Sunday, November 29, 2009

SYYCD Season 6!

So the Top 10 dancers were picked this week on Season 6 of So You Think You Can Dance. I am not completely invested in anyone yet, though I do definitely have some favorites. I think it is just too close to last season since we didn't have to wait a whole year this time, and Jeanine and Kayla and Brandon and Jason and the rest of the Season 5 bunch are all still fresh in my mind. That being said, I am hopeful about several people and there have already been some amazing dance routines. (For me, so far, there has only been one dismissal by the judges that I definitely did NOT agree with, which was Channing.) This week is the official Top 10 week when things will start to get really serious. Top 10 is a big deal for these reasons: 1- They are the ones who get to go on the tour at the end; 2- They will start switching around partners and so if someone was being carried by their partner that will really show, particularly since the voting will become for individuals instead of for partnerships; 4- It means there are only four weeks left until the Finale.

Here are the Top 10:

Guys: Jakob, Russell, Legacy, Ryan, Nathan

Girls: Kathryn, Ellenore, Ashleigh, Noelle, Mollee

The Finale is the last 4 standing, and though I don't have an official Finale prediction at this point, the 4 dancers that I am currently most rooting for are Jakob & Russell of the guys and Kathryn & Ellenore of the girls. The only people left that I really DON'T want to see in the Finale though are Nathan & Mollee, cause they are sweet and all, but I am over it. Here are my favorite routines that have happened this season so far, from the Top 20 down- they are my favorite for various reasons all leading to this: I would want to watch them again. (Now this may seem like a lot of favorites, but mind you its only 17 of the 52 or so dances we have seen in the last 5 weeks):

Top 20 Group- Jazz

Kathryn & Legacy- Hip Hop (Top 20 Week)

Ellenore & Ryan- Argentine Tango (Top 18 Week)

Kathryn & Legacy- Contemporary (Top 18 Week)

Ashleigh & Jakob- Pop Jazz (Top 16 Week)

Channing & Victor- Contemporary (Top 16 Week)

Noelle & Russell- Afro Jazz (Top 16 Week)

Ashleigh & Jakob- Hip Hop (Top 14 Week)

Channing & Victor- Jazz (Top 14 Week)

Ellenore & Ryan- Contemporary (Top 14 Week)

Kathryn & Legacy- Paso Doble (Top 14 Week)

Ashleigh & Jakob- Lyrical Jazz (Top 12 Week)

Kathryn & Legacy- Jazz (Top 12 Week)

Ellenore & Ryan- Broadway (Top 12 Week)

Ashleigh & Jakob- Cha Cha (Top 12 Week)

Kathryn & Legacy- Viennese Waltz (Top 12)

Noelle & Russell- Contemporary (Top 12)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preparing for the iPhone

So I have been truly out-geeking myself lately. Here's how. At first when it came out, I had several legitimate reasons to not jump on the i-Phone bandwagon:

#1- They were only 8gigs at the biggest and what is the point of having your iPod be your phone as well if it isn't as big as your iPod?
#2- My brothers joined my Verizon family plan when my parents went to South Africa for the Mission and I didn't want to mess them up.
#3- I love Verizon and most of the people I call/text the most are on it, so I don't love the idea of switching to AT&T.

The only one of these issues that really remains at this point is #3, and even that is slightly up in the air. The largest capacity iPhones are now 32gigs and I am sure they will only be getting bigger. As for the family plan thing, my brother Logan got his own family plan when he got married this past June, and my brother Parker will probably go back on with my parents when they get home this coming June. This all happens to be perfect timing, because July 15th is when my Verizon contract is up.

What I have done to prepare for the iPhone (even though I won't be getting it for at least another five months):

1- Picked out the cover I want- this one from Ultra-Case; it comes in four lovely colors, but I think I like this best (to match my red computer, two red external hard drives & my red headphones, you know. There is a theme going on here):

2- I don't carry around a physical calendar because I have Internet available to me most of the time and I set reminders on my phone for important stuff, and the calendar that I have been using is an application on Facebook called 30 Boxes and I have really loved it. In the last couple of weeks, however, I have transferred all of my 30 Boxes calendar information (and mind you this includes recurring and day-to-day events clear through this coming July) to my Google Calendar. Why did I do this? Oh, because you can sync your Google Calendar to your iPhone.

3- As I have mentioned before, I make my own ringtones for my cell phone. I like to be able to set people to specific ringers, I use my phone as my alarm clock, and I like to text funny clips to people. With an iPhone you would assume that since you have all of your music on there you would be able to set people's ringtones to songs from your playlists. Unfortunately, not so. However, there is a way, albeit slightly tedious, to edit your songs into an iPod ringtone accessible format. Here is the simplest tutorial I have found on that, if you are interested. (As in, not the majority of people who actually read this blog, since you rely on me for your ringtone needs ;) The process is a little quicker for me at this point because I already have the songs I want to use cut down to the correct length. The last couple of days, though, I have been switching them over to the proper M4R format and organizing them and saving them into a file in my iTunes.

4- Trying to get others in my family on board. So I am still not thrilled about the idea of switching to AT&T from Verizon. I have always been with Verizon and I have loved it- great coverage- I never drop calls. Apple's exclusive contract with AT&T is up this coming year and so there are a lot of rumors swirling that they may not re-sign with them and that they may allow the iPhone to be open to all carriers (which would be a lucrative thing for them to do, unless AT&T offers them a dollar amount that they can't refuse to keep them exclusive). It would be absolutely ideal if the iPhone came to Verizon, but if there is no official sign of that actually really happening by July, I think it is worth it to me to switch to AT&T just for the iPhone. In talking to my folks, my Dad is sort of thinking iPhone when he gets back, so if several of my most-frequently-called people are going to be on AT&T too, then that will make it more convenient for me. (Please go to Verizon!)

My iTunes and music/video files are already immaculately organized, so it doesn't hurt to have everything else prepared in advance as well, right? Am I completely neurotic? Am I the absolute biggest geek of your life? Sigh. I'm okay with it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Confessions of a Leather-holic

I love leather. LOVE it. Leather belts, leather jackets, leather boots. I mean, just like any other normal, healthy woman, I never feel that I have enough apparel, but unlike some who always need new shoes or crave designer handbags, I am very particular about leather, and it is by far my most expensive material splurge. I don't do this often, of course. I get an item of leather probably once every two years, because it IS a pricey splurge, and because it has to be the perfect item. I'm not talking about wanting to be decked out in a leather bandanna and leather chaps with fringe or anything, but not much makes me feel as cool and confident as when I am wearing a hot pair of leather boots and the rubbing/crinkly sound that my leather jacket makes when I move. I love the smell, the supple texture and the weight of it. Hopefully I'm not offending anyone and some angry person isn't going to hate me and stalk me and douse me in red paint or something. I'm not heartless and I really do love animals, but, mmmmm, leather. (I would never wear fur and I don't go for exotic, endangered animal leather, if that helps (please let it help ;) )

I like the look of distressed leather the best, and for jackets I like mock collars. I have two leather jackets, one brown and one black. It took me ages to find them both, and ironically they were both from the Gap, which is not generally one of my favorite places, but is worth browsing once in a while for hidden gems. I had always wanted a great leather jacket, but I wasn't going to spend the money unless I found one that was perfect. It may be a surprise to some, but I actually can be patient on occasion. You can't/shouldn't impulse buy when it comes to leather. Even in the famed leather market in Florence, Italy I couldn't find the jacket I wanted. (Though I did purchase a wonderful leather messenger bag). Then one day, I was lazily browsing through the Gap, (it was going through one of its all-too-infrequent cool seasons) and there it was. The perfect brown leather jacket. I wish I had a Gap shot of this instead of just a personal photo, but here his is it:

It was a couple of years after this, after searching and searching for the perfect black one, that I got a text from my lovely friend (and roommate at the time)Janelle, who knew what I was looking for, that said something elusive yet decisive like, the Gap has your black leather jacket. What an amazing friend (also, maybe I am just really annoying and raved about the details of the yet-to-be-discovered item all too often) because I went in and at the first glance I knew that she was right. Perfect. Had to be mine. SUCH a satisfying feeling. This is it:

I would really like to get a bomber style leather jacket at some point in my life as well, possibly with a hood. Anyway, back on track, this whole spiel came about because I just purchased a beautiful new pair of leather boots. These leather boots:

Heaven. I already have some tall dressier leather boots in both brown and black that I love, but I have been wanting some mid-calf, more casual motorcycle style boots for months. The ones I have really been pining for are from Frye which is my favorite leather boot brand, but they are really pricey so I have been holding off and holding off and then I unexpectedly found these ones at American Eagle of all places for a third the price (plus I had a $50 gift card because I returned some stuff last Spring and it was maybe later than thirty days so I got a gift card instead of my money back ... so I ended up paying like $40 instead of the $250 or so the Frye ones would have been.) These are the ones from Frye:

Don't look a ton different, right? I am contradicting myself a little bit here because there are definitely a few differences in quality and sturdiness, but for how long I have been wanting them and for how much cheaper they were... I was okay with not absolute perfection ;) The important thing is that they are still 100% leather and they match the style I wanted. I'm sort of a snob about the 100% leather thing. If you are going to get leather boots, get leather boots. Just my feelings on the matter- I like authenticity. Not only are these beautiful, but they are also comfortable. My other black boots are heeled and fabulous, but I couldn't, say, spend a day comfortably strolling around the city in them. These I can. When my eyes first clamped onto this motorcycle style it was love, and who am I to stand in the way of love?

This love of leather extends to furniture as well. One day when I can afford it, I am buying leather furniture from Restoration Hardware:

This couch is amazing- its gooshy and supple and soooooo deep. This picture doesn't even do justice to how deep it is. It could be my bed. Basically when I sit on it with my bum to the back cushions, my feet don't touch the ground. Now I am perfectly aware that I am slightly below average in the height department, but still.

This is the all time perfect reading chair. It's deep like the couch, and it has a really curvy head rest. I could sit in this chair for hours. Leather is just so cozy and earthy and homey to me.

They even have a leather dresser and a leather bed! Now I probably don't need those, but they're still pretty cool. I definitely need the couch and chair though. Not want. Need. My ultimate future happiness requires it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My New Apartment!

Whew! Okay, so, It's been a few weeks of getting everything organized, but we finally have everything (pretty much) situated in my new apartment! In case you didn't know of this development, I had been wanting to move for several months now. I was sick of the commute to work and thought it would be fun to be downtown anyway, and I had just been in the Holladay area for too long. So then in early September I randomly hung out with Anna and Ashlee, two of my best friends from high school who I hadn't seen in years, and discovered that Ashlee's lease was up the end of October and she was wanting to be downtown. Perfect.

We scoured the Avenues and Capitol Hill area for a couple of weeks and were getting pretty frustrated and then we found Park Capitol. Normally these apartments would have been a little too much, but we were able to sign a lease for like, $200 a month less than it usually is because a bunch of people had moved out all at once to buy houses. Its 2-bed, 2-bath, remodeled kitchen, hardwood floors, has a fire place... its not like its ginormous, but its perfect for just the two of us. Also, it is just behind the Conference Center, so its an eight minute walk to work for me. Awesome. We had to make a deal since there was a master bedroom, so Ashlee gets that and I get the covered parking spot (she has to find street parking). I am totally okay with that, 1- because Ash is a musician and has her guitar and keyboard and needs the room and 2- because Ashlee doesn't have front room furniture but I do, so stuff I would have normally tried to cram into my bedroom, like my big beautiful bookshelves, can be out in the sitting area and we aren't fighting over the space for our stuff and 3- ummm, I haven't had covered parking for a while and I'm thrilled about that. Have you BEEN is Salt Lake in the winter?! Anyway, so that's the down low and here's some pics:

Oh, hello, and welcome.

I adore our cozy front room.

Aaaaah, my beautiful coat rack/umbrella stand that I love so and stained to match . . .

. . . My beautiful bookshelves that I love even more. Especially with my beautiful hardcovers filling them up. Beautiful ;)

My cute vintage magazine rack by the couch (a couch that I love and has been in the family for years and years- it is so worn and needs to be recovered) ... and I need to get something to put between the coat rack and the bookshelves. I stuck a couple side tables there just to have a place to stick them, but I would like to find a storage bench or chest to put there and keep quilts in. Right now our extra blankets are just stuffed into the bottom row of the bookshelves.

My beautiful 42' flat screen that I splurged on. It was just time. We still need to find a painting to stick over the fireplace- we debated mounting the TV, but its drywall and I think it would have been more of a hassle than anything since it fits perfect in the counter space. Mmmmmm, fireplace.

Our lovely remodeled kitchen- where I am standing is where we have our humble little kitchen table... with no chairs yet, so you don't get a picture of that.

My bathroom. It is so nice to have our own, and even though mine is smaller I kind of love that I have a shower instead of a shower/bath, cause those get gross and I never take baths anyway. Oh, and I love my new paisley towels.

I just realized I totally should have lined these pictures up since they are right next to each other. Bygones. Anyways, this rack for my hoodies was a bugger to put up since its drywall. This floor mirror was another little gem from KSL Classifieds, but as you can see it is currently dismantled as I am in the process of sanding it to stain it dark like the coat rack.

This dresser in humongous- another great KSL find. I love this thing- since it is one big chink of wood as opposed to a put-it-together piece of furniture, I was especially grateful for brothers with big trucks and big arms the day I got it! It took some seriously ingenious maneuvering to bet the sucker in place. I would love to eventually sand it and stain dark too, but it is such a big piece that I really need a garage space to do it in, so that will have to wait a while.

I didn't take pictures of Ashlee's room, but here's our place! There are definitely some odds and ends to take care of and to still get... kitchen chairs... paintings... a little desk for my room to stick my computer on... possibly a little truck for the end of my bed and the other one to hold blankets in the front room. Sigh, all in good time. There are more pressing things to be putting my funds towards at the moment I'm afraid. All in all though, I am loving the place.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mama Rose, You'd be Proud

So Kirsten and I went and watched belly dancing last night. Can't say I had ever seen it live before. Kirst's friend at work takes lessons from Meggy (the lovely lady in the invite above) and she invited Kirst to her first live performance and Kirst invited me. It was in this kind of warehouse that I guess is a dance studio, but it felt more like a club. Below is a line-up of the evenings performances. Click to enlarge:

I took some pictures and video of the affair:

This was a burlesque number- I only took a pic at the beginning because, ummm, by the end of the routine there wasn't much of that outfit left, and my Mother reads this blog ;)

Meggy is the one in the white sash and Kirsten's friend from work is in the blue

This girl was really good- I'm pretty sure she has like, quadruple jointed hips

These two jolly drunk dudes were right in the way the whole time

A flamenco number

This is Omar, the lone male performer of the evening- oh my goodness, can this man shake it!

This girls name is Stephanie, also really good, doing a modern Egyptian style belly dance- I don't know how well you can see it in this clip, but we had the most fun watching her facial expressions. Most of the girls had on a perma-seductive face, but Stephanie kept changing her expression and almost looked like she was mouthing words or something.

All in all, definitely a new and entertaining evening, though we were glad that we didn't have boys with us ;) Oh, and if you don't get my title reference, it's from Gypsy, folks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's the Simple Pleasures... Like Hardcover Novels

I'm a hardcover person. They just look so beautiful on the shelf and I love the weight of them and how they are big enough to just lie open in your lap. I even love the papery smell when I buy a new hardcover... and I love the ones with the perforated edges and when you flip through a tiny poof of dust comes up from the freshly printed pages... I hear the creaking sound of the binding being opened and bent for the first time ... and I know a new adventure is about to start. It's true that they aren't as convenient for airplane rides because they are so bulky, but that, my friends, is what trendy softcover novels you don't mind throwing away are for, and also what Audiobooks that you can put on your iPod are for. If it is an author or a series that I really like or any book that I plan on keeping my own copy of, it has got to be hardcover.

The last couple of years I have gone through the Used books on like crazy to find hardcover copies of all my favorite series because I HATED having half in soft and half in hard- I'm a little OCD I think, but oh well, because now my bookshelves look lovely ;) I had never really given much thought to Deseret Industries except for going there to get Halloween costumes, which is what I was doing the week before Halloween his year when I discovered they have a pretty great little book section, with quite a few hardcovers, and they are all just two dollars each! So, now I have a new hobby. Some of the great hardcover finds I have purchased in the last few weeks are:

* A compilation book of three E.M. Forster novels- A Room With a View, Howard's End & Where Angels Fear to Tread
* Some John Grisham favorites-
-The Pelican Brief
-The Client
-Runaway Jury
- (Keeping my eyes out for A Time to Kill)
* Sense & Sensibility (to go with my hardcovers of Emma and Pride & Prejudice)
* Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
* Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
* The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
* The Complete Works of Shakespeare (k, so I already own a copy, but for the price, what could I do! So I got it for my friend Kirsten who I knew didn't have it already because she borrowed mine once and teased me for my notes that were still stuck in certain pages from when I took a Shakespeare course at BYU- you really wanted to know all that, right?)

My fantasy is to one day have a library like in Beauty & The Beast-

Okay, so maybe I would want something a tad bit cozier in scale, with fire places and rugs and pillows everywhere to just plop down and read, but you get the idea. Oh, I could just live in there. Speaking of which, my Mom could as well and I always tell her that when they are super old I will build a little guest room right off of my giant library for her to live in so she can just open her door right into the library in the morning and get to reading. Also, I will need to live by water, at least a little pond or something so Dad can have a place to putter around in a little sailboat. I have this wonderful vision of him as a senile old sailor- with scruff on his face and we'll have to ring the bell for him to come to dinner and he'll never take off his Captains hat. Dad may not be a huge fan of this potential scenario, but I think of it fondly ;)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dad. It's Your Birthday.

How cool is this guy? Yeah, that's my dad, doing his famous monkey arms which, sadly, he can't do with quite so much ease these days, blasted shoulders. He's our bionic man now, with shoulder replacements. Did the monkey arms one too many times, I guess.

Not to brag or anything, but, my dad is basically amazing. Also, he's 61 years old today. I debated posting this yesterday evening since they are in Durban, South Africa right now which is currently nine hours ahead of us, but then I thought, well, but, he was born in a US time zone, so... its all very complicated.

Dad has always been so energetic and ambitious and positive, and this has led him into truly making a difference and leaving a mark on this world. For instance, back in the 80s he helped to start a couple of non-profit organizations, Deseret International Foundation and also Enterprise Mentors International. Then in the June of 1999, the summer before I was to start my Senior year of high school, we moved to Harare, Zimbabwe for two years so that my Dad could put together and put on Aids prevention seminars called Education for Life. Now he and my Mom and my two youngest brothers are in Durban, South Africa where my Dad has been Mission President for two and a half years this December.

Dad has always done things big. He was always around when I was growing up, but its not the day to day stuff that I remember the most, it was the 'excursions.' Dad is all about planning and is amazing at dealing with groups and so if we were going camping or rock climbing or to the beach or to my Grandparents farm, we always had all the right gear and everything always felt so official. The day to day stuff that I DO recall was big on it own- like spending hours making a giant Lego creation or hours making a fort in the sand. Everything turned into a project. Dad cannot stand to feel idle and if something needs to be done, he just wants to get it done- you can throw out something really casual like, 'I need to run to the store and get some eggs,' and he is back in five minutes with coat and keys in hand saying, 'well, are we going?'

Taking his Mama for a spin on the Harley

Dad is certified to captain a sailboat- sailing is a passion of his which I fully support ;)

Growing up Dad and I, well, clashed a lot. I think we had just the right characteristics that were alike along with the right characteristics that were unalike to create friction. The like characteristics being things like a quick-temper, pig-headedness, sarcasm and stubbornness and being lousy at backing down or admitting we're wrong... (feel free to dispute, Dad, but its true ;) but then I have a lot of my mom in me as well, being very emotional and sensitive and noticing and reading into everything, and I get very overprotective. My parents created in me a contradiction of personality traits. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it didn't always bode well for Dad. My parents have said that I was born with a chip on my shoulder, and its true, I am fairly cynical and suspicious and keep a lot of walls up and am happy to offer help but hate to accept it... always been like that since I was born, and somehow a lot of that chip found itself directed at Dad. I knew a lot of girls growing up who wanted to marry someone like their dad. I wasn't one of them. Not then, at least.

The older I get, the more I can look at what I consider his 'flaws' (many of which are the same as mine, which is probably why I am so sensitive about them) and not mind them so much. Now I can appreciate the amazing things we have in common like our sense of humor, our love of travel and cultures, our appreciation of the arts, a sort of conservative liberal view of the world... I actually sort of had a surprising and unexpected epiphany just a couple of months ago: People always ask, 'what are you looking for in a man,' or, 'what's your type,' which are not easy questions to answer. I think its silly to have a list, and most of the people I know that are the happiest ended up with people totally different from what we all would have expected. I was sort of just sitting and thinking of the most important qualities, the things I wanted to have in common with someone I would marry, and all of a sudden it hit me: I'm describing my Father. Not completely and exactly, of course, but all the big things fit. Aaah, the beauty of hindsight.

One of Dad's more recently acquired hobbies: doting Grandpa

So old man, we've had our ups and down, but I like to think its only up from here. I love you and I am proud of the life you have led and that I am a part of it, and I am so excited for you guys to come home and for all of the adventuring ahead of us. Have a great birthday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Musical Artists I Love - Ella Fitzgerald

I am mad about Jazz music. Possibly because I grew up watching old movies with my Mom and the musical style of the time was Jazz, maybe because I was in Jazz choir all throughout High School (it’s the cool thing to do in the Northwest, you know), perhaps because Jazz is automatically familiar and sentimental because most of the Christmas standards we grew up with are in that style, but most definitely because its just so classy and inventive and cool. There are a lot of great old Jazz singers- Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Bobby Darin, Sarah Vaughan… and even some contemporary Jazz singers who can hold their own- Diana Krall, Michael Buble', Jane Monheit, Jamie Cullum… If someone had never heard any Jazz though and wanted to know the best, then for me it will always be Ella Fitzgerald. Hands down. I know, I know, old Blue Eyes is the one that probably springs first to mind as 'classic jazz' for most people, and there is no question that he has one of the most iconic voices that ever was. Jazz isn't just about the voice, though, its the style. Not only does Ella have a beautiful, clear quality to her voice that is lovely for ballads, but she is a master at scatting and improvisation. Seriously, the things that woman could do with her voice. She really just becomes one of the instruments in the band. She'll even mess up or forget the words here and there and she just makes them up and keeps going without skipping a beat.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I'm Beginning to See the Light

How High the Moon

What I love the best about Ella though is that she just sounds like she is having so much fun. Even when she is singing a heartbreaking ballad it sounds like there is this bubble of joyfulness waiting to burst out. If I could pick one musician/group that I could go back in time and see perform it would be Ella Fitzgerald. Sure it would be thrilling to go back and get caught up in the excitement and energy and fanaticism of an Elvis or Beatles concert, but for the pure experience of watching a musical genius ... I would rather sit in a smokey old club with Ella.

Ella and Louis Armstrong often colaborated. One of my very favorite CDs is Ella and Louis duets. They even singone of my theme songs:

I Won't Dance

Oh and also, she has a killer Louis Armstrong impression:

I Can't Give You Anything But Love

Mack the Knife

I ♥ her.