Friday, September 30, 2011

friday confessions

 Confession: I want to enter ArtPrize.

Did you see this coming? I gush about ArtPrize basically 24/7 to anyone who will listen, so it's only natural that I should dream of entering it myself.

Seems plausible, right? Except for one minor detail. I'm not an artist. At all.
I'm creative (ish) and can (usually) visualize how I want something to look; problems (always) arise with the execution. Whenever I attempt something artistic, the final product never matches what I pictured. Talk about frustration. I'm not sure where the disconnect is, but it's maddening.

Around this time last year, I was struck with a Big Idea. You know the kind. This Big Idea was a concept for an ArtPrize entry. And it's seriously a good one. The concept is simple yet meaningful; it encapsulates my love for the people and city of Grand Rapids. It would be a fairly simple project, just time-consuming. (And may or may not involve Polaroid film, which is difficult to come by.) But if done correctly, it would have the potential to really make a statement.

Fun fact: I actually started this blog last year to document the evolution of said Big Idea. I alluded to it waaay back in my first-ever post. As you may have noticed, things haven't quite gone according to that plan.

I just don't have the confidence to take the leap. The scale of ArtPrize is so intimidating. Artists, real artists, from all over the world enter. Real artists with real talent. I'd be afraid that my "art" would look like a stick figure next to the Mona Lisa.

But then again, who knows unless you try? Right?

And there it is: a secret I haven't told anyone except for my husband and my parents. Maybe setting the idea free into the universe will give me the courage to take the plunge. Maybe?

Thanks for listening. Happy Friday, friends.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

midweek rambles

+ It has been pouring here off and on for days. I'm grateful for the rain and for fall weather, but this is really crimping my style.
+ Like Alexander, I'm having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I don't want to whine and complain, but I really just want to go back to bed and start all over.


+ I baked peanut butter honey cookies last night to send to my grandpa as a (very) belated birthday present. I added a spoonful of Michigan honey to the dough at the last minute. I'm glad I did--they tasted wonderful!
+ I'm really, really, REALLY excited to see this documentary. Sesame Street Muppets never fail to make me smile. So far, there are no plans for this to come to Michigan. I might just have to take a day trip to Chicago to see it...

+ I finally hopped on the bandwagon and joined Pinterest. I'm still unsure  exactly how to navigate it. Any suggestions?
I hope you're having a lovely Wednesday. Only 2 days until the weekend!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

an ArtPrize weekend, act II

Looking for the beginning of our ArtPrize weekend? Go here.

After exploring the Grand Rapids Public Museum, we crossed the river and headed over to the B.O.B. (After snagging some pumpkin spice lattes at the Amway Starbucks, of course.) The B.O.B. is four-story restaurant/bar/comedy club/dance club. B.O.B stands for Big Old Building. Nice.

A large portion of their art is displayed outside in their parking lot. (Which I've never actually seen used as a parking lot. Fun fact.) 
Showing at the B.O.B.:

Taking Project 365 to a new level.

A Year Through Our Eyes
Todd & Brad Reed
Ludington, MI

Giant praying mantis. Very Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

Mantis Dreaming
Bill Secunda
Butler, PA
Bronze statues...or are they? This is a perfect example of how ArtPrize strives to redefine art.

Under Construction
LiveStatue & Friends (Robert & Jasper Shangle)
Sparta, MI

Octopus. YES.

Ocean Exodus
Paul Baliker
Palm Coast, FL
From the B.O.B. we hopped next door to the Huntington Building.

(Sorry for the poor picture quality of the following pictures. My camera battery died, so I had to resort to my phone...which then also died. Way to be prepared, Molly.)

I loved this idea. Each hen represented a woman (or type of woman) throughout history. Check out Amelia. She's missing because she flew the coop. Haha!

Changes in the Hen House
Joan Game
Iron Mountain, MI
The three blind mice have a guide dog, who happens to be chasing a cat (off camera). This was made entirely out of papier-mâché.

Blind Faith
Lori Hough
Fremont, MI
Loved this drawing, which was done using 123 plain ol' ballpoint pens. There was no light source in this picture. The lighting effect was created entirely by the hand of the artist.

Blackfoot Chief
Richard Mitchell
Phoenix, AZ

And I'll leave you with Rusty, a dog sculpture made out of old stop signs, Michigan license plates, scrap metal, and tree branches. Like any dog, this little big guy is loving all of the attention he's receiving over at the GR Public Museum.

Ritch Branstrom
Rapid River, MI
Rusty is a Yooper and is gracing us Trolls with his presence from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

We're planning on heading to the GR Art Museum (GRAM) and the Urban Institute for the Contemporary Arts (UICA) this week. Stay tuned!

What's your favorite?

Monday, September 26, 2011

an ArtPrize weekend

Fall weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and great art makes for truly wonderful weekend.
During ArtPrize, the venues are classified by neighborhood: Hillside; Heartside; Center City; Westside; Monroe North; and The Gardens.
Kyle and I proudly call Hill Side (known also as Heritage Hill) home. We spent the weekend exploring the Center City and West Side neighborhoods, where a large portion of the art is located. This area includes the B.O.B, the Blue Bridge, as well as 3 museums.
Between losing power, running various errands, and a few home improvement projects, we didn't go ArtPrizing at all on Saturday. We made up for it on Sunday by going to the GR Public Museum, the B.O.B., the Huntington Building; and the surrounding areas.
I think this was my favorite:

Christopher Weed
Colorado Springs, CO
This was located just outside of the Public Museum, overlooking the Grand River and the Blue Bridge. It felt like something out of a children's book.
I also loved this:
Lynda Cole

Ann Arbor, MI
Also showing at the Grand Rapids Public Museum:

This literally took my breath away.
Untitled no. 1 (from the peculiar manifestation of paint in my life)
Jennifer Cronin
Chicago, IL
Anything involving vintage suitcases and antique glass has my attention...and the title says so much. 
Defining Baggage
Joseph Ivacic
Chicago, IL
I'm fairly certain I was never this talented with Legos. 
Nathan Sawaya
New York, NY

Kyle said he's pretty sure that this was inspired by a He-Man action figure, which of course he had as a kid.

Peter Koelsch
Metamora, OH
Monkeys hanging off the Blue Bridge. Reminds me of The Wizard of Oz.

Metal Monkey Mania
Dale Rogers
Haverhill, MA
Check back tomorrow for more from our ArtPrize weekend!

mahna mahna

Happy ((belated)) Birthday, Jim Henson!


(The Other) Henson

Friday, September 23, 2011

friday confessions

It's baaack...

Confession: I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

((Confession II: I'm totally about to pull a George Costanza here.))
Sometimes, I feel like I come across a bit flighty because I'm always changing the direction of my career-related goals. To be fair, I've always been this way. My interests change constantly; ebb and flow...As a child, my career aspirations ranged from teacher to journalist, author to actress, archeologist to the person who draws the lottery numbers. Bouncing daily from one potential career to another is every much a part of the average childhood as Saturday morning cartoons; but doing it as a twentysomething college graduate just makes me feel like a flibbertigibbet.

Case in point...

Careers I'm Currently Contemplating:

+ Cafe owner

+ Elder advocate

+ Children's book author

+ Apron maker and seller on Etsy

+ Dog walker

+ Copy editor

+ Beekeeper

+ ____________ expert (I haven't decided on what yet.)

I sometimes envy the people who have always known what they want to do with their lives. Take Kyle for instance. From the time he was in middle school, he knew he wanted to be an actor. He's talented. He's a hard worker. He went to college, got a degree in it. And now, he's an actor. Sure, he's a bank teller by day to make ends meet, but by night he's a professional actor with an area Shakespeare company. He just makes it seem so simple, so easy. While I, on the other hand, announce one day that I'm going to be a beekeeper, and the next that I want to open up a thrift store.

Did I mention I have a political science degree? Weird. I'm not really sure how that fits in to the mix of everything, except perhaps my obsession with global conspiracies and the FBI.

Does anyone else ever feel this way? What's your dream career? Are you currently in it, or are you still searching?

Happy Friday, friends.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ArtPrize, day 1

ArtPrize officially kicked off Wednesday evening. YES.
Kyle and I walked downtown after work and enjoyed a few pieces along the way. This mural on the WMCAT Building was amazing.
Osborne, Schuster, Van Duinen, Bellomo
Grand Rapids, MI
Our destination was the Open Concept Gallery, located in the Center City neighborhood. The gallery is on the sixth floor of the Trade Center building; and formerly housed a Masonic temple. Our neighbor, Zora is the curator and executive director and invited us to the opening reception. This was a great place to begin our ArtPrize experience; gorgeous art at a breathtaking venue. Fantastic.
Open Concept Gallery
 Being a bit of a history nerd, this piece was my favorite:
Abraham, Martin and John
Sara Gauthier
Petoskey, MI
It commanded so much presence. In talking with a few other visitors, we all agreed that you felt very small standing next to it.
Followed closely by this series:

Heather Kelly
Detroit, MI
This piece had a really great concept. Text an anonymous wish to a provided number, and all of the wishes will be compiled into another piece of art following ArtPrize. Proceeds will go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Michigan.
Most artists typically hand out cards with their name, their piece of art, and their artist code so that you can vote for them. They're actually fun to collect.
The creator of wish went above and beyond had necklaces attached to her cards.

Isn't it pretty? The picture really doesn't do it justice.
More art:
Young Saints
Adrian Waggoner
Salt Lake City, UT
Quantam Confusion
Denise Stewart-Sanabria

Knoxville, TN
KT and the Second Coming
Adrian Hatfield

Ferndale, MI
This isn't even a fraction of the 1,500+ pieces of art on display across the city. I'm so excited to see more this weekend!
What pieces catch your eye? 
P.S. Check out the ArtPrize website to learn more about the art and the artists. Any pieces you run across that you think I need to check out? Let me know!

Monday, September 19, 2011

bridge run

I ran my first 5k on Sunday, along with Kyle and our friend Sarah.

Me, Sarah, & Kyle--right after I crossed the finish line.
I was really nervous, but I'm glad Sarah talked me into it. She was so encouraging!

I came in at 40:11. Slow and steady, but I feel good about it. I'm proud of myself for taking the plunge and trying something new.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I must say, Grand Rapids feels most alive in the fall. Hands down.
Just when everything else in nature is preparing to hibernate for the long, snowy months ahead, ArtPrize comes along and BAM!, suddenly you have something to occupy your evenings that doesn't involve Netflix and Two Minute Mug Brownies. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Part arts festival, part social experiment--this international contest is decided solely by public vote. (source)
Over a thousand artists from around the world fill downtown GR and the surrounding neighborhoods with art. Massive amounts of art. It's amazing, really. ArtPrize is unique in the sense that there are really no parameters set on the definition of art. Sure, you have your standard gorgeous paintings and blown glass sculptures, but there are also pieces on a much larger scale.
Like The Nessie Project from 2009.
Or Steampig from 2010.
Anything goes. Paintings. Music. Performance art. Photography. A giant table and chairs on a bridge.
And it really sparks conversation. At the height of the competition, it's all anyone can talk about. Normally a fairly quiet city, GR is flooded with hundreds of thousands of people during ArtPrize. I love the sense of community and pride that is felt so strongly over the course of the competition. The energy is palpable.
ArtPrize officially begins this Wednesday and runs through early October, although much of the art remains for much longer. I know what my evenings will be consisting of for the next few weeks.
I am so proud to call this place my home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

between the bookends (vol. I)

Welcome to the very first installment of Between the Bookends here at life is (grand)! Reading has been a lifelong passion of mine. I'm excited to share my thoughts on a few books, for whatever it's worth. Let me know what you think. I'm always open to recommendations; if you've read anything awesome lately, send it my way!

Now, without further ado...

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
Cover Image

This novel chronicles the life of the real-life Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell. Little is known about her personal life and her odd relationship with the eccentric Charles Dodgson. History would come to know Mr. Dodgson as Lewis Carroll, author of the Alice stories and nonsensical poetry. Alice I Have Been fills in the gaps that history has long forgotten, and provides an interesting perspective to the story we've all grown up with.

The Alice stories have long been a favorite of mine, probably because I've always felt a certain kinship with Alice and her daydreaming ways. While I loved the concept of this book, I wasn't crazy about the writing itself.

Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman 
Cover Image

This gothic-like novel tells the story of Jane Hudson, who is a Latin teacher at Heart Lake Academy, a girls boarding school in upstate New York. Herself a graduate of Heart Lake, Jane accepts a teaching position at her alma mater after separating from her husband. However, she is wary of returning; she is haunted by the deaths of her friends who committed suicide in their senior year. From the moment Jane sets foot back at Heart Lake, the events of her senior year begin to replay themselves with the current generation of students.

This was one of my favorite books in high school, and I came back to it this summer for an easy read. While I must admit that I didn't love it as much this time around as I did when I was 16, it is still a great read with an original and captivating story.

Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale, Jr. with Stan Redding
Cover Image

The basis for the movie starring Leonardo DiCapprio and Tom Hanks, this memoir-esque story recounts the exploits of conman Frank Abagnale, Jr. In a span of just a few years, Frank impersonated an airline pilot, doctor, lawyer, and college professor--all before the age of 21. He made thousands of dollars (quite the killing at the time) by writing phony checks and conning a variety of sources. Told completely by Frank himself, Catch Me If You Can truly makes the reader wonder if this story is the honest truth...or just another con.

This was a very interesting read. Frank is an arrogant a**hole, but he knows it, which somehow makes you not totally hate him.

What have you read recently? I'm in the mood for a book that will blow me away.

All images courtesy of Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I found this via Etsy last week, and I just can't stop laughing...

 Godzilla Does Right

Godzilla Does Right

Godzilla Does Right
According to the Etsy page, this guy was created for an art show in Brooklyn. The theme? "Rebuilding after disaster." Classic.

This has to be the funniest thing I've seen since this.

God, I have a weird sense of humor.

Monday, September 12, 2011

september goals

I love making goals for each month, and this summer I really got out of the habit. Blame it on the wedding and unemployment, or getting lost in Hogwarts, or maybe just my lack of initiative. Regardless of the fact that I graduated college last year, I still look at fall as a new beginning, a time to start fresh...and this is exactly what I'm intending to do. So, without further ado, here's what I hope to accomplish this month! (...that is already nearly half over. Yikes!)
**Complete my first 5k.
**Send out wedding gift thank yous.
**Clean and organize our entire apartment following post-wedding insanity.
**Create at least one of the craft ideas I have swimming around in my head.
**Get back in the swing of regular blog features, including a series centering around ArtPrize.
Near Aral Beach in Empire, MI
Fall 2008

I'm really looking forward to fall this year. Although this season is usually tainted for me because it preludes the inevitable massive Michigan snowfall, I'm determined to enjoy it to its absolute fullest this year. Pumpkin spice lattes, ArtPrize, Sam Adams Octoberfest, and a birthday trip to Mackinac Island...I'm ready to fall for fall.

oh, honey...


Have you ever had a harebrained idea that you just couldn't shake? An idea that every time it crossed your mind your stomach did flipflops and your mind raced with possibility? Something so random, yet so right, yet also so crazy?
I think I'm having a quarter-life crisis.

Friday, September 2, 2011

**American Dad!
Ok, I know this show is incredibly stupid, but it makes me laugh. Ok, Roger makes me laugh (no surprises there). But hey, laughter is a good thing, even if it's at the expense of a cross-dressing extraterrestial wino.
 **Thai food.
In recent weeks, Kyle and I have made it a tradition to get Thai for dinner on Sunday nights. It's become a way for us to wind down the weekend and relax. Erb Thai is a restaurant just a couple blocks from our house and it's seriously fantastic. My favorite is basil curry with tofu.
**Urban beekeeping.
Seriously. I've always had a bit of a fascination with bees, and I collect jars of various local raw honey like most people collect bottles of wine. I want a bee hive, but I'm not really into the idea of living in the country. Turns out, urban beekeeping is totally a thing! I'm not sure if this is a realistic endeavor for me right now, but I'm seriously researching it. I even splurged on this book last weekend. I would love to make my own honey! (With the help of the bees, of course.)

**Fashion and design daydreams.
Lately I feel like I've been in a bit of a rut with my wardrobe and house decor. I need to shake things up a bit. Rather than buying new things, I'm going to go the opposite way and purge our closets/storage room. I'm hoping having less will give me new perspective on what to do with things I already have. Repurpose and upcycle!
**(Pretend) Vacation planning.
Since returning from our honeymoon, I've been just dying to go on another vacation. I work near the airport, and from my office window and I can see planes taking off to their various destinations. I seriously debate about 12 times a day just hopping a jet to anywhere and calling Kyle when I get there to hop the next flight. Currently, we want to go on an Alaskan cruise, to Cancun, to every National Park, and to Paris. Hey, a girl can dream.

What are you currently loving?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

wedding day redux

The day began with rain; but ended with sunshine, dancing, and an impromptu cabaret.
Looking back, everything feels like blur, but it was so wonderful. We spent every minute surrounded by our amazing families and our closest friends who have become our family. I can honestly say that was the best part of our entire day.
I spent the morning getting ready with my bridesmaids, listening to Adele, and trying to breathe. My lovely friend Sarah did an amazing job on our hair. She has been doing my hair in her kitchen sink for 4 years now; but she recently moved with her husband across the state. We miss them like crazy, and I'm so glad she was able to take care of me on my wedding day.
 The ceremony was beautiful and so us. My dad walked me down the aisle to the theme from Somewhere in Time. I was so nervous, but I just never took my eyes off of Kyle. Our dear friends and former roommates, Arielle and Darion, sang Beautiful Surprise by India Arie; then Morgan (bridesmaid and BFF) read an excerpt from the book The Princess Bride, followed by Jeff (groomsman and BFF) reading a portion of 1 Corinthians 13 (Love is patient, etc., etc.). The message and prayer given by John, the campus minister at GVSU, our alma mater, was meaningful and so personal (and short!). The ceremony ended with Arielle and Darion singing Stand by Me by Ben E. King, and the new Mr. & Mrs. walking up the aisle to the theme from Superman. (Seriously.)
Then, we had fun in downtown GR taking pictures with the lovely Wendi & Bonnie of Wendi Curtis Photography. I currently only have a handful of the literal hundreds that she took, so I'll post a few more of our favorites when we get them.

The reception was wonderful and just so much fun. We walked in to Everybody Needs Somebody to Love from The Blues Brothers (Thank you, Dan Aykroyd.) and were met with insane amounts of excitement and applause. My dad recited a poem he had written, and we listened to amazing toasts given by Matt (best man and brother) and Shannon (maid of honor and BFF). I seriously cannot say enough how great it was to be surrounded by our beautiful family and friends. We felt so much love and support on that day, and always. We're truly honored.
Kyle and I danced our first dance as husband and wife (!) to Lucky by Jason Mraz (Kyle's pick). Then, we danced with our parents to Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. Kyle also sang to me a song he wrote, just for us. (I'll see about getting that video put up.) Later on, Morgan saved the day by making sure I got to dance to some Springsteen. (Because what's a wedding without Thunder Road?) We spent the rest of the evening dancing the night away with the greatest people on earth. Oh, and eating cake. Seriously delicious red velvet cake with 4 pounds of cream cheese frosting. Yeah, awesome.
As the evening began winding down, some of our friends serenaded us. Leave it to actors--everything has to be a performance. =) Our friends and family are seriously so talented. Arielle and Darion sang a song from Wicked (guilty pleasure #484832), and Morgan sang a bit of Elton John.
We really hated to see the day end.  It was so crazy, beautiful, and slightly messy. Not everything went as planned, but in the end, it didn't even remotely matter. A group of us lingered outside of St. Cecilia's around midnight, not wanting to say the last goodbyes. Many of our friends were leaving for grad school or returning to their various lives around the state and country, so it could be a long time before we're all together again.
I'm just so freakin' grateful for our family and friends. Our parents, bridal party, family, and friends are without a doubt the most wonderful people on the whole freakin' planet. As I said to Arielle, we only invited family to the wedding. Truly, our closest friends have become our family, and family is what matters. Period.
 And that was our beautiful blur of a day. I wouldn't change a thing.
All images courtesy of Wendi Curtis Photography.