Monday, November 30, 2009

Things to Do This Week

1. Make every effort to join in this FREE celebration: the first ever
Sustainable Holiday Celebration--tonight!
presented by Sustainable Midlands

Come one, come all, save gas and skip the mall!

Join us on November 30th at 5:30 PM at 701 Whaley to shop and socialize with friends while helping protect the environment and sustainably celebrate the holiday season.

Local and Sustainable Gifts
Sustainable Holiday Decorations
Great free food & libations
Hand-made ornaments by local school children

Please contact Ryan Nevius for more information at or 803-381-8747.

image via here

2. Go see Cold Souls, playing at The Nickelodeon;
last showing tomorrow night at 8 PM.

3. Go to the Shandon Presbyterian Church Alternative Gift Market and support local and global charities while getting meaningful gifts for friends and family. (I will be there representing St. Lawrence Place, which provides transitional housing and programs for homeless families with children).
Wednesday, December 2nd at 6:00 PM
Shandon Presbyterian Activity Center
607 Woodrow St.

4. Holiday Market! Fabulous place to shop for Christmas gifts--put on by
the Junior League of the Midlands.
The Junior League does great things in our community.
December 3-6
Americraft-Cantey Building
SC State Fairgrounds

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Word for Wednesday


ynchrony: simultaneous occurrence; synchronism

Last night, while sitting on my couch watching Love Actually--my favorite contemporary holiday movie--I stated to my husband: "Listen to Peach [our dog] snoring...that's what I hear every night, except in bed it's you and him in synchrony." As soon as it was out of my mouth, both my husband and my friend, Rebecca, questioned the existence of the word. I assured them it was correct as I reached for the laptop to prove it by looking it up on

I was right.
James and Peach snoring in synchrony

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Monday, November 23, 2009

Check out Etsy

If you have never heard of Etsy, here is your introduction....and if you know what Etsy is, read on for some of my favorite items for holiday gifts.

Etsy is an on-line marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of handmade and vintage goods. The Etsy website, says that "Etsy is the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace. Etsy provides a marketplace for crafters, artists and collectors to sell their handmade creations, vintage goods and crafting supplies."

Here are some awesome things that I have found in their Gift Guides section:

Snowflake Glasses
via here

Needle-Pointed Belt Buckle
via here

World Map Vinyl Decal
via here

Fine Art Print- Golden Gate Park, San Francisco edition

via here

Happy hunting for gifts on Etsy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Word for Wednesday


astion: anything seen as preserving or protecting some quality, condition: a bastion of strength. also indicates that this can be defined as fortification or a fortified place.

I am most interested in the first definition. To me, there is a certain regency associated with the use of this word; for some reason I think anyone who uses it is insanely smart and cool. Don't ask me why.

I decided upon this word for today because I was watching some "rockumentary" about heavy metal bands with the hubs last night--I can't stand heavy metal, but marriage is all about compromise, you know--and one of the big-haired, washed-up, heavy metal musicians used the word bastion. I commented out loud "good word!"

I also remember a song that I like by a pop-punk band out of Austin, TX called Cruiserweight; the song is called Goodbye Daily Sadness, and in it the lead singer sings "I'm a bastion of strength." I think it was the first real-world use of the word that I had heard at the time, and I really liked it. The song is off their album Sweet Weaponry; it's worth checking out. Click here to listen to Goodbye Daily Sadness.

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ode to the Obento!

As I once again sit at my desk on a Monday and make silent oaths in my head to "not drink so much next weekend," "only eat pizza once a week," and "definitely run more than once this week," I am inspired by the Bento lunch craze that has become increasingly popular in America...

I had heard the word "Bento" in reference to a lunchbox, but wasn't quite sure what it entailed...basically, it is defined thusly: a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bentō consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more vegetable, usually in a box-shaped container, ( Obento, in Japanese, means "boxed meal," and is an art-form. Japanese mothers spend a lot of time making the perfect obento--a balance of color, taste, and texture.

The New York Times recently did a story on Bentos, Bento Boxes Win Lunch Fans. Bentos can be cute, but don't have to be, and are great for help with portion control. Here are some super-beautiful and creative Bentos...maybe when I have kids I'll attempt one of these...
via here

via here

Until then, maybe I can try making one more like this:
via here

And here are a few Bento accessories that I would love to have:
2-tier Bento box
via here

Mini-animal soy sauce bottles
via here

Bento divider cups
via here

I'm going to experiment with Bentos soon...I'll post the prototypes.

If you've ever tried making Bentos or if you're inspired, please let me know and post pictures. Here are some Bento-inspired blogs:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fat Albert on a Sofa

Please check out my cat, Fat Albert, featured in Desire to Inspire's weekly blog post: "Monday's Pets on Furniture."

Fat Albert is a rescue kitty from the Animal Mission here in Columbia. His back-story is that he was owned by an older woman, and when she passed away her family gave him up to the pound. He was approximately 10 years old when we got him, so he is about 16 now.

He has used up numerous lives, besides being on "death row" before we plucked him from the pound, he also had a limp from his former life--a broken back leg that had never been set and healed wrong. It causes him no pain now, I am assured, but he still has a pretty mean limp that my husband and I affectionately call his "pimp walk." Three years ago he was diagnosed with cancer; ;luckily the tumor was all encapsulated in one kidney, so they simply removed the kidney and he's been fine ever since. He also escaped from our house a year or so ago; (Fatty is a strictly inside kitty, as his lack of front claws, the aforementioned limp, and his sizable girth would make it hard for him to escape predators of any kind). He was gone for over a month and I was heartbroken. He finally showed back up in our next door neighbor's back yard...he had evidently been living under their shed for most of that time. He was skinny and scared, but really no worse for the wear. And don't worry he has ballooned back to his "Fat Albert" weight, and then some.

Thanks to the Desire to Inspire folks for including Fat Albert's picture in their weekly post, and if you're thinking of adopting an animal, please consider getting one from your local pound or rescue organization.
Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rain, rain here to stay

Well, it's been raining in fair Columbia for three days now, thanks to the remnants of Ida, and though most people are complaining and chanting "rain, rain, go away," I am loving it.

Overcast and chilly--a blessed day in my book--throw in some cold rain to boot and I am in heaven.

I have always romanticized places that are defined by their dreary weather--London, Seattle, San Francisco, (I know, SF does have months of really sunny and mild weather, but the year I lived there it rained all winter).


via here

Sample Seattle Weather Forecast
via here

San Francisco
via here

I think this love-affair with gloomy weather stems from a couple things: first, I adore wearing scarves, hats, coats, sweaters, jeans...pretty much perfect clothing for wind and rain. Second, in my mind this type of weather connotes a thinker's sort of dark and broodish, but highly creative environs. I always feel super-productive and sharp and creative when it's cold and dark. And finally, I love drizzly days because I have a peculiar fondness for umbrellas.

As a student at Washington & Lee University I took an Asian art history class* that introduced me to the influences of Asian art, particularly Japanese woodblock prints, on western art. Some of my favorite woodblock prints, and in turn, pieces of later western art, included umbrellas. In fact, I wrote a research paper comparing the use of umbrellas in Japanese woodblock prints and western art...

Hiroshige woodblock print
via here

Kiyonaga woodblock print
via here

Leonetto Capiello's Parapluie Revel
via here

Claude Monet's Woman with Umbrella
via here

Maurice Brazil Prendergast's Umbrellas in the Rain
via here

*Sadly, the professor who taught the two Asian art history courses that I took at W&L passed away recently. RIP Dr. Joan O'Mara.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art Addicts Anonymous

As I mentioned in my previous post today, I went to see Herb & Dorothy last night at The Nickelodeon. I enjoyed it for a number of reasons, first, because I appreciate art very much, but do not have a trained eye for it--I just like what I like. Numerous times during the film, Dorothy Vogel expresses this same sentiment about what she and her husband have collected. I also enjoyed the film because I am interested in the mind of an artist as well as that of a collector. Because I am not an artist, I am intrigued by those with such talent.

The extent of my art knowledge comes from two Asian art history classes I took in college--I wish I could have taken more, and still may someday. I know a bit about Japanese woodblock prints and their influence on Western art, which is fascinating, I must say. I took one Intro painting class in college; to be blunt, I did not find my calling that semester, but rather enjoyed watching the brushes of my more-talented peers.
via here

The movie made me think back to a book I read some years ago while in a book club in San Francisco: Confessions of an Art Addict, a self-portrait by Peggy Guggenheim. Ms. Guggenheim gives an interesting glimpse into her eccentric family, her patronage of modern art in the 1930s, and portrayals of the artists she supported. Famous artists names are thrown around in this book like curse words on a pirate ship--Kandinsky, Miro, Pollock, Klee, Dali, Chagall, and Picasso, just to name a few. I was taken in by the accounts of these famous artists and her relationships with them and their art.
I recommend this book to anyone at all interested in modern art, or anyone who, like me, appreciates the eccentricities of artists and collectors such as the Vogels and Peggy Guggenheim.
Peggy Guggenheim
via here

Herb and Dorothy Vogel
via here

A Word for Wednesday


ndomitable: unconquerable; unyielding; that cannot be overcome, such as persons, will, or courage

I heard this word, or a form of it, used to describe Herb and Dorothy Vogel's quest and appetite for collecting minimalist and conceptual art in the movie Herb & Dorothy. The movie was quite entertaining, and although it is no longer playing at The Nickelodeon, part of their art collection is being shown at the Columbia Museum of Art through January 17, 2010. (And I'm sure you can Netflix the movie--it's worth watching if you are at all interested in art, or if you would simply like to see the dynamics of a cute old couple who've been married 45 years).

via here

Image of the "I" via Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hirsche.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can you Tell Me How to Get; How to Get to Sesame Street?

via here

Happy 40th Anniversary, Sesame Street! I was inspired to write this post after I listened to this story on NPR on my way to work this morning.

I, for one, grew up watching the show in the 80's and I loved it--(and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood too, for the record--RIP Fred Rogers). I can remember curling up with my baby sister on the (brown) carpet in my childhood den--sometimes surrounded by the brown and orange pillows of our pillow-fort, (hey, it was the styles of the 70's!), watching "Ses Street," until my mom would call us in the kitchen for dinner.

I love that Sesame Street teaches not only the basics--ABC's and 123's--but also valuable lessons such as tolerance, compassion, and friendship. It teaches children to value diversity, embrace differences, and be kind.

My favorite characters were Barkley, (the dog), and Snuffleupagus...he was always sad and I just wanted to help him or cheer him up. (Maybe that's what drew me to social work--who knows...).

I now get to see my nephew enjoying the same Sesame Street characters--his favorite is Oscar the Grouch. And if you ask him where Oscar lives, he proudly says: "in a frash can!" (I love that kid).

{ I also love Anderson Cooper, so had to use this pic!}

Thanks to the production team of "Ses Street" for continuing to make an academically and socio-emotionally educational children's program that has spanned generations--one that I hope will be around for my children to watch someday.

Now, if only grown-ups could always remember to be tolerant, compassionate, and kind....

All pictures of muppets and Anderson Cooper via here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Activism and Advocacy on a Friday

I decided to write a little bit of a political post today; a call to action if you will.

I am currently teaching a class on Social Policy in America--our reluctant welfare state--so I'm even more invigorated to advocate for change and ask others to do so as well...bear with me.

As I drove to work on this chilly morning I thought of all the people and animals who would soon be having to sleep outside in freezing weather. Not a real cheery thought, I know, but it comes to mind each fall when I start rejoicing about the cooler weather...I love it, but I also have a warm, safe home and bed to crawl into when the thermostat dips.

Then, as I drove down the street where my office is located, I saw for the 3rd time this week, a scrawny pit-bull mix tethered to the front porch of a house with no food or water in sight and no adequate shelter. Now, I drive down this street every day, so I have noticed other animals treated similarly and have even reported the possible neglect/maltreatment of a different dog at the same house before, but obviously the message was not received. As soon as I walked into the office, I called City of Columbia Animal Services and reported the scene; they said they would pay the home a visit to investigate. It felt good to be able to be proactive, even on such a surface level, rather than just feel bad for the dog but do nothing.

hen, I read this on Indigo Journal: "Regarding the Senate vote on unemployment insurance that went off a moment ago, it’s worth noting that the only opponent was Sen. Jim DeMint (R), who represents South Carolina, where the unemployment rate of 11.6 percent happens to be the fifth highest in the country," I was appalled, but sadly not surprised either. Really? Sen. Jim DeMint, what were you thinking?--or were you?

My point in all of this today, is find something to be passionate about and advocate...if you're an animal-lover, help with the Humane Society's "Pet Soup Project". The project distributes pet food to pet-owners who otherwise would not be able to afford the food. Here's their wish list, and they need volunteers as well, contact Kelly Graham at 803-783-1267 or
  • Pull-along Trailer
  • 1 Gallon Ziplock Freezer Bags
  • Large lawn/yard garbage bags
  • Plastic Grocery Store bags
  • Pet Food Scoopers
  • Pens
  • Copy Paper
  • Sharpies
  • Bottled Water
  • Paper Towel
  • Battery Powered Hand Vacuum
  • Canopy Tents
  • Gas Cards
  • Monetary Donations
If you're as fired up as I am about why Sen. DeMint wanted to refuse help to the close to 12% of the SC population that is unemployed right now, call him and ask why, here's his number: 803-771-6112.

If you want to do something to help the homeless population, volunteer at a local soup kitchen--and if you have kids, take them with you, it will be a valuable learning experience. Or, donate one of the personal hygiene items listed below for the United Way Hands for the Homeless drive:
Toothpaste - Toothbrush - New socks (men/women) - New washcloth - Plastic razor
TRAVEL SIZED: Shampoo - Soap - Lotion - Hand sanitizer

Drop off items at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church (3401 Trenholm Road) from Nov. 16-25 M-F 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Please, be an active participant in your community and think of those less fortunate. And let me know what this may have inspired you to do, or what you already do in your community to give back and advocate for those with no voice.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gifts that Give Back

I love to give gifts that serve a dual purpose or help someone else while bringing joy to the recipient too... My family has received a "Share of a Goat" or a "Flock of Chicks" as Christmas gifts via Heifer International for years; my brother-in-law usually starts asking me in November what animal they will get this year.

My church, Shandon Presbyterian Church, also holds an Alternative Gift Market every year, featuring local and international charities that people can donate money to in honor of friends and family for the holidays. The event is being held December 2nd from 6-7 PM in the church Activity Center this year.

I have recently begun getting e-mails from all the stores and on-line newsletters I subscribe to, advertising the "must-have" gifts this holiday season. I have found that many of them include gifts that give back to specific groups or charities, and so I decided to list some of my early favorites here:

My Newsletter recommended this: hand-beaded animals, (in this case a hippopotamus), whose sale will directly benefit disadvantaged women artists in Cape Flat townships of South Africa. Animals range in price from $24-$150 and are beautiful. See them here.

These eco-chic Mad Imports Raffia Leilani Clutches are stylish and fun.
Mad Imports is a socially & environmentally responsible company that markets handmade fashion accessories from Madagascar & Kenya. The sale of their products enables families to gain economic independence and promotes environmental conservation. Each clutch is $40.

The purchase of these hand-woven silk scarves from Global Goods Partners provides
land mine victims, people with disabilities and trafficked women with an opportunity to earn an income while gaining access to literacy, education and healthcare. They range in price from $32-$42.

This book, Shelter Dogs by Traer Scott looks amazing--I have had multiple animals who were strays or adopted from shelters and they are the best. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book goes to the ASPCA. The book is $19.95.

Or, if your friends and family are anything like me, and don't need any more stuff, consider donating to one of these worthy causes in their name: Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. This is the most important gift you'll ever make. A charitable gift from Heifer's Gift Catalog will provide animals and training to help families build a better future for themselves and their communities.

And--a Columbia event that I never miss, where you can purchase unique and handmade Christmas decorations as well as fair-trade gifts--the 10,000 Villages sale at Shandon Presbyterian Church this weekend! November 7-8th; Saturday 9 AM -4 PM; Sunday 12 - 3 PM in the Activity Center. Visit the 10,000 Villages website to preview items here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Word for Wednesday


rudite: learned or scholarly; characterized by great knowledge.

Today is the first installment of my soon to be weekly "A Word for Wednesday" blog post. I love words. Vocabulary has always been a strong suit of mine and I am passionate about certain words-the way they sound when verbalized as well as the meanings. In my opinion words fall into 4 basic categories.

1) Words you know and use all the time, in everyday language.
2) Words you know the meaning of, and may use on a very rare occasion, but have yet to insert them into your repertoire of usage. (For me, erudite is in this category).
3) Words you have heard before, but don't know the meaning of and may or may not try to use with limited success since you don't really know what it means.
4) Words you have never even heard before and therefore don't know the meaning of and never use.

In this weekly post I hope to expand my own vocabulary and share my love of words with you my fine and erudite readers!

The beautiful "E" is provided by fellow blogger, Jessica Hische, who posts her illustrated letters on Daily Drop Cap, and so graciously allows others to use the artwork in their own blogs. Thanks!

What are your favorite vocabulary words?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What I'm Listening to...

If the above link is having technical difficulties, click here to see/hear the same thing...

Wishful Thinking...

Tuesday's list of awesome things I'd love to have:

1. This cheese board made of re-claimed chalkboard from Uncommon Goods.

via here

2. This blackbird two lens reflex camera from Fred Flare. This is a 1920's stlye camera and can take pics in 3 different widths...ooohh... I would love it in blue or white :)

via here

3. A wall in my home that looks like this. I love the look of the photo/art collage on the wall here...I am trying to achieve that in my den (see below). I also really love the wallpaper!

Obviously, I have a lot more space to fill, but I just love the combination of old pictures and art.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall Fox

Pretty Fall Fox Cuff, courtesy of The Illuminated Owl on
I heart this fox...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

My weekly Nickelodeon trip was not as exciting as the past few movies have been. Beeswax was great in terms of character development, but plot development, not so much... I was also starving throughout the entire movie which may have played into my praying that it would be over soon; I was fantasizing about the food and drinks at the Hunter-Gatherer.

And it did not disappoint. It has been almost a year, I think, since I have been to the H-G, and they have added some new items to their menu. Our table ordered prosciutto-wrapped manchengo cheese which was ah-mazing and an order of the ESB cheese spread. (I have no pictures of the appetizers- sorry, I was too hungry to snap pics at this point in the meal).
The rest of the H-G menu was largely unchanged, which in my opinion is a good thing. I always get a Ginny's Blue Cheese Salad and it never disappoints.

For my entree I ordered another old standby--a pizza with feta cheese and red onions.

James got one of the new additions to the menu-smoked chicken ravioli with a gouda cream sauce. It came with a small side salad and it was great. I could bathe in the gouda cream sauce.

Thursday at the H-G has long been a live jazz music night, which I had forgotten. Skipp Pearson and his band, including a keyboardist, stand-up bassist, and drummer, are great. Mr. Pearson is nationally known for his jazz sax skills.

On Friday I received an e-mail from The Columbia Cool, a new social networking website that lists events, hosts group pages for local businesses, and recently had a Melting Pot gift certificate giveaway! I entered the giveaway, and imagine my surprise and excitement when I checked the website to watch this video announcing the winner of the giveaway:

Yay! I won, I won!! I love the Melting Pot! You should join The Columbia Cool website to be eligible to win future giveaways.

Saturday was Halloween and James and I did pull off our Rachel Zoe/Brad Goreski get-up:

Unfortunately, my blonde wig was very cheap and very itchy and not I wore it for about 5 minutes...I realize that was a key part of the costume, but I tried to compensate for it's loss with a steady plethora of RZ phrases and drama-inducing scenes. I think I called the name "Brad!" 1,000 times, with each name-call followed by a "Oh my God, this is OOC...we have 48 hours to style this shoot for V. Bananas." or "Brad, I need more coffee. I am flipping out right now." The Starbucks cup was a nice touch I thought, but champagne refills in the cup finally soaked it through. I am also sad I have no pictures of my shoes...they were 5 inch wedges, which incidentally are shoes I actually own, but don't often wear because of the difficulty I have in walking in them. They were classic RZ shoes. (Also, I know James would want me to disclose that his shirt is wet in the above pictures because he had just carried the keg--he was not that sweaty. At least not that early in the night--it was pretty humid though).

The party at Kim and Drew's house was totally OOC and ended in keg stands. Then we finished off the night at NiteCaps, which was also totally OOC--so many people!

Awesome weekend; looking forward to next weekend's events, the Harmony School Benefit on Saturday and the Camp Burnt Gin Benefit at Rosso on Sunday. Saw Kristian Niemi and Blythe Fisher, of Rosso Trattoria, at NiteCaps Saturday; they are thrilled and the event is sold out! So amazing for Camp Burnt Gin!