13 April 2014

Go Blog Social 2014

The Go Blog Social team hosted their second annual social networking conference at the lofty and ever-so naturally lit Berg Event Space here in good ol' downtown Kansas City. You'd think I'd be quicker on the draw blog-posting about a blogger event that I attended last weekend but alas, it's been a really full week getting back to the grind. Fueled with inspiration, but lacking the time of day to execute... now that's pull-your-hair-out frustrating for the creative force within me. We've had our windows wide open all week, though, so I'll take that as consolation.

I was really only able to pop in and out over the weekend, but have no fear! I made the best of it, gathering good-natured conversations and business cards galore from tons of lovely ladies with the shared interest of creating, connecting, and truly caring about something. We were all there trying to better ourselves... and to me, that's inspiring alone.
The Go Blog Social team made some huge improvements from last year's already informative kickstart, and I know in my heart these talented gals will continue to up the ante year after year. If you have the opportunity to attend next GBS, do it! If not for the information or the summer camp vibe (Rachael, you're spot on there), sign yourself up because I love my city a whole heck of a lot, and I know you will too. Attending this weblog conference in KC makes for a really well-rounded weekend with plenty of time to explore. We've got a small city vibe with big city eats and activity. I will, without a doubt, be taking time away from work next year to soak up GBS in its entirety. It's that good, folks. 

Feeling like I missed loads of quality content this year, it's been ultra satisfying to read the handful of fantastic recaps floating around the blogosphere. To name a few:          •Chasing Happy's tweet take-aways from afar          •Cedar and Rush on "Networking Like a Boss"          •Top 10 Things Blue 11 Interiors Learned at GBS          •The Live-In Kitchen on GBS and some KC love :)
Thanks again to Kat and Sarah, and all the knowledgable speakers that invested time and thought into building such a great event!



03 April 2014

Battle of the Ginger Brews!

I know what you're thinking. "Would someone, please, drink all the ginger beers and blog about it." Well, here you have it, friends. Battle of the ginger brews.

It all started with a few spunky fresh sips of Gosling's ginger beer while waiting for our meals at Genessee Royale, and I've been hooked ever since (fun fact: that's where I fell into my love for curry chicken salad, as well. Read the menu online first, though. They change it seasonally.)  Let's be real- I'm a soda gal. I know it's like tar on your insides, or something to that appalling degree, but it's not so bad when sweetened with cane sugar instead of that dastardly high fructose corn syrup villain. We make big efforts to tame our HFCS intake around here, so I will share with you the devastating news that I just announced to my apartment of one human/one feline: Of the five g-brews we taste-tested, good ol' Gosling's is the only one sweetened with the nasty nasty. That's great news for the rest, but sort of a sad trombone for what I would have probably deemed the winner...  Gosling's: The best balance of "snap" factor without overwhelming herb tones. We've had a surprisingly hard time finding Gosling's for purchase outside the restaurant scene. One day, though, it sang to us from the new corner market on 39th. Ever since, we've been buying from the back stock piled in the corner and still packaged in sixes or flats. Save a duck, snip those plastic rings!  I brought this to work for lunch one day and split it with the little guy (who couldn't get enough). Him- "So... this is beeyewr I'm dwinking?"  Me- "Wellllll, it's soda. It's like root beer. A soda. For kids." Him- "Okay, soooooo... beeyewr."  Sure. Bundaberg: First of all, isn't that sawed-off bottle novel compared to your average brown boozey vessel? I feel like I should be drinking it in the woods with close friends, a fire, and a buffalo check blanket. They sell it with a neck, too, but nah. Bundaberg seems to be really popular, and for good reason. It's good. The "beer" in ginger beer rings truer here than with any of the others shown. Its aftertaste is quite malty. I'm a bit on the fence about that and it lacks the snap of Gosling's, but aside from that it's close to the happiest medium... plus(!) it's sweetened with cane sugar.Reed's: Sold everywhere, it seems, but easily the worst in the bunch. It reminded us of ginger ale with a weird twang. If I want to drink a tainted blend of Pepsi/Sprite, I'll do so.  Go home, Reed's! You totally missed the mark.The Ginger People: Mild. Truly not terrible, but lacking that zip I crave in a ginger beer.Fentimans: There's a very present "herbs and spices" bite about Fentiman's. Potentially too intense and probably best alone, rather than paired with anything too flavorful.   
So there you have it, the great ginger beer round up from my humble "tasting buds", as the nannychild calls them.Like I said, Reed's is, unfortunately, the most common here in Kansas City. World Market sells a nice variety of specialty soda (and booze, too, if a "dark and stormy" is up your alley). That's where we found the Bundaberg, The Ginger People, and Fentiman's. The Better Cheddar is really well soda-stocked, too, as I'm sure many many other places are. Fill me in locals! Try some ginger beer and tell me about it!


01 April 2014

Yes Very Little. Yes to the Max.

 

In honor of the first day of April, I present to you the fat fattiest sunflowers Trader J's had to offer. When the first rounds of these sunny blooms hit the market in spring, it seems to me there's always a bouquet that stands behemoth beside the rest; and here one with the stem of a silver dollar diameter! In that case and the case that winter wore out her welcome, I have no other choice than to haul these monsters home with me.  But not without fielding a checkout counter inquisition as to whether it's one bunch or more (rather, how it feels: whether I'm sheisty or not, as if I'm pulling a fast one... because I take everything too personally).  

The arrival of April, in my head, means two months -ish. The West 18th Street Fashion Show is mid-June and fittings a month sooner. Why yes, I momentarily lost my mind and accepted the invitation to walk for a local clothing designer. I am a crazy person who says YES to things that'll challenge my social anxiety and help to overcome it, no matter the discomfort future Sarah takes on. Defeat what defeats you, or something of that nature. I've got two months to shed my winter skin and to find my way into the type of earth suit that'll make having all eyes on me something less than horrific. Horrific it will be, no doubt. I've thrown myself in at the deep end on this one, but life is about saying YES, right? Yes to sunflowers and scary new experiences, and all the shades  between.  



30 March 2014

via
My best (non-family) friend growing up was a blond Kevin McCallister-looking next-door-neighbor boy with a much more Mowgli wild personality.  He was an only child and his parents worked a lot, so he spent a great deal of time at our house.  He's doing well now at med school in a faraway state, but it wasn't too long ago that his mom, for whatever reason felt comfortable telling mine that his favorite childhood memory was "dyeing Easter eggs at our house".  Pretty sweet for my mom to hear, but gosh the insensitive crap kids say having no concept of parental emotions.  With Easter approaching I've been getting my Pinterest on with egg styling and it's revived my zeal for the art of dyeing. Egg dyeing with my siblings and little Dr. Mowgli, tie-dyeing and hair dyeing as a teenager, and a few nights passed... the way fresh beets stained my salad bowl with smears of bright magenta-  it is all so remarkable to me. Though it seemed to have trended a handful of years ago, I'm seeing again lately the most striking pieces of indigo shibori dyed fabrics. From swaddle blanket/mama scarf hybrids sold in a local boutique to designer pillow shams, I really can't get enough of this gorgeous 8th century Japanese method. Tie-dye sure grew up and refined herself.
via
So, I've developed a serious desire to try my hand with shibori. I ordered this indigo dye along with a couple yards of gauze-y cotton... we shall see! When it gets a touch warmer out, I'll drag myself up to the rooftop for trial or have my dye-master mama help at home in Iowa.  I'll be sure to share the results whenever they may come about.

20 March 2014

Seeds

It's been a whirlwind week or more in the 816. My nanny family welcomed a new baby girl. And boy, is she ever the most darling itty-bitty baby gem you ever did see. It's my job to sort of "fill in the blanks" in their home so while my bosses were at the hospital (11 days early!) and adjusting to home again, I was all over the darn place... or perhaps it just felt that way. The little ones' mama is on maternity leave for "sree mumfs" (3 mo.) as my nanny kid would say. Thank goodness! It's reassuring to know I'll have time to figure out this precious and newer-than-new little being before my boss is away from the nest again. Little Spy Guy is on spring break from school so to be perfectly honest, that's been the toughest routine to settle into. He's in a perpetual gears-spinning, go! to the max conversational mode and I, on the clock for attentiveness... but I won't ramble on about that. 
Speaking of new beginnings, my guy and I spent Saturday afternoon picking out seed packets and pots at Planters Seed and Spice Co. It's a family owned stretch of five store windows with original wood floors and layers of forest green paint upon file drawers. My Poison Ivy Phil got all his questions of  jewel weed and its remedial qualities answered by the encyclopedic type of plant whizard grandpa guy that everyone should have in their back pocket as a phone-a-friend.

We hauled home chive and rosemary starters to spark hope for the other bald soils. I sowed the seeds of a lettuce blend, basil, and catnip (of course). Phil speculated about my soil supply and lapped up that fresh dirt aroma.  I've never really grown anything from a seed before, but I'm an incredible caregiver of young souls. So if the seeds at least sprout above soil, and if there's any common thread here... We'll have some healthy herbs before long. 



06 March 2014

I crossed the street and the ice took me down yesterday morning. It was a traffic stopping, thermos flying, leather tote explosion. I caught the curb along with a handful of crumbled earth. So, in an attempt to restore any sort of balance in my universe, I promptly sought out some market blooms.
Also, on the note of compassion...  I was leaving said market as we do, saddled with brimming paper bags and coming upon my parked vehicle, when I stepped into that strange timing where you can read each awkward tick in another's train of thought. A policeman reached for my (yet locked) passenger door, stopped himself with a subtle halting hand before realizing so and said, "Have a good day, dear!" as he walked past me. I could almost read his heavily cop-trained mind reminding him my rights while trumping his more gentlemanly instincts. Funny thing is, it was his stutter to act  that put me ill at ease for the nanoseconds it was happening. I'm already on my guard in parking garages and it threw me into the mode of "eh! get outta there, weirdo".  He meant well, though, I'm certain! 'Twas simply an unusual exchange.

Anyway, I have a tendency to grumble misanthropically for days after witnessing a missed humanitarian opportunity... Not holding the door open for the person behind you, for example. Which is totally unfair. It's not, I know. My expectations are beasts of the wild.  Let me take this as an opportunity to say thanks to the gal that drove over to check on me, splayed upon the pavement, and thanks to the cop that may have overstepped boundaries in an effort of good intentions. Two sweet gestures in the course of half a morning. This world is inherently good, and so are these wispy springtime stems.

03 March 2014

Door to Door Organics: Review and Coupon Code

We got lettuce in the mail last week.
We're the average Millennials who like our occasional fried fish (me) and poutine (P), but for the most part really care about about what we put into our bodies and how we fuel our days.  A dear friend of ours receives CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes, and an anonymous tenant to our building has Door to Door Organics boxes waiting in the lobby pretty often. With my newly acquired intolerances and sensitive stomach, we've placed a heightened focus on eating clean lately and consuming things that grew from the ground, were plucked from a tree, or came from a mother. Produce by parcel has been on my radar for awhile, buuuut our CSA friend is the yoga-teaching-bike-across-America-health-nutty type (even she questioned a rare root veggie upon arrival) and the fellow tenant remains mysterious. Honestly, as much as it intrigued me, it intimidated me.
When Door to Door Organics reached out to me for trial I was skeptical, yet I embraced it as an opportunity to put them through the wringer and find out what snail-mailing groceries is all about. I had a laundry list of questions- all met with quick and sweet responses, mind you. Great customer service goes a long effing way in my book. Good Food Made Simple is their motto and with a once over of the website you'll realize they are telling it true. Still, I'm happy to spell it out for you. I'll give you all the answers to the dubious Q's that were bouncing about my brain. Also, a Door to Door Organics coupon code. I'll give you that, too!So, first things first. You'll pick a produce box that suits the amount of mouths you're feeding: Bitty, Small, Medium, or Large. The Bitty box made sense to the two of us. You can specify a mix of 100% certified-organic fruits and vegetables, or solely either fruits or veggies. So you're not into brussels sprouts, or you've leftover Russets from last week? No problem, you can substitute any of the items headed your way... and you always know exactly what is headed your way.Next, you'll specify the delivery date and stipulate where your sustenance stork will leave your foodbaby. You want your box placed in the garage or a cooler around back? Just let them know.  Our lobby has always been a trustworthy place to leave packages.We're good to one another in our loft building and push them past the key-coded door when we can, so I typed-in to leave ours at the mailboxes. The delivery guy called to double-check upon arrival, since it was my first time with Door to Door Organics. Quite gentlemanly, no? Oh, you're going on vacation? There's an icon in your web account to opt out for the week. Merely click to receive an every-other week shipment if you'd rather. Easy stuff. Whatever YOU want, and you're not bound by subscription.
The Friday before your food ships out you'll receive an email with a summary of your order, as well as a prompt to customize. This is my favorite part! When I say customize, I mean make your substitutions- yes, but you can also shop for numerous additional items. Meat and spices and snacks, etc. Skimming the site, you should have heard me... "They have everything!" "Babe! We can get EGGS in. the. mail!" So we did. "They have Farm to Market bread. Dude, and Parisi. And Yummy's Choice... that Greek guy that hangs out by his hummus at the downtown market." Anyway, if you're wondering about getting local goods; if you can support your city's chefs and farmers, the answer is yes. You have until 8am the day before your scheduled delivery to plan, shop, and finalize your order. Keep it as simple as that, or surf the site for recipe suggestions particular to your week's produce. Get fancy and take advantage of the meal planning tool.
I'm personally not much for planning ahead since it's usually just the two of us. One of us typically drops by the market on a daily whim or so. Having the box sent directly to our apartment re-shaped my week in a good way. In an effort to not let food go to waste (a huge pet peeve of mine) we ate a lot healthier. We branched out on seasonal veggies, since they were chosen for us. And here's the biggest deal- we spent less on groceries. I didn't shop with excessive hungry eyes for instant eats from the market, instead searching particularly online for items we'd be needing. Phil was most curious about a price comparison from the start, so sticklers we were in considering all factors. • produce prices where we'd normally shop • organically and locally grown vs. other • convenience- the idea that time is money and gasoline, too •   Again, it makes sense for us. My only complaint, and it's not truly a complaint, is that I can be too choosy. I like to turn an apple around in my palm, to pick the prettiest one. I like to know that in carrots sold by the bunch, my bunch was the fattest and most carrot-y of them all.   The eggs arrived in perfect shells, the meat was fully frozen, and the lettuce without wilts. (I wasn't joking about putting them to the test!) Because our every need was met and expectations exceeded, Phil and I plan to continue our subscription to Door to Door Organics. We want to extend the goodness, so check things out for yourselves and use promo code "lebrouillon" for $10 off your order. *Sharing my experience was encouraged by Door to Door Organics, but all opinions are effusively my own.  

28 February 2014

#WarbySurprise

Between finishing Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and showing my I.D. for more Tylenol Cold and Flu juice, I suppose I unintentionally took on a tone quite slumped and serious this week. My previous post came straight from a seasonal mush brain with too many half-thoughts for any hope of coherence. Winter is doing its best to wipe us all out. And since we don't have the privilege of pausing time to tuck into hibernation as some more wild endotherms, let's chat about the good...  
Warby Parker is a dreamboat of a business. Their team randomly snail-mailed me a copy of Jack Kerouac's On The Road: The Original Scroll accompanied by a handwritten thank you note. What a sweet surprise, right?! Their marketing team is genius, but it's not like they needed the extra applaud from my end. I've been sporting their frames and shouting it from the rooftops since 2009. (see here!) Thanks again, WP. You're so good to me.

27 February 2014

Intsagram is strangling my dear little weblog to death. The puzzle of speaking succinctly in that bitty caption box, to spit it out and be done with it; the simplicity of it suits me. My mind works in fragments- keen and deliberate, yet fragmented. I've sticky notes and note-booked blurbs, unpublished drafts, and dog-eared pages to thoughts that I found novel. For my mood to flow steadily from start to finish -throughout my words, my story, my site- it's a feat. One square snapshot coupled with caption on Instagram employs enough inventive thought to keep at bay the toil of shaping a cohesive story right here, where I want it. It is expression without endeavor. It's a truncated version of what I'd otherwise expound upon here, where there's the vulnerability of sharing too much and a continual desire to amend word rhythms. Posting feels like chips and specks, not the wholeness I want with this many words. That cohesiveness and fluidity, the ability to articulate a "whole" story that feels right is what I'm most conscious of in writing. To round out a beginning, a middle, and end takes much more for the scattered soul. It takes still more, to share the process. In truth, though, that's my 20's.  Fragments of talent and good in each day but not the story I'm ready to tell. A jack of all trades, but not a career. Exposure before preparedness is frightening for a perfectionist. It's much less unnerving to stop short, to post fewer words, to remain comfortable in an honest anonymity.... That's probably the biggest reason I don't share this space with many. Further and more generally, it's the reason I sit on my hands and hesitate to reach for greater opportunities.The process is important. I like the way words challenge my mind, so I keep coming back to this place of blabber and nonsense. I need this place to make sense of it, to remind me to push forth; I need this indefinite middle as my story rounds itself out.  



16 February 2014

Alone vs. Lonely


Our peace lily is really healthy these days. Philip has taken over our green corner and all plant watering responsibilities. I attribute to him all 51 inches of our mother-in-law's tongue and the four bright blooms of our lily. He's in Chicago this weekend with his dad and it almost appears the bloom below is awaiting his arrival. Our Theo-cat sure misses him, too, wresting rugs in his absence.

In this weekend that I have to my very sole self, I've been doing a lot of reading. I struggle with distraction in the day to day, my mind wanders and focus wanes. Reading, though I now love it, is not of my most natural aptitudes. In middle school, our talented and gifted elective pulled me from the reading hour which only perpetuated my struggle, and it wasn't until college when I really learned to take in written word. With 48 quiet hours alone, I was able to really savor the last chapters of my current read and the subject matter couldn't have been more fitting. Party of One by Anneli Rufus puts into words so many emotions I've felt before. It champions the loner subculture- those that aren't lonely, nor shy, nor secretive... but value their time of solitude. So often we compromise our nature because society looks down upon the dissociated one. The extent of the research done before writing this book is obvious as Rufus is able to paint a world-class picture of the "loner" by breaking down its place in sanity, religion, literature, marketing, and the like.

I caught myself smiling, heartened, and understood when reading this Loners' Manifesto. I no longer feel so guilty for cringing when asked, "Let's do lunch!" and have support for my shudder to the necessity of networking, with the perception that it often feels so darn disingenuous. I like people, I really do, I find them fascinating... please don't let that stop you from asking me to lunch, but this book helped me grasp my propensity to put it off. Thanks, Anneli, for shouting to my soul.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   

"Alone we feel most normal." -Rufus
"The loner who looks fabulous is one of the most vulnerable loners of all."  -Rufus
"I've always had this fear of people, not actually of the people themselves, but of their intrusion." -Kafka
"The loner has few friends not because of failure or bad behavior but because he chooses so carefully." -Rufus