Monday, March 23, 2015

We made it through winter! Most of us...

We're in that lovely transition period on the way to Spring (shit, we're here already!) where I refuse to wear my coat no matter how cold it is but can't bring myself to wear sandals no matter how hot it is.  Ahh, the mercurial tornado season.  

Here's how I survived this brutal winter and am transitioning into Shpringtime.  Yes, it requires its own transition period.  With lots of exfoliating.

Only a few things got me through the worst part of the winter when I was sure we were going straight into the Ice Age end times: Uptown Funk (on a spiritual level) and hellebores. 

Jade Star here
These jade beauties are not mine but they might be soon. THESE are mine that I got last Fall at our plant swap.   And they ain't doin' too bad - yay me!  The best thing about hellebores (other than they can survive an almost-ice age and terrible track record) is that just when you think things are the worst - day after day of wet, grey winter death - here they come with green sprouts in the snow.  See?  There IS hope and we are not destined to die in a dirty snow drift only to be discovered in March.  Hit your hallelujah, indeed.

About this time of year I have to burn up all my winter candles because it fucks with my brain to have a cinnamon harvest amber pumpkin fuckfest smell while the windows are open and it's 80.  Which is why I'm suggesting everyone buy the official (not official) Dumbledore's Office ($16) candle!
Oh apparently it's HEADMASTER'S Office now. Probably copyright issues...
I've had this on my wish list for YEARS but I bought myself one for Christmas and couldn't be happier.  It smells warm and woody but fresh and slightly lemony.  (I swear there was lavender in there but it not sure about the new formula description...?)  Perfect for Winter and Spring.  Hell, burn it all year.  Will not disappoint.  Because it's wizard magic, obviously.

Speaking of winter scents, I found this perfume oil ($8)at a local craft fair in the Fall and have been drawing sigils on myself with it every day.

I made that black smudge...  I swear the packaging is nice.
It really smells how a dreamy bonfire smells at night when you feel like you're in a car commercial and not the morning after bonfire that smells like you burned a squirrel alive and swaddled the carcass with your cardigan. And as it fades it smells like a smokey cupcake at the end of the day.  Maybe that's just my chemistry.  All of her scents are warm and fresh but all lovely - I also have Lolita - so buy in bulk, y'all!

UPDATE: It looks like she's sold out of the Bonfire but check out her other scents here.  She's probably just adding more stock.  I HOPE.

Speaking of smokey sweets for the winter, I don't have this but I waaaant it.

Smoked Tea Vanilla cocktail syrup ($19) is what we all need in our life.  I might put it in my oatmeal because I'm a beast like that.  Haha just kidding I mean whiskey.  Whiskey oatmeal?!  

I was recently introduced to chocolate bitters and I think my life has been changed.  Several people then mentioned the magic of celery bitters to me so obviously I need to be educated.  Whiskey and chocolate bitters in the winter and now I think my Shpring will be filled with celery bitters and a rainbow of other flavors!  And booze, obvi. Bitters all the year round!  If you got a good recipe send it my way.  

I had planned to do large amounts of baking and spend intense days in the kitchen on elaborate French recipes with strategic bits of flour on my nose but mostly I ate Ramen.  Hear me out.

Ramen seems to be trendy again just like other low-brow items from my youth like acid-washed jeans and Pop-Tarts. 

I was sick this winter and bought a case (I was sick a lot) as a desperate substitute for chicken broth.  I needed to retain fluid anyway...  I think I ate one pack the regular way like we did in college BUT I discovered if you throw away the seasoning packet the noodles are so cheap that it's almost painful not to use them in another way.  

So then I started making noodle bowls out of stock and soy and fish sauce and/or curry and coconut milk sometimes.  Throw in a bunch of veggies and maybe meat and if's probably the fanciest thing my cereal bowls have seen in a while.  

If you need some more specific direction than that last sentence (I did - Asian flavors are not my comfort zone) try this slow cooker pork ramen which was amazing or Lady and Pups has a lot of noodle ideas: Spicy Miso Ramen and Vampire Slayer Ramen Express and Bunker Crack Slurp.  She also feels no shame about eating some ramen with even "trashier" ingredients and she's a real food blog so I think that makes it okay.  Or maybe we should all stop judging food choices?

Which is a great idea because I'm not done with ramen.  For Spring I'm transitioning to ramen salads and maybe this spicy shrimp and guacamole ramen what?!  I was going to write a sentence about how America is further bastardizing this "garbage food" for the purpose of our Independence Day cookouts but NO I'm not shaming you or me for food choices anymore.  In fact, I made this Paula Deen ramen broccoli slaw and will admit I enjoyed it.   

It's still okay to shame Paula Deen though.

But I still might make it again for this summer's hot dog party!

All the money you saved on food by eating ramen means you can now buy yourself something nice to wear!  I'm a daily scarf wearer - it's my winter uniform and I feel cold and naked without one.  I also like to sink my head inside like a turtle when I feel threatened or want to nap.  In twenty years we're going to look back and think "Why the fuck did we wear a giant scarf INSIDE all day?" But for now I'm cozy and committed.  

I convinced my mom to crochet me a few after showing her the Outlander pics we talked about last Fall.  AND SHE DID!  Here and here.  I love them but it's getting a little warm for a double-wrapped infinity scarf made of love and thick acrylic.  Fortunately, these by Scarfshop piqued my interest the other day.

They come in a variety of hand-dyed colors and are really affordable: $30 for a "small" size (27"x108") and $60 for the large (54"x108").  I saw a tiny scarf half the size of the "small" at J. Crew last week for $55 so might as well get a giant cape made of clouds instead!  I'm part of the Scarf All Year club.  I have a weird, short neck so I feel like scarves hide it.  By camouflaging it in thick, bulky layers to it...?  

I've pretty much stuck to the dark, moody lip and simple black liner for winter and I like it.  It might be my forever look.  Forever turtle look.  But maybe trying something more colorful might be friendlier for Shpring?

Indigo liner and coral and apricot seem like a nice compromise for a new season while still allowing some opportunity for drama.  I'm going to be taking a class on contouring so I can look just like Kim K!  Except with a potato-y turtle head.  CAN you even contour a potato head or will they just hand me back my money when they see my face?  I guess we'll find out.

I think all that should transition me nicely to April.  I don't know why I can't go to a new season like a normal person without a strategy involving booze and eyeliner.  But all good strategies usually begin with booze and eyeliner so...  

What things are y'all looking forward to for warmer temps?  I'm excited to paint my toenails once again and get back that healthy glow that constantly sweating will bring to my skin.   

Obviously, I'm not compensated for any of these recommendations nor have any relationship with these people/companies.

Haha just kidding this is totally a sponsored post by Big Ramen.

Now THAT I was kidding about.

But if someone wants to get at me... 


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm just excited I used 'proboscis' in a sentence!

Grab your passports, sauce guzzlers, and let's take an architectural field trip!  It is a long way away.  Bring extra sauce for hydration.

I really have no idea what 'sauce' is in this scenario.

Regardless, welcome to Ethiopia!   Specifically the Southwest corner.  Here's a map cuz if you're like me (a dumb American) you don't know where that is.  But we should because very nice buildings are happening there.

I am died.  The Dorze people are known for their distinctive dwellings that are completely unique to them and pretty fuckawesome.  That is a technical term I pulled Arch Daily.

More great travel pics at Line Shape Color
They are also known for having the best weaving in Ethiopia so right now the Dorze are batting a thousand for the design team.  I'm not even on the field in regards to such complicated design activities so I'm waving my giant foam finger for them.

The buildings are made of basket-woven shell of bamboo and then finished with 'false banana' leaves.  Fake bananers be good for sumthin.

Who doesn't love a process shot?!  I'm a little blown away by the amount of leaves that are involved.  Fortunately there aren't any windows to work around.
Here  Separate partitions for the animals, I believe.
The entire structure is surprisingly large measuring about 25-30 feet tall.  Based on my calculations that's about seven square miles of leaves.  The reason they are designed so tall is for more than just a great chandelier.  The walls sit directly on the ground and termites eat the building from the floor up.

You'd think this would create massive structural problems but in fact it just causes the homes to get shorter.  They start out so tall so they can shrink over decades.  That's right, they build in their own aging solution.  The homes get shorter and cuter over time.  It's like they're the Benjamin Buttons of architecture!

And they do last decades - sometimes up to 100 years.  If the termite problem does get overwhelming or they want a new view the entire building can even be moved with the help of some friendly neighbors and lots of rope.

Here I love the landscaping around the perimeter of the homes too. Perfection.
But damn, the termites seem friendlier in Africa, right?  I have to get termite treatments every eight years so my house doesn't cave in on itself and leave me in dust but in Africa you have decades.  DECADES.  Africa might have killer bees but we have asshole termites.

My favorite part about the structures is that they have a very anthropomorphic quality.  Once you see the face you can't UNsee it.

The "eyes" are the air vents and also release the smoke from the cooking/heating fire.  The "nose" acts as the entrance vestibule and can be very large (like the very first picture) and then as the entire structure shrinks the nose gets smaller and they cut the doorway larger.  

I found out that the "face" does have an explanation that's not just related to function, however.  This region of Ethiopia used to have lots of elephants so the homes pay homage to them with their grey skin and large proboscis.  AND NOW I LOVE THEM EVEN MORE.  

You can't UNsee it now either!  Look at its wittle head!  

I'm not sure if that little anecdote is true or something they just tell the white people taking pictures but I love so it's true.

And you better get in your elephant love now because I heard Tim Burton is going to be directing a new Dumbo so get ready for Johnny Depp to piss all over your childhood.  Childhood memories of hysterical sobbing over that movie but whatever.

After you finish writing an angry letter to Disney, I highly recommend you take a look at this video tour of a Dorze home for a more complete picture.  The guide shows his grandfather's 92-year-old home in case you thought I was lying about their ages.

However, I should admit I have weird feelings about getting a tour of a home currently inhabited by people.  People who are just outside the door...  Is it just me?

Now, I'm guilty of stopping in the road and taking a picture of someone's home and I'm blogging about the Dorze so maybe I shouldn't be the moral compass here.  But are these little tours just catering to rich tourists or maybe it's like some version of colonial Williamsburg except not colonial but CURRENT?  Or are the people that open up their homes to tourists the design bloggers of Ethiopia?  Maybe they WANT to show off their houses.  

I'm not saying I don't want to see them but I am aware that I saw pictures of the same two structures (three pictures up) over and over again.  I'm not sure I know the correct answer to these questions and maybe I should pull out my books on vernacular architecture more than once a decade.  *cough*  I was almost smart in college...

Regardless, I hope tourists are absolutely throwing money at them for every last bit of their beautiful weaving.

Now I feel kinda uncomfortable about the implications of vernacular architectural tourism so let's look at some more baby elephants until we are obliviously comfortable again!

Baby elephants welcome in my home anytime!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This makes me exceedingly happy.

We had a snow day last week and it threw me off so much I can't even form a coherent blog sentence.  Please accept these chairs as evidence.

I've also been busy crafting but nothing I make can ever be this terrifying important.

Margarita Sampson's Infectious Desires via Dark Silence in Suburbia

We're expecting a snownado tomorrow so I'll probably be fucked until 2016 with that mess.  

Stay warm and lucid, saucy friends!