Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Okay, so here we go with the obligatory New Years resolution post. If this bores you to tears, feel free to move along, or leave the page for a few days until my slacker butt updates again.

So, I just looked over last year's resolutions and, surprisingly, I was a relatively good girl in 2009. Let's review, shall we?

1) I resolve to do something crafty every day. Okay, okay, so I didn't do something creative EVERY day, but pretty darn close. I learned a few new things, used my camera a lot more and worked my butt off to keep the shop stocked as well as I could. In 2010, I plan to take a class or two, come up with some new items to sell in the shop, and really, really study the manual to my camera and learn what all of those finicky little buttons and doo-hickeys can do for me. Overall, I give myself a B- on resolution #1 for 2009.

2) I resolve to clean up my diet. And oh boy did I! I originally planned to stop eating fast food, processed food, and just junk in general and replace it with whole grains, fruits and veggies and lean meats. Not only did I accomplish this (with a few little sneak days here and there) but I've been following Weight Watchers since February 1st of 2009, and hit the 70 pound loss mark right before we left for Florida in October. With the holidays lingering around here now, I'm sure the scale would give me a good old fashioned slap on the ass for slacking off. But immediately following Christmas I jumped back on plan, and my goal is to finish this journey of mine by spring/early summer of 2010. Overall, I give myself an A- on resolution #2 for 2009. I could have been better, but I also could have just skipped this one altogether...and I didn't.

3) I resolve to turn off the television. Ha ha, I deserve a big fat F for this one. Not only have I been watching more television, but the quality of said tv is really, really bad. I refuse to embarrass myself by admitting exactly what it is that I've been watching, and I won't try to bullshit you by feeding you the line that some reality television shows are simplified versions of sociology and humanities experiments (see, you can learn and laugh at people all at the same time!), even though I truly feel that they are. The fact is, I'm ashamed to admit it and I've trimmed my television viewing list/schedule drastically for 2010. More books! More crafting! Hell, if I had seen this resolution through, I would have been able to give myself an A+++ for resolutions #1 and #2, simply because I would have had the time for them. Kill your television!!! Overall, I give myself a nasty, shame-filled F for resolution #3 in 2009.

4) I resolve to learn a new hobby. This one really worked for me this year. My mom taught me how to make jewelry and I'm loving it. In fact, I'm seriously considering taking an Intro to Jewelry Making class over the course of this winter, just to learn the basics and brush up on my welding/soldering/filing skills. Money is the only obstacle, of course, but I'm working on it. Aside from the jewelry stuff, I've worked a bit on my quilting skills and am still slowly learning the ins and outs of my camera. Kate promised to teach me how to knit while she's home with the baby. I want my mom to teach me how to make crocheted cardigan sweaters like the ones she sells at the shop (I want to make them in adult sizes). I'd love to learn how to make soap and cheese, too. If you know of any classes on either of these things in the area, please share the knowledge! Overall, I give myself an A for resolution #4 in 2009. Hopefully it will be more like an A+ in 2010.

5) I resolve to spend more time with my family. Totally dropped the ball on this one. I see my immediate family pretty often. I've seen my sister more this year than in years past, not only because of the kids, but because of the incident with Jeremie being sick and all. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't really gone out of my way to get together with certain family members that I really should reach out to. But, I did see my aunt, uncle and cousin in Florida this fall, and made a point to spend time with my grandmother to learn how to make her pierogis and her famous Thanksgiving stuffing. I really plan to work on this resolution in 2010. I'm also planning to spend more time with friends, too. We all agree that we should get together more, and we're going to make this happen. For real. Overall, I give myself a C for resolution #5 in 2009. Yeah, I suck.

6) I resolve to become more involved with charity. Again, could have been better, but could have been much, much worse! The obvious one here was the fundraiser for my sister and her family. This was a lot of work put out there on behalf of a lot of people and we all pulled it off. Amazing. I've been doing the Kiva thing for a few years now and that's working out well. I sponsored three different people in 2009, two for business capital and one for a personal loan. I love this organization. If you're looking to try something new in 2010, check them out! $25 can totally turn someones life around. AND, you get the money back. Aside from the fundraiser and Kiva, I've made a ton of donations through the shop. I won't list them all here, but 2009 saw thirteen different charities receive donations through The Paper Sparrow. Hopefully I can do more in 2010. Overall, I give myself a B for resolution #6 in 2009.

7) I resolve to start up movie day again. FAIL. Big time fail. I think the only way this is going to happen again is if Randi and Keith move home and Randi does this with me weekly. Mondays really mean nothing more to me than the opportunity to be a complete and total slacker, and driving to Albany always seems like a bad idea when it's time to get in the car and head to The Spectrum. A big fat F for me on this one too. We'll see about 2010.

8) I resolve to clean out the clutter in my life. Eh, we've done so-so with this one this year. A few different floods in our basement forced us to purge a lot of crap down there, but there's still a ton left over. I see this as something that shouldn't take a lot of time...just the will to do it. Maybe one of these days I'll just go ahead and do it. But unfortunately, 2009 just wasn't the year for it. I'll give myself a D- for this one with the hope that it'll happen in 2010. It certainly needs to.

9) Get rich. Grade = F. And that's all there is to say about that.

So that's that. I guess I can work on these same resolutions in the coming year. I don't really have any to add. What are your plans???

Here's hoping you all have a safe celebration on the 31st. And here's to a prosperous and healthy year ahead! Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

what's with the negativity?

So, for the second day in a row, our local paper has written and published articles casting Troy in a rather nasty light. Way to help us bring customers into town, Times Union! We all thank you!

Monday's article can be found here. I'd just like to say that the shopping day he's referring to here was the day after Christmas and we just so happened to have suffered through an ice storm that day. Nothing says prime outdoor shopping like a sleet shower!!!

Today's article can be found here. The "renaissance" here was booming for the last several months despite the economy. We all worked hard to encourage people to shop in Troy and for the first time in ages, we all heard people talking about how proud they were to turn their backs on the malls and shop in local, downtown districts. All of that hard work is out the window now. The second you use the word "unsafe" to describe any shopping area, people run like wild.

Yeesh, it's going to be a long winter.

Monday, December 28, 2009

so green, despite the snow

Spotted this teeny patch from my front porch all the way across the street. Amazing that anything can be this green and alive despite such horrendous conditions. It's COLD out there!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


One of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time. So sad.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


We wanted to take the time to wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday. You are all such great friends and companions and life just wouldn't be the same without you! So, Seasons Greetings from Kate and Ben...

...and Olive too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Christmas may as well just pass me by this year and I probably wouldn't even notice. I'm looking around at all of your pretty blog posts with pictures of Christmas trees and holiday decor and I'm envious. I had no time at all this year for any of that! No decorations, no holiday cheer, no parties, not even a tree! Just work and stress and blahs. The photo of the tree posted here is from last year. I must have been feeling more festive in 2008. Oh well. Anyway, I'm hoping this year is full of fun and good times for all of you!

Finally finished my holiday baking last night. This year's baskets will feature the following (I'll include recipes where I can):

French Chocolate Bark (the most delish thing in the basket by far!)
Aggression Cookies
Super Spicy Chex Mix
Sweet Cranberry Chex Mix
Christmas Bread (mmmm, so yummy)
Chocolate Dipped Pretzels (rolled in M&Ms, sprinkles and crushed peppermint chips)
Monkey Munch (or Puppy Chow or Muddy Buddies...whatever your name of choice may be!)

aaaaaaand, I'm drawing a blank on the other things in there. Eek! I'm tired! There's a lot, that's all I can say. Hope everyone loves it all!

What are you baking this year?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

old bag

You know, I used to be one of the biggest Howard Stern fans on the face of the planet. I couldn't start my day without Howard and I dreaded the day he decided to end his career for good.

The show started getting weak (namely after his move to Sirius and his sham of a marriage) and I started getting sick of paying (a lot) to listen to him complain about how hard it was to live on $500 million. Yes, the man is a genius. Yes, he is self-made and basically pulled himself out of the gutter with his sharp tongue and quick wit. But when I read this today, I wanted to hunt him down and slap him with a colostomy bag.

Please, Howard, do us all a favor and retire with some integrity. We'll all thank you for it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


So, I'm sitting here in the middle of this insane blizzard that literally took over NYC, wondering if/when I'll be able to return home tomorrow (today). It's after 4am and I don't want to go to sleep because I need to get up in a little while anyway. My train leaves Penn Station at 8:15, and Amtrak's site is down for maintenance. How convenient for Amtrak.

Anyway, Mike and I caught Eric Bachmann playing one of very few solo shows tonight and it was, by far, one of the best performances I've ever seen. A very small, intimate crowd during a very odd night of weather, and Mr.B played all alone. No Crooked Fingers, just Bachmann and his guitars. In one word...spectacular. I can't emphasize enough how happy I am that he's back in the states, doing what he does best. He recently moved home after a brief stint in China. Apparently, Mr. B decided to give teaching a shot and, as he admitted to the crowd, became frustrated and dropped too many F-bombs in front of the kids. As I'm sure you can imagine, this does not bode well with his superiors. So, lucky for us, he's back to singing, and honestly folks, this is what he's meant to do. Thank god for that.

A great time was had. Lots of walking, fantastic Thai food, a few photo ops and Gray's Papaya on the walk home. I'm not a fan of the city at all, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Muchas gracias to Mike for being an amazing tour guide, and to Catherine for allowing me to take over her apartment.

For those of you on the east coast, I hope you're all well and safe. And please keep your fingers crossed that I make it home on time. I have a date with friends tomorrow morning and I'd really hate to miss it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I aint no slacker, yo

I know, I know.

This poor little blog o' mine has been so neglected recently and I'm really sorry. I miss you guys! But tis the holiday season and I'm thrilled to report that the shop has been so incredibly busy that I can't keep up! My fingers are cracked and bleeding from making jewelry and the chair in front of my sewing machine has the shape of my butt permanently indented in it. But I'm not complaining. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for your patronage! Amazing.

And, of course, outside of the shop life has me running all over with no sign of stopping any time soon. Eric Bachmann in NYC this weekend, followed by our yearly trip to Jay Street, and then back to work! Can't wait. I've barely started my Christmas baking. Yikes!

Anyway, please accept my apologies for my lack of presence here lately. Once January arrives I expect life to go back to normal. Or at least I hope so.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Oh New York, you've done it again.

I'm too disgusted for words.

I spent the entire day yesterday full of hope and thinking that we'll finally do something right for once. Now I just want to throw up.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'm here, I'm here.

Okay, so I'm alive. I'm slacking with the blog lately, I know, but I'm slacking in every aspect of my life these days. I'm backed up with e-mail, work stuff, personal stuff. December is like that I guess. Lots going on. Ben and I agree that we both need another vacation already.

How was your Thanksgiving? I'm hoping it was perfect. I'll take any opportunity to eat my grandmother's magical stuffing. This year I had the chance to learn how to make it, which is even more rad. I'm convinced I'll never make it as well as she does, but it's worth a shot. It's also wonderful that I had the chance to learn it from her first hand.

So, I just want to take a second to thank everyone once again for their participation with the fundraiser this past weekend. We had so many items in the raffle and lots of people came out to support my sister and her family. Thank you! Here's the rundown:

* The Polish American Club in Cohoes for letting us use the space and for being so cool about running the entire thing (including the 50/50 raffle)
* Cohoes House of Pizza for their donation to the raffle
* Dave Geurin for donating a painting
* Kate Geurin for donating a gorgeous handmade woven shawl
* Moon and Stars Studio for a very pretty glass and silver locket necklace
* Barbara Reeley and Paul Hoagland from the Third Street Potters for their pottery contributions.
* Leah from Our Yellow House for the knitted baby pants and legwarmers
* Kathy from The Broken Mold for the sweet mug and plate set
* Bianca from The Broken Mold for the hanging vases and bowl
* Danielle Mathers for the bracelet and earring set
* Lorraine Bowen for a beautiful framed painting
* Animal House in Cohoes for donating two puppy grooming packages
* Lark Vegas in Albany for donating a gift certificate for a piercing
* Fast Lane Tattoo for donating a gift certificate for a tattoo
* Linda Lange for her gorgeous baby sweater set
* Skipper Ed for the hand carved wooden plane
* Glenn Gela for his amazing drawing
* The Trojan Horse in Troy for donating an antique handbag, doll and Christmas ornament
* KO Pizza in Cohoes for donating the pizza served at the fundraiser
* DJ Krazy Keith for his musical services throughout the fundraiser
* The friends and family members who made food for the event
* The friends and family members who helped with setup and take down
* The many, many people who sent checks and cash for the Stebbins family
* The many, many people who turned out for the fundraiser

This list could go on forever, and if I forgot you, please accept my apologies. I didn't mean to leave anyone out. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This was such an amazing opportunity for my sister and her family. I can't thank anyone enough. Please take any opportunity to support the business people and artists/crafters listed above. They really went above and beyond with this. We are all so blessed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

muppets do queen

There are no words...

Monday, November 23, 2009


My sweet little girl turns three today.

I'm so glad we opted for the squiggly, squirmy little black ball of fur instead of the quiet, shy version that was her sister. We thought we were nuts at the time for making the choice we made, but I can't imagine life without her.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I'm working on two things at the moment...ornaments for the Christmas season here at the shop, and keeping myself sane while working on said ornaments. Yeesh! All of these ideas sound so good in the beginning and yet actually sitting down and executing them is a royal pain in the rear.

Anyway, I bought a ton of these little ceramic birds and wasn't sure what to do with them. Stumbled upon the "make your own ornament" section at my local Michael's store and immediately a light went on in my brain. So, after making a gigantic mess with the mossy stuff, breaking a few birds and balls, and throwing out more curse words than I'd care to mention, I finished them all. 16 are ready to go in the shop. Some of the balls have green moss, some have brown. Some also have little holly berries in the bottom on top of the moss. Some balls are topped with red velvet ribbon, some with green or gold silk. Suggestions? Comments?

Sorry for the crappy photos but these buggers were nearly impossible to photograph!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Just wanted to give an update on Jeremie's condition for those of you waiting to hear, and I also wanted to provide an update on next week's fundraiser and raffle.

Jeremie is currently stable enough to have been taken out of the intensive care unit and moved onto another floor. He's awake and off of the ventilator but his pneumonia is still there and rearing its ugly head. Please continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers. He's still not in the clear yet, but he's doing much better than he was. Thanks so much for all of your support.

As for the raffle, we have some items still coming in, so I think we're set for a great opportunity for those of you attending. We'll be giving away amazing pottery from local potters, jewelry from local and national artists, handbags from a few different ladies, a few paintings all done by local artists, some hand knits, two gift certificates for tattoos from local tattoo parlors, a gift certificate for a piercing, food giveaways, and more! Come on out and take a chance! You won't be disappointed, I assure you. And thank you so, so very much to everyone who contributed! I can't thank you enough.

If there's anyone else who might be interested in donating an item, it's not too late! Thanks!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

weekend recap

Yes, my weekend recap comes to you on Thursday, but hey, that's how I roll. My weekend generally starts on Saturday night and ends on Monday night. It takes me a little effort to get it together once the week starts again.


Watched Miguel Cotto get his hiney handed to him.

Also got my Freddie Roach fix. Yes, I have a little thing for Freddie.

Enjoyed the second fire of the season.


Found this weird feather configuration.

And of course, the most important part of the weekend...


Learned the basic rules.

Boiled some taters.

Kneaded some dough.

Learned the secret behind Gram's kick ass potato filling.

Also learned exactly how much butter goes into the sauerkraut pierogi. Hint: this isn't all of it.

Boiled up the mother load. We had ten dozen all together.

And ate. Lots.

I just want to say that I will remember this forever. Four generations of women gathered together in a small kitchen, learning family traditions that would have otherwise gone forgotten. Thanks, Gram!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ask and ye shall receive

Remember this post from just a few days ago?

My wish came true. Heading to the big city next month to catch the late show at the Mercury Lounge.

Welcome back, Mr. Bachmann. Welcome back.

Friday, November 13, 2009

torrid love affair

It's happened. I am in love with my neti pot. Go out and get one. Today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

help, please

I've hesitated to write about this situation until now, but it's time.

My brother-in-law is in the hospital and has been for close to three weeks now. I haven't said anything up until this point on the old blog here mostly because he's a very private person and I didn't want to blab his personal business all over the internet. So...yes, he's in the intensive care unit in a local hospital with apparent bacterial pneumonia and he's in pretty rough shape. He's on a ventilator and being kept in a medically induced coma. He's being fed through a tube and kept quiet while the doctors try to figure out how to make him better. He's very young (under 30) and normally a strong, burly person. This just took everything out of him.

As you know already, my sister and her husband have two small children, and I'm sure you can imagine the kind of financial toll this situation can put on any young family. We'd like to help out as much as we can, so family and friends have joined together to arrange a fundraiser for them. If you're in the area, please join us on November 28th. All other details are included in the flyer below. You could always call me or e-mail me if you have any questions.

I'm taking the reins on a raffle to be held at the benefit and I'm looking for people to help out with this. If you're an artist, crafter, jeweler, business owner, etc. and you'd like to make a donation, that would be AMAZING!!! We'll take any item you'd like to donate and gift certificates, movie passes, vouchers, etc. are all welcome also.

Thank you so much in advance! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

basic day to day needs

Oh, Mr. Eric Bachmann, please come back for another run. I'd give my left arm at this point. And the left one is the good one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

guess what iiiiiiiiii got?

Dave and Kate gave me a sweet birthday gift. I know I shouldn't be surprised because, duh, they always give amazing gifts, even when they shouldn't. Ahem. You'll have to check with them, but I'm pretty sure I actually squealed like a toddler when I opened it. Kate Etsy-stalked me and found it in my faves. It's now hanging proudly in my kitchen. If you want one of your own, go here.

Haven't had a chance to get a good photo of it, but Sandy also gave me an awesome gift...a really cool photo of a dead bird which I adore and quickly installed in the living room. It might sound all weird or morbid to hang a photo of a dead bird in one's living room, but the colors in this print are fantastic and the photo is beautiful.

Thanks, guys. You're the best! But you shouldn't have.

Monday, November 9, 2009

tried and true

If your household is anything like mine, you get a small ton of junk mail in your mailbox weekly. I took a tip from an old friend a while back and started taking steps toward revenge. Since then, any time I get a piece of mail that includes a postage-paid return envelope, I simply write a note back to the company letting them know that I'm not interested in whatever it is they're trying to sell me, stuff it in the return envelope, and make them pay to have their own tree-killing garbage sent right back to them. You don't have to pay a cent! Sometimes it takes more than one attempt (Discover clearly doesn't get it), but our junk mail load is minuscule compared to what we used to get. I also recently learned that my incredibly awesome father-in-law does this too, only he stuffs various other things into the envelope to add weight, making the companies spend even more money to get their crap back. Give it a shot! It works.

Oh, and P.S....some of my notes aren't always this nice. Like I said, Discover clearly doesn't get it.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Last night I remembered a conversation I'd had with Nabua a while back about old traditions and how people seem to have forgotten about how things used to be done. We as people are so anxious to find the quicker, easier (and nowadays, cheaper) method and we're forgetting more and more about doing things the old fashioned way. Tradition is so important, at least to me, and it makes me sad to think of all the things that will phase out of daily living as technology improves and people get lazier.

Nabua and I were talking about cooking at the time, but I guess the same can be said about everything from art and craft to business, farming, etc. After watching one of the Craft in America episodes on PBS, I realized that the single most important thing I absorbed was a comment made about forgotten trade. I can't recall for sure, but I'm pretty sure they were talking about blacksmithing. The episode focused on young men learning, from a very old and well known blacksmith, Philip Simmons, the traditional ways of bending iron. Today most factories do things by machine, taking the artist out of the picture completely. The young apprentices stressed the importance of learning traditional methods because if people stop using them, or, more importantly if people stop wanting to learn how to do things the old fashioned way, the old way will die out and the tradition will come to a dead halt. It's incredibly important that this never happens.

Nabua had talked quite a bit about the things she's learned from her mother and father, both of whom are no longer living. She encouraged me to learn as much as I can from the older generations, namely my grandmother, because once she's gone there will be no one to teach me the things that she knows. Even if they tried they could never teach me in the same way that only she can.

My grandmother taught me how to sew. She taught me a few dance moves. She taught me how to jump rope, the proper etiquette for sledding, how to flip your eyelids inside out, and the art of telling a dirty joke like a lady. She told me endless stories about my ancestors, always stressing the importance of family and history. And the one thing I've always wanted to learn from her but never have is her method for making pierogies. When Nabua stressed the importance of learning from my grandmother, pierogies were the first thing that popped into my head. That may seem incredibly corny to you, but no one makes pierogies like Gram can. When we lost Aunt Peg earlier this year and her son passed out a laminated copy of a photo tutorial of Aunt Peg making her famous apple pie, it dawned on me that Tommy was thinking the same thing I was...pass these traditions on so people will remember. I'll keep that recipe forever.

This post was originally supposed to be about Alton Brown. But as I was driving into work this morning and thinking about one particular Good Eats episode, I realized that this post wasn't just about Alton, it was about me, too. When I arrived at the shop, I called my grandmother up and made a date to come to her house and learn how to make pierogies. I plan to document the process like Tommy did with Aunt Peg's apple pie and pass it down the line when the time is right.

The Good Eats episode I planned to talk about today features Alton teaching us, the viewers, about biscuit making, both the old and new methods. Alton stood side by side in his kitchen with his grandmother, or Ma Mae, as he calls her, and demonstrates old tradition versus a new way of doing things. This episode really meant something to me, and I hope you'll enjoy it too! She seemed like a feisty woman, and Alton frequently mentions in interviews that the Ma Mae episodes were his favorite because it gave him the opportunity to learn from her before she passed away.

This is the second half of the episode featuring Ma Mae, but if you'd like to watch the first half too, go here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

so unbelievably proud!

We found out recently that our dear friend Dave was selected out of many, many entries to participate in an art exhibit in Thailand and we couldn't possibly be more proud! Such an amazing opportunity! Dave's wife, Kate, sent a link my way to a review of the show and an image of one of Dave's paintings is attached. Congrats, dude!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh, Augusten

He's done it again:

Haven't cracked it open yet, but this weekend...oh, it's on. I thank god for this man. I really, really do.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Who comes up with these things??? Either way, it makes my sushi eating experience all the more entertaining.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

yes, please!

Damn those VivaTerra people and their alluring catalogs. Just when I thought I was free from temptation, another one appears in my mailbox. I'll take one of each, please! Who can resist such amazing recycled/upcycled all-natural goodness?

I was surprised to see a decrease in the number of kitchen and dining tables in their catalog, but I'd love this one...from Etsy, of course!

Wouldn't everything listed here look amazing in my beach house???