Sunday, November 30, 2008


Isabelle--thinking she is tucked away behind the tree and secretly napping on the forbidden couch.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Recycling Gone Wrong

So riddle me this: What's more upsetting than finding your puppy in the hallway with a fresh turd, a big stink, and a somewhat guilty look?

Why, that would be returning to the same hallway a few seconds later, TP in hand, only to find the aforementioned puppy, fast-fading stink, and the merest of faint smears where the offending doo-doo used to be. And, no, my puppy isn't bewitched. Although, the first time it happened? I have to admit I wondered.

No, the truth is something infinitely more upsetting. The truth is that my fluffy little cotton ball has taken to eating her own excrement.

That's right. Tallulah Priscilla: sh!teater.

Oh my god, ya'll, I was so KIDDING when I used to refer to her late summer diarrhea poo's as "chocolate soft serve"! Me and my smart-assed blog mouth! (Mommies: we blame ourselves for everything, don't we?)

Of course, by now I've surfed the web and become a lay expert on the subject of puppy poo eating. Turns out, the condition is not as far fetched or uncommon as one might think (even though the fastidious FurGirl wouldn't DREAM of such a sacrament). There are a few explanations for the behavior the most likely of which, by my calculations, is a) the desire to keep the accident a secret and or b) (apologies in advance) she thinks it tastes good.

I'm leaning toward "b" in Tallulah's case given that she is usually pretty unconcerned about defying me, and the fact that she is a VORACIOUS eater to say the least. She regularly devours her breakfast and dinner in under fifteen seconds. In fact, to the untrained eye, if one were to see Tallulah eating with no other information, they would likely assume her life just might depend on frantically devouring every single morsel as quickly as possible. Tallulah falls onto her food with a reckless abandon that would tend to indicate it's been 12 days rather than 12 hours since her last meal. Knowing Tallulah? Probably where we see poo-poo, she sees only slightly processed dinner, ripe for the savoring a second glorious time.

We're working on it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Great White Tree


Did it.

And we all know what that means.

Movin' on to Christmas. And for me, this means the Year of Doing Whatever The Hell I Want continues. For the passed decade plus, I've been unable to have a fake Christmas tree. And, you know? That can be nice. A real tree is pretty. It smells good.

On the other hand, it's a bitch to drag one home if you're not really in the mood. Also? They don't come pre-lit (well they do, but it is very, VERY expensive). Plus? There's that whole putting it in the tree stand drama. The figuring out the best angle. I could go on. And, in case you have to ask, I couldn't possibly have anything but a real GREEN tree because that was the Ex-Man's Proclamation #652 (refer to Thou shalt not have curtains.).

That's why 2008 is the Year of The Fake Tree. And not just a little fake, either. I mean the really, really, SUPER no doubt about it fake tree. Woo hoo--look out...

...'cause I got the great, white, glowing, artificial crazy already goin' on up in here!

But, honestly, besides crazy, isn't it sort of beautiful? I considered leaving it just naked and glowing and white, that would have been the classy thing to do. But I'm having a Big, Wacky, Christmas, and so we piled on the ornaments.

Until we reached the perfect consistency of "Holy crap is that a Christmas tree or did Santa's Village throw up in your living room?"

What can I say? I love it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tipster Tuesday: The $15 Sock (!Updated!)

[Edited to add: So, the other night? I've got on my $15 socks and I walk out onto my deck before I realize 1) it has rained muchly and 2) I'm standing in a puddle of water. And we all know what a pain it is to walk through water in socks. So, I'm all, "DAMN", and I come back in and I walk around for a bit and then...I socks aren't wet anymore?! Amazing space age technology, these socks. Just thought you'd want to know.]
Oh, alright already, I admit fifteen dollars is a lot of money for a pair of socks. I'll give you that. (As an aside: Apologies for the crappy glare-ridden photo. It wasn't happening for me today.)

But consider this: I now have three pairs of fifteen dollar socks in my sock drawer (don't do the math please) and I get near-frantic if there isn't a pair available on a daily basis. Because people? Hear me now believe me later: it's hard to accept a substitute when you've experienced the best the sock world has to offer. (Much like so many other things in life.)

Don't think a sock can make that much difference? Consider the lunch conversation I had with Monica just last Friday at a downtown restaurant:

(to Monica)

(Extending a leg and doing the slow toe circle.)
Thanks! Got 'em in Santa Fe.

Wish I had my camera I'd have to blog those babies...WOW!

Yah, well, I paid too much for them.

Doubt it. From the looks of 'em.

(still extending and toe rolling, her face radiating an obvious girl crush in the direction of her foot)
Hmmm...I don't know...

You're probably talking to the wrong person, anyway. I can't stop buying fifteen dollar socks.

Wait! Did you say fifteen dollar socks?! Because I have fifteen dollar socks!

You mean the hiking...

...socks from Hooper's!


Isn't it AWFUL!



Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Are we walking or driving?

In our defense, we did buy a pair for a mutual friend who had a birthday the next day (honest), but we couldn't walk away without a pair for ourselves. (Think of the savings in laundry costs!)

So whether your feeling decadent all by yourself or are casting about for that hard to satisfy customer on your x-mas list, please consider any style of the $15 Smartwool Hiking Sock. Because, trust me, it's hard not to smile when your feet feel that good.

[Available locally at the aforementioned Hooper's already in their new location at 219 Broadway. Also available on the web, but almost never for less than the dreaded $15.]

Sunday, November 23, 2008

For the Boys...(and possibly the girls, depending.)

The new Guitar Hero commercial featuring super model, and Project Runway host and co-creater, Heidi Klum, was all over the internet this weekend. It's a take-off on the "Risky Business" scene that featured the music of Bob Seger that Tom Cruise famously originated back in the day. And, while Tom certainly did a fine job of it, it's hard to think Heidi doesn't just flat kick its ASS about twice as hard.

I love Heidi. I love that she went right ahead and had her first child after the baby's father, her jackass boyfriend whose name we won't speak, dumped her and then she just got up and fell right on into True Love with Seal and had two more babies all the while keeping up her Project Runway shooting schedule, marching down the Victoria's Secret runway, developing her own jewelry line and just being all around fabulous. And, oh, she can sing too!

The first video is the G-Rated version, the second the Director's Cut. Three kids later? The Body shows no sign of fading.

Go ahead. Start your Monday off right, why doncha?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Singalong

I'm going to quit posting videos, I really am, because that's not really what I'm about here, but...bear with me for one more?

Because, this one is just a great way to start your day (it's how I started my day) or a the perfect excuse to take a break and have a little sing along. I ask you, who doesn't need a little John Lennon interlude? I mean...who do you think you are; a superstar? Well, right you are!

Also, a word about Yoko, who appears in this video wearing a gauze blindfold and knitting a sweater. Clearly, the thing wouldn't have worked without her (ahem). As a young person I was among the Yoko haters as in--what is she doing there? What's the matter with her? What is John thinking? She broke up the Beatles...blah, blah.

But then I grew up a little and saw "Imagine" and grew up some more and lived through a few relationships and now when I see her hanging around I'm just impressed that John cared so deeply for his wife that he wanted her there all the time. Even if she is knitting a sweater blindfolded. Maybe especially if she's knitting a sweater blindfolded. 'Cause I don't care what anybody says--that's love.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I'm sorry in advance for posting this video of a group of overwrought girls watching the finale of American Idol. But, you have to see it. (Blame Pamie.)

Watching this just makes me...tired and amused and, oh Lord, ever so glad I survived the Drama of this age to live to experience a more reasonable phase of human existence.

Finally, I'm reminded of my favorite line in The Virgin Suicides. The scene finds Cecelia, a 13-year-old girl in the hospital following a suicide attempt. It goes like this:

Doctor: What are you doing here, honey? You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets.
Cecilia: Obviously, Doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Tiny Powertale

Once upon a time there was a girl named Suzanne who really, REALLY liked girly stuff. She hosted tea parties with her stuffed animals. She twirled a baton. Later, she became a wildly enthusiastic cheerleader. As she grew older, this bent toward the girly turned into desire for a wide variety of make-ups and, especially a penchant for GOOD perfume. (She honed her nose for scent at the mall counters dousing herself with many samples leading her father to wonder, upon picking her up at said mall later that day, and catching a whiff of her ten-year-old self wafting from the back seat, if there was a “whore in the car”.)

Eventually, her girliness lead her to be attracted to shiny things. Sequins. Glitter. Precious gem stones. Tiaras. If she had been a fish? She wouldn’t have lasted long in the pond if a sparkly hook were dropped into the water.

But then one day Suzanne found herself on her own all alone with a sack of Bath and Body Works Wallflowers. A product that, while it smells REALLY good, is super hard to open (they have plastic twist-tops). And, being all alone (did I mention?), with no burly person to turn to for assistance and unable to budge the twist tops and fulfill her critical need to fill her house with the luscious scent of amber, she began casting about for a solution to the problem.

And, lo, she realized she had made off (accidentally of course) with one of the ex-man’s (many) toolboxes inside of which she found hammers and pliers and…vice-grips! Unsure of how the vice-grips worked, she nevertheless uncertainly applied them to the stubborn twist tops and…voila!

Suddenly? Through the magic of tools? Suzanne had the strength of a burly person all by herself.

And she liked it.

Soon she was pilfering through the toolbox on a regular basis. When she bought new glasses with annoying gummy price tags glued to the bottom? She scraped the offending tags off with the retractable razor blade tool thingy she found. When she painted a room? She hammered the paint can lid back on with the rubber mallet. When she needed to remove the switch plate covers? She found an oh so satisfying assortment of screwdrivers (so much more handy than a butter knife, as it turned out), one of which had a head that fit right into the screws. When she wanted to switch out her dresser pulls? Yep. The discovery of a level led to an hour of applying it to the top of every hung picture and adjusting the frame to PERFECT level…so satisfying.

Soon Suzanne was haunting the tool aisles whenever she was at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Mooning after the laser levels quickly led to…

The Power Tool Aisle.

That’s right. Dewalt. Bosch. Makita. Pretty much? Suzanne quickly calculated that a tool from any of the major lines could boost her strength to that of a couple of burly people. At very least. Best of all? Power Tools aren’t just built for burly people any more. Most every line now carries…

[insert chorus of heavenly angels]

…Tiny. Power. Tools.

Cordless and mighty, but small enough to comfortably right into the palm of her very own hand, Suzanne, the girly-girl, soon began to contemplate the possibilities inherent in owning her own Tiny Power Tool. Specifically, her affections were quickly drawn to the cutest Tiny Power Tool of all, the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver, baby. As soon as she hefted the tiny snub-nosed floor sample from its holder and the James Bond theme song quickly unspooled in its entirety in her head, she knew it was Meant to Be.

She needed a Tool. A Power Tool.

She pressed the power button and the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver sprang to life in her hand, its super-efficient motor winding up instantly….zzzzzzzzzzzzing!…it sang.

She let off the power, spun around and, lightening quick, pointed the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver at a little old lady far down the aisle obliviously contemplating the cabinet hardware. Suzanne pulled the trigger again… zzzzzzzzzzzzing!… the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver instantly responded.

Why she could have a switch plate off the wall in under five seconds! With the addition of one of those mixer blade thingys, she could have a can of paint stirred quicker than you could say, ‘Maybelline Great Lash’ (if you still used MGL, which of course, Suzanne does not). Why she could…she could…install curtain rods at every window…IN A SINGLE DAY.

“May I help you,” the voice of the Lowe’s guy startled her.

“Um…yes, how much is this?” Suzanne held up the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver.

Over a hundred clams, as it turned out. More than her budget could stand at the moment thanks to her most recent binge at the Lancome counter. Reluctantly, Suzanne replaced the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver in it’s holster…um…or holder, rather.

Turns out, the cost didn’t stop her from visiting.

It was one day in the power tool department a few weeks later, in fact, that she was visiting the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver and having an especially satisfying Travis Bickle moment:

“You tawkin’ ta me?”


“Hey! You takwkin’ ta…me?!”


(By this time the Lowe’s sales people were leaving Suzanne alone).

Suddenly, Suzanne’s cell phone rang.



Hello? (zzzzzzzzzzzzing!)

What's that noise?

You mean this noise? (zzzzzzzzzzzzing!)

Yah. THAT noise.

Why...(zzzzzzzzzzzzing!)...that would be the the Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver.

YOU have a Bosch 10.8 Volt Litheon I-Driver?

Nope. But I visit one (zzzzzzzzzzzzing!)

You visit one?

(zzzzzzzzzzzzing!) Yep. At Lowe's.

God help us all.


And so it happened that a week or so after that, the Fed Ex guy turned up on Suzanne's doorstep bearing a Very Special Package.

That's right, people.

Fear me. I have a Power Tool.
But not just a Power Tool.
A Power Tool, and? New Highlights....



Monday, November 17, 2008

Would you forgive a Monday quote (a good one)?

These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time. [This, friends, is the essence of Transcendentalism]

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wondering what to do...

...when your annoying, sh!t-eating (literally, but that's another post) younger puppy sister gets a nice, fluffy new dog bed?

That's right, nestle your over-sized hiney in it. For added effect? Casually rest right paw on expensive Fortuny -covered pillow to make yourself the very picture of "eff-you".

Ahhh. Now! Doesn't that feel better?

(I'm pretty sure she feels better.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

So, tell us what you REALLY think...

Lately, I'm doing that thing I do. That, “Look over there!” thing I do when I don’t really want to write about me in this space. It’s what I do when I’m not feeling like the chirpy, plucky person that usually writes my blog entries. Don’t get me wrong, that person is me, the perky know-it-all lives. (Just ask all the people she annoys.) But she’s far from the full picture, of course.

And I’m not feeling her right now.

It’s been rainy and overcast too long for my taste. It’s true that I am awed by the foliage, but the darkness and cold that come along with it hover at the edge of my consciousness.

Is everything really okay?

I’m thrilled about the election results, but fancy Barak Obama is losing weight. Good lord, who wouldn’t?

Um, yah, no pressure? But can you fix the world please? We’ll just be right over here second guessing your every move while you give it a shot, okay?

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but he seems a little more fragile now. I sort of think someone should stand in front of Obama (like me but way cuter) for a time, and have a little pre-talk with the world and the media before a speech. Something like, “Now listen here! Barak has been through a tough, hard fought election and his Grandma just died. Cut him some slack, okay?” Understand, I’m not suggesting that Obama’s not up to the job, it’s just…damn. I worry.

It must take a superhuman amount of spit to stand up to the scrutiny of the world and the pack of bloodthirsty jackals that pass for the press. It must be unbelievable pressure to bear up under a modern US presidential election.

There can only be one thing more difficult. And that would be dealing with that kind of sustained pressure for four years. As a United States President right about now.

I can’t stop myself from personalizing these things. When Bill Clinton was president and the whole unending Lewinsky “scandal” was droning on? Back when were treated to details that we neither wanted or needed to know, and then further exposed to the unending blubbering of the pundits, critics, and a stream of indignant school principals and PTA presidents,[to be read with an extreme southern accent] “But what are we supposed to tell the children?” (As if children had, up to then, been immune to the unpleasantries of life---nice fairytale).

Back when all that was going on and on (and on), I remember at the end of so many “newscasts” there would be a little PS, almost an afterthought, when announcer would toss off something like, “Mr. Clinton continues to work to broker a peace on the middle east…”

Back then, I couldn’t help but think—what must it be like for Bill Clinton when the alarm goes off in the morning? What must be in his head when he opens his eyes and faces the absolute circus of another day on the job? How hard has it got to be to roll out and get in the shower and focus, at all, while the entire world scrutinizes the Technicolor details of an ill-advised sexual dalliance and a rabid special investigator with unlimited funds and power works desperately to oust you from office? Aside from the professional ramifications, there is also the super-fun personal dimension of your wife thinking (if only temporarily) that you need to be drawn and quartered. A couple of times. And then, oh yes! The middle east! And the rest of the country!

How did he do it (I always wonder)? How did Clinton just…keep on?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to suggest that Clinton weathered the most difficult presidential challenges, because no doubt, he did not. One only need visit the fun-filled worlds of good ol’ Abe Lincoln or LBJ—both of whom ended up dead—(granted LBJ lived longer, but even Lady Bird will tell you, the job killed the man) as direct results of their (almost totally) miserable pressure-cooker experiences.

No, what I mean to suggest is that in the modern age, in a post-9/11 world, with the incredible political challenges (the war, the economy) that are inherent and now with the added dimension of an out-of-control 24/7 press and a no-holds-barred mentality on the part of a great percentage of the American public, there just seems to be no refuge or respite for the man with the job. And Barak Obama, unlike Bill Clinton, is facing a challenge of Orwellian proportions.

It seems to me there is only one way Barak Obama can succeed. And that is absolutely, positively not by himself. It is going to take more than just one man and way more than just one party to turn this juggernaut around. It’s going to take some people saying, “You know? I didn’t vote for this guy, but I’m going to get on the team.” It’s going to take acceptance and tolerance and work and understanding and work and innovation and work and then it’s still going to take some luck.

And maybe? If all that important crap that’s teetering and all those people with their toes on the edge-- arms wind milling frantically--and all those issues drifting unheeded on the wind like a Forrest Gump feather, if all that stuff just happens to fall in the right direction?

Maybe we’ll have a chance.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gliding along...

I never thought I'd see the day when one could lace up a pair of skates and practice their double toe loop in our little town, but it's finally happened. Last night a soft opening of the downtown Paducah Ice Skating rink was held complete with creamy hot chocolate, frosty blue cupcakes, and freshly elected city officials.

Desperate to provide you enquiring minds with photographic evidence (as if the local news media wasn't all over it), and lacking my own camera, I prevailed upon a friend for a snapshot. Instead, I got The Photograph you see above. Enjoy more of his work here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Joy of Intersecting Obsessions

I'm going to stop writing about Michelle Obama and what she's wearing and what she might wear because that's a whole 'nother blog, but not today.

And that's because today you need to know The Daily Beast has posted a fun little piece that challenged past Project Runway designers to mock up an inaugural frock for Michelle Obama or Cindy McCain (at the time of the challenge the election hadn't happened). The catch? They were only allowed to use Laura Bush’s 2005 Inaugural Ball dress, to be chopped up and re purposed, à la Pretty in Pink, an American flag, burlap sacks, and $10 worth of trims of their choosing. My personal favorite is the Malan Breton with Leeann Marshall running a close second.

How much do I love a design challenge of any kind? A lot.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Suzanne is soooo NOT at Facebook

Just a little post to let you know I'm absolutely, positively, definitely not on Facebook.

Because I really don't have time for that particular brand of "stuff and nonsense" (Marilla Cuthbert). Poking people. Ghost throwing. Random photo posting. Writing on walls and such...really! It's immature and a waste of God-given time and talent. Why, when I was a kid we used our free time wisely! Embroidering pillow cases with our initials and watching our mood rings change color. Good clean fun. And anyway, I wouldn't dream of updating friends every few hours on the minutia of my life. Heavens, NO!

Vanity, thy name is Facebook. Also? Get thee behind me Facebook.

In conclusion, I encourage you NOT to go to Facebook and add me as a friend so I can even begin to think of competing with Christa's staggering one hundred and twenty one person friend count (whatEVER).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Watching Mrs. O

A little site in for a big future is Mrs. O, a blog dedicated to the now intensely important business of keeping tabs on what and who Michelle Obama is wearing. While Mrs. O's election night style prediction, a Maria Pinto, didn't materialize, they at least got the color right. We'll see if they do any better calling the inaugural gown.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Translating Nighthawks

Now that I've been living back in my new/old space for approaching a year (I swear, time flies when you're having fun), I've decided the time has come to start with some redesign projects.

Since settling in, I'm especially starting to rethink wall color.

At heart, I'm a post modern/contemporary/mid-century sort of girl. Since fulfilling my life long desire for a bright red room, most recently, in my last space--I'd link to the posts in this blog that chronicled the painstaking painting of my erstwhile family room bright "Daredevil" red, but I'm at the moment too lazy to look them up. Anyway, having fulfilled that particular paint dream, I'm now leaning toward greens, browns, and grays. Neutrals, basically. As far as the walls go.

My whole space here, every single room, is painted a light buttery yellow. It's a very nice color, and actually works with everything, but it's been this way for a while now and I'm ready for a change.

I'm spending more and more time in my home office these days and this, I decide, will be my starting point. There's not a whole lot of stuff in that space at the moment, unless you count my SUPER cluttered desk, well, table actually, and a couple of two-shelf bookcases. Still, one thing does dominate the space.

And that is my Nighthawks print.

I figure there are way worse choices for color inspiration than the work of Edward Hopper. I don't know, I just feel like maybe he has it all figured out. So, I've decided to use the print as my starting point. It's true that there is a substantial range of yellow hues represented--both butters and saffrons--in the work, but I will focus on the greens and reds. The bottle greens and sages coupled with the shades of cinnamon and brick. Luscious and spicy. Rich and comforting. Yum. And maybe sprinkle in a few yellows.

According to my color/mood research, green is the color most often linked psychologically with creativity, and for this reason, I will choose this hue for the walls. Being the anal/retentive over-thinking creature that I am, I've spent a criminal amount of time at the Behr website perusing their huge catalog of color choices and in person at Home Depot doing the same.

The choice? After way too much dithering: Laurel Mist.

Behr has done a great job of locking down photographs of their colors. Pictured above is the paint chip. Laurel Mist is the most saturated color at the bottom. I consider it a gray/green. It has a sort of a dull velvety quality. Very rich. But still sort of a neutral. It doesn't scream HOLY SH!T GREEN! More like ahhh....greeeeeen. In dark light, it could easily read gray, I think.

Still. I am taking no chances. I want nothing less than the perfect shade of velvety neutral green(ish gray). I've had a few paint disasters and there is nothing worse. So I purchased a tiny can of Laurel Mist and a few tiny paint supplies with which to paint a test patch on the office wall.

Can't sneak it passed you, can I?

That's right. More tiny, baby. It's still there! The rogue fascination with The Tiny! What? Like I'm gonna walk away from a selection of tiny paint brushes and tiny rollers? Me? Sorta doubt it. Check it:

How cute is all that tiny stuff? Tiny roller! Tiny paint brush! Tiny paint can! Doncha just wanna pinch it's itsy widdle cheeks?

Okay, back to business. Here's the yellow wall before:

And here it is after the (okay, sort of large) test patch:

LOVE it! Love. Love, completely. Yes. And you? Yes?

And so it was on to what is, by far, the most exciting portion of the project. You aren't going to believe it when I tell you. I bought...CURTAINS! Wee!

Now, I suppose I sound a little over-excited about purchasing curtains. But, understand. I haven't bought curtains in THIRTEEN YEARS, people. That's right. The Ex-Man was totally opposed to curtains. Curtains were Big No-No. Curtains? Bad. Blinds? Good. I don't know why. It's just one of the many preconceived deeply held notions that I had to live with. Not that I don't have any of my own. It's just that all of mine? Make sense. But when co-habitating with, um, you-know-who himself? You pick your battles. Suffice it to say curtains just weren't one of those things I was ready to don my chain mail, grab my mace, and face-off at the Coliseum over. No, I saved those encounters for the big issues like, oh, I don't know, let's see...THROW AWAY YOUR JUNK MAIL BEFORE I CHOKE THE LIFE OUT OF YOU!

Okay, deep Ah. Better.

But now....NOW? It's, bada boom-bada bing...CURTAIN TIME! That's right! Can't touch this! Bring on the fabric panel window coverings!

Now, understand me, I'm not a huge fan of elaborate, formal, foofy, over-styled curtains at every window. Not hardly. Far from it, in fact. It's just that NEVER any curtains? For 13 years? Is a reeeally long time to go without something fluttering in the breeze by your window panes.

So...behold. My first curtain purchase in over a decade:

What's not to like about those? I ask you? Who among us can resist the lure of the rich spicy color? Certainly not me. Also, tab tops! Woo!

(To Be Continued...)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wall Design

I'm a little hesitant to pass along a link to Wall Design, a French company that specializes in wall decals. I hesitate because the site, with its interactive tool that allows one to create their own wall graphic(s) from an endless array of sophisticated styles in a bewildering assortment of colors (not to mention letters, god help us), means over-thinkers such as me can spend. Well. Let's just say. Hours. Mocking up the possibilities.

If you have a specific space in mind for your design, and convert the length and width of said space from feet to meters, you can enter these dimensions into the visualizer and tailor your cyber design to the EXACT specifications you need (under the "Model Your Wall" feature). Wall Design drops your graphics into a shopping cart as you work and once you adjust the decal(s) to the exact design and color of your liking, simply convert euros to dollars and head to the check-out. Although, if you're anything like me? This could take years.

I'm heavy in the design mode right now because I'm knee deep in remodeling my home office. Expect a post chronicling this process soon. When I tell you it took upwards of two weeks for me to select a paint color, you may come closer to understanding why wall graphics could well drive me 'round the bend.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Saying "yes" to The Dress

Okay, so the election is over, the right guy got elected, and thank God, nobody is disputing the vote count. I think I've waited long enough to move on to my next subject:

Just what do I think about Michelle Obama's election night dress?

You'll have to give me a little credit, here, for having waited a decent interval to weigh in on the subject. The blogosphere, ever shallow, has been abuzz about the Narciso Rodriguez original (from his Spring '09 collection) ever since Obama appeared in it Tuesday night. Michelle paired the dress with a cardigan, kitten heels, and, obviously, a dark slip to tone down the lacy bottom.

According to a poll posted on fashion critic Elizabeth Snead's LA Times blog, the general consensus on the dress is about half-and-half. About as many voters like it as don't. Snead, herself, thinks the ensemble looked like a "Halloween costume".

Harsh words indeed.

Personally, I was wowed by the look. I thought the dress was figure flattering and bold and a great relief from the same-old same-old suit that, these days, not only candidates have to endure, but often the spouses of candidates feel compelled to choose. Obama really made this look work, I thought, though at 5' 10" tall, she can, admittedly, pull off frocks many of us vertically challenged types cannot. Overall, the look was pulled together, flattering, arresting and, apparently a bold choice though I wouldn't have thought so when I saw it Tuesday. My impression at that point was just, wow, she looks great (and at ease).

In any case, this is good news for the US fashion industry, no matter your personal opinion of the Mrs. Obama's style. Michelle Obama is definitely not going to be a fashion snooze-fest like Laura Bush, and this will, happily, also give us armchair Mr. Blackwells something to talk about.

Form your own opinion, if you haven't already, by scrolling through a selection of Michelle Obama's recent looks compiled by the LA Times. (I think she's spot-on except for that white suit which is a little shapeless.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Weak with Relief

Finally! Change is coming. And not a minute too soon. I am thrilled for what this will mean for the country internally and not a little thrilled about the message we're sending throughout the world with this choice: See? We're not as stupid as you thought. (But just barely. The closeness of the popular vote is beyond my comprehension.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Taking the Big Girl Pill

My love affair with the Style Network show, Clean House, is years long and shows no sign of waning.

Now in its sixth season, Clean House follows the same basic format each and every show. First the four-person style crew is taken on a tour of different a poor, clueless, clutter-challenged family's home. There is much mugging and wailing on the part of the Clean House Crew about the state of the living space which is usually littered and dirty enough to make a normal normal life impossible. Let me rephrase: QUITE impossible.

Once through the tour, Clean House host Niecy Nash holds an intimate one-on-one interview with the clutter culprits (just Niecy, the homeowners, and the rest of America) to try and get to the bottom of their inability to clean the house. Amazingly, "I'm a lazy slob" is never among the reasons stated although, near as I can figure, all the clutter victims seem perfectly capable of cleaning and organizing should they choose to do so. No, what usually comes out for a reason is some personal loss, or traumatic relationship incident, or some other non-excuse. And while, "My boyfriend done me wrong," is definitely a bummer and certainly cause for grief, it doesn't qualify as a good reason for a three-foot pile of dirty underwear in your living room.

'Cause that's just nasty. (I'm reminded here of the Wanda Sykes rant about the infamous Lewinsky dress.)

Anyhow, not the least of the show's attraction, for me at least, is the aforementioned colorful host, Niecy Nash. Unapologetically buxom, most always appearing with her trademark flower in her hair, and chock full of perk and sass, Nash has honed the talent of leading clueless clutter culprits toward the light of clean and neat to an art form.
Nash's irresistible catch-phrases when dealing with the CCC's du jour include (but are not limited to), "Lead me to your foolishness!" ("foolishness" in this case translates to "heinous, embarrassing mess"), and "We're going to walk in the truth", and "It's time to take a Big Girl pill", and her penchant for clenching her hands into fists, closing her eyes, and emitting a frustrated, ear-piercing wail over the horror--as she's fond of intoning--"of it all", never fails to keep me coming back for more.

Nash is certainly sympathetic to the CCC's, but she brooks no flimsy excuses and doesn't hesitate to point out, when faced (as she frequently is) with a mother claiming to be too overwhelmed with the rigors of child rearing to scour the tub, the she, herself, is the mother of three. And, according to the Gospel of Niecy, motherhood, in and of itself, does not excuse one from tending to the messy details of life.

While the above explanation is sort of entertaining, as I read it over, it still doesn't fully illuminate the lure of Niecy Nash. Fortunately, the NPR interview I'm posting below does a much better job. Turns out, like most charismatic characters, there's more to Nash than meets the eye. A single mother who has been known to take her children along when auditioning, a woman who lost a much-loved brother to violent crime, and, as a girl, witnessed the shooting of her mother (who, fortunately, survived), Nash is another among us who has been purified by the fires of life and chooses to morph into a phoenix as apposed to contenting herself just remaining a regular old pile of ashes.

I love how Niecy keeps the bemused interviewer here in a near-constant state of just being plain flummoxed. You can tell he doesn't know whether to be afraid or ask her out. But that he's leaning toward the latter.

As for myself, I can't shake the notion that my life would somehow be vastly improved if Niecy Nash were to come over, hold my hand, gaze into my eyes intensely, and intone, "It's time to take a Big Girl pill."

Trouble is? My house isn't nearly messy enough.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

My Pad Thai

I love to cook (when I'm in the mood) and I've discussed few recipes as much as my Pad Thai. It is definitely a go-to dish of mine; I don't think anyone has ever had it that didn't really seem to like it. Or, rather, people really like it when it turns out. I have screwed up a couple of batches, one rather spectacularly because, with a house full of people, I was trying to talk and cook all at the same time.

Upon reflection, I realize the first Pad Thai I ever tasted was my own. The recipe came to me via The Splendid Table at NPR. I used to be on the mailing list and receive a recipe a week. When Pad Thai hit my in-box, despite never having tasted it, just reading the recipe made my mouth water. I set about cooking my first batch only a day or so later. A search of the Splendid Table site just now didn't turn up that original recipe and, while I may have it on a jump drive somewhere, it would take considerably more effort to locate it than I am willing to devote to the search.

I know that my first attempts at the dish suffered mightily from my lack of understanding of how to deal with the rice noodles. I think I may have actually boiled my first batch. Oy. Do not make this mistake. Thai noodles are meant to be stir fried to doneness. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, you'll need a pound of rice noodles. I throw mine in my pretty serving bowl, run water over them, and leave them to soak for one hour:

Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients:

Marinate a pound of peeled, deveined, raw shrimp or a pound of chopped boneless chicken breasts in a mix of: Olive oil (about half a cup), hot pepper flakes (amount depending on how hot you like it--I like it pretty hot), a few splashes of soy sauce, a squeeze of (fresh) lime juice, a tsp of red curry paste and a dash of salt. If you're missing one of these ingredients--eh--don't sweat it. Whisk everything together and throw in the meat. Most recipes don't call for the marinade. I just find plain meat needs a little more umph in most dishes and this one is no exception. Use what you have on hand.

Chop a lime into wedges for juicing on to the finished dish.

Scramble two eggs.

Chop a bunch of fresh cilantro.

Open a bag of bean sprouts.

Chop one bunch scallions.

Chop a large handful of cashews (most, recipes call for peanuts. the cashews deepen the flavor noticeably).

Have on hand a metal slotted spoon.

A cup of water.

Two envelopes sauce poured into a measuring cup (I discuss the particulars below).

Always use a wooden spoon with a long handle for your stir-frying utensil

Once your noodles have soaked for an hour, drain and set near the stove.

It is important that you have ALL ingredients on hand before you start. The cooking process is quick: less than 10 minutes. You'll not have time to gallop around and chop or locate stuff once you get started.

You're ready to begin. You'll need a large wok. Most importantly: put your wok on the stove and turn the burner to HIGH. Add a quarter cup of oil (I use olive) and let it heat up. Put away your dogs and your kids and forget that you're in Western Kentucky (if you are), home of cooked-to-death food. Wok cooking is all about QUICK and HOT and DANGEROUS. You should never, repeat, never wok cook with the burner on anything but the highest setting. No kidding.

Once the oil is hot, pour in the egg and stir cook until done. Less than a minute.

Next, add in the shrimp and stir-fry. It will only take two minutes or so to cook the shrimp to doneness. When the shrimp is opaque, remove it from the wok with the metal spoon and set aside. Some, if not all, of the egg will come with. This is okay. It took me a while to catch on to this removing step. Most recipes don't call for it, but if you leave delicate shrimp throughout the stir-fry it will get overdone and rubbery. It's worth the trouble to remove it.

Add another quarter cup of oil and then the noodles.

Stir-fry away. You'll need to put some muscle into the stirring here. This is the longest process of the whole deal and it can take 5-7 minutes. Like regular noodles, you want the noodles done but not done to death. Stir vigorously, add more oil if necessary. If, after 2-3 minutes, the noodles aren't coming along (tell by taste), throw in a half cup of water. It will sizzle madly (and satisfyingly) and provide some steam and speed up the process a little. Keep stirring. You'll have to taste the noodles several times in order to know they've reached the right consistency: al dente. Sometimes you'll throw in more water. Don't leave it to chance. Taste. Know for sure.

Once the noodles are there, add in the scallions, half the cashews, and two envelopes of sauce. Oh...did I not discuss sauce?

Sorry. Yah. I cheat the sauce. I wouldn't tell just anybody this, but it's just us, right? I buy the stuff, literally, by the case from the Amazon Grocery. If you're a purist, you can make your own, but you'll have to chase down some palm sugar and tamarind. And fish sauce (which I have, but I've been at this a while).

Two envelopes is good for a large batch like this.

Okay, back to the cooking, pour in the sauce, scallions, half the cashews. Stir fry until combined and then add the shrimp back in, stir fry until combined. (this all takes about a minute).

Add in the bean sprouts. Stir fry just until the bean sprouts are combined and cooked a little, you want them to retain their crunch.

Okay...DONE! The finished dish looks like this in the wok:

Pour into your large serving bowl, sprinkle the cilantro and remaining cashews on top. Serve with soy sauce and lime wedges on the side.

Serious deliciousness.

Since I started cooking this dish myself, I've had a chance to order it in at least three restaurants. It tasted entirely, wildly different at all three places and none even approached as delicious as home made.

Once dished up, finish by juicing a lime section over your portion, followed by a few splashes of soy sauce. The recipe I've given you here will easily feed four with some left over. Save it, the stuff is even better the next day after a quick heating in the microwave.