Wildflowers: This weeks freshest picks

•Feeling down? Go to the emergency compliment generator and click away your blues!

•The next Internet dance meme has arrived. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Harlem shake.

•Do yourself a favor and make a batch of Bon Appetite’s better granola.

•Now that I am officially obsessed with the Beasts of the Southern Wild Soundtrack I guess I ought to watch the movie. Buy off amazon or listen here.

Bookshelf: Ethiopia, its food and its people

Bookshelf is a monthly feature of SuddenlySamantha where you can look for reviews, recommendations, musings, and general conversation about all varieties of books.

 

This month I stumbled into two books with ties to Ethiopia, Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  Ethiopia, all the way in the Horn of Africa, is largely a mystery to Westerners. Here in D.C. we have a relatively large (and visible) Ethiopian population.  Little Ethiopia near U Street is a favorite of many adventurous diners, with great dining spots like the matriarchal Etete.  They even make their own tej or honey wine.  The food of Ethiopia has brought the culture closer to me in a way that international relations courses and national geographic articles could never have done.  The spongy, sour injera used to pluck up the spread of stews  presented to you on a silver platter, the warm and friendly tradition of feeding the person next to you, all of it makes for a fantastic and memorable experience.

Samuelsson at his Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster, Michael Appleton for the New York Times (click for article)

In his memoir, Samuelsson captures all of these wonderful facets and uses them as a tool to bridge the gap between his worlds.  An Ethiopian by birth, Swedish by upbringing, and American by choice, Samuelson weaves together a story of elbow grease and dreams – a tale told with grace and humility.  While it may not be the greatest literary feat of the decade, Yes, Chef  provides an utterly human, and uniquely Samuelsson view into the culinary world.  Go pick it up and head to your local Ethiopian dining establishment! (you’ll be starving after reading his descriptions of doro wat)

Cutting for Stone, however, is a much more serious literary endeavor. Often weighty and perhaps a bit overdone, the book follows Marion Stone from birth to adulthood.  It begins with a gory birth scene which blossoms into the many medical descriptions Verghese employs throughout the novel.  As a biology major myself, these scenes were  engrossing rather than off-putting.  His descriptions of Ethiopian life bring the land of berbere to life in a manner not unlike Samuelsson’s. If you’re in the mood for a lengthy and emotionally absorbing dive into a character study, look no further than this book.

Sneak peek

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As promised, here are some pictures of my still life pinch pots. Granted they look at bit blah at this stage, but I think the direction is strong. There’s also one of a bowl I made on the wheel!!! Centering the clay is such a pain in the ass, though. It takes me like 20 minutes and I end up totally splattered with clay. If anyone knows has good tips or videos I’d really appreciate it!

Wildflowers: This week’s freshest picks from around the web

This will be a regular posting with my favorite things from the past week listed for you to enjoy!

  • If you haven’t heard this  Alt-J song yet (like me), do it now. Side note: do not keep cinder blocks around the house.
  • Lapham’s quarterly, where have you been all my life? It’s a neat little package of ideas and inspirations from an insanely awesome span of contributors. This month is Intoxication. Yeah it’s that cool.
  •  FINGER TIME! NFL bad lip reading.Just watch it.
  • A rather inspirational article from Gala Darling about skateboarding and remaining true to yourself.
  • Love this design idea from GOOD.is Maybe they can take this into consideration as they update the national mall.  It could even be great for sheds or dumpsters!

Cheers!

An End to the Horrors of Bra Shopping (or Samantha tries out True&Co)

Ladies.  We all know what it’s like going bra shopping. No matter what size you are, all of those Angels plastered on the wall and fluorescent bulbs overhead make it a less than confidence boosting experience. As the mountain of rejects piles up, you wonder if there is any bra out there for  you. The condescending “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to be measured?” from the salesgirl when you hand her your massive pile of ill fitting, back pinching, strap digging, boob jails, is the last straw.

This arduous quest, or some version of it has happened to each and every one of us. Now a company called True & Co has come along to change all that. A sort of fairy godmother for breasts, True & Co uses a totally relaxed quiz (i.e. Does your bra hurt? What hook gets the most love?) to identify your perfect fit. As I’m sure you have noticed there is not much consistency between brands or even styles of bras as far as fit is concerned.  I for one, own bras ranging from A cups to C cups depending on where they were purchased. By finding your ‘true fit’ this website creates a personalized online shop for you, filled with bras, panties, the works. I thought the styles were really nice and there seemed to be a decent variety-ranging from white and lacy to red and mesh to nude and practical.

You then put together your try-on box, and pay a $45 deposit for up to 10 items.  When the box arrives at your door you have 7-days to try on the pieces and decide which ones to keep.  Shipping and return shipping are free so it’s totally risk free!  Something I really like about the whole experience is that I can involve my man in the process.  Normally, at lingerie shops, men are treated like trespassers. But with True & Co he was able to help me choose a few pieces that he will actually be able to see me in before I purchase them which was fun for a change.

I was even thinking it could be a fun Valentine’s Day gift to let your guy pick out a box for you, then have a steamy fashion show, followed by an after party in the top-look…

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, here is a promocode link for $20 off your first box! Use it by January 28th at midnight to rake advantage of the deal. Pictures and in depth review to come as soon as my box arrives.

Pinch Pots

I enrolled in a ceramics course this semester, thinking that I would finally get to learn to throw.  I put in hard-time with pinch pots, slabs, and coils last year. Now-after all the hand cramps, glaze splattered clothes, and clay crusted nails-it was time for some real art. Glamorous, smooth, voluptuous pottery would be mine!

Long story short. That dream is not going to come true this time around. Instead, our assignment is to make a ‘still life’ out of 9 pinch pot pieces. Yes. More freaking pinch pots.  My overcrowded house (four bedrooms, seven people, you do the math) is full of re-purposed ceramics projects.

Need a place to put your toothbrush? I’ve got a pinch pot for that! Loose change in your purse giving your shoulders pain? Here’s a coil vase for you! Does your boyfriend accumulate business cards like Ryan Gosling accumulates the hearts of women? Tuck them away in this convenient bowl I made!

Now I am facing bringing home 9 more.  NINE. And they aren’t even vessels (art-speak for something that might actually serve a purpose)! Rather than sketching, which I find brings out most perfectionist tendencies, I simply began to pinch a ball of clay. The lumps are beginning to take form, organic and soft looking. Stay tuned for a peek.

For the moment, I will tide you over with some seeds of inspiration (click on hyperlinks for sources):

21My professor made that by growing borax crystals on his piece-he’s pretty awesome.

Great blobby feet on this one.

and these botanical pieces are interesting….

Well, I’m off to a lab meeting and then the studio. Happy Friday!