Monday, January 11, 2016

Death of a Legend

I woke up this morning to a number of emails, texts, and messages.

"Don't read the news," said one.  "Just go back to sleep."

"I'm so sorry," said another. "Are you okay?"

People I haven't spoken to in over ten years started reaching out to me.  Old friends, former co-workers.  Everyone, it seemed, saw the news and thought of me.

About four years ago, I wrote Bowie my first and only fan letter.  I didn't wax poetic or gush, I simply "dropped him a line" as if we were old friends.  I wished him and his family well.  I left out the fact that my cat was named Major Tom and that I often used the handle LadyGrinningS0ul online.  He didn't need to know any of that.

I'm struck now by the same feelings I had when I sat down to compose that letter.  What does one say to a legend? What does one say about a legend? Bowie was all I listened to for years. I had a Bowie shirt for every day of the week, I saw him in concert three times... and it would have been four, if my first car hadn't broken down.  Somehow, I always thought I'd get the chance to meet him.  Just for a second.

I saw him smoking a cigarette after a concert, once.  He snuck out a back door and was huddled by the side of the building, sans bodyguard, sans entourage. I was 100 feet away, just me, Meghan, and a random fan who had been searching for him.  The fan screamed his name at the top of her lungs.

I shushed her.

Because what do you SAY to a legend? What is the point of screaming his name from 100 feet away? The man just finished a concert - let him smoke his cigarette in peace.

That's the closest I got to meeting him.

And last night, during the New Moon, when the other stars are most visible in the sky... our Starman was gone.  Just like that.  Leaving behind more connections and memories than I could possibly begin to explain.

David sometimes ventured online, going by the name "sailor" in some forums.  So it was appropriate that this popped into my head after hearing the news:

Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hill.  
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, January 9, 2016

15 things I did in 2015...

15 Things I did in 2015:

1. Finally (with the help of a truly great doctor) figured out what was going on with my health.  Went on medication, and I have been gallbladder-attack free ever since! This man basically gave me my life back, and I am forever grateful.
2. Continued with the writing group! We've grown in number this year, been featured in the local newspaper, and we're beginning 2016 with big plans - we're putting together our first anthology!
3. Got my Masters Degree!
4. Got laid off (sad) and started freelancing (happy?) Not exactly what I had in mind for 2015...
5. Recorded a song
6. Sang Skinnamarink with Sharon and Bram (still waiting on the video of this momentous occasion...!) and got to catch up with Patti, Laura, and the rest of the SLB crew.
7. Met Judy Blume and Carroll Spinney!

8. Performed in Rocky Horror as Magenta twice - once for a reunion show, and once at PiCon!
9. Attended the Juniper Institute, thanks in part to my mom and a lot of supportive friends.
10. Completed some major novel revisions
11. Started writing for The Sparrows blog
12. Began working in education for the first time - if you don't count children's television
13. Finally got my passport (a trip to the Bahamas is happening next month!)
14. Went to NYC quite a bit! Saw Gentleman's Guide, and Hedwig... and maybe some other shows I'm forgetting?
15. Started a business with Sara (more on that later!)

Getting laid off certainly threw a monkey wrench into the works, but I think I still managed to have an okay year, even if some of it was stupidly stressful and my current bank balance is less than ideal. (Did you know paraeducators don't get paid over winter break? I didn't...until I saw last week's paycheck, oops!)

Hopefully things will be looking up soon!  I'll be back shortly with 16 things I want to do in 2016, and a resolution round up.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Screw Perfection in the Kitchen with These Messy Meals

Here's another article I wrote recently for Three Little Sparrows, which includes some of the easiest go-to meals I know!


You’ve probably heard the saying before, “stop comparing your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.”  Well, it rings true in the kitchen, as well. We all chase perfection, and in this digital age, it’s all too easy to crop out a mess, apply a fancy filter, wipe out the dark circles under your eyes, and make your world look picturesque. And sure, it’s pretty; but is it honest?
A quick sweep of Pinterest or Instagram can instantly give a girl dinner envy—among countless other envies!—but the truth is, it’s okay to cook an unattractive meal. Since when did everything coming out of our kitchen need to be healthy, tasty, fast, easy, AND beautiful? That’s a lot to live up to! (Not to mention, no matter how closely I follow someone else’s recipe, mine never seems to turn out looking as cute!)
For example, here’s a photo from some Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos, found on Pinterest.. (Note the avocado in the background – there isn’t even any avocado used in this recipe!) :
Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos
Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos

And here’s my photo of the same recipe:
Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.27.21 PM
As you can see, my meal – although it was delicious – just didn’t stack up, aesthetically speaking.
Comparing photos gave me a giggle, but I wasn’t ashamed of that dinner. It was really good! (In fact, it ranks #1 in my house, and I make it often… although it hasn’t gotten any prettier. Try it for yourself.
So did my boyfriend wrinkle his nose at my less-than-picturesque tacquitos and complain about the presentation? Nope!
There is beauty in being honest and real, unabashedly yourself and unapologetic about it. No one is perfect, and this extends into the kitchen.  While there’s a time and a place for exquisitely presented food, let’s be serious – how much time do you spend appreciating the plating of your meal? Unless your interests sway toward the culinary to begin with, my guess is not much! I once asked my boyfriend to stop at the store and grab some parsley, because I needed it for dinner.  He came home with this huge bunch of parsley; I chopped up one leaf, and sprinkled it on our plates as garnish.
“Seriously?” He asked. “That’s all you needed that for?” If you’re ready to throw presentation to the wayside, I have four easy meals for you that taste great, whether or not they look pretty, because screw perfection in the kitchen!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Confused about contouring?

I was talking to a girl at work today (hi, Erica!) and she mentioned she had a blog.  I told her I did, too... and then immediately felt really guilty for somewhat abandoning my blog.

I know I need to get back into the swing of things, so I'll begin by sharing some blogs I've been writing for Three Little Sparrows.

Here's a peek at my most recent work, a newbie's guide to contouring:


Ah, contouring! It’s one of those subtle makeup techniques that looks great on celebs, but can be really intimidating to try yourself for the first time. I still remember the first time I attempted: armed with a bottle of Bare Minerals bronzing powder, I pulled up some YouTube tutorials and applied the powder just the way the girls on my screen did. But when I was finished, I wasn’t sure. Had I used enough powder? I couldn’t tell I had anything on. Was that the point? Had I blended too much? Maybe I wasn’t using the right brushes…
Contour newbie
Contour newbie
Over time, I experimented with different bronzer types and bronzer colors. Bare Minerals made me itch, another brand was too yellow-pigmented…NARS was pretty good, but I wanted one that also had a built-in highlighter…
Most recently, I’ve settled on the cream of the crop, Marc Jacobs. It does the trick, but sometimes I did wonder if I was putting this stuff on right.
Enter one of my besties, Sara Thompson. Sara is a makeup artist (she studied under Mario Dedivanovic, the legend who gave Kim Kardashian her signature sculpted look) and the gal I go to with all my beauty inquiries. She was all too happy to help, and showed up at my door with her makeup bag in tow, for a beginner’s guide to contouring.
Sara Tompson the beauty expert
My girl Sara Thompson, the beauty expert

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Oh, hey guys!

If you've been looking for me, let me catch you up on my life:

  • I graduate from grad school on Sunday!
  • I'm doing a lot of freelance work for multiple clients. 
  • I'm a contributing blogger over at Three Little Sparrows.  My first article was published last week, and there are lots more scheduled! 
  • Took my somewhat annual Florida family vacation
  • Saw Hedwig in NYC with Ivy

    All for now! I have a bunch of backlogged Stitch Fix and DailyLook entries, so I hope to be back to blogging somewhat regularly soon!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Bucket List Updates, NYC Edition!

A few months ago, Sara had a conference to go to in NYC so I tagged along.

I love going to NYC with Sara because she basically tells me she's up for whatever... which results in me being able to plan a bunch of fun stuff!

For this trip, I crossed two things off my bucket list.  First, we went to Serendipity 3 (the restaurant featured in the John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale movie Serendipity) and had the famous "frozen hot chocolate."

The frozen hot chocolate was good, but not amazing. It did have a distinct "hot chocolate" flavor to it. There were some other interesting flavors, but I wanted to stick to the famous flavor. If I go back, I'll definitely be more adventurous. 

Next, we went to The View Restaurant and Lounge.  I'd literally been trying to get into this place FOREVER, but it always happened to be on the other side of town at dinner time, or the reservation lady was rude and hung up on me. Whatever! Finally the stars aligned and I was able to use those crazy glass elevators (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment for sure, I was quoting it with the other people in our elevator) and eat at the spinning restaurant.

Even more amazing is the fact I didn't touch my phone FOR THE ENTIRE MEAL so I could record this video:


Pretty awesome, right? I thought so! I'd love to go up there on the 4th of July and see all the fireworks go off as we spin.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Less than thrilled by DailyLook Boxes so far!

A few months ago, I was checking out DailyLook (a service similar to Stitch Fix) and they were offering your first three boxes for free.  I figured it couldn't hurt to check them out, so I did.

These are photos from my second DailyLook box, which -- while admittedly better than my first -- still isn't quite right.
1. This body con dress was cute... but SO short, and the material was really uncomfortable. I never would have worn it.  (Another downside about DailyLook is they don't make it easy to figure out the brand you're trying on.)

2. This dress was cuuuuute and comfy, but holy BOOBS batman! The style was flattering around my stomach and hips, but that super low scoop neck wasn't made for anyone bigger than an A cup. Next!

3. I loved this dress... it was a beautiful color (the photo doesn't do the color justice) and the material was super soft. BUT, what on earth is up with the slits in the side? Am I Angelina Jolie at an award show? Also, I'm five foot eight, and I tried this dress on with heels... and it STILL dragged on the ground.  I really wanted to keep it, but it would have required so much tailoring.  At a price point of high $70s, I couldn't justify that purchase.  Too bad, I really loved the TOP of this dress!

4. I'm having non-buyers remorse with this one. My reasoning behind returning it was that it was SUPER short and I never would have felt comfortable in it... but, golly, it was cute.

Here is dress #2 tried on with a bra that has a built-in modesty panel.  I was hoping I could make the dress into something I could work with, but the modesty panel just made it all look silly.

Not pictured: A pair of jeans that were two sizes too small, and a purse, even though I'm fairly certain I requested no purses.

The pros: After giving feedback on my (colorless) first box, I really felt like my stylist listened to me regarding colors, as I love all these colors.  

The cons: I didn't feel like I could comfortably leave the house in any of these.

The verdict: I sent everything back. Womp, womp.