Feist: Pleasing To The Ears

October 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

I absolutely am in music heaven with Leslie Feist’s new album Metals. Absolutely.

The wonderful ladies of Mountain Man have been lending their beautiful harmonies with Feist on stage. This, dear Readers, is a beautiful combination. Beautiful. I picked three of my current favorites on the album to share, because I couldn’t just pick one. However, if the music clips are pleasing to your ears, stream the whole album here.

The strong percussion of The Bad In Each Other automatically drew me in. The thudding of the drum, the electric guitar, saxophone, and harmonies created this tension that parallels well with the relationship in the song. Give a listen – what do you think?

Another song on repeat is Bittersweet Memories. The recording has this great moment where the strings and vocal harmonies come together on the bridge with the following words:

Can’t go back, I can’t go on

I remember us ‘fore we turn to dusk

Just when these feelings were all about

When we still could trust in our hearts

This instrumentation in Caught A Long Wind is unbelievably beautiful.

A nod to Feist.


Weekend Do: Begin An Art Collection

October 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

A childhood dream of mine was to live in an art museum like Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Even now I’m still in awe when I stand in front of a 16 feet painting, walk around a sculpture, or peer into a display full of pottery. However, the thought of having a collection of art no longer has to be restricted in a museum. Why not have a collection in your own home? Below are some helpful resources to begin an art collection.

1. Do shop Etsy. Etsy is an online marketplace for small business owners to share their craft. Currently, this watercolor piece is a favorite:

The Wheatfield by Katie Daisy

2. Do buy some affordable art from 20×200. Every week prints of original art is available for art lovers to consume. Connecting the artist to someone who appreciates what they are creating is a beautiful thing. You could purchase a piece like the one below:

Well-being 1 by Valerie Roybal

3. Do Buy Some Damn Art. This is a project by Art Hound where weekly art sales are sent straight to your inbox. It’s a simple sign up with your email.

Go ahead buy some art.

What kind of art do you want to collect or already have?

‘Tis the season…

October 26, 2011 § 5 Comments

Guest post by Laura Mettler.

…for the juxtaposition of my two least favorite colors. To my eye, black and orange look and feel like an alarming death warmed over, then burnt to a crisp, and somehow still slightly, well, fuzzy. They conjure such terrifying visions as construction signs, blaze orange hunting gear, 90’s orange flames on black background, and large, fake tarantulas.

It is also the time when my least favorite genre of films and stories spike in popularity. Horror/gore? No stank you!

That being said (and meant!), I must confess that I do love a good murder mystery. My all-time favorite stories are those with eccentric and brilliant crime-solving heroes. Two fictional characters stand head and shoulders above the rest:  Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown.

1. Sherlock Holmes

True confession: I have never read Sherlock Holmes.  I tried, briefly, in some remote corner of a library I can’t place, and failed.  Ah, well.  Fortunately, we have at least three devilishly attractive and stunningly portrayed guides to the mind of Sherlock (with an apologetic shoulder-shrug to Robert Downey, Jr.):

a. Basil Rathbone.

Never really seen his stuff, but I guess he’s okay. Most people love him and think he’s the best. He has some WWII versions of Sherlock, which I couldn’t get into.

b. Jeremy Brett.

My personal favorite in terms of flamboyant and endearing mannerisms. I recommend starting with this old episode on youtube:

c. This guy.

I just watched season one of SHERLOCK (all of three episodes) this week courtesy of the local library system. It makes solving crime with a sociopath fun again, in a thoroughly modern way. And hey! Dr. Watson moonlights as THE Hobbit.

I have found my new celebrity crush.

2. Father Brown.

I could go on and on.  About how my brother and sister-in-law introduced me to this fellow. About how his stories were written by G. K. Chesterton, who is rather a hero of mine. About how my friend and fellow seminarian Richard got an extra copy of his complete collected stories for me out of the blue. About how I often read them out loud with my roommate (a process which takes around a half an hour or 45 minutes, roughly the length of a television show). About the dumpy little priest himself: his secret, his scandal, his resurrection, his shapeless hat and disheveled umbrella. About how I refuse to watch the television series.

About how the heart strips down dirty and is offered a good wash during the read. But I’ll end here.

Which is just to say, if I have a hankering for justice (with a slightly disparaging nod to the human condition), I watch Sherlock. If I need a good dose of true horror and hope thrown in the mix, I commend my soul to the wise and homely ministrations of Father Brown.

Hello to Cello

October 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Did you practice those words or just read them? Go back and start again.

This past weekend, I was gifted with much music, soundly so. It was lovely. And unexpectedly, the cello played a prominent theme. Pakou has written beautifully of the cello here, but as I listened to the instrumental songs recommended to me, I was reminded of all the spaces we create for doing when we equally need space for just being. Both to keep us sane and refresh our creativity.

It’s much harder to simply be. Martha Graham said:

“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”

So many things to practice in life. Creating. Grace-giving. Allowing. Bearing with. Breathing. I think wordless music creates its own space for being, inviting reflection, and resting attentively. But it takes practice, too, to put away distractions, to focus on the music and where it takes you.

So today, listen. Be still. Invite.

20th century composer Samuel Barber wrote “Adagio for Strings,” in this case, performed by six celloists.

Celloist Steven Sharp Nelson plays Bach like you’ve never heard it with seven other celloists. (Also worth a listen is his cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”)

“The Winner Is” is composed by Mychael Danna for the soundtrack for the delightful movie, Little Miss Sunshine.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Weekend Do: Curl Up Edition

October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

The crisp fall air is making early morning rises much more difficult. The cozy weight of warmth under my five blankets (Yes, it’s true. I have five blankets on my bed.) persuades me to snooze a little longer. However, once I peel away the layers of blankets and realize the fall air means school is in session, I’m quick to get out of bed. This weekend I’m traveling a bit for a family wedding. I’m especially excited to spend some sweet time with my niece and nephew. Weekends are such a coveted time, and I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Join me in the Weekend Do:

1. Do listen to Ben Howard. He is a singer songwriter from England. His voice reminds me a bit of James Vincent McMorrow from Ireland. Watch the beautiful video of his song Old Pine. The song is about being careless in the summer, but it makes me want to cover up in a blanket, by a fire, under the cool night stars. This is soul-pleasing to me. If you enjoy the video go here to listen more.

2. Do make fall decorations for your home. I made the fall wreath below with yarn, felt, fabric scrap, and a straw wreath.

We lined little pumpkins on the ledge of our peek-a-boo window between the kitchen and dining room.

The shades of rusty orange adds a nice warmth to our home.

3. Do bake a fall treat. I say, “To eat is to share.” I’m going to try this recipe for Pumpkin Nutella Bread.

Photo via Pinterest

During the fall season, what gets you in the cozy mood?

Covering the 80s

October 19, 2011 § 8 Comments

As October is the month of my birthday, I often grow a bit nostalgic this time of year for the 1980s, my decade of birth, even though I was too young to have known it well. I just have hazy memories of jelly shoes, stirrup pants, big pony tails and creepy Jim Henson movies, memories which usually shut up nostalgia pretty quickly.

Nonetheless, I do have some guilty pleasure songs from the 80s, partly fueled by a former roommate who would unabashedly burst into “Time After Time” in our horribly painted red, orange, and yellow kitchen – a throwback not from the 80s, but the previous renters.

Yes, we lived and sang here.

Today I’m merging the past and the present with a few songs from the 80s covered by indie artists, many of which are better for the revision in my opinion.

“Beat It” (1983) by Michael Jackson covered by Pomplamoose. Of course there’s going to be a Michael Jackson song on this list, and who better to match his energy than the quirky Pomplamoose duo?

“Higher Love” (1986) by Steve Winwood covered by James Vincent McMorrow, who manages to strip this upbeat, funky pop song to its acoustic skeleton and reconstruct it from there, as he does even with his cover of Willow Smith’s, “Whip My Hair,” which he makes impossibly mellow.

“Addicted to Love”  (1986) by Robert Palmer covered by Florence + the Machine. Robert’s version is the type sung in a sleazy bar; Florence’s opening could go in a horror flick the moment the girl stupidly goes outside to see what’s wrong.

“Sweet Child o’ Mine” (1987) by Guns N Roses covered by Taken By Trees, a song translated from American hard rock to Swedish indie folk. It’s like night and day, jellies and Toms shoes, stirrup pants and skinny jeans, Jim Henson and the Coen brothers.

“The One I Love” (1987) by R.E.M. covered by Rosie Thomas. This one’s my favorite. I enjoy R.E.M. as a great rock band, but Rosie quietly takes this love song and infuses it with the intimacy, longing, and simplicity that the original lacked.

A nod to past and present musicians.

Meet Emily & Her Fall Inspirations

October 17, 2011 § 3 Comments

Guest post by Emily Hazen.

Oh how I want to greet you, FALL. How I want to give you a big hug, BUT I can’t. I’ve somehow found myself living in this crazy state called Texas where it’s still 90 degrees in October. So I do things that trick me into thinking it’s fall, like having pumpkin bread, putting gourds in my centerpiece bowl, and staying inside after work, listening to the music that brings me back to various fall seasons of my life. God certainly brought me here for a reason. I’ve met some of the most beautiful genuine people, started a library in Nicaragua, and get to do what I’m made for as an educator.

I love how seasons promote different inspirations in us. I know as a teacher, fall seems to be the time where we have the highest aspirations and the most energy to accomplish transformations in our classrooms. This fall I find myself reflecting more on things that I’ve previously created. I’ve started a new position as a Literacy Specialist at a PreK Center in Houston. That’s just a fancy name for storyteller or dramatic play encourager. The other day in my class, as we were reading a spectacular picture book called Chalk by Bill Thomson, we got out our “imagination sparkles” from our pockets and stepped into the story. Soon my four-year-old students were catching butterflies and describing their colors and shape-designs. These are moments of inspiration. I can tell you that the wonder we experienced through this story was powerful. I find myself in a place of contentment in my work.

I know that as I look into the nature of fall I see the amazing cycle that moves us through life. Watch this video and experience the alphabetical odyssey through the creative process.

Ok, so you loved it right? Listed below are current inspirations through photos I’ve taken:

A thoughtful and original birthday gift from my boyfriend.

Enjoying a popsicle with my friend's son, who is my other boyfriend.

Textures and orange decorations for fall and a rainy day on my deck.

Sketching my dreams when I wake up.

An airplant, which I am crazy for and being at the ocean.

My sweet mom coming to visit and meeting some of my friends.

In this fresh space, we will dance.

Erik and I loving Houston.

Where Am I?

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