Monday, April 25, 2016

Only By The Night

So I've been doing a bit of digital spring cleaning and rerating of iTunes music recently after things got so messed up at the end of last year. The part I've been loving the most during the whole process is rediscovering old artists and albums I haven't listened to in a while. When you have a digital library of over 20,000 songs it's easy to lose bits in the shuffle. Even though my taste in music is constantly evolving and changing I rarely (if ever) get rid of music after I grow tired of the sound. In a way I think of my collection of music as a scrapbook, something I can use to piece together different places, people, emotions, and periods of my life.

Some of the music on my computer is only there for nostalgia purposes while other songs provide constant background noise to my daily routine; they don't represent a single point in time but many. There's quite a few playlists dedicated to high school and college favorites, songs that got me through some of my happiest and saddest days. I still listen to those playlists on occasion, not to relive the past but to remind myself of the different directions my life has taken so far (that and the music is still good in it's own right). My musical tastes change at the drop of a hat but things tend to come back around sooner or later.

***

I honestly can't remember when or where I first heard of Kings of Leon. I don't think it was before 2008 but I could be wrong. I lay no claim on knowing the band before they were "discovered" or anything like that. As far as I can remember I found them somewhere between the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 (probably along with everyone else in America). I had heard Sex on Fire and Use Somebody on the internet somewhere (I know it was before the songs blew up on the radio) and in my enthusiasm downloaded everything of theirs I could find online at the time.

To me KOL has always sounded like a classic rock band with a successfully modern vibe, especially in the early years when their nods to the past were more than subtle. I like that you can pick out each individual instrument without the songs sounding like a hodgepodge of noise. Unlike certain pop or rock music these days, Kings of Leon is a band in whole. Much like rock bands of the past, each band member is showcased and not there simply to play backup to the lyrics. You can tell it's a collaborative effort.

Like most musical experiences my love and obsession went in phases. First the singles, then listening to entire albums on repeat, then slowly developing connections with each individual song. I went months, sometimes a year, without listening to KOL until eventually they'd release a new album or I would suddenly be in the mood for their sound again. I liked the edge I found in the songs, the sexiness of it and the angst. Only By The Night is the first album that I can remember loving every single song on the track list. Usually there's one or two weaker songs on an album; ones you aren't as inclined to listen to the third or fourth time around. That isn't the case for me with Only By The Night. When I did go back to their music it usually felt like returning home.

I studied those lyrics. Laying on my bed or on the floor of my room playing certain songs over and over again until everything started blending together. Their songs are like water to me. The music is fluid, it ripples and crashes in natural succession. Eventually it washes me clean, satisfying whatever it is that claws at my insides.

Last night when I was listening to the album for the first time in over a year I was amazed by how hard and fast I fell back into that music. Only By The Night, and Kings of Leon in general, was a staple throughout my college years. The album made appearances off and on but at least once a year I would go through a KOL phase. The band has amazing albums both before and after Only By The Night but my strongest connections are to those songs.

The live version of Manhattan reminds me of sitting around NMC during my first semesters of college, songs like Notion and Crawl put me back on the train to New York City in 2010, Frontier City returns me to the walks between classes on Western's campus with Biggby coffee in hand, I Want You reminds me of a certain crush I had during those years, and Cold Desert usually brings me back to all those nights I cried myself to sleep after drinking a bottle of wine alone in my room. For all of those reasons that album feel as much a part of me as those memories do. Only By The Night got me through all of that and I'm entirely grateful for the tiny moments of understanding I felt along the way.


So I can't tell you if Kings of Leon are the most talented band out there or if Only By The Night is one of the best album of all time. Music, like most artistic endeavors, is entirely subjective. These days it's enough just to play those songs again and add new memories to the list of old ones.

-S

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Passionate Style


So I was reading this interview recently with John Mayer where he discusses his style choices with GQ. When I first started reading the interview I kept thinking, oh man he's taking this so seriously. It was almost comical how intense he was about his sneaker collection, but as I kept reading that intensity became more admirable. Here's someone who makes a living as an artist and clearly living an artist lifestyle. John Mayer has completely accepted his evolving wardrobe choices as a part of himself. It's refreshing to hear someone actually taking their clothes seriously in a way that is relatable. He's not Lady Gaga defending her meat dress, he's just defending his desire to wear tibetan robes as a part of his every day wardrobe. He's not even ashamed of being called "worst dressed."

Some days it seems the whole world is taking itself too seriously while other times we're all too busy being sarcastic to genuinely like stuff anymore. Then here's John Mayer being ridiculously passionate about clothes he puts on his body and you just think, "why not?" Why are more people not passionate about the type of clothes they wear every day? Why do we obsess over what we look like on special occasions but act like we don't care on regular days?

I'm not saying people should always go out looking perfect and that no one should ever go to the grocery store in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, but it would be nice if our wardrobes were a better reflection of our personal styles. Of course I realize this type of thing takes time and our tastes, like our personalities, are ever evolving. Maybe people should just start wearing what they like more often than what they think other people like. Wardrobes should be built on an individual not on a societal norm. That way any time you put on jeans and a t-shirt or slip into a dress you feel those items comfortably represent what you're trying to say or the person you're trying to be.

So be passionate, if not about your wardrobe, about something.
Be daring. If you see something you like don't be afraid to try it out.
And most importantly, be yourself. Whoever that is.

-S

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hello Spring!

Hello and happy Spring everyone!



Spring is such an exciting time of the year. The snow is melting, the weather is getting warmer, the flowers are blooming, and the air just smells different. Typically in Michigan the first day of Spring is just another day of winter but this year we had green grass and sunshine to welcome the new season.

I don't know about you but I've officially caught Spring fever. I can't wait to get outside and my to-do list is getting longer every day. Here's a few things I'm looking forward to this season.

-Fresh flowers

-The farmers market

-Spring cleaning

-Bright colors

-Sunshine

-No more tights

-Lighter jackets

-The Dairy Lodge

-Saturdays in the park

-Fresh starts

-A wedding!


-S

Thursday, March 10, 2016

February Favorites

Hey guys,

I hope everyone had a very happy month of February. Although February is the shortest month of the year it always seems to last the longest. Luckily last month was actually a lot of fun. Since there were so many things in February that I wanted to talk about but never did, I thought I'd write about them now.



I recently tried Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for the first time and fell in love. I honestly don't know what is in this product besides water. Is it just filtered water? Whatever it is, using this makes my night time routine so much easier.

My favorite way to keep my skin moisturized throughout the drying winter months is SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel. I've used this gel for years and it always leaves my skin smooth and refreshed.

The perfume I reached for most last month was Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black. Wearing this perfume always makes me feel good. I personally love the smell of Nirvana Black so having something good to smell on my wrist while I'm at work is also a plus.

Can you believe I hadn't read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee before last month? Even though the book gets plenty of praise it was much better than I expected. The story is incredibly accessible and relevant to today's society.


I wrote in my Moleskine Journal almost every day in February. I've kept journals off and on in the past but always enjoy the act of daily writing.

I can't tell you if Olly Women's Multi Vitamins are really doing anything for my overall health but compared to other multi vitamins that have been left sitting in my drawer, these daily vitamins have been the easiest to consume.

On our trip to Detroit I purchased a pair of High Waisted Skinny jeans from Madewell. These are one of the best fitting jeans I have ever owned. When I tried them on in the store I couldn't believe how well they fit. Honestly if I had more money I would buy a pair in every color. The high waist is not only flattering but surprisingly comfortable and the cranberry color makes them great for work.


In early February my whole family drove down to Detroit for the weekend to go shopping and watch a Red Wings Game. The weekend included a trip to IKEA, multiple days perusing Somerset Mall, a stop at a local record store, and of course the Red Wings. My mom stayed at the mall while my dad, brother, future sister-in-law and I went to Joe Louis Arena for the afternoon game. The hockey game was a ton of fun especially since the Red Wings won! Overall it was an extremely enjoyable weekend.

-S

What are some of your favorites from February?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Catching Up

Hey guys!

This past week has been a busy one. I worked a few hours with my dad tearing up carpet and a couple extra at my normal job. Every time I sat down to write for the blog nothing seemed to come out. I don't know if it's a type of writers block or what, but my brain is always busy with ideas until I sit down to write. In an attempt to get the juices flowing I thought I'd write about what's been going on lately.



First of all, I am never prepared to tear up carpet. Somehow my body always forgets how difficult the task of carrying carpet rolls seems to be. I almost always strain a muscle, whether it's in my leg or my back or my arm, and I am sure to scratch myself with the edge of a roll at least once. You do what you gotta do.

I watched Jen Campbell's January favorites video last week where she mentioned Our Changing Climate by JacksGap. I somehow missed this video when it was released on Jack's channel so I'm glad she pointed it out. Whatever you believe, the Earth is where we live and we need to start taking care of our home.

One project I've been dutifully working on since last year has been organizing my iTunes library. When my computer crashed I realized my external hard drive was a complete mess. Ever since then I've been slowly chipping away at the unwanted music and unusable files. Last Sunday I was finally able to back up my new iTunes library and it felt a huge weight life off my shoulders. Maybe it seems silly from an outsiders perspective but digital clutter is just as detrimental to productivity as physical clutter. My music is a big part of who I am, so having it a certain way is important to me.

I'm only slightly embarrassed to say I've been obsessively listening to One Direction lately. I blame it on my love for James Corbin and this Carpool Karaoke videos. One Direction music makes for the greatest dance break music. I jump up and down. I whip my hair back and forth. I sing along at the top of my lungs (most likely out of tune). It's wonderful and I don't care that it's cheesy pop music.

Also in an effort to simplify my life I have started to realize that having so many television shows to watch has made me more anxious than excited. I think I've talked about this in the past but feeling behind and knowing I can't watch everything really brings me down. Television is there for entertainment and unless it's your job, watching TV shouldn't be stressful. To relieve some of that stress I've decided to let a few shows go. We'll see what happens but I think it'll be a good change in the end.

Remember that post I wrote about the soft opening of Elsie's cafe? They actually shut down their original location and are moving in with Georgina's. Elsie's will be open Friday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch with the same great menu they served before.

I met a friend for coffee and breakfast on Friday morning. There's not many people I'd meet at 7am on my day off, but she's definitely one of them. I can honestly say I never mind getting up early on days that we meet because catching up with her puts me in such a good mood. She is always busy but she still makes time for me. I'm incredibly grateful for her friendship.

I'm currently suffering through a reading slump at the moment. I've been very critical of books lately and not enjoying or wanting to read anything. Hopefully this goes away soon. Normally I can read right through a slump with no problem but none of my usual cures are working. Anyway I did still manage to read more books than expected in the month of January. Last week I posted a video of January mini reviews and there are more videos coming soon.

-S

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Literary Love

This Valentine's Day I thought I'd celebrate by sharing a few of my favorite literary couples (in no particular order).


We'll start with the book that's probably the most unexpected one on the list, The Book Thief. There may not be a specific literary couple that jumps out from this book but the story is without a doubt about love. Familial love (Liesel, Hans, and Rosa), friendships (Liesel and Max), and even a little of the romantic kind (Liesel and Rudy).

I know everyone chooses Elizabeth and Darcy but they're a classic.

Part of me thinks this couple trumps over all the others, Jamie Fraser and Claire Randal from the Outlander series. I'm currently in the middle of Dragonfly in Amber and I never want their love story to end. My love for accents, kilts, and red headed men only continues to grow.

Speaking of time traveling couples who are 1/2 named Claire/Clare; Clare and Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife may be unconventional due to the weird age differences throughout the book, but they still get my vote.

In terms of cheesy/tragic love stories, the couple at the top of the list would have to be Hazel and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars. I mean it's two cancer ridden kids falling in love, you know it's going to be tragic and heartbreaking and tear-worthy. I love John Green's writing and there's so many good moments in here. Hazel and Augustus forever.

Celia and Marco from The Night Circus are the ultimate star-crossed lovers (yes, they trump Romeo and Juliet). Their love is so strong it overcomes their doomed fate. Can this book be a movie already? Or a real life circus?

Finally, Anne and Gilbert from the Anne of Green Gables series. Should we talk about what a crush I had on Jonathan Crombie as Gil in the Canadian series growing up? Like hard core crushing it. Anne and Gilbert made a perfect pair even when she didn't know it yet.

-S