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...
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