Monthly Archives: June 2011

You say it’s your birthday, well it’s my birthday too.

That’s right I am a year older. A year wiser, however, I am not so sure. To celebrate 22 years of me being on this earth a few friends and myself loaded up the car, cranked up the tunes, and hit the road for a mini road trip. The rule of the day was to have the open road in front of us as we drove with the windows down toward a cloud dappled blue sky ahead. It was perfect. We stopped at a farmers market and got iced peach mate tea and scones, stopped at a public garden and threw a frisbee, and ended the day in a lovely historic town with an awesome boutique and antique scene.  Since you couldn’t be there to enjoy the pureness of a good summer road trip, here is the soundtrack to mine. Now, turn up the volume, don some shades, and get in the car and drive because these tunes were meant to be heard on the open road.

Gomez – These 3 Sins:

Captain Kid -We and I:

Oh Land – White Nights:

Florence and the Machine – Drumming Song:

Bon Iver – Calgary:

Mesita – Living/Breathing:

Lissie – Pursuit of Happiness (Kid Cudi Cover):

Doves – There Goes the Fear:

Joe Cocker – the Letter:

AND MY FINAL SONG, ONE OF MY FAVORITES OF ALL TIME.

 

I hope you have a good road drip. Drive safely and buckle up when necessary.

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Hometown Networking: Affordable “Net-Zero” Homes

On Tuesday I went to a professional meeting with my dad. The plan was to network and try to get my name and face recognizable with some professionals in my hometown. That networking event led to another one. In my hometown there is a real estate project that is really pretty cool. affordable, downtown family homes that are entirely off the grid. This project is the first of its kind in the NATION! And I got an invite to see them on the day of their grand opening.

These homes have a number of features to lower the costs of living for the residents and to function in an eco-friendly way. Each home is equipped with geothermal heating and solar panels to provide energy without being plugged into the grid. That means no electric bills! They are also filled to the brim with energy-efficient lighting and appliances. In the end these houses are not only built out of eco-friendly materials, but are designed to be entirely efficient.

Each house comes with a an ipad as well. Why, you might ask. Because they are the new smart house. Temperature, security, internet, etc can be controlled from your computer. Say you have a friend coming over, the rain is pouring down, you are running late, and they got locked out of their car. Normally they would have to wait, shivering on your porch, waiting for you. Not if you live in one of these houses. You can use the camera installed at the front door to verify that it is your friend waiting, soaking wet on the porch. It streams video to any authorized pda, smart phone, or computer. And then from your computer, or whatever you have on you, you can unlock the door remotely to let them in. It is a new age for homes.

All this sounds expensive right. It’s not. You can buy the three bedroom family homes: complete with multilevel master bedroom and a basement for only $290,000 before government rebates. Or, you can but a three bedroom town home, similar to the family home sans the basement, for $250,000. Those prices are before government rebates. In today’s eco-conscious market, the government offers rebates for homeowners who purchase or build homes that are eco-friendly. The difference in price goes from $290,000 before rebate to $260,000 after rebate.

I got to see all of this because of some networking and I got to remind some professionals in my area that I am here, looking for work, and ready to see what’s going on my hometown. And, I got to learn something pretty cool. I may have found my dream home.

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Dress This Mess: A DIY (The Carry All Bag).

So I am obsessed with the fold over clutches that are popping up everywhere. Like these by American apparel and by Clare Vivier:

But these bags, as simple as they are, break the bank. Instead. I am following the advice of ECAB (Eighteenth Century Agrarian Business) and Just B. It’s a DIY experiment folks. I am going to take ECAB’s tutorial on making the clutches and Just B’s refashioning ideas to make two spectacular, versatile bags.

Here is what these two crafty bloggers came up with:

All the materials you need can be bought at your local fabric store without a problem. Here’s what you need:

2 pieces of fabric both 13.5″ by 24″. (The fabric should be a heavier weight so you can get the necessary structure for the bag. I chose two types of linen.)

1 metal zipper

need and thread

…and maybe a thimble

I am not going to belabor you with the instructions on how to make these. I am no seamstress. Instead,I am just going to direct you to ECAB’s directions here. The directions are clear and simple, she even has images to help you. I had a bit of trouble with the zipper but I worked that all out.  My DIY carry all clutch went a little like this:

 

Amazing how I went from having a zipper prepped to a whole bag! To be honest I was struggling and the prospect of photographing each step got to be a bit overwhelming. Next time folks I’ll give you the whole low down on how to do this.

Obviously my bag is a little wonky. But ladies (and the few gentlemen that probably read this), this was only take one of this DIY. I also purchased some white linen I am excited to use. For that bag I am thinking I will do the color blocking recommended by  Just B. If linen isn’t your thing I am sure you could try you hand at this with some faux leather. That will be attempt three at these bags for me I think.

The grand total cost for this bag is a whopping $13.00. I’ll take $13.00 over upwards of $50.00 any day.

Thanks ECAB for the formula and thanks Just B. for the ideas.

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Using Your Connections

I am a big believer that there is no shame in using your connections. It really is all about who you know and who they know in today’s job market. So in my own job search I put myself out there an asked to shadow my dad at a town council meeting. Some might think it is a bit shameless to mooch on your parents connections. I don’t think so. My parents, in particular, are well connected in my home town. Their connections are broad and reach far. It would be silly of me to ignore the wealth of networking available to me through them.

The meeting itself was focused on real estate development, something I know very little about. However, the board members were a hodgepodge of professionals: freelance writers, artists, journalists, architects, city planners, and business owners all came together. It gave me an opportunity to introduce myself to all of these people, and show to them that I am the go-getter type that has the balls to ask to shadow my dad in professional setting in which I am the odd man out for sure. It paid off in the end. I passed off two resumes: one to a local newspaper and one to a local businessman. It also got me an invite to a town event where dozens more local professionals will be gathering. There you go, the art of using your connections starts in the home.

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Dress This Mess: Skinny Jeans Dressed Up.

Let me be honest with you, I never excelled at the whole dressing up for going out thing. In college I was pretty much always dressed up in skinny jeans, a t-shirt, boots (or Toms shoes), and some sort of accessory. However, my new wardrobe and life no longer accept that sort of casual going out look. So my goal was to dress up my favorite pair of Ann Taylor skinny jeans in a more adult way. This is what I came up with.

(Top--Found deep in my closet, HM, price unknown: Jeans–Ann Taylor, Sale rack, $10.00: Shoes--HM, $15.00: Bag–Ann Klein, Macy’s Sale, $60.00: Sunglasses–Ray-Ban, gift: Earrings-Thrifted, $.75)

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To Be and Belong

I went to church last sunday with the family. Growing up the whole family went EVERY sunday. However, sometime during college I lost my religious drive, if it ever really was there. I went to church rarely: usually only for the big holidays. Despite my wayward wanderings away from the religious life, I joined my parents. To be honest I zoned out for the majority of the service, letting my muscle memory take me through the motions. At some point during the homily I tuned back just in time to hear the priest say, “…the challenge is to be and belong.” How appropriate, I thought. That is exactly what I am looking to do in my life. I want to be me, but belong in the world after college. But doing so is like walking on a tight-rope. If you want to belong too badly, you stand a good chance of losing your individuality and becoming more like the crowd. If you go to far into individuality you stand the chance of excluding yourself or of becoming selfish. How do you find balance in this?

The priest went on to council the congregation on the dangers of being sucked into a selfish individualism: or, the individualism that rejects the help and insight of others, the excluding type of individuality. Instead, he asked that we as people hoping to craft and find an individual self look not only into ourselves, but into the community that surrounds us. The art of being an individual is to be an individual in a way that allows you to be yourself while also belonging to that community that shapes you and in which you exist. To be and belong as he put it so aptly. I guess that is my next goal: to find a way to do this in my search for gradification.

As I said I am not a church goer. But, I guess wisdom will find its way to you when you least expect it. I don’t think this has revitalized any religious drive in me. It has just reaffirmed that I am more a believer of this dogma:

Thoughts that occurred to me
Not of the usual kind
And I don’t take it granted no
I don’t call them mine
I don’t call them mine
‘Cause in my life things
Are built on

Constant surprises
Coming my way
Some call it coincidence
But I like to call it fate

– “Constant Surprises”, Little Dragon

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DRESS THIS MESS: Lesson One (Thrifting)

Diploma in hand, I opened up a bunch of cards congratulating me on my success. They all said the same thing: “Good on ya,” “Way to go champ”, and “You did it.” Well, to be honest, they weren’t that cheesy. (I should clearly cross the greeting card writing job of my list of potential careers.) Scribbled under these prefabricated salutations were notes like “welcome to the adult world.” Being me, my mind didn’t go straight to the financial responsibilities loaded in that statement. Instead, I thought I have to start dressing like an adult now.

I am a petite girl…woman. I could easily still fit into a pair of jeans at Pacsun marketed for preteens who haven’t hit puberty yet. However, “adults” don’t wear preteen jeans. So, I immediately dug through my closet and did a major purge of all clothing the screamed teen. With an empty closet and a head full of ideas, I hit the net looking for things that would become my new adult, graduate-of-college style. I quickly found that the items I loved were far far far out of my price range. For example:

Madewell Shutter Bug Top

Madewell's Shutterbug Top for the small price of an arm, a leg, and $89.50 from my wallet.

Anthropologie's Freya BlouseA

Anthropologie's Freya Blouse for only $69.00

I quickly realized, I like expensive clothing. I also realized, I really like silk blouses. But unfortuatly, there is no way I could ever afford these with no job, meager savings, and a car that dosen’t have the strength to make it to the nearest Madewell or Anthropology. So I took fellow blogger Jentine’s (from her blog My Edit) advice on thrifting silk shirts. My town has a small thrift store called Select Seconds. I was feeling pretty unsure of myself shopping there: it quickly became apparent that I was SIGNIFICANTLY younger than their average clientele. I quickly got over my awkwardness when I spotted a whole rack of blouses, the majority of them silk!

One thing Jentine teaches about thrifting is to check the quality of the clothes you see: read the tags to check that they are 100% silk; give them the wrinkle test, silk wrinkles; and, be conscious of sizes. I ran with her advice and found three blouses, each for $3.00, and two belts, each for $.75.

Only the pink shirt is up for an immediate debut in my wardrobe. The others will have to be refashioned into something wearable. I am thinking the white shirt will be turned into something like the Madewell ShutterBug top (but with pockets). I guess my thrifting experiment has also turned into a sewing one. In the end, thrifting pays. No need to break the bank when the things I want can be found relatively inexpensively.

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