The MOMA; A New Favorite

love

Whether it’s scoffing at the extreme simplicity of a single-toned canvas, ogling the more bizarre Dada pieces, getting a close-up of Frida’s unibrow, or losing oneself in the raw beauty of Starry Starry Night, I submit that everyone has a plethora of reasons to visit the MOMA, or the Museum of Modern Art, in NYC. To be honest, I don’t usually count myself in the more avid or fanatical fans of modern art, but my foray in the magic of the MOMA left me reconsidering some of my preconceived notions surrounding the whole genre.

Thoughts, Tips, and Highlights

1.) Bring your student I.D. for a $10 discount!

moma entry

2.) Spend a long, long, long time looking at one of my new favorite paintings, Hide and Seek, by Pavel Tchelitchew

Hide and Seek

Seriously, though. . . the more you look . . . Tchelitchew

the more you discover . . .

hide and seek

it’s insane, yet magical in its level of detail and nuancetchelitchew

3.) Don’t blink, or you might miss Dali’s melting clocks, because that one is SURPRISINGLY teensy! Seriously. 

dali

This photo gives you some idea as to the proportions. I had no idea. It was very strange…it’s the equivalent of finding out George Washington was only four feet tall, or something.dali1

4.) Appreciate the airy openness and beauty of it all!

moma

5.) Don’t miss the art they hang over by the elevators. . . this Georgia O’Keefe, for example:georgia o'keefe

6.) Brush up on your knowledge of some big names before you go. . . Matisse, Picasso, and Pollack, to name a few. 

matisse

7.) Knowing a little French was very helpful with understanding many of the paintings!french

8.) Whatever else you do, take a moment to really appreciate the energy captured by each brush stroke in Starry Starry Night. 

stars

starry

9.) Know your Dada

dada

10.) Don’t overlook the lesser-known wonders while questing for the big names!definition

Bonus: Take at least one silly picture. . . because there you are, in the presence of tangible relics from Art history!silliness

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Happy adventuring at the MOMA, I can’t wait for my next visit!

 

 

 

 

Nightmare on Memory Lane

Like any self-respecting and morbidly curious person, I have a hard time resisting the allure of boxes upon boxes of yellowed documents, brittle papers, and time-induced-sepia-toned photos. Old things fascinate me in a way I cannot truly put into words. When I decipher the beautiful handwriting from the back of a postcard written in 1857, there is a small glimpse into another world. Maybe I just read too many time-travel books as a child, but I am enthralled by the slightest hint at a story behind the artifact. To feed this strange obsession with the memory lanes of people long gone from this world, I occasionally indulge in my desire to rifle through the boxes that pile up in my favorite antique store up in Gloucester, MA. On my latest trip, I decided to collect some of the eeriest photos to share. So, without further ado, here is one strange and unnerving trip down several long-forgotten memory lanes, with imaginary backstory, courtesy of yours truly.

#1:  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and the clandestine affair ended in vengeful bloodshed. two boys two girls

#2: The Unhappy Short Man and His Captive Bridethe short man

#3: Just before the Killing Spreecreepy

#4: What Horrors Has She Seen?what horrors has this woman just witnessed?

#5: They never again spoke of their grim purpose for entering the woods that day.the woman on the right tho

#6: When they looked at the photo, the twins saw the pale image of their murdured father hovering beside the family.eery

#7: Refusing to allow war to split their family apart, the youngest children they took matters into their own hands, uniting everyone in death, for all eternity.family from hell

#8: The six survivors made a pact never to tell how their simple excursion had resulted in the death of a friend.not a fun picnic to be on

#9: The most ruthless gang of murduresses in American History, photographed with two victims just before the attack.creepy beyond all reason

#10: Their Parents would pay for their transgressions. . . with their lives.fearsome family

#11: Quaking in Fearthey are so frightened

#12: They will come for you, make no mistake about that.terror twins

#14: Final sighting of woman with her kidnapper.something is wrong here

#15: And then the game went horribly, horribly wrong.what is happening?

#16: She is forever watching you; her gaze fixed on you. crazy eyes

#17: The smile of the matriarch was the only herald of impending doom.20140717_150213

#18: Children possessed, these small tyrants prepared for the final take-over
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#19: She wished for escape as they planned her eternal exit. There was only one way to leave the crew.20140717_144421

#20: His death looked like an accident.20140717_151114

#21: The demons that possessed them lay in wait, planning their next meal, the photographer, with delight.20140717_150906

#22: Family secrets must be guarded at all costs, and they grimly prepared to do just that.20140717_145538

#23: When the baby was born, the other children began their lifetime of servitude to their new and volatile master. At age one, when this photograph was taken, only two slaves were left.20140717_150534

#24: When the doll became human, not a soul could have predicted the tragedies that would ensue. 20140717_145641

#25: The painting that absorbed the youth of its owners20140717_145531

#26: The three brothers would stop at nothing to find wives.20140717_150642

#27: It was in medical school that he found his true passion, live dissection. creepy2

#27: The orphan girls had no choice but to pretend all was pristine in their dark world.creepy6

#28: The one-room school house and its devious occupants.creepy0

Well, now I’ve officially creeped myself out. I have an overactive imagination, I know. Sorry if you are overly disturbed by my morbid fascination for the dearly departed and these eery glimpses into lives long-past (which were probably perfectly normal, but certainly don’t look it!).

It’s Summer?!

funny gifs

via

When did that happen? I was teaching school a few days ago! (Actually, seriously. Like 9 days ago I taught school.)

I shall endeavor to keep anyone and everyone posted on the summer adventures of Cakey Hankerson. . . they shall include wedding showers, family reunions, traveling to most major cities on the easter seaboard (slight exaggeration, but at least a few), finally reading some books, planning fall classes, moving into a new school, the 30th birthday of my dear older brother, GISHWHES 2014 and hopefully lots of sunshine and recharging of the metaphorical batteries!

Happy Summer Everyone!

A Frozen Party

Frozen Party Fun - Title

My niece, like most four-year-old girls lately, is deeply obsessed with the film “Frozen”. I know there’s an awful lot of hype surrounding this movie, and most of you feel a little (if not a LOT) fed up with the song “Let it Go”. . . but what four-year-old gets the concept of too-much-media-coverage? Not my niece, that’s for sure. So, when she had her Frozen Birthday Party, it was my job, as a lovingly obsessed aunt, to make sure the details were as wonderful as I could help make them.

Question 1: What to Wear?

The first question regarding any theme party is one of fashion, am I right? SO, with trepidation and a healthy hatred for mass-produced , overpriced, and poor-quality products, I set about sewing/making a dress fit for a (four-year-old) queen.

Frozen Dress - Details

The fabric is all courtesy of Joann Fabrics, and I used a soft t-shirt as the basis for the bodice , so that no itchy seams would bother my sensory-sensitive niece (nothing was sadder than the day she got a beautiful new Cinderella dress and had to take it off because “it hurts real bad”). I made sure the cape was detachable, and (since I was sewing it without my little model present) we used a fancy snowflake pin (thrift store find!) to bustle up the back.

Dress - Details - modeled by Bizz

It was by no means a work of art in couture, but it did the trick. Izzy was delighted. When I walked in and hung it in the front hall, she saw it and immediately exclaimed “MY DRESS!!!” with such joy, that it was worth any&all work involved. Izzy sees the dress

With a little assistance from her Mommy, her hair was tucked into an Elsa-appropriate braid, and the party could start, since the most beautiful princess of all time felt prepped and ready!Bizz's Dress - frozen party

Seriously, though? One more picture, because never has there been a mini-Elsa this adorable. Queen of her party - Bizz

Question 2: What to Eat?

A birthday is not a birthday without a cake. And D’Amici’s bakery knows how to make a phenomenal cake!

frozen cake

With the cake as a central element, I whipped up some colorfully-appropriate cake pops for those children who prefer all of their food on a stick (ahem: my nephew being one of them!).cake pops - frozen party

It was also deemed important to include some more-substantial/less-sweet snacks to balance out all that sugar. food - the spread

Question 3: What to do?

Having a movie-themed party kind of sets the mood for entertainment during the party right? I mean, it’s a given that you will watch the movie at some point. SO, what better idea than to provide cutely-themed popcorn? movie time - frozen entertainment After movie-watching either ends or loses it’s luster with 3-5 yr. old attention spans, its also nice to have some other potential entertainments. I drew/cut out a large Olaf-shaped snowman for a game of Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Snowman. no nose olaf Olaf also made for a nice decorative touch, chilling on the wall (yes, pun intended). It also turns out that my adorable niece loved the decor far more than the game, because she took one look at the wall, gasped, turned to me, and asked very seriously: “I . . . I marry him?” warm hugs - can I marry him While she is a bit young to get married, in my humble opinion, Olaf definitely fulfilled his quota on “warm hugs” for the day.  One other small activity we chose to include was a mini salon (staffed by yours truly) where all of my frozen-colored nail-polish could be displayed for the kiddos selection and subsequent nail-painting. This was fun, and the many small individuals in attendance loved it!nails by elsa

Question #4: What little treats will  enhance the day?

Well, there are certainly many of these ideas floating around to choose from.

It’s a great chance to check out printables available online (many for free!) that can add to the cute-factor. The Melted Snowman labels for water bottles was a nice touch, and as you can see, there are small olaf-stickers on the chocolate kisses! It’s also a great chance to tap into any stores of crystal or milk glass flatware and princess-costumery you have lying around.

Food Decor - setup and cuteness

Another fun detail that my sister pulled off beautifully was the sparkly gift-bags for kiddos who attended the party. These were full of everything from sweet treats to coloring books to tiaras to the little blue wands that you can see peeking out from the tops of the perfectly-chosen glittery gift bags!favors - frozen party

 

And that, friends, is all-questions-answered how we celebrated my niece’s 4th birthday . . .

Frozen Style!

Delta Rae is My Musical True Love

Delta Rae - the Name in Lights Allow me to introduce you to my absolute favorite band, Delta Rae. Now, as soon as I say favorite, I feel guilty, because there are lots of bands that I love quite dearly who compete for the lead, but I think that, after seeing them perform live,  Delta Rae has moved up to first place. Delta Rae is, hands down, the best group of performers I have ever had the privilege to view live. The amount of talent, passion, energy, and no-holds-barred musical enthusiasm that is embodied in their work left me speechless. I really really liked their music before going to their show. . . now I am obsessed! Delta Rae Magnificence

What kind of music do they play?

They’re generally referred to as “American Folk Rock“. Interpret that as you will.

Who are they?

There are 6 band members in Delta Rae: Ian, Eric, Brittany, Liz, Mike, and Grant. Three of them are siblings (Ian, Eric, and Brittany Holljes) – WHICH IS JUST RIDICULOUS. I mean, one family should not be allowed to have that much talent. EVERYBODY in the band does some percussion work, but Ian Holljes  plays guitar and does vocals.  Eric Holljes also does vocals, plays the guitar, piano and keys. Brittany Holljes does insane vocals , as does Elizabeth Hopkins. Mike McKee does percussion, and Grant Emerson plays one awesome-looking-and-sounding bass guitar. With their powers combined, they make musical beauty.

Brilliance of Delta Rae

What makes them so awesome?

There are a lot of ways to answer this question, most of which could come from more qualified individuals – so I’ll just share one of my personal reasons. One of the major elements that makes Delta Rae stand out to me (as something of a vocalist) is how complex and diverse their vocals are. It’s rare to have that many strong lead vocalists in one band, and they don’t just pull it off – they kill it.

What should I listen to first if I’m new to Delta Rae?

I humbly recommend this sampling:

 

If you live in the greater Boston Area (or in reasonable driving distance), you can go to their show this Friday (June 20th!) as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series! I’ll be there!!!

Dance Details: Candyland Prom

Beauty is in the Details

If planning events (albeit somewhat informally) has taught me anything, it is that the devil is in the details, but so is the delight! If you get too caught up in details of an event, you can overlook the fun – but the right details can enhance an event magnificently! This year, our prom theme was “Candyland“, inspired by the classic  board-game, and I had more fun orchestrating the details than I should probably even admit.

Venue/Decor

Decorating the venue is sometimes overlooked when planning events, but adding little details to the overarching venue decor can really pull a theme together. Thankfully there are an incredible number of fun sources of inspiration for these details. We chose to go with the 1978 edition of the Candy Land board for color inspiration and then proceeded to look for fun ways to incorporate those 7 (!) colors without becoming overwhelming!

Candyland Color Palette

The first small detail we chose to incorporate was the lollipop balloons. While I’m fairly certain PVC pipe might have created a better lollipop-balloon stick, we used dowels, because they were very easy to procure. Once we had the balloons (in every color but the pink, which was our accent color), all that remained was to attach the balloons to the dowel tops (duct tape) and wrap the whole thing with cello-wrap before displaying these outside! While we originally wanted to do more (possibly line the walkway into the prom), we decided that it might lessen the elegance of the occasion, so kept it to a minimally sweet splash of color.
lollipop balloons - outside

Our second venue decor involved adding colors (and an extra dose of candy-theme) to the chair backs. Inspired by a blogpost, we purchased dollar-store paper plates (in our six main colors!), a massive spool of ribbon and one serious roll of cello-wrap. Chaos ensued briefly while we wrapped and tied and juggled all 80 or so of these fake, over-sized sweets. However, once in place, the candy decor really lent a nice touch to the venue without detracting from the simply elegant setup. If doing this again, I would be more careful to purchase paper plates that were colorful on both sides to avoid the touch of white peeking up over the uninhabited chair-backs.

Candy Chair-backs

Since it is rare to find a truly nice venue that permits wall or ceiling hangings, tabletops are always a huge element of the decor at our events, and this year was no exception. We started by seeking out the perfect central element to feature, and settled on colorful tulle puffs for the centerpieces. Since our goal was to incorporate the six general colors (red, orange, green, blue, yellow, and purple) with accents of pink and tie in many of the elements of decor, we chose to have pink and black table-runner-squares to offset the riot of color above and around. To this, we added mad-libs made to lo0k like over-sized Candy Land game cards, brightly patterned paper bags for students to use at the candy bar, a low jar of colorful gumdrops, and a few oversized-polka-dot shaped pieces of confetti. Fun fact: we used paint-samples from Home Depot to make the confetti, and were thus able to individually select exactly what colors we needed! Prom Tabletops

Ice-Breakers

A second, oft-overlooked detail is the need for some ice-breaker or fall-back activities. Just like when planning any social gathering, you want to try to foster a balance between creating a convivial atmosphere in which everyone can feel comfortable and fall-back options for people who may wind up feeling slightly uncomfortable. Let’s face it, nobody wants awkward silence to fall at a table, and when you take a big group of teenagers and add in assorted unknown individuals brought as dates, yards of extremely fancy (and often uncomfortable) clothing, and top it all off with unstructured time before dinner/dancing . . . well, the odds are that somebody will feel a little uncomfortable at some point. To try to get rid of this, we always include Mad Libs as an ice-breaker activity.

mad-libs-game-cards

You may have already seen my post about Candyland themed mad-libs, but these were a colorful addition to the evening, and with their glorious tendency to wind up inappropriate or hysterical, all we have to do is casually include them in the decor and many (dare I say: most) people wind up bonding through the ensuing laughter.

Food

In all honesty, after choosing the venue, we mostly wound up going with their catering options/suggestions. Thus, we can’t really take credit for planning any of it, aside from heartily agreeing to the delicious-sounding suggestions put forth by our fantastic liaison, Marie. The resulting feast was everything we wished for and more.food service - tupper manor

The Menu for our Dinner Buffet

~Caesar Salad with Grilled Focaccia Croutons and Parmesan Cheese~

~Classic Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Ranch Dressing~

~Roasted Sliced Beef Sirloin and Roast Breast of Turkey with Pan Gravy~

~Penne Marinara~

~Garlic Mashed Red Bliss Potatoes~

~Glazed Baby Carrots~

Entertainment

Now, you may think Mad Libs, friends, and dancing are enough activities for any school dance. For some, you might be right. Buuuuuuuut, there are those moments when you are so hot and sweaty that you just need a dance break. Or those moments when the DJ plays a slow song and you want to avoid the awkward couples-dance with your platonic date while a nearby swaying duo is kissing like they’ve just discovered lips. OR maybe you just don’t like dancing all that much. I mean, school events shouldn’t be potentially fun just for the dancers among us, right? What a conundrum, you might be saying. Well, allow me to introduce you to the perfect solution. The Photo Booth.

photo booth - for entertainment

If you aren’t sure how to set up your own photo booth, I have a couple of sure-fire tips, but this is a great activity to include for those less-inclined to dance or who might need a break from crazy-dancing throughout the night!

Dessert

sweets abound - prom theme

In addition to the fresh baked cookies and brownies, we almost always choose to include an ice cream sundae station. With all sorts of delicious treats (including Crushed Oreos, Reese’s Pieces, Rainbow Sprinkles, Shredded Coconut, Chocolate Sauce, Strawberry Sauce and Whipped Cream), students are free to momentarily cool their heels and build their ideal Sundae!

Favors

So, as you can see, the details have carried us throughout the evening, and as the night winds down to a final dance, we want to make sure to include something students can take home to remember the occasion. Unfortunately, this usually means that you wind up with chintzy picture frames or a single engraved piece of stemware that will prove fodder for many yard-sales to come (if they last the ride home). With this in mind, we have recently taken to selecting favors that are consumable or thematically fun rather than the stereotypical trinkets. So it is with great anticipation that we included a simple Candy Bar in our evening plans.

candy bar - prom

To let students know about the Candy Bar, particularly since it was slightly out-of-the-way, we made an informative tag, which we attached to brightly colored paper bags (found on Etsy) for students to use for candy transportation.

Candy Bags!

We also purchased old-fashioned candy sticks, flavored like cotton candy, butterscotch, tropical punch and JOY. After adding a little homemade flag and placing the sweets on each place setting, the favors were ready. Based on their enthusiastic reception, I think it’s safe to say that they were appreciated.

candyland favors

With the details in place and the evening past, I think it’s safe to call it a successful soiree. I can’t wait for the next!

Props to the Photobooth!

I submit that there are few (if any) events that would not be improved by the presence of a photo booth.

I’m sure many could (and would) argue on the particulars of that statement. Funerals, for example, might be an inappropriate place for gloriously-silly, prop-laden photo antics . . . but really, I think it could just be that nobody has ever tried having a photo booth at a funeral. It could at least lighten the mood a titch, right? Maybe I’ll add it to my funeral plan request list. Talk about putting the fun into funeral.

Anyway, funerals aside, I think we can all agree that photo booths are highly fun ways to enhance your wedding/prom/dinner party. I am the proud owner of an ever-increasing series of items that make up my very own photo-booth trunk (largely thanks to years of yard-sales, thrift stores, and assorted ridiculous costume undertakings). At each Prom I’ve planned, we have incorporated a photo booth, and the resulting pictures have been well worth the minimal effort required!
photo booth fun

As a now-veteran photo booth planner, there are a few items which I feel qualified to highly recommend.

Item #1: a picture frame

purple frame

I picked the above frame up at a local thrift store for $2, spray painted it purple with a remnant can-of-spraypaint from my craft desk . . . and voila! This is an easy way to add a splash of color to photos, create some fun lines, and also personalize the colors incorporated into your photos.

Item #2: a parasol (or umbrella)

parasol

This is not rocket surgery folks. Parasols are visually very interesting and quite pretty. They add dimension to photos and they’re noticeably unusual to see (although not all that hard to find!) so they make for good photos. This one was a thrift-store find, but I know that you can usually get them at craft supply stores like A.C. Moore, and even the dollar store occasionally.

Item #3: a large theme-based prop

lollipop prop

Whether your theme is Candyland (as it was for the above photo-booth!) or growing up a nineties kid (ahem, see the next photo) having one large and ridiculous theme prop is crucial. The big fake lollipop made it into a lot of photos, as did the Pimpin’ Plush Scooby-Doo ( Yeah, that growing-up-in-the-nineties photo booth was a real doozy). Either way, one token hard-core theme prop is always a good idea!

Item #4: a backdrop

nineties-themed photo boothIf you can manage to swing it, themed backdrops are quite the magnificent touch. HOWEVER, even if you don’t have a print design, a large black sheet works to give the final photos a cleaner look.

Item #5: something particularly random

the gooseYup. That is, in fact, a goose.

This particular photo booth had all sorts of fun props, but of all the options, I think the goose made it into the most photos. If you don’t have access to a life-sized papier-mâché goose replica, and lets face it, not many people do, don’t despair. There are other options. Find the strangest most random thing you can, and include it with all the other items! Sometimes you just need a touch of the bizarre to liven things up. 

One Final Prop Thought:

Photo Booth Props

Whether you go with these specific suggested items or not, you should definitely remember that the key to any good photo booth is VARIETY. Find a broad array of things that can be picked-up, put-on, or held. Add a photographer with a decent camera and a tripod (even an amateur!) and you’ve got the recipe for instant fun and memorable photos of even more memorable moments.