inspired adjective
- of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

JR in NY!

French graffiti artist & recent TED Prize Winner JR is in the South Bronx- partnering with the Bronx's Hunts Point Alliance for Children in a community participatory art project of photos taken by community members themselves. This project is entitled "Through a Mother's Eyes" and the images are being plastered all around the Bronx by the people who live there.

One of the women told the New York Times, "The project [is] trying to counteract the one-dimensional view of the South Bronx. We want you to see things the way the women who are pillars of our community do, and imagine what that would be like,” she said. “It means that we can see ourselves, and be seen by others, differently.”

JR's artistic ability to truly empower community members through these projects is amazing (and I love that he has set his sights on the Bronx and the beautiful people there!). See more via The Gothamist, the Inside Out Project's Facebook Page, and JR's website. Images via the Inside Out Project.

there's nothing more dangerous than someone
who wants to make the world a better place. - banksy

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the fun theory.

Cheers to creative solutions. Volkswagon's initiative 'The Fun Theory' is based on the idea that incorporating fun can influence behavior in a positive way (& it works!).

Monday, June 27, 2011

meatless monday

I really do love Meatless Mondays for allowing me to think out of the box and get into different veggies & grains that I may not have previously experimented with. Lately I have been trying to cook with different types of mushrooms and have since become a huge fan of Portobellos and all that you can do with them. Plus, they are a great substitute for meat as they are so flavorful and filling. Tonight I made BBQ Portobello & Spinach Quesadillas. It may be my new favorite Meatless Monday quick dish. I made only a single serving, but you can double as needed:

2 Portobello Mushrooms (scoop out the underside brown gills & dice into small pieces)
1/4 of an onion, chopped
at least 1 fist-full of baby spinach, chopped
I chose a mix of sharp cheddar & mozzarella cheese, but you can use your favorite
BBQ sauce (a little over a tablespoon)
Whole wheat tortilla
Canola Oil, Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Cilantro

  1. Coat pan with a tiny amount of oil & saute the mushrooms over medium-high heat for 5 min or so.
  2. Add onions, season with S&P and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add spinach and allow spinach to wilt.
  4. Place mixture in a bowl and combine with BBQ sauce & spices to taste
  5. Coat a large pan with a bit of oil over medium heat and place the tortilla down. Add cheese & BBQ mixture. Fold tortilla in half with the mixture and allow to cook until golden brown on both sides. Cut and enjoy!

Who needs meat when you have mushrooms?
See also Portobello Cheeseburgers or Grilled Stuffed Portobellos. Yum.


Things I love: guilty pleasure '90s throwbacks, Justin Vernon, beautiful pianos, solid covers. Done.

And did you catch my other favorite?

still life.

I really like the way Miky Wolf did this video for The Decemberists' song "Down by the Water." Have you ever seen the French short film La Jetée? I was reminded of it by this video because the whole film consists of still photographs (except for one fascinating shot near the end). It is the only film I have seen where this technique is used, and it is really interesting. If you are ever in the mood for a dark, subtitled, love-of-photography filled movie, I'd recommend it.

Hope you had a great weekend! Ours was full of picnics in the park, organic beer, and live music--can't complain! Happy Monday!

Friday, June 24, 2011

guest post | summer afternoon mix.

With summer finally here and all of the roadtrips, outdoor picnics, and beach days it brings, I figured songs for summer were in order. So I asked my talented music feen of a boyfriend to put together a mix and he's kindly obliged me. We are off to enjoy some organic beer at the North American Organic Brewers Festival this weekend. In a land of frequent brewfests, I have heard that this is one of the best (plus, sun, live music, and organic beer? yes, please!). Hope you have a wonderful weekend! Thanks to Mike for this guest post, enjoy!

Hi. I'm Mike.
And when I'm not cramming into photobooths with Mary I post choice playlists over at The Soundtracked Life.  Since Ace of Base and Bon Iver only last so long into the summer Mary has asked me to compile a summer mix as a guest post. So here are some tunes to throw on while you tidy up the apartment, wash the car and have a summer seasonal.  It's full of acoustic guitars, choir-like harmonies and carefree sentiments.
I hope you like it.

  1. Beach HouseZebra (Teen Dream , 2010)
  2. Dolphins Galaxy Train (Galaxy Train EP, 2011) | Australian surf rock. Nice!
  3. Jacuzzi BoysBricks or Coconuts  (Bricks or Coconuts 7”, 2010) | I jumped the gun and put this on a mix for friends during the winter, but it didn't really go well with the below 40 temperatures.
  4. M. WardGet to the Table On Time (The Transfiguration of Vincent, 2003)
  5. Vetiver - Everyday (Tight Knight, 2009) | Tight Knit is one of my favorite albums ever.  It reminds me of driving to different surf spots at the Jersey Shore in our '83 Mercedes wagon.
  6. De La SoulEye Know (Three Feet and Rising, 1989)
    Sampling Steely Dan, Sly & The Family Stone and Otis Redding in one song is ok with me.
  7. Oregon Bike TrailsHigh School Lover (High School Lover, 2011)
    Keeping my eye on this kid.  Buy it for a buck here.
  8. Vetiver - Can't You Tell (Errant Charm, 2011) Released last week.
  9. James Yorkston - Someplace Simple (Someplace Simple EP, 2003)
  10. Washed OutEyes Be Closed (Within and Without, 2011)
      Perfect for driving at sunset. Free download (via SubPop)
  11. SubskrptWe’ll Be Fine (Throwing Stones EP, 2010)
  12. The O'Jay's - Use To Be My Girl (The Essential O'Jay's , 2005)
    For a completely different type of feel good dance music.
  13. The Sea & CakeEveryday (Oui, 2000)
    Proper acknowledgement goes to the Lost Art of the Mixtape for some recommendations.

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." -Henry James

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    the elements of creativity.

    I am loving Kirby Ferguson's brilliant 'Everything is a Remix' series. This is Part 3--a fascinating look into creativity and how innovations really happen. It truly speaks to the power of  gathering inspiration from other people, noting creativity and innovation as a remix of ideas that have come before us and been tweaked. What do you think?

    Catch the other two parts of Ferguson's series here (part 4 debuts in the fall).

    the personalities of ale

    How awesome are these beer bottle labels from designer Ashley Lewis? It took me a minute to realize the typeface letters. Lewis describes: "Dr. Butler was a crazy, unorthodox doctor during the 1700's, when Giambattista Bodoni was creating his famous typeface; Bodoni characters show Dr. Butler's multiple personalities and create a brand personality for Dr. Butler's Ale." So fun & unique.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    summer reading list.

    I just finished reading Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken and I am still quite speechless. Granted, it probably was not the most advisable thing for me to be reading a book in which engines start to fail and the plane goes down while I am 35,000 feet above land in tiny seat 24D. (Note to self: do not read books about planes going down while on a plane.) While I would not describe Unbroken as a light summer read for lounging at the beach, I definitely recommend reading this book. Hillenbrand, who wrote the bestseller Seabiscuit, is an unbelievably talented historian and writer. Her ability to dictate true life events in such a detailed yet immensely readable way is impressive. You are truly held captive by her words throughout the entirety of the book.

    Louis Zamperini
    The Amazon review notes: "Unbroken is the inspiring true story of a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed. In evocative, immediate descriptions, Hillenbrand unfurls the story of Louie Zamperini--a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. During a routine search mission over the Pacific, Louie’s plane crashed into the ocean, and what happened to him over the next three years of his life is a story that will keep you glued to the pages, eagerly awaiting the next turn in the story and fearing it at the same time. You’ll cheer for the man who somehow maintained his selfhood and humanity despite the monumental degradations he suffered, and you’ll want to share this book with everyone you know." 

    I lend my agreement to this praise as I am still in awe of the story I just finished. At times I found it difficult to read only because the capability of people to evoke such evil and inhumane brutality onto another human being is utterly unfathomable to me. However, amidst such an insurmountable evil  of war remains a breathtaking strength, goodness, and compassion that is sincerely remarkable. Zamperini's whole story will blow you away.

    Given my long travel days of this past weekend I was able to finish Unbroken and was thus in need of a Summer reading list. Here what I have put together so far:

    Summer Reading List 2011 : 

    Once Upon A River [Bonnie Jo Campbell] The description had me at "female Huckleberry Finn"
    An Optimist's Tour of the Future [Mark Stevenson]  Heard this was as interesting as it was funny
    In the Garden of Beasts [Erik Larson] I was a big fan of Devil in the White City & now on a WW2 kick
    The Fear [Peter Godwin]  For my love of Zimbabwe, left over from my Spring Reading List
    Lonesome Dove [Larry McMurty] I somehow missed the boat on this one, catching up
    Cutting for Stone [Abraham Verhgese] I love books that move through different countries
    What are People For? Essays [Wendell Berry] Can't get enough of W. Berry these days

    What's on your summer reading list?
    Any recommendations for me?

    "To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself 
    a refuge from almost all miseries of life."
    [w. somerset maugham]


    I thought that waking up to sunshine, a savored cup of coffee, and breezy bike ride to work made the start of my Wednesday too good to be true. Wrong! Day has been made even more. This is hands down my favorite song off Bon Iver's beautiful new album (plus, it is partly named after a bar in Portland). Makes me weak in the knees with its loveliness:

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011


    Happy First Day of Summer! 
    (I admit I was loving hearing this on almost every radio station this morning.)

    "and forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
    and the winds long to play with your hair." -kahlil gibran

    family .

    It was so great being with family this weekend. Everyone had a really wonderful time being able to catch up and spend time simply enjoying each other's company. The reunions are a great way to pull everyone from their busy lives to be in the same place for a weekend, which is pretty hard to do considering how spread out many family members are.

    When my great-great grandfather came over from Ireland, he made it of strong importance that family gatherings like this be carried on, and it really is amazing to see it carried out as the family has gotten so big (name-tags are necessary and detailed explanations on how one person is related to another can get quite confusing. It also makes it difficult that everyone seems to be named either Patrick, Joe, Mike, Mary, or Paige).  For myself and my cousins in this younger generation, it is neat to see the family history celebrated, and to feel like I am able to know this well-loved patriarch whom I am too young to have met. On that level, it is truly a gift to listen to older family members talk about what a wonderful man he was--telling stories of his integrity, strong work ethic, and compassion for other people. I think he would be glad to know that we have such a fun time in his honor:

    PS. I failed on my attempt at getting those old pictures! Its hard to be nostalgic when the resort decides to bulldoze the duck pond to extend the place! But I will get something to submit somehow, one of these days. Hope you had a great weekend!

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    weekend getaway !

    This weekend I am off to Pennsylvania for my family reunion! I've been looking forward to this weekend for a while as it only happens every four or five years. This year, family from across the country are all heading to a resort in the Poconos where I used to go on family vacations as a kid.  I haven't been back to this spot in over ten years, so it will be interesting to see what I remember.

    Above are two photos of my dad and I from one of those trips. You may not be able to tell, but I am winking in both of them. I went through a two-year stage as a child where, upon learning how to wink, I winked in every single photo taken of me. It is pretty hilarious looking through old albums to notice it.

    I am so excited to spend quality time with family (especially since I haven't seen most of them since Christmas or before) and am glad to be able to be with my dad for Father's Day! Not to mention how fun these family get-togethers are: the Irish can get quite rowdy and we certainly are very Irish. 

    A great weekend & Happy Father's Day to you!

    P.S. I am making it my mission to retake a picture of these photos in their original location for Dear Photograph! We shall see if it will be worthy to submit! :)

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    the beauty of a bike ride.

    "40% of all urban travel is 2 miles or less, and 90% of that is by car. Fight climate change simply by riding your bike. Sure, we appreciate that long ago the automobile changed the way the world works; but like anything, it’s best in moderation." -Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge

    Check out the GOOD Guide to Biking for the Planet
    and join the challenge to choose to bike instead of drive whenever possible.
    [Also, did you see this video?]

    sweet nostalgia.

    How awesome is this? The blog Dear Photograph posts submissions from people who "take a picture of a picture from the past in the present." Brilliant. Check it out here and submit one of your own.

    all photographs submissions taken from dear photograph.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Women to Drive!

    While I've been trying to bike or walk as much as I can instead of hopping in the car, I have a confession: I love driving. I really do. I enjoy contemplative drives at night, long road trips, loud music, and the fresh rapid air from having the windows down. Save being stuck in traffic, when I need to drive somewhere I really do enjoy being in the car. I remember how nervous I was to take my driver's test (I chatted the poor man's ear off the whole test) and how excited I was to get my first car (even though the speakers were totally blown out in the backseat making that loud music part a little difficult). Driving to me has always been a source of relaxation and freedom.

    However, as much as I love it, I have never thought of driving as a right. Until now.

    This Friday, women in Saudi Arabia will be risking arrest by joining in a national protest for the right to drive a car in the only country that actually bans women from being able to do so. For them, it is more than road trips to unknown places. The ability to drive a car is completely necessary to achieve economic freedom through the ability to get to work and/or school and contribute to society (not to mention the seemingly simple freedom of being able to go where you want to go).

    The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women noted in 2009, Saudi Arabia currently “severely limits women’s autonomy, freedom of movement and the exercise of their legal capacity” as well as “decision-making in family matters, education and employment.” This is a significant and necessary step for women in Saudi Arabia to claim the rights that they deserve.

    Lend your voice to support these inspiring women:
    Sign the Petition to Support Saudi Women's Right to Drive here.
    Watch this video of Manal al Sharif behind the wheel (she was then arrested & held for five days)
    Read more via this New York Times article.
    Check out the Facebook page and follow @Women2Drive on Twitter

    via Ms. Magazine

    oregon summer bucket list.

    Thanks to the lovely Jillian of Cornflake Dreams and her prompt for a blog linkup of summer bucket lists, I have written down the list that I have been making in my head for quite some time now. Granted I have been looking forward to this summer more than usual, as I have been eager to break into full-on exploration mode considering my limited time living out West. There is so much potential for wonderful outdoor adventures in Oregon, yet with the weather being rainy a good amount of the year, I have been eagerly anticipating the summer sun and the ability to get outside.

    the list includes:
    3. camp out at crater lake.
    4. visit deschutes brewery (and explore bend, oregon).
    5. go kayaking.
    6. fly a kite at the shore.
    8. get to tastings at the local wineries
    9. see a timbers game
    10. many long bike rides & outdoor yoga.
    11. as many local hikes as possible.
    12. take full advantage of the summer farmer's market.
    13. bbq's, watermelon, lemonade
    14. catch the outdoor concerts and free outdoor movie nights
    15. go berry picking
    16. unplug often, read more.

    and, most importantly: soak. it. all. in.
    because after all that I pack up my little car and make my way back east!

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    quote of the day

    "this world, after all our sciences, is still a miracle; 
    wonderful, inscrutable, magical." thomas carlyle

    go organic .

    Summer to me means ripe berries, simple salads, bbqs, and picnics outdoors. After reading Michael Pollan's 'In Defense of Food' and watching documentaries like Food Inc., I have been trying to be a more conscious consumer- a big component of which is trying to eat organic foods as much as possible. While I definitely think that spending a little more at the supermarket for quality organic foods is worth the health & environmental benefits, it can get pricey pretty fast for a girl on a tight budget. That is where the  Environmental Working Group's Food Guide comes in. They put together a list of foods that are low in pesticides (thus you can afford to buy conventional) and foods that literally soak up pesticides (and the conventional are best bypassed for the organic).

    The EWG  advocates for buying organic whenever possible (if not for  sake of lower pesticide exposure then for the sake of supporting environmentally friendly farming, as well) but do acknowledge that it can become expensive and hence created this guide. The guide notes: "If you choose 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day from EWG's Clean 15 rather than the Dirty Dozen, you can lower the volume of pesticide you consume daily by 92 percent, according to EWG calculations. You'll also eat fewer types of pesticides. Picking 5 servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 most contaminated would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day." 

    Topping the 'Dirty Dozen' of contaminated conventional foods:

    2. Celery
    3. Strawberries
    4. Peaches
    5. Spinach

    Topping the 'Clean Fifteen' of conventional foods lowest in pesticides:

    1. Onions
    2. Corn
    3. Pineapple
    4. Avocado
    5. Asparagus

    You can download the full list here.
    More tips on eating local & organic on a budget here.
    Read more about the benefits of organic here.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    an artsy weekend.

    This weekend we stumbled upon an amazing open studios event down by the water in the industrial part of Portland. The North Coast Seed Building consists of three warehouses constructed in the early 1900s.  They housed mainly seed companies until the spaces started to be informally sold to artists in the 80's, when the rooms with their unique doors and exposed brick were transformed into studios. A strong community of over 50 artists formed and has been able to thrive under the strong support of a few city officials and the building owner.

    Once a year, the studios hold an open house for the public. Mike found out about the event online, and it was so awesome to be able to meet the artists in their workspace (the plentiful free food & wine didn't hurt, either ;). Some of our favorite work was of the painter Douglas Davidovich. We were privileged to talk with him about the inspiration behind his pieces and his experience living in Portland as an artist--namely the community at North Coast and the support for the art community as a whole.  The building itself has so much character between its old freight elevator, rustic wood floors, and unique stairwells. Many of the studios had live music for the event, and there was a larger group playing every instrument imaginable (including a guy whistling into a beer jug) in the hall. We felt like we had been transported to another (quite heavenly) universe.

    The Miami Horror show at Missisissipi Studios Friday evening was so much fun. They ended with a cover of Paul Simon's 'You Can Call Me Al' that sincerely may have made my life. Saturday we caught the tail end of the Rose Festival's Dragon Boat race and people-watched at a happy hour along the waterfront. It was fun to see the city so lively with carnival rides, parades, and live music. 

    We also did get to seeing Midnight in Paris, and I really enjoyed it. Having just finished Hemingway's A Moveable Feast last month, it was fun to see so much of his words come to life through the scenes and cast of characters that was the community of expat artists in 1920's Paris.  The beautiful shots of the city shown mainly at the beginning of the film and throughout made me a bit nostalgic for the week I spent in Paris after having studied abroad in Ireland. It is such a romantic and lovely place. Despite not being sure how I felt about Owen Wilson (in all of his Owen Wilson-ness) throughout the film, I really liked it and would recommend, for sure. 

    an amazing hat shop that may be my new favorite store.
    delicious seared ahi tuna at a restaurant by the water
    happy hour on a sunny saturday!

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    have a great weekend !


    Have you seen this adorable video yet? Most inspirational kid.
    Read author Jonathan Franzen's brilliant commencement speech: Liking is for Cowards

    It is Rose Festival season out here, Portland's biggest annual celebration, and this weekend there will be a famous dragon boat race along the Willamette River along with other fun outdoor events. We are going to go see Miami Horror play tonight at Mississippi Studios, a fun venue next to one of our favorite bars & burger joints. I am also hoping to catch Midnight in Paris at some point, I've heard good things about it (have you seen it yet?). Have a fun weekend!

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    more powerful than music.

    When I was searching for the YouTube of Anis Mojgani's 'Shake the Dust' performance for yesterday's post I found another video & website entitled 'Shake the Dust.' It turns out to be a beautiful documentary on youth from around the world and their source of hope in seemingly hopeless circumstances through hip-hop and break dancing.

    In college I knew a great teacher who was passionate about the beginnings of hip-hop culture in the Bronx--namely the transformative power that hip-hop had in enabling impoverished & underrepresented youth to have a voice. At the opening picnic for a service program we did with incoming freshmen to introduce them to the Bronx, this teacher would talk adamantly about the importance of hip-hop's transformation of the city, and would even bust out his best rendition of Grandmaster Flash. It is so amazing to see here that same power at work across the world, inspiring and uniting the youth in so many hard-pressed countries.

    I love when filmmakers capture cultures, stories, and issues in such a beautiful way. In reading or watching the news from around the world we can so naturally become accustomed to statistics and/or generalities--more often than not surrounding what is negative or threatening. Thus it can become easy to lose touch of the actual people, the beautiful faces, and each of the individual hopes, dreams, and stories they possess until we travel or see something like this. (It ignites my travel bug, for sure.) Check it out:

    Shake the Dust - Yemen from Loose Luggage on Vimeo.

    "From its inception, hip-hop was a source of energy, community, strength, expression, and passion.  And in the years since its inception, hip-hop has become far more than just a musical genre or style of dance– it has stretched itself across the globe as one of the most influential and trend-setting sub-cultures that exist."

    Check out more on Shake the Dust's website and help spread the word.
    (photo credit Shake the Dust)

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    shake the dust .

    I love spoken word poetry. It has the ability to pack so much power and presence into rhythmic beats,  often consisting of thought-provoking issues or moving personal experiences. When I lived in New York City, I loved to head down to the Lower East Side on a Friday night to catch the poetry slams at the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe. It was common to be moved to tears by the power of the  captivating poems the talented men & women would perform. This is one of my favorites, by the ever articulate Anis Mojgani:

    [thanks to mandy of prettier world for finding this high-quality version!]

    image via tumblr