my week in objects (mostly).

    July 10, 2020

    1. this flowering basil.

    {just because.}

    2. this wrap onesie.

    {because they’re the easiest.}

    3. these rain drops.

    {and a plan cancelling rainstorm.}

    4. these earrings.

    {and remembering to wear them.}

    5. this squeeze of lime.

    {and avocado toast for lunch.}

    other things:

    wasted space.

    solving the climate crisis is about everything.

    how can we organize society in a healthy, productive way?

    ready to be reborn.

    essay generator.

    for dinner.

    people will take what they need and leave what they don’t.

    the plague states of america.

    the perfect mask is useless if it never makes it onto someone’s face.

    helpful ratings.


    For those who have kindly asked, a few simple ways to continue to keep this blog afloat:

    Spread the word. | Buy a copy of Simple Matters | Sign up for my free Skillshare class with the link or | Drop spare change into a virtual tip jar via Venmo or Paypal (Stay tuned for more robust options coming soon.)| Always, thank you.

    This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.

    life in a tiny apartment.

    July 9, 2020

    Tip #193: There’s always room.

    The ways in which our world has shrunk in on itself since March sometimes makes me gasp for air while I’m loading the dishwasher. There are moments in the middle of the night when a small wave of panic washes over me; five heart beats in these two little rooms and I swear I can hear all of them at once.

    But even in a tiny apartment in the middle of a global pandemic, there’s always room for more gratitude. So I’m squeezing it into corners and crannies, but also setting the table and dressing the beds with it. I’m displaying it on dressers and shelves and in tiny vases with flowers—doing my best to keep it from being crowded out by the suffocating clutter of uncertainty or worse, despair.

    Another month has passed and we’ve managed to pay our rent. (The same isn’t true for other folks in our community who are staring down eviction notices and the end of unemployment benefits.) We’re still without childcare and school won’t be the same in the fall; my work has slowed to a trickle and grows more uncertain with every passing week, but for now there’s flexibility and against odds, the ability to distill whole work weeks into the few, odd hours. There’s a borrowed car for trips to the Rockaways, and a bucket for carrying home shells. There’s ice cream on the neighbors’ stoop after dinner.

    I’m sitting on the stoop now. Silas is napping in the stroller in front of me. There’s a breeze and a woman who lives down the street pauses to say her distanced hello. It must be so hard for me to work, she says, all those babies in a small apartment.

    Her husband is dead ten weeks now, unconfirmed Covid contracted in the midst of the worst of the pandemic. Upstairs, Calder is asleep in her crib. Faye is alternating between moping and building a robot from compostable berry boxes while James takes a work call. There’s a bowl full of stone fruit and cold water in the fridge. Room for gratitude abounds.



    In an effort to look beyond the confines of this little space and to extend a hand to our friends and neighbors, here are two action items to help folks in need of refuge:

    On June 15, the federal government proposed new regulations that would rewrite asylum law and threaten hundreds of thousands of persecuted families seeking refuge in the US. What can we do? Under the Administrative Procedures Act, the administration is required to review and give weight to every unique comment made regarding the proposed regulations. This means that the more comments folks flood them with, the more likely it will slow down the review process, possibly even preventing the regulations from taking effect altogether.

    Action item: Submit a comment regarding the proposed regulations by July 15. Comments don’t need to be long, but they do need to be unique! Speak from personal experience as an advocate, asylee, neighbor, or friend. If you’re not sure where to start, The New Sanctuary Committee can offer lots of guidance.

    The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also announced that it is out of funding and has asked Congress for additional funds or it will furlough its workers from the beginning of August until the end of October. USCIS is the agency that gives people green cards, grants them asylum, and naturalizes people to citizenship. If it shuts down, it will cause harm to hundreds of thousands, even millions, of immigrants. We need Congress to fund the agency, and to ensure there is oversight and accountability.

    Action item: Contact your senators and representatives by July 31 and ask that USCIS be funded with restrictions to ensure accountability.


    Finally, if you haven’t had a chance, I’ll humbly suggest getting a pen and some paper and spending a few quiet minutes with the live Skillshare class I filmed back in May. The class is an exercise in figuring out what’s working in your space, and what’s not, and where there might be room for improvement, but also room for gratitude. If you’re able, please share the affiliate link widely: Every new sign up and every minute watched contributes to my continued work in this space and I’m so grateful for the support.

    make your own: extra large string bag.

    July 7, 2020

    The stone fruits have returned to the farmers’ market, thank goodness. I’m celebrating every scrap of normalcy I’m able to find these days, including sweaty July walks home from the market carrying my weight in peaches and plums. To mark the season, I made myself a giant string bag sized to match my extra-large appetite for summer’s bounty.

    If you need a bag (or a project), this one is exceedingly simple. The technique is identical to the one Rose taught me to make a smaller, more delicate version, and uses the same round clothespins secured onto a wide frame.

    The only difference is, to size things up, I used 24 ply butcher’s twine from the hardware store and a stiff canvas bag for a frame in lieu of a 9-inch embroidery hoop. (When Rose has sized up, she’s used a cardboard box!) The specifics here are really up to you; the same basic string bag technique could be used with thicker macrame cord or cotton clothesline to make a heftier bag. (I’ve even stuck clothes pins around a tin can to make a mini version.)

    Like all flexible string bags, the contents placed inside will determine the shape of the bag when it’s being carried. This one tends to elongate downward rather than outward and you wouldn’t be wrong to use it to carry beach towels or picnic blankets or loaves of fresh bread.

    For step-by-step instructions, head to the original post Make Your Own: String Bag and just sub in a thicker ply string and a larger bag, box, or other substitute for the embroidery hoop! I used 17 clothespins placed roughly 2 inches apart around the bag’s opening. Any questions, just ask!

    All thanks to Rose Pearlman for developing the original project. Rose is an artist, teacher, and textile designer. With a background in fine arts and a love of well designed functional objects, her creations blur the lines between art and craft and pushes the boundaries with non-traditional techniques and materials. Rose teaches monthly rug hooking workshops in and around her home in NYC, and also welcomes commissions for one of a kind constructions in decor and home furnishings. Her work has been featured in fiber magazines, galleries, and numerous online design sites. Her book Modern Rug Hooking came out in December 2019 and is available wherever books are sold. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

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