Monday, September 16, 2013

eye candy (the importance of taking pleasure in natural beauty)

I found this delicious little creature on my fig tree.  My dog, in overenthusiastic jealousy, knocked it off with her tail, but it managed to fly over to another plant.  It's sort of like a giant ladybug, but without the spots and with a color much more vibrant.

I take enormous amounts of pleasure in looking at living things that have naturally bright or deep colors, so this was, what I would consider eye candy.  If you don't know how to break off moments out of your dreary day to take pleasure in the things around you, then I strongly encourage you to do so!  Go for a walk, and let yourself be filled with beauty.  If you live in a city, then go to a park, or for a drive.  This cookie cutter design of life that everyone expects us to lead is far too dull to be fulfilling or nourishing.  Nourish yourself.

look at that shade of red! 

preparing to take flight

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Art Rut

Stuck in an art rut?  Do you hate most of the art/music/writing/cooking/crafting/sewing that you do?  Fret not my artsy friends, the first few years of your career or non-career as an artist are supposed to suck monster balls.  Its true, because Ira Glass said so.

Lets be honest, we oftentimes expect great things from ourselves with little to no practice.  We are lazy and childish in our artistic habits.  We dream of creating amazing works of art, but when we first begin an art form we tend to be sort of...well, terrible at it.  When my sister in law started dancing a few years ago, I'm certain she moved about like a clumsy ogre.  Now she moves with the grace and fluidity of a hummingbird.  The first time I made Alfredo sauce it was a wretched clumpy mess of cheese and liquid.  Now, after lots of practice, I'm a great cook.  When a friend of mine first started painting, her techniques left something to be desired.  Now she has grown substantially in her non-career as a painter.

What I'm trying to say is, don't beat yourself up for being mediocre, and don't let it drag you down!  Do lots of boring technical practice to hone your skills and you will eventually turn out exceptional work.  Don't only paint things that you want to paint, paint things that you think will help you improve, like still life paintings (I am anticipating your angry sighs, still life is the bane of our existences).  Or if you sing, practice your vaccai and scales every day.  If you are a cook, repeat a recipe with your personal changes until the recipe is amazing.  Second to practicing, you must have patience and be understanding enough that eventually (if you keep practicing), you will be great at whatever you do.

Don't let your dreams of greatness weigh down on your expectations, instead let them power you forward like a goal for the future.  Good luck!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

why I love this country

I love plants.  I've always considered myself as a bringer of doom as far as plant life goes, but here in Costa Rica I am a green fingered goddess.  As long as I give things room to grow and leave them outside (and occasionally dump some coffee grounds or compost on them), then they flourish beautifully!  The juxtaposition of plant growth in Seattle compared with plant growth here is simply bizarre and leads me to wonder if this place really is magical.  Probably not, but what if...

Everywhere you go, there is greenery, and it rises up brightly like a song to the gods (too tacky? haha). However, one of my favorite green places is a botanical garden in the central valley, which I believe is owned and run by the biology department of the University of Costa Rica.  It has an entire room full of orchids, some of which you have to use a magnifying glass to properly view.  That's right, tiny anatomically perfect orchids exist, and they are no less beautiful than your average-sized orchid.  Below are some pictures I took the last time I was there.

This is one of those tiny orchids I was referring to; it was the size of the tip of my pinkie finger.  It was the smallest one I could get with my current lense, but there was a little area with tinier orchids and a magnifying class for viewing pleasure.  I wouldn't even have noticed them, if it weren't for my husband's uncle pointing them out (a botanist of sorts).

 water lilies!

 Another orchid, this one with a very interesting mechanism for pollination.  An insect lands on a petal, slides down into the "bowl" and then has to crawl back up, thus dragging pollen up with it.

This was some very thick bamboo. 

I found these beauties off to the side of the cactus garden!  I have no idea what they are, but they reminded me so much of pretty little lanterns. 

NOW do you understand why I love this place?!  The plant life is revitalizing!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

romancing synth

I tried my hand at mixing some beats and synth on FL Studio, then added some vocals on the usual program (I use Sonar, though its been giving me a lot of shit lately) and this is what I got.  I realize that I have a long way to go in making decent electronic music, but hey, a girls got to start somewhere, right?  My question is, how do people use synths and actually make them sound cool?  I use synths and they sound like they should be accompanying some tacky car commercial from the 80's.  Anyway, fruity loops (oh ahem, right, the name was changed to something less flamboyant, which I by the way resent) is a great program.  Its a little pricey I suppose, but fairly easy to use, especially if you are a visual person.  The sound banks are incredible too.  Anyway, give it a listen :-)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I wonder what XXXX means...(modern goth bedroom furniture)

We had this bed and night tables custom made to fit our wants/needs.  As much I love victorian style furniture, I find that it looks tacky in a house that is not pompously oversized (even then, it tends to look pretentious).  For my own house, I prefer a more sleek, simple, and modern look.  This bed features carved out X's on the headboard and footboard.  We actually requested three X's, but somehow ended up with four, probably because of the bed size we ordered.  Did you know that there is a bed size in between queen and king?

We bought this bed with our honeymoon money, insisting that we would have our honeymoon at a later date.  As it turns out, when you're in love, every day, anywhere, is a honeymoon.  At least, that's what I tell myself to avert the attention away from my loathsome art of procrastination.

I wanted to keep the bedroom as simple as possible.  We have one black wall, three grey/blue walls (to create a relaxing atmosphere) and black heavy curtains to keep the room dark.  And what would a love den be without some tacky Ikea heart lights to set the mood?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Metropolitan (drink recipe)

I write this as I sip on a delicious dark drink that I just finished concocting.  I wanted to make a cosmopolitan, but decided to substitute the regular triple sec for Blue Curacao.  It ended up looking quite pretty, and equally delicious.  I also added extra lemon juice because I'm a sucker for sour things.  If you like sweet drinks, then you will most likely love this.

2 shots vodka
1 shot blue curacao (I used Bardinet)
1 shot of freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1/2 cup cranberry juice
lemon peel or slice for garnish

Mix vodka, curacao, lime juice and cranberry juice in a mixer.  Put desired amount of ice in a cocktail glass and pour in your wicked mix.  Enjoy!

It is a blackish drink with a charming purplish hue

 That's right, I buy vodka in jug-size ;)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beauty in Vinegar

I've recently become quite enamored with apple cider vinegar.  It literally smells like death (and tastes like hell), but works like some magical fairy dust, curing many ailments.  I may sound a bit like some 1800's peddler, selling my wunder-tincture out of the back of a horse-pulled wagon, but I swear on my un-dug grave, it really is a wunder-tincture.

I take about a tablespoon with a glass of cold water twice a day, and after a couple months, I now require a belt to keep my pants up.  It aids in digestion, and supposedly increases your metabolism and helps move lipids out of your intestines.  Here are some things that I can contest to that ACV works on...

~weightloss:  take a teaspoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar mixed with a glass of water 10-20 mins before each meal.  Most people say it works slowly.  Perhaps they are just impatient, but I've decreased pant sizes pretty rapidly, and I'm not even overweight.

~digestion:  ACV makes your stomach a very unpleasant place for candida and other nasties.  If taken regularly, it can help with chronic bloating and diarrhea, and generally just help you digest your food more easily.

~hair care:  mix about 1 teaspoon in a cup of water.  Shampoo your hair as usual, and follow with this rinse.  Leave it in for a couple minutes and rinse it out with luke warm water.  It seals the hair shaft and reduces product build-up, making your hair shiny, light, and very manageable.

~psoriasis/dandruff:  apply with the hair rinse above, or mix the vinegar 1:1 ratio with warm water and apply to psoriasis with a cotton ball before bed.

~skin care:  ever wonder how Scarlett Johansson has such flawless skin?  She uses apple cider vinegar on her face as a toner.  You can mix this 1:2 ratio and apply after washing your face.  I prefer to use cream afterward, but that is up to you.

It is important to get raw and unfiltered ACV because of the nutritional properties of the sediment at the bottom.  If you are like me, and live in a country where only filtered vinegar is available, you can easily order it online (I order from Vitacost, they ship to outside of the US).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Enigma de Ultratumba

Today I thought I would share a piece of music of which I partook in making a while ago.  Arturo Saldana, an intelligent, creative and talented musician asked me to do the vocals/lyrics (and flute) for some darkwave songs he wrote.  Here is one of those songs, called "The Donors all Die".  Give it a listen, and download it (for free) if you like.

Other songs from this album can be found at the link below and are also available for free download.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Henna for hair

To all of you female goths out there, I am sure you can relate to my struggle to find the perfect red hairdye or the perfect night-black dye that won't completely wreck your hair.  In the past, I've bleached, dyed, wrecked and shaved my hair, then grown it out and wrecked it all over again.  After promising myself I would not dye my hair for a while, I tried going natural to give my hair a rest.  Unfortunately, like many women, I abhor my natural hair color as it closely resembles the color of a mouse's fur.  It's cute on a mouse, and that's about it.

Then, a couple months ago I used a "natural dye" that you may have heard about called "Naturtint" and it left me with a migraine and strawlike hair.  So much for natural.  I kept up my search and found Henna for hair and decided to try it.  It left my hair with a brilliant shade of copper red, all without damage.  For those of you looking for a more natural black hair dye, you can follow your henna dye (after washing) with an indigo mix and it will supposedly turn your mane into a silky black miracle.  This all without using parabens, peroxide, and ammonia.  

The hitch?  You have to be patient and have a full day to dedicate to your hair.  You could see it as a pain in the ass, or you can see it as a pamper yourself day.  Hell, stay home, do nothing, watch bad b horror films; paint your nails, record some music, draw!  

The brew; about one packet of body art quality Jamila henna (100 g) mixed with 3/4c STRONG hibiscus tea, 2Tbs olive oil 9Tbs lemon juice, 3Tbs red wine vinegar, 1Tbs paprika.  Top it off with black tea to make it a yogurt-like consistency, add preferred essential oils and let it sit outside of fridge for at least 14 hours before using.
 the mousy 'before' picture (eeeew)
 And the after picture (ahhhhh).
  I applied the mixture with a dye brush smushed it all on top of my head, and put a shower cap on (to retain the moisture).  I left it on for about 4.5 hours and then rinsed it, shampooed once, and applied and rinsed conditioner twice.  It seems like a tedious process, but if you use the right essential oils (lavender, rosemary, peppermint, tea tree) then it can be really soothing to your head and scalp and of course mentally relaxing.  And just look, you get beautiful, shiny color without the chemicals and migraines!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about making your own henna hair mix, and have fun!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I approve of this (gothy) recipe

As some of you might know, I enjoy (girly) boozy drinks.  Margaritas and cosmos may be my favorites, but I'm also pretty fond of Sangria.  I never made it myself before, so I thought I would give it a try with a recipe I found online.  It turned out great!  Here is the link...

My changes:
I used about 4 shots of triple sec, and 6 shots of brandy, and I added a couple extra tablespoons of (raw) sugar.  I made sure to use organic citrus fruit, as not to poison myself with toxic peels (it's a double standard, since I'm sure my liver didn't appreciate all the extra liquor I added).  I added the ginger ale to my glass, not to the whole batch, so the mix was about 4 to 1, booze to ginger ale.  The truth is, if you add the extra sugar, the soda really is not necessary, but if you're a true lightweight, do half and half of the booze mix to ginger ale, and just leave out the extra sugar. 

Happy drinking!

Friday, January 11, 2013

bury me in tile

  Costa Rica has some of the happiest, least creepy looking grave yards I've ever seen.  This country boasts a plethora of gorgeous graveyards with well manicured grounds, beautiful pathways, and touching commemorations to the dead.  When I saw my first graveyard here, I thought it odd that many of the above ground graves would be covered in white tile.  I still am amazed at how shiny they manage to keep the tiles, and what a bright happy impression it gives the grave yard.  Each burial ground is like a park for the weary dead to prance around in their new weightless forms.  

  I think the contrast between graveyards in Costa Rica and the US (in materials, colors and upkeep) may reflect on each respective cultures' view on death and the dead.  Although many graveyards in the US are well kempt, they often have a feeling of loneliness and sorrow.  Perhaps it's the dreary grey concrete that adorns each grave, or the lack of flowers, or just the general lack of visitors to each burial site.  Rarely have I seen people visiting their dead in the corner of the US where I lived before, and I find that oddly sad and cultureless.  In Costa Rica the graveyards have a feeling of lightness and peace, probably an effect of the light and bright colors used for tombstones and crosses.  Walking through a costarican graveyard is a pleasant and peaceful experience, whereas many US graveyards tend to make pedestrians squeamish and uncomfortable. 

  When a pass by a graveyard in Costa Rica, I often see people visiting their dead relatives, bringing them flowers or stories of their children.  They respect their dead, and they respect their living relatives, perhaps leaps and bounds more than in the U.S. where career is king and family and relationships usually take second place.  I think I know where I don't want to be buried.