currently // July 2013

making… the best ever chocolate chip cookies. No Crisco and they still turn out fluffy and soft. Don’t over-cook them. They get eaten really fast!

practicing… Swimming! My swim lesson came to an end, but I’ve started going to lap swim at the local public pool. I have a goal to swim 25 miles by the end of summer… that is a lot.

watching… Orange Is the New Black on Netflix. We actually already finished the full series. It is funny and poignant and complicated and weird. All of the actresses are amazing, but I especially love Kate Mulgrew (previously known as Captain Janeway).

listening to… Emeli Sandé.

looking forward to… camping this weekend! And volunteering at the Lake Placid IronMan. My friends and I are manning a water table during the run portion of the event. I’m excited! (I had such a great experience volunteering at the NYC IronMan last year.)

//

Summer is half over and I am already mourning its passing. I’ve been packing this hot season too full of fun and fitness! What have you been enjoying?

links to love // march 2013

On Fridays I often share fun, crafty links on the Swap-bot blog. I compile them all week during my Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and blog browsing. They usually follow the craft and snail mail theme, but I always include some tasty recipes, too.

But what to do with links that don’t fit into those categories? Why not share them here?! Maybe once a month, I’ll gather up some of my favorite recent links… like these!

march 2013 links to love:

Usually I recommend ignoring the Westboro Baptist Church completely, but the Planting Peace Equality House really touched my heart. The non-profit bought a house across the street from the Topeka church and painted it in rainbow colors. They will be supporting anti-bullying and equality initiatives. More info here. You can donate here and here.

Read this interview about time travel and other cool topics with a very wise man (who also happens to be one of my favorite authors).

If you like design, you must check out Stitch Design Co. Their work is too good.

My health kick continues and I have been cooking dinner at home most nights. If you need a unique and healthy dinner option, try these Healthy Delicious Chicken & Spinach Flautas. I made them last week and they take a bit of prep, but are really tasty!

Speaking of recipes, I made these Oatmeal S’more Cookies over the weekend. They are quite sweet (and don’t really fit into my low-sugar health plan) but the oatmeal cookie is very good and soft. I think they would be even better with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows mixed in and no topping.

Vampire Weekend has two new singles out. You can listen to them here. I really like Step: “Wisdom’s a gift but you’d trade it for youth. Age is an honor – it’s still not the truth.” Their new cd comes out on May 6th.

I’ve been accepted into Marathon Maniacs!! Check out my profile page.

What links have you been visiting and sharing this month?

currently // november 2012

Shut the door on November and get in line for the frantic holiday season! I am not ready. What have I been spending my time on?? Oh ya, this stuff…

hosting… the 6th annual Holiday Fun Matchbox Swap! Yes, I have been hosting this same swap for six years. Wow! Come join me in some paper crafting fun.

reading… Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York. I love reading about NYC history, but the arrogance and self-righteousness of the reformers in turn of the century NY is starting to get on my nerves.

listening to… Miguel.

obsessing over… this coat and this ring.

looking forward to… playing the Hero-U adventure game. I was happy to support the game’s Kickstarter campaign. It won’t come out for at least a year, but it looks like a lot of old-school, Sierra-style fun.

//

What is currently grabbing your attention?

This is what I was doing last November.

it’s not so bad…

I am feeling discouraged today. The internet feels especially negative lately.

Let’s see if I can scrounge up some positives…

Leftover strawberry-rhubarb pie made by my friend, Lauren
“Super Bass” by Nikki Minaj
“Antiques Roadshow” went to Eugene, OR, and found a $500,000 Norman Rockwell painting!
Tonight is the kick-off for the fall Team In Training season – and Travis is training this season!!
List me a few more in the comments…

Off topic: Should I spring for HBO so that I can watch True Blood and Game of Thrones? Or, just wait it out and get ’em on Netflix?

The White Buffalo

Travis and I continued our NY music and culture tour last night… well, we actually went to Hoboken, NJ, but I consider that almost in the city… We went to see The White Buffalo, a solo, acoustic, folk/rock n’ roll musician.

The first time Travis saw The White Buffalo it was in Eugene and he came back practically giddy about this new, opening act musician he just saw. The White Buffalo (I think his real name is Jake Smith) does have an awesomely powerful voice and a badass, western style. He is a funny guy who comes off as super laid back, cool, and talented. I really enjoyed the intimate concert at Maxwell’s.

Love Song 1 is my favorite of his songs… so far. Supposedly, he has written hundreds of songs!!

—-

Park Slope friends, go see The White Buffalo tomorrow night at Union Hall!! Tickets are only $10 and you won’t be disappointed.

Broadway

Travis and I went to see “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway yesterday and I loved it so much that I had to jot down a quick review…

Some things about me: I am not that into live theater. Live singing and acting make me really nervous, mostly because I am so incredibly terrible at both that I transfer my own fears of embarrassment onto the performers. This nervousness is basically the reason why “The Book of Mormon” was my very first Broadway show experience. Also, I am fascinated by religion, so this was the first musical that I felt I HAD to see.

“The Book of Mormon” was written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the guys behind “South Park.” It has gotten impeccable reviews. I appreciate “South Park.” It is genius and hilarious, which I love, but it is also crude and vulgar. Some of that same shock-value humor is used in “The Book of Mormon.” I think that everyone who goes to the show will be expecting it, but if you’ve never seen “South Park,” the strong language used in the musical might offend… not that it should. It is all hilarious and true. And we are all adults, right?

With the disclaimer about “adult” language out of the way, I can get on to the love fest… What a fun, happy, adorable, smart, life-affirming show!! Even Mormons are finding the show “surprisingly sweet.” It is about two Mormon missionaries who are assigned to Uganda and the challenges they face in such an unfamiliar place. It is also about how humans and religion are flawed and funny and ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to do good. We can have hope and faith in goodness, even if the details of religion are a little weird.

Parker and Stone describe “The Book of Mormon” as an “atheist love letter to religion.” That is a perfect description. I am not an atheist. I sort of consider myself pan-religious — open to all, devout to none — and “The Book of Mormon” affirmed my personal philosophies. So much so that I cried at the end. Not because the story is THAT touching, but because it felt so good to know that there are other people out there who are thinking the same things I am.

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If you want a taste of “The Book of Mormon,” you can listen to all of the songs from the show here on NPR. (Remember, I warned you about the language.)

poetry

I am still trying to figure out how I feel about being thirty… or maybe I’m just trying to be ok with time passing.

These words (from our favorite urban lyricist, naturally) are really speaking to me today:

May the best of your todays
Be the worst of your tomorrows
But we aren’t even thinking that far… know what I mean?

So we live a life like a video
When the sun is always out and you never get old
And the champagne’s always cold
And the music is always good
And the pretty girls just happen to stop by in the hood
And they hop their pretty ass up on the hood of dat pretty ass car
Without a wrinkle in today
Cause there is no tomorrow
Just some picture perfect day
To last a whole lifetime
And it never ends
Cause all we have to do is hit rewind
So let’s just stay in the moment, smoke some weed,
Drink some wine,
Reminisce talk some sh-t forever young is in your mind
Leave a mark that can’t erase neither space nor time
So when the director yells cut,
I’ll be fine,
I’m forever young…
– JayZ

spread hope like fire

lovehope

Recently, I have been reading/viewing the blog Kind Over Matter daily. It is sort of a combo of feel-good indie crafts and positive inspiration. They share hopeful illustrations and quotes multiple times a day. I really like that it is sweet and uplifting without being super-cheesy or specifically religious.

I have been wanting to post my own version of an uplifting illustration in Kind Over Matter style. While I was thinking about what I wanted it to say, the song “Secret Crowds” by Angels and Airwaves kept going through my head. It is a song I listen to often when I run and it always gets me pumped up. AVA (the band name abbreviation) is a side band created by Blink-182 guitarist, Tom DeLonge, and here is a perfectly descriptive quote from my sister-in-law, Chelsea, one of their biggest fans: “AVA is AWESOME!! They’re an amazing punk bank spreading a postive message!” Right on. (Plus, they just came out with a new album, LOVE, that you can download from their website FOR FREE! sweet.)

That is probably too much description for something that was meant to be a quick snippet of inspiration, but just listen to the song. I love how the lyrics use such urgent and aggressive words (violence and fire) to express the imperative of spreading hope and love.

spread hope like fire; spread love like violence

july stuff

To be totally honest, I have not been feeling very perky this month. I have been feeling discouraged and down on myself… not exactly fantastic blog fodder. Luckily, I have also had lots of distractions to keep me busy:

  • Dexter, Season 2 – Oh, baby! Hanging out with a sociopath serial killer is so much fun! I am actually disappointed that we finished the series because it was so suspenseful and entertaining – I really looked forward to watching it each night. It is definitely a very adult program (blood, nudity, f-word, you know, the works), but the plot twists are so insane that I actually was yelling at the tv at multiple times. Love it. Definitely recommend it. (Siidenote: Travis downloaded the whole series from iTunes and we watched it via the AppleTV. Success!)
  • The Assault – My mom sent me this book by Harry Mulisch, which is apparently THE ultimate Dutch literary classic. I didn’t realize that fact until after I completed the book and was reading online reviews. The novel is a concise, beautiful account of the effect of WWII on an ordinary, young man. The events in the story are profound, but the characters are extremely easy to relate to – and that is saying a lot because no matter how many things I learn and read about WWII it still manages to seem like a quaint, old-timey event that never feels totally real. Maybe that is disrespectful, but I don’t think it is possible for those who have only lived in the changed world to ever really know what the world-changing event was like to experience. Anyhoo, I marked a random favorite quote:

    “Time passed. His hair turned gray prematurely, but he did not grow bald like his father. As the proletariat was vanishing, the appearance of people all around him grew more proletarian, but he himself continued to wear English tweed jackets and checkered shirts with a tie. Gradually he reached the time of life when he met old people whom he had known at the age he was now. This was a strange experience. It made him look differently at both old and young, and himself as well.”

  • Black Kids – Their first album, Partie Traumatic, was just released last week and I am in love. I found them originally via The Hype Machine and was really looking forward to a full cd. So fun and talented. The lead singer’s voice totally reminds me of Robert Smith, but the music is not goth. More like dance-pop. They are my second favorite band of the year (next to Vampire Weekend).
  • Wow – Mainly just to distract myself from doing much-needed work, I started playing World of Warcraft again. They recently changed the rules so that you could get a mount at level 30. (Mounts make your character run faster.) For some reason I felt driven to finally get a mount. Don’t ask me why. I am weird. I got some sort of bird for my character to ride (see above). Ya, I think that might be as far as I get in that game…
  • New “media center” – We need a new fence, but you can’t put a 46″ flat screen tv on a fence. We opted instead for the Rhys Modular Media System from the barn. The tv stand and two bookcases miraculously fit in our living room and it looks much more classy than the old tiny tv stand we were using. The only downside is that we find ourselves with an overabundance of shelf space. There are worse problems… Oh! Have you noticed how the barn is trying to get all mid-century modern?! I will give them credit for trying to update their style, even if I don’t really love any of the new stuff. Maybe that is a good thing…

That is basically what I have been up to. That, and going to work, stressing about Swap-bot, and trying to kick my butt into gear exercise-wise. I have been extremely unmotivated lately, so I am sorry if you are disappointed. I’m just trying to hold it together.