Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I don't usually make resolutions at this time of year.

Actually, I do, but I break them.


But this year seems different for lots of reasons and seeing as how this family's tradition basically jumped out the window and committed tradition suicide, I figure I might as well keep on keepin' on in unfamiliar territory. So, ladies and gents, here is my list of resolutions for 2009. Please feel free to call me out on any screwups in '09 when you read about them here.

In no particular order:

1) I resolve to do something crafty every day. I promise this to myself regularly and I never seem to follow through. Some days I'm just too bushed. Some days I'm just too lazy. I'm counting on my business to help me out with this. And even if I don't get around to sitting down to seriously work on some sort of project, I want to at least take a few pictures or something. I'm hoping this will keep me sane and keep those creative juices flowing.

2) I resolve to clean up my diet. Even if it's December 24th at 7:00pm and the only place open is McDonalds, I vow to eat something healthy instead. We eat so much crap and it's starting to take its toll on Ben and me. I'm not talking about doing anything radical, but I do mean thinking twice about what we're putting into our bodies. Plus, my vegetarian inner child has been scratching to get out (again) so who knows...this vow might include the loss of meat in my diet. Besides, my lifestyle isn't the healthiest even without the poor diet, so every little bit helps. Also, please note that this resolution does not include weight loss. I refuse to join the rest of America in resolving to lose weight in the new year. Most people don't follow through and we're left with a country full of disappointment and overwhelming waves of diet pill commercials. If weight loss comes along with the healthier diet, so be it. But I'm not making any promises to my scale.

3) I resolve to turn off the television! Or at least watch way less than I do now. Hopefully resolution #1 will keep me so busy that I won't want to blob around in front of the old boob tube, but if not I'll need willpower with this one. I was pushing Ben to ditch the cable earlier this year and just rely on movies for entertainment purposes, but this idea was a no-go. Poor Ben rarely watches TV, and when he does he loves to watch boxing on the pay channels. After thinking about this, I realized that it's not fair to to push him to give up something that's not a problem for him, so now it's up to me to can the excuses and just turn the damn thing off whenever I can. I love to read, so I vow to start turning the pages instead of changing the channels.

4) I resolve to learn a new hobby. There are so many things I'd love to learn in the coming year and I think it's about time I choose one and learn all there is to know about it. There's an organization locally that puts together classes for adults and quite a few of those classes are in the arts and crafts field. Time to enroll and challenge myself. So, what will it be? Metalsmithing? Glass blowing? More pottery? Sewing clothing? Soap making? The list goes on and on.

5) I resolve to spend more time with family. I talk with my mom at least once a day, but the rest of the family, well, not so much. I barely saw my family on Christmas this year! I suck. My grandfather's questionable health earlier this month made me realize that I take people for granted and it's time to appreciate them while they're here. So there. You're all stuck with me. Heh.

6) I resolve to become more involved with charity. I donate money whenever I can to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in our friend Dan's memory, but I'd like to go beyond that. I got involved with the Kiva foundation and that was fantastic. I donated a ton of money to various fundraisers through the business in 2008. We held a canned food drive here and kicked butt. But I feel like I'm still missing something in my life and it's time I found out what charity will fill the void. Do you have a favorite?

7) I resolve to start up movie day again! This kind of ties in with resolution #3, but it's something I've been talking about a lot lately. Years ago I used to go to the movies alone on Sunday afternoons. I loved it. And I miss it terribly. Now that I'm working out a trade agreement with the Ultraviolet Cafe in Albany, I'm getting movie passes to my favorite theater in exchange for coffee jackets. Now I have no excuses for not starting up this tradition again. I figure I'll bounce back and forth between Sundays and Mondays. Let me know if you'd like to join me!

8) I resolve to clean out the clutter in my life. I know Ben's probably rolling his eyes already, but I'm really serious here. We have SO MUCH STUFF and it's time to let it go. I need less clutter and more space, and so it's time to start weeding through the belongings and thinking twice about want -vs- need. Everything salvageable is going to charity.

9) Get rich. Heh. Just figured I'd throw that one in there.

And so that's that. This is all I can come up with for now, but I'm sure there's more.

Hope you all have a safe and happy new year celebration. We're spending the night with friends playing a nice, healthy game of Pervartistry. See results from last year's game here.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gifty goodness

Okay, so I cashed in one of my Christmas gift certificates at one of my very favorite bookstores. I took home quite the haul. I went in expecting to blow the entire amount on cookbooks and didn't buy a single one. That's rare for me. I think part of the reason why is because my mom surprised me with this book and filled my cookbook quota for the month (or, the week):

It's in the mail and I'm waiting somewhat patiently to get it in my furry little hands. Read more about this book here.

So, yes, I made my way into Market Block Books (conveniently located right next door to The Paper Sparrow...this is so dangerous) and immediately headed over to the art and craft sections. Their craft section has grown significantly in the past few months. I'm so happy about that, but also frightened a bit because I'm constantly compelled to buy them. Blah. The very first book I picked up was absolutely going home with me. I've been wanting Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Domesticity for quite some time now and now I can finally say I own it:
The fact that it's a gorgeous hardcover coffee table book just made me squeal a little bit, but the content, oh the content, it makes me smile. Beautiful photography and amazing ideas...enough to keep me busy and occupied through the long winter months that seem to have caught up with us now. The author encourages us to slow down, enjoy life and just take time. I think I need a bit of that attitude lately.

The second book I picked up also went home with me. Have you heard of or read Jenna Woginrich's Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life?

It seemed like a great read, and again the writer recommends slowing down in our day to day living and enjoying a simpler lifestyle. Notice a pattern here? I think this might be the first book I'll wind up reading of the three books I bought today. I started reading the first chapter while standing in the bookstore and I had to force myself to keep moving.

And last but not least, I picked up this little number:

I don't know if I've ever talked about it here or not, but I know Alex and I have discussed extensively my overwhelming desire to go to Newfoundland. I've never been there and something about it just calls out to me. I'm dying to go, and I'm sure I will some day. This book, The Iambics of Newfoundland: Notes from an Unknown Shore just sounded so interesting to me. The author traveled around Newfoundland for close to ten years and based this book on the people, culture and geography he discovered there. I can't wait to read this.

Anyway, those were my newest purchases. If you've read any of these I'd love to hear what you thought!

Christmas recap

And just like that, Christmas is over.

While I didn't do a whole lot of decorating, celebrating, shopping or wrapping, I find myself exhausted and desperately in need of some rest anyway. How was your holiday? The weather was too treacherous to drive up north to see Ben's family on Christmas Eve, so we stayed home, dined on a fine, exotic meal from McDonalds (everyone, and I mean everyone was closed by 6:00 around here), watched A Christmas Story and passed out. We're a young, fun and adventurous couple, let me tell you!

My grandfather was released from the hospital on Christmas Eve, so on Christmas Day we focused on keeping him comfortable and busy. He's starting to get sick of being, uhh, sick and staying still isn't his strongsuit. So we all took turns visiting him, bouncing back and forth between our own kitchens and my grandparents' kitchen. This year was particularly strange for all of us. We normally pack the entire family, both immediate and extended, into my parents' house and spend the Christmas holiday together. With my grandfather unable to leave his own home, and my sister trying out new traditions with her little family, and the rest of us who were just too exhausted to give a damn this year, we vowed to go our separate ways and just do our own thing this year. And it wasn't so bad. I felt a small amount of remorse about the breaking of traditions that have been in place since I was a kid, but hey, what can you do?

At first I found the task of cooking Christmas dinner for myself, Sandy and Ben to be a bit daunting. I mean, this isn't Thursday night dinner. This is a Christmas meal, and since we weren't celebrating with family, I wanted to make it special for us. I tend to stay away from the cooking of meat in general because I panic and either overcook or undercook. I leave the meat job up to Ben or Mike because they always rock the grill. This time, though, I looked to Ina for inspiration, and decided to stomp on my fears and cook my very first chicken. So, I went with this recipe and made what was the most delicious, tender and juicy bird I've ever eaten in my entire life. Wow, talk about amazing. And easy, too! I love that you just cut the lemons into quarters and halve the garlic heads and just stuff everything inside of the bird (still can't figure out that weird wing folding thing she does). For the sides, I made garlic mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus with thyme and garlic, and roasted plum tomatoes with thyme and balsamic vinegar. The potatoes and asparagus are just dishes I whip up on a whim, but you can find the tomato recipe here or in Ina's new cookbook. Man, I know I've said it a million times before, but that woman is amazing. She really saved me this year.

So, we chowed down and cleaned up and I proceeded to make another bread pudding because we had friends coming over for dessert. I followed the same recipe as last time, only I caramelized some Granny Smith apples with butter, white and brown sugar, fresh nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, and served the apples over the pudding. If you tried this recipe after I posted it a while back, you must try it again, but add the apples this time around. And be sure to use Granny Smith apples because that extra tartness helps to cut the sweetness out of the dessert. Amazing.

As for Santa, he didn't forget us this year just because we were all grinchy and stuff. I got a vintage rotary phone that I'm terribly in love with. I've wanted one for ages and found one on Etsy that I loved. Santa must know how to check everyone's favorites on Etsy because that very same phone somehow wound up on my doorstep. And Ben, well, Ben got his gigantic television a few weeks ago, but Santa remembered that comic book Ben loved as a kid...the one his stepfather threw away on him. And a copy of that comic book magically popped up in the Eggleston residence, much to Ben's surprise.

Overall it was a great Christmas. I recall saying that last night as I was drying dishes for the umpteen-millionth time. Even though it was different, it was still nice. I got my wish when my grandfather came home, and it was nice to spend the day in my own home. Next year, though, back to the old plan.

Hope all of you had a wonderful day, and I hope you're all home relaxing, surrounded by the ones you love.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Top 5...

...Christmas movies according to moi:

5) Bad Santa

Billy Bob Thornton was fantastic in this role, and more importantly, I loved this movie because it wasn't your typical Christmas flick. Traditional holiday fare with a heaping dose of realism and a sprinkle of sarcasm for good measure. A cynic's dream come true.

4) The Family Stone

Okay, this movie could have been better, but it really touched me in a lot of ways. I've been in the shoes of Sarah Jessica Parker's character (minus the chignon and business suits) on a few occasions and it's never easy. Plus, who doesn't like watching Diane Keaton spaz out like only she can? I didn't expect to like this movie as much as I did. I bawled like a baby at the end.

3) A Christmas Story

Yes, yes, it's overdone, I know. But it's a classic and I'd be a phony baloney if I didn't include it in my faves.

2) Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas

This has been my second favorite Christmas movie for as long as I can remember (top two have been the same since I was a kid). Jim Henson was an amazing individual and this movie might possibly be one of his greatest works. A timeless classic. In fact, a good friend just shared this with her two little daughters for the first time recently and they both loved it. I have to remember to show this to Lola when she's a liiiiiitle bit older.

1) How the Grinch Stole Christmas

And NO friggin' way do I mean the Jim Carrey version. BLASPHEMY!!! I'm referring to the Dr. Seuss version here. When I was a wee one, I owned this story on vinyl and listened to it so many times I had it memorized. I still know it by heart. It's the greatest Christmas story and a damn great animated movie, too. Wow, and to think this was done back in 1966. Boris Karloff's narration is the cherry on top. A+++!

I'd love to know what your favorites are. Wanna play?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Help Handmade!

Save Handmade Toys

This new law is a bit on the ridiculous side, although I know they think they have everyone's best interests in mind here. Please click in the icon above, or in the sidebar to the right and sign the petition or vote to amend this law. Many, many people make their living by selling handmade toys (I'm one of them, even though I don't actually make toys myself) and this could put their businesses in danger.

Thank you!

Birthday lurve

Happy, Happy Birthday to my dear, sweet mother.

She's one of the strongest people I know and one of the most important people in my life.

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Me and "Santa" (my grandfather) back when I was in daycare

Okay, so my grandfather had his surgery yesterday and he seems to be doing fine. Again, my apologies to those of you who tried getting into the shop yesterday, and those of you who were supposed to attend knitting class last night. I feel terrible about having to cancel, but it would have killed me if I wasn't at the hospital with my family.

Anyway, he had single bypass surgery and a valve replacement. It was questionable as to whether he'd need a single bypass or double, but when the surgeon went in he decided that the second artery was no where near bad enough to work on. That's a relief. The surgery started at 8:17 in the morning and finished up around 2:30. We were kicked out of the hospital around 5:30 last night because he was completely sedated and they planned to keep him that way for a while. When we left, his heart was working normally for the first time in years, but unfortunately it was fighting to work against the pacemaker and they were working on keeping his heart rate at a normal level.

I received a call this morning from my aunt, and according to the hospital, he was taken off the respirator last night (a day earlier than they originally anticipated) and he was sitting up in bed watching television this morning. How wonderful! As far as I'm concerned this is the best gift I could ever get for Christmas and I'm eternally grateful.

So, as far as I can tell, my hours should go back to normal at the shop and I don't anticipate being closed again for a while. Thanks so much for your patience, and for your kind thoughts, e-mails and prayers!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

something sweet

Still no power. Still no heat. Can you believe this???

I'm so tired and really kind of bitchy today and it's bumming me out. It's amazing how much you rely on technology in your day-to-day life. And heat, well, it's necessary when the temperatures are in the single digits. Yuck. We've been sleeping with the dog just to keep warm at night. I don't think she minds one bit but I think she's going to insist on staying there even after the power and heat return.

Anyway, instead of a long, dragging "woe is me" post, I'll leave you with something a bit, uh, cuter. I can't believe I'm allowing a video with me in it to grace this page, but The Bean's portion is too sweet not to share. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ice coat aftermath

Still no power and certainly no heat.

We camped out at my grandparents house last night with the dog in tow and that didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. Olive freaked out when everyone went to bed and we were still there. She has terrible anxiety problems (I wonder if I'm rubbing off on her in some weird way) and spending the night in a house she's not that familiar with was just too much for her. So, after being away from my dark and frigid house all day long, I gave up and went home sleepless around 5:00 this morning and tried getting in a few ZZZs there before I had to leave for work. Woke up this morning to plenty of hot water for a shower (yay!) but an aquarium full of dead fish (nooo!). I'm so upset about the fish, especially because:

#1) they're ancient in fish years. I've had them for close to nine years now.


#2) if they survived this incident, I figured they'd survive anything.

Guys, this whole power outage thing really sucks. The local power company keeps vaguely promising us that the heat and electricity will be back on by Sunday (yes, Sunday) and I don't know if I can hold out that long. I mean, I know I shouldn't complain because we're young and we have some place to go. But I keep thinking about all of the elderly people, or families with small children (my sister and brother-in-law also don't have heat or power and had to leave their home for the kids' sake), or people who are alone here who have no where to go and have to bear the unbelievable cold. Keep them in your thoughts because it's really awful. I'll never complain about losing power in the spring/summer/fall ever again.

But, on the bright side, the entire area is so incredibly beautiful. I stopped about a dozen times on my way home last night and took a bunch of pictures and I noticed quite a few people doing the same. And this morning...wow, this morning was gorgeous with the sun sparkling through the icy tree limbs.

Mother Nature can sure be cruel, but she makes up for it in beauty.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ice coat

The weather started out nasty yesterday and we were warned that it was going to get much, much worse.

Even the meteorologist babe from The Weather Channel claimed she was worried for the Albany, NY area.

When we lost power at about 1:00 this morning I knew it must be pretty bad outside, so I put down my crochet hook and yarn and headed off to bed.

I got up first thing this morning, bundled up (which, for those of you who know me, "bundling up" means a scarf), grabbed the dog and my camera and headed outside.
Now, let me ask you...have you ever seen the movie The Ice Storm? And that horrible ending where poor Elijah Wood bites it? That's what it felt like out there this morning. It was totally silent except for the creaking of the trees all around me and the power lines overhead. Trees were split in half, lines were down, and more were heading that way right while I stood there. I took as many pictures as I could before I felt like it wasn't safe anymore and headed back indoors. It sure is pretty, but wow, I felt like I was risking my life. And Olive's too.
Speaking of risking your life...it's snowing hard out there now, so if you live in this area and haven't been outside yet, please don't go...even if you don't have power. The roads were fine this morning, but now the snow is covering up the icy spots and I'm sitting in the shop window watching cars sliding every which way. Not good. Please be careful.

It sure is pretty, though.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ina's buns

Did anyone catch Ina Garten on Good Morning America this morning? I normally turn GMA off as quickly as I possibly can because no one, and I mean NO ONE, should be that peppy in the morning and frankly I don't want to hear it. I need some time to wake up. But when I made my way out into the living room, preparing for my normal swan dive for the remote, I heard Ina's name mentioned and of course I was hooked. She was her normal cheerful self (I make an exception for morning cheeriness where Ina and Martha are concerned) and wowed everyone with her ten minute sticky bun recipe. I am absolutely making these babies soon. They looked great. And I love that you could hear the production crew moaning and groaning as she's serving up the goods.
You can find the recipe and a video of the segment here, and if you saw the segment and want the recipe for the Country French Omelet go here.

And boys, if you're looking for an easy way to impress your lady friends, give this a shot.

It's a slow day at the shop today. The rain will do that. I really want to be at home doing some baking right now and getting ready to paint. I'm stuck on color, though. Have you painted a room in your home recently and love the color? I'm up for suggestions. I'm making the transition from a very, very dark teal to a lighter color (green, perhaps?) but I'm not sold on anything. Ideas?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I aint no slacker, yo

photo courtesy of the Troy Victorian Stroll website

Yes, yes, I'm alive and kicking...barely.

Kids, I'm so incredibly tired and run down I could seriously keel over at any given moment. And yet instead of lounging back in front of the brand spankin' new giant LCD TV I bought Ben for Christmas (I just couldn't wait another few weeks to give it to him), I'm here posting nonsense. High definition is beyond bizarre and I think it's going to take a bit of time for me to get used to it.

These past few days have been incredibly hectic, what with preparing for the holiday season and the Victorian Stroll. But then throw in my grandfather's brief stint at the hospital, a pain in the butt incident with the car (thankfully it's not dead...just mostly dead), a gigantic order for coffee jackets, and a frighteningly painless trip to the mall (to buy the television) and I could seriously fall through my butt. I'm working on that.

Now, before I go any further, I'd like to thank everyone for their participation in the Stroll on Sunday. Whether you were a customer who made your way through our doors, or someone who helped out with the register/food/jewelry counter/wrapping/customer service/cleanup, I owe you a tremendous amount of thanks. THANK YOU!!! I almost fell off of my chair when we counted the number of sales at the end of the day. More importantly, though, a ton of customers mentioned skipping the mall this year to spend their holiday cash in small brick and mortar shops. This means way more to me than any dollar spent in my store. All of the businesses in the downtown area benefited from the patronage on Sunday, as did the craft fair folks set up throughout the weekend. It's really making me think that this whole "buy handmade" campaign may actually be working afterall. Ahh, yes, the concept sends a surge of warm fuzzies through my icy cold heart. You guys rock.

Alas, with the Stroll over, I'm expecting a bit of a lull in the craziness that my life has become lately. I welcome it. I have lots of sewing to do in the shop, lots of work to do on the homefront (we have a living room to design and we've decided not to knock any walls down afterall), I still haven't decided if I want to put the tree up yet, and the most important priority, of course, is rest.

How are things with you? I feel like I've been absent from blogland for far too long. I've got some catching up to do.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I love clever people, part 2

This is one of the coolest things I've ever read. After reading the article I realize that it's not a new concept, but this is the first I'm hearing about it. Wish we were doing this in New York.

Milwaukee neighborhoods could print own money
2 neighborhoods consider printing own currency for exclusive use in local stores

By Erika Slife Tribune reporter
December 3, 2008

They may be talking funny money, but it's not funny business.

Residents from the Milwaukee neighborhoods of Riverwest and East Side are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss printing their own money. The idea is that the local cash could be used at neighborhood stores and businesses, thus encouraging local spending. The result, supporters hope, would be a bustling local economy, even as the rest of the nation deals with a recession.

"You have all these people who have local currency, and they're going to spend it at local stores," said Sura Faraj, a community organizer who is helping spearhead the plan. "They can't spend it at the Wal-Mart or the Home Depot, but they can spend it at their local hardware store or their local grocery store."

Incentives could be used to entice consumers into using the new money. For example, perhaps they could trade $100 U.S. for $110 local, essentially netting them a 10 percent discount at participating stores.

It's not a new concept—experts estimate there are at least 2,000 local currencies all over the world—but it is a practice that tends to burgeon during economic downturns. During the Great Depression, scores of communities relied on their own currencies.

And it's completely legal.

As long as communities don't create coins, or print bills that resemble federal dollars, organizations are free to produce their own greenbacks—and they'd don't even have to be green.

In Wisconsin, could that mean dough that looks like cheese?

Interesting stuff, eh?

Jesus said it best...

Love one another! Hate and discrimination does nothing but breed more hate and discrimination, and it does nasty stuff to your skin, too! Yeesh.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Apologies and hallelujahs

If you tried stopping in at the shop today, you may have had a bit of trouble getting in. I sincerely apologize for being closed. Bepa (my grandfather) was at Albany Med briefly for a catheterization and a once-over on his ticker. It seems he's going to need bypass surgery after all and today's exam confirmed it. This is both good and bad news and it finally answers a whole lot of questions, so please keep your fingers crossed while we wait for the surgery date. I honestly don't know what I'd do if I lost him and we're all on board for anything that will keep him around as long as possible. Anyway, yes, I'm sorry for being closed. I really wasn't crazy about the idea, but family is family and I'd throw myself in front of a train if it meant helping anyone. Seeing as how that wouldn't help anyone, unfortunately, and no one will be getting off that easy, I simply spent the day in the 7th floor waiting room showing some support. It's the least I can do.

Now for the hallelujah part. Did you hear about this? Awww, what a shame, right? Nothing teaches sultriness and the importance of a micro-mini to young girls quite like these babies. Well, those and Brittney Spears. Yum! I feel like gyrating!

Stay tuned because I have a giveaway coming up verrrrry soon, but I need to take a photo before I can do so. You'll see what I mean...I promise.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Classic Mike

This is what you get when a guy who hates Christmas and everything about it helps you decorate your shop for the holidays. One word: Thrilled.

Monday, December 1, 2008

2 idols

I've been lucky enough to meet both women. Kiki Smith is my all-time favorite artist and I literally almost crapped my pants when she complimented me on a sculpture I was working on in college.

To this day it is one of the highlights of my life.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

yer mom


Saturday, November 29, 2008

the bones of her hands

I'm still reeling from the madness that was yesterday and the craziness that is today. I felt calm and at ease, though, despite the steady traffic that made its way into the downtown area. I am truly grateful. I took a break and did a bit of shopping at the farmers market, the small, temporary shop that the Collar City Clay Guild set up for the holiday season, and a craft fair, all within a two minute walk from my shop. Amazing. I bought some really great garlic and cheese bread at the market and a beautiful stoneware bowl from the Guild. Good stuff.

The holidays are indeed upon us and people are out shoppin'! In fact, it seems like our little push to encourage people to skip the big box stores and buy handmade (and local!) this holiday season is really paying off. I've had the chance to talk with some of the other business owners in the area today and we all share the same story: yesterday's sales were insane, and today's aren't too shabby either! Thank god! Even one of the local newspapers wrote about it today. This is wonderful news.

So after closing up shop, I decided to stop in to check out two new stores I had heard rave reviews about but never visited. If you live in the Troy area, you must visit The Spinning Seed! I finally made it there and the store is amazing! I met the owner a while back and knew that someone that charming must have an incredible shop to show off. I was right. You can buy eco-friendly products for your children, your pets, your friends, your kids, and most importantly, yourself! I saw many things there that I'd love to have, and there are a few items that I recognize from Etsy, too. The shop itself is so pretty and warm and I wandered through several times just taking everything in. Very sweet...I was so glad to hear that business has been good there because I really want this shop to stick around!

After leaving The Spinning Seed, I headed back onto River Street and into the antiques district to check out Vintage Chic Furniture. I'd be lying if I said I knew about this shop before reading about it on one of my new favorite blogs. I love the antiques district and I can spend hours upon hours poking around in the shops at that end of the street...any new stores there are welcome in my opinion. Anyway, this shop is so sweet and I think I left little trails of drool around all of the gorgeous furniture I could only wish for. So nice.

Anyway, I'll stop raving about Troy now because I feel like I'm doing an awful lot of that lately. I can't help it though...this city is really starting to pull itself back up after being down for so, so long and I'm honestly honored to be a part of it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

An open letter

Dear Customers of The Paper Sparrow,

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from the very bottom of my heart for coming out and supporting the shop tonight. Sales rocked, and let's face it...you rock too! And I owe huge thanks to everyone who helped out and saved the day by lending a helping hand in every which way. I couldn't have done it without you.

I feel awful for talking badly about Black Friday now.

Love always,


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All worn out with no place to go

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was pretty great, actually, though quite small compared to past Thanksgivings. Our huge family has grown even bigger over the last few years or so, so it was weird having such a small gathering. All three of the dishes I made for dinner were delicious, by the way, so if any of the recipes I linked to a few posts back sound good to you, I give them all two thumbs up for flavor and ease of preparation. That said, I can't believe Thanksgiving has come and gone already! So strange. I think we're all well aware that the older we get the faster time seems to whiz by. Everything is moving so fast and the idea of Christmas being less than a month away just boggles my mind. Yikes!

So of course tomorrow is Black Friday and that scares me a little. The Paper Sparrow is not my first venture into the sunny world of retail. I've worked my fair share of retail jobs, the most relevant being a position as a customer service representative in the world of undergarments. Yes, that's right, I used to sell bras and undies, and trust me, I've seen it all (gravity, she's a cruel mistress). The store was in a small mall where a major department store happened to be located and I've seen the evils and downright horrific conditions that Black Friday can bring about. Ugh. People are nasty. I've witnessed old ladies literally trampled by much younger "ladies" desperately trying to be the first in line for the early bird sales on (dare I say "ugly") Aigner handbags. Really bad. Makes me question humanity, to be totally honest. We, as a people, are certainly good at being consumers. Common courtesy, though, not our strong suit.

Anyway, now that I'm a business owner, I'm eager to see if this particular day of the year still gives me the willies the same way it always used to. I welcome the sales, and I really don't think I'll see the same viciousness in downtown Troy that I used to see at the mall. People are too broke these days, and I think there's a whole different mentality that comes with shopping outside of the mall. In any event, I'll be there all day. If you happen to be in the area, stop in! We're featuring work by THE David P. Geurin in the rear gallery, and since this is the last TNO for 2008, his work will be up and available for sale through mid January. So pop in and have a bite to eat (we're serving sweets this time around), some hot coffee, cider or wine, and of course there will be dip...none for sale this month, though...sorry. I wish I could show you how pretty the downtown area looks at night right now. They've strung tiny white Christmas lights in all of the trees and it's so subtle and yet so incredibly effulgent. If only all holiday decorations were this classy. Perhaps the person down the street with the enormous illuminated inflatable Santa on a Harley will find themselves in Troy tomorrow night and take notice. Or not.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

food stuffs

So, can the average Joe find caraway seeds at an everyday grocery store?

I'm closing the shop early tomorrow in order to get to the market, buy what I need for Thanksgiving and Troy Night Out, and then get home to make the vittles. But I need caraway seeds. Think I'll be able to find them? If not I need to change my side dish lineup because I'd rather die than go market-hopping on the day before Thanksgiving.

What are you making for Thanksgiving this year?

This family takes the pot luck route and I couldn't be happier about it. Everyone pretty much makes the same stuff every year but I like to mix it up a bit and change things around. This year I'll be making the following:

Carrots and Parsnips with Caraway-Cider Glaze
I read about this in the November(?) issue of Country Home magazine and volunteered to make it this year for the family. If I can't find caraway seeds, I'll be making Barefoot Contessa's recipe for roasted carrots and parsnips.

Roasted Cauliflower
I'm not all that familiar with Dave Lieberman or his recipes but I gave this one a shot a few years ago and everyone LOVED it. I've been asked to bring it to every Thanksgiving dinner after that, so it's now a staple, I guess. Even the non-veggie people liked this, and that's saying something. It's more of a steamed cauliflower than roasted, though. Just thought I'd put that out there in case you have issues with mushy veg.

Rutabagas with Caramelized Onions
The only time a rutabaga enters my house is a day or two before Thanksgiving every year and I really don't know why. They're delicious, and so incredibly versatile and yet I never even think about them until Novemberish. My grandfather insists that I make rutabagas for him every year and only a few people eat them. I'll be making a small dish this year. We've done the mashed, we've done the casserole, we've considered the gratin. It's all about the roasting this year, kids.

Caramelized Onion Dip
Of-freaking-course, because I'm not allowed at any family function without this damn dip. You think I'm kidding? I'm not. This stuff makes people mean.

Anyway, I'm curious to hear what you're making. Anything especially daring?

And just because I feel like throwing you a totally random addition to this post, I give you this because, well, it'll bring you sweet dreams tonight. I guarantee it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Only a complete dope would forget to record/watch the episode of Oprah that featured the business district she operates out of, right?

I guess I'm a dope.

Anyone know where I can catch a replay of the show? I'm so mad at myself right now.


So, I've survived the first day of my two day lock down here at the house. I've been at my sewing machine/makeshift cutting table (I say makeshift because I had to bring all of my notions and supplies home from the shop and so there's no rhyme or reason to anything here...just little piles all over) since 8:00 this morning. My back is killing me, but I'm happy. I had to take a two hour break around the 2:00 mark after a mega migraine decided to pay me a visit, but other than that everything's golden. I've finished nine, yes NINE pinafores, six little snap pouches, six coffee jackets and I have several handbags completely cut out and waiting for a bit of machine action. Oh yes, and the light bulb decided to die on my machine first thing this morning, so we had to get a bit creative. Ben, being the brilliant person that he is, hooked my little LED book light onto the presser foot of the machine and it seems to be working quite well. Scottish ingenuity!

This post wasn't meant to sound like I'm feeling sorry for myself. I've written this post more for my own benefit (a reference point, if you will) so that at this time next year, this close to the holidays, I won't wait until the last minute to get about a month's worth of sewing done in two days. Yeesh, I'll never learn.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bah Humbug!

It's official! I've had "the talk" with my family and friends and we've all agreed not to exchange gifts this year. This is quite the bummer if you ask me because I've always indulged in the act of giving gifts. Okay, okay, so I'm an overgifter, and I really like it! But this year, well, times are tough. More than that, though, I just think it's gotten to a point where someone just has to put their foot down and say when. We have so much stuff already and there isn't a single thing we need. Sure, Ben wants a gigantic television, and my Etsy wishlist and list of books is growing by the day, but we don't need any of those things. So, I took the step, and while certain people looked at me like I shot their dog when I broke the news (DAVE!), everyone took it well. I feel somewhat guilty because I think this might take the magic out of our holiday this year, but then again, we have so much fun when we're all together and that's really what Christmas is supposed to be about, right? Maybe I'm just trying to convince myself. Hopefully I'll still want to put my tree up this year. Meh.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holy moly!

Okay, so get this...

This morning, the Troy Record (a small local paper) printed this article:

TROY — The city’s Antiques District will be cast into the national limelight Monday as three local shops are featured as part of a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show after one the program’s designers made a visit to the area on Halloween.

Nate Berkus, one of Oprah’s featured design experts, was in the city on Oct. 31 looking for items to use in a home renovation project he was working on in Schenectady. He ended up taking his video crew along with him throughout the Antiques District and stopped along the way at Bournebrook Antiques, located at 172 River St., The Living Room, located at 274 River St., and the Antiques Warehouse, located at 78 Fourth St.

Mike Davis, owner of Bournebrook Antiques said he had recently gotten a phone call from the show’s producers which informed him that his shop and the district as a whole would be featured on an episode scheduled to air Monday.

“I think Troy will get a nice shot and, of course, we’re thrilled,” said Davis, who went on to explain that he believed Berkus had come to the city looking for suitable antiques because of a developing trend in recent years where several movie studios and production companies have come up from New York City searching for period-correct items to use as props or as part of their set design.

The most recent of these visits was made on Thursday morning when individuals from Redemption Pictures, a national film production company, came in to pick up an order of items which will be used on the set of the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie currently being filmed in London by Guy Ritchie starring Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role and Jude Law as the infamous Doctor Watson.

According to Davis, studios and production companies have been frequenting his store for such items over the past three years, often sending two individuals, who quickly hunt through his three floors of antiques with a pen and paper in hand, make a few calls to their superiors, and give him a list of what they’d like to purchase.

“The word is out, and we’re kind of the place to come to find this great stuff that they need,” said Davis, who noted that his shop featured several tools, ropes, and chains from the late 19th century that could easily fit into the “Sherlock Holmes” time period.

Living Room owner Elizabeth Young said she had been briefly speechless when, standing in her Halloween costume, she saw Berkus walk into her store and ask if he could film her store for the Oprah Winfrey Show.

“It’s very exciting,” said Young, who believed the spot on the television program would give Troy priceless national attention. “I just hope that it really kind of solidifies us as a wonderful place to come shopping for antiques — a place where the likes of Oprah Winfrey’s interior designer wants to come and shop.”

Young also noted that Berkus’ visit may not have happened if not for Davis’ hard work over the years.

“I think probably the reason that Oprah’s people even knew about having an Antiques District is because of the hard work that Mike Davis has done at Bournebrook Antique Center over the years in really giving the district its own identity in downtown Troy,” said Young. “He has been stalwart and is truly the anchor of the Antiques District.”

Young said she has had similar experiences with television and movie crews looking to purchase items appropriate for projects they are working on and that she had recently rented a large amount of antiques to be used for the HBO mini-series “John Adams.”

“Between my shop and my parents’ store, we rented them about 80 percent of the furniture that you saw in that mini-series,” said Young, who said she had also recently supplied antiques to the production of “Revolutionary Road,” starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. “You’d be surprised how many movies actually come upstate to rent antiques.”

Young’s mother, Christine, who owns the Antiques Warehouse with her husband, Norman, said that her family and their shops had received an on-screen credit for their work on “John Adams,” with the set designer taking home an Emmy award for the design and prop selection on the series, and that she hoped Troy would be mentioned more than a few seconds on Monday’s episode.“

I think Oprah has a tremendous audience and really influences people and what they do, so just highlighting the Antiques District and downtown Troy in general is a big plus,” said Christine Young. “Plus, I think that anything that can bring more people into downtown Troy is a tremendous bonus.”

She went on to explain that even though her family had been working with television shows and movies for more than 20 years, this was the first time she had sent out a mass e-mail to all of her customers telling them to watch a television show.

“It’s a little bit of Hollywood here in Troy, New York,” said her daughter, Elizabeth.The episode will air Monday, Nov. 24, at 4 p.m. on WNYT-Channel 13.

Oprah Winfrey is recommending downtown Troy as the place to shop this year! They were filming the area on Halloween, mostly in the antiques district, and the spot will be featured on Monday night's show. Holy crap!!! I don't sell antiques here, but the businesses here are all grouped in together so this means an amazing opportunity for all of us. How cool!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Give the ocean what I took from you

I have so many things on my plate right now it's almost maddening. Being the huge procrastinator that I am, I waited until the very last second to get all of the projects done that I needed to finish. With Troy Night Out on Black Friday this month and the Victorian Stroll sneaking up very quickly (for those of you who aren't from this area, the Stroll brings 20,000 people into downtown Troy every year), I find myself running around frantically, trying to build up as much stock in the shop as I possibly can and that means many, many, MANY hours at the sewing machine. I've decided to lock myself in my house this weekend and just sew until I can't sew anymore. Fun!

photo used with permission courtesy of Alicia at Posie Gets Cozy
And yet as if I don't have enough on my plate at the moment, I'm fantasizing about things I want to work on at the house. We're waiting for the official word on the wall that's coming down in our living room...I'm still determined to get that done before Christmas. We have an architect in the family and we're just waiting to find out if we've chosen the right wall to take down before any sledge hammers come out. Probably a good idea, right? On top of that, I have this huge desire to paint my fireplace. Like most people, I am completely and totally against painting brick. It's a crime, really. But this fireplace needs a huge pick me up. A while back, I flagged this post because I was fascinated by the idea of it. I haven't forgotten about it since then and I think I'd like to give it a shot. The process seems simple. Plaster of Paris is mixed and poured into candy molds. Alicia used molds of roses for her fireplace and then piped the stems in with a piping bag, but I'm thinking of using bird molds for mine. I like these:

Once the plaster cures in the molds, you pop the shapes out and plaster them to the brick. Once that plaster hardens, you simply prime and paint the entire surface and voila. I think it's pretty. What do you think???

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I love clever people

Especially people who make t-shirts with t-shirts on them:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yarn trip

Once upon a time, a group of three yarn whores and a guy just lookin' for something to do, decided to drive to Poughkeepsie, NY in search of a yarn wholesaler. This kind and friendly wholesaler tempted them with great deals, and so they decided to take him up on his offer.

After a long but quite pleasant drive (and a few bouts of temporary insanity from being completely and totally lost), this crew finally made it to Poughkeepsie and entered a crazy yarn paradise in the most unexpected of places.

There were rows and rows of boxes full of yarn, free for the rummaging.

There were bags filled with other bags full of yarn in every color one could imagine.

And the group was allowed to roam freely there, permitted to search in every nook and cranny. And boy were there a lot of them.

The warehouse was filled with all sorts of fiber,

And more fiber,

And one very sadistic kitty.

And there were multiple floors to visit, too.

And this made the group happy.

Very, very happy.

Okay, maybe entirely too happy.

But soon it was time to wind down,

And weigh out.

And make their way back through Poughkeepsie, heading home.

But not before making a pit stop at the best farm stand

where you could buy fleshy pumpkins,

sugarplums, cider, apple dumplings and divine Greek wedding cakes.

The perfect ending to a great day. And the group, they were plenty happy...

Especially the ones who walked away with a half-pound of cashmere for $20. Yep.