Thursday, January 31, 2013

Christoffer Relander

(source)

I will be forever obsessed with the magic of double exposure photography.
Christoffer Relander is a Finnish photographer who has captured me with his "We Are Nature" series. These beautiful, multi-layered portraits, rich with texture, are perfectly wintry and melancholy.
I could stare at them for hours, meaning I should purchase myself one of his prints.
(source)


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Monday, January 21, 2013

Mixtape Monday: What I am Listening to and Why

Not all of these are new, but this what I am currently into:

1. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) - Arcade Fire (a very catchy tune)

2. In Your Eyes - Kate Boy (Their EP comes out tomorrow and I highly recommend purchasing it, if you know what's best for you.)

3. Diamonds - Rihanna (I have mixed feelings towards Rihanna - musically and personally - but every now and then she releases a gem that I cant get enough of. This is one of them. Sia wrote this song, and I think she even delivers it better than RihRih.)

4. Better Off - Haim (This sister trio is my new favorite thing on this planet. I cannot wait for a full-length album.)

5. The John Wayne - Little Green Cars (for fans of: Snow Patrol and The New Pornographers)

6. Blue Velvet - Lana Del Rey (Born to Die - The Paradise Edition is my favorite guilty pleasure.)

7. Know How - Kings of Convenience (Feist makes an appearance in this song. That's all you need to know.)

8. Time to Run - Lord Huron (Lord Huron seems like he is going to be the next big thing - indie music wise. He is a perfect blend of Bon Iver and Deer Tick, if you can imagine that.)

9. Let Me Lie - Trey Anastasio (for fans of: Ben Lee and Ben Folds)

10. Art Isn't Real (City of Sin) - Deer Tick (I love the lead singer's unapologetic raspy, gargling southern voice.)

Listen to them all:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Countries I Want to See, Pt.5

Colorful Alley - Aspects of Prague (EXPLORED)
Praha okt-11-1438
Czech Republic
I've heard from numerous people that Prague is simply the most beautiful city in Europe. That it combines all the architecture of the various countries, and blends it into one, cohesive city. From what I can tell in pictures, I love the brightly painted buildings and the contrast of the ionized copper domes and brick-tile roofs (aqua and rust are my favorite colors). I guess I must see it for myself to determine if it is the "best" city in Europe.
   

Israel
I have a huge interest in the Middle East, I guess because it seems so exotic and off-limits, it intrigues me. Unfortunately, who knows when that area will ever be safe again for travelers (only the truly brave go). Israel, to me, still seems like the safest of those countries, even with the ongoing strife there now. It's the only true democracy in the Middle East, and I admire their perseverance to remain so. Especially  Jerusalem being the center and start of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism - it holds so much history, and I am interested in learning all sides of it. I love that it's a place of pilgrimage for so many, people saving their whole lives to make the trip, makes that place seem that more sacred.
(I really love the dramatics of the video above)

Copenhagen
Nyhavn Copenhagen

Denmark
My partner in hilarity and crime, Vern, is currently working abroad over in Denmark, which piqued my interest in the country. You should check out her blog, As the World Verns, its funny and filled with all sorts of insight and observations of her time in Aarhus. I hope she gets to the shores Copenhagen (above) or the countryside (also above), I'd love to hear her take on these picturesque places. You've got to watch the video I put above, It's this walkable rainbow panorama overlooking the city of Aarhus. Such a neat concept, I'm a sucker for anything resembling a rainbow.
..........
Right now I've got friends all over the world - and they all have blogs!
My bestestsisterfriend, Victoria will be in Brisbane, Australia for 2 years at medical school. Her blog is Koality Time with Victoria, and I cannot wait for more posts on Australianisms and all the adorable animals that she sees and cuddles. I would love to visit her if I can somehow cough up the money. 

My love and ginger soul(less)sister Kelsey is currently in Peru (SO JEALOUS) volunteering and climbing Machu Picchu (soon). Her tumblr is la ruta natural (or Kelseesworld). She promised me many pictures of llamas that she will bind in a book and give to me at Christmas. Thanks in advance, Kelsey.
.............

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Wintry Mix

biltmore
pictures taken at the Bilmore House in Asheville, NC, late December
biltmore 
I must say that August and January are my least favorite months, and I am not even in school anymore. There's just nothing going on and the weather is at it's worst. Finding inspiration and happiness in the everyday proves to be a challenge because it's pretty hard to top the freedom and nostalgia that summer brings (August) and the back-to-back holidays of October - December (January). 
Sometimes I try to appreciate those months for what they are. Like in January, I try to appreciate the dead trees, the grey sky, and cold rain. It's quintessential to the season and if you're listening to the right music while taking it all in, it just all makes sense. To me at least.

Here are some songs that help me understand winter:

1. The Boxer - Mumford and Sons (This cover is so so good. I love their twangy take on this classic song.)
2. Wait - M83
3. Slow Life (with Victoria Legrand) - Grizzly Bear
4. Sweetest Kill - Broken Social Scene
5. Dead in the Water - Ellie Goulding
6. Cold - Aqualung & Lucy Schwartz
7. Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier - Goldmund (beautiful instrumental piece)
8. Dark Days - Punch Brothers
9. Ghosts - James Vincent McMorrow (for anyone who loves Bon Iver)
10. Lay Low - Shovels and Rope

Hear:
biltmore biltmore

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2012 {the year of cake crumbs, sweat & tears}

chucktown
January
Returned to Charleston for my last semester of college, terrifying. Filled my schedule with classes like Representations of the Holocaust, Movement for the Actor, Film Photography, and Tap. Auditioned for the spring plays and was cast in Letters to Sala, which would be performed in April. Hung out with my girlfriends, running errands and blasting some M83 with the windows rolled down. Made some homemade soups for the chilly days, daydreamed about visiting Iceland (what else is new?) and listened to wintry music.
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valentines mantle
February
Dressed up like the 1920's with friends to go see The Artist and ate breakfast for dinner at Early Bird Diner. Saw Aziz Ansari perform stand up, brilliant. Went bouldering for the first time (indoors), and afterwards rewarded ourselves with cheesy, Super Bowl food. Relished in the early spring and blossoming flowers. Sent out some Valentine's Day cookies to loved ones, decorated my mantel, and watched The Princess Bride with my single friends. Celebrated Kelsey's birthday over a weekend with jambalaya, hurricanes, and hummingbird cake. Fell in love with the movie Drive.
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daffodils
March
Went home for spring break the first week of the month, reveled in the warmer weather, country scenery, and yellow daffodils. Also, finally found my graduation dress! After returning to school, play rehearsals were in full swing and so were the final weeks of the semester. An old friend from high school was in town, and in one day we saw Ft. Sumter, ate Fast and French for lunch, toured a brewery, had tacos for dinner, and saw a movie. Decided that I was going to stay in Charleston for the summer.
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Middleton Place
April
Started a job at Cupcake. Was stressed out about finals and projects and fitting in time in the photography lab. Picked strawberries at a farm and made my own Banh Mi sandwich. My parents came in town to see my play and we ate at my favorite places and visited the magical Middleton Place. Had my last day of school - EVER!
.graduation
May
In between finals and graduation, some friends and I drove to New Orleans for Jazz Fest. I would go a million more times, I love that city. We ate gluttonous po-boys, tried on Mardi Gras masks, partied on Frenchman's St. and stayed at a Dolly Parton themed hostel. Returned to Charleston for Graduation. Lots of family came in town for my special day and we had a great time sightseeing, eating Charleston specialties, and laughing. I actually graduated on my 23rd birthday. My roommates and I all threw a wine/cheese/dessert party at our house for friends and family, and they sang me "Happy Birthday." I can't believe no one cried all day.
After the festivities, life returned to normal and everyone back to their old jobs. Claire and I saw Washed Out and the goodbye parties started, all the grads were starting to leave Charleston.
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Sunrise on folly
June
Flew home for a long weekend to see old high school friends and attend some graduation parties. Started up yoga again, felt really good. Went to a chocolate and beer pairing at Holy City Brewery and celebrated Ansley's birthday at our favorites, The Gin Joint and The Belmont. Hosted a house show for  my favorite Charleston musician, Steven Fiore. One of my best friends from HS, Victoria, and her little sister (they are like my sisters) came in town for a long weekend! We went to the beach, shopped, ate some vietnamese, drank some margaritas and giggled.
Began a routine of taking sunset walks along the battery. Also woke up before dawn with Kelsey to watch the sunrise over Folly Beach. The music from The Descendants was my soundtrack of the summer.
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monza
July
By far the most emotional month, as it was my last in Charleston.
My parents came in town for the 4th of July and my mom's birthday. We finally saw Angel Oak, went to the beach, and ate our way around town (it's easy to do). They brought home a majority of my belongings.
My friends and I tried to fit in a much as possible in our last month together - all our favorite restaurants, bars and coffee shops - and just undivided time together. So many great memories. We spent the last week or so moving people out, moving ourselves out and cleaning the whole house (God, did it need it!). Sweaty times.
Finally it was time, and I left Charleston and moved back home.
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granola bars
August
I moved back in with my parents to save money to move to Chicago (2013!). Had some Charleston friends pass through on their way back home. Started hanging out with my best friends from high school, who have all graduated and moved back home too. They have made home even better than I could imagine. I am very blessed to be able to spend this time with them, all as our "new persons", creating new memories and laughing. Life savers.
I went back to work as a cake decorator as I had the summers and breaks prior, but with more responsibilities and a raise. Another blessing, because even though it's not my dream job, I do really love it and love the people I work for and with.
Made some granola bars and admired my parent's garden that became dinner every night.
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sf
September
Margaritas with my girlfriends, all the time.
 Went to San Francisco with my parents for a week, and traveled Northern California. I can't believe I am not living there, it rivals New Orleans for best city in the US. We explored Chinatown, The Mission, Alcatraz, Palace of Fine Arts, and many other tourist traps and not so touristy places. We also drove up the coast to Carmel and Big Sur. Made it a goal that I must live there one day.
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fall
October
Went back to Charleston for the first time and enjoyed late night talks with friends and my old haunts. It was just what I needed.
Started going out with friends to Buckhead and Midtown, celebrating our 20's. Trekked up to the North Georgia Mountains and listened to fall-ish music. Dressed like a black and white silent film star for Halloween, people either got it for didn't.
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November
Drove to Chattanooga to meet my beloved Kelsey for a night and a day. We caught up for as long as we could keep our eyes open, ate apple pie and I watched her get her hair cut into this adorable bob. Continued hanging out with ATL friends till wee hours in the morning. Had my mom's whole family come in town for Thanksgiving. Living at home during the holidays means you get to see all your high school friends who come home, which is nice. My Charleston friend Claire is from ATL, so I get to see her at holidays too. Bonus Jonas. Ended the month by celebrating Daughtry's birthday!
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GB xmas party
December
How this month always zooms by! Started off by listening to Christmas music. Was super busy at work with Christmas cakes and gingerbread parties. I was also planning and preparing the decorations and food for my family's British Christmas Party, which thankfully was a success. More friends passed through town, as did family. It was the first Christmas morning I ever spent in my own house (all 22 years before had been at grandparents'). Victoria left for Australia for 2 years the day after Christmas. We all had a morning coffee visit to bid our farewells. It's definitely bittersweet, her not being home, but I could not be happier for the direction of her life right now and going to med school! 
My parents and I headed up to Asheville to see the Biltmore house and celebrate the New Years.
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T'was the year of cake crumbs, sweat and tears. Lots of chapters ended, which brought many new beginnings and challenges. It was definitely the year the relationships in my life were strengthened - friendships and with my parents (we are getting along so well). It's taught me what a support system I have and that if I moved to Charleston with no friends and left with only the best of them, it could happen in Chicago too.

I''m very curious for 2013, excited and impatient.

Happy New Years

Saturday, January 5, 2013

British Christmas Party

GB xmas party
When I think of Christmas, I always imagine England with it's figgy pudding, Charles Dickens, and snow covered moors. Also, the Brits make my favorite Christmas movies: Love, Actually, Bridget Jones, The Holiday (even though only half the movie takes place in the British countryside), a Muppet's Christmas Carol (given the Muppet interpretation isn't British, but the story is). Plus, it's been a huge year for G.B. - the Spice Girls reunited, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics, and Will and Kate are finally having a baby. 
All of these reasons inspired me to make my family's annual Christmas party a British one. 

now for the details:
GB xmas party
Let me start out with the British menu, with a Southern twist:

Drinks
Green Tea and Pear Vodka Cocktail (recipe coming soon)
Gl├╝hwein (mulled red wine, brewed by my dad)

Appetizers
Assortment of British Cheeses
Fish (w/o chips)

Main
Chicken Pot Pie (recipe coming soon)
Mini Toad in the Hole (recipe coming soon)

Dessert
Gingerbread "Tea Bag" Cookies (see below for details)

GB xmas party
I wanted the decor for the party to be very vintage and have a cosy, snowed-in feeling - stacked books, old clocks, fake snow, postcards, old cookie and tea tins, mini cottages.
GB xmas party
Saltine Toffee with gold glitter
GB xmas party
I bought old music note books from the thrift store and ripped out all the pages, dyed them in super concentrated hot tea for about 20 minutes and then let them dry. There are all taped together on the back; I worked in clusters and then filled in-between and attached them all together. 
I also painted my own union jack bunting- I cut out large triangles of watercolor paper and watered down some acrylic paints to paint the flag by freehand. After they were dry, I taped the backs of them to glittery string.
GB xmas party
Everyone dressed up for the occasion and most the women wore fascinators on their head, in the true British fashion. Top hats and tuxedos were also worn. I was pleased to see that people really got into the theme.
tea sandwiches
Tea Sandwiches with DIY British Flag toothpicks (or cupcakes toppers)
cookies
For these "tea bag" gingerbread cookies, I used my recipe for gingerbread and cut out a tea bag shape from the dough (have a few real tea bags by your side for reference). I used a straw to make a hole at the top and baked as normal. After they were cool, I dipped the ends of the cookies in good quality chocolate and let dry. Printed out these beautiful paper tags with teapots on them for the cookies, threaded through some baker's twine through the hole of the cookie, and glued the two lose ends in the paper tag. They were a huge hit.
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I think I am going to do a DIY for these teacup stands I made for the party, but they were pretty simple to make, the hardest part is finding all the pieces.
GB xmas party
poster
Ordered this and this wrapping paper from Paper Source, but used them as posters instead.
GB xmas party
This is how I decorated the dining room, continuing the theme...
GB xmas party
You know the British rhyme about blackbirds baked in a pie? Well, I really wanted some faux blackbirds perched on the centerpieces.
toad in the hole
Mini Toad in the Hole - recipe coming soon!
mirror GB xmas party
Across the mirror in the dining room, I pinned some union jack bunting, old Christmas cards and postcards onto some glittery string with mini clothespins. I was inspired by this image.
DGB xmas party GB xmas party
Snowflake ornaments hanging off all the lighting...
DSC_0067
British Cheeses
union jack cookies

Parties go by so fast - I didn't even get to photograph all the food and decor, but this was the main gist of it! This was our second year having a photo booth, where we tape some wide wrapping paper to a wall, provide some props and set up the tripod and camera remote. It's a good time and an easy way to make sure you've gotten pictures of everyone.

Check out my Pinterest inspiration board for the party!

Parties of Christmas Past:
Lumberjack Christmas Party
Christmas Cocktail Party
Peppermint Christmas Dessert Party
Black Forest Christmas Party
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