what's making me happy this week 02.21.14: angel olsen, floyd legs and swants

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photos:
1) my gym bag, my sanity
2) my aged pug, taken by my daughter, up close and personal
3) noritake mardi gras dinnerware, photo from the fox and th espoon esty store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/thefoxandthespoon
4) making dinner, why yes i do have harvest gold kitchen counter tops…still…they’re starting to grow on me…no, no they’re not
5) love this, ann arbor alley in the snow, photo by courtney sacco: http://photos.mlive.com/8002564/gallery/photo_gallery_ann_arbor_during/index.html#/0

In addition to the tiny patch of blue sky I am craning my head to look at right now, and the bright blurr of a sun trying to burn it’s way through the gloomy gray cloud cover…there is much making me happy this week:

1) Exercise is making me happy…maybe not always while I’m doing it…but always afterward. Honest to god it keeps me sane. Particularly this winter. You know what’s great exercise if you can fit it into your schedule? Studio cycling/spinning. If you have the time, try out a few instructors to see whose music you like best, get there early enough to have the instructor help you adjust your bike. Select a bike in the back row so you can unself-consciously gear down when you need to and/or stand to pedal when your crotch goes numb (it gets better). Don’t worry about cycling shoes, but do bring a water bottle.

2) I heard so many great bands at the Ann Arbor Folk festival last month: Seth Walker, Justin Townes Earle, Pearl and the Beard, Iron and Wine, Neko Case (rocking some skin tight skeleton pants), Willie Nile (a cross between the Ramones and Bruce Springsteen, what?!) and Ann Arbor’s own Appleseed Collective.

But the band that really got under my skin…that I’m trying to decide if I love or just like, is Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. Thao Nguyen is an incredibly talented musician, singer and songwriter. She plays all things stringed and more. In addition she is smart and original: I have not heard anything like her before.

Here is one of Thao’s songs I have been listening to this week: We the Common (for Valerie Bolden)

(Extra points for the split second appearance of Judge John Hodgeman and Ira Glass in this video.)

2. Angle Olsen’s warbly, true voice is making me happy this week. And she looks like my little sister Jen.
Listen to her here at her NPR Tiny Desk Concert.

3. Noritake Mardi Gras dinnerware makes me happy.
I am part of a Mid Century Modern facebook page where someone posted this week that she had found some Noritake Mardi Gras dinnerware at an estate sale. I had never heard of it, but the shape and pattern make me happy.

4. Some cool kids (University of Michigan design grads) are making me happy…They had a kickstarter to produce their “minimalist” Floyd Leg—table legs that can be easily attached to and removed from any kind of flat surface, such as repurposed doors. They were hoping for $18,000 to startup, but ended up with $250,000!

Why does this make me happy? Real people seeing their ideas realized…Design that marries form and function…

5. Goofy gals make me happy, particularly Katy and Katie and their Just the Tips youtube channel. Check out their, how to make swants video.

6. This 3 minute history of the bicycle video makes me happy for the visuals…design, color, light…

7. These photos of Ann Arbor in the snow by photographer Coutney Sacco. The photos were taken at night, and are lovely…and remind me that I should stop being such a baby about the dark and cold and should get outside with my good camera sometime…
http://photos.mlive.com/8002564/gallery/photo_gallery_ann_arbor_during/index.html#/0

8. Having time to cook dinner in the evenings makes me happy. This is a weird flip for me, as I used to hate making dinner and could relate, a little, to Marge Piercy’s poem, What’s That Smell in the Kitchen.

Haha. No, it was never that bad, but it was difficult to fit it in with everything else.

Now that I am not spending my weekends and evenings dragging children through science fair projects, or baking class valentine treats or attending school meetings (which, in truth, I miss,..a lot), I have much more time for making dinner. I always plan my week’s meals on Saturday or Sunday and often will prep the night before. The chore, and I do still think of it as a chore, is made tolerable, pleasant even, by a glass of wine and a podcast.

There has been more making me happy this week, like my son’s first official college visit yesterday and another one today. That makes me happy…but also a little sad…more on that another time.

Hope you are spotting patches of blue sky among the grey clouds where you live! Both literally and metaphorically! xoxo

winter survival

February 17, 2014

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photos:
1) grapefruit cookies i made for valentine’s day
2) a bag of grapefruit cookies and chocolate for a friend
3) the sun! reflected in a puddle at gallop park
4) shopping for my niece’s baby shower, so many adorable baby clothes
5) love these baking cups, they also make little colorful, cardboard loaf pans that you can bake in
6) my sister made this…i have incredibly talented sisters
7) the huron river from a bridge at gallop park…see? winter really can be beautiful

Ann Arbor consistently makes it into top ten city lists: best places to live in the US, best drinking water, best college town, best cities for aging, best city for singles, best place to raise a family, happiest cities in the country (we’re fifth!). (If you want to learn more about Ann Arbor rankings, check out this 2012 article from annarbor.com: http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbor-often-placed-on-top-ten-lists/)

This past week we made it onto another top ten list, Ann Arbor was ranked the sixth snowiest city in the U.S. Gah! I like snow, I do. I love the change of seasons. I love the first flakes. I love the beauty of a snow covered landscape. When I can finally talk myself into running outside during the winter, I do love being out in it.

But we have had more than what we’re used to this winter. We are exhausted from cleaning the sidewalks and driveways. We have ice dams on our roofs that threaten to leak into our houses when they thaw. Our city streets are getting narrower and narrower as snow accumulates along the sides, and I am starting to get annoyed with my neighbor who parks at the end of my driveway, making it difficult to get out due to the snow build up in the street.

I don’t want to be irritated with my neighbors and I’m tired of the cold and the gloom. I’m tired of having cold feet and shoulders hunched against the cold. I’m tired of layers. I’m tired of the dry heat from the space heater in my office. I miss the sun.

Surving this winter without being an obnoxious whiner baby, or continuously grumpy, has been a challenge. I have fb friend who is ceaselessly gleeful about the snow. I thought maybe trying to change my attitude about the snow to be more like Julie’s may help. I tried, for about a week. “Oh the lovely snow!”, “Oh good, more snow!”, and then no. I couldn’t keep it up.

I’m really very tired of the snow.

So now I’m working on the distraction survival technique– keeping as busy as possible so I don’t have time to fret about the snow. So far, it has been mostly working, except that since it is winter break for the public schools this week, my fb newsfeed is full of sunny photos from Florida and Hawaii and today’s forecast? 4-6 more inches (10-15 cm).

Gah!