She's So Unusual

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Last weekend, I went to Taste of Athens with plans to fill my belly with lots of good eats for a good cause.  And I did.  The Pink Champagne Cake Bites at Silver Lining Cupcake Co. were beautifully delicious and the mint gimlet at Hotel Indigo's table was the most refreshing libation I've had lately.

And when I found my way to the silent auction, I found something else delectable I had to have.  I have never bid in an auction before, but when I saw this wire sculptured bust from Aurum Studios, I had to have it.  I ended up staked out beside it at as the auction closed with a wily gleam in my eye daring someone to outbid me.  I must have looked scary enough, because "Miranda" went home with me.  Although, my friend Nikki and I felt like her messy updo and dangling earring made her a ringer for Cyndi Lauper.

Stiletto Surrogate

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My twitter friend, Lauren, better known as @cubanalaf, recently fell and broke her leg.  Painful?  Yes.  An annoyance?  To be sure.  But for a fellow shoe-lover, there is a special poignancy in Lauren's confinement to...gasp...comfortable shoes.  So, LAF, this is for you.

Photo courtesy of Ivy Le

Color Me Obsessed

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm lucky enough to work with my musical soulmate.  When Rob Entsminger says, "Listen to this" followed by a link, I'm 99.7 percent sure I'm going to be smitten.  After catching The Civil Wars at Unplugged in the Park back in October, he messaged me the next day with the duo's video for "Poison & Wine", which I proceeded to listen to on repeat for the next three or four hours.  I hopped from video to video after that based on YouTube's handy recommendations of other performances. By the end of the day, I was a fan. 

The Civil Wars met through a quite literal eHarmony - a Nashville singer/songwriter service that matches collaborators.  Both John Paul White and Joy Williams tried to ditch the first meeting, but, lucky for us, neither had a bonafide excuse.  And when they met, they discovered an other-worldly connection as though they'd known each other a lifetime.

When I heard that The Civil Wars would be making a visit to Athens to play The Melting Point, I made plans to be there by corralling my good friend and features reporter Joe VanHoose into covering the show.  It came just a week after The Civil Wars' debut full-length album Barton Hollow soared to the top of the iTunes chart.

In concert, The Civil Wars are every bit as stripped down and haunting as they are on recordings.  There is no overwrought instrumentation or backup band.  Their performance is comprised of nothing more than White's collection of guitars, Williams's occasional stint at the piano, and the best instruments they've got - their perfectly matched voices.  People often mistake them for a married couple - and they are married, just not to each other - but the mistake is easy to understand once drawn into the intimate circle of their voices matching bravado and mixing low throaty notes and contrasting Williams's sweet, clear, rich voice with White's gravelly baritone.  And their performance is both musical and an embodiment of what they sing - alternately assuming impassioned lovers, the broken-hearted and sad longing.  Interspersed with ballads and lullabies were quiet jabs spoken to each other in jest and amazed delight by these newly minted superstars.  Their astonishment at hearing the audience sing along with them was genuine, and it's rare that you get to see a band that's on the first leg of their meteoric rise to fame.

There's a vintage quality to Barton Hollow.  The Civil Wars almost feel like two souls from that time period telling their stories through the plucked guitar strings and the haunting, melancholy voices of Williams and White.  You really believe the title track that no preacher man can save their souls - that wailing ache in their voices - and that the desperate plea in "Fallen" to know that love is over is in earnest.  And "Forget Me Not" is a plaintive duet that seems like it should be listened to over a grainy radio connection in the 1930s.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been listening to Barton Hollow nonstop since it arrived in my mailbox.  (Yes, I still buy real CDs.)  And if you're a friend who has music taste similar to mine at all, I've urged you to download their free live performance at Eddie's Attic from their MySpace page.  And if you live in a city where they're touring, I've sent you the link and instructed you to buy tickets.  So I thought it only fitting that I take my message to the masses and blog about my Civil War obsession.

If you're still on the fence, please note they do a killer cover of "Billie Jean" as an encore. What more could you possibly need to convince you?

Now We're Cooking

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roughly 70 days, at least 7 different contractors and 7 degrees of sanity lost, the kitchen is finished.  I mean, the renovation process is.  Let's not get overzealous.  There's still work to be done - heck, we might all die with the sugar residing in the spare bedroom.  But at least we have a functional, fashionable kitchen to call our very own.

Let us first go back to the way we were, nearly 30 years of history housed in cabinets and countertops and really amazing retro shelf paper.

Before -note the stylish but functional formica

Here we have the always lovely "peninsula"

The always fabulous "vent hood."

Although our time machine isn't presently operational, this has just about the same effect.
Shortly after these pictures were taken, the demolition began along with a stint of microwave meals and takeout.  And along the way, there were more than a few headaches.  Like the one cabinet that had to be ordered three times.  Or the backsplash that almost never happened. Or the floor gouging incident perpetrated by the backsplash guys that nearly made my sweet, even-mannered mother lose her religion and her temper.  But in the end, it all came together.  Behold!

And the angels sang...

Islands in the stream - that is what we have

Double ovens! More room for Mama Harp delicacies

It's all shiny and new!

Please note the backsplash. There was a lot of heartache in that backsplash...

Adventure Monkey: Universal Studios Florida

Saturday, February 5, 2011