Wednesday, December 30, 2009

end of the year odds and ends

As if to assert itself as really being winter, today it is snowing in Chicago:

(the view through our mailbox slot)
Clearly I am no longer in Hawaii. Sigh.

I had a lovely birthday dinner at Las Palmas (after suffering through horrible traffic coming down the Edens). I'll be home to celebrate NYE this year, which I'm excited about - I got a dress as part of my birthday/Chanukah gift from JCrew especially for the occasion! It's made really well, I'm very impressed (it's part of the JCrew Collection, actually, so I would hope that they exceed their regular quality production standards).

Speaking of birthdays, a few years back I received an overwhelming number of rubber ducks from my friends, because watching ducks swim in the lake is a favorite activity of mine. I now have so many absurd ones that I have no real desire to ever receive another one. However, I found this mirror (via Urban Outfitters) which is pretty cute (not to mention surrealist):

Silver Duck Mirror by David Dear

It's hard to believe that tomorrow night is New Year's Eve! I hope that everyone has fun plans to ring in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

chickens and cakes

We're at the airport in Honolulu, waiting to fly back to Chicago! While not ideal for birthday revelry, this week has been pretty great so it's hard to complain.

One of the greatest parts of any trip (especially family vacations) is an excess of tasty food -- mm. This one was filled with lots of Hawaiian local specials (i.e. macademia nuts in everything, pineapples, and Kona coffee), and other great stuff:

mini mocha souffles!

organic chicken and fingerling potatoes (Christmas Eve dinner)

Pineapple-rum cake with lavender-vanilla bean ice cream and sauteed pineapple

warm chocolate cake with vanilla coulis (and a santa!)

...and finally, my last meal of being 23: fried chicken and waffles

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a very green Christmas

I've gotta say, being in Hawaii makes it really hard to remember that this is the holiday season. Palm trees just don't have that same festive feeling as 10 inches of snow, you know? Clearly I don't mind being somewhere warm, etc. but I do miss the festiveness of NY/Chicago from before I left:

trees being sold on 6th Ave

SoHo Park

elbow-deep in Latkes

Festivus party

Back home at the Celtic Knot in Evanston

Mind you, they've decorated loads of little christmas trees (with pineapple ornaments) and wrapped up the palm trees with white lights, but it's just not the same...

my view from The Terrace restaurant last night

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

a whale of a good time

My dad and I took a drive over to Lahaina today and went on a whale watching tour given through the Pacific Whale Foundation. We saw at least 7 humpback whales, who were very active around the surface, and seemed to like us! The tour overall was great - I highly recommend it if you're ever in Maui. We even saw some cute little dolphins at the end of our trip as we were pulling back into the harbor!

(I was going to open with a joke about these being full-time whales, rather than freelance whales, but I'm restraining myself.)

While in Lahaina, we also saw this crazy crazy Banyan Tree. Check it out:


While this decade turnover might not be as monumental as The New Millennium, per se, I'd say that it has been choc-full of personal milestones. I graduated from middle school, high school, and college in these past 10 years; this contains my first concert, funeral, wedding, fashion show, relationship, breakup, car, apartment, trip abroad (minus, well, when I was born), etc and so forth. A lot of my friends are ready for the 00's to be over, but I would like to take this moment to note that they weren't all that bad.

The chronological, musical roadmap to my 00's:
formatted: Artist - Album (Release)

Blink-182 - Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001)
Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American (2001)
The Strokes - Is This It? (2001)
Lucky Boys Confusion - Throwing the Game (2001)
mix CDs + camp = very few full album listens
Something Corporate - North (2003)
The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (2003)
Death Cab for Cutie - Photo Album (2001)
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand (2004)
Modest Mouse - Good New For People Who Love Bad News (2004)
Ben Folds - Rockin' The Suburbs (2001)
The Walkmen - Bows + Arrows (2004)
Guster - Keep it Together (2003)
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Hearts of Oak (2003)
The Postal Service - Give Up (2003)
Spoon - Kill The Moonlight (2002)
Kings of Leon - Youth and Young Manhood (2003)
The Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (2005)
Boy Least Likely To - The Best Party Ever (2005)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2005)
The Decemberists - Picaresque (2005)
Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins (2005)
Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema (2005)
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)
Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)
Peter Bjorn and John - Writer's Block (2006)
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers (2006)
TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
Band of Horses - Cease to Begin (2007)
Girl Talk - Night Ripper (2006)
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (2006)
Hot Chip - The Warning (2006)
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (2007)
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular (2007)
The National - Boxer (2007)
Ra Ra Riot - Ra Ra Riot EP (2007)
Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight (2007)
Adele - 19 (2008)
Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha (2007)
Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (2008)
Frightened Rabbit - Midnight Organ Fight (2008)
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound (2008)
Okkervil River - The Stage Names (2007)
Fanfarlo - Reservoir (2009)
Noah and the Whale - First Days of Spring (2009)
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)

**No artists have been repeated, so as to make this not quite as long.**

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Greetings from Maui!
(please don't hate me!)

driving to Kapalua

roadside view

I made a friend while having my coffee this morning!

The view from our room

Poolside, day 1

In our first full day in Maui (Kapalua to be more specific), we have enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine, but have not actually done a whole lot. I went running and to the pool; my mom went for a walk and to the pool; my dad took a walk down to the beach and attempted to do some snorkeling (he was only somewhat successful as the current kept knocking him over). We just returned from dinner at Merriman's, a mostly local/sustainable/farm-to-table type restaurant, which was excellent.

Tomorrow we are going whale watching(!) and then... who knows. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Freelance Whales & Fanfarlo concert!

Friday night at Webster Hall was a wonderful cap to 2009 concerts! Freelance Whales and Fanfarlo closed their US tour with a really fun show. I now feel totally justified in my pick of Fanfarlo for album of the year. Their live show was simultaneously theatrical and subtley charismatic. The snide woman next to me commented that the music sounded good, but they didn't "seem to have much stage presence." I completely disagree with her on this last point. Their stage presence is charming and a bit quiet, allowing the music to do the talking for them. They are not terribly verbose between songs, which I appreciate - not every band should be cracking jokes. Their performance captivated audiences from the beginning as they re-enacted their video for "The Walls Are Coming Down" - mid-air straight jacket man and all.

After releasing himself from his straight jacket...

Performing "Reservoir":

This was their last show on a tour they've been on with Freelance Whales for a few months (pretty much since the end of CMJ). Freelance Whales were as charming as ever, and clearly ecstatic to be playing in their hometown. I was worried at first that they were going to play the entire Weathervanes album in order, but they mixed things up about 4 songs in. I particularly enjoyed the way that "Broken Horse" came out in the live performance. His voice was a little more raw (less pop-y?) than on the album, which added a nice quality to the overall sound and made it less Sufjan-y. The show closed with Freelance Whales joining Fanfarlo on stage to sing a little Christmas song (which Fanfarlo has also sang on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series). It was sweet, topical, and at the end they all hugged. Though, I wouldn't have minded if Fanfarlo had done their "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" cover, too! ;)

Both bands on stage together:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let's Play Favorites: round 2

Along a similar train of thought, I find it difficult to make year-end lists because I come to the sudden realization that I have dozens of half-albums in my iTunes. And then I feel guilty because maybe one of these albums was really great, and time just ran out so I didn't seek out the rest of the songs to fill out the whole record. But then I realize that it's practically impossible to listen to that much music very thoroughly (unless it's your job), so I should just enjoy these little bits and pieces that I've found -- and now share them with you!

Top "Other" Songs of 2009
(not found on any of the Top 10 or honorable mention albums)

"Howl" - Florence and the Machine
"Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon
"Love Song 2009" - Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele
"So Insane" - Discovery
"At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)" - fun.
"Niagra Falls" - Harlem Shakes
"Embers" - Just Jack
"Burial" - Miike Snow
"So Far Around The Bend" - The National
"Actor Out Of Work" - St. Vincent
"Castle" - UUVVWWZ
"Can't Help It" - Yes Giantess
"Basic Space" - The xx
"Dominos" - The Big Pink
"Barcelona" - Plasticines
"Poker Face" - Lady Gaga
"Shadows" - Au Revoir Simone
"People Say" - Portugal. The Man
"15 to 20" - Phenomenal Handclap Band
"The Fear" - Lily Allen
"Airport Surroundings" - Lonely Dear
"The Tenure Itch" - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

P.S. Imeem got bought out by myspace music and merged into it, so all of my old playlists on this blog are gone :'( I have spent a sick amount of time syncing my iTunes library into lala's music service so that I could use it and make this playlist for all of you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let's Play Favorites: round 1

On the one hand, I love making lists. However, what I hate is making ranked lists...I'm too indecisive and I've gone back and forth a million times. But, I will stand by this list, because I'm not proposing that these are the best albums of 2009, but rather, my favorites. Maybe the order isn't perfect, but by the time I figure that out, it will be 2011.

My Personal Top 10 Albums of 2009:

10. Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
Wilco: the band, the album, and even the song. While not their best album (I still go back to Summerteeth as my #1), it was a solid record and lived up to the expectations that I have for this band.
9. The Antlers - Hospice
Everyone talks about the heartbreaking nature of this album, the raw pain and emotion. It's all true. I'm obsessed with "Two" as a song, but listening to the whole album is not something I can do on repeat unless I block out the lyrics.
8. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
I love Neko Case...I was so excited to see her twice in one year, senior year of college (once solo and once with the New Pornographers). She's incredibly charming and soulful, as is her music. The only questionable part of this album is wtf is up with those crickets at the end?
7. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
I remember distinctly when the year-end lists came out in 2007, Armchair Apocrypha was all over the place - but I wasn't listening to Andrew Bird yet, at least not in a serious way. But I got hooked, and this is the first album that I've been able to love from the moment it was released. It also saved my sanity, as it was one of the few things that I could tolerate my former office playing on repeat.
6. Passion Pit - Manners
This album is so freaking catchy. Their live show was also fantastic, when I saw one of a gazillion performances that they did with Phoenix in NYC this year. And who doesn't want to dance when they hear "Little Secrets"?!
5. Freelance Whales - Weathervanes
I think my love and obsession with this band and album have been well-documented on this blog throughout this year. I'm excited to see them perform this Friday at the tail-end of their tour with will be interesting to see how they've developed since the last time I saw them this summer (before the album had officially been released!)
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
Karen O did two great things this year (Where the Wild Things Are, ftw!) Even though this album came out at the beginning of 2009, it has managed to stay relevant and interesting in my ever-changing mind.
3. Noah and the Whale - The First Days of Spring
It's a little strange to fall in love with a band on a album that's all about heartbreak. But it's just such a beautiful album, it will work you through emotions that you might not even have.
2. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Congrats, Phoenix: you guys are EVERYWHERE now. Oh, to be French and adorable and put out an unstoppable pop record.
1. Fanfarlo - Reservoir
It feels incredibly appropriate that the last concert I'm planning to see this year is by this band that I've slowly grown to be completely in love with over the past few months. I firmly believe that every track stands on its own, and that together they are a fantastic collection of layered instruments and voice, building in both sound and intensity.

Honorable Mentions:
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
To be quite honest, this is the only Animal Collective album that I've ever been able to listen to all the way through, much less enjoy. In fact, I even went back and listened to some of their older albums that have been collecting proverbial dust in my iTunes collection, as a test to see if my tastes had merely changed or if this was just a remarkable album. The results of my research are that I have a 5% higher appreciation for the Animal Collective sound overall, but this album really is much more accessible, and for that I'm a fair-weather fan.
Morrissey - Years of Refusal
What can I say? As a massive Smiths-phile, it's only natural that I still find Morrissey's angst charmingly catchy. The man's still got it, though.
Electric Owls - Ain't Too Bright
These guys are very cute, and I really liked this album a lot for a few months over the summer. But they dropped off as fall set in, and I ended up leaning towards other musical styles. But it's still a really great album, and it deserves some credit.
Matt & Kim - Grand
They are just so adorably peppy and endlessly happy. It's kind of ridiculous. I loved their self-titled debut, and this is equally enjoyable.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah!

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah! I've set up my cork-in-bottle menorah on the mantle, and draped a sparkly, twinkly branch along the woodwork for some extra festive cheer. I'll be half-celebrating by having some potato pancakes, but at a distinctly non-Jewish locale (Lederhosen) for a friend's birthday. Not to worry: there's also a latke party in my future next week with some college friends!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"breakfast" for dinner

Last night I made this red onion and gruyere filled challah french toast, coated in sliced apples. It was SO good. I am becoming a huge fan of NYT recipes (though, the article accompanying this recipe implies that it could be some sort of Chanukah latke alternative, which is just not true)

However, since Chanukah starts on Friday, I guess it's finally time for me to admit that winter is here. Snow days across upstate NY help out with this change of heart, too. I started writing holiday cards last night, and perfecting a winter playlist. And tomorrow I'm going to pick up a new menorah that I ordered!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More things like this

The problem with starting a list of gift-able items you like, is that it becomes a never-ending side project. Everywhere I go, things of interest get logged into the catalog in my brain until I'm somewhere that I can write them all down. I am overwhelmed by the number of gift guides online--they're all fantastic, but also make the materialistic side of my brain feel like it's going into overdrive.

More Things Like This - a book of drawings and captions by those McSweeney's folks

Fold-up tote bag (Modcloth)
how cute!! and practical!

I would totally hang them on my wall, if I had this:

Ok, enough of this nonsense! (for now...)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Denial

Even though NYC technically had its first snowfall of the season yesterday, I'm in denial about the beginning of winter. I will miss you, Fall!

However, once winter actually starts (which, clearly, is any day now...) I will get a jump start on Time Out NY's list of 101 Things to Do in NYC in the Winter. The list is full of great looking activities, restaurants, and bars to frequent rather than hibernate, which often seems like a favorable option in the cold months. It covers all the standards (like ice skating and seeing the Rockettes), some things that are purely silly (making a hipster snowman), as well as many seasonally-appropriate cuisines and drinks to chase down. Some of my favorites on this list include:

2. Drink by the fireplace at Clover Club
Leather booths, swizzle sticks and a crackling fire make Cobble Hill's Clover Club the perfect place to take cover from winter’s abrasive winds. Order a Whiskey Sour, kick back and indulge your Don Draper fantasies. Feeling averse to the F and G trains? The flames burn in every borough: here's acomplete guide. 210 Smith St between Baltic and Butler Sts (718-855-7939,

9. Do SantaCon
On December 12, hordes of revelers dress up as variations on Santa (traditional Santa, slutty Santa, Santa dog, etc.), his wife and his little helpers, then work their way from one watering hole to the next. Join them! But note: “SantaCon is not a bar crawl—it’s a convention,” maintains the event's official website (which also advises “Don’t fuck with kids”).(

58. But don’t forget about "Tim Burton" at MoMA
Gear up for next year’s Alice in Wonderland with this career retrospective of Hollywood’s creepiest director. This exhibition and film series presents all things Burton, including his earliest childhood drawings and storyboards created during the production of Edward Scissorhands and other movies. Not to be missed: an intriguingly grotesque, untitled pen-and-ink sketch from The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories. 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-708-9480,

92. Get drunk by the fire at Shoolbred’s
This East Village bar owes its atmosphere to co-owner and Tony–award-winning set designer William Ivey Long, who filled the cozy pub with stained-glass flourishes, an abundance of orchids, cherrywood-paneled walls and Louise Bourgeois lithographs. You’ll find low-key tipplers conversing over fresh-squeezed screwdrivers and greyhounds, made to order with an old-fashioned citrus press on the bar. 197 Second Ave between 12th and 13th Sts (212-529-0340,

In fact, last night we went to Shoolbred's, which was pretty full and so I only saw the fireplace. But, it really is very excellently decorated, and their fresh-squeezed juice is pretty great.

a delicious Greyhound, with their lovely wallpaper in the background

Saturday, December 5, 2009

the holiday spirit

I just watched Love Actually, which is one of my go-to holiday spirit movies. When I was younger, though, I was oddly a huge fan of A Very Brady Christmas and watched it every year when it aired on tv (shh don't tell).

There's only one week until Chanukah, though my parents stopped actually choosing gifts for me years ago and now it's all sort of lumped into a Chanukah+DecemberBirthday go-buy-whatever-you-want-within-reason deal. Though it's nice because I always inevitably get something that I want, I miss the days of actually opening up a present that my parents had taken the time to wrap. Oh well--I guess you can't have it both ways.

If, perchance, they were to give me a wrapped gift this year, I wouldn't mind any of the following things that I've come across lately:

Chainlink knitted scarf (Urban Outfitters)

Gold wildflower necklace (Urban Outfitters)

Vintage rotary phone (Anthropologie)

Fair Isle knee-high socks (JCrew)
*EDIT: I got these from my friend! Yay!!*

BC "Rainbow" boots in Clay (via Need Supply)
*seriously, I have a huge crush on these boots right now

Other silly things that I want: a cute tape dispenser, 30 mini potted cacti or a train set (for that weird wall ledge between the kitchen and the main space of my apartment)

Big ticket items I can only dream of: a really good dressform/mannequin, a pretty digital SLR camera (because clearly going on vacation with 3 cameras already is not enough), a TV whose screen is larger than this laptop, a more comfortable futon to sit on (and possible a less squeaky one).

Oh, and if the powers that be are listening in: I would really like one of those jobs I interviewed for (you know which ones I mean). I would take one of those in lieu of all of the above. Even the boots.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

the walls are coming down

A couple of things:

#1: I am very excited that this concert is in two weeks! :

#2: In case you haven't noticed, there are some new additions to the sidebar of the blog, all having to do with the Etsy shop. It's up! It exists! Well, you can only buy one thing right now, but I figured it was about time to get a move on that. I have other things, but I'm still working on photographing/editing. And, I have a tumblr blog to track all of those things as they arise.


Yesterday I volunteered for an event, setting up a shopping party and assembling a gazillion giftbags. After over an hour of staring at the same items, their ridiculousness started to overwhelm me. They're all from a site that I had never heard of previously ( See them below:

^ Because more people need a reason to think it's ok to pee on the street.

Several hours later, I'm still not sure what this is. I think it's a "comic book".

This gum was amusing for half a second. By the time I got to the bottom of the box I wanted to cry a little bit, and wondered what people would think of giftbags containing these things.

I cannot possibly explain how ugly these cuffs are. I seriously cannot imagine wearing any of these things on my wrist...they're make of polypropylene! And quite frankly this was a Fashion event, and I can't imagine anyone attending it would want one of these things either.

(I'd like to note that there were some good things that went into these bags, but unfortunately they were not in my part of the assembly line.)