thumbtacks, cupcake liners, and coffee filters, oh my!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The wall behind my tv has been crying out for some sort of decoration.  It's sitting on the ubiquitous white Expedit and has a few vintage mirrors behind it.  Those mirrors create a bit of an awkward space to arrange things around, but I love how they look so I thought I'd work with it instead of change it.

Crappy iPhone picture... Sorry!

So, I've thought about doing a gallery wall around the tv.  When you make the tv fade into the decor on the wall around it, you get to pretend that you don't spend way too much time watching it.  (Right?  It fools people, doesn't it?)

gorgeous living room from

tv/gallery wall from

I've shown a million pictures from this house... BECAUSE I LOVE EVERY SHOT OF IT!
photo from Design Sponge's sneak peek of Emily Henson's home

Now, this is a great idea, but most of the smaller sized art that I own is already hung up around my apartment. And, it takes a lot of energy to arrange such a thing.  Does this make me lazy?  Probably.  But, from laziness comes great ideas.  (That's the old adage, right?)  So, when I saw this photo on, I thought that it could be the perfect treatment for this wall.  Something organic and flowing can balance out an uneven space - perfect when you have a large piece of furniture or tv that isn't centered on the wall.

So, the littlest sister came over for a night of Getting Stuff Done! TM.  We got coffee filters and cupcake liners in two different sizes.  We took some thumbtacks, painted them orange, and we were ready to start...  (By the way, this project was so cheap - less than $2 each for the filters and liners, 99 cents for the thumbtacks and a tiny bit of paint and painter's tape that I already had.  Even if you had to buy those, you're still looking at less than $10.  Nice.)

Then I took some painter's tape and "sketched" out the design I wanted. Awww.. that was back when my flowers weren't dead. (and my entertainment center was messy)

I just started placing the different sized liners and filters in a random pattern, generally following the lines of the tape.  

I layered some of them on top of each other, but looking at it now, I would love to add in a few paper doilies.  

I love the organic, textured feel it gives to the room.  It fills up the wall, but it's light and airy so it doesn't compete too much with the bookshelves directly opposite it.

Love it.

please, nobody rob me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I just realized that when you add in the flip cams from The Autism Project (I have them so I can download all of the clips of last weekend's Journeys in Music) to my MacBook and iPhone... I've got a couple thousand dollars in technology in my school bag.  Eeek!  I'm keeping this thing so close to me.

But!  I've got those videos and photos uploading onto my computer and there are some cute things on there.  Amber came and took pictures for me, so I'll wait until I have some pretty ones to show you.  (Thanks, Amby!)

Now, to answer everyone's questions about what it is that I've actually been doing... Last semester, I volunteered with a professor of mine, Pam Buchanan, at an event called a Super Sleeper, with her program, The Autism Project.  I was paired up with an amazing kid and the two of us discovered a mutual love of music and performing.  He decided that we needed to start a band (fortuitously, there was a grand piano in one of the gyms) and  we spent the weekend preparing for a big concert.  The same weekend, a local musician volunteered to play for the participants and what was supposed to be her concert turned into these hours of audience participation.  The kids loved singing along with her, writing songs and singing into the microphone.  My kid was really excited about having a "real, live, musician" attend our concert (Band name?  The Next Big Thing) and it turned into one of the sweetest moments ever. (Why, yes.  I totally belted out "Rolling in the Deep" with a 10 year old as our dramatic concert finale...)

I talked to my professor the next week, saying that more music had to be added to the Super Sleeper program.   I'd later realize that this was totally her style, but then I was a bit shocked when she announced that we were just going to have to make a new program exploring music and that I should invent it.  We've been working on the it since last December and had our first Journeys in Music event this February.  Last Friday was the second and we'll have two more this semester.  It has taken SOOOOOO much work, but I'm loving it.  Pam has told me I can do whatever I want and seeing the students get to explore music in a variety of ways is such a rewarding thing.

The events have about 15 children, each placed one on one with a UT volunteer.  We have a bunch of instruments (from guitars to ukuleles to trombones to violins to drums - the last is a real headache inducer) for the children to experiment with, helped along by local musicians and students from UT's School of Music.  From the very beginning, I've said that I wanted the students to have free reign over their playing.  Most children (not to mention ones with disabilities) are told to be very careful around expensive instruments, so I made sure we bought them all ourselves (or had them donated) so that the kids could bang away until their hearts were content.  I didn't want to stress about breaking anything and you can sense that freedom when you walk in the room.  (By freedom I mean loudness.)

We have a guest performer each time and this month was Austin local Patrice Pike.  I was particularly excited about this because I've seen her in concert a few times and she's amazing.  It turned out to be a really special performance; Patrice had been losing her voice all day and I told her not to worry if she needed to cancel on us.  She rallied herself (and as a singer, I could tell how much she was straining) to perform for the kids and they loved it!  She led them in a few dances and call and repeat songs and even let a few of the children sing in the microphone as she played her djembe.

The big finale of our night is a performance by the children.  We have a time where they can practice their solo with our accompanists or practice their lyric skills in our song writing session.  Each time we've had a few students sing songs they wrote themselves in that session, accompanied by one of our local musician volunteers or playing the guitar or piano themselves.  (That is a sight to see - an seven year old who's had about 20 minutes experience on the guitar accompanying himself on "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, version 2" that he just wrote.)  The big finale of Friday's even was definitely an eight year old boy rocking it out to "TNT" by ACDC.  The whole thing - air guitar solos and everything.

"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, version 2"
In this clip you can't see the epic bow he took at the end, but he was oh so proud of himself.

I've spent my whole life performing, but there is something really special about a little boy or girl standing in front of a microphone for the first time, hearing the thunderous applause of the whole room...

It's good to be me those nights.

A few of our UT volunteers helping one of our participants write a song.  He's a nine year old boy writing a song about his dog, so as you can imagine, it included a line about scooping the dog's poop. 
Hey!  We don't censor artistry at The Autism Project...

it's pink and scented!

Ok, maybe not, but a resume should have something about it that stands out.  Maybe it's your stellar references or a well crafted "About Me" section, but even then it can get lost in the crowd.

(Personally, I just write, "Dude, you know you want to hire me." on all of my resumes.)

Loft Resumes has come up with a brilliant concept.  It gives you "style-conscious resumes for the standout job seeker" and lets you pick the look of your resume, fill in the areas, arranges it all for a balanced, well-designed look and emails you a PDF (along with a similarly styled blank cover letter that you can open up in Word.)  It costs about $100, with customizations like multiple pages, a faster delivery time or custom color scheme for $10 - $40 more.

I'm obsessed with this idea.  It's brilliant.  In this economy, job interviews are hard to come by and though this might not be ideal for a conservative workplace, it's perfect for someone looking for a job in a creative field.

The Stars.

I think the Market Square might be my favorite.

So, if you're looking for a job anytime soon, these just might be the ticket.  Or, you could do what most successful job searchers do... Put me as a reference.  Hired!

(And tell me somebody got the Legally Blonde reference!)

hardware stores/home decor update

Monday, March 19, 2012

A certain Mrs. Loryn Brooke Holloway Briscoe took my advice last week.

I posted all of the pictures from my little jaunt to the hardware store and said that I thought all of those succulents would look great on her dining room table.  She called me that afternoon asking a question about planting orchids in a new flowerpot she'd bought (evidently I'm the flower expert - I love it!) and though I don't know much about them, I do love them.  However, a few hours later, I got this photo...

Yeah!  She took my advice and it looks fantastic.  Only if everyone in my life would pay attention so well. :)  (Don't you love her table and gorgeous copper tolix chairs?  She knows how obsessed I am/totally jealous of her )

(P.S. I was having a blank moment and couldn't think of the name of Loryn's chair and looked on DWR's website.  Of course, then I had to spend a few minutes window shopping... How gorgeous are these wishbone chairs in that coral/orange and rattan?)

watchin' the ships roll in...

"Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" has to be one of my all time favorite songs and this is a killer version of it by a lady I happen to love.

(Side note: It's also my ringtone, so whenever I hear it, I have this instant reaction of "Who's calling me?")

why am I so excited about razors?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I found this video somewhere on the internet.  (No!  I wasn't wasting time watching pointless youtube videos!)  While it's a great ad, I also love the whole idea and look of the company.  Their website is well designed and it's a great idea.  Pick a razor (2 blade for $1 a month, 4 blade for $6, and the Executive - I don't know how many blades it has - for $9) and they send you 4 cartridges a month.  I always thought it would be fun to go into advertising and I always really appreciate a great ad - even if the product they are selling is something I don't need/won't buy.

This video, however, is the big hitter.  It's a funnier, more informative and cheaper (I heard it only cost $4500) version of the Old Spice ad campaign.  I'm pretty sure I've watched this thing 10 times.

My favorite line?  "I'm no Vanderbilt, but this train makes hay."

Dude, I'm really good at wasting time.

hardware stores are the new home decor boutiques

Lowe's or Home Depot?  Which hardware store do I like the best?

Well, I tend to like Home Depot better, but the proximity of a Lowe's to my apartment usually means I pop in there when I need a few nails or some paint.  I understand that normal people don't have a favorite hardware store, but it's a place full of interior design resources and inspiration.  I'm not just talking about the obvious (new lighting or appliances) but cheap, simple decor that nobody will guess came from a hardware store.

I usually can't help but wander every single aisle to just browse and imagine (oh, the possibilities!)  Yesterday, however, I was on a mission for wood stain (new desk to be made this week!) so I only looked in a few spots, but I still found a million different ideas.

I'm a big fan of succulents (the only plants I don't kill) and Lowe's had 2 giant tables full.  They're such sculptural, gorgeous plants and you never have to water them!  They provide a perfect touch of nature to any room, but  I found a few that I pictured in a modern space.

 A few of these...

 plus a purple one or two and the tall, skinny, spiky one in the top left corner (every picture I took of it was really blurry!)

I'd put them in a bright white pot - these aren't horribly priced, and I like the texture.  I'm a big fan of these from IKEA (I must have 10 of them).  They're about half the price and come in 8 different sizes.

I can see them in a group of 3 or 5, on a rustic wood table.  Loryn, I'm pretty much picturing these in your dining room.  You get the "touch of nature" most plants bring, but with a sculptural, interesting shape.


I've also been looking for a thrift store bench to do a little makeover on.  The window at the front of my living room is crying out for a little bench underneath it.  Hopefully I'll find a cheap one and this'll turn out to be a $20 project.

I love the edge the nylon towing rope gives.  This project is from Today's Nest and I'm a big fan.  When I was at Lowe's, I looked through the rope options to get some design ideas and price points.

So many options!

I love the pattern these have and I think they'd look amazing woven on a white bench.  The white/red one will vibe better with my wildly patterned rug, I think.

I'm also thinking I might go with this white rope and a faded rusty-red/coral bench.  That color is one I haven't used very often, but it's pretty prevalent in my rug and I kinda love it!  
I couldn't feel it, but it seemed a little softer than the nylon rope.  I think the soft, white cotton will be a great counterpoint to the bold paint color.

What about these?  The blue one for a little kid's room?  Any of these would look adorable woven on a brightly colored bench (I'd love the left rope on a high gloss white.)

See?  The hardware store is full of possibilities.

flowers, a few days later

As I said before, the flowers my dad got me will have to be rearranged a bit once they bloom.  There is such a difference in size between lily pods and fully opened blooms that they didn't fit in it my arrangement anymore.  So, I divided them up and this happened...

Twice the fun.  (and if you look at the one with the yellow blooms, you'll see enough unopened flowers that I might get a third iteration!)  I split them up by color when I divided the bouquet - I always think that looks a little chicer.

This is definitely the gift that keeps on giving!  Thanks again, padre.

so, what do you do with flowers?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

As you saw, my padre left some gorgeous flowers on my doorstep.  This was the perfect gift because...
A: flowers are one of my favorite things in the world
B: he got me un-arranged flowers (important, so that I can do them myself)
C: He got me flowers barely opened (most people go for the ones that are fully opened because they think that it's prettier, in reality those are about to die.)

Good job, padre.

So, in high-school (and as extra help on Valentine's and Mother's Day in college) I worked at the local florist.  It was one of my all-time favorite jobs (Delivering flowers is awesome. Who doesn't like getting flowers?  All you do is make people happy!) and gave me some seriously useful flower arranging skills.  I thought I'd take a few pictures documenting how I used those skills and arranged the flowers my dad gave me.

First thing to consider?  Your container.  You don't have to use a vase; you can use a drinking glass, mason jar, flower pot, a sugar bowl, etc.  In fact, in terms of proportion and scale, I think it's easier to create a "good" arrangement in the beginning if you're using something short and fat rather than a tall vase - but that's just my opinion.  Today I used an old trophy cup I found at Goodwill, it says "H. T. C. H. T. 1979" and I have no idea what that means, but it cost me $1.99, so I love it.
See?  There are hundreds of similar items for a couple bucks at your local thrift store.  I could probably use a little silver cleaner on it, but I kind of like the "aged" look it has.

An important preparation step is to take off any leaves on the bottom of the stem.  The rule is that there shouldn't be any leaves that touch the water in your container.  If leaves stay in water, they start to disintegrate and make your water really gross/smelly.  This also helps everything fit in the container properly.

Then, you want to put the container you're using on the edge of the counter or table you'll work on.  (Or in my case, the stove... Why did I do that again?)  You'll place the flower (outside of the vase) at the height you want it in the final arrangement.
Doing this lets you know where to cut the stem.  With a normal vase or container, you'd cut it just at the edge of the counter top (or stove in my case), since I was using a footed container, I simply cut it at the bottom of the cup.  This is a really important step, because if you don't, you're just cutting blind.  If you cut a flower too long, well, fine... You just shorten it a bit.  If you cut it too short, however, you're kind of screwed.

You always should cut the end of a flower stem at as much of an angle as you can.  This gives the stem as much open surface area as possible to soak up the water.
Even if you're using flowers that you don't want to shorten, make sure you trim the ends just a bit.  You need to angle them like I've shown and you want to cut off  the end.  It has died between being harvested and ending up in your hands and it won't soak up water as effectively as you need it to.

With these flowers and the trophy cup I used, I went with short and round arrangement.  This will be easier to keep proportional and even than a tall, thin shape.
If you feel nervous about arranging your own flowers (as opposed to letting the florist do it) I'd go with a single type of flower.  Create a tight, even, round arrangement and it'll look chic and effortless.   If you want to do multiple kinds of flowers, I'd pick them yourself.  Those "mixed bouquets" that the grocery store sells aren't going to be the freshest (were each of those kinds of flowers picked on the same day?) and going to be full of less than desirable flowers.   If you want a variety, get a main flower with an interesting shape (I love peonies and ranunculas) and a filler flower or greenery with some fullness (those are invaluable for filling in the holes) in complementing colors.  If you pick colors with some similarity, it's easier to keep things even and balanced. (i.e. never worrying, "I need to put some more filler on this side, but I already have too much of that color over there.")

Like I said earlier, the smart way to buy flowers is to get barely opened ones (good job, padre.)  Of course, if you need flowers for a specific event, then you'll want to buy them looking perfect, but flowers that aren't fully opened still have a gorgeous sculptural quality to them.  This gives you more time with them (duh) but also a little more flexibility.   With these flowers, for instance, after they start to open, they'll be too big for the base they're in now, so I'll have to divide them up.  I'll probably use a little sugar bowl I found at (wait for it...) a thrift store for a couple of bucks.
Then, I get two arrangements for the price of one.

This has been a ridiculous 885 words about flower arranging.. but!  It's something that people are scared to do themselves and that's just ridiculous.

the perfect way to start my day

Did your dad leave flowers on your porch "just because"?

Cause mine did.  Finding them was the perfect start to the day, especially after a weekend spent sick in bed.  But... I did wake up without a fever, so if I stay at 98.6-ish all day, I get to return to the land of the living tomorrow.  Yeah!


Friday, March 9, 2012

I live with one of the seesters, but I got to spend the day with the others yesterday.  The littlest one is sick and since the padre and the brother are off on a manly man road trip, I've stayed with her a bit this week.  The other sister is off gallivanting across Europe (What? Do I sound jealous?  Does it seem like I am bothered by the incredibly amazing trip she's having to places I've never seen?!?!?!?!?! I'm totally not.  Why would you say that?) Anyways, we got to facetime for an hour or so (god love technology) and talk about how she's doing and future plans and how I miss her and all of the sister catching up things you have to do when your siblings are on far away continents.

It was good.

Evane (the Europe traveling one), Me, Larisa (the youngest) and Hannah (the roomie)

Finally! A picture with the brother.

We get even bigger!  (Minus Terry, Esme and Justin - the cutest nephew that ever lived!)

Don't let this photo of Justin and Hannah having fun fool you, he totally loves me the best.

Things that I think are awesome (the tattoo edition)

So, I wrote all about my tiny, behind the ear tattoos, but I spend a giant amount of time looking at other people's awesome/pretty/insane/funny/badass tattoos online.

My sister has some gorgeous ones (luckily, I get to look at them everyday.)  I've promised her I'll get one with her sometime, somewhere...
She just got the color fixed up on this one (the mustard shield and the hair/snakes) and I love it!

This was her first big one, based off this painting by Arnold Bocklin that she fell in love with when she studied it in college.

My favorite of hers, though?  This one...
We've both got a serious love of Ella Fitzgerald.

Last year, my friend Meg started her sleeve.  I went and hung out for the first session (6 hours!  That girl's a hoss!) at True Blue (where I got both of mine) with her amazing artist, Cara.  Meg and Cara designed this beautiful sleeve with watercolor like backgrounds and these gorgeous line drawings.  The whole thing looks like an amazing painting.  (I'm pretty sure I took all of these pictures, by the way...)
I named this bird Ernie.

After session one.  I. Can't. Wait. to see how it looks when it's all done.
It's already so gorgeous!

Look at all of the colors used.  (My shot.  So artistic, right?)

That's a tattoo!  Seriously.   I'm pretty sure Cara from True Blue did it as well.

So, those are the people I know that have tattoos I love - that I could find pictures of.  (Well, the padre has a pretty awesome one, but I need to get a good shot of it.  And ask him if I can share it, I guess.)

Here are some more from fyeahtattoos.  This tumblr has gorgeous tattoos, but not-so-pretty language, so fair warning.

I'm really obsessed with this Hungarian folk art tattoo...
I could get this exact piece and be so happy.  
(Well, except for the fact that I'd stolen someone else's tattoo.)

There is a French artist named Lea Nanon and her website is full of beautiful paintings, sketches, and tattoos.  (And of course, it's all in french so it's that much cooler.)  She does these insane line drawn portraits... 

I'm a really big fan of this Salvador Dali inspired piece by Todd Wilson at Icon Tattoo.  A girl at work has the same drawing and it's as gorgeous in real life as it is here.

This is the piece it's based off of - Les Elephants

I've got the ideas for my next tattoo brewing and percolating... I don't think it'll be as big and dramatic as any of these, but it'll be genius... obviously.

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