31 March 2014

Martiniville

Jasmine of Blue Jasmine via Wifflegif
I'm not exactly sure what Jimmy Buffet was doing writing songs about "Margaritaville," while nobody penned the tune Martiniville. You guys, it's official. I have found "my drink" - and it's a martini. Dirty, with "all of the olives," preferably garlic or cheese stuffed. I have perfected the art of the martini, which isn't too much of an art, so let's just say that I've perfected the vodka-to-olive-juice ratio, have a system for making my glasses really cold (it's called putting them in the freezer), and have gotten so good at shaking mytini up that little beautiful crystals of ice float to the top of my glass, and I think to myself "This must be what the drink-version of the movie Frozen is like" because I am nutty and have nutty thoughts. Speaking of nuts, my new drinking habit has made me up my snack game. Some nights, I'll come home, and before I slip into my usually dinner-making routine, I'll make a plate of cheese, nuts, and pear to go with my drink, and for a few minutes everything is right with the world.

Out of curiosity, do you have a go-to drink that you know how to make off of the top of your head? Or a drink you always order when you're out at  the bar? I think I'm leaning toward clear liquids and no sugars these days. I like my drinks savory and cold. What about you?

Lucille Bluth, whom I think I am channeling every time I slurp via StarCrush

28 March 2014

Box Count: Eight

What do photographs of unnamed groupies, the Velvet Underground, and pastries from Floriole have in common? Oh, just that they were my favorite things from last weekend, hands down. We plowed through another 150 photographs on Saturday, and the stack of music performing photographs grew smaller as we worked our way down the table. We even refiled some images and put my filing system to work... spoiler alert, everything was organized, easy to find, and now I know what Muhal Richard Abrams looks like. And all of this while munching on delicious treats from my favorite Chicago bakery and listening to the Velvet Underground discography - not too shabby! That said I'm really proud of the work we've done so far, and looking forward to Saturday! And every photograph has a story attached to it, some of which haven't been told for years, I am so darn lucky to take the richness of it all in.

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This Weekend

The way my heart greets the weekend via Crushable.com
Is it just me or has this week dragged on for what feels like an eternity? Even though I didn't have plans most of this week, I still felt crazed and busy. And guess what, this weekend will probably be crazed and busy too. But good crazed and busy, I swear it.

- Tonight, I am off to hell on earth Navy Pier to pick up racing packets for the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday. Green is my power color and all, but I am secretly super stressed about this race. What is wrong with me guys?
- Tomorrow I'll be continuing to archive Herb Nolan's photography collection. Last week we spent the entire day listening to the Velvet Underground discography while working, and everything was right with the world.
- After archiving Herb's collection, I'm helping my family out with some family things. Sorry for the vague-ness, but a girl's gotta be vague sometimes.
- Tomorrow night I'm attending Learning By Doing at the Farm, which is part film screening, part academic talk, part book release party, and one of the folks who wrote the book is an alumna of the Knox College art history program. Holla!
- Sunday, I'll be eating oatmeal, a banana, a yogurt, and then trying not to throw it all up while speedwalking the Shamrock Shuffle.
- Following, I want beer. And a corndog. In no particular order.
- Also, homegirl needs a haircut. So I'm getting my haircut.
- Oh and wearing this lip color every day from now until forever, including going to the liquor store to buy more delicious martini juice.

But seriously, it's cool if I wear this during the race on Sunday, right?

Obsessed with my new NARS lip pencil. It's cool if I wear this during the Shamrock Shuffle right?

21 March 2014

Box Count: Six

UntitledLast week, Herb, Mary, and I worked our way through archiving upwards of 250 photographs - bringing our grand total to 300 silver gelatin prints stored neatly in six archival boxes. They were 250 mid-size black and white photographs of musicians playing their instruments in various locations. Festivals, jazz clubs, long-established music venues, beneath highway underpasses, indoor, outdoor, you name it, they played there, and Herb photographed it.

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What's been one of the real treats of this experience has been the act of listening. While various types of music emanate through the light-filled living room, we play a game of memory, flashing an image before Herb's eyes only to be regaled with tales of Black Panther buttons, attending festivals in an era where toplessness was the norm, jazz and blues greats crooning so hard and fiercely that the pulsating temples are felt throbbing through the photographs into the room. These stories though sometimes sad, are often served up with a side of humor. The are what make this project rich. Walking through a history, story after story, picture by picture - it's something remarkable. We've discussed potentially setting up a tape recorder, or a video camera (how meta!) to capture what we are doing, the real meat and potatoes of the experience. Might be worthwhile... But we shall see!

Islands at SPACE

Islands at SPACE

On Monday night I saw danced my butt off to Islands at SPACE in Evanston, and all I really have to say is this: white patent leather slippers are adorable on men, and every single person in Islands has a celebrity look-alike. I am convinced. Islands is comprised of Johnny Cash, Wes Anderson, Cillian Murphy, and Hamish Linklater. There. I said it. Other than that, we were remarkably close, the band sounded amazing, and they played Swans which blew my mind because it's super ballsy to play a song that is over nine minutes long, and the intro track to your freshman album. Either way, it was amazing. Also, SPACE rules. It reminded me (in terms of vibez) of Lincoln Hall. Only they had really beautiful, delicious, moderately-priced, expertly-made cocktails, which might be why I have little to say with words and just remember having a very good time. 

Anyways, I'm not much by way of words this morning... I should probably go get a cup of coffee! What this show did remind me is how much I like seeing live music! It's such a treat to have a group of talented folks get up and play songs for you, and even a bigger treat to partake in the tunes in the company of people you enjoy being with. Which is why I am posting an open invite for anyone in the Chicago-area / blogosphere to attend some of the FREE music programming over at Comfort Station next month. Let me know if you are interested, because FREE MUSIC.

Also... speaking of Lincoln Hall, Angel Olsen is playing on Sunday, May 4th. Moriah and I already have tickets, but all of you folks who like tunes and live in the city should join us. We can swing and sway our way into Monday like a big weekend ship fueled by guitar riffs and pretty melodies.

17 March 2014

Weekend Reflection

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Turkey bacon cooked in coconut oil, is there anything better? 
This weekend was glorious, in that I only spent a tiny portion of it outside. Reclusive cat lady status coming at you - only, I don't have a cat. I successfully avoided all public-drunken-chaos that is Saint Patrick's Day in Chicago, by merely avoiding all party neighborhoods, cooking for myself, and hunkering down for a weekend of therapeutic deep cleaning. In between interning and drinking my new favorite drink, a perfectly chilled extra dirty homemade martini, I managed to invent a breakfast that could become my new staple. I call is veggie hash, and it was comprised of what I had on hand: brussel sprouts, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, grape tomatoes, turkey bacon, and eggs. I sauteed the veggies in turkey bacon fat, then cracked a few eggs on top of the hash and put into the oven to bake. Added a bit of cheese to the top, served up with turkey bacon, avocado, and whole wheat bread. The entire meal made the apartment smell divine - like pure breakfast. I liked this dish so much, I even packed it up as leftovers for lunch!

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This is what happens when you accidentally spend $21 on a martini in a hotel bar. You vow to never ever make that dumb mistake again, and perfect your own at-home martini. Also, you feel effing cool doing it.
In addition to making a delicious leisurely breakfast, I made 22 cups of amber colored vegetable broth, fixed a majority of my clothes that needed fixing, taught myself how to perfect a martini, dusted my bedroom, watched two movies, did all of my laundry, and ironed every piece of clothing that needed ironing. Was I social? Not really. But my bedroom is so dang sparkly and lovely that I don't really care about being a reclusive dusting maven.

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This is what my "home office" looked like this weekend. I spent an absurd amount of time in my bed. And could you blame me? Look at all of that beautiful warm western light!

14 March 2014

This Weekend // Happy Pi Day


Happy Pi Day y'all! Pi Day is one of my all-time-favorite fake holidays because it plays on the vulnerability of math nerds and pie lovers respectively. I didn't learn of Pi Day until my senior year in high school, when my very wonderful math teacher (who was very tough on me, but loved me), told me that Pi Day is real, and that it must be celebrated both in and out of class. Any small effort to make me embrace math through my love of sweets and baked goods is a-okay in my book. Thus, I try to celebrate annually.  I preordered a key lime pie from Bang! Bang! Pie Shop earlier this week, and picked it up this morning. On the train, I almost wanted to have a tag on my coat that said "Baby on Board" because pie is real. Real important.

Next year's Pi Day will be on 3.1415 - so gear up, it's going to be one for the scrapbooks.

This weekend is going to be chill, by the way. I have almost zero plans, and I fully intend to use that time only semi-constructively.

- Tomorrow I'll be continuing my photography archival internship (read below).
- Tomorrow night is my friend Anthony's birthday party, and I will know a handful of people there from the Chicago art world. Must look fabulous, must think of things to talk about other than True Detective.
- I had delicious $5 martinis on Wednesday after work, and now I have decided martinis are my thing. I want to perfect the art of martinis (Putting the art in martini? Anyone? Bueller?), beginning with stocking up on blue cheese olives, vodka, and vermouth. Gonna put my workin'-out arm strength to the test. Then drink it up.
- I want to dust my room and clean my windows. Spring cleaning? Something like it.
- More reading about French food and French eating
- Never-ending piles of laundry
- Nick and I want to come up with some spring lqqks (I had to Google lqqk, btw). Basically we will be drinkin' martinis and airing out / ironing our chambray. Did someone say fashion show?

Top Six Picks: February 2014

We're halfway through March, and I'm just now reflecting on some of my favorite things from February, typical. February was brutally cold, which means I didn't go out too much or do too many things. I'm also trying to save a little money for future things, so most of the stuff I like to do/consume are things I can do on the cheap while involve staying indoors. Thanks winter, you keep me in check.

ONE
Angel Olsen // Burn Your Fire for No Witness
I had the opportunity to see Angel Olsen this summer at Pitchfork, but obviously I didn't go because I didn't know who she was, or care to know who she was. Then I "discovered" her this past fall, after sort of meeting her and not knowing who she was, and falling into the trap of Spotify self-discovery. And here we are, months later, me counting the weeks until I can see AO at Lincoln Hall, listening to both of her LPs on repeat, and going dough-eyed over every interview, article, and photograph of her. She has such a great set of pipes, and a real sense of what sounds good. Love you, Angel.


TWO
Chewing the Fat Podcast
As part of the adventure I call Carving Out My Space, I've started building up my podcast library. You know, stuff to listen to on commutes, car trips, and while doing data entry at work. Podcasts are a slippery slope, I already have five shows I listen to weekly (This American Life, Filmspotting, Chewing the Fat, Who Charted, and Nerdette), and I know that list is probably going to grow exponentially. I just love podcasts. Such an interesting and relatively inexpensive way to share information! Chewing the Fat is no exception. Two Chicago-based food-nerds/foodists (Louisa Chu and Monica Eng) discussing their favorite dumplings and strange food trends. I end every episode craving whatever they were talking about re: dumplings. You all should probably check this show out.


THREE
Taco Night
Andrew and I have started to get into the habit of cooking/eating the same things weekly. We cycle through chicken piccata, pizza night, Thai food takeout, Parson's, and taco night. Taco night might be my favorite because it's the cheapest, makes an absurd amount of food, is easy to do vegetarian style, yields unlimited leftovers (hey lunch!), and is fun. Just plain fun. Is it as good as Big Star? No, not really. But we are so good at taco night, that we can have everything chopped, cooked, and ready for buffet style serving in under 30 minutes, go us!
Image via Daily Republic
FOUR
Beck // Morning Phase
I am now entering the chapter of my life where I am actively seeking out new tunes. All suggestions are welcome. In addition to the new Angel Olsen album, Beck released his much anticipated Morning Phase, and I am OBSESSED. I am one of the few people who goes nuts over his slow-string-heavy music, Sea Change is my favorite Beck album, go figure. I should probably just listen to his dad's music, and call it a day. Morning Phase has been called a follow-up to Sea Change, so naturally I'm swooning. I will be seeing Sir Beck at Pitchfork this summer, hurry up July! Also, Beck's hat is cute. Much cuter than Pharrell's.
Image via Rolling Stone
FIVE
True Detective
This show was nothing short of perfect. I definitely got wrapped up in the conspiracy theorizing leading up to Sunday's finale, and was slightly disappointed that not everything was clearly explained. But hi, this show is amazing. All of it, every second, I just loved it. Thank god for television. Thank god for HBO. Now go watch it, listen to the theme song on repeat (like I do when I'm not listening to Beck and Angel Olsen and podcasts), and come up with your own weird theories.
Image via JYNNSKRIFA

SIX
Rapo's Chicken Pot Pie
For our one-year-anniversary, Andrew and I stayed in to watch a movie and made devoured this chicken pot pie recipe I found in last month's Bon Appetit. It was pretty easy to make, made the whole house smell amazing, and yielded all of the leftovers. Was it healthy? No. Was it delicious? YES. If you have a hankering for pot pie, make this. We subbed in mushrooms for the baby onions, and I poured some beer in for good measure.
Image via Bon Appetit

11 March 2014

Archiving a Collection

Cataloging

From my time working in a gallery and my years spent wandering the Art Institute, the act of collecting is something that has come to be of great interest to me. Upon reflection, I don't consider myself to be a collector of anything. I didn't collect Beanie Babies, I don't really possess an art collection, and my eclectic mix of records wouldn't be considered worthy of the title "collection" to many music aficionados. And yet, I am drawn to collections. Collections that might not be my own have made their way into my life by way of lists. For you see, I am truly a list-maker.

One of my first projects at the Art Institute was to create a list of all living descendants of donors to the precious Thorne Miniature Rooms - a strange and fun challenge, given that the Thorne Rooms were so important to me as a little girl. I worked on this project diligently tracking down little histories of former donors finding interesting stories (one descendant bred miniature horses!), but also finding dead ends where questions would always be left unanswered.

What I took away from that project was that cataloging things comes naturally for me, regardless of what it is I am working to catalog. Which has led me to an exciting new project I'm pursuing in my free time. I'm currently working to organize, archive, and catalog a collection of photography for a dear family friend and great talent, Herb Nolan. My first visit to his home and studio was this past Saturday, and the work I encountered spanned decades, themes, subject matter, and location broadly and with grace. We whittled down the collection into genres that "made sense," piling photograph after photograph into the proper location based on theme and size. As we moved through the collection, Herb reminisced on memories and moments from an era long since past, and yet, the photographs rich in contrast and intimate in manner perfectly evoked the feeling of the time and place he so beautifully captured.

We only scratched the surface with our preliminary work on Saturday, but ideally an exhibition is in the works. Stay tuned! 

10 March 2014

Seinfeld S2E2: The Pony Remark


This episode was so uneventful that I had to watch it twice. TWICE! And then I put off vlogging about it because I felt like I truly had nothing to say. Here we are, over a month after I watched it, I'm full of sushi and cider, and decided to film a walk-n-talk. Let me know if you like the goofy laid back format, and sorry for the f-bombs. You can see the look of regret on my face, I promise.

Thanks to my camera dude! I like how we did a camera countdown in Wayne's World code, and never acknowledged how unspoken that was.

08 March 2014

Grilled Cheese Toad in the Hole

It's been a while since I've posted a quiet breakfast shot, but it's a good a time as any for some mouthwatering deliciousness on the blog. I went to bed fairly early last night, and had enough time this morning to make myself a filling warm toasty breakfast. In fact, I'm still enjoying my pot of coffee as I write this post. Molly Yeh of My Name is Yeh guest posted on A Cup of Jo earlier this week with different variations on the classic toad in the hole recipe. One of the recipes called for two pieces of toast with pimento cheese between them - a sort of grilled cheese with a fried egg in the middle. Naturally, I had to try it. Rather than using a fancy pimento, I dumbed the whole thing down with American cheese, ripped into tiny puzzle pieces that I melted between the bread. The outcome was totally delicious.

Grilled cheese toad in the hole is a revelation
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07 March 2014

This Weekend


I feel like total garbage, day three and counting. But I will not let my complete feeling of crumminess deter me from being a fulfilled human with creative pursuits this weekend. I spent last night sleeping, sleeping, and more sleeping, which did the body good. I'm still on the mend, but hopefully by early next week, I will be back on the saddle. 

- Tonight, I am going to see Theaster Gates in conversation with Valerie Piraino at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. You should too! RSVP and event info here.
- After the artist talk it's a toss up where we will eat. Ed's Posticker House in Bridgeport, somewhere in Greektown, noshing in the West Loop, or snacks in Logan Square. I should put a survey on here or something...
- Tomorrow I begin a self-appointed "internship" with a good friend and wonderful photographer, Herb Nolan. In my spare time, I will be cataloging / archiving his entire photography collection and dreaming up an exhibition with him and his lovely wife, Mary. More to come. Needless to say, I am very excited.
- True Detective finale. Watch this video for all theories of importance to me.
- Day's 3 and 4 of the great experiment I refer to as "Coconut Oil Pulling." Come at me weird trendy health/beauty fad.
- Swinging by The Post Family happenings at Comfort Station. Shout out to Rose for being the reigning queen of the social media presence for Comfort Station!

05 March 2014

Quiet Moments

Pop of color in the snow

It's March 5th, it's snowing, and yes, it's still cold. Lately, I've been scrolling two and three weeks forward on weather predicting websites staring longingly at days in the 40s. Rain will wash away the snow, the earth will soften, little green buds with stubbornly push their way through bark, and tiny blades of grass will grow neon in the dirt. Spring will be here shortly, I just need to persevere in my patience, air out my spring dresses, daydream about dry cleaning my tired winter coat, and push through just like the buds in the bark.

I walked to the train in the snow, short of breath from yet another winter cold, and then this miraculous bundle of pink and red balloons blew across my path brightening my morning, reflecting their color and warmth onto the surrounding snow. It's the quiet moments like these that push me to recognize how fleeting all of this is, and that even a snowy grey day can make way for pops of color, making the reds and pinks seem that much brighter. 

Spring, I see you. I beg of you, please come swiftly and sweetly.

04 March 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

GPOY - Waiting outside of the Music Box in the snow edition
On Saturday, we anxiously waited in line outside of the Music Box Theater in 20 degree snowy weather, not because we were lunatics, but because we wanted to attend the VIP sneak preview of The Grand Budapest Hotel and see Wes Anderson in person! It was cold, I mean really cold. I was one of the lucky few to nab an RSVP to this impossible-to-get-into event, and while I hated the way my toes felt after an hour and a half of jumping from foot to foot in the cold, I'd say some icy toes were an even trade to be in the same room as Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Tony Revolori, the boy wonder of this film. We killed time sipping chai from Julius Meinl, making up games, trying to read each others' minds, and befriending everyone else in line with us. It was an awesome experience to share with a crowd of Wes Anderson devotees, and I will not soon forget it.

The movie was wonderful, and as rich and colorful as one might expect from Anderson. What differentiated this film from the rest of his oeuvre was the darkness of the story and some of the gruesome moments that caught me off guard. No spoilers, I promise. I will just say that seeing a gory decapitated head and little nubby cut-off fingers was shocking and surprising, adding an element of thrill and horror to the film that was lightened by humor, wit, and beautiful editing. 

What I loved about this film was that Anderson decided, much like he did with the Darjeeling Limited, that he would base his film around a location and moment in time, imbuing the story with the very nature of its surroundings. In prepping for the film, he visited Germany and Budapest, and shot a majority of the movie on site (aside from the adorable animated / sculpted moments). The whole movie was true to the Wes Anderson Universe, but steeped in a different era of nostalgia than so many of his other films take place. 

Was it my favorite Anderson film? Not entirely, but it still invited me to visit his magical mind, basking in the richness of texture and color, allowing me to hunt for details and common threads in all of his films, as if to unlock so mystery of the characters and stories he so lovingly weaves for my viewing pleasure.

Wes, you did it again! Bravo, darling, bravo!
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