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Travel Whim: Kobenhavn, Denmark

June 30, 2013 1 comment

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I just came back from my first European excursion to Kobenhavn, Denmark and had an amazing time.  I spent 8 days touring buildings with architecture students, and saw some of the most beautiful designs. The Danish people live in small spaces (hence, Ikea) and take pride in their modern living spaces. Women hold many of the top jobs- thus marriage and having babies don’t top their to-do list. As a result, the birth rate in Copenhagen is considered “dangerously low.”

The country provides social programs such as free medical care and college tuition. Yes, free tuition, housing and a $1000/month stipend! Danish people don’t seem to worry too much about money, which is probably why they are considered the happiest people in the world. They love to shop, eat at cafes and travel. They appear genuine, less intrusive than Southerners (groan away, its the truth!) and were glad to help if one of us needed directions.

Most importantly, even the immigrant neighborhoods appeared suitable for living. Subsidized housing is required in many of the ritzy condos and apartments and  unemployment is only around 1%. Compared to my hometown, Kobenhavn is the Taj Mahal.

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LET’S EAT!

I ate, A LOT. Danish food was better than I expected. Smorrebrod (open sandwiches) are delicious! They are often topped with fresh fish, meat, caviar, greens, eggs and even fruit.  Some of my other obsessions: Belgian waffles, Turborg beer (in the morning) and almond cake.

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Contrary to Ikea’s frozen food section, Scandinavians don’t just eat salty fish and bread. The city has a juxtapose of immigrants from Poland, East Africa, Italy, and China so there were countless dishes to choose from.

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Cycling Superhighway

Nearly 55 percent of people in Copenhagen use biking as their means of transportation. The Danish government is big on clean air and green energy using wind power to produce 50% of the country’s energy as a result of global warming; which they started tackling in the 80s. The government discourages driving with high gas prices. It was somewhere around $8 per gallon during my stay but I was only in a car twice- to and from the airport.

But unlike many American cities that don’t accommodate bikers, here cyclists have their own lanes, which include traffic lights at busy intersections and even designated turning lanes. These are necessary because just like in cars- traffic on the bike lanes occur during the early mornings.

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IF YOU BUILD IT…

If you are a design buff, than Kobehnhavn is the place to go. Many of the tourists were design and/or architecture students, professors and investors. Some of the biggest name in architecture are Danish, including Bjarke Ingels (BIG), whose designs include the 8 House, a three-dimensional housing block that connects by a continuous walking and bike path from the bottom to the 10th floor. Its amazing to see in person.

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View of the 8 House from the top

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“An alley of 150 rowhouses stretches through the entire block and twists all the way from street level to the top and down again. Where social life, the spontaneous encounter and neighbor interaction traditionally is restricted to the ground level, the 8 House allows it to expand all the way to the top,” -Bjarke Ingels of the 8 House

I end with a drunk Danish man (or maybe he was just really, really happy) dancing during the Midsummer Eve Festival. No beer glasses were thrown during the making of this clip, although we were told this is common when Danes get drunk.

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Whim Breaker: My 610 Sq Ft. Space

June 7, 2013 1 comment

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Decorating on a budget when you’re already cheap requires lots of time and patience. It took me six months to furnish my apartment, considering my move-in boxes only consisted of books, journals and a few dishes. I was practically starting from scratch, so it was important for my new space to feel like home, and I didn’t want to hurry the process. Size was an important factor in the selection process of furniture and accents so naturally, Ikea was my #1 go-to stop. But Ikea can be so overwhelming so I made sure I searched for items online first- via the catalog, Pininterest or Craigslist. When it was time to visit the actual showrooms, I went during non-busy hours- weekdays during the day or later in the evening to avoid the amateurs milling around. Oh, and always check out the As-Is department first. I’ve purchased everything from an extra sofa cover to coffee cups for more than half-off the original price. How I decorated my 610 sq ft., 1 bedroom/1 bath space after the jump:

 

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Ikea’s Blekinge White Karlstad Sofa was a Craigslist find for $100. I searched for months till I found one in decent condition for under $150. It was originally green so I swapped out the removable cover for a white one, and even found extra pieces on clearance. Perfect for fabric rotation in between washes. Its summer so I’m keeping the colors light with bright yellow pillows imprinted with eclectic, white patterns, and gray trim to bring out the rug (Ikea, $27). 

A vintage, black and white photograph of my parents is the centerpiece, and makes the room dreamy and romantic (Ikea frame, $15). Any photograph will do. Just make sure its big and in black and white. Office Depot did the print for $10.

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It took me three months till I finally purchased a foam mattress. Yes, it had to be foam because well their better and after sleeping on a friend’s rustic couch for two months, I deserved it.

 The ottoman was a recent splurge-(Ross, $100) Yes, Ross has items that cost $100. I know, cray. But it doubles as extra seating and storage unit for winter clothes. 

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Polka-dotted Ralph Lauren sheets (Marshalls, $40) give the room some texture. My minimalist approach to designing makes me shy away from patterns and heavy textures but I take chances when I can. Prior to these, I stuck with all-white, el cheapo sheets, which were incredibly thin and wore out after a single wash. So if you’re going to do better quality on anything in your apartment, let it be the sheets and pillows. A good night’s sleep is priceless.

The Calvin Klein pillows in the back come extra firm, while these jumbo size Cynthia Rowley bean-bag style pillows are used to accent the bedspread (Marshalls, 19.99 each)

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I don’t spend much time in my kitchen except to grab more wine but that doesn’t mean I overlooked it in the decorating process. I’m a regular juicer and raw foodie so glass tupperware, a cutting board and easy access to utensils and a dish rack are essential. Ikea has great hanging dish racks and cup holders (originally a plant rack) that I purchased for under $15. The silverware rack was a Target find for $5. 

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Ah, where all the magic happens. I like a big desk, and the fact that my office is in my living room didn’t stop me from buying one. This one from Ikea ($69) sits pretty in an L-shaped corner of the room where it faces the front door. I’m not a fan of desks facing walls. As a writer, being able to look outside the window for inspiration is essential  Sidenote: my home office is always a bit cluttered, but I never feel compelled to tidy it up. Despite its location, it in no way overpowers the room.

The hanging shelves (Ikea, $10 each) are perfect for small spaces like these. I use them for notebooks and journals. And in case you were wondering, those white things that look like blenders are speakers. Don’t worry, I get that all the time. (Amazon, $69).

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Its typical for the older apartments in my city to have ugly bathrooms, and mine is no exception. The kiwi green tile doesn’t help the situation so I keep everything white besides a large Leonardo Dicaprio poster hanging over the toilet.

The story: my aunt found it in a thrift store bin for $3 and thought it would look great in my male cousin’s bedroom. He of course, disagreed but when I saw it sitting outside her house awaiting trash day, I couldn’t bear to see it go. Heeey Leo!

Total Cost: $1200

Inspiration: apartmenttherapy.com, PinInterest, Vogue Decor

Sources: Ikea, Marshalls, Target, Craigslist and Amazon

 

Whim #16

March 6, 2013 1 comment

Laura Mvula’s music is so wildly soulful that it only makes sense she once worked at the Birmingham School of Orchestra– as a receptionist. Her velvety voice resonates without overpowering the fluid melodies on her new album, Sing to the Moon.

Check out the video for her new single, Green Garden.

Categories: ART

Food Whim: P’Cheens

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Old Fourth Ward’s hip gastropub, P’Cheens spins funky beats and offers $10 bottomless mimosas on Sundays between noon and 5pm, and I am always down. While I wasn’t in the drinking mood, I did splurge on some tasty food. My only qualm is that their limited brunch menu doesn’t offer their mac -n-cheese. *sad face*

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[from left to right] tom kai gai– chicken soup with tender meat, mushrooms and scallions swimming in coconut milk broth. A bit on the salty side but still hit the soul. (Side note: our soups came in smaller bowls so that we could try both for the price of one)

tomato bisque– not your Campbell’s soup. Nice chunks of hearty tomato

Side salad with fresh onions, tomatoes and slices of Parmesan cheese. Welcome addition for only $3 but may 86 the cheese next time. It was oddly crunchy.

P'cheen

via yelp.com

P’cheens’ sweet and spicy, chargrilled wings comes dressed with sesame seeds and scallions, and stacked high on the plate. I only ate two and that was hard. My friend complained about the wings not being hot enough (temperature wise). Hmm.

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The Kicker- P’Cheens’ salmon noodle bowl. TASTY

salmon noodle bowl with udon noodles in a sea of cocunut lime broth, seasoned with jalapenos and cilantro. Perfection in a bowl. Period.

Writer’s New Book Speaks Out About the Racial Divide in Music

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment
What Are You Doing Here?

Laina Dawes’ new book explores black women in heavy metal and why it shouldn’t be that serious.

Heavy metal music critic and photographer, Laina Dawes recently spoke to NPR this month about her new book, “What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in heavy Metal” which is a memoir that also features stories and interviews from black women who happen to be lovers and contributors to the  heavy metal and punk rock music scene. Fans of artists like Black Flag, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath shared their experiences with being the only black woman at live shows while facing ignorance from their own community and racism from others.

“There’s still a lot of resistance in terms of who should be listening to what genre of music based on their gender and their ethnicity,” Dawes told NPR, “which does not make any sense to me.”

Dawes, who grew up in Ontario, Canada says heavy metal spoke to her at a very young age but she faced a lot of resistance from both sides. Interestingly enough, much of heavy metal is derived from the blues sound carried out by many African-American artists.

Dawes points to metal band Deep Purple and their song “Mistreated,” to prove this:

If you get a chance check out her interview. Its worth a listen.

Jaden Smith’s “The Cool Cafe,” Mixtape

December 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Jaden Smith plays the cool kid in his new mixtape, “The Cool Cafe: Cool Tape Vol. 1.” Its pretty good considering the youngest son of actor/rapper Will Smith is only 14-years-old. I couldn’t stop jamming to the “The Coolest,” which gives off a summer, summertime vibe 2.0.

Zoe Kravitz Screams in Yelling to the Sky

December 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Jason Clarke playing the father of Zoe Kravitz in Yelling to the Sky

Yelling to Sky, opens up seemingly lucid, calming, and on easy street, as writer/ director Victoria Mahoney zooms in on Sweetness O’Hara, a soft-spoken, biracial teenager who attempts to live in a world where you are only allowed to be either/or.  Kravitz plays a 17 going on 30, bullied teen well, with hefty doses of tear-jerker moments as she maneuvers within a colorist community where her lighter complexion makes her nothing more than a target.  Best believe, within the first 5 minutes of the opening, (as she is being beaten up on the side of the road by a male classmate), you already start to cringe.

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Notorious’ Antonique Smith as the troubled and biracial Olah

It is her older sister Olah (Anotonique Smith) who comes to save the day. Only she’s pregnant. Very pregnant- which made the visual of her fist-pounding a young boy till he was bloody, bruised even more intense.

But that was the feeling throughout Mahoney’s film, which was an Official Selection at the South by Southwest Film Festival last year. Set in a suburban town in upstate New York, where color lines just don’t cross- Yelling to the Sky is an excellent, thought-provoking, coming-of-age tale that explores the racial, social and emotional tensions that exist in the lives of biracial people.

Indie film Yelling to the Sky, starring Zoe Kravitz, Gabourey Sidibe and Jason Clarke was a Berlin Film Festival nominee.

But if that isn’t enough, the cast includes the dynamic Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Australian actor Jason Clarke ( O’Hara’s abusive Irish father). and his African-American wife, Shareeka Epps, who suffers from mental illness.

Categories: ART