Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Our Bloomington apartment has rapidly become home for Neil and me. The summer months we spent in a house that (while full of awesome people) was the home of bugs, bats, and mice has primed us for our state of bliss, although I think we'd have loved it no matter what. This apartment has been the top reason for our smooth transition to Indiana. Our stuff (well, let's be honest, 95% is mine) seems natural in this space, the random collections and colors and patterns. Neil gave me free rein to do whatever I wanted, and oh boy, I have. For the first few days here we worked tirelessly to locate, unpack, rearrange, you name it. We've now settled into a state of maintenance, simply making slight adjustments to the main area. Meanwhile, the bedroom and practicing/meditation/sewing room are still in flux. I'll give you a virtual tour of what I've done with the living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Our living room/kitchen area is all open, which makes it feel spacious for just the two of us.

The floor-to-ceiling built in bookshelves were a big selling point for the place, and as you can see we haven't even managed to fill it. I pared down my books for the move, forgetting just how massive the bookcase was. Oops. I guess this just means room for more acquisitions!

My beloved yellow chair provides a pop of color to the room. I finished binding the quilt on the right shortly after we moved in and the quilt on the left was a housewarming gift from my supremely talented mother.

This is a photo I took last week during the picture hanging phase of our move. I think Neil looks particularly cute--certainly more lovable than when he is walking around complaining and leaving the seat up! This photo also helps convey the hypnotizing power these comfy couches have to lure grad students to sleep...

The living room. As I put together this blog post I realized I didn't have a photo from this angle, so I had to march from my perch on the couch and take one. (Neil is preparing for an upcoming talented guitarist boyfriend already nabbed one!)

We have our own space to cook! We have a dishwasher! Life deserves exclamation points these days!

 Fell for this shower curtain at Target and luckily it goes with my flea market find owl embroidery :)

Those are the big views, but if you know me at all you know I like the little details, the knickknacks, the tchotchkes...

Books, fabric, sewing paraphernalia, glasses--the odds and ends of a lovely life. Is it completely transparent that I am hoping to lure some Wisconsin visitors to Bloomington?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

the move to bloomington

As I type this, I am sitting on the couch in my living room in Bloomington, Indiana.

It still seems strange to write that, but it's true: I'm no longer in Wisconsin.

My family tackled the move caravan style: my dad drove the U-Haul, my mother drove her car with Whitney, and I drove my car with Conner. We left Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM from Sun Prairie and followed Neil's mom Barb down to Rockford, where we picked up a dresser for Neil that belonged to his grandparents. The sky began to look increasingly foreboding as we stopped at a nearby McDonald's for breakfast.

Sure enough, we were hit by torrential downpour with about 6 hours left in our journey. There was no way it was going to blow over, so we continued on. I drove directly behind the U-Haul, which helped guide me due to how large and well-marked it was. If I had been following an average car I'm not sure what I would've done.

After a few more hours of driving in the same conditions, my dad pulled off the road onto the shoulder of an exit. Our caravan followed. Conner and I had no idea what was going on.

 I spoke on the phone with my mom, who told me that the service light was flashing in the U-Haul so my dad was on the phone with the company. I had no idea where we were location-wise.

After a few minutes, I spoke again to my parents. Apparently the U-Haul folks told them that the U-Haul just needed to be serviced when we got to Bloomington. With some trepidation, we continued on.

After about 45 minutes, we outpaced the storm. I could practically feel the collective relief on the highway. We drove in the new peaceful conditions for a short while before the caravan took an exit to Champaign, Illinois. We pulled into a gas station so I assumed we were just stopping to fuel up and eat at the attached Jimmy John's. However, as my dad paced around the U-Haul talking on his cell phone, I grew concerned that this wasn't the case.

The rest of us went in to use the bathrooms and eat while we waited for news. We were there for about 15 minutes before my dad, visibly aggravated, came inside. He relayed to us as he ate a sub that there was something off about the way the truck was driving and that it wouldn't recognize gasoline.

As he spoke I glanced back out the window. Whereas before the sky was a light gray and overcast, not sunny but not stormy, now dark clouds were rolling in and the wind was picking up. Stray plastic bags flew past, women's hair whipped across their faces and flexibly-limbed trees bent and swayed. Suddenly our unhurried lunch became supercharged with the realization that the storm we had just evaded was back and more fearsome than before.

We went outside as the rain started picking up. My family ran across the parking lot with some of my miscellaneous belongings that had been in my mom's backseat and threw them in my car's backseat. My dad told me to drive to Bloomington while they waited so that we could still sign the paperwork in time to move in that evening. I felt terrible leaving them in the thick of the brewing storm, but knew we had to get to Bloomington.

So to continue our journey I relied on my GPS and Conner acted as my co-pilot. It took a lot of deep breathing to not lose my mind as semis sped past us on the rainslicked roads, but I survived. By the time we reached Terra Haute the rain had again abated and the drive was as easy as a drive through awful (Indiana roads are a real treat) and unfamiliar roads could be. Neil was already in Bloomington to take music placement tests so we met up with him. We arrived at Neil's and my new living arrangement at 4:15 PM, signed the paperwork, and were given the keys.

We now had an empty apartment to ourselves.

We moved all the random objects stuffed into my backseat and trunk into the apartment.

The contents of Neil's backseat came in too.

 I almost strangled Neil about oh, I don't know, a thousand times before my parents and Whitney arrived. Then I almost strangled him another thousand off-camera.

After getting the U-Haul checked out in Champaign it was apparently okay to drive--the experts suspected issues stemmed from water leaking into the gas tank. They made it to Bloomington around 7 PM and the boys (minus Neil, who needed to go to a music gathering) carried the heavy stuff upstairs. I also broke a very serious sweat lugging boxes up these steps.

We piled a lot of our junk into the second bedroom, what would soon be the Neil practicing and meditation room/Bri sewing room.

We crafted a cardboard path to minimize dirt on our new carpet.

We ordered Mother Bear's Pizza, a Bloomington legend not only for its cleavage-y mascot but also for the deliciousness of its pizza. O-M-G. The praise is well-deserved.

My family slept over. We all collapsed into a deep sleep.

The next day, we ate doughnuts on the floor. My family left at 1 PM to make the seven hour drive back, but not before taking this picture of MN and me, exhausted but content.

By now we've been here for five days and the apartment looks incredible. I know I'm a bit of a tease, but I won't be showing any other photos today. You'll have to return to this blog tomorrow, the next day, and so on and so forth :) I have internet access now, 3 jobs at IU (!), new classes and crafty projects to write about, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the blogging groove. Just an FYI--I took August off for weekly features, but they will return in September.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

vintage sheet love

My vintage sheet hoarding collection has been growing like crazy lately. I had limited luck at the La Crosse thrift stores, but yesterday in Madison I hit the jackpot and brought armfuls more home. I'm still deciding what patterns I'm going to use, but I think it's time to start cutting them up!

Today I thought I'd give you a virtual tour of my ever-growing collection. They used to just sit in a pile but now they've all been washed so I've been having way too much fun organizing them.

First up: pillowcases!

Pillowcases are cute; they have all the charm of a giant sheet without the mass. Easy to fold and store, I've found myself enamored.

The vintage sheet patterns I've found tend to be either mostly white with floral accents or a more saturated, colorful print.

These are some of my misfit pillowcases--they're the softest, thinnest pillowcases, almost tissuelike in their delicacy. I plan to use them until they're completely worn out, but they won't be cut up. I found these in a giant bag of mystery textiles I bought at the Viroqua flea market.

flat sheets

My only pair of non-floral vintage sheets so far, both in the same color scheme.

I prefer flat sheets to fitted sheets (easier to fold and store pre-cutting).

fitted sheets

See what I mean? This lump of fitted sheets that I attempted to fold isn't nearly as aesthetically pleasing as my flat sheets, but I'll take 'em any day.

etsy indulgence

A few weeks before I left La Crosse, I bought some precut 6 inch vintage sheet squares off etsy from whimsiedots. Oops.

My old address. Nice try, creepers.

I ordered a pack of yellows and the "flower power" pack. I wasn't disappointed!

So, I've confessed and shown the evidence of my new favorite hobby. I'm enthralled and I've got lovely plans that I cannot yet divulge :)

I will likely use Jeni from In Color Order's tutorial on how to cut up vintage sheets. I'd like to whip up a patchwork for the new apartment this week.

Monday, August 15, 2011

blogging hiatus

Hello all! Needless to say, this blog has been absolutely silent as of late. I've been doing a lot of organizing and planning for the big move to Bloomington. Last Saturday I packed up all my stuff in La Crosse and transported it to Sun Prairie, so I'm home now until the 24th. I have A LOT of photos to share in the coming weeks, and I'm going to get back to my weekly stellar shops and poetry Sunday posts. I just needed a little breather. Extreme busy-ness and the cocktail of excitement, anxiety, and apprehension that a monumental life change brings combined with a feeling of why am I blogging? Is anyone even reading this? I'm spending too much time and receiving crickets...

I'm curious... Who is reading? How did you find me? Do you have a blog? What would you like to see more of here in this space?

I love the interactivity that blogs provide and I'd like to facilitate more of it here. Comments have been a big motivator for me to continue coming up with new material and taking the time to write in this space. I was a longtime creeper on blogs that I love without officially becoming a follower for about a year, so I understand. It can be awkward to announce to a blogger (especially a beginning blogger with only a small amount of followers) hey, I'm here! But I would truly love to know who is reading--even if it's just my lovely "real life" friends :)

So: I owe y'all pictures, anecdotes, documentation. This won't be hard to provide, as my picture-taking hasn't exactly slowed down! I'm jumping back into blogging starting tomorrow.

Monday, August 1, 2011

my 21st birthday

THE 21ST BIRTHDAY POST! Finally. Oy vey, I've been a busy girl: working, reading, socializing, traveling all over the state, planning for the move to Bloomington. And yet, I kept feeling guilty because I hadn't created a post about my 21st. I kind of slipped over it, not knowing how to approach it.

The photos that accumulated over my birthday weekend (July 14-17) were in the hundreds, so plucking a select few for this blog was taxing. Also, I am trying to maintain a somewhat-classy aesthetic here, so the selected photos hopefully retain some level of taste! Ha.

This is Ms. Lexi. I have known Lex since the 6th grade, when I moved to Sun Prairie.  She is impossibly dear to me and I was so pleased to be able to spend my first time at the bars with her!

Maquillage & martinis.

The Library was the third bar I went to in the wee hours of July 15th. Obviously a photo of me standing by the neon green sign was absolutely necessary for a future librarian!

Lots more photos from that night, but as I mentioned before... standards. Also, after awhile, grinning with a new, free alcoholic beverage just starts to look the same, so I'll change it up.

A photo of me about to buy alcohol for the first time the next evening! (A shot sized bottle of UV Cake. Yes, I'm an absolute booze hound, just can't help myself.) Oh, and I'm also purchasing strawberry shortcake ingredients; highly suspect, I know. The police cap is borrowed from Jeff, who was taking the photo--and also holding up the Australia sign in front of me.

Friday night was when I had people coming from out of town to go downtown with me, so the girls glammed up. Katherine, me, Lex, and my old roommate Amy. I adore these girls.

Jeff and I with a fishbowl at Who's On Third?

Much later in the evening: Lex and I posing with a ladies drink free sign. I am really curious as to whether females who benefit from this realize why bars are allowing them to drink free... do they comprehend that it is a ploy to draw men (who will buy drinks) into the bar, hoping to take some drunk chick home with them? It's really eerie to me that this sort of action occurs openly within this drinking culture. It's obviously widespread but as a girl who just got her first taste of the bars it is interesting to ponder.

Ok, so, I love this photo. High-kicking Jeff is going to kill me for posting it, but there's just so much to love: my roommate Dan's supermodel-esque dance poses, Jeff's face and legs that won't even fit in the frame...

Moving on to Saturday night: Cops & Robbers themed party at JohnaLee's house.

I call this look SuperMario meets Reno 911.

JL, divine as always.

Some alluring robbers made it to the party. If you've been reading this blog you'll recognize some familiar faces.

Aaaand Sunday night: Neil finally returned home from his weekend of gigging and we went out to the Popcorn Tavern. The heat wave had commenced and the AC was lovely. He bought me a Spotted Cow and we listened to some music. He then joined in for the second set.

Writing about a four-day span of drinking and socializing is a heady task. These are only snippets; I'm hoping to impart anyone reading with a sense of what my birthday adventures were like via photos. I'd be crazy to attempt to write down every moment. It was certainly a turning point in my summer--because my birthday falls midway through the summer, I knew my time left in La Crosse after my 21st would go quickly. Indeed it has.

Things I learned my birthday weekend:

  • I surprised myself with how much I love to dance. I never thought of myself as the dancing type, but I was wild for it. I have a stunning amount of fun on the dance floor. I really loved discovering this about myself, because it makes me feel like less of a stick in the mud. Ever since my birthday weekend I have done a lot of dancing, and I'm usually the last person on the dance floor. 
  • Mixed drinks are totally hangover-evasive. I will admit that I have had bad wine drinking experiences in the past, so being completely fine after a full night of significant drinking is really cool. I wasn't hungover at all over the course of the weekend. (I never understood the appeal of getting so drunk that you forget what your night was even like. I think I know myself fairly well be this point. I drink enough water and never go to bed without eating something. Plus I'm sure all that dancing didn't hurt.)
  • My criticisms of (some) men and the drinking culture from a feminist perspective are totally warranted. There are varying accounts of what actually happened on Friday night, but one account holds that there was a group of four bro-types (yes I know I rag on them but I have my reasons) following me from bar to bar, waiting to take me home because (as was allegedly told to a male friend of mine who was with my birthday group) "I was cute and it was my 21st so I was going to get really drunk." AKA easy to take advantage of. So they committed to a few hours of stalking lite and followed my group. I do have my reasons for believing it is plausible. If it was true? I did not notice these men following me. Luckily I had a large group with me and I was nowhere near sloppily drunk, but still. Utterly frightening, that this sort of predatory move would be perpetrated by "normal guys." My college peers, no doubt. A little fun, a challenge. After all, what fun are the normal courtship rituals after awhile, right? Let me just ask this: At the end of the night, when they are able to take (let's just say for the sake of this example) me home, my skinny frame stumbling, giggling, no clue what is going on, one of them with their arm around me cupping my ass because I don't even notice in my inebriated state, what then? Who gets to claim the prize? One of them, maybe one who is owed a favor by the other three? Or all four, taking turns? How are the sexual assault victims claimed, the spoils of a hard night's stalking divvied up? What is the protocol that these men follow? -----Maybe four men didn't follow me that night. I have no way of knowing for sure, not anymore. I'm not too fixated on it; it just further reinforces that women need to be careful at all times, especially with alcohol involved. Because even if it didn't happen, it easily could have. It's the kind of thing that weighs heavily on me because I know: I will never be able to not worry. 

I am terrified of having daughters. That's all I will say. But I'm not paralyzed by this disgust and concern--beyond that, I had a lovely birthday weekend. Truly everything I could have hoped it would be. I got to spend time with a creative, bright bunch of people whom I will miss too much in about three short weeks. I will be in another state so soon! It is tough to imagine.
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