Thursday, July 31, 2014

Life Lessons from Emily Dickinson

Miss Dickinson was as wise as she was poetic...
1) Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul--and sings the tune without the     words--and never stops at all.
2) Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.
3) If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.

4) People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.

5) Forever is composed of nows.

6) The brain is wider than the sky.

7) I argue thee that love is life.  And life hath immortality.






Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ebola Epidemic Relief Fund

The recent Ebola outbreak in Africa has broken our hearts, and we are sending wishes of support to its victims.  We also donated to Global Giving's Ebola Epidemic Relief Fund to help raise money for education and medical supplies. Here's some info from the site about the epidemic:

Summary

Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria are experiencing the most lethal Ebola outbreak on record. This is the first large scale outbreak of the virus in the region and communities are struggling to contain the epidemic.

What is the issue, problem, or challenge?

The Ebola virus is highly contagious, has no known treatment or cure, and is fatal within days or weeks in most cases. Since early this year, an outbreak of the most lethal strain of the Ebola virus has spread through Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. As of the end of July, the outbreak has resulted in more than 1,200 reported cases of the disease and almost 700 deaths, making it the most deadly Ebola epidemic in history.

How will this project solve this problem?

This fund will ensure that aid organizations on the ground in West Africa have the resources they need to stop the outbreak. Funds will be used for medical supplies to care for those already infected, protective equipment to keep health workers safe, and educational campaigns to inform the public about Ebola and how it spreads.

Potential Long Term Impact

We believe that organizations that are deeply-rooted in local communities are often in the best position to provide long-term support for disaster victims. By funding the relief efforts of local organizations, donations to this fund have the potential to build stronger disaster-response capacity so that these organizations are better equipped to face future disasters. GlobalGiving will post reports about how funds have been used and will email these reports to donors and subscribers.
For more info and to donate to Global Giving, you can click here.  

<3 Team Frankenkitty & Friends

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dancing with Flat Feet

Being somewhat pigeon-toed and suffering from what is known as "overpronation" (when the foot rolls inwards too much), my feet and ankles often cause everything from walking around the house to working out to be painful.  My arches press against the floor with every step, my joints make weird noises, and the balls of my feet end up aching when neglected.  When my knees started producing an unpleasant popping sound while I was dancing around the living room one day, Iris suggested to me something brilliant: slippers. Specifically ballet-style slippers, which don't slide off and allow movement.  Some even have cushioned soles.
I know, let it sink in: cushioned soles.  To anyone with foot pain, those two words fall into the same category as "limitless coffee" and "healthy chocolate."
I ordered a pair of slippers off of Amazon.  They're periwinkle and made by Isotoner, and, despite being one of the more expensive purchases that my family has made, they have made a massive difference, and doing things like dancing, working out, standing in the kitchen, and walking around have become much more pleasant on my feet.
Overpronation: 0.  Slippers: 1. 

<3 Frances

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dreaming of Sleep

SLEEP.  It's the time for your body to heal, refresh, and rebuild, and it can seem, at times, almost impossible to achieve, leaving us feeling like the horribly rest-deprived girl in the featured Monica Ray comic strip.  But it doesn't have to be this way, and it definitely shouldn't.  As someone who grinds their teeth (yay for night guards) and has suffered several nights in a row of nightmares at a time (falling elevators, zombie outbreaks, public humiliation, etc.), I know that it's hard to get the coveted eight hours in, and, while the all-nighter may sometimes be necessary (term reports call for drastic measures!), check out a few of the things that sleep does to help you.  Knowing all its benefits may make you reconsider being nocturnal all those times that you don't actually have to be. After all, late-night TV shows have the benefit of reruns.  Your health?  Not so much.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday and Manatees

It's finally Friday, and we all know what that means:
I know we haven't posted in the last two days, as we've been working hard on the many projects going on right now, but we managed to find a few minutes over the course of this week to whip up a miraculous super-healthy, super-yummy recipe that will find its way onto Moth Bird shortly.  We also used a spare moment to donate to one of our favorite non-profit organizations, Save the Manatee Club.  As the name suggests, SMC works to promote the protection of manatees worldwide and has a sanctuary for manatees in southern Florida, and yesterday we participated in a fundraiser to help buy food for a newly-rescued calf named Mitch who lost his mother.  You can click here to see a video of him--he's adorable.    
Happy weekend!  It's detox time!

<3 Frances

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Dance, Dance, Dance"

As the music-obsessed child of someone who worked at their college radio station, I spend a fair amount of time listening to Rhapsody, burning CDs, and sorting through vintage mixed-tapes (yes, I do have a tape-player, and I'm not afraid to use it).  Indie and alternative were what I listened to even before I knew what they were, and since I've gotten older I've found a genuine interest in finding new artists to listen to.  When Iris, Jill, and I found Lykke Li and Bon Iver a few years ago, we fell in love with their morose lullabies, and their melancholic lyrics were painful in the best way possible.  Then this video showed up: Bon Iver and Lykke Li TOGETHER, performing an upbeat song, and our hearts, broken by the sadness we had gotten so attached to, were ecstatic to have an opportunity for happiness.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Upcycling (And Bicycling)


I like taking a bike ride now and then, but my favorite form of "cycling" is upcycling--as in taking old clothes and refurbishing them.  My mum is an expert upcyclist.  The empire waist blouse I'm wearing in this picture was found at Goodwill, but the neckline had been damaged and the button was missing, so she restitched it and added a button-of-choice.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Skintervention: Kate Somerville

Left to right:
Toner, D-Scar Stick,
Detox Cleanser, EradiKate
I mentioned the Kate Somerville line for acne-prone skin in the post about my blueberry obsession, and I wanted to talk a little bit more about it because of the wonders it has done for my face. In the several years that I've suffered from severe acne, I've tried diets, supplements, and a slew of products.  While I think all the products I've used are wonderful, it's been hard to find ones that are both cruelty-free towards animals and also strong against blemishes.
Enter Kate Somerville.
The LA-based skin expert's line of skin serums and creams have managed to do the impossible: clear my skin up!  Being the sort of person who can only afford thrift-store shopping, I understand that they're expensive, but, if you have skin like mine and any money saved up that you'd be willing to put towards complexion clearance, it's worth it.  Think of it as a medicinal investment as opposed to a splurge.
I get breakouts mostly on my cheeks, forehead, and nose (oh, my, that's a lot), and they leave scars on my face. Since I started using Kate Somerville's Clarifying Treatment Toner, Detox Daily Cleanser, and EradiKate Serum (a sulfur solution) in February, though, I've had a significant reduction in the number of active breakouts, and the D-Scar Stick is working like a magic wand for my scars, reducing redness and depth.  I'm optimistic, and I'll keep you updated about progress with the scars.













<3 Frances

Friday, July 18, 2014

Etsy Moment

There are few things in life that can make your day 100 times better, and the art in Etsy's "The Little Fox" shop is one of them. The title of the piece below, "Dance Party Under The Moon," made tiny rainbows explode in my heart.
Please, take a moment to bask in the adorable glory that is a dancing hedgehog.






















<3 Frances

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Skintervention: Blueberries

What Are the Benefits of Blueberries for the Skin?
SO MANY BLUEBERRIES!
My favorite food is, hands down, the blueberry.  It's adorable, accessible, delicious, and has been like a freaking superhero as far as my skin is concerned.
That's right--my skin.  Pale and freckled, it plays host to a wonderful little friend named Acne.  Safe to say, I've been trying to evict Acne from my face for several years now, and I just recently discovered the benefits of both Kate Somerville's cruelty-free complexion line and the blueberry.  I find that my skin is significantly better after I have blueberries, and now I horde them in the freezer and refrigerator.  They're more than just fruit to me--they're a prescription for my skin.  For more on how the blueberry can save your complexion, visit the article on it at LiveStrong.


<3 Frances

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coffee

Let's all take a moment and love coffee birds.

Planets Anonymous

Planets Anonymous
“Good morning, everyone.”
The fluorescent overhead lights, of which there seemed to be a million, flickered dimly, casting yellow glows against the blackened ceiling. It was as though the room went on forever, stretching out into the vast beyond tirelessly. Alas, it didn’t; it was merely a part of something much larger and inexplicable, a system with the same name as an indulgent caramel candy bar. And it was within this system that the members of Planets Anonymous resided, gravitating in a silent harmony around a blazing sphere of fire known as the Sun. He, at the center of it all, saw everything, and had declared that a meeting take place before another cycle of rotation began.
“I hope you’ve all been doing well since our last gathering.” Sun cleared his throat, hair golden, eyes radiating with flame. It was Planets Anonymous protocol that a more universal appearance be taken by each of its members, and, for somewhat satirical purposes, all had voted on imitating the human form. They were, after all, the most meddling of the terrestrial beings. “Who would like to start today? Perhaps you, Mercury?”
Mercury was a rather small, hyperactive force, with a silvery complexion and locks the color of a sepia photograph. And he was boastful, too, always telling everyone about how he shared a name with both one of Earth’s periodic elements and a Roman god. That’s right–not just one thing, but two. “Of course I’d like to start, Sun.”
Jupiter let out a slight moan. Mercury always started first; it was his alignment. Moving his leg up and down anxiously in his seat, the fiery little planet began. “Hi, I’m Mercury.”
“Hi, Mercur-”
“Not….not much has really changed, see, with respect to me. My atmosphere’s stayed pretty much uniform. But a couple of Earth years ago, right after our last meeting, some humans sent some sort of ‘MESSENGER’ spacecraft to check me out, and it recorded magnesium in my atmosphere. Took ‘em long enough, right?” Mercury laughed enthusiastically, then, at his own joke, clapping his hands together as though it were hysterical.
Sun nodded placidly. “Thank you, Mercury. How about you, Venus?”
“Me?” Venus asked. Effortlessly, she moved a sandy strand of burning hair from her delicate face. From a distance, it appeared completely unblemished and pearlescent; however, as her sister planet Earth knew, that was merely due to a thickly concealing cloud layer. And beneath her guise of calm beauty was volatility. “Let’s see, then…hi, I’m Venus.”
“Hi, Venus.”
“I continue to attain the highest temperature in our solar system, my volcanoes continue to be doing well…” She looked away thoughtfully for a moment. “I’m sure I’m missing somet-”
“Or maybe it’s just that nothing has happened,” Saturn muttered.
“Excuse me?” Venus raised an eyebrow, gentle eyes flashing the color of molten lava. “Is there a problem, Sat?”
Saturn stole a glance at one of the rocky bands around his finger. “I don’t know, Venus. Is there?”
“Look, just because you’re a gas giant doesn’t mean you get to interrup–”
“Quiet!” Sun rose from his seat, tall amongst all the others, heat emanating off of him. “There will be no arguing.” He paused, the temperature of the room dropping. “Let’s move on to you, Earth. Since Venus seems to be done.”
Earth was noticeably fragile looking beside her sister, blue complexion faded and green eyes a foggy ashen color. She’d been getting worse every meeting, wheezing her words out through charcoal-stained lungs, bloodied scars and patches of radioactivity disfiguring her skin. “Yes, Sun.” Her lips were dry, cracked, head burning with a fever. “Hello, everyone, I’m Earth.”
“Hi, Earth.”
“You look unwell,” Venus said. She reached an arm towards her sister, but Earth pulled away, the heat too extreme to bear.
“That’s because I am unwell, Venus.” Earth sighed, brushed a leaf out of her hair with her fingertips. “It’s this violence, this pollution, this discrimination, this starvation, this poverty…it’s too much! I fear that I cannot take it any longer.” She let her head fall, tears streaming out of her eyes. “I’m supposed to sustain life, not destruction.”
“There, there, Earth,” Venus whispered. The mood had gotten significantly more morose, the other planets sitting in their chairs awkwardly, watching as Earth fell apart.
“It’s the humans, isn’t it?” Jupiter asked. She, like Mars, had an off-red complexion, locks the color of clay.
Earth hesitated. “In a sense, yes.” She paused. “There are some of them who…who take me for granted. They either think I’m immortal or that, if I am to die, they can just relocate.”
Sun stiffened. “Relocate? Where? I thought that they had yet to realize there were other life-sustaining planets.”
“But that’s just the thing! They don’t seem to see that as a barrier anymore. They’ve already planned trips to Mars!”
“Why me?” Mars exclaimed. His voice echoed through the meeting room. It was amazing that someone so small could create a noise that was so loud, so commanding. Then again, though, he was named after the god of war.
“How should I know, dear Mars?” Earth asked. “They’ve…they’ve separated themselves from me. No longer am I their planet–they are the planet. Everything else? It’s expendable.”
Mars’ eyes were wide with terror. “The rovers are fine. Wonderful, even. But the humans, too? I can’t handle the humans. Roads, sewers, waste processing plants….” He appeared nauseous at the very thought.
“And what happens when they’re done with Mars? Will they find ways to populate us, as well?” Neptune roared. “They’re a plague, I tell you! A plag–”
“Silence!” Sun stood from his seat, a red halo burning around him. “There is no need to panic. The humans have yet to lay foot on Martian soil. Currently, the only one who need worry is Earth. And even for her it has yet to be over.”
The noise of the room dropped significantly with Sun’s outburst. Earth retreated back into a quiet misery, biting her lip with pain as another fight broke out amongst the humans. All she could hear were the screams of wounded animals, lost hopes. She was losing control. Even Nature had managed to temporarily slip from her grasp.
Humanity had finally gone too far.


Paper Dolls


As it turns out, old magazines and scrapbook paper make for really fun paper dolls. It's like drawing, but the clothes and hair have already been made for you.

<3 Frances

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Marla's Right Hand















Marla’s Right Hand
Inspired by Berenice Abbott’s Untitled

            marla once told me
            her hands would remain on the keys                             
            when she died
            but i can’t find them anywhere
            and the piano went silent
            now a phantom
            quiet in a corner
            the bench warmed by her every day
            now lonely and cold
            waiting

            when i was little and scared
and couldn’t sleep
            i would sneak down wooden stairs
            slowly, in socks, no creaking
            and sit on the bottom step
            ear pressed against the wall
            listening to her on the other side
playing debussy in the dark
            i would fall asleep, safe and warm
            in auricular aesthesia

            she couldn’t sleep either, could she?

            now insomnia haunts
            and aches
            no one to play it away
            marla had black and white keys
yellowed, dog-eared pages of sheet music
drowning out sharp pain, angst
hidden inside
fevers, night sweats
screaming joints, bones
blackblue bleeding bruises
            swollen spleen and lymph nodes

            she couldn’t eat
            or sleep
or hope
she played chopin, liszt
philip glass, shostakovich

            polishing the maple
            brahms, ravel
tchaikovsky
            with lemon essence oil
that made her heart leap up
but didn’t save her
xrays and radiation failed too

having to go to school without her
walking by with heavy bookbag
heavy heart
            i imagine her sitting there
            gracefully somehow turning pages
with just friction
between paper and fingers of left hand
while the right hand played alone
            i imagine what she promised was true

and walking by the field of gravestones
            i imagine that hers isn't there

because the loneliness of her being gone
is rachmaninoff
unbearable

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Jill's Library: The Crow Girl

Welcome to Jill's Library, where fiction and reality are of equal importance.
In honor of my grandmother, today's featured must-read is The Crow-Girl by Bodil Bredsdorff, which tells the meaningful and at times melancholy story of a young orphan searching for connection after unbearable loss.
Note: You will cry.

"This is Just How It Is Now..."


We've been listening to Annalie Wilson lately, and this is a recording of her performance of "Skin."  Thank you, YouTube!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Grecian Updo


Here is a visual guide to the "lazy girl" Grecian headband-tuck that I found on Pinterest, featuring pictures from The Freckled Fox.  This hairstyle has made my mornings significantly less dramatic.

<3 Frances

Patchwork Blouses and Lazy Hair



I was very excited yesterday because I got to wear my thrift-found patchwork blouse!  It's too big, but I'm a fan of oversize things, and I paired it with board short-style cargos (they were a $2.00 find), a hand-me-down Old Navy sweater, and, of course, one of my many "hoarding bags."


I've been experimenting with new hairstyles lately as well, and this one has become a new favorite!  I'll post better pictures of it with a how-to later, but all you need to do it is a thick headband.  Then you just wrap your hair around the back of the headband, and it looks very Grecian.  Plus, it only takes a few seconds. Yay for lazy hairstyle techniques!

<3 Frances

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Owls

Today, I feel, is a day on which laughter is necessary, and cute, sarcastic images of baby animals make people feel good on the inside in a way paralleled only by ice cream and Netflix marathons.

Just A Thought...


Friday, July 11, 2014

1980s Thrifting (Flashback Fridays)

I admit it: I love school Spirit Week.  But even more than that I love thrifting, and even more than that I love vintage.  Naturally, then, Decade Day is something that makes school entirely worthwhile, and one of my more recent attempts at putting together a Decade Day outfit took me back to the 1980s.  That's right: light-wash denim jacket, black dress, Madonna gloves, big jewelry.  And all the attire was inexpensively thrift-found!
<3 Frances

Monday, July 7, 2014

Personality Profiling....Or How Everything is Starting to Make Sense Now

I'm the sort of person who really likes taking online quizzes in-between writing and looking at the photoessays featured on Mother Jones.  I think I enjoy them so much because they're usually not so sad as the material I usually look at (PETA's Facebook posts break my heart, but I am drawn to them anyway), and I also like seeing how I fall as far as my answers are concerned.  When my mum introduced me to the Meyers-Briggs Personality Profiling System, another quiz, I was therefore really quite enthusiastic about taking it.
At the end of the few dozen questions, I received the same result that my mum had: "You are an INFJ."  We were both sitting there needing to figure out what on Earth that meant.  The most surprising part of this, though? It turned out to make total sense.  The INFJ personality type, by description, is shy and quiet in social situations but also deeply affected by and sensitive to all that is going on around them, leading them to be obsessed with a cause (animal rights, environmentalism, etc.) to a point of madness. Seeing how accurately the program had identified us, my mum and I looked into the other types, and I'm sharing the program now because, if you at times feel like you don't "fit in," it may help you to make sense of things.

How Meyers-Briggs Works
Basically, the Meyers-Briggs test analyzes your responses to a series of questions in order to calculate whether or not you're an E or an I, a S or a N, a T or a F, and a J or a P.  It then takes the letters you get from those four sets and strings them together to determine your personality type (example: ESTJ).
Click here to visit Prelude Character Analysis's page about the different types and what the letters mean.

Hopefully some of you find this to be interesting or helpful.  Seeing how the INFJ interacts with other types really helped me to make sense of the relationships that I have with other people, and I know others who have used the profiling system to understand why they don't always feel "connected" to those around them.

<3 Frances

Mouse Ears

Mouse ears (otherwise known as pigtail buns) are, like shortalls, quite possibly one of the most awesome style-related creations ever.  They can, however, be difficult to do, and, after several days' worth of practice (and getting help from my mum), I have come up with a decent idea of how to do them. Note that they aren't exactly the same thing as Princess Leia's amazing hair buns in Star Wars but rather more attainable versions that also evoke thoughts of manga.
Steps
1) Part your hair down the center, separating it as you would if you were going to put it in pigtails. Let's call them pigtail A and pigtail B.
2) Take pigtail A and pull it up as if you are going to make a very high pigtail coming off one side of your head.
3) Twist pigtail A and then wrap it in a bun, securing with an elastic.
4) Repeat for pigtail B.


<3 Frances

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Writer's Block

It's been over a month since my last blog post, and, while I'd like to say that the only reason for this was end-of-the-year school projects, I've decided to just get it over with and recognize my susceptibility to the terrible condition that is writer's block. 
*cue terrified screams and doom music*
Honestly, though--writer's block is something that has plagued me my entire life and, if I know myself, always will. It's like a pessimistic little friend living on my shoulder and whispering doubtful things into my ear every time I try to get a decent sentence down.  Eventually it starts to scream, and then I lose all patience with myself and all the supposedly literary genes in my body just shut down.  This is a phenomenon afflicting millions of writers all over the world, and, while I take this moment to reflect on their shared pain, I am also consciously deciding to try to fight writer's block.  
Here are a few helpful tips (that I need to follow more often) that will help pull the evil little doubt demon out of your ear:
  • Listen to music.  I find that sad indie songs help me the best, but it's different for everyone depending on who they are and what they're writing.  Is it a scene with a party? Try Skrillex.  Did her family just die before her eyes? Lykke Li or Bon Iver.
  • Watch movies.  Finally--an excuse to sit by Netflix!  Like music, different genres of films can have different effects on what you're writing as far as what they'll inspire you to produce. 
  • Watch movie trailers.  Okay, this is kind of a weird one, but movie trailers are crazy inspiring sometimes.  They're made of what are supposedly the best scenes of the movie being advertised and usually have gripping background music that'll get you all excited and, hopefully, get the creative blood pumping back into your brain.  
  • Read. Reading what other authors have written can often kick-start your writing again.  It's like when people practice immersion in order to better learn a language--exposure is the best way to get your head in the game.