Wednesday, August 31, 2011

{the decemberists}

Quick backstory: a long time ago I used to work for a theatre company as a carpenter. (I know, right?) While we spent our days building sets and painting scenery, we listened to an odd and eclectic array of music that our lead scenic designer had in his collection. I learned to appreciate (or somedays merely tolerate) artists such as the Flaming Lips, the Postal Service, Regina Spektor, A Girl Called Eddy, Zero 7, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stevens, and the Decemberists. Despite my initial skepticism, over the course of four years working in the shop, I grew quite addicted to the music and now have a lot of it in my own personal collection.

In particular, The Decemberists is a band I still listen to quite often, and subsequently got most of my friends addicted to, as well. While living in Raleigh we attended a few of their concerts and were always delighted by the creative instruments, the clever lyrics, and the terribly unique voice of the lead singer, Colin Meloy. (Note: if you're intrigued and want to listen to their music, I recommend the songs "We Both Go Down Together", "July, July!", or "the Infanta.")

Flash forward: after moving to Oregon, I discovered that the Decemberists hail from Portland (imagine that!) Actually, it doesn't surprise me, much. Their "sound" has always reminded me of what I thought Portland must be like. But upon doing a little research (and finding this article in the Oregonian the other day) I learned that Colin Meloy and his creative, illustrator wife, Carson Ellis, wrote a book together!

It's called "Wildwood" and it's a fantasy novel inspired by the beautiful Forest Park which engulfs most of Portland. Integrating known landmarks and imagination-inspired characters (as can only be designed by those who are familiar with Decemberists lyrics), the book is sure to be a success. Both Meloy and Carson have fan bases all their own, and bringing their two talents together should result in something wonderful. I, for one, can't wait to read it.

Note: while writing this blog, I discovered that the Decemberists were in town playing a concert this weekend and I totally missed it. Fail. :(

Learn more:
{the decemberists}
{carson ellis's portfolio}
{wildwood} -- you can read the first four chapters here for free!
{design*sponge special on the decemberists}
{the Oregonian article}

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

{first glimpse of the sea}

Last week Tanner and I spent one of our days off walking along the misty, sandy shores of the Pacific Ocean. Being that he has spent his whole life on the east coast, he has never seen this particular rim of the continent. It was delightful to see his reactions to this wild and wonderful edge of the world.

The west coast is so different from beaches back home -- there is no sunny, hot sand to curl your toes in, to lay your beach towel upon and lie in the sun until you come home crispy. There are no children with sand buckets and shovels, nor couples lying under umbrellas with sunglasses and books to read. There are no white dunes and no piers that stretch into endless sea.
Instead, there are sheer, dark cliffs which plunge into wild ocean. There are dark, pebbled beaches where the water is frigid to the touch, and small, black stones that have been washed smooth by the ebb of the tide. There are mysterious formations of rock which litter the seaside, and misty, hazy clouds that hang over the mountains. There's a sharp, cool breeze and surfers keeping warm in tight neoprene suits as they face the churn of the whitecaps. It's a different kind of beautiful.

"What do you think of the Pacific Ocean?" I asked Tanner as we walked along the seaside, eating ice cream as our hair whipped crazily in the wind.
"It's biiiiiig," he whispered.

Friday, August 26, 2011

{pop, coke, or soda?}

Being that I have lived in four different geographic regions in my life (midwest, southwest, south, and northwest) I'm pretty fascinated by cultural differences. I feel like a strange hybrid, myself, with no particular regional accent or ties (my family is from everywhere!), but I think it endlessly interesting to pick out the differences in how people speak, act, and especially the colloquialisms they use.

Family reunions are entertaining for just this reason: I find it funny the way my Chicago cousin pronounces the word milk ("melk"); the way my New York cousin pronounces the words "Mary, merry and marry" three distinct ways; the way my Wisconsin family croons, "yah -- oh-kaaay!"; or the way my South Carolinian family sounds with their slow drawl.

Tanner is from the deep south, so when we first started dating, a lot of our phone conversations sounded a lot like this:
Me: "Ok, pronounce the word 'w-h-i-t-e."
Him: "Whaa-yt."
Me: "And what do you call it when it rains and the sun's shining?"
Him: "The Devil beating his wife."
Me: "How do you say s-a-l-m-o-n?"
Him: "Sal-man."
Me: "And p-e-n?"
Him: "Pin."
Me: "But then, how do you pronounce 'p-i-n'?"
Him: "Pin."
Me: "That's the same word, Tanner."
Him: "No, 'pin' and 'pin.' Totally different."

I thought it cute how he said funny things like "that dog just ain' gonna hunt", or "down the road a piece", or often, just "y'all" or "ma'am." Now that we're in the northwest, these differences are much more apparent. He's the easily recognized southerner in a region outside his own.

As we live here longer and longer, we're noticing little things that are quite different from the southern culture we both grew up with. Northern people are brusquer, timelier, need things done quick, fast, and in a hurry. There's no slow and friendly, "how's your family?" talk at the counter, but just an expectation to complete the encounter in a speedy fashion. "Southern Hospitality" is not a myth but a way of life in the south, and I'm finding that I took it for granted, and now I miss it.
I also find it interesting that I had a vision of a diverse and unique people in Portland, but it's immediate apparent to me that there's much less diversity in nationality and ethnicity -- at least in Oregon -- and that the uniqueness stems, instead, from people expressing themselves differently in their dress, appearance, and behavior. It's rather fascinating, and certainly leads to great people-watching. I'm not opposed to either way of life, but it certainly does take some getting used to if you've only known one way. I feel like I'm going through a bit of culture shock.

Back to the topic of colloquialisms, an interesting regional name that gets everyone heated up is the correct label for a carbonated beverage. Depending on where you live, it might be a "pop", "soda", or "coke." I have never been able to figure out where the dividing lines are between these regional subtleties: when I lived in Oklahoma I grew up calling it "pop", but once I moved to North Carolina I got odd looks when I called it such -- a pop was a punch in the face, not a soft drink. By the time I got used to calling it "soda", I moved to Oregon and it was back to "pop" again. Tanner, on the other hand, has been calling it "coke" his entire life.
In the end, I guess it's a good thing I don't drink the stuff.

I did stumble across a cool map the other day that puts to rest my confusion about regional boundaries. After research gleaned from across the US, a map of states and counties was compiled to show where each name was said the most frequently. If you click on the map you can click on each state and see it broken down by county. Interesting!

What "culture shock" moments have you had in your life?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

{chocolate fruit smoothie}

I've been making smoothies a lot lately. First, because they're delicious. Second, because I have lots of fresh fruit in the house due to my CSA food drops, and third, because Tanner will drink them, too.

This one is simple and yet delicious... don't be distracted by the strange color. Just imagine: it tastes like chocolate dipped strawberries. Promise.

{strawberry/ blueberry chocolate smoothie}

1 cup fresh frozen strawberries
1/2 cup fresh frozen blueberries
1 ripe banana
Lite chocolate soy milk (to desired consistency)
(Note: if you didn't freeze your fruit, you'll want to add ice cubes to make the smoothie cold)

Place everything in a blender and blend until creamy. The amount of soy milk you put in determines how watery/thick it will be. Feel free to add different fruits (blackberries are delicious, and yesterday I made one with overripe pluots, orange juice, and vanilla soy milk... yum.) Also, you can add a small amount of veggies to this without destroying the fruity taste, if you'd like more leafy greens in your diet.

I also highly recommend purchasing reusable smoothie cups with straws. These two were gifts (thanks, Mama Goodson!) and they always make smoothie time way more awesome. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

{the selective attention test}

This is called the selective attention test. Can you solve it correctly?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

{anthropologie crush}

I made the mistake of visiting Tanner for lunch the other day.

Let me rephrase that... I thoroughly enjoyed having lunch with Tanner. The mistake was that he works fairly close to an Anthropologie, so if I'm in the area already.... how can you resist, right?

My latest obsessions:

The candle smells so delightful that I want to eat it every time I walk into Anthropologie. Sadly, one of the disclaimers on the bottom notes, "no matter how good they smell, candles are not edible!"

Either way, I have one "Volcano" flavored candle sitting in my living room now, making my house smell delicious.

Also, I completely adore anything by the Australian poet Kylie Johnson. Anthropologie carries her stamped dinnerware as well as two poetry books by her. I always stop and read them when I walk through. The phrasing of each poetic line is so perfect it makes me ponder the deliciousness of it before moving on. It reminds me to carry a notebook in my purse and jot my own thoughts down throughout the day.

The dress I adore, but I found an even more amazing one in store that I can't seem to find online in order to show you a picture. Green, corduroy, halter top with fluffy chiffon beneath to make it swirl.... I love it so much I almost don't mind the price tag. Almost. I'm hoping it goes on sale, soon, or I'll be forced to take desperate measures and buy it anyway.

Actually, edit: two days after falling in love with the corduroy dress, I returned to Anthropologie to show it off to Tanner, half hoping he'd hate it and I could get it out of mind. Unfortunately, something tragic occurred: I couldn't find the dress anywhere!
I asked the front desk, and they said it had sold out in the short time between then and now. They weren't sure if they were going to get more in, but would I like to see if another store had it in stock? Sure, sure. Why not?

Two calls later, the very last one in my size was found, and before I knew what I was doing, the dress was on order and shipping to my house in 5-7 business days. Oh, Brittany. What have you done?

Tanner was reading How to Live Like a Gentleman quietly on one of Anthropologie's lovely vintage couches, and I returned to him with a shameful look, admitting that I had bought the dress.
But despite the silly cost (I hardly ever buy nice things for myself, honestly, and never clothes...) I don't feel much buyer's remorse. Actually, I'm pretty stoked. I love wearing dresses and this one is pretty stellar. More to come.

Oh, and Tanner enjoyed his reading time so much that he bought the Gentleman's guide. It's just another small step before he's addicted to Anthro, too :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

{mirror lake}

Tanner and I rarely have the day off together, and since I love hiking, that's generally what I do when I have the day to myself. Normally this means I'm hiking alone (though not really.... nice days bring out throngs of people to trailheads) but this time I met up with a nice couple who started the hike to Mirror Lake at the same time I did, and we ended up hiking four hours together. It amazing how much you can learn about a person in that much time, especially if your common interest is the outdoors. There's always something to rave about.

This particular hike, and the view from the top of Tom, Dick and Harry mountains is what kept us talking.

Friday, August 19, 2011

{camp wandawega}

Picture this: once upon a time, a newlywed couple purchased 25 acres of lakeshore property in the small town of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The property was once a 1920s resort, owned by many people over the years, transformed from speakeasy to brothel to a Latvian resort run by Catholic priests.

The groom and his family had spent every summer there since he was born, and he had fond memories of the resort's lodge, cabins, tennis courts, shuffleboard courts, archery range, horseshoe pit, piers, and rope swing beside the lake. When the priests finally decided to sell the property, the newlyweds jumped at the opportunity.

What they received was a run-down, broken, tired resort that ached with age. What they transformed it into can only be described as an act of love. From vintage knickknacks, to classic canvas boy-scout tents, to renovated cabins, the newlyweds created a new resort from an aged memory.

What a beautiful life, to transform such a piece of history into something beautiful and new. I encourage you to read the entire story of {Camp Wandawega} through {The Lettered Cottage}. The story is told in parts throughout the week, so read about each piece in turn: the {day one background story}, the {day two storybook}, the {day three treehouse}, the {day four tent hill}, and the {day five wedding and nursery}.

Enjoy the tale. I know I have a new life ambition, now!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

{etsy find: sweet harvey}

I have a soft spot for screenprints and letterpress... today's etsy find has both. Enjoy smiling at the delightful creations of {sweet harvey}! I adore the whimsical creatures she creates -- foxes, robots, peacocks and flowers -- for her cards, tote bags, aprons, and napkins.

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