31 August 2012

Bramble Patch: August 2012

Here are some of this month's happy distractions.

What do Swedish people think of the Swedish chef? The answer is fascinating.

A Detroit art movement that is equal parts Mickey Mouse and Mrs. Havisham. I can't stop looking.

Next time you are at the bookstore, check out I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats, by the hilarious Francesco Marciuliano. I bought two copies thinking one would make a great gift, but apparently Lola had other plans (read: she ate it). 

What the? There is a hotel in Kenya where the giraffes come in and eat croissants off your breakfast plate. REAL CROISSANTS, PEOPLE.

Yarn bombing is over, but zip tie bombing is coming to a street light near you! 

How does one preserve a 25-year-old cheese ball in resin? Now you know.

This might just be the holy grail of portrait painting.

I want my epitaph carved out in this font (and it's free, woot.) 

They made a movie about butter sculpting with Ty Burrell. It's like Hollywood crawled up my nose and read my mind.

For Time Lords and those who love them: a virtual fruit salad of Doctor Who themed propaganda prints and original art. Nerdtastic!

Oodles of handy information for my fellow bloggers: 50 Online tools to Better Your Blog
(warning, this link will keep you busy all afternoon).

30 August 2012

In the Tiki Room

Found this fella in a junkyard last weekend and OBVIOUSLY he had to come home with me. I'm thinking he is from the South Seas somewhere but I don't know. Anyone? The stain looks pretty new but the wood looks very old. You can't tell from this photo, but he is about the size of a Cocker Spaniel. Heavy too. Until I can figure out a decent place to drill some wall anchors, he is hanging off a coat hook on my front door right across from the couch where I watch TV. He just sits there and stares all judgmental and stuff and I'm all, Dude put your fangs back in. It's not my fault you don't appreciate the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here. 

29 August 2012

Arm Candy

I love bracelets.

Bracelets love me. 

We are in love.  

And despite the fact that I have the wrists of a rhinoceros (and often resort to making my own), I never feel so pretty and dainty as when I wear an arm full of jangly bangles -- something I do quite frequently. Thought I would take a photo of what my arm looks like this morning to share with you guys. Five bucks says someone is going to ask the question I always get; "How do you type with those things?"

Answer: "With attitude."

The other question I always get; What is the trick to layering miss-matched bracelets?
This is a tip I learned from window dressing years ago: always wear at least three (four or five is better) and make sure two of them share a common element like color or shape or material. In this case, the common element is dots. Yes, dots. The dots on the dice match the bevel rhinestone dots on the red bracelet next to it. I could stick those two together and wrap my wrists with Barbara Bush's pearls and it would still look good. And believe me, I have tried it.

Also, it also never hurts to make sure one of the bracelets dangles off a bit. A little dangling never hurt anybody. Unless you operate dangerous machinery for a living, in which case, forget about the dangle thing.  

This big hunkin' dice bracelet is from HSN.com. That's right -- the Home Shopping Network! And here you were thinking they only sold birthstone rings and dolls with teeth. Not so, my friend. I'm shocked to say it is still on clearance (how this did not sell out months ago I will never know) and it's from the queen bee of layered jewelry, and my personal hero, the glorious Iris Apfel. If you have big wrists like me, this one is a winner! If you have skinny little flopsy wrists you might want to steer clear of this (but check out these butt-kicking wooden beads.)

I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here.  

27 August 2012

Before the Sauce

From the late 1970's I think -- an end of summer haul of buckets and bags of tomatoes.
Caption on back reads "Before the sauce."

I spotted a display case of mason jars at the grocery store yesterday – a sure sign of autumn in Middle America. The very site of such a thing gets my sweaters all aflutter; Canning jars? Beach gear on clearance? And right next to the candy corn? Yessss!  

Growing up we always canned tomatoes. Lots of them. And not because we were Italian (don't I wish) but because it was the only thing that ever grew in abundance that was worth preserving. I tried canning some store-bought tomatoes a few years ago but it just wasn’t the same. Plus, each jar ended up costing about three times what it costs to buy a jar Paul Newman's sauce...and then Paul Newman went and died and I felt more obligated than ever to buy his sauce. This year I thought I would try my hand at homegrown again but they all disappeared off the vine before I got a chance to set them aside. I blame the squirrels. Or the slugs. Or maybe it’s a trickle-down effect of global warming. Or...zombies. 

I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here.  

23 August 2012

The Fountain

The Marcus Aurelius quote above appeared on calendar in my elementary school nurse's office. As a kid, I tried to remember it when I was feeling unkind or petty towards others. Which was a lot. Then I got to high school and learned that Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor who probably never had to pick up a shovel in life. WTF did he know about digging?
I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here.

22 August 2012


If you have never eaten off a leopard plate, then you, my friend, are really missing out.

I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here.  

21 August 2012

Trophy Time

Nothing a little silver polish won't clean up.

I bought myself a trophy.

Actually, it might be an ice bucket, but I am going to pretend it's a trophy. As someone who has never won a trophy (not even one of those stupid “Great Job Participating in a Non-Competitive T-Ball Team!” plastic trophies they hand out by the dozen) I feel I am entitled to buy my own. And for $2.00 at Goodwill, how could I say no? 

Now, what should the engraving say?

I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here.  

20 August 2012

The Real WInnie-the-Pooh

Did you know that Winnie-the-Pooh was a real teddy bear owned by a real boy named Christopher Robin? Read about it here. Or better yet, go to the New York Public Library and see them for your yourself.

I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here. 

17 August 2012

Christmas in August

There is this high-end antique store that keeps their Christmas decorations out front all year round. I sort of love it. I know some people cannot stand it when their neighbors leave the lights up past New Years, but this place has the chutzpah to leave them up all year round! It's all fruity and bountiful and evergreen and fabulous. What is not to like?

I say, kudos to them for finding a reason for the season, even if the season is ass hot and smells like Malibu.

My neighbors are sooooo going to hate me come next February.

I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here.  


16 August 2012

The Rightness of Trees

I once heard a marriage counselor say that the world is divided into two types of people. 
Type 1 is one sort of person who likes to be right. They enjoy it. They seek it. They feel that being correct/good/valid about something means they (as a person) are correct/good/valid by proxy.

Type 2 is the sort of person who does not like to be right because, if they are right, that means someone else has to be wrong. They will not seek to prove their point of view because it means someone else has to feel bad about the issue. And if the other person is feeling bad because of their actions, well, how could they let themselves feel good? Instead, they will hold back, bite their tongue, and accommodate by whatever means necessary.
Neither one is better or worse. The world relies on Type 1’s to strive for progress and innovation (after all – they need to prove their point), while Type 2’s provide empathy and compassion. Interestingly, the counselor said that most successful marriages are composed of couples that fall on opposite sides of the table, but, she was sure to point out that  “most people who are successful in life fall somewhere toward the middle of the spectrum” she said, making elaborate, tai-chi esque hand gestures. 

Since hearing this advice several years ago, I have come to conclude she was right – there are two types of people and the spectrum of “rightness” is wide. Very wide. And getting my own butt somewhere in the middle is a more difficult struggle than one might suspect.

I have also concluded that the only thing I like less than an Extreme Type 1 Know-It-All Asshole, is a Mealy-Mouth with a Martyr Complex Type 2. As luck would have it, I am excellent at attracting both.

Where am I going with this?

The trees! Oh yes, I was writing a caption to this photo I took of these two trees at the WarrenDunes in Michigan a couple weeks ago (it's a fun beach, btw -- you should totally go).

Thing is, you don’t usually see trees growing in the middle of the sand at the beach, do you?  Yet here these two stand all on their own. Isolated. Alone. One erect as a tin solider (Type 1, obv), while the other one is half-way to a back-flip trying to accommodate (a Type 2, natch). If the one on the right stood up straight, it would steal the light from the one on the left, and then the one on the left would peter away. Eventually the one on the right would remain, but would lack the strength to stand alone to weather to wind and rain, not to mention a frequent occurrence of sand storms. Both trees would eventually fail.

Moral of the story: If you are a tree, don’t be an idiot and plant your roots in the middle of a fucking sand dune. 

Moral of the story 2: Next time you insist on asserting your opinion as what is right, look beside you and wonder if someone else is holding back so that you do not have to be wrong.

Wow. This might be the world’s longest photo caption.

I'm taking a break through the end of August and posting nothing but pictures... Details here.

15 August 2012

Happy Birthday Julia

I would not say that my mother was a bad cook, but I would not describe her as a good cook either. I would describe her as an occasionally ambitious cook, and the results were mixed at best. 

Like a lot of career-minded women who got married in the 1970’s, she wasn’t about to sign it all away to be anyone’s Suzy Homemaker. However, she did enjoy the idea of possessing a certain flair in the kitchen. 

Betty Crocker tuna casserole? No thank you. 

Julia Child’s herb rolled quail eggs? Oui, s'il-vous-plait!

The Bible of ostentatious cooking, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was always in our kitchen. Usually it was under an ash tray and a glass of chardonnay, but that was beside the point – it was there for everyone to see, in all its turquoise glory, dispensing knowledge on everything from deboning fish to hanging a knife rack. For the record, I do not recall my mother ever fixing me a grilled cheese sandwich, but thanks’ to Julia, we had Soufflé au Fromage at least once a week for a year. 

Today would have been Julia’s 100th birthday. It’s been a while since I tried to cook a cheese soufflé but I’m thinking, if there was ever a time, this is it.

Happy birthday Julia!

Pretend there is a candle in there.
PS: If you are ever in Washington DC you need to stop into see Julia’s kitchen in person at teh Smithsonian museum of American history. It's free and it's 100 yards off the original Kermit puppet (so, be prepared to make an offering of flowers or chocolate or something). Not going to DC anytime soon? Here, take an online tour.

14 August 2012

I went to the flea market hunting for a another fixer-upper crystal chandelier.

I found, shall we say, a new kind of crystal.

I'm taking a break through the end of August... Details here.

Vay Kay

It’s August. And like everyone else I know, I am taking a vacation. A blog vacation.

I was planning on taking a two-week break from my regular posting, but after seeing Michele’s plan, I have decided to copy this concept and spend the last two weeks of August posting pictures. Just pictures. Some of them might be outtakes from previous posts, some might be snapshots from my phone, and some might be random stuff that I totally wanted to post, but didn't because I thought it might be out of context for a blog like this and y'all would think I was weird. But now I realize y'all already know I'm weird, and, honestly, it's August and hardly anyone is watching; if there was ever a time to let my hair down and be out of context, this is it. Ooo, now doesn't that sound rebellious?

The next two weeks could be an exciting journey through the randomness of my everyday life, or a tiresome exercise in Narcissism. Either way, I get to spend the extra downtime doing creative work to share with you guys in September, like awesome new DIY projects, various home improvements, and finding new ways to cure eczema with vapo rub.  No, really.

I hope you stick around :)

10 August 2012

While you were gawking at Ryan Lochte’s abs, some Olympians were slugging it out in one of the world’s most ancient and challenging sports: String Game.

For some reason, NBC chose not to include the string game finals in their coverage.  


Thank God, it was captured on film and you can view highlight images here today. I don’t want to spoil anything, but team USA may have won.

08 August 2012

Photo courtesy of The Jim Henson Company via The Jim Henson Foundation

Two years ago I saw an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry: Jim Henson's Fantastic World. I didn’t write a blog post on it because, to be honest, I cried through a lot of it. 

I can’t tell you how strangely moving it was to see so many Muppets in person. These were my childhood friends – and there they were in real life standing motionless inside glass boxes. It was like paying money to see a taxidermy of a kid I knew in pre-school. It was weird. It made me sad. And I sort of hated it.

They killed the magic. 


...while seeing my old friends gutted and trapped in boxes might have been creepy, I came away with a whole new appreciation for the art, science and industry behind the creation of each one of the Muppet characters. Through Henson’s sketches and story boards, you couldn’t help but see that these were not just felt puppets with fun voices – they were characters and sculptures that had been workshoped by dozens of people for ages before the Muppet saw the light of day. Fascinating stuff.

If you are half as much of a Muppet fan as myself, you see need to check out The Red Book; a series of excerpts taken from Henson’s journal over the course of decades. You can read about what was like when Liza Minelli hosted the show, then watch the show for yourself.  You can see an American Express commercial from 1979 featuring Jim Henson, then read what it took to make it happen. I cannot understate how much I am enjoying this website.

See, and this is the thing, the problem with prolific journal keepers is that they always up and die. Always. And then people, people such as moi, spend the rest of the years that they might have lived pouring over what remains of what they left behind (case in point).

For memory hoarders like me, reading entries in other people's journals is sort of like eating potato chips -- one is never enough. I have to keep going, keep eating, keep crunching each entry until the whole bag of chips is empty. And this bag is far from empty. I just found this site last week and I can’t stop reading it! I find myself getting irritated when I come to an entry that is not yet curated. DON’T THEY KNOW I AM WAITING TO HEAR WHAT HAPPENED?

Le Sigh.

Apparently, there are some problems La Choy Chow Mein cannot solve.

07 August 2012

Door Painting

Thank you to everyone for the input on my living room doors.

I took your advice and settled on Glidden's Peacock Blue, a vibrant dark turquoise/teal kind of color (although it looks sort of like TARDIS blue in these photos). Either way, I like it. And the pop of tomato red along the edge makes me feel so snazzy. And really, isn't that what counts most in this scenario?

Next: The dining room. It's powder pink with white wainscoting. I'm thinking Kermit Green, but we shall see...

06 August 2012

There are two types of people in this world: People who like root beer, and people who do not. 

You can't force it on people. It doesn't come natural. You either have it, or you don't. 

For those of us who have it, tonight is our night. Happy Root Beer Float Day!

PS: Wondering what will go well with your root beer float tonight? Click here for suggestions. 

03 August 2012

Trapped in the Closet

I cannot tell you how uncomfortable this makes me, but I feel we can trust each other so I am going to do it anyway.

I am going to show you my closet.

Hold your breath.

We are going in.

02 August 2012

God Bless Missouri

Two Words: Frozen Custard.

If you have never tried it, that probably means you are not from the Midwest.

And that means it has to suck to be you right now.

In truth, I believe frozen custard is officially considered a Coney Island export...but I have been to Coney Island twice and never saw the stuff. In Missouri, however, they serve it everywhere but the the bathtub.  It's a regional summertime favorite and the good people of Missouri are kind enough to share the love all over middle America.  Why the coasts, Canada and Mexico haven’t caught on, beats me. Poor suckers don’t know what they are missing.
Hear me out. I understand when some regional delicacies fail to gain wide-spread popularity (I’m looking at you, Cincinnati Chili)…but frozen custard is, well, it’s pretty much the best kept secret we have going. It’s like ice cream but better. Thicker. Tangier. Apparently it is also slightly more healthful than regular ice cream, or at least that is what I tell myself when my self-discipline is waning...

   You really shouldn’t indulge today – you had salad dressing with lunch and didn’t exercise or walk hardly anywhere at all today. 

Then again—you also didn’t take your vitamins this morning and custard rich in nutrients. It's practically health food! 

   On the other hand—it’s loaded with sugar and butterfat. 

Then again – it’s better to indulge with a small amount of something really wonderful than go home and bury your head in a six-pack box 100 calorie Snackwell cookies that you don’t even like in the first place. 

   On the other hand....

Oh phuck it already. Quit talking to yourself in the third person and eat the custard.

PS: Did you know frozen custard tastes better on a green spoon?

01 August 2012

Decahedron Himmeli Mobile

I know what you are thinking: Deck-a-wha?

Here, let's break it down....
Decahedron: A polyhedron with ten flat faces. Apparently, there are sub-sets of decahedron too. This one is a pentagonal dipyramid decahedron. Just typing that sentence makes me feel pretty effin' mathtastic.

Himmeli: A traditional Finnish Christmas ornament made from short strips of straw. Back in the day it would be hung above the dinner table to ensure that next year's rye crop would be plentiful. It was believed that the larger the himmeli, the larger the crop. 

Even though its origins lay in Finland, I know Himmeli as a form of Lithuanian folk art. The two countries are not exactly next-door neighbors, so I hope the folks in Finland don't think Lithuania is trying to jack their style. This is just one of those old world art forms that is too good to not share.
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