Wednesday, April 21, 2010



Yes, I look deliriously happy, but I have a good reason. The amazing Jane tagged me for the Happy 101 Award. The feeling is mutual, Jane! :) I wracked my brain for the last few days thinking about things that make me happy, and here's my list.

1 - My great loves: If you know a little bit about me, it's true that I'm quite unlucky (tragically so, it might seem) when it comes to my dating life... but I certainly have no shortage of love. My family and close friends are my support system and bring lots of joy and laughter. In life, I think we're always unrealistically searching for people who will love us unconditionally, not in spite of our flaws, but because of them. And somehow, I already have that in my parents, my brother + sister-in-law, the rest of my extended family, and my dearest friends.

2 - Art: I am an absolute art nerd. I stalk books on art history and criticism on Amazon. I visit museums often, gleefully. I used to work in galleries in Baltimore and still frequent openings for free wine (and a little inspiration, too). As an undergrad, I found a niche with the art historians, but took every hands-on class I could - design, sculpture, textile, painting, ceramics. My favorite art leans towards modern and contemporary. I love the modern German styles, from the Bauhaus and De Stijl and Weiner Werkstatte and I could go on and on. My wall calendar showcases famous typography, I kid you not. I could look at Jan Van Eyck's Annunciation for days and still be in awe of his ability to convey color and transparency. I find stained glass in medieval cathedrals to be overwhelming. I have a thing for Kandinsky, Richard Serra, furniture design, and performance art by the likes of Marina Abramovic and Miranda July. For me, art is all about experience and interaction, and I devour it.

3 - Bookstores: As a librarian, obviously I should be telling you to frequent your libraries (and honestly, the public library is where I have some of my fondest childhood memories), but oh the joy of an old, musty, used bookshop. I have spent many a Saturday afternoon on the floor between stacks of old paperbacks, poring through art theory, trashy memoirs, historical biographies, short story anthologies, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

4 - Crafting: This thing seems to have taken over my life. I dream about fabric swatches; I google embroidery stitches, and my bed is literally covered in yarn. I never thought something could become so encompassing, but I spend the entirety of my days making things, reading about making things, or thinking about when I'll get to have free time so I can keep making things.

5 - My bed: Speaking of my bed, I'm pretty sure this thing is the best purchase I've made in the past year. No one should sleep on a futon, and better yet, no one should sleep on a futon mattress on the floor. Last summer, I upgraded to a pillow-top queen-sized bed with high thread count sheets and pillow shams. And hey, I deserve it.

6 - Baltimore: It's pretty clear that I have a serious love affair with the city of Baltimore, the town for which this blog is named. The place is so different from neighborhood to neighborhood, so delightfully weird, and I never run out of things to do there. Sure, it has its problems (Hello, The Wire!), but who doesn't? No matter where I live, nothing will beat tapas outdoors on Charles Street in July, Sunday brunch in Hampden with hipsters, martinis on the 13th Floor of the Belvedere, Fluid Movement's water ballet at Patterson Park, midday coffee and knitting at the Evergreen, or shows at the Zodiac.

7 - Trying new things: Even the smallest adventure can really excite me. Downloading a podcast I've never heard. Eating steak tartare for the first time. Riding on an overnight train. My love for trying new things led me to knitting, to sewing, to my favorite restaurants, to cities I'd never explored. And this spirit reminds me to be open and to keep learning.

8 - Listening to my record player: When I pull out the vinyl, I flashback to childhood: My parents' old turntable. Dancing to "Cecelia" by Simon and Garfunkel in the living room. I still do the same thing now, but it's usually Van Morrison.

9 - Wearing skirts and dresses: In my opinion, this is one of the joys of being a lady (and I realize that many of you will probably disagree!). But oh, the freedom of wearing a skirt. The five-year-old child in me finds pants so restrictive, and I'd much rather layer up my crazy clothes in the depths of winter (skirt, leggings, knee socks, boots, top, cardigan, etc, etc, etc,) than wear a pair of jeans.

10 - Blogging: I've at times been made to feel that my blogging is self-involved and a little too self-congratulatory. And yes, it is! At the end of the day, I blog for myself. I hope people read and enjoy and maybe take away a little something from my blogging, but I fully admit that if anything, this blog is a record for myself. It is only after getting to know so many of you that I've realized blogging is much more to me - it's community. Know that I find you all to be so creative and inspiring, and that I aspire to be as talented as each of you!

And with that, I extend the Happy 101 Award to ten of you who make me ever so happy as well!

Lexy from lexyjane and lulu
Gabrielle & Marie from French Picnic
Lanie from Lanie J. and Co.
Milly from a girl in winter
Katie from katili*made


Jane said...

Rachel, thanks! And what a fantastic list. I would love to have a thimble-ful of your knowledge of art and design. I am sure that it influences your crafty life. (You see, I need to work on my creative side.) And I don't think a blog can ever be too self-centered. It's yours after all and, like finding the things we are grateful for every day, recording our successes (or even failures) in our blogs can only help us. Smile on!

a girl in winter said...

Thanks for the Happy 101 Award!

ELINA said...

There can never be enough art and book geeks in the world. I like your open attitude and enthusiasm towards new things. I think anyone could learn from that.

As Jane said, blogs are all about being self-centered. It's what makes blogs interesting. I don't read blogs that read like a newspaper, but those where the reader sounds like a real person. Maybe there's something stalkery there, but many people love to know about other people's lives in detail.

Marie-Jolie said...

Thanks for the shout out! I love books (and I'm actually kind of envious about the librarian thing), I also love trying new things, and I think being happy is where it's at! Great blog post! I really enjoyed it. :)

Lolly said...

what a fun read! I loved this - and agree with so many things you said - Baltimore IS great, and I miss it often. I went to college near there and worked there for years - funny thing is that I only live a few miles away now, but I don't get up to Bmore too often :( I am always heading down to DC since I work down this way.

We should get together - we have about a million things in common from the librarian thing to art/museum love and of course the knitting!

rachel said...

Thanks for all of the kind words, everyone. I love hearing all of your thoughts on blogging, and each of you make me smile too! :)

And Lolly - I'd love to get together! Expect an email from me soon.

g-girl said...

rachel, thank you ever so much for the award. :) i loved reading your list too..made me want to try out a pillow-top bed. lol. i, too, am jealous of your librarian status as well as your joie de vivre for all things art.