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.
I 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.
Monticello itself was pretty interesting! The walkthroughs didn’t include any kind of tour so I just looked around and was content with that. 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.
I 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.
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.
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.
I 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.
The 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
The 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.
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.
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:
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.
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. (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!
I’m loving this challenge you guys!
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.
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.
Optional: Wonder why you impulse-bought so many canvases.
Step 7: Relinquish chair to cat that isn’t even yours.
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.
As you can see, I’m taking the “doesn’t have to be any good” aspect of the challenge very seriously.
It took me like 3 hours to figure out how to get back in here. I was pretty close to re-installing everything, which I may still do; maybe a fresh start is required.
The good news is I’m cutting my teaching schedule in half! I only teach 4 hours a week but adding in my gym times and commute times, I currently have 3 days a week that I get home after 9pm. And one of my classes is actually a performance troupe which requires many hours of outside prep. Starting mid-June I will only teach one class and my performance troupe which I’m soooo looking forward to. I love teaching and I love my students (hence not quitting entirely) but I don’t like having such a rigid schedule. It’s to the point where if somebody wants to hang out with me and they don’t request the time slot 3 weeks in advance, I am secretly a little mad about it. That’s not how I wanna live my life.
I’ve eaten dinner in my car more often than any person should
Coming this summer: moar art. I do miss it. I have to take all my own advice (here and here, remember when I used to write ish? I don’t) and make it part of my schedule…step one is clearing time for it.
The craftiest thing I’ve done lately – bacon roses for my Valentine. I was really trying to lock that down (he fell for it)
What does this mean for this blog? Probably nothing – what blog? Nobody is reading this anyway I’m going to go get some yogurt
I worked on this page over the course of a few days, which is usually not a great sign — generally speaking (for me personally), if I can’t get a page out in one sitting, it’s not going to work. I usually end up overworking whatever element I’m having trouble with and that’s exactly what happened here.
I went so far as to edit the video but I don’t think I’ll upload it because most of it is me trying and failing to get the right level of derp in her face. I’m very particular about my derp.
I can usually tell a page is “done” when it becomes lifeless and/or overwrought – at the risk of sounding like a new age hippie I do feel a certain energy coming from the pages that are working; some just don’t feel like talking. This page was actually already a cover-up of something else — I think this particular portion of paper just doesn’t want to hang out.
How can you tell when a page is done? Do you just abandon it? (I sure do, and if I’m lucky it’s bad enough to be considered an Ugly Journal Page, a series I would like to do again soon!)
Michelle Ward has called people to post “shelfies,” which is what a sounds like…a selfie but for your shelves. I thought it sounded like a fun thing to do so here’s my little contribution! Here’s the original post if you want to check it out.
This is what your ENTIRE book collection looks like when you a) move often and don’t want to lug crap around b) switch over to Kindle. I like having the anatomy/dance and cookbooks in physical format because they are easier to refer to. And some are just favorites that I saw no reason to get rid of.
And this is what your shelves look like when you’ve
just moved like 3 weeks ago and are too overwhelmed to put things on the wall or otherwise put things in places. Actually, as a result of taking this photo and feeling a little embarrassed about it, all the frames are on the wall and now these shelves are just kinda empty. I put the sword (not really visible due to the angle – the hilt is sticking into the blue bag) on the wall in view of the front door – it’s not really dangerous but people seem to fear it, so may as well use that to my advantage. hashtag home protection system
The one below is a little different but I wanted to include it just for the story and associated rambling tangents, starting with: So apparently my house has been through some tough times. The floors are the original hardwood from 1924 (!!!) but there are scrapes all over the place. According to the realtor when the house was vacant people broke in and dragged the radiators out, gouging the floor. The wood is very thin so they were only able to sand it down so much, so the scratches are still visible. I don’t mind it, it’s a little added character.
Then as I was moving in one of the neighbors wandered by and said that the house used to be occupied by “a buncha pedophiles” but the neighborhood ran them out. So the good news is I’m already a better neighbor than the previous occupants, what with the not being into kids and all.
Last Friday I ordered a pizza because I’m trying to establish a relationship with my local Papa John’s. They said it was going to take like an hour so when an unknown number called my phone like 20 minutes later I didn’t bother to pick up. Shortly after there was a knock on the door and it was pizza hooray! The guy then gave me a mini-lecture (albeit polite) about “ma’am, you gotta answer your phone” because apparently 5 years ago somebody was lured to my very address (vacant at the time) and beaten with a baseball bat. So, I gotta answer my phone.* He said it wasn’t a big deal this time and then left me with SEVEN GARLIC CUPS so clearly he was not that mad.
(not pictured: the 2 I’ve already consumed)
That was my long-ass setup for a fridge shelfie. Yes, that’s the only thing in that drawer right now. I feel like I’m in college.
*= I mean, I could answer my phone AND beat him with a baseball bat; they are not really mutually exclusive. I’m not really sure what the reasoning was there.
Anyway. Vacant, alleged pedophiles (I don’t know how good that guy’s intel was), thieves, and thugs; the house has been through some ish and the neighborhood is somewhat transitioning but I think it’s on the up and up. Don’t worry house I will take care of you now. And I feel pretty safe here, especially since I found a baseball bat in my backyard. I assume it was some kid’s but it’s mine now. I would beat somebody with it but I answered my phone, so…
Growing up, I wrote on the interwebs pretty much all the time. I even got my parents to pay for a domain name (in retrospect I’m still not quite sure why they did, I guess to support my budding tech skills? I was really into building sites) and blogged before blogs were a thing; I was on scribble.nu (did anybody use that besides me and my middle school frenemy?), xanga, LJ (of course), all while still maintaining various domains (marzenie.com, witch-bottle.org, kiwi-tree.net…I don’t know where I came up with those names). And omylord the SUBDOMAINS. I had one just for my precious dream journal! I still have the screenshots of a lot of things, you know, for my design portfolio, in case anybody wants to do a retro-style website hard coded with iframes. Hahahaha omg iframes were my life.
iframes and offers to host other sites. back in my day we had to get domain owners to host our sites because blog platforms DIDN’T EXIST AT ALL
Anyway, that’s just me establishing my cred and reminiscing about Angelfire.
I was wondering why I’ve been so reluctant to return to blogging. I simultaneously miss the feeling but dread being on the internet in this capacity. But uhh didn’t I do it for my entire angsty teenage life? I didn’t even have anything interesting to say. Not that I necessarily do now but at least I do more things besides just sitting around watching HIM videos.
I think it’s because everybody else has a god damn blog. There are two issues: the big one is that now that we’re “all” here, it’s way more likely that somebody I know will find me. Because CLEARLY I am so scandalous! I actually write exactly like I speak (hence all the random commas) so anybody who knows me in real life would be totally bored anyway, especially since I probably already told them about the thing I’m blogging about. So that one is just irrational I guess.
But I think the biggest one is that, because everybody has their own blog, there is this weird feeling I get that you have to have a “thing.” The generic online journal is so 1998 and a lot of the blogs I frequent are very focused on one thing.
Everybody also writes in single lines.
Because each line is so
that it needs its own space.
[INSTAGRAM PHOTO OF TEA]
So like, I don’t know what my blog should be “about,” I guess it’s about art journaling but HORRIBLE CONFESSION I really don’t think about art all the time. I don’t go for meandering walks every day (do these people not have jobs or what’s the deal with all the walking?) and take pictures of pine needles so I can wax poetic about how the pine is like, some.. like. I don’t know. life metaphor. evergreens and renewal, you know whatever. BRB steeping tea
I probably sound mad but I ain’t mad. I just think it’s kind of amusing that everybody’s unique voice sounds so similar. And I guess I am trying to say that I would like to blog again, but this blog isn’t going to be “about” anything. I’ll continue to post my AJ videos because I like doing that, and maaaaaybe wax poetic about a rock I found on a meandering walk that I went on during my day off, but I also reserve the right to talk about what I ate for dinner.
This was a long way of saying I miss LiveJournal. Whoomp Whoomp.
omg. I’m going through screenshots of my old layouts… pure gold. You can’t deny I had an aesthetic (whether it was good or not….) I was VERY proud of the one below; I spent hours making the header image (teaching myself how to work with layers).
This past summer it seemed like everybody I knew was going back to school, getting married, having babies, etc (in the case of one overachieving friend, she got an MBA and a baby within a few months of each other) — not that I necessarily want those things at this point but everybody seemed to be doing big things. So I was like NUH UH I CAN MAKE BIG DECISIONS TOO and decided to start house hunting.
Of course there was a bit more to the decision than that – I’ve been here for over 6 years and renting that whole time. I have no idea what I’ll be doing down the line but based on the information I have now I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere anytime soon so… why not pay
rent to myself interest to a bank instead? Equity and all that. Plus I can paint my room weird colors.
I like stars but also I like signaling to the neighborhood that somebody lives here so stop leaving your trash in my garden (mulch pile) please.
I actually almost bought a dump, which I knew was a dump, because it was very close to the Avenue in Hampden (a hipstery/cool place to be). I even got as far as offer acceptance but we did the home inspection and the place was even worse than it looked. As in: the joist holding up the living room was cracked; the masonry in the basement was crumbling; little things like, I dunno, fire hazards. The guy (a former slum lord retiring from slum lording) was not willing to fix everything and even if he did the workmanship would probably be awful.
Rather than buy a money pit I backed out and the very next day toured this house. It’s a rehab for which I have a whole new appreciation after seeing that other house’s guts. The following day I put in an offer. There was some haggle so I ended up accepting a bit more than I offered — BUT, this house was rehabbed as part of a healthy neighborhoods initiative, and apparently they have some metric that prevents them from charging over a certain ratio…I’m not sure what exactly, alls I know is, like a week later I got a call that they had to amend the purchase price to what I initially offered.
So I figured that meant it was meant to be. The neighborhood is new and strange to me but seems very peaceful – one of my neighbors has been here for 30 years. There are big established trees (not so impressive in the winter, but I’m looking forward to spring!) and I’m like 5 minute walk from Giant which is bad for my random nacho cravings. But good lord people here are litterbugs. Somebody left a toilet (??) on the side of my house — apparently if you think a house is vacant it’s OK to dump your shit there.
Fun fact: I’ve never lived in the same house for more than 4 years. EVAR! so I’m aiming for 5 in this one. It feels weird/good to “decide” to stay — even though I’ve already been here 6 years, when you move every year (every. year.) it doesn’t feel so established.
This has caused general re-evaluation of my life, particularly dance and my overall life balance. I haven’t been journaling in ANY capacity for months and months and months. It’s a shame and makes me sad face. (see). I’m burning out big time on dance because I don’t have any boundaries and I constantly feel like I’m “working.” I’ve started phoning it in which is very bad. My 2014 classes start up in a few weeks and my student troupe already has a performance commitment in March…so I’m thinking I’ll finish out the spring “semester” and re-evaluate come summer. I’m taking on fewer performances and focusing on teaching (which is what I really like anyway), and making more of a commitment to journaling/art. Maybe actually start writing on this blog again. I think that’ll help balance me out.
Anyway the point is I don’t have an art journal page for you. But, for the first time in a few years, I have a comfortable art space so I think you’ll be seeing more from me. Yeahhhhhh vague promises
I forgot to take a pic at the beginning – before the faces were added it was just the brown/blue and some random doodles (including a mermaid flexing her biceps, natch).
I guess this would be a good future candidate for an ugly journal page post, but I decided to go over it instead.