Sunday, August 23, 2009

CD101's Summerfest.

Yesterday, Belkis and I headed out to CD101's Summerfest. CD101 is probably the best station we have locally in Columbus, and this year, they got a bunch of great bands to play for their annual Summerfest. It was 5 bucks, so we couldn't exactly say no. There were a lot of bands there, but I'll just highlight the ones I enjoyed. Others that played were Mike Snow, the Living Things, Company of Thieves, and stellastarr*, but Belkis and I agreed that those groups were a bit lacking. For example, the singer for Company of Thieves had a lovely voice, almost like Regina Spektor, but unfortunately, the songs were boring and did not do her voice justice.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. We were pretty tired by the time Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears took the stage, but they were still awesome. A little bit of funk, a little bit of blues, and a lot of fun. And Joe Lewis also had a crazy shriek that got the audience going every time. Did I mention that the guitarist kind of looks like Jake Gyllenhaal? Hot. Also check out their great video for "Sugarfoot."

Matt & Kim. This group was obviously the audience favourite. Kim was the sweetest, and kept an infectious smile on her face during their entire set. Probably most known for their songs "Daylight" and "Yea Yeah," they were cheerful and genuine--and Matt wasn't at all obnoxious like he appears in their videos. They were also immensely fun, although their music is not particularly my taste.

Band of Skulls. I was actually blown away by how good Band of Skulls was. I had only heard "I Know What I Am" before Summerfest, which apparently just doesn't do them justice. Their awesomely gritty and sexy rock was tempered by unexpectedly beautiful songs with great harmonic vocals, like in "Honest."

Envelope. Columbus local rapper, he won his spot at the CD101 Summerfest. At this year's Comfest (Community Festival), he was cut short for being too loud, and his loyal fans rectified this by voting him into the coveted space at Summerfest. If you've never heard "Day Dream Nation," go listen to it now! I was silent after I first heard it on CD101, fathoming how amazing it was. Also great: "Stay Gold," as in "Stay gold, Pony Boy." The Outsiders much? Ah, junior high. He also released doves at the end of his set. Epic.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Girls' "Hellhole Ratrace."

My friend Jack from Boulder introduced me to this beautiful, surreal debut video from San Francisco's band Girls. It reminds me of going to house shows in Boulder--drinking straight gin and listening to joke metal or Velvet Davenport.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Movies: "Julie and Julia," "Sunshine Cleaning," and "Elephant."

Yesterday was a good day! Cody and I met Belkis and Zorn for ice cream and went to see "Julie and Julia," which was actually completely adorable. If you haven't seen it yet, check out the trailer here. It made me want to pick up one of my favourite cookbooks, like "Moosewood" or "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" and try a new recipe!

Seeing "Julie and Julia" reminded me of another movie I've seen with Amy Adams recently, "Sunshine Cleaning." They were showing it on the flight from Houston to Portland, and although I could barely hear it, I enjoyed it quite a bit--especially more than the movie my mom chose next, "New In Town," where every Minnesota accent was faked so poorly it was embarrassing. Has Renée Zellweger been in anything moderately good lately? The answer is resoundingly no. No, she has not.

Well, anyway, here is the trailer for "Sunshine Cleaning."

Two nights ago, Cody and I also watched "Elephant," a film by Gus Van Sant. I'd always been curious because I'd heard such good reviews. Overall, Cody and I agreed that it was a very refreshing film. It was based on the Columbine shootings, but instead of passing judgements and trying to make the victims seem like perfect, angelic human beings while demonizing the killers, it simply was. It showed what was likely an average day at Columbine High School, full of the single-minded pursuit of the photographer, the bingeing of several of the girls, the embarrassment faced by one of the girls that didn't quite fit in, the alcoholism of one boy's father, and the strangely beautiful mind of one of the killers, among others.

At points, though, the movie seemed as if it was dragging on. As Cody put it simply and accurately, "There was a lot of walking in that movie." For some reason, probably 75% consisted of students walking from place to place and the other 25% had some other action to it. In fact, only in the last twenty minutes or so do the two killers begin their assault on the school. I'm not sure if Gus Van Sant did that intentionally, because you are aware that the shooting is going to occur, but you just don't know when. When the pair enter the building, you are almost relieved, but of course, when you see the cruelty and the devastation wrought, that sentiment is immediately regretted.

I think that Cody and I both appreciated the movie a lot once we were able to slow down and let it unfold. There were no heroes; there were victims, but not all ones that you particularly liked; there were no villains. You could point the finger of blame on several people, if you really wanted to, but it wasn't ever encouraged. "Elephant" was quite poetically told and moving. On a less serious note, it also made me incredibly happy that I am no longer in high school. Yikes.

Today, Cody and I are setting out to do some dress shirt and pants shopping for him. He finished his bartending certification and has gotten a job! The restaurant manager raised her offer to $7.75 an hour plus tips, which of course, he just couldn't turn down. I'm very excited for him! I'm moving about two hours from here for more college, so now I must find a job too, but I have a lot of food service/catering experience, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

I hope you are having a fantastic day!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Matthew and Cassie's Wedding.

Wow, I have been kind of terrible at keeping up with my blog lately. It has been very busy, between house-sitting for my mom, getting ready to move again for college, and, of course, going to Oregon for my brother Matthew's wedding!

Matthew and Cassie had rented a beach house along the Oregon coast, and the ten members of our immediate families moved in together for a few days (it sounds like a potential nightmare, but it went very well!). We took walks, cooked delicious dinners, made a bonfire, went out to eat at a fantastic restaurant along the pier, and went to the aquarium! The girls went to a salon to get manicures and pedicures, and it was incredibly relaxing. We also did some whale-watching, and actually spotted a whale or two! It was very exciting.

Matthew and Cassie. They met in Alaska a few years ago, and later moved to Utah, where their love for rock climbing and bouldering has absolutely flourished (as well as their love for each other, obviously!).

Cassie with her parents, Leo and Dottie. They were very sweet. Aren't their bare feet adorable?

The minister, Mary, was so warm and perfect for the wedding! She read aloud the messages Matthew and Cassie had written to each of their family members. It was very emotional for all of us!

In turn, each of us had a chance to say something to Matthew and Cassie, whether we offered advice or just uttered how happy we were that the two of them had found each other.

Even their dog Mojo was relatively well-behaved! Matthew, Cassie, Mary, Nicholas (Matthew's twin), me, Bruce (my step-dad), Leo, Dottie, Matt (Cassie's brother, not to be confused with Matthew), Janine (our mom), and Mojo. Not pictured is Katie, Nicholas's girlfriend, because she was taking photos! Thank you, Katie!!

You can keep up with Matthew and Cassie on all of their crazy adventures at their blog. More photos of the wedding here, and hopefully Matt will put up more shortly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I recently won the weekly giveaway from Danni over at Oh, Hello Friend! I received a beautifully crocheted piece by Tiffany of Muntedkowhai (pronounced Munted-ko-fai). So great! I love the contrast of lace and metal in her work. Check out her great shop and her inspiration-full blog! She also has some absolutely gorgeous pieces in her bridal collection. Tiffany is so talented and very sweet!

On another note, I got back from visiting my dad in Arkansas on Sunday. We mostly ate tons of good food and started painting his bathroom and kitchen. The bathroom was lilac, deep purple, and forest green--separately, lovely colours, but together, they were horrible! We chose a Benjamin Moore colour called "apricot ice"--so very nice!--for the walls. We started with a nice bright teal, but ended up unsure about that. I think we will end up with a more teal-gray instead. For the kitchen, we chose a colour called "parchment," and it pretty much lives up to that name. For the trim, I think he is going to choose a nice pale orange. Both rooms get very little light, so we decided to choose the most warm, light colours we could. After I returned, Cody and I went to Comfest and then to his dad's house. We returned on Monday, but I left my suitcase packed because I'm heading to my mom's today to house-sit (and dog- and cat-sit!) while she is on her first trip of retirement, to Italy! I am greatly looking forward to a few weeks of relaxing, eating tons of fresh garden veggies, swimming in the river, and hanging out with my favourite dog, the very sweet Lucky! My mom was worried about who she would get to watch the house, but when she asked me, I just replied, "Are you kidding me? Of course I'll watch the house!" You don't have to ask me twice!

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's A Girl to Do?

Bat for Lashes from Adam Bracegirdle on Vimeo.

I love this video for Bat for Lashes's single "What's a Girl to Do?" It is creepy and dreamlike, and just about screams "Donnie Darko" from the hoodie-wearing, mask-clad human-creatures that appear out of nowhere to synchronize bike behind Natasha Khan. I love the eerie, deserted road and the Day of the Dead-inspired figures lurking just outside of the woods. Fantastic.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Plastic vs. wood

We spent almost the entire weekend in Williams-Sonoma, ending up with a new Shun citrus knife, three of these amazing Swiss non-stick knives by Kuhn Rikon, a lovely set of sunshine-yellow mixing bowls, a Microplane grater for hard and soft cheeses (which actually makes the cheese taste better!), and a slew of other items...

I spent most of the time oogling over the lovely wood salad bowls (and my new Kuhn Rikon knife, which is sunshine yellow too!). There is just something about wooden kitchenware items for me. Cody, who is completely obsessive about "germs," washes all of our dishes on the "sanitize" setting on our dishwasher. He complains about all of our wood cutting boards and spoons, whereas I just adore them and despise (depise!) silicon.

When I showed him another lovely wooden set, Cody said, "I like wood too, but it's too porous. You can never clean it well." His dad overheard and said, "You know, they actually found that wood retains less bacteria than plastic." I was a little blown away by this statement, because the FDA mandates all non-porous (aka plastic) cutting boards, utensils, etc. in restaurants, and the USDA suggests the use of plastic in the home, a decision which a spokesperson mentioned was simply "common sense." How could this be?, I wondered.

As it turns out, there were several studies in the mid-1990s to see if there was a difference between plastic and wood. Explains one of the researchers, "We began our research comparing plastic and wooden cutting boards after the U.S. Department of Agriculture told us they had no scientific evidence to support their recommendation that plastic, rather than wooden cutting boards, be used in home kitchens" (Dean O. Cliver).

The USDA standards also lacked guidelines for home disinfection of cutting surfaces. So, explains Cliver, he and his fellow researcher Nese O. Ak set out to discover if there was a way to disinfect a wooden cutting surface so that it might be as sanitary as a plastic cutting surface. They thought, as most do, that plastic surfaces were less porous and so must be more sanitary.

They began inoculating a plastic board and a wooden board with the "cultures of common food-poisoning agents--up to 10,000 cells of Salmonella, Listeria, or Escherichia cali" (from here). What they found blew them away. 99.9 percent of the bacteria on the wooden board were unrecoverable and thought to be dead. Under the same conditions, none of the bacteria placed on the plastic died. They were excited and worried. How could the bacteria on the wooden cutting board simply disappear? And what if they resurfaced to infect food later?

They left both of the boards in a high-humidity and temperature room overnight, and found that in the morning, the microbe population on the plastic cutting board grew enormously, while the population on the wooden cutting board remained non-existant.

Furthermore, they tested exactly how long 1,000 Salmonella cells would survive on a wooden cutting board that bore knife scores (1,000 is the high-end estimation of how many of these cells get onto the board from a chicken). Their result was three minutes.

They also found no re-emergence of the harmful cells from the wooden boards.

In contrast, a plastic board with knife scores will not only absorb more of the bacteria, these bacteria will survive a soapy hot-water bath and were seen to re-emerge to contaminate foods. Furthermore, most home dishwashers only reach about 120-140 degrees F, but you need a temperature of at least 190 degrees F to sanitize plastic cutting boards (from here).

There were some discrepancies with wood, however. Wood that had been treated to be less porous ("more like plastic") was found to be much less effective at fighting off harmful bacteria, and this treated wood is commonly sold for household kitchens.

Both plastic and wooden cutting boards can be completely safe if properly sanitized, but plastic cutting boards must be discarded after heavy use, whereas good wooden cutting boards can be used for ages. I think it's an interesting thing to think about, and there's a lot about it to discuss, as well as much more research to be done. However, wood is not any more porous than plastic, and wood is also easier on your cutlery. Furthermore, it has been proven that there is something about wood (commonly thought to be an enzyme) that makes it more able to fight off bacteria. So, I think that's pretty cool research for those of us who couldn't give up wood, even in the face of criticism from our housemates and friends.

For another very interesting study about wood versus plastic, please read this PDF.

(Image found via Google Images/here)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Oh, Hello Friend.

I just thought I'd give everyone a head's-up on this giveaway. Many lovely prizes! Enter by Monday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Have you ever watched the 1996 French film "Microcosmos?" It is intensely awesome. That up-close with the lives of insects and so intimately involved with the state of the Earth, it is a new way of looking at things. And, the way it is filmed makes you feel as though it's all fake--just a little dreamworld. It is quite lovely, between the nearly still, simple images to the downright laughable parts. And, you certainly shouldn't miss the highly dramatic and somewhat awkward snail love scene, set to beautiful operatic music.

This video is made by YouTube user jthelms. It is Radiohead's song "All I Need" set to scenes from "Microcosmos." Very lovely!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2010: The Year of Lewis Carroll

Oh my goodness. I don't think that any movie except for Sophia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" has much influenced fashion and design lately. But, in 2010, this is very likely to change. You see, 2010 is the release year for Tim Burton's mostly-live-actor remake of "Alice in Wonderland" and Marilyn Manson's "Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll." No, read that again. Yes, Marilyn Manson.

It may surprise you that Marilyn Manson is venturing into film, but he has long expressed a desire to explore film and art forms other than just music. "Art?!" you scoff, "Marilyn Manson doesn't make art!" Well, call it what you will, but whatever it is, he has done it unabashedly (but if he ever tries to cover Gary Numan's "Down in the Park" again...).

And, I have incredibly high hopes for his upcoming film, which is a deeper look into the man behind Alice in Wonderland, a man which Manson describes as being of "a split personality--a person who was deaf in his right ear and left-handed. He was a mathematician and an artist, a deacon in a church who believed in evolution."

The story that Manson is choosing to tell in his film follows Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, as he unfolds his novel and is haunted by his creations. Manson relates to Carroll in a way, which is why he has chosen him as the center of his movie. Explains Manson, both he and Carroll are "odd," creating mostly at night, and have changed their names in an attempt to reinvent themselves--or hide from past demons.

Manson's film is an attempt to bring back Alfred Hitchcock-style horror, something I am incredibly grateful for. I cannot stand blood, gore, and the meaninglessness of current horror films. Says Manson, "Sometimes what you don’t see is scarier." He also mentions that he would like to skip the computer-animated effects altogether, instead opting for a magician alone.

The premise of the movie, then, is Lewis Carroll, played by Marilyn Manson himself, haunted by his creations. It also includes someone whom I'm very excited about (and is basically the reason I needed to write this post)--Lily Cole as Alice! I'm not sure why, but ever since I saw her in a Vogue-produced magazine called Fashion Rocks about three years ago, alongside Marilyn Manson, I have been intrigued. In the spread with Marilyn Manson, she rocks a kind of goth/punk vibe, which I enjoy immensely. She has a lovely, doll-like face, but something darker there too. I find it to be kind of a welcome departure from the almost too light and cheerful trend recently. Don't get me wrong--I love ditsy flower prints as much as you, but I enjoy diversity and dark mystery, cozy comfort, too. Oh! It also has another light-and-dark girl, this one a past girlfriend of Manson, Evan Rachel Wood. She plays Alice's alter ego. I'm beginning to think Manson should just go the whole nine yards and stick another of his past muses in his movie--Fiona Apple.

The soundtrack will likely be original music by Manson that was "too theatrical" to be placed on any of his albums, and also probably the song "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" by Roxy Music. Umm. Should be interesting.

Will Manson go completely over-the-top with this? Of course. It may be altogether unpleasant to watch. But at least it will be an attempt at innovation, and hey, it will have Lily Cole in it. It doesn't particularly get better than that.

The other Lewis Carroll movie, for which my excitement pales in comparison to "Phantasmagoria," is Tim Burton's remake of "Alice in Wonderland." Burton has once again cast his crew of regulars, including Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Burton's wife Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen. Also a return from Alan Rickman (as the Caterpillar, how great!), who is just generally an enjoyable actor. Nothing impressive of his casting of Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. I don't think I've ever seen her in an enjoyable movie. But, I am excited about Stephen Fry as the Chesire Cat! Oh my goodness! He was so great in "V for Vendetta." There are several other noteable actors and actresses, but that is what the IMDB page is for.

So who is Alice? It is Mia Wasikowska, whom I've never heard of, but that just makes her all the more interesting. She beat out Lyndsay Lohan and Amanda Seyfried, both of "Mean Girls" fame, for the role. I would kind of have liked to see Lindsay Lohan, but it's just because of my potentially unhealthy love of redheads.

This film is Burton's remake of sorts of Disney's 1951 film. However, this is essentially a new story, more focused on Alice's return to Wonderland several years later. She finds it rather overgrown and perhaps a bit haunted, but very colourful still. She escapes from Victorian society, where she finds she doesn't exactly fit in, to visit Wonderland. It perhaps will be an interesting take.

Really, it's likely that neither movie will be exactly what we want as far as plot goes (much like "Marie Antoinette")...but, they will likely be a lovely montage of decorating ideas, if nothing else. And, I am still unabashedly excited for "Phantasmagoria." For sure.

What are your preliminary thoughts on these films? And who are your favourite light-and-dark girls (and, for goodness sake, suggest a different name for such girls, haha!)?

(Images of Lily Cole and Marilyn Manson from Fashion Rocks magazine; other two are Google images, hooray!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hungarian Fruit Squares.

A few weekends ago, I visited my mom for Mother's Day. She informed me the day before that I needed to make desert, so I chose something easy and delicious--Hungarian fruit squares. They're good for last-minute deserts because the materials are almost all household staples.

For this recipe, you need:

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup margarine/butter

2 eggs, beaten

2 tsp vanilla

2 10 oz. (possibly more, depending on your taste) jam/jelly/preserves of any flavour

optional: chopped walnuts

Simply sift together your flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. We ended up using salted butter, so we used half of the salt recommended (and it really made no difference). Using your mixer (or arm strength if you're a warrior), cut in your butter/margarine. Add your beaten eggs and vanilla, and mix.

Set your oven for 350 degrees and grease your cookie sheet (disregard my fruit squares photo...because obviously I had no cookie sheet). Divide your dough, 3/4 and 1/4, and stick your 1/4 mixture in the fridge. Spread the remaining 3/4 of the dough onto the cookie sheet. Spread half of your jam on one half of the dough, and the other half on the other. I chose this great kiwi jam and also conchord grape jam that Cody's dad made. We had a ton of both, and they were delicious!

Once the remaining 1/4 is fairly chilled, spread some flour on your work surface (and your rolling pin...or uhh Pom glass as was the case for me) and roll it out. Then, cut it in thin strips for lattice-work over the top. My grandmother used to use a fancy-edged tool to make it look really pretty, but it will look nice either way. You might want to try to press the edges of the lattice into the bottom dough, but it really is fine either way. At this point, you can sprinkle a few walnuts over the top. I chose not to because we didn't have walnuts on hand, and because Cody is allergic to nuts.

Bake for 30 minutes, cut, and serve!

Friday, May 15, 2009


We had a lot of white-tailed deer where I grew up in Ohio. As you drove at night, you would see their eyes, glinting yellow or green, along the road. They always traveled in groups. People tried to hunt them, but to no avail. Our county was simply overrun with them.

I followed their trampled-earth trails in the woods, and sometimes found the ground beaten down where they had slept for the night. There is something poetic about a deer; they are so elegant and beautiful.

Cardboard Safari. Recycled cardboard that comes to you ready to assemble. They have bison and other trophy heads as well.

E. Soule. Great Polaroid prints! They make me dream of a beautiful little world.

I Suwanee mentioned her mom's "banantlers." They are so fantastic...I am completely reminded of hunting for deer antlers in the woods and fields. Bucks rub them off on trees after mating, and you have to get to them before the mice do.

This office over at Apartment Therapy just makes me giddy. The silly deer (maybe more of a caribou?); the green glass; the antique table; the plant; the's all so quirky and perfect.

(First photo is of Neko Case, a fantastic singer/songwriter/musician)

Friday, May 8, 2009


I have been wanting to start a covers version of my blog for a little while now, so I thought I'd start it off with the song "Jimmy," or "Jimmy Adja/Aaja," which seems to mean "Jimmy, come here" in Hindi. I really consider a cover to be successful when it has taken an original song and made it new in the style of the artist covering it, and here is a great cover of a song from a 1982 Bollywood movie called "Disco Dancer." It was remade with new English lyrics (minus the chorus, of course!) by the amazingly talented M.I.A. M.I.A.'s version was later covered by my favourite band at this time, Of Montreal, who slowed it down into a less hyper little groove.

So, to start with, I have an unnatural obsession with Indian culture. I'm not sure where I picked this up (perhaps my favourite childhood movie, the 1995 remake of "A Little Princess?" This was also probably the origin of my attic fascination, love of Victorian fashion, and strange obsession with mopping...?!), but my ultimate dream country has got to be India. I guess I have a longing for an incredible vibrancy in life--I'm attracted strongly to kirtans, which is a mimicking song (or can also refer to a group of people gathered to sing devotional songs) like in bhakti (devotional) singing, or India's devotional songs, called rajas. I actively practice yoga and am interested in the religions, languages, foods, ideologies, and everything else about India. I also have a quirky penchant for the overly-dramatic aspect of Indian culture.

When I lived near downtown Boulder, I loved going to Gypsy Jewel. It was honestly the absolute greatest store that Boulder had to offer. True antiques from all parts of Asia, it had things you didn't know existed (at least outside of movies!). Didn't know you could really and truly purchase. It was fantastic. The owner of the shop was beautifully eccentric and absolutely glowed. I loved talking with her about her adventures to India, and I always left desperately yearning to travel. One of my favourite aspects of her shop--excluding the altars where you could leave a few pennies to a Buddhist or Hindu effigy--were her Bollywood movie posters. Epically and hilariously dramatic, they depicted Indian women with tears streaming down their faces or evil-looking men strangling other men with ties. Seriously. Epic.

So, in light of that, you have to understand now my weird obsession with Bollywood. And so begins our look at the song "Jimmy," originally from "Disco Dancer." Check out this freakin' pristine video. Though please excuse the poor quality. Eh, YouTube. Ya'know.

Fast forward. Over 20 years later: M.I.A.'s cover. M.I.A. is a British-born artist of Sri Lankan descent. You likely know her from the song "Paper Planes." She is probably, in my opinion, one of the most innovative artists still creating music. In her cover, M.I.A. keeps up with the Bollywood version in terms of hyperactivity and general style. For example, her video just screams "Bollywood!" However, M.I.A. has made the song her own by writing new English lyrics to the verse and incorporating her own loud (and awesome!) fashion sense into the video. M.I.A. rewrote the song after a journalist exploring Rwanda offered to take her on a "genocide tour," though she declined and wrote the song instead. M.I.A. is just cool.

Lastly, I cannot even imagine anything more amazingly perfect than my favourite artist currently (whom I fell in love with all over again after downloading their album "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?"), Of Montreal, to combine so many of my favourite elements. Of Montreal transform this song into a pretty chill and kinda funky beat. I just love that about them. Those of you familiar with Of Montreal will hear that this cover is a little more groove-worthy than dance-worthy like much of their other work, but it still carries a lot of Of Montreal's elements, which is why it's completely awesome. I think they would have made a fantastic music video for this song, but alas, that has not yet happened. Instead, enjoy the mp3!

I hope you are having a great Friday. =)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book shopping!

My Half-Price Book finds for today:

Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni, which is a memoir of growing up in an Iranian diaspora community in the U.S., and also moving back to Iran as an American.

The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad, which I talked about in this post.

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez, about an American woman who helps women in Afghanistan by opening a cosmetology school and allowing Afghanistan's women to become breadwinners for the family.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, a memoir about teaching Western literature to Iranian women.

The Solitude of Self by Vivian Gornick, a short reflection on Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who fought against slavery, pushed for women's suffrage in the mid-1850s, and then finally took on the power of the church. Awesome much?

I have also been trying out Swap Tree, which I have enjoyed thoroughly. This week I traded Faust and The Member of the Wedding from a comparative studies class I took last quarter. In return, I received:

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, is on the Oprah's Book Club list, which is good enough for me.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, about an autistic kid who doesn't understand human emotions, and is initially blamed for the death of a neighbor's dog.

Cody's finds for today:

Moby Dick by Herman Melville, you know.

Black Hole by Charles Burns, because it's my favourite graphic novel! Totally creepy, it's about a mysterious STD that's being passed around at a Washington-area high school in the 70's.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Phillip Lim's zipper dress.

An old Threadbanger post made me near-giddy with this dress by Phillip Lim. Hemp, organic silk, and recycled zippers. It's pretty much perfect.

Unfortunately, this Kate Bosworth girl that's sporting it is a bit misled. When asked about the dress, she said she chose it because she wanted to show how one could make a design that's "100 percent green."

She didn't prove anything.

The problem is, when using words like "eco-friendly," "sustainable," and "green," it gives people the false impression that there is a neutral carbon footprint, when, in fact, there is almost always something you can't offset. You can move towards a point of your design being more "eco-forward" or "more sustainable," but sustainability in itself is almost impossible. You always need to weigh the pro's and con's when making a decision on which is "more green." For example, is it more green to wash and reuse zip-lock bags or to buy a new box? You have to consider the energy used to make the bags, the non-recyclable/renewable nature of the material, the energy used to make the cardboard box, the water used to wash the get the idea. You can drive yourself insane contemplating what decisions are better for the environment, and, in turn, for us as a species.

I think that it is really important to acknowledge that survivalist side of the "green movement." Certainly an affinity for the Earth is a great motivation for some people to evaluate their options carefully in everyday life, but preserving the Earth should also be about saving it for future generations. I know this is almost grossly overused when talking about sustainability, but I really think that the quote, "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation" (Great Law of the Iroquois) rings true. Basically, we must think carefully about our use of resources and the directions we take in life so that the seventh generation will still have the same quality of life and the same Earth that we have (well, hopefully better on the Earth part!). That means ending wars, forging plans to preserve resources, improving the conditions of everyone in our country, and of course, making good personal decisions about resource management.

I think about this a lot, because even though I don't want to have children, I know many people who do. I remember growing up very angry at all of the things that my parents and their generation allowed to happen--how the free love movement devolved into cheap consumerism like everything else, how they let the importance of environmental protection fall to the wayside, how they elected representatives and presidents that were so corrupt it was sickening, how they were part of a huge counterculture movement, with massive change at their fingertips, and it all ended up being nothing. (I suppose studying history is kind of depressing.) I don't want future generations to look back and think that we blew it. As a species, we are incredibly powerful in shaping how things evolve for our children, and I think we should definitely not let the "green movement" go to waste!

However, I digress on my "100 percent green" point because really, trying to be more eco-focused is better than ignoring the problem altogether. I am also very excited that we have moved from a place of fatalism to positivism--just in a few years!--as far as environmentalism goes. Although I think we are misled to think that our classic consumerism can save us, I do think that the current state of affairs is a better place to be, in the very least. At least more positive than James Lovelock's gloomy (and then some!) prediction in a 2007 Rolling Stone article. Yikes. But. All of that for another time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Esprit Cabane.

I found this great site today called Esprit Cabane, which focuses on crafty and eco-forward projects. They have an awesome section for make-your-own paints and glues, with bases ranging from rice to potatoes. They have tutorials for projects big and small, but my favourites have to be these wire candle holders, fairy lights from upcycled egg cartons, and homemade herbariums! They are all such eloquent and simple projects! I am definitely inspired.

Crocheted leggings by Barbara Munsel.

I am really into these sweet crocheted leggings by clothing/fabric artist Barbara Munsel. My mom has an awesome collection of crocheted and damask tablecloths...perhaps one day they'll have accumulated too many wine stains and I will swoop in to upcycle them. ;)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Urban Renewal.

Urban Renewal is Urban Outfitter's line of one-of-a-kind, handmade apparel and accessories, with materials sourced from thrift stores and garage sales. I will be the first to admit that some of the pieces are ugly at best, but there are a handful of awesome designs. I'm also a fan of the cute illustrations that accompany each piece.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Terra Plana.

Terra Plana make the most fantastic shoes. The styles are diverse and lovely; the colours are perfect. Most designs have adorable, almost-kitschy stitching that make them all-the-more unique. The heels employ gloriously-thick recycled rubber pads on the bottom so you don't have to slip down a flight of stairs just because you wanted to wear cute heels (yeah, it's happened to me too).

But, best of all, Terra Plana's designs incorporate many eco-minded practices, such as vegetable-tanned leather, minimal glue, and local sourcing. And if you're thinking about your aching arches, consider this: Terra Plana also comforts your feet with recycled memory foam. Hooray! Many of their shoes are designed to be as light and "barefoot" as possible.

Some Terra Plana designs, like the men's loafer above, are made by unskilled, untrained African women in a project called the Soul of Africa, with proceeds benefitting orphans affected by the AIDs epidemic. I think that this is fantastic because in many parts of Africa, property is owned by men, so if a husband contracts AIDs and passes away, his property rarely goes to his wife, who is then left without food or a means to survive. This project is wonderful because it benefits both impoverished women and homeless orphans affected by AIDs.

Others, like these, recycle old Pakistani quilts. These designs have to be my favourites because they are so unique and so lovely.

It's okay, I'm in love too.