Monday, January 28, 2013

Oliver Jeffers

It's been awhile since a painting sparked more than a cursory interest, much less left a deeper fire burning in my gut once I discovered the rest of the artist's work. Oliver Jeffers is one such artist, and damn, does it feel good to find someone to get excited about again!

This Irish fellow turned New Yorker is probably best known for his children's books, but it's his other work that took my breath away. Whimsy and an appealing aesthetic aside, it's the wit he infuses his paintings with that is especially compelling. 'Still life with logic and a choice of beverage', and his other pieces that include mathematical equations, are some of my favorite.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013 dream jar


When I stumbled across this dream jar tutorial on the Free People blog, I knew I needed to put one together. It's sort of a magical way capture your dreams, right? Mine? It has a bit of a map and torn ticket stubs for travel, bits of vintage lace for creativity, a piece of granite for the great outdoors, and a polaroid for love :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

5 things you need to keep in mind when eating barbecue in Texas


I am by no means a barbecue savant. Still, you can guarantee I'll (1) always have barbecue when I travel back to Texas and (2) crave it when I'm hanging around vegans. I didn't leave San Angelo on my most recent trip, but I managed to eat at both Bodacious Bar-B-Q and Bubba's. As I was scooping ice out of Bubba's cooler, it occurred to me that there are five things* you need to keep in mind when eating barbecue in Texas.

1. There will always be a loaf of white bread on the table.
2. Do not think about whose hands have been inside that bag.
3. Things could get messy, so make sure you've also got the roll of paper towels.
4. It's as much about the sides as it is the meat.
5. Speaking of meat, you'll probably have to pick out your own. Don't worry, I've never seen them name it.

*These things may hold true in other states, too, but it hasn't been my experience with Virginia barbecue.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My story as told by water, part III


Not all of my early years in the water happened in swimming pools.

When you think of Texas, water probably isn't something that you immediately associate with the state. Water is a daily part of life in Texas, especially whether or not it will rain. We talk a lot about rain...and dust. Still, we were lucky enough to have a few local watering holes.

The photo above was taken at Lake Nasworthy*, locally known as Lake Nasty Water. I don't really know why we called it that. Perhaps because of its mucky bottom? We only ever went to the lake for events. It wasn't the kind of place--we weren't the kind of people--to go hang out at the lake just because. In fact, my memories of it are spotty at best and largely associated with driving past it on my way to the airport or hanging out at my friend Audrey's house on the water. Audrey had a ferret, saved spiders and would find snakes in the grass near the boat launch. She was the closest thing to an outdoorsy friend that I had. To the younger me, she was both crazy and exotic.

There was one 4th of July where we joined the throngs of people headed to the lake, the car packed tightly with lawn chairs and blankets, to enjoy the fireworks. Even that was more about the cacophony of sounds and tepid display of lights than the water. The only time I remember actually going in the water was during a group picnic-brouhaha-thing at the university lake house. Lacking the carefree nature of my friends and acquaintances, I was the girl in cheap, slip-on water shoes edging her way into the water and squirming as her feet sank further in the mud. 

*I'm going to spare you the lecture on how I now know it's a reservoir. False advertising!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

(January) Creating an inviting home


The title is a bit disingenuous. I've always been the type of person to immediately unpack after moving, don't hesitate to get art up on the wall and am always making minor adjustments. Still, there have been a few pieces--nightstands, dresser--I've been looking for since I moved into the new space last February. I decided to take my goal of creating more and focus on my apartment in January.

The shot above is a tiny corner of my bedroom. I finally found a bedside table that fit my aesthetic (and that can very easily become something else when I change my mind). Even more exciting though is the locker/cabinet I stenciled! Inspired by Victoria's bathroom makeover, I snagged the Ikea atran medicine cabinet and created a stencil to spiff it up. I think it will be a great place to hide lotion for my dry hands, vitamins I always forget to take and other odds and ends. A friend suggested I use it for me salacious purposes, but that's another conversation for another time. :-)

I've got more home projects up my sleeve that I'll share when done. The downside (upside?) is that this is only making me want to spend the winter months snuggled up at home even more.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blazing trails in Prince William Forest Park


I'm lucky that I sometimes get to spend time outside as part of my job. I didn't really grow up outdoorsy, and many of my other favorite activities are indoor affairs. Let's not discuss how I feel about bugs. So, you can imagine how long it took me to make the connection between the exhilarating high of fresh air and exertion with my treks to rivers all across the country.

I've finally managed to put two and two together and decided to try to incorporate a bit of hiking into my weekend. This Saturday I convinced Ravena to come with me to Prince William Forest Park to hike down to a waterfall on Quantico Creek. I needed to evaluate its ability to pass fish for a future potential project and figured I could kill two birds with one stone. Also, I'm secretly trying to convince Ravena (also my gym buddy) that we should replace a day in the gym with outdoor hikes.

The parking lot for the trail in question was full, and the next lot was about 2 miles away. We ended up at the further lot, but my rogue nature kicked in. I was not interested in walking back along the road to the official trail and was more into blazing our own path. We took off into the woods with me trying to navigate with Google maps (hello, urban park) and the compass on my iphone. I was like a modern Meriweather Lewis.

Can I admit to being a little scared? I was a little scared. The park is pretty big, and once you're a ways into the woods, it all really does start to look the same. I knew that by continuing to move downhill we would run into the river, but what about when we turned to head back? I may have freaked out (internally) when Google maps suddenly put me in a completely different location.

P.S. If you can't handle conversations that begin with "what would you do for water if we got lost and were trapped out here for days", you probably don't want to go on an adventure with me :-)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

My reading year*, 2012

Clearly, I don't inhale books in the way that I do movies. If movies are my fast food (cheap, lacking in nutritional value and quickly forgotten), the written word is a meal at The French Laundry. You don't want to shove it into your mouth while barreling down the road listening to a podcast. I can read quickly and spent many years mainlining books. At this point in my life, I just choose not to. Getting lost in a story and putting off the inevitable end are where it's at!

January 2012

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life by Ann Patchett
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

March 2012

Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

April 2012

Uncivil Seasons by Michael Malone
Time's Witness by Michael Malone

July 2012

Shadow of Night (All Soul's Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness
Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy #3) by Mira Grant

September 2012

The Passage by Justin Cronin

October 2012

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

*Inspired by, and borrowed from, Austin Kleon (one of my favorite, most enlightening people to follow).

Monday, January 07, 2013

My watching year*, 2012

What movies did I spend my money and time consuming in 2012**? See my full of titles below.

Argo, Looper and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter are battling it out for my top pick.

Secret loves I know you'll judge
Battleship, 21 Jump Street and Breaking Dawn Part II

You probably shouldn't waste your money
I love Johnny Depp, but I really regretted Dark Shadows.

Want to see last year's list?

This Means War
21 Jump Street
Hunger Games
Cabin in the Woods
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Dark Shadows
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Magic Mike
Dark Knight Rises
Step Up 4
Pitch Perfect
Wreck-it Ralph
Breaking Dawn, Part II
Red Dawn
The Hobbit

*Inspired by, and borrowed from, Austin Kleon (one of my favorite, most enlightening people to follow).
**Only includes the movies I watched that debuted in 2012.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Proceed at your own risk, otherwise known as my path for 2013

at your own risk

According to the great Google, free is (among other things) to be able to act or do as one wishes or without cost or payment. Free time, then, should be that period of time where you can do whatever you want with little regard to cost. However, cost, particularly to the multifaceted among us, cannot be ignored. As someone who enjoys pursuing many different things, there are inherent tradeoffs I make on a daily basis when I decide how to spend my free time. 

Once my adult chores* are taken care of, every hour not spent at work is mine for filling with all of the things, people and activities I love. This, my dears, is the glory and selfishness of choosing to remain childless. I spend much of this time in the role of consumer or creator**. I am a pop culture and history fiend, and as such, curling up on the couch with a good book or settling into a dark theater for a movie or play recharges me. Articles and essays inspire and educate me. I take in. I consume, cramming my brain with more, more, more. This, however, leaves little time for creating things of my own, for turning the scraps of paper and ideas stored in the dark reaches of my brain into actual things. This is my tradeoff.

2012 was a very good year, but in this new year, I want to flip the equation. I'm not coming up with official resolutions, but my focus for 2013 is going to be on creation. Let's see what we can make happen!

*Cleaning, bill paying, errands, meal planning. What? You don't call them chores?
**There are also the roles of giver and doer, but I'm not going to address those, since I spend roughly 50 hours a week giving and doing at a nonprofit in exchange for a meager salary. Passion versus profit, my friend.