A Better Burp Cloth

Here are the new burp clothes, from inoffensive fabrics this time. Stars, moons, trucks and planes. And the baby boy they're waiting for hasn't arrived yet, so no time has been lost.


Sure, this guy doesn't look like he'd be too much trouble. But that smudge on his nose should have been a warning. No, that photo wasn't our cat after doing a turn as chimney sweep Dick Van Dyke in a remake of Mary Poppins. It was a result of him bumping up against our garden-level screen window, trying to battle with a neighborhood stray cat.

The other night, hours after Jason had fallen asleep on the couch, he was awoken by the ruckus made by our kitten (the now comparatively well-behaved, Piper) scampering up and down the hall, meowing loudly. She was sounding the alarm, Teedie had made an escape through the open window. The stray, whose neighborhood name we have learned is "Tito," came by and provoked Teedie to the point where he somehow managed to pop the screen out of the frame and give chase down the street.

Fortunately Jason heard Piper's alert, and followed our troublemaker. After cornering Teedie under a car, Jason coaxed him out and then gripped the reluctant, squirming escapee in his arms and brought him back home.

I slept through it all, and fortunately didn't hear about it until the morning when Teeds was at my feet waiting for me to refill his food bowl.

I'm very relieved we weren't making "Lost Cat" signs for the neighborhood telephone poles the following morning. The idea of a lost pet did make me think of this Sesame Street classic. Walking home from the train station a night later I saw a sign for a lost cat, a tabby with only three legs. (Breaks your heart!) But if a three-legged cat can get away, I can only imagine how far our four-legged fellow might have roamed.

Beach & Brunch

A gorgeous Chicago weekend, perfect for going to the beach and having brunch with girlfriends on the balcony.

No photos of the beach, likely for the better since I came home with sand everywhere, in my bag, in the pages of my magazine. (I've already broken my camera once!) But here's a few of brunch preparations.
We enjoyed quiche with homemade wholewheat crust, spinach, feta, mozzarella and turkey bacon, made by a friend. I made silver dollar pancakes with toasted almonds and blueberry. A teaspoon of almond extract added to the pancake mix which gave a light, tasty nuance. Fruit salad and potatoes filled out our plates.

After receiving about four bottles of champagne for our housewarming party in April, the mission of the brunch was to drink mimosas too. (When you tell people that you like champagne, they respond!) We agreed to brunch again, since there are still a few bottles of champagne left. (Which will give me an opportunity to make the breakfast casserole recipe I asked Jason's mother for earlier this week!)

How does the weekend disappear so quickly?

The Heroine of Your Own Story

This photo from Heather Bullard popped up on a blog (Great Full Day) I check in on every once in a while, and it keenly brought to mind a childhood memory of the dress up clothes stored on the third floor of our home. Growing up, Juliet and I might put on the safari pith helmet and petticoats and imagine ourselves to be other people, Marie Antoinette or boxcar children.

This is the gift that I am waiting to put together for little girls: a dress-up wardrobe. Petticoats, pith helmets, plastic swords, floppy hats, feather boas, and high heels. Probably a lot of it might be the wacky things you can find second-hand at the Salvation Army: crazy floral robes, goofy faux leather coats.

Because every girl should be able to pretend she's a heroine, sometime.

Doesn't Everyone Know That?

We enjoyed our office summer outing today, on the shores of glassy Lake Michigan, under brilliant sun and a warm, friendly breeze. This breeze was a relief to the four gullible folks (myself included) who signed up for "set up crew" and had to carry coolers, charcoal briquettes, games and all sorts of other supplies down the steep stairs to the beach, as well as across the sand. Today's workout: completed.

As we stood in the stand waiting for instructions on the team game for the day, I dug my feet into the hot sand. A co-worker looked down at my feet and then back at me and asked, "Are your feet cooler when you do that, Claire? Is that why you're digging them into the sand like that?"

I paused because I didn't quite believe that this was a question. It seemed like a universal, known, truth. When the sand is hot (or when you realize you have forgotten to put sunblock on the tops of your feet) dig them down and you'll find the cool, damp sand underneath.

It is also almost a compulsion when I find myself on the beach, because it is so comfortable when your feet are surrounded in sand. (Exfoliating too, I think.)

It is definitely one of the things I love the most about 1. Summer, 2. Living in a city with a beach 3 blocks from my house. (Even if the winter is a bear.)

Drinking the Ads In

I guess when your prime television viewing is The Daily Show & The Colbert Report you pick up a lot of TV commercials that are probably intended for the male 18-35 demographic. Which explains why I'm blogging about alcohol ads again (also because telling you learning that I need a root canal is probably not that entertaining.)

I am distracted from this bad dental news by the the novella-like Dos Equis commercials featuring, "The Most Interesting Man in the World."
He's a suave, macho character, who the ads tell, "once had an awkward moment, just to see what it felt like" and "the police often question him just because they find him interesting." "People hang on his every word, even the prepositions. He could disarm you with his looks... or his hands. Either way. He can speak French... in Russian."
Slate describes it better, and since they've already found the right words, I won't try too hard but just quote them instead:
"This Dos Equis campaign features wonderful visual details. The production team clearly took glee in meshing vintage film stocks with unexpected locations and absurd endeavors. My favorite moment is the sight of our tuxedoed hero leading a moonlight expedition through a rocky canyon—flanked by elegant women in evening gowns, a military officer in full dress regalia, and a slightly befuddled fellow wearing a fez. We're left to guess at the precise combination of events that led to this scenario."

My favorite scenario appears in the clip below where The Most Interesting Man in the World appears to be gleefully rescuing a fox from the hunt.

Lots more here.

And maybe later I'll tell you what I like about the new Chivas ads.

Tickets, Tickets

Like any loyal sports fan or avid concert goer Jason has a little treasure box of ticket stubs. But what do you really do with these memories, besides maybe flip through them when you're packing for a house move?

Jason had the clever idea to buy a few inexpensive frames from IKEA and collage the tickets inside. The mat (which came with the frame) gives the tickets an official presentation. I like the idea of buying multiple frames to make the framed tickets a series.

Pretty & Appropriate...or Pretty Unappropriate?

Oh, this was a dilemma. A co-worker has a baby coming soon. Although they are perhaps a little weary because it will be their third little boy, I was quite happy. It seems like everyone is having girls these days and I was getting a little tired of making pink and purple burp clothes.

So it was with some glee that I went to the fabric store last night to pick out fabrics that were not girly for my homemade gift for the expectant parents. I was browsing the blues and greens, the firetrucks and baseballs, the snips, snails and puppy dog tails.

Green is one of my favorite colors, and these fabrics went well together building what I thought to be an adorable theme of monkeys and animals poking their heads out of the leaves of a jungle. Just look at that adorable, fuzzy little lion! As I was cutting out the pieces a passing thought brought a small tickle of dread. At first I brushed it aside, but it persisted.

My coworker and their spouse are an interracial couple. Although this was all very well intended, could it be misinterpreted?

I was horrified when I then noticed the name of the fabric: And then corroborated my fear with the Urban Dictionary: I had --totally unintentionally-- managed to make a baby's gift a racist implication.

I'm going back to the fabric store. If it was something that occurred to me, I suspect that folks who have been part of an interracial couple (and likely experienced sideways glances from the provincially minded,) might be sensitive to the worst interpretation.

How did I do this?? I feel dreadful.

(So the next racially neutral baby that arrives, I hope they have a Tarzan-themed bedroom. I'll have these burp clothes on the shelf for them.)

Wall to Wall

Two posts in a row contemplating wall covering. This is the figurative kind, for your computer.
A place for pretty desktop wallpaper, Kindred.

Functional Art

This weekend I wandered Chicago's Old Street Arts Festival wondering if I might find some artwork for our new home. I'd love something to cover our electrical box which is obviously located in our hallway.
Sadly, it's a little hard to shop for art when your dimensions are so specific, but your artistic impulse so unfocused. Was I looking for a color? Abstract or photography? Little surprise, I came home with only pretty glass coasters, which are definitely too small to cover the electrical box.
I do like Surface View's murals though. (More than enough to cover an electrical box - but maybe a little tricky to take down in the dark when the lights are out and you need to flip a breaker.)(This apartment was featured in apartment therapy.)

Listen, Sister

Jason is back in stride informing me of things I might like on the internet. In this manner he is like my handy neighborhood librarian, recommending good books.
This week's recommendation (and advice I wish I'd had while at Oberlin): Listen, Sister, Don't Date a Hipster.

Tracking the Tunes

Tonight I was looking for the sounds from my favorite alcohol commercials. They catch my ear every single night during The Daily Show & Colbert Report (which has been terrific this week, by the way, with Stephen Colbert "reporting" from Camp Victory in Iraq. Check it out on hulu if you haven't seen it yet.)

First from the Bacardi ad, Matt & Kim. The song seems to fit the "I'm going out tonight!" full-of-possibilities, vibe.
Then Fools by The Dodos caught my ear every time the Miller Chill commercial played, maybe because it sounds so much like Arcade Fire. (See it here.)

What would I do without the internet?? Is there any need that can't be satisfied by the internet? (I did meet my husband online...)

The History of Objects

I think about it whenever I go to the gym, the history of the random objects in our lives. My gym lock is from junior high. The same combination I was spinning when I was 13 years old and annoyed about hearing the girl next to me brag about the flowers for her bat mitzvah, which I wasn't invited to. 19-01... And here I am in a totally different city, totally different life, and Erica's bat mitzvah was probably inconsequential to my path. But that lock takes me momentarily to those faded memories.

One of the blogs I read featured this plastic dishware set for sale on Etsy the other day, and I remembered them from childhood. (How old are you when items from your childhood become "vintage"?) And the best part was that Juliet remembered them too, along with the peanut butter and Ritz cracker sandwiches that we had on vacation in the Adirondacks.

I don't need to own this plastic ware again, but I'm glad the internet brought this memory back to me.

Beauty in the Everyday

Yesterday I happened to notice what a pretty, cheery and clean composition the cups, and one bright colander, made in our dishwasher.
A Caribbean beach or mountain covered in evergreens is also nice, but in the meantime this will do since it was kind of unexpected and accidental. Later Jason was a little perturbed when he tried emptying the dishwasher because I never flipped that tupperware container at the front over. It filled with water during the wash cycle which splashed a lot when he pulled it out to put it away. I guess I was too busy taking pictures? But it did buy him an excuse to come back to the dishes later, since everything on the lower tray was now wet.


Our deck is ready for the summer, whenever Chicago weather would care to cooperate. (This photo from the passenger seat of a Saturday errand.)

A few of the details of our new deck include the plant stands I spray painted a terrific Key Lime. While working on these outside I recognized that this is a color you either love (many people stopped to say so) or you don't understand and so you walk by still looking, but without saying a word. The turtle planter I picked up from e-Bay is a smart little accessory and works for growing grass seeds for the cats to nibble on. I was going to spray paint an old plastic planter a complimentary color, but after I explained to Jason the multiple steps of priming, waiting to dry, and spray painting, he asked me why I didn't just return the primer and paint to Home Depot and get a new planter instead...for the same or less money, and much less time. Good idea, Jason! The old planter was taken to the alleyway where I'm pretty positive a scavenger spotted it and took it onto another home.

Pretty copper planters are filled with flowers that I'm eager to see explode in the height of summer.
Two over-the-rail planters work perfectly for growing herbs (basil and mint.) I think too many of them and it'd start to look a little cluttered, but just two on the side work for my needs. This is the product of an inventive mind, for sure! "Installation" was pretty simple. And the seat cushions, are a cute ginko pattern, combining maybe two of my favorite summer colors, green and a seafoam blue. (There were a lot of pretty patterns to pick from.)Placemats and a hurricane candle holder, both spotted at Target, were the finishing touches.And voila!Maybe the only thing missing is a splashy outdoor door mat? (For that empty space on the bottom left.)

The Speedy Tortoise

I did the Lincoln Park Zoo 5k again this year. My time was 38:35, an average 12:27 minute mile. Right between how well I ran last year when I trained for one race, and didn't train at all for another. Which makes sense since I only sort of trained this year. I was a little worried about putting the time chip on my shoe, knowing that it would create a google record of my name, paired with a tortoise-like pace. I was a little slow, once again proving that I am not a natural athlete, but someone who shows up and tries to do their best.
Running through the zoo was fun, hearing fellow runners exclaim, "Oh my god, birds!!" Running with a pack helped me keep up a jog for 95% of the race, but I confess I walked a little in Mile 3.
The lions were ready to spectate at the start of the race. True to their lazy cat reputation, at the end of the race they were all pretty much in the same place I'd left them when I started running.
I looked at this lion and he epitomized how I felt about waking up so early in the morning for running.
As well as how energetic I am this afternoon, post race.

James' Neighbor

My friend James recently posted a kind of weird, freaky story from Japan, where he's living nowadays.

Despite its kind of sadness, you'll understand why I feel like James and I became even better friends after going to colleges states apart and relied on writing emails back and forth to update each other on our lives.

Because with all this, he kind of makes the story comfortable and... funny.

Furniture Friday!

Our new bedroom furniture arrives on Friday. Hurrah!

It took us (me?) a while to bite the bullet and order the new stuff since our old stuff, although hodge-podge and a little worn around the edges, is still functional. Instead, it's now going onto its second life in a Salvation Army truck. I feel much better about this compared to the uncertain future of the things we haul out to the alley way.


Summer blockbusters... blah, just a bust for me. (Ok, I was a little bit interested in Star Trek, but Jason wanted Terminator so we shrugged our shoulders and ended up walking away from the multiplex box office window, not able to agree.)

But now, I'm super excited for Julie & Julia. Watch the trailer and let me know if you'll go with me! My guess is that Jason will apologize that this conflicts with a scheduled sock drawer reorganization.

I am coming around to agreeing that Meryl Streep is an awesome actress after watching the previews. (And realizing that I might like ABBA just a little bit after seeing Mama Mia! on a plane.)

Julie & Julia might interest me even more than the Chanel movie... and when is that coming out anyway??! (IMDB says September 18th... why so long when apparently Belgium got it in April? Since when does Belgium get movies before the country that has Hollywood?!)

Decked Out

Last week our deck was looking sad, and nearly embarrassing. A puddle, chairs all over the place, a big planter with just one small, lonely weed starting to sprout. At our old place, the deck faced only the parking lot, so if things were a mess only your neighbors saw. (The same neighbors who used their side of the deck for airing out the Diaper Genie, so they probably weren't judging.)

Our new place has a street-facing balcony, and the neglect of the deck was likely decreasing our curb appeal. So for the second most gorgeous weekend of the summer, Jason and I were hanging planters, planting flowers, and spray painting plant stands to give them a fresh, bright finish.

Since it's raining today, and the finishing touches are still shipping to me, I'll give you just a few ingredients.

Wait for the big reveal soon!

I Made This!

Like a little kid first allowed home by themselves for the few afternoon hours when Mom has to run a few errands, this is my first unsupervised sewing project following a pattern. A cute top with 3/4 length, tie sleeves. It looks a little smock-like on the hanger, but ends up fitting me perfectly when on. The fabric is a little flower child, but is also better when worn. I kind of like it for the weekends as adornment when I'm less concerned about finding the right jewelry to accessorize.

I've still got the training wheels on though, since this top was made from the same pattern as the shirt I made in sewing class so I knew most of the steps.
The ties were totally new though, and I had to surrender myself to the pattern, since I couldn't picture how it would possibly work out right.

I did enjoy walking into the optometrists to pick up my contacts on Saturday and heard another customer exclaim, "What a cute top!" and the saleswoman agreed, "It is!" Even though I wanted to proudly proclaim, "I made this! I made this!" I demurred and modestly just said, "Thanks."But I still said it quietly in my head, "I made this!!"

Maybe next, Apartment Pants? And how cute is it that a sewing pattern store based in Philadelphia is called Betsy Ross Patterns?

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