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April 05, 2007

Moving

Dear Readers,

For a while now I have been thinking about moving this blog to a new (and, I hope, easier to find) location. Mblog was a great place to get started because it was both free and sheltered, but there are capabilities I would like to have that are either difficult, impossible, or unethical to do through Mblog, and I would also like to have a more straightforward URL. I considered various other blogging services and even thought about getting my own domain, and I have decided to go with Type Pad. I had actually been wanting to try Type Pad ever since it was first created back in 2003 but, a) I didn't have a blog back then and, b) I didn't want to pay for a blogging service. But I had to join Type Pad anyway to do Wardrobe Refashion, and when I found that I could get a blog for $4 a month, I decided to give it a try. I also considered blogspot, which is free, but all of the names I would have wanted were already taken. This is all a very long-winded way of saying, come visit Living Small in its new location:

http://ashleystreet.typepad.com

I look forward to seeing you there, and please let me know if you have any design comments or suggestions!

Posted by eklanche at 06:26 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2007

Refashioning

On April 1, I took the Wardrobe Refashion pledge, which is as follows:

I Emily pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that my thriftiness brings!

Here are the rules:

  1. No buying new (handmade is excepted; so this allows for Etsy purchases, etc.). All clothing must be Recycled, Renovated, Preloved or Thrifted, or Handmade only for the term. Employment-related and special needs clothing (i.e. sports, school), shoes and undies are excepted from the rules, although you are encouraged to have a go at making these.

  2. In extreme circumstances, maybe a special event, or the world's greatest and most amazing never to be repeated sale that you simply can not pass up, you may use the Get out of Refashionista Jail Free card. You are able to use this card once during every two months of youf contract. Of course, you need to fess up on the blog and display the button!

  3. You must post on the blog at least once a week to let the community know what you've been up to. This will not only give you brag points, but inspire and encourage others! Of course you need to display the button on your blog and have cpied the pledge in at least one post, and provide a link to your pledge under the button.

  4. You need to be honest and admit when you've fallen off the Refashionista Wagon! Go directly to Refashionista Jail, do not pass GO and do not collect $200! Apply for parole once there.

I decided to take this pledge because I rarely shop for new clothes anyway. In fact, it has already been six months, so I thought it might be fun to see if I could go another six months. Now that I have taken the pledge, however, I have become very excited about the idea of thrifting and refashioning. I even borrowed a sewing machine from my mother-in-law last weekend, and have already made some pillow covers for the throws on the couch and am halfway through a tote bag. I hadn't touched a sewing machine in fifteen years (I took lessons at a fabric store when I was in middle school), and David's mom didn't know how her ancient Singer worked, nor did she have the instruction manual for it, so it took me most of Sunday (and a trip to the library) to get it up and running. But now that it works, all I want to do is use it! In any case, if you want to see my adventures in refashioning, check out Wardrobe Refashion from time to time.

Posted by eklanche at 06:39 AM | Comments (1)

April 03, 2007

Thank You, Josh and Sara

Last night, our friends Sara and Josh had us over for the first-night seder, and it was fantastic. We sat around their living room, truly lounging on comfy furniture, went through the seder with mismatched haggadot (which made for some funny moments when we realized that I had the politically correct one -- the second son was referred to as "contrary" rather than "wicked" or "evil" -- and Josh and David had the extra-gruesome one), analyzed and commented on the Passover story and its commentary, and ate a delicious meal. Josh and Sara are vegetarians and, after we got home, David said that he had forgotten how good vegetarian food can be. Passover is my favorite holiday and spending it with friends made it truly perfect. Sara found the afikomen, which was fitting because the prize was a hug from Josh, her husband (who had hidden it). This seder definitely ranks with my fondest Passover memories, so thanks again, Sara and Josh.

Posted by eklanche at 07:03 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2007

Fairy Godmother?

There were a couple of craft books I was pining for all through March, and that I promised myself I would buy in April if I stuck to the March budget. Since I only went over budget by 65 cents last month, I logged on to Amazon this morning to buy the two books. After I added them to my cart, I noticed that they were free -- somehow I had a gift certificate that was being applied to the purchase. I have no idea where the gift certificate came from; I must have a fairy godmother. If person who gave me the gift certificate is reading this, thank you for the books!

Posted by eklanche at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

The Baltimore Report

As promised, here is my full report on Baltimore. Having traveled quite a bit in my short life, I have decided that there are about four things to do when visiting somewhere new: shopping, eating, sightseeing, and nightlife. Since I'm married and I don't drink, nightlife was out, but I did participate in the other three activities.

Sightseeing: Since I can't afford to spend a whole lot on museums or other tourist attractions, my version of sightseeing is pretty much just wandering around a city. I like to think of it as urban hiking. The first place I went on Wednesday night was the Inner Harbor, which quickly disappointed me. It is highly commercialized, basically just a big mall. So I kept walking, and got to explore a bit of the East Harbor and Fells Point before I had to call it a night.

Thursday, after I got the exhibit booth set up, was my main sightseeing day. Starting from the Convention Center, I walked north on Charles Street to the Washington Memorial, which is in the Mount Vernon cultural district. There were a couple of museums here -- the Walker Art Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum -- but the Contemporary hadn't opened yet and the Walker didn't seem quite as interesting, so I just kept wandering. From there, I went west, and eventually came to Lexington Market. Lexington Market reminded me quite a bit of the Farmer's Market in Los Angeles. It is a large market hall with stands selling just about every type of food you can imagine. And, since it was Baltimore, every other stand was a raw bar. Since I had already had breakfast and it was too early for lunch, I kept walking, this time heading east. A couple of hours of walking later, I found myself back in Fells Point, where I had been the night before. On Thursday, however, the sun was shining and I had more time, so I got to see more of this area. Fells Point was probably my favorite part of Baltimore, and it was the best shopping area (see below).

On Friday I did a bit more sightseeing early in the morning before the conference, heading back up to the Mount Vernon area and going a bit farther north than I had the day before. It looked like there was some good shopping up there, too, but it was 7:30am and nothing was open yet. After the conference, I headed south of the Inner Harbor to Federal Hill. My first stop was the American Visionary Art Museum, which I had heard about the day before. I feared they would already be closed when I got there, but I arrived an hour before closing and, because it was so late, they let me in for free. The museum was fantastic, though unfortunately I couldn't get up to the third floor because a wedding rehearsal was being held on the stairs. Not being able to go up to the third floor gave me some time to browse the gift shop, and I ended up buying an artwork: a piece of Shawn Theron's SOGH project. I had never bought real art before, and was super-excited to take it home and show David. After the museum, I explored Federal Hill, hoping to find some more shopping (again, see below), but all I really could find were bars and restaurants.

Shopping: Given that I'm not much of a shopper (I hadn't been shopping for clothes since September), this was about the last thing I expected to do in Baltimore but, as I said above, there is not much else to do while traveling. The best shopping was in Fells Point. I stumbled upon a consignment store and, before I knew it, had found about fifty garments I wanted to try on. Of the fifty, I ended up buying about ten, and was thrilled to have almost a whole new wardrobe (okay, I guess that is a bit of an exaggeration, since I mostly bought tops) for only $75. There were also some cute home furnishings stores in Fells Point, but after my clothing expedition I began to fear that my suitcase would be too full for anything else. I had hoped to find more shopping in Federal Hill because the Baltimore guide in my hotel room promised resale shops of all kinds, but the only one I found was a used book store.

Eating: Eating was probably the low point of the trip because the food in Baltimore was, surprisingly, just not that great. For the first time in my life, I sent back an entire restaurant meal! The food was also terribly uninspired, and very short on vegetables -- getting my daily 1.5 pounds was quite a challenge! There were, however, two highlights: 1) grits. I had forgotten I was in the South until I wandered into an espresso bar on Thursday morning and found they were serving grits. So I ended up having it every day for breakfast. 2) crab. I expected to eat quite a bit of crab while I was there because, after all, it was Baltimore, but I just couldn't find that much of it. So on Thursday night I went on a crab expedition and ended up at Phillips, where I got crab cocktail, which was quite good. Otherwise, the food in Baltimore was unremarkable. In addition to having trouble getting my vegetables, I also had quite a challenge getting my two daily glasses of milk. I expected to be able to just walk into a coffeehouse and get a cup of steamed milk, but there just weren't many coffeehouses, and the ones they do have close at five. I wandered all over Federal Hill on Friday night looking for a coffee house and couldn't find one. I finally ended up at the SoBo Cafe, thinking cafe=coffe, but I was wrong. It was just a regular restaurant and they didn't have coffee, but I was desperate for my milk, so I sat down at the bar. The bartender asked if I was there for dinner, and I replied, "no, just a glass of milk, if you have it." She looked at me like I had antennas and repeated, "a glass of milk?" But she poured it for me, and I drank it while eating some tangerines I had brought from Ann Arbor. Soon another bartender came out and asked how I liked the milk. I told him it was quite good and he responded that I should come back on Wednesday because Wednesday is their free all-you-can-drink milk night. I told him that I wouldn't miss it. When I finished my milk, I asked how much I owed him for it. Between the three bartenders, nobody knew how much to charge me because none of them had ever sold a glass of milk, so they just asked for a dollar. I gave them two and headed back out.

So that was Baltimore! Overall, I had a great time, though I would have loved to have shared the trip with David. Traveling alone is always really lonely.

Posted by eklanche at 07:29 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I am extra glad to be home today because I almost didn't make it back last night. I arrived at the Baltimore airport just after 4pm for my 6:02 flight, but when I scanned my frequent flier card at the self check-in kiosk, the screen said that my flight had already departed. What happened? Was I confused? Had my flight been at 6:02 AM instead of 6:02 PM? I asked a ticketing agent what was going on, and she informed me that I had been booked on a flight at 9:16 that morning, which I had obviously missed. Immediately, I knew what must have happened. I hadn't been able to book my own flight, because it had to be done with a University of Michigan Purchasing Card (P-Card), which I don't have. The administrative assistant in my department wouldn't let me use her P-Card, she insisted on booking my flight herself. So I found the flights I wanted and gave her the printout. A few hours later, she returned the same printout to me and told me I was all set. I assumed this meant she had gotten me the flight on my printout, because otherwise she would have printed the new flight information for me. I never checked because I thought she knew what she was doing.

So there I was, in the Baltimore airport, having missed my flight by about nine hours. All they could do was put me on standby for the 6:02 flight, but it didn't look promising because the flight was already oversold by six tickets. It was also the last flight of the day to Detroit, so if I didn't make it, I would just have to try standby again for the next day. So I went to my gate, spent about an hour crying on the phone to David, and then calmed down a bit. At 5:40, I was called to the gate desk, where they informed me that I was getting the last seat on the flight. Miracles do happen. So now I'm home, and I plan to stay here for a good long time!

Posted by eklanche at 01:53 PM | Comments (1)