Friday, October 30, 2015

Giving a Gift -- Something Personal

Giving Gifts:

It's that time of year when we are looking to share love, to share common meaning, and communicate something through a thoughtfully presented package.  I don't care for the obligatory money spent just to say a social more was checked off the list.  I'm the kind of person that would rather the money be saved for something more useful, like bills or food :).  But when it comes to communicating love through a gesture, something personal can strike a nerve of feeling.  I decided to put together a group of ideas of things that would really make a personalized impact for someone you care about.

It all started when I saw this:

Guess what it is!  Seriously.....guess....
It's a personalized doormat!  How fun is that for a music lover?  Make their last name look like a family band welcoming people to their party house.  Such a fun introduction.

And while you're on a music theme, you could grab these CD's, er....coasters to complete a set.

And to set on those about a set of guitar glasses!

And then every once in awhile they could switch out the vinyl record rug above to this super sweet 80's mixtape. Or just set it inside the door with the record on the outside, so as the guests enter they can step on vinyl, then cassette tape, and get handed their coaster CD :).
This I want for myself!  The look of a mixtape with handwriting takes me right back.  Personalizing things like monogrammed towels can be cliché, but when someone's name is added to something this hip I think it takes gift giving up a notch.  And especially if you know a music lover this could really be the unique gift that takes the cake.

I found all these great items when I started exploring this site looking for home décor.  It's a company that focuses on sustainability.  Not just for the environment but socially, as in paying a living wage and benefits to their employees.  That's important to me and a big reason I usually gift handmade.  I originally started on their site in search of a cool chandelier but then got sidetracked thinking of how fun it would be to give these personalized music theme gifts.

I'm curious what your mantra is this gift giving season.  Are you embracing "less is more" or doing things that are handmade?  Are you into themes like me?  Let me know in the comments! 

**This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods** 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Texas Roadhouse Rolls (&butter) recipe


Put the following in the mixer's bowl and let sit 5 minutes:

  • 1 1/2 C milk, microwaved a minute or two, and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 2 1/4 t yeast
Then add,
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T melted butter
Mix for a few minutes and then knead (with bread dough attachment) 1 to 2 more cups of flour in to make a soft dough.  Let the mixer knead it for 5-8 minutes.  Then grease the dough and bowl and cover with a moist cloth to raise for an hour.

After the rise, punch down the dough and roll into a rectangle on a floured surface.  Using a pizza cutter cut 24 squares out of the dough.  Place them a few inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Cover the pans and let rise another 40 minutes.  Then bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes.  Brush the rolls with (plain) butter when they are hot out of the oven.

Cinnamon Honey Butter

Whip the following with a whisk mixer attachment for several minutes:
  • 2 cubes butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1 t cinnamon

Friday, October 9, 2015

Reality TV, Househunters, journal thoughts

As I was preparing for a news interview, I took to my journal to lay out all my thoughts.  I wanted to get it down here on the blog with the other stuff:

My overall experience taping Househunters was fun.  I really enjoyed the acting, learning about the sound and the cameras and holding myself for the camera.  However, that was just 5 days of my life.  It's now been 8 years and I see the whole experience as rather exploiting.  Both of us, but mostly of the viewers.  From us they learned that people with kids need BIG houses.  I felt like a puppet and my face was used as part of a cultural message that wasn't at all helpful as the housing market imploded.

What surprised me during filming was how many takes we had to shoot.  Every short scene had several takes.  5 or 6 sometimes.  And we weren't stuttering or struggling.  They just wanted A LOT of tape to work with.  I was surprised how much acting was involved.  The producer coached each take for emotion, energy, and ideas of what to say.  They had pre-screened our looks, our voices, and our energy level, so it was extremely close to acting.  But they didn't have to pay us or work around a union.

If this had been reality - and about me as a person, not a character it wouldn't have been smooth or consise.  I love houses and I just sit and stare and drink in every detail.  For this taping I was told where to walk when, even how to glide my hand along the kitchen counters as I noted their color and condition.  I laughed that I felt like Vanna White or one of the "ladies" on The Price is Right as I did the hand twirl to showcase a particular house detail :).

I am still deeply uncomfortable when "reality" stars like the Kardashians are vilified as some kind of greedy sub-human species for our consumption.  They are people.  The television producers are salespeople.  They are casting that family (and every other subject) in a light as part of a story they have written.  Every look, every angle, every subtle conversation has often been coached first and then cut and edited together in order to tell the written story.  If we find it unethical to bully or hate an actor for the negative character they played in a dramatic movie, I think we have just as high an obligation to know the background and truth around our reality characters as well.  Their roles we watch are every bit as separate from who they are as a person.