I Might Even Consider It

I know I made fun of the ridiculous and goofy wedding cake toppers, but here are some that I might consider, ...if we were having a wedding cake.
They come as singletons too, for everyday, or maybe cupcakes. How can you not love the scarf and beret?

From Ann Wood Handmade.

The End of Tupperware?

Among the household necessities at the top of our wedding registry wishlist was new Tupperware. Although not being brand conscious in this area, it could also be Rubbermaid or whatever brand, it just has to be new, and better, and matching.

We have the inherited hodgepodge of plasticware from my family. There are lids that somehow continue to take up space in the cabinet despite their not having a container to match with. (After just finishing Boss by Mike Royko about Daley's Chicago patronage system I now think of these lids as the old neighborhood guys Daley kept in jobs at City Hall even though they could barely walk down the hall lucidly.)

Being people who live in a limited amount of space (as well as guilty citizens of the planet who are loathe to throw something away if it can still be considered to function) as every new registry item has come into our home we've tried to identify some old houseware item to go to the Salvation Army. But when I look at my current Tupperware I wonder if it would be disrespectful to think that anyone would want this. Even people who have survived hurricanes and fires and are rebuilding their kitchens deserve kind of nice stuff.

And then I stopped myself, if I wouldn't even give this Tupperware to the Salvation Army ...why am I continuing to use it myself? I know that stained tint is from Dad's spaghetti sauce, so it's not so bothersome? Wait, Dad died over 10 years ago now. 10 year old spaghetti sauce stains... yuck!

These are the kinds of things that blogs give you enough time to think about to facilitate decision making. If it's something that you're kind of ashamed to admit in a blog, it's something that you might want to change. Time to replace the tupperware.

But with what? I was surprised that it's kind of hard to find Tupperware or Rubbermaid at Bed, Bath & Beyond. (I think Tupperware still works through the house party shopping system, very '50s. There are still at-home shopping parties these days, but the wares are certainly different. You might want to click that link from home, not work.)

But on the other hand, it's very easy to find grocery store shelves filled with those little Glad reusable but disposable containers. Should we just switch over to them? I find the idea of little tuppies all in a row, matching lids, stacked containers very appealing. And this would be a lot easier than searching out the elusive permanent plastic containers. If there's a stain, throw it away with less guilt.
And there are even holiday designs, and sparkly versions.

I wonder if Tupperware ended and no one told me. (As though it's some kind of smack in your face sign, their factory did recently catch on fire in South Carolina.)

Figuring Out Our Finger Food

This year's solution to a lack of New Year's Eve plans is to throw our own small party. Finally I have time to feel prepared for a party, since I'm enjoying this entire week off of work.
Today I am considering appetizers. To my mind there is a three-tiered decision set here:
Basic: Harkening back to college days we serve chips, salsa, and maybe count on someone bringing some chips or oreos.

Basic Plus: Progressing to my post-college, first apartment days, we have the chips, salsa and also add a cheese plate with grapes. Tres chic.

We Act Like Adults: We prepare a few little homemade nibbles and we hit Costco. I hear that even the doyennes of Washigton entertaining are doing it today. (Best quote from the linked NYT story comes from the caterer:
The ultimate awkwardness, she said, is when clients want to buy their food from Costco but disguise it: “They’ll say: ‘Why don’t you bring the fancy glassware, and we’ll get the rest from Costco. And could you put it on one of your fancy plates? Oh, and how about some of your fancy ice cream on top?’”

I was not aware that there is another level entirely which the New York Times calls simple, as in "101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less." But there a few obstacles here:
#13. I don't know what it means to cooks garlic until it "mellows."
#16 for garlic shrimp calls for "pimenton." If we'd like to keep things simple, why can't we just call it paprika? (I had to look it up, so I can only imagine the crossed eyebrows I'd get from my grocer.)
#17. Calls for shucked clams. I'm not sure, can clams be shucked in 20 minutes or less? Does my grocery store carry clams?
#40. Flash-cooked squid. Enough said.

I am quickly retreating to my "Basic" comfort zone and have not even read halfway through the NYT's list.

Happy Holidays!

Without much time at home before Christmas, I did not drag out the decorations this year, nor recruit Jason into one of his least-desired "things I do because I love her" chores: buying a real Christmas tree. A duty that includes pacing a cold, snowy parking lot testing each tree for height and freshness; cajoling the purchased tree into the trunk of the car (the one time a year I miss his SUV); dragging it up our three flights of stairs; and then watching as 2 out of every 5 five needles jump ship before the tree arrives at the end of our sixty-foot hallway.
This year Jason had it easy as while he stayed home and napped (he's been feeling a little sick lately) I went out and brought home a small tree all on my own. A dwarf Alberta Spruce. It stood up all by itself in the backseat.
And although I'm not one for theme trees, all matchy-matchy decorations, this year it was cheaper and easier to buy and match whatever Lowes had left to offer. I am quite proud of my little red tree. The two souvenir Christmas decorations I picked up in Hawaii coordinate very well with the red light string and red glass ornaments with sparkle green polka dots. The sand dollars are from our neighbors who picked them up while beachcombing on their own vacation and brought them back for us, thinking of our Hawaii wedding.

Since I was working with what was left on the store shelves, the light string is far too long. To use up the extra distance I fed the lights into a large glass jar and placed it next to the tree. It reminds me of the summer pastime of putting fireflies in a jar.

I was drawn to the vibrant red and pink of a wreath at the Four Seasons while we were there. I wish I could recreate it here at home. But like many of the items we considered while shopping in Hawaii (namely Hawaiian shirts) it might be one of those items that is so fitting when you're on vacation but you bring it back to the midwestern winter and it suddenly seems clownish and out of place. I am glad that I have the photo to further consider this question.

One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days where it seems like everyone's looking at you? Or paths that you would normally travel unperturbed are now littered with people eager to approach or make random comments? (Hopefully most of you missed the nasty anonymous comment someone left on this blog yesterday. Whoever you are, you can go to hell. Sorry readers, I know we're all normally above that language.)

Anyway, this 'all eyes' phenomenon happened a couple of weeks ago on the train. It seemed like my fellow commuters were looking longer, or more curiously and purposefully at me. With it being winter hat and hood season it is possible that this was due to some unruly hair. I have to remind myself to make a stop in the ladies room before morning meetings today, because my latent cowlicks are only encouraged this time of year. I tried to convince myself that the unwarranted staring was due to my striking, enigmatic beauty. (Hey, this is what keeps the commute interesting, all right?)

Last night I stood in line at Lowes (buying my 75% off Christmas tree - I purchased all the goods for an entirely decorated and lit tree for less than $25!) when the older gentleman next to me remarked, "Those are really nice pants." I swiveled, and sure enough he was looking down at my tweed herringbone twill pants. And this was not a "Hey babe, your ass looks hot in those pants," kind of comment. I believe he was truly admiring the pants with no undignified intentions. "You don't see that quality fabric much these days, and the pattern is reminiscent of the 70s," he continued. "Yes, they're among my favorite pairs, thank you." I replied, and scuttled away quickly, still not sure if this was a weird event, or just a odd but entirely pleasant and genuine interaction.

Mahalo (Whatever that Means)

I think I was in a little bit of denial. Posting the recap of the week away in Hawaii and marriage in Maui would mean that it was officially over.
Yes, I know, it was just the magical *beginning* but unfortunately we won't be spending the rest of our marriage in Maui.
It was a depressing return to earth as our plane touched down in 27 degree, icy Chicago. And then there were over 200 e-mail messages to answer. My Aloha spirit was frozen; then crushed by Lotus Notes. And I realized while driving home the other night that for the first time in ten days I had a headache, and the place where I banged my knee last year falling on ice hurt again, when I hadn't paid a thought to it the whole time away.
All I can say is, "We should have stayed for 2 weeks. We should have stayed for 2 weeks." Maybe if I say it three times and click my heels together I'll find myself back under the poolside cabana, a Four Seasons attendant offering me an orange slice or chilled facecloth.
Of our time away though, I can say "WOW." I so readily and hungrily fell into perfect relaxation. The weather was exquisite. Our accommodations were beyond belief, and the level of hotel service bordered on ridiculous. There is seriously a man who patrols the pool area inquiring if he might wipe off your sunglasses for you. Yet they time these helpful interruptions (Popsicle? More Water? Drink? Massage?) so perfectly that you never feel bothered.
We enjoyed snorkeling, especially once I figured out why my mouth filled with water every time I tried to inhale through my snorkel. That's not such a good situation, but once diagnosed it was easily fixed. We did a little "Discover Scuba" 20 foot dive.(See movie!) As we were zipping up our wetsuits, Jason confided, "I've wanted to SCUBA dive ever since I was little." It was cute to discover that there were still things to learn about the man I'd just married the day before. We bumped into a big sea turtle chilling on some coral and played hide and seek with a shy eel.

Not to forget, the wedding day was super beautiful. Juliet and I enjoyed manicures and pedicures at the salon, and I watched as her hair was piled up in curls and flowers on the top of her head. I had the nearest to the Bridezilla moment, which was very mild, as I waited for them to finish Juliet's hair fifteen minutes after I'd hoped we could go get dressed. "She doesn't need any more flowers in her hair! Let's go, please!"

I think the pictures can probably speak to the majority of the wedding day. (I know you were waiting for that link!)I loved how small and easy it was. When the photographer needed us for photos on the beach, we simply turned to our small contingent of guests and say, "Why don't you just go to the bar over there and we'll see you in 30 minutes?" No fuss over cocktail hour arrangements, worry over how people get from Point A to Point B, or table place cards. For dinner, we just sat down at the table, all at one table.

Jason teased me about the delight I took in parading through the hotel in my gown, as every guest smiled broadly at me, wished us congratulations, or raised their glass with best wishes. No kidding, Japanese tourists took photos with me! When the restaurant apologized that we'd have to walk downstairs for the ladies room because their's were under repair, "No problem!" I declared, "I might just take another lap around the property for the notoriety!" I whispered into Juliet's ear. Outside of the restaurant, an older gentleman approached, took my hand and said, "It's not the dress that's beautiful, it's the bride," and offered a small kiss on the cheek. "Player," Jason pretended to grumble, "I bet he hangs around the lobby, waiting for all the brides."

There are more details to share, like the champagne that greeted us in our room at check-in, the yummy orange blossom mint ice tea always ready and chilled in the lobby, the perfect mojitos... and that's just the beverages! Maybe I'll post more later, but this should satiate the initial curiosity over our wedding.
It's still hard to believe that that guy in the next room in our apartment... he's my HUSBAND! (Who also just helped me figure out how to format my SCUBA video correctly. Thnx!)

Clairest is on Hiatus

See you in a little bit!

Advent Calendars P.S.

From another adorable blog, Yvestown, and then linking to another, I found a Flickr group dedicated to creative handmade advent calendars.
Is there something about Christmas that makes you feel more crafty too?
The shame of it is that there's really no joy in making an advent calendar for yourself, because then you KNOW what's behind every day. Unless, I make a 2008 advent calendar now? (Ensuring all treats are non-perishable of course. A stale hershey's kiss or moldy cheese bite would be no fun to discover next year.)

Would You Like Something to Read While You Wait?

Since I'll be out of pocket* for the next week, I want to share a couple of delightful design & style blogs I've discovered in the past week. Perhaps you'd like to read them while you wait for me to come back.

Oh Happy Day: Design and simplicity, "updated daily with pretty things", like advent calendars which I have adored since childhood. Not to get ahead of myself, but I can't wait to have kids and torture them with anticipation of Christmas with this little tradition! (But it's just all the other things about kids, like: labor, temper tantrums, figuring out childcare arrangements, less time to ourselves, adolescence, that moderate my procreation urge.)

Love Made Visible: This is a girl who I wish as I had as a best friend (read: free stylist.) We'd go shopping together, she'd tell me what looked good on me, as well as what fits my personal style.** Too bad, but she's doesn't update as frequently as 'Oh Happy Day.' Maybe it's because her other real friends are dragging her out shopping. But she took me online shopping, and I'm seriously considering one of these posters from Ork.

* When I first heard the term "out of pocket" I couldn't figure if it meant available or unavailable. At first I thought, "Oh, if you're taking someone 'out of pocket' it means that you're taking them out to USE them, like a set of keys, so they are available." I have learned that it's the opposite. Does anyone know if there's some esoteric origin of this term that helps it make sense?
** Working in Marketing, I've heard two different bosses coach me on developing and presenting my "personal brand." Claire Brand Hallmarks include: Diet Coke, being 'buttoned up' and knowing my information, enthusiasm tempered by maybe too much pragmatism (today's little coaching lesson), and a big backpack. My co-worker/friend tells me that a unique and extensive jewelry is also part of the Claire brand. I like that part. (I am so coveting this "peacock" necklace from Sundance catalog too. "Evokes the iridescent shimmer of a peacock’s plumage." Mr. Year-End Bonus may have found his purpose. Thank you, Mr. Year-End Bonus!)

Wedding Gift from Mama Nature?

There's nothing that will make us welcome the sun and surf of Hawaii more than a generous snow in Chicago. Let's just hope the runways are clear by Saturday morning.

My Own VW Ad?

I hate those VW ads, where there are folks my age(ish) in the car bantering and then "WHOOMPF! Crash!" Their VW is all smashed up and they are standing on the corner in dumbstruck surprise.
As Slate explains,
"The spots capture that out-of-nowhere moment at the heart of all accidents, when everyday mundanity flashes into a hyper-intense freak-out explosion. The ads also hint at an accident's aftermath: hours of jittery detachment."

Much was the same Friday night as me and three girlfriends jumped into a taxi for a pre-weddding girls' night out. (Can't call it a bachelorette, that brings to mind images of me hanging out the sunroof of a limosine, half-empty champagne bottle in one hand, homemade veil on my head, screaming in an ugly way.)
We began the evening at a small lingerie shop in Chicago, which was opened for our own little private party. My friend had even remembered that I loved sparkling wine, so we had two bottles of pink bubbling wine.
After packaging up our goodies, we were in the cab on the way to dinner, recounting our purchases, and those items we left on the store hangers, in carefree and giggling conversation, when the taxi came to a loud, jolting stop.
I looked up, "What happened?!" I exclaimed as I saw the side of a white SUV directly in front of the cab, and then, in slow motion, the SUV was tipping over, and coming to rest where we were staring at its underside. And it was very still and quiet, as we each breathed deeply and then asked, "Are you all right?" "Are you all right?"
Our taxi hit an SUV which had made a poor choice to cross into our path at a stop sign. (Our taxi had right of way, with no stop sign.)
Suffice to say, girls night out came to an abrupt end, just like in the VW ads. Each of my girlfriends emerged from the taxi with nothing worse than a smart little goose egg on their foreheads. Being the only one who wore her seatbelt, I was better off; I had no bump. I do have a heck of a muscle ache in my neck and shoulders, and woke up with a nagging headache, and discovered a small black and blue mark on my knee this morning in the shower. The neck pain is alleviated nicely by a heating pad, and I am very, very grateful for being so well off after an accident. It's very remarkable that an accident impactful enough to tip over a truck can leave each of us with just small bruises and strains.

Even the guy in the SUV stood up, in his now perpendicular-to-the-street vehicle, and walked out through the back window of his car. Cab driver was fine too.
Of course the loud and rather dramatic looking accident brought a flurry of police and firemen and an ambulance. I think I snapped angrily at some bystander who assumed that it was the girls who were driving the SUV that had made the driving error. "You girls were driving the truck?" "NO!" I said incredulously, rolled my eyes and huffed. The bystander skulked away.
Later, one of the cops called to us from across the intersection where he was standing next to the damaged cab, to clarify, "Were you the ones in the taxi?" We nodded.
"The meter's still running," he said with a wry note.

And She's Still Alive

The writer's strike has had a positive influence on me. Instead of spending 10-11 pm every night watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, I've been reading. The negative influence is that I'm now staying up past my bedtime on a regular basis (until midnight some nights) finding my book too hard to put down.
I'm currently enjoying a rekindling my love of Latin American author Isabel Allende. The first book of hers that I read was "The House of the Spirits" and it probably remains her defining novel for many readers. I then consumed "Eva Luna" and "The Stories of Eva Luna" quickly. After I finished one of her books, I quickly sought the next one.
Allende is a fabulous storyteller, with twisting plotlines full of tangible details, like the scent of orange blossoms, or the grit of wind. Unlike one of my other favorite authors, Jane Austen, who I regretted could never pen another book, I was so happy that Allende is still alive. Still writing! (Born in 1942, so probably still holding a few unwritten tales in her head for me.)
But then she had a few books which were duds: "Aphrodite" a book with an identity crisis, not knowing if it was a cookbook or a novel. And although I read it with sincere sympathy, "Paula" the book about her sick daughter, was a hard ice water bath, compared to her usual offerings which are escapist and romantic magical realism. And after that disappointment I held her following novels to higher scrutiny, and ended up let down.
But "Zorro" is riveting me! I was dubious, thinking it might be just a retelling of that Antonia Banderas movie, but it's not. It has pirates and magicians!
Isabel and I are friends again.

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