I want a chainsaw. There are a lot of downed trees in my woods (including an amazing lightning tree, burnt at the edges, 75 feet long, that split off of a tree with a ten food trunk… I’ll share here sometime) and since we heat the house with the woodstove, all that wood just seems like free money lying around. Not to mention the extreme satisfaction I know I’d get from the tidiness that clearing up all that junkwood would afford. Every time I go out in them woods I can’t believe how much the trees shed. Branches and brambles, huge limbs, fallen-now-mossy trunks. Sticks of the world unite. At an awesome boozy dinner party, I had the good fortune to sit across from Shirlee, snake wrangler, shaman artist, and chainsaw mistress and she says she’ll give me lessons. And then she sent me the above picture. All kinds of cleaning up is in order.
Lest anyone think from all of these Pollyanna-Meets-Laura-Ingalls-Wilder posts about getting the garden started and building compost sheds that I’m some sort of homesteading hipsturbian amalgam of Alice Waters and Bob Vila, let me just bring it back to reality with this. Should we take the little old pickup truck? No, the wood and stuff can definitely fit in my car. Ok. Well, it’s true, the wood CAN fit in the car, but only if we fold all the seats up like origami, take out front visors and headrests, oh, yeah, and if Mama rides in the back lying down under the two sheets of plywood. Oh my goodness we laughed all the way home. What a good way to start the weekend.
If you hadn’t noticed, my holiday plans are seriously nesty, and this year, I’m planning on gifting along those lines. If I’m trying to live simply with a focus on use and beauty, purging my scene of things that are not purposeful or graceful, then I should pay that forward, right? And, no, it’s not just because I’m currently 396 miles away from the Union Square Holiday Market mayhem. This year, that goes for the wrapping too. So, I have my stack of plain brown paper bags and farm twine ready to go, aaaaand, as if on cue: the genius ladies at DesignSponge* are offering these free printable gift tags. How Lovely.
Hello Dear Ones! Just a short note, Sweetheart’s dear sister is getting married this weekend at a summer camp upstate- it should be a perfect Indian Summer weekend full of joy and love and music. Typical to their laid back selves, rather than hire a whole complement of staff and rent linen napkins and have everyone check chicken or fish, the bride and groom have decreed that whole shebang is going to be super mellow, campfires and marshmallows, craft beer and soul food, Sweetheart and I singing and playing the first dance song…and yours truly in charge of all decorations. So. I’ll be signing off here today, packing up these dinosaur cake toppers I made the bride and groom as a surprise, and heading up to the land of the pines to cut flowers and string ribbon until it’s time to kick off my shoes and dance the night away under the stars. See you next week!
Despite the white-pants moratorium and the sweet chill in the air that has me playing “Autumn in New York” over and over, SUMMER IS NOT THROUGH. I repeat: DO NOT PACK UP YOUR JEAN SHORTS AND HEADSCARVES JUST YET LADIES! I love fall (it’s secretly my favorite), but I’ve also been wanting to cling to the seemingly endless twilit seaside days of the most adventuresome season. And, like-minded tactile and sense-memory based souls, I’ve discovered the best way to do that is with homemade limeaid. This is actually, technically, just lime simple-syrup, one of those non-recipe recipes that takes three things and through some magical alchemy turns it into a world of taste and feeling. Add rum and ice and you have a classic daiquiri, add tequila and you’ve borne the perfect margarita, vodka makes a sideways Tom Collins (a shaken egg-white and some mint and you’ve got yourself a sideways Southside), or just add a few healthy pours into a pitcher of still or sparkling water and you have the most divine, freshest, bracing-but-tart-sweet concoction that’s ever come straight out of August.
Squeeze limes. Boil equal parts sugar and water and cool. Mix lime juice and simple syrup. Voila!
Today I took my first cup of cold brew coffee out to the backyard to survey our small domain and water our little container garden and I was positively struck with early summer wonder. First off: the simple joys of homemade cold brew are not to be taken lightly and it is ever-so-much more enjoyable than I thought possible to drink it with a cuppow mason jar top. Right now there is a ton of (fabulous-yet-frustrating) construction going on in the backyard as our awesome landlord Bernie and his yappy yorkie Zeus put up new fencing, plant big lovely boxwoods, lay down a patio, occasionally spar at our window with Nipsey the Cat, and make a big mess everywhere including in the cucumber pots. In the midst of the construction chaos, ground strewn with power tools and trash, our little garden is still thriving. Is this a New York parable? Our Early Girls are putting out their first little green maters, late breaking broccoli is rearing its head, zucchinis are blossoming, nasturtiums are up, all of the little hot peppers are putting forth blossoms (the big one already has two peppers on it!), the first strawberries are almost ready to eat, and all of the herbs are thriving. It’s always the little things that matter most.
Sweetheart and I just returned from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s amazing annual plant sale with this little red wagon load of delectable goodies for the backyard! Early Girls and Kirby Cukes, Packman Broccoli and Medusa Peppers, Rosemary, Thyme, and Lavande de Provence… like all gardeners at the beginning of the season, out wagon brims almost more with hope than with bounty. Luckily my ever-lovin-horticultural Mama is coming next week for any course correction if we city mice have bitten off more strawberries than we can chew.
ps. I always love the Botanic Garden, every time you go it’s different depending on the weather and the season. Today, the bluebell wood was in bloom. After last night’s hard rain, the trees were silent except for the occasional drop of water and the flowers were like a quiet sea. It was truly beautiful.
For Miss McKay’s birthday she threw a Ghost Party in the sea islands. All in attendance were asked to choose and channel one of the many spirits of Cumberland, the most mystical and undoubtedly magical tide and mist limned island of the lot. This was certainly cause for a most unearthly celebration. We went to the boneyard and gathered armadillo skulls, deer jawbones, and miscellaneous backbones from the woods, and, like all good ghosts, everyone had a bone necklace and placecard.We went into the saw palmettos, foraged mossy branches and long fronds and festooned the room with bones, vines, and spanish moss.
We dressed as timacuan squaws and revolutionary war generals, the ghosts of great great uncles and bastard octoroon daughters, as ghost dans, zoave blockade runners, french pirates, notorious brides, and wayward travelers. The birthday girl herself went as fierce and beautiful Aunt Lucy who answered to no one and rode her horse with a crow on her shoulder, and Miss Mia made our portraits.
We ate shrimp and grits, drank champagne and rum, and played music and danced mystically into the night. It was perfection.So much love and supernatural joy to Miss McKay on this occasion of her birthday.
And infinite thanks and sharkteethbrujaja to the divinely talented Miss Mia Baxter, timacuan squaw and photographer extroidanairess, for the majority of these stunning images.
Though I’m not too well versed in it, I love typography. Borrowing from illuminated manuscripts, morphing from baroque curlicues to the lazy S’s of the Virginia Gazette (headline to the uninitiated: The Frefest advice, Foreign and Domeftick), from the ubiquity of Helvetica to the transgressions of Comic Sans. My love of fonts is pretty basic and visceral, my knowledge of custom running type limited to when my Mama had a font made of her handwriting in the mid 90′s (awesome). But, when I stumbled on this kickstarter campaign, my eyes fluttered. A brand new typeface. Bold and Italics not just header buttons on command. Languid, tilty, romantic italic letters paired off with their stand-up roman bretheren based on exact harmony between letter and meaning. Type made in the oldest way, in a foundry, painstaking, precise, hand wrought. Marvelous. The finished typeface will be a marriage of Cancellaresca Milanese (a typeface based on one that first appeared in Milan in 1541 in the books of Giovanni Antonio Castiglione) and Gremolata (a newly designed type with a slightly larger set of capitals based on those in the Cancellaresca, and paired with a lower case that is inspired, but not based on, Alpine typefaces of the mid-sixteenth century). Of course. the I gave $10, the project is funded, and the boys have started carving out their type. Just as in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king, in the kingdom of Kickstarter, even the pauper is a patron. Here, the type:
When I first stumbled across Best Made, a New York based company whose absolutely gorgeous hand-hewn and painted axes retail for up to $300, I had a smarmysmirk. I can certainly get behind the idea that objects of use should be objects of beauty, that form, function, build and tame are among the most ancient human impulses as we have. But, I thought, come on. A (stunning) $300 axe for uppity, bearded, maketank New Yorkers to hang on the wall of their lofts for show? Because-seriously-who-in-New-York-has-a-tree-and-if-you-were-lucky-enough-to-have-a-tree-why-on-earth-would-you-chop-it-down. Birch Please.
Then. I found the stump in my backyard. This old stump had at one point been burnt, covered in bricks and debris, forgotten until Sweetheart and I unearthed it in a torrent of centipedes and (my) shrieking. On Monday, it was the size of the red oval:
I broke it up myself using a rusty old axe I found in the backyard that must have belonged to the original landlords from the 1850′s. This is what my axe looks like:
Oof. My axe is like off-brand jeans. It works OK, but it could be a little shiner and a LOT sharper. New York is funny in this way, it can give you little nuggets of self-revelation that come with sweat and honest toil, and in the same fell swing can make you covetous of a $300 axe named “Flashman”. And the crazy thing? I think I might have earned it.