Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Maybe I'm Crazy

Uh-oh. What's this?
I must be mad to start this right before my busy season starts. Mad!

"Hells bells, Molls, how long do they expect us to wait?"

"Just be patient, my pet. Being antsy never got anyone anywhere." Molls was a matronly sort, with neatly cropped white hair and a generous smile. She turned her dark eyes on her companion, a rather excitable young woman. Jukka was long and lean, with a tangle of red hair. Molls had no idea where the girl had come from, but she had a look of wild and far off places about her.

Jukka fidgeted some more, and then plopped herself down on the deck of their modest boat. Molls made a tutting sound and then returned her attention to the road. It was a small road that was seldom used and often forgotten, perfect for her and her clients.

The faint glow of headlights in the distance caught her eye. "Get up Jukka. We've got company. Do you think you can keep your trap shut this time?" Molls gave her companion a quick, sharp glance.

A sleek car came to a steady stop on the grassy shore. A figure unfolded itself from the driver's seat and stood in the shadows just behind the headlamps. This wasn't Molls usual contact and she rested her hand on the small pistol hidden beside her.

"Are you Molls?" came a strong and masculine voice.

"That's me. But you're not my usual guy, and I don't much like folks who hide in the shadows."

"Forgive me for being cautious." The tall figure stepped forward and beamed a winning smile. "After the other night's incidents, Rudy thought he should send someone with a little more tact. They call me Ginger Mickey. Now, how about we settle this little dispute?"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nightstand Edition 1.26.12

Greetings Spatulans! 

I cannot believe that tomorrow is Friday. This week has been going by so fast, and yet the days seem to stretch out terribly long. Must be one of those Wibbly Wobbly Timey Whimey things.

Anywho. It's winter, even though it's darn near tropical here in southside Virginia, the fact is remains that it is still January. And Winter means hibernation. And hibernation, for me, means sitting on my duff and getting some reading done. Which is why I bring you....Nightstand: What I'm Reading

Nightstand is what I books I'm currently reading that live on my bedside table. Let's dig in shall we? 

From top to bottom we have:

Stuck: Why We Can't (or Won't) Move On by Anneli Rufus- I purchased this book on a whim recently, and have been very much enjoying it. Some of the writing gets a bit swampy and bogged down with facts and research, but overall Anneli makes very interesting points. 

Women Who Run With The Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes- You've all heard me rant and rave about this book, I know. I've been working my way through this book off and on for months now. Being my second read through, I wanted to slow down and take my time so that I might be able to better soak up all the goodness this book contains. A friend of mine once said that she thought this should be considered essential reading for all women. I have to agree! 

The Secret Power of Middle Children by Catherine Salmon, Ph. D. & Katrin Schuman-  Being a middle child I always knew I had super powers. Now I'm finding out what they are. I promise to use them for good and not (too much) evil. ;) A very good read, and one I highly recommend! 

So good Spatulans of the world- what books are you keeping by your side? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Movie Magic

I don't ask much from my movies. A few explosions, some gun fights, a couple of beefcakes; my tastes are simple. I tend to like movies that are larger than life and in no way, shape, or form realistic.

Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered that my newest favorite movie is a quiet little film that mixes a little bit of real life with a whole lot of weird time travel and jazz.

It's odd that I should have mentioned Woody Allen last week, because this movie is his latest, "Midnight in Paris." Before you roll your eyes, though, let me tell you this is nowhere near as zany as his usual stuff. There are no giant souffles, no random musicals, and no raunchy material.

There is only one word for this movie: charming. From Owen Wilson's naivete, to the magical city of Paris, and the soundtrack; everything about this movie just makes you feel charmed. And when the movie was over I felt like I could really believe in it, that it was entirely possible to walk around Paris at midnight and suddenly find yourself transported to another age, another era.

It's also easy to relate to the main character, a writer searching for his best story and who longs to live in a different time; he's a romantic.

I don't usually gush about movies, but this one is something special, and I'd say it is Woody Allen's best. Do yourselves a favor; rent this movie and be prepared to fall in love. And if my glowing report isn't enough to convince you, just listen to the opening music: très charmant!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How To Do Alone: Winter Crafty Cards

It’s cold and grey and rainy and snowy outside and you’ve wanted to do some winter project crafty things but think 1. It takes too much time, 2. You can’t do it, 3. Someone else can do it better, 4. You don’t have the supplies, or 5. You need someone to help. I’m here to let you know 1. These cards take 1-3 hours to make, 2. You CAN do this, 3. No one can make them like you can, 4. You can use anything you have supply wise, and 5. I’m here to help!

Makes: 12 cards approximately 3”X4” or 6 cards and 3 envelopes.

What You Need:
Brown paper bag. A large paper grocery bag can make 12 cards or 6 cards and 3 envelopes.
Adhesive. Glue, Tape, Mod Podge, Spit if it’s loogey enough, Finger nail polish, model airplane glue, paint even gets sticky and will be kind of cool when it dries. You could even sew everything together with needle and thread.
Scissors. Or a sharp knife if you know how to wield it, hack saw, hatchet if you’re working with really thick paper.
Magazines. Wrapping paper, wall paper, pictures, photographs, maps, newspapers, printed images, pieces of paper or tags or lists you’ve found, candy wrappers sans candy.
Blank Paper. This is for the inside message. This is optional. You can just write on the paper bag inside. The white paper makes it easier to write and read the message.
Writing Thing. Pen, pencil, marker, crayon, paints, rusty nail, charcoal, stick burned at the end… blood from your finger, I guess, if you’re desperate to write a message right then and there and you find yourself without something with which to write. I would suggest skipping the blood and waiting until you find something else.
Music. Crafty Playlist anyone?
Note: This version of cards is the “I just wanna make something” version. This is not the “I’m going to make cards and envelopes and sell them for bunches of money” version. The later requires a lot of time, rulers, exacto knives, pressing, sealing, selling, and an accuracy that is not required for the former.

What To Do:
Grab your magazines, photos, wall paper, collectings, and whatever and start cutting away. Get a collection of card size things. Set aside. Grab your paper bag. I’m working with a standard grocery bag size. You know how both sides can fold in? Well hold the opening of the bag in front of your face so you see those folds. Notice how it looks like a W or an M? you are going to cut from the top of the bag down to the bottom as if you are freeing the capitalized letter from the side of the bag. When you are done cutting you are going to have a really long letter shape. Open this letter and cut down the middle crease of this so you have two V shapes. This will be where your cards come from. You can leave the sides uneven or cut them so you have even sides.  Close the fold and cut across so you have three individual cards. Before you get your adhesive/tape/glue all over the cards and the clippings do a test run. Go through your clippings and fit all the pieces on the front of the card the way you want it before gluing so you can change things around if you want. Then glue/adhesive/sew everything together. Next you can cut some white stripes of paper to fit (you’ll have to glue/tape it) inside of the card so you have a writing surface or you can leave the card as is and write on the brown paper bag. If you decided to make envelopes all you have to do is find an envelope already made that fits your cards. Open up the envelope and trace the shape on the brown paper bag. Then cut the shape out and glue/tape the sides down so there is space for the cards to fit in your new brown paper envelopes. Use your writing thing to write a message. And Ta Da!

What I Did:
See above.

P.S. If you really like cutting things out the cutting/collecting process itself can take 1-2 hours extending this project into more hours. But, hey, you might really get into it and not care how long you are being all crafty-like.

To Be or Not To Be Yourself

First: I cannot get over making playlists with the number of songs matching the date number. Here, I’ve made three playlists for you. You can check them out after the cut. 

Second: New Year’s Resolutions. How many of you have stuck to 'em? I know it’s only the middle/endish of January… but... I haven’t followed any of mine. I almost got upset that I hadn’t started any of my resolutions, but I got to thinking (based on some thoughtful conversations with The Bear and a great email convo with my pal Gin). I wondered how many of our resolutions are to change something about ourselves because this “thing” we are changing is not like other people or we take into account other people in general when making changes/resolutions. A friend of mine once said, “The older I get the less I give a S*%&”. In that same conversation I was told, “The things that you think make you awkward or weird are exactly the things that make you, you.”  Both comments are things I think we forget sometimes. I know I do.

Third: Younger Selves VS Older Selves. Sometimes I wonder what my younger self would think of myself now. How much have I changed, how much have I stayed the same, and would my younger self want to be my older self’s friend? Also I wonder why I’ve stopped doing some of the things that I did when I was younger that are simply Magic. You know: coloring outside the lines, making skies a different color, having picnics and tea parties, playing and exploring in the mud and woods, and gathering treasures (like dirty string and dead bugs).

Fourth: All of these things came together for me in this way: I’m redoing my “resolutions”.  They won’t be goals to have completed by the end of this year but a sort of resolution to have “Things I Love” each day, a decision to be “Young At Heart”, and to “Play In Life”, to do, eat, and read thing that I like even if someone else does not. I’m challenging myself to be more myself without worrying about what other people think.

Challenge: Be more yourself. OK, so you may be thinking, “This girl is nuts. I’m always myself.” And you may be right (except for the nuts part. The nuts part is just me being me. AH HA!) But there may be some of you who are thinking, “Wow, I really have let all this adult-stress get in the way of me being me!” In that case, I challenge you to do one small thing each day this week that is you. When you were younger did you dress up like an aviator or Ninja Turtle and fly an invisible plane or fight an invisible Bebop in the front lawn? Did you have tea parties? Did you ride your bike to your neighbor’s house and write ridiculous stories about girls with super powers, startlingly similar to those girls in Sailor Moon? Did you stick stickers on your guitar case before trying by ear to play “Today”? Did you make collages of all your favorite things? Well, you should try doing all of these things again, but in your own adult self way. Host a movie party and invite two or three friends to dress up like the ninja turtles and watch the live action TMNT movie (the first one). Have a tea party with coffee and your friend, let yourself write the most ridiculous story you can think (you don’t have to show it to anyone, or you can write it for someone). Bring out that guitar and play or cut up some old magazines and make a collage or card for someone. Do something that you loved when you were younger and happen to still love.

What is something that you loved to do when you were younger but haven’t done since you’ve been an “adult”? What do you want to do this week?

And now for something completely different:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Things I Love Thursday 1.19.12 Edition

Things I Love Thursday
Things That Keep Me Sane So I Don't Hurt Anyone...List

I don't know about you, but for me it's been one of those weeks that has both crawled by and flown all at the same time. Winter has a way of making you want to stay cuddled in your couch cushion fort and sipping big bowls of uber salty soups.

In an attempt to combat the Winter Blues, here's a list of things that are keeping me obnoxiously sunny this week.

Tom Hiddleston. Really this guy is almost too good to be true. He's quickly become one of me and Clara's favorite inside jokes. Let's just say everything can be broken down to the reason: "Because Hiddles!" 

Finishing a really good book. I've resolved to read all the books that I've been putting off reading this year. Some  of these have been lingering around the house for years, while some are relatively new. One of my recent purchases was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. And folks? This woman knows how to tell a story! Originally there were a few things that I would have done differently as a writer, but really I loved how she crafted her story and her characters. I recommend it to any of you who have a bend towards Young Adult fiction or fantasy. She does not disappoint. 

My nostalgia for the 90's has not waned since last week. I found this clip from this season of Portlandia for the sole reason of seeing Eddie Vedder's acting chops. And I have to say....not bad!

Zumba. I've recently taken up this amalgam of dance styles for the sheer desire to get out of the house and do something that involves getting up off my winterized @$$. Our instructor is sweet and sassy and dishes out hugs to everyone. In my book that makes it worth looking like an awkward eight grader at her first school dance. Thank god there are no mirrors! Else you might see a familiar face on youtube. (I shudder at the thought!) 

Painting in my studio. I'm almost loathe to going over there now, but I'm grateful every time I do. I've seen so much progress in my art making since I started renting the space last May. The reason I sometimes can't bear the thought of going over there is because the likelihood of the guild staying open past July is, well, slim. Until then I'm going to make the most of it. 

Insurance. If there's one thing I hate about being an adult, it's having to deal with insurance agents. After some difficulty I finally have coverage. *Phew!* Big relief! (For me and my mother. Heh.) 

Cute shoes. That's probably the most girly sentence I've typed to date. It's true though- I found my ideal pair of shoes this past weekend and I'm itching to wear them. (Leopard print closed toed wedges from Payless. If anyone was wondering.)

Weekend adventuring. Clara and I are going to have an almost inappropriate amount of fun this weekend. Rembrandt, Greek food, Spice shops, and action movies may or may not be involved. Trust me, shenanigans will ensue. Always. ;) 

This video- Just because it makes me laugh:

What's made your TiLT list this week? 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stranger than Fiction

I take an enormous amount of pride in my imagination. It is simply rampant. The slightest little input can trigger an image, the image becomes a story. I mean, not everyone could have driven past some roadkill in a dense fog and turned it into a voodoo necromancer and his zombie alligator.

But let me tell you, there are some things that even my fertile imagination couldn't dream up. Most of these have been told to me by my mother, who seems to have had some rather extraordinary experiences in her life.

I was watching a show about dogs the other day when a segment came on about the Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound, and I suddenly remembered a story she had told me about an encounter she had had with the lovely breed of dog, and I'd like to share that with you, because I couldn't make this up if my life depended on it.

It was a hot summer's day when my mother was a teenager, a mere slip of a girl with long, wavy red hair. She was in attendance at a swanky city hotel to meet the eccentric Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia.

The doors suddenly flew open to reveal Dr. Manahan, Anderson's husband and cheerleader, who made quite a fuss over introducing the strange woman, bowing and genuflecting. Anna Anderson herself shuffled in quietly, wearing an over sized rain coat and clutching a large red purse held together by wires, and disappeared into a private dining room.

Now, it transpired that Dr. Manahan had about a dozen golden Russian Wolfhounds in his old station wagon and as it was a very hot day he enlisted my mother's help in taking glasses of water out to them. Dr. Manahan, who was at best eccentric, but probably crazy, "accidentally on purpose" let all the dogs out and they promptly ran amok in the hotel.

Have you ever seen a Russian Wolfhound? Here, let me show you.

They are the second largest sight hound after the Irish Wolfhound. Now imagine a dozen of those pouring out of an old station wagon and into an upscale hotel dining room.

While the hotel manager screamed at Dr. Manahan to collect his dogs, there was my mom, in a white silk dress and high heels, running after twelve large, fast Wolfhounds with scraps of chicken and glasses of cold water. She and Dr. Manahan both were in their glory.

Not even Woody Allen could make something like this up, and he fought a giant souffle with a broom. I spent a good ten minutes rolling on the sofa laughing at the thought of my dolled up mother chasing a bunch of dogs through a hotel. It is one of those experiences that seem almost divine, and I am certain that no one else can claim to have done this.

I will struggle all my life to think of a story as funny and serendipitous as that hot summer afternoon. Fiction can't compare to real life.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kitchen Magic

Q:What can you make
with left over veggies?
OK. I really wanted to expand that last "Things I love" post about food into something more substantial. I wanted to post about the simple things we cook when there isn't anything in the fridge except left overs. I wanted to ask about the simple things you bake when there isn't anything in the pantry except flour, sugar, and some baking powder. I wanted to write about the simple Magic We Make in the Kitchen when there doesn't seem to be any Magic at all.

A: Veggie Wontons!
I've been really into food bloggers lately. I've been smitten with this blog especially. I love looking up recipes and making something wonderful out of the bare minimum of ingredients. The less ingredients required or more ingredients I actually have in my reach that are required the better. I love the Magic one can make from the simplest things. Flour, sugar, water, and a little hot oil... funnel cakes, anyone? Don't know what I'm talking about? When was the last time you woke up an hour later than usual on a lazy Saturday morning and decided to make a breakfast for you and your loved ones? Is Pancakes a special Sunday morning tradition?

What I'm getting at is this: When do we take the time to make some Simple Magic? It's not that far away. Simple Magic is as close as the kitchen. But, when do we take the time and breathe and relax and make something that we usually don't make (a stack of blue berry pancakes, Nutella filled crepes, cheese and sausage biscuits, lavender and earl grey scones)? Do we keep ourselves busy, filling ourselves with cheep and easy and quick things to eat because they are just that? Don't get me wrong, I love me some Ramen. But, why don't we let ourselves indulge in simple kitchen Magic as much as we could?

Lazy Saturday Blueberry Pancakes!
My challenge for you, Spatulans, is this: Make something for yourself this week that you normally wouldn't make. Make something you either haven't had the time, the ingredients, or the will power to make or because the next episode of Alias is on and you'd rather watch that. Clear that schedule, buy those ingredients (or find a new yummy recipe that requires things you already have) and get to making some delicious Magic for you or someone special. Simple Magic is only 15 minutes at 350 degrees away.

Also This: It's a playlist of 16 songs for the 16th. The only thing is... I posted on the 15th thinking it was the 16th. So wait until Monday to play this. Or, you can play this while you are baking up some Magic this week.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

90's Nostalgia

There must be something about winter time that makes me nostalgic. Last week I was (and still am!) all about some Lisa Frank. Since then I've watched Pearl Jam Twenty and have listened to Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike" in what might be considered an inappropriate amount of times. (I apologize in advance, for I do worship at the throne of His Royal Highness Eddie Vedder.) (It's the cheekbones.)

(No, really. I love me some cheekbones.)

In the words of Tom Hiddleston: "Proof? PUDDING!"

And to further illustrate Eddie Vedder's cool status, here's what is probably my favorite interview with him.

Is anyone else out there using these dark winter months to look back and reflect? Either on the '90's or otherwise? And, like me, or you wondering just how much plaid you've worn recently? (Me: Two days in a row. Boo-yeah!) ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In Which I Ramble

Well, internet, I was planning on writing something awesome. Truly. No, really. I had grand designs swirling majestically through my mind.
But, well, then I got distracted, as one does, by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. And I forgot everything I had thought of earlier. Zoom, right out the window.

So, instead, I'm going to tell you the story about the goblin who lives in my closet and messes with my clothing at night. Poor Miss Lucy, who is often subject to my strange rantings, has already heard my story and she thinks she might have the same breed of goblin in her apartment. Maybe we have a goblin infestation in our building. It could be worse, I suppose; could be cockroaches.

Anyway, I have a goblin in my closet. For the sake of the story I have decided to name her McGill (but everyone knows her as Nancy). It is my belief that through some kind of strange goblin sorcery, McGill alters the inseam of my trousers by a centimeter each night. All of my work trousers are now at least 3 inches shorter than when I bought them. This is rather embarrassing for me, because I don't own a normal pair of socks. Now everyone at work can see my odd socks because my trousers are too short. (They are the sort of respectable people who only own all black socks. To them, my multi-color striped socks are simply uncouth.)

I can't figure out why McGill might be doing this, except that goblins are generally mischievous, but I am hoping that I can bribe her with bread and sweet milk. If she accepts these gifts, I think I might try to use her services for good. She is a fantastic seamstress; I can't see the evidence of her alterations at all.

I'll keep you all informed as to whether my attempts are successful, and I'd welcome any tips from you clever internet folk who may have dealt with goblin tailors in the past.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Things I love/Good Eats/This Week In Photos

This Week In Photos: (L-R) New purse brought into the store,
Scully Cat suns himself, sewing with The Bear, Carrot Ginger Miso Soup
and Whiskey Ginger drinks, Baked Egg, Super Salad with rainbow carrots 
and homemade garlic croutons, homemade blueberry pancakes 
and a lovely lazy day
This week there were so many things to love. Actually, each week there are so many things to love but sometimes I just don't take the time to look because I'm too worried about something or because one of the various "Femotion" triggers has started me crying. This past week I took the time to notice and I'm continuing the trend of "Things I Love [This Day]" and posting mine... As a photo collage!

 What are the little things that made you smile this week? Are there things that happen every week that help you remember there are good things in life despite the crap that is all around you on an hourly basis.

My things I love list has a lot to do with food. Which brings me to a question: What are some of your favorite things to cook and then eat? This can be an extravagant three course dinner a simple egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. I have some favorite things I like to make and eat and cook for my other. This past week I made some simply extravagant things: Baked Egg with Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms; Fresh cut potatoes baked with chili powder and rosemary with homemade sesame oil and teriyaki vinegar dip.

What are your favorite "For One" simple recipes and what are your favorite "I'm Going To Wine and Dine You" recipes. My favorite Breakfast Sandwich to Make: Toast with melted cheese on one side, mayo on the other. Fried Egg and tomato in the middle. Salt Pepper and Fresh Dill all over. These recipes don't have to be fancy. I tried to make things with the things I had in the apartment. My aunt's favorite go-to dinner for one is: Canned tuna (drained) with sliced sharp white cheddar cheese on top. Stick the whole can in the toaster oven and let the cheese get all bubbly and golden on top. Let me tell you, she made this for me, and it's now on my list of "Favorite Things to eat when I'm by myself."

Also This:

Scully is a poof ball. He likes to sun his belly.

Friday, January 6, 2012

In Praise of Childhood Memories

Tonight, I made out like a bandit.

Maybe I should back up a step or three. 

You see, I have a slight obsession with Lisa Frank. You know who I'm talking about- the woman whose collection of bright, glittery, neon creatures invaded the hearts and minds of every little girl in the '80's & '90's? 

That's the one! 

My initial love of art and introduction to color theory can all be traced back to the days I spent scouring the aisles of Rose's with my grand-dad, Dude. He was a sucker for his cute, little grand babies so all it took to get myself some free stickers was to say the magical sentence, "Doood, will woo take me to Wose's?" And BAM! off like a shot we'd be there and back. Me proudly parading down the hallway of our house, my little arms filled with swag, Dude chuckling at me. 

Which brings us to tonight! Now, Dude's not around anymore so I kind of have to buy my own stickers. But to be honest, buying your own stickers just isn't as much fun. Plus at the ripe old age of twenty-eight, I think my sticker collecting days are pretty much over. Tonight though- tonight was the exception. 

I hadn't seen many Lisa Frank items around anymore. Especially not the traditional Lisa Frank, the best Lisa Frank. These days little girls have to settle for lamer things like Bratz. Yeck. 

But I'll let you in on a little secret- if you want to find some Swag of Yore, git thee to thine Dollar General! (Or whatever your run of the mill, last stop on Desperation Street dollar store in your area.) And head to a back wall, that's where all the good stuff is. That's where all the Lisa Frank the loose change in your piggy bank will buy you. 

That back wall is not a depository for battered, beaten, used goods. No. That back wall is salvation! It is a shrine to our Lady of Glitter– Lisa.  

That is where I made out like a bandit. And proudly toted my Swag Bag back home. 

This is going to be a fun weekend. ;)  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Things I Love, again

Let me tell you, internet, I don't think I've ever been so tired after doing nothing. I had the day off yesterday and I celebrated by sitting on the sofa, in my pajamas, playing games. Oh yeah, the sweet life.

I'm taking the easy route again this post by doing another Things I Love, New Year's style.

  • Finally feeling confident enough to flirt a little.
  • A day of care-free shopping with Miss Lucy; perfect weather, a great bookstore, and nice scenery. (Am I right, Miss Lucy?)
  • Staying in by myself for New Year's Eve and not feeling lonely or sad.
  • Eating a lucky meal of pork chops, greens, and black-eyed peas with my parents by the pond on a simply beautiful New Year's day.
  • Finishing The Hobbit. Thorin, honey, I'm sorry I called you an @$$ (but you totally were).
  • Doing some very early spring cleaning; who knew clearing out old clothes could be so therapeutic.
  • A lazy day spent playing my favorite game. Poor Miss Lucy has already had to put up with me rabbiting on about my latest character.
  • Having a neighbor who doesn't actually live in the building.
And now it is time for tea, and killing balverines. :D

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year: Words To Live By

Happy New Year, Spatulans! A new beginning, a fresh start, a new day year!

I have my new resolutions and things to accomplish this year as, I'm sure, you have as well.

But, what about words (or a quote) to live by this year? I've been reading The Northern Clemency, by Philip Hensher (a book I recommend. It's very British and very wonderful) and one of the characters tells another character, "Start as you mean to go on." This, I've decided, will be my quote to live by for 2012.

I've also found some really great 2012 words to live by from The Doctor. Who? Oh, come on. You know.
Check them out, find some other words, and share them with us.

What words will you try to live by this new 2012?