Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My grandfather is in the hospital again. Only this time he wound up there while on vacation in Las Vegas. Keep your fingers crossed because he's one of the most important people in my life and I'd be lost if something happened to him. And more importantly, keep your fingers crossed for my grandmother, the one we worry about most when this happens. Thanks, kids. It's hard on all of us when we can't be by his side.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Settle in...

We took my baby sister out drinking last night to celebrate her upcoming wedding. I must admit I had been dreading that night for weeks, ever since I reluctantly agreed to go out with her.

I don't go out. Ever.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating a bit, but really, the bar scene was never my thing. I may very well be one of the most socially awkward people you'll ever know and I don't deal with crowds well, so being in a bar is basically hell for me. We wound up at the Fuze Box which was my former home away from home (back when it was the QE2) and the memories I have of that place and of those years are so good. Well, most of them. I managed to bump into some old friends, some of whom I hadn't seen since the QE2 days. Good times. We had fun and although I was seemingly the only sober person in downtown Albany, I managed to make it through with the help of a few friends (thanks Dave and Kate!!!) who hung out with me while my sister, aunt and their friends danced like maniacs. Oh yeah, it was 80's night.

Anyway, looking back on our little outing, I've had few revelations that are now quite clear to me:

#1. Someone called my sister a MILF last night, and while we laughed about it when the conversation was going on, it's absolutely true. She is a MILF. Her soon-to-be husband should be proud to marry this girl.

#2. I now feel completely justified in wanting to punch people out when they talk about wanting to relive their youth. Watching some of the college kids out and about last night made me realize that all of the people who have called me an "old soul" my entire life were probably right. I feel like an old fart who yells at kids to pull up their pants and turn the music down. I guess I'll never understand. Hell, I didn't understand youth back when I was, well, youthful.

#3. Big shocker, I hate bars. No matter how hard I try I just can't do it. I'll try again, of course, the next time someone gets married or friends come to visit from out of town, so don't be surprised when you read another post in the future that sounds a hell of a lot like this one.

#4. I need to come up with a new hobby in my spare time in order to have an excuse to go out and do more. I'm home entirely too much and I know that the only way to get over that bizarre social anxiety is to just jump in and get over it.

So that's that. I'm glad I went. I'm glad it's over.

In other news...

Dexter started up again this evening and I'm so excited I could scream. By far the best show on television. For me, I need nothing more than Dexter, Project Runway and Weeds, although Mike and I are currently frantically catching up on old episodes of Weeds in time to watch Season Four on Showtime before it vanishes. Good stuff.

Anyway, if you haven't watched Dexter yet, or if you're unfamiliar, please look into it. You'll thank me for it, I promise.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sad news

I just heard and am so saddened by the news. What an amazing man.

where you'll find me

So we live in this little tiny house.

It's not that tiny, really. It's perfect for the two of us plus the dog/cat combo. We bought our little bungalow about four years ago and it might sound strange, but this is the first place I've ever truly felt comfortable living in. Granted, I've never owned a home before and every other place I've lived in aside from my parents' house was rented, and especially since the apartment I shared with Randi was insanely haunted, it might not seem like a huge shocker to you when I say that I hadn't been comfy in any other setting. Anyway, I love this little house and can see myself being here for a long, long time.

We have some serious renovations in our future. Soon we'll be taking a wall down to make our teeny living room almost twice its size and in turn I'll be losing my office. And hopefully someday soon we'll be taking the ceiling down in our front living room and finishing the attic off to make a kick-ass loft. Someday. Carpentry and construction are things I'm really interested in. I can't wait to get my hands on some power tools or a sledge hammer and go to town. I was a sculpture major in college and I think a part of me longs to play with chainsaws and blowtorches again and spend lots of time in potentially hazardous spaces. So many great memories.

Anyway, back to the house. I'm trying to do as much as I can on my own to update the place with a very small budget. When we moved into the house everything was painted white. I have nothing against white. I drool over those gorgeous Country Home magazine cottages all painted up white with lots of amazing white-on-white details and touches, and gauzy curtains that give the place an ethereal feel. But let's get real. I'm never home so my house doesn't get the daily cleaning it would need to keep that white up, and we have pets. Enough said. I need color on my walls, and when we moved in I wanted dark, rich colors. I painted our front living room an olivey green that I'm still in love with to this day. The living room we're looking to expand is painted a very dark teal...it looks navy, really. Our bedroom is a deep chocolate brown. The hallway was painted an eggplant color and the kitchen was a dark dusty green. These colors have been up for four years now and either I've changed or I've grown sick of them. I'm going lighter now and I think I'm freaking people out. Here are some "before" pictures of the kitchen, followed by the "after" shots:
For some reason the paint color looks different in each photo. It's actually a pale robin's egg blue, only a tiny bit dustier with a little less green.
we removed the dishwasher that we never used. the garbage can and recycle bin is down there now. Please ignore the wrinkly curtain...I took the iron to the shop and keep forgetting to bring it back home.

Since the kitchen was finished (there's much more that I'd like to do with it but we just can't afford it right now) I've moved on to the hallway and bathroom. I'll take more shots of them for another post. Hopefully we can get the construction done in the living room before Christmas...I have the itch!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good times.

A man from Crossgates Mall just came into the shop and asked me if I'd ever considered "expanding". Even though I tried to explain that I've only been here 5 months, he didn't seem to care.

And I can't stop laughing.

For those of you in the area, we're having a little Halloween raffle starting tomorrow night. One ticket costs you a buck and if you win you'll be the new owner of a matted, framed photograph (with a Halloween theme, of course) and one of Dave's original paintings. Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm so out of the loop

I feel like I haven't posted in weeks! Talk about blog withdrawal. I've been super busy, though, so don't go thinking I'm slacking off. I did manage to take some pictures of my house (or part of it anyway...more on that later), but I left them on my home computer, so that has to wait for another day or so. Sorry.

As always I put everything off until the last minute and I'm overwhelmed by the usual preparations for Troy Night Out. Keep your fingers crossed for us on Friday. It's supposed to rain, which isn't good because we rely heavily on those people out walking around. Bad weather = no customers. Sales have been pitiful overall this month and we really, really need a decent TNO to pull it off. We shall see. I'm making tons of dip to sell, so that should help out at the very least.

More to come...soon.

P.S. A little birdy pointed out that I miscalculated the number of days until the Bachmann show (from my last post). Yeah. It's actually only 14 days now. I never said I was good at math. Wheeeeeee!

Monday, September 22, 2008

38 days to go...

...but who's counting???

We made it.

I follow many, many blogs on a daily basis and over the past several weeks I've noticed that we all seem to be on the same page when it comes to feeling anxious for autumn. Well kids, we've finally gotten there. It's a wonderful ride from this point, but enjoy it while it lasts because it always seems to be the shortest season of the year. I hate that.

So, happy autumn to you all. It's nothing but apples and pumpkins, scarves and sweaters over layers of clothing (I love layers), costumes and candy, pretty leaves and that crunchy shuffle wherever you walk, two very special weddings and celebrations to come. And I'll try to forget all about that extra year I'll be gaining next month. Eek!

Speaking of birthdays, wishing a very happy one to Matt. Betcha thought I'd forget, eh?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shhh, it's a surprise!

I originally bought a little doll for Lola's birthday gift but changed my mind last minute and made one for her instead. Now if only I could come up with a name for her:
Any suggestions?

Her seams are a little on the crooked side because I stuffed her with fleece instead of polyfill and so she's a little bit lumpier than I'd like. She's extremely cuddly though and I'm happy with the way she came out with such short notice.

And now I'm off to return doll #1. I'll be back at some point this weekend with pictures of my house. The weatherman is predicting sun, so as long as I can get my butt out of bed early enough I'll have photos to share.

Enjoy the weekend!!!

I realized this morning that I never credited the person who created the pattern for this little elephant. You can get this pattern and others equally as cute here. This pattern was relatively easy, but there were a few hairy spots where I had to figure it out on my own. Overall, though, I'll try other patterns in the future.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Birthday beans

Happy Happy Birthday to my new almost-nephew (turning EIGHT already!) and my new baby bean of a niece (her first)!

How strange it is that these two share the same birthday so many years apart.

I adore them both and I hereby vow not to hurt them too badly when I'm knocking them out of the way to jump on the Bouncy Bounce at their party.


a story

Four years ago today, two people about to be married woke up on their wedding day wanting nothing more than to just keep things simple.

They wanted their friends and family together.

They wanted an idyllic, short ceremony in which their friends participated.

They requested that all of their guests dress casually (the bride-to-be literally begging people to wear jeans and sneakers).

They wanted a casual reception with music, barbecue, beer, horseshoes and paddle boats in a quaint outdoor setting with minimal fuss and lots and lots of pumpkins.

But most of all, they wanted to be happy, and they wanted their guests to be happy, too.

And then Hurricane Ivan blew into town and instantly that casual, laid back, outdoor wedding with barbecue and paddle boats was whisked away into a super formal ballroom where the bride and groom had to argue with the employees of the establishment that no, the pavilion that was now under four feet of water would NOT be dry in time for the noon wedding, and freaked the hell out because everything had suddenly gone wrong.

The bride was in tears. The groom was pretty close. Every detail they had planned for months suddenly had to be changed in one way or another.

Tables were quickly set, flowers were quickly arranged, the altar was quickly set up and 120 confused guests started to arrive.

The ceremony was short and sweet, and the bagpiper, while incredibly loud (because who the hell has bagpipers play indoors), still sounded so beautiful.

The guests, all dressed in jeans and sneakers, gathered around the super formal ballroom setting and drank beer, ate barbecue and cupcakes and celebrated.

And when the day was done, everyone was invited to take home with them the centerpieces, the photographs, the pumpkins at the altar, and everything else that wasn't tied down, and the bride laughed because it looked as if that super formal ballroom was being looted by a very wet, underdressed lot.

Four years ago today, I married my husband and we survived Hurricane Ivan to the best of our abilities, and even though things were insane for a while and nothing turned out the way we had planned, we still had just about everything we wanted. And that was enough.

It still is.

What is the moral to this story, you might ask...

Always, and I mean always, have a backup plan to your outdoor wedding.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vintage Bachmann

This is a little gifty-poo for Alex, my dear friend who has been on my mind tons as of late. I miss you, Sir. A huge part of me will always associate you with the Loaf when I'm listening. You really need to relocate to the east coast, although if I lived near those ice caves I wouldn't want to leave either.

That said, I cracked up as I was creeping around YouTube searching for Archers of Loaf stuff. The ton of live footage available there reminded me of seeing them live for the umpteen-millionth time, and standing behind the stage, staring at Bachmann in awe as he played guitar, lit cigarettes and chain smoked all at the same time. He was sweating profusely and somehow managed to shake that sweat off all over me...one of the highlights of my life.

I'm kidding. Well, sort of.

My boyfriend at the time was disgusted, as I'm sure you all are now, but it's funny because so little has changed. The last few times I had the chance to chat with Bachmann he warned me that he was really sweaty and I didn't mind at all. Not one bit.

Anyway, sorry for getting all nostalgic on you, but I guess it's just one of those days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Slowing down

Thanks for your get-well wishes. Unfortunately, it's been one hell of a weekend and I think my immune system has finally decided to crap out on me. I've noticed that I'm getting sick more and more lately and I'm not sure why. I'm increasingly tired no matter how much or how little sleep I get. I know I need to just sloooooooow down and take it easy when I have time off, but there's so much to do!

Late last week I sat down and watched one of my favorite shows, Barefoot Contessa, for the first time in quite a while. I'm so glad I took the time to do so. She was making another over-the-top meal for her husband, Jeffrey, and this time around he would be on the receiving end of her amazing beef stew. Jeffrey is one lucky dude. My favorite episodes feature an overly excited Ina cooking for Jeffrey when, god forbid, he's going to be home by himself for an hour. Whatever will he eat? Oh! I know! Steak AuPoivre with a side of sauteed baby carrots and a potato-fennel gratin, followed by a mixed berry pavlova. She'll whip that right up without breaking a sweat.

Now that the seasons are starting to turn around, I thought a nice hot stew would be the perfect meal for our dinner guests on Saturday night. Ben did the shopping and I planned to make the meal after work on Saturday. While it was a great idea in theory, things didn't exactly go as planned. I failed to read the recipe first, otherwise I would have known that the meat needed to marinate (in red wine...mmmmmm) overnight and the prep time takes about an hour in addition to the two hour cooking time. Our friends would have been eating at 11:00. Not good. So, I made it on Sunday instead. Guys, if you're a fan of beef stew and you're looking for the perfect meal to feed your family or friends, give this recipe a shot. It's amazing, delicious, and incredibly satisfying with layers and layers of flavors that work so well together.
Sunday also marked a little trip to Averill Park to see an art show put on by one of the local ARC chapters. The ARC is an organization that caters to the needs of children and adults with mental retardation. The same artists who presented work for the show in Averill Park will be showing here at my shop in early 2009 and I had promised that I'd attend the reception. I'm so glad I went. The work was incredible and while the originals were not for sale, they were selling prints at an extremely fair price. The show itself took place at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts, one of the most charming little places I've seen in a long time. What looks like an old church now houses gallery space and theater space for performing arts of all shapes and sizes. If you live in the area, I can't recommend this place enough. Check it out.

Oh, and someone recently asked me to post pictures of my house (Bronwyn, I think). I tried taking some this weekend but the lighting was off for lots of reasons so I wasn't able to get anything worth posting. I'm trying, though, at different times of day so I'll have something to show you soon. I think I'll only post photos of the rooms that are done for now and it'll be an ongoing journey as more work is completed. Sound good? I love our little house and I'm so excited by the potential it has. Now, if only we had some money so we can get this stuff done!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Have you been paying attention...

...to what's going on in the world of science? I know it's difficult to pay much attention to anything these days with the F'ing soap opera we call American politics droning on and on. Still, I can't stop reading about the Hadron Collider!!! Very cool. These are very important times, you know. Intense and exciting and I can barely wait for the next few weeks to play out.

Oh, and if it were up to me, every single blog post would include a few words of wisdom from one of the sexiest brains in the world, Mr. Stephen Hawking:

For those of you worried about the black hole disaster potentially caused by the LHC, here's exactly what would happen to you if you ever "fell" into a black hole. Nice.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Keepin' busy

Little Lola has been terribly sick lately and I'm starting to worry that I caught what she had. Either that or I picked up someone else's germs over the past week or so. I have weird flu-like symptoms, but it comes and goes so who knows. I'm hoping that my immune system is fighting it off and only slightly inconveniencing me by sporadically feeling like poo. We shall see.

Anyway, instead of closing up shop for the day and retreating to my couch with jammies in tow, I'm trying to keep busy and stay occupied so as to keep my mind off of things. I've had a renewed interest in applique lately and so I've decided to try my hand at some onesies and little shirts for kids (up to a size 2T). I'm really enjoying this and each project moves so quickly it's hard to become bored with it. Here's what I've come up with:

the hummingbird is my favorite. I haven't stitched it down yet, but the stitches will be subtle.

the frog is also not stitched down yet, and I'm toying with the position of his eye. I used a french knot for his pupil.

the little strawberry was my first attempt. there are many things I don't like about it but everyone told me I should try to sell it anyway.

I've had dog fever since my mom took the little puppy home. the crooked stitch along the side of his face makes me mental.

Customers love the little bird, even with his crooked little feet

So what do you think? I like them, although we'll see if they sell. I'm interested in feedback of all sorts, so please send any comments or suggestions my way. Thanks! Oh, and I'm really sorry about the dark pictures. I can't figure out the lighting in this place to save me.


As I was typing this, the little blue dog onesie sold for $18. I'll take it!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Atención! Atención!

Introducing the latest member of the Robinson Clan...Miss Pollyanna!

She's a chihuahua/pug mix and up until yesterday I didn't think they made dogs this small. My mom took her home last night and she's quickly found her place in the house.


P.S. I wore my first sweater of the season today, kiddies! Looks like cooler days are upon us now for a while...hopefully for good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Visitor

In the tradition of Soulemama/Soulepapa, Ben will be posting here today because he has a little something up his sleeve to share with ya'll. For someone who claims he "can't cook", he does a pretty damn good job when he tries, and he knocked my socks off again tonight with his favorite recipe. So now, dear friends, I'm passing the old laptop over to him so that he may take the reins and share his deepest, darkest culinary secrets with you.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve eaten (with great zeal) tuna fish. I love tuna. My Grandma Cronkhite first made for me the tuna salad that I have lusted for all my many years on this earth. I still remember that fateful day. It was a wonderful whole wheat bread, some onion, regular mayonnaise, the texture was so smooth and “the c-word” (my wife DESPISES the word “creamy”.). Never was I able to recreate the magic that Grandma weaved for lunch that day. That is, until a short time ago…. After many, many attempts, sleepless nights, and a romantic relationship or two, I’ve managed to reverse engineer a sample of her culinary wares. Grandma is sharp, but she never saw me tuck the second half of my sandwich away to be frozen, sampled, and quietly reverse-engineered numerous times over the next twenty years.

Here is what I’ve learned… There are three unbreakable, infallible rules that you need to abide by. Violating these rules is like laughing at gravity, telling physics to go scratch, and head-butting father time. You just don’t do it. The results could be catastrophic.

First of all, not just any tuna will do. When making world-class tuna salad, you NEED to go with solid white tuna in water. You can try the other stuff, but I can guarantee that your taste buds will convince you of the simple truth… Solid white is the way to go, just the same way that white meat chicken makes the best chicken salad. The better the tuna, the better the salad.

Secondly… Don’t fear your condiments. I use but three other ingredients in addition to the tuna itself:

Mayonnaise, onion powder, and pepper (preferably freshly cracked). For those adventurous enough to attempt it, I recommend adding a fourth – sriracha.

Third, when mixing, make the tuna sorry that it was you who decided to adopt it. The mommy dearest treatment is quite appropriate, minus the wire hangers. Grind, mash, and punish your mixture until it’s a smooth, uniform consistency.

I normally make one can at a time. It seems to help me keep all the ingredients in perfect proportion.

Here are my amounts (roughly):

1 Can of solid white tuna (again – in water)
3 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Hellmann’s) – Enough to make it plenty moist, but not soggy and more liquid than solid.
1 tsp onion powder
1-1 + ½ tsp pepper (again, preferably freshly cracked)

Combine all ingredients, then, proceed to crush, kill, and destroy until smooth.
I usually mix for approx. 5 minutes.

If you’re adventurous, and like a nice bite to your tuna, try adding a little sriracha (Vietnamese garlic-chili sauce).

Done, and enjoy.

It’s a very simple recipe, and adding the traditional minced onion and celery will not hurt, but is not necessary. The base seems to stand on its own nicely.

"Alcohol's my drink. I never drink water: fish make love in it!” – W.C. Fields

Monday, September 8, 2008

New dogs + new shoes = total exhaustion

I've been out and about all day long and I'm so pooped I could fall out of my chair. I went from being a total geek who was in bed and out cold by 9:00 every night to suddenly becoming a total night owl and staying up way into the wee hours of the morning. I think it's starting to catch up with me. The past few days have been insanely busy and for the first time in a while I'm ready for bed on the earlier side of the evening.

We had a small party to celebrate Ben's birthday on Saturday night. Lots of fun. We had the family over after dinner for cake and then our friends showed up shortly after that. Great company, great food (Ben asked that no one bring a gift, but instead bring a dish to share for a pot-luck gathering), and great conversation. For the first time we met the two bridesmaids for Dave and Kate's upcoming nuptials. Both girls are fantastic and I look forward to hanging out with them again next month. Seems like we all had a great time, and that's good because Sunday was a total wash. I did absolutely nothing (zero. point. zero. for all you Stern fans out there).
I attended another Blake Brothers event this afternoon with my mom and picked up some really amazing pendants and silver chains. Blake Brothers sales are generally hit or miss. This trip was more on the miss side of things, but I did score some pretty amazing finds and I remembered to pick up a ring sizer thingy (please pardon my ignorance here) for the shop. We had some lunch and then visited the local animal shelter after that because I apparently don't have enough torture in my life as it is. We've been toying around with the idea of another dog for a while now. Mostly because we're huge dog people, but also because I think Olive would benefit from it tremendously. I keep an eye on the local rescues and shelters because a rescue dog is the only dog we'll ever introduce to this house. It's just the right thing to do. I've been looking at Scrappy for about a week now and wanted to see him in person. Such a little sweetie, but I don't think he's the right dog for our family. I have my heart set on a Boston Terrier, especially after Elis raved about how wonderful they are. So, back to the drawing board. My desire for dog #2 will only intensify, I'm assuming, after my mom brings home her fourth dog, Polly, this weekend. Polly is a chihuahua/pug mix and while I haven't seen the dog personally, I'm sure it will be too cute for words.

Anyway, aside from the other random madness, I've been slowly working on a new look for our house and have made it through three rooms already (kitchen, hallway, bathroom). Nothing huge, really, but a new coat of paint, new furniture in the kitchen and some new artwork for the walls really changes things. We can't afford anything more than that yet. Next up is the demolition of a wall in our living room. I'm giving up my studio for a bigger living space. Now that I'm at the shop and have set up a sewing room there, I'm never in my studio anymore. And when we're here, we're always in the living room. It just makes sense. I'll miss my room...a lot, I think. But it'll be worth it. Pictures to come soon.

And one other thing before I end this total rant of a post, I wanted to share with you the Etsy shop I haven't been able to stop thinking about. They made it to the front page tonight and I'm so glad about that. I want these shoes in a huge way, and they're so incredibly affordable I can't believe it!

I'll take these in olive green:

And these in brown:
Do you have their shoes yet? Are they as comfy as they look? Please tell me they are. Call it autumn madness, but whenever the trees start changing (are they changing where you are???) as quickly as they are now, I feel the need to get myself some new kicks. Out with the flip flops and in with the laces! Eeeeeeee!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Okay, these insanely awesome companies have got to stop sending me catalogs. I've been getting catalogs from Viva Terra for a while now and it pains me to open the cover each time. If I ever became wealthy (and hopefully not at the expense of someone's life) I'd furnish my entire house with the products of these fine folks. Hot damn!

Here's what I'm digging in this month's book: