31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

Have a Happy Halloween!!

And stay tuned for Tales from the Kitchen later this weekend, where I attempt to bake some pumpkins!


26 October 2008

Autumn Livin'

I have always loved autumn, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until about a week ago. We had one perfect fall day. The air was crisp, and clean. The sun was warm, and there was a fresh breeze zipping through. It was that perfect temperature where it's just chilly enough for a great big sweater and a cute little scarf but not yet coat weather. It was like a GAP commercial come to life... only without the GAP clothes. At one point in the mid-afternoon, the sun was hitting the trees just right, and the leaves looked like they were glowing. By that point in the day, I had simply had enough of research and work, so I decided to go for a walk with my camera.

It was the most relaxing half an hour I've had in a while. I just strolled around outside, taking some photos, enjoying the season that didn't seem to exist for the last few years. The weather in Pittsburgh had always seemed to just jump straight from summer into winter. I'd be wearing sandals and tank tops one day, then seemingly over night that blistering wind would kick up, and by the next morning I was dragging out my winter jackets and turning on the heat.

Towards the end of my walk, as I made my way back towards the house and back towards stacks of library books and photocopied articles on the Korean War among other topics, I stopped by one of the apple trees we have in our yard. We have two, both planted the year my brother was born, a gift from a family friend. One was a little older than the other when they went in, and that became my tree, while the younger one became my brother's. My brother's tree was really young when the area got decimated by an extraordinarily large caterpillar population, and that stunted it's growth a little, so it's just starting to bear fruit now, about eighteen years later. My tree has been producing apples for a few years now, but we've never been diligent enough with the anti-bug substance of choice to get edible apples. So don't look at this photo too close, lest you see the little eaten away parts. Next year we'll try harder. Really. It'll happen.

My little walk refreshed me just enough to keep plugging away with everything that's on my plate at the moment. I've got three major research projects in the works at the moment, and I'm relatively behind where I had hoped to be by this point on all of them. Between work, and class, and rehearsals for all sorts of things, my life is rather busy. Taking 20 minute breaks here and there to knit a little, cook a meal for myself, go buy the dog a new toy (The lamb below she seems to have decided is her baby. She won't go anywhere without it since I bought it for her), or work on stuff for here is all that's keeping my wits about me. With any luck I'll be able to stay sane enough to get everything done in the next few weeks!


17 October 2008

15 October 2008

Oh, the weekend...

Columbus Day Weekend has come and gone, and it has been my most eventful one to date. Some of that may be because, all through school, both high school and my undergrad, I never had Columbus day off. Why? Beats me, since it is a national holiday and all. But it doesn't really matter. What matters is that this year I was able to take a full day off of everything. And, as if that wasn't wonderful enough, that came on top of an eventful weekend.

Saturday, my family and I spent the day up at Woodbury Commons, a huge, ritzy factory outlet mall in New York. It’s a place we've known about for years, and have always wanted to go to, but just never quite got around to it. Beautiful buildings, on a beautiful day, combined with beautiful and bountiful shopping opportunities. What could be better?

Well, as it turns out, the novelty of shopping in a place that houses couture designers wears off quickly once you realize that no, you can't afford that Fendi purse on your grad student budget, and that no, no matter how much you wish and hope, those Jimmy Choos will never be in your closet because they cost more than your entire wardrobe put together. I went with some money I had socked away so that I could buy myself one, really nice, name brand thing. I left with most of that money, a jersey wrap dress from GAP for 50% off, a two dollar silicone egg poacher that I really only bought because of its immense cute factor, and a GorillaPod tripod, the one purchase of the day I wouldn't have been able to get at The OBF Mall right around the corner (found that at Eddie Bauer, of all places). Oh well, at least I still have that money socked away. I've had my eye on a vintage coat on Etsy for a while now (the link for which I will not share until I make up my mind, because I'm selfish like that). Maybe I'll spend the money on that. As if I need more coats.

My brother, on the other hand, had far better luck than I. Brooks Brothers was having a huge sidewalk sale. Now, I wonder sometimes if the two of us are actually related, since my brother is financially savvy and because of that, he can afford that stuff every once and a while. Jealousy? Thy name is Lunaticraft. It's alright though, I console myself by repeating the mantra that in a year he'll have massive student loans, just like I do. In fact, he'll probably have even more, since the schools he's looking at give squat in financial aid... Although, he will bear the brunt of the debt in designer clothes, so it might be worth it.

Sunday, I did some politically oriented stuff, which I'm not going to really get into, because I know I'll end up turning this into a soapbox on which I will undoubtedly stand. And the thing about me standing on soapboxes? I have a terrible sense of balance, and it can be dangerous. Plus, nobody cares about the local politics of OBF anyway. What matters is that I enjoyed myself.

Then came glorious Monday. Words I never thought would come out of my mouth or my fingers onto a page. A day filled with relaxation, some scattered cleaning, watching of old Gilmore Girls episodes (the Dean vs. Jess ones are the best), and decorating for Halloween with my mom. But, I'll save photos of that for Friday.

Unfortunately not everything on Monday ended up being wonderful... one horrifying revelation accompanied the relaxing and the decorating: I ate a whole stick of butter. By myself. Now, before you judge, it's not like I sat there snacking away at a stick of butter like it was a popsicle or something. It was unintentional, and went unrealized until I reached in to grab more for toast. The stick was gone. Between putting it on top of things, and adding it to my cooking, I managed to consume a whole stick by myself. If that's not a sign that my eating habits need to change, then I don't know what is. My body did exact its revenge in the form of incredibly bizarre dreams.

No, it doesn't involve 'Salka in a silly getup. That one's not a dream. So, the funniest real dream, and the one I will share, involves me being back in high school without changing age. Always great dream territory, isn't it? So anyway, Nick Stokes from CSI (not George Eads, the actor who plays him, but rather the character of Nick Stokes complete with Crime Scene Vest and Kit), was teaching my class Social Studies (not history, but social studies, even though the actual topic being covered is history), and he was explaining the evolution of the Parliamentary system of England all wrong. So I'm sitting in my seat (the same seat I sat in during 9th grade when we watched the news as the Twin Towers fell) getting more and more frustrated. The rage is building with every wrong fact and inaccurate metaphor or comparison, and I can feel the corrections bubbling in my throat, but I can't speak up for some reason. Finally, everything boils over. I leap out of my seat, my degree in History (which in real life I do not yet have) magically appearing in my hands, and shout in my also magically acquired British accent, "NO! You're WRONG! Stick with the dead bodies and Texan accents, you f***wit!" Then, the classroom door bursts open and the principal rushes into the classroom. He just happens to be Henry VIII, who then shouts, "Off with her head!" ala the Queen of Hearts, and proceeds to swallow me whole like a boa constrictor. So he's sitting there in this classroom, now looking like Jabba the Hut (although by the time he died, the real Henry VIII kind of looked like that anyway), with all my classmates, and the "teacher" staring at him. That's when I woke up.

So, needless to say, from now on I'm definitely monitoring my butter intake.


09 October 2008

Adventures with Wire

Well, now that I'm a working woman, I had to totally re-do my wardrobe (Goodbye first three paychecks! I'll miss you!). It freaks me out just a little bit that I'll never be able to wear jeans all day again, and that what was "dressed up" only a few months ago (nice fashionable top, jeans, heels) is now inappropriate for everything but a night at the bar. Which, for the curious, for me was my 21st birthday in May, and not one night since.

I should probably do something about that lack of social life thing, but right now, I've been too busy with school, work, papers, and... updating my wardrobe so I'm not the girl who's talked about for dressing inappropriately.

As I hung up the new clothes that emptied my bank account (since when do two, not nearly top-of-the-line button up shirts cost $80? It's criminal, I tell you.), I realized that I have no jewelry to go with any of it. Specifically necklaces. For years, I wore the same necklace every single day because it was a gift from my then-boyfriend. But, now that that's over, I have the freedom of wearing what I want around my neck. However, I had nothing.

So, I dug out all my old jewelry making supplies and my old bead stash and got to work. Since my bank account is drained, I promised myself that I wouldn't go buy any new beads or supplies until all the old ones I possibly could use were gone. So I settled down in front of the boob-tube (T.V.) and got to work. In the end I came out with five new necklaces, all with hand made clasps, as you can see above.

It was definitely a process as I re-learned to manipulate wire, make symmetric loops, measure chain properly... Two of the finished products actually need to be fixed, since I forgot to actually, well, measure. Both hang down past where is decent, so I'm going to have to go in and trim the chain. But, all in all, I'm pretty happy.

If you've noticed, I have been doing some tweaking of the blog layout. Not too much, since I only really have the time at night when I'm having trouble sleeping. I have a few things planned for the next few months, including profiles of some of my favorite items and the stories behind them (Hey, I'm a history major. Things and back story are simply what I do). Also, some book reviews that I promised way back at the beginning of the year and never quite got around to, and the continuance of 50projects in 2008. I'm still determined to meet that goal, but seeing as it's already October and I'm only up to... maybe 4, if that, I'll really have to kick it into gear. Also, I have a number of online tutorials that I plan to try out, and I want to give a review of them on here as well.

I'm excited about these plans, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can actually pull them off!