lately

It’s March, of all things. I’ve been shocked lately by how quickly the time goes. It seems like just two minutes ago I was remarking that it was suddenly November and now… And now! Here we are.

Lately I’ve been:

Watching ballet documentaries. First Position and Ballet 422 are both excellent and on Netflix, and I also really enjoy AOL’s web series city.ballet. Though the days when I thought that maybe, maybe I could become a professional dancer someday have long past, I still love to move and I’m still fascinated with ballet. That won’t ever end.

Eating almost no added sugar. It’s been so sad to say no to so many treats, but I’m extremely proud of myself for how diligent I have been about cutting out sugar and refined carbs. It’s been a whole grain parade around here, and I find that I don’t miss white flour and sugar much unless I start to think about it too hard. But really, don’t try this at home. It’s sad town. Nevertheless, my body has been feeling so much better, worlds different really, which was the goal. So that’s something. I did make some scones the other day because a gal can’t live on protein alone. Beautiful, lovely, whole grain scones with very, very little sugar to soothe my treat-less soul. Found the recipe in this delight of a book.

Listening to podcasts on my commute to the suburbs for nannying. Missing Richard Simmons is a new kid on the block and has been helping the daily grind on 290 feel a little shinier. It’s like Serial but way happier. I’m also into Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, the book club of my dreams, and, as always, Have Company for really thoughtful interview/conversations with makers, Spilled Milk for food and fun and Call Your Girlfriend for dealing with the crap politics we are living through. A little bit of everything! Now if only Mystery Show (Gimlet, whyyyyy?) would come back for a new season, my podcast life would be complete!

Drinking cafe au lait like it’s my job. Don’t know what that is? I’ll tell you. Mix half drip coffee with half warm frothed milk. It will change your life, really. I like the taste of drip coffee a lot better than espresso these days (I think my barista situation made me sick of it), but I really love the creaminess of lattes. Cafe au lait is the perfect balance. Also, for an added bonus, an au lait ordered at a coffee shop is always significantly cheaper than a latte! So many wins. Been using my milk frother everyday, as usual, and this cute little coffee dripper for my daily cup.

Reading only things I’ve read before. For some reason, that’s all I can handle at the moment. It’s been really good to return to Franny and Zooey this past week. The book is coming into focus for me in a way it never did before. I was talking to Jessie recently about how sometimes when you read a book you can tell that it will make sense to you someday but not yet. She called the feeling “premature mourning,” the way it hits you in that gut-punch way, but prematurely. That’s how it used to be when I’d read Franny in particular. But now it’s so immediate, it makes so much sense, it feels like something I’m living. Crazy, really. I’ve also been revisiting Women in Clothes, and Holy the Firm.

Making clothes and quilts. I’ve been honing my quilting skills by making table runners, three so far. I have plans to make a full-size quilt soon. And maybe some place mats. And eventually some sort of fabulous quilted jacket. I’ve also been working hard to teach myself how to draft my own sewing patterns, the first step in a sort of giant secret long-term dream that is bubbling up in me. For now, I am taking it slow and working and reworking my designs, sewing up sample after sample and tweaking what isn’t quite right. It feels like the best sort of puzzle.  Sewing feels to me like second-nature, like a little home I was looking for, and I’m so excited to keep working and dreaming and hoping.

Wearing a thrifted black wool sweater, handmade tank tops, cut and sewn from thrifted cotton bedsheets, and secondhand madewell jeans almost everyday. And a fabulous pink coat that literally made me gasp when I found it in a secondhand shop. Committing to not buying clothing new when there is so much that has already been circulating in the world, so much sadness in the way clothes are manufactured, and so many opportunities to make things myself. I’m investing in slow fashion in a big way, and it feels just right.

Working hard on a couple of secret collaborative projects that are slowly working their way to the surface. These things are exciting but they are also overwhelming, and I have no one to blame but myself and my crazy appetite for having multiple giant projects swirling around me at any given moment. It’s all going to happen! And it’s all going to keep happening! And I’m also going to keep showing up to nannying too even though all my projects feel like multiple full-time jobs being squeezed into only part-time time! Man, balance. It’s so tricky.

Wanting a serger, somehow, someday, though the threading is terrifying and self-threading machines cost as much as a car. And yards and yards of beautiful linen to sew into pretty things. Also, I would love a pair of ethically made oxfords like these, and I have my eye on a pair of these for spring/summer. Also direly in need of a pair of pinking shears and a sharper rotary cutter. What’s a dame to do?

Failing at keeping in touch with far-away friends and family. At this moment in my life, it feels nearly impossible to give everyone I love enough of me. I’m not doing a good job of communicating how I’m doing with people who love me, and I’m doing an even worse job of asking folks how things are for them. For better or worse, I’m focusing on taking care of myself and my immediate needs, doing only what feels possible in any given moment, and often that means trying not to worry about anything that isn’t right in front of me. To all far away loved ones, I haven’t forgotten you, I’m just trying to quietly exist for a while.

Feeling like everything is moving rather quickly. The months, the cars driving by my window, my free time, the clouds. It’s a little bit breathtaking in a bad way, and I’m trying to remember to steal a few moments every day to notice where I am and what I’m doing, how I’m doing. Change is coming, and I feel my life hurtling toward the change, hustling past now to the next thing, with a repetitive, “and then, and then, and then,” like a heartbeat in me. That’s not what I want. I’d rather my heart say, “and now, and now, and now.” Sewing helps, because you can only be in the task you’re in–there’s no use thinking onto the next thing until you’ve finished the thing you’re doing. Good to sink into a project, let it pull you along naturally, let your mind wander and the sun travel through the sky overhead. It’s hard work, this bursting into spring, this trying to be healthy, this thousands of projects waiting to be begun, this being twenty-three and hopeful and terrified. And now, and now, and now.


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Afternoon quilt, patterns, bowl.

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From a magic trip to Purl Soho when in New York for a wedding.

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The Chicago prairie shoreline wasteland.

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The quilt spam continues and will likely never end.

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Jill showed us the mosaic studio at Wheaton and my heart nearly stopped. A moment of intense sister-jealously on my end.

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The blurriest, happiest wedding dress shoppers because Annie (not pictured) is getting hitched!

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My squinty husband waiting for french onion soup under a canopy of green in Brooklyn (a heavenly sight).

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Apartment magic. This home on Damen will always be special to me, I think, despite its marked lack of suitable windows.

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So proud of the things I’m making, the woman I’m becoming, what my small hands are capable of, what my mind is able to learn, where I’ve gotten to just by following, where I’m headed just by hoping.

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What a good morning looks like (used to be a scone, those crumbs). Also, been using my coffee table as a desk with a footstool as a seat, an arrangement I’m pleased with given that my proper desk has been taken over by the sewing machine, etc.

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Shoe dreaming on fake St. Patrick’s day. (The oxfords on my little feet cost $250, an impossible sum, an impossible Sally Albright dream).

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I made it myself and it feels like magic to wear it.

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Big pockets, big feelings.

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Nothing better and more wistful than knitting on an airplane.

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This is where I came from, I passed this way.

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The good times of handsewn binding.

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How my other days are spent, cuddling this tiny person, rocking him to sleep, seeing to his safety, health, happiness.

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Charlotte took this photo of me while I was teaching her how to sew.

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Handsome chicken parmesan with my handsome companion in New York.

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The quilt parade never ends! This was the first table runner I made.

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There are few things more magic than the miniatures at the Art Institute.

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Good days, good days, good days.

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This painting made me gasp when I saw it at the museum. Meekness by Eustache Le Sueur.

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February fullness, fatness, joy.

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