Archive for February, 2016

Inked Icing

I love tattoos and I love cupcakes.  If I could eat cupcakes while getting a tattoo that would be amazing…though unsanitary. For those of you considering your own inked treats (or you just like looking at tattoos) here are a few ideas.

Zombie

I wonder if zombie cupcakes moan “froooossstiiiiiiing”.

Skull

You can never go wrong with skulls and icing.

Realistic

If they were too realistic I would be hungry all that time…or eating my own arm.

Monster

Those big cute eyes would sure take some of the sting out of pinheads hooks and chains.

Gory

I love it when people aren’t shy about their darkness.

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Paint It Black?

Thinking about redecorating in the spring….or any other reason?  It can sometimes be tough to find color combinations that will look great in your home but aren’t just a mix of ecru and egg shell.  Especially when you love dark or bold hues, but don’t want to paint your whole place black.  Here are some great resources to inspire you.

Design Seeds

A long time favorite of mine.  I have spent hours exploring all the gorgeous photos and well selected color swatches. There is a custom tool where you can select a color you like and all the pallets with that color will appear like magic.

Fab Mood

This site is geared toward weddings, but the mood boards can be used for any design project. In addition to searching by your favorite color the handy side menus give you the option to search by pantone colors of the year and by features such as flowers or cakes.

Sherwin Williams

Sherwin Williams is a well known household name for paint.  They have gotten quite creative and advanced with their online tools.  You can create your own color pallets from any inspiration photo using ColorSnap. ColorSwap gives you the ability to adjust the principle colors and order. The Color Visualizer tool allows you to digitally paint sample rooms or a room photo you upload. There are also mobile apps for phones and tablets.  The Get Inspired section provides you with beautiful photos from which you can chose colors you like and build your own pallet.  Then you can apply the custom pallet to the room photo of your choice. All the features are super addictive. Playing with color pallets is almost as crack-like as Pinterest…..oh and of course you can pin the pallets.

 


Spooky Baby

When you prefer the spooky life and you have a baby you are faced with a dilemma. You either put in the effort to find clothes you love or you give up and go with clothes that make you less than happy.  This is especially difficult when you have a son like I do.  There are seemingly endless style options available for girls and a very limited selection for boys.  I chose to search high and low for clothes that I thought were cute.  The effort paid off and I have often been sad when my little burrito grows out of something I was particularly excited to find. Below are a few shops that I found useful. Hopefully this will save you a few hours and maybe a few dollars.

Amazon

An obvious go to for everything you may need to order online.  It takes work to find what you’re looking for, but it can be well worth the time.  Available brands such as Sourpuss and Crazy Baby Clothing specialize in alternative fashions with lots of great options. There are other brands like Leveret which have styles that are not necessarily alternative, but they are more interesting than all white onesies.

BuyBuy Baby

I was surprised to find that this large chain store carried some great options. My most exciting find was the selection of Mayfair brand solid pieces in bold colors with matching hats.  If you want you can buy a whole handful of black onesies for a reasonable price.  By far the easiest option with tiny ones that get dirty in a blink. As with all basics you can mix and match the colors to your hearts content. The online clothing selection is even better with lots of options that you don’t always find in the stores.

Carter’s

Carter’s sells in chain stores like Target and on Amazon, but also have free standing stores plus an extensive online shop. They quickly became my go to for awesome pajamas.  They have some of the cutest options around.  They also have great deals constantly.  If you sign up for the mailing list you will receive coupons on a weekly basis on top of the already reasonable prices.  I found myself in the store at least once a month searching the clearance rack.  The savings come in handy when your little one is growing out of everything so fast.

My Baby Rocks

My Baby Rocks is an online store dedicated to babies, children and alternative fashions.  They have a large selection of designs in dozens of categories like “Zombie Baby“, “Monster Baby“, or “Pirate“.  Many of the designs are available in multiple colors so you are sure to find something that suits your tastes. The prices can be a little steep so I only purchase items I can’t live without.  I buy them at least one size too large so they last longer.

Spencer’s

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The Spencer’s stores are known for naughty gag gifts and fun clothing and accessories. These design ideas extend to their baby clothing.  There are amusing sayings inspired by music, movies and cartoons.  You can find band T-Shirts, comic book logos and some foul language if that’s your thing. The prices are on the higher side so I recommend the tactic of buying a size too big so you can get more use out of the items.

Most stores that sell baby clothes sell specialty clothing for the holidays.  Halloween is a great time to find cute spooky clothes just about anywhere.  Even better, shop on November 1st when all the Halloween items go on deep discount to make room for Christmas. Happy shopping!

If you find an outfit you love post photos online with #spookyandsweet so we can all enjoy your baby’s spooky cuteness.


Arachnophobia

Arachnophobia is an intense and debilitating fear of spiders.  It commonly starts in childhood due to a traumatic incident. Approximately 30% of the US population suffers from this disorder. I am not one of those people.

When I was little, around 7 or 8, I developed a bond with spiders.  I was assisting my mother with some yard work and found a spider’s egg sack. While I was inspecting it, it burst open in my hand and I found myself covered in hundreds of tiny baby spiders. My mother freaked out and hosed me down to get them off.  Given the location of the sack my mothers panic was understandable, it was highly likely that these were highly venomous baby black widows. The baby’s were all washed away easily and I was left completely unharmed. Not a single bite.  You could say this was my bat cave moment.

Spiders are one of the most misunderstood creatures in the animal kingdom. This is part of why I identify with them so closely. People seem to think that they are scary and dangerous and gross.  In reality they are creative and beautiful and beneficial.  Here are some facts you may not know about my favorite little critters.

I’m speaking here about average and basic benign spiders which make up about 98% of the spider species on the planet.  There are some highly dangerous ones like black widows, brown recluses and Sydney funnel-webs, you should avoid those guys.

Natural Artists

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While not every species of spider builds a web many of them do.  If you have ever stopped to watch one of these in progress I’m sure you understand the amazing feats that these webs truly are. It would be like you building your whole house by yourself while hanging in mid-air like a cirque de soleil performer. With materials you literally pull out of your butt. And that house also gets take out for you.

There are more types of webs beyond the classic orb web.  There are funnels and trap doors and specialized fishing lines or nets.  Some spiders use their silk as a tether in case they fall and others make little balloons and fly.

To learn more fascinating facts about spider webs and silks check out this site.

Inspirational

Spiders have often been a source of inspiration for horror movies and urban legends, but they have also inspired positive stories.  Most American students were required to read Charlotte’s Web where an intelligent spider saves a pig from slaughter.  There are more stories from around the world.

In Africa and the Caribbean there are many tales of Anansi, a mythical figure who takes many forms and appears in many tales. He is sometimes a spider and sometimes a man or somewhere in-between. Depending on the culture the characteristics of Anansi vary. Basically Anansi is a wise and cunning figure who keeps all the worlds stories/knowledge and created the sun, moon and stars.  He also appears in modern novels, comic books and music.

In China spiders are seen as good omens.  It is thought that wearing a spider amulet will help you gain and keep wealth.  If you find one in your house you should never kill it, you should put it outside.

Some Native American tribes saw the spider as the creator of the world known as Spider Grandmother.

Thanks to an old European folk tale of the Christmas spider people world wide put tinsel on Christmas trees.

Check out this link for even more cultural depictions of spiders, though not all are as positive.

Beneficial

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Spiders are one of the best forms of natural pest control.  Without them our homes would be over run with cockroaches and mosquitos.  This not only helps keep our homes clean and pest free, but helps control the spread of deceases like malaria. They even eat centipedes which are awful vial creatures that need to be eradicated. (I happen to hate/fear centipedes. I see no redeeming qualities of them outside of being spider food.) Also, without spiders, our food crops would likely be non-existent having been ravaged by grasshoppers and other herbivorous insects. Some forms of spider venom is also being studied as a new form of commercial insecticide.

Super Cute

For some reason that I will never understand people think spiders are ugly and gross.  Their bilateral symmetry makes my OCD feel warm and fuzzy.  Speaking of fuzzy, jumping spiders are tiny, fluffy and just as cute as little bunnies who sometimes where water droplets as hates.  How can anyone fear all those big eyes? Happy face spiders each have their own unique smily face design on their backs. They live in the tropics so of course they are happy.

They Are Terrified of You

Spiders do not want to be near you or on you.  They enjoy living in our comfortable homes and in return for our hospitality keep the pests away. They don’t want to be any closer to you than the shadowy corners in which they hide.

I recently heard that some people think spiders feed on people when they bite.  Spiders do not hunt or feed on people.  They do not derive any nutrients or pleasure from biting us. If you are bitten it is because the little guy felt threatened and needed to defend himself.  It’s the same reason honey bees sting, out of fear.

Despite the random statistics that people spread it is highly unlikely that you eat spiders in your sleep.  The wet loud windy cave you call a mouth is exactly the type of environment spiders hate, they aren’t going to crawl in there. If they end up on you it is purely by mistake and they don’t want to be there any more than you want them there. A simple flick will make you both feel better.

Bottom line: spiders are awesome, but I can understand if you don’t love them. Please  respect that they are misunderstood introverted artists just trying to help keep the mosquitos out of your home in exchange for a dry place to sleep.  So give them a break instead of breaking their exoskeletons.

 


Rest In Peace

There are an infinite number of ways to die, but only a few options for what happens to your body afterwards.  I have never been a fan of the idea of embalming and just letting my body lay in the ground forever. Thankfully there are some alternative options. You have probably heard of some options such as cryogenic freezing, being shot into space or becoming a tree….here are a few you may not have heard about.

Eternal Reef

The eternal reef is my preferred option.  The premise is simple, your body spends eternity supporting marine environments. Your body is cremated, mixed with cement, poured into a mold, and then placed in the ocean in an area where natural coral reefs have deteriorated. I can’t think of a better way for my body to spend eternity than to be surrounded by fish, coral, sea turtles and all the other critters that live in and around reefs.  The best part is that there is no need to buy a coffin, a headstone or have your body embalmed.  Plus you can save the cremated remains of a loved one (human or pets) and have them mixed with yours in the same structure.  I think that’s quite sweet.  If I could spend eternity watching sea turtles with my husband that would be my heaven.

And Vinyly

vinyl

And Vinyly will press your ashes into a unique vinyl record.   Multiple copies are given to your loved ones to share. If you like this option you need to plan in advance to create your personalized recording.  It can be your life sound track, a special message or just your natural pops and crackles (for about 12 minutes per side). They will take partial bodies or the whole thing (must be cremated in advance).  They also take pets. For an extra fee you can have your record distributed in select stores.  Lets just hope future generations hold on to record playing technology so they can listen to your life’s B side.

Life Gem

They say diamonds are forever, and now you can be too.  Have Life Gem turn your cremains into a one of a kind diamond.  There are various colors, cuts and settings available. These can also be made from a lock of hair.  Just in case you want to give that special someone a piece of yourself while you are still around to see them enjoy it.

Infinity Burial Suit

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A suit I like to call the flesh eating mushroom death suit will return your body to the earth thanks to the specially cultivated infinity mushrooms. Created by artist and scientist JR Lee the suit blends fashion with living units. The mushrooms neutralize the toxins in your body and turn you into healthy nutrients for the earth.  Check out this Ted Talk to see the suit in motion.

A Work Of Art

There are a variety of artistic options for your final remains.  Nadine Jarvis is well known for making various pieces from human ashes.  I find the set of pencils the most interesting.  The average body can yield over 200 pencils, enough to last someone their life time.  The box comes with a built in sharpener so the shavings are saved and the box becomes an urn when the pencils are finished. Jarvis has also made bird feeders which nourish the birds and allow them to spread your remains far and wide.

Deciding what to do with your final remains is a tough decision.  With all the available options I’m sure you can find one that suits you best so you can live happily knowing you will rest in peace.

 


Terrifying Tropics

I lived in NYC for approximately 8 years.  Every winter seemed longer and colder than the last. Round about the middle of February is when I would start to lose my mind and climb the walls desperate for warmth.  For those of you who may be feeling the same way right now here is a tropical vacation to dream about that also delivers some spooky elements.

The Bermuda Triangle

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Also known as the Devil’s Triangle, the Bermuda Triangle exists mostly over open ocean.  An area of ocean where a lot of unexplained disappearances have taken place. There are dozens of theories as to why this happens. These theories vary widely from plausible environmental explanations to UFO abductions.  In between those extremes are stories of killer fogs and rips in space and time and the fantastical idea that the lost underwater city of Atlantis is protecting itself..  If you want to read more about the theories visit bermuda-triangle.org. The author of that site, Gian Quasar, has dedicated his life to researching the phenomena associated with the triangle.  This post, however, is about vacations!

Bermuda

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This is a photo of Elbow Beach Bermuda I took while on my honeymoon in 2013.  Yup, we honeymooned in the Bermuda Triangle and lived to tell the story. The beaches are all as beautiful as this one.  The sand color may vary, but the warm clear waters stay the same beach to beach.  Of course there is far more to do in Bermuda than just lay on the beach all day.

There are snorkeling and diving opportunities galore, many are in or around the hundreds of shipwrecks that dot the ocean floor.  Bermuda has no shortage of water related activities.  You can charter a boat, go parasailing or kayaking, and even try flyboarding which is like a hoverboard powered by huge water jets.  For the extra daring there are night time glass bottom boat tours available which take you out into the open waters of the triangle.  They come complete with spooky stores of the wrecks you see below and a rum swizzle!

1604399_10203930523007222_3292829013185160884_nIf you need to dry out for a day or two there are plenty of inland activities like exploring the town of St. George.  This historic location features a working dunking stool (with live
demonstrations), centuri
es old churches and forts dating back to the 1600’s.  You can also travel underground into the Crystal Caves.  A large system of caves where you can stare in awe at the stalactites and stalagmites and the amazingly still and clear pond.  For more information, ideas, and fancy photos visit gotobermuda.com.

Puerto Rico

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San Juan, Puerto Rico is the southern most point of the triangle.  There are two major parts to the city, Old San Juan and New San Juan.  In Old San Juan is full of historic colorful homes, cobblestone streets and a UNESCO heritage sites.  New San Juan features luxury beach front hotels with modern restaurants and shopping areas.  I highly recommend exploring both areas.  Visit sanjuanpuertorico.com for more information.

During our honeymoon we chose to spend more time on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.  It’s a small island with only one major hotel where the beaches are easily accessible and horses freely roam the streets.  We visited specifically for the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay.

viequesxxf-11-webMosquito Bay is one of the brightest bioluminescent bays in the world.  Rent a clear canoe and row out in the middle of the night under a moonless sky and watch the water beneath you light up with bioluminescent phytoplankton. It looks like your going through space in hyperdrive. The most terrifying part is when the guides lock up your shoes and valuables before marching you into the dark muddy waters to enter the canoes. If the promise of floating through a pitch black night atop eerie glowing waters isn’t enough for you visit vieques.com for more travel info.

 

Miami

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Interesting fact, you cannot travel directly from Bermuda to Puerto Rico.  No one will take you, not by air or by sea.  Even cruse ships will only go to one location or the other, but never both.  Whether or not the triangle is a myth there are many people who do not want to take the risk of being lost to history.  To get between the two locations you fly though the third point…Miami!

Most people don’t know that the triangle touches the mainland US.  I’m not sure how many people in Miami know when they are or are not inside the invisible lines that define the triangle’s boarders.  I think it’s fascinating that there may be hundreds of people standing inside the triangle or swimming in its waters completely unaware. It makes me giggle.

Miami is well known for the vibrant nightlife and hot beaches.  There are over a dozen beaches to explore each with their own vibe and mix of activities.  If you can think of an activity that involves the beach you can probably find a place to do it in Miami. Honestly you can find almost any activity you’re seeking; for families, or couples, or solo travelers, somewhere in Miami.  Take a gander and the Miami and beaches website for ideas.

If you are living in the cold I hope this gave you a little tropical daydream to warm you up.

 


Say It With Flowers

Did you happen to forget something this past Sunday…you know, Valentine’s Day? Maybe you remembered the day and got the wrong thing.  Or perhaps you are just awesome and want to send your lovey something nice regardless of holidays. Whatever your reason for sending just about everyone loves receiving flowers.

During the Victorian era the language of flowers or floriography was developed.  The varieties and colors of flowers given said a lot more than just a simple “I got you something nice”.  Pick the wrong color or flower and you may have gotten the bouquet thrown back in your face.

The original meanings were complex and sometimes confusing or conflicting.  Some have been lost to the ages or changed to suit modern times.  Here are some ideas to get you started on creating a meaningful and loving bouquet.

You Are The Love Of My Life

Red and white are a classic combination for a good reason.  The colors connote true, pure and unending love. I prefer bouquets that think outside the rose. The red tulips alone are a declaration of love while the baby’s breath represent everlasting love.  Carnations in red and white convey admiration, sweetness and innocence.  The varied blossom shapes and prominent leaves create a dynamic combination which is sure to please your sweetie.

I Really Like You

Sometimes you want to give flowers to someone you have romantic feelings for, but those feelings haven’t turned into everlasting love (yet). Calla lilies say beauty in basically all colors.  I feel they are lovely enough to be given alone.  If you want to add some greens to fill out the bouquet a bit further I recommend ferns.  Ferns mean sincerity which could apply to either “I sincerely think you are beautiful” or “my feelings for you are sincere, beautiful”.  Even if you are not in love with the person currently the arrangement still shows the feelings you do have are real.

You’re A Good Friend

Chrysanthemums, freesia and alstroemeria all indicate friendship.  Chrysanthemums are also cheerful and optimistic and just plain fun.  Freesia smell amazing and have the added benefit of indicating trust and lasting friendship. Alstroemeria are a great versatile flower that come in nearly every color and add interest to any bouquet.  Yellow is a common color when choosing flowers for friends, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from playing with unique combinations.

I Actually Don’t Like You At All

There are a few flowers and colors you should be weary of giving…unless you want to send a bad message. Striped flowers in general indicate rejection or refusal. The tansy looks super cute with bunches of perky little round yellow blooms. Yellow always means friendship right? Nope. Tansies mean hostile thoughts. Orange lilies are only for people you flat out hate or despise. Hydrangeas aren’t quite as hostile, just dispassionate, frigid and vain.  You might want to think twice before putting those in a wedding bouquet.

The next time you want to give flowers make sure you consider what deeper meanings may be lurking behind those blossoms.  And remember, men like flowers too.