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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Want It Wednesdays: Stars and Stripes Forever

Photos courtesy Biggs and Powell Interior Design and Antiques, Thomas Hayes Gallery, 1stdibs and Beach Dwelling

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Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28th, 2010: If Life is a Salad Bar, Am I Anywhere Near the Croutons?

For several months, going on almost a year, I have been traveling through my days with a combination of afflictions namely, brooding moods, failing eyesight, and a body so out of shape it would make Jesus weep.  I suppose the conventional term for such afflictions would be "aging," but to be honest, I'm truly uncomfortable with that term, it's not my favorite, so I'm not using it.  In fact, I'm not a huge fan of the whole concept of it at all.  Growing older was not something I ever spent much time thinking about.  I figured I would cross that bridge when it appeared and would do so in an elegant poised manner.  But providence and reality have interfered with my plans, which is why Monday's on the blog are designated for a weekly post called "If Life is a Salad Bar, Am I Anywhere Near The Croutons?"  It's a journal entry of sorts - kind of like an open invitation to "The Land of Too Much Information" mixed in with a lot of "so that happened and that's why I am the way I am."

Today's journal entry has to do with my experiences over the past year and how they have left me taxed and decidedly suspicious of the joys of growing older.  Like anyone who has walked this path through "The Valley of The Shadow of Distress," I have reluctantly accepted a few truths: that every year carries sequestered beneath its surface, the makings of a more wisdom-filled understanding of the world and its workings accompanied by an extra special emphasis on regret, anxiety and isolation.  I'm figuring right about now you're probably thinking to yourselves:  (A)  There are drugs for that sister! and/or (B) Should someone be on "suicide alert?"  And to that I answer (A) Yes, I know, I have a Psychopharmacologist on call. And (B) No, on the "suicide alert" I'm just flexing few of my more finely honed skills - those being melodrama (think Scarlett O'hara) and over-thinking (see Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) with a extra helpings of self absorption just for fun-zees! 

Growing older was never something I doubted that I would do, I just thought I would proceed in a more elegant manner with a great deal more grace.  So, to help me find my voice in this aging deal I have decided to vastly narrow my scope of examples.  Instead of looking to magazines, doctors, psychopharmacologists, and others, I have decided to derive inspiration and strength through exactly twenty-one people.  I won't be so precise as to give the names of these people but I will say that these twenty-one folks constitute a critically important circle of relatives, friends, and such that have helped form who I am. Over many years, tons salad bars, dinners, oceans of Diet Dr. Pepper, and a little bit-o-booze, I have sat with these wonderful creatures and have questioned aloud life and its hardships and rewards.  The collective presence of these extraordinary women, men, and children have influenced my life enormously and I am eternally grateful. My days have been quieted, comforted and my knowledge expanded, simply by their existence.

They range in age from their mid-teens to their early centenarian years.  One of them happens to be my mother; another my late grandmother.  One is my daughter; another my son and yet another my husband.  Ten are mothers; four are fathers.  One is my newest friend; four of them are my oldest friends.  One of them is an old boyfriend - with whom, after twenty years of no contact, I have reconnected with as old friends.  Two of them are my aunts; one is my uncle; another my grandfather.  Three of them are my siblings; another my niece; one I've never actually met.  Five are no longer living; and the rest alive and well.  One was born in Syria; the others in America.  All of them have genius-level senses of humor and wit.  Heartbreaking loss has been experienced by all of them.  Some have some sort of relationship with a divine being; some are devout; some I suspect are completely uninterested in the subject.  Six of them are teachers; eight of them are writers; one a mechanic; one a nurse; another a coach, one an attorney; there is an accountant, a few editors, a designer, a couple of entrepreneurs; a pianist; a guitar player; a singer.  My life is rich, informed, secure, and full of love and support because of these people and their influence has given me and, if you pardon the obvious reference, a Life Less Ordinary.

I'll continue next Monday . . . see you then!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Girl Friday: Vintage Airstream Porn

I figured I would kick off the weekend with a little of what I like to call "Vintage Airstream porn."

As I've mentioned before, when I was a little girl, my younger sister and I called Airstream trailers "baked potatoes" because of their obvious resemblance to how a russet potato looks when wrapped in foil before being placed in the oven for baking.  As an adult I have an inexplicable need to own an Airstream and fix it up with some quirky, fun paint and upholstery and stuff. I periodically just put the word "Airstream" or "vintage Airstream" into Google and see what comes up. Just last week I came across some great inspiration via the marvelous blog Green Wedding Shoes.

Vintage Airstreams create instant nostalgia wherever they are, so it only seems a natural choice for intimate events like weddings, girls night out gatherings, etc.  I'm thinkin' they could also be perfect for a bridal shower or rehearsal dinner. One I came across that could easily add a unique flare to your festivities is a piece of cake - literally!  Cupcakes to be precise from cupcake entrepreneurs Amber Joy Vander Vilet and Kevin Vander Vilet.  Known for their inventive flavors with nods to California's wine country like:  Vanilla Mascarpone Chardonnay, Caramel Pinot, Cherry Apple Chardonnay, Tangerine Mint Mimosa, and Cherry Vanilla Merlot.  Their business is Enjoy Cupcakes.  Can't you just imagine your guests' delight in being served those yummy treats out of an adorable restored vintage Shasta trailer, no less.  The marvelous photos above and below are courtesy of Jose Villa.

How fun would it be if you had a vintage airstream come and serve as your bar?  Well, one such place, based in Portland, Oregon called the Tin Cantina, offers their airstream for private parties and does just that.  I'm having another "wish-I-would-have-thought-of-that" moments!  What a marvelous idea - love it!  The photos below are courtesy of Blue Window Creative.

Another concept crafted by two New Jersey brothers, Walter and Patrick Hessert, is not of the goodies or drink persuasion but is just as creative.  They  are embarking on The ULTIMATE American Road Trip. They have named it The Million Dollar Road Trip and it launches on July 4, 2010 from somewhere in the Midwest.  Over the course of one year, they are going to drive over 40,000 miles. Along the way they will visit 48 states and 50 of the largest cities in the USA. Their route is planned around notable events that we will attend. Among those are the Milwaukee Summer Fest, Burning Man Festival, Sundance Film Festival, TED Conference, and the New Orleans Jazz Fest, to name just a few.  You can follow their travels and discoveries on Facebook and Twitter.

This is more than just a road trip, however.  The brothers are selling advertising space on the exterior of their Airstream. These advertisers will be promoted through their Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere on the web. Check details here.

They will be chronicling American small business along the way through their blog. Their feeling is that an entrepreneurial spirit and people who are committed to doing what they love is alive and strong in American, and they want to showcase it and award Inspiration Grants to young Americans who are pursuing their passions. Every two weeks, with their fans’ help, they will choose a young American who has inspired them. The winner will be profiled on their site and will receive a cash grant.  Bravo you two - and safe travels!  The photo above is courtesy The Million Dollar Road Trip.

Here in Austin it is kind of amazing the number of businesses run out of vintage Airstreams. So, I figured I could check 'em out and report back with a post or twelve on local Airstream and trailer businesses in Austin.  But, until then, you can read a few more "airstream porn" posts I have made here and here.

Have a marvelous weekend and I'll see you next week!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Want It Wednesdays: Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil

Photos courtesy Jayson Home & Garden, 1stdibs, Swank Lighting and Home Deco Direct

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Silver City Wide Garage Sale

I don't have frost bite or Raynaud's syndrome, though my finger tips are black, which blows that theory - I always thought I would have to be suffering from some awful disease that restricted my blood flow before my fingers turned gray, then black, and then fell off.  I figured there was some kind of circulatory protocol when it came to digits and their human owners.  Surely they don't, like bananas, just get black spots, then get all squishy and have to be thrown out, do they?  Don't doctors frown upon any extremities being any other color than your own personal flavor of flesh-tone?

I'm wondering all of this because da Hubbs and I are sporting sooty fingerprints like we have just gotten booked down at the police station or something.  Actually, there is a reasonable explanation and it has to do with some really tarnished silver, a Herculean exhibition of upper arm strength, and several hours of buffing. 

After Lynn Goldfinger-Abram's Thingy Thursday profiling her collections, I was hyper-aware of anything silver as I was out thrifting on a recent Sunday afternoon with the family.  We were at my favorite thrift store when I spied a silver creamer stashed on a lower shelf.  As I bent down, I discovered that it was not one creamer but several along with a footed compote, "eleven-ty-six" silver coffee pots, and a wicker basket full of silver-plated flatware.  I shrieked to da Hubbs, "Get a basket and hurry up about it!!!"

I was absolutely unprepared for the amount of work polishing these pieces would be, which is sadly on par with my preparation for all things in general, but, they look marvelous now and I'd love to show them off.  And (insert shameless plug) if you have a yearning to own one of these beauties, I will have them listed on my Etsy site next week and will have them displayed and for sale in my booth at City Wide Garage Sale this weekend.

I hope to see you tomorrow City Wide.  I've been preparing other goodies for this weekend's (June 19th and 20th) City Wide Garage Sale at Palmer Events Center here in Austin. My booth is #221 near the red skirted info desk. There is a $7 charge to park in the garage or there is a free parking lot at One Texas Center on the Southwest corner of So. First and Barton Springs, as well.

Saturday morning between 8:30am - 10am, City Wide offers early shopper passes for $10 each.  This allows those who so choose to have early access to the show and get first dibs on vendors' merchandise before the general admission customers enter at 10am.

I hope you get a chance to come and see me, cuz I have some really marvelous goodies this show!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Want It Wednesdays: Amarillo by Morning (Get it? It's Spanish for yellow!)

Photos courtesy Sultan Chic,, Brunelli Designs, 1stdibs and Converse

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Julia Nunes: Charisma and Talent To The Nth Degree

When I was in third grade I used to fantasize about being a rock star, preferably one that everyone thought was uber-talented and was kind of a musical sensation of some kind - think The Beatles.  I don't know what that says about me but there it is. I figured that the ultimate proof of success would be to have mobs of teenagers in tears, screaming and yelling and chasing after me like my voice had made them lose their minds or something.  I based this desire on about 650 gazillion re-run episodes of The Monkees, a sit-com fashioned around a Beatles-like band from the late sixties I watched in which exactly that happened.  One or all of the band members were always being chased by rabid fans - especially Davy Jones, he was the cute English one that I still have a crush on to this day.

So, I would practice.  Rehearsal entailed placing an album that contained a lot of Saturday morning cartoon music on it (one of the only records my little sister and I owned) on to our little blue record player.  I would then carefully place the needle on the theme song to another series produced in the late sixties called H.R. Pufnstuf that aired every Saturday morning on NBC.  The show was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft and the theme song was sung by The Murmers entitled, appropriately enough, H.R. Pufnstuf .  I would take my position on stage (my twin bed) and face the audience (the full length mirror on the back of my bedroom door) and mostly just flail my arms and legs furiously while lip sinking into my goldfish's bottle of fish flakes that served as my microphone.  And, if that doesn't provoke the "boy-that-is-the-saddest-thing-I-think-I-have-ever-heard" response in you then, well . . . rehearsal starts at 4 p.m. today - bring your own fish food!

And as usual, I told you that story to tell you this story of a young woman who has actually made it out of her bedroom onto a stage and has an album you can buy and everything!  Her name is Julia Nunes and she is a ukulele and guitar playing singer/songwriter from upstate New York.  The 1980s icon, actress Molly Ringwald, who took up the ukulele recently, famously said on "Good Morning America" about Julia, "I've always wanted to play the ukulele, and she completely inspired me."  Piano rocker Ben Folds found one of Julia's YouTube covers and asked her to open four shows for him in May 2008, and she duetted on stage with him in April 2009.

Julia's appeal is clearly her genuine demeanor.  Her talent is mined with humor. Her songs have well crafted lyrics, marvelous melodies, and lots of insight. She is fond of covering songs from the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Nat King Cole to Say Anything, Motion City Soundtrack, and Spoon. And as I said earlier she writes her own stuff as well, and I'm of the opinion that her music kind of transcends a genre.  She is the child and grandchild of musicians.  Her background includes Portuguese fado music, jazz, and rock and roll. Her own musical journey began at the tender age of 7, when she started piano lessons, but didn't really take off until she was given a guitar in her early teens. Her first song was written at 14. Her first CD of original songs, which unfortunately is no longer available, was released when she was 17. The second CD, "Left Right Wrong", the title of which reflects Julia's difficulties with direction, was released at 18. Her third, "I Wrote These" followed a year later. Her most recent collection of original songs is a CD entitled, "I Think You Know."

I was charmed by her talent and charisma, and I have feeling you will be too.  You'll find more on Julia and her goings-on at her website, her YouTube channel, and her Facebook fan page.

Julia will return to Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN this Thursday, June 10th and again on Sunday, June 13th, and plays tonight in Indianapolis at Radio Head on East Prospect St., doors open at 8 p.m.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

If Life Is a Salad Bar, Am I Anywhere Near The Croutons?

Hello everyone - It is good to be back after a couple weeks off.  I feel all revived and junk and have lots to share with you in this coming week. But before I get started on all of that, I need us to go to a salad bar and talk about our feelings. Have I lost you?  Let me explain . . . .

My little sister, Pauli, and I used to call each other up when we where in college and say, "I need a salad bar."  This was little-sister-big-sister-code for I have a crisis and I need to talk about it over a salad (her) and a pizza and a beer or twelve (me).

A "Salad Bar" didn't always have to indicate trauma, sometimes it just meant our psyches were searching for truths, authenticity, or meaning.  We would use this time to talk about dreams and goals or regrets and dissatisfaction with our lives as college students and young adults who were kinda-sorta out on our own making our way in the world.

All this introspective junk is probably the result of one of three things.  The first being that I celebrated my 45th birthday yesterday, secondly that I have stopped taking my "happy pills," which, I'm sure, is glaringly apparent to you already and thirdly, I have made some new friends - Peri and his little sister, Mena . . . . Last name Pause.  Without going into detail, this past year has been as wonderful and uplifting as it has been awful and stressful.  Most people emerge from stressful times wiser and full of appreciation for what they have.  I, unfortunately, have emerged pretty much just pissed-off and looking for someone to blame.

I, of course, am the only one responsible, which has lead me to make a survey of my life.  Through all the "woulda-coulda-shouldas" I realized that maybe I'm not alone in the feeling, as though I've missed the mark somehow or have failed to do something I am so sure I was supposed to have done.  So, on my birthday, I found myself asking, "Where did I go wrong?"  "What is this life I find myself living - and why is so different from what I thought it would be?"  And ultimately - "What can I do to make it more like the life I imagined as a child and a young adult?"

Please, don't get me wrong, I have a life that has been and is filled with so many riches and so much grace.  I just can't help but feel that while I have dutifully served my life's routines, I have also suppressed a lot of what makes me, me.  What I'm trying to convey, and probably not very successfully, is that I feel very one-sided, if you know what I mean.  Frankly, I think a lot of these thoughts have come about because I'm writing a memoir about a few years in my childhood called Juanita Steve.  Through this process of writing I have discovered how whole and full of potential I was as a child.  Unfortunately, through the years of maturation, I have become so fractured and have developed quite an ego. Just yesterday I found a comic strip of Calvin and Hobbes that I had clipped from the newspaper years ago that I kept on my desk at work to remind me to keep an eye on just such a development.  The first frame is the school bully telling Calvin that was going to pound him in gym class.  The second frame is Calvin bowing up and yelling out to the long gone bully that, "Oh yeah?? I'd like to see you try it!!"  The third frame is Calvin looking all wide-eyed and slapping his hands over his mouth.  The final frame shows Calvin with is eyes closed tightly and fists clenched to his side thinking to himself - "My brain wishes my ego had call-waiting."  All I can say is, "I feel ya' Calvin, been there got the t-shirt!"

So, I'm fairly sure I lost most of you back at "Hello" but, just in case I wanted to pose some questions to you that I have given myself the task of answering in a weekly Monday post called "If Life is a Salad Bar, Am I Anywhere Near The Croutons?"  It will be a journal entry of sorts - kind of like an open invitation to "The Land of Too Much Information" mixed in with a lot of "so that happened and that's why I am the way I am."  So, over the next several weeks I will attempt to answer the following questions for myself and if you are up for it maybe you could even share a crouton or two.

So, here are the questions I'll be addressing:

•   What title would I give my life story?

•   Have I had crossroads or turning points in my life?

•  Have I had major disappointments and or losses in my life?

•  Have I been a good friend?

•  Is there balance in my attention to others and myself?

•  What talents or abilities have I squandered?

See ya tomorrow with some marvelous goodies I discovered during my time off!

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Be Back Next Week

Need to recharge and take a break.
But, I'll be back next week!