A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

Meet my [teenage] bedroom.

I was passionate about photography and had fun displaying my photos of Hawaii along the wall in a trail.  Really graphic and fun.  

Color. Music. Posters. Art. Color. Everywhere.

I've been a 'designer' since I was a kid.  I've always been changing the spaces I inhabit, on a constant basis, and I recently found some proof of my earlier days of design mayhem.  While transferring all my digital photos onto my new computer [having everything in one place rather than fragmented on multiple external hard drives is a dream come true!], I found these photos.

This is my bedroom from my childhood home in New York.  These were actually taken sometime during my freshman year of college, somewhere between 2004 and 2005. I'm still trying to look for photos of my old college dorm rooms, because they were something to behold [I went a little overboard]. This room isn't too far off from that though, and if there's one thing you get my from my design back then, it's my personality.

Everything was perfectly laid out, strewn about the walls, and organized in a perfect chaos.  If you wanted to know what music I listened to, there was a poster for it.  If you wanted to know my favorite books or CDs, they were organized in bookcases I built into my closet. My love for Hawaii was all over the place: in tiny hula bobble heads, in floral leis, in the photography I would display. Little hints of my love for impressionist art are all over [in my calendar, in my paintings, even in my favorite Simpsons poster mimicking Georges Seurat]. My obsession with the color green was pretty obvious too.  As a kid, it was purple EVERYTHING, but I matured into a bright granny smith apple green. Now I love teal and different shades of grey [totally not a reference to the book...].

It's amazing how tastes evolve.  My style has absolutely changed over the years, but it's interesting to see how I still hold onto a certain atheistic.  

I hope you enjoy this peak into the younger Jo.  More [current] design to come...

My obsession with band art hasn't changed.  I'll admit though, it wasn't always for the right reasons. I remember loving the band in the corner, not because they were particularly great, but because I thought some of them were really cute...I was never one to put up posters of the Backstreet Boys or N'Sync, but you bet I had ones up of my punk rock bands!  I've since stopped putting up posters of boys [shocker, I know]. Here you can also see one of my favorite Salvador Dali pieces, as well as this light up art of the Brooklyn Bridge [it was a little tacky, yes, but at night I loved how it gave my room this bluish glow].

My biggest regret is not taking care of my band art the way I should have.  Most of these posters are really tattered on the edges, and some downright ruined due to the constant moving of them each year of college.  I was able to properly frame some of them, but these really bring me back...

I built these 'custom' shelves with my Mom, mostly because I didn't have enough room anywhere to house my massive CD and book collection!

I love having old pictures [check out little Jo with her awesome bowl cut bangs!] around and check out my adorable bobble heads [not sure where they are anymore, how sad!]

More of the overflow of DVDs and video equipment. I wonder where my Wiffle ball bat is these days...

I kept that vase of artificial gerber daisies around for the longest time. Now I hate the thought of fake flowers.  I love having real deal around when I can these days.  I think the daisies finally retired to my mom's work office.  And check out my old iPod! That isn't my original one, since that was actually stolen at a party the year before.  Back then who could have predicted my large succession of Apple devices to follow...
I'm not sure if I knew I was taking a picture of myself or not, but there I am at 18...where has the time gone?!

New Music Mixtape: August.

I'm just sneaking a mix in before the monthly deadline.  I had a harder this month [I also was a little low in my usual iTunes funds- I squandered away my iTunes savings on an entire season of Parks & Rec because I couldn't wait until it came out on Netflix, and I needed my Ron Swanson fix], but there are some great songs on here.  Enjoy. 

[FYI: I'm running all over the place today, so I'm holding off on adding in band links until later- but Google makes all of that a little unnecessary anyhow]

1. V.A.L.I.S. - Bloc Party
This album is a bit of a mix bag- not your usual Bloc, but this track stays pretty true to their sound.

2. Rivertown Blues - Yellowcard
Now talk about throwbacks; this song brought me right back to the old Yellowcard I loved so much in high school- super fast drums, with the faint beauty of that fiddle in the background- such nostalgia for this one.

3. Would That Not Be Nice - Divine Fits
This new collaboration has members from Spoon and Wolf Parade, among others.  The Supergroups just keep forming- something akin to the Avengers of Indie Alternative music.  I'd see them live for sure.

4. The a Team [Live] - Birdy [Ed Sheerhan cover]
It's not news that I absolutely adore this girl's voice and work on the piano.  I'm actually learning a few of her piano renditions right now. When I was a kid, all I knew were Disney songs [I can still play A Whole New World and Can You Feel The Love Tonight? THAT'S RIGHT.]

5. Keep on Swinging - Rival Sons
They've got some serious rock in them.  I get a mix of The Black Keys and a little bit of Led Zeppelin.   Love love love that riffing on the guitar.

6. Family - The Cast of Cheers
I heard this song on Pandora, and literally could not get it of my head.  It's ferociously catchy and fast, so I had to have it. 

7. Cut It Out - Kitten 
I love the light, breathy quality of this song and the lead singer's voice.  The drums give it this 80s ballad sound and remind me of this really specific song from that era, and I can't put my finger on it.  It's driving me a little crazy, but I'll figure it out eventually.

8. World's End - Army Navy
This has such an oldies vibe to it.  My youngest years were spent listening to this era of music [that and Madonna...] so even though this sort of sound is so simple, it holds a really special place in my heart.

9. Downwind - Sean Rowe
This man has such a booming, deep voice that's really addictive. This song also has that old surfer guitar sound that I love. It's like a sexy version of Sheb Wooley's Purple People Eater [that may sound completely nuts, but think what you will].

10. Dementia - Owl City ft. Mark Hoppus
I actually heard this song on Pandora and thought it was a new departure of Blink 182.  I had no idea it was Owl City. I thought, well Blink is going a little more pop, a little less punk, but I don't hate it.  And then I found out the truth.  And I wasn't all that upset about it.  Heck, I can't help but love that Carley Rae Jepsen duet he does, so why not like a collaboration with Blink? 

11. Fading Listening - Shiny Toy Guns
This song has an odd mixture of dance music mixed with Fleetwood Mac.  It's kind of perfect in that way.  Some of the male vocals remind me of M83 a bit, so overall it's a great mixture of sounds.

New Music Mixtape: July Releases.

I was M.I.A. [missing in Aruba? Alaska? yes.] for a good chunk of July, so I wasn't keeping up with the latest Alternative releases, but I still managed to pull things together right at the end of the month.  A lot of these tracks are singles for some upcoming albums [all of which I'm really looking forward to] so there's a good mix in here. I also started working on my concert list, which usually doesn't start until the fall, but there are a few good shows coming up.  I'll list them here soon. 

1. Sleep Alone - Two Door Cinema Club [still has that dance-y vibe I love about TDCC, but with a tinge of sadness...I wonder if the rest of the album will follow suit..]

2. Sky Blue & Ivory - Torches [I immediately think of some kind of mashup of TV on the Radio and Bloc Party when I heard them for the first time]

3. If Only You Knew - An Atlas to Follow [I love the way their voices meld together- simple and pretty]

4. My Only Hope - Illusion of Self [has that gritty, raw Strokes-sound, great debut album from this band - buy this one]

5. Angels - The xx [this band has that hauntingly beautiful sound down to a science, this new single being no different...I've been looking forward to this album for a long time- can't wait!]

6. Age of Ignorance - Our Last Night [their sound is so familiar; very much like what I listened to in high school- a less throaty Thrice or even a little like Story of the Year..]

7. Fame > Demise [Acoustic] - Woe Is Me [after sifting through the thrashing and screaming on this album, I found a really nice vocal on this track- for some reason I love when hardcore bands sing pretty songs [albeit a little whiny, but that's okay by me] like this]

8. Come Together [Beatles cover] - Arctic Monkeys [I was watching the opening ceremonies of the XXX London Olympics last Friday, and I was so impressed by this cover. I knew they were a great band, but they really did The Beatles justice on this one]

9. Settle Down - No Doubt [this is their first release as a band in 11 YEARS, and I was secretly hoping for a return to their Tragic Kingdom roots, but I'll settle for this. I really like the first half of this song, and then it trails off a little for me- but I'd be a fool if I didn't represent the band I grew up with]

10. The Way It Is - The Sheepdogs [their sound definitely rides on the coattails of The Black Keys, but there aren't many other coattails I'd hitch a ride on]

11. Perfectly Aligned - Milo Greene [I've been looking forward to their full length release for a long time, and I HATE that I was out of town when they came to Atlanta a couple weeks back.  This track is so clean and really showcases how perfectly in sync the band is vocally]

12. The Crystal Text - Young Moon [no vocals on this track, but the open picking on the electric evokes its own melancholic voice, much like Explosions in the Sky]

Photo: Illusion of Self

Travel Photography Clean up: a man and his alphorn.

I've done quite a bit of traveling over the last year and a half.  Mostly for family reasons, sometimes just for fun, but regardless, every trip has been a truly one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience.  I usually go on a photography rampage when I travel, and my little Macbook Pro 13" is getting tired.  I've pretty much maxed her out, and on this most recent trip to Aruba, I had no choice but to go through my 8,000+ photos [this actually being only half of my actual photo collection, since everything pre 2011 is backed up on my external hard drive] and start making decisive cuts.

I get a little trigger happy, especially with the action setting on my SLR, so there are tons of photos that I can part with, since there are 7 or 8 more nearly identical to it.  The other issue is these SLR files are massive.  Gone are the days of my 4 megapixel Canon Elph circa 2001.  I've got to work on continuously editing this opus of photos, but I never seem to keep up with them.  Since I leave for another big trip tomorrow [SO excited for my retirement cruise in Alaska with my Mom!] and I know I'll easily take 500+ photos while I'm there, so I've got to continue the photo purge.  

Therein lies my rediscovery of this Swiss man and his alphorn. I started going through the thousands [yes, thousands] of photos I took while in Europe last summer, and I came upon the day I met my first alphorn player.  This traditional Swiss instrument dates back to the mid 16th century and was used as a mode of communication in mountainous regions throughout Europe.

We had taken a lift up to First Mountain in Grindelwald, and this gentleman arrived right along with us.  We waited in the lodge restaurant, because a heavy cloud cover moved over the mountain, causing nearly zero visibility.  While we waited, I noticed the man pull several wooden tubes out of his small black backpack. I watched as he slowly began to assemble them together. In short order, he  had a nearly 11 foot horn sitting in front of him, right there in the middle of the lodge.  He hoisted this monster horn up and brought it outside, in the thick of the clouds. 

As if by magic, the cloud cover began to dissipate, and he began to play these long, low notes.  I was convinced the vibrations of the horn broke up the clouds and cleared the skies.  A small crowd gathered, and we watched this man create beautiful music alongside the breathtaking mountainside.    It was definitely one of those surreal experiences.  I probably took a hundred photos of the man and his horn, but I saved quite a few, since the intensity on his face was so fascinating.  I love that even years from now, I can still look back at these photos and recall this day.

Tell All Your Friends.

The song "There's No 'I' in Team" has to be on my top 100 songs of all time. 

There are some songs that just resonate with me. There are certain albums I can listen to start to finish. Again and again.  And years later, I'll stumble upon that CD [or these days, it was likely by just listening to my itunes on random, but rediscovering a CD is far more nostalgic] and be brought back to that same time in your life; an album that stirs up emotions you forgot were buried deep.  

Last night, I had that very experience with Taking Back Sunday's debut album Tell All Your Friends [circa 2002].  

If you don't know me well, you may not know my past was filled with emotional punk music.  Lots of screaming, sometimes slightly whiny, lyrics strewn with love and heartache.  I'm not a fan of anyone who uses the term "emo" and even less so when it's used as a negative connotation.  I wasn't some sad "emo" kid crying softly in the corner of her bedroom listening to depressing music.  These songs and this style of music just reverberated with me. The entire New York/New Jersey/Long Island punk music scene was part of my birthright.  Bands like Thursday and Brand New [and of course, Taking Back Sunday] will always hold a special place in my heart.  

Yesterday, I was in bed, and again had another bout of insomnia.  Something just wasn't sitting right with me [and I don't mean my favorite frozen yogurt].  
So I reverted to my usual location of contemplation: the back porch.  I flipped open my laptop and pressed play on itunes.  

Sure enough, Taking Back Sunday's track, Great Romances of the 20th Century, came on, and within the first few melodic chords, I was brought right back.  The lyrics fell completely in line with how I was feeling [and quite literally alluded to my lack of sleep]. 

This won't mean a thing come tomorrow
and that's exactly how I'll make it seem
Cause I'm still not sleeping
Thinking I've crawled home from worse than this
So please, please I'm running out of sympathy
and I never said I'd take this lying down
You always come close but it never comes easy
I still know everything
You always come so close
If it's not keeping you up nights
Then what's the point?

Then I found myself writing down lyrics, something I do quite a bit. I started doodling alongside them [as you can see at the top of this post].  It's therapeutic.   I also picked out specific lyrics that spoke to me and created a little Tell All Your Friends album art. 

 Two hours went by and I'm not sure if I felt any better.  In fact, I felt even more uneasy and incensed than I did before. This is just one of those albums that incites me.  It makes me feel things I'd long forgot about.  It's a little piece of who I was in high school, that every so often comes back and reminds me of my past [or in this case stirred up more recent memories that I've worked hard on forgetting, but can't seem to shake].  As Vonnegut said,  "so it goes."