5 Things I Love – Aug 15

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

1. Louis Vuitton Creatures by Billie Achilleos

These critters are fabulous by nature with their oh so high end materials, but even more so they are awesome works of art and cute to boot.

2. The Return of Ankle Boots and Booties

I’m guessing that perhaps this is due to the influence of Steampunk working it’s way out to the rest of the population, but I have recently noticed that lace up ankle boots much like those of the Victorian era and turn of the century have found there way back into fashion. I, for one, am stoked about this. Great detailing and boots – what’s not to love. A couple of examples of this are Madden Girl’s Devotid Bootie, which is a flat, and the Gwyneth Meg Bootie which has a modern buckle twist and 3.5 inch heel. I’m also loving the BX by Bronx Maron Bootie with it’s slight heel, side buckle and stitch detailing.

3.Free Classics for Mobile Reading

Blame it on ‘The Great & Powerful Oz’, which just started filming in Michigan a few weeks back, but I love that I can get all of Frank Baum’s books along with a host of other classics for free on my iPod touch which means no worries about interloaning or late fees while I sate my curiosity on what Baum has to say about the Wizard beyond The Wizard of Oz. Of course, if you’re interested in the Wizard as well and don’t want to download them all seperately, you can get bundled versions like this Kindle edition for $1 or less.

4.Back to School Shopping Season

Despite my apparently youthful appearance (I often get asked if I’m a student) I don’t actually do back to school shopping for school, but the sales are great even for those of us not attending this fall. For instance, my printer recently decided that blue was the one and only color worth printing in. With the sales going on for school I was able to get a nice new printer that will print in a full array of colors for 45% off the retail price which is pretty darn awesome.

5.Pearson Cooking Classics Quick-Cooking Black Beans

These would be the beans that I used in yesterday’s black beans & rice recipe. I don’t particularly care for beans in general, but black beans are on my willing to consume list and these not only cook fast but have a great taste too.

5 Things I Love – Dec 6

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

In honor of the retail shopping season (and my brother’s request for a Christmas wish list), I have decided to dedicate this week’s ‘5 Things I Love’ to a Christmas wishlist. Since some of you may have female geeks with my general assortment of interests in your life that you’re looking for gifts for, I’ll include not only the usual links but some related suggestions as well.

1. Her Universe Star Wars Burnout Tee

The “I Know” tee is a close second for me. They also have a swarovski hat, hoodie, jewelry and are offering 20% off + free shipping (US only, $8 off international) when you use the code ‘holiday’ at check out.

2. Star Trek (2009)

I am not sure how it is that I have not yet acquired this dvd, but it’s missing from my collection and this needs to be amended. I greatly enjoyed the movie in the theatre. In fact, I saw it twice, which is rare for me – opening night with my guy friends and then again with one of my girlfriends a few weeks later. Yet… nope, not in my collection.

I also found several piano books to go with for the music/Star Trek fan: Star Trek: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack and Complete Star Trek Theme Music: Piano Solo

3. IngenuiTEA 16 oz Tea Pot

Any tea lover will tell you that loose leaf is the way to go and this is an awesome device to help you with your loose leaf desires. Not sure where to get the tea? ThinkGeek has a sampler or a site like The Tea Table, which has an abundance of varieties.

Another option is a french press which will do either tea of coffee though they are marketed more to the coffee sphere.

4. The Art of Manipulating Fabric

A compendium of three-dimensional fabric effects, I want this book to add to my shelves for reference and inspiration on my sewing journeys. It also gets a lot of love in reviews and is a lot less expensive than many of the sewing/textile books I drool over.

5. Benefit’s ‘so hooked on Carmella’ eau de toilette

Described as a floral vanilla it has both the light and the earthy going for it. It’s my personal favorite of the Crescent Row scents, which not only have fun names and scents but also have fun packaging. Benefit is also offering a limited edition set of four mini bottles featuring ‘so hooked on Carmella’, ‘garden of good & Eva’, ‘lookin to rock Rita’ and ‘laugh with me LeeLee’ for those who can’t make up their mind (or aren’t sure of which one their gift recipient will like best).

Close seconds…

“Inevitable Betrayal” Tee

I can’t see any lover of Firefly not wanting this tee. I know it is one of many favorite scenes for me from the series. Close seconds – Define “Interesting” Tee and ‘The Babe with the Power’ Tee (Yes, I know it’s Labyrinth not Firefly but it too is on ThinkGeek)

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

I actually have already read and once owned a copy of this urban fantasy novel. Loved it. Shared it with a friend. Friend moved. Sad day for me. I have as yet to read the rest of the series, but they are on my list now.

MacBook Pro Ironman Decal

Ever since I got my work computer, which happens to be a macbook pro, I have been eyeing these. There’s a Darth Vader and a Scrat several others from this seller that I’ve also contemplating, but I always end up coming back to the Iron Man.

Sonic Screwdriver

As a fan of the 10th Doctor how could I, or any fan, not want one of these?

This is by no means a finite list. There are a ton of other things that I could include like The Guild comic book, Chuck Season 2 (&3), Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, a ticket to Comic Con (if registration were working), more books, etc. etc.

Anyway, enough of that for today. Last weekend was a killer and my bed is telling me just how warm and comfy it is from across the apartment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this special edition of ‘5 Things I Love’ ;)

Special 2.5 Day Sale!

Empress set - necklace, earrings, ring cobalt faceted cabachons set in matte gold

That’s right – I’m sweetening the jewelry pot just in time for Holiday shopping. Why? I’ve got a goal to reach this weekend and I know some of you have some shopping you’ve been wanting to do. You’re just waiting for the right deal, so check out this special 2.5 Day Sale:

Buy: 1 Piece of Jewelry

Get @ 1/2 Price: 1 necklace +1 other piece of jewelry (more expensive than the one at regular price)

Repeat as needed.


Free Shipping on orders placed by 8pm EST, Nov. 5th

With a $65 order: Get an additional item at Hostess Bonus Pricing

With a $100 order or $100 in orders: Get $5 off of your Hostess Bonus item.

The $100 can be reached by collecting and either communicating the orders to me personally or by notifying me of online orders placed by friends that came from you.
After $100 each $50 in orders gets you another $5 off. So $150 in orders = $10 off. $200 in orders = $15 off (which is free if the piece retails at under $100)

An Example:

Crystal Palette Earrings$19
Blossom Necklace$29 (Retail Value $58)
Sequin Pendant Slide$21 (Retail Value $42)

Sub-total: $69 – $50 saved

Plus – the Party Favor Bracelet$20 (Retail Value $130)

Total: $89

Total Savings : $160

This sale concludes on Saturday, November 6th at 2pm. Orders can be placed from anywhere in the United States and will be shipped to you.

Orders placed online will not reflect these savings initially. I will adjust them upon receipt of the order through our advisor system. No orders are completed online without my first seeing them. To order online go to http://www.liasophia.com/sites/barbkraus/catalog-intro and use ‘Alaina Kraus’ as the hostess name.

You can also order by contacting me at alainarkraus (at) gmail . com

Adventures at Arts, Beats & Eats

This past Monday my mum and I trekked down to Royal Oak to partake of Arts, Beats and Eats. For those who are unfamiliar, its an annual festival that brings in concerts, restaurants and artists both from the local area and other parts of the United States.

This is actually the first year that the festival has been held in Royal Oak. Previous it’s been in Pontiac, so the flavor was a bit different this year from when we went last year.

We chose to attend on Monday for a variety of reasons, the largest being that we were otherwise occupied on Saturday and Sunday, but we also wanted to catch the Kansas concert. It really ended up working out in our favor, because while it was crowded on Monday it was nothing compared to the crowds earlier in the weekend.

Now, I’ve read a lot of complaints about the crowds and the parking and such, but I guess my mum and I tend to expect such things and view it all as an adventure. It also was a bit dreary Monday deterring some and we employ such techniques as walking behind the stalls on the sidewalk to skip large sections of crowd which definitely helps.

People waiting for food at Arts, Beats and Eats

I’m not going to say the crowds weren’t bad at points, but what I found more frustrating than the crowds were actually the stroller jams. I know I don’t have any kids of my own, but I’ve worked with them in one form or another for a good portion of my life and a festival like this is not the place to bring your two year old. There was a kids area, but it really was set up more for older children who can greatly benefit from being exposed to all of the different art, music and culture.

Back to us, Mum and I decided to park at the high school because it was $5 cheaper and a whole lot less crazy than trying to park in town. Much to my delight, the shuttle service was being run by Indian Trails which is actually based about 5 minutes from my apartment so I was also supporting my peeps parking there. It was also great because they dropped and picked us up at the gate.

We found the stage we sought with only one stop for directions and, being a bit early, jaunted off again in search of liquid refreshment. We didn’t really want to spend our food tickets on water, so we were quite pleased to find a little ice cream shop with a vending machine. I’m certain they made a killing last weekend from folks like us.Kansas live performance at Arts, Beats and Eats

When we arrived back for the concert the area was packed with people. I grew up listening to Kansas, but I find it’s always interesting to hear bands I grew up on now that I’m an adult. I know their hits, of course, and we actually heard them perform ‘Dust in the Wind’ but I never realized they had as much instrumental music as they performed. Not that I minded. I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to electric violins and one of their guys was definitely rocking his out.

We listened for the better part of their set, slowly working our way back into the less compact crowd before decided to make our way over to the art section of the festival. We’re both fascinated to see what types of artists are there, especially being a juried show. Some of the artists we love, others, well, we’re just not their audience.

Last year when we attended we were introduced to the artwork of Laura Lee Junge, who is now located at the Jackson Junge Gallery in Chicago and we were quite excited to find them at Arts, Beats and Eats once more. Her work is full of whimsy and bright, beautiful color.

While Angels Sleep by L Lee Junge

This year I gave into temptation and purchased a small version of While Angels Sleep, Your Love Shall Keep to add to my home collection of as yet un-hung artwork. I almost purchased Out of the Sounds of Silence He Summons the Symphony but there is such glorious detail in it I’m going to save up to buy a larger print. What I really want is the $500 large framed copy that they had at the festival, but it’s a little out of my price range at the moment.

In a lovely bit of happenstance, we ran into Gwen – my sister from another mother – and her husband wandering an art cul-de-sac. They had to depart for evening plans so we couldn’t talk long, but it was a fun and unexpected occurrence. Now, some of my friends are shaking their heads reading this and saying that I’m always running into people I know, but that didn’t make it any less wonderful when it happens.

As for the eats, that was our last stop. After much perusal we settled on farm cheese pierogis and fried pickles. I know it’s an odd combination, but I love pierogis and mum’s been wanting to try fried pickles for awhile. Both were excellent. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

Cafe Muse grilled cheese is a must go back and try

Last year we hit the festival and then left, but this year our explorations expanded to the stores that had stayed open in the midst of festivities. A pair of shoes and purse wishlist later, we decided that we’d have to come back and shop Royal Oak again, which is really what they hope to get out of such events.

My friend Becks over at Detroit Moxie posed the question of whether or not people thought the festival was a success at its new location and while I can’t speak for the festival as a whole, for us it was great day. There are definitely kinks that need to be worked out before next year’s festival, but overall we had fun and came out with a list of restaurants we want to try out, stores we wish to shop at and a gallery we really want to visit.

A Farmer’s Market Morning

It was 56 degrees out this morning when I threw on a sweater and headed over to the farmer’s market. Through my window I could hear the guitar and singing of a local musician who had braved the morning chill to be there long before I woke up.

Three depths of field on farmer's market produce

My very first visit to a farmer’s market happened my sophomore year of college. I was actually there to work on a depth of field project for photography, but the introduction stuck with me none the less.

Now, eight years later, I live across the street from one. Sure, it means that I have to practice evasive, pedestrian dodging driving techniques if I wish to go anywhere beyond walking distance on a Saturday morning, but it also means that it’s right there when I wish to go.

There are four things that I love about shopping at the farmer’s market.

Acorn Squash at Farmer's Market
1. I’m supporting local people. We do have folks who come from outside of the county, but they’re still part of the greater Michigan community.

Farmer fillings pints of tomatoes

Farmer conversing with some of his customers

2. You never know what you’ll find there. Sure, you can check what’s in season, but farmer’s market is more than just produce. There’s also baked goods, canned goods, fresh food, woodworking, etc. and it varies from week to week. Not that the produce can’t be unusual as well.

fresh lemon pies

Fresh Golden Hubbard which are actually orange

3. It’s fresh. Because it’s local, in season and hasn’t ripened en transit I find that the food I purchase at farmer’s market is fresher and lasts longer.

four colors of bell peppers

4. It’s economical, aka cheaper.

A great price means an empty basket of red potatoes

Here’s the breakdown of my spending this morning:

1 pint each Yukon gold and red potatoes (approx 5-6 lbs total) – $4
1 pint cherry tomatoes – $1
1 pint bartlett pears – $1.50
4 bell peppers (yellow, red, green & purple) – $2
1 loaf of Great Harvest cinnamon bread – $6.50
Total: $15

5. Eating it. I know I said there were four, but really, eating it is the best part ;)

Cinnamon bread from Great Harvest Bread Co. and fresh bartlett pears