Thursday, June 30, 2011

three beers 'til dubuque

On Wednesday night my friends JohnaLee, Kelsey and I went to Sparta to hear Neil's band, Three Beers 'Til Dubuque, play for Sparta's Concert in the Park Series. Three Beers is a La Crosse-area cover band that has cycled through plenty of musicians in its long lifespan. The guys are great (just a step below local newscasters) and the music? Simply the best.

They had lots of the kids (and even some grownups) on their feet, though it was a fairly shy crowd.

Andrew Steeno & Neil Ferris. (Neil is doing what I've christened the Neil face. This is the face he makes every time he plays the guitar. Remember it; you'll see it in every future guitar photo I ever take of him.)

Jesus Arellano, Zak Kaszinski, Jim Piela & Ryan Torgerson on the drums.

That's the frontman Jesse Gomez in the middle.

Three Beers went out with a bang, inviting the kids up onstage. They loved it. I went up there to take some more photos and after they finished playing I heard a girl going from one band member to the next, gushing, saying, "YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME." It was pretty cute, and I have to agree: they are awesome.

This boy looked super foxy.

This being Wisconsin, there were two things for sale at the park: beer and brats.

I had great company at the show: Ms. Kelsey and Ms. JohnaLee!

Ms. J is super saucy, not to mention stunning. She also has a blog, Abide the Bride, where she is writing about her DIY wedding projects. You should check it out.

This is my pouty face. Sometimes it gets me what I want... sometimes.

Kelsey is hilarious. I'm so glad she's living with JohnaLee for the summer, allowing me to get to know her better!

One of the most amusing moments of the night came when JohnaLee turned to Kelsey and said, "We're just going to have to start calling her Mama Bri!" This came after I was once again backing out of one of the schemes that they are always trying to corrupt me with, but that wasn't the funny part. The funny part is that I already have other friends who regularly call me Mama Bri. So apparently my clucking, worrying, and difficulty throwing all responsibility to the wind is earning me the same sentiments from a variety of sources! It's a cute nickname. I don't mind.

I loooooooove these girls. I had a great night with them... it was much-needed. The weather was divine: temperatures stayed in the mid-seventies and there were no mosquitos. NONE. I came equipped with bug spray, but miraculously didn't need it. A perfect Wisconsin night. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

reading poetry by the mississippi

Yesterday I desperately needed to escape for a while. Luckily for me, there's a very pretty river nearby that is perfect for finding moments of peace.

I smiled when I saw this chalk love on a nearby street.

I soaked in the verdant life all around me. So much green everywhere.

I read poetry on a bench facing the river. I basked in the sunlight. I felt the breeze on my cheek. The air smelled fresh and clean.

I wore my schoolmarm/sailor dress but no matter its charm, it couldn't shake my melancholy.

And finally, I watched this tiny bird for much too long, until the light from the setting sun barely squeezed through the trees.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

neil gets a haircut

On Saturday, I accompanied the boyfriend to Cost Cutters so he could get his mane cut off.


So bowlcut-esque. I almost wish I could have convinced him to keep it like this for a day. But then again, maybe not.


Ta-da! (FYI, after taking this picture and noticing the uneven bangs he had going on, I told him and we made sure the stylist evened it out!)

Neil is much happier with his newly shorn locks. He has been growing his hair out for about six months, the longest he's ever not cut it for. I liked his medium-long hair, but by the time he got it cut it was definitely getting too long. It was always in his eyes. It was heavy. Now he once again looks like the Neil I met four-ish years ago, when we were youngins in high school.

Monday, June 27, 2011

vintage apron & dresden plate quilt top

La Crosse had its first (much-needed) bout of sunshine in about a week yesterday, so I forced the boyfriend to snap these photos before I ran off to meet a friend for coffee. Both the apron I'm wearing and the quilt top are finds from the Prairie du Chien flea market; I've been waiting for weeks to have an accomplice to capture them, knowing I couldn't do it by myself. After a little prodding, Neil dusted off his 2006 Pentax *ist and played photographer for me.

apron: $4
quilt top: $38

The apron has a slight discoloration in the lap, evidence of a long-ago spill. I like to imagine what it could be from: soup, casserole, homemade salad dressing? This adorable apron was used and loved, and I feel lucky to be able to do the same now. I like to reclaim old garments like this. Not only do I find them charming, it's a waste to buy a brand new apron for twenty dollars while this apron that does the trick just fine rots away in an flea market bin.

The quilt top is even more stunning to see unfurled in the sunlight. It has been folded up on the arm of a chair in our room since the flea market. The yellow sashing, the dresden plate blocks... it is such a beautiful quilt. It has two tiny faint stains, and one larger stain. None were dealbreakers for me. The quilt top was originally marked at $46, but my grandpa took over and haggled the price down. I am excited to back it (probably just with Kona cotton) and bind it. I can never resist the allure of another woman's long-forgotten handiwork. And as you can see from the photo, it's a huge quilt. What a find. 

As far as the rest of my weekend, well... it would be a lie to say that things are wonderful in my life right now. It was a trying weekend, and more and more lately I am relying on the small kindnesses of my friends to prop me up. The intersection of several stressors pushed me to a very raw, emotional place on Saturday, and I'm actually pleased about that because it means I've been able to start over a bit this week. A good crying jag is cleansing, I think. And any weekend negativity was mostly outshone by awesomeness: celebrating a birthday and the passage of the New York gay marriage bill on Friday night with the most heavenly vegan cupcakes in the world. A super-supportive sister. Finishing a compelling read. A wine night with a cherished friend and a brief shopping trip with another dear friend. Catching up over coffee and planning a picnic with an old acquaintance. Perhaps things are not so bleak after all.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

poetry sunday: it breaks

Written by Marge Piercy from the book Stone, Paper, Knife (1983).

You hand me a cup of water;
I drink it and thank you pretending
what I take into me so calmly
could not kill me. We take food
from strangers, from restaurants
behind whose swinging doors flies
swarm and settle, from estranged
lovers who dream over the salad plates
of breaking the bones in our backs.

Trust flits through the apple
blossoms, a tiny spring warbler
in bright mating plumage. Trust
relies on learned pattern
and signal to let us walk down
stairs without thinking each
step, without stumbling.

I take parts of your body
inside me. I give you
the flimsy black lace and sweat
stained sleaze of my secrets.
I lay my sleeping body naked
at your side. Jump, you shout.
I do and you catch me.

In love we open wide as a house
to a summer afternoon, every shade up
and window cranked open and doors
flung back to the probing breeze.
If we love long, we stand like row
houses with no outer walls.

Suddenly we are naked.
The plaster of bedrooms
hangs exposed, wallpaper
pink and beige skins of broken
intimacy, torn and flapping.

To fear you is fearing my left hand
cut off. The lineaments of old
desire remain, but the gestures
are new and harsh. Words unheard
before are spat out grating
with the rush of loosed anger.

Friends bear banner headlines
of your rewriting of our common
past. I wonder at my own trust
how absolute it was, part of me
like the bones of my pelvis.
You were the true center of my
cycles, the magnetic north
I used to plot my wanderings.

It is not that I will not love
again or give myself into partnership
or lie naked sweating secrets
like nectar, but I will never
share a joint checking account
and when some lover tells me, Always,
baby, I'll be thinking, sure,
until this one too meets an heiress
and ships out. After a bone breaks
you can see in X-rays
the healing and the damage.

Friday, June 24, 2011

stellar shops: glitter workshop

Happy Friday! (How sad is it for our culture that I can't even type that without Rebecca Black coming to mind?!)

The first hint of sunshine is emerging this morning after an entire week of doom and gloom outside, making today the perfect day to introduce a new weekly feature called stellar shops. You see, I've found over the last few weeks that I've been ogling and taking lots of photos of cute boutiques, antique stores, and other miscellaneous little places that might easily get overlooked since they aren't engulfing all other surrounding forms of life (a la big box stores). So, I've decided that each Friday I will feature a new shop that I find delightful on this blog.

This week's shop is:

6138 Mineral Point Rd.
Madison, WI 53705 

While I was home this past week I did some shopping in Madison with my mom. She headed to one of her favorite quilt shops, Stitcher's Crossing, on the west side off Mineral Point Rd. It's a great place; I bought the fabric for Neil's birthday quilt there last summer. However, this past week I knew better than to get all googly-eyed over $9-a-yard fabric. I'm heading off to grad school in the fall and staring straight at approximately $40,000 (give or take) in student loans -- all so I can be an academic librarian, underappreciated and underpaid. At this point, I've got enough nice fabric to play around with, and buying more will hardly help the future of impoverishment that looms so ominously ahead. (I'm just naturally sarcastic and cynical like this. Despite it, I'm actually quite excited about librarianship, FYI.)

So instead of hitting up the fabric store, I lingered in Glitter Workshop, which is located right in the same strip of stores. It is a gorgeous place, combining an affordable assortment of both vintage and handcrafted pieces. The displays are all soul-renewing eye candy, and very well set up, in my opinion. I'd been to Glitter Workshop once or twice before, and I always vacillate between pure joy that there are others who share my style sensibility and despair that I don't possess most of the objects there!

The owner of Glitter Workshop, Naomi Richardson, very kindly allowed me to take some pictures for my blog. Enjoy the loveliness.

Even the outside of Glitter Workshop is almost too cute for words!

However, the inside is even better.

Artsy jewelry, vintage tablecloths, birdcages, embellished frames, flowery headbands... it's like an overload of things that drive my happiness levels way up. Neil was clicking through my photos after I took these and he exclaimed, "Wow, this sure is a Bri-ish store!" Yes, yes it is.

I loved this father's day themed display

plethora of magnets. (I am coveting that blue polka dotted suitcase.)

don't usually go for paisley, but I loved this dress.

I also got the chance to peek in the back room, where all the glittery, crafty projects are created during workshops

As if I need more temptation to keep hoarding buttons... these pretty platefuls don't exactly dissuade me...

I'm extra curious to find out if these fantastic suitcases are going to be used in an upcoming project or whether they're future displays for the store.

And, last but certainly not least, Glitter Workshop has a cute little room off the main area that kids can play in while parents shop.  

Naturally, I didn't leave without making a purchase... I think it was well worth it, though.

I bought this bag from Glitter Workshop for $15 (told you it's affordable!). The floral design is on both sides, and it's in near-pristine condition. I buy things to use them, not to have them sit on a shelf, and I think if I had paid more for this (which I probably couldn't have afforded anyway) I wouldn't have felt like I could use it in my everyday life. Expensive, pretty old things sometimes take on the status of relics, and while that's nice, I'm a proponent of practicality. Hence why I won't let it's excellent condition and craftsmanship intimidate me.

I've just discovered that Glitter Workshop also has an etsy site. I highly encourage you to check it out. The vintage samsonite red carry-on bag is something I almost bought...sigh...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

rendezvous & flea market in prairie du chien, WI

Here's the next post in this week's thrifting catch-up: some photos of my trip with my grandparents and aunt down the southwestern border of Wisconsin and the beautiful Mississippi River.

We left La Crosse at 8 AM on Saturday, June 18. Prairie du Chien isn't very far at just over an hourlong drive. The annual Rendezvous attracts visitors from all around the state (and certainly northeastern Iowa, as it's right by the border), offering such diverse events as:

longbow making
flint knapping (I don't actually know what this is)
1700s medical practices
fiddle playing
primitive cooking contests
pie auctions
primitive bow shoots

It's basically a large fur trade reenactment, with the majority of the vendors dressing in traditional clothes and living primitively for the weekend, selling handcrafted goods and delicious food. I saw many people in dirty linen tunics, a lot of white people dressed in Native American garb, and one fellow sporting a wholly tattooed upper body, thick silver ring through his nose, and leather flap - that is the only way to describe it - covering his junk to complete the look. Ohhh, Rendezvous.

my fellow antiquer: grandpa!

my new bikini (just kidding! vomitous! but if I went to a flea market without seeing one of these Confederate flag bikinis I'd think I was going crazy...they are unfortunately that prevalent!)

the above quilt top was $25. I loved the colors, but it had about five large, significant tears in it (you can see one at the bottom), and the vendor ended up having something else I preferred.

scary bear

in love with this table. the gingham look, the patchworky cushions, ah! it was child-sized and priced at $15. you'd better believe if I had kiddos this would have been coming home with me!

I  brought some purchases back home with me but I haven't yet photographed them. Today is the third or fourth day of rain in a row and since I love to take my pictures outside in natural light, I'm waiting it out.

The other roadblock to my photo-taking is that I just bought a new point and shoot yesterday after my beloved Canon Powershot, with which I took all of the pictures on my blog so far, was accidentally dropped on a concrete floor at a party. It still turns on and off but it won't take new photos. Luckily the guy who dropped it was very gracious and helped me purchase my new pink Canon Powershot :)
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