Monday, June 29, 2009

I wanna be a cowboy


and you can be my cowgirl...taken from the song "I Wanna Be a Cowboy" by Boy's Don't Cry

There are days where I wish I had the opportunity to have grown up on a ranch in Montana, have one of my best friends be a Native American, trying to stop the bootleggers from coming in, falling in love with my brothers wife, wait, I am recounting the movie "Legends of the Fall" here, but you get where I am coming from. There is something exotic about lifestyles that are foreign to us. City kids sometimes want to be country kids and vice versa. If you are fortunate, you get to experience both, all kids should.
I am not one who enjoys Westerns per se, though Giant, Unforgiven and the remake of 3:10 to Yuma are faves of mine, there is something inherently romantic about being a pioneer in the West. Barring the raping, pillaging, saloon brawls, and outlaws of course.
I think of people who are fortunate enough to know how to ride, rodeo, farm and raise cattle. I don't pretend this is an easy life. The United States, as a whole, hardly respects workers of the land. Farmers, ranchers, gardeners, are put here to serve the general public's mass consumption need and damn the regulations or the quality. This bothers me the most.
When did we lose sight of the fact that physical labor builds character? It builds character much more than sitting at a desk. (I already feel the tomatoes hitting my screen)
Yes, accountants, doctors, teachers, assistants, CEO's, bankers, etc are all vital jobs, but when did they get the seal of "cool" approval over mason, electrician, farmer, mechanic, carpenter? Why are white collar jobs considered more prestigious than someone who can actually build a house?
America thrives on competition, but we are sorely lacking in supplying the tools in the education department. The Economist recently put out an article about our school year and how it pales to our European and Asian counterparts. I think kids should go to school longer AND I think they should have mandatory shop classes. We should know how to change our own oil or plant a garden, regardless if we ever do it, the knowledge is power. We've become too dependent on others to do for us, when we should be able to handle some things ourselves. I am not saying don't hire help if you need it, but more along the lines of, think if you need help and if not, do it yourself.
Back to my dream. Maybe one day I can be a cowboy for a bit, but if not, I always wanted to learn how to surf. Maybe I can be a California Girl instead...

Cheers!
MissFiFi

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friends help you see better

I was fortunate enough to be taken to dinner by the fabulous Filomena of Pink Velvet Bird. We went for Indian, oh it was yummy yum yum!
Then we began to chat about how we both are a few classes short of our art degrees. (Graphic Design for Me, BFA in Photography for her)We were discussing if it was even worth finishing? Tuition costs are prohibitive in NJ, everywhere, but NJ state schools are even ridiculously high. Is it worth paying out and end up not getting paid? I am already doing that with my massage degree. It hit me while we chatting and I said to her, "I realize I cannot sit behind a computer anymore. I knit, massage, write, I went to a farm and helped out there. I prefer creating and doing something with my hands that does not require a cubicle and a time clock." This is the first time I have actually vocalized it and meant it. I have been searching in vain for jobs, applying for part time, full time, contract, you name it I applied. Colleges, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, etc. I also just realized this morning I contacted a local area hospital to volunteer and they never got back to me! I have to look at this and think, "Okay, life as you knew it 9 to 5 is no longer your life, move on, it is about to become more interesting." Which I welcome with open arms of course.
The good thing is that Filomena gets where I am coming from. Filomena and her Man of Steel, Thomas, bought a cabin up in New York State and are hoping to move there permanently in a few years. Being a multi-talented gal, she would be able to put one of her numerous skills to work for her. She can quilt, teach, get her photographs in a gallery and even work for Farm Sanctuary. Thomas can be a professor, he is extremely intelligent and an excellent yoga teacher, start an ashram, whatever.
It is always a pleasure to connect with someone who understands your passions and thoughts. From the silly rant about people who don't make certain things from scratch (dips are not hard people, work with me), gardening, the arts, love of alpacas and chickens and of course, understands your absolute loss of what to do with your life. Journeys are more fun with friends that is for sure.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thy Name is Natirar

While New Jersey may be the butt of most jokes, let folks keep thinking our state is a cesspool and looks like the turnpike, little do they know how pretty NJ really is, our parks system is pretty choice. With that being said, having moved to Somerset County, temporarily, I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with what you see above, the Natirar Estate. Natirar is Raritan backwards.
Apparently the "estate includes 22 buildings, many historic, six wells and three bridges, NJ Transit right-of-way and three streams, a pond, woodland. The 33,000 square-foot mansion itself, grand that it may be, is sedate and austere." Here is its whole history here.
People were set up by the streams painting, there was a cool bat house on one of the trees, the streams had mini-waterfalls, the air was clean and it was the first time, besides at the Biltmore, that I wished I was a legacy to such house and property.
The coolest thing is that Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group has leased approximately 90 acres and Natirar is being turned into a resort property. While I was walking the loop, you cannot get near the house, but it looms magisterially, there were tons of construction type vehicles going back and forth.
Here is more info I found on Wikipedia: The Virgin Spa at Natirar is advertised to be a 76 bedroomed retreat featuring two gourmet restaurants, a 225 seat ballroom, a 10-acre (40,000 m2) Organic Farm, Culinary Center, and a "truly superb" Virgin Spa. As of now, it is expected to open sometime in 2009.

Go and check it out. You can relax on a bench, bring a picnic lunch, paint, whatever. All I know is, I am applying for a job there as soon as I can ;-)

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, June 22, 2009

Writing

Had a fun yet, uneventful weekend. The one thing that did surprise me is the writing bender I went on Saturday afternoon. It started innocently enough, I think around 1pm or so and did not stop until 7pm. It was quite invigorating to be honest. Now I understand why writers are seen as intense people. Once that ball is rolling, it is very difficult to stop. I had to since we had to eat dinner.
The most interesting part of all this for me is the fact that I was so involved in it. It got to the point where I was giddily singing along to my "writing" cd, yes I have specific songs chosen for the work I am doing to help motivate me. It has been a few weeks since I had sat down and attempted to work on my beloved story "Retrospect" and this weekend it flowed easily. Yesterday I actually sat down, worked on it some more and then later that evening, got our pen and paper and began working on an idea I had outlined in 2003. I have been busy!
Certainly there will be an attempt to get this published, Lord only knows how ridiculously difficult that is going to be. I am still going to work on a few short stories and try getting them out there. I think that may be my best chance for breaking in and actually landing an agent at some point. I also need to get off my lazy ass and really look into submission guidelines literary magazines like Glimmer Train and read what they currently print. Who knows if I even write anything that would interest those types of forums.
Writers are portrayed as brooding, dark people who languish by their writing instrument for days, struggling with writers block and disdain for those who do not respect their art. I say "Phooey!" I am a loud mouthed broad who when she can't write, takes the hint, works on another story or walks away until I am ready again. This may not be the "proper" way to behave, but who says there are specific rules? I look at it this way, if this amounts to a semi-career for me, I would still have a regular job of sorts, if I can get one ever again, and set aside time to work on short stories and novellas, etc. Maybe I will be lucky and get to do it full time, maybe nothing will ever come of it, maybe a brief stint at it, who the hell knows? The worst thing would be for me to never try and then lamenting about it. I much rather get rejected then to never know.

"If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world." Mercedes Lackey

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Linkety Links

Loved this ad from the early 1940's so I had to post it.

I am off to meet with realtor at town hall to make sure our house has all the current permits. ACES! Home buying is f-u-n.
Luckily for all of you, I have come across a plethora of goodies I wanted to share so enjoy the bounty!

Ruffled Skirts Pattern: If I had a little girl I would be all over this
Lantern Bloom: MUST make a dress from these fabrics
Senya Akin Studio: My birthday is in July if you want to get me something ;-)
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quick Bread: made it last night and it is a hit in our maison
Shower Cap Tutorial: I may have to make one of these in the gaudiest fabric possible
Spinach and Ricotta Pie: I will be trying this very soon
Bayly: fun, interesting jewelry
1930's evening gown: GOOD LORD, if I could I would knit it
ArtbyMAR: this feeds my vintage fetish for sure
Past Perfect Vintage Clothing: I would display a lot of it as true art
Homesteading: Live off the grid when ya can!

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, June 15, 2009

Accentuate the Positive

Welcome to a better day.
Well, it is Monday and I have decided it is time to go full force in positive thinking mode. Of course this may wear off, but embrace it with me now please. I want to dedicate today's post to all things good. Enough of this pissy attitude, again, it will be back, but work with me, it is time to shine and recognize what I am fortunate to be surrounded by.

Living in a wealthy area is really not a bad thing. Some people begrudge the obnoxiously wealthy but I never have. These people keep all sorts of business moving along as well as charities. Sure I am sure some if them have a massage therapist and hairstylist on call, but I would too if I could and so would any of you. What I love most about living in a wealthy area is the fact that I can walk to the post office and there is no garbage on people's lawns, no dog poop to try and avoid. Such a pleasure from Belleville whose sidewalks had become an obstacle course.

My other favorite thing is the overwhelming scent of honeysuckle and wild roses. Walking down my street, I am bombarded by this daily and I am extremely grateful. Add birds and deer everywhere and for me, it is paradise. Sure it may wear off once the deer try to eat my Basil, but for now, I like them.

Our dog is much happier and is currently snoring next to me. The bliss on her face as she runs around chasing the ball and the neighbor's dog is too awesome. Of course now we need to get her a dog of her own because we cannot take neighbor's dog with us to house in Long Valley.

I cannot wait to get into our house in Long Valley, which is part of Washington Township in Morris County NJ. It is a cottage and it is the cheapest house on the block. All the others are modified and remodeled and stunning. Yes my friends, we have purchased the diamond in the rough. I cannot even imagine the labor of love/hate/war/insanity we are really embarking on. It is in just fine condition, but the bathrooms need refreshing (remodel) and paint needs to be used all upstairs, knotty pine you are going white!, but all in all, it is quite the charmer and it needs a garden too. Oh! we are determined to make it into an arts and craft since the cottage is from 1925. Don't fret, I will most likely document the whole thing on this blog.

Certainly there is much more for me to be happy about, my friends, my health, my wealth and the fact that we went to an estate sale in Mendham Township this weekend and got a complete dining room set with 8 chairs for $250.00 (SCORE!!!), but that is all for another time.

Enjoy these links to area real estate, my area that is, hahahahahahaha

$3,900, 000 - Mendham, NJ
$1,225,000 - Mendham, NJ
$5,499,000 Bernardsville, NJ
$499,000 - Bernardsville, NJ
$3,495,000 - Far Hills, NJ
$13,500,000 - Peapack, NJ
$1,925,000 - Tewksbury Township

Cheers!
Miss Fifi

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How does one combine their passions?

Martin Blank (Grosse Pointe Blank) -
"When I left, I joined the army, and when I took the service exam my psych profile fit a certain... moral flexibility would be the only way to describe it... and I was loaned out to a CIA-sponsored program, and we sort of found each other. That's how it works."

In a perfect world, I would be as stealth as Aeon Flux and as talented as Fiber Artist Extraordinaire Xenobia Bailey. Alas, the world is far from perfect and I, like most of us, are always climbing the mountain to the next adventure.
Ironically, I love to help the sick and dying and at the same time wished I was NCIS, SWAT, or anything that would allow me to carry a serious gun and do damage on those that prey on the weak.
Aeon Flux feeds my inner desire to be a contract killer/spook/hit man/angel of death, all the dark side of my own humanity. Her character encompasses all that is comical about the beauty of a woman who can kill you with her thong. I actually wish I was Peter Chung who created Aeon Flux, but if I can be the animated character, I will take it.
Xenobia can take yarn and have vision beyond a simple scarf or lace pattern. Her top here in this photo is drool worthy.
To be that talented and to have others covet your artistry and to want to hire you to produce works for museums, fashion, whatever. Xenobia is the bomb!

Wouldn't it be really cool to be able to combine both extremes? Contract killer/government spook by day, artist by night? Shoot a pedophile, crochet a chair. It would be all in a days work and a fulfilling one at that. This is a pipe dream and sort of twisted but it says a lot about who I am doesn't it? Caregiver, compassionate, wanting to beat someone with a bat and a taser for being a douchebag. I am certain we all have these sides to us battling it out, I am just more open about it. (I am sure the FBI has happily flagged me now too.) Why deny that I would mercilessly beat the person who burned a dog for fun? Same goes for someone who throws an infant around, I will take you out as you lost your right as a human being. Alas, this is not a perfect world and I cannot vigilante my way through it, even if I do knit fabulous hats.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Who Am I?

(Frederic Lord Leighton)

So, on such a rainy day I contemplate myself.

What is my destiny? Why can't I get hired for a job, even as a receptionist? Is going back to school the right path? Do I stay medical? Pursue art? Are any of these degrees even worth anything anymore? Should I embrace Stay At Home Wifehood? If so, should I dress like a vintage housewife and enjoy it more? With all the blogs out there on the matter, I am apparently in some pretty good company. Plus I do a lot of research on DIY projects for our house when we move in. Cannot wait to fix bathrooms, but that is another post altogether... What I hate most is the internal beating I give myself for not bringing in any money on a weekly basis.
Money.
It feeds the best and worst of us.
With it we feel free and unencumbered. Without it we feel like prisoners and unable to enjoy a myriad of pursuits.
Money.
Too much emphasis is placed on it and ruins all we have.
We have a budget in our house. We abide by it. We make the most of what we have, enjoy our lives and maybe, every now and then, regret that we cannot fly to London (this kills me, but luckily I have been) or Greece (this kills my husband, but hopefully in a few years we can go).
Factory workers who did the job for 35 years and then got let go without so much as a handshake feel like I do. Useless, uneducated, lost, angry, puzzled and even relieved. Multiple generations are in the same boat together. Trying to choose new career paths, finding out we really hated who we were or are, being thwarted daily due to the economy and picking ourselves up and starting over. When will companies learn to think differently when it comes to hires?? We all think out of the box, they stay they same with places even asking for typing tests and dictation!! Everyone has become topsy turvy and this brings me to "Who Am I?"
Should I be defined by what I do and what salary I bring home? Sadly, so much of the 1980's has continued into this century and has wreaked havoc with many of us. Jobs should not define us, but they do. Salaried should not make you more agreeable to some, but they do. No wonder so may of us have identity issues. Society is structured as succeed or fail, never as be happy and enjoy. No gray areas, only black and white and one must not be afraid to buck the system.
Perhaps who I am is someone who wants to follow her pursuits as she sees fit and not fear not bringing home $80,000 a year. I am not really sure who I am when it comes to job/career. I enjoy so many things in arts and medicine, but schooling is what it takes and schooling is not cheap at present time. Focusing on one discipline has never been my strong point so I need to figure that out as well. Maybe an apprenticeship is what I need, to help fuel passions I have, give me new skills and see if I really enjoy whatever it may be. The farm experience was an excellent one and extremely educational. I planted 4 Basil plants this weekend in pots. Not a huge feat, but I usually kill the poor plants this way. Currently they look robust and happy. Pesto for everyone!

Here are some goodies that peak my interest and are helping me on my journey:
I am in love with this personal project: My Year 1955
Mother Earth News
Michael's insights are always helpful and assuring: Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck
Once I get my sewing machine out of storage for the new house, I am going to challenge myself to make some of theses dresses: Sense and Sensibility Patterns
Little Homestead in the City
Wish I was an agent to option her love story for a screen play: The Pioneer Woman

There is so much that I read that is informative, enjoyable and funny as hell. I will try and get more up since they deserve an audience. Maybe that is one part of who I am, someone who gets these lovely stories and voices heard.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Sunday, June 7, 2009

One day, I shall make these desserts

(Sylvia Weinstock cakes)

I have only recently become a HUGE fan of baking. Mostly bread, scones, coffee cakes and quick breads, but I am baking nonetheless. I am seriously impressed with people who can bang out major pieces of art with a bundt pan and caramel.
In honor of this monumental path, my mother would be amazed and laughing her ass off if she was alive, I have decided to list some baking recipes I would really like to attempt at some point, but at the present time, I am more in awe of them. Have no fear though little ones, I will do it, because not having a Kitchen Aid Mixer won't hold me back! Take that Martha!!!

Flan de Queso - I used to hate flan until a pal's cousin made it. Apparently I always had poor renditions of it.

Madeleines - one of the greatest cookies ever created by a human being. Trust me.

Red Velvet Cake - as cake or cupcakes, I will eat it without hesitation.

Chocolate Cloud Cake - If I could eat this and look like Nigella Lawson, I would IV it into my system.

Knit Night Cupcakes - Adorable!!!

Lemon-Poppyseed Brioche - Sara, my friend who showed me how to garden, turned me onto the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day book. This recipe is something I want to try so I have it with my tea.

So that is what I have so far, let me know if there is something you have always wanted to try but haven't...yet ;-)

Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lights, Camera, Bad movie poster

For those of you who know me, I am a HUGE movie buff. I love all kinds of films, though the classics rate high. If a movie is mediocre like say, "A Perfect Murder" remake, I find beauty in the set design or costumes.
Recently I have been toying with going back to school to complete my art degree. This came about as I came across old works of mine and with older eyes I saw good art. Not necessarily brilliant, but the raw talent is there. On top of that, when we had our portfolio reviews way back when, my professor said, "I don't necessarily seeing you doing the work, but I see you as an Art Director." She was complementing my eye, of course, when you are in your late twenties, you do not always appreciate the guidance of wisdom, you want to do what you want.

So which is it? Nursing, Allied Health OR Art and pursue Art Director.

Sitting on this fence, I decided to check out trailers on HULU last night. I came across the very funny looking "Julie and Julia" , Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, pretty much a guaranteed good time and then, the movie poster.


WHAT THE HELL?? I would have failed a class project with this?!!! Who let this through? Your eyes immediately goes to "Do You Have What It Takes?" which looks like the name of the movie!! Typography wise the poster is boring and a nightmare. Nice job.
Contemplating how it could be better, I thought of the one line "Julia" utters which is "Never Apologize". Since this is a story about 2 women who find their true passion, wouldn't THAT have made sense? Could it not have been
Passion. Ambition. Butter.

Never Apologize

JULIE & JULIA

So my friends, I have realized , Hollywood needs me. Most ads for movies are tiresome and extremely recycled because Hollywood is a boring place where no one really makes an effort anymore. They need to understand people like to be enticed, not just by good dialogue and ideas, but by the art and advertisements. You run a business, run it right. Don't just rely on trailers to get folks into your films. Here are just 3 examples of posters that I think hit it on the mark. (you may need to click on them and make them larger) I have included links to the trailers as well.

PRECIOUS


Sherlock Holmes


9


Granted all the art is centered, BUT you need to convey the film, either purposefully or subtly, in the artwork and layout.
Julie and Julia, you get a big fat FAIL! from me.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rearranging, Montana and Security animals that can kick your ass

We are still getting settled into our apartment, putting things away and setting up furniture. Even though we are most likely moving by end of month or so, yes the inspection went well thank the baby Jesus, we still do not want to be surrounded by chaos.

I even got to bake scones tonight. Nothing better than baking and cooking with a gas oven. Pure heaven.

Living where we live now feeds the "country gal" in me. Growing up in a city and its surrounding urban suburbs was great, I loved it but now, I want a change. One thing I have always wanted was to own land in Montana. Like "Legends of the Fall" Montana. Of course, working land is not easy, but I have romanticized it as being this wide open space and me with my dogs and alpacas and other livestock. My husband embraces this insanity of mine, but only to a point. We have wanted to visit Glacier National Park because the pictures have are just breathtaking so I cannot imagine the effect it has on you in person. I am well aware that living there or anywhere is different than a vacation. The winters are brutal and it is, well, after all, Montana. We are pesco vegetarians, Montana is cattle country. You want a Nordstrom? Out of luck my dears. There is a Trader Joe's over an hour away north of Helena though! Plus with the Internet you want something, you got it. I know I will not be living there, but a girl can dream right??

To tie into this madness, I have always wanted Llamas or Alpacas or both. As a knitter this is a dream like no other, as a person who loves animals I have always found these 2 to be interesting as the Llama behaves like a watchdog.
They will trim your grass as they graze, but if a stranger approaches the property or if something or someone is threatening the alpacas, they will alert and protect. There is a terrific article in Mother Earth News about Natural Livestock Protection. Take a gander, it is extremely informative.

Cheers!
MissFifi