Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Leaning into 2015

I was in a strange place last winter, where it seemed like so many things were not as they appeared, and I felt foolish. When I feel foolish I feel immature, dumb, and like I have no control over anything. So, as cheesy as it sounds, I made a vision board. My friend Lauren had a tradition of crafting them with her roommate on the New Year. Since I wasn't in town, I made a secret board on Pinterest instead. So CHEESY, like inspirational quotes, pictures of my heroines, pictures of a life I want for myself. It's not that making a board has magical powers that will make these things come to fruition in real life, but for me it kept me focused. Kept my eye on the ball.

If I learned anything this year, it was about leaning into life. When WOW air offers you cheap tickets to Iceland, you save all your tip money and GO. When you're tired of being single your whole life, you join Tinder and say yes to a first date. When you're unhappy or uncomfortable, you speak up and get yourself out of that situation. When you're in an improv scene, you jump in that world and say YES!

Yes, this year I learned to lean in but also to hustle. Because in the Pinterest world of cheesy, yet inspirational quotes.... "Dreams demand HUSTLE"

In 2015, I did me. Which is a luxury in and of itself.
(Please note, I still have to eat ramen and bring tubberware to baby showers)

Excited to see what this year brings, hopefully more of the same and then some.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mixtape Monday: Workout 7.0

I got a gym membership for Christmas! Let's get Phy-phy-sical-cal-cal-cal!

1. Physical - St. Lucia (NEW ALBUM!!)
2. Born Again Teen - Lucius (also NEW ALBUM!!)
3. What Went Down - Foals
4. Kamikaze - Susanne Sundfør
5. Rapt (TRZTN Remix) - Karen O
6. Human Engine - Kate Boy
7. Accelerate - Susanne Sundfør
8. When I Was Young - Kate Boy
9. Savages - Marina & The Diamonds
10. Keep You On My Side - CHVRCHES
11. Try to Lose - Penguin Prison
12. Dancing On Glass - St. Lucia

Friday, January 15, 2016

on grace

I would say 95% of my heroines are redheads, one being the ever talented Jessica Chastain. She is the epitome of grace and all around class-act. 
I live my life by the motto: W.W.J.C.D. - what would Jessica Chastain do?*
She probably wouldn't put up with most bullsh*t BECAUSE SHE'S TOO BUSY. 

I've been in several situations recently where my heart was pounding so hard because I wanted to speak my mind and disagree strongly with someone. Usually over something stupid. Instead of vomiting my opinions and truths all over the table, I swallowed my tongue (and maybe rolled by eyes, or laughed sarcastically too). 
Meg Fee put it all perfectly in this post - on when to be assertive and when to walk away with grace; How that if you know no minds will be changed, sometimes it's not worth it. 
She says: "I read something recently about letting grace be bigger than our mouths. That's what I'm grappling with right now. Grace. To assert my worth, to set some boundaries, and to do it with as much grace as I possibly can, which very often means NOT SAYING EVERYTHING I WANT TO. Or, in other words, SHUTTING UP."

As I have now changed my iPhone wallpapers to be of Jessica Chastain (sorry baby pigs and boyfriend), I'm reminded daily to find that intangible grace we all can possess. 

Google the word "grace" (in the spiritual sense) and you'll find all sorts of different definitions. I can't quite explain it, but I believe JChas has it. 

"You can have the other words - chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I don't know what it is exactly, but I'll take it." - Mary Oliver

*this was in my old Tindr profile, def why I have a boyfriend now

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mixtape Monday: Best Songs of 2015

These are accounted separately from my Best Albums of 2015 list. Lots of great new music this year - could have listened to more! Also, Justin Bieber's new stuff totally deserves to be on here (think I'm a little bit of a belieber now...)

1. High Enough to Carry You Over - CHVRCHES (My favorite off their latest album. Martin Doherty actually sings lead on this and I wish he did that more - although Lauren Mayberry is wonderful!)

2. Absentee - Violents (Jeremy Larson's super cool project, Violents, features a different female vocalist with each EP release (he writes and composes, they sing). This song features the ethereal Stacy King of Eisely and Sucre.)

3. Dreams - Beck (Totally thought he was going to release a new album with this single, which would be a far departure from Morning Phase. This was my summer jam.)

4. Soak - GEMS (Been waiting on this album release for a couple years and totally worth it. Sexy, sleek, sick harmonies.)

5. Mountain At My Gates - Foals (reminiscent of 90's alt rock)

6. Roll Up Your Sleeves - MEG MAC (So much soul! Can't to hear more from her in 2016.)

7. Semantics - The Mynabirds (for fans of: Florence + the Machine and Mirah)

8. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins) - Father John Misty (What an eccentric/wonderful gift to the indie music word!)

9. Perth - Beirut (Really like the new direction they went it, without losing their roots and lush, old world sound.)

10. Los Angeles - The Bird and The Bee (fun, understated, electric)

11. Runnin' (Lose It All) [feat. Beyoncé & Arrow Benjamin] - Naughty Boy (How was this not ALL OVER the radio!?!)

12. Make Them Gold - CHVRCHES 

13. Pedestrain at Best - Courtney Barnett (Really need to listen to this whole album still, but this song was bad ass.)

14. Bad Blood - Ryan Adams (yes, off his reinterpretation of 1989)

15. Somebody to Love - Kacey Musgraves (Mark 2015 as the year Lauren bought a commercial country album. This whole album  - and her old stuff - is funny, smart and catchy.)

16. The Eye - Brandi Carlile (simply gorgeous)

17. The Emotion - BØRNS

18. Nothing Without Love - Nate Ruess (from Fun.'s frontman - just theatrical as it should be)

19. The Less I Know the Better - Tame Impala (modern disco)

20. Midnight Sun - Kate Boy (another highly anticipated album release for me)

21. Timothy - The Tallest Man on Earth (folksy, autumnal)

22. All of Me Wants All of You - Sufjan Stevens (He returned to his organic, simple roots on Carrie & Lowell, with hauntingly beautiful results.)

23. Sea Creatures - SOAK (for fans of: Camera Obscura and Belle & Sebastian)

24. Perfect Couples - Belle & Sebastian (speaking of....)

25. iT - Christine and the Queens (funky fresh music from a Frenchie)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Best Albums of 2015

I didn't do a great job of listening to new music this year as I normally do. I know there are so many albums that should have made this list (and please let me know which ones!), but here are my picks:
Best Album of the Year: Florence + The Machine 
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Deluxe)
If the album cover is any indication Flo is going to give it to you straight. Her previous covers have her looking off to the side, but now, homegirl has conjured your attention. "Ship to Wreck" propels the album into the dramatic, yet strong-willed "What Kind of Man." Yes, this is her most mature album, as it should be. I feel I have come into my own along with her over the last 6 years. There's less glitter and more grit, more life experiences. This album is also her most rock/retro sounding to date. She's traded in her chiffon dresses and fairy wings for green velour power suits. Don't be fooled, her magic is more real than ever.

"To let me dangle at a cruel angle
Oh my feet don't touch the floor
Sometimes you're half in and then you're half out
But you never close the door
What kind of man loves like this?
What kind of man?"
 - What Kind of Man

Check out: "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" will make you want to move like a hippie, "Queen of Peace" sounds like a modern dance, and "Mother" transcends into that cosmic sound of hers we all love. 
2nd: Adele 25
Like this comes an any surprise. Do I even need to write something about this? Watch her NBC Special. Watch her SNL performances. All bow down to ADELE. She is the past, present and future of music. 

"Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk
To the way you move
Everybody here is watching you
Cause you feel like home
You're like a dream come true
But if by chance you're here alone
Can I have a moment
Before I go?
Cause I've been by myself all night long
Hoping you're someone I used to know

You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song"
 - When We Were Young

Check out: "When We Were Young" makes me cry every time, EVERY TIME, "Send My Love (To Your New Lover) is a radio hit waiting to happen, and "Water Under the Bridge" is that "go back and get her" moment in a movie.
3rd: Susanne Sundfør Ten Love Songs
This album is practically a movie score for a futuristic Christoper Nolan film (starring Jessica Chastain of course). With some help from M83, the Norwegian siren adds some synth and theatrics to her sound. Honestly, I could just hear this album stripped of all instrumentals because her voice is so classically beautiful, but the orchestra and production take it to the next level. It's glittery, it's gothic, it's dangerous, it's operatic. Give this album a listen and be transported into a fantastical fairy tale.

"Blasting, blazing, stars exploding
A cosmic war, raging in the sky
But all I could hear was your last goodbye
Hope you'll come back again
Even now I know, you are heartless
'Cause you took off my dress
And you never put it on again
It's overrated, it doesn't do it for me
I dreamt the gods descended
I dreamt that time had ended
Planets colliding, baby one day we'll be free
But all I ever wanted was for you to want me"
 - Memorial

Check out: "Fade Away" is made for the dance floor, "Delirious" is like "Bad Blood" but 1000X better, and "Darlings" opens the album like a good yoga flow.
4th: Marina and The Diamonds FROOT
Marina is the indie world's Katy Perry. Both are sexy brunettes with penchants for wearing food-shaped head pieces and all things neon. Though, it's fair to say Marina has a little more to say. All of her past albums have been witty and political, and FROOT is no exception. Depression, rape, guns - she sings about it all, but her florescent, electro-pop sound sheds light on even the darkest lyrics.
Boss KWEEN is back. Eat the FROOT.

"Underneath it all, we're just savages
Hidden behind shirts, ties and marriages
How could we expect anything at all
We're just animals, still learning how to crawl"

Check out: "Blue" demands happiness, "Froot" is funky and weird, and "Happy" sings almost like a prayer.
5th: Beach House Depression Cherry
So few bands have mastered Beach House's melancholy but somehow NOT depressing sound. On Depression Cherry their craft is honed and perfected. Victoria Legrand's voice is so mesmerizing, you drift off to another place (probably somewhere in the cherry colored abyss that is the cover art, which is red velvet btw - material that is, not cake). I want to take a dream in this album and lie in the sparseness.

"Beyond love
This thing comes to me
Heartbreak did this
He was made to believe
That he should live without it
Our nerves would've seen
No change in his
Vision sprung into dreams
Of a world left without it"
- Beyond Love

Check out: "Wildflower" a gauzy, summery ditty, "PPP" is hypnotizing, and "Space Song" could belong anywhere on their previous albums.
6th: Brandon Flowers The Desired Effect
Although I am in love with this man and meeting him won me a free trip to Vegas, more than just his looks got my favorite Morman on this list. This album is the best music he's released - solo or with The Killers - in years. Even though the 80's vibe is out and proud, his take still feels modern and fresh. Hearing this album performed live was tops! He's such an engaging and charming performer. Ahh, le sigh.

"She wasn't having anything, no birds or any bees,
Girl don't go shooting all the dogs down
just cause one's got fleas
I'll bite what turns you sour baby
I've got miles per hour baby
Make up your mind
You never know what you might find
When dreams come true
Dreams come true
Yes they do"
- Dreams Come True

Check out: "Still Want You" is a tropical delight, "Can't Deny My Love" could easily be in the movie Drive, and "Lonely Town" is so charmingly 80's.
7th: Penguin Prison Lost in New York
What a fun, upbeat dance album!?! I kinda don't ever want them to get really big, even though they're super radio-ready. It's just my fear of bands I really like going mainstream and selling out. Penguin Prison is a gem only for the musically intelligent (could I sound any more snobby?).  If you're reading this then you're worthy of their infectious pop music (so snobby!!!).

"Turn it back, now spin around
Can we go back a second
To the way it was back then
I don't like where you're going with this
Has anyone ever told you
You can't just make your own rules
And break them when I don't give in, don't give in
And you always, always try to lose
And it's all you, all you wanna do"
 - Try to Lose

Check out: "Calling Out" sounds like a modern Hall & Oates, "Never Gets Old" is optimistic and fun, and "Caught in a Daze" is smooth and 80's.

What were your favorite albums of 2015?

see also:  Best Albums of 2011 |  Best Albums of 2012 |  Best Albums of 2013 | Best Albums of 2014

Monday, December 28, 2015

Drake on Cake

 My inner cake decorator is FREAKING out over this instagram account, created by the superb Joy the Baker.
Drake songs on cakes. What a time to be alive. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Mixtape Monday: Christmas Mix Vol. 12 & Vol. 13

Christmas came early - I've got 2 WHITE HOT holiday playlists for you!

Volume 12
soulful, energized, HOT

1. 8 Days of Hanukkah - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings (their holiday album is SO WONDERFUL and FUN)
2. May Ev'ry Day Be Christmas - Irma Thomas
3. Let It Snow - Diana Krall
4. Baby It's Cold Outside - Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel
5. It Don't Have to Change - John Legend Feat. The Stephens Family
6. Alone On Christmas - Phoenix (from the Bill Murray Netflix Christmas special)
7. God Rest Ye Merry Gents - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
8. Little Drummer Boy - Meaghan Smith
9. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses

Volume 13
folksy, relaxing, COLD

1. Blood Oranges in the Snow - Over the Rhine
2. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - The Civil Wars
3. Home for the Season - Neil Halstead
4. The Burning Babe (Robert Southwell, 1602) -xmas movie soundtrack
5. River - Joni Mitchell
6. Coventry Carol - Sufjan Stevens
7. My Father's Body - Over the Rhine
8. Holy, Holy, Holy - Sufjan Stevens
9. Half the World Away - AURORA (from this commercial)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Pins {Pinterest}

How is December almost over?! Not okay. 
I've been busy crafting my Christmas gifts for everyone while listening to Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings' holiday album (so fun and soulful!) and the new season of Serial. 
above: ugly sweater cookies {source / pin it} // {source / pin it}
below: {source / pin it}
above: {source / pin it} // Mulled Wine Syrup {source / pin it}
below: {source / pin it}
above: {source / pin it} // {source}
below: {source / pin it} // {source / pin it}

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Life Lately...{Chicago, Vegas, & beyond}

NY NY, Las Vegas

Good Lord it's been a busy fall! I feel like every week I've been packing or unpacking, but I'm not complaining. 

Here's what my life has been like lately...

going to lots of concerts - Beirut, Brandon Flowers and BRITNEY... being a bridesmaid in my best friend from high school's wedding, and making the wedding cake ... sipping on tiki drinks from Lost Lake ... taking a FREE trip to Las Vegas with my friend (well, we still have to pay taxes) ... eating In-N-Out ... going to Milwaukee for Thanksgiving with my boo ... graduating from the Second City Conservatory and having my family up here to see my show ...  co-hosting a Halloween party and dressing up like the Queen of Hearts (Michael was the Mad Hatter) ... attending parties, LOTS of parties ... listening to Adele non-stop and pretending like I'm her in a music video when I'm walking down the street ... trying to do my makeup like Adele ... growing my nails out like Adele ... being broke as hell ... decorating early for Christmas ... being bad about blogging regularly (gotta get better about that)

"animal style" at In-N-Out
flamingo britney
beirut paris
venetian eiffel
Vegas felt like a big Disneyworld for adults - fake facades, overpriced drinks, but it was a lot cleaner than I expected it to be. 
Chicago at dusk
brandon riv
lost lake banana
How cute is that banana dolphin from Lost Lake tiki bar!?! (in Logan Square, Chicago)
innout las
booth sign
My pictures never have an order, I just arrange them by color, size and aesthetics.
honey comb in Lincoln Park
pumpkin t
 a Pollock pumpkin
blue angels
Blue Angels over Chicago
cake m mo BTCHS
Monica's wedding!!!!! I had't make a cake in years, but it was like riding a bike. 
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