Friday, September 30, 2011

bad ass metal deer head

Meet our newest family member - John Deere*:
bad ass metal deer head
Never in a million years would I have thought that I'd ever have a deer head decorating my house.

Obviously, the taxidermied kind are completely gross. But I've found the recent trend of fake deer heads to be disturbing, too. Even the ceramic/cardboard kind are just copies of what? A dead animal's head mounted to the wall! Yuck.

So I really can't explain why I fell in love with this metal deer head while window shopping in St. Michaels the other weekend. Nor can I explain why this metal deer head is now hanging above my fireplace. Oh wait, yes I can - because it's a freakin' bad ass metal deer head and it's awesome.
bad ass metal deer head
Our attention was first caught by this metal moose head hanging on the outside of a cute art shop called Artisans of the World. We were intrigued, and while the moose is awesome, his red and green color scheme doesn't go with what we have going on in our house.
st. michaels, maryland
So we went inside and spotted this guy:
st. michaels, maryland
Larry: This is awesome. I kind of want it!
Me: Let's get it!

Now, Larry and I never make these types of spontaneous purchases, and when it comes to art, I'm so indecisive that my living room walls are still completely bare three years after buying our house. So I don't know what made it so easy for me to agree to drop the big bucks on this big buck. Oh wait, perhaps it was the fact that I had already had a few beers and Larry had had more than a few beers.

Whatever it was, within 5 minutes, the deer had been paid for and was under Larry's arm en route to the trunk of Bryan's car. He's made of recycled farm machinery and he will cut you. Seriously, Larry wants to put rebar caps on his razor-sharp antlers.
bad ass metal deer head
The next night we hung him above our fireplace. This process nearly resulted in divorce.

I googled "metal deer head" the other evening and found that the artist, The Steel Fork out of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania has an Etsy shop! Now I kind of want to fill my house with bad ass metal animal heads. (I realize that would be terrifying, so I won't. Bad Ass Metal Deer Head alone is likely to frighten small children.) How cool are the wolf, bear, steer, and...octopus? A bit creepy, but cool. Ok, the octopus is the stuff nightmares are made of, but I still kind of want to hang him in my dining room. Or above the toilet.
bad ass metal deer head
* I thought we should name him either John Deere or Uncle Buck. Larry prefers Uncle Buck, but that just gives me images of John Candy's head tacked to my wall...and that is creepy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

bloggers who brunch

blogger brunch
Me, Tessica, Sarah, Sarah, Becky, Lisa, Karin. (Not pictured: Ashley and Lauren.)  Photo by Ashley.

One of my goals for the year was to meet new people - either through my shop or blogging. I wasn't really sure how I was going to accomplish this, since I couldn't exactly post a friend request to the whole internet (I'm sure that would attract some creepers anyway...not to mention make me look like a creeper!).

But honestly, as happy as I am to be pursuing my dream career - running my own shop, selling my art, working for myself, and blogging about my life - it can get a little isolating without having co-workers to talk to. I'm an introvert at heart, so three days of the work week, I'm quite content being by myself (along with the company of my two loyal studio sidekicks). But the other two days, I often wish I had someone to eat lunch with or collaborate on a project with or grab a beer with during an after-work happy hour. I'm new to this self-employment thing and my shop is still in its infancy, so I figured that over time I'd gradually make connections.

Over the past few months, I've been excited to discover a few local bloggers - it's always a fun surprise to realize that you have something in common with someone who lives nearby. (And honestly, I had thought all the bloggers were in California or Utah - I had no idea there were so many great blogs in the DC/VA/MD area.) I was particularly excited to meet Sarah with an H: we both grew up in Northern Virginia, we both have coonhounds (who love to eat paper, though hers eats actual books while Banjo just fancies a delicious used napkin or kleenex), we both live with engineers, and we happen to live in adjacent towns. Despite my best intentions, my schedule got crazy this month and I never got to meet up with Sarah, so...

I couldn't believe my luck when Ashley of That Is All organized a brunch for bloggers in Old Town Alexandria - this was a chance to meet not one, but a whole bunch of local bloggers. As the other girls have also admitted, I too was super excited and super nervous to meet everyone. (Becky compared it to a first date, which is so accurate - though seeing that I've never been a contestant on The Bachelorette, I've never had a first date with eight people at once!) I was actually worried that I might not even recognize the other girls, despite the fact that I had read all their blogs, seen their pictures, and even watched a few video blogs.
blogger brunch
Ashley, Sarah, Sarah, and Becky

My worries evaporated as soon as I stepped into Le Pain Quotidien and introduced myself to the other girls - of course, I recognized them - they looked exactly like they did on their blogs! (Ironically, I was the one who had just changed my look and showed up with short straight hair instead of my long messy curls.) Not only that, I felt like I already knew these girls - and before long we were chatting it up like old friends.

In fact, a girl in the cafe approached us noticing how much fun we were having and said "Who are you guys? I heard you introducing yourselves and realized that you didn't even know each other!"
french toast at le pain quotidien
These girls were such funny, smart, and creative people and it was such a treat to get to meet them in real life. When I got home and Larry asked me about it - he wanted to know who I liked (or didn't like!), and I said I could honestly see myself being friends with any of these girls. How cool to walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with eight potential new friends?
blogger brunch
Ashley and Karin.

It was really refreshing to meet such a diverse group, too - people with different careers, some single, some married with kids - and also, to realize how much we all had in common. Finally, I've found a group of people who also lug big heavy cameras wherever they go and photograph their food! There were DSLRs everywhere:
blogger brunch
Sarah, Becky, and Karin.

blogger brunch
The fashionable Lisa...with Gus the Gnome.

Big thank you to the lovely and super-stylish Ashley for organizing such a fun outing. (Ashley is the queen of make-up and I think I need her to teach me how to do mine!) I've said it a million times, but I really can't wait to meet up with these girls again. It was such a tease to only be able to chat with them for a few hours, so I look forward to getting to know some of them better, and of course to meeting some of the other local bloggers who couldn't make it this time around.

We've already tossed around a few ideas for the next one: perhaps a winery visit or an evening at the theater or going somewhere to practice our photography skills together...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


So, I just joined Twitter - I know, I know, I'm the last person on the planet to get on this bandwagon. Welcome to 2006, Rachel! But since blogs and Facebook suck up enough of my time, I figured I didn't need yet another distraction. And also, who cares what I have to say? Anyway, the girls at Sunday's blogging brunch kept talking it up, and curiosity got the best of me.

First tweet:

Problem is, I'm pretty clueless with this Twitter thing - somebody help me! What's all this # business? How do I respond to someone? Retweet? HUH? Is there a handbook somewhere to help an old lady out?

Also, I just did a search for some of my favorite bloggers and followed them. Is that cool...or stalkerish? How does that all work? I followed @BryanVoltaggio and @RichardBlais, too. That might be stalkerish. I don't know the etiquette for this thing. Who else should I be following?

Still trying to figure out what the fascination is with Twitter, but I'll give it a whirl. How is it different than a Facebook status update? If it ends up being a huge time suck and I'm just tweeting into space (how do people get 10,000 followers anyway?), I'm out. But for now...@FunnelcloudRach

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Hey, look - I have new hair:
haircut - straight
Now, I do this about once a year - chop all my hair off. Afterwards, I swear I'll never let it get long again. But then it grows and I get lazy and think it would be fun to have hair long enough for twisty-'dos and milkmaid braids. What actually happens is that I end up wearing it up in a bun hair ball every day...which looks only slightly better than the thing a cat coughs up.

So in the interest of full disclosure - the before photos:
OMG hair. Before haircut.
(Shortly after this photo was taken I placed a 9-1-1 call to the salon.)

Clearly, I was waaaaaaay overdue for a cut and some highlights.

When the stylist asked what I wanted, I, can you make it NOT LOOK LIKE THIS? Also, I would like there to be less of it.
OMG hair. Before haircut.
People, this is MY ACTUAL HAIR. I was born this way. It's like a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong.

This is what I have to deal with on a daily basis. Yes, I am aware that it appears that my hair could provide shelter for a colony of rodents.
OMG hair. Before haircut.
(Holy shit.)

It defies gravity and all laws of nature. It isn't natural...but, is. It's a freak of nature! It's aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiive. No, wait, it's dead. Seriously, what died and got stuck to my head???
OMG hair. Before haircut.
My hair is the bane of my existence. I try to embrace it, but most days, I want to punch it in the face. I guess that would do nothing besides give me a black eye. So I guess I should say, most days I want to shave it off. Unfortunately, bald is beautiful doesn't work quite so well for us chicks with heads shaped like a potato.
OMG hair. Before haircut.
I'm kinda thinking that maybe I should've waited until after Halloween to have it cut, though. I could've gone as an Orangutan. Or Cousin Itt? Carrot TopChewbacca? A Sasquatch? No costume required!

Anyway, the hair had to go. So long, rat's nest:
haircut - straight
Amy at Nash Hair Design (SO happy to have found an awesome salon in Falls Church!) worked her magic to give me a new short highlighted 'do. Of course it looked great after a professional blow dry, but the real test was letting it go curly...would I look like a dandelion? I'm a low maintenance girl. I don't think I've used my blow dryer since we moved into our house three years ago (despite the fact that one of my first purchases for the new house was a nifty wall-mounted hair dryer holster).

This is what it looks like with some gel and allowed to air dry:
haircut - curly

Close-up of my highlights, complete with evil-eye:
haircut - curly
DSC_2422 E crop
Seriously, remind me to never let my hair get long again. Never again. It scares the children:
OMG hair. Before haircut.

Monday, September 26, 2011

summer recap

I will finally concede that summer is over. I've been dying to make one of those Pummelvision videos, so here's my summer compressed into 57 seconds:

Pummelvision - Summer 2011 from Funnelcloud Rachel on Vimeo.
(Since blogger makes the quality of everything look crappy, I suggest watching the HD version here.)

Summer Highlights:
So long, summer. See you next year.

P.S. Dear Mosquitoes in my Backyard - Summer is over. You can die now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

summer reading

Now that Fall is officially here, some quick thoughts on what I read this summer...

I've found that I read so much faster now that I'm reading on my iPad, and I plowed through quite a few books these past few months:

Room by Emma Donoghue
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon
Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor
Blood, Bones, & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
The Autobiography of an Execution by David Dow
Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Just Kids by Patti Smith
After by Amy Efaw
Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt
Somewhere Inside by Laura Ling & Lisa Ling
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

My favorites: Blood, Bones, & Butter and Just Kids. These two books were actually very similar - memoirs that took place in New York City, one written by a chef, the other by a musician. Blood, Bones, & Butter is a cooking memoir - a favorite genre of mine. Just Kids was written by rocker Patti Smith about her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. (Yes, that Robert Mapplethorpe. I suggest not googling his work if you're in the office as you'll most likely lose your job. His photography is most definitely NSFW.) Anyway, I don't think many people know much about Mapplethorpe besides that he took, ahem, risque and controversial photographs, and that he died of AIDS. There is so much more to him than that sliver that defines his public image and he and Patti Smith are both fascinating characters. This actually may be one of the most educational books I've ever read - there was so much to learn about history, art, poetry, and music that I needed Wikipedia by my side to put it all together. Even though I knew what would happen at the end (Mapplethorpe died in 1989), I still sobbed when it was over. If you have any interest in art, music, or pop culture of the 60s and 70s, I highly recommend this book.

Speaking of educational, the only reason I checked out Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home was because it was actually available an an e-book from my local library and there wasn't a waiting list. I love that I can read library books on my iPad, but the waiting list for the most popular books is SO long. So I've been reading a lot of things that I might not have ordinarily picked up. Anyway, I found this book so interesting because I, like most Americans and most of the world, knew practically nothing about North Korea. I'm now a bit fascinated by this secretive and terrifying nation. I highly suggest watching Lisa Ling's Inside North Korea - made by National Geographic several years before Laura Ling was held captive.

Also, I hate to call a book about the death penalty a favorite, but The Autobiography of an Execution was excellent, fascinating, and thought-provoking. Also, a total tear jerker. Even though I knew what was going to happen (could a book like this really have a happy ending?), I still cried my face off at the end. Maybe such a dark and challenging topic isn't everyone's cup of tea (Larry is constantly making fun of the depressing books I read), but it's a really interesting and well-written book and I couldn't put it down until I had finished the entire thing.

Most of the others were summer fluff or, for some reason I got into reading young adult books this summer. Really it's because they were available without a wait from the library, but there's something nice about a fast, easy read that I can finish in less than a day.

My To Read list is still overflowing, so now that it's Fall, I can't wait to spend my evenings with a mug of hot chocolate, a dog at my feet, and a good book.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

weekend adventures: st. michaels

st. michaels, maryland

During last week's unseasonably cold (and completely uncalled for) weather, I got the idea that our farewell-to-summer weekend activity should be a trip to the Eastern Shore to sit by the Bay and stuff our faces with seafood...namely Maryland Blue Crab. 

Larry's always wary of crossing the Bay Bridge, especially since two years ago I had a similar plan and of course it was the day that there was a horrible motorcycle accident that caused the bridge to close in both directions. To avoid sitting in a six hour traffic jam, we pulled a complete dick move that involved backing down the shoulder to reach the last exit before the bridge - and our escape. So when I suggested we cross the bridge this weekend in search of some seafood, I was surprised to get Larry's wholehearted endorsement. (And fortunately, there was no traffic this time!)
bay bridge
On Sunday morning, our friend Bryan joined us and we headed to the picturesque town of St. Michaels, Maryland. The sunny 78 degrees promised by the weatherman was a complete lie, but it was a great day anyway. I actually enjoy an overcast sky over the water - very moody.
st. michaels, maryland
We wandered the town (it's adorable!) and walked along the water admiring the boats, checking out the jellyfish, and falling in love with St. Michaels. In fact, we loved it so much that we're already planning to make this trip a summer tradition, and Larry is making plans to gather our group of friends to rent a house and a boat for a week next year. (He also thinks we should get married there!)
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
Hey look, a photo of me wearing something other than hiking clothes!

Then we went to The Crab Claw for an afternoon of smashing dead crustaceans with wooden mallets which we washed down with pitchers of beer (the crabs, not the mallets). Correction: The boys smashed the crabs like barbarians. I, the ever civilized lady that I am, had crab cakes. Really, I don't like to have to work that hard for my food. Crab cakes are SO much easier and the process of eating them is so much less disgusting. (I don't like to have to rip the guts out of anything I'm eating. Just the thought of the crab "mustard" makes me gag.)

Oh and another thing: Crab cakes don't have eyes!

It was a shellfish feast, as the crabs weren't the only sea critters to be ripped apart by the boys. Shrimp and oysters also went down the hatch. I'm realizing that as much as I love seafood, I don't like all the dirty work involved. I like my crab in cake form, I like my shrimp de-headed, de-shelled, and de-legged, and I like my oysters...cooked. With the texture of snot and the flavor of seawater, as far as I'm concerned, raw oysters have nothing going for them.

st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
Larry ready for some crabs.

st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
I call this one "Larry with pile o' crab guts."

Did you know that the underside of a mature crab should resemble old horses' teeth? If the crab's underside is white and shiny, it is called a Whitey and it isn't worth eating as it doesn't contain much meat.
st. michaels, maryland
Larry demonstrates what happens if you eat too many crabs...

After the feast, we made a large spontaneous purchase from a local art shop (more on that later) and then enjoyed a few more beers on the deck at Foxy's while watching people play Bimini Ring Toss. 

Most relaxing weekend we've had a in while - can't wait to go back. Next time we're planning to take a sail on the Selina II and sample the ice cream at Justine's.
st. michaels, maryland
st. michaels, maryland
I wonder where I get this from...

All in all, a great day for everyone, except the crabs...
st. michaels, maryland