The Fourth Time Is Not the Charm

You may be aware that I’m currently in the midst of my fourth Project 365 – my fourth year of daily photos (although the years have not been consecutive; I’m crazy but not over the top crazy, I guess). I started Project 365 the first time in the fall of 2006 because I wanted to learn how to take better pictures, or, I suppose more accurately: I just wanted to take pictures, period, and practice makes perfect. And I still think everyone who’s remotely interested in photography should try a daily photo project at least once, because you learn SO much in the process.

My creation

And when it was over, I needed a break; it was a relief to accomplish what I had set out to do… except in the few months that followed, I hardly took any pictures at all. And I really, really hated that, and loved having my days documented (especially since that first year saw me go from an administrative assistant in a long-term relationship who lived with her parents to a newly-employed librarian in her own apartment and dating someone else). So I started round two on January 1, 2008. It had always bothered me in round one that I didn’t start neatly at the beginning of the year, or, hell, even the beginning of a month. But by the end of that year? Cole, Summer and I started a “save us from our craziness” mini scavenger hunt and I tagged a bunch of photos with the phrase “help we’re struggling we’ll never make it uuuughhhh year two” … which says a lot.

My creation

And then it was over! And I was relieved. And a few months went by and I hadn’t taken any photos so I did a month of photos here and there… and then sneakily started again on October 1, 2009, saying all sorts of reasonable things like “I’ll only go as long as I want” and numbering the photos straight through, rather than xx/365, because that simple thing would CLEARLY allow my borderline OCD personality to just quit whenever I wanted. And I started telling Project 365 to bite me. You know, the project that I keep signing up for of my own free will. I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense… and yet it does. So Jodi asked one day, surreptitiously, how many pairs of shoes I thought I owned… and suggested doing a month of shoes to limp my way to the finish line of round three. And it was awesome.

My creation

September 30, 2010

And again I said I’d never do it again, except if you look closely, right after “done forever!!!!” I wrote “probably” … because I’m an idiot. And then my 30th birthday got closer and closer and I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to have my 30th year documented entirely….

And here we are. Again. And I’m struggling more this time around, maybe because I’m tired of my end of the day back up shots. Or because I’m commuting an hour and working more hours and planning my wedding and I’m just tired. And more of the photos than I’d like are cell phone shots, and there have been days where I just plain forgot. And all of that is okay because this is my project and I say so, even if the only one scolding me is the voice inside my own damn head.

My creation

I love you Project 365, and I just can’t quit you, except now I really, really kind of need to quit you forever and ever. Maybe I’ll test out a weekly project. Or a monthly project. And I know I said this all those other times, and maybe I’ll document every year of my future children’s lives or something but nothing like this. Because honestly. I have some new crafty projects lined up that I’m really looking forward to, and my new camera will still need to be learned and used but… you know.

But first, I have to get myself through the remaining 63 days. And I was again talking to Jodi, trying to come up with something, because having a theme makes it more fun and less pressure, not to mention themes are fun. So starting today and going through day 365 on July 19 (I could have done 366 because of the leap year, but day 366 will be my sister’s wedding day so I think I’ll be a little bit busy for a big deal “Last Photo” type of thing), I’m going to do eight straight weeks of color.

Each week, I’ve got a color lined up (thanks to Dan’s 8-sided die, it’s randomized, even), and I’ll look for that color for the week. Sixty four colors lite, if you will. Without the pesky colors. I think it’ll be good.

The Story of My First Grade Bangs

Every month or so, my much-loved bangs start to look like this and it turns me into a crazy person.


I usually head into the salon to get them trimmed by professionals, but this time, I couldn’t get an appointment and things were getting bad, so I decided (after MUCH debate) to cut them myself at home. They turned out just fine, as you can see…


But there was a lot of unhappiness the night I trimmed them. Thank goodness Dan was around to fix my mistakes calmly. And I’m not sure I wouldn’t attempt it again, despite my freak out. But the reason for this post is that this is actually not the first time I have cut my own bangs. See, back in the early 80s, I had the same bangs that I have now.


And as it goes, it was time to grow them out. Everything was going fine; my mom employed a lot of those awesome 80s plastic barrettes and such. Fast forward to one fateful day when I was in first grade. I had seen Mary Poppins and became convinced that the girl in Mary Poppins didn’t need an elastic underneath her hair ribbon, and so obviously I could wear a ribbon in my (fine, slippery, straight) hair without a rubber band to hold it in place to. My mom humored me, as moms do, and off I went to school. Except as the day went on, bits of hair freed themselves from the ribbon and fell into my eyes. Being the logical and resourceful six-year-old that I was, I used the scissors in my desk to cut the hair hanging in my eyes.


So imagine my mom’s surprise when I came home from school – with a half inch of bangs in the center of my forehead, bangs that I most certainly did not have when I left that morning. I still can’t imagine how my mom reacted. But the kicker of the story is that I REFUSED to grow that half-inch of bangs in or let my mom cut more for THREE YEARS. So I had a half inch of bangs in the middle of my forehead from first through fourth grades. I still remember being REALLY MAD at my mom for making me hairspray them back for my third grade class picture.




ladybug, princess, bunny, 1988

So I guess my self-styling instincts will always steer me in the right direction, eh?

Green, as requested

You probably thought I forgot about how way back in March, I put up a poll about what color Converse I should buy next. And I promised to buy the color that won the poll.

green, number seven

A strange shade of green called “cilantro green” ended up winning the poll, and I was actually surprised, because green isn’t ever a color that I gravitate toward. And I was all set to buy them, except … they were sold out in my size. And so were the second and third place colors, pink and turquoise. I wasn’t sure what to do, and I tried to find cilantro green in other stores, but it was only available at Delia’s. I figured it would eventually come back in stock, and have been checking probably once a week since, well, March. It just never happened.

I'm not sure I can be stopped at this point.

Since I obviously overthink this addiction, I contemplated re-polling to see if I should just buy green chucks, or wait and see if cilantro green came back in stock. And asked Dan waaaay too often if I should just buy green, and he’d say “Sure” and then I’d say “yeah but the internet voted for CILANTRO green.”


I was headed to the Converse outlet on Saturday afternoon to replace my black chucks, which have long passed the stinky phase and really needed to be replaced. And just bought the green ones before I could overthink it for any more months. So now I have seven different colors, and while that probably makes me a bit crazy, I am pretty damn happy about it.

74.365 :: green

Progress Report

I just realized that the 21st is next week, meaning that my 30th birthday is now almost exactly three months away. And I haven’t even looked at my 30 Before 30 list in … a while. I’m starting to run out of time. I have gotten a few things done so far, but there are way too many things left on this list, things that I need to get started on if I want to have a good showing this year. (One’s self-imposed rules are STRICT, yo. I wouldn’t want to get in trouble for not following them!)

There are a few things on the list that have to wait until the weather gets (significantly) warmer, namely: go swimming (#3), spend at least one day at the beach (#17), go on a picnic (#18), and play with sparklers (#19). I have some plans in mind for #22 (get a tattoo), and that will (hopefully) happen sometime closer to my birthday.

I’m sort of disappointed in myself that I haven’t worked harder on taking photos of my Converse collection (#2), shooting more film (#5), or consuming beer samplers (#30). So I’m definitely going to make those a priority, because what’s more important than sneakers, film, and beer, really?

I know that I probably won’t end up hanging anything on the blank walls in my bedroom and living room (#15) because I’m moving in July (!) and it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to do that with so little time left here. But garlands and/or paper flowers (#12) are easy and simple, so maybe I can make that one of my Handmade52 projects.

As for the rest of the list… there seem to be a few items that are easy to work on now. I will have to clean out the Black Hole Closet (#20) and pare down my clothes (#8) in preparation for packing up the place, anyway, and maybe I can work on that next week while I’m off. And I think that making pizza (#6) and baking something just for me, just because (#29) will both be simple ways I can cheer myself up over the next few weeks. Getting to Harold’s (#26) should be easy, I mean, all I have to do is make it happen, and maybe I can get some friends to join me for that, too. (Although I’m sure my dad wouldn’t want to pass it up, either!) And really, it’s kind of ridiculous that I haven’t yet made a book of my Project365 photos (#21), considering the fact that I’ve been meaning to do that since I finished round 1 in the fall of 2007. Making a flickr set of my favorites is the easiest way to start, and I don’t think I have any excuses anymore.

But one thing I wanted to ask you guys, though, is about #27. Any ideas for something completely touristy? It would, of course, probably end up being a photo excursion… but I’m just not sure what I want to do for this one.

Week Eight: Linoleum Prints

This particular crafty adventure has been in the works since way back in December when I revealed my linoleum-printed holiday cards. Pookie and Schnookie and I have been joking for a while about trying lots of new things until we stumble upon what will lead us to internet crafty millionaire-dom. They’ve been pondering all sorts of things and I love papercrafts, and we decided to plan a Craft Spectacular Day to start from the beginning and try linoleum printing together.

We settled on Presidents Day, because all three of us had off for the long weekend. We spent a while browsing online for supplies, and each of us bought a few linoleum blocks, a carving tool set, a roller, and some paint. I supplied the endless paper (I used this event as an excuse to buy a pound of scraps at the craft store last week, and boy was THAT a treat) and pencils and tracing paper.

The only hitch in the plan that day was that there was some sort of water main break at my apartment complex, so I hadn’t had water since the late morning. But we figured it would be back in a few hours and got started anyway.

I think the hardest part for all of us at the beginning (okay, well, all day) was trying to figure out what to carve. It’s hard to be very precise on the linoleum, so you’re trying to think of something that would be easy to carve but not boring at the same time. The basic method is to draw your design on tracing paper, flip the tracing paper over onto the linoleum block, and rub the back of the tracing paper so the pencil lines transfer (backwards) onto the linoleum. We then floundered a bit with whether we were carving the positive or negative image, too.


The blocks are super hard, so you need a lot of pressure to carve out the designs. I was busy telling them about how my mom had warned me to be super careful while carving, because the carving tools are reeeeally sharp, and maybe she thought we should wear gloves on her left hand… and that’s right about when my right hand slipped and I jabbed the damn carving tool right into my left pointer finger. And my water was still off. And it was bleeding. And my mom TOLD ME SO.

the injury

We all laughed heartily about that for a while, or I pretended to laugh heartily to disguise how much my hands were shaking, and how afraid I was to actually look at the wound, and Pookie and Schnookie looked at me shifty-eyed and asked if we needed to go get me stitches. Then they made me eat cookies. It turned out to be not too bad, other than the holy crap that hurts factor, and the I can’t believe I stabbed myself during crafts factor. But my dad had put together a pretty serious first aid kit when I moved into my first apartment, so I had lots of bandaging materials.

first print

At this point we had just started printing with our first blocks, and were pretty excited about the results. I, naturally, stuck with super boring stripes, but Pookie carved a masterful strawberry, and Schnookie made a spool of thread which was intense. And the prints? Especially on my array of colored paper? Are SO cool!

We did that for a while and then broke for the almost-as-important trip to Pete and Elda’s portion of the day. I also really, really needed to use the bathroom (still no water) and was concerned about not having really washed my wound yet. So we did all of that, and ate a surprisingly large amount of pizza and drank a bunch of beer (to fuel the crafts). And I thought, as I do every time I am there, that I need to set up some sort of rotation so that I can get myself to Pete and Elda’s on a more frequent basis.

that beer tasted SO good.


We then went back to my apartment and started carving new blocks, trying to be more creative or correct the mistakes that we made the first time around. (Or, you know, not stab oneself in the process). We also had some rubbery looking blocks (they looked and smelled like gigantic art erasers) that we used the second time around, and these were much easier to carve but seem to be a little more flimsy. So I think the idea is that you use the hard gray blocks if you want to keep the block and reuse it again and again, while you use the easier to carve blocks for more intricate designs that you don’t need to keep? (Going back to the gray blocks after the ez-carve ones was IMPOSSIBLE.)

more stripes

our masterpieces


So we had a day of crafts, pizza, beer, and hilarity. And we made some really cool cards in the process. I think next time I carve linoleum, I will think a little more in advance about what I want to make in the end (which will, let’s face it, be stripes because I both cannot draw and am unoriginal). But really, this was just an awesome time all around. (And I didn’t need stitches.)

Week Three: Freezer Burritos

I’m not sure anyone who’s out there reading this will be shocked when I say that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to burritos. So this week I tried an experiment, namely making a whole bunch of burritos and then freezing them for future lunches and dinners. My brother stopped by while I was still cooking (or, just as the smoke started pouring out of the microwave, but more on that later), and simply didn’t believe that I have never made my own burritos before. “But you like them so much, why wouldn’t you just make them yourself?” And I could only answer feebly, “Because Chipotle already does it perfectly?”

I found this Everyday Food recipe a few weeks ago and immediately printed it out. It seemed very easy, and bean burritos are my favorite anyway. Plus, I’m enough of a beginner that I need instructions for freezing and then subsequently reheating food to be spelled out for me line by line.

I set out to make these on Tuesday night, and it sort of started off badly and continued downhill. I didn’t calculate ahead of time that I had not bought the quick kind of brown rice, nor did I make anywhere near enough. Luckily, the long cooking time for the rice gave my slow ass time to chop the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. (Disaster number two: thinking that because jalapenos aren’t that hot, I didn’t need to pay attention to my hands and touching my eyes. Idiot.) Anyway, basically, you get the onions, garlic and peppers cooking, add the tomato paste (I’m still not sure I am happy about this addition; it totally overpowered everything) and beans, and cook until everything gets nice and combined.

Meanwhile, I decided to cook more rice, but in the microwave this time, because I didn’t want to use the same pot on the stove again? I really don’t know. I thought it would be quicker somehow, and something went wrong somewhere, because even though it still should have been way short on cooking time, in the amount of time it took me to let my brother in (and for him to help me carry my new desk into the apartment), the microwave was smoking, the rice blackened, and the tupperware warped and melted. (My apartment still smelled like burning the next day).

handmade52.3 freezer burritos

At this point it was almost 9pm and I was starting to lose interest in ever eating these burritos… but my brother convinced me to snap out of it and I wrapped them all up and ate one, too.

bean burrito

And it was pretty tasty, all told. The flavors had a lot of time to combine, and it wasn’t too liquidy, so it didn’t ooze too much.


I’m glad that I have seven future meals all ready to go, but this whole experience has definitely broken a bit of that whole MustFollowRecipe rule-following internal strictness, because the recipe? Made a decent burrito. But the way I’d make a burrito myself (rice, black beans, peppers and onions, salsa, cheese, sour cream and/or guacamole if I’m feeling indulgent) would have been better. And I can still make them ahead and freeze them.

Say it with me now: DUH.

The Power of the Internet

So a pretty awesome thing happened this week, awesome enough that I have to tell you about it. I have been looking forward to the fall installment of ‘Roid Week, now that I have a polaroid camera of my own, and I’ve (sort of) gotten past my fear of actually using it. Polaroid week only comes around twice a year, and after following along, I was really jazzed about getting to participate.

Except … my un-airconditioned apartment pretty much ruined my Silver Shade film from the Impossible Project. Or, the combined powers of my fear of doing the wrong thing and the extreme sensitivity to temperature of the film itself combined to ruin the film. But I didn’t find this out until the start of this week, when I took a few pictures and they turned out like this:

hot apartment + silver shade = ruined film

And while the swirls are actually really interesting in their own right, I was bummed. And I said so on twitter, just because I was so disappointed. I was shocked when I got a reply from the Impossible Project itself, telling me to call their store in NYC, because they could help me out. For real?

ten, slightly blurry

Yes, for real. I talked to Anne, who was super nice, and offered to send me a new pack, and quickly, in the hopes that I could still participate in Polaroid Week after all. This is the kind of amazing (completely unexpected) customer service that you hear about, but don’t really ever experience. I mean, I sort of ruined the film by my own stupidity (or lack of knowledge, perhaps…) so getting another chance was kind of the last thing I expected. I came home to a box from the Impossible Project Space in NYC last night, and was shocked again, because it contained not one but two packs! (They duplicated my original order, which was for two packs, and I’m sooo happy, because I can’t imagine my second pack escaped the swirly chemical fate of the first one.)

e E, just barely

So I just wanted to say thank you HUGELY to Anne and the Impossible Project and their general awesomeness. I mean, they were awesome before.. but it just goes to show how the internet can be a pretty wonderful place.

The Countdown

When I was a kid, I used to have what might be called annual birthday freakouts. If you were being nice. I think that somehow my streak of sentimentality combined with my love of order and numbers and things being just so and my incredible talent for thinking entirely too much created this monster. This little girl monster who would get a little thrill each month on the 21st and count months on her fingers, and who would turn the weeks leading up to her birthday into a veritable countdown of extremely significant events.

“This is the last time I’ll ever ride my bike to town while I’m 11!”
“I won’t ever eat ice cream as a non-teenager again!”

While I have largely grown out of this annual birthday freaking out, milestone birthdays give me a little shiver all the same. I avoided it entirely on my 25th birthday, because two of my great friends got married the day after, so my birthday was spent running errands and eating meals and celebrating at a rehearsal dinner at which they actually sang to me which was so crazy sweet. I don’t really remember 20, but 21 was a big one, a big one that contained the distractions of everyone other than me being drunk and thus needing care.

But my birthday is coming around again, in a little more than a month and a half, and it has me thinking about the remaining items on my 28 To Do List. (Still achievable: baking cupcakes, spending time outside (and lying in the grass), working toward a rainbow of shoes, and finishing the list of 365 things that make me happy.) So I’m feeling pretty awesome about that, and starting to gather materials to work on the book to document the list.

I’m not sure, though, what to do about a list of things to do while I’m 29. Will that bring on a “holy crap I’m turning 30 and what have I done with my life” birthday freakout? Will it give me 29 reasons to FIGHT the birthday freakout that is so damn cliched that it annoys me to even think about it? Am I totally jumping the gun seeing as how I’m not even 29 yet? Does the fact that my boyfriend’s birthday is a few days before mine, and he’s enough years older than me to be hitting his own milestone age mean that my birthday freakouts are even more totally ridiculous?

I don’t know. But I have a few ideas for next year’s list brewing, so maybe I’ll keep at it. Not having a list after two years of having one might give me hives anyway.

Organizing Makes Me Kind of Happy

During that last crazy snowstorm, I spent a lot of time bouncing off the walls of my apartment. I had a Wednesday evening to myself, then all of Thursday and most of Friday off thanks to the snow. The problem was that I ran out of things to do. I’m not currently working on any crafts, I painted my nails the first night, and my dvr was mostly empty by Thursday. So Thursday evening I sat and stared at my craft bookcase and pondered how I could organize it more efficiently. I mean, it wasn’t necessary to reinvent the wheel, but organizing soothes me in a way that I couldn’t possibly explain without sounding like a nutcase.

March 9, 2010

After collecting the boxes and baskets and organizey things from Target, Staples, and the Container Store, I finally have it all set up exactly how I imagined. And I’m pretty psyched about how it turned out. Here are the before and after shots:

Picnik collage

This is where it all started: the binder with clear protective sheets. Each sheet holds either scraps of paper organized by color or sheets of labels. Geeky? Perhaps. More efficient than a giant pile of mismatched paper? Totally.

sorted by color, just the way I like it

I wanted a better way to organize the notecard sets, index cards, old daytimer pages, and other similarly-sized stacks of blank paper I’ve been stockpiling. So I got a photo box and then some 5×8 index card divider tabs. Of course, if I had gone to Staples first I might have bought an index card box and then I wouldn’t have needed to cut those 5×8 dividers to fit into the photo box, but I stand by my choice because I doubt the index card box would have been hot pink. I also put my shipping tags and the deck of cards I use for crafts in the back to keep the box orderly.

man, I love organizing things

My full-sized 12×12 scrapbook paper posed one of the bigger dilemmas as I took on this project, because I really wanted a nice box to store it all. I used to just keep it in a giant pile on one of the shelves. The Container Store sells these boxes meant for legal sized documents, and the short side is 12 1/4″ wide. Which fits most scrapbook paper but not all, because some of the sheets have this little strip for the barcode and brand information. But it’s good enough. My nitpicking has a limit, people. So this box stores the bigger sheets of paper, my clipboard, some stray felt, my graph paper pad, and the box of transparency sheets I took from the library because they were going to throw it away.

close enough

This plastic bin holds the supplies that don’t fit the other categories: paint, binder rings, safety pins, and a couple extra things I’ve bought for crafts that I still haven’t gotten to. These would be really good to buy in bulk, because of how nicely they stack. And how crazy cheap they were compared to most of the bins and boxes at the Container Store.

paints and such

Last of all, I wanted a smaller box that would hold the supplies I use most frequently: the tape, glue, glue sticks, stamps, and punches and corner-rounders. And I wanted it to be prettier than that clear plastic bin. I originally ordered one from the Container Store, but my inability to visualize measurements backfired, because that original bin was GIGANTIC. So I sent it back and found this one at Target, which I somehow missed on the previous trip. It’s perfect.

the last piece of the puzzle

All in all, this was a really satisfying project on a small enough scale that I could tackle it very easily. Just don’t ask what my closets look like, and instead enjoy my overly organized ridiculousness for now.

Confessions Three

(Confessions One) (Confessions Two)

  • As a music fan, I feel like I am incorrect somehow because I don’t like Radiohead. Or Pink Floyd. (And don’t even get me started on the NJ superstars of music.)
  • My favorite pasta shape is rigatoni. Because I secretly love spaghetti best, but am embarrassed to eat it in public because I still cut my spaghetti.
  • I listen to AM news radio almost always in the car. As a twenty-something, this makes me feel like I’m rushing the aging process. But I like to know what the weather will be. Every ten minutes. Because sometimes I forget to listen the first time. (Sometimes I do listen to sports radio, but this is much less frequent during the baseball off-season.)
  • I strongly prefer meals that can be eaten out of bowls.
  • I’m still not interested in learning how to cook meat. Unless it can be mixed in with rice, chili, pasta or other such stew and I don’t have to touch it or do anything to it beyond stirring. And I can eat it out of a bowl.
  • Piles on desks and tables bring out my compulsive need to straighten said piles. In a department meeting last week I was strongly tempted to line my boss’s inbox tray to be parallel to the corner edges of her desk. I refrained. It was hard. I straighten piles in stores, often without realizing it until afterwards.
  • I drink too much diet coke. I don’t buy it for my apartment, thinking I’ll drink it less if I don’t have it, but that just leads to buying it in 20 ounce bottles when I’m out.
  • I still look at the pictures from my car accident sometimes. To remind me that I’m so lucky.
  • I spent a lot of time thinking philosophically about shoes. Like, if I were going to spend $300 on a perfect pair of Frye boots. which pair would I get? Or what my shoe “style” should be. Am I casual and funky? Brightly colored? Converse all the time? Should I transition to wearing cool heels with jeans and blazers now that I’m an “adult”?