Embroidered Mini Draw String Bags / Pouches

I’ve been trying to move out of the realm of felt patches and try some new mediums for my embroidery.  I got this homey loose-weave cotton situation at the fabric store a few weeks ago and started making these little embroidered bags:


I like the idea of having a purpose for my embroidery — patches or bags or something, where the embroidery is part of a usable object.  I’ve been keeping little charms or my favorite jewelry in these bags.  It’s also nice to have a small area to work on specific techniques — for example, learning to do the roses, or practicing the french knots on the salvia-style flowers.

Here’s how you can make one too:

Create a pattern for your bags (if you like).  I cut an old cereal box to the bag dimensions I wanted (“bag space” of 2” x 2” with about two centimeters of seam allowance at the top, one on each side.  I used this pattern so all my bags would be about the same size.

If your bag will be bigger than your hoop, go ahead and cut your fabric.  If your bag is smaller than the hoop you want to use, just do your embroidery and cut it later.

Embroider your pretty picture.  Ooh, great job!  (If you didn’t cut your fabric yet, go ahead and do that now).

Fold down the tops of the side where you want your opening.  I folded it down by about a centimeter.  Stitch across the top to create a tube on each end for your drawstring (I used a straight-stitch and doubled back on some bags to create one solid line).


Fold the bag in half and make the outside faces kiss.  Sew up the sides of the bag, being careful not to sew the two drawstring tubes at the top shut.

Turn your sewn bag inside out.  Cool, it’s a bag!

Take a piece of thread or string and pull it through each of the tubes.  Knot the ends together.  Oh, wow!  You just made a cute little drawstring pouch!


Here’s what you can do with it:

You should fill it with treasures, or secrets, or treasures that are secrets or secrets that are treasures.  Or, give it to a friend!  Fill it with treasures and give it to a friend!  Fill it with secrets and bury it in a coffee can so that a hundred years from now some kids will dig it up and have a spooky mystery to solve!


DIY Weasley is Our King Patch

Embroidery plus my love of all things Harry Potter (20 years since the first book was published!!) resulted in a Weasley is our King patch:

weasley is our king patch

If you are as big of a Potter Head as I am, you’ll know that the song Weasley is Our King was originally created by the Slytherins to intimidate Ron Weasley during quidditch games. However, it was “taken back” by the Gryffindors after Ron helped the Gryffindor Quidditch Team win the cup in Order of the Phoenix.

Here’s how you can make your own!

  1. Choose two pieces of felt in different colors.  I chose red and gold (because Gryffindor, of course).
  2. On the piece you want for the inner crown, embroider the words Weasley is Our King.
  3. Cut the felt out around the words in the shape of a crown.
  4. Place the crown on your second piece of felt (the “border color”).  Secure it with a pin or needle.
  5. Stitch the crown onto the fabric.
  6. Cut the border fabric to create a centimeter or so border around the first crown.

Voila!  Use as a patch or attach a pin back.  Wear while singing the song of your choosing.

Weasley can save anything,

He never leaves a single ring,

That’s why Gryffindors all sing:

Weasley is our King.

Swap Sale Finds

The middle school in our neighborhood had a swap sale/plant sale yesterday, and we stopped by to check it out.  We went during the last hour of the sale, which was great for me because a lot of people were literally trying to just give everything away.  I found a lot of really cool little accessories for $2.00 total.


This seller had an enormous collection of pins.  There were a few of my favorites — I especially like this “Safe Driving Award” pin (no accidents for 18 years!!!) and the weird masonic pin.  Other pins clockwise from top left as follows: Japanese ship pin from some Disney store, enamel bird pin, “Wurstfest 2008,” masonic cubic zirconia pin, scouts “Be Prepared pin,” and the gold star.


The Slytherin in me couldn’t resist this snake ring, although it only fits on my pinky (one downfall of bouldering is that it makes your fingers thick).


These last guys were sitting in the “FREE” box, and are clearly the leftovers of a child’s geode-breaking set, haha.  However, I have a hard time resisting something shiny, PARTICULARLY if it is free, so these went up with me (much to my boyfriend’s chagrin).

Here, Lately

Climbing has been a lot slower these days.  My knee continues to occasionally lock up, my shoulder has been aching, and today at the gym I “tweaked” my right hand somehow so now when I extend my thumb it hurts quite a bit.  Climbing out here is a lot harder, probably because we’re actually in the vicinity of quite a bit of real rock, whereas NYC was a little dry in that area.  I’m not a huge fan of the setting at our new gym — it’s a LOT of reachey, dynamic moves (and by reachey, I mean that several problems supposedly at my grade require moves that are a few inches larger than my full extension).  However, I keep sticking at it, although spirits have been low.  I’ve been stuck at V5 indoors since last year, and I don’t want to even get started on my performance outdoors.  Not good, to say the very least.

Denver is fine although after four months it still isn’t home.  “Home” as in the place where my boyfriend and I live together is great — it’s nice to finally live with him and only him — but we’ve a long way to go before we find all our favorites and look forward to coming back to this town after leaving.  Anyway, I got accepted into graduate school at the University of Denver (hoorah) so I’m hoping that once classes start and I have a job where I talk to people other than elementary students, I’ll make some friends.

More and more I’ve been turning back to art to make myself feel better.  I’ve always been quite an avid painter and crafter, although I didn’t really have the time or space to keep up with anything other than crochet and knitting in New York.  Here, we have the luxury of an apartment without roommates and that we can afford without working a million hours a week.  Both of those things help in supporting creative endeavors. So, don’t be surprised if more of that turns up in posts.  

Anyway, thank you for reading.  I’m trying to focus more on being grateful lately, so here are some things I am grateful for:

  • My car that continues to work
  • Audio books
  • My boyfriend hiding pictures of himself in funny places to make me laugh
  • Snacks

We Moved to Denver

NYC will always be the number one city in our hearts, but when the boy came back from Bhutan, we decided it was time to try a new adventure. And so, we moved… to Denver.

Why not, right?

We wanted somewhere with (easier) access to the great outdoors. While living in NYC, boyfrand and I spent most weekends with good weather leaving the city and driving the two hours north to go climbing in the Gunks. So, if most of our free time was spent leaving the city, why pay the millions of dollars in rent to live there? In Denver, we still get a tiny bit of the vibe of a city with the beautiful Rocky Mountains right on our doorstep. There are bouldering spots a scant 25 minute drive from our apartment — much closer than the two hours by car and hour by train to get to the Gunks. For long weekends and mini-vacations, we’re just about 5 ½ hours from Moab, 7 hours from Joe’s Valley, and 10 from Hueco.

We’re both from the east coast, and we’ve never lived anywhere “out west” before. It’s great to have (more) convenient access to beautiful US places we (or he or I) have never been before — Yellowstone! Badlands! It’s my dream to spend two weeks or so going on an Americana national parks road trip (you know, while we still have national parks to go to).

Another perk about Denver is that, although it’s considered an expensive city, it’s laughably cheap compared to New York. We were able to get a one-bedroom apartment just for the two of us that doesn’t leave us broke at the end of every month — something that, as a nearly 30-year-old, I appreciate, and something that in NYC would have been prohibitively expensive unless we both switched out of our careers in teaching and non-profit and went into the escort business.

Anyway, it’s been about a month, and we have an apartment and jobs. I had to buy a car (an expense you don’t need to worry about in NYC), but at least I don’t have to ride the subway anymore. We’ve been on two bouldering trips and a hiking trip — so far, so good! We both definitely miss the thrill of living in New York — particularly the world class museums and food from every corner of the world available at literally any time of night — but we’re excited to try something new.

First Time Sport Climbing at Rumney

Over Labor Day weekend, I had the privilege of taking a trip to Rumney, NH to try sport climbing outdoors for the first time.

I say privilege because I don’t know shit about sport climbing.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  My two very gracious friends invited me to come along, and even after I explained — repeatedly — that I would have no idea what I was doing, they said “Come anyway!  It’s the best place to learn!”

So basically my friends are the sweetest people in the world.  But I digress.

Both of my friends are strong leaders and have been climbing for a while (one even used to work at a gym and taught belay classes), so they were the ideal people to go with.  They would lead a climb, set up a top-rope so I could try it, then another would either lead or top-rope and clean behind me.

Not only was it my first sport climbing trip, it was also my first three-day climbing trip, so one of the biggest challenge was just having enough energy to finish everything.  The third day was only a half day because we had to drive back down to NYC, but by then my skin and whole body were both basically done.  


Steph leading Dolt 5.10a

I’m primarily a boulderer, so I’m used to being able to repeatedly throw myself at a problem.  Things don’t count unless you do them all at one time, and even then you get pumped so fast you better just keep moving, because there’s no quitsies.  As such, sport climbing was a very refreshing mental game-changer for me.  In order to have enough endurance to finish the route, you have to take breaks; sometimes you can just prop your feet, lean against the rock, and take a breather for a minute or two.  If you need to take at the top of a problem so you can figure out how to move through it, you can, because your buddy is right there willing to hold you.  This is great for practicing tricky moves.


Steph (left) on Drilling for Dollars 5.8

One thing I also noticed when top-roping was because I felt so secure with the rope, I was accomplishing things I wouldn’t have thought myself capable of.  Drilling for Dollars has a move that’s a far, high left heel, that you have to pull yourself up and over.  One person on Mountain Project compared it to stepping out of a six story window and trusting that you wouldn’t fall.  I saw others struggle with the move from the ground, but using their beta I was able to complete it on my first try.  It was a move that, on a boulder problem, I may not have tried, because I would have been so afraid of falling.  

Moral of the story:  I’m a stronger climber than I give myself credit for.

So while I probably won’t get the chance to do it outside again any time soon, I think sport climbing might be my new hobby.  Next on the to-do list:  acquire my own harness, take a belay test.

Route List, all top-roped, no lead:

Routes I flashed:

Things You Should Have Learned in Kindergarten 5.6

The Nuthatch 5.7

Fat Man 5.7

Drilling for Dollars 5.8

Squeeze My Lemon 5.8

Dung Beetle 5.9

Routes I finished but had to take once or twice:

Toxic Gumbo 5.8

Junco 5.8+ (ps I hate slab)

Dolt 5.10a (had to take about five times but I got there eventually)

Routes I fell off of/couldn’t finish:

Lonesome Dove 5.10a

Underdog 5.10a

My favorite routes were Drilling for Dollars and Toxic Gumbo, and the one I’m most proud of finishing is Dolt, mostly because it was ridiculously high and intimidating.



Daaaaaay by daaaaay

(Just kidding.)

We went up to the Gunks again on Saturday (shout out to the home crag). I only sent three problems (no new, all re-sends):

– Blasted Rock V1
– Unnamed Boulder Problem V1
– Black Boulder Crack V0

But I got further on three of my projects:

Baby Hole V3 – I have successfully reached up to shove my fingers in the actual baby hole and hold on; now I have to figure out how to get my left hand up and over to the dang top (and then the terrifying top out, of course).

The Lorax V4 – I just started consistently being able to get the weird left hand and come out from the big holds underneath. I am now falling when I have to get my right hand up to the lip. It’s a little scary, though, because my right foot keeps getting stuck in the bottom if I fall, and since legs aren’t super long, my ankle gets caught. No breaks, no sprains, but it definitely made me nervous.

Boulder of the Gods – 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up before getting too scared and coming back down. Even though the climb isn’t technically difficult (V0-?), it’s a highball, which makes me terrified. Not only is it a highball, it’s a highball with less than ideal moves at the top and a tree to fall back into. But my goal is to send an easy highball and build more confidence in climbing higher.

I had a much better attitude going up this trip than on previous trips because I was thinking about things on a move by move basis, rather than a send-by-send basis. Bouldering is hard, and if I only focus on whether or not I complete a whole problem I get frustrated, because obviously it’s super hard to send whole problems. However, if I consider it on a move by move basis, it definitely was a day of progress. So I just need to concentrate on moves instead of sends, and I’ll be a happier climber.

You Used to Call Me on My Cellphone

*** For all of you that read my blog for the climbing posts, be warned — this isn’t one of them.  But feel free to stick around if you want to know how I compare my love life to popular songs. ***


You used to call me on my cell phone…

Hotline Bling has been in my head for about the past two months.  It’s just so damn catchy.

I think it’s funny that the gist of this song is supposed to be something like Drake leaves, and this girl he… loves?  used to love?  was interested in?… is partying and going all sorts of places and generally having a great time, and Drake’s pretty upset about this.  He says that she’s “got a reputation for herself now,” and that she’s “hanging with some girls [he’s] never seen before.”  Before, she used to “always stay at home, be a good girl.”  Drake also states that “Right now, [she’s] someone else.”  She’s different; she’s changed.  She’s not the person that Drake used to know.

But who can define this girl’s goodness?  What right does Drake have to make decisions regarding the morality of her behavior?  Even if it is coming from a place of intimacy and love, the idea that Drake knows her better than she knows herself (as some people feel about the ones they love when those loved ones do things they don’t like) disregards this girl’s agency.  We should all be allowed to breathe, to experiment with new styles or behaviors, and to explore new aspects of ourselves.  And is anything she’s doing actually bad?  She’s going out, wearing clothes that she likes, partying with all sorts of people, and generally having a good time.  That doesn’t seem bad to me, provided she’s not getting into fistfights at the club or stealing purses or something.

Drake says she “make[s] him feel like [he] did [her] wrong.”  We’re assuming Drake and this girl were intimate somehow — implied that they were lovers, or at least love interests — and Drake is now surprised that, after he has left, she is doing things that make her happy instead of staying home and mooning over him as she’s supposed to.  He’s also wondering if, since he left, she has found someone else to be with.

So, when it comes down to it, basically this song is saying something along the lines of “I left, but I’m upset and scared because it seems like you are not dying without me, which makes me feel like you don’t need me.”  It’s coming from a place of fear; Drake fears he is replaceable.  This girl’s actions show him that he is not the center of her universe.  But should he be?

If you love someone, don’t you want them to be happy?  Especially if you’re choosing to do something that separates you?  If you love someone, truly love them, don’t you want them to feel as complete as possible?

Boyfriend left exactly one month ago yesterday.  He got a contract teaching in Bhutan for a year.  People do this all the time; I spent three and a half years working overseas in my early twenties.  He has never lived overseas and always wanted to, so when he was this particular opportunity, he jumped on it.

Part of this is because his thirtieth birthday is coming up; it’s not for another year and a half, but I know he feels it there, looming on the horizon like the end of the world.  Like most of us, he is afraid of waking up one day to discover that he had never done anything and now is too old.

Part of this is because he is a very good boy, and his growing older reminds him that his parents are growing older, and he wants to eventually live closer to them to help support them.  I think he fears “going back home” will be the end to any sort of adventures.  It will be Time to Be Responsible.

A small part of me wonders if he and I getting more serious — moving in together, becoming domestic — scared him about becoming too normcore.  That our relationship was a symbol of the end of his adventures as well, so he needed to go out and do something radical (although he, of course, loves me and assures me that we will be together forever, etc. etc.).

Am I thrilled that he’s gone a scant six months after asking me to move in with him?  I’d be lying if I said that I was.  But I also love him, and I want him to be happy and complete, and if he feels that can’t happen here, well, the he should go.  And so he has.

But only for ten more months.  And this is good for me as well — when I’m in a relationship, I have a tendency to put most of my efforts into my partner instead of myself.  Boyfriend and I got together very soon after I moved to New York, so it’s probably good that I now have this huge chunk of time to explore the city on my own terms.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  And deep down, I know it’s true.  We both could use some time to work on ourselves, so that when he comes back, we’re both ready to build something together.

Anyway, to quote Drake again, Boyfriend is getting “exactly what [he] asked for, running out of pages in [his] passport,” and I’m happy for him.  Or, if not exactly happy, I at least recognize his own agency and support him in his quest to find out exactly what life means.  And I will continue to do so when he gets back and realizes that life is one giant question and he still has a long way to go before he finds any answers.

Or, you know, makes peace with the fact that perhaps there aren’t any.

And I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing…

Review: prAna Flannel-Lined Boyfriend Pant

I’m not much of a “gear,” person.  I don’t have to have the best of everything; my bouldering outfits usually consist of whatever I can pile on top of myself to keep from freezing if it’s too cold outside.  My gym wear usually consists of old t-shirts and leggings under athletic shorts.  However, I agreed to go out bouldering with the gang on a thirty-four degree day; preparations were necessary.  I set off to REI to find something that would prevent me from dying of exposure.

What I found was prAna’s flannel-lined boyfriend pant.  The sizing surprised me — not only was I able to fit into a size zero, but even with a pair of leggings underneath it, they were still a little big.  I would not recommend these for any of you chicas that fit comfortably in something like a Forever 21 size 0 — you’d probably be swimming in them.  I’m really glad I was able to try them on, because I probably would have ordered a “2” online and then been super bummed when they fell off my butt into a flood of fabric on the floor.  They’re also a bit long, so be prepared to roll the cuffs.

These are a lot more flexible than they look.  They’re a cotton-poly-spandex blend, so there’s a bit of stretch to them, and not once during our session did I feel like they impaired my movement.  They’re lined with super-soft flannel, so it feels like you’re slipping on a pair of pajama pants.  Paired with my leggings, I couldn’t even feel how cold the rock was.  And as for what makes up the most of bouldering time — standing around — these pants definitely made it more comfortable.  

Original retail price was $100, but I got them on sale for $70.  These are easily the most expensive pants I’ve ever bought, especially given the fact that I bought them for what essentially amounts to rolling around in the dirt.  If they hadn’t been on sale, there was no way in hell they would be coming home with me.  Now, I realize the high price actually covers a lot of things, most importantly the use of non-sweatshop labor and sustainable production techniques, etc., which is why I was willing to pay so much in the first place.  However, I was definitely nervous about taking such an expensive gamble on a brand that I had no experience with.  Luckily, they’re great!  A+, highly recommend.  

The Four Point Day

The first time I went climbing outdoors was April of last year.  After three months of going to the gym regularly, I was sending V1s and V2s.  My boyfriend invited me to go climbing outdoors with him and some buddies up in The Gunks, and I, hungry for my first taste of outdoor climbing on real boulders, readily accepted.

My goals for the day were, in my naïve opinion, reasonable — the low goal was to send a V1.  The medium goal was getting three points.  And the ultra-high goal was to have a five point day.  Looking back on this now, these were definitely some steep expectations. I clearly had no idea what to expect.  As it was, I was barely able to start any problems, much less finish them.

Since that trip, I’d gone back up with the gang numerous times, and despite my many attempts, still had yet to accomplish my Three Point Day.

New York’s random warm streak and minimal snow has lingered all season, and Saturday’s conditions were fine for bouldering.  My expectations for this trip were low — I merely wanted to hang out with my friends, maybe re-send a problem or two, and try not to die of exposure in the cold temps.

We started, as has been the habit of recent trips, at Boxcar Boulder. I re-sent Unnamed Boulder Problem #3 (V1), but for some reason couldn’t get back on top of Blasted Rock (V1). We expected the rock to feel a lot stickier on account of the cool weather (temps in the 30s), but I just couldn’t stay on the top right crimp. Alas! My ego was a little wounded, but I didn’t dwell on it long, because we had new things to try.

We walked all the way down to the big curve in the Carriage Road to try some things we hadn’t been on before. Boyfriend and the strong kids wanted to take a crack at The Art of Nothing (V8), while myself and some others wanted a go at Even Chubby (V1) and the V3 (whose name, if it has one, I can’t remember) next to it.

Even Chubby isn’t a particularly difficult V1, although the end has a reachy throw that is definitely out of my comfort zone (however, videos I’ve seen on YouTube show a right-hand that was not confirmed as being on, and a top-out further out right than we thought – video vs. actual problem yet to be confirmed). Pair that with a rocky bottom, and it was a little scary to do. However, 2016 is the Year of Trying Harder, so when I reached the point where I usually would have looked at the distance to the throw and said “Fuck that,” I actually took a chance and made a push for it. Imagine my surprise when I felt my hand wrap around the lip. Unfortunately, I fell off immediately afterward, but it felt good to have gone for something I normally wouldn’t have and make some progress toward it (and not kill myself in the process).

By this time it was already getting late, and sundown was a mere hour or so away. We had a couple Gunks newcomers with us, so we headed back down the Carriage Road to try out some classics. A couple people took some burns on Gill Pinch and Gill Egg, while A and I worked on Clune Crank. My previous attempts at Clune Crank were not very fruitful. I usually chickened out right before the last move, on account of the (surprise!) throwy finish. I took a couple of burns and, in the spirit of Trying Harder 2016, made a throw for the lip. And I made it! Not only did I make the throw, I stuck on it, and managed my first top-out in a feeling of something other than complete panic. Two points!

At that point we were all pretty much done. “Too bad about the three point day,” was a statement made. And then M got a strange gleam in his eye. “Lazy Mayzie,” he said.

Lazy Mayzie is a very juggy V2 near the Welcome Boulder. From our guesses, it’s a V2 because of the high chance that you’ll dab your back on the boulder directly behind it. Which is exactly what I’ve done every other time I’ve climbed it. I pointed this out to M, and he merely said “So? I’m taller than you, and I can do it, so you can definitely do it.” Boyfriend said “So just don’t dab your back.” And the rest of our motley crew, kind and encouraging and wonderful as they are, were willing to wait for five minutes while I reached for my dream of the ***Three Point Day***.

It was cold, and I was tired. I had one burn in me. I slipped on my shoes, thankful that I had copied M and shoved handwarmers in the toes of them as we walked. I chalked up and pulled on. And by keeping my hips up and my body close to the boulder, I hurled myself up it, without dabbing my back.

And I got it. Not only did I have a Three Point Day, I got FOUR.

M was on top of the boulder while I got there, with a big grin on his face. I waved my arms around in my excitement at the crew below and almost knocked M off the top of the boulder, but thankfully didn’t, which is good because that would have been a total dick move.

As we left the crag, I was exhausted but also ridiculously pleased, proud, and content. To be honest, I had discounted the possibility of being able to have my Three Point Day this season. And I couldn’t have done it alone – I owe most of my confidence, my strength, and my small-but-growing desire to try risky moves entirely to my friends. They provide me with endless support, encouragement, and beta, and they’ve always had my back, whether spotting me on relatively easy problems or talking me through panicky top-outs when my body is already 75% over the lip. Boyfriend, M, A, and the whole gosh-darn MgCO3 crew, this Day’s for you!