Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Want to Go to There: The Westing Game

Various covers for the Westing Game — At one time or another, I've read each version.
To say The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin was my favorite book growing up would be an understatement. From the first time I read it as part of a requirement for fourth grade, I was hooked. I have read it, more or less, every single year since then for an approximate total of 17 readings, the last of which began, and ended, yesterday.

I love a good mystery as much as the next person, but The Westing Game is so much more than a puzzle book. My nine-year-old nerdy self identified closely with the under-appreciated, brainy, 13-year-old Turtle, although unfortunately I was never given the chance to win a 200-million-dollar inheritance.

Although The Westing Game is technically classified as a young adult novel, I can tell you that this 27-year-old enjoyed it every bit as much as I did when I was closer in age to the target audience. This review makes a good point regarding technology (the book was written in 1979), but aside from a few points, it never really feels dated. 
1. Floral Prints  |  2. Patriotic Notebook  |  3. Witch Costume  |  4. Mickey Mouse Clock
5. Striped Candles  |  6. Chessboard  |  7. Red Rain Boots

For this edition of "I Want to Go to There," it wasn't difficult to pick out a few of the memorable items from the Newbery Award-winning novel. Decorate ala Grace Wexler with these framed floral prints (1), record the findings of your investigations in this patriotic notebook just like Sandy (2), don a witch costume along with Turtle (3), guard your Mickey Mouse alarm clock closely, especially around Madame Hoo (4), keep a striped candle around incase the power ever goes out — just keep them away from the pyrotechnics (5), play chess in style (6, but beware of the Queen's sacrifice) and keep your feet dry as you snoop under car hoods for a potential murder weapon (7).

The only thing I don't like about The Westing Game doesn't even concern the book — a horrible (don't even bother seeking it out) movie was made in the 90s and it was a complete disaster. I dreamed of seeing my beloved characters play out Westing's intricate game on the big screen, but was incredibly disappointed by the mess they made of such incredibly good source material. I can only hope that someone tries again one day, and if you're that person let me know — I have some ideas.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Finds

1. Ace Tote  |  2. Little Broken Hearts  |  3. Sun  |  4. Tazo Zen Green Tea  |  5. Honeycrisp Apples  
6. Gone Girl  |  7. Obama/Biden Merchandise

A few things I'm loving lately: I finally picked up this tote from the Ace Hotel the last time I was in New York. You can buy it online, but I opted to forgo the $12 shipping charge, knowing that I'd be back in the city soon enough. It's larger than it looks (or than I thought it looked) but it's working quite well as a laptop bag for my class.

Two of my very favorite artists, Norah Jones and Cat Power have put out new albums lately, and they don't disappoint. Favorite tracks are Killing Time and Out on the Road from Little Broken Hearts, and Manhattan and Nothin But Time from Sun.

Have you ever had Tazo Zen Green Tea? A coworker of mine purchased a box for the office and I promptly drank it all myself. It's a little bit spearminty, a little bit lemony and a whole lot of delicious. I put a teaspoon of honey in mine and it's terribly good.

I have religiously eaten at least one honeycrisp apple a day since we first found them at a flea market on Labor Day. I usually dip the slices in natural, chunky peanut butter but they are so good they need not be fussed with.

If you're one of the few people who haven't read (or even heard of) Gillian Flynn's thriller, Gone Girl, I won't ruin it for you. But I will say that it was a great read, and yes I agree with most everyone that  the ending lacked a certain something.

My Obama car magnet finally came yesterday, but after reading this NY Magazine article about Joe Biden, I'm currently coveting this coffee mug because I love a good cup, a good pun, and a good vice president who also happens to be a total bad ass.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Plush Pets

How amazing are these custom stuffed dogs? The Shelter Pups will make you an adorable plush version of your pet for only $125 — the only downside is that they don't do cats (yet). You can bet I'll be checking back next year to order one of Ms. Mozart.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jeremy Fish

Saw these posters on OMGPosters! and loved them (I mean, SNACKALOPE). Check out the rest of the series and more work from Jeremy (how great are the squished-in-a-box animals?) here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fab Sale Preview

This week I'll be busybusybusy (that's tres busy if you are keeping track) editing photos and gathering goodies to submit to Fab for another Blue Carrot sale. While the sale won't be live until the end of October, I'll be posting sneak peeks and updating the shop with new items that may not have made the Fab cut, but are still pretty neat, if I may say so myself.

PS: This weekend I finally sorted through the disaster area otherwise known as my Blue Carrot office, and I'm pretty pumped about what I found. If you'll remember I cleaned it out before my last Fab sale, so everything you see (or rather, can't see) here is new and ready to be sold to a good home.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cat Stevens aka Maxwell update

It's been an eventful week for Cat Stevens. After rescuing him from the parking lot on Tuesday, promptly discovering that keeping him as an office cat wasn't as possible as we hoped, and many a desperate plea for his adoption through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, he finally has a new home.

It didn't come as the result of any of the social networks, but rather from my persistence in bombarding my mom via text, with picture after cute picture of Mr. Stevens. She initially declined my offer of a free, mangy, feral kitten, but I knew I could wear her down. Ultimately her inner cat lady had seen enough, and she agreed to take him to the vet, and then back to her home to see how he would get along with her 1-year old Siamese, Sophie.

Their first meeting went wonderfully, and she was smitten (how could you not be, I mean, look at that face). He got through his vet visit like a champ, with a diagnosis of fleas, and a belly full of worms, both of which were contributing to his skin-and-bones appearance. He was too little, in fact, to get a feline leukemia test, and has to go back for that in a month. This means, of course, that he has to be kept in quarantine until then, so as not to potentially infect Miss Sophie. My mom was not thwarted by this setback, and set up her bedroom as a temporary home for Stevens.

I've been receiving daily reports from her as well as photos, which is quite fine by me. He's only been gone a few days, but I already miss that sweet little face. My mom reports that after an initial adjustment period, he is allowing her to pet and cuddle with him more and more, and she claims to already be in love. I couldn't be happier that he found a home (even if she is renaming him — yet again — Maxwell), especially one where I can continue to visit him.

I might have to get my mom an iPhone so that I can continue to FaceTime with the little dude.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cat Toy Jackpot

We're getting a new refrigerator and stove delivered today, and when we moved the old ones in preparation, we found a lot of fur balls, dust and EVERY CAT TOY WE EVER BOUGHT.

We've had Mozart for a little more than three years, and to say she loves playing with toys would be an understatement. She lives for toys. She cannot live without toys. We've noticed them disappearing, and we've occasionally rescued chickens and mice from under the couch, bookcase and ottoman.

But I certainly didn't expect to find 32 toys total (29 of which are pictured), four bottle caps and one jingle bell. We put them in a pile, and Mozart was simultaneously excited and overwhelmed to be reunited with her beloved stash. Notable finds include her amputee frog collection (top left) — within days of buying each one, she chewed off their arms and legs — and quite the extensive array of birds.

Oh and if you're keeping track, that's about $120 we've spent just in cat toys. Ummm. How long before they make their way under our new appliances?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Meet Feral Streep aka Cat Stevens

Two days ago, we found two teeny, tiny furbally kittens in our office parking lot. We tried everything we could think of to coax them into a box so we could love on them forever, but they weren't having it. They had taken to hiding up inside of cars — sleeping kittens + moving car parts = bad news.

We left the office on Tuesday just in time to see our worst fears realized — the poor orange kitten (whom we had already named Garfield) was, for lack of a better term, smushed on the road. We felt awful, but her grey counterpart (sibling? friend?) was still roaming around, and after a commendable chase through the woods, followed by a bit of a struggle (wouldn't you struggle too if a huge, hulking thing suddenly grabbed you?), we managed to get her safely into a box.

Not having thought through our plan too thoroughly, we brought it into my office where it has been for the past two days. We initially thought it was a she (because I have two girl cats, so all cats are girls, right?) but further investigation today has shown that she is indeed a he. I had also named "her" Feral Streep, because, no explanation required.

Check out that state-of-the-art cat house that in no way used to be an Office Max box.
So I now have an office cat, but we can't keep an office cat because Brad, one of the owners, is not exactly a cat lover. In fact, he hates cats, but he is also apparently "allergic" (how convenient), so alas, Feral Streep cannot stay. I didn't mind that so much when he was terrified of us, but we've managed to have some pretty productive petting sessions today and he's not only not scratched our faces off, but he appears to have actually enjoyed them.

He's still every bit of the wild cat that his name implies, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that his whole life has been spent in terror, outside. He's literally skin and bones and a bit mangy, but appears to be in good health otherwise. He has these adorable, wide, clear eyes and wants to snuggle so badly but hasn't quite allowed himself to trust us fully yet.

I tell you all this because I am obviously a hopeless cat lady, but also because I hope that we might be able to find him a more permanent home. If you, or anyone you know is looking for a cat (in the Akron/Cleveland/Canton area) and would like to love on Feral Streep forever, just say the word and he is yours.

Contact me with any questions you might have, and any other options (we looked into shelters, but they're all over capacity) are greatly appreciated. OR if you know of a magic pill that not only cures cat allergies, but cat hatred as well, and can be slipped undetected into a cup of coffee, let me know that too. Just don't tell Brad.

UPDATE: We've renamed him Cat Stevens. He is still free to a good home. I will even deliver.

Parenthood Season 4

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Parenthood is the best show on TV.

I'm not talking Here Comes-Honey-Boo-Boo good, I'm talking cry-at-every-episode, heart-wrenchingly, can-I-somehow-possibly-become-a-Braverman, amazing. And it's not just Lauren Graham being her usual wonderful self (although of course, she is), but every single storyline and character is as funny and real as the next. I want to be Amber's best friend (Mae Whitman), have Zeke (Craig T. Nelson) as a grandfather, Sarah (Lauren Graham) as my mother and Crosby (Dax Shepard) for a father.

The fourth season just started last week and you can catch up on the first two episodes on Hulu right now (grab the tissues!). As always, the music is great and if you find yourself asking "What was that song?" after every episode (like me) you can find an awesomely extensive guide to all the music featured on the show here.

I don't even mind the addition of Ray Romano to the cast, although I fear he may end up complicating things with Sarah and Mark, who I think are pretty adorable together. And then Mark will have to be Photoshopped out of the family portrait, and no one wants that.

PS - How amazing is that promo photo?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Shops at Target

1. Gingham tumblers  |  2. Stripey straws and swizzle sticks  |  3. Fox bowl  |  4. Arrow salad servers
5. Woodgrain and Stag pillows  |  6. Woodgrain apron

Have you seen the four new specialty "shops" at Target? I have yet to browse the goods in person as I am trying to save money (for New York in May!) and I can't step out of a Target without spending at least a hundo on things I most definitely do not need but desperately want.

That hasn't stopped me from window shopping online, and after seeing what the Curiosity Shoppe and Patch NYC have to offer, it's probably better that I stay far, far away. I love the woodgrain fabrics, stripey straws and of course the various fox items. But it's those red gingham tumblers that are really calling to me - have I been away from shopping too long or are those just the cutest things you've ever seen?

I actually DO have to enter a Target today to pick up a prescription, and I guess we'll find out exactly how good my will power really is...

Friday, September 7, 2012

DNC 2012: CMYK Lady Update

SOMEBODY find me K!
Remember when I wrote about my favorite audience member from the Democratic National Convention? The VERY enthusiastic, air-chopping, mad-clapping, passionately-yelling, older lady, who was shown in the audience during both Michelle and Clinton's speeches? Do you also remember when I noted that she had already worn the C and M half of CMYK and wondered which was next, Y or K?

Well imagine my delight (you don't have to imagine it, you can see my reaction here) when I spotted her yet again last night — this time at the tail-end of Barack Obama's speech — WEARING YELLOW. And because I care (i.e. become unnecessarily obsessed with people I'll never know), I made you this handy, and very enthusiastic gif.

Oh, and if you can offer me the identity of this fantastic woman, OR a photo of her wearing a black suit, your efforts will not go unrewarded.

BONUS: In my CMYK-Lady furor, I woefully forgot to mention yet another fabulous DNC audience member, brought to my attention by the ever-vigilant Joseph Hughes. I hope to make up for this glaring omission by presenting you with not just a lowly screen grab, but with another expertly crafted gif. Thanks Joseph, this is for you.

Looking Forward to: Fall

Last year I did this post about what I'm looking forward to as Fall approaches, so in addition to all of last year's fall favorites (Parenthood! Leaves! Halloween Parties!), here's what I'm excited about this year:

Side note: I've already had my first (and probably last) Pumpkin Spice Latte. Is it just me or is there a law of diminishing returns when it comes to this seemingly-iconic drink? Since the first one I ever had, each subsequent iteration has seemed less than great. I think instead of chasing the dragon year after year,  I'll stick to no-water-chai-tea-lattes made with soy milk — the Pumpkin Spice's less sickening, tastier cousin. Bonus: they're available all-year round.

Only one of these apples still exists (and not for long).
Honey Crisp Apples: By far the best-tasting apple, no contest. Incredibly juicy, sweet and usually huge, these apples can sometimes be hard to find. We actually lucked out and scored a bag at a local flea market on Labor Day and they were selling fast. I'm already sad in anticipation of running out.

Corn Maze: I've said it before, but fall is what Ohio does best. This means there is no shortage of fall festivals around these parts, and we don't intend on missing out. Picking just one is the hard part — we went to Nickajack farms last year but this year we're thinking of checking out Ramseyer Farms because while they may not have the largest maze, they DO have one in the shape of Ohio.

Dexter: While we're biting our nails into bloody stubs just in anticipation of the final episodes of Breaking Bad (which won't air until the summer of 2013?!), at least we'll have a new season of Dexter to distract us. Have you guys seen the trailer for the upcoming season? Shit's about to get real.

Last year's kitty carving, pre-mold invasion.
Pumpkins: We spotted the beauties above on Labor Day, but we usually wait until October to buy our own. Last year my cute kitten face turned into a wrinkly, stinking, mold-a-palooza in what seemed like a week, but I've already found a lot of great preservation tips for this year's batch. Now I just need to decide what to carve.

Travel: Traveling is on my must-do list all year round, but it just so happens that I have at least three (there's always room for more!) trips planned — Washington DC in October to see Cat Power, Vegas in early November for "work" and back to New York over Thanksgiving for the parade.

My man hasn't been to DC since he was in fourth grade, and this will be our first joint trip to NYC in a few years. I've already got a long list of potential activities, but the one thing we haven't decided yet is where to eat dinner on the big day — any suggestions on where to get a good turkey and some mashed potatoes in the city?

From our first Halloween party, 2009
As always, there will be cornstalks, party planning and copious amounts of pumpkin-flavored goodies. What are you looking forward to this fall?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

DNC 2012: Audience Reaction Shots

Have you been watching the conventions? Since we no longer have cable (or network tv) I've been catching the highlights online and didn't think anyone could come close to touching Michelle Obama's heartfelt and moving speech from Tuesday, but last night Bill Clinton came pretty close.

When the audience broke into chants of "four more years" I had a hard time figuring out if they were actually referring to Obama, or Clinton. Say what you want about his personal life (emphasis on the word personal) but term limits be damned, I'm ready to give my vote to either Clinton at a moment's notice.

As good as their speeches were, however, I couldn't help but also fall in love with many of the attendees in the audience, especially the following characters (presented in order of appearance):

Spent-the-majority-of Michelle-Obama's-speech-trying-to-figure-out-how-to-work-her-digital-camera-lady.

Still-using-a-disposable-camera-lady. I'm wondering how her long distance, indoor photos came out? Can the Obama campaign allocate, like, a hundred of their millions of dollars to buy this woman a better camera? Where do you even get film developed anymore? Am I the only person so interested in this?

Looking-toward-the-heavens-lady. Excuse me, but Michelle's eyes are down here. And her magnificent arms are even further down, so I have no idea what could be so interesting up there.

Unless she's looking at the digitized, television screen bunting, but she doesn't look like she's thinking "REALLY Democrats, you couldn't have sprung for two real life, fabric bunting pieces to hang in front of Michelle and Jill? I realize this is 2012 but COME. ON."

If this guy was all I knew of the Democratic party, I would still join.

Not-impressed-lady is the one person in America who didn't experience at least one emotion during Michelle's speech.

Ladies-with-flare. Is this the Democratic National Convention or TGI Fridays? Anyone can adorn a vest or jacket, but it takes a certain something to wear a hat covered in festive pins. It takes another something altogether to wear a blinking light on your face.

And, lastly, my favorite — Overly-enthusiastic-wildly-clapping-process-color-suit-wearing-magenta-lipstick-lady. As seen not only during Michelle's speech, but Clinton's as well. Do you think they'll cut to her again tonight? Bets on whether she'll be wearing Y or K? And how cute is her crystal donkey pin? Someone find me an animated gif of this woman immediately.

UPDATE: More on this amazing lady (including that animated gif) here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spike Press / The National

Loving these posters from Spike Press for The National. But of course I do, as they combine my love of New York with one of my favorite bands. How cool is this six-part screen print of Manhattan (one for each of six shows at the Beacon Theater)?

I have this weird thing with gig posters — I won't buy one that I like unless I actually like the band too, but I can genuinely claim to be a fan of the National.

Have you ever heard them? I'm terrible at describing music, but I can say that Boxer is my favorite album of theirs — from start to finish it's wonderful (High Violet is a close second). I like it so much, in fact, that it made the current-albums-good-enough-to-buy-on-vinyl cut, an exclusive club consisting of Cat Power (The Greatest, Jukebox and the Covers Album), Andrew Bird (The Mysterious Production of Eggs), Bon Iver (For Emma, Forever Ago) and Neutral Milk Hotel (In The Aeroplane Over the Sea).

Here they are on Letterman performing one of my favorites from Boxer, Fake Empire:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

27 Going on 30

[25, 26, 27]
Friday was my birthday and I turned 27. I don't mind getting older (would it matter if I did?), and I don't ever intend to be one of those women who turn "35" year after year. But as I prepare to close out my 20s, I suppose I should start, like, setting goals as adults are often fond of doing.

So here are 30 things I hope to accomplish/see/do before I hit the big 3-0:
  • Get my passport. I have the paperwork all filled out, I just have to take the plunge. Maybe I'll even do that todayApplied for on 9/7/2012, received.
  • Europe. There are so many places I'd like to travel, but Europe deserves the top spot. More specifically, Germany, Italy, France and the Scandinavian countries. Went on an epic Italy trip, 8/14.
  • Run a mile (and more) without stopping. I know this seems lame that I can't do this now, but I'm not exactly a natural athlete. See: broken bones in both soccer AND softball.
  • Live in New York City. I hope to cross this one off my list next year, when I try out being a resident of my beloved city for at least two months, beginning in May. Moved for two months on 1/11/13, and for good on 7/1/13.
  • Actually meet Meryl Streep. Not that I'm not satisfied with eye contact and a wave, but a girl can dream.
  • See Cat Power live - luckily my wonderful man bought us tickets for a performance of hers in October (!) Saw her on 10/22/12 and 1/22/13 and a few more times since.
  • Do the Charleston in Charleston while eating a Charleston Chew.
  • See Meryl Streep on stage (again). After seeing Mother Courage twice I only want more.
  • Move somewhere else. Not exactly sure what I meant by this, but I've moved into three different apartments in two different boroughs since moving to New York, so I think that counts.
  • Be a better teacher. I only got one quasi-negative review ("She's too shy and not strict enough") but the rest were very nice! Fall/Winter 2012
  • Make a really great iced coffee.
  • Watch the entire Friday Night Lights series - I have it on good authority that I would love it, despite that fact that I know nothing about football and have little interest in Texas. But with the magical Jason Katims involved (Parenthood) it has to be good.
  • Cook more, cook better. I've only made a handful of recipes from this hallowed book, but I'd love to try most everything in it (no thanks on the aspics, Julia). My wonderful dude has helped immensely with this.
  • Eat a fresh lobster in Cape Cod.
  • Be more adventurous in my food choices - I have been a picky eater since birth, and I've been trying to be more open to new foods as I get older but I could do better. I wouldn't even really call myself a "picky eater" anymore.
  • Start a savings account, and actually fill it with money. This is how I got to New York on 1/11/13
  • Hike through the Redwoods.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Want to Go to There: My Life in France

I may have been introduced to Julia Child via Meryl Streep's joyous performance in Julie & Julia, but it was Julia herself that captivated me throughout her memoir, My Life in France. Written with her nephew in the last years of her life, My Life recounts her best years — the ones spent in France — where she discovered not only a love of cooking, but a love of life.

1. Mortar and pestle  |  2. Typewriter  |  3. Mastering the Art and Larousse Gastronomique
4. Air mail envelopes  |  5. Le Creuset  |  6. Pearls  |  7. Shopping basket

Whatever you do, don't dive into anything about Julia Child if you're the least bit hungry — this is as much a love story to food as it is for France. It's also a great romance too, as was Julia's marriage to the adoring and patient Paul.

If you are as sad as I was to reach the end, drown your sorrows with As, Always Julia, a collection of the correspondence between Julia and her pen-pal, Avis DeVoto. And if that doesn't work, there's always butter.