Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Alice!

I've broken my resolution to watch less tv, but you already knew that. I'm watching just as much as I was, if not more, and I'm looking forward to nicer weather simply because I find myself outside more anyway.

That said, can I just tell you how absolutely elated I am that Showtime has decided to sign on for a second season of United States of Tara? Are you watching? It's my favorite show out now and I was worried about its longevity. Too many shows have been tossed aside and forgotten way too prematurely (Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, etc.) and I hoped that this wouldn't be one of them. An incredible cast (Toni Collette is just plain amazing and John Corbett is about as scrumptious as it gets), a soundtrack that never ceases to impress me, and a plot line that, at this point, could go anywhichway. Great stuff. Now if they could only increase the episode length from 30 minutes to an hour, I'd be one elated chick.

Even the opening credits are sweet:

Check it out if you haven't already. Netflix will have it available if soon, and I'm sure you can find it online, too. You'll thank yourself for it. I promise.
Oh, and P.S. I finished Twilight last night and unfortunately now I have to see the movie. Jo, take me back!!! Heh.

sleeve tuggin'

"i know the blog is neglected when a number of folk email to see if i’m ok."

Ella, over at Little Red Caboose couldn't have captured my thoughts any better. Okay, so once again I went too long between posts and got the all-too-familiar reminder e-mails. I'm sorry. I just needed a teeny break because I started feeling like I was going to lose my mind. Things are nuts!!!

Here's what's up:

1) A Taste of Troy was tons of fun. If you live in the area, you MUST go next year. I don't know what I expected of the night exactly, but it far exceeded my expectations. Nicely done. The food was phenomenal, and I was introduced to a few new places that I plan to try out sooner than later (psst...Badass Burrito, here I come). I won two season passes to a family fun park for the kids. And, I got a sweet chair massage from a day spa representative at the event. It was nice, yes, but it just makes me realize that my sister needs to get off her butt and get going on the massage again. She is, by far, the best massage therapist I've experienced yet, and I'm not just saying that because she's my sister. Get to work, Carly!!!

2) Troy Night Out was amazing. Probably the best one we've had yet, and that includes the first one. You remember the first one if you're a local friend of mine and you were here that night. Yeesh! This one was nuts and it's a good thing because it proves that people are out and about again, wearing lighter clothing and smiling! I almost forgot what smiling people looked like! I'm typing on my computer at the shop and I'm positioned right in front of the front door. People look so happy out there. The weather is gorgeous, we have our windows open, the bulbs in the front yard at home are blooming. Life is good.

Anyway, back to TNO. I managed to catch a nasty cold (I think at the Taste of Troy thing...a quick shout out and thanks to the woman who coughed all over me all night) and I was feeling like total poo, but I had to keep plugging along. The art show for Samaritan Hospital was a huge success with most of the work selling right off the walls. Nicely done!

3) Ben's amazingly awesome and extremely thoughtful boss bought Ben a brand spankin' new car! They headed out early on Saturday morning with a budget and a list of dealerships to visit, and within a few hours Ben had chosen a winner. He's now the proud owner of a Honda Fit, a car I never in a million years would have thought he'd choose, but it suits him. We picked it up yesterday. I managed to score his old (brand new) stereo system from his old car, and it far surpasses what I had, so I'm happy too!

4) I started reading Twilight. Ugh, I know. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I couldn't resist, and it took over my weekend completely. Not sure why I felt compelled to willingly absorb so much teen angst, but it's not a bad book. It's an easy read, but I don't know if I'll continue on with the rest of the series. I spent most of the weekend making my way through it and I'm going to finish it tonight.

Anyway, I broke cardinal rule #1 and did NOTHING creative this weekend. That might explain why I feel so funky today. I need to make something. I accomplished NOTHING for the Etsy shop, although I did test out the milk jug lightbox technique and it's pretty sweet! I didn't get a single stitch of house cleaning done this weekend. AND, I didn't work on my taxes like I promised myself I would. What did I do? I slept. A lot. And I read when I wasn't sleeping. But that's about it. I feel much better now and my weird bug is almost completely gone, so I think I was just run down and needed some rest. There's always next weekend. Besides, weekends spent at home are some of my favorites.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

kids and crafts

Every so often someone wanders into our shop looking for a bit of help with their charity or fundraiser. We get a lot of proposals, actually. I have to pick and choose lately because I'd go belly up if I contributed to all of them, although I'd like to.

Anyway, one of the more recent donations we've made was to the PS16 PTA here in Troy. Each year they host A Taste of Troy, something I'd heard about but never participated in. The restaurants in Troy get together and assemble their finest dishes for people to sample. For $15, you're contributing to a great cause and getting the chance to taste different items from different restaurants. Plus, you can enter the raffle to win the items everyone so graciously donated. My mom and I donated some jewelry and a handbag, and so we received tickets to the event compliments of PS16. I'm excited to go this evening, and I've brought my eatin' pants.

Things are nutso here lately. We're getting ready for this coming Troy Night Out (this Friday) and I'm still working on getting my Etsy shop put together. I set a deadline of last Saturday for myself to have the shop up and running, and needless to say, I missed the deadline. I'm still working feverishly on it, and I hope to have it up and running by early next week. I think it'll be mostly jewelry to start off with, but some sewn items will make their way, too, once I get my butt in gear. I can't seem to keep the sewn items stocked in the shop, so I'm just going to have to bolt myself to my machine and just crank out a ton of stuff for both shops. Wish me luck.

How are you crazy kids doing? I had a fun outing with Miss Lola over the weekend. Wanted to take her to Chuck E. Cheese for a few rides, but the place was a madhouse and Lola is NOT ready for rides...yet. She loved the merry-go-round, but screamed her head off on everything else. Soon enough. I'll have her on crazy roller coasters and thrill rides as soon as I possibly can. In the meantime, though, I'll just enjoy taking her out to dinner and out for a bit of shopping. That kid loves to shop.

Anyway, back to TNO, this month we're celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program for Samaritan Hospital with an art show. The folks organizing this celebration are the same people who organize the Walk A Mile event, and from what I've seen of the work coming into the gallery, it's going to be a great show! I love when people who wouldn't normally show their creative side get the chance to publicly display their artwork. If you're in the area, please stop in and check it out! Food and drink will be aplenty, as usual.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In one month...

One month from today (I'm not counting days or anything...heh) my ever-so-patient aunt Sandy and I will be making our way in my old, tired pickup to sunny Ithaca, NY. Our goal? To see Mr. Eric Bachmann play again. Yes, again. Words could never express how excited I am. Will I ever tire of seeing this man play live? Negatory.

happy days are here again...

....because Spring has finally (finally!) arrived! Hooray! My bulbs are peeking out in the beds in front of the house and soon we'll have crocuses, tulips and daffodils. And then, shortly after their arrival, we'll have lilacs. Oh, sweet, heavenly scented lilacs. There's nothing in this world that can change my mood like Spring can. Thank goodness it's here.

On a totally different note, I'd like to share a little something with you in hopes that you'll share it with your favorite retailers. Sandra from The Spinning Seed here in Troy sent me this link this morning and I think it's a fantastic idea. I'm going to give it a shot here at the shop, and the small handouts are printing as I type this. It doesn't necessarily work for online shopping, unfortunately, but if you know of any little brick and mortar shops in need of some business, bring this to their attention. We can all use a little extra money circulating in our home towns and who doesn't love to support local business?

Let me know what you think of this campaign, and if you know of anyone already using it, I'm very interested in hearing about what kind of impact it might be having in your area.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson

I haven't stopped thinking about this woman and her family since I first heard about the accident. An amazing actress and a lovely, gracious person. So sad.

colors of now

While others have fallen through my fingers, some of my new year's resolutions are still intact. The biggest one is healthy eating. We, as a household, have been keeping focused on fresh, locally grown foods and trying our best to balance our meals as best we can. We've ditched the take-out menus (actually, I can't remember the last time we ordered out...the folks at the pizza and Chinese places must think we've gone and died or something) and cook at home instead. It saves us a ton of money, which is good because we're both shedding the pounds and we'll need that money to buy new clothes. Ben's been helping out in the kitchen quite a bit and it brings me such joy. I love sharing the responsibilities of the culinary world, not because I don't want to do it myself, but because I think sitting down to a meal that we've both added our own touches to just makes everything all the more worthwhile.

One thing we've been really loving lately is fresh fish. Unfortunately, fish is the only meat out there we can't get at our local farmer's market. Why is that, I wonder. Is this a common thing with farmers markets, or is it just an issue we're having here? Who knows. I've eaten plenty of fish in my day, but preparing it is another story. Stressing out over proper cooking temperatures, times and conditions isn't something I necessarily want to deal with, so we just wing it. I don't know about you, but I love fish cooked on the grill. Slap some tuna steaks down on those hot racks and you've got pure gold waiting to be consumed. Last night we indulged in fresh Mahi-Mahi steamed in a nice foil packet and garnished with peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes and basic spices. No butter. No oil. Just pure deliciousness. And hey, no dishes to wash!!! Steam and saute up some nice zucchini and onions, and a pot of purple cauliflower served on the side and you've got a meal fit for a king.

The ease of doing this ourselves, combined with the lack of a mountain of dishes, means we've got time to do what we love to do, rather than rotting in a food coma after a trough of Lo Mein. Ben's spending his spare time working on a drawing for my avatar in the new Etsy shop and I'm keeping busy making inventory. Soon enough, I'll be open for business.

Have any pointers for me? The crazy Etsy world is a big place, I know.

Oh, and if you have any good recipes or suggestions for healthy eating, I'm all ears! We're enjoying this more than I thought.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Okay, so I'm a bad shot

Let me start this post off by saying that shooting guns is fun.

Really, really fun.

As in, I would do it regularly if I had the chance.

I'm not the greatest shot, that's for sure, but I did hit the backboard where the target was located, so that's saying something, right? Here's what I mean:
Not too bad, but I'm disappointed that I didn't do better. Maybe next time. Ben, on the other hand, hit the target with every shot and I was impressed. He showed me up! Oh, and no pictures of me with a gun, sorry. Ben offered but I declined because I worried about looking like a total ass. Again, maybe next time.

My weekend was overwhelming, but great. I had something to do on Saturday, Sunday AND Monday. Spending time with the in-laws is always a great time. Diana, my mother-in-law, sent me packing with a ton of loot that made me feel like I had just celebrated Christmas. A giant box of fabric, two huge containers of old buttons, yards and yards of lace and trims, quilting magazines...the list goes on and on. I'm a lucky gal.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

pick off

It looks like we're in for a beautiful weekend! What are your plans? I came into the shop this morning and the sun was shining so sweetly through the window. I got a bit overzealous a few weeks ago and switched the window display over from winter/Valentine's day to spring. Okay, so yes, I'm one of those obsessive people who takes the holiday decorations down the day after the holiday itself. Actually, I took the Valentine display down ON Valentine's day this year. Whatever. I'm anxious for spring. I guess I thought I could at least hurry it along in my own shop.

I've got all sorts of ideas and plans sloshing around in my brain lately. I'm in the process of opening an Etsy shop, although, I worry that I might wind up regretting it. Getting inventory ready for that is fun, let me tell you. I think it will pay off in the long run. I've got a lot going on over the course of the next three days so we'll see how quickly I can get that up and running.

I've been keeping a mental list for years now of the things I'd love to do before I die. There are a lot of super outrageous things that will probably never happen, and a lot more that can easily happen...as long as I get off my lazy butt and snap to it. I'm about to check one of those things off my list tomorrow. I've never fired a gun in my entire life and it's KILLING ME!!! I'm intrigued! My father in law has so graciously offered to give me my first lesson on the farm (why pay for time at a firing range when we can just head up into the Adirondacks instead) this weekend and I'm so excited about it I could scream! So, of course now I'm completely obsessed, frantically waiting for tomorrow to arrive. I want to know all of it. I want to know the A to Z on guns...how they're made, how they work, the do's and don'ts, gun safety, etc. I don't own a gun. I don't plan to own a gun. But I'd love to feel that power and kick in my hands. Have you done this? I'd love to hear your stories if you have any. I'll try to take some pictures and show you how everything went.

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

for the dogs

Someone contacted me from the Friends of Beman Park Association today about donating a gift certificate or an item for their raffle and fundraiser. The association is trying to raise money for a dog park near Samaritan Hospital, and I couldn't be happier about it. I've been hoping for a dog park for quite some time now (Olive needs friends), and if I had more free time I'd work my hardest on opening one even closer to our home.

For now, though, I'm more than happy to contribute to their cause, and as soon as I promised them an item to raffle off I started working. I know these bird connectors are all over the place and they've spread over Etsy like a bad cold, but I love them. And as far as I'm concerned you can never have enough bird jewelry. If you'd like to donate to the association, please contact them at fo.beman.park@gmail.com. The raffle and bake sale will take place on March 27th at 258 Broadway (the old Shake Shake Mama's) during this month's Troy Night Out festivities. Stop in either with or without your dog and grab up some baked goods for you and your best canine friends, and buy a ticket to win my necklace! My mom's donating a gorgeous turquoise bracelet and some baked goods (for people and dogs), too. Woo hoo!

P.S. Dogs are always welcome at The Paper Sparrow. In fact, I encourage it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two new favorites...

Okay, so as of yesterday I have two new things to add to the list of favorites in my life.

1) These damn skirts. I cranked three out in a matter of about a half hour yesterday, and I'm itching to make more. NEED. MORE. FABRIC. This may become an obsession. They're fun, they're easy, they're adorable and heck, they're even comfy. I really enjoyed your comments after yesterday's post. I'm glad to know that so many of you don't consider yourselves girly. I find a lot of comfort in that. I'm also glad to know that there's a whole other category in between girly and total tomboy. And that, my friends, is where we fit.

I wanted to wear one of the skirts today, but despite the 48 degree temperature potential, it's pouring rain and chilly. Not skirt friendly weather, unfortunately. So, I brought them back to work, put them on hangers and took a few pictures of the finished product. What do you think?

Oh, and I'd love to hear all about it if you decided to make one (or several) of these for yourself.

2) Penelope. No, not Penelope Cruz, as Google thought I was referring to when I went searching for images for this post. Yuck. I'm talking about Penelope the movie, one of the sweetest films I've seen in a long time. It's a fairy tale, so if you're not into that sort of thing you might want to skip it. But if you're like me and you enjoy escaping reality as often as possible, this is definitely for you. I've always found Christina Ricci a bit, uh, odd, I guess, but she was so great in this I couldn't believe it. Even Reese Witherspoon was great! Plus, James McAvoy is in it, too, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. Scrumptious.

Anyway, the person who designed the sets for this movie deserves a huge medal. Amazing stuff. I wanted to move all of my crap into Penelope's bedroom and never leave.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I think there may be a girl in here afterall.

I've always prided myself on not being a girl.

Yes, you read that right, on NOT being a girl.

I'm plenty female, yes, but not girly. Not one little bit.

In fact, I've always been suspicious of girly girls all through my life (in many ways), but that's another post completely. Anyway, lately I've been itching for Spring, as you already know, and with that itch comes the overwhelming need for lighter clothing. Late last summer I started wearing skirts. I know, right? Skirts. I'm struggling to get past my pasty white Irish girl legs and just set them free when the weather agrees, and recently I've decided to start making my own skirts instead of buying them. I'm not much of a seamstress, and clothing has never been my strongsuit. The skirts I've made in the past have been worn strictly around the house, but never out in public. I worry that they'll look too handmade or sloppy, and more importantly, not appropriate for work, so I limited the wear to bumming-around-the-house attire only. That changed during last month's Troy Night Out, though, when I broke out of my safety zone and wore one of my handmade skirts to work. I received so many compliments on that particular skirt that I decided I must be doing something right.

So, Ben and I ventured out to the fabric store last night and I bought some material specifically for skirt-making (3 skirts to be exact). I've finished one and have the other two cut out and ready to be sewn together using this tutorial. If you're a beginner in the wide world of sewing, or if you know your stuff and need a simple pattern for making skirts of your own, give this pattern a shot. Super easy, totally customizable, and the finished product is adorable! I snagged some sweet little trims at the store, too, and I'll be adding them to the hems of the two unfinished skirts (you can see the black trim on the white skirt).
I think I'm in love.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Old friends, big talent

So, just like Troy has its gathering once a month (Troy Night Out), Albany has theirs on the first Friday of every month. I've never attended a First Friday event yet, but I'm about to. Tonight, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mr. David P. Geurin, will exhibit his paintings at the Wine Bar & Bistro, 200 Lark Street, Albany. Head on into Albany and check it out! Seems like it'll be a great time! Dave's making quite a name for himself, eh? He's all over the place!
I'd just like to add here that Dave doesn't normally wear women's shoes. A cross dresser he's not. But he is a great sport and participated in last year's Walk a Mile event. I can't remember who took this photo, so I can't take credit for it, but I think maybe Kate took it. It's one of my favorite shots of Dave.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ummmm, yeah...

...so, am I the last one to know about this masterpiece?

Just got the new issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine and this book was mentioned in the editor's letter. I almost keeled over. Ben's first response was "How much is this going to cost us?"

Heh. He knows me too well.

Monday, March 2, 2009

spring ache

I'm thinking about spring lately. A lot. This snowstorm that rolled through the northeast didn't help matters. Warmer days will be here soon enough, I know, but you can certainly tell where my thoughts were today while making two new necklaces.