Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Review: Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll by Ann and Nancy Wilson

My mom introduced me to the band Heart when I was a young.  I guess I could have been even been listening to their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, while still in the womb. It wouldn't surprise me since their music has made such an impression on me.I recall in the late 80's the Bad Animals album coming out and by that time, my mom had it on cassette tape.  I would borrow her tape and play the song "Alone" over and over on a boom box that I got for my birthday one year.  What a preteen could be contemplating while listening to that song, I always was the moody, pondering type. By the time cds came long, I added The Road Home album to my collection and of course, bought another copy of Dreamboat Annie so I could listen to Heart in the car. I loved the acoustic version of "These Dreams" in my twenties and found it inspirational when I sometimes felt down.

Kicking and Dreaming was another goal fulfilled for me as I work my way obsessively through all that has been produced by the Wilson sisters.  Yes, there are albums which I still don't own and songs which I still haven't heard. I will conquer them yet.  The storytelling felt intimate as chapters were divided between Ann and Nancy, both described their progression over the years. I felt like I was reading a diary of someone's intimate past.  Both so freely spoke about their upbringing, their relationships with friends, lovers, and each other.  I learned that the "Magic Man" was indeed a love interest of Ann Wilson, Michael Fischer, who she had a young, passionate relationship with while she wrote the songs for Dreamboat Annie.  And Nancy Wilson was in a relationship with Michael's brother, Roger, at the same time. Both dated the Fischer brothers for many years.  Later Nancy went on to marry the director, Cameron Crowe, whom she later divorced but also had twin sons with.  I can now tie together the influences Nancy had on one of my favorite film's he directed, Almost Famous. Lyrics were interwoven throughout the book, describing times in their lives because that's what they wrote about.  When the grunge scene hit in Seattle (where they are from), I learned that they not only had close friendships with bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains but heavy influence on who they became.  Grunge bands of the time treated them like Mother Hens.  Ann and Nancy now in their 60's are still writing music and doing what they love.  I really enjoyed this book and raced though it beginning to end.  Last year, Heart was in concert near my hometown and I was able to see the powerful sisters live.  I loved the concert and sang along with them to all the old songs.  Girls who rocked before it was common for girls to rock.  


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

To You (who might feel the way I do)

To You (who might feel the way that I do):

I struggle to sometimes relate to the rest of the world.

It has become such a frightening place these days. Tolerance and humility seem to have fall by the wayside for some and has resulted in violence and picking sides (sometimes just for the sake of being on a side).


They mean something to me. I try not to toss them around (although I sometimes mess up too, just ask my husband).

Some are afraid to say anything and others have already said too much.

Social media posts leave me feeling overwhelmed with disappointment at times. I can't stomach the news most days. And I duck and cover when someone speaks to me as though they already know how I feel about current events (as they do, of course).

I don't want to judge you for your religious beliefs, income level, political preference, sex, or race.

For I am not a judge.

I don't want to disrespect you, your culture, or your beliefs.

For I am not keen on disrespect.

I don't want to argue with you about right and wrong.

Because I know that we are all wrong to some degree, myself included.  We see life through a lens that is personal to us as individuals. We have had experiences, good and bad, that have swayed our opinions one way or another. We were born into a lifestyle that differs from each other. We have grown frustrated and tired, given up hope on some things and remain passionate about others. We have watched different channels, read different books, had different teachers, and walked a different path that has led us to where we stand today.

Life is an illusion that we create on our own personal journey.

And life is far more complicated than we would like it to be.  We live in a world that is full of shades of gray. How someone arrived at their current state is usually a far more tattered tale than we'd like to think. Patience is required to reach a depth of understanding. And even then, we will never truly understand.

I want to be able to have a conversation with you and share the time we talk and listen. And enter into that conversation with the intention of inhaling that which the other speaks. To let our words impress upon each other thoughts that we might not normally think.

Because I think we can learn from tattered tales, wrong thoughts, and conflicting views. I think we can speak and be heard, if we stop to listen too. I think we can share our illusion without disrespecting each other or making someone feel invalid for feeling the way that they do.

If we could just practice tolerance and humility.

I have no interest in impressing upon you anything more than to let you know, that if you feel  the way I do, then you are not alone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Record Obsessed - Record Stand Upcycle and Expanding Record Collection.

Growing up, my parents had a large record collection.  We often listened to records while cleaning the house on Saturday mornings. I can still recall the smell of Klean n' Shine ... (Remember Klean n' Shine when Florence Henderson (Brady Bunch) did those commercials long before she did the Wesson Oil commercials?) I remember my favorite record albums back then were Heart's Dreamboat Annie, Juice Newton, and the soundtrack to Grease.

The first larger gift I gave my husband back when we were dating was a record player.  He and I often talked about how much we missed the sound of records and thought it would be cool to own one again. I actually had previously owned a stereo system with a record player but it was stolen from my old house when it was burglarized along with several records.  The record player that I got him back then and that we still own now is a Crosley record player with a removable lid.  It isn't the greatest player but works.  I had decided around the same time, several years ago that I wanted to restore an old buffet that I bought at an antique mall.  We decided that it would make a great record stand because it has a door with tall shelving that is the perfect size to put records and allows them to stand up on end.

Over Labor Day weekend, I finally started my restore project. To be honest, my husband has been harping me about it for years and now that he has an arcade room in the basement, he wanted it out of there. The buffet itself was in great shape, the color was just not so appealing.  A light mustardy yellow paint that while very retro, didn't match my d├ęcor at all. 

I used Citri-Strip to remove the old finish.  I had never tried Criti-Strip before but it worked quite well.  It just took a plastic scraper to pull off the paint after letting it sit for a few hours.  I did have to go back across the buffet and strip it a second time but I let the chemicals do most of the work.  My husband sanded it for me to get it nice and even work out some nicks that were there prior.

To stain it, I used a staining gel.  I've stained things in the past with gel and always had great results so I didn't doubt my choice this time.  I definitely made the wrong choice. My furniture is all very dark so I chose a walnut color to match. The color itself was very nice but the number of layers it took to get it dark was a lot and the stain was so thick that it ran down the sides of the furniture.  It was definitely a pain to work with.  I think I ended up with 4 coats and still wasn't completely satisfied but in the end, gave up and went with what I had.  To be honest, unless you are right on top of it inspecting for flaws. it is hard to see the imperfections but believe me, there are plenty of them.  I also replaced the hardware with some more modern knobs that matched the stain. 

Over this last weekend, we moved it inside and put it in it's permanent home in our formal living room.  The record player has been relocated and we even tried it out on Saturday night while we played 90's Trivial Pursuit.  We will probably store board games in the drawers or maybe my old CD collection which has all been moved to flip books over the years. 

We have been working to add to our record collection in anticipation of the completed stand.  A store that we both love in a nearby town, Hastings, is going out of business.  We hit their closeout sale and got some records 50% off and others I ordered online.

My haul so far is: Lana Del Rey, Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine, and Pink Floyd - Roger Waters The Wall. I have a couple of others coming in the mail soon.  I definitely will be replacing my old favorites like Dreamboat Annie.  That's actually a pretty easy sell because I am pretty obsessed with the band Heart and have followed them for years.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

Set in the late 60's in Northern Caliform, The Girls by Emma Cline is the story of curious good-girl, Evie Boyd.  Always the trustworthy daughter, Evie had never been much of a rebellious kid.  In her fourteenth year, she itches for some excitement and finds herself fascinated by a group of wild, free-spirited girls she sees at a park.  After being ditched by her best friend, she befriends one of the wild girls, Suzanne, that introduces Evie to a new world filled with free love, drugs, and rock 'n roll.  Evie joins a new family that gives off a cult-like vibe and has ties with a famous musician who somehow funds their way of living.  Unfortunately her new family of friends isn't all about peace and love and as the story unfolds a crime is revealed that forever changes Evie for the rest of her life.

I really wanted to like this book.  I liked the writing style although it sometimes moved a little bit slow for me.  Some of the descriptions the author writes make you feel as though you are right there with Evie or at the very least can relate to her feelings.  What I found lacking was the plot.  I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters other than Evie and the motivations for their behaviors was sometimes vague or just left me feeling apathetic. The genre and setting are right up my alley which is what made me so frustrated with the book.  I wanted to LOVE the book, and in the end, it was just ok for me. I think Emma Cline has some great talent as a writer so I would definitely check her out again and hopes that maybe the next story has a plot that holds my interest more.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Labor Day Weekend and a Lisa Frank craft

Labor Day weekend has just passed and that meant a nice long 3-day weekend at my house.  My to-do list included some family time, a little work, a little work-work (my business), and a lot of relaxing and crafting. 

My sister's family came into town and we spent some time hanging out, eating, and visiting my grandmother.  I am currently addicted to a newish restaurant we have in Wichita called Georges French Bistro.  They have this salad, the most excellent Goat Cheese Steak salad.  It has steak, almonds, and these perfect little tomatoes on top of mixed greens with a buttermilk dressing...and a FRIED WHEEL OF GOAT CHEESE!  I have a goat cheese problem, see prior posts as evidence.  The cheese is easily broken up to spread across the salad but I always save a hunk of it just to savor on it's own.  Also, they have really great French Onion soup (hold the croutons for me).  So we ate there for lunch on Saturday and it was magical as always.  We also visited my grandma who had been under the weather recently but is on the road to recovery now.

I worked a little bit on a cross stitch project I have been leisurely working on for the last few weeks but grew bored of it so decided to do a mini-project just for fun.  As you all know, I am obsessed with Lisa Frank, perhaps even more obsessed than my former 12 year old self.  So I thought it would be fun to make some Lisa Frank shrinky dinks to either turn into magnets or charms for jewelry.  I used to actually sell this kind of stuff at craft fairs over 10 years ago.  I had some old shrink dink paper that had been sitting around on a shelf in my office so I found a Lisa Frank coloring page printable online (there are tons!) and went with a very 80's design -- a teddy bear ice cream sundae. I made it quite large as I was mostly just playing around so it will likely turn into a magnet that goes on my fridge.

 After you have the art you are going to trace, then just lay the shrinky dink paper rough side up and trace the design.  Once you are done, you can color it lightly and cut it out.  You bake them at 325 degrees (preheat the oven) for about 2 minutes and voila they are done.  I pulled mine out quickly so I could press it flat as they sometimes can be a bit lumpy. 

Here is the outcome.  I didn't do so great coloring in the art as I see misses all over it but they may have to do with the markers I used.  Next time, I will use my better quality markers that will do a better job of filling in the shapes. 

I also managed to start a project restoring a vintage buffet that I've had for years.  I'll save that for a separate post so I can show before and after photos and describe the process in more detail.