it's raining, it's pouring...

happy severe weather awareness week!
i grew up in a home with an ex-meteorology major mother who taught me to have a very healthy appreciation for (and fear of) severe weather. i'm utterly fascinated by clouds (to the point where my friends are bored with me talking about how cool they look) and could watch you tube or storm chasers tornado videos for hours. i think, that while tornadoes are scary and destructive, they're also insanely awesome. it's amazing to me that a cloud can even do that. anyway, in honor of this week, here are a few be-smart storm tips my mom has taught me over the years: 

1. lighting can jump out of a storm cloud up to fifteen miles. meaning if you can hear thunder (even if it's far away), you're at risk to be struck by lightning. don't be one of those people that stays in a pool/outside while it's thundering just because the storm is "not that close". is it really worth the risk? i'm pretty sure being struck by lightning isn't fun. (note: i do not endorse what girl is doing in the top photograph. consider it a very aesthetically pleasing what-not-to-do.)

2. there is no such thing as heat lightning. if there is lightning, there is a storm, the sound waves have just dissipated by the time the light waves reach you. 

3. if you are in a car, don't ever try to outrun a tornado. you will not win. you're a lot better off (as crazy as it seems) getting out of your car and lying in a ditch or under an overpass. this, however, is a lot easier said than done. my little tornado run-in last spring (minor, but so scary) had me paralyzed with fear in my car on the interstate. obviously, i survived, but in retrospect, maybe not the smartest. i'm really glad i didn't die in spencer, nc. what an awful place to spend your last few moments. 

4. tornadoes typically don't occur during the worst part of a storm. the "hook" part of a cloud from which they form is usually on the tail-end of a storm. you know that phrase "the calm before the storm"? there's a reason it exists. tornadoes usually occur once the rain/thunder have dissipated. if everything is calm and it suddenly starts hailing, you probably want to head for the basement. 

5. if a road has more than a few inches or so of standing water, do not try to drive through it. i don't think drowning in my car sounds like fun, either. moving water is much more powerful than we think - you can be swept away in three inches of water in an instant. find a detour.

now that we're all safe, i'm very much looking forward to the forecasted storms we'll hopefully be getting this evening. what a great way to kick off severe weather awareness week! hanging out at home with the windows open during a storm is just about the most blissful thing ever. 

images: 1.geekdick.tumblr.com 2.reuters.com 3.walllake.com 4.personal.psu.edu 5.surfer'svillage.com 6.jason york via goodfinancialclients.com 


the coolest thing i did all week

yesterday evening i attended north carolina dance theatre's sneak preview of their upcoming director's choice ballet. this year, among a balanchine piece, dwight rhoden has choreographed a 30-minute world premiere ballet based on the works of artist romare bearden. this is cool for several reasons.

first of all, romare bearden is from charlotte, although he moved to new york city when he was young. many of his colorful collages and paintings center around the civil rights movement and african american culture, as well as the harlem renaissance and scenes from the passion of the christ. i learned about him in college and studied his work with the great susan carlisle bell, so it was exciting to see dance based on his work.

second of all, dwight rhoden is a huge deal. if you're wondering where you've heard his name, it's possibly from so you think you can dance, where he has choreographed many pieces. he has also choreographed for cirque de soleil (by the way, if anyone wants to take me to see totem in charlotte, that would be okay), kelly clarkson, lenny kravitz and prince. from what i've seen, i love his choreography.

third of all, i've seen one other company rehearsal before at ncdt, but sitting in on one is about the most insanely fantastic thing ever. it's like all of my ballerina books and movies as a child coming to life before my eyes. last night i realized i was smiling like a fool just watching. it was fascinating watching dwight at work (who, by the way, wears the skinniest jeans i've ever seen on a man. i'm pretty sure they wouldn't fit me.) and just as fascinating watching the dancers as they learned the steps and the emotions dwight was trying to convey. i also really enjoyed hearing dwight discuss how he translated bearden's pieces in to choreography. it was a magical evening that came with really delicious free local cheese and a really delicious free merlot (which i normally don't like). i can't wait to see the actual performance in a few weeks!

all images via jeff willhelm for the charlotte observer
bearden piece: "one night stand" mixed media collage on masonite, 1974


i judge you when you use poor grammar

i realize that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. i realize that not everyone is as hopelessly (annoyingly?) devoted to writing correctly as some. and, i realize that we all have the occasional typo. but, see, here's the thing - we live in a world with spell-check, grammar-check, and instant connections to people who can proofread for us. meaning, i just don't really think there's an excuse for poor grammar and punctuation/bad spelling. it absolutely kills me in blog-land and on facebook. kills me. and i find it quite often in the real world, too. i don't think you need to know every rule in the book (commas themselves can get confusing in a complex sentence), but at least know the basics. 

before i lost all the photos on my blackberry, i had a nice little photo collection of incorrect items in print and on signs. it somehow made me feel better to document their painfully blatant errors. it's sad i can't share them with you. and i'm not the only one all of this dreadful grammar/spealling bothers - my friend lindsey (who is a very wise high schooler) recently said that she often wanted to tell boys they would be much more attractive if they just learned how to spell. so true. not that you asked for it, but here are a few of my most major pet peeves...

1. the your and you're conundrum. i realize this is apparently very difficult for some people, but it drives me insane. incorrect use of "your" is only one of the many truly terrible things about this shirt above, but still, you'd think someone along the line of production would have caught this. 
your = possessive (as in, the noun belongs to that person): "that is your shirt.", "can i borrow your car?", "i loved your present."
you're = you are: "i'm so glad you're coming tonight.", "you're so funny."
so simple, yet so seemingly difficult. 

2. woman vs. women. this one really isn't hard at all, yet i see it often. even a headline in a magazine was misprinted recently.
woman = singular. like one female.
women = plural. like a group of females. 

3. the there/their/they're conundrum. again, it is killing me.
there = a place/location: "we're going there after lunch.", "i'll meet you there at 11:30."
their = possessive: "that's their table.", "i was going to take their offer before i received yours."
they're = they are. that's all. so easy, right? "they're coming over after the movie."

4. effect vs. affect. this is probably my favorite one in the bunch. and by favorite, i mean, i literally have to suppress the urge to correct people on blogs/facebook.
effect = noun. as in, it is the result of something. "the effects of using poor grammar are dangerous." 
affect = verb. as in, it is causing results. "your poor grammar is really affecting our friendship."  

5. please, please, please stop ending sentences with prepositions. this one is acceptable in every day speech with friends/family, but do you know when it's not acceptable? in a presentation at work. or, on the nightly news. not okay. and never, ever, ever in professional writing. i know some say that this rule is a myth, but i'm going to go ahead and say that you sound smarter and more sophisticated if you follow this rule. and, bonus, i will think you're cool. here are some examples:
bad: "who did you speak with?"
good: "with whom did you speak?"
bad: "who did you give that cake to?"
good: "to whom did you give that cake?"
bad: "which desk did you leave my coffee cup on?"
good: "on which desk did you leave my coffee cup?"
see? it's so easy. now you try it. 

6. and, finally, the apostrophe rule. an apostrophe signals possession, not more than one of something. one of my favorite examples? a sign in downtown concord that reads: "artist studio's available." i really can't even stand to look at it. the studios are owning nothing in that phrase. instead, there are more than one of them available. so really, the sign should read "artist studios available." the same rule applies above. i'm pretty sure those tats aren't owning anything. apostrophes are appropriate only when someone owns something: "those are sarah's grapes." see? the grapes belong to sarah, so she gets an apostrophe. there are multiple grapes, but they own nothing so they don't have an apostrophe. 

...aaaand that's just the tip of the iceberg. i'm tempted to do a weekly grammar lesson post focusing on the countless errors i see, but i'm pretty sure the few readers i have would then also be lost. anyway, the book, eats, shoots and leaves has been on my reading list for quite some time now and apparently the british author was inspired to write it after being driven nearly mad by poor grammar and punctuation. i feel like we should probably be friends. 

forgive me for taking such a long time on my soapbox this evening, but i just couldn't hold it in anymore. i'll leave you with this facebook status i saw a few days ago. if you can't figure out what's wrong with it, then i'd advise you to maybe figure out how to use spell check on your computer. and maybe stop posting facebook statuses yourself until then...

"i really hate it when people don't get the whole there/their/they're consept."

oh. my. gosh.

images 1.pinterest 2.tumblr 3.flickr 4.abcnews.com



this afternoon, i had a meeting at fabo cafe in charlotte (located on selwyn avenue). quite simply, it rocked. its full of fun local art (jewelry and furniture included) and has a lot of delicious pedestal stands full of fresh baked delicious-looking so-worth-every-calorie goodies (i abstained...this time). we met the owner, who was super friendly and informed us that every last thing in her shop (including the coffee) was made locally. which is really fabo-lous, if you ask me (see what i did there?). the set-up is fun and colorful and modern and apparently they have quite a lunch menu as well. judging from my sugar free vanilla iced latte, they know what they're doing. its a bit of a haul for me, but i hope to make it back again soon.

my meeting was pretty long, so i didn't have a chance to really take in the pieces, but i was particularly taken with the fun chairs scattered around the cafe. apparently, those particular chairs are not for sale, but ex-nascar driver (apparently she was cool waaay before danica) and designer shawna robinson, creator of happy chairs takes orders. they're unique and fun and range from really crazy to really elegant to really anthropologie-like. i'm a big fan of the sunflower one below, but i'd encourage you to check out her site to see the others!

images: 1.fabocafe.com 2.charlotte magazine 3.shawnarobinson.com


year one

"i was still standing
on a northern corner.

moonlit winter clouds the color of the desperation of wolves.

of Your existence? there is nothing

- franz wright from walking to martha's vineyard (2003)

image via mhatfield182.xanga

bi-cycle, bi-cycle!

i love bicycles, especially beach cruisers. they're so lovely and nostalgic. apparently i'm behind the curve here, but i had no idea that so many designers had couture beach cruisers. they are all so cute and most cost more than my car. i kind of feel like these are probably made for incredibly rich people who have no idea what to do with their disposable income?

the hermes cruiser, $4000

the gucci cruiser, $6365

and, last but not least, the chanel cruiser. apparently everything on this bicycle is top-of-the-line. the leather on the seat is made from brooks brothers and so on. all for the low price of $17,000. apparently there were only about 50 made and only about 20 available in the US. 

i could understand spending a few grand for a really quality road bike, but for a cute beach cruiser? something you're going to chain up outside at the market? yeah, right. personally, i would really love this one, which costs only $89.97 at wal-mart. in my opinion, it's actually cuter than the three above (but would be much cuter with a wicker basket on the front, which i would definitely add):

and, finally, i also kind of love this sunny yellow one, also from walmart, at $129 (although, again, i'd replace the basket):

assuming i find a job in dc in the near future, i'll probably actually be purchasing one of these.

images: 1.theneotraditionalist.com 2.hermes 3.gucci 4.chanel 5-6.walmart


friday spring fever

this glorious weather has me so giddy. i have my windows open and am enjoying the breeze and hearing the kids at the elementary school across my street playing outside again. as much as i love fall and winter (and as much as i'm not looking forward to the summer),  i am really excited about spring. i miss wearing floaty dresses and sleeping without 16 layers on. spring's approach means yard sales and farmer's markets will again soon occupy my saturday morning agenda and that i can once again drive around with my sunroof open and drink coffee on the swing in my backyard. so, happy friday and enjoy some spring pretties...

images: 1.matchbookmag.tumblr 2.vintageandchicblog.com 3.etsy 4.vis.ualize.us 5.luckyandlovely.com 6.country living 7.missjordanlee.blogspot 8.emily nathan photography via cargocollective.com 9.weheartit

hot mama

if you don't already read her blog, my awesome friend blair is very pregnant (not that you can even tell in this photo from christmas). she still, however, is awesome. i'm particularly proud of her for the following:

1. she still wears heels in her eighth month.
2. she still wears insanely cute clothes in her eighth month.
3. she still goes to the gym almost every day.
4. she wants to go antiquing with me next weekend, which includes trekking through barns full of old furniture, farm equipment, and probably a lot of mice.
5. she has refused to buy in to the horrible epidemic of themed nurseries. no matching butterfly wallpaper border, crib set, and chair pad for this baby, thank goodness.
6. despite pregnancy hormones, she didn't (really) cry when her car was towed in charlotte a few months back. she even tried to talk the recovery fee down at the impound lot. sadly, it didn't work.
7. she refuses to waddle, which we both believe isn't necessary.
8. she hasn't complained about anything or used her pregnancy as an excuse. seriously. (unless you count trying to get a discount at the impound lot, which i would have tried too, so i don't.)
9. she is all about baby wise, and i love her for it.
10. she went to a class to learn about car seats. she's going to be an awesome mom.

now that she's finally blogged about our saturday crafting adventure a few weeks ago, i'm going to as well. in an effort to make baby j the cutest, trendiest baby girl around, blair, lindsey and i set to work with five of the tiniest onesies i've ever seen (i'm pretty sure my dolls' clothes growing up were bigger), lots of fabric scraps, some interfacing, and our best attempt at capturing all of etsy's creativity in my living room. i think we were all very pleased with the results...

while baby j will likely grow out of these in five minutes (it's possible she won't even wear them all), it was definitely worth the effort. i'm particularly fond of my bird, which doesn't photograph as cute as it looks in person.

i'm really, really glad that i'm not going to have something this small and needy to contend with in april, but i'm also really, really excited that i get to play with someone else's cute baby and then give her back when she starts crying/pooping/spitting up. it's a win-win situation if you ask me.


soup du jour

i tend to prefer broth-y soups to bisques. they are generally too rich and too creamy and i feel gross after eating them. that said, i do occasionally crave a good cheesy soup - broccoli cheese, potato cheese, etc. it's all very delicious. broccoli-cheese soup day during my middle and high school years were among my favorites (right up there with tuna salad on crackers). i recently came across this recipe from an old issue of cooking light and i loooovvvveeee it. it has potatoes, broccoli and cheese, but is still surprisingly light as the base is made from chicken broth instead of cream. this amazingly gorgeous spring-like weather we've been having doesn't really call for soup, but i'm sure we'll have at least one more cold spell before spring officially sets in, so i highly suggest you put this on your meal schedule for then.

baked potato and broccoli soup

1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 (14 1/4 ounce) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, divided
3 cups peeled, cubed potato (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups 2% reduced fat milk (i used skim)
1 (8 ounce) block 2% sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. shred cheese. the recipe recommends freshly shredded versus the pre-shredded variety for "additional creaminess and even melting". i agree. i prefer cabot's seriously sharp cheddar.

2. whisk together flour and 1/3 cup chicken broth until smooth. set aside.

3. combine remaining chicken broth and next three ingredients in a dutch oven. bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer eight minutes or until potatoes are tender.

4. gradually stir in flour mixture. cook, stirring often, for five minutes.

5. stir in milk and eight ounces shredded cheese. cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese melts.

*note: if you haven't noticed in these photos, i was too lazy to peel the potatoes. i've made it both ways, and i definitely recommend peeling. the flavor's a lot better.

optional toppings:
1. extra shredded cheese
2. crumbled bacon
3. chopped green onions



i feel like i may have mentioned this on my blog the first time i received a sample a year or so ago, but my standard marc jacobs fragrance may need to watch out - viktor & rolf flowerbomb is quickly becoming my new favorite scent. i got a little over-excited with the tester at nordstrom on sunday, so i had the opportunity to enjoy it on my hair and clothes for about 24 hours and i still like it. i'd say that's true love. v&r describe it as "a profusion of flowers that has the power to make everything seem more positive...will immediately awaken your deepest senses, giving you the impression of living life in your own secret garden away from hard reality". and here all this time, i just thought it smelled nice. who knew? 

i do still love marc, though, and until marshall's or tj maxx decides to discount flowerbomb by at least 50%, marc will remain my one and only.


the menil

a few weeks ago while i was in houston visiting my brother aaron and his girlfriend gracie, we spent saturday afternoon wandering through the menil collection, one of houston's best art museums. the exhibits for the most part focus on surrealist, modern, and indigenous art and while i wouldn't necessarily say those areas are generally my favorites, i really, really enjoyed it. gracie is currently interning there, so she had a lot of fun insider information to contribute. admission is free, which made me exceedingly happy and the collections are spread across a small "campus" of buildings, so walking between them (where there are also a lot of sweet bungalows, a few galleries, and a decent park/quad area) was a nice experience as well.
here are a few personal highlights...

kurt schwitters
born in germany in the late 1800's, schwitters began his career as a painter, but is known for his extensive collage and assemblage work. he coined the term "merz" (derived from the german word for commerce) to describe his work and his effort to "make connections if possible between everything in the world". the temporary exhibit (we actually hit it on its last day - lucky!) featured mostly collages and assemblages, but also included a walk-through reconstruction of merzbau, an installation that filled an entire room in schwitters' home and served as a studio and venue for special events. personally, i loved the collages for three reasons: 1.he drew interesting parallels between seemingly unrelated objects 2.not a very enlightened reason, but they were beautiful. the colors in many were muted and looked like lovely vintage art you might find in your grandma's attic. 3.they served as a tiny glimpse in to his world - old programs, tickets, photographs, coins, household objects, the list goes on. it was like a mini exhibit of german tchotchkes from the early 20th century.

cy twombly
while i do like twombly's work, i was a little more excited about these fun facts: 1.he has north carolina ties and studied at black mountain college 2.he lives in lexington, virginia, where i spent some time a few summers ago. it's super. 3.he served as a cryptologist in the army, which automatically makes him cool like robert langdon.  4. his dad pitched for the white sox. 5.in 2007, a lady in france got arrested for kissing (and leaving a bright red lipstick stain) on one of his pieces.
his abstract expressionism and pop art work is childlike, bright and reminds me of cool graffiti or something a very creative four-year-old might produce. a lot of his pieces are really large and fill entire walls, which is always striking. his work seemed light and happy and i enjoyed the scrawling quotes among all the color on many of the canvases. his influences include greek and roman mythology and geography as well as epic poetry.

the byzantine fresco chapel
while the oustide of this chapel is rather unimpressive, it houses several small 13th century frescoes from cyprus. the frescoes were actually stolen from their home in turkey in the 1980's and broken in to 38 pieces. dominique de menil rescued (as in, paid ransom to the thieves) and restored them over two years. they now are displayed together in the same way they were originally. i remember being captivated by the process of the fresco (in which the artist mixes pigment with plaster or similar medium) in my freshman art survey class in college, and the works are exquisitely preserved and so beautiful in person. the chapel itself (designed by francois de menil) inside is breathtaking and i loved the modern display of the historic pieces. seems like it would be an amazing place to spend time in worship, reflection or solitude. they do hold weekly services there, and i really wish i could attend!

otherwise, there was a lot of extremely interesting, very very old indigenous art, a thought-provoking and somewhat disturbing exhibit on television and disaster by vija celmins, a very creepy surrealist "room of wonders" (no, thanks), one extremely unsettling piece of hairy cheese, and a lot of really beautiful inuit masks, tools, and paintings. these were also some of my favorites - after visiting alaska this summer i have found myself with quite an affinity for the beauty of totem poles and related works.

overall, it was an exceptionally great visit - if you ever have the chance to go, i'd encourage it!

images: 1.menil.org 2.die heilige nacht (the holy night), schwitters 1947 3.proteus, twombly, 1984 4.architecture.uwaterloo.ca 5.berkshirefinearts.com 6.annualmeeting.oah.org