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Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen


Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of probably the Best Smiths Album. Most people will say it’s The Queen is Dead (which will celebrate 30 years in 2016) but I don’t think it is, despite all the pressure to love that one best.

My first Smiths “album” was actually Singles. So, not an album. A compilation. Still, it was a good introduction for someone like me, who responds to pop sounds first and deep, meaningful lyrics much much later. I found The Queen is Dead on cassette many months later and my summer of 2009 had its perfect soundtrack (I would go on to own a ton of cassettes, many of which made for great memories). I first listened to Meat is Murder, though, later that fall. I remember getting chills when the title track wound around and Morrissey crooned about how eating meat is the same as literally killing animals. I was moved, and a little shocked. It was not a popular slogan in the 80s (in fact, it still turns plenty of people off now). A different Smiths “album” became my autumn soundtrack though, which was Louder Than Bombs (which is a fantastic compilation btw). It wasn’t until Winter 2010 that Meat is Murder cemented its place as GOAT (greatest of all time). See, I was in love with a boy (duh)  who loved The Smiths (BONUS). Every Tuesday I would go donate plasma to get $20, so I could go to The Triple Rock for 2-4-1’s with my crush. As I was donating, I’d listen to this album. In the daytime, on my way to class, I’d listen to it. The second track, “Rusholme Ruffians” is so filled with glee and nostalgia, it reminds me of that time when life was simple, and care-free. When I’d sell plasma for 20 measly bucks and that was good enough and I was happy.

The thing about MIM is that it’s *all* great. QID is *mostly* great. “Frankly Mr. Shankly” and “Vicar in a Tutu” may be good, preposterous songs, but does the former work leading into one of the great Smiths ballads, “I Know it’s Over”? And similarly, does the latter really work as a lead out, especially after the GOAT Smiths song “There is a Light that Never Goes Out”? I wanna go with “no.”

MIM seems to speak to a more reckless, youthful sadness. It’s music for misfits and outcasts, and people with problems that are true life.
There’s a club if you’d like to go
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home and you cry
And you want to die

Yes. It’s not “You dumped me and broke my heart.” It’s “I’m so lonely and so awkward I want to kill myself.” That is a truer feeling than being broken-hearted, though there is plenty of that:

Gasping but somehow still alive

This is the fierce last stand of all I am
Gasping, dying but somehow still alive
This is the final stand of all I am

Please keep me in mind.

The crowning achievement of this album might be “How Soon is Now,” a sprawling, atmospheric, lush anthem of isolation. I was never sold on this song until I heard Johnny Marr play it in 2013 and sound was covering my whole body and all the air around me was close and hot. It’s such a different experience from anything else on MIM, and the craftsmanship was totally singular and unique:

“The vibrato sound is fucking incredible, and it took a long time. I put down the rhythm track on an Epiphone Casino through a Fender Twin Reverb without vibrato. Then we played the track back through four old Twins, one on each side. We had to keep all the amps vibrating in time to the track and each other, so we had to keep stopping and starting the track, recording it in 10-second bursts … I wish I could remember exactly how we did the slide part – not writing it down is one of the banes of my life! We did it in three passes through a harmoniser, set to some weird interval, like a sixth. There was a different harmonisation for each pass. For the line in harmonics, I retuned the guitar so that I could play it all at the 12th fret with natural harmonics. It’s doubled several times.”
  — Johnny Marr (Source)

There’s very few full albums that feel autobiographical for me. MIM is very much a memory of a time and place I was really, physically in. I feel it more lucidly than many other times in my life.  Happy B-day Meat is Murder.

(obviously, it didn’t work out with that guy)

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$20 Wall Art / New Dining Room tour

If I die child-less, I think my biggest accomplishment will be having had a beautiful house.

Back when we bought this home, the Mid-Century Modern trend was still hot (let’s be honest, it always is) and here we had this beautiful MCM home (I never thought we’d have one!). So I thought, we have to furnish it correctly. I wanted it to be bold and colorful! And I wanted an Eames chair and a George Nelson clock! Atomic! Kitsch! You can see the direction we were headed with this initial living room showcase I did back when I started the blog.
I was thinking that every room would have its own color motif. The kitchen was to be green (which I have scaled back over time), and the living room was going to be teal, yellow an orange. Fine MCM color schemes. Try as I might though, I didn’t feel the colorful, quasi-kitschiness in my bones. I couldn’t commit my house to a style that my heart wasn’t in. There are still some remnants of that old style (the rug in the living room, for example) but overall, we’ve remained neutral.

I didn’t reject Mid-Century Modern though, which I’m happy about. When I first latched onto it about 6ish years ago, I thought it looked great, but also didn’t dream I’d ever have a Mid Century House with Mid Century furnishings. It’s really a big commitment, considering the prices on some key furniture pieces. We’ve managed, however, through IKEA, craigslist and luck. Take the above: Our dining room (and partial kitchen). Finding the right credenza was a hard-fought battle, but we ended up with something affordable and incredibly stylish (and unexpected). The Danish Modern dining set was a CL score that Alan found for *$300!*. The beautiful ceiling light came with the house!  And I never dreamed that Alan, who, when we met, liked dark colored walls and overstuffed furniture, would be the one hunting for MCM dining sets, or saying we should buy the credenza. I can see how this style of decorating could be off-putting for some. There’s no actual color to be found anywhere in this picture.  But he really came around and we see every new stylistic touch in the house as a major success.

I digress. While I would love to show off our dining room (again), this is more about a crafty project we did over the weekend, that’s so easy you’d be crazy not to at least try it out.


Here’s the dining room just on Saturday (and the cat! Her tongue!). I had a few cheaply framed pieces of art (a drawing an Icelandic Redditor sent me a few years ago, and a picture I took Up North last summer), and had plans to have more of a gallery wall, but last weekend I mentioned that I’d just learned about Engineer Prints to Alan, and we thought about where we could put a giant photo in the house, and this seemed like the best place.

Engineer prints are really more for like, blueprints and stuff, but if you’re savvy, you can print a massive photograph you took yourself for about $5. Find an office supply store that also does printing (In my case, Staples does good work) and order online to pick up in-store. Make your photo the right size (mine is 3×4′) and convert to grayscale dot pattern. That’s all you need to do. (You can print anything at any size if it’s dot pattern. Protip).
CRW_8224 CRW_8226
I used a photo I took last summer at the cabin  ‘cuz trees are nice.
To make this as cheap as possible, we’re using the same un-framing technique I mentioned in my post about my office.  The binder clips are a little inelegant and not necessarily in a charming way. We may screw the wood together in the future and hang it by a string, which would be inelegant in a charming way.
Seriously, $300 for this whole thing.
My Iceland Reddit drawing got displaced, so I took down the Keep Calm poster (which looked shabby anyway, despite how much I love it). It really brings that area together! (Also, note our charming new radio which is this brand . It’s very stylish and has a surprisingly powerful speaker. A budget version for the Tivoli admirers). The wooden frame holding the Keep Calm poster then became host to our Art Crank poster on the other side of the room:
*Carefully framed picture to include The Smiths vinyl*
I’m sharing this with you lovely people, even though it’s a nifty secret, because I saw PhotoJojo trying to sell these things for $25.  And it takes a WEEK to get to you. Pay a little extra at Staples and pick it up the same day. Boom. You’re welcome. 

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Weekend, woo!


Weather wise it’s been a mild week. No base layer to deal with, no arms clamped at my side when I get into the car at the end of the day. I love the cold, but this is nice. I feel like doing some fun projects this weekend. I wanna try to ombre a t-shirt  and/or brine  a t-shirt I got for Christmas, that I love, but is really stiff and not soft. It needs to be soft, like kitties!

Tonight I’m going to fry up some Tilapia after hitting the gym, then watch the new Comedy Bang Bang and probably take it easy because that cold that I was cured of a week ago seems to be creeping back. That’s stupid.

Just a little over a week until I drink again. That first beer is going to be so, so good.

What’s your weekend plan, babies?

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Breakfast can’t wait!

I might be a little extra #blessed that I have such a forgiving work schedule. I woke up today at 8:30. My shift doesn’t *really* start until 11, but I was still late. Why? Because I like to drink a pot of coffee and dick around on the internet. Duh. With my new healthy thing though, lately I have to factor a whole new thing: Breakfast.

I love breakfast but I almost never had any time for it, because in my old life (last month) I would stay in bed as long as possible before quickly showering, probably grabbing a coffee at Starbucks, rolling into work a little late. It happens. In my new-and-improved life, I’m drinking coffee, hanging out in my office, and EATING FOOD. And not just any food. NUTRITIOUS FOOD. This meal pictured about is, admittedly, much more nutrient-packed than my usual breakfast of honey yogurt and almond butter toast (also with honey. Almond butter on its own is GROSS).  I was in a rush but still managed to make this: Scrambled eggs (with a little milk and a lot of black pepper), a berry smoothie (Almond milk + greek yogurt + strawberries + banana + frozen blueberries. My kale went bad :( ), and I rescued a browning avocado half in the fridge and scraped it on a piece of rye toast (rye toast is weird btw!) Then, tabasco. Because I dig the spicy things in life.

Moral of the story: Breakfast is good. Not-breakfast is bad.

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Style File// Gym Bag


Last week I started off strong by hitting the gym on Monday. Then Tuesday, I got hit with a nasty cold. Chills, aches, squeaky cough, and all around fatigue. I was out of commission for 4 solid days of would-be working out. By the weekend I was on the up and up, and by yesterday I was good as new (also explains the lack of blogging). This was terrible for gym momentum, but at least I had no problem not drinking. So far I’ve made leaps and bounds more progress on the ‘lifestyle changes’ than when I tried a year ago. I’m eating actual real breakfast every day, with actual real nutrients and wholesome, nutritious foods! Feels good to keep at it, and it’s not a serious struggle because it’s all in moderation. I’m not binging on snack food constantly BUT I’m also not denying myself any little treats if I so desire them (I’ve allowed myself two pops. A can of coke over a week ago, and a bottle of pepsi on Sunday. And that feels like just enough.) “Everything in Moderation” really is the key here. I don’t think I ever understood the weight of that mantra until now.

I use the gym in my building, which is nice because it’s convenient, and extremely cheap. We’re moving buildings at the end of March, when the gym membership will skyrocket. It’ll probably become more practical to sign up at a real gym, and there happens to be an LA Fitness down the street from our house with all the bells and whistles (Sauna! Hot Tub! JUICE BAR!). I want to look my best for these Training Try-Hards, so I’ve envisioned for myself a rad workout ensemble that is likely to subvert the paradigm furreal.

A Hoodie is good for exercise. It gets your sweatin’. This particular hoodie (from ol’ reliable Old Navy) is really nice material. It’s like, compression fleece. I have it, and it’s very soft, and doesn’t pill, and is just the right fit. When it’s a teensy bit warmer out, it’ll be perfect for jogging outside. Moisture *and* odor wicking too.

A Vest is really more of an outdoor thing too, but I can picture in the winter months throwing it on over the hoodie as I’m walking back to my car. No need to bundle all the way up while I’m cooling down. Plus, this one’s on sale guys! And, c’mon, get that brand recognition.

A Tank Top that will totally cause some gym bros to rethink their entire machismo world view. Plus, tank tops help your body breathe, and this one happens to be rad as hell.

Some Running Shoes from a trusted brand ;)

Wireless Earbuds because you don’t want to be this guy.

AND… Rad printed leggings.  This ones above are these which are sadly no longer available, but you can find all kinds of super cool printed leggings like THESE Lord of the Rings themed ones. And you know what, if you’re looking for some “real” workout leggings, and maybe you’re  a bit of a health goth, these look pretty cool.

A couple last things: Hydrate often, and get Netflix on your phone so you can watch 30 Rock on the elliptical. It makes the time fly by. ;)

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Home office

I’ve wanted to show off my little home office for a really long time. I just had to keep tweaking the space, because it has to be *perfect*. It’s my little autonomous space. I get to make it look however I want. Even to the point where I’ve been obsessing over clean, minimal workspaces on Pinterest forever now and feeling disappointed in mine by comparison. But then I realized that I’m really lucky to even have a home office. It’s not like I do a ton of work from home (I do enough). But this space is my little happy space. The only thing that sucks about it are the cheap IKEA DIY desks, which have cheap legs that wobble — a lot. I can make them more flush withe the floors, but the *floors* are uneven. Anyway. Look how terrible that photo is up there. Poor composition all around. It’s because I don’t have a super wide angle lens. And because I didn’t try very hard tbh.
Central control. The red lamp.. I love, don’t get me wrong. But it was bought at a time when red accents were all the rage. Black + White + Red = Totally Swiss design, right? It was a time when I was purely a black and white kind of person, but *just* black and white was too extreme. Now, I’m like, screw that. ONLY Black & White. I have my eye on this IKEA lamp, which has a button on the base, which is honestly enough for me. The red lamp has a switch down on the cord that I have to fish out every night. UGH, right? It’s a worklamp from West Elm and I’m essentially looking to trade down. (I can’t believe I found so much to say about a lamp!)
I used to have the ubiquitous flip clock screensaver  until one day it just stopped working on my mac. I’m now using this even lovelier, more minimalist iteration.
ee? RED ACCENTS. Also, I AM A DESIGNER. Here’s a big type poster.
My “music corner”, by default. Alan got me the incredible electric piano for Christmas, which I’ve been dying for for years. After I moved out of my parents’ house I’ve been without a piano to play, and it really hurt. Like, physically hurt me sometime to not be able to play. That guitar? It’s broken. I need to get it fixed. But it looks *super* cool like that in the corner, doesn’t it? So casual.
The Morrissey poster is my *favorite* thing. I lifted this framing technique directly from Door Sixteen.
More Morrissey, and a little typographic letterpress poster. I got it for being an early backer on this great Kickstarter campaign.
he little boxes are from Ikea, natch. The coaster is a wood slab from Michaels.
Thank god for these little wooden boxes. There’s so much crap that you can’t see because of it. Also, how cute is the notepad? IKEA. And the tape dispenser? Also IKEA. The cross stitch was made by my wonderful friend Katrin as a wedding present (she was also my personal attendant I mean HOW RAD).
The sad part is that as soon as we have our second kid this isn’t my space anymore. :( / :)

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Let’s Furnish my Skyrim Apartment


Yesterday Ikea announced that it would be bringing the series Nornas to US stores in February. My initial reaction was that holy crap, THIS is where I need to live. Look at those gorgeous floors, the snow-dusted pines, and the bare, natural wood featured throughout. It’s my Skyrim apartment all over the place.

Dedicated readers will know that Skyrim is a topic much touched upon here. I haven’t even played in a while and yet the game continues to influence me IRL. My fixation with adventure combined (this is crucial) with beautiful landscapes undoubtedly started when I obsessively watched Fellowship of the Ring over and over in my youth. I went to New Zealand for a Summer study abroad program as a direct result of my LotR obsession. So, when I started to play Skyrim as an adult, I was brought back into a world of mountains and wintry forests. My Fantasy is a literal fantasy. I want to run around fields and mountains with a sword and shit. Like, it’s serious how much I wish that was my life. If there was a Skyrim/Middle Earth hybrid that existed (probably without Mordor though?) that’d be ideal. Thanks.
This is also why I will probably always be reluctant to start playing Fallout, and when I do, I won’t love it as much as Skyrim. Sorry Alan.

So anyway, this Ikea collection is *really* perfect, and it makes me regret every purchase we’ve ever made in our home. Except the couch I guess can stay. No, our furnishings are great. I just wish this series had been around before. We don’t have anything that is that exposed knotty pine.
dining dining2 post sideboard
What I love about this collection especially is what it excludes. This is serious no-nonsense furniture. It’s solid, practical design.

Now…If I were going to choose where I’d live in Skyrim, without hesitation I’d say Whiterun. One time I said I’d want to live in Markarth and Alan said he would too, but I didn’t really mean it, and I felt trapped. (LOL)
Skyrim-BreezehomeAnd If I could, I would update the house just a little bit:
e0b39657aa73d8ee0eba9ad7a1416bd4If Whiterun had a coffee shop and wifi I’d be set for life (they already have a bar).

Go ahead and laugh at me now.