marizateria.com

halloween & do-nothing november

oh lawd. I need to decide what to do with this ol’ blog thing. I would like to write more regularly, but then I don’t. Basically I don’t take any of my own advice about consistency being key. :)

So I guess I’ll start easy and just re-post from Instagram!

A photo posted by @marizaiscool on

Here is a shrimp brain I made for my Halloween party. It is just shrimp held together with gelatin (put in a brain mold). People weren’t sure about eating it: mission accomplished. The funny thing is that when I was trying to eat the leftovers the next day, the lack of party noise made the gross squishy sound as you pulled it out of the jello really apparent. Pretttyyy gross actually.

A photo posted by @marizaiscool on

My other Pinterest 101 food item. People did ask me what it was and I was like it’s just salsa and spinach dip dudes calm down. The intestines were puff pastry filled with refried beans. POOP GET IT

Even though the “body” thing didn’t work out that great, I think just having a pile of goop and meat sitting out is pretty gross by itself.

SUCCESS

I also watched a documentary called The American Scream which is about people who make haunted houses in their own house (“home haunts”) and promptly ordered a book on the subject. So hopefully next year will be more elaborate. The reason I’ve never had a Halloween party before is because I knew in my heart that I wanted to acquire enough Halloween stuff to create my own haunted house, and you can’t do that when you move every year. But now I have a house with plenty of basement space…

Anyhoos, every weekend in October had A Thing so BF and I decided that we weren’t going to do ANYTHING in November. I already failed having danced at a thing on November 1 and attended a surprise bday party on November 8, but the rest of the month looks pretty chill (really looking forward to that week off for Tgiving!)

For the bday party I made kettle bell cakes. I’ve never made a spherical(ish) cake nor have I ever worked with fondant; may as well go for broke and do them both for the first time AT the same time, right?? Anyway it was all worth it because they turned out awesome if I may say so. My favorite part is that they were layer cakes (tryna maximize frosting) — I wish I got a better pic of them being cut, it was so gratifying to see them cut open and little stripey slices coming out.

A photo posted by @marizaiscool on

So that’s it for now. Oh, other important updates: My squat is up to 190lbs and my hip doesn’t hurt at all!!! and today I hit 200lbs on my deadlift. Usually one’s deadlift is farther ahead than one’s squat, but it took me a while to get my deadlift off the ground (no pun intended) due to some issues with the position…that I no longer have! at one point I couldn’t even get into the right position with the straight bar so I’m very pleased (to say the least) to be pulling 200 with it now.

ok bye see you again in 2 months

it’s over!

We did it!

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It was a full house! Thank you to everyone who came out!

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I didn’t get many pics of the backstage situation because I was too busy running around. Note to self: get some sort of assistant next year. I think part of the problem is I legitimately forget all the things that need to be done for a show and/or there are unexpected challenges.

Things I need to remember for next time:

  • Stage manager/dancer wrangler. People were actually very good about being where they needed to be and I didn’t have to track anybody down, but to have somebody back stage that can get people organized, help them find the stage entrance, etc, is nice to have and not something I personally need to be doing. It also helps to have more than one person who can assist, in case I am, you know, getting my costume on or something.
  • Get somebody else on the show programs. I don’t mind designing it, but printing and folding is a huge pain.
  • Empower somebody to take care of the entire front house operation. By that I mean they already have programs/cash box/will-call list and don’t need to wait for me to show up and set them up. This means I will have to delegate it BEFORE the day OF the show.
    • This may mean that somebody else is in charge of online ticket sales, because communicating the online will-call list was part of the hassle.
    • The good thing about running a little belly dance show is: who is going to try to sneak into that anyway? So I told the ticket ladies that if somebody said they bought a ticket from me they probably did and just let them in. GOOD BUSINESS PRACTICE
  • Flashlights or little lamps for backstage. The theater was in an entirely different configuration last year; this year the backstage was completely dark. We opened the hall door which provided just enough light not to kill yourself, but it would have been nice to have something back there. This depends on the theater but I think in general it is probably wise to at least bring a flashlight.
  • I’m not sure I have the technology for this, but maybe find a way to make all the songs the same volume? Also, send the music to my sound person (again, pre-show-day-delegation required!!) so they can familiarize themselves with it.
  • Make sure dancers check in with the sound person with any special requests (I actually ended up running the sound myself for a portion because a dancer had a request that only I knew about).
  • Delegate delegate delegate!!!!

But it was a very successful show! My students did a wonderful job, my guests of course were amazing, and the audience really enjoyed it. I did have an incident where one of my finger cymbals just… fell off (which has NEVER happened before) so I very dramatically threw the rest of them on the GROUND which was kind of a power move — luckily it worked out, haha. I did have a moment of “how do I fix this? can I put it back on?” but getting a finger cymbal on is annoying enough when you AREN’T mid-performance with an audience looking at you, so I had to go in the opposite direction.

WHEW
4 student pieces with my choreography
19 pieces all together
Some 40-ish performers
Some 100-ish audience members
Photographer
Videographer
Theater venue

I am proud of myself if I may say so!

And to finish out the weekend, the workshops. I am currently being awkward and typing this rather than talking to the workshop instructor but I never know how to handle these situations. I’m always paranoid that I come across as ignoring you when actually I’m just trying to give you space…people wanna have time to sit and check their emails right? I don’t need to constantly be up in her biz right??? #badhost

OH: one thing I DO NOT need to delegate is the creation of the show poster BECAUSE I AM ON THAT.


shimmiboog

show prep!!

I am hosting my annual (it’s my third year but both of the last times I said I wasn’t going to do it again so it feels weird to say for sure that it’s “annual”) show next Friday which is taking up a lot of my mental energy. I’m also hosting workshops that nobody is signing up for (I’m not even teaching them, otherwise I’d say it was just lack of my personal appeal).

I find that if I treat it like a game or a problem to be solved it’s less painful, so I’m trying to solve this problem of tons of “interest” NOT equaling tons of registrations. HOW GET CONVERSIONS? (to use business speak) I guess when it comes time for people to put their money where their mouths are, suddenly they are not as interested.

The good news is I am working on an actual choreography for myself and I even managed to make some parts of it challenging…that sounds really arrogant — what I mean is just that when you choreograph for yourself you tend to use your own movement patterns, so you have to kind of make a point of making it challenging for yourself. Luckily I found a song that spoke pretty strongly to me and had its own opinions about what should go where so now I am trying to make it happen.

I even went to the gym last night after a full afternoon of errands to practice because I was excited about it for once! So that was nice.

Some practices are better than others, though. :)

Just a short update. It’s still a week and a half away and I know from experience that some people will wait until 11:59 to register for something so it could still turn around. It just sucks to bring this lady (for whom I have a lot of respect) all the way down here and then not be able to fill the room for her. :(

Welp back to playing the Sims to avoid all my responsibilities. Design the show program? PFFFTT

I strongwomanned

I survived the Strongwoman contest! I only cried a little bit! I was SO FRUSTRATED by the log press — my second attempt was 85lbs which I have done before (multiple times!) but I was SO nervous that I just couldn’t control it. I even had trouble controlling 75lbs. It was particularly upsetting because I got 85 over my head but didn’t lock out my left elbow and didn’t get the points. UGH. I was also really bad at the medicine ball toss, I basically just spiked it down behind me.

strongwoman_log
LEFT ELBOW Y U DO DIS?

BUT, I was told I got 2nd place in the Zercher yoke carry (175lbs). The power stair wasn’t bad – that was loading 150lbs on a platform and back down. I did 15 reps in 60 seconds and have the bruises on my legs to prove it!


strongwoman_zercher
50 feet down/back for time

I don’t know that I would compete again. This was for fun and for charity (we raised over $10,000 for the Susan Cohen Colon Cancer Foundation!!!!) but I was still so sick and nervous the whole time. I was hoping that during the events I would get into some kinda zone but that did not happen. During the loading medley I wanted to puke the whole time and every time I ran back to pick up another thing the only thought in my head was “I can’t do this, I’m not going to get this one up.” Despite the fact that I’ve successfully completed that same medley before (in one basic training class I had to do it repeatedly!)


strongwoman_sandbag strongwoman_chain

So it was basically a huge exercise in negative self-talk that I couldn’t seem to control. I am glad I did it though because I always regret NOT trying something. And the pictures do look pretty bad-ass. And I guess it’s a pretty cool thing to do in the first place. AND I did genuinely have fun with the other ladies from my gym; it was fun to hang out with them and support them (as well as the ladies from other gyms). But damn it was stressful! I’m not even really sure why. I guess because I get embarrassed easily so it was hard to have everybody looking at me (even if they were totally supportive).

In conclusion, it’s a good thing I didn’t harbor some secret dream of being a professional strong woman because clearly I lack the constitution for it. ;)


strongwoman_shirt
at least I got a cool shirt out of it

why did I get the sims

So I haven’t been updating anything because I’m busy updating my blog in The Sims 4. I also do crazy, fantastical things like eat entire cakes by myself, which obviously I would never do in real life. Obviously….


09-11-14_6-09 PM
not yours

So that’s a cool waste of my life.

I also went camping last weekend in, like, nature. I’ve never been camping as an adult because I generally avoid doing things outside, but it wasn’t so bad. It did rain most of the second night but BF is all into camping gear so we were dry (albeit a bit bored, cooped up in the tent). I also got to make s’mores which was my only camping objective! They were not as good as microwave s’mores. Perhaps that is blasphemy to some but with the fire I found it hard to get the marshmallow consistently melty (NB: we had a shitty fire)

THIS weekend I am competing in a Strongwoman competition! I’m in the Fun group and I use the term “competing” very loosely. It’s more like, “getting my ass kicked by everybody else because I just joined because my gym hosts the competition and everybody else was doing it.” It’s for fun and for charity so I’m trying to be cool about it but I’ve been having stress dreams out the wazoo.

The events are: throwing three 10lb medicine balls for distance; putting 150lbs on a stair (and back down) for max reps in a minute; Zercher yoke carry (AWFUL – and for the “fun” group there’s no weight on it. It’s still 175lbs); log press for max weight with a starting weight of 70lbs; and a loading medley where we have to run 50 feet with and load various things into a wheel barrow, then wheel the whole thing back. The things: 70lb sandbag, two 35lb plates (one each hand), 32 kilo kettlebell, and a chain that weighs about 70lbs.

I can do all of the events but I know I’m going to get smoked (there are ladies in the Fun group pressing 100lbs or so on the log what’s up with that!!) and sometimes I get all overachievery and “if you can’t win why bother” which is not a great attitude. I know I’ll have fun when I get there, I just get a little anxious about having an audience for something I’ve never done before.

People get surprised when I express anxiety about being seen because “but you’re a belly dancer” but I don’t have 10 years of experience in the field of strongwomanning. Just because I’m comfortable with being on stage doesn’t mean I like being watched all the time. Obviously this is true for a lot of performers because wanting to be seen is why they began in the first place, but there are plenty of us who don’t feel the same way. Interestingly, I have met a LOT of “awkward” (self-described) introverts in the belly dance community. So it’s not just me!


boogaloo

Show prep is coming along. I’ve been too busy having nightmares about log press to think much about it, and then I remember it’s only about 3 weeks away and lose my mind. I did spend a good chunk of time yesterday adding the event to local calendars and I’m forcing my student troupe to sell tickets, haha. We’ve definitely sold more than one ticket. #focusonthepositives It’s not really the money so much as that crappy feeling that nobody wants to come to your show. :(

I just have to remind myself that most people don’t get tickets way ahead of time anyway. This year I’m really jacking up the price at the door – $30 – which I keep going back and forth on. On the one hand, I’m trying to incentivize people to buy ahead of time; on the other, I don’t want to drive away door traffic. Maybe I’ll drop it to $25 on the day of. Last year, due to online fees and me being dumb, it was cheaper to buy at the door than online so of course nobody bought online.

So anyway these are all the things that are making me anxious. I’m gonna feel soooo relieved on October 5 (the show is October 3 but I am also sponsoring workshops on October 4, so I’m not “done” until the 5th!)

a philosophy for all of us

9-2-14

I was just thinking to myself “I don’t need a video camera, these little flips are still fine” and then my flip started acting nuts. I periodically check to make sure the light is still on – it was, but it wasn’t recording?? Go figure. They don’t make flips anymore because camera phones basically replaced them, but I can’t get my phone on a gorillapod. Plus I often need to use my phone (e.g. send my boyfriend stupid texts) while I’m working.

Considering how much money I just dropped on costumes and will continue to drop on my upcoming show, that will have to wait! I’m sure I can get the flip to work and if not I’ll use my stupid phone and save my texting for later.

This weekend I am going camping! It’s my first time going as an adult. I’m a little nervous about all the nature. What if there’s bugs? Also it’s supposed to rain. But I don’t even care because I got s’mores fixin’s. I even got s’mores poptarts just in case. In case what? IDK. In case I want more snacks?

Of course, I have to fight my way through a comically long day tomorrow. Due to the short week, I moved my gym days to T/R. I also extended all the rehearsals for my students because we have a billion upcoming shows. So tomorrow I get to go to work, go to the gym and hopefully squat more than 150# (hip problems again), then teach a class, then run a 2-hour rehearsal. At least I’m earning my s’mores.

My hip thing is bumming me out BUT I am up to 8 push-ups, I benched 100lbs for the first time, and I push-pressed 90lbs on the log. 2 weeks ago I could not get 90lbs!!! People look at me like I’m insane when I say things like “push-pressed the log” so here is an example of what the hell I’m talking about.

Although this video went up today, I actually completed the page yesterday, 9/2/14 — I mention this because I had a video from 9/2/13! Here’s what I did exactly 1 year ago (well, 1 year from yesterday):


I was so lazy I didn’t upload an image or even put any audio on the video!! I kind of like the audio-free ones though because when I’m watching other peoples’ vids I usually skip forward a lot. But it does seem kind of weird to not have ANYTHING. So I sorta-kinda compromise by just using ambient music that isn’t too distracting if you wanna skip around.

I feel like instead of a signature, all my posts should just end with “COOL STORY BRO”

bullet journal

Today was oddly productive. I work from home on Tuesdays so I used my lunch break to cut the grass and pull a clog from the tub. “After work” aka “after I closed my laptop” (the lack of transition between Work and Not Work is my only complaint about WAH — that and my roomie’s cat doesn’t understand boundaries) I swept and/or swiffered the floors as necessary, cleaned the bathrooms, and tidied the kitchen.

I went for a walk around the lake! It’s about an hour round trip. Lake Montebello is about 15 minutes (walking) from my house and really pleasant – lots of people walking, running, biking; sometimes there are (what I assume are) roller derby teams getting a basic skate in. I saw a guy around my neighborhood with a Charm City Roller Girls tee on; I think I have some cool neighbors somewhere but I can’t figure out what house they live in.

I even had time to go to Target and pick up a sleeping bag and air mattress. I stopped at Lowe’s and got a shelf which I put above my bathroom door. It’s hilariously unstable — luckily it’s just for toilet paper and maybe a washcloth.

Anyhoos, at some point, somehow, through Internet Magic™, I ended up on the site for Bullet Journal. This is a note-taking and task-organizing method that seems pretty easy to implement.

My self-image is of somebody who remembers everything and is on top of her shit, so it has taken me a while (and many embarrassing reminders from people) to admit to myself that I have become absent-minded and a little disorganized. It was easier to stay on top of my shit when it consisted of a max of 3 items. Now I have too much to fit in my brain all at one time.

It’s all such different stuff, too – regular life stuff (job, bills) and dance life stuff (choreograph this for this class, student x needs y) and any other thing that I might need to do (upload an AJ video!!! haha). The thing that appeals to me about Bullet Journal is it’s designed to contain all different things (tasks, events, and inspiration/randos). Although the idea of compartmentalizing appeals to me and my notebook lust, realistically it just means notebooks everywhere. And what if something could go in more than one category/notebook? WHAT THEN, SCIENCE? So I like the catch-all-ness.

Yeah I know it’s so ’90s to use a notebook and pen. ;) I tried Evernote and any.do and such but there’s something about using a notebook. Maybe because I can be more freestyle with it and typing on my phone takes longer than scribbling a note. I wish I liked the apps, the sync feature is pretty appealing!

As part of my re-dedication to the “If not now, when?” philosophy, I picked up a cheapie notebook at Target (yeahhh school supply sales!). It feels a little dumb to start right at the end of August but I’ll just think of it as the beta test. All of my “August tasks” are choreography tasks, haha.

You better believe I put all the stuff I accomplished today in there! Retroactive check boxes are the best! I’m looking forward to working with this to see if it helps me keep my life together. If anything, seeing what I have to do written down makes it seem less overwhelming. So that’s already a plus!


bullet_journal_start

it’s why you can’t rent a car until you’re 25

8-24-14

Some research suggests that the prefrontal cortex (which has a lot to do with our ability to make decisions and generally be a responsible adult) isn’t fully formed until age 25 and may still change up until our 30s. This is interesting to me I do sort of feel like after 25 some sort of veil was lifted from me and I became generally more self-possessed and happier. Could just be good old-fashioned maturity. ;)

New journal! The cover is made from a cereal box I found in the recycling and it’s loosely/sloppily bound, just like I like ‘em. The circle stain is from when I put a beer on it, which confirms its alternate use as a coaster. hashtag upcycling


journal

just do your shit

After (more than) several weeks of a more flexible schedule, I think I’ve gotten through my petulant child I’M NOT GONNA DO ANYTHING!!!! phase and now I can start getting into more journaling, reading, thinkin’ ’bout stuff, etc (although I will admit I still kind of feel like a sack of crap when I’m not booked up back to back — at some point I became addicted to busyness and I’m still working through that!)

I kept getting all these emails from flickr about my delinquent payment info. Remember when you had to pay for flickr? ha ha ha. Also, I was vaguely aware that Yahoo effed Flickr up, but damn is it effed up. Needless to say I removed my payment info entirely.

So that’s how I got to looking through old flickr stuff – I’m far enough away from it all now that I can say I like it. I’m not saying it’s good (it’s not), I’m just glad that I did it.

And then I thought about this crazy gap I’m going to have now – I guess I have been creating dances, putting on events, and generally being hilarious on Facebook so it’s not total radio silence – but no AJs, no vids, no blog posts, no written journal.


what even is this?

figure 1: what even is this?

Even if it’s bad (figure 1), it’s so neat to look back on. I see the things that are the same (I do have a “style” as it turns out) and a lot of things that are different (600% less angst).

And I’m not just talking journal stuff – the photos, the writing, etc; it was all stuff that was important to me at the time. It’s not ground shattering or amazing but it’s me, and it’s nice to step back into those memories.

And then there’s the weird/random stuff, like that time I found a book called “The Lonely Carrot” so I made a carrot-recipe-themed altered book, complete with fake carrot that I crafted out of the air-dry modeling stuff. Like, I went to a craft store and purchased items for the purpose of creating a book about carrots. Who does that. I DO AND THERE’S PROOF THANK GOD


carrot

I’m in a very strange situation where I’m inspired by myself… that sounds so self-indulgent, but I see all the ideas I had and how poorly they were executed and I kind of want to do some re-dos (not the carrot book).

So, like, just do your shit. You’ll be glad later. Even if it’s no good (every other time it will be good, but you can’t get that if you don’t go through the bad first). I guess if other people like it that’s cool too but do it for yourself, do it for the fun of it, do it just ’cause. As a results-oriented person I sometimes have trouble with The Process so reminding myself that a “Body of Work” is itself kind of a result inspires me to keep doing random stuff.

Up next: altered book about kale. ;)

But srsly have you made kale chips I can’t get enough (you have to make your own, the crap they sell in bags is disgusting)


figure 2: mustard study?
figure 2: mustard study?

half art journal, half talkin’ ’bout the gym

I need to bind a new journal. Which is a convenient excuse! So I had to remove the excuse by clipping together the signature and journaling on it anyway. :P This isn’t exactly what I had in my head; I can’t get her arms right (I did practices and everything) — but finally I had to just go for it.

8-17-14

I am putting on a fall show (with a guest dancer from New York, who I am also sponsoring for workshops). I’m adding a Monday night choreography class (due to demand). I am very bad at “scaling back” and “relaxing.” :P

The good news is I’m re-using choreographies for both classes, so at least I don’t need to create anything new. My now-defunct choreography class was stressful at the time (pumping out original choreographies every 6 weeks) but it has given me somewhat of a repertoire. I try to give myself choreography assignments but it’s harder to get done when there is no deadline and nobody to teach it to (you can’t really know what’s going to work or not work until you try to teach it somebody else).

And my Tuesdays are totally free – I was taking my friend’s class but she is moving it to Saturday. Not only will the afternoon be free, but I work at home that day, so I may not even have to get in my car! I don’t miss being car-free but I do like the idea of having at least one day where I don’t drive somewhere.

COOL STORY BRO

pushup

In other news, I finally got my push-up!! I can do 4 to 7 depending on the phase of the moon (currently, 7 requires me going super saiyan, so it doesn’t happen very often. yet). My gym schedule is part of the reason I had to scale back my classes – the combination of my gym plus my classes was keeping me away from home for 12ish hours 3 days a week, which was too much. I had to pick, and gym won out! It is pretty critical to my well-being because I’m a huge meat head.

squat

I remember when I graduated to “Big Girl Plates” (45s) – it was such a big deal. Now 135lbs is my LIGHT day! It’s so cool to think about what used to be soooo hard and now it’s like whatever.

Progress with my squat has been up and down – my current max is 175lbs. It was doable and I think in terms of pure strength I could go heavier but I keep jacking up my hips. We’re not sure exactly why but it’s probably when it gets heavy I get scared (I severely underestimated the psychological component of lifting) and narrow my stance which feels more secure. Unfortunately that is what causes the hip issue: I am about 6’1″ so I have to stay wide and turn my feet out to accommodate the ol’ femurs. If I don’t, my knees cave and bad things happen (for example, I am unable to squat for 1-3 months and I cry a little).

This post is taking a very winding turn because I am waiting for this very video to finish saving and uploading. :) Oh look it’s done!

personal retreat 2k14

Hey it’s time for my monthly update where I just re-post the stuff I put on Instagram! (well, actually, I took some photos with my grown up camera too) (also, after actually writing this post, it’s too long for one update! I’ll break it up into “blog” “posts” like this was a “real” “blog”)

At the beginning of this month I went on a “Personal Retreat” where I just drove a long time to do nothing by myself. It was the best!!! And of course I ended up doing some stuff anyway.

IMG_2619I went to this retreat-y place near Asheville, NC, about an 8-hour drive from here. I stopped about 3 hours away in Charlottesville to visit the ol’ alma mater. It looks the same. There is a gourmet noodle bar in the cafeteria now; kids these days.

On July 4th there were Independence Day celebrations at Monticello; I had never been and was like “free walkthroughs sweeeet!!” but the actual price was sitting through the naturalization ceremony. The 4th of July naturalization ceremony at Monticello is the longest-running and largest one outside of a courtroom; 72 people from 39 countries became American citizens that day! It was very cool and moving…and it was 2 hours in the hot sun. A little difficult at the end. :P

Monticello itself was pretty interesting! The walkthroughs didn’t include any kind of tour so I just looked around and was content with that. :P I didn’t take many pictures because it’s not allowed inside the house and although the grounds are pretty they’re not super exciting for photos. :)

IMG_2626I drove the rest of the way down to NC and spent the night at the retreat which was great. It’s the type of place that has a stone circle, a “Divine Feminine” shrine, and rooms that are open to the outside so the wisteria can grow inside. Aka THE BEST

I think part of the reason I went on this trip and chose this place was to sit quietly and reconnect with my non-dance art sides (ie writing and drawing poorly) but I did not. Do any of that. At all. Although, I didn’t work on dance either. It was a total creative detox…which I guess sounds weird and like the opposite of something I would want to do, but I think it’s useful to “be” and not “do” from time to time. So I read the rest of my Fables books and ate peanut butter sandwiches.

IMG_2632 On Saturday we had the option to have brunch at a local family farm. The guy who ran the place said he’d ring the bell at 8:30am for everybody to walk over together… you didn’t have to go at that time, but I had no idea where this place was, so I kind of had to take the trip. The other people there were nice (3 other ladies about my age, and Dirk). I didn’t know what “brunch at a local family farm” meant — did he just have some kind of arrangement with them or what? I was kind of imagining that we would just go into some person’s house and eat there and felt kind of awkward about it.



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Anyway turns out they opened their (huge) garage and set up tables inside – and the entire town seemed to be there for breakfast – it was pretty happenin’! You’d go order from 6 menu items and they’d write your name/order on a ticket which you’d have to go give to the (one) guy that was making food for everybody. I took a pic but the lady asked we not post on the interwebs because they’re “way under the radar.”

You could also buy fresh eggs right out the chickens’ butts; they had special “Americana” eggs which were pink, blue, and white. I know this is terrible and/or a symptom of modern society but the richness of fresh egg yolk freaks me out.

IMG_2711I thought about spending the day sitting outside and reading Jurassic Park, but I wanted to check out the Biltmore Estate while I was in the area and wasn’t sure if I would be able to get around to it the following day (ie on my way out). Soooo I got off my butt and drove out there. IT was so busy I had to wait 2 hours to enter the house. Based on how full the visitor center was I actually paid for valet parking (whaaaat) and honestly it was worth $15 just to be able to drive directly up to the house while laughing at the commoners taking a shuttle ha ha ha plebes

The Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned home in America (still owned by one of the Vanderbilts) and it’s pretttyyy swank. As usual, you can’t get pics inside. In addition to the usual rich people tapestries and libraries, there was an indoor swimming pool (in the basement and actually pretty creepy, like I wonder how many people “mysteriously drowned” there) and bowling alley. The grounds are pretty extensive with formal gardens and also a winery? Why not? I bought wine. I did not go on the wine tour because I do not care about how it gets to my face, just that it gets there.

The funny thing about that visit was seeing all the families there with their miserable kids. It reminded me of myself at that age…and here I am of my own free will now. My younger self would be rolling her eyes soooo hardddd. Sometimes I saw families that were not actively bickering and wondered what was wrong with them.

IMG_2733The next morning I left and started up towards Roanoke — I went to the Natural Bridge and at a $7 “Natural Bridge Burger” because I suddenly got really hungry when I was already past the ticketing area. It sucked. But I guess it was food? Maybe? It kept me alive at any rate.

The Natural Bridge looks pretty much the same as it did when I was a kid which was a surprise. They haven’t jazzed it up in all these years? :) I also walked A MILLION MILES to this crappy waterfall. When I was walking back somebody asked me if it was much farther to the waterfall and I should have just told them to turn back but maybe they like crappy waterfalls IDK. Also, having started Jurassic Park, I was a little concerned about the numbers of raptors in the woods (did not encounter any).

I stayed in a hotel that evening and had a huge crisis because it did not appear that I could order pizza via my eat24hours app and would have to use the telephone and speak to a human being. Rather than do that, I went to see Maleficent and had popcorn for dinner. #worthit




IMG_2758The next day was my return to Baltimore – I stopped at Foamhenge, a foam replica of Stonehenge, which was actually worth the stop. I thought it would be kinda whatever but I enjoyed it. Apparently the ‘stones’ are positioned correctly as well. Also interesting is the Merlin statue – his face is actually the death mask of one of the artist’s friends who wanted to be incorporated into his work. Cool and creepy at the same time?

I also found this Robot Muffler Man thanks to RoadsideAmerica.com. You have to be looking for it … I had to drive through a podunk Virginia town to find him. Like, the Confederate-flag-displaying-kind. I just took my pic and left.


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I ate so many sour cream and onion pringles and s’mores poptarts and I regret nothing!!! It was a pretty good trip all in all. Only lasted 5 days. I still have a lot of PTO for some reason/somehow and we don’t get to carry any over into next year so I’ll have to plan another weird trip soon. :P

cake!

I have been mostly keeping up (ish) with the ICAD challenge although I have missed the past few days. And I really phoned in a few (on one I drew a phone, that’s how much I was phoning it in). Now they’re in a box (the Birchbox boxes are the perfect size) more than 3 feet away from my face and I’m too lazy to scan them, so just imagine a pile of crappy index cards. VOILA!

More importantly, I made some amazeballs cakes and cupcakes for my roommate’s birthday:


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Pinterest 101: The Rainbow Cake (although I also have a recipe book with this in it, so I can pretend like I didn’t see 100 versions on Pinterest)

It’s pretty simple to make – just divide the batter and dump in a bunch of food coloring – it just takes foreverrrr. I’ve also never made a more-than-2-layer cake before, so I didn’t do such a good job of constructing it. I was REALLY committed to the ROYGBIV concept so I put the red on the bottom even though that layer was all jacked up and smaller than the rest. Putting the smallest layer as the base is a great idea you guys!

And by “great idea” I mean “we had to use a jar of peanuts to prop it up.”

It took 1.5lbs of butter and about 2lbs of powdered sugar to make enough frosting……so worth it.

My roomie loves Studio Ghibli (who doesn’t) and I love learning new skills that I only use once, so I decided to learn to make marshmallow fondant (“MMF”,” which makes me think of a wrestling federation) so I could decorate some cupcakes with various characters.

MMF is actually not too hard to make – I wish I even had a hilarious story for you, but really you just melt marshmallows and add powdered sugar (and a bit of water) until it’s a workable consistency. Then you can color it or whatever. I mostly needed white but I made some grey for Totoro.


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I didn’t get a food pen or anything so I had to use black food coloring straight from the tube to “draw” the faces which is why they’re all mushy. :P (the random circles ones are supposed to be wood sprites….yeah) So lesson learned for next time. But the soot sprites turned out perfectly!! I just dunked them in ground oreos.

The cupcakes were actually delicious – I’m not tryna toot my own horn; I was genuinely surprised when I ate one and I was like daaaaamn these are awesome (and I ate two more). They were just a box chocolate fudge mix, but with an oreo in the bottom and crushed oreos mixed into the buttercream frosting (+ the MMF on top…sugar bomb).

The “Death by Oreo” cupcake recipe is here. I didn’t mix the cookies into the cake batter because I forgot… but they were a hit nonetheless!

ICAD Week 2

I’m loving this challenge you guys!

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cleaning up your creative space in 7 steps

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Step 1: Admit you have a problem.

Step 2: 18 days later, decide to put shallow shelves on the wall for canvases, journals, books, etc. Nothing too wide so it doesn’t come out over the drawing table.

Step 3: You’re too shy to ask the person at the hardware store to cut wood down to size, so acquire wooden garden stakes and/or a canvas stretcher you found in your basement.


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Step 4: Knock everything on the floor (this is important. You have to fuel your rage so that you will complete this project just to prove you CAN).

Step 5: Briefly consider just balancing the shelves on long screws; realize that this is a dumb idea even by your low home improvement standards. Buy L-brackets.

Step 6: Drill holes into wooden stakes/stretchers for the brackets – ideally you should do this directly on your floor so that if the drill breaks through to the other side it will create a tiny dent in the floor, thus maximizing damage to your home. Attach bracketed wood chunks to the wall.


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Optional: Wonder why you impulse-bought so many canvases.


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Step 7: Relinquish chair to cat that isn’t even yours.

ICAD Week 1

I was a little late (and then I missed a day), but I’m participating in Daisy Yellow’s Index Card a Day (ICAD) challenge. It’s 61 days of creating something on an index card, so I’m hoping to end up with at least 25. ;)

Mostly I was just using whatever highlighters I had on my desk…then today I finally wheeled my chair 4 feet (4 whole feet!) to the left and got some pencils.

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As you can see, I’m taking the “doesn’t have to be any good” aspect of the challenge very seriously.