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Search Results for: otto
I love myself some rummage-and-cook food. I have a bunch of great cookbooks, but I never use them, because I’m in and endless loop of trying to use up the ingredients from a former recipe, and then trying to use up the ingredients from that recipe.
This time, I took it a little far. You see, I had a 30 rack of Coors Light in my fridge left over from a party. I hardly ever drink beer, and my roommate hates the stuff. I happened to be looking for a good recipe to use up some leftover items, and found a risotto recipe. Risotto is a great rummage-and-cook item. You can put anything in there and it will taste awesome, especially if you top it with truffle oil.
The recipe called for chicken stock, which I never keep on hand and which also goes bad after a week. Having read that you can cook rice in beer, I thought, “Hmm, does Coors Light count as beer?”
Thus was born Rich Frat Boy Risotto. The name comes from it being cooked in watery beer and topped with truffle oil. I’ve adapted this recipe to suit my taste, substituting cheaper veggie Italian-style sausage for regular sausage.
As a bonus, you can find almost all of these ingredients–save for the olive oil, Coors, arborio rice and truffle oil–at your local farmers market.
Surprisingly, it’s delicious, creamy and … rich. I hope you enjoy!
Note: Any beer will do. If you would rather make Trust-Fund Hipster Risotto, PBR or Brooklyn Lager will work too!
Rich Frat Boy Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound veggie Italian-style sweet sausage, crumbled into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped out, caps diced
10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 cups Madeira (or another red wine you have on hand)
6 cups Coors Light or any other leftover beer you have on hand
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups arborio rice or other medium-grain rice (about 13 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
Black truffle oil
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add all mushrooms, thyme, and oregano and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup Madeira; boil until almost absorbed, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Bring beer to simmer in large saucepan; remove from heat and cover to keep hot. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup Madeira; simmer until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup hot beer; simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more beer by cupfuls, stirring often and allowing most beer to be absorbed before adding more, about 25 minutes. Stir in sausage mixture. Top with grated cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
I can be very specific about what I’m looking for, which doesn’t let itself well to green fashion, especially when it comes to bags.
I have canvas bags, I have not-green-at-all leather purses, an upcycled shoulder purse from The Sway that I adore, and I have a vegan, faux leather Cornelia Guest bag that is already losing rivets despite its $150 price tag.
But what I really want is a big, work-appropriate bag that can store my laptop and hits the sweet spot between super-green, well-made and “hot damn!” You know, the kind of bag you imagine your 35-year-old-editor self carrying on her way to meet a celebrity for an interview.
Actually, I found a few. roztayger.com has a carefully “curated collection” of beautiful and functional bags that murmur, “I’m holding a few contracts that will be revealed in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow. Just wait … ”
Not all are eco-friendly. But there are some that are hand-made, vegetable dyed and lined with organic cotton. Sounds good to me. My faves follow (in New Yorker black, bien sur):
Midnight Flea Bag
Fleabags strives to create products that are as green as possible while maintaining high quality and covetable design. They are made with organic and vintage materials, vegetable-tanned and re-purposed leathers, and USA-made parts. All silkscreens use water-based ink. They are fabricated in they NYC area, in Limited Edition, by hand, in small production runs.
Tote Bag by Bonastre
Handcrafted in Spain and designed by Parisian based designer Fernando Bonastre, this environmentally friendly bag is handcrafted using natural, non-treated cattle hides in accordance with ancient vegetable processes (based on oak bark and olive oil finishing, versus the commonly used but highly contaminating chromium tanning).
Large Vene Purse by Samuji
This oversized clutch is made of Italian leather and lined in organic cotton. Samuji is a women’s clothing and accessories line designed by the namesake creative studio based in Helsinki, Finland. It was founded in 2009 by Samu-Jussi Koski, the former creative director of Marimekko textile house. The Samuji accessories collection featured at roztayger is permanent and timeless and not based on seasonal fluctuations. Samuji’s ambition is to produce timeless and sustainable design that serves a purpose yet tells a story. All items are crafted from premium quality materials from European and Japanese suppliers and produced in Europe by carefully selected manufacturers who insist on the highest quality and ethicality.
I’ve been listening to this (admittedly a couple years old) mix on repeat. So good. Listen:
Rivet Book Bag by Frrry
The Rivet Book bag in the “rivet” series by Frrry is made of Italian veggie dyed leather and is designed and assembled in the Netherlands.
Forget the necklace made out of rolled-up paper and the purse crafted from discarded soda pop tabs.
All the best designers and artists are going the eco-friendly route. Behold: a gift for everyone on your list. Each is so cool and stylish, you can keep the fact that it’s fair trade/sustainable/eco-friendly/guilt-free to yourself.
They don’t have to know.
This peach and cream number is so classy and pretty that it could work for almost any woman’s style. Handwoven from 100% linen, it supports Indian artisans seeking economic quality. The designer, Global Goods, is a non-profit that does good work all over the world.
$45 at LivLuna.
You’ll never get the right record for your music-connoisseur bf. (He would never tell you that, you’ll just figure it out when he never plays it.) But he can’t argue with this reclaimed record iPhone skin from Brooklyn-based Wrecords by Monkey. Best of all, it comes in both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 size. (Score extra points by pairing it with the new book Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon, full of insider references to the soul and funk greats and sporting a record cover.)
$14 at Wrecords by Monkey.
For Your Preggers Friend
Just because she’s carrying around an
alien adorable little baby inside her doesn’t mean she can live without some pampering. Stuff her stocking full of toxin-free nail polish (which Well+Good helpfully lists), and slip in a gift certificate to Sweet Lily Nail Spa in SoHo.
She won’t care that the flannel of this robe is 100% organic cotton, just that it’s super soft, in ladylike color and flattering shape.
Aw, she’s growing up so fast! Help her keep time with a surprisingly affordable sustainably-made watch made from corn resin, organic cotton, and bamboo, outfitted with a mercury-free battery.
$30 at Sprout
She lives in Brooklyn, her fridge is filled with artisanal cheese and jam, and her Spotify list is a treasure trove of indie bands. Give a necklace that will get her compliments all night long at the warehouse party and make her feel like a badass. It’s made of cruelty-free porcupine quills, turquoise howlite, bullet casing and a vintage brass chain. BONUS: Get 10% off with the code SHOPHEARTS10! (Expires 1/1/13)
$148 at Hearts
He’s a class act with impeccable taste. And with any luck, he’ll pour you a glass of this Brooklyn-made bourbon for a toast to your awesomeness as a daughter.
Find a list of liquor stores that carry it at the Kings County Distillery website.
Even if she hates cooking, she’ll still want to display these Portland-made measuring spoons in her kitchen.
$30 at Alder & Co.
Up until a few months ago, I was one of those people who was like, “Nah, I don’t care about the lottery.”
But like many people (and probably you, admit it. Go on, say it!) I secretly harbored a little fantasy of $550 million falling into my lap. I had vague fantasies of fun times. Quitting my job! Traveling the world! Grabbing the first sales associate I see at Bergdorfs and making her day. “Hey, get your coworkers. I need helping spending a couple million on clothes.”
And then, I read this sad, sad story, of Jack Whittaker, whose lotto winning turned into robberies, strip club madness, his wife leaving him and even the death by overdose of his granddaughter. Yes, his winnings turned his granddaughter into, quite literally, a crackhead. If that’s not the opposite of happily ever after, I don’t know what is.
Of course, you read these stories of people living in trailer homes from West Virginia who suddenly strike it rich, and you think, Well, they have no idea what to do with that money. Me, I’m classy. I would be so much smarter. I would get a financial advisor, and donate to charity …
Maybe. Maybe not. Once I thought harder, I realized how utterly useless $550 million would be to me. Indulge me in this thought experiment:
Let’s say I win tonight. (Not likely, since I didn’t buy a ticket, but OK, for the sake of argument and fantasy.)
First, I need to get my butt on the phone to AT&T and change my number, the one I’ve had since 2002, so I don’t get hit up by every person I’ve ever met. And believe me, they will call. Not only because I won the lottery, but my name is so unique that literally every person who has “Alden” in their phone–from that dude I went on a date with junior year of high school to the neighbor I met during the blackout–will be blowing up my phone, asking for money. I mean, I already have a wayward aunt trying to get my mom to loan her money in the tens of thousands. And we’re not even rich!
Next, I’ll need to shut down my Facebook. A crying shame, since I love that thing. I get my party invitations and keep up with my friends a remarkable amount via Facebook. You know, in a healthy way. But of course, I’ll be so popular, it won’t matter, right? Twitter will also be rendered useless. And blogging on this little blog seems silly now, not to mention sort of dangerous. If say I want to go to whatever event, people will show up, looking for me.
Let’s say, next, that I email my editor and give her two weeks notice. Bye bye! No more work! I wouldn’t actually want to to that, because I enjoy my job and value my career. If I didn’t, I would be working in something far more lucrative than editorial, believe me. But if I did quit …
I decide to head out, as usual, for Thursday happy hour and celebrate. I show up at Pianos, order a frozen margarita, hang out, cheer with all my friends … and when the check come, everyone holds their breath. I’m a millionaire! I can afford it, obviously. So I throw down my credit card. But honestly, you think anyone I’m with will ever want to pay for their own damn drinks ever again? No. They’re struggling to pay their credit cards on their own tiny salary, so it’s really crappy of me not pick up the check. More and more people start hanging out as the weekends pass, knowing they could get a free ride. I get pissy, because I’m not paying for Random French Dude’s drink and, “Hey, I don’t even know him! Who invited him?!” and suddenly the mood is ruined.
Now I need to decide how to entertain myself with all that gobs of money. Vacation? Great! But first … hmm, I’ll want to go with someone. So I need to find someone who can take, I dunno, six weeks’ vacation, and travel to Thailand with me. That’s a hard sell. They probably won’t be able to afford it either, especially since I don’t roll with many rich people. So I would have to bank roll their trip. Now things are getting weird. On this trip I want to ride an elephant. Whatever friend I managed to find to go with me doesn’t. I tell her tough shit, I paid for you to come here! I want to ride, we ride. Now I’m turning into an entitled bitch.
I also want to hit up Saks like I’m a Kardashian. So I do, I outfit myself in Stella McCartney from head to toe, get a blow out, manicure and professional makeup done. And … where do I go all dressed up? All my friends are at work. So I go, by myself, to the Plaza Hotel because I guess that’s where rich people hang out, and drink a gin tonic by myself until some random guy picks me up. If I do meet up with my girl friends, they feel all awkward because I’m wearing $15,000 of clothing and beauty services, and they’re not. Now I feel bad, and I’m like, “Hey! Let’s go to the spa. On me!” But the friendship is kind of ruined now, because they feel beholden to me whenever I spend on them, but they can’t afford the things I can. I have to treat if I want to grab something at ABC Kitchen, which by the way, is getting very boring and not-so-special anymore. So I need to make new friends.
I’m not working now, so I’m bored and I have no reason not to party every night–which I do by throwing massive ragers in my penthouse apartment, which is in a semi-permanent state of being trashed to the extent that my two cleaning ladies can hardly keep up. I’m always hung over, I feel sort of worthless, my life has ceased to have meaning and my dating life sucks because I’m convinced no guy likes me for me, he just wants to party all the time with me.
Does any of this sound like it’s fun to you? It doesn’t to me. And this isn’t just me being neurotic. The Atlantic ran a fascinating article a couple years ago that dove into the minds of the super wealthy. In short, they aren’t happy. These are people who are supposedly classy, who earned their wealth, who manage it wisely. But they fear everyone is after them for their money. So they only hang out with other wealthy people, who make them feel poor in comparison because their yacht is slightly bigger, or whatever. It’s a vicious cycle–a hamster wheel of net worth.
So, to summarize:
I don’t want to win the lottery because I’m actually really happy with my life right now, I enjoy my work, I like my friends and I want to continue to have goals to strive for.
But hey, good luck winning the lottery in 10 minutes. I’m sure it will solve allll your problems.
Do You Agree? Tell me in the comments!
Image credit: Flickr/Kelly Michelle
I am certainly not the first to fall in love with ABC Carpet & Home. In fact, my own mother has been wandering the several floors of sumptuous rugs and carpets since she lived in New York in the 70s. I myself remember visiting during my first time in New York when I was 12. It was almost as important as my first Broadway show or brunch at the Plaza. I wandered around the giant showroom floor, fingering exotic pillows and getting caught up my mother’s excitement as she gasped and sighed over weighty embroidered fabrics and delicate furniture.
ABC has only improved since then under the direction of Paulette Cole, most notably through its graceful evolution into a conscious retailer and the addition of a restaurant that refines farm-to-table dining into an haute art. In fact, let’s start there, with the delicious part.
Dan Kluger and I at ABC Kitchen in March
If you are fortunate enough to get a reservation at ABC Kitchen (it’s only gotten harder since Obama held his $35,800-a-plate fundraiser there) you will be beguiled as soon as you walk in the door. The color scheme is a sort of shimmering, rustic white evoking a snowy wood. Once you’re seated, flip over the seasonal menu and observe the exhaustive listing of exactly where all your organic, local food comes from, and even where the furnishings, art and place settings come from too–all local artisans. (And then go buy it in the home store.)
I was lucky enough to visit twice. Once, with a large group of family and friends whose opinions were split on the merit of the chocolate bacon dessert, but unequivocally loved everything else. The second time I came in with a friend who is big on the food scene a couple days before Obama’s fundraiser in March. Head chef Dan Kluger, credited with bringing his expertise on local food to the Jean-George masthead, was nice enough to take a seat at our table after he was done in the kitchen for the night. I was starstruck. (It doesn’t take much.)
But you don’t have to settle for just a chef if you’re looking for famous faces. ABC Kitchen also caters to the rich and famous set, including supermodels, artists like Adele and, of course, President Obama. The food, (ah, yes, the food, of course) takes advantage of the nearby Greenmarket. Whatever food is left over you’ll see in compost bins outside the next morning.
Even if you can’t afford a meal at ABC Kitchen, you can set the bar a little lower and dine under the panoply of chandeliers at adjoining Pipa for tapas, or even just get coffee or a quick lunch at Au Bon Pain, the affordable organic franchised cafe nestled into the side and opening straight into the store.
When you’re done enjoying a light salad and sparkling water there, walk straight back into ABC Home. Give yourself at least an hour. The first floor is artfully arranged into vignettes of pretty yet quirky place settings, organic makeup and skin care, scented candles, lots and lots of Buddhas, more chandeliers, fanciful throw pillows, stuffed children’s toys and much, much more. (Wasp nests stuffed with purple crystals anyone? Sounds ridiculous, but somehow I want it.)
It even has a jewelry counter stocked with delicate jewelry fashioned from conflict-free, rough diamonds and reclaimed metals that fit in with the rest of the store aesthetic: out of the ordinary while still tasteful. Prices on this floor range from $15 for a tiny vial necklace to hundreds for pillows and thousands for the diamond jewelry and Asian art. Overall, ABC is very expensive, yes. But you can always find something to suit your budget.
I am personally the proud owner of two handcrafted ottomans, matching throw pillows, a necklace, a ring and fair trade, organic argan oil, all from ABC Home.
Once you head up to the to the upper levels, you’re in the serious business of furniture. People always seem to describe ABC Home along the lines of wandering into a well-traveled aunt’s home. I would say, think younger. How about a young, childless couple who tends to throw chic dinner parties at their huge rustic dining room table where they discuss current policy with great minds, before repairing to the living room over organic cocktails made with local bitters. Fine. Perhaps I am projecting my dream life onto ABC, but visit and tell me if you disagree. I didn’t think so.
And the best part? Every piece of furniture is labeled with its sustainable credentials like cruelty-free, organic, goodwood, local economy and many other feel-good designations.
Other things to know and love: The original carpet and rug store across the street is worth a visit. Or sign up for the email list for events at Deepak Homebase in the back above ABC Kitchen, which hosts conversations with notables like Arianna Huffington and Mark Ruffalo about current events and culture.
If you’re more into worldly than spiritual goods, then you can also make the trek up to ABC’s outlet in the Bronx for some deals (a car may be required). I have not been, but is reviewed nicely on Yelp, if you believe what people say there.
So, ABC. You have delicious food, home goods and even an event forum for sustainable and spiritual discussions. I have only one more request:
Do a hotel next?
A year ago exactly, I was fresh from a breakup involving a lot of yelling, and crashing at my best friend’s apartment in Murray Hill. I needed to find an apartment fast.
I wanted a place I could call all my own, something with charm–even if it was dilapidated charm. I wanted a place, as I told my friends, “Where I don’t have to deal with roommates, and I don’t have to move out until I get back from my honeymoon!”
Well, I was charmed as soon as the broker opened the little iron gate to the mini courtyard. Charmed as we walked up the staircase with the raw brick wall and framed black and white photos of Union Square and the building right after it was built in the twenties, with what looks like a Model T out front.
I was charmed when she showed me into this studio. It had a little non-working marble fireplace, a bathroom with turquoise tile, a kitchen that was small, yes, but decent with the addition of a butchers block. It camed furnished with bland but not ugly Ikea furniture. This was great, as I was completely sans furniture and the idea of going out and finding new stuff made me feel tired. The ceilings were high, like, Parisian-apartment high. I looked out the window into the boughs of a leafy tree and the quiet street below. Finally, it was $100 less per month than the one-bedroom apartment below, which made it just barely affordable.
“I’ll take this one,” I told the broker.
My Castle in the Sky
Obviously, as a furnished apartment, it’s really meant for people living her for only six months or a year. But I quickly set about making it my own. After a little move-in mishap involved quinoa flour, sesame seeds and agave nectar all over the courtyard, I went to work like the daughter of an interior designer I am.
I dismantled the crappy desk and shoved the parts in the back of the closet, opting for a real wood secretary desk. I stripped the bed of the mustard colored provided linens and replaced them with organic patterned ones. I bought two sustainably-made ottoman cubes in custom fabric from ABC Home for the living space, and matching pillows. I made my mom cart our antique ice box up to new york to serve as a well-appointed liquor cabinet. I hung my artwork, bought rugs, pots and pans and a pot and pan wall holder. I painted an accent wall pink and hung Tibetan prayer flags on it like festive bunting. I turned this apartment into my home.
I threw parties, threw the murphy bed up to do yoga, leaned out the window to drop my keys down to visitors, cooked food in the little kitchen that I brought back from the farmers market in Unions Square, and read the New York Times on Saturday curled up on the couch wrapped in the t-shirt blanket my mom made for me. Friends crashed on the couch, bed and floor. This apartment has heard me laugh and cuss and–just twice–cry hysterically. And it made me feel like a grownup, like it gave me space to stretch out become the person I wanted to be.
I was lucky enough to report on a feng shui story for work, and the consultant agreed to take a look at my apartment. She instructed me to move some things around. “Single women” were to get out of my relationship area, so I moved pictures of my grandmother and mother to the other side. I hung my watercolor prints of stylized Barbies in gowns to my “fame” and “career” area and hung mementos of things that represented success for my blog in the corner. In my “wealth” corner, I put up pictures of friends, mementos of travel and foreign money. And my spirituality corner got a big overhaul. I bought a pretty print of a couple on a tandem bike and constructed Love artwork out of flower images from a gardening magazine for my “relationship” corner.
So did it work? Well, I did travel to see a friend. And then got roofied. I’ve been dating a lot, but none of the boys have bowled me over. And even though I hung an all metal wind chime at my door to block bad energy, the bad energy just started coming up through the floor.
About five months ago the attractive couple below me moved out (probably forced out for loud yelling and loud lovemaking, since that apartment is right above the landlord) and a new girl moved in straight from California. I stopped by and introduced myself to her, gave her my cell phone and told her that if she ever need anything, not to hesitate to text. (Big mistake.) I even invited her out with me one night. My friend A and I helped her choose a dress, and then left her to get dressed. When she came up a few minutes later, she said she could hear her name when we were talking about her. That was alarming, but I didn’t think about it much.
Then her texts started.
“Girly, could you turn down the music?” OK, fine. It’s 10 PM on a Sunday and I understand my bass box was above her bedroom. I turned it off, and moved my computer speakers and bass to the opposite side of the apartment and at the top of the murphy bed.
“R u in heels … waaaaahhh. I understand you like to try on shoes, but can you not wear them around the apartment?”
Fine. I started trying on my shoes and then taking them back off and placing them by the door until I left.
“Seriously girl, trying to pre-game nap. Please. Not trying to be a pain in the ass, but I have to go to sleep when u do, I wake up when u come home and throw your heels on the ground, in the am at 745 smashing the murphy bed up and down.”
I bought a rug. And stopped playing, getting-ready-to-go-out music.
One morning I ran into her leaving her apartment. “Why were you up at 6:45?” she said. “I couldn’t sleep! I could hear you opening and closing your drawers.” I hurried on to work after half-apologizing. (Sorry, not sorry. I have the right to open and close my drawers and get up WHENEVER I WANT.)
One Saturday I came home around three in the afternoon and threw on some music. Not loudly, just at a level that’s normal. My phone pinged. I tensed up, my blood pressure swooshing into action.
“Napping please! Music bass waah!”
I turned it down.
Two friends came to visit. We stopped by the farmers market for food for dinner, and puttered around the apartment, taking showers and cooking up dinner.
My phone pinged. “Please just sit down!! Waaah! For 3hours there is thuud trop. Thud move furniture, I’m trying to sleep.”
I read this and decided to ignore it. Nobody tells my friends and I to sit down when we’re just going about our normal business. I mean, really, can you think of anything more innocuous than frying up bluefish and making a beet salad? Plus, does this girl ever not sleep? Is she depressed or something? It’s a good thing I didn’t tell Crazy A, because she told me later that had she known, she would found some heavy objects and then climbed on a chair to drop them from on high.
The next weekend, I came home in the afternoon and put on some yoga music for an hour session on the mat. My phone pinged.
“Could you please lower the music? You have to know a volume I can hear and wake up to by now. Please. Stop being so selfish.”
I ignored her. Here’s my view, and comment if you think I’m wrong, but if you are in the habit of taking midday naps on the weekends in New York City, you should buy ear plugs, period. If I can’t play music at a normal level at 4pm on a weekend, when can I play music? Can I just not play music at all? More frustrating, I would leave my apartment where I had been tiptoeing around, cringing if a mug fell on the floor, and arrive at a friend’s apartment where the three-foot-tall speakers were thumping out drum and bass music. No problem from the neighbors whatsoever. I was not being selfish. I was walking on eggshells, rearranging my life to suit her. And still, she continued to harass me.
She complained to my landlord, and my landlord started making noises about not renewing my lease in August. I had planned on staying, but once I started thinking about it, I wondered if this was right for me. I’m paying a lot for the privilege of living alone. (And actually not really living alone, as the girl below me made abundantly clear.) And this beautiful apartment feels indulgent for someone who is just 25. I don’t feel like I deserve it, to be honest.
This Is Just too Good
So I decided to see what was out there, and threw up something on Facebook, saying I was looking for a roommate. Less than 12 hours later, I was communicating with dear friend of my dear friend. Let’s call her E. She:
- Is located five blocks away, still within walking distance of work and my dear Union Square farmers market
- Is looking for a roommate for a lease starting in August, when my lease runs out
- Keeps a fastidious apartment, with minimal but nice furniture and–to put it bluntly–free of random ugly crap
- Is really super nice and accommodating
- Has a serious boyfriend (hence she’ll be out of the apartment a lot)
The apartment has:
- Laundry on the same floor
- An expansive finished roof
E is even letting me help her redecorate the living room to suit my taste–actually she proposed we redecorate together.
Oh, and it is 66% of my current rent. Hallelujah, let’s go shopping. (The only drawback? I know have to tell people I live in Murray Hill. I’ve officially joined the hoards of Young Professionals.)
It seemed too perfect. Like the universe was telling me, “It’s time to move on now.”
Will I Regret This?
My current little apartment isn’t super luxurious. I’ve developed a system where if the water pressure sputters while I’m showering, I jump out of the water and count to forty, until the freezing water has passed. It’s poorly insulated and freezing in the winter. It has a murphy bed, which is just never cool unless I’m throwing it up to make room for beer pong. I have to carry my bike up and down three flights of stairs. I can buzz people in and I can’t even talk to them, since the intercom broke. It has zero amenities, except maybe an unfinished roof with no view that I’m pretty sure I’m not actually allowed to go up on. But this apartment is mine. And I’m sad to leave it behind.
I’m worried about having a roommate again. What if I’ve developed quirks? I can’t walk around naked anymore, leave the bathroom door open or arrive home at 3 AM, five people in tow. (I mean, I only did that twice, but it’s nice to know I can.)
It will be nice to say hi to someone at the end of the day, and share a bottle of wine. To cook up dinner and serve half to someone else instead of storing all of it to get thrown out later. But I also like knowing that if there are dishes in the sink, it’s my own damn fault and I’ll get to them when I get to them.
I guess I kind of like the idea of moving again, though. It’s a chance to clean out all my stuff, move things around and look at my life from a different angle. And this feels like the responsible thing to do.
I guess I just have faith in my ability to be happy in almost any situation. After all, people’s base line happiness is almost always the same despite outside circumstances, right? That’s what psychology says.
Of course, there’s an adjustment period.
I guess I’ll just have to check back in a year from now and tell you how it’s worked out.
What do you think? Am I seriously downgrading or is this a smart move?
As I write this, I’m trying to figure out how to position my laptop so that it doesn’t burn my already tender legs. I’m red from my hairline down my chest, around my bikini line and down the front of my legs. I’m damp all over because this cottage lacks air conditioning, even though I’m in nothing but a bikini. I’m trying to type in between chewing on a strawberry popsicle. Yes, I’m on vacation, and it feels so good.
Living lightly is never far from my mind, but it has weighed especially heavy on me while I’ve been here at Macatawa Bay in Michigan, right off of Lake Michigan. Evidence abounds of global warming. The lake is low this year because of pitiful snowfall this winter, leading to a pitiful snowpack and a pitiful amount of freshwater running down the rivers to the Great Lakes.
Crazy A, who’s hosting me and other friends here, says when she was young jeans and a sweater were standard, even in the summer. Now the sun is high and hot in the washed out sky. It feels like we’re at the Outer Banks, instead of at a latitude of 42 degrees. Yesterday it was exactly 100 degrees, excluding the humidity. That’s only near record highs, but it still doesn’t feel right.
We talk about all this and tsk tsk climate deniers, but it doesn’t stop us or the residents of Macatawa from frolicking on the waters, and I’m not talking about in canoes. On the Fourth of July we took her motor boat to watch fireworks, which is the best way to watch them. You’re on your own boat, away from the crowds, and the fireworks are practically on top of you.
And Thursday the four of us dropped Crazy A’s motorboat in the water and took it to pump $200 worth of fuel inside of it. That boat is thirsty, but $200 seemed like a lot. ”Why is it so expensive?” I asked the typically hot guy who was pumping it for us (All guys who do these summer resort jobs are tan, muscled and so great to look at). “We have to pay a lot in insurance to pump it over the water like this. Spilling it would cause a lot of environmental damage–more than spilling it on the ground. Then they can just scoop out that ground that is effected,” he told me. “But here it’s just in the water.”
So do I feel awesome about using this much gas cruising around in a small boat? No. But seriously, what am I going to do, say no? Yeah, just imagine that: “Sorry guys, I’m going to stay at the cabin since I don’t believe in using gas.” I might as well have just not come. When it’s 100 degrees outside, the best way to stay cool is to get out on the water with a breeze, only a step away from jumping in. And if my friends go, I am going.
We motored the boat slowly out the channel, past Big Red lighthouse (and also past a boat called “Moisture Missile,” seriously? You named your boat that??) and once we were into the waters of Lake Michigan, gunned it, flying over the waters along the coast until we found a spot where no one could see us but the sun, dropped anchor, stripped down to our bikini bottoms and dove into the clear, agate waters.
In between swims, we drank Summer Shandies, a local lemonade flavored beer, and lounged on the deck reading. I tried to position myself strategically, since the front of my body is so burned.
Non-Toxic Sunscreen: Effective or Just Annoying?
Before I left New York, I bought the least toxic sunscreen out there according to Good Guide: Badger Sport. A drawback is that it has the consistency of a soft clay, and leaves my skin white. So my friends have been calling it my “geisha paint” and “hippie clay.” I wouldn’t mind if it was effective–I’m now proud when it comes to protecting my skin. But despite never seeming to come off (it’s still in the crease of my elbow 24 hours after I put it on) I’ve been getting burned.
I might switch back to regular sunscreen today and see if I’m getting burned because I’m using nontoxic sunscreen, or because I’m am a super-white chick who hasn’t been in the sun for a year.
The Dune From Hell
After some time bobbing on the waves, Crazy A kicked the boat into gear again and we sidled up to an almost empty beach. It’s so far from any roads that it is almost only accessible by boat and very in shape people who are crazy enough to walk all the way down the beach. “So only rich people can get here?” I asked. “Well, even poor people have boats here, so no,” Crazy A told me. “Some people don’t even have cars in their driveways, just boats. They just tow their boats to the dock themselves.”
Our plan for this beach was to climb the dune that rises steeply up from the water. Crazy A has been doing this since she was a kid, and said it’s hard, but fun. You gotta get your exercise somehow, right? She threw four Shandies in her backpack cooler to drink at the top and we waded to the beach.
That dune was hot. Painfully hot. Our leisurely climb turned into a series of suicides, as we scampered as fast as we could until our feet couldn’t stand it anymore, then stopped and buried them in the sand to gain some measure of relief. Then, once we had caught our breath, we would scamper again. One friend gave up a third of the way up, and would show us her blisters later. But we kept going. We were going to reach the top, godamnit.
When we finally got there, we collapsed in the shade of a bush and pulled out our lemonade beers to drink. But A.D. had made the mistake of putting sunscreen on her face before leaving the boat. “Ow, ow, ow ow, that really hurts you guys,” she said, rubbing her eyes. “Don’t rub it,” Crazy A told her. “That will make it worse. Why don’t you pour some of the beer on your face to wash it off?” A.D. did so, and cried. “Holy shit! Worst advice ever!” and took off back down the hill to the fresh lake water with huge bounds. We watched her go. “That dune sucked,” I said to Crazy A. “Was it always this hot?”
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“No way, man,” she said. “I’ve climbed that so many times and it’s never been like that.” We finished our beers and ran back down the dune to the lake to cool off. We climbed on the boat, made sure A.D.’s eyes were now OK, and broke into our stash of snacks from the Holland farmers market: hard goat cheeses, white fish spread on fresh bread, kettle corn, dried fruit, raspberries and cherries. (I’ve also been eating a nut butter for breakfast I got at the market called pepita. It’s got flax, pumpkin, sunflower and hemp seeds, plus cinnamon and allspice. It’s very sweet and yummy and includes all your omega-3s, but it is three times the price of almond butter.)
Air Conditioning Optional
As guilty as I feel about the fun I’m having on Crazy A’s motorboat, I think I might be evening out my global warming karma by staying in this cottage without air conditioning. Sounds awful, right? Except this hundred-year old cottage is so well shaded by trees and the dune behind it that it never gets over 80 inside. And when you’re at the beach and all you’re wearing is a bikini and a pair of Soffe shorts all day, it doesn’t matter if you get a little sweaty.
Fun With Alternative Energy
Yesterday we WASPed out and decided to go sailing instead. We’ve been joking that there should be a .gif of my reaction when I found out Crazy A has an account at the Macatawa Bay Yacht club. I was holding my purse at her car as everyone walked away empty handed. “How will we pay for our drinks?” I asked. “[Crazy A] has an account at the yacht club,” A.D. said. I dropped my purse in the car, slammed the door, wiped my hands and marched off toward the club. Hello free rum runners!
But drinks would be for later. This time we went straight the boat parking lot (I’m sure there’s a better name for it, but that’s what it is) and Crazy A set about getting a little sailboat ready, rigging it up, tying knots and hooking things up with the mastery of an old hand. Neither A.D., K or I knew how to sail (I went to sailing camp about 16 years ago and that’s it) so Anna basically gave us a lesson.
It was a perfect day for sailing: a light breeze, and not too many motorboats creating wakes since it was a weekday. No, you can’t lounge on a sailboat–unless it’s one of those huge pleasure cruise ones that comes with a crew–but it’s a great kind of fun. When you’re skipping over the water, leaning back to balance the boat with a rope in hand keeping the jib taught, it’s a fabulous feeling. And no gas required.
It was Friday at 3pm. The office was emptying since it was a summer Friday. The apocalyptic thunder and lightning has ceased, the sun was out and save for a few stray puddles and drippy awnings, you couldn’t even tell it had rained. Fumes were flowing out of one of the conference rooms, since the tech guys though it was a good idea to paint a white board on one of the walls and then use a fan to blow the air out into the main room, even though the directions clearly called for respirator use while applying. It was time for me to get out of there and start my weekend.
And I had nothing to do.
I had zero plans. No brunch, dinner, drinks, parties, outings, walks, bike rides, visitors, dates or anything. It was almost like I was back in middle school, when the summer meant lying around and trying to find a way to occupy yourself. Remember that?
(OK, not entirely true. I had been invited to a birthday party, but none of my mutual friends could go and I didn’t want to go by myself to what would amount to an alma mater reunion. Bleh.)
Anyway, I decided it was do-everything-I’ve-been-meaning-to-do-and-have-been-complaining-about-not-doing weekend.
First up: Sewing!
Look, sewing is not for everyone. People who shouldn’t sew include:
- Busy executives who have lots of money to throw at tailors and expensive home boutiques
- Tall, thin girls who look good in anything they wear, right off the racks
- Somebody who thinks used clothing is for schmucks and likes to pay a lot for well-made items
I am neither. I am also:
- Very short. 5’2″ girls either need to shop in the petite section (Like Anne Taylor and Talbots. Ick.) or get things shortened
- Very into thrifting. You come across stuff that isn’t quite right. But with a little tweak here and there …
- Creative. That old beaded dress would look smashing as a throw pillow!
I also have juicy thighs. Or “bow legs” as a security guy once told me. He told me it means your feet don’t touch. Actually, my feet do touch, thanks. But my thighs are thick enough that I like buying things that should be dresses, cutting off the too-tight bottoms and tucking the raw hem into a skirt and calling it a top.
I finally decided I needed a sewing machine the day I took a new maxi skirt by eco L.A. brand Lavuk to the tailors and they told me it would cost $35. I’m sorry, $35? It’s a hem. It’s stupidly easy to do. I snatched it back and when I got to work immediately looked up “sewing machine” on Craigslist.
I few days later I was the proud owner of a Singer sewing machine. I had negotiated the former owner–a busy news reporter who lives in the West Village and obviously has money to throw at tailors–down to $100, which is pretty sweet.
Then I called up my grandmother and sweet talked her into sending me sewing supplies. My grandmother was an excellent seamstress back in the day. She made my sister and I the fluffiest, cutest bridesmaid dresses ever, along with other gorgeous gowns and Halloween costumes. But her eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so she said she would send me some things.
Boy, did she. Her haul arrived complete with a rainbow of threads–a lot of them vintage–two pinking shears, scissors, pins, measuring tape, an Asian pin cushion, and even some thimbles! Aw, thanks Nana!
I’m lucky that my mom took the time to teach me to sew when I was young. I even had a mini business of making recorder bags for my friends when I was in grade school, and worked at a monogram shop in high school. But I still benefited from a touch-up class at Third Ward last year.
My first project was hemming the maxi skirt. And it was a hot mess. It looked like I had done it drunkenly, while trying out every setting on the sewing machine. It zigzagged and then didn’t and the thread kept breaking. Plus I had made the hem way too wide, which meant the skirt was awkwardly short. Then I realized the woman who sold me the machine sold it to me with a roll stitch foot, which is like for silk scarves or something. So I had my mom send me a regular foot. Much better.
I tried again. This time, I pulled a vintage dress I got at Goodwill out of the closet. I’ve only worn it at really hipster-y events, and it’s not bad. A guy told me I looked sexy dancing in it then asked for my number. (We have our third date next week!) That’s a big compliment to the dress. But I really thought it could use a mullet hem. (Party in the front …)
Be aware that you can’t sew everything. Some things a plain old sewing machine can’t handle: Anything stretchy, netting, heavy denims like designer jeans or anything too delicate. But the great thing about this project is that it’s a cotton dress. All I had to do was cut the mullet hem and re-sew it. No patterns or fancy stuff required.
If you’ve never sewed, this is not a tutorial. Go take a class. But basically, sewing something goes like this:
2. Fold and iron the hem
3. Choose a matching thread and thread the machine
4. Sew it
5. Cuss at the machine until you realize you had the tension on too high
6. Fix the tension, finish sewing it
7. Feel really awesome that you actually sewed something!
I actually did end up doing something on Friday night. I grabbed dinner with a friend, and so I wore my new creation out. “Wow, that dress is so bright!” she said. It’s one of those compliments you’re not sure is a compliment. But I’m pretty happy with it. I even ripped out the seam on the maxi skirt and did it again, and now my maxi skirt is the right length and looks almost professional. I know, I know, I’m a freakin’ genius.
Maybe I’ll try canning next …
You are about to be jealous in t-minus 3…2…1….
I’m in London!!
Yup! I hopped a flight (carbon offset at a price of $22.66, naturally) to the old continent to visit my dear friend D. in Paris–of the going away party and recycled champagne glasses—and I’m on layover in the land of bad food, class divide, mean tabloids and royalty obsession.
The first thing I saw disembarking my flight? A hunky British dude making direct eye contact. I think I like it here.
D. is living the dream in Paris. On the one hand, I don’t like that my best friend is thousand of miles away. On the other hand, now I have an excuse to go to mother f’n Paris! (She keeps trying to get me to move there, but how could I leave NYC behind?
After we tear it up in the city of lights for a week, we’ll be back in London for a weekend. I’ve spent a whole summer in Paris before, but as the Audrey Hepburn character Sabrina said, “Paris is always a good idea.” But I’ve never been to London. “We must go,” I emailed D. emphatically. “It’s a huge hole in my experience that needs filling.”
So please, if you have recommendations, comment below or tweet them my way! I’ve already gotten a short list of museums, plus un-missable street food and competing recos for the best place to get high tea. (National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, Bosphorus Kebabs, The Ritz or Dukes Hotel, respectively).
Also, what does a modern green girl pack for her adventure in world travel? It’s all revealed:
From top left: iPhone charger, compact faux crocodile wallet, John Masters Organics lip balm, Korres non-toxic lipstick in coral, Sigg water bottle (empty for security), apartment keys (stripped of superfluities), laptop charger, Clean Hippie blog business cards and card holder, ChicoBag reusable bag, birth control, handkerchiefs from the Brooklyn Flea (2), pen, sleep mask, iPhone in Anicase endangered species cover, headphones, passport (!), flight reservation, sunglasses gotten for free from advertising partner at work with logo rubbed off with soy nail polish remover (couldn’t find my Kayu sunglasses—darn!). Not pictured: Zebra striped travel pillow made with post-consumer recycled content, laptop, magazines (coming up).
What to Wear for an Overnight Flight
Clearly, the goal is to get as close as to pajamas as possible without looking like a typical American ass. I chose my Degree Six top in soft organic cotton, organic Deborah Lindquist leggings, and a stack of Green Sewn vintage sari bracelets. You can’t see them, but on my feet are fuzzy socks—a Christmas present from my dear sister.
Mags Go Green for Earth Day
I have been busy unsubscribing from catalogues left and right, but I just can’t give up on my print editions of magazines. After all, they don’t put everything on line. And many magazines I get through my work. Piles of magazines have been eating my apartment like kudzu, but flights are a fabulous time to catch up.
Check out this bundle that has probably given me permanent back problems from hauling them to work and then through the subway system to the airport. (No black car for this lady.)
I absolutely loved diving into the April editions, since magazines from inStyle to Self are doing their darndest to pay lip service to Earth day with lots and lots of toxin-free and eco-friendly products—some old friends, some new to me. I also love that InStyle is educating consumers about one of my favorite websites, Skin Deep.
On my to try list: aluminum-free Weleda citrus deodorant, Yes to Tomatoes acne spot stick, USDA-certified organic essential oils by Tsi-La, Mali Organics Koke’e organics sugar body polish, DairyFace Eye Caramba Nourishing Facial Refresher, Butter London non-toxic nail polish, Dairy Kai vegetable base skylight candle, Bracketron’s Mushroom Green Zero wall charger, (all rated high by inStyle) and NY-based Anjolie Ayurveda moisturizers and soaps (thanks Oprah mag!). I even found some goodies in the ads: non-toxic Zoya nail polish and EOS lip balm (the ones you’ve no doubt seen in those little egg-shaped containers).
Of course, when I say “To try,” I do’t mean “Run out and immediately buy everything.” I just mean it’s on my radar if I happen to find myself in need of body polish. Truly being green means being judicious about purchases, yo.
Stay tuned for lots of lovely pictures! I have my big fancy Canon D7, my little canon for nights out and of course Instagram on my iPhone. Meanwhile, enjoy one of my favorite songs about Paris. (Hopefully we will make it to club Showcase! I had to cull my going out options down from three sequined dresses to one.)
Gotta run! My gate just got posted for Pearee.