We are back.

Who knew how idyllic Canada was? Right over the border is a carbon copy of the Midwest. We are back from Montreal, watching Up All Night, and planning for our housewarming/birthday party next weekend. It looks like we'll have at least six people sleeping over, so there needs to be some serious cleaning and grocery shopping and organizing. But tonight there is just TV and snuggling and leftover birthday Ferrero Rocher.

Twenty-six. I'm twenty-six. And so begins another year.


Friday's Letters.

Dear Montreal, Herewecomeherewecomeherewecome!! Dear Mike, We joke about becoming old and how scary it is, but every day just gets better with you, so I can't really complain. Dear Chevron Blanket, I'll be making some serious progress on you with twelve hours of car time coming up. Y'all, I am so giggly right now, excited for a weekend away and just life in general.


The things to remember. [Summer 2012]

I want to remember the anticipation of looking for a new apartment with M, the butterflies on the day we were to find out if we got the one, practicing for kickball and pulling my quad right before our landlady called with the good news.

I want to remember our walks from Inman Square to Harvard on nights we just needed to get outside. Eating frozen yogurt as we walked home.

I want to remember having M home every night for the first time ever.

I want to remember trips to Ludlow for swims in his parents' pool, Big Family Party, and hours spent wandering JoAnn Fabrics.

I want to remember making pizza every week, even when it was unbelievably hot in our kitchen to turn the oven to 400 degrees.

I want to remember traveling to DC to see C—finally!—and the way our friendship is such a comfort to me and worth more than not sitting on a bus for 12 hours.

I want to remember visiting Georgia with M in tow, meeting Kai for the first time, playing endless games of Guess Who? with Mak, and seeing my mom so proud of her first apartment ever.

I want to remember napping everywhere.

I want to remember Bon Iver, and the first few breezes of Fall, the end of the season as welcome as its beginning.

[Idea for this post courtsey of Elise.]


I'll show you what you can do with a mini clothespin.

It's amazing to me how it feels like we're constantly moving in to this apartment. Whether we're rearranging closets, purging old clothes, figuring out where to stuff store the air conditioners, or hanging up decorations we've been meaning to hang, it's just like Gilda Radnor said: It's always something. 

I bought some maps from Black Ink last week, and they've been hanging out wherever I put them in the office since, so I thought I'd finally hang at least one of them up today. I had also picked up some mini clothespins from the Target dollar section a while back, and thought they would be a cute way to get this map on the wall. We were also low on Command strips, so I couldn't just stick them on the back of the map and call it a day. Besides, that would have been boring. 
Step 1: Attach the mini Command strips (or any easily removable wall sticky) to your mini clothespins.
Step 2: Figure out where you'd like your map to hang, measure the width of the map, and hang your clothespins about a half inch in from the edge of the map.
Step 3: Hang your map! Yeah, this didn't really need steps, but I got excited.
Step 5: Bask in the glory of using those mini clothespins that your boyfriend said you had no need for!


Recipe box: Fall...ice cream?

Is there some kind of rule about not using your ice cream maker after Labor Day? Especially if it's white? If so, I want absolutely no part in that rule. Fall is when the flavors burst out of the air! Cinnamon! Nutmeg! Pumpkin! And me, I prefer my flavors in the form of an ice cream. 

Last night M and I busted out the old Donvier hand crank ice cream maker and mixed cream (2 cups), vanilla (1/2 teaspoon), sugar (~1/8 cup, to taste; you could use agave or honey instead!), and leftover cider donuts from apple picking, and stirred that bad boy up. 

We found our Donviers (we have two!) at Goodwill. They're everywhere, probably because these things don't lock very well and sometimes you have to figure out how to crank the handle without the metal canister turning as well. BUT it's an inexpensive and effective way to experiment with ice cream making. Maybe someday we'll graduate to a Kitchen Aid mixer with ice cream maker attachment. But for now, this works just as fine. 
We served ours on warm pumpkin bread with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon sugar. And it was the perfect marriage of summer and fall and everything delicious in between.
 What Fall rules are you breaking? 


Bits + Pieces: Weekend edition.

We had apple cider pancakes with fresh apple bits and hot coffee. (Substitute the water in your pancake mix recipe with cider, and voila! You're a breakfast genius!)
 We (read: M) hung the curtains I made and teased me about making only one panel for each window. You sew and you learn, right Alanis?
 We enjoyed the view. 
 I gutted and boiled a fresh pumpkin. 
 Then roasted the seeds and made muffins (not pictured). 
Also not pictured: we had friends over for pizza and beer and homemade apple pie (yes, even the crust!). We went on a date to eat barbecue and watch Celeste & Jess Forever and bawled our (read: my) eyes out. I crocheted more on my blanket, and M hung up more decorations, even adding a camera to our ever-growing wall display. I took photos with a borrowed Nikon D50 and contemplated just skipping town so I don't have to return it. We woke up early because we couldn't sleep, grumbled about it, and then admitted to each other that it's nice having full days (well, M did. I already knew that.). 

What did you do this weekend? 


On displaying vintage cameras and trial & error.

One of the exciting parts about moving in with M (and away from roommates) was being able to decorate each of the rooms for our own tastes. M was especially excited about displaying his vintage camera collection, and when I saw this from Pocketful of Pretty, I knew that was what we had to do. We went to the Brimfield Fair in July and picked up these six frames for about a dollar a piece (and now we're wishing we'd grabbed more, because we have about eight more cameras and no more frames). We wanted a less uniform look and laid out the cameras on the floor to see what we wanted. 
When we were satisfied, we attached fishing line to each camera. Depending on the type of camera and the available nooks and holes on the design, you should attach the fishing line close to the top or middle of the camera. Originally, we wanted to save the walls and use only Command strips and Command hooks. That went out the window when our second camera fell soon after hanging. We still used Command strips to secure the bottoms of the cameras and to keep them from readjusting themselves, but we ended up using little metal picture hangers to attach our fishing line to. 

Though we wanted the fishing line and hanging contraptions to remain hidden by the camera and creating a cool illusion of floating cameras, there were some that we just couldn't make work. We'd rather keep these beauties intact than risk a fall to their death, so one or two have the fishing line visible. But! That's why we used fishing line, so it's not as much of an eye sore. 
This has been one of my favorite projects for the apartment so far, and even though it was a process of trial and error, I think it turned out great.

How do you display your vintage cameras?


Happy Fall!

Today begins my favorite season of the year. M and I kicked it off right with apple picking, cider donut eating, and pumpkin/pumpkin butter buying at Honey Pot Hill Farms in Stow, MA. I went to this place a couple years ago with friends, and I remembered loving the whole experience. After a subpar apple picking last year, I decided we should go back for the hot cider donuts. We were not disappointed! We picked a small bag full of McIntosh, Gala, Red Delicious, Spartan, and Cortland apples. I'm making pie tomorrow for some friends coming over and maybe some muffins for work on Monday. It's officially fall, which means it's officially baking season in our house. We also picked up a small pumpkin, so tonight I'm going to roast the seeds and boil the meat for pumpkin muffins and bread.

Our next three weekends are busy with a trip (Montreal!), birthday/housewarming party, and a Georgia wedding, so we're soaking up our leisure time at home in jammies. I hope your Fall began just as relaxed as ours.


Friday's Letters.

I found a birthday dress! For $10! While I was shopping for Toms! That I didn't end up buying! Oh well. 
Dear M, I've missed you on the nights you've had to work late, but I'm excited to finally have curtains to hang this weekend. Dear Honey Pot Hill Farms, We'll see you with our apple-picking best on! Dear Cider Donuts, We're coming for you. Dear Antsyness, You are a brand new feeling that I'm struggling with. All I can think about are new projects I want to start and different things I want to try. I have a feeling lessons in patience and prioritizing are in order. Dear 26th birthday, You came out of nowhere. I still have a week and two days to enjoy my mid-twenties. I'll see you soon enough.


Things I'm Making: Chevron Blanket

Lately it feels like I always have a crochet needle in my hand. I love projects that are fast, that I can take from idea to finished product in one night, but I also enjoy having something to go back to, a project I can savor. Right now that project is this chevron blanket in yellow and gray. I've been drawn to this color combination for a while now, and I was excited to be able to start a handmade project with this palette. I recently bought fabric for our living room curtains with yellow and gray, so this blanket should go nicely in there on chilly nights with hot chocolate and a good book.

What are you working on these days?

(Interested in making a chevron blanket of your own? I found an easy [and easily adapted] pattern right here.)


When I feel most myself.

It's always in the fall that I feel most myself. I know they're just clothes, but I feel most myself in sweaters and long dresses. I feel most myself when I have yarn in my hand or a blanket bunched in my hands under my neck, with a hot cup of coffee in my hands in the morning. I got my love of mornings from my dad. He taught me that those early hours are the best of the day, the quietest, so full of potential. Even now, early mornings before the sun rises feel like Christmas to me. This morning I woke with butterflies in my belly, excited for a friend's birthday (even though I'm sending out the present late!), excited for apple picking this weekend, for a latte, for the September breeze coming in through the window. I have so many projects happening right now, I don't know which one to pick up so I usually end up with all of them sprawled across my lap, taking turns with each one.


The Big E.

Y'all. This weekend was great. We sold a bunch of junk stuff at a neighborhood-wide yard sale and made plenty of money to go to the Big E, where we ate fried Oreos, veggie tempura, soft serve ice cream, and Vermont pizza. There's no better way to start the fall than walking around (in jeans! and a sweatshirt!) a big fair.

We ended the weekend with a dip in Mike's parents' pool (which they'd heated to 100 degrees so it felt like a hot tub), some fresh picked tomatoes, and ice cream from Elsie's Creamery—probably the last of the season for us! I had pumpkin ice cream with walnuts, and I can't wait for Trader Joe's to stock their pumpkin ice cream so I can recreate it.

M had a work meeting tonight, so I spent the night sewing curtains for our kitchen! We have a birthday/housewarming party coming up in October, so that's my deadline for curtains and bench cushions and general apartment decor. It always feels good to have a night at home after a long weekend away.


Friday's Letters.

Dear M, Thank you thank you thank you for taking me to see Bon Iver last night. My soul has officially been soothed. Dear Bank of America Pavilion, Who do you think you are charging $13 for a Bud Light in a can? Dear Bon Iver, Somehow you made my impending entrance into my late(r) twenties that much less of an ordeal, reminding me that we have this time to make beautiful and if you can just do that, then who cares how old we are? Dear New Blog, I have high hopes for you. Let's do this. Dear Fall, Welcome.

Early birthdays.

Last night Mike took me to see Bon Iver in Southie. It was the perfect night. We shared a thirteen dollar beer (thirteen dollars!!) and ice cream, swayed to the music, held hands, and smooched cheeks like there was no tomorrow. The band, on the other hand, made my heart flutter. I'm slowly easing into the idea of being 26, and last night, well, last night made age seem like the least of all cares.


September thoughts.

There's something about September that feels like home. There's so much anticipation come the end of August. It's mine and my sister's (and best friend's) birthday month; there are signs of fall. M will be taking the air conditioners out of the windows pretty soon, and my baskets of yarn have taken up residence in our living room. My sweaters are getting screen time, and today I had a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks.

Every year, especially since I came to New England, I feel like September is the last big hurrah before burrowing into winter. There are more picnics, more tennis dates, more evening walks, each one done knowing it might be the last for a long while.

This year I'll turn twenty-six. Last year around this time I was compiling a list of all the things I wanted to do in my twenty-fifth year. I'm not compiling plans this year. This year I've noticed more how quickly time passes; how one day, M and I are saying, "I can't believe it's only Tuesday," and the next it's Sunday, and we're driving home from the Big E. This year I hope to do a little less listing and crossing off, a little less plugging away. I want to savor more, to really dip my hands deep into the muck of this life I have and swirl them around in there. To not come up just because I've grabbed something, but to enjoy the feel of it.


The best cookies you'll ever eat.

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I'm one of those people who can read a cookbook like a novel. Scratch that, I can read a baking cookbook like a novel, like it's the story of my weekends to come. Red velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting, the best chocolate layer cake you'll ever have, pie crusts and fruit galettes.

When M and I moved into the new apartment and noticed the neighbor's peach tree hanging over our fence, I began daydreaming about all of the muffins and pies I could bake with fresh peaches. Fresh peaches! In the city! It was a G-rated adult fairytale.

This is all to say that baked goods are the direct line to my heart. I understand that refined sugar is killing this country, but I can't help but keep the search alive for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. And I think I may have found mine. It was at a Labor Day party that M and I were invited to last minute; we were on our way out and there it was, the most beautiful cookie I'd ever seen sitting amongst its brethren (and next to another pile of imposters). I immediately noticed, upon first heavenly bite, that there were too many chocolate chips. Too many to be real! Too many to be fair! I must have grabbed the one cookie that got all of the chips and all the rest were destitute, empty. But this genius recipe calls for a "ridiculous amount of chocolate chips." I found that out after receiving an evening email several days after I shoved my email address into the baker's hands. So don't take this lightly. Make these only if you're prepared to see beauty and good personality come together at last. At last!