Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishing you a

Book Report: Abigail Adams

After reading David McCullough's John Adams (and crying over much of the HBO miniseries based on the same), I found myself curious about Mrs. Abigail Adams. Wise and witty, a steadfast partner to her oft absent husband, Abigail was an impressive woman. And not just impressive for her times--impressive for all time. Woody Holton's biography, Abigail Adams, shows Abigail to be, as well as a wife and mother, a proto-feminist, a shrewd financial investor, and a wily politician in her own right...

Brief Musical Interlude: Zooey & Joseph

Happy New Year, dear friends!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Awesome pattern haul at the local thrift store in North Hollywood.

Friday, December 28, 2012

DIY: Glitter pine cone garland

Confession...I don't LOOOOVVVEEEE Christmas. I mean, sure I like it ok, but I don't like that after December 25th, all the Christmas stuff has to come down. I'm much more inclined to lump my decorating together into more of an appreciation for winter. Which is why this DIY pine cone garland is the perfect home decoration before, during, and after Christmas!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Home and Away: Home for Christmas

I was able to make it home for Christmas, which was pretty exciting since that doesn't happen every year. Even though Catherine, Mom, and I were all together, we didn't have a real Christmas celebration because Monika couldn't be there. However, Catherine did send Monika several texts about how she ruined Christmas, so with the sisterly bickering it was almost like a real Christmas! Also, Bruno attacked the present I'd brought for Mom. Oh, Christmas...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Peanut & Purls: New yarn

I know I've talked about how much I love Jared Flood and Brooklyn Tweed before, but it's because I really, really do! I just got my very first shipment of yarn from Brooklyn Tweed. I'm smitten beyond belief...

Brief Musical Interlude: Janelle Monáe

Oh, Janelle Monáe. You have the style, the smarts, and the skill that makes me want to dance up in apartment. She has some pipes. For serious. Or as Wayne would say, "She can really wail." Love her. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas! And for a Santa related post, here are some neat things you can do with deer. If you get some pipe cleaners, you can make a deer...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Book Report: Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

The Nicolai girls have always loved anything and everything having to do with Russia. And this isn't because we're of Russian descent (because we're not). Despite how Russian it may sound, Nicolai is Prussian, which is to say: German. Historically, the Prussians and the Russians have a somewhat tempestuous relationship...obsession, violence, intrigue--you know, the essentials for an interesting story. And lo and behold, Catherine the Great was Prussian. Yup, a transplant to Russia by marriage. So for me, Robert K. Massie, with his mastery of all things Russ, can do no wrong, and his Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman proved his skill excellently...

Saturday, December 22, 2012


In California we saw these amazing geese at Proulx Winery...they're from Finland!

Friday, December 21, 2012

DIY: Rorschach Prints

I've been thinking a lot lately about the clean graphic quality of Rorschach prints. That's not weird, right? I know the inkblot test has largely fallen out of fashion in the psychiatric community, which is probably for the best since they do seem a tad pseudoscientific. But Rorschach's original prints are really quite beautiful nonetheless. And our tendency to assign meaning to patterns in an attempt to make sense of random shapes (an example of Pareidolia) is really pretty cool. Window to the brain!

Oh yes, I almost forgot. This window to the brain business can be rather terrifying when all the prints you create look like monsters or vaguely pelvic-shaped monsters. Uh-oh. If that's what I'm seeing, I clearly have issues best not discussed here. No worries, putting your neuroses on display couldn't be simpler...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Home and Away: Christmas time in California

Although it doesn't snow or get all winter wonderland in California, people still get down with holiday cheer...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peanut & Purls: Coffee cozies

I wanted to knit up a quick gift to include in a gift exchange at work. I turned to Ravelry and found the perfect thing--coffee cozies! I only needed one, but why stop with one cozy when you can make a several variations?

Brief Musical Interlude: Alabama Shakes

Last week, my friend Mike sent me the Boys & Girls album by Alabama Shakes because he thought I might like it. Turns out, I totally do.  Despite never really having many music discussions with Mike, he seems to have a pretty accurate picture of what I'd fall in love with. And I fell for Alabama Shakes--in a trice. Nice job, Michael. Their full album is available on iTunes and Amazon. Rock and roll soul ache, people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Make: handmade ornaments

So I am sure it comes as no surprise that we are kind of the 'make your own ornaments' type of ladies. I wanted to share some of our little tree treasures from years past.

Featured above: glittery pipe cleaner monograms, knitted acorn (by Catherine) and probably my favorite sentimental DIY ornament of all, a sprig of my first Christmas tree with Ben (it's totally a fire hazard so we have to be very careful with the placement)...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Report: Bossypants

If you're thinking Bossypants isn't technically a biography, you are correct. But it does have biographical elements, and I say that counts. Confession: I just may have started this book over ten months ago. Now wait just a second. The reason I managed to prolong the reading of Bossypants was because I wanted to keep Tina Fey with me always. First off: she has the best list of BFF lady friends I can imagine. And secondly, her book is chock full of self-deprecating asides, un-catty behind-the-scenes anecdotes, credit for her friends and colleagues, and the best stories about lady business in show business, all told with intelligence, humor, and in the spirit of honest generosity...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

DIY: Make a Merry Holiday Display

So when Catherine came a callin' earlier this month I wanted her to be greeted by some sort of holiday decor. Since I had very little time and resources I had to get super crafty on this b****, and you can too with just a few items...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

DIY: House Silhouette Wrapping Paper

Last month Buzzfeed approached us and asked if we'd like to participate in their holiday wrapping edition of Craft Wars. We were all like: OF COURSE! And we got straight to work on an idea for seasonal, easy, cheap, and fetching wrapping paper. Sisters, activate!

Home & Away: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Last week, Nicholas and I went on a week long getaway to sunny California. After visiting sister Monika and Ben for a few days, we packed up our rented Fiat and drove north towards Monterey, CA. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has been on my to-do list for quite some time, and let me tell you, it didn't disappoint. Go ahead and gawk at some of the jellyfish and sea horses we saw. They were breathtaking!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peanut & Purl:Cross Stitch Scarf

I've started a knitting project that isn't Christmas related! Amazing, I know (I probably shouldn't be knitting this since I have lots of knits and purls to complete before Christmas)! 

Brief Musical Interlude: Solange

I love the sweetness of Solange in this video, as well as the vibrant colors and everyone's general dapperness. But my favorite moment is at 2:16 when Solange's dance is interrupted! That little gem makes her even more endearing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Make: A dog bed for under $5

So I have two big dogs, hard wood floors, and a deficit in my checking account because of all the USDs  I have spent on dog beds that were hideous to look at, couldn't fit in the washing machine, and ultimately got left outside in the rain until they were tossed (I am being brutally honest right now). Naturally I have thought about making a bed for my precious pooches before, but until recently it didn't dawn on me how easy and affordable it could be.

And to encourage you to read on, allow me to add you can also make this a cat bed if you do everything the same, and then put it inside of a box. So now that I have your attention...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Report: Marie Antoinette: The Journey

Long before reading Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey, my introduction to the French Revolution and the story of Marie Antoinette, although I didn't realize it at the time, was the 1992 movie Stay Tuned. (Takes place in Seattle. Northwest shout-out!) You know: husband and wife get sucked into hell via their satellite dish and are forced to navigate twisted television programs, including a mini-series called Off With His Head. Yes, that old story...

Saturday, December 8, 2012


I have a major cloud obsession. I need to be sedated over clouds. And maybe other things. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Brief Musical Interlude: Jack White

Don't you love this wacky, hip, hat-pulling-off, eyebrow-shaping, knows-what's-up genius? Boy, do I ever. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Home & Away: Malibu

After a very disappointing trip to the Ronald Reagan Library (don't go...seriously). Nicholas and I headed towards Malibu for some beach time. Things were going just fine until a seagull attacked our table during lunch. It was not pleasant, but the beach sure was!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nice new knits

Nice little shirt

I still can't reveal all my knits (because they're Christmas presents), so instead, here's a roundup of some  new knitting projects that I'm smitten with...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Make: eco friendly wrapping paper

This was originally a birthday present wrapping idea, but can easily be converted to a more Merry Christmas vibe, but all in all it's pretty clear, eco-friendly wrapping makes you an earthly hero to the grateful recipient...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Report: Cleopatra: A Life

I'll admit it. Most of what I thought I knew about Cleopatra came from HBO's Rome and that time I tried to watch the Elizabeth Taylor/ Richard Burton Cleopatra but fell asleep. I'm not sorry. It was soooo long. So, no surprise that I subscribed to the Egyptian temptress/would be world conquerer/destroyer of men/death by asp biography of Cleopatra. Happily, Stacy Schiff disabused me of that silliness in her Cleopatra: A Life...

Those Who Make

I discovered the Those Who Make Vimeo channel via That Kind of Woman (which is also where I found my all time favorite cat house video creator/future husband, Billy Browne). I have to admit, there's something about watching people create things that makes me feel utterly serene. And lately, serenity has been in short supply around here. So, if you'd like to see talented craftspeople create amazing handmade goods, please consider visiting Those Who Make. It's a veritable web-window into these artisans' workshops. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Fall leaves falling in my front yard, but wait there's more...

Friday, November 30, 2012

DIY: Fern stencil pillow

So I had this really great step-by-step tutorial on how to make a pillow using a fern. HAD. Then my computer broke and the folks at Apple are having the trickiest time fixing it. Because of all of this, I lost every one of my pictures. Luckily, I instagram enough and texted Christine some updates. I gathered some sword ferns from the Evergreen Forest when Nick and I went mushroom hunting...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Home & Away: Wish I Were Away

I wish I were wandering around the Smithsonian museums this week. Looking at creatures long dead and immense collections of random/amazing/historically significant objects seems infinitely preferable to the whole lot of nothing that's currently happening here. Sorry, Spokane, I don't mean to speak ill of you, but come on. It's the Smithsonian...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Peanut & Purls: Winter Knits

It's almost December which means that Christmas is coming. As I'm sure you've noticed from a gazillion other posts, my sisters and I tend to gift handmade treasures as much as possible. Even though I have almost a month before Christmas, I really need to get-to-getting on some knitting projects. I recently increased my stash...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Make: Cotton Necklaces

For a long time my favorite yarn has been Sugar n' Cream, I just love the bright fun color combinations of the 100% cotton yarn... that's under $2. So it should be no surprise that I used it for my cotton necklaces. One day I looked at my size 1 double pointed needles and some pretty color variations and lo and behold, the cotton necklace...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Report: Charlotte's Web

One of the things I love most about Charlotte's Web is that E.B. White doesn't dillydally with a lot of overly sweet sentimentality. Yes, it's a poignant story about the enduring power of friendship. And yes, it does include talking, spelling, reading animals, but there's also the very real threat of death hanging over the main characters' heads. White doesn't pull any punches on that count. I mean, the first line of the novel, Where's Papa going with that ax? (If you've somehow managed to avoid hearing anything about Charlotte's Web ever, Papa's only heading out to slaughter a darling runty piglet.), pretty much tells you that although he's treading into the fantastical with talking pigs and spelling spiders, White also has one foot planted firmly in the real world. And in the real world, on real farms, animals are raised and butchered...

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Nicholas and I ventured down to Portland last weekend. I worked on some more on this sock for Nicholas.

Friday, November 23, 2012

DIY: Unconventional Advent Calendar

Well, Thanksgiving is over, so it must be Christmastime, right? I mean, I've been hearing holiday music at the grocery store for about three weeks now. (Slight eye roll.) Still, it's hard to deny that once we near the end of November, the Christmas spirit starts creeping up, and that spirit is aggressive. Well, this year I'm ready because I made an advent calendar...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Home and Away: Thankful for my ladies.

Although I don't really get all into the let's countdown what we're thankful for spirit that Thanksgiving time typically generates (this could just be the cynical Nicolai nature), I am still very thankful (annually) for a lot.

One definite thing I'd like to highlight since I've moved away from everyone is that I'm super thankful for all the ladies in my life that bring it, to California, all the time. I actually noticed that these ladies are the only people I've awarded a handmade badge, seems I have my priorities right.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Peanut & Purl: Secret knits revealed!

You might remember a little secret knitting project I was working on for the last month or so. Well, it's finally finished!

Brief Musical Interlude: Lennon & Maisy

Aww, they're so terrific! Visit the Lennon & Maisy YouTube channel for more videos. I'm massively hooked on their lovely voices and genuine sweetness. Sisters!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Make: $5 Dress

Typical little weekend for me in Burbank. I went for a walk up to Portos to procure some delicious breakfast foods, and ended up sifting through thrift store garments. Lucky for me, (and not so lucky) I found some things. To be honest I have, in the past, been notorious for buying garments that I have every intention of altering to my specifications, (to take something from being a little off putting, to a fit to delight over) and sat on them for years, and years, and years, to present day. This weekend was different, I actually bought a dress and altered it the same day, what do you think...?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Report: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

One of the greatest messages conveyed in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is the idea that even if you're small, seemingly powerless, and perhaps reviled, you can still accomplish great things without compromising your integrity. Yes, that is a lesson learned from mice and rats. Sadly, no mice or rats appear in this post. Rather silly, I know, but have you tried finding pictures of rats engaged in industrious say building a plow or an elevator? It's a tad difficult. So, I'm basically giving a big old F you to Mrs. Frisby and the enlightened rats of NIMH. But not really, because I do love them. I mean, seriously. Justin the rat was one of my childhood crushes...

Saturday, November 17, 2012


It's been a slow week on my instagram feed. Sorry, followers, but my life has become pretty boring of late. There has been a lot of this little brat...Matilda. See above. A lot of clouds. A lot of trees. But not much else...

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY: Tassel Necklace

Do you ever have a hankering to make a necklace and aren't sure what to do? Problem solved. Make a tassel necklace, it's easy and you can make it any color you want to adorn any outfit...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Away: Iceland, Denmark, & Sweden

Lately, I have been spending an unhealthy amount of time thinking about vacations. Of course this leads me to reminisce about some of my favorite travels in the recent past...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WANT: Datter Industries

tiny golden hand necklace

OK, I'm just going to say it: whenever I don't have money to spend on handmade trinkets and unique adornments, I want them even more. Get a clue, brain. You'd rather have soy milk and grapenuts over letterpressed posters and digitally printed silk scarves, right? Priorities! So, I've decided that until I'm able to make these lovely items my own, I'm going to quietly covet and visit them online and profess my admiration for them here, there, and everywhere. Today I have an object crush on the delicate jewelry by artist Kaye Blegvad of Datter Industries. Everything she creates seems to exude a magical quality, almost as if each item were a little spell...

Peanut & Purl: Winter socks

It's officially sock weather. More specifically, it's officially hand-knit sock weather. Nicholas is lucky enough to live with someone (read: me) that knits him socks...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Make: A Merry Garland

So it's mid November now and if you are like us sisters, and love to put those handmade majesties under the Christmas tree, then the clock is starting to tick. Lucky for me I can pull out last years decorations and not spend all that precious time selfishly making adornments. I will, however, encourage you to take the time to make a handy construction paper Christmas garland to bring some holiday cheer into your home.

I'd advise you get your garland ready now, because you'll need all of December to make your lists of projects that you have every intention of completing. So get garlanding...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Report: Kävik: The Wolf Dog

In the tradition of stories about animals returning to their people, I present to you: Kävik: The Wolf Dog.  This is first chapter book I ever loved. Mr. Wiggins read it to us in the third grade at Collins Elementary, and I checked it out again and again from the Ft. Lewis library. The copies I read were hardcover and featured a rangy wolf stalking through the trees. I always wanted to steal the library's copy and still hope to steal it somehow. Alternatively, I might happen upon a much-loved hardcover copy in a used book store...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

DIY: Thanksgiving inspired cat toys!

In the spirit of giving thanks, I decided I would give thanks to Peanut (even though she's bad all the time) and make her some Thanksgiving inspired handmade cat toys!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Home and Away: The I-90 Corridor

You might think there's a whole lot of nothing between Spokane and Seattle/Tacoma. Well, let me assure you, you are mistaken. One of my favorite things about Washington is the amazing landscape from the east to the west side. I don't even mind the 4.5-5 hour drive all that much because it takes me from grassland and prairie to dense forest and mountain range. Also, because driving relaxes me. Yes, just like Ms. Miller in The Chipmunk Adventure. I think about her way too much. Please tell me you know what I'm talking about...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Peanut & Purls: Koolhaas hat

This week I finished knitting up a winter hat that I've been working on for a while now...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Make: Black Beauty-ful Bookends

I love ceramics. I love to find them, and repaint them; it makes me so happy. So you can imagine the joy I felt when I happened upon these wonderful ceramic horse head bookends at a local thrift store.

But they weren't always the Black Beauty(s) that you see here...
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