Monday, February 27, 2012

Listen to This

I was sitting down looking at my calendar of the year so far and a surprising trend emerged: 2012 has been a pretty big year for live music. It isn't like I don't like live music, I love it. It just seems like I'm always going to a friend's improv show, or a friend's sketch show, or a friend's stand up show (what can I say, I have some pretty funny friends) and I don't get around to seeing bands quite as often. I thought I'd do a little round up of good things to put in your ears. As opposed to bad things to put in your ears, like chlorinated water or dimes or something. So here are some good band recommendations from the world's least likely music critic:

Brighton, MA
These guys are a really cool Chicago indie band that we saw at Lincoln Hall in January. The night was pretty freezing, but the music was so good it was definitely worth it. I kind of got a little mesmerized listening to their lyrics. You might recognize this song from a recent commercial, and they have a new EP you can download for just 5 bucks from their website. Not a bad deal.

The Congregation
Another Chicago band, The Congregation is a soul band with approximately 100 members (ok, actually 8). If I had a voice like Gina I would probably never talk to people, I would insist on singing everything and I would always get my way, because it is that ridiculously powerful. They have such a rich sound it is impossible not to love them. Also, all the boys in the band wear suits, and there is nothing wrong with that. Thanks to Tahnee for taking me introducing me to their music. Buy their stuff here. Seriously, do it.

Slow Club
From local bands to the complete opposite extreme. I was so excited to see Slow Club was coming to Chicago, because I've been waiting for this English duo to come here for about 4 years.  They rarely play in the states, so I bough tickets even though I am an old lady of almost thirty and the show started at 10pm on a Wednesday night. I was a little sad because their set seemed sort of short, but there is something so relentlessly charming about Rebecca banging away on that snare drum that I'll take what I can get. If you are in the US go here to check out their tour dates, because you never know how long it will be before they come back.

Finally, my absolute favorite show of the year (and probably my whole life) came last weekend in Denver when Laura and I saw Devotchka play with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. The band sounded amazing, their unique blend of gypsy folk was complemented perfectly by the orchestra and everyone onstage and in the audience seemed to be having a wonderful time. I think we were collectively drunk on beautiful music. (Funny story, somehow we ended up sitting directly in front of bass player Jeanie's husband. We chatted with him a bit through the night about the show and cameras, and in a fit of geek girl fandom I even scrawled a sharpie note on the back of my program for him to take to the band. I couldn't resist.) They documented the event in every way possible, someone was even up in the balcony painting a portrait of the show as the evening went on, so watch for the live album to be released (hopefully as soon as possible because I'm not sure how long I can wait to relive that awesomeness).

Monday, February 13, 2012

DIY: Embroidered Gift Box

So, tomorrow is the big Valentine's Day celebration, and I bet you have the perfect gift already bought for your special someone(s?). But don't give it just yet, because here is a super cute way to dress up your gift box that says to your Valentine "I craft possibly an unnecessary amount." And you probably already have all of the supplies.

That box is so cute, you don't even care that it is actually empty.
To make this embroidered V-day gift box you'll need:
Scrap Paper
Ruler and a Sharpie
Leftover Yarn
An Awl or Thick needle

Start by measuring out a scrap of paper the size of the top of your gift box.  On this paper draw your heart. To get a perfectly symmetrical heart, I folded the paper in half, drew one half and then traced it with the sharpie so that the marker bled through to the other side. Worked perfectly.

Next, us a ruler to mark out the lines on your paper. I went with 1/4 inch in between my lines, but depending on the size of your box you may want to go wider. Just lightly trace the lines in pencil and make sure they are nice and straight and you like the look. At the end of each pencil line make a dot where you will punch your guide hole.

After your lines look good, use a small piece of tape to secure the paper to the top of your lid, then use your awl or needle to punch holes through the lid where you drew your dots. Go slow and be careful not to mangle your box by applying too much pressure. Wiggle the needle if it helps.

Once you have punched all of your guide holes, take the paper off the top of the box.  Cut a length of yarn and thread your needle. Tie a knot in the back, and starting at the top, sew through your pre punched holes to embroider your heart. When you reach the bottom use a little piece of tape on the back to secure the end of your yarn. Admire your work. Prepare for gift receiver to be so impressed by your handmade box that they will want to shower you with adoration. And you should let them, after all, this is a day of love.

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day to everybody who reads this blog on purpose. I love you most of all!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Make the Stupid Cookies

Stupid like a fox.
So, hey. Let's be real. Things have gotten a little slow around here. The truth is, creativity has been derailed lately, life has been kind of confusing and I'm a little out of sorts. It pretty much sucks. But wallowing definitely isn't solving anything. And a wise man (who charges handsomely for said wisdom) recently told me that you can't wait until you feel better to do something that will make you feel better. In other words, sometimes you just have to make the Stupid Cookies.

Don't over think it. Just take the recipe right off the back of the chocolate chip bag. Don't even think of looking for a fancy version on Pinterest. Mix all of the ingredients together and put in as much vanilla as you damn well please. Don't even measure it, just pour. What doesn't kill your cookies will only make them stronger. Eat some cookie dough if you want, eff that salmonella noise. The point is, just do it. Maybe at the end you'll feel better, or maybe you won't, but at least you'll have some Stupid Cookies. And then maybe you'll feel up to something a little more ambitious. Like starting a new project, or combing your hair, or something. Things can only get better from there.