Starving Student Christmas Special: DIY Fresh Wreath!

2012/12/05 § 1 Comment

I worked at an arts and crafts store for three years and over time I worked my way into positions I enjoyed very much. When I wasn’t lurking in yarn and t-shirt crafts, I was “staging” or putting together displays. One year I did all of the large Christmas displays, and it was the most fun I’d ever had at work (before or since. There’s really nothing like getting up at 4am to head to work in ratty work clothes to spray flock paper trees. Yes, that happened.). Working at said arts and crafts store wasn’t easy on family. I basically made them start taking holidays other than Christmas seriously (I’m still bitter that no one puts up my Halloween decorations when I’m not there, and let’s not even get started on the pumpkin wreath). One of the things that no one saw coming was my love of wreath making. There’s just something so satisfying about making something that, when placed on a front door, everyone can see!

Since I worked at this big store, I always decorated faux wreaths. It actually makes more sense- they are easier to manipulate, they don’t drop needles everywhere, you can hot glue stuff to them, and then you can reuse them the next year! All you have to do is find somewhere to store them, and in SoCal, that isn’t really an issue. But when I moved to NYC last year, I found that I couldn’t get a fake wreath to decorate because…I have nowhere to store it. Seriously. Space is nonexistent and the little storage space I do have is dedicated to shoes. So a real wreath it was. I went to the dollar store and found some decorations, and then went to Home Depot and dropped a ridiculous amount of money on a real wreath. When I could get a fake one for five bucks, that felt like ugh, but it was what we had, so that’s what we had. After Christmas, I saved my decorations and pitched the wreath.

This year though, I went to the greenmarket and spent a whopping five dollars on a bunch of tree boughs and made my own wreath! It was my first time doing so, but I’m pretty dang proud of it. Factor in the fact that I used yarn I already had along with metal hangers to put it together and decorated it with last years decorations, and woot, this is one affordable wreath! I should note that I wasn’t aiming for one of those super fluffy, full wreaths. This was simple, with the intention of bringing a smile to the face of whoever catches sight of it. I think I achieved that!


Here’s how I did it!


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Four tree branches, some yarn, scissors, box cutter, metal clothes hangers (3ish), and a broom.

Play bendy straws with the branches, and start tying them together in a line that will eventually become a circle.

007 008But Allie! you say – this is super weak and isn’t holding a shape! Ah my little crafters, that’s where the clothes hangers come in. Unbend a few of those suckers and just start wrapping them around your wreath, and you’ll find that all of a sudden, it all gels. (Don’t tell my boyfriend I was playing with pointy metal things. Apparently I look like one of those people who will just walk into traffic, so y’all be safe now with your eyeballs and the sharp things, y’hear?)

Hang it up on a door, and notice that it’s kind of scraggly.


That’s ok, just start playing with it. Cut off the extra bits and put them where there is less. Can that extra piece just be tucked behind a wire? Probably!


Once you’re done playing with it to get it more even looking, now you can decorate it or leave it be. Since I had decorations, I put them up there. See how I put more flowers on the left to balance out the right side?


Enjoy your fresh, awesome-smelling, pride-inspiring wreath, and then go sweep your floor!


Where mine is on display!

Where mine is on display!


What I Did On My Summer Vacation

2012/09/11 § Leave a comment

This summer I interned at the Oskar Diethelm Library, DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College. Actually, it was a continuation of my spring semester internship, in which I inventoried, rehoused, and cataloged the 500 objects in the Prints and Photographs Collection. Part of that collection was made up of a smaller collection of 19th century trade cards, which was the focus of my summer project.

I build a digital archive and online exhibit based on these trade cards on a website built for libraries and museums called that’s basically a publishing platform much like (There’s another version called that is an open source, hosted software that’s much more complicated, much like My work involved inventorying and cataloging the trade cards at the item level, where before I had just entered them as a single entry in the Prints and Photographs Collection catalog; setting up the omeka site, digitizing the cards, and entering the files and metadata in the archive; researching trade cards, patent medicines, and 19th century medical history; and finally, writing the exhibit and setting it up correctly online in the same platform as the archive itself.

It was a lot of work, and there were quite a few days I yelled at my computer a lot (I think once my boss even came to check on me) but in the end, I’m very proud of what I accomplished this summer. It’s a nice addition to my portfolio, showing off my pro-librarian skills and mad historian background.

[When you’re done laughing, click here and check it out! This link will take you straight to the exhibit, while this link will take you to the front page of the omeka site itself.]

You can also check out my practicum project here! This will tell you all about my day to day doings, my literature review, and the mini paper I wrote so I could get credit for my time at ODL.

And while we’re at it, my portfolio is here if anyone is interested in reading any of my work I’ve done in grad school.


2012/08/27 § 1 Comment

Summer on the East Coast is an interesting amalgamation of weird. I love how warm it stays at night- leaving the house without a sweater after the sun goes down is something I had never imagined doing. While the sun is definitely going down earlier now, for a while there it seemed like it was staying up forever and even late, late at night it felt like it was light out.

(This could also be because hello, New York City. I think it was a little of both.)

There are of course things I hate about the East Coast in the summertime. To absolutely no one’s surprise, it’s the humidity. I hate, detest, deplore, abhor, hold in abomination (thanks!) the humidity. At the very most, it makes me want to die and at the very least makes me want to cut all of my hair off. You know how I have somewhat curly hair? (Or at least, it can be somewhat curly hair?) Yup. That sucks. So does trying to go to sleep at night when it’s 78 degrees and 70% humidity.

But there is one thing that I have learned to love about summer on the East Coast. Thunderstorms.

I have no desire to be out in them. Thunderstorms are spectator-only sports from my point of view. I love to see the clouds roll in- black and scary and all of a sudden the world just looks different. The thunder starts from far away, just low rumbles that could almost be the 7 train, but happen too often and just a touch to loud to be the train. Then a crack or two of lightening, and all of a sudden the sky opens up and the rain comes down and for 10 minutes all there is is the music of rain and lightening and thunder. And maybe the far-off shriek or two of the nearby pedestrian who missed the signs.

Of course, there is the storm or two that just scares the crap out me. One night I got woken up by a giant bang right over my head and before I knew it I had my head under the covers and I was on the phone with Rachel for an hour, with the storm going the whole time. I was completely terrified.

Even still, I love the storms. I’ll miss them come fall, but by then I’ll be focused on the cooler weather, the reemergence of my knitting needles, and the changing colors all around. I’ll forget these afternoon storms and instead be happy watching the rain come down all day from my bed, running around in rainboots and my jacket with my polka dotted umbrella and a scarf.

Until next summer, when the storms come back.

the view from my window

My uneasy relationship with ironing.

2012/07/05 § 1 Comment

Two days ago, after I did all of my laundry, I was trying to get ready for work and found that I had nothing to wear. One of those days where by the time I left the house, there was this giant pile of clothing on my bed from trying something on, taking it off, trying the next thing on, taking it off. I don’t know what was up with me, but I do know that a lot of stuff got rejected for one reason, and one reason only: it wasn’t ironed.

Which is ridiculous, because what I DID end up wearing, I had to iron anyway!

But what’s my problem with ironing? Yeah, it isn’t my most favorite thing ever, but I don’t mind it that much (I like nice, neat clothes). Except for this one time when we were having Thanksgiving and my mom decided that every single tablecloth in the house had to be ironed, and then only thing I did that day was iron. All day long. It was awful.

But I digress- tablecloth ironing isn’t the same as not having anything to wear because I couldn’t be bothered to iron it as soon as it came out of the wash. I have a theory about this. Growing up, everything that had to be ironed in our house got put in a laundry basket, in theory for it all to be ironed at the same time and then hung up and then worn, so that there was never any “you can’t wear that it isn’t ironed!” drama at 9.30 on a Sunday morning when church was at 10. In reality, the ironing basket was a place that clothes went to die. Once a skirt went it there, it never came out, and I can recall distinct occasions when someone would be going through the basket and shout out “THIS HAS BEEN HERE THE WHOLE TIME?!” It was more likely that something would get washed, chucked in the ironing basket, and then dug out about 15 minutes before it was needed, with much shrieking and waving of arms and chaos. I also had this sneaking suspicion that clean clothes stuffed in a basket were no longer clean. That’s completely irrational, but that’s what I thought.

So I have this distrust of a basket who’s supposed purpose in life is just to be a pit stop for clean clothes between washer and closet whilst being ironed. But I haven’t found that doing it my way is any better. I wash clothes, dry them (hang drying, because they’ll dry flatter or neater or less wrinkly, right? not really), and then put them away. So that then when I want to wear my favorite black skirt from Banana Republic, it’s stuck in my closet, super wrinkly, needing to be ironed, and I need to leave for work three minutes ago. But at least I know that the clothes are there? That I’m less intimidated by the thought of ironing only one or two things instead of a giant basket of clothes that resembles more of an archaeological dig than the contents of my closet? That this is why if I had a million dollars, I’d dry clean everything and never have to deal with it?

There’s got to be a better way.

A cry for help in the fruity darkness

2012/06/08 § Leave a comment

I am a good cook. My squash and leek soup is tasty, my chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are always loved, my cupcakes are adventurous and tasty, and my fudge has its own reputation. But it’s come to my attention lately that I can’t do something that may be hindering my time in the kitchen.

I cannot cut fruit.

Seriously. I think this is because while growing up, throwing a Cloyd party always meant certain things, and one of them was that I did the dusting and vacuuming because Becca is allergic to basically everything in our house, so she was always in the kitchen for hours chopping whatever came her way. This means that now I can vacuum like a pro and Becca can probably enter a world championship chopping contest. I can chop other things, and do- but if Becca’s around, I’ll almost always defer to her judgement, or I’ll just give it to her to do. This last weekend for the graduation party was the first time I ever cut up a pineapple. I LOVE pineapple, but I’ve never had one on my own because I didn’t know what to do with it!

But learn I did, and it gave me a new confidence in my fruit-cutting abilities. Apparently too much though, because today I tried to cut up a mango, and all I did was mangle it instead.

Fruit fail.

Would anyone like to teach me how to cut a mango? I’ll make you cookies!

Protected: Awkward: I resigned at MoMA after my first day. Here’s why.

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To my baby sister on the occasion of her high school graduation

2012/06/05 § Leave a comment

Dear Small Child-

Congrats! You made it through high school without dying, killing anyone, committing terribly violent acts, getting knocked up, doing drugs, dropping out, or any of the other ten thousand things adults think teenagers do on a regular basis. Instead, you read probably a gazillion books, got into some awesome universities, got a job, went to dance 5 days a week, did well in school, and had some fun shenanigans with your friends. I’m so proud of you. High school can be really crappy, and I know you had some hard times, but you did it, and you did it with style.

Which is a good thing, because you are lucky number 13 to graduate from SP and it would have been sad if you’d messed it up. Just kidding. Sort of. It’s hard to be the youngest, and you’re a double whammy, being the youngest Cloyd sister AND the youngest Cloyd period. I could always deflect by saying “not my brothers, my cousins” but you and B didn’t have that option once I went through, and you’ve always been stuck being defined first as our little sister and second as yourself. I’m so glad that you’re coming to a school and a city that neither knows nor cares that we exist. To be honest, New York doesn’t care about you right now either, but that’s the beauty of the city. Everyone makes it care in their own way. You’re going to define your new world with smallish boundaries, and keep expanding them and pushing them and before you know it you’re going to be this amazing new-but-the-same version of Rachel that for the first time has had the chance to say, “this is my world, and this is how I do it, and it is good.” You’ll be like Bill Gates but instead of Windows 7 it’s Rachel 2.0. Everyone has a 2.0 version. It still has some bumps and hangups and glitches, but in general it’s a much more enjoyable ride than the previous operating system.

Enough of the computer metaphor. Or analogy. Whichever. Let’s talk about how excited I am for you to live in New York. I’ve missed you so much this last year, and while it was probably good for both of us to have this year to grow the heck up (in my case), I’m so excited for Doctor Who together and taking you out for a milkshake on your birthday and doing Christmasy things together. That being said, I’ll feel lucky if I get to see you once every couple of weeks, or even every week for Doctor Who- frosh year of college is so new and so exciting that I doubt you’ll have very much time for your much older and much more boring big sister, and that’s ok. In fact, that’s perfect and to be expected. I’m here and Becca’s here if you need anything, so just give a shout. But don’t tell me what you’re doing every Friday. I’m sure you’ll be at home studying, so why waste your breath telling me that?

Work your ass off this summer. You’ll like having money when you move out here. It’s really much more fun to live in New York when you have money to spend, and while you won’t actually have money to spend, you’ll spend it anyway, so better to have more than less. Don’t forget to go to the beach while you still can though. I haven’t checked it out, but I’ve heard the beach here is quite different from what we’re used to. At any rate, no palm trees here, so take advantage while you can.

Also, no more clothes shopping until you move here. You’ll enjoy it more when you can say, “I bought it in New York!”

All my love,

Your most favorite oldest sister.