Monday, November 29, 2010

Pet Portrait Giveaway!

Hey all, I'm doing a giveaway on a friend's blog. Read through the post (it's rather amusing, I especially like the part about Sam), then click the link at the end. As it says in the post, if you don't have a pet or a friend that has a pet, don't fret. I'll be doing a person portrait giveaway in the spring. Here's the link: Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hey Jimmy you're so fine . . .

Ok, so I didn't do a Thanksgiving post and I probably should have, but I've been meaning to post this post, and I decided to just do it. Coincidentally, I am thankful for Jimmy Fallon. This is a daydream I had the other day.

But first here's a little something to get you in the mood.

My imaginary appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:

Jimmy (still laughing from his last thank you note to hipsters. Oh, he's so cute when he can't stop laughing at his own jokes.): Our next guest is the ever-talented artist, Rachel Stratford!

The Roots play something awesomely appropriate like Long Cool Woman in a Black dress - I WISH! - as I enter even though I'm wearing something adorable that I bought from Mod Cloth. The crowd is cheering because some sign is telling them to and because I've planted a few good friends in the crowd to really make me look good. I wave and blow a kiss then shrug my shoulders at Jimmy like I don't understand what's happening. Then I sit down making sure that the cameras can't see up my skirt (cause that would be embarrassing).

Jimmy: Welcome to the show.

Me: Thank you. I'm really excited to be here. I wasn't sure I would make it.

Jimmy: What do you mean? Traffic? Or you were thinking about ditching me?

Me: No, of course not. I would never miss an opportunity to hear The Roots in person. (Everyone cheers. I give The Roots a wink. Jimmy laughs. I laugh. I'm totally excited because I made Jimmy laugh . . .) No really, though. I wouldn't miss this for the world. I just didn't think it would work.

Jimmy: Work? Oh you mean . . . the letter. (He raises an eyebrow and looks at the camera. He continues staring at the camera then says it again for dramatic effect). The letter.

Me: Exactly. The letter.

Jimmy: I happen to have . . . the letter (looks at the camera with raised eyebrow again) right here. (He pulls out the letter) Should I read it or would you like to?

Me: I'd really like to hear your rendition of it. (I smile and bat my eyelashes)

Jimmy starts the letter which goes like this (please try reading it through twice first imagine me reading it then imagine Jimmy reading my words and making fun of me. Remember, me first!) . . .

Dear Jimmy,

Hi. :) Can I please be on your show? I don't have an agent or anything, but I really think it would be in your best interest to have me on. I'm pretty funny and I've already thought of what to say. I promise to wear my cutest outfit and say nice things about you on the air. In return, you could tell people about my art (check me out on facebook) so that they will buy it because I'm pretty sure they'll do whatever you tell them to (I know I do.) Other things we could talk about in the interview include the fact that I have a crush on you and that both my dad and one of my best friends are from upstate NY like you. Also, we could just have funny banter. I promise not to hit on you because I know you are married and I do have morals. As an incentive to put me on your show, I promise to do a portrait of you that you can show everyone on the show. We could even put the portrait on a T-shirt. Then I'll probably sell a hundred or so copies to pay for food or maybe I'll go to grad school. I generally don't do celebrity portraits because then I wouldn't be any better than the guy selling portraits at the mall. It might also make me look like some obsessive fan (who me?) but if I come on the show, then it's like a business deal and we would meet which would make us at least acquaintances so then it wouldn't be weird.

Ok, I think that's about it. Think about it and then call me to invite me on the show.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I will be in the greater metropolitan area from Dec 16 - Jan 4, so if you could squeeze me in sometime in there, that would be great. I don't exactly have a bunch of extra cash laying around to spend on flights to NY.

Can't wait to meet you,
Rachel Stratford

Jimmy(He's looking at me with a smile like as to say "you're crazy for doing this, but hey, it seems to have gotten you on the show"): So lets go through our list of topics.

Me (I'm still laughing a little cause he's so funny and cute!): I believe the first one was the fact that I have a crush on you.

Jimmy looks at the audience with a giddy smile, but a little creeped out. The audience is laughing so I have to wait for them to calm down a little before I can start speaking again.

Me: So I have to tell you how that developed. (He looks nervous.) Well, really it started when I saw Fever Pitch. I admit that I started dating Red Sox fans over Yankee fans which pleased some of my siblings. But I didn't see much of you for a long time until I moved into the Mountain Standard Time zone. You see, the problem with Mountain Standard Time . . . and Central for that matter . . . is that all the TV programming is an hour earlier. And I'm from the East Coast, so I would turn on the TV and all the primetime shows would be over so I started watching late night talk shows . . . and let's be honest, Letterman and Leno are very funny guys . . . but I'm not about to have a crush on either of them. (At this point the crowd and Jimmy burst into laughter because I am hilarious) I mean, no offense to either of those comedians, cause they're both extremely talented. . . but I'm just sayin' . . . (comedic pause) Just sayin'. (I'm doing lots of funny expressions, too - just imagine them.) But I'm not hitting on you. (He's blushing at this point) Because I promised not to hit on you.

Jimmy: Of course not, (laughing) you would never hit on me. I could tell from your . . . letter. (laughs again) So, you're dad and your best friend are from upstate New York. What part? Because I don't know if you knew this, but I'm from upstate New York. Oh, wait, that's right. It was in your . . . letter.

Me (laughing): Gotta love Wikipedia! (I look at the audience) My dad is from the Schenectady area and my friend is from Queensbury up by Lake George. Have you ever been up there?

Jimmy: Yeah I've been to Lake George (I have no idea if ever really has, but this is an imaginary interview so I can make up things about his life if I want) Nice area.

Me: I love the Adirondacks. I actually prefer even farther north, up in the high peaks region. There are fewer motor boats and more canoes. My grandma lived up in Saranac Lake near Lake Placid for a number of years.

Jimmy: Oh yeah, what made her leave?

Me: Cancer. She died this year.

Jimmy: Oh. (silence for a second) I'm so sorry.

Me: It's ok, she was a great woman who lived a full life.

Jimmy: Well now that I've completely killed that conversation, this would be a good time to talk about your art. (pulls out the watercolor I did of him) Here is a lovely rendition of . . . me.

Me: Yup. It was part of the deal . . .

Jimmy: This is really good. How long have you been drawing, I mean painting? How long have you been doing art?

Me: I started drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. I didn't really do watercolors until I was in high school.

Jimmy: I don't know that much about art. Do a lot of artists use watercolor? I mean can you make any money doing watercolors? Do they sell for as much as oil paintings?

Me: They don't usually sell for as much as oil paintings, but I do them because I just prefer the process and because I haven't figured out how to paint successfully with oils. Lame, I know.

Jimmy: This doesn't look lame to me. (He holds it up next to his face for a comparison mimicking the face in the painting)

Me: I'm glad you like it, cause I brought you a T-shirt as promised in the letter. (I turn to the audience) I'll be selling more outside the door on your way out. $25 a shirt - as a momento of this lovely evening. (turning to Jimmy) Unless you want to be cool like Oprah and just buy all of them off of me and GIVE the audience free ones . . . (the audience cheers for real this time). I also have portraits for each of The Roots. (which I flash, but can't give out right then because they're too far away)

Jimmy: Awesome. Cool, well it was very nice to have you on the show. Good luck with your art. (Turning to the camera, he lifts up the portrait) Look for Rachel's facebook page or go to her website and order a custom portrait. When we come back, we'll have the amazing Matt Damon! (Yeah, I'm that lucky)

And that is my imaginary appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Jimmy was the inspiration for my Halloween costume this year?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


So, I figure if my goal is to write at least once a week I can meet expectations. So that is my goal. So far, so good. Ok on to other things . . .

Those of you who know me know that I love Halloween. Mostly because when I even think about dressing up, I get all little-girly-excited inside. The truth is I dress up even when it's not Halloween. A fair number of the dresses in my closet hearken back to yesteryear (before even I was alive) and I revel in the Sundays when I can show up for church looking like I stepped straight out of the 1940's or the 1960's. Mmmm . . . so fun! Anyway, but Halloween is my chance to go all out and wear something I couldn't get away with at church.

The other thing I like about Halloween is that you get to decorate your house all crazy-like or whatever (so eloquent, I know), especially if you're having a party. This year I decided to throw a party at my apartment despite the fact that my relatively recent relocation to the area might make it difficult to get enough people at the party so as to make it feel like more than just a visiting teaching appointment. So in preparation for this party, I bought a few things, planned the refreshments, and made a bunch of things by hand (but mostly "by X-acto knife) to make my apartment seem all spooky and such. Admittedly, I may have spent a disproportionate amount of time on this party than I did the rest of my life for at least the week before the party (which was on Friday). I blame this, of course, on Martha Stewart. Well at least I blame it on her website. It gets you all excited about the holiday much sooner than it should. Those decorating thoughts start small; they're so innocent and sweet. "That will just look adorable", you think to yourself. But then the next thing you know the grandiose plans for the amazing party you're planning consume, as Jack Black said, "your head and your MIND and your brain." But no big deal, right? Because your party will be amazing and everyone will talk about how talented and wonderful you are and it will all be worth it. All the paper cuts and time spent cutting cardboard with an X-acto knife (because you don't have a heavy duty box cutter) so that you can turn your coffee table into a coffin table to give the effect of a funeral parlor in your living room will all be worth it.

"So how was your Halloween this year, Rachel?", you ask.

The answer: kind of lame.

It wasn't terrible. I did have some fun, but the part of me that likes the spotlight, attention, etc. (I'm a yellow on the color code test) - so essentially my vanity and pride - was a little bruised. "How was your vanity and pride bruised Rachel?" (that's you asking again). Well, I'll tell you.

This year, as I usually do, I wore a different costume to each of the Halloween events I attended. That equalled 3 this year. The first event was a ward FHE costume party. There was to be a costume contest, so I decided to wear my gown from last year and the long redhead wig that I got for the costume I was going to wear to my party on Friday. Well, I thought I actually had a chance to win because when I arrived there were "oohs" and "ahhs" probably at the sheer size of the dress (pictured here as it was worn last year - sorry I don't have one from this year with the wig). I also thought I had a chance to win because most were wearing the typical throw together costumes of hippie, stereotypical Native American princess, and some sort of bug made evident by a headband with pipe cleaners and craft pom poms. Some weren't even dressed up. And maybe it was because no one there knew that my mom and I sewed that gown out of a TABLE CLOTH, but the Native American princess and the guy dressed up as an Indian (you know, from India) got the prizes for most creative. And a girl who showed up as headless got the overall best costume. I'll give her that, because it was pretty impressive. But overall, I just kind of felt like this was a sign that I'm not 'in' the ward yet. I'm there and some people know me, but not many people really know me enough to appreciate me and I will go further with that train of thought with my next piece of evidence.

Exhibit B (we'll say the last incident was Exhibit A): more than once that night I was told that I should grow my hair out long. I usually replied that even if I did, my hair wouldn't look like the wig because it's crazy curly. One guy came back with a classy, "I have one word for you: flatiron". Why thank you sir, I like you just the way you are, too. Granted, this same guy, a week or so before, when I answered his "why aren't you married?" with a sarcastic "I don't know, maybe it's because I'm not smokin' hot." said to me, "No that's not why. I have friends who have married ugly girls." Like I said, CLASSY. Anyway, back to my point. I have heard more comments since then about how I really should grow my hair out. Another guy told me that he heard someone say that my "hotness factor really went up" with long hair. What is it with guys and long hair? I've been made fun of my crazy hair for most of my life and I finally felt like I was moving to a look that was even more 'me' than I ever knew I could be when I chopped off my hair and went for something different. I truly like my hair short. So should I grow it out so that other people like it? I protest that the answer is NO! I should be myself and people should like me for who I am. There is a part of me that rather despises the "typical". Around here most of the girls do the long hair with the loose barrel curls. And I'm just so over that.*

The last reason my Halloween was kind of lame (and Exhibit C of why I don't really feel like I've been accepted by the ward as a whole) is that even though there were more than three people at my party, there weren't that many more. I announced that party a number of times and personally invited a number of individuals, but even people from the ward that I thought would come, just didn't. Some very important people (yes, VIP's so to speak), people who are very important to me, did show up and that was the reason the party didn't really stink for me. But I was just kind of surprised how few people from my huge ward did show up. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because we all know that the bigger the ward, the less connected people feel. These are the moments that I miss my little branch back in New Haven. As crazy as it gets, at least people know and care about you there. I do have some friends in this ward, but not many. It's kind of hard to break into the group because they all went to high school together . . . 2-3 years ago. "Why do you even want to break into a group that is so much younger than you, Rachel?" (there you go asking again). My answer: I don't know. Sometimes I don't. But most of the time I do. I'm considering moving to an older ward ward once I'm done teaching my Sunday School class, but until then, I need some friends and this is the group that I have already put the effort into getting to know, etc. So I continue to push my way into it. And it's my ward, so I should at least try to be a real part of it, right?

"So will this story have a happy ending, Rachel?" You ask too many questions. Actually . . . sticking with this ward and teaching that class may have paid off. After a VERY busy week, even a very busy Sunday (the actual day of Halloween) morning, I scrambled to put together my lesson entitled "Children are an Heritage of the Lord." (Yes, I'm teaching about parenting, now. A little crazy, I know.) Anyway, I taught my lesson and afterwards a complete stranger (I do know his cousin, who is in the ward, so I assume he's not a murderer or anything) came and talked to me for a little bit. Did I mention that this is a 31-year-old male stranger? Did I mention that he is already graduated from college and has a real job? Anyway, after talking to me a bit, he asked for my phone number to which I responded, "Why?" (I was running on very little sleep, people. Give me a break.) Luckily he didn't run away. In fact, he called that night to see if I wanted to get together the next morning because he was leaving to go home (which is in another state) in the the afternoon.

So . . . we went out yesterday and I had a good time. In the phone call, he mentioned that I seemed like I wasn't the typical BYU co-ed. Thank you! I am not typical and someone appreciates that. He also didn't seem to mind that my hair wasn't long with loose barrel curls.

Basically, he's a man. Not a boy. How refreshing!

I guess I did have a good Halloween this year.

Also now I need to know if I should call him back the next day (today!) or if that is a myth propagated by the movies. Hurry, people! I'm kind of running out of time!

And I'm including my costume from Saturday night when I dressed up as the Bieber. Sorry I don't have a pic of the beloved long redhead wig. Maybe I'll steal one from someone later.

*I should note that those of you that are my facebook friends (that's all of you at this point, I think), may have noticed that my profile pic was recently changed back to one with my long straight hair. The truth is that I'm just trying to mess with that guy who said that my hotness factor went up. I'm not growing this hair out for any of them.