Friday, December 31, 2010


Dear blog,
Sorry I've ignored you. I was painting the living room. I'm sure you understand.

Here is a talk by the author of Eat, Pray, Love, which I have not read, because I am assuming its popularity means it's trite and overly religious. I have no idea if that's true, of course, because of the aforementioned not having read it. Anyway, this talk is interesting. I find myself in the position of wanting to buy into this concept like crazy, but being too stubbornly non-spiritual to be able to. I do agree with the end idea of showing up and doing your thing fearlessly. Watch the video. It's worth 20 minutes of attention.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I love earrings

I want every pair of earrings in this shop. How fabulous are these?


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

singoff 5

And here is what we have learned from the SingOff:

1. What's-her-name is definitely more tolerable singing than speaking. Same for the host of the show.

2. Ben Folds for sure used to be a muppet.

3. We should probably buy Sheryl Crow's new album.

4. I still really really want to do vocal percussion.

Though my personal favorite was Talk of the Town, I'm pleased that Committed won. I hope they tour and make records and have a blast with it. So much talent, and a fair amount of humility, too. Don't you love that?

Monday, December 20, 2010


While I was making the ugly cookies from yesterday, I also made playdough for the kids for Christmas. It turned out really nice - perfect playdough consistency. What more could a person want?

This one's cherry-scented with red food coloring. I have about 8 boxes of food coloring in my cupboard, and only 2 still had red. Now I have no red, which will be annoying next time I need it and think to myself, oh, there's plenty of food coloring in there, no need to buy any.

This one's chocolate-scented with red and green coloring, which will - hopefully - make brown when mixed. I decided to leave the playdough only partially mixed so the kids can do the mixing and watch the solid color appear. That's always fun. And educational. And is in no way related to the fact that I am too lazy to mix it myself.

Lousy photo, but you get the idea. How cute are these little containers? Also, my eh, 5 times the recipe ought to be about right calculation somehow managed to make exactly enough playdough to fill the exact number of containers that I needed. Not sure how that happened.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


This is what peanut blossom cookies look like when you're too lazy to roll the dough into balls and instead use the much quicker but also much less aesthetically pleasing spoon and plop method.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

coupon codes, who knew?

The etsy community has been asking for coupon codes forever now, and now they have 'em. It's simple to use. The shop owner just chooses a code with a percentage off and let's people know about it. Then when shoppers check out they just enter the code and the percentage off is automatically calculated and the price automatically adjusted. I'm trying one in my paperwhisperer shop right now. It's HOL2010 for 25% off.

The system is unfortunately kind of limited; for instance, you can't use it only on certain items or items over a certain amount. But it's a start.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Went to a Rockapella concert. They are five guys. One was out of commission. So instead of doing the professional thing - canceling the show and refunding - they sang anyway. Only they didn't adjust their parts at all, just sang their repertoire with a part missing. Basically, they never quite tuned up the whole night, so your ear could never really lock into a key. There were all these weird open chords missing a note that just kinda made me cringe. The vocal percussionist was amazing, except that he was turned up loud enough to completely cover up the melody most of time (that is when there was a melody - apparently sometimes the fifth guy has it...) Not sure what the sound guy was thinking there. Or maybe it was intentional to distract from the lack of cohesive harmonies. Their bass is also amazing. I would have preferred to just listen to him sing songs all night and forget the rest. I remember these guys being brilliant, so this was a bummer. I wonder whether it was the group or the venue that made the decision to not cancel the show. Hmmm.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

singoff 4

Whoa, this show was awesome. The medleys were, well, medleys, sort of, but not really, since they were mostly just three chunks of songs in a row, not really much medleying going on. But whatever, still cool. I, of course, would have really liked the artist choices to be different - Madonna, Cyndi, Paul Simon... But yeah, I'm old. The judges and I are apparently starting to jive - well, just Ben Folds really - because I kept writing things down that they would then say. Funny.

So, the first half of the show - medleys.

On the Rocks - Elton John medley - The singing was totally solid, but I found the whole thing kind of boring. They're lacking soul. Then again they're so young! I give them a 7. They went home after the first half, and I agree with that, but they are adorable, and I give them props for getting 15 guys reined in enough to get anything done!

Committed - Usher medley - Flawless performance as usual. Not songs I cared for particularly, but they were brilliant. Plus, oh my, they are so adorable. A 9.

Street Corner Symphony - Beatles medley - I wanted more arranging and more passion. But all-around awesome anyway. 8.

The Backbeats - Lady Gaga medley - Good singing. They're definitely improving. The singing was less harsh than other performances they've given. They're robot outfits were... shiny. This group is all about the girls - odd that the guys rarely have any leads. I give them an 8.

Talk of the Town - Otis Redding medley - They just have so much soul. These guys are perfection. It's interesting that their less-is-more choreography just seems so much more dignified than all the kids' jumping around. It's a 9, just because it's still... a medley.


Part two - judges song picks. I find this an odd challenge. I would have preferred the groups to choose their own style for the last one. But at least the picks were decent songs.

Committed - Let's Stay Together - Here marks the first tear I shed during the Singoff. This performance was amazing. They passed the melody down the line seamlessly, which is a trick I really enjoy. Just wow. 10.

Street Corner Symphony - Down on the Corner - I didn't care for the percussion, thought it was a bit much. This piece was great, but I feel like their performances on the first few shows were better than this one. Still love these guys, though. 8.

The Backbeats - Landslide - This is the first time I've really really liked these guys. The arpeggiated start they did was awesome - people have no idea how hard that is. So much emotion, so much good singing without the harsh edge they sometimes get. I loved it. 10.

Talk of the Town - House of the Rising Sun - There are no words. 11.


And, if all this fabulous isn't enough, I'm going to see Rockapella tomorrow. Yay!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I want spices

I want one of each thing in this shop.

Don't these salts look awesome and fun?

Hey, mom, are you reading this? We need these salts :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

singoff 3

  • I so want to do vocal percussion. I have a good instructional DVD, but I can't do it. Maybe I could if I really really worked at it. I feel like I can do pretty many of the sounds, but I don't have the stamina to do them over and over again, which of course you have to do.
  • Everyone goes on and on about the soloist, the bass and the percussion, but people, I am here to tell you that the hardest parts to sing are the inner parts. You've gotta learn hard parts that often jump around and don't feel logical. You never get to lead - you always have to follow the top and/or the bottom, and that takes big concentration. You've gotta be so careful about intonation and volume. Inner parts are hard work that never get any credit!
  • Everyone I've talked to so far agrees with me that a certain one of the judges comes across as dumb as a post. Ugh.
  • I'm starting to think the judges are hearing different groups from what I'm hearing. And I mean, really, who are you going to listen to? Me or the judges? Yeah, OK, never mind ;)
The Backbeats - First: This is the first performance of theirs I've liked. Bon Jovi = good choice. Nice arrangement. I give them a 7. Second: Love Shack? I really could barely get past my hatred of that song to even pay attention. I did like the stacking of the chord at the very end - cool. But overall? Meh, whatever. I give them a 6, for (behold my math skills) an average score of 6.5.

Street Corner Symphony - First: I didn't think this song was a good choice. Not very rock-ish. I didn't like the arrangement or the solo very much, and I thought the balance was off. But maybe I just didn't get it. I give it a 5. Second: This one was brilliant. The arrangement was just so wonderful - lots of changes without being cheesy. The singing was gorgeous. I loved the intro. I give it a 9, which means average of 7.

Talk of the Town - First: These guys have such amazing soul and depth. There's no comparison. They are in a league of their own. Satisfaction is a 10. Second: This one was a little less intense than their others so far, but still brilliant. Their voices are just so rich. Gorgeous! I give Easy a 9, for a grand average of 9.5.

On the Rocks - First: I thought Pour Some Sugar was adorable and that the solo was good. The rougher sound the judges were asking for would not have agreed with me, I guarantee it. I think this is the best they've been so far. It was solid. I give it an 8. Second: No! This was a disaster (and this is where the judges and I were apparently watching two different shows...) Kyrie is a song I love, and I thought this was hideous. The entrance was painful, the whole solo felt uncomfortable. No no no. I give it a grudging 3 for an average of 5.5. This is the group that should have been eliminated. And I am unanimous in that.

Groove for Thought - First: Changes? Odd choice, but I liked the arrangement. This wasn't their best - it felt shaky and nervous. The soloist has a great voice, but she smiles her words all out of whack. The thing about vocal jazz, in my opinion, is that it's just not as accessible to the average listener as simple pop arranging. It needs a second listen! I give this one a 6. Second: This arrangement of You Make My Dreams Come True was so very jazz, so very NY Voices, and so very fabulous. They took a dumbish song and made it brilliant. I'm glad they kept their jazz - it's what their good at. This one was a ten, for an average score from me of 8. I'm very disappointed that they went home. Their actual singing is so much better than On the Rocks - different league, really.

Committed - Every Breath You Take was not my favorite of theirs, but it was still brilliant. I love their choral sound. I disagree with Ben - I thought it did totally rock. The judges were really hard on them, and I think it's because they're so amazing. They didn't really have anywhere to go after being so excellent so far. I give this one a 9. I loved it. Second: Holy crap. They took one of the dumbest songs ever written and made it absolutely brilliant. They cheesed up the choreography, made the whole thing hilarious, and then proceeded to sing every note perfectly. Not a flaw. This was parody at its best, and I'm not sure a lot of people even realized it. It's a 10, and I hope these guys come here when they start touring. Average score, 9.5.

I hope Committed and Talk of the Town are the final two. I just don't see any comparison. They're in a different singing universe from the other groups. Wow.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Well... I got nothin. That's not true. I got lots. But I got no time or energy to share it at the moment. So I'll just share a recommendation. This is a blog of someone I went to high school with, do not actually know, but now wish I knew, because she's obviously awesome. Check out Midwest Potato.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

sugar scrub

I wish I had taken photos while I was making it, but occasionally one has to do an activity with the intent of doing it rather than documenting it. Anyway, here's the recipe I used (after reading a bunch of options on the web, of course) to make a sugar scrub.

1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 T shea butter melted with
2 T coconut oil
1/8 cup grapeseed oil
1/8 cup light olive oil
several drops of essential oils

This was several days ago, and so far the ingredients are not separating much at all. I suspect that's because I melted the shea and coconut together, but who knows. There are no preservatives or other junk in this, which makes it nice, but also makes its shelf life shorter. Still, it should be fine for 4 to 6 months I think.

Friday, December 10, 2010


OK, I gotta say that I really love Katherine Heigl. I just think she's adorable. I'm not finished watching the 3rd season of Roswell yet, but it does get increasingly weird, as shows that start in high school tend to do as the kids get older. And oh yeah, alien shows have the get-weird-as-they-go tendency as well, I suppose. Anyway, I love some of the characters in this show a lot, and one of them is Isabel. She's the one who wants to live her own life, the one who loves Christmas, the one who doesn't want to be all alien and weird. Odd that I would like the conformist of the group, but she's good-hearted and you gotta respect that.

The other character I love love love is Maria. And I love that they let her sing. What a voice. Don't you just love altos?! This scene of her singing at a friend's funeral is so gorgeous.

And of course I just want Maria and Michael to live happily ever after. What are the chances? Don't tell me, I'm not done watching.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Singoff 2

It's so fluffy!

Questions I have after the second episode are:
  • Why does a cappella singing have to have so much choreography? Sure, it can be cool, but can't the singing ever stand on its own?
  • Who is doing all this arranging? Are these groups really doing all their own? And if so, wow!
  • Who is dressing these people? I love the outfits. The orange jackets were a little over the top...
  • Could there be a duller host?
And on to the groups:

On the Rocks - Rap? Why? I think their choreography is too big and out of control. The performance was better than I thought it would be and what singing there was in between the rapping was decent. I give them a 6.

Street Corner Symphony - I still am hoping to hear some southern gospel from them, but of course I realize they had no choice in the matter. They were awesome - great soloists, awesome high notes, great blend. Woot! I give them a 9.

Eleventh Hour - I just find them generic. Their song was lame, not much to work with in the way of arranging. They had some pitch issues. Then again they're high school kids, and considering that fact, they're pretty amazing. I give them a 5. They went home, which was the right choice, in my humble opinion.


Talk of the Town - Holy crap. These guys are astonishingly good. Mercy - what a great song choice! All around class, all around brilliant sound. Awesome. Beautiful. I give them a 9.

Nota - last year's winner. They were the only good group last year, and they are fab. So why on earth would they sing the world's dumbest song? Meh. It's OK, the Blackeyed Peas have plenty of fans. They won't miss me.

The Backbeats - I still don't like the soloist much, though I realize that is a minority opinion. I loved their "breathing" chords - neat idea. I think their overall sound is too loud and too dense. I give them a 6.

Committed - These guys have made my day. They are perfection. The arranging is simple and brilliant, the song Apologize was perfect for them, and I am floored. Just wow. I give them a 10, and I hope they win and start touring.

Groove for Thought - Yay for jazz. They are the only group using jazz harmonies, and it's gorgeous. Their intonation and balance are both great. Their dancing is a little like you might expect from a bunch of schoolteachers, but who cares! They're singing is phenomenal. This is the kind of group I would want to be in. I give them a 9.

The Whiffenpoofs - I'm heartbroken that they went home. I love their choral sound. They remind me of the Kings Singers, especially the Kings Singers doing pop music, which is goofy, but charming. And in tune :) I give them a 9.


Now, about the commercials during the singoff:

A. I think the "open heart" design from Kay jewelers is just downright ugly.

2. Why did no one veto the phrase "give the gift of asphalt"?? Seriously, that is not going to inspire anyone to get me a car for xmas.

! I want to see the new show The Cape. It has Summer Glau.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

tv update

Finished the first season of Northern Exposure.

Started the first season of Mad Men.

Halfway through Roswell. I love the cast of Roswell. More on this later.

Started a rewatch of Pushing Daisies.

Rewatched season oen of Dollhouse.

Am looking forward to the netflix arrival of Charmed season 3.

Cannot believe two people up and quit Survivor!

In between, watching the occasional episode of Bones.

I think that's it...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

singoff 1

Holy crap, this year's singoff is already far and away better than the first season, which was pretty much hideous. It's interesting to note that there are mixed and men's groups this time, but no all female groups. Sigh. As I recall, last time around, the really really bad groups were the women's groups. Again I say, sigh. The fact is that a women's group, with the crazy exception of a group like Sweet Honey in the Rock, simply cannot produce the range that SATB or men's can. It's the nature of the beast.

Here's what I wish about this show in general:
Here's my take on the groups (I know, you've been dying to know...)

Eleventh Hour - Yay for having a high school group on the show. I could live very happily forever without hearing another Justin Bieber song, a cappella or not. Good sound, though. I give them an 8.

On the Rocks - I'm pretty much done with them already. I thought all their antics and general noise covered up the melody too much. And again, that wasn't a song I wanted to hear. (Yes, I realize my taste in songs is coloring my scoring here...) I give them a 5.

Groove for Thought - Cool to have a bunch of music teachers singing. Cool to have a dad and daughter in the group. Cool to have jazz!! Great sound. They reminded me a lot of New York Voices. The judges said they didn't have enough bass. I disagree - I get tired of these groups being overwhelmed with boom. I give them a 9.

Pitch Slapped - My least favorite song of the night. Ugh. Decent quality sound, but pretty generic college a cappella. The judges were hard on them. They went home. I more or less agree with that decision. I give them a 6.

Talk of the Town - Gah! Jerry Lawson of the Persuasions is their lead, and they are just absolutely the best. Gorgeous, traditional sound. Old-time a cappella at its best. I nearly cried - beautiful! I give them a 10.

Whiffenpoofs - Brilliant. Though they seem like uppity little twerps when they speak, they have amazing sound. Their choral sound is to die for, and this is actual a cappella, in the "with no accompaniment" sense. I have never heard the song they sang; I still don't know what it was. But I loved it. I give them a 10.

Men of Note - These guys are adorable. For the Longest Time was a poor choice in my opinion - it's overdone and would have needed to be perfect. These kids have pitch and ensemble issues, but they have huge potential. The judges sent them home, which I agree with, but I hope they keep singing, because even at the bottom of the heap they were still pretty wonderful. I give them a 5.

Street Corner Symphony - Oh! So lovely. 6 guys with bright, sweet, sweet voices. I hope we get to hear them sing in their actual style, some bluegrass and gospel, because I bet it's brilliant. Still, their pop piece was great. They have amazing ensemble, and the brave choice to end with a whole phrase of unison paid off - nice! Also, the quote, "not only do we not practice, but we drink beer" - LOL. I really like these guys and hope they don't get cut any time soon. I give them a 9.

The Backbeats - Well, here's where the judges and I part opinions. I did not like the soloist, thought the sound was brash and almost unpleasant. This group had serious big-time passion for what they were doing, which I respect. But I thought they were too frantic and didn't really settle into good ensemble until the end of the song. I give them a 7.

Committed - Of course, being me, my first reaction was, oh great a religious group, ugh. BUT as it turns out, their sound is phenomenal. Besides overall brilliance, the specific things that struck me were one, the seamless transitions back and forth from choral to a cappella pop, and two, the perfect ensemble. They reminded me a lot of Take 6. I hope they get a chance to sing all-out gospel. Amazing. I give them a 10.

If I had to pick winners now, I'd want the Talk of the Town and Committed. And the Whiffenpoofs. Yep.

If I were choosing who to go next on just the one performance, it would be On the Rocks and the Backbeats.

I'm very excited to have good a cappella groups on TV. Yay!

Monday, December 6, 2010

buffyfest ornaments

Why yes, I am a nerd! Here are the ornaments I made for the Buffyfest ornament swap. They're little books written by Andrew that tell the story of Spike.

Of course I will post photos of the ornaments I receive later. So far I've gotten some shrinky dinks ornaments that are so adorable!

This is my third swap with this group, and my first two were made of polymer clay. I'm not sure I can top these, though. And I'm not sure I should...

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I got my tree late this year - two days after Thanksgiving instead of the day after... We always get the tree from the rotary club guys in Etown, because they're nice - the trees and the guys.
I went with simple aqua blue ornaments to go with my new(ish)ly painted kitchen. No, I didn't make them. They're KMart ornaments. But this can go under "I made this," right? Because I hung the ornaments. Right?

The cats really like the tree. And they want to eat my KMart ornaments.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

make your own monster!

I love this. Cutest idea ever!

This is by etsy seller katedowding. I have got to stop surfing etsy. I want everything.

Friday, December 3, 2010

fruit warmers

This I do not get at all: apple cozies. I will admit that the page of them is pretty, but seriously, are people buying these? If you get it, please explain it to me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

must have tv

Double post today because this simply could not wait. There are no words for how much I want this item.

Seriously, people, it's Jim and Pam magnetic paper dolls. I so want these. Actually, MellMo's whole shop is coveted by me. And also, now I want to make paper dolls. Someone get me a scissors.


Spiderman the musical? Really and truly? Why?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

behold the awesome

I so want these. Does anyone have $200 to spare?

These are by elseetee2 on etsy. The whole shop is amazing!


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