Super-simple instructions here at MarthaStewart.com I've got to dig up my early work!
I love the poetry of Poland: Czeslaw Milosz, (and his eyesbrows;) Wislawa Szymborska and Tadeusz Rozewicz. And so, I'm really excited about a new translation of Jerzy Pilch's A Thousand Peaceful Cities, by David Frick. The book is a story of a boy's coming of age during the Occupation. It's about Love, Politics, Religion, and Drinking. Open Letter Books shared a pre-release excerpt - I've already purchased two copies. I love this visual narrative:
"The parchment map of the sky slowly took on life. Streams of deep blue air flowed across it. Golden sand poured from the planets. Within the large constellations you could hear music. I awoke in the middle of the night, and in the dark, gropingly, I recorded in my notebook the word “occupation,” which in a moment someone would whisper in the depths of the sleeping house.
In those days I never parted for a moment with my pencil and notebook. The desire, stronger than anything else, to record words and sentences that had just been or would in a moment be uttered, directed my every step, waking and sleeping. I would place the notebook and pencil on the nightstand, and when the golden-black grandfather clock in the entryway rang out the most terrible of hours, two or three in the morning, when the Antichrist himself touched my featherbed with a wet wing, when during every season of the year an infernal silence reigned, I would reach for notebook and pencil and record the word or sentence that brought relief. “Ocupation,” I wrote, but I didn’t feel relief or consolation. From the kitchen came noises unusual for that hour. Someone was moving a chair. Someone knocked delicately, probably at the window, since the panes rattled. Someone said something. Somebody answered. I lit the lamp, and Mr. Trąba’s voice became more distinct, as if intensified by the light. To this day I am absolutely certain that, throughout my entire childhood, I was awakened from sleep either by Mr. Trąba’s voice, or by the sound of the Wittenberg bells in the church tower.
A few minutes before six in the morning, Sexton Messerschmidt would climb the wooden steps, and in the gray dawn of the fall, in the winter darkness, or with the summer radiance piercing the shutters, the cast-iron caps would begin to move more and more forcefully. In the morning, the sound of the bells was delicate like the slowly rising eyelid of a Lutheran confirmation-class girl. At noon, it possessed the fullness of the fire roaring under Evangelical stovetops. And at twilight, it was mannerly and pliable like the mixed forests on Buffalo Mountain."
Several years ago I watched a documentary on PBS about the failed Antarctic voyage of Shackleton and his crew. I was trapped in a hotel room, on a business trip, and I was kind of depressed. I hadn't heard of Shackleton, I knew nothing of the Endurance, and I was transfixed by the surviving images and video collected by Frank Hurley.
I have always remembered something from the documentary that was said, almost in passing. A mention that Shackleton's mother had banned fairy tales from the home when he was growing up. She believed that the tropes reproduced in those stories - of perfect love, happily ever after - ruined the lives of young, impressionable readers who would then spend eternity searching for that idyllic, unattainable state.
It's interesting to think about, given that hope and possibility had to be two of the drivers that made Shackleton cross miles of freezing water and ice in search of help. And hope and possibility that kept the 28 member crew alive while they waited months, not knowing if Shackleton would ever return to save them.
When was the last time you changed the needle on your sewing machine? I'm guessing that mostly people only change the needle if it breaks. I'm guessing that my sister, who uses my Mom's 1960's nightmare Singer, has *never* changed the needle. I'm guessing that my Mom never changed the needle either.
If you have a newer machine, chances are they provided a small envelope of needles, each with a different color tip. Some brands might use a letter, like Q for Quilting, and some might have a number. Find your machine's manual and look up what it has to say about needles - your machine's needle system will never change, so get to know what makes your machine happy! (If you can't find your manual, this chart may be helpful for you to look at.)*
And you will be much happier with your machine and your sewing if you choose the right needle for the task. Use the wrong one and you could wind up pretty frustrated with your project. For general sewing, the best place to start is, again, your machine's manual. It will tell you which needle works best for the weight of the fabric you are working with.
I made this little needle keeper out of a fabric scrap and some quilt batting and I keep it close to my machine. Once you've changed the needle a few times, it's really not a big deal - so long as you can find your needles close by!
Even if you stick to sewing fabrics of similar weight, it's important to change the needle from time-to-time to keep it straight and sharp. I like to think of the needle as the "underwear of the sewing machine." You really want to put a fresh one on about every eight hours of sewing.
* I have two machines, and their parts are not simpatico. I learned this the hard way, and had to make an expensive repair.
(with thanks to @skoski, who found the poem.)
by Lucille Clifton
babylon Once a great city in Biblical times, see Psalms 137; also used as a dismissive term in western Black cultures for “anything to which the Black consciousness represents the degenerate or oppressive state of white culture” (OED)
I hesitated - vintage Ferragamo is for old ladies - but when I tried them on? They actually looked pretty cute. I'm not going to get all emotional and age-crazy on you, right now, going on and on about how I'm now old enough to wear old lady shoes. There are plenty of other posts on that theme in the "What's On My Mind" section, if you're in the mood.
Instead, I want to share some of my thrift store wisdom with you. Because I'm so good, that people follow me at Douglas Gardens to see what I'm putting in my cart. You think I'm joking, but I'm not.
Now, the first thing I want you to do is to put two fingers up and make the "peace" sign. Now turn those fingers and point them straight at your eyeballs. That's the way I want you to approach thrifting. Like a hawk, circling in on a kill.
Next. Start in your favorite section. For me? It's shoes. I love shoes. I scan the terrain like a hawk, to see what I can see. I look at every pair, in every size. Why?
Because people don't take things to thrift stores one item at a time. They take them in boxes and bags. . So my theory is, if you find one precious jewel, chances are that there are other items in the store that day that are worth searching for. When that happens, it's like a thrift detector antenna automatically extends itself from the top of my head, boop boop boop-ing until I lock and load on my treasure.
Por ejemplo, the day I found a pair of perfect, vintage 1950's pumps, I also found four perfect, vintage 1950's cashmere swing coats from glamour Chicago department store I. Magnin. Some woman dies, and her best clothing falls into the hands of someone who doesn't see its value. The things she loved, saved, and protected all of her years wound up in a thrift store in rural Montana. But it all works out o.k., because it was obviously God's plan that I give all these vintage coats a home. I think I have about 30 vintage coats in my collection.
Shop at regular department stores and know your brands. Today I saw worn t-shirts from Old Navy selling for $5. Why would I pay $5 for a used Old Navy T-shirt when I can get a brand new one for $5? A pair of wool Nanette Lepore trousers in perfect condition? Worth $6. A blue silk blouse by Worthington? Nope. Worthington is JC Penney. Not worth $9 to me.
Know your fabrics. I can identify cashmere just by looking at it, can you?
Don't be afraid to buy something for "re-purpose" purposes. A friend bought a great suit jacket just for it's vintage bakelite buttons. Today I found a gorgeous men's Scottish cashmere sweater with a tiny hole in it. I don't care about the hole because I'm going to use the cashmere. I plan to make myself a gorgeous "Origami" wrap from this free pattern that I saw on Creative Kismet.
Before you check out, go through your cart and sort it again. Is it rare? Do you have a place in your house or an immediate purpose for the item? If you leave it here, and it's gone tomorrow, will you regret not buying it? If it's clothing, does it fit you? Will you wear it? If you won't wear it, is it worth keeping as a 'museum' piece? If not? Put it back.
What's your best thrift score of all time?
Coyote. I love his natural "camo!"
M. upgraded my digital camera at Christmas, but this was the first weekend I've really had time to play with it. I'm shooting with a Panasonic Lumix FZ35 - 12 megapixels and 18x zoom.
We took a long walk in fresh snow this afternoon - and there was nature. The heron shot is amazing - he did me a favor by standing like a statue until I got my stuff together.
At the beginning of this year, I started keeping a food journal over at livestrong.com A very handy platform for the internet obsessed. I exercise regularly, and actually work pretty hard at both cardio and strength training, but I never lose much weight.
"They" tell you that your metabolism slows down after menopause - I've read that women burn 500 calories less each month after the change. Let me tell you - it's really more like 500 calories less each day. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I'm strong and healthy, but I still want to see my muscles, know what I'm saying?
So, I bit the bullet, got on a scale, and set a goal of 1500 (net) calories each day, with a maximum of 150 grams of carbohydrates. (This was the carb/calorie goal my doctor set for me two years ago so I just went back to it.) I continued with exercise program and hoped for the best.
After one month? I haven't lost hardly anything. But I've learned an incredible amount by keeping a food journal:
- I have inappropriate feelings for Lance Armstrong. He's the last, shirtless, thing I see when I log in my calories at the end of the day, and, well...I've decided to break up with him and take my food and fitness journal over to dailyburn.com
- I need to take my medicines. My doctor prescribes a diuretic and a pill for the insulin resistance that was brought on by an ovarian condition I have. Taking the ovaries out didn't take the problem away, even if I wanted to imagine it was so. Within two days of taking my medicines, I noticed my heart rate dropped twenty bpm during workouts, and I was two pounds lighter.
- Most days, I don't eat enough and I very rarely feel like eating. On average, I finish the day on about 800 calories, and about half of that comes from the milk I put in my coffee.
I could see the 'not eating' pattern right away in the journal, and so I spent the rest of the month thinking about the drivers.
- I hate my food. I don't want to eat the foods, namely meat, that keep me within the carbohydrate guidelines I'm supposed to follow. Chicken breast is healthy, but when I bite into it, I'm thinking, "I'm eating a bird! I'm eating a bird!!" Eggs make me sick. Cheese I can do, but then...large amounts of cheese aren't really very healthy. I don't want anything processed (but I don't want to make anything, either. See below.) Watching Food, Inc. did not help at all.
- In a city, I could figure this out with vegetables. But the selection in my rural grocery store is pitiful. Pitiful. There is a sign above the door that says, "Welcome to Freshness"; my sister and I laugh because everything in there is pretty old and pretty expensive. (The only exceptions are the red meat and the wine.) I play a little game with the manager and turn all the past-due expiration dates to where everyone can see them. The closest decent grocery is a forty minute drive from my house. There are no CSA boxes, salad bars, healthy prepared soups, salads, or entrees at a local whole foods market. Zero convenience.This is hard on me, after years in Scotland where I could buy wonderful produce one block from my door.
- Planning meals is really important - for keeping a healthy diet and organizing my drive time to grocery stores. But when it comes down to it, I feel like everything relies on me - planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, exercising, plus just doing my job. And planning and preparing meals when the store is far away and you can't rely on ingredients being fresh or available is a whole different ballgame. Forget organic. Two weeks ago, I couldn't even find a grapefruit for a Moroccan salad I wanted to make. So, the only things I feel like I can drop are the "taking care of me"-type activities. And that's a whole different therapy moment in and of itself. How did that happen? I was never that way when I was single. It's crazy.
- And so, I wind up making up the calorie deficit with whatever is at hand. I say yes to eating at restaurants that serve sh*tty food I really don't enjoy, just because I don't have to cook. I make things with ingredients I have on hand, namely dry staples, often cookies. And the process of baking is something I really enjoy. And then I balance that out with some cottage cheese, maybe a protein shake, and a spinach salad. It's not good.And it's a kind of stress eating. The days my husband was stressed out, or my work wasn't going very well, the desire to eat chocolate was overwhelming.
I had a chance to catch up with an old friend HW last month, and she's lost 70-some pounds since the last time we saw one another. Naturally, we wound up talking about food, and how easy it is for women to decide not to care for themselves when there are so many other pressing family needs.
HW asked me a question, "If you knew you were going to die in a month, that your weight or health issues didn't matter, what would you eat? Would it really be 30 days of ice cream? Or would it be a wonderful dish you once had in France? A soup made from scratch? Focus on taste. Enjoying your food. See how you can bring that experience into your every day."
And that's where I'm at. Trying to sort out what it is I do enjoy, putting taste and the threat of death in 30 days as my criteria. One day, it was a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. But I've been surprised how many other things have satisfied my deep hunger. Last week? A pumpkin-lemongrass soup. Last night, it was a roasted beet and arugula salad.
If you were going to die in a month, what would you eat?