Lo & Behold crafter, writer, life-liver - page 2

The cheesiest

My husband is a great cook. Anyone that spends any amount of time having drinks and niblets out at a local restaurant or coming to one of our many low-key weekend potluck hangouts knows this fact. They also know that I do NOT cook, like, almost ever.

Since my other half is the better one where the kitchen is concerned, and like myself can be mildly competitive, I’ve been encouraging him to participate in some local cooking competitions. Last year he won People’s Choice for a local neighborhood chili competition but was irritated he didn’t get voted in by the judges.

The Cream Team at Quesoff 2013

photo courtesy of Austin Fusion Magazine

This year he signed us (me, his coworker Paul CZ, and himself) to compete in the 3rd Annual Quesoff at The Mohawk here in Austin as The Cream Team. We, with me serving as project and logistics manager, entered a spicy queso (named Baby’s On Fire) and a meaty queso (named Cheezy Hot Gutz) complete with homemade Texas hot gut-style sausage. There were home cooks and seasoned chefs competing… we didn’t expect to even place.

But alas, after weeks of queso preparation and research, The Cream Team was victorious! We won both the Meaty AND Overall awards! I heard mumblings of us winning the Spicy as well, but I guess they figured two awards to a gang of home cooks was enough to wound the pride of several of the other participants and take the proverbial queso crown.

The Cream Team takes best Meaty and Overall

WAY more people showed up than was expected and everyone ran out of queso very early. Several people hovered around our table, even during the most crowded times, to snag a taste of the rumored best queso. When we ran out, people scraped our crockpots with chips and spoons – it was THAT good.

I’m so proud of my hubs and his trusty cooking partner CZ. They put in the work and made some damn good queso! Here’s to hoping that more cooking competitions are in our future….

Quesoff 2013 Winners

PS – You DID notice that I made a homemade bunting banner, signs for each queso, and team hats right (couple photos here)?! I mean, that’s what I do. Brett cooks, I create, we rule.

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Turning to crayons for comfort

The last few weeks have been challenging. Nothing crazy happened and no one died, but there has been stress, money talks, career figuring, and more. My mind needs a break sometimes. Here are some things I’ve been loving during a week that really needs a bit more squishy love in it!

 

 

Giorgio Moroder Red Bull Select Sound SeriesGiorgio Moroder Sits Down for Lengthy Fireside Chat, Plays Influential Tracks
{see interview/music here}

This guy… this guy. He is a disco pioneer, general music genius, and lover of pop, slanky beats, and dance music. He’s produced and written huge hits for Donna Summer, collaborated with Daft Punk, and inspired a helluva lot of artists in the electro world today.

Ryan Heska artRyan Heska’s art
{see more at BoingBoing}

I am totally in love with Ryan Heska’s art. He has a couple of gallery showings coming up NOWHERE NEAR AUSTIN, so that’s cool. I’ve always loved pinups and artistic nudies, and these cards take that to an oddball extreme not unlike tattoo art.

Natural Wonders coloring bookHruby Sunset page

Indie Rock coloring bookBon Iver page in Indie Rock coloring book

Coloring in my modern coloring books
{like the Indie Rock or Natural Wonders coloring book}

I’ve been turning to my crayons for comfort these days. When my mind gets jumbly and emotions run high sometimes the best remedy is some couch time with my padded plastic rainbow TV tray (from 30 yrs ago), a coloring book out of my collection, and a big honkin’ box of Crayolas (and a cocktail!)

 

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This morning felt magical

This morning I kept waking up before my alarm went off. Every time my eyes would slit open I noticed the dark light coming through the curtains. The rain pit-patted on the pomegranate trees we planted a few months ago, trickled along the edge of the house. I struggled to turn over, I just got some inner arm tattoo work done, and snuggled my face into Brett’s back, my ankle thrown over his.

rainy day

Rain like this is rare in July. I wanted to stay inside in the bed with my pitbull softly snoring against my side, her soft lip stuck up on the side of my calf. Instead, I spoke out loud and broke the morning silence. If I hadn’t, could we have stayed in bed all day with sweaty backs and rustling sheets? Could we have watched endless movies, had tea in bed, forgotten that it was a Monday?

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Shoulda coulda woulda

I should be writing in my blog, but I’m not. Instead of keeping up this thing that I’ve known and loved for so long, I’ve let it fall to the wayside. Instead of joyfully blogging I’ve been:

  • Creating a new career website for my freelance writing and editing work
  • Stressing about my job, my freelance jobs, and my career future
  • Going home and (GASP!) reading my book, working on embroidery projects, or just watching a movie instead of working on something super productive

I’ve loved my free time. But now I’m ready to devote a little time to something else. I’ll be doing some freelance web and email marketing work for a local art studio that is opening my neighborhood (and may even be teaching some crafting classes!) in the coming months. And I’m hoping to start reeling in the freelance writing gigs with my new website, once I finally start promoting it.

scatter plot french knot

 

Things haven’t been super productive around the Spangler house thus far this year, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with a little free time, a little laziness, and a little room to think.

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Three decades and NOLA

I’m almost 30. So far, my impending age has caused no ill feelings but there are still 36 days until my day of 30. A lot can happen in 36 days.

Instead of focusing on my day of 30, I will be focusing on New Orleans—hubby is taking me for my birthday! Our good friends Kiki and Jamie will also be celebrating in Nawlins’ with us and I couldn’t be happier. Our little house is 10 blocks from the French Quarter and as cute as a button.

Maison Marais 1

Maison Marais 1

What does almost 30 mean to me? Newly sprouted white gray hairs, a more comfortable body, enjoying being at home more than at the bar, an increased longing to spend those precious moments with close friends and family, enjoying making things for people I care about without the stress of having to market and sell them, the completion of my technical writing certification schooling, the beginning of a more active me.

30 or not… I have a feeling this year is going to be puh-retty rad. It’s 2013 and 13 happens to be our magic number. We got married on a Friday, March 13th! My only advice for myself, when I look back upon this post, is to spend more time in the now. That’s it… just be present.

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Feliz handmade event

Man, Austin is a creative town. We’ve got artists coming out of the wazoo, musicians crooning on street corners and rocking out bars, and local patrons frequenting some of the raddest small business and shops around. One of my most favoritest and most talented Texans (via Portland), Abby Powell Thompson, is collaborating with Austin creative Natalie Davis to put on Feliz, a truly unique handmade event happening soon!

There will be a handmade sale (featuring maker gonzos Shanna Murray, Son of a Sailor, Canoe, fail, Folk Fibers, Krank Press, Leah Duncan, Paloma’s Nest, Stone & Honey and more), workshops—full list below—and parties galore. Feliz is coming up soon! So nab a workshop, shop the holiday sale and peruse some of the finest goods this town (and beyond) as to offer.

FELIZ (psst… check out their Pinterest page)
http://felizsale.com/
November 2nd-4th

Fri 2nd, 6-8pm
Meet & Greet party at West Elm
Details here.

Sat 3rd, all day
Workshops at Casa De Luz
Details here.

Sun 4th, 12pm-6pm
Feliz Holiday Sale at The Palm Door
Details here.

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I’m a writer.

I’ve been diving back into the blogging/writing world these days. As the end of my technical writing certification program draws near I’m trying to turn what I do towards the internet, blogging, writing, and editing. I’ll ALWAYS be a blogger… I like to ramble and emote and post pretty pictures of things too much to give that title away. But as I plan towards my future, and my family’s future, I crave security and flexibility (of the freelance writing career I will hopefully build for myself). THUS, I will now start calling myself a writer.

“Oh, I’m a writer. Technical, editorial, how-to, blogging, marketing and the web. “- Me, somewhere sometime soon telling someone what I do

I’ve always labeled myself as a creative, whether that be in reference to my writing experience, crafting experience or general personality. I’m pushing 30 now and my hankering to organize every life detail into a handy to-do list may have proven otherwise… I’m organized, structured, and detail-oriented. So perhaps I’m not as much a proclaimed creative as I’d like to be, but I’m definitely a fantastically efficient mish-mash of zany + logical.

bi-weekly Farmhouse CSA delivery

What blogging and writing have I done you say? You certainly haven’t seen any here on my blog, I’ve deserted it off and on for quite a while now. I’ve been doing some food writing for The Homegrown Revival, some blogging for Feliz (it’s going to be spectacular!), some DIY writing and some technical writing. I’m widening my breadth of knowledge and technical capability in the HOPES that I will be a bad-ass one woman writerly show.

Shameless self promotion alert (portfolio buildin’): If you know of any opportunities for technical writing (user guides, manuals, proposals, white papers, how-tos etc.), crafty/artsy writing, blogging, newsletter design etc. please hit me up! I need to whip a portfolio into shape.

new succulent from the Mueller Farmer's Market

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Big words

“Whatever you are curious about, whatever delights you and brings you joy is precisely what will take you on the path towards your deepest dreams. You don’t need to connect the dots or even understand it. In fact, it might be better if you don’t. Just do it for the joy of it.

And know that nothing, absolutely nothing you’ve ever done is wasted.” - via SuperheroJournal.com “The Lost Art of the Friendly Letter”

Some words that made a lot of sense to me. Some words I think you should carry around in your pocket today.

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Time to ‘unplug’

My hubby works so hard. He caters to my every need (or a lot of them anyway), he holds down an important job at work, babies our pets and manages to cook a from scratch dinner almost every night. BUT, this guy has a hard time unplugging. He’s strapped to his desk/computer/phone so much that it’s hard for him to ‘unplug’.

A couple of weeks ago, I didn’t give him a choice… I took him to a lake house with no internet connection (gasp!). I invited six of our closest Austin friends and their pups to a lovely lake house on the Llano River that fed right into Lake LBJ. Relaxing doesn’t begin to describe it. Sandy beach, sloping mountains in the backdrop, shallow water for swimming and floating and even a rock cliff to jump off of!

We made tasty meals, drank and DRANK and drank some more, took the dogs down to the water to swim and fetch tennis balls from waaaayy out. It was just great. He unplugged and we all enjoyed each other’s company for two nights. Divine! Sometimes, it really helps to create that awesome place for yourself and yours, if only for a weekend. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Absofreakinglutely.

Most pics are from the hubby’s Flickr, but a few are from mine.

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Lazy bones

This weekend I didn’t do much of anything.

Okay, I lied. I did some homework, ate a load of delicious homemade eggplant parmesan and alfredo fusilli, folded a bunch of clothes, did all the dishes, painted my nails, watched a lot of TV, went swim suit shopping, hit some yard sales and walked the dogs. There was NO volunteering, NO freelancing, NO busy work. It was free Shrie time. I was totally and undeniably lazy (for me) and I loved every second of it.

I think I may need more weekends like that, now that you mention it….

the cheesy homemade nemesis

yard sale haul

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Whoa, slow down there

A few things have come to my attention recently that have all led to a realization that maybe my being super busy and productive isn’t the best way to go about life. I’ve always had this feeling (and it’s gotten stronger the older I get) that you should jump into things you do with both feet, hard-charging and ready to kick it’s ass. And I really believe that life rule… but I think a teensy part that I may have overlooked is that being busy may just be an unhealthy mechanism we force upon ourselves.

A couple of Facebook friends posted a link to this NY Times article “The Busy Trap”. I read it all the way through, each paragraph increasingly describing me, my life. This quote kind of hit home for me:

“They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”

And this one:

“Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work.”

Like a ton of bricks. REALIZATION! Hello! Doing all of these awesome things that I’m doing may NOT be better for me. Because really, life is so damn short, just so short. Yes, volunteering is good. And doing freelance work to bone up my experience and resume is good too. But I also work full-time, go to school half-time and try to fit in all the home/family/house stuff I can without freaking out.

Am I giving all I have to any one of these things? Is my stress taking a toll on our family life? I’m just thinking out loud here, but maybe these are questions you should ask yourself as well. How present are we? How able to really do ONE thing well are we?

I recently shut my Etsy shop down, maybe not forever but for a while, after years of halfheartedly managing my shop and attempting to sell things. Shutting down the shop felt SOOOOO good, freeing even. It’s not that I don’t LOVE to make and sell things, that’s not it. It’s just that I never really found my focus, I never was able to make any money (and in turn never felt good enough to do it) and I was guilt tripping myself about my inability to succeed. GUILT-TRIPPING myself. People, this is a common theme.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve slowly worked on an embroidery piece for my hubs’ and my house. It took forever and no one paid me to do it, but it was oh so gratifying. I ENJOYED it, and I didn’t have to worry about listing it, trying to sell it and shipping it. In fact, I loved making it just for us. So the point of this overly long and drawn out (I’m totally long-winded when I get to writing) post? I’m re-assessing. I’m QUITTING things, that’s right quitting. But in this case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I’m gonna embrace it.

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Living the dream

Confession: I get stressed (doesn’t everybody?!). I worry A LOT, I hold on to things that don’t mean anything at all. I try to stay so organized, so on top of things, so “with it”. And I’m buuussssyy. I work, go to school, volunteer, write on here sometimes, blog and manage the social media freelance style for a local biz and until recently, sold handmade items on Etsy.

I always thought, when I get that life I’m gonna love it. When I start living my dream, I’m going to dive in and appreciate it 100%. When my life starts resembling what I’ve dreamt about for so long, I’m going to relish it. But I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I have been living my dream for quite a while now.

I remember when I interned at Sub Pop Records, right out of college and a fresh transplant to Seattle from Texas. I thought everyone that worked there was so cool. They had cool tattoos, cool boyfriends/girlfriends, cool bands, cool jobs and cool friends. I wondered if I would ever be that cool. Now that I have an intern at work, I wonder… does he think I’m that cool? AM I that cool? Whoa. Maybe I am!

I stress so much about making things rad, being the best I can be, working hard… even (if you can believe it) having fun, that I lose sight of reality. The glaring awesomeness that is my life somehow has totally slipped under my radar for years. While doing the dishes one morning this weekend I came to this realization. Let me illustrate for you how cool my life is right now (written with total and utter non-sarcasm).

  • I work in the music industry, for a local ticketing company
  • My husband works for Electronic Arts, a video game company (Psstt… I’m married to a guy that loves me!)
  • We just bought a lil Atomic Ranch style house in an up and coming neighborhood in one of the best cities in the US
  • We have four awesome pets (okay, well… they’re pains in the asses but we love the STUFF out of them)
  • We have lovely devoted friends who: screen print for a living, make jewelry, work with autistic kids, do awesome metal-smithing and welding, perform burlesque for fun, invite us to VEGAAAS, move to Thailand without a job purely for the adventure etc
  • We live near my amazing family and have their support in everything we do
  • We lived in Seattle for five years, where I learned so much about myself and about life
  • We have enough expendable income that we can eat fancy dinners on occasion, drink champagne for no reason and donate money to our local no-kill rescue organization
  • I’m going to school to learn to become an amazing technical writer, and I don’t have that much longer left!
  • My husband is a STELLAR cook (and no this is not an understatement) and calls me sweet baby princess almost all the time

There’s more, but I’ll spare you. Pretty cool life right now huh? And to think that I couldn’t even see it from where I was sitting (in the freaked out/over-committed section). File me in the under-appreciative, and lost-in-the-details drawer.

But it’s turning around now, everyday I’m going to work on realizing the lot of all this greatness. I won’t remember everyday, and I’ll probably still stress about tons of stuff and suck at being a friend sometimes and make myself sick with worry sometimes. But I’m going to try… and this realization, this trying, this working is a HUGE step for me.

On to LIFE and living and love and appreciating and working towards a goal and being the person you always wanted to be.

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New curtains and pretty plants

I’ve been meaning to make new curtains for our large front window for some time. The sheer ones that were there previously had been left by the people we bought the house from and just weren’t our style. And of course, I cannot allow myself to ever buy curtains because A) they’re usually not that cute and B) I can make them, so why wouldn’t I?

Well, our little pitty Iris made the decision for me last week. We came home to one of the curtains hanging in shreds. She had grabbed a corner of the curtain and shredded it… while still in her dog crate. She’s an industrious one. So I hoofed it to my fave local fabric store, Stitchlab, and nabbed some slightly mid-century style geometric fabric for the curtains. It literally took me one whole Sunday to make those damn things. Working with 11 yards of fabric that needs to be cut, ironed, pinned and sewn is no easy task. Pardon the iPhone photo… but aren’t they cute?!

During that uber-productive weekend we also repotted some plants and got a few new ones. Hoping they all survive. Our crazy big tomato plants aren’t looking so good :(…

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Pegboard jewelry organization

I FINALLY got the DIY pegboard jewelry organizer up in the house. Brett helped me construct it weeks ago and it’s been sitting in the laundry room collected dust ever since. Our weekends are bananas!

Last weekend I finally had time to paint the bad boy, and yesterday after a quick family trip for Memorial Day Weekend Brett helped me mount it up. I spent about an hour arranging everything on the board and making sure it was in good usable shape… I think it’s a DIY success!

My inspiration was Martha Stewart’s pegboard DIY. First, we attached four 2″x2″ boards to all four sides of the pegboard in the back. Then I lightly sanded the whole front surface and painted it with *two coats on the front and on the sides (don’t want the wood color to be visible from the side!). Then we measured and mounted the board via two long screws on the wall, simple placing the pegboard frame on the back onto the two protruding screws.

*I painted it the same color as our wall, a light gray color. I wanted the jewelry to stand out, not the pegboard.

Voila! An easy and super-organized jewelry organizer. I now realize how much room I have left to fill… I think I need some more jewelry.

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Denver, ho

I love Denver. The affair started in college when five friends and I decided to rent a van and gallivant across the Texas desert panhandle and up into the mountainous state for a bit of vacation. We camped, ate, drank, adventured. We all slept in the same bed, and played dominoes at nightfall.

Fast forward a few years… my best friend Jamie and her wee family live there. Through the course of moving from Denton to Seattle and then back to Texas in Austin I’ve visited Denver probably eight or so times. Sometimes accompanied by a friend, or with my Mom like this time, and sometimes alone. The focus is always on my seeing my best friend, and now spending time with her almost two year old. Even though we may be far and wide, spread apart by miles of geography, I have always longed to be a part of her little family circle. So, I attempt to make it so.

There is just something about that cool air, the evergreen scent, climbing rocks and ascending roads that burrow through tunnels. The city is laidback and lovely, bursting at the seams with creativity and culture and bounded by a wild nature I was excited to show my Mom. My weekend in (short) review:

Shopping with my non-niece, Jasmine Ruth

Fell in love with a shop, SEWN

Watched Jasmine cringe in fear as goats, a donkey, an Alpaca and a mini pig bombarded her at the Cinco De Mayo Fest petting zoo

Played a little frisbee

Posed for portraits

Hunted for smooth river rocks with Mom

Soaked up a little peace

Breathed deep

Made Mom take pictures with me

Took in the view from Lookout Mountain

Smiled...

See the whole photo set on my Flickr page.

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Bluebonnets and Blue Bell

I REALLY get into bluebonnet hunting. Here in Texas, the arrival of the bluebonnets along our highways and country roads are much anticipated. They signal wonderful weather (for about a month) and showcase the rolling prairie hills and rocky cacti-speckled landscape. Last year the bluebonnets were less than spectacular, largely due to the insane drought we’ve been experiencing, but this year… OH THIS year… they have been just stunning.

A couple of weeks ago the hubs, the dogs and I set out on a driving day trip from Austin to Brenham, on the hunt for those elusive bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. We found them! And took gads of ridiculous pictures of the dogs posing in the roadside flowers. The scenery was wonderful, the air smelled grassy and flowery like a typical Texas spring day. With windows down and dog tongues slobbering half way out of mouths, we made our way in the ole FJ up to…

… the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory! I love ice cream, and as a kid growing up in the lone star state you eat a LOT of Blue Bell. I taste tested some cookies ‘n cream and rocky road, we took a couple of pics and then we were off on the road back home.

We don’t have kids, we have dogs. And the whole bluebonnet-picture-taking thing reminds me of when I was a kid. My mom might spot an especially good bluebonnet patch on the side of the road and before you know it, the car was careening towards the shoulder for a quick park and photo shoot.

Aahhh. Texas in the spring.

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Impromptu BBQ

On the weekends the Spangler household can usually be found filled to the brim with yummy home-cooked food, scads of close friends and a bevy of potluck dishes sitting all lined up in a row on our long kitchen bar. We are the potluck household, and more often than not our weekends are spent in preparation of/enjoying/cleaning up a BBQ, themed potluck or snacky get-together.

awaiting BBQ friends

Brett loves to cook, and to entertain, and I… well, I just like to eat and hang out. So when Wednesday rolls around and we start contemplating our weekend plans, inviting friends over for food, merriment and booze is usually in the cards. Last Friday we had some dear friends of ours and their two adorable littles over for an evening of pot pie and wine (they brought dessert!). If you only make one pot pie in your life, use this Ad Hoc recipe. You can thank me later.

Ad Hoc pot pies

This past weekend, since Brett just got his new Weber Smokey Mountain smoker (the super expensive smoker he bought has never worked right and has caused him a whole lotta grief, but that’s another story…) he was itching to try it out. Our maiden smoker voyage was a might tasty brisket! Brett also made deviled duck eggs, vegetarian baked beans and a pink lemonade icebox pie. YUM. About eight of our amigos came over with their potluck goodness, including: roasted cauliflower, vegan chocolate cake with peanut butter icing, fresh corn and zucchinni salad, sliced watermelon and German potato salad.

Weber Smokey Mountain

smoke rings in the brisket

After the BBQ madness, on Sunday I took Clem for a long walk along the lake on a sunny mid-80s day here in Austin. It was gorgeous, and a great mother-son field trip away from the house. We let Dad stay home and mow the front yard (with Iris enthusiastically looking on from the front porch). And then I promptly tripped and fell taking the trash out when I got home and sprained my ankle. </weekendfun> At least I ate good food and drank nice booze eh?

Clem dog

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