Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seasonal Decor

'Tis the season for spending, and all that jazz. If you're looking for a handmade gift or even perhaps something snazzy for yourself, my charming and multi-talented sister has opened her very own shop on Etsy, called Seasonal Decor.

She has ornaments, candle holders, jewelry, and more, with new items added regularly. In addition to getting a one-of-a-kind piece, you will also be helping out a gal who truly loves everything that she crafts. Check out her shop for a complete list of available items. In the mean time, here are just a few examples of her handiwork:

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Love Lucy

I'm not talking about that boisterous redhead of days past (although she is quite lovable), but rather my new guinea pig! She tugged at my heart strings at the pet store, and over the past three weeks she has settled in quite nicely in the corner of my room. She enjoys squealing, running in circles, emptying her water bottle onto the floor of her cage, and chewing on the metal bars right next to the wooden chew toy. All of this is surprisingly endearing.

Here she is about a week after I brought her home, just hanging out.

Eating is another one of her favorite pastimes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Snicker's commercials are strangely polarizing. Most people I know either love them or hate them, although luckily for Snicker's I'm pretty sure the same does not go for the actual candy. In any case, I am currently in love with their bizarre, frenetic campaign that seems to be a collection of those ideas that people usually keep to themselves. I wish ad agencies were actually hiring right now, because seeing things like this really makes me want to get back to work.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster;
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

(Elizabeth Bishop)

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Stump Jump

Back in college, Thursday nights were sacred. The ritual involved a group of friends, booze, snide commentary, and Jeff Probst. In a strange turn of events, Laura and Ryan now live around the corner from me (quite literally actually) and we have decided to celebrate this happy coincidence by resurrecting Survivor night. Laura does most of the work, and I generally just show up to eat her tasty food and fight off the romantic advances from their two dogs, one of whom has a bizarre foot fetish. But, I digress.

We considered also resurrecting the Survivor drinking games of yore, but as it turns out we are just not as inclined towards alcohol consumption as we used to be. This is probably for the best. In any case, I thought the grown-up thing to do would be to replace the Bacardi shots with a nice bottle of red wine. I'm not exactly an expert at choosing wine, so it was probably sheer luck that the bottle with the name that amused me also happened to be quite tasty.

This Australian red from d'Arenberg wines cuts the spicy notes of Shiraz with a hearty dose of earthy sweetness from Grenache. Each vintage year blends the same three wines in different proportions (depending on the harvest I guess). We enjoyed The Stump Jump 2007, which was obtained for under $10. I will most definitely be stocking up on this for future drinking enjoyment.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's F-ing Quantum Mechanics

In my humble opinion, these are some f-ing awesome commercials for the Powermat. In addition to demonstrating the versatility of the English language, they fairly accurately portray the awe and wonder that accompany wireless technology. These commercials make me want to run down my batteries just so I can watch stuff charge.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Awesome Stuff

Here is a collection of awesome stuff that now belongs to me. I am one lucky duck.

They make gummy vitamins for grown-ups! I am in love with science.

This is an owl. Not a real owl, a jewelry owl.

I had one of these when I was a kid! It makes your hand all shaky and your words all wiggly.

Domo arigato Target toy department.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tales of Cincinnati: Wildlife Edition

Here is a collection of some amazing moments captured around and about Cara and Michael's home. One of my favorite elements of this journey (aside from seeing my pals again) was how peaceful their property is. They have 5 acres in the woods full of natural beauty, with a lovely pond in the back deck (previously featured in the fish feeding tutorial). In addition to their two cats, there were also a wide variety of woodland creatures wandering around for me to enjoy.

Frog hanging out on a bench before an evening swim

We roasted marshmallows and made s'mores!

Trees and such

The fish pond at twilight

Roxanne taking advantage of the midday sun

Cyrano felt left out and came to see what we were doing

I like to think of this as Roxanne's stoic pose

A momma deer came to graze right outside my bedroom window

She brought this little cutie along with her

This concludes part two of my Ohio memoirs. The last installment will feature my new favorite toddler in her many moods and hats.

Friday, September 18, 2009


A friend sent this to me a few days ago, but I didn't have the time to sit down and watch it until just now. It feels odd to say this about a YouTube video, but I was deeply moved. I just want to run out into the world and create something.

I've seen the light...

in the late afternoon, on the trees in my backyard. This was a few days ago, but it still makes me smile.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tales of Cincinnati

I'm back from Ohio, and I loved every minute of it! It was so nice to get away for a little bit, and I really enjoyed catching up with Cara and Michael and Tovina after such a long time without seeing them. Here is part one of a brief photo review of some of my Cincinnati experience:

After spending a few days in Ohio, we realized that I had yet to see much beyond their lovely home. As it turned out, Cara had not done much exploring herself, so we went down to Fountain Square (a name that continued to elude her) and took a nice long walk downtown.

We then took a drive up to Eden Park, and found a nice spot looking at Kentucky over the Ohio River.
Cara thoughtfully enjoyed the view, along with about a dozen art students who were spread out along the wall sketching. The river is nice, but I'm not sure that it would be my first choice of landscape subjects. When we returned home, Tovina schooled me in the art of feeding pond fish. Turns out you need a killer overhead throw and a penchant for making trouble.

Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


It seems everyone has the Fab Four fever today! For your viewing pleasure, my lovely and talented friend Noella has recorded a fantastic cover of a Beatles classic. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I haven't forgotten!

I promise this blog has not been abandoned in its infancy. I'm out of town visiting friends, with limited time for other stuff. Like blogging. But there is a happy thought in all of this. If my life hadn't taken the strange turn that it recently did, I wouldn't have free time, and I wouldn't be able to visit Cara and Michael and Tovina. The little whirling dervish is now 2 years old, and I haven't seen her since she was 4 months. That's a long time.

I'm on a mission to reconnect, both with people and with pastimes. With modern technology, it's so easy to keep track of people without actually keeping in touch. I know what my friends are doing, where they go on vacation, sometimes even what they ate for dinner, yet we haven't actually talked in months or years. I think it's about time I remembered who and what made me happy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I was on the fence about Batman: Arkham Asylum, until GameStop starting airing this ad:

Now, I'm totally pumped. Once I have a few bucks to spare, I'm all over it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sing me to sleep

I'm not sure if this song is exactly intended to be a "happy" thought, but for whatever reason it is for me. Every time I listen to it, I feel empowered. I've recently learned that life is more unpredictable than any of us could imagine in our wildest dreams (or nightmares), and there is some odd comfort to be found in that realization. You can't anticipate what comes next. So stop worrying about it. You'll know where you are when you arrive.

I couldn't find a music video, so here is the

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My books!

Stuck on you

My parents went to the beach last week, and as is our Ocean City tradition they returned with a giant tub of Fisher's popcorn for me. I can't quite explain why this particular caramel corn is so much more delicious than any other, but it's seriously addictive. The ingredients are straightforward: popcorn, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt. Somehow these ordinary foods combine to make a snack that I can't stop eating, even when consumption gives me a stomach ache. In a perhaps not-so-bright move, I sat the tub next to my bed while I was working last night and it is now half-gone. Yum.

Monday, August 24, 2009


A tiny little part of me wants to get into shape if only to be able to compete in silly television competitions. Like this one:

American Ninja Warrior Challenge

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My brief Swedish vacation

Went back to Ikea today to return a duvet cover that had some togetherness issues. I was refunded the $20, and then promptly spent $80 more walking through my favorite place on earth. Some people find Ikea overwhelming, but I absolutely love it. I went a little too late for lunch, so I skipped the meatballs in favor of a $1 soft pretzel. I even had enough willpower to share it with my dad. My mom joined in the fun with her own $1 cone of frozen yogurt.

I was reminded of my many trips to Ikea while living in Beijing, where the food was by far the most popular attraction. In the few years I lived there, I witnessed the construction of one of the largest Ikea stores in the world. Despite the fact that the store contained copious amounts of ridiculously cheap merchandise (due to the lack of import fees), most people lined up to grab handfuls of 1 kuai (12 cent) hotdogs. I went to raid the Swedish foodmart for pickled herring, gravlax, and vodka. But I digress.

For me, there is something calming and reassuring about walking through the Ikea warehouse. I know the order of things, how the departments flow seamlessly from one to the next. I know what products are standard, and which items are new. I even enjoy the element of controlled chaos, with the narrow aisles, children running, and the strangely wide turning radius of those utility carts. No matter what country I'm in, Ikea makes me feel at home.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm pretty sure this counts as a vegetable

There were lots of carrots just sitting in the fridge not doing anything useful. So, I turned them into a cake! It's full of carrots, which means it must be good for you.

Here's a recipe of sorts. I approximated most of the spices, so feel free to go wild!

Mix together:
2 cups sugar (or 1 cup Splenda baking blend)
2 cups flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
cinnamon (I like 2 parts cinnamon for every 1 part other spice)

1 cup oil
4 eggs
dash vanilla
lots of shredded carrot

Some people like to add nuts. I am usually one of these people, but there were no nuts to be found. I suggest walnuts.

Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. I get the baking spray with flour built in. It's handy, and there's no mess. Bake at 325 for around 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Now, leave the cake somewhere safe to cool and walk away. I find this to be the most difficult part, but it's important not to touch the cake until it's completely cool. You can busy yourself making icing while you wait!

Cream together:
8oz cream cheese (I used the reduced fat kind, and it was still delicious)
1/2 cup(ish) margarine
lots of vanilla

Add in powdered sugar until you reach the level of sweetness you prefer. For me, it usually takes around 2 cups of powdered sugar to do the trick. Don't ice the cake until you're sure it's cool, or else the icing will go all runny! If you're serving the whole thing, then feel free to ice away. Since I'm just eating this a slice (or two) at a time, I keep the icing in the fridge and apply liberally as needed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

(Mary Oliver)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I love the smell of old books

As I was placing books on my new wall of Ikea shelving, a bookmark fell out of my old copy of October Country, and I was reminded of where I bought it. It is this fantastic website that sells used books, and they have a particularly large quantity of sci-fi and pulp fiction. I have always loved science fiction, both for the stories and the cover art. There is something magical about the swirling planets, the wild clothing, even the windswept futuristic babes. I went crazy in their clearance section this afternoon, snatching up a bunch of 1970's sci-fi for around $1.50 a book. Something tells me I'll have my face smashed up against the window waiting for the mailman to arrive. The anticipation is delightful.

Looking on the bright side

I've decided to collect and share happy thoughts. There's so much negativity floating around in the world that sometimes we fail to see the little things that make the big picture come into focus. Cheesy? Probably. But, then again, what's wrong with cheesy? A smile is a smile.
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