currently // march 2014


The calendar says it is spring, but the weather doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo. I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors these days. Here is some of what’s been keeping me busy…

reading… The Serpent and the Rainbow. I actually just finished this nonfiction book by ethnobotanist, Wade Davis, and I loved it. My parents took me to see an Egypt exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago in the 80s. That, combined with Indiana Jones, ignited an interest in all things related to history and culture. The Indian Jones style of archeology and anthropology (white man “discovering” “primitive” cultures) has rightfully fallen out of favor, but I think the idea of discovering new things will always be exciting and romantic. Davis’ book describes his experience in Haiti searching for the secret recipe for zombie powders — ooo spooky! — but it is much more than an adventure story. It is the story of the incredible history of the Haitian people, the vodoun religion, and the amazingly diverse ways different cultures view and interpret the world and their societies. (I plan to read Passage of Darkness next. Thanks, Dad!)

watching… True Detective. We bought HBO just so I could watch this creepy, suspenseful show. We blew through all eight episodes in about four days. It is sad and scary, but very smart. It will stay with you. (Matthew McConaughey forever!)

playing… World of Warcraft… again. I know, I know. I really don’t have the time. But I love the battle pets! And I am determined to get to level 90… someday…

hosting… Rachel’s Easy Travel Postcard Swap on Swap-bot. Travis and I are taking a crazy-big trip in April, and Swap-bot will be coming with us. I’m hosting this easy snail mail swap so that other travelers like me can keep swapping during their trips.

planning… that crazy-big trip mentioned above. Travis and I are going to Europe! Wow. We have been talking about this trip for years. Recently all of the pieces sort of fell into place in such a way that we felt we HAD to do it now. We will be traveling through six countries – The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France — I am really excited, but also nervous. My plan is to keep a little travel journal here on the blog… maybe a short post each day about our experiences. Stay tuned!


What have you been doing lately?

currently // november 2012

Shut the door on November and get in line for the frantic holiday season! I am not ready. What have I been spending my time on?? Oh ya, this stuff…

hosting… the 6th annual Holiday Fun Matchbox Swap! Yes, I have been hosting this same swap for six years. Wow! Come join me in some paper crafting fun.

reading… Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York. I love reading about NYC history, but the arrogance and self-righteousness of the reformers in turn of the century NY is starting to get on my nerves.

listening to… Miguel.

obsessing over… this coat and this ring.

looking forward to… playing the Hero-U adventure game. I was happy to support the game’s Kickstarter campaign. It won’t come out for at least a year, but it looks like a lot of old-school, Sierra-style fun.


What is currently grabbing your attention?

This is what I was doing last November.

Park City, Utah

I’ve already written a lot about my trip to Alt Summit last week (you can read even more about it here), but I still had to share this photo of me and author, Margaret Atwood, that was taken in Park City on Saturday.

By the end of the day on Friday I was exhausted. After being totally “on” for two and half days of conference going, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to follow through with my plans to head up to Park City on early Saturday morning… but man, am I glad I did! The road trip up the mountain to the home of the Sundance Film Festival was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.

I stumbled on Margaret Atwood signing books at Dolly’s Bookstore on Park City’s main street. I was sort of blown away. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my very favorite books — a futuristic story with a strong, central, female character long before the days of The Hunger Games — and I plan to read ALL of her fiction. So, I purchased The Blind Assassin and got in line to have it signed. Atwood was lovely and kind and didn’t even seem too annoyed when I asked for a photo. I am impressed by her seemingly grueling speaking and promotional schedule. She was in Park City because her non-fiction book, Payback, had been adapted into a film being premiered at Sundance.

Sundance proved to be an art adventure in more ways than one. I did indeed see a film (which I hope to write about in its own devoted post) and I also ran into this Banksy mural on the side of an ice cream shop…

Very cool. I was told that Bansky made the art while he was in Park City for Sundance when his film Exit Through the Gift Shop premiered in 2010. The store owner put the protective glass and metal bars around the piece after poachers tried to steal it. I think Banksy is trying to say something about how documentary filmakers make an adverse impact even when they are trying to be helpful… what do you think?

Oh, and did I mention that the whole time we were wandering up and down Park City’s main street, it was pouring snow? It was basically a blizzard and apparently the highways had to be closed later in the evening! I was stomping through mounds of snow and trying not to fall on my face in front of movie stars and paparazzi. (BTW: the only stars, besides Atwood, that I saw were Will.I.Am and Robin Weigert, from Deadwood.) Thankfully, I was wearing two items that made the snowy trek totally possible: my No.6 store clog boots and my Brooklyn Industries puffy coat. Both performed wonderfully! I recommend them.

Also, I posed with a moose:

currently 2012…

reading: The Girl Who Played with Fire. I actually haven’t started it yet, but I just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I enjoyed it. It didn’t 100% live up to my admittedly overly high expectations — so many otherwise strong female characters fell in love with the dashing male protagonist that it started to feel like the author’s fantasy — but it was an enthralling mystery. I will definitely finish the series.

playing: Tiny Tower. Travis introduced me to this cute iPhone game. You build a tiny tower community floor by floor. I have 17 floors so far…

watching: Portlandia. Travis and I watched the full first season over the weekend. It is a weird show, but as a past Oregonian, I often laughed out loud. In the first episode there is a line about how people in Portland ride unicycles and double-decker bikes… which is funny because it is completely true.

getting pumped for: The TinkerBell Half Marathon. In just 22 days, Chelsea and I will be running 13 miles through Disney Land! I can’t wait to visit family and ride Space Mountain!

What are you up to at the start of this fresh, new year?

BurdaStyle book launch party in Soho

This post was originally published on the FaveCrafts Blog. A version also appeared on the Ace Department Gazette.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook is an online community for people who like to sew. The website, which has more than 600,000 members, offers free and inexpensive sewing patterns, step-by step sewing tutorials, skill sharing, and inspirational project ideas. On November 10th, they launched their very first book, The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook.

BurdaStyle projects

BurdaStyle co-founder and author of the new book, Nora Abousteit, and her staff hosted a large and exciting book launch party last month at the Housing Works Bookstore in New York City. Examples of finished items created using sewing patterns from the new book were on display throughout the loft-like space. There were snacks and drinks, craft tables with make-and-take projects, and a photo booth from There was even a cake printed with the Sewing Handbook cover image!

BurdaStyle cake

My first stop at the event was at the Singer make-and-take table. I used a Singer sewing machine and Spoonflower fabric printed with the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook cover to make a quick, little, drawstring bag. I was nervous to put my sewing machine skills on display since I was surrounding by so many talented and creative seamstresses, but the project was easy and basically error-proof.

BurdaStyle glitter tattoos

Next, I headed over to the glitter tattoo table. Megan Nicolay of Generation T and was applying sparkly designs to any willing party guest using stencils and Tulip Body Art Glitter. I played it safe and got an abstract flower on my hand.

Copies of the The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook were available to purchase at the event. The 200-page, spiral-bound book contains over seventy step-by-step variations of five basic patterns: a blouse, skirt, dress, bag, and jacket. It has a large intro section that can help those new to sewing get started using patterns. There are also plenty of full-color photos of the finished projects, plus profiles of members from all over the world. The full-size patterns are also included in an envelope inside the back cover of the book.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

It was exciting to meet the people behind the huge BurdaStyle community and to see much of the creativity from the website translated into book form. The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook is a fun project book for both beginners and experienced seamstresses that will help you endlessly customize your wardrobe.


eating… Bareburger. Travis’ favorite place in Park Slope. We go every Wednesday.

reading… The Big Enough Company, a book about building a business that is successful in the ways that are most meaningful to you. Not all businesses have to grow, grow, grow, with the only goal being money, money, money. Success can also mean satisfaction and social good.

watching… The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and other Nazi shows on the History Chanel… and getting myself way too upset thinking about hate, prejudice, dishonesty, and the abuse of power.

hosting… the FIFTH Annual Holiday Fun Matchbox Swap on Swap-bot!! Come join us and receive some sweet snail mail just in time for the holidays!

loving… all of the amazing Swap-bot-themed crafts that were made for our 100,000th Swap – Check them out here.

recovering from… too much marathoning! Running the Marine Corps Marathon was the best day of my life. Cheering for the NYC marathon was a full day of fun. (See my friend, Kenny Komala’s, photo of the cheer squad at mile 23 below.) Getting sick after all of the excitement was a bummer. I am still trying to lay low and get 100% better…

exciting entrepreneur eBook

Earlier this year, I started an experiment. My friend Jessica and I were feeling a bit isolated running our small businesses from home and we thought it would be very helpful to have a place to gather with other entrepreneurs to socialize, network, get support, and ask questions. From this idea, Ace Department was born.

Today, I am excited to announce that we have published our first Ace eBook: 50 Steps from Wherever You Are to Owning Your Own Business. It is a step-by-step instruction manual that takes you from crystalizing your initial idea all the way through managing the day-to-day operations of a successful enterprise. We give you the steps, plus explain why they each matter and how to get there. All of the detailed, practical, clear instructions are based on our combined experience of launching multiple small business endeavors — both successful and less so — and they walk you through the process of laying the foundation for your dream business.

Learn more about the book and get your copy here.

Decorate book signing

Last night, I attended the book signing event for Decorate, the new book by blogger, Holly Becker. Holly runs decor8, a home decor and design blog. I’ve been following decor8 for years and was excited to get my hands on a copy of the new book.

The book signing was held at the Anthropologie store in Soho, and I’d estimate that as many as 100 people showed up for the event. I purchased my book and then waited in line to get it signed. I had fun talking to BKLYN Contessa (Hi Nicole!) and her husband, David, while we waited. Cookies, wine, and sparkling water were passed around while we all chatted and exchanged business cards.

Holly was lovely and friendly when we made it to her. She has been on a grueling book signing tour across the country and this was her last stop. I am impressed she was still so upbeat and sweet.

I am also very impressed with the book. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by blog-to-book attempts, but Decorate is beautiful, professional, detailed, and huge — 288 pages of design ideas! I can’t wait to read every page!


reading… Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body – A book I bought at the Mutter Museum in November. Since I have two doctors in the family now, I am trying to learn a little more about medicine. The technical parts of this book about genetics are a bit over my head, but it is definitely fascinating to learn about how amazing and complicated our biology is.

supporting… Link with Love – a campaign to promote the fair use of creative intellectual property. The basics? If you share art, crafts, photos, writing, or any content that was created by someone else, give them attribution and link to their site when possible. Do not steal art!

eating…Covered Bridge Creamy Dill Pickle Potato Chips – these Canadian chips have the best pickle flavor! Yum!

getting scared about… This Organic Avenue Love Deep juice cleanse. I am starting it on Wednesday and doing it for three days. No more potato chips – only raw liquids. It is an experiment. A vegan, liquid nutrition experiment. I don’t really endorse these types of “diets” but I wanted to challenge myself with this cleanse. (Plus, I got the program at half price with a coupon.) I am hoping it will break my addiction to coffee. I’ll report back…


reading: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire – I am LOVING these (young adult) books. A strong female main character, a post-apocalyptic world, romance… basically my favorite combo ever! I will definitely be writing a full blog post about this series once I finish Mockingjay.

drinking: Starbucks Tribute blend. I bought it with a gift card and have really been enjoying it freshly ground and brewed at home. yum!

playing: Tiny Wings! It is totally the new Angry Birds.

also playing: This blast from the past. I love you, hero.

mad at: Sarah Palin. I was never a fan, but her recent comments about NPR, the National Endowment for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities being “frivolous things” feels like a personal slap in the face. Especially since the amount of money spent on her “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska ($223 million) far outweighs the entire annual federal arts agency budget ($161 million). Ouch.


Past Currentlies: November 2010, February 2009, April 2008, January 2008 – Just a little historical reference for you.