Monday, June 30, 2008

This is not a good thing

I was die hard.

I had the t-shirts, the over sized button, and most embarrassingly a "life-sized" poster of Jon on the back of my bedroom door. I'm not exactly proud of it but I totally practiced kissing on a regular basis against the glossy finish of his almost life-sized lips. You know, he was the quiet, shy type. And at 13, so was I.

And now they're officially back. I mean, I had heard the rumors of a reunion and I think I even caught them on the Today show. But it's so weird. They're all like, fifteen years older. Time has not exactly been kind to Danny... Jordan has definitely had work done and Joey owns a yacht? Right. Check it out for yourself.

The cavorting, the girls, and oh the dancing. One word. Wow. I was watching this thinking, "They're playing it safe doing all the dancing as silhouettes... They're grown men. It's a respectable choice... It'd be embarrassing to do a choreographed dance at 39, 38, 36, 39 and 40 respectively. 40!" And then they did it. They went for the full-on, all in white, dancing on water thing. They bust out a couple of signature moves which are painful to watch and everything is just so wooden. Woo-den.

The sad part is... I kind of like it. Shhh- stop. Don't tell anyone. It's completely not my fault though- it's like a crazy earworm and now I have the ridiculous chorus stuck in my head. None of my adult music collection.... the vastly talented New Pornographers, the clever Shins, the lyrical Josh Rouse... none of it can rescue me from this NKOTB madness.

Oh, and about that poster? I nearly wore a hole in it down to the hollow wood door. Yep. At a tender 13 I think I fancied myself quite the seductress. Uh. Of two-dimensional men. Literally.

Thank you, Uncle Beefy for your original post. Otherwise I could never have finally surrendered to my adolescent fantasies without feeling like jailbait.

Green is the new black

This week over at Apartment Therapy's green kid-sister, Re-nest, they're searching for a new blogger to add to their roster of cool-hunting eco-chics.  And while I'm still in my nascent stages of blogging (this time around)- trying my hand at their challenge was a good way for me to see what kind of content-specific chops I might have.  Unfortunately with all the drama at work and the stifling heat this past weekend, the last thing I wanted to do was sit cross-legged reading blogs with my laptop slowing burning my thighs as the cooling fan worked to keep my hard drive from imploding.  So I didn't know about the challenge until today.  Monday.  The 30th.  And the deadline for submissions (two posts, with photos and a short bio)... uh... tomorrow.  Right.  

So I busted out a couple of short posts that I think were fun and would be interesting to their readers but I'm guessing I'll fall a bit short of the mark.  I think my tone may have been a bit too sales-y and a lot of their writing is of the "I just happened to notice this cool thing" vein.  But good practice all around.  Now that I'm heading into my second month of Properly Salted, I'd like to try and establish some semi-regular types of posts.   Cooking experiments always make for good times and I may throw in a couple of interviews just to spice things up.  But mostly it'll still be just me.  The same old Salty.  

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We're moving!

Just a quick announcement that Mr.Mr. and I have officially decided to pull up the stakes and move camp to the biggest little city south of Seattle. (No, not you Tacoma.) Portland! For those of you who may be getting tired of the very Puget Sound-centric coverage of news and events, this should be a relief. However, I can't promise there won't be a similar preponderance of posts focusing on Portland.

So if anyone has any tips, hints, job leads or good reads for the Portland, OR area- let me know. Our official move date will be no later than August 15th. Holy crap!

Tacos borachos

I apologize in advance for the lack of photos but I have to share with you the oddest happy hour I enjoyed yesterday with Mr.Mr. and some friends. I got out of work at 2pm (jealous?) and commenced to wander around downtown looking for interview clothes at the likes of Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft. It should be mentioned that I never shop at BR but the glowing orange "sale" signs beckoned me in and I've heard talk of deep discounts from friends and family. ...There's no way in hell I'd pay $78.00 for a skirt unless it was going to make me dinner, do the dishes and spoon me to sleep. Just for the record.

So like the annoying person that I am, when the phone rings in the dressing room and I'm partially clad, I make no bones about answering it. "Happy hour?" "Red Lion Hotel?" "Free tacos?" Hmmm.

I'm not generally the "free taco" type. Free cheese plate? Free fruit platter? Sure. But free tacos? I'm not entirely sold. Really, how good can they be? However- I have to tell you it was great. You ride the elevator up to the fifth floor of the downtown Red Lion Hotel where you have the choice of dining indoors in a pleasant hotel restaurant sort of setting (don't do it) or retiring to the spacious deck for drinks in the open air at cozy patio tables. Choose the latter. Trust me. Even when the five o'clock sun is beating down on you with no reprieve and the reflective exteriors of the adjacent high rises conspire to immediately give you skin cancer... just do it.

The $4.75 pint-glass margaritas are on par with any other place that has a free taco bar (exactly) but they'll serve a galvanized bucket full of coronas to your table and refresh your water every few minutes. The service can be a little slow and if you tend to linger like people who have been rescued from an underground cave who are seeing the sun for the very first time, the waitstaff may appear irritated. But the famed taco bar itself isn't bad at all. They keep it stocked with hard shell corn tortillas, saucy re-fried beans, taco meat, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos, olives and shredded lettuce. It's vaguely reminiscent of a high school hot lunch buffet but that didn't stop me from having three servings. They also serve oyster shooters but you know how I feel about those.

The non-free food we saw at neighboring tables actually looked good and I gather they run a couple of half-off specials on crab cakes and other typical NW eats. So swing by if you have the chance. It runs from 4:30-7:30pm and I think it's daily but you could always call to make sure. I'm sure they love those inquiries... "so, uh, yeah... when do you do that free taco thing?" Enjoy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Aw shoot

I've been reading here and there online about sprouts. I even caught a spot on Martha Stewart a few weeks back where she showed off her fancy stacking petri dishes, like "oooh, ahhh look at me I have fancy stacking glass dishes to grow my own sprouts for my delicious homemade organic salad with cranberry sherry vinaigrette, blah, blah, blah."

Oh. Sorry. So anyway- I've never been huge on sprouts but apparently they're all the rage. And last weekend when we made our weekly pilgrimage to Ballard for the Sunday farmer's market- we came upon a vendor selling all kind of sprouts. Broccoli, Pea, and Sunflower are the few I remember but they also sold a small variety of herbs like lemon thyme, thai basil, chives and french tarragon (oh mondieu!). We were shopping with a friend of ours who recently moved into a new house so we had planned to pick up a small housewarming gift in the shape of a potted herb or tomato starter. But when the vendor offered to let us sample some of the sprouts, I couldn't resist. The sunflower sprout had a very dry, bean-like taste but the pea sprouts- oh, were they ever good. They have [logically] a very green-pea flavor but they are light and crunchy with these strong little tendrils that taste so incredibly fresh. I'm in love with our newest houseplant. We were told it was totally reasonable to cut them regularly and the new shoots would grow back in a number of days. Water once a day and allow for the excess to drain out through the perforated plastic container.

Our first true culinary application was alongside a homemade pasta dish in a simple salad. I cut the shoots into three inch bits and tossed them with small wedges of fresh tomato, dressed it with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and ground some fresh salt and pepper over the top. Delicious. And when the pasta left something to be desired (I neglected to sauce it properly), mixing the salad in added an extra crunch as the pea sprouts held up against the warm pasta and added a sweetness to the other vegetables.

This little plant packs a punch unlike any other and I highly recommend it as an addition to any kitchen.

Aren't "we" special?

As someone who's been cautioned once or twice against being too direct- I've found myself playing passive altogether too often lately. I noticed it first some time ago when in an email to a coworker at the corporate office, I said something to the effect of, "If we could get this profile updated to reflect the change in status, that would be great!" We? I can't do a damn thing about updating the profile... I don't even work in that database. Hell- that database is 3,000 miles from where I sit. You are responsible for that task. ...But I totally softened it. Maybe I was trying to come across as more of a "team player," by implying that we can do it together! Yeah. I still can't do a damn thing about it and it's still your job. Oh, and I actually can't continue working on that item until your part has been completed.

Then we made a bunch of declarations about my dental preferences. "I think we decided the floss with the sort of spongy, ropey feel was the best..." Hmmm. Was the dental hygienist in the bathroom with me, both of us in our pajamas with morning breath? And did we look at each other with two-fisted flossy grins in appreciation of the gentle dental scrubbing we experienced from said floss? I don't think so. What's the deal there? I couldn't' admit the flat ribbon floss my friendly hygienist (shout out to Nancy at Dr. Felix's office!) suggested wasn't really my thing? Was I afraid my shunning her recommendation would jeopardize our regular six month hook up? Please.

The final straw was really when we decided on what type of medical care I should receive. "I think we decided it would be alright for me to go off the methimazole because we felt I was doing a lot better." Last I checked the only degree hanging on my wall (or boxed up at my Mom's house, actually) is for something totally non-scientific like Art. Under that there profile section, do you see "Salty, Phd?" Didn't think so. (Besides, if I was going to be a "PhD," I would totally go for the gold and add, "Esq." Go big or go home, really.) In this case I think the ubiquitous "we" has more to do with not wanting to seem presumptuous or like I remember our last office visit better than he does. But seriously- I usually do! I can't tell you how many times the doctor sits there staring at his new Dell flat screen that's supposed to tell them everything their paper charts used to say and they're asking, "Now it looks like I saw you back in ...?" or "Now are you still on the XYZ medication?" You should know this! It is not my personal responsibility to lay out my medical history every time we meet. WTF?

So folks, I think we need to work on this. Well, specifically I need to work on this. But in this case, I really do mean "we" because I hear people do it all the time. But I think if we all made an effort to take a little more ownership of our jobs, our actions, our mistakes... all of the things each of us really is in control of and accountable for, we'd be communicating an awful lot better.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This little piggie

...went to art school.  It almost made me want to cough up the $10 just to say, "Nicely done, my friend.  Nicely done."

The happiest hour and equal opportunity hand drying

Last week Mr.Mr. and I stopped by the Oceanaire on the way home from work for a quick sampling of their happy hour menu.  We bellied up to the galvanized steel counter next to a heaping display of shellfish on ice and prepared to be fed.  Now it should be said that those of you who enjoy the feeling of raw oysters sliding around in your mouth like limp, slippery innards- will LOVE the Oceanaire's happy hour.  All six+ varieties can be purchased per piece at between $1 and $1.25 or as part of a larger sampler.  Mr.Mr. describes them as "light, cool, crisp and buttery all at the same time."  He adds "they have a whole host of subtleties most foods don't have and they give you a sort of high... an oyster high."  An oyster high?  Riiiiight.  I describe oysters as, "gag-inducing, gross and not worth the shells they live in."  

So I had a caesar salad and fries.  And a cosmopolitan.  The salad was pretty standard faire 
and strangely, served in one of those patchwork veneer bowls you see in college cafeterias the world over.  Sub par presentation for the stately Oceanaire, if you ask me.  But it was in the fries, that the meal was redeemed.  Sadly, this out of focus photo from the crackberry does no justice to the massive pile of seasoned and salted, garlicky shoestring fries that I undertook as my main course.

We managed to drop about $40.00 which is a bit steep for happy hour but our tab included the aforementioned pile o'fries, salad, cosmo, two stella artois, six oysters on the half shell and free bread.  The cosmo was actually the most expensive item of them all at a whopping $7.00.  That'll teach me to drink like a girl. Just kidding.  Well- mostly.

Where the Oceanaire really surprised me was the bathroom.  With a set of oval mirrors hanging over identical porcelain pedestal sinks, they lured me in with free mouthwash in faceted glass (glass!) bottles, moisturizer and a can of AquaNet.  Man do I love free hairspray.  (Okay that one really is a joke.)  And the subway tiled walls and solid wood stalls were rather classy.  But as I indulged in the extra space provided by the handicapped stall (complete with its own sink) , I noticed the neat stacks of hand towels displayed on a modern glass shelf were at least two and a half feet from the top of the sink.  
I don't know many wheelchair bound folks but I can tell you those chairs don't come with go-go-gadget arms, helper monkeys  or Claw(tm) devices to grab crap from up high.  What were they thinking?  Just another disappointing instance where form kicks function's butt yet again.  

Oh, and I left a couple of hand towels on the safety rail just in case.

I see your lips moving but nothing's coming out

I'm sorry folks- it appears by the force of blogger default, I hadn't properly enabled commenting without some sort of user id business.  My bad.  I swear it wasn't some sort of big-ego attempt to squash any dissenting opinions.  

Please, go forth and comment!  Dissent!  Dissent!  And a big thank you to Megan for cluing me in.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Recommended reading

Several years ago I was transitioning out of a job and into a program at the University of Washington in pursuit of some business training so I could start my own company. Before I left my day job I began reading business magazines in a sort of casual way as they rotated off the coffee table and into the recycling bin.

Then once I left the firm, I ponied up the nine and change and subscribed on my own dime to Fast Company. The writing is sharp, the content is relevant to more than just business types and the design is incredibly slick. So every month I'd get my dose of business sense, my human-interest care of Mother Jones (or alternately, the Utne Reader), and (until they put Dick Cheney on the top ten best men list) my think-like-a-man education from Esquire. Now don't get too riled up on account of that last one. Esquire has some of the best writing in town, plenty of current events and a surprising amount of insight into the way men think, which as a single girl at the time, was very handy.

But in the last year or so, life has become exponentially nutty and I rarely finish reading one magazine before two have piled up in my inbox. I've downsized and shifted priorities so it's Fast Company, Saveur and Money (which is lame) right now, but even that can be overwhelming. So even though I've been given a hard time about it by my less-than-business oriented friends, Fast Company holds the coveted number one, preferred reading spot... in the bathroom.

I'm not ashamed to admit it. The average adult reads for seven minutes a day and between work, volunteering, trying to be creative, and spending time with Mr.Mr., the only "reading" I usually have time for is on the toilet. "But what about blogs?" you ask. Sure, I read those. But I can make it through a blogroll twenty sites long in less than fifteen minutes. I'd hardly qualify that kind of rapid-click, scan and sweep, entercraftysnarkonewsitainment as "reading." My Amazon wish list has at least six books on it and I haven't managed to work through the five I got for Christmas 2006! I'm crushed by the weight of it all.

So what's the solution? Close the door, make yourself comfortable and prop up your feet, cause I guarantee you those babies will go numb after the first three minutes without proper elevation.

Care to share and share alike? A little quid pro quo can't hurt, right? What are you spending your seven minutes a day reading and how do you cram it into your twenty first century schedule?

Don't miss it

Tomorrow night from 6-8pm I'll be joining several other local creative and web types for the third installment of The Lab at Velocity Art and Design (South Lake Union), featuring Kristen of Schmancy (and Plush You!), Moxie (real name?) of Made by Moxie and Hansi. While I don't have the kind of income that allows me to shop at Velocity on a regular basis, I find much of their inventory to be the kind of art and design work that inspires. And in truth, The Lab is an direct extension of that very idea. So if you're a local like me, come check it out.

Oh, and there are door prizes for the fortunate types.

Pillow talk and Sinspiration

Et voila! I can finally show the finished product of all my hemming (har, har) and hawing about new fabrics and fancy sewing shops. Our new pillow covers have made their debut and critics are raving. And it only took me three hours. No joke. "But it's a square," you're saying. I know. Don't harsh my pillow buzz.

So my next project is bigger and better. A while back I started watching Sex & the City through Netflix to see just exactly what
kinds of naughty bits I had been missing by watching it late night style on UPN or whatever that channel calls itself these days. And early on I saw an episode in which SJP wears a cute little shirt dress. And it just looks so comfortable. And cute. Did I mention it looked cute? Yeah. So I bought a McCall's pattern (M5378) and some cheap starter fabric from JoAnns. And I'm going to make this:

And the good news is it will only take me, like, a year.

Weekend in photos

For the first time ever I indulged in some hedonistic paradery (yes I made that up) at the Solstice Fair this past weekend.  And let me tell you, nothing says hippie like face paint, papier mache and shameless nudity.  But, for fear of a pornographic spike in traffic- I'll keep the photos clean this time around.  Take a look.

This butterfly was amazing to see in person.  I can't even imagine the amount of work that went into building those wings but the multiple panels were truly a sight to see.  
These little monkeys were milling about a float made to look like a giant bed.  Most of the kids were in half costume (mostly ears and tails) and sat at the edge holding onto bed posts as the larger parent-type monkeys pushed them around.  According to Mr.Mr. at one point they stopped and all the kids- er, monkeys began jumping on the bed which I was sad to have missed.  There's nothing cuter than baby monkeys.Kids went wild over this clown.  He had strung together utensil trays and would dip them in a bucket of soapy water before flinging them around with windmill arms.  I'm not kidding when I say kids were running into the street to follow this man.  I think Santa may have competition.Ukuleles are tiny instruments.  I know because we recently bought one in Kauai.  And see, there's really no place to hook a guitar strap so it can hang comfortable while you play.  So- it looks like... to be a really consummate ukuleleist, I'm gonna have to drink more beer.  And become a hobo.
The Solstice parade is a cultural mashup and this woman is a great example.  She was wedged in between a group of naked girls covered in chocolate (or at least brown body paint) with gilded breasts, and these ladies below.  A massive number of pink sequin and pom-pom clad belly dancers that moved en mass as if straight out of a bollywood movie.
::Blink, blink:: Is that the girl from the Blind Melon video?  I never knew bees turned into butterflies!And finally, a dude sandwich.  There were two pieces of bread, one swiss cheese, a lettuce and tomato.  Every so often along the parade route they would draw people out from the crowd and smother them.  But I was left wondering- why no mayo?

All in all I had a good time.  We walked around the fair, visited with a friend selling some crafts at the I Heart Rummage event and enjoyed a barbecue with some other friends to wrap it all up.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sucker punch (now with live video!)

Wait for it... wait for it.

(Thanks to Girl in the Green Dress, another kick ass blog.)

The hardest word

...Is not "sorry." It's not even "thank you." It's "congratulations."

I don't make my living being an artist but I consider myself to be creative. And I spent four years studying fine art at a small liberal arts college so I'd like to think my $130k wasn't spent completely in vain. But it's not where I typically look for success. In fact, up until recently, I didn't put much stock in creating work regularly, let alone pursuing opportunities to show or sell. Sure, there were plenty more "serious" art students who worked alongside me, painstakingly trying to capture the sag of a 70 year old's backside, reproducing famous works of the masters and trying to stay awake as the slow click of the slide projector advanced through 500 years of art history. And some of them even enjoyed a modicum of success in the form of a professor's praise or spots in the student shows. But seven years later, at least a few of my classmates are enjoying a whole different kind of success.

One former art classmate has sold a number of paintings for well over a $1,000.00 a piece. $1,000.00. ...Apart from being 10 times $100.00 (holy crap), that's also almost one month's rent. One. Month. Another former fellow resident assistant is coming out with a book in a couple of months. A book! With pages! And when I read this online I kind of wanted to throw up in my hand. I wanted to scoff out loud, make all kinds of justifications and blow it off as some sort of fluke.

What the hell?

I remind myself at this point that I don't ever need to be famous. Then I also remind myself that the pressure of having to make a living on my creative work would likely drive me insane. And despite that I still feel like it must be a mistake that someone wants to buy a bunch of crappy abstract corporate art or pay to read a bunch of personal development affirmations.

Should I ask it again? ...What the hell is my problem?

The reason I bring this up is not to convince you I'm a petty, jealous, insufferable brat (though admittedly I'd be convinced at this point). The thing is I know I'm not the only person out there who has a hard time swallowing their peers' achievements. I know I'm not the only one who actually feels less successful when confronted with other's success. I've read "Art & Fear." I even tried to read it a second time (though it's a bit too touchy-feely in tone, I actually liked it quite a bit). I've consulted my husband, family and professional mentors. And the best thing I can come up with at this point, is that I have to fake until I make it. I need to get into a habit of applauding the successes of my peers... even if I don't understand why I haven't achieved an iota of the same. Because it's not as simple as I'd like it to be. And feeling like crap is really only so much fun.

So I'm gonna say it. I'm gonna put it out there on the webernets for anyone and everyone to see. Loud and clear.


...And you know they cache this crap so there's no way I can take it back.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Everybody loves a secret

This story is incredible. If you're not into links, I'll summarize: NY family buys fancy home, asks designer guy to do interiors... designer guy crafts crazy-ass, long and involved, super detailed and well-thought out puzzle involving the entire apartment (pieces of furniture, walls, cabinets, doors). Family is amazed. And so am I. This totally kicks the ass of some lame wardrobe that leads to a hidden land filled with talking cats and men who had sex with horses. (Okay, that's a joke in case you think I have no idea what a centaur is.)

But really, who doesn't love a good hidden compartment? I mean, this is like the movie Clue on crack. Minus the singing telegram girl. I like to think of myself as a pretty clever person. But this man and his army of designer friends have kind of blown my mind. Can you tell?
Oh, and according to UnBeige, the rights to this story have already been picked up by king of tv, J.J. Abrams.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Over 50 and loving it

Thank you. Thank you. No really, thank YOU. Thank you to the people who have stumbled upon this site using blogger's "Next Blog" feature. Thank you to the people who not only use Google but also share my strong dislike (mom told me never to say "hate") of Kathie Lee Gifford. And thank you most of all to Mr.Mr. who encourages me to tip tap type every so often on this big white box they call a computer so as to open the valve on my snarky, creative and chatty side to let out some hot air.

I've passed the 50 visitors mark, sweet diggity dog!  Feel free to spread the word if you're as excited as I am.

I heart links

Mmmm.  Hot and yeasty.

Chihuly... more than just paperweights

In the midst of my move to Seattle over four years ago, I papered the town (electronically of course) with cover letters and resumes. I made my case in earnest that I had every intention to move from Boston and that I was available for interviews by phone and in person if necessary. Hardly anyone listened. However, of the 150+ jobs I applied for, two took me seriously. The Glass Art Society (GAS) and Dale Chihuly's glass studio both requested interviews and I was able to time one successfully with my inaugural visit- a short go-see of sorts that included time in Ballard, Bremerton and the San Juan islands. The Chihuly studio was located in an industrial neighborhood of Ballard and despite its unassuming exterior, revealed a very classy, design-savvy interior where I met their head office maven. Don't ask me what her real title was- I have no idea now.

We talked in detail about my background (mostly reception work and event coordination at the time), my plans to move to Seattle (they were indeed, real), and my degree in Art (it was indeed, virtually useless). I had applied for a position as a studio assistant and I was intrigued by the opportunity to work for someone amazingly famous. Granted, I had never met the imposing, barrel-chested man equally well-known for the spiralling cascades of his glass installations as for his proudly iconic eye patch. Following the interview there was a series of miscommunications and of course, I didn't get the job. And so Chihuly remained a mystery.

Perhaps for feeling jaded by the whole hiring experience, every so often I'd see one of his pieces and think, "Meh. Not so great." And when in conversation his name would come up, I didn't hesitate to crack the typical pirate joke at his expense. Despite having felt the heat of a tiny flame and struggled to balance the timing of one twisting hand with the speed of molten glass when I tried my hand (once) at making a simple glass bead... I've always kind of assumed glass was- easy, I guess. But today, I saw this:

At 14' tall, "Sun" is astounding. And am I ever the fool. These tendrils of glass are amazing. And their assembly to create such a dynamic, engaging and detailed work borders on the fantastic. If you're in the Bay Area, be sure to check out the Chihuly exhibit at the de Young.

I came across the announcement of this show thanks to the fine folks over at MediaBistro who run a blog called Unbeige. They post regular updates in the fascinating (and ever-changing) world of art and design that manage to both educate and inspire me from time to time. Not to mention, they take a little snark with their art... and that's just my speed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Salty goes soft

Things around the house have been a bit rough lately. I've been mopey and uninterested in most everything. Work is dull and disappointing and it turns out dishes don't actually wash themselves. So after a grueling eight hours of accounting work, stapling receipts and sorting out invoices, I found myself in front of the television at 10pm, watching America's Got Talent. Okay- so I didn't exactly, "find" myself there. I've actually been looking forward to the new season for the last few days. I digress.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it but there actually is something about this show that I really enjoy. When someone (or a group of someones) with real talent takes the stage and just blows the whole lot of judges out of the water and the crowd goes nuts with excitement, I get the tiniest of goosebumps and my eyes make like they could almost, just maybe, let slip a tear. And I love it.

Tonight I experienced a bit of deja vu as I watched a portly and very humble insurance salesman belt out a pretty bit of opera music. Piers Morgan, the British judge (alongside Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff) is best known for his bitey remarks and making children cry. But he was impressed by Neil- as he should be. Only this is not the first portly everyman to belt out Nessun Dorma under the bright lights of a "... Got Talent" stage. Paul Potts wowed judges in 2007 singing the very same song in the British predecessor to our American show. But you know what? I loved it just the same. I think it's all my heart can manage to watch someone who, for all purposes seems completely average, rise up and show an arena full of people that they are something special.

Check it out. I dare you not to be humbled by the sincerity. I can't believe I'm about to say this. But it's actually like watching someone's dream come true right before your eyes.

Check this out


And prepare yourself for an eyeful. In an age of over stimulation, the large scale format of this daily photo blog manages to completely overwhelm in a way that is amazingly breathtaking and serene. Even when the subjects of the high resolution photographs are victims of war, natural disasters and poverty- the clarity, richness of color and composition collaborate to capture moments in time with complete, objective honesty. has got themselves a hot ticket in the shape of The Big Picture and I imagine it can only get better.

Oh, and don't take the landing page at face value (though it does make a stunning first impression) - make sure to click on the links to additional photos for each subject. You'll never want to see another thumbnail photo again.

Economic measures

Gather 'round everybody, I've got big news! Our economy sucks!

That's right, I'm finally feeling the pinch. High unemployment, rising costs of fuel, and for Christ's sake the price of a chocolate chip cookie at the bakery went up 33% last week! What the hell is happening? What's worse is that for some reason all I want to do is spend money. All the time. Go out to lunch? Sure! Grab a drink at happy hour? Why not?! Buy fifty dollars worth of small art on Etsy and bid on a couple of Ebay auctions? Let's do it! ...I mean those are just examples of things that I might have done recently. You know... hypotheticals. Right.

So I'm trying to curb all that excess spending by remembering this clever rhyme: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

I read it somewhere in a craftster string about recycling materials and despite my swiss cheese brain, it's managed to stick. So here are a few of the things I'm doing to cut costs lately:

  • Not buy any more art paper and only use what I already have in new projects
  • Finally send in the mac rebate from Mr.Mr.'s Christmas present
  • Completely use up the samples I got at Sephora of the new Stila concealer ($22) and foundation ($32) I'm lusting after... any maybe go back for some more before buying
  • Find recipes that use the stock items we already have in our cupboards
  • Watch only Netflix videos and stop impulse-renting from Hollywood Video when I 'm impatient
  • Consider repricing some of my artwork to sell faster on Etsy
  • Bring some clothes to the secondhand stores to try and sell some items
What measures are you taking to ease the squeeze?

The price of "pretty:" the big splurge

As noted previously, on the spectrum of girlyness, I score embarrassingly low. But for reasons unbeknownst to me I've been having some very acute urges lately to acquire more symbols and tools of femininity.  For instance, I've only straightened my hair a handful of times ever but I've been fantasizing a lot lately about this little gadget.  At almost $100.00 it's a big spend on a hair product given my old reliable routine is a snagless elastic band and some hand moisturizer to reduce frizz.  The Chi would actually require me to dry my hair before leaving the house which deducts at least another ten minutes of potential sleepy time in the a.m.-  not to mention I might have to wash my hair more often.  Eesh.  But the videos!  Have you seen the curls?  And how easy it all looks. Honestly, as someone whose in-mirror, hand-eye coordination is less than agile- it's like watching someone remove their own kidney. It's captivating watching these girls twirl and crimp and twist and fluff.  I have no idea how they do it... but now I want to try.

That and I've become obsessed with finding the perfect hobo bag.  Yes, a hobo bag.  Upon uttering those words, anyone who knows me would think I've fallen prey to an invasion of the body snatchers, or better yet become a stepford wife but I'm serious.  I want this bag.  Or at least I think I do.  It's made locally which I like and I have at least one friend who has the bag and loves it.  But as much as I know the crafts(wo)manship is fantastic and it's both vegan-friendly and stylish, I have a hard time swallowing $125.00 for a purse.  I mean, I can fit my wallet in my back pocket (and have for years), my keys clip on to my belt loops (for an added, gypsy-jangle sound effect) and my cell phone creates a  modestly-sized bump in my pocket (which only kind of looks like a tiny penis).  So really, what do I need a purse for?  

Now you understand my problem.  The reality is, I want both the Chi and the hobo bag but the urge to buy these random lady accessories compete neck and neck with my need to eat food (sometimes out at fancy restaurants), drink hot chocolate regularly and buy many other [cheaper] splurgy things like books I won't read for months and small art that will go unframed until December.  So which is better: to occasionally buy pricey items that I've thought long and hard about but rarely have an direct impact on my quality of life or to treat myself on a regular basis to small, short-lived pleasantries that bring me equally short-term satisfaction?Tough call, if you ask me.

Image courtesy of

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In the kitchen with Salty

So you say you want to make something sweet for Father's Day? Oh, and you want it to be kind of fancy? Like fancy, impressive? Okay. Depending on your tolerance for butter-greased palms and boiling hot sugar syrups, you may want to try your hand at Fruit Galettes. It starts out simply at first... the recipe has less than ten ingredients and if you're like me, you think, "Eh? Simple." And if you're even more like me, you barely notice that the instructions for the pastry portion are three pages long. Yeah- it better be fancy impressive if you're gonna make me read three pages of roll, scrape, repeat.

The recipe I used came from a fantastic little read, eponymously named Tartine for the sweet little bakery in San Francisco. I chose local blackberries (picked last year in Magnolia and frozen) and cherries from the farmer's market in Ballard for the filling, with a touch of lemon zest for an added kick. And I rolled that butter and scraped that dough and flipped it in on itself to repeat the whole process a total of eight times all told. I even found a new trick to pit the cherries since that's one of the few kitchen gadgets Mr.Mr. and I have yet to acquire. If you cradle the cherry between your thumb and three fingers, anchor your opposite index finger against the other and slide the larger end of a chopstick into the stem cavity, a gentle poke is all it takes. Voila! ("And that, sweetie is how babies are made...")

And after many rounds of rolling and chilling, filling and crimping and baking and rotating, you have yourself some nicely browned fruit galettes. Now, I know this all sounds deceptively simple. And that's purposeful (what do you think I did with the other three pages of instructions??). If I spent all my time retyping recipes for all my invisible readers- I wouldn't have enough time to watch Battlestar Gallactica or Top Chef. So if this culinary challenge has your name [Invisible Reader #2] written all over it- leave a comment and I'll send you the whole darned thing. Bon apetit!


This is getting ridiculous. I don't sew. I mean, I have sewn before. Like, twice. I made a comforter cover and a Halloween costume/dress and- OH, wait! Three times! Er, well, I really assisted more on the third. But I can pin and iron like a machine. Anyway. While out and about yesterday I popped into both The Bouncing Wall (post to follow once I get better photos) and Nancy's Sewing Basket. And what do I find but the most crazy awesome fabric.

It's a silk/wool blend in a stunning gun metal-ish, flecked grey, bordered on one side with a dynamic repeating leaf pattern in a very brilliant red. And it's only $75.00 a yard. Remove jaw from floor. Reattach.

To buy one piddly yard of this beautiful fabric would be the equivalent of:

  • a week's groceries
  • a tank and a half of gas
  • a 5-piece set of our wedding china (on sale)
  • a week's lunches out at the bakery for me and Mr.Mr.
  • four months of Netflix
  • and so much more...

So I will abstain. Because the duvet cover I have in mind would require over five yards and that is an obscene expense for something I don't actually need. Not to mention I would likely put off the project for another four months. And besides, if we're talking about the equivalent value of $375.00, I can think of at least a few things I'd rather spend it on.

All signs point to...

At frickin' last, right? The weather here has been less than inspiring but man oh man did someone turn the heat up yesterday. Mr.Mr. and I went garage sale-ing on Queen Anne to see if we could score some second-hand furniture but most of what we found was kid's stuff. Tiny clothes, tiny dishes for hollow, plastic, pint-sized kitchens and most of all... tiny people. Oddly, they weren't selling any of those... but one said tiny person was feeling the entreprenurial spirit of the season and aimed to turn a buck selling Lemanad. Yes, "lemanad." Sadly by the time we arrived at his tiny counter, he had retreated inside for a bathroom break (I imagine he'd been drinking away the company's profits all morning) so we couldn't imbibe. But what I love most really is the style of his handwriting. Lemonade is transformed somehow to something exciting and French. "Le Manad." Very French.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Would you eat it? Part II: the Meat Pit

From the grubby depths of a smoking pit emerges a large, dirty, steaming pile of tin-foil. If I told you its contents were edible, would you eat them?

This is how the meat pit was born. The aforementioned bachelor friend (of DumpBerry pie fame) conceived this idea from who knows where (maybe a dare?)... he digs a hole in his backyard, throws in some coals, wraps up some meat and then throws on more coals before shoveling a dense cover of dirt on top. And then it sits- er, cooks for four plus hours.

Well folks, I'm here to tell you: I ate it. And I'll do it again. And again. And again. Because the meat that emerges from that steaming pile of tin foil is some of the juiciest, most tender, delicious meat I've come across. This week's version included ribs, chicken and brisket as well as a whole ton of zucchini. All of this meat got rubbed heavily with spices and wrapped in collard greens (sadly, a meat pit casualty as they serve to lock in moisture and protect the meat from bits of dirt that sneak their way beneath the double-wrapped tin foil), and what results is mouth-wateringly good. I highly recommend you find a nice little patch of land in your own back yard, take a shovel to it and dig in. Literally.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Times they are a changin'

Every year when it turns from cool to warm weather (and vice versa), I pull down my purple sterlite tub o'clothes and take stock of what I've tucked away eight months prior.  Usually I know every item of clothing by heart and it's a quick decision what to unpack into my bureau and what to leave for next year.  At least a quarter of the bin stays put. Wistful hopes of losing an entire femur or pangs of nostalgia that create a force field of protection from the donation pile have allowed items like the men's windbreaker embroidered to commemorate a 2006 family reunion to linger year after year. I have a very hard time getting rid of things.  [<- That kids, is an example of an "understatement."  Say it with me, "under...statement."]  I have socks I bought in college... yes, socks.  Many of my clothes are throwbacks to my years in retail when I had an employee discount and line of credit that forgave all manner of spending indiscretions.

But since the wedding we've had to be much more strict about what we keep and what bites the dust.  With one non-bedroom closet in the apartment, there's a limit to what we can keep and one tires of playing tetris with things like air conditioners and amps.  So last night I did the unthinkable.  I carefully folded and placed into the "resale" bag, my SRO skirt.  
I purchased this size 10, 14" long (WHAT?) skirt six years ago at Arden B at the Cambridgeside Galleria with my best friend Carolyn.  I was 22 years old and getting ready to drive 10 hours in a sub-compact car all the way to Richmond Virginia to see my oh-my-god-new-favorite-band, Carbon Leaf play on New Year's Eve.  It was my first road trip.  It was my first night reserving a hotel with my own debit card.  Not to mention it was my first 14" skirt.

And folks, the reality of a 14" long skirt is that you do not sit down.  I repeat, you do NOT sit down.  This is why we call it the Standing Room Only skirt(tm).  You do not bend, you do not kneel, you do not crouch, you do not squat.  You barely move at all, in fact for fear that your 10 inches of backside will sneak a peak from beneath the hem and make an unscheduled guest appearance.  

This is the skirt that introduced me to Lee.  Lee was 24 years old and worked trimming branches (aka lumberjack) just outside of Richmond.  And man, did I think he was dreamy.  Weeks after we got back into Carolyn's little car, my film camera filled with rosy-faced photos of me and Lee, late night, long-distance conversations continued.  But that time of my life has come and gone and as a married lady, there's really no place for an SRO skirt.  (Which is weird, I know, 'cause it's only 14" long.)  So if you know a size 10, twenty-something looking to strike out across the country to meet her very own lumberjack... give me a call.  I have just the thing for her.

It's all in the details

I just have to share with you a tiny little design detail I happened upon some time ago.  Some sneaky engineer, no doubt commissioned by the city of Seattle, designed a rather fetching emblem of the city that goes largely unnoticed on a day-to-day basis.  In the most innocuous of locations, you can find the image of two fish, tails entwined and just below water, framed by a circle and the words, "City of Seattle 1989."  I deduced (with a little help from the webernets) that this image commemorates the city's official incorporation some seventy-seven years after it's initial exploration by the British captain, George Vancouver.  Where can you find it?

On many of the older-style light posts that flank the streets of the city.  Look for the trademark steel cuff above the base that's decorated with a vertical, overlapping leaf motif.  And try not to think to hard about the fact that most of those cuffs (like the one in the photo) are not screwed in at all.  Here's hoping they serve no structural purpose. 

Sad news

I think it's a testament to the power of media that when someone famous passes away, it's often hard not feel a small pang of sadness because the side-effect of living very public lives is that people begin to feel as though they "know" celebrities.  Through trashy magazines and infotainment programs we "know" everything from their favorite lip liner to their recent breakup while newspapers, websites, and billboards showcase splashy photos of both their highlights and less-than-savory moments. 

One entertainer was a personal favorite of mine who I became familiar with vis a vis Sunday morning television on channel 67 (for those of you without cable in the Seattle area).  Tim Russert was a fantastic news person.  His command
 of my Sunday standard program, Meet the Press, was inimitable.  As a non-politico myself, I found
  MTP to be both educational and entertaining.  In an hour, I could watch the newest roster of political scenesters and industry analysts duke it out over  current affairs.  And I both balked at and delighted in the careful handling of starkly opposing opinions.  My favorite rebuttals frequently began with, "Well, Tim... as you know, I consider Rep. Suchandsuch to be a solid politician... we've spent many years working together... I consider him a friend... BUT..." 

It's been over two years since I first drew the host and guests of Meet The Press.  It began almost as a test to see how well I could sketch out the basics of their faces and postures while they bantered, rapid-fire style with only Tim Russert as arbiter.  And Tim himself was one of my favorite subjects.  His rounded jowls gave his face a nearly square shape (were it not for his little point of a chin) and his eyes were always alight with some sort of almost-private enjoyment at the sparring of his guests.  He had the perfect newscaster's voice and laughed when appropriate which always makes a person more human.  Some days he got little screen time in favor of high profile (or
 loud-mouthed) guests and I was only able to get a scribble down on the page- just his signature jaw line... but mostly that was enough.

Without getting too sappy, I know I'll miss hearing his voice on Sunday mornings  and I can only hope that his family will feel the full weight of the love and respect his colleagues and viewers clearly have for him.

Photo  courtesy of the Associated Press.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Kathie Lee Gifford makes me want to throw up

Watching Kathie Lee Gifford on the Today show is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It's painful and regularly induces a series of involuntary spasms manifested as full body cringing. What's worse is that in her catty, pastel-clad hostile takeover she's taken Hoda Kotb hostage and using her Malibu-mom mind control to zap any intellect from her victim. What were they thinking?
Recently in the blogosphere, there was press of her poor handling of the mommy-blogger contingent as she forced Heather Armstrong (aka Dooce) out on the ledge of the very precarious question of the web vs. family privacy. Yet sadly, Kathie Lee mismanages every guest in ways you wouldn't even imagine. She makes inappropriate and demeaning comments, such as the one today when she implied her guest (a Men's magazine editor) had nothing of value to say but was "nice to look at." Excuse me, what? Has this "fourth hour" of the Today show been renamed, "Cougar Hour?" For real. During the same segment they were showcasing men's swimsuits meant to be age-appropriate and when faced with a early twenties-type dressed in Old Navy board shorts, KLG remarks "Old Navy has the coolest stuff... and at the greatest prices" - and while attempting to appear attentive her eyes shift away from the young model in a way that says, "my line with WalMart tanked but I'm open for endorsement opportunities, hint, hint... anyone at Old Navy listening?" It's obscene. Again, I feel really bad for Hoda Kotb. It's like a magnetic field swirls around Kathie Lee and anyone within five feet turns into a blathering idiot. At one point Hoda actually lifted the mic toward an attractive model in short trunks to ask if the shorts were comfortable. He of course said so, to which Hoda replies, "hehe, I just wanted to hear him talk."

Please, powers that be at NBC: cut and RUN. This woman is a banshee. She has dumbed-down your demographic and added the equivalent of a low-fat, Country-Tyme iced-tea sweetened with Xylitol and Splenda to your lineup. Dump her and allow Hoda to go into rehabilitation so she can reactivate the other 90% of her brain Kathie Lee voraciously sucked out.
Image courtesy of

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Does it bother anyone else that you can buy an entire bottle of wine from Trader Joe's for $9 and pay $6 per glass for the same bottle in a restaurant? I thought so. That's why I'm determined to remind people that many a fancy dining establishment will allow you to BYOV (bring your own vino) for a nominal fee. I love me some wine and while there are plenty of restaurants that go to great pains to pair their food with very specific wines- many have a pretty standard list of go-to bottles that will work with most anything. And for their prices, you probably have a couple of bottles on hand at home that work just as well.

Now, don't get me wrong- the idea of paying some guy in a half apron and skinny tie $10 just to yank the cork out of a bottle is not my idea of thrift. But when you grab a garden variety wine from the local TJ's, Wine Outlet or MegaGrocer for $8, add the corkage fee of $10 (some don't even charge at all), and split it between two to four folks- you can use those dollars saved to go toward something else. Like say, a second bottle of wine? Or dessert. Your call.

Similarly, next time you dine out and find an extraordinary bottle of wine on the menu... price it out through your local wine dealers. More times than I can count, a cherished $32 bottle is actually $24 when you cut out the middle man. I love being sneaky.
Image courtesy of Wine Country Cellars.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Impromptu Etsy art crit

I like to think that I'm original in my artwork... but then again, most fools do. Lately I've been realizing this is a fantastic thing rather than something to get bogged down by or discouraged (which has more often been the rule than the exception). The piece above is an acrylic painting of mine in which an antique photo has been manipulated (no computers) to focus more clearly on its child subject. It's one of a group entitled, "A Series of Isolated Events." Prior to my settling on a name for the series, Mr.Mr. (my husband) pointed out how distinct the central figures had become... how I had completely isolated the children subjects (no arm chair psychologists, please) by modifying the landscape so drastically. And strangely, that had never occurred to me. I was more fascinated by the idea that these individuals were existing in an environment completely devoid of distraction- they were the complete center of attention; frozen in time in a way most photographs aim to be but fall short of in delivery.
Then the other day I found this image on Etsy. Erin Tyner lives and works out of Atlanta, Georgia and has been working on a series entitled, "Half Awake" which features miniature figures. The landscapes she has crafted (very clever, really), in conjunction with the decision to focus closely on the diminutive figures creates a very dramatic effect for the viewer. And what I realized we shared in our artist's box of tricks is the dynamic use of scale to create a relationship between subject and viewer that encourages an intimate, almost protective gut-reaction. Erin's work forces me to wonder about these little people and what exactly the stories are behind their careful poses. And it's precisely this intuitive thought process that I've attempted to encourage in my own work.

I know... "blah blah, I got a degree in Fine Art." But really, it's this kind of discovery, being able to identify similarities in technique and theme in another artist's work that fosters just the kind of creative growth and camaraderie I need. So thanks, Erin. I look forward to more compelling work as we each develop the visual narratives of our respective little people.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Don't hate on it

I'll readily admit that my gut-reaction to scrapbooking is less than savory. It's honestly less to do with the concept and more to do with the massive (we're talking WalMart scale), everyone-and-their-mom-loves-it, sell the shit out of anything gingham printed and backed with adhesive mentality of the industry that seems to have taken the country by storm. So it's really refreshing to the work of Nicole of niklindesigns1225 putting a crisp, clean and classy face on the denim-jumper, sunflower-hatted image marketers would otherwise have us swallow.

Nicole is a graphic designer who creates original paper accents for scrapbooking and collages and her scroll work is breathtaking. What I most love though is the way she's created a set of frames that are quietly elegant and a stunning compliment to any photo.

The fact is that scrapbooking's revival is a good thing. No, really. In an age when most of our memories live on a portable USB drives instead of our walls and in albums, documenting our lives and experiences in a creative and personalized way is an admirable thing. Not to mention time consuming. While I could personally forgo the sparkle pens and raised-applique icons, far be it from me to say it doesn't take a sincere amount of effort.

So here's what I'm thinking: take a cheap Ikea frame in black. Something simple with clean lines. Grab yourself a mat that's at least three inches deep on all sides and have an interior space cut so the angled inside seems to come from the innermost edge of one of Nicole's beautiful frames. I know, I do a crap job describing it but you'll just have to wait and see what I mean since I ordered a bunch of her work and will be using the frames to highlight photos from the wedding. Don't worry... I'll be sure to show and tell.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

You are what you eat, n'est pas?

As an avowed foodie, I put a lot of stock (har, har) into what other people cook and eat. And while the curious cat in me would love to poke in and around people's bookshelves, music libraries and dvd collections, what I really want to see is this:

...What, pray tell is in their fridge? And FridgeWatcher shows me just that. From all over the world people send in photos proudly displaying the contents of their refrigerator for all eyes to see. This particular image comes from a Seattleite's kitchen and I spot among the contents, Greek God yogurt (a little on the sweet side, I've found), Mango Chutney, Guinness (always a safe bet), Tomato paste (good in a pinch) and some red rounds of Babybel cheese (the perfect snack). I really enjoy noting the cultural differences in food from photo to photo and I'm always interested in the variety of packaging of things like milk, juice and condiments. The amount of alcohol and meat some people keep on hand is staggering in comparison with my own habits and I'm embarrassed at my vegetable drawer's barren cavity when I spot the folks who make the 5-a-day guideline a priority. Secretly too, it makes me want some sort of fancy imported fridge with handier compartments and specialized spots for bottles and cans. Ahh, fridge envy.

What's in your fridge?

Seriously, how great?

Ugh! I am killing myself that I missed out on this great little print. I've been lax lately about checking in on some of my super-secret-squirrel sites for affordable art and I'm definitely paying the price. This print, "Bear in Socks and Gloves" was offered up by ghostpatrol on Tiny Showcase a couple of weeks back and I so love it. I've seen plenty of variations on children as animals in the last couple of years but this puppetry take is very clever, indeed. To seek out some of your own affordable art, visit these great sites that regularly post new work at totally reasonable prices:
Tiny Showcase (they update weekly and a portion of each sale goes to charity)
Weheartprints (sometimes less affordable but no less amazing)
20 x 200 (you pick the price, $20, $200 or $2000)
Blue Flip Art (for the more graphic art & design types)
Where do you go to get your art on?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Why buy a condo anywhere else? (Ting!)

One of the local comercials that quickly infiltrated my brain like the nauseating earworm it is, is the ubiquitous Sleep Country promo. The slightly husky chanteuse ponders, "Sleep Country, U.S.A-A., Why buy a mat-tress a-nywh-ere else?" followed immediately by that sound clip advertisers use to denote shiny, white teeth or sparkling clean toilet bowls. And lately, I can't help but sing to myself a slightly adjusted version that makes me equally as nauseated: Crane City, U.S.A-A., Why buy a con-do a-nywh-ere else? What's up with you, Seattle?

This image, care of Beaster725 very clearly demonstrates the construction madness that has overcome the city. I count not one, not two, not three, but FOUR cranes in the one photo alone. What's worse is that on the average day I can see (from the 7th floor) between 6 and 14 cranes towering above the skyline.

How is this even possible? The Dow is down, gas is up and the next thing you know, people will be researching milk as an alternative fuel since it's the only thing still cheaper than oil. Homes are no longer lingering on the market, they're withering. So riddle me this: who, exactly are all these condos being built for? And of these new developments I've spotted at least two Senior Living centers a mere fifth of a mile apart from each other among them. Aren't senior citizens on average, less well-off than younger people and don't they hate things like city noise and... and... AND? Come on.

If anyone has some insight on this, please... pray tell.

Clever Girl

Bumbling about Anthropolgie, imagining a house filled with over-sized metal letters, turkish tea glasses made in China and an awkward profusion of faux-antique door knobs, I came across yet another book about mixed drinks. But before I could wonder why people can't seem to settle for the simplicity of beer, the illustrations caught my eye. It turns out, I may have to dig deep and learn to love martinis, whiskey sours and sidecars because Kat McLeod's illustrations in The Cocktail are fantastic.This Aussie illustrator has been generating plenty of blog buzz for the past few years and I'll tell you she's completely worth it. I deplore the use of "fierce" as some Project Runway fanbase declaration but I can find no other word to describe this blue lady below. Fierce. There. I said it.

Oh my god, I've been saved!

YouTube to the rescue! As a non-girly girl I've never been the one with the best makeup, the cutest hair or the most fashionable clothes at a party. But it turns out there may still be hope for me yet, thanks to droves and droves of girls and women who have flocked to YouTube to post how tos and demonstrations. In a quick search I found:
How to curl your hair with a flat iron
How to create a smokey eye
How to dress up nicely
...Okay so that last one might be a bit out of my league but I think I could rock pink heels.

So this is great. It turns out I don't even need female friends anymore- I can just learn everything I need to know from the webernets. Mostly kidding of course, I've actually been looking for some help in the appearance department for some time now so I'll have to do a few trial runs to see how much of a hot mess I can make of myself. All in the name of fashion. Can't wait!

Just search on "how to" at YouTube to check out more tutorials.

Deniably D

Taking about bras the other day got me thinking. I mentioned that I had been disheartened to realize during a fitting at Nordstroms that I was actually much larger than I previously thought. And if I had any readers, they'd surely be collectively gasping, "Why?" Because all women desire to be well-endowed right? The Almost As want to be Barely Bs and the Barely Bs long to be Close to Cs, no? Not entirely so. Having grown up in a family of all women, I was always the one with the smallest chest. And I was happy to be small. I had witnessed the struggles and difficulties each of my sisters encountered as they matured beyond their years too quickly. So when the bra fitter at Nordstroms tilted her head one way and then another and suggested I try the next size up, TWICE... I was mortified. A "D"? Really. Surely this must be a mistake? Never. Me?

I must be incredibly dense. Sure, people had noticed, men had commented and a couple of my husband's friends even applauded his luck in our earlier years of dating. Yet it wasn't until I had to have a photo taken by a colleague (female) to be posted online to a professional profile, that it really struck me. As she joked that she should aim a bit higher because the shadows were distracting, I wondered, how could I have been so oblivious? I have overlooked one of my more noticeable assets for years and thought nothing of it. And it made me wonder, what other assets, physical or intellectual, professional or personal, have I played-down, overlooked or downright denied?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Nordstrom's Bra Brigade

Imagine for a moment, if you will- an entire day spent surrounded by bras and underwear. A day in which you confront women of all shapes and sizes, colors and cultures in a six by six box with lightly upholstered walls and bad lighting solely for the purpose of assessing what bra size, shape and style is best.

Welcome to (what I like to call), The Bra Brigade. These women are truly the heroes of this nation. Now don't go getting all "Support our Troops," I can't believe you just suggested that yellow measuring tapes are going to fight the evils of Al Quaeda. But, or shall I say, "bust" seriously. On a rare excursion to the home of full-service sales (have you seen the price tags? really...), I had the occasion to speak to a few of these brave women. They were incredibly friendly, very well versed in the bylaws of the bra (no spillover, no side bulge, no back fat, no slingshot effect, etc.) and almost like the kind of girls you'd want to hang out with. Except that they were clearly younger, more fashionable and wore more makeup than me. Aside from that though, they were fantastic. And... dare I say it, seemed actually happy to do their jobs.

Now maybe I'm just jaded. Maybe I've been rehearsing my escape route for too long and I can't understand how anyone could be happy doing anything other than lazing by the mediterranean on an umbrellaed beach chair with a pastel-colored estate looming in the background. But what's the secret? I've worked in retail. I put in four long years in college at a little joint called Express (shout out to the Liberty Tree mall in Peabody, MA, Sistahs!) and I remember loving the moment when you actually made some one's day by helping them find the perfect top. And these girls really did help me feel more fabulous (although disappointingly two cup sizes larger than I had always thought) in the perfect bras which kicked ass. BUT. And I say "but" - I also remember the hours spent folding and refolding shirts and jeans in an endless stock room surrounded by the Christmas decorations of years past (If I see another tiny mirrored disco ball ornament, so help me god) and those customers who throw the most ridiculous temper tantrums. So how do they do it? And do they make a living?