Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Happy Columbus Day! I mean... well, our Thanksgiving always involves Pittsburgh and Columbus, and lots of beloved people. It is always a true reason to give thanks. May your holiday be full of family, blood and otherwise!

p.s. That gorgeous hand-knit in the picture is my friend Laura's doing.

p.p.s. Below, a video of some turkey-roasting hijinks from last year's holiday. I couldn't resist posting this, mainly because I still don't know quite what to make of it. I give you... Turkey Cord 2011! Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


When I lived in Madison, my favorite dinner was bread and olive oil. There was a restaurant called "Greenbush Bar," under the Italian Workman's Club on Regent Street. Low lights, candles, and a regularly-changing scotch and wine menu. We couldn't stay away. The staff treated us with decency, giving us tastes of new things when we were skeptical, even though we were obviously twenty-somethings with barely enough money to make rent. Their food was basic and delicious. Addictive. One famously creamy linguini had flakes of smoked trout and a high lemon flair. My custom was to agonize over the menu until I finally ordered a small salad and a loaf of the white peasant bread they baked in house. The olive oil came on a little white plate, and a shaker of parmesan sat on every table. Mound the cheese in the center of the pool, swipe the bread into the mouth. Repeat until you need a new loaf. It was the best, most divine, most devastating comfort food I've ever obsessed about, and I just recreated it by accident. Here's the recipe: a Sweet Batard from Acme Bread Company, Spectrum Organic Mediterranean Olive Oil, and shredded Asiago in bulk from my beloved Co-op. That combo will set you back a bit more than a nightcap at Greenbush, but the olive oil is a proper investment. It's drinkable, and holds up to high heat. xox

Thursday, November 8, 2012

•it's beginning to look a lot like giftwrap•

Winter is coming, the goose is getting fat. Rather than put my penny in the man's hat, let me introduce you to No New Christmas. Particularly, the rules.

No New Christmas was an effort by my family, put forth a few years back, to gift things of a recycled, made, or otherwise stridently not-purchased variety. When I say family, I mean Troy and myself. It was easy when we began, to include Penn in the fold. At two, he didn't have much of an opinion about NITB vs. No New. That's all different this year, as Lego has tightened its grip. Troy and I have been avoiding the topic. To No New, or not to No New? That is a different blog post.

I've never actually set about creating guidelines for NNX (sounds like a boy band), but I'm inspired by the recent ferver (my own) for advent calendars. You've seen these things–they number one through twenty-five, they help you while away the days until Christmas, they usually involve the popping out of wax figurines that taste sort of like chocolate. I started making a tiny-art shadow-box version last year, then abandoned it for baby socks. Until I get pictures, don't ask. (Ask Pinterest.) Lego has an advent calendar. There is now a Whisky advent calendar, recently admired by Huffington Post. Which brings me back to NNX (No New Christmas): could you D-I-Y a booze advent calendar? Could you keep it NNX? Perhaps. It all depends on the rules I am about. to. set. forth. Right here:

How To Achieve No New Christmas 
(or #howialienatedeveryone)

1) Use these guidelines to help shape your gift-giving season, not everyone else's. Be a good sport, and always be gracious when receiving any gift. From anyone. See Rules #7-8.

2) Gifts must be recycled, reused, repurposed or hand-made.

3) Consumerism is not the enemy–waste is. Feel free to buy something recycled, reused, or repurposed. Feel free to buy something hand-made by someone else. But before you wander into the gray with a plastic-wrapped bar of soap from some small company in Vermont, ask yourself. Is it really No New? (See Rule #8 for wiggle room.) A human hand may have, at some point, touched a set of Legos. Doesn't count. (She said to no one's husband in particular.)

4) Hand-made gifts can incorporate new purchases of ingredients. We need food to live. Seems like it should get a pass. Also, I don't want to be the one to begrudge you your peppermint bark. (She said, hoping her friend would read this post and made that flipping peppermint bark again.) Finally, it's unwise to recycle chocolate.

5) Gift Wrap must conform to Rule #2. But see Secret Rule #10.

6) Stockings must conform to Rule #2.

7) Service Gifts must... these are tricky. Are massages new or made? How about that wine-and-cheese-of-the-month-club? This is a wild card rule. Totally your call, whether or not that heifer is new. (Spoiler alert: you actually get to decide on all of these. It's Choose-Your-Own-Advent, and you're winning!)

8) Bonus Rule: when one of your gifts is made entirely of repurposed/recycled/reimagined items that you did not have to go out and purchase, you gain a little wiggle room. For other items, like the Death Star 10188.

9) Since there is no zero-waste alternative, I hereby sanction use of the USPS.

Secret Rule #10) Gift wrap you purchased at 90% off last year totally counts as NNX. xox

November 19, 2012 update! I finished my sock advent calendar. It was actually as much fun, start to finish, and it looked and sounded. I did manage to get some no-new Legos in there, as well. (Thank goodness for teen-aged neighbors!)

I've always loved Boxing Day. And the absence of the need to do anything on the day after Giftmas. The day deserves its own compartment and surprise.

One Snowy Day gave its life for this advent calendar. All beat-up, beyond-repair books should go to such fine resting places! xox

Thursday, November 1, 2012

•every so often•

I think, I'm doing it. The sun breaks through the clouds, the pavement shines with promise. It's a good feeling. xox
Penn's "habitat."

"Can I sleep in my habitat?"