Friday, December 31, 2010

I Don't Know if You've Heard

but, we've got some

up in here.

(This picture is taken in the middle of a flippin' road.)

I've been living in New York, specifically in Brooklyn, for ten years, now. I love it like I love the ocean, which is to say I love it as much as I love any one person. I have wild, you-would-never-believe-it-if-you-weren't-also-a-New-Yorker stories. I was here when the towers fell. I was here when the city went black in 2003. Sublime luck, perhaps New Yorker karma of sorts, kept me in my beloved Brooklyn during the holidays this year. Now I've survived the Snowpocalypse (so far) too. How will I ever be able to leave this place?

Luckily, thanks to the tons of snow and the city's complete lack of ability to deal with it, I won't ever have to.... :)

This is the calm before the storm. Looking back I had a similar feeling to the inner excitement I'd get during tidal wave watches as a teenager. Admittedly at the time I translated that feeling into a rhyme that centered on a chorus of "preeety snow".

On Sunday night, I donned a dress and some tights and my favorite snow shoes and headed out for a little house party in Clinton Hill. I had heard tale that there was a blizzard coming. Excuse me, I am a New Yorker. I am like the postman (who skipped out on visiting me until Thursday) I go out rain or sleet or snow. I don't avoid conflict. I only avoid direct sunlight.

Flash forward mere hours. Where I legitimately feared for my life on a car ride through apocalyptic Brooklyn. Luckily I was with the brand of friends that feel like family. I knew we'd be safe, I just didn't know how. Here's a photo of Jen during the blitz. Nothing like a snowpocalypse to make you realize what's really important in life...

Lots and lots of layers, silver space/winter boots, and glamour shots.

The snow whipped so hard it gave us an ice cream headache. Sean's hair froze flat to his head! We were joking that you could break it off it was so frozen. Sadly this lead me to the knowledge that my beloved, soon to be adopted family, had never seen 'The Great Race', a minor detail in such desperate times. Sean finally battled the car and the snow into submission. Jen and I ran back and forth between him and their home in shifts. We're good cheerleaders. :(

On Monday morning we woke to a world changed. The cars and buses had all been abandoned. They still sit like great beached whales in a sea of snow.

If nothing else, this week of emergency quarantine has taught me to be careful who you marry. It's been a long time since I witnessed any full-time spousing. Jen and Sean's hospitality, even as we openly wondered if it is possible to die of claustrophobia, was epic. I can't believe how comfortable and welcome they made me feel. Sean was like a modern day Disney character all week.

"And yet, through it all, Cinderella Sean remained ever gentle and kind, for with each dawn she he found new hope that someday her his (wife's friend would go home and his) dreams of happiness would come true."

I stayed on Dean street on Sunday night, and when it became clear that no one was coming to plow a thing, I stayed Monday night too. I have seen so many people standing on their car roofs to shovel snow that it doesn't even phase me any more.

At publish time (like daaaays later) this is what Brooklyn was dealing with:

Finally, after realizing there was nothing to be done, and knowing I couldn't wait any longer. I battled my way home to Carroll Gardens on Tuesday afternoon. I could have used a grappling hook at multiple times on my commute from Prospect Heights.

This storm has left me in awe of nature, in awe of my friends and in awe of this fresh loaf of bread from Court Street Pastry downstairs. I am thankful that I live above a spa, next to a pastry shop, and across from a magical store of endless homewares. Brooklyn, I love you - even when you are helpless.

(Sanitation plow stuck in the snow on Court & Sackett)

So now you've heard, we got some snow...
Here are my favorite bits of media that I have read about Snowpocalypse 2010 since being able to breathe use the internet again.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Men Are That They Might Have

Have the merriest of Merry Christmases.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Time to Give

Happy Christmas Eve!

Growing up, my parents instilled in me the idea that it is easy to give money and hard to give time. If you truly want to make an impact and a difference you give both, but if you can't give one you can surely give the other.

Several years ago I found myself a bit sadder than I'd like to be. My life was going thru major flux and I just felt kind of lost. I think being lonely or depressed is totally normal when you are either in your early twenties and dealing with college and classes and deadlines, or a Hawaiian transplant going through NYC winters, if you're recently single after years of a stable and loving relationship, or if you happen to be an artist. Unfortunately at this particular time I was all of these things at once. At any rate, I was kind of in the pits.

Oh man, I wanted medication for the sweeping wave of sad. Since it was obvious it was more situational than physical, the only thing left to do was to change something. I started to look for a place to volunteer. In the beginning I tried lots of different things, I took care of dogs for ASPCA, I handed out blankets to the homeless, I helped with a hotline and the list goes on. In the end I found two charities that really work for me.


If you are a professional NYC based artist, you really should join the Ink Well Foundation. It is the best.

" We are a group of professional animators, illustrators, and cartoon artists who draw with hospitalized children. Our talented crew has worked on everything from The Hulk comic books to The Rugrats movies to Speed Racer cartoons and much more. Our goal is to let the kids draw with the very artists who create their favorite film, TV, and illustrated characters. We hope to share the power of art as self-expression, and as a good way to just take a break from trying times and have some fun!"

I've found it to be a wonderful place. It's a remarkable way to get out of myself and remember how lucky I am to be working and healthy and free to be creative and active.


Two years ago job-job broke the bank and gave each and every one of us and our dates $25 gift certificates to Donors Choose as our Holiday party gift.

This year Oprah chose them as one of her favorite things. I love when I beat Oprah to something great. If you just give to this foundation one time, you'll be hooked line and sinkered. I have given to Donor Choose a lot since that holiday party. I always support the art programs on the site. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun it is to participate here. I get thank you notes and photos. It is a blast seeing where my money is going. I love knowing kids try a variety of new supplies and mediums and a relief to know that art is staying alive in random spots in America's school system. There are huge corporations that match a lot of your donor gifts, so your money goes even further. You can support virtually anything an elementary or high school does at Donors Choose. It's been a perfect match for me.

In 2011 resolve to give back a little more. If you are in search of a great charity that will work for you, consider using the very fabulous

During this holiday season I am often reminded of The Little Drummer boy, who having nothing else to give played for Him on his drum. Volunteering has only helped my life. I really hope that you get a chance to do it too.

What places do you love to give back to, or with?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Put up the Tree Before My Spirt Falls

This is my post-it tree.

This is my work desk for it:
It was mostly made by the passionate yet introverted Tess Nelson and her venerable Doctor cohort, Zach. Regardless, it was made under my dictatorship gentle suggestion. It is in my apartment.

I think everyone should have a post-it tree. It's such a fun spot to write at now. Everyone who comes over can make a holiday note on it.
True perfection.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Recipe: Octopus Soup

Yesterdays book report on 'A Penguin Story' made me hungry. Inspired by the color red, and the book's ocean theme, I decided to make myself some Octopus soup.

Amberbop's Octopus Soup


I only included measurements to keep it a recipe. I eyeball this stuff. I add things and subtract things and then add things again. I pretty much do all kinds of random stuff to this soup every time I make it. You should too. Just don't add octopus.
  • 3 or 4 bell peppers - the more color the better the soup
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of milk*
  • 1/2 cup of cream*
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans vegetable or chicken broth
  • 8 oz. of meat - I use Pepperidge Farms Turkey Kibalsa**
  • salt and pepper to taste

    *If you have an aversion to milk you can sub in 2 cans of cannellini beans beans in place of all dairy, have an aversion to beans, so this is how I play it.

    ** If my veggie friends want some I can say, ooooooh, i wish -- but it's not vegetarian.... Also, it adds heartiness. Its involvement in this soup is totally up to you.

    By now you have probably realized this recipe isn't an ocean-y kind of soup. Years ago I made it for a pair of boys I used to babysit, one of them was Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. The only way I could get him to eat it was to tell him it was octopus. He watched the pepper's gooey insides and sniffed around before deciding it really was octopus. Every time I baby-sat he begged for octopus soup. This blend of wintery-goodness has kept its moniker.


I have a gas stove. If you don't you can still use this recipe. However, I'd recommend you just get a gas stove. It's one of my top 10 favorite things about my home. When I visit elsewhere i feel bad for my friends who are without the perks fire cooking.

For a gas stove:
  • I take off little metal raiser on a burner and then turn up the fire to high. Keep those flames hopping!
  • Using long BBQ tongs and a hot mitt (LBH, I usually skip both and find something make-shift but this is my blog and I like you and I'd like you to be safe) put the peppers into the fire and let them get good and black as night, the blacker the better.
For an electric stove:
  • Preheat oven to broil.
  • Place the bell peppers on a baking sheet and broil on the top rack of the oven, using tongs to turn them as each side blackens.
  • Make sure you're wearing pants for this part because when the smoke detector accidentally goes off and you have to jump up on a chair in front of your windows to turn it off, you're going to want to be wearing pants...
Now pick up here. The Choose Your Own Adventure is Over:
  • Place the blackened peppers in a communal paper bag. Tightly roll the bag up and allow them to cool in there for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Once they've steamed long enough and are ready for their facials, peel the skin off the peppers. (If this is getting frustrating sometimes I peel them under running water).
  • Cut out the stem and get rid of all the seeds. Marvel at how Octopi they look. Chop the peppers up if you're using a blender, if you're using a food processor you can leave them be. Put them aside.

  • In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic, zuke in the oil for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Now host a meet and great for the bell peppers and everything already in the pot. Once they're combined, saute for 2 to 3 more minutes.

  • Next, add the chicken broth and the beans or milk, stirring well. Using a food processor (top ten favorite thing about my home) or a blender, puree the soup in small batches and return to the pot over low heat for 5 minutes. Salt to taste, throw in any other herbs you think belong in there. Stir it up and then start singing that song about stirring it up. Eat some soup with your friends.

    --This is really great reheated and topped with a dollop of cream cheese right before serving. Enjoy. xoxo

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: A Penguin Story

There are two times that I remember crying in elementary school. One time was in kindergarten. After watching a half an hour documentary on the migration of humpback whales, they warned us that if we didn't take care of the Ocean whales might become extinct. Our own children would never be able to see humpbacks.

Overcome with grief for the ignorance of my children and tormented that they'd have to live in a world without whales I excused myself to the bathroom. In true 'Lifetime movie' fashion I slinked down the wall. I remained there on the floor sobbing uncontrollably until my savior Mrs. Benton came to find me. I often think of her during the holidays. Next to my family, she was the first adult I'd come across who didn't talk down to children. She never insulted our intelligence. At five I truly appreciated her candor.

In the first grade we had to choose three crayons.These would be the only colors we would use for an entire quarter. THIS was too much. I did not want to live in a world with only three colors. It was another moment of heart-deadening pain. The tears flowed freely. I made sure to pick the color blue, so I could draw my tears.

The perfect meet in the middle for these two childhood experiences is Antoinette Portis' beautiful book "A Penguin Story"

I asked for this book last Christmas after spotting it at the Original Art. Rereading it last night reminded me of being very small and wanting more in life than just three colors. My love of the ocean is one of my strongest ties to my character, so I think it's totally rad that Portis intertwines the vastness of the sea into the pages of this story.

One of the things I like best about the books that she writes and draws is that she speaks to children, exactly as they would want to be spoken to. She leaves space for a conversation between adult and child, and doesn't give you all the answers.

This is one of the newer books in my collection. It is one of the first books I've come across in ages that deserves to be a classic. It is beautifully designed and artistically realized in a way that is pleasing to both children and their reading slaves. Portis' bold use of line is charming. She creates characters that are simple but pensive. This book thrives on minimalism, but still manages to create truly expressive moments. I am so happy to find a new book where each spread could be just as easily be framed and put on a wall as bound in a book.

Edna the penguin, and star of this post's focus is an artist at heart. This book is a great starter for conversations focused on gratitude, appreciation, imagination, faith and diversity. What more could you want to teach your kids?

This is a good one, friends. Really good. Three cheers for Edna.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Expect the Unexpected

Coming to work yesterday was torture. I was the girl who gets off the train at her destination and then sits on the bench like 'ooooh hey everybody, I'm just waiting for my train'. I needed to finish the chapter of the book I was reading. A co-worker getting off further up the train met me while I was getting ready to sit and engaged me in very-Jane Austen-like conversation. Within minutes I found myself having to walk with them as we chatted. Before I knew it I was at my computer, ready for a long day without the few pages of the 7th Harry Potter book I was craving.

At job-job this week I am doing a movie about Forests. I've been going through some of our existing assets and fleshing them out in preparation for this new opus. It's pretty calming work and somewhat dull. In essence I'm drawing a lot of trees to match trees that other artists have already drawn so that everything conveys the allusion of a vast space. I move trees and bushes and then draw some more.

Around lunch in the middle of my "i-want-to-read-my-book" lament, I moved a tree an inch to the right. WOAH! Behind the tree I found THIS!

That's right. THIS! In true scribble drawing form,
I knew what this was. I saw it so clearly. Can't you?!

How about now?


Can you see it now?!!? Oh man.

Can you seeeeeeeee it?!

It might still be a little bit hard to tell, but now....

you'll have seen his patronus.

You'll be sure that you have met the Half-Blood Prince in the Forbidden Forest by the Whomping Willow.

So. um. now that i've displayed yet another nerd-tacular skill of mine, um... i'm going to get back to the tree drawing and the forest making.

What are you seeing in the oddest places lately?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Haul Out the Holly!

Last Thursday I went to Vermont.

Hahaha. No I didnt. That's my own little joke.
No, I took my lunch hour and went shopping in the flower district.

NYC's flower district is a master of menutia. It spans West 26th to West 28th street along sixth avenue. If you want to decorate with evergreen it's where you're going to get the most bough for your buck, for instance I am now the proud owner of not one but two wreath frames and some much needed mistletoe all under $12

I love shopping here with a mug of candy cane green tea and a camera in my jeans pocket, the excitement and bustle is as good as it gets. Holiday Hotel lobby designers and resturaunt landscapers all end up here.

The highlight of this particular trip was seeing a petite redhead scale a wall of birch logs and scream, "We'll take the lot, Harry!"

Good times. Good times.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

 Traditionally after Macy's traditional Miracle on 34th Street windows, come the BORING windows, the ones there to sell stuff.  These windows are typically just space-taker-uppers.  This year, I was prepped myself for the boring windows.  I shouted behind me, alerting my April that we were about to enter Dullsville.  We rounded the corner and I was rendered speachless. I all I could think was 'what to my wondering eyes should appear!?'

There I stood face-to-face with the prettiest darn windows you could ever shake a stick at.  I was the 8 year olds we'd seen on Kris Kringle's side.  I constantly had to remind myself that the windows are for looking, not touching, not licking, not kissing.

These windows SPOKE to me. They whispered to me in the language i speak best, preeeety-glitter-magic-preettttyy-paper.

Seriously, I speak the equivelant of Parsletongue at these windows.  I half expected the glass to melt away and the paper-star-flowers to engulf me in a showy snow of sparkle.

Be Home?!  I LOVE being home.  Man oh man, I'm good at that.  Preeeety paper.

Oooooooooooh... pretty....

Red... pretty.

I dashed around and ooh'd and awwww'd, overcome with that feeling you sometimes get when it is Christmas, and you are very small.   I am so thrilled that Macy's decided to buck tradition this year and do something utterly breathtaking.  You could feel the craftsmanship in these windows.  They were a nod to days gone by but a step forward too. They were clean and modern BUT crafty.  This is what I want my windows to look like.  

Oh and let's hear it for paper.

Traitionally, the main event on 34th Street are the Macy's wild-card windows.  They're the exciting ones.  This year I thought they were fine, but they didn't bowl me over like this dazzle.  I'll tell you about them soon, because they were pretty rad, just not as rad as these.  So there goes tradition.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Christmas March

This holiday season I got my little sister East Side for a week.  She came for the Turkey. Haha.  I have to make this joke every Thanksgiving.  It's obligitory when you have a sister who's a psycho dedicated vegan.  I almost had an unforgivable curse put to me for forgetting that vegan means no butter.... I put a few tablespoons in two pounds of veggies. Later when she asked for the receipe and I told her that particular part of the list, there was a bit of a rage black-out.  Luckliy the anger was hot enough to warm you up on a cold breezy night and isn't that what being a sister is?
Warm and fuzzy? Good times.

In the dead of night on a very chilly NYC evening, we put on our walking shoes and flounced off for the Brooklyn Bridge.

This is the photo she made me take. SEE IT?! SEE THE BRIDGE? 
I thrill to have visitors here at my home. It reminds me that I live a 20 minute walk from THIS spot. Right here:

I walk over the bridge at least once or twice a month, but it is magic to see someone else see it.  It baptizes it in special all over again. 

We waltzed down to the South Street seaport, where we caught the tree lighting and where I had a nerd attack at Brookstone.  April managed to keep it together, how I don't pretend to know.  They were having a sale on indoor helicopters!! Helicopters indoors.

Then April and I ran from some snatchers.  Luckily, we're pretty fast, and I'm pretty good with a camera under pressure. 

I don't know if you've heard, but every year Macy's does this thing where they design some window displays.  It's nice.  If Macy's were a movie it'd be
Fiddler on the Roof. (Careful it might get loud.)

Macy's would proudly trumpet,

Annually you're faced 3  walls of windows.  One wall is the tradition TRADTION tradition of a classic Miracle on 34th Street animatroic dysplay.  You get to peek into the whole "who believes in Santa Claus?' bit and watch a little girl gain belief in Santa.  It's a blast to watch play out.  There's beard pulling, the Macy's Parade and the whole nine yards.

Awww... lit'l sis likes it!

it is impossible to look at without cracking an ear to ear grin. See little sis, here? She didn't stand a chance.  I dare you to look upon the trial of Chris Kringle and not have your heart grow three sizes.

 Afterall, it's tradition.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pantone's Color of the Year 2011

Every year I look forward to December for five reasons.
Since Monday I have been obsessing over reason number 4....
What will the Pantone color of next year BE?!
I was almost hit by a PANTONE® 14-0848 Mimosa colored cab while
contemplating this as I crossed Broadway the morning of the big announcement.

When i got back from lunch yesterday I got the call.  Luckily, Best Friend @DuchessOJustice was on it. Keeper of my heart and best interests in the absence of anyone with testosrone, she linked me accordingly. I've been seeing through Paris-toned spectacles ever since. 

Withouth further ado, here is She Sure is Sketchy's take on this year's Pantone:

From Flicker and left-to-right
1.©Xavier Donat...  2.©SirWiseOwl...  3.©Tom Martin...  4.©Velvet Android...  5.©-Nat...  6.© Christing-0-...   7.©~*Bomba Rosa*~...  8.©Lst1984...  9.©Glovsky255...  10.©Shiny Red Type...  11.©Song_Sing...  12.©EricSkiff...  13.©Saffanna...

This is the song I sung this morning while thinking of Honeysuckle.

Last year, when Pantone bent to my will, and chose the most beautiful color on the planet for 2010, I knew a moment of magic had happened.  All year, whenever I found myself bathed in 15-5519 I would close my eyes, do a slow circle and make a wish.  That's pretty much how I found myself in Nassau, a lot of Turquoise wishes just came true

It is beautifully painful for me to let go of that flawless, perfect tone of  two thousand and ten. I have elected that a new 18-2120 gloss for my pout will mark the transition with a satisfactory amount of bliss and respect. With that I'm off to Sephora. First Honeysuckle wish of the year comes true! 

I wish you a Merry Pantone!

IF - Prehistoric

This morning I went to bed at two, woke up and woke up at six. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
I thought I'd make the best of it and finally cross off the nagging spot on my to-do that says "clean house so can decorate Christmastime"

I pulled on a pair of white tights, a white cami and a dress to go over the top and then went to get a garbage bag. On my way to the garbage bag I saw my long neglected pastels and watercolors. So it's been 2 and a half hours, and it looks like Christmastime isn't happening at the Penthouse at 302 Court this morning.

, this has been nagging at me in its own way, ever since the 12 of November when PbIdMo #12 hit me. So that's something. Now off to change out of the white with green sploch that the Cat in the Hat wouldn't dare to tackle.

Say it with me.... GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRR Hehe. Happy Friday.


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