Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Moving Cards!

Yesterday we talked about friends moving, and how it is difficult to stay in touch. When my old friend David moved to Texas, I wanted to show him how much we would miss him, since he left when things were a little hectic and we didn't have a full out goodbye. Instead of buying a generic card (which are great if you need a quick card!), I decided to put my free time to some use and make a moving card. This way, when he got to his new apartment, there would be mail waiting for him. And who doesn't love getting mail?!


1 pad water-color paper (8 X 12 in)
Set of watercolors
Package of greeting card envelopes (approx. 4 X 5 in)
Sharpie Fine Point permanent marker in black
Extra strong eraser

I traced a square that was 4 inches by 5 inches. Within the bottom left section, I free-handed a generously rough outline of a U.S. map. (By no means is this exact!) Using a black fine point Sharpie, I retraced lightly to ensure no bleed-through, and then erased over the entire square to get rid of any lurking pencil marks.

 I then watercolored Texas (the state to which David is moving) and also watercolored Wisconsin (the state he is leaving). David has always said he is going to live all over the place; he wants to see more. This way, as he travels, he can fill in every state. Kind of a color by number of where he has lived.
 The final product is pretty cute, with Hawaii and Alaska on the back. Now, I won't be doing this every week, but it's a great little gift that shows you care. Bonus, it's pretty low on time commitment, and you'll have plenty of leftover materials for future cards!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When Friends Move

One of my best friends recently moved all the way to Texas for an internship that has the potential of becoming a job. Of course, I'm incredibly proud of him, but I'm also a little saddened that he is so very far away. While we were at different colleges for several years, there was always that comfort of knowing every break we'd be in the same hometown; if we really wanted to get together, it was feasible. Now, flying down to Dallas just to talk about "Arrested Development" over hoagies is not the most practical plan.

So my question is this: When friends move, how do you stay friends? Does your relationship change dramatically? How does this logistically work? Do you call, Skype, send letters, text? I'd love your suggestions.

Obviously, we can't just meet up for tea anymore. I sent him a fun card for moving, but in all honesty, I will not be sending things by post every week. We also Skype occasionally, and are Facebook friends like everyone in the world, but I'm hoping to figure out this whole long distance friendship thing.

I'd appreciate your advice here. As friends graduate, is it natural to just drift apart? How do you continue those strong bonds from high school and college?

P.S. I found this photo on Pinterest, but can't seem to find the source. Anyone know it's origin?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Movie Buff Bracelet

Surprise! Another post (and about more movies!). I stumbled across this adorable bracelet for the ultimate movie junkie. I love the inside engraving "steal the show."Very cute, don't you think?

Must-See Movies

Speaking of movies, here are some films that I've either been meaning to see or am anticipating.

1. "Fruitvale Station" looks tragically insightful and human. Jamie Foxx called it "a movie for the ages."

2. The newest Woody Allen film "Blue Jasmine" is a loosely-based 21st Century A Streetcar Named Desire, but does not act like an impostor. Cate Blanchett, who played Blanche on broadway, apparently gives an electrifying performance as she slides from her economically high tower.

3. William Shakespeare and Joss Whedon finally meet as primarily sci-fi guru tackles "Much Ado About Nothing." The film isn't a period piece, but uses the original text, which makes it fun. As always, Whedon sticks with some of his classic mainstay heavy-weights like Nathan Fillion and Alexis Denisof. With a cast like that, it's got to be good.

4. Yes, I'm J.T. obsessed, but "Inside Llewyn Davis" looks great! ("Runner Runner" may, too, be good.) The Coen Brothers are almost always a sure hit, and Carey Mulligan has been on fire lately, so my hopes are high! Anticipated the end of this year!

5. Last, but not least, Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote and directed "Don Jon," which has been previewing in theaters for several months. With all the build-up, I'm hoping it's good. The preview is intriguing, and Levitt does not usually disappoint. With multi-talented and a smart actor/writer/director, the film has the potential to be huge.

What movies have you seen this summer that you would recommend? I have some free time coming up, so I'd love your suggestions! Furthermore, do you have any other suggestions for upcoming films? I'm often out of the loop for forthcoming projects, so give the details!

Photo via Tom Spaulding Flickr

{Weekend Update}...Movie Musings

I'll admit that while I love movies, I very rarely watch them (especially in theaters!) because I don't have the patience to sit for so long. Also, I find it incredible that theaters charge over eight dollars to see a film. Insanity! However, after a long and anticipated-ridden wait, I saw "Gatsby" at our local budget theater. And was I surprised! I had heard from many a fellow English major that the film was trite, over-bearing, ridiculous, "just too much," and Leo was "so Leo" for such a story. With all expectations in the negative, I watched in awe at the splendor of Luhrmann's interpretation. I would argue it's one of his most beautiful works. 

DiCaprio was not "too Leo" for me, but rather embodied the perfectly groomed Gatsby with whom so many readers fall in love. His old time, genial looks are pretty perfect for his pink suits, and slicked hair. The smile, the flawless gait and dancing, his speech patterns were beautiful. 

Yes, I did think his "old sport" line sounded a little funny, as some mysterious accent was only applied to those paired words. However, generally the delivery was elegant. 

Meanwhile, Carey Mulligan was lovely Daisy. She was dainty, entrancing, and vain. Her mannerisms were that a young, enchanting girl that didn't know what real life was. To me, she was stunning. On a sadder note, Toby Maguire was severely disappointing. His acting was fine, if not pleasing (despite the stupid trance-like stare he often does) throughout. Like Nick Caraway, he was a perfectly average guy amidst a magical set of elite. 

And then there is his narration. 

I quite enjoyed Luhrmann's use of Fitzgerald's text as scaffolding. As words bloomed, faded, danced across the screen the story unfolded. But Maguire narrated with such exaggerated lyricism that the narration the seriousness, the truth, the art and gravity of the story was lost. 

The cinematography and costuming redeemed any low points, though. A huge applaud should go out to the creative directors, including those (like Jay Z) curating the soundtrack . All in all, "Gatsby" is a masterful, deft interpretation of a legendary, acclaimed American story. 

Photo via

Friday, July 26, 2013


A "brief" review of the Legends of the Summer concert at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL:

The two performers appropriately named their brief summer tour, as the performance was nothing short of spectacular. Working hard to please the audience, the duo opened with "Holy Grail," which allowed Justin to kick off the concert with that beautifully haunting and melancholiac verse. Jay Z busted out lacking any inhibitions, pumping up the crowd for the rest of the concert.

The opening song was obviously appreciated after an hour wait, as the real show began at 9:20 instead of 8:00. However, approximately 140 minutes of perpetual music was an impressive trade-off. Never a lapse in energy, Jay Z and Justin effortlessly passed the torch, moving from song to song with beautifully mastered transitions. The variety of music was also refreshing.

Obviously, Jay Z has a more limited repertoire of style, but his selection of songs was thoroughly enjoyable, performing an enthusiastic "99 Problems," "Empire State of Mind," and "Jigga What, Jigga Who". Additionally, Justin played a ripping guitar accompaniment to "99 Problems" that solidified is music-legend, jack-of-all-trades status.

Moreover, Justin pulled out all the stops, playing piano, showing off his dance moves, and sining everything from "Mirrors" to "SeƱorita" to "Cry Me a River," and of course, "Sexy Back," which pleased everyone.

I, for one, really loved "New York, New York," a song that some locals with a chip on their shoulder didn't appreciate. Equally beautiful was their encore tribute to Trayvon Martin, "Forever Young." Justin's performance was breath-takingly honest, sincere, and beautiful. Clear, light, but strong, and almost angelic, the tribute was lovely. The most impressive part of the concert was their ability to be front and center, but also act as back up. Both are incredibly famous musicians, and sublimely talented; how very telling and refreshing that two musicians of that high caliber are willing to be the back up to the other. Something very rare, and very brilliant to see.

Ending the show in unison, "We are. The legends of the summer!" could not have been more apt for Jay Z and J.T.

Photo via Rolling Stones

Thursday, July 25, 2013

10 Reasons I Love Chicago

I am fresh off a vacation to my beloved Chicago. It's great to be back home, because there is something so indulgent about your own bed and hometown water; but Chicago is amazing, so here are some of my favorite things about it. 

1. It's like the less pompous, more relaxed NY. Lots to see, lots of culture, but no one puts on any airs. 

2. Speaking of culture, the museum scene is legit! I am in love with the Art Institute of Chicago (we saw an awesome exhibit called Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, which had the AIC staples A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte and Paris Street; Rainy Day!). The Field Museum is also awesome with Sue, the T-Rex.

3. Chicago's walkability is a delightful treat since living in The Twin Cities. I realize not all of Chicago is like this, but the downtown area, the parks, the theater scene, and museums are all easily accessible by foot or bus! (This is great for keeping cost low when traveling.)

4. Soldier Field is a great stadium. I especially love seeing concerts there (as opposed to the more confined theater experience) because the night sky is so beautiful and the "Windy City" ensures a refreshing evening breeze. 

5. Unlike some bigger cities, the streets of downtown Chicago (notably Michigan Ave and intersecting streets like Ontario, Ohio, Huron, and Erie) are immaculate.

6. I very rarely notice cigarette smoking, something that I regularly experience on downtown Minneapolis Streets. Factually, I'm probably wrong, but there seems to be a lower smoking population so you're not inhaling fumes as you walk to dinner. 

7. The name. How fun is it to say Chi-Town? You sound like a total tourist, but it's worth it. 

8. FOOD! The Corner Bakery Cafe and Harry Caray's are both amazing. The latter is great for a fancy dinner and the former is my go-to. This past vacation I ate every breakfast there; they have fantastic Swiss Oatmeal (which is difficult to find) and great coffee. And don't forget Chicago deep dish pizza and dogs.

9. Local spirit is wonderfully vibrant. White Sox versus Cubs runs in the blood of every local. Plus, Wrigley Field is handsome and a true American ball field

10. Pedi-cabs are everywhere and they make me smile. I've never gone on one (I'm too afraid to get hit by a car, as they use the same streets!), but they look cute. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Upcoming Hiatus

Tomorrow, we will be leaving for Chicago to enjoy the Legends of Summer concert at Soldier Field! I am hopelessly excited to see Justin Timberlake and Jay Z live, as they are pretty much mythic figures in the music industry right now. (How jammin' are their new songs "Holy Grail" and "Take Back the Night," right?) I nabbed a leak of their set list, which I'm hoping is pretty accurate for Monday night, because it's an out-of-this-world selection of their very best songs! 

During our vacation, I will not be posting as regularly, but you can stay updated with all things Chicago via my Twitter and Instagram (@sarahcarlsonetc) accounts! Enjoy this beautiful weekend! 

Photos by Abby from our last trip to Chicago.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Learning English with Ricky Gervais

My good friend showed me this hilarious video last night, and I've watched it several times already! (I laughed so hard I spilled my coffee this morning while watching it!) Ricky decided to make a video has spread it across the internet encouraging others from around the world to create the subtitles for it! This one has German subtitles, but it's caught on like mad and there is every language you could imagine!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Do You Volunteer?

Today I am volunteering at my place of work for about four or five hours. Middle school aged students from our local Boys & Girls Club will be visiting Old Navy to see what kinds of jobs there are, and what work can look like. I have to confess that I've done very little volunteering in my life; there are plenty of excuses, but when it gets down to it, I've never felt incredibly inspired by a certain cause.

But, I signed up at work because I knew it would be a slow week, and I was looking for something to spice up my somewhat monotonous summer. Now I'm getting excited, as I helped plan some awesome activities, great co-workers will be there, and I get to beat this crazy heat. Bonus: middle schoolers can be awfully enthusiastic and sweet. :) I feel glad that I'll get to show the kids that a part time job while you're in school can be great! Hopefully they feel like they will want a place of a work community! I think that's such an important thing to have; different life spheres. If they see the value of the workplace, I'm happy!

P.S. Being in the Greater Minneapolis Area means it can be hard for me to get around to find good volunteering opportunities. If you know of any, please let me know! I'd love your suggestions. 

Photo via @oliviermela Flickr

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fun Writing Tips

Hey, writers! The New Yorker blog has a fun post on writing about books! In all seriousness, this is something that I feel you can never quite perfect. (Although I think Zadie Smith might be the exception.) All you fellow English majors out there should read this puppy! It's a good time!

Happy Tuesday!

Photo via @sarahcarlsonetc Instagram

Multiple Personalities

Long, long ago at The Guthrie

Are you a different you while at work? Once you're home, do you transform into another variation of self? I have found that while working, I am uncharacteristically chipper girl, a smile bubbling right off my pink cheeks. I speak at a higher pitch, and faster pitch as a cheerfully greet every customer that walks through the door and convince shoppers that they need a brand credit card.

In classes, my personality subdues into a calm and cool intellectual demeanor. I am, after all, trying be at my most brilliant. I must admit, though...the now infamous B.R.F often falls across my face as I concentrate! (How embarrassing!) And even more surprising is the fact that I can become timid or introverted in a classroom of peers, which is quite unusual for me.

And at home. Yes, ah, breath a sigh of relief. Relax. My voice returns to a sane timbre, my goofy side appears, my sarcastic wit emerges from deep inside and some snarky commentary on whatever current television program commences, and hearty laughs erupt.

(When I babysit, I'm an affectionate, cuddly, smily girl that keeps her cool when bloody knees appear. Running errands, I am the collected, list-lady on a mission. Stern face occasionally included.)

A side note: I am, for the most part, quite genial and am at times delightfully charming. However, I am different versions of myself in every part of my life.

This helps me create some division, as I prefer to keep my personal life separate from my professional life, and so on. In turn, ensures I am consistent in each unique arena. (The other day, I was somewhat distraught in my personal life, but because of my "different hats" my work was normal and no one caught on to any distress.)

Do you experience a change in self as you go from one realm to another in your life? What minor (or major) personality changes usually occur? Are they intentional, and are they helpful? I'd love your thoughts on this unique (personal) phenomenon.

Photo via Abigail Carlson (Classic Kitsch) Instagram @abbyacarlson

Monday, July 15, 2013

Being Critical of Comedies

Friday Night Dinner

Our era appears to be in a new golden age of television series and films; everything champions "critically acclaimed" reviews. This critical acclaim, however, is extraordinarily exclusive to dramas. Yes, I love a good drama. But do you ever feel like those amazing comedies are being left out? It's like they're the losers of entertainment.

Yet comedies often show great intelligence, art, and truth. Remember Gilmore Girls? A remarkable comedy that really pioneered the portrayal of unique families, and rejoiced in the mother-daughter relationship. It dealt with real emotion, real issues, and kept you thinking, while still laughing. 

Likewise, The Office (both the UK and US series) is a hilarious look at workplace relationships. And while exaggerated to impossible stretches, every episode asks us to appreciate the nutty, the uptight, the bland, the dimensions of love, and the humor in life.

Both are gut-busting, with smart writing and honest characters. But not considered worthy of the elitist criticism. It seems as though those stomach-churning dramas that thrive off of little dialogue, overzealously peppered with gunshots, explosions, and blood show a "true genius." 

Because it's so difficult to make a crime scene interesting. And it's believable, too. Let's face it: some dramas are insanely genius. They're breathtaking and intricate. Let's not forget, though, that in times of crisis and distress, comedy often prevails with truth and comfort. (Remember: SNL aired after 9/11. Similarly, comedians are often considered the truth givers of our society; that we get the most honest information from comics.) 

So have a laugh, but think critically. You're probably enjoying a beautifully crafted, artful composition of language, cinematography, music, and acting. 

Photo via 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

{Summer Reads}...Essays

Over the years, my taste in reading has been refined into a seasonal rotation. During the school year, I read many novels and plays; my interest is heavily invested in these stories for lengthy periods of time. Characters seem to manifest themselves in my head, and at times, I have picked up speech patterns after spending so much time with remarkable characters. (I found myself speaking like Zooey after pouring over Salinger's Franny and Zooey not long ago.)

So during the summer I give myself a sort of mental vacation. I admit to watching hours of television and movies, reading trashy magazines, and distancing myself from critical news. Instead of marathon novels, I love to read collections of essays. They are concise, engaging, and thought-provoking. I usually read one or two a day, and they always leave you with something to talk about with others.

I'm currently reading Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith (genius!) and I'm already hooked. Next on my list will be her breakout novel White Teeth. I'd highly recommend any book by her!

P.S. This looks like a great list for they 25 best essay collections "of all time".

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My wonderful mother is celebrating her birthday today, and I wanted to give her a little special shout out in the blogging world. As you know, I love my mom dearly; she has taught me everything, has been my biggest cheerleader, and is my role model. She is thoughtful, hilarious, smart, sincere, honest, and kind. I could not be more thrilled to spend my day with her! Happiest of birthday to a seriously awesome gal!

P.S. Abby and I followed her instructions, and after surprising her with these JT + Jay Z tickets, didn't get her anything else. Does your mom also say, "And don't get me anything! I have everything I need and more!"?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Early Bird

Morning sunrise on New Smyrna Beach

Are you an early riser? Abby and I are pretty similar, but as we get older our daily schedules have changed a little. Perhaps it's because for four consecutive semesters I had an eight a.m. class everyday. Whatever the cause, I like to get up a little earlier than Abby or the rest of the house.

We've talked about working alone, but when you live with other people all the time (Abby and I live together at school, as well as when we come home for the summer. It's pretty much a 24/7 partnership.) there's a desire to spend a few moments by yourself. When the sun is rising, the coffee is brewing, there's a very reals sense of calm. It's soothing.

I like staying up late on occasion just as much as the next person, but I much prefer the refreshing part of the morning. I feel productive, energized, and a little more relaxed. Even those exhausting mornings that you want to stay in bed, getting up just to get the mail and pad around in cozy socks can make you feel a little brighter.

Monday, July 8, 2013

{Weekend Update}...Big Girls

My beloved Minneapolis (this is from early spring thaw).

After turning a momentous age last Sunday, Abby and I (along with our parents, naturally) went to St. Paul to sign our lease on our new apartment for the school year! It felt very exciting and mature, because we are no longer in an apartment complex, nor are we living with hundreds of students our age. It is in a small, residential neighborhood, complete with a gazebo-topped park. It's pretty much romantically picturesque. With a local market and butcher shop, a cafe that could become my "regular", and scenic shops, I'm feeling at home and I haven't even moved it yet! It feels very adult.

While in the cities, we decided to make a day of it, shopping and eating on Grand Avenue with a pitstop to the Rosedale Mall. (We much prefer this one over MOA.) It has seemed like eternity since the weather felt like summer, today being no different, but Friday and the rest of the weekend was a gorgeous combination of food, sun, travel, and family.
Our new favorite restaurant on Grand Ave. –– Salut.
Pictured here: Ze French Onion Soup
And our best kept secret of the Chippewa Valley––Foster Cheese Haus

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Books on Tape

I'm an avid reader, but could never really get into books on tape. While I started reading the Harry Potter series alongside a colorfully narrated tape, and our beloved Colin Firth now narrates, it's something that I find almost distracting at times. I have a family friend who loves recorded books, because it allows them to "read while driving or in the bathtub."

In the first instance, it's not completely applicable because I don't currently drive in the city. The second reason at first creeped me out. Another person's voice in the bathroom with you while you shave your legs?!?! Yuck! And then I started listening to NPR, like an old person. 

Anyhow, tangent aside, reading to me is a solitary, extremely internalized experience. Some devout listeners argue that when there is a voice narrating the story, characters and scenes really "come to life," but I think it can lose its authenticity. 

I've also always praised literature as the great transformer. It is the same story, and yet is different to every reader. I'm quite convinced that some of the uniqueness that each reader brings to the book is lost when they are passively listening to someone's narration. Actively reading allows you to enhance characters, imagining their inflection, cadence, and rhythm. Passively listening puts the power not in your hands, but in the narrator's. They control how you understand the once malleable text. 

Moreover, listening instead of reading encourages a sort of attentiveness apathy. We are less inclined to pick up themes, nuances, plot quirks when we listen, because we are not actively digesting it. Just like college, a lecture is great, but the notes and slides are usually what end up helping you the most. You can't just listen, because let's be honest, our mind is more likely to wander. 

And do you really want a wandering mind in the middle of a tenacious battle of words, a glorious expedition, or a heart-wrenching goodbye? Not exactly. These books are meant to take command of your life, influence your actions. So why not be active?

Photo of Coffman Memorial Union Bookstore, via @sarahcarlsonetc Instagram.

Monday, July 1, 2013

{Weekend Update}...Twenty-Something

Abby and I celebrated our twentieth birthday with family and friends this weekend and it was delightful. While I had to work in the afternoon, I came home to food, family, and a bonfire! What a treat! My mom even made Abby a chocolate cake and me a peach pie (I died a little bit!), which made us feel so special to have our own desserts.

Many people ask if we get sick of sharing such a personal day with another person, but in all honesty, I can't even imagine not sharing it! I am so lucky to have a twin sister, I have so many great experiences that very few people enjoy, all thanks to Abby! It's a blast!

We've now entered the age of "twenty-somethings" and people say it's an amazingly momentous time in life. Are they right? I would love some insider info on what I should expect!

P.S. This TED talk says your thirties are not the new twenties!

Photos compliments of Abby @classickitsch Instagram.