Web Wednesday: nuTsie

ipod

I am a huge music freak, so it makes sense that I have an iPod. It was my Christmas present to myself 2 years ago. I felt incredibly guilty spending so much money on one tiny little electronic device, but I have to say that it is probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Lots of gadgets claim to make your life easier…more convenient…and most of them just make your life more cluttered. My iPod has my entire music collection on it, which is about 20GB of files. It took me ages to get it all on there, but now my CDs are all packed away and will never again be lying about getting scratched or gnawed or lost.

I know a lot of people are sort of anti-Apple. They do make some things difficult, like putting your music back into iTunes after reformatting your hard drive, for example. But I freaking love the iPod and the iTunes program. For me, the pros vastly outweigh the cons.

To make iTunes even more convenient and awesome, there is a website I love called nuTsie. nuTsie is an anagram for “iTunes,” in case you’re wondering what the heck that means.

Here’s how it works: nuTsie placeshifts the files in your iTunes and gives you access to it anywhere (and on many different devices) with an internet connection. I use it to listen to my iTunes at work without having to install the stuff on my work computer and without having to bring my iPod to work.

Even better, you can use it to listen to other people’s playlists, and you can “grab” songs or videos you like and put them in your nuTsie folder. Granted, the songs you grab won’t end up on your actual iPod, but listening online for free works for me.

I’ve tried lots of different internet radio things, and while I love the concept, I haven’t been able to find one I can stick with. Pandora is a cool concept (it plays music for you based on what you tell it you like), but it seemed really repetitive to me. And a lot of them just slow down my computer so much it’s not even worth it. So far, nuTsie has been a good alternative.

Advertisements

Tasty Tuesday: Pesto Pizza

Last night, Coocatchoo (my neighbor) and I had a serious evening of psycho-analysis, pizza, champagne, and Bob Marley. When pondering life’s big questions (Should she tell her current love interest about her crazy ex-boyfriend? What is missing from the brains of people who join cults? Why can’t there be better jobs in Asheville?), comfort food, alcohol, and reggae are vital.

Coocatchoo is a vegetarian, and while I am not officially, I do find myself eating  mostly vegetarian meals. This works out nicely for when we want to make dinner together. Last night was a pizza kind of night, but we didn’t want to get the bad greasy stuff, and I already had ingredients. So we made a version of one of my favorite pizzas.

pizza-782609

This is not a picture of the pizza we made, because I forgot to take one. I found this on Google Images, and it looks pretty close.

Quick & Easy Pesto Pizza

1 Boboli (or other pre-made) pizza crust
1/2 jar pesto sauce
Fresh mushrooms, sliced
Fresh roma tomatoes, sliced thin
Fresh basil or spinach
Crumbled feta cheese
1/2 bag pre-shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put the pizza crust on a round cookie sheet. Spread 1/2 a jar of pesto sauce over the pizza crust. Cover the pesto layer with sliced mushrooms. Cover the mushroom layer with sliced tomatoes. Tear up some pieces of fresh basil or spinach and sprinkle on top. Add some crumbles of feta cheese if you like that. Cover the whole thing with about 1/2 a bag of shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese (or mozzarella). Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

This is a decent poor-girl’s substitute for the best pesto pizza on the planet, which can be found at any Mellow Mushroom. Ask for the House Pesto. And this recipe makes enough for two people to eat a couple times at least.

Musical Monday: Bon Iver

jag115full

I’m finally caught up! Today is Monday, and I am actually doing my Monday music post! Whew.

I think I have pretty great musical taste. But I also live in the South, in a relatively small city (pop. 225,000). We are not exactly cutting edge in the trend department down here. I’ve been listening to a lot of the same (great) stuff for years. And after every issue of my Rolling Stone subscription, I think, “Man, I’ve never even heard of so many of these bands, but they sound like they would be awesome.” Luckily, I have friends with more diverse tastes who have been introducing me to new things. And also luckily, there are plenty of places to preview music online before you commit to buying it. So I’m trying to branch out.

My latest favorite: Bon Iver (pronounced “bohn eevair”), indie folk singer-songwriter Justin Vernon’s current band. I have to credit my friend Grantmasterflash with this discovery. I listen to NPR, but apparently not enough to have found him on my own. Grantmasterflash made me some very awesome CDs of new music, and I continue to appreciate them on a daily basis.

Even though the independently released debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was recorded in a remote cabin in freezing-your-ass-off Wisconsin, it sounds warm, real, earthy — like listening to vinyl records in a dark room with dusty hardwood floors, by a roaring fireplace with shadows dancing on the walls. I read a review on Slate that described his singing as “mournful gurgling,” and I literally wanted to email the author and tell her that snarky has its place and it is not in a review about my new favorite band. Okay, so I can’t understand every single thing he’s saying. Name one band about which this is not true. That. Is. What. Google. Is. For.

Listen to the song “Skinny Love” here.

Super Crafty Saturday: Ashevegas

asheville

This past Friday, my mom and I spent the day in Asheville going to all our favorite crafty places. First we hit my favorite of the three great bead stores in town, Silver Armadillo. They don’t have the most extensive selection in town, but their prices are not too bad, and the type of beads they stock are more to my liking. They have a lot of precious and semi-precious gemstones, and I tend to gravitate towards natural materials more than other types of beads that are available. They have recently moved into a larger store in the same shopping center, and it is quite spacious and pleasant. My favorite purchase from this trip was a white rabbit pelt. I know, it’s gross in a way. But it’s also really beautiful and soft. I’m thinking about either incorporating it into some jewelry (to which my mom wrinkled her nose) or making a pillow out of it. Birdy can’t seem to keep her nose out of that shopping bag. It must still smell a tiny bit rabbity to her high-powered dog nose.

Next on our list, downtown! I lived in Asheville for about 10 years before moving to Winston-Salem last year, and I miss it dearly. It has its pros and cons just like any other city, but it just makes me happy to be there. There is a different focus and a different attitude. People are friendlier and everything is more creative. I wish I made enough money to buy an apartment there so I could be there whenever I wanted. Like every weekend.

yarncubbies

My mom is a big knitter, so we had to go to her favorite yarn shop, Purl’s Yarn Emporium. They have also moved into a better location on Wall Street. In the past, Purl’s has sold some of my mom’s handmade knitting needles. They’re wooden with colorful handpainted balls on the ends. Mom has been trying to get me to learn how to knit for ages, and it has never really appealed to my crafting sensibilities. Until now. Apparently all it took was finding some yarn I could not live without, and now I want to make stuff. I bought some beautiful, ivory angora yarn, and my mom taught me the basic stitches. I’m practicing with some different (cheaper) yarn first until I can get better. Right now I’m still taking out more rows than I’m leaving in. But I can sort of see why people get so addicted to it. And why I will probably have carpal tunnel syndrome in about a year.

earlygirl

Lunch was at Early Girl Eatery. We frequently end up eating lunch there, since it’s in the vicinity of many of our favorite shops. To really cute boy who seated us with the topo map of North Carolina tattoo: I’ll be back, don’t worry. Mom had a toasted pimento cheese sandwich that she said was a little too greasy. I had a great grilled chicken sandwich with goat cheese and thick applewood bacon. Must recreate.

earth

Next stop: Earth Guild. The purpose of this stop was for my mom to look for a particular type and color of yarn that she had run out of, but their selection of colors had been completely picked over from the Christmas rush. I really like the look of woven things, and the owner of the store gave me a demonstration on one of their smaller looms. I think it looks like a lot of fun, and now I’m thinking of taking a class at the Sawtooth Center. And maybe I will get a loom from Santa next Christmas!

origami

On down the street, we visited Origami Ink, a gorgeous stationer and gallery and a new addition to the bevy of downtown shops since my time in Asheville. I have never been in a store where I noticed how great the lighting was before. Their stuff is all pretty fancy and pricey, and many items I didn’t even want to touch. It felt a little like a museum. Each and every thing on the shelves was placed perfectly. But everything they sell is just amazing. I’m thinking of sending them a sample of my stationery to see if they might want to carry it. Although, I may be nowhere near the right price point to be in that place.

downtownstore

At Sensibilities Day Spa, I fell in love with this stuff. In case anyone was still trying to think of a Christmas present for me or something. *wink*

Film Fest Friday: Mongol

I’m catching up here from the holiday. Someone on Facebook who shall remain nameless said, “Maybe you should spend less time with the dogs and more time blogging!” I’m thinking since the holiday excitement has died down now, I should have more time for this. Bear with me momentarily while I backtrack.

The best movie I’ve seen recently is Mongol.

mongol-1024-1-1

I read somewhere that it is to be the first movie in a trilogy about the life of Genghis Khan. One review I saw said, “probably not the movie most people were expecting.” I think that’s probably true, since it was billed as a historical action movie, similar to 300. The movie is entirely in Mandarin and Mongolian (with English subtitles) and chronicles the time period in Genghis Khan’s life from childhood up until the point where he becomes Khan (“ruler”). It’s a quiet movie, except for the battle scenes, and even those are mostly in slow motion. The dialogue is sparing — just as it should be — but well written. The cinematography is gorgeous. The Mongolian landscape is vast and starkly beautiful, and it doesn’t look like any other place on earth. 

As with most movies about historical figures or events, you have to take its perspective with a grain of salt. But it was very interesting to see this interpretation of how a man with great ideals started his journey towards a very successful,  yet very brutal, reign. I’m looking forward to seeing the next couple installments.

Thoughtful Thursday: Dog Is My Co-Pilot

So far this has been a great Christmas. The dogs are all getting along, and we all only got one gift each that we put in the re-gifting pile. I’m super excited to have gotten a sewing machine! This opens up a whole new dimension of craft projects for me. I’m not so interested in making clothes as I am things like pillows, curtains, pouches, and whatever else I can think of. I like small projects that don’t take more than a day or so.  And another New Year’s Resolution is to redecorate my apartment so it’s a little more stylish and grown-up.

Since it’s Thursday, and I’m supposed to talk about a book, I thought I would mention a book I gave my dad as one of his Christmas presents.

14656384

Dog Is My Co-Pilot: Great Writers on the World’s Oldest Friendship

I give away books as I read them. This is partially due to living in a small apartment, and partially because I don’t like to horde things and am not a pack rat AT ALL. I only keep the ones I think I might read again sometime.  This one is a keeper. This is a collection of essays — some funny, some touching — that have been published in Bark Magazine. There are tons of dog books on the market these days, and I am usually a hard sell. I despise cheesy writing. I read Marley & Me in a sitting. It was all right. I was not overly impressed. I will not bother to see the movie. The best thing I can say about Dog Is My Co-Pilot is that every story made me appreciate my dog even more than I already do.  And that’s saying a lot, because my dog is MY LIFE. My favorite essay was about a dog who was stolen three times.

If you’re a dog lover, get this book!

Web Wednesday: Etsy

Already I’ve skipped a day, but it was Christmas Eve! I spent most of the day either packing or driving. Birdy and I drove to the parents’, and we spent the evening at my Great Aunt’s house with some extended family on my mom’s side, eating and exchanging gifts. I got some Lancome skin cream and several pairs of my favorite kind of knee socks. As per usual with my family, there was a cooking catastrophe. The turkey had not thawed enough prior to baking, so hours later it was still not done, so all we had was ham (plus potato salad, orange salad, dressing, rice, gravy, and desserts). I am not a big ham person. I’m not really a big meat person in general. I like some kinds, but only every so often. But I have to say that the potato salad was probably the best I’ve ever had, and what made it was the huge chunks of pickle. Mmm, Southern cooking!

On Wednesdays, I’m supposed to tell you about a cool website. Most of you probably already know about this one, but if not, you need to.

untitled-1

The majority of my Christmas presents were purchased on Etsy this year. If you appreciate unique, handmade things that aren’t your typical big box chain store fare, you will love Etsy. There are something like 200,000 sellers there with items in every imaginable category for every imaginable taste. I am one of the 200,000 and have been since early 2007. The contents of my shop change a lot as I get into different projects. Lately my top seller has been stationery I make from vintage maps. It will even be featured in a magazine in March! I’ll report more on that when it comes out.

Anyway, Etsy is a great place to spend some time browsing and marking things for gift ideas. Also, I always feel good about buying from shops on Etsy because I like supporting an independent business owner as opposed to corporations.

Tasty Tuesday: Christmas Cookies

Xmas Cookies

This Christmas season I have been all about baking and candy-making. I have made PB dog treats, white chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter balls, and most recently, iced sugar cookies. My friend Quest and I had a Christmas Girls’ Night. We baked cookies, watched Love Actually (best Christmas chick flick ever), decorated cookies, and drank fizzy red wine.

When I was a kid, my mom made the best sugar cookies, but only on very special occasions. When I was in first or second grade, she made them heart-shaped with pink icing, for my class at Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, we both came down with the flu the same day I took the cookies to school. We lay miserably on couches on opposite sides of the living room. That’s the only time I can remember my mom and I being sick at the same time, and how my dad got through that week I will never know.

I forgot to get the old recipe from my mom for the Christmas Girls’ Night with Quest, but I found a pretty close stand-in recipe at The Pioneer Woman. The lemon peel is the key ingredient. I love all her recipes, and her step-by-step photos make everything so easy. Instead of her egg yolk glaze, we just made royal icing using the recipe on the sugar bag.

New Beginnings: The Plan

I’m going to go ahead and admit that this is the fourth time I’ve started a blog. But this time will be different! Because now I have a plan. I know from my experiences of reading other blogs that it’s no fun if you can’t read new posts pretty regularly. I get annoyed if my favorite blogs don’t update every day. So, to keep myself in line, I have developed a schedule for updates. Of course, it could vary slightly depending on what kind of new and exciting things are happening. But this is basically what I’m sticking to:

Musical Mondays: Music has always been a pretty big part of my life. I grew up in a musical family, and I play guitar, violin, and piano. I would like to expand my musical horizons by checking out more stuff I’m unfamiliar with. I will also share current favorites.

Tasty Tuesdays: I love to cook, but I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I inherited my mother’s love of lamps and cookbooks, but I hardly ever make anything from the collection of fabulous recipes hiding in my kitchen. One problem: it’s hard to cook a little bit for one person, and I am not a huge fan of leftovers. But I’m ready to experiment!

Web Wednesdays: Many people I know complain that they have no time to waste on the internet. And I find that I tend to visit the same handful of sites over and over. On Wednesdays, I’m going to share a favorite website here.

Thoughtful Thursdays: I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. Few things make me happier than getting carried away by a good book.  I know most book lovers appreciate suggestions, so on Thursdays, I’ll talk about literary things.

Film Fest Fridays: I love movies. I worked at Blockbuster all through college, and it was my favorite job EVER! Well, maybe not my favorite ever, but it was a pretty interesting place to work. I have lots of funny stories from those years. Lately I have slacked off on my movie-watching, so on Fridays I will report on the best movie(s) I’ve seen lately. And if you’re lucky I might tell some funny stories about working at Blockbuster.

Super Crafty Saturdays: So, I like to make stuff. Which is why my blog is called “She’s Crafty.” And because it reminds me of my college roommate, Bucket, who loved the Beastie Boys. On Saturdays I’ll tell you about the latest crafty projects I’ve got going on.

And I’ll leave Sundays open for surprises. You never know what you might get! I might need a day off. 🙂