Monday, February 20, 2012

Wardrobe Redux Tutorials

I’m bored with my work clothes & have very little to spend on anything new, but I’ve got shelves, drawers and hangers full of stuff I don’t wear anymore for a variety of reasons. A lot of it could be made into other things. So I’m going to try to do that! Here are a few of the tutorial projects I hope to complete. I will use these as a guide and may make a couple versions based on the inspiration below.

Shawl Collar Sweater Tutorial from the Cottage Home blog. This would be cute in various weights of sweater material as well as woven fabric. I wonder what type of fabric would be strong/stiff enough to make that awesome collar, but soft enough to drape below?

Ruffled Infinity Scarf from Skip to My Lou.

Ruffle Neck Top from How Joyful. I believe I will be making this top out of my wedding dress. Yes, my wedding dress! I’ll try to post a pic. I wore a wine-colored, long, shift with a sheer overlay & matching sheer blouse. The style is outdated and I bought it so I could wear it again. So – if I can turn it into something (or thingS) that I like, I’ll be able to have a keepsake of my wedding more in the forefront of my memory, compared to how infrequently I think of it as it’s in the back of my closet.

 Catch and Release scarf from presser foot.

Museum Tunic from Anna Marie Horner.Mine would be a tad shorter, or long like a maxi. I have one of these from Target and it is sooooooo comfortable. I’m wearing it right now, in fact. Perfect alone w/bare feet or flip flops, with leggings & sandals, with tights/boots and jacket/sweater.

 Spring Infinity Scarf from The Cottage Home (again).

Pleated Knit Scarf from Make It and Love It.

 Ruffled Scarf from Make It and Love It. I like the idea of doing this scarf in a fabric with a repetitive pattern like polka dots, stripes, grid, plaid.

Casually Cute Knit Dress from Made It On Monday.  I have a dress with a similar cut – it has little puff sleeves and a cowl neck, but I’ve been wanting to try to recreate it. I’m hoping this tutorial will help!

Do you have any shopping or re-purposing plans for your wardrobe?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dance Party Tuesday - Pet Sounds

This year's Grammys featured a tribute performance for the Beach Boys, as well as a performance by the Beach Boys themselves - together for the first time in many years. I was raised on the Beach Boys as my Dad is a big fan, and now I'm a big fan.

I'm usually a little cranky when people perform Beach Boys tributes or select them for countdowns - they always focus on their early work, the surfing songs. I do love those songs - they're fun, beautiful and emotional. I would love to see more of their later work highlighted, though, and songs that weren't radio hits.

Me, during the Grammys:

So! Today you get a Dance Party Tuesday. We're going to run through my favorite Beach Boys album, Pet Sounds. <---- Click that link! It's the wikipedia page for the album. I know all of it because it's in the liner notes to the anniversary edition of Pet Sounds, which I pored over for hours. Fascinating!

Arguably one of the best pop albums ever written (Rolling Stone gave it the #2 spot among the 500 greatest albums of all time), and historic. No, really. This group was emo back in the 60s, y'all!! Lush harmonies, emotional topics and musical complexities abound. Talk about a wall of sound. The album starts out with some songs you're likely familiar with, but keep on listening down into the ones that didn't go to radio.

Down below the album videos are a few documentary bits & pieces I found. Happy watching/listening!

1 - Wouldn't It Be Nice

2 - You Still Believe In Me

3- That's Not Me

4 - Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)

5 - I'm Waiting For That Day

6 - Let's Go Away For A While

7 - Sloop John B

8 - God Only Knows

9 - I Know There's An Answer

10 - Here Today

11 - I Just Wasn't Made For These Times (my favorite from the album! Emo, gorgeous vocals, layers, sigh)

12 - Pet Sounds

13 - Caroline, No

Bits and Pieces

There's more Behind The Sounds videos for each song on Pet Sounds, here! Each video has tons of great info, photos and film footage and I can't wait to watch them all.

Here's a podcast about the engineering and recording of Pet Sounds and how it impacted pop music of the time. Please ignore the fact that this dude seems to be reading a Beach Boys book report.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'll Forgive You . . . As Long As I Already Like You

Lately I’ve been thinking of public figures – politicians, people in big business, athletes, clergy, performers and other leaders – and how we react when they make big mistakes. It’s been interesting to note, since deciding to write a blog post about this, how often I see the average Joe passing judgment on someone famous. Kind of like buying a car and now you see it everywhere, you know?

What I’ve noticed more than anything else is that we are pretty inconsistent with our judgment, and what we do with that judgment. For example, last night during the Grammys I was on Twitter with a lot of other people, and saw a lot of my Black friends react with displeasure to seeing bands with names like Lady Antebellum and The Civil Wars. One person asked something like, “Is it that country fans don’t know what antebellum means, or they just don’t care?” Of course this was immediately after I’d tweeted something about how awesome The Civil Wars are and everyone should get to know their music.

So which am I – a fan who didn’t know what these terms referred to, or a fan who just didn’t care? I suppose I'm both. I’ve been a Lady Antebellum fan for a while now – well over a year – and though I was familiar with the word (antebellum – I have no idea what the hell a “lady” is), if I’d been pressed for an exact definition, I would have fumbled and not been able to give a good answer. I knew it represented something old-timey and was associated with the South. But I didn’t really think about it when I started listening to them. If you're not aware, antebellum can refer to a period before any war, but in an American context it refers to the years before the Civil War in the 1860s. You know, the good old days. The Civil Wars was much easier – I definitely know what a civil war is. Now, the truth is that their band name doesn’t refer (entirely) to the American Civil War – it refers to the battles we have in relationships. But! The woman in the male/female duo said she was thinking about these tensions at the same time as she was driving around Nashville & seeing Civil War monuments, and the name clicked.

I feel like crap both for not noticing how these band names could call up serious negative associations for a lot of people I care about (oh, hello, White Privilege) . . . and because I really like these bands and don’t want to sop listening to them! That’s what you’re supposed to do when you learn that someone you like or support has done something you don’t like or support. Right?

It’s so easy to excuse people when we already like them. The people who are in these two bands are probably very nice people and my guess is they are probably not the type to have Confederate flags around . . . but someone out there is never going to listen to their music – and maybe they would have really liked it – because of the band names. I wonder, where does that person stand on any number of other musicians who have said, done or associated themselves with terrible stuff? Did they stop listening to them?

Another example from last night – Chris Brown. Many people were disgusted that the Grammys chose to honor him with award nominations and (multiple!) performance slots, due to his abuse of Rihanna, his former girlfriend. My Twitter timeline was flooded with complaints, facts about domestic violence and ill-will in his general direction. What immediately came to my mind – and someone else tweeted this very thing – was remembering 2011 when I spent MONTHS reading people’s supportive Twitter comments about Charlie Sheen. This man didn’t just beat up one girlfriend – he spent decades beating girlfriends, wives, prostitutes. Yet even though this is public knowledge, the most recent incidents weren’t long ago, and all this information was included in just about every article that discussed his meltdown, you COULD NOT GET AWAY FROM THE WORD "WINNING". No, not everyone used it ironically. People thought he should be back on Two and a Half Men. People also spent their money to go see him in a comedy tour. Surely some, if not many, just wanted to see a train wreck, but nevertheless they were throwing financial support his way.

Maybe, like me, they loved the young Charlie Sheen from the movie Lucas. He was such a good guy in that movie. He couldn’t help it if he fell for Kerri Green, dang! Or maybe it was his great performances in Platoon, Major League or Wall Street. Whatever the case, people excused/ignored his drug addiction, his abuse, his unprofessional behavior. But man – Chris Brown should just go straight to hell, right? Now, I agree that Chris Brown hasn’t done much to help his image – his antics and crap apologies don’t make anyone feel he’s sincerely atoned or grown. But did Charlie Sheen ever apologize? If he did, it wasn’t the sort of apology and change in behavior that we’ve seen in other celebrities who messed up big.

We all get upset at public figures for different reasons, and I can’t say that we don’t all have the right to. I don’t know anyone who uses this sort of judgment consistently, though. I know I don’t.

Do you think you do? If so, what does that look like?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sometimes It's Good to Make a Plan

Things I Hope To Write About, So Don’t Let Me Forget

Why it’s important to model anti-racist beliefs for your kids, (why it's not enough to just talk about them). How you, as a parent who might live in a racially homogenous area, can develop genuine relationships with people outside of your race. How you can normalize other races for your kids.

Music albums that have made a big impact in my life.

The way we all forgive our favorite public figures more easily (even when they do our most hated thing) than we forgive those we don’t like from the beginning.

Conservative Christians and my frustration with them not calling out their political leaders for doing stuff that is a slap in the face of their faith.

Some of the reasons I am no longer a devout Christian. This one will probably be about the gays.

The Word of Faith movement in Christianity. Spoiler: NOT A FAN.

Me and social media: my journey during the last few years and where I’m headed next.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Library Haul

The Reservoir by John M. Thompson

Review from Amazon: On an early spring morning in Richmond, Virginia, in the year 1885, a young pregnant woman is found floating in the city reservoir. It appears that she has committed suicide, but there are curious clues at the scene that suggest foul play. The case attracts local attention, and an eccentric group of men collaborate to solve the crime. Detective Jack Wren lurks in the shadows, weaseling his way into the investigation and intimidating witnesses. Policeman Daniel Cincinnatus Richardson, on the brink of retirement, catches the case and relentlessly pursues it to its sorrowful conclusion. As the identity of the girl, Lillie, is revealed, her dark family history comes to light, and the investigation focuses on her tumultuous affair with Tommie Cluverius.

Tommie, an ambitious young lawyer, is the pride and joy of his family and the polar opposite of his brother Willie, a quiet, humble farmer. Though both men loved Lillie, it’s Tommie’s reckless affair that thrusts his family into the spotlight. With Lillie dead, Willie must decide how far to trust Tommie, and whether he ever understood him at all. Told through accumulating revelations, Tommie’s story finally ends in a riveting courtroom

Based on a true story, The Reservoir centers on a guilty and passionate love triangle composed of two very different brothers and one young, naive girl hiding an unspeakable secret. A novel of lust, betrayal, justice, and revenge, The Reservoir ultimately probes the question of whether we can really know the hearts and minds of others, even of those closest to us.

Solomon’s Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson

Review from Amazon: Glory Solomon, a young widow, holds tight to her memories while she struggles to hold on to her Central California farm. She makes ends meet by hosting weddings in the chapel her husband had built under their two-hundred-year-old white oak tree, known locally as Solomon's Oak. Fourteen-year-old Juniper McGuire is the lone survivor of a family decimated by her sister's disappearance. She arrives on Glory's doorstep, pierced, tattooed, angry, and homeless. When Glory's husband Dan was alive, they took in foster children, but Juniper may be more than she can handle alone. Joseph Vigil is a former Albuquerque police officer and crime lab photographer who was shot during a meth lab bust that took the life of his best friend. Now disabled and in constant pain, he arrives in California to fulfill his dream of photographing the state's giant trees, including Solomon's Oak.

In Jo-Ann Mapson's deeply felt, wise, and gritty novel, these three broken souls will find in each other an unexpected comfort, the bond of friendship, and a second chance to see the miracles of everyday life.

Once Upon A QuinceaƱera: Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez

Review from Amazon: The quinceaƱera, a celebration of a Latina girl’s fifteenth birthday, has become a uniquely American trend. This lavish party with ball gowns, multi-tiered cakes, limousines, and extravagant meals is often as costly as a prom or a wedding. But many Latina girls feel entitled to this rite of passage, marking a girl’s entrance into womanhood, and expect no expense to be spared, even in working-class families. Acclaimed author Julia Alvarez explores the history and cultural significance of the “quince” in the United States, and the consequences of treating teens like princesses. Through her observations of a quince in Queens, interviews with other quince girls, and the memories of her own experience as a young immigrant, Alvarez presents a thoughtful and entertaining portrait of a rapidly growing multicultural phenomenon, and passionately emphasizes the importance of celebrating Latina womanhood.

Beat of a Different Drum: The Untold Stories of African Americans Forging Their Own Paths in Work and Life by Dax-Devlon Ross

Review from Amazon: In a series of insightful, probing interviews, Dax-Devlon Ross gives voice to the less-acknowledged realms of the black experience – and gives us all new role models of courage, iconoclasm, and creativity. Ross, an inner-city schoolteacher who eschewed a career in law, became aware of the need for a book like this one when he came to his own career crossroads. To write it, he crisscrossed the country and even traveled to Europe, talking to black Americans who have stepped outside their comfort zones – and found lives that no one had ever imagined they’d lead. In BEAT OF A DIFFERENT DRUM, you’ll meet:

Lisa Stevens, the zoo curator who cares for the pandas at the National Zoo

Johnathon Lee Iverson, the first black Ringling Brothers Circus ringleader

Jair Lynch, an Olympic athlete and real estate entrepreneur

James McLurkin, an inventor and robotics researcher

Ray Hill, a brewmeister who left a lucrative career to start his own beer company

Uchenna Smith, who, at 25, began running her own school with the KIPP-Sankofa program

Jake Lamar, an expatriate novelist

Mike Ladd, an M.C., producer, and professor

Bill Collins, a former Principal turned sailor turned world-renowned chef

Stacey Barney, a schoolteacher turned book editor

. . . as well as many others, each of whose stories has something unique to teach us about the search for meaning in one’s lifework, and the challenges that we must still face when we march to the beat of a different drum.

What are you reading?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ron Paul’s Ghost-writer Revealed: It’s the Honey Badger!

A while back in the GOP primary campaign, some of Ron Paul’s old newsletters resurfaced again, which has happened several times as he’s gone through different campaigns. They are nasty things, full of horrid and blatant racist statements (plus a lot of Dude It’s Totally Cool to Stockpile Weapons For Our War Against The Government, Let Me Tell You How To Do It Without The Feds Finding Out pro-militia stuff) and hateful stuff towards homosexuals, people with AIDs, Muslims and more. I realize that I am way late to speak on this – the story is basically dead and it doesn’t seem to matter now anyway because he’s not going to win the GOP nomination. I can’t imagine that he will ever be our President. Still, there is a point that I haven’t seen anyone discuss (or maybe I just haven’t read extensively enough) that I wanted to go into a bit.

A couple of disclaimers –

1) He has acknowledged that others ghost-wrote for him, he made statements of being very saddened by the things that were written in his name, and he has apologized for those things appearing in his newsletters.

2) On a variety of issues (though not on all of them), I agree with Ron Paul. Because of his personality, I used to like Ron Paul. In the last election, I think, I appreciated both Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee for certain things (just like I appreciated Dennis Kucinich, crazy ass Mike Gravel and in the most recent primaries, Hunstman). I like politicians who aren’t 100% party-line and those who seem genuine. I like the guys who aren’t the slickest campaigners.

Having given those disclaimers, here’s why I don’t buy his excuses of ghost-writers-gone-rogue, and I don’t buy his apologies.

If I had a newsletter – the Ashley Ray newsletter – that I wrote sometimes, and that others wrote for sometimes – it would be understandable to assume that what is represented in those newsletters is what I agree with, right? What would happen if someone who was writing on my behalf, unbeknownst to me, wrote some terribly racist things, and then the newsletter was published?

Do you think that the people reading the newsletter would notice?

Do you think that the people who work with and for me would notice?

Do you think someone would think it was odd that suddenly some statements are being published in my newsletter that are 100% contrary to my actual beliefs?

Do you think they would say something to me?

Do you think I would hire someone to write for me that had those sort of beliefs?

If the Ashley Ray newsletter said all those terrible things, I know without a doubt that the people who read it would RUSH to me and want to know what was going on. They would be concerned because obviously I don’t believe those things.

What I think is – Ron Paul employed people who held these beliefs. If he didn’t approve what was written & truly had no knowledge of them beforehand, he employed people whose belief in these things were so strong that they felt bold enough to put them in their employer’s newsletter. That is a really bold thing to do, right?

And after it happened – did readers freak out? I don’t know. Did they contact Ron Paul and tell him they were disgusted with what was written? I don’t know. Did his other employees freak out and alert him? I don’t know.

What I do know is that the newsletters didn’t stop. They went on for YEARS AND YEARS. We’re supposed to believe that issue after issue, there was a perfect storm of:

· Crazy ghost-writers

· Inattentive employees

· Readers who don’t actually read

He had no idea and no one – not his friends, family, employees, community nor supporters thought anything was amiss. If the Ashley Ray newsletter published that bullshit ONCE – I’d have people tripping over themselves to find out what in the world had happened because there is no way the Ashley THEY knew would write something like that. And if it continued, issue after issue? I’d lose my supporters. The people who faithfully read what I write DISAGREE WITH THAT BULLSHIT AND WOULD NOT WANT TO KEEP READING IT. They could no longer, in good conscience, support me.

My guess is – whether he knew about it or not – no one thought it was amiss because it DID represent what he believed. The ghost-writer felt ok saying that stuff because he knew it was what his boss believed. He continued to write it because he was not fired or even told to simply STOP IT. People did not think anything was amiss because HE BELIEVES IT AND THEY BELIEVE IT TOO.

And if somehow, the perfect storm really did happen? Ron Paul needs to find new friends, family, employees, community and supporters.

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