Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Hobbit Day!

Guess what I'm doing at midnight?! Sorry, that was a pretty obvious question. Of course I'm going to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and of course I'm a giddy mess about it. But I'm also trying to fight off a cold, so my head is rather foggy, and all I've wanted to do for days is sleep. All day at work I was planning on coming home and taking a nap before the midnight madness, but seeing as it's already past 7:00 it's pretty unlikely. I'm far too easily distracted, and if I get warm and comfortable now I might not wake back up (and then I would cry). Instead, I've been listening to past movie soundtracks to get in the mood, occasionally whispering things to my replica of The One Ring and perfecting my Gollum voice (the phlegm really helps).

I've also been thinking about what a big Tolkien nerd I am, and all the wonderful times I've had fully embracing that. Because being a nerd is awesome (just ask Will Wheaton). I first saw LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring on my 18th birthday. Aside from my immediate family, the only person who remembered it was my birthday that day was my best friend Heather. I pretty much spent the whole day in a mini depressive state (the fact that January is a terribly cold and grey month really never helps) and I'm sure I was wrestling with the notion of being a legal adult and what that was supposed to mean to my life. I think I had already made up my mind that I was moving away for school, but I know I was never fully comfortable in my 'home'. So instead of going out and buying porn and cigarettes to celebrate my 18th, I went to the theater and bought into a whole new world. I was hooked.

Cue LOTR poster on my dorm wall, soundtrack memorized note for note, replicas of as many movie props as I could reasonably convince my parents I needed. I'm such a big nerd that I even took a class at college on Tolkien and Lewis (it was an Honors class, and I read soooo much). But this was also the thing that got me hooked on midnight screenings and gave me a love for super crazy fandoms. I remember planning to see Return of the King with some of my cousins who were all going to be coming to a family gathering in KY. There is nothing in that town but a mall and a not-so-fabulous movie theater, but they were having a midnight show, and we were going. Except that they had had a twelve-ish hour drive (compared to my three) and had all decided to pass out (aka sleep. Weaklings). I had been looking forward to this for a really long time, and my dad could see that I was kind of crushed. So he took me. Confession: my dad's also a pretty big nerd, but more on the X-Files government conspiracy I-think-Roswell-has-aliens spectrum. We get out of that theater around 3:30 AM completely jazzed up, crawling out of our skins with Mt Dew overload, and looking for something to eat. And there was NOTHING open. No gas station with munchies, no grocery store, no fast food, no doughnut places, NOTHING. So we go back to the house (where there were people sleeping all over the floor, yay togetherness and cheapness) and try to find something quiet to eat in the kitchen. Well we're not quiet together, we're giggily, especially at that hour, and I don't remember what we found to eat, but I remember being shushed several times and thinking the whole thing was hilarious, and what a great time I had with my dad. The next afternoon I went to the theater again with my cousins to watch it a second time, and that was the first time I saw the same movie twice in less than 24 hours (but not the last). That was a pretty fantastic day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I Actually Finished Something!

That's right people. After a year (and then some) I have finally finished my first furniture refinishing project!!  YAY!!!! I know, at this rate I will get my house in order just in time for me to die and have it all picked over by strangers in a best-of-the-best estate sale, but I'm excited now, so let me have this.

I bought this table for $5 at Goodwill. I wanted something to practice on before I went ahead and made a mess of the dining room furniture (which a lovely former coworker gave us... I am excessively cheap). This was before I started blogging, so I'm sorry, but there is no true before pic, but it's basically like every other crappy wood laminate table from the 70's. Use your imagination.

After some research I decided to try the Rust-Oleum Furniture Transformations Kit in Charcoal (without glaze).
Fresh paint, mmmm

This is where my imagination got me in trouble. It would have looked perfectly fine like that. But I just saw that little grove going around the edge, and it was screaming for something more. Like maybe a mirror top....
which lead to more research and a trip out to Robinson and the Hobby Lobby with my sister-in-law (I had two coupons so I needed two people...) to buy Krylon Looking Glass spray paint. There are soo many things you can do with this! I have more ideas than time (and obviously follow-through). Add them all to the "some day" pile. 

Gaaa! Streaks! 
Except for the streaks, it was everything I dreamed it would be. Also, you really shouldn't let a perfectionist paint. It takes much longer than it should, and we're never happy with it. This is how the table looked for the majority of the year. I did the top coat on the main table, and that went well, but when it came to the door the whole thing dried milky, and I had to re-strip and start over (I'm pretty sure that's when all the motivation left me). I finally got a much smaller brush, took a painstakingly long time with it in a room wearing my ventilator, and after a couple of days (over a couple of weeks) managed to get it finished.

Silver and Grey

And put back together! I'll admit, I painted the wrong side of the hinges (previously brass colored, now silver) and made my brain hurt trying to make them go on the way I thought they should, but that's a touch-up for another day. As far as I'm concerned, this bad boy is done. It has a new home in the living room with the lamp base I got at Target (70% off) and the lamp shade I picked up at a film set dressings sale for $5 (TFIOS. Can't wait to see the movie!) Here's hoping this (minor) accomplishment will motivate me to tackle the next big thing... painting the buffet table with chalk paint. Wish me luck!

Feels like Home...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Halloween Hangover

Free Time?! Where?! I need it!

I've had several people tell me that I have more activities going on than their kids, and I guess I should be proud of myself for not giving up on the things I enjoy just because I'm an "adult", but seriously, sometimes I just want a nap. I'm still recovering from last week, but it was so amazing that I really don't mind the energy suck.

Last Monday I took my fabulous brother-in-law to a costume gala held by the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre (PICT). I only found out about it a few days before the event, and it was a scramble to find someone to go with. Because I had to be there. The guest of honor for the night was....wait for it.....Joffrey from Game of Thrones. Eeeeee!!! If you have the opportunity to get drunk at an open bar while wearing a costume in the presence of the sadistic boy/king of Westeros, all while supporting the Arts, you HAVE to do it. I'm pretty sure my text to my brother went something like: "You want to go get drunk with me and King Joffrey?" "Um, YES!" It's so nice to have people around who are willing to participate in my crazy shenanigans, even on a Monday (when they're starting a new job the next day. We're clearly responsible.)

I ran to the Halloween store last minute to find something to throw together, but the things I bought were crap when I got them home, so I had to go shopping in my closet. I decided to try my new pinstripe corset over a purple blouse I've had for a million years and never wear any more (this is why I hoard!). My first thought when I saw them together was of Regina from Once Upon A Time, so I busted out a purple and black ballgown skirt that I had from a high school homecoming dance (another win for hoarding)... and that's when I entered the world of wardrobe malfunctions. Lacing up your own corset is hard enough, and I was really thankful for all the yoga, but I really should have put the skirt on first. I may still be a fairly small person, but my waist is not the same size as sophomore me. Let's just say I got a little stuck. Once I FINALLY got myself in the skirt there was no way in hell it was going to zip up. So I just jammed the whole top of the skirt up underneath the corset as far as it would go. And that little effer was tight. Luckily I avoided any additional mishaps, and no one at the event saw my bum, so it worked out.

Poison apple anyone?

Brother initially had on the classic cat ears and tail to go with his regular clothes, but after some older society women spent a while gushing about our costumes, I decided he should be Sheriff Graham aka Sheriff Skinnyjeans from the first season of OUAT. Yay for pretending we coordinated costumes!!  We're both horribly awkward people, so it took pretty much the whole night for us to work up the courage to ask for a picture with Joffrey (real name Jack Gleeson, who is insanely nice in real life). And by 'work up the courage' I really mean 'get drunk enough not to care about being rude'. Worth it!

Actual Halloween night was also amazing. I went with the bestie to see a screening of the National Theatre Live production of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. Benny was the monster, so he spent a good portion of the show only partially clothed (yay!) but mostly covered in scar monster type makeup. Still incredibly attractive. I'll admit, as a HUGE fan of Sherlock, I thought I understood how talented he was... I had no idea. This performance literally left my mouth hanging wide open, full-on amazed and in awe. Everyone should see it. But they won't release in on DVD, so if I find out about another screening you can bet I'll be there. I'm addicted. This little clip just gives you a taste of how amazing it was. And the sets!! Hanging light bulbs, a rotating corkscrew of a stage... I can't even talk about it. I have no words. So imma go now... watch this again.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

How is it almost the end of October?! *shudder* I love it, but really, I'm no where near emotionally ready to handle the Holiday season. So I'm going to crawl back into the arms of my gothic fantasies and stay there.

On that note, meet my new favorite thing! Dracula. I know, you think you've met before. But this time he's all mine. It's all pretty steampunk Victorian vampire secret society shenanigans, complete with high class snark. I'm pretty sure someone crawled in my head and made it just for me.

When I started this blog it was because I wanted to write more, and write regularly. Well, now I'm doing it Dracula style... I will be writing for the website Fangirlish doing episode recaps, and generally anything I feel like doing related to the show. Eeeeee!!!!! So I might be a little spastic and sporadic for a while, but I'm pretty stinking excited. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to need a print of this photo to hang on my wall.

Electric Light Dracula

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pick Me! Columbus Day thrifts.

So Monday was Columbus Day, and naturally I celebrated by going thrifting. What better way to celebrate "discovery" than by going out in search of treasures that previously belonged to someone else? (Insert rant on colonization and the rights of indigenous peoples here). Deep breath. 

On to sparkly things! We started out by going to a thrift store that a lot of people talk about but that I'd never been to, Red White and Blue Thrift Shop in the South Hills. I got rather excited when we walked in, because most clothing was on sale at 50% off.  And they organize by color. I always attempt to do this in my closet, and it lasts for a bit, but then I get obsessed with dividing by genre and too many subcategories end up ruining it. Oh well. I had a decent armload of stuff when we decided to try things on and discovered there were NO CHANGING ROOMS. I kid you not. And the place is cash only, with a sign posted for no returns and no exchanges. I’m sorry, but I’m not giving you a penny for anything if I can’t try it on first and you won’t let me bring it back if it sucks (which it probably will). So, all the clothes went back to the racks.

 Things that you don’t need to try on? Wallets! I found this little pretty, and it reminds me of all the fancy journals that I buy in bookstores with good intentions and never end up using (I’ll get to them eventually!).  I need to find the perfect use for this, and since my purse situation is a perpetual disaster area I’m thinking I’ll use this to organize all the artist business cards I keep collecting from festivals. I’d be hardcore broke if I bought every beautiful thing I see, but you never know when you’ll need to bust out the perfect gift (or engage in some retail therapy) so I have a lot of cards saved.

Pretty old things.

There was also a wall of semi-crafty things, and I found little bags of mixed rubber stamps. I’m not a scrapbooker, but I do love Halloween, and I found a bag that was mostly holiday theme stamps…and heavy on the candy corn. Oh, there was also a stamp of a vintage sewing machine. That  meant I had to have it. 

Sew cute! (Couldn't help myself...)

After that, it was on to Goodwill. I guess the thrifting gods wanted me to continue with my holiday theme, because I found this brass horn that will be perfect for Christmas. Think big red bows and garland over a mantle. I usually get really angry if people try to make me think of Christmas-y things before Halloween (choir music not withstanding), but I'll admit I got a little giddy thinking about where I was going to put it. 

Bust out the carols!
I also found this small glass cloche which I had to have. I always have to have all the glass display bottles and jars. I'm a hoarder in the making here. I'm pretty sure I won't stop till everything I own is sorted and displayed under/in/behind glass. Please start buying me windex. 

For fruits. And cheese. And candles. 

We had plans to hit some more thrift shops, but when we stopped for lunch and had pumpkin soup and bread, we decided to finish the day out at Soergel's. Now I've got several pie pumpkins in need of roasting, some delicious squash for soups, and some cranberry cinnamon cheese that I might eat in one sitting. Cheese is magic.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I'm In Love With Some Really Old Chairs

Last Saturday I got to do something really cool. My friend Emily and I volunteered to help set up for an event at the Braddock Carnegie Library, part of the Carnegie International this year.  We set up tables and moved around media displays (my shoulder still hurts) to get the place ready for All You Can Art, the kickoff of the Art Lending Collection, where you can check out pieces of artwork just like a book—you just need your library card.  How cool is that?! I had never been there before, so getting to explore the library building was pretty much like Christmas for me. I really recommend reading a little about the history HERE, but basically this library was the very first of all the Carnegie libraries, and it was almost demolished, but some seriously amazing people saved it, and are still in the process of bringing it all back to life.

Soo pretty

I love things with a history, and old buildings in particular. I like something with a story, even if the rest of the world has long since cast it aside. I’ve spent hours before on Flickr and Pinterest looking at pictures of urban decay, and marveling at how something so broken can still be unspeakably beautiful.

Empty chairs...

And every now and then you get people who love the broken thing so much that they are willing to try and put it back together, to give it new purpose. In our wanderings around the building (trying to find where the stash of tables lived) we came upon the auditorium, with rows of patchy velvet cushioned chairs that haven’t seen a proper audience in years. There, working after hours by himself, was awesome library guy. I feel terrible, I forget his name, but he’s amazing—working to replace the tiered floor that had been too damaged to support new seating. He said they originally just intended to reupholster the chairs, but as they took them out they found that the chairs were pretty much the only thing holding up the floor. This looks to be a huge undertaking, and I wish I had carpentry skills so that I could help them… I just felt an overwhelming love for that building and that room. When it’s done I’m going to the first performance, I don’t care what it is.

Balcony and new floors. 

Awesome Library Guy also makes picture frames out of the old pieces of wood, and I just happened to have cash with me (which never happens) so I picked out a nice frame to bring home with me. They also sell the frames behind the checkout desk, and he takes orders, so go buy some history. 

New chair prototype using the original ironworks.

Here's a really good article about the Art Lending Collection and the people who put it together: CLICK ME
Also, sorry the pictures aren't the best. All I had was my craptacular phone... if I had known the building was going to be a photographic treasure trove I would have brought the good camera. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Captain Phillips: Reporting for Nachos

The EW Fall Movie Preview already came out, early Oscar buzz is floating gently in the air, and leaves are turning spectacular shades of scarlet: my favorite time of year is officially here! This is the time of year when I start going into movie nerd mode. I talk about directors and their previous works like an obsessive sophomore film student. I say really pretentious things like “That performance was so powerfully understated.” (No, really. It’s happened.)  I start to plan my own movie double feature days so that I can see as many film festival darlings as possible in the (very) limited time they stay in theaters. In short: I go a little crazy.

Essential reading. And I want that coat. 

Wednesday I kicked off Movie-binge 2013-14 properly with advance screening passes to see Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks. Based on a true story, with Hanks in the lead, it practically screams “Hey, Oscar! Look over here!”  I seem to be very busy lately, and while I did think the film looked good based on the trailer, it probably would have fallen through the cracks in my schedule if it hadn’t been for the free passes.  So, thank you universe!

Pirate photobomb!

I’ll be honest, I was only vaguely aware of the real life event that inspired this movie. This is entirely my fault, but I rarely watch the news… it usually either depresses me or makes me so angry at the stupidity and hate in the world that I end up yelling “What the hell is wrong with people?!” over and over to my cats. And they never give any useful insight. So for people like me: SPOILER ALERT.
First cats on my blog... why did this take so long?!

Captain Phillips saves his crew, and some pirates die. The film did do an excellent job of creating tension, and I don’t think I’ve felt this claustrophobic in a theatre since Titanic. (Lesson here: never go on a boat. Ever.) Hanks is fantastic at playing the extraordinary everyman, and he is very good in this part. At this stage in his career though, it is impossible to disassociate him with his iconic roles. This is in no way meant as an insult, and if anything it’s a testament to his ability to make us care so deeply and for so long about his creations. However, this can create some unintentionally funny moments. Shots of a boat alone in a vast empty sea just make you want to scream “WILSON!!”  So you just end up quietly giggling to yourself, and you know it’s completely inappropriate, but that just makes you laugh harder. Or maybe that was just me…. It probably was. I’m disturbed.

My favorite part of the evening had nothing to do with the move. The bestie came with me, and because adults can eat whatever they want for dinner, we decided to get the biggest tub of popcorn ever. And a coke (of course). As we’re walking up the hallway to the theater, we see all these official looking guys in suits standing around a table, and think “Aw, are they giving us free snacks?!” It looked vaguely brown, and low to the table, so we’re thinking … “Is it nachos? Hot dogs? I hope it’s nachos, because yeah, I’d eat that. With the popcorn. Oh yeah, this is gonna be good.”  But as we get up to the table they do a security check and tell us we can’t bring our phones in, but they can hold them for us. In brown paper bags with a number written on them, like a little techie coat check. And in that moment I think we were both really disappointed that there were no nachos.

This is what happens when you Google 'sad nacho'. 

(Or were there? What’s a phone that isn’t yours? Nacho phone! ….. yeah, it’s midnight, and I know that’s a horrible joke. But this is my blog, and I’m going with it.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Once Upon A Time (In Pittsburgh)

There are some days that make you so happy, it actually starts to hurt.  Smile headaches are real, people. Last Friday I had myself a yin/yang kind of day… there were some truly stressful and terrible moments, but they were balanced out (and ultimately defeated) by the sound of a cello, a giant yellow duck, and one pumpkin cupcake.

When you work with the public, you’re bound to have some horror stories. One of mine yelled at me for a good twenty minutes. But it’s ok. Because every now and then you come across someone so nice it restores your faith in all of mankind. My faith came back disguised as a pumpkin (how very Cinderella of it).  Namely, a delicious pumpkin cupcake from Oakmont Bakery.  There was nothing I needed more at that moment than a smile and a sugar fix.

This is how you make friends. 

If only I had some glass slippers to go along with that pumpkin. It would have been very appropriate for the next part of my day. A friend had called the night before with an extra ticket to see Yo-Yo Ma perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  It was something I had really wanted to see, but with all my other concert shenanigans this summer, I initially passed on. However, you give me a call last-minute to see a sold-out show and of course I’m going to say yes. I had no idea what the program was going to be, but apparently the universe occasionally likes to see how giddy it can make me before I explode. “Once Upon A Time” was the theme, and the hall was decorated like a fairy garden, and all the lucky (rich) people were in tuxedos and ball gowns for the Gala Soiree.  Sigh.

Even the paper felt magical. 

The music was amazing. You could have heard a pin drop in that hall; everyone was so entranced by the quiet power of that cello.  There were also several pieces by Tchaikovsky, and a general giggle went around when everyone realized Disney had forever ruined the ability to listen to The Sleeping Beauty without trying to hum along (“I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream” …I dare you not to sing it).

On the walk out, I got to talk to some other singers about our love for Yo-Yo Ma and the amazing director, Manfred Honeck. I was lucky enough to work with him earlier in the year when he directed 2,000 voices and the PSO for Singing City. His movements are mesmerizing…  I literally spent hours one day watching You Tube videos of him conducting.

I'm adorable!

Then it was time to go see the star of the weekend. The Duck!! For The Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts this year we have been given the gift of happiness incarnate. And by that I mean there is a forty foot tall inflatable rubber duck floating in the river.  Just look at it, it’s so stinkin’ cute! Designed by artist Florentijn Hofman, it exists to make people smile, and it does a spectacular job of it.

Just watching everyone on the bridge walk by...

I overheard someone this weekend say that the duck has no purpose, as if creating happiness and joy in the world is a pointless exercise. This ruffled my feathers (couldn’t help it!). Political and social commentary is fine and good, and beauty is a wonderful thing to strive for, but bringing happiness to as many people as possible seems to me an excellent use of your energies. If more people sought only to create happiness, I’m sure the world would be a much better place. More ducks please!

Mr. Duck Goes to Pittsburgh

We were actually out late enough to see them pull the duck down to his current home by the point. Being me, I got a little distracted taking pictures, and started doing some light painting. I’m kind of in love with what happened.

Just light on the water... and magic.

So next in my infinite list of projects, I think I want to get them printed on canvas, or divide one into a triptych, or just make a really awesome series. This could be the thing to finally motivate me to get my Etsy shop up and running. So many possibilities!  I should probably take a nap first…

Modern Monet. Purrty!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

TV Talk

I love TV. Let me clarify: I love a good story. And just about any excuse for an awards show (sparkly dresses!!). So this has been a pretty great week. Sunday night was the Emmys, and I love me some NPH, especially when he sings. And especially when he sings with Nathan Fillion. I also love Nathan Fillion. I am filled to the brim with nerd love here people. 

As you know, I can get giddy-excited about little things, and this broadcast, while being a bit depressing (James Gandolfini and Cory Monteith tributes = sobbing) and occasionally boring (sorry Elton, and Carrie) had some gems. Merritt Wever wins my best speech of the night. Hell, best speech ever.  

That was the speech? It was obvious! It was pointless! It was... short! I loved it!

My runner up is Jeff Daniels, because I love The Newsroom, and because he was too stunned to spit out his gum. Seriously Jeff, you could have swallowed it. Or mashed it to the roof of your mouth.  I’m pretty sure I did that every day of High School, even in choir, and that could have choked me to death.  I know everyone is saying that his win was a HUGE upset, and that the show is horribly flawed, but I don’t care, I freaking love Will McAvoy and every single character on that show.
Ooh, and a special mention goes to Veep, and the way Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepted her award in character, with Tony Hale in full Gary mode right behind her, clutching her purse and feeding her lines. HBO is just the best. Gaaah, I love all the things.

Fun fact about me: I have been a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly since the seventh grade. Uninterrupted. I read about tons of movies I wasn’t even allowed to see yet (my parents were big believers in censorship). Mostly I just wanted it because it had lots of articles about Titanic that weren’t just “Ooh, Leo has such pretty hair.” (Obsession alert: I saw it seven times in the theatre. I have a model replica of the ship… still not put together… I suck at projects).

One of my favorite things: The EW Fall TV Preview! This is truly essential reading. Last year a friend was over and reading my copy, and we decided that there were too many good things on at the same time, and that in order to keep all our shows straight we needed to make a chart. Yup, I'm that dork that makes a graph before watching TV. This year I kept waiting and waiting and it never seemed to come. I was getting really worried. Bones was due to start in a week, and I still didn't have it. Then they said it was due out that Friday (yay!) but Saturday rolled around and I still didn't have it (panic attack!). So I requested a new one, and they wouldn't approve it because apparently there was some sort of reported delivery issue in my area (crying on the floor). It came Monday. Then I got out a ruler and made me a grid (lie. I used my cell phone, and that grid is squiggly as hell).  There are 13 shows written down. Sort of--I just wrote HBO down in the Sunday 9PM slot, because let's face it, I'll watch just about anything on that channel. I’m already something like two hours (three shows) behind in my viewing. Did I mention that TV stresses me out? 

Expect some full-on love rants in the very near future.  

Note: I have no idea why half of my text is in little white boxes. I'm just gonna go with "the computer hates me" and move on with my life.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Take Me Out To The Ballgame (Kinda)

Last Saturday I went to my very first baseball game in Pittsburgh. I've lived here for over ten years now, so don't think it's been a lack of time. I simply dislike sports. (I know, I'm in a bad city for that) I went because the choir I sing with got to perform the National Anthem. The last time I was at a baseball game was when my children's choir sang before a Reds game, so I guess I'm on a twenty-year cycle or something. The grass was very cushy, and I really wanted to take my shoes off and just shove my toes in and have a good wiggle, but I'm an adult, and for some awful reason we feel the need to behave in public when there are cameras on. When they announced us they got our name wrong, but we rocked it anyway. As soon as I got in to the park proper I grabbed a giant pretzel and began my evening of being totally confused and at the same time paranoid that a ball was going to hit me in the head. If you know me, or if you ever were in gym class with me, you'll know this is not an irrational fear. I swear to god, my head is like a magnet. 

Run from the purse snatchers!
Luckily, nothing hit me, except an overwhelming wave of cute... Pierogi Race!! This was hysterical. I'd heard people talk about it, but seeing it in person brought on a super size giggle fit. Seriously, grinning from ear to ear.  Guys hit balls, blah blah, we won, blah blah, ....and then there were FIREWORKS!!!  I'm putting it down in writing here: When I die, please cremate me and find a way to get my ashes made into fireworks. Then set them off over the river. I'd prefer to be either a purple or blue one (or the ones that come down all curly), but I have no idea if human remains alter the color of fireworks, so I'll leave the final decision to the professionals. This was, without a doubt, the best fireworks show I have ever seen. The city looked beautiful (when you squint it almost looked like you were at Disney with the castle in the background, except you still had your soul). I'm just going to let the pictures talk now. 

Soooo pretty! I'd go back just for the fireworks. Or set up camp on the top of the parking garage in the cultural district and see what the view looks like from another perspective. So I saw beautiful things, didn't get hit in the head, and spent a beautiful night out in a beautiful city. I'll call that a good night.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sweet Talk. With Peach Cupcakes.

If you know me, you'll already be familiar with my obsessive nature. If not, you'll get acquainted with it pretty quickly. I can go from "meh" to "oh-holy-crap-this-is-the-best-thing-ever!" faster than it took you to read that. It's a gift. So when I saw that Trader Joe's had these peaches in stock, I couldn't buy just one. That would have been rational. Nope, I needed two, on top of the CSA pickup I was already getting, and knowing we were going to be away for the weekend. Needless to say, when we got back I had almost overripe fruit and a fly problem. After two days of eating roughly half a dozen peaches for lunch, I knew it was time to bust out the big guns. Peach Cupcake Perfection. 

Mmmmmmm. Happiness. 

The recipe is actually one I modified, with the original calling for strawberries. I know several people who are allergic, and being the nice accommodating vegetarian I am, I know how much it sucks when someone makes a special treat you can't enjoy. (I'm also allergic to cashews. And people keep putting them in veggie burgers. Why?!) The original recipe is from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea (posted online here), and was included in the Food & Wine Best of the Best cookbook for that year. I got it as a gift, and it's pretty fantastic... I'm very tempted to get every year, but I'm fully aware I have a book problem, and I don't even make all the pinterest recipes I like... so yeah. That's on hold for a bit. 

On my favorite estate sale plate. With a bird, of course. 

This makes two dozen cupcakes, so they were divided and taken to work, where I have other people to help eat them. Not because I couldn't eat two dozen cupcakes, but because I really would eat two dozen of these cupcakes. And then I would explode, but it would be a very soft explosion, because of all the fluffy icing. And then my cats would eat me, and the circle of life would be complete. Wait, what? Never mind. 

The perfect bowl for cupcake icing. 

I don't like a lot of icing, even if it is as delicious as this is, so I always have a ton left over. I'm a big believer in proper proportions... the icing should not double the height of the cupcake. That's just creating a lot of unnecessary texture issues. So apologies if you like really pretty piped icing. I swirl it on with a cute little knife and then I eat it. Because that's what you're really supposed to do. Eat. The. Cupcake. The best part about leftover icing is finding random things to put it on. Personally, I use it as an excuse to buy a giant tub of animal crackers. And it's a good use for all the graham crackers that never found meaningful life fulfillment as s'mores.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ren Fest 2013

As promised, pics from the PA Ren Fest!! Yaaay! I know you're excited, so let's dive right in. 

In silks

I love aerialists, so right off the bat the hanging silks from this stage called to me. I didn't even have a drink yet (that was quickly remedied) or anything to snack on (that took a while... I kept getting distracted) but I didn't care. I was going to sit there and watch the whole thing. Confession: I'm a bit of a Groupon addict, and I once bought a fitness class pass that included aerial yoga and and aerial silks class. It was magical, and the silks tried to cut my legs off from the rest of my body, but I loved it and kind of want to be a bad-ass aerialist diva when I grow up. 

Gaaa, I want to do that!

In between all the amazing things, this show was a bit silly. And I like silly, and corny, and terrible TERRIBLE puns. Love them. I'm a huge dork. But potentially not as big a dork as the girl who brought her violin with her to Ren Fest. I don't know if she did some impromptu busking while she was there, but I saw here everywhere, and she rocks. 

Dueling violins?
Every year there's something new to see, and there isn't enough time in the day to see everything. So this year was my very first time watching the glass blowing demonstration. It was quite toasty. I'm really impressed with everyone who can do this king of thing, since I can barely turn around in my kitchen without breaking something. And because everything there was beautiful. I bought an ornament to hang in my kitchen window, if I can rig up a hook that isn't going to send my new sparkly to an untimely death. 

Really hot things.

I don't really want to put this one up, but it's a whole 'circle of life' kind of thing, and honestly it's pretty amazing. Just sitting there in the bushes between a very busy path, I saw a butterfly. So I decided to take a picture, since it seemed to be pretty attached to that flower. But no! It was attached to the mouth of a giant preying mantis. Who was eating its brains. Nature is messed up. 

Zombie mantis.

So of course I needed therapy after that. In the absence of actual licensed professionals (the tarot readers don't count) I had to turn to retail therapy, and it worked pretty well. Last year I got a ring from the same booth, and I must say, I love them. It took me a good long while to decide, and at one point I'm pretty sure I had a ring on every finger, but I managed to find a favorite. 

My (new) precious. 
I also got lost for a bit in a series of shops that go back into a little hill. They make me positively giddy, I feel like I'm in a Hobbit hole, or the home of a very clean fairy. Everywhere you look there are piles and drawers full of the cutest miniatures and soaps and candles and things that sparkle (sigh, I want to live there). 


 There were too many performances, and we tried to see the big ones, but you know if people are playing with fire that I need to be there. If there are three people playing with fire, and one of them is standing on top of the other... well, that's friggin' awesome.

Look what I can do!

You can't just stand on your friend and juggle flaming sticks though, everyone does that. If you really want to make an impression, you need to do learn how to make yourself into a dragon. Or at least breathe fire like one. 

Don't hiccup... 

 So yeah, Ren Fest 2013 was definitely a success. I drank too much, ate too much, and took over 300 pictures (and some of them aren't terrible!). Now I have a year to recover before we do it again...

Don't forget to stop in the gift shop!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My Week (Don't Drink & Blog)

I’m going to try and post at least once a week here… my last post was over a week ago, so I already fail. Yay! Here’s what I’ve been up to.

I was going to write a review of the Mumford & Sons concert I went to last Thursday, but if you already love them then you know how amazing they are, and if you don’t I’m pretty sure me rambling on and on about how their shows are pretty much the closest thing a non-religious person can get to an authentic transcendent spiritual experience still won’t be enough to convince you of their power. Also, I saw them last year, in better seats, and your first time will always be the most memorable. The lyrics were still able to connect though, and constantly put me in awe of what the right words together can express.

Mumford & Sons Full English Tour

I tried to go to two different estate sales on two different days, and was thwarted each time. The first was five minutes from my house, but since I didn’t leave till 2 PM (Mumford hangover. Worth it.) I really only had a bit of time, and the selection would have been picked over. However, there were no signs, I saw no cars, and I didn’t even properly see the house. So I drove in a ten minute circle around my house. At least I saw the sun. Sunday afternoon I decided to combine what looked like a pretty good sale (two pianos! You know they have taste) with my Target run. This time my GPS screwed me. Seriously, never buy a GPS without lifetime map updates. Or just don’t be a cheap-ass like me and update yours every once in a while. I couldn’t find the house, so I input a cross-street. That apparently didn’t exist either. So there I was driving around Monroeville in the rain… really pissed me off. I had to hit Goodwill in an attempt to salvage the trip. Luckily, there was an awesome twelve bottle wine rack for $10, so not a total loss!

Wine time!

After a coat or two of copper spray paint it should fit with the bar downstairs rather well. I’m still working out the whole British pub theme that I wanted for that space, but I’m always eclectic, even when I have a design theme, so I’m sure it’ll all work out.

Today was hell, and on the way home my car tried to make me believe that it was finally going to kill me. A giant metal plate fell off in my driveway. It pretty much sent me into an emotionally comatose place, and I skipped my first choir practice of the season. Instead, I took a little nap (mentally checked the hell out) and then got drunk and watched the last competition episode of So You Think You Can Dance. I love that show, and it makes me wish that I had had a freaky stage mother that constantly pushed me, because maybe then I would be able to move that way.  All I got were the insecurities and none of the skill. Bah. 

So now I’m a bit drunk, typing this. I’ll probably read this in the morning and erase the whole thing. Or post is as a reminder that you shouldn’t drink and blog. Either way, I hope this coming week gets better. This weekend is a road trip to the PA Ren Fest, so sometime next week you can expect some amazing photos! I seriously love that place, and since it’s on a winery they have the best festival drinks around. Drunken photos! I need some Advil….

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pick me! Estate sale finds from August 24th

Saturday is Estate Sale day here in Pittsburgh. Anyone who has ever gone to one first thing in the morning knows how intense serious pickers can be. My very first sale was just last year, after we bought our house, and I wanted interesting things to fill it. I think we hit four sales that morning, and right off the bat I got to see some people get into a shouting match over stereo equipment. If you like to people watch, this is a goldmine. The line usually starts forming down driveways well before the set opening time, and the nicer the house, the bigger the line (and belief that you will find that amazing thing you never knew existed and now cannot live without). Some people make a business out of selling their finds, but I'm just in it for my own sick need to hoard as many fun things as I can. Or so it seems; I'm really trying to decorate my house and turn it into the amazing space I can see it becoming in my mind. It's eclectic, classy, and completely me. So of course it will never be finished. 

I don't know if it types, but it Dings!

This Saturday I had to work, so I didn't really feel up to fighting the masses beforehand. I slept in, and it was fantastic. I checked the website just to see if there was anything I was going to kick myself for missing, and there it was. A sale that lasted till 5. That never happens. Of course I had to give it a once over on my way home, and I fully expected it to be bare bones that late in the day. Usually in the afternoon everything gets marked down half off the ticket price, so you can get some great deals but the selection is limited. You want the good stuff, you've got to stand in line with the crazies. I have no idea what the house looked like in the morning, but my guess is it was overwhelming. There was sooo much still there! I think I walked around for half an hour in a daze, just imagining what I could have found if I'd just not been so lazy. As it was, I still found a really fun typewriter, several apothecary bottles, unopened DVD copies of Funny Girl and Pride & Prejudice (Colin Firth style-how did I not already own this?), and an unopened 'appreciating classical music' type lecture on CD (it was practically free, don't judge).

Apothecary bottles in my yard.

In my head, my house will look something like a cross between the library from Beauty and the Beast and Dumbledore's office. I already have an old upright piano that I rescued from Goodwill (and will someday get around to having fixed up a bit). It's not badly out of tune, there are just a couple keys that are broken. And no, I don't play...I plunk. I'm working on it. Pretty much if it's old and looks a little worn (but interesting) and is currently unloved, I'm going to want it to come live with me.

Squill Root? Squirrel Root? 

For a sale that I had no real expectations for, I think I did pretty well! The typewriter did hide out in the back of my Jeep for a few days till I could clear a temporary home (and sneak it inside without having to explain why I'm again buying old things that don't work), but it's going to look so good in the living room on a weird table next to the sofa that I don't have yet either. Priorities. I've clearly got them.