Sunday, January 16, 2011

Land of frozen tundra and swedes

Hello from the faraway land of Minnesota! I'm in the Twin Cities this week visiting my cousin, Katie, her husband John, and her 15-month-old daughters Zoe and Grace. We have been on a number of adventures trekking back and forth between Minneapolis and St. Paul numerous times, but this post is about my personal adventures. I've taken to walking around the neighborhood to recharge my batteries while Katie and the girls recharge theirs with a nap (I've never been much of a napper, and I find a good walk much more refreshing).
So, I bundle up and trek through the snow for an hour or two and happily snap photos to entertain myself and keep me in an observant state of mind. The first step to creativity is observation, noticing the details as it were. I certainly didn't need to try very hard to notice this building:
Here's a close-up of the window above the center door in case you didn't notice it:
Hilarious. And here's the window of the storefront on the left side of the building:
Apparently, there was quite a controversy in the neighborhood when the opening of this establishment was announced. They were quite relieved to find out it's just an awesomely named restaurant featuring premium steaks (what else?).

I don't know on which day I found this fence, but I must have been rather fascinated with it at the time. I had like 80 pictures of various parts of it on my camera, but I liked these 2 the best:
I've always been into ivy; I don't know why.
There were lots of icicles going in crazy directions on the fence.
Then I found a little park and couldn't resist taking pictures of trees:
I traversed many a snowbank for a few photos of the shadows playing across the snow, and none of them worked out well. You can kind of see the neat shadows in this one though.
On one of my adventures, I crossed this spiffy bridge and headed toward downtown St. Paul. After a few turns, I got completely turned around and was late getting back to the house. Oops. At least I got these:
I liked the rust texture contrasting with the texture of the icicles
I was hoping for more forced perspective on this one.
A number of my nap time walks ended at the Swede Hollow Cafe. I love this place. They have fantastic coffee and pastries and the cafe is cozy and adorable. They also have a little garden on the side of the building that I imagine is awesome in the summer. Anyway, I did a lot of reading and journaling there.
Best pumpkin cookie I've ever had in my life.
I'm having a great time in Minnesota, and I think my next post will be pictures from Le Meridien and the Ice Bar (where we went last night). I'm looking forward to coming back home and seeing everybody before the semester starts and I turn into a hermit.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Did they really think I would REST?!

I was sent home early from work today. Perpetual coughing and a voice that's threatening to completely give out at any moment is, apparently, a good enough reason to go home from work. My boss told me to "rest and recoup" so I would be healthy to work all weekend. Though I cannot bear to waste an entire day resting, I'm compromising by drinking tons of water (about 3 Liters thus far), take a multivitamin and some echinacea, and taking a nap for some recuperation, but I also went to the Milwaukee Public Museum (and saw the Mummies Around the World exhibit which totally ROCKED), did some journaling, and am now putting up a post that I've been meaning to do for a couple days to feel productive (and watching Celebrity Rehab because of my morbid curiosity).

A couple days ago I had a day off and had decided that I would spend it cleaning. My room was in a horrible state of chaos (as it is rather too often), and I needed to do something about it. The overwhelming state of my room meant that this was a task I was not looking forward to, so I thought I'd make it fun by photographing and blogging the process. I was not going to publicly post pictures of my enormous mess to document the progress, so I decided to take pictures of the entertaining things I found as I cleaned instead. I don't know if it's just creative types or if other people do this too, but I tend to keep the weirdest things and find them when I'm cleaning. I think I'm in the early stages of being a hoarder...
I found these sweet eyelashes at the Goodwill on State St in Madison (still in original packaging, of course). Also, they're sitting on my SWEET Samsonite vintage cosmetics case that I currently use for my art supplies (I hate those weird tool box things that 99% of the art students carry around at UWM). My mom picked up the set with this case and two suitcases at a rummage sale for like 10 bucks. Sweet!
I found giant bubble wrap. For an instant, I turned into a giddy schoolgirl at the prospect of popping these huge plastic bubbles, giggling with glee and grinning maniacally. However my fantasies were crushed when I realized that there were little channels between all the chambers, so I couldn't pop them. So sad.
The Madison Fire Department was giving these out during a parade on State St that happened to be going on the last time I was there. We (3 grown girls in their 20s) screamed loudly enough for them that the fireman handing them out passed up the little kid next to us and gave us his last three hats. We wore them the whole rest of the time we were walking State St and shopping. We knew exactly how awesome we were- we radiated the awesome.
Yes, I have an entire box of crap I don't know what to do with.... That's all I have to say about that...
The closet was the first thing to get totally cleaned up. I wish I had more room in my closet, but I guess I'll just have to use my space more efficiently- hence the cart of drawers that can be rolled in and out of my closet for storage.
Note in the bottom left corner, part of the SWEET drawing horse my friend, Lucas, made me. It's a thing of beauty. One of these days, I'll find an excuse to put a photo of the whole thing on here.

For once in my life, I have the majority of my art/craft supplies in one place (some that I don't use much are still in the basement and need to be gone through, but this is at least 60% of it). It still hasn't been totally organized, but it's on its way. Also, I totally want to replace this stupid cage thing with this from my Ikea wish list.. Anyway, now my room is vaguely clean, and the next step is painting (who wants to help?!). It's time for me to take a nap and maybe have some soup or something to make this stupid cough go away.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Creative Time and Space

My work place and I have a very love/hate relationship. Mostly I love my job. I also greatly enjoy walking past art/craft books and taking note of interesting titles. However, Barnes and Noble is laid out in such a way that on my way to and from the break room, I walk past the art/craft section at least 8 times a day in an 8 1/2 hour shift. It is ridiculous to have a shopping/craft addict walk past her crack 8 times in one day without her buying some smack. Today my high involved purchasing this book. I justified it because the book has already been rather useful. My chronically disorganized state is something I have been fretting about for the majority of my life. This book has already helped me organize some of my thoughts (I even drew a diagram- which I would photograph and post for all of you if my camera batteries weren't dead- of all the things I have to organize as well as tools to help me do it) and Saturday is the day of organizing my things. I'm roping off the entire day before the Mustard Plug concert in Bay View to clean up and organize my shit. Fortunately, this is also the day before my mom's big holiday bash, so my room will actually be presentable for once. Yay!

Also, today I get to sign up for classes for Spring semester. I am going to go do that now....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Not so Scrooge This Year

So, a couple nights ago I joined this website. For people, like me, who love getting mail and don't feel they get enough of it, this website is AWESOME. There is a large list of current swaps that you can join. You pick one you like the sound of and send something off to a randomly chosen partner and then someone else sends you something too! I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of money on postage in the future. Anyway, I joined a snowflake swap. I was supposed to make 3 snowflakes and send them to someone in Alabama. So, I set up shop on my living room . About 2 minutes in, I started manically searching for Christmas music to listen to. The reason I had to search maniacally, instead of calming looking in a CD case, is because I generally hate holiday music of all kinds. I suppose I'm usually a bit of a scrooge. Anyway, I threw on the holiday music channel on the cable and made these:

I also made and sent a third one, but I didn't realize I didn't have a picture of it until the envelope was already all sealed. Anyway, this was my first swap, and my swap partner was the person running the swap, so I figured I would pull out all the stops and make a homemade envelope (something I've been wanting to do since seeing a nice pattern for them in the Big-ass Book of Crafts that my cousin, Katie, gave me for my birthday.

After many failed attempts and many pieces of paper and card-stock had to be recycled (though all the non-decorative paper I used was upcycled stuff anyway). But eventually I ended up with a cute envelope that still wasn't perfect, but I deemed it acceptable enough to send.
That's also the card I enclosed the snowflakes in (like I said, all stops were pulled!)
THEN I realized that it's possible that the reason this delightful lady started this swap was because she wanted to see some snow for the holidays and they don't get much of it in Alabama. While I believe that neato paper snowflakes are an acceptable (even preferable) alternative to real, live snow, I also thought maybe I could enclose a picture of OUR snow, so she could see what I see out my window every day. Yes, I realize now that at this point I was seriously overdoing this poor little swap and the person receiving my envelope was probably going to think I'm crazy, but I was having fun. So I ran outside with my NEW CAMERA and snapped this picture:
The I wrote a little note in the card (the angel on the front is made from a banana leaf by some poor people somewhere. My mom bought the cards from some sort of charity or fundraiser like 4 years ago), enclosed the snowflakes, slipped in the photo, and sealed up the envelope with my hand-dandy glue stick (this is the point that I realized I didn't take a picture of the third one and kicked myself), glued the address and return address on, affixed a stamp, and sent my homemade envelope of joy on its merry way. I then realized I'd spent approximately 4 hours making a giant mess on my living room floor and listening to Christmas music as well as being sweet-talked into helping my mom put up her Christmas tree tonight. Mistakes are made when I am crafting and, therefore, not thinking. Oh well.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Insert Clever Title Here

Check out how awesomely clever my blog is! That title really makes me want to read this post. Whatever, I worked 8 and a half hours in a cafe today (and 6 days out of the week, though not all days were full 8 hours days). My butt is tired and looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, because I don't have to work until 4pm. Speaking of work, one of the regulars at the cafe apparently works for one of the places that produces Carmex. He brought in the following gift for one of us (me being the lucky winner because the other girl I was working with didn't want it). You know how in America, we all got excited about flavored Carmex and it was lame old cherry? The Asian Carmex market gets THIS:
Sorry about the glare and the lack of background. You got the general idea of the awesome-ness and I'm lazy today.
This shit is AWESOME SAUCE. I love it, and I'm hopelessly addicted. I've had it for less than a week, and I'm already beginning to worry how I will get more when it runs out. I fear for my life. This may be my most severe addiction yet.

Carmex and work aside, this week I have also started working on Christmas presents. I cannot believe that I waited this long. It's only 3 weeks until Christmas and I planned on making the majority of the presents I would give out this year. I have finished exactly one. However it is really cute (if I may say so myself- oh wait, it's my blog and I can say whatever I damn well please!). It's for someone who never reads my blog anyway, so I don't have to worry about the cat being out of the bag if I show it off before Christmas. The yarn is just a nice, soft acrylic that I got on Thanksgiving for insanely cheap at Michael's.
for Katie White (who doesn't read my blog)
 Less really was more on this project. Katie's not big on patterns or lots of embellishments on clothes and such, so I thought I'd go for something simple. The zigzag stitch added a little bit of interest so it wasn't too boring. My favorite part is the tassels at the peaks of the zigzags (done while watching Confessions of a Shopaholic). I whipped this one out in a day and a half, not too bad. I better get cracking on the rest! Bath salts, lip balm, sugar body scrub, and softening foot balm to come in future gift-making (and blog posts).

Finally, tonight I watched this documentary about a guy and his family (with a little girl still in diapers) go to extreme lengths to cause no environmental impact for a year. At first it seems like a bunch of crap (How can one survive without TV or toilet paper or refrigerators?), but they are actually rather successful by doing it in phases. The other initial problem I had with it before I started watching was the fear that this was just 1 sustainable year and they'd go back to their old ways and that would be the end of it, however he stresses (in about the middle or maybe even toward the end- stick with it if you watch it, he'll discuss all your issues) that it's about going to extreme measures to see what they are willing to keep for an extended time. Obviously they would want the fridge back (unfortunate milk incident with a hopeful-looking apparatus that failed them) at the end of the year, but there were a lot of things that the family intended to keep doing. The wife started off as a very typical American consumer and came out of the project with a very different world view. Check out the film on Netflix (or at least the link to his blog, some neat stuff in there.

Monday, November 29, 2010

101 in 1001

I saw this posted on a random blog a while ago and thought it was a really neat idea. I was sort of afraid to set that many goals for myself. It's kind of scary to commit yourself to accomplishing that many things in a set amount of time. However, I am feeling ambitious today (maybe because it's my day off and I've spent most of the day on the couch), so I think it's finally time. These things are in no particular order, just written down as I think of them. Hopefully somebody will be able to relate to some of this, and hopefully getting this out there will motivate me to get some of this stuff done. On a side note, I found this awesome website to calculate my goal day for this project. I wrote the list out on paper first and transcribed to the blog (editing once or twice in the process)

Yes, that's rainbow paper!

101 Things to accomplish in 1001 days (Monday, August 26, 2013):

Paint bedroom
Quit smoking
Move out (and stay out)
Backpack through Europe
Blog at least once per week- I had struck this one through and fell out of my groove on this for a month =/
Send out handmade Christmas cards
Try 1 new recipe per week
Finish Celtic Studies Certificate
Buy a new laptop
Cook at least 50% of my food from scratch
Go vegetarian
Lose 60lb
Run a 5K
Start a jewelry business of my own
Sew more of my own clothing
Have a solo art show
Hold a job for 1 year
Drive less and walk/bike/bus more
Make my dwelling feel more like a home
Survive the end of the Mayan calendar and at least one other apocalypse
Visit New York
100 hours of volunteer work
Do something for someone else without any personal gain of my own
Use more organics
Have a garden full of produce
Buy a camera- Black Friday sale! 12 megapixels $60
Spend a day getting pampered at a spa
Visit Washington D.C.
Save 30% of what I earn
Have a decent credit score- Working with my credit union to build this within a year!
Host a dinner party
Fall in love
Buy a car
Drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water per day
Start a 401K
Find a way to make brussels sprouts delicious
Send more letters- Red because I'm working on it (joined Swap-bot), but not struck through because I haven't sent much yet
Get a passport
Start my lower leg sleeve
Eat enough fruits and vegetables daily
Get more jewelry-making tools
Pay back Derek
Talk more TO people than ABOUT them
Get a studio space
Be a more positive person
Get into shape to play rugby again
Attend Burning Man
File taxes independently
Touch up biker tattoo
Live on nothing
Go skydiving
Meet and converse with someone I look up to
Start a professional website
Buy a pair of awesome leather boots that will last me forever
Start an Etsy shop
Play my clarinet and trumpet more
Tutor ESL again
Eat at a swanky restaurant
Eat more fish
Buy a bass clarinet mouthpiece
Keep in touch with the people that really matter
Make delicious handmade candies
Initiate conversations with strangers
Change my own oil
Learn to drive stick
Check out the Vindolanda site
Visit the grandmas more often
Paint a piece of furniture and make it awesome
Make my own lamp
Brew my own beer
Buy a huge canvas and paint something awesome on it- Also a Black Friday deal (36x48 for $20!!)
Draw another pointillism piece (and rock it)
Build a piece of furniture all by myself
Steal a traffic sign
Take an epic road trip
Make an adorable scrapbook
Learn to follow a knitting pattern
Reduce my carbon footprint
Have more good days than bad days
Go fishing
Judge people less
Throw a surprise party
Read every book I own
Sing in a Celtic band
Bake my own bread
Finish "Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes"
Buy more local products
Cook a giant hunk of meat successfully
Finish "lists" project
Buy an original artwork
Finish a "To do" list
Organize craft materials and art supplies
Fill a sketchbook
See Cirque Du Soleil live
Knit socks
Make a stranger's day
Learn more about computers
Wear more jewelry I've made
Have a conversation in Irish
Give somebody a present just because

Alright, that's my list (if you actually read that whole list, kudos. I wouldn't want to read that whole thing myself). You should make a list of your own and keep me updated on your progress. It's like a life support group, haha.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sleep is for the WEAK!

Hours of sleep in the past 3 days: 5
Hours of work in the past 2 days: 16
Hours of shopping in the past 2 days: unknown
Black Friday purchases before working at 8am: Giant down comforter, underwear, jeans, 12.1 megapixel camera, Christmas socks, tons of beads, and 36x48 canvas ($20- possibly the best deal of the day)

I will now be dead to the world until I work again tomorrow at 8am.