“The only thing moss needs is time.”

Last week, something incredible happened.


There I was, just minding my own business, when I received an invitation to attend “Weird, Wild, & Wonderful: An Evening of Women, Art, & Botany” at The New York Botanical Garden.

This was no run-of-the-mill lecture. It also included a meet-and-greet and book signing with Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Plants, Wicked Bugs, Flower Confidential, and her most recent best-seller, The Drunken Botanist. Joining Amy was Elizabeth Gilbert, acclaimed author of Eat, Pray, Love, and The Signature of All Things. Barbara Thiers, NYBG scientist and vice president of science administration/director of the herbarium, started off the evening with an overview of several famous women in botany and science, including Jeanne Baret, Agnes Chase, and Barbara McClintock, as well as a couple NYBG employees making a big impact in the botany world both locally and globally.


Robin Jess and Carol Woodin of the American Society of Botanical Artists also spoke about the history of botanical art (this type of art is a key component of Gilbert’s novel, The Signature of All Things), pointing out that botanical artists are curious explorers of the microworlds that are plants. Imagine that — your job as an artist — someone who’s creative and skilled with a paintbrush or pencil — is actually to be a bit of a scientist!


When Amy Stewart and Elizabeth Gilbert took the stage, it became more of a conversation between the two women, with audience interaction thrown in. They shared information about their lives (both run successful retail businesses; Liz is selling her house), their inspiration for their literature, and much more. I wrote down a few quotes from the evening, which you can read at the end of this post.


I got my books signed and got to take a photo with Liz Gilbert herself. She called me “sweetie.”

Elizabeth Gilbert and me at The New York Botanical Garden!

Elizabeth Gilbert and me at The New York Botanical Garden!


And so, here are some memorable quotes from the night:

“Virtually health foods, both of them.” – Amy Stewart, regarding the two cocktails with all-natural and vegetable ingredients she created for the event

“Science is us trying to tell a story about the world we live in, so we can make sense of it.” – Amy Stewart

“If you’re writing, make sure you know who you’re talking to.” – Elizabeth Gilbert (She said she always has someone in mind to whom she’s writing when she sits down to start a book. She wrote The Signature of All Things to her fourth-grade teacher.)

“The plants we’re depicting today are at risk of going extinct in the next 100 years.” – Robin Jess of ASBA

“Forget about passion, and follow curiosity.” – Liz Gilbert (Curiosity leads you to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing….)

“Nothing is beyond criticism, and perfection is an unattainable goal. …Perfectionism is a trap and a trick.” – Liz Gilbert (She credits her mom, Carole (who I met, who is a delight!) for helping her become stronger, and less of a “candy-ass wimp.” (Liz’s words, not mine.)


Moving Advice

The Mister and I are moving up the Sound just a little bit to our new apartment this week! In case you missed it, our landlord decided to sell our apartment, and after some very confusing communications between us and the management company, we were able to get out of the lease a month early in order to secure our new digs. In case you’re unfamiliar with the rental market, it’s unheard of for a landlord or management company to agree to let you break the lease without penalty. We’re very grateful.

Since this is our second move in ten months and our third move in a year and a half, we’re getting really good at moving we’ve picked up a few tricks to save money and time in the moving process. Our first move within the past year was halfway across country from Nebraska. This move is literally a few miles up the road. There are some key differences between these two types of moves:

  • You don’t have to pack as carefully for local moves. It’s true! Your stuff won’t get jostled around for HOURS in a moving van. Instead, it’s only for minutes.
  • You don’t have to pack as well for local moves. Got a few extra boxes that didn’t fit in your moving van because you decided to not be very discerning and just throw stuff into boxes? That’s cool.  You can always make an extra trip.
  • Your costs are much cheaper than a cross-country move.

These moves are also similar in that:

  • Moving is literally (seriously, literally) one of the worst things to have to do.
  • Moving will make you want to cry, scream, and then die.
  • So. Much. Work.

We’re no moving experts, even though we’ve moved apartments as many times as Two Men and Truck. However, we do offer these tips to those of you who also are forced to embark on this experience of living hell incredibly rewarding adventure while sticking to a budget of almost free.

  1. Steal boxes from your job (the ones they’re just going to throw away anyway). I recommend checking corporate policies, first, though. Certain businesses, like retailers, can be weird about it.

    Check out this Dell box that a computer I didn't buy came in!

    Check out this Dell box that a computer I didn’t buy came in! Also, this puppy is so sturdy, it’s been used for THREE moves.

  2. Keep small boxes designed for things like drinking glasses stowed away in a closet, especially if you know you’ll be moving again. Their specialty dividers or other features will protect your breakable items. (Just don’t be like Mister and want to keep every box that everything ever came in.)

    The box your drinking glasses came in is your best friend.

    The box your drinking glasses came in is your best friend.

  3. Use your underbed storage boxes (if you have them) to pack up breakable items, or items that need to stay flat. I pack things like ceramic trays and baking dishes in mine.
  4. Use towels and bedsheets to wrap up your breakables. These can be used in your underbed storage boxes, or in a regular ol’ cardboard number. This saves you money on bubble wrap, which is freakishly expensive.

    Underbed box + towels for cushion = arriving intact!

    Underbed box + towels for cushion = arriving intact!

  5. Doing it yourself, via a company like UHaul or Penske, will always be way cheaper than hiring a moving company, regardless of what they tell you on the phone when they give you an estimate, site-unseen.
  6. Recruit helpers. Pay for their gas, and feed them a delicious lunch and/or dinner.

What tips do you have for moving on a budget? Share them in the comments section!

Looking for pups in all the wrong places

As the Mister and I are preparing for the Big Move down the road, we’ve been looking for a dog-like individual to join our happy home. In our happy home, we have breed and size restrictions, plus self-imposed breed restrictions, so it’s been a little rough finding a pooch that checks all the boxes. It kind of reminds me of apartment hunting, except apartments aren’t cuddly.

We’ve turned to PetFinder (whose Foundation I support via SurveyMonkey Contribute) to look at dogs with local rescue groups. We’ve fallen in love several times, only to be disappointed (but happy, I guess), to know that the dogs have actually only just been adopted, or will be adopted within the week by other loving families searching for the exact same dog we are.

Now, the Mister and I got pretty impatient while apartment hunting. We just like to find what we want and be done with it. Blame it on the generational “instant gratification” thing, or the Midwestern ideal that things shouldn’t have to be impossibly difficult for no good reason. And now, we’re getting pretty impatient as we look for a dog to adopt.  Because, if I’m being completely honest, some of these rescue groups have pretty high standards for the area where we live — or for any area, honestly. How many boxes do you think most families who live in the NYC metro area can check on this one particular rescue’s list? (see below)

  • Fenced back yard required
  • Must own your home
  • Must have good credit
  • Must be able to comply with what we believe to be the dog’s needs after fostering the dog for a week (i.e. no children at all not even if they’re 16 and mature enough to know how to act around a dog, no children under age six [because five-year-olds are way different than six-year-olds?], no other pets, no cats, must have another dog to keep it company, no other dogs, must have a cat, must not smoke in the house)
  • In-home visit without the dog, three supervised visits with the dog, and two in-person interviews (Weekdays only)
  • You must, regardless of where you may live then, return the dog to the same rescue group from which you adopted it in the event you can no longer keep the dog. Even if you’re living in Germany. Or Morocco. Or Timbuktu. Get the dog back here. But we don’t ship dogs.
  • You must be at least 23 to adopt (again with the weird age restrictions! What is different about someone who is 22 versus 23? I was equally stupid at both ages.)
  • Adoption fee ranging between $400 and $1,500, regardless of breed, state of health, or amount of money the rescue group actually has invested in this particular dog

I’m not saying the work these rescue groups do isn’t admirable, because it really, really is. But we’re being rejected for things that are well beyond the scope of what most people can provide in this area of the country anyway. How successful is your rescue if only one in 50 applicants are even considered eligible to adopt from you? How can you deny someone you haven’t even given a chance or contacted or visited? It’s been so disappointing and full of such rigid restrictions that the Mister and I have been toying with the idea of purchasing from a breeder and have gone so far as to (gasp) contact a few to see if they have any litters available. (I feel really guilty about this because I don’t believe in buying from breeders when there are so many wonderful, homeless dogs out there. You know, the ones that are effing impossible to adopt.)

And then, the rescue groups send emails to people to deliver the news that the dog they fell in love with via a single photograph on a pet database has been adopted. Could they maybe at least not be condescending?

“Jack is meeting his new family today. They are a pre-approved home.”

Maybe I’d be a pre-approved home, too, if you’d at least try to get to know me.