“Hammer Head” Swiss Chard and Roasted Garlic Sausages

by Cara Nicoletti on March 26, 2015


Nina is the first real writer I ever knew. I met her when I was just finishing high school, her little brother was my boyfriend, a boy who would become my first real grown-up love (and a man who remains one of the most important people in my life to this day). I was enamored of Nina, of her entire family—how they sat on their porch and drank beer after beer late into the night and still managed to talk so intelligently, to tell stories about books and love, to challenge each other. I remember going to Nina’s apartment in Cambridge and looking surreptitiously around her room, touching beaded necklaces and smelling books and perfumes, thinking, this is the stuff of a writer.

After many years writing my favorite blog on the entire Internet, Nina’s first book, Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter came out last week from W.W. Norton. At its simplest, Hammer Head is a memoir about Nina’s decision to leave her job at a newspaper and try her hand at becoming a carpenter. But, of course, it’s so much more than that. It’s a book about fucking up and trying again, about turning your entire life on its head and losing your mind in order to find peace. It’s about what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated trade, and what it means to be a woman, period. It’s about patience and anger and love and the terror and excitement of hoping that your life could be different—fuller—than you ever imagined.
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“Oysters” by Seamus Heaney

by Cara Nicoletti on March 10, 2015


I’ve always been a nostalgic person—which is really just a much nicer way to say that I’m absolutely horrible with change. When I was in high school my grandparents changed the wallpaper in their kitchen from a brown and orange floral pattern to the same floral pattern in shades of gray, and I cried for a week (this is an exaggeration, of course, but not a huge one). Fear and avoidance of change has dictated the decisions I’ve made for most of my life. Certainly it has played an enormous role in where I am at this very moment—poised on the precipice of a sea change brought on by years and years of changing nothing. Isn’t that a lovely term? A sea change. If you happen to be afraid of change and terrified of the deep ocean like me, though, it’s not quite so lovely.

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“The Paying Guests” Linzer Tarts

by Cara Nicoletti on February 14, 2015


Despite what some of my exes say, I have always loved Valentine’s Day. My grandpa sends me a box of Russell Stover chocolates in the mail and everyone talks out-loud about their feelings, which is a good thing to do every day of the year but we sometimes don’t. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a romantic love in your life, you can celebrate any kind of love you want—the love you have for your car for example, which I just saw on My Strange Addiction (don’t watch it). Or you could celebrate the love you have for your friends, which in some ways is even more important than the love you have for your partner.

Right now I’m reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I have a feeling that something spooky is going to happen (don’t tell me!), but at this point, it’s mostly about a budding friendship between two women—Frances and Lilian—in London 1922. The first time Frances and Lilian spend the day together, they pack a picnic and head to the park. What each of the women pack speaks volumes about how different their personalities are.

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