I can’t believe it, but we actually made it to Virginia. We departed Los Angeles on Saturday morning, made a brief overnight pit stop in Nashville to visit with J’s wonderful family and get a crash-course in driving stick shift, then left on our 10.5 hour roadtrip to my hometwon yesterday morning. The drive through TN and VA was beautiful, and you could hardly notice that Julian and I had just learned how to operate a manual transmission just a handful of hours prior to taking off! Before I recount some of the highlights from yesterday, let me just say that It is SO great to be home and visit with my family for the first time in seven months. I’m currently parked at my Mom’s dining room table, watching the rain through the big glass window overlooking our backyard, and Mom is in the living room pinning the quilt she’s making me.
We’ve got four days of fun, family and food ahead of us, but here are some of the highlights from our Thanksgiving excursion so far (some of which might not make any sense to you but I’m including them anyway because, well, because I feel like it):
Our first time flying together (we watched the first half of Ben Hur – I’ve never seen it!); getting to hang with Julian’s family and meeting his sweet Grandparents; big hugs from little boys Avery, Ezra and Trevor; our very late night five hour crash course in driving stick from J’s brother Jhason and Julian’s filmmaker approach to learning to drive stick – “Did you get that on film?” (video to come soon); never quite getting the whole shifting-up-hill thing; ‘Mr. Cool Guy’ hand-in-the-pocket toothbrushing; slapping a Student Driver magnet on the back of our car; finding out it fell off somewhere between Nashville and Knoxville (drivers beware); lunch with cousin Garrett in Knoxville and a very delicious grilled veggie sub; stalling on a hill five times in front of a very patient pick-up truck drive (thank goodness we’re not in LA, I have a feeling the reaction would have been VERY different); spotting a flaming tire bouncing across the interstate (terrifying); listening to classical Christmas carols; the VA and TN scenery that I miss so much, miles & miles of rolling hills of trees with leaves clinging to the branches, rock walls on the side of the interstate, overcast skies, barns with advertisements painted on the sides of them; “I’m pretty sure that guy wasn’t wearing a shirt, just a puffy vest.”; taking pictures of Shoney’s restaurants; actually, my horrible, horrible photography skills despite using a top of the line camera (we have 500 pictures of blurry trees); screeching like a maniac in glee when I saw the sign for I-66 E; sleeping in my favorite baby blue sheets…mmm.
Parking lot director.
We’re gonna need this. Oh, and make sure you get this on film.
(I’ll do a big photo post later this week when Julian gives me access to his super-secret files)
This morning Mom made Belgian waffles and now we’re going to enjoy some nice Moroccan Mint tea before taking off to give Julian a tour of Old Towne Manassas, and then we’re heading to my Dad’s to visit with the other half of my family… whom I can’t WAIT to see and introduce Julian to!
I’ve been wanting to post this for a while but am now just getting around to it. For many years, my iPod playlist was dominated by men – mostly men in bands. Recently I’ve noticed a trend, though – women. Ladies who kick butt and deserve to be commended for their God given talents. Here’s a playlist honoring some of those ladies. Some tunes are older, some are newer, and though you might recognize names, most of these are lesser-known compared to your Beyonces and your Mariahs (though I did include Taylor Swift because, well, we all know I have a girl crush on her.) There is also one song that features a man, but because they cleaned house at the Grammy’s last year, I’m letting it slide. It’s that good.
Here is my Chicks Rule playlist! Especially enjoyable while you’re cleaning your house, painting your nails, stuck in traffic, or P.O.ed at the boy in your life. Muah!
Noisettes – Don’t Upset The Rhythm (Go Baby Go)
Adele – Best For Last
The Cardigans – In The Round
St. Vincent – Paris is Burning
Lykke Li – Little Bit (CSS Remix)
Sia – Little Black Sandals
Lenka – Trouble is a Friend
The Bird and The Bee – My Love
Bat For Lashes – Daniel
Noisettes – Never Forget You
Taylor Swift – You’re Not Sorry
Allison Krauss & Robert Plant – Rich Woman
Regina Spektor – Laughing With
Tegan & Sara – Nineteen
Yelle – Je veux te voir
The Bird and The Bee – Come As You Were
Honorable mention to the men who play in these women’s bands.
Oh my, am I ever in a frenzy. I leave on a week-long trip to Nashville and Virginia on Saturday morning, and have been driving myself up the wall with work- and home-related tasks in preparation. It’ll be worth it though, as it is not only the first time the Julian Monster will be meeting my wonderfully delicious family, but it will be the very first time I’ll have headed back to Virginia for Thanksgiving since I made my move to LA three and a half years ago! My how the time flies. I presume all the leaves will have fallen by then, but I’m excited about being in my home state during fall nonetheless.
I didn’t have a ton of time to prepare this week, so pardon me if it’s not up to your expectations… to make up for it, I promise a week of blogging updates from home – with photos, since Julian is teaching me how to use his uber-fancy camera!
THINGS I LOVE THURSDAY!
- Six month anniversary celebrations. Gigantic hot pink and red peonies. Yellow Mary Janes. Shiny gold and pink belt. My (and his) favorite perfume. Pink cards with sweet messages on them. Deeeelicious food. Banana creme pie. A Christmas Carol in 3D with jingle bells on our wrists. Fake snow. A handsome man by my side. Our six month anniversary was a dream come true, as is the rest of our time together… *blush*
- The Pioneer Woman. I can’t believe I have been living this long without The Pioneer Woman in my life. I’ve brushed elbows with her by making her apple tart (which we devoured in its entirety in a single night), but I chalked it up to just another recipe blog and that was that. Boy was I wrong! I’ve spent literally hours reading her hilarious and detailed accounts of transitioning from life as a “black heel wearing city girl” to that of the rancher wife of a cowboy in the Mid West. The woman can write, not to mention, cook. I’d say she’s after my own heart. DEFINITELY a new favorite blog of mine. The cherry on top is that she’s got a new cookbook out, something I simply MUST add to my collection.
- Irregular Choice shoes. These aren’t your average run-of-the-mill pumps and wedges. They’re colorful, wacky, and cleverly themed shoes that will make your heart go thump-thump and your wallet go empty. Not that I would actually consider wearing these (I promise), but the Miaow shoe below is an wonderful example of what you can find at this UK-based shoe shop.
- Baby Red Pandas playing… Tarantino-style. Best animals EVAR!
- Speaking on the panel for Girls in Tech LA event “The Impact of Tech on Good & Green” – and not totally bombing. I was so nervous, as it was only my second time ever speaking on a panel, but if you know me, you know I love to talk – so I had no problem babbling about using social media tools for good, and apparently I made sense! Plus, I met so many awesome women who are making a difference in the world! My fellow panelists, and moderator Siel of GreenLAGirl.com, are amazing and definitely worth checking out: Sandra at orGLAMic.com and Tracy from YourDailyThread.com.
- Hearing Julian tell Scout how much he loves her and that she is the first cat he’s ever loved. And seeing the look on her face when he’s holding her. SO cute. Buddies.
- Advance Christmas preparations. I’ve hung Christmas light on my balcony, downloaded a classical Christmas album, and already began making my Christmas gifts. A month and a half before December 25, and I’m already off to a good start for my favorite holiday!
Holy cow, I am such a dimwit. I totally spaced last week and forgot to post my wonderfully talented boyfriend’s latest masterpiece, Malk. For starters, this video is very, very funny – honest! Secondly, it features one of my furkids, Scout (she’s the one in the oven at the end.) As you’ll see, this is her first credited on-screen performance and I’m so very proud of her.
Ready to laugh your face off? K.
Before you scream “animal cruelty” let me assure you, she loved every minute of it. Scout is not your average cat. She is an in-your-face, vocal, thinks-she’s-a-dog-slash-human cat.
In summary, if you aren’t subscribing to his videos, you’re really missing out. I hereby demand you go watch every one of his videos from the last year, because you WILL laugh and you WILL be jealous of me for getting to hang out with such a cool dude everyday.
In addition to my recent classical music kick, I’m also really obsessed with Miike Snow right now, especially his song “Animal,” which I’m hearing all sorts of places. The song is creative and infectious, but the lyrics really speak to me, and I’m pretty sure it is because they are so gosh darn easy to relate to. Listen to it, you’ll love it. The video is really cool too.
There was a time when my world was filled with darkness, darkness, darkness
And I stopped dreaming now
I’m supposed to fill it up with something, something , something
In your eyes I see the eyes of somebody i knew before long long long ago
But I’m still trying to make my mind up
Am I free or am I tied up
I change shapes just to hide in this place but I’m still, I’m still an animal
Nobody knows it but me when i slip yeah i slip
I’m still an animal
There is a hole and i tried to fill up with money, money , money
But it gets bigger to your hopes is always
Running, running, running
In your eyes I see the eyes of somebody of who could be strong
Tell me if I’m wrong
And now I’m pulling your disguise up
Or you free or are you tied up
I change shapes just to hide in this place but I’m still I’m still an animal
Nobody knows it but me when I slip
I’m still an animal
I change shapes just to hide in this place
But I’m still I’m still an animal
Nobody knows it but me when I slip, yeah I slip
I’m still an animal
I change shapes just to hide in this place
But I’m still, I’m still an animal
Nobody knows it but me when i slip yeah i slip
I’m still an animal x2
Whoop whoop! Are you pumped? It’s time for another one of my lovely lists of things that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside – you know, like I just ate a huge piece of moist chocolate cake. Because maybe I did. I’ve been looking forward to this all week long… I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and that you find a few minutes today to make a list of the things that are making you happy as a clam. Can’t think of anything? How tragic. Time to make some changes?
- Classical music. First of all, I’m not a musician. Save for the year of piano lessons from the old lady with two smelly dogs and a solitary piano recital where I butchered Chopin, I’ve had minimal experience with a musical instrument. I’ve always WANTED to learn to play piano again (especially since my Dad is an incredible pianist so chances are it’s in my blood), but it’s one of those things I don’t currently have time for. The point is, I’m not sure where this came from, but sometime on Monday I decided tuning into one of those Classical music radio channels on iTunes was a splendid idea. And what do you know, it was! At first it made me feel fancy, like I needed to be having a dinner party complete with expensive china, pearl earrings and coy looks, or perhaps reading a classic novel in front of the blazing fireplace while discussing current events with my boyfriend who is smoking a cigar nearby. Then I was reminded of the smell of my grandparents car – leather seats and lipstick. Eventually the shock of “wow, I’m really listening to classical music” passed, I began to find it extreeemely relaxing and the most perfect thing to keep my creative juices flowing and my heart rate low while having a busy day at work. I’ve even managed to find the local LA classical station, 91.5, and have been listening to the radio in my car for the first time in a la-ong time. It sure helps to calm me down when idiots in Ferraris on Santa Monica Blvd think they own the road and that cutting me off is not only perfectly normal, but completely called for. Try it! See if listening to this bewitching music makes you as oozy-goozy happy as it makes me.
- This awesome gold leaf project. This tutorial outlines how to transform river rocks into a beautiful little artistic knick-knack using a few sheets of gold leaf, some double-sided sticky film and a pair of scissors, but it’s got me thinking about other things I could make (i.e., Christmas gifts?) in a similar fashion.
- Volunteering. I’m not sure what it is, but every time I volunteer – whether it be at a shelter, for a friend, or at church – I feel awesome. I’m not trying to get all goody-two-shoes on you, either. It might just be the enthusiasm in whoever it is you’re helping’s voice, or the fact that they are truly grateful and thankful to have you spare just a few hours of your time to make someone’s life easier just for a little while. My former pessimistic self used to think that the joy one feels from giving meant that it was no more than a selfish act disguised in generosity. I realize now that theory is total bunk. Giving feels good because giving is good. If I could, I would give everything up and move some place to permanently help people in need all the time. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than using your time and energy to brighten someone’s day, provide for someone less fortunate, or teach someone a useful skill. Though it is sometimes a challenge, my world always looks and feels better when I greet every person with love and every situation with a smile and a willing attitude. If you get a minute, please read these 5 Steps To Be Selfless When It’s Really Hard. I challenge you to make a shift and think of others before you think of yourself, and watch how it transforms your mood. Keep in mind – I am NOT preaching or saying that I do this all the time… God knows I have just as hard a time keeping my ego in check as anyone else.
- Mothers who quilt. I’m not sure if it’s because she has less kids at home to take care of (though more pets than she ever had kids), or if it’s just the female seamstress gene that seems to run in my family snapping into place, but my Mom has been on a serious quilting kick these past few weeks. My grandmother (her mother) is an amazing, incredible, simply wonderful quilter and clothing-maker and always has been, so it’s no wonder that seems to have passed onto my Mom, who is devouring fabric the same way she has devoured books for as long as I can remember (the woman can plow through a pile of library books in just a few days time). Her latest conquest can be seen below, but her newest project full of pastel paisley prints is going to be totally awesome, especially because she’s generously decided to gift it upon ME! I know she has great taste, and her quilts are always super comfortable and well-made, plus she’s using organic cotton and bamboo for the batting, so I know it’ll be Earth-friendly as well. I can’t WAIT to use it. Mom, I love you. Thank you!
Her most recent completed quilt.
Some of the gawjus fabrics she’s using in my quilt.
Other bits & pieces:
cats who sleep on the back of the couches cutely; upcoming road trips; tea, tea tea; black bean hummus tartines; when my boyfriend gets a new “toy” (camera equipment) and invites his friends over to play (so cute); six month anniversary celebrations (I love you, J-Monster); planning all the fabulous ways I’m going to decorate my apartment; when my Mom makes up new online acronyms (TDF = too die for); looking back at the last five years of my life not with regret but with appreciation for the lessons I’ve learned and ways I have been able to grow; libraries, even though it’s been a while since I’ve been, free books = awesome; people who care enough to ask; spontaneous chats with my Dad; quiet time; design work by Jennifer Daniels (this wallpaper for example, is awesome, though the image below hits a little too close to home.)
And I end with a quote…. have a fantastic weekend!
“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.”
I originally posted this story on the SocialVibe blog, but it is such a great campaign that I want to share it with my personal audience. The products we buy make a huge impact on manufacturing practices around the globe. Each purchase is a vote, whether you’re buying handbags, coffee, or dog food. Don’t spend recklessly, research where your money is going. Onto the post…
What kind of a handbag are you carrying? Do you know who made it? How about where it was made, or under what conditions? Invisible Children launched a new program today called MEND and we are kind of in love with it.
MEND isn’t just a place where you can buy unique and handcrafted handbags, but where you can also watch videos of and read stories about the person who made that very bag. Take for example, this video about Monica, who loves to dance, has a talent for making people laugh, and oh yeah, is a former child soldier.
Monica is just one of many of the creative handbag makers that you can learn about through MEND. All of the handbag makers are are former child soldiers, victims and survivors of the 20 year war in Uganda.
Or at least that’s what one, maybe two fashion designers think. Last months, dog lovers around the world got straight showed up as famed designer Miuccia Prada debuted some meow-tastic pieces in a runway show for the 2010 Miu Miu collection. Sure they’re hideous. Sure I wouldn’t touch those high-button collared pieces with a ten-foot pole. But the point is: THERE ARE CATS, ALL.OVER.THOSE.CLOTHES.
and if you know me, then you know – cats are, well, kinda my thang. Long live felines! Woof!
The only thing that would make that better is if they were walking cats on leashes down the runway. But I believe that could be considered animal cruelty and I ain’t down wit dat.
Can’t forget this white Azzaro dress, which I understand was quite a hit, also embroidered with a cat.
I feel like that warrants a quick blog post, don’t you?
Back in my early blogging days when I was an uber geek posting on LiveJournal daily and modding communities, I was a survey/list fiend. Whatever I was “tagged” in, you could be sure I was reposting. I guess I’m feeling like reliving those days, because I can’t help myself from participating in this little “10 Things That Keep Me Up At Night” meme that Amy (who I conveniently met on LJ) just posted on her blog, Rainy Saturday.
Lord knows there is plenty that can keep me up at night, though not many things that can get me out of bed in the morning. What can I say, I like to sleep. Just hope you’re never the one that has to wake me up… I give Oscar the Grouch a run for his money.
Onto the evil things that prohibit me from catching zzzzs:
1. Nightmares. You know, I don’t really have that many nightmares (though I do dream a LOT, and really like to tell people “I had a dream last night ____” – people usually don’t care, can’t really understand why, I think my dreams are pretty interesting) – hello run on sentence! K so, I don’t have that many nightmares but when I do, I’m up. For example, when I saw the horror flick Saw for the first time, I couldn’t sleep for a month, I was convinced Jigsaw was on my balcony ready to come at me with a pighead and a drill. I did have a pretty terrifying dream the other night and it was awful. I also have a problem with that half-awake half-asleep still-dreaming thing.
2. Scout. This should really be number one because she is by far the one thing that keeps me up more than anything else (reference this post, for example.) She can be cute as pie but is a real terror when you’re trying to sleep and she is hungry/bored/lonely/wants the faucet turned on/breathing. She is very smart, she’ll knock things off my bedside table to wake me up, too, which is why I have about 3 water glasses left unbroken. She also knows that by pushing it with her paw a little, I’ll jump up and then she’ll stop pushing, jump off, and run the direction she wants me to go. Scout also really enjoys pawing at the windows, clawing at my dresser, or if I lock her out of the bedroom, clawing at the bottom of my bedroom door. I frequently find wood chips and paint flecks on the ground. Let’s just take this moment to appreciate having hardwood floors, because when I lived in homes with carpet, the little brat would fully tear a hole through the carpet if I locked her out. But seriously – if you met her, you’d love her. She’s evil like that.
3. Prayers. I really don’t pray enough, mostly when I’m in the shower in the morning or when I’m walking down the long hallway at work, praying for patience with something or energy to get through the day, or today or example when I was praying for that poor kid who was set on fire down in Florida over a stolen bicycle. I happen to remember to pray as I’m falling asleep, when I run down my list of “things” that I want or need… mostly other people who I’m praying protection for. Anyway, this isn’t a bad thing, but it does keep me up at night. I’ve also been known to wake up in the middle of the night and start praying.
4. Work. Is this on everyone’s list? Give me the name and number of the person who isn’t kept up by work problems at night, because I’d like to hire them as my life counselor. I would pay money to be able to flip the switch and forget about things happening at the office, but alas, I am usually up too early or too late thinking of story ideas or projects that we should be focusing more on.
5. Money. Do I have enough this month? Am I saving enough for the future? Crap, I just remembered I need to order new contact lenses this month. Will I have enough to buy ____ a birthday present? That reminds me, ____’s birthday is next month so I should budget for that. I wonder what kind of a hit my 401k took this month. I really should get rid of my cable to save some money. I could just sell my car. Should I ask for a raise? Do I deserve the money I make? These are all questions/thoughts that I have, really any time of day, but quite often when I’m laying in bed at night.
6. Reading. Ok, if you know me at all you know reading is pretty much my favorite thing to do, aside from talking that is (and if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting me IRL, well let’s just say – I LOVE TO TALK.) I have a stack of books the size of my car that I still need to read, but between work, errands, cooking, cleaning and spending time with the BF, I hardly have any time to read. So the only time I read is on the weekends or in bed before sleeping. Most of the time, reading can help me fall asleep, but if I’m really into the book, it is not uncommon for me to stay up until midnight, 1am or even 2am reading. This is kind of embarrassing to admit but the night I read Twilight I stayed up ALL NIGHT reading it. Yes, teen vampires. I should be publicly shamed for that.
7. TV. I hardly have time to do things I enjoy (reading) much less “filler” activities like TV. I have a DVR so I usually watch episodes of shows I like weeks after they’ve aired, all in a row, marathon-style. This sometimes stretches into the wee hours of the night. Plus, if I can’t fall asleep at night I sometimes come out and watch shows because I refuse to lay in bed awake for more than 30 minutes… it’s not healthy!
8. Family & Friends. It’s super hard being so far away from my family, who live in Virginia, plus I have a GINORMOUS family (four parents, five siblings, six grandparents, countless aunts, uncles & cousins) and then of course, there are my friends, both in LA and back home. I always feel like I’m not keeping well enough in touch and that because I’m so busy out here with my own life I’m being a really crummy sister/daughter/granddaughter/friend. This is why I texted my brother at the crack of dawn the other morning, because I felt so much time had gone by without talking that I just couldn’t waste another moment having him thinking I don’t care. Still haven’t figured out how to manage having a life, a relationship, a job, and a big family all at once.
9. Twitter/Internet. Ah yes, really this should be higher on the list. I, like many, use my iPhone as an alarm in the morning (I really do enjoy that Belltower ring… so lovely), so the phone is right next to me as I’m falling asleep. This makes it WAY too easy to make a last minute check on my e-mail or on Twitter to see if anyone @ replied me. Because you know, that is oh-so-important. I mean, it’s Twitter! They wouldn’t possibly call me if they had an urgent message to deliver. I’ve spent way too many hours scrolling through my follow list to see what everyone is doing/reading etc. What a true waste of time.
10. Julian. Once again, not a complaint… as there is nothing else I’d rather be doing than spending time with the person I love more than anything else in the world. But this is a man who needs very little sleep and frequently stays up very late and wakes up very early with no problem at all. I, on the other hand, need at least 8 hours of sleep at night or I’m a wreck. Me = infant. Him = teenager.
Now that I’ve whined enough to last me an entire week, I think I’ll stop. I really shouldn’t complain, as I usually haven’t got that much of a problem staying awake. If I ever do have problems getting sleepy, my Traditional Medicinals Organic Lavender Chamomile Tea usually does the trick. That stuff is redonkulous, you just have to try it!
What keeps you up at night? Repost on your own blog and leave a link in the comments, suckers!