I added a page of my jewelry and upcycling work under the “Art” tab, I hope you all like what you see. I’ve been pretty busy in the shop lately and I’m updating the page regularly with new creations. Here are some more spoon earrings I made earlier this week:

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I can’t take credit for the home-brew in the upper lefthand corner, that was left in our fridge (with about 8 others) by a couple of Quebecois couch surfers on a beer tour of the Northeast that we hosted over the weekend. Two cute bearded Quebecois brewers feeding me delicious beers and describing each one in their luscious French-Canadian accents — it’s tough being me, sometimes.

What’s even more exciting is that I bought a laptop yesterday! This will be the first computer I’ve owned in the four years since my college laptop proverbially “ate it.” Updating this blog will be a lot easier, and [DRUMROLL PUHREASE] I will have an Etsy site up and running in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, ya’ll.

My first show?

I did it!

I hung art in a public place!

It’s weird and it’s scary!

Here’s what it looks like!

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These photos are all film enlargements. They’re hanging in The Chubby Muffin, a cafe in the Old North End of my city, Burlington, Vermont. They’re up for the month of April.

I love you, Burlington

After a morning of riding through whimsical snow flurries up and down Pine Street on my bike, after stopping at a thrift shop in the basement of St. Anthony’s Church and an uppity antique store that smelled like my grandmother and a junk shop filled with trinkets and treasures, after enjoying the smell of Switchback’s spent grain all the way down Flynn Avenue, after checking out Blue Bandana to see their chocolate making set-up and watching the granite wheels of the melanger churn the cacao beans while I warmed up by the cafe’s fireplace, after cozying up at Four Corners of the Earth Deli with a Jamaican Avocado sandwich and hot coffee and my sketch book and enjoying the owner’s smooth Danish accent as he listed the ingredients in his Cuban pork sandwich to the construction worker on his lunch break, I must declare: I love you, Burlington. I am in love with your nondescript warehouses filled with yoga studios and bagel shops and artist studios, your brightly painted quirky cafes and quirkier shop owners with endearingly ugly dogs and love for bizarre art. I am in love with your smells and colors and the way that views of the lake and Adirondacks peep out between openings in the trees. I love the bundled up families that play ice hokey together on the city-maintained rink and sled together and give me a friendly wave when I ride by. I love you, Burlington. I feel like I’ve known you my whole life and yet you reveal new parts of yourself to me almost everyday. You’re at once familiar and comfortable and fresh and exciting. I don’t know if I’ll be here forever but I’m here now and I just want to drink you up because you give me butterflies sometimes and I can’t get enough of you.

The Long Trail

Here are some photos from my hike on the Long Trail, as well as answers to frequently asked questions:

Q: What is the Long Trail?
A: A 273-mile foot path through the wilderness of Vermont. It runs from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border. It is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States. It is maintained by the Green Mountain Club.

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Q: Did you do the whole thing?!
A: Yes. It’s not a huge deal, lots of people do it every year. But it’s also a little bit badass.

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Q: How long did it take you?
A: 27 days. This included some really short days and a three-day detour to Maine. There were days when we just wanted to put in big miles, and there were days when we were more concerned with working on our tans and taking in the views.

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Q: Were you by yourself?
A: No. I started with my friend Blake from Vermont and my friend Tom from high school and his buddy Alan. We all split up and came back together at various points. We met several other people on the trail who we hiked with for various stretches. My friends Brittany and Emily joined us for three-day sections. Ultimately we all hiked the whole trail in a bubble of 12 or so people, a rotating cast of characters from all over the country and different walks of life. I came away with some new friends and some deeper relationships with old friends. The people we met were my favorite part of my hike.

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Q: What did you eat?
A: Food. I shipped resupply boxes to post offices in towns near the trail. I spaced the resupply boxes out so I was carrying about 4 to 6 days worth of food at a time.

Q: Where did you stay?
A: In shelters. There are shelters that the Green Mountain Club has built and maintained over the years and there’s spaced pretty conveniently along the trail, never more than 8 miles apart. We were able to stay in one every night and only carried an emergency shelter that turned out to be dead weight.

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Q: Was it hard?
A: Yes. My feet were fine. My knees hurt like hell. We had a five day stretch of rain and cold temperatures and I was miserable. I fell six times climbing up Camel’s Hump because I wasn’t getting enough calories or salt or something and I hurt myself pretty badly. It was mentally challenging at times. A lot of times it felt like elective torture more than it felt like fun or vacation. It was like boot camp or something.

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Q: But you had fun, right?
A: Totally. The highlight was when a friend of mine surprised me, Blake, and Brittany with dinner on top of Burnt Rock Mountain at sunset. He carried up soup and bread and cheeses and made stir-fry and it was a really beautiful night. Another highlight was staying at the top of Mad River Glen. Blake and Brittany and I were able to watch the sunset and the moonrise and could see both Lake Champlain to the west and the valley to the east. It was amazing.”Fun” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. It was more often meditative, interesting, educational, and reflective. Every epic view from mountain top or fire tower, every pristine river and pond, every stretch of trail underneath a canopy of changing leaves made me so thankful to be alive and able to hike the trail.

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Q: Would you do it again?
A: Maybe. I feel intimately connected to Vermont now, and I have a deep love for the Green Mountains. But If I find myself with another free month I think I’d rather do a new hike. I want to hike the Muir Trail in Yosemite or do the Oregon stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail.

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The beginnings.

I follow a gardening blog that gives out weekly writing prompts. The most recent prompt asked readers to write about their first plant. I thought about it and I couldn’t remember my first plant. So I’m interpreting the prompt differently by thinking about my beginnings as a gardener — which was approximately two months ago.

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Here’s my first garden project. There’s San Francisco.

My decision to start gardening was just that: a decision. I didn’t undergo a gradual transformation from toddler playing in grandmother’s garden to growing a bean plant in a paper cup in high school biology class to buying my first house plants for my college dorm to gardening in my first house. I actually did do all of these things, but still, the title of “gardener” isn’t something that I unintentionally assumed like I have “woman,” “biker,” or “daughter.” The role of “gardener” is something I’m desperately trying to assume.

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The front garden bed in Vermont (I couldn’t grow shit, but I built that bed, so you know, suck it or whatever).

I knew gardening was a skill I wanted to acquire after living in Vermont for five years. In Vermont I learned about our troubled food system. I learned that most the food in the grocery store is produced with the aid of rapidly depleting fossil fuels, used to both produce and transport the food around the country. I learned about chemical fertilizers and genetically modified foods, about the connections between local food and local economy. My neighbors were farmers, my roommates were farmers and food entrepreneurs, and we had four massive garden beds that my green-thumbed housemates used to grow food, herbs, and flowers. I felt that they were the experts, and so I let them do the the planning, seeding, starting and planting, and I chipped in where I could — by turning over the garden beds in the spring, carrying heavy things, watering, throwing in five bucks for the seed order, drinking beers on the porch while dolling out words of encouragement, and harvesting — if “harvesting” is happily plucking shiny cherry tomatoes off their vine every morning on my way to retrieve my bike and ride to work.

I was intimidated by the collective green intelligence of my beautiful, tan, brawny farmer roommates. I was intimidated by gardening itself. I seemed too difficult. “You just stick a seed in the ground,” they said, “It wants to grow!” they said. I was sure my sexy, freckled farmer roommates were lying, that there was finesse involved, an intuition that I was lacking. I felt like pepper plants might have antenna for my bullshit the same way kids do for nervous babysitters, that they somehow would know I was completely fucking clueless and shrivel up and die just to spite me and highlight my gardening inadequacy.

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The exploding garden beds that I can’t take any credit for at my house in Burlington, Vermont.

I managed to enjoy tomatoes off the vine, backyard pesto, kale, and mesclun mix for years without ever having to learn how to grow a thing. Everyone else was so conveniently obsessed with growing food that me and my lack of know-how flew under the radar. When I decided to leave Vermont and move out west, I knew that I would make growing food part of my life. I was glad that I wouldn’t have my farmer roommates to rely on as my vegetable-dealers anymore. The crutches would be gone. It was time to grow my own.

I moved into a beautiful, south-facing farmhouse in the small town of Arcata, California with my boyfriend. There was farmland in both directions and cows everywhere; it was the perfect backdrop to my Northwest starter-homestead visions and dreams. We painstakingly dug up the massive, overgrown and neglected garden. The house was situated in a flood plane and and the dirt came up in big, wet slabs. We found broken dishes, rotting logs, beer cans, and the soil itself seemed too wet and dense to be any good to grow in. After only 40 minutes we were both sitting in the mud, Chris had completely lost interest, and I felt my visions of being a gardener starting to whither and die. I would no longer be that girl in a sun hat and gloves, holding a trowel or whatever those mini-shovels are called, shoving my face into a floral, smelly plant that I would, at that point, know the name of.

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Chard starts and mesclun mix in the pallet garden.

Two days later Chris got an offer for his dream job is San Francisco. We decided to say goodbye to our barely-established life in Arcata and move to the big city. I was at once thrilled and jolted. Chris had his dream job to look forward to, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do many of the homestead-y things I wanted to do. But I knew I could still grow some food. I knew that San Francisco was groovy, that there was surely urban agriculture projects to get involved with, community garden plots to rent, that I could start a rooftop or kitchen or fire escape garden. Maybe I wouldn’t be tanning hides or building rainwater enchantment systems or whatever, but I could grow plants.

I happened to move into an apartment with dozens of empty terra cotta pots and a small protected roof space with a decent wind block. I made a run to the hardware store for soil and a watering can, asked the guy at the register where I could get the best seeds from, and requested a seed catalogue online. Then I went to work.

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A row of mizuna in my pallet garden

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I started a lot of my seeds in jiffy pellets, a common method for container gardeners

It’s been about two months since I started gardening on my roof and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s coming along. I’m learning so much, and I think the limits imposed by container gardening are great beginners who are intimidated by the task. Mostly I’ve learned that growing things it’s just as easy as my former farmer housemates told me it was. The hardest part, — as with most DIY projects, exercise, and self-improvement projects — is just doing it. I don’t have to do any of the sprouting, rooting, growing, or fruiting. The plants want to do all of the hard work. I just have to stick the seed in the soil, water it, and give it some love.

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This is a “salsa bowl,” a tomato plant in the middle, a ring of cilantro and green onion around the edge, and a soon-to-be-incorporated jalapeno plant that’s not pictured.