A Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Well hello there, it’s been a looonng time!  I’ve missed seeing you.  I’ve been experiencing writer’s block and an all around identity crisis, so I haven’t been inspired to post.  But I’ll share more about that on another day.  Today I’d like to share a simple DIY centerpiece project that you can put together for your Thanksgiving table.

Last Thanksgiving the family visited my brother and his boyfriend in Los Angeles, who had just moved there a couple months prior to pursue graduate school and life on the West Coast.  Both my brother and sister went to culinary school, so when it comes time for family gatherings or holiday meals I am shooed out of the kitchen to take care of things like table decor.  We rented the cutest house through airbnb, and in it I found the most amazing test tube vase.  I took inspiration from that, and decided that my nephew and I would take a nature walk to collect clippings from local plants to create the most show-stopping, natural centerpiece.  Nature walks are great for getting kids out of the house, away from electronics, and learning to appreciate the beauty in nature.  Not to mention an opportunity to spend time talking with them.  In the picture above you can see our loot after our nature walk.

Next we added water to the vase and began filling it with the greenery and flowers we had collected, paying attention to color, texture, and height until we came up with a composition we were pleased with.  No matter where you live or what kind of vase(s) you have, you can create a beautiful and natural centerpiece!  Just get outside and get clipping.  Nature will be your muse.

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving!

Sometimes I do Bad Things.

When I first introduced this blog I said that one of the things that I wanted to write about was ‘where I want to live in my body, health, and nutrition.’  To this point there hasn’t been a peep about it here.  I’ve been avoiding it and feel like it’s time to bring it up.  A little over a year ago I had my blood sugar tested, A1c Test.  The results came back that my blood sugar levels were above normal, aka pre-diabetic.  This was not good news, especially since there is  a genetic history of diabetes on my maternal side of the family.  I got really freaked out and felt like I would die if I ate bread, or had sugar, or rice, or potatoes.  I became so disciplined in what I was eating; I cut out sugar, caffeine, meat, alcohol, and wheat.  I met with a nutritionist, joined the local Y.  I lost weight, I felt great.  I went back for a second test, and my A1c numbers were lower and I weighed less.  Yay me!!!  So I decided to relax a little … and it was a slippery slope from there.  Now I feel like I’m starting over again.  This picture is from this past week when I bought a pint of ice cream and ate it.  In one sitting.  Whew!  Right now it feels like a battle between good and evil.  I am looking to get balance.  Watch for both highs and lows.  I bet you can guess which this is?!  xo

My Mailbox to Your’s

hey there! nice to see you! i am bad at keeping in touch with people, and doing things like calling them and inviting them to do stuff.  of course i then find myself feeling kind of lonely, so this summer i decided to reach out to people.  i am a secret postcard hoarder and one of my favorite things to do is to browse for postcards or cards at bookstores, card shops, or museum stores.  so i thought sending cards would be a perfect marriage between my love of cards and my idea to reach out to people in a fun creative way.  who doesn’t love getting something other than bills or junk in the mail?!  i mean real mail with a cool stamp and handwriting.  it has been really fun to pick them out each week.  i try to keep the person in mind with the image i pick.  i started sending only 1 per week, but then added more each week.   the pictures happened after about the second week.  so far it’s been a great success!  my friends and family have enjoyed receiving them and it’s often ended up that we then make plans to get together or at least exchange email.  watch for pictures from later weeks! xo

Teaism: Gratitude!

Hello there!  Nice to see you.  I’ve been finding it difficult to post on a consistent basis, so I’ve decided to change things up a bit and write simpler posts more often.  I have also decided to add some weekly and monthly columns.  So without further ado, I introduce ‘Teasim’ to you.  A weekly inspiration column.

It may seem a little corny, but I get inspired by the quotes on teabags or the fortunes in fortune cookies.  If I get really moved I tape them up by my desk, into a journal, or stick them on my fridge with a magnet – basically put them in a place where I can see them and read them over and over.  My favorite tea bag quotes come from the Yogi brand teas. In this column I will post one inspiring tea quote or fortune cookie fortune and explain what it means to me and ask you to consider what it means to you.

The one in the picture above struck a chord with me because I often spend a lot of time comparing myself to others focusing on what they have that I don’t which just creates feelings of scarcity.  But if I shift my thinking just one little bit to being grateful my whole outlook changes.  I can see that I have many wonderful unique qualities and that my life is full of so many wonderful people and opportunities.  That there is great abundance!  What are you grateful in your life that you haven’t been seeing?

Drafting Completed!

So you may remember that at the end of January I began a drafting course at FIT?  Well, last Monday I completed it and I am so happy to be done with it!  I learned tons, but each project took so much time and at the end I was staying up until the wee hours to finish each assignment.

Here is my instructor at the beginning of the semester setting expectations and letting us know that this course was going to be tough.  After going over the supplies list, which was extensive, we learned how to use the tools of the trade, like an architecture scale ruler, a t-square, lead holders, and a lead sharpener, among other things.  For our first assignment we just drew horizontal and vertical lines.  We learned the blueprint symbols for windows, and different types of doors, how to draw different materials like wood, marble, concrete, or carpet, how to use different line weights to indicate importance or depth, and that each drawing should be within an 18″x24″ frame with a 1/2″ border around it.

We went on to measure our classroom and draw a floor plan of it, making sure to include any items that were physically attached to the room like the radiator or cabinets.

Next we learned to draw elevations, basically a scale drawing of each wall and what is physically there (see example above).  Taking measurements was so tedious!  You have to measure everything, like the ceiling height, the height of the baseboard, the distance from the floor to the doorknob, the width of each window or door frame, the size of each drawer pull, etc.  Needless to say it took the entire class session, 3 hours, to take simple measurements.  Later we learned to draw a reflected ceiling plan, which is basically like a floor plan but of the ceiling.  It shows the location of each light in a space, as well as duct work or HV/AC locations.  We also learned lettering and the proper way to label each floor plan or elevation.

You can see a sample floor plan and elevation in the photo above.  Then we learned how to draw columns, stairs, and how to show multiple levels.  I went to Austin for a wedding and dragged my drafting supplies with me, spending several hours of vacation time working on homework.  Finally we learned how to draw furniture, which is a lot harder than you think!  Writing this I know I’m leaving out tons of detail and information.  It’s hard to summarize it all!

Now we were equipped with enough information and skill for a final project, to draw the floor plan and elevations of our own apartment laying the furniture to our liking.  We were to pick all the furniture and accessories, and there was no budget!  Of course this meant lots of fantasy furniture purchases from places like Design Within Reach or Madeline Weinrib.  Above is a photo of Willie Nelson sitting on top of my drafting board late at night.  Like a true cat, he doesn’t like for my attention to be anywhere but on him and he has to get in the middle of whatever I’m doing.

And there’s one more step that I forgot to add.  For each assignment we would first draft it onto tracing paper,  copy it onto vellum, then make an 18″x24″ copy of it to turn in.  This meant that I was running off to the nearest FedEx Kinko’s location just hours before class to make a copy of my assignment and sometimes to print out additional back-up documents to be attached, like pictures of selected furniture pieces or accessories.

Here is the final night of class, where each of us presented our floor plan and elevations to the class.  Our instructor is wishing us luck and saying so long.  True to his word the class was a challenge, but chock full of practical information and skills.  So I’ve completed this latest chapter and am figuring out what’s next, but in the meantime if you need a floor plan or elevation give me a call!

Flowers for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and I’d like to share with you a beautiful and cost-effective way to tell your Mother, Grandmother, or any mother in your life that you love and appreciate her.  Make a flower arrangement just for her!  Flowers are a classic gift and always a treasure to receive, and going to a florist can get pricey.  Plus I think there is something special about a handmade gift.  To keep your cost down I recommend picking up some flowers at your corner bodega or local grocery store.  They’re usually very reasonably priced so pick a few bunches, maybe all in a similar color story or all pastels or all brights, whatever inspires you or is a favorite color of the recipient you have in mind.

Next pick the container that you want to use.  You can use a traditional vase, or even a simple jar like a Mason jar or re-used jam jar, or get creative and use a tea cup or a decorative tin, again whatever inspires you.  Next go through your flowers and see what you will use, taking out any wilting flowers or filler that you don’t like.  The first step is to add room temperature water to your container and fill it with a filler flower.  Flowers are self sealing, so when you cut the flowers you want to cut the stems at an angle and get them into the water as quickly as possible.  Cutting at an angle allows the flower to drink the water it needs to stay fresh and last longer.  This first step in creating the arrangement is called creating the base.  You can see my base in the picture above.  I referenced the new book from Design*Sponge for my arrangements.  They have a whole chapter titled ‘Flower Workshop,’ where you can get all kinds of ideas and inspiration.

Next, add a focal flower like peonies or roses.  Something dramatic that will make your arrangement pop.  I added tulips.  Finally, add some taller flowers to give your arrangement some height and some more filler for texture.  Voila!  You have a beautiful flower arrangement.

You may have enough flowers to create several arrangements!  Here’s another one that I made using bodega flowers.  For both I used a purple color palette and had an English garden look in mind.

Or here’s one that I made with a dramatic focal flower with a little bit of filler for accent.

Or here’s one that I made for my mother while I was recently visiting Austin.  The flowers were cut from her yard.  Of course if you have a garden then by all means get out your clippers and start clipping!  Freshly cut garden flowers are definitely something special to receive.

And if you don’t happen to live in the same city as your mother, then send a card and make a beautiful arrangement just for yourself!

Hoppy Easter!

Hey! I know it’s been a long time!  But I’m back.  I’ve been busy doing all different sorts of things as well as backing up all my computer files and teaching myself how to make photo collages.  Eventually I would like to take a Creative Suite course or courses, so I can post all kinds of interesting and beautiful images here, but please bear with me as I learn!  Today I am sharing some photos from Easter weekend.

One new thing that I have been doing is working in a flower shop.  My first time was on Valentine’s Day, and my second time was the Saturday before Easter; there were lots of deliveries for Easter and Passover!  The shop owner is the house florist for the Yale Club, and the afternoon was spent there wrapping daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths in foil to go on each table in preparation for Easter brunch.  I will be assisting her with weddings this spring and summer and am really excited to work with beautiful flowers!

On Easter Sunday I went to my friend Valerie’s for a toddler egg hunt and a Sunday roast.  I think I’ve gone to Valerie’s on Easter for 6 of the almost 10 years I’ve been in New York.  I made deviled eggs and lemon squares, which were a great complement to my yellow daffodils.  Following are some photo collages of the day.

Eggs were hidden on the terrace for the boys to find, bunny cake was eaten, spring flowers were blooming, I received a chocolate bunny, and chicks and bunnies were abundant!  All in all it was a lovely afternoon.

I used Picasa to create the collages in this post.  I like the fact that I learned something new and was able to make collages, but I think they need a little more work.  More experimentation to follow.  But check out Picasa, it’s free.  You can organize your photos as well as create collages and albums.  See what you can come up with!