shhh... it's a secret

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Earlier today... (or, The post that took ten hours to write)

It's Sunday morning. I'm internet-less as well as cable-less. It's wet and nasty outside. What's a "multitasking" girl to do? Well, hey! Why not catch up on my iTunes podcasts and play Spider Solitaire? Great idea!

So, I'm listening to Iron & Wine on an NPR: Live Songs from All Things Considered Podcast podcast when it occurs to me that most of my musical education has occurred at the hands of men. (A good friend of mine was recently shocked to discover that I was unaware of Iron & Wine. I was also under this assumption as I am no good at names or titles. Low and behold, I opened up iTunes and discovered that I was, in fact, already acquainted with them. I'll have to remember to tell him.)

My first recollection of being introduced to music, outside of Strawberry Shortcake and Raffi, was on a car trip with my dad to my maternal grandmother's house. He had just picked up Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet album. My sisters and I happily, and innocently, sang "Livin' Underwear" during our 6-ish hour long car ride to Long Island. I don't think my grandmother, a very prim and proper lady, was all that impressed when we excitedly told her about it. My dad's music collection also included The Doors, The Stones and Led Zeppelin, to name a few. (Now that I think about it, I believe my dad was also responsible for my introduction to the horror movie genre, but that's a tale for another day.)

My grandma (and half of my face, and a plant)

Before I continue with my masculine musical influences, I should point out that many female figures in my life introduced me to music as well. My mom was a fan of folksy soft rock like The Carpenters and Carly Simon (decidedly NOT my thing). With my step-mother, it was Top 40 tunes (aka Pop music, yuck). My oldest sister, a true 80s child, introduced me to some rockin' 80s tunes (when her musical tastes crossed over to country, I didn't go with her). My twin sister added Tori Amos and Jewel to my musical repertoire (she has since crossed that country line as well), and my younger sister, a real true tree-hugging hippie, introduced me to Ani DiFranco (we still share the most similar musical tastes. My youngest sister's last opportunity to be musically influential over me was when she was five. To this day, I cannot stand big, purple, singing dinosaurs.). My friends were all madly in love with NKOTB, which I loathed but pretended to like because in elementary school, the last thing you wanted to do was tell your friends you don't like something they LOVE (I never trusted their musical tastes after that).

Back to the men. As a young and naive teenager, my music tastes tended towards the tastes of my current crushes and boyfriends. There was the basketball player who loved Bruce Springsteen, the hockey player and the Smashing Pumpkins, the soccer player and Garth Brooks (my ONLY foray into country music), the other basketball player and Dave Matthew's Band, the musician and The Police... Blues Traveler, Bob Dylan, Cake, CCR, The Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Silverchair, Steve Miller Band, STP... all music that I once claimed to love but only listened to because of some boy (I do really like Nirvana though, and they have the honor of still being in heavy rotation).

In college and into my late-twenties, a long-term boyfriend introduced me to Against Me!, the Beatles, Ben Harper, Bob Marley, Dropkick Murphys, Franz Ferdinand, G. Love, Gorillaz, Grateful Dawg, The Grateful Dead, Incubus, Jack Johnson, Matisyahu, OAR, Phish, Rusted Root, Stringcheese Incident and Sublime, to name a few. Yeah, I liked most of this music, but enough to say it defines my musical preferences? Nah.

During my journey of self-reflection, I've set a goal to discover the music that I like because I like it and not because some man in my life liked it. I write down any artist I hear that affects me and is worthy of exploration. My self-led musical education has unearthed some old favorites that I had previously tossed aside (Fiona Apple, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Candlebox...) and opened my eyes to some new faves (Adele, A Fine Frenzy, The Antlers, The Killers, She & Him, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ingrid Michaelson, you know, it would be easier if you just looked this up yourself. Scroll back up, on the right of the screen, and read Music I Can't Get Enough Of. It's not a complete list, but, whatever). 

I'm gaining a better understanding of who I am through my musical tastes. I've met two really good friends in grad school who I consider to be my soul-mates in friend form (and yes, one is a male, whom I previously mentioned) who have contributed to my current musical discoveries (Holly Miranda, Wolf Parade, TV on the Radio, Grizzly Bear...). They point me in a direction, and I'll either head down that path and like what I find, or I see where the path branches off, and I find my own way to somewhere else.

I like my music and for the first time in my life, I'm not ashamed of my musical tastes because they are a part of me and a reflection of me, and I'm starting to really like me again.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Things to do on a snow day (revised).

Okay, so I previously posted about the Poladroid program, but after using it once, I ran into trouble with it. I then came across the site, Polaroin and decided to take that for a test drive. I am surprisingly pleased by this site. You don't need to dowload any programs, which is great, and the transformation of your pics happens much more quickly. Prior to "polarizing" your pics, you can enter text to "write" on your Polaroin and select one of three color effects, blue (default), red (see Benny Bugger below) and green (see Gardiner, NY below). I selected some new pics to transform this time, but in the interest of comparison, I also transformed a few of the same pics from my previous post  (sorry, Krissy Sue, you didn't make the cut this time, but your boys did!).

Overall, I think I like the blue (default) color effect the most, and the "polarizing" seems to work best on brightly lit pics (see the top two pics). I really like being able to "write" on the pics, and I think that's the feature that's going to keep me coming back.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Things to do on a snow day.

Alright, now try to stay with me here, I'm about to take you on a bit of a journey...

So, I was perusing the blog of Dolliedaydream, when I came upon this post, which I immediately commented on because I CAN'T WAIT for Alice in Wonderland to come out. While I was commenting, I noticed another comment by this user, Nicole, who has a really cool blog, Cole + Josephine. While perusing this blog, I came upon this post (phew) and discovered... the coolest thing EVER! We're talking a super easy Polaroid program that transforms your pics into, yes, that's right, Polaroids! I won't bore you with the details of how it works, but you can check it out here.

Of course, I got right to work and created my own Polaroids. Here are the results (not nearly as cool as Nicole's, but I'm okay with that):

My twin sis and her newest little guy, Benny Bugger. She hates this pic, but I find it so cute I couldn't resist giving it a retro vibe! (please don't make me take this down, Krissy Sue, like you did on Facebook. Trust me, no one we know will see this!)

The backyard of the farmhouse I lived in last summer during Grad School Summer Art Camp. Very scenic and quite the experience, let me tell you! Maybe someday I'll get over the trauma of the farmhouse and creepy Farmer John and be able to tell about it.

My duckies, which were made last summer during Grad School Summer Art Camp. Someday I'll show off some more of my hard work. These guys are super cute and super sad and I just can't get enough of them!

And of course, a pic of me, which I happen to really like. (Kris, if you want to see a really embarrassing pic of me, click here)

Really though, you have to check out this whole Poladroid (that's not a typo) thing. It's a lot of fun. And if you get a chance, go visit Cole + Josephine and check out the super cool art!

UPDATE: So, after using this program once, I've been having problems with it and have uninstalled it since it no longer seems to work. I have, however, come across this website, which does the same thing with your pictures, but it transforms them online and much quicker. I'm playing around with it now and will post the results later. 

Music is good for the soul (part two)

Music is good for the soul (part one)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Visions of a lonely girl...

A few years back, I was living in Saratoga Springs, or maybe hiding out would be more accurate. I was substitute teaching during the days and waitressing during the evenings and weekends. I had just run away from a particularly rough patch in my life. I was wrecked. I was broken. I was trying to recover, reflect and reassess. During this time, I was experiencing a lot of moments of solitary loneliness. It was also during this time that I was first introduced to Etsy, which I ♥, and the art work of Kendra Binney

I immediately connected with her haunting images. The sadness and wistful despair of her subjects deeply affected me. Her style spoke to me and the colors in her work cried out to me. I had to have it. I spent days figuring out which reproductions I wanted, which ones would work in my collection. I settled on five pieces and made my purchase. It was the first time I had ever purchased real art before (while they were reproductions of paintings, they were also personally made by the artist). I couldn't wait for them to arrive!

Years later, I still have the pieces hanging on my wall. Kendra no longer has a shop on Etsy, but still sells her work through her website. It seems she has become quite established and has moved on to bigger and better things (I'm grateful I discovered her early on as the price for her reproductions have doubled, in some cases, tripled since I made my purchase). Her work opened my eyes to a whole world of art I had never been exposed to before, Contemporary Art. And I'm talking about real contemporary art. Art that real people are making in real time. Her work moved my knowledge of art forward, and I haven't looked back (sorry, "Master's," but your art is soooo last century).

Congratulations on all your success, Kendra, and thank you for introducing me to a new world of art and expression.

on display in my room

They Can Do As They Wish, 2006

This Place is Full of Lost Monsters, 2006

Empty, 2006

Dream of Being Underwater, 2006

Lie, 2006

Please take a moment to check out Kendra Binney's website. Her worked has evolved over the years since my purchases and it really shouldn't be missed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

As I wander through this world....

.... I have come to realize many things about myself.

There are many adjectives I would use to describe myself throughout my life. Not all of them are applicable to my current state-of-being but all of them were relevant to some point in my short, thirty-year history. Here's a sampling:

abandoned absent adaptable afraid agreeable amused aloof anxious ashamed aware bored calm capable clumsy cold comfortable cooperative cowardly cynical damaged defeated defiant depressed detailed diligent dry embarassed encouraging envious erratic friendly fortunate funny generous giddy grumpy guarded happy helpful hurt jealous lacking lonely mature naughty needless nervous nomadic panicky peaceful productive punctual reflective romantic sad silly smiling stressed stubborn sulky thoughtful thrifty unsure useless wary worried

Fall in love...

... with wrapping paper!

I'm not a fan of wrapping paper. In fact, I probably haven't purchased any in about five years. (and for more about over-priced crap, click here) It just so happens, I have in my possession, a never-ending roll of white craft paper. I've had this paper for, not-coincidentally, about five years. It's super versatile, and I can decorate it any way I choose, depending on the occasion. I also like to use innovative gift wrapping ideas, for example, putting a gift card into a mason jar full of candy. 

However, while perusing a blog tonight, I happened to stumble upon this website, Paper Source. I instantly fell in love with some of their wrapping papers, which led me to conduct a search for other cool paper.

Check it out..

Flora & Fauna Marine Fish & Irish Algae Wrapping Paper 
a throw-back to 18th-century etchings, these fabulous fish are part of the PS Green choices line and are printed on "Eco-White, 100% recycled, 30% post-consumer waste, paper." You can find it here.
Butterfly Migration Wrapping Paper
These colorful butterflies originally started life on a calender but are now offered as wrapping paper. Also from the PS Green choices line, these beauties flutter on printed "Eco-White, 100% recycled, 30% post-consumer waste, paper." You can find them here.

Robots Wrapping Paper
How cool are these guys? What little boy wouldn't love getting a gift wrapped in these? Also part of the PS Green choices line, these robots are printed on "Eco-White, 100% recycled, 30% post-consumer waste, paper." You can find them here.

Goldfish Wrapping Paper 
These goldfish remind me of Japanese art with the swirling blue background. They'd be a perfect way to brighten anyone's day! This paper is part of the PS Green choices line and is printed on "Eco-White, 100% recycled, 30% post-consumer waste, paper." You can find it here.

Halloween Witches Curry Wrapping Paper 
Typically, I don't like anything "holiday themed" but this paper is so bewitching (sorry, I couldn't help it). This paper is part of the PS Green choices line and is printed on "Eco-White, 100% recycled, 30% post-consumer waste, paper." You can find it here.

Salsify & Wasp Paper 
For some reason, this wrapping paper reminds me of my Great-Aunt Glady, who lived in Florida for many years. Something about the garishness of this paper is kind of attractive. You can find it here.

Paisley Chartreuse Paper 
I'm so in love with this print and would enjoy seeing it as window treatments. The detailing and the colors are just exquisite. You can find it here.

Oh My Deer
Now this is holiday paper! This cheerful wrapping would look good under anyone's tree. This gift wrap is 100% recycled. You can find it here.

Birdy Birdy

These chicks are crazy cute! What a great way to welcome a brand new baby girl to the world or brighten up your grandmother's birthday! This gift wrap is 100% recycled. You can find it here.

UPDATE: Upon further consideration of this topic, I've decided that I totally want to design wrapping paper! When I grow up, of course.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I eat from dirty spoons

Yeah, okay, SOMETIMES I don't technically wash my utensils before I use them again. And yeah, SOMETIMES this extends to other dishes as well. Of course, I do this only because I have a great concern for conserving one of our greatest natural resources, water (read:sometimes I'm just too damn lazy).

Really though, I don't see anything wrong with this. I DO have some stipulations. For one, I have to be willing to clean said utensil with a good tongue licking before I reuse it, and two, said utensil cannot be used in anything communally shared.

For example, I thoroughly licked the congealed butter off the spoon I used for my pasta dinner tonight before enjoying a tasty peanut butter snack (yes, directly from the jar. I also have a tendency to drink things straight from the carton/bottle. You've been warned).

I will also just RINSE a coffee mug before using it (with water, of course) and WIPE OUT a bowl before refilling it (unless said bowl was previously used for something that dried all crusty-like).

You call it lazy. I call it genius.

You call it disgusting. I call it extra flavor.

I ♥ Etsy! The Anti-Valentine Edition (part 2)

(Well, as promised, here's part 2 of my I ♥ Etsy! The Anti-Valentine Edition. You can find part 1 here. Enjoy!)

I really like the uniqueness of this. With
all the heart pendents out there, this one
is pretty while still expressing the pain and
heartache that comes with love.

Twigs and Heather are twins! I love that.
They've been working with metal for almost
ten years. You must read their
Shop Announcement. They're green!


I really enjoy the plain, whiteness of this photo.
It's simple, but the message is quite clear.

Nicholas Bartle's profile provides very little
information, but if you check out his website,
you'll discover a collection of very
intriguing images.

I really like the heart suggestion here, and I'm a sucker
for a black and white photograph. Of course, the
wood element takes me back to my roots.

Steven Brisson is another shop whose profile
explains very little, but if you take a moment to
check out his website, you'll find a collection of
some of the most touching photos I've ever seen.

Broken Heart Wall Art
by lucky7steel

I'm so in love with this piece. I would love
to hang this on a blue, or maybe a brick wall.

Lucky 7 Steel makes some great pieces out of
"mild and recycled steel."

Tiny Brown Owl with Broken Heart
by theupstairsroom

Seriously, how cute is this little guy?
And to top it off, he's brown and blue,
my favorite colors!

The Upstairs Room (I adore that title)
creates the cutest little "oddities." She's
also a new blogger, and you can find
her blog here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dear Mr. Sandman

Please accept this letter as my official request to be rescheduled to an earlier time slot on your EST evening schedule. It is possible there has been some confusion and someone in your office informed you that 3:30am was an acceptable time to visit, and I can understand that. Back in the day this would have been entirely appropriate, especially on the weekends. However, times have changed. I'm getting older (is it possible, as the result of an innocent typo, 30 somehow became 3:30? I used to work in an office. I know how easily these little mistakes can happen), and my late-night partying days are long behind me (well, except for that one weekend. And that other weekend. And then there was that week night...).

I realize any adjustment to a carefully thought out and well-planned schedule can be bothersome, but you see, Sandy (we're friends, right? I can call you Sandy?), I'm currently working on my thesis and trying to finish up my Masters Degree so I can graduate in May. These late nights have become quite damaging to my sanity and my ability to think and reason during the daylight hours. All I'm asking for is a temporary rescheduling for the next three months. After the three months are up, and if you feel it's necessary, you are more than welcome to return me to my current time-slot.

Unfortunately, Sand, my man, I also find it necessary to address a more sensitive topic. I understand times are tough right now. People everywhere are trying to find ways to cut costs and conserve resources. I can't even pretend to understand the inner workings of your industry. I don't even know who it is you have to answer to (Mother Nature? Father Time?). Here's my concern, and again, I hesitate to bring it up, but I think it's necessary. It seems to me the quality of your Sleepy Time Magic Dust (STMD*) has been not quite, shall we say, up to par as of late. I know in these tough economical times we tend to search out cheaper alternatives to our tried and true, but I'm afraid the quality of these goods and products suffer. STMD just doesn't seem to have the same oomph that it once had. I wake up still feeling quite groggy, unrested, and often times, without a full nights sleep.

Or maybe it isn't the quality of your STMD that is the problem, maybe it's the quantity. Maybe your office has chosen to cut back on the doses you dish out in the interest of conservation. If this is the case, may I point out that I have never been an overuser or abuser of STMD. For most of my life I have been successfully getting by on 6 hours of sleep every night. Don't you feel it is a bit extreme to cut my dosage back to 4 hours? In the interest of making things easier on you, I propose a solution. There is this girl that I currently work with who claims to get 10 hours of sleep every night (a possible oversight on your office's part?). She comes into work every morning in the most obnoxiously super chipper and happy way. I propose you cut back her dosage by 2 hours and add it to mine. It's a win-win for everyone. You maintain your current operating costs, I get some much needed extra sleep, and she loses some of that irritating bubbliness, quite possibly saving her from being brutally murdered by an over-stressed, under-nourished, over-tired co-worker (not that I would know anything about that).

Thank you for your time and your consideration of this request. I understand you may have to discuss this with your superiors, but I look forward to hearing back from you very soon.

One Blonde Girl

p.s. While I have your ear, and if you're so inclined, would it be possible for you to review your file on a certain Benny Bugger? I know a mom who would love a couple hours extra sleep at night. Thanks.

*the creation and use of this acronym is deemed acceptable by the APA Manual, 5th Edition.

I crack myself up...

I came across this pic as I was uploading photos for a post on my alias blog, The Bitter Blonde. I had completely forgotten I took this! 

Last week, we actually got hit with some snow (about 6 inches. I know, extreme, right!? Someone call a state of emergency, stat!). Being the ever-ready, Adirondack-born, mountain girl that I am, I have been storing my winter gear in my car. I know, I'm super smart. 

In my defense, the last "blizzard" we got here resulted in about three inches of snow. In the Adks, I still wore my flip flops in three inches of snow* (and I still have all my toes. Amazing.)!

Well, I took it upon myself to go outside about midday and shovel the steps and walkway to our house (my housemates are all, what we 'dackers would call, city-folk and can't be trusted with this task).  Being sans winter boots and winter jacket, this is the stylishly fabulous outfit I doned for the job. 

Please take particular note of the jeans tucked inside the thermal socks (the longest pair I own). This was to prevent the bottoms of my jeans (which are no strangers to mud and puddles, mind you) from dragging in the snow and becoming sopping wet all the way up to my knees. 

Really, I should be ashamed to call mysef an Adirondacker or a mountain girl or claim roots in the North Country. I can feel the slickerness of the city slowly taking over...

* I have a very funny story of a time when I had to help my step-father haul buckets of water from our house to his garage in order to put out a chimney fire. It was the dead of winter, I was home sick from school, and I was barefoot. To be continued...
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