
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World
Belle and Sebastian: Marx Engels


Monday, April 14, 2008

My walk to the subway every morning and evening is always the same, down the same exact street. I see many of the same faces, same stores, same buildings. 'Every morn and eve' has been a great impetus for always carrying my camera, for looking at things in a new light, from a new angle, with a new set of eyes. It's also brought to my attention how much of the 'same' I do everyday, how easily we fall into a routine. Since acquiring my new camera this is the first change of season I am witnessing and capturing, so I am paying extra close attention to the small transformations all around me - the flowers blooming, the flowers on the branches giving way to impossibly green and tender new leaves, the reflection of sunlight in a shop window, cool April rain drops on the ground. But sometimes you need to do something extra - like deciding to take the longer way home, to walk down a different street (which by the way, must be a family trait). Reward might just be around the corner.

This ended up being my selection for yesterday's evening picture.

Today's soundtrack:
Band of Horses
Yael Naim

a few things.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I am a google reader addict. There. I admitted it. I add feeds like it's going out of fashion and if I don't get to go through all of them I feel like I am missing out on some CRUCIAL INFORMATION THAT I JUST MUST KNOW ABOUT. Sense the journalist in me? Yeah, I thought so. Anyhoo - I have trained myself to go thorough my feeds rapidly and effectively, starring, sharing, emailing items of interest. Skim reading is a great skill - once again, thanks to J-school. Still, it sometimes gets a tad out of control and I need to take a deep breath and really appreciate some of the stuff out there. So here is a random selection of things that have crossed my google reader inbox the past week, that I’ve taken time to fall in love with:

Everyday Polaroid – so lovely. I nearly snapped up a Polaroid camera at Housing Works yesterday, just to join this community. But it was $16. Is that expensive? I really don’t know what a Polaroid costs in the first place. Or is it a dumb purchase, considering we’re running out of film? Should I just get a Holga or a Diana?

A new favorite house. No, not this one. And yes, I realize it's no longer on the market. But a girl can dream, right? *sigh*

Shirin’s latest in the illuminati series. We are lucky enough to have some of her early work in our home, but I want to buy a house (mmhhh, see above) and put her paintings on every wall. They are so beautiful, fresh, colorful, joyful, moving, delicate, detailed, perfect.

Has anyone tried out Adobe Photoshop Express? I signed up for an account just to test it out and I'm trying to understand how it works. My gut instinct is still "Flickr is better", but there is no harm in testing, right?

My future kitchen will have a wall full of pots like these.

And now, for something not in my google reader, I saw these at Brooklyn Flea the other day. And I am still mad at myself for not buying them! I’ve done a bit of research on where they come from (there is a small “wert by hand” inscription on one of them*) but googling it gets me no-where. I did find these lovely place mats by searching flickr, but nothing else. Help?

brooklyn flea

Sunday, April 6, 2008

So today is the day that Brooklyn flea opened. I was just a tad too excited about this, remember? Well, a good group of us checked it out this morning and truthfully "flea" is not really the best name to describe this place. There were a couple of stalls that had old stuff you could buy for decent prices and dream about fixing them up and giving them a second life, but for the most part it was a lot of very pretty items that were waaaay overpriced.
Also, it seemed that the vast majority of vendors were renown crafters and designers. Not that I am complaining - I got to meet Lotta in person, admire Lena Corwin's work, flip through Lines & Shapes, and admire the amazing clothes from matta. I was also happy to learn that Reprodepot was selling on site (Megan and I figured out it actually was a Reprodept stall after oooh-ing and aaah-ing over piles of fabric repeating "Oh look! It's just like reprodept!"). I did pick up a couple of small items which I need to clean well before I show off. In the meantime, take a look at some of my pictures from today...

I've been thinking about you

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Reminds me of leili and layli...

Reminds me of mom...

Reminds me of sal...

my kingdom for a loaf!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
I would choose bread. Mmmmmhhhh. Bread.
I love bread. I love the crispy, crunchy baguette, soft, warm pita, fragrant naan, moist focaccia (speaking of which I made this one the other day and wow, swoon!), powdery ciabatta, hollow rosetta, beautiful pain d'epi, and we could go on and on and be here for ever, listing all the delicious possibilities.
Bread reminds me of home, of family.
My mom would pick us up from school at lunchtime (in Italy, you only go to school till noon or one, so you always have lunch at home) and there would always be a big bag of bread fresh from the bakery in the car. We'd all share a roll to tide us over during the ride home. It was usually still warm from the over, and so fragrant and delicious.
Since living away from home, I've had to make do with average bread. Sure, there are several very good bakeries in the city, but none of them close enough and convenient enough for me to visit daily and get my fix. Even the very excellent bakery closest to us, that makes amazing cakes and possibly the best fruit tarts in the universe, doesn't make bread that lives up to my very high expectations. So what to do?

Well, make my own obviously! I was reasonably pleased with my experimentations with the no-knead bread back in December, and the second time I made it it was even better. Obviously though, the loooong waiting times for the rise just wouldn't do for my "MUST HAVE FRESH BREAD NOW" cravings. Enter -- this book (which lovely angry chicken has also been putting to good use!). Awesome. Spectacular. I love it. Similarly to the no-knead bread you just mix the dough without kneading it. Then just leave it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Whenever you fell like fresh bread, cut off a chunk, shape it, let it rest for 20 minutes, and bake.
Piece of cake.
Slice of bread.
There are several recipes in the book both for bread (their master recipe, olive oil bread, pizza, whole wheat, light wheat, pita, rye, naan, and on and on) and for things to eat with the bread (kebabs, dips, spreads, jams, salads).
I made the basic master recipe first - which you can use to make simple boule, baguette and a slew of other types of bread by just changing a few simple things - like shape, baking temperature, dusting flour.
So here are some learnings from my first few attempt:
1. I need to pay more attention while shaping the bread or I will end up with funny shaped loaves...

2. I need to buy an over thermometer to accuratly predict baking time - though cooked through both loaves could have done with a few extra minutes in the oven.
3. I need to get myself down to Home Depot to pick up a quarry tile to bake bread and pizza on, like Alton recommends. I've been using our double burner cast iron griddle, but considering a tile will set me back a whole 99 cents it might be worth the investment.
4. Eeeeeelooooooongate the baguette further. Really stttreeeeeetch it before baking. Mine came out a bit stumpy looking.

5. Home baked bread rocks.

End of story.