Monday, August 31, 2009

Pirate Pets

Most people get pretty crazy about their pets; the baby talk, the quickly accumulating accessories, the gourmet foods, and the vet bills that rival any owner's doctor tab are just the start. But on average, greyhound owners tend to be an entirely different breed of crazy. Having two hairy step-siblings of my own (Butch and Edie) who left a life on the racetrack to become permanent fixtures on my parents' sofa, I've developed a soft-spot for the skinny creatures too. So this weekend, when I joined my parents for a Greyhound Pets of America reunion picnic, I was pretty excited to learn there were competitions the dogs could be entered in. One game in particular seemed just the outlet for my creative energy: costume contest.

You see, unlike some of the other competitions where either dog of ours might not have a shot (most expressive ears, baldest butt, and bobbing for hot dogs among them), I had an ace in the hole for the costume contest: Edie has a cast. Since the story's a bit long and it is hard to explain what happened without making the "smarter" of the two dogs seem completely stupid, suffice it to say that Edie has a broken leg and, like a bitter school child, spent her summer in a cast. Edie's cast became the inspiration for a peg legged pirate costume, sure to steal the hearts of the judges and secure her a spot in the retired racing greyhound hall of fame.

*Unfortunately the picnic went longer than planned and we had to leave before the contest took place. So instead, we snapped some photos of Pirate Edie and packed up the costume for next year.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rainy Day Wear

It's been raining all day, and the chill of impending autumn is in the air. I'm not ready to say goodbye to summer sunshine, but the changing of the seasons always gets me excited for the changing of the wardrobe. My go-to item when the leaves start falling? A classic trench coat. It's the perfect piece for staying warm and dry and topping off a professional look or dressing up any old outfit - like these skinny jeans and deep red driving shoes.

rainy day

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Juice Lady

Photo via Amazon

The other day I came home to find a large box on the porch with my name on it; my boyfriend's graduation gift had arrived. Now that I am the proud owner of my very own Breville Juice Fountain I have been juicing everything I can get my hands on. Apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, carrots: all are instantly liquefied at the blades of the Breville. Today I went for a celery kiwi elixir which tasted fresh, green, and tangy. The neon green color adds to its super-power status, and knowing it is brimming with undiluted nutrients and unpasteurized vitamins makes me feel super-powered too! Never one for coffee, flavorful and fresh juice is my favorite way to kick-start the day or get an afternoon boost. What's your energizing secret?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Signature Style: Maria Kerner

I admit, my current wardrobe is what you might expect of an unemployed recent college graduate: jeans and tees, a wide selection of hooded sweatshirts, and a mix of semi-professional separates that don't really match with anything else in the closet. But I really admire people who have created a wardrobe that makes a single, cohesive statement: when each and every outfit they step out in exudes a unique personal style.

One such signature stylista is Maria Kerner, an accessories buyer and frequent muse on the street style blog The Sartorialist. I have yet to find a photo of her looking anything but stunning and put-together. Her personal style is very feminine, somewhat monochromatic, and altogether classic. Whose style makes you swoon?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Starting Small

What are you doing today to achieve the life you dream of?

No, planning, pondering, ruminating, thinking, contemplating, speculating and musing do not qualify as "doing" in this context. What are you actually, physically, doing about your dream?

Often times it can be difficult to make the transition from thinking about the life we want for ourselves and actually making it a reality. Certainly, it is easier to daydream about what a better job would be like than it is to take action (get the training necessary for a new position, put together a revised resume, set up lunch meetings with people who might be able to help) - but only the latter option will set you on the course for attaining your goals. The former will likely lead to frustration and growing dissatisfaction.

Sometimes we put off taking action for so long that it seems almost impossible to start. We begin making excuses for why we cannot take action now (I can't exercise this week because I have too much work to do! I won't start my diet until next month because I have too many parties to attend and it will ruin my efforts! I couldn't possibly start saving my money now because the new fall designs are in at Nordstrom!) and slowly we start to believe them. If we make excuses long enough, they create a mental block that can prevent us from taking action and leave us feeling like we have no control over our own destiny. Fortunately, this is not the case - we do have control.

So how can we begin to take action when simply getting out of bed in the morning can sometimes seem too daunting a task? Start small. Make a little action today, do something small that will set you in the right direction and recognize yourself for what you accomplished.

Why start small instead of embarking on a new undertaking with a big bang? Starting small gives us the benefit of being able to take action, to start doing, today. No matter the circumstances we are living in there is always a small action that can be taken to make progress towards a goal. Also, starting small is an easy way to break the cycle of excuses and self-doubt we create for ourselves. For example, if you spend 15 minutes working out this morning you realize that despite a busy work schedule you can make an investment in your health. Slowly, the excuses you once made will begin to melt away.

What are you doing today to achieve the life you dream of?

Go ahead and take a single, small action that will bring you closer to your dream. Congratulate yourself for taking that first step, and get excited to take another tomorrow. Over time your confidence will build and your small actions may grow. 15 minute jog this morning? By next week 20 minutes will be a challenge you are ready for. Edited your resume this weekend? Sending off 10 job applications by Friday is much more attainable now. Tried a new, healthy breakfast this morning you loved? Swapping your usual danish (or worse yet, coffee and a stick of gum) for more nutritious fare will come much easier now that you have a yummy alternative.

Sometimes we do not take small actions because they seem insignificant; do not be fooled. Small actions are the catalysts for big change. Need more convincing? Maybe the words of Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher and Taoist big-cheese, will speak to you:

Great trees grow from the smallest shoots;
a terraced garden, from a pile of earth,
and a journey of a thousand miles
begins by taking the initial step.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


In following with yesterday's theme of the crazy and inspiring things people do (you can see yesterday's post on bicycle polo here) I wanted to share another fringe hobby that is quite simply a delight to watch. Parkour is sort of a combination of running, obstacle maneuvering, and ninja prowess. While not really a spectator sport, Parkour is both a mental and physical art in which practitioners use their bodies to fluidly interact with the world around them in an efficient, quiet, and natural manner. The back story for how Parkour was started is actually very interesting, and you can read more about the founders of Parkour on the Wikipedia entry here. The brief (very, very brief) version is that inspiration for the practice came from a Frenchman's (Georges Herbert) observations of the abilities of Africa's indigenous peoples and was put into practice largely by the Belle family (Raymond and his son David).

What's really cool about Parkour is that the entire practice is based on the natural movements and abilities of the human body. It is by not exactly a sport, and there is a push among many within the Parkour community to keep the activity competition free - after all, the practice is about self-development and it would kind of be like making yoga competitive... you just don't.

Now, since it is really hard to describe what Parkour actually entails (and I have likely done nothing but confuse you so far!) let's get on to the videos, shall we? Quickly, though, disclaimer: don't go trying to jump off a building or climbing up some sculpture at the park because you saw someone do it on my blog, okay? I admit, it makes me want to go jump over something too - but be smart and think of this as motivation to explore more of your body's abilities next time you go for a jog, not a confirmation that you can be reckless, scale the side of your neighbor's house, and not get injured. These people have been working on their craft for a long time.

This first video is a good intro, and especially good for the faint of heart:

Some great female Parkour:

And here is Daniel Ilabaca, simply amazing:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bicycle Polo

I am continually amazed by what the seemingly fearless fringe of humanity is able to do physically, and create conceptually. Next time you are feeling uninspired just Google search yourself some "inspiring people", "craziest artists", or "extreme sports videos" and you will be amazed what people are doing on this tiny planet.

I cannot credit a Google search with my own bizarre and totally awesome inspiration tonight - the gem of a hobby known as Bicycle Polo was introduced to me this evening by my boyfriend. Initially I thought he was making it up, but according to one New York Times video I found on YouTube, Bicycle Polo has been around a long while (it was actually a demo sport in the 1908 Olympics!).
The sport itself is pretty self-explanatory: think horse polo on a bike. Granted, the speed of the game is not too rapid and the talent is as much in the cyclist's handling skills as it is in the explosive power of his or her gams. Nevertheless, what a totally odd and surprisingly (well, at least to me) popular international sport! Check out the clip below to see what the traditional bicycle polo game looks like. There are street polo versions of the game too - think small asphalt courts and single speed road bikes or fixies as the mounts. Intrigued? Fortunately there's a U.S. Bicycle Polo Association Website and the Bicycle Polo Organization Website to get you started.

More crazy and totally amazing inspiration to come soon!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer: MoMA Style

I was flipping through the most recent MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) catalog today and found a few treasures that seemed perfect for the dog days of summer.

Salt Cellar found here

This Salt Cellar is the perfect place to stash your favorite kitchen salt (I prefer this course sea salt for it's flavor and heft) to make quick, simple summer meals feel a little more gourmet. I always wanted to have those little bowls they use in cooking shows; pre-filled with 2 and 3/16 teaspoons of rare patagonian paprika to be dashed into a stew at just the right moment. However, all those extra little bowls would probably not be worth the extra (albeit tiny) dishes to wash, so this salt cellar seems a happy compromise.

Sky Umbrella found here

When those afternoon thunderstorms roll through, this clever Sky Umbrella is the perfect way to be all business on the outside, and optimistic on the inside. It also comes in a collapsible variety.

Bookworm Shelf found here

I love how this Bookworm Shelf turns a plain wall into an artistic statement. And what better way to display your summer reading and strike up a literary conversation? Have you been reading anything good this summer? I'm working on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In fact, I am off to get a few more chapters under my belt tonight.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Apartment 303

Rain drops trip from leaf to leaf on the trees outside my bedroom window. The constant buzz of insects rings in my ear, a harmony to the hum of the air conditioner down the hall. A faint breeze from the doorway kisses my cheek as I quietly wait for the temperature to become sleepable. My limbs rest heavily on the mattress, still warm from the rays of the afternoon sun, smelling slightly of pool water from today's dip.

Tonight I will fall asleep 2,015 miles from apartment 303, and a world away from the academic life I have left behind. Back on the east coast, in the bedroom that was my only piece of the world for 18 years, I have returned to begin the newest chapter of my life; one which involves a full-time job search, the rediscovery of my hometown and the city to the south (where ,with any luck, I will be relocating), and the anticipation that only uncertainty can bring.

It was somewhat sad to see apartment 303 packed up into suitcases and boxes, stacked in lonely piles next to the backdoor stoop, awaiting an alleyway pickup. The unit was my haven for the past year, and the place where so much creativity bloomed. But I have lived enough to know that places and possessions serve only as the context we give to experiences - the tangible assets that help us to quantify and make physical our emotions and experiential memories.

And so it is that I look forward to whatever will come next. While I may have said goodbye to the physical apartment 303 in Denver, it is with my whole heart that I embrace the less tangible essence of what apartment 303 stands for. Apartment 303 is about learning continuously, exploring indefinitely, and finding peace and true satisfaction in the simple things - exactly what this blog is all about.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Writing's on the Door

Photo found here

Since I live in a graduate housing apartment on the DU campus, my building has a community adviser (also known as a CA; the slightly more grown up version of a dormitory RA). Since the apartment is all one-bedroom units inhabited by graduate students there is rarely, if ever, anything rowdy going on that needs dealing with. As a result, our CA's main purpose is to make different name plates (door decs in CA/RA-speak) for each resident's door each quarter.

Well this morning as I left home, turning to lock the door, something new caught my eye. There, below the hand-holding, banana-eating monkey cutouts that proudly proclaim "Paige" lives here in fading forest green magic marker, stood a freshly adhered picture of a snowy mountain peak rising atop a lush Colorado valley. My initial reaction was to go knock on "David" (or so claim's his own name plate) the CA's door and let him know that I appreciated his craftsmanship but that I indeed would be moving out on Saturday. As I began to stroll the hallway, however, I realized that the black type hovering just above the mountain's peak didn't resemble the characters of Paige Doster after all. Nope this plate was not made for me, but for "Nicole" someoneorother. There it is. The writing's on the door, and it's almost time to go.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Moving Day Dress

Can you tell where my mind is today? I won't be moving for another week but I am anxious to have everything packed up and ready to go. As a result, Apartment 303 is looking pretty bare these days. Studying is not going quite as planned - my "work 50 minutes break for 10" plan has reversed itself and it turns out working in 10 minute chunks does not a final paper make. Earlier I went to vigorously shake a nearly-full bottle of soy milk only to discover I hadn't closed the cap first. So I'm off to delay my scholarly productivity even longer and clean drying white puddles from the floor, the counter, the stove-top, the cabinet doors, the fridge, my shirt, my hair...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Finals Week

Hello everyone! Blog posts may become a bit sporadic this week as it is my last week of school - ever! Final papers, presentations, studying, and packing have sucked up every last bit of free time I once had. I hope to get fresh content up shortly - but in the mean time why not have something pretty to look at? Enjoy these photos - taken by yours truly - from Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sites Worth Surfing

This week I added a few new websites to my bookmarks and thought you might find some of them helpful too. Happy surfing!

Click here to visit the site

Perfect for: Getting some background information about Mediterranean or Asian cuisines and finding good stater recipes to get your feet wet.

Why it made the cut: Lately I've been craving the foods I had while studying in Greece - fresh horiatiki (Greek salad), crusty pastry breads, pure olive oil from the laiki, and those savory fava bean dishes. So as I searched the web for fava bean recipes to experiment with I came across the MediterrAsian website. Chock full of healthful Mediterranean and Asian recipes as well as nutritional and lifestyle information, this site had just what I was looking for. I especially like this page where you can learn about what distinguishes many of the featured cuisines (Thai versus Indonesian?).

Click here to visit the site

Perfect for: Researching that newfangled church your neighbor just joined - or more generally, learning about the endless spectrum of belief systems, faiths, and inspiration sources that people embody all over the world (we're not just talking a few standard religions here folks).

Why it made the cut: This page has actually been bookmarked for a while, ever since my friend Michael introduced me to it. What got me hooked on the site initially is the Belief-O-Matic, a 20 question quiz that tells you what faiths your beliefs most accurately align with. It may sound kind of silly at first, but the quiz is very comprehensive and customizable and is a great way to learn about some new belief systems you may have never learned about otherwise. Click here to go straight to the quiz - I promise it is a great way to reflect on your own beliefs and grow in the process.
Click here to visit the site

Perfect for: Tracking your entire financial portfolio on one, easy to use web interface. Setting budgets and sticking to them.

Why it made the cut: As I prepare for life P.C. (post college) I have been trying to track my spending, savings, credit, and loans more closely. This is especially important for me since I do not have a job yet and need to move my money wisely to be sure I can cover my expenses. It can get tricky to do, however, when you consider that my savings, checking, Roth IRA, loan, and credit card information are all contained on separate websites with different companies. So how's a girl supposed to track each and every transaction and financial goal at once?! Essentially, Mint will pull all of your updated financial account information (everything from mortgages to basic checking accounts) into one place. For example, on Mint I have monthly budgets for groceries, gas, and other major expenses which are automatically updated for me each time I spend money at Safeway or Conoco. The site lets me know by email if I'm getting close to my predetermined budget for a particular item. It also provides me with graphs, charts, and other visuals of my debt to cash ratios, where I spend my money, monthly expense comparisons, and more. Ready to get started? Click here to visit a great article by finance buff Eric of personal finance blog Narrow Bridge Adventures about getting started on Mint.

Click Here to visit the site

Perfect for: Finding the perfect homemade gift for a deserving recipient (yes, you can be a deserving recipient yourself!). Discovering some crafting inspiration.

Why it made the cut: Especially in today's economy, I like to know that I'm voting for a better future with each dollar that I spend. To me, this means supporting creative artisans who produce quality products that are built to last (not obsolete themselves or break just after the warranty runs out). Etsy is the perfect place to find such people. Think of this website as a digital crafts fair where you can quickly search through thousands of artisans and products to find just the right miniature narwhal crochet pattern or squid themed greeting cards. You can even search artisans by location to support those in your own neighborhood. Take a look at some of the best Etsy finds on the Editors' Picks page.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Man on Wire

After Man on Wire won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature earlier this year, I added it to my must see list wondering how a film about a single, hour-long event could be made into a worthwhile feature length film. Well, last week I finally watched the flick and... wow! The way director James Marsh blends historical footage, present-day interviews, and accurate reenactments of tightrope walker Philippe Petit's 1974 NYC Trade Towers stunt is compelling and awe inspiring. The telling of the story is so well done and doesn't follow a chronologically linear time-line, building anticipation throughout the entire 1 hour and 42 minutes. What really made the film for me is the ensnaring story-telling ability of the movie's star, Philippe Petit, whose french accent just added to his eccentricity. On the surface, Philippe's stunt may seem like the product of a crazy young man looking for attention. That may be true, but the film has a way of drawing the viewer into Philippe's dream world where beauty prevails and the seemingly impossible is the only challenge worth facing. If you're a documentary buff, if you're looking for a truly unique film to escape daily malaise, or if you're watching sitcom re-runs - you have got to check out this movie. Find more information about Man on Wire (2008) here, and click the play button below for the official trailer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lazy Sunday: Evening Grilling

It has been a 90 degree day in Denver, and apartment 303's clocking in at a rather cozy (ok, stifling) 81 degrees. The thought of turning on the oven is enough to make my toes sweat, so a no-cook dinner is in the works. If I had a grill, though, it would be the perfect evening to fire up some fresh vegetable kabobs and delicious Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage grain sausages (soy free and vegan, because the best grilling is done without cruelty) to accompany a crunchy iceburg salad. Perhaps some watermelon for dessert? Yes please. Dinner would naturally be followed by serious hammock lounging (1 hour minimum) and reading on the porch by candlelight. Ah...

Evening Grilling