Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spirited away

I decided I wasn't going to put up my Christmas tree this year. My tiny apartment just feels extra full, and there's a part of me that just can't be bothered. The problem with this decision is that I love Christmas and decorating. After helping Steven put up his tree over a couple of holiday movies, I needed to do something.

I got kind of addicted to paper chain making after last year's holiday cabin adventure, so I grabbed some old magazines and started hacking away. Throw in some bubble lights and the beginning of my brush bottle forest, and you've got yourself a little cheer.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving, gang. I've been using the day after to do a little day dreaming.

Photo by Scarlet Rose

I dream. I dream of a cottage with a garden and sunlit studio. Gabled roofs and bay windows*.

There is also a piece of me buried not so deep that wants to acquire one of these beauties and traverse the country collecting and telling stories. Teaching and learning.

Sunset and Airstream
Photo by Rich Luhr

Inspired by listening to Don Davis speak and his current research** into the forgotten people of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. This is a man who understands culture and history and the importance of human relationships to the evolution of our landscape. Geeky and random, but I get excited by ideas like this.

Three Hills Street Freaks Show
Photo by James Tworow

Think I can convince my j-o-b to let me be their roving office for six months while I spread the gospel of river restoration? Hahaha. Yeah, me neither.

Photo by Volker Neumann

I've been completely devouring this blog (Delightfully Tacky), so it's only natural my wanderlust has been triggered :-)

*There’s also a nice smelling man in this scenario.
**I want to read one of his newer books, Washed Away? The Invisible Peoples of Louisiana’s Wetlands.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

With a little help from my friends

My mom drove me to my conference in Galveston last week. For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of Texas, that's roughly an 8 hour drive (9 when you factor in stops).

From the sparse desert to the coastal estuary we roadtripped, and like any good journey, we needed some theme music. I went with a combination of old school and newer indie folk with a little Willie Nelson thrown in for good measure (because, seriously, what's better than driving through Texas with a little Willie). I thought I'd share our playlist below (though these versions may not match). Some hits, some misses but a good time all around.

As for the beach shots, don't be jealous. The two pictures I've posted are as close as I ever got to the beach.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Room with a view

This week has been difficult. Work. Stress. The positive? The view from my hotel room.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Last train to Clarksville

Today was my last day in San Angelo (this trip), so we did a bit more roaming around the town. I've been wanting to see the newest exhibit at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller.

While the building is cool and a symbol of one of the better things about San Angelo, one of the things that keeps it from being truly outstanding is that the space is really only conducive to hosting one or two exhibits at a time. Flaws of weak exhibits glitter under the neon sign of failure, and even strong offerings by the museum can be a bit of a let down when they take all of 10 minutes to enjoy. Everyone likes a quickie every now and then, but sometimes you want something you can really sink your teeth into.

Anyway, I digress. I enjoyed the Herman Miller exhibit largely because I had no expectations. I was impressed with the effort they put into the graphic displays and telling the story. Was there much in the way of actual furniture? Not really. Most of what was on display can be found at some of the better thrift stores and antique malls around the country. Disconcerting that I've touched and sat in originals like the ones on display and yet was unable to even take a photo today.

The museum was also hosting an Indian festival today, so be browsed a couple of the tables there, and I took up their offer of a bindhi. I think I'm hooked. I want to wear one every day :-)

For lunch, we headed to Miss Hattie's for one of the burgers Texas Monthly dubbed one of the best in Texas. In addition to the tasty burger (I had the Triple XXX), I like the tawdry history of Miss Hattie's in that it was a bordello until 1946. The irony of passing under a White Ribbon Against Pornography banner just a couple of blocks away was not lost on me.

It was a nice way to spend my last day in San Angelo.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When geese attack

My day felt a little like this. And, yes, I really did get chased by a goose tonight. This fella here is my proof.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

June Cleaver

Pyrex. Oh those coveted bowls and dishes. They are sought, collected, displayed and cherished by people all around the country.

eight more reasons to love my thrifty meme
Photo by Tofutti Break

My own beady eyes have scanned shelves at thrift stores for the pretty colors and patterns, attracted to simple styling and sturdiness, and I know I'm not alone. I've generally got a pal by my side who is just as enamored and cradling a slew of stacked bowls in her arms.

Photo by Leigh Kelsey

I never really stopped to think about why, past the aesthetic appeal, owning Pyrex provided such satisfaction. However, as I began making dinner at my mom's house tonight, I found myself headed to that familiar shelf in the cabinet where she keeps her Pyrex casserole dishes. As I pulled it down, I realized that it's the connection to my past and the stories of growing up that drive me to inadvertently seek out that Pyrex casserole dish.

While just a piece of glass, the brand is also my grandmother teaching me how to make a lasagna...Thanksgivings around the kitchen table...watching my mom make crazy cakes (Better Than Sex cake, anyone?) for special occasions.

Pyrex Museum, Bremerton, WA
Photo by Curtis Cronn

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Come away with me

Louis Vuitton released these pretty darned creative video guides in an effort to promote the launch of their new city guides. I have a soft spot for quirky videos. The combination of their brevity, visual eye candy and delivery of off-beat facts totally lured me in. Now I just need to find the time and money for a few international jaunts this coming year. :-)

Louis Vuitton city guide Berlin from Doc News on Vimeo.

First seen on Honestly, WTF.

Monday, November 08, 2010

No country for old men

Note: I apologize for all the Texas posting, folks. I'm not obsessed. It's just so much easier to capture my memories and thoughts of the state while I'm knee-deep in the culture. I'm here 'til the 18th, so bear with me.

The West Texas landscape is unforgiving. Mile after mile of mesquite and cactus. Dry creek beds where, in more hospitable climates, you would see water flowing.

Back when I called Texas home, the drive was something to be endured. Highways became familiar and monotonous after traveling to Friday away games in the back of a yellow bus, weekend getaways and Sunday drives. However, time and distance provide a refreshed perspective. Stark transforms into beautiful. Flat suddenly feel expansive, providing breathing room for days.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


I turned 35 today. Holy cow. For the first time in 12 years, I spent my birthday in Texas. My pictures.


more studios
We hit up Saturday at the Chicken Farm Art Center.

We ended up running into a parade on our way downtown. I tried to tell myself the celebration was for me.


modeling fur bag
Modeling a bag we decided would be better suited to life as a pet.

the Cactus Hotel
Wandering around downtown.

new bowl
A bowl my mom bought for me at the Chicken Farm.

vintage clip-on bow ties
Vintage bow ties I picked up. So excited to use these for future crafty endeavors.

birthday dinner

Italian Cream Birthday Cake
Cake :-)

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Bonfire by the talented Lisa Congdon (I figured you at least needed pretty things to look at if you were going to listen to my rant.)

Within the first hour of every trip home, my mom will most assuredly look me in the eye and declare political conversations off limits. She really should know better by now, and it's generally a debate I look forward to. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it here before, but despite my grandfather's best efforts* to ensure I was raised a dedicated Republican campaigner, he ended up passing on all his enthusiasm to a radical progressive. Oops.

This in no way deters him from still trying. Yesterday he popped his head in while I was working to let me know about Obama's trip to India, wondering if I knew about the number of planes he was taking and the fact that it was costing us $200 million a day. Despite my prodding him that that sounded a bit ridiculous, he stuck to his guns that he heard it on the news.

Three Sheep
Three Sheep by Lisa Congdon

Where is everyone's skepticism? Why the immediate need to believe everything you're fed by the news media? I hopped on Google and began to do some pretty simple digging. Within 5 minutes I had ascertained that the reports were made by an anonymous source at an Indian paper. Really? U.S. outlets are just going to blindly accept that and run with it? Of course they least long enough for it gain traction. It seeps through media outlets and is picked up by conservatives doing some last minute stumping. It gets repeated over and over and those listening accept hearsay as fact.

Over dinner tonight I happened to mention what I found out to my grandfather. He, of course, seemed skeptical. As we ate, I overheard bits and pieces of the conversation of the table next to us (yes, I'm that girl). More proliferation of the Obama story and some conservative railing against liberals. Information and opinions passed along as fact without any sort of legitimate backing whatsoever. I'm pretty sure my mom thought I was going to blow a gasket as I glanced at her. She, too, had heard.

Putting political differences aside, what blows my mind is the seemingly blind acceptance of the information people are presented with. Where are the seekers? If I were to hear on the news that Republicans were trying to repeal women's voting rights, I wouldn't just accept and repeat. I would research, dig, verify through multiple sources of differing credibility. After three years on the college debate team, I learned very quickly that you can find "evidence" and "facts" to support whatever position you want to take. The world is going to end in 3 days? Done. A nuclear power plant in Utah will set off a chain reaction that will speed up global warming? Done.

I guess I would just sleep better at night if people would take at least five minutes to do a little of their own digging because, if they did, I doubt** this particular story would have spread as quickly as it did. Later tonight, my grandpa popped his head in again to tell me that the news (Bill O'Reilly) was now saying those figures were likely exaggerated and incorrect. Duh. ;-)

*I remember being in junior high and brought along to work the elections with my grandpa.
**Who am I kidding? Of course, it would have spread because it served the political will of certain folks.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Just another day in the neighborhood

I took a break from working today and actually escaped the house. It hit me last night that I hadn't so much as walked outside since Sunday evening and had, instead, been virtually tethered to the family recliner, pounding away on my laptop keys trying to meet work deadlines. Un.heal.thy.

So, with Texas temperatures finally cooperating, I took a break to run some errands with my mom's car. Angelo State University was my first stop, the alma mater that I hadn't seen since I graduated 12 years ago (gulp). I went with the purpose of visiting a high school friend who is now a lecturer with the math department. I spend so much time whenever I'm in San Angelo trying to avoid anyone I might possibly have known in high school, so I decided to take a different tactic this time. The more evolved part of my brain decided I should actively seek out the people I know (and know where they are) in order to just face the awkward small talk head on. With that in mind, I girded my loins and made the drive.

Small talk did indeed happen. I heard all about the kids and family vacations. There was also the obligatory discussion about whether we kept in touch with anyone else from high school. Despite the mundane conversation, it was what it should have been...a decent way for two people who used to be close to share part of their lives and a much better way to make a connection than friending someone on Facebook.

Cupcakes and the support of a local independent business were next on my agenda.


My mom has been talking about a new cupcake shop that opened inside a local florist, so in my quest to sample new cupcakes wherever I travel, I went to pick up a few for the family. I tried my best to be unbiased, but the name had me skeptical before I ever set foot inside the shop. Cakes in a Cup? I understand the desire to be cute and come up with a play on words, but it comes off as more annoying, less clever.

cupcake photo

Honestly, though, the name is the least of their worries. While the cupcakes maintain the appearance of similar cupcakes in well-known bakeries throughout DC (*cough* Georgetown Cupcake *cough*), their appeal ends there. I judge all bakeries by their vanilla cupcake and usually a couple more unique flavors. The vanilla cupcake offered up by Cakes in a Cup was one of the worst vanilla cupcakes I have had in a while. The icing was hard and extremely dense. One of the cupcakes above actually rolled over, and the icing didn't even dent. To make matters worse, there was very little flavor outside of huge amounts of sugar. We sampled 3 or 4 of the flavors offered and were continually disappointed (family consensus here). Of the cupcakes we tried, the Freshly Squeezed cupcake was by far the best with a lighter icing and just enough lemon zing. Even this wasn't enough to save the place from my criticism.

So, kids, public service message of the day: If you're ever in San Angelo and feel like a cupcake, skip Cakes in a Cup and go try a cookie from Hauffman's Cake Cottage.

P.S. There are plenty of people I probably wouldn't waste my breath on from high school. Those weren't even in consideration for looking up.
P.S.S. I actually had one more person on my list to look up at ASU but couldn't bring myself to do it. Too much baggage associated with this one just to walk in blindly. Maybe another day.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I brake for barns


It's true. While a stoic red barn highlighted against an azure sky (preferably Pantone 2718 C) is always a head turner, I am lured in just as easily by the faded patina of a greying structure on its last legs. Barns are somewhat romantic (like when Christopher plays Funny Face on the side of a barn for Lorelai in Gilmore Girls) and admittedly sometimes scary (having played a role in any number of scary movies. Anyway, when I saw these stickers at the conference I was at last week, I knew I had to pick one up. As the girl who is always trying to convince friends and family to stop and pose in front of barns, I couldn't resist.