Learning to Spin

The newest addition to our already cozy studio apartment: a handmade spinning wheel. Noah bought it off craigslist last weekend for an early birthday surprise. The woman warned us that it would need a few pieces – a peg to hold up the wheel, a belt – but we were confident we could easily replace any and all of the parts. Niether of us knowing anything about spinning, we were chuffed to have a gorgeous handmade wheel displayed in our apartment.

In calling around to local craft and fiber shops, I realized that spinning wheels are just about the most complicated luddite device to survive the digital revolution. Not only can I not find parts for the wheel, I’ll have to fashion most of them from scratch and adopt all of the available spinning info for my unique wheel. The first line of warning in my teach yourself to spin book? “Do not learn on a handmade wheel.” Awesome. The only indication as to the wheel’s origin is a carving on the underside of the body that reads “Licky ’79.”

Nonetheless, I certainly have plenty of raw materials: two of our farm companions happen to be a mother-daughter team of curious alpacas who are ready for their summer shearing.


Craft Fairs, Honey Festivals, and the Nation Magazine – Oh My!

Ok, so that wasn’t the best play on the famous Wizard of Oz mantra, but I tried. This weekend is choc-full-of exciting events here in New York. Saturday and Sunday is the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. Be prepared for reclaimed disaster relief housing, vertical gardens, and robots that teach you things. I’m nerding out over the whole event, but I’m easily most pumped for BUST Magazine’s sub-section Craftacular! (Also, keep an eye out for the Oct/Nov issue of BUST! Yours truly wrote the feature story on urban farm women in NYC!)

Craftacular is BUST Magazine’s outdoor shopping village featuring 50+ vendors, deals, and demos. Check-out hand weaving, mozzarella making, and more!

Purchase tickets to Craftacular and the Maker Faire here. See you there!

Do you like honey? Do you like the beach? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then let me propose this: what are you doing tomorrow, Saturday September 17th beginning at 10AM? It’s the premier of the NYC Honey Festival at Rockaway Beach, sponsored by rooftop farm Brooklyn Grange, and featuring one of the women I interviewed for my BUST Magazine article, the wonderful Meg Paska of Brooklyn Homesteader.

So what can you expect: beekeeping demos, food raffles, cooking demos with the folks at Brooklyn Kitchen, honey-beer brewing with the guys at Sixpoint, honey mustard pickles from Horman’s Best Pickles, and a honey-themed dinner on the boardwalk after dark. Pack some sunscreen, a bathing suit, and your beekeeping veil and head down to the Rockaways for a new twist on a day at the beach. For more information, visit http://www.nychoneyfest.com.

In other food news, the Nation magazine premiered its annual food issue. This is an important one for the food world, as it carries pieces on food economics, crisis, and the environment. The 2011 issue features a roster of a who’s who in food systems celebrity, including articles by the likes of Michael Pollan, change-maker Vandana Shiva, Raj Patel, Frances Moore Lappe, Anna Lappe, Eric Schlosser, Daniel Imhoff, and Civil Eats editor Paula Crossfield. Check-out the full list of articles here, and be sure to pick-up your copy on newsstands today.

DIY Business Cards

Annnndddd we’re back! But only for a little bit. On Thursday, Noah and I embark on our post-graduation gift to ourselves: 3 weeks in Europe! We’re already broke from dropping a chunk of our savings on transportation, so thankfully our kind friends and family have offered to host us during our stay. But more on that later…

During this past Legume Loyalist hiatus, Noah and I packed up our life and moved to a new Brooklyn apartment (we’re still unpacking and figuring things out; Noah is re-painting the trim as I type) and, here’s the big news, I graduated!

That’s me!

To kick-off my new life as a student turned “young professional” (well, “young potential professional” is more like it…I’m still effectively jobless) I made myself some business cards. I contemplated ordering a pack from a business card site, but decided that DIY cards would serve my purposes better. (If I learned anything from my journalism classes at NYU, it’s the power of branding. Shout-out to my old J-prof Betty Ming Liu ;-)) I searched the web for a few DIY business card ideas and settled on stamping.

I ordered a custom stamp from this tiny gem of a shop in the East Village: Casey Rubber Stamps. The shop feels like a relic from an older, more eclectic downtown Manhattan (imagine that); there’s just enough room to turn around in the gallery area, but the selection of stamps more than compensates for lack of aesthetics. My custom stamp cost a reasonable $32 and was finished in less than a day.

Choosing what the stamp would say was probably the most difficult part: another helpful tip from j-school, the “rule of threes.” If you’re stuck on what to say about yourself, pick three descriptives that you think provide the most succinct description of how you want to portray yourself to the world.

I also picked out a few other food-related stamps that I thought would add a little interest to my cards:

I bought the paper supplies as well as the mason jar and spoon stamp from another stamping store in the West Village. The Ink Pad carries all sorts of stamping, letter-pressing, and other general paper craft goods. A pack of 100 pre-cut blank business cards cost $6.95 each. They’re pretty sturdy and they come in a few different colors. I bought the packs in “creme” and “kraft” just to mix it up a bit. For the ink, I bought Archival Ink in Viridian (a baby-blue/turquoise hue), Jet Black, and Olive. (I picked-up the yellowish-green color on the creme cards from the Casey Rubber Stamps. He called it “weird green.”) A tip: make sure that the ink you use is waterproof and permanent! You wouldn’t want all your hard work to go to waste with a finger smear.

The process? I laid down an old poster to prevent any stray ink marks on my desk and had a notebook on hand to test everything out. I decided on an Olive colored small legume on the kraft cards and the “weird green” small legume on the creme cards. I stamped my info in Jet Black, and then stamped the back of every card with either the mason jar or the spoon in Viridian.

Voila! DIY business cards!

Moving, Graduating, and Traveling

{This is going to be a quick little post as I’m in the midst of writing, packing, moving, graduating, job hunting, etc. But Legume Loyalist will back in full swing soon!}

The cool thing about having friends who graduated from baking and pastry school is that they always feed you delicious things. Another cool thing is that, if they’re kind enough, they let you barrel through their extended collection of niche cookbooks, like the Pie and Pastry Bible, which I borrowed in order to make a peach pie for Easter.

Reflecting on that silly pie, I realize that I would have never baked it had I not met some of the most wonderful people here at NYU. This semester has been choc-ful-of community and connection: pit-stopping by a friend’s apartment to pick up a homemade pound cake, nerding-out over food systems paper topics, sharing embroidery tips.

It’s amazing that a few of the most fulfilling friendships I’ve made started with a single comment: “Did you knit that hat?” “Can you send me this recipe?” “I’m really interested in American farm women.”

Today I submit the last undergraduate paper I will ever write. I honestly have no idea what it’s going to feel like to hit send and then to not have to think about the next paper or reading. (Although, I know what Noah will feel: immensely relieved. He’s been a saint to my constant buzzing and tight-roping the line between sanity and breakdown.) I’ve formed my identity around being a student. Now, I’ll have to face what it means to be a human being. It feels…unreal; like I’ve been sitting in a cozy coffee shop window for the past four years, my nose tucked into a book, or my gaze directed at my computer screen, with only the occasional glance upward to catch a few people walking past.

So what are my plans? Well, I’m not sure. I’ve been interviewing non-stop for the past week, attempting to mold my post-undergraduate life. Noah and I spent all day Wednesday painting our apartment Benjamin Moore paint number 520, Spring Bud (for any of you interested desgin-os), and we’ll be officially moving-in on Saturday.

A week and a half after graduation, we’ll be jumping across the pond, as they say, to France and England for three weeks (eee!). The only other thing I have lined up for the summer is still in the works, but all I can say is keep an eye out for the July course listing at the Brooklyn Brainery! (The Brainery folks got a sweet write-up in the New York Times today.) As I head into the jam-packed weekend, which is looking to be a rainy one, all I can say is “keep calm, carry on.”

{isn’t this just the prettiest print? you can check out the rest of the Keep Calm collection here.}

TBECC Round-Up: Recipes, Crafts, and Books, Oh My!

“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” This is hands down my favorite quote from a novel ever. I’m a huge Virginia Woolf fan; there’s something about female, high-society writers that I can’t get enough of. (Edith Wharton, anyone?) I’m definitely no literary buff, not even by a long-shot, but I’ve always identified that simple sentence with my own notions of feminism and femininity (beyond the larger context of the book of course, I’m not married to a politician, nor do I have servants). So in preparation for TBECC, a celebration of domesticity and feminism of sorts, I just had to buy flowers…myself.

TBECC was more than just flowers and aesthetics, of course, and it lived up to its name: friends, women, eating, talking about food issues, sharing knowledge and just enjoying each other’s company. We had SO MUCH food. Meg baked a banana cake with chocolate sea salt caramel ganache (which she baked in a toaster oven!); Marlie brought salad (thankfully, some lighter fare) and bread from Hawthorne Valley Farm where she’s a market worker; Julia brought buttermilk pie and honey and jam; and I baked some honey whole wheat pound cake and mini cinnamon rolls. (More recipes to follow!) To drink, I sorted my out-of-control collection of Harney and Sons tea, and pulled out my bag of Counter Culture Jagong coffee (arguably my new favorite, although Crop To Cup’s Burundi is still up there).

Dani Walsh, the wonderful woman behind www.WomenEatNYC.com  (and Grub Street intern!!), a bee-yoo-ti-ful blog that includes recipes and pictures of women enjoying food, stopped by and helped out with some necessary lighting in my living room (no natural light, boo!). She also shared some really cute recipe cards (Dani, let me know where you found those little guys!). We discussed our favorite baking books including, The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (who also wrote the Cake Bible!) and The Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.

Eventually (it was inevitable) the knitting needles came out and Meg, knitter extraordinaire, shared her go-to book for knitting: The Complete Guide to Needlework edited by Readers Digest. Meg’s copy is ancient, but it’s a gem of a reference book. The pictures are painfully 80s, but the instruction is invaluable, with pictures and clear descriptions of a bajillion patterns and stitches for all kinds of stitching crafts from knitting to quilting to needlepoint to embroidery.

We’re hoping to host another TBECC before the school-year lets out. My hope is that TBECC will encourage more women (men too!) to get together, share domestic knowledge and take back our food system!

TBECC: Reclaiming the Domestic, in Action!

I couldn’t be more excited for the weekend coming up! On Saturday, Slow Food NYC is having their first volunteer workday. They’re gearing up for their summer program at Ujima Community Garden in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and they need volunteers to help plant and build in the garden, and to prep the classroom. This year they’re adding chickens to their repertoire of urban farming, so naturally we have to build a chicken coop. The coop building is scheduled for the second workday, April 30th. I’m most excited to help build the coop as Noah and I are beginning to think about the potential of our own Brooklyn chicken coop! But more on that some other time…

This Sunday, I’m hosting a wee-little event called TBECC: talk, bake, eat, cook, and craft (not the best acronym, but whatever, it serves its purpose for now). What is TBECC? Well, this semester, I’ve made great connections with some amazing girls at NYU. We’ve exchanged recipes, cooking/baking tips, crafting tips, and in general just had really empowering conversations. I found myself making promises to hang out with everybody in getting together to cook, bake, eat, talk, drink tea/coffee/mircrobrews, knit, craft, etc. all on different occasions. But then I realized, in these different conversations with different girls, that we all had the same ideas in mind: eating locally, sustainability, feminism, crafting, enjoying food, baking/cooking, and all that jazz.

Obviously it would be wonderful to hang out with everyone individually, but I figured, in light of some recent ideas I’ve had about communality and the sharing of domestic knowledge, why don’t I get all these great, intellectual, feminine minds together in one place and just talk, bake, eat, craft and cook? So, we have TBECC this Sunday at my humble apartment! My yarn has been collecting dust under a folding table in my bedroom so I’m especially excited to dust-off my knitting needles and put them to work. And, since we will be cooking, eating, and baking, I have two recipes in mind: Cinnamon Swirl Buns and Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones. Reclaiming the domestic, in action!

{image courtesy of Boston Public Library flickr}

And We’re Back! A South Beach Recap

Sigh, my final collegiate spring break is officially over. I’m slightly burned, but very tan, and still picking bits of sand out of my backpack. As a last “hurrah, college!” my best friend and I decided to do the traditional Spring Break thing (something that neither of us have ever even considered, having held part-time jobs and veritable nerd status for most of college). We dug our swimsuits out of the far reaches of our dressers, dusted off our sandals, and left rainy, cold New York City for the sun-filled streets, 70-degree weather, and turquoise-blue water of South Beach, Florida. The highlights of our trip included the beach (of course), our hostel friends, a chance-encounter with a fantastic flea market, and the only vegan menu in South Beach (probably). WARNING: this post is filled to the brim with pictures.

We spent most of our non-beach time strolling along Lincoln Road Mall. Among a few other small design and book stores, Books and Books is definitely worth a visit. It’s beautifully organized and provokes lazy lingering around the store. It also has a delicious cafe menu (which includes an entire vegan section!) with seating along the promenade. On Sundays, Lincoln Road Mall hosts a wonderful farmers and flea market with some great vintage and thrift finds and local citrus fruits!

Two of my favorite finds from the market were a beautiful desk (I’m in love!) and a working vintage milkshake maker: