Starving Artist: Sour Cream Apple Pie That I Can’t Eat

I bought oodles of gala apples on sale this week because it’s one of three breeds of apple I can safely eat on the IC diet. It was with great sadness that I realized that it would be impossible for Josh and I to finish the bag of apples by the time we left this Thursday morning for his brother Philip’s wedding. Surely they would go bad by the time we returned Monday.
I didn’t worry for long about what to do with the apples. You see, I have a professor with a tremendous sweet tooth who makes her affinity for pastries quite common knowledge in her classes. I whipped her up a pie last night.
This recipe was doubly good because it used up my apples as well as the pint of sour cream I had in the fridge but could not eat on the IC diet.
Sour Cream Apple Pie
Pie
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
dash of cinnamon
dash of cloves
dash of cardamom
3 cups tart apples, peeled and sliced lengthwise (yes, lengthwise makes a difference, lol)
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350.
Thoroughly mix sour cream, sugar, flour, egg, and seasonings. Add apple slices and toss. Place into a single fluted pie crust.
For topping, combine ingredients and thoroughly mix (with hands works best) into coarse crumbs. Distribute over surface of pie.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Live Well, Dress Well: Heaps of Heap!

While I’m ashamed to admit that I first discovered Imogen Heap because of Jason Derulo’s ridiculously overplayed song “Whatcha Say” in which the chorus samples Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” she soon became famous to me in her own right and is now one of the most inspiring individuals in my life. I am amazed by the utterly transcendent quality of her tunes. Her lyrics are at once mysterious and relatable. Her voice is pure and unique, and her music meshes a folksy soft jazz with elements of dance and electronica. Not to mention that the simplicity of the “Hide and Seek” music video mixed with the complexity of the song itself almost makes me pass out every time . . .

It’s her fashion sense, though, that really makes me feel right at home. I was forced to admit my strong affinity for her when Josh saw me making this collage for inspiration and peeked over my shoulder to say, “Oh, she’s got your style.” When I gave him a look of quizzical surprise, he corrected himself: “Or you’ve got hers . . . I don’t know . . .”

Well, I don’t think I’m quite that flamboyant, but that’s cute that he noticed the similarities.

I’m amazed that while I initially labelled Imogen as too high fashion and unwearable for my taste, I’ve slowly come to realize that my wardrobe is made up of a lot of similar elements (statement scarves, “ratty” dresses, arm-warmers, and I-didn’t-touch-this-today hair, anyone?).

Imogen’s style is all about bold imperfection. She relies on bright colors, full-bodied fabrics and textures, and unfinished edges created by feathers, fringe, and fur. Of course, the most gorgeously imperfect element of her style is her wild and wonderful hair. Up or down, plain or embellished, Imogen’s hair always makes an all-natural, easy, breezy, statement about how effortlessly chic this fashionista is.

I channelled the “unfinished” look with a gorgeous black fur vest and a frayed navy flower headband (our lady of the hour is big on flowers) as well as with the ruffling of the purple peasant skirt. The skirt glams the outfit up a bit with the smoothness of the sheer fabric, but it stays true to the slight bulkiness of many of Imogen’s outfits with all of the ruffles. These pointed heels with ribbed sock cover-ups are totally something Imogen would wear, and the black sheer tights add a sexiness that is always so subtle with her. Of course, I had to incorporate some arm warmers, and these sweater gauntlets were just the thing. I would wear the vest as a top on it’s own, but you might want to layer a long-sleeved t-shirt under something like this. Also, I would rock a messy updo with this outfit.That’s important if your channeling Heap hair!
Be sure to check out some of Imogen Heap’s music. There is so much more out there besides the notorious “Hide and Seek.” I recommend “Goodnight and Go,” “Speeding Cars,” and “Headlock.”
P.S. Her second outfit in the “Headlock” music video is to die for.

Fashion DIY: The Death of the Skinny White Cargos

When it comes to DIYing my own fashion from largely unfashionable pieces I currently own, I am a total fail at taking “before” pictures. Of course, this is the case with the super low-rise skinny cargo pants I made last semester that just saw their last day today.
The crotch exploded. Fortunately, I was about to go home anyway, so I discreetly shuffled back to my apartment and changed. I was wearing a long shirt. Hopefull nobody got flashed.
Anyway, I suppose you’ll just have to take my word for it that the pants used to look like this:
Yes, I purchased a pair of men’s white Aeropostale cargo pants at Salvo, and I actually wore them back when I attended a high school where jeans were not a widely accepted part of the dress code. However, apparently I realized at some point that not only did they not fit, but they looked like–well, men’s cargo pants. For this reason the pants had not seen the light of day for years by the time I retrieved them from my bottom drawer after stumbling upon this WikiHow post.
I’ve long been a fan of the skinny cargo trend, so I wanted my quick fix to be a bit more permanent than what is recommended in the above tutorial. Of course, this made the remodel a bit less quick as well, and as you can guess from today’s mishap, not as permanent as I would have hoped.
Nevertheless, after a weekend of sewing by hand, this was the delicious result:

The pics are from back when I made them,
not from today’s exhibitionist escapade.
RIP skinny white cargos. I suppose I actually have to pay money for a pair of white pants now . . .

Reblog: Deadly Post Processing Sins

Photographer and blogger Natalie Norton has written a satire piece for the Digital Photography School website about the major no-nos of photo processing. I could not find a date on the post, so it could be ancient, but I just discovered it for the first time, so I thought I’d share.

Keep in mind, she is exaggerating. Please do not be offended if she has trashed some of your favorite post effects. What Norton is preaching is moderation. She provides an excellent reminder to resist the temptation of compensating for a poorly taken photograph with special effects. This is never a good idea! (And I’m speaking to myself, as well. I need reminding, too.)

Also, that’s her in the photos!

Follow this link: 10 Deadly Post Processing Sins

What I Wore: Concrete Jungle

Thrifted blazer and tank top, AE jeans, sneakers stolen from my costume for one of my college plays
  
It’s a jungle out here!

 These pictures were taken by my super sweet sister Rachel in the decorative foliage outside of the local Target. I’m sure that if I hadn’t mentioned that, you would all be complimenting me on my chic and artistic photo shoot atmosphere. You never would have been able to tell, right? That’s what I thought ;-).

The images also preceded a planking adventure which I will not detail at the moment because I have actually been commissioned to write a planking article for the campus newspaper. I think the pictures should wait until I post about the article. They are truly astounding. (Much more impressive than this one of me. I’m an amateur.)

Are You Not Entertained: Concept Art for "The Monkey King"

My World Literature II class has just finished working our way through a massive text entitled Monkey: A Folk Novel of China. Other translations of this Chinese tale are called The Money and the Monk or Journey to the West. The original story is by Wu Cheng-En (pronounced Woo Chung Un) and takes up exactly 100 chapters. The class read through 30 of them, leaving out a major portion of the monotonous traveling in the middle of the book.
The main character of the book is Monkey (who later has his name changed to Aware of Nothingness), an intelligent and ambitious creature who pursues the Buddhist religion until he becomes an all-powerful immortal. While he is invincible, Monkey is not necessarily a model character. He is selfish, curious, and trouble-making, which makes for a fascinating romp through Asia. He is ultimately joined on a journey for the holy Buddhist scriptures by Tripitaka, a legendary Buddhist monk, and two monsters named Pigsy and Sandy.
Iam by no means a Buddhist, but he mysticism of the Orient and of Eastern religions make this novel one of the most colorful and fascinating that I have read, even if the sheer volume of it was a bit exhausting. Oh well, soon I’ll be reading Anna Karenina and only wishing for a mere thirty chapter book. Anyway, it slightly embarrasses me to admit this as an English major, but I had never before read any oriental literature. I really appreciated the snapshot of Chinese culture and history.
The most exciting thing about this book is that a Hong Kong production company is making it into a feature film! Featured in this post is some of the epic concept art for the film The Monkey King which began filming last October. I have heard predictions that it is expected to be the Asian response to Avatar. Depending on what you thought of Avatar, this could be a good or bad thing, but I am excited for sure!

Chow Yun Fat as the Jade Emperor

Goodbye, Fruit. Hello, Emo.

I received some upsetting news this past Saturday morning. After years of wrestling with inconvenient and incredibly uncomfortable (this description really doesn’t do it justice, but I feel weird calling it pain) bladder spasms, it looks like I have a condition known as interstitial cystitis. If you’ve heard of irritable bowel syndrome, this is the urinary tract equivalent.
On the one hand, this is a blessing. You typically only receive this diagnosis because the specialists can’t find anything else wrong with you. To quote the doctor, “You’re not going to be dropping dead of kidney failure any time soon.”
Well, that’s great; however, most urinary tract ailments are treatable either through surgery or drug use.
IC is not.

I’m being told that my only option is to drastically alter my diet. At first, this didn’t sound problematic. “Great,” I thought, “Cut out soda, sweets, super-salty stuff maybe . . . How bad could it be? I’ll feel better and be healthier!” Guess what they actually want me to stop eating?
Fruit.
Turns out that everything that is good for the rest of your body is bad for your bladder.
All fruits except blueberries, pears, and melons (but no cantaloupe)
Tomatoes (technically fruit, I guess)
Onions
Soy
Eggs
Mayonaise
Yogurt
Sour cream
Chocolate (kill me)
Coffee
Tea
Flavored water (found this out the hard way)
Nuts
Salad dressing
Aged cheese (so all cheese?)
Deli and other cured meats
Beans
Anything pickled
Anything spicy
Anything yummy
Okay, I added that last one, but it sure feels like it.
I know it seems like I’m overreacting to this, but this news came at an already trying time in my life. I don’t feel at liberty to divulge all of the details online, but I am quite overwhelmed and stressed out by all that is going on in my personal life.
And guess what? Stress causes more bladder spasms. Regardless of what I eat.
I am utterly depressed and a bordeline basket case. I’m afraid to eat anything and I haven’t showered in far too long. I feel as though, at 19 years old, I am already being forced to give up my dreams of ever having a normal, happy life.
I look like this kid.

But with less cool hair.

UK/Irish Musicians That Never Fail to Amaze

So I probably need to start linking to songs that don’t have crude language in them . . .

And by ‘probably’ I mean ‘yeah, I should definitely do that someday.’

Unfortunately, today is not that day. The performers listed are wonderfully talented representatives of musical excellence and UK culture (or Irish culture, in come cases). Of course, in some parts of England and Ireland, certain language is a bit more accepted than it is in America. I promise there is nothing here that ought to offend you if you keep this “cultural disparity” in mind and just enjoy the music.

Favorite UK Bands

Mumford and Sons– Nuff said. Art at its finest. Wow.

Chumbawumba– This band is almost exclusively known for their 90s one-hit wonder called “Tubthumping.” I feel weird calling them one of my favorite bands since this is the only song of theirs that I know, but it is one of the best songs in the world, so I think that counts for something.

Coldplay– These men are kings of alternative rock. Their songs are rhythmic and dance-worthy, but at the same time they are very pensive and romantic. Me gusta mucho.

Belle and Sebastian– The whimsical music and lyrics of this band of sweethearts can overtake my Pandora station anyday. If you haven’t heard of them, I really recommend a listen.

Depeche Mode– The 80s in all of their splendor! Their sound is so unique. Industrial rock is a great genre.

Muse– A little bit of a British version of Radiohead, I’ve been told. I personally don’t care for Radiohead, but Muse is a stunning mashup of electronica and rock who remind me of a slightly more emo version of Ronald Jenkees. Also, the fashion in their music videos blows me away.

The Ting Tings– Everybody knows about the Ting Tings! That’s not my name! That’s not my name! That’s not my name! That’s not my . . . name! Such unique and teen-spirited music. I was introduced to them because a friend told me to YouTube this iPod commercial where one of the dancing silhouettes looked “just like me.”

The Beatles– Had to include this one. Doesn’t require too much explanation, right?

Flogging Molly– For the win! Celtic drinking songs meet rock and roll! It’s utterly genius. However, I would never want to be at one of their concerts. Can you imagine the moshing/brawling?

Massive Attack– Forerunners of the wonderful “chillout music” movement. Because this genre is far and away my favorite, I sometimes find myself feeling like a bit of a hipster . . . but they perform the theme for House M.D., so pretty mainstream, right?

UPDATE: The Cure– How did I forget these guys? Is there anyone who can’t sing along to them? “I don’t care if Monday’s blue, Tuesday’s gray, and Wednesday, too!” Something about the lead singers deep voice paired with the lightness of their melodies is completely transcendent.

Favorite UK Singers

Kate Nash– She has such an attitude and a childlike innocence accompanied by a slightly cynical outlook. Her music strikes me as intrinsically British, but this could just be because her delightful accent is so apparent in her music.

David Bowie– He and his alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, are truly talents from another planet. I love his laid back other-worldly vibe.

Leona Lewis– This British diva was discovered by Simon Cowell. Talk about an ear for talent! Lewis is a diva with a knack for emotionally powerful vocals.

Elton John– Oh, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways. Sir Elton John has written some of the most beautiful 80s anthems that I have ever heard. Not to mention that he has been paired with some excellent lyricists such as Bernie Taupin and Tim Rice to compose timeless classics that are just familiar enough to relate to but just foreign enough to inspire the imagination.

Natasha Bedingfield– For so long, Americans seemed to perceive the people of England as being so prim, proper, and sweet. Bedingfield was among the first to show that British girls could rock with some swagger. The soul in her voice never fails to amaze me. Her song, “Unwritten” is one of the most widely known (and overplayed!) hits in America.

Sam Sparro– Including him is a bit of a fail since he is from Australia, but he is also one of the best English-speaking-yet-not-a-boring-American performers that I have ever come across. His hit “Black and Gold” is like nothing I have ever heard before.

Apologies for not including Adele on this list. She really isn’t my cup of tea despite her undeniable talent.

Don’t stone me, please . . . I’m too young to die.

Love My Look: Stryker

This is Stryker. I work with him at the library . . . and yes, that is his real name.
Stryker is one of those despicable people who was born with fashion in his genes. I also attribute his chicness to the fact that he was raised by awesome parents. How do I know that his parents are awesome?
Because they named him Stryker.
Now, Stryker is capable of looking effortlessly stylish 100% of the time. In fact, I’m not sure if he’s capable of not looking effortlessly stylish. I could have snapped the above picture at any moment of any day and he would have looked just as simultaneously laid back and put together.
This ensemble provides an excellent framework for creating simple yet stunning outfits. Normally in “Fashion Inspired By . . .” posts, I would just create an outfit for gals, but since Stryker is a dude, I’ve created what I think will be a helpful sample outfit for guys as well.
For the Ladies:
Instead of going with Stryker’s classic cardigan, I reinterpreted the look to include this fall’s varsity jacket trend. I’m not sure why, but the stripes on his sleeve reminded me of a letterman. This cute one from Urban Outfitters which is designed especially for women would look great with a plaid button-up peaking out from underneath it. Don’t forget the too-perfect-to-not-wear-with-everything cognac Sperry’s!
For the Gents:
What could be easier? Snag a preppy v-neck sweater and then slip into your favorite jeans and boat shoes for a classy take on the all too easy t-shirt and sneakers combo. I absolutely love this unique pair of Sperry’s from Famous Footwear. The “salt washed” navy blue has such a great vintage vibe.
Isn’t this a great framework to operate from this fall when you’re on your way to an 8 AM class and have no time to put any effort into a runway-worthy getup? I, personally, am a fan.
Thanks for the help, Stryker!