Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mixtape Monday: Winter Blues

Between the Polar Vortex sweeping back through, canceling schools and work - and taking off work due to being sick, I feel as though I am getting the authentic Chicago winter experience. It's the coldest it's been in 30 years or so. I arrived just in time ;)
My computer has kept me entertained the last week, but I have never looked more forward to warmer weather in my entire life. I'm trying not to complain, but it's just the bleak reality of it all. Mostly the snowball effect (no pun intended) of the cold weather perpetuating being sick, vice versa, all the way around into a circular snow pattern. 
Moving on...

I put together this playlist because to me, these songs understand the winter blues

1. Live in Dreams (Wild Nothing Cover) - High Highs
2. This Place is Haunted = DeVotchKa
3. Hover II - Andrew Bird
4. A Dedication - Washed Out
5. Baby's Arms - Kurt Vile
6. The Curse - Agnes Obel
7. Colorblind - Counting Crows
8. I Know Places - Lykke Li
9. Babys - Bon Iver
10. Small Bump - Ed Sheeran
11. Logan's Loop - Andrew Bird
12. The Marching Line - Vanessa Carlton
13. Silhouettes - Of Monsters and Men
14. Glory - Steven Fiore
15. The A Team - Ed Sheeran


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ekaterina Panikanova

These book paintings by Ekaterina Panikanova are so unique and awesomely bizzare. I love her concept of using open books and notepads as a blank canvas, as well as the overlapping themes of cakes and antlers.
Like all of the art I post on here, I'd love one of these pieces installed in my apartment. One can only dream of owning real art one day...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup Black Bean Soup
Still on that soup kick! If you're in the mood for some spice and have been wanting your house to smell like b.o. then look no further than this 
Besides making my apartment smell like cumin for a week (given my garden unit is made for hobbits), it was a delicious, comforting and filling bowl of goodness. 
Black Bean Soup
What soups are your favorite to make in sub-zero temperatures?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mixtape Monday: What I am Listening to and Why

What I've been groovin' to lately - some new discoveries, some not.

1. Completely Not Me - Jenny Lewis (My all-time favorite singer teamed up with ROSTAM of Vampire Weekend on this song recorded for GIRLS. The stars have aligned.)

2. Like a Dream - Francis and the Lights (The video does it all for me.)

3. Run - Delta Rae (very inspiring and invigorating)

4. Young Fathers - Typhoon (for fans of Frightened Rabbit)

5. Lit from Underneath - Andrew Bird 

6. Anoanimal - Andrew Bird (His song from a while ago, but one of my favorites that I've never shared.)

7. Bravado - Lorde

8. Alice - Mononoke (If you like CocoRosie and Florence and the Machine, you'll love them.)

9. Hangover - Charlotte OC (sexy)

10. Falling - Amy Stroup (reminds me of Lykke Li)

11. Ephemera - GEMS (hazy, beach house music)

12. Black Window - Superhumanoids (soothing electronic)

13. Alley Cats - Hot Chip

14. When the Night - St. Lucia (belongs at the end of a John Hughes film)

15. Nostroke - Saol Álainn


Friday, January 17, 2014

Beef Ragout with Mashed Cauliflower

Beef Ragout with Mashed Cauliflower Beef Ragout with Mashed Cauliflower
Hot foods only, now that Chicago is in the single - and sometimes negative - digits. 
I recently tried out this 
and it satiated all my comfort food cravings, while still being healthy and wallet friendly. I followed the recipe verbatim, except for that I used Greek Seasoning in place of all the herbs, because all those herbs comprise that seasoning - just saves a few extra steps and purchases. 
Beef Ragout with Mashed Cauliflower
What are you making this winter?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Best Albums of 2013

What I thought the best albums of 2013 were and why:
Best Album of the Year: Rhye Woman
This new act is most intriguing, comprised of 2 men who only perform in silhouette. Lead singer Michael Milosh's falsetto voice is androgynous and Sade-like, making their music sexy (and like a smooth operator). Some tracks are danceable, some are just chill, combining organic instruments as well as synthetic ones. It's smooth R&B, playing tribute to the 90's, but not in a tacky way. There are no filler tracks on Woman and while the whole album is cohesive, no two songs are quite the same. Woman is a triumph start to finish - seductive, passionate, gorgeous and lush. 

"Oh, I'm famished.
So I'll eat your minerals
Like a rabid beast at a foolish feast
I'll steal your breath,
Like a twisted thief with a mangled glove,
It's just my nature, I ruin love"
 - 3 Days

Check out: "Open" a beautiful, orchestral opening track, "The Fall" has great tempo and heartbreaking lyrics, and "Verse" is chilly and hypnotic.
2nd: She & Him Volume 3
You would think these two would run out of sun-soaked melodies and lyrics, but they haven't. Retro pop at it's best, a 3rd (or 4th) time around. I've always loved Zooey's deep yet girlish voice, she really seems to have grown on this one. Volume 3's  lyrics are the best they've ever been, more personal, while still maintaining an aesthetic that is fit for any 60's movie soundtrack. There are bits of country twang thrown in there, per usual, as well as their signature surfer melodies and M. Ward's Spanish guitar thrills. She & Him make a dreamy pair and am looking forward to Volume 4.

"Sometimes, oh, sometimes,
I think I can fade away
In the light, oh, the light
Of an ever sunny day
But I'm stronger than the picture that you took before you left
In the light, it faded to white.
In the light, the colors turn to white"
 - Fade to White

Check out: "London" is a rainy ode to the city, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" is a throwback that is insanely catchy, and "Shadow of Love" is easy listening with a Spanish flair. 
3rd: Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City
Vampy Week delivered their 3rd album and it's all new tricks. They had outside producing help for the first time making their sound a little innovative and less predictable. The ominous black and white album art depicts what the album's themes are going to be - aging, death, and religion. Their sound has matured and evolved, either taking their fans along for the ride or losing them completely. Vampy Week still has their trademark harpsichord and African drums riddled throughout the album. Some songs follow a formula, while others are discombobulated, but seemingly with a purpose. I, for one, love the growth and the new direction they've taken. Modern Vampires of the City is energetic with a big sound - and lyrical commentaries to boot. 

"We know the fire awaits unbelievers
All of the sinners the same
Girl, you and I will die unbelievers
Bound to the tracks of the train"
 - Unbelievers

Check out: "Obvious Bicycle" is a great, sunny morning song, "Step" has that harpsichord beat they're known for, "Hannah Hunt" crescendos beautifully at the end, and "Worship You" reminds me a lot of this song
4th: CHVRCHES The Bones Of What You Believe
I have been anticipating this record for some time, getting all the EP's and singles as I could in the meantime - and it was all worth it. Heavy synth pop, similar to M83, but with a little angelic voice singing the songs instead. The tough, electronic music in contrast with lead singer Lauren Mayberry's intense yet dainty voice makes for a unique, authentic sound. This album has many epic moments on it with a few nod's to the 80's. Listen to The Bones of What You Believe at the loudest volume possible for maximum enjoyment. 

"I'll be a thorn in your side
Till you die
I'll be a thorn in your side
For always
We sink
We lift our love"
 - We Sink

Check out: "Gun" is a glittering, hold'em up song, "The Mother We Share" has a sleek melody with thoughtful lyrics, and "Tether" builds and builds to a M83/cinematic sound. 
5th: Neko Case The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
It's been a long 4 years since her last album, but the time she took to make this one was all worth the wait. Neko's deep, earthy voice has an inviting and comforting quality to it, even when she's singing about bouts of depression and other painful subjects, like she does on The Worse Things Get... Her lyrics on this album are raw - more emotional and personal than ever. Neko's Americana-folk sound with a punk edge is unwavering, but still makes room for quieter numbers. The deluxe version of this album is so worth it, purely for her updated song "Magpie to the Morning" (previously on Middle Cyclone). 

"Cease to know or to tell or to see
Or to be your own...
Have someone else's will as your own...
You are beautiful and you are alone"
 - Afraid

Check out: "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu" my absolute favorite on this album -heartbreaking, haunting and a story that Neko witnessed herself, "Calling Cards" is low-key yet stunning, and "Bracing for Sunday" is a fast-paced, Christianity-laced humorous song. 
6th: Lorde Pure Heroine
I want to be this 17 year-old when I grow up. And have her New Zealand accent. Lorde's hype is well-deserved. She's got this coolness about her and seems so self-aware and confident, just like her music and aesthetic. You won't hear her singing a love song or twerking on stage - and that's why she is so refreshing for 2013. 

"But every song's like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin' in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin' the hotel room,
We don't care, we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams
But everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair"
 - Royals

Check out: "Ribs" is a pulsing, bass heavy tune, "White Teeth Teens" has a great melody and cool voice layering, and "Tennis Court" talks it up like yeah - yeah!
7th: HAIM Days are Gone
Another highly anticipated debut for me, HAIM delivered exactly what I wanted. You can tell this trio of sisters are inspired by legendary acts like Fleetwood Mac, but also modern ones like Jenny Lewis and The Strokes. It's a solid pop-rock album, heavy on the rock. HAIM's lyrics and melodies are catchy, adrenalized, and downright groovy. 

"He's in her heart on the floor
Thinking that I'll never know
I'll be up, going through crazy shit I did for you
In my mind, in my head seeing all the words unsaid
Honey, honey, I am never coming home again"
- My Song 5

Check out: "Don't Save Me" is a fun song to sing along and move to, "Forever" has an 80's pop/summery vibe, and "Falling" is so suave. 
What were your favorite albums of 2013?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 {year of the big move}

chicago thai pizza Charleston iop
I decided to visit Chicago at the worst time of year, because if I could like it despite the weather then, I could like it anytime of the year. It really solidified for me that that's where I wanted to be. I took a drop-in Second City class and saw one of their sketch shows. Feel in love with the form. I originally flew in to Milwaukee to visit a friend and then we drove into the city. It felt like being in a different country, with all the snow and such.
Lots of cosy coffee dates with girlfriends, and daydreaming about travel because a few of my best friends were all over the world - Denmark, Australia, Peru...
Began seeing as many Oscar nod films as I could (I've now seen Zero Dark Thirty an embarrasing amount of times). 30 Rock ended and along with my pulse. 

Mardi Gras came early this year and fell close to my grandmother's birthday, so I made her a homemade king cake (my first ever, I was pretty proud of myself). My maternal family roots are in Mobile, AL (the birthplace of Mardi Gras), as well as New Orleans. For Valentines Day, I made some sassy sugar cookies, as well as this Thai Chicken Pizza. Keeping with my parent's tradition for nachos on Super Bowl Sunday, we made Gyro Nachos. They were a hit. Chinese New Year happened, declaring 2013 Year of the Snake (1989, my year, baby!). Also had this song on repeat.

I returned to Charleston to visit with college friends, it was warm and green as always. Saw St. Lucia and HAERTS live, in all their glory. Shared a tutorial for a Stacked Teacup Stand and made a delicious Lentil Salad. Also celebrated Easter with family. Kate Boy was my jam.

Made another visit to Charleston because one of my friends, who was living in Denmark at the time, would also be in town. We ate chicken waffle tacos, walked along the beach, and defaced things with googly eyes. Went out on the town with co-workers and college friends, soaking up the ATL while I still could. Enjoyed the crisp, spring weather and blossoming trees.
spring chicago asheville lake michigan
Visited Charleston for the last time in a while - a best friend who just finished traveling Peru was also there. Lots of catching up, laughing, and eating chocolate - what we do best. I made a really cool computer sleeve with Caseable, using my photos from Morocco. My birthday and Mother's Day fell on the same day this year, so we had tacos and went to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the High Museum. Exactly how I wanted to spend it. Celebrated later that week with friends at the bars. Work was busy with graduation cakes and the start of wedding season. Made this Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea salad.

My 5-year high school reunion happened (only in Catholic school) and it was really interesting to see everyone and talk to people that I normally didn't in high school. Hoping to make it to the 10-year. I made this Keyboard Frame for Father's Day and shared a tip about coffee ice cubes. Fell for the sound of Rhye and desperately wanted to see this art installation. Trekked to Chicago with my dad to find an apartment. After a few days we found it with time to spare. It's crazy to think about how much our opinion changed from the first time we saw it, all the way to signing the lease. It was a fixer upper, and now it's home. Also binge-watched the new Arrested Developement, I personally loved it.

Such a full, busy month trying to see everyone and pack up my life before I moved. A best friend from college came in town for her birthday week, so we were able to spend a lot of quality time together. Since she loves all things British, I made her this Pimm's Cake. Met up with my friend Kelsey (Peru) in Asheville, NC who was working as a raft guide on the river. A friend let us stay at her apartment and we spend a few days exploring the city, sharing as much food as we could, and watching some Netflix movies. We take vacations very very well together. I went out lots with my high school, college and work friends right before leaving. They were all great send-off's. I left my job of 4 years, and my mentor. It was very emotional. Started buying and packing for Chicago.

Moved into the apartment on the 1st and spent the rest of the week with my parents getting everything in place and fixin' it all up. The day they left was the most emotional day for me, I have tried not to cry since. My roommate didn't arrive until 2 weeks later, so I spend my time unemployed by exploring the city and binge watching Orange is the New Black. I was very fortunate that I got a full-time job only a week and a half after moving there. Second City classes started at the end of the month and I began making friends through that and learning the improv comedy form.
roygbiv farmer's market big sur macy's windows
Started seeing some improv shows around town and making friends with co-workers. Saw MS MR live with my roommate who luckily shares my taste in music. Went to the Renegade Craft Fair and got some goodies for the apartment. Made this Curry Pita Bowl and sent my dad some Coconut Almond Macaroons for his birthday. I couldn't get this song out of my head.

Fall looks so good on Chicago - all the colors are so vibrant, it took me by surprise. Hannah and I finally ventured into the farmer's market downtown. My parents came in the middle of the month for a visit. We saw a Second City show, took an architectural boat tour, explored Andersonville and ate our way around town. Had Lou Malnati's Deep Dish and we finally became fans of the Chicago-style pizza. Continued making new friends and ended the month at a birthday party/Halloween bash with improv peeps (my costume this year was a Deer in Headlights).

Met up with my parents in San Francisco for a pre-Thanksgiving trip. We drove along Highway 1, Big Sur, spent a few days in Carmel, did Muir Woods and wandered around the Mission district of SF. It was a wonderful, scenic trip that was equally re-juvenating. Since I worked on Thanksgiving, a co-worker invited me over to her place for dinner. I made my Southwestern Corn Casserole and Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows. She was such a gracious host and everyone there made it a great company- it was a good first holiday spent without family. This month I also cooked up some Sausage and Kale Soup as well as some Slow Cooker Asian Chicken.

Loved experiencing Chicago during Christmas - the Renegade Craft Fair, Andrew Bird concert in an old church, Zoolights, Christkindlmarket, Macy's windows, the inches and inches of snow! It's hard not to be giddy about it all. Saw Anchorman 2 at midnight with a friend who is just as obsessed - and also saw Frozen (phenomenal). I flew home on Christmas Eve for 9 days and spent quality time with family and friends. 
Sometimes I cannot believe I made it here to Chicago. A year ago I wasn't sure when I would be moving or who I would be living with or what I would be doing there. But I freakin' did it! Getting to this point wasn't easy, nor was getting everyone on board, but I think friends and family and most importantly myself know that this is where I supposed to be right now. I am not taking this time for granted, but I am extremely grateful for the way things have turned out. 
For 2014, I'm looking forward to making more friends and spending more time with the ones I do have,  involving myself more with the comedy scene (that's all on me) and continuing strong relationships with my friends who are far away. 

Happy New Years!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Atlanta Lately...

fire and wine paris on ponce
On Christmas night, my dad fired up the chiminea and made some hot mulled wine // Catting around town with one of my college besties, Claire, whose home base is also ATL. It was  I cannot believe we didn't document all the food we ate...
icebox cake
One of my best friends from high school, Victoria, spent her med-school break at home. She's currently studying in Australia and we hadn't seen each other in a year. During high school and college, my family used to go over to her house for paella and Spanish tapas. Since we were both home, the tradition rallied on. I usually make the dessert, and this time I made this Chocolate Peppermint Icebox Yule Log from Joy the Baker - it was a big hit (note: I used Andes Peppermint Chips instead of the candy canes). 
It had been 5 months since I was last home and in some ways it had seemed much longer. There was lots of running around and meeting up with high school and college friends, but also quality family time. As much as I was excited to get back to Chicago, 9 days seemed too short to be at home and I wanted more time. Many moments weren't documented, but I always try to look at that in a good way - you're enjoying your time and are being fully present.
xmas morning clint!
Since my mom decorated the house for Christmas with a Mardi Gras-theme, we had King Cake and champagne with orange juice ice cubes for breakfast. // Breakfast with Clint!
close-up of said delicious paella
baby me
Being home means going through baby pictures....

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mixtape Monday: Best Songs of 2013

This list is accounted separately from the Best Albums of 2013, which will be posted later this week - and is also formed by my personal music taste, read: NO MILEY. 
(in order)

1. Think of You - MS MR (What a great anthem - "I still think of you and all the sh*t you put me through..." plus they were great in concert!)

2. Waitin' - Caitlin Rose (For some reason this songs reminds me of a sitcom intro song, Carol King meets Ben Folds.)

3. Bad Habit - Foals (This is such a powerfully epic song on par with their single"Spanish Sahara," plus the video is pretty cool too.) 

4. Wildest Moments - Jessie Ware (Her album Devotion, brought back 90's R&B with a fresh sound - this single is super catchy too.)

5. Black Roses - Escondido (Southwestern vibe with a touch of Neko Case)

6. The Way We Are - Kate Boy (I'm ready for them to release an album already, their first single was featured on 2012's list.)

7. Over the Love - Florence + the Machine (Flo's single for The Great Gatsby which is just as dramatic and haunting as it should be.)

8. Metal & Dust - London Grammar (They've got such a sleek, sultry sound that is just so effortlessly cool.)

9. Oblivion (feat. Susanne Sundfør) - M83 (Finally, M83 scored a film, not my favorite movie, but the soundtrack is futuristic and cinematic and all around phenomenal. This song deserves the loudest volume possible.)

10. Never Age - GEMS (So pleased that this band was introduced to me this year, dream pop at it's best.)

11. Hemiplegia - HAERTS (Synth-pop with a warm, fuzzy feel - their debut album will drop early this year, so thats something to look forward to.)

12. New Lover - Josh Ritter (A lush, folksy song with heartbreaking lyrics.)

13. Bourgeois - Phoenix (Favorite song off Bankrupt! with a sound similar to "Love Like a Sunset, Pt. II.")

14. Despair - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (I have long been a fan of Karen O and the gang, and how their sound has evolved through the years. This single is reminiscent of their early song, "Maps.")

15. Change Your Life (ft. T.I.) - Iggy Azalea (This Australian model turned Southern rapper is my favorite person of the moment. Her videos are gorgeous and her songs are catchy. I love when white girls can prove their game.)

16. Mirrors - Justin Timberlake (20/20 did not disappoint, neither did his various appearances on Jimmy Fallon and SNL this year.)

17. Here I Am - Adam Green / Binki Shapiro (for fans of: She & Him, Little Joy and the 60's)

18. I'm Not Your Hero - Tegan and Sara (Heartthrob was a great direction for T&S to take into the electro-pop world. Lots of danceable songs that are a little less angsty than their previous work.)

19. Pretty Boy - Young Galaxy ("And I know you feel isolated / And I feel what you won't say / I don't care if the disbelievers / Don't understand, you're my pretty boy, always.")

20. Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams) - Daft Punk (70's soul train music, my song of the summer)

21. Work  - Iggy Azalea ("I be work work work work...")

22. Pulaski At Night - Andrew Bird (Released just in time for his Gezelligheid concert series, which I luckily attended. This EP has so much to do with Chicago, and has a big place in my heart right now.)

23. It All Feels Right - Washed Out (tropical synth pop)

24. Do What U Want (feat. R. Kelly) - Lady Gaga (I am a Little Monster, and I have to say that while Artpop isn't my favorite Mother Monster album, it's super great to workout to!)

25. Elastic Heart (feat. The Weeknd, Diplo) - Sia (a standout from the Catching Fire Soundtrack)

hear 'em all:
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