Monday, September 27, 2010

a little bit about moi

Okay so it's 11am on Monday morning and I'm fueling up with a cup of coffee that requires me to set the coffee maker to 2 cups in order to fill it. I never used to be a coffee drinker, I don't know that I would qualify as one even now. I've always been rather proud of the fact that I made it through four years of undergrad and an entire M.A. degree without coffee, except as an occasional social activity. However, in the past month coffee has become my dear friend. Granted coming so late to coffee as a means to alertness I can still get by with one cup for an entire day, but that one cup makes a world of difference.

You see I'm currently in the process of studying for a big test I have to take in November. I've been preparing since this past spring, but it's crunch time now and the ability to spend hours at a time studying without falling asleep is crucial to my success.

In addition to constant studying I have two part time jobs, I'm planning a wedding for my little sister's best friend who is like my other little sister, applying to doctoral programs for the fall of 2011 and attempting to maintain at a least a small semblance of a social life.

The wedding is October 9th, so it will be a relief when that is over. You see this all started with me offering to do the center pieces and somehow ended with me planning, well, everything. I believe the hall officially has me listed as the wedding planner. The bride whom I have known her entire life and love like a sister is currently in AZ and her mother's health has not been good for the last year, so I'm happy to be able to do this for their family, but it is definitely contributing to my stress levels.

I like both of my jobs, but having two part time jobs is stressful because you're constantly juggling your schedule. And even though almost by definition you need to have more than one part time job, each part time job you have tends to need you for the same hours because lets face it weekends are when most retail businesses need to most help. My first job is at a large corporate bookstore, which for legal reasons I don't think I'm allowed to name in a personal blog, so lets just say it's a Michigan based store and assume we all know what I'm talking about. My second job is at a small wine shoppe which only just opened this spring and I was lucky enough to get my foot in the door just as they were opening.

I really like my job at the bookstore, the customers are more often than not intolerable, but I really like the people I work with. I've worked in a couple of other retail stores before and by far my co-workers at the bookstore are the most interesting. They like to read (should be a given if you work in a bookstore, but you never do know), they're intelligent, and creative. This works nicely with my attempt to have a social life as I actually enjoy hanging out with my coworkers outside of work. Several of the people I work with at the bookstore are artists, my friend Katherine in particular is amazing and everyone should visit her website Her merchandise page in particular is great, she gave a couple of people at work her necklaces and now the store is practically a front for selling her jewelry, so check her out. She's also a very talented writer.

The wine shoppe is fine too, a bit more boring, but I'm happy to have the money so I can't complain

Anyway I am now done with my coffee and it is time to get to studying. It's Poe today so that at least will be fun, I like a good bit of Poe in the autumn as it gets me in the mood for Halloween.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Autumn Delights

I've been in quite the autumnal mood lately and as such I thought I'd share my reviews for two staples of autumn fun- Cider Mills and Apple Orchards (sometimes, but not always one in the same).

All ratings out of 5, 1= piss poor, 2= meh it as alright, 3= good, but not great, 4= really good, 5= Great/bestest ever.

Yates Cider Mill
Overall rating: 3

Here's the deal, Yates is a lovely cider mill with some really nice walking trails and a lovely seating area across the road by a river these aspects if not marred by some rather important details would easily earn Yates a 4. The only major drawback is that it gets incredibility crowded, particularly in the shoppe, and the crowds can make it feel a bit more like a packed in fairground than a quaint cider mill.

The goodies: Here is where things start to go down hill a bit. You can buy all sorts of autumnal goodies at Yates and I'll talk about what I consider to be the four essentials here.

1. Cider, I give it a 2.5 out of 5. Yates's cider is somewhat disappointing and is a little too close to apple juice in color and taste. I'm not sure exactly why this is, but it tastes as though it has been thinned out too much. I like nice dark cider. I am aware that cider varies in taste and yumminess throughout the fall and from batch to batch.

2. Donuts, 3 out of 5, Sadly I can't say I'm overly impressed with their donuts either. They are smallish and usually somewhat dry.

3. Apples, 5 out of 5 they sell bags of apples in their apple tent and I've never gotten bad or mealy apples from them. They have a large variety and are reasonably priced.

4. Caramel Apples 5 out of 5, I'm not sure what kind of apples they use for these, but they don't use the Red Delicious that a lot of places use which are almost always mealy and flavorless. Yates's caramel apples are always delicious and flavorful and one of my favorite fall treats.

Overall Yates isn't a bad place, they lose points for being crowded (although what cider mill isn't this time of year), and for what I feel is a sub par effort in the cider and donuts area two vital components to any good cider mill. On the other hand Yates is a lovely place for a date or an afternoon spent with friends.

Erwin's Apple Orchard
Overall rating 5 of 5
I love love love this place.

Located near Kensington lake Erwin's is a lovely little apple orchard and you couldn't ask for a better atmosphere. Wagons pulled by tractors take you out into the orchard where you can fill your bag with a large variety of apples and the friendly staff is great at filling you in on what kinds of apples are best for your different needs. Oh and they have a pumpkin patch as well!


1. Cider 5 out of 5, this is seriously the best cider around so much better than Yates. Dark and just a bit tart this is autumn in a glass.

2. Donuts 5 out of 5, warm and never stale these donuts are amazing. Not too small or too big I always end my visit to Erwin's with cider and donuts.

3. Apples 5 out of 5, you just can't beat pick your own.

4. caramel apples 5 out of 5, so delicious and they don't skimp on the caramel.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Smell of Rain

Rain may be the enemy of summer picnics and days at the beach, but I don't think anyone can deny that rain possesses a certain magical ability to effect our imaginations.

Last night, sometime between 4 and 5am I was awoken by an earth shaking clap of thunder, the kind that triggers car alarms and sets dogs to barking. Thunderstorms always send a little thrill of excitement running through my body, as if the electricity from the storm is literally connecting to my nerve endings and pumping life into them. It isn't hard to see how Shelly came up with her idea for Frankenstein. I don't know how long the storm went on, I drifted on the edge of sleep listening as the thunder retreated into the distance. Eventually all that was left was the patter of rain in the leaves of the tree outside my window and an occasional far away rumble.

When I woke up this morning the air was still damp and the clouds were hanging low in the sky. I wheeled my bike out of the garage and headed to the gym. I love my rides to the gym, or anywhere really. Peddling down the tree lined neighborhood streets I'm always a little surprised by how lovely everything is, and how entirely I miss this sense of beauty when I drive.

Today was especially good for a bike ride, the air smelled of fresh rain and damp wood. Anyone who has ever gone camping in Northern climates will recognize it as the smell that the forest has in the early morning when the dew and perhaps even a little bit of rain from the night before is still hanging in the air. It was overcast, but there was a sort of glow emitting from the vegetation all around me. We've had the kind of summer that toasts lawns to a golden brown and renders sprinklers helpless to revive them. But autumn is creeping in, the last few weeks have been cool and we've been getting more rain. The lawns are looking almost revived lush and emerald green, the earth and exposed tree bark have been stained a dark rich brown by the rain and the first signs of autumn color is beginning to gild the crowns of some of the trees.

I will be sad when winter closes in and my bike is longer be an appropriate mode of transportation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Okay SO I know that it isn't even October yet, but I can barely contain my excitement for Halloween.

Halloween has always been a favorite holiday for me. I'm not exactly one of those people who would place it above Christmas, but that's mainly because I don't really see them as comparable. I love Christmas and I love Halloween, for entirely different reasons. When I think of Christmas I think of family, a fire in the fireplace, a big meal, mulled wine, and of course giving and receiving gifts. When I think of Halloween I think of dressing up, haunted houses, parties with friends, cider, and of course sweet treats of all varieties.

Ever the purest I don't believe I've ever purchased a costume from a store. When I was younger I was blessed with a mother who could not only sew, but who was/is endowed with incredible patience. We would go to the fabric store every year at the end of summer and look for a pattern. Precocious child that I was I always knew exactly what I wanted and there was never a pattern which fit my imagination exactly, so my mother would alter whatever pattern we found that was the closest to my "vision."

Now that I am in my mid twenties I am no less difficult to please when it comes to possessing the perfect costume. The only difference is that my mother has been relieved of her seamstress duties, and I now create my own costumes. Though I posses little of her skill with the sewing machine I have developed over years of imagination games as a child and theatre in my adult life a knack for trolling thrift stores and ebay. I search out different pieces which with the help of a little needle and thread and perhaps a hot glue gun can be transformed into fantastical costumes.

When it comes to costumes, creativity is a must. If you want to look sexy fine, but you'd better find a clever way to do it or chances are I'll think less of you. I'll admit I have my vanities just like everyone else. I want to look good in my costume, but looking good doesn't mean buying some super slutastic costume online and calling it a day. Looking good means coming up with an actual costume and than following through to make it as authentic as possible.

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Monday, September 20, 2010

DIY & Guilt Ridden Sinners.

The Metro Detroit area has certainly not been lacking in weekend activities, having boasted at least one event in the area for the past three weekends.

This past weekend it was DIY Street Fair and the Funky Ferndale Art Fair. The two events separated by no more than the 20 yards or so that makes up with width of Woodward Ave. Last year, unaware that these were two separate events and unimpressed with what I found on the Western side of Woodward, I never ventured over to the DIY. This year I spent nearly 8 hours at the DIY never once feeling inclined to investigate the FFAF.

I have never had so much fun at an art fair before, generally I find art fairs mildly amusing at best. If anything I spend my money on food and grow increasingly frustrated as I drift from booth to booth searching in vain for something anything that interests me. What I liked about DIY was that it is less professional than your typical art fair, and I mean that in the best possible way. Most art fairs have a whole lot of professional to semi professional artists selling prints, enormous sculptures or glass work coasting somewhere in the hundreds. Or they have jewelry made from glass beads, which is usually quite lovely, but that only a grandmother would see as fashionable. In any case I usually find that the items on offer at art fairs are either out of my price range or not to my tastes.

The DIY was entirely different, the art & jewelry for sale was youthful and interesting. There was a lot of re-appropriated pieces where jewelry was made from pieces which had obviously been thrifted or scavenged from garage sales and remade into truly unique and fashionable jewelry. In addition to the many booths which I thoroughly enjoyed visiting multiple times throughout the day, there were food stalls from local restaurants, live music and the piece de la resistance: a beer tent boasting a wide selection of beers from 15 Michigan based breweries.

A brief note on the food, Treat Dreams a new ice cream / cookies / cakes establishment in Ferndale was there offering both traditional and more unique varieties of ice cream. I tried both the Honey & Lavender and the Sunday Breakfast (Maple ice cream, with bits of bacon and waffle mixed in, sounds weird, but is so good). I hope the keep these flavors in the store and that they weren't just for the DIY.

So as I went I took people's cards Here are some of my Favs: Mio Dio , Marcy Davy PrintMaker, Janine's pewter jewelry, Photography by Lori O'Connor, Dang Argyle, and last but certainly not least Courtney Fischer Jewelry. Most of them have etsy shops as well so definitely check them out.

Now lets shift gears completely shall we? I am currently undertaking the masochistic endeavor of reading at least the first two volumes of the Norton Anthology of American Literature. I am currently on the second volume and have reached Nathaniel Hawthorne's short stories, and yes The Scarlet Letter.

Now I read The Scarlet Letter and a couple of his short stories in high school. I had very little patience for them at the time and rather than skip them this time around I thought I would give them a second chance. Unfortunately I am no more impressed now than I was 9 years ago when I had to read them for 10th grade English. Although I am perhaps better equipped, this time around, to identify my disinclination for Hawthorne.

There are a few obvious reasons: 1. he isn't terrifically imaginative when it comes to symbolism I was bored with this even in high school, 2. He may have created several enduring female characters, but it is still clear to me that he didn't care much for women, and 3. He can simply be a tedious writer. Now I love Dickens a man who was lets face it paid by the word, but Hawthorne just doesn't do it for me. I think he sometimes get a little too infatuated with his use of symbolism and metaphor, he also takes a but longer than this reader would like in making his descriptions of people, places, things etc.

But what I have perhaps the most difficulty with is setting aside my feminist sensibilities so that I can read him without being annoyed. As a student of English Lit and History I will be the first person to warn against judging a historical figure or their writings from the standpoint of the 21st century. However, I do not believe that being from a distant historical time period exempts one from being the consideration of criticism. In addition to this difficulty the whole idea of sin and penance around which this story is woven is not something with which I am able to connect. I wouldn't call myself an atheist, but I'm not religious either. I suppose the word is agnostic, but since I rarely think about it I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with any label. The point is that while I realize that even Hawthorne was writing about a historical period with far stricter religious beliefs and practices than his own, I personally cannot help, but see the complete and horrific ignorance of the entire ordeal. I suppose one could argue that this is precisely what Hawthorne is attempting to expose, but my familiarity with his other work leads me to believe otherwise. He may not have felt as deeply about such matters as the puritans he writes about, but I do believe that he sees Hester as a sinner and that he sees her suffering as necessary to her redemption.

Anyway those are my thoughts for the moment, perhaps I will have more to say once I've finished it (for the second time).

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Okay so I've been watching AMC's new conspiracy theory show Rubicon, and I'm enjoying it. It has a bunch of interesting characters and so far I find the plot intriguing, but I do have to admit some of my interest in the show may be a bit less to do with it's creative/narrative merits.

Lordy I love me those tall skinny boys (well men) and if that weren't enough to make me a little weak in the knees those curls just seal the deal... yum.

Okay I am now thoroughly embarrassed for myself, but it had to be said.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

To be or not to be....


Okay so when I first decided to give this whole blog thing a try I wanted to do it without relieving too much that would clue people in to who I am. I'm not really sure why, but I'm not entirely comfortable with sharing certain things in a non anonymous context. Particularly when I'm in a kinda depressed mood, I don't mind when other people do it on their blogs, but I always feel so lame about doing myself.

Anyway I am not currently depressed that is not why I'm writing this post.

I have been thinking a lot about how to use this blog, or if I want to continue to use it at all. Then just the other day I got a possible answer. I've used Yelp! for a good while, but never actually had an account. So this past June I got a user name and all that jazz or that I could write reviews, but the things is that on Yelp! reviews from new users get filtered. This is a really frustrating feature because what I liked about it was the interactive features. It has been over 3 months and non of my reviews are showing up and I put a lot of thought into my reviews and it is incredibly discouraging when they don't get used. So my thought is that perhaps I can share reviews of stores, restaurants, events and whatever else here.

Now when I came up with the solution to my Yelp! induced frustrations I realized that through these proposed reviews enough information about myself will inevitably be reveled, that if someone who actually knows me visits my blog they'll be able to figure out who I am. Anyway I've decided I'm okay with that and I will try not to let myself be self-conscious about that when writing.

Right so I'm going to give it a go. My updates may be fairly sporadic I'm not sure yet, I've got a lot going on in my life right now so I'm not sure how much time I will have for blogging. I think I'll start by adding some of my "filtered" Yelp! reviews to the blog.