Sunday, December 19, 2010

heeeeeere fishy fishy fishy (sort of)

I am obsessed with all things marine, so aquarium visits are required when I visit various cities. Denver treated me well. I FED A STINGRAY!!! 
I love stingrays.

Hello, Mr. Stingray. Are you hungry?

I have a fishy.

Hmmm, this lady isn't interested. But wait - 

Aha! Wow, that feels weird...


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Justin and I are looking forward to sharing Thanksgiving Day with some dear friends over a huge bowl of mashed potatoes. May your day also be filled with good people and good things.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grumpy Leah gets Sick

I'm sick.
When I'm sick, I feel rotten. I feel lumpy. When I'm sick, I put on my bat hat.

I hate being sick.

When I'm sick, I want to hide from the world and pout.

It's no fun being sick. There are things to do and I can't do them.

The Beastie Wild Things drop in to give me a report.

"It's fun outside", they say, "but you look like you need some cheer!"

My nose feels a bit better. Maybe things aren't so bad.

Photos by Justin

Also, I am not sick. Not right now, anyway. I WAS sick, and I came up with this storyline while I my head was full of snot, but I didn't really feel like setting up the photo shoot while I was feverish and miserable. The camera would have been all boogery and stuff. Ew.

Monday, October 25, 2010

In Which Leah Spins A Yarn

There once was a place where the people were made of string. It was a tricky place to get around; you had to trod carefully so as knot to step on a loose bit that would make a person come undone. Winding a person back together was trickier still. Dance parties and cats were generally avoided. It could be a loopy place, but the people were warm - even if their brains were a little fuzzy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

get in the kitchen and make me a pie (pretty please, with whipped cream on top)

Pick out a happy little sugar pumpkin. Have a bonding moment and watch the leaves turn outside.

Thank the pumpkin for taking part in your culinary experiment. Now cut it open (don't worry, the pumpkin can't feel a thing). Scoop out the goop - that's the fun part. Be sure to coat those seeds in a bit of olive oil, add a sprinkling of salt, and bake. It's good snacking while you're hard at work in the kitchen.

Slice the pumpkin into chunks and steam in a pot with a bit of water. When the pumpkin pieces are soft and cool, smoosh them up. It's fun to squish the pumpkin between your fingers. Add a bunch of tasty goodness to the pumpkin mush in a perky-colored mixing bowl.

Pour the bowl of yummy orange stuff into a pie crust and bake.

Slice. Serve. Eat.

Everybody wins!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's that time...

The jack-o-lantern lights are alight...

And greeting guests at the door....

Skeletons are out...

Ghosts are flying...

And pumpkins are ready for kitchen delights... (you'll see the results of that in my next post!)

Happy Halloween Time!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rock the Paint

I (finally) finished my brother's painting which was originally supposed to be a Christmas gift... ahem.... and I am really happy with it. It's time to share the final product.

My little bro is a rockstar - literally, and figuratively. He plays in an awesome cover band that does gigs in the greater Chicago area, and music make his world go round. I tried to rock out with my brushes and create something that would complement his musical interests as well as his minimalist decorating style.

I pulled out my acrylic paints and went to work. I am also exploring the use of upcycled materials in my artwork, so I included 2 overexposed Polaroid prints that I drew on with a paint marker, as well as cutouts from the wax paper pallette on which I mix colors. This makes me feel so much better about using disposable pallette paper, because I am now reusing them. Score!

This is meant to be a gestural, ink-and-brush style representation of a guitar, paired with the line drawing of a generic amplifier on Polaroid paper. The shift is intentional. It just seems appropriate.

Rock on, Little Bro!

Friday, October 8, 2010

In Which Leah Ventures Into the Kitchen Again

I'm trying to be a cook again.

Every time I've attempted this in the past, I've thrown my hands (and potholders) up in disgust and stormed away.

So we shall see.

I successfully made crab cakes last week, and even Justin approved. And - get this - I MODIFIED the recipe. That's unheard of in my world. But doing so made me feel like I took a big, badass leap forward in the food world.

Additionally, I purchased a real knife. Like, one that actually slices through things. It's amazing, really, what a good knife can do. Perhaps this has been my problem all along: I was always prone to kitchen knife injuries (and my mom no longer allows me to use them in my parents' kitchen!), but maybe the knives just sucked. Huh.

Hopefully this knife can cut the spaghetti squash I bought today. I've never baked a squash in my life. Sure, I've eaten many, but I've never done the work. I also plan to cut open a pumpkin and make a pie... and no, I've never made a pie (of any sort) before in my life, either.

"What did she ever eat?!?!?" You may wonder to yourself. Sometimes I wonder that same thing. I think I ate a lot of Chef Boyardee Ravioli.

Monday, September 27, 2010

the splendor of the tomato

I like tomatoes. I like them in soups, salads, and even sliced with a sprinkling of salt. Tomatoes are good.

But oh. Oh. I had no idea.

One day, late this summer, I was out shopping for groceries when I noticed a stand with assorted red gems and a sign that read "heirloom tomatoes". I was made aware of the existence of heirloom plants not to long ago (embarrassing, but I'm trying here), and I thought I would pick one out and give it a go.

I present to you the beautiful Cherokee Purple Tomato.

I was tempted to do a Weston-esque photo series with this as my subject, but I was hungry.

Not only is it a looker, but it's super tasty. It was love at first bite. This tomato may not be new to the rest of the world, but it's new to me. One day, I will have a garden littered with these beauties.

It pays to stray from your normal path in the grocery store. I promise.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

and to all a good night

I made an effort this Sunday to enjoy and appreciate my time instead of feeling lumpy about "the day before Monday". I did not master this, but I did pretty well. Justin and I had some nice, lazy moments, and we still managed to clean and organize parts of the house. For dinner, I made pasta and plucked some basil and rosemary from the mini herb garden to add to the sauce. It was tasty (and the fake meatballs weren't bad at all). Now I'm going to curl up in my freshly-made bed and read a chapter of "All Creatures Great and Small" before I go to Sleepytown.

I hope everyone had a great weekend, and may you all sleep well.

Moonman Touches the Earth, pencil and pastel on paper, 8"x12"
Leah Johnson, 2004

Saturday, September 11, 2010

live show list

I just bought tickets to see Spoon, and I decided to compile a list of the bands I've seen live (at least those that immediately come to mind, and in no particular order):

PJ Harvey ----- The woman is amazing.
David Bowie ---- My hero.
Iron & Wine ---- Gorgeous acoustics and voice.
Moby ---- This is how you get the party started.
Peter Gabriel ---- Classic talent.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ---- Tom, you will always rock.
Tori Amos ---- The musical nymph at her piano... how many times now? 3?
Beirut ---- Almost haunting. Fantastic live show.
Garbage ---- Fun, but I don't really listen to them anymore. Hmm.
Rammstein ---- Um, that was interesting...
Alanis Morissette ---- A high school favorite. Her first album was the best.
U2 ---- Great performers, but the stage was too far away.
Stabbing Westward ---- I grew out of them, but at the time it was fun.
Sting ---- A great set, a great voice.
Joan Jett ---- Best part of a political convention I attended!
R.E.M. ---- Impressive versatility. Great live show.
The Black Crowes with Jimmy Page ---- The best live show I've EVER seen.
Kansas ---- They still have energy, man.
Eric Clapton ---- Brilliant, particularly because it was the blues tour.
Dave Matthews Band ---- A high school/college thing... maybe 3 shows?
Brian May (of Queen) ---- A legend.
Crowded House ---- Long live the 80's.
Stereo MCs ---- High school. But fun.
The Shins ---- Phenomenal show and sound! Now for Broken Bells.
James ---- Also awesome and underrated.
Kathleen Edwards ---- Huge in Canada, small show in the U.S. I win!
Wilco ---- I didn't know I was seeing greatness at the time (damn).
Tegan and Sara ---- More Canadian talent. Great songwriters.
Reverend Horton Heat ---- Rockabilly good times.
The Swell Season ---- I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would.
Depeche Mode ---- Awesome 80's pop. The feather boa did it for me.
Neko Case ---- Can I have her voice? Please?
Morrissey ---- Yessssss.
Aerosmith ---- Classic. Had to do it.
Smashing Pumpkins ---- Great show, except Darcy had left the band.

and those I still hope to see...

Beck ---- Hello, talent!
The Black Keys ---- Only the best thing that's happened to music in years!
Radiohead ---- How could I not want to see them?
The National ---- Low key, but lovely.

Tell me about your favorite show!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

thinking about San Francisco

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) hosts an epic meeting in San Francisco every December in which geochemists, climate modelers, hydrologists, planetary physicists, and all kinds of other scientists gather to present their research. I just submitted an abstract yesterday, and I'm looking forward to attending. The science is great.... and San Francisco is AMAZING! I adore that city.

I love it so much, I will risk the freezing waters to say hello to the bay.

I will push my way through the obnoxious tourist traps in Fisherman's Wharf to visit the sea lions.

I will brave the fog to have a great cup of coffee in North Beach.

I will cast aside my crowd-phobia to wander the festive streets of Chinatown.

I will allow the authorities to put Justin away for a while in Alcatraz (just kidding, no deal!).

I can't wait.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Super Granny leaves a surprise in the garden and tells me to snap out of it.

While I was lying around feeling sorry for myself and frowning in the toasty weather, I wiggled my toes and wished that iced tea would appear. There was this odd bonk noise outside, so I investigated.


Yes ma'am.

Sweet Leaf tea is tasty.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

outdoor herbs and other happy green things

So, remember how excited I was about my indoor Swiss Chard? I was like, "oh yeah, I'm super green girl, watch me, I rule".

Yeah, well, epic fail there. I still haven't figured out if I watered it too much or too little.


Things outside are doing quite well! There were some rough moments where I thought the basil was going to bail out on me, but everything has survived the summer so far (hopefully I didn't just jinx myself).

I decided to use an old ammo box as an herb planter, and I think it's working out marvelously. AND it's pretty cool-looking.

I have lemon balm:


Sweet Basil:

and Peppermint:

Justin has a hops plant that is happily winding around some lattice:

My Globemallow plant came back from last year too, and has occasionally boasted a few pink blossoms:

Unfortunately, the lavender is mostly done for the season. I don't know if that's normal, or if that's the Leah Lavender Special Variety. I was just so happy that it came back after I planted it last year. The previous year's batch opted out of the program.

The yarrow tried to take over the front yard (as usual), but I reined it in fairly well, I think. Now it's mostly brown.

The Russian Sage is flowering like crazy (also as usual), and smells great.

I like our front yard. It's very welcoming, it smells great, and I am really happy with the (albeit small) attempt at gardening.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Villette looks good on the nightstand.

This post has two purposes:

1) to show off the nightstand that Justin helped me make (not that you can really admire the craftsmanship here, but just know that I'm pleased with our efforts), and

2) to announce that I have just finished reading Villette, another novel by the masterful writer Charlotte Brontë. This was the last novel she completed in her short life, and it's beautiful. Jane Eyre is still my favorite by far, but I really enjoyed the characters in this story. There are romantic interests, of course, but the main character, Lucy Snowe, is primarily interested in becoming independent and self-sufficient.

After reading other books about the Brontë sisters themselves (both nonfiction and fiction), Villette seems so much like an adaptation of Charlotte's own life. I'm really fascinated by the Brontë's lives and their stories as they overlap in many ways.

So.... what next? Which book will be the next to grace my lovely nightstand? :)

I think I am going to take a brief Brontë-break, but they will be back. I haven't read any of Anne's novels yet.

Also, Justin needs a nightstand for his side of the bed now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Beastie Wild Things and the Hot Summer Day

It's summer. And it's hot. The Beastie Wild Things don't like it. They have lots of fur, and they don't want to run around outside like they normally do. This means that they are BORED.

"It's too hot outside. I am going to lay on this bed all day and be pitiful," says the Little Red Beastie Wild Thing.
"I'm booooored," yawns the Little Gray Beastie Wild Thing.

I have an idea.

"What's this?" Asks the Little Red Beastie.
"Yeah, these are weird!" says the Little Gray Beastie.
"They are sharks," I explain.

"I'm going to chew on mine," states Little Red Beastie.
"That's the idea," I say.
Little Gray Beastie, who likes to carefully observe things, watches to make sure nothing strange happens before she touches hers.

"Rrrrmph phmmgrrrphm," says Little Red Beastie, with a shark in his mouth.
"Well, nothing weird happened to him, so I guess these blue squeaky shark things are ok, " Little Gray Beastie admits, "in fact, they do look interesting."

Little Red Beastie: nom nom!
Little Blue Stuffed Shark: squeak squeak!

"Hey, look at me!" laughs Little Gray Beastie, "I'm making a shark face!"
And so the Beasties had a fun day indoors after all. The End.