Comfort Foods and Grandmas

By Lia

Had to give some love to this amazing photo essay from Fast Company’s Co. Exist blog, which photographs grandmothers from around the world with their most comforting dish. Grandmas and comfort food? Those are two of mine and Erin’s most favorite things!

I especially love the gorgeous way they lay out the two photos – first of all the ingredients and the grandma, and then side-by-side that with the finished dish.  Even though some of them – hello, iguana! – aren’t necessarily comforting to me, personally. To each their own!

But very clever and gorgeous at the same time.

Image courtesy of Fast Company

 

Image courtesy of Fast Company

Lucky Number 13

By Lia

First and foremost, we apologize for having to take a hiatus at the end of 2012. As most of you know, Erin had the most perfect baby girl in the history of mankind (second only to my own niece, of course) and has had her hands full ever since.  I’ve had an insane amount of work and personal stuff to deal with, which left absolutely zero time for crafting, cooking or anything that didn’t involve taking care of those things. It made for a pretty hectic last few weeks of the year, and something had to give. Unfortunately, it was this blog.

But with the start of the New Year, we are back!  As we have done the last few years, we wanted to write down our New Year’s resolutions in the hopes it keeps us honest.

For me, 2012 was a year of very high highs and very low lows. I think my biggest realization was turning 32 and realizing for the first time, that no, the clock isn’t going backward. Never has the time been more ripe to make every single moment count. My second biggest surprise was the huge impact of seemingly small decisions.  I’ve always been a very “this will make sense in hindsight” type of person — and that was proven to me so many times in 2012. So it is in the spirit of those two things that I’ve compiled the following list of resolutions.

1.) Get out of credit card debt. I made absolutely HUGE strides in this in 2012, getting more than $10k worth of debt down to almost nothing. Then, I had a few tough breaks and am back up to about $5k.  Through good fiscal decisions, there is absolutely no reason I shouldn’t be able to get rid of this debt by June. Then, I can double down on pesky student loans, which are significant, but have interest rates that are laughable when compared to my credit cards.

2.) Finish.That.Book. In 2012, I gained my confidence as a writer, not only through this blog but by writing for other sites including The Hairpin and The Gloss. The reaction to those pieces from their readers, as well as my own friends and family has been nothing short of amazing to see and hear. It’s finally proven to me that there just may be an audience for me afterall.  Writing a book is all I have ever wanted to truly do. The only real item I’ve ever had on my bucket list. There is no reason I shouldn’t be able to do this.

3.) Stop cursing. Omg, I curse so much in my day to day and I don’t know why. I need to stop. It’s okay sometimes. But not constantly like I feel like I’m doing. Especially when strangers are around. Just doesn’t give the right impression.

4.) Put at least $10,000 in my savings. I spent the past weekend with two of my very best friends – one who is a successful small business owner, and the other who has, like, eight different degrees in accounting, tax and finance. Both are ridiculously smart and were talking about all sorts of finance topics that largely go over my head – like the fiscal cliff and the pros/cons of capital gains taxes. It was all I could do to keep up. But as I listened to them debate, my mind inevitably drifted, and I got to thinking about how it’s probably not okay that I’ve been working for ten years and have a savings account the size of the one I do. If I ever want to retire, I’ve got to get serious about my finances. That includes not just getting out of debt, but saving for my future.

5.) Complete six half marathons. I ran the NYC marathon in 2010 and it was the most rewarding experiences of my life. Vowing to keep up the running, I ran one half marathon in 2011…and then stopped running all together. But I loved running! I loved the free T-shirts, the sense of camraderie, the fact that when you are running you literally cannot do anything else until you are done. So I took the first step by signing up for the Austin half marathon in February and am going to put a few more on the docket to keep me honest. I have learned that I need to run for a goal. There are worse things in life than to wake up early on a Saturday morning and take a nice long run.

6.) Learn to say what I want. I think one of the very, very, VERY best things about entering your 30s is this switch that totally flips and suddenly you have absolutely no tolerance for being pushed around by anyone. Boss acting annoying? Tell them. Have a bad friend in your life? Cut them off.  I am a nice person and I hate confrontation, and more often than not, I opt for staying quiet rather than speaking up because that’s just easier. But no more. The most stressful things about the last few weeks of the last year have stemmed from me not saying something when I should have. It may not be the easiest route to take at the time, but it makes your life infinitely easier. #YOLO, you know?

So that’s it for me. If I can do even half of these things in 2013, I’ll be in good shape, indeed.

Hope everyone out there enjoys a very happy, healthy New Year and has kicked off 2013 right! Looking forward to getting back in the blogging swing….

To Lifelong Friendships and Life Itself

By Lia

I met Kara when we were in the 7th grade. I was at my third new school in as many years, and when my family finally landed in Boca Raton, Florida, I was a shy 13-year-old who just wanted some friends and to fit in. (My sixth grade experience, where everyone returned from summer vacation having gone through puberty except yours truly, resulted in a year with approximately two friends and a lot of time spent reading books.)

Early on in the school year, I tried out for the soccer team. I was blown away by Kara – who was so incredibly skilled, so above and beyond everyone else, that you couldn’t take your eyes off of her. I wanted to be her friend so badly. And when I made the team, pretty soon, we were.

Through high school, the bonds of friendship only got stronger. Varsity soccer as freshman. First crushes. Sleepovers. Our first high school parties. Driving to UF to visit her sister for our first college visit.  Some of the happiest and most care-free times of my life were spent with Kara, at her house, with her family, and with our friends — which made the call that she had cancer one of the very most devastating calls I’ve ever received in my life.

To know why it hurt so bad to learn that Kara, of all people, had cancer means knowing a bit more about Kara herself. Nevermind the fact that she’s only 31 years old. But first, Kara is one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever met in my life.  She eventually played D1 soccer for UF, but she was a star long before that. Throughout high school, as this became more and more apparent and as she got better and better, her reputation began to precede her. When we played, Kara was marked. She would be kicked, punched, tripped – you name it, girls tried to take her down one way or another. But never once – in fact, I  got in more trouble for fighting on her behalf – did I ever see Kara lose her temper, raise her voice or do anything but jump up, dust herself off, and keep playing.

Two, that same attitude carries over into her life in general.  I can’t think of a single time, seriously not one, when I’ve seen Kara anything less than absolutely even. Completely and utterly even. She is the gentlest, most easy-going, most laidback person I have ever met in my  entire life. And going on 18 years of friendship, that is saying something.

Three, there is not a person who meets Kara who doesn’t walk away saying to themselves what an amazing person she is.  Everyone who meets her implicitly understands they have met a wonderful, interesting, intelligent woman. Who is up for anything. Who will laugh at  everything. Who will do the wackiest thing if you suggest it, without blinking an eye. I could call Kara right now and say, “let’s go to the moon and I need you to fly.” She would wait just a beat and say, alright. And she would also somehow know how to fly the rocket because she’s amazing and smart like that.

Fourth, but not least, Kara is in the same exact shape she was in when we were in 7th grade! I seriously can’t think of a healthier damn person. For all the abuse some people do to their bodies, it really made zero sense to me that Kara of all people would be struck unhealthy.

So when I heard the word cancer, that horrific word, I got so, so, so mad. Just devastated. Because if there one person on this Earth who does not deserve that, it is Kara. But by a weird twist of fate, our other best friend, Olivia, and I, had booked a trip to see her just three weeks following the announcement of her diagnosis, even though we haven’t been able to visit in the several years she’s lived in Colorado.  And once we got to Boulder one thing became very clear — if anyone could kick cancer’s ass, it was Kara. That same attitude – that I can do anything and I am going to do just that attitude – was going to carry her through. I knew it when I saw her inject herself with estrogen (as a precaution she was going to harvest her eggs) and then proceed to smoke Olivia and I on the slopes (though admittedly in my case, that’s not very hard.)

With the help of family, good friends, a good job, and an amazing boyfriend, Kara endured six months of hell. And in early August, when she wrote an email saying that the doctors could no longer find any trace of cancer in her system, my sad tears turned into happy ones. Because my beautiful, kind, amazing friend was given the second chance she shouldn’t ever have needed, but so richly deserved.

And when she invited some friends to come celebrate her being cancer-free two weekends ago, it was little wonder that nearly 20 people showed up for a three-day party.  We hiked. We rode horses. We went to a steak dinner where the owner of the restaurant was also a magician. We went to something that could only be described as an adult gymboree (more to come on the latter two fronts. it was amazing.) But the most important thing of the whole weekend was to see Kara so happy, so healthy, and so full of life.  In typical Kara fashion, you could barely even tell she had been sick at all.

I am so thankful – for so many reasons. That I got to be there. That this amazing person is my friend. For all the new friends I got to meet. But most of all that Kara is healthy. For the lesson that if you are very lucky, fate will sometimes give wonderful people a second chance to live their life the way they were absolutely meant to.

Reader Questions: Required Reading for Crafters, Part 1

Erin and I are often asked about the places where we find ideas, recipes and inspiration. We wanted to compile a list of the magazines and sites we read/see/visit that make it easy on us! Because we both hold down full-time jobs that go well beyond the hours of 9-5, we tend to frequent places that make finding inspiration easy.  Here are some of our favorites! We’ll share more next week!

- SouthernLiving: In my humble opinion, Southern Living provides readers some of the most beautiful ideas that are actually easy to execute! Their mix of high-end style on a low-end budget, coupled with the fact that they keep it simple – always just makes me happy. The magazine is one of the few I have delivered and their Website is also an excellent resource.

- Twice Lovely: These ladies are amazingly talented. Their never-ending creativity in terms of transforming worn down furniture into something fresh, modern and exciting is just amazing.  We’re so jealous of their talent!

- Real Simple: This is another go-to magazine/Web destination for us.  The title says it all: real. simple. When you’ve worked a 10-hour day and got in your required 30-45 minutes of exercise – the last thing you want to do is come home and get all complicated.  From recipes to decor ideas, the magazine gives you ideas you can actually execute in the precious little time you have.

- Craftzine: What’s your poision? Knitting? Sewing? Hot glue?  Whether you want great ideas for something you’re already good at, or looking to learn something you’re not-so-good at, this site has something for everyone.

- Style Me Pretty: With Erin getting married in just two months now – agghh! – she’s been calling me over to her desk more and more often to talk about the great ideas she finds on the site and how to customize them to her wedding.

- Garden Design: For Erin and I, the garden is like the unconquered frontier.  We both have tried and failed to grow gardens a number of times but recently discovered this site as a resource to stop the cycle. They offer all sorts of tips on different plants, tricks from experienced gardeners and other ideas which are helping demystify some of the things that have been plaguing us. (As in, how not to kill things.)

What are your favorite places to go for ideas?

Must Do: HipTix


See you tomorrow!

Several months ago, I happened across a link for a service called HipTix, in which the Roundabout Theater Company offers heavily discounted tickets to people under the age of 35 for some of their hottest shows.  I was extremely complemented by what they consider a youthful person to be, so of course, I signed right up.

After monitoring for several weeks, I can confirm that the discounts are indeed phenomenal and used today’s code to snag a ticket for just $10 to the show Brief Encounter! Can’t beat it! With Broadway tickets  running at least $60 (and often $100 or more) these kinds of deals must be taken advantage of – particularly by someone who loves live theater but reallllly had to be careful with such an expensive habit.

Sign yourself up for HipTix at www.hiptix.com.

Seeking a Craftier RSS

If I had all the time in the world, I would have no problem reading craft and design blogs all day, every day.  There are so many good ones, I find myself actually overwhelmed by them and don’t add them to my RSS for fear of not getting to them all rather than feeling guilty about it. (Here’s a good story on that idea…it comforted me to know I wasn’t alone!)

However, in taking a look at my Reader, I’m feeling like I need to get over it. Here is my current list – mostly built on recommendations offered through Google.

  • Craft (aka Craftzine)
  • Centsational Girl
  • Design*Sponge
  • How About Orange
  • Paper n Stitch
  • The DIY Diaries
  • Yanko Design
  • Make
  • MoCoLoco
  • Sew, Mama, Sew
  • Thrifty Decor Chick
  • Young House Love
  • The Big Picture
  • Better After
  • Core 77
  • Lifestyler
  • New Dress a Day
  • NOTCOT
  • Oh! Joy
  • Smitten Kitchen
  • The Purl Bee
  • Web Urbanist

I try to get to more than what’s on here directly, for example, friends like Ramshackle Glam and Gertie’s Guide to Better Sewing and staples like Apartment Therapy. Not to mention all of our Twitter friends — but what do you all read? Send any and all suggestions in the comments!

Rejoice! Domino Magazine is Back Online

Miss you, Domino.

Design addicts – weep for joy! AOL’s Shelter Pop reports that the Domino archives are now available at Brides.com. Check out the back story here.  Now if only we could convince them to come back for real!

In the meantime, can’t wait to browse the available articles and get inspired.

Must Read: New Dress a Day

Friend of Yay! DIY, Chad, brought this fabulous site to our attention yesterday (and ladies, he’s single…call him) – and a full 24 hours later we’re still in the throes of obsession.

Marisa of New Dress a Day turns muumuus into must-haves! (Images courtesy of New Dress a Day)

Los Angeles-based Marisa started “New Dress a Day” while in the midst of a creative funk.  Her mission?  Take her favorite hobby of scouring vintage stores for fabulous pieces to supplement her wardrobe and add one big twist:  forgo all regular shopping and instead, create a new dress every day based on these thrifty finds.  That means muumuus, nightgowns, oversized shirts, even pants – all get turned into fabulous pieces. And they are fabulous! And that’s not all – she’s limited herself to $365 for the entire project – so each outfit can only cost a buck!

Follow Marisa and her year-long adventure over at New Dress A Day!  And look out for a special “11 Questions for Crafty People” with Marisa soon. Personally, this is exactly the inspiration I needed to learn to use this sewing machine once and for all!

The Country Living Paintbrush

If only our bathrooms were this nice. We're going to need advertising to afford this one day.

Stumbling around the Internet for some design inspiration for my new apartment, I came across this handy tool from Country Living. Called the Country Living Paint Brush it allows you to experiment with paint colors and trims in various rooms of the house. It’s a pretty neat way to see what a certain color combo would look like (even though the rooms are way nicer my new Queens digs.) I wish they would let you upload photos of your own rooms to experiment, but maybe that will be in version 2.0.

Anywho, this is a really nice time waster – whether you have President’s Day off or not!

Don't Leave Those Leaves Next Fall

Photo via MondoGump.com, originally seen on TreeHugger.com. Original original? Leonardo da Vinci.

Today’s snow has us longing for fall, what with its cooler weather, pretty colors and cuter clothing. We’re also pretty pumped to gather up some leaves after seeing this!  For those of you out there with major artistic skills (I do not put myself in this category for the record), this is pretty incredible.

We spied this  new art form, called Leaf Carving on TreeHugger recently and though I’m sure I am sure I do not possess the artistic wherewithal to do it justice, it just looks so cool!

Perfected in China and practiced by the hands of skilled artisans, a knife is used to gently scrape away the delicate layers of fallen leaves all the way down to their transparent surfaces. Using what we’re guessing is equal parts patience and incredible skill, the artists tease amazing images from the leaves. A single leaf carving might take a month or more to complete.

Though we are in no means wishing for winter again while in the midst of the current one, once those leaves start dropping, rest assured we’re going to gather a few and give this a try. On a scale of one to impossible, we’ll guess this is beyond the higher side, but even a very simple image (like a heart) would be beautiful.