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I’ve had my eye on Blik’s removable vinyl wall graphics for a while as a potential way to spice up the apartment without getting in too much trouble with our manager.  The problem is, they look neatest when adhered on a colorfully painted wall.



Blik stocks original graphics, as well as designs from Threadless, Nintendo, and, for some strange reason, American indie-pop band of Montreal.

“[Frontman Kevin] Barnes named his band Of Montreal because he wanted people to think his band was from Montreal … Why not just name the band “We’re from Montreal” then, and get it over with?  Oh right, because Barnes wanted to make it extraordinarily difficult for fans to use his band’s name in a sentence:

Of Montreal Fan: Ever heard of Of Montreal? I’m a fan of Of Montreal. In my book there’s nobody above Of Montreal.

Hot Indie Chick: You’re hooked on phonics, aren’t you?”, “The 25 Most Ridiculous Band Names in Rock History,” of which of Montreal* is #16

*See what kind of prepositional bedlam just resulted there?  gahh

For me, though, the real gold doesn’t lie in plastering “The Skeletal Lamping Collection” all over my bedroom walls.  I’m more drawn to the prospect of Blik’s Prose line, which allows customers to custom-order vinyl graphics of a favorite quote of their choice:

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Raymond Chandler, The High Window

Raymond Chandler, The High Window

Lost, Season 1

Lost, Season 1

If I were to choose one, I’d currently go for this line from T.S. Eliot in my kitchen:

“[She] slips and pulls the table cloth

Overturns a coffee-cup,

Reorganised upon the floor

She yawns and draws a stocking up;”

T.S. Eliot, Sweeney among the Nightingales

It seems appropriate for my usual early morning stupor.  As usual, feel free to write your own ideas in the comments.


Free poster + printer + craft supplies = Sweet poster mod for my room.

"for life's not a paragraph/And death i think is no parenthesis"

I got this giant black-and-white poster of a lone bird from a recent trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  I wanted to spice the poster up a bit without ruining the poignancy of the shot, so I went at it with a minimalist design and some basic craft supplies.

The words I chose for the poster are the final lines from a gorgeous e e cummings poem that reminds me how love is often more emotional than logical:

since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,

and kisses are a far better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers.  Don’t cry

–the best gesture of my brain is less than your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for eachother: then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

e e cummings, “since feeling is first”

Apartment art doesn’t have to be expensive; the total cost of this project was just $0.11 for the yellow paper.  On an adjacent wall, I’ve hung an iconic image of actress Audrey Hepburn from her 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  It’s actually a cardboard box that used to hold a canvas of an identical image; I found the empty box at Goodwill and convinced them to give it to me at no charge.  It too was a triumphant moment in my career as a thrifty college student.

If you liked “since feeling is first”, or if you’re just not a big fan of capital letters, read a small collection of other e e cummings poems here.

One of the new things college freshmen have to learn in the first few weeks is how to do their laundry properly.  It’s amazing to see that some of your floormates who are smart enough to build a computer or win a debate tournament haven’t the faintest idea how to sort their laundry or what machine settings to use.

First, you need a kickass laundry basket.  I got mine from IKEA, and I almost always get compliments on it in the elevator or in the laundry room because it’s just that flippin’ awesome.  The most important two aspects of a laundry basket, though, is that it fits in your closet and has comfortable handles.

My laundry basket can beat up your laundry basket.

My laundry basket can beat up your laundry basket.

Your other basic laundry supplies should be: a net for delicate clothes, a detergent for front-loading washers, fabric softener sheets, and a quality stain remover.  I’ve tried many stain removers over the years, and Zout is the best.  It comes in a spray, foam, and liquid; I prefer the liquid.  It uses enzymes to get out all kinds of stains without damaging the fabric.  In most cases, it doesn’t even matter how old or set in the stains are.  Seriously, Zout is your new laundry best friend/miracle worker/life saver.

Canonization of Zout forthcoming?

Canonization of Zout forthcoming?

When it comes time to sort your laundry, you should sort whites/light colors in one load, and bold/dark colors in another load.  If you go to Berkeley, you’ll probably have a third pile for blue clothes that consists entirely of jeans and Cal gear.  Remember to pre-treat clothes with stains.

The classic sorting rule about washing new clothes is that if you’re washing something for the first time and it is not pure white, you should really wash it by itself.  If you’re feeling particularly lazy and/or poor (in other words, if you’re a college student and not Martha Stewart), you can risk washing the item with everything else and you’ll probably be fine if you use cold water.

In fact, the most foolproof setting for all loads of laundry is cold water, because it prevents colors from bleeding and is far more environmentally friendly.  We’re big on that in Berkeley.  The only reason to use warm or hot water is if you have a load full of white bedsheets; white obviously doesn’t bleed or fade, and hot water kills germs.  Permanent press is fine unless the load contains delicates, in which case your setting of choice should be obvious.

The Wasup machine is a water-saving combination washing machine and toilet for urban dwellers.  Awkward.

The Wasup machine is a water-saving combination washing machine and toilet for urban dwellers. Awkward.

When you transfer clothes from the washer to the dryer, remember to remove delicates for air-drying.  Also, check to see if your stain remover has worked; if it hasn’t, and you throw that shirt in the dryer, all bets on future removal are off and you could be a very sad camper.  Remember to clean the lint screen, and if you have anything particularly linty to dry, like a towel, consider setting it aside rather than throw it in with all of your black shirts.  Don’t forget the fabric softener sheet, and use the delicate heat setting.  Any higher, and the industrial power of coin-operated machines will shrink your clothes.

Remember to set a timer for your washer and dryer so that your clothes don’t get unceremoniously dumped on a neighboring machine by an impatient fellow laundry-doer.  There’s nothing worse in laundry land than having all of your underwear piled out in the open for all the world to see.  Don’t forget to fold your clothes right after you take them out of the dryer to save yourself a lot of work with an iron later.

Overwhelmed?  Chin up, you can’t be worse than Rachel in this classic Friends episode:

Michael Bluth: What have we always said is the most important thing?

George Michael Bluth: Breakfast.

Michael: Family.

George Michael: Family, right. I thought you meant of the things you eat.

Arrested Development

I never skip breakfast, and I’m surprised when my friends say they do.  It’s really not too difficult to toast an English muffin or pour a bowl of cereal in the morning on your way out the door, and it makes such a big difference in your concentration levels and your mood for the rest of the morning.

Lately, I’ve been having Trader Joe’s Frosted Shredded Bite Size Wheats (basically fancified Mini Wheats, okay?) and I love them.  They have 90% of my daily value of iron, which is important because I’m iron deficient.  If I have a bowl of wheats with soymilk, that’s my entire daily value right there.

Trader Joe's Frosted Shredded Bite Size Wheats

Trader Joe's Frosted Shredded Bite Size Wheats

Everyone has a different way of eating cereal.  I like mine with soymilk to add sweetness and nutrition, but just enough to get the cereal wet.  I really hate eating cereal with a big bowl of milk, so that at the end you’re left with sugary milk with little bits of cereal floating in it that your mom makes you drink.

This method is way better.

This method is way better.

I also like adding bananas or peaches on top for potassium and vitamins, as well as a big glass of soymilk on the side.  Awesomely healthy; all four main food groups are represented (grains, protein, fruits, dairy).

Breakfast of Champions.

Breakfast of champions.