Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feel the Burn


This hand, my friends.

This hand belongs to an incredibly talented person.


It belongs to the only person who could manage to get a nasty sunburn in the middle of freaking February.

How's that for talent?

So remember our idyllic happy-fun-friend-times-walk from Sunday?

Do you remember how I didn't put on sunscreen before I left, because it was February? How it simply didn't occur to me, since even though it was sunny it was only 65 or so degrees outside? How merrily I went on my way, chatting with friends, drinking coffee, having a good time with the dog, all that good stuff?

How I came home with a new shirt (the yellow shirt I'm wearing in this picture, actually) after "just browsing" in Sunrift Adventures for all of ten minutes?

Do you remember that, my dear readers?

I do.



And now I know it was a terrible mistake.

I will never forget sunscreen again.

(I say, for the fifteenth time.)

I am just ill-equipped for South Carolina. Two and a half years after we moved here, and I still can't quite get the hang of sunscreen in the winter. It just... it just shouldn't be! I've never gotten a sunburn in the winter in my life before we moved here.

I was talking to Jason about the sunburn the other day, that and the two days of rain and gray and dreary we had before the sun came back, and I asked him, "Why did we move to South Carolina again?"

He looked at me and replied, "Call your mom. Ask her what the temperature is in Illinois today."

Question answered.


I am the moisturizer queen right now. Twenty minutes after I put my morning stuff on, I already feel like my skin is cracking and painful thanks to this stupid sunburn.

However, I have found an incredibly temporary cure. Well, not cure. A panacea.


This.

This cost me 99 cents in the travel bin at Walmart a month-ish ago. I bought it to put on my hands, since the dryness at work makes them crack and dry out really quickly.

Turns out?

Also really good for sunburn. Or at least good for making me feel it less. It's the only moisturizer (out of something like fifteen I have lurking around my house; I am a failed-moisturizer hoarder) that has actually helped in any way.

It is my new best friend. I am going to buy it a birthday present.

(Or, well, no I'm not. I might buy the cat Christmas presents? But I haven't yet hit the 'the stuff I buy presents for isn't even animate' stage yet.)

Also, part 1 of my birthday present arrived!


I mentioned oil & wax in one of my list of pretties off of etsy, but I had already ordered from them at the time.

I actually have three candles by Rachel now; Simply Lavender, Lavender Cucumber & Sage, and now Twigs & Berries. I had ordered Twigs & Berries, but through somewhat of a mistake in shipping, I own all three.

They all smell amazing. The LC&S smell is the perfect clean-kitchen smell, and the Lavender is probably perfect for the bath. Twigs & Berries I'm leaving in the living room. They're soy candles and they come in these glass jars (or a tumbler, above) that you can clean out and re-use once the candle has burned as much as it can.

Have I mentioned I also hoard candles?

God forbid the power go out and I have to light more than one at a time.

When it happens? Our house smells like eight fields of wildflowers all got together and had a mosh pit.

Unscented candles are for the weak.

I am strong like bear!

And also burned in uneven patches of red like South Carolina dirt.

I'm going to go stare at myself in the mirror and wince now.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sleepy Puppy


This is what our dog is doing right now. Indy is just crashed out completely.

It's gorgeous outside; in the perfect middle-to-high sixties. T-shirt weather, and sunny, just the occasional fluffy cloud. Every time it rains for five days straight, I remind myself  that the fact that days like today happen in February in South Carolina really make up for all that wet.

While I haven't felt social at all all weekend, I had made plans with a friend of mine for this morning and it was way too gorgeous a day to sit in my house and be a grump. I could manage that during the last two days of constant gray drizzle, where my mood at least kind of matched the weather, but today?

Today, I felt the need to see if some sunshine couldn't knock me out of my grouching.

We took Indy, drove up to Travelers' Rest, just to the northern edge of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, parked the car and then walked back in to Sunrift Adventures' parking lot, where we met up with the aforementioned friend Lauren (go! Read her blog and then leave comments so she'll blog more because she's le awesome!), her husband Cory, our buddy Sirch, and wherein the dog tried to jump on all of them at once.

We walked back up the parking area our car was in, back into town to the Forest Coffeehouse where we ended up stopping for lunch (and an awesome Snow Leopard Latte - macadamia nut, white chocolate, and caramel flavors? Ooooh I am in for that, my friends. How I am in for that.)

Cory and Jason had burgers, Lauren and I had red pepper soup and a grilled-cheese sandwich combo, Sirch had a smoothie because he'd eaten just before the walk.

We wandered back over to Sunrift so Cory, Lauren, and Sirch could grab their bikes to continue their ride over to Furman, and Jason and I would split off, walk back to our car and head home. Lauren and I decided to... you know... just peek into Sunrift first. Just see what they have for sale. You know, no biggie.

Lauren walked out with a new pair of socks, I walked out with a new shirt.

Because we are weak, weak people.

Indy was really dragging by the time we got back to the parking area. He walked more today than he ever has before, and he was pretty much completely pooped. The very first he did when we got home was curl up on the couch and go to sleep, and he hasn't moved since.


The cat is also out enjoying the day. We opened the back door when we came home and she's been popping in and out. She naps outside for a while, decides that's getting boring and comes inside and naps there.

Hers is a thrilling, dramatic life.

Also, there's a new distillery that's going to open soon in TR called Copperhead Mountain. I am intrigued. Between that and Quest Brewing opening soon in Greenville (their stuff is already starting to pop up at local beer events and places like Barley's), my love for all things Dark Corner, and Thomas Creek already being a staple beer for us, it looks like I can just drink locally made alcohol in perfect happiness for the rest of my life.

Awesome.

And no, we never did get any house painting done. We decided to go enjoy the sunshine instead.

Darn it.

We're bad at being adults, aren't we?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reasons I'm Not a Fashion Blogger #59565354


And yet I just keep posting outfits.

This is actually from Thursday, but it seems cheerful and spring-ish. Or at least as close as I'm gonna get in February when it's still cold outside in the mornings.


Tonight, the plan is to get the trim in our living room wiped completely clean and then taped off with painter's tape, because tomorrow we are going to paint the rest of the walls or die trying.

Well, not really the last part.

I'm willing to go with, "paint the walls or be slightly annoyed and inconvenienced later when we have to do it anyway."


I just like these shoes. Clearance shopping on target's website has yielded some really good finds.

Cardigan, shirt, and shoes: Target. Khakis: I have no idea, they are ridiculously old. Bag: Came for free with a magazine subscription. Horse pendant necklace: Fiore Boutique Long necklace: No idea, my grandmother gave it to me out of her jewelry box a few years ago. Thanks, Grandma Swearingen!

So... this is pretty much where I stand on "florals". Although normally I wear it with jeans instead of khakis and my yellow moccasins. But that's mostly because I live in blue jeans. And also I felt like if every outfit that shows up here involves moccasins, you might get the idea that they're all I wear.

And that's not true.

Occasionally, I wear something else. Very occasionally.

The shirt is actually really pretty; it's more a boatneck than it looks like under this cardigan, with slightly gathered sleeves that have ties that you tie in a bow, and then a banded bottom hem.

So there you go; today's edition of Insanely Colorful Tomboy Clothes.

I hope you enjoyed it.

I'll try to come up with some kind of amusing anecdote about my life, I promise.

Wait! I think I have a photo of my dog somewhere! You haven't seen enough of those yet, right?

Right?

There.
Problem solved.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Small Town Thoughts

(I actually wrote this Thursday morning, but I figured you could do without me spamming you twice daily on a Thursday two weeks in a row. So I hope it serves well enough for a Friday post.)

I think growing up in a small town makes it hard to grasp the good side of change.

Obviously this probably isn't true across the board for every single person who ever grew up in a little town. But I know it seems to hold true for me, and the people I know. It's not just Illinois, either; people I know all over the country run into this mental block when it comes to change.

Maybe growing up in cities helps you appreciate it; after all, in a city businesses come and go quickly from this building or that one. Parks are maintained, with new landscape or gazebos or dog parks, new sculptures put in where nothing but grass used to be. So many people live in apartments, things that are by their nature subject to transience and change; your neighbors come and go, the building gets new office or maintenance people, a new parking lot or the occasional remodel.

People who grew up in Greenville, for example, have watched downtown go from a somewhat disreputable neighborhood in the 1980's to the thriving shopping, dining, and hangout space it is today. They watched Reedy Falls, essentially brought back out from previously having been basically under a highway, turn into a tourist destination.

They've seen coffee shops, restaurants, and stores pop in and out as they work or they don't, but overall the trend has been one of constant change. Sometimes it's positive, sometimes there are articles in the newspaper about the way a certain area of town has gone so far downhill from where it used to be.

In the city closest to the little town I grew up in, we've watched in my lifetime one indoor mall go from the place everyone wanted to be, to an empty shell where voices echoed into nothing, to a higher-end outdoor shopping space while the other mall went from a tiny upstart to the busiest mall in town. Their downtown has also been worked on, towards an end goal of revitalization.

In the country, though? In small towns?

In the country, we feel a dull surprise years after the change occurs. When I was younger, there was a grain elevator that had always been down by the railroad tracks that was knocked down, leaving a flat concrete nothing in its place. When I walk or drive past it, I am still struck by a sense of that space being wrong. The grain elevator should be there, in my mind, even though it hasn't been there in years.

They closed my old elementary school, busing the kids to the next town over. The lack of school buses bothers me. That it was turned into a daycare has helped, because at least the kids are still outside. That has to count for something.

We still give people directions by saying, "Turn left after you get to where the Smiths used to live," and the locals asking for those directions know exactly what house we mean. New people might get confused, but then you just try to think of people they do know, maybe have them turn right after where the new Yoder house is.

I've heard people say that this is completely puzzling to them, why anyone would ever give directions this way, but you have to keep in mind that sometimes we are directing people to house on a road that has no road name, only numbers. The easiest way to tell them where it is, is to use a landmark as an example. I won't lie; I've told people to turn "after the tree that looks like an hourglass" when explaining how to get to my grandparents' house once upon a time.

When change is suggested, it is dismay that small town folk respond with, not enthusiasm. Common sense may dictate that the small fall festival that worked the same way for years and years is beginning to lose attendance, and what we've always done isn't working anymore. Nonetheless, it will take far too long before the people involved can even begin to agree to consider changing direction, let alone actually try to come up with new ideas.

Often, by that time, the festival is dying and it will take four times as much work to bring it back than it would have if people had been receptive to the change just a few years earlier.

New buildings get much the same suspicion. New parks or new public buildings or benches in those parks do, too. We small town people are masters of having two thoughts at once; we can both know perfectly well that things must change and at the same time be unhappy with the idea that they actually will.

Sure, the fact that no one visits that park in the center of town means that we need to fix it up, make it nice. At the same time, why should they change it? It was fine for us when we were there, right? It's our memories they're removing.

Well, no, that's not true. Our memories are still there. Only the terrain changes, and change is an inevitability when it comes to piquing the interest of visitors. People like to see new things; they just don't any of those new things to have to do with what they were used to. So we try to balance, when we build new things; we put in a park, but fix up an old soda shop around the edge as a new public building.

What has me thinking about this today was mostly thinking about that old grain elevator. I like to go for walks around McLean every time I visit, to see what's different. Houses change paint or siding colors, fields are soybean and then corn and now back to soybeans again, some houses get knocked down entirely and replaced with new ones. For the most part, though, it's still the same. And every single walk, every single drive by, every single time I see that flat gravel-strewn nothing, it strikes me as not right.

Because my brain still wants to see that old grain elevator, and fights against its absence.

I bet I'm not the only one, either.

Maybe it's something city people fall prey to, as well? But I don't think so. The people I know and meet from cities (or even just larger towns) just accept new stores where old ones used to be so much more easily, with a shrug and an understanding that that's just the way the world is.

I feel like when you grow up in a small town, it takes some effort to see that staying the same can so easily become stagnating. It's slowly removing carbon dioxide from a room until none is left; once it all leaks out, the plants in the corner will die.

We spend so much time leaning on the way we remember things used to be, that it's hard to see what good can come out of starting over with something new. I moved halfway across the country to a new town, and spent my time full of terror that it wouldn't work, because it was too different. I didn't really think we would fail at what we were about to do; I just had no frame of reference for the life I was preparing to live. Sure, it's not like I was moving to New York City or anything, but this is still wildly different for me.

Listen to me rhapsodize about the wonder of delivery food sometime, and you'll understand.

I'd never lived in a city before. I had spent my entire life in the same house.  We drove half an hour to get groceries.

I had been proud of myself for moving four hours away for college, and even then the landscape was still really the same.I still had my flatlands and my cornfields.

I had no friends of my own in Greenville before the move, and thanks to my constant certainty that I'm not good enough, I had a hard time believing I could find friendships to maintain, that anyone would like me enough to want to spend time with me voluntarily. I had a hard time seeing the change I was about to undertake as something I could handle; and then we were there, and I had to figure it out anyway.

This fear of change is something that I often have to work through, because my instinctive reaction is to be nonplussed or worried at even the smaller things, like when a store leaves one location and moves somewhere else. Is it because the store is in trouble? Are they failing? Is the new store moving in going to be something awful? But I liked that store where it was! Why are they changing that park? It was a good park! Should we really buy a house? We just figured out apartment living! What if the change isn't good? What if it goes wrong?

The question really is, what if it's not the same as what I know?

Well, it might not be. It almost certainly won't be, in many cases. Change is good, or it's bad, or it's neither. It's just... change, and it has to happen, or our towns, our cities, our worldviews stagnate. You get trapped in a cocoon of "what I already know" and find it harder to open up and see "what I don't know" as "what I don't know, yet."

I have found the choices that were "what I don't know, yet" to be the most important things I've ever done.

So... yeah.

In retrospect, though, the grain elevator is a really bad example, since what's been left since it was removed is nothing. A couple of rocks, maybe. So that's not really in any remote way an improvement.

... maybe we should forget the grain elevator. Even though that's the entire reason I wrote the whole post, just because I was thinking about that elevator.

Hmm.

Can I start over?

With... a coffee shop, or something? I'm better if the subject is in some way related to coffee.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Because I am Boring, Have Some Pretties

My life this week has consisted entirely of work, reading, writing, and other things that are not particularly entertaining to talk about on the internet.

Although last week when I said my week hadn't been particularly exciting, it got interesting pretty fast, in a less than fun way.

So cross your fingers I haven't spoken too soon yet again.

I have no amusing anecdotes for you. The dog remains cute, the cat remains vaguely cranky, and Jason and I remain sickeningly sweet when around one another.

You probably don't want to read that.

So, to save your eyes and your brains, here are some random pretties I found on etsy.


Adorable red panda art print by wintersmoke. Go look at Mark's other animal drawings. They are all cute in a way that makes all those kitten pictures on the internet seem like moss on a rock.




This leather bracelet from experimetal. She's got some gorgeous earrings, too. I don't have pierced ears, as needles and I have never quite come to much of an understanding, but I still think earrings are pretty to look at.

On other people.



Neat necklace from Tom Bjorn Designs. There are about twenty thousand necklaces in this shop I am quickly falling in love with. Or, you know, five. Those numbers are interchangeable in a brain that counts in forms of "1, 2, many" right?



Raccoon dog collar. StinkyandSweetpea has a ton of collar designs, my current reigning favorite being this dinosaur bones one.

We are waiting until we know Indy's grown-up size before we invest in any higher-cost collars or harnesses, but I'm keeping an eye on this shop until then.



Tiny baby booties; these are by definition the cutest things that have ever existed. I mean, how do you fight tiny baby shoes? You can't. The baby shoes will always win.

robedellarobi has bonnets, too. Bonnets. 

Bonnets, people.



I look at this and I think, "You know, maybe I do need more mugs."

And somewhere, Jason begins to panic and doesn't know why.


Okay, now, this ring is gorgeous. Wood and antler bone ring with a turquoise inlay. That is a thing of beauty.



Vanilla Hazelnut soy candle from Oil and Wax. I actually just bought a candle from Oil and Wax, so I'm not altogether unbiased as far as how cool they are. Mine was Twigs and Berries.

Rachel's got quite a few neat scents; Mediterranean Fig is catching my eye pretty heavily right now. I squint at it, and I dream. Or plot.

Whichever is less evil.



We'll end with this, because a fish in a hot air balloon seems like the best place for me to stop.

This is a print from Felt Mountain Studios. I started reading Stephanie Bertenshaw's blog a few months back, and kind of got hooked. I won't lie on this one, either; I've just bought two of her prints for our kitchen. Although not the one above, even if now I want that one too, heh.

Her shop is a dangerous place; happy fun bright things to put everywhere in your house. I pretty much want the whole shop.

... somewhere, Jason panics.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

For a Fleeting, Wonderful Time... All Was Snow

 
Or, well, there was some snow at least.

Clearly, I was pretty happy to see it. For a while it felt like a real Illinois February, even, to me. Cold enough and wet enough to suck the warmth right out of you while you smile.

There's a charm to that, when you don't get to experience it any more.

The charm fades quickly.


Snow of any particular stickiness is worth documenting, even as close to the mountains as I am on a regular basis. Even when it falls, it melts immediately. The ground is just too warm. This time, though, for brief shining minutes, the snow stuck.


There was much rejoicing and snow in my hair.

It melted after about an hour (and took a little longer to melt in some places, apparently), but while it was there, it was wonderful.

Tonight, I am relaxing out some of the stress in my back and shoulders and birthday shopping on etsy. Or, well, I was. I have shopped myself all out. I was given the instruction to buy a couple of prints for our walls, too, which means I really feel like I've both accomplished something useful (print-buying) and bought myself something frivolous (a candle and a T-shirt) to celebrate the entirely unremarkable birthday I'm about to have.

I feel like I should celebrate my birthdays while I can, though. Soon-ish, whenever the urge to start having kids I have been infected with thanks to pregnant friends and my mama sister and mama friends and their awesome kids (thanks, Jo, Sherrie, Sarah, and Christina; you gave me baby rabies) there will be children, whose birthdays are expensive and tend to make parents forget to celebrate their own.

Well, here is my toast to myself, made with a mug of hot tea and fingers crossed:

May I always have something beautiful just for me on March 6.











(Just wait; in five years I'll be telling everyone "My kids are what's beautiful just for me!" while explaining why I'm still wearing the same yoga pants I wore yesterday and haven't combed my hair. Just wait. Anyone want to take a bet?)

Friday, February 15, 2013

In 19 Days, I Will be 27


This causes me some worry, as I am still having some trouble figuring out just how I became 26 in the first place. Does that seem odd to anyone else?

Nobody?

Bueller?

Fair enough.

Here is what I did today; I worked, I played fetch with the dog, I caught the dog digging, I made the dog do tricks, I am re-reading one of my favorite book series, I wrote three pages of something entirely unrelated to anything else I've been trying to work on because my brain hates me, I drank hot chocolate from a mix I made with my family over Christmas break.

Truly, mine is a thrilling life.

I'm going to go hang out on the couch with Jason and drink more hot chocolate. And watch old episodes of South Park on Netflix, because I am classy.

In return for you patiently reading this, I have a gift for you:


This is the dog, flush with victory. That toy in his mouth used to have a duck's head and a tail. Now it is just a dismembered canvas torso with sad little ragged wings.

Even those, I think, won't last him much longer.

Poor dismembered canvas duck torso.

In other news, you should all read as much as possible about the meteor over Russia. And keep in mind things like this happen more often than we really think about.

And then you should go give money to NASA.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Freaking Valentine's Day

You want to know something funny? I had a second post all set up. As soon as I posted the other one, I felt like my lack of Valentine's Day cheer was failing you guys. 

I had gone through my roll of blogs I read for the morning. They are full of chirping, syrupy wishes for Valentine's Day. Bloggers are wearing hearts on their sleeves, quite literally, or on their knees or their shirts or in the color of their red velvet pancakes. They have lined up their pinks and reds together for a special V-Day post of their favorite Valentine's-y things.

Those who aren't wearing hearts are still ensuring they wear some bright and happy red for the occasion. Nice, dressy clothing, or they are talking about their date nights they have planned with their significant others.

Meanwhile, I was at the time still wearing my pajamas. At 9:30 AM.

I'd had one cup of coffee, which I can certainly tell you does not in any way make me chirpy. Although it does make me less snarly.

Then I discovered around 10:15, as I was getting dressed for work, that I had missed several calls, mostly from a number I didn't know, a couple from my mother-in-law. Jason was in a minor car accident this morning; no injuries. He was rear-ended by a guy, which forced him to smush into the back of another guy. This had happened around 7:45 in the morning. Since he didn't have his cell phone with him, he borrowed the phone of one of the guys involved. I was called several times. I did not get those calls, because I keep my volume off at work and tend to forget to turn it back on at night.

So, while I will tell you right here and now that Jason's voicemail assured me he was just fine and had even gone to work, I proceeded to freak completely out.

First, I called the mysterious number, wherein the guy whose phone Jason had borrowed answered, happily and helpfully let me know some details of the situation, and told me he was sure Jason had made it to work by now and wished me a Happy Valentine's Day.

Then, I called my mother-in-law, whose calls it turns out were completely unrelated. In a shining moment of the women in Jason's life showing solidarity in our neuroses, she had the exact same need I did to go over there and see his face after having heard he was in an accident. Even knowing he was okay. She even gave me a call after she'd spoken to him to let me know about having seen his totally-completely-and-entirely-okay face. 

I ended up taking the day off work so I could have the time to deal with all the Happy Fun Car Insurance Funtimes (which took a whole lot longer than I had thought they would, honestly), and also because I was a mess for an hour or so, and then fine for a while, and then a mess again for an hour or so, and then fine again. Which I was completely aware was going to happen (this ain't my first anxiety-rodeo) and felt absolutely no need to inflict on either my coworkers or any visitors.

Thank God for sick leave to spare my coworkers what I'm like after realizing that there was almost three hours of time in which Jason could have been seriously injured and frantically trying to get ahold of me while I squinted at Facebook, oblivious. In which I could have been missing calls from police or ambulance people and not him.

I mean, I have nightmares about that scenario.

So... right.

'Cranky' does not even begin to cover it. Really, if I could have dug a hole in the backyard and just spent the whole day in there, that probably would have been better for everyone involved.

In any case, due to my guilt over not giving anyone a nice Valentine's Day post to read, I went out just after the original post this morning with the camera and tried to find something before the frost all melted with the sun.

So...



Here's a heart I found for you.

Happy freaking Valentine's Day.

Well, then.

Obviously I haven't been much for blogging this week. I could say that we've simply been too busy, and that would be true for specific times, but not really across the board.

Mostly, just haven't felt much like it.

This week:

1. Indy got his final puppy booster, which made him feel gross. He spent part of the afternoon lazing around staring sadly at me.

2. I forgot to come home for lunch on Tuesday - Jason spent last week home from work, so he was taking care of him and when we started the new week it just... slipped my mind. I raced home at the end of the day as fast as I could, to find Indy perfectly fine (and dry!), but anxious and surrounded by puffballs of the stuffing from the inside of two of his toys.

3. He did not eat that stuffing. We are calling this good.

4. Jason has a new job! I've been holding off on telling anyone. I wasn't exactly sworn to secrecy, but it was suggested I wait until he'd actually started said job to tell anyone. He escaped from the Boss of Comically Villainous Proportions and is now working elsewhere. This is very exciting.

5. We are very excited.

6. Indy is very much a puppy teenager. He is... testing me. But he's still adorable, so it all evens out.

7. The cat's pretty cool, too.

8. I have so many paint chips it's... terrifying. I've basically planned out every room in the house except the guest bedroom and the spare room. Now we just need to get the motivation to get back to work on painting!

9. The dog makes adorable snuffle-noises in his sleep. Currently, he is hunting something in his dreams. I hope not the cat.

10. This may be the only blog post this week, unless I rock something out tomorrow or Saturday. I may just take my weekend break a touch early. You never know with me, though. I may wear or do or say something ridiculous enough that I feel the whole wide internet needs to be aware of it.

11. I don't have anything for this line. I just didn't want to stop at 10.

Friday, February 8, 2013

5 Things - Kings and Cats Edition


1. You've probably seen this on CNN, the BBC, or any number of other news stations... but I still think it needs to be mentioned! They've found King Richard the III's bones underneath a parking lot in Leicester!

Richard is essentially famous for villainy; he is widely believed to have murdered his two nephews, the original heirs to the throne, after having them named illegitimate and then thrown into the Tower of London. (Although there's some discussion here as to whether or not Henry VII, who overthrew Richard on an exceedingly thin claim to the throne and who almost certainly would have faced serious opposition from those backing the twins, had something to do with it.) Shakespeare described him as a hunchback'd, ambitious gargoyle of a person, the kind of man who dogs bark at in fear and rage when he passes. He murders with impunity, and truly Henry VII was a golden shining saint who came to set England free of his tyranny.

Turns out Richard did have him a touch of the scoliosis. That's... that's about as accurate as Shakespeare got. Which makes sense, if you recall that Shakespeare was writing in the hopes of catching royal favor at a time when Henry VII's granddaughter Elizabeth was on the throne of England.

While Richard wasn't a great king, he wasn't the first and he wasn't the last to ensure that those who stood in his way were... displaced.

Part of the reason I think this is really neat and deserves to be on this list is because they were able to confirm his identity by matching his mitochondrial DNA directly with descendants of his. mDNA is the light of my life, I tell you internet.

I promise eventually I will stop putting bodies on this list. But they keep being so cool!




2. This painting by Ramona Gregory from her shop elementerra over at etsy. She also does ceramics, but I think her paintings are where she really shines. Although that's probably more to do with my brain's odd stall-out when it comes to really appreciating 3D work.

"Treehouse", above, is my favorite. I don't know. I am a fan of greens and browns and blues and all those things make me happy. I am not the biggest fan in the world of abstract art, but when art is both figurative (those are clearly trees and a treehouse) and also a little bit abstracted rather than realistic, I can really enjoy that.

Other things of hers I like? This print of another painting of hers, this mug, and this pretty desert-colored piece.




3. Read this blog. This is Books of Adam, a blog updated occasionally by one of the funniest guys I've never met. The image above is from this particular entry, which had me laughing hard enough to make my side hurt and cringing in second-hand disgust on his behalf the whole time.

Adam lived in Portland, OR for a long time and pretty recently moved to NYC. He's got a good hand for drawing (his drawings of photos that people send in to him are incredible) and a great, funny voice.

Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeead it.

Go on.

I'll wait.



4. This messenger bag, from kormargeux on etsy. I know, I find everything on etsy these days. In my defense, it's more like discovering thousands upon thousands of individual shop sites. They just get lumped together under etsy's wonderful umbrella.

How pretty is this color? This is basically my favorite shade of orange. I wear it all the time and the only sad thing about it is that I don't feel like there is ever enough. Oh sure, there's plenty of orange-y stuff that comes out in the fall, but it's not usually designed with gigantic fashion-knowledgeable tomboys in mind. So you see my problem.

Other purses on etsy I am loving right now; this yellow tote, this printed one, and this small cross-body covered in leaves of my current favorite colors.



5. This photo, from National Geographic Ranger Diaries.

I mean, come on. Look at this guy, just relaxin'.

It comes from Steve Boyes' "Top 25 Photos of the Wilderness #1", an occasionally somewhat big-cat heavy selection of neat photographs. There's some big cats chasing down a rhino, a honey badger casually going to town on a python, cheetahs, a baby lion cub that is probably the cutest thing in the whole world, hummingbirds, an African wild cat that looks like it could have stepped out of any alleyway in the United States... there's rather a lot of neat photos here.

Definitely good to check out. I've lost whole days to the National Geographic website and its photographs.

And articles on archeology.

And also on geology.

Oh, and there was that really cool one about the Mayan temple...

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Wall's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

Okay, that isn't true. I don't even have any sunglasses.

One thing that we never really got around to doing after we bought the house was any real work on it. We built Jason his workshop out back, sure, but that wasn't in the house. We've had plans for a while now for some serious  stuff we'd like to do to change up the living room, but... somehow, it just never quite happened.

Today, while we were at Home Depot, I told Jason that I felt like we'd just kept living as apartment dwellers; hanging stuff on the wall or buying new bookshelves, but not actually doing anything permanent. The last time I painted a wall in a house I lived in, I was 17 and my friends and I celebrated my brand new acquisition of my sister's (much larger) old bedroom by painting it a surprisingly dark purple.

And eating lots of pizza. We also ate our weight in pizza.

But Jason and I have never lived in a house that was ours until we bought this one back in August. Which, incidentally, is how far back I had to go in my photo files before I found a photo I had taken that even remotely shows the wall in the living room we painted today.

Because we are tired of beige.


We only painted the one wall today; the rest comes later. And, well, obviously this color isn't going to be on all four walls. Which you will totally understand me saying once I put up the photo of the color itself.

The thing is, we did live in apartment complexes that let you paint, as long as you repainted before you left. But we just never felt like doing it; the apartment served a purpose, but it wasn't ours. It was someone else's place we were paying to live in. This house is ours.

Which I just never get tired of saying, by the way? Home ownership rocks.

Except for taxes.

The wall painting is Phase One. Then comes building. Then comes rearranging my entire living room to fit what we're going to build. Then comes the time when there is much rejoicing.

Here's the thing, though; I don't do this painting thing halfway. I'm not just going to paint my living a slightly different shade of beige.

Oooooh no.



In this house our accent wall is named after volcanoes.

Because we are just that awesome.

Here's the problem, though; we've painted one wall, have three more and the trim to go. And I already know what color I want the kitchen to be as soon as we finish the living room, and I've already decided how I want to fix up our bathroom and I've got paint chips picked out for the bedroom...

So... many... paint... chips...

Send help.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reason #87658 I Am Not a Fashion Blogger

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Scarf- handmade gift from my friend Jessi. Sweater/tank top - JCPenney. Bracelet - made by an artist back in IL; bought it at a craft fair at SIUC years and years ago. Jeans - Old Navy. Necklace - from a local artist; bought it out of the shop I work at. Moccasins - Target. Bag - came with a subscription to a magazine. Socks - SmartWool (which... they pretty much all are, now.)

How's that for budget fashion?

This Week's Reason:
... because this is about as close as I get to "fashion", by which I mean I managed to put on clothes that vaguely go together while still looking like your insane fourth-grade art teacher.

Who I hope you loved, since that's kind of the look I'm going for here.

I am fighting a headache that is becoming a migraine, which made work an... interesting place to be today. Although shortly before the end of the workday, it snowed for a while! It didn't last or stick or anything, but the simple reality of snow is enough to put some magic in the air, right?

My plans for the evening involve a short lie-down in a dark room while listening to last week's Prairie Home Companion, then sorting through boxes and boxes of things we moved with us from the apartment, but which I don't think we've ever actually used.

Some things have been in those boxes since Illinois.

Goodwill is going to love me.





Friday, February 1, 2013

5 Things - The Blue & Burials (Again!) Edition

This edition of 5 things has me thinking blue, very blue. And also about bodies (again).

Prepare for the magic, people.




1. An absolutely beautiful piece of writing from a blogger I have only recently started following.

A series of paragraphs ruminating on  the realities of being committed to and in love with someone who is bipolar, the way that marriage can change both of you long-term, and the Japanese concept of wabi sabi; finding the beauty in the chipped, frayed, and worn down. It is finding the sublime nature of imperfect life.

It's a piece exploring the way history builds between two people who have chosen to spend their lives together over time, that way that lifetime commitment shapes us at the same time we are shaping it.




2. This turquoise necklace from Erin Graves over at SPARKLEFARM on etsy. A beautiful set of colors; the turquoise and the brass color of the settings and the chain.

This is a white-shirt-and-jeans, let the necklace do the talking kind of necklace.

I dream.

My birthday is coming up... maybe I should buy myself a present.

Or start leaving really obvious hints around the house.

Like a big note that says "BUY ME THIS FOR MY BIRTHDAY OR ELSE". I might even leave a link or something to let him know what "this" is? Or I might just keep things mysterious and refuse to elaborate.

Or, you know, put it on the blog Jason totally reads, which I guess kind of gives it away.

I'm really bad at being mysterious.




3. On a related subject to one of my previous lists, we have the Pazyryk burials. The burials have been found in the Pazyryk Valley of Siberia. The kurgans, or tombs, are huge barrow-like earthen constructions. At some point many of these kurgans flooded, and the ice that froze inside never quite melted, allowing an incredible preservation of the bodies and goods inside.

Some of them have yielded really exciting stuff; above is a small section of skin from one of the discoveries, that of a muscular man who is believed to have been in his fifties when he died. Due to the ice and cold, dry climate, the man's tattoos can be seen and deciphered even though his body had somewhat deteriorated.

A different burial discovery, called the Ice Maiden, was of a young woman who was buried with full ceremonial trappings, including six horses slaughtered and buried with her in ceremonial harness. Her tattoos are also visible, and even her blond hair remains.They've even been able to pinpoint a rough location on where the silk of her clothing came from (not China, but more likely India).

The Pazyryk culture of the Iron Age was Scythian, horse-riding, nomadic, and deeply wealthy. They have found some beautiful cloth saddles, carved wooden figurines, and the oldest pile rug known to have ever existed. All of these things remain, beautifully preserved, to be found.

I am in love with discoveries like this; I have a hard time understanding how people are not interested in the history of the whole world, as the cultures that have come and gone in the time homo sapiens has been walking around on this planet are just... fascinating.

Each new thing I stumble upon renews how much I wish I had gone into archeology, that I had realized how interested I was in it a little earlier in my college career. On the other hand, my life may have taken a different path if I had, and I fairly well like where I am.

So... I suppose I'll keep diving headfirst into the internet to get my history fix.




4. This gorgeous coffee mug from Julia Dean over on etsy.

 It's a lovely perfect porcelain white on the outside, but the inside design is really where it shines. The teal-and-green makes me think of my friend Sarah, and her love of all things peacock colors. The spiral is beautiful, and one of my favorite things to see in artwork.

It's a large enough mug to eat a small bowl of soup out of, as well as hot chocolate or coffee or whatever your fix is.

Just... a lovely thing.

I am a fan of lovely things.




5. Speaking of lovely things...

The dala horse, or Dalecarlian horse. Originally sort of a handmade toy for children, now it shows up all over the place, as home decor, on purses, as paintings or prints to hang on the wall. It's considered something of a folk tradition.

They have a few really large dala-horse sculptures up in the northern Midwest (Minnesota, North Dakota), where Swedish immigrants settled in higher numbers.

Hilariously, I have loved dala horses since I was a little kid. I was somewhat into the American Girl dolls. This was back when the "American Girl Dolls" consisted of something like four dolls, plus those baby dolls you could order to match your own hair, eye, and skin tones. Or something like that.

I promise this little tangent about American Girls is relevant.

One of the first American Girl dolls was Kirsten Larson, a Swedish immigrant to America. (This doll has been retired, because the American Girl company is silly and doesn't realize she and Felicity are the best dolls and oh god I am a grown woman talking about dolls on the internet. I will try to keep this brief.) I devoured the books and even owned Kirsten herself. They also released a bunch of "crafts just like (Insert Doll's Name Here) used to make!", which are actually pretty cool little books full of easy-for-kids crafts like painting a hatbox or making one of those funny little flip-toys where the bird is both in and out of the cage. Kirsten's book had a section on dala horses, where I was instantly in love but way too lazy to actually put the effort into asking my mom to get all the clay and paint required to make one.

Dala horses are still widely available, and artists and artisans have done some pretty cool things with them.

If you're thinking traditional, you can't go wrong with Grannas (where the above dala horse is available from). They have an English language version of their site, although the prices are all still in Swedish kronor.

Favorite iterations on the dala horse I've found on etsy are this print for your wall, this beautiful printed pillowcover, and this beautiful linen pouch.

Oh and this wonderful, awesome screenprint.

So...

now you know way more than you ever thought you would about kurgans in Siberia, dala horses, and my love of blue things on the internet.

Enjoy that.