I had never heard of sipping vinegar until I went to the Broadway Farmer’s Market this weekend. I was lured into the booth because of the promise of spicy pickled asparagus, which, by the by, was delicious. The man running the booth was handing out little cups of what looked like kombucha and the people he was talking to were very excited. I couldn’t hear what he said the concoction was and he wasn’t paying attention to me because the women he was talking to looked fancy and rich while I tend to look like I just rolled out of my dorm room bed (I’m almost 30) ANYWAY all I know is I saw free fancy drinks that come from corked bottles and I knew I had to have whatever it was. I grabbed a cup when there was an opening and downed it. Then he told me it was vinegar and I had a sorry/not sorry moment because this was the most delicious vinegar I’d ever accidentally downed. The flavor was Watermelon Violet and it made my heart happy. I immediately knew that I needed some champagne and St. Germaine that I could add this to, stat. I bought the pretty little bottle (the rich ladies did not, I clearly won that round of misjudging your audience) and then went and bought a mini bottle of champagne, Sunday Funday and all. Next week is the baby’s first birthday and since her middle name is Violet, I clearly needed to make a special drink with this delightful vinegar to mark the occasion. For the practice round, I poured a little of the vinegar into the bottom of a champagne flute, then poured about half a shot of St. Germaine. I swirled the glass to mix the two and then filled the rest with champagne. I couldn’t really taste the vinegar so I poured more in until the glass was rose colored. And friends, let me tell you, the drink was magic – the watermelon and violet was subtle but had this nice sweet, tang. It is hereby named The Claire Violet and I shall drink it often.
AWP, or Association for Writers & Writing Programs, has a huge yearly conference in a rotating lineup of cities. This year it was in Seattle and I am seriously kicking myself for not finding out about it until two weeks before because I WOULD HAVE SOLD SO MANY BOTTLES OF DEAD WRITERS. OY. Oh well, I will pay more attention for next year (I heard it’s in Minneapolis).
Basically, the conference is a week of writing workshops and off-site readings with lots of booze because writers. (I would like to take this moment to quote my mother this weekend when I said I was going, “It’s good to have a little to drink to spark your creativity, but there is a line. Like Hemingway. Look what happened to him.”) My mother ladies and gentlemen.
Anywho, the conference was really expensive and we had family in town so I only got to go to the Bookfair. If you’re looking for books you’d find in Barnes and Noble, this fair isn’t for you… however, it was a paradise of indie presses, literary journals, MFA programs, and sign ups for moar writing conferences.
So here are the things I enjoyed:
These guys put an entire book on a print/t-shirt/or canvas tote of your choosing in really modern designs. So cool and not expensive! My favorites are Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Dracula, and Anna Karenina. But they’re all pretty amazing. Great gift.
I’d like to eventually get an MFA and if I’m still living in the Pacific Northwest, this is the one I want to attend. It’s a low-residency program on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound about 30 miles from Seattle. They have great instructors and interesting program emphases to choose from (Children’s and YA for me). Also of note about this program: 1. it is one of the only MFAs not given by a university but of an actual writers organization and does a great job of teaching you the business of getting published; 2. you can attend the residency on the island as a trial to see if their MFA is for you. Win win.
This is a top rated workshop for people who want to take classes but not necessarily go for an MFA. Classes are held in instructors’ houses in New York City. Sounds really fun and they gave me a free tote bag so sold. I’m going to check them out the next time I’m in NYC.
I already knew about Hugo House as I take classes there (fun fact: I pass this place every day shipping your orders and I always thought it was a halfway house until I looked it up lol). If you are in the Seattle area and are a writer, this is your haven. It’s an old house named after the Seattle poet Richard Hugo. They have all sorts of classes to help you grow as a writer, supportive instructors, and lots of readings and other activities. At AWP they had a jar full of fortunes. My AWP fortune was, “When God closes a book he opens a chapbook.” #truth
Conference I signed up for: Napa Valley Writer’s Conference
Because wine. My friend was at the conference later in the day and saw my name on the sign up list and we had a laugh.
Journals I liked enough to buy and will probably submit to:
Ploughshares – this is a popular one I’d heard of. They lured me in with a free t-shirt with Edgar Allen Poe on it.
Fairy Tale Review – this is on my radar to submit to. Their latest issue is Wizard of Oz themed. They gave away a packet of “magic seeds” with every journal.
The Rumpus – they lured me in with onesies for my baby that say WRITE LIKE A MOTHER. I thought they were affiliated with McSweeney’s and I had a good talk with one of the editors. They have ties to McSweeney’s but are their own thing. I was confused because I used to volunteer at 826 Valencia and they were down the street from each other. I am going to submit some nonfiction here.
The Austin Review – this is a brand new, snazzy looking journal from super cool city I haven’t been to, Austin. They are just getting started and are really passionate. Worth a look.
Zyzzyva – I heard about this journal because Junot Diaz really likes it so I bought a copy. The editor told me the name is the last word in the dictionary and is an insect. She said that their logo is a beetle made out of typeset. Super cool! My favorite story in the latest issue is Photisms.
Rock and Sling – Ok this one is strange for me. This is a Christian journal. I am not religious (I’m what they call a bad Catholic or recovering Catholic) but it’s pretty modern and looks like it allows for different forms of spirituality. I’ve got some stories from my catechism and confirmation days as well as lots of ghost and insanely spiritual dream stories so I am a little interested in what I could create for this. The journals they had also had some really insane art.
Bitch Magazine – I’d already heard of this, a feminist magazine. I really enjoy that it’s pop culture through the lens of feminist viewpoints. I picked up their new food issue which is not at all what I thought it would be and it is even more awesome than I could have imagined. They were selling really cool mugs with famous strong ladies from history. The girl working the booth told me that her presence there had made for interesting conversations with all the people who hadn’t heard of this one lol.
The Paris Review – this is an old prestigious journal I want to submit to but won’t get into, which is fine. They were selling old journals from the 40s and 50s with names such as James Thurber and T.S. Elliott. I would have bought those but they were too expensive. I did get the latest issue, and sigh, really want to get published there.
There were literally a billion other cool things but these are the ones that caught my attention. Hoping to have a booth for Dead Writers next year.
I have not yet started selling Pemberley and my three newest, Archibald, Madame Moustache, and VIII are sitting on the counter waiting for me to get it together. After all the baby’s activities – music class, story time, and baby French class (yes I’m one of those people) – it’s hard to concentrate on the perfumes when I’ve been so excited about writing again.
It all started when I read a YA book over Christmas travels. The book hit a nerve with me because I have written two unfinished YAs and it got me thinking…now’s the time. Especially because my YA genre is still on the outskirts of what’s popular but I definitely see the trend heading in its direction. I have three friends working on novels so I’ve been long distance workshopping with them. Not only that, but Seattle has a very strong writing community. I’m taking a class at Hugo House right now where I’ve met several really cool people with similar goals so hopefully more eyes to help me work out my manuscript’s kinks.
The one I’m working on right now, was originally written in 2010 during Nanowrimo. I left it alone for a while because the subject matter was still very raw to me, but now that I’ve had some distance, this is the year I’ve decided to get it out there. It’s a fairy tale – sort of Neil Gaiman hanging out with the Brothers Grimm type thing about a teenager on a journey to the underworld. I enjoy it. The other one I will edit when the first is complete is a steam punk story that grew out of a short story I wrote for the Machine of Death franchise. I didn’t get in to my great sadness, but that’s a good thing because the novel that came out of it’s ashes is way cooler.
Anyway, perfume releases are on the horizon but taking a backseat to some creative endeavors I want to take on this year. The perfumes I talked about in the first paragraph will come out within the month but after that I won’t be releasing anything new for a while.
Someone up there loves me because my ongoing mystery illness has been subsiding this last week just in time for my favorite holiday. I didn’t make any plans in the event that I still feel terrible, health in this case is more symbolic. But the last two days I’ve actually been eating and leaving the house for 3-4 hours at a time WITHOUT INCIDENT!
I digress. Back to Halloween. First off, it’s my brother’s birthday which irritates me that he got world’s coolest birthday. He doesn’t love dead things the way I do. Secondly, since I love history and haven’t written about history in a while, here’s an ultra-mini history of Halloween.
My Celtic ancestors were seriously amazing. They were crazy and I love them for it. They had this festival called Samhain (I’m pretty sure Wiccans still call Halloween that) (why do I know so much about this stuff?). They believed that the veil between this world and the next thinned and allowed the free passage of spirits to roam the earth. The Celts would light bonfires and wear masks to ward off any nasty ghosts that may be about. And people were totally fine with this arrangement until, like everything else, the Catholics had to come appropriate Samhain for themselves. I’m Catholic, I can say these things. Anyway, Pope Gregory III was all like, the Celts are having way too much fun we want in. So he decreed that November 1 would be All Saints Day which as we all know has morphed into something awesome called Dia de Los Muertos. All Saints Day appropriated the Celtic Samhain traditions. The night before All Saints Day was called All Hallows’ Eve which you already knew because you watched Hocus Pocus everyday as a child. Just me? Everything has to be a fight between good and evil with these religious types so All Hallows’ Eve, which over time became known as Halloween, was the more sinister of the days. From there, someone had the utter brilliance of incorporating pumpkins and candy. Halloween.
There’s probably more to the story, but I told you, ultra-mini today. Sales have been down due to the hurricane on the East Coast (seriously, hope you guys are ok and are able to get out and vote next week!!), but I thought it fitting that I woke up to the sale of three bottles of Dead Writers perfume. Halloween.
I have not been writing at all the last few weeks, which I’m sure those who follow are surprised about since I can never seem to shut up. Suffice it to say I’ve been sick and miserable with no sign of improvement, so I’m lazy. OK?
Before I was bedridden (I’m not really bedridden I just cant seem to handle being outside for more than an hour at a time), the music magazine I’ve been writing for since I graduated college six years ago got me a press pass to the Seattle City Arts Music Festival. I was really excited because I haven’t been to Coachella in two years because I’m mad at them, couldn’t go to Sasquatch this year because I had to be a good friend and go to a bachelorette party in NYC (not complaining), and worst of all! British Airways gave me a free ticket to England for some random Facebook contest and I was all set to go to Bestival on the Isle of Wight and the evil corporation that they are promptly blacked out basically the entire calendar so I didn’t get to go at all. THE PAIN!
But I digress. Seattle City Arts Music Festival! I moved to Seattle in May and I have to tell you Seattle, I am impressed. Your rain situation is not so bad as I was told and you kick San Francisco’s ass (last city I lived in which I don’t like to talk about because I hated it) in the bands you bring in as well as your bars and nightlife. Also, you’re not freezing in the summer which was another big no-no for SF. Even though I’m sick, I knew I had to suck it up and take in as much of the festival as possible. Last night I went to Neumos Crystal Ball Reading Room and caught Brother Ali. I’m not really a rap person but dammit that guy was awesome. His songs actually had a point (like politics!) besides dropping dubs on bitches and other such rap nonsense. Also, I don’t know how he breathed because he was just spewing the words out and took no breaks. Because he gave no fucks. And the crowd loved him for it. For my part I stood up against a wall in the corner with easy access to the exit/bathrooms and had sour lozenges in my pocket to dispel the nausea. I also was smart and brought one of those plastic fruit bags from the grocery store in case of a surprise puke attack, but thankfully I didn’t need it.
I’m writing a review on the festival at the end of the week so I’ll post more details then. Tonight I’m hitting up A Fine Frenzy, Joshua Radin and possibly the Elliott Smith Tribute Show as well as EOTO. The last two are largely dependent on how sick I am, although so far today I seem better. Maybe I’ll see you there? I’ll be the one standing in the corner with a plastic bag sucking on lollipops.
Literary friends! I just saw this on Facebook and thought I’d share. Sribner is having a contest to win an F. Scott Fitzgerald library including: The Great Gatsby / The Beautiful and Damned / This Side of Paradise / A Short Autobiography / Tender Is the Night / The Love of the Last Tycoon / The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pretty sweet! If you win and I don’t we may have words.
One thing that didn’t occur to me (but probably should have) when I opened up a shop on Etsy was that I would want to buy everything. There are some genuinely amazing products and sellers on the site and it’s so hard not to click the Paypal button. Sometimes I don’t heed the little voice saying, “Stop! You’re here to sell, not to dip into your profits!” One such example of not heeding that annoying voice, was a recent purchase from Tin Roof Soap Co., an Etsy shop hailing from Houston, Texas. You see, what sets her (owner, Sara James) apart from all the masses of soap sellers on Etsy are two things (at least for me):
1. Awesome old time-y packaging
2. BEER SOAP!!!
While perusing her shop, the Beer Soap immediately jumped off the page, for obvious reasons. I could sit here and tell you that I bought the bar of Beer Soap ($6) because I wanted an all natural vegan soap and to support small business, and while I like the idea of all those things, it’s effing Beer Soap. I needed to have that in my life. Another thought running through my mind is that my husband couldn’t get mad at me for spending money on Beer Soap as that directly benefits him! This is just how my mind works.
So now I’m here to review this delightfully hoppy bar of lather. Disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about soap, but I do know about life. So here are some stories about Beer Soap.
I do not use bars of soap. Ever. I hate the residue they leave on your skin, it always dries me out because I have world’s fairest most sensitive skin. I pretty much only buy gel soap that has moisturizing power level 10. That said, when I placed the order, I thought this little bar was going to be a novelty relegated to the guest use pile. WRONG!
When I bought the soap, Sara James (she has one of those awesome names where you have to say the whole thing) told me that it works great as shampoo too. I laughed at her witchcraft. The package came and I giggled with delight about the old time-y feel and immediately wanted to copy her packaging. Inside was a beautifully wrapped bar of Rosemary Beer Soap and two samples. I’m not sure what the samples are but they smell kind of licorice-y and are also very nice.
I decided to give the Beer Soap the old college try (which sounds very ironic). I took it to the shower and used it all over. I was initially very surprised at how milky and smooth it was. It didn’t have that rough, dry feeling that most soap bars have. I didn’t feel sticky! It was grand. The smell itself is a more pleasant scent of straight beer. You’re not going to smell like Budweiser. You’ll smell like a nice Hefeweisen with orange slice. It’s hoppy and works well with the rosemary, slightly herbaceous and floral.
Because I like to live dangerously, I decided to heed her advice and try it out on my hair. I had reservations of course, the first being that I’m kind of an idiot in the common sense department and didn’t know how to use it on my hair. I initially just rubbed the bar on my head like I was hitting myself with a brick. Dumb. The second reservation was that I have purple hair. When you have bright color treatments like that, they basically fade with each wash (literally the purple drips out of your hair). I didn’t know how a bar of soap would fare against my beloved hair color (I feel more me with purple hair, I’m weird). Thought I, “This is not specially formulated for color-treated hair like that Pantene bottle over there.” When I got smart and started rubbing the Beer Soap in my hands, I was shocked at how well it lathers. It really IS a shampoo. It lathered better than my regular stuff. I washed my hair and shockingly, there was only a tiny bit of drainage of the purple. Seriously. I went to put conditioner in after the Beer Soap, and that’s when the purple started to pour out like it was trying to escape or something. It WAS trying to escape. Trying to escape from that lying, overly chemical Pantene bottle.
So my thoughts on Beer Soap: This little guy is more than a novelty. It’s a creamy soap that has great moisturizing properties, even on sensitive skin. It’s a wonderful shampoo and has a great scent – a fine craft beer on a summer day. So maybe buy some beer soap?
I went to Pike Place Market this morning, after a lovely breakfast of coffee and doughnuts at Top Pot, to get rose petals so I can make fresh rose water. I’ve been experimenting with different floral waters, so far Chamomile being my favorite, and thought I’d give the old reliable rose a try. There were a billion nerds there for PAX.
My etsy shop has steadily been increasing in views and sales over the last two weeks. This is super amazing happy fantastic! I started selling July 6 and have hit 31 sales, I’m told this is good for a new shop so yay me! Today started out normal enough with an IM conversation with my husband. We basically only hang out together and when he’s at work we talk all day online. We need to set more boundaries.
I complain here often about my lack of photography skills and lack of an iPhone with Instagram capabilities to mask said deficiencies with cute filters that make everything look like vintage polaroids from 1978. Well, yesterday I found a way to ninja Instagram onto my three year old Android phone that refuses to allow me into the app marketplace. How did you do this? Ask all the other people who use dinosaur technology. I went to Google Play (I have no idea what that is) and it asked me if I would like it if they downloaded Instagram to my phone. Why yes Google, I would. I’m ok with invasion of my privacy by a corporation like Google when its apparent that they take the time to listen to my internet rants and then psychically fix them.
What does this mean for you? You’re probably asking. It means you can expect more photographs from me in which you can actually see the details of the picture. This is awesome news if you like my tutorials. Not so awesome if you don’t like photographs of cats. Because I’m home all day and they do cute things. I take pictures. Deal with it. Here’s what I’ve been up to in the last 24 hours since Instagram set me free:
And yes, all of these photos were taken within a 5 block radius of my apartment. I live in a bomb ass neighborhood, yo.