Perpetual Birthday Calendar

I have always tried hard to keep track of my friends and family members’ birthdays. Theoretically, this is so I can remember to send birthday cards in a timely manner; this doesn’t always pan out. I bought a perpetual calendar from A Little Hut when I moved into my first apartment and it has been hanging on the wall ever since. I have wanted to find a new one, one that looks more like a grid-style calendar, but my Etsy searches have turned up nothing of much use. So I decided to make one myself, and it felt more important to do this now that we have friends and siblings who have anniversaries we need to keep track of, not to mention the birthdays of little ones and in laws.

Perpetual Birthday Calendar
I found kraft calendar paper on the Paper Source website that was perfect. (It’s not on the PS site anymore, but I saw it at a local store as recently as last weekend. It’s “black and kraft stamped calendar paper” from Canvas Corp – also online here.) I’ve had it for months, but only got the motivation (or free time) to put the new calendar together this past weekend.

Perpetual Birthday Calendar
First, I chopped up the old pages from my Paper Source Big Wall Calendar into a size I could feed through my printer. I made a canvas in Photoshop Elements with the month names and then printed on the back of the old calendar pages.

Perpetual Birthday Calendar
I glued the month names to each page, and decorated with washi, each month slightly differently. I then used number stamps to stamp the days onto each month. Again: tedious but so worth it for the cute factor.

Perpetual Birthday Calendar
I used a vintage hanger to hang it in our kitchen next to our blackboard, and now we have an easy reference for birthdays and anniversaries. Simple but perfect.

(Project # 50 for Handmade52!)

Wedding Countdown Paper Chain!

Not long after we got engaged, I found an app for my phone that let me see right on my home screen how many days were left until our wedding. (And actually, I kept two widgets: one to count down to my wedding, and one to count down to my sister’s wedding. We both had them and exchanged a lot of amazed texts as the numbers have gotten lower and lower.) I like numbers and quantifying things, so seeing this every day has been both interesting and hard to believe. I’m not sure when I got the idea in my head to make a paper chain to count the days left, but once it lodged in my head, it was very hard to forget about.

But it was one of those crafts that seemed crazy, like, okay, you’re going to cut out more than a hundred strips of paper only to tear them off? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to wait until there’s a month or two to go? But reasonable isn’t always my prominent characteristic when it comes to projects, so in one of my random Target runs, I found myself buying a scrapbook paper pad. The cheap price was my excuse, but let’s face it: as soon as this idea planted, it was absolutely going to happen. So one Saturday afternoon when we were firmly entrenched with no plans (and Dan reeeeally wanted to spend the day playing Xbox, so I needed something to keep me busy anyway), I started calculating. How many strips would I need? How many of each color to keep it balanced? How many of the 8.5″ square sheets would I need if each strip was an inch wide? You know. And I set to work.

Cutting the strips was a little tedious, but ultimately easy with the paper cutter. I used my tape runner to glue them all together, one by one, starting with 0: Wedding Day!!

I made a special link for our wedding day and for one month to go using my chevron stamp and some washi tape. And I numbered the links to make sure I didn’t lose track of where I was (and so we’d know as we tear them off where we are).

As the chain grew and grew and grew .. into the living room, Dan just kept giggling at me.

I tried to keep the colors disbursed as evenly as possible, and using the scrapbook paper pad was fairly smart on my part, because at least all the colors coordinated without me having to think about it too much. (Because you know I’d over think that.)

Dan helped me hang it up (trusty Command Christmas light hooks to the rescue yet again!) and it was fun to figure out how to drape it across our fireplace artfully. We’re already looking forward to re-hanging it as the links disappear. I took these photos when we had 169 days to go; as of this writing we have 160 remaining. We are both totally loving the visual representation of how far we have to go… it’s hard to believe, but pretty damn exciting all the while. And you know these 160 days are going to FLY.

Hey, look, we cooked!

The passing of my sister’s wedding last week sort of reminded Dan and me that even though we both intend to attempt to get in shape before our January 2013 wedding, neither of us has done much to actually accomplish that goal. Well, other than buying a treadmill and drinking a lot of vodka tonics. (Because we’re trying not to buy beer. Very logical.) After almost three weeks of no grocery shopping (seriously, we ran out of EVERYTHING. Even triscuits. And pasta sauce. There was nothing to eat. At all.) we finally buckled down on Sunday, and since we were at the store, we figured that instead of our standard Sunday burritos, we would cook something, and make it healthy for once.

We really don’t cook much, other than chili a few times, and risotto a few other times, and I just didn’t feel like eating chili on such a hot day. I googled around for some chicken+pasta+veggies type recipes, and had found a few that looked good… until the light bulb went off and I remembered bookmarking Erin’s Roasted Veggie Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad over a year ago. Perfect! I was afraid Dan wouldn’t be interested in the same varieties of roasted vegetables that I was, but luckily we were on the same page.

to be roasted

We roasted grape tomatoes, bell peppers, asparagus, zucchini, and broccoli while we cooked pasta and seared some Mrs. Dash-coated chicken breasts. (We went with a pound rather than just one breast as recommended.) I was kind of shocked that we managed to time it all so perfectly. And it smelled SO GOOD while we were cooking.

Dan's serving up dinner!

We loaded it all into bowls (with four servings left over, which I’m SO looking forward to) and ate it while watching some Arrested Development. It did not disappoint, not even a little – I would say this is one of the best things we’ve ever made, but we don’t cook so much… still. This was so, so so tasty, and healthy, and flavorful, and I can’t wait to make it again.

roasted veggie chicken pesto pasta salad

(This is also counting for week 49 of the long-forgotten Handmade52 – it really has been months and months since I even remembered that I left this project hanging so close to the end. Project Life, my new love, counts for week 48, and I’m going to enjoy coming up with projects for the remaining week to finish this project for real.)

Completed: Fall Minibook

I bought a fall minibook kit from Elise’s shop at the end of the summer, because I can’t ever resist fall colors mixed together that way. I kept notes and printed photos months ago, but somehow never got around to putting it together. But an afternoon of chatting minibooks and Project Life with Jodi and Kelly last weekend got my papercraft-inspiration-juices flowing, and I just sat down to make this book on a weeknight and finished it in a few days. And it felt really, really good. It’s simple, mostly photos and date stamps, but six months late is better than never, as far as I’m concerned.


297.365 :: six months late








(This also counts for week 47 of Handmade52!)

Completed: 30 Before 30 Minibook

So I turned 30 back in July, and meant to get this book done soon after. (Back when I finished my 27 Things Before I turned 27 list, I finished the book BY my birthday, which seems crazy looking back. The 28 Things While I’m 28 book was only shortly after my birthday.)

Things were a little crazy just after my birthday, what with moving a week after, and starting a new job a month and a half after that. I was busy, and honestly? I pretty much lost my crafty mojo there for a while. I have this awesome craft room now and haven’t really used it. But a few weeks ago, I finally got the room organized and tidied up so that I could actually get some crafts done in there. I haven’t always felt like working on this, now that it’s so far past my birthday and some things have changed even since the list, but I pushed through, knowing how much I wanted to have the book completed, mostly to be able to come back and see it in a few years. It’s not my favorite minibook, but that’s not to say that I don’t love it and the things it contains. This list was my favorite of all the birthday lists, and I think I got some pretty major things done this year thanks to it.

Completed: 30 Before 30 book
#7: Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame
#22: Get a Tattoo
30 Before 30 minibook

Best Bet Ever?



Dan and I are in the same fantasy football league, although this is my first year having my own team. Each time our teams play, we’ve set up side bets to make things more interesting. For the first matchup, if I had won, Dan would have had to take me to a restaurant I’ve always loved but he had no interest in, but if he won, I would have to not eat cheese for a whole week. He won, and I was not happy. But the second time we played each other (and by this point my team had established itself as pretty solid, thanks to Aaron Rodgers), we raised the stakes. Or, I did. If Dan won, I would have had to take him to see the Immortals. But if I won, he would have to go with me to a paint your own pottery place for an afternoon of craftiness. I wouldn’t be writing a whole post about it if he won, so clearly I won. Dan fought tooth and nail, and I twisted the knife by giving him the impression that it’d be HOURS of painting (as opposed to one, since you pay by the hour).



We went a few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, and going during the Christmas season was the best thing, just because owning crappily painted Christmas decorations somehow makes more sense than attempting to paint something you’d actually use. (Although I do still use the toothbrush holder that I painted back in 2002.) Dan was pretty obviously unhappy when we got there, and the clerk at the store could totally tell that he’d been dragged there. He made sure to tell her that he lost a bet. I had a hard time, as usual, deciding what to paint, knowing I wanted to paint stripes, but also knowing how much imperfectly painted stripes would annoy me.



Dan picked a wizard-ish Santa figurine after I pointed out that it would be awfully funny to bring it out every year and remember how he had to paint it because he lost a bet. I went with a giant mug, since I somehow only own one Christmas mug.



It was so much fun, and although he’d never admit it, I’m pretty sure Dan didn’t hate it anywhere near as much as he expected he would. Not that he’s clamoring to go again anytime soon, or, you know, EVER… but it was really fun and different and if winning a bet is the only way I’d get him to go with me, I’ll totally take it.


Week 42: Christmas Stockings!


I’ve been in love with Crochet Today’s Stuffable Stockings ever since Erin made her red and white ones a few years ago. I never felt a strong desire to make a stocking for myself when I lived alone, though, because the ones my grandmother made for me and my siblings way back when are pretty much the most perfect ones ever.

my very, very, very favorite part of Christmas.

But once I moved in with Dan this summer, having our own stockings seemed a lot more important. I originally planned to knit striped ones, since the idea is to knit the fair isle ones for future children, and I like when the mom and dad stockings don’t match perfectly with the kids’ ones. (I overthink things a bit. Just a tiny bit.) ANYWAY. I couldn’t pick one, and wasn’t sure about my knitting abilities.. and really, I just wanted to crochet. Hexagons and the contrast with the white borders just seemed so perfect.

137.365 :: oh crochet, I do love you

red hexagons in stripes

Making the hexagons was really easy, and I ended up going with a forest green and lime for Dan’s stocking (he asked that the forest green be the dominant color) and maroon and bright red for mine, just so they’d go with each other.



Stitching them all together, six sides times seventeen hexagons, was not really all that fun. For the red one, which I made second, I was completely flummoxed by the diagram (even though I had already done it successfully with the green one). I finally figured it out, of course, and hung them on the mantle-less fireplace on Monday night.

138.365 :: red and green

I think they turned out pretty fantastically.

Week 41: Salad in a Jar

A few weeks ago, I was quickly scanning through old posts on Lifehacker, and came upon this gorgeous recipe on fat girl trapped in a skinny body. I’m constantly struggling with lunch at work, even more now that I stay in more often than not. No matter what I do, I can’t bring myself to be very motivated to put a healthy lunch together in the early mornings, and when I attempt it, I sometimes get it done for a day or two, and then end up buying lunch because I’m too lazy. I need something that I can just grab and go, and yogurt doesn’t cut it, and soup gets old.


So those gorgeous jars of salad full of healthy food sounded perfect. And easy, especially after I realized I could get quart-sized canning jars at the craft store for super cheap. I made my first batch two weeks ago, and even Dan wanted in. (When asked if he liked chick peas, he said, “They sound healthy. So sure.”) I couldn’t find quinoa at the grocery store I stopped at, so I went with orzo instead. These six salads fed both of us for a whole week, and it was fantastic.


We’re back to full work weeks this week, so I put another batch together this afternoon. It’s idiotic how easy it is to put these together. The important part is the layering, so that the dressing and lettuce don’t touch, meaning the lettuce stays fresher for more days in the fridge.

salad in a jar: break it down

For this batch of six salads, I again doubled the balsamic vinaigrette recipe that Julia lists in her post, just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey, although I didn’t blend mine. I cut up two bell peppers, a pint and a half of grape tomatoes, a can of chick peas, a handful each of chopped pecans and craisins, 3 cups of cooked quinoa, and about two bags of lettuce. (You can really jam the lettuce in there.)

130.365 :: salad in a jar

They’re portable, healthy, and super fresh, and I don’t have to do anything in the morning. They shake up pretty well, but both Dan and I have found it easier to dump it into a bowl or onto a plate to eat it. It’s a big, filling salad, too, and let’s face it, I could use to eat some healthier food, especially at this time of year.

Week 40: Photo Safari


A few months ago, I spotted a groupon for New York City Photo Safari, and it seemed way too cool to pass up. I was able to convince my friend Irma to sign up with me, and we picked a Saturday in October for our safari on the High Line. I was pretty concerned when I saw the forecast for Saturday, though, and with good reason, because as it turned out? We were walking the High Line with our cameras during Snowtober. We met for brunch first, and thought we were bundled pretty well (me in my rain boots and gortex nerd raincoat, and Irma in her winter coat and boots) until it started snowing in addition to the wind. We stopped for extra scarves, gloves, and hats before meeting with the Photo Safari group. I spent most of the days leading up to the safari worrying about how to keep my non-water resistant camera safe during torrential rain/snow. I ended up bringing a gallon ziploc bag and felt like a tool, but during the parts of our afternoon that weren’t under cover, I was really glad to have it.

lines. or stripes, depending on who you ask.
101.365 :: urban jungle

I’m not really sure what I expected out of the experience, and I think part of that was that worry about the weather took over my brain before Saturday. Our guide explained a few rules, and we introduced ourselves, and then got down to business. We started out in a covered part of the High Line park, and focused on abstract concepts – first lines, and then curves. It was difficult at first, because getting feedback like “yes, but what’s interesting about that?” and “we’re not looking for STRAIGHT lines” was a bit strange. I wasn’t ever sure I understood what the goal was, just that I wasn’t quite getting it. After the abstract shots, we were instructed to put them together and keep composition in mind. Again, I got some that seemed good, and some that weren’t quite there. We then walked to a different part of the park, but it was so windy and our hands were sooo frozen and crampy, so we ended up heading to the Chelsea Market to shoot for a while indoors and out of the snow. Talk about a relief to be inside! At first I was just over it, the being told that I wasn’t there yet… (not that I think I’m perfect or anything) but I kept shooting and eventually everything just clicked. It’s hard to describe. I took a ton of photos of the same things over and over, and the guide was really complimentary about my progress from the beginning to the end.

curves and raindrops

I was disappointed that the weather impacted the day so much, just because we were limited to such a small portion of the High Line and our focus was so abstract that I still don’t feel like I saw it at all. Plus, it would have been so interesting to have more subjects to focus on during the projects. I do think, though, that I learned some things about composition and maybe even something so simple as taking different angles, because I often find myself focusing primarily on light. So I definitely got a lot out of it and am glad I went. Despite being freezing and soggy and super exhausted by the time I got back to Penn Station to get home. It was an Experience, that’s for sure!


Week 39: Halloween Wreath

So uh… it’s been a while since I have made or cooked anything, that much is obvious. I have made peace with the fact that this 52 week project may take longer than a calendar year, and I suppose that’s okay, even if it kills me a little inside. And I can’t promise I won’t come up with a lot of quick holiday crafts as the year draws to a close to try to get as close as I can. I never said I wasn’t a little crazy in my attempts to avoid breaking my own rules.

I think the mini books I should be making (the long-overdue 30 before 30 book, and the fall book, neither of which I have started, although I have made meaningful piles on my craft table) are hanging over my head in a way that has so far prevented me from starting anything else. I subscribe to a few yarn branded newsletters, and often save them in my inbox because the free patterns they offer look SO good. I rarely follow through, but when my newsletter included a photo of this Halloween wreath from Lion Brand Yarn? I absolutely could not resist. I didn’t even need to buy yarn, just a wreath form and some glue.


I made this over the course of a few afternoons, since the glue needed to dry in between, and since wrapping yarn around a wreath is more painstaking and annoying than I expected. Not that it’ll prevent me from doing this again, all the time. The crocheted roses are without a doubt my favorite part, and I definitely will be making more in pretty colors to turn into pins and little barrettes for my hair. Or to give to other people.

95.365 :: halloween wreath!

crochet roses

crochet bow!

I hung this on the inside of our front door, and I love having something so pretty-yet-spooky to get things feeling a little more Halloweeny around here.