Thursday, December 31, 2009

Highlights of 2009, Part 2

Top of the Oriental Sign French Props
Living in Chicago, where there is a lot of theater we got a chance to see a few interesting performances this year. One was a free aquatic performance (picture above on the right) by a french group performed out near the end of Navy Pier. (I originally blogged about it here.) Another outdoor performance was by Redmoon Theater and was a sort of musical based on a fictional Norwegian Pop star. I tend to highlight events that sound truly unusual, difficult to imagine from written descriptions and possibly involve puppets and these two events fit the bill.

We also recently got to see The Addams Family, a new musical in previews here in Chicago which they will take to Broadway soon. It is still playing at the Oriental Theater (signage pictured on the left) for now. It stars Nathan Lane & Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia. What really impressed me though was the set design, which was rotated, connected & assembled to create various sets, reminding me of the original stage version of Sweeny Todd, only with a larger budget. There were also puppets involved. It was pretty cool.

We didn't have a chance to go to as many concerts as I would've liked this year. Perhaps in part because the first one we made it to was a pretty big deal. Leonard Cohen toured this year, and seeing as how I've been listening to his work (at first with my parents) for over 25 years, I couldn't miss his show. And it was well worth it! We did get to one other show, on my birthday as it happens. Devandra Banhart was much better in concert than I expected, in fact it was a fantastic show, summarized well over at chicagoist.

Tiramisu Cupcakes Tempeh Meatball
I'm probably resolving, again, to cook more often than I currently do. So my favorite sources of inspiration for that from 2009 are shown above. Tiramisu cupcakes, from Vegan Cupcakes take over the World, and tempeh meatballs from Vegandad. The meatballs were surprisingly easy to make, and the cupcakes were not surprisingly harder, but not that hard, and well worth the effort. These photos make me I will move on.

Ikea/Jansdotter Bag Endcap

Pictured above are, yes, the only two things I sewed up this year. But I was satisfied with the results. I enjoy sewing...the Lotta Jansdotter bag especially, with many pieces was a lot of fun to construct. But somehow I find that it just takes to much for me. I can almost see how it isn't really all that much, and especially not that much more than knitting I guess...but somehow I find that (though my yarn stash can at times make a mess) it's much easier to tuck away some balls of yarn, a project,'s significantly more difficult for me to pull out the sewing machine, ironing board and everything else in our small apartment. I either have to commit to single setting project completion, during which time it sort of feels like the whole apartment is in chaos, or I am faced with a mess to clean up then recreate until I finish. It feels like more of a pain than I want it to. But I will keep trying, I feel like I have improved even though my projects have been few and far between. And maybe some day I'll have enough space for a sewing corner or something, where stuff can just sort of stay out.


As for resolutions....I'm making "read more" a resolution again. should go better this time. I was given a Kindle for Christmas, which really surprised me. I've been having a lot of fun with it so far, and I expect will help me towards this goal. (one way it helps is that I can knit and read with less of a challenge than propping open a book) Pictured above is a contest entry to win a kindle etched with your design (I didn't win.) I have no plans to etch that into my kindle (I'm not taking any risks, the thing is too awesome!) but I might end up doing something with that design.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Highlights of 2009, Part 1

I haven't posted in ages, I realize. 2009 has been a crazy year. I thought I'd at least end it by posting some about my favorite parts of this year.

Lighthouse on Ice Treads
Last January we took a road trip up to a border town in Minnesota called Grand Portage...for no really great reason. Loosely because Chuck's studio project was the design of a border crossing station there, but really it was just for fun. It was cold, but so pretty and we got to be in nature and snowshoe.

Robie House Porch Opening Weekend

Architectural two things happened. One, I started volunteering at Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House in Hyde Park. It's been a great way to stay motivated since architecture as an industry has been very slow in the recession. I initially didn't think I was suited to giving tours, but I have since come to really enjoy it. I also get to help out with restoration projects like gardening & cleaning windows, special events and their Lego architects program for kids. Secondly, though it's not quite as personal, I have to mention the opening of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute by Renzo Piano. It's a very lovely and photogenic space, with the highlight being, as in many of Pianos museums, that the gallery spaces enjoy natural lighting without damage to the art on display. Plus there's a really nice Architecture collection there with sketches and models of everyone from "form follows function" Louis Sullivan to the local, woman-owned Studio Gang Architects.

Frontier Jacket Rapunzel Stockings

I've done a lot of knitting this year, I found that my skill and speed has improved quite a bit since I started. There are still techniques I struggle with and have yet to learn (part of what makes knitting exciting.) I recently found out that color work (vs. lace and cabling) is not one of my strong suits. Two of my favorite projects completed this year are show above. The Frontier Jacket was relatively simple, a seamless knit with an interested method for attaching the sleeves, from Knitscene Winter 2007 by Wendy Bernard. It produced what I think will be a useful final product, and I originally bought the yarn for $10 at a craft supply event in Wicker Park. The second project shown is a pair of stockings that were irresistible to knit up, but took a very long time to complete, I'm still amazed I did. They are the Rapunzel Stockings from Knit.1 Winter 2008 by Ysolda Teague. There are several other project I was pretty happy with this year, some of which you can see in my flickr set highlighting my favorite photos from 2009.

Tomorrow I promise to post again, finishing off some of the highlights from my 2009 before they year is over. I'll post about the concerts, shows, cooking and sewing accomplishments. And perhaps I'll even try to make a few resolutions. ( perhaps blogging more often? we will see.)