Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Symmetry Gets a Bad Rap

Our painters are doing their finishing touch-ups today on the last two rooms, which means that curtains and pictures are next on my Home Decor To Do List.
I like the look of white plates hung symmetrically on a wall.

...especially on a dark or brightly colored wall.

This one has grown to out-of-control proportions, but it's quite the impressive art installation.

I have plans for something similiar (but on a petite scale) in the dining room.

I don't have any kind of training, and what do I know about these things, but it seems symmetry can get a bad rap in the young design world. I think it has a reputation for being uncool in an old-ladyish way, but maybe I'm just being defensive. It is no surprise that I find symmetry intensely pleasing. I think it touches on and satisfies something in the human psyche. You see it everywhere in nature and in our own bodies and in the rise and fall of human life, and if applied delicately to a home and without tense rigidity, I think the harmony of symmetrical design is comforting. We recognize and enjoy the pattern. I don't like symmetry when it's too formal or inflexible, but I hopefully I'll like it in my dining room.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ebay and Craigslist Today

This table literally costs half of what its Restoration Hardware twin costs.
I see these in the guest room/office. If only the lockers were big enough to house records...

I think I could love this as my industrial kitchen island.

I would like a his and hers set of these: console table plays the part of desk. Nadeau (sp?) in Dallas has THE CHEAPEST furniture this side of Ikea. It's a little unreasonable.

Another Thing I Really Like

I like the looks of this.

One Thing I Really Like

My friend David Lebovitz took this picture, and I stole it from his Flickr page. He's not really my friend, but he could be.
All this to say that the picture illustrates one thing that I really like. Specifically, in this case, when you're breaking eggs for a cake or pancakes or whatever and you get to stack the empty shells one on top of the next in the carton and then kinda push down on them so they crack and fit perfectly together like a puzzle and become one compact unit of thing. The general trend of the-thing-that-I-really-like is for things to fit together perfectly in the smallest space possible. Conversely, the things I really don't like are loose extras, leftovers, remainders, objects without a place, cacophony, wasted time and opportunity. When I eat at a fast food place where I have trash after my meal, I like to tuck my straw into my cup, ball up my napkin/plate/whathaveyou and fit them all in the cup, so that they're not strewn across the table. Sometimes I like to do this for Hub's trash, too. It's very satisfying when things fit perfectly.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 4

This was our Estes hotel... or rather the parking lot of our hotel. Why do my legs look like that? I should not stand like that in pictures. Remind me if we're ever about to take a picture together. Also, at a distance sometimes khaki shorts make you look naked.

Anyway, we checked out on Saturday morning, and skipped breakfast so we could pick up a little gooey goodness on our way through Glen Haven. To our surprise, Glen Haven was having a pancake fundraiser for their volunteer firefighters, including a live band singing "America the Beautiful," an old woman hawking raffle tickets, grizzled mountain firemen loitering on a bench outside the general store, and sundry crafts for sale. It was one of those experiences that was so wonderfully, stereotypically... Americana-ish. Look, there's even a flag waving lazily in the photo. Luckily for us, despite the pancake fundraiser, there were still the famous Glen Haven cinnamon rolls for sale in the general store. Can you see that white mass in Carter's hand? That's the cream cheese slathered cinnamon roll to which I'm referring. Are you jealous? We ate them al fresco across the street in the shade.

With bellies full, we drove into Denver to The Brown Palace Spa. Trip Advisor ranks a spa treatment at The Brown Palace as their #1 activity in all of Denver. Here we are post-treatment and agreeing with all the voters on Trip Advisor.

Hub quickly aquainted himself with the intricacies of our hotel television.

Again with the sideways picture--I know. The bathroom was predictably awesome.

However, what was a surprise was a bright blue bag we received at check-in that included this little guy. I made our reservations over the phone and must have mentioned we were celebrating our anniversary, but look at the attention... "Happy 4th Anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Wooten!" That's us! We get to use the yummy-smelling, effervescent bath ball!

Now, some might not care about this, but I did. Turn your nose up if you choose, but be real--everyone loves luxury. And I really love sophisticatedly scented bath products.

We went to dinner at Mizuna and had one of our all time greatet meals together. The place was awesome but not too pretentious. Our server was attentive and relaxed but not too chatty. And the food was THE BEST. There was not a single thing they put on our table that wasn't great. The bread, THE THREE FLAVORS OF BUTTER, my martini, our salads, THE CHEESE ON HUB'S SALAD, his ostrich loin and involtini, my duck medallions and CONFIT, and our lemon tart with duo of berry compote. All great. But the item that got the most attention was their housemade tonic that composed a portion of Hub's gin and tonic. We asked our server about it, who brought the GM, who brought the chef's wife who makes the stuff herself. We now know all about preparing tonic. Even the valet guys were cool.

We came back and rested for a minute before walking down to Falling Rock Tap House, supposedly the best beer house in the nation. Meh. We had some good beer, but I didn't think it was anything special. We did pass by an unusual amount of vomit on the sidewalk on the way to the tap house. We came upon the vomit by surprise. First, I was just chatting and walking, and then, there it was! On the brick! On the steps! On the curb! Everywhere! I nearly stepped in it, so I tried to turn and escape, and I nearly stepped into it again. Of course, I was not dramatic at all about so much vomit. No gagging here.

When we got back to our room, they had turned down our beds. Of course. Chocolates are to be expected, but they cleaned up, turned down our lights, and turned on some soothing romantic music... actually I think it was some variety of Michael Jackson tune. He's everywhere lately.
Now with that, I wish I could say we had a great night's rest, but due to some other guests, we didn't. What are you going to do? We did have awesome room service french toast and eggs benedict the next morning though. Then got in the car for the beat down that was our 12 hour drive home. All in all, not too shabby a way to celebrate being a husband and a wife for four years.

Drama in the Tub

Check it...

This has nothing to do with Carter or me or our vacation.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 3

Have you been to Estes Park? My family has visited since as long as I can remember, and during college, I worked there for three summers at a restaurant and inn, and I love the place. It is without doubt a tourist town in every way, but somehow, that makes it less intimidating and more comfortable. You do not have to be cool in Estes Park. Basically, Estes exists because it celebrates Rocky Mountain National Park. Carter and I went into the park Friday morning for our big hike (after our room service breakfast and french press coffee of course).

Aspens are my favorite. Their leaves shimmer. Did you know that they're considered the largest organism in North America b/c groves of seemingly individual trees are actually all interconnected at the roots. Hub knows this already because I like to recite this fact at regular intervals when we're in Colorado. I don't think it diminishes the awesomeness of the Aspens.

(Sorry about the sideways picture. I can't be bothered.) We thought we were hiking to Fern Falls and Fern Lake.

We went to Cub Lake instead. We didn't see any cubs, but we did see a snake on the way up.

And ducklings with their aggressively hungry mom duck. I had to wave my boot at her to get her off our sunning/picnicing rock. She was in my face. When we were hiking back out and almost to our car, we saw a coyote in the path. I'll admit that I was scared, but here's why. I grew up in Palestine. I've been in the woods, and it is not normal for a wild animal to just stand there and nonchalantly stare you down. Wild animals run away when you come up on them. An animal just standing there probably has some issue you don't know about: rabies, injury, babies nearby. Sumpin. I clapped my hands at it and told Carter to stop walking towards it, but he doesn't submit to bullying easily. I thought about Haley Mills in The Parent Trap when she gets her potential stepmother to bang those sticks together to scare the bears. I was just clapping and telling it to get out of here. The coyote finally ran away. Then Carter and I argued for a good five minutes whether it was a fox or a wolf. We compromised--coyote it is.

We had nacho's at Ed's Cantina, which makes me laugh b/c although Ed's has good drinks, their food has not always been my favorite Mexican food in the world. I mean really, it's in Colorado.
I used hang out at Ed's in my Estes Park hey day. Carter likes to hang out with the townies--not really.
That night we ate (I told you we were fatties on this trip) at Poppy's on the Big Thompson River, and long story short, Carter started talking beer with the owner who is apparently quite the beer-o-phile, and he sent us home with a really great bottle (and some Prosecco for me). Then we wandered around downtown and went to my favorite paper store and shared a caramel apple on a bench on the street.

Day 2

Here we are enjoying our private breakfast outside the inn. We even went to the gym after this. Colorado has a healthy influence, or maybe it was our guilt over eating greasy starches for dinner.

Hub stocked up on assorted microbrews he can't get in Texas, and then we headed to Fort Collins to New Belgium, which in hindsight, we should have skipped.

It is a pretty slick operation, and the tour was pretty much just propaganda for New Belgium as an employer and company and not so much about the product they produce. The whole place was completely packed with people too, so there wasn't any place to sit. All in all, if I could do it over, I would have totally omitted Fort Collins and gone on to hang out with my family in Loveland. Oh well.

I did have a very Laverne and Shirley moment here though. We're going to make it...

More big beer tanks!
We did have dinner with my family that evening. They have an awesome house and backyard, but unfortunately we were too busy talking, eating lasagna, and playing wiffle ball that we forgot to take any pictures. I have a question: what do you call your cousin's kids? Is that a cousin once removed? Or is that a second cousin? Anyhoo, my cousin's son, Zack, who is around 5-ish, has a six-pack and can school you and everyone you know in wiffle ball, baseball, and probably every other sport. It is curious to watch natural athletic talent in such a miniature body.
After dinner and dessert, we drove throught the canyon to Estes Park for the night. We had a hot tub on our balcony!

Day 1

We just got back from vacationing in Colorado. We left Tuesday around 4:30 in the afternoon and made it all the way into New Mexico (and cool weather) that night. Wednesday we woke up and drove into Boulder around lunch time, where we checked into a B&B just off of Pearl Street.

(Now, as an aside, we are not B&B people. I don't like doilies or dusty pink or artificial ivy climbing around my canopy bed. Additionally, Hub doesn't like talking to strangers... especially at the breakfast table. Who does? Maybe we're antisocial, but I don't want to have to make conversation with Maude and her tan, new husband from Tucson or whoever that early in the morning. I'm sure Maude is really nice, but I'm lazy and like my space.)

With all that said, this B&B allowed you your privacy. It was simple, with a rustic Colorado-flavored lobby, and it was perfect for us. It was close to everything we wanted to do, so we pretty much walked everywhere.

That's a hand-carved wooden cat nestled at the foot of our bed! I tried to convince Carter to snuggle with it for the picture, but this is as close as he would get. Oh! and they had fresh cookies and cake out all the time. Yum.
Later that afternoon, we went down to Avery Brewery, where we briefly visited last summer, but this time around, we were hooked up with a friend of a friend, Rob, who gave us a "VIP Tour" as Hub was calling it. We met brewers and bottlers and engineers. We saw fermenting tanks and brightening tanks and big machines and hops, and I can't remember everything. There is a lot more manual labor involved in microbrewery than I think either one of us knew.
We drank a Karma that had been bottled less than 30 minutes previously.

This was the best thing we did. Rob took us into their barrel room, where they've brought in barrels from rum and whiskey distilleries and wine makers, and Avery experiments with aging various brews in various barrels to see what happens to the flavor. Each barrel had a little nail in it, and Rob would take his pliers and pull out the nail and stick our glasses under the stream, and we got to taste the results of their experimentation. The highlights were a sour cherry beer and an oatmeal stout in 1) a whiskey barrel and also 2) a rum barrel. After all our tasting, we went into their public tap room and sat with some of the brewers and talked about how everyone ended up working for Avery and their big biking trip and how beer is as much escapism as football. Whatever that debate was, Carter won.
Last interesting fact, Rob's wife used to be a professional figure skater and used to train with Tonya Harding. She saw her a few years ago in an airport bar, and Tonya has put on a little weight. Just in case you were wondering.

I watch Top Chef on Bravo, and last season, Hosea was quite the contender. His restaurant is in Boulder on Pearl Street, and we just happened by. I said, "Isn't Jax the name of Hosea's restaurant?" Hub was doubtful. I said, "Yes, yes, I think it is!" And it was. If they're closed, why not just take a picture of the menu?

Pearl Street also has professional street performers that have to be approved by a city council or something, like this fire juggling unicycling guy. He definitely made the cut. He had jokes, too.
We ate at The Kitchen Upstairs for dinner. We had mussels, french fries with sea salt, and mac & cheese. Our first meal was sort of a harbinger for the greasy food kick that would be our norm for the rest of the trip. We ate like fatties the whole time. And loved it.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Lu ran away yesterday. She squeezed her lithe little body through a crack in the fence and away she went for an adventure, laughing and kicking up her heels as she skipped down the sidewalk.

Nothing I can type will thoroughly describe the panic I felt during the hour or so we were looking for her. Is she a human? No, she's not. Do dogs run away all the time? Yes, they do. But it was horrible to think that she might get run over on Hulen or the frontage road. It also was horrible to think she might have been stolen as a guy suggested to me when I stopped to ask if he had seen her. I'm not sure why he mentioned it, but it just about put me over the edge. We got the in-laws involved. We got the neighborhood "civilian patrol" involved. Obviously we were desperate.

I cannot remember the last time I sweated that much since Honduras. I was a lunatic, frantically asking garage sale patrons and neighbors if they had seen a friendly little Boston Terrier. Long story short, I had pretty much given up hope after walking/running through all of Arlington Heights bra-less in my big pajama shirt and gaucho pants. I had talked to Carter, and we were both headed back to the house.

As I was dragging myself back toward the house, I happened to look over in a backyard a few houses down from ours... and there she was, smiling. I said, "Lu, is that you?" She said, "Maybe... I'm just having fun. You know. Doing what dogs do." I said, "What is wrong with you? You never do this kind of thing." Then Louise, the owner of the house, came out and told me that Lu had wandered into her yard, and she just kept her back there. After a lot of blubbering, nonsensical thank you's, Louise handed her over, and we went back home.

I think Lu and I were both dehydrated after the whole experience, so we both took a bath, drank a lot of water, and watched a Michael Jackson tribute together on the bed. The End.


I approve of this romper. This is pretty much the only time I've ever been able to approve of one.

Slate's Double X has an interesting article analyzing them (and infantizing sartorial choices).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Moving makes us tired.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All I think about...

is stuff with which to fill our new house. Judge me if you must, but I have a lot of free time to peruse the internet for beautiful housewares. I have been drooling lusting over many a ridiculous item, but these are my top five presently. Let the confession begin.

Gimme this dining room table. It seats 10-12! I must have it!

Gimme this pendant for the living room. It's so geometric.
A huge one of these in black, please. 10' by 14' would be just right.

I'll take a pair of these. Look at that shade.

And my favorite... I could fill my living room with these and just roll around on all of them.