Tag Archives: photography

Knitwitchery

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I just completed my most ambitious knitting project to date.

A little back story:

Photo Credit to Rachel Sacks

Photo Credit to Rachel Sacks

I started knitting about a year ago, and my absolute favorite knitting blog (and the source of most of my patterns) is purlbee.com, which is run by Purl Soho in New York City.

Purl Bee patterns have provided me with Christmas and birthday gifts for many family members and friends, and their tutorials have helped me master a variety of new stitches and techniques, so I’m kind of a super fan.

I was very excited to finally be able to visit the store itself when I was in New York this past December. There I spent a delightful several hours browsing through yarns and patterns (my friend Rachel snapped a photo of me deep in thought next to their enormously colorful wall of yarn), and I eventually settled on the sweater dress shown here, which was certainly a larger, if not more complicated, project than I had ever undertaken before.

Fortunately everything went well, and I am proud to finally be able to show off the finished product!

For the curious among you, here are the details:

Colorblock Tunic: Frontenac Pattern by Julie Hoover made with Purl Soho’s Super Soft Merino in Pale Stone & Dark Loam
Slouchy Hat: Target
Ankle Boots: Qupid
Seahorse Pendant: Scarlett Garnet (which is the source of most of my favorite jewelry)
Tights: Who knows!

And here are the detail shots:

I would estimate the project took me approximately 50 hours to knit, which gave me plenty of time to get almost all the way caught up on Doctor Who. Working with yards (miles?) of wool probably caused my hands to sweat a bit, and I may have dripped a few tears on it when Amy & Rory’s time with the Doctor came to an end, but fortunately no blood went into the making of this sweater!

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All of this happened, more or less*

I’m not much of one for celebrating the New Year. It’s not that it’s not exciting to “start fresh” or to stay up late and drink champagne; it’s just that I forget to plan for the occasion. I don’t make resolutions and I don’t remember to document my New Year’s Eve.

IMG_3998[Proof: The image to the right was the only photo I took during my night out on New Year’s Eve, and the only reason I have this one was because the man at the coat check told me to take it since it was more likely that I would lose my ticket than my phone. Incidentally, I didn’t lose my ticket.]

So, instead of posting photos of my amazing EVEning and making New Year’s resolutions this year, I’m taking some time to think back on the year that has passed. After all, 2013 was a big one – it was my first spent entirely in the so-called “real world” of office work and all that comes with it.

2013 was the year I turned 23.

It was the year of my 5th high school reunion (which I did not go to) and my 1st college reunion (which came to me).

During this year, my parents came to visit me. My cousin came to visit me. Sasha and Ellie and Dan all came to visit me.

I visited my parents. I visited my cousin. I visited Sasha and Ellie (but not Dan). I visited many other people besides.

I made it to Los Angeles and Minneapolis and Boston and Maine and New York.

I experienced my first family reunion with the entire family present when my grandmother turned 80.

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I also experienced my second robbery when the seats were stolen out of the back of our rental car.

I had a best friend move to Scotland.

I saw a lot of incredible art.

I saw a lot of incredible music.

I tweeted once or twice, and one of the times I did I won 5 tickets to LouFest.

I planned a surprise birthday party for Joe and a surprise trip to Maine for my mom’s birthday.

IMG_2309I spotted an amazing chair on the side of the road and we somehow managed to cram it into Joe’s sedan so we could take it home with us.

I made my first post-college friends.

I came frighteningly close to agreeing to adopt a dog.

I joined a gym for the dance classes. I discovered that I am terrible at hip hop dancing. This was not a surprise. I also discovered that I love dancing to Michael Jackson. This was a surprise.

I got a Haircut. When I took a selfie to document this fact, my nose disappeared.

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I took up knitting in earnest. I took up embroidery and sewing besides.

I embraced that “chi se ne frego” (who cares) attitude and knit by myself at a bar while reading a book about A/B testing. I also knit at bars even while not reading books about A/B testing.

I drank a lot of incredible beer. I made my own gin. I got better at mixing drinks.

I read lots and lots and lots of books.

All of my Pandora stations converged on M83’s “Midnight City”.

I became an enthusiastic party host, and pulled off an obsessively detailed murder mystery party.

I went to my first baseball game. I went to my first World Series game. These were not the same.

My German got worse, but my feminism got better.

I celebrated 2½ years in a serious relationship. I learned more about what love is and why there’s no such thing as happily ever after (and why that’s a good thing).

I was and I am happy.

2013 was the year I turned 23.

It’s been said that nobody likes you when you’re 23, and BuzzFeed (that source of deep-thinking, hard-hitting journalism), has even emphatically declared 23 to be the single worst year of the 20s.

I have to say though, being 23 hasn’t been too bad.


*The title is taken from a line in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five

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Davey Rocco Photography

None of the images below are mine. They are the work of my fabulous friend, Dave Rocco, who shot, processed, printed, and scanned them all himself. I just loved these images from the murder mystery party too much not to share. He even used a camera that was nearly era-appropriate (unlike me, as you can see from the DSLR pictured in the first frame)!

Be sure to check out more of his work after taking a peek at the shots below!

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See more of Dave’s work at daveyrocco.com.

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Murder at the Juice Joint

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This past Saturday, I hosted a 1920’s speakeasy-themed murder mystery party at my apartment. There were 20 suspects to coordinate, and pulling the party together took a huge amount of time and effort (mostly because I let myself get carried away by researching all the historical details). Planning it was also the most fun I had had in a long, long time.

Fortunately, it was all worth it.

The murder mystery party was a HUGE success. As much time and effort as I put in though, it never would have succeeded without the fantastic cast. In other words: My. Friends. Are. Awesome.

I was expecting some fierce competition for the Best Dressed and Best Performance awards, but I was blown away by the level of dedication to costume detail and staying in character that everyone present displayed.

You can see the whole group above. Click through the gallery to see individual head (mug?) shots.

The verdict?

Another murder mystery party is definitely in order. The only question left is what theme I should choose for the next one!

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To Stage a Murder

A few months ago (on April 13th, to be exact), I happened upon the idea of hosting a murder mystery party in a chance conversation.

I let the idea stew in my mind for awhile, and then realized that I absolutely had to do it. So, I spent several hours scouring the Internet for an appropriate scenario. Eventually, I found one I liked at Night of Mystery. Called Murder at the Juice Joint, the mystery was set in a 1920’s speakeasy, the haunt of rival mobsters.

I’m a huge fan of 1920’s fashion and my apartment – with its bare brick walls and concrete floor – could easily be turned into a plausible imitation of a speakeasy. Once I had chosen the right scenario, everything else began to fall into place.

I did some preliminary research into how to run a murder mystery party and emailed an event invitation to everyone on the 20-suspect guest list so I could begin collecting RSVPs.

Here’s a modified version of the deco-style event invitation I sent out:

Murder Mystery Party Invitation

(The fonts are Park Lane and Party at Gatsby’s – both free on FontSpace)

After that, the real fun began. Always a stickler for detail, I researched all of the details of the party meticulously – everything down to the brand of rum in the punch and gin in the rickeys (not to mention the recipes themselves) were from the 20’s.

Below you can find all of the party details, along with a few photos of the setting from the night of (you can see the characters and costumes here).

THE DRINKS
Gin was the most popular liquor of the Prohibition era (unlike many other spirits, gin doesn’t require a significant amount of time to age, and the botanicals masked the flavor of home-distilled moonshine), so I knew from the beginning that the party would not be complete without a gin cocktail. Simple to make in large quantities, the incredibly popular gin rickey – a variation of the classic G&T – won the day.

Drink Menu

Gin Rickey
1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. lime juice
1 oz. club soda

Since there were going to be 20 guests at the party and I didn’t want to spend all night behind a bar, I opted to fill out the rest of the drinks menu with two 20’s-era punches, one featuring champagne and the other rum. The only popular Prohibition-era spirit I left off the menu was whiskey – in large part because I simply can’t stand the taste, but also because whiskey cocktails are more finicky to mix than a simple punch or rickey and modern taste buds tend not to enjoy the whiskey-maraschino-and-orange-juice creations that Prohibition bartenders came up with in order to mask the taste of inferior whiskey.

Champagne Punch
1 cup simple syrup
2 tablespoons triple sec
6 tablespoons lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 quart champagne (or prosecco)
2 cups black tea
4 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 quart club soda

Mix the champagne, brandy, rum, triple sec, lemon juice, and tea. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup and pour into a punch bowl over a large piece of ice. Add club soda just before serving.

I modified the Planter’s Punch recipe slightly before posting it here. The authentic version – which to me seemed like it would be unbearably sweet – included 2 cups more each of pineapple juice and orange juice, as well as a cup of simple syrup.

Planter’s Punch

4 cups pineapple juice

4 cups orange juice

1 1/2 cups light rum

1 1/2 cups dark rum

1 cup triple sec

1 cup lemon juice


1/2 cup grenadine

Mix the ingredients in a large punch bowl or pitcher. Pour into tall glasses with ice. Garnish with an orange slice, pineapple wedge, or maraschino cherry.

The two punches, along with 2 fifths of gin for the rickeys and a 24-pack of PBR, turned out to be just the right amount for the evening.

To serve the drinks, I rearranged my furniture to create a bar area in my kitchen. My conveniently bar-height table became the serving area, and a backwards bookshelf became a great place to stash the glasses (mostly mason jars, since nothing at a speakeasy can be served in a glass obviously intended for cocktails). A shelf behind the bar held all of the empty bottles I had been saving, which were relabeled for the party with the vintage labels that came with the Night of Mystery party PDF.

The Bar

My friend and co-party planner Kat managed to track down a free PBR banner, which both completed the bar look (even if it was totally inappropriate for a discreet speakeasy) and hid the microwave and cupboards.

However, there was more to the party than just drinks.

THE FOOD
Appetizers

Since the mystery was set in a speakeasy, I opted not to run it as a multi-course sit-down meal. Instead, I settled on a spread of era-appropriate appetizers. Fortunately for me, the popular food of the day tended to be newfangled processed things like canned fruit, Rice Krispies, and – of course – Jell-O, so it was very possible to put together an impressive yet relatively inexpensive spread.

The centerpiece(s) were two Jell-O molds. Since many original Jell-O mold recipes from the 20’s sounded frankly disgusting (shrimp and mayonnaise in lemon Jell-O?!), I opted for some slightly later recipes. The fantastically titled “Under the Sea Salad” recipe pictured below is from the 1950’s, and the Peaches & Cream recipe from The Kitchn that I used was more modern yet. Unfortunately, not having the skills of The Jell-O Mold Mistress of Brooklyn, my creations ended up being a little lot less decorative than I had hoped. They still tasted good though!

under-the-sea-salad

Also on the menu were:

  • Deviled eggs
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Pigs in a blanket (for all the non-vegetarians in the room)
  • Potato chips
  • A bowl of mixed nuts

Finishing off the food was the too-weird-to-leave-off-the-list Candle Salad. Originally designed as a way to trick children into eating their fruits and vegetables, this salad is hands-down the most phallic thing I have ever seen.

Despite what you may think when you first behold it, the banana is CLEARLY a candle, and the mayonnaise/whipped cream is CLEARLY the wax being melted by the maraschino cherry flame.

Get your mind our of the gutter.

THE SCENE
In addition to shoving the majority of my furniture in the bedroom or rearranging it to create the bar, I set the scene by hanging the walls with era-appropriate Art Deco posters (there are a bazillion options available on Amazon, and the cheapest one I ordered was retailing at just $0.01 – $2.99 including shipping).

I supplemented these art prints with a variety of print-outs. I covered the bathroom mirror with a variety of vintage advertisements and magazine covers (and – for good measure – replaced my foaming hand soap dispenser with a simple unscented bar soap).

The finishing touch was the wanted posters for the gangsters who would be attending the party. I took the templates provided by Night of Mystery and then photoshopped in photos of the friends of mine who would be playing those characters at the party. Here are the results:

Wanted Posters

So there you go. Food + drinks + a scene well set = the recipe for a very good night.

The final details were the series of emails, all with a typewriter font and smattering of 20’s slang, sent out with character information, the entry plan for the night of the party (enter through the alley after giving the password – the unfortunately obsolete phrase, Phonus Balonus) to the bouncer and climb up the back staircase to the apartment-turned-Juice Joint, and the prizes.

Best Performance PrizeThe awards for Best Dressed and Best Performance were small bottles of house-infused gin (you can find the utterly delicious recipe here), and the super sleuths who correctly solved the murder received little bags of bite-size 20’s candy. The mix included Mounds, Milky Ways, Butterfingers, and Baby Ruths. Unfortunately no Reese’s, because those didn’t come onto the scene until 1928 and I chose to set my party in 1923 (did I mention I’m a stickler for detail?).

I’ll leave you now with a little preview of what the next post will entail, since I forgot to photograph the little bottles of gin before giving them away. To the left a shot of our Mugsy Malone – a North Side Gang Henchman – enjoying his prize for Best Performance.

Doesn’t the little bottle look like something straight out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?

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InFest StL #3

2720 Cherokee

Kid Scientist played again at the third InFest STL local music festival at 2720 Cherokee on Cherokee Street. As before, the music was incredible. Here are a few photographs from the performance. For a closer approximation of the full experience, give them a listen while you look!

Kid Scientist wasn’t the only amazing band at InFest either. I heard great music from Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager
Golden Curls

Golden Curls
…and Middle Class Fashion as well.

Look them all up! These bands are too good not to lend a listen.

Also, for any of you reading this in St. Louis, you can catch Kid Scientist and Middle Class Fashion again (along with HUMDRUM, another great local band) on Friday, August 2nd at Off Broadway for the FREE Middle Class Fashion CD Release Show sponsored by New Belgium and 4 Hands!
I know I’ll be there.

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Dave Moore Furniture

A while ago, Dave of David Moore Furniture let me into his workshop to take a few portraits with my 35mm Olympus. I just dug these up again, so there you go: Dave Moore, maker of furniture, fixer of bikes, drinker of coffee, and all around cool dude.

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Cherokee Street Art

Last night I was down on Cherokee Street to catch Kid Scientist at the InFest STL music festival at 2720. It was still light out when we arrived (barely), so I caught a few photos of the phenomenal street art and architectural details that line Cherokee before the show.

Someday I’m going to go back when it’s full daylight and shoot the whole length of the street. For now, though, this will have to do.

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The Building: Pre-Renovation

Remember the building in South City that Dave is in the process of renovating?

I had a chance to go in a few weeks ago and photograph what will be the apartment, entirely pre-renovation.  Think of these as the “Before” pictures that will eventually be followed by shiny and impressive “After” shots.

I know I, for one, am very much looking forward to seeing the final result.  More to come soon!

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