Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New digs

geranium boxes, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a new and improved blog was on the way. It has finally arrived. Please point your browsers to http://www.themetaphoricalmagpie.com/.

I'm very excited about the new design, courtesy of Sweets, and having my own domain name. I hope you'll take the time to join me there in the future.

A hearty thank you to all of you who stopped here at my blogspot site for the past two years. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of you taking time out of your days to peek into my nest.

Madamoiselle Magpie

Friday, July 28, 2006

I'm just swell

Or swollen really. According to my doctor. Poking his finger into my leg and booty, I was squealing. He sent me off to the hospital for an immediate ultrasound of my leg yesterday fearing I had a reoccurence of a clot. That test came out negative. I'm relieved about that. Who wants to spend a week in the hospital hooked up to an IV of Heparin followed by weeks of bed rest and months of blood thinnners? Been there done that. Evidently, I've got serveral kinds of inflammation going on. He mentioned bursitis and another kind I didn't catch the name of as he shooed me out the door to get the test done. I'm supposed to do a round of an anti inflammatory to clear things up. Of, course the pharmacy didn't have it in stock so I have to wait until after work tonight to pick it up. Last time I was at the chiropracter, I noticed a article posted on the bulletin board about artificial sweeteners being to blame for chronic inflammation, asthma and other conditions. Aspartame feels like poison to me so I don't eat it. But Splenda is another story. I carry my trusty little yellow packets with me everywhere I go. I'm considering giving it up. Although, if I do it while I'm on the medicine I won't know if that is the culprit. Sweets is in production this week for the magazine he art directs. So I had dinner alone and lounged around in the evening. When he came home, he worked on the map of Philadelphia he's designing for the next issue. I made a card. We're a funny pair. Both creative but totally on different planes. I'm at my desk like a little kid with my bucket of various scissors and glue sticks. He's at his rocking his Mac. It's so nice to be able to work in the same space together. The studio has become our favorite room in the house.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The body strikes back

I've been dreaming of having some time off. Relaxation is so rare. We're working on a trip to California in the fall. I'm hoping for some girly day trips with the bad girl posse before then. Today, I find myself unexpectedly at home. In pain. For days, my lower back and hip have hurt. I tried a muscle relaxer and Aleve with minimal relief. Yesterday, I called to make an appointment for tomorrow morning. Last night, I was up from 3 to 7 am unable to sleep. There is pain radiating from the small of my back that wraps around my hip to my groin. My leg feels tender and inflamed. Even my foot hurts. While I was up, I was finally able to catch up on the last three episodes of the ER season. (Wow. that season finale really packed in the drama, huh?) I'm wiped out today. I feel best laying on my stomach. Not much I can really do from that vantage point. Hopefully, the doctor's office can squeeze me in this afternoon. The hypochondriac in me is raging full force. WebMD hints at Sciatica? Rheumatoid Arthritis? This isn't a new pain for me. When I thought about it this week, I can remember having flare ups like this on a monthly basis for the past five years. Once you have a pain, it's easy to accept it and carry it with you. Sweets is a few years younger than I am. He's almost always feeling good. I feel like an old lady with a trick hip, a blood clotting disorder and more. This week I realized I'm tired of being in pain. So, after three days of putting it off I called the doctor. And now my body is telling me, I've probably put myself off for too long.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Self portrait as ... hydrangea

as hydrangea, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

I had so many ideas for the Self Portrait Challenge this month. It's such a drag that time was so scarce. The day I shot this, I planned to do a self portrait as... Yulia Tymoshenko. Although, I'd hazard a guess that most people aren't as up on Ukranian politics as I have to be as a journalist. Yulia is one of those girl crushes I get every once in a while. During the rise of President Victor Yushchenko, Yulia was always at his side. Looking as if she stoicly bore the load, never faltering, as his looked grim and pale. Today, she's a force to be reckoned with as a paliament leader in Ukraine, disarming with her girlish hairstyle, pearls and peter pan collars. I love the juxtaposition of power and femininity.

Anyway, back to the point. i got my hair all braided up, grabbed my camera along with all my work things and ran out into the garden for a quick photo shoot before work. And suddenly, my shoot morphed into me being a hydrangea instead. One of my favorite flowers, I feel a kinship to them. Not tolerant of full sun, easily dehydrated, big blooms faceted with hundreds of subtly shaded petals. At this time of year, I will often veer from my path to admire a hydrangea in a yard or a park. There are four in my garden now and I hope to add more. A few weeks ago, a scheduling conflict prevented me from going to an open house at Heronswood at Fordhook Farms in Doylestown, PA. Luckily, you can shop online.With prices starting around $13 a plant, the value is excellent and the selection is incredible. If you have even a passing interest in hydrangeas, this site will have you all swoony and reaching for your charge card and spade.

As I write this, I am sipping coffee and nibbling on buttered cinnamon raisin toast while sitting out on the back deck. I can see two lacecap hydrangeas and monarch butterflies swirling around the yellow and purple buddleia bushes. Wish I could spend the whole day here just watching my garden grow. For an alternate version on my self portrait look here. For more from the Self Portrait Challenge gang here.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Won't you help me blow out the candles?

storyland6, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, my little Magpie.
Happy Birthday to you!

Today the Metaphorical Magpie celebrates its second birthday. My first post reported on the Siren Fest in Coney Island, my imaginings about Rhett Miller and italian ices. I went to this year's Siren Fest over the weekend.

This would be a good time to acknowledge some of the bloggers that inspired me at the beginning to start one of my own. In the beginning, there was Alex the Girl. I was quickly drawn into her world and fascinated as she posted entries that were poignant, rencanted and took them down and then did it again and again. Her European take on living in the US is always interesting. One of her most recent posts indicates she's taking a break for a while from blogging about her life and focusing on living it. An admirable pursuit, although I think she'll be back in one way another soon enough. Next came, Not Martha who taught me how to make glass magnets and gives me updates on the city I feel homesick for without ever living there, Seattle. When I first started blogging, I really didn't know what the site was going to become I thought it was going to be almost all about music. The Modern Age was just getting hot and her posts often got me aggravated. Especially when we'd been to the same shows. But I'm not about keeping up the Jones's or the scenesters that refer to themselves as "we" to sound more authoritative. So I've stuck to what I know -me -and what I like- lots of super duper nice things.

This year I joined Self Portrait Challenge which opened me up to a plethora of interesting and wonderful people. Many of them are listed in my links. The community I've found there and the blogs it leads me to continue to educate, nourish and delight me. Many thanks to those of you who stop by here and offer kind words or just take the time to pop in every once in a while to check in on me.

To celebrate my second anniversary online, I'll be launching a new and improved site. I splurged and purchased my very own domain name. Sweets has been toiling for months on a redesign. Some last minute technical difficulties are keeping us down. I had a bit of a pout fest last night when I realized all was not well. Hopefully the situation will sort itself out soon. Stay tuned for the launch.

Isn't the cake photo teriff? Believe it or not, it used to be right in my neighborhood. A theme park called Storyland Village once abutted my small neighborhood. Torn down before my time to make way for a Sears and now a Shop-Rite. More photos of Storyland are here at the Imaginary world site. There was similar park that my grandparents took me to as a child. I remember picnicing under a cake like that.

Monday, July 17, 2006

...but I don't wanna go to bed

It's 3 am. I'm still wide awake and I have Mod Podge all over my fingers. The weekend has definitely made up for the ick and angst filled week. Friday night, I had some free time and ended up spending it at the grocery store. Which is really one of my favorite ways to relax. Really, it is. Did you know Jolly Time is making popcorn in marshmallow and carmel apple flavors? You can only know this stuff if you spend quality time cruising the aisles. We only needed toilet paper and baking soda. Somehow I forgot to pick up a box of baking soda. But I came home with lots of fun food. Fox's U-Bet black cherry syrup for homemade cherry cokes. The above mentioned popcorn. Mac n Cheese shaped like bugs. Ice cream cones by Joy conveniently big enough to hold a sundae. On Saturday the Bad Girl Posse (and the Good Boy) convened on Coney Island to see Siren Fest. It sprinkled rain the whole drive there and for the first few minutes we were there. Then it cleared up. Luckily it wasn't as hot as originally forecasted. We caught Tapes + Tapes, The Stills, Art Brut, and some of Scissor Sisters and Stars. I was more interested in people watching than the lineup. We split up at Nathan's to eat. Sweets and I went for hot dogs and fries. Cyndemouse and J-Po stood in the seafood line for the ENTIRE Art Brut set. Sweets and I waited in line, ate and walked around and the poor girls were still waiting. Note to Nathan's: "Get another cashier on the shrimp line. Thanks." We scored some Italian ice on the boardwalk before leaving. I mixed pistachio and spumoni. The pistachio was so good I wish I had gone just for that flavor. After the festival, we went over to Williamsburg to meet Talulah and the Divine Mr. M at Metropolitan. Then we headed home sleepily. I went to bed after 3 am last night, too. Struck with the urge to bake muffins on Sunday, I made good use of a pint of blueberries in the fridge. Sweets' mom carried a Pampered Chef stoneware muffin pan in her luggage all the way from Indiana for me when they visited last month. This was the first time I've had the chance to use it. I'm looking forward to getting it seasoned and using it alot more. During breakfast we worked on the crossword puzzle in New York magazine and read bits from the New York Times that I brought home earlier in the week. I got inspired by an article about getting rid of the grass in your front yard and planting an "edible estate" in its place. Basically, you rip out the grass and put in corn, watermelons, heirloom tomatoes or whatever gets you hungry. Our front yard is about 75 percent grass free already. We were talking just last week about redesigning so it's entirely perennial beds. Now, I'm going to think hard about tucking some veggies in there, too. The rest of the day, we spent driving around to county parks looking for... you guessed right..a wedding location. We visited four parks. And attempted another that we couldn't find the entrance for. One of them. Holmdel Park, has promise. It has a lake surrounded by weeping cherry and crabapple trees which should be in bloom in the time range we're looking to set the date. I've been really against an outdoor ceremony because of the chance of rain. This place got me excited enough to vow to buy an umbrella for every guest if it means we can have our ceremony under a canopy of cherry blossoms. We have a few more places to check out before we make the final decision. I'm hopeful we can find a spot and set the date by the end of the month. It was 96 degrees today. Driving around with the top down was super duper hot. Good thing we brought a thermos of iced tea. We had to take two tea breaks. And an ice cream stop. Then it was getting late so we grabbed dinner out. Sweets wanted fish and I was up for pizza. He had the perfect solution and steered toward 507 Main in Belmar. They have a pizza loaded with crabmeat and shrimp. We also ordered a calzone filled with pesto, shrimp and fresh mozzarella. Since I've been home, I've been working on a homemade item for a pretty bird swap with JEK. Which is why I have Mod Podge on my fingers. I also started to work on putting aside some things for the Paper Scraps swap I signed up for on Swap-Bot. I'd really like to host a swap of my own sometime soon. Until then there are plenty to keep me occupied or wishing I could play along. I've got my eye on the Bottle Swap. I may not be able to resist that one. Resisting sleep probably isn't the best plan either. So off I go to hug a dog or two and a super cute boy, too.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Worn out

I've been so sleepy this week. On Monday morning, before I got out of bed, I croaked "I wish I had another day to chill out." Sweets smiled at me and said "that sounds familiar. You say that every Monday." It seems that I'm always rushing around and never have time to just relax. Have no plans or obligations. I've been feeling so envious of people with time to relax, create and enjoy themselves. Over the weekend, our neighborhood had a block party. The girl that lives across the street noted that she never seems me. It makes me sad that I don't get to spend much time at home. Work takes me out of the house for about twelve hours a day. When I get home, it's between 10 and 11 pm. Sweets has already been home for three hours and he wants to spend time with me. Of course, I do want to see him and talk about our day. It's just that I want some time to do stuff for myself, too. He gets to go to the movies, watch tv, read. I feel jipped. Carving out time for myself is my biggest struggle. On Saturday, I went to the green market in Union Square while I was in New York City. All the produce was exciting. I brought home bunches of rainbow chard, golden beets and garlic scapes. While at the market, I envisioned photographing all the produce the following morning. Then I'd cook up a delicious meal and photograph that, too. On Sunday, by the time we went to see a possible wedding location, had lunch, grocery shopped and worked in the yard, I was so pooped. We made watermelon margaritas thinking they would be refreshing. Sweets fell asleep and I ended up awake but exhausted and with a bellyache. No photo taking for me. Although, I did cook. I sauteed up some bacon with the garlic scapes and wilted the rainbow chard in the pan. The gold beets turned into a risotto. After Sweets woke up he grilled up some chicken breasts for me. There was enough leftovers to have several days of packed lunches. He's been experimenting with wraps in the evening. Best one so far had mango chutney, cheese and chicken. Today I tossed together some salads for our lunches. So, we've been eating pretty good this week. Which is not always the case. If I don't cook on the weekend, it' s not happening. I had the urge to bake the other night but it was late. How do I get more time? That is the question I need to find an answer for.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Haiku free-for-all results

Entries were few this time around. I'm attributing that to the holiday week. Usually, more of my co-workers at the newspaper participate. Unfortunately, our state government was shut down for a few days over an impasse on the budget. That kept all of us extremely busy. Not the best environment for creativity. So without further ado... here are the results... in october crisp don't wear any underwear yet frost may persist Tiffany Laine De Mott Whether with ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard or salt, I like freedom fries. Michael Etz one day freedom will come home to roost inside the walls of my purple garden Amystery written in the fibonacci style. - Fancy! In the mightiest of temples the tiniest gnat flies unfettered Joel Pisetzner (also refered to as "The Editor" on this blog) The next two are both by me: Run up my freak flag I'll dance in the produce aisle Wave at onlookers Open to failure Bombing never looked so good Doing is enough The last three are all by Glenn Redus: Truths self-evident: blistered weenies on the grill lemonade, ice cream Most on July Fourth will have picnics, fireworks, sex. Me? I'll write headlines On July the Fourth our forefathers told the king to go fuck himself When I sent out the call for entries, one reply was hilarious. "I'd rather rub Haiku in my hair. No thanks." For those of you who are interested in or are new to haiku and want to know more a good site to cruise around is One Deep Breath. It gives you a weekly theme to work on. �

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Just about sick of ice cream

snacks, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

I'm about to dash out the door, uncharacteristically early in the day. I've got a photo assignment to shoot in New York City. I took on a freelance job shooting ice cream. I've gained at least five pounds doing it. Tomorrow is my last shoot. I don't want to say too much about who the job is for yet. I want to make sure they like the photos ans they get used before I start talking. Crossing my fingers they'll be happy with what I submit.
After I'm done with the shoot, I get to spend some time with Talulah. Yeah! I'ts her birthday week. Not sure what we'll do besides put our heads together and giggle like mad.

Tomorrow Sweets and I are going to tour an old theater in our area as a possible wedding location.

Have a fun weekend.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A thought on my pillow

lakecrescent, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

I've extended the deadline for the haikus until Saturday. Won't you play along? Come on pretty, please. Impress me with your syllabic stylings.

My first for this round...

Open road, best friend
Stop: Listen to late night rain
Embrace this moment

I came across a new place to participate in poetry challenges today while running through blogs that participate in Self Portrait Challenge. The Poetry Thursday site posts a suggested theme on Mondays and you post a poem on your blog on Thursdays. Seems to be kismit, I came to the site on a Thursday through Amystery who participates in both Self Portrait Challenge and Poetry Thursday. Her SPC this week was beautiful. I've been running around for sixteen hours today either shooting photos for a freelance job, editing photos at work for tomorrow's newspaper, or uploading to and browsing Flickr beginning immediately after I came home. I need an isolation tank. And some cucumber slices for my baggy peepers.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

... as beauty regime reject

beauty regime reject, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

I hang somewhere in the ether between the girlie girl and the tomboy. Constantly on the go, I don't have time to stop to check my face and fix my hair. Once I leave he house, that's it. And I rarely spend too long fussing in the mirror before I dash out the door.
Over the years, I've tried hot rollers to put in a curl, the press to take it out and most recently a diffuser to encourage my natural waves. I think I've bothered to blow dry twice this summer.
I've got a facial mask on here for the portrait. It's not really part of my routine. First, let me tell you what I don't do:
Wash the makeup off my face at night
Drink eight glasses of water a day
Get my beauty sleep
Brush my teeth three times a day
floss my teeth- ever
get my waxing down regularly enough
curl my lashes

I'm pretty low maintenance. Two or three times a week I'll shampoo. Lately, I've been using solid shampoos by Lush. Right now I'm using their Ultimate Shine shampoo bar but it's not as fragrant as some of the others like Seanick or Irresistible Bliss. Followed with whatever conditioner is on hand. Currently it's Paul Mitchell Color Protect Daily Conditioner. My face enjoys the tingles from Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser. Soap is one of the only things I am truly snobby about. I haven't used grocery store soap in eons. Usually there are two or three different bars in the dish because I get impatient and want to try something new. For a splurge, I like Claus Porto bars that are a whopping 12 oz each and last for a very long time. I've got my sights on trying out COPA soaps. When I run across their booth at a craft fair, I'll buy at least six bars and spend time stopping people to tell them how hard this soap rocks while the shopkeeper watches me incredulously. What can I say, I like their soap. Especially, the Heather Mint and Ginger Carrot.
I don't use toner or moisturizers except maybe in the dead of winter.
My makeup routine is fast. I used to spend lots more time on makeup. Now I have it down to the bare basics. A quick swipe of MAC Studio Fix foundation. Been using it for years. Last year, I tried Nars after being lured by seeing it in all the fashion mags. It was more expensive, didn't last as long and didn't work as well for me as the MAC. Then a dusting of MAC Gingerly powder blush. On cooler days than the ones we're in now, I swear by L'Oreal Double Extend Lash Extender & Magnifier Mascara . You can see a variety of MAC eyeshadows and a few random ones there on the tray behind me. I don't wear them often. The days of applying three colors, artfully blended are long gone. The past few months, I've been hooked on Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm. For a girl on the go, Sephora Jumbo lip pencils are perfect. And cheap at $5.
That's about it. It gets me out the door. Which I have to make a mad dash for right now.

Look for more of this month's theme: Self Portrait as ... at Self Portrait Challenge.

The Pace/Mac Gill Galley in New York City is currently running an exhibit called selportraitr: curating the Flickr.com community. If you can't make it to the gallery, that's okay. There is a nifty slideshow feature at the site. I've been leaving it on for a while as background on my laptop. I spotted an image by fellow Self Portrait Challenge member Kim from Something to Say.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Do you haiku?

I haven't been talking much about poetry since April which was National Poetry Month. High time to correct that. After a smattering of interest in another round of the Sort-of-Seasonal Haiku Free-for-All, I've decided to host yet another seasonally appropriate haiku event. In honor of Independence Day, I suggest the theme Freedom. Interpret that however you see fit. To keep things simple we'll using the most common haiku rules. A haiku is Seventeen syllables written in three lines divided into 5-7-5. Punctuation is not necessary. Haikus are ridiculously easy to write and more addictive than soduku once you get started. Multiple entries welcome. Feel free to invite others to participate. Email me your submissions at metaphoricalmagpie(at)yahoo(dot)com or in the comments by Thurs. July 6. I'll collect and post them on Fri. July 7. There may even be a PRIZE for participants. Keeping the 5-7-5 alive, Your haiku hostess

Thursday, June 29, 2006


jetty, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

After what feels like a few months of not listening to anything but podcasts, Sweets picked up some new CDs. The Racounteurs is way better than I anticipated. Brendan Benson's touch is everywhere and I'm loving it. Sweets is listening to Under the Iron Sea by Keane but it's a bit too mellow for me.
We're both crazy about News and Tributes, the sophomore effort from The Futureheads. The song "Skip to the End" is perfect to drive around to with the breeze flapping your hair. "Decent Days and Nights (Shy Child Remix)" makes me want to get all fulla gin and dance til dawn. The song that has totally taken over Sweets's brain is "Back to the Sea." He's singing it to himself incessantly. Which is why I love this photo from last weekend. As I look at it, I hear him singing "I don't want to go back to tthe sea, whatevers pulling you isn't pulling me." Like a million times over. But in a good way. (Follow any of the links above to Amazon and you can hear snippets of the songs.)

A couple things coming up have me excited. Complacent Nation s throwing some intriguing parties this summer. This weekend is Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang described as "Two floors, 15,000sqft. and a labyrinth of secret corners and massive delights ...explore this outsized playground for the giddy and delirious... Featuring a free bar-b-que, live bands, fresh art, voyeur-video projections, stilt walkers, fireworks and two of the tightest sound-systems this side of the East River...Plus live voyeur photos and video projections by Berlin�s top vj artist Benno Klandt, cupcake and tea lounge." Sounds like my kind of party and it's only $10. Hmmm.
If we don't make that one, there is always the Siren Music Festival hosted by the Village Voice in Coney Island. Siren is the bomb diggity. It's free! Rub sunscreen on your ghostly pallor and elbows with the indie stars of tomorrow! You can ride that beastly Cyclone rollercoaster or the marvelous Wonder Wheel while simultaneously bopping your hipster head to on of the following acts:

And if all that still isn't enough, head up to the boardwalk to salsa dance with complete strangers, nibble on corn cobs, shoot paintballs at freaks and have a drink at Ruby's.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Perspex princess: Self Portrait Challenge

birthday girl2, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

Determined to catch at least ONE week of this month's challenge, this is the result. If you know me well, you'll know that modern art irks me quite a bit. You will here me saying things like "that is just stupid" or "I don't get it." Call me literal but I don't want to read an explanatory treatise on a piece so I can understand it. I want to "get it" when I look at it. Sweets is a big fan of the modern and post-modern movements. Over the weekend, we spent some time looking at some of his favorite pieces by David Salle.
I didn't walk away from the talk liking the work but it got my wheels turning. Which is one of art's primary purposes.

For this image, I took the photo taken on my birthday earlier this month and encased myself in plastic. I did this out of my urge for self preservation. Here I am on the cusp of crows feet, gray hairs and child birth. Capture it. Another reason for the plastic is that we are living in this plastic environment. We are a plastic generation. We pump it into our boobs and lips to look more attractive. Goods are cheap, plastic made for pennies in awful conditions. And we like it because it's cheap and disposable and we're constantly filling our maws with more, more, more stuff whether we need it or not. I'm even wearing some of this stuff, draped in the fun bling that my friend, Janice, gave me to wear for the day.

I don't really want to preserve myself to protect my body from what nature has in store for it. And I'm certainly not going to inject in my body. But wearing a little plastic bling once a year... What's the harm?

Look For more from the Self Portrait Challenge tribe here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Back with a blue vengeance

blue typewriter, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

Sorry I was incommunicado there for a wee bit. Everything was going at such a breakneck speed there for a while. Once the crush passed, I took a full weekend to relax. Evidently, relaxing is like riding a bike. You do remember how to do it no matter how long it's been since you last tried.

The flurry of activity around here was preparing the house for a visit by Sweets' parents and our engagement party. We were pretty much cleaning and prepping until moments before they arrived. Hopefully, they couldn't tell that when they walked into the guest suite. The ceiling fan cooled the air, fresh flowers greeted them from the bureau, new linens invited them to rest for a while. The room came out so nice, I'm tempted to move in there. (Better book a visit soon before I get it all messy.)

We had a really nice visit with the parents. Sweets took them on a tour of the Jersey Shore. Stops were made at some of our favorite restuarants: Barnacle Bill's in Rumson, Nagles in Ocean Grove, Cold Creme in Belmar for gelato, Strollo's for Italian ices. We all went into New York City one day. We took a driving tour up Central Park West and down 5th Ave. I pointed out the sights as we went along. "On your left the Dakota Building where John Lennon was shot, on your right the New York Public Library and Rockefeller Center, to the left Trump Towers." We parked near the Empire State Building so Sweet's dad could take a look at it. Then we introduced them to Korean cuisine for lunch in Little Korea. Next their first ride on a subway down to Union Square. We shopped around. I wanted his Mom to see one of my favorite stores, ABC Carpet and Home. Then we popped into City Bakery for cocoa, coffee and cookies.

I hope we were able to show them what our life here is all about and that we are lovingly preparing for our future together. It must be hard when a child moves far away. Hopefully, they'll be able to imagine what Sweets is up to better now that they got to see his favorite haunts and our home. We go back to Indiana to visit them for Thanksgiving.

The engagement party went swell. It was about 90 degrees out but other than that everyone enjoyed themselves. It was so nice for the families to meet now before the wedding next year. And especially nice to see some of my old, dear and farflung friends' faces. My mother was right about the cake. It was delish. Here's a photo of us cutting it.

After a week of hostessing, I was pooped. A rainy weekend was the perfect excuse to do a whole lot of not much. Saturday morning we picked up the dogs from the kennel. We all camped out on the couch. The dogs napped. We read and watched tv. Went out for ice cream and the late showing of Nacho Libre. Yesterday we shopped for thank you cards and then drove around the oceanfront looking for wedding locations. Making stops to frolic on the beach, take a somewhat outlaw tour of the Convention Hall on Asbury Park and eat more ice cream. Finished off the night with Woody Allen's Matchpoint on dvd.

Free time leads to craft time. I finally had the time to experiment with freezer stencils. It's so easy to do and they come out terrific. I'm working on a project for Cyndemouse's birthday and my Coloriffic swap partner. Then i might go bonkers and stencil everything I own.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Monkey business

Who doesn't love super good surprise mail? Or monkeys? Who dares to say they don't care for monkeys? The masterminds over at Careerbuilder.com have this cool Monk-e-mail that is totally hilarious. You can dress a chimp up with various hairdos, outfits and accessories. Then you tell them what to say to your friends. I received one as a birhday greeting last night from my fabulous pal Benjamin who hails from Arkansas but is spreading Southern hospitality all across Thailand these days. Go play with a monkey. Send a message to all your friends. Or just send one to me at metaphoricalmagpie@yahoo.com Yesterday, birthday fun was had. J-Po presented me with a birthday girl tiara, rings and necklaces that might be for little girls normally. But that didn't stop us from sashaying all over proudly wearing the birthday bling. Our waiter at lunch didn't even bat an eye. Hmmm, I must try to work a tiara into my ensemble more often. We noshed. We dished. She gave me the cutest presents - a cherry pattern apron, tea towels and potholder with happy bluebirds and a sweater with embroidered birds. Plus a goodie bag. She spoiled me rotten. Our fun came to an end when she had to go to work. So I went off on my own. Had my ring fixed. The prong is back in place but the setting still has a scuff on it. In a way, I think that's best. I was so worried I was going to mess up my ring, I was constantly taking it on and off to do chores. Now that I've royally dinged it, I feel like it's really mine. Dinged a little but still shiny and happy. Then I spent some quality time browsing around Joann's Fabrics. I REALLY need to learn how to sew. That place is so inspiring. I got a few things for my swap partner in the brown and blue themed July Coloriffic Swap-o-rama and some supplies for me. A whole fistful of beads to play with. I also got some stencil brushes on clearance. I want to try those freezer paper stencils I've been drooling over on Little Birds and other blogs of craft.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Birthday girl lounging

My birthday has arrived with far less fanfare than I usually put into it. We've been so into fixing up the house and having an engagement party. My birthday has fallen by the wayside. I told my family we can just lump it into the party on Sunday. Sweets gave me a darling card this morning and has two gifts that he is making me with his own little hands that aren't quite done because of all that we've been doing around here. The first item is a complete new redesign for the Metaphorical Magpie. I can't wait to show it off. Hopefully one day soo you'll stop by and see it looking all spiffy and new. The other present is really special, too. I collect handblown glass balls that I pick up along my travels. They used to be displayed in a kitchen window. When I redesigned the kitchen in 2004, I opted for a light fixture over the work station instead of the balls. So they've been boxed up. Sweets is building a box that matches the cabinets in our studio. The box will mount on the ceiling over the cabinet closest to the stairwell. The balls will hang right in the area you see as you look into the room from the landing. Another thing I can really look forward to enjoying for a very long time. We'll have the luxury of dinner together this evening. Working nights makes that a very rare occurrence. The phone started ringing early with birthday wishes this morning. ME woke me up to sing "Happy Birthday Ray-Ray" on his way to work. Then my sister and mom. There were ecards and emails. J-Po and I are heading out to a girly lunch in a little bit. We ran out of coffee yesterday. So I'm looking forward to a fancier than usual cuppa and a snack. A day goes by so fast! I need to get my engagement ring fixed today. The plan to do it on Saturday was dashed when I had to unexpectedly rent a truck to pick up the furniture. I hope to have some time to wander around a nursery looking for some annuals for the planters around the deck. Maybe browsing for some new beads and craft supplies. I'm just happy to have a day that I don't have to work or do anything else I don't want to do. Time is the best gift I can give myself. Although I did slip in a new purse and nighty into the cart at Target over the weekend as a little birthday gift to me. And I made a bookmark for myself. I've been making them and giving them away for months. Figured I deserved one for myself. It's got a fun Asian fish charm on the end. Gotta go get my birthday girl, groove on. Have a good one!

Monday, June 12, 2006

The final stretch

I"m so worn out after this weekend, I want to go back to work to have a rest. On Saturday, I got up early in case the furniture was delivered or the Lenny, our contractor came by to finish installing the handrail upstairs. At 10:30 am I called Lenny. At 11:30 am I left Sweets at the house and went to the post office, bank, caterer and shopping for party plates. At 1 pm the manager of Habitat Humanity called to tell me they never deliver to where we live so they weren't coming. I damn near had a stroke right there in the dollar store. So I raced around trying to find a rental truck. It seems I found the most expensive place to do it. They charged $1.39 per mile plus the rental fee and insurance. We went 55 miles. Yikes. I went and rented the truck myself and then quickly after getting out of the road I realized I couldn't really see out the passenger window and the rear view on my side wouldn't adjust. A quick stop back at the house to hurry Lenny to finish up so Shawn could come with me and we were off. We had measured the couch at the store and the place we wanted to put it in the room upstairs. How we were going to get it up there hadn't come up. Luckily, as we pulled it out of the truck two of our lady neighbors were outside. They quickly came to our aid. Karen, our next door neighbor used to own a B&B so she has lots of experience getting big things into little spaces. With her guidance we managed to guide this monster into the t shaped hallway and up the stairs. After that, the six foot buffet was a piece of cake. To keep the momentum of finishing upstairs, we drove up to Ikea. Sitting in the restaurant, I could have taken a nap in my Swedish meatballs I was so worn out. But we pressed on for important shopping. I needed a desk. Sweets already has the Bjorkudden table so we decided to get a second one for me. We both need a chair and agreed we liked the Patrick swivel chair best but they were out of stock. Right now we're improvising with a cast off dining chair that was lurking in the basement. The Oppli tv stand caught our eye so we nabbed one. We also picked up a sweet little Lykta table lamp. We headed towards the checkout triumphant and then had to wait close to an hour to get out of there. Did I mention Ikea is having it's summer sale? UNfortunately nothing we bought was on sale. Grr.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Busy as a birdie?

birdy couple, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

Operating at warp speed here this week. The Self Portrait Challenge theme of Pop Art intrigued me but the only thing I had time to pop this week was the Aleve. We are STILL working on the house. Hopefully this weekend is the end of it. We have two new furniture pieces being delivered tomorrow by the Habitat for Humanity store. One super long 50's couch for the upstairs room which is shaping up nicely. A 60's modern buffet to fill in the gap in the living room left where the old bookshelves were. All this rearranging could be a full time job.

Work is super hectic now and will continue to be as we've taken on producing a sister paper from our office. Times in the newspaper biz are changing. Many papers are really hurting. We're not doing so bad but a bit of belt tightening is welcome in this climate.
Sweets parents arrive a week from tomorrow. I want to make a good impression. We've met before but this will be their first visit to our home. I want it to be a pleasurable and memorable visit.

To add to the complications, we are having what Sweets and I thought would be a small, intimate engagement party to introduce the two families and close friends. Next thing we know, we're being asked for registries and given lots of advice. Like we need coordinating tablecloths and paper goods, punch, catered food. I am not a newbie at entertaining. Somehow by terming this little shindig an "engagement party" a little primoridal light has gone off in everyone's head and the scene it lights includes centerpieces, punch, gift tables, finger foods. So it has gone abit astray from what we were envisioning but that's okay. We've quickly learned that even though we are told time and time again that getting married is about us. There really are lots of people putting in their two cents about what they think is ideal and proper. Sometimes you have to make other people happy, too.

My mother is now obsessed with cake. She's in charge of the cake for this party. Her idea of the perfect cake is not mine. As we were bickering, I realized she wants this to be special for me. Her idea of special may be slightly different than mine but what is truly special is that for what feels like the first time in my life she has taken an interest in me and wants to help me. So we went to a baker together and compromised. She lost on the fondant. I lost on the whipped cream. We compromised on weather appropriate buttercream. She won on the cake flavor. I won on the fillings. Together we chose the design. Round bottom layer, heart shaped top layer. I insisted on bluebirds of happiness as decorations. She chose yellow and lavender flowers.
We had breakfast afterwards and discussed catering. And disagreed on what to get. We'll have to give it some time. We're not used to getting along all the time. But we're trying.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Wanderlust or bust

Sometimes a girl gets so overwhelmed with working, working, working that she begins to yearn for a mini-break holiday as Bridget Jones would say. I've got no major vacations planned for this year and it's almost half over! We have looked into Austin City Limits or the Toronto Film Festival in September. I'm always up for a trip to the west coast, too. A few of my friends have had some amazing travels lately. I thought we could live vicariously through them for a moment. Seth is a photo editor that I work with at the paper. His girlfriend has been working in Taiwan for months. He got to go join her for a long visit last month. They have a cool website to prove it. The SPC crowd will love Seth and Pam's self portraits in the scrapbook section. I was going crazy over the bird market. The fish auction is all fancy schmancy with audio. Check out the fun they had. You're guaranteed to feel like you just had a mini-vacation. Ready for a trip to Japan? The photographer formally known as Dope, who now wishes to be known by his formal name, Brent Hirak, lived and worked in Japan for several years before enrolling in the graduate program at ASU. He's working furiously on finishing his last project Fallout, an exploration of his family. The series, Winter Passage, documents his latest trip back to Japan in January 2006. There are many more provacative images from Japan in his weekly Swellmilk series. Plus many self portraits for the SPC'ers to be inspired by. Perhaps Asia isn't your cup of tea? Another travelling couple, photographer, Michael Simon, and writer, Megan Lyles, have been travelling South America by bus for close to a year now and blogging about it almost daily. You can start reading from Day One on Megan's blog or catch up with the latest post. Or just go for the visuals on Michael's. I enjoy checking in on their progress periodically. Last time I checked, they were eating guinea pigs in Peru. Yikes.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Boo boos and bling bonk

It's been raining like a mofo here on and off all week. Makes perfect sense to leave my umbrella in the car. When I left the office tonight it was coming down in sheets. I decided to make a mad dash for the parking garage. Next thing I knew I was flying through the air. Quickly making hard contact with the pavement and a puddle. My lunch container flew from my hand and landed about ten feet away. My purse next to me and laptop bag behind me. Both my knees were bashed up and bleeding. My left hand was all scraped up. That's bad enough but it gets worse. A big chunk of sequins are missing from the toe of one of my sparkly shoes. It gets worse. The first thing I checked before I even got up from the ground was my engagement ring. It was there. When I was driving home I realized it felt sharp. Stopped at a light, I realized a prong was missing. After further inspection I found it's actually rammed over into another prong. There are also some scratches on the band where it hit the cement. Platinum is evidently not impervious to pavement. Crappers. I feel like a complete dolt. The good news is that the diamond is intact. I'm so glad we took my sister's advice about six prongs. Falling down majestically at the office is one of my specialties. Last fall, I fell down a few stairs and launched myself into the business department, landing at the feet of an editor there. There's a scar on the knuckle of my middle finger from that one. This fall added a scrape on my left knee next to a scar that I've had since I fell off the step of Grams' shed when I was little. Did I mention I've fallen down the stairs at every school I've ever attended? At home, too. We're going to add a stop at the jewelers to our errands tomorrow. I am crossing my fingers that they say "oh, don't worry, honey, this kind of thing happens to girls all the time. We'll fix you up straight away." I wish. I wish. I wish.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fun Facts about Moi: Self Portrait Challenge

sun in my eyes, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

Today's introduction for Self Portrait Challenge is random, free forrm and written in seven minutes. Ready?

I didn't drink coffee until I was 30. Now I have some just about every day. Cafe Dumonde in New Orleans converted me. I still haven't gotten to trying beer yet.

After about five minutes in the sun you can visibly see me getting sunburnt. If that happens, please remind me I haven't bothered to put on any sunblock.

My house is always messy. Piles of papers and magazines on the table. The most recently thrifted acquisitions by the door. I wish I was neat.

I swear I cannot swim. My mother swears she taught me how. I don't go in water without adult supervision unless it's the shower, a sprinkler or a hot tub.

I am a multi-tasker, always trying to do two things at once. Eat and read. Watch tv and read. Drive and eat.

I procrastinate. I tell myself I work much better under pressure. I like to refer to this as "running down the clock." I meet multiple deadlines every night at work. Personally, I tend to let them slide. That's why I've got to be brief today. My taxes on the house are overdue. (This is not the first time I've done this either, I'm afraid.)

I like to rock out in the car while driving. Recently it's been to Pearl Jam, The Beatles, Ben Kweller, and The Magic Numbers. That's when I don't have The Greenhornes CD in on repeat for days on end,

If I could eat only one type of cuisine every day til the end of time it would have to be Indian.

That's all I have time for. (Actually, I've gone over the allocated time limit I set. So predictable.) I'm off to see the disapproving tax department lady and then on to work. Wish I could keep going with this days off thing instead.

For a peek at more revelations during the last week of the introduction theme, visit Self Portrait Challenge. Next month's theme is Pop Art.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Poppies for Memorial Day

my poppies, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

It's Memorial Day weekend here at the Jersey Shore. Which means the invasion by summer folk has begun. The parkway is jammed with traffic. The aisles of Target are clogged with kiddies in need of swimmies and super soakers. I always prefer Labor Day weekend when the weather is bliss and the "bennies" as we call them are packing up for home.

We're up to our eyeballs in work here this weekend. We started renovating the space upstairs exactly one year ago. Friday night and Saturday afternoon, we did the last of the painting. Work supplies had to come downstairs. Vacuuming was done. Everything was wiped down again to pick up errant dust. Last night, halfway up the staircase holding the tail end of a heavy table I just started beaming because we were FINALLY putting furniture up there. Sweets set up his Mac and speakers. The new floor was just crying out to be danced on so I shimmied to Brian Jonestown Massacre. We found spots on the shelves for our collection of vintage typewriters and cameras.
It's not totally complete yet but it's done enough to feel done and that feels good after working on it for a year. We'll still need curtains, a rug and a work table for my laptop and crafts. Oh, goodie. Now we get to shop!

I did take a break on Saturday night to go see Pearl Jam with Cyndemouse again. In Albany we had first row. Camden was second row but we ended up in the first row by the end of the night. The light was way better for pictures. I've got about 700 frames to sift through. Will post some soon.

We spent Sunday afternoon celebrating my oldest nephew's seventh birthday. It was the first kids party without Grams. This year there will be so many firsts of this kind and they all make me sniffly for a while. I miss her every day.

Today is the last day of the much coveted three day weekend. It proves to be action packed. Still more small things to paint, lawn to mow, deck furniture to wipe down, groceries shopped for. Later on we'll have some conviviality to celebrate the birthdays of JPo and her twin sis. We've all been claiming to be 29 for so long, I honestly couldn't tell you how old they are. Maybe we should just start counting how many mojitos we can put away.

Hope your summer season is starting with a bang and not as work filled as mine!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Foreword: Self Portrait Challenge

book babe, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

The first thing I remember becoming passionate about in my life is books. I learned to read with ease and quickly surpassed my schoolmates. In the first grade, I found I could read the same passage at least three times over before the others finished for the first time. Reading isn't about speed, of course, but when you have a voracious appetite it certainly helps.
As a girl, my Nana and Grams fed my addiction to books. Buying me gorgeous illustrated copies of Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I had the whole collection of Little House on the Prarie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The series of shoe books, ballet shoes, theater shoes etc. I dabbled with the girl sleuths Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.
Around the fourth grade, I got a public library card and then there was no stopping me. Mrs, Dudas, the librarian, would special order books from the main branch for me or put aside new books that she thought I would enjoy. When I tried to check out The Good Earth that year she protested. My mother wrote her a note instructing her not to censor what I read. After that, I was free to roam the adult room and read everything they had by Pearl S. Buck. The first book I stayed up all night to read was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Can't count how many times that has happened since.
In high school, I walked around with a backpack full of books that were not for school. Had to have my Dostoyevsky on hand at all times! Besides the Dickens, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Melville I was assigned, my personal reading list grew and grew.
So has my book collection. I really try not to buy many books unless they are reference materials. I will read a novel in a day or two. So I favor the library, although my town's library is pretty woeful. Working at The Paper gives me the advantage of bringing home review copies. I find myself reading random things I bring home. Usually, I am reading two books at once.
Right now I'm in the middle of The Evil B.B. Chow and Other StoriesM by Steve Almond. The title story was wickedly funny. I'm closer to the beginning of Birdsong: A Natural History by Don Stap. It's sucking me into the world of ornithologists trying to understand how birds learn to sing. Very fascinating stuff.

For more introductions to other SPTers, check in with Self Portrait Challenge for this week's installment. Or browse the photos in the Flickr group.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Seek and enjoy

I must admit to being addicted to my Webstat report. It tells me how many people stop by for a read, what countries they live in and what they were searching for. Since January 1st, there have been 270 search results. Today there was a awesome one. Some of the best keywords, in my opinion so far are as follows: 6. erotomania hypochondria 22. Stoli Greyhounds 30. \"asiatrash\" 36. sandra oh\'s nose job 41. rumson country day school rummage sale 52. journey to the magic - metaphorical 59. \"most romantic thing said to me\" 75. natalie portman pantyhose 83. rude gynecologist office 108. dirty bong water shot 112. \"to wear one earring\" 125. cupcake franchise 136. felicity huppert 140. rachel popping balloons 154. the poem about the person who instant messaged someone about thei... 168. picture of reese witherspoon in hospital with a patient 171. terri hatcher in pantyhose 179. terri hatcher / sheer dress 180. blue shift freedom typewriter key 186. gifts for tonsillectomy patients 201. \"vote for\'\' slogans 226. \"appreciating small things\" 231. flickr photos hot couples Many of these have made me giggle. And you wouldn't believe you many times people look for photos of celebrities in sheer dresses or pantyhose. Er, creepy yuck. My favorite by far is 47. jack black butt cheeks. Obviously, there is one other person in the universe that appreciates that fine, foxy dude Jack Black as much as I do. These links are for you my friend. I'll see you in the theater opening night for Nacho Libre. You can save any of the photos there as your desktop. Get some sneak peeks in the Confessional or download the podcast from the Apple Music Store. Pay special attention to the following episodes: Waxed Jack, The Package and Got Wrastlin' To Do. Oh hell, just watch them all.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sticky situations

I was all set to put up a morose post all about the multitude of things that have brought me to tears in the past week. There's at least five. Luckily for you, I got an inspiring newsletter from Threadless that distracted me. They are partnering with Blik in a design contest. (Must bug Sweets to enter!) I've seen Blik products in Budget Living and Martha Stewart Kids in the past. When I took the time to check out their site; I was way impressed. They make these awesome wall graphics that are removable. For $25 - $50 you can really pep up a room fast. Perfect for renters or those of us that have decorating A.D.D. Pictured above are: Top row left: Sweet 16. $40 for 16 multi-colored dots. Top row center: Bring me the Heads of hipsters in four packs in shades of gold and cocoa. $26. Top row right: Indulge your inner Austin Powers with a 10 pack of Paisley in shades of raspberry or mint. $45. Bottom row left: Don't Count on just using these numbers in the kid's room. Pack of 20 numbers for $45. Bottom row center: These darling Birds are only 1" wide and stick to glassware. Super duper bargain at $4.50 for 20 birds. Bottom row right: Express yourself with custom Prose. Here's a lil secret. Enter "THREADLESS" when you checkout online and get 15% off until June 1st. Another great, more permanent option for your walls can be had at Graham & Brown. The home and garden editor at the paper showed me a sample of their Transform window film recently. I am coveting the Charles Rennie Mackintosh design. They also have a Mondrian design and lots of frosted glass options for about $25 a roll. I quickly got sucked into their wallpapers. Now I'm trying to find a wall in the house to paper. It's hard to choose from all the lovely options. All are $30 a roll. Pictured here: Top row left: You can almost smell the heady bouquet of Flowering Rose designed by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway. Top row center: Axium reminds me of dandelions. Top row right: Escape into a private grove of trees with Solitude. Bottom row left: This flock of Butterflies makes my heart flutter. Designed by Kate Larsen. Bottom row center: Pink Donkey also by Kate Larsen would be perfect in a powder room. Bottom row right: My black and white tiled bathroom wouldn't know what hit it if Flower Power moved in. Make your walls happy and stick something to them soon.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A taste of who I am: Self Portrait Challenge

in the kitchen, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

Here I am in my kitchen. Probably my favorite place in the house. I saved for several years to redecorate it. I think it's perfect. What really makes it perfect though, is that it is my refuge. As many kitchens in my past have been over the years. In a kitchen, my worries disappear like steam over a simmering soup. I have lots of cookbooks but most times I'll be inspired by an ingredient and go from there. In this photo, I am making a mango salsa for a group of friends. Earlier in the day, I went to the farm market to buy produce. Back home, I slipped on a vintage apron and got to work in a patch of sunlight. Wielding a chefs knife. The air perfumed with mango and cilantro. My fingers sticky.
My grandfather was a chef. I spent countless hours watching him in the kitchen. He let me stay if I was quiet and stayed out from under his feet. I followed his instructions and marveled at the way he tested meat for doneness with his bare hands. He never used measuring cups or spoons. Every morning he rose long before I woke and went to work baking everything from scratch, planning menus, running a kitchen crew, feeding fancy country club people. It all seemed so magical to me. I saw how people reacted to the food he cooked. Pushing back in their chairs, eyes closed, sighs escaping. I enjoy pleasing people in the same way. Whether it's a dinner party for six, a dish at a potluck or just a simple supper at home; I try to make the meal memorable.
When I'm cooking I think about who I'm preparing the meal for. I keep in mind my friends dietary needs and preferences. No dairy for Cyndemouse. No meat for Talulah. Extra well done for J-Po. I think that the pots I use today once belonged to my grandparents. I wonder who once wore my apron. My thoughts are quiet and of things and people I love.
In the kitchen, I feel competent. Confident. As if what I'm doing is worthwhile. I don't always feel those things. But in my refuge, I'm all those things and more.

Things to note:
This photo was taken by that darling man, Brent Hirak, while visiting in July 2004.

Self Portrait Tuesday has morphed into Self Portrait Challenge. Look for more self portraits at the website and the Flickr group. This month's theme is "Introduce Yourself." Won't you try it yourself?

Three is a magic number

A three day weekend can be restorative. I actually slept all the way through last night. That hardly ever happens. Better than one long weekend? Two of them. I'll be going to Albany on Friday with Cyndemouse to see Pearl Jam. We'll knock around on Saturday before returning home. Sunday night, I'll be going to see Depeche Mode with Sweets and my sister. That's my kind of weekend. This last one was alot of work but very fulfilling. Sweets had a three day weekend, too but we had different days off. He put the floor down upstairs. Next step is molding. We are so close to being done up there. He also had time to put new grass seed in the backyard. We are diligently watering everyday. Someday soon the yard will be full of grass instead of dandelions, oniions and God knows what. I didn't have to watch my nephews yesterday after all. My brother-in-law ended up being home. So I had the day to myself. I watched Martha in bed with coffee and a bagel. Folded lots of laundry. Watered the lawn. Shopped for painting supplies, baby gifts and bird swap items. Cooked a yummy fish dinner. Watched Breakfast on Pluto. Slept like a log. Today is gray and I'd like to spend it watching the ER episodes piled up on the Tivo but a girl's gotta work. Until the next three day weekend...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Five Senses Friday- weekend edition

I attempted Five Senses Friday on Friday but the day was too hectic to get it done. The whole week went at warp speed. So here's my list as of right now: Sight: - Dead sparrow that appeared in the driveway, moved to the walk and disappeared all very mysteriously - Toothless smile on my oldest nephew. He lost both his front teeth at once last week. - A visit to the gorgeous Post Office in Newark, NJ to post my color-iffic swap package - logging into etsy and seeing my grandmother's face on the main page. I recently custom ordered pendants of Grams as Mother's Day gifts for my mother and aunt from brag bags. We liked the way they came out, so she put a photo up to show what could be done with her work. Snag one for yourself today! I'm anxiously awaiting their arrival in the mail. - Our new bookshelves are full of books. Cyndemouse said it looks like the Housing Works store. That is a FINE compliment. Smell: - Sweets has started wearing the Vera Wang for Men fragrance that I got him for his birthday - An odd, funky odor in the house that only I can smell. - a co-workers's lunch that smelled of cabbage - hot smell in the house that turned out to be from me stupidly putting a nonstick pot of water on the stove to boil and forgetting about it while watching tv. Almost burnt the house down. - pleasant wood smell as Sweets cut wood floor planks for the room upstairs. He finished yesterday. Yeah! Taste: - beef empanadas from Clara the nice lunch truck lady - coconut chai from Premium Steap in Philadelphia - sharing a pitcher of magaritas with Cyndemouse and Sweets after a hard day's work - Chunky chocolate bar - Crunchy tuna sushi roll Touch: - shiny but rough new parking meter poles installed on the street I work on - Delicate pearl necklace that Elly-O gave to me on Friday. It was her mother's "pride and joy" but not Elly-O's taste. She thought I'd take good care of it. And I shall. It's marvelous. - fuzzy bud on my poppy plant - wonderful bits of fabric at the Philadelphia Sewing Collective Fabric Swap Meet. - super soft argyle cashmere sweater Cyndemouse snagged at a bag sale last week and passed on to me. Sound: - Newly thrifted stack of green bangles clinking on my right wrist - Ingesting Pearl Jam's new CD before going to see them in Albany next weekend - Singing along to Joni Mitchell's Blue album driving home last night with the sun roof open, wind whipping my hair - Quentin squealing when his paw got stepped on accidentally - Sweets squealing when he hammered his finger instead of the floor. Ouch. I'm taking tomorrow off to babysit three of my nephews so my sister can chaperone the oldest one on a class trip. Despite my request to pottytrain the twins before I spend a day with them, they were uncooperative. Soooo.... I'll be having an interesting and exhausting day tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Swap a doodle doo

may swap 1, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

May is my third month participating in the Color-iffic Swap-o-Rama. My partner this month was a bit elusive. She didn't fill out her likes/dislikes in the forums. So I had to dig around. She blogs and posts photos to Flickr. Although her blog posts are pretty infrequent (not that I can say I do more) and she doesn't post photos of herself and her family. I had a hard time trying to connect to her. Last month, I felt like I really got to know Gabriela/loca_bandoca. And she doesn't even blog in English!
Due to this feeling of disconnect, I was down to the wire on making a handcrafted item. My parter doesn't read much so one of my beaded ribbon bookmarks is out. Magnets seemed too small of a gift. I considered a tote bag or one of my photos framed. Then I got the idea of doing a tray decorated with childrens illustrations. I quickly realized there wasn't enough time to paint and seal the several coats needed. I was all out of sorts. Luckily, I went to four rummage sales last week. Out of the seemingly unconnected finds, I pieced together the perfect idea. I know my partner likes tropical music and children's books. I put a piece of tropical yellow material around the cardboard insert of a lucite frame. A wonderful book of stories published in 1966 has wonderful illustrations. I chose one that featured bits of orange, held my breath and tore the page out of the book. That has hard to do. Then I just cut it out. Put the frame on the table upside down and positioned the cut out facedown inside the frame. Then carefully insert the fabric covered insert. On the back, I taped down the fabric edges but it looked messy. So, I cut out a portion of the story the illustration came from and glued it to the fabric, covering all the fabric edges.
In just a few hours, I made something that should appeal to her tastes. I really hope she likes it.
Since I started swapping just a few short months ago; I've learned a few things. Shipping can be really expensive . High enough to make me not want to play. That's not fun. So I am trying to keep in mind the size and weight of items as I gather them. On Sunday I was at a rummage sale and picked out a small rectangular hinged tin. As I walked around the room, all my small items went in. I was amazed at how much I stuffed in there. A new group, Pack It Up Small, will focus on themed packages that can fit into a small Global Priority Flat-rate Envelope. Shipping is only $5.25. I'm still not ready to shrink down to an envelope, so I'm going to sit this first swap of theirs out and see what the others swappers send.

Color-iffic is using the Swap-Bot site to administer the swap. (Don't be confused by the bootleg US only swap there. The real deal is private. Join the Flickr group first to participate.) Swap-Bot takes away all the hard work of matching up and notifying parters by doing it automatically. Lots of other open swaps are listed there. I wanted to join the Kitchen In A Box swap but it's end date collided with Color-iffic and I just didn't have the time. I couldn't resist the Pretty Birdsswap. I collect birdie items, so I couldn't say no. It's been hard shopping for this swap because I want everything for myself! This swap doesn't require a handmade item but I may include some anyway.
Another site that I came across recently is Swap Thing. It's like ebay for swapping or bartering. They charge a transaction fee of $1.00 which is reasonable.

Now it's time to swap my blogger hat for my editor hat and get to the office.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Five Senses Friday

dogwood, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

I was cranky mostly this week. Not sure why. Lots of little things compiling into a big load of ugh. For three days, my attempt to post were cut off short. There is just not enough time in the day for me. I feel so envious of some of the other bloggers I read. I imagine them at home with their kiddies, baking goodies, stiching up softies. My me time is non-existent and that makes me crankiest. Making my usual reading stop in at Little Birds, one of the blogs that make me wish for a more craft/child/freetime filled life, her post Five Senses Friday caught my attention. Suddenly, I was able to focus on little things from the past few days that were positive. Reading Little Birds always makes me feel like there is a better way to be living- more creatively, slowly, simply. I appreciate that immensely. Here's my Five Senses Friday List: Sight:
- Quentin basking in the sun on the deck this morning
- The hostas leaves beginning to unfurl - Stumbling online to a possible wedding location, a pavilion surrounded by a field of live peacocks at a zoo
- All of our dvds alphabetized and put away (finally) in the media cabinet built especially for them

- Demeter Pineapple pick me up spray on my wrists
- Newspaper ink on my fingers
- Lilacs wafting over from the neighbor's bush
- My deoderant doing a so-so job
- That hotdogs cooking at a dusty rummage sale in a church basement smell

- Coffee on Sweets lips when I kissed him goodbye
- Honey bunches of Oats for breakfast
- Pork stew over brown rice for dinner(I concocted the recipe and it was sooo good)
- Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee
- Curry chicken takeout

- Skipping a rummage sale to snuggle longer with Sweets (that is LOVE)
- Bleeding heart blossoms on my fingertips
- Splinter in my foot
- Washing my face in the sink
_ bookjackets of newest vintage cookbook and craft book scores

- "Sugar Never Tasted So Good"- The White Stripes
- "Love is a Battlefield"- Pat Benatar
- My engagement ring clicking against my mouse
- Overhearing my nephews on the phone while chatting with my sister
- Gasp I made when I learned a co-worker's 35 year old wife collapsed at home and died

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dried off and ready for the dust

This weekend was great. Although a bit wet. I got to a slow and cranky start on Saturday morning. After spending one full weekend painting upstairs, I didn't want a repeat. I grumbled. Drank a whole pot of coffee by myself. We needed a few supplies, so Sweets ran to the hardware store. I put on the Magic Numbers and by the time he came back I was smiling and grooving to the music. Later we switched to the whole Belle and Sebastian catalog. We ended up with completely painted bookshelves and the doors for the cabinets. Two of the three media cabinets have one coat of paint. Tonight we'll give the bookshelves a coat of polyurethane. I've painted furniture with and without it. I've found the topcoat really is worth the extra step. The tops of my dressers and nightstands are all funky because I left it off. Don't want that to happen to the shelves. It dried out just enough on Sunday afternoon that I was able to tuck a few plants into the garden. A few of the items I got in my plant shipment turned out to be not so hot. I'll have to call customer service again. After all the work, we still managed to find time for some fun. Saturday night we watched Memoirs for a Geisha. It was okay. The book was so wonderful that I was not so impressed with the adaptation. The cinematography was bseautiful, yes, but I can rattle off a long list of Chinese movies I'd prefer to watch. Cyndemouse invited us over for dinner last night. Before dinner we stopped to look at the work she's been doing at her rental property. It's so cute I wish I could move in! The yard there is so gorgeous right now. It's full of forsythias, azaleas, daffodils. A red maple greets you by the front door. A white dogwood beckons you from the bedroom window. Soon the irises will awake and wisteria will cascade from the impossible heights its climbed over the years. After I drooled over the brand new bathroom fixtures and garden. We headed next door to her place for dinner. She made tomato sauce earlier in the day. We all pitched in preparing a rustic Italian meal of a salad, pasta with sauce, turkey sausage, bread. Everything always tastes better when it comes from the Mouse's kitchen. We had sorbet for dessert. Cynde will be my maid of honor for the wedding. She is way more on the ball about it than I am. As we cooked she went over a new list of possible locations. Before we left she gave me an engagement present of pretty pink folders, stationary, an address book and notebook to keep organized. Plus the cutest set of his and hers cups. We set a date to have a little party in June. Sweets parents will be here to visit. We want to have something for the families to meet and mingle. We still haven't set a date. In fact, we haven't looked an any locations yet. As soon as those shelves are done. I'm turning my full attention to bridezilla type affairs. This week will be full of early mornings. Rummage sale season explodes to a start this week. I'm going to cram in two church sales on Thursday and one on Friday before work. Saturday is the Whale of a Sale in Rumson which is a school gymnasium crammed with goodies. Sunday is my favorite temple sale. I can't wait to have the dust up my nose, elbow to elbow with the other rummagers tossing the tables, filling my bag with surprises of all kinds.

Friday, April 21, 2006

what a week

This week has kicked my butt. Last weekend we spent about 15 hours working on prepping and painting our new bookshelves and media cabinets. I was so tired and sore from the work, I had to go back to work on Monday to relax. Except I didn't really. Sweets had his birthday on Wednesday. So there was sneaking around before work to buy presents and wrap them. Tuesday was an early morning alarm to go to the doctor because I'm still feeling a wee bit dizzy. Thursday I was up even earlier. Out of the house by 8 am to work and then to an awards dinner afterwards. I didn't get home until 11 pm. Soooo tired. Overtired. I went right to bed last night and then after what seemed like five minutes the dogs were fussing around me in the bed. My tummy was upset from eating banquet hall food. I got aggravated and retreated to the kitchen with my laptop until 2:30 am. I caught up on one of my fave bloggers Craftapalooza, read the entire blog of my May Coloriffic Swap-o-rama partner and explored the Whiplash competition at Whip Up. Wow. All three are full of amazing creations. Which makes me wish I had more time to whip something up here to participate in the competition. I can't wait to get the studio upstairs sorted out. Having a new space to work in is going to be very inspirational for both of us. Sweets is very low key about his birthday. I like to celebrate mine for about a month! We started the night before with a fancy cake aglow with sparklers. I was at the ready to make him the breakfast of his choice on his birthday. He decided to wait until the weekend for bacon etc and asked for apple turnovers and coffee. As we had our breakfast, he opened his presents and we talked. I got him some surprise gifts. New swim trunks, a cover and tool caddy for his Weber grill and some Vera Wang for men cologne. His sunglasses broke recently and he asked for a new pair. I got him Ray Ban Wayfarers which are classic Hollywood. He looks awfully cute in them. Still waiting to see him in the swimmies. This weekend is going to be rainy. I was hoping to take Sweets to Branch Brook Park in Newark for a picnic under the cherry blossoms. My new shipment of plants needs to be tucked into the garden. Shelves still need more paint. This weekend is shaping up to be just as busy as last week.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Self Portait Tuesday: Fooling around

spt 4-18, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

About a year ago, we went to my oldest nephew's 6th birthday party. The little girl he is sweet on was there plus lots of little boys from his class. We played pin the tail on the donkey. Whacked a pinata. Played on the tire swing.
My sister and I never had birthday parties. I remember one year I got in big trouble because I went to school and told kids I was having one even though I wasn't. In fact, we weren't even going to be home. I don't know why I lied exactly. I guess I just wanted to have what I thought other kids had at home that I was somehow lacking.
My nephews have parties and fun and none of the worries I had when I was little. Through their discoveries and celebrations, I am reclaiming bits and pieces of a childhood I never experienced.
Who would think something as simple as being pushed on a tire swing is so much fun? Sweets was pushing me here and taking my photo. It was a good day.
Swinging can be so freeing. You use your own might to propel yourself into the air and for that brief moment when your feet are kicking the sun, you feel like you may never have to come down.

Try to remember you can always get back up there. You just have to push.

goodies in the mailbag

mailbag, originally uploaded by roxydynamite.

Pretty great stuff arrived in the mail this week. A weird handwritten letter mysteriously arrived from a stranger. I didn't think people really go through obituaries anymore to sell them bibles and such. This letter started off with condolences for my "beloved grandmother" and then went on to quote from the bible, encourage me to contact my local Jehovah's Wtinesses for council or to even write back to the Mrs. Russell who penned it. Very, very odd indeed.
Another surprise item was an engagement card from Sweets parents. It's our first!
I won the bird cards on eBay for 99 cents. Cyndemouse gave me a framed collection of them for Christmas a few years back. These cards were put out in several collections so now I'm into collecting them all.

The plant is a Kamatanishiki tree peony from van Bourgondien. It arrived with the rest of my order containing another tree peony called Seidei which is pink,an oriental poppy, liatris bulbs, two varieties of phlox, delphiniums,lupines and lilies. I need to get digging over the next few days.
The hand creme sample came with the plant order.

Gabriela in Portugal or loca-bandoca received the April swap package I sent her. She wrote to tell me she really loved it. That made me feel so good.
My March swap is still out in the ether. I really hope it arrives at its destination soon. And I'm anxiously awaiting my April swap package from my mystery partner.

Getting good mail is soooo much better than boring old bills and supermarket flyers.

Friday, April 14, 2006

poetic potpourri

Earlier in the week a federal judge ruled an Arizona ninth grader should be allowed to recite a poem in a state competition. His school tried to prevent him from reciting the poem again after he did so at his school earlier in the month. The poem, "The More Loving One" by W.H. Auden uses the words "hell" and "damn" which the school considers to be obscene. Read the poem and judge for yourself. I personally think it's a lovely choice for a high school student. I was running around clutching volumes of Plath and Sexton at that point in my life. People should be happy the young man isn't angst ridden yet. Speaking of the angst ridden, The Poetry Foundation has an interesting articleDesire to Burn: Did Kurt Cobain die because he misread a poem?. It looks at a Alicia Ostriker poem that he copied out into his journals " and made a companion drawing. The story's author, Tim Appelo, asserts that Cobain's interpretation of Ostriker's "A Young Woman, a Tree" was not what she intended to convey. An interesting read if you are interested in Cobain or poetry at all. Here at "The Paper" lots of fanfare has recently been lavished on our very own in-house poet, David Tucker. The New York Times sent over a photographer to make his portrait. Heck, even I got into the action by showing his photo at the end of one of my daily photo slideshows and announcing I'd written a haiku as the caption. Tucker writes poems Enough to fill a whole book! In fine bookshops now The usually staid crowd of editors went wild, I tell ya. According to Tucker, I may have a future of my own on the poetry reading circuit. He already does. You can listen to a podcast of a reading he did this week in New York City. Or take a peek at "And This Just In" which appears in his new book, Late for Work:Poems . Like the haiku says, you can find it at your favorite place to buy books right now. Looking to find a poetry event near you? C'mon humor me. Nod,yes. Try the poetry map at Poetry.org from the Academy of American Poets. Pop in your state and it will hook you up with local readings, poets from your state and lots more. I just found out Alicia Ostriker, the poet that influenced Kurt Cobain is a New Jersey native. She joins other notables like Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Pinksy and William Carlos Williams.