Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year + Blue Astronomical Anomalies

To everyone: readers, drifters, subscribers, passers-by: Happy New Year!  I hope 2010 is joyful, creative, eventful, productive, and pleasurable for all.

And tonight is special because it's a blue moon, the first since 1990 and the last until 2029.  To celebrate, I recommend having some of my favorite orange juice, I mean, wheat beer: Blue Moon.  It's much better than champagne, swear.  It's also a good kick off for one of my new year's resolutions: earn a plate at the Flying Saucer for trying every beer they stock.  It's going to be tough, but I'm a trooper, a pint size one.  (ha.)

Be safe, wear something sparkly, and make sure you get to sleep in tomorrow!  I'm going low key this year, as a favor to my pocket book, but by goodness there will be beer and wine and shiny shirts.

firework photo credit: deviant art

2009: Goodbye, Good Riddance, & Let The Good Times Roll

How is this year over?  I'm fairly certain it just started.  I welcomed New Years 2009 in this brown Banana Republic dress at Little Rock's Ferneau Restaurant, where a bar patron can savor the best basil martini of their life.  The tennis shoes did not go with me to dinner, but now I like them in this photo as proof that I actually used to exercise.  Ferneau was appropriately followed by a trip to the dive bar of all dive bars, Midtown, (how I miss thee - I'm yet to find a comparable Austin substitute).

To summarize 2009 briefly: I frequented many a Cool Shoes dance party, started the Cabot High School slam poetry team, decided to leave teaching, decided to leave Little Rock, started and ended a relationship with Michael for the third time,  lived in three different houses, remembered I have hobbies other than cuba libres, waitressed, learned I will never miss Mom any less, sang with a band, adopted a terrible sleep schedule, got braver, realized I actually hate PBR, ended up in a place I am happy to be.

This holiday, I would like to make a map for the future, rather than resolutions, so that I have a few ending points I can meander towards.  Having mile markers will help make sure I get where I'd like to be.

For example, I want to write more in 2010.  To insure this happens, I will post regularly on my blog, devote time to fiction writing, and seek out opportunities such as guest blogging and article posting.

I also want to be a calmer, less reactive person.  To insure this happens, I will focus on detaching from stressful moments, walk away from tense situations until I am calmer, and use kind words towards people - boyfriends, roommates, students, etc, in order to project positive energy onto a situation.

At least, I will try to abide by these things.  I often feel wound so tight that I am sure I put off the same welcoming atmosphere as an approaching storm cell.  A book I am reading says that everyone manipulates their surroundings, and no act goes into the world without affecting it.  A person can't say "I hate something" without the negative energy beyond those words going out into the world, in some sort of cosmic cause and effect.

And not to start the year out on the wrong foot, but 2009, for all of it's surprises and lead-up to my life in Austin, also had a lot of heart ache, not as much as 2004, but no ten year relationship/friendship is damaged and changed without significant emotional repercussions.  For that, here's my message to you, 2009, (and tell 2010 that I'm an excellent tiger tamer, and that I'm not afraid of sharp teeth or a loud roar - IE, bring it):


What are your New Years plans? Parties? Resolutions? Hibernation?

Resolution #1 for 2010: Learn to Play Guitar Better!

Song #4 in the drive to become a for-real-for-fun guitar player.  After making this video, I realized it was definitely time to utilize that box of hair dye I recently purchased from Whole Foods, (I'm convinced L'oreal fried my hair), and I am now a happy brunette again.

I have a month until the Girl Guitar recital at Antone's, and after seeing the stage for the first time Monday night, I'm already freaking out.  It's one song, breathe, breathe...

Ideally, I won't lose the motivation to keep practicing after February's performance, so thus I resolve to keep learning at least one new song every two weeks.  Luckily, playing guitar is way more fun than going to the gym, even if my fingertips suffer for it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rainy Days + Happy Hour in Austin?? Yes, Please!

I can't tell the world how much I love rain.  So why would I choose to move to Austin, TX?  Because I hate cold more than I love rain.  Arkansas tends to be floodishly rainy in the fall and spring, so last year I ordered these green Hunter wellies from J. Crew, since I was essentially wading into work everyday after the academic year started.  Much to my chagrin, I discovered after they arrived that the sizes were done in mens, not womens.  So they are about two sizes too big, but I was too lazy and too cheap to exchange them, so now I wear them with thick socks and have room for tea parties in the toes.

The rain that came down ALL DAY LONG on Tuesday was a huge treat, so I didn't waste the opportunity to go stomp about in my wellies.

Poor Lennon had to stand in the rain to take my picture as I hid under an overhang.  Photographers should get the same credit that mailmen do.

On to the outfit, which is boringly mono-chro-brandic. 

Boots: Hunter via J. Crew
Skirt: J. Crew
Plaid shirt: J. Crew
Black sweater: J. Crew (yawn!)
Tank top: Gap
Brooch: M grandmother's closet

I wore this to go consume happy hour appetizers and beers at Hickory Street Bar & Grill.  What occasion is more special than discounted fried pickles and Shiner!?


Julia Child, High Heels, Julie Powell, & Mirrored Lives

Eirik and I just finished watching Julie & Julia, my third viewing, his first, and after my experience Monday night in the mustard heels, one of the most notable images in this film is Meryl Streep as Julia Child cooking in three inch platform heels (and pearls). 

I read an article about the costuming of the film that said Julia Child would have more likely been found in sensible shoes with a shorter heel and that the high heels only served to help give Meryl Streep the appearance of height.  But regardless of historical accuracy, it can't be denied that women of earlier eras were far more likely to be found functioning in high heels in a regular basis, and for that, I tip my absent hat to them. 

In college, after moving out of the dorm into my own apartment, I made all of my own bread from scratch.  One night, my friend Lela came to help, and we decided we were going to bake the bread in heels, red lipstick, and pearls.  I wore my best 60's scarf to compliment the ensemble, which included the jeans I ripped a giant hole in when I tripped over my own foot in the senior parking lot in high school and fell on my face, (in front of boys, which should definitely be mentioned here, in a public forum).  We aren't going to talk about the bangs.

Moving right along...

In the extra features of the film, one of the directors talked about how Julia Child always viewed herself as a teacher, rather than a writer.  Several of my co-workers have mentioned my continuous talk about my past three years as a classroom teacher and my identification as a teacher versus my new position, and of course I started making comparisons between myself and the woman I admire.

At one point, in the film itself, Julie Powell compares herself to Julia Child in that they were both secretaries, married to nice men, etc... and it turned my mind to thinking about mirrored lives.

Eirik and Lennon both tease me that I like the movie so much because I am very similar to Julie Powell - melodramatic, aspiring writer who can't fathom the idea of actually being a writer, blogger, (duh), project oriented... mostly banal details that describe lots of people, but regardless of origin, I still love the film. 

Most of my love stems from the idea of two women who don't start life with a certainty about where they are going or how they are going to move forward, but somehow life unfolds for them in an organic way they could not have devised or planned by scheming a certain trajectory, the way it seems everyone else I know has done.

When I look back on high school and college, (and at the dawn of the new year it seems appropriate to do so), it would seem as though everyone I knew had a strong sense of self and idea of where they were going, while I've just been drifting from one undertaking to the next.  Naval ROTC, international relations, English literature, poetry, teaching, various boyfriends, cities, states... I am unsettled and unsure of where the next foothold is. 

It's reassuring to know that a blind start is not the recipe (pun intended) for a disastrous finish.  While I can't mirror myself on any historical or popular personage, I'd like to think that the unplanned path is not an impossible one. 

And I suppose that the desired end depends greatly on how one measures success.  For myself, I've always set the bar of success on a writing career and comfortable finances, neither of which I've achieved.  But, knowing that Julie Powell didn't get there till her 30's, and Julia Child till her 40's or 50's, let's me know I have plenty of time, and that's a comforting thought.  Especially when Facebook inundates my news feed with marriage and baby announcements, a proclamation of semi-solidified paths that make me feel even more fluid and unstable.  But this is not reality, and my fluid path will allow me to hedge my own way about things, or at least that's one of the things I hope for 2010.  That, and more movies I love to watch on repeat.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mustard Yellow Shoes

I wore this yesterday to run errands and then see the Hayes Carll show at Antone's.  I made two dumb assumptions about this show:

1) that if we got there long after the doors opened, we'd be closer to just seeing the featured act
2) there would be chairs, somewhere in the venue. 

Wrong on both counts.  I was standing in those shoes for 3.5 hours, 2.5 of which were borderline miserable as far as the balls of my feet are concerned.  Thank goodness the show was good!  My valiant boyfriend then offered to carry me part of the way to the car... he made it a block before I insisted he put me down, at which point he dropped me. 

Seriously.  Dropped.  Points for trying, though.  Just remind me, should he and I ever get engaged, not to let him carry me over any thresholds.  I'm sure to onlookers we looked like the drunken fool who had fallen backwards right beside me at the show, but sadly (?) there were only two beers consumed between both of us.  Antone's: I liked you a lot, but $4 Shiner Bock?  Really?

Anyway, on to the chronicalling:

Dress: Forever 21
Cardigan: Anne Taylor Loft
Tights: Target
Shoes: Gianni Binni from Dillards
Necklace: Etsy
Puppy: Bella Girl, with utters.

Hayes Carll at Antones in Austin, TX

Last night my plans were originally to stay home, unpack my bags from holiday travels, and watch one of the new DVD's I acquired as a present.  This domesticated evening evaporated quickly when Lennon learned that Hayes Carll was going to be playing at Antone's.

When we first walked in to Antone's, there was hardly anyone there.  But after The Happenins started to play, the room swelled to capacity and I lost my camera vantage point.  I really just wanted a better look at the bassist's snazzy pant suit.

It was shortly after they stated to play that I began to sorely regret my choice of shoes.  They were not conducive to participating in the dancing that was going on!

The second band were The Sideshow Tramps.  Meaning this as the highest compliment, their garbage can drum, cigar box guitar, and other assorted home made instruments, reminded me of this bit of nostalgia from my childhood:

Emmet Otter's Jug Band.

I was digging this man's sexy vest and scarf combined with his harmonica skills.

Saw playing is a physics mystery beyond my comprehension.

This was a little segment of their set that I'd like to re-name: "schooling the boys."

While Lennon likes music in the Townes Van Zandt school unto itself, he feels a special connection to a fellow Hendrix alum, even if Hayes beat him to the stage by about eight years.

I highly recommend watching one of the videos of Hayes below.  Especially if you're a girl, because his sleepy eyes should be the only necessary motivation.  That, and his music.  If you've been around a while, you might notice a pattern in my affinity for singer-song writers on guitar, and Hayes doesn't disappoint.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Part Two: Dallas & The Parks Mega Mall

The not-wear-jeans-everyday challenge continued when Lennon and I made it to his parents house in Dallas.  I'm easing into it with the denim skirt.  So, like a true outfit chronicler:

Skirt: American Eagle
Shirt: Target boyfriend t-shirt
Tank top: Forever 21
Cardigan: Target
Coat: BB Dakota
Necklace: Francesca's Collections
Sunglasses: Target
Socks: Target (geeze!)
Mary Janes: Dillards
Tattoo: my favorite of four, more on that later.  

I don't shop that much during the year, but once the sales after Thanksgiving and Christmas hit, I get infected with the shopping flu.  After his parents treated us to the Sherlock Holmes movie and Mexican food, I begged him to take me to the mall.  He was such a good boyfriend, he even carried my bags.  (I actually think my boyfriend has been brain invaded by aliens, considering he didn't even complain about the crowds).

On the way to the mall, he suddenly veered off the road into this parking lot.  I thought we were at our destination... Silly me, he'd seen this Dodge Charger parked in a lot and had to pull over to take pictures of it.  Maybe he hasn't been body-snatched after all.

I have never considered Little Rock a small town, nor have I considered myself uncultured having grown-up as a military brat, but when I walked into the mall my jaw dropped.  They had a whole ice-skating rink.  A WHOLE one.

They also had this cowboy themed merry-go-round.  Nice touch, Dallas.

Next trip, Lennon owes me a trip to the aquarium.  Owes me in like, he's promised to take me since I first met him.  I love fish and whales.  I was the ecstatic child at Sea World and whale watching in Maui.  Not much has changed.  For now, it's good to be home.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Early Resolutions: Abandoning Slob-dom & Welcoming the Austin Cheap Chic

When I first got out of graduate school and started teaching, I took outfit photos almost every day to remind myself how to put together the pieces I had in my closet. Ten new pounds and two years later, I have long since abandoned this habit and suffered from a case of "the sloppies," which I partially attribute to the weight gain.  A lot of my "cute" clothes no longer fit or were donated to Goodwill before the big move to Texas.

Working in after school programming facilitated a jeans and t-shirts phase of my life, one I am now completely bored with and ready to abandon.  One of my favorite discoveries about Austin is the over-whelming enthusiasm for vintage stores and clothing, which is way more affordable than the sorority-boutique-look that was/is popular in Arkansas, and also allows for way more creativity in dressing.

I believe one of my first orders of business for 2010 should be to adopt the creative mindset, and as much as I love my solid, Target t-shirts, perhaps I should not wear them the moment they are out of the dryer...

One of my first super-exciting thrifted finds: Seven jeans from Buffalo Exchange for $18.00.  I love bell bottoms, and I love designer jeans.  I'm not so sure if I love how much longer my hair has gotten since my self-portrait days, but I'm too cheap to cut it.  And yes, I also love orange, (and Target, that shirt and cardigan... and oh, my sparkly One Star shoes, are from there). 

Anyway: 2010, bring on the cute outfits!  And do it for cheap!  I've got my camera ready and I might even dust off my high heels.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Anything Else (But Boring Movie Posters)

Continuing the Christmas weekend, Lennon and I are now in Dallas with his parents enjoying soft couches, acoustic guitars, grilled cheese sandwiches, and tomato soup.  While browsing my Google reader, I found a link to the ten best movie posters of the decade.  In between all of the films I've never heard of, I found this poster, with its vintage map and candy red cartoon apple, that stood out from the rest:

I had to read the blurb underneath it to realize that I've seen this film, and really like it.  For the American sensibility, here is the poster that was released in the US:

Really?  Those are for the same movie?  I always thought that the US version looked a bit stupid rom-com for the Woody Allen-ness stamp that permeates the film, but I never realized that the poster was an intentional dumbing down for American viewers.  I'm suddenly insulted!  The jokes on them, though, considering the surge in public enthusiasm for vintage maps, posters, and anything resembling an art house origin.  Lennon and I just bought a vintage map print of London for his sister from Target. 

My interest in design has always been present in my art journal obsession, but is piquing in my desire to tweak my blog design to something stream lined and pretty.  If you've been visiting the site directly, you'll notice I've changed the banner and colors, but it's still not 100% satisfactory - I'll have to work on my tech savvy.

Regardless, I want to watch some Woody Allen now.

Stupid Ladders! & Other Christmas Loot

A few of my favorite things from my Christmas gifts that I wanted to brag about:

  • Oversize farmer's market/grocery bag
  • Plaid PJ pants (Santa stops by early to bring all of us PJ's on Christmas eve every year)
  • Burt's Bees gift set with seed packet (won at the family Dirty Santa gift exchange)
  • Fender guitar picks in assorted thicknesses
  • Ulta makeup - eye liner, shadows, lip gloss.  I love Ulta.
  • Pink iphone case to replace my gaudy electric blue one
  • Bare Minerals powder/foundation.  I'll have to test this out and report back.
  • Vegetarian Times subscription - this will be especially helpful when I sign up for the CSA!
  • Sparkly nail files
  • Button picture frames (my dad actually got these in the gift exchange, and he let me have them)
  • Stila smudge pots - I have a big one in green and love it, so now I have all the colors!
  • Julie & Julia DVD - I haven't read Julie Powell's book, but I did read Julia Child's book My Life in France and loved it.  I especially love that neither of them found their creative calling until their 30's/40's, and this is reassuring on days when I feel as though I missed some sort of life's calling boat by not getting on board by 20.
  • Cranium (Lennon's gift, which I get to play with)
  • Joy of Home Brewing book (Lennon's from me).  A home brew store just opened in Copperas Cove by the Walgreens, and Lennon and I went in and spent almost an hour talking with the owner about how to brew beer and wine at home, and the vineyard that he owns.  As soon as I clear out some under-stairs closet space, we are SO brewing our own beer.
  • I also got new floor mats for my car... much needed, since I skimped on them when purchasing my car from the dealership.  Now there's a hole under the gas pedal where my heels have dug out the fabric.
What did you get that you love?? 

My niece, Shelby, squeezed herself into a gift box, and her daddy promptly put the lid on top.  Then she popped out to surprise Aunt Courtney.  Shelby was very excited about her own present - Stupid Ladders.  I don't think I will ever call that game by its proper name again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Snow in Central Texas + Candlit Christmas Eves

It's my first (almost) white Christmas!  It snowed on the 24th, here in Copperas Cove, Texas, for the majority of the day.  Wonderful surprise!

On the other hand... can we talk about how I didn't pack for cold weather?!  It was 60+ in Austin just yesterday!  I packed skirts for the holiday.

It wouldn't have been a Christmas eve without a candle light service.  I didn't get the picture that I wanted, because as soon as I took this one, my dad gave me a dirty look since the camera flashes a small light before it auto focuses.  Oh well - next year I'll get a better one, dirty looks be darned!

I hope everyone's evenings and mornings have been peaceful and warm with food that doesn't allow for calorie counting.  My step-sisters made cinnamon rolls.  From scratch.  Be jealous. 

An Ode to Ugly... I Mean... Homemade Ornaments & Family Heirlooms

Some people like their trees to have a uniform, matchy-matchy type of look.  We aren't one of those families, we like our tree eclectic.  My family also suffers from having me in it, because I hate throwing away anything sentimental.  Countless evidence presented above.  The credit for the spiky styrofoam ball in the bottom right goes to my step-sister, Courtney, but I'll claim the rest.  I think my favorite is the decorated feather plucked from a feather duster in the fourth grade, found just above Courtney's colorful Christmas ball, which she sneakily attempted to hide on the back of the tree.

School pictures never die.  Left - me, circa 4th grade/1994.  Right - Courtney, I'm guessing around the same age.  Oh, bangs...

After my paternal grandmother, Ma Maw Mary, died, we got this nativity set that is very, very old.  Coming into a military family, it's suffered a few bumps and bruises in our many moves, including a decapitated wise man.  My dad tried to fix him, again.  The flamingos were my addition.  It's fitting that Lennon just put on Love Actually for the fifth time, because I was just reminded that there were, in fact, two lobsters present at the birth of Jesus.  So flamingos are feasible.

Speaking of Lennon, his wallet was just pulled from the washing machine, after it had been running for thirty minutes.  Time to deal with that, and enjoy my new Christmas PJ's.  

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

Keeping up with the American tradition of holiday bustle, I've been non-stop traveling the past few days.  After a 48 hours mad dash to get all of my paperwork finished and turned in before leaving, it was off to Little Rock to visit my grandparents.

Before leaving, Lennon and I took the Bella for a walk over to the triangle for Kick Butt coffee and admiring a brightly lit tree, since there is a noticeable absence of lit trees in our apartment.

The drive to Little Rock is nine hours, and ever an odd ball, I like long car rides.  It's the only time I can justify fast food, (Taco Bueno!), caramely candy bars, and marathon sing-a-longs.  Plus, there's grandparents and friends at the end, as well as the sweaters I had left behind when I moved.  It's like a free shopping spree when I can't even remember what I used to own - everything's new again!

After driving back from Little Rock, stopping off for a night in Dallas, getting home long enough to play with kids at Southwest Key and run two loads of laundry, it was back in the car to my Dad's house in Cove.  I do regret not getting a chance to ice skate on the top of the Whole Foods building, but I did get to go watch some people cling to the railings for dear life as they skated, which is almost just as good.

At home, it's movies on my Dad's projection screen, last minute trips to Target, M&M's in every room of the house, and waking up on the air mattress to Bella's nose in my face. I love being home at Christmas :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Adored Austin's Red, White, and Blue Contest

I got an photo mention for my red-white-and-blue outfit on Adored Austin!  Indiana held a contest for some lovely necklaces, rings, and other fun accessories, and the necessary entry was a photo in our best patriotic color scheme.  I didn't win, but she did collage some of the photos on her blog, and my flag with star antennea costume won a slot - I feel famous!

My entry, the scandalous American flag ensemble:

I just made it back on to my home turf - Little Rock - and will be back in Austin on Monday.  Fingers crossed my lovely roommate doesn't wreck the kitchen while I'm gone :)  Just kidding, Eiric... I love you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

50 Of The World's Best Design Blogs

The Times Online posted a list of their picks for the top fifty design blogs on the interwebs.  If you're girly, domestic, or just visual like me, then you'll probably find more than a few blogs you'll want to follow from here on out.  I poked through a few and my eyes are still sore from stretching to take in all of the lovely photographs.  I'm including a few teaser pictures of all of the delicious images and ideas there are to peruse from the blogs on this list.

 Dinner under the gum tree and open bird cages

Thai paper lotus flowers photo by Ellie Snow at Mint

Can we talk about how much I want the "paper" crane pendant?
Collage by Oh Hello Friend

 Kane Longden photo via Bliss

Collage by Pia Jane Bijerk, partially based in Amsterdam.  Her Amsterdam photos are dear to my heart as I lived in the Netherlands for three years, (Never Never Land, according to my 1st grade self).

I admit it.  I like blurry pictures of pretty girls staring off at things.
Photo by Daydream Lily

After watching Marie Antoinette on the home theatre screen, I'm feeling a renewed passion for turquoise.
(although I love this blog, I want to poke fun at the name, as well as the Snail and Cyclops - another I love - and start my own mishmash-named-blog called "Lice & Prawns."  Don't copy!)

Starry eyed, photo by Dress, Design & Decor via Frolic!

Apparently, I'm not the only one who felt the need to dig up Marie Antoinette for it's lush imagery.  Apartment Therapy did, too.  I feel stylish now.

The Marie must still be in me, since I was instantly drawn to these lovely cake stands.  That, or I've always felt affectionate for vintage tableware, mint green, and peony pink... if you need more proof, see the invitations from my wedding that were never mailed.
Photos from BBC Homes & Antiques via Tea For Joy, the compiler of the Time's list.

With that, I'm going to go survey my own messy domain, maybe reach for a vacuum.  Maybe.

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