Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shake it up

So we went home for the long Thanksgiving weekend to spend it with my family. It ended up being unusually stressful, and the upshot is, we will be spending Christmas with Matt's family this year (it was his turn anyways). This is a very brief version of what is really an excessively long and drama-filled weekend. I am over the family drama for a while. I love my sisters a lot but we just didn't have fun with them this time. We're going to go down for New Year's and spend that with my parents and my grandmother, but major holidays with ALL the family and ALL the kids and dogs are just a little bit overwhelming right now.

I have never spent a Christmas away from my family before. I can do this. But what I can't quite deal with is, my mom always decorated like crazy every year, so even when I was living on my own in the past, we never decorated and we never had a tree, we just went there and it was always all festive. That is SO going to change this year. I don't want to spend Christmas somewhere if it isn't Christmasy. I was using our holiday party as an excuse to decorate a little bit, but now I am not kidding around.

The current goal is to not spend exorbitant amounts of money on holiday decor. But I need lights, and a tree stand, and a wreath, and a star, and more ornaments (I have a tiny stash accumulating so this is a less desperate need). And by need, I mean really really want. I want my house to feel like Christmas if I'm not going to go somewhere else this year.

So next weekend, we get us a tree. After that, we shall see. The holiday party is in two weeks, and I am wild-guessing that we will have at least 25-30 people here for that. Pictures will ensue, if I get this stuff all going like I want to...

Monday, November 24, 2008

public service announcement

So my sister was talking up this documentary her friend helped make. My parents went to SF to see it and raved about it. I wasn't around at the time so I didn't see it.

It was on PBS tonight. It was one of the most fascinating documentaries I have ever seen. It is called The Rape of Europa and documents the theft and recovery of a massive amount of Europe's great art during World War II. Hitler was a frustrated artist, and spent huge amounts of time and money "collecting" art in all forms. It became de rigeur for his underlings to collect art as well so people like Hermman Goering also ended up having massive collections of priceless art of all genres and media. Thousands of people hid art treasures or walled them up to hide them from the Nazis. The Louvre was evacuated by common people who just wanted to save the treasures of their country. They have an interview with a lady whose parents were curators and got assigned to evacuate and protect the Mona Lisa. She lived with the Mona Lisa. Normal people all over Europe were risking their lives to hide these things. There were people who bricked walls around Michelangelo's David to protect it from bombs. There was a whole section of the US military devoted to protecting these treasures during WWII, and recovering the lost art and restoring it to its rightful places/owners after the war, The Monuments Men. It was uplifting, just to see the extents that people went to during such horrible times to protect these national treasures of art.

So all I have to say is, watch it if you can. PBS premiered it tonight and hopefully they will show it again.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A random list

I went to an operetta tonight. Thus, an excuse for dressing up, and a good outfit to boot! I usually feel sheepish dressing up, as I roll with a crowd that will ask me why I am so dressed up if I wear anything other than jeans. Tonight, I didn't care. I dressed up for Gilbert and Sullivan, dammit. And I bet they appreciated it.

So I have this adorable black wrap dress with a strange cream dot pattern-y thing going on. I never wear it because it is adorable due to it being the perfect cut for my body, and that is not a warm one. However, tonight I found that my one nice v-neck sweater (teal) looks really good with it, as do my favorite gray ribbed tights. That, my friends, is a lot of look for me. No jeans or anything. With red lips and new awesome dangly earrings. Adventurous, one might even call it. For me, at least.

The verdict:

I LOVE dressing up. I need more excuses to do it.

Thus, a random list of reasons and/or excuses to dress up:

for attending ANY musical event, of any caliber above, say, middle school level.

because my legs look about 8 miles long in gray ribbed tights.

for any performance I am personally in, because just because most of my band is retirees doesn't mean I have to dress like them (long story), AND because I am a part of the unsung minority of female tuba players and I'll be damned if I took up the tuba just to be ignored!

because I like the positive attention I get for making an effort. It's not just male attention, making the effort makes me feel positive about myself so I am more outgoing and it means I have a good time.

because the weather is good. Or bad. I can look sartorially splendid in a serious wool coat and dramatic scarf on a wet day. I can look good in a dramatic scarf ANY day. I am a scarf person and I need to share this with the world.

because I need to get out of the rut of feeling self-conscious just for dressing nice, nobody is making me wear a skirt instead of baggy cargo pants but they shouldn't care if I do.

for long walks by the river (yes, I live by the river, and it makes me feel like I should own a dog just so I could walk it there. Instead, I would like to dress picturesquely while strolling among the fallen leaves).

because it is totally not frivolous to feel that I am presenting myself positively and my appearance is part of that.

because my friends are mostly male and while it is good to be one of the guys, it doesn't have to mean I dress like one of the guys. I am not a guy. REALLY. I spent too many years in my childhood with bad haircuts being mistaken for a boy. I am over that. Not, as in, I have recovered, because I haven't. I am OVER it as in I am ready for it to not happen ever again.

because it is a little bit silly for me to read so many fashion blogs and not put a little bit of their advice into practice/because if such erudite and well-written ladies can be stylish while they do it, so can I! obligatory link to one of my current fave cosmopolitan (not like the magazine) and mildly fashion-y blogs here. There are so many smart and well-written blogs by fashionable women out there that I have no reason to feel silly for dressing up/taking some time over my appearance (also the list idea was from there too).

because all these silly prohibitions aren't being put on me by others. They are mine. And I don't want them. I walk out the door in a red skirt thinking, "is this too loud?" and people walking by will think, if anything, "that girl is wearing a red skirt". Not, "how dare she wear that skirt with those thighs!" And if they do, why do I care? I don't need a little Trinny or Susannah sitting in my head telling me what not to wear.

AND I need more reasons/excuses. Anyone? Anyone?


Friday, November 21, 2008

Help! I need advice, or possibly just proofreaders.

If you were reading a newsletter from your local co-op (this presumes you to be probably a hippie and possibly vegetarian, or vegan), would this be a recipe you would consider? I am wondering if I overdid it with all of the asides but I think they're useful instructions, I might just need to rephrase them a little.

Vegetarian Stuffed Winter Squash

I did this with a big yellow squash, I have also tried it with smaller squash like acorn squash and you could probably do two smaller squash with this amount of stuffing.

1 large squash
4 slices interesting bread (I used the garden wheat from House of Bread and got rave reviews, it does have small slices though, if your loaf is bigger cut down on the bread)
1 sm. handful sage leaves (8-10 leaves, torn up)
1 c. shredded hard cheese (I have used parmesan and, in a pinch, provolone)
½ c. pine nuts (toasted, if you like)
1 sm. jar artichoke hearts
2 c. sliced mushrooms
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
Salt, pepper and spices to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half with a very big knife (this is the hardest part of the recipe, I promise), or in quarters if it is really big. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds like you’re going to carve a pumpkin. Drizzle with oil and stick in the oven (cut side down) on an oiled sheet pan for ½ hour or until it starts to get soft and a little brown around the edges.

Sautee the mushrooms with the garlic and onion in a drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste, this is where I add a dash of Italian spices as well.

Slice the artichoke hearts so they are less chunky.

In a clean bowl, whisk the two eggs together with a fork.

In a food processor, pulse the bread one slice at a time until crumbly. Add the sage leaves and shredded cheese so they get well incorporated. Don’t pulse the bread too much, you don’t want it to be totally breadcrumbs, just good and chunky. Pour into a large bowl. Mix in the cooked mushrooms, the toasted pine nuts and the sliced artichoke hearts until incorporated. Then drizzle the egg over the top and mix it in until everything is well coated and sticky. One last dash of salt and pepper and you’re ready to go!

Remove the squash from the oven and invert on the same sheet pan. Use a spoon to pack it with the stuffing mixture (don’t worry if a little bit spills, that just means it gets a little extra crispy). Return to oven and bake another 15-20 minutes until the stuffing starts to get golden brown.

Serve warm. A spoon is useful for getting out all the nice soft juicy squash innards, they go well with the slightly crispy stuffing.

I will attempt to include a suitably mouth-watering picture, but I thought it would be nice because most of the ingredients are available at the co-op (except the bread I mention is from a local bakery). Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, November 14, 2008

WT? Or not.

So as much as I like tagging along and doing questionnaires and being a part of the group, I am realizing that maybe my wardrobe doesn't need a ton of therapy at the moment. I get motivated to make piles and sort things and realize, I just did that pretty recently, and the stuff that's waiting to get replaced is just going to stay waiting while I suck it up and wear what I've got for a while. I like shopping. A lot. And this is just another excuse to shop. My wardrobe is not in bad shape, it's just a little dull. I've got a relatively clean closet and a pared-down list of what I am looking for in the long run. So I am going to be a bum and bow out on this one.

Although, I have to say, I did find a nice big problem-solver:

I wore this to my crazy vegan dinner and got so many compliments that I didn't sweat the entire rest of my outfit. Clearly big honking jewelry is the way to go for me. The new problem is, I went back and she posted another one. And I love it too. Darnit.

Monday, November 10, 2008


So I have to say, I really love cooking. My entire family thinks I'm weird. I like being able to put out a nice spread on a big table and impress a bunch of people who don't have any interest in being domestic (a good chunk of my relatives seem surprised that I use the oven EVER, let alone on a weekly basis). I like being a host and having my house full of people having a good time with good food. SO I basically decided I didn't want to do anything productive this Sunday so I invited the (local) family over for Sunday turkey dinner. This involved at least 4 trips to the store to make:

1 bowl of Italian bean dip for appetizers (WAY more awesome than it sounds)
1 not-too-big turkey
1 dish "stuffing" with mushrooms, pine nuts and artichoke hearts
1 spinach and red bell pepper salad with candied walnuts (easy to make!) and gorgonzola
1 dish roasted yams (savory, no marshmallows or syrup, garlic and sage instead)

Relatives brought mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, apple-rhubarb crumble, and ice cream. And a pair of two-year-olds who chased each other in circles around the living room during the entire meal. It was awesome. AND, unlike Thanksgiving, I have leftovers. I am going to try and make some stock out of the turkey carcass, we'll see how that goes. And possibly turkey enchiladas. There were 8 adults, and I have decided that is the maximum reasonable dinner party size for my house.

I am also still pondering my theoretical kitchen renovation, because if we ever really want to do it, now is a good time - I am still flexible at work and it is way easier to get people to work since the construction industry has slowed down so much. I am just debating because I REALLY want to rip out the stupid breakfast bar. People say "Oh, you'll lose all that counter/storage space" but it will really open up the flow of the house. The bar sticks out to about two feet from the oven so whenever people are over they are ALWAYS standing at the end of the bar when I need to get in the oven. And the area at the opposite end of the bar - against the wall, becomes a no-man's land of crappy storage. Stuff gets stuck there but it isn't useful and it's hard to reach. That would become usable working space, and there would be a cabinet under it so that would be equivalent to about 2/3 of the storage that I would be losing under the bar area. AND there wouldn't always be giant barstools in the way whenever you're walking by the dining room table.

Oh, and that. We would eat at the table, instead of the bar. I HATE eating at the bar. I want to sit down and be out of the cooking area and be able to eat like a grown up, dammit. A girl can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

WT Week 1 (part 2)


1. Who is your candidate for "best dressed," real or fictional?

Today? As per the link below(also where I swiped the picture from), Michelle Obama. Striking but always occasion-appropriate, and half of the time it's J Crew. Mostly I just love J Crew. And how she looks so pulled together even when she is dressed casually. Really, I don't have a lot of style icons because I am just not up on that stuff.

2. Is there anyone you're tempted to see as a style icon, but you'd never dare dress that way?
Cate Blanchett. She dresses totally insanely from what I have seen, but she rocks it so hard it's difficult for me not to admire her and want to dress like her. Just, you know, not insane.
3. What is your favorite garment/outfit ever?
I got the softest black zip cardigan from Banana last winter - it was part cashmere so it was super soft and nice and long so I didn't get a draft at the top of my pants. Sadly, it wore terribly and pilled like crazy. It didn't make it a year, I finally put it in the donate pile after the third time I had to mend the elbows.
4. What is your current favorite garment?
My flare-leg corduroys. I am a big girl, I look good in flares. I don't care if they're not On Trend. I was desperate and actually paid full price for two pairs (grr) and still love them both anyways.
5. What would you wear if you could wear absolutely anything?

That damn falling-apart black sweater from Banana. SO SOFT. Or my gorgeous black cocktail dress that makes me look like Audrey Hepburn. Not a lot of stuff makes me look petite and gamine. This dress is magic. Too bad I have no reason to wear it until maybe New Year's Eve.
6. What would your favorite store be, if money were no object?
Probably similar to where I shop now, just not the sale section. Say, Banana, J Crew and Boden.
7. Do you have a favorite store now?
Gap/Banana sale rack/J Crew sale rack. J crew has the softest tee shirts (sorry, AA, your service is too crappy) and Banana has the best cut of pants for my heinie. Gap fills in everything else.
8. What's your best fashion faux-pas story, now that the scars have healed?
Let me think about this one. Clothes just haven't been that important in my life so I don't have any biggies.

How You Live & the People Around You

1. If there were a uniform for where you spend most of your time, what would it be?

Jeans, fleece and a tee shirt. And cute sneakers. No nice clothes at work, you don't want to get acid on them.
2. If there were a uniform for where you spend your leisure, what would it be?
Cords, a sweater and a scarf. And cute sneakers. I'm so not a heels girl. Skirts in summer. Still not with heels. Heels mean it has to be a real occasion (or Halloween).
3. What do you like best about the prevailing style where you are?
It's weather- and work-appropriate. People dress for the real world here. At least, the people I'm around.
4. What frustrates you?
I would like to wear cuter/more interesting stuff to work, but I don't actually want to risk stuff I'm fond of or that was expensive (well, expensive to me).
5. Is there another place (one you've lived, visited, heard about, whatever) that better captures your idea of style?
I loved Portland. It was way more interesting and quirky. If I moved back there, I would probably start dyeing my hair again. I can be quirky in Reno because I am the minority. Does that make sense?
6. Construct a quick pie chart of the occasions for which you dress.
Soon, I promise.

Your Wardrobe

1. In three bullet points, what is the problem with your wardrobe?

Boring, lacks a definable style and weak on accessories.
2. If your wardrobe could speak, what would it say is the problem?
"Zzzzzzzz. Wait, what, you want to get dressed? Go wear the same stuff you wore the rest of the week, and leave me alone."
3. What one thing do you want your wardrobe to do more of?
Have a little more zing. I need a twist of lime in this drink, bartender.
4. What do you want people to say about your look?
That I am put-together and snazzy. As opposed to dull, haphazard, and ill-fitting.

WT Week 1 (part 1)

Agenda: Week 1

Bones: Get completely caught up on laundry you can do yourself.

Done. I have a weird love for laundry so I tend to not get behind. At all. Ever.

Breath: Choose one garment, pair of shoes, accessory, make-up item, skin-care product, or hair-care product that will ultimately belong in the Torture Device, Velveteen Rabbit, or Mystery of the Lost Shopping Trip category and make it go away now instead of waiting for its special week. If you think it best to start a donation bag or turn your old clothes into rags, do that thing -- just get something de-accessioned.
Waiting on this one: I am teetering on the edge of taking a couple of my nicest pieces of clothing that admittedly don't fit well and hardly get worn to a consignment store. But they were both expensive and I loved them when I got them and they will be tough to replace. One is an adorable blue houndstooth coat and the other is my interview suit. Neither is in the budget for replacing this go-round. They are in the spare closet to be contemplated. Out of MY closet is as good as it's going to get, right now.

Heart: Do something pampering for yourself.
Tonight: bubble bath. 'Nuff said.

Head: Find a source of clothing pictures that you enjoy looking at. It need not be a fashion magazine or current catalog. Old movies, Old Masters... doesn't matter. The idea is to immerse yourself in elements that nourish your personal style, regardless of whether the nice buyers at the nice stores are on the same page.
Working on it. Here is a blog completely devoted to analyzing our next first lady's style and fashion choices. She would not be a bad person to emulate. She's tall and has broad shoulders (skinnier than me though) and I love her casual wear style and the way she wears cardigans with everything. Makes me want to try and wear more belts. I will keep looking, but this is a current fave.

Coming tomorrow, the interview!

Yes, we did.

Let's see if we can keep this up. We elected him, now we gotta back him up. He's getting handed a shitty deck of cards and he'll need all the help he can get. We can't expect everything to suddenly be all better. However, our standing internationally just went WAY UP. Maybe we can get some of that respect back, and keep it.

(expect a WT post this evening, Wende's getting it rolling...)

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Not a bad H'ween last night, I wish I had pictures. I wasn't a mad scientist, just a cranky one. I had a lab coat and my Tina Fey glasses and a bun with a pencil through it. I consider it totally respectable for the complete lack of effort it took. Forgot my camera though, of course.

Reno likes holidays. Downtown is much more walking friendly in non-casino areas than it used to be, so most holidays are an occasion for a bar crawl (including Xmas AND Easter). H'ween means it just becomes the Zombie Bar Crawl. It's very social even if you're not a zombie. We just strolled around a lot and people-watched, mostly. But right around midnight, one of the local bbq joints pulled up right outside the bar we were in with a little trailer. Out of which they were selling ribs and pulled pork. All I can say is that is GENIUS.

And I saw at least two McCains and three Sarah Palins. Both of the McCains were dead and one of the Palins was a zombie. No Democrats though, not even a Lieberman or anything. I totally don't count the little kid trick-or-treating in his normal clothing with a Bill Clinton mask on.