Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Night Takeaways

Let's not pretend that last night was about movies. The Oscars mark the end of the fashion season for those of us who care and mean that we now have nothing to look forward to until fashion week in September. It's also about getting to watch beautiful people dressed in expensive (and uncomfortable) clothes and making your husband listen to your ongoing commentary about every minute of it from red carpet (Tim Gunn commentating!!) to midway through the show when I get bored.

Photos and opinions are everywhere so I've pared myself down to my key bullet points and a few favorite photos.

1. If I were famous and had the occasion to walk the red carpet I'm pretty sure I wouldn't talk to Ryan Seacrest. I have absolutely NO reason for this except he skeeves me out. Nothing about him seems sincere. Stop laughing- I know it's Hollywood and no one is sincere but he has more fake sincerity than most and it's creepy. Case in point: he called Sandra Bullock 'Sandy' as if they've known each other for decades. Offensive.

2. Sharon Stone rocked her look beginning to end. Fierce from the hair to the hem.



3. All Time Greats Award to: Helen Mirren because if she's made a fashion misstep in the last 10 years I missed it. Tonight the shorter hair, the dress- it's color and style, the jewels, all perfect.


4. Said it before and will bore you again- I love Helena Bonham Carter. I would give almost anything to be that disinterested in other people's opinions! She wears what she wants when she wants and I think it's fabulous.

5. Obviously, marrying Marc Anthony has not been a wise fiscal move for Jennifer Lopez- which given his (not) hot factor compared to hers leaves me wondering why the marriage happened at all. When it was Gucci print ads you could chalk it up to vanity and admire how glowy she and her progeny look. Venus razors and Loreal haircare commercials scream only one thing- I Need Money!!!! And if you were, in fact, a real actress, they're also a good indicator that your career is over.

Things I want: Colin Firth, the Cartier necklace worn by Amy Adams, and the following dresses: Halle Berry's Marchesa, Mandy Moore's Monique Lhuillier, and Celine Dion's Armani Prive (which is a big deal because her fashion batting average is not all that great). Also loved Gwyneth's earrings and Celine's necklace.




I Don't Want: the dresses on Mila Kunis, Scarlett Johansson, Marisa Tomei (she usually looks fabulous but this was blah), Cate Blanchett, and Nicole Kidman; to hear how "it is just an honor to be here" (please can someone find an opinion?!), and live hosts for the show- I'm pretty sure there's an artificial intelligence bot out there who could do the job with more aplomb.

I'm over: sequins stem to stern, little or no jewelry (it's the Oscars!!), and Christian Bale- his fashion choices, his facial hair and well, I've never liked him since American Psycho which he should have turned down.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Portland Snow

Last night it snowed in Portland and it’s kind of adorable. I’ve lived in Buffalo, Denver, and Salt Lake City so I know snow and this really doesn’t count. I’ve had to drive to work in almost 2’ when the road is nothing more than two tracks worn by other cars and the snow is up to the bottom of your car because everything stays open. Here we get less than 2” and the entire city shuts down. Schools, businesses, all government offices. Snow day!

Even though I am comfortable driving in snow and have experience with it I follow the leader here and stay home. There is absolutely nothing worse than a bunch of fools- either testosterone loaded or mommys got to get to the mall- in their SUVs driving in bad weather. Somehow they think the laws of physics don’t apply to them and that because their gas guzzling mobile is huge it has a different braking system and will magically stop on ice. Not fun if you’re the one in the Prius cautiously crossing the intersection.

I ventured out anyway because I needed some stuff at the grocery store and it is gorgeous. What you would call a perfect winter day anywhere else. Of course, the fact that it is almost March is annoying because the flowers have already begun to come up but that aside the sun is shining, the roads are already clear, and the grocery store was empty. Life is good!





Wednesday, February 23, 2011

unHappy Anniversary

I’m not sure which is worse- the remembering of a sad anniversary or when the time comes that you remember you’ve forgotten it. I’m sure Dr. Phil and any number of other positivity gurus would say the former because it means you’re not healing. For me it’s the latter because then what was simply grief morphs into guilt. Seven years ago my very dear cat Gatsby died. Ten days after his death I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis which is not surprising to anyone with the disease- a severe emotional or physical shock often precedes the diagnosis. To anyone who thinks that it is a touch melodramatic to go full blown into an incurable chronic disease over the death of a cat you can feel free to find another blog to read.

I have always owned and loved cats. I love everything about them and while I don’t mean to disparage their canine counterparts it is precisely their independent, non slobbery, no jumping barking histrionic personalities that I admire. It’s been said many times but pets often reflect their owners and I am definitely cat-like. Friendly enough but just as happy by myself and very capable of giving love and affection but needing my own time and space as well.

Gatsby was unique in that he was also a dog lover’s cat and possessed some dog-like qualities. He would sit patiently outside the bedroom door in the morning to say good morning and escort you to the kitchen for breakfast (his first, of course) and would also be sitting right inside the door when you got home from work, no motion or sound until coats and bags were put away and then he’d be around your legs making the cat noises that were the equivalent of telling you about his day. He would also fetch which was one of his greatest tricks because training a cat is not the easiest thing to do. He loved every crumpled piece of paper or small rubber golf ball that came his way. First there was the chase, then the pounce, a bit of a tussle because those things are fierce, and finally he’d come back to you, tail held high, and drop the object at your feet. To this day if I throw a piece of paper towards a wastebasket I expect to see him appear to grab it.

Our relationship was the purest I’ll ever have because he depended on me completely and in return loved me unconditionally. Without fail he was always there for me. You can’t have that with a human and I’m not sure you’d even want it. He died suddenly one night when we were all home together relaxing. I did not know you could cry that long and hard and even when I finally fell asleep he was dying in my dreams. I dreamt that I should quit breathing so much, that he was dying because I was using up his oxygen; very Freudian because he was so attuned to my every emotion and it did take a toll on him. That and the many moves, the addition of a man and a 6 year old noisy active boy to our quiet household, were simply too much. As my husband said, “He was tired. It was time for him to go.”

Even if I no longer remember the exact day it was one of the worst of my life. I will miss you forever my sweet furry funny guy.



Sunday, February 20, 2011

O Gentle Sleep

It’s with great fondness that I remember the days of my youth (which would be right up until 5 years ago) when sleep was a natural function of my body not something that needed to be catered to, coaxed, or induced.

I was always one of those people who would, no matter the mental or emotional trauma (and god knows there was drama trauma), fall soundly asleep no more than 10 minutes after my head hit the pillow. Those days feel long gone as I’m on night 5 of my latest fitful sleepfest. Going to bed used to mean just jumping in, curling up with a good book and reading until sleepy. Now while I still approach bed with pleasure there is trepidation under the surface. Will nature take her course or will I be forced to employ the mental rituals that are becoming more and more necessary to counteract the never ending noise in my head? Namely a long and varied list of mantras and affirmations that are supposed to soothe and focus my mind thereby lulling it into sleep.

Mantra Me: The right job will come along when I am ready
Thinking Me: Is ‘right’ the best word? Or should it be perfect?
Mantra Me: The right job will be perfect
Thinking Me: Should I include something about it being part-time?
Mantra Me: Again, it’s implied in the word right
Thinking Me: What about pay and benefits? Do you really think that’s covered in ‘right’? Plenty of people think minimum wage is right.
Mantra Me: Stifled groan. Deep sigh. OK, OK, move on from the job thing. You’ve let the universe know what you want
Thinking Me: But have I? Do I even know? I think I only know what I don’t want and if there’s one thing I learned from The Secret it’s positive intention. If you focus on what you don’t want that’s all you’ll get.
Mantra Me: You need to shut up now.
Thinking Me: Is job even the most important thing? How about something about my health? Or husband? Or his job?
Mantra Me: Dear God, if he loses his job we are totally screwed. Is that likely? Should that be my focus with a new mantra for him?
Thinking Me: How much longer before I can take half a klonopin?

To save time and your sanity this inner conversation cycles itself from my finding work to my finding a purpose in life to the future of my health and why MS sucks so much to family issues to what am I going to have for lunch tomorrow. All with mantra me and thinking me going at it and sometimes joined by authoritarian me who whose only words are: shut up shut up shut up, fall asleep fall asleep fall asleep….

So is sleep a friend or foe for you? Any rituals you'd care to share?

Friday, February 18, 2011

What I’m Not Doing Now

Watching Portandia. This has nothing to do with being offended as a Portlander because we’ve only been here two years and they are a wild and wacky people. For instance, in the rest of the United States it is called a stop sign but in Portland it is a ‘stop and contemplate’ sign. Moving through the intersection does not appear to be a goal. In fact, they’ll gladly wave you through even if they have the right of way, something which makes my husband apoplectic and makes me glad he doesn’t carry a gun in the car since we left Utah.

I’ve stopped watching because they crossed the line from campy to stupid mid-episode two. Things are funny up to a point but if you use humor as a cudgel it doesn’t work (unless of course you use the cudgel to hit some guy in the nads and then that is the funniest damn thing ever- even guys laugh). The chicken bit in the restaurant? Funny. Wanting to know its name and the farm? Funny. Going to the farm and ending up in a cult? Stupid. It’s weird enough that Portlanders want to know where their food came from so leave it at that.

I’m also more than a little tired of (and a bit suspicious about) Fred Armisen in drag. He’s not attractive as a man and clown makeup makes him looks creepy not funny. Which, given how much he seems to like doing it, is in and of itself creepy.

Stupid and creepy- I had to accept it in my prom date but not in my comedy TV.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NYC Fashion Week

Thankfully I was able to rally from my Oprah induced ennui in time to enjoy fashion week in NYC. By that I mean nothing more than hours spent hunched over my computer looking at innumerable slides on style.com. If I had actually ever gotten to go to fashion week I would not be sitting in Portland, Oregon in sweatpants and one of my husband’s golf fleece pullovers; I’d be giving Anna Wintour a run for her money. In fact, being in the fashion editor world was such a long cherished dream of mine that I wrote a college paper about it. If I ever get drunk enough maybe I’ll post it here for laughs.

Anyway, I’m still a bit emotional over Galliano’s coup in Paris so rather than recap my favorite looks from the runway I’m going to indulge in one of my favorite fantasies (this one does not involve George Clooney in Lake Como). I am a fabulously wealthy, glamorous, jet setter with at least one Town & Country cover to my name. Of all the couturiers/designers clamoring to dress me who would I choose? (This is the sort of mental exercise that can mean the difference between that second glass of wine with a Xanax or without.)

Top 6 (because 5 is pedestrian):

Carolina Herrera- timeless, classic elegance. One of those designers who makes women look beautiful but not contrived. Adore her work.

             


Ralph Rucci- I saw Ralph Rucci: A Designer and his House  (brief youtube clip- enough to give you a taste of his genius) a year ago and fell in love. He is a true artist and to be able to own even a single piece created by him would be swoon inducing. OK, ‘cash in the 401K and plan on ending your years in a state funded nursing home just to own one dress’ inducing.


              

 Oscar de la Renta- because it is Oscar de la Renta and when you move in the circles I do he is the gold standard. When I lunch, shop, or sit on charity committees I don’t want to look like some 20-something tartlet who has more money than taste. I want elegance and refinement and by God, I want everyone to know it’s de la Renta!

                   

Chanel- would have loved it to be Coco but she was gone by the time I knew what a Chanel suit was. Lagerfeld does an admirable job interpreting her spirit while reinvigorating it but he does skew young for me. A mesh top and boy shorts? Even if they’re silk shantung- not going to happen. I do better when he reins it in (like this dress from Spring 2011 and the one worn by Keira Knightley both of which are beyond beyond).


Michael Kors- it has nothing to do with Project Runway. His looks are accessible and female friendly but also with a wonderful understanding of color and texture. Last year’s fall line was one of my favorites. He would be my daywear go-to guy.

                   

Giorgio Armani- often more stark than I prefer (and a big fan of the gray family which is not a good option for me) but his pants and jackets have a sleek softness and flatter so many figures that I would need to own a couple for lunching.
  

So who would YOU choose and why?

And if you are one of these designers and you’ve come across this post after googling your name (you know you do) I am available if you need a new muse. I have most of the prerequisites- loads of free time, adore anything having to do with fashion, love  champagne and have strong sycophantic tendencies. I just can’t do the cigarette thing but honestly, you all need to let that go (it ages you).

p.s sorry for the photo formatting. I've corrected it numerous times in editing but some simply won't align. The photos are still gorgeous, OK?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oprah Makes Me Tired

One of my favorite rewards for braving the crowds at CostCo is their amazing $1.50 hotdog and a soda paired with whatever magazine I've purchased at 30% off (at which point you have to purchase at least one). More often then not that magazine is Oprah (and/or InStyle).

(And no, I don't want to hear from anyone about 'do you know what is in a hotdog?'. I do, I don't care, and it's not the focus of this post so move on.)

The last several issues of the magazine have been titled: What's Your True Calling?, What's Your Next Chapter?, and now Imagine!. I know she wants to be inspirational and that she herself beat the odds with little or no help from anyone to get where she is and I DO respect that. It just makes me really really tired. I read the columns by earnest authors, take the quizzes, and read the articles about women who believed in themselves and became millionaires without having to sell their souls (or sleep with a skeevy old dude like some of the Real Housewives).

I've made a vision board, chanted affirmations as I drove to work, expressed gratitude to the universe every night before falling asleep, asked and believed and so far there’s been no great awakening of knowing what is my purpose in life. An Aha moment for me is finding a box of cookies in the pantry when I thought we were out.

I’m left feeling decidedly un-Oprah like. I should want to be: fighting to find solutions to climate change, working in the gulf  cleaning oil drenched wildlife, or helping to empower little girls so they don’t end up like Lindsey Lohan or on Teen Moms. Instead, all I really want is a nice little part-time job that pays reasonably well where my degree and experience will be respected and appreciated. That, and to have health benefits, be financially secure, and travel to Tuscany/Costa Rica/Paris before I need a walker. I'm not sure any of those count as a purpose but they're all I've come up with so far.

So I may have to take a break because I'm pretty sure I can't absorb anymore Oprah-isms without starting to hate myself. Oprah, you keep doing what you do but I need a nap.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Christian Dior Couture Spring 2011

I don’t know how I could have missed this; there is no excuse whatsoever (not even making adorable mini cupcakes) so now I will shut up and do no more than pay homage to John Galliano’s Spring 2011 Christian Dior show two weeks ago.

OK, I have to say a few things. While I acknowledge Galliano as a consummate showman it is just that which has generally made his fashion less interesting to me. As a statement, outrageous and provocative, always, but anything that could be worn off the runway- even by society women or celebrities- not so much.

For this collection he returned to the roots of the house of Dior and as it was a period that first made me love fashion I admit my bias. It was a time after much deprivation,  hardship and horror and Dior was the first in the fashion world to say "enough!" and bring back women's figures, elegance, and glamour. Galliano’s reinterpretation of these looks is masterful, sexy, and charming. The fabrics, layering, construction, and embroidery are all incredible and while there is no hope that I will ever own one, these are dresses made to be worn and loved. Bravo.








Saturday, February 5, 2011

Decorating

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. - William Morris

I came across this recently in a magazine and before you ask yourself why I’m looking to a cigarette company or Hollywood talent agency for a philosophy of living google William Morris. He’s a famous British designer and poet and you really ought to read more.

Now that we’re clear on provenance here’s the reason I’m going to embrace his philosophy this year (aside from the crass fact that I no longer get a paycheck). Events at the holidays revealed a previously undetected flaw in my personality. Our story begins in Utah where it is virtually impossible to live without getting at least partially sucked into the ‘crafting’ movement (it is the birthplace of scrapbooking as a verb after all). My outlet was Christmas- namely because I could go to the after Christmas sales at various stores like JoAnn Fabrics and get an entire roll of red satin wire edged ribbon for $1.50. And fake greens for banisters and mantels and ceramic Mr & Mrs. Snowman napkin holders you could paint to match your napkins. Everything was on sale and for $30 I could walk out with a trunk filled with lights, ribbons, candles, fabric, bells, and all other manner of holiday gew gaws. All of which would apparently remain packed in the plastic monster tote from the time I bought it until being unearthed after living in Portland for 2 ½ years.

It would be lovely if the moral of this story was that I decorated our house inside and out to the joy of all around us (except my husband who will only go so far as to buy the tree the day before Christmas and begin the campaign to take it down the day after) but if that were the case I wouldn’t need William Morris telling me to appreciate what I have now would I? (try and keep up)

What I have done is take Mr. Morris’ words to heart and refrain from buying anymore things I think I love or can use until I look carefully at what I already own. Result one: I found an entire box of tapers (including the shiny green ones I needed for Christmas but could not find) and in them were these lovely lightly scented ones with their own sterling silver holders. So simple and yet I was happy the moment I saw them again. God bless Molten Brown for making some of the most beautifully scented products in the world.



Result two: we are making a concerted effort to hang all the pictures etc. we own. The first to go up was this whimsical piece from an artist in Buffalo that was a wedding present from a dear friend. We hung it on the wall right outside our bedroom because it has an almost talismanic feel (in a sweet not creepy way). Everyone is tucked snugly in and all is well in the world- but it’s still a little quirky outside.



I hope Mr. Morris would approve because I feel better already.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Easy Bake

For Christmas I asked for only one thing- a Bella Cucina mini cupcake maker. For those of you thinking I’m a gift weenie I am so demanding of my husband the rest of the year it feels a bit over the top (even for me) to expect a gift as well. Anyway, my kind mother (who is also a sugar addict and can relate) gave me one. I’m sure you’ve already figured out the thought process behind these little devices. It’s the same one that has lined the pockets of every cookie and candy manufacturer in the U.S. and caused the waistline expansion of all sedentary gluttonous Americans. “It’s smaller so I can eat more and still be eating less than a regular cookie/candy bar!” Uh huh…



Anyway, I have always loved cupcakes probably because while I love cake it is impossible to make and eat an entire one when you are single which were my most productive baking years. After day 5 when the texture has gone from moist to soggy, the middle is caving in and the frosting is sliding off on the plate even a junkie is a bit turned off. But a cupcake…perfection! You can bake a full batch, freeze half and then dole them out as needed (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Frost and eat!

Yesterday afternoon ( remember that) I decided to test my new friend (I know it’s almost February but I’ve been busy being unemployed). I was not so ambitious as to make my own batter despite having checked out 3 books on cupcake/frosting recipes. I used good old Betty Crocker Triple Fudge cake mix.

Here is when it becomes clear why I changed my major from economics to English after only one semester. English had no math requirement. I don’t ‘do’ math unless it involves money. I can calculate percentage off and sales tax and know exactly what something is going to cost me. I can also balance the hell out of my checkbook but beyond that I’ve created a math phobia for myself. I won’t even try. Don’t want to hear about it.

A standard box of cake mix produces 3 cups of batter. A mini cupcake maker has 7 molds that hold 1T of batter then bakes them for 10 mins. YOU do the math because it never occurred to me. In fact just reading this is giving me the same headache I had for 2 years in highschool math class.

Obviously, some of this batter needed to be eaten without baking or I’d still be in the kitchen so I stepped up and did what I needed to do. And don’t make a face about eating raw eggs because I’ve gotten this far in life and survived and I think it’s bullshit. And no, salmonella has not been shown to cause MS so don’t go there either.

Bottom line: here is just one of my little cuties (I don’t always frost) and my next foray will be using one of the many yummy and appropriately scaled recipes that comes with the cupcake maker.



p.s. I will get better with the photos and fancy effects. I'm a very good photographer so it's most likely the equipment and I need a new camera........
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