17 November 2010

Exit, pursued by a bear.

I've only got a few minutes before my next class, but I've been swearing to myself that I would blog more often, so, here goes!

I've had a sinister, nagging feeling all week that's left me mildly cranky most of the time. I've felt at odds with the world, and am realizing today that I've wasted half of the week feeling sorry for myself. I still have whining I could do, but instead I'm going to remind myself that there is no bear (metaphorical or otherwise) nipping at my heels...

I've started a few new sewing projects (I'll post pics when I'm done), and I've been cooking up a storm! There is not much more comforting than preparing (and, of course, eating) delicious seasonal foods when the weather starts changing.

Three Bean Chili

Coconut Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins

Crab and Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos

Lemon Cream Cheese Cake

Hmmmm, it does seem I was really into jalapenos and cream cheese this week, doesn't it!

Last weekend, B and I attended the annual Tulane Graduate Student Gala at Generations Hall in the Warehouse District. It was out of control, and besides the fact that they played some of the most atrocious music I've ever heard (lots of Miley Cyrus and horrific Journey and Bon Jovi remixes), there was a good time had by all!

Generations Hall

A few of the revelers

So, if you've had a cranky/sad/boring/aggravating week, just remember: Like I always say: At least you're not being mauled by a bear.

Enjoy your Wednesday, 17 November 2010, there won't ever be another one!

05 November 2010

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.

Whatever my mother told you about a childhood Just Jess running around in the snow in nothing but panties, chanting "I-like-the-cold-I-like-the-cold-I-like-the-cold"....wait, she didn't tell you? Well, winter is NOT for me. Give me steamy, sweaty, breeze-less summer days!

Last night was the first time this year I had to crawl out of my blanket cocoon to turn on the furnace. This morning was the first time my poor little bare feet had to brave the chilly floor (*note to self: find slippers*). Today was the first time I had to don not only a jacket, but a long sleeve blouse, to go to work. It is the first day I've had to feel that miserable ear ache that comes from walking in a cold wind.

I don't mind all of this, but I'm not exactly thrilled about it either. Fortunately, I live in a city with a relatively merciful winter season. And another bout of warmer temperatures is predicted for next week. But tonight will be the first night I'll have to lug around a coat at happy hour, and spend half my time peeling off/putting on layers of clothing. Ugh. When I'm out on a Friday night, the only things I want in my hands are a)a cocktail b)my cute little e-cigarette or c)my camera.

On the bright side, last weekend, the weather was magnificent! Halloween the high was 82 and the low was 65! And I was super happy with how our costumes turned out! (all from scratch except for my t-shirt and Bryan's shoes!)

All weekend I hung out with some of the coolest people you could know, and met some new folks in the process!

Though my epic Halloween weekend ended kind of badly (cab driver pulled over and threatened by cops, me = hit in the face by random Halloween reveler - LONG story), overall a good time was had by all! The only thing that could have made it better (besides possibly not being sucker-punched)was if my old Halloween-loving Oxford peeps had been here. I miss you all, so much!

I hope your Halloween was creepy and full of sweet treats! Now, onto surviving this chilly weekend! Have a great one and be safe!

20 October 2010

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Since I cannot hope or promise to do much blogging over the next two weeks, I'll take this rare moment of free time (which actually coincides with internet access) to compose a little blog about the most wonderful time of the year....October!

Everyone who knows me at all knows that, if I could have it my way, I'd wear Halloween costumes every day and always drink cider, eat cinnamon-y foods, and, of course, watch gore- and ghoul-filled films. I can't believe my favorite month is already half over! My obsession with the carefree masquerade attitude that characterizes this time of year began at a young age, as evidenced in this photo, of my "I Dream of Jeanie" inspired Christmas attire:

I feel dreadfully behind on my October mischief-making, but I've managed to celebrate the most glorious month of the year in some little ways:

I've purchased all my fabrics and materials for mine and Bryan's costumes (ssshhhh! Still a secret!)But here's a hint about mine:

I'm making Cauldron Cupcakes with my students. Here's the link to a fun tutorial

I've watched many, many horror movies (but what else is new). One I recently revisited was Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. Now I remember why I don't make this an annual tradition. It was lame, y'all, even with Donald Pleasance's much-anticipated revival of his Dr. Loomis persona. The supporting cast was pathetic, and since it was released in 1989, I was on peg-legged pants and hair scrunchy overload. It cannot hold a candle to the seriously underrated classic, Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. For that installment, the producers took an almost franchise-destroying strategy - eliminate Michael Myers all together and replace him with a villainous conspiracy plot and tag on a completely unrelated title. However, for hardcore fans like myself, this film is magic, particularly the annoyingly catchy commercial featured in the film. (PS - don't watch this clip if you are epileptic):

Tonight, after America's Next Top Model (Tyra Banks is kind of a Halloween freak show in her own right), I'll pull out a more appropriate Halloween classic, possibly Killer Klownz from Outer Space or maybe my all time favorite, Poltergeist. Speaking of, remember my killer Carol Ann costume from a couple of years ago?

Clearly, my construction skills have improved over the years. Last year's Marie Antoinette was my best effort yet. I'm not sure if I can beat it, honestly, but I'm going to give it the old college try!

I hope your holiday season is magical and spooky! If you don't hear from me before then, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

16 September 2010

Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win By fearing to attempt

Just a quick post before I run home to do a little cleaning and a lot of sewing! I'm settling well into my new schedule and I'm finding a lot of inspiration and time for being creative, which was one of my main goals in moving to New Orleans! I do find myself falling into a blueish mood at times, but it's getting much better! Had two weekends in a row full of fabulous visitors and fun, so I'm glad for a low key time this weekend. I'm feeling crafty, ambitious, and optimistic!

Labor Day brought long-lost friends as well as Southern Decadence! Southern Decadence is basically Gay Mardi Gras...clearly I was on a mission. I had too much fun collecting beads at the Friday night parade (I got alot! I was the only hag on the block!) and heckling the protesters! Saturday I watched a live reading from the Proposition 8 hearings and cheered for every fab drag costume I saw before meeting up with old friends for some good convo and beer!

I can't really show pics from our Oxford Invasion weekend, as my friends might sue me. But let me just say, it was OFF DA HOOK!!! I can't believe what a good time we had!

And here's a quick peek at my newest creations.

I don't know what to call this one, but I liked the way it turned out. It's refashioned from some curtains. I was proud of my drafting on it, except for a wonky hem due to a stupid cutting error!!!! That stunning gal in the pic with me is one of the most fabulous people you'll ever meet! I'm so glad she could visit and accompany us to Saturday's Fleur de Tease burlesque version of the Wizard of Oz!

This a from-scratch, not a refashion, but I really haven't had the cash or energy to explore my thrifting opportunities yet. I'm calling this one the Caddie Woodlawn (this fabric was originally destined to be more Laura Ingalls inspired, but then I felt like pleating for some reason). I'm pretty much thrilled with it!

What you can't see is the A-line skirt, which is super flattering, but, unfortch, not amenable to the application of pockets. *shakes fist at the sky* The bodice is based on ElaineMay's "Coffee Date Dress" that I downloaded a while back on Burdastyle.

Last night I dove into my stash again to find this nautical print cotton sateen, and decided to do a little Grace-Kelly-on-a-yacht high-waisted, soft-pleated skirt. The pic is terrible, since my camera's dead and I'm using my webcam at work, but you get the idea.

And, of course, this one has pockets!

Now I'm off to do some cleaning and (hopefully) creating! I hope your weekend is smashing!!!

25 August 2010

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want

It's been an eventful week, to say the least! If the last three days were a lesson in a book, they would be called "Making Choices on the Fly." In a seemingly short period of time, my little mind has spun out of orbit, my stomach's been in knots, and I've barely slept; I've been a serious mess! I've felt, in general, ill-equipped to make decisions, whether they be routine or hugely important. In the end, I've had to be honest with myself about what I really want out of my new life. Bryan and I spent a lot of time before we moved talking about how we wanted/didn't want our lives to change, but in my efforts to find a way to make a living and become some super version of myself, I think I forgot those goals. So, I'm composing a list:

1. I want to live like an urban explorer. I want to walk, bike, and ride public transit as often as is humanly possible and enjoy the time and space I'm traveling through at all times.

2. I want to do work that is meaningful to me and that inspires me to be creative.

3. I want to explore all creative avenues available to me. Music, books, lessons, fabric, paint, language, photos, found objects, plants, animals, ideas, experiences, you name it!

4. I want to take lots of time to spend with my husband; traveling, talking, planning, playing scrabble, and everything else that makes him pretty much the most awesome person ever!

5. I want to spend more time with my friends. I want to cook and entertain more, and I want to surround myself with amazing people and spend more time having great conversations.

6. I want to be responsible with my lifestyle, but I do not want money to be the determining factor in what I choose to do.I strive to become a clever thrifter!

7. I don't want to constantly be in fear of, or stressed about, the outcome of things. There's never an excuse to not have a good time.

...I also want a 1972 El Camino in brown or blue with vinyl upholstery....a girl has to have at least one impossible dream!

22 August 2010

She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring.

What an exciting weekend! After a lot of exploration, I now feel like I LIVE here! Counting down the fabulous events of the last few days:

1. I set up my sewing machine!!!!! I don't have pictures right now, but I've done several refashions and made one dress from scratch (though I don't really love it). It's so comforting and refreshing to return to my favorite creative hobby!

2. We went to a midnight movie, something I haven't been able to do since we left Kentucky a decade ago! We saw "Human Centipede," and I frankly don't understand why it is becoming a cult classic. It was gross, as anticipated, but otherwise a pretty weak movie. However, I thoroughly enjoyed going to some new-to-us neighborhood bars before the movie and the peaceful walk home at 3am.

3. I bought a bicycle!!!!! Her name is Sally, and Bryan's bike totally has a crush on this green piece of cuteness!Oh, and the skirt I'm wearing in the pic is a refashion from an old cute-but-ill-fitting dress.

4. After buying Sally, we went to the Creole Creamery for some ice cream decadence! They have all sorts of ingenious and unexpected flavors. This is me enjoying the Mascarpone and Lemon Zest flavor! Bryan had two scoops: Oatmeal Cookie and Bosque Pear with Balsamic Caramel!

5. After a much needed nap, we drove out to the marina to watch the sunset! It was beautiful! The skirt in the second pic is also one of my weekend refashions.

6. And after THAT, we walked down to Magazine for a couple of beers while we watched the Saints game. I'm trying my best to become a football fan, but I admit to being a bad student on this front. When we left Ms. Mae's after the game, we stopped in a local gallery opening where we sipped free wine and met some cool artists! It felt awesome to say that we were "from the neighborhood"!

7. Today we rode our bikes to La Boulangerie (MY FAVORITE!!!!) for French pastry and coffee and then continued on to Audubon Park for a leisurely ride! We stopped for a New Orleans style snoball! With the 110 heat index, it was a necessary pitstop!

Aah, now we're home to relax for a bit! I know that not every weekend here will be as exciting as this weekend, but I'm so grateful for a few days of truly getting familiar with my new stomping grounds! I hope your weekend was wonderful too!!!

16 August 2010

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.

Well, my projected summer of sewing and blogging evolved into hectic weeks of excited planning and frantic packing/unpacking.We're now pretty well settled into our cute New Orleans home. Despite a few bouts of homesickness (or, more appropriately, friendsickness), I am feeling optimistic about my future here. I have a part time teaching job lined up, and have opted to wait a couple of weeks before pursuing a second job. I think I need more time to explore and acclimate myself to the city. The cats, however, have already acclimated completely!

I can't access any of my sewing materials currently, as they are meticulously packed, Tetris-style, in a closet. Realizing how difficult it will be for me to craft in our new place has been truly difficult. I'm in a city where I want to make and wear cute dresses, but it has been approximately 7 weeks since I've sewn a single stitch.

Though our housewarming party was a fabulous time, and I was wicked excited to meet all my new neighbors, I have to admit to catching myself depressed that I can't call one of my Oxford besties to immediately meet me at the City Grocery or in my modest little carport for a cheap beer and chat. Can it be that I've lost my skill for meeting people?

On the upside, Bryan is ecstatic because he's putting the sailboat in the marina today! I admit, when compared to the relatively predictable and calm waters of Sardis, Pontchartrain makes me a bit nervous, but I'm so glad the boat will be easily accessible for daysailing.

We've also dived right in to our neighborhood! The local movie theater shows classics during the day! Last week, Bryan and I saw Casablanca on the big screen! AND they show cult movies at midnight on weekends! Human Centipede is showing this weekend, do I dare? We've explored local bars and restaurants, been to the zoo, compared several shopping options, decorated our little porch with flowers and lights, and pretended to be "real" locals when with tourists on the streetcar!

Dirty Linens Night was this weekend, so we wandered the Quarter, appreciating great art...and free drinks! While there, I saw my first in-person Mardi Gras Indian!

I'm fascinated by, and admittedly under-educated about, this unique tradition. I'm determined to learn more!

We still don't have internet at home, which has actually turned into a great impetus to get me out of the house in the mornings. So, I hang out at the bookstore on St. Charles Ave and drink entirely too much coffee. It's nice. Now I just need a bicycle!

23 June 2010

Nothing is as far away as one minute ago.

WHAT A SUMMER! I am so grateful for all the opportunities I've been given this summer, but GEEZ! I'm so busy! Here's a quick recap of my June:

It's hot.

I introduced my students to the grand Southern tradition: Moon Pie. *Actually, there have been a lot of amazing moments with my students, but I don't want to post their pics on the interwebs*

My B's been out of town a lot :(


I have sewed zilch!

I got sick *plus side - by the time I finish my antibiotics, it should be WAY cheaper to get me drunk!*

I have had time to pack almost nothing!


It's actually been kind of awesome! Though I'm clearly stressed, I'm choosing to view this summer as an uber-compact Oxford experience...my last for a while...

19 May 2010

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.

Simplifying my life has proven a seriously complex endeavor! But the last two weeks since graduation have been eventful and promising!

Having survived the fun of graduation weekend, I embarked on the epic moving process. Though we aren't technically "moving" for 8 weeks, I am determined to get a massive head start in the organization department, especially since our move involves a huge downsizing effort. We had to sign a May lease, so, technically, we already live in New Orleans. Last weekend, we took advantage and drove down to check out our new neighborhood! We're in LOVE with our new place and the location is to. die. for. B is way excited to start classes in the fall, so now I just need a job!

We were wicked fired up to eat seafood while we still can. Along with other fabulous new NO residents, we walked down to Magazine and were sad to see that Casamento's posted hours ended 15 minutes before we arrived. We resigned ourselves to finding somewhere else (not like that's a problem on Magazine), but a local informed us that they would be open an extra hour for their last day of the season!

It was a fab weekend, and I can't wait to go back next week!

Also, last week we had a send-off shindig for this shrinker

who is spending a glamorous summer in Ecuador! It's the flouncy, flouncy. We drank margaritas and sang karaoke! It was so very! Summer in Oxford will just not be the same without that slut!

This weekend will be my and B's "eleventy-onesies" anniversary! That's together 11/married 1 years! Here we are last May, alone (minus our random tourist photog)on the beach in Costa Rica, reading our vows to the accompaniment of a punk version of REO Speedwagon's "I'm Gonna Keep on Lovin' You." Perfection!

We'll be celebrating with a fancy dinner and by purchasing a fab guest bed for our new place so we'll be all set up to host all you beautiful people!

I've done zero sewing this week, but I'm organizing a group of crafty ladies to meet weekly this summer so I will always have a bit of time to create!

I hope your summer is welcoming you! We've all had one hell of a spring! Here's to a season devoid of disaster, full of friends, fun, and sunny inspiration!

10 May 2010

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.

The Epic Semester of Doom known as Spring 2010 has officially ended with the submission of grades this afternoon. I am done taking classes; please don't ask me what my next degree will be in - I've sworn off school indefinitely! Now I can settle into my planning for summer classes and feel relieved that all of my energy can be devoted to teaching and to the ever constant organizing and packing of our house.

My dad drove down for my graduation weekend, which was a great respite after a very hectic week! I did not attend commencement (there's been enough wearing of black polyester in the Mississippi humidity for me, thank you), but we had a grand time going out, cooking out and enjoying the company of good friends.

Now that I've had a bit of time to be creative (and now that I got a new camera for graduation! Thundercats, Ho!!!), I can share my latest graduation endeavors:

For Friday night, the Graduation Dress Challenge! I had three hours waiting for my dad to arrive and decided to tackle a wearable muslin. In the end, it took three hours and 20 minutes. And I don't think it turned out half bad, considering how quickly it was constructed, and the fact that it originated as a 99 cent curtain panel from Salvation Army:

For Graduation Day, the Graduation-Superhero-Retro-A-Go-Go-Party-Girl Dress! I worked on this one bit by bit in my spare moments during finals week! It began its life as one of my childhood bedsheets!

And, during the last crazy weeks of the semester, nothing can make you feel more girly and giggly than coming home to this brood:

06 May 2010

If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.

8 years.

That is how long I've been a student.

As of 3:00 pm, Thursday, 6 May 2010, that era has ended.

Feel free to call me Master-Master Jess now.

22 April 2010

Any sewers out there know how to do this?

I keep forgetting and then remembering how anxious I am to try this stitch that Shirin used for waistband of her dress for the Maternity challenge in Season 6 of Project Runway. I thought I remembered her calling it a "lattice" stitch, but can't find anything searching for that (outside of embroidery and crochet, of course). Any ideas?

21 April 2010

The camera doesn't make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.

I hadn't really thought about how much I rely on my camera to capture feelings and memories until after I'd lost it. When I was younger (before the digital revolution), photography was still a hobby, but a more expensive one, and therefore reserved for vacations and events. Then, I "saw" things and retreated to my journals.

I don't know when photos replaced words as my life-markers, but, in the absence of Happy Pink Camera, I will attempt to return to words to describe my experiences over the last few weeks, taking a cue from a friend who loves music that "sounds like air-conditioning smells":

What I've SEEN:

Affliction. Sadness and relief combined in the days leading up to and after my grandmother's death. It is the blurry wrinkled edge of an old photo. Its color is butter.

Ability. On my students' faces, confusion at times, but also smiles of a "Eureka!" nature. It is moments when completion sneaks up on you. Its color is pomegranate.

Awakening. Green trees and sprouting shoots, snows of pollen, and wispy clouds. Its color is sunrise and mangoes.

Achievement. As I slowly sift through mountains of possessions once thought priceless, I find more and more that *this cherished _____* morphs into *thing that keeps me from doing _____* It is the hiccups that keep you trying more and more ridiculous cures until they magically vanish. Its color is lime peels.

Artistry. Though I haven't had much creative time the last couple of weeks, when I have found time, I have pushed myself to try new things. It is a twitch behind your eye at the most perfect and inconvenient time. It's color is magnetic.

Anticipation! This already amazing year still has so much in store for me! It is melty ice cream in the sun and the sound of a loved voice. Its color is caribbean.

11 April 2010

A new home!....But no pictures...

This weekend, B and I drove down to our future hometown of New Orleans to look for an apartment. We have some wonderful friends who generously offered to let us stay for free!...Very generous indeed, since the first night I sleep-walked and pulled a bookshelf off the wall!...don't ask, I have no idea...

Friday afternoon I had an informal meeting with the coordinator of an exciting IEP program! It wasn't an actual job interview, folks, so don't get your panties bunched up! But it was a truly enjoyable time, and got me itching to work on some cool ideas for my summer classes!....ah, but I must get through the rest of this semester first....

Saturday morning we set off to look at rentals in three different neighborhoods. We'd decided a while back that location was our highest priority, and that we'd just have to compromise on size and storage space in exchange for a great neighborhood. The first place we looked at was in the most TO DIE FOR location....unfortunately, there was NO way we could compromise enough to live in it's teeny-tiny rooms. We sighed and set off for our next appointment...

The second place was amazingly huge, had independent bedrooms, had been completely remodeled, and, aside from having carpet, it was fabulous!....and on a very undesirable street a great distance from the places we want to be.....Sighing again, we began to consider the possibility that we might have to keep drive back and forth from Oxford to the Big Easy many times in this already insane spring before finding a home....

Then we arrived at the third destination. Now, let me tell you, this place has some small drawbacks: it's a non-closed-off shotgun - which means you have to walk through the bedroom to get to the kitchen; it's certainly not tiny, but certainly not ready to handle all of our stuff; and it's a bottom unit in a 4-plex (hope we have cool neighbors!)

However, it is two blocks from the streetcar, 1 mile from campus, two blocks from parade route, and in a very safe neighborhood full of beautiful homes, tree-lined streets, a local theater, shops, restaurants, and history: the Garden District!!!

I took many, many pictures of the house, all the rooms (with plenty of angles, so I could plan furniture arrangements), the block, the neighborhood....and then lost my camera Saturday night.

So that's my weekend, folks! I hope yours was swell! This week I begin the epic process of cleaning, organizing, and downsizing possessions! Let me know if you need anything, you never know - I might have it!

05 April 2010

We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are.

There have been no less than five moments today when I honestly felt like I couldn't continue. It seems I have either nothing or fifty things to do at any given moment. The realization that got me through today was that I didn't HAVE to continue, but I wanted to. As of this moment, 10pm, I have successfully (well, somewhat) maneuvered yet another hectic day...and I still love my job, my life, and all the people in it!

This weekend I had a whirlwind trip home to Kentucky to visit the fam! I had a brilliant night of hanging out with the Hardy clan on the back porch around a fire pit on a beautiful evening - what could be better! I visited with my grandmother in the hospital, and I'm ecstatic to report that she's doing remarkably better and will be moved out of the ICU into a regular room soon - what could be better! Saturday night a fab girlfriend and I went to my favorite Lexington drag show at Pulse - what could be better?!?!? This pic was intentionally blurry, but also adequately captures my condition toward the end of the evening...

After feeling stressed all day, I also thought I'd share some of the things I have to look forward to after a few days of chaos:

I have a meeting on Friday in New Orleans! We're *hopefully* going to find a house on Saturday! AND I have a fabulous new stash (thrifted as well as gifted from my fab hoarder mom) to explore soon! Check out these patterns I got for 29 cents each at a thrift shop in KY!!!! The 60's dress is my most fave!

And this gigantic ziplock bag? FULL of fabrics and fab childhood bedsheets!

And some gorgeous non-thrifted (but on sale) fabrics for spring dresses!

One of these days I'll have enough free time to use these things, but for now, it's exciting just to contemplate them. Enjoy your night, folks! And, when all else fails, just remember: as bad (busy, ugly, stressful) as life gets, at least you're not being mauled by a bear!

31 March 2010

The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague.

I've been trying to get around to blogging for days, but have, once again, been having technical issues. Not to mention, I'm still busy as a moth in a mitten, even after surviving comprehensive exams last week! But I have several things to be excited (and somewhat vague) about!

I'm excited that it's spring!!!!

After several weeks of feeling like my responsibilities were trying to draw and quarter me, this week I'm excited about teaching again! In both my writing classes, we're discussing advertising, and ways to use words to "sell" your ideas. We're working on a big group project that everyone already seems excited about (*crossing fingers*)!

I'm also excited about the ever so slight possibility that I may be much closer to having a job lined up for the fall! I'm afraid to talk about that too much right now, so I'll just give you this image...

And I'm also excited that this week I've found the time to return to my creative endeavors....with a vengeance! I'll leave you with some images and hopefully be back soon!