Friday, August 28, 2009

Ode to the chai tea latte

When the summmer begins to fade
I crave a chai tea latte.
Warm, spicy, cozy, sweet
I like them a latte.
A festive mint mocha
is my favorite winter treat.
A fruit smoothie refreshes
during the summer's oppresive heat.
I don't really know
what I drink in spring
But, it's the end of the summer now
so, I only want one thing.
Give me my chai tea latte
Mr. barista hook me up.
Life just seems so much better
with chai tea latte in my cup.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Up-cycled is the new black

Double click to enlarge...

I've decided to host a clothing swap. I recently re-learned how to use the sewing machine and I am feeling very inspired by the option of alteration. Plus, I've read some good things about these clothing swap parties. So thrifty. This is the dawning of the age of DIY, Etsy and up-cycling. Actually, it's not even the dawn. I'm pretty sure we've already entered the metaphorical mid-day of this cultural phenomenon. Either way - I will take any excuse to have a party/see friends/drink wine/eat delicious food/get stuff for free/start a new project...


Ali is on Etsy!
Way to go lady :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Chuck "e" Cheese Band

So, I recently got the MGMT album Oracular Spactacular, which I really like. I was checking them out online today (since we randomly have a wireless signal today), and while watching one of their videos I was totally shocked to see the Chuck-e Cheese band. Yes, the animatronic band that entertained/frightened children while they ate pizza. I remember standing at the edge of the stage waiting for the curtains to open and then just standing there and staring at the strange robotic creatures on the stage. There was the very intimidating gorilla on the keyboard, the weird floppy-eared dog, the stupid snaggle-toothed bear that sometimes did duets with that thing that popped out of the oil barrel and that creepy polar bear who just didn't quiet fit in. I don't think I have seen them since I was about ten years old, but as soon as I did, I knew exactly what they were. I must have celebrated at least three of my birthdays at Chuck-e Cheese's, not to mention the parties for my brother, cousins, neighbors and friends. Sort of a strange thing to get excited about, but I was so surprised to see it. I guess the Chuck-e Cheese band made quite an impression on my younger self. Weird.

Here's the Video

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Did you know!?!?!?!

ornadoes are natures most violent storms.

The average lifespan of a tornado is less than 15 minutes.

One time, a chicken house, sixteen by sixteen feet in area, was picked up by a tornado and ended up wedged between two trees. The hens were found the next day sitting on their eggs in the chicken house, with no windows broken, as though nothing had happened.

Yesterday afternoon, there was a tornado near downtown Minneapolis!

Jake got stuck on 35W because it was flooding and was then diverted to 35th Street, only to have to weave between the trees that littered the road. Despite the circumstances, he was still concerned about being late for work. Sheesh. What a goodie-goodie.

Moments later, Minneapolis became a top trending topic on Twitter (say that 3 times fast!)

Minneapolis had been a top trending topic on Twitter several days before because some dude decided to play for the Vickings. I'm sick of hearing his name, so I will refrain from writing it.

That one guy in my collage is a friend of Jake's who works at the Electric Fetus and hooked us up with concert tickets.

The Electric Fetus closed yesterday after the tornado smashed the windows and damaged the roof.

The wicked witch was spotted flying on a bicycle over Portland Avenue... actually that is false... I lie...

This StarTrib article has some great pictures, some of which I stole to make this beautiful collage.

I may start referring to Jake as "the tornado" since he, too, can plow through glass bus stops, shattering them to pieces.

If you double-click on the picture, it will get bigger and you can check out the details of the destruction :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stealing Ideas from Etsy...

I have found my next projects. I am posting this so that I actually do them. Part of me feels a tad guilty about stealing other peoples creative ideas instead of purchasing their original creations and supporting a fellow artist... but only a tad guilty. Making it yourself is so much for fun, plus way cheaper.

Love this leather leaf necklace. Seriously, how hard can this be?

Kind of like the scarfy necklace, but a little less scarfy and a lot more necklace. Something about cutting up and reusing old t-shirts is just so satisfying.

This one is not actually an idea I stole from Etsy. While at a friend's cabin a few weeks ago, I discovered the unbelievable cozyness of fur. Faux fur actually. I couldn't possibly sleep under a blanket of real fur. The idea of using a poor dead animals skin for warmth sort of sickens me. I don't really even like the way fur looks. It's all hairy and dead looking.

Despite my aversion to fur, however, my experience sleeping under one of my friend's faux fur throws was one of the most comfortable sleeping experiences of my life. The experience has since motivated me to create my own extremely cozy faux-fur hibernation blanket. I will probably line one side with fleece or something else, otherwise I can see myself getting freaked out by the pile of fur on the couch. I have been somewhat converted to fur though (for blankets at least), and let me tell you, once you experience it, you probably will be too ;)

I leave you with one final warning though ... be careful where you get your "faux fur" from...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scarfy Necklace

I have been seeing these scarfy necklace things all over. I like them a lot. It's like a necklace... that is cozy. What could be better? "Necklush" sells them on Etsy for like $60. I will not pay that much for a cut up t-shirt, so I decided to try and make my own. I think I will probably start "upcycling" some old t-shirts and make more, but to start, I just used some clearance fabric from JoAnn's. The beauty of the t-shirt is that if you cut the shirt all the way around, you don't have any ends to tie and you can just tie all those loops together. I also like the idea of adding chains or beads. Just a bit snazzier.

1. Get some jersey knit fabric - i.e. t-shirt fabric, or better yet just get a t-shirt (large=bigger loops)
2. Cut the fabric into narrow strips with a sharp scissors.
3. Tie them up
4. Be cozy in your neat scarfy necklace that is not quite a necklace and not completely a scarf.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tour de Minneapolis and the Art Fair trifecta

This morning, as I jumped in my car to head to work, I realized that hadn't been in my car since, well, the last time I went to work. Then I realized that I hadn't been in a car at all over this weekend. I know this isn't really a huge feat, but when I considered all I had done over the weekend, I was pretty proud of myself. The really exciting thing about it was that I wasn't even trying to avoid driving - It just happened! I love where I live :)

Friday was a very low-key day. I had to recover from the busy week of final projects and papers, oh yeah- and that whole full-time job thing that I do on the side. Saturday, Jake and I went to the Powderhorn Art Fair and ate lunch at the Birchwood. We stopped at the Uptown art fair on the way back, even though I have decided that I am not as much of fan of the Uptown Art Fair as I used to be. It's very crowded, expensive, and some of the people there are very obnoxious. Not to mention all the strange vendors. We walked through some tent filled with mechanical animals and a creepy mechanical man. We left with giant four-color pens. Still not sure what they were promoting. Then we went to the grocery store and got some dinner and waited outside to watch the huge storm that completely bypassed us, only to drop a tornado just a couple miles away. I felt jipped.

Sunday, I got to spend some time with my good friend Lauren, who I haven't seen since Christmas, because she decided to move to boring old Iowa. We went to the Loring Park art fair and I felt a minor sense of accomplishment for actually experiencing the entire Mpls art fair trifecta for the first time ever. Lauren then began the trek back to Iowa, and Jake and I decided to go float on Ceder Lake for the rest of the humid afternoon. The rest of the day included another trip to Trader Joe's, a BBQ at the Lake Harriet bandshell, and a giant ice cream cone. A fantastic summer weekend and I biked the whole thing! The bike trails in this city can get you to almost anywhere you might want to go. I highly recommend getting a trail map and checking them out. You will be pleasantly surprised.

And now for my art fair favorites...

This is the "spark plug guy." He makes fantastic little sculptures from random metal objects and spark plugs. They are unbelievably expressive considering what they are made of. He had them arranged in all sorts of situations - including a wide range of professions, including morticians, gynecologists, farmers and, of course, mechanics.

Sarah Dudgoen
I have seen this girl before at other shows. It's pretty obvious why I love her work... green, birds, branches, pottery.

Robert and Michelle Meyer
I bought a photograph from these people. They take photos the old fashion way, so each one is one-of-a-kind. They frame them on old dry plate film holders (My picture is a bit out-of-focus because the flash was reflecting off the glass so I turned it off). It's so beautiful and interesting. I love it when things have a story and a history. My photo is of a tree in Northern Wisconson.

I bought a postcard from this guy, because his prints crack me up. He carves and paints all of these tiny little animals and then places them into somewhat cliche situations and photographs them. Definitely follow the link to his site so you can see more. They are very cute. I got this hippo one to put in the bathroom :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Life is short... running makes it seem longer.

I ran a 5K last weekend with Jake and his dad. I don't know that I particularly enjoy running, but I've started to do it more and more. I love how I feel after a run and having grown up being constantly active, that endorphin "fix" is something that I can't do without. I prefer to do more exciting things like mountain biking, skiing and my new favorite, kickboxing, but once in a while I will just run to run. I have a very difficult time getting myself to run though, and an even harder time getting myself to put much effort in once I've started. I found out this weekend, however, that running in a race brings out a totally different side of me.

Competition is like a drug for me. I try to avoid it, because once I've decided to participate, I tend to go to uncomfortable extremes. I'm either going to win, or I'm not going to do it. I loathe failure. I therefore tend to avoid the risk of failing - heck not even just failure, but even just not doing well. It's really kind of sick. When I failed my driver's test at 16, I went into hysterics (I made only one mistake, unfortunately, it was also an "automatic fail"). Towards the end of my ski-racing career, I often wouldn't even look at the results. I didn't care that much, because caring meant facing the fact that, no matter what level I was competing at, there were always going to be a lot of skiers that were much faster than me. When I ran track in middle school, I ran the long sprints (the 400, 800 and 200 hurdles). I would kill myself to win. I remember the splitting pain in my lungs, the taste of blood in my mouth, and the way my legs would cramp up after pushing myself so hard. I dreaded it, but I knew that once the gun went off, I wasn't going to let myself lose. So, I just started avoiding competitions that I might not do well in.

Recently, I've come to realize that this is a really lame approach to life. It turns out that avoiding failure yields very little true success. This is one of the reasons I signed up for the run. It's time to start setting myself up for failure (or at least, the chance at being mediocre). Time to get comfortable with attempting things I might suck at. Of course, deep down, I knew I would do fine in the run - the real challenge was getting comfortable with the fact that I probably wouldn't be spectacular. Somewhere around mile two, my seventh grade self reemerged just a bit. My lungs were feeling hot. I was moving at a much faster pace than normal, but I couldn't let myself slow down. Mile three seemed endless. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. I usually find myself in the top 10% of whatever I'm doing - I wasn't even close. My rational self knows I did great. My insatiable-over-competitive side wonders what I could have done better. I'd say it was a success.

I think it's time for me to start seeking more opportunities for failure and struggle.

Awww... look how excited I am to be done!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"We're here. We're weird. Deal with it."

This is a totally eye-opening and fascinating look into the world of autism. I am doing research on autism for a special needs class that I am taking as part of my master's program. I recently stumbled on this article from Wired and I can't stop thinking about it. I think everyone should see this. It will change how you think about people with autism, and hopefully how you treat them.

The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Last Friday was Jacob's birthday and there were several creative projects worth sharing, including my favorite Black Russian cake recipe. It's very moist and has a chocolaty-bitter-boozy-raspberry-heavenly flavor to it. Here's how I do it...

1 (18.25 ounce) package moist yellow cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix (this is the big one guys)
1 c. oil
1/4 c. vodka
1/2 c. kahlua
3/4 c. water
4 eggs
more kahlua :)
confectioners' sugar
a bunch of raspberries (frozen, fresh, or in a pie filling)

All you have to do is mix up the package of cake mix, pudding mix, oil, eggs, water, vodka and kahlua in a big bowl. Then you bake it in a greased and floured bunt pan at 350 for 50 minutes. While it's in the oven, mix up some kahlua and powdered sugar (maybe a cup or so?) Also mix up your raspberries in a separate bowl with some powdered sugar to create a berry topping (you can add some water too - you want them to be sort of saucy). Leave the cake in the bundt pan and poke the bottom with a fork to create some holes and pour the kahlua glaze over the top. Let this sit for at least an hour, so it can soak in. When you're ready to serve it, put the cake on a platter and put the raspberries all over the top and sprinkle with powdered sugar to make it beautiful. Then enjoy!

Mmmmmm... it's sooooo good! I think I actually like it leftover better, because the kahlua sort of does this caramelizing thing in the cake and it's just glorious.

I was really happy with how Jacob's birthday present turned out. It's sort of non-practical and artsy, so I also gave him a camp chair and a manly plaid shirt, so I wouldn't feel guilty about giving him something that I might like more than he does. He is from Petoskey, MI , which is at the very, very top of the lower part of Michigan right on the edge of beautiful Lake Michigan. He is always talking about the lake and it's beaches, so I decided to give him a little portable piece of Lake Michigan. I got my inspiration from Design Sponge and ended up basically copying what I saw because I loved it so much. I definitely might love this more that Jake does... is that bad? Anyway, I had this artist from Etsy custom-create this beautiful glass pyramid box for me. She was so incredibly helpful and nice, and her prices are fantastic! I highly recommend her. Inside of the box I placed objects from that beach that Jake's mom collected for me including some driftwood, a seagull feather, a genuine Petoskey stone, a skipping rock and some beautiful beach sand. I think it turned out well. He said he loved it. Maybe when he becomes a teacher, he can use it as a paperweight. Right now, it's sitting by the window and reflecting light all over out living room :)

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