Friday, March 30, 2012

What Did I wear today?

Wow, it's been a really long time since I've worn my hair curly (I've been straightening it almost every day for the last month--this pic is about that old). While I've been growing it out it's been sitting awkwardly. Think the Cowardly Lion after he's been primped at the Emerald City, just shorter. Gotta love the middle stages of the growing out process.

Shoes: Anthropologie
Jacket: H&M (circa 2006)
Pants: The Gap
Tank: H&M
Buttondown: H&M
Bag: H&M (circa 2006)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Top 20 Favorite Songs (Right Now)

This ended up being a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. On my second blog, the one that I had from high school through college and was insanely emo on, I used to do this type of entry all the time. Although, in all honesty, the same songs would always make the cut and really only change by a track or two. This time around I tried to dig a little bit deeper and think about songs that 1. I love so much it hurts to listen to and 2. really get me pumped up and going (I usually think "HOLY CRAP LIFE IS AWESOME WITH MUSIC LIKE THIS IN THE WORLD" when listening to them, no matter how slow or sad they might be). This task ended up being ridiculously hard. Hopefully it's a more accurate reflection, though of the music I love...even if I know the moment I publish this the first thought in my head will be, "damnit! I can't believe I forgot to put that song on there!"

1. Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles - When this comes on in my car people are not allowed to speak. I'm so not kidding about that.
2. Black Mirror by Arcade Fire - So hard to choose an Arcade Fire song to go on this list, this won just happened to win out by being awesome.
3. Blue Ridge Mountains by Fleet Foxes - I love when this song picks up in the middle during the chorus, and as always their harmonies are amazing.
4. Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky - Favorite classical piece possibly ever, and a family favorite.
5. Gloria by U2 - I LOVE early U2. A dream concert for me would be going back to the early 80s and seeing them before Joshua tree. If only time travel was real.
6. Potato Girl by Our Lady Peace - In high school OLP was my favorite band. Their first 4 records are 90s alt rock gold and this song in particular is magic.
7. Bernadette by Four Tops - This will forever remind me of my dad, dancing with him, and jamming out to the bassline. For a long time I didn't even know the words to this song (which is really rare for me. I know the words to soooo many things) because it was too good.
8. In My Bed by Amy Winehouse - I am a huge Amy Winehouse fan, and I may be one of the only people in the entire world to consistently focus on her music rather than drug use. I love her retro sound mixed with modern day R&B. This is the perfect example of that.
9. Sea and Sand by The Who - "Come sleep on the beach. Keep within my reach. I just want to die with you near. I'm feeling so high with you here. I'm wet and I'm cold, But thank God I ain't old." Enough said.
10. Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys - The quintessential NYer song. Did I mention I'm from New York?
11. Man Ray by Futureheads - Another really tough choice, but I'll go for one of their harder songs because I love the immense sound they create.
12. Time to Pretend by MGMT - Back when I went to school and then worked in NYC it was Spring time and this was a staple on every mix I ever made. Walking through the streets of NY, this is my theme song.
13. I Just Wasn't Made for These Times by The Beach Boys - Maybe, though, this is really my theme song since I know I was born in the wrong decade.
14. 2+2=5 (The Lukewarm.) by Radiohead - One of my favorite bands ever, this song probably sums up all the reasons why I love them.
15. Tom Cat Goodbye by Laura Nyro - THE singer/song writer as far as I'm concerned, and her talents are best on display here.
16. Skating by Vince Guaraldi - I know this is technically a "Christmas song," but it may be my favorite jazz song of all time.
17. America by Simon and Garfunkel - Did I mention I was born in the wrong decade?
18.That's What You Get by Paramore - Secretly, deep down, I'm still an emo kid at heart.
19. Push It by Garbage - Another one of my favorite bands of all time. This song and the album it is from solidified their place in my heart forever.
20. Rolling in the Deep by Adele - I know this is way overplayed, but before then (and after I get over hearing this every hour on the hour), this will still be an amazing song.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Movie Review: Never Let Me Go

When I first saw the trailer for this movie something inside of me ached. I think I was warning myself, "be prepared, you will cry," but visually, the cinematography already reeled me in. Soft, dark, the English countryside. The trailer taunted me, "yeah, you're gonna cry, but it'll be worth it." Then a friend reviewed the movie on his blog and said it was one of the best films he'd ever seen, one that stayed with him long after the credits were through. And yes, even he cried. It sealed the deal, on to the Netflix cue it went, and when I finally had a chance to watch it a few weeks ago it did not disappoint.

Never Let Me Go stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield as three childhood friends who grow up in a boarding school in the 70s and 80s. They don't know their parents, they don't know what their future holds, and in reality having spent the majority of their lives behind the fences of their school, they don't know much about life other than what they are told about it. Mulligan and Knightly's characters are best friends despite being polar opposites. Knightly is superficial, loves to gossip, and can be quite cruel while Mulligan is sweet, quiet, and caring. Because of these traits, her character often takes pity on Garfield's younger self when all the children are mean to him. The pair strike up a friendship which quickly turns into childhood puppy love. In steps Knightly, who is clearly jealous over the fact that Mulligan has been able to find love from someone (something that has alluded these parentless children), and a love triangle is born.

However, it's not long into the movie that a well meaning teacher spills the beans to the students, they are not "real" people. Well, they are real, but they were bred for the specific purpose of donating their organs and other body parts to people on the outside who are dying. Most of them will not live past 30. So it is here that things get truly complicated as the trio grow up, fall in and out of love with each other, and try to make the most of their lives. When we are young, everything seems like the biggest deal. The drama of the moment really will ruin our lives if we let it, and it is not until we are older that we realize, "why did I care so much, that thing means nothing to me in the long run." Unfortunately for these three, this is all their life is and they don't have time to realize any of that. It is not until the very end and faced with death that anyone grows up. A delayed adult, and then a very rushed one at that.

Yes I did cry at the end, and it was for all the same reasons that anyone cries. But as I thought about the film in the following days I couldn't help but get stuck on the futility of their growing up process. What did their lives mean? They were born for a specific function. Yes they saved several people's lives. Their lives did have purpose, and not everyone can claim that, even in our society. But I was stuck on the coming of age aspect. Recently I read An Unchanged Mind by John McKinnon for a class which talked about delayed maturity and how this is what is at the root of "that one" in the family (you know, the black sheep, the wild teen, every family has one, etc. etc.). The three main characters in this movie are both simultaneously stuck in childhood and then rushed through adulthood. In their late teens and early 20s they are still struggling with basic concepts that Erik Erikson theorized we would learn in childhood (feeling control over one's environment, having a sense of identity, feeling loved), but once they start to donate and are forced to watch others near by pass away and they are faced with their own mortality that the characters grow up. From adolescence to old age in a couple of years. But if they skip stages are they truly grown up? According to McKinnon, no. And considering the profound grief and obvious frustration Mulligan's character feels at the end, her desire to go back to childhood and the innocence it held, it may be clear that this is the case.

When I was 9 my parents sold their apartment and bought a house about 10 miles away. Separated by a river and the inability to drive I lost touch with my friends. On the cusp of adolescence that was pretty devastating and I started to think about how I cared so much about whether or not the boy I liked would find out (if he did my life would surely end), whether I was ever caught with the girl who had cooties (if I was, I would catch them and no one would ever want to be my friend EVER), and so many other trivial things we care about in childhood. And then I realized none of it mattered. I didn't know those people anymore, it was a totally different life, none of the new kids in my life cared. Something most people don't realize until post-high school or post-college I realized at 9. Yet, I was a human being and I got caught up in life's dramas and began to care about new trivial things. Once in awhile I would remind myself of this earlier lesson, but it's hard when your hormones are rushing around to keep clear on things.

Now my life is not without drama, and even recently I had a conversation with my friend Sam and said to her, "in the grand scheme of life, we will look back at this and laugh and wonder why we cared so much. I think we should just drop it now rather than let it consume the next several months of our lives." Perhaps still a little bit ahead of Erikson's curve, but Never Let Me Go, reminded me that there's a lot more important things to care about. Life is short for all of us and we often waste so much time on stupid things that we forget to focus on what's really important. What in our lives will stand the test of time? Family, the careers we build for ourselves, true friendships, true mature love, and anything else in life that is worth nurturing. Trivial dramas are clearly no where near that list. So why wait until we are near death to realize it?

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Album Review: The Chaos by Futureheads

I don't know if only music nerds have this moment, but have you ever heard a band for the first time and been totally blown away? So blown away that years later, when you continue to be obsessed with the band you still remember that moment. A friend of mine from home LOVED the band Soul Coughing and I remember him saying to me when he introduced me to them, "I am so jealous of you right now. You get to have the experience of listening to this band brand new." The first time I heard The Futureheads was like that for me. I was in my sophomore year of college, fresh off of a summer of an obsession with Franz Ferdinand ("Take me Out" has just come out) and other jingly jangly Brit pop, and I walked into the office of Binghamton University's radio station, WHRW, to hear this song about robots. I remember thinking: "what the hell is this?! It's fucking fantastic!!" I immediately uploaded the record to my computer, grabbed a few pins for my bag, and started a love affair that continues to this day. (As a side note, I really miss being a DJ at WHRW. It was so easy to be introduced to great new music and I got tons of free swag to boot.)

Four full length albums in (with a 5th acapella record that will be released in a few weeks), The Futureheads have never disappointed me. It's pretty rare for me to be able to say "I love everything this band has ever put out" (give or take a few songs. I think the only other artists I can say that about are The Beatles, Arcade Fire, Doves, and Garbage. Maybe The Like too (who funny enough toured with The Futureheads on their last US tour), but they have 2 records so that doesn't really count in my book. At any rate, The Futureheads have consistently released great music and are a fantastic band to boot. All four members sing, so their harmonies are spectacular, and are talented musicians. For fast driving, peppy, rock music that sounds a little bit like The Clash meets The Beach Boys with some post-punk influences, this is your band.

All of that being said, I have to admit that it took me awhile to get into The Chaos. At the time I purchases several other albums that ended up taking higher priority on my listening list. I think this combined with the fact that several of the early tracks are very strong while some of the later songs didn't catch my interest right away, led me to shelve the record for awhile. Then a few weeks ago I got a really strong hankering to listen to something upbeat and new. I pulled this out of my music cabinet and immediately thought, "why did I not get into this earlier?" I think sometimes you need to be in the right frame of mine to accept new music and I was in more of an etherial music mood when I tried to listen to this the first time around so I didn't give it a fair chance. Right now I'm back into my happy rock phase, so I've listened to The Chaos at least once a day, every day, for the last two weeks. My roommate must love me.

The Chaos is everything that I've come to expect from The Futureheads. Poppy post-punk with great harmonies, clever lyrics, and moments of serious social commentary when appropriate. I remember reading an interview Alex Kapranos of Frank Ferdinand gave years ago where he said that he really admired how The Beatles, and John Lennon in particular, wrote really sad songs that sounded very happy. "Take Me Out" was written in that vein, and I think The Futureheads do that a lot as well. The single has a bit of that going on, as do other songs throughout their catalog as well. Maybe that's another reason why I like this band so much? I like to be fooled. Haha. At any rate, I've talked enough about how awesome this band is as a whole, so I hope that speaks for itself and you check them out. I'll let the music speak for itself.

Standout Tracks: Struck Dumb, Dart at the Map

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What Did I wear today? Spring Edition

Sometimes Charlie really makes my life difficult, as he did in this picture. After about 10 attempts this was the best I could do because he wouldn't get out of the mirror's view. I shouldn't complain though, it just means he loves me (or maybe he just wanted to be fed). Sorry for the blurry picture, but you try standing on one leg and taking one.

Jeans: Anthropologie
Tank: H&M
Blouse: Forever 21
Shoes: Modcloth

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Break Woo!

As of yesterday I am done with classes for two weeks. Our Spring break is actually not that long, but I'm lucky/productive so for the two classes that I did have finals in, I'm done done done. Just a few more days at the clinic, which I don't really count because there's no homework. As of right now I'm free. Yesterday I completely vegetated and watched 3 1/2 movies (Sleeping Beauty, Kiki's Delivery Service, A Little Help, and started Enchanted April), caught up on two of my TV shows (New Girl and Awake), took a nap, and ate a ton of starch. I think I was burnt out, and in all honesty I don't have much to be burnt out about. But it's sunny outside after four straight days of rain, so I'm feeling pretty good at the moment. Time to get productive!

I have a huge to-do list and my goal is to get through everything. I think considering how crappy our internet has been mixed with two full weeks of spare time, I think it should not be a problem.

1. Plant veggies for the porch garden
2. Clean Bathroom sink
3. Organize the last two quarters of school papers
4. Unpack the last box in my room
5. Organize the stack of papers on my chair
6. Give Charlie a haircut
7. Balance checkbook
8. Return Anthro shirt
9. Organize the linen closet
10. Finish setting up the porch and living room.

Lots of things I hate to do and have put off, but give me lots of Futureheads (see video below) and 2 days and it'll get done.

As for fun stuff I do have a few of those things on my to-do list

11. Go to at least one movie by myself.
12. Make more coffee cake.
13. Use up Groupons (I have one for a massage and one for a tea place)
14. Visit SF with Charlie
15. Have Sam & Sophia over for grilled cheese
16. Do something fun with Megan
17. Write at least 5 blog entries

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Is this a sign I am getting old?

Maybe it is, but I went to a barbeque on Saturday afternoon and came back exhausted. Maybe this is also because I ate a TON of food and have had naps every day for the last two weeks besides Saturday, but when I got home I just wanted to chill out on my bed with the animals. Snuggle parties such as this one are pretty common these days. As a side note I am so thrilled that Batman has finally wised up and joined the "we love Charlie" club. Since moving he has been extra snuggly, sleeps with us every night, and I've even caught him rubbing up against Charlie every once in awhile. It only took 11 months!

So getting back to the point, after coming home I wanted nothing more than to sit in my room with the animals and just screw around on Facebook and the internet in general. Sometimes it's nice to be calm. My evening consisted of Mahjong and coffee cake, and this mix that I'm about to share with you. I'll be honest, I didn't really make it. I have pre-made mixes of "happy" music. Or calm, or angry. Stuff that's good for cleaning, working out, cooking, etc. They generally have 100 songs on them and get shuffled. Usually the calm one gets played on planes, or on a Saturday night when I want to vegetate and act like a hermit. And if I must say, the first 15 songs on this shuffle were golden.

Classical Gas - Eric Clapton
Fairy Tale Song (Cade) - Milton Nascimento
Popstars - Rooney
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight - The Postal Service
Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want - She & Him
I'll Follow the Sun - The Beatles
Coney Island - Death Cab For Cutie
She's A Rainbow - The Rolling Stones
Modern Girls and Old Fashioned Men - The Strokes
Black Mirror - Arcade Fire
Sky Stars Falling - Doves
Party Girl - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
the Wonderful Future - Our Lady Peace
He Doesnt Know Why - Fleet Foxes
Sense - Pete Yorn

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Favorite Coffee Cake Recipe

I think that there are a million and one different ways to make coffee/crumb cake out there. Growing up making coffee cake was a really big treat only reserved for mornings where we had no where to rush off to. It meant putting on my child-sized Little Mermaid apron on and getting up on a stool to help my mom with stirring, cracking open eggs, and whatever other good little sous chefs do. Then waiting a painstaking 45 minutes for the cake to bake and cool off enough to be eaten. I remember watching it on the counter and taking off pieces of the crumb topping because I'd be so hungry I just wanted something!

Now I can obviously make coffee cake whenever I want to, but I still tend to save it for those days when I've got time to be lazy. I throw on a classical CD or three, make a cup of tea, and sit on the couch and relax while my apartment fills with the smell of cake and brown sugar. So if that wasn't tempting enough, here's the recipe I use these days. Different from my mom's, but just as good (if not better).

For the cake:
- 1 1/3 cup Bisquick (I like using this instead of flour, which requires a different recipe, because I like the taste of the cake better)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp room temperature/softened butter (don't melt it, adding the cold milk will harden it up and it won't displace properly)
- 1 egg (also, if you melt the butter it might cook parts of the egg)
- 3/4 cup of milk
- tsp vanilla

For the crumb topping:
- 1 stick (8 tbsp) of butter
- 8 tbsp of room temperature/softened flour
- 4 tbsp of sugar
- 4 tbsp of brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your 8x8 square pan.
2. Mix cake ingredients together and poor in the pan.
3. Mix together crumb topping with a fork. Make sure the butter is not too melted otherwise you will have a really hard time spreading it around. (I admit to doing this a lot because I always decide last minute to make this and have to defrost the butter in the microwave. But using your hands is a mess...although delicious!)
4. Top the cake with your crumbs and bake for about 30 minutes. In a 9x9 pan it may take only 20-25.
5. Let cool a little bit and serve!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What Did I wear today?

We're having weird weather in California as of late. You know that in between stage when it's just about Spring, but not quite? It makes it hard to dress sometimes. The mornings can be bitterly cold (40s) and by the time midday rolls around it's in the 70s. And even when the weather says it's going to be 60, it may still be close to 70. Or it could be deceptively sunny and you step outside and it's in the 50s and feels like Fall. California, you are like a bi-polar patient. Make up your mind and stick to it. Wearing many layers is only fun for so long!

Dress: Modcloth
Cardigan: Express
Boots: Michael Khors
Bracelet: Vintage (was my Mom's)
Ring: Forever 21

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I think many people have this feeling about me...

My roommate just shared this blog entry with me on Facebook and except entitled it "when my roommate is cooking."


When my mom is cooking

I don’t help. I just sit at the table like:


I told her, she knows if she waits around long enough I'll throw scraps at her. Or a cheeseburger, or cookies, or mac and get the point.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I've realized...

- Things I must own to be able to survive in a less stressed world: straightening iron, hair dryer, an animal, a laptop, a nice pan, butter.
- I want Meryl Streep's house in It's Complicated.
- I really want to live without the internet or my cell phone for a week, but every time I pick a week there's something I need it for (professionally/school speaking).
- Fashion is my hobby.
- Every time I pay off my credit card Christmas happens.
- I'd like to live one more place before going back home.
- I get way too antsy if I stay in the same place for too long.
- I don't get too antsy if that place is NYC.
- Sometimes I feel like my belongings, including the pets, prevents me from doing things I want to do. Mainly picking up and moving anywhere in the world. But who wants to spend money on anything twice and my pets are my fur babies. So we're all in it for the long haul together.
- I am wildly nostalgic about small beautiful moments in life.
- All of the actors I have ever had intense crushes on are British. Maybe I should move to England.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What Did I Wear Today?

You can tell I'm in desperate need of a haircut here. Look at how long my bangs are!

Skirt: Eva Franco @ Anthropologie
Tank: The Gap Body
Cardigan: The limited
Necklace: Anthropologie
Shoes: Steve Madden
Ring: Forever 21

Sometimes you just gotta let the statement piece speak for itself.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Restaurant Review: Mayfield Bakery

Of my top five favorite things in the world, I think food has to be really high on the list. Maybe even before naps. Brunch may be one of my favorite meals as it combines breakfast foods with other dishes from the rest of the day and sometimes I just can't make up my mind what I want. Even better is when the restaurant has a breakfast dish and lunch-i-fies it. Recently I had brunch with my friend Kevin at Mayfield Bakery & Cafe and ordered a dish just like this (their beef hash made with poached eggs and barley). Soooo goooood. I loved the mix of salty, savory, and tangy flavors my meal had. The only complaint was that there wasn't enough!

We also split an order of Apple Fritters (what's a brunch without some kind of sweet treat) and Kevin got the more traditional El Camino breakfast). Needless to say by the time we were done we were stuffed and Charlie was grateful as he got a piece of the amazing bacon to munch on too. I'd love to go back and visit the bakery as the breads always look amazing or splurge on a dinner some day. The rustic atmosphere of the restaurant has a great feel to it. Bring the parents, a group of friends, or a date, either way the mood is a good one.

And now for some food pictures from the website!

I don't know why I always write these restaurant reviews right before meal time...

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

I think Emily Blunt is one of my favorite actresses. I don't know if it's because she's brilliant or has a British accent, or maybe a bit of both? But whether it's comedy or drama she is fantastic. So when I saw the preview for this movie, besides being instantly intrigued at the concept of little men in suits running around controlling what we do (you know me, I love a good movie that I can turn into an existential look at life), I knew I wanted to see it because Emily Blunt was in it.

As I already said, the premise of this movie is that there are a group of men who control the outcomes of our lives. What I did not say is that Matt Damon plays a budding and honest politician who "the creator" seems to think has a good shot at changing the world for the better. So these little men help him reach his potential. Somewhere a long the way he meets Blunt's character, falls in love with her, and no matter how hard the men in suits try to keep them apart, something keeps happening to pull them together. Then one day, by accident, Damon comes into contact face to face with the men (generally you're not supposed to be aware that they exist) and all hell breaks loose.


The men in suits explain to Damon that he's not supposed to be with Blunt and that his path has to be adjusted to ensure his destiny is fulfilled. Notable "adjusters" include Terrance Stamp and John Slattery, and they do their best to scare the crap out of Damon in hopes he'll stick to the plan. But the main character agreeing and going along with this plan wouldn't make a good movie plot. The rest of the movie centers around Damon's attempts to be with Blunt and what happens when the adjusters find out.

He can adjust me any that weird considering he's twice my age? Whatever. Roger Sterling=the man.

The movie attempts to play with the concepts of true love and destiny. One wonders are we all pawns in the creator's game? What kind of free will do we actually have? Are the things we feel real or just part of some master plan? It's an interesting idea wrapped up in a neat little thriller, but the main point of this story is the love between the two main characters so the movie really doesn't get that deep into the existential topics its concept is built on and when it attempts to do so, it almost seems forced or out of place. As a whole, though, I thought the movie was still good (it'd get 3 out of 4 stars from me if I used that kind of rating).

So the only question at this point is will true love win out? Well, it is Hollywood...

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