Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bronze Radio Return

I've turned a number of my friends onto a band called Bronze Radio Return, and if you haven't heard of them yet, you are going to now. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

BRR hails from Connecticut, and they have a brilliant style of music that is incredibly easy to start dancing to. Classified as indie rock, they are quite reminiscent of Mumford & Sons. The lyrics are crafty and sapient, and the melodies are simply delightful. They have a great span of really happy songs to some with more sentimental messages and serious tones.

This is the first song of theirs I heard was "Shake, Shake, Shake". I absolutely adore this song and the music video as well. Listen right now.

"Shake, shake, shake, the only mistake is if you stand still…"

A few of my other favorites (click them!): "Down There", "Everything Moves", "Sell It to You", "Melting in My Icebox", "Worth Wondering", and "World Spin, Home Spun". I won't lie to you though, every album of theirs that I've listened to I've loved, I could've just written the track listings in their entirety.

After I became thoroughly hooked, I did a search to see if they were touring. Knowing they were based on the east coast I was ecstatic to find that they had a tour going and would be hitting the west coast (best coast!) in October. Not only this, but they were going to be playing a small venue in Eugene, Oregon of all places! 

Last night, they rocked one of the best small venues I've been to, Cozmic Pizza, with their opening band Graham Colton. I am always a little worried that a band I love will end up only sounding good recorded, but honey, this is not the case with BRR. I had such a blast at the concert. The energy they put into their craft is remarkable and it is one of the best shows I've been to. They were energized and they looked like they had so much fun; it was impossible to listen without, at the very least, tapping your feet. 

I collect LPs and was thrilled to see that their new album, Up, On & Over, was available on vinyl. After the show I got this and their 2011 CD Shake! Shake! Shake! Being the slightest bit starstruck, my friend had to prod me to stop being a wuss and go meet them. I got to talk with them, tell them to stop messing around in Eugene and get to Corvallis, and their autographs now adorn one of my most prized LPs. 


Trust me folks, if these guys come to a town near you, go see them! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Naked Face

When I was in middle school, I was into drama.

Not like, "Oh my god, did you see Linda with Adam? They were *gasp* talking to each other. He's mine! I'm gonna go cry for the rest of the year."

No, not like that. Like musical theater.

Pinocchio, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast... Godspell... *shudders*

Participating in these dramatic productions taught me a lot, although the self-confidence lesson I think they were designed for never really took root until college. For all of you non-thespians, you can't always tell from the seats in the theater, but stage makeup is horrifying. It's a full two shades darker than your actual skin, full bright cheeks are encouraged, and there's enough hairspray on you to light a small boat on fire.

While this is all fine and dandy when the only people looking at you are on stage wearing the same thing or are at a distance in a very dark room (a very dark room) it is not, by any means, a good introduction to makeup for a young girl.

Big pile of nope right there. 

I was always sort of a tomboy growing up. Partially because I lived in the woods and had the most boss play fort and obstacle course ever (tightropes, trapeze, zip line, fireman pole, five-story-tall swings from trees, etc...), but also because whenever my parents doted some kind of girly toy to me, namely Barbies, I would massacre them. It is a little disturbing, but I can't hide it anymore. I was a Barbie-murder. There. I said it!

I like to think it was me trying to break the paradigm of the female gender role, but I can't be sure if those were my intentions at six years old. Don't worry, I'm not displaying antisocial behavior, it was just Barbies. Other dolls were safe, and I always loved stuffed animals and actually cut all their tags off because I thought the tags hurt them.

Anyway, being more interested in making roads for my hotwheels in the sandbox didn't leave a lot of time to be experimenting with makeup. Especially because these huge floods kept washing all the bridges out. Rebuilding was quite time consuming. I only found out recently that this sandbox was full of rough sand designed for mixing with concrete. Whatevs dad, it's cool.

This, in tandem with the drama, could've made for the perfect marriage of poor artistic skills displayed on the canvas that was my face. This would've been very bad indeed, because looking back on my pictures from these years, the ones I haven't destroyed, I'm surprised anyone talked to me at all. But that, my children, is for another post... you might have to take me out to dinner first…

Ultimately, my lack of interest in makeup and other beauty products extended all the way through high school and now into college. I did eventually learn some of the ways of this subtle feminine mystique for school dances and formal functions, but I have never been one to be an every day applier. This video by my favorite truth-teller, Jenna Marbles, pretty aptly describes what can be inferred from my makeup about me.

Once I was talking with one of my male roommates. I mentioned that I am far too lazy to apply makeup every day. And do you know what he said? He said he couldn't tell.

What the what!?

More surprisingly, for how much of a visual society we are (the makeup industry is 50 billion dollar industry in the US) I have not felt any hinderance in my social life because I don't wear makeup. I don't think a lot of people can tell one way or the other, they only notice if you go from wearing it every day to suddenly not, and vice versa.

Like I said, I'm never focused enough for that business in the morning. I don't really do much with my hair either. If it's washed, it's good. If it's brushed, then some real adult shit is going on. I refuse to wake up two hours early to apply mystery chemical pigments to my face, it's just not that important to me in the long run. I have to use that time to tend to my garden and feed all of my animals.

Also, I don't want to display too many false pretenses; I'm already wearing contacts and have had my teeth ratcheted into a more appealing conformation. I don't want to be dating someone, wearing makeup the whole time, and then skip a day and scare the bajeebers out of him with my naked face. That would be unpleasant for everyone involved.

Every once in a while, I do apply some mascara (a very tame shade of brown). This is just a mental confidence boost I need on some rainy days here in Oregon. Like, what up, I've got lashes today; I'm ready to take on the world.

I understand why a lot of people apply makeup and it can certainly be fun to experiment with. But, honestly, when it comes down to it, it's just one less thing for me to worry about every day.
Is my eye-liner too heavy? Nah.
Did I smear my mascara? Nope.
Do I have lipstick on my teeth? Never.

It's liberating.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Hot Mess 21st Birthday Cake

My best friend, and roommate, just turned 21.

This is a big birthday for any young adult. Mostly due arbitrary age-restrictions about the consumption of our little friend alcohol.

Now, my roommate was a little bit in denial, and kept trying to tell me that her birthday was in June, or was it November? It's definitely like eight months away... I only questioned myself long enough to fail to order her present on time, but I finally reassured myself it was the 6th. So when she was leaving to visit with her mom on her birthday morning, I got one of these faces...

As soon as she walked out the door, I got my coffee and then got to work. I really enjoy birthdays, especially making things for people when they don't really expect it. However, she did sort of expect something because I baked the cake the night before so it would be cool the next morning; nothing is more frustrating than trying to put frosting on a hot cake.

Now, I didn't come up with this idea completely on my own, but this one is my design. It really is an incredibly fun cake to make.

Materials, in the weird morning light

What I actually used from the picture:
Baked and frosted cake (I used Devil's food with vanilla icing)
Assorted sprinkles (if you get funfetti icing it comes with sprinkles!)
Decorating goo for writing
Some slutty Barbie (which is basically any Barbie...)
Package re-lighting candles (19 candles)
Numbers 2 and 1 candles
Tiny bottle of Advil
Tiny bottles of alcohol (tequila)
Saran wrap

(I was going to put some of those tiny toothbrushes on there (part of the hangover kit), but they weren't very aesthetically pleasing and were a little further off topic than I wanted. I also thought about having a few red hots near the Advil, like they spilled, but decided against it.)

On another note, it was weird to be 20 years old out shopping for a Barbie, I not gonna lie. I felt like a little kid.
This Barbie was our lucky winner.

She was bound for better things than her peers. 
Okay, maybe not better... but different... much different.

So, have your cake baked and frosted evenly. I recommend using a larger cake pan (around 9x13). I assume you can bake a boxed cake and put pre-made frosting on it.

Boom. Like a boss.

Get a piece of plastic wrap that will cover about 1/2 of the cake and put it on the side you want the Barbie on. Sanitation is key, because no one wants to eat Barbie-flavored cake with pieces of plastic hair on it. I took the time to do a sloppy French braid with mine's hair; I was worried about the re-lighting candles sparking and setting the whole thing on fire. The candles did end up smoking a lot we had to open some windows, and only three of the re-lighting ones actually did anything, but whatevs.

All the decorating is up to you and is as simple as you want it to be. Here's what I did...

Arrange the Barbie on the cake in a fall-down-drunk manner. It's your art piece, so have fun with arranging the bottles around her. I had her snuggling with one of the bottles, with her leg propped up on another and her other arm around the bottle of Advil. Note, her glasses are askew as well. Lots of thought went into this, what can I say?

Then place the "2" and "1" candles in the opposite upper corner. Write your message on the cake with the goo of your choice, I went for a girly theme and chose pink.

Poke the candles into the cake, keep the re-lighting ones further away from the Barbie. I used a mix of re-lighting and regular candles, with a total candle count of 21.

Finally toss the sprinkles on around the cake. It doesn't have to look perfect, it's supposed to be kinda ugly, it is a hot mess after all. I also frosted one of her hands and her feet and threw on some sprinkles as well.

It says something to the effect of: "Happy birthday you hot mess! Woooo!"

Yes, I'm aware it does look like she's waiting for GI Joe. 
She's Barbie; she's not modest...

Sprinkles everywhere, on her feet and in her hair.

It is very difficult to write legibly for me at all, let alone with goo. 

One of my roommates partnered in crime and hid the cake in his room. The only piece of evidence I failed to destroy properly was the frosting container that she saw in the trash, but she had no idea that there was any Barbies or tequila involved. Overall, I think the cake was fairly successful.

It helps that she was already buzzin'. The birthday girl's drink of choice?
Champagne and strawberries, because she's classy.

*Ooh pretty...*

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hit Me with Music

I was raised in a house that was never silent. First thing in the morning one of my parents would tune the house to mellow jazz, we'd tune in and out of different stations throughout the day, and at night our stereo would be put on a timer and I would fall asleep to Lights Out on 101.9 Kink FM.

I didn't realize this until my sophomore year in college when my roommates mentioned that I was always playing music. When I tried to stop, I actually became slightly anxious and the silence of the house was deafening. Needless to say, I am quite attached to audio.

So the music plays on in my life, because:
"One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain." ~ Bob Marley

During one visit home I mentioned that my iPod didn't have enough space on it (first world problems, right?), and my parents were shocked.
"How much music do you need?"

More than 2,000 songs, guys, come on. I listen to nearly everything.

Incredulous, they proceded to grill me about my music preferences, and kept bringing up "back in the day" and these things called "eight-tracks". They started resorting to some pretty odd scenarios trying to get me to narrow it down to my absolute favorites.

"If you were abducted by aliens, forced to live on a planet where you could live comfortably but could only take seven albums with you, what would they be?"

Oddly specific... thanks.

This is like that time my sister and I asked our mom who she loved more.
And she said both of us.
And we asked, who would she save if she could only save one from falling off a cliff?
And she said both of us.
And we asked her, what if she only had one crumb to fend off starvation with?
And she said she'd split the crumb between both of us.

How diplomatic, Mom... if that even is your real name!

Anyway, when I say I listen to nearly every genre of music, I mean it.
I love country.
One of my most played LPs is Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
I have eight hours of Bob Marley and eleven hours of Jimmy Buffett on my computer.
I have 50 pieces by Macklemore* (and associates).
And The Killers, Mike Posner, Kid Cudi, Mumford & Sons, Dragonette, Eric Hutchinson, and Gorillaz are just a few to adorn the list of my most played tracks.

Unfortunately, because I love most forms of music, I do get a little offended when people  say they hate a genre. This is such a generalized statement, it's highly unlikely that it's 100% true. I've found it's most often applied to country music. To which I usually reply, "Have you listened to all the country music?" How can you say you hate something if you don't know all it has to offer. A huge diversity can be found just from a handful of artists like Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, Josh Abbott, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, Patsy Cline, Alan Jackson, Emmylou Harris, Eli Young, and Carrie Underwood.

If you can listen to a few songs by each of those musicians, and you still hate country... well... I don't know if we can be friends.

No really, you know what? Please leave.

Just kidding.

You can stay.

But seriously. I don't even hate all the people who "hate" a genre of music. Sure, I don't understand them and think they might be a little narrow-minded, but I can get around that.

While I enjoy the melodic components of songs, I find myself being especially drawn to the lyrics. If you find yourself in the same boat, welcome, there are piña coladas in the galley. You should most definitely listen to "The Borderlands" by Caswell Carnahan. If you are able to find it somewhere in the Interweb, don't multitask, just close your eyes and appreciate the art. Honestly, the first time I listened to it I cried. It is nearly impossible to find the entire song online, but the lyrics are here.

College life isn't all rainbows and butterflies; winter term can get pretty real. My secret? Anti-depressants in the form of songs. Listening to happy music primes to me have a better day. That's fact.

Being female, heading this playlist is Joni Mitchell's "You Turn Me On I'm a Radio". The protagonist of this song is so strong and she knows. Knows what exactly? She just knows; she's got love and life confidently all figured out, and it gives me hope that I will too someday.

From my eclectic assortment, here are some other random groups I love. If you already listen to of all of them, let me know what date you're free so I can start planning our wedding. Ignore the weird videos or pictures that come up from the links to the songs, it is YouTube after all... people can make bad decisions on YouTube.

Bruce Cockburn
"Bone in My Ear"
It's pronounced "ko-burn". It really is a hauntingly beautiful song. 

Crash Test Dummies
"In the Days of the Caveman"
This guy's voice is unreal, almost makes me laugh it's so deep. 

Dirty Heads
"Lay Me Down"
This one got a lot of radio time, but I still love it and the group's vibe. 

Vampire Weekend
Love their bubbly style, it's carefree and very unique. 

Venus Hum
"Bella Luna"
Her voice is amazing, so pure, achingly sad. 

"Red Red Wine"
I don't usually like remakes, but this one is good. 

Pink Martini
"U Plavu Zoru"
The instruments tell the story, magically, partially because I don't understand Croatian. 

Moondog Matinee
"Sweet Heroine"
A roommate turned me onto this group; I'm surprised they're not more well known. 

"Not Too Fast"
From spring break in Hawaii, this song is upbeat and always gives me a smile. 

Sol (feat. Ray Dalton)
"Need Your Love"
A good friend told me to check this guy out; it's worth your time. 

For a while, my answer to my parents' extraterrestrial situation was that I would rather take no music than miss out on any of it. I maintained that I would be driven crazy if I couldn't listen to, or at least have the option to listen to, any of my number of favorite bands. It would be like losing one of my senses. I still feel this is a valid route, but things change.

While I thoroughly enjoy all of the preceding groups, if I really was abducted by aliens, and it was inexplicably in their M.O. to let me peruse the world's supply of music for the arbitrary number of seven albums, I have a different selection of records that I would listen to for the rest of my life.

After much deliberation (power points were made, charts created, and many tearful sleepless nights endured), I have narrowed my choices down to just seven albums. Just like, if you really pressed me, I would be able to pick which sense to sacrifice (sight).

(Here is the format of my presentation... 
mostly because I didn't want to do homework.

Album by Artist
What genre iTunes calls it -- year released)

And the winners are:

Maroon by Barenaked Ladies
Alternative & Punk-- 2000

Shadow Man by Johnny Clegg* & Savuka
World -- 1988

Joshua Tree by U2*
Rock -- 1987

Exodus by Bob Marley & The Wailers
 Reggae -- 1977

Mescalito by Ryan Bingham
Country -- 2007

Barometer Soup by Jimmy Buffett
"Pop" -- 1995

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Rock -- 1977

I feel like I'm always drawn back to these seven. I don't get tired of them. It's a quality array of different genres, and each album has a variety of happy and sad songs. Maximum diversity achieved!

If you're stuck in a music rut, check some of these groups out. Music Map is a cool website for finding new musicians from ones you already listen to as well.

(*I am fortunate enough to have seen these asterisked artists in concert. They are all fantastic performers in completely separate ways. I always find it amazing what beauty we humans are capable of.)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Everybody Loves Eggs

Better than believing some random groundhog, I know spring is getting here early because my chickens are already laying in full swing again. I'm getting between three and four eggs a day from my little flock. While this is great, I love fresh eggs, I eat between zero and one eggs per day. Even those of you who don't like math can see there will be inevitably be a problem here. As I collected the eggs this morning, I exceeded a dozen in the fridge.

A couple other signs of spring:

 Crocus are going crazy. Bees are out. 

Indoor garlic is growing; I have the urge to put it in the ground...

Anyway, when I had six chickens and a dozen eggs every two days, I learned how to use eggs as fast as I could. It all boiled down to a single recipe.

The Double Cast Iron Quiche!

It uses up to nine eggs, and you can customize the shit out of it.
It's one of my staple recipes and it makes use of two of my cast iron pans.

1 1/3 cups flour (I used about 1/2 spelt, 1/2 white)
1 stick cold butter
1 egg yolk
Chilled water

About 1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small broccoli head
1/2 a large red bell pepper
1 green onion
1/2 medium yellow onion
Two big handfuls of spinach
4 cloves of garlic
Monterey Jack cheese
8 eggs (and the white of the egg from the crust)
Granulated garlic
Cayenne pepper
Old Bay seasoning

Put flour in a small mixing bowl. Cube butter and rub between fingers until the mix looks like sand. Carpal tunnel. Add the egg yolk and about three tablespoons of cold water. Mix until it's uniform and forms a ball. Knead this a couple times in the bowl. Make a ball and wrap with plastic wrap, let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Chop all the vegetables while the dough chills. I separated the onions and garlic so I can brown it first. Seriously though, it's a quiche. Put whatever you have in it. Tomatoes are great. Hence all the 1/2s of things in mine, they're all leftover vegetables. My only quiche I didn't like was when I used some purple cabbage, it turned the whole thing a very unappetizing blue color. I love zucchini in quiches, but I used all of them yesterday for zucchini bread (next recipe...?). Pancetta and bacon are great too, but I'm poor and I don't really miss them when they're not there.

When the time is up for the dough chillaxin', roll it out to about 1/4" thick, or thin enough to cover the whole pan you're using. While most people have pie pans that do the trick, I have been without one for years now. I've adapted to using one of my cast iron pans, the really old one with the slick bottom. It works so well, I'll never go back. Spray that puppy with some canola oil and you're golden, and you've got a handle.

Fancy fold the overhanging crust and stab it with a fork a bunch of times, because it looks pretty. Tee-hee!

Being a poor college student, I don't have any baking beans either. This method works great though- spray canola oil on aluminum foil and put that face down on the dough. Then pour a layer about 1/4" thick of uncooked rice on the foil.

Bake the crust at 350° F for about 10-15 minutes, then remove the foil (it's cool directly out of the oven, love) and bake another 10 minutes. The rice is fine to eat later, I just put it back in the jar and no one knows any different. Well, they didn't, until now...

My edges fall a little bit, so I use a fork and smush them up to the sides again.

While this browning, crisping, and deliciousnessing is happening in the oven, in another cast iron pan, brown the onions and garlic in olive oil with some fresh ground pepper.

Then add the broccoli and cook until it turns bright green. Add the bell peppers and pile on spinach (I added about a tablespoon of water to help wilt the spinach).

When the spinach has reduced itself nicely, remove from heat and forget it for now.

When the crust is done in the oven, take it out. Don't be dumb.

In a bowl, beat the eggs. I always add back the white from the egg used in the crust. Because, why not? Waste not! This recipe originally used six eggs, but I needed to get rid of more than that. It'll probably work with anywhere between six and nine in the filling.

I usually put about 1/4 of a cup of milk in with the eggs, but honestly, I forgot this time. It turned out fine, so apparently it doesn't really matter. Also we only have almond milk right now and that could've turned out really weird.

Add spices to your liking. Our house is full of garlic lovers, so I add granulated garlic (despite it already being with the veggies), salt, and Old Bay seasoning here. Cayenne pepper, more ground black pepper, whatever you want. Seriously dude.

Grate the cheese. How much? At least enough to lightly cover the surface of the pan you're baking in. More than that is great too.
I use Monterey Jack.
Cheddar is good.
A mix of both is best.
Mozzarella isn't bueno. (It gets weird and rubbery after you bake it. At least mine have.)

Turn the oven up to 425° F. Pile the veggies into the crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle cheese on top, then pour the eggs over everything.

Pop that back in the oven for about 20 minutes or so. My test is when the eggs stop jiggling then it's done. By then it's getting a nice brown to the top too, and the cheese makes some crunchy little bubbles of salty goodness.

That's it. Now the only hard part is waiting for it to cool down until you dig in. We don't. It's pulled out of the oven with knife in hand. There's only two roommates in the house right now and already a 1/4 of it is gone.

I've made this recipe before with no crust, it's fine. I prefer the crust though. You can make these in muffin tins too for personal quiches, just cut down on the baking times.

On another note:
To aid in recreating the perfect quiche, here's what my computer selected for me to listen to from my entire iTunes library. Shuffle can be a scary place, but this time it worked out really well. I went an hour and thirty minutes without skipping any songs, (sans a music video by James Blunt, thanks, but no thanks).

Quiche-ing Playlist:
There She Goes- The La's
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous- Good Charlotte
Andar Conmigo- Julietta Venegas
Swing Swing- All-American Rejects
It's Only Love (feat. Bryan Adams)- Tina Turner
Second Hand News- Fleetwood Mac
Lucille- B.B. King
The Other Night Blues- B.B. King
Here Comes the Night- Van Morrison
Tumbling Down- Paolo Nutini
King of the Road (feat. Randy Travis)- Josh Turner
Super Bass- Nicki Minaj
Acoustic Medley- Bob Marley
It's Got to Be Monday- Doug & The Slugs
Pain- Finger Eleven
Pursuit of Happiness (feat. MGMT & Ratatat)- Kid Cudi
No Signs of Life- OK Go
Forever Blue- Chris Isaak
Shake it Out- Florence + The Machine
Shock Box- Dragonette
Geek Gets the Girl- American Hi-Fi
Alma Latina (Latin Soul)(Main Theme)- Sergio Mendes

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Breaking the Shackles of the Face

If you're reading this, that's amazing, because I'm fairly certain that almost all the traffic on this blog is because of Facebook.

I kept saying that I was going to do it, and I finally did! I've officially deleted my FB account. (Okay, well deactivated, I looked for a while, but I'm pretty sure you can't actually delete your account, please tell me if I'm wrong.)
No more photo-sharing.
No more awkward friends that I've only met once or twice.
No more stalking people.

Cold turkey.

I've already reaped the benefits with less time spent mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed and more time directed toward achieving everyday tasks. I'm actually getting to my eight o'clock class five minutes earlier than usual now! I will probably have more ideas for blog posts too.

I haven't forgotten about the last poll I nagged you all (all eight of you) about participating in. I will do a college-y post soon, as soon as college-y things stop taking up all my time.

For example: while most people assume midterms get their name from being an exam in the middle of the term, I've been learning this is absolutely not the case. Most of my classes have two midterms and a final. Out of a 10 week term, it seems like midterms should be around weeks four and five, right? Well I've had at least one midterm  every week since week four. I'll finally be done with them week nine.

So in lieu of an actually interesting post, here are three exceptionally random pictures from my computer:
My jack-o-lantern a couple weeks post-Halloween. 

Tree freshly hatched ducklings. 

From the hike with my dad around Mt. Hood.