Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Project of a Lifetime

Every so often I get sick of having "stuff."

I would say I am a mild pack rat, mostly because I worry about needing to refer to things later and I have tons of painting and craft supplies.

I'm currently in a "sick of stuff" mode. I get into this "give it away or junk it" mode every so often where I'll throw things away or give them to D.I.. But for some reason, this time I feel like it's more of a permanent shift.

I want my life to be less about "stuff" and more about learning: expanding my mind, developing and nurturing important relationships, deepening my creativity, and making beautiful things (whether that be through painting, taking pictures, writing stories, or any number of other avenues.)

So, I started a little project for myself last week.

I am going through all of my possessions to clear out the clutter I have accumulated over my lifetime. There are several reasons why this project is cropping up now:

-I sold my house and will be moving back in with my parents for a one month transition period before I move to Paris.

-I recently read an article about clutter and excess "stuff" creating/increasing stress. Hmmmm. No, thanks.

-In Paris I will be living in a miniscule apartment* with a tiny closet. I'll basically be living out of my suitcases for 5 months. So, I think this will be a great trial run for living the pared-down life.

-Many of these boxes simply contain papers from school that I wanted to keep either 1)Because they are a testament to the fact that I was, in fact, smart at one point in my life, 2) I wanted to use them in developing my own French course curriculum (papers that fall into this category I'll likely scan and keep), or 3) Back then I thought I "might need it for something later."

So, wish me luck. It's a really difficult process for me, because I'm so much a "what if" person that I can imagine realistic scenarios for needing just about anything later. I also feel horrible donating or throwing away anthing that someone gave to me.


I'll try to take pictures of the process so you can see what I'm talking about. It's going to be quite the project, but I can't wait to feel liberated from all of my junk. (And I think my parents will appreciate having a guest room that doesn't feel like it's about to topple over onto their sleeping friends/family at any given moment.)

As a side note, there's no getting around the fact that I'm going to keep 90% of my painting and art supplies and 99% of my books. I use those. This project is focusing on the stuff that is just taking up space and not contributing to my personal development or happiness (which is, in fact, most of my stuff).


*I don't have one yet, but let's be honest... it's a pretty safe assumption to make.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusiton into clarity... It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

-Melodie Beattie

Today I am grateful for many things, but especially my wonderful family. I am truly blessed to have such good, loving, intelligent, [awesome, attractive ;)], supportive people in my life. Extended family, this absolutely includes you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"There is No Charge for Awesomeness... or Attractiveness"

How great is this line?*

Wouldn't you love to be able to say this to someone? Be on the lookout for good times to say this. I will be looking, too. This sounds like something I would say, anyways, in one of my "I'm pretending to think more highly of myself than I actually do" moments.

Sometimes I think that people who don't know me very well think I'm a total narcissist. And I can't say that I blame them. I frequently speak very highly of myself, mostly as a tongue-in-cheek joke. But most people who don't know me well don't quite get it... so then I just look like I'm an egomaniac.

Oh, well.

Still... don't you think everyone should think of themselves as awesome? I think they should.**

Take the poll on my sidebar and tell me if you think you're awesome!! This could be a life-changing self-affirmation moment. But only if you let it be. :)

*From Kung Fu Panda
**But I think their opinion of themselves should be tempered by the realization that everyone else is awesome and deserves to be heard, respected, and supported, too. I think there are people who have unreasonably elevated opinions of themselves, and as a result, the way they treat other people is just atrocious.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Never" Coming Back

In a recent conversation with my best friend, Happy, she said the following about me moving to France.

"You know you're never coming back, right? You say you're coming back, but we BOTH know you're never coming back."

Well, then.

I wish I could say with any certainty that that was true. But I can't. I've got a plane ticket to come back, and my visa will expire at a certain point (assuming I ever get one).

So unless I randomly decide to stay in France and do a Master's program (which apparently I can do, and they will just extend my visa while I'm still in France), I'll be back at the end of June and looking for a job.

I Also Think I Don't Have a House

Yesterday I signed a purchase contract to sell my house. Hooray!

Now it just has to appraise for enough and the inspector needs to not surprise me with termites or mold or something like that.

The plan is to close on the 10th. Wow, that's so soon! Two weeks from tomorrow!

Jessica and I are moving the 6th of December (she to a new house, me to my parents').


Goodbye, tiny townhouse.

Hello, even tinier apartment in Paris.
I'm not going to lie... it's a tradeoff I would make 10 times out of 10.

I think I Have an Apartment

So, my friend's sister in Paris called today to report on her visit to one of the two apartments I've been deciding between.

At this point, I don't really think it's even a contest. Unless something miraculous happens with the second apartment, I will probably take this one.



It is:
-apparently good sized, and my room is quite large for Paris
-very secure--there is an outer gate and a digital code I have to enter to get into the building
-15 minutes by foot to the Arc de Triomphe
-15 minutes by foot to Montmartre
-5 stops by RER away from the Eiffel Tower
-one Metro transfer away from school, Notre Dame, and the Louvre
-in a very nice neighborhood
-with a 45-year old lady who is rarely there on the weekends
-550 Euros a month (right now about $720) with no extra charges (includes internet, unlimited international phone calls, washing machine, use of the kitchen, etc.)







Not bad, eh?


There is also a farmer's market twice a week on a nearby street.

Now, if only the consulate would answer my emails so I could get my visa...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Russell Peters...

... is sooooo funny. Oh, man.

His parents are from India, but he was born and raised in Canada. The guy is just hilarious. I laugh out loud every time, and I don't think I've laughed so hard I actually cried in a LOOONG time, but I did when watching some of his clips.

Disclaimer: He does say some things that are wildly inappropriate. And he bases a lot of his humor around cultural differences/stereotypes, so if you are offended by things like that he's probably not the comedian for you. He does swear once or twice in the first video below.








My Musical Horizons...

... need some expanding.

So, I'm going to ask for your help.

Please leave a comment and let me know five (or more if you want to) musical recommendations you would make. They can be songs, groups, or artists.

Keep the following in mind.

1) If the lyrics include big-time swears, let me know in advance so I can try to track down an edited version.
2) I am not going to tell you what kind of music I listen to normally, because I don't want you to be influenced by what you think I would like. I want to know what you listen to.
3) If you recommend an artist, I will listen to at least three of their songs to get a feel and go from there.
4) If you recommend a song, I will listen to that song and then look up the artist and listen to three more. :)
5) I'll let you know what new favorites I discover.

I would also love if it you tell other people to come to my post and comment. The more recommendations, the better!

Hopefully you will also learn about more artists, songs, and genres that interest you through this group effort.

Twilight Movie: Yes or No?

The Twilight movie opens today. Are you going to see it?

I will, but probably not this weekend. Unless there is a showing tomorrow that magically isn't sold out when I feel like making my way to the theater.

I might wait even longer because I don't want to be in a theater full of screaming girls in "Team Edward" shirts and the like. (Not that everyone going to see it is such a superfan... I'm just saying. It's like when we went to the new Star Wars movies and we found ourselves in line with a Sith Lord, Princess Padme, and other characters. What??)

I have mixed feelings about seeing the movie--I enjoyed the books (the last one FAR less than the previous three, unfortunately), and I'm curious to see how they translated some of the aspects of the book onto the big screen. I just hope I don't walk away from the theater wishing I had just saved my money and reread the books. :)

The IPA

I took a French linguistics class a couple of years ago where we had to memorize* the International Phonetic Alphabet.


You might not think it is interesting, but I am completely fascinated. It's a great resource for linguists because it allows you to understand how a word should be pronounced in another language, even if you have no experience with the language outside of the IPA.

Singers also use it according to Wikipedia (which I had never thought of before, but it totally makes sense). (Hello, Josh Groban??)

We also used this a little bit in an English Language class, in which we also learned about different regional dialects and pronunciation patterns in the US.
This NPR clip highlights some examples of these differences, focusing on the Northern states in the US.

So fascinating.
Maybe when I'm back from Paris I'll do a masters in linguistics and travel around the world gathering "research" on the way words are pronounced in different places.
*I don't remember it anymore. I wish I did.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Color Addict

Adobe Kuler is a great place to feed my color addiction.
People come up with great color combinations that I would never think of. It's very inspirational for me as I think about paintings (or combining clothes I would have never put together on my own... I'm very very conservative when it comes to color combinations in clothing).

Here are a few examples.


Aubergine by natalieeiferd



Sneaking Around by whoneycutt


Tell Me I'm Pretty by CivilSumo

Maybe looking at this site more frequently will help me be more adventurous in my fashion choices.

Maybe.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

MB SLK 55 AMG

If the title of my post doesn't speak to you, then you, like me, are not obsessed with cars.

However, I think I might have just had an obsession-inducing experience with the Mercedez-Benz SLK series 55 AMG. A guy friend of mine just bought one and took me for a ride this afternoon.

This is what it looks like.

*Swooning*
Isn't it beautiful? If I was a bazillionaire, I would buy one. It has a bum-warmer and a neck warmer for the driver and passenger. Among dozens of other features, of course.
Because I know my mother reads my blog sometimes, I won't tell you how fast we went.
I'll just tell you that on the way home from Phoenix (where he bought it), my friend went 180 and "didn't dare go any faster." Uummm, yeah, ya think???

Can a Back Massage Change Your Life?

Yes. At least the one I had yesterday did.

Okay, it was actually what happened before the massage that made such a huge difference...

Every friday, the company I work for brings in two massage therapists to do seated massages. It's $10 for 15 minutes, and on more than one occasion I have considered it the best $10 I ever spent.

This time I actually had a back injury, rather than just general tightness. Last week this same therapist just did a massage, and she kept commenting on how tense and tight all of my muscles were, not just the ones in my back.

So this week before she started with the massage, she did a process that she called "unwinding."

I've never really had anything like that done before, but I tried to keep an open mind, and the results were truly incredible. It's not like my back magically feels 100% better, but I could see a significant improvement just in those ten minutes.

I found this article, which seems to be a pretty accurate description of the process as I experienced it (and as she described what it is supposed to do).

My back actually felt so much better after my "unwindy" massage appointment, I forgot all about the chiropractic appointment I had that same afternoon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memry, Memory, Memories

Today I discovered Pim Pam Pum's Flickr toys.

Memry is my favorite because it takes me back to my childhood days. My family used to play Memory ALL the time.
Basically you enter a tag into the page, and then Memry pulls up Flickr pictures with that tag as the 'tiles' for your game of Memory. You click on a tile, and it flips over to show the picture so you can match it.



Exercise for your brain, pretty things to look at for your eyes. Win-win. And it's free, of course... so win-win-win. Click here to play.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blog Award!

To my utter astonishment, this week* the darling, creative, and crafty (in a good way) Scrap Chair Potato gave me the "This Blog is Rated E for Excellent" Award!



Hooray! Not only was it a complete surprise, but I was truly flattered by all the nice things she had to say.


So now it's my turn to pass the award along...


And I pick Heather! I've blogged about Heather's mad decorating and party-planning skills before, but strictly speaking about blogging, she does a great job of keeping all her family and friends in the loop with great updates about their family's activites, always accompanied by loads of great pictures.


Okay, Heather... start writing your acceptance speech!! (But be warned--I'm totally going to turn music on over the last 5 or 10 seconds of it... just to keep it realistic.)


*Just in time for my 100th post, which happened to be this morning's Pie Chart post. :)

A Personality Pie Chart

I think this Personality Pie Chart from Marc at Take Out Photo is a brilliant idea. I think this would be a really fun series to do with several individuals displayed next to each other (Teachers of the Week, a display at a family reunion, celebrities, random people who are being judged solely on their appearance...).

It would also be cool used in some kind of advertising (sort of a spin on the "Priceless" MasterCard commercials). Whaddaya think?




Plus I just love the look on this guy's face.


If you had to reduce your personality to five of the most representative traits, what would they be?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Super Secret Photographer, Double-Oh Sarah

I would love to have one of these. From the Photojojo Store.





I love candid shots, and I would especially love to use this with those charming nephews of mine... for those moments when they are not so happy about being in pictures, and thus a tad less charming than normal. Ooh, or a cousin on my dad's side of the family who refuses to let her picture be taken (she's incredibly gorgeous, I don't know what the problem is). Ha! She'll never even see it coming!!
The lens is basically just a fake, and there is a hole in the side (see above) which has a mirror placed juuuust so... which sends the image into the image sensor to be recorded. So, you can take a picture of anything that is at a ninety degree angle from where the front of the lens it pointed.
There's a short video on the Photojojo store page if you want to see it in action.

Maybe I'll buy one for myself when I sell my house. Then I can take pictures on my people watching adventures in Paris and no one will be the wiser.


Plus, I think it would just be cool to say, "Hey, So-and-so, I'm going to head out and take some pictures with my Super Secret Spy Lens. Don't be jealous."

The Art Snob and The Poster List: A Confession in Two Parts

Part One: I am an art snob.


It's true. I am very opinionated about art that I do and don't like, and I would rarely consider actually paying for art that someone else has created.

There are two reasons for this:

Reason #1. I am not independently wealthy, so I can't just buy all of the paintings I have posted about here. Believe me, if it were financially possible, there is nothing that would stop me from owning them and creating the World's Most Amazing Abstract Painting Gallery with Some Impressionist Works to Boot. (And I would definitely call it that, too.)

Reason #2. I see something someone else has made and I use that as inspiration in creating my own paintings. Even though I know a lot of talent and hard work (and TIME) goes into the things other people create, I just can't justify spending $1300 on a painting. That's two house payments, for crying out loud. Plus I just love to paint.

Considering these two reasons, it may not surprise you to hear that I rarely hang art in my house that I didn't make myself. Enjoying the process+refusing to buy others' works = lots of fun+random art that changes every so often (unless I really like a painting I've done, I won't keep it intact when I feel the need for change. I'll just paint straight over it).

The nice thing about being a cheapskate art snob is that I can make things I like--with exactly the right color, texture, pattern, etc. And if I don't like it when I'm finished, I can just cover it up and start over.




Part Two: I'm not a poster person.

That's probably because the only posters I ever owned were 1) posters of famous paintings which I never got frames for (and which, frankly, just didn't hold as much appeal when they lost the texture of the actual painted surface) or 2) tweeny posters that I tacked onto my walls next to all of my chalk pastel drawings when I was 13. (I need to find those old school artistic endeavors o' mine.*)

Having admitted this to you**, I am now going to do a complete about-face and tell you how much I love some of the offerings at The Poster List. Definitely frame-worthy, and definitely things I would put on my own walls if I had the space and wasn't moving. And considering my art sobbishness, the fact that I'm actually willing to spend money on these is a big deal to me.

I've been to their site before (don't remember how), but Jessica at How About Orange is holding a contest on her blog this week where you can win TWO awesome posters of your choice. Details here.

My personal faves are (from L-R) Lonely Flower, Gotcha, Shoe Fetish, and Kisses (not shown).



So, if you want to win a couple of grown-up posters, go to Jessica's blog. If you just want to buy some, check out their shop. Right now they've got two 12x18" posters for $20. Not bad, considering they don't feature Hannah Montana.




*Would you be interested in seeing them if I found them?


**There's no shame in the tweeny posters, right? I think everyone goes through that phase. And apparently my art snobbery has been a part of me for a lot longer than I remembered initially.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Silhouette I CAN Feel Good About

You now know how I feel about the DC pants trend. **Shudder**

This, however, is a look I think is darling. Fun, whimsical, feminine. I really wish I could rock a top hat without looking ridiculous.


I like this one, too. Definitely a different feel, but I would totally wear it.

Not that I own any clothes that remotely resemble anything in either photo...

Whoever decided these were a good idea...

...needs to rethink a few things.

Drop crotch pants are not a look I can get behind. Truly horrible, and apparently pretty common in Paris, Moscow, and NYC. Yikes. Comfy, I'm sure, but seriously frumpy looking.



See circled information above. SERIOUSLY??

I'm obviously not the fashion police, but I am pretty opinionated about silhouettes, and this one just doesn't appeal. See other examples here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Faves - Restaurants (in Utah)

1. Bombay House - I love it despite the awkwardness of everyone there looking at me with these knowing looks (one of their servers asked me out once). Love their mango lassis and naan, and their chicken saag is perfection in a sliver dish. Oh, yum... I am craving it right now!

2. Pizzeria 712 - great little pizza, pasta and sandwich joint. More expensive than CPK, less variety, but better quality and vastly better atmosphere. They also serve hummus and pitas as a free appetizer. So good. Can't make a specific recommendation, because their menu varies by season and availability of local and sustainably farmed produce (which they use whenever possible). Oh, and GREAT service in my experience.

3. California Pizza Kitchen - I absolutely LOVE their Margherita Pizza, the California Club Pizza, and the Chicken Waldorf Salad (with Dijon Basalmic Vinaigrette). Really loud, though. They should make their booths higher so people can hear each other talking across the table.

4. Shoots - I have no idea if this is a chain restaurant, or if the one in the Provo Riverwoods is the only one/one of very few. De-li-cious Chinese food. (Not Panda Express-style, either. More P.F. Chang's.)

5.Bajio/Cafe Rio/Costa Azul/insert your favorite fresh Mex restaurant here - Love the Cafe Rio pork salad or burrito, big fan of the ensalata Bajio and queso dip from Bajio.

And BONUS
6. Maestro's - Not actually a restaurant. It's a gelateria, but it's soooo good I would eat there as a meal if I wasn't trying to shed a few. Very authentic gelato, European hot chocolate, and crepes made to order. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"I Love the World"

I think the Discovery Channel is some of the best TV around, and their new commercials are fantastic in my opinion.
If you haven't seen them yet, check out this one below. Clever, catchy, and fun.

And if you own a TV and don't watch the Discovery Channel, I want a commitment from you, right here, right now. The shame of it all...





One last thought on commercials:
I've been a rather big fan of the music that is being used on commercials these days and how it is being used. The Discovery Channel being my first example, let's also consider the United Way commercials airing recently using the "We Belong" song. Very effective.



And let's be honest. Don't we all know that Apple does a great job with this? In fact, I would dare say they're trendsetters in this domain.

I'll Take One... in White... in July 2009. Thank you.

I want to buy a Beach Cruiser soooo badly. Except that I have no money. And it snowed today, which isn't really helpful to riding around on a cute beachy bike. Winter is officially on its way. Maybe I'll just get one next year when I'm back from Paris and don't have a car.


This one from beachbikes.net is only $180. I hate mint green, so I would get it in white and add a basket on the front. I'm pretty sure you have to assemble it yourself, though... so... maybe not.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Accepted!

I am officially accepted by the Sorbonne!! I checked my application status on their website today, and I am in. So now I just have to wait for the paper letter of acceptance to arrive in the mail so I can finish my visa application. Everyone keep your fingers crossed. :)

Just One More Reason to Vote Tomorrow

I get a weekly "Customer Loyalty" newsletter in my work inbox every week from a company called COLLOQUY, and one of the customer loyalty stories they reported last friday is below.

Okay, so it's not an actual REASON to vote, but a fun reward for those who were going to anyway.

Finally, a campaign promise we can get behind
10/24/2008

November 4th, Election Day, the day Americans exercise their most precious right in our democratic society. And now, just for voting, Americans can be rewarded with ice cream. You’d have thought it impossible to beat the feeling you get from voting but Ben & Jerry’s has done it.
According to the company
web site, each voter who proves their eligibility for a free scoop of ice cream, either by displaying their "I Voted" sticker, showing a photo of themselves at the polling station, or doing the "I Voted" dance, will be rewarded at a participating Ben & Jerry’s outlet.
Free ice cream will be scooped from 5 PM to 8 PM on November 4th. We’ll assume that you get free ice cream regardless of for whom you voted or the quality of your "I Voted" dance.
Source: Ben & Jerry’s


I'm anticipating a very long line at my voting location tomorrow morning, so maybe the promise of free Ben & Jerry's will help the time pass more quickly (well, that and maybe coming up with special choreography for an "I Voted" dance of my very own).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Picures from Southern, Central, and Northern France

I'm getting more excited every day to move to Paris... assuming that I can find an apartment and get a visa.
Not that I needed a reminder of how much I love the City of Light, but today I spent some time looking through pictures of previous trips to France. Here is a smattering with brief captions. Note that some of them are older and from a point-and-shoot camera, so the quality isn't the best.

My second trip to France was the summer of 1998, when France won the World Cup. Let's just say there were lots of balloons and fireworks that night.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the fountains at Versailles run and they play classical music over loudspeakers hidden throughout the gardens. I'm pretty sure I took at least one picture of each fountain, but I won't make you look at all of them.
The beaches at Normandy were quiet in August. From what I remember, we were the only people there, tourists or otherwise. The descriptions of the difficulties of that day made so much more sense after walking the beach when the tide was out--the beaches are simply vast and we walked out several hundred yards from the face of the cliff and didn't even reach ankle-deep water.
Le Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley. This palace has a double-helix staircase (very cool) and 365 fireplaces. It was built as a hunting lodge for Francois I. Sick.

Me swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Nice, huh? Icky nudie OLD French man came and camped out behind me, though, once I had settled on my towel. That was slightly traumatizing.

Street performers in some village in Southern France.

The Pope's palace in Avignon.

The Pont du Gard (a Roman Aqueduct and World Heritage site). Very cool. Also a big swimming spot, apparently.

The Louvre


The Eiffel Tower. At night it sparkles, every hour on the hour, thanks to thousands of jumbo christmas-like lights that have been strung all over the giant framework.

The Arc de Triomphe and the French flag. Awwww. This is in the center of the largest roundabout I've ever seen. Ten cars can fit across the roundabout at the same time.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Friday Faves - Elemis Devil's Mint Body Scrub

I know Friday Faves is usually more of a list of favorite _____. But I honestly don't have anything to compare this to.

I've always had little bumps on the skin on my upper arms (Keratosis pilaris... so annoying), and this summer I finally discovered something that got rid of them altogether. (Moisturizing wasn't the key, after all!!)


Devil's Mint Body Scrub from Elemis is a wonderful exfoliator. It exfoliates without being harsh--in fact, it's really soothing (and I love the smell). It is $50.00 a pop, but using it only on my upper arms and not as an all over body polish, it lasted me a good two or two and a half months. (And no, I didn't spend $50 on it--it was a gift.)






I've been out for over a month and I want more, but I just don't have the $50 to spare for body scrub at the moment. I'm currently testing a couple of scrubs I found at Target. I'm hoping they'll work just as well, since they were only $10 each. Soon, though, I hope to have more of this in my shower, miracle worker that it is (maybe I'll buy myself some as a congratulatory gift if I ever sell m house). Click on the photo to get some for yourself, should you feel so inclined. Or, let me know in the comments if you want a review of the other scrubs I'm trying... everyone can use a good exfoliant every now and again. :)