Friday, February 25, 2011

If I were a pillow...

... I would be this one. 
American girl, but British at heart.


Just thought I'd share. Now onto my English class homework...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Been there, done that, messed around...

On the topic of over-priced things I could make myself...

Ever heard of Elsie Flannigan and the Red Velvet Girls? I think anyone who has a blog, or reads blogs about anything artsy, creative, girly, thrifted, or vintage has heard of this chick. She is sort of the ultimate of all those things amongst female bloggers. A few weeks ago she announced on her blog that the much anticipated renovation of the "Red Velvet" (a business started by Elsie and her sister.) online store was complete. On the site she sells a variety of things, from vintage clothing, to hand made items from various contributors. It is some pretty cool stuff, most of the time.

Much like my Anthropologie "game" I never actually intended to buy anything, but I did look through the site to gain some inspiration. One item on there immediately caught my attention. It was bright and shiny. Glittering metal.

No, hold up. I am not talking golden, glistening jewels. Have you met me?
I am talking cold, hard less-than-glamorous brass. I'm talking bullet casings. 

Listed was a collection of necklaces on chains, made from glass crystals (apparently with some sort of superstitious powers? Yeah. Whatever) and re-purposed  bullet casings. Handmade by some people called "The Lost Boys and Lovers." And it could have been mine (or yours) for the meager price of...$50!?

Whhhhat? Fifty bucks? Are you kidding me, Flannigan? Sure, it is pretty, but it is nothing but a chain, an empty bullet shell, and a piece of glass.

I bet you can guess what happened next, right?

If you guessed I got up, grabbed a casing from the Smith and Wesson .40 I shot a while back, a mess of gold chains from a vintage necklace bought from Goodwill to be hacked up, some wire, a black glass bead, and a tube of superglue, YOU'RE RIGHT (wow, you guys know me so well...)

 20 minutes later (and for so much less than $50) I had what was in essence the same necklace. I am so happy and I have been wearing it a ton.
 Today it is looking awesome with my $1 leather jacket, combat-esk black boots, skinny pants and ridiculously orange shirt dress. Oh yeah, you best believe I can rock a bullet hanging off my neck by chains (and you can also be assured I sing a line or two of "Bulletproof" every time I clasp it on!).

Money saved; awesomeness done. Good times all around.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"I could make that"

^^that phrase is probably the most common thing I say when I am shopping in any store that isn't Savers or Goodwill.

It is a phrase that has been ground into my head my whole life. Never pay (especially over-pay) for something that you could make for yourself. My grandmother and mom both say it all the time. They will flip through magazines and browse through store racks announcing that they could do it themselves. (or better yet, my mom will often say "bella, can you make me this/one of these/this thing/etc").

It is so true though. I am an artsy and creative person from a family of people who are also artsy and creative. We make stuff. I think you have all noticed that I make a lot of things- crocheted, knitted, sewn and otherwise. I think of it as art. It makes me incredibly happy to take an idea in my mind and create a real-life, 3D thing. It makes me even happier if I get to do that and I can also save money. I do so as often as I can.

If you've been around my blog for any period of time you've probably also noticed that I love the store Anthropologie. But I don't mean I love shopping there. I love STANDING in it (and I often do). I don't think I even so much like the merchandise as much as I like the store atmosphere. They do sell wonderful, artistic things, but they are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO overpriced. Maybe non-artsy people like to pay hundreds for that sort of thing, but I know I could probably like 60% of what that store sells myself. And it would be cooler because I did so. Also a good lot of the stuff I couldn't make I could get somewhere (even thrifted) else for a lot, a lot cheaper. Funky sweaters, sundresses. vintage glass wear, old looking jewelry? Oh for sure! I take it as a challenge. People pay for brands. People pay for convenience. Silliness, I tell you.Maybe I am weird and very cheap, or maybe I am really smart and frugal. You pick.

I was in the store this past week, soaking in inspiration and artfulness and afterward I went on the website and composed a list of things that I could (though I don't necessarily ever want to) make. Here it is some of what I found.

Ahmara skirt. $68
I could make this, in a different pattern but same shape. Couple fun fabrics. Done in like an hour or just a bit longer. Way cheaper.

Convergence Skirt- $78
I could pull this off in an afternoon out of a men's XL dress shirt.
Which by the way I am going to do.
Cost probably under $10.
 Zuma shopper bag-$275
If I found a nice fabric I could make this in a day. For like $8.

Knotted Tagalong Tote-$498 (!?!?)
Not that I would ever want a bag with a giant bow on it, but it someone else did I could do it. 
For so much less that $500.
Sometimes always I wonder know if that women are absolutely insane!

Study of Shapes Dress- $158
The colors in this are great, but other than that it is a simple dress.
If I set my mind to it I could pull it off. 
I'm sure I could find a cheap curtain or bed sheet to use as fabric at some place like Ikea.

Merveilleux Necklace- $428
I don't know why ANYONE would wear this weirdness, but even more so 
I don't know why they would pay that much for a ribbon and 5 plastic beads.
I could seriously make 98% of the necklaces listed (though most are unattractive).
Firecracker Necklace-$428
This one is kind of cool. I like all the random stuff.
But what is super random is that PRICE!
I could do that. In a half hour. With stuff I already have. 
I think I will!

Dutch Wax Collage Cuff-$38
So ugly...?
But if I wanted something like that I could buy vintage stuff from Savers, 
all for about $6, stick it on a cuff and get the same effect.

From a Seed Clip-$18
These I have already made.
Scrap fabric, button, glue gun, bobby pin, half hour.

Ombre Gardenia Pillow-$128
Do these all the time. 
Scrap fabric, or better yet, dinner napkins, with some stuffing or existing pillow. 
Probably like $12 at most.

Sari Throw- $198
This is nothing but a loosely crocheted combination of miscellaneous yarn.
Could do it if I wanted to...

Climbing Vines Curtains- $108-$168
I could easily make most of the curtains on there in an afternoon.
The only thing unique about them is the fabric patterns. They are just simple panels.
This would be so simple to duplicate with fun patterned king sized bed sheet.
Like $20.

I hope I just challenged you in your way of shopping. I do understand that not everybody has the craft skills I do, or even the willingness. But maybe next time you are in a high price store take a better look at what you are paying for. The actual product, or the store label? Could you make it yourself? Could you get it elsewhere? I promise you that it is so much more fun (and money saving) that way. And you also get bragging rights. Stuff, saved money and ability to brag? What more can you ask for!?

All that being said I am now off to the 50% off, President's Day sale (clothes for sale, not dead historical figures) at Savers!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

If this building went for sale, I'd buy it...

the Kansas City Public Library.
Oh my goodness. How cool is it?
This is the shortest, and maybe most pointless post ever but..this building pretty much made my day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Practical uses for christmas trees, pork fat, and 300 mm lenses

I love Christmas trees. My whole family does. We get ours the weekend after Thanksgiving and keep it in our house as long as we possibly can (which has been anywhere from the beginning of January to even Mid February). Once it can no longer live in our house, but it is still semi-green, we banish it out to our deck for another couple months. Usually we leave it strung up with lights, so on cold winter nights we can plug it in, look outside, and smile. It also doubles as a home/feeding place for birds, which my family is also fond of.

About a week ago some cooking went on in my house that involved pork-product and whenever one cooks pork there is usually run-off, excess fat left over. You can either let that harden and throw it out, or you can make use of it. One such use being making snacks for birds!

My mom, nature lover that she is, took it, poured it into a small, rectangular plastic form or some sort and mixed bird seed into it. She put a popsicle stick with string on it into the center and let it all harden. Later she popped it out and hung it on the deck-banished (and covered in four feet of snow, with only the very top sticking out might I mention) Christmas tree. Good for birds in the winter. Keeps 'em fat. Keeps 'em happy. And we get to watch them from the comfort of our living room.

A few day ago I played stealthy bird paparazzi (birds are very camera shy) with a 300 mm zoom lens. All the shots were taken through the glass doors, because I didn't want to go stand out in the mass amount of snow. The hope was that I would get a shot of a blue jay (which I love), but apparently they are far too smart and paparazzi cognizant. I've tried again since then and still they refused to let me get a shot of them. But still...some nice photos of other wintery birds ensued.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Computer and Technology Genius that I am...

Post also appropriately titled; "Liar that I am..." actually just lied to you. I am not a computer or technological genius. Forgive me. I actually don't even like technology. Obviously to survive in the society I live in I use it all, but I do so rather begrudgingly. I can use computers and such in an effective manner, but I do not find them exciting and I most certainly do not understand how it is that they work (nor do I want to).

For months now my printer has been sending me ominous threats, complete with foreboding little inky images on the lower right side of my computer screen. "INK RUNNING LOW" every time I go to print/copy something.

It has literally been telling me for probably 6 months at least (not sure what it was so excited about it) that my black in cartridge was on its way out. It recommended I do something about it. But I didn't. Two reasons: #1- logically, I wanted to use ALL the ink in there and I was letting it run completely to the point of dry. And #2- I didn't know how to change it.

But it just kept printing and printing, black as ever. I print things on a very regular basis and I was beginning to think I had a miraculously never-ending ink cartridge, a liken to the never emptying jar of oil belonging to the widow in the Biblical book of 1 Kings. I thought maybe it would just print properly and I would never have to worry about it FOR ALL ETERNITY! Saves money. Saves me having to learn how to change it. SCORE!!!

But...all good things tend to reach an end. Today, as I was printing a draft of an (terribly unpleasant) essay due for English class on Friday, it stopped being miraculous. First page printed a-okay, but pages 2-6 were printed with only every fourth line and those were barely visible. Of course. (*curse you non-magical ink, you!)

I had more ink cartridges stashed in my file cabinet upon which the printer sits, I was just afraid to touch them (not even kidding. Yes, I am THAT un-technological.). But I sucked it up. I had to print the essay so I could edit it. I would also have to print it to hand it in. The deed had to be done.


I opened up that printer and began. The battle raged for several hours at most epic proportions.
*if PG-13 rated gore frightens you, I warn you to look away now!
Blood Ink spattered everywhere, pooling all around me like fresh fallen rain. Black rain ever dropping from the fearsome like no other 210XLblackPG-210xl (WHAT does that even mean!? I think it is the monster's name.).My limbs now hang weak at my side with fatigue. My spirits should soar for my accomplishment, but are to heavy, worn to a point of thinness from my efforts.
I won, but was the victory sweet? I don't know that the images I saw today will ever leave my much dark...the horror of it all! In battles won something is always lost...


I  am a genius, I am telling you. A brave, brave, brave, genius.

Okay. I lied again. I'm a story teller. I'm just doing my job! Obviously ink-changing is way more interesting if I bump it up to a hyperbolic and epic level, second only to Beowulf itself.

In all honestly and without melodramatic flourish, it was actually the easiest thing ever and it took maybe 75 seconds. I opened it up, took the thing out, popped in a new one, shut it, and hit print. Who knew?! Now I do! And so do you! 

Pointless but successful blog post? Check!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Okay...I know the post should have been yesterday but whatever. I wasn't home. Bear with me.

I also know that the post title is really weird and kind of lame, but this whole post is going to be kind of lame. I cooked Monday, but what I did cook was a last minute attempt and sort of a cop out.

I had a long weekend and I didn't think much of what I would be making on Monday, like I normally do. So Monday morning came around, I headed to school, and still had no idea what I would do. When I came home I found some chicken thighs defrosting in the fridge and I decided I would make use of 'em. I jumped on really quick and typed in the words "CHICKEN THIGHS, POTATOES, RICE" (as I thought that sounded like a good idea).

The search pulled up THIS recipe, from my favorite (British) chef, Jamie Oliver-Crispy and Sticky Chicken Thighs with Squashed New Potatoes and Tomatoes.

The name was a bit of a mouthful, and I was a little unsure of mixing potatoes and tomatoes, but I never argue with a British cooking man, especially not Jamie. I assessed the recipe and found I had all the ingredients (only different is I didn't have fresh oregano-"Or-egg-on-ohh" as Jamie pronounces it- so I substituted dry. Would have been better the other way, so dinner was on its way.

 The aforementioned "oreggonohhh"- it went in like EVERYTHING.
 Potatoes. Red ones. He said use "new potatoes" which I am pretty sure are just smaller red ones? I just cut mine smaller and worked with what I had.
 Some chicken thighs, partially cooking on the stove.

 Tomatoes in boiled water, chillin'
 MAGIC HAPPENS! The skins pop and want to be pulled off. So that is what you do, pull them off. (also, he used cherry tomatoes, and I didn't have those. So again, just cut them smaller).
*cooked some seperate from the meat. (and for the record tomatoes and potatoes not only sound nice together, but they are tasty too. Especially with the splash of red wine vinegar. I found them to be most delicious.)
Also, aside from Jamie's recipe, I cooked up some brown rice (the meal was looking too small and needed another side dish).
 (yeah, we store rice in cookie jars. Not weird at all...)
 Brown rice + baby portobella mushrooms, onion, oregano, garlic powder, olive oil, salt &pepper.

The meal was tasty, but it was a pretty lazy attempt at cooking. I mean I cooked it but it was super easy. I usually like to enlarge my skill set. That is sort of the point of this whole cooking quest of mine: learning.Cooking rice and chicken is no big deal. Not sure it qualifies as me being awesome as I cook? Regardless, I kept to my AwesomeMonday Night routine and my family was fed, so I guess that means it was successful?

But you guys gotta help me out. I am running low on ideas, and anything I do think up is pasta (home made macaroni and penne with vodka sauce will be in the near future).

HELP! Do you have any favorite recipes, or is there a particular dish you'd like to recommend I try? I would love some suggestions!

What will I cook next AwesomeMonday? No one knows!

Me included...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hi, I'm Isabella and I'm a holiday killjoy...

I am about to ruin Valentine's Day for everyone. So if you like living in your commercialized-holiday box, don't continue reading. I warned you...

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I have a tendency to verbally shred apart holidays as celebrated by America (and else where). I think one of my most viewed blog posts is my angry letter to Santa Claus. People are still reading it weekly? I've already gone off at the way we "celebrate" Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We all know I do not celebrate Halloween (that needs a post. Remind me in October). And I have plenty more holidays I could go off at (Easter: lets celebrate Jesus, as we also dye some eggs and think about bunnies. Things established for Beltane, the ancient Spring festival of the druids; Saint Patrick's Day: let's drink ourselves into a stupor as we think about the Saint who brought Christianity to Ireland. Sounds a little off, friends...).

But today I am about to wreck your view of Valentine's Day. Because I, Isabella Kiss, am a killjoy. And a realist. Passionate and ardent as them come and wholly unable to sugar coat anything, ever.

Quick! What comes to mind when I say Valentine's? 

If your answer involves anatomically incorrect hearts, boxes of chocolate, or lingerie, you lose.

I would think you have all heard of Saint Valentine, yes? (and no, he is not the little naked fellow with a bow and arrow. That is Cupid. I know people tend to confuse them...). I am not entirely sure how a holiday supposedly commemorating him turned into *THIS* is his story. (read this article  and this article before writing mine. Checked others to get my facts correct. Then summarized in my own sardonic way)

    Once upon a time,(a time that was actually 270 AD not some fantasy realm time), in Rome a cranky emperor named Claudius banded marriage. Short reason as to why? His soldiers missed their families when at war, and he saw that as a weakness. To fix this issue the smartypants Claudius banned marriage altogether, for everyone (makes sense, right!? Uh...). Next our man Claudius went and banned Christianity (he was on a roll, why not?). The guy basically thought he was so awesome he should be a god.
   A rebel of the times (oh I love me a rebel!), a Christian bishop named Valentine (*cue looks of enlightenment upon your faces) decided he greatly disagreed with Emperor Claudius' laws. Being the radical he was, he decided he would preform clandestine marriage ceremonies for lovers (believing as Christians do that marriage was created by God), though it was against the law.
     Valentine was found out, brought to Claudius, who tries to persuade him to change his ways and give all his allegiance to Rome and its gods but Valentine stood firm in his beliefs. He was sent to jail, to wait for his death sentence to be carried out. There he meets, prays for, converts to Christianity (and maybe falls in love with-this part is debated. Love as is gushing emotion? Or love as is "love thy neighbor?") the blind daughter of the jailer. Before he is sent to die she miraculously, by the power of God, receives her vision and can read his good bye note, reading "From your Valentine."
    Then ardent, passionate and zealous (I just used my 3 favorite synonymous adjectives in one sentence, yes! Who cares about redundancy?) Valentine went an died for what he believed in. He would not deny his God, so Claudius had him killed. It took them three tries, three different methods, to kill this amazing man of God- beating, then stoning, and lastly decapitation.
 His gruesome death occurred on the 14th of the month of February, 270 AD.

Saint Valentine was a martyr. I see there to be nothing romantic about being brutally killed because of your belief in God. I see that as passion. I see that as something to greatly respect. I see that as love for my Savior. But what I don't really see in there is what we now use Valentine's Day for. Okay, maybe it is a love story, and the poor blind chick has to watch him die after he gives her a really nice card. And yes, the whole marriage banning, secret matrimony session thing is romantic, I guess. But again that all ties back to his belief in God.

Of course somewhere along the lines we messed the holiday all up, like we always do. People like a reason to celebrate and  like to take any excuse we can get, even if they don't really even know the purpose of their celebrating. There are many theories as to how the holiday evolved into what it is now but...point is it did. I mean, come on people, we call it Valentine's Day but we don't really acknowledge the original Valentine (a person, not a piece of paper) at all. If that was what we were really celebrating it would be a day of standing up for faith in God, unashamed, refusing to deny His existence or how he created us to live. But nope. We like to buy each other flowers and say mushy stuff, as we consume mass amounts of aphrodisiacs like chocolate. hmmm...

I know you are all thinking I am the biggest killjoy ever. I told you so! You probably also think I am utterly heartless. Not a problem, I've been accused of that many times before. But hold up. You're wrong. I'm not at all against love, as the Bible defines it. I am also not at all against celebrating it, or buying people things, or giving cards, or any of that. If you're in love, go ahead, CELEBRATE! That is WONDERFUL!

(ps: but if flowers and acts showing love are what you want and you only get them on the 14th of the second month of the year, I am slightly concerned for you. I don't at all like that we have to dedicate a certain day to make people acknowledge that they love each other. If he forgets the other 364 days of the year, he is a jerk ladies...)

I don't know if you can tell, but I get annoyed when people celebrate things as their culture tells them to. I refuse to blindly accept things. I refuse to not ask questions. I refuse to celebrate days set aside for specific people, especially when having to do with my Christian faith, by however it is my society says I should.(Call me crazy, call me ardent, call me a rebel. All true.) And I refuse to not give credit where credit is due. And if a guy, thousands of years ago, was martyred in the name of love for God and love for doing what pleases Him, I think that is worth giving credit to. Just sayin'...

*sigh. I digress.

So um... Go forth in the name of love? I love you, you love me, we're a happy family? Whatever floats your commercialized boats, people...

Happy (Saint) Valentine's Day, boys and girls.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Return of the Adventures of Emikel and Jro...

Oh yeah. We are bringing those posts least today we are!

On the afternoon of my 20th birthday Emily and I went out gallivanting through Savers (and briefly Forever 21). We like to play a game called "PICK OUT THE UGLIEST THING(S) YOU CAN FIND, TRY IT ON, AND TAKE IDIOTIC PICTURES." (you can refer to it a "POTUTYCFTIOATIP" for short, if that is easier to remember.)

We are pro at this game. We have been at it together since like sophomore year of high school. If there was a world championship for picking out ugly clothes and photographing each other in them I am SURE the two of us would win.

The evidence looks as thus:
 Super hot, uber attractive rainbow outfit 1.
 the (very slimming) rainbow poncho of major beauty
 no. words.
 who doesn't want a shirt you can play eye spy on...? 
that isn't like the most awkward thing ever...

 I have to admit, I liked the shape of this dress but the pattern was like...I can't even make my brain form a sentence to describe its beauty.
 I could list like 62 and a 1/2 things that are wrong with this outfit.
No. I am kidding. Obviously I could just never wear this in public because I look so hot that peoples faces would melt off. And that would just be cruel of me to do to humanity.

 This is what I would wear if my name was SallysSueRupertstein. 
Or if I was going to prom in the 80's. 
Or if I liked really ugly dresses that were super itchy and had bizarre necklines.
Or if I was in a remake of Pretty In Pink. 
Or if I even wore the color pink at all.

 "dear stirrup pants,
You should not exist.
At least go back to the 90's and stay there. No one likes wedgies on their feet.
emily and bella"
 What is the only difference between my best friend and a F21 mannequin? 
Easy. Emily doesn't have pepto bismol skin. 
(and she isn't bald would be another acceptable answer!)
That is just one of the many reasons I love her.


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