Monday, November 30, 2009

Still Fighting It

For many reasons, last week made me feel grown up in not such a good way, grown up but helpless and still stupid, I suppose. Still learning that the world is not a nice place, and I, unfortunately, fit right in b/c I am not really a very nice person. I like to use the blog as something of a confessional booth if you haven't noticed. How about I discuss the least personal example from last week? I feel like my other revelatory stories are either not really mine to tell or too embarrassing to air to the public.

I was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner for my family on Friday night, and I thoroughly enjoyed the planning and cooking and table setting. (I don't believe in Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade style "tablescapes" per se, so it's more of an exaggerated flower arrangement in my casa. I was just thinking though, what if I had come out wearing a dress made out of the same material as the tablecloth and the curtains and a crazed look in my eye? What do you think Hub would have done? I think one of his hobbies is hating on Sandra. This is making me laugh. I sense I'm the only one though, so moving on.)

Here comes the dramatic sighing. My family had other engagements, so they all came in just before dinner, and it didn't feel like Thanksgiving to me, and I guess that's the way it goes when you get older. Ben Folds once told me that it sucks to grow up. I certainly can't say this is the first time I have felt this way. I mean, I am thirty... ish, so ideally I would already be a grown-up. And, yes, it is a little silly for me to still be holding onto sentimental expectations for the holidays, but it was just a little shift, and I noticed it. I feel like we felt that way after Christmas last year, too. Is that something that returns when you have kids to celebrate with and for? There's my answer. Have a few kids so I can get a little more juice out of my holidays! Problem solved. That probably is the answer actually. I have too much time on my hands to feel sorry for myself.

Speaking of growing up and "Fighting It" and Ben Folds, some might roll their eyes during this video, but I just cried a little watching it. Please don't laugh at me. I can't help this. I don't want to be the kind of person who likes videos like these, but I love this junk. Enjoy.


Aren't they beautiful?

P.S. My mother's voice is buzzing in my ear: do I not own some kind of lip gloss? What the hizzle...

Monday, November 23, 2009

I heart charts.

I'm addicted. I have to scratch the itch. Right this minute, I have three separate lists in my purse. I like to take them out and pet them and add to them and make multiple drafts of them and double check to see if I can cross anything else off of them. I'm getting to the point where I need to make a list to keep up with all my lists.

I go into psycho planner mode when any sort of party or holiday or decorating opportunity approaches. Naturally, at this point in November, I'm really gearing up. I think people either get it and revel in crossing off lists themelves, or they think list-crossers are uptight, termagant Martha Stewarts.

As contradictory as it may seem at first glance, my urge to list stems from deep seeded fear and only thinly concealed tendencies as an irresponsible and highly forgetful person. I really enjoy the to-do lists, countdowns, schedules b/c they allow me some form of control over habitually inconsiderate and embarrassing scatterbrained-ness. I have to cling to these scraps of legal pad and napkin, otherwise I'm running around town, smacking my gums, standing people up, running late, and taking nine trips to the store.

You should have seen me in college. Hot mess. I had a special affinity for forgetting to pick people up when I said I would, for losing my license and using my passport to get into those hot College Station clubs, for turning in papers late (can you believe professors accepted them?!), for writing checks all over town out of a closed account, for being taken to jail for unpaid speeding tickets (I had to speed. I was always running late.), and so on and so on. The lists are my coping mechanism, my safety net, for not falling back into old empty-headed habits.

Additionally, I've discovered lists can provide a practical and therefore excusable outlet to spend excessive amounts of time getting excited about vacations, Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas giftings, decorating projects. Look at me--I'm doing it even now. Just typing that series of things I like to list gave me a fix. I'm good for at least another five minutes now.

Sometime this week, I'll post my Thanksgiving dinner cooking schedule. It's sweet.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back in Black / Pouting

My parents gave me this headboard and (unpictured) footboard when they were moving the other day. It fits our guest room bed, and I decided to paint it glossy black. The problem is that when I put it together and made the bed, it made our tiny guest room look even smaller than before. When I put the mattresses on it, the bed was really high... like you need stairs to get up there. I like a tall bed--feels like luxury--but in our little space, it made things a little claustrophobic. Plus, when you stand a sham up on top of the fat, pillow-top mattress, it covers up almost all of the details of the headboard. Grrr.

I was depressed with the mediocre results 1) because I had such high hopes for the posts to look like sharp silhouettes against the gray wall and 2) because I felt I had worked hard our in the garage to sand and paint and Wipe-On Poly it. (Man, that Wipe-On Poly is no joke. It smells just like turpentine, which I don't mind, but it made me hands really sticky. I washed them 900 times and finally had to take finger nail polish remover and scrub away to get some of it to come off and was still struggling. (One might say that one should wear thick rubber gloves when one uses W.O.P. next time, but I'll tell you right now that I won't do it. I don't like plastic gloves. No reason other than the vague feeling that I'm not in touch with what I'm doing. I'd rather have sticky hands.))

Anyway, I was in a foul mood b/c it didn't turn out like I wanted. All night last night, Hub kept asking me if I was still upset about the headboard. Apparently, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Being bratty and overly sensitive is my specialty.

Surely there's a lesson in here somewhere. Let's see. Something on my materialism, something Colossians-ish like setting my mind on things above and not on earthly things. Or maybe something more Jamesian like considering it pure joy when I face [domestic] trials of many kinds. Or maybe an Ecclessiastical lesson in the meaningless of the search for pleasure? Job-esque lesson in gaining some humble perspective?

Long story short, I've learned my lesson; I'm out of my funk; and I'll post some blurry IPhone pictures of the bed soon if anyone cares to see them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Pew for You

I decided a long time ago that the Coventry bench from Ballard Designs would be a perfect option for one side of our dining room table, but today, I had a revelation...

I think a Craigslist pew would be a cost-conscious alternative. This one is about 9' long and about $800 less than the Coventry banquette. That's quite a savings. (I would need to check on that seat depth though.)

Also, (oh my gosh!) it just occurred to me that my parents have an antique (and I think sufficiently long) pew that they've had forever. I wonder if I could swindle it away from them... Can you see me twisting the ends of my evil, waxed moustache right now? Maybe it could be my fee for delving into the hot mess at their new house and helping organize the chaos. Quid pro quo?

(Who am I kidding? I'm dying to arrange and organize all their mountains of stuff. I'm itching to get in there. I practically had to be physically restrained last Saturday in order to leave half the garage full of old furniture and boxes and garden tools. Maybe they'll recognize and appreciate this and not find room for the pew at the new house and feel generous toward little old me. However, I can hear my mom right now. "Giiiirl, you already took that headboard and that table and my bottle of gin. If you think you're taking the pew, too, you got another thing comin. Now, get in there and do some dishes.")

Monday, November 16, 2009

Imaginary Ballard Shopping Spree


Fabric for the orange chair? Only $12/yd. right now!

Wallpaper for feature wall in guest room? (Just wait for the pictures I have coming of a few projects for in there.)

Pretty yet totally unaffordable sconce

Much better option for the sofa table than what I currently have

I love topiaries! I would certainly put one of these on Hub's bathroom vanity and a few to replace my rapidly yellowing white pumpkins.

I'm set on getting a big seagrass rug for the living room, but I've also thought about layering a light neutral rug on top on that just under the coffee table, like the color of the round one here but in the rectangular shape.

or like this damask dhurrie

I would hang this over the orange chair in the little reading nook.

I could easily put this next to the green ottoman/day bed.

I would love this as my kitchen island.

Guest room?

Dining room?

Three Generations

My friend M. had a baby girl last week! She had round rosy cheeks and was so sweet. Here M. is with her mom and new daughter while her hubbie had stepped out for a minute. Congrats to the new family!

(Sorry for the fuzzy picture. My phone camera and my shaky hand make for one blurry image.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

I hate customer service.

Well, most of the time. And I guess what I actually hate is having to take care of the kind of business that a customer service representative necessitates. I talked to AT&T, MyInsurance Expert, and worst of all many many student workers at the registrar's office at A&M. I am annoyed and spent from all this. And at the end, I don't feel like I really resolved any of the issues about which I called.

Potential Christmas Cards

I thought these were the cutest. In fact, everything here is the cutest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Go look at this pull. I think it would be perfect for the garage sale desk I just bought (from the house across the street where I used to live) and plan on painting glossssssy black.

Want to hear something gross?

Seriously, stop reading unless you want some intimate details.

Tuesday night, we had cumin-crusted salmon with just a hint of cinnamon for warmth, on a bed of balsamic and EVOO dressed spinach, and with roasted/carmelized butternut squash and shallots liberally crowning all of it. It was successful on three fronts: it incorporated our weekly ration of salmon in an original interpretation; it was fall-ish in the extreme; it was healthy to boot. I only say this because of what's to follow.

I thought this dinner was so good that I wolfed it all down in about 2 minutes until I realized that I was way full and something wasn't feeling right in my belly region. And actually, something hadn't been feeling right for the last few meals.

We had people coming over that night, so there was no time analyze. I just cleaned up, cut some Nutella cake, and restrained Lu as everyone arrived. As we're sitting and talking, I started realizing what was going to go down... um, or rather, up. I did not know these people thaaat well, and certainly not well enough to make a scene. Therefore, I did what I like to call "making my stomach submit." Long story short, everyone left, I tried to postpone the inevitable but soon realized there was only one thing that was going to make me feel better...

I will insert a plug for Hub here, Hub who gets fidgety when anyone mentions heartbeats or pulses or any sort of bodily anything. Hub stood behind me during the retching and comforted me like a champ. He got me water; he handed me my loaded toothbrush; he brought a trashcan for the side of the bed just in case; and he told me his favorite piece of advice for stomach ills, "Lay on your side." I don't know where he got this. I've never heard it from anyone else, but I think it works, so I do it.

I went home early from work yesterday and took two naps, one of which was two hours long, and we went to bed at 9:45 last night. So now, I'm mostly better, but recounting the whole thing has unfortunately made me a little queasy. And despite Hub not getting sick over the salmon, I don't think I will be putting it on the menu for quite some time. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Here in Funkytown

Cote de Texas featured an obituary for Southern Accents and mentioned a last issue that never was published (except online), featuring Fort Worth's own Joseph Minton and his Riverhills Showhouse. Now again, I don't know nutin about nutin, and the living and study are not my style, but that kitchen! and that breakfast room! and those bedrooms!

Could I do a simplified version of that canopy in our guest room?

P.S. Carter, if you're reading, relax. No purple or gigantic floral fabric will be involved.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fixing It

My background just disappeared today. So I got a new one.

True Wuv

There is a sweet romance blossoming between Lu and Nephew.

He is fascinated with his girlfriend "Boo" and snuggling in her bed.

They're considering cohabitation.

Before you call CPS, let me assure you that he does this totally on his own and even gets angry when removed from the crate.

Etsy Find

I got this adhesive chalkboard off Etsy a few months ago. I cannot remember who the seller was, but I'm not sure I would recommend her anyway. She charged our account right away but didn't send the item until I bugged her about it about a month later. Maybe she just got her wires crossed or something. Regardless, it was easy to put up, and I like it now.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hamlet and Wicked

Please enjoy Jude Law's back.

Please enjoy Jude Law's blurry front, perfectly framed by his own giant poster face.

The production as a whole was pretty great. As far as set and costume go, everything extraneous (color included...except for a few token moments) was removed, leaving characters accentuated and Hamlet's "words words words" highlighted. Jude, to everyone's dismay I'm sure, was not nearly angry enough in the first act or so but he picked it up. I want my Hamlet seething from beginning to (almost) end and quiet because he can hardly move from hate and grief. Aren't slow movement and low volume much more threatening than theatrics? He should be sarcastic and caustic, stemming out of revenge, naturally, but also his princely entitlement.

Horatio was a little too overblown and even feminine in his movements. If you're going to go that way with the relationship between Hamlet and his best friend then just do it, but it didn't feel purposeful, just unedited.

Ophelia was missing intensity. Innocence isn't necessarily weakness.

Polonius was perfect scurrying windbag. Claudius was accurately a Bill Clinton-esque, suave politician. I would like a Gertrude who was something of a Hillary, but this one was an elegant and easily-swayed Jackie O., if anything.

Enough of Hamlet.

Wicked was totally different and exactly what I hoped it would be. We loved it. "Toss, toss, tossssss." Glinda made prissy so so funny and lovable and a little Elle Woods and not obnoxious at all. There were sparkles and synchronized dancing, and I'm always on board for some of dat.

Afterwards, when J. and I left it was raining, of course. While we debated the quickest way to get to the right subway station, a bike taxi happened by, a bike taxi with a convenient plastic hood over it. At first it seemed like a foolish waste of money. On second thought, it seemed logical--we didn't know which way to go, and we didn't want to walk in uncomfortable boots any more than necessary, and did I mention it was raining? So how much? He said $10. Well, between us, we only had $2 in cash. He replied that we looked nice, and he'd take us for free. We accepted. Can you see his back hunched over and straining in that top shot? I had been eating a lot since we arrived.

There were bumps and pot holes involved in our ride, but you can't really tell in this picture.

Love Affair with Lowe's

I could spend days in the pleasure dome known as Lowe's, wandering around coming up with ghetto-rigged, cockamamie home projects. I like to play a game in the aisle with all the brackets, industrial handles, and pulls called Where Else Can I Drill? or Can I Make a Shelf Out of This? or Is This Cheaper than Buying a Desk off Craigslist?

These pretty handles were on the same aisle with their rough and tumble industrial sisters, and the glass pulls to the left represent what I want for everything in our house. They look antique-ish, so they gel with the era in which our home was built, but I think the translucence of the glass also looks up to date and clean and modern. They do indeed have an Anthropologie vibe but slightly pared down and more simplified than their versions.

I like this fan as much as I can like any fan. I hate the nine different adaptations of ugly we have for our fans. I swear it's all I can see in the living room. Insert gagging noises here. If nothing else, our living room fan should be painted white so it would blend in to the ceiling a little more... but at the same time, I hate white fans the worst, so I don't know.

I'm searching for a mirror for the powder room. What do you think? I like oval, but I think this frame is too much for our little space.

This one is the right scale and the right price, but I don't love love it.

This one was my favorite (look closely b/c there is a nickel beading trim along all those beveled edges), but I think it might be too wide to be centered above the sink. I should measure.

Um, also, why did I wear an outfit that looks like I lead hay rides for a living?

Prettiness and Pretension

I found the witty and beautiful blog Smitten Kitchen through this know-it-all blog recommended by Hub. Please go to Smitten Kitchen immediately. She's a winner. As for know-it-all, approach with caution. His book reviews lured me in, but when I started on his food and cooking posts, I was a little turned off. I don't like it when people talk about bread like they talk about business. I don't know what's missing in his discussion, but I feel like it has to do with artistry or sympathy. He undeniably knows his topics (books, baseball, and food), but he's a little too sharp and critical for my taste. I picture him as smoothly shaven, sneering, and paunchy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I have wrinkles that don't go away.

My worst one sits in the crevice of my dimple. Sigh. But wait, I found a list of miracle elixirs described in detail on Door Sixteen that are sure to ease my pain. Her post about make up and lotions and irresistible things found at Sephora makes me want to throw away all my crusty bottles of junk beside the sink and start fresh and fancy.

Brooklyn Bound

One of our evenings all four of us walked across the Brooklyn Bridge around sunset, angering many commuting bikers with our aimless wandering and inconsiderate picture taking.

This was one of my favorite nights.

Hub took this picture about half-way across the bridge with The Statue of Liberty just over J's left shoulder.

As far as the sunset goes, we couldn't have asked for much more.

This one is looking north-ish in the opposite direction from the previous picture. Hub has the Empire State Building just over his right shoulder, and I have the Chrystler Building sticking out of my hair.

Once we got over the bridge and into Brooklyn, we hailed a cab and headed over to Diner. Our driver was an interesting Jamaican fellow who enjoyed laughing at gristly heart attack stories on the radio. But who doesn't? Once we arrived, Hub had a romantic experience with his Diner cheeseburger. I devoured a proscuitto and apple quince flatbread.

Then we moved on to Beer Table, which was even smaller and more intimate and more enjoyable than expected. Our hostess, dare I say curator, gave all of us tastings and advice in picking just what suited each of us. I began to have an irrational fear Carter was falling in love with her and her cute, quirky, little face and brain full of beer knowledge, so I took her outside and told her to put her dukes up. Then we battled it out old school style with switchblades. Think Jets and Sharks, dancing included. She would probably win in a dance off, too, actually. Then I gave her what for by flexing my leg muscles. What a night.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh, yeah, I wish it would rain down...

Rain down on me nowowhow. Don't you love Phil?

It rained, oh, about half of the time we were up there, which was a bummer, but I feel like we made the best of it. I finished up Catcher in the Rye while we were in Cooperstown (I needed some New York-y coming of age literature to get me in the mood for our stay), so naturally, I wanted to catch a few ducks swimming in Central Park and ask them in person where they went when the ponds froze. Then I called everyone a phoney a la Holden and called it a day. There are ducks in the picture actually--they're just behind those reeds. I was getting mad at Carter when I was taking this b/c he wasn't holding the umbrella over me sufficiently.

My shoes were completely soaked this day, and I was NOT HAPPY. I took off my shoes in the cafe in the Met and tried to blow dry my dripping socks over a vent in the floor. It was classy.
There was also this 13-year old private school kid sitting behind me who kept knocking his chair into mine, and this, too, made me NOT HAPPY. I might have thrown some serious passive aggressive teacher looks his way and knocked into his chair when getting up. Take that, kid. I learned him real good.

The day before, we breakfasted at Balthazar and wandered through the Village, stopping in a paper store and a book store, then made our way to Zabar's, and I did go through the "cash only" line with our bread and gruyere.

Then we took it over to the park and ate it, while unsuccessfully trying to keep our behinds dry. C, too, had a NOT HAPPY moment on the way to the park this day. He said something along the lines of "Why isn't the park closer?!" I had no answer for him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some Other Stuff

I'm not being precisely chronological in my description of our trip. Think of these posts more as a collage, if you will.

Our hotel was meh. (I had the same ambivalent, mildly positive feelings as I do about going to A&M. There probably were better places out there, but it got the job done.) It was clean and simple and convenient and that was plenty for us. By comparison, it was not the dirty, damp, hair-coated hostel that I stayed in on my last trip to NYC, so by that measure it was a bonafide hit. The Empire State Building area hood was a little more endearing to me because Anthony Bourdain's old stomping ground, Les Halles, is right around the corner.

The afternoon we arrived, we walked down to Madison Square Park and waited in the intimidatingly long line and snacked at Shake Shack while loving all the pups from the dog park, which I felt was a perfect way to jump start our stay in the city.

Carter and I went to Public that night for their tasting menu: 1) liver pate with lemon ricotta and crostini, 2) pumpkin soup with caramelized califlower and balsamic drizzle, 3) pork larb lettuce wraps (larb tastes as good as it sounds, which is to say dull, coarse, and off-putting), 4) lamb something or other which was well-seasoned if somewhat tough, and 5) creme brulee and house-made ice cream... but I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember the flavor. I think pear and apple and buttermilk were in there somewhere, but after all the eating, the details are fuzzy now.

One of our days there, we went up to Rockefeller Plaza, grabbed Dean & De Luca coffee and sat and people watched, killing time until our Le Bernardin lunch.

While we were sitting in the sun, Kathy Lee Gifford's partner on the Today Show, Hoda Kotb, walked by our bench. We stared, and she stared back. I saw her talking to her white man friend, and she seemed to be really staring at us, like she knew us, and talking about us to him. It certainly was one of those moments when you turn around to see if they're looking at someone behind you. Then she came over and said, "You look just like a girl we work with, Allison." I said, "Well, I know who you are," which in retrospect doesn't exactly follow, but I was flustered, so whatever. She was really tall and had on trowel-applied makeup, but that's the way it goes on TV, right? Then she said, "Have a nice day," and walked away with her handler. omg.

Speaking of celebrities, we also saw Woody Allen and child bride coming out of the MOMA and also Laura from Project Runway a few seasons ago. I gasped and grabbed C's arm when she walked by, which amused him. Our friends saw "Big Booty" Charles Barkley at their night at Craft.

We had the fixed three-course menu at Bernardin, and it was FAN-CY. They brought a real. live. finger bowl. With linen napkin alongside for Hub to dry his briny fingers on. We had Pellegrino and brioche rolls with butter and dark dark coffee later and beautiful salmon miso spread with perfect crostini to start. When we walked in, I was amazed at how quiet it was, like a cocoon. It was like everyone was wearing their slippers and communicating by facial expressions and whispers. King Eric Ripert walked through the dining room a couple of times, and I had to restrain myself from throwing him over my shoulder and kidnapping him. (No joke. I'm surprisingly strong. You would be shocked if I showed you how I lift with my legs. I'm telling you I have thighs like a horse! Just let me show you next time you see me. I'll pick you up. You'll love it.)

Hub's started with a tasting of six oysters with different gelee preparations arranged from most subtle to most intense flavoring. Awesome. I started with foie gras on the lightest, most delicate toast and covered with a veil of tuna. Astounding. Hub had the striped bass with parsnip custard for his entree, and I had skate in a spicy ginger broth. He had pistachio mousse with soaked cherries and white chocolate sauce for dessert, while I had chocolate hazelnut something with brown butter ice cream and caramelized banana. The whole thing was just on another level. It's like comparing Goethe or Dostoevsky or Shakespeare or Conrad with everyone else. Just so much more going on in there. But I will say that we were tense the whole time. It's hard to enjoy it when we're on our best behavior and worried about not looking foolish. I told Hub the solution is to just eat at more and more restaurants on par with Bernardin until we feel comfortable.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Despite a conversationally awkward and hovering innkeeper, the inn itself was cute and our time in town was relaxed. We enjoyed sleeping late, wandering through the Hall of Fame, and the paired dinner at Ommegang Brewery.