Monthly Archives: July 2010

Really corny cartoon.

I am a firm believer that after living with someone for a while you start to pick up some of their traits. With marriage, I think a little of that can be a good thing.  I can affirmatively say that there are several things about myself that have changed since marrying and moving in with Mr. Fancy Pants.  Most of them are small, insignificant things, but they nevertheless make me more like my husband.

One of these such changes is the way that I look at design, namely how products are designed, packaged, and marketed.  It used to be a pet peeve of mine.  William would be shopping with me in a store and would walk up and down the aisles picking apart the products’ design (not enough white space, horrible typeface, bad alignment, “that photo is pixelated”, etc. etc.) Drove me nuts.

After a year and a half of marriage, I find that I do this same thing now.  Not only do I notice the things that William used to point out, I think the same things without him saying anything.   What’s worse, I’ve noticed that I determine my purchases by packaging.  Maybe I’ve become just another gullible American consumer, with an artist’s influence in my mind.

Whatever the case may be, I thought I’d share a few of the items that I love, but will admit, I picked them up for the first time because their design appealed to me.

1.  Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day cleaning supplies

This may come as no surprise given that I am scrupulously clean, however, not only are these products FANTASTIC, their packaging is lovely and they smell nice!  All of their products use all natural ingredients, are biodegradable, and chemically free.

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day supplies. My personal favorites? Counter cleaner, laundry detergent, and hand soap.

Laundry Detergent (comes in Lavender, Basil, Lemon Verbena, and Geranium).

Mrs. Meyer's Pet Cleaner...for when Avey misses his litter box.

2.  Library Vintage Book Games

I paid extra to buy this version of Scrabble rather than the normal board game!  It was well worth it.  They’re in mahogany stained boxes that look like a book’s spine on the side with gold lettering.  Looks great on my shelves and is a really neat retro edition.

Vintage Game Collection by Parker Brothers




3.  Annie’s Natural Dressing

Annie’s Naturals

Annie’s uses only simple natural and organic ingredients, no additives or preservatives. These are some of the tastiest dressings ever!  My favorites?  The Goddess Dressing, Shiitake & Sesame Vinaigrette, and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette.

I like the designs on this whole line of dressings, which after researching this I learned from the website that they have redesigned the whole line and frankly it made me very sad.   I have become an ardent fan of these dressings and marinades so I will continue to be a follower, but they’re going to lose some appeal to me.  Oh well.

Annie's Natural Dressings

Annie's Shiitake & Sesame Dressing

Picture Book Report

As it has been pointed out to me that nearly all of my posts this week have been about food (yikes), I am switching gears as not to continue the illusion that all I think about is food.  Ha!

Today I’m going to brag about Mr. Fancy Pants, aka William Bryant, aka my husband.  He is an extremely talented artist and is continually being asked to participate in some pretty awesome projects. One of my favorite on-going projects of his is the Picture Book Report. Picture Book Report is a project started by the amazing illustrator and maker Meg Hunt. Picture Book Report features 15 talented illustrators taking their favorite childhood books and reinterpreting them in their own way. Mr. Fancy Pants selected J.M. Barrie’s Peter & Wendy.  The project rotates between illustrators so you get a new instillation of each artist’s selection every few weeks.  Some of my favorites, other than my obvious favorite, are Meg Hunt‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Sam Bosma‘s The Hobbit, and Stephan Britt‘s The Bremen Town Musicians.

Here are my favorite illustrations so far from the Picture Book Report:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Meg Hunt

The Hobbit illustrated by Sam Bosma

The Bremen Town Musicians illustrated by Stephan Britt

I think another reason I am drawn to these particular projects, other than their amazing illustration and design, is their story selection.  J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (first entitled Peter & Wendy), Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and anything by The Brother’s Grimm are some of my all time childhood favorites.  Props to Meg Hunt for coming up with such an amazing idea.  And thank you for inviting Mr. Fancy Pants to participate!  Here are Mr. Fancy Pants’ submissions thus far.  His next post will be very soon so check the Picture Book Report site to catch his next instillation! (here’s a little hint!  The next illustration involves the Lost Boys!)

To quote Mr. Fancy Pants’s take on the project, “my characters have been reduced to the most refined elements and hopefully are loaded with charm.”  I love his characters and how he took them down to their rawest form.  Tinker Bell is my favorite–a bell with wings.  Classic Will Bryant humor.  I love it!

Peter Pan and Wendy Book Plate

The infamous Pan enters the nursery and the adventure begins!

The Flight!

I'm Never Ever going to grow up!

Side note on the above illustration.  This was one week’s submission for Picture Book Report.  However, it was also found and picked up by Society6 and made into a print that you can purchase here! Look at that Mr. Fancy Pants!  He’s so fancy!

Never Never Land and our first glimpse of Captain Hook!

A few weeks ago I was looking around the internet at various “eating local” sites and stumbled upon Slow Food.  Mr. Fancy Pants and I are always looking for things to do/organizations to join that will allow us to meet new people who share similar interests as we do (another post about that to come) so I was immediately drawn into the idea for multiple reasons.  It can be hard to meet new people in such a big city!

Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. To do that, Slow Food brings together pleasure and responsibility, and makes them inseparable.”

After further looking around the website, I realized that there is a branch of Slow Food here in Austin, TX.  This is when I got really excited.  Slow Food Austin is the local Convivium (Chapter) of Slow Food International. Side note, convivium is a Latin word that means a feast, entertainment or banquet (love that little tid-bit).  I couldn’t wait to join!  I cannot figure out if all of the chapters set up their events in the same way, but the one here in Austin “educates” its members on local food, what you eat, healthy food choices, etc. through a few different events.  The organizational staff (those in charge) provide educational classes and seminars in local schools here in Austin.  For the members, the “education” consists of Farm Tours, Happy Hours, and “Slow Sessions”.  They do monthly tours of local organic farms in the area–this I am really excited about!  The ones they have visited in the past few months are Green Gate Farms, Coyote Creek Farms, and Johnson’s Backyard Garden (another post about this amazing place later).  The happy hours are also held every month and are hosted by local restaurants or farms who support farm-to-fork philosophy and farmers who want to grow the slow food movement.

Here are some of May’s pictures from the Happy Hour at Green Gate Farms:

May Happy Hour at Green Gate Farms

May Happy Hour at Green Gate Farms

May Happy Hour at Green Gate Farms

May Happy Hour at Green Gate Farms

The Slow Sessions are apparently unique event started by Slow Food Austin. The website says that, “the vision for these sessions is to provide a forum to discuss topics related to Slow Food in Austin. It is meant to be social and educational. Some past topics have included recipe swaps, cookbook author presentations, dietary and lifestyle gurus, how to’s on making your own cheese and wine, movie nights, potlucks, farm tours and more.”  SIGN ME UP!

This event looked pretty neat too.  Last year the Austin chapter participated in the annual Slow Food USA’s National Day of Action by hosting a potluck Eat-In at Rain Lily Farms to show their support of having REAL food in our school cafeterias.  Check out these pictures:

Slow Food USA's National Day of Action 2009

Slow Food USA's National Day of Action 2009--example of a REAL school lunch meal.

Slow Food USA's National Day of Action 2009

Slow Food USA's National Day of Action 2009

Seriously, this just looks like a blast to me.  My granddad has a garden and to be honest with you I always secretly wished I could grow up on a farm.  I always loved being with him in the garden and how simplistic life seemed to be when we were there.  I grew up in East Texas and farm land is pretty common out in that area.  It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful it is.  And I say that I love how simple life is when I’m there, yet, the fact is life can be that simple no matter where we are.  We just tend to make it about so much more than it should be.  I appreciate this organizations aim to make us all slow down.  To appreciate good food, good people, and the beautiful world around us.  In my life, God is always telling me to slow down.  Life is so short.  It’s refreshing to come across a group of people who are setting out to do one of the most simplistic things, and do that together–Slow.  Down.  I cannot wait to get involved with this organization, learn new things, and meet some new friends through it.  The membership fee will be an investment for William and I, however I think it will be 100% worth it.

All photos taken by Marshall Wright,

I have a new favorite iPhone app.  It’s called Grocery IQ.  You can read a little more about it here if my raving below isn’t enough for you.

I’m pretty obsessed with this thing.  Not only is it a great place to make your grocery list, you can customize it in so many ways.  I have a different list template for each of the grocery stores that I visit.  Each one of them is customized by the aisles in the store, which areas I visit in the store in what order, etc.  So you can see in the picture below you just start to type in whatever item it is that you want and it will list items based on the first few letters of the word (a little like predictive text) to help you make your selection.  Once you’ve chosen the item you can add all sorts of details.  For example, if you typed in ‘Butter’ it would ask what type and give you the option of stick, tub, squeeze, etc.  If you chose stick, then it would ask salted or unsalted.  Then qty, weight, lbs, etc.  I just have the free version of the app, however it is my understanding that with the paid version it will also give you the product’s price at that particular store so theoretically you’d know exactly how much you were going to spend before you set foot in the store (that is if you stick to your list!)

I will say I think my FAVORITE feature of the app is the barcode scanning feature.  First you select which grocery store to make your list for.  Then there is a little lightening bolt looking icon that if you select it, it brings up the screen below (just your iPhone camera with the white box below…the salt is what I am using for my example.  It will not always open with a container of salt.  Ha!)
You can see in the picture below where it says ‘Align barcode edges with arrows’. Sorry if you cannot see it well, but I was trying to take a picture with the barcode aligned in the center like it says, however, I kid you not, the program snaps a little picture of the barcode and reads it so quickly that I didn’t have time to get a picture of what the screen looks like!  So I had to put the ‘reading area’ off to the side so I could show what it looks like.  But after you line up the barcode in the little box it asks you to hold it still while it reads the barcode.  Then it just adds it to your list!  IT’S AWESOME! (see picture below after the item has been added)

The Grocery IQ app asks you to line up the bar code within these little boxes. You can see where it says 'Align barcode edges with arrows' in white.

Grocery IQ list after the barcode scanner has added the product to the list.

I think it’s funny that I chose our Morton’s salt container to use as an example.  Mainly because I hate salt and rarely use it!  But, whatever works for sake of the blog, right?!  I think everyone should check out this awesome app! After I organized the app in order of the aisles in the grocery store, I really do feel like I have cut into the time it used to take me to shop.  And another hint for you ladies, Mr. Fancy Pants LOVES to be in charge of ‘the list’ now that it’s on my iPhone and not scribbled on some scrap of paper.  So if you’re like me and like to have a companion at the grocery store, put them in charge of the list!  Happy grocery shopping!

I am happy to say that I have jumped on the “eating local” bandwagon.  To be honest, I have wanted to make an effort to eat locally grown, raised, and produced foods for quite a while, and luckily now that we live in Austin, it is much easier to do so.  I guess for some this is an easy decision.  For others, it may not be so easy.  I understand that a lot of factors go into this decision, i.e. ease and availability of local produce, cost, etc., however I have been doing some research on some arguements on why to eat locally if you’re on the fence about it.  Take a look at what I’ve found.

  • When you buy direct from local farmers, your dollars stay within your community, and strengthen the local economy.
  • More than 90¢ of every dollar you spend goes to the farmer, thus preserving farming as a livelihood and farmland.
  • This is important because as mergers in the food industry have increased, the portion of your food dollar paid to farmers has decreased. Vegetable farmers earn only 21¢ of your dollar; the other 79¢ goes to pay for marketing, distribution, and other costs.
  • CSAs (community supported agriculture) and farmers’ markets provide farmers with close to 100% of the food dollar (minus a fee or small percentage paid to the market for maintenance).
  • Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually sold within 24 hours of being harvested while on the other hand, food purchase in super markets, on average, travel 1,518 miles from field to fork.

Michael Pollan's Food Rules

I also want to invest in some reading material to help continue my knowledge about where my food comes from and what goes on “behind the scenes” before the food hits the table.  My first purchase was Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual which was recommended to me by a friend.  This book has some basic, and witty, guidelines to eating wisely.  My favorite being “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”.  He gives a really funny example about ‘pseudo butter’ and GoGurt.  I strongly recommend this one…it was money well spent!

Here are some other books that I am planning on purchasing (further reading, cookbooks, etc.)

Eating Local by Janet Fletcher

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Edible by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian

One of these days, I’m going to have a house with a yard so that I can have my own garden.  I don’t see that happening any time soon but it is a definite goal/plan of mine.  I purchased this beautifully letter pressed calendar a few months ago at Austin’s first Renegade Craft Fair.  I currently have it hanging in our kitchen purely because I love it’s design, however, one of these days I’m going to use it as a produce planting guide as well.  It was made by Krank Press.  I purchased the calendar that was specific to the items that grow best in Texas, however they have several different versions of the calendar based on your location.  Check it out!

Texas Produce Calendar by Krank Press




Sometimes its strange for me to look at all of those in my life and see how different all of our lives have become and at how many different places we are in. People from my hometown, high school, college, people at work–those who are important and dear to me seem increasingly spread out all over the place.  Maybe it was because I was raised in a relatively small hometown or that I went to the same school from kindergarten until I left for college, but I was always under the impression that friends were easy to make and plentiful.  Then, I chose to go to college at the University of Alabama where I knew only two people on campus (my cousins) and made the move 9 hours away from little Texarkana, TX and said goodbye to my comfort zone. I was lucky here too and God looked out for me.  I joined a sorority, got involved with the Honors college and various other organizations and before I knew it I had more friends than I knew what to do with.  And, I love each of them dearly.  I will say I have always been one to be on the outside of groups though.  I can say this is not by conscious choice, though I have to believe that subconsciously this must be the way I like it…though I don’t understand it. What I mean by that is my friends have always been spread between many groups of people.  I get uncomfortable if I get too settled with one, narrowly set group of people–like I’m being close-minded or turning my back to others that I could meet or befriend.  So I guess that’s why I’ve always felt that I never had a set “group” to call my own.  Oddly enough, whenever I start over in a new place, that is always what I look for. Inevitably, I either do not find it or if I do I at some point distance myself.  I don’t know any other way to explain it.  Maybe I’m a wonderer…I think there is a song with those words in it somewhere…ha.

After William and I got married and moved to Austin, the most difficult reality of “growing up” that hit me was making new friends.  I’m not sure what changed, whether it be that I got married at a young age, maybe I changed in some way…I don’t know but I have decided in the past few months that being a grown up and making new friends do not always come hand in hand.  I would consider myself an outgoing person so I can guarantee you, it’s not because I’m shy.  My life went from college, when I had a lot of time for socializing, to 8+ hour work days in a big city with a new job and a new husband and I’ve decided that growing up is tough stuff.

Luckily since we’re from Texas, we knew people here in Austin when we moved (these people were life savors in the beginning, so thank you!!).  After a while though, like I said, I become restless.  I get this need to meet new people–expand my horizons.  William is involved with an awesome studio here in Austin, the Public School which has given us some great friends and so many opportunities to meet new people.  I have gotten to know several people that I work with fairly well, though, at my age most people are not married so this has posed a problem in a few situations.  Not that I am opposed at all to having single friends–a girl needs her girlfriends–however, I have found that a lot of people don’t want to go out on Friday or Saturday night with “the married girl”.  William and I also are still searching for a church home.  He and I are very strong in our faith and are hoping that a church home will provide a stable group of friends for us. However, we haven’t found a place that we feel is where God wants us which is frustrating, but I am being patient that we will find it in God’s timing.

So that’s it!  After you take those things into account, you’ve wrapped up about 90% of our week days which seems to leave such limited time for meeting new people.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying about this and have come to two realizations.  First, it’s not just me.  Meeting new friends when you’re an adult is hard and I would say especially hard when you’re married.  That includes the added complications of single friends vs. couple friends, if both spouses like/get along with the other husband and wife, etc. etc. This has provided a little comfort to me as I went through a few weeks there that I was afraid I was going to have to become a hermit. Ha!  Secondly, making friends is no longer a ‘reactive sport’.  Time is limited and meeting new people and building new relationships is 100% PROactive.  I need to make a conscious effort to continue the relationships with those I already know and love, and we have to try very hard to find ourselves in situations to ‘put ourselves out there’ to meet new people.  The way I look at it, William and I are “dating” for new friends.

We have come up with several ideas for the two of us individually and us together to make efforts to continue to bring new people in our lives.  Here’s what we’ve come up with!

  • Make it our priority to find a church home here in Austin where we can meet friends and find accountability for our faith.
  • I joined a book club (again…the reading obsession) at a local book store Book People .
  • I also joined the local alumnae club for my college sorority–yay for new girlfriends!
  • Volunteering.  Both of us want to give back to our community–this is something we will do together most likely.
  • Joining various organizations (i.e. Slow Food Austin–read about that on Thursday’s post).
  • Make an effort to have people over/go out with friends we don’t spend much time with–it is important to continue to build existing friendships as they are our support system.

I think this will be a priority and struggle for us for the rest of our lives.  William and I both feel a burden to continually expand our group of friends.  Not only to be accountable for others but to learn from them as well.  I think maybe some people come to a point in their lives where they feel there are just too many people to juggle and it becomes overwhelming.  William and I are the opposite which is why we feel so strongly about continuing to make new friends.  I know I’ll never feel like I have enough friends…I think it’s impossible.

So, I think that’s it for the day…no pictures, no images, nothing very exciting.  Just an honest view into my life–my desire to not become settled in my comfort zone, to not be closed to meeting new people and learning from them.  If you’ve struggled with this and have words of wisdom, they are more than welcome–leave me a comment, I am always in need of wisdom.  In the meantime, for all of those who are my friends who are reading this, you are wonderful and precious to me and I am thankful for you.  And for those who I don’t know or haven’t had the chance to meet, I hope this is not always the case, I hope we meet someday.

Just because I love him.  We’ve been married for 553 days today. That seems like so many days but our wedding still feels like it was a week ago.  I am working on several blog posts on this Saturday afternoon but I just wanted to take a short second to share my love, appreciation, and admiration for my sweet husband.  He truly is the best gift God has ever given to me.  What a lucky lady I was to snag this guy when I was 12!  Ha!  I hope all of you reading have had the chance to meet my other half.  He’s wonderful.

I will have a lot of new posts for next week (as I am finishing 7 new ones right now), so thanks for reading and here are some of my favorite pictures of me and Mr. Fancy Pants for your enjoyment.

I love you sweetheart.

My college graduation. You can tell by his face that he was REALLY happy to be there.

Engagement Photo

At the courthouse getting our marriage license. I look like I'm 12 years old here...maybe not 12 but definitely not old enough to get married! I was though, I guarantee it! Our marriage is legal. Don't fret.

Party before our wedding.

How handsome is he?!

Love our faces in this one while we cut our wedding cake.

On our honeymoon!

Our first Christmas. Yes, I did make him pose in front of our Christmas tree.

Our one year wedding anniversary at Big Cedar. I look terrible but I love his smile in this one. It was so very cold in this picture!

I have taken a decorating hiatus in the past few months.  Any of you who have decorated a home before know that it’s fun for a while and then you get to a point when it becomes a chore.  Your ideas and limitations for and with the space begin to out number your funds and that’s my clue to take a step back.  Fortunately, my breaking point came at a time when I was pretty pleased with the state of the place so I just deemed it ‘finished’.  That said, I still have a few things up my sleeves.  Namely artwork.

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning one evening and happened upon the Ovation Channel on TV(one of my new favorites).  What caught my eye about it while flipping through our guide was that the show was about Phantom of the Opera–my all time favorite musical.  It was called Behind the Mask: The Making of the Phantom of the Opera (read more here).  I, as well as William, became engrossed in this show!  I had never heard or read anything about the production and drama leading up to the debut of one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time.  The show followed the original Broadway production, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber for his wife Sarah Brightman from the writing of the scores to casting to opening night in London’s West End in 1986.  Surprisingly, I learned that the story of the Phantom and young Christine ironically mirrored Webber and Brightman’s relationship and she was his muse in composing the score.

All of that to say, there were several interviews from Harold ‘Hal’ Prince, the director of the musical, during the show and I found him very intriguing and I soon found out why.  Immediately following Behind the Mask, there was a documentary on Harold.  I have always had a deep love and appreciation for the theater, though I will be the first to admit I don’t know that much about the major players. Clearly.  As I watched this documentary I quickly realized that Harold Prince had directed about 90% of my favorite plays and musicals.  This man is a genius.

Some of my favorites of his: Damn Yankees, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera, Cabaret, A Little Night Music, and Follies.

In all of the interviews with Harold during his documentary, they had him positioned in front of a wall that was filled with posters from all of his productions (I’m finally getting around to my point…) which started William and I thinking.  My parents, who are also huge theater buffs, have collected a poster from all of the shows they have seen on Broadway.  They are all framed and line an entire hallway in the home that I grew up in.  I love the idea of this, however, William hates the design and artwork in half of the posters.  In the documentary, Harold was in front of the original Broadway posters whose artwork was AMAZING!  William and I decided that looking for the vintage Broadway posters would be an awesome mix of our interests.  Here are some that we are looking at to continue the decoration of our walls in our apartment:

Show Boat

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

West Side Story

The Music Man

The Pajama Game


Fiddler on the Roof

There are more that I like better than these designs but I cannot seem to find them.  My search is about to turn to ebay though I avoid ebay like the plague.  Oh well!

So, William and I traveled to London, England with my family last week for a little family vacation.  We had such a good time!  We spent 4 days in the city and spend two days traveling around.  We visited Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Bath, Stratford-Upon-Avon, the Cotswolds, and Oxford.  It was a jam-packed trip full of sight-seeing and lots of history (which my dad and I particularly enjoy).

Back in the day, before digital cameras, I took just as many pictures as I do now with my handy dandy PowerShot.  The difference being I used to print out all of my millions of pictures and they now sit, sadly collecting dust, in photo boxes and photo albums, books, and scrapbooks in my closet at my parent’s house.  Ever since we got married, I have broken my need to have a physical copy of each picture I take–other than our wedding photos and the occasional picture that I print to hang or display in our apartment.  I am glad that I am not printing pictures just for the sake of printing them (I’m sure Walgreen’s greatly misses me in the photo department) though I do miss having them to look at other than on my computer screen.

So, when I got home and began uploading my 393 photos that I took during our vacation, I remembered reading about the photo books that you could make using iPhoto.  I did a little research on it and decided it was the perfect solution! You can pick your design template and then you just start adding photos!  I am trying to do ours in order of our week so that I can remember our trip better. Here are some screenshots of how the design is coming:

Day 1: These photos are from the first day of our trip. I love this layout and the captions on the right page.

Here's a spread with a full page picture and a page with four pictures. The pages in the book itself will be around 8.5 x 11" so you can judge the size of pictures we'll get with that.

Day 2: Pictures of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Side note, that is my new hat...and I love it!

Here is what the photo book will look like when it’s printed:

Several of the options that are listed on the website I didn’t have the option to use because I don’t have the most current version of iLife.  (trying to get that update–side note).  That said, I picked the ‘Modern Lines’ theme for our book. On the inside of the book there are several opening pages that I am writing little memories about our trip and a little ‘table of contents/outline’ of our trip.  Shh…I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I am hoping that if I am really really sweet, William will draw something really great for the front cover. Here is what we’re working on right now.

London famous buildings/skyline:

But hand-drawn in Mr. Fancy Pants style like he did for the Picture Book Report project he’s working with (See Big Ben and the Tower Bridge already drawn below):

I am really warming to this idea for our photos.  What a great way to have a physical product of our pictures/memories without taking up a whole lot of space!  AND it’ll be a new addition to our bookshelves!

You can see the rest of our photos from our amazing trip here: