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Wednesday
Mar312010

Phoenix Weekend

This last weekend, my Mom and I traveled to Phoenix to celebrate my uncle's 60th birthday.  It was a quick trip but super fun because I got to see my aunt and uncle, my two cousins, and my cousin's new wife...all whom I love.  This branch of the family is always a blast and after just a couple of days with them, my jaw was sore from laughing so much.  My uncle is a lucky man.  He had a great party and was surrounded by his friends and family who love him.  We enjoyed a yummy catered dinner, a beautiful tiered cake (which was absolutely delicious), and plenty of drinks for all.  

 

Before the festivities started, some of us took a leisurely hike up to Pinnacle Peak, a Scottsdale landmark.  I enjoyed the hike and being able to look out over the desert landscape.  Although it is different than what we recognize as traditional beauty, the desert is gorgeous, especially in Arizona.  When we have visited before it has always been in the winter, around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Visiting in spring was a real treat because all of the wildflowers were in bloom.  Even along the freeways, huge bursts of yellow, orange, and purple lined our path.  Below are some pictures from our hike to Pinnacle Peak.

I believe Pinnacle Peak is on the right...maybe he's a double Peak though.

Marigolds do not just grow in California.  Sadly, I have probably seen more marigolds in Arizona than I have in California.  And then of course there is the cacti. 

Sunday
Mar212010

My boys!

Today I got to spend some time with my boys, three of my favorite people, and I couldn't be happier.  Now that we have graduated, we don't get to see each other everyday and for me, that has been a strange adjustment.  But the four of us have been through so much together that when we do get together, even if we've been parted for months, it feels like old times.  The same old jokes get thrown around the table even though we've said them a thousand times before.  And that is comforting because even though those jokes are lame, they are our jokes and I love hearing them.  Some of the best memories of my life were shared with these three guys and even though life will take each of us in different directions, I know that we will always share those memories and that common bond.

 

I'm not sure when the four of us will be together again.  Probably not for five months or so because my one friend is leaving to go to India for that time.  And the other two live far away, one in San Francisco and the other in New York.  But I know that when we do get back together, it will feel just like old times, just like today.  And I will be happy! 

These are my boys.  And I miss them already.

Saturday
Mar202010

One of those days

Today was one of those days in Southern California.  One of those days where the weather is perfect.  One of those days where it is sunny and warm.  One of those days where the sky is blue and clear and I can see the mountains.  Basically, today was one of those days that gives us bragging rights.  We make the rest of the country jealous while they are still layering sweaters and coats and we are breaking out the shorts.  It has been so beautiful here and I am trying to take advantage of the outdoors by just relaxing and taking it all in, even if it's only for a few minutes each day.  Today I sat out on the porch and enjoyed my surroundings during a quick lunch break.  Other than the great view of the snow-capped San Bernardino mountains, I watched the clouds and the millions of lizards that occupy my backyard.  I ate a sweet, local orange and I felt oh so Californian.  Moments like this are the ones that I want to remember.  A few months from now, when the temperature reaches 110 degrees, I will not remember this moment and I will loathe Southern California.  I will complain about it and dream about moving somewhere cooler.  Hopefully when that time comes, I can recall this day.  Yes, my poor paleness will fry for a few months and it will be pretty miserable but the good times will come again and as before, we will have all the bragging rights because of our awesome weather.

 

Friday
Mar192010

I Heart Handmade

I mentioned in yesterday's post about opening up my shop on Etsy finally.  It is a work in progress and I hope that within the next few weeks I'll be adding some more fun stuff.  I'm very excited about being able to call myself an Etsy seller and not just an Etsy buyer.  I've been meaning to sell some of my creations for awhile now and I don't know what has been holding me back.  I cannot praise Etsy enough, I think so highly of the site and the artists selling on it.  Etsy is creating a revolution and I couldn't be happier with how this one site is transforming how and what we buy.  So much of what we purchase comes from big brand, chain stores who have trained us to mindlessly buy all the things that we want.  Although I love Target dearly, most of the items inside Target, and similar stores, feel very impersonal.  By impersonal I mean that there is no connection with what you're buying because you have no idea where it came from, how it was made, and who the artist is.  And yes, most of the things we buy were "designed" by someone at some point, something we frequently overlook.  When you have no connection with an item you don't appreciate it as much and the item becomes something that you just throw away two years later because it is clogging up your closet.  I am not pointing fingers because I do this too and I'm also not saying that people should boycott Target.  I just think that there is a happy balance where you can buy from Target sometimes but also support local and independent artists, crafters, cooks, farmers, and business people.  

 

Two personal things that I cherish dearly are a print I got in Florence, Italy and a ring I bought in Berkeley, California.  Both items were sold to me by the artists.  While in Florence I was searching for a print of the city skyline.  It wasn't hard to find prints but I ended up buying one from an artist at the San Lorenzo market.  My Mom and I were strolling through the streets and this particular artist's work caught my eye.  We stopped to get a closer look and ended up staying and chatting with him for awhile.  He had immigrated to Italy and he openly told us his story about coming to Florence to paint.  As we talked he sketched, working on his latest project.  I was happy to buy that print and still think fondly of it today because I made a connection with that artist, however small.  What his name was or how he looked have faded from my mind but his kindness, his beautiful artwork, and the image of him sitting and sketching in the Florence streets will remain in my mind forever.  That print reminds me of that great memory.  The ring I bought in Berkeley has a similar story.  I was visiting a friend who went to Cal and we were stopping at each of the street vendors on Telegraph Ave. to look at the jewelry.  We came across this older gentleman who took antique spoons and repurposed them into rings and bracelets.  This type of jewelry is not unique, I know, but what made this man different was that he knew the history behind each of the pieces of silverware he sold.  I picked out a ring and he quickly informed me of the style and pattern name and that it was produced in 1910.  He wrote it all down for me so that I would not forget.  I still have the information on that ring and I always enjoy wearing it.  Like the print, I know the story behind the ring and that is what makes me cherish it.  

 

Etsy is mimicking this type of experience except it is all online and you do not have to travel to Florence or Berkeley to get unique pieces.  Of course it is not the same but hopefully you can create some kind of connection with the Etsy artists and feel good about buying unique handmade and vintage pieces.  I love receiving Etsy packages in the mail because they usually include things like handwritten notes, fun and funky packaging, and sometimes little surprises left by the sellers.  This type of personal connection is what is missing from chain stores.  There are no handwritten thank-yous on a painting you bought at Pier 1.  And I think people are starting to come around and realize that they miss purchasing things with meaning, that they want to know where their things come from and how they are made.  Hence the popularity of places like Etsy.  I, for one, am so excited with this direction.  It makes me want to go buy something on Etsy now.  

 

I heart handmade!

Black frame image credit: here        

Tuesday
Mar162010

Engaged!

No, I'm not engaged but my best friend of 19 years is.  She just got back from a trip to London which is where her boyfriend, now fiance, surprised her.  I am very happy for them but I must say it is so weird knowing that my best friend is engaged.  Even though we are of an acceptable age for marriage, I still don't feel old enough.  I remember playing with Barbies, Beanie Babies, and American Girl dolls and honestly, it wasn't that long ago.  It is scary to think that ten years ago we were children and ten years from now, some of us will have children (yikes!).  I feel like such an old person saying these things.  I am young, I'm supposed to love the new freedoms and responsibilities of being an adult.  And I do, but I can't help realizing how fast this is all happening and being a little frightened at that realization.  It is definitely scary growing up, no matter how much you long for it when you're a kid and a teenager.  

 

Not to sound corny but Ferris Bueller was right when he said, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."  So yes, life is moving pretty fast for my best friend (which is making my life feel like it's speeding up too) but I vow to look around and not miss things.  I am excited for her engagement and I know the whole "wedding planning madness" will be an interesting and fun adventure for her and me both.  My goal is to support my best friend and not always focus on the fact that things like marriage, children, and adulthood are making me feel OLD!  

 

So congratulations Ashley and Scott.  I am so excited for you guys.  Ash, you're like my sister and you mean the world to me!

 

My love for vintage, of course, applies to weddings.  I've started working on a few vintage wedding collages with some old photographs.  In the meantime here's some preliminary work I put together. 

Images used to help create this collage were found on Flickr: here, here, here, here, and here.