The Power of the Presidency

This must be the real power of being president, making staffers ditch their Blackberries and cellphones in baskets outside the doors of the Oval Office, Roosevelt Room and Cabinet Room. If only I could do the same to my coworkers, and sometimes, my husband.

This photo is just one of many on TIME's photo essay of the first 100 days in the White House.

Slouch

I make it a ritual - sometimes short, sometimes considered - to pick out the next day's outfit every night. I'm really not a morning person, so I'd much rather spend the time making these decisions at night rather than 6 in the morning. Why lose precious minutes of sleep?
But all this thought is just lost when I get to work, realize I was overly optimistic about the temperature and toss on a cardigan. A slouchy grey cardigan that makes the professional, sophisticated, and stylish outfit I put together suddenly slouchy and frumpy. Do you want to promote this girl? Doesn't look like she's interested at anything at the top of the career ladder. Appears like she'd rather baby talk her cat and pick up her knitting.

Either I need to get better at planning outfits (not sure if that's possible after 30+ years of choosing my clothes, and the same lack of desire to be awake in the morning means I'm lucky if I catch 20 seconds of weather reporting from NPR) or I need better cardigans. More sophisticated, more professional.


Nice, but not my size.


Cute, but not sure I'd know how to wrap myself up in it properly.

From Etsy, looks so comfy and cute, yet posh for the weekends, but not at all addressing the work slouch problem.

I should probably just park a tailored jacket at the office for these days, and then I'd have a quick professional look. (This one's from Old Navy - only $30, and shipping to me in just a few days.)

These earrings (Etsy also) would be a nice match too.

Haunting, Fascinating


Two words to describe this blog post from Sweet Juniper I stumbled upon about the remains of an old housing project in Detroit. Maybe there's a little kid in each of us that wants to sneak into abandoned houses and poke around into the left behind lives of others.

Sew...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know my talented sister was sewing her own prom dress in high school. (Whatever. Not jealous, even over 10 years later...) I am, however, proud of what I made today at sewing class. A summer top.
I brought home the fabric before the class and Jason asked if I was making a Navajo blanket. Ha-ha. The teacher even asked me where I'd found the fabric. I took this as a compliment, but maybe she was wondering how close the nearest Indian reservation could be??

I had every confidence while having an instructor right at my side to create something from a sewing pattern, but I'm wondering if I could do it unchaperoned. The same pattern had a 3/4 sleeve version - with little ties! - that I'm curious to try.
And looking at fabrics online makes me more tempted. Wonder what kind of smarty pants remark Jason will have for these prints? (From fabricworm.com)

Mocking Mother Nature

I laugh at these Vitamin Water commercials that have Mother Nature in charge of an office of cute furry animals. (Just imagine how complicated it was to wrangle a set with three prairie dogs and a wolf. Another version has my favorite, bunny rabbits!)

The mockery of Mother Nature also captured in these Tampax ads. She's chasing you down, calling your name is a nasal, nagging voice, to give you something special: your period! They dig into that insight that, as a girl, when you first get your period your mom treats it like some big accomplishment and gift. And you're just thinking, "Seriously? A gift? This is a pain! This is going to happen to me every month for the next 30+ years??!" There's another funny version here, where Mother Nature hunts down women in the street. One with her boyfriend, saying "Good news! She's not pregnant!" and bestows the little red and pink "gift" box.

Under My Umbrella


Today was a lousy day. Stupid day.

So, tonight for dinner I am having:
- Spinach artichoke dip and pita wedges
- Pomegranate martini
- Cake
(All party leftovers.)

I may even watch a movie tonight to make my escape from the day complete.

There are days when I wonder if staying in bed might have been better (but the adult part of me knows that whatever happened today would have patiently waited until Wednesday to slap me in the face anyway.)

I should have known when it took me a block in the morning rain to get my umbrella open that the day might not go my direction. (I am glad though for the friends and husband, and blog readers who allow me to indulge in the frustration and self pity I require.)

Color Library

There's just something about this decorating idea that makes me twitch, in a Type A, OCD kind of way. Although my right brain loves the beauty of organizing books by color, the left brain wonders how you'd ever find anything to read. I organize by subject matter: politics, biography, travel, fiction, chick lit, and Jason's computer books. Books that I am most proud of and want others to see are on the eye level shelves: "Why yes, I did enjoy Anna Karenina!" The books I don't on the bottom: ASPCA Guide to Cats. (I still haven't figured our furry roommates out yet though.)
See this idea taken to a grand scale in a San Francisco bookstore:
It will probably take a very rainy and boring weekend for me to ever give this a shot.

Party Pooped

Our housewarming party was a resounding, amazing success! 49 people RSVP'd and I felt like they all showed up! The living room was so loud for the first hour I wondered why I'd spent so much time on the party playlist, since I couldn't even hear it. Busy being a hostess, I was hardly remembering to enjoy my own party! Jason and I would catch each other in the hallway, pause to catch our breath and inquire as to where our totally freaked out cats were hiding. (A dramatic moment occurred when they were separated, each hiding under a different bed.)

I concocted a few 'signature drinks' for the party, arranged around a monopoly board with little houses and cash on the counter, to reflect our new home buying theme.
The "First Time Buyer" (This was basically a Shirley Temple, which I mixed as non-alcoholic since we had two pregnant ladies as guests!)
The "Seller's Agent"
There was also the "House Warmer" - coke and spiced rum and "In the Red" - a yummy pomegranate martini, which seemed to be a favorite. (Really good recipe here.)

I realized that guests liked the idea of the drinks probably more than actually drinking them. (As I poured an almost full pitcher of a martini mix down the drain at the end of the night.) Instead, my friends really like red wine. A lot. So I hid the bottle of red that my friend from Argentina brought, to save it for myself later! Later he looked for it on the counter to tell someone else about the variety and paused, "Did they already drink it?" he asked in dismay. I had to confess that I'd pulled it under the counter for myself!

I made a yummy prosciutto-wrapped asparagus app. (Forgot to read the part of the recipe about baking them, but no one noticed. I could later argue that serving them fresh and cool better fit the mood of a springtime party. It was even warm enough to have guests on the balcony... which meant I also made a hasty supermarket plant purchase to fill an empty planter in the corner.) Also bought at the supermarket were trays of sushi, which we unpacked and put on a neat white platter. Guests asked, "The sushi is so good, where did you get it from??" "Supermarket." I whispered softly and secretively.

It was kind of cool to see old neighbors, a friend from Oberlin who I literally hadn't seen in since graduation, and friends of friends who I hope are becoming closer to first degree friends. What a crowd.

What a party. We surrendered to the dishes at 3 am. Finished them this morning.

One Last Thing (It's Important)

This week has been busy in party preparations. Our housewarming is Saturday.

I taste-tested my theme drinks last night and they were yummy!
I cleaned tonight and the place is spelling like vinegar and citrus.
And all week long I drove Jason crazy. I think I started stressing him out. No, I know I started stressing him out.

But just in time, Mother Nature gave us a glorious and sunny 70-degree day. The sun streaming through our windows certainly made the dust more obvious as I was cleaning. This was sort of helpful, but there's also something to be said for blissful ignorance.

As all the details come together and I craft my finishing touches, of course my camera broke today - at only 6 months old! Worse yet, in front of all of my coworkers. There's no good news when you google the error message and the word "fatal" comes up in the search results. The most common fix is to bang the camera a lot. Really. That's the answer. I might try calling Canon first.) Luckily, Jason has a camera too, so I can still play photojournalist for the blog later.

What I haven't considered yet is what I'm going to wear. How could I forget?

In a Little Weekend

In just one little weekend I felt like I strengthened the connections in so many parts of my life: one college roommate (and her family), one sister, one cousin, one aunt and one all-important grandma. Not that it's about inventorying them like easter eggs in a basket, but this weekend my basket would have been full.

I spent the night with old friends Ellyn & Joe, and their adorable, although sniffly, daughter, Clara. The little one is barely a year old, so the Easter morning easter egg hunt was highly amusing. The first hunt I'd seen where the egg actually hunts you. After a few minutes of cajoling her to take to the hunt, we each encouragingly rolled purple, pink and yellow plastic eggs straight towards the baby.

Last time I'd seen Ellyn & Clara I'd had a terrible cough and cold, so it was with a certain amount of superiority that I tsk-tsked little Clara this weekend when she wouldn't cover her mouth when she coughed. (No, no, just kidding.) After a few hours together Clara trusted me to wipe her nose and she let me wear her hat for a while too. Turns out you can entertain a baby for a surprisingly long time by putting her hat alternately on your head, her head and her doll's head. And over and over again.

And do you know what else? The Easter Bunny knew I'd be in New York again this year! (Thanks Ellyn!)

Happy Easter!

Martha Stewart has Easter Pets!

Hopping East


Easter is going to be spent, perhaps appropriately, on the East Coast.
I found it delightful growing up that we'd arrive at Grandma & Grandpa's apartment in New York City Easter morning and discover that the Easter Bunny *knew* we'd be there, because he'd left Easter baskets for us in Philadelphia earlier that morning AND New York City.

The Easter Bunny is the only gift-giving childhood deity (a cast that includes Santa and the Tooth Fairy) who I ever wrote a letter to. (You're probably wondering if I wrote to complain that my basket the year before didn't meet expectations?) I think one year we had the idea to leave gifts for the Easter Bunny so I also added a note. Imagine how joyful I was to come downstairs the next morning and discover that he wrote back! I might have even brought it to show and tell as validated proof of the Easter Bunny's existence.

This is one of those things that makes me wish my Mom was still around so I could thank her.

Ready for the Rain

Aren't these umbrellas from Fred Flare terrific?
I like the green.
And I like how your sloppily rolled and snapped shut umbrella now looks like it's intentional, making up a swingy skirt for these girls.

Party Planning


We are going to finally throw open the doors of our new home for a housewarming in the next couple of weeks.

It's been a good motivator to patch up the scratches in the walls, paint over the marks, and if there's been anything I've been looking at for months and not liked, to try to fix it. (Also kind of great that this is a couple weeks before Jason's mom comes to visit, so everything's kind of in order for her too.)

The party planning list is building in my head:

- iTunes playlist: we've got two levels so we were thinking of doing chill and swank upstairs and more 'rock the party' downstairs. This will avoid the dissonance of the potential coincidence of the same song playing upstairs and downstairs at the same time, but out of sync. Jason tells me there's an app through iTunes where iPhone users can vote for their favorite songs on your playlist like it's a jukebox. Way above my head, I'll let him figure that one out.

- Food and drink: do I go with a theme or just put out the stuff that I like although it doesn't match (like wings from Harold's Chicken Shack alongside guacamole?) Do I concoct a signature cocktail? The "House Warmer"? The "First Time Buyer?" The latter could be something with the taste of a Shirley Temple. This might be fun, but I'm not sure if I really have the time or the mixology smarts. (This is a hint for readers to make suggestions!)

- Entryway: Based on our invite design (pictured above) I'm thinking of replacing the wreath on our door with a vinyl record, with a custom label noting that our guests have arrived at the right place. (But this means I'll either have to steal one from the boxes in my storage unit or hit a record/thrift shop.)

- Unfinished business: We do have one room that is technically my "office" but it's also where the ironing board goes, with the litter boxes and cleaning supplies. There's no hope of having this together in time for anyone to come over. Instead, I'm thinking of composing a vignette of my ideas for the room and having people somehow comment or vote for their favorites. (Have those little post-it flags out for guests to post on their favorite elements.) I hope that this will stop everyone from quickly turning out of the door in disgust!

One final endorsement: For our party invite I used pingg.com Such a nice alternative to Evite. Think of anything that you don't like about Evite: I need to log in, I can't see the party details in the email notice, I have to click through to their website just to RSVP, too many ads... Pingg addresses them all. And they have hip invitation designs too. (Like the image above, which I chose for our party. Which means that I now really want to get this real record player to go with it!)Wow, so much to do. (And I'm out of town this weekend... and Jason's brother is visiting... wonder if I can trust them to keep the place clean??? Better just add cleaning to our list of pre-party chores!)

Why?

Why is it so cold? I do not want to wear this coat. (Although it's been a great value for the money. Mine is dark green and the zipper is busted so I have to step in and out of it like a little kid putting on their snowsuit. Added to the fact that winter has lasted too long, this feels like the final insult.)

The Chicago Tribune website has a link on their weather page that is just entitled, "ASK TOM WHY." Tom Skilling is the local worshipped weather guru. The straightforward, all caps link suggests that the injustice I feel might be universal.

Why Tom? Why?

You Sank My Battleship

This is the joke that just never makes me stop laughing.

When a coworker makes a comment that my idea will never work, or that the project I'm working on has far to go (in front of our boss) I can only protest, "Hey, you sank my battleship!"

And I laugh to myself.

And I'm sure everyone that knows me rolls their eyes and wonders when I'll stop finding that so funny.


Never.

Battleship T-shirts from Threadless
And also here:
(It might have been an early clue to our future together when I was first dating Jason that he'd quote the Connect Four commercials: "Pretty sneaky, sis.")

Cooking School

Jason and I were a little out of our league on Wednesday night. Watching and listening to chef Grant Aschatz as he demonstrated 'molecular gastronomy' at a demonstration kitchen in nearby Evanston. Probably two years ago, foodie friends Abby and David were planning their trip to Chicago and explained that they wanted to go to this restaurant, Alinea. I think I was about to offer to call for a reservation when Abby explained politely that we'd get in through David... and not so easily otherwise since this restaurant had just been named the best restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine.
The meal was fabulous and intriguing. A celebration for all the senses.

And maybe a little out of character, Jason became a fan. So much so that it was he who got us tickets to this rare night when Aschatz was not in his own kitchen.

The energy of the room was the gleeful fan club vibe, full of doting high-brow foodies. (And us.) It was the same feeling you'd probably get attending Comicon with nerds, except these were smarty pants Evanstonians. And the speaker was talking about how spring made him excited for peas and asparagus, then reflecting, "...but you know Chicago, the next day it snowed."Some of the talk was stuff he's discussed in the press, like this New Yorker article:
He mentioned that some diners cry during a meal at Alinea, brought back to their childhoods by the combinations of flavors and smells. The meal I had, Achatz reminded me, included liquefied hay in one of the soup dishes. Achatz hoped that the subtle taste would summon diners’ memories of long-ago hayrides. “This is what happens to me personally when we set oak leaves on fire—I’m transported to my youth, raking the leaves in front of my house, jumping into the leaves, and setting them on fire.” He went on, “What we try to do is really search out that kind of emotional trigger.”

In his talk last night, he explained that he liked playing with people's minds, having them in a comfortable reverie with smell, then interrupting them with a crazy texture or flavor explosion.

He signed a book for us, but there's absolutely no hope we'll be cooking from it. The pictures are pretty though!Jason and I both eat better than we cook!

Nu Shooz: I Can't Wait

Despite opening the blinds Sunday morning to see snow falling, I am resolved to look only forward towards the spring. The puffy coat will not come back this season. If it gets cold, I'll wear my light winter coat, no matter how cold. (It was only after moving to Chicago that I acquired multiple winter coats. In Philadelphia and Ohio my winter coat was just my one winter coat. Not my puffy coat, then my long winter coat, and my light winter coat...)

Friends and I have made plans for pedicures next weekend, a certain sign that warmer temps must be coming around.

And here are a few adorable shoes I'm daydreaming about playing Cinderella with...

Not sure what it says that I am drawn to these jeweled shoes, and then find myself pausing to wonder if they're something I'd also see fitting on the foot of the old ladies of West Palm.*

Tahari Prudence
Arturo Chiang Lisa
Or more humbly:
Bernardo Medieval Jute

*Then I realize that the Nu Shooz song, "I Can't Wait" has also been remade in orchestral version...which initially I kind of like, but then wonder if it also sounds like the muzak of the West Palm Senior Center cafeteria.
 

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