Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inspiration: Alice in Wonderland

If you've ever lost your "muchness" you know that all you need to get back on track is a little inspiration.  If you don't know what I mean by "muchness" watch the latest "Alice in Wonderland"....the one with Johnny Depp.  The story itself isn't really my favorite but I do love all the colors of the movie along with the 100% whimsical flair throughout the entire movie.  The vibrant colors on the grey background made this movie well worth watching when I first saw it in theaters and I've enjoyed it from time to time since.  All that said, here is a color palette inspired by the movie.  Hope you enjoy!  I can totally see these used for a little girl's birthday party.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Splash of Color!

So the first day of Spring was March 20th and yesterday was beautiful!  So beautiful, in fact, that I made a trip to the flower shop after work and picked up some color!  Here are my choices:

Usually I'd research which plants can grow together, what plants grow best in which climate, when you should plant, etc etc etc.  But on this day I was surrounded by so much brilliant color; it was such a welcome, refreshing feeling compared to being overwhelmed with work and stress that I just chose whatever made me happy.  

I did stay within the sun/shade realm of plants that were appropriate for where I was putting them and I also got the right potting mix and made sure they are all of somewhat "hearty" variety but other than that, I just let myself enjoy the beautiful day and the extraordinary surroundings.  I'm quite pleased with how they turned out--even if they aren't supposed to grow together.

I am quickly approaching three years in my house.  And though I've been here three years, I'm still discovering things about this place.  Like this piece of quartz (I think) that was placed among the rocks when the house was constructed.  It's like this place was built especially for me! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hunger Games: The Movie

If you're one of my friends, acquaintances, family members or some random person I saw on the street and thought should know, I've probably told you about the book trilogy by Suzanne Collins:  The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.  And if I haven't told you before, I'm telling you now: Terrific books!  Everyone should read them.  These books kick the Twilight series' butt.  But my dislike of the Twilight series is a completely different post I will save for another time.

If you haven't read The Hunger Games trilogy, shame on you!  Only kidding, here is a brief summary and don't worry, no spoilers.  Set in a post-apocalyptic America, Katniss Everdeen must participate in a fight-to-the-death annual event called the Hunger Games.  The battles are televised and youths from each of the Capitol's other 12 districts are pitted against each other.  Everyone is required to watch and there is a love-triangle complication she is forced to deal with.

Now, as with most excellent books except for J.D. Sallinger's Catcher in the Rye and some not so great books like The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries, a movie is soon to follow.  Generally I'm not crazy about movies based on books but my number one rule when watching this type of movie is I always always ALWAYS read the book first.  My other book psychosis:  when I start a book, I have to finish it no matter how terrible it is because if I don't finish it I will forever wonder what happened.  I'm suffering through Eat, Pray, Love right now because of that.  Again, whole other blog post but why do I care about a woman's quest to find herself.  I'm nothing like her and (possible spoiler alert) seems to me like she left her husband for no good reason.  It didn't say that he was mean or abusive or cheating on her.  Maybe I'd appreciate that book more if I were a whiny, middle-aged divorcee who was impossible to please.

Anyway, here is the girl to play Katniss Everdeen:

Photo by Pamela Littky
Jennifer Lawrence.  Feedback seems to be good so far.  She was in award-winning "Winter's Bone."  Unfortunately she was also a regular on The Bill Engvall Show.  Gag.  But maybe if she could tolerate all that nonsense she really is gifted.  In interviews she seems very normal.  Suzanne Collins is excited about her playing Katniss.  I was so convinced that Hollywood would ruin this trilogy my only hope was that they didn't choose someone who was giggly.  I think they have achieved this.  She should be ok.  Others who were in the running to play Katniss are Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Abigail Breslin (Zombieland and Little Miss Sunshine) and Emily Browning (Sucker Punch).  One minor flaw with Jennifer is Katniss is 16 when the first book begins.  Jennifer will be 21 by the time The Hunger Games comes to the silver screen.  It seems they are casting older characters for whatever reason so her co-stars will probably be around the same age except for those, like Haymitch, who are clearly a little older.

Prim Everdeen (Katniss's kid sister) is rumored to be played by:

Jackie Evancho.  If she looks or her name sounds familiar, it's probably because she came in second in America's Got Talent and has a big opera voice for such a little person.
Why she's probably up for the gig:  She had to endure David Hasslehoff's creepy appearance and she seems to exude that sweet and steady persona young Prim has in the books.
Whe she might not be the best choice:  Since when does appearing on a reality talent show mean you're an actress?

The subject of who should play which character has been of much discussion both with my friend Amy at work and my sister and dad.  A few of our picks are as follows (though some of these are from the 2nd or 3rd books):

My pick for Prim:  Elle Fanning  (NOT Abigail Breslyn)

Gale:  There is no one in the world (except for Jeremiah) that is as stunning as I picture Gale in my mind.  That said, this guy off the Puma index app is a close second.  : D

Peeta Mellark:  My friend Amy and I are in total agreement that Peeta should be "doughy."  After all, his dad is a baker!  And we also think he's not so attractive.  He's plain.  None of these sharp-jaw lookers I've seen posted online.  I choose an older version of Rowley off Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Robert Capron) or the adorable chubby boy from this season of American Idol (Jacee Badeaux).  I'd like to stress OLDER versions of these:

Finnick Odair:  Ryan Reynolds

Mrs. Everdeen (Katniss's mom):  Daryl Hannah or Julie Hagerty

Effie Trinket:  Kristin Chenoweth

Haymitch Abernathy:  Hugh Laurie

Claudius Templeton:  William Shatner

Rue:  Willow Smith

That's all I have for now.  Hope you enjoy and feel free to let me know your thoughts about who should play each character.  And if you haven't read the books, read them so you can jump in on this!  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Candace's DC Adventure: Day 3

When my alarm went off very early this morning, it felt as though I had just laid down moments earlier, but I had a flight home to catch (yes, short trip) so hitting "snooze" more than one time was out of the question.  

Jeannie and I checked out of Sofitel and got in the cab that was waiting to take us back to Baltimore.  It was very cold and the taxi driver never turned on the heat.  Brrrrrrrr.  We arrived the airport and got some breakfast.  When we went to wait at our gate, we found some seats and a woman watched us.  We sat down and reorganized our belongings.  She stared.  I took a sip of my drink.  She stared.  Jeannie and I sat there chatting.  She stared.  I opened my chocolate-covered pretzels (yes, I realize I just had breakfast but I needed some chocolate!).  She stared.  So as I began to eat my pretzels, I stared right back at her.  I opened my mouth extra wide as I chomped down, all the while maintaining eye contact with her.  If she wants a show, this is just my opening act.  Finally she purses her lips, shakes her shoulders and moves to a seat where she can no longer see me.  

We finally get on the plane (separate seats again) and the man I sit by is completely annoyed by the fact that I sneeze.  If you know me, you know I sneeze-a lot.  I'm not sick I am just allergic to the world.  And yes, I take meds for it.  I'm just fine with the way I am and the fact that I sneeze but this man definitely was not.  He gave me an, "UUUUUGGGGGHHHH" and tried to slide away from me each time, which is impossible when flying United Air because the seats are so close together you're basically in a pile instead of in a row.  And it wasn't as if I was sneezing on him.  I covered my mouth with the crook of my arm just like you're supposed to.  
Anyway, the next flight was much better.  I sat in what would senior citizen section of the plane (unofficially).  One of my neighbors worked on her crossword puzzles while the other began to read a John Grisham book.  Every so often she would look up from her book, get my attention and give me a huge smile.  There was the faint sell of Icy Hot but no one tried to tell me about recent or upcoming surgeries, illness or their grandchildren so it all worked out.  If only I could have gotten some Ensure through security.....(Yes, I really do love Ensure-rich dark chocolate flavor is my favorite.)  I fell asleep and when I woke up, the smiley lady was on chapter eight.  Ahhhhhhh, nice nap.
While waiting for our luggage, I saw a guy about my age picking his nose like he'd put something in his sinus cavity that he wanted to retrieve later and now was later.  I was so shocked at what I was witnessing I didn't think to get my phone out and take a photo.  But believe me when I say, there was a good 2/3 of his finger fishing around up in there.  That equals one part gross and one part......determination?  

One last thing:  Before I left on my trip, my flower bed looked like this:

When I arrived home, it looked like this:

While I was away working, Jeremiah was hard at work taking care of some landscaping that was long over due.  In my opinion, he did a fabulous job.  I love it and he even included my beloved flower bed gnomes and a splash of orange for my OSU Cowboys!  His never-ending kindness and thoughtful surprises are only a couple of the reasons I am thankful I can call him mine.  

So, great trip and I am now safely home with a beautiful, new flower bed and a boyfriend who I have the most fun with.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Candace's DC Adventure: Day 2

All the magic happened today!  Here is my work place for the day:

No, not Roto-Rooter....The United States Chamber of Commerce!

The day began with testimonials in one of the meeting rooms and ended with an event in the Hall of Flags.  It all went really well.  Had a great time with the crew and the people we were shooting.  I walked around with a permanent smile and meant it.  So happy to be in our nation's capitol and, of course, I aways appreciate a job well done.

The Top 10 Things I love about Washington D.C.:
10:  When looking for a Coke, the security guard at the desk said, "Walk around the corner to Muhammad."  They know their street vendors by name!
9:  Starbucks is readily available almost anywhere.
8:  There is history all around you.
7:  I could be wrong but it seems like someone from almost any country in the world could be found at any given time in Washington DC.
6:  Hotel Sofitel  Life is magnifique.
5:  Cherry Blossom Trees!
4:  Sweet potato French fries at Blackfinn.
3:  Paper Source has a location here!
2:  No matter what time I would out and about (and for all of you who worry about me-it wasn't ever an unreasonable hour) there was always people out running.  That city has to have more runners than anywhere else I've ever been.  And who can blame them?  It would never get old.  There is always something to look at and they have really nice walkways.
1:  Almost everyone I saw was in either business clothes.

Here are a few more trip highlights.  I truly didn't leave the Chamber today but finally got the photos off the camera:

The SunTrust building.  I think this is the prettiest building I've ever seen.

A view of the US Capitol from 15th Street.

Washington Monument

The National WWII Memorial with a view of the of the Lincoln Memorial in the distance.

The National WWII Memorial with the Washington Monument and US Capitol in the distance.

Lincoln Memorial.  My favorite.

This is a tree that has grown so large that it's grown up and around some of the concrete sidewalk.  I was impressed by this.  And I really like trees.

That is all I have for now.  Great, happy day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Candace’s DC Adventure: Day 1

Jeannie and I set out very early this morning.  We had a midday flight in Dallas and were a little extra stressed about the time change.  We made it on time with no problems and then headed to switch planes in Charlotte.  While walking to our next flight, I saw this man:

Yes, actually, he IS wearing a "Utilikilt."  Never heard of such a thing???  Me either!  You can see more here.  But I'll warn you, they are very proud of their product and have some sort of Utilikilt "evangelist" program.  Not to worry, I didn't talk to him....only took his photo on the conveyer belt.  

Once we boarded the second flight, Karma showed up and I had a terrible case of motion sickness.  A little Ginger Ale later, I was good as new.  Jeannie and I collected our bags and found the most American-looking driver we could find....who turned out to be Russian and possibly a race car driver in his spare time.  He drove us-very quickly-from Baltimore to our hotel in DC.  Here is the mad scientist I saw at the hotel.  We rode the elevator with him:

I don't actually know he's a mad scientist but he does have Einstein hair.

We got to our room and discovered we still have a precious few minutes of daylight left so off we went on Jeannie's two-hour tour of DC!  Upon stepping out of our hotel, this is the view:

My first real glimpse of DC and......It. was. amazing.  I love it.  First we saw the White House.  It's smaller than I thought it would be.  Of all the people we walked past, very few-if any, were speaking English.  It's amazing to me that so many people who possibly, maybe probably, aren't from here and the capitol of our nation means so much to them.  There was a protest at the White House gates against nuclear power and weapons.  Then we went to the Washington Monument, which you can see in the distance in the pic above.  Then we made our way to the WWII Memorial.  (I don't have a photo of this at the moment but you can see what it looks like here.)  The plaza, fountain and all the pillars were lighted.  It was meaningful and beautiful.  As my sister is a Truman Scholar, this quote in particular stood out to me, "Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our county can never be repaid.  They have earned our undying gratitude .  America will never forget their sacrifices," Harry S Truman.  Then, we walked and walked to see................

Honest Abe at the Lincoln Memorial!!!!  So worth the walk.  This was my favorite so far.  There were about a million jr. high/high school children running around.  After meeting Mr. Lincoln, we started the trek back to our hotel.  Along the way passing magnificent buildings, fabulous architecture and more honking horns than I've heard in a while.  (They weren't honking at us-traffic was crazy.)  And then we happened upon this:

The Daughters of the American Revolution.  For those of you who watched Gilmore Girls, I can only say this:
Blind date Lorelai's mom invited to dinner to set her up with: "Are you a member of the DAR, Lorelai?"
Lorelai: "No, D-A-R-N!"

Ha!  Even after all these years, that still makes me laugh.  Anyway, we made it back to our hotel, ordered dinner and now I'm typing this.  Tomorrow is going to be packed with lots of fun and lots of work and lots of people!  I'm having a great time here and will post another update when I can. Time for me to get some zzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fonts: The Bad

My very favorite part of any layout or design is the typography!  I spend a lot of time choosing the font that is just right for the project I'm working on.  Fonts set the tone for what you’re trying to convey.  I’ve even been guilty of basing an entire design around a font-despite the fact that some people consider that a design sin.
All that said, there are some fonts that make me cringe.  Fonts that I would never use under any circumstances-except for a blog about fonts I dislike.  They are the nails on the chalkboard of typography.  And now brace yourself for............Comic Sans, Rage Italics and Algerian.

Comic sans is not one of the worst fonts of all time.  It is THE worst.  It was originally created as a “child-oriented” the fact that Cleveland Cavilers owner Dan Gilbert used this font in a public letter regarding LeBron James’s decision to leave the team is either stupidly appalling or evil genius.  I’m not the only designer who feels this way.  Others have banded together and formed entire organizations whose sole goal is to ban Comic Sans.  You can see one here, some "ban comic sans" merchandise here and the Facebook group page here.  

Bottom line: Unless your printer uses crayons, you’re a comic book designer or you are writing a public letter about LeBron James’s decision to leave your professional basketball team, do not use Comic Sans.  

Rage Italic.....first of all, why is it called that?  Everyone knows what a rage is and....oh wait.  All these years I have been reading "rage" but saying “rave” in my head.  Ha! still doesn’t make sense.  Does having road rage make you desire to write a strongly-worded letter to the person who just cut you off in a casual brush style script that is accented with a rough, textured edge?  I didn’t think so.  This font may have been ok in the beginning of it's creation but since it’s now been around 26 years (yes, more years than I have been around) the font is spent.  This font is supposed to have the look of true handwriting.  Word of warning:  This font’s evil step sisters are Mistral and Brush Script MT.

Bottom line:  If you want the look of true handwriting, write the thing yourself.

And finally, Algerian.  This one is not so much a pet peeve of mine as it is to my friend Amy-though it's not on my favorite list.  Amy is the editor of the magazine at work and also puts together a huge book of associates each year.  She knows her stuff and she hates Algerian.  Personally I think this is because this font is widely overused.  Algerian was originally created to embellish any work with a Victorian feel.  What actually happened was this font being used everywhere.  Restaurants, movie credits, advertisements, etc.  To see more of what I'm talking about click here or here.  The hatred of this font runs deep throughout the web.  Maybe more so than for Comic Sans.  

Bottom Line:  The Victorian era is over.  Algerian should be used in moderation....much like petticoats and corsets.