Thursday, April 27, 2017

Creating a Minimal Mid-Century Modern Space, Part 1

If you have ever browsed the internet for pictures of mid-century modern home interiors, you might have noticed how clean and sleek things are, even if there are people in the photos doing stuff.  A strong aspect of MCM spaces was the minimalist attitude that went along with it.  You could have color, texture, and patterns, but without all the massive clutter that seemed to emerge with the more postmodern mindset.

Yes, the images above are displaying living spaces and are clean for a reason, but they fully encompass a minimalist attitude.  I'd like to discuss how you can create your own minimal MCM space.  I would love to give you some simple rules like paint your walls white or something like that, but that's absolutely NOT how this works.  We will start by going over space renovation: observing your space, getting down to brass tacks, and playing with themes.  The idea here is to plan and begin your most basic renovation like flooring and dealing with walls.  I also highly recommend looking through a few Atomic Ranch magazines (MCM) and Dwell magazines (neomodern and MCM).  Fair warning, I use my own space for my examples.

Observe Your Space
Look around the space you want to alter.  What sticks out about it?  What do you like?  What do you want to change?  What are the features of the room?  My apartment was built in 1971 when my grandpa had the offices/warehouses built - he just added two apartments above the offices.  He went with a MCM design for the apartments, so the kitchen/living room has an open floor plan.  When I moved into the apartment, it had dove grey carpet that was stained.  The walls are almost all paneled, with the exception of the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom.  My parents (also my neighbors) had custom doors put in to the shared deck with extra tall dog doors.  When I first looked at my living room, I decided immediately that the carpet had to go and, since they're combined, the wallpaper in the kitchen had to go.  I hated these two things and I promptly removed them.  I love the original real-wood wall paneling and the plain front walnut cabinets.

You want to make your space something that you like.  Throughout most of my apartment, I spent a week ripping out carpet, hauling in boxes of wood laminate planks, and installing them.  My mom helped me with the flooring and with removing the kitchen wallpaper (1 day to get it down, 1 more day to make sure I got everything).  What do I like?  I like tiki motifs and 1950s MCM design.  I like that my kitchen counters have an original MCM white with gold vein laminate on them.  This is what I based my designs on.

Getting Down To Brass Tacks
If you're going to do a little renovating, have a plan.  You will have to get rid of whatever is there, but you need to have your new stuff ready to go.  I would not suggest ripping up your floor and having no idea what to put down.  That will only end in procrastination.  Before I ripped up my flooring, I had found a great deal on wood laminate planking at home depot.  It cost me less than $300 for all the flooring I needed.  I made sure my sub-floor was in good shape, then spent 3 nights laying down the new flooring and trim.

When I did my kitchen, I had my paint on hand before I took down the wallpaper.  I actually went with Pantone Macaw Green.  It's hard to find a picture of the color that does it justice.  It's really NOT avocado.  It just looks that way in the image.  It's more of a lively spring green and really pops when the light hits it!  It's very much a leafy sort of green.  It offsets the dark cabinets very nicely.

When it comes to redoing walls, I highly recommend looking at original MCM interiors.  You can play with textures, wood grain, stone, screens, tiles, or simply paint.  I don't favor wallpaper, but there are some really cool wallpapers out there in a MCM style.  My sister scoffed when I told her I was going to lay down wood laminate flooring.  She thought it was going to be a disaster because I have wood paneling and walnut cabinets.  It doesn't look bad though.  In fact, as it happened, it came out looking larger.

Playing With Themes
As I mentioned, I like tiki themes and I like 1950s MCM.  My kitchen has become a tiki-themed kitchen and my living room has picked up the 1950s MCM themes.  It's important to have a few items ready to go to help with your renovation.

When I decided to go with a tiki theme, it took no time to put my handful of tiki statues on the window sill.  I went online and ordered a few tiki masks which now hang above the cabinets - not many, just a few.  I also have a silly plastic shrunken head that hangs above my sink.  Being the artsy person I am, I was inspired by mid-century brutalist design and created a two-piece wall hanging of a brutalist lava flow.  A few months after all of this, I found a 30" tall carved wooden parrot perched on top of a branchy stump.  It's brightly colored and it sits near the brutalist lava flow.  A month and a half ago, I special ordered a tiki print fabric from spoonflower and went to my local fabric store for blackout material and fringe.  I made a quick valence for my kitchen window.  I also have a skull cookie jar that I use to hold dog treats.  I also love to have plants in the kitchen.  They get good light and I feel that it just seems real friendly.   I am always looking and adding to my tiki kitchen, but not in a tacky way.

My living room is in a 1950s MCM theme, but not entirely.  I'm using my grandma's 1941 RCA Victorola radio/record player cabinet as a very large tv stand.  It still fits in with everything, so that's totally okay with me.  When I got my flooring picked up, I decided around that time to order a cowhide for a rug.  My cowhide is white with splotches in brown brindle.  I saved up and bought a Hughes Chaise Sofa from Joybird in Vibe Aquatic (see swatch).  I love it.  The living room is still a work in progress.  I just ordered a new lampshade from Moon Shine Lamps. They sell retro custom lamp shades.

What you have to ask yourself is: what are the features of the theme?  How can I push the envelope with this theme?  Do you have specific colors in mind?

Take your time.  You don't have to get it all done in a day.  Check antique stores and yard sales and thrift stores.

I want to point out that your theme might be more subtle or simply based on colors.  Try not to limit yourself.  Let's say that you choose to go with white, pink, and black.  You paint your walls white and have an accent wall in pink.  Your chairs are black.  Now push it.  Maybe you find a black ceramic panther from the 1950s in an antique store.  Perhaps you decide that a sunburst style decorative clock should rest above your couch.  Maybe you install a room divider, a decorative metal panel, in painted pink.  Does it feel a little stale still?  You can always integrate plants, natural items (wood, stone, etc), and room centerpieces to make a room pop.

I want to discuss more of this, but I will do so in my next post.  That will be focused on Removing Clutter, which I really need to do.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 2nd Annual North Pole Pin-Up Pageant

I am heading up the 2nd Annual North Pole Pin-Up Pageant.  I have 5 weeks (along with my fellow committee members) to pull this whole thing off - contestants, prizes, hopefully sponsors.  Since this has crept up on me, I am not doing any transatlantic accent stuff this week.  Sorry.  I need to get some details finalized for the pageant.  I'll start back up again next week.

If there are any potential rockabilly vendors out there, contact the North Pole Lions Club and ask about vendor space.  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Made A Shirt

I made a shirt today!   I had some vintage patterns come in and I had some extra fabric lying around.

1940s pattern.  I made 2A.

I altered the waistband just a little bit.

I added an elastic section to the back to let the top move a little easier.
 I'm going to wear this with my swing trousers.  It fits pretty comfortably, but not with the sweatpants I have on.  I had to adjust the sleeves, of course, but that's okay.  I've been losing size on my arms, so as I lose size, I can always adjust the sleeves. *thumbs up*

I used a polyester fabric that would probably be better for a skirt or trousers, but this is fine.  It simply won't be something I wear on a hot day.  It will be perfect for rainy days, fall, winter, and spring.

I wasn't expecting to sew anything today.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Transatlantic Thursday #5 - Review

Phonetic Chart, click to enlarge

It's week 5 and, as promised, I don't have a series of worksheets for you.  Only a review of stuff, plus 3 new monologues!

Here is:
I've been thinking about the transatlantic accent a lot in the last month.  If you are teaching yourself the transatlantic accent, I really hope you answer these few questions on your blog, vlog, or whatever platform you prefer.  #TransatlanticAccent
  1. What got you interested in the transatlantic accent?
  2. Who are your top three actors who speak with a transatlantic accent?
  3. It's been 5 weeks now.  Have you noticed any changes to your speech patterns or speech sounds?
  4. Where do you feel your problem areas are with speech?  What are your strong areas of speech?
  5. Since starting to learn this accent, do you feel that you are able to communicate better on a daily basis?
  6. Since starting to learn this accent, have you noticed how other people talk and does anything annoy you that you didn't notice before?
  7. What would you suggest to people who are starting with Week 1?
I have these questions answered in vlog post below.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Killing It Tuesday!

I have trouble being stable like this on a yoga ball!
Tuesday is my new day where I "kill it" with working out.

As you know, I've been dealing with Adrenal Exhaustion (it's a glandular problem) which is often characterized with: weight gain, tiredness/constant fatigue, dizziness, sluggishness, depression, the inability to deal with stress, weak immune symptom, craving for salty foods, urinating more than water intake, and low or no sexual desire.  In case you're wondering, what brings on Adrenal Exhaustion is: a constant lack of insufficient sleep, continual high stress, off balance levels of adrenaline and cortisol, and overuse of stimulants like coffee or tea.  Adrenal Exhaustion tends to take a year or two to finally cause issues, so you might not notice it right away.

There are a few ways to approach fixing the problem.  I go to a natural medicine clinic which uses supplements, along with diet and exercise to combat a lot of issues.  Unlike when I went in for my thyroid, the doctor actually told me not to overdo it with exercise - 30 min max for running.

Last week, on Monday, I went to the doctor and got permission to increase my workout ever so slightly.  I still do my 30 minute run in the morning and have increased my average to 4 miles in 30 minutes.  I was pulling 3.75/3.8 miles in 30 minutes, so not bad!  On Tuesday evening, I have a CORE class at a gym just down the street.  I started the day after I was given the green light to increase my exercise.

Just like the picture above, we use big yoga balls and we also use smaller balls (about the size of a volley ball).  I thought "No problem!  I love doing core workouts and I have a pretty strong core.  This will be easy!"   OH MY GOD!  I didn't take into consideration that I have only been running for the last 9 months.  This dumb CORE class with balls kicked my ass (or rather, my abs)!  In a good way - - don't get me wrong.  If it was terrible, I wouldn't be planning on going tonight.

I also go to a Thursday class, but that is CORE Yoga (vinyasa).  I normally wouldn't go to a yoga class because after a few classes I get really bored, BUT this class is fast-paced for the most part.  I find it more engaging.  I spend so much time by myself and in my own head that anything slow or more "meditative" makes me bored.   This class was actually challenging, but in a different way than the Tuesday class.  I slept hard after this class, so that's a big thumbs up for me.

I used to do crossfit and then I moved to boxing, but things weren't working because they were too stressful on my body at the time - Adrenal Exhaustion.  I used to do what I call "Mr.T's", seen in the gif above.  I could easily do 100 of these with weights.  The gif is from Rocky III, from Mr.T's training montage.  With boxing, sometimes we would sit there and finish up a 2-hour session with 500 regular sit ups.  With crossfit, my benchpress (this is 1-1/2 years old now) was up to 132 lbs for a 5 rep max.  I don't remember what my 1 rep max was.  For a woman, that's not too shabby.

I suppose that's why I was so blown away that I got whooped during last week's CORE class.

I have been tracking my weight and I haven't really lost any weight so far.  The doctor takes my measurements every two weeks, along with fat percentage, BP, etc.  I've been losing size which means the fat is going away.

Alright readers, do you have any new exercise classes that you're starting?  Let me know.     I'm also looking at upping my vlogging game.  I'm putting together some topics for that and playing around with my equipment.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Planning a Mini-Adventure

An adventure is defined as "an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity".  When it comes to mini-adventures the goal is to contain it to one day and preferably not be terribly hazardous.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I sometimes venture out on mini-adventures, sometimes on a whim.  How do I do it?  How do I know where to go?

1. Get an atlas of your location and get online.
I know you can go to Google Maps, but trust me.  An actual atlas for your local area can be really useful.  Go through it and take notes.  Do the same thing through online searches.  Look for interesting sites, landmarks, historic buildings, ghost towns, hiking trails, local mysteries, etc.  Your current goal is to form a list of 10 interesting locations within a 4-8 hour driving range.

I highly recommend the DeLorme Atlas for your state.  It's also known as "that big red atlas".  You can totally take it with you on your trip!

2. To and Fro
The best thing you can do, before you leave, is knowing how to get to and from the location you want to get to.  Here are some other considerations: Are there places along the way to fill up with gas or should you bring a can with you?  Can you deal with NOT having cellphone access?  Will you need car snacks?  Should you bring additional clothing (i.e. rain coat, boots, hat, sweatshirt, etc)?  Why do I bring up these questions?  If you plan on traveling into the mountains, into deep forest, or out to the middle of nowhere (where few people live), you might not have all of your daily conveniences at your fingertips.  I'm okay with this.  Are you?

I have a pretty good sense of direction, so I don't worry too much about finding my way.  If it seems tricky, I will write down or print out driving directions.

Your goal is to NOT end up lost and without what you need.  This said, I tend to keep a sleeping bag in my truck, along with an emergency kit.  My emergency kit: first aid kit, bottle of water, towel, beanie hat, toilet paper in a ziploc bag (so it doesn't get wet), two extra grocery bags, and something for fire kept in its own ziploc bag (i.e. box of matches, small lighter, etc).  Be prepared for the worst and be relieved when you don't have to deal with the worst.

3. What To Do
You can't just drive to location X and not have something planned.  That would be pretty lame.  Part of having an adventure is the act of doing something.  Here is a list of things you can do: take photos, take video, hike or walk around, search for something to bring back, go fishing, go on a tour (if it's a historical site), write a poem about the area, have a picnic, explore the area, and look for fossils (if applicable).

What you do is going to depend on your location.

One time, I drove up to the Timberline Lodge (in Oregon) which, you might know, was the exterior for the hotel in Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining".  I had no interest in skiing, but I did go on the hotel tour, eat lunch, stop in the gift shop, and had a drink in the lounge while perusing my new book on the lodge.

On another trip, I headed out to a ghost town in Oregon named Shaniko.  It took a few hours to drive out there and it was all open flat land.  Through my findings online, I found out that before Pendelton came to Oregon, there was Shaniko.  It used to be the largest wool-producing town in the state.  I took pictures, walked around the town, and talked to a few locals.  I found out that now there's some kind of music festival out there in the summer.  I was also glad that I checked for gas because there was ONE gas station/grocery/pit stop there.

On another trip, in Alaska, I decided that I was going to venture off for a few nights (a long weekend) with my dog.  The first night we stayed at the family cabin.  The second night, we were going to stay out at the end of Nebesna Road, but I had a bad feeling about bears - so we kept driving and ovenighted in Tok.  The next day we went back home.  I had to deal with a REALLY flat tire.  I found out that my truck is a little too small to comfortably sleep in overnight with a small labrador.

One drive I took with my friends landed us in Sleepy Hollow, NY.  It was an accident.  A happy, happy accident.  We missed a turnoff in NJ and ended up in NY.

4. Why Plan A Mini-Adventure?
Mini-adventures break up the monotony of regular life.  It gets you out of your comfort zone for a short little period of time.  You can do this with or without other people.  It makes a great subject to talk about at work come Monday morning!  You get to disconnect for a little spot of time and you will come back with a story and photos (if you take them).  I have found some really cool little trinkets and things while out on my mini-adventures.

You will start to feel different.  It's almost addictive to go on mini-adventures.  After my first two mini-adventures, I started noticing these people around me who were either too scared to venture out of the city or the people who just always did the same thing, slowly becoming stagnant and boring.  You may start to wonder "am I tougher than these other people?" or "was I like that?" or "why was I not more independent?"

Mini-adventures are wonderful.  Just remember to remain positive, remain curious, and allow yourself to do things.  Little museum?  Visit it!  Merry-go-round?  Get on it!  New food you've never tried before?  Taste it!  Biggest ball of twine?  Go take some photos!

Tips for Mini-Adventures:

  • Start small.  Go to little places outside of where you are.  Keep the longer road trips for later dates.
  • If I'm driving, I always take a big knife with me.  I keep it out of sight, yet accessible by me.  I figure it could come in handy.  I bet you're thinking of it as a defensive measure, sure, it could be.  It could also be used to sharpen a stick for roasting marshmallows or cleaning a fish or something.
  • I almost always take a small lunch cooler with me.  I tend to bring: dried fruit, jerky, gummy worms, a fruit-and-veggie bar (health food aisle), and something extra.  I also tend to bring extra water (like 3 20oz bottles or 2 1-liters).
  • $20.  I always bring some spare money.  I might be in desperate need of gas or food or something.  Just keep it tucked away in your vehicle and forget about it.  Don't spend it on drive-thru coffee.
  • Digital camera.  I tend to just take my digital camera with me.  I know my phone can double as a camera.  I don't care.  I often forget my phone because that's how much I care about it.  My digital camera is also waterproof up to however many feet.  My phone is not. 
  • Music.  Bring music.  Form a new playlist or dig out some good cds or cassette tapes (my truck has a cassette player).  If you're traveling with others, give everyone a chance to put in their own music.  If you don't want music, try an audiobook or a podcast.
  • Tell someone where you're going.  When I lived in Oregon, I would either call my aunt (lives on the coast) or my mom (in Alaska) to tell someone where I was going.  I wasn't afraid of running into a dangerous person.  I was more afraid of running into bigfoot or a mountain lion.  Safety first!  Whatever your reasons...

Some photos from previous mini-adventures.
Twin Peaks mini-adventure, Washington state
Sleepy Hollow, NY (I'm on the left)

Black Sand Beach on Island of Hawai'i.  Hiked down, hiked back up.
Lava tunnel outside of Kona, Hawai'i, HI & my mom's finger

London, England - Twice I spent 1 month by myself there.
I don't know where all my pictures are.  I thought I had more up on facebook.  I know they're on my desktop at home.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Transatlantic Thursday #4 - 2 Week Special

Week 4 for the Transatlantic Accent!


Week 4 is going to be similar to week 3, but this time we are working on the rest of the vowel sounds.  This is going to be a special 2-week ordeal because it requires a lot of practice.  Next week, I will post a review worksheet for everything up through the vowels.  If you have recorded yourself, you might want to use the review as a way to gauge your progression.

You will notice that there is an Ask List of Words.  These are words have have multiple pronunciations.  You'll go over these things in the worksheet.  The Ask List of Words is a worksheet follow up.

Due to this being a 2-week special everything is a bit longer than normal.  I tried making the warm ups short and fun!

Articles and Videos below.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Product Review: Simple Mills Paleo Chocolate Muffin Mix

I was looking around Amazon and came across Simple Mills.  They offer specialty baking mixes.  I'm always skeptical, but was interested because they have a line of paleo mixes.  The first thing I did was to check out the ingredients and all were satisfactory.  There wasn't some kind of hidden thing that I'm not supposed to eat.

So....I ordered a 3-pack that included chocolate muffin mix, chocolate chip mix, and a flatbread mix.  This review is only on the chocolate muffin mix.

First off, if you look at the packaging it says Only 8g of Sugar.  That's coconut sugar.  I have a bag of coconut sugar in my cabinet, so I'm okay with it.  It's not very sweet.  I'm okay with that.  I suppose you could always add your preferred sweetener to it, but I suggest not.  If you want to add a little sweetness, maybe add some dark chocolate chips.

One of my biggest concerns was the texture.  I thought this might just end up as a spongey, oddly moist, wrong texture sort of a lot of my paleo baking mishaps.  I was pleasantly surprised that it came out feeling and tasting a lot like a standard muffin/cupcake.  SO HAPPY that it had the proper texture.

The box said that it could make 12 cupcakes/muffins, but I only managed to fill 11 cupcake pots.

My only complaint is that it was a little dry.  Now that I know that, I can buy this again and just add a little applesauce to the mix.  That tends to help make a more moist cake, so it should help with this - right?  Despite the dryness of the muffin/cupcake, it was great with coffee.  I also had a little butter with it, that also tasted phenomenal.

This is a product I will definitely be purchasing again.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A New Look!

Like the new look of the blog?  I thought it might be nice to have something a bit new.

This weekend I tried out some new hairstyles.  Not 100% the best.  You never know with hair, unless you give it a try.

The first one is a mix of a poodle updo with....I don't know how to describe it...a double twist in the back.  I didn't pin it enough and it worked its way out.  I talked about this one in my last youtube video.  You can check it out HERE.

The second one has three front curls and the back is simply up in a bun.  I used a white chiffon scarf around the bun, tied it, and put some hair flowers in.  I got a lot of compliments on it, but I felt like it was a little off or something.

As you know, I've been struggling with losing size.  I feel like I'm at a plateau.  Weight-wise (I've been keeping track) I've only been fluctuating between 198 and 201 over the last week.  ARGH!  I'm tracking my food, avoiding pastries and doughnuts at work, and I drink at least a half-gallon of water a day - if not more (not including coffee).  I'm starting to average 4 miles in 30 minutes at the gym, an increase in speed from what used to be my average (3.75/3.8 miles in 30 minutes).

Is it the adrenal exhaustion?  Is my body just dysfunctional?

My usual daily food intake is:

  • Breakfast - 2 eggs, 0.15 lb diced ham, 2 TBSP guacamole
  • Lunch - 1 bag of chopped salad by Fresh Express
  • Dinner - 1 cup broccoli and some kind of meat
  • Drinks - 1/2 gallon of water, sometimes a can of sparkling water, a few cups of coffee, and nothing after 6pm or I'm up peeing all night.
That's it.  On the weekends I tend to switch up breakfast a little bit.  For instance, on Saturday I had a whole papaya and a 100 calorie whipped Greek yogurt.  I don't starve.  If I was hungry, I'd just eat something.  If I have a snack, then it's like a handful of banana chips that always get shared with the dog.  This last week, I tried out Simple Mills Paleo Chocolate Muffin Mix.  So that was a little bit of a switch up.

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow.  I'm going to ask my doctor about increasing my exercise by taking a few evening classes at the new gym just down the street.

Stay tuned for a product review on Simple Mills.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Video blog post

Sorry, no pranks in the video.

Do you have any questions for me?  I'd love to be more interactive with readers and viewers.