Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Blog!

Hola amigas and amigos.  I really don't know why I keep using Spanish phrases, I am most certainly a Francophile.

So, I've found some direction for a new blog.  It's called The Indie Domestic, and it's all about home living for the free-spirited indie girl.  Or boy.  Either way.  The thing is, it's on Wordpress...I know, I know, traitor to Blogspot.  I don't even actually know if I like Wordpress more, but I figured I'd give it a try.  I may come back here.  Who knows.

For now, though, you can find me at indiedomestic.wordpress.com.  Come check it out.  Do it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Direction

Oy vey.  I haven't written anything in a long time, I know.  Partly because I've been hiking like crazy,but mostly because...I don't know what to write.  I feel like this blog has no focus, no purpose.  What to do?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Birthday Wishlist


I'm not usually a huge fan of beaded jewelry, but I am so digging the amazing beadwork of Balanced on Etsy. It's tasteful and painstakingly intricate. My birthday's coming up, anyone care to get this necklace for me?

And, you know, just on the offchance you want to send me something, I would also love a dSLR camera, a new bike and a hiking backpack...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Booze and Baked Goods

Father's Day is coming up.  You know this already.  I know you've got your card and your fancy tie/fishing lures/season tickets wrapped and ready to give to your daddo on Sunday.  Good for you for being so prepared.

I love my dad dearly.  I think I'm probably more like my dad than my mom - I love art, I'm usually willing to try something new, I procrastinate like nobody's business.  Just like my dad.  Of course I'm also neurotic like my mother...anyway.  For Mother's and Father's Days I typically pay for dinner and an activity, and I give gifts on birthdays.  This year my dad and I are going out for Indian food and then watching a film at the Tivoli (an indie theater, for those non-Denverites).  I also baked him the Beer and Honey Spice Cake from Joy the Baker's blog, because we both love beer and spice cake and I REALLY love Joy the Baker.  Once again, for better or worse, I tinkered with the recipe.  Here's Joy's original:


3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all-spice
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup honey
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) pale ale beer or honey beer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9x13-inch (don't use anything smaller, seriously) pan and set aside.
I a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugars, spices and lemon zest. Mixture may look crumbly, but mix for about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
Beat in the lemon juice and honey.
Add the flour mixture and beer. Alternating. First add a third of the flour mixture, mix. Add half of the beer, mix. Add the second third of flour, the rest of the beer. Mix. Then finally add the last third of the flour. Beat the batter on high speed for 30 seconds. The batter will be loose and smooth.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the upper third of the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

I basically followed the recipe, but I used about a cup and a half of whole wheat flour (I love the texture but some people might prefer white whole wheat) and reduced the sugar a bit: only a quarter cup white sugar, about two tablespoons less brown sugar, and maybe two to three tablespoons less honey (this last one was an accident though - I ran out).  


Oh, and I used a Double-Wide IPA from Boulevard Brewing, which is a really hoppy beer.  That's important to me.  The beer, I mean.


I think it turned out pretty good, sweetness-wise, but I might keep all the honey if possible next time. Oops.  It's a teensy bit dry, too, probably because of the honey and also probably because I don't have a 9x13 inch cake pan so I used a 9x9 and a loaf pan.  Also oops.  You can't really taste the beer, but Joy's right - it rounds out the flavor and you get that hoppiness in the finish.  I love hops.  Just saying.

Still debating whether to frost this thing, and still debating whether or not I should make my dear old dad a card.  Or buy him a tiny gift (his birthday's in August).  I am LOVING my basil plant, so maybe that?  After all, who doesn't love basil?  Communists, that's who.  Mine is coming along nicely and smells soooo good.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Inspiration and Cliches

I'm watching Eat Pray Love on (stolen) Netflix Instant right now.  I don't care for the movie so much, but I do love the book...or I did, before I lent my copy to a friend and never saw it again.  But before the book went MIA I read it several times.  It inspired me.  And right now, even though it doesn't really compare, the movie is inspiring me.

Sadly, this almost makes me feel bad.  Being inspired by the movie where Julia Roberts travels like a free spirit and eats plates upon plates of pasta seems so cliched.  And I hate feeling like a cliche.  Writing a blog makes me feel like a cliche.  The fact that I bought a straw fedora from Urban Outfitters makes me feel like a cliche.  Sometimes even my love of art makes me feel like a cliche.

I guess the two important questions here are: 1. WHAT, exactly, is so cliched about these things?  And 2. Why do I care?  Aren't I supposed to be taking the "f*ck it!" mentality that I wrote about earlier?  If something inspires you to be the person you want to be, does it matter where that inspiration came from?  And even if you aspire to be one big cliche and that's what makes you happy, that should be okay, right?

The thing is, I really did love that book.  It didn't make me want to run away and get my fortune told by a medicine man and find love in a play-by-play recreation of Elizabeth Gilbert's life (although it did for a lot of women) - but it did make me want to get out of my dead-end job and do something great for myself.  And you know what?  I DID it.  After reading that book at a low point in my life, I bought a ticket and went to France and Nepal and, yes, Bali.  And it was amazing.  So who cares if that impetus came from a bestselling icon for middle-aged American women?  It inspired me to live a dream of my own creation...

Ulu Watu, Bali

Me, in one of the ancient meditation caves at the Holy Water Temple.

Inland Bali.

Buddhist stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Prayer wheels at Sawayambunth, Nepal.

View of the Himalayas from Nagarkot.

Friends from all over the world I met in Kathmandu!

La Tour Eiffel, old friend.

And right now, cliches be damned, the movie is inspiring me to break free and not fall victim to the mundanity of everyday living.  Not that I really consider that a problem now, but, you know...I have been wanting to visit Turkey.

And you know what?  I LIKE that straw fedora.  F*ck it!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Adventures in Baking

Hola muchachas. I hope that was appropriate.  I don't speak Spanish.

I baked you some bread yesterday, but I'm kind of afraid to share it because...well it's not that good.  I mean it's not bad.  I like it.  I just think you might be a little disappointed.  Give it a try though.

Basically I tried to healthify a recipe from Joy the Baker for zucchini-sweet potato bread.  If you have no visited Joy the Baker's blog, I HIGHLY recommend it.  That girl is hilarious, and the recipes look all types of delicious.  Next on my personal docket of things to try is the cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread and the honey beer spice cake.

My kitchen.  With that awesome Anthro towel.


But this time I made zucchini-sweet potato bread.  Here is the original recipe from Joy's blog:

2 cups all-purpose flour (she used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves (the nutmeg and the cloves are optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar (she used 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup brown sugar)
3/4 cup vegetable oil (she used 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup apple sauce.  Less fat.)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 1/2 cup peeled and grated sweet potato
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
And this is how I changed it:
2 c flour (1 c all-purpose and 1 c whole wheat)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
about 1/2 c - 1 T flax meal
3 eggs
1/2 c applesauce
1/4 c honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping c grated zucchini
1 c grated sweet potato
about 1/3 c grated carrots
about 1/3 c finely chiffonaded (sliced in ribbons) baby spinach (seriously)
1/2 c dried cranberries
Same baking instructions applied:  mix dry ingredients; beat wet ingredients, then add veggies; combine the two and fold in cranberries.  Then bake in a buttered, floured bread pan at 350 for about and hour or until toothpick comes out clean (Joy said an hour and 20 minutes).
Looks good, right?

My bread isn't actually bad.  It's a little nutty and dense, which I like, but not a whole lot of distinctive flavor, I think because I cut back so drastically on the sugar.  All in all not a bad breakfast bread, and it clocks in at about 150-170 calories per slice if you get 12 slices out of the loaf.  Here's a summary of the changes I made, and what worked and what didn't:
  1. Swapping the oil for flax meal (more protein, less calories) and applesauce (less fat).  I would do this again.  As a vegetarian (did I mention I'm a vegetarian?) I need all the protein I can get, and flax meal is full of really healthy omega-3's.  Applesauce adds more fruit to the bread, and I am constantly trying to cram fruits and veggies into my diet.  The flax also contributes to that denseness I like while still keeping the bread moist.  I read the rule is a 3:1 ratio when swapping flax meal for oil, but I did a little less because I was also subbing some applesauce.
  2. Cutting waaayyy back on sugar and using some honey.  I think I would up my sugar next time I make this bread; I reduced it my more than half.  Maybe just another 1/4 cup of sugar.  I'd keep the honey though, I love honey and I'm sure it helped keep the bread moist.
  3. Changing the veggie amounts and adding spinach.  I guess I went into this wanting to shove more vegetables in the bread, but I don't think I actually added much more than the original 3 cups in Joy's recipe.  In the future I would keep the zucchini and 1 1/2 cups and maintain at least 1 1/2 cups of a sweet potato/carrot combo.  I'd keep a little bit of spinach - you can't even taste it and it's healthy...ish.  It might be a negligible amount for nutrition, but I feel better eating the bread.  Bottom line: still lots and lots 'o veggies.  
  4. Subbing allspice for cloves.  This was done out of convenience because I don't have cloves.  No matter.
  5. Not including walnuts.  This was optional anyway and I didn't have walnuts on hand, plus I figured I already had some nutty flavor and healthy fats with the flax.
Yeah that green thing is spinach.  I went there.

Soooo.  That's what's up.  I still don't know why I messed with the veggie measurements so much when I should have just added stuff on top of the original recipe.  Oh well.  That's why it's called an experiment (or rather, I am now calling this an experiment).  Next up I'll try some baller cinnamon bread!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

These Are My Confessions

I don't have an illegitimate child.  I'm not Usher.  But can I confess something completely random?  I sort of love Americana in the summer.  A lot like how I love going to the mall and the blatant consumerism of the holidays. I know, I know, so not like me at all, but there's something so deeply nostalgic about these things that I can't help but immerse myself in the pageantry of the seasons.  I like to think about how the Fourth of July and Christmas must have been in the fifties, when people loved them in an honest red-blooded way before we all became so jaded.  I know I'm totally romanticizing the past, but isn't that what we all do?

Anyway.  I don't know why I was thinking about that, or why I felt the need to bring it up.  Maybe because the Fourth is just around the corner (as is my birthday - send presents!  I'll gladly accept diamonds.).

In other news, I went thrifting on Broadway yesterday and spent a lot of money.  Well I spent like $35, including the bomb-diggity salted butterscotch pretzel ice cream cone from Sweet Action.  Ah. Maze. Ing.  Maybe the best ice cream parlor (parlour, if you're fancy) in Denver...except maybe Liks?  Liks has better ambiance with all the trees and outdoor benches in Cap Hill, but Sweet Action has some crazy flavors (brown butter sage, honey corn bread, whiskey brickle: all amazing.  Avocado, not so much.).  In defense of my spending, I returned a $40 scarf to Anthropologie and I just decided to call it a draw.  Maybe I'm breaking some rules.  So what.  All in all I got three tops, a new (better?) scarf and this rad vase.  Win:


Oh!  And I almost forgot I actually DID go to the Denver Chalk Art Festival last weekend.  All types of awesome going on there.  Don't miss the Cherry Creek Arts Festival or First Friday in July, people!







Oh geez.  I really REALLY need to learn how to format photos on here better.  Bear with me, I'll work on it...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Measuring Up

I have a confession to make.  I was just looking at photos of my boyfriend's ex on Facebook.  And she's really really pretty.  Eek.

I don't know why I would torture myself like that.  Of course all I can think about now is how she's thinner than me, how her eyes are cuter, her smile is whiter, her cheeks don't pudge out like a four-year-old's.  Mine do.  I have chubby cheeks and a small chin.  I have bags under my eyes a lot of the time and my hair is usually not shiny.

Photo taken by my friend Christine.

Sometimes I take good photos, but it's rare.  Usually it's when there's odd lighting, or I'm really dressed up for a holiday.

My eyes look big here, right?  I'm eating a kiwano melon.

So of course I'm comparing myself to this mystery girl.  She seems nice...even if she can't spell.  But why?  What am I so afraid of?  I already know I'm not the very most gorgeous girl in the world.

Not me.

My boyfriend loves me, and I have lots of friends, and people still tell me I'm pretty on occasion.  Creepy guys even hit on me at bars.  Why am I so worried now?

I'll venture to say a large part of it is momentary panic over eating like an entire box of cookies tonight.  Tomorrow I might not feel so bad.  But I should never feel bad about how I look or who I am.  Neither should you.  I guess I started this post with the intention of saying something inspirational about how we should all love our bodies and go after our dreams and not worry about what other people think, but the truth is I'm still working really hard on that myself.  It's not easy, ladies.  I guess all I can ask is we support one another...

Oh!  I do have something semi-inspirational to write after all.  When I was in Paris a few years ago my roommate at the hostel one night was this fantastic Brazilian architect named Carolina.  We went out to a wine bar and talked shit about the Bush administration.

Also an okay photo with the awkward light.

Sometimes Carolina would bump the table or slosh her drink, but instead of apologizing she'd say "F*ck it!"  She did not care what other people thought.  She didn't mind that people were looking.  It was awesome.  So, dear readers, it sounds crass but: next time you feel like apologizing for something you shouldn't - your weight or your clothes or the time you dropped something - give the naysayers a F*ck It instead (or a Screw It if you're a lady.  I clearly am not).  Deal?


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spread the Word

Sooo...I am sick.  I am currently missing the Denver Chalk Art Festival and I am MAD AS HELL about it.  On the plus side, I had a fantastic hike yesterday (five miles around Three Sisters in Evergreen) and I now get to eat all the gingersnaps I want for my upset little tummy.  Courtesy of my mother (who did not bake them but was kind enough to buy them for me, along with some crackers and applesauce.  Love you, Mom!).

Anyway.  So I was thinking about my quasi-creative rut yesterday, and how much I've been wanting things lately.  Things things, like a flask for boozin' and a stand mixer for my kitchen, but also not-things things, like more free time and less self-consciousness.  I feel like some people in my life have some of these things, and I WANT them, dammit!

Then I came to my senses.  If I can be honest without sounding conceited, I happen to be very good at recognizing my own flaws and taking responsibility for my own happiness.  I was being silly.  Instead of envying my friends I should be thanking them, rejoicing in them and finding inspiration from them.  Like Christine.  I admire her honesty and artistry and I love how relatable she is on her own blog.

Or Rachel, who is a pistol of a girl and seemingly comfortable in her own skin.  She is a free spirit, in my eyes.  I know she has her insecurities just like the rest of us, but I admire her ability to plunge ahead and be herself regardless.

And there's Ashley, who I always regarded as one of my most sincere friends.  Ashley will always listen to you and will, without pause, let you know when she herself feels inspired by you.  It's very kind.

And my boyfriend, Brent.  He is infinitely patient with me and I have no freaking idea why sometimes.  He is open to any criticism and takes what I say as a means of bettering himself instead of becoming defensive.  Even if sometimes he shouldn't.

Then there's this guy I used to hang out with back in the day, before he moved to South Dakota (weird). He was always trying something new or pursuing whatever he fancied at the moment, be it hockey or cello or playing on a kickball team while drinking beer.  I admire his spontaneity and his genuine appreciation for what life has to offer, even when life is sometimes just a day at a blue-collar job.

I could really go on and on.  None of these people are perfect.  Not a one.  But each of them as something wondrous about them that I can look up to and draw inspiration from.  They should know these great things about themselves, but at the moment I feel too shy to tell them.  Is that cheesy?  Would it be weird?  "Hey, friend, you inspire me oodles."  Awkward?  Maybe I should just go ahead and do it...and if I have to do it then you should too.  Tell someone the next time they're awesome.  Spread the love, right?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Food Porn

So I guess I technically started a food diet a week or so ago.  Remember that?  Yeah me neither.

I have been failing horribly at eating well.  It's all necessary though: kettle corn and beer at the Rockies game, fries at trivia, dinner out with friends, cookies and scones at graduation, margaritas to celebrate said graduation...oh my.  It's a lot.  I am fat (I'm not really fat).

Anyway, I've also been looking at a lot of food porn - you know, delicious pictures of baked goodies and artful meals.  I mean it doesn't turn me on.  That'd be weird.  It does make me hungry though.  Like reading through the new summer menu at Happy Cakes Bakeshop in Highlands Square.  Or poring over Joy the Baker's blog (how does she do it??).  I can't decide if indulging in my baking desires will make me feel better or worse.  I do know I am SUPER DUPER excited for summer farmer's markets.  Like whoa.

If you're wondering about all this food stuff in relation to the budget, it was mostly pre-budget indulgence, and my food and drinks at trivia last night were financed by the team's gift certificate from last week's win.  So there's that.  I only spent a dollar yesterday on a copy of the Denver Voice (totally a worthy cause), and then gas (a necessity).  AND I even returned a dress I bought a few weeks ago...does that mean I get to add the money I got back to my monthly allowance?


(No.  It does not.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pre-Budget Jitters

Aight.  It's the night before my super-extreme budget kicks in and...I already have a week/weekend chock full 'o things to do.   Things that cost money.  In fact I just spent money on dinner at a really good thai place in a really ugly strip mall.  Oh, and I spent two hundred (!!) dollars yesterday on such necessities as a straw fedora and new kitchen towels (THESE kitchen towels, as it were) and a really expensive bra.  But all that will change tomorrow...

Can I do it?  Can I go to these awesome festivals and not buy beer?  Can I do trivia without french fries?  Can I socialize without...well I guess everything that comes to mind sort of revolves around beer.

Anyway.  I'm just musing.  Does anyone care?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Denver on the Cheap

As promised, I am going to talk about some awesome things to do in Denver this summer for...drumroll please...FREE.

First of all, our lovely city has some amazing museums, and most of them have free days every month or two.  Yes, it's kind of a madhouse and yes, you don't get into the featured exhibit (which costs extra even with regular admission), but come on: FREE.  For the next couple months these are the museum and other attraction free days:
Denver Art Museum - June 4, July 2, Aug. 6 (first Saturdays)
Denver Botanic Gardens - July 19
Museum of Nature and Science - Aug. 22 and 28

Also remember places like the Denver Mint and the Denver Capitol offer free tours on a weekly basis, which is a fun, nerdy and completely offbeat way to spend a few hours.  In addition to historical landmarks, Colorado is home to a ton of breweries that offer free tours as well - think Coors, Golden City Brewery (both in Golden), New Belgium, Odell (both in Fort Collins) and on and on.  And of course my personal love, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, gives free tours of their distillery in Denver.

In addition to tours, a lot of organizations host free performances and events, like City Park Jazz on Sundays starting in June.  Plus there's my personal favorite, First Friday Art Walks, where galleries and shops in Denver's art districts stay open late on the first friday of every month - basically a big block party in the summer, complete with random street performers and entertainment.  The major art districts are Santa Fe, RiNo, the Golden Triangle and Tennyson - you'll have to Google them though, I couldn't find one cohesive page for the event.

And don't forget the many farmer's markets all over the metro area, which can be a fun way to spend a lazy morning, sampling gourmet food and supporting local farmers.  Cherry Creek Farmer's Market is on Saturdays and Belmar's is on Sundays, but for a complete list of times and locations check out websites like Colorado Fresh Markets and Denver Farmer's Markets.

Of course, it being summertime, there are a myriad of outdoor festivals and street fairs going on throughout the season.  There's no way I can find or list them all, but the biggies (as far as I know) are:
Denver Chalk Art Festival (formerly La Piazza dell'Arte) - June 4-5
People's Fair - June 4-5 (hop over from Larimer to City Park for a REALLY full day!)
PrideFest - June 18-19
Cherry Blossom Festival - June 25-26
Cherry Creek Arts Festival - July 2-4
Irish Festival - July 8-11
Dragon Boat Festival - July 30-31
Plus there are several smaller, more local fairs throughout the season, like the Wheat Ridge Carnation Festival, the Boulder Creek Festival and the Highlands Street Fair.

Like I said, there is no way I can give you an exhaustive list of all the free events going on in Denver this summer, not to mention the cheaper paid events.  There are, however, some great resources you can use to look them up, my top two being the Westword events calendar and Denver 365, which I believe is hosted by the city itself.  Plus, this website Mile High on the Cheap is a cool resource for discounts and insider info if you have just a little money to spend.

So...that's what I got.  Comment or email me if you know of any other festivals or events that I missed.  Otherwise...see you there!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Heart Freebies. And Cookies.

I am now considering taking up Freeganism as a way of life.  For those of you who don't know, Freeganism is essentially dumpster-diving, or living a life that you don't have to pay for.  It's not mooching, though; Freegans only use things that would have gone to waste anyway.  If you want an interesting look at it go to Snagfilms.com and look up the movie I Love Trash.

Okay, so I'm not really going to become a Freegan.  I'll do a lot of things but I don't know if I have the time or fortitude to eat food out of the trash.  Anyway, my real point is we were cleaning some stuff out of the classroom yesterday at work and it turns out we had a massive tub of old craft supplies that the teacher didn't want, so I came home with this loot (and this isn't even a fraction of what was there):


So I'm pretty excited to craft (and maybe even sell!) some stuff with it.  Neato.

Also, I've been baking cookies for my coworkers to celebrate the graduation of one of our toughest students (I guess I should mention I work at a school for kids with behavioral and developmental issues - and by kids I mean my class is 17-21 year olds).  These were dinosaur cookies with rainbow sprinkles, by special request:


But I also do holiday cookies every year:




Although very time-consuming, sugar cookies are one of my specialties and I have a freakishly steady hand with a pastry bag.  However, I'm also currently obsessed with homemade breads and pies and cakes baked in jars, all of which are fantastic and (maybe?) cheap gift ideas.  People are going to be getting a lot of baked goods from me in the next twelve months...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Anybody? Bueller?

Is anybody reading this?  Good question.

Anyway, I just stumbled upon this cool site called Not Martha, which has some how-to craft and food tutorials but mostly cobbles together helpful, domestic-y stuff from the interwebs.  Lurvely.

Beyond that I've been spending money on glass and resin cabochons from Etsy suppliers and eating way too many meals out before my spending diet kicks in!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Savings Practice

Well, I went out today and bought a bunch of kitchen implements, including some baking pans, a grill pan and some big glass jars with screw tops to (eventually) hold flour and sugar and the like.  I'm such a little homemaker at heart...and yes I cook in an apron.  I also went thrifting and got a couple new shirts that I REALLY don't need, but it's better than hitting up Cherry Creek, right?

Anyway, even though my spending diet clearly hasn't started yet, I'm already brainstorming ways to save money.  Number one is stealing those little creamers from 7-11 (well, they're free, so...you know...I just grab a few more than I need).  This would be a great money-saving trick except I don't normally USE creamer, but hey, now they're here if I need or want them.  The best part is you can have lots of flavors at once without crowding your fridge.  Observe:


So beyond stocking up on things I don't really need, I'm still thinking of other ways to save and be creative.  The biggest part is just going to be resisting the urge to eat out whenever I want, since I'm pretty sure frivolous food is responsible for most of my spending.  Hence all the new cooking toys!

But the truth is I'm already a pretty thrifty person in a lot of ways.  I shop at thrift stores, hunt down free entertainment (more on this later) and make things like jewelry and cards and gifts for people.  Like these two cards, one for my mother on Mother's Day and one for my great-grandmother on her recent 95th birthday:

Still thinking of more good ideas though!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Monogram

I love this vintage typewriter key necklace from this Etsy seller (I know, I have an Etsy problem).  Even though I'm not on a budget yet, I'm going to be good and not buy it...sigh.

Spending Hangover

You know when you wake up after a night of boozing and, after a hazy moment of realization, you're hit with a wave of regret about what you did the night before?  That's how I feel the next morning, except what I regret is usually how much I spent on drinks, food and friends.  And that's how I feel this morning. Of course the night (out to dinner for a coworker's birthday, then drinks and a comedy show) was worth the expense - I think socializing usually is.  I just can't afford to do it as much anymore...nor do I really want to.  I can find ways to spend time with people without breaking the bank.

Okay, addendum time: I will have a one-drink MAXIMUM if I'm out at a bar.  Unless someone else is buying.  Wink wink.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zoo Trip

Yesterday we took our class to the zoo (yes, Denverites, in the rain...and I had to take the bus back too.  Saw a funnel cloud though!).  Here are a couple pictures I took that I really like:

The Binge

Okay, I admit I'm sort of "bingeing" before my two diets - I'm baking peanut butter cookies (this after having a lavender cupcake, too - but come on.  Lavender.  It was delicious. And cookies are needed because it's cold and rainy outside.) and trying to figure out what I should buy before my Spending Diet.  What I really want/need is some new kitchen implements. I'm assuming this should include this trivet and this cookie jar from Anthropologie, right?  But honestly, I'm super excited to start being the healthy, crafty, simple person I imagine, so I'm going to be cooking and baking a lot.  So far I need/want:

Cooling rack
Bread pan(s)
Roasting pan
Rolling pin
Rolling mat
Good measuring cups and spoons
Wooden mixing spoon
Grill pan
New cooking utensils??

And of course I'd like all sorts of other things.  I get kind of silly with kitchen items.  That and storage options.  I don't know why.  I'm secretly really domestic, that must have something to do with it.

Also, as a side note, I checked out a ton of books on starting a small business, creative exercises and writing business plans from the library.  Let the entrepreneurship commence!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I Really Want

Okay, so I must confess I haven't really sat down and made a well-thought out list of rules and guidelines for my diets, budget and otherwise.  However, an anxiety-ridden and frivolous evening has compelled me to write this post (as in, right NOW), so here are my rules, completely on the fly:

Spending Diet Rules (effective Wednesday, June 1):
  1. All necessary expenses will be paid in full: rent, utilities, internet, cell phone, cat food, prescriptions, gas*, and any essential incidentals (doctor's co-pays, car insurance, veterinary bills).
  2. I will buy gas as needed, but try to keep the total at or less than $200/month.
  3. I will eat in and buy groceries as needed, but only "essential" items, as defined by my good judgment; since I want to cook real, wholesome meals and eat well, I won't limit myself to cheap foods, but I will only buy "treats" (i.e., snack foods or desserts) once a week.  Although I don't have a limit, my goal will be to not spend more than $200 a month on groceries.
  4. I will withdraw $100 at the beginning of each month and use this for eating out, clothes, entertainment, etc.  I will not go over this amount.  For now this also includes craft and art items, but since I'm essentially starting a business around this I might have to make a separate allowance for these items in the future.
  5. I will mend, make or beg anything I possibly can.
Eating Diet Rules (effective Sunday, May 22):
  1. I will only eat sugar (as in something that might clearly be considered candy or a dessert) once a week.  It will only be one item and not exceed 500 calories.  However, I may have honey and dark (at least 70%) chocolate in moderation.
  2. I will cut back on processed snack foods and eliminate high fructose corn syrup from my diet whenever I have the choice/knowledge.
  3. I will keep my calorie intake at or less than 1500 calories at least six days a week.
  4. Er...I guess that's it?  I actually eat pretty well when it comes to meals, it's just the snacking and REALLY the sugar that get me to the point of binge-eating.  So I guess those first two rules, with the help of my budget stipulations, that will keep the crappy refined foods at bay.

I know some of these rules are pretty vague and I could possibly argue my own way around them since some of them rest on my "better judgment", but I have faith I'll do the right thing.  I want this.  I'm sick of starting over tomorrow, of saying that soon things will be different.  I'm sick of failing.  As someone who's being dragged behind the wagon she fell off of, I'm making the final decision to just get up and walk.

Drooling

I could never afford this blanket, found at this Etsy seller here, but I am completely in love with it...orange is the new happy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spendy McSpenderson

So lately I've been reading this cool blog called And Then She Saved (Denver-based, yeah yeah!) about Anna Newell Jones' Spending Fast (and now Spending Diet) to pay down her debt.  It's been inspiring and eye-opening, and even though I have no debt and generally live within my means, I've decided that I, too, should go on a spending diet.  Or, as the regular folk might say, a budget.

I'm conflicted about how to do this.  I mean it's the middle of the month, and I just need so much.  Like that new little paneled cabinet thing I just bought (albeit at Goodwill - only $10).  Or the flowey purpley spring hoodie I just put in my online shopping cart at Anthropolgie.com (on sale!) that will totally go with my gray cigarette pants I just bought at Buffalo Exchange (also thrifted - and half off - only $8!!).  These things help me envision the artsy eclectic bohemian life I am absolutely meant to live...they're essential, clearly.

Okay, okay, so I'm apparently already pretty thrifty.  Writing out my latest purchases (not including the 1888-1988 National Geographic index book I bought for art projects, also from Goodwill) made me realize I'm actually creative and frugal when I make personal purchases.  But still, I buy a lot of household items and new clothes and what not because of how I'm sure they'll make me feel, because I can just see the life I want in them, which isn't really the case.  And anyway, my biggest expenditures by far are on food and eating out (compulsive overeating is wicked wasteful, fyi - which is what I do when I'm too emotional.  Like majorly.  I'm really working on it.).

I'm also excited about getting my hands dirty and getting REALLY creative in my daily living, so I think this spending diet/budget will be a great idea.  The question now is when to start: on the one hand, there's no time like the present, but on the other hand it makes sense to start at the beginning of a month.  I also need to think of rules for myself (and at the same time recommit myself to my NO DAILY SUGAR rule); Anna's were a good start but not exactly what I need.  So this is my project for the next few days: decide how I want to live my life in respect to money (and, by association, food).  It'll be fun and force me to be crafty and simplify - my next post will be the rules, and then it begins!

Side note: I use a lot of parentheses in this post, no?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Newest Obsession

I am absolutely obsessed with Dala horses right now. I love the antique, agrarian and distinctly Nordic style of them.  I think I'm going to start integrating them into my crafts...

It's Been Too Long

Oh my, it's been a while since I posted here.  I guess that's because a lot has been going on: Cirque du Grivois fundraiser cabaret show, Create Denver art and business expo, pub trivia, Mother's Day brunch, catching up with old friends, immersing myself in arts and crafts.  All good things, and all things which are making me extremely happy.  So mission accomplished.  Blog over.

Just kidding.  I know you (and by you I mean the NO ONE who reads this blog) were aghast.  I am just so interesting, right?  Actually, I was sort of looking over this blog (all - what - ten posts?) and it's the type of self-absorbed insipid cliched drivel I always feared (and knew) it would be. I really want to revamp my focus - the whole find thyself theme actually served its purpose, as it got me motivated to jump back into a lot of things I love, but now I want to concentrate more on art, style, thriftiness, food, events, etc. specific to Denver.  I love love love my city and the Create Denver Expo coupled with some introductions to Denver-centric blogs have really made me want to be the essence of a Denverite in my own right.  I don't know exactly what it will look like (I also want to focus on some art/craft/style in general) or if I'll use this blog as my base, but we'll see.  This is what I love!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Youthful Fancy

Alright, I know I sounded a little bit silly in that last post, but I'm still convinced I can't be the only person wondering where the line between legitimate risks and craziness lies.

Anyway, I was thinking this morning (as I'm playing hooky from work to create) that everything I'm doing or wanting to do now is stuff I did as a child - so maybe we should pay more attention to those childhood dreams and callings.  When I was younger (maybe 8 to 11) I spent a lot of time with my best friend making jewelry out of thrift store finds (in fact I still have a bunch of tiny, handpainted wooden birds from one of those finds that I want to repurpose), sewing tiny stuffed animals out of felt (we were in heavy corporate competition with Beanie Babies - no joke) and writing classroom newspapers and magazines to sell to our fellow students (crushing the competition in the meantime).  Seriously.  That was my childhood: I was a tiny entrepreneurial craftswoman.  And now I'm thinking that wasn't so far off after all...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Muse

I've finally started crafting....and it turns out I need a lot of practice.  And inspiration.  But hey - I'm doing it!

"I'd rather make mistakes than do nothing."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Accidental Poetry

I was watching a documentary about the tsunami in Japan with my mother, and I commented on the haunting sound of the tsunami - of the waves, of the crushing debris, of the moaning building foundations.  That was when my mom said "It speaks of itself."  She then corrected herself, as she'd meant to say something along the lines of "It sounds like it's speaking," but I thought her first statement was so beautiful and so poetic that I can't stop thinking about it.  The tsunami speaks of itself.  

I marvel at those accidental moments of poetry.  I'm thankful for unexpected beauty.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Own Worst Enemy

I've been feeling inspired lately.  The problem is, I haven't felt like I've had any time to act on those feelings because of other obligations: work, errands, chores and feeling unbelievably tired.  But now I'm wondering: how many of those obligations are real and how many are just me not doing the right thing and making time for the things I love?

I have Post-It notes all over my house reading, "Are you living the life you want?"  And lately, I've been feeling more like I know what that life is and less like I've been actually living it.  I've been stressed by work, I'm not sleeping enough, I haven't acted on my creative impulses and I'm snapping at the one person who treats me far better than I think I deserve.  True, my job is very hard and I have a lot of commitments taking up my time right now, but in the end I have to be the one in control of my life.  So I'm making the following promises to myself:

1. I will practice compassion, patience and kindness to those around me at all times.
2. I will take time every day to create.
3. I will go confidently in the direction of my dreams - beginning a new job, grad school, or starting my own venture.
4. I will say yes to friends more often.
5. I will love myself and not worry about what others think.
6. I will live the life I truly want.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back to Basics

When I was in art and creative writing classes, I always resented having to follow prompts or obey the teachers' instructions.  I guess I was always a sort of obstinate child - a byproduct of being so precocious, I suppose.  I also never considered the results of these exercises "art," since I place so much value on originality and intention when it comes to the act of creating.  But lately I've been reconsidering my attitude to artistic instruction.  I've been playing around with some of my materials, and I just bought a shiny new set of acrylics, but...I'm feeling a bit lost.  So I decided to get back to basics and check out a book of creative exercises from the library.  Yes, many of the activities are silly and some are just downright dumb (make a car out of a soda can??), but lo and behold I've already gained some inspiration.  The idea, I've come to realize (finally - stubborn me), is to get the mind working in ways it's not used to and start problem-solving; for me, taking scenarios I might not necessarily like and turning them into something I find beautiful or useful.  For the next few days I'll be setting my pride aside and going old-school.

On that note, here's a short poem from one of my college creative writing classes that started as a prompt and turned into something I really enjoyed.  Based on the work of Lisa Jarnot in Some Other Kind of Mission (a really fabulous book, if you haven't read it):

Light memory.  Laughing blindfolds or green sugar spoons.  Risk!  Reckless, shantytown i mean rosemary Italian gin.  Now i'm combining by accident, forgive me.  I cried twice when you left.  dark night, overnight.  flashbulbs break silence and diners open and still bad gin but now no longer frightened of you leaving.  I could tell I'm not accomplishing.  the desired effect.  Forgive me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It Must Be Love


















I am truly in love.  I am so overwhelmingly inspired by the works of both Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans that I find it hard to breathe.  The truth, humility and candidness of their photographs is, to me, what photography is all about - and the beauty and composition are just an incredible bonus to the subject matter.  Words can't describe what I find in them.  These photographers make me want to create, they make me want to participate in the world as I never have before.  I once read that Cartier-Bresson captured the essence of an event, of life, by pointing his camera away from the fanfare and into the crowd.  And that's where we are, after all.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Seeking the Canary

I love birds. I especially love sparrows; I have a tattoo of a sparrow on my hip to remind me not to let anything hold me back in life, particularly my own fears. However, I chose a canary as a title for this blog because, besides being pithy (my name is Kat - I am so clever, right?), canaries are supposed to be symbols of happiness and signs that the path is clear ahead. And that's exactly what I'm looking for in life: my own clear path to happiness. I don't know what it looks like yet, but I'm prepared to search high and low to find it. And who knows - maybe this will be one of those the-beauty-is-in-the-journey type stories.

This probably sounds like a bit of a cliche, a twenty-something blogging about her quest for identity, meaning and joy in life. But I don't want to approach this blog with any of that self-consciousness. I don't care if it's a little trite, this is my journey and I deserve a voice in the zeitgeist as much as anyone. Maybe I'll come up with a real purpose or a plan or an experiment while writing this blog (I smell a book deal!), but for now it's just me...and that's just fine.