Unruly Things

Today I have a guest post up at Unruly Things.

bloody mary

Check it out here. Or below:

Chances are good that if you invite me to brunch at your house, I’ll bring Bloody Marys. Typically this is met with enthusiasm, but tomato-based drinks are sometimes divisive: either you love them or you hate them. I’ll assume, like me, you love them.When I was thinking about what to write about for Unruly Things, I looked back through my Instagram feed for inspiration. One of the recurring themes was posts of different Bloody Marys I’ve made. Once strangers started commenting on the frequency in which I drink them, I realized that my love for a good Bloody Mary may be a little over the top

Over the years I’ve perfected my recipe. Friends have asked for it, and up until this point I’ve kept quiet. If I’m going to share it, why not let everyone know, right? It’s very simple and straightforward – there’s no need for it to be too complicated.


1 32oz bottle of tomato juice 2 lemons, juiced 2 tablespoons freshly grated or prepared horseradish 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons celery salt 1 teaspoon dried dill weed ¼ teaspoon cumin Vodka Pickled vegetables for garnish Ice

ingredients Directions:

1. Mix all the ingredients except vodka together in a large bowl. Whisk well.

2. Using the juiced lemon, wet the rim of the glass. Use celery salt to salt the rim.

3. Add ice to the glass, then mix one part vodka to three parts tomato juice mix.

4. Garnish with as many pickled vegetables as you can fit on a toothpick!

Makes enough to share with all your friends.

American Country

While thrifting last week, I was in the home and garden book section of Goodwill, and there was a man also perusing the books beside me. His son was literally circling the both of us, knocking into me every time he came my way. Normally I would just walk away and come back to the books once they had left, but I was feeling uncharacteristically stubborn, feeling like there was a reason for me to be right there, right then. I saw this hideous-looking book called American Country, and liking the name, I grabbed it. As soon as I opened this gem and saw each page filled with wide plank pine floors, worn farm tables, hanging dried herbs, basket collections, massive well-used hearths, harvest bounties, cabinets of home canned foods, old weathered saltbox exteriors, untamed herb gardens, and country stores, I threw it into my basket and let the man and his son alone.

Later that night I poured a glass of wine, curled up on the couch with a record on, and started looking through the book page by page. Even though I was home alone, I audibly gasped at the sight of some of these images. Many of the interiors books I own are overly polished and marketed to a certain demographic (which I'm certainly a part of). This book, published in 1980, is the real deal. I think what I appreciate most about it is that it proves that this is a timeless lifestyle, not just a popular aesthetic.

Since getting American Country, I ordered four more of Mary Emmerling's books online, and they don't disappoint either. But that's another story for another day.


It's no secret how much I love Christmas. Always have, always will. (I must have been 3 in this picture with my dad?)

dad with tree

Today I took my tree down. I've had it over a month, and it would drop a handful of needles at the slightest touch. There's something cathartic about taking it all down -- I think it's because I'm scared of clutter, and I was starting to feel like there was too much going on in my house. An old friend came into my house a couple of days ago, as he's in town for the holidays, and commented on how my house has "really filled out" since last time he was over. That alone made me want to take a trip to the Goodwill (not to shop for once, but to purge).

Anyway, this year my roommate spent three weeks after Thanksgiving in Australia, and so I took it upon myself to add a touch of  Christmas around the house. All around the house, actually.

There's honestly nothing that makes me happier than sitting in front of the tree at night, with the lights twinkling, Willie Nelson on in the background, sipping mulled wine with a friend.

Did anyone else grow up sticking cloves in oranges? That's the smell of Christmas for me. I can't ever get enough.

Now it's all over and a new year is about to begin. I could not be more grateful for the changes I've made in 2012 and for my incredible friends and family. In the words of my good friend Emily Katz, "oh it seems to me, that I might be, the luckiest girl in the whole wide world."


While that would be a good note to leave on, I can't not share this photo. I'm not sure how old I was here. Maybe 5? Julia, my older sister, got a boombox that Christmas and I didn't. Hence my face. Anyway, I hope you had a very merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy new year. Thanks for reading this thing. xo

Snowflakes in the Air

So there are actually no snowflakes where I am (yet). But this weekend I'm headed up to the mountain to stay in a cabin with a few friends, and I'm really hoping for snow. Just two days after Thanksgiving, which came early this year, my dear friend (and fellow Christmas fanatic) Jen and I drove out to the Mount Hood National Forest and chopped down our Christmas trees. Since then I have barely left my house. All I want to do is sit (on my new leather couch) with a friend, in front of the tree, with a warm drink in hand.

I've been listening to Christmas music since Halloween - seriously - and compiling a list of some of my favorite songs. In my family, we have few traditions, but those that we do have are significant. I cannot remember a Christmas in which we didn't listen to the Willie Nelson Christmas album, Pretty Paper, as we first open presents in the morning. We also listen to it while decorating the tree, and last year I finally invested in a record of my own instead of borrowing my mom and dad's. Nothing says Christmas in the Parker household more than Willie Nelson.

You can hear my Snowflakes in the Air mix here. Enjoy it with a warm drink.

Pretty Paper - Willie Nelson Skating - Vince Guaraldi Trio Baby, It's Cold Outside - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan O Come, O Come Emmanuel - Sufjan Stevens Aspenglow - John Denver Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky I'll be Home for Christmas - Frank Sinatra River - Joni Mitchell Song 3 - John Fahey White Christmas - Bing Crosby Christmas Time Is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? - Ella Fitzgerald I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun - Beach House Silent Night - Willie Nelson Listen (Listen, Listen) - Wintersleep Peace Carol - John Denver and the Muppets Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing - Sufjan Stevens Home Alone - John WIlliams Let It Snow - Dean Martin Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire - Nat King Cole Wallflower - Agnes Obel

Small Houses

As I was scanning pages from the Lofts book that I recently bought, I decided to look up other books that Jeffrey Weiss put out. My quick internet search showed this one, Small Houses, which I realized that I already own but had forgotten about.  I got this book at a yard sale last summer for  25 cents from an older eccentric man who must have been an interior decorator based on the stuff he was selling. His taste seemed pretty gaudy, so I'm sure this book was a relic from years past when his taste was more modest.


When I was a little girl, in kindergarten, we would have breaks during class to play. Most kids would play house in the small model kitchen we had in the back of the classroom. At age 5, for some reason, I thought I was too old for that, so I would usually sit on the rug and do something else on my own. Similarly, throughout elementary school I didn't watch cartoons -- they were too immature. Instead, I would wake up just as early on Saturday mornings to watch a public access show called Show Your Home. This was pre-HGTV, and the only show like it that was on to my knowledge. On this very sophisticated program, the local real estate agents in Eugene would give tours of homes for sale. Usually they were split-level ranch style homes: three bedrooms, two baths, double car garage, wall to wall carpet, etc. Whenever I'd go into town with my parents, I'd always grab the free real estate magazines outside of the grocery stores. I got so good at estimating the value of a house that I'd walk into any home and guess the square footage and value. I'm sure this provides some weird insight into my character that I'd rather not delve into.

I have absolutely no idea where this interest came from, but it's stayed with me my entire life. Now my friends turn to me to find them apartments or houses, as sifting through the Craigslist rentals to find a rare gem is one of my resumé-worthy skills. I would forever be content if I could find a place like one of these small houses to call my own.

____________________ All photos are scans of the Lila Gault & Jeffrey Weiss book Small Houses.


I haven't really been at this whole blogging thing for very long, so my absence likely has gone unnoticed, I'm sure. I've thought about this place often throughout the past couple months, but I've been doing more than reflecting. Maybe we can catch up sometime? For now, though, I want to tell you about my birthday. More than my birthday, I want to tell you about my friends. If I only had one of these amazing women in my life, I'd consider myself so lucky. But the fact is that I have a whole team of loving, thoughtful, and beautiful friends who overwhelm me with their generosity on a regular basis. They all got together for my birthday and planned an unforgettable weekend.

It started with an email I sent to a few of my closest friends saying that I wanted to have a party for my 30th birthday, but didn't want to plan it. Within a day of sending it, I had been taken off the email chain and was forced to relinquish any control I once had over the situation. Each friend took on a different task, from planning the menu and preparing all the food, to mixing the agua frescas, to decorating the house, and distracting me the day of the party. No detail was forgotten.

My house was filled with so much warmth that night.

The next morning -- on my actual birthday -- we had brunch up the street at one friend's house, with everyone who was included on that initial email. It was sweet and low key, and exactly what I needed the morning after a big party. At once, all of them looked at each other and nodded and said, "ok, let's go!" We all packed into a few cars, and they ended up driving me to my mom and dad's house. I knew they weren't home, and had no idea why we were there.

They brought me to the back yard, to the furthest point near where all the family pets are buried. There was a shovel stuck in the ground, with a balloon tied to it. It was rainy out, and we were all bundled up. I ran inside and grabbed my mom's coat and boots because I wasn't prepared for what came next. They each gave me a letter that they had written to me, that I wasn't allowed to read at that moment. I still haven't read them. Instead, I had to dig a big hole and bury these letters so we can reconvene in 10 years, on my 40th birthday, and dig them up. Two friends played guitar and sang "Bookends" by Simon and Garfunkel, which is one of my favorite songs. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and everyone else's too.

Once we buried the letters, we stripped down to our bras and underwear and warmed up in the hot tub before my parents got home.

I don't know what I did to deserve such an incredible demonstration of love, but I'm very aware of how lucky I am. I keep thinking of those letters and can't believe I have to wait 10 years to read them.

____________________ These photos were taken by Halley Roberts and Sarah Castagnola.


My entire life I've struggled with getting up in the morning. For a brief period when I was a little girl, I would get dressed in my school clothes the night before so I could sleep just a little longer in the morning. In the winter, to get me out of bed, my mom would wake me by telling me it snowed outside. For some reason it always worked, and I would jump out of bed and run to the window only to be disappointed. There was actually good reason to not want out of bed when I was young: we only had a wood stove to heat the house, and if the fire hadn't been burning for a while, it was freezing when we got up. That was an excuse during the cold months, but really my problem persisted year round.

As an adult, I'm a serial snoozer on weekdays. There's never anything that sounds more appealing than laying in bed for a few more minutes. Often I don't eat breakfast until I get to work, if at all. My morning routine is frantic, and usually ends in me running out the door with just minutes to catch the bus five blocks away.

The weekends are another story though. One of my favorite things about Saturday or Sunday mornings is that I get to wake up early and enjoy a nice home cooked breakfast. Eggs and coffee are always on the menu, but the rest varies. Sometimes steamed kale with preserved lemon and olive oil, and other times toast and jam. The morning after returning from Florida, I made poached eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee. Simple and delicious.

____________________ This photo was taken with my film camera.

Lazy Morning

After a week away in Florida, and a long journey back home, I woke up Sunday morning in my own bed. Finally. My trip was fine, but I've really just wanted to be home lately. I took Monday off of work, too, and laid in bed that morning appreciating the sunlight coming through the windows, casting shadows on my bedroom wall.

On Sunday I made breakfast for myself -- something I wholly enjoy after a week away -- and then picked up my sweet friend Sarah to get coffee and go thrifting. I found this wooden plant stand at Goodwill, and the golden clip lamp at a flea market. Both are welcome additions to my bedside.

Yesterday during my day off, I had a lot to do for an exciting project I'm working on with my dear friend Emily, which I'll share more about soon. It was my favorite kind of work: poring over magazines, books, and catalogs to find beautiful images to use for inspiration. Emily came over later in the afternoon and climbed in bed with me, and together we made lists, shared ideas about the project, and fell in love with the moment.

My bedroom is teeny, and sparsely decorated, but it's also the one place where I feel completely relaxed. I'm writing this right now leaning against that pillow, in what I like to think of as the cloud where I sleep.

____________________ All photos were taken with my film camera.


One of my favorite things to do is to go thrifting. Either alone or with a friend, or even my mom. At the Goodwill down the street, or in small towns around the state -- it's sort of an addiction. Not an unhealthy one though, I don't think.

Over the past few months, I've acquired some little treasures. A wool blanket for $6 in rural Oregon, a wooden cutting board for a couple dollars in the Berkshires, mismatched silver utensils in the Hudson Valley, a copper saucepan in some small town outside of Portland, and a bunch of other things in thrift stores around town. My sister found these ceramic plates at a local shop, and luckily knew I'd love them.

I'm usually too impatient to look for clothing, and always go straight to the housewares. At every store, my favorite aisle is the one with the baskets and wooden things. Glass jars, wicker baskets, ceramic mugs (or plates, or bowls...), wooden spoons and cutting boards, natural textiles -- these are all things I collect. I admit that I do enjoy a trip to Ikea from time to time, but it's important to me to have good quality, well-built things in my house. And because of that I prefer worn, imperfect to new and sleek pieces.

In her last years, my grandma would always send all her house guests home with something from her closet or kitchen cupboards. And they were definitely not always things we wanted. Sometimes I think that one day I'll be one of those old women who spends her time in thrift stores, buying strange and unique gifts for friends just because she thinks they'd like them. Then I remember that I already do that.

Cabin in the Woods

When I was back in Horton around Christmastime, I was strangely drawn to our old family friends' house. They moved away long before we did, and like my parents, kept their house. Also like our family, they had three daughters around our ages. But unlike us, the parents separated and went on to live their own lives. The father kept the house, and apparently he comes back every so often for a few nights, according to my sister.

I walked through the fence marked "Private Property," and made my way through the tall grass to the front of the cedar shingled cabin, which faces the creek. The details of the cabin didn't make me recall any specific memories, but the general feeling was familiar. Whenever I see that book Woodstock Handmade Houses, it always reminds me of the rustic cabins that my parents' friends lived in when I was young. This cabin has that same feeling as the ones in that book: cozy, natural, and kind of funky.

Once up the steps, I peeked in the windows and fell in love with the space. My mind started racing with all the things I would do to it if it were mine. Not that it really needs much added to what already exists, but it definitely needs an addition of a kitchen and bathroom. And I already have that worked out in my head. Needless to say, ideas have continued to swirl in my mind, and I can't quite shake the idea of living in this place. I keep imagining summer days with the big doors in the loft opened up to the outside, letting the breeze in. And the garden I would plant. And cold nights curled up in front of the wood stove with warm drinks.

____________________ All photos were taken with my iPhone.

Wood Shop

I woke up this morning with no plans for the day. Usually when that happens, I settle in on the couch with a cup of coffee and look through my favorite design books for inspiration. I only got a few pages into Hand Made Home (which I got for Christmas) before it was clear that I needed to actually make something today, not just look at beautiful things in a book.

I hopped in the car and went to the Rebuilding Center, where for $8 I found exactly what I was looking for -- even if the idea was only in the back of my mind.

Once back in the car, I called my dad asked what he was up to today. He said that my mom went to visit my sister, and he wasn't doing much. He's the only male in our immediate family, so he's been left alone throughout the years to watch sports and do maintenance. My dad is also a carpenter, and even when we were young he let my sisters and me use his tools under his supervision. I don't remember ever making anything in particular in the shop, but we got to saw and drill things, which was thrilling when we were young! Unless my dad has other plans, when I ask to use the shop he usually jumps on the idea. I think secretly he enjoys teaching me how to use the tools, and making me strategize how to do what I want to accomplish. And I also think he finds some satisfaction in knowing that I enjoy woodworking like he does.

So we spent the afternoon drilling, sawing, measuring, marking, hammering, laughing, and making this beautiful bench. He told me that I'd better learn how to use all of the tools, because they'll probably be mine one day.

  ____________________ All photos were taken with my iPhone -- I've been a lazy photographer lately.


  The week before Christmas, I visited my sister Julia out where she lives -- where we grew up -- in Horton, Oregon. Nobody calls it that anymore, but it still is on Google Maps as such. Horton is essentially a country road, aptly named Horton Road, with one little market at the end called the Horton Market. Our good family friends own the market, and they live in the attached house. My sister works there a couple days a week, just as my mom worked there when I was little.

I remember when both of my sisters were in school, but I wasn't old enough yet, I would go with my mom to work and just sit on the stool behind the counter at the store. I can't remember what I would do to occupy my time -- probably eat penny candies and color or something -- but I always liked to watch everything that would happen there. During the fall months men would come from all around to go mushroom hunting in the mountains around the little valley. The store bought the mushrooms, and presumably sold them to a distributor or a bigger store.

At the end of every year, our friends Sandy and Marilyn, the shopkeepers, need to take inventory of their stock and would invite their friends and family to help. It was a big event -- and still is -- that people of all ages would partake in. The kids were assigned the candy to count, and the adults tallied other higher up things. Once everything was counted, we could eat whatever we wanted from the shelves of the store. Or at least that's how I remember it. We always ended the night with a homemade pizza feast and plenty of long stories and board games.

When I was in elementary school I would have the school bus drop me off at the store so I could get a snack after school. I would then walk the two or more miles home, usually alone, because that was my excitement for the day!

So when I was just back in Horton, I had to go visit Sandy at the market. Walking into the store, and behind the counter into their home, always brings back such vivid memories of watching my mom and Marilyn can pickled beets, late night summer bonfires, the best salads in wooden bowls, playing horseshoes, petting rabbits, and so much more.

When I was there, Sandy reminded me about a little rendez-vous we had when I lived in New York, and he and Marilyn were visiting. He was born in the Bronx and spent the first 10 or so years of his life there, so he was back to explore his old neighborhood. It was a funny thing for both of us -- for him to see me, the little girl he knew in Horton, as an adult in the city; and for me to see the shopkeeper of the little market where I lived in the country in New York City, where he grew up.


I have a lot more to share about this short visit to Horton, so consider this just scratching the surface. It felt so good to get out in the fresh air, trudge in my rain boots, and sit in front of the wood stove.

____________________ All photos were taken with my iPhone.

New Year

New Year's Eve is usually pretty anti-climactic for me, and I often feel that I watch things happen rather than really join in on the fun. But this year was much different. I've had the best weekend -- filled with so much laughter and happiness -- that I can remember in a long time! It started with a nice dinner with an old friend and her family, and ended at 4am after dancing to Robyn in my highest heels. I hope it's a sign for the year to come, but I feel totally content with my life as 2012 is commencing.

The biggest theme that has emerged as I have been reflecting on the past year and thinking about the coming one is that I want to continue to pursue making and creating in 2012. Last year around this time I said something similar, and specifically that I wanted to create an actual space to make things. In 2011, Christie and I got our studio and published our book. I can only hope this year will be as productive.

To start the new year off, I spent some time this morning sitting on the couch, drinking tea and recounting the night before as I listened to npr. Tomorrow a friend and I are starting a 7-day detox to start the year anew. After this weekend, our bodies need it!

Here's to the new year and all that is yet to come!

____________________ All photos taken with my iPhone.

After Christmas

After Christmas, I always get a little depressed. Nothing serious -- I just get a little down because I don't have anything in particular to look forward to. Throughout the fall I traveled constantly it seemed, from mid-September through early December, I was going back and forth to the East Coast every couple weeks for work. It was exhausting, but fun at times too. Right now I'm looking forward to a bit more normality in my life. Breakfast at home, not at a strip mall coffee shop. It's time to slow down a little bit and relax. So while I don't have anything in particular to count down the days until, I am really happy to just be home and have time to appreciate mundane things like breakfast.

____________________ This photo was taken with my iPhone.